2021 Compton Crook Award

The Baltimore Science Fiction Society (BSFS) has announced that the 2021 Compton Crook Award winner is The Space Between Worlds by Micaiah Johnson. The award is given for best first novel in the science fiction, fantasy, and horror genres. Johnson will receive $1,000, and an invitation to be the Compton Crook Guest of Honor at Balticon (the BSFS annual convention held over the Memorial Day weekend) for the next two years (in 2021 and 2022). Due to COVID-19, this year’s Balticon will be online only. For more information visit Balticon.org.

Members of BSFS rated The Space Between Worlds higher than the five other finalists:

•    Architects of Memory by Karen Osborne
•    Axiom’s End by Lindsay Ellis
•    Bone Shard Daughter by Andrea Stewart
•    Docile by K.M Szpara
•    Nameless Queen by Rebecca McLaughlin

Micaiah Johnson grew up in California’s Mojave Desert and is working on a Ph.D. in American Literature at Vanderbilt University.

Members of BSFS selected the finalists by reading and rating debut novels published between Nov 1, 2019 and October 31, 2020. They then rated the finalists to determine the winner.

The Baltimore Science Fiction Society (BSFS) has administered the Compton Crook Award for best first novel since 1983. Last year’s winner was Arkady Martine for A Memory Called Empire.

The Award was named in memory of Towson State College Professor of Natural Sciences Compton Crook, who wrote under the name Stephen Tall, and who died in 1981. Professor Crook was active for many years in the Baltimore Science Fiction Society and was a staunch champion of new works in the fields eligible for the award.

BSFS is a 501(c)(3), non-profit, charitable, literary and educational organization, dedicated to the promotion of, and an appreciation for, science fiction in all of its many forms. The Baltimore Science Fiction Society was launched on January 5, 1963 and has been holding Balticon since 1967.

[Based on a press release.]

BSFS Shares Outcome of Investigation Into Harassment Complaints

The Baltimore Science Fiction Society has released the results of an outside investigation into four allegations that Balticon 54 committee member and forthcoming Balticon 55 chair Eric Gasior violated the club’s Code of Conduct. (See also “BSFS Opens New Investigation of Harassment Complaints”.)

The investigator, a Maryland attorney who specializes in employment law and also conducts HR training on the avoidance of illegal discrimination and harassment in the workplace, found that two complaints about “conduct in personal relationships” were unsubstantiated, while concluding that two complaints about the treatment of Balticon 54 volunteers was substantiated.

The BSFS Board of Directors has asked Gasior to resign as Chair of Balticon 55. Vice Chair Yakira Heistand will take over as this year’s con chair.

The club’s press release says —


The investigation has been completed into allegations that Eric Gasior violated the Code of Conduct of the Baltimore Science Fiction Society (BSFS”). The investigator found that two complaints about conduct in personal relationships were unsubstantiated. Complaints were substantiated about the treatment of Balticon Tech Department volunteers during preparations for Balticon 54.

The BSFS Board has asked Mr. Gasior to resign as Chair of the upcoming Balticon 55, which also entails no longer serving on the BSFS Board. Ms. Yakira Heistand will move up from Vice Chair and will serve as the Chair of the Con. The Board is taking other steps recommended by an independent investigator to make organizational improvements including providing anti-harassment training for all BSFS leadership, requiring all BSFS volunteers to sign the Code of Conduct, and creating new policies on handling Code of Conduct investigations.

The Baltimore Science Fiction Society (“BSFS”) received complaints against Eric Gasior from four people who claimed that Mr. Gasior had violated the BSFS Code of Conduct and/or engaged in other actions inconsistent with a leadership position within the organization. Mr. Gasior was Vice Chair of BSFS’s Balticon 54 and was elected to serve as Con Chair of Balticon 55. Both positions are part of the Board of Directors.

The BSFS Board is committed to providing a safe and welcoming environment for all attendees and volunteers at BSFS events and Balticon. Any complaints of Code of Conduct violations are taken very seriously. To resolve concerns that the Board did not make an effective response to the complaints against Mr. Gasior, we retained Melissa Menkel McGuire, Esq. of Wright, Constable & Skeen, LLC to conduct an independent, thorough, and fair investigation of the complaints against Mr. Gasior.

The full report is not being released to protect the privacy of the complainants, witnesses, and Mr. Gasior. Further, maintaining confidentiality creates an environment in which people will feel comfortable reporting issues of harassment, discrimination and other violations of the Code of Conduct while protecting the integrity of investigations.

The nature of the complaints and the investigator’s conclusions are as follows:

Complaint #1: Mr. Gasior failed to respect personal boundaries during a friendship with the complainant, who also expressed concern over Mr. Gasior’s leadership role at BSFS.

This complaint was found unsubstantiated.

Complaint # 2: Mr. Gasior failed to respect personal boundaries in a prior personal relationship in 2015 and 2016. The allegations were unrelated to any BSFS event. The complainant’s articulated reason for submitting the complaint to BSFS was due to a concern about Mr. Gasior having a position of power within BSFS.

This complaint was found unsubstantiated.

Complaints #3 and #4: Two people complained that Mr. Gasior engaged in actions that were disruptive to members of the Technical Department during preparations for Balticon 54.

The investigator found that these complaints were substantiated.

The BSFS Board is taking the following actions in response to seven recommendations in Ms. McGuire’s report:

1. The Board has informed the complainants of the results of their individual complaints. A copy of the investigation report will not be provided to any party. The report is subject to attorney-client privilege and the Board is not waiving this privilege on the advice of counsel.

2. The Board will release a public statement addressing the disposition of all complaints without identifying complainants by name. In further respect of the privacy of complainants and witnesses no details beyond the text of this statement will be released.

3. Under the BSFS By-Laws, the Board does not have the power to remove Mr. Gasior as Chair of Balticon 55. He has not agreed our request to voluntarily step aside from that position. Accordingly, his continuance as Con Chair and member of the Board is subject to a review by the BSFS membership at the monthly meeting on April 10, 2021.

4. Effective immediately, all volunteers are required to sign an acknowledgment that they have read the Code of Conduct and will abide by its requirements. Submissions from current volunteers are due not later than May 1, 2021. New volunteers will meet this requirement at the beginning of their service. An online form will be provided in the near future to accomplish this.

5. The Board will develop and adopt a policy and guidance for conducting any future investigations of Code of Conduct violations.

6. An anti-harassment training program for all BSFS and Balticon leadership and critical personnel will be implemented to minimize the potential for Code of Conduct violations at Balticon, BSFS events, or through BSFS controlled communication channels. The program will include a requirement for documenting training completion. A guidance document will be provided to volunteers in other positions. The program will be implemented before the return to in-person Balticons.

7. The Board will explore ways to improve communications within the Balticon Committee and strengthen our ability to treat our volunteers with the respect they deserve.

The Baltimore Science Fictions Society, Inc., a 501(c)(3) all volunteer organization, exists to promote the creation and appreciation of science fiction and fantasy cultural arts primarily through literary art forms, but also embracing the many related graphical, musical, and theatrical creations inspired by SF. The public is welcome to attend a variety of BSFS sponsored events. Please see the calendar on www.bsfs.org/bsfscldr.htm for the current event calendar.


C. J. Cherryh Wins 2021 Robert A. Heinlein Award

C. J. Cherryh is the 2021 winner of the Robert A. Heinlein Award. The award is bestowed for outstanding published works in science fiction and technical writings that inspire the human exploration of space. This award is in recognition of Cherryh’s body of work, with emphasis on her detailed social science and commercial-relationship-based stories set in the space station rich Alliance–Union universe. She is currently working with Jane S. Fancher on a sequel to their 2019 novel Alliance Rising set in the Alliance–Union universe.

The award will be formally announced on the evening of Friday, May 28, 2021, 8:00 PM at opening ceremonies during Virtual Balticon 55, the 55th Maryland Regional Science Fiction Convention. Cherryh will participate on program at Virtual Balticon across Memorial Day Weekend. Virtual Balticon will be a free online event for the second year in a row because of the pandemic. (Donations will be appreciated to defray costs)

Balticon and the Robert A. Heinlein Award are both managed and sponsored by The Baltimore Science Fiction Society. A grant from the Heinlein Society funds half of the costs associated with the award and the family of the late author Dr. Yoji Kondo provides additional funding for the award.

The Robert A. Heinlein Award is a sterling silver medallion bearing the image of Robert A. Heinlein, as depicted by artist Arlin Robbins. The medallion is matched with a red-white-blue lanyard. In addition, the winner receives two lapel pins for use when a large medallion is impractical, and a plaque describing the award for home or office wall display.  

