Pixel Scroll 10/11/21 The Pixel Went Down To Georgia, He Was Looking For A Scroll To Steal, He Was Way Behind, He Was Fifth

(1) INDIGENOUS HERITAGE IN HORROR. The Horror Writers Association blog features Owl Goingback, a three-time Bram Stoker Award Winner, receiving the award for Lifetime Achievement, Novel, and First Novel. “Interview with Owl Goingback”.

Do you make a conscious effort to include indigenous characters and themes in your writing and if so, what do you want to portray?

Yes. I’ve used indigenous characters in most of my books and stories, because I wanted to share a culture rich in history, folklore, and ceremony, and often very misunderstood. I also wanted to show that native people of this country have a different way of looking at things than people whose ancestors came from other parts of the world. Like the traditional oral storytellers of my people, I wanted to create stories that were enjoyable while weaving a bit of teaching into the narrative. That way I’m educating in addition to entertaining.

I guess I’ve done a good job of weaving teaching elements into my stories, because my books are being used in an eight-week educational program for youthful offenders at the Orange County Corrections Facility in Orlando, Florida. The young inmates get to read a novel featuring monsters and mayhem, and scenes of bloody carnage, while subconsciously being reminded to listen to their elders and respect Mother Earth.

(2) BECKY CHAMBERS Q&A. Vox’s Emily VanDerWerff hears from “Becky Chambers on why the best aliens are just a little bit human”.

You’re really good at designing non-human species. They’re just recognizable enough for us to be like, “Oh, I understand the emotions and the intellect going on here,” but also just alien enough for us to be like, “That’s really different.”

One of my favorite things to do on any project is invent aliens. I always start with the caveat of: We have to have a point of entry. We have to be able to relate to them on some human level. Do the aliens in Wayfarers resemble anything like what I think actual extraterrestrial life is like? No, of course not. But you have to be able to emotionally connect with them. And I don’t know that we could [immediately do that] with other species out there in the universe that exists.But from there, we’re gonna get weird. I start with biology first. I look at the physicality. I look at how they are different from us. I always start with a particular trait. For example, the Aeluons, one of the big alien species in Wayfarers, communicate through the chromatophore patches on their cheeks. That starts with a real-world inspiration — squid and octopus.

I take that and blow it up to a civilization level. If color is your primary mode of communication, how does that affect your art? How does that affect your architecture, the way you dress, the sorts of technology you have? And how do you relate to other species, especially if they have different ideas about what color means or just use it as a decoration? There’s a million questions you can ask with just that one element. Everything else comes from there….

(3) F&SF COVER. The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction’s Nov/Dec 2021 cover art by Maurizio Manzieri illustrates “Broad Dutty Water” by Nalo Hopkinson. Publisher Gordon Van Gelder says, “The issue has just been printed and will be distributed soon.”

(4) ORDER IN THE COURT. Every so often someone sends me a link to a stfnal t-shirt, and if I like it well enough I run it in the Scroll. Which is always promptly greeted by fan-lawyering comments to the effect “I hope they have the rights to that art” or “I looked that up and its copyright hasn’t expired OMG!” Well, there’s no stopping that, however, after yesterday’s response to Out of Print’s Foundation unisex book t-shirt I contacted the company to inquire if they had the rights. Here’s their reply:

Thank you for your interest in Out of Print. We work with the Estate of Isaac Asimov (Asimov Holding LLC) and the Estate of both respective artists for each book cover. Please do not hesitate to contact us if you have any other questions. 

So please step it back down to Defcon 770.

(5) T-PARTY. Boskone 59 will be returning to an in-person convention with a hybrid option. The Boston con will run from February 18-20, 2022. This weekend they announced their current Covid-related attendance requirements.

The following policies were just approved at today’s Boskone and NESFA meetings:

  1. [Boskone] Attendees must be vaccinated and show proof of vaccination or have tested negative with a PCR test taken February 15, 12:01 am or later and before the convention. There are no exceptions.
  2. All humans 2 years old or older [attending Boskone] must wear a mask in convention spaces (including open parties) at all times, except when eating or drinking in designated food and drink spaces. There are no exceptions.

(6) MORRISON Q&A. At Altered Instinct, Stephen Hunt invites fans to “Meet Diane Morrison, author of A Few Good Elves”.

Without spoilers, what was one of your favourite moments of the story to write? What was it that made you enjoy that section so much? 

The Aces High obstacle course, hands-down, was the most fun in this book! The protagonist must successfully navigate an obstacle course in an asteroid field like a slalom race to qualify for entry into an advanced Star-Pilot’s school. It’s full of raw action, but unlike many action scenes in the story, there’s no violence involved. It’s a chance for the reader to see starfaring through a Pilot’s eyes, with excitement and joy. Describing the different challenges, and how Shaundar deals with them, not only let me really buckle down into how the universe works, but it let me show you a lot of important things about Shaundar as a character. It was a glorious moment.

(7) BRIANNA WU ENGAGED IN DEVELOPING TV SERIES. Deadline reports, “Fictional Gamergate Series In The Works From Mind Riot Entertainment & Video Games Developer Brianna Wu”.

Mind Riot Entertainment will work with journalist, game developer and computer programmer Brianna Wu for Gamergate, a series about her experience as a critic and target of the notorious 2014 online harassment campaign, for which the studio has optioned life rights.

The 2014 Gamergate online campaign ignited a firestorm for its targeting of women in the gaming industry which laid the foundation for current issues of disinformation and hate. Before QAnon, Covid-19 conspiracists and the January 6th insurrection, there was Gamergate. Wu was among the targeted women, which also included Zoë Quinn and Anita Sarkeesian.

… The series will explore the origins of the widespread intimidation campaign from the perspective of multiple, fictional people in the game industry – from executives to journalists and indie developers.

Gamergate is co-created and co-written by Wu and J. Brad Wilke (Camel Spiders), and will be produced by Mind Riot Entertainment’s Jonathan Keasey (Parallel) and Jeremy J. Dodd (One Nation Under Earl).

… [Wu said:] “We’re not going to retread the same story told in thousands of news stories from outlets such as the New York Times and Washington Post, plus multiple documentaries like GTFO. Our series will focus on new, fictional people within the industry reacting to a horrific situation. By explaining how they were unable to stop the video game industry from being hijacked by the lunatic fringe – we can show how the tactics of Gamergate were the same ones that led to tragedies like Christchurch and January 6th”…

Keasey added: “Working with Brianna is a huge score for us. Based in Seattle, one of the country’s meccas for gaming, we’ve been wanting to shed light on this subject matter for a while and are honored that Brianna will be co-writing the series alongside Brad.”

(8) 007 PLUS 007 EQUALS THREE HOURS. Leonard Maltin finds that in Daniel Craig’s last outing as 007, there’s “Plenty Of Time To Die: The New James Bond Movie”.

The caretakers of the Intellectual Property known as James Bond, knowing that their newest effort would be the last one to star Daniel Craig, decided to spare no expense—or footage—to make this an “epic” entry in the long-running series. The result is a lavish piece of entertainment that ought to please any 007 fan. My only complaint is that there’s just too much of it. Any film that asks its audience to sit still and pay attention for nearly 3 hours had better have a damn good reason. This one doesn’t….

(9) NO PLACE LIKE HOME. Discovery’s lead actress gets profiled by her home state news site: “Alabama’s Sonequa Martin-Green rules Season 4 trailer for ‘Star Trek: Discovery’” at AL.com.

…In the trailer for Season 4, Martin-Green’s character and her crew are faced with a mysterious and deadly space anomaly.

“Today, we seek to understand a threat like none our galaxy has faced before,” Martin-Green says in the trailer. “With so much at stake, countless lives, futures … Once we enter the anomaly, we are going where no one has gone before.”

That’s a direct pull, of course, from the voice-over introduction to the original “Star Trek” series, an iconic TV program that first aired in the 1960s and spawned an entire universe of sci-fi content. As Burnham, Martin-Green is the first Black woman to have the lead role in a “Star Trek” series….

(10) MEMORY LANE.

  • 1999 – Twenty-two years this Autumn, the Baen Free Library, which was founded by writer Eric Flint and Baen Books publisher Jim Baen. opened for business. (Accounts differ on the actual date. And really it doesn’t matter that much, does it?) Jim Baen considered it an experiment in the field of intellectual property and copyright whereby the giving away of free books would increase the sale of other books sold by that publisher. Currently Baen Ebooks, as it’s now called, sells individual e-books, a subscription-based e-book program and access to galleys of forthcoming publications. 

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born October 11, 1940 Caroline John. Liz Shaw, companion to the Third Doctor. Shaw was a brilliant scientist, unusual for a companion. She returned for The Five Doctors. And she would reprise her character in the Big Finish audio works. Later she played the role of Laura Lyons in the BBC adaptation of The Hound of the Baskervilles, opposite Tom Baker as Holmes. (Died 2012.)
  • Born October 11, 1944 Patrick Parrinder, 77. I’ve a soft spot for academics who plow our fields. This one settled upon H. G. Wells starting with H. G. Wells and H. G. Wells: The Critical Heritage nearly forty years ago all the way to H. G. Wells’s Perennial Time Machine that he recently wrote with Danièle Chatelain and George E. Slusser. 
  • Born October 11, 1960 Nicola Bryant, 61. Well known for her role as Perpugilliam “Peri” Brown, a companion to both the Fifth and Sixth Doctors. She also worked in “The Two Doctors” story so she appeared with the Second Doctor as well. Of course she’s done Big Finish Doctor Who audio dramas. Like so many, many genre performers, she shows up in the video Trek fan fiction playing Lana in Star Trek Continues.
  • Born October 11, 1964 Michael J. Nelson, 57. Best known for his work on Mystery Science Theater. He was the head writer of the series for most of the show’s original eleven-year run, and spent half of that time as the on-air host. Bad genre films were a favorite target of his and his companions. 
  • Born October 11, 1965 Sean Patrick Flanery, 56. I really do think that his best work was on The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles and the films that followed. It certainly wasn’t as Bobby Dagen in Saw: The Final Chapter, a film best forgotten. (It gets a forty-one percent rating among audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes, much better than I expected.) He appeared as Jake Greyman in Demon Hunter, another low budget horror film, and as John in The Evil Within. I see a pattern…
  • Born October 11, 1972 Claudia Black, 49. Best remembered for being Aeryn Sun in Farscape, Vala Mal Doran in Stargate SG-1 and Sharon “Shazza” Montgomery in Pitch Black. She also had a recurring role as Dahlia in The Originals and starred as Dr. Sabine Lommers in the Containment series. 
  • Born October 11, 1972 Nir Yaniv, 49. Author, editor, musician, and filmmaker.  He founded a webzine for the Israeli Society for Science Fiction & Fantasy.  Currently, he’s the chief editor of Chalomot Be’aspamia, Israel’s only professionally printed genre magazine. His short fiction has appeared in Weird TalesApex Magazine and The Best of World SF. He co-wrote The Tel Aviv Dossier with Lavie Tidhar. 
  • Born October 11, 1976 Emily Deschanel, 45. Temperance “Bones” Brennan in Bones which crossed over with Sleepy Hollow twice (she visited the latter once) and she had a bit part on Spider-Man 2. More notably she was Pam Asbury in Stephen King’s Rose Red series. Actually the forensic science on Bones is genre, isn’t it? 

(12) COMICS SECTION.

  • Close to Home shows why astronauts should have been alerted by the fiddle playing cat.
  • Dork Tower, in “Foundation’s Edgy,” is skeptical that fans really want to watch an absolutely faithful adaptation of Asimov’s trilogy. (“I do not agree with the views expressed in this comic,” says Lise Andreasen.)

(13) PHOTOS FROM NY COMIC CON. Gizmodo has a slide show of the “Best Cosplay NYCC 2021”. Daniel Dern says his favorite is “Bicycleb Loki Variant”.

(14) AUTOGRAPHED FANZINE RARITY. Bidding ends October 14 on The Gary Munson Collection of Horror and Fantasy Rare Books Auction at Heritage Auctions. One fascinating item is Ray Palmer’s personal, bound copy of Cosmos – The Serial Novel, produced in the early Thirties with seventeen chapters by seventeen different authors. Installments ran in the fanzine Science Fiction Digest between July, 1933 and January, 1935. It was a round-robin novel with each chapter by a different author (one a Palmer pseudonym). Palmer got sixteen “Masters of Science Fiction” to write successive chapters of the story, “using each other’s unique characters, worlds, and conflicts to build an adventure that spans galaxies.” Each author has autographed a page in the volume.

  • Chapter 1 – Faster Than Light by Ralph Milne Farley – July, 1933
  • Chapter 2 – The Emigrants by David H. Keller, M.D. – August, 1933
  • Chapter 3 – Callisto’s Children by Arthur J. Burks – September, 1933
  • Chapter 4 – The Murderer From Mars by Bob Olsen – September, 1933
  • Chapter 5 – Tyrants of Saturn by Francis Flagg – October, 1933
  • Chapter 6 – Interference on Luna by John W. Campbell – November, 1933
  • Chapter 7 – Son of the Trident by Rae Winters [Pseudonym of Raymond A. Palmer] – December, 1933
  • Chapter 8 – Volunteers From Venus by Otis Adelbert Kline and E. Hoffman Price – January, 1934
  • Chapter 9 – Menace of the Automaton by Abner J. Gelula – February, 1934
  • Chapter 10 – Conference at Copernicus by Raymond A. Palmer – March, 1934
  • Chapter 11 – The Last Poet and the Robots by A. Merritt – April, 1934
  • Chapter 12 – At the Crater’s Core by J. Harvey Haggard – May-June 1934
  • Chapter 13 – What a Course! by Edward E. Smith, Ph.D. – July, 1934
  • Chapter 14 – The Fate of the Neptunians by P. Schuyler Miller – August, 1934
  • Chapter 15 – The Horde of Elo Hava by L. A. Eshbach – September, 1934
  • Chapter 16 – Lost in Alien Dimensions by Eando Binder – October-November, 1934
  • Chapter 17 – Armageddon in Space by Edmond Hamilton – December, 1934-January, 1935

(15) ASK THE PANEL. QI is a BBC comedy panel show with Sandi Toksvig and Alan Davies, where panelists get points for being interesting. Here’s a recently posted excerpt from a show a couple years old, BUT, there’s an equation! “When Is The Best Time For Interstellar Travel?”

(16) SWORN-IN. Paul Weimer discusses his latest read: “Microreview: When the Goddess Wakes by Howard Andrew Jones” at Nerds of a Feather.

Howard Andrew Jones Ring-Sworn Trilogy has been a recent highlight and hallmark of positivist heroic epic fantasy. In strong contrast to grimdark, morally grey epic fantasy that has long been a dominant note, the Ring-Sworn Trilogy has opted for the path of less ambiguous protagonists and antagonists, and highlighting and emphasizing the importance, and effectiveness of positive action and standing up for one’s beliefs, family, and country.  All of this takes place in a richly created multiverse….

(17) VICIOUS CYCLE. [Item by Ben Bird Person.] Artist Martha Womersley did this piece based on a vinyl toy for the 1963 movie Matango or Attack of the Mushroom People

(18) ALLEY OOPS. Once again I came across an ad for the Wizard AlleyWorld Bookshelf Insert Box, which I think is a clever little thing (although the ad’s choice to put it on a shelf full of thriller novels seems tone-deaf.)

(19) AMBITIOUS HALLOWEEN DECORATIONS. Laughing Squid draws our attention to this “Halloween Light Show Featuring the Final Scene of ‘The Matrix’ and Rage Against the Machine’s ‘Wake Up’” in Tracy, CA that runs a couple hours a night during October. The schedule is available on Facebook. Or if that’s too far to drive, here’s a video of the display:

VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] The Death and Return of Superman/Long Live Superman on YouTube is a 2019 documentary, written by Scott McCulloch and directed by Alexander Gray, which is connected with the publication of the thousandth issue of Action Comics.  As DC publisher Dan DiDio notes, if “Batman comes into a bar, everyone wants to run and hide.  If Superman comes into a bar, you want to buy him a drink.”

This documentary is worth seeing if you want to see great comics creators such as Denny O’Neil, Neal Adams, and Louise Simonson talk about what Superman means to them.  This works for me, but it might not work for you.  The existence of Zack Snyder’s evil Superman is thankfully ignored.

Best bit of trivia: superheroes in 1940 were known as “long johns characters.”

[Thanks to Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Ben Bird Person, Gordon Van Gelder, Daniel Dern, Lise Andreasen, Brown Robin, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Andrew Porter  for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Miles Carter.]

AudioFile Magazine’s Best New Sci-Fi & Fantasy Audiobooks Fall 2021

Six suggestions from AudioFile Magazine of new and classic sff audiobooks for fans to enjoy this Fall.

AFTERMATH

  • by LeVar Burton | Read by LeVar Burton
  • [Hachette Audio | 10 hrs.]

Levar Burton’s sonorous and soothing narration makes his 1997 novel, with a recent update, engaging because many of his predictions have come true. Burton is best known for playing Lt. Cmdr. Geordi La Forge on “Star Trek: The Next Generation” and for hosting the PBS program “Reading Rainbow.” His sincere and forthright voice has just a bit more bass now as he ages. The story predicts a technological breakthrough that gives users extraordinary healing power, along with telepathic abilities. Burton portrays his characters with earnestness, and uses his acting and hosting experience to relate directly to listeners. This audiobook is both entertaining and uplifting.

THE WITNESS FOR THE DEAD

  • by Katherine Addison | Read by Liam Gerrard
  • [Macmillan Audio | 8.25 hrs.]

