Pixel Scroll 12/26/19 Demotic Space Opera

(1) HUGO VOTER ELIGIBILITY. The CoNZealand committee reminds fans:

If you would like to make a nomination for the Hugo Awards, you must purchase your CoNZealand membership by 31st December 2019, 11.59pm PST.

(2) PODCAST FINDER. The Cambridge Geek compiled a great tool for podcast listeners: “All of 2019’s Audio Drama/Fiction Podcast Debut Releases”. The various tabs include several for genre, such as Science Fiction – over 100 entries – plus Superhero and Urban Fantasy.

Right, here’s the big list of every new Audio Drama/Fiction/RPG show I found that debuted in 2019, sorted by genre. I think it contains 660 shows. It’s probably a fair chunk of data, so I’ve taken the embedded episodes out – you’ll have to look at a show itself to have a listen.

(3) ANOTHER FAILED PREDICTION. According to Vox, “The 2010s were supposed to bring the ebook revolution. It never quite came.”

Instead, at the other end of the decade, ebook sales seem to have stabilized at around 20 percent of total book sales, with print sales making up the remaining 80 percent. “Five or 10 years ago,” says Andrew Albanese, a senior writer at trade magazine Publishers Weekly and the author of The Battle of $9.99, “you would have thought those numbers would have been reversed.”

And in part, Albanese tells Vox in a phone interview, that’s because the digital natives of Gen Z and the millennial generation have very little interest in buying ebooks. “They’re glued to their phones, they love social media, but when it comes to reading a book, they want John Green in print,” he says. The people who are actually buying ebooks? Mostly boomers. “Older readers are glued to their e-readers,” says Albanese. “They don’t have to go to the bookstore. They can make the font bigger. It’s convenient.”

Ebooks aren’t only selling less than everyone predicted they would at the beginning of the decade. They also cost more than everyone predicted they would — and consistently, they cost more than their print equivalents. On Amazon as I’m writing this, a copy of Sally Rooney’s Normal People costs $12.99 as an ebook, but only $11.48 as a hardcover. And increasingly, such disparities aren’t an exception. They’re the rule.

(4) TOP SFF BY POC FROM 2018. Rocket Stack Rank catches up with its annual “Outstanding SF/F by People of Color 2018”, with 65 stories that were that were finalists for major SF/F awards, included in “year’s best” SF/F anthologies, or recommended by prolific reviewers in short fiction.

Eric Wong says, “Included are some observations obtained from pivoting the table by publication, author, awards, year’s best anthologies, and reviewers.”

(5) HEAD OF THE CLASS. The Oxford Mail, while spotlighting a photo gallery about the famed sff author, typoed his name in the headline. And you thought that kind of thing only happens at a certain well-known news blog…

(6) SMOOCHLESS IN SINGAPORE. That history-making kiss in a galaxy far, far away? Well, that history hasn’t been made everywhere in a galaxy close, close to us: “Disney Removes Same-Sex Kiss From ‘Star Wars’ Film in Singapore”.

The scene, which Disney cut to preserve a PG-13 rating in the conservative nation, was the first overt appearance of gay characters in the “Star Wars” franchise.

A brief kiss between two female characters was removed from screenings of “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker” in Singapore, a country with restrictive laws against gay people.

Though lasting just a few seconds and hardly a major plot point, the kiss between two minor characters was notable as the first overt appearance of gay characters in a “Star Wars” film. Disney cut the kiss to preserve the film’s PG-13 rating in Singapore, according to reports.

(7) MEMORIES, CAN’T GET RID OF THOSE MEMORIES. At The Cut, Hannah Gold wails that “‘Cats’ Has Plunged Us All Into a Horrifying, Ceaseless Fever Dream”.

Apparently the people who made this infernal movie are having to digitally retouch it as it’s in theaters, due to some last-minute suggestions, like that Judi Dench’s character Old Deuteronomy (unquestionably a cat) should not suddenly, for a single shot, have a human hand with a wedding ring on it.

(8) SHINY. BBC gives you a peek at Doctor Who’s remodeled ride: “Look inside the Series 12 TARDIS!”. Photo gallery at the link.

(9) FOILED AGAIN. People Magazine: “Martin Scorsese’s Daughter Trolls Her Dad by Wrapping His Christmas Gifts in Marvel Paper”.

Martin Scorsese‘s daughter is poking fun at the filmmaker following his comments about the Marvel franchise.

On Christmas Eve, Francesca Scorsese showed off the many gifts she got for her dad, which she hilariously wrapped in Marvel wrapping paper.

“Look what I’m wrapping my dad’s xmas gifts in,” Francesca wrote over the Instagram Story photo of the presents, which are adorned with comic book images of The Hulk, Captain America and many other super heroes.

Francesca’s timely joke comes a month after Scorsese, 77, made headlines for saying Marvel films are “not cinema.”

(10) TODAY IN HISTORY.

  • December 26, 1954 — The very last episode of The Shadow radio serial aired.  It was the program’s 665th installment and the episode was “Murder by the Sea” with Bret Morrison as The Shadow (Lamont Cranston) and Gertrude Warner as Margot Lane. This is the final episode of The Shadow to be aired on the Mutual Broadcasting System.
  • December 26, 1959 — In Japan, Battle In Outer Space premiered. It was produced by Toho Studios, best known for Godzilla. Directed by Ishiro Honda and featuring the special effects of  Eiji Tsuburaya, the film  had a cast of Ryo Ikebe, Koreya Senda and Yoshio Tsuchiya. It was released in the Stateside in an English-dubbed version by Columbia Pictures a year later where it was a double feature with 12 to the Moon. Reception in the States as usual praised the special effects and panned the acting. Rotten Tomatoes reviewers currently deciedly don’t like it giving a 37% rating. 

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born December 26, 1791 Charles Babbage. Y’ll likely best know him as creator of the Babbage Machine which shows up in Perdido Street Station, The Peshawar Lancers, The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage webcomic, and there’s “Georgia on My Mind“ a novelette by Charles Sheffield which involves a search for a lost Babbage device. The latter won both a  Nebula and a Hugo Award for Best Novelette. (Died 1871.)
  • Born December 26, 1903 Elisha Cook Jr. On the Trek side, he shows up as playing lawyer Samuel T. Cogley in the “Court Martial” episode. Elsewhere he had long association with the genre starting with Voodoo Island and including House on a Haunted Hill, Rosemary’s Baby, Wild Wild West, The Night Stalker and Twilight Zone. (Died 1995.)
  • Born December 26, 1926 Mark R. Hillegas. ESF claims that he was one of the first to teach a University level course in SFF which he did at Colgate in 1961. The Future as Nightmare: H G Wells and the Anti-Utopians and Shadows of Imagination: The Fantasies of C S Lewis, J R R Tolkien and Charles Williams are his two works in the field. The former is listed in Barron’s Anatomy of Wonder as part of a core collection of genre non-fiction. SFRA awarded the Pilgrim Award. (Died 2000.)
  • Born December 26, 1929 Kathleen Crowley. She retired from acting at forty so she has a brief career. She appeared in only a limited number of genre roles, one being as Nora King in in early Fifties Target Earth, and Dolores Carter in Curse of The Undead, a Western horror film. She also played Sophia Starr twice on Batman. (Died 2017.)
  • Born December 26, 1951 Priscilla Olson, 68. She and her husband have been involved with NESFA Press’s efforts to put neglected SF writers back into print and has edited myriad writers such by Chad Oliver and Charles Harness, plus better-known ones like Jane Yolen.  She’s chaired a number of Boskones.
  • Born December 26, 1953 Clayton Emery, 66. Somewhere there’s a bookstore with nothing but the novels and collections that exist within a given franchise. This author has novels in the Forgotten Realms, Magic: The Gathering and Runesworld franchise, plus several genre works including surprisingly Tales of Robin Hood on Baen Books. Must not be your granddaddy’s Hood.
  • Born December 26, 1960 Temuera Morrison, 59. Ahhhh clones. In Attack of the Clones, he plays Jango Fett. In Revenge of the Sith, he came back in the guise of Commander Cody. See no spoilers? 
  • Born December 26, 1961 Tahnee Welch, 58. Yes the daughter of that actress. She’s in both Cocoon films as well in Sleeping Beauty which was filmed in the same time. Black Light in which she’s the lead might qualify as genre in the way some horror does.
  • Born December 26, 1970 Danielle Cormack, 49. If it’s fantasy and it was produced in New Zealand, she’s might have  been in it. She was in Xena and Hercules as Ephiny on recurring role, Hercules again as Lady Marie DeValle, Jack of All Trades, one of Kage Baker’s favorite series because, well, Bruce was the lead, as she was Raina in recurring role, Samsara on Xena in amother one-off and Margaret Sparrow in Perfect Creature, an alternate universe horror film.