The Robert A. Heinlein Award selection committee consists of science fiction writers and was founded by Dr. Yoji Kondo, a long-time friend of Robert and Virginia Heinlein. Members of the original committee were approved by Virginia Heinlein.

Virginia Heinlein authorized multiple awards in memory of her husband, other awards include the Heinlein Prize, which is fully funded by Virginia Heinlein’s estate, and a National Space Society award for volunteer projects.

More information on the Robert A. Heinlein Award, including past winners, can be found here.

Carolyn Janice Cherry, known to readers as C. J. Cherryh, maintains an official website here. She lives in Spokane, Washington.

[Based on a press release.]

C.J. Cherryh at NorWesCon in 2006. Photo taken by Sharon Reynolds

BSFS Taking Entries in Jack L. Chalker Young Writers’ Contest

The Baltimore Science Fiction Society invites young writers between the ages of 14 and 18 who live in or attend school in Maryland to enter the Jack L. Chalker Young Writers’ Contest.

The contest is looking for original, highly imaginative science fiction stories under 2,500 words. Submissions are being taken through March 31. See the complete guidelines here.

The submissions ranked first, second and third receive cash prizes of $150, $100 and $50, respectively. The three winners also receive complimentary registrations for Balticon for themselves and their parents or a guest. They also receive a Balticon T-Shirt.

Chalker, an award-winning sff author who helped to found the BSFS in 1967, also was a history teacher in Baltimore City Schools for 12 years. Chalker was best known for his Well World novel series. He died in 2005, and the writing contest was named in his memory beginning in 2006.

Baltimore Science Fiction Society Announces 2021 Compton Crook Finalists

The Baltimore Science Fiction Society (BSFS) released the names of the six finalists for its 2021 Compton Crook Award for best first novel in the science fiction, fantasy, and horror genres. The finalists are:

•    Architects of Memory by Karen Osborne
•    Axiom’s End by Lindsay Ellis
•    Bone Shard Daughter by Andrea Stewart
•    Docile by K.M Szpara
•    The Nameless Queen by Rebecca McLaughlin
•    The Space Between Worlds by Micaiah Johnson

The award includes a framed award document and, for the novel’s author, a check for $1,000 and an invitation to be the Compton Crook Guest at Balticon (the BSFS annual convention) for two years. Balticon is normally held in Baltimore, but due to Covid-19 will be online this year over May 28-31, 2021 (Memorial Day weekend).

Members of BSFS selected the finalists by reading and rating debut novels published between Nov 1, 2019 and October 31, 2020. The finalist round of reading and rating will close April 9 and the winner will be notified on Sunday, April 11 and announced to the public on Monday, April 12.

The Baltimore Science Fiction Society (BSFS) has been giving out the Compton Crook Award for best first novel since 1983. Past winners have included Donald Kingsbury, Elizabeth Moon, Michael Flynn, Wen Spencer, Maria Snyder, Naomi Novik, Paolo Bacigalupi, Myke Cole, Charles Gannon, Fran Wilde, Ada Palmer, and R.F. Kuang. Last year’s winner was Arkady Martine for A Memory Called Empire.

The Award was named in memory of Towson State College Professor of Natural Sciences Compton Crook, who wrote under the name Stephen Tall, and who died in 1981. Professor Crook was active for many years in the Baltimore Science Fiction Society and was a staunch champion of new works in the fields eligible for the award. More information is available here.

The Baltimore Science Fiction Society was launched on January 5, 1963 and has been holding Balticon since 1967.

[Based on a press release.]

Pixel Scroll 1/26/21 When I Know Every Button On Galactus’ Planoform

(1) ANOTHER YP PROJECT. James Davis Nicoll has set his Young People Read Old SFF panelists to work on a new series – “Young People Read Old Hugo Finalists.” And he’s looking for more contributors —

…This time I will exposing my youthful volunteers to the Hugo Finalists of Yore, specifically the finalists for Best Short Story, starting with a story from 19561! The Hugo Awards reward the best SFF of their time, as chosen by the members of WorldCons through the centuries. How much fun we will have discovering how effectively Hugo finalists have kept their luster!

If you are 30 years of age or younger and you would like to take part in this phase of Young People Read Old SFF, please send email to jdnicoll at panix dot com. If you are already a contributor to Young People, you are welcome to keep contributing regardless of age issues. After all, I let me post.

(2) GOOD TO THE LAST DRAGON. A trailer has dropped for Disney’s Raya and the Last Dragon, theaters and on Disney+ with Premier Access on March 5.

“Raya and the Last Dragon” takes us on an exciting, epic journey to the fantasy world of Kumandra, where humans and dragons lived together long ago in harmony. But when an evil force threatened the land, the dragons sacrificed themselves to save humanity. Now, 500 years later, that same evil has returned and it’s up to a lone warrior, Raya, to track down the legendary last dragon to restore the fractured land and its divided people. However, along her journey, she’ll learn that it’ll take more than a dragon to save the world—it’s going to take trust and teamwork as well.

(3) NOBODY HOME. In “The Best Books on Abandoned Places” at Five Books, Cal Flyn recommends novels by Jeff VanderMeer and J.G. Ballard for readers who like books about abandoned places.

VanderMeer followed this up with Authority and Acceptance.

Yes. What’s interesting about the Southern Reach trilogy is that it doesn’t answer all the questions that it poses. You have to be quite willing to come away at the end still not quite certain what is going on. But I like that about it.

I made the mistake of taking Annihilation with me on a trip to Swona, an abandoned island off the north coast of Scotland, where I spent 24 hours alone and slept in an abandoned house. I’d travelled there in June, when the wildflowers were in bloom and the birds were breeding; I thought it would be nice to see it so full of life, and it was. But the ‘life’ was not pleased to see me. I was threatened by what we call bonxies – great skuas, big busty seabirds – and then dive-bombed and scratched by Arctic terns when I accidentally got too close to their colony.

Being there amid the abandoned houses, all in various states of dereliction, some with belongings still in the cupboards and one with the dining table still set, was very unsettling. Even though I knew myself to be safe, I just couldn’t relax. There were birds stamping around in the roof space of the house I stayed in overnight, which kept me awake. And my only reading matter was this, which definitely didn’t help. In the end I had to put it back in my rucksack and read a 1974 Readers Digest that I found in a cupboard, because it was making me far too jumpy to sleep.

(4) ON THEIR WAY TO THE FUTURE. The Edmonton crew is interviewed by Cora Buhlert — “Fanzine Spotlight: Hugo Book Club Blog”.

In the past twenty years, fanzines have increasingly moved online. What do you think the future of fanzines looks like?

Our book club includes librarians and former journalists, and even we are surprised by some of the changes in publishing technology. Who knows what will happen next? Perhaps blockchain-mediated identity verification will drive a new revolution in trustworthy news sources, and we’ll end up singing kumbaya in a unified and peaceful version of fandom. Perhaps the next generation of fans will be dealing with ink-and-paper fanzines delivered by a Kevin-Costner-on-horseback-based mail system. Or perhaps the singularity will happen and every fanzine that could ever exist will be beamed straight into your neuro-cortex.

(5) CLIMB EVERY MOUNTAIN. “Paramount+ teaser unites Star Trek, Beavis and Butt-Head, Dora & more” in the promo for the rebranded CBS All Access streaming service. SYFY Wire sets the frame:

It’s not every day that Spock and Captain Kirk get to go mountain climbing — let alone with a motley gang of questers that includes Beavis and Butt-Head and Dora the Explorer. But as CBS All Access gets ready to make the switch to the new Paramount+ streaming platform, the service is giving fans a fun reminder of all the cross-genre stars who’ll be making the big ascent together.

(6) ANOTHER NAME TO CONJURE WITH. After nearly 12 years on the air, Krypton Radio yesterday rebranded itself SCIFI.radio (“sci-fi dot radio”). Gene Turnbow says:

We’re the oldest and biggest scifi fandom radio station in the world now, with more than 100,000 listeners ever month in 183 countires around the world.

Gene Turnbow’s 2017 guest post “Krypton Radio: Music for the Geeking World” has much information about the project that is still relevant.

(7) BALTICON 55. The Baltimore Science Fiction Society made it official that their annual Balticon will remain virtual this year.

The Baltimore Science Fiction Society (BSFS) and Balticon look forward to once again holding in-person events when it is safe to do so, but the health of our membership, guests, and volunteer staff is our top priority. Accordingly, we will be holding Balticon 55 as an online event on May 28-31, 2021.

We apologize for the delay in this announcement. While we anticipated that the 2021 Balticon would be virtual, we needed to finalize key details with our host hotel regarding future Balticons before announcing this change.

We will continue to roll over previously-purchased memberships towards our next in-person Balticon. If you have any questions or need further membership information, please email Registration at registration@balticon.org.