Liam Gerrard narrates a fantasy-mystery set in the world of THE GOBLIN EMPEROR. Thara Celehar, a former member of court, goes about his business as a Witness for the Dead in a far-flung province. A series of seemingly unconnected deaths causes Celehar to once again use his skills to uncover the truth. As the puzzle of the deaths slowly resolves, Gerrard tightens his narrative pace, heightening the sense of urgency as the solution is revealed. While this story is related to a previous volume, it also stands fully on its own.

VAGRANT QUEEN I: The Bezoar of Kings

  • by Magdalene Visaggio, Jason Smith | Read by Nanette Savard and a Full Cast
  • Winner of AudioFile Earphones Award
  • [GraphicAudio | 2 hrs.]

Narrator Nanette Savard and an ensemble of voice actors skillfully create a universe in which a queen flees from villains who fear she will try to reclaim her throne. Thanks to the wonderful narration, it’s easy to get lost in the adventure. No-nonsense Queen Elida teams up with Isaac, a cocky rebel from the Han Solo School of Rogues, to steal a mind-control device from a bad guy. The full cast and generous sound effects bring the Vagrant Queen saga to life.

THE GALAXY, AND THE GROUND WITHIN

  • by Becky Chambers | Read by Rachel Dulude
  • Winner of AudioFile Earphones Award
  • [Harper Audio | 10 hrs.]

The fourth installment in the Wayfarers series brings listeners on a quiet space adventure. Narrator Rachel Dulude voices the mismatched entirely nonhuman crews of several spaceships who are stranded by a telecommunications accident on a remote planet. These widely varying species of sapients learn to relate to each other in bold new ways through their shared needs. Dulude moves between the robotic tones of a mechanical talk box, the bubbly excitement of a fluffy preteen quadruped, the clipped speech of an insectoid, and more.

THE CONJURING OF ZOTH-AVAREX

  • by K.R.R. Lockhaven | Read by Jay Spaulding
  • Winner of AudioFile Earphones Award
  • [K.R.R. Lockhaven | 7.5 hrs.]

Narrator Jay Spaulding gives a hilarious performance of this fantasy in which a dragon attempts to reign over Seattle. The Site is a magic location hidden away and overseen by the U.S. Government. On Harris Reed’s first day at his new job there, his first project—the summoning of a dragon—goes awry. Spaulding nails the delivery of every joke and pun. Comical allusions, wisecracks, and well-crafted jokes abound in Spaulding’s masterful performance. 

SPACE: 1999

  • by Andrew Smith, Anthony Terpiloff, Elizabeth Barrows| Read by Mark Bonnar, Maria Teresa Creasey
  • Winner of AudioFile Earphones Award
  • [Big Finish | 3.75 hrs. Only Available here: https://www.bigfinish.com/hubs/v/space-1999]

A full cast narrates a trio of adventures featuring the Moon Base Alpha crew as they attempt to survive after being transported across space. First, the Alphans investigate a signal from a nearby planet, then a distant winter planet calls to the crew, and, finally, a perfect paradise offers a temporary respite. Dramatic scenes are filled with sound effects and music. Fans of the original Star Trek series will be pulled in by the engaging personalities and stellar writing.

SOULSTAR

  • by C.L. Polk | Read by Robin Miles
  • Winner of AudioFile Earphones Award
  • [Recorded Books | 12.25 hrs.]

Narrator Robin Miles delivers the profound conclusion to The Kingston Cycle. Miles portrays Robin Thorpe, who has always been aware of the injustice and inequality that surround her and the other citizens of Aeland. As Thorpe takes on a new role, Miles’s narration becomes more powerful and commanding, perfectly illustrating Thorpe’s path to leadership. Miles’s compelling narration will resonate long after the story ends, offering both hope and inspiration.

RULE OF COOL

  • by Matthew Siege| Read by Felicia Day
  • Winner of AudioFile Earphones Award
  • [Podium Audio | 12.5 hrs.]

Felicia Day narrates a sidesplitting literary RPG told from the perspective of the story’s monsters. Raze is a gearblin—a mix of goblin and gremlin—in a game in which the players carry out quests. Using a special code, Raze casts aside her chains and gathers other monsters to face down the game’s so-called heroes. Day is perfection as the strong-willed, vivacious Raze. The story balances the game mechanics of the genre with a compelling narrative that is brimming with heart.


“Best New Sci-Fi & Fantasy Audiobooks Fall 2021” was curated by AudioFile. AudioFile is an independent source of audiobook reviews and recommendations with a clear focus on the performance and listening experience. AudioFile Earphones Awards are given to exceptional audiobooks.

Pixel Scroll 9/16/21 50 Shades Of Scrollcraftian Slashfic

(1) A HEART, HAS CHAMBERS. [Item by Olav Rokne.] In their latest edition, WIRED magazine profiles Becky Chambers and talks about both the philosophical underpinning of her writing, and the context in which she’s publishing. The article may be too much of a hagiography for some, but it does provide some insights into what makes her work appealing. “Is Becky Chambers the Ultimate Hope for Science Fiction?”

In a world numbed by cynicisms and divisions, Chambers’ stories are intended to repair—to warm up our insides and restore feeling. So you might say that Chambers is, herself, the tea of our times, a soothing soothsayer whose well-meaning characters act out a fragrant, curative optimism.

(2) THAT’S SHAT. In “William Shatner Reviews Impressions of WIlliam Shatner” on YouTube, Shat reviews impressions of him for Vanity Fair, including a teenager, Jim Carrey, and Bill Nye before he became The Science Guy.

(3) LATINX. Horror Writers Association Blog kicks off its “Latinx Horror” theme in an “Interview with E. Reyes”.

How do you feel the Latinx community has been represented thus far in the genre and what hopes do you have for representation in the genre going forward?

I feel like the Latinx community has finally knocked down that door and we are now being seen. I see more Latinx voices in horror emerging and I will be right there with them.

Who are some of our favorite Latinx characters in horror?

I need to expand more on my Latinx horror reading and viewing, but I’ll say that Robert Rodriguez directed one of my favorite horror movies ever: From Dusk Till Dawn (1996), and it has very awesome Latinx characters in it.

(4) RETURNING TO A FAVORITE. At The Endless Bookshelf, Henry Wessells rereads “Little, Big by John Crowley”.

John Crowley’s Little, Big is a book which I have read more times than I can count. It is also in that rare category of books which I give away (sometimes even the copy in my hand). Readers of the Endless Bookshelf will have seen allusions to my readings over the years (Appraisal at Edgewood, the summer of 2007, or Chapter XIV in A Conversation larger than the Universe or  “Strange Enough to Be Remembered Forever”). Everything which Hazlitt enumerates applies to re-readings of Little, Big. This year, when I picked up the novel, I paid attention to recurrences of words and parallels. I don’t say repetitions or doublings because the words often function — that is to say, carry meaning — in a new way when they return to the surface later in the book….

(5) JEOPARDY! Variety says that with Mike Richards out, the Jeopardy! hosting gig will be divided between Mayim Bialik and Ken Jennings.

…Bialik will take over hosting duties for the first couple weeks, starting Sept. 20 and running through Nov. 5. She and Jennings will then trade off as their schedules allow. The two of them will tape enough episodes to get “Jeopardy!” through the end of the year….

(6) QED. James Davis Nicoll’s latest Tor.com hors d’ouerve is “I Sing the Body Electric: 5 SF Works About Sex and Technology”.

Unsurprisingly for a species that once dispatched to the stars at great expense a nude selfie with directions to its home, addressed “To Whom It May Concern”, a large fraction of humans (although not all) has an intense, abiding interest in sex. Consequently, any technology that can assist in the quest for or enhancement of sex enjoys a tremendous advantage over technologies lacking such applications.…

Five books later, Nicoll points out –

(It may seem like there’s a pattern here and there is. Anyone who wants to deny conscious partners autonomy provides a demonstration of why autonomy is needed.)

(7) CLASSIC FRANK HERBERT INTERVIEW. [Item by Soon Lee.] I know all the current interest is in the Denis Villeneuve version of Dune, but as I was noodling around, I stumbled across this 1969 Frank Herbert interview where he talks to Willis E. McNelly about the origins of Dune.  Interviewer Willis E. McNelly later wrote the Dune Encyclopedia. It’s a whopping 80 minutes long but fascinating for anyone who is a fan as it is a wide-ranging conversation exploring ecology, sustainability, religion, politics and powers among others. I haven’t finished listening to me but Beverly Herbert also appears in the recording.

(8) BAD LUCK AND TROUBLE, TWO OF MY BEST FRIENDS. Joe Lansdale talks about his Hap and Leonard series and pays tribute to Michael K. Williams who played Leonard Pine in the television adaptation of the series.  A new collection of Hap and Leonard stories is coming from Tachyon in 2022. “Joe R. Lansdale Remembers The Genesis of Hap and Leonard and Pays Tribute to Michael K. Williams” at CrimeReads.

… My subconscious may have created them, but I felt as if Hap and Leonard were friends of mine. I was more like Hap than Leonard, but my inner voice, Leonard, was willing to contest my common viewpoints, and from time to time, teach me something.

When I first wrote about Hap and Leonard, black and white friends existed in fiction and film, but their friendship, I truly believe, was unique for the times. The racism Leonard met head on was real. Folks I knew said, oh, it’s not like that anymore.

That wasn’t what I was seeing….

(9) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

  • 1963 – Fifty eight years ago this evening on ABC, The Outer Limits series premiered. Created and executive produced by Leslie Stevens, who had done nothing of a genre nature before, and directed by far too many to note here. Two episodes, “Demon with a Glass Hand” and “Soldier”, were written by Harlan Ellison, Clifford Simak wrote “The Duplicate Man” episode, and David Duncan penned “The Human Factor”. Eando Binder gets credit for the “I, Robot” episode. Though The Outer Limits achieved cult status it was not long lived, lasting but two seasons and forty-nine episodes. It had a loyal audience but it was programmed against the far more popular Jackie Gleason program and it was cancelled part way through its second season. Thirty-three years later, the rebooted series would run for one hundred and fifty-two episodes. There is rumor of yet another rebooted series in development now. 

There is nothing wrong with your DVD player. Do not attempt to adjust the picture. We are controlling your DVD player. We already control the horizontal and the vertical. We now control the digital. We can change the focus from a soft blur to crystal clarity. Sit quietly and we will control all that you see and hear. You are about to experience the awe and mystery which reaches from the inner mind to… The Outer Limits. — opening narration which was by Vic Perrin

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born September 16, 1898 — Hans Augusto Rey. German-born American illustrator and author best remembered for the beloved Curious George children’s book series that he and his wife Margret Rey created from 1939 to 1966. An Eighties series of five-minute short cartoons starring him was produced by Alan Shalleck, along with Rey — Ken Sobol, scriptwriter of Fantastic Voyage, was the scriptwriter here. A later TV series (2006-2009) had many writers, including Craig Miller. Rey’s interest in astronomy led to him drawing star maps which are still use in such publications as Donald H. Menzel’s A Field Guide to the Stars and Planets. A simpler version for children called Find the Constellations, is still in print as well. (Died 1977.)
  • Born September 16, 1930 — Anne Francis. You’ll remember her best as Altaira “Alta” Morbius on Forbidden Planet. She also appeared twice in The Twilight Zone (“The After Hours” and “Jess-Belle”). She also appeared in multiple episodes of Alfred Hitchcock Presents and The Alfred Hitchcock Hour. She’d even appear twice in The Man from U.N.C.L.E. and played several roles on Fantasy Island as well. (Died 2011.)
  • Born September 16, 1932 — Karen Anderson. She co-wrote two series with her husband, Poul Anderson, King of Ys and The Last Viking, and created the delightful The Unicorn Trade collection with him. Fancyclopedia has her extensive fannish history thisaway, and Mike has her obituary here. (Died 2018.)
  • Born September 16, 1927 — Peter Falk. His best remembered genre role is in The Princess Bride as the Grandfather who narrates the story. (The person who replaced the late Falk in the full cast reading of The Princess Bride for the Wisconsin Democratic fundraiser, Director Rob Reiner, wasn’t nearly as good as he was in that role.) He also plays Ramos Clemente in “The Mirror,” an episode of The Twilight Zone. And he’s Reverend Theo Kerr in the 2001 version of The Lost World. (Died 2011.)
  • Born September 16, 1952 — Lisa Tuttle, 69. Tuttle won the Astounding Award for Best New Writer, received a Nebula Award for Best Short Story for “The Bone Flute,” which she refused, and a BSFA Award for Short Fiction for “In Translation”. My favorite works by her include CatwitchThe Silver Bough and her Ghosts and Other Lovers collection. Her latest novel is The Curious Affair of the Witch at Wayside Cross.
  • Born September 16, 1960 — Mike Mignola, 61. The Hellboy stories, of course, are definitely worth reading, particularly the early on ones. His Batman: Gotham by Gaslight is an amazing What If story which isn’t at all the same as the animated film of that name which is superb on its own footing, and the B.P.R.D. stories  are quite excellent too.  I’m very fond of the first Hellboy film, not so much of the second, and detest the reboot now that I’ve seen it, while the animated films are excellent.
  • Born September 16, 1960 — Kurt Busiek, 61. Writer whose work includes The Marvels limited series, his own outstanding Astro City series, and a very long run on The Avengers. He also worked at Dark Horse where he did Conan #1–28 and Young Indiana Jones Chronicles #1–8. 
  • Born September 16, 1970 — Nick Sagan, 51. Son of Carl Sagan. He’s written scripts for Next Generation and Voyager. Not to mention Space Precinct. He is the author of the three novels, Edenborn, Everfree and Idlewild. 

(11) OCTOTHORPE. Octothorpe episode 40 is “Very Exuberant and Very Dangerous”. John Coxon is listening to podcasts, Alison Scott is reading stories, and Liz Batty is watching TV.

We are pleased to see that Corflu now has something about COVID on their webpage and we discuss the NHS COVID Pass. We also do Picks, in which we (wait for it) talk about science fiction we quite like for a bit.

Also, Octothorpe sent along this nifty art of Woomera by Alison Scott.

(12) WIDESPREAD HARASSMENT OF VIDEO GAME PLAYERS. Deseret News covers the statistics of a new report: “Gamers face online harassment when playing video games, ADL says”.

A new report from the Anti-Defamation League has found that most U.S. teens experience harassment when playing video games online.

The study said 60% of children 13 to 17 years old experience harassment when playing games online.

  • And it doesn’t seem to be catching on with parents. Less than 40% of parents or guardians said they implemented safety controls for online games.
  • And less than 50% of teen gamers said they talk to their parents about their online games.

Overall, gamers experience massive harassment online. The survey found 71% of adults from 18 to 45 years old “experienced severe abuse, including physical threats, stalking and sustained harassment within the first six months of 2021.”…

(13) HE LOVES ME, HE LOVES ME NOT. At CrimeReads, Olivia Rutligliano pays tribute to Pushing Daisies and why it was such a memorable, if weird, show. “Looking Back on the Magical Mystery Series Pushing Daisies”.

Pushing Daisies might be most memorable for its bright, uncanny visuals—a merry, surreal palette of greens, reds, and yellows that don’t veritably exist in nature. The candy-colors of Pushing Daisies reflect its deep thematic investment in artificiality—on a tonal level, the show concerns simulacra of life, rather than life itself. Its characters cannot truly live the lives they want, and this is rather literal. Ned (Lee Pace) is a gentle, bashful entrepreneur (the proprietor and chef of a pie bakery called “The Pie Hole”) guarding a disquieting secret—he has the ability to bring dead things back to life with only a touch. But if he lets these newly animated entities live for longer than a minute or so, another entity of equal mass must die in its place, to restore the balance of the universe. Touching them a second time will return them to death, permanently—which means that if he wants to reconnect with anyone after they have passed, he only has a solitary minute to do so….

(14) BE SEATED. In episode 61 of the Two Chairs Talking podcast, “The joining of three tides”,  David Grigg and Perry Middlemiss discuss their fannish projects outside the podcast: in Perry’s case his sercon genzine The Alien Review; and in David’s case his new fortnightly email newsletter Through the Biblioscope.

They also discuss two of the nominees for Best Novel in this year’s Hugo Awards: The Relentless Moon by Mary Robinette Kowal, and Network Effect by Martha Wells. 

(15) NOW AWAITING COLLECTION. In the latest Nature, “Success! Mars Rover Finally Collects Its First Rock Core”.

…When the rover first attempted the manoeuvre, on 6 August, the rock it was trying to sample crumbled into powder before making it into a sample tube. The second attempt, on 1 September at a different location several hundred metres away, went smoothly: the drill bit pulled a slim cylinder out of a 70-centimetre long rock named Rochette. Engineers then paused the process so that they could photograph the core in its sample tube, to ensure it was intact, before sealing the specimen inside days later….

(16) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In “Honest Trailers: Snake Eyes–G.I. Joe–Origins” on YouTube, the Screen Junkies say, “Don’t care about the G.I. Joe movies?” No one else does,” and adds that the film comes from Paramount, “the studio who came in last at the box office for seven years straight.”  The film features some great martial artists, but is under the direction of R.I.P.D. director Robert Schwentke, who loves his shaky cam, even though shaking a camera to make a film exciting “is like shaking a book to make it exciting.”

[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, James Davis Nicoll, Soon Lee, David K.M. Klaus, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, Michael Toman, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to contributing editor of the day Soon Lee.]

Pixel Scroll 8/5/21 You’ve Got To Know When To Hodor’em, Know When To Scroll’em, Know When To White Walker Away

(1) BURTON OUT OF JEOPARDY, UNFORTUNATELY. LeVar Burton won’t succeed the late Alex Trebek as host of the game show Jeopardy! According to Deadline, the show’s executive producer Mike Richards will be taking the job.  

LeVar Burton tweeted today:

I have said many times over these past weeks that no matter the outcome, I’ve won. The outpouring of love and support from family, friends, and fans alike has been incredible! If love is the ultimate blessing and I believe that it is, I am truly blessed beyond measure.

