Pixel Scroll 3/13/21 If You Like Antikythera, And Getting Caught In The Rain

(1) WHAT MONEY CAN’T BUY. ALLEGEDLY. “’Batman Is Ours Alone to Exploit.’ DC Comics Warns Against Using Its Characters in NFTs”Yahoo! Finance has the story. (Does that headline remind you of “All These Worlds Are Yours, Except Europa. Attempt No Landing There” – or is it just me?)

Publisher DC Comics, a subsidiary of Warner Bros, itself a unit of Time Warner, is unhappy with artists using its intellectual property (IP) in the form of non-fungible tokens (NFTs) and said it has its own plans for characters.  

In a letter sent to freelancers employed by the firm Thursday, Jay Kogan, DC Comics’ senior VP of legal affairs, stressed it is against company policy to sell digital images featuring DC’s IP with or without NFTs.

… Recently NFTs have become a craze with millions of dollars being spent on rare or desirable digital artworks. On Thursday, a piece of digital artwork or NFT by crypto artist Beeple was sold for a record $69.3 million by the auction house Christie’s….

What is a non-fungible token? Wikipedia says:

Non-Fungible Token (NFT) is a digital file whose unique identity and ownership are verified on a blockchain (a digital ledger). NFTs are not mutually interchangeable (see fungibility). NFTs to things such as a digital artwork are commonly auctioned at online NFT marketplaces. The token can be bought with cryptocurrency and resold.

NFTs are used to commodify digital things, such as digital art, video game items, and music files. Access to any copy of the original file, however, is not restricted to the owner of the token.

(2) WHO STARTED THIS SUBGENRE ANYWAY? Jeff Somers goes looking for “The Untold Truth Of The Origins Of Cyberpunk” at Grunge. (Even if you lived this history, a refresher course might be helpful just the same.)

These days, the word cyberpunk conjures up images of Keanu Reeves and, per Gizmodo, terribly, horribly broken video games.

Cyberpunk, a sub-genre of science fiction that explores a counter-cultural and anti-authoritarian worldview through the lens of a dystopian, technologically-advanced, and dehumanized future, has proved to be prescient. No other genre of speculative fiction has remained as relevant and useful over the course of decades. Cyberpunk stories are as powerful as ever, and examples dating back decades remain evergreen in a way that most sci-fi can’t manage….

…In the early 1980s, two short stories clarified the fact that this wasn’t just a loose collection of themes and tropes, but rather a distinct sub-genre of science fiction. As noted by The Verge, the first was “Burning Chrome” by William Gibson, published in 1982. Not only did this story literally introduce the word “cyberspace” to our vocabulary, it’s often identified as the first true example of cyberpunk. It tells the story of two hackers who use sophisticated software to steal a criminal’s fortune, only to be left bereft and heartbroken.

The word “cyberpunk” didn’t exist yet, however. As reported by the Encyclopedia Britannica, that happened when Bruce Bethke published a short story in 1982 that (per Infinityplus) was literally titled “Cyberpunk.” According to Neon Dystopia, Bethke purposefully invented the word to describe a future generation that would combine the nihilism and violence of angry teenagers with technical proficiency….

(3) FANHISTORY ONLINE. Joe Siclari provides a roundup of the incredible number of recent additions to The Fanac Fan History Project website in Fanac Newsletter 15 [PDF file]. A big part of their work is scanning fanzines and securing permission to host them online.

…The reason for digitally archiving fanzines is to make them accessible to fans everywhere. When someone hears how wonderful a storied fanzine like Quandry or The Acolyte was, they can use the archive to read the issues instead of just wonder what they were like. Originally, in the 1990s, we started retyping issues (and hey, thanks Judy Bemis!). In the 2000s we started putting up JPGs of each page, so readers could just click their way through. Now, we’re putting up searchable PDFs. One of our projects is to replace those fanzines that were accessible in typed or JPG form with searchable PDFs. Since the last newsletter, we have replaced our complete runs of the following titles with searchable PDFs: Aporrheta (H. P. Sanderson), Bane (Vic Ryan), Double Bill (Bill Bowers and Bill Mallardi), Fanscient (Donald Day), Fantastic Worlds (Edward Ludwig and Sam Sackett), Granfalloon (Linda Bushyager), Hyphen (Walt Willis and Chuck Harris), Innuendo (Terry Carr), Mota (Terry Hughes), Slant (Walter A. Willis), Stellar (Ted White and Larry Stark), Toto (Walt Willis et al), and Void (Jim and Greg Benford, Ted White). We’ve also replaced all the issues we have of: Cry of the Nameless (134 issues, F. M. Busby, Wally Weber, et al), Outworlds (70 issues, Bill Bowers, except for a one page flyer), and Spanish Inquisition (8 issues, Jerry Kaufman and Suzle Tompkins).

