Pixel Scroll 1/17/22 In Five Years, The Pixel Will Be Obsolete, Said The Salesman

(1) MORE AMAZON SHENANIGANS. Nick Cole says Galaxy’s Edge had its account nuked by Amazon over the weekend. The action has since been undone. “CTRL ALT Revolt FLASH REPORT”. He plays it the way his readers like to hear it.

Spent all weekend dealing with a situation on Amazon. Saturday night we got a letter saying our Galaxy’s Edge account was terminated and we were permanently banned.

This morning the books are back up. Was it a purge, a hacker running amok, the AI screwing up… I have thoughts.

But for now this is my official statement :

“We don’t know anything concrete. This happened on Saturday night on a 3 day weekend.

That sounds suspiciously like a hacker got into Amazon. Also, a few other people have had it happen to them.

But the times are crazy due to the leftists strangling everyone’s small business and acting like some kind of woke mafia within major corporations and so it must be considered, that until Amazon says different, this was some kind of Purge.

We are hoping Tuesday morning sees a resolution. Until then our cash flow has been destroyed, our customers are upset, and potential new customers are being lost forever….

(2) LIFE INFLUENCES ON LEM. [Item by Tom Becker.] Two recent books by Polish authors make clear how much Lem’s wartime experience weighed on him. In Agnieszka Gajewska’s deeply researched “Holocaust and the Stars,” translated by Katarzyna Gucio (Routledge) … and “Lem: A Life Out of This World,” a lively, genial biography by Wojciech Orlinski, which has yet to be translated into English. “A Holocaust Survivor’s Hardboiled Science Fiction” in The New Yorker. [Note: The Latin “l” is used in Lem’s first name because WordPress does not support the special character.]

In “His Master’s Voice,” a 1968 sci-fi novel by the Polish writer Stanislaw Lem, a team of scientists and scholars convened by the American government try to decipher a neutrino signal from outer space. They manage to translate a fragment of the signal’s information, and a couple of the scientists use it to construct a powerful weapon, which the project’s senior mathematician fears could wipe out humanity. The intention behind the message remains elusive, but why would an advanced life-form have broadcast instructions that could be so dangerous?

Late one night, a philosopher on the team named Saul Rappaport, who emigrated from Europe in the last year of the Second World War, tells the mathematician about a time—“the year was 1942, I think”—when he nearly died in a mass execution…..

Privately, Lem told people that he had witnessed the executions described by his fictional character. “Dr. Rappaport’s adventure is my adventure, from Lwów 1941, after the German army entered—I was to be shot,” he wrote to his American translator Michael Kandel. When Orlinski asked Lem’s widow which elements in the scene were drawn from life, she replied, “All of them.”…

(3) LIGHTNING STRIKING AGAIN AND AGAIN AND AGAIN. You knew it all along – the creators of the term “squeecore” graduated from the “I made you look! I win!” school of clickbaiting. Whose graduates always try to get John Scalzi to say their names, or failing that, they announce to the world he paid some attention to them. Yay them.

And here’s that big, succulent dose of attention:

That was it. Show’s over.

(4) THE SOUND AND THE FURY. Or is it? Camestros Felapton is convinced there’s more candy left in that piñata, as he argues in “Yeah, but”.

I was going to write something else today but as squeecore arguments are still raging on my social media I wanted to pull out some of my own views on where the discussion is, partly because there’s a lot of directions the arguments are going.

      1. Is there’s a dominant style in SFF in the sense of the works that critical buzz and award nominations? Yes, so long as we a generous with both “dominant” and “style” but it is fairly nebulous (as was New Wave for example.
      2. Is there a dominant style in SFF (in the sense above) that is so ubiquotous that is pushes out nearly everything else? No unless you define “style” so expansively that it can’t not to be true i.e. the claim becomes tautological.

He reaches number eight before he’s done.

(But wait! If you use a sufficiently high-powered vacuum, there might be more candy yet! Camestros reacts to Reddit’s discussion of the topic: “A log entry in the voyage of genre name looking for a genre”.)

(5) I SEE A LITTLE SILHOUETTO.  Meanwhile, Doris V. Sutherland has interesting points to make in “’Squeecore’ and the Cartoon Mode in SF/F” – thoughts that deserve to be discussed without the handicap of being attached to this arbitrary term.

…There’s an old rule in animation that a cartoon character should have a readily-identifiable silhouette — think of Mickey Mouse’s ears or Bart Simpson’s spiky hair. In the strongest examples these silhouettes incorporate not only the character’s body and/or clothes but also a posture that tells us something of their personality: Bugs Bunny casually leaning back as he chomps on a carrot; Spongebob excitedly waving his arms about. This is a visual counterpart to the old rule in writing that says you should hook the reader with the first line.

With that in mind, take a look at the opening line to Tamsyn Muir’s Gideon the Ninth, the novel about the teenage lesbian necromancer who likes comic books and porn mags:

In the myriadic year of our Lord—the ten thousandth year of the King Undying, the kindly Prince of Death!— Gideon Nav packed her sword, her shoes, and her dirty magazines, and she escaped from the House of the Ninth.

Succinct, funny, comprehensible in a flash — this is the prose equivalent of a cartoon character’s silhouette.

Can these stories, as wholes, be described as cartoonish? That’s more debatable. The purest examples of the aesthetic I’m talking about are in short stories like Vina Jie-Min Prasad’s “Fandom for Robots” and “A Guide For Working Breeds” or Naomi Kritzer’s “Cat Pictures Please”, each of which uses its cartoon-character-silhouette as the basis for its entire narrative trajectory. This is harder to sustain in a full-length novel. There are novels built wholly around the cartoon mode, but they fit into a narrow genre of giddy, goofy comedies (David Wong’s Zoey Punches the Future in the Dick is a good example)….

(6) THINKING INSIDE THE BOX. In case you were still wondering what hopepunk is: “The sci-fi genre offering radical hope for living better” at BBC Culture.

…In the midst of current political, economic and environment uncertainty, many of us may have noticed a tendency to fall into cynicism and pessimism. Could hopepunk be the perfect antidote?

If you feel wary of optimism, you are far from alone. Writers and philosophers across human history have had ambivalent views of hope. These contradictory opinions can be seen in the often opposing interpretations of the Pandora myth, first recorded by Hesiod around 700 BC. In his poem Works and Days, Hesiod describes how Zeus created Pandora as a punishment to humanity, following Prometheus’s theft of fire. She comes to humanity bearing a jar containing “countless plagues” – and, opening the lid, releases its evils to the world. “Only Hope remained there in an unbreakable home within the rim of the great jar,” Hesiod tells us….

(7) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

2002 [Item by Cat Eldridge.] Twenty years ago this day, the musical Chicago premiered. I just rewatched it on HBO Max which is why you are getting it as the Anniversary piece tonight. Well that and that Mike is extremely generous in what I can cover in this feature. Extremely generous. You are forewarned as to what the future might hold. 

I first saw this film at the theater when it came out. It’s based off the 1975 stage musical of the same name which had music by John Kander, lyrics by Fred Ebb, and book by Ebb and Bob Fosse. That in turn was based off Chicago, a very successful 1926 play written by Maurine Dallas Watkins. 

This film was directed by Rob Marshall and produced by Martin Richards from the screenplay by Bill Condon.  Fosse was contracted to direct this but died before he could do so. The film marked the directorial debut of Marshall, who also choreographed the film, with music by Kander and lyrics by Ebb, both had worked on the Fosse musical. Marshall would later direct Into the Woods and Mary Poppins Returns.

Chicago was primarily set in Cook County Criminal Court Building and Jail. And this is a musical which means we get to a stellar cast sing including performers I swear I never knew could do so —  Richard Gere, Renée Zellweger, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Queen Latifah, John C. Reilly, Lucy Liu, Taye Diggs, Colm Feore and Dominic West.  Gere in particular is very, very impressive though the women performers are great in part because they pass the Bechdel test in that much of the script is dialogue between women smartly done without men present. 

Reception for Chicago was almost unanimously positive. I think Robert Ebert summed it up best when he called it “big, brassy fun” which it definitely is.  It gets a most excellent eighty-six rating among audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes.  Oh, and though costly to produce at almost fifty million, it made over three hundred million. 

And yes we can tie the film into the genre as Mike pointed out to me that “?Chicago is the source of a tune Maytree used to create one of the best-ever Puppy satire filks” — here.

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born January 17, 1899 Nevil Shute. Author of On the Beach. It originally appeared as a four-part series, The Last Days on Earth, in the London weekly Sunday Graphic in April 1957.  It was twice a film. He has other SF novels including An Old Captivity which involves time travel and No Highway which gets a review by Pohl in Super Science Stories in 1949. There’s In the Wet and Vinland the Good as well. (Died 1960.)
  • Born January 17, 1927 Eartha Kitt. Though you’ll have lots of folks here remembering her as Catwoman from the original Batman, she appeared in but four episodes there. Genre wise, she was in such series as I-SpyMission: ImpossibleMatrix, the animated Space Ghost Coast to Coast and the animated My Life as a Teenage Robot. Film wise, she played Freya in Erik the Viking, voiced Bagheera in The Jungle Book: Mowgli’s Story and was Madame Zeroni In Holes. (Died 2008.)
  • Born January 17, 1931 James Earl Jones, 91. His first SF appearance was in Dr. Strangelove as Lt. Lothar Zogg.  And I think I need not list all his appearances as Darth Vader here. Some genre appearances include Exorcist II: The HereticThe Flight of DragonsConan the Barbarian as Thulsa Doom and I actually remember him in that role, and Allan Quatermain and the Lost City of Gold. Did you know the 1995 Judge Dredd had a Narrator? Well he’s listed as doing it, and Fantasia 2000 as well.
  • Born January 17, 1949 Donald Palumbo, 73. Well someone has to take us seriously. In this case, it’s this scholar. He’s done such studies as Chaos Theory, Asimov’s Foundations and Robots, and Herbert’s Dune: the Fractal Aesthetic of Epic Science FictionEros in the Mind’s Eye: Sexuality and the Fantastic in Art and Film and Worlds Apart?: Dualism and Transgression in Contemporary Female Dystopias. He has an interesting essay, “Reiterated Plots and Themes in the Robot Novels: Getting Away with Murder and Overcoming Programming” in Foundation, #80 Autumn 2000 . His latest work is A Dune Companion: Characters, Places and Terms in Frank Herbert’s Original Six Novels. Huh. I’d like to see that. 
  • Born January 17, 1952 Tom Deitz. He’s best remembered for the David Sullivan series which ran for nine novels, plus The Gryphon King, which technically isn’t part of that series. The Soulsmith is quite excellent as well. He was founding member of the SCA’s Barony of Bryn Madoc, and he won the Phoenix Award for lifetime achievement in promoting Southern fandom. Fitting for a lifelong resident of Georgia. He’s reasonably well stocked at the usual suspects. (Died 2008.)
  • Born January 17, 1962 Jim Carrey, 60. His first genre film is Once Bitten whose content is obvious from its name and which get a mere thirty-nine percent rating among audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes. The ‘dorable Earth Girls Are Easy was next followed up by Batman Forever in which he played a manic Riddler that I rather liked, then there’s the The Truman Show which was way cool. So may we not talk about How the Grinch Stole Christmas?  (SHUDDER!) We settled several years ago that we think that Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind is genre.  And I think that I’ll stop there this time. 
  • Born January 17, 1970 Genndy Tartakovsky, 52. Like Romulnan Ale, animation style is a matter of taste. So while I like his work on Samurai Jack and Star Wars: Clone Wars, I can understand why many SW fans don’t as it’s definitely an acquired taste.  He also is responsible for directing the animated  Hotel Transylvania franchise. You can see a sample of his Clone Wars animation here.
  • Born January 17, 1989 Kelly Marie Tran, 33. Best known as Rose Tico in Star Wars: The Last Jedi  and  Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker. She voices the same character in the Star Wars Forces of Destiny animated series. She also voiced Raya in Raya and the Last Dragon and Dawn Betterman in The Croods: A New Age

(9) FAMILY FAREWELL. Christopher Rice wrote a long Facebook post about Anne Rice’s funeral in New Orleans, including the text of his eulogy.

Dearest People of the Page. We have brought Anne home. On Saturday January 15th, as we rolled to a stop on the tarmac at New Orleans International Airport, the heavens opened, and the thunder rolled, and it was as if the spirit world had heralded her return to the city of her birth, the city that always held her heart. The service was quiet and private, and a chance for close family to express their grief. The public celebration of life we will hold later in the year will be open to all of you, and it will be loud enough for Anne to hear us in heaven. She has now joined my father in the tomb in Metairie Cemetery she designed for him after his passing; their marriage, unbroken for decades, has entered immortality. My sister resides with them as well. I share with you now a portion of the eulogy I read graveside as the rain drenched our tent and a flock of blackbirds took to the sky behind me….

(10) DEL TORO’S HISTORY. “Guillermo Del Toro: ‘I saw real corpses when I was growing up in Mexico’” – the director is profiled by the New York Times.

Guillermo Del Toro used to describe Hollywood as “the Land of the Slow No”. Here was a place where a director could die waiting for a project to be greenlit. “The natural state of a movie is to be unmade,” he says over Zoom from his home in Los Angeles. “I have about 20 scripts that I lug around that no one wants to make and that’s fine: it’s the nature of the business. It’s a miracle when anything at all gets made.”

Nevertheless, Del Toro has established himself as this century’s leading fantasy film-maker, more inventive than latter-day Tim Burton and less bombastic than Peter Jackson (with whom he co-wrote the Hobbit trilogy). From the haunting adult fairytale Pan’s Labyrinth and the voluptuously garish Hellboy romps to his beauty-and-the-fish love story The Shape of Water, which won four Oscars, he is the master of the glutinous phantasmagoria….

(11) LENSMAN LOVE. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. Parody ranks somewhere in there, too.“Foist Lensman: Early Fan Pastiche From the Works of Edward Elmer Smith, Ph.D.”First Fandom Experience has scans of a half dozen examples.

Fans love to pay tribute to the authors they love most. This takes the form of flattery and at times, its most sincere cousin: imitation. Imitation can stray accidentally or venture boldly into parody. The works of Edward Elmer “Doc” Smith, Ph.D. attracted all of this.

The earliest instances of fan pastiche based on Smith’s Skylark and Lensman novels appeared in fanzine that have largely been lost to history. Spurred by an inquiry from the Online Science Fiction Book Club, FFE has endeavored to make these works available. For Smith enthusiasts, we hope this is fun.
Click any image for a full-screen view.

“The Skylaugh of Space” by “Omnia”
Fantasy Magazine, v3n3, May 1934 and v3n4, June 1934
(The identity of “Omnia” is unclear. The author is described in the July 1934 issue of Fantasy Magazine as “a young chap who has shown promise in the science fiction field, having already sold stories to Wonder and Amazing. Besides, he is editor of his college humor magazine…”)

(12) WSFS. Kevin Standlee tells LiveJournal readers he has finished “Updating WSFS Documents” with changes from DisCon III. (The Business Meeting minutes are still in progress.)

The WSFS Rules website is now mostly updated. The 2021-22 WSFS Constitution and Standing Rules are updated, as is the Resolutions and Rulings of Continuing Effect, a cumulative list of resolutions passed by the WSFS Business Meeting that are likely to have an ongoing effect and rulings made by the Chair (or sometimes rulings made that were overturned on appeal) on various procedural matters.

The Minutes of the Business Meeting and the Business Passed On to the 2022 WSFS Business Meeting are nearing completion, and when they’re finished and certified by the 2021 meeting officers, I’ll update those as well.

(13) THE SHOW MUST GO ON. The New York Times says thanks to omicron “Now Is the Winter of Broadway’s Discontent”. Includes this item of genre interest —

… Now, producers have figured out how to keep shows running, thanks mainly to a small army of replacement workers filling in for infected colleagues. Heroic stories abound: When the two girls who alternate as the young lioness Nala in “The Lion King” were both out one night, a 10-year-old boy who usually plays the cub Simba went on in the role, saving the performance.

…And then there was “The Lion King,” where the young Simba went on as young Nala (uncostumed, and after a preshow explanation to the audience).

“I didn’t want the show to close,” explained the child actor, who performs as Corey J. “I was nervous at first, but then the person who plays Shenzi winked at me, and I wasn’t nervous anymore.”

In the wings between scenes, cast members cheered him on, and at the end of the show, the cast gave him the honor of the show’s final bow….

(14) BIGBUG. Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s next film is going to be released by Netflix next month.

A group of bickering suburbanites find themselves stuck together when an android uprising causes their well intentioned household robots to lock them in for their own safety.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Andrew Porter, Alan Baumler, Dann, Tom Becker, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, and JJ for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day David Shallcross.]

Pixel Scroll 1/14/22 Do Starros Work As Facemasks? What About Tribbles?

(1) SLF ILLUSTRATION OF THE YEAR. Michelle Feng is the winner of the Speculative Literature Foundation’s search for their 2022 Illustration of the Year.

Michelle Feng

Hoping to translate theory into policy and practice, Michelle’s experience revolves around working directly with traditionally underserved individuals and communities of color to bridge the gap between lived experiences and policy that fails to reflect the complexities of society on a universal scale. Through her dedication to public service, where she traveled around the country working in dedicated pursuit of localized projects with focuses on urban development, environmental conservation, disaster relief, and food insecurity in rural areas. Michelle has also spent time in Human Resources at the Department of Defense and has experience in social work at a small non-profit, which subsequently trained her in crisis de-escalation, conflict mediation, and trauma-informed care.

Feng commented that she found inspiration for her illustration through wanting to combine visual elements from traditional village living structures with futuristic elements of a modern city. Feng used a mix of mediums and textures to build a piece with collage-like elements that illustrated a layered approach to world-building: “imbuing realities that are grounded in something familiar, but still continue to live outside of our surface-level understanding of the world, define speculative fiction to me. As a first generation Chinese-American daughter of immigrants, I grew up hearing stories of my mother’s experience traveling to the rural village her mother grew up in, who always emphasized the importance of balancing education, literacy, and imagination as the key to upward mobility.”

The person climbing the wall of books on the left hand side of the image was inspired by her grandfather, a professor of contemplative literature who taught her mother that art is the highest form of expression. Her hope is that those who see the piece can connect to both of its real & imagined worlds while exploring intersections between the built and natural environment.

You can find more of her work on instagram: @michellef.arts

(2) SQUEECORE. Raquel S. Benedict’s Rite Gud podcast offer “A Guide to Squeecore”, their term for sff’s current favorite flavor.

In 1936, anthropologist Ralph Linton said, “The last thing a fish would ever notice would be water.” It’s difficult to see the medium that encompasses everything around you, especially when you’ve never known anything else. Well, if fish were contemporary sci-fi/fantasy readers, the last thing they would notice is squeecore. What is squeecore? You’re soaking in it! Squeecore is the dominant literary movement in contemporary SFF, a movement so ubiquitous it’s nearly invisible. But in this episode, we are taking notice of how speculative fiction got watered down.

(3) UNWRAPPING THE PRESENT. Camestros Felapton catches the conversational ball thrown by Raquel S. Benedict in that Rite Gud podcast – “Is there a dominant mode of current science fiction?”

…Again, I think that idea (if not the name) that there are common aesthetic elements in notable science fiction (ie what gets critical attention and award nominations) makes some sense. Historically, in the Hugo Awards, I think what we see is overlapping time periods of popularity of some authors, publishers and outlets (5 to 10 year periods, with some figures having much longer spans of relevance). Pick any snapshot of time though, you are likely to find works that reflect elements that are going out of fashion, works that are currently most fashionable and works that reflect newer fashions. That is reflected in the kind of names (some coined contemporaneously and some retrospectively) given to works from particular times. The podcast picks up on that element and the need for a name for the current state of affairs….

(4) ENCOURAGING INTENTIONALITY. Maurice Broaddus urges conventions to move beyond checking the “diversity box” and work on building community. Thread starts here.

(5) ADAPTING STATION ELEVEN. Esquire’s Adrienne Westenfeld analyzes “How HBO Max’s Station Eleven Reimagines the Novel”.

…. Readers of the novel will remember its unique structure: nonlinear and multi-perspective, arcing across time, space, and characters to tell its poignant story about survival and the human spirit. We sense some of that looping structure in the television show, particularly in Episode One’s flash-forward glimpses of Chicago (for the purposes of this adaptation, HBOMax has transplanted the story from Toronto to Chicago). In these shots, we glimpse an unrecognizable world: today’s driveway becomes an overgrown wilderness, years after the pandemic. Today’s theater, where Arthur performs King Lear to a packed audience, is later overrun by feral hogs. The visual style hints at a narrative omniscience….