Here’s a look-back at a recent show when LeVar Burton presided over “The Science Fiction Category”.

(2) WHO’S ON FIRST. “Doctor Who’s next showrunner is more important than its next Doctor” insists Radio Times.

…But the showrunner is responsible for literally everything – from the tone of the show to its look, its casting, its music… even, to a lesser degree, its format and structure. Yes, making Doctor Who – and indeed, any show like it – is a massive team effort, but the showrunner picks (or is at least involved in the hiring of) their writers, the composer, the production designer, the make-up artists, the casting director… all those talented folk whose hard work goes into putting the show together.

Think how distinct the Russell T Davies era is from the Steven Moffat era, and how different both are to Chibnall’s show. Bar a few cosmetic changes, Doctor Who starring Christopher Eccleston and Doctor Who starring David Tennant are broadly the same series. But there’d be no mistaking Moffat’s Who for Davies’ – yes, they’re ostensibly the same programme, but the visuals are different, the humour is different, certain of the tropes are different… everything has regenerated, far more dramatically than when the show switches out one lead actor for the next. (That lead actor, of course, is also picked by the showrunner – pending BBC approval.)…

(3) HUGO HISTORY UPDATE. [Item by Kevin Standlee.] Ben Yalow located a copy of the 1993 Hugo Awards Nominating & Final Ballot Details report and I have updated the 1993 Hugo Awards entry at the official Hugo Awards site with a copy of it.

Note that the rules in 1993 were different than they are today, and this report included what was required under the rules as they existed at that time.

[Editor’s egoscanning note: I see File 770 came in second, as it was wont to do in the Nineties.]

(4) ON YOUR MARK. Tenth Letter of the Alphabet has combed through the Official Gazette of the United States Patent Office and assembled a vast collection of “Pulp Fiction Trademarks” like these —

(5) ANOTHER CONLANG. “What Language Does Leeloo Speak In The Fifth Element?” – let Looper tell you.

…A lot of time and effort, including the formation of a special language, went into crafting “The Fifth Element,” with Besson working on the project for around 15 years. What some might not know is that the unique language Leeloo speaks in the film is called the Divine Language, and it’s actually a personal creation of Besson’s, made solely for the movie. 

The Divine Language that was developed for “The Fifth Element” only has around 400 words in total, but that’s certainly enough to carry a conversation. According to an interview with i-D, Jovovich gives Besson complete credit for the language’s creation, stating that “He brought me a dictionary of words. We would write each other letters in the language, so I was getting used to communication and speaking it.”… 

(6) UNDERSTANDING SILKPUNK. BookRiot’s Lyndsie Manusos has some definite opinions about “Silkpunk: What It Is And What It Definitely Is Not”. “Silkpunk does NOT apply to every speculative, science fiction, or fantasy book inspired by Asian history or culture. Here’s what it is.”

…In the long history of speculative and SFF genres, silkpunk is pretty new. It was invented by Ken Liu to describe his 2015 novel The Grace of Kings. Liu coined the term, and wrote a post on his website to delve into its definition. Liu’s post begins with: “No, [silkpunk is] not “Asian-flavored steampunk.” No, it’s not “Asian-influenced fantasy.” No, it’s not…

(7) A PAIR OF ACES. Molly Templeton pointed out to Tor.com readers where they can “Watch Martha Wells and Becky Chambers in Conversation”.

… The two discuss outlining (or not); television watching (Wells, like all wise viewers, enjoys Elementary); how much time Chambers thought about tea while writing Psalm; writing with compassion for your characters; and how excellent it is that more voices are telling their stories in SFF….

(8) TOP 10. ScreenRant shared the list of “The American Film Institute’s 10 Best Sci Fi Movies”. Guess what is only number six!!

6. Blade Runner

A cerebral film with lofty existential themes, Blade Runner is a duly highly regarded sci-fi film and often noted as one of the best of the sci-fi genre. Another Ridley Scott film – one of his best science fiction films – Blade Runner follows an officer and blade runner named Deckard that is tasked with tracking down and destroying four replicants, which are sentient robots that were deemed illegal after a replicant uprising on a faraway planet.

On Deckard’s journey to destroy, or retire, the replicants, he is faced with questions of what it means to be human and the accuracy or inaccuracy of perception of reality. Further, the film paints a bleak portrait of a potential future with animals being extinct and a highly polluted atmosphere, connecting to concerns that modern audiences have for the environment.

(9) STONE SOUP. At “Building Beyond: Leaf Me Alone”, Sarah Gailey is joined by Stephen Rider and Amal El-Mohtar to play with this writing prompt:

The global forest community has decided to cut off all economic and trading ties with the outside world. From now on, forest-based resources are for the forest alone.

(10) MEMORY LANE.

  • 1970 – Fifty one years at Heicon ’70 where John Brunner was the Toastmaster, Ursula Le Guin wins the Hugo for Best Novel for The Left Hand of Darkness. It was first published in 1969 as Ace SF Special, Series 1.  Other nominated works that year were Robert Silverberg’s Up the Line, Piers Anthony‘s Macroscope, Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.’s Slaughterhouse-Five and Norman Spinrad‘s Bug Jack Barron. It would also win a Nebula Award and be nominated for a Ditmar Award as well. 

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born August 5, 1906 John Huston. Yes, the Huston who directed  and wrote The Maltese Falcon graced our community. He was M in Casino Royale, and The Lawgiver in Battle for the Planet of the Apes. He was in Sherlock Holmes in New York as Professor Moriarty, and voiced Gandalf in The Return of The King. (Died 1987.)
  • Born August 5, 1929 Don Matheson. Best remembered for being Mark Wilson in Land of the Giants. He also had roles in Lost in Space (where he played in an alien in one episode and an android in another episode), Voyage to the Bottom of the SeaThe Alfred Hitchcock Hour, an Alice in Wonderland film and Dragonflight. (Died 2014.)
  • Born August 5, 1935 Wanda Ventham, 86. Mother of Benedict Cumberbatch. She’s been on Who three times, in “The Faceless Ones”, a Second Doctor story, in “Image of the Fendahl”, a Fourth Doctor story and finally in “Time and the Rani”, a Seventh Doctor story. She also had roles in The Blood Beast TerrorProject U.F.O and Captain Kronos: Vampire Hunter. She was often on British TV series including Danger ManThe SaintThe Avengers and The Prisoner. And yes, she was on his Sherlock series where she played…his mother.
  • Born August 5, 1940 Natalie Trundy, 81. First, she was one of the Underdwellers, named Albina, in Beneath the Planet of the Apes.  Next, she played Dr. Stephanie Branton, a specialist studying apes from the future who came into our present day in Escape from the Planet of the Apes.  Then in Conquest of the Planet of the Apes and Battle for the Planet of the Apes, she played the chimp Lisa.  As far as I can tell, she’s the only performer to play three different roles in the Apes films. 
  • Born August 5, 1947 Élisabeth Vonarburg, 74. Parisian born, she’s been a Quebec resident for four decades. She was the literary director of the French-Canadian SF magazine Solaris. Her first novel, Le Silence de la Cité, was published in 1981. Since then she’s been a prolific writer of novels and short fiction. I’m pleased to say that the usual suspects is deeply stocked in her works. Her website, in French of course, is here. She’s won ten Prix Aurora Awards for the best Canadian science fiction and fantasy works and activities in English and French. Très, très impressionnant! 
  • Born August 5, 1961 Tawny Kitaen. I first remember her in Hercules and the Circle of Fire as Deianeira, a role remarkable only for the minimalist costume she wore. She repeated the role throughout the series. Her first genre acting was actually in low budget horror flick Witchboard. And other than an appearance in a SF comedy series They Came from Outer Space, that’s it for her. (Died 2021.)
  • Born August 5, 1980 JoSelle Vanderhooft, 41. Former Green Man reviewer with a single novel so far, Ebenezer, and several collections, Steam-Powered: Lesbian Steampunk Stories and Steam-Powered II: More Lesbian Steampunk Stories which the former were nominated for a Lambda Award. She also co-edited with Steve Berman, Heiresses of Russ 2011: The Year’s Best Lesbian Speculative Fiction.

(12) COMICS HISTORY. “Let Otto Binder show you how the mid-’60s comic book sausage was made” at Scott Edelman’s blog.

Two more treasures found in my late sister-in-law Ellen Vartanoff’s collection — mid-’60s scripts by the extremely prolific comics writer Otto Binder. Wikipedia claims he wrote 4,400 stories under his own name — and 160 more under the pen-name Eando Binder…

…His [Otto Binder’s] story in Creepy adapted of one of the 10 stories he wrote for Amazing Stories with his brother Earl Binder (under the pen name Eando Binder) about the intelligent robot Adam Link.

Someday I’ll scan and share the entirety of both scripts, but for now, here’s a comparison of the first page of the Mighty Samson one, as well as the published page, with art by Frank Thorne — who’s perhaps best-known for his work on Marvel’s Red Sonja….

(13) DRAWN THAT WAY. Studio co-founder Alvy Ray Smith tells IEEE Spectrum readers “The Real Story of Pixar” – “How a bad hardware company turned itself into a great movie studio.”

…The story… goes back to a time when I and other researchers in computer graphics scattered around the United States began to see the technology as allowing a new art form: the creation of digitally animated movies. A handful of us began talking about when somebody would make the first one—”The Movie,” we called it—and the massive computing power it would take to pull it off. That kind of computing power was not affordable in the mid-1970s. But with Moore’s Law cranking along at a steady pace, there was every reason to think that the cost of computing power would come down sufficiently within a decade or so. In the meantime, we focused on developing the software that would make The Movie possible.

By definition, The Movie could incorporate no hand drawing. The tools to build it emerged piecemeal. First came the software that enabled computers to create two-dimensional images and, later, virtual 3D objects. Then we figured out how to move those objects, shade them, and light them before rendering them as frames of a movie….

…We kept the possibility of The Movie alive during the next five years with a series of short films, including Luxo Jr. (1986), nominated for an Academy Award; Tin Toy (1988) winner of an Academy Award; Red’s Dream (1987); and Knick Knack (1989). These were four of the sparkling jewels that sustained us during these otherwise tough years.

Each one of these pieces represented continued improvements in the underlying in-house technologies. Luxo Jr., for example, incorporated the first articulated objects that self-shadowed themselves from multiple light sources. Red’s Dream showed off our Pixar Image Computer: the principal background for the piece, a bicycle shop, was the most complex computer graphics scene ever rendered at the time….

(14) THEY’RE COMING TO TAKE ME AWAY. “R2-D2 is now a Tamagotchi you’ll forget about” predicts Engadget. (See demos at the company’s own interactive info page: Star Wars R2-D2 Tamagotchi.)

Disney and Bandai have teamed up to bring Artoo to the pockets of fans who don’t mind training, cleaning and looking after a needy, digital version of the droid wherever they are. …As you might expect from a Tamagotchi, you’ll interact with the toy using three physical buttons.

There are 19 skills for Artoo to learn. You’ll need to keep him charged and clean. Unlike with other Tamagotchis, you won’t have to clear up any poop from R2-D2 (he’s a droid, after all). A Lucasfilm spokesperson told Engadget that if R2-D2 sits for too long, he’ll accumulate dust. You can clean that away with the press of a button.

There are nine mini-games you can play with him, including firefighting and Star Wars staple Dejarik (or holochess). If you don’t keep the droid happy, some Jawas might arrive to take him away….

(15) FROM OUTSIDE OF TIME. Episode 37 of Octothorpe 37, a podcast about science fiction and SF fandom from John Coxon, Alison Scott, and Liz Batty, is available here.

 We didn’t record this week so this is the fabled EPISODE X, part of the SUMMER OF FUN (summer of fun). We discuss the Retro Hugo Awards and reading old books from a time when Graham Linehan was still on Twitter. Crazy.

(16) MINUS MEN. Y: The Last Man premieres September 13 — on FX on Hulu.

Based on DC Comics’ acclaimed series by Brian K. Vaughan and Pia Guerra, Y: The Last Man traverses a post-apocalyptic world in which a cataclysmic event decimates every mammal with a Y chromosome but for one cisgender man and his pet monkey. The series follows the survivors in this new world as they struggle with their efforts to restore what was lost and the opportunity to build something better.

(17) THE STARS BYE DESTINATION. Gizmodo knows why “This Blasted Star Is Getting the Hell Out of the Milky Way”.

Careening through the Milky Way at nearly 2 million miles per hour, the star LP 40–365 shows no signs of stopping. A team of astronomers recently figured out that the star was propelled into its current speedrun by a supernova explosion millions of years ago.

LP 40–365 is unusual. It’s a white dwarf, a small, compact star at the end of its life, and it’s very rich in metals. LP 40–365 also has own atmosphere, which is mostly composed of oxygen and neon. But most important to this story is that the star is a runaway from a huge stellar explosion, which set in motion its dash out of the galaxy….

(18) VIDEO OF THE DAY. In “Honest Game Trailers: Mario Golf”,  Fandom Games says this Mario Bros. line extension “turns the fusty game of golf into the PGA version of Death Race.”

[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, N., John Coxon, Daniel Dern, Scott Edelman, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, Michael Toman, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to contributing editor of the day Andrew (not Werdna).]

Pixel Scroll 7/3/21 Neunundneunzig Scrollballons

(1) LOVECRAFT COUNTRY: WHAT MIGHT HAVE BEEN. The show was not renewed. Deadline has a glimpse of what was planned: “Lovecraft Country Season 2 Teased By Creator Misha Green After HBO Cancelation”.

A very very different America was going to be unveiled in Season 2 of Lovecraft Country, creator Misha Green revealed today after HBO officially pulled the plug on the acclaimed horror drama.

A couple of hours after Deadline exclusively reported on the surprising demise of the the Jurnee SmollettJonathan Majors and Michael Kenneth Williams starring series, showrunner Green took to social media to paint a picture of what might have been. It was certainly something to see, especially leading into the July 4th weekend:

(2) BARBARIC YAWP. Cora Buhlert’s provocatively-titled “Conan the Socialist” lives up to its billing. (You never suspected that about Conan, did you?) BEWARE SPOILERS about the Thirties Robert E. Howard tale under discussion.

… My teenaged self certainly enjoyed the Conan stories as great and glorious adventures. Plus, there was the thrill of reading “violent American trash” that sensible educated people weren’t supposed to read or enjoy. However, upon rereading these stories as an adult, I find that there is a lot of depth and subtext in the Conan series that my teenaged self missed.

(3) I’LL BE BACK. And he was. The Ringer talked to filmmakers and actors to come up with “The Oral History of ‘Terminator 2: Judgment Day’”

T2 is a departure from the far bleaker original, 1984’s The Terminator, which its creator calls a “science-fiction slasher film.” Linda Hamilton’s franchise protagonist, Sarah Connor, has transformed from a put-upon heroine to a self-trained commando whose attempts to thwart the coming apocalypse land her in a psychiatric hospital. Her son, John, the future leader of the resistance in the war against the genocidally self-aware defense system Skynet, is in foster care. And the T-800, once a remorseless killer with a curious but hypnotic Austrian accent, somehow helps bring them together as a family—then helps them save the world.

Cameron: I talked to Dennis Muren at ILM. I said, “I’ve got an idea. If we took the water character from The Abyss, but it was metallic so you didn’t have the translucency issues, but you had all the surface reflectivity issues and you made it a complete human figure that could run and do stuff, and it could morph back into a human, and then turn into the liquid metal version of itself, and we sprinkled it through the movie, can we do it?” He said, “I’ll call you back tomorrow.”

Cameron: Linda, I called her up and I said, “Look, they want to pay us a lot of money to make a sequel. Are you in or are you out? But just between you and me, I don’t really want to do it if Sarah doesn’t come back and I don’t want to recast Sarah, so you got to say you’re in.” And she and I weren’t involved. [Editor’s note: Cameron and Hamilton were married from 1997 to 1999.] We hadn’t even really hung out at all much since the first film. She was making a movie somewhere down South.

And so she said, “Yeah, in principle, I’m in, but I want to be crazy.” I said, “Well, what do you mean, crazy? How crazy?” She said, “Crazy, like I’ve been driven crazy.” I said, “Like you’re in an insane asylum, like you’re institutionalized?” She said, “Yeah, sure. Let me play crazy. Let me go nuts.” I said, “All right. Well, you’re going to get my version of nuts,” and she said, “All right. I’m down.”

(4) ROBOHOP. New Scientist’s reviewer says “A Psalm for the Wild-Built by Becky Chambers is joyful sci-fi reading”.

…The book is set some time after this Transition, and follows a tea monk, Sibling Dex, who goes from settlement to settlement as a travelling salesperson-slash-roaming therapist. Despite bringing joy and comfort to those visited, Dex is unsatisfied and heads out into the wilds, looking for a new purpose – eventually making contact with a robot, Mosscap, the first time humans and robots had met in centuries.

(5) TALKIN’ ABOUT MY REGENERATION. Here’s your latest next-Doctor-Who rumor. From The Guardian: “Olly Alexander tipped to be new lead”.

Olly Alexander, the pop singer and actor who this year shone brightly in the Russell T Davies drama It’s a Sin, is reportedly set to be the next lead in Doctor Who.

On Sunday the Sun said Alexander was thrashing out final details with the BBC to succeed Jodie Whittaker and become the 14th Doctor.

If it happens, Alexander, 30, would be the first out gay actor to play the Time Lord.

Whittaker’s departure from Doctor Who has not been announced, although rumours abound that the next series and two special episodes, to be broadcast next year, will be her final outings…

(6) PAST IN PERSPECTIVE. Lovecraft and Howard scholar Bobby Derie discusses how segregation and Jim Crow laws affected the 1951 and 1953 Worldcons: “Jim Crow, Science Fiction, and WorldCon”.