The latest newsletter includes two short and rather interesting articles about applying genealogical research to answer fanhistorical questions.

  • “Other people’s genealogy” by Leah Zeldes

…Transferring the list of names, I realized at least a third of the pre-reg members of Chicon, the 1940 Worldcon, were fictitious — alter egos of some of the others. Forry Ackerman accounts for at least seven of them…

  • “Using Genealogical Records to Find More Information on (Mostly Dead) Fans” by Laurie Mann

… Recently, I’ve started to give Mark Olson & Leah [Zeldes] Smith a hand with research for Fancyclopedia 3. We were trying to straighten out how some attendees of the 1939 Worldcon, Nycon 1, were related. There were a few attendees with the same last name (https://fancyclopedia.org/Nycon_1_Membership_List). Were they related? Multiple Nycon 1 registrants had last names like Alberti, Racic, Sykora, & Unger. I searched in the 1930 census through ancestry.com to see what I could find….

(4) DRACULA HAS QUESTIONS. In the Washington Post, Alexandra Petri says Dracula has been a good citizen and has been hiding in his castle, but now that the vaccine is coming, he wants to know if the vaccine has garlic in it and if he flies around as a bat during the day, does he have to wear a mask? “I have not left my castle in ages, and I have some questions about post-vaccine guidelines”.

…Yes, CDC, I have been living in seclusion for some time, unable to go out and about and enjoy all the delicacies of taste that I would wish. So my questions for you are legion. First: Should I get the vaccine? The only doctor I know, Van Helsing, counseled strongly against my receiving the vaccine at all, but in the past he has tried to stab me through the heart with a sharpened wooden stake, and I fear he does not have my best interests in mind….

(5) HE DID THE MASH. “Hergé’s heirs sue artist over his Tintin/Edward Hopper mashups”The Guardian has the story.

A French artist who imagines romantic adventures for the boy adventurer Tintin in the landscapes of Edward Hopper has been sued by the Tintin creator Hergé’s heirs, who said it was not funny to take advantage of Tintin by putting him in an erotic universe, especially as Hergé had chosen not to caricature women.

In Breton artist Xavier Marabout’s Hergé-Hopper mashupsTintin is variously painted into Hopper’s Road and Houses, scratching his head as he greets a woman in a car; looking disgruntled in a version of Hopper’s Cape Cod Evening, 1939; and kissing a girl in a car, in a spin on Hopper’s Queensborough Bridge, 1913. On his website, Marabout describes his work as “strip art”, in which he “strips distant artistic universes to merge them together” in a style where “parody [is] omnipresent”….

(6) CROWN RESTORED. “’Avatar’ once again highest-grossing film of all time at the box office”CNBC explains how the 2009 movie regained the record.

…Over the weekend, James Cameron’s sci-fi epic was rereleased in China and garnered enough in ticket sales to overtake “Avengers: Endgame” for the record.

“Avatar” first became the top-selling global release of all time in 2010 when it usurped Cameron’s “Titanic.” In 2019, “Avengers: Endgame” won the title with a $2.797 billion box office haul.

As of Saturday, “Avatar’s” box office gross surpassed $2.802 billion, allowing it to earn back its crown…

(7) CAT WITH NO HAT. “Sam and Bucky Debate If Doctor Strange Is a Wizard in Comedic Sneak Peek” at Yahoo! Entertainment.

…In the wake of the events of Avengers: Endgame, Sam and Bucky will team up for “a global adventure that tests their abilities — and their patience.” The six-episode spinoff is set to be a “cinematic experience” in which the pair navigate a world post-Steve Rogers’ Captain America. Expect plenty of action and more pop culture references.