(6) DAVE WOLVERTON (1952-2022). Dave Wolverton, aka Dave Farland, died the day after sustaining a head injury due to a fall, his son Spencer announced this morning:  

Again this Dave’s son Spencer.

Dave has officially passed. He held on till all his children could say goodbye, then faded swiftly without pain. Thank you for all the kind words, messages, and memories.

After reading the countless messages and reflecting on my own experience, it is safe to say that my dad had a special way of seeing the potential in people. He will surely be missed.

Words can’t express the emotions of losing a loved one.

Eric Flint is among the many paying tribute, here on Facebook:

…Dave was part of my writing career from the very beginning. In fact, he’s the person whom you could say started it. He was the coordinator of the Writers of the Future contest in 1992. I submitted a story which he liked well enough to include in the finalists from whom the judges chose the winners, and I won first place in the winter quarter of that year. Winning that award is what kicked off my writing career. I stayed in touch with Dave after the contest and he was a help to me in many ways, from giving me excellent editing advice to connecting me with the person who became (and still is) my literary agent.

Some years later, Dave and I were two of the five founders of the Superstars Writing Seminar. (The other three were Kevin Anderson, Rebecca Moesta and Brandon Sanderson.) As a result of that association, we met every year at the four-day event, which is held in Colorado Springs in February. I was expecting to see him next month and looking forward to it.

David Doering’s appreciation about him will appear shortly on File 770.

(7) RICK COOK (1944-2022). Rick Cook, author of the Wizardry series (starting with Wizard’s Bane in 1989), died January 13. He wrote a total of nine sff novels, and much short fiction. His short story “Symphony for Skyfall,” co-written with Peter L. Manly, was shortlisted for the Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award in 1995. His fact article “The Long Stern Case: A Speculative Exercise” won the Analog Readers Poll in 1987 (and between 1995-1998, three more short stories co-authored with Manly placed second or third in the poll.)

Sir Richard Ironsteed.

He was a co-founder of the Society for Creative Anachronism’s Kingdom of Atenveldt, which encompasses the state of Arizona. In the SCA he was known as Sir Richard Ironsteed. Recalling the early days of the Kingdom of Atenveldt, Cook wrote:

We made it up as we went along. In 1968 I went to Worldcon in San Francisco. The SCA appeared there for the first time. It was then I was introduced to the SCA. I picked up the Known World Handbook and brought it back to the Valley of the Sun. I couldn’t build up much interest, but shared the information with Mike Reynolds. In 1969, he suggested we start a branch. We were the first group that wasn’t started by people who had lived in the Kingdom of the West.

I was part of building the initial group, martial activities, including the administrative duties of marshalling. As first king of Atenveldt, I enjoyed making up the fun as we went along. Those things of great tradition from the early days were really just having a good time. I was also the first herald of Atenveldt, long before we were a kingdom. I tried my hand at many things from helping make our first (infamous) trebuchet to making jewelry.

He became the First King of Atenveldt in 1971.

Heather Jeffcott shared warm memories of him on Facebook:

…He used words like swordplay. Strong and persuasive, nimble and light when needed, then *SMACK*! There came the pun that would lighten the tenor of the conversation. He could be blunt without being rude. (Which is not to say he couldn’t descend into crudity, it just wasn’t his first choice. He was selective in how and when to apply such words for he had plenty of others in his arsenal.) He had a talent for telling you a truth and making it seem like a tall tale. And if he told you a Tall Tale, it took on the manner of a LEGEND….

(8) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

1977 [Item by Cat Eldridge.] Forty-five years ago, the first version of Fantasy Island aired its first episode this evening on ABC. The series starred Ricardo Montalbán who was previously known for his Chrysler Cordoba commercials, with their tagline of “Fine Corinthian Leather”, as Mr. Roarke, the Host, and Hervé Villechaize as his dwarf assistant, Tattoo. It was created by Gene Levitt who had very little previous genre experience. 

The critics were unanimous in their utter loathing of it. Newsday was typical of the comments about: “Given the premise, the [pilot] movie could have been fun, but it’s not. It drips with Meaning, but there is none. Actually, it’s quite dumb.”

It was obviously critic-proof as it had an amazing run lasting seven seasons of one hundred fifty-two episodes, plus two films called Fantasy Island and Return to Fantasy Island

A one-season revival of the series with Malcolm McDowell and Mädchen Amick in the two roles aired fourteen years later while a re-imagined horror film version was released two years ago. I’ve seen neither of those versions. I do remember the original series and remember rather liking it.

Chrysler Cordoba commercial (proof nothing vanishes on the net) here.

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born January 14, 1924 Guy Williams. Most remembered as Professor John Robinson on Lost in Space though some of you may remember him as Don Diego de la Vega and his masked alter ego Zorro in the earlier Zorro series. (Is it genre? You decide. I think it is.) He filmed two European genre films, Il tiranno di Siracusa (Damon and Pythias) and Captain Sinbad as well. (Died 1989.)
  • Born January 14, 1943 Beverly Zuk. Ardent fan of Trek: TOS who wrote three Trek fanfics, two of them on specific characters: The Honorable Sacrifice (McCoy) and The Third Verdict (Scotty). Let’s just say that based on her artwork that I found I’d not say these are anything less than R rated in places. She was a founding member of the Trek Mafia though I’m not sure what that was, but I’m betting one of y’all can tell me. (Died 2009.)
  • Born January 14, 1948 Carl Weathers, 74. Most likely best remembered among genre fans as Al Dillon in Predator, but he has some other genre creds as well. He was a MP officer in Close Encounters of the Third Kind, General Skyler in Alien Siege, Dr. Artimus Snodgrass in the very silly The Sasquatch Gang comedy and he voiced Combat Carl in Toy Story 4. And no, I’m not forgetting he’s currently playing Greef Karga on The Mandalorian series. I still think his best role ever was Adam Beaudreaux on Street Justice but that’s very, very not genre. 
  • Born January 14, 1949 Lawrence Kasdan, 73. Director, screenwriter, and producer. He’s best known early on as co-writer of The Empire Strikes BackRaiders of the Lost Ark and Return of the Jedi. He also wrote The Art of Return of the Jedi with George Lucas which is quite superb. He’s also one of the writers lately of Star Wars: The Force Awakens and Solo: A Star Wars Story
  • Born January 14, 1957 Suzanne Danielle, 65. A Whovian as she showed up as Agella in “The Destiny if The Daleks “ a Fourth Doctor story. She was on the Hammer House of Horror series in the Carpathian Eagle” episode, and she’s also in Roald Dahl’s Tales of the Unexpected multiple times in different roles. To my knowledge, her only other SFF appearance was on the Eighties Flash Gordon film.
  • Born January 14, 1962 Jemma Redgrave, 60. Her first genre role was as Violette Charbonneau in the “A Time to Die” episode of  Tales of the Unexpected which was also her first acting role. Later genre roles are scant but include a memorable turn as Kate Lethbridge-Stewart, daughter of Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart on Doctor Who. Not at all surprisingly,she has also appeared as Stewart as the lead in myriad UNIT adventures for Big Finish Productions.
  • Born January 14, 1967 Emily Watson, 55. Her first genre appearance is in Equilibrium as Mary O’Brien before voicing Victoria Everglot in Tim Burton’s Corpse Bride. Next is she’s Anne MacMorrow in the Celtic fantasy The Water Horse: Legend of the Deep. She apparently also was in a Nineties radio production of The Wolves of Willoughby Chase but I’ve no information on it. 
  • Born January 14, 1990 Grant Gustin, 32. The actor, known as Barry Allen aka the Flash in the Arrowverse. I’ve got him as a boyfriend on an episode on A Haunting, one of those ghost hunter shows early in his career. Later on, well, the Arrowverse has kept him rather busy.

(10) COMICS SECTION.

  • Frank and Ernest meet some genetic engineers whose experiments result in terrible puns.

(11) SPRING HAS SPRUNG AT SF2 CONCATENATION. SF² Concatenation has just posted its seasonal edition of news, articles, conreps, genre film analysis, and over 40 standalone book reviews. Vol. 32 (1) contains:

v32(1) 2022.1.15 — Science Fiction & Fantasy Book Reviews

v32(1) 2022.1.15 — Non-Fiction SF & Science Fact Book Reviews

(12) FOUNDRY EVENT. Flights of Foundry, a virtual convention for speculative creators and their fans, will be held online from April 8-10. Programming is now being organized, and registrations taken, at the link.

The world’s biggest multi-disciplinary, round the clock, international virtual convention is returning for its third year, and it’s going to be even better than ever. With stellar guests of honor such as L. D. Lewis and Jana Bianchi, an intensive workshops series, and activities to fill the whole weekend, there’s something for everyone and more than you’ll make it to. Donation-based registration means everyone can attend, and you’ll have a rare opportunity to meet people you’ll never see on the regular con circuit. Join us to learn about craft and business from creatives in your field and those you’ll collaborate with over the course of your career. Talk about your favorite works with people who love them, and love to dissect them, too!

(13) A JAR FULL OF MONEY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In the Washington Post, Michael Cavna notes that now that Winnie-the-Pooh is in the public domain, artists and writers will have a field day as long as they don’t make the bear wear a shirt (Disney owns that shirt!), don’t mention Tigger (not introduced until the still-under-copyright The House At Pooh Corner) and they should probably put a disclaimer in saying Disney has nothing to do with their work. “’Winnie-the-Pooh’ just entered the public domain. Here’s what that means for fans.”

He notes that Ryan Reynolds has used Winnie the Pooh’s public domain status to promote his cellphone company.

(14) SPIDER-MAN IS THE HOTTEST PROPERTY ON THE BLOCK. The auction block, that is: “Spider-Man comic page sells for record $3.36M bidding”.

Mike Zeck’s artwork for page 25 from Marvel Comics’ “Secret Wars No. 8” brings the first appearance of Spidey’s black suit. The symbiote suit would eventually lead to the emergence of the character Venom.

The record bidding, which started at $330,000 and soared past $3 million, came on the first day of Heritage Auctions’ four-day comic event in Dallas.

(15) THE HORTHMAH. [Item by Hampus Eckerman.] I saw that a new movie has been released, but the title is a bit weird. It mixes existing nordic runes with some that are made up from our ordinary latin alphabet. The closest I come when translating it is “The Horthmah”, but perhaps it is more than two alphabets in there. Is there any filers that are better at runes than me and can help out here? Anyway, I have no idea of what a Horthmah is, but I guess I’ll have to see the movie to find out.

(16) TRAILER TIME. Dance along to the opening credits of James Gunn’s Peacemaker, starring John Cena. Peacemaker is now streaming on HBO Max.

(17) CREDENTIALS IN SPACE. Adventures in Purradise entices viewers to watch “Fur Trek: Tribble Troubles”.

Are you a Star Trek fan? Do you like funny cats? Then this episode is right up your alley. William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy and DeForest Kelley, move over! Fur Trek is coming at warp speed. Capt. James T. Purrk of the UFS Kittyprise responds to a distress call from the planet Tribbiani, home of the adorable indigenous creatures known as Tribbles. Ambassador Barker suspects the warlike Klingoffs plan to steal his cargo of the life-saving grain, quadrokittycale, so he enlists Purrk’s help. Will the innocent Tribbles get caught up in a war between the Furderation and the Klingoff empire? Get ready to travel at warp speed on Jan. 1st to find out.

[Thanks to Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, Hampus Eckerman, Bruce D. Arthurs, Chris Barkley, Daniel Dern, John King Tarpinian, Andrew Porter, Michael Toman, and Cat Eldridge for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]

Pixel Scroll 1/11/22 Look At My Fingers: Four Pixels, Four Scrolls. Zero Pixels, Zero Scrolls!

(1) COSINE. COSine is going ahead this weekend (January 14-16) in Colorado Springs, CO. In their latest publicity email, co-chairs Morland Gonsoulin and Arlen Feldman repeated their Covid policy —

Just a reminder – we have had a lot of people concerned about getting together in the era of Omicron and other Greek-lettered invaders. Everyone who comes to the convention must be able to show proof of COVID vaccination (either electronic—myColorado or a photo on your phone, or a paper copy of your COVID vaccination card) or proof of a negative COVID test within forty-eight hours of attending. Click here for information on testing. Also, masks will be required in all convention areas (remember, masks are primarily there to protect other people, not you). We will be giving prizes to people who have the coolest masks (that are also still effective)!

(2) ONCE YOU CAN REMOVE MONEY FROM THE ATMOSPHERE…. “Neal Stephenson Thinks Greed Might Be the Thing That Saves Us” – so he said to a New York Times interviewer.

What about the story we’re telling as a society — beyond art — about climate change? Is there a way we could be talking about it that’s more likely to motivate the kind of mobilization we had, say, during the Second World War? 

The difficulty is that it’s hard to get lots of people to change their minds. The United States did mobilize in a massive way during World War II, but we didn’t start getting serious about it until 1942. There had been a huge war raging since 1939, and the Brits were tearing their hair out waiting for the United States to get more involved, and it wasn’t until Pearl Harbor that there was a tipping point in public opinion that made it possible for America’s political leadership to declare war and to enter into it in a serious way. So the question asks itself: What might be a climate equivalent of Pearl Harbor? We’re already having little regional Pearl Harbors all over the place. We had our heat dome in Seattle over the summer, we had the mega tornado supercell that passed from Arkansas to Kentucky. These little pinprick Pearl Harbor events happen here and there, but it’s difficult to imagine one that would impact an entire country the size of the United States — if it did, it would be a really bad thing. We don’t want to put ourselves in the position of wishing that something terrible would happen. It’s also natural to assume that the CO2 problem is similar to other air-pollution problems we’ve had before. In the ’50s, there was a disaster in London because of too much coal smoke in the air, and they In the ’70s, a lot of the smog problem in L.A. was cleaned up by putting catalytic converters on cars…We’re accustomed to thinking that all we have to do is stop emitting the pollutant, and then nature will clean up the air. But it’s not true in the case of CO2 in the atmosphere. People confuse CO2 emission reduction or elimination with solving the problem. But even if we could stop emitting all CO2, we’d be stuck for hundreds of thousands of years with extremely elevated CO2 levels that nature has no quick way of removing from the air. That’s the key thing that has to be widely understood before we can actually begin envisioning ways to attack the problem….

Do you see a way out of that? 

When people find that they can obtain lots of money and power by believing certain things and following certain ways of thinking, then you can bet that they’ll enthusiastically start doing that. The reason that Enlightenment thinking became popular was that people figured out that it was in their financial best interest to avail themselves of its powers. …

(3) HEAD MASTER. A tribute to Gene Wolfe on the 50th anniversary of the publication of The Fifth Head Of Cerberus in The Spectator World: “’The Fifth Head of Cerberus’ at 50”.

… Ursula K. Le Guin called Gene Wolfe “our Melville.” His meandering plots, odd characters, and surreal scenes are certainly reminiscent of aspects of Melville, but Wolfe, a conservative and a Catholic, was most like the American author in his realistic view of human nature. According to Wolfe, people are capable of great acts of goodness and evil but have a certain facility for the latter, which are done, more often than not, in the name of the former….

(4) THE OTHER OF INVENTION. Camestros Felapton is inaugurating The Museum of Right-Wing Gadgets & Sundry Devices.

 Failed experiments! Miraculous near-inventions! Some things that actually exploded! Ladles and gentlemen, I present to you the Museum of Right-Wing Gadgets & Sundry Devices!

The first inductee is Theodore Beale’s “OOMouse,” better known as the “War Mouse” – “The M of RWG&SD Exhibit 1: The OOMouse”.

…A computer mouse with multiple buttons branded with the logo of the Open Office organisation. Also known as the ‘WarMouse’ — sold with a different colour scheme….

(5) WHAT THEY SHOULD HAVE LOOKED UP.  In the Washington Post, Kate Cohen argues that although Don’t Look Up is trying to be a critique of climate change skepticism but it doesn’t work because “its villains are so villainous, and its science deniers are so dumb” that the film is implausible. “What Netflix’s ‘Don’t Look Up’ gets wrong about climate change”.

… In scene after scene, the movie offers several explanations for our nonresponse:because we’re obsessed with celebrity culture and distrustful of science, because the news media is actually in the entertainment business, because politicians prioritize reelection over problem-solving, and because billionaire geniuses choose profit over everything.

To those, I would add — and this is crucial, I think — because climate change isn’t a comet speeding toward Earth.

Yes, I know, no analogy is perfect. But if writer and director Adam McKay (“The Big Short,” “Vice”) wants to persuade people to “make the climate crisis the No. 1 priority,” as he has said, then the metaphor he chose is perfectly wrong….

(6) SUPER GOOD HABITS. Except for Captain America I never think of superheroes even changing age, much less getting old, but TIME recommends them as role models: “What Marvel Superheroes Can Teach Us About Aging Well”.

It’s not easy being a superhero: They have enemies. They have monumental tasks to accomplish. They’re constantly battered. Beyond those dangers, however, they also practice several healthy behaviors that could carry them well into old age.

That’s what a team of Australian researchers recently discovered, as published in the light-hearted Christmas 2021 issue of the journal The BMJ. During pandemic lockdowns, the researchers immersed themselves in the world of Marvel superheroes. Their goal was to discover what these champions are or are not doing well when it comes to keeping their minds and bodies healthy as they advance toward their senior years—information that we regular mortals can incorporate into our New Year’s resolutions and apply to our own lives, too….

Here’s one example:

Stay away from loud noises

The superheroes’ “exposure to planets colliding and explosions would be a risk for hearing loss,” Hubbard says. “Particularly for older men, having hearing loss and not addressing it through wearing hearing aids is associated with an increased risk of dementia.” Therefore, wear hearing aids if necessary.

(7) SUPER BAD HABITS. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] The dismissal of two LAPD police officers was upheld by an appellate court when it was found that, “Gotta catch ‘em all” does not refer to Pokémon if you’re on duty. “’Aw, screw it’: LAPD cops hunted Pokémon instead of responding to robbery”.

The ruling explained:

Officer Mitchell alerted Lozano that “Snorlax” “just popped up” at “46th and Leimert.” After noting that “Leimert doesn’t go all the way to 46th,” Lozano responded, “Oh, you [know] what I can do? I’ll [go] down 11th and swing up on Crenshaw. I know that way I can get to it.” Mitchell suggested a different route, then told Lozano, “We got four minutes.”

For approximately the next 20 minutes, the DICVS captured petitioners discussing Pokémon as they drove to different locations where the virtual creatures apparently appeared on their mobile phones. On their way to the Snorlax location, Officer Mitchell alerted Officer Lozano that “a Togetic just popped up,” noting it was “[o]n Crenshaw, just south of 50th.” After Mitchell apparently caught the Snorlax— exclaiming, “Got ’em”—petitioners agreed to “[g]o get the Togetic” and drove off. When their car stopped again, the DICVS recorded Mitchell saying, “Don’t run away. Don’t run away,” while Lozano described how he “buried it and ultra-balled” the Togetic before announcing, “Got him.” Mitchell advised he was “[s]till trying to catch it,” adding, “Holy crap, man. This thing is fighting the crap out of me.” Eventually Mitchell exclaimed, “Holy crap. Finally,” apparently in reference to capturing the Togetic, and he remarked, “The[] guys are going to be so jealous.” Petitioners then agreed to return to the 7-Eleven (where Sergeant Gomez later met them) to end their watch. On the way, Mitchell remarked, “I got you a new Pokémon today, dude.”

(8) HOME OF FIGRIN D’AN AND THE MODAL NODES? Hollywood’s Scum and Villainy Cantina is still with us despite Covid. Only In Your State paid it a visit: “There’s A Star Wars-Themed Pub In Southern California, And It’s Enchanting”.

Tucked along Hollywood Boulevard, Scum and Villainy Cantina is a bar unlike any other in Hollywood or all of Southern California for that matter! An ode to all-things-nerdy, it’s a place where geeks unite and all fandoms are welcome….

(9) PANSHIN MEDICAL UPDATE. Alexei Panshin told Facebook followers today, “Friends, I’m home again from the pneumonia and heart attack episode I suffered in early December, but by no means fully functional.”

Alexei (with Mike McInerney) at Tricon, the 1966 Worldcon. Photo by and (c) Andrew Porter.

(10) MIDDLE-EARTH PENMANSHIP. “J.R.R. Tolkien Writes in Elvish” – I didn’t know there was video of this!

(11) BUKATO OBIT. Polish fan Wiktor Bukato died July 26, 2021 reports Scientifiction #70. Bukato was a translator and publisher specializing in sff, who received the “Karel” award (for the best translator) from World SF in 1987. He also won the Big Heart Award in 1987. Bukato chaired the European Science Fiction Society from 1991-1993 and was a vice-chair for two more years.  And he was a past member of SFWA.

