Pixel Scroll 5/15/21 What Can You Get A Pixel For Christmas When He Already Owns A Scroll?

(1) SUCCESSFUL SURGERY. Amazing Stories’ Kermit Woodall says “Steve Davidson’s Heart Surgery is Successful!”

I got the call a few hours ago (didn’t know what it was and it went to voicemail) and just listened to it. Steve’s doctor said all went well and he’s doing fine in recovery!

(2) OH, THE NEUTRINOS YOU’LL BASH. The New York Times profiles the author in “Andy Weir’s New Space Odyssey”.

“The real world is a far richer and more complex tapestry than any writer could invent,” Andy Weir, the author of “Project Hail Mary,” said.

When Andy Weir was writing his new novel, “Project Hail Mary,” he stumbled into a thorny physics problem.

The book’s plot hinges on a space mold that devours the sun’s energy, threatening all life on Earth, and that propels itself by bashing neutrinos together. He needed to figure out how much energy would be produced by two of those subatomic particles colliding.

“I was having a really difficult time finding information on that, and the reason is because people don’t fully know. I mean, we’re getting to the edge of human knowledge on that one,” Weir said in an interview last month from his home in Saratoga, Calif. “Neutrinos are the smallest and most difficult to deal with subatomic particles that we have ever actually managed to prove exist.”

Most sci-fi writers would err on the side of fiction rather than science. But Weir has never been satisfied with fictional solutions to scientific quandaries. He eventually figured out the number he needed for a single sentence — 25.984 microns — and, in the process, learned a lot about neutrinos.

“You have something like 100 trillion neutrinos passing through you, personally, every second,” he said excitedly. “Just being emitted by the sun.”

(3) WEIR Q&A. Dr. Brian Keating interviews the author in “Andy Weir: Project Hail Mary = Even Better than the Martian!”. Some of the questions are:

  • How do you balance realism and scientific fact with a fictional narrative?
  • Could you really mobilize resources at a planetary scale?
  • Do you think it’s realistic to turn an amateur avocation into a career?
  • Is there too much UFOlogy? What’s your stance on SETI and UFOs?
  • Do you think we’ve been going about SETI the wrong way?

Andy Weir built a two-decade career as a software engineer until the success of his first published novel, The Martian , allowed him to live out his dream of writing full-time. He is a lifelong space nerd and a devoted hobbyist of such subjects as relativistic physics, orbital mechanics, and the history of manned spaceflight. He also mixes a mean cocktail. He lives in California.

(4) EVERYONE’S A CRITIC. Some would call this common beginning and ending point Joycean. Some will get that call and hang up. Thread starts here.

(5) FOUR’S A CHARM. Charles Payseur’s Hugo nomination made the news in Wisconsin: “Beyond Belief: Local Author Named Finalist For Hugo Awards – For the Fourth Time” at Volume One. Payseur blogs at Quick Sip Reviews.

… Payseur said he’s grateful for the recognition he said is largely the result of years of consistent effort and a deep affinity for sci-fi/fantasy writing. His own writing, combined with blogs and reviews, landed him on the Hugo map, he said, noting that during the past six years he has reviewed more than 5,000 short fiction and poetry works. His Hugo recognition “comes on the back of my nonfiction work, my blogging and reviewing, and most of that probably comes down to just keeping at it and trying my best to engage with other people’s work openly, thoroughly, and compassionately,” Payseur said.

… Payseur, a 2008 UW-Eau Claire graduate in English, enjoys a variety of different writing styles, from poetry to romance to mystery. But ultimately science fiction and fantasy “with a dash of horror” is his favorite form to write and read.

Payseur has penned a book, The Burning Day and Other Strange Stories, published by Lethe Press and scheduled for release this summer. The work is a compilation of short stories – some of which he wrote years ago and some more recently. The Burning Day is a reflection of Payseur’s questioning of himself and the world around him, he said, examining “desire, nostalgia, and hope in a time when the past and future don’t exactly seem bright.”…

(6) TWO FOR THE PRICE OF NONE. Bruce Gillespie’s SF Commentary 105 (March 2021) and SF Commentary 106 (May 2021) are available as free downloads here. Bruce comments —

They are really two parts of one issue, 80 pages each. No. 105 includes my natter, plus Colin Steele’s reviews column, and the first half of the Gigantic Letter Column, plus covers by Carol Kewley and Alan White.

No. 106 includes my tribute to Yvonne Rousseau (1945–2021), noted Australian fan, critic, essayist and editor; Perry Middlemiss’s article about the 1960s Hugos; Andrew Darlington’s discussion of early John Brunner; Jennifer Bryce’s Top 10 Books of 2020; and with Tony Thomas, a coverage of the most recent Booker Prizes. Plus the second half of the Gigantic Letter Column.

(7) HEAR AUDIO OF A FIFTIES EASTERCON PLAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] “Last and First Fen” is a play that was performed at the 1956 Eastercon and recently put online by Rob Hansen as part of his invaluable research into British fan history.  If this play was a transcript it would have to be heavily annotated.  I got none of the jokes about British fen and only a few of the references to Americans.  But I nonetheless got the gist of the production and thought it was agreeably silly, especially for people who like British comedy of the era.  I thought it was worth an hour.  The website also has photos of what cosplayers looked like in 1956. The audio recording is here.

(8) WIBBLY WOBBLY WEATHER. James Davis Nicoll is your ambassador to “Five Fictional Planets Plagued by Extreme Climate Shifts” at Tor.com.

…SF authors being what they are, those whose works feature climate forcing due to companion stars tend to prefer dramatic oscillations rather than low, single percent wobbles. One might expect that such works would have first shown up in these times of worry over anthropogenic climate change. Not so! This was already a well-established genre. Consider the following works from times of yore:

Cycle of Fire by Hal Clement (1957)

Precisely how ancient red dwarf Theer came to orbit much younger, far more massive Alcyone is unclear. The consequences, however, are obvious. Theer’s habitable world Abyormen cycles between comfortable temperate conditions and overheated and wet greenhouse conditions. Abyormen’s life has adapted in ways Terrestrials would find astounding.

Providentially for castaway Nils Kruger, inadvertently abandoned on Abyormen by fellow crewpersons, Abyormen is in the temperate part of its cycle. Even better, he encounters native Dar Lang Ahn, in whose company he explores an alien world Nils is unlikely to leave soon. Thus, he gains knowledge of just how Abyormen’s life has adapted to its periodic baking. To his distress, he realizes that these adaptations could make the likeable aliens a threat to humanity….

(9) DO YOU HAVE GOOD TASTE? In the Washington Post, Alexandra Petri meets a creature who’s hungry for people to come back to the office. “Only the least tasty employees work from home!”

Is it good and important to go back to the office? Oh yes! Oh yes! It is so very good and important, and I am so glad that you asked me! I know all that transpires in the office, and how very good and important it is to be there — yes, for everyone to be there! Everyone must be in the office with their assorted smells and their good meaty legs! It is bad that the office is empty of people and filled only with the scent of hand sanitizer and flat sodas that were opened in March 2020. There is no nourishment in this! How the management yearns for a return of the workers! How it is ravenous for them! How it hungers for them!…

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]