(12) COMICS SECTION.

(13) ARMORED SJW CREDENTIALS. Yeah, I think I missed this one last month — “This company makes cardboard tanks to help your cat conquer the world”. Upworthy’s profile includes pictures.

“Sit back and have a giggle at your cat ‘doing human things’ and help keep them away from clawing your favorite sofa!”

“These cardboard playhouses come in various humorous designs; the Tank, the Catillac, the Fire Engine, Plane, and for those kitties with a bit more style, the Cabin and Tepee.”

(14) RARE MEMORIAL. NPR reports “Hero Killed In UNC-Charlotte Shooting Immortalized As ‘Star Wars’ Jedi”

Riley Howell, 21, was praised as a hero by police officials, who said “his sacrifice saved lives.” Howell charged and tackled the gunman who opened fire in a classroom on campus in April. Police said his actions stopped the gunman from shooting more people. Ellis Parlier, 19, was also killed in the attack, and four other students were wounded.

Howell, who was a Star Wars fan, is now being honored by Lucasfilm with an entry in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker — The Visual Dictionary, which was published this month.

According to The Charlotte Observer, the newly released book named a character after him: “Jedi Master and historian Ri-Lee Howell,” who is credited with collecting “many of the earliest accounts of exploration and codifications of The Force.” Jedi Master Howell also has an entry on Wookieepedia, the Star Wars wiki.

(15) NOT EVEN SO-SO, OR LESS HASTE, MORE SPEED. “Cats: Lame opening for Cats at US and UK box office”

The movie version of Cats has failed to live up to expectations at the box office, taking just $6.5m (£5m) at the North American box office.

The $100m (£77m) film, which was expected to make double that amount, debuted fourth on the US chart, with the new Stars Wars movie on top.

In the UK and Ireland, it grossed £3.4m, having been panned by critics.

According to the Hollywood Reporter, an updated print of Cats was sent out to cinemas on Friday.

The trade paper reported that the film’s director, Tom Hooper, had ordered re-edits to his film with “some improved visual effects”.

…Hooper, who made Oscar-winning film The King’s Speech, has been open about the fact that he only just managed to finish his CGI-heavy movie before its world premiere in New York.

At the event, Hooper told Variety it was completed in a 36-hour sprint on the Sunday.

(16) FROM BLANK TO DARK. “His Dark Materials: How we animated Iorek Byrnison” – BBC takes you inside, with several shots showing buildup from virtual skeleton or real reaction model to finished picture.

Click looks at the visual effects involved in the hit BBC show His Dark Materials.

Russell Dodgson of visual effects company Framestore spoke with Al Moloney about how technology is used to create some of the most memorable scenes from the series including a dramatic bear fight.

(17) PUTINTERNET PREMIERES. “Russia ‘successfully tests’ its unplugged internet” – BBC has the story.

Russia has successfully tested a country-wide alternative to the global internet, its government has announced.

Details of what the test involved were vague but, according to the Ministry of Communications, ordinary users did not notice any changes.

The results will now be presented to President Putin.

Experts remain concerned about the trend for some countries to dismantle the internet.

“Sadly, the Russian direction of travel is just another step in the increasing breaking-up of the internet,” said Prof Alan Woodward, a computer scientist at the University of Surrey.

(18) WHERE THE TEMPERATURE IS ZIP, NOT THE CODE. “‘Christmas with the penguins will be bliss’” a BBC followup to a Pixel about the most extreme post office.

Sub-zero temperatures, dinner from a tin, an icy shower for emergency use only – Kit Adams is all set for Christmas in Antarctica.

Forget chestnuts roasting by an open fire. Not for him hot water or mains electricity.

But Kit, 26, from Newcastle, County Down, cannot believe his luck.

Spending Christmas in a hut thousands of miles from home is bliss…even when top of the chores is scrubbing penguin poo from the doorstep.

The County Down man and his friends are overwintering in remote snowy wastes on an island the size of a football field.

But when that remote piece of earth is home to a colony of Gentoo penguins, it’s paradise.

…Kit is one of a team of five – two Britons, an Irishman; a Scot and a Finn – from the UK Antarctic Heritage Trust (UKAHT) who are spending five months at Port Lockroy on Goudier Island, Antarctica.

He is a mountaineer and adventurer by inclination but in Port Lockroy, he is also a postmaster.

…As well as stamp duties, the intrepid volunteers are also observing the penguins, how they meet; find a mate; build a nest, hatch and dispatch their chicks.

They will make an important contribution to a long-term scientific study of the penguin colony to better understand the impact of environmental changes on the site.

Guidelines state they must stay five metres from the penguins, but Kit said: “On an island the size of a football pitch this isn’t always possible.”

(19) A GALAXY DIVIDED. Annalee Newitz tells New York Times readers “‘Star Wars’ Fans Are Angry and Polarized. Like All Americans” in an opinion piece.

… “The Rise of Skywalker,” released last week, is a muddled and aimless homage to previous films in the series. Its countless callbacks to the older films feel like an effort to “make ‘Star Wars’ great again,” though it does manage to deliver a few liberal-sounding messages. Call it the Joe Biden of “Star Wars” movies.

To continue the analogy, you might say that “The Last Jedi,” “The Force Awakens,” and “Rogue One” are in the Barack Obama tradition. They gave fans truly diverse casts and grappled in a relatively nuanced way with the class and race conflicts that have hovered at the margins of every “Star Wars” story.

They also made fans of the early movies livid. Some used social media to demand that Disney stop with the politically correct storytelling, while others launched racist attacks on the Vietnamese-American actress Kelly Tran, who plays the engineer Rose Tico in two of the films….

(20) FUN WITH YOUR OLD HEAD. Popular Mechanics boldly equivocates “Head Transplants Could Definitely Maybe Happen Next Decade”.

…The secret, Mathew believes, is to separate the brain and the spinal column in one piece that will be introduced into a new body. This cuts out, so to speak, what Mathew considers the most daunting obstacle. If you never have to sever the spinal cord at all, you don’t have to solve any of the thorny problems created by all of the different proposed solutions before now.

There’s an inherent downside to Mathew’s idea, even if it were to become feasible in the next 10 years. If a surgery can only successfully be performed on people with intact spinal columns, that rules out one of the major suggested goals of such a transplant, which is to restore mobility to people with disabling spinal injuries who are trying to reverse them….

 (21) FOUND ON TUMBLR. Anne Francis on the set of Forbidden Planet.

Also, other publicity stills from the film here.

(22) GETTING INSIDE OF HEAD OF C-3PO. In the Washington Post, Thomas Floyd has an interview with Anthony Daniels about his autobiography I Am C-3PO.  Daniels talks about how he didn’t use a ghostwriter and how much of Return of the Jedi was directed by George Lucas “by proxy” because Richard Marquand couldn’t control the set. “C-3PO actor Anthony Daniels talks ‘The Rise of Skywalker,’ his new memoir and four decades of Star Wars”.

Q: The book also confirms long-standing speculation that “Return of the Jedi” director Richard Marquand struggled to command the set, leading Lucas to direct much of the film “by proxy.” Why did you want to share your perspective on that situation?

A: Because there has been so much speculation over the years. I am giving my point of view, and hopefully not in an over-elaborated way. Marquand was an unfortunate experience because, really, he should have had the courage to leave the set. It was an uncomfortable situation. He was a man who was clearly out of his depth with responsibility for other people. I didn’t put this in the book, but I remember hearing Harrison Ford was reportedly amazed, and in fact rather angry, to hear that Marquand claimed to have helped him with his performance of Han Solo, and that’s just ridiculous.