… There were less than 200 attendees. Nolacon Bulletin #2 (July 1951) lists 196 members; Harry Warner, Jr. in in his memoir of fandom in the 50s A Wealth of Fable says 183 were officially registered “and 300 or more persons were believed to be on hand at one time or another” (352).

…One highlight was a midnight showing of The Day the Earth Stood Still at the local Saenger Theater. Seating was segregated. Black attendees would have had to enter through a side door, to sit up on the balcony. Had any black science fiction fans done so, the film they watched could have stood as a metaphor for the mythic white space they found themselves in: a film of the possibilities of the future starring white people, for white people; the few non-white actors such as Rama Bai and Spencer Chan went uncredited….

… “Sectional discrimination” in 1952 was the “reverse racism” of the 2020s—a fallacy used by those who claim that efforts to combat or reverse racial discrimination are themselves a form of discrimination. Boggs’ claims break down what might be the typical white fan’s mindset of the era: philosophically displeased with Jim Crow, but unwilling to actually do anything about it….

(7) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

  • July 3, 1985 – Thirty-six years ago, Back to the Future premiered. It was directed by Robert Zemeckis from a screenplay by Zemeckis and Bob Gale. Bob Gale and Neil Canton were the producers. It of course starred Michael J. Fox, Christopher Lloyd, Lea Thompson and Crispin Glover. It would win the Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation at ConFederation besting LadyhawkeCocoonBrazil and Enemy Mine. Critics loved it with Ebert comparing it to Capra’s It’s A Wonderful Life. It was a box office success being the top grossing film of the year. And audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes currently give it an absolutely superb ninety-four percent rating. 

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born July 3, 1926 — William Rotsler. An artist, cartoonist, pornographer and SF author. Well that is his bio. Rotsler was a many time Hugo Award winner for Best Fan Artist and one-time Nebula Award nominee. He also won a Retro Hugo for Best Fan Artist of 1946 and was runner-up for 1951. He is responsible for giving Uhura her first name, and he wrote “Rotsler’s Rules for Costuming.” (Died 1997.)
  • Born July 3, 1927 — Ken Russell. Film director whose Altered States based off of Paddy Chayefsky’s screenplay is certainly his best-remembered film. Though let’s not overlook The Lair of the White Worm he did off Bram Stoker’s novel, or The Devils, based at least in part off The Devils of Loudun by Aldous Huxley. (Died 2011.)
  • Born July 3, 1937 — Tom Stoppard, 84. Playwright of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead. He co-wrote the screenplays for Brazil (with Terry Gilliam) and Shakespeare in Love (with Marc Norman). He’s uncredited but openly acknowledged by Spielberg for his work on Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.
  • Born July 3, 1943 — Kurtwood Smith, 78. Clarence Boddicker in Robocop, Federation President in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, and voiced Kanjar Ro in the most excellent Green Lantern: First Flight. He’s got series appearances on Blue ThunderThe Terrible Thunderlizards (no, I’ve no idea what it is), The X-FilesStar Trek: Deep Space NineStar Trek: VoyagerMen in Black: The Series3rd Rock from the SunTodd McFarlane’s SpawnJustice LeagueBatman BeyondGreen Lantern, Beware the Batman, Agent Carter and Star Trek: Lower Decks. His latest genre role was Old Man Miller on the Netflix series Jupiter’s Legacy.
  • Born July 3, 1946 — Michael Shea. Shea’s first novel, A Quest for Simbilis was  an authorized sequel to the first two Jack Vance’s Dying Earth novels. Vance was offered a share of the advance but declined it. (It was declared non-canon when the next novels in the series were written by Vance.) A decade, he’d win a World Fantasy Award for his Nifft the Lean novel, and a second twenty years later for a novella, “The Growlimb.” (Died 2014.)
  • Born July 3, 1948 — Marc Okrand, 73. A linguist in Native American languages who’s  the creator of the Klingon language. He first applied it by dubbing in Vulcan language dialogue for Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, and then was involved in the Search for SpockThe Final FrontierThe Undiscovered Country, and the both rebooted Trek films. Later he developed the language for the Kelpien race in the second season of Discovery.
  • Born July 3, 1962 — Tom Cruise, 59. His first genre role was as Jack in Legend. Next up was Lestat de Lioncourt in Interview with the Vampire followed by being Ethan Hunt in the first of many excellent Mission Impossible films. Then he was John Anderton in Minority Report followed by Ray Ferrier in War of The Worlds. I’ve not see him as Maj. William Cage in Edge of Tomorrow so I’ve no idea how good he or the film is. Alas he was Nick Morton in, oh god, The Mummy
  • Born July 3, 1964 — Payton Reed, 57. Did you know there was A Back to the Future TV series? Well there was and he directed it back in 1991. It was animated and only Christopher Lloyd was involved as a voice actor. He went on to much later direct Ant-Man, Ant-Man and the Wasp and the forthcoming Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania. He directed two episodes of The Mandalorian

(9) STAND UP GUY. [Item by Cora Buhlert.] From 2017, a full cast audio adaptation of the short story “Waterfront Fists” by Robert E. Howard, performed by a group called the Violet Crown Radio Players. This is not an SFF story, but one of the Sailor Steve Costigan stories about the adventures of a not very smart boxing sailor and his faithful bulldog (Howard wrote more Costigan stories than he ever wrote Conan stories), but very nicely done. Hosted by The Cromcast, a Weird Fiction Podcast: “The VCRP Present Waterfront Fists!”

(10) STONE SOUP. Sarah Gailey’s “Building Beyond” writing prompt “Optimus Prime Time” brings her together with Elizabeth Kestrel Rogers and Julian Stuart to play with this idea —

The AI uprising has come and gone and after a brief period of discomfort, we’re all mostly pretty cool with each other at this point. There’s a television network that is strictly dedicated to entertainment by robots, for robots.

(11) YOUNG RAY HARRYHAUSEN. First Fandom Experience remembers when “Ray Harryhausen Released the Kraken in 1938”. They show the creature’s evolution from Harryhausen’s fanzine art to the movie Clash of Titans.

The Kraken debuts

More from Harryhausen’s conversation with David Kyle:

“In the mid-1930s when I was still in high school, Forry told me about the little brown room in Clifton’s Cafeteria where the Los Angeles chapter of the Science Fiction League would meet every Thursday. Members included Russ Hodgkins, Morojo, and T. Bruce Yerke. Robert Heinlein used to come around, and a guy named Bradbury. We were a group who liked the unusual. There was a fellow named Walt Daugherty, who was an anthropologist by trade, and a photographer. He would make presentations about Egyptology. Another young fellow named Ray Bradbury would arrive wearing roller skates. After selling newspapers on the street corner he would skate to meetings because he had no money. He used to go meet the stars at the Hollywood Theater where they did weekly radio broadcasts. Ray was writing for Forry’s magazine called Imagination. I did one of the covers for an issue, which was mimeographed.”…

(12) VAMPIRES AND WEREWOLVES. Anna J Walner has two books in The Uluru Legacy Series, the first out in June, the second coming in November.

Anna J. Walner

A girl in search of her family finds more than she ever dreamed possible. Blending myth with reality, this award-winning debut provides a truly unique and realistic spin on the genre you love.
 
Enter a world hidden to human eyes for over three centuries. A safe haven for both Vampire and Werewolf. She’ll become something she never thought existed, agree to things she never thought she would, and find a life worth dying for.

In Garkain:

Amelia’s journey to find the truth behind her adoption twenty-five years ago, might end up being just a quick tour around the sights and a visit with her biological family.

Or it could reveal a more mysterious and shocking history to her lineage than she thought possible. The realization that vampires and werewolves have existed all along in secret. A place called The Colony.

Amelia realizes she must make a choice. Join The Colony and her family, or literally be made to forget they ever existed in the first place.

The thrilling debut of The Uluru Legacy Series will change the vampire and werewolf rulebook. Blending myth with reality, it provides a truly unique and realistic spin on the genre you love.

In Larougo —

While some questions will be answered, more will be raised. As new truths come to light, and new evils make themselves known, not everyone will survive.

The vision for a new Colony is at stake as Amelia and Roan discover they’re part of something even larger than they thought.

(13) VIDEO OF THE DAY. Mind Matters says about Sarah Gross’ short film Boléro:

The theme is very topical indeed: Ending crime on the part of private citizens via total surveillance (in this case via a sort of enhanced telepathy) results in unlimited crime on the part of the government. 

The synopsis continues:

In a future where telepaths are used by the government to monitor the public and root out insurgents, Maya, a non-speaking teen, witnesses her father’s brutal and unjust execution. Set on a path of revenge and destruction, Maya joins the Resistance, hellbent on tracking down Reader 8, the telepath responsible for her father’s death. However, when Maya finally locates her target after years of searching, she is confronted with a choice: either capture Reader 8 and deliver essential intelligence to the Resistance or take him out and fulfill her vengeful quest.

[Thanks to Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, Michael Toman, Alan Baumler, John King Tarpinian, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to contributing editor of the day Soon Lee.]

Pixel Scroll 6/1/21 Welcome To The Hotel Cthulhu: You Can Get Eaten Anytime You Like, But You Will Never Leave

(1) OCTAVIA BUTLER BIRTHDAY MONTH. The Los Angeles Public Library and The Huntington are commemorating Octavia E. Butler’s birthday throughout June in a joint celebration of her work, her legacy, and her community.

The virtual events listed below are all free, open to the public, and family-friendly, ideally for ages 10 and up.

  • Parable of the Sower Book Club Chat — Sat., June 5, 4 p.m. | Reserve
  • JPL & Octavia E. Butler — Sat., June 12, 2 p.m. | Reserve
  • Octavia Lab Tour — Fri., June 18, 4 p.m. | Reserve
  • Make a Zine Celebration of Octavia E. Butler and Juneteenth — Sat., June 19, 4 p.m. | Reserve
  • In Conversation with Author Lynell George — Fri., June 25, 4 p.m. | Reserve
  • Parable of the Sower Graphic Novel Creators’ Presentation — Sat., June 26, 4 p.m. | Reserve 

(2) CHAMBERS ON TOUR, AT YOUR COMPUTER. Becky Chambers is doing a virtual tour for her upcoming book A Psalm for the Wild-BuiltTor.com has information about it, including links to the independent bookstores hosting each stop on the tour. It looks like she’ll be appearing in tandem with different SFF authors on Zoom at each of the three “stops” — Martha Wells, Sarah Gailey, and T.J. Klune + Alix E. Harrow. “Join Becky Chambers on Tour for A Psalm for the Wild-Built”.

In A Psalm for the Wild-Built, it’s been centuries since the robots of Panga became self-aware and walked into the wilderness. When one walks right into the life of a tea monk named Dex, an entirely unexpected connection is formed. The robot wants to know what people need. But how can one person answer that question? As Sarah Gailey said, “This is a book that, for one night, made me stop asking ‘what am I even for?’ I’m prescribing a preorder to anyone who has ever felt lost. Stunning, kind, necessary.”

(3) POST-PANDEMIC BOX OFFICE. Variety reports “’A Quiet Place Part II’ Smashes Pandemic Era Records”:

…The movie business is breathing a little easier after Paramount’s A Quiet Place Part II roared to $57 million over the Memorial Day Weekend. It’s a sign that cinemas are back after more than a year of pandemic era closures, capacity restrictions, and skittish customers.

Deadline says, “That’s a number which isn’t too far from the $60 million which the John Krasinski-directed sequel was anticipated to do in its three-day opening pre-pandemic.” 

(4) REJECTION SLIP-UP. Remember, it’s not paranoia if they’re really out to get you. Joe Vasicek lays out his evidence in “Short Stories, Author Blacklists, and Navigating Woke Science Fiction”.

Last year, I had a short story published in the anthology Again, Hazardous Imaginings: More Politically Incorrect Science Fiction. Not only was it one of my highest paying short story sales to date, but it also made it onto the Tangent Online 2020 Recommended Reading List with a *** rating, their highest tier. Only 13 out of 293 stories on the list received that honor—and making the list at all was an accomplishment!

But a funny thing happened after the anthology came out: for a stretch of several months, I stopped receiving personalized rejections for my short story submissions, and instead got only form rejections. Normally when I write a cover letter for a short story submission, I mention the last three markets that I was published in. For example: “My stories have recently appeared in Again, Hazardous Imaginings; Twilight Tales LTUE Benefit Anthology, and Bards and Sages Quarterly (forthcoming).” In a typical month, I’ll get maybe a dozen or so form rejections and a couple of personalized rejections, depending on how many stories I have out on submission.

Back in March, I started to notice that I wasn’t getting any personalized rejections. Suspecting that my publication credit in Again, Hazardous Imaginings wasn’t helping me, I decided to change things up and only list my publication credits for stories listed in Locus Magazine’s Year In Review issue. My thinking was that all of the Hugo and Nebula eligible markets give their yearly reports in that issue, and since all of the editors want to acquire stories that are likely to win awards, a publication credit in one of those markets is more likely to get them to pay attention.

Lo and behold, I started getting personalized rejections again….

(5) YOUNG PEOPLE. In the latest Young People Read Old SFF, James Davis Nicoll turns the panel loose on “The Longest Voyage” by one of my favorite writers, Poul Anderson.

… Anderson’s curious views of the narrative role of women at the time of writing surely do not pertain to The Longest Voyage because The Longest Voyage contains no women to speak of. As well, Anderson has chosen for the setting an Earthlike moon of a gas giant, perhaps the first plausible example of such a world I recall encountering. Perhaps this story highlights Anderson’s strengths in a way to which the Young People will respond?

(I can’t bear to look!)

(6) HIGHER-TECH CONEHEADS. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] Even Daleks, after a hard day of extermination, need to take an ice cream break!

(7) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

  • June 1, 1984 — On this day in 1984, Star Trek III: The Search for Spock premiered. It was written and produced by Harve Bennett, and directed by Leonard Nimoy.  It starred William Shatner, DeForest Kelley, James Doohan. George Takei, Walter Koenig, Nichelle Nichols, Merritt Butrick and Christopher Lloyd. Critics generally loved it and thought Nimoy caught the feel of the series; audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes currently give it a 61% rating. It would finish third at Aussiecon Two behind 2010: The Year We Made Contact which won the Best Dramatic Presentation Hugo and Ghostbusters which came in second.

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]

  • Born June 1, 1858 – Frank Ver Beck.  Wood engravings; illustrations for Collier’sThe Ladies’ Home Journal,Scribner’s; superlatively, animals, sometimes in a style eventually called anthropomorphic.  Twenty books, e.g. A Handbook of Golf for Bears, and in particular Baum’s Magical Monarch of Mo.  (Died 1933) [JH]
  • Born June 1, 1914 — George Sayer. His Jack: C. S. Lewis and His Times which won a Mythopoeic Scholarship Award for Inkling Studies and is considered one of the best looks at that author. He also wrote the liner notes for the J. R. R. Tolkien Soundbook, a Cadmeon release of Christopher Tolkien reading from excerpts from The SilmarillionThe Hobbit and The Lord of The Rings. (Died 2005.) (CE)
  • Born June 1, 1928 — Janet Grahame Johnstone, and Anne Grahame Johnstone. British twin sisters who were children’s book illustrators best remembered for their prolific artwork and for illustrating Dodie Smith’s The Hundred and One Dalmatians. They were always more popular with the public than they were critics who consider them twee. (Janet died 1979. Anne died 1988.) (CE)
  • Born June 1, 1940 — René Auberjonois. Odo on DS9. He’s shown up on a number of genre productions including Wonder WomanThe Outer LimitsNight GalleryThe Bionic WomanBatman Forever, King Kong, Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered CountryEnterpriseStargate SG-1 andWarehouse 13He’s lent both his voice and likeness to gaming productions in recent years, and has done voice work for the animated Green Lantern and Justice League series. (Died 2019.) (CE) 
  • Born June 1, 1947 — Jonathan Pryce, 74. I remember him best as the unnamed bureaucrat in The Adventures of Baron Munchausen. He’s had a long career in genre works including Brazil, Something Wicked This Way Comes as Mr. Dark himself, Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl and Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End as Governor Weatherby Swann, The Brothers Grimm, in the G.I. Joe films as the U.S. President and most recently in The Man Who Killed Don Quixote as Don Quixote. (CE) 
  • Born June 1, 1947 – Adrienne Fein.  One of three Founding Mothers of CMUSFS (Carnegie Mellon Univ. SF Society).  Introduced Arthur Hlavaty to apas .  Known as a loccer (loc or LoC = letter of comment, the blood of fanzines) but no slouch as a fanartist, e.g this cover for Granfalloon 1 and interiors there, this one for It Comes in the Mail 18, interiors for Riverside Quarterly.  (Died 1990) [JH]
  • Born June 1, 1947 – Chris Moore, age 74.  Four hundred sixty covers, fourscore interiors.  Collection, Journeyman.  Here’s a cover for The Stars My Destination; one for The City and the Stars; one for Hexarchate Stories.  Here’s his story.  [JH]
  • Born June 1, 1948 – Mike Meara, age 73.  Nova Award for Best Fanwriter.  Administered the FAAn (Fan Activity Achievement) Awards at Corflu 32 (fanziners’ con; corflu = mimeograph correction fluid, once indispensable).  Fanzine, A Meara for Observers.  [JH]
  • Born June 1, 1954 — Michael P. Kube-McDowell, 67. A filker which gets major points in my book. See him with The Black Book Band here: “Back in Black”. And yes, I’m stalling while I try to remember what of his I’ve read. I’m reasonably sure I’ve read both of his Isaac Asimov’s Robot City novels, and now I can recall reading Alternities as well. God, it’s been twenty years since I read him. I’m getting old. (CE)
  • Born June 1, 1958 – Ian Gunn.  Seven dozen interiors in Banana WingsFocus, and like that; in Program Books for ConFrancisco the 51st Worldcon, ConAdian the 52nd, Aussiecon 3 the 57th; logo for The Frozen Frog; 10 Ditmars (one won by a story!), 2 FAAn (Fan Activity Achievement) Awards, 1 Hugo at last.  (Died 1998) [JH]
  • Born June 1, 1965 — Tim Eldred, 56. Author and illustrator of Grease Monkey, a most excellent humorous take on space operas and uplifting species.  As an illustrator alone, he was involved in Daniel Quinn’s superb The Man Who Grew Young. (CE)
  • Born June 1, 1994 – Caighlan Smith, age 27.  Two novels, two shorter stories.  Has read A Doll’s HouseLes MisérablesFrankenstein, two Gormenghast books (the third on its way).  [JH]

(9) COMICS SECTION.