  • Born May 15, 1856 — L. Frank Baum. I adore The Wizard of Oz film and I’m betting you know that it only covers about half of the novel which is a splendid read indeed. I’ll confess that I never read the numerous latter volumes in the Oz franchise, nor have I read anything else by him. What’s the rest of his fiction like?  There is, by the way, an amazing amount of fanfic out here involving Oz and of it is slash. (Died 1919.) (CE) 
  • Born May 15, 1891 – Mikhail Bulgakov.  Had he only written The Master and Margarita, that would have sufficed us.  Margarita, not the Master, allies herself with the Devil – maybe; I talk a little about it here; published decades after his death, too dangerous.  Mick Jagger said it inspired “Sympathy for the Devil”.  Try this Website.  See also DiaboliadThe Fatal EggsHeart of a Dog. Two rival museums in Moscow – in the same building; one in Kiev.  (Died 1940) [JH]
  • Born May 15, 1919 – Harry Bennett.  Thirty covers, half a dozen interiors.  Here is The “Lomokome” Papers.  Here is The White Jade Fox.  Here is Floating Worlds.  Here is The Last Enchantment.  Here is the frontispiece for a Short Stories of Oscar Wilde.  (Died 2012) [JH]
  • Born May 15, 1926 — Anthony Shaffer. His genre screenplays were Alfred Hitchcock’s Frenzy and Robin Hardy’s The Wicker Man. Though definitely not genre, he wrote the screenplays for a number of most excellent mysteries including the Agatha Christie based  Evil Under the Sun,Death on the Nile, and Murder on the Orient Express. (Died 2001.) (CE) 
  • Born May 15, 1946 – Michaelene Pendleton.  Eight short stories.  Editor, particularly ESL (work written in English as a second language) “because I learn about your culture through your writing.”  (Died 2019) [JH]
  • Born May 15, 1955 – Tatsumi Takayuki, age 66.  (Personal name last, Japanese style.)  Professor at Keiô University, chair of its SF Study Group; editor, essayist, interviewer, theoretician; Nihon SF Taishô (Grand Prize) from SFWJ (Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of Japan).  President, Amer. Literature Society of Japan 2014-2017, Poe Soc. of Japan 2009-  ; editorial boards of ParadoxaMark Twain StudiesJournal of Transnat’l Amer. Studies.  In English, for NY Review of SFSF ChronicleSF EyeSF Studies, the 65th and 72nd Worldcons’ Souvenir Books; The Liverpool Companion to World SF FilmThe Cambridge History of Postmodern Literature.  [JH]
  • Born May 15, 1955 — Lee Horsley, 66. A performer who’s spent a lot of his career in genre undertakings starting with The Sword and the Sorcerer (and its 2010 sequel Tales of an Ancient Empire), horror films Nightmare ManThe Corpse Had a Familiar Face and Dismembered and even a bit of SF in Showdown at Area 51. Not sure where The Face of Fear falls — it has a cop with psychic powers and a serial killer. (CE) 
  • Born May 15, 1960 — Rob Bowman, 61. Producer of such series as Alien NationM.A.N.T.I.S.Quantum LeapNext Generation, and The X-Files. He has directed these films: The X-FilesReign of Fire and Elektra. He directed one or several episodes of far too many genres series to list here.  (CE) 
  • Born May 15, 1966 — Greg Wise, 55. I’m including him solely as he’s in Tristram Shandy: A Cock and Bull Story. It is a film-within-a-film, featuring Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon playing themselves as egotistical actors during the making of a screen adaptation of Laurence Sterne’s 18th century metafictional novel Tristram Shandy. Not genre (maybe) but damn fun. (CE)
  • Born May 15, 1974 – Ahmet Zappa, age 47.  Brother of Dweezil, Moon Unit, and Diva; wrote song “Frogs with Dirty Little Lips” with his father Frank.  Debut novel (and interiors), The Monstrous Memoirs of a Mighty McFearless; debut film, The Odd Life of Timothy Green; television, three-season host of Robotica; co-author with wife Shana Muldoon Zappa, Sage and the Journey to Wishworld and 14 more Star Darlings books. [JH]
  • Born May 15, 1991 – Julie Novakova, age 30.  In English, a score of short stories, two anthologies; recent essay in Clarkesworld 174 (Mar 2021).  Seven novels in Czech.  Website (in Czech and English).  As of 11 May 21 Kickstarter looks good for Life Beyond Us.  [JH]

(11) FANTASTIC FOUR TURNS SIXTY. Marvel Comics is celebrating the 60th anniversary of the Fantastic Four, and artist John Romita, Jr. has returned to the company just in time to help.

Following the highly anticipated BRIDE OF DOOM storyline, August’s FANTASTIC FOUR #35 will be a special giant-sized spectacular that will see series writer Dan Slott teaming up with legendary artist John Romita Jr.

Recently returned to the House of Ideas, Romita Jr. is back to bringing his incredible artwork to Marvel’s biggest heroes, starting with this celebratory 60th anniversary issue for Marvel’s First Family. FANTASTIC FOUR #35 will launch a brand-new storyline that will see every iteration of the iconic villain Kang teaming up for a devious plot that will unravel across Fantastic Four history!

(12) I’VE BEEN WORKING ON THE RAILROAD. Mr. Muffin’s Trains offers these two irresistible additions to your model railroad’s rolling stock:

(13) SHOCKED, I TELL YOU. Of course there should be a stolen body involved in this story! ScreenRant points a finger as “Resident Evil Village Accused Of Stealing Horror Movie’s Monsters”.

Resident Evil Village has a number of new and rather unique monsters for the franchise, but one of them may have been stolen from a film. One of the most noteworthy bosses in Resident Evil Village is a creature that is half man, half aircraft propeller, and apparently, the director of the 2013 film Frankenstein’s Army believes Capcom knowingly ripped it off along with other characters in that same section of the game.

Resident Evil as a franchise is known for its imaginative, well-realized monsters, such as Lady Dimitrescu in Resident Evil Village. Oftentimes the disgusting and violent villains become incredibly iconic and are held up highly in the survival horror genre. The series has birthed the likes of Mr. X, the Nemesis, the Chainsaw Man, and many more, but some of the franchise’s latest creations may not be wholly original….

(14) IT’S NO TRICK. Julia Alexander’s Musings on Mouse contends “Loki is now a sign of Disney+’s strength”.

… None of this implies that Disney+ is struggling by any means. It’s not. But whereas competitors might give subscribers more reasons to open the app daily, Disney+ is still looking for its constant. Disney+’s catalog makes up 4% of catalog demand in the US, according to Parrot Analytics, behind all of the other big streamers. Internal restrictions (nothing above PG-13 can be on the app, nothing outside of Disney’s core brands) means the catalogue can only grow so large each month. 

We’re getting there, though. Disney moving Loki to Wednesdays is in part because The Bad Batch is running on Fridays through mid-August. In-between that time, Disney is bringing back High School Musical: The Musical: The Series (on Fridays) and see big movie debuts, including Cruella and Black Widow in May and July respectively. Disney+ has appointment viewing spots for Friday and into the weekend. But Disney wants to increase consistency in engagement throughout the week. 

Disney is in a rare position where over the next 10 months the company will have a high profile show or movie every single day, every single week. A new movie, overlapping Marvel shows, a Star Wars series, a Pixar series, and other potentially big live-action projects. These series overlap and create a consistent flow of appointment television that all bleed into one another. For all the conversation about “franchise fatigue,” statistically that’s not present in actual consumer behavior. 

There’s a reason that consistency is key to any business model, but with streaming, if subscribers are consistently opening and using a platform, this leads to less churn and Disney feels better about raising prices incrementally. This helps with overall ARPU in important regions. Or, to put it simply, Wall Street is happy, Disney executives are happy, and consumers are fine with the increase because the value is apparent. …

(15) EVERBODY WATCHES, NOBODY QUITS. If you haven’t already satisfied your daily minimum requirement for deconstructing Verhoeven’s Starship Troopers, it’s time to watch the second installment of Kyle Kallgren’s analysis: “STARSHIP TROOPERS, Part 2: VERHOEVEN”. (Part 1 is here.)

(16) YOUR EPISTEMOLOGY DOLLARS AT WORK. Public television is here to help you decide an important question: “PBS Space Time – How To Know If It’s Aliens.”

There’s one rule on Space Time: It’s never Aliens. But every rule has an exception and this rule is no exception because: It’s never aliens, until it is. So is it aliens yet? And on this fortnight’s Space Time they have been examining all the best case scenarios for life beyond Earth.

[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, John Hertz, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, Jennifer Hawthorne, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, Bruce Gillespie, James Davis Nicoll, and Michael Toman, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Jack Lint.]

Yvonne Rousseau (1945–2021)

Yvonne Rousseau. Photo by Jenny Blackford.

By Bruce Gillespie: With great sorrow we learn that Yvonne Rousseau died on Saturday, 13 February, in the Heidelberg Repatriation Hospital, Melbourne, from Parkinson’s disease. She had suffered from Parkinson’s from before she returned to Melbourne from Adelaide four years ago, after her husband John Foyster died there in 2003, but had entered hospital only two months ago.

She leaves behind her daughter Vida Weiss (who has kept us all informed over recent months), her sisters Val and Glenda, and her brother Linton, and their families; sister-in-law Jo; and former husband Mick Weiss, as well as the friends who enabled her to move back to Melbourne (Kathy and Ian, and Jane and Richard). Her brother George died several years ago.

She had a great ability to make and keep close personal friends, including those in the worldwide science fiction community and the Australian literary and editing world.

She was a Life Member of the Victorian Society of Editors, and was the author of The Murders at Hanging Rock, several published short stories (the best known being “The Importance of Being Oscar”), and many penetrating critical and personal articles.

She was a member of the Collective who published Australian Science Fiction Review, Second Series, and contributor to ASFR, SF Commentary, and many other publications. We feel keenly the loss of Yvonne’s generous and modest personality and her fine mind.

[Reprinted by permission from Facebook.]

Pixel Scroll 11/26/20 A Hard Pixel’s Gonna Scroll

(1) WHOSE TABLE DO YOU WANT TO SIT AT? [Item by Mike Kennedy.] Writing for SYFY Wire, Brian Silliman runs down a dozen genre families (loosely defined) you might like to visit at Thanksgiving. The surviving members of LotR’s Fellowship (supplemented a bit) is included as is the Devil himself. What family not included in Silliman’s list would you pick? “The 12 genre families we’d most want to spend Thanksgiving with”.

… In the world of genre storytelling, there are countless examples of families, tribes, clans, and groups who only manage to keep hope alive because they have each other. Some of these families have seriously been through it, and many losses have happened. They get through it, and if you have nowhere else to turn this holiday season, you may be inspired by their example. You may be comforted by spending some imaginary time with them. In some instances, you may just want to have a little fun. Remember fun? It’s a thing. It’ll be back. Bet on it, bet on it, bet on it, bet on it. 