(12) MEMORY LANE.

2012 [Item by Cat Eldridge.] A decade ago, Jo Walton’s Among Others wins the Best Novel Hugo at Chicon 7 where John Scalzi was Toastmaster. It was her first Hugo nomination. Other nominated works that year were China Miéville‘s Embassytown, James S. A. Corey‘s Leviathan Wakes (the first in the Expanse series), Mira Grant‘s Deadline and George R. R. Martin’s A Dance With Dragons. It would also win the BFA Robert Holdstock Award for Best Fantasy Novel and a Nebula along with being nominated for both Mythopoeic Fantasy Award for Adult Literature and the World Fantasy Award. 

(13) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born January 11, 1906 John Myers Myers. Ahhh, Silverlock. I read the NESFA Edition which has the Silverlock Companion in it which is very useful as you know the novel’s very meta indeed. If you don’t have this, it was reprinted separately later. Thirty years after Silverlock was published, The Moon’s Fire-Eating Daughter novella came out. Myers claims it’s a sequel to Silverlock. (Died 1988.)
  • Born January 11, 1923 Jerome Bixby. His “It’s a Good Life” story became  the basis for an episode of the original Twilight Zone episode under the same name and which was included in Twilight Zone: The Movie. He also wrote four episodes for the original Star Trek series: “Mirror, Mirror”, “Day of the Dove”, “Requiem for Methuselah”, and “By Any Other Name”. With Otto Klement, he co-wrote the story upon which Fantastic Voyage series is based, and the Isaac Asimov novel were based. Bixby’s final produced or published work so far was the screenplay for The Man from Earth film. (Died 1998.)
  • Born January 11, 1924 William Johnston. A prolific tie-in novelist who did nine Get Smart novels plus ones for BewitchedThe MunstersChitty Chitty Bang BangDick Tracy and five for The Flying Nun series. He did only three non-tie-in novels. (Died 2010.)
  • Born January 11, 1930 Rod Taylor. First SFF role would be as Israel Hands in Long John Silver. He would follow that up with World Without End (which you probably heard of), the Hugo-nominated The Time MachineColossus and the Amazon Queen (Taylor claimed to have rewritten the script though there’s no proof of this), The Birds (I really don’t like it), Gulliver’s Travels, One Hundred and One Dalmatians and last, and certainly least, The Warlord: Battle for the Galaxy. (Died 2015.)
  • Born January 11, 1937 Felix Silla. He played Cousin Itt (sic) on The Addams Family in a role invented for the show. The voice was not done by him but rather provided by sound engineer Tony Magro in post-production. He was also responsible for the physical performance of Twiki on Buck Rogers in the 25th Century though the voice was supplied by Mel Blanc or Bob Elyea. And he played an unnamed Ewok on Return of the Jedi. (Died 2021.)
  • Born January 11, 1952 Diana Gabaldon, 70. I have friends who read her and enjoy immensely her Outlander series. They also avidly look forward to every new episode of the Outlander television series. Any of y’all fans of either? 
  • Born January 11, 1961 Jasper Fforde, 61. I read and thoroughly enjoyed every one of his Thursday Next novels, with their delightfully twisted word play, as I did his Nursery Crimes series. I thought a few years ago when I wrote a Birthday note that I had not read his Shades of Grey books and I was right — I now know that I read the first few chapters of the first one and wasn’t impressed enough to finish it. I do know I’ve not read the Dragonslayer series though I’ve heard Good Things about them. Who’s read them? 
  • Born January 11, 1963 Jason Connery, 59. Son of Sir Sean Connery. He’s best known for appearing in the third series of Robin of Sherwood, a series I loved dearly including the music which was done by Clannad which I’ve got live boots of. He also played Jondar in the Vengeance on Varosstory on Doctor Who during the Sixth Doctor era (my least favorite Doctor). He was Ian Fleming in Spymaker: The Secret Life of Ian Fleming. And he was a young Merlin in Merlin: The Quest Begins.

(14) COMICS SECTION.

  • In PVP, Brent and Jade experience the difficulties associated with modern parenting. Tolkien figures into today’s problem!
  • The Argyle Sweater shows the unsuspected cause of a weather phenomenon.
  • Bizarro has a “walks into a bar” story you won’t have thought of before.

(15) I SAY HELLO AND YOU SAY GOODBYE. Den of Geek’s Andrew Blair shares his opinion about the Doctor Who series’ climactic transitions: “Doctor Who: Ranking the Doctor’s Regenerations”. He like this one the absolute least:

12. Time and the Rani (1987)

Colin Baker to Sylvester McCoy

Time and the Rani’ is all over the place. I wouldn’t say it’s the worst story ever, because while it’s a lacklustre romp remembered mainly for its camp, it isn’t mean-spirited. Its CBBC tone was imposed by the BBC after the excesses of Season 22, but it manages a genuinely good cliffhanger to its first episode, and Sylvester McCoy’s performance – while also all over the place – does contain a few moments that showed where he would later take the character.

However, as a regeneration story it has to be bottom of the list because it’s a complete failure. Even allowing for the version written where Colin Baker appeared in all four episodes and regenerated at the end, he would have sacrificed himself in a similar way to Beyus: waiting behind (unnecessarily as it happens) to make sure some bombs went off and thwart the Rani’s plans.

(16) THE COMING CONCATENATION. [Item by Jonathan Cowie.] SF² Concatenation has just tweeted its final advance post for its spring season edition. This edition sees two conreports: yes, real life, physical cons are slowly coming back. This one is on the 31st Festival of Fantastic Films.

Though this year saw a return of the Fest after last year’s cancellation due to CoVID-19, despite a vaccination programme, CoVID was still with us. As with other conventions, the Fest had to take CoVID into account, but being smaller could get away with a looser arrangement. The Fest’s organisers invited attendees to wear masks/face protection at their own personal choice, and many decided to opt to do so; in addition, a system of coloured wristbands was employed, allowing everyone to select and prominently display their preference (no contact, a measure of personal interaction, or full-on hugs and handshakes). This seemed to operate highly effectively.”

“Another casualty of the circumstances was that Gil’s proposed guest line-up had to be scrapped at the eleventh hour. Half a dozen intended personal appearances/Q&A sessions were abandoned, and Kate was left with the seemingly insurmountable problem of filling the gap. Luckily, the already-booked Frazer Hines confirmed his continued availability; in something of a master stroke, Kate carefully scanned ‘what’s on in Manchester’ and was able to provide a truly stellar surprise second guest in the form of Britt Ekland, who just happened to be in the area at the right time! Britt had been touring the UK as part of an ensemble cast in Bill Kenwright’s stage revival of The Cat and the Canary, the best-known version of which is Bob Hope’s version of John Willard’s venerable warhorse of a thunderstorm mystery, now almost a century old.”

(17) SCIENCE-LIKE FICTION. Joachim Boaz muses about the many examples of “Charts, Diagrams, Forms, and Tables in Science Fiction (John Brunner, Larry Niven, Christopher Priest, John Sladek, et al.)” in Science Fiction and Other Suspect Ruminations (From 2017, but it’s news to me!) Includes lots of examples scanned from book pages.

…As of late I’ve been fascinated by pseudo-knowledge in science fiction and speculative fiction–the scholarly afterward in The Iron Dream (1972), the real medical citations in The Hospital Ship (1976), the invented medical citations in Doctor Rat (1976), and “diagrammatic” SF covers filled with maps or anthropological diagrams.

Whatever form it takes, pseudo-knowledge—perhaps derived from our world or even “real” knowledge in our world modified and inserted into another imaginary one—adds, at the most basic level, a veneer of veracity…. 

(18) GENRE ONSCREEN POPULARITY. JustWatch ranked the Top 10 genre movies and TV shows from December 2021. Genre data is sourced from themoviedb.org.

Top 10 Sci-Fi Movies and TV Shows in the US in December (01.12.-31.12.21)

Rank*MoviesTV shows
1Spider-Man: HomecomingStation Eleven
2Spider-Man: Far From HomeThe Wheel of Time
3The Amazing Spider-ManHawkeye
4Don’t Look UpDoctor Who
5Spider-ManThe Expanse
6Venom: Let There Be CarnageRick and Morty
7DuneLost in Space
8The Amazing Spider-Man 2Resident Alien
9Spider-Man: No Way HomeArcane
10Free GuyOutlander

(19) PARKING SPACE. “Stunning STAR WARS Diorama Features a Floating Millennium Falcon”Nerdist sets the frame.

…So, what exactly went into making this cool Star Wars display piece? For starters, Glen Makes used a Revell Snaptite Build and Play Star Wars: The Last Jedi Millennium Falcon 1:164 scale model. Next, they got themselves a Stirlingkit 1000g DIY Magnetic Levitation Module Floating Display Kit. Some Tap acrylic circles and clear plastic rods. Collectively, it cost around $200 to create. But the final product looks well worth it. Who wouldn’t want a Millenium Falcon as their display centerpiece?

(20) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In “Honest Game Trailers: Halo Infinite,” Fandom Games notes that in the seventh Halo game the bad guys are still trying to destroy the universe by completing the halo, even though they failed at this in the six previous games.  Also, you can play this for free in multiplayer mode and enjoy “causing a mid-life crisis in a frat guy” when you kill off his character.

[Thanks to Andrew Porter, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, Dann, Kate Yeazel, Chris Barkley, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Jamoche.]

Pixel Scroll 12/29/21 Whoever Said One Is The Loneliest Number Never Met A Tribble

(1) DRUMROLL, PLEASE! Cora Buhlert presents “The 2021 Darth Vader Parenthood Award for Outstandingly Horrible Fictional Parents”.

…This summer, an unexpected candidate in the form of King Randor of Eternia threw his hat or rather his crown in the ring. Now Randor has never been a stellar parents by any means, as chronicled in more than 100 episodes of the original Masters of the Universe cartoon. He not only completely fails to notice that his son Prince Adam is also the superhero He-Man despite the fact that in the original cartoon, He-Man is basically Adam with a tan and his clothes off, but also constantly berates Adam for not being whatever Randor expects from his son….

But this guy does not get the award – in fact, two even worse finalists finished ahead of him. And believe me, this is an extremely entertaining post!

(2) ROSE PARADE GRAND MARSHAL. Look for him on New Year’s Day:“LeVar Burton Talks About COVID Precautions And What The Rose Parade Means To Him” at LAist.

…When Burton found out about his selection as Grand Marshal, he said he was “gobsmacked.” The L.A. resident seemed to have been gravitating toward the role since he was a kid.

This year, the Rose Parade’s theme is “Dream, Believe, Achieve.” The credo strikes a particularly personal chord with Burton.

“[The theme] is almost as if it’s a recipe … for my life. My mother … Erma Jean Christian … I am the man that I am because she was the woman that she was. Education was primarily important to her,” Burton said. “My mother had two careers. First, as a teacher of high school English, and then as a social worker. So the values that she established in our family are all about dreaming your personal dream, whatever that is, and believing that you not only can achieve it but deserve it.”

Dreaming and believing that you deserve that dream, those two steps, said Burton, are necessary for anyone hoping to live out the “Dream, Believe, Achieve” theme….

(3) CHALLENGING COLONIZATION. Jerrine Tan finds Dune suffers by comparison to a Miyazaki classic: “Fear Is the Mind Killer; What Enlivens the Mind? — Dune’s Alt-Victimhood and Radical Nonviolence in Nausicaä in the LA Review of Books.

Dune in 2021, unchanged in its plot, but imagining an underclass of native people as made up of a smattering of different ethnicities (mostly Brown and Black), embodies what David M. Higgins calls “imperial fantasy” and “alt-victimhood” in his latest book, Reverse Colonization (2021). Higgins describes a genre of reverse colonization narratives in which audiences “who are most often the beneficiaries of empire [are invited] to imagine what it feels like to be on the receiving end of imperial conquest,” provoking audiences to “identify as colonized victims.” It’s hardly surprising, then, that white supremacists have long cathected to Frank Herbert’s Dune, and white nationalists — a group that feels threatened by the presence of people of color, and increasingly aggrieved and attacked by liberal pushes to address systemic racism — have eagerly anticipated Villeneuve’s latest adaptationAs Jordan Carroll succinctly sums up: “Fascists love Dune.” Suddenly, the privileged chosen one — the imperialist who is also the Christ figure — becomes the suffering victim deserving of sympathy. In this way, identification with victimhood becomes a seductive imperial fantasy for the most privileged in society, what Higgins terms “alt-victimhood.”…

… In this mode, a revisit of another 1984 film about a similar ecodystopian future can uncover a more radical and historically grounded politics apt for our contemporary moment. Hayao Miyazaki’s early animated film Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind (1984) drew inspiration from the fantasy world of Herbert’s Dune and shares uncanny similarities with the Dune film adaptations: where Dune has giant sandworms, Nausicaä has the Ohmu; where Dune has desert, Nausicaä the Sea of Decay; Dune the Harkonnens, Nausicaä the Tolmekians. Instead of yet another imperially appointed master, in Nausicaä, the people are led by a daring princess, one who leads by example and is beloved by her people; one who resists imperial expansionists, but not at the cost of her own people; and most importantly, one who radically chooses nonviolent action against all possible defense of rational violence, and eventually achieves harmony through cooperation and understanding.

Ursula K. Le Guin once said that “[t]o use the world well, to be able to stop wasting it and our time in it, we need to relearn our being in it.” Crucially, Nausicaä imagines a new way of being in the world by radically reframing our relation to it and our understanding of it. Instead of a desert, the inhospitable environment in Nausicaä is known as the Sea of Decay. But far from a dying and deadened milieu, the Sea of Decay is in fact brimming with life….

(4) ONCE AND FUTURE SPIDER-MEN. If you can’t find enough spoilers in the introductory paragraphs of Camestros Felapton’s “Review: Spider-Man and Hawkeye, MCU stuff, spoilers etc” he promises there are lots more below the fold!

(5) LOOKING BACK. Anime UK News begins its year-end retrospective with “Anime UK News Review of 2021 Part 1: Anime”.

After the difficulties of 2020 – in which we were all really grateful for the ability to stream and watch at home – 2021 has been an odd blend of lockdown and modified freedom. Scotland Loves Anime (and its regional offshoots) triumphantly brought live audiences back to the cinema. Funimation has managed to have anime screenings in many local cinemas. As for the world of streaming and simulcast, in August we had the official confirmation that Sony’s Funimation Global Group had acquired Crunchyroll. How this will all pan out for viewers/subscribers remains to be seen. Earlier, Manga Entertainment became Funimation UK, bringing an end to a famous label and uniting streaming, home video and cinema releases under the same name.

With all these changes, how has the anime-viewing experience been for the fans? Has there been too much material available on streaming services ranging from Netflix and Amazon Prime to dedicated companies like Crunchyroll and Funimation, leading to a dip in quality? Our writers have been looking back at their favourites from 2021 and are here to share their thoughts. Let us know what your ’21 favourite have been too!

(6) BORROWED TIMES. “NYC Libraries Release Their Top Checkouts Of 2021”Gothamist has the lists, which include a couple works of genre interest.

The NYPL Systemwide (the Bronx, Manhattan & Staten Island)

  1. The Vanishing Half: A Novel by Brit Bennett
  2. Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia
  3. Klara and the Sun: A Novel by Kazuo Ishiguro
  4. A Promised Land by Barack Obama
  5. Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents by Isabel Wilkerson
  6. The Guest List: A Novel by Lucy Foley
  7. Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens
  8. Maybe You Should Talk to Someone: A Therapist, Her Therapist, and Our Lives Revealed by Lori Gottlieb
  9. The Other Black Girl: A Novel by Zakiya Dalila Harris
  10. Malibu Rising: A Novel by Taylor Jenkins Reid

(7) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

1967 [Item by Cat Eldridge.] Fifty-four years ago, “The Trouble with Tribbles” first aired  on NBC as written by David Gerrold and directed by Joseph Pevney, with some of the guest cast being Charlie Brill as Arne Darvin, Stanley Adams as Cyrano Jones, Whit Bissell as Station Manager Lurry, Michael Pataki as Korax. 

Memory Alpha says ”Wah Chang designed the original tribbles. Hundreds were sewn together during production, using pieces of extra-long rolls of carpet. Some of them had mechanical toys placed in them so they could walk around.” 

Memory Alpha also notes Heinlein had Martian flat cats in The Rolling Stones that were similar to these and Roddenberry called to apologize for these being so similar. My understanding is that they brought the issue to Heinlein’s attention and asked for permission to continue. To their surprise, he granted it in exchange for a signed copy of the episode’s script.

(I know that Heinlein’s authorized biography contradicts this story. Really contradicts this story.) 

It would come in second in the Hugo balloting at BayCon to “The City on the Edge of Forever” written by Harlan Ellison. All five final Hugo nominees at BayCon were Trek episodes written by Jerome Bixby, Norman Spinrad and Theodore Sturgeon.

David Gerrold wrote a book on his experiences in the creation of this episode, The Trouble with Tribbles: The Birth, Sale and Final Production of One Episode. He did a children’s book as well, Too Many Tribbles!.

There would be two more Trek stories done with Tribbles. “More Tribbles, More Troubles”, the fifth episode of the first season of the animated series riffed off them. And of course Deep Space Nine would revisit the story in “Trials and Tribble-ations” which blended seamlessly footage from the original episode with new video including the Charlie Brill character. It, too, would be nominated for a Hugo, this time at LoneStarCon 2. (Babylon 5’s “Severed Dreams” won.) 

Tribbles have been also seen in other Trek episodes and films, including The Search for Spock and the rebooted Star Trek and Star Trek Into Darkness. They also appeared in Enterprise’s “The Breach”.  Phlox uses them as food for his creatures in sickbay. Which is either truly disgusting or really appropriate given how prolific they are. Or both.

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born December 29, 1901 William H. Ritt. US cartoonist and author, whose best known strip, Brick Bradford, was SF. Two of the early Thirties strips, Brick Bradford and the City Beneath the Sea and Brick Bradford with Brocco the Mountain Buccaneer, became Big Little books. In 1947, Brick Bradford, a 15-chapter serial film starring Kane Richmond, was produced by Columbia Pictures. (Died 1972.)
  • Born December 29, 1912 Ward Hawkins. Alternative universes! Lizard men as sidekicks! He wrote the Borg and Guss series (Red Flaming BurningSword of FireBlaze of Wrath and Torch of Fear) which as it features these I really would like to hear as audiobooks. Not that it’s likely as I see he’s not made it even to the digital book realm yet. (Died 1990.)
  • Born December 29, 1928 Bernard Cribbins, 93. He has the odd distinction of first showing up on Doctor Who in the Peter Cushing as The Doctor non-canon Daleks’ Invasion Earth 2150 A.D. film. He would show up in the canon when he appeared as Wilfred Mott in the Tenth Doctor story, “Voyage of the Damned”, and he‘s a Tenth Doctor companion himself in “The End of Time”, the two-part 2009–10 Christmas and New Year special.
  • Born December 29, 1963 Dave McKean, 58. If you read nothing else involving him, do read the work done by him on and Gaiman called The Tragical Comedy or Comical Tragedy of Mr Punch: A Romance. Brilliant, violent, horrifying. Well and Signal to Noise by them is worth chasing down as well. 
  • Born December 29, 1966 Alexandra Kamp, 55. Did you know one of Sax Rohmer’s novels was made into a film? I didn’t. Well, she was the lead in Sax Rohmer’s Sumuru which Michael Shanks also shows up in. She’s also in 2001: A Space Travesty with Leslie Nielsen, and Dracula 3000 with Caspar van Dien. Quality films neither will be be mistaken for, each warranting a fifteen percent rating among audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes. 
  • Born December 29, 1969 Ingrid Torrance, 52. A very busy performer who’s had one- offs in Poltergeist: The LegacyThe SentinelViper, First WaveThe Outer LimitsSeven Days, Smallville, Stargate: SG-1The 4400Blade: The SeriesFringeThe Tomorrow People, R.L. Stine’s The Haunting Hour and Supernatural
  • Born December 29, 1972 Jude Law, 49. I think his first SF role was as Jerome Eugene Morrow in Gattaca followed by playing Gigolo Joe in A.I. with my fave role for him being the title role in Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow. He was Lemony Snicket in Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events, Tony in The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus, Dr. John Watson in Sherlock Holmes and Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows, Remy in Repo Men and he voiced Pitch Black in one of my favorite animated films, Rise of the Guardians.

(9) COMICS SECTION.