(10) BIG BEZOS IS WATCHING. According to The Guardian, “Amazon US customers have one week to opt out of mass wireless sharing”.

Amazon customers have one week to opt out of a plan that would turn every Echo speaker and Ring security camera in the US into a shared wireless network, as part of the company’s plan to fix connection problems for its smart home devices.

The proposal, called Amazon Sidewalk, involves the company’s devices being used as a springboard to build city-wide “mesh networks” that help simplify the process of setting up new devices, keep them online even if they’re out of range of home wifi, and extend the range of tracking devices such as those made by Tile.

But Sidewalk has come under fire for the apparent lack of transparency with which Amazon has rolled out the feature, as well as the limited time available for users to complete the tricky process required to opt out. Other critics have expressed concerns that failing to turn the setting off could leave customers in breach of their internet service provider’s terms and conditions.

“Amazon Sidewalk is a shared network that helps devices work better,” the company said in a Q&A document for users. “In the future, Sidewalk will support a range of experiences from using Sidewalk-enabled devices, such as smart security and lighting and diagnostics for appliances and tools.”…

(11) CHAPTERS TAKES THE CASH AND LETS THE CREDIT GO? [Item by James Davis Nicoll.] I somehow overlooked Donna Scott’s Best British SF series, now in its fifth year. Went to Chapters Indigo to order it. Chapters credits the anthologies to various famous male authors.

(12) JDA’S SPORTS REPORT.

(13) REVENGE IS A DISH BEST SERVED OLD. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] “Ancient Athenian Curse Jar Contained Dismembered Chicken And List Of Intended Victims” at IFL Science.  I particularly love the article’s turn of phrase, “perhaps you need to lift your vengeance magic game.”

Have you ever hated someone so much you sacrificed a chicken in the hope its slaughter would empower a curse, then carved the targets’ names into the pot holding the chicken and buried it for more than 2,000 years? If not, perhaps you need to lift your vengeance magic game, because someone not only did that but also found 50 people they hated enough to score a place on the pot’s exterior. We don’t know whether the curse worked, but it must be conceded all the intended victims are dead.

The pot (or “chytra”) buried between 325 and 270 BCE in a corner of a building in the Athenian Agora provides insight into the uses of magic at the time. Almost a century after Socrates and Plato, the home of ancient reason and learning still had people practicing something mystical.

Having been dug up in 2006 from a corner of the Athenian Agora’s Classical Commercial Building, the chytra has finally been described by Dr Jessica Lamont of Yale University.

Under the wonderful title “The Curious Case of the Cursed Chicken”, Lamont has described her findings in Hesperia. The pot contained the head and lower limbs of a chicken, but this was no remnant of a meal. A large iron nail has been stuck through the underside, its wide circular head sealing the entrance, and a small coin has since fused to the nail head. “This assemblage belongs to the broader realm of Athenian binding curses, which, … aimed to ‘bind’ or inhibit the physical and cognitive abilities of its human targets,” Lamont writes. These were usually written on lead tablets, but the nail and animal sacrifices were common features.

More than 30 of the names are still legible, some of them familiar while others were previously unknown from Athens. The handwriting suggests at least two people carved the names, something Lamont says is “largely unprecedented in Greek curse tablets”. Other writing could include the actual curse and up to 25 names, but only scattered letters can be read….

(14) ON TOP OF OLD SMOKEY. The Pasadena Museum of History knows where you can find the humble artifacts left behind by a historic science experiment: “Lookout Mountain and the Speed of Light”.

The first lookout tower of the Angeles Forest was erected on Lookout Mountain No. 2 in 1913 and was active until 1927 when it was moved to Sunset Peak. Today, one will find on Lookout Mountain, in addition to a sign and a register, three in-line concrete blocks. The tallest of these, forty-two inches high, has a metal tablet marked “ANOTONIO 1922” and one of the smaller blocks, twenty-six inches high, has an unmarked survey point. If a sight is taken in a westernly direction over these two points, it will align to a spot on Mt. Wilson, marked on topo maps as “Michelson.” These blocks supported a mirror system for an exacting experiment by America’s first Nobel Prize winner, A.A. Michelson, in the years 1922 to 1926 to determine the speed of light.

The speed of light had been measured before, but never on such a spectacular scale or with as much accuracy. At station “MICHELSON” on Mt. Wilson; an octagonal mirror was mounted on a rotor that reflected a light beam to the station “ANTONIO” on Lookout Mountain, nearly twenty-two miles distant; then reflected back to another facet of the octagonal mirror, where it was reflected in the observer’s eye….

(15) VIDEO OF THE DAY. In “Honest Trailers: Army of the Dead” on YouTube, the Screen Junkies say this new Zack Snyder film has robot zombies, brain zombies, and “the awesome zombie-killing saw,” and a team of mercenaries that has six “damaged bad-asses,” “two fun-loving bad-asses” and “the world’s most obvious traitor.  But Snyder, free of studio control, still can’t figure out how to focus his film!”

[Thanks to John Hertz, Mike Kennedy, Nina Shepardson, James Davis Nicoll, Andrew Porter, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, Michael Toman, John King Tarpinian, and Cat Eldridge for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to contributing editor of the day Peer.]

Four Reviews by Iphinome

By Iphinome: Reading. That’s what I do, I read and I snark things.

Fugitive Telemetry (The Murderbot Diaries) By Martha Wells. Space Opera

This story takes place between Exit Strategy and Network Effect.

It all starts with a body of a human–the dead kind–dumped in a hallway. This doesn’t happen often on Preservation station, station security is used to dealing with intoxicated humans not conducting murder investigations. Because they have the same sort of media infused-preconceptions about SecUnits as most other humans and augmented humans, they see Muderbot as, well, a murder bot, a possible suspect. This leaves them less than enthused about accepting help from a dangerous weapon that, even if innocent, presents a far greater danger than any single human or augmented human murderer.

What’s one murderer compared to the threat presented by a murderbot?

Murderbot could leave this one alone, it knows it didn’t kill the human, but not knowing who the killer or the identity-obscured victim is means not knowing if GrayCris is involved or if Dr. Mensah is in more danger. Gotta get that risk assessment down.

Fugitive Telemetry is a classic whodunit wherein Murderbot must work with the humans, augmented humans–even a few “free bots”–collect evidence and eliminate suspects (not that way!) alongside humans who know exactly what a SecUnit is. Humans who wonder if Murderbot did the murder.

Don’t worry, Murderbot still finds time to shoot things with the energy weapons in its arms, attempt a daring rescue, and watch Sanctuary Moon.

All the stuff we know and love is in there.

Let’s look at my notes.

16% Security insists that Murderbot can’t be stealth, it has to be out loud and proud in its feed identifier so people don’t get fooled. Two cycles later, not being satisfied with outing Murderbot as a SecUnit to any passers-by, a photo is published in the planetary newsstream.

Won’t that be fun when the next rogue SecUnit comes through and gets instantly read?

21% Ooooo is this the bot on the cover?

36% Someone else can hack Preservations crappy surveillance

40% Oh, maybe this is the cover bot. So many bots.

70% Time to shine baby. This is a job for Murderbot.

The inclusion of a heroic SecUnit really made this story work, more writers should do it.

I liked it. I always like Murderbot and feel a bit bad about not rating it higher but while Murderbot experiences a bit of personal growth we’ve already seen the results of in Network Effect. There’s a disadvantage in having this released non-chronologically.

Three stars plus a half because Murderbot. Recommended.

The Galaxy, and the Ground Within by Becky Chambers. Space opera.

This story takes place at the truck stop in Little America Wyoming where a group of travelers are trapped by a blizzard. No, wait. I’m being told that this book takes place under a small habitat dome at the Five-Hop One-Stop on the planet Gora, an airless rock that serves as a convenient anchor for five interstellar tunnels. My bad.

The proprietor is Ouloo a Laru, (a quadrupedal mammalian species with long necks and long fur) helped by her adolescent child Tupo. Three ships are scheduled to arrive for short shopping trips. Her deal is to keep the customers happy and coming back. She’s a sort of suburban business owner.

Tupo, Ouloo’s adolescent child. Xe has created a small natural history museum (on a lifeless planet) and otherwise helps out around the One-Stop in a sometimes sulky and sometimes excited way. Xe’s the moody teenager archetype.

Gapei Tem Seri, an Aeluon (fine scales, no natural hearing). Pei’s still dating Ashby from The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet, still, despite declarations to the contrary, apprehensive about the potential social stigma her people assign to those in interspecies relationships. She’s just gotten a bit of free time and is en route to Wayfarer for a little waterball. Wink wink nudge nudge.

In some ways, Pei represents the partially closeted homosexual. She’s not quite hiding her relationship as much as controlling who does and doesn’t know but she still fears the very real consequences that come with openness. Some Aeolins might be open and comfortable with interspecies sexuality but staying in the closet keeps her employed. In other respects, she’s just a woman making hard choices in the work/relationship/friends balance. Straight people have to figure it all out too.

Roveg, a Quelin (They have shells and lots of legs) exiled from his people. He makes his living as an artist who designs sims. In video game parlance we’d call his genre walking simulators. No plot, just lots of pretty stuff to walk through and look at. He’s on his way to an important and very time sensitive appointment.

For Pei Roveg represents a cautionary tale. He knowingly violated the taboos of his people, now he’s paying the price far from home, a pariah to other Quelin. To Tupo he’s the wise and understanding adult, to Speaker he’s someone who can empathise and to Ouloo he’s low maintenance.

For himself, he’s apprehensive about his looming appointment and while usually possessed of a healthy outlook regarding his status and some of the opportunities it allows him there’s some melancholy there. You can make the best but can’t always have all the things you want.

Speaker an Akarak. The species made an appearance in The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet as the raiders in mech suits who infiltrated Wayfarer and injured Ashby. The Mech suits are necessary to survive in an oxygen atmosphere and thematically exist to create an outsider status, physical separation for a member of a lesser-known and distrusted species.

A life of mistrust and misunderstanding along with an uncountable number of microaggressions leave Speaker’s feather easily ruffled, er, so to speak, but she’s practiced at not showing it. She’s a very kindhearted person and her main concern is getting off Gora and back to her ailing sister who remained in orbit while Speaker made a supply run.

Kyra described this as The most Becky Chambers plot of all time. Soooooooooooo apt.

While our three travelers are making scheduled stops between wormhole tranists an accident happens. The planet’s orbital infrastructure undergoes catastrophic failure, the linkings are down and space is full of junk. It’s not safe to leave, and anyone who tries is going to get so many points on their license that they’ll be walking between planets for the rest of their lives.

Our characters are stranded in Ouloo’s habitat dome with strangers around them and their own problems weighing. Imagine the modder colony visit in Angry Planet but as a whole book. They begin in the overly polite and guarded way as one does when in close confines with strangers. They talk, they hold different opinions, they gain understanding, they bond.

And yeah. There’s a complete lack of humans which makes things a bit more interesting. The characters do a far better job of drawing you in than anyone in Spaceborn Few which seriously dragged. All the themes of the previous books are there. As a worldbuilding bonus, we get some backstory on why the Quelin were such dicks to Corbin in the first book.

It didn’t have the same charm as the first book and didn’t have the same power as the second. On the bright side, it wasn’t as mind numbingly boring as the third and it managed to do what it intended. I cared about these people. It was pretty good.

Recommended if you like Becky Chambers, not recommended if you’re looking for action.

  • Liked The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet. 4 stars.
  • Loved, love, will always love A Closed and Common Orbit. 5 stars.
  • Record of a Spaceborn Few bored me, not enough to deduct a star though. 3 stars
  • The Galaxy and the Ground Within. It didn’t bore me, also didn’t quite meet the threshold for a fourth star. 3 stars.

Persephone Station by Stina Leicht. Space opera.

Our protagonist, Angel–introduced in chapter 3–leads a mercenary squad of former corpse soldiers. Their job was to go on suicide missions and then get revived later. They keep doing that till the cumulative physical and psychological damage makes them unfit for military service. Good times. Now she and her team work for Rosie, a local crime boss. Their current assignment is an assassination which goes according to plan until a second team pulls off another assassination–the planet’s corporate owners’ local head honcho–at the same party. Angel’s group along with a woman from the party named Kennedy Liu make their escape.

Knocking off someone for Rosie is something Angel can get away with. Criminal knocks off rival is an old story, but this second death means that not only does Angel have to explain the situation to Rose but being blamed for assassinating a corporate VIP buys a whole load of trouble.

Rosie owns a bar that they use as a base for extra-legal dealings. Don’t get your hopes up, this isn’t space Casablanca. Then again, space Casablanca would be like Barb Wire and that sucks so maybe do raise your hopes a little bit.

Angel makes her way there and Rosie is quite forgiving, she even has a new job that will get Angel and company out of town. Protect a very secret town of Persephone’s native sentients–so secret that Rosie and the Serrao-Orlove corporation plus any number of smugglers know all about it–from an impending invasion by corporate mercs.

It’s another suicide mission and this time no revivification boxes.

The B-plot centers on Kennedy Liu, she’s an AI in a highly illegal human appearing body. People in these stories always get it wrong. Things not to give AIs: Nukes. Things that it’s okay to give AIs: Bodies that appear human, cat pics. She comes to Persephone after receiving a call for help and gets drawn into the Angel/Rosie versus Serrao-Orlove struggle.

Chapter one: This is a prologue, it doesn’t call itself a prologue even though the epilogue calls itself an epilogue. It concerns a people called the Emissaries, a species with some shapeshifting abilities attempting to negotiate with the planet Persephone’s owners, the Serrao-Orlove corporation, and in particular one corporate representative Vissia Corsini who has betrayed the Emissaries in the past. It goes badly for the Emissaries and Vissa commits a war crime.

And it’s completely skippable. Our protagonist learns about the Emissaries and Vissia’s cruel nature as the story progresses.

Chapter two: It’s a couple pages long and mostly serves as a second prologue. Rosie, a local tavern owner (and crime boss) finds a corpse dropped on their doorstep. They know who the person is and after offering a quick prayer for the dead Rosie continues with their day.

Skippable. The death and the identity of the deceased are revealed to Angel in short order.

Chapter 3: Start here because this is where our protagonist steps on stage.

10% Things started flowing and I was afraid to let myself relax into the story. My notes say this book is like a mechanical bull that keeps trying to toss me out.

That was a lie. My actual written note says “10% now it’s going. Mechanical Bull Book!”

Sophisticated and erudite I’m not.

39% Welcome to Emissarytown. No, that’s emISSARy, not emBASsy. China Mieville’s not here.

We’re not human but we have all the human stuff right down to a standard pre-fab landing bay. Shhh, no one knows we exist and if you need anything we’ll order it for the next regularly scheduled smuggling run.

We know you have a choice when it comes to suicide missions, thank you for choosing Emissaries.

43% “Four women, one man, and two non-binary people approached”

I have so many questions the worldbuilding didn’t address. At no point does the narrative explain how a non-binary person might declare themselves such without stating it. There’s very little information about gender presentation or stereotypes. Rosie is non-binary and wears makeup and skirts. Is it color-coded? How the eff were you able to tell at a glance?

Ah well, not today mechanical bull, not today. Gonna press on.

Retroactive bonus point to Winter’s Orbit which did explain the culture-specific gender signifiers.

76% I’m a leaf on the wind.

It took eight days to get through this book, more than once I had a feeling of dread when reaching for the kindle, would I get bounced again? Not so much, it tried once or twice but if not for the bad taste left by the first two chapters then I wouldn’t have spent the rest of the book with a lingering fear about it all going wrong.

The story was fine. The characters are fine. My complaints are–to my everlasting shame–the complaints of a backseat editor. Some worldbuilding lapses some poor authorial choices in the opening chapters.

Leave that aside and you have an average sci-fi adventure story of the mercenaries decide to stand for something variety.

I could drop half a star for the beginning but I round up anyway so what the hell, three stars.

Catalyst: A Rogue One Novel by James Luceno. Media tie-in, space opera.

A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away…

It is a period of civil war. Separatist systems, led by the Sith Lord Count Dooku, use battle droids to fight The Grand Army of the Republic in a never-ending struggle to control the border worlds. After one battle, Republic operators managed to obtain plans for the separatist ultimate weapon, a battle station the size of a small moon. The side that completes the battle station first will have the power to win the war.

Republic engineer Orson Krennic searches for Galen Erso, the researcher who can complete the weapon, save the Republic, and restore peace and security to the galaxy.

Dah dah dah daaaa daaaa dun dun dunt duhhhh duhhh.

Since this is a media tie-in, readers are expected to be familiar with the first six Star Wars films.