The Fam (Doctor Who)

Any chance to go aboard the TARDIS is an instant yes, as is any chance to meet any Doctor that this show has featured. We’re currently skipping along with 13, Graham, Ryan, and Yaz, though… also known as “the fam.” They’re the ones with which our giving of thanks will be done with. 

This foursome would give fun and kindhearted good cheer to anyone, and we know that the TARDIS can use its time circuits to cook a turkey. The issue here is that we’d turn into the holiday guests who never leave — once we’re in that box, we’re there for life. Deal with it, Timeless Child! You already have three companions, what’s one more? We may even fall in love, but let’s not label anything right now. Pass those carrots, Yaz! 

(2) MALIK Q&A. Lightspeed Magazine features the Pakistani author in “Interview: Usman T. Malik”.

Nine Pakistani artists and designers were commissioned to illustrate your collection. Tell us a little about why you wanted to have each story illustrated.

When I was a child, some of my favorite books were illustrated editions of Edgar Allan Poe and Arthur Conan Doyle. Sketch art and color plates by Arthur Rackham, Harry Clarke, Edward Gorey, and Gustave Doré would send my imagination soaring. This was much before I realized I was a colonial experiment—a middle-class mule with dreams and riches dangled before him as he trots along with a hundred million others. The mule’s been trained to dream a certain way, to crave the carrot and thrill at the whiplash until he thinks those are things he wants. Perhaps—or sometimes—we grow up and realize we want subversion but on our terms, not on the terms of masters past or present.

I wanted those stories illustrated my way. I wanted the Old and New Worlds to meet but at a crossroads of my choosing, at the terms of my people. That is also one reason I opted to bring out my debut collection in Pakistan rather than elsewhere.

(3) DUE DILIGENCE. Camestros Felapton is mulling over ways to decide what he should vote for in the Best Video Game Hugo category in 2021. Today he followed his opening salvo, “Video Game Hugo”, with more deep thoughts in “What is it like to be in a world”.

…Certainly a book or a film can have characters do the same but a video game is obliged to have a consistent behaviour for how this departure from reality works and also forces the player to get to grips with what it would be like to be in a world where such a thing was possible.

Given that, I should really consider the non-narrative SFF elements of a game. Doing so would mean that games without narrative elements should be considered potentially strong contenders….

(4) CHANGING GATE. Congratulations to Black Gate on a successful site migration – a lot of stuff they had to make work: Black Gate is Moving!”

…This wasn’t exactly an easy process (not according to the exhausted late-night calls we got from Support at our new service provider, anyway). It involved moving over 211,000 files, uncounted gigs of images, sound files (who uploaded sound files?), and strange databases apparently created by DAW Books in the 1970s. Our offices look like a Marvel Studios sound stage after a wrap party.

(5) READ SCIENCE FICTION COMMENTARY. Bruce Gillespie has produced another issue of his epic sercon fanzine Science Fiction Commentary – download issue #104 here at eFanzines.

A wide variety of material includes personal stuff (including lockdown pleasures) by Bruce Gillespie; a tribute to Phil Ware by Lync; and Edwina Harvey and Robert Day’s reports on the 2019 and 2020 Worldcons. William Breiding wanders the high cold deserts of USA. Jennifer Bryce, Robert Lichtman, and Guy Salvidge tell of past incidents and accidents in their lives. Michael Bishop, Jenny Blackford, and Tim Train contribute poems. And the ‘Criticanto’ section includes review-articles by Paul Di Filippo, Cy Chauvin, Henry Gasko, Murray MacLachlan, Ian Mond, and Michelle Worthington.

(6) BLACK FRIDAY. Tomorrow Blows Against The Empire: 50th Anniversary will be a SpecialRelease at Record Store Day. John A Arkansawyer sent the link with a comment, “I want it pretty bad. I’ve got the original cover (which this is) and the redo (which moves the title to the top for ease in finding in the bin). I’m hoping for a nice reprint of the booklet to go along with it all.”  The album was a Hugo nominee in 1971.

With most of the members of Jefferson Airplane missing in action, Paul Kantner and Grace Slick holed up in a San Francisco studio in 1970 alongside a cast of West Coast rock ‘n’ roll legends including Jerry Garcia, David Crosby and Mickey Hart to cut what would become Kantner’s finest solo work, his rock space-opera, Blows Against The Empire. This 180g 50th anniversary edition LP is pressed on green marble vinyl for RSD Black Friday.

Side A: “Mau Mau (Amerikon)”, “The Baby Tree”, “Let’s Go Together”, “A Child Is Coming”
Side B: “Sunrise,” “Hijack”, “Home”, “Have You Seen The Stars Tonite”, “X-M”, “Starship”

(7) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

  • November 26, 1986 Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home premiered. It was directed by Leonard Nimoy who wrote it with Harve Bennett. It was produced by Steve Meerson, Peter Krikes, Nicholas Meyer and Harve Bennett. It starred the entire original original Trek cast. It would lose out to Aliens at Conspiracy ’87. The film’s less than serious attitude and rather unconventional story were well liked by critics and fans of the original series along with the general public. It was also a box office success. And it has an exemplary eighty-three percent rating among audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes. (CE)

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]

  • Born November 26, 1909 – Berkeley Livingston.  One novel, five dozen shorter stories for Amazing and Fantastic under his own name and others, called fast-paced, imaginative, tightly-plotted, or parody that unfairly gave him a reputation as an author of bad work – you pay your money and you take your choice.  (Died 1975) [JH]
  • Born November 26, 1910 Cyril Cusack. Fireman Captain Beatty on the classic version of Fahrenheit 451. He’s Mr. Charrington, the shopkeeper in Nineteen Eighty-four, and several roles on Tales of the Unexpected rounds out his genre acting. Well and what looks like an absolutely awful Tam-Lin… (Died 1993.) (CE)
  • Born November 26, 1919 Frederik Pohl. Writer, editor, and fan who was active for more seventy five years from his first published work, the 1937 poem “Elegy to a Dead Satellite: Luna” to his final novel All the Lives He Led. That he was great and that he was honoured for being great is beyond doubt — If I’m counting correctly, He won four Hugo and three Nebula Awards, and his 1979 novel Jem, Pohl won a U.S. National Book Award in the one-off category Science Fiction. SWFA madr him its 12th recipient of the Damon Knight Memorial Grand Master Award in 1993 and he was inducted by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Hall of Fame in 1998. Ok, setting aside Awards which are fucking impressive, there’s the matter of him editing Galaxy Science Fiction and (and its UK sister edition), IfStar Science Fiction Magazine (which I’ve never heard of), Super Science Stories and well let’s just say the list goes on. I’m sure I’ve not listed something that y’all like here. As writer, he was amazing. My favorite was the Heechee series though I confess some novels were far better than others. Gateway won the Hugo Award for Best Novel, the 1978 Locus Award for Best Novel, the 1977 Nebula Award for Best Novel, and the 1978 John W. Campbell Memorial Award for Best Science Fiction Novel. Very impressive. Man Plus I think is phenomenal, the sequel less so. Your opinion of course will no doubt vary. The Space Merchants co-written with Cyril M. Kornbluth in 1952 is, I think, damn fun. He wrote a lot of short fiction, some I think brilliant and some not not but that was true of most SF writers of the time.  (Died 2014.) (CE)
  • Born November 26, 1939 Tina Turner, 81. She gets noted here if only for being the oh so over the top Aunty Entity in Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome but let’s not forget her as The Acid Queen in Tommy as well and for appearing as The Mayor in The Last Action Hero which is at least genre adjacent. (CE) 
  • Born November 26, 1939 – Gaelyn Gordon.  Eight novels, as many shorter stories.  Quit teaching, went to writing, because “the people I teach … [I] often have a fairly good idea of what sort of adults they’ll be; I haven’t the faintest idea what the story I’m writing [will] turn out to be.”  At her death the New Zealand Children’s Literature Foundation established an award in her name for children’s books unheralded at the time of publication which stayed in print and proved popular with children.  In Several Things are Alive and Well and Living in Alfred Brown’s Head AB’s brain is taken over by aliens.  (Died 1997) [JH]
  • Born November 26, 1945 Daniel Davis, 75. I’m singling him out for Birthday Honors for having his two excellent appearances as Professor Moriarty on Next Gen. He has one-offs on MacGyverGotham and Elementary. He played The Judge in The Prestige film. He also voiced several characters on the animated Men in Black series. (CE) 
  • Born November 26, 1949 – Victoria Poyser-Lisi, 71.  Two Hugos as Best Fanartist; also pro work.  Eighty covers, fifty interiors for us; more elsewhere (e.g. here is a plein air watercolor).  Guest of Honor at Windycon X; Kubla Khan 14 with Frank R. Paul Award.  Guest Artist at the 11th World Fantasy Con.  Here is The Harper Hall of Pern.   Here is Masters of Glass.  Here is The Eyes of the Overworld.   Here is the Sep 91 SF Chronicle.  [JH]
  • Born November 26, 1951 Van Ikin, 69. Australian editor and writer best known for his editorship of the long-running critical journal Science Fiction. He also edited Science Fiction: A Review of Speculative Literature, and has reviewed genre fiction for the The Sydney Morning Herald since 1984. It’s unfortunate that his twenty-year-old Strange Constellations: A History of Australian Science Fiction hasn’t been updated. He also edited a number of genre anthologies sometime back. (CE) 
  • Born November 26, 1955 – Tracy Hickman, 65.  Fifty novels with Margaret Weis, ten with T’s wife Laura Hickman, ten more.  Role-playing games.  Funded the Parsec Awards with Mur Lafferty and Michael Mennenga.  Guest of Honor at MisCon I, StellarCon XI, LepreCon 22,  CONduit 14.  T & L Toastmasters at 46th World Fantasy Con.  [JH]
  • Born November 26, 1973 – Peter Facinelli, 47.  Actor, director, producer, including SF e.g. SupergirlSupernovaTwilight & sequels.  One novel (with Robert DeFranco & Barry Lyga). [JH]
  • Born November 26, 1986 – Sarah Doebereiner, 34.  Five short stories for us, several others. “The work should speak for itself.  The author is just a conduit.”  [JH]
  • Born November 26, 1988 — Hafþór Júlíus Björnsson, 32. He played Gregor “The Mountain” Clegane on the Game of Thrones for five seasons. That’s it for his genre acting, but he co-founded Icelandic Mountain Vodka whose primary product is a seven-time distilled Icelandic vodka. Surely something Filers can appreciate! (CE) 