(23) OTHER BRAINS FROM A LONG, LONG TIME AGO. SYFY Wire springs a paleontological surprise. “500,000-year-old fossilized brain has totally changed our minds”.

… This is kind of a big deal when humans have known about the brain’s tendency to break down after death for so long that even the ancient Egyptians knew it had to go during the mummification process. There was no point in trying to preserve it like some other organs (never mind that the heart was believed to be the epicenter of thinking back then). It seems that an organ that can’t be mummified would never stay intact long enough to fossilize, but what appeared to be a stain on the Alalcomenaeus fossil that was recently dug up was found to be its brain.

…An Alalcomenaeus brain doesn’t exactly look like a human brain. It really has no resemblance to a human brain at all, but is more of a central nervous system that mirrors those of many extant arthropods, with an elongated brain structure that runs from its head to its upper back. Neural tissue connects to the creature’s four eyes and four pairs of segmented nerves. More nerves from the brain extend all the way down its back.

(24) MUSIC OF THE SPHERES. Since the Scroll took yesterday off there wasn’t a chance to share this clever bit, the “Star Wars Epic Christmas Medley | Carol of The Bells & Imperial March.”

[Thanks to Olav Rokne, JJ, Cat Eldridge, Martin Morse Wooster, Eric Wong, Chip Hitchcock, Andrew Porter, Contrarius, John King Tarpinian, StephenfromOttawa, Bill, Steve Davidson, and Mike Kennedy for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Anna Nimmhaus.]

Pixel Scroll 12/14/19 Gort Pixel Barada Nikscroll

(1) ONE QUESTION. The Hollywood Reporter is there when “‘Rise of Skywalker’ Cast Answers Questions About Final Film, Baby Yoda on ‘The Late Show'”.

 “Hey Daisy, how did you figure out how to do alien accent?” another staffer asked.

“You mean this British accent?” Daisy Ridley, who plays Rey, responded.

After a staffer asked what he would do with the Force, Billy Dee Williams (who plays Lando Calrissian) mimicked a choking action like the one used by Darth Vader in the Skywalker saga. The staffer then pretended to be choked.

(2) ANOTHER SECRET THEY KEPT. Entertainment Weekly checks in with Lawrence Kasdan in “‘I am your father’: The Empire Strikes Back writer looks back on iconic twist”.

Filming the scene was made even more challenging by the use of loud wind machines. Hamill not only couldn’t hear Vader body actor David Prowse say his lines, but couldn’t even hear himself and had to go off visual cues of Prowse moving in his suit. In fact, Hamill says that one of the biggest Star Wars original trilogy secrets is that more than half the dialogue was recorded in post-production due to all the intrusive noises from smoke and wind machines, prop effects, and even clunking robots. “C-3PO doesn’t sound like metal, he sounds like fiberglass,” Hamill notes.

After filming the scene, the fake twist — that Obi-Wan killed Luke’s father — leaked to a British tabloid. “These newspapers were offering 20,000 notes for anybody that got a good Star Wars leak,” Hamill says. “We couldn’t even keep that [the fake twist] a secret for a week. I was secretly delighted.”

(3) CUBISM. Learn “How ‘Missing Link’ Filmmakers Blew Up an Ice Bridge in Stop-Motion Animation” in The Hollywood Reporter.

…The sequence starts with an encounter on the bridge that was shot mostly in camera with puppets and full-scale components of the bridge built on a soundstage (one of roughly 110 miniature sets, including a full miniature bridge, that were constructed for the movie). The bridge was built of clear casting urethane resin in order to achieve the look of the ice without its turning yellow, explains production designer Nelson Lowry.

As the pursuit heats up, the bridge collapses. There were 64 individually rigged ice blocks that could be independently controlled for the shot in which the bridge begins to break. The actual destruction of the bridge was digitally created in the computer, and the puppets were composited into the action. Before it’s over, some are dangling from a rope, trying to gain safe footing. Butler says this was one of the toughest scenes Laika has ever tackled, and the artistry and heart-racing story have garnered Laika a slew of nominations, including multiple Annie Awards and a Golden Globe.

(4) WATTS ASSEMBLAGE. Tachyon Publications offers “The complete PETER WATTS IS AN ANGRY SENTIENT TUMOR previews”, from a collection of the author’s blog posts. The previews include:

(5) DECADE’S TOP SFF PICTURES. The Daily Dot picked only one Marvel production for its list of “The 10 most important sci-fi films of the 2010s”, leaving plenty of room for less obvious selections like this one –

6) High Life (2018)

Want to feel disturbed and alarmed? Well, High Life is the film for you. Acclaimed French indie director Claire Denis ventured into sci-fi territory for her English language debut, casting Robert Pattinson as the lead in a gut-churning thriller about a group of convicts in a claustrophobic spaceship. Pattinson plays the convict Monte, co-starring with Juliette Binoche as the ship’s creepy and sexually aggressive doctor, along with an ensemble cast including Andre 3000, Mia Goth, and a baby. Although if you sign up for this film based on the posters showing Robert Pattinson hanging out with an adorable toddler, you’ll be in for a nasty surprise. This gripping drama features sporadic but intense violence, explicit sex, and a dread-inducing descent into certain death. Both a commentary on incarceration and a straightforward space thriller, High Life riffs on the tropes of other trapped-in-a-spaceship movies like Alien and Event Horizon, while still feeling thoroughly memorable in its own right.

(6) #ET TOO. At CrimeReads, Damien Angelica Walters explored “How Women Authors Are Reshaping the Horror Genre” — “The boogeyman in the closet isn’t an amorphous shape in the dark—It’s someone we know and trust.”

The Monsters We Pass on the Street

I mentioned earlier that more than half the women killed in 2017 were murdered by their intimate partners or family members. Not a day goes by where I don’t see an article about a woman being abused, assaulted, or killed. It’s terrifying and what’s even more frightening is how commonplace it is. Violence against women by men is the backdrop to countless books, television shows, both fictional and not, and movies.

In My Sister, The Serial Killer, Oyinkan Braithwaite turns this on its head, creating feminist catharsis with her unexpected reversal. Korede’s younger sister, Ayoola, is beautiful and charming. She also has a penchant for killing her boyfriends, relying on Korede to help her clean up the mess. Korede doesn’t have to fear Ayoola, but she protects her. Until the doctor Korede works with and is secretly in love with meets and falls for Ayoola, forcing Korede to make a choice: do you stand by the monsters when they’re one of your own?

(7) TODAY IN HISTORY.

Shoot, this was a big day for sff in 1984!

  • December 14, 1984 1984 premiered in limited released in the art house circuit. It would get a general circulation release the next year. Starring John Hurt, Richard Burton, Suzanna Hamilton  and Cyril Cusack, critics loved it with Ebert calling saying Hurt was “the perfect Winston Smith”.  It currently has a 71% rating among reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes. 
  • December 14, 1984 Runaway premiered. Starring Tom Selleck, Cynthia Rhodes and Gene Simmons, it faired quite poorly as it was up against The Terminator, The Search for Spock, and 2010: The Year We Make Contact. It got not so great reviews from critics and garnered a 44% rating from reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes. 
  • December 14, 1984 Dune premiered. Directed by David Lynch of later Twin Peaks fame, starring Francesca Annis, Linda Hunt, Sting, Kyle MacLachlan and a cast of thousands, it did poorly at the box office and was treated badly by critics. Reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes however give a 66% rating. It would place in fourth in AussieCon Two voting with 2010: Odyssey Two winning that year.
  • December 14, 1984 — John Carpenter’s Starman premiered. Starring Jeff Bridges and Karen Allen, it did very well at the box office and critics loved it as well.  Bridges earned was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actor, making this the only film by Carpenter to receive an Academy Award nomination.