While Virtual Balticon 55 will be a free online event, it does not come without cost to BSFS. Like last year, we will be launching a GoFundMe campaign with great swag at each giving level. As always, you can donate to BSFS and Balticon year-round through PayPal.

(8) ATTRACTED TO BANKS. In “The Culture War: Iain M. Banks’s Billionaire Fans” at Bloody Knife, Kurt Schiller theorizes about the author’s appeal to a pair of super-rich space enthusiasts.

…At times, reading or watching long-form fiction from someone to whom you are ideologically opposed can feel exhausting, draining, aggravating, and ultimately a bit futile—like being at a party where you simply don’t like anyone, don’t care about the discussions, and are annoyed at the food. There’s much to be gained by engaging with our rhetorical opponents… but, frankly, only up to a point.

What then are we to take from the distinct and quite public fascination of the two richest men in the world—Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk, together worth more than $375 billion—with the sci-fi works of Iain M. Banks, an avowedly socialist author who set his far-future fiction in what might best be described as a post-scarcity, anarcho-communist utopia; a world where your Bezoses and your Musks are not just irrelevant, but actively sought out and disempowered by a society comprised of property-less workers and all-caring, mostly-benevolent A.I.s?

…At first glance, it seems like exactly what you’re imagining when you hear the phrase “space opera,” and so of course two super-wealthy spaceflight-and-sci-fi aficionados would be fans, right? After all, both men own private spaceflight contractors (Musk’s SpaceX and Bezos’s Blue Origin) and speak often of mankind’s future among the stars, with Musk proposing a mission to Mars and Bezos pitching a return to the moon and other intrasystem exploration. Seeking the stars seems to be in their blood (assuming it hasn’t been completely replaced with Soylent and whatever nootropics billionaires get).

Both men have found ways to conspicuously show their fandom: Musk by naming SpaceX rockets after Banks’s tongue-in-cheek Culture ships (“Just Read The Instructions,” “Of Course I Still Love You”) and a “brain interface” loosely patterned after the Culture’s neural laces; Bezos by attempting to bankroll a big-budget TV series based on the books, although this latter effort was unceremoniously canceled after Banks’s estate abruptly backed out. (Probably a wise decision, given both the challenge of adapting the material and the absurdity of one of the most exploitative corporations in the world attempting to adapt proudly far-left sci-fi.)

(9) ARNOLD OBIT. Richard Arnold, Gene Roddenberry’s assistant and the Star Trek archivist, has died. He worked many conventions, including helping Showmasters at some of LA’s Doctor Who-themed Gallifrey One conventions.  

(10) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

  • January 26, 1967 — On this date in 1967, Star Trek’s “Tomorrow Is Yesterday” first aired on NBC. Written by D. C. Fontana and directed by Michael O’Herlihy, It was nineteenth episode of the first season. It was not nominated for a Hugo the following year when five episodes of the series were. A nifty time travel episode, the slingshot trick used here would later be used in the season two “Assignment: Earth” episode and The Voyage Home film as well. Later reviewers really liked it. 

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]

  • Born January 26, 1923 Anne Jeffreys. Her first role in our end of things was as a young woman on the early Forties film Tarzan’s New York Adventure. She’s Jean Le Danse (note the name) around the same time in the comedy Zombies on Broadway (film geeks here — is this the earliest zombie film?). And no, I’ve not forgotten she had the lead role as Marion Kerby in the Topper series. She also had one-offs in The Man from U.N.C.L.E.Fantasy Island and Battlestar Galactica. (Died 2017.) (CE)
  • Born January 26, 1926 – Jean-François Jamoul.  Essays and covers for FictionGalaxieUnivers.  I’ve not found his writing in English, but here is the Jul 71 Galaxiehere is the May 72; here is one from the 3rd trimester 1973; here is the Apr 79 Fiction.  Here is the back cover for Joy Division’s record Licht und Blindheit (Side A “Atmosphere”, Side B “Dead Souls”).  (Died 2002) [JH]
  • Born January 26, 1928 Roger Vadim. Director, Barbarbella with Jane Fonda in a leather bikini. That alone gets a Birthday Honor. But he was one of three directors of Spirits of the Dead, a horror anthology film. (Louis Malle and Federico Fellini were the others.) And not to stop there, he directed another horror film, Blood and Roses (Et mourir de plaisir) and even was involved in The Hitchhiker horror anthology series. And Don Juan, or If Don Juan Were a Woman is at least genre adjacent… (Died 2000.) (CE)
  • Born January 26, 1918 Philip José Farmer. I know I’ve read at least the first three Riverworld novels (To Your Scattered Bodies GoThe Fabulous Riverboat and The Dark Design) but I’ll be damned if I recognize the latter ones. Great novels those first three are. And I’ll admit that I’m not familiar at all with the World of Tiers or Dayworld series. I’m sure someone here has read them.  I do remember his Doc Savage novel Escape from Loki as being a highly entertaining read, and I see he’s done a number of Tarzan novels as well.  (Died 2009.) (CE) 
  • Born January 26, 1929 Jules Feiffer, 92. On the Birthday list as he’s the illustrator of The Phantom Tollbooth. Well and that he’s also illustrated Eisner’s Spirit which helped get him into the Comic Book Hall of Fame. Let’s not overlook that he wrote The Great Comic Book Heroes in the Sixties which made it the first history of the superheroes of the late Thirties and Forties and their creators. (CE) 
  • Born January 26, 1943 – Judy-Lynn del Rey, F.N.  Spectacular editor for GalaxyIf, Ballantine, and after marrying Lester del Rey, her own line Del Rey Books.  Skylark Award.  Fellow of NESFA (New England SF Ass’n; service).  Seven Stellar SF anthologies plus one Stellar Short Novels.  Interviewed by Bill Rotsler for Vertex.  P.K. Dick called her a master craftsman (the suffx -man is not masculine) and “the best editor I’ve ever worked with”.  She left us a few months before ConFederation the 44th Worldcon; she had won a Hugo as Best Professional Editor, but Lester declined it on her behalf, saying she would have objected to an award’s being given her just because she had recently died. (Died 1986) [JH]
  • Born January 26, 1952 – Dwight Decker, age 69.  Four novels, nine shorter stories.  Active in comics fandom; translator for Fantagraphics and Gladstone.  Did an Elfquest Gatherium with the Pinis.  Correspondent of NY Review of SFRiverside QuarterlySF Review.  Fanzine Torch.  [JH]
  • Born January 26, 1960 – Dave Bara, age 61.  Half a dozen novels, four shorter stories.  “If you let your mind wander, inspiration will find you.”  [JH]
  • Born January 26, 1960 Stephen Cox, 61. Pop culture writer who has written a number of books on genre subjects including The Munchkins Remember: The Wizard of Oz and BeyondThe Addams Chronicles: Everything You Ever Wanted to Know about the Addams FamilyDreaming of Jeannie: TV’s Primetime in a Bottle and The Munsters: A Trip Down Mockingbird Lane. I’ll admit to being puzzled by his Cooking in Oz  that he did with Elaine Willingham as I really, really don’t remember that much for food in the Oz books… (CE)
  • Born January 26, 1974 – Shannon Hale, age 47.  A dozen novels, as many shorter stories, for us, some with husband Dean Hale; thirty novels all told.  Newbery Honor.  Josette Frank Award, Whitney Award, Cybils Award.  Three NY Times Best Sellers.  Keeps all her rejection letters, so far a sixty-foot scroll.  Has read Moby-DickLes MisérablesA Tale of Two CitiesHuckleberry FinnOne Hundred Years of Solitude.  [JH]
  • Born January 26, 1979 Yoon Ha Lee, 42. Best known for his Machineries of Empire space opera novels and his best excellent short fiction. His first novel, Ninefox Gambit, won a Locus Award for Best First Novel. Dragon Pearl would win a Locus Award for Best Young Adult Novel. (CE) 
  • Born January 26, 1986 – Brian McClellan, age 35.  Eight novels, a dozen shorter stories.  Morningstar Award.  Lives on the side of a mountain in Utah.  [JH]

(12) COMICS SECTION.

(13) TREK REUNION. They’re making another short together, though not playing their TOS characters. Heavy.com has the details: “Nichelle Nichols & Walter Koenig Star in ‘Star Trek’ Film”.

Two cast members of the Star Trek: The Original Series are teaming up with another Star Trek legend to create an epic new sci-fi adventure. Nichelle Nichols, known to fans as Lieutenant Uhura, and Walter Koenig, also known as Pavel Chekov, will co-star in the upcoming short film Star Trek Renegades Ominara. The film is directed by another Trek actor, Tim Russ, who fans know as Tuvok from Star Trek: Voyager.