(9) COMICS SECTION.

(10) TWO WILD AND CRAZY GUYS. In the Washington Post, Donald Liebenson interviews Steve Martin, whose new book A Wealth Of Pigeons consists of over 130 cartoons by New Yorker cartoonist Harry Bliss with Steve Martin providing the captions. “’A Wealth of Pigeons,’ by Steve Martin and Harry Bliss Q&A”.

Q: Cartoonists don’t have the luxury stand-up comedians have of honing a bit in front of an audience. One of the cartoons in the book shows Steve trying out a cartoon on his wife, his young daughter and, finally, his cat. How do you two know a cartoon is ready to go out into the world?

Martin: This is a medium where there is barely feedback. For the first time in my life, I’m going with, “Well, I think it’s funny.” Because when I do stand-up and I think it’s funny and the audience doesn’t, it’s out the next day. In a strange way, this is more fun, because you just kind of believe in it. Some days I go back to cartoons we’ve written, and I go, “I don’t get it anymore,” and some of them grow in their humor.

Bliss: Every Sunday is my syndicate deadline, so I have to come up with six cartoons, which isn’t a big deal, because outside of raking the leaves and piling firewood, there’s not much else I do. I think it’s instinctual. If something makes me laugh and then I send it to Steve and we both think it’s funny, it’s a go.

(11) TRAILER TIME. The technology that makes it easy to do promotional trailers intrigues me. I should do a File 770 trailer. Meanwhile —

Titan Comics and Guerrilla Games are proud to announce an all-new graphic novel set after the events of the critically acclaimed, award-winning video game Horizon Zero Dawn.

(12) TWO CHAIRS. In Episode 41 of the Two Chairs Talking podcast, titled “A series of perfect murders”, Perry Middlemiss discusses The Good Turn by Dervla McTiernan, and David Grigg talks about The Survivors by Jane Harper, and he also raves about the work of Tana French plus several other books in the crime and mystery genres.

(13) A GLOWING SPOT. “A Boston Dynamics robot dog is going to Chernobyl” – and Mashable is following the story (at a safe distance.) Video at the link.

The four-legged robot ‘Spot’ is being pegged as a replacement for humans, who carry out routine, yet risky, measurements around the contaminated Chernobyl site. The long-term goal is to have the robots help take Chernobyl apart and have it safely decommissioned. 

(14) VIDEO OF THE DAY. “Stanley Kubrick:  A Life in Pictures” on YouTube is a 2001 documentary, narrated by Tom Cruise and directed by Jan Harlan, that gives a comprehensive overview of Kubrick’s life and career, including extensive segments about Dr Strangelove, 2001, A Clockwork Orange, and The Shining.  The film includes about five minutes of Arthur C. Clarke talking about 2001 and one brief interview of Brian W. Aldiss talking about A.I., which Steven Spielberg took over after Kubrick’s death.

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

John Bangsund (1939-2020)

John Bangsund “a few years ago”. Photo by Sally Yeoland.

One of Australia’s foremost fans, John Bangsund, died August 22 of COVID-19 at the age of 81.

It was his idea to have a Worldcon in Australia, and he served as Toastmaster when Aussiecon was held in 1975.

John Foyster and John Bangsund, from the cover of eFANAC #13. Photo taken around 1965 by Lee Harding.

Bangsund got into fandom in 1963. His first fanzine article was published by Lee Harding in Canto 1 in 1964. For years he was central to Melbourne fandom, a charter member of the Nova Mob and a member of the Melbourne Science Fiction Club.

His fanzine Australian Science Fiction Review, published from 1966-1969,was twice nominated for the Hugo (1967, 1968), and won a Ditmar Award (1969). (In 1969 he renamed it Scythrop.) Bangsund was a Best Fan Writer Hugo finalist in 1975. Scanned issues of Bangsund’s Australian Science Fiction Review are available at Fanac.org.

Julian Warner wrote about the zine’s importance in the citation for the Chandler Award:

ASFR lasted only a few years but it set a new standard for quality of reviewing, for reasoned criticism, for consistency, for intelligence and for humour. Not only that, but ASFR was noticed overseas as well, putting Australia on the map as a place where fans and writers existed; fans and writers who were worth reading and who were worth knowing. The Australian readers of the original ASFR went on to become our established SF writers, our most erudite critics, our Big-Name Fans and our Boring Old Farts. When the established mainstream author George Turner told his publisher that he was interested in Science Fiction, George was introduced to John Bangsund. John introduced George to a new world which George then made his own.

Irwin Hirsh also notes, “It was through John’s efforts in being able to get ASFR into Australian bookshops that many sf fans were introduced into fandom. Clubs in Sydney, Brisbane and elsewhere were formed out of people reading John’s fanzine.”

Top. left to right: Tony Thomas, Diane Bangsund (nee Kirsten), John Bangsund, John Foyster, Elizabeth Foyster (later Elizabeth Darling) (with Jillian Miranda – not sure of the spelling).  Across the bottom from left to right; Leigh Edmonds, Paul Stevens, Merv Binns. [Identifications by Leigh Edmonds.]

Bangsund was co-chair of the 1970 Australian Natcon, and Fan GoH at Ozcon, the 1974 Australian Natcon.

He won the A. Bertram Chandler Memorial Award for outstanding achievement in Australian SF in 2001, given by Australian SF Foundation, and a FAAn Lifetime Achievement Award from Corflu, a fanzine fans convention, in 2016.

Bangsund’s professional work also was praised by Julian Warner in the Chandler Award citation:

John Bangsund is, first and foremost, an editor…. John’s name appears on many books, of general fiction and non-fiction, and would have been familiar to those who read the prestigious Australian magazine Meanjin during the period in which he served as assistant editor. The Victorian Society of Editors has honoured John by making him a life member because of his many contributions to the Society. In editing the newsletter of the Victorian Society of Editors he became the editor’s Editor.

Books dedicated (wholly or jointly) to John, notes Irwin Hirsh, include Beloved Son by George Turner, Transmitters by Damien Broderick, and More Issues at Hand by William Atheling, Jr (James Blish).

John from Sept. 21, 1968, “The Hideaway – Sassafras, Victoria”

He even made a mark in social media as the creator of Muphry’s Law, an adage that states that “if you write anything criticizing editing or proofreading, there will be a fault of some kind in what you have written.” Bangsund invented it in 1992. While it is easy to imagine Bangsund writing something of worldwide interest, Muphry’s Law implied John sometimes made copyediting mistakes — which for such a polished writer was almost beyond belief.

Over the last two decades Bangsund was beset by many health challenges: a massive heart attack in 1999, a major stroke in 2005, and other life-threatening medical conditions.

Bruce Gillespie paid tribute today: “There would be no SF Commentary without John Bangsund, so very few people have had as much of an influence on my life as him. I suppose we just go on with our lives as best as possible.”

Bangsund is survived by his wife, Sally Yeoland, and sister, Ruth. Yeoland told Facebook readers that consistent with John’s wishes there will be no funeral, but a memorial gathering will be held once the COVID 19-restrictions have lifted.

This is the death notice which will appear in Melbourne’s Age newspaper on August 25.

[Thanks to Bruce Gillespe, Andrew Porter, and Moshe Feder for the story.]

Merv Binns (1934-2020)

Merv Binns at the 2010 AussieCon. Photo by and copyright © Andrew Porter

By Bruce Gillespie: Mervyn R. Binns, best known to everybody as Merv Binns, died April 7 at the Kingston Centre, Monash Health, Melbourne. Born July 8, 1934, he was 85 years old. Merv had suffered serious heart problems during the last two decades. He was admitted to hospital about a month ago, then suffered a seizure on April 2. He had been slowly slipping away since then.