(10) BEST PICS OF 2021. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] From Nature’s end-of-year edition, “Images of the year.”

This one is of a 40-million-year-old gnat in amber. Photographed by Levon Biss and it got an honourable mention in the 2021 Nikon Small World Photomicrography Competition. If it were over a score of million years older, then shades of Michael Crichton’s Jurassic Park!

My personal topical favourite of the year, which I downloaded in case I ever needed it for a talk, is a computer simulation of the SARS-CoV-2 virus.  This is also a .gif and an animation.  Alas, I forget the source (it was one of the papers we covered in SF2 Concatenation CoVID coverage during the year) but it is quite a nifty simulation showing spike movement.  This jiggling helps enable it to lock on to human cell membrane proteins giving it access to the cell. To see it, click here.

(11) OVERDUE BOOK. For your Fifties viewing pleasure: The Man From 1997, an episode of the Conflict anthology TV series aired in 1956. In the episode, Charles Ruggles portrays an elderly time-traveling librarian from the future attempting to retrieve a 1997 almanac that he mistakenly left 41 years before it is supposed to exist. I loved one of the comments somebody left – “Damn he from 1997 and he didn’t even ask them if he can smoke in their house.”

The cast also includes actor James Garner. Wikipedia says he caught producer Roy Huggins’ attention with a comedic performance as a gambler in the episode, Huggins to cast Garner as the lead the following year in his television series Maverick, according to Huggins’ Archive of American Television interview.

(12) I’LL FLY AWAY. Click and “See the Faberge x Game of Thrones Dragon Egg That Sold for $2.2M” at The Hollywood Reporter.

That iconic theme song practically starts playing upon laying eyes on Fabergé’s decadent Game of Thrones dragon egg. But if you were hoping to add the $2.22 million hand-forged creation to your collection, well, that Targaryen ship has sailed.

The luxurious “commemorative egg objet” was sold to an anonymous U.S. buyer in April shortly after its announcement and before the nine months of painstaking work was begun by Fabergé workmaster Paul Jones and his team of artisans, global sales director Josina von dem Bussche-Kessell told The Hollywood Reporter….

(13) STILL THINKING ABOUT THEM. New York Times opinion columnist Ezra Klein tweeted a list of recommended books from 2021, and several are sff. Thread starts here.

(14) SFF IN THE EIGHTIES. Nicholas Whyte continues to reacquaint himself with past Hugo-winning novels, discussing the 1983 and 1984 winners in “Blood Music”, by Greg Bear; Startide Rising, by David Brin”.

…And Brin has put a lot of work into thinking about how intelligent creatures with completely different mindsets might work together, especially with the undertones of slavery and colonialism which are the foundation of the series. I really enjoyed revisiting it. Where “Blood Music” is “My God! What if…”, Startide Rising is sensawunda reflecting contemporary debates (as always).

(15) OFF THE BEAM. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] This is from October, but it was news to me! “NYC Mayor de Blasio Explodes Millions of Trekkie Heads By Misidentifying His Star Trek Costume — And BLOWING Prime Directive” at Mediaite.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio set his verbal phasers on “stun” with a shocking display of Star Trek ignorance at a press conference, falsely identifying his uniform and making a complete hash out of Starfleet’s Prime Directive.

The shameful display occurred during a lengthy press conference at which the mayor covered a variety of topics, including having a safe Halloween.

As State Senator Kevin Parker completed his presentation on highspeed broadband, de Blasio appeared onscreen sporting a blue Starfleet shirt with a science department badge and command insignia, an obvious tribute to Commander S’chn T’gai Spock — or Mr. Spock to humans, and Dr. Spock to confused Boomers….

(16) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In “The Method Actor Tutorial” on Screen Rant. Ryan George plays Kurt Truffle, method actor.  Truffle knew he would be a method actor because as a kid, he’d object to losing duck duck goose by speaking in goose language, so the other kids couldn’t understand him.  Truffle claims that method actors can be jerks on the set and in life because method actors will do what it takes to stay in character.

[Thanks to Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, StephenfromOttwa, Michael J. Walsh, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, John King Tarpinian, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day – no, wait, it’s OGH!]

Pixel Scroll 12/17/21 I’m Hermione The Eighth I Am

(1) SAVE THE BEBOP. The Change.org petition to “Save the live action Cowboy Bebop” now has over 18,000 signatures. Comic Book Resources‘ Kellie Lacey’s report “Cowboy Bebop Fans Launch Petition to Save the Cancelled Netflix Series” notes:

Cowboy Bebop premiered on Nov. 19 but was axed by the streaming service less than three weeks later, on Dec. 9….

…Several fans have left comments along with signatures on the petition. One such message says, “I loved the anime, and I loved this live-action adaptation. Please, please, produce more!” Other signees expressed their gratitude and sympathy for the creators, saying, “This team put a lot of hard work into this project for the sake of the fans and deserve to see the vision through to its full potential.”…

(2) WORLDCON CHAIR ON BBC. BBC World’s Victoria Fritz had DisCon III chair Mary Robinette Kowal on the air, and tweeted the video clip afterwards.

(3) SILVERBERG STREAK. Robert Silverberg maintained his record of participating in consecutive Worldcons since he attended his first in the Fifties when his previously-recorded conversation with DisCon III GoH Nancy Kress was shown as part of the program on December 16.

(4) PUT THEM ON THE MAP. Aviation pioneers Sally Ride and Bessie Coleman have been honored by having features on Pluto named after them reports NASA.

More than 60 years after Bessie Coleman broke the bonds of terra firma to become the first African American woman and Native American to earn a pilot’s license, Sally Ride blasted off aboard shuttle Challenger to become the first American woman in space.

The lives and accomplishments of both women aviation pioneers have now been honored with the naming of landmarks on Pluto. The International Astronomical Union recently approved the names “Coleman Mons” and “Ride Rupes” for two large geological features on the southern hemisphere of Pluto, which itself was explored for the first time by NASA‘s New Horizons spacecraft in 2015. 

Members of the New Horizons mission team proposed the names to the IAU, in line with a convention that Pluto features include those named for “historic pioneers who crossed new horizons in the exploration of the Earth, sea and sky.” 

“Sally Ride and Bessie Coleman were separated by generations, but they are forever connected by their great achievements, which opened doors for women and girls around the world,” said NASA Administrator Bill Nelson. “In breaking barriers they motivated so many women to pursue dreams – and careers – they didn’t think were possible, and their sheer persistence and pursuit of equality inspire people to this day.”

(5) DID YOU HEAR? Spock’s ears have been donated to the Smithsonian. The National Air and Space Museum website shared the details: “The Iconic Ears of Mr. Spock”.

Is there a more iconic set of ears in science fiction than those of Mr. Spock? The half-human, half-Vulcan science officer, first portrayed by Leonard Nimoy in Star Trek: The Original Series and subsequent films, was known for his shrewd intelligence, his cool logic, and his pointed ears.  

We are excited to share that a new prop from Star Trek has joined our collection: a set of Spock ear tips from Nimoy’s personal collection. These ear tips were made for Nimoy to transform into Mr. Spock in the filming of The Original Series and were taken home from set by the actor, who hand-built a display box to keep them safe. We are honored that his children Adam and Julie and the Nimoy family have donated his father’s keepsake ears to the National Air and Space Museum.  

“When he finished filming the original Star Trek series in 1969, my father brought home a small memento to commemorate his three years of dedicated work on the original series—a pair of Spock’s Vulcan ears,” Adam Nimoy shared with us regarding the donation. “Mounted in a black box, those ears have been in our family for over fifty years as a tribute to Dad’s outstanding performances as Mr. Spock and the inspiration and hope that Star Trek have given to generations of fans all over this planet. Today it’s my honor to donate the iconic Spock ears to the National Air and Space Museum, home to the starship Enterprise studio model, where they can be experienced by visitors firsthand. The donation honors Beit T’Shuvah and the Leonard Nimoy COPD Research Fund at UCLA, two organizations supported by our family and dedicated to the Vulcan salutation of long life and prosperity.”…

(6) TREK AUCTION. You can’t own Spock’s ears, but you’re just in time to bid on Yeoman Rand’s signature red Starfleet Uniform with integral miniskirt and black leather, zippered knee boots. They will go on the block in Heritage Auction’s specialty Star Trek Auction on February 22. “Minis Are Maximum Fashion in Star Trek”.

The 1960s were fashionably wild! Vibrantly colored fabrics were cut into new styles and shapes that hadn’t been seen before. Defiant and rebellious not only on the street but also making their impact on movies and TV shows. It’s not surprising to me that Star Trek would also be fashion-forward with the designs of futuristic uniforms. Bill Theiss designed the instantly recognizable utilitarian Starfleet uniforms, but it wasn’t until Grace Lee Whitney “Yeoman Rand” herself approached Theiss with the idea of implementing the fashion styles of the day that miniskirts emerged!… 

Some of the other gear that will be sold includes –

  • William Shatner “Captain Kirk” (3) Piece Alternate Universe from the Episode: “Mirror, Mirror” of Star Trek: The Original Series.
  • Leonard Nimoy “Spock” (2) Piece Alternate Universe Ensemble from the Episode: “Mirror, Mirror” of Star Trek: The Original Series.
  • George Takei “Lt. Sulu” (3) Piece Ensemble from the Episode: “Mirror, Mirror” of Star Trek: The Original Series.
  • BarBara Luna “Marlena” Starfleet Blue Duty Uniform from the Episode: “Mirror, Mirror” of Star Trek: The Original Series.

(7) PULLMAN ADAPTED FOR STAGE. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In the Financial Times behind a paywall, Sarah Hemming reviews The Book of Dust: La Belle Sauvage, an adaptation of Sir Philip Pullman’s 2017 novel playing at the Bridge Theatre through February 28.

Pullman has said the story is about consciousness, but it’s also about conscience.  Moral quandries come thick and fast for young Malcolm (the show’s protagonist):  first instructed by nuns to keep silent about the baby hidden in their priory; then directed by the sinister Marisa Coulter (Ayesha Dharker, silkily nasty) to turn informant on parents and teachers.  In this parallel world, despotic religious organisation The Magisterium is tightening its grip on society.  As Malcolm and Allee discover, ‘good’ is a concept that can be moulded to terrible ends…

…Adapted for stage by Bryony Lavery and directed by fleet wit and customary clarity by Nicholas Hytner, the tale becomes a swirling maelstrom of ideas around a firm core of basic humanity.  On Bob Crowley’s versatile set, beautifully atmospheric video work (Luke Halls) and lighting (Jion Clark) keep the narrative moving, inundating the space with teeming rain and raging waters.

(8) AMBITIOUS VIRTUAL CON. The schedule has been posted for FanFiAddict’s TBRCon 2022, which will be streaming live from January 23-30. More detail about the individual panel items is at the landing page. (Click for larger image.)

(9) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

1971 [Item by Cat Eldridge.] Fifty years ago, Diamonds Are Forever premiered. It was based off the Ian Fleming novel of the same name that he wrote at his Goldeneye estate in Jamaica. It had been published in 1956. It was produced by Harry Saltzman and Albert R. Broccoli from the screenplay by Richard Maibaum and Tom Mankiewicz. 

It is the sixth and final film to star Connery, who returned to the role having declined to reprise the role in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service which instead had George Lazenby in that role, the shortest tenure of any actor in that role. 

Critics in general loved it with Roger Ebert saying that it is “great, absurd fun, not only because it recalls the moods and manners of the sixties (which, being over, now seem safely comprehensible), but also because all of the people connected with the movie obviously know what they are up to.”  It cost just seven million to make and returned nearly one hundred and twenty million at the box office. Very impressive indeed.  It doesn’t have the greatest of ratings at Rotten Tomatoes currently getting just a fifty-eight percent rating from audience reviewers.

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born December 17, 1929 Jacqueline Hill. As the history teacher of Susan Foreman, the Doctor’s granddaughter, in the role of Barbara Wright she was the first Doctor Who companion to appear on-screen in 1963, with her speaking the series’ first lines. (No, I don’t know what they are.) Hill returned in a Fourth Doctor story, “Meglos” as the Tigellan priestess Lexa. She also appeared on two genre anthologies, Out of This World and Tales of The Unexpected. (Died 1993.)
  • Born December 17, 1930 Bob Guccione. The publisher of Penthouse, the much more adult version of Playboy, but also of Omni magazine, the SF zine which had a print version between 1978 and 1995.  A number of now-classic stories first ran there such as Gibson’s “Burning Chrome” and “Johnny Mnemonic”, as well as Card’s “Unaccompanied Sonata” and even Harlan Ellison’s novella, Mephisto in Onyx which was on the Hugo ballot at ConAdian but finished sixth in voting. The first Omni digital version was published on CompuServe in 1986 and the magazine switched to a purely online presence in 1996.  It ceased publication abruptly in late 1997, following the death of co-founder Kathy Keeton, his wife. (Died 2010.)
  • Born December 17, 1944 Jack L. Chalker. I really, really enjoyed a lot of his Well World series, and I remember reading quite a bit of his other fiction down the years and I loved his short story collection, Dance Band on the Titanic. Which of his other myriad series have you read and enjoyed?  I find it really impressive that he attended every Worldcon from except one, from 1965 until 2004. One of our truly great members of the SF community as was a member of the Washington Science Fiction Association and was involved in the founding of the Baltimore Science Fiction Society. I was surprised that his Hugo nominations were all for not for his fiction, but twice for Best Amateur Magazine for his Mirage zines at Chicon IIII and Discon, and once for Best Non-fiction Book for The Science-Fantasy Publishers: A Critical and Bibliographic History at MagiCon. (Died 2005.)
  • Born December 17, 1945 Ernie Hudson, 76. Best known for his roles as Winston Zeddemore in the original Ghostbusters films, and as Sergeant Darryl Albrecht in The Crow. I’m reasonably sure his first SF role was as Washington in Spacehunter: Adventures in the Forbidden Zone, a few years before the first Ghostbusters film. Depending on how flexible your definition of genre is, he’s been in a fair number of genre films including LeviathanShark AttackHood of HorrorDragonball Evolution, voice work in Ultraman Zero: The Revenge of Belial, and, look there’s a DC animated movie in his resume! as he voiced Lucius Fox in the superb Batman: Bad Blood. He’s in the just out Ghostbusters: Afterlife
  • Born December 17, 1953 Bill Pullman, 68. First SF role was as Lone Starr in Spaceballs, a film I’ll freely admit I watched but once which was more than enough.  He next appears in The Serpent and the Rainbow which is damn weird before playing the lead in the even weirder Brain Dead. Now we come to Independence Day and I must say I love his character and the film a lot.   Post-Independence Day, he went weird again showing up in Lake Placid which is a lot of fun and also voiced Captain Joseph Korso in the animated Titan A.E. film. Which at least in part was written by Joss Whedon.   He reprises his Thomas J. Whitmore character in Independence Day: Resurgence which I’ve not seen. 
  • Born December 17, 1954 J.M. Dillard, 67. Yes, I know this is a pen name but I’m interested only in her Trek output tonight. She’s written at least fifteen tie-ins starting with Star Trek: Mindshadow in the mid Eighties And her last seemingly being Star Trek: The Next Generation: Resistance in the late Oughts. She also wrote one of the many, many non-fiction works that came out on TrekStar Trek: ‘Where No One Has Gone Before’: A History in Pictures, which was actually largely written by Roddenberry’s assistant on a work for hire contract as a another book that didn’t get published, a woman named Susan Sackett. Memory Alpha has the story here.
  • Born December 17, 1973 Rian Johnson, 48. Director responsible for the superb Hugo nominated Looper, also Star Wars: The Last Jedi  which was Hugo nominated and Knives Out. I know, it’s not even genre adjacent. It’s just, well, I liked Gosford Park, so what can I say about another film deliciously similar to it? He has a cameo as an Imperial Technician in Rogue One, and he voices Bryan in the BoJack Horseman series which is definitely genre. 
  • Born December 17, 1975 Milla Jovovich, 46. First SFF appearence was as Leeloo de Sabat in The Fifth Element, a film which still gets a very pleasant WTF? from me whenever I watch it. She was also Alice in the Resident Evil franchise which is seven films strong and running so far. I see she shows up as Milady de Winter in a Three Musketeers I never heard of which is odd is it’s a hobby of mind to keep track of those films, and plays Nimue, The Blood Queen in the rebooted Hellboy. 

(11) COMICS SECTION.

(12) MARVEL REVISITS 1962. It turns out that June 1962 was an important month in the history of Marvel comics – it’s the month Spider-Man made his debut in Amazing Fantasy #15. But that wasn’t the only thing going on, and the forthcoming Marvel: June 1962 Omnibus highlights these Marvel milestones:

  • Thor first held aloft the hammer Mjolnir.
  • Hank Pym donned his cybernetic helmet, becoming Ant-Man.
  • The FF squared off against Namor and Doctor Doom.
  • Kid Colt mixed it up with the Circus of Crime.
  • Millie the Model got mixed up in more Hanover hijinks.
  • Patsy and Hedy worked on their frenemy-ship.
  • Star-crossed lovers dealt with the ups and downs of romance, all while tales of horror and fantasy stories crept from the pages of titles like Strange Tales.

 The volume arrives in June 2022. In the tradition of the recent Marvel: August 1961 omnibus which celebrated the Fantastic Four’s debut, the Marvel: June 1962 Omnibus will collect every comic from this month of Marvel milestones: Journey Into Mystery (1952) #83; Amazing Fantasy (1962) #15; Tales To Astonish (1959) #35; Kathy #18; Life With Millie #18; Patsy Walker #102; Kid Colt, Outlaw #106; Fantastic Four (1961) #6; Linda Carter, Student Nurse #7; Millie The Model #110; Strange Tales (1951) #100; Tales Of Suspense (1959) #33; Love Romances #101; Incredible Hulk (1962) #3; Gunsmoke Western #72; Patsy And Hedy #84 And Rawhide Kid (1955) #30.

(13) SUPERINFLATION. “Up, up and they pay: $2.6M winning bid for Superman #1 comic”AP News has the story.

A rare copy of a Superman #1 comic book that sold on newsstands for a dime in 1939 was purchased for $2.6 million in an auction.

The comic showing Superman leaping over tall buildings on the cover was sold Thursday night to a buyer who wishes to maintain a secret identity, according to ComicConnect.com, an online auction and consignment company.

The seller, Mark Michaelson, bought the comic in 1979 from its original owner and kept it in a temperature-controlled safe. Michaelson, now semi-retired and living in Houston, paid his way through college by buying and selling comics….

(14) CHECKING IN. Androids and Assets podcast about the “political economy of science fiction” did a Q&A with Cat Rambo: “Where You From: In conversation with Cat Rambo”.

Marshall and Steve sit down with the brilliant and ever didactic Cat Rambo to discuss their newest book You Sexy Thing. Out now.

(15) WHAT KEEPS HIM WATCHING? [Item by Ben Bird Person.] Mythbuster‘s Adam Savage lists his favorite media for 2021 in this YouTube video. Among them are DuneGhostbusters: AfterlifeThe Good PlaceLoki, and Project Hail Mary.

(16) WALK, DON’T WALK. Camestros Felapton and Timothy the Talking Cat conspire to give us “The Cat Who Walks Through Omelas”.

…Camestros: Well…OK…let’s go with that then. It’s called “Omelas” and it is like a really excellent version of Bristol.
Timothy: Great! Well, that was a great story. Could have done with more action but at least it was wholesome and positive and featured pirates.
Camestros:…but there’s a twist…
Timothy: Oh no! I should have seen that coming! There’s always a twist!…

(17) A DIZZYING EXPERIENCE. You can see all the finalists and vote in the Best Illusion of the Year Contest 2021 at the link.

In this pandemic era the Contest needs your support more than ever. Any amount that you can contribute will ensure that the Contest remains free for all who enjoy spectacular misperceptions, and also for the contestants who submit illusions from anywhere in the planet, completely free of charge.

(18) THE PLAN FROM S.A.N.T.A. The Late Show With Stephen Colbert presents “A Conspiracy Carol”.

It’s Christmas Eve, and Santa is about to certify the Naughty & Nice List in the Klaus of Representatives, when he’s interrupted by a “Stop the Sleigh” rally, fueled by the shadowy internet cult “Scrooge-Anon.” Will Christmas survive a full-scale tinsel-rection led by Ted Cruz and Marjorie Taylor Greene? Only Santa and Mrs. Claus stand in their un-merry way.