Galen Erso–because of course there’s a Galen, as the length of a genre series increases, the probability of there being a Galen approached one–is a deep thinker. He’s the kind of scientist who stops speaking and ignores people to start scribbling. He’s the kind of scientist who forgets to comb his hair because he’s thinking thank you very much. He’s also the kind of scientist who doesn’t want his work used to create weapons despite his specialty being crystals and power generation–exactly what you need to make laser weapons in Star Wars–that’s why he and his wife left Coruscant for the Vallt system where he can sit out the Clone Wars working in the private sector.

The war comes to him in the form of a coup switching the planet to the Separatist cause and the arrest of Erso on fabricated charges with the understanding that if he just transfers his loyalties, he’ll go free. At this point, Galen switches from absent-minded professor to expert in psychology and influence techniques–which totally isn’t going to last–allowing him to hold firm even when his wife Lyra gives birth to their daughter Jyn while he’s in captivity.

Lieutenant Commander Orson Krennic, Republic Corps of Engineers, and ambitious member of the Special Weapons Project sees getting his old school chum Galen involved as the key to his eventual rise. With a combination of money, threats, and plausibly deniable sabotage, smuggler Has Obitt is convinced to work as Krennic’s agent. They rescue Erso who, while thankful to see his old buddy and get a ride out of prison, doesn’t want to work for the government.

Krennic arranges for Erso to both be under suspicion for his time spent with Separatists and thankful for the only crappy non-military job available to him and he finishes out the war-making communication devices.

Despite the Jedi and Dooku being gone, the Galactic Empire still doesn’t know peace. Pockets of resistance remain along with anarchists and criminals, the battle station still needs completion and Krennic finally has the leverage he needs over his old friend. Kyber crystals, hoarded and hidden by the Jedi, now available for research. Perfectly above-board civilian research.

Project Celestial Power, the Emperor’s dream Galen’s told. Renewable energy, unimaginable amounts for developing worlds using Kyber crystals. Will Erso lead the project? He will.

Catalyst was released ahead of Rogue One as a way of building hype and giving bookish fans easter eggs to search for. It’s a tough situation, being unable to spoil the future, being very limited even in how much you can telegraph when the movie’s where the money comes in and the author’s job is to combine storytelling with ad copy. I’m not sure it was a great idea but only the Disney accountants know for sure.

Early chapters might fool the reader into thinking Galen Erso is the protagonist. It’s Krennic. Story events focus on his lies, power grabs, struggles against Tarken,, and the bodies of anyone who stops being useful. His I’m your friend approach to Galen Erso echos Palpatine with Anakin and his trail of bodies echoes Vader with anyone who disappoints him. But the Sith lords embrace evil. Orson Krennic’s actions come off more creep than mustache-twirling.

Call it the banality of darksideism.

A few notes.

My spell-check already knew the word Coruscant. That tells you all you need to know about Star Wars and popular culture.

Dropping a beast of a word like somnambulantly into the middle of a sentence is a good way to bounce a reader out of the text, at least momentarily.

There’s an odd spate of excess scenery detail for a couple chapters around 70% of the way through. There hadn’t been as much earlier in the book so it came out of nowhere.

Tarkin makes a dad joke, Tarkin should not make dad jokes. My brain hurts.

Catalyst ends at 87% on my kindle. Any readers keeping track of how much story is left be aware that the last 10% is the preview for another Star Wars book.

As a stand-alone novel, I’d give it two stars, much is left unexplained. As a media tie-in where you’re expected to know and judging by the standards of other media tie-ins, three stars.

Pixel Scroll 4/19/21 The Calamari Of Dr. Cabinet

(1) UP, UP, AND AWAY. “NASA’s Ingenuity Mars Helicopter Succeeds in Historic First Flight” the space agency reported today. (For a summary of the mission see the Wikipedia: “Ingenuity (helicopter)”.)

Monday, NASA’s Ingenuity Mars Helicopter became the first aircraft in history to make a powered, controlled flight on another planet. The Ingenuity team at the agency’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California confirmed the flight succeeded after receiving data from the helicopter via NASA’s Perseverance Mars rover at 6:46 a.m. EDT (3:46 a.m. PDT).

“Ingenuity is the latest in a long and storied tradition of NASA projects achieving a space exploration goal once thought impossible,” said acting NASA Administrator Steve Jurczyk. “The X-15 was a pathfinder for the space shuttle. Mars Pathfinder and its Sojourner rover did the same for three generations of Mars rovers. We don’t know exactly where Ingenuity will lead us, but today’s results indicate the sky – at least on Mars – may not be the limit.”

The solar-powered helicopter first became airborne at 3:34 a.m. EDT (12:34 a.m. PDT) – 12:33 Local Mean Solar Time (Mars time) – a time the Ingenuity team determined would have optimal energy and flight conditions. Altimeter data indicate Ingenuity climbed to its prescribed maximum altitude of 10 feet (3 meters) and maintained a stable hover for 30 seconds. It then descended, touching back down on the surface of Mars after logging a total of 39.1 seconds of flight. Additional details on the test are expected in upcoming downlinks.

(2) ALL THE FEELS. The Atlantic’s Marina Koren captures the emotions of the event in “No, You’re Crying About a Helicopter on Mars”.

… I am not a spacecraft engineer, nor do I know this robot personally. But I am mortal, and we mortals tend to anthropomorphize robots and even have fuzzy feelings toward them. (The exception: If their appearance falls into the “uncanny valley” category, they can creep us out instead). A whole assortment of research on the relationship between people and machines shows that we can’t help attaching our little human feelings to the little mechanical robots we build. And NASA knows it.

As with other robotic missions, NASA maintains a Twitter account for Perseverance, the rover that brought Ingenuity to Mars in February, and dispatches are written from the perspective of the machine. “I love rocks,” Perseverance tweeted in February to its followers, who currently number 2.7 million. “I’m on the move!” it exclaimed in March as it took its first drive. “I’ve taken my first selfie,” the rover said earlier this month, showing us a picture of its robotic frame, with Ingenuity in the background. NASA has already shared imagery of Ingenuity’s flight—from Percy, stationed nearby, and from the helicopter itself, which captured its shadow flitting across the surface of Mars….

(3) A WALK, NOT A GALLOP. Book Riot’s Alice Nuttall points the way: “Slow Sci-Fi: 11 Thoughtful And Low Action Sci-Fi Reads”. A Becky Chambers’ novel is first on the list.

…Slow sci-fi can be a peaceful read between more action-packed books, or can give you the chance to grapple with a futuristic or otherworldly concept on multiple levels. Don’t be fooled — slow doesn’t mean shallow, and sometimes thoughtful sci-fi can give the horrors of a dystopia more time to develop, really drawing back before landing that gut punch. Here are some lower-action, thoughtful sci-fi reads to add to your TBR pile.

(4) THE QUARTERMASS EXPERIMENT. Texas A&M Libraries will host “The Future at 25 Cents A Copy: The Material Culture of Pulp Science Fiction Magazines”, a virtual talk scheduled for Thursday, April 22 at Noon (US Central). The participants are Jeremy Brett, an Associate Professor at A&M’s Cushing Memorial Library & Archives, where he is both Processing Archivist and the Curator of the Science Fiction & Fantasy Research Collection; Anna Culbertson, head of Special Collections & University Archives at San Diego State University, and Andrew Lippert, Special Collections Processing Archivist at UC, Riverside who works with the Eaton Collection. Register at the link.

“The “Pulp Era” of the 1920s-1940s was crucial to the formation of the science fiction genre in the United States. Pulp magazines were colorful, exciting vehicles for the work of countless creators, many of whom became major names. Librarians from three institutions with major pulp collections—Texas A&M University, the University of California, Riverside, and San Diego State University—will discuss the literary and genre legacy of pulps, including their significance as examples of mid-century American material culture.”

(5) DO YOU KNOW? Lise Andreasen would like to poll the audience.

(1) A French gentleman worked with agriculture, and invented a new drill plough, that was better at sowing. Michel Lullin de Chateauvieux – Wikipedia

(2) In “Surface Tension,” James Blish, talks about sowing people in the universe. The premier scientist is Chatvieux.

Does anybody know, whether this is a coincidence?

(6) EUROVISION SONG CONTEST. In return, Lise Andreasen offers to enlighten people who keep asking: How can this movie be nominated for the Hugo? She forwards these snippets from the Wikipedia plot summary:

Sigrit, who believes in the old Icelandic tradition of elves, asks them to help them in the contest…

Katiana’s ghost appears to (redacted)…

Luckily, unseen elves save (redacted)…

(7) HOW MANY RINGS BEFORE YOU HANG UP? Marvel dropped a trailer for Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings. The movie will be (only) in theaters September 3.

(8) PROVING LOVE. Netflix will release Love, Death, And Rockets, Volume 2 on May 14.

The NSFW animated anthology returns with a vengeance. Naked giants, Christmas demons, and robots-gone-wild… Consume irresponsibly.

Is there another Scalzi story in the new series? Youth wants to know.

(9) PROGRAMMED FOR FAILURE. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In the April 12 Financial Times, gaming columnist Tom Faber, discusses Disco Elysium, a role-playing game created by “Estonian novelist Robert Kurvitz and his friends during a night of drinking in 2005” and which won three gaming awards at the BAFTAs, the British equivalent of Oscars.

The brew of debauchery, failure, and resilience that marks this origin story is palpable in the 6,000 years of dense history Kurvitz and his team crafted around this detective game.  The story unfolds across the impoverished district of Martinaise, abandoned by the law following a failed communist revolution and now under the heel of a corrupt labor union.

Your protagonist is similarly scarred, beginning the game with a bout of amnesia following a drug-fueled bender so destructive it makes Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas look like something for children.  As you recover your memory it becomes apparent that you’re a cop with a murder case to solve, a task you are profoundly ill-equipped to handle.  ‘The entire story is about how to react when you’re faced with failure,’ Helen Hindpere, lead writer on the Final Cut, tells me.  ‘How do you come out of it?  What do you do?’

(10) MEMORY LANE.

1981 — In 1981 at Devention Two, The Empire Strikes Back which was released the previous year by Lucasfilm won the Hugo for Best Dramatic Presentation. Other nominated works were Lathe of Heaven, the Cosmos series, The Martian Chronicles and Flash Gordon.  It was directed by Irvin Kershner from the screenplay by Leigh Brackett and Lawrence Kasdan with story by being George Lucas. 

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]

  • Born April 18, 1907 Alan Wheatley. Best remembered for being the Sheriff of Nottingham in The Adventures of Robin Hood, with Richard Greene playing Robin Hood. In 1951, he had played Sherlock Holmes in the first TV series about him, but no recordings of it are known to exist. And he was in Two First Doctor stories as Temmosus, “The Escape” and “The Ambush” where he was the person killed on screen by Daleks. (Died 1991.) (CE) 
  • Born April 19, 1923 – Lygia Fagundes Telles, age 98.  Camões Prize.  Commander, Order of Rio Branco.  Chevalier de l’Ordre des Artes et des Lettres.  Grand officer, Order of Gabriela Mistral.  Third woman elected to the Brazilian Academy of Letters.  Called First Lady of Brazilian Literature.  Fifteen stories for us available in English, see collection Tigrela.  Many other works, many other awards.  [JH]
  • Born April 18, 1925 Hugh O’Brian. He was Harry Chamberlain in Rocketship X-M which you can see here as it’s in the public domain. (It was nominated in the 1951 Retro Hugo Awards given at Millennium Philcon but lost out to Destination Moon.)  He would later play Hugh Lockwood in Probe, the pilot for Search, and Search itself, an SF series. His only other genre appearance I think was playing five different roles on Fantasy Island. (Died 2016.) (CE)
  • Born April 18, 1933 W.R. Cole. Author of A Checklist of Science Fiction Anthologies, self-published In 1964. Ok, I’m including him today because I’m puzzled. SFE said of this work that ‘Though it has now been superseded and updated by William Contento’s indexes of Anthologies, it is remembered as one the essential pioneering efforts in Bibliography undertaken by sf Fandom.’  Was this really the first time someone compiled an index of anthologies? I seem to remember earlier efforts though I can’t remember precisely who. (Died 2002.) (CE) 
  • Born April 18, 1935 Herman Zimmerman, 86. He was the art director and production designer who worked between 1987 and 2005 for the Trek franchise. Excepting Voyager, in that era he worked on all other live-action productions including the first season of Next Gen, the entire runs of Deep Space Nine and Enterprise, as well as six Trek films. As Memory Alpha notes, “Together with Rick Sternbach he designed the space station Deep Space 9, with John Eaves the USS Enterprise-B and the USS Enterprise-E. His most recognizable work though, have been his (co-)designs for nearly all of the standing sets, those of the bridge, Main Engineering (co-designed with Andrew Probert) and Ten Forward for the USS Enterprise-D in particular.” Not surprisingly, he co-wrote the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Technical Manual with Rick Sternbach and Doug Drexler. (CE)
  • Born April 18, 1946 Tim Curry, 75. Dr. Frank-N-Furter in The Rocky Horror Picture Show of course, but it’s not his first genre appearance as a year earlier he’d been in the Scottish Opera’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream as Puck. And yes, I know that he appeared in the live show which was at the Chelsea Classic Cinema and other venues before the film was done. Other genre appearances include playing Darkness in Legend, an outstanding Cardinal Richelieu  in The Three Musketeers, Farley Claymore in The Shadow (great role), another superb performance playing Long John Silver in Muppet Treasure Island and in Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead as The Player. (CE) 
  • Born April 19, 1947 – Donald Eastlake III, F.N., age 74.  Co-chaired Boskone 11, chaired Boskone 16.  Served as President of NESFA (New England SF Ass’n). Frequent chair of WSFS (World SF Society) Business Meetings, a particularly difficult thankless task.  Fellow of NESFA (service).  Guest of Honor (with wife Jill Eastlake) at Rivercon IX.  See here.  [JH]
  • Born April 19, 1948 – Christopher Yates, age 73.  A dozen covers.  Here is The Committed Men.  Here is The Year of the Quiet Sun.  Here is Solaris.  Here is Rogue Moon.  Here is Toyman.  Here is The Bornless Keeper.  [JH]
  • Born April 19, 1951 – Patricia Geary, age 70.  Four novels.  Vassar woman.  P.K. Dick Award.  Professor at Univ. Redlands.  [JH]
  • Born April 19, 1967 – Steven H Silver, age 54.  Chaired Windycon XXIX-XXX, 42 (so some are in Roman, some in Arabic numerals; do you think anyone asked me?); co-chaired Nebula Award Weekend 2010 (with Peggy Rae Sapienza, making SHS a Lawn Mower), chaired 2015-2016.  Fan Guest of Honor at DeepSouthCon 49, Capricon 32.  Fanzine, Argentus; three guest-editorships on Journey Planet.  See here.  [JH]
  • Born April 19, 1978 – Aleksi Briclot, age 43.  A score of covers, two dozen interiors; comics, films, video games.  Collection Worlds and Wonders in French and English (here is his cover).  Here is the Sep 04 Deep Magic.  Here is Galaxies 42.  Here is The Rose of Sarifal.  Here is Boundless.  Here is Stranger Things 4. [JH]

(12) COMICS SECTION.

(13) NOT DRAWN THAT WAY. CBR.com says “DC’s Karate Kid Was Accidentally Drawn the Wrong Way for Years”.

… One of the other audacious things about Shooter’s story was that he actually added FOUR new Legionnaires to the Legion in that story! Can you imagine pitching an editor with a story where you add four new members to the team? But hey, it worked out! One of the things Shooter felt that the Legion lacked was action characters. He felt that everyone’s powers were too passive. Everyone just pointed and fired a blast from their fingers or whatever. So that’s why Shooter loved the idea of Karate Kid, and wow, devoting PAGES to a fight between Superboy and Karate Kid was a bold, bold gambit at the time…

The problem was, as Shooter explained to my pal Glen Cadigan in Glen’s seminal work, The Legion Companion (I’d link to it, but I think it’s out of print and I don’t think it does Glen any good for me to tell you go buy a used copy on Amazon, ya know?), “In my crummy drawings, he was Half-Asian…when Shelly drew him, he made him like an American. Which is a shame.” As I noted in another old Comic Book Legends Revealed, one of the other Legionnaires introduced in that issue, Ferro Lad, was going to be Black, but Mort Weisinger wouldn’t approve it. Shooter was trying to diversify the Legion and he kept coming up short….

(14) IMPOSTER SYNDROME. The Hollywood Reporter tells why “Tim Curry Once Got Thrown Out of a ‘Rocky Horror’ Screening”.

…[Curry] explained, “I went rather early on at the Waverly [Theatre] in New York where it started, and they thought I was an imposter. And they threw me out.” Curry noted he was not in costume when he was tossed.

The Waverly (now IFC Center) was the original home of the midnight audience-participation screenings of Rocky Horror, which then spread across the country and still takes place to this day.

Asked about his feelings on the audience-participation screening, he said, “I thought it was enormous fun. I was having a ball — and then I got thrown out.”…

(15) TIME TO PLAY. James Davis Nicoll’s latest Tor.com entry has nothing to do with curling: “A Game of Stones: Five Novels Set in Asteroid Belts”. On the list is –

Up Against It by M. J. Locke (2011)

By the 24th century, humans can be found everywhere in the solar system, from the inner system all the way out to the Kuiper belt. This is possible in large part thanks to a trade network spanning the system. The network ensures that vital resources like volatiles are transported cheaply and reliably from source to destination. A case in point: asteroid 25 Phocaea (and its one settlement, Zekeston) flourish because the settlement can import the volatiles it lacks.

What Zekeston accepts as necessity, others see as opportunity. A disaster leaves Zekeston short on volatiles. Ogilvie and Sons is the only company in a position to resupply Zekeston in time to save its population. Ogilvie and Sons is more than willing to do this, provided Zekeston submits to rule by Ogilvie and Sons. Zekeston’s head of resource management, Jane Navio, is determined to save her adopted community from the predatory corporation. Whether she can do so with the resources at hand—some sympathetic functionaries and a gang of plucky kids—is unclear.