Because of the coronavirus shutdown in Australia, his funeral can only be attended by a very small number of people, so his wife Helena will arrange a gathering in celebration of his life and work as soon as feasible.

Merv Binns was Melbourne’s ‘Mr Science Fiction’ from when he was a teenager and worked behind the counter at McGill’s Newagency, Melbourne. This was one of the few sources of science fiction books and magazines and Melbourne in the early 1950s. He and a small group of teenagers formed, first, the Melbourne Science Fiction Group, then the Melbourne Science Fiction Club, in 1952. After the Club obtained its own clubrooms, Merv became the main driving force of the Club, a social centre for Melbourne fandom from then until now.

In 1971, Merv, with generous help from Sydney fan Ron Graham, established Space Age Books in the centre of Melbourne. It provided not only a retailer of SF and fantasy books and memorabilia, but also a social centre for Australian fans and pro writers. Merv published Australian Science Fiction News, which was both a valuable newszine and a marketing tool for the shop. However, Space Age Books was forced to close a few months after Aussiecon II in 1985, and Merv took early retirement. His interest in the science fiction world never diminished, and in 1998 his life greatly improved when he and Helena Roberts married. Helena has been staying at the Kingston Centre during Merv’s last days.

Merv received four lifetime achievement awards (the Big Heart Award, the A. Bertram Chandler Award, Peter MacNamara Award, and the Eternity Award), as well as a number of awards for his magazines and writing.

Pixel Scroll 6/7/19 Saturday Night’s All Right For Scrolling, Get A Little Pixel In

(1) AWARDS AT AUSSIE NATCON. Opening night at Continuum 15, the Australian National Convention, saw Lucy Sussex and Julian Warner win a special prize for their services to the Nova Mob and Melbourne fandom generally. The committee also presented Bruce R. Gillespie with the Eternity Award for his long-time fannish achievements. (Still looking for a photo of the latter.)

(2) PRIDE OF 2018. Rocket Stack Rank assembled its annual “Outstanding LGBT Science Fiction & Fantasy of 2018 article”.

June is Pride Month, and here are 56 outstanding short stories with LGBT characters from 2018 that were finalists for major SF/F awards (9), included in “year’s best” SF/F anthologies (5), or recommended by prolific reviewers. 37 are free online!

This list could be useful for making nominations for the 2019 Gaylactic Spectrum Awards for Best Short Fiction (published in 2010-2018). Anyone can nominate through June 30, 2019. Stories from 2018 are below.

(3) BY THE TIME I GET TO PHOENIX. NPR’s Glen Weldon reports that “‘Dark Phoenix’ Channels The Cosmic Power Of The Comics, Avoids Going Down In Flames”:

Thanks to a sure(ish) grip on Marvel’s mutants-as-metaphor approach to storytelling, the film brings a classic comics storyline to life. Sure, it’s melodramatic — but that’s the X-Men for you.

…Characters turn against one another in ways that the comics had ample time to lay plenty of track for, but that the film can’t and doesn’t. The dialogue is clunky, and at times it turns so deeply purple you expect it to break into “Smoke on the Water” — but hey, it’s X-Men. The closest thing we get to a joke is a scene in which McAvoy gets to call up the surprising smarminess he brought to the Xavier character in First Class, as he soaks up the adulation of a grateful nation at an event in the White House.

(4) FANHISTORY REMEMBERED. Usually when this happens it’s a hoax convention bid that decides it’s serious after all, however, Femizine was a fanzine created under a pseudonym that took on a serious life of its own. Now featuring on Rob Hansen’s UK fanhistory site THEN:

‘Joan Carr’ did not exist. She was created as a hoax to be played primarily on the Nor’west Science Fantasy Club (NSFC), who then met regularly in Manchester. Hiding behind that pseudonym was a man – H. P. ‘Sandy’ Sanderson. Though initially edited by him, FEMIZINE soon developed a life of its own, becoming a rallying point for female fans in the UK during the 1950s. This was the decade in which women first really began to assert themselves in the hitherto male-dominated SF fandom of these isles. In this context FEMIZINE is a fanzine that is both historically and culturally significant. FEMIZINE ran from 1954 to 1960 and saw fifteen issues in all, plus mini versions bound into a couple of combozines.

Note: As with most fanzines that are many decades old you will occasionally encounter words and attitudes that would be unacceptable today. Decades from now similar warnings may well be considered necessary for today’s fanzines as social attitudes continue to evolve.

Rob Hansen has two issues already scanned in and adds, “We are hoping to upload one issue per week.” He’s also assembled a contemporary photo gallery of many of those who contributed to ‘FEZ’.

(5) TALKING ABOUT TOLKIEN MOVIE. All About Jack: A C.S. Lewis Podcast hosted a “Discussion of Tolkien Biopic ([Diana]Glyer and [Brenton] Dickieson)”.

In May 2019 a biopic on J.R.R. Tolkien, simply entitled Tolkien was released. While there has been no shortage of opinions on the film, I wanted to add some thoughts on it for those who follow this podcast. Two guests join me to share a hopeful perspective about the movie while acknowledging its shortcomings. They are Dr. Diana Glyer, a respected scholar on Tolkien and Lewis, and Brenton Dickieson who is a Lewis scholar nearing his completion of Ph.D. studies on Lewis.

(6) THREE DEGREES OF RAY BRADBURY. The Zoot Suit Riots led to Edward James Olmos playing the lead in the play, Zoot Suit.  Edward James Olmos played Vamanos in Ray’s play and movie of the same name, The Wonderful Ice Cream Suit. Edward James Olmos has said his first paid acting job was in Ray’s first stage production, in Chicago. “The Zoot Suit Riots Happened This Week, 76 Years Ago. Here’s A Look Back At The Fashion Statement That Sparked A Racist Mob” at LAist.

(7) WHEN I’M IN ’64. At Galactic Journey, Kaye Dee reports on the test flight of Australia’s satellite launcher: [June 6, 1964] Going Up from Down Under (The launch of the Blue Streak rocket)

…At least yesterday’s first test launch of the Blue Streak was a success. Although there was a problem with sloshing of the propellant as the fuel tanks emptied which caused the rocket to roll about quite a bit in the last few seconds of its flight and to land short of its intended target zone, the instrumentation along the flight corridor acquired a huge amount of useful information about the rockets performance. I was so thrilled with the news of the Blue Streak flight that I even phoned my former supervisor Mary Whitehead last night to hear more about it (and I’m going to have to give my sister the money for that long-distance trunk call, which I’m sure will be expensive).

Mary was at the Range for the launch and she told me that the rocket looked spectacular as it rose up into the blue sky out of its cloud of orange exhaust. She’s especially proud of the fact that the zigzag pattern you can see on the Blue Streak was her idea. It enables the tracking cameras to make very accurate measurements as the rocket rolls after leaving the launchpad. Using the pattern, the cameras can easily measure if, and how far, the rocket rolls depending on where that diagonal was relative to the top and bottom stripes. I know she’s looking forward to seeing how well this worked.

I’m looking forward to the next test flight, and Australia’s further involvement in the Space Age!

(8) MORE HISTORIC HUGO STATS. Kevin Standlee announced “Hugo History Updates Posted” at The Hugo Awards.

We have now added the Full Nominating and Voting Statistics historical data for the 1943 Retro Hugo Awards (awarded in 2018), 1946 Retro Hugo Awards (awarded in 1996), and 1954 Retro Hugo Awards (awarded in 2004).

We continue to update historical data for past Hugo Awards as data becomes available to us. If you have historical Hugo Award data (such as nominating and voting statistics) that are not shown on the page for that year’s Awards, please contact us so we can add it.

(9) HAPPY BIRTHDAY TETRIS. NPR lights the candles: “Happy Birthday, Tetris. 35 Years Later You’re As Addictive And Tetromino-y As Ever”. Chip Hitchcock notes, “I remember when the mantra for Noreascon 2 concom was “Just Say No to Tetris”.

Thirty-five years ago in Moscow, working on what he says was “an ugly Russian” computer that was frankensteined together with spare parts, Alexey Pajitnov started a side project that has become the second-best-selling video game of all time: Tetris.

…Two years later, in 1986, it became the first computer game from the Soviet Union to be released in the West, Engadget reports. Since then it has sold more than 170 million copies around the world, adapting to a vast array of consoles and platforms over the years. In other words, it was and continues to be a commercial juggernaut that has touched lives of hundreds of millions of players.