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]

  • Born March 13, 1855 – Percival Lowell.  Founder of the Lowell Observatory.  Three books he meant as nonfiction, MarsMars and Its CanalsMars as the Abode of Life; posthumously published poem “The Canals of Mars”.  Honorary degrees from Amherst and from Clark.  Prix Jules Janssen.  Traveled in and wrote about Japan and Korea.  Better data later showed his astronomical life-work was mistaken, but let us not minimize him.  (Died 1916) [JH]
  • Born March 13, 1911 – L. Ron Hubbard.  Never aspiring to great literature, he may have achieved it with Fear; he sought to be, and was, a first-rate yarn-spinner; his stories sold, among us and in Westerns, aviation, travel, romance.  So fluent he used many pseudonyms.  I’ve always liked the Ole Doc Methuselah stories, comedy on the science fiction – fantasy border; look for the Edd Cartier illustrations.  H toward the end of his life turned out another dozen novels in the old pulp style.  Battlefield Earth, the first of them, has a hero who loves his horse more than his girl; when he’s beaten the evil aliens, we get to wonder who was behind them, which proves to be interstellar bankers – sharkmen.  (Died 1986) [JH]
  • Born March 13, 1928 Douglas Rain. Though most of his work was as a stage actor, he was the voice of the HAL 9000 for 2001: A Space Odyssey and its sequel. He’s in Sleeper a few years later as the voices of the Evil Computer and Various Robot Butlers. (Died 2018.) (CE) 
  • Born March 13, 1932 Richard Lawrence Purtill, He’s here because EoSF lists him as the author of Murdercon, a 1982 novel where a murder is discovered at a SF Convention. I’ve not heard of it but was wondering if y’all had heard of this work. (Died 2016.) (CE) 
  • Born March 13, 1933 – Diane Dillon, age 83.  Widow of Leo Dillon; they worked together so intimately they sometimes said their graphic art was by a third person made of them both; anyway among our very best, likewise outside our field.  A hundred sixty covers, two hundred twenty interiors for us.  No. 10 here has my note on LD.  More? certainly: here is Mother Goose, Numbers on the Loosehere is Le Morte d’Arthurhere is To Every Thing There Is a Seasonhere is The People Could Fly; here here is 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea.  [JH]
  • Born March 13, 1934 – Barry Hughart.  Lovable for Bridge of Birds (World Fantasy Award, Mythopoeic Award) and two sequels, set in “an Ancient China that never was”, or as one of us said, “filled with Chinese legend, mostly invented by the author…. [its] verisimilitude demonstrates the care with which Hughart studied actual Chinese folklore and history”, hello Steven.  Also worked on eight movies (will films pass out of use, or continue like hang up the telephone?).  So far this Website can still be viewed.  (Died 2019) [JH]
  • Born March 13, 1944 – Bonnie Dalzell, age 77.  Four covers, thirty interiors.  Here is the Apr 76 Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction.  Here is the May 77 Galaxy.  Here is a Pierson’s Puppeteer; here is a bandersnatch.  Official Artist at Boskone 12.  Contributor to Mythologies.   [JH]
  • Born March 13, 1950 William H. Macy Jr., 71. I’ll start his Birthday note by noting that he was in the superb Pleasantville as George Parker. He’s shown up in a lot of genre works including but limited to Somewhere in Time, Evolver, The Secret of NIMH 2: Timmy to the RescueThe Night of the Headless HorsemanJurassic Park IIISahara and The Tale of Despereaux. (CE) 
  • Born March 13, 1956 Dana Delany, 65. I’ve come today to praise her work as a voice actress. She was in a number of DCU animated films, first as Andrea Beaumont in Batman: The Mask of The Phantasm, then as Lois Lane in Superman: The Animated SeriesSuperman: Brainiac Attacks and Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox. (That’s not a complete listing.) Remember that Wing Commander film? Well there was an animated series, Wing Commander Academy, in which she was Gwen Archer Bowman. And though definitely not genre or even genre related, i must single out her role in Tombstone. (CE) 
  • Born March 13, 1959 – Steve Davies, age 62.  Chaired Eastercon 50.  Member, RSFG (Reading SF Group, i.e. of Berkshire, England; it ‘has a proud tradition of not organising things’).  Chaired Birmingham Univ. SF Soc.  Active in the PLOKTA (Press Lots Of Keys To Abort, ‘the journal of superfluous technology’) Cabal, thus part of two Nova awards and a Hugo for Best Fanzine. Composes filksongs (linking to Fancyclopedia III although I still think the Wikipedia article with E. Bull and P. Nielsen Hayden is swell).  [JH]
  • Born March 13, 1966 Alastair Reynolds, 55. As depressing as they are given what they lead up to, The Prefect Dreyfus novels are my favorite novels by him. That said, Chasm City is fascinating. The only ones by him that I absolutely failed to have any enthusiasm for is his Revenger Universe series which leaves me cold. His next novel in the Revelation Space series, Inhibitor Phase, is out this July. (CE) 
  • Born March 13, 1967 Lou Anders, 54. A Hugo-winning editor. He’s has been editorial director of Prometheus Books’ SF imprint Pyr since its launch fifteen years ago. He’s a crack editor of anthologies. I’ve very fond of his Live Without a Net,  Sideways in Time and FutureShocks anthologies. I note that he has a fantasy trilogy, Thrones and Bones, but I’ve not heard of it til now. (CE) 
  • Born March 13, 1986 – Ashley Christman, age 35.  Three novels.  “Grace Caldwell [is] so intimately connected with death that it frightens her….  Vampires are afraid of her and the Sidhe are confused by her….  her ex-boyfriend, FBI agent Jack Montgomery, blackmails her into helping him solve [omitted – JH].