[Thanks to Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Ben Bird Person, Dan Bloch, Bill, Dann, Andrew Porter, Michael Toman, and Cat Eldridge for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]

Pixel Scroll 12/15/21 A Pixel Upon The Deep

(1) CHENGDU MARATHON LIVESTREAM CONTINUES. The Chengdu Worldcon bid livestream was noted in yesterday’s Scroll. Alison Scott took a look at it and reported in a comment here —

The Chengdu bid has been running a stream each evening (11:00 – 14:00 UTC) on Chinese Youtube/Twitch style site bilibili, featuring SF authors and other celebrities encouraging Chinese SF fans (of whom there are millions of course) to join DisCon III and vote for Chengdu.

The link to the stream is here. Although i couldn’t understand the stream, I used Google Translate to read the chat; full of SF fans, mostly students, talking about their favourite books, movies and tv shows and asking how to set up a local SF club in their area.

(2) TOMORROW PRIZE DEADLINE. There’s less than one week left for Los Angeles County high school students to enter their short sci-fi stories in The Tomorrow Prize and The Green Feather Award competitions. Full details at the Omega Sci-Fi Awards website. Those feeling the pressure should read “5 Things that Inspire” by Clare Hooper.

With the deadline approaching, many find it intimidating to start writing. Writer’s block is the worst. But the best cure for writer’s block is finding a good place to start, and that may mean inspiration. Here are five things that inspired previous winners and honorable mentions of The Tomorrow Prize and The Green Feather Award to write:

1: Anime

The accessibility and popularity of anime has only gotten wider in recent years. With so many shows in dozens of genres, it’s easy to find something you may want to put your own spin on. Omega Sci-Fi Awards Student Ambassador and Tomorrow Prize Finalist, Gwendolyn Lopez found inspiration through Studio Ghibli films. These films usually have a thin line between the mundane and the fantastical, thus inspiring Gwendolyn to give a more introspective feel to her story, Star Sailor. Ethan Kim, an honorable mention for The Tomorrow Prize, took inspiration from a different anime show, Dororo, which features a young man roaming the countryside fighting demons. Dororo inspired the themes of godlike figures and a battlefield setting in his story Cold Ashes….

(3) TOP GRAPHIC NOVEL. “Bechdel’s ‘Secret to Superhuman Strength’ Wins PW’s 2021 Graphic Novel Critics Poll” announced Publishers Weekly.

The Secret to Superhuman Strength (Mariner) by Alison Bechdel lands on the top spot of PW’s annual Graphic Novel Critics Poll, garnering seven votes from a panel of 15 critics. A groundbreaking queer author and a true household name in contemporary comics, Bechdel is best known for her widely acclaimed 2006 graphic family memoir Fun Home.

In The Secret to Superhuman Strength, her long-anticipated third memoir, Bechdel celebrates the fads and fanaticism of fitness culture—including her own obsession with physical self-improvement—using the phenomenon as a lens through which to examine both queer and American culture writ large…. 

(4) RAISING KANE. Cora Buhlert posted a new Fancast Spotlight, featuring The Dark Crusade, a podcast focused on the works of Karl Edward Wagner: “Fancast Spotlight: The Dark Crusade”.

… Therefore, I’m happy to welcome Jordan Douglas Smith of The Dark Crusade to my blog:

Tell us about your podcast or channel.

The Dark Crusade is dedicated to the life and work of writer/editor/publisher Karl Edward Wagner. We are systematically moving through his work, discussing it from a historical and literary lens. In addition to the podcast, we have a companion blog that covers additional facts about the stories, links to scholarship, and overviews of some of the collections Wagner has edited….

(5) TAFF VOTING OPENS TODAY. Trans-Atlantic Fan Fund administrators Johan Anglemark and Geri Sullivan are now accepting ballots for the 2022 TAFF race. It will close on April 19, 2022, after Reclamation (Eastercon) in London.

You can download the fill-in form ballot here (US Letter; A4 will follow shortly). It has the candidates’ platforms, the names of their nominators, and the voting instructions. Voting is open to anyone active in fandom before April 2020 who donates at least £3 (GBP), €3 (EUR), or $4 (USD) to TAFF. Voting is also possible online here.

Competing for the honor are these four great fans: Anders Holmström (Sweden), Fia Karlsson (Sweden), Mikolaj Kowalewski (Poland), and Julie Faith McMurray (UK). One of them will make a TAFF trip to Chicon 8, the 80th World Science Fiction Convention in September, 2022.

(6) CAST A WIDE NET. [Item by Cora Buhlert] The Pulp Net has an article about Fritz Leiber, Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser by Don Herron: “Three sought adventure”. What struck me about this is that Herron not only knew Leiber, but also met Harry Otto Fisher, on whom Mouser was based and the resemblance was apparently uncanny.

… “Two Sought Adventure” saw print that August in the pulp Unknown — the first professional sale for Fritz Leiber Jr., who would go on to become one of the most-awarded writers in 20th-century imaginative literature.

The characters introduced, the barbarian Fafhrd and the wily Gray Mouser — the two best thieves in Lankhmar, and the two best swordsmen — would have many more adventures with the author till the end of his life….

(7) I’VE HEARD THAT NAME BEFORE. It appears to be Fritz Leiber month, because Grimdark Magazine also has an article about him by Ryan Howse: “The works of Fritz Leiber”.

… During their adventures, they battled men, magicians, and monsters, were in the power of two bizarre wizards who obviously did not have their best interests at heart, faced down the incarnation of death, survived the poverty of lean times in Lankhmar, climbed the world’s largest mountain on a whim, and plenty more. Their quests were often them following a rumour for fun or profit, with no grander schemes in mind….

(8) RAMA LAMA. “Dune Director Denis Villeneuve to Adapt Arthur C. Clarke’s Rendezvous with Rama”Tor.com has the story.

Filmmaker Denis Villeneuve is heading from Arrakis to Rama. After he finishes up Dune: Part Two (which was greenlit after Dune: Part One’s commercial success), the director will take on a feature adaptation of Arthur C. Clarke’s Rendezvous with Rama….

(9) OFF THE BEAM. Camestros Felapton has his own cat-themed series – Timothy the Talking Cat in the spirit of Zelig: “Missing Moments from Movie History: The Carbonite Manoeuvre”. Picture at the link.

An infamous cat-related accident on the set of the Empire Strikes Back resulted in this unfortunate outcome….

(10) ON THE DIAL. At BBC Sounds, The Exploding Library series begins with “Mother Night, by Kurt Vonnegut”.

In this new literature series, a trio of comedians explode and unravel their most cherished cult books, paying homage to the tone and style of the original text – and blurring and warping the lines between fact and fiction.

“We are what we pretend to be. So we must be careful about what we pretend to be.”

So reads the warning at the beginning of the novel Mother Night, in an author’s introduction written by Kurt Vonnegut himself. Yet in this world of unreliable narrators, editor’s “corrections” and weirdly omniscient first-person testimony, nothing is really what it seems.

Purportedly the “confessions of Howard J. Campbell Jr”, an American expat-turned Nazi propagandist-turned Allied spy (allegedly), Vonnegut’s warped collection of bizarre characters and slippery narratives invite us to cast aside our black and white notions of morals and guilt and survey the gazillions of greys in between.

Comedian Daliso Chaponda considers the strange world of people playing versions of themselves in public – comedians, spies, politicians and, to an extent, all of us. How do you deal with people perceiving you differently to your “real” self? And, for that matter, how do you know who you “really” are?

(11) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

1974 [Item by Cat Eldridge.] Forty-seven years ago, Mel Brooks’ Young Frankenstein premieres. The screenplay was co-written by Brooks and Gene Wilder who plays the lead role. The rest of the cast was Peter Boyle, Marty Feldman, Cloris Leachman, Teri Garr, Kenneth Mars and Madeline Kahn. 

The film was shot in black and white with the lab equipment there originally used as props for the 1931 film Frankenstein as created by Kenneth Strickfaden.

Brooks has often said that he considers it by far his finest although not his funniest film as a writer-director. Reception for it was generally very good with Roger Ebert saying it was his “most disciplined and visually inventive film (it also happens to be very funny).”  It won a Hugo at Aussiecon. It was a fantastic box office success earning eighty-six million on a budget of just three million. Audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes give it near perfect rating of ninety-two percent. 

Mel Brooks would later adapt this into a musical that would run both off Broadway and on Broadway.

(12) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born December 15, 1923 Freeman Dyson. Physicist best known in genre circles for the concept he theorized of a Dyson Sphere which would be built by a sufficiently technologically advanced species around a sun to harvest all solar energy. He credited Olaf Stapledon in Star Maker (1937), in which he described “every solar system… surrounded by a gauze of light traps, which focused the escaping solar energy for intelligent use” with first coming up with the concept. (Died 2020.)
  • Born December 15, 1937 John Sladek. Weird and ambitious would be ways to describe his work. The Complete Roderick Is quite amazing, as is Tik-Tok, which won a BSFA, and Bugs is as well. He did amazing amounts of short fiction, much of which is collected finally in the ironically named Maps: The Uncollected John Sladek. He is generously stocked at the usual suspects. (Died 2000.)
  • Born December 15, 1951 David Bischoff. His “Tin Woodman” which was written with Dennis Bailey and nominated for a Nebula would be adapted into a Next Generation story. He also wrote the Next Gen story “First Contact” (with Dennis Russell Bailey, Joe Menosky, Ronald D. Moore and Michael Piller.) And he continued the Bill the Galactic Hero story with Harry Harrison.  He’s also written a kickass excellent Farscape novel, Ship of Ghosts. (Died 2018.)
  • Born December 15, 1952 Marta DuBoi. Her first genre role is on the Starman series as Dr. Ellen Dukowin the “Fever” episode though you’ll likely better recognize her as Ardra on the “Devil’s Due” episode of the Next Generation. She also had roles on The Land of The LostThe Trial of the Incredible Hulk and Tales of the Golden Monkey. (Died 2018.)
  • Born December 15, 1953 Robert Charles Wilson, 68. He’s got a Hugo Award for Spin, a John W. Campbell Memorial Award for The Chronoliths, a Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award for the “The Cartesian Theater” novelette and Prix Aurora Awards for the Blind Lake and Darwinia novels. He also garnered a Philip K. Dick Award for Mysterium. Very, very mpressive indeed. 
  • Born December 15, 1954 Alex Cox, 67. Ahhh, the Director who back in the early Eighties gave us Repo Man. And that he got a co-writer credit for the screenplay of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas before it was completely rewritten by Gilliam. As you know he directed a student film version of Harry Harrison’s Bill, the Galactic Hero at University of Colorado Boulder just a few years ago!
  • Born December 15, 1963 Helen Slater, 58. She was Supergirl in the film of that name, and returned to the 2015 Supergirl TV series as Supergirl’s adoptive mother. Also within the DC Universe, she voiced Talia al Ghul in in Batman: The Animated Series. Recently she also voiced Martha Kent in DC Super Hero Girls: Hero of the Year. And Lara in Smallville… And Eliza Danvers on the  Supergirl series..   Her other genre appearences include being on SupernaturalEleventh HourToothlessDrop Dead Diva and the very short-lived Agent X
  • Born December 15, 1970 Michael Shanks, 51. Best known for playing Dr. Daniel Jackson in the very long-running Stargate SG-1 franchise. His first genre appearance was in the Highlander series and he’s been in a lot of genre properties including the Outer LimitsEscape from MarsAndromeda (formally titled Gene Roddenberry’s Andromeda and there’s a juicy story there), SwarmedMega Snake, Eureka, Sanctuary, Smallville, Supernatural and Elysium. Wow! 

(13) TIME TO CROW. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In the Financial Times behind a paywall, Tom Faber reviews Death’s Door, a game he feels is strongly influenced by Legend Of Zelda, Dark Souls, and Hollow Knight.

Coming from tastemaking indie publisher Devolver Digital, I should have known better than to judge the game harshly.  Its mechanics are familiar but the plot is original and compelling, told with an economy that threads through every element of the game’s design.  You play a fledgling crow who is a new employee at a supernatural bureau of avatar grim reapers.  Your job is to collect the souls of those who have passed on.  Yet when a soul you have collected is stolen, your immortality (a handsome job perk) is compromised, meaning you will age and ultimately die if you cannot recover it….

Death’s Door is a game about being a small, fragile thing in a mysterious, dangerous world.  This is deftly constructed with certain characters and safe spaces scattered across the map which are colourful and memorable: the interminable bureaucracy of the celestial reaper’s office; your companion Pothead, whose skull has been replaced with a vat of soup; the gravedigger who gives touching elegies for those enemies you slay. The spare lines of dialogue tinkle with humour and specificity, helping you empathise with the mute reaper crow on his lonely journey to understand the meaning of death.

(14) BUHLERT AT VIRTUAL WORLDCON. Best Fanwriter Hugo finalist Cora Buhlert has posted her virtual DisCon III schedule: “Cora goes virtually to DisCon III, the 2021 Worldcon”. Her first panel is Thursday.

(15) COMING DOWN A CHIMNEY NEAR YOU. The Washington Post’s Michael Dirda rescues last-minute shoppers with his list of “Gift books 2021: Mysteries, ghost stories and other treats”.

‘The Valancourt Book of Victorian Christmas Ghost Stories: Volume 5,’ edited by Christopher Philippo (Valancourt)

This latest in an annual series again demonstrates that chills and frights still linger in the browning pages of old magazines and Christmas albums. Philippo reprints two fine tales I’ve read elsewhere — Amelia B. Edwards’s “My Brother’s Ghost Story” and Barry Pain’s “The Undying Thing” — but all his other choices were unfamiliar to me. Since James Skipp Borlase is represented by two stories, I decided to read them first….

(16) YA BOOK SUGGESTIONS. Tara Goetjen on YA horror, paranormal, and ghost story novels crime fiction fans might like. “Genre-Bending YA Novels Perfect For Crime Fans” at CrimeReads.

… To me, this is the great intrigue of a genre-bending thriller. There should always be, without fail, a human face behind the mystery or the bloodshed, just like there is in No Beauties or Monsters [her new book]. But whether or not there is a shadowy, inexplicable, perhaps unbelievable force also wielding terror… well, that’s why we read on till the very end. Here are some other genre-bending young adult novels with speculative elements that kept me reading till the very end too….

(17) LET US NOW PRAISE FAMOUS HOBBITS. GameRant’s Alice Rose Dodds delves into the books to help fans of the LOTR movies answer the question  “What Exactly Is Shire Reckoning?” — “What exactly is this measurement of time, and how does It differ from others in Middle Earth?”

…It is little known that there was a vast long period of time before which any hobbits ever came to rest in The Shire. Hobbits, being of a homely nature and loving their beautiful holes beyond all else, dislike to remember this fact, for they see those days as terrible days, before the comfort of a simple life was discovered… 

(18) IT’S BEGINNING TO LOOK AT LOT LIKE CHRISTMAS. But don’t be fooled.  “Christmas Movies Show How Fake Snow Evolved, From ‘It’s A Wonderful Life’ To Harry Potter” at LAist.

Watching classic holiday movies is a journey through the technology used to create yuletide joy in different generations. We once used asbestos as movie snow — now the technology ranges from computer graphics to a special type of paper.

In the early days of film, Hollywood “snowmen” would take anything that could be seen as white and flaky and put it to use, author and Atlas Obscura editor April White told LAist. Those sources of flaky whiteness included bleached cornflakes, gypsum, salt, concrete dust, asbestos, and even chicken feathers….

(19) THE LATEST STRANDS. Richard Lawson sorts the cycles of Spider-Man movies for Vanity Fair readers and comments on the new trailer in “Spider-Man: No Way Home Is a Very Tangled Web”.

…Well, to be fair, Spider-Man was always a Marvel property; he just lives at Sony because of deals that long predate Kevin Feige’s Disney-backed conquest of the content cosmos. In that sense, No Way Home is mostly just a triumph of studio executives agreeing on things and actors making their schedules work. A feat unto itself, I suppose…

(20) WEB CASTER VS. SPELL CASTER. Doctor Strange and Spider-man battle it out in the mirror dimension in this clip of the Spider-Man vs Doctor Strange fight scene from Spider-Man: No Way Home.

[Thanks to Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Rob Thornton, Cora Buhlert, Jeffrey Smith, Johan Anglemark, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Steve Davidson, part of “The Hugo Pixel Scroll Winners” series.]

Pixel Scroll 12/11/21 The Scroll In The High Pixel

(1) REACHING OUT. Kate Elliott distills her sff experience into a Twitter thread, which starts here.

(2) COWBOY BEBOP. [Item by Ben Bird Person.] Science fiction author Wesley Chu (The Lives Of TaoThe Walking Dead: Typhoon) posted this “hot take” on Twitter:

He followed it up with a link to the petition “Save the live action Cowboy Bebop” posted in yesterday’s Pixel Scroll: “Make me a prophet, friends! Sign the petition to save Cowboy Bebop.” The petition now has over 2,000 signatures.

(3) IN AND OUT OF FLUX. Camestros Felapton, in “Review: Doctor Who Flux”, assesses how nu-Who’s thirteenth season with the Thirteenth Doctor wrapped up. Beware spoilers!

…So where does that leave Flux and why was it not so terrible despite all that? As I’ve joked before, it was a shaggy-dog story where lots of things happen but most of it doesn’t really matter. Events strung together but without a substantial narrative arc can be entertaining. These kinds of “just a bunch of stuff that happened” plots make millions when they are Fast & Furious movies. I don’t know what the first big example of this approach is but I suspect that is the James Bond film You Only Live Twice which makes not a bit of sense but has so many memorable fragments that it feels like it has a story there. F&F is worse to some degree because that narrative fragmentation splits over multiple films i.e. I can remember lots of scenes from those movies but I have to actively think about elements to work out which film it was from (at least from about F&F5)….

(4) SIGNING OFF. “Nichelle Nichols Appears for Final Comic-Con Events in L.A. amid Conservatorship Battle” reports Yahoo!

…Nichelle Nichols, one of the stars of the original Star Trek series and a pioneering recruiter of women and minorities for America’s space program, made her final convention appearance before her many fans as part of a three-day farewell celebration at L.A. Comic-Con over the weekend.

Best known for playing communications officer Nyota Uhura aboard the starship Enterprise, the iconic actress, singer and dancer — who turns 89 on Dec. 28 — signed autographs, posed for photos and attended an early birthday celebration, where she briefly but joyfully kicked up her heels and danced. Nichols was also the subject of tribute panels throughout the convention, though she did not make any public statements.

An active figure on stage, TV and music since the early 1960s, Nichols’ public and professional life has been slowed since she was diagnosed with dementia in 2018, and she has also been at the center of a conservatorship battle. However, she was all smiles during her many appearances on her retirement tour at Comic-Con LA. Nichols was seen waving, blowing kisses and flashing Star Trek‘s famous Vulcan salute to the many fans who turned out to bid her farewell….

(5) FROM THE ARCHIVES. [Item by Bill.] Metafilter just finished a series of posts over the last week in which highlighted “short speculative fiction stories published by online magazines that are no longer publishing, or that are on hiatus, but whose interesting archives remain online” — Posts tagged with magazinearchives / MetaFilter.

(6) PRAISING WITH FAINT DAMS. Is James Davis Nicoll’s Young People Read Old SFF panel impressed by this Lafferty Hugo-winner? Please…stop laughing.

This month’s Young People Read Old Hugo Winners presented me with a dilemma. “Eurema’s Dam” by R. A. Lafferty shared the 1973 Hugo for Best Short Story with “The Meeting” by C. M. Kornbluth and Frederik Pohl. How to choose between two works the voters found worthy? The answer, it seems, was in having read “The Meeting”, which is about commandeering a developmentally deficient child’s body so the body can house the brain of a superior child. Since I don’t actively dislike my Young People, I went with the story I didn’t remember anything about, a story that only might annoy them, rather than the story I remembered all too well and was absolutely certain would enrage them.

R. A. Lafferty was a beloved author of whimsical fantasies. My brain lacks the proper receptors and I don’t see the appeal. I am aware I am in the minority here. Perhaps my Young People will see the virtues in Lafferty’s writing to which I am blind. Let’s find out! 

(7) TIME AFTER TIME. The latest episode of CSI Skill Tree, a series on videogames, worldbuilding, storytelling, and possible futures, is focused on the 2019 game Outer Wilds, about unraveling the mysteries of a solar system caught in a time loop. The guests are game director and designer Randy Smith (Thief series, Waking MarsJETT: The Far Shore) and Luc Riesbeck, a space policy and research analyst at Astroscale U.S.

(8) FUTURE SEASON’S GREETINGS. The Bristol Board has copies of the original space-themed covers by Frank R. Paul for the Christmas issues of Forecast, Hugo Gernsback’s radio and electronics magazine of the Fifties and Sixties. Here’s an example.