The short is a follow-up to two previous fan films in the Star Trek: Renegades series. The series was set 10 years after Voyager’s return to Earth. Koenig reprised his role as Pavel Chekov and co-starred with Russ, who reprised his role as Tuvok. Russ also directed both shorts.

Though Koenig starred as Admiral Chekov in the previous shorts in the Renegades series, he will not be reprising that role in the new film. Additionally, Nichols will not be appearing as Uhura.

(14) BABY T.REX FOUND. An exciting development in paleontology was announced yesterday, giving a clearer picture at the lives of one of the most iconic dinosaurs. “Scientists unearth first baby tyrannosaur fossils ever found” in the University of Alberta Folio.

“Tyrannosaurs are represented by dozens of skeletons and thousands of isolated bones or partial skeletons,” said Mark Powers, second author on the study and PhD student in the Department of Biological Sciences. “But despite this wealth of data for tyrannosaur biology, the smallest identifiable individuals are aged three to four years old, much larger than when they would have hatched. No tyrannosaur eggs or embryos have been found even after 150 years of searching—until now.”

(15) VOTE FOR THE FINAL MEMBER OF THE X-MEN. The first-ever X-Men election is here! The fate of the X-Men is in YOUR hands. Vote at marvel.com/xmenvote starting January 27 until February 2 to determine the final member of the first X-Men team of the Krakoan era – and one of the most iconic teams in the Marvel Universe.

 As revealed in X-MEN #16, Cyclops and Jean Grey shared the need for a new X-Men team to protect the mutant nation of Krakoa and fight on mutantkind’s behalf. A number of nominations have been accepted since then…but the last member of the X-Men is now in YOUR hands!

 X-Men Ballot Nominations include:

  1. Banshee
  2. Polaris
  3. Forge
  4. Boom-Boom
  5. Tempo
  6. Cannonball
  7. Sunspot
  8. Strong Guy
  9. Marrow
  10. Armor

Election results, along with the full X-Men team, will be unveiled during the Hellfire Gala in Marvel comics this June.

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

BSFS Opens New Investigation of Harassment Complaints

The Baltimore Science Fiction Society has announced a new investigation of harassment complaints to be conducted by an outside investigator who will be looking into complaints the club addressed in an earlier statement. In the meantime, Balticon 55 chair Eric Gasior has voluntarily stepped aside from the club Board and the Balticon Committee, with Vice Chair Yakira Heistand to serve as the acting con chair.

The club’s press release says —


On the evening of January 4, 2021, the Baltimore Science Fiction Society (BSFS) Board of Directors (the Board) released a statement on the completed investigation of harassment complaints submitted against Mr. Gasior, the Con-Chair of the upcoming Balticon 55 convention.

At the monthly BSFS business meeting of the general membership on January 9, 2021, a BSFS member made a motion to reopen the harassment investigation. During debate on the motion, attendees raised concerns about the thoroughness, completeness, and transparency of the harassment investigation. Additionally, a previously anonymous complainant voluntarily identified herself as a complainant and repeated her complaint. After much discussion, the motion was tabled to be taken up at a closed meeting of the Board to be held the next day, January 10, 2021.

In light of the new information and the concerns the BSFS business meeting raised, the Board decided to engage an impartial, independent, outside investigator to perform a new, thorough, complete, and transparent investigation into the harassment complaints.

Using resources maintained by a locally based association of non-profits, the Board developed and is evaluating a list of investigators holding expertise relevant to performing a harassment investigation. From the list the Board will identify the best investigator available to perform a timely investigation. The Board’s expectation is to engage an investigator within the coming week to start work at the earliest date possible. The Board will provide the investigator with all the evidence the Board collected during the previous investigation. The Board will fully support the investigator’s efforts to gather additional evidence.

In the interest of cooperating with this investigation while Balticon 55 planning proceeds, Mr. Gasior has voluntarily stepped aside from the Board and the Balticon Committee for the duration of the investigation. Mr. Gasior’s status as a Life Member of BSFS remains unchanged. Effective immediately, and for the duration of the investigation, Ms Yakira Heistand, the current Vice Chair of Balticon 55, will serve as the acting Balticon 55 Con-Chair.

Upon completion of the investigation the Board will work with the investigator to publish the investigator’s findings and report. Within the context of the results of the investigation the Board may revisit the question of the Balticon 55 Con-Chair authority. The Board is committed to acting in accordance with the results of the investigation.


BSFS Reports Results of a Code of Conduct Investigation

The Baltimore Science Fiction Society (BSFS) Board of Directors has issued a statement about their investigation into “allegations that Mr. Eric Gasior acted inappropriately and/or violated BSFS’s Code of Conduct.” Gasior was Vice Chair of the Virtual Balticon 54 (2020) and will continue as Chair Balticon 55 (2021) now that the Board has determined his “actions were not behavior prohibited under the Code of Conduct.” However, “they did represent repeated and concerning problems in communication with Balticon volunteers” and the statement lists steps the club has taken to address those problems.

Specifics about the complaints and who made them are not disclosed in the statement.

This statement summarizes the results of the Baltimore Science Fiction Society (BSFS) Board of Directors’ (Board) investigation into allegations that Mr. Eric Gasior acted inappropriately and/or violated BSFS’s Code of Conduct.

The Board has investigated all complaints brought to our attention from Virtual Balticon 54 (VB54) and in October 2020. The complaints arose from two major sources. The first complaints the Board received were caused by communication failures caused by emergency changes to Balticon in response to Covid-19. In attempting to better understand changing plans for the virtual convention, Mr. Gasior disrupted some staff preparations creating confusion and additional stress. The BSFS Board deeply regrets that this was not effectively handled at the time. Other complaints did not arise directly from Balticon or BSFS activities; this information was considered in order to deepen our understanding of the problem and because, as Balticon Chair, Mr. Gasior represents BSFS. Based on all evidence presented, we concluded that Mr. Gasior’s actions were not behavior prohibited under the Code of Conduct;[i] however, they did represent repeated and concerning problems in communication with Balticon volunteers.

The BSFS Board takes all allegations of violations of the Code of Conduct very seriously and will not tolerate inappropriate behavior at any BSFS related event, including Balticon. All members and guests are encouraged to bring such matters to the Board’s attention at any time, without fear of any adverse action being taken against them for doing so.

The Board took a considered and deliberative approach to the investigation. Because the Board takes such allegations seriously, we took the time required to investigate these complaints to be confident we gave all parties a fair opportunity to provide any and all evidence each party wished to share. We regret that this led to the mistaken impression that the Board was not addressing the allegations. We appreciate our volunteers and the work they put into making Balticon happen. The Board apologizes for any stress caused because we did not intervene in these matters prior to VB54 and for any subsequent harm during the period in which we were working to fully investigate, understand, and deliberate on the matters placed before us.                                                            

During our investigation, the Board identified confusion about the role of the Anti-Harassment Working Group[ii] and concern that individuals holding a senior role in the working group, while also holding a major role in investigating alleged violations of the Code of Conduct, might have a conflict of interest[iii]. The investigation also revealed additional information about the number of VB54 volunteers affected by the behavior described in the complaints.

To address the problems identified during the investigation, the Board has taken the following actions:

1. Issued this statement to the BSFS community, including our apology for any impacts on our volunteers and the rest of the BSFS community.

2. Advised Mr. Gasior that the roles of Con Chair and Vice-Chair are not compatible with hands-on involvement in any Balticon department and strongly recommended he work through the department heads.

3. Renamed the Anti-Harassment Working Group to the Anti-Harassment Policy Group to clarify the Group’s purpose. We have accepted Mr. Gasior’s resignation from the Group. He will not be part of the Group while he is serving as Con Chair. This clarifies the separate roles of policy development versus incident investigation and resolution.

4. Recommended that Mr. Gasior work closely with the Balticon Vice-Chair, Ms. Yakira Heistand, and other members of the Board, for assistance in managing Balticon communications. The Board will continue to monitor preparations for Balticon 55 and take additional action if warranted by future events.


[i]  In general, prohibited actions include sexual harassment or misconduct, violence or the threat of violence, other unwelcome physical contact, coercion, stalking, or slurs and derogatory comments and similar behavior. For details on the Code of Conduct, please see https://bsfs.org/policy.htm.

[ii] The Anti-Harassment Working Group members provide advice to the BSFS Board on preventing harassment and drafting the Code of Conduct and related policies. The Group’s members have no role in investigating or resolving alleged violations, and were not part of this investigation or adjudication of these complaints.

[iii] Mr. Gasior was not part of any Board discussions concerning this investigation except for the opportunities provided to submit responses to the complaints.