(16) BIG EARS. YouTube has a sketch from last night’s The Simpsons called “Everyone Is Horrid Except Me (And Possibly You)” where Quilloughby of The Snuffs (voiced by Benedict Cumberbatch) shows up in Springfield and charms Lisa Simpson. Morrissey of The Smith’s manager Peter Katsis loudly complained the show was making fun of the artist.

(17) VIDEO OF THE DAY. In “Pirates of the Caribbean:  Dead Man’s Chest” on ScreenRant, Ryan George says there are “enough nautical-themed Maguffins to fill an entire movie” in the first ten minutes, but he notes that it’s never clear in the movie why Davy Jones has an octopus face.

[Thanks to Ben Bird Person, Hampus Eckerman, JJ, Jeffrey Smith, Mike Kennedy, Lise Andreasen, Martin Morse Wooster, John Hertz, Andrew Porter, John King Tarpinian, Michael Toman, and Cat Eldridge for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]

Pixel Scroll 4/15/21 Pixel Dawns On MarbleScroll

(1) PAY THE WRITER. Adam Whitehead in “Disney and Alan Dean Foster approaching settlement on royalties” at The Wertzone brings promising news:

Foster does not go into details, but notes on his webpage.

“The irritating imbroglio with Disney, which you may have read about, is moving towards a mutually agreeable conclusion. A formal statement will be forthcoming.”

Hopefully the matter will now be resolved and Disney will agree to uphold their contractual obligations moving forwards with both Foster and all other impacted authors.

For background, see Cora Buhlert’s post “The #DisneyMustPay Alan Dean Foster and SFWA Joint Press Conference”.

(2) NO, THE REAL WRITER. The Guardian says the proceeds of a literary prize were ripped off by scammers: “Rathbones Folio prize paid £30,000 to scammers posing as the winner”. (Incidentally, they did make it good to the genuine winner.)

… Publishing industry magazine the Bookseller revealed on Wednesday that the Folio, which is awarded to the year’s best work of literature regardless of form, was scammed by “sophisticated cyber-criminals”. The scammers posed as the Mexican author [Valeria] Luiselli, who had won with her novel Lost Children Archive, and requested that the £30,000 payment be made through PayPal.

Minna Fry, the prize’s executive director, confirmed that the funds were lost and that “the police were informed at the time, as were key industry colleagues”.

“Our winner Valeria Luiselli was awarded her prize money in full, and the lost funds were absorbed by cost savings elsewhere,” she added.

The prize is run by a charity and is independent from its sponsor, Rathbone Investment Management. Fry said the investment firm “have supported us through this incident and helped us to put in place additional safeguarding measures”.

This is not the first time a book prize has been targeted by fraudsters. A spokesperson for the Baillie Gifford prize for non-fiction, worth £50,000, confirmed that it was also targeted in November, but no funds were paid.

“Someone emailed pretending to be the 2020 winner Craig Brown and asked us to pay the prize money via PayPal,” a spokesperson for the prize told the Bookseller…

(3) EXIT THE WAYFARER UNIVERSE. On the Imaginary Worlds podcast “Becky Chambers Goes Wayfaring”.

Becky Chambers’ latest novel, “The Galaxy and The Ground Within,” is the final book in her Wayfarer series, which is about aliens, humans and AI trying to make their way through the galaxy and find common ground. Some of the characters in her books may seem fantastical and strange, but the conversations between them often revolve around familiar issues like identity, gender, family structure, and politics. We talk about why she’s closing this chapter in her writing career, even though the Wayfarer series could’ve gone on indefinitely, and what she has planned next.

(4) WEB OF LIES. [Item by Olav Rokne.] Spider-Man co-creator Stan Lee casts an oversized shadow across comic book fandom. But arguments abound about how much credit he deserves for the various works he is purportedly behind. In a new deeply-researched biography True Believer, journalist Abraham Riesman looks at this iconic figure. It’s a terrific book that perhaps people should be considering for Best Related Work on *next year’s* Hugo ballot, and that the Hugo Book Club Blog reviewed this week:  “The Lies That Bind”.

There is a long tradition of fandom idolizing a certain variety of PT Barnum-style self-promoter. This tradition has come under much-needed scrutiny in the past decade thanks to works such as Astounding by Alec Nevala-Lee and The Pleasant Profession of Robert A. Heinlein by Farrah Mendelsohn. Abraham Riesman’s True Believer is a welcome addition to this critical reckoning.

(5) SPOTTED IN GOTHAM. Did you know François Truffaut took the robot dog out of his film of Fahrenheit 451 because there was no technology for the dog? Well, that future has just about arrived: “NYPD Deploys ‘Creepy’ New Robot Dog In Manhattan Public Housing Complex” in Gothamist.

… The remote-controlled bot was made by Boston Dynamics, a robotics company famous for its viral videos of machines dancing and running with human-like dexterity. (Versions of “Spot,” as the mechanical dog is known, can open doors, and are strong enough to help tow an 18-wheeler.)

Since October, the NYPD has dispatched the robot to a handful of crime scenes and hostage situations, raising fears of unwanted surveillance and questions about the department’s use of public dollars. The mobile dog, which comes equipped with automated sensors, lights, and cameras capable of collecting “limitless data,” is sold at a starting price of $74,000.

A spokesperson for the NYPD said the robot dog was on standby, but not used, during a domestic dispute at East 28th Street on Monday afternoon. After a man allegedly barricaded himself inside a room with a mother and her baby, officers showed up and convinced him to let them exit. The man was arrested for weapons possession, police said….

(6) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

  • April 15, 1944 –On this day in 1944, The Monster Maker which was originally titled The Devil’s Apprentice premiered. It was directed by Sam Newfield and produced from a script written by by Sigmund Neufeld which was by Lawrence Williams, Pierre Gendron and Martin Mooney. It starred J. Carrol Naish, Talla Birell, Wanda McKay and Ralph Morgan. It was almost completely ignored by critics at the time and it currently holds an extremely low five percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes among audience reviewers. You can see it here.

(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]

  • Born April 15, 1452 – Leonardo da Vinci.  One of our greatest neighbors.  Among his many drawings were things that could almost be made then; dreaming them up, and depicting them, took imagination very much like SF authors’ and illustrators’.  Here is a 500th-anniversary exhibit I made for Dublin 2019 the 77th Worldcon with high-tech graphics wizard Elizabeth Klein-Lebbink (shown as it appeared at Loscon XLVI later; scroll down past Rotsler Award photos).  (Died 1519) [JH]
  • Born April 15, 1908 – Howard Browne.  Edited Amazing and Fantastic; five novels, a dozen shorter stories for us, some under other names; also detective fiction; films, television.  More here.  (Died 1999) [JH]
  • Born April 15, 1933 Elizabeth Montgomery. She’s best remembered as Samantha Stephens on Bewitched. Other genre roles included being Lili in One Step Beyond’s “The Death Waltz” which you can watch here. She also had on every-offs in The Twilight Zone, Alfred Hitchcock Presents, and voicing a Barmaid in the “Showdown” episode of Batman: The Animated Series. (Died 1995.) (CE)
  • Born April 15, 1937  Thomas F. Sutton. Comic book artist who’s best known for his contributions to Marvel Comics and  Warren Publishing’s line of black-and-white horror magazines. He’s particularly known as the first artist of the Vampirella series. He illustrated “Vampirella of Draculona”, the first story which was written by Forrest J Ackerman. (Died 2002.) (CE)
  • Born April 15, 1938 – Unipán Helga, age 83.  (Personal name last, Hungarian style.)  Designed more than a hundred twenty books, many ours.  Here is The Antics of Robi Robot (in Romanian).  Here is an interior from the Jun 73 Korunk (“Our Age”).   Here is Orthopedic Hat.  Here is The Vicissitudes of a Brave Mouse.  Here is Calendar of Nature.  [JH]
  • Born April 15, 1941 – Mal Dean.  Six covers, twoscore interiors for us.  Particularly associated with Michael Moorcock and the graphic-art Jerry Cornelius.  Here is the Jun 69 New Worlds.  Here is “The Duke of Queens duels Lord Shark the Unknown” illustrating MM’s “White Stars”.  Here is the Nov 75 – Jan 76 Other Times.  Outside our field, jazz trumpeter & bandleader, illustrator; cartoonist.  Here is a posthumous artbook.  (Died 1974) [JH]
  • Born April 15, 1949 – Tim Bolgeo.  Uncle Timmy chaired LibertyCons 1-25, Chattacons 7-11.  Fan Guest of Honor at Con*Stellation III (not this one), DeepSouthCon 43, StellarCon 33, LibertyCon 32.  Four decades a fixture in fandom.  (Died 2019) [JH]
  • Born April 15, 1949  Sharan Newman, 72. Author of the most excellent Guinevere trilogy (GuinevereChessboard Queen and Guinevere Evermore), a superb reinterpretation of the Arthurian saga . They’re available at the usual digital suspects as is her superb Catherine LeVendeur medieval mystery series. Alas her SF short stories are not. (CE) 
  • Born April 15, 1966 – Cressida Crowell, age 56.  A dozen novels, particularly about How to Train Your Dragon (eleven million copies sold) and The Wizards of Once.  Illustrates many of her own books.  Blue Peter Book Award.  “Children are surrounded by adults who are VERY BOSSY.  They might not always mean to be bossy, and they have the best of intentions, but still.”  [JH]
  • Born April 15, 1974 Jim C. Hines, 47. Winner at Chicon 7 of the Best Fan Writer Hugo. Author of the Goblin Quest series which I’ve read at least two of and enjoyed. Same for his Magic ex Libris series. Yeah more popcorn reading. (CE) 
  • Born April 15, 1990 Emma Watson, 31. Hermione Granger in the Harry Potter film franchise which lasted an entire decade. She was Belle in Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, and the voice of Prince Pea in The Tale of Despereaux. (CE) 
  • Born April 15, 1997 Maisie Williams, 24. She made her professional acting debut as Arya Stark of Winterfell in Game of Thrones. She was Ashildr, a Viking woman of unique skills, the principal character of “The Girl Who Died”, during the time of Twelfth Doctor who would be back several times more. She was Wolfsbane in the Marvel film New Mutants. (CE) 

(8) COMICS SECTION.

(9) CLARION CALLS. The Clarion Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers’ Workshop, organized by the Arthur C. Clarke Center for Human Imagination at UC San Diego, is hosting the Winter Writers Series, a monthly series of conversations between Clarion alumni and instructors about the art of speculative fiction and their writing careers. These conversations, co-hosted by Mysterious Galaxy Bookstore, are presented via Zoom Webinars and are free and open to the public. Each conversation will include time for Q&A with the audience. The next is —

Speculative Horror

April 21, 2021, 5pm PT / 8pm ET (register here)

Join us for a conversation about ins and outs of writing modern horror with three astounding writers and Clarion alumni/instructors who terrify and unsettle us.

Jeffrey Ford is the author of the novels The PhysiognomyThe Girl in the GlassThe Portrait of Mrs. CharbuqueThe Shadow YearThe Twilight Pariah, and Ahab’s Return. His story collections are The Fantasy Writer’s AssistantThe Empire of Ice CreamThe Drowned LifeCrackpot Palace, and A Natural History of Hell.

Victor LaValle is the author of the short story collection Slapboxing with Jesus, four novels, The EcstaticBig MachineThe Devil in Silver, and The Changeling and two novellas, Lucretia and the Kroons and The Ballad of Black Tom. He is also the creator and writer of a comic book Victor LaValle’s DESTROYER. He has been the recipient of numerous awards including the World Fantasy Award, British World Fantasy Award, Bram Stoker Award, Whiting Writers’ Award, a Guggenheim Fellowship, Shirley Jackson Award, American Book Award, and the key to Southeast Queens. He was raised in Queens, New York. He now lives in Washington Heights with his wife and kids. He teaches at Columbia University.

Sam J. Miller is the Nebula-Award-winning author of The Art of Starving (an NPR best of the year) and Blackfish City (a best book of the year for Vulture, The Washington Post, Barnes & Noble, and more – and a “Must Read” in Entertainment Weekly and O: The Oprah Winfrey Magazine). A recipient of the Shirley Jackson Award and a graduate of the Clarion Writers’ Workshop, Sam’s work has been nominated for the World Fantasy, Theodore Sturgeon, John W. Campbell and Locus Awards, and reprinted in dozens of anthologies. A community organizer by day, he lives in New York City. His latest novel is The Blade Between.

(10) LEEDS LIBRARY ARTICLE ON E.R. EDDISON. The Secret Library / Leeds Libraries Heritage Blog profiles the author in “Novels That Shaped Our World: Life, Death and Other Worlds”.

…In 1922 he published his first and most notable fantasy work, The Worm Ouroboros. The Worm, a serpent or snake, derived from the old Norse, ormr. This he followed with three volumes set in the imaginary world first observed by the Lords Juss and Brandoch Daha as they gaze from the top of great mountain, Koshstra Pevrarcha in The Worm, Zimiamvia, known as The Zimiamvian trilogyMistress of Mistresses (1935), A Fish Dinner in Memison (1941), and The Mezentian Gate (published posthumously in 1958). His Icelandic sagas were: Styrbiorn the Strong (1926) and his much admired translation of Egil’s Saga (1930).

In 1963 almost twenty years after Eddison’s death his late wife, Winifred Grace, and his close friend and literary executor, Sir George Rostrevor Hamilton deposited into the care of the special collections of the Leeds Central Library the vast majority of Eddison’s manuscript works….

(11) LIVE OCTOTHORPE. Big doings by John Coxon, Alison Scott and Liz Batty on the Octothorpe podcast.  Listen to Episode 29 here — “Ode to Badger”.

John is not Chris Garcia, Alison is full of beans, and Liz is T. S. Eliot. We handle letters of comment and then spend an hour talking about ConFusion in a BUMPER EPISODE.

You also are invited to join them for Octothorpe Live on 25 April – either join the Facebook group here or email them at octothorpecast@gmail.com for the Zoom link!

(12) VIDEO OF THE DAY. “Zack Snyder’s Justice League/Trilogy” on YouTube is HBO Max’s repackaging of Man Of Steel, Batman v. Superman, and Zack Snyder’s Justice League into a trilogy.

[Thanks to Edd Vick, Bruce D. Arthurs, John King Tarpinian, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, StephenfromOttawa, Cat Eldridge, James Davis Nicoll, Steven French, Michael Toman, John Hertz, Olav Rokne, Andrew Porter, and Mike Kennedy for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Andrew (not Werdna).]

Pixel Scroll 3/23/20 So Tomorrow We Are Heading Up That Scrolly Road, Rocks And All. Got Any Dragons You Need Pixeled?

(1) WORTH YOUR WHILE. Having seen what shoppers are lined up for, James Davis Nicoll tracked down five highly time-absorbent novels — “Five Massive SFF Books to Read While You’re Social-Distancing” at Tor.com.

Ash: A Secret History by Mary Gentle

Clocking in at a streamlined 1120 pages, Ash tells the tale of 15th century mercenary Ash, a woman whose Europe is both very much like and very much different from our own. A natural soldier, she is drawn into the effort to defend a disunited Europe from the Visigoth army that threatens the continent. Visigoth-ruled Carthage has numbers and a seemingly magical technology the Europeans cannot match. Key to the invader’s success: the Faris, a woman guided by mysterious Voices…a woman who could be Ash’s twin.

(2) INSTANT TSUNDOKU. Paul Weimer presents “Mind Meld: The 101 and the 201 of SFF” at Nerds of a Feather. The feature involves asking people a genre-related question and sharing their responses. Answering this time are Marissa Lingen, Megan O’Keefe, Alix Harrow, Adri Joy, Marina Berlin, Lisa McCurrach, Melissa Caruso, Andrew Hiller, Gareth Ryder-Hanrahan, Keena Roberts, J Kathleen Cheney, Elizabeth Fitz, Camestros Felapton, Catherine Lundoff, Sophia McDougall, and Julie Czerneda. His question is:

Some readers are looking for entry points into fantasy and pointing them at a book rich in the conversation and assumed tropes can throw them right out of it again. Other readers want more than a basic experience but are frustrated with novels that retread the same basics over and over.

So I’d like for you to recommend me *two* books:

1. A 101 SFF book that someone who may have seen Lord of the Rings but never cracked open an SFF book might fruitfully read. 
2. A 201 SFF book for someone looking for a deeper, richer experience, rewarding their previous reading in genre. 

(3) NEW ZEALAND GOING TO TOP ALERT LEVEL. Of concern for those hoping the 2020 Worldcon might still be held this summer, New Zealand’s Prime Minister announced yesterday that the nation has gone to Level 3 status, and tomorrow they will be going to Level 4 status for at least 4 weeks.

A New Zealand Herald article explains: “Coronavirus: What Covid-19 alert levels 3 and 4 mean for you and your family”.

New Zealand has 102 confirmed cases of coronavirus and is now at alert level 3 – and will move to level four for likely at least four weeks from Wednesday.

Alert level 3 means the risk of the potentially deadly virus not being contained and there will either be community transmission of the virus or multiple clusters breaking out.

Level 4 means people are instructed to stay at home, schools and universities closed, as well as non-essential businesses, major reprioritisation of health services, and severely limited travel.

Essential services will be open at all alert levels, but level level 3 means limited travel in areas with clusters of Covid-19 cases, affected educational facilities closed, mass gatherings cancelled, public venues closed (such as libraries, museums, cinemas, food courts, gyms, pools, amusement parks), some non-essential businesses closed, and non face-to-face primary care consultations, with non-elective services and procedures in hospitals deferred.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has just told the nation “we are all now preparing as a nation to go into self-isolation in the same way we have seen other countries do. Staying at home is essential”.