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born June 7, 1909 Jessica Tandy. Though her genre career came late in life, her films were certainly some of the most charming made —  CocoonBatteries Not Included for which she won a Saturn Award for Best Actress and Cocoon: The Return. Both of the Cocoon films saw her nominated for the same Award. Well one film isn’t charming — Still of the Night is a psychological horror thriller. (Died 1994.)
  • Born June 7, 1932 Kit Reed. Her first short story, “The Wait” (1958), was published by Anthony Boucher in The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction. She would write more stories than I care to count over her career for which she was nominated for the James Tiptree Jr. Award three times. I’m not at all familiar with her novels, so do tell me about them please. Amazon has very little by her, but iBooks has a generous amount of her fiction available. (Died 2017.)
  • Born June 7, 1944 Mildred Downey Broxon, 75. Author of three novels and some short stories, heavy on Nordic-German mythology.  The Demon of Scattery was co-written with Poul Anderson. There are no digital books available for her and her printed editions are out of print now. I see no sign that her short fiction has been collected into a volume to date.
  • Born June 7, 1952 Liam Neeson, 67. He first shows up in genre films as Gawain in Excalibur and as Kegan in Krull. He plays Martin Brogan In High Spirits, a film I enjoy immensely. Next up is the title role in Darkman, a film I’ve watched myriad times. He’s Dr. David Marrow in The Haunting which I’d contend is loosely off of The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson. Now we get him as Qui-Gon Jinn in The Phantom Menace. Followed unfortunately by his horrid take as Ra’s al Ghul in Batman Begins and as a cameo in the The Dark Knight Rises. Now he voiced Aslan with amazing dignity in The Chronicles of Narnia franchise and I hope voiced Zeus as well in the Titans franchise. 
  • Born June 7, 1954 Louise Erdrich, 65. Writer of novels, poetry, and children’s books featuring Native American characters and settings. She is an enrolled member of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians. Her genre work includes according to ISFDB the Ojibwe series of The Antelope Wife which won a World Fantasy Award and The Painted Drum, plus stand-alone novels of The Crown of Columbus (co-written with her husband Michael Dorris) and Future Home of the Living God.
  • Born June 7, 1954 Anthony Simcoe, 50. Ka D’Argo in  Farscape, one of the best SF series ever done. If you don’t watch anything else, just watch the finale, The Peacekeeper Wars as it’s fairly self contained. Farscape is the SF he did. If you can find a copy, Matt Bacon’s No Strings Attached: The Inside Story of Jim Henson’s Creature Shop is a wonderful look at the creation of the creatures on the show including D’Argo facial appendages. 
  • Born June 7, 1972 Karl Urban, 47. He’s in the second and third installments of The Lord of the Rings trilogy as Éomer. He has was McCoy in the Trek reboot franchise, Cupid on Xena: Warrior Princess and Hercules: The Legendary Journeys, John Kennex on Almost Human, Vaako in the Riddick film franchise, and Judge Dredd in Dredd. For the record, I liked  both Dredd films.

(11) COMICS SECTION.

  • Half Full illustrates more benefits of printed books.

(12) EATING THE FANTASTIC. Scott Edelman hopes you will “Bite into what USA Today dubbed the best burger in Michigan with award-winning horror writer John R. Little” and listen to his Eating the Fantastic podcast.

[Lunch was] with John R. Little at The Cottage Bar & Restaurant, a local institution which has been around since 1927.

USA Today says they serve the best burger in Michigan. But what did John and I think of it? Well, for that, you’ll have to give this episode a listen.

John’s a four-time finalist for the Bram Stoker Award, starting back with his first novel, The Memory Tree, in 2008. He won the following year in the category of Long Fiction for “Miranda,” for which he also won a Black Quill Award. His short fiction has been published in Cavalier (his first, in 1983), Twilight Zone, Weird Tales, Dark Discoveries, and other magazines, plus anthologies such as You, Human and Haunted Nights. His most recent novel is The Murder of Jesus Christ.

We discussed how seeing his sister’s portable typewriter for the first time changed his life forever, the way he launched his career by following in Stephen King’s men’s magazine footsteps, why he’s so fascinated by time and how he manages to come up with new ways of writing about that concept, which writer’s career he wanted when he grew up and how buying a copy of Carrie changed that, the reason a science major has ended up mostly writing horror, the most important thing he learned from a night school’s creative writing course, which of his new novel’s controversial aspects concerned him the most during creation, and much more.

(13) TAKE ME OUT TO THE BALL GAME. Cut4 has photos — “The Pirates represented nearly every comic/superhero universe with their road trip costumes”.

The mash-up provided by the Pirates as they headed to the airport for a road trip on Thursday afternoon is one of the biggest convergences of realms and universes we’ve seen in a long time — maybe ever. Here’s a preview, featuring the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Batman and Robin, Wolverine (in and out of costume) and … Jesus:

(14) BUGS, MISTER RICO! “Spotted: A Swarm Of Ladybugs So Huge, It Showed Up On National Weather Service Radar”NPR has the story.

“It was very strange because it was a relatively clear day and we weren’t really expecting any rain or thunderstorms,” Casey Oswant, a NWS meteorologist in San Diego, tells NPR. “But on our radar, we were seeing something that indicated there was something out there.”

So the meteorologists called a weather spotter in Wrightwood, Calif., near the blob’s location in San Bernardino County. Oswant says the spotter told them the mysterious cloud was actually a giant swarm of ladybugs.

The phenomenon is known as a ladybug “bloom,” and while this one appears particularly large, Oswant says it’s not the first time local meteorologists have spotted the beetles.

(15) WE KNEW THAT. BBC reports “Ultimate limit of human endurance found”. Wait, they didn’t already discover this when Freff stayed awake through nearly the entire 1972 Worldcon?

The ultimate limit of human endurance has been worked out by scientists analysing a 3,000 mile run, the Tour de France and other elite events.

They showed the cap was 2.5 times the body’s resting metabolic rate, or 4,000 calories a day for an average person.

Anything higher than that was not sustainable in the long term.

The research, by Duke University, also showed pregnant women were endurance specialists, living at nearly the limit of what the human body can cope with.

(16) …AND A PONY! Sounds like lovely work — “Prehistoric stone engraved with horses found in France”.

A stone believed to be about 12,000 years old and engraved with what appears to be a horse and other animals has been discovered in France.

The prehistoric find by archaeologists excavating a site in the south-western Angoulême district, north of Bordeaux, has been described as “exceptional”.

…According to the institute, the most visible engraving is that of a headless horse, which covers at least half of the stone’s surface on one side.

“Legs and hooves are very realistic,” Inrap said on its website (in French), adding: “Two other animals, smaller, are also slightly incised.”

(17) DERN MOMENTS. [Item by Daniel Dern.] Ted Chiang’s Exhalations collection. Not done reading it yet; they’re rich enough (or whatever the term is when it’s not denseness of prose but something else that, well, I can’t think of the right term for) that I’m finding I’d druther not read more than 0.5 – 1.5 per “session.”

Michael Swanwick’s The Iron Dragon’s Mother. Both via my public library. I don’t know if that makes these “Dern moments.” The library’s mobile app means that as soon as I learn about, or think of, a given book, e.g., reading about it in a scroll, or seeing it listed in Locus, etc., I can do a quick reserve. (If it’s sufficiently advanced news, and not yet in their system even as an “ordered but not yet here” I’ll suggest it as a purchase.)

(18) TWIN PLANETS. After President Trump shared his amazing understanding of the structure of the Solar System —

 — Camestros Felapton ran wild making animated graphics:

(19) FAN ART COMMANDS BIG TICKET PRICE. The owner is asking C$4,189.49 on eBay for Vaughn Bodé’s original drawing published as the cover of Ontario Science Fiction Club #2 in June 1968 – which makes it one of the items that appeared in the eligibility year before Bodé won the Best Fan Artist Hugo in 1969.

(20) A ROOM WITH A VIEW. They’ll leave the light on: “Nasa to open International Space Station to tourists”.

Nasa is to allow tourists to visit the International Space Station from 2020, priced at $35,000 (£27,500) per night.

The US space agency said it would open the orbiting station to tourism and other business ventures.

There will be up to two short private astronaut missions per year, said Robyn Gatens, the deputy director of the ISS.

Nasa said that private astronauts would be permitted to travel to the ISS for up to 30 days, travelling on US spacecraft.

…The new commercial opportunities announced on Friday are part of a trajectory towards full privatisation of the ISS. US President Donald Trump published a budget last year which called for the station to be defunded by the government by 2025.

(21) FIRST BUCK ROGERS FILM. This Buck Rogers film short was made for the 1934 Chicago World’s Fair by the owner of the comic strip.

[Thanks to Carl Slaughter, Andrew Porter, rcade, Cat Eldridge, Chip Hitchcock, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Martin Morse Wooster, and Mike Kennedy for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Kaboobie, who’s may be wondering why I used this on a Friday.]

Best Fannish Cat

Let us return now to those thrilling days of yesteryear when Australian fans were called upon to vote for the “Best Fannish Cat” in the Ditmar Awards.