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge *yay*]

  • Born December 14, 1916 Shirley Jackson. First gained public attention for her short story “The Lottery, or, The Adventures of James Harris” but it was her The Haunting of Hill House novel which has been made her legendary as a horror novelist as it’s truly a chilling ghost story.  I see that’s she wrote quite a bit of genre short fiction — has anyone here read it? (Died 1965.)
  • Born December 14, 1920 Rosemary Sutcliff. English novelist whose best known for children’s books, particularly her historical fiction which involved retellings of myths and legends, Arthurian and otherwise. Digging into my memory, I remember reading The Chronicles of Robin Hood which was her first published novel and rather good; The Eagle of the Ninth is set in Roman Britain and was an equally fine read. (Died 1992.)
  • Born December 14, 1929 Christopher Plummer, 90. Let’s see… Does Rudyard Kipling in The Man Who Would Be King count? If not, The Return of the Pink Panther does. That was followed by Starcrash, a space opera I suspect hardly no one saw which was also the case with Somewhere in Time.  Now Dreamscape was fun and well received.   Skipping now to General Chang in Star Trek: The Undiscovered Country. Opinions everyone? I know I’ve mixed feelings on Chang.  I see he’s in Twelve Monkeys which I’m not a fan of and I’ve not seen The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus yet. 
  • Born December 14, 1960 Don Franklin, 59. He’s best known for his roles in seaQuest DSV as Commander Jonathan Ford, Seven Days as Captain Craig Donovan, and as one of The Young Riders  as Noah Dixon. No, the last isn’t remotely genre but it was a great role.
  • Born December 14, 1964 Rebecca Gibney, 55. She was in Stephen King’s Salem’s Lot, and was also in King’s Nightmares and Dreamscapes mini-series. She also had one-offs in Time Trax, Farscape and The Lost World, all of which were produced either in Australia or New Zealand, convenient as she’s New Zealand born and resident.
  • Born December 14, 1965 Theodore Raimi, 54. Though he’s known for being in whatever his brother Sam Raimi has done including a fake Shemp in The Evil Dead, a possessed Henrietta in Evil Dead II, and Ted Hoffman in the Spider-Man film franchise, I remember rather him from him being Joxer on Hercules and Xena, a role I wasn’t that fond of. 
  • Born December 14, 1966 Sarah Zettel, 53. Her first novel, Reclamation, was nominated for the Philip K. Dick Award in 1996, and in 1997 tied for the Locus Award for the Best First Novel. Writing under the alias of C. L. Anderson, her novel Bitter Angels won the 2010 Philip K. Dick award for best paperback original novel. If you’ve not read her, I’d recommend her YA American Fairy Trilogy as a good place to start. 

(9) COMICS SECTION.

  • Tom Gauld goes Christmas shopping with a bookworm at The Guardian.

(10) SEQUELS. Mental Floss challenges “Can You Match the Classic Book to Its Not-So-Classic Sequel?”. I hit only 8 out of 14 of these. You’ll do much better.

(11) WALL TO WALL BOOKS. Brick bookshelves, but not the kind you may have had in your first apartment.“LEGO unveils its latest Creator Expert set, a 2,500-piece modular bookshop” – get the lowdown from 9to5toys.

While in the most recent few years LEGO has strayed from the theme’s roots with unique garage and diner builds, this year the company is going back to the basics for a delightful multistory bookstore. Comprised of 2,504 bricks, this model was inspired by houses in Amsterdam, bringing the European aesthetic into brick-built form in a distinct way.

Doubling down on the modular nature, this set features to independent buildings that can be rearranged throughout your city. Fittingly for this LEGO kit’s namesake, the bookstore is the larger of the two Creator Expert models. It sports a brick-like brown facade complemented by stonework accenting.

(12) GROOVE TUBE. “The London Underground’s logo gets an inspired redesign”FastCompany has photos.

London’s underground transit system, known as “The London Underground” or “The Tube,” started running in 1863. Its iconic symbol, a patriotically colored bar-and-circle roundel, was first plastered on the city’s subterranean walls in 1908 and has gone through several iterations since. Until now, each new draft of the logo has been a variation on the same theme—all solidly red and blue, with only slight changes to the proportions and weight of the letters. Recently, however, British-Ghanaian artist Larry Achiampong has reimagined the traditional transit symbol to reflect the rich and diverse African diaspora that makes up roughly 44% of London’s population.

This large-scale logo redesign is a public commission from Art on the Underground, a visual arts showcase funded by Transport for London, which “seeks to consider the possibilities of alternate histories,” according to a statement. “Pan African Flag for the Relic Travellers’ Alliance” exists as a part of the showcase’s 2019 program “On Edge,” which encourages artists to create works that explore themes of unity, utopia, and belonging, inspired by the United Kingdom’s likely departure from the European Union…

(13) TRUE GRIT. Where else would you look for science fiction news than Men’sHealth? — “Oscar Isaac Says Denis Villeneuve’s Dune Movie Will Be ‘Shocking’ and ‘Nightmarish'”.

…Dune takes place on a desert planet called Arrakis, one of many feudal worlds ruled over by galactic stewards, and the only natural source of a highly valuable substance known as “spice.” Timothée Chalamet (Call Me By Your Name) will also star as Isaac’s on-screen son Paul Atreides, while Rebecca Ferguson (Mission: Impossible – Fallout) will play his concubine Lady Jessica. The wider ensemble cast will include Dave Bautista (Guardians of the Galaxy), Josh Brolin (Endgame), Zendaya (Euphoria) and Jason Momoa (Aquaman).

“There are some things that are — for lack of a better word — nightmarish about what you see,” Isaac continued. “There’s just this kind of brutalist element to it. It’s shocking. It’s scary. It’s very visceral… And I know that definitely between Denis and myself and Chalamet and Rebecca Ferguson as the family unit, we really searched for the emotion of it. I’m beyond myself with excitement. I think it’s good to feel cool, unique, and special.”

(14) HO HO HO. “Longleat Safari Park chipmunks sent hundreds of socks” – BBC explains why.

A wildlife park has been inundated after putting out an appeal for “chipmunk worthy socks” to help keep the rodents warm over Christmas.

The family of chipmunks at Longleat Safari Park, in Wiltshire, use the socks to nest in during the winter.

Following an appeal on Facebook, the park has received hundreds of pairs from as far afield as New Zealand.

Longleat’s Alexa Maultby said: “There’s now a sock mountain and we’re looking for other uses for them.”

(15) TOHO DID IT BETTER. — But they used effects: “Octopus and eagle square off at Canadian fish farm” (BBC video).

The duelling animals were found floating in the waters off Quatsino, British Columbia. Crews freed the bird from the clutches of the sea creature.

(16) FEAR ITSELF. FastCompany shares a flashback to the computer Armageddon writers warned about: “The weird, wonderful world of Y2K survival guides: A look back”.

For a brief period in the late 1990s, it was one of the busiest categories in book publishing.

As the decade wound down, more and more people became agitated about the Y2K bug—also known as the millennium bug and the year 2000 problem–which stemmed from programmers having conserved precious bytes by storing years as two digits. (For instance, “80” instead of “1980.”) When 1999 turned into 2000, aging software reliant on such space-saving dates wouldn’t be able to tell the new year from 1900. And that raised the specter of much of the code that ran the world failing—possibly, the theory went, in disastrous ways. Power grids might be knocked out. Banks could fail. Food shortages and mass unemployment might lead to riots. Any semblance of normalcy could take years to return.

Enter a profusion of books dedicated to helping people plan for this techno-doomsday….

(17) CLASSIC COVERS. See “The Avon Fantasy Reader Covers – A Gallery” at Darkworlds Quarterly.

The Avon Fantasy Reader was an important Pulp reprint anthology (taking its contents from Weird Tales, Thrilling Wonder, The Blue Book, Adventure and Wonder Stories) that ran for eighteen issues from 1946 to 1952. It had a Science Fiction companion that ran for three issues before both were combined into The Avon Science Fiction and Fantasy Reader for two more final issues. Edited by Donald A. Wolheim, it featured many Sword & Sorcery tales by Robert E. Howard and others. It also ran Cthulhu Mythos Horror and Space Opera style Science Fiction. For Complete Contents.

The covers for the series were also important, as they were some of the best Fantasy art to appear besides the original Pulps….

(18) BEHIND THE GOLD MASK. Bill Bradley, in “Anthony Daniels On That NSFW ‘Star Wars’ Image And Why He Wanted C-3PO To Die” on Huffington Post, has an interview with Daniels, who gives his thoughts on Baby Yoda, the naughty C-3PO trading card, and how he’s satisfied but of course can’t explain what happens to his character in Star Wars:  The Rise of Skywalker.