(9) THANKS FOR THE MEMORY HOLE. “Feminist retelling of Nineteen Eighty-Four approved by Orwell’s estate” – the Guardian has the story.

The estate of George Orwell has approved a feminist retelling of Nineteen Eighty-Four, which reimagines the story from the perspective of Winston Smith’s lover Julia.

… Publisher Granta said that Julia understands the world of Oceania “far better than Winston and is essentially happy with her life”. As Orwell puts it in Nineteen Eighty-Four, “in some ways she was far more acute than Winston, and far less susceptible to Party propaganda … She also stirred a sort of envy in him by telling him that during the Two Minutes Hate her great difficulty was to avoid bursting out laughing. But she only questioned the teachings of the Party when they in some way touched upon her own life. Often she was ready to accept the official mythology, simply because the difference between truth and falsehood did not seem important to her.”

“She has known no other world and, until she meets Winston, never imagined one. She’s opportunistic, believing in nothing and caring not at all about politics. She routinely breaks the rules but also collaborates with the regime whenever necessary. She’s an ideal citizen of Oceania,” said Granta. “But when one day, finding herself walking toward Winston Smith in a long corridor, she impulsively hands him a note – a potentially suicidal gesture – she comes to realise that she’s losing her grip and can no longer safely navigate her world.”

Orwell’s estate said it had been “looking for some time” for an author to tell the story of Smith’s lover, and that Newman, who has previously been longlisted for the Women’s prize and shortlisted for the Guardian first book award, “proved to be the perfect fit”…

(10) WHO DREW. [Item by Ben Bird Person.] Artist Colin Howard who did book and VHS covers for Doctor Who in the 1980s-1990s has announced a new art book: Timeslides: The Doctor Who Artwork of Colin Howard.

Colin Howard’s art graced the covers of around thirty VHS releases, and for the first time ever, they’re collected together in Timeslides: The Doctor Who Art of Colin Howard

Join Colin as he opens his personal archive and takes you on a tour of his Doctor Who universe – from iconic videos to book covers, from illustrations to private commissions. Featuring original sketches, unpublished designs, and a fascinating commentary, Timeslides takes you further behind the scenes than ever before.

(11) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

1992 [Item by Cat Eldridge.] Twenty-nine years ago, The Muppet Christmas Carol premiered as directed by Brian Henson (in his feature film directorial debut) from the screenplay by Jerry Juhl. Based amazingly faithfully off that story, it starred Michael Caine as Ebenezer Scrooge with a multitude of Muppet performers, to wit Dave Goelz, Steve Whitmire, Ed Sanders, Jerry Nelson, Theo Sanders, Kristopher Milnes, Russell Martin, Ray Coulthard  and Frank Oz. I must single out Jessica Fox as the voice of Ghost of Christmas Past. 

Following Jim Henson’s death in May 1990, the talent agent Bill Haber had approached Henson’s son Brian with the idea of filming an adaptation. It was pitched to ABC as a television film, but Disney ended up purchasing it instead. That’s why it’s only available on Disney+ these days. 

Critics in general liked it with Roger Ebert being among them though he added that it “could have done with a few more songs than it has, and the merrymaking at the end might have been carried on a little longer, just to offset the gloom of most of Scrooge’s tour through his lifetime spent spreading misery.” (Those songs were by Paul Williams, another one of his collaborations with the Jim Henson Company after working on The Muppet Movie.) Box office wise, it did just ok as it made twenty-seven million against production costs of twelve million, not counting whatever was spent on marketing. And audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes currently give it a rather ungloomy rating of eighty-eight percent.

(12) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born December 11, 1926 Dick Tufeld. He’s best known, or at least best recognized, as the voice of the Robot on Lost in Space, a role he reprises in the feature film. The first words heard on Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea are spoken by him: “This is the Seaview, the most extraordinary submarine in all the seven seas.” He’s been the opening announcer on Spider-Man and His Amazing FriendsSpider-WomanThundarr the BarbarianFantastic Four and the Time Tunnel. (Died 2012.)
  • Born December 11, 1945 Zienia Merton. She’s best remembered for playing Sandra Benes in Space: 1999. She played Ping-Cho during a series of First Doctor stories. She had roles on Dinotopia, the Sarah Jane Adventures and Wizards vs. Aliens. (Died 2018.)
  • Born December 11, 1944 Teri Garr, 77. A long history of genre film roles starting in Young Frankenstein as Inga before next appearing in Close Encounters of the Third Kind as Ronnie Neary. Next is the horror film Witches’ Brew where she was Margaret Lightman. She voices Mary McGinnis in Batman Beyond: The Movie, a role she has does on a recurring basis in the series. Series wise, shows up uncredited in the Batman series in the “Instant Freeze” as the Girl Outside the Rink. And of course, she’s Roberta Lincoln in Star Trek’s “Assignment Earth” episode. (I once found a site that the spin-off series had actually been made.) She has a number of other genre roles, none as interesting as that one. 
  • Born December 11, 1954 Richard Paul Russo, 67. Winner of two Philip Dick Awards, first for Subterranean Gallery, and later for Ship of Fools. Subterranean Gallery was also nominated for a Clarke Award. He apparently stopped writing genre fiction quite some time ago. 
  • Born December 11, 1957 William Joyce, 64. Author of the YA series Guardians of Childhood which is currently at twenty books and growing. Now I’ve no interest in reading them but Joyce and Guillermo del Toro turned the early ones into in a rather splendid Rise of the Guardians film which I enjoyed quite a bit. The antagonist in it reminds me somewhat of a villain later on In Willingham’s Fables series called Mr. Dark. 
  • Born December 11, 1959 M. Rickert, 62. Short story writer par excellence. She’s got three collections to date, Map of Dreams which won a World Fantasy Award, Holiday and You Have Never Been Here. Her two novels The Little Witch and The Shipbuilder of Bellfairie are most excellent, and are available from the usual digital suspects.  Her collections unfortunately are not. 
  • Born December 11, 1962 Ben Browder, 59. Actor of course best known for his roles as John Crichton in Farscape and Cameron Mitchell in Stargate SG-1.  One of my favorite roles by him was his voicing of Bartholomew Aloysius “Bat” Lash in Justice League Unlimited called “The Once and Future Thing, Part 1”. He’d have an appearance as sheriff in the Eleventh Doctor story, “A Town Called Mercy”, a Weird Western of sorts.
  • Born December 11, 1965 Sherrilyn Kenyon, 56. Best known for her Dark Hunter series which runs to around thirty volumes now.  I realize in updating this birthday note that I indeed have read this first several of these and they were damn good. She’s got The League series as well which appears to be paranormal romance, and a Lords of Avalon series too under the pen name of Kinley MacGregor. She has won two World Fantasy Awards, one for her short story, “Journey Into the Kingdom”, and one for her short story collection, Map of Dreams

(13) COMICS SECTION.

(14) FOR YOUR WISHLIST. Connie Willis wrote a long Facebook post hawking her American Christmas Stories collection.

…Stefanie Peters and David Cloyce Smith and the other editors at Library of America did all the heavy lifting, scouring all sorts of obscure books and magazines, finding thousands of stories for us to choose from, and getting all the necessary permissions and releases. All I did was read a bunch of stories, suggest some stories they’d missed, and write the introduction.)

Between us, we found mysteries, horror stories, Westerns, science-fiction stories, ghost stories, police procedurals, and fantasies, stories by famous authors like Bret Harte and John Updike and stories by writers you’ve never heard of, like Pauline Hopkins and John Kendrick Bangs. Stories by African-American authors writing in the post-Civil War South, by Chinese-American authors writing about California’s Chinatown, by authors of vastly different backgrounds writing about Alaskan and Puerto Rican and Nebraska Christmases.

And we found stories written in all different keys, from cynicism to sentimentality, from nostalgia to urban angst. And comedy. So many Christmas collections focus solely on serious or uplifting stories, but humor’s been a staple of the American Christmas story since Mark Twain and William Dean Howells, and I was really happy we were able to include humorous stories by Shirley Jackson, Robert Benchley, Leo Rosten, Joan Didion, and Damon Runyon.

(Especially Damon Runyon. We would have included all his Christmas stories if we’d had room, and all of O. Henry’s, but alas, there were length constraints–and permissions we weren’t able to get. And in addition, we didn’t want this collection to be a carbon copy of every other Christmas anthology we’d ever read. Which is why O. Henry’s “Gift of the Magi” and the “Christmas won’t be Christmas” piece by Louisa May Alcott aren’t in the book. Sorry. But they’ve been reprinted virtually everywhere, and if we included them, we’d have had to leave out stories by both O. Henry and Alcott that you might not have read before.).

We also included lots of other wonderful stories, like Langston Hughes’ wistful “One Christmas Eve” and Edna Ferber’s “No Room at the Inn” and Ben Hecht’s “Holiday Thoughts” Jacob Riis’s “The Kid Hangs Up His Stocking” and Jack London’s “Klondike Christmas” and Dorothy Parker’s “The Christmas Magazines and the Inevitable Story of the Snowbound Train.”

For you science-fiction, fantasy, and horror fans, there’s Cynthia Felice’s “Track of a Legend,” Mildred Clingerman’s “The Wild Wood,” Steve Rasnic Tem’s “Buzz,” Ray Bradbury’s “The Gift,”and Raymond E. Banks’s “Christmas Trombone.”” (And a story of mine that they chose, “Inn.”)…

And don’t forget to register for the Library of America’s American Christmas Stories conversation with Connie Willis, Nalo Hopkinson, and Penne Restad on December 15 at 6:00 p.m. Eastern.

(15) I READ YOU FIVE BY FIVE. Two more of James Davis Nicoll’s thematic look-back posts at Tor.com.

… Perhaps some fictional examples are in order, since historical examples would no doubt set the comments on fire (so let’s please avoid that)….

Wild Seed by Octavia E. Butler (1980)

No person works as hard to find and gather humanity’s psionic adepts as Doro. Doro has invested millennia tracking down, gathering, and breeding mutants to ensure that they survive and flourish. Thanks to Doro’s endless work, the genes for psionic talents have been concentrated and encouraged to flourish.

However, this long-standing project had nothing to do with any particular concern for mutant-kind or a belief in orthogenesis. Doro is a psychic predator. Mutant minds are tasty and their appropriated bodies provide him with comfortable temporary accommodation. Worse, the psychics are quite aware of Doro’s appetites. They simply lack the means to resist him. The best that shape-shifting immortal Anyanwu can do is to play a weak hand as well as she can, using Doro’s desire for a peer to limit the damage he does to her kin.

… But pessimism is nothing new, of course. Olden time SF authors were enormously pessimistic, producing works every bit as sour and gloomy as the most morose works penned by today’s authors. Don’t believe me? Here are five intensely depressing SF novels from the long, long ago. I recommend each and every one of them, if only to cast your current circumstances in a more favourable light….

(16) GALACTIC OPPORTUNITY. Space Cowboy Books will host an online reading and interview with Janice L. Newman, author of “At First Contact,” on December 14. Register here.

Join us for a reading and interview with Janice L. Newman about her new book At First Contact, a touching trio of romances in a speculative vein. From the edge of space, to the shadows of the paranormal, to the marvels of the mystical.

(17) BANK ON IT. Seneca Falls goes all-in on It’s A Wonderful Life. “This New York Town Is Honoring A Beloved Holiday Movie’s 75th Anniversary” at Forbes.

… “We also say that we don’t think that Frank Capra intended Bedford Falls to be one place,” said Law. “It is every place that people hold dear to our hearts.”

Regardless, Law noted that Seneca Falls has welcomed actress Karolyn Grimes, who played Zuzu Bailey, since her first visit there in 2002.

“She has introduced us to other cast members, relatives of cast members and others associated with the film,” said Law. Other visiting actors have ranged from Jimmy Hawkins, who played Tommy Bailey, to Jeanine Roose, who played younger Violet Bick.

Grimes also helped to make the It’s A Wonderful Life Museum a reality, after being talked to about the need for a place where film fans can reminisce and honor its meaning….

Here’s the link to The Seneca Falls It’s A Wonderful Life Museum website.

It’s a Wonderful Life was filmed entirely in California, as were most movies at that time.

However, Seneca Falls has long believed itself to be the inspiration for Bedford Falls…

(18) GHASTLY TIMING. The New York Ghost Story Festival started December 11 and continues online. It’s free. Watch live on You Tube, or view any time later.

See the December 11 event with Kathe Koja, Brian Evenson, Rudi Dornemann and Jeff Ford:

Still to come —

  • Tuesday, December 14, 8:00 p.m. Eastern with David Surface, Brenda Tolian, Pat Wehl, and Joshua Rex here
  • Friday, December 17, 8:00 p.m. Eastern with Kevin Lucia, Jo Kaplan, and Eric Guijnard here.
  • Saturday, December 18, 7:00 p.m. Eastern with Sarah Langan, Kevin Brockmeier, John Langan, and Angela Slatter here

(19) W76 WOULD LIKE ITS $4K BACK. Twitter shut down Jon Del Arroz’ account under his own name, but he’s started another. Think about how good his lawyer must be that he was able to defend Jon against allegations of being a racist.

(20) MARTIAN MUD. “China’s Mars Rover Has Amassed Reams Of Geological Data” reports Nature.

 Some surface features, such as possible sedimentary material and mud volcanoes, hint at the past flow of water, so scientists are looking for clues that there was once water or ice below the surface. This is “of great scientific interest” because it might provide evidence of an ancient ocean, says Bo Wu, a planetary scientist at the Hong Kong Polytechnic University.

(21) ON YOUR HEAD BE IT. “The Sorting Hat Tells All In The Harry Potter Reunion” on The Late Show With Stephen Colbert.

On another night last week Jennifer Lawrence appeared on The Late Show With Stephen Colbert. Near the end of their second segment, they discussed genre movies. After the 3:00 mark, Colbert gets a little flustered when Lawrence reveals how little she knows about the Lord of the Rings movies. Nominally, the main topic of the interview is Lawrence’s to-be-released movie Don’t Look Up, which definitely has a genre premise.

[Thanks to JJ, John King Tarpinian, Andrew Porter, Bill, Ben Bird Person, Chris Barkley, Joey Eschrich, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, and Martin Morse Wooster for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Steve Davidson, part of “The Hugo Pixel Scroll Winners” series.]

Pixel Scroll 12/8/21 I’m Shocked To Find Scrolling Going On In Here

(1) IF YOU CAN MAKE IT THERE. In the New York Times, Amal El-Mohtar names “The Best Science Fiction and Fantasy Books of 2021”. Here’s one of her picks:

In the gray fog of an uncertain year, these books stand out in bright colors and floods of intense feeling. They’re organized only by the order in which I read them….

No Gods, No Monsters

By Cadwell Turnbull (Blackstone, 387 pp., $26.99)

Intimate and intricate, full of charismatic monsters and the dueling secret societies to which they belong. A pack of werewolves transform on camera, prompting hidden powers to rally for or against revealing the supernatural world of gods and monsters to the public. Mysteriously narrated and utterly riveting.

 (2) EXCEED YOUR GRASP. At Futurism, Matthew Angelo tells readers “Why Science Fiction Matters in Literature”.

… Science fiction typically deals with the impact of imagined future science and technology on society. Sci-Fi is an important genre in literature. It teaches us about contemporary ideas, inspires new technological inventions, and entertains us by telling stories that could not have happened otherwise….

Science Fiction is one of the biggest, most influential genres in literature. It taps into human dreams and nightmares about what might be, what could happen to us, and how we might deal with it. It makes up many of our fictional worlds, futures, and inhabitants. Science Fiction stories can be wildly different in content. Still, they all have a similar feeling of being exciting possibilities just out of reach. Science fiction is often thought to be just about aliens and robots. Still, it can also have a lot to do with social commentary….

(3) SPINNING BLADES. Foz Meadows tweeted two threads commenting on the social media heat directed at Neon Yang after Yang, who criticized Isabel Fall’s “Helicopter Story” when it appeared in January 2020, recently promoted the appearance of their own queer mech story in a forthcoming anthology. Thread starts here.

A second short thread starts here.

Suzanne F. Boswell advances a case that Neon Yang’s tweets in 2020 did not cause the outcome for which critics now want to hold them accountable. Thread starts here.

R. B. Lemberg warns about the damage from these exchanges. Thread starts here.

(4) HIS FAVORITE MARTIAN. Congratulations to Jonathan Eller, whose Bradbury Beyond Apollo has been named one of the Choice Outstanding Academic Titles for 2021. The list is quite selective: it contains approximately ten percent of some 6,000 works reviewed in Choice each year.

(5) AS VIEWED FROM ABOVE. Rob Hansen has created “a small extra” for those who read Bixelstrasse, his compilation of early LASFS history (see “Revisit ‘Fighting Forties’ LASFS in Rob Hansen’s Bixelstrasse”) – it’s an annotated Map of 1940s LA Fandom.

(6) A BARKING GOOD CLIMAX. Camestros Felapton announces “Debarkle Volume 3 Now Available”. It is the end, my friend, and the price is right – free! A list of vendors is at the link.

The third and final volume of Debarkle is now available from a wide range of online book stores and by “wide range” I mean “not Amazon”. As with the rest of this series, it’s been published via Draft2Digital and you can access it in these online book shops. Note: this is the “second draft” version with fewer typos than the blog version. A third draft version will be available as a collected edition of all three volumes before the end of the year.

(7) DOWN TO THE WIRE. Starburst Magazine’s Ed Fortune covers 2023 Site Selection here: “China Races Canada For Prestigious SciFi Con”.

… Worldcons are a long-running international Science Fiction convention that tends to be hosted in North America or Europe, and the next venue is determined two years ahead of time.

Recent years have seen the convention come to other parts of the world, such as Japan and New Zealand. Chinese fans have been actively seeking to bring the world-renowned event to Chengdu, China since 2014….

(8) 2023 WORLDCON BID Q&A. Video of last weekend’s bidder Q&A session at Smofcon Europe has now been posted.

Representatives of the 2023 Worldcon bids for Chengdu and Winnipeg present and answer questions. Terry Fong, Tony Xia, Tina Wang, Tammy Coxen (m)

(9) BACK ON HIS FEET. Nicholas Whyte reports on his recovery from Covid after spending the end of November and part of December sick in bed: “630 days of plague, and COVID 20 days on” in his Livejournal.

(10) THE CULTURE. Christopher Fowler, known to fans for his sff, discusses what makes English novels “English” at CrimeReads: “The Curse of Englishness: Why Every British Thriller Is Also a Black Comedy”.

…I first became aware of the curse when I heard the teacups. To be precise, their endless tinkling.

Whenever I listened to an English radio play as a child the sound effects included a spoon endlessly circling bone china. English characters were always going out and coming in, but mostly they stayed inside and drank tea, even in the grisliest true-life murder dramatizations. Our plots unfolded in small rooms. It’s an English thing; neat little houses, inclement weather. Agatha Christie was particularly obsessed with egress. ‘It was a fine old library with the only other door leading out to the pristine tennis courts.’ And as we tended not to point guns at each other, our fictional killers generally dismissed firearms in favour of doctored pots of chutney, electrified bathtubs and poisoned trifles. They escaped without leaving footprints and relocked doors with the aid of string….

(11) TODAY’S DAY.

I am reliably informed by John King Tarpinian that this is how I should have spent my day.

(12) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

1966[Item by Cat Eldridge.] Fifty five years ago, Star Trek’s “The Conscience of a King” first aired on NBC. The title comes from the concluding lines of Act II of Hamlet: “The play’s the thing / Wherein I’ll catch the conscience of the king.” Barry Trivers wrote the script. Memory Alpha notes that he also wrote the never made “A Portrait in Black and White” episode based on a story premise by Roddenberry in his original series proposal for Star Trek

The primary guest cast here was Arnold Moss as Anton Karidian / Kodos and Barbara Anderson as Lenore Karidian. Other than a later Time Tunnel appearence, his only genre role. She played Mimi Davis in a recurring role on Mission: Impossible

Reception for it is generally very good though Keith DeCandido at Tor.com kvetches about how he’s identified as the war criminal. (Keith, it’s not your your modern CSI.) Later Trek writer Ronald D. Moore considers it one of the best Trek episodes ever done. 