The earliest of these two forgotten episodes in SJW credential history occurred in 1991. The nominees were:

1991: Suncon, Brisbane

Best Fannish Cat

  • Apple Blossom, humans: Elaine Cochrane & Bruce Gillespie
  • Constantinople, human: Phil Wlodarczyk
  • Emma Peel, human: Terry Frost
  • Godzilla, humans: Ian Gunn & Karen Pender-Gunn
  • Honey, humans: Gerald [Smith] & Womble
  • Satan, human: Phil Wlodarczyk
  • Truffle, humans: Mark Loney & Michelle Muijsert
  • Typo, human: Roger Weddall

Typo won the award.

“It’s a long story,” recalls Bruce Gillespie. “The person who was Chair of the convention in Brisbane stuffed up many aspects of the convention. She was also part of a non-Melbourne group who believed that every aspect of the Ditmars was a cruel plot by Melbourne fans to keep all the Ditmars for themselves. So she allowed members of the convention to vote for the categories as well as the items in the categories. Irresistible bait to Melbourne fans in general — who ganged up to include Best Fannish Cat in the categories.”

Bruce Gillespie holding his cane toad Ditmars. Photo by Janice Gelb.

Marc Ortlieb says that wasn’t the only mischief fans got up to at Suncon. “That was the year that things got really silly. The NatCon was in Brisbane and, as a joke, Mark Loney created stuffed cane toads to present at the ceremony, with the real Ditmars to be presented at the closing ceremony. The cane toads were presented, but the real Ditmars weren’t ready.” The real ones would be distributed later at a Nova Mob club meeting.

Even though the award was a put-on, “Best Fannish Cat” made such an indelible impression on Australian fanhistory that the category would be revived in a future round of Ditmars.

As Gillespie sees it, “The list of nominees was regarded as so exemplary that the category was repeated (once) in a later set of the Ditmars. Apple Blossom was our nominee in 1991, and Flicker was our nominee in the much later Ditmars. Neither won, but the winners were very popular cats who had been met by many Melbourne fans. The general effect was to confirm the suspicion of Perth fans that Melbourne fans ‘did not take the Ditmars seriously’.”

Roger Weddall, owner of the winning cat, Typo, was elected the DUFF delegate in 1992. Unfortunately, he was diagnosed with lymphoma shortly before leaving for North America, and ended up cutting short his trip after attending Magicon. He died a few months later. Thus it really was with affection that in 1993 someone drafted “A Modest Proposal for the [Swancon 18] Business Meeting” urging the creation of the “Roger Weddall Memorial Ditmar Controversy” and crediting him with some of these shenanigans:

It happens without warning, under no man’s control. None can predict where it will strike or how often. Yes it’s the Ditmar Controversy! It is time to take the guesswork out and have a permanent, official Ditmar Controversy each year and every year. Let us not leave it to chance and ConCom whim to arrange a proper and fitting controversy but instead let us make a firm and binding commitment for now and forever to have

The
Roger Weddall
Memorial Ditmar
Controversy

In honour of Fandom’s best Ditmar Controversers, the man who brought you the best Fannish Cat, Cane Toads and other Ditmar atrocities,

Vote Yes!

At the 1993 Natcon Business meeting

However, there are Aussie fans for whom these memories of the ’91 Ditmars are not bathed in a golden glow. A 2005 Swancon XXX progress report solicited nominations for the Tin Duck Award (a genuine, annual award) with the warning – “Please do not invent new categories. (e.g. No Best Fannish Cat. We’ve heard it before, and it wasn’t funny the first time.)”

But with the passage of time nostalgia kicked in. Dudcon 3, the 2010 Australian National Science Fiction Convention revived Best Fannish Cat as a special committee award. The less facetious eligibility rules included requirements that nominees be “natural members of the species Felis Catus,” and be alive and resident in Australia at the time of the nomination.

Aerin

Thoraiya Dyer unsuccessfully advanced her cat, Aerin, as a candidate by forcing it to be photographed in a Darth Vader costume.

Instead, these cats made the finals:

Tabby Allen

He is a big, lazy, neutered Tom, who just hangs around the house and sleeps on Genevieve’s bed. Sometimes he lays on the couch with us while we watch Doctor Who, but I cannot claim any other great fannish activity.

– James Allen

Felix Blackford

His real breeding name is Mystical Prince Felix, but he answers to Fifi. If fannish credentials other than his owning us are required, I will point out that the last line of the bio that Damien Broderick wrote for my story in the current Cosmos is: “She devotes her life to Mystical Prince Felix, a truly enormous Ragdoll cat.”
– Jenny Blackford

Peri Peri Canavan

Named for being orange with attitude, just like the sauce.
Is a firm believer in First Breakfast, Second Breakfast, Elevensies, Luncheon, Afternoon Tea, Dinner and Supper.
Knows that a library chair is a great place to nap.
Enjoys a good SF TV show/film/book because it means an available lap.
Can time travel, if the time involved is dinner time.
Stomach is larger on the inside than the outside.
– Trudi Canavan

Flicker Gillespie

Origin: derelict building in Collingwood.
Official description: black domestic shorthair.
Fannish credentials: How many fannish cats know their fathers? Flicker is father of Harry and Sampson Gillespie, as well as Miss Smith Endacott and Rascal Taylor. Now that his fathering days have been cut short, Flicker will sit on any visiting fannish lap that stays still for more than a few seconds.
– Elaine Cochrane

Pazuzu Sparks

Named for the Exorcist’s demon,
He meows ’cause he’s endlessly dreamin’
Of food and the flap
Which he knows is a trap
Set up by that bad Nemo”s schemin’

His nemesis one day will pay
But meanwhile he spends all the day
Knowing instead
That fridge, pantry and bed
Are all his, and that that way they’ll stay.

So he’ll crash at a run through the door,
Spread litter all over the floor,
Scrounge every crumb,
Bite my elbow and thumb
then curl up with Foyle and his war.
– Robert Hood

(The verse is by Robert Hood the Australian writer – not our Rev. Bob.)

Voters chose Peri Peri Canavan as the Best Fannish Cat of 2010.

Peri Peri Canacan, the Best Fannish Cat of 2010

ANZAPA 50th Anniversary Celebration Photos

Jack Herman took these photos of the fans at the 50th anniversary of ANZAPA held in Melbourne on October 7:

Top photo: (Standing:) Helena Binns, taking her photo at the side; James ‘Jocko’ Allen; Terry Morris; Kam-Hung Soh; Mervyn Binns, Bruce Gillespie; Sally Yeoland; LynC; Robin Johnson; Irwin Hirsh; Alan Stewart; Gerald Smith; Perry Middlemiss; Jean Weber; Leigh Edmonds; Murray MacLachlan; Jack Herman; Gary Mason; Roman Orszanski. (Seated:) Stephen Campbell; Eric Lindsay; David Grigg.

Photo below: Justin Ackroyd; Marc Ortlieb; KRin Pender Gunn; Carey Handfield.

[Thanks to Bruce Gillespie for the story.]

ANZAPA at 50

Down Under they celebrated the 50th anniversary of the amateur press association ANZAPA on October 7 in Melbourne. Here’s a report from Bruce Gillespie —

Thanks to everybody who turned up to the ANZAPA 50th Anniversary celebration at the Mail Exchange Hotel, 2-6 p.m., Sunday 7 October 2018. An exhilarating occasion, with quite a few interstate members and ex-members, including Gary Mason (last met at the 25th Anniversary gathering). Thanks in particular to Carey Handfield for making all the arrangements. Thanks to Breanna Handfield for baking and decorating the much-appreciated cake. No final numbers yet, but at least 30 people turned up.

Sorry that some people could not make it, especially Leanne Frahm and Cath Ortlieb. And it was good to talk by Skype to Spike in California and Christina in Cornwall. Onward to the 60th …

Attending: Bruce Gillespie, Carey Handfield, Jean Weber, Eric Lindsay, Roman Orszanski, Perry Middlemiss, Gary Mason, Bill Wright, David Grigg, Irwin Hirsh, Alan Stewart, Murray MacLachlan, Nataiie MacLachlan, Leigh Edmonds, Jack Herman, Leanne Frahm, KRin Pender Gunn, Marc Ortlieb, Gerald Smith, Terry Morris, Hung, Justin Ackroyd, Mervyn Binns, Helena Binns, Robin Johnson, Sally Yeoland, Michael Green, LynC, James ‘Jocko’ Allen, David Russell, Stephen Campbell.

All part of the celebrations, but a surprise to many (including me, a week ago), was the offer by Carey Handfield and Justin Ackroyd to raise funds for me to get to Wellington in 2020 for the worldcon. Much gratitude from me, although suggestions about motivations were made — a one-way trip? a dunking in the Tasman on the way over? Remember, it’s Carey’s and Justin’s idea. I just have to renew my passport.

Bruce Gillespie says ANZAPA currently has 22 members. Average page count per mailing: 240.

Pixel Scroll 12/6/17 Pixels Came Naturally From Paris, For Scrolls She Couldn’t Care Less

(1) MANIFESTO. Charles Payseur’s thought-provoking tweets about reviewing begin here —

Some of the points he makes include —

(2) THIS IS HORROR AWARDS. Public nominations are now open for the seventh annual This Is Horror Awards.  Click on the link for eligibility and other information: “This Is Horror Awards 2017: Public Nominations Are Open”. Here are the categories:

  • Novel of the Year
  • Novella of the Year
  • Short Story Collection of the Year
  • Anthology of the Year
  • Fiction Magazine of the Year
  • Publisher of the Year
  • Fiction Podcast of the Year
  • Nonfiction Podcast of the Year

Public nominations close at 12:01 a.m. PST on 22 December 2017. 