Since you were around when Yoda was originally created, what are your thoughts on Baby Yoda?

Ah, Baby Yoda. It had to happen. It had to happen just before Christmas. Baby Yoda is the thing, maybe the toy of the month, the year, whatever. Yoda is such an adored character created by Frank Oz, and obviously now we are looking back at origins.

Do we need a smaller wookiee? I don’t know. I love the inventiveness with “Star Wars,” the creative inventiveness that “Star Wars” has fostered over the years, whether it’s with the technicians or with fans. And of course, some of the fans now work on the movies because their abilities are so great. Baby Yoda is cute, gorgeous, but I would warn the public that Baby Yoda is not just for Christmas. It’s a responsibility.

(19) VIDEO OF THE DAY. “Santa Claus” is an episode of Good Bad Flicks where they revist the 1959 classic Mexican film where Santa lives in a castle in outer space, has Merlin as his sidekick, and beats Satan by shooting him in the butt with a dart from a blow gun.

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

Pixel Scroll 12/1/19 That Is How Pixels Scroll When They Are Excited

(1) BRING ME THE HEAD OF C-3PO. Art Daily announces “Return of the auction: Sotheby’s announces second sale dedicated to Star Wars”. A ‘Return of the Jedi’, Promotional C-3PO helmet (1983) might bring £15,000-25,000.

Following a sell-out auction in 2015 from the collection of NIGO®, Sotheby’s will now host its second sale dedicated to ‘Star Wars’ collectibles, titled ‘Star Wars Online’. Encompassing around 100 lots from the acclaimed franchise, the online-only sale, open from 29 November to 13 December, offers the opportunity to acquire a piece of pop culture history just days ahead of the highly-anticipated release of the final film in the sequel trilogy, ‘Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker’.

(2) CLARION CALLS. Applications for the 2020 Clarion Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers’ Workshop are open now through March 1, 2020. The workshop will be held June 21, 2020 – August 1, 2020 on the UC San Diego campus.

(3) ANOTHER SATISFIED MURDERBOT CUSTOMER.  Ann Leckie reports on “Books I’ve Read Recently”.

First off, just to make you all jealous, I’ve read Martha Wells’ Network Effect–you know, the Murderbot novel that’s not out till next May? Yeah, that one.

“When Murderbot’s human associates (not friends, never friends) are captured and another not-friend from its past requires urgent assistance, Murderbot must choose between inertia and drastic action.

“Drastic action it is, then.”

Yeah, it’s just as awesome as you’re hoping it is….

(4) STAR TREK CATS. Today, the Spock Cat. “Live long and prospurrr…”

  • Based on the artwork by Jenny Parks
  • Officially-licensed Star Trek collectible
  • Part of the Star Trek Cats Collection
  • Limited Edition
  • Doesn’t React to Any of Your Jokes
  • Transporter-Inspired Base with Star Trek Logo

(5) A BETTER MOUSE, ER, READER TRAP. Renay turned criticisms of a Barnes & Noble aisle-end book display into a great thought experiment and post for Lady Business“Let’s Get Literate! Building Better Book Endcaps”.

Book presentation is itself a complicated art, using data and knowledge of trends. It’s why I love browsing indie bookstores, when I get to go somewhere with one (ha ha rural life is so dire). You can look at their endcaps and displays and see patterns, and if you’re well read in a genre, you can also see those indie folks making jokes, critiquing, showing books in conversations with each other. This is the part that Unregulated Capitalism can never replicate. What I saw happening in this photo made my soul leak from my body to pool on the floor of B&N, defeated.

Then I thought: I could give this a shot and drag some friends along for the ride. I claim no expertise in building endcaps like the pros in indie bookstore culture. I just wanted to cheer myself up and create a dream endcap that would make me happy to see. So everyone gets a book tag!

(6) LE GUIN ON SALE. Grasshopper Films is selling “Worlds of Ursula K. Le Guin” for $14.97, down from $29.95. Sale ends Monday night, NY time.

(7) TODAY IN HISTORY.

  • December 1, 2012 Dragon Wasps premiered.  Starring Dominika Juillet, Nikolette Noel and Corin Nemec, this Little Dragon Productions currently rates 12% at Rotten Tomatoes and doesn’t appeared to have any published reviews. You can see the trailer here.
  • December 1, 2017 Alien Invasion: S.U.M.1 premiered. Directed and written by Christian Pasquariello,  it starred  Iwan Rheon as S.U.M.1, André Hennicke as MAC and Rainer Werner as V.A.X.7. Filmed in Germany, the English language version rates 18% as its audience score at Rotten Tomatoes.  You can see the trailer here.

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born December 1, 1886 Rex Stout. He did several genre or at least genre adjacent novels, to wit How Like A GodThe President Vanishes and his lost world tale, Under the Incas. Though I’ve read lots of Stout, I’ve not read these. ISFDB also lists Rue Morgue No. 1 as genre but this appears to be mysteries or possibly straightforward pulp tales that he co-edited with Louis Greenfield. (Died 1975.)
  • Born December 1, 1905 Charles G. Finney. It’s rare that I pick writers that have done one work one that has defined them but his one such work is, well, phenomenal in this regard. His first novel and most famous work, The Circus of Dr. Lao, won one of the inaugural National Book Award for the Most Original Book of 1935, is most decidedly fantasy. Bradbury would so like the novel that he included it in The Circus of Dr. Lao and Other Improbable Stories which is rather obviously named after it. It is said the Circus in his Something Wicked This Way Comes is modelled upon The Circus of Dr. Lao. (Died 1984.)
  • Born December 1, 1928 Malachi Throne. You’ve likely seen him if you watched genre television on the Sixties and Seventies as he had roles on Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, Star Trek, Next Gen, Land of the Giants, The Time Tunnel, Mission: Impossible, Lost in Space, Outer LimitsThe Man from U.N.C.L.E.Batman,  and The Six Million Dollar Man. He provided the voice of the Keeper in Trek’s first pilot episode “The Cage”. Throne was cast in another role in “The Menagerie”, Commodore José I. Méndez, so his voice was altered in his “Cage” role. (Died 2013.)
  • Born December 1, 1936 Melissa Jaffer, 83. Likely you best remember her as Utu Noranti Pralatong on Farscape though she was also in Mad Max: Fury Road where she played Keeper of the Seeds. And she was Annie in the Good Vibrations series.
  • Born December 1, 1942 John Crowley, 77. I’m tempted to say he’s a frelling literary genius and stop there but I won’t. Little, Big is brilliant but if anything his new crow-centric novel of Ka: Dar Oakley in the Ruin of Ymr which received the Mythopoeic Fantasy Award makes that novel look like child’s play in comparison. Did you know he wrote novella called The Girlhood of Shakespeare’s Heroines? Or Lord Byron’s Novel: The Evening Land, which contains an entire imaginary novel by the poet?
  • Born December 1, 1954 Douglas Niles, 65. He was one of the creators of the Dragonlance world and the author of the first three Forgotten Realms novels. I’ve not played it as I was into Travellers’ Aid Society when I was gaming. So how was it as a game system? 
  • Born December 1, 1964 Jo Walton, 55. She’s won the Astounding Award for Best New Writer and the World Fantasy award for her novel Tooth and Claw in which dragons got positively and delightfully Victorian. Even if they eat each other.   Her Small Change trilogy may be the finest WW II novels I’ve read bar none, and her Sulien series is an excellent retelling of the Arthurian myth.  Among Others she says is about the “coming-of-age experience of having books instead of people for friends and solace”. I can relate to that as I imagine many here can too. 
  • Born December 1, 1956 Bill Willingham, 63. Best known I’d say for his long running Fable series though personally I think his best work was Proposition Player. He got his start in the late 1970s to early 1980s as a staff artist for TSR games where he was the cover artist for the AD&D Player Character Record Sheets and a lot of games I don’t recognize not having been a gamer at that time. I do recognize his superb 1980s comic book series Elementals,  and he later wrote the equally excellent Shadowpact for DC.
  • Born December 1, 1971 Emily Mortimer, 48. She was the voice of Sophie in the English language version of Howl’s Moving Castle, and Jane Banks in Mary Poppins Returns. She was the voice of Lisette in the superb Hugo animated film, and was Nicole Durant in The Pink Panther

(9) COMICS SECTION.