(13) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born December 8, 1861 Georges Méliès. Best known as a film director for A Trip to the Moon (Le Voyage dans la Lune) which he said was influenced by sources including Verne’s From the Earth to the Moon and Around the Moon. (Died 1938.)
  • Born December 8, 1894 E. C. Segar. Best known as the creator of Popeye, who first appeared in 1929 in Segar’s comic strip Thimble Theatre. Popeye’s first line in the strip, upon being asked if he was a sailor, was “Ja think I’m a cowboy?” J. Wellington Wimpy was another character in this strip that I’m fond of. (Died 1938.)
  • Born December 8, 1894 James Thurber. He’s written a number of fantasies, The 13 ClocksThe White Deer and The Wonderful O, definitely none of which children should be reading. You’ve no doubt seen The Secret Life of Walter Mitty with Danny Kaye which bears little resemblance to the original short story. It would be made into a second film, just eight years ago, again not resembling the source material. (Died 1961.)
  • Born December 8, 1950 Rick Baker, 71. Baker won the Academy Award for Best Makeup a record seven times from a record eleven nominations, beginning when he won the first award given for An American Werewolf in London.  So what else is he know for? Oh, I’m not listing everything but his first was The Thing with Two Heads and I’ll single out The ExorcistStar WarsThe Howling which I quite love, Starman for the Starman transformation, the Beast design on the Beauty and the Beast series and the first Hellboy film version.
  • Born December 8, 1951 Brian Attebery, 70. If I was putting together a library of reference works right now, Attebery would be high on the list of authors at the center of my shopping list. I think The Fantasy Tradition in American Literature: From Irving to Le Guin is still essential reading and Parabolas of Science Fiction with Veronica Hollinger is very close to a Grand Unification Theory of the Genre. He won a World Fantasy Award for his editing of Journal of the Fantastic in the Arts, and a Mythopoetic Scholarship Award for Stories about Stories: Fantasy & the Remaking of Myth.
  • Born December 8, 1954 Rebecca Neason. She wrote a Next Generation novel, Guises of The Mind,  plus several Highlander novels, and two fantasy novels; her widower says one novel went unpublished. She was a regular panelist at conventions in the Pacific Northwest. Jim Fiscus has a remembrance here.  (Died 2010.)
  • Born December 8, 1954 John Silbersack, 67. With Victoria Schochet, he edited the first four volumes of the Berkley Showcase: New Writings in Science Fiction and Fantasy anthology series. Seasonally appropriate, he edited with Chris Schelling, The Magic of Christmas: Holiday Stories of Fantasy and Science Fiction. He’s written a Buck Rogers novel, Rogers’ Rangers, off a treatment by Niven and Pournelle. 
  • Born December 8, 1967 Laura J. Mixon, 64. She won the Hugo Award for Best Fan Writer at Sasquan for her writing about the abhorrent online activities of Benjanun Sriduangkaew. She has written a number of excellent novels including Glass Houses and Up Against It which got an Otherwise nomination. She is married to SF writer Steven Gould, with whom she co-wrote the novel Greenwar.

(14) GEORGE PÉREZ MEDICAL UPDATE. George Pérez, known for his work on DC’s The New Teen TitansCrisis on Infinite Earths and Wonder Woman, Marvel titles like Infinity Gauntlet and The Avengers, and with Kurt Busiek on the landmark Marvel/DC crossover JLA/Avengers (aka Avengers/JLA), announced on Facebook that he has been diagnosed with terminal cancer.  

To all my fans, friends and extended family,

It’s rather hard to believe that it’s been almost three years since I formally announced my retirement from producing comics due to my failing vision and other infirmities brought on primarily by my diabetes. At the time I was flattered and humbled by the number of tributes and testimonials given me by my fans and peers. The kind words spoken on those occasions were so heartwarming that I used to quip that “the only thing missing from those events was me lying in a box.”

It was amusing at the time, I thought.

Now, not so much. On November 29th I received confirmation that, after undergoing surgery for a blockage in my liver, I have Stage 3 Pancreatic Cancer. It is surgically inoperable and my estimated life expectancy is between 6 months to a year. I have been given the option of chemotherapy and/or radiation therapy, but after weighing all the variables and assessing just how much of my remaining days would be eaten up by doctor visits, treatments, hospital stays and dealing with the often stressful and frustrating bureaucracy of the medical system, I’ve opted to just let nature take its course and I will enjoy whatever time I have left as fully as possible with my beautiful wife of over 40 years, my family, friends and my fans.

Since I received my diagnosis and prognosis, those in my inner circle have given me so much love, support and help, both practical and emotional. They’ve given me peace.

There will be some business matters to take care of before I go. I am already arranging with my art agent to refund the money paid for sketches that I can no longer finish. And, since, despite only having one working eye, I can still sign my name, I hope to coordinate one last mass book signing to help make my passing a bit easier. I also hope that I will be able to make one last public appearance wherein I can be photographed with as many of my fans as possible, with the proviso that I get to hug each and every one of them. I just want to be able to say goodbye with smiles as well as tears…

(15) SEPTEMBER SONG ENCORE. BasedCon will ride again in September 2022, says chair Rob Kroese. The inaugural event he created to appeal to the “sci-fi writer or fan who is sick of woke politics” (see “BasedCon Planning for Dozens of Attendees”) actually drew 70.

(16) THE ROARING TWENTIES. The New York Times applauds this fashion statement: “Just in Time for Christmas: Knitwear Fit for a T. Rex”.

Behold the fearsome Tyrannosaurus rex — all swaddled in a cozy Christmas sweater.

The replica T. rex at the Natural History Museum in London is an enormous, ferocious-looking beast that was built to scale, standing about 60 percent the size of the 40-foot-long prehistoric creature.

The animatronic attraction, which features roaring sound effects, often startles visitors, but on Monday, the predatory edge was somewhat softened when visitors found the T. rex bedecked in a giant blue, red and green holiday sweater, replete with cheerful Christmas trees and snowflakes….

(17) A BIRD IN FLIGHT. The European launch of the book The Space Cuckoo and Other Stories by Arvind Mishra will take place online, on December 13 at 6.00 p.m. Romanian Local Time, on Discord, at the international meeting of Syndicate 9 Science Fiction club from Timisoara, Romania. The guest of the meeting is the author, and the moderator, Darius Hupov.

To participate at the online meeting, please click the invitation link for the Syndicate 9 Discord server:
https://discord.gg/rs2YUAwP. The meeting will take place at the “Intalnirea S9” voice channel.

(18) I’M NOT SAYING IT’S ALIENS… [Item by Dann.] China’s Yutu-2 lunar rover has found something interesting on the moon.  The rover is going to spend the next couple of months trundling over to get a closer look. “China’s Yutu 2 rover spots cube-shaped ‘mystery hut’ on far side of the moon” at Space.com.

China’s Yutu 2 rover has spotted a mystery object on the horizon while working its way across Von Kármán crater on the far side of the moon.

Yutu 2 spotted a cube-shaped object on the horizon to the north and roughly 260 feet (80 meters) away in November during the mission’s 36th lunar day, according to a Yutu 2 diary published by Our Space, a Chinese language science outreach channel affiliated with the China National Space Administration (CNSA).

Our Space referred to the object as a “mystery hut” but this [is] a placeholder name rather than an accurate description….

…but it’s aliens. Or the Transformers lunar base.

(19) GRESHAM’S LAW. Guillermo del Toro, director of Nightmare Alley, appeared on Jimmy Kimmel Live.

Guillermo talks about his new movie…,, his attention to detail, his drawing notebook, his mother being a little bit of a “witch,” learning about tarot cards, getting married, shooting around the pandemic, Rooney Mara being secretly pregnant during it, buying and selling things on eBay, and he quizzes Jimmy about 1930s slang.

(20) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] “In Honest Trailers:  Let There Be Carnage,” the Screen Junkies say ,” If you’re making a film about a squirelly guy who talks to himself, you get Gollum (Andy Serkis) to direct it.”  Under Serkis’s direction, the film features “bad CGI goo,” “bad wigs,” “British actors doing really bad American accents,” and a mysterious reference to Beverly Hills Cop 2!

[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, Chris Barkley, Darius Hupov, Dann, John King Tarpinian, Andrew Porter, and Michael Toman for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Camestros Felapton.]

Pixel Scroll 11/29/21 Will You Still Need Me, Will You Still Read Me, When I Pixel Scroll?

(1) GET AN EARFUL. Today File 770 partnered with AudioFile Magazine to unveil “AudioFile’s 2021 Best Science Fiction & Fantasy Audiobooks”. Here is the link to the complete AudioFile Magazine – Best Of 2021 list.

We love hearing a good story well told, and we know that you do, too: the comfort and intimacy of a voice in your ear, the pleasure of being completely swept up in a narrative. That’s why, every December, we are so glad to celebrate audio excellence by selecting AudioFile’s Best Audiobooks. Thank you to all of the narrators, directors, producers, and publishers who filled our year with good listening.

(2) A PAY SERVICE NIXES DISCON III. “WeChat Restrictions, We Tried, We Really Tried” says DisCon III:  

“We have had to remove WeChat as a payment option. Due to their restrictions on charitable giving, we are unable to use WeChat services at this time. Our tech team is working to find a workaround to help overseas fans who want to pay using WeChat. That said, all of our other avenues are still available, and there’s still time to join us at DisCon III. Please visit our member services page to purchase your membership.” said Mary Robinette Kowal, Chair of DisCon III. 

(3) ON BROADWAY. [Item by Daniel Dern.] The opening of (Marvel) Hawkeye (new TV series) includes Clint “Hawkeye” Barton (and his 3 kids) going to a performance of Rogers The Musical (note that the signage looks very Hamiltonian), and we get to, delightfully, see about half of “I Can Do This All Day” about the NYC invasion, in the first Avengers movie.

Here’s one of many articles on this, including an audio with the full lyrics:  “Hear Hawkeye’s Rogers: The Musical song, and how Marvel pulled it off” at Polygon.

… Written by Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman, who have collaborated on other Broadway musical adaptations like Hairspray and Catch Me If You CanRogers is the MCU’s latest attempt to reminisce over past battles with a wink and nod. A little like the scene in Loki where the God of Mischief finds Infinity stones being used as paperweights, the silliness of Rogers asks the audience if they can remember what all the fuss was about….

(4) HE GAVE IT A SPIN. Camestros Felapton says “The Wheel of Time adaptation is looking good”.

…A strong cast gives the characters more weight and also pushes them closer to how Jordan intended them to be (from context) rather than how they come over in the books. Nynaeve in particular is clearly meant to be a strong-willed character in the books but comes over as just whiny and annoying (your impression may differ) in Jordan’s dialogue. However, the show’s Nynaeve is a really compelling character played by New Zealander Zoë Robins, full of intensity and suspicion of what she (correctly) perceives as a hostile world….

(5) FUTURE TENSE. The November 2021 entry in the Future Tense Fiction series is “Ride,” by Linda Nagata, a story about climate, public transportation, and AI in Hawaii.

 …The boy waved at them, then turned again to Jasmine. “Give it a try,” he exhorted her in a conspiratorial whisper. “Promise you will?”

Those eyes.

Her smile brightened. She didn’t want to disappoint those eyes. So she played along, teasing, “I might.” And maybe she really would. It was just a little game, after all….

It was published along with a response essay by cities and transit journalist Henry Grabar: “What if an All-Knowing Algorithm Ran Traffic and Transit?”

I like to think of myself as deeply skeptical of the many internet algorithms telling me what I want and need. I turn off targeted advertising wherever I can. I use AdBlock to hide what’s left. Most of my YouTube recommendations are for concerts or sports highlights, but I know I’m just a few clicks away from a wild-eyed influencer telling me to gargle turpentine for a sore throat. Twitter trending topics? I regret clicking immediately.

But I make an exception for the sweet, all-knowing embrace of the Spotify algorithm, to whom I surrender my ears several times a day. This software doesn’t just know my taste in music better than my friends; it acts on it, with chains of songs that build off things that I know I like, or forgot I did….

(6) HARLAN IN THE WILDERNESS. Stephen Bowie interviewed Harlan Ellison in 1996 about his early days writing for television: “Harlan Hits Hollywood” at The Classic TV History Blog.

…I was going to ask you if you remembered watching “Memos From Purgatory” when it was first broadcast, but perhaps you don’t, since it wasn’t actually the first one.

It’s a moderately funny story about what happened the night it aired.  I was living in Beverly Glen, in this little treehouse. The television set that I had was a real small TV, with rabbit ears, and the antenna was up the side of the mountain behind the house.  I mean this house, literally and actually, sat half on a rock ledge and the other half sat in the crotch of a gigantic banyan tree. It was raining that night, it was raining terribly. And the antenna, which was up the hill – rabbit ears down in the house and an actual antenna up on the hill; I mean, there was no cable – well, the antenna fell over.  

I had invited all these people to come and see the show, and we couldn’t get any reception.  So a friend of mine volunteered to go up, and he put on my raincoat, and he stood up there in the pounding rain, a really torrential downpour.  He stood up there holding the fuckin’ antenna up. And I was kind of, you know, upset that he was up there, not to mention that there were cougars or mountain cats – really, there were catamounts or cougars or whatever the fuck they are – up there running loose, because it’s all watershed land.  And I was terrified that he was going to get eaten, or washed away, or drowned, or fall off the mountain, or something. So about midway through I went up and I took his place. And I came back drenched, soaking wet, I looked like a drowned rat, and everybody was raving about this thing, and I had only seen about half of it….

(7) DRAGON IT OUT. A new book says “George R.R. Martin flew to New York to ‘beg’ an HBO executive to make ‘Game of Thrones’ 10 seasons long, according to his agent” reports Yahoo!

HBO’s hit series “Game of Thrones” came to an end in 2019 with two shortened seasons, which brought the total to eight seasons and 73 episodes. But the story’s original creator, the author George R.R. Martin, pushed for up to 10 seasons and 100 total episodes, according to a new book.

New accounts of Martin’s wishes can be found in a book titled “Tinderbox: HBO’s Ruthless Pursuit of New Frontiers” by the journalist James Andrew Miller.

Miller, who conducted 757 interviews for the book, spoke with Martin, Martin’s agent, Paul Haas, and Richard Plepler, HBO’s former CEO.

“George would fly to New York to have lunch with Plepler, to beg him to do ten seasons of ten episodes because there was enough material for it and to tell him it would be a more satisfying and more entertaining experience,” Haas told Miller.

(8) IN XANADU. Henry Farrell points to the availability of the video of a panel he was on with Paul Krugman, Ada Palmer, Noah Smith, and Jo Walton. And he has a few more things he’d like to say in his post “The Future Finds Its Own Uses for Things” at Crooked Timber.

So this event on the relationship between social science and science fiction went live late last week. It has Paul Krugman, Ada Palmer, Jo Walton, Noah Smith and … me. I’ve been wanting to say something a little bit more about this relationship for a while. Here is one take, which surely misses out on a lot, but maybe captures some stuff too.

…The Hume quote captures a particular – and very common – way of thinking about the world. It suggests that beneath the vast procession of history, the extraordinary profusion of ways in which human beings organize their society, their politics and their economies, lies a hidden and coherent unity. He emphasizes “the constant principles of human nature” – other social scientists have other notions about what the underlying unity involves and entails. But from this perspective all the ways in which things are different across time and space are really illustrations of how they are really deeply the same. This is a powerful lens for understanding the world and perhaps changing it.

When Marco Polo counters Kublai Khan, he points towards quite the opposite phenomenon; how an apparent unity -an abstract of plane forces – can be opened up to disclose the quiddity of things. A chessboard is a plane divided into sixty-four squares – yet it is also something physical, made out of joined-together pieces of wood, each with its own history. The apparently all encompassing abstract unity conceals a world of variation. Unless you understand how the squares were formed – a year of drought; a frosty night; a caterpillar’s appetite; you cannot understand how the chessboard came to be as it is.

It is a little too simple to say that social science is on Hume’s side of the dialectic, while science fiction is on Marco Polo’s. What makes more sense, I think is that very good social scientists and very good science fiction writers each work the tensions between the two understandings of the world, more from the one side than the other….

(9) NAME YOUR PRICE. Filer Jane Sand’s novelette “Not Poppy Nor Mandragora” is in the newly released Fusion Fragment issue #9. The publishers invite readers to “download Fusion Fragment #9 for free or pay what you want!”

(10) CIRCUMNAVIGATING THE SPOILERS. I say, this Ars Technica article gives away the entire story, never mind spoilers! “David Tennant makes a dashing Phileas Fogg in Around the World in 80 Days preview”. It wasn’t easy to find an excerpt that didn’t blab some important part!

…Verne’s story, in turn, inspired the late 19th-century journalist Nellie Bly to make her own world tour, completing the trip in 72 days. She even met Verne in Amiens and wrote her own bestselling book about her adventures. Monty Python alum Michael Palin made the charming TV travelogue, Around the World in 80 Days with Michael Palin, in 1988, detailing his recreation of Fogg’s journey, without resorting to airplanes….

(11) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

2002 [Item by Cat Eldridge.] Nineteen years ago on NBC, It’s a Very Merry Muppet Christmas Movie first aired. It was the first film to be made for television by The Muppets franchise. It was directed by Kirk R. Thatcher (in his feature directorial debut though he earlier been hired by Nimoy to associate produce the Conspiracy ’87 Hugo-nominated Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home) and written by Tom Martin and Jim Lewis.

It starred the usual Muppet puppeteers (Steve Whitmire, Dave Goelz, Bill Barretta and Eric Jacobson) plus a number of human guests: David Arquette, Joan Cusack, Matthew Lillard, William H. Macy and Whoopi Goldberg. Executive producers Juliet Blake and Brian Henson, though the actual producers were Martin G. Baker and Warren Carr. 

This is also the final Muppets production from the Jim Henson Company, as The Muppets were in their final years of ownership by the Henson family before being sold to Disney in 2004.

Critics were generally very impressed by this film with such comments as the Canadian Movie News saying it “is a medley of familiar Christmas classics such as It’s a Wonderful LifeA Christmas Story and The Grinch, amongst others, with a distinct Muppet spin.” Interestingly audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes were less impressed giving a mediocre fifty-one percent rating. 

(12) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born November 29, 1898 C S Lewis. I first encountered him when reading The Screwtape Letters in University. I later read of course The Chronicles of Narnia which I found most excellent though I’ll admit that I’ve not read his Space Trilogy. (Died 1963.)
  • Born November 29, 1910 Kendell Foster Crossen. He was the creator and writer of the Green Lama stories.  The character was a Buddhist crime fighter whose powers were activated upon the recitation of the Tibetan chant om mani padme hum. He also wrote Manning Draco series, an intergalactic insurance investigator, four of which are can be found in Once Upon a Star: A Novel of the Future. The usual suspects has a really deep catalog of his genre work, and the Green Lama stories have been made into audio works as well. (Died 1981.)
  • Born November 29, 1918 Madeleine L’Engle. Writer whose genre work included the splendid YA sequence starting off with A Wrinkle in Time and its sequels: A Wind in the DoorA Swiftly Tilting PlanetMany Waters, and An Acceptable Time. One of her non-genre works that I recommend strongly is the Katherine Forrester Vigneras series. She has a World Fantasy Award for Life Achievement. (Died 2007.)
  • Born November 29, 1950 Peter Hooten, 71. He played the title character in the late Seveties Dr. Strange film, well before the present MCU film reality existed. His other genre appearances are all in definitely low-grade horror films such as OrcaHouse of Blood and Souleater. And one Italian film that had so many name changes that I’d accused it of name laundering, including 2020 Texas Gladiators
  • Born November 29, 1955 Howie Mandel, 66. He was the voice of Gizmo in Gremlins and Gremlins 2: The New Batch. His longest voice acting gig was on the Muppet Babies where he did a lot of different voices, and he voiced Sam-I-Am in In Search of Dr. Seuss which is not nearly as serious as it sounds.
  • Born November 29, 1969 Greg Rucka, 52. Comic book writer and novelist, known for his work on Action ComicsBatwoman and Detective Comics. If you’ve not read it, I recommend reading Gotham Central which he co-created with Ed Brubaker, and over at Marvel, the four-issue Ultimate Daredevil and Elektra which he wrote is quite excellent as well. I’ve read none of his novels, so will leave y’all to comment on those. He’s a character in the CSI comic book Dying in the Gutters miniseries as someone who accidentally killed a comics gossip columnist while attempting to kill Joe Quesada over his perceived role in the cancellation of Gotham Central.
  • Born November 29, 1976 Chadwick Boseman. Another death that damn near broke my heart. The Black Panther alias Challa in the Marvel metaverse. The same year that he was first this being, he was Thoth in Gods of Egypt. (If you’ve not heard of this, no one else did either as it bombed quite nicely at the box office.) He was Sergeant McNair on Persons Unknown which is at least genre adjacent I would say.  And he even appeared on Fringe in the “Subject 9” episode as Mark Little / Cameron James. (Died 2020.)

(13) IT’S NOT SURPRISING. “‘The Simpsons’ Tiananmen Square Episode Missing From Disney+ Hong Kong; Discovery Leads to Censorship Concerns” reports Deadline.