(9) START THE PRESSES! “Marvel is going back to print on comics that sold out thanks to WandaVision craze” reports Yahoo! (In a way, Gene Wolfe would be shocked. He used to say – sarcastically – that the difference between a professional publisher and a fanzine editor is that if a faned sells out his zine he’ll print more.)

Never doubt Wanda Maximoff’s power to change reality. Her starring role in the Disney+ series WandaVision didn’t just dominate pop culture discourse for the past few months, it also has created a huge run on many of the most relevant Marvel comics featuring Scarlet Witch and the Vision.

EW has confirmed that Marvel has been going back to press for new print runs of Vision by Tom King and Gabriel Hernandez Walta, Scarlet Witch by James Robinson and various artists, and Vision and Scarlet Witch by Steve Englehart and artists like Don Heck and Bill Mantlo, among other comics. House of M, the 2005 event series in which Wanda changed the entire reality of the Marvel Universe to one where her adoptive father Magneto ruled over mankind, had its print stock depleted “almost overnight” in the wake of WandaVision‘s premiere.

(10) SECRET IDENTITIES. “This Jewish female artist from the comic book golden age was overlooked for decades” at Jewish Telegraphic Agency.

Like the comic superheroes they invented, the Jewish creators of the characters often had secret identities – at least different names. Superman creators Joe Shuster and Jerome Siegel used the pseudonyms Joe Carter and Jerry Ess. Bob Kane, born Robert Kahn, created Batman. Jack Kirby, the pen name of Jacob Kurtzenberg, concocted Captain America.

Although lesser known, the comic book heroine Señorita Rio was Hollywood starlet Rita Farrar by day and Nazi-fighting secret agent by night. The artist who drew Rio’s action-packed panels in the 1940s, and signed as L. Renee, lived a sort of double life, too.

“Everybody assumed I was a man,” artist Lily Renee Phillips has said of the fan mail she received at the time, which was always addressed to “Mr. Renee.” Fans knew neither Renee’s gender nor her incredible origin story, which rivaled the plotline of Señorita Rio. 

In the New York offices of Fiction House, the comic book publishing firm where Renee worked, she was a scrappy immigrant who worked her way up from erasing pencil marks to drafting her own heroines. Outside work she was a Vienna-born Holocaust survivor who fled Austria after the 1938 Anschluss, the Nazi annexation of Austria. She escaped to England on a Kindertransport and reunited with her parents in New York in 1940….

(11) WORLDBUILDING IS CHARACTER BUILDING. In “The Mystery Is The Human Psyche: On Shakespeare, Crime, and Human Motivation” on CrimeReads, E.J. Beaton discusses how she studied Shakespeare’s use of psychology in her DAW fantasy novel The Councillor.