  • Dilbert does a nice take on the Robot Apocalypse.
  • Non Sequitur presents the writer’s version of the infamous tombstone.
  • Tom Gauld charts this year’s reading experiences.

(10) PROBES ON THE WAY. Mars is on the menu in 1964 as Galactic Journey’s Gideon Marcus serves up the news: “[December 1, 1964] Planet Four or Bust! (What we know about Mars)”.

…This week, humanity embarked on its most ambitious voyage to date.  Its destination: Mars.

I use the term “humanity” advisedly, for this effort is a global one.  On November 28, 1964, the United States launched Mariner 4 from Cape Kennedy.  And just yesterday, the Soviet Union’s Zond hurtled into space.  Both are bound for the Red Planet, due to arrive next summer. 

He gives a great overview of the Mars portrayed in sf and popular science – all of which is about to go by the boards.

….Such was our understanding of the planet perhaps a decade ago.  Recently, ground-based science has made some amazing discoveries, and it may well be that Mariner and Zond don’t so much revolutionize as simply enhance our understanding of the planet.

I just read a paper that says the Martian atmosphere is about a quarter as dense at the surface that thought.  This isn’t just bad for breathing — it means NASA scientists have to rethink all the gliders and parachutes they were planning for their Voyager missions scheduled for the next decade.  Observations by spectroscope have found no traces of oxygen and scarcely more water vapor.  The planet’s thin atmosphere is mostly made up of nitrogen and carbon dioxide.  The ice in the polar caps may well be mostly “dry”.

(11) DEADLY CUTENESS. “Baby Yoda Duels Palpatine in Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith Fan-Edit”ScreenRant sets the scene:

Baby Yoda fights Emperor Palpatine in a brilliant new Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith fan edit. After months of anticipation, The Mandalorian finally hit Disney+ earlier this month, and fans everywhere immediately fell in love with the show’s breakout character, a tiny alien child unofficially christened “Baby Yoda” who made a surprise first appearance in the kickoff episode (a “twist” that was immediately spoiled by Twitter).

(12) THE MAGIC IS BACK. “In ‘Children Of Virtue And Vengeance,’ Magic Has Returned. Now What?” – NPR interviews Tomi Adeyemi.

Children of Blood and Bone was an instant success last year.

The young adult fantasy novel by then-24-year-old author Tomi Adeyemi has so far spent 89 weeks on The New York Times bestseller list. It made countless best books lists, and it was optioned for a movie by Disney. It spoke to people.

“I always pitched it as Black Panther with magic,” Adeyemi says. “It’s this epic young adult fantasy about a girl fighting to bring magic back to her people.”

And now there’s a sequel: Children of Virtue and Vengeance. The heroine, Zélie, has succeeded in her quest to bring magic back to her people, the maji, and the land of Orïsha. But the nobility and the military now have powerful magic, too. And civil war looms.

For Zélie and her ally Amari — a runaway princess who has joined the rebellion, so to speak — the question becomes: Now what? And how will their personal traumas play out?

(13) ANTICIPATORY MUG SHOTS. BBC reports “China due to introduce face scans for mobile users”

People in China are now required to have their faces scanned when registering new mobile phone services, as the authorities seek to verify the identities of the country’s hundreds of millions of internet users.

The regulation, announced in September, was due to come into effect on Sunday.

The government says it wants to “protect the legitimate rights and interest of citizens in cyberspace”.

China already uses facial recognition technology to survey its population.

It is a world leader in such technologies, but their intensifying use across the country in recent years has sparked debate.

What are the new rules?

When signing up for new mobile or mobile data contracts, people are already required to show their national identification card (as required in many countries) and have their photos taken.

But now, they will also have their faces scanned in order to verify that they are a genuine match for the ID provided.

China has for years been trying to enforce rules to ensure that everyone using the internet does so under their “real-name” identities.

(14) DARWIN WINNER? “Booby traps: Man in Maine killed by own device”.

A 65-year-old American man who rigged his home with a booby trap to keep out intruders has been killed by the device.

Ronald Cyr called police in the town of Van Buren in the state of Maine to say he had been shot.

Police found a door had been designed to fire a handgun should anyone attempt to enter. Mr Cyr was taken to hospital but died of his injuries.

It is not uncommon for home-owners to install such traps – but it is illegal.

Police in Van Buren, which borders the Canadian province of New Brunswick, said they responded to a 911 call in the early evening of Thanksgiving, last Thursday, from a man who said he had been shot.

“Following an extensive investigation that lasted into the early morning… it was determined that Mr Cyr had been shot as the result of the unintentional discharge of one of his homemade devices,” the police department said in a Facebook post.

(15) E.T. BUY PHONE. CNN backgrounds a nostalgic commercial: “Phone home! E.T. reunites with Elliott and viewers in a Thanksgiving TV ad”.

If you suddenly burst into tears during a Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade commercial break, your younger family members might’ve been startled. But they probably never dreamed of taking flight on a bike with an alien in the basket.

E.T. — yes, THAT E.T.! — made a surprise appearance in commercial for telecommunications company Xfinity. Only this time, he landed on Earth on purpose, and he’s learning about tablets and playing in the snow.

[Thanks to Rich Horton, Chip Hitchcock, Cat Eldridge, JJ, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, John King Tarpinian, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Brian Z.]

Pixel Scroll 4/12/19 Been A Scroll Title. Twice.

(1) STAR WARS TRAILER UNVEILED AT CHICAGO CON. The Hollywood Reporter was at the Star Wars Celebration when the Episode IX trailer was screened.

After a year’s worth of speculation, emcee Colbert, Lucasfilm head Kathleen Kennedy and filmmaker J.J. Abrams unveiled the first teaser trailer for Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker to a packed (and raucous) crowd at Star Wars Celebration in Chicago on Friday.

Among the big reveals is that Emperor Palpatine, the villain played by Ian McDiarmid in the previous two trilogies and thought to be dead, is back — as his laugh is heard at the end of the teaser. McDiarmid also walked out onstage after the trailer and ordered it to be replayed.

Earlier in the panel, Abrams made what might have been a reference to Palpatine, though he didn’t name him.

“This movie, in addition to being the end of three trilogies, it also has to work as its own movie,” said Abrams. “It’s about this new generation and what they’ve inherited, the light and the dark, and asking the question as they face the greatest evil, are they prepared? Are they ready?”

(2) 949. Maybe C-3PO deserves a new number, and not just the strange typo Fansided gives him while declaring “Anthony Daniels is the G.O.A.T. of the Star Wars films”

Daniels is one of the few characters who has appeared in all nine of the Star Wars films, which is a remarkable feat that should be celebrated among the Star Wars universe.

In fact, it was fitting that Daniels would be the first cast member introduced at the Star Wars Celebration in Chicago along with R2-D2, the other character to grace every single film. When you think of 3-CPO, you often think of Daniels, and without his unique take on this iconic character, 3-CPO wouldn’t be the beloved character he is today.

(3) PRIEST HONORED. GenCon 2019 has announced Cherie Priest as its Author Guest of Honor.

Gen Con, the largest and longest-running tabletop gaming convention in North America, has named Locus Award-winning and Hugo Award-nominated author Cherie Priest as the event’s 2019 Author Guest of Honor. Ms. Priest will take part in several events as part of the convention’s Writer’s Symposium program, including book signings and appearances.

(4) LOOKS LIKE HECK. NPR’s Chris Klimek’s reaction to Hellboy: “Hell, no!”

Hellboy, despite its colon-free title, is actually the fifth movie starring the good-guy demon hero (if you count the two animated films that featured the same cast as the live-action films made by monsteur auteur Guillermo del Toro in 2004 and 2008) and it’s even more exhausting than this sentence.

Pity. The blue-collar, crimson-skinned agent of the Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense — basically a more inclusive version of the Men in Black, with a more casual dress code — is a marvelous character on the page. And because filmmaker del Toro has at least as much affection for 1930s serials and monster movies and European folklore as cartoonist Mike Mignola (Hellboy’s creator) does, his two adaptations of Mignola’s comics were revered. But like most del Toro films they were only moderate box office successes, and the profligate profitability of Marvel movies in the subsequent decade (Hellboy is a creator-owned specimen of IP, outside the Disney megalith) demanded that someone try to tap that rich vein again.