An episode of The Simpsons during which the family visits Tiananmen Square is missing from Disney+’s Hong Kong platform.

Episode 12 of season 16 was found today to be absent from the streamer’s catalogue in the nation, having launched in Hong Kong earlier this month.

The episode features the family going to China to try to adopt a baby. At one point, they visit Tiananmen Square, which was the site of a deadly crackdown in 1989 against democracy protestors. A satirical sign in the cartoon square reads “On this site, in 1989, nothing happened.”

At time of publication, it is not clear whether Disney+ removed the episode or was ordered to by the authorities and Disney has not responded to requests for comment.

The discovery will lead to further concerns over censorship in Hong Kong….

(14) D&D DIVERSITY. “‘A safe haven’: how Dungeons & Dragons is slaying social anxiety” – the Guardian runs the numbers.

… Since its inception in the mid-1970s, the tabletop role-playing game Dungeons & Dragons (D&D) has brought together a far more diverse array of players than its stereotypes suggest. Earlier this year, the game’s publisher, Wizards of the Coast, released a report showing that, of its estimated 50 million players, 54% were younger than 30 and 40% identified as female. What it didn’t reveal was the rise in visibility of queer and neurodiverse players.

…For people such as Shadia Hancock, the founder of advocacy group Autism Actually and Dungeon Master to a group of young neurodiverse players, the therapeutic potential of the game has always been clear.

“It’s about creating a sense of community,” Hancock says. “I work out the players’ expectations at the beginning of a game. Some get really into creating their characters, some are more interested in finding items and exploring the world, others are really interested in how the characters met. We all have a mutual love of gaming, but we all want something different from the session.”

Some characteristics expressed by some of Hancock’s players – social anxiety, increased empathy, difficulty adapting to change, feeling overwhelmed in noisy environments – have become familiar to many Australians in the wake of lockdowns. Studies cited by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare found reported levels of social anxiety increased over the past two years among all age groups, with young neurodiverse Australians even more likely to have experienced a decline in wellbeing.

“While other people are excited about going out, I’m filled with dread,” Hancock tells me. “With Covid, we [autistic communities] had all these sudden changes, often with short notice, and there was this need to constantly adapt to new rules. Not knowing what is coming up is really anxiety-inducing. During the pandemic, that became a shared experience.”

(15) NEXT TIME, TAKE THE TRAIN. John Holbo’s “The Ones Who Take the Train to Omelas” is adorned with a big Omelas-themed travel poster (which you can see at the link.)

*Confused? This page contains a parody of a famous story, “The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas”, by Ursula K. Le Guin. I’d point you to it, but there are no versions legally free on the web. Buy a book! Read Wikipedia. If you are somehow here about the BTS song – sorry, I don’t know about that. (But with half a billion hits, somebody probably does.)

I’ve written notes on my take on Le Guin. An essay! That’s here

Also, once I made the graphics I tossed ’em on Redbubble. Forgive me. It seemed funny.

“I incline to think that people from towns up and down the coast have been coming in to Omelas during the last days before the Festival on very fast little trains and double-decked trams.”

– Ursula K. Le Guin, “The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas”

(16) DS9 ON NFT. Voice actor Joshua Martin put together a parody video where Deep Space Nine’s “Quark and Odo discuss NFTs and Crypto Currency”. There’s also a Twitter thread that starts here.

(17) I SCREAM, YOU SCREAM. SlashFilm reveals “This Is What You’re Really Hearing When R2-D2 Screams In Star Wars”.

…One fateful moment of stress managed to help define a character through more than four decades and nine movies in the Skywalker saga — and counting.

(18) STAND BY TO ENTER HYPE-SPACE. Gizmodo’s Rob Bricken pans Disney World’s effort to sell people on its new theme hotel: “Star Wars Galactic Starcruiser Hotel Preview Looks Unimpressive”.

If you’ve been slavering for your chance to spend thousands upon thousands of dollars to head to Walt Disney World’s upcoming Star Wars Galactic Starcruiser experience, might I suggest you towel off your chin for the time being? Disney has released a video preview of some of what awaits families who come aboard the Halcyon, and it doesn’t look particularly enticing.

The first thing you should know about this video is that it stars Disney Parks Imagineer Ann Morrow Johnson and The Goldbergs’ sitcom actor Sean Giambrone. The two take a very short tour of the Starcruiser, but instead of them just talking like normal people about what people who come to the Halcyon can expect, it’s scripted and painfully unfunny. You’ve been warned. But this video also raises an important question, which is: Disney wants $6,000 for this?

[Thanks to Andrew Porter, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, Danny Sichel, Jayn, Bill, Joey Eschrich, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Joe H.]

Pixel Scroll 11/27/21 And In The Barkness Dine Them

(1) SEVERANCE PAY. On The Last Leg, Jodie Whittaker tells the host about her emotional final day on Doctor Who, and the souvenir she stole from the set.

(2) NANOWRIMO DEADLINE APPROACHES. November is National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) – and guess which month is almost over? Mad Genius Club’s Amanda S. Green hit the goal, but knows from experience what can happen when “NaNoWriMo meets real life”.

… But the real problem for me and for a number of other writers is NaNo is a complete deviation from our normal way of writing. To push through and finish “the book”, most of us have to turn off the internal editor. We have to give ourselves permission not to write in all the details we usually put in during the first draft. We have to remember that what comes out is not the final product but is, at best, an expanded outline which will need another month or two to get ready for publication….

(3) GATOR GENESIS. It’s interesting that a Gothamist writer claims to have authenticated this story, because during my early days in fandom I’d heard it was perpetrated by Galaxy editor H.L. Gold. “The Alligator In The Sewer: Evidence Behind NYC’s Urban Legend”. The Wikipedia also devotes an article to “Sewer alligator” legends.

On a chilly day in 2010 I stood on the steps of City Hall to hold a press conference. Equipped with a proclamation from the Manhattan Borough President and an enlarged clipping from the NY Times, I was there to announce the First Annual Alligator in the Sewer Day, a pseudo-holiday I have been celebrating every year since.

Exactly 75 years earlier, on February 9th 1935, New York City’s greatest urban legend was born, and the NYT story, which ran the following day, proved that legend was true.

“Alligator Found in Uptown Sewer,” read the headline. The piece recounted how some East Harlem teens were shoveling snow down a storm sewer when one of them noticed movement below. He peered into the darkness and was stunned by what he saw. “Honest, it’s an alligator!” he proclaimed to his buddies….

(4) NO AHHHS ARC. Camestros Felapton provides the “Interim, spoiler-free, review of Doctor Who: Flux” you may not have known you needed.

… Overall, I think so far it has been pretty good. Like previous Chibnall seasons, there’s no stand-out 100% future-classic episode but he is leaning into his strengths. Those strengths include a good sense of the aesthetics of “good” Doctor Who episodes (but not the substance of it) and longer story arcs. Rehashing classic villains isn’t a great way of moving the series forward but Chibnall’s attempts at new ideas previously have largely fallen flat, so…I think I prefer him playing it safe….

(5) A WAY OUT. New Scientist’s Sally Adee reviews Charlie Jane Anders’ new collection in “Even Greater Mistakes review: Short sci-fi stories without the sexism”. The post ends:

… But as Anders shows us, we have choices in how to deal with these rigged systems. We can always throw the whole lot in the bin.

(6) VINDICATION. Vincent Czyz, reviewing a new edition, says “The jury’s in. The critics who agreed with an early assessment that 1975’s Dhalgren is a ‘literary landmark’ get to touch champagne flutes and congratulate one another,” in “Book Review: Samuel R. Delany’s ‘Dhalgren’ – A Critical War of Words” at The Arts Fuse.

“Very few suspect the existence of this city. It is as if not only the media but the laws of perspective themselves have redesigned knowledge and perception to pass it by. Rumor says there is practically no power here. Neither television cameras nor on-the-spot broadcasts function: that such a catastrophe as this should be opaque, and therefore dull, to the electric nation! It is a city of inner discordances and retinal distortions.” – Samuel R. Delany, Dhalgren

Dhalgren is a tragic failure,” howled science fiction heavyweight Harlan Ellison in his February 1975 review for the Los Angeles Times. “An unrelenting bore of a literary exercise afflicted with elephantiasis, anemia of ideas, and malnutrition of plot.”

“I have just read the very best ever to come out of the science fiction field,” countered Theodore Sturgeon, another SF heavyweight who, in my opinion, was a tad heavier. “Having experienced it, you will stand taller, understand more, and press your horizons back a little further away than you ever knew they could go.” Galaxy Magazine published his take on Dhalgren after Ellison weighed in.

Critic Darrell Schweitzer, writing for the fanzine Outworld (October 1975), threw in with Ellison, calling Dhalgren “shockingly bad.” “It is a dreary, dead book,” he went on to say, “about as devoid of content as any piece of writing can be and still have the words arranged in any coherent order.”

That seems a pretty definitive judgment, and yet forty-five years later Schweitzer repented: “I have to admit that Dhalgren seems well on its way to fulfilling the definition of ‘great literature’ I give here, i.e., that it means something different to readers and different points in their lives, and they keep coming back to it.”…

(7) MARCHING ON TURKEY DAY. Gothamist has a large gallery of photos from the “2021 Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade In NYC”. Here are two of them:

(8) LOVES A CHALLENGE. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.]  In the Washington Post, Michael Cavna interviews Lin-Manuel Miranda, who wrote seven songs for the new Disney animated film Encanto and who will write new songs with Alan Menken for the live-action The Little Mermaid remake scheduled to be released in 2023. “’Encanto’’s Lin-Manuel Miranda has become a go-to songwriter for Disney”.

…But it was while working together on Disney’s 2016 animated hit “Moana” — which yielded Miranda’s Oscar-nominated “How Far I’ll Go” — that the composer vocalized an “I Want” wish to screenwriter Bush, who recalls: “He told me he wanted to write the definitive Latin American Disney musical.”

Soon the two were talking with Bush’s “Zootopia” collaborator and fellow brass musician Byron Howard,who would also become a writer-director on “Encanto” (as would Charise Castro Smith). They shared the experience of coming from large extended families. Out of that grew an “Encanto” story that spotlights a dozen main characters — “unheard of in Disney animation,” says Bush….

(9) PEDESTRIAN FACTS. MeTV wants you to know: “Here’s what’s on the ground in ‘The Jetsons’”.

…One of the most common misconceptions about The Jetsons is that the cartoon never shows the ground beneath Orbit City. The Jetson family lives in the Skypad Apartments. George works at Spacely Space Sprockets. Both cylindrical buildings project into the sky like birdhouses on long poles. It is a world of flying cars.

This optimistic vision of the 21st century often left viewers wondering — what is on the ground? Well, the answer is… hobos, walking birds, concrete and parks.

One of the best views of the surface level comes in the seventh episode, “The Flying Suit.” Remember, The Jetsons originally aired for a single season in 1962–63, as reruns kept it on Saturday mornings for years. Anyway, this particular episode revolves around W.C. Cogswell and Mr. Spacely both developing a red jumpsuit that allows people to fly. Meanwhile, Elroy had concocted pills that allow people to fly. A mix-up at the dry cleaners swaps the suits, and in the end, both companies think their flying suit is a dud. Besides, who wants to slip on a special unitard when you can just pop a pill? The episode closes with Cogswell tossing his X-1500 flying suit out the window, believing it to be worthless….

(10) SONDHEIM OBIT. Stephen Sondheim, whose works includes CompanyA Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the ForumSunday in the Park with GeorgeSweeney ToddFolliesInto the WoodsAssassins and lyrics for West Side Story and Gypsy, died November 26 at the age of 91. The New York Times obituary is here cites one of his lesser-known genre creations:

…Mr. Sondheim’s first professional show business job was not in the theater at all; through the agency representing Hammerstein, he was hired to write for a 1950s television comedy, “Topper,” about a fussbudget banker haunted by a pair of urbane ghosts. (Much later, Mr. Sondheim wrote a whodunit film script, “The Last of Sheila,” with the actor Anthony Perkins; it was produced in 1973 and directed by Herbert Ross.)

Sondheim coauthored this episode of the fantasy sitcom Topper in 1954 when he was 24.

(11) MEMORY LANE.

[By Cat Eldridge.]

1995 — Twenty-six years ago this evening, the writers of Deep Space Nine decided to riff off of James Bond with the “Our Man Bashir” episode. It was directed by Winrich Kolbe from a story that originated with a pitch from Assistant Script Coordinator Robert Gillan which was turned into a script by Producer Ronald D. Moore. 

Although the episode takes its title from Our Man Flint, a major inspiration for the story was the James Bond films. This obvious influence resulted in Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer complaining to Paramount about it as they had GoldenEye coming out. Though why they thought it would affect the success of the film is a mystery as it was the best Pierce Brosnan Bond film and the most successful of his films. 

It was well-received at the time and has not been visited by the Suck Fairy which I hold is true of the entire series. Charlie Jane Anders at io9 considers it one of goofiest Deep Space Nine episodes, and Keith DeCandido at Tor.com says “holy crap is it fun”.  The trailer is here.

(12) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born November 27, 1907 L. Sprague de Camp. The Tales from Gavagan’s Bar he wrote with Fletcher Pratt are my favorite works by him. Best novel by him? I’d say that’s Lest Darkness Fall. His only Hugo was awarded at LoneStarCon2 for Time & Chance: An Autobiography. He got voted into the First Fandom Hall of Fame Award, and he got World Fantasy Award for Lifetime Achievement. His very first Award was an IFA for Lands Beyond that he wrote with Willie Ley. (Died 2000.)
  • Born November 27, 1935 Verity Lambert. Founding Producer of Doctor Who. (When she was appointed to Who in 1963, she was BBC Television’s only female drama producer, as well as the youngest.) After leaving BBC, she’d oversee the Quatermass series at Thames. She’d return to BBC to Executive Produce three seasons of So Haunt Me, a supernatural series.  Wiki has her producing an episode of Doctor Who called “A Happy Ending” in 2006 which it tuns out is one of this fannish productions notable for the presence of Susan, played by Carole Ann Ford, the daughter of the First Doctor.  (Died 2007.)
  • Born November 27, 1940 Bruce Lee. His only genre role was as Kato in The Green Hornet which to my utter surprise only lasted for twenty-six episodes between 1966 and 1967. He also appeared on Batman in three episodes, “The Spell of Tut”, “Batman’s Satisfaction”, and “A Piece of The Action”. Despite the various weird rumors, including Triad induced curses about his death, it was quite mundane. Donald Teare, an experienced forensic scientist who had been recommended by Scotland Yard was assigned to the Lee case. His conclusion was “death by misadventure” caused by cerebral edema due to a reaction to compounds present in the combination Equagesic medication. (Died 1973.)
  • Born November 27, 1951 Melinda Snodgrass, 70. She wrote several episodes of Next Gen while being the series’ story editor during its second and third seasons. She has also contributed produced scripts for the series Odyssey 5Outer Limits, Beyond Reality, and SeaQuest DSV. She’s contributed a lot of stories of the Wild Cards series of which she is co-editor, and I’m very fond of her Imperials Saga which is what that promo blurb referring to Bridgerton was about. 
  • Born November 27, 1957 Michael A. Stackpole, 64. Best known for his myriad Star Wars and BattleTech books, but I’m going to single him out for the excellent Once a Hero which was nominated for a Nebula, his Conan the Barbarian novel, and the two Crown Colonies novels.
  • Born November 27, 1961 Samantha Bond, 60. Best known for playing Miss Moneypenny in four James Bond films during the series’ Pierce Brosnan years. She was also Mrs Wormwood in three episodes of The Sarah Jane Adventures, the spin-off of Doctor Who, and played Helga in Erik the Viking which written and directed by Terry Jones. 
  • Born November 27, 1963 Fisher Stevens, 58. He’s best remembered as Ben Jabituya in Short Circuit (and renamed Ben Jahveri in the sequel), Chuck Fishman on Early Edition, and Eugene “The Plague” Belford in Hackers. He’s also had roles on The HungerLostThe Mentalist, Medium and Elementary.
  • Born November 27, 1974 Jennifer O’Dell, 47. Her only meaningful role to date, genre or otherwise, has been that of Veronica on Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Lost World but what a pulp heroine she made there . She’s had some minor roles such on Charmed and Bones, and appearances on films such as Alien Battlefield and Dr. Laurie Williams on Vampire flick Slayer but nothing major to date.

(13) COMICS SECTION.

  • Bizarro  tells the story of Dorian Moneybags.

(14) MIYAZAKI RETURNING. “Studio Ghibli’s Hayao Miyazaki Comes Out Of Retirement For New Film”Deadline has the story.

Famed anime director Hayao Miyazaki revealed he is coming out of retirement once again to make a feature length animated film.

In an interview with the New York Times, Miyazaki didn’t give much detail about the film, but mentioned its based on Genzaburo Yoshino’s 1937 book How Do You Live? The story follows a teenage boy in Tokyo who moves in with his uncle after his father dies. The novel is reportedly one of the director’s favorites.

Miyazaki didn’t confirm if the film would have the same name as the book, but when asked why he was returning to direct the film, he simply answered “Because I wanted to.” Studio Ghibli co-founder and producer Toshio Suzuki described the new film as “fantasy on a grand scale.”…

(15) PURPLE PEOPLE. In the Washington Post, David Betancourt interviews Hailee Steinfeld, who plays Hawkeye’s sidekick Kate Bishop in Hawkeye but could play an increasingly important role in the MCU in the future. “Hailee Steinfeld of ‘Hawkeye’ could become the next big star of the Marvel universe”.

Hailee Steinfeld had no idea how much one color was about to take over her new superhero life.

Purple has become her second skin during the production and promotion of her highly anticipated series “Hawkeye.” Steinfeld kept seeing the color splashed across the “thousands” of pages she read of the Hawkeye comics, which she enjoyed so much she keeps them on display at her home. Both her character, Kate Bishop, and Clint Barton, played by Jeremy Renner, have purple suits — and it was obvious her chats with the wardrobe department on “Hawkeye” would have a singular focus.

“It’s so funny because, I of course obviously knew about the purple walking into this … but I guess maybe I didn’t. Because it has become my world,” Steinfeld told The Washington Post. “But I’m not mad about it. I do love the color purple.”…

(16) TO PROMOTE PRINT SALES. “Solana Beach Art Gallery to Host Dr. Seuss Art Collection” says Times of San Diego.

Exclusive Collections in Solana Beach announced this week it will host a private collection of artwork by beloved author Theodor Seuss Geisel, also known as Dr. Seuss.

Virtually unknown to the general public, the art collection features paintings and sculptures created by the famous children’s author.

Organizers described the work as “a mind-expanding collection based on decades of artwork, which Dr. Seuss created at night for his own personal pleasure.”

(17) CAVE LIBRUM. In the Washington Post, Alexandra Petri says we probably ought to ban all books, because books are dangerous! “School boards should ban all books. They’re just too dangerous.”

… Books follow you home and pry open your head and rearrange the things inside. They make you feel things, sometimes, hope and grief and shame and confusion; they tell you that you’re not alone, or that you are, that you shouldn’t feel ashamed, or that you should; replace your answers with questions or questions with answers. This feels dangerous to do, a strange operation to perform on yourself, especially late at night when everyone else in the house is sleeping….

(18) ANTIQ-TOCK-QUITY. “Surveillance, Companionship, and Entertainment: The Ancient History of Intelligent Machines” at The MIT Press Reader.

Robots have histories that extend far back into the past. Artificial servants, autonomous killing machines, surveillance systems, and sex robots all find expression from the human imagination in works and contexts beyond Ovid (43 BCE to 17 CE) and the story of Pygmalion in cultures across Eurasia and North Africa. This long history of our human-machine relationships also reminds us that our aspirations, fears, and fantasies about emergent technologies are not new, even as the circumstances in which they appear differ widely. Situating these objects, and the desires that create them, within deeper and broader contexts of time and space reveals continuities and divergences that, in turn, provide opportunities to critique and question contemporary ideas and desires about robots and artificial intelligence (AI)….

(19) STAR WARS NEWS. Disney dropped the trailer for their Boba Fett series today: “The Book of Boba Fett”.

“The Book of Boba Fett,” a thrilling Star Wars adventure teased in a surprise end-credit sequence following the Season 2 finale of “The Mandalorian,” finds legendary bounty hunter Boba Fett and mercenary Fennec Shand navigating the galaxy’s underworld when they return to the sands of Tatooine to stake their claim on the territory once ruled by Jabba the Hutt and his crime syndicate.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Andrew Porter, Michael Toman, Alan Baumler, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, and JJ for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]