…If Julius Caesar were simply a retelling of political events, it wouldn’t be so compelling. The real drama lies not in how the assassination is arranged, but in why the main characters commit their crimes. Both Cassius and Brutus have feelings about Caesar as a person, and both have ideas about power and justice. One man prioritizes his envy, and the other lets his ideals override his friendship: that is where the humanity lies. We all choose between emotion and logic in our daily lives, and even high-ranking politicians question their loyalty to their leaders, oscillating between personal values and collective order….

Another dimension of Beaton’s novel is discussed in “My Favorite Bit: E.J. Beaton Talks About THE COUNCILLOR” at Mary Robinette Kowal’s blog.

…While I worked on my debut novel The Councillor, I realised that I wanted my main character, Lysande, to live in a world where being bisexual is normal. Because The Councillor is a fantasy novel, I had the chance to create a world where Lysande’s sexuality is not only accepted, but utterly unremarkable. She has a parcel of secrets to conceal, but in the realm of Elira, where the story is set, her sexuality isn’t one of those. I tried to people the story with other queer characters, and to include casual references to same-sex couples, too.

By the time I finished the novel, a word for these kinds of societies was floating around fantasy book spaces – “queernorm.” The power of that word rings in its very sound. Queerness is, by definition, strangeness, and in most societies, queer people are positioned as other to the cultural norm of straightness. So for queer to be norm sounds like a revolution. It feels like a sudden leap into full sun, hart-swift, with no going back.

(12) BE CAREFUL OUT THERE. CrimeRead’s Cynthia Pelayo says “Fairy Tales Are Dark For a Reason—They’re Trying to Warn Us About Danger”.

…It’s thought that the brothers [Grimm] kept much of the grim and gore, even heightening it a bit, because it stoked reader’s interests. Murder and mayhem sells. It’s also thought then that situations like mentions of pre-marital sex, like in Rapunzel, where her young suitor climbs into her tower, was omitted—or quickly glossed over.

So why did the brothers leave in so much terror, and I suppose why did Walt Disney find these tales suitable to adapt into childhood fantasy? Perhaps the horrible things were left in as a warning. That is all that most of us can assume right now, because in many fairy tales it is clear to interpret who is the protagonist and who is the villain. The lines are usually clearly drawn between good and evil, and in fairy tales, very often that evil is by chance—just like in life.

(13) VIDEO OF THE DAY. “System Error” from DUST.

George works at a convenience store, desperately hoping for a friend. But George is a robotic service unit, and robotic service units do not have friends. Not yet, anyway.

[Thanks to Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, JJ, Michael Toman, Martin Morse Wooster, John King Tarpinian, Cat Eldridge, and John Hertz for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editors of the day Bill and Andrew (not Werdna).]

Pixel Scroll 10/10/19 We’ve Secretly Replaced The Pixels In Mike’s Scroll With (Qvqa’g Jr Whfg Gryy Lbh, Vg’f N *FRPERG*?)

(1) THE GAME OF THE NAME. John D. Berry renders his verdict about their usefulness and design in “A tale of three nametags”.

In the course of less than a month this summer, I attended three major events, each of which had a nametag that attendees were supposed to wear. The first, in Dublin, was this year’s World Science Fiction Convention, which was being held in Ireland for the first time. The second, a week later in Belfast, was the Eurocon, or European Science Fiction Convention, which moves around among European countries and was hosted by the organizers of Titancon, an annual Belfast science fiction convention; holding it in Northern Ireland the week after the worldcon made it easy for people visiting from other countries to attend both conventions on their trip. The third event was ATypI 2019, the annual conference of the Association Typographique Internationale, in Tokyo – ATypI’s second time in Asia, as it happens….

(2) WBAI STAFF STILL FIGHTING. The Brooklyn Eagle heard it from Jim Freund, host of a sff radio show at the station: “WBAI radio staffers, still barred from air, ramp up fight”.

“It ain’t over,” radio host Jim Freund told the Brooklyn Eagle on Tuesday.

Freund, 65, hosts a science fiction and fantasy talk show called “Hour of the Wolf” on 99.5 WBAI FM — the decades-old, listener-sponsored radio station currently taking its parent nonprofit, the Pacifica Foundation, to court.

On Monday, Pacifica — which owns a slate of other independently operated radio stations — abruptly shut down local programming at WBAI and shuttered its Atlantic Avenue workspace, citing millions of dollars of debt and the desire to rebuild the station around national, syndicated content.