Englishman Neil Marshall would appear to be a sterling candidate: He made a trio of well-regarded low-budget genre flicks and directed two episodes of Game of Thrones, including “Blackwater,” which featured the climactic battle of the series’ second season. The chaotic, repetitive movie he’s given us here calls into question not just his competence but his taste….

(5) NIGHTFIRE BLAZES TO LIFE. “Tom Doherty Associates Announces Nightfire, a New Horror Imprint”Tor.com has the story.

Tom Doherty Associates (TDA) President and Publisher Fritz Foy announced today the creation of NIGHTFIRE, a new horror imprint that will join Tor, Forge, Tor Teen & Starscape, and Tor.com Publishing as part of Tom Doherty Associates.

Foy will be Publisher, and TDA will add dedicated staff in editorial, as well as supplemental staff in marketing and publicity. Under the Nightfire imprint, editors will acquire and publish across the breadth of the genre­—from short story collections to novellas and novels, from standalone works to series, from dark fantasy to the supernatural, from originals to reprints of lost modern classics. In addition to publishing books across all formats (print, audio, and ebook), Nightfire’s releases will also include podcasts, graphic novels, and other media.

(6) FINISHING SCHOOL. Jeff Somers brilliantly envisions “How 15 of Your Favorite Authors Might Finish George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice & Fire” at the B&N Sci-Fi & Fantasy Blog.

Brandon Sanderson
After reviewing George R.R. Martin’s notes, Sanderson announces it will take not two but six more books to finish the story properly. After delivering four 1,000-page tomes, Sanderson himself passes away (buried under a pile of 3,500 manuscript pages for the ninth book in the Stormlight Archive) with the story still incomplete. It is the year 2049. The final two books are completed by Christopher Paolini, working from Sanderson’s notes on Martin’s outlines, and are beamed directly into people’s brains via the NookVR brain uplink.

(7) QUIDDITCH REVISIONISM. Emily Giambalvo in the Washington Post profiles the University of Maryland Quidditch team, currently ranked No. 1 and headed to the national Quidditch Cup in Round Rock, Texas this weekend.  But only a quarter of the quidditch players have read Harry Potter and capes and bristles on the “brooms” are now banned (platers compete with PVC pipes between their legs). “Crab cakes and quidditch: That’s what Maryland does”.

The Maryland quidditch team has a 27-3 record and is ranked No. 1 in the country, but it still exists in relative obscurity. Fellow students walk by the practice without adjusting their pace, but they keep their heads turned toward the training. Sometimes onlookers pull out their phones, capturing what seems like a strange combination between playful chaos and a serious sport.

(8) A LITTLE REVIEW. NPR’s Linda Holmes finds Little: A Wrong-Body Comedy That Can’t Get Comfortable”

Marsai Martin is a star.

If you’ve seen her as Diane, the younger daughter on ABC’s Black-ish, you might already know. Diane is wise, wily, funny and a step ahead of her twin brother, Jack. And while scripts work wonders, you cannot create a character like Diane around an actress who wasn’t yet ten years old when she was cast in the role unless the actress in question has the chops for it. Martin’s first starring role in a film comes in Little, where she holds the screen opposite comedy powerhouses Issa Rae and Regina Hall. What’s more, everyone involved in promoting the movie says it was her idea — which she pitched when she was ten. Now, at 14, she’s an executive producer on the film.

…Unfortunately, the film needs more comedy and more consistency in the comedy it has. When it’s funny, it’s really funny, but it’s not funny frequently enough….

(9) TIME TREKKERS. YouTuber Steve Shives tries to determine “Who Is Actually Star Trek’s Most Reckless Time Traveler?”

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born April 12, 1884 Bob Olsen. He wrote stories for Amazing Stories, from 1927 to 1936, many of them said to be of humorous inclination. He was one of the first writers to use the phrase ‘space marine’ in a two-story Captain Brink sequence consisting of “Captain Brink of the Space Marines” (November 1932 Amazing) and “The Space Marines and the Slavers” (December 1936 Amazing). I’m fairly sure thathe wrote no novels and less than twenty-four short stories. I do know that severe arthritis curtailed his writing career in 1940. (Died 1956.)
  • Born April 12, 1915 Emil Petaja. An author whose career spanned seven decades who really should be remembered as much for his social circles that included early on as H. P. Lovecraft, Clark Ashton Smith, Robert E. Howard, and August Derleth which later expanded to include Anthony Boucher, Frank M. Robinson, Poul Anderson, Ray Bradbury, Philip K. Dick and Robert A. Heinlein.  It should not be overlooked that he did write seven novels and around forty short stories during his career with the stories appearing in Weird TalesFantasy and Science FictionFantastic Adventures, Worlds of Tomorrow,  Future Science Fiction Stories and other venues as well. (Died 2000.)
  • Born April 12, 1936 Charles Napier. Well let’s meet Adam on the Trek episode of “The Way to Eden”. Oh, that’s a horrible outfit he’s wearing. Let’s see if he had better genre roles… well he was on Mission: Impossible twice in truly anonymous roles, likewise he played two minor characters on The Incredible Hulk and he did get a character with a meaningful name (General Denning) on Deep Space 9. I surprised to learn that he was General Hardcastle in Superman and Justice League Unlimited series, and also voiced Agent Zed for the entire run of the Men in Black animated series. (Died 2011.)
  • Born April 12, 1958 Elizabeth Klein-Lebbink, 61. A LA-resident con-running fan. She has worked on a variety of conventions, both regionals and Worldcons, frequently in the art shows. She is has been a member of the Dorsai Irregulars. She is married to fellow fan Jerome Scott. Works for NASA where she writes such papers as ‘Measurements of Integration Gain for the Cospas-Sarsat System from Geosynchronous Satellites’.
  • Born April 12, 1971 Shannen Doherty, 48. Prue Halliwell on Charmed. (Watched the first, I think, four seasons. Lost interest at that point.) Her first genre role was voicing a mouse, Teresa Brisby to be exact on The Secret of NIMH. She was Cate Parker in Blood Lake: Attack of the Killer Lampreys — a film that can’t possibly be as bad as its name, can it? Though I’m willing to bet that Borgore & Sikdope: Unicorn Zombie Apocalypse, an Internet short film, in which she is a News Anchor is every bit as bad as its title! 
  • Born April 12, 1979 Claire Danes, 40. Best known genre role is Kate Brewster in Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines.  Also was Yvaine in Stardust, a film that’s not even close to its source material. 
  • Born April 12, 1979 Jennifer Morrison, 40. Emma Swan in the Once Upon a Time series, and Winona Kirk, mother of James T. Kirk in Star Trek and Star Trek Into Darkness. She also paid her horror dues in Urban Legends: Final Cut as Amy Mayfield, the student videographer whose film goes terribly wrong. I’m intrigued to see that she’s the voice actor for the role of Selina Kyle / Catwoman in the forthcoming Batman: Hush, a film that needs a R rating to be told properly. 

(11) COMICS SECTION.

  • Ziggy makes an out of this world real estate deal.

(12) KEEP WATCHING THE SKIES. Popular Mechanics feels “Cave Paintings Suggest Ancient Humans Understood the Stars Much Better Than We Thought”.

Studying cave paintings from Turkey, Spain, France, and Germany, researchers have come to the conclusion that humanity’s ancient ancestors were smarter than previously given credit for. These famed paintings were not simply decorative, a new study says—they represent a complex understanding of astronomy predating Greek civilization.

And the paper their article is based on is just fascinating – the PDF is here: “Decoding European Palaeolithic art: Extremely ancient knowledge of precession of the equinoxes”.

(13) BLACK HOLE PHOTO CREDIT. The Washington Post sets the record straight in “Trolls hijacked a scientist’s image to attack Katie Bouman. They picked the wrong astrophysicist.”

…Identical memes quickly spread across Twitter, where one typical response was, “Andrew Chael did 90% of the work. Where’s his credit?”