Pixel Scroll 9/5/20 Astronauts In The Weightlessness Of Pixelated Space

(1) BSFS MAKES GRANT TO 2020 WORLD FANTASY CON. The membership of the Baltimore Science Fiction Society has granted $1000 to the 2020 World Fantasy Convention, Salt Lake City, Utah, which will be held virtually this year.

The grant may be used to defray any of the considerable fixed expenses that are required to hold the annual event, which awards the prestigious World Fantasy Awards to the best Fantasy or Dark Fantasy works published in the previous year.

The 2020 World Fantasy Convention will be held virtually, October 19 – November 1.

More information about the Baltimore Science Fiction Society (BSFS) can be found here.

(2) HORROR IN EVERYDAY LIFE. Shiv Ramdas livetweeted a family crisis he was following by phone. Thread starts here. (Since it already had 69K retweets and almost 300K likes by the time I saw it, you’ve probably already read it!)

(3) INCONCEIVABLE. Rolling Stone reports “‘The Princess Bride’ Cast to Reunite for Virtual Table Read” as a political fundraiser.

The cast of the beloved comedy The Princess Bride will reunite for a one-night-only virtual table read to raise money for the Democratic Party of Wisconsin.

“A Virtual Princess Bride Reunion” will features original cast members Cary Elwes, Robin Wright, Chris Sarandon, Mandy Patinkin, Wallace Shawn, Carol Kane, the film’s director Rob Reiner and “special guests.” In addition to the table read, the reunited cast will partake in a virtual Q&A moderated by Patton Oswalt.

The virtual table read will livestream only once, on September 13th at 6 p.m. CST. Fans of the film can RSVP at Act Blue to watch the livestream. “Anything you donate will be used to ensure that Trump loses Wisconsin, and thereby the White House,” organizers promise; both Elwes and Reiner have been vocal in their criticism of Donald Trump on social media.

(4) CANON FIRE. Chris Nuttall, in “Some Thoughts On The SF Canons” at Amazing Stories, offers his own outlook on genre history.

…Second, the average writer in the early era worked under a set of very harsh restrictions. There were lots of issues that were taboo, from sex and mating to race and racism; there were morality clauses in contracts that could and would be enforced if the writer stepped too far out of line. Heinlein, for example, wrote coloured characters … but he had to give himself plausible deniability He did this so well in one book – Tunnel in the Sky – that he managed to raise suspicions of miscegenation instead. By modern standards, this is insane as well as stupid. But we’re talking about an era that was worried about Mr. Spock’s ears!

Third, the average writer did not know where technology was going. They made a lot of guesses and got some things right, but they also got a lot of things wrong. Heinlein’s predictions regarding computer development, for example, were absurd. He assumed a lot of easy things would be very hard, if not impossible, and vice versa. Asimov’s predictions were even worse, to the point he has wood-burning stoves co-existing with atomic power plants and FTL drives.

Fourth, the average writer lived in a far more limited world. There was both relatively little awareness of other cultures and a certain sense that the Anglo-American way was the best. It isn’t until fairly recently, thanks to the internet, that we have really become aware of alternatives. They drew on their awareness of the world to shape their future worlds, hence the number of very traditional societies in fantastic worlds….

However, it seems unclear why 20th Century sff writers would be unaware of alternatives that Wilberforce, Lincoln, and Susan B. Anthony already knew about in the 19th Century. In fact, they probably weren’t unaware of them. It’s hard not to simply enjoy the status quo when it works in your favor.

(5) THE RETURN OF HYPER COMICS. A book-length collection of Steve Stiles’ Hyper Comics, in the works when he died earlier this year, was released in August. One of the places it can be ordered is Barnes and Noble.

The last project of legendary underground cartoonist and Hugo Award-winner Steve Stiles, who passed away in 2020, is a September release from Thintwhistle Books, a company formed by Steve’s widow, Elaine Stiles. 

Packed with more than 150 pages of Steve’s classic work from Hyper Comics, Heavy Metal, Stardate, and a host of other publications, it’s an essential part of any cartoon collector’s library !

Krupp Comic Works founder Denis Kitchen called Steve “one of the funniest and cleverest goddamn cartoonists on the planet.” Mark Schultz said of Steve’s back-up stories in Xenozoic Tales, “It was a joy to collaborate with him – if he made any adjustments to my scripts they were invariably improvements.” Heavy Metal editor Ted White called Steve’s contributions to the magazine “Phil-Dickian in their SF surrealism, wicked in their observations, and Firesign Theatre-like in their mocking details.” 

In The Return of Hyper Comics, you’ll thrill to the adventures of Jim Baxter, Marijuana Detective. You’ll share Steve’s nightmares as he meets Nixon and Trump. You’ll smile along with Mr. Smile when he accidentally kills a girl he is trying to save. “If only I could stop smiling,” he says. You’ll get an advance look at next month’s QAnon conspiracy when Steve reveals, “Joe Stalin Tells Me What to Draw!” And you’ll barf as Steve’s first orgy ends with tainted oysters and a group emergency room visit. 

Steve had a particular genius for chronicling life’s humiliating moments, and fortunately for his fans, Steve had enough humiliating moments in his life to fill volumes. He stands up to fellow students after one of them writes a racist insult on the blackboard, and in revenge they finger him as the culprit. A dealer spikes Steve’s coffee with LSD, leaving him on a bicycle in Queens in rush hour. But through it all, Steve faces life’s traumas with self-mocking humor and a core of optimism that nothing manages to quite extinguish. 

The Return of Hyper Comics is 150 pages of wicked social satire, bizarre sex, science fiction, violence, drugs, and personal humiliation, all with brilliant art by a master cartoonist. Thintwhistle Books disclaims responsibility for damage resulting from excessive laughter.

(6) RADIO REENACTMENT. “Daniel Dae Kim to Lead All-Star Recreation of ‘The Adventures of Superman’ 1940s Radio Serial”Yahoo! Entertainment has the story.

Daniel Dae Kim will lead an all-star cast in a recreation of the original “The Adventures of Superman” radio serial during the second installment of DC FanDome, Warner Bros. announced Friday.

Kim is one of three actors who will voice Superman in the one-hour production, which is being produced using original scripts recently found in Warner Bros. archives. The event is being held in support of The Creative Coalition, a Hollywood nonprofit that aims to address entertainment industry issues as well as urgent social issues.

Joining Kim as Superman in the production is Wilson Cruz (“Star Trek: Discovery”) and current Creative Coalition president Tim Daly (“Madam Secretary’)….

The performance of “The Adventures of Superman” will be available beginning on demand for 24 hours beginning Sept. 12 at 10:00 AM as part of DC FanDome: Explore the Multiverse, the second installment of the successful virtual Comic-Con alternative, which debuted in August. The event can be accessed at DCFanDome.com.

(7) NICHOLS MACIOROWSKI DIES. Influential animation visual development and story artist Sue Nichols Maciorowski died on September 1 at the age of 55 reports Animation Magazine.

The family obituary notes:

Sue graduated from California Institute of Arts with a visual animation degree in 1987. There she was part of a team that won an Emmy for work on The Muppet Babies. After graduation, Sue worked for Jim Henson on The Muppet Babies, Marvel production, and taught classes at CalArts. She then started her long career with Disney Studios working on animation films where she was best known for her expertise in character development. A few of her favorite works that she contributed to were Hercules, Beauty and the Beast, and the Princess and the Frog. More information on her career may be found on her website, Mothernichols.com.

Disney tweeted its own tribute. Thread starts here.

(8) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

  • September 5, 1952 Tales of Tomorrow’s “Seeing-Eye Surgeon” –

Does Doctor Xenon really exist? I don’t know. For that matter, do we three standing in this room really exist? Who knows? The real and the unreal. Where does one stop and the other begin. Maybe we’re just a figment or product of someone else’s fevered imagination. Someone from another world perhaps. — Doctor Bob Tyrell

On this day in 1952, Tales of Tomorrow first aired “Seeing-Eye Surgeon” which is the only SF credits for co-writers Michael Blair and Ed Dooley. The cast was  Bruce Cabot as surgeon Bob Tyrell, Constance Towers as Martha Larson,  Edwin Jerome                as Doctor Foyle and Joseph Holland as the possibly mythical Doctor Xenon. Towers would later be in  episodes of The Outer LimitsThe 4400 and Deep Space Nine. You can see it here.