By Tuesday morning, the staff — which consists largely of unpaid volunteers — was granted a temporary restraining order by the Manhattan Supreme Court, barring Pacifica from terminating any WBAI employees or impeding on its local programming in any way until Oct. 18, when both parties must appear in court.

But as of Wednesday, producers said local programming was still being kept off the air.

“This isn’t the first time something like this has happened,” said Freund, who has hosted “Hour of the Wolf” on WBAI for nearly half a century. “In 1977, there was an incident so huge that Pacifica took us off the air for three months. There was static.”…

(3) DON’T CALL HIM LATE FOR DINNER. Columbia News caught up with Jeremy Dauber, the Atran Professor of Yiddish Language, Literature and Culture, to chat about his first children’s book Mayhem and Madness: Chronicles of a Teenaged Supervillain, what he read as a child and whom he would invite to a dinner party — “Releasing His Inner Teenager”

Q. You’re organizing a dinner party. Which three scholars or academics, dead or alive, do you invite?

A. The first guest would have to be Tolkien, Oxford’s Merton Professor of English Language and Literature. Then Gregory Benford, the noted science fiction writer and the University of California at Irvine’s Professor Emeritus of Physics and Astronomy. There have always been rumors that Elena Ferrante is actually an Italian professor; if whoever it was accepted the invitation, we’d find out for sure!

(4) NEW SYSTEMS. Nature advance posts a look back nearly a quarter of a century to the detection of the “First exoplanet found around a Sun-like star”.

Anyone over the age of 35 will remember growing up in a world in which only one planetary system was known — our own. We remember proudly reciting the names of the nine planets (eight before Pluto’s discovery in 1930, and again today with its reclassification as a dwarf planet in 2006) and wondering what other planets might exist around the stars in the night sky. Contemplating life beyond the Solar System was relegated to science fiction. This all changed in 1995 when Mayor and Queloz1 reported the detection of the first exoplanet around a Sun-like star…

(5) FLOP OR ‘FLIX? Is this the new market reality? “Studio Dilemma: Risk a Box Office Flop, or Sell to Netflix?” – seek the answer along withThe Hollywood Reporter.

…Call it Tom’s Choice. Like all the major studios, Sony Pictures is questing for new franchises — and after years of development, it might have one with the He-Man movie Masters of the Universe.

But while the picture is on the calendar for release in March 2021, sources tell The Hollywood Reporter that studio chairman Tom Rothman is exploring the prospect of getting risk-free cash for the pricey project by making it for Netflix instead. A studio source says talks are preliminary, but such a deal would make Sony the next studio after Paramount to start making movies belonging exclusively or almost exclusively to the streamer.

So there’s the dilemma: seek a studio or financier to partner on the project, holding on to various rights and territories, or make the safe deal with Netflix (which would not seem quite so safe if the film were a huge hit and it already was sold).

(6) LESSING CENTENNIAL. Nature looks at Doris Lessing’s science fiction in what would have been her 100th year. “Doris Lessing at 100: roving time and space”

Her lifelong interest in science and societal upheaval is embodied in fascinating ways in Canopus in Argos, a series of five books published from 1979 to 1983. (She came up with the title a few weeks after seeing, and loving, George Lucas’s film Star Wars, in 1978. The inspiration might have been the ‘crawl text’ at the film’s start.)…

 Novelist Anthony Burgess, author of the dystopian novel A Clockwork Orange (1962), complained of her “fanciful cosmic viewpoint”. Although science-fiction doyenne Ursula K. Le Guin praised some character sketches in Shikasta as “immortal diamond”, she found the whole at times “little more than a pulp-Galactic Empire with the Goodies fighting the Baddies”. Undeterred, Lessing worked her way through the series, declaring bloodymindedly that “space fiction, with science fiction, makes up the most original branch of literature now”. She had friends among sci­fi authors, including Brian Aldiss, and happily attended meetings of the International Conference on the Fantastic in the Arts. She championed the genre as influential in mainstream literature, whose pundits nevertheless “are much to blame for patronising or ignoring it”. 