But those claims are flat-out wrong, Chael said. He certainly didn’t write “850,000 lines of code,” a false number likely pulled from GitHub, a Web-based coding service. And while he was the primary author of one piece of software that worked on imaging the black hole, the team used multiple different approaches to avoid bias. His work was important, but Bouman’s was also vital as she helped stitch together all the teams, Chael said.

“Katie was a huge part of our collaboration at every step,” Chael said.

In truth, singling out any one scientist in a massive, cross-disciplinary group effort like the Event Horizon Telescope’s project is bound to create misapprehensions. Many who shared an equally viral image of Bouman clutching her hands in joy at the sight of the black hole came away wrongly believing she was the sole person responsible for the discovery, an idea the postdoctoral researcher at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics has tried to correct.

(14) TILT THE TABLE, LUKE. Polygon reports “Entire Star Wars Pinball collection coming to Switch, with new modes”.

All 19 tables of Zen Studios’ Star Wars Pinball are coming to Nintendo Switch, with a vertical play mode that takes advantage of the Switch screen’s dimensions when held sideways.

In addition to being sold through the Nintendo eShop, Star Wars Pinball will also get a physical edition release, a first ever for a Zen pinball suite. Star Wars Pinball will launch for Switch on Sept. 13, 2019, the studio/publisher announced today in advance of this weekend’s Star Wars Celebration.

(15) REDFEARN. StokerCon UK, to be held April 16-19, 2020 in Scarborough, has announced its Editor Guest of Honour:

Gillian Redfearn is the Hugo Award-nominated Deputy Publisher of Gollancz, the world’s oldest Science Fiction and Fantasy imprint.

Within five months of joining the Gollancz team as editorial assistant she had commissioned the bestselling First Law trilogy from Joe Abercrombie, swiftly followed by acquiring the UK rights to Patrick Rothfuss’ novels. When she became Editorial Director for the imprint in 2014 she was selected as a Bookseller Rising Star, and two years later Gollancz was shortlisted for best imprint in the Bookseller Awards.

Throughout her career Redfearn has worked across the horror, science fiction and fantasy genres, with bestselling and award winning authors including Ben Aaronovitch, Joe Abercrombie, Aliette de Bodard, Joe Hill, Charlaine Harris, Joanne Harris, Sarah Pinborough, Brandon Sanderson, Alastair Reynolds and Chris Wooding, among many others.

(16) PKD’S LAST BOOK. Electric Lit’s Kristopher Jansma, in “Philip K. Dick’s Unfinished Novel Was a Faustian Fever Dream “, says “the sci-fi author died before he could write ‘The Owl in Daylight,’ but he described trippy plot ideas about aliens, music, and Disneyland.”

On January 10, 1982, the science fiction author Philip K. Dick sat down for an interview with journalist and friend Gwen Lee to discuss The Owl in Daylight, a novel that he’d been composing in his mind since May of the previous year. He wouldn’t finish—or even really begin—the book before his death from a stroke a few weeks later, but the novel he outlined to Lee has had as strange an afterlife as Dick himself.

(17) THEY LOST ON JEOPARDY! Andrew Porter monitored tonight’s Jeopardy! outrage —

Answer: The director of the 2018 version of this 1953 classic said, Yes, books were harmed in the making of this motion picture.

Wrong Question: “What is Burn After Reading”?

(18) WHAT DO THEY KNOW. Heresy! “Coffee not essential for life, Swiss government says”.

The Swiss government wants to put an end to its emergency stockpile of coffee after declaring that it is “not essential” for human survival.

Switzerland began storing emergency reserves of coffee between World War One and World War Two in preparation for potential shortages.

It continued in subsequent decades to combat shortages sparked by war, natural disasters or epidemics.

It now hopes to end the practice by late 2022. But opposition is mounting.

It currently has 15,300 tonnes saved up – that’s enough to last the country three months.

(19) EARLY LEARNING. “Artists draw on Scotland’s Neolithic past” to teach people how to build their own timber circles. Should they be interested, that is…

Artists have drawn on Scotland’s Neolithic past to create a series of new illustrations.

The artwork, which includes a tribe and a guide to building a ceremonial timber circle, is for a free education pack called The First Foresters.

It has been created by Forestry and Land Scotland, formerly Forestry Commission Scotland, and Archaeology Scotland.

The artists were guided by European Neolithic artefacts for their drawings.

…”Alan produced the bulk of the illustrations, including a fantastic image of a decaying timber circle being enclosed by an earthen henge, and a fabulous ‘how to build a timber circle’ instruction sheet.

(20) GUNS & WHAMMO. Apropos of recent discussions here, Evan Allgood shows you what “Poorly Researched Men’s Fiction” looks like, at McSweeney’s.

I had a whole gaggle of 100-point bucks in my sights, sleeping peacefully on their feet, like cows. The way they were lined up, I could take down the whole clan in a single shot of gun, clean through their magnificent oversized brains. That’d be enough (deer) meat to last Nora and the baby through the harsh Amarillo winter. I shifted my weight in my hidey spot, snapping a twig and pouring more pepper on the fire by muttering, “God dammit all to hell.” But like any hunting man worth his salt, I was wearing camouflage — that swirly brown-and-green stuff you sometimes see on bandanas. The deers, famously self-assured creatures, didn’t budge. They were awake now, munching happily on some squirrels they’d killed for food, the carnivores. But now they were the squirrels in this equation, which felt somehow ironic….

(21) UNAIRED. You can see a four-minute clip from an unaired Star Trek pilot filmed in 16mm.

The original print from Star Trek’s 2nd pilot was never aired in this format. Had different opening narration, credits, had acts 1 thru 4 like an old quinn martin show and had scenes cut from aired version and different end credits and music. The original 16mm print is now stored in the Smithsonian

[Thanks to Andrew Porter, Carl Slaughter, John King Tarpinian, JJ, Chip Hitchcock, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, and Martin Morse Wooster for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Darren Garrison.]

Swarovski Crystal Star Wars Figures

John King Tarpinian snapped this photo of Swarovski’s window display at his local mall.

Just won the lottery and need the right holiday gift for the Star Wars fan in your life? That’s the price level we’re talking about, for the big guy, anyway…


Star Wars – Darth Vader, Limited Edition 2017

$ 10,250.00

Limited to 300 pieces worldwide, this unique masterpiece is only crafted on demand and comes with a certificate of authenticity. An exclusive design showing Darth Vader, one of the most popular and iconic characters from the Star Wars movie series, with over 29’000 hand-set crystals. Authentic and detailed, this stunning Limited Edition showcases Swarovski’s expertise in the Pointiage® technique, and each piece takes over 120 hours to complete. Each one is engraved with its own edition number on the granite base, and delivered in a premium blue suitcase. The shipping procedure includes insurance and a delivery notice. Find out more about this procedure under Online Shop Assistant – Order Process. Decoration object. Not a toy. Not suitable for children under 15.

  • Size: 10 3/4 x 5 1/2 x 3 7/8 inches

Star Wars – R2-D2

$ 239.00

Fans of Star Wars: The Force Awakens can find a home for iconic droid R2-D2. The lovable character has been expertly crafted in crystal and features 446 luminous facets and detailed prints. Sure to amuse and impress, it’s a must-have for any aficionado. Decoration object. Not a toy. Not suitable for children under 15.

  • Size: 2 5/8 x 1 3/4 x 1 5/8 inches

Star Wars – C-3PO

$ 325.00

From a galaxy far, far away to your own home, with this stunning depiction of C-3PO. Exquisitely crafted in golden and red crystal, it boasts black detailing and a white crystal base. In all, the ever-helpful droid, which featured in Star Wars: The Force Awakens, features 537 sparkling facets. The perfect present for those who follow the Star Wars franchise. Decoration object. Not a toy. Not suitable for children under 15.

  • Size: 4 3/8 x 2 1/8 x 1 7/8 inches

Star Wars – BB-8

$ 129.00

Bring the excitement of Star Wars into your home with this exquisite depiction of BB-8. Instantly recognizable from his turn in 2015’s Star Wars: The Force Awakens, everyone’s new favorite droid has been expertly crafted in crystal with 226 sparkling facets and detailed prints. A must for any Star Wars fan. Decoration object. Not a toy. Not suitable for children under 15.

  • Size: 1 7/8 x 1 1/4 x 1 1/4 inches

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian for the story.]