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]

  • Born September 5, 1774 – Caspar Friedrich.   Leading Romantic painter; known for great landscapes with human presence small.  Here is a Frankenstein using CF’s Wanderer Above the Sea of Foghere is another using The Sea of Icehere is another using Cromlech in the Snow.  Here is a Dracula using Man and Woman Contemplating the Moon.  (Died 1840) [JH]
  • Born September 5, 1913 – Sheilah Beckett.  Illustrated seventy fairy-tale titles for Little Golden Books.  First woman illustrator at the Charles E. Cooper studio, N.Y.  Commercial work e.g. Necco Wafers, Whitman’s Chocolates, but preferred children’s books and Christmas cards.  Lived to be 100.  Here is a cover for Rapunzel.  Here is an interior for Sleeping Beauty.  Here is Jane Werner’s retelling of The Twelve Dancing Princesses.  Here is an interior from John Fowles’ retelling of Cinderella.  Here is a book of Beauty and the Beast stickers.  Here is Lowell Baird’s translation of Candide.  (Died 2013) [JH]
  • Born September 5, 1921 Paul L. Payne. He edited both Jungle Stories (three years in the Forties) and the better known Planet Stories (five years in the same period) but there’s very little on him on the web. ISFDB notes that he wrote one novel for us, The Cructars Are Coming, which is available in an Armchair Fiction print edition along with Frank Belknap Long’s Made to Order novel. (Died 1993.) (CE) 
  • Born September 5, 1936 Rhae Andrece and Alyce Andrece. They played a series of androids in I, Mudd, a classic Trek episode. Both appeared as police women in “Nora Clavicle and the Ladies’ Crime Club” on Batman. That’s their only genre other appearance. They only acted for three years and every appearance but one was with the other. (Died 2009 and 2005, respectively.) (CE)
  • Born September 5, 1936 —Joseph A. Smith, 84.  Two dozen covers, half a dozen interiors for us; many others.  Here is Hercules in his lion’s skin.  Here is The Adventures of King Midas (look at the rock!).  Here is Stopping for a Spell and here is Year of the Griffin.  Here is Witches.  Here is Gregor Mendel.  Here is Circus Train.  [JH]
  • Born September 5, 1939 George Lazenby, 81. He is best remembered for being James Bond in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service which I’m sure I’ve seen if I’ve completely forgotten it now. His turn as Bond was the shortest among the actors in the film franchise and he is the only Bond actor not to appear beyond a single film. Genre wise, he also played Jor-El on Superboy and was also a Bond like character named JB in the Return of the Man from U.N.C.L.E. film. (CE) 
  • Born September 5, 1940 Raquel Welch, 80. Fantastic Voyage was her first genre film though she made One Million Years B.C. thatwith her leather bikini got her more notice. She was charming in The Three Musketeers and The Four Musketeers. She has one-offs in Bewitched, Sabrina the Teenage WitchThe Muppet ShowLois & Clark: The New Adventures of SupermanHappily Ever After: Fairy Tales for Every Child and Mork & Mindy. (CE)
  • Born September 5, 1953  – Paul Stinson, 67.  Seventy covers, a few interiors, for us; more for commercial clients.  Here is Jesus on MarsHere is Gunn’s Road to SF vol. 2.  Here is the first issue of Beyond.  Here is Ice Hunt.  Here is Pillars of Salt.  [JH]
  • Born September 5, 1959 Carolyne Larrington, 61. Norse history and culture academic who’s the author of The Land of the Green Man: A Journey Through the Supernatural Landscapes of the British Isles and Winter is Coming: The Medieval World of Game of Thrones. She also wrote “Norse gods make a comeback thanks to Neil Gaiman – here’s why their appeal endures” for The Conversation. (CE)
  • Born September 5, 1964 Stephen Greenhorn, 56. Scriptwriter who written two episodes for Doctor Who: “The Lazarus Experiment” and “The Doctor’s Daughter”, both Tenth Doctor stories. He also wrote Marchlands, a supernatural series whichJodie Whittaker and Alex Kingston appeared in. He also wrote the Mind Shadows strip which was featured on the Who website. (CE)
  • Born September 5, 1964 – Olga Dugina, 56.  Teacher, illustrator (sometimes with Andrej Dugin).  Here is an image from The Three Orangeshere is another.  Here is Dragon Feathers.  Here is an interior from The Adventures of Abdi (Brazilian ed’n; text shown is in Portuguese).  Here is one from The Brave Little Tailor.  [JH]
  • Born September 5, 1981 – Dina Djabieva, 39.  Three images in Star*Line vol. 36 no. 2, cover for vol. 36 no. 3.  Here is “Pan”.  Here is “Warrior Monk”.  Here is “Elysium”.  Here is “The Maiden”.  She says, “I find myself living between two worlds, the dreaming and the waking.  Too often I am not able to distinguish between the two.”  [JH]

(10) COMICS SECTION.

  • Tom Gauld on the possibilities of sci-fi (in The Guardian).
  • Another Tom Gauld sff cartoon —

(11) INSIDE COMICS. The Numlock News’ Walt Hickey interviews a comics industry expert: “Numlock Sunday: John Jackson Miller on the comic book shutdown”.

You alluded to this a little bit, but one thing that’s so interesting about this particular industry is there are two very large well-capitalized companies and then several other smaller companies producing the core product. Then there’s one middleman. And then there’s zillions of tiny little mom and pops. And as a result, the one middleman was able to functionally shut everything down.

Most responsible retailers in the business saw that this needed to happen because we could not have stuff being shipped that couldn’t be sold. The bills would keep mounting up. The problem simply is that this is a system where it expects that there’s cashflow coming in constantly. Diamond was in a situation where they needed to try to pay off their suppliers for the books that they had already sold, and they knew that there was not going to be any more money coming in at the same time. Diamond did get a credit line with Chase, Steve Geppi has said this is not going to be a problem going forward.

But there are many different kinds of comic shops. There are many that focus on graphic novels, and they’re much more insulated against these problems, because the graphic novels have continued shipping from other other distributors outside the comics industry like Random House. There are stores that have games or toys or something else like that they’re also doing.

Then, of course, let’s say you’re a pure comic shop, that means you probably also have a back issue section and many have a mail order, online stores or eBay stores, and there’s over 10 billion comic books already in existence so not having the new ones for a few weeks, you know, that’s not that big a deal.

But there are some shops, they’re suburban in nature, they tend to be more superhero-centric stores and those are the people that are more concerned about a disruption to the habitual nature of comics reading. My response to that would be, “yeah, but is the comics habit going to break any faster than the professional basketball watching habit will break, or the movie-going habit will break?” I think when you have every alternative also shutting down, you’re less likely to have people respond to this as, “the comics, they’ve left me, they’ve abandoned me.” No, it’s that the comet has struck, and we’re all going to just catch our breath here for a while, and we’re going to try to figure out how to restart this thing.

I’ve used the metaphor of Apollo 13 that they have to bring these systems up one at a time, systems that were never designed to shut down.

(12) NE$$IE. And now that you’ve finished that business survey, InsideHook hopes you want to know “How Much Does the Loch Ness Monster Boost Scotland’s Economy?”

When the effect of tourist attractions on local economies comes to mind, what are some of the first places one can think of? Historical sites, perhaps, or cultural events. But what happens when the thing that helps drive a local economy might not exist at all?

This isn’t a brain-teaser or a deep dive into epistemological thinking; instead, it’s a precursor to the way the Loch Ness Monster hosted the Scottish economy. Which, it turns out, is by a lot. A new article by Michele Debczak at Mental Floss delves into the way one of the world’s most famous cryptids has helped shape the local economy in Scotland. Nessie might not be real, but its impact certainly is.

How much of an impact is there on Scotland’s economy? According to a study commissioned by accountant and Loch Ness Monster fan club founder Gary Campbell, the economic boost of Nessie tourism heads into the 8 figures.

(13) RADIO FREE DRACULA. The University of Delaware’s Resident Ensemble Players will be doing a five-part radio play adaptation of Dracula. Hear a member of the company speak about “Dracula: About the Project” at Soudcloud.

A free audio presentation by the Resident Ensemble Players, in partnership with WVUD 91.3 FM.

Much more than just a gothic horror story, DRACULA is a love story, a mystery, and a globe-trotting adventure tale. The REP partners with radio station WVUD for a free, five-episode audio drama of this classic to be presented every Friday night in October.

Beginning in the forbidding mountains of Transylvania, a mysterious night-stalking beast entraps and seduces his way to England in search of new blood. A group of colleagues and companions unearth the horrible secrets of this life-sucking creature as they launch a heart-pounding chase across Europe, only to find themselves in the fight for their lives to save both themselves and the ones they love.

WVUD will broadcast/stream DRACULA in October on Friday nights at 7:00 PM:

  • Oct. 2, 7:00 PM — Episode 1: Listen, What Sweet Music 
  • Oct. 9, 7:00 PM — Episode 2: The Coming Storm
  • Oct. 16, 7:00 PM — Episode 3: Of Nature and Supernature 
  • Oct. 23, 7:00 PM — Episode 4: Master and Servant 
  • Oct. 30, 7:00 PM — Episode 5: Chasing Nightfall

Listeners can tune into WVUD’s Friday night broadcasts on 91.3 FM on radio or stream from computer or digital devices at http://www.wvud.org/

(14) NO DEPOSIT, NO RETURN OF THE KING. GameSpot recommends you use your Labor Day Weekend free time studying this extra-long list: “Lord Of The Rings Rewind: 49 Things You Didn’t Know About The Return Of The King”. Lots of things I didn’t know here.