(7) THE FACTS OF SFF LIFE. Andrew Liptak, in “Two New Books Examine the Lost History of Speculative Fiction”, gives readers of the B&N Sci-Fi & Fantasy Blog persuasive reasons to read two works of genre history.

Science fiction, fantasy, and horror are genres with a long history behind them, and historians and writers have spilled plenty of ink covering the authors, events, franchises, and works that form their bedrock. Recently, two books have hit stores that are well worth picking up if you’re a fan of genre history: Monster, She Wrote: The Women Who Pioneered Horror & Speculative Fiction, by Lisa Kröger and Melanie R. Anderson, and Lost Transmissions: The Secret History of Science Fiction and Fantasy, by Desirina Boskovich. Both offer excellent examinations of the genres while shedding a bit of light on parts of their history that aren’t often illuminated.

(8) THE MAGIC NUMBER. Nick Kolakowski picks “5 Classics of Cyberpunk Noir” at CrimeReads.

From its inception, cyberpunk has shared quite a bit of DNA with crime fiction. Your archetypical (some might say stereotypical) cyberpunk anti-hero, hacking into the mainframe of a highly militarized mega-corporation, could easily trade some tips about life on the street with a grizzled safecracker from a Richard Stark novel or Michael Mann film. Both cyberpunk and crime fiction often focus on those who live on the edge of society, trying to scratch out a living while wrestling with some degree of existential ennui.

(9) TODAY IN HISTORY.

  • October 10, 2008 City of Ember enjoyed its theatrical release.  The film starred Saoirse Ronan and Toby Jones, currently The Librarian in The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance. It’s based on the series by Jeanne DuPrau. Rotten Tomatoes gave it rating of 53%. 

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born October 10, 1924 Edward Wood Jr. Though known for Plan 9 from Outer Space, he did a lot of bad genre films including Night of the Monster and Bride of The Ghouls. (Died 1978.)
  • Born October 10, 1927 Dana Elcar. Most of you will remember him as Peter Thornton on MacGyver, but he has a long genre history including Russ in Condorman which was inspired by Robert Sheckley’s The Game of X. He also played Sheriff George Paterson in Dark Shadows, and showed up in 2010 as Dimitri Moisevitch. (Died 2005.)
  • Born October 10, 1929 Robin Hardy. Wicker Man is the film he’s known for though he followed that up with The Wicker Tree, an adaptation of his Cowboys for Christ novel. Anyone seen it? (Died 2016.)
  • Born October 10, 1931 Victor Pemberton. Writer of the script for the the “Fury from the Deep”, a Second Doctor story in which he created the Doctor’s sonic screwdriver. He had appeared as an actor in the series, in a non-speaking role as a scientist in “The Moonbase” story. In 1976, he wrote the BBC audio drama Doctor Who and the Pescatons which I remember hearing. Quite good it was. (Died 2007.)
  • Born October 10, 1931 Jack Jardine. A long-time L.A. fan who was present at many West Coast cons and who shared the dais on panels with some of the major names in SF. He attended his last convention, in a wheelchair, assisted by his daughter Sabra, after a debilitating stroke at the age of 70. His health continued to get worse until he died from heart failure. File 770 has more here. (Died 2009.)
  • Born October 10, 1941 Peter Coyote, 78. He actually did two genre films in 1982 with the first being Timerider: The Adventure of Lyle Swann in which he appeared as Porter Reese and  the second being E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial which he’s Keys, the Agent hunting E.T. down. Sphere in which he’s Captain Harold C. Barnes is his next SF outing followed by The 4400 and FlashForward series being his next major genre involvements.
  • Born October 10, 1947 Laura Brodian Freas Beraha, 72. While married to Kelly Freas, she wrote Frank Kelly Freas: As He Sees It with him along with quite a few essays such as “ On the Painting of Beautiful Women or Ayesha, She Who Must Be Obeyed” and “ Some of My Best Critics are Friends – or Vice Versa“. She’s credited solely for the cover art for the 1993 Easton Press interior art for The Left Hand of Darkness according to ISFDB. 
  • Born October 10, 1966 Bai Ling, 53. She’s Miss West in Wild West West and the Mysterious Woman in Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow, she has a major role as  Guanyin in The Monkey King which aired on Syfy.

(11) COMICS SECTION.