(3) DUFF. Yesterday’s announcement that they’re looking for Down Under Fan Fund candidates included a statement that the delegate will go to the Worldcon “or another major convention in North America in 2018.” I asked Paul Weimer, is that a change? Paul replied —

The intention for this is two fold–one to provide, in future years for situations in years where Worldcon is not in North America (if the 2020 NZ bid wins, for example, this will be an issue), and also to provide for the possibility that the winning delegate wants to focus on, say, Cancon, or another major SF con in the United States.

We expect that its almost certain that any winning delegate will want to go to Worldcon, but this provides flexibility in that regard.

(4) GREAT FANZINE. Australian faned Bruce Gillespie has released a new 90,000-word issue of SF Commentary. Download from eFanzines:

Cover by Ditmar (Dick Jenssen).

Major articles by John Litchen (the second part of ‘Fascinating Mars’) and Colin Steele (his usual book round up ‘The Field’), as well as articles by Tim Train and Yvonne Rousseau.

Major tribute to 2017 Chandler Award-winning Bill Wright by LynC and Dick Jenssen, and memories of Brian Aldiss, David J. Lake, Jack Wodhams, Randy Byers, Joyce Katz, among others.

Lots of lively conversations featuring such SFC correspondents as Michael Bishop, Leigh Edmonds, Robert Day, Patrick McGuire, Matthew Davis, Doug Barbour, Ray Wood, Larry Bigman, and many others.

(5) REZONING. The Twilight Zone is coming back. At The Verge, Andrew Liptak reports “Jordan Peele will resurrect The Twilight Zone for CBS All Access”.

The granddaddy of surreal, science fiction television anthologies is returning. CBS announced today that it has issued a series order for a revival of The Twilight Zone from Jordan Peele’s Monkeypaw Productions and Simon Kinberg’s Genre Films for its All Access streaming service.

Peele and Kinberg, along with Marco Ramirez (Marvel’s The Defenders), will serve as executive producers on the show and will “collaborate on the premiere episode.” CBS has yet to announce a release date, casting, or any other writers attached to the project. Like Star Trek: Discovery, however, the show is destined as exclusive content for the network’s paid streaming service, CBS All Access.

(6) ON BOARD. How appropriate that The Traveler at Galactic Journey has found a way to kill time! “[December 6, 1962] How to Kill Friends and Influence People (The game, Diplomacy)”.

Ah, but here’s the tricky bit.  Turns are divided into two segments.  The latter is the one just described, where players write their marching orders.  The former is a 15-minute diplomacy segment.  This is the period in which players discuss their plans, try to hatch alliances, attempt to deceive about intentions.  It is virtually impossible to win the game without help on the way up; it is completely impossible to win without eventually turning on your allies.  Backstabbery is common, even necessary.  Honesty is a vice.

Diplomacy is, thus, not a nice game.  In fact, I suspect this game will strike rifts between even the best chums.  So why play at all?  Why suffer 4-12 hours of agony, especially when you might well be eliminated within the first few turns, left to watch the rest of your companions pick over your bones?

Well, it’s kind of fun.

(7) TREACHERY IN THE PRESENT. Meanwhile, here in 2017, holiday gift shoppers might want to pick up the “CLUE®: Game of Thrones™ Exclusive Expansion”.

Add more treachery and betrayal and create an all-new game play experience while solving the mysteries in Game of Thrones Clue with this  special exclusive expansion that includes two additional character suspects and power cards as well as beautifully gold-finished weapons.

Really, though, for a genuine Game of Thrones experience it would have to be possible for all the suspects to be murdered in the same game.

(8) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • December 6, 1979 Star Trek: The Motion Picture premiered.

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY COUNTRY

  • Born December 6, 1917 — Finland

(10) COMICS SECTION. Brian Kesinger, a veteran visual artist for Disney and Marvel, has created Watterson-style mashups that merge The Force Awakens characters with Calvin and Hobbes. “Disney Illustrator Combines Star Wars And Calvin & Hobbes, And The Result Is Adorable” at Bored Panda.

(11) HAIR TODAY. Interesting how movie marketing works now. A trailer for the new Jurassic World sequel will be out Thursday, heralded by a 16-second teaser, and this behind-the-scenes featurette. SciFiNow.uk claims, “Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom featurette has loads of new footage and freaking out”.

Ahead of the trailer release tomorrow, a new featurette has arrived for Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom which features lots of new footage and plenty of the cast and crew freaking out about how awesome the film is going to be. And Jeff Goldblum’s got a beard.

 

(12) GARY FISHER IN LAST JEDI, TOO. The cat is out of the bag, and so is the dog: “Carrie Fisher’s Beloved Dog, Gary, Will Appear in ‘Star Wars: The Last Jedi'”.

During the press tour for “Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” Carrie Fisher’s therapy dog, Gary, became an internet sensation as the late actress took him everywhere for interviews and red carpets. Now, an eagle-eyed fan discovered that Gary will be making an Easter egg cameo in “Star Wars: The Last Jedi,” which director Rian Johnson has confirmed.

Twitter user Clair Henry found a promotion still for the movie in which Finn (John Boyega) and Rose Tico (Kelly Marie Tran) face off at a galactic casino. On the left side of the screen, you can see a strange brown creature looking directly at the camera. That’s Gary, touched up with CGI to look like an alien pet.

(13) HELLO . A special wine collection is back in time for the season: “‘Hello Kitty’ Wine Returns In Time For The Holidays”.  The five-bottle collection goes for around $150, but you can also buy individual bottles.

The Hello Kitty wines by Torti “L’Eleganza del Vino” returns to the U.S. with new supercute designs and two new blends. Now including an award-winning Pinot Noir, a “Sweet Pink” blend, Sparkling Rosé, Pinot Nero Vinified in White, as well as a special edition Sparkling Rosé with limited edition packaging.

 

(14) CAN’T FACE IT. Forget Sad Puppies: “Sad poop emoji gets flushed after row”.

Plans to introduce a “frowning pile of poo” emoji have been flushed from the latest proposals by the group in charge of creating the symbols.

The symbol was floated as one of many to be introduced in 2018, but it angered typographers who said it was “embarrassing” to the group.

The Unicode Consortium pushes out a central list of emoji so that they show up properly on different devices.

It said changes to the “pile of poo” emoji had not been totally dumped.

Chip Hitchcock sent the link with a comment: “IME, the Unicode Consortium can be very random; around the time I started working with character storage, their principles sniffily declared that they were encoding only live characters, and would therefore not do Glagolitic (the alphabet that Cyril’s students developed into Cyrillic) — but they already had Tolkien’s Elvish alphabet(s?). They later relented, don’t ask me why.”

(15) ALL THEY’RE CRACKED UP TO BE. The BBC answers the question, “Why clowns paint their faces on eggs”. Pratchett fans may remember this was a plot point in at least one of his books.

Perhaps the most intriguing part of Faint’s collection, though, are the eggs. Each one is different, and represents the unique face design of its subject. Eggs like these are kept in only a handful of collections around the world, representing a kind of informal copyright – and much more.

(16) TREE SLEEPER. Older human: “Little Foot skeleton unveiled in South Africa”. 500,000 years older than Lucy — same species, different genus.

One of the oldest and most complete skeletons of humankind’s ancestors has been unveiled in South Africa.

A team spent more than 20 years excavating, cleaning and putting together the skeleton of Little Foot.

Its exact age is debated, but South African scientists say the remains are 3.67 million years old.

(17) BLACK MIRROR. Netflix has released a full trailer for Black Mirror Season 4. The release date is December 29.

(18) LE GUIN. At Electric Literature, “Ursula K. Le Guin Explains How to Build a New Kind of Utopia”:

…Good citizens of utopia consider the wilderness dangerous, hostile, unlivable; to an adventurous or rebellious dystopian it represents change and freedom. In this I see examples of the intermutability of the yang and yin: the dark mysterious wilderness surrounding a bright, safe place, the Bad Places?—?which then become the Good Place, the bright, open future surrounding a
dark, closed prison . . . Or vice versa.

In the last half century this pattern has been repeated perhaps to exhaustion, variations on the theme becoming more and more predictable, or merely arbitrary.

(19) SPACE COMMAND. Four days left in the Space Command: Redemption Kickstarter. Congratulations to Marc Zicree — they made their goal, and two stretch goals. To celebrate —

A scene from Space Command: Redemption in which Yusef (Robert Picardo) repairs a broken synthetic named For (Doug Jones). For more information about this new sci-fi series, follow this link:

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, JJ, Chip Hitchcock, Martin Morse Wooster, Rob Thornton, Cat Eldridge, and Carl Slaughter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Jack Lint.]