11. This elf is an in-joke

The elf who tells Arwen that she “cannot delay” her journey to the Undying Lands was played by Bret McKenzie, who subsequently became famous as half of musical comedy duo Flight of the Conchords, alongside Jemaine Clement. McKenzie very briefly appeared in Fellowship of the Ring, and his character became known as Figwit among admiring fans–an acronym for “Frodo is great… who is THAT?” Jackson decided to put him in Return of the Ring and give him some dialogue “just for fun for the fans.”

(15) MEDIA TIE-IN. Who knew there was Forbidden Planet merch out there? A buddy of John King Tarpinian’s stopped off at the Walmart in Bakersfield for supplies on his way to the Sequoias found this on the shelves —

(16) VIDEO OF THE DAY. “Double King” on YouTube is a 2017 film by Australian animator Felix Colgrave about a murderous monarch that has been viewed 42 million times but has never shown up on File 770! (Although I don’t think there’s a rule that it has to.)

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

Pixel Scroll 4/30/20 A File And Scroll Reunion Is Only A Pixel Away

(1) CATS TRIUMPHANT. Naomi Kritzer has had a big week. Her YA novel Catfishing on Catnet won an Edgar Award today, and won a  Minnesota Book Award on Tuesday. Here’s an excerpt of the Q&A she did for the St. Paul Library:

How does it feel to be a Minnesota Book Award finalist?

It is a huge honor and feels amazing!

Tell us something about your finalist book that you want readers to know?

It is loosely based on my (Hugo Award-winning) short story Cat Pictures Please, which you can still find online:

Share something about your writing process and preferences. For instance, where is your favorite place to write?

When I’m outlining or brainstorming, I use a notebook of unlined paper, like a sketch diary. I like to write in my sunny living room but discovered at some point that the ergonomics of a couch, hassock, and lap desk will lead quickly to back problems, so I usually write at a desk in my home office.

(2) BOOKSTORE LOVE. LitHub tells the world “Now you can use your favorite indie bookstore as your Zoom background.” Like this shot of Vroman’s – where John King Tarpinian and I got John Scalzi to sign our copies of The Collapsing Empire a few years ago. The complete list of bookstores with notes on each one can be found on the Lookout + Ecotone blog.

(3) INGENIOUS. The Science Fiction and Fantasy Association of New Zealand blog gives a good rundown of Alison Scott’s plans for “The Virtual GUFF Tour”, since she can’t travel there in person this year. It’s an effort completely worthy of a former editor of the fanzine Plokta, “The journal of superfluous technology.” 

Alison Scott is the recently elected European GUFF delegate. The plan was for the winning delegate to travel down under to meet local fans and addend the 2020 Worldcon – CoNZealand. Of course because of you-know-what the borders are closed and CoNZealand has gone virtual. But Alison appears undaunted – she now plans to take a virtual tour of Australasia visiting Australian and New Zealand places and fans before attending the virtual worldcon. There will be a proper itinerary mimicking a physical journey and Alison even plans to adhere to the local timezones (yay jetlag!). You can read more about her plans and follow her progress over on the facebook group dedicated to the trip.

(4) RAMPING UP TO THE APOCALYPSE. The Baltimore Science Fiction Society has completed the ADA compliant ramp in front of their building. The January 20 Pixel Scroll ran details about the permits coming through. Club President Dale S. Arnold said today –

Although the COVID-19 emergency and related closures caused some delays, eventually the weather and logistics worked to allow completion. Many years ago when the plan for renovations to the BSFS Building was announced the author Jack Chalker commented that if a bunch of SF Fans were able to pull off that complex of a plan it would be a sign of the coming apocalypse.  With the completion of this ramp (except final painting the door which was altered in the ramp design) we have now realized the dream from 1991 having completed everything planned when we bought the building.

And BSFS didn’t finish a moment too soon, because the apocalypse appears to be just around the corner.

(5) NOT GENTEEL. Errolwi points out how well today’s Merriam-Webster tweet complements James Davis Nicoll’s famous quote about the English language:

(6) AIMLESS, IF NOT LOST, IN SPACE. And by no coincidence whatsoever, the next item is about James Davis Nicoll’s latest Tor.com post, “Far From Any Star: Five Stories About Rogue Worlds”.

It’s been weeks since you last socialized (in the flesh) with anyone outside your household…or with anyone, if you live alone. Loneliness is tough. But things could be worse: you could be a rogue world, ejected from your home system billions of years ago. You could be a pitiful world formed far from any star. Such worlds are commonplace in our galaxy. They are not quite so common in science fiction. Still, a few of them feature in books that you may have read…

(7) JEMISIN AND GAIMAN. The Fisher Center will present “UPSTREAMING: Neil Gaiman in Conversation with N. K. Jemisin” on May 2 at 7:30 p.m. EST. However, the website says, “Tickets are not currently on sale. Call the box office for more information, 845-758-7900.” So if you’re interested, call.

Join Professor in the Arts Neil Gaiman for a remote, live streamed conversation with Hugo Award-winning author N. K. Jemisin (Broken Earth trilogy), whose new work The City We Became was released in March to great acclaim. The conversation is part of an ongoing Fisher Center series in which Gaiman discusses the creative process with another artist.

(8) LE GUIN IN ’75. Fanac.org has posted a video recording of an Aussiecon (1975) Worldcon panel with Ursula K. Le Guin, Susan Wood and others, “Worlds I Have Discovered.”

AussieCon, the 33rd Worldcon, was held in Melbourne, Australia in 1975. This panel centers on questions to Guest of Honor Ursula Le Guin’s on her writing for young adults (or at least classified as for young adults). The panelists, moderated by Fan Guest of Honor Susan Wood, are Ursula herself, Stella Leeds, Peter Nicholls, Anna Shepherd, and Ann Sydhom. The video quality leaves a lot to be desired, but the discussion on Le Guin’s process of writing, the panel’s views on children’s literature, and children’s literature as a literary ghetto remain interesting and very pertinent. Remember, this was decades before the phenomena of Harry Potter.

Andrew Porter sent the link with this reminder that the same year his Algol Press published Dreams Must Explain Themselves, a 36-page chapbook whose title essay is about how Le Guin got ideas for books.

(9) TODAY IN HISTORY.

  • April 30, 1955  — Science Fiction Theatre’s Y.O.R.D. episode first aired. Directed by Leon Benson from a screenplay by him and George Van Marter as based on a story written by Marter and Ivan Tors. Truman Bradley Was The Host and the cast included Walter Kingsford, Edna Miner Louis,  Jean Heydt and DeForest Kelley. The latter would be playing Captain Hall, M.D.  You can watch it here.

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge. Bonus typos provided by OGH.]

  • Born April 30, 1913 Jane Rice. Her first story “The Dream” was published  in the July 1940 issue of Unknown. Amazingly, she’d publish ten stories there during the War. Her only novel Lucy remains lost due to somewhat mysterious circumstances. Much of her short stories are collected in The Idol of the Flies and Other Stories which is not available in digital form. (Died 2003.)
  • Born April 30, 1920 E. F. Bleiler. An editor, bibliographer and scholar of both sff and detective fiction. He’s responsible in the Forties for co-editing the Best SF Stories with T.E. Dikty. They later edited Best Science-Fiction Stories. He also did such valuable reference guides like The Checklist of Fantastic Literature and The Guide to Supernatural Fiction. (Died 2010.)
  • Born April 30, 1926 Edmund Cooper. Pulpish writer of space opera not for the easily offended. His The Uncertain Midnight has an interesting take on androids but most of his work is frankly misogynistic. And he was quite prolific with over twenty-four novels and a dozen story collections. A lot of his work is available at the usual digital suspects. (Died 1982.)
  • Born April 30, 1934 William Baird Searles. Author and critic. He‘s best remembered  for his long running review work for Asimov’s  where he reviewed books, and Amazing Stories and F&SF where he did film and tv reviews. I’m not familiar with his writings but I’d be interested to know who here has read Reader’s Guide to Science Fiction and Reader’s Guide to Fantasy which he did, as they might be useful to own. (Died 1993.)
  • Born April 30, 1938 Larry Niven, 82. One of my favorite authors to read, be it Ringworld, The Mote in God’s Eye with Jerry Pournelle, or the Rainbow Mars stories which I love in the audiobook version. What’s your favorite Niven story? And yes, I did look up his Hugos. “Neutron Star” was his first at NyCon 3 followed by Ringworld at Noreascon 1 followed by “Inconstant Moon” (lovely story) the following year at L.A. Con I,  “The Hole Man” (which I don’t remember reading) at Aussiecon 1 and finally “The Borderland of Sol” novelette at MidAmericaCon. He’s not won a Hugo since 1976. 
  • Born April 30, 1973 Naomi Novik, 47. She wrote the Temeraire series which runs to nine novels so far. Her first book, His Majesty’s Dragon, won the Astounding Award. She most deservedly won the Nebula Award for Best Novel for Uprooted which is a most excellent read. I’ve not yet her Spinning Silver, so opinions are welcome.
  • Born April 30, Gal Gadot, 34. Wonder Woman of course in the DC film universe. Other genre work, well, other than voicing Shank on Ralph Breaks the Internet, there really isn’t any. She did play Linnet Ridgeway Doyle in the Kenneth Branagh production of Murder on the Orient Express which is quite lovely but hardly genre or even genre adjacent. 