That would give the health system a chance to cope, she said.

(4) LAFFERTY FANS DISAPPOINTED. Laffcon, a one-day event about the works of R.A. Lafferty that had been scheduled for June 8 in Lawenceville, New Jersey has been postponed until June 2021.

(5) HELP NEEDED. A GoFundMe to help the late Kate Hatcher’s family has been launched by Rick Kovalcik: “Help Ben (and Ireland) Hatcher”.

As you may know, Kate Hatcher passed away early in March after battling pneumonia (http://file770.com/kate-hatcher-1974-2020/). She left behind her partner, Ben Hatcher, and a daughter with health issues, Ireland. Various people have asked if there is anything we could do for Ben and Ireland. Well, John Hertz called me yesterday and said Ben and Ireland really could use some money, especially in the next month, while Ben tries to straighten out the finances and government payments to Ireland. Since John is not on the Internet, the suggestion was that I create a GoFundMe and send the money to Ben Hatcher. I am doing so. As I did for the Boskone ASL Fund, I will make up the GoFundMe fees (up to the asking amount) in addition to my personal contribution so that Ben and Ireland get the full amount that people are donating.  As suggested by John Hertz, I will send Ben a money order on about March 31st with what is raised to that point and then follow up with additional funds as appropriate (perhaps weekly). If anyone wants to check the veracity of this, please feel free to contact John Hertz; if you don’t have his phone number, I can give it to you.

(6) FAN FAVORITES. The nerd folk duo doubleclicks will livestream interviews with two sff authors this week. (Times shown are PDT.)

TUESDAY:
11am: Interview with Hugo Award-Winning author Becky Chambers, author of the Wayfarers Series, which we’ve read about 2 dozen times. The second book has an AI in it whose story makes me feel one million things. Becky’s latest book is To Be Taught, If Fortunate and is also completely lovely!!

THURSDAY:
11am: interview with Hugo Award-Winning author Martha Wells, author of the Murderbot Diaries, which we’ve also read about 2 dozen times. This series is about a “robot” who just wants to binge tv shows and protect people and the books are so funny and real and emotional.

(7) A CHAPTER IN GENRE HISTORY. Joel Cunningham, the person who started the Barnes & Noble Sci-Fi & Fantasy Blog, tells the story of the site, which closed last December after five years. Thread starts here. He’s got a new job at Lifehacker. 

(8) NOSTALGIA AVAILABLE. [Item by Daniel Dern.] An Ontario guy set up a site with all sorts of old broadcasts and bits and pieces many locals grew up with. Did you know that in 1972, Dan Ackroyd voiced the call sign for a TV station? They also have Judith Merril’s post-show discussions of Doctor Who episodes from 1980, old commercials, stuff from the Buffalo TV stations … a lovely rabbit hole to slither down: Retrontario.com.

(9) PLAGUE INVADES THE LOCKED TOMB. Bad news for those awaiting the sequel to one of last year’s most talked about sff books. Tamsyn Muir told readers today —

(10) UNEVENLY DISTRIBUTED. “Not like the pictures”: “William Gibson Says Today’s Internet Is Nothing Like What He Envisioned”

William Gibson writes visionary stories — in his early work, he imagined an information superhighway long before the Web existed. But in a dozen novels over the last 35 years, Gibson has stalked closer and closer to the present.

His latest, Agency, has a complicated plot that jumps between the far future and the immediate present; Gibson says his favorite type of science fiction requires time and effort to understand. “My greatest pleasure in reading books by other people is to be dropped into a completely baffling scenario,” he says, “and to experience something very genuinely akin to culture shock when first visiting a new culture.”

Gibson imagined that sort of culture shock back in 1982 when he coined the word “cyberspace” in a short story. Two years later he popularized the term in his first novel, Neuromancer, about a washed up hacker hired for one last job.

…”He said once that he was wrong about cyberspace,” says author Lev Grossman, “and the internet when he first conceived it, he thought it was a place that we would all leave the world and go to. Whereas in fact, it came here.”

Grossman is a former book critic for Time magazine and author of the fantasy bestseller, The Magicians. “You have an artificial intelligence that is everywhere. It’s in all your devices. You’re looking through it as a lens to see the rest of the world. It’s an extraordinary vision of how computers will become aware, and become the thing that mediates between us and reality.”

But Gibson himself thinks the future of artificial intelligence will require human sensibility to take it to the next level. “Over the past few years, I’ve more and more frequently encountered people saying that the real change-bringer might not be something, an intelligence that we build from the ground up, but something like an uploaded healing consciousness that we then augment with the sort of artificial intelligence we already have.”

(11) WILD ABOUT HARRY. Marie Claire ran an article about nineandthreequartersco whose products we mentioned here the other day: “Harry Potter-inspired tea and coffee just launched in a whole range of magical flavours”. See more Harry Potter-themed beverages on the company’s Instagram page.

All the names take inspiration from J.K. Rowling’s fictional world; from ‘espresso patronum’, to ‘butter brew’, to ‘brew that must not be named’, there are flavours for every Potterhead.

The ‘espresso patronum’ coffee blend is, as you may have guessed, an espresso blend, promising to provide a smooth and chocolatey cup of coffee with a slightly fruity finish. The ‘butter brew’ coffee on the other hand, is a sweeter butterscotch flavour brew, taking inspiration from the beer the wizards drink at Hogsmede pub. More information about the other coffee flavours on their website.

(12) TODAY IN HISTORY.

  • March 23, 1962 — The third season episode of Twilight Zone entitled “Person or Persons Unknown” first aired. Written by Charles Beaumont Who wrote a number of other classic episodes in this series such as “The Howling Man” and “Number 12 Looks Just Like You”, he also was the scriptwriter for such films as  7 Faces of Dr. Lao and Queen of Outer Space. The premise of his script is simple: upon awaking from a bender, his protagonist find no one recognises him. Richard Long is David Andrew Gurney and the supporting cast are quite fine in their roles as well.  

(13) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born March 23, 1882 Charles Montague Shaw. His most remembered role came in 1936 as Professor Norton in the quite popular Undersea Kingdom serial. It was done in response to the Flash Gordon serial then being played. Ironically, he would appear several year later in the Flash Gordon’s Trip To Mars serial as the Clay King. (Died 1968.)
  • Born March 23, 1904 H. Beam Piper. I am reasonably sure that the first thing I read and enjoyed by him was Lord Kalvan of Otherwhen followed by Little Fuzzy and related works which are damn fun reading. Has anyone here read Scalzi’s Fuzzy novel? (Died 1964.)
  • Born March 23, 1934 Neil Barron. Certainly best known for Anatomy of Wonder: A Critical Guide to Science Fiction which actually is still a damn fine read which is unusual for this sort of material. If memory thirty years on serves me right, his Fantasy Literature and Horror Literature guides were quite good too. (Died 2010.)
  • Born March 23, 1937 Carl Yoke, 83. One of those academics that I stumbled upon when I was looking for information on Zelazny. His 1979 study of him, Roger Zelazny, is quite excellent, as is his essay, “Roger Zelazny’s Bold New Mythologies” which is to be in Tom Staicar’s Critical Encounters II: Writers and Themes in Science Fiction. He also wrote “What a Piece of Work is a Man: Mechanical Gods in the Fiction of Roger Zelazny” which you’ll find in Contributions to the Study of Science Fiction and Fantasy, one of those serious academic volumes no one really reads for the most part. Yoke does have two genre stories to his credit, they’re called The Michael Holland Stories.
  • Born March 23, 1952 Kim Stanley Robinson, 68. If the Mars trilogy was the only work that he’d written, he’d rank among the best genre writers ever. But then he went and wrote the outstanding Three Californias Trilogy. I won’t say everything he writes I consider top-flight, the Science in the Capital series just didn’t appeal to me. His best one-off novels I think are without argument (ha!) The Years of Rice and Salt and New York 2140.  I should note he has won myriad Awards including the Hugo Award for Best Novel, BSFA Award for Best Novel, the Nebula Award for Best Novel and the World Fantasy Award. And the Heinlein Society gave him their Robert A. Heinlein Award for his entire body of work! 
  • Born March 23, 1958 John Whitbourn, 62. Writer of a number novels and short stories focusing on an alternative history set in a Catholic universe. It reminds me a bit of Keith Robert’s Pavane but much more detailed. A Dangerous Energy in which Elizabeth I never ascends the throne leads off his series. If that’s not to your taste, Frankenstein’s Legion’s is a sheer delight of Steampunk riffing off Mary Shelley‘s tale. He’s available at the usual digital suspects. 
  • Born March 23, 1959 Maureen Kincaid Speller, 61. British reviewer and essayist who has been nominated for Hugos for Best Semiprozine and Best Fan Writer. She’s had an extensive career with her writing showing up in MatrixSteam Engine TimeThe Gate and Vector (all of which she either edited or co-edited), Barbed Wire KissesFire & HemlockLocal FanomenaRed Shift, Interzone and The BSFA Review. Other than a brief collection by BSFA, And Another Thing … A Collection of Reviews and Criticism by Maureen Kincaid Speller, her work has not yet been collected. 
  • Born March 23, 1977 Joanna Page, 43. It’s not the longest of genre resumes but it’s an interesting one. First, she’s Ann Crook in From Hell from the graphic novel by Alan Moore and Eddie Campbell. Next up is appearing in yet another version of The Lost World. (I think there’s there a legal contract requiring one be made every so often.) And finally she’s Queen Elizabeth I in The Day of The Doctor

(14) COMICS SECTION.

  • Bizarro answers the question, “What’s Heaven to a chicken?”
  • Bug-eyed aliens from Neptune invade Calvin & Hobbes.
  • Cul de Sac chronicles The Attack of the Monster Worm!  

(15) COMICS PIPELINE SHUT OFF. Bleeding Cool reports “Diamond Comic Distributors No Longer Taking In New Comics”.

Bleeding Cool has been informed by multiple senior industry figures that Diamond Comic Distributors is requesting that no more product be shipped to any of its warehouse until further notice. Product already in its warehouses will be distributed, such that it can, but after that they will be distributing no more comics, magazine, books, toys, games, or any other product until further notice….

The company’s reasons for the decision are chronicled at Adventures in Poor Taste: “Diamond Comics Distributor explains choice to halt shipping and marks March 25 as last slated shipment”.

… Our publishing partners are also faced with numerous issues in their supply chain, working with creators, printers, and increasing uncertainty when it comes to the production and delivery of products for us to distribute. Our freight networks are feeling the strain and are already experiencing delays, while our distribution centers in New York, California, and Pennsylvania were all closed late last week. Our own home office in Maryland instituted a work from home policy, and experts say that we can expect further closures. Therefore, my only logical conclusion is to cease the distribution of new weekly product until there is greater clarity on the progress made toward stemming the spread of this disease….

(16) CORONA CARTOONIST. In the Washington Post, Michael Cavna profiles Chen Wang, who uses the name “Messycow” for her cartoons, who uses her background as someone born in Wuhan but who now lives in Seattle, whose comics deal with how she copes with the coronavirus. “Chinese American cartoonist finds satire in coronavirus crisis — with a perspective from both cultures”.

“People in the rest of the world might not have known much at the time, but it was all people cared about in China,” says the artist, who has family in Wuhan. “I followed the news closely and experienced a lot of emotions.”

To channel those emotions creatively, she took a humorous tone with the comic “Quarantine Makes Life Better,” which depicted a faux-news report of characters coping with stay-at-home life.

(17) PIXAR’S ONWARD ONLINE. Adweek reports “Disney’s Onward Available for Digital Purchase Tonight as Coronavirus Shutters Theaters”.

Disney’s latest Pixar film, Onward, opened in theaters just two weeks ago, but the company is already making it available for digital purchase tonight, making it the latest current release to quickly migrate to video-on-demand platforms as the novel coronavirus’ spread wipes out traditional movie theater attendance.

The film, which follows the adventures of two elf brothers voiced by Tom Holland and Chris Pratt, will be available to purchase on digital platforms for $19.99 beginning at 8 p.m. ET, Disney said this morning.

It will then be released on Disney’s streaming service Disney+ just two weeks from now, on April 3.

(18) BRITISH FAN HISTORY. The British Science Fiction Association has made its archive of its official journal Vector available on the Fanac.org website: “Early Vector now open access”.

The BSFA have partnered with FANAC.org to make sixty years’ worth of back issues available free online. This collection includes for the first time scans of all of the first seven issues (editors inclue E.C. Tubb, Terry Jeeves, Roberta Gray, and Michael Moorcock).

Most of what has been digitized is now available on Fanac: issues from the 1980s and 1990s should follow shortly.

(19) COMFORT READS. The New York Times features includes a couple of genre books (one of them by Harlan Ellison): “Celeste Ng, Ann Patchett, Min Jin Lee and Others on the Books That Bring Them Comfort”.

Celeste Ng – ‘The Princess Bride,’ by William Goldman

In 1987, my sister was halfway through reading me “The Princess Bride” when she went off to college. The day she left, I cried myself to sleep — and then, after I got my bearings again, I read the rest of the book on my own. So this has always been a comfort read for me: a fairy tale that acknowledges that life isn’t fair (“It’s just fairer than death, that’s all”) yet still manages to make you feel that the good guys might win, that justice will be served, that there’s a point to it all. If you only know the (fantastic) film, pick the book up, too — it’s just as much of a delight. —Celeste Ng’s most recent book is “Little Fires Everywhere.”

(20) DEPTH SHALL NOT RELEASE YOU. BBC has the bad news — “Climate change: Earth’s deepest ice canyon vulnerable to melting”.

East Antarctic’s Denman Canyon is the deepest land gorge on Earth, reaching 3,500m below sea-level.

It’s also filled top to bottom with ice, which US space agency (Nasa) scientists reveal in a new report has a significant vulnerability to melting.

Retreating and thinning sections of the glacier suggest it is being eroded by encroaching warm ocean water.

Denman is one to watch for the future. If its ice were hollowed out, it would raise the global sea surface by 1.5m.

…Most people recognise the shores around the Dead Sea in the Middle East to have the lowest visible land surface elevation on Earth, at some 430m below sea level. But the base of the gorge occupied by Denman Glacier on the edge of the East Antarctic Ice Sheet (EAIS) actually reaches eight times as deep.

This was only recently established, and it has made Denman a location of renewed scientific interest.

(21) NOT BLASTS FROM THE PAST.  Got to love this title: “Not Rocket Science: SF Stories Involving Alternatives to Space Rocketry”, a Tor.com post by James Davis Nicoll:

…A cousin to the sling is the accelerator, a (presumably firmly bolted down) device which uses some force other than centripetal to accelerate payloads. Such devices have some obvious limits (namely, power supply, heat management, and the trade-off between accelerations low enough not to crush the payload and final velocities high enough to be useful). They also have advantages, not least of which is not having to haul a gigawatt-plus power supply off-planet and across space. Accelerators of various kinds go way back in science fiction, at least as far as Jules Vernes’ From the Earth to the Moon, whose Baltimore Gun Club delivers a living payload past the Moon using a very, very large gun. No, larger than that.

Various flavours of accelerators show up all through SF. One of the more striking examples is Michael Swanwick’s Vacuum Flowers, whose “transit rings” manipulate space-time to accelerate payloads to high speeds without the payloads feeling the forces involved. I wonder if this was inspired by Robert Forward’s Guidelines to Antigravity

(22) LET THE SUNSHINE IN. Oh, sure, if you’re going to count everything“Electric car emissions myth ‘busted'”

Fears that electric cars could actually increase carbon emissions are a damaging myth, new research shows.

Media reports have questioned if electric cars are really “greener” once emissions from manufacture and electricity generation are counted.

The research concludes that in most places electric cars produce fewer emissions overall – even if generation still involves fossil fuels.

Other studies warn that driving overall must be reduced to hit climate targets.

The new research from the universities of Exeter, Nijmegen – in The Netherlands – and Cambridge shows that in 95% of the world, driving an electric car is better for the climate than a petrol car.

The only exceptions are places like Poland, where electricity generation is still mostly based on coal.

(23) SEA FOR YOURSELF. SYFY Wire applauds a scientific development: “Creepy Extinct Fish With Fingers Unearths The Bizarre Truth Of How Hands Evolved”.

Humans may not be directly related to fish (except maybe Abe Sapien or that creature from The Shape of Water), but the fossil of an extinct fish known as Elpisostege watsoni was a breakthrough for a research team from Flinders University in Australia and Universite de Quebec a Rimouski in Canada. This literal fish out of water had fingers, as in actual finger bones, in its pectoral fins. Its 380-million-year-old skeleton revealed how vertebrate fingers evolved from fins — and how prehistoric fish morphed into tetrapods.

(24) ANCIENT PILOT. William Shatner was Archie Goodwin in this adaptation of Nero Wolfe.

An unsold, 1959 pilot for a proposed NERO WOLFE TV series starring Kurt Kasznar as Nero Wolfe and William Shatner as Archie Goodwin. The theme was composed by Alex North. Rumor has it there are two additional unsold pilots with this cast out there somewhere.

(25) VULCAN LIVES. John Prine’s “Lonesome Friends of Science” is news to me!

“This song here is an epic.  This tells you about the humiliation of the planet Pluto, when it was told it was no longer a planet, the romantic escapades of the Vulcan in Birmingham, Alabama, and the end of the world as we know it.  All in a little over four minutes.” 

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, JJ, Chip Hitchcock, Martin Morse Wooster, Nancy Lebovitz, Cat Eldridge, Daniel Dern, Michael Toman, rcade, Joe Siclari, Mike Kennedy, Ben Bird Person, Darrah Chavey, Iphinome, Michael J. Walsh, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contirebiting editor of the day Brian Z.]