(11) SOUNDTRACK. Steve Vertlieb would like to introduce the world to French film composer, Thibaut Vuillermet.

(12) REVENGE OF THE GRINDHOUSE. SYFY Wire reports ”Trolls World Tour Rocks $100 Million On Vod”.

The decision to skip a theatrical release in the age of coronavirus was a wise move that led to big returns for DreamWorks’ Trolls World Tour

According to The Wall Street Journal, the animated movie has racked up nearly $100 million in the three short weeks since it arrived on VOD and digital platforms Friday, April 10. With approximately 5 million rentals at $19.99 a pop, Universal has generated over $77 million from a digital release model that allows studios to keep an estimated 80 percent of profits. Since the traditional theatrical model relies on a 50-50 kind of split, a film playing in a physical venue has to make a lot more money in order for a studio to turn a profit. 

The real point here is that Trolls Would Tour has brought in more tangible revenue during its first 19 days on demand than the first movie did during five months in theaters.

However, one theater chain intends to punish Universal for their plans to reproduce the success by simultaneously releasing movies in theaters and through video-on-demand, presumably trimming their revenue. The Hollywood Reporter covered the announcement: “AMC Theatres Refuses to Play Universal Films in Wake of ‘Trolls: World Tour'”.

AMC Theatres on Tuesday delivered a blistering message to Universal Pictures, saying the world’s largest cinema chain will no longer play any of the studio’s films in the wake of comments made by NBCUniversal CEO Jeff Shell regarding the on-demand success of Trolls World Tour and what it means for the future of moviegoing post-coronavirus pandemic….

“The results for Trolls World Tour have exceeded our expectations and demonstrated the viability of PVOD,” Shell told The Wall Street Journal, which first reported the numbers. “As soon as theaters reopen, we expect to release movies on both formats.”

In a strongly worded letter to Universal Filmed Entertainment Group chairman Donna Langley, AMC Theatres chairman and-CEO Adam Aron said Shell’s comments were unacceptable. AMC is the largest circuit in the world.

“It is disappointing to us, but Jeff’s comments as to Universal’s unilateral actions and intentions have left us with no choice. Therefore, effectively immediately AMC will no longer play any Universal movies in any of our theaters in the United States, Europe or the Middle East,” Aron wrote.

“This policy affects any and all Universal movies per se, goes into effect today and as our theaters reopen, and is not some hollow or ill-considered threat,” he continued. “Incidentally, this policy is not aimed solely at Universal out of pique or to be punitive in any way, it also extends to any movie maker who unilaterally abandons current windowing practices absent good faith negotiations between us, so that they as distributor and we as exhibitor both benefit and neither are hurt from such changes….” 

(13) CHICKEN EATER OF THE SEA. [Item by Chip Hitchcock.] From the Harvard Gazette: “Water Beast: New paper argues the Spinosaurus was aquatic, and powered by predatory tail”.

New paper argues the Spinosaurus was aquatic, and powered by predatory tail

Back in the Cretaceous period, 145 to 66 million years ago, dinosaurs dominated the land and sky. They also, a new paper argues, terrorized the aquatic realm. Recent fossil evidence has revealed that Spinosaurus aegyptiacus, among the largest of all known carnivorous dinosaurs, was a creature of the water, with a center of gravity and a giant tail fin perfect for swimming. The same paper shares robotic modeling by two Harvard scientists that shows how that large, flexible tail fin — unique among dinosaurs — would have given the giant predator a deadly propulsive thrust in the water, similar to a salamander or crocodile tail.

The paper, “Tail-Propelled Aquatic Propulsion in a Theropod Dinosaur,” in the April 29 issue of Nature, uses new fossil evidence and robotically controlled models created by Harvard co-authors Stephanie E. Pierce and George V. Lauder, professors of organismic and evolutionary biology, to show its power.

Pierce said the new fossils were necessary to make their argument, as much of the fossil evidence of Spinosaurus, unearthed by German paleontologist Ernst Stromer, had been destroyed in World War II. University of Detroit paleontologist Nizar Ibrahim, the Nature paper’s lead author, had located more traces of the dinosaur in Morocco in 2014, and in 2018 he went back, successfully excavating extensive Spinosaurus remains. The fossils included tail vertebrae with meter-long spines that seemed to form an expanded paddle, raising questions as to what the tail was used for.

“The working hypothesis was that Spinosaurus used its tail to swim through water,” said Pierce, Thomas D. Cabot Associate Professor of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology. Ibrahim and his team reached out to Pierce, curator of vertebrate paleontology at the Museum of Comparative Zoology, to test their idea. She was immediately intrigued by the 5-plus-meter-long tail.

Yes, Dave, “Predatory Tail” would be a great name for a band.

(14) YOUR MISSION… “Nasa names companies to develop Moon landers for human missions”

Nasa has chosen the companies that will develop landers to send astronauts to the Moon’s surface in the 2020s.

The White House wants to send the next man and the first woman to the Moon in 2024, to be followed by other missions.

Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin, Elon Musk’s SpaceX and Alabama-based Dynetics were selected to work on landers under the space agency’s Artemis programme.

The 2024 mission will see astronauts walk on the Moon’s surface for the first time since 1972.

Combined, the contracts are worth $967m (£763m; €877m) and will run for a “base period” of 10 months.

“With these contract awards, America is moving forward with the final step needed to land astronauts on the Moon by 2024, including the incredible moment when we will see the first woman set foot on the lunar surface,” said Nasa’s administrator Jim Bridenstine.

“This is the first time since the Apollo era that Nasa has direct funding for a human landing system, and now we have companies on contract to do the work for the Artemis programme.”

(15) RECIPES WITH CHARACTERS. “Need new recipes for quarantine? Pixar’s YouTube channel is here to help”. Entertainment Weekly shares some examples.

As Pixar taught us, anyone can cook… and now the animation studio is giving you something to cook.

The Pixar YouTube channel features a series called “Cooking With Pixar,” a collection of recipes inspired by the studio’s films. At the moment, the series only has three videos, but they should provide some inspiration if you’re in need of something new to cook — which, it’s fair to say, most of us probably are at this point.

(16) YOU’RE MELTING! “Nasa space lasers track melting of Earth’s ice sheets” – BBC has the story.

Scientists have released a new analysis of how the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets have changed, from 2003 to 2019.

The study shows that ice losses from melting have outpaced increases in snowfall, resulting in a 14mm rise in global sea-levels over the period.

We’ve had a number of very similar reports to this recently.

What makes this one of interest is that it uses data from the highest-resolution satellite system dedicated to studying the poles – IceSat.

This system flies space lasers over glaciers and other ice fields to track their constantly shifting shape.

The US space agency (Nasa) has now launched two of these altimeter instruments.

The first, IceSat, operated between 2003 and 2009; the second, IceSat-2, was put up in 2018.

Thursday’s report is a first attempt to tie both satellites’ observations together.

(17) BROTHER GUY’S AIR. “Antarctic meteorites yield global bombardment rate”

A team of UK scientists has provided a new estimate for the amount of space rock falling to Earth each year.

It’s in excess of 16,000kg. This is for meteorite material above 50g in mass.

It doesn’t take account of the dust that’s continuously settling on the planet, and of course just occasionally we’ll be hit by a real whopper of an asteroid that will skew the numbers.

But the estimate is said to give a good sense of the general quantity of rocky debris raining down from space.

(18) VIDEO OF THE DAY. Horizon on Vimeo is a short film by Armond Dijcks based on images taken by the International Space Station.

[Thanks to Joyce Scrivner, Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, Cat Eldridge, Chip Hitchcock, JJ, Martin Morse Wooster, Michael Toman, Errolwi, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Matthew Johnson.]