(12) PRANK. The Hollywood Reporter has the story: “‘Joker’: Student Banned From AMC Theaters for ‘No Singles Policy’ Prank”.  

Given the mild cultural panic surrounding the Oct. 4 release of Todd Phillips’ Joker, it’s fair to speculate that theater security and guest services departments have had a rough couple weeks and were on edge going into last weekend. A student at Cal State Long Beach decided to test their patience anyhow, and got hit with a lifetime ban for his efforts.

On the night of Oct. 3, Twitter user @jinpayn — who declined to share his first name with The Hollywood Reporter but whose last name is Payne — posted a photo of a flyer taped to a ticket kiosk outside the AMC Orange 30 cinema in Orange, California, that read, “Please note: We are enforcing a strict NO SINGLES POLICY for tonight’s showings of JOKER due to safety precautions. We will not be admitting anyone without an additional partner.” “Great, I can’t see @jokermovie because I’m here alone. Wtf @amctheaters?” he tweeted

(13) COSPLAY FINALIST OUSTED FROM COMPETTION. “Comic Con bans cosplay champion’s ‘blackface’ entry” and the organizers say they are reviewing all their terms and conditions to prevent this from happening again.

French cosplay champion Alice Livanart has been removed from the EuroCosplay finals by organisers after she was accused of “blackface.”

The EuroCosplay Championships, to be held at MCM Comic Con in London later this month, pit together the winners of individual competitions in 25 European countries.

Alice Livanart won the France Cosplay Cup in September 2019 with her cosplay of League of Legends character Pyke.

However, she has now been banned from the European finals after allegations on social media that her costume was insensitive.

(14) ACCIO, TREASURE! BBC reveals which “Harry Potter first edition sells for £46,000 at auction”.

A rare copy of the first Harry Potter book has sold for £46,000 at auction after it was kept in a briefcase for safekeeping for more than 20 years.

The Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone hardback edition was given to a Lancashire family who planned to keep it as an heirloom.

They decided to sell it after hearing about another book fetching £28,500.

The 1997 edition is the “Holy Grail” for collectors, a spokesman for the auction house said.

…Only 500 copies were published in the book’s first print run, with 300 of those sent to libraries.

(15) GRAPHIC EXAMPLES. You’ve heard of the comics censorship that happened in the Fifties, and after you read the examples CrimeReads offers in “A History of EC Comics in 7 Tales of Murder & Horror” you’ll know what it was about.

“Split Personality”—The Vault of Horror 29

Ed King is one of EC’s long line a smooth-talking, pencil-mustached con men. He sees dollar signs after learning of rich twin-sister agoraphobes. Both sisters fall for the oily eel, but if he marries only one of them, he’ll only get half their fortune. So the snake decides to play his own twin. It only makes sense, right? Eventually the dames catch on, and with EC’s classic I’ve-gone-mad signifiers (Little Orphan Annie eyes, frozen grins, sweat beads), the sisters split Ed down the middle so they can each enjoy half. As our host, the Vault-Keeper says, Ed made “a BIGAMISTake!” (Note: Another tale, “How Green Was My Alley” is the same story, but with the addition of bowling/golf, and the two-timer getting his head/eye used as balls.)

(16) UNEXPECTEDLY PLANNING AHEAD. “Israel cave bones: Early humans ‘conserved food to eat later'”.

Scientists in Israel say they have found evidence that early humans deliberately stored bones from animals to eat the fatty marrow later.

It is the earliest evidence that humans living between 200,000 and 420,000 years ago had the foresight to anticipate future needs, they say.

Early humans had not previously been thought capable of such dietary planning.

Researchers analysed bone specimens at Qesem cave near Tel Aviv.

They identified cut marks on most of the bone surfaces – consistent with preservation and delayed consumption.

(17) DOING WHAT A NINJA’S GOTTA DO. BBC tells why “Japan ninja student gets top marks for writing essay in invisible ink”.

A Japanese student of ninja history who handed in a blank paper was given top marks – after her professor realised the essay was written in invisible ink.

Eimi Haga followed the ninja technique of “aburidashi”, spending hours soaking and crushing soybeans to make the ink.

The words appeared when her professor heated the paper over his gas stove.

“It is something I learned through a book when I was little,” Ms Haga told the BBC. “I just hoped that no-one would come up with the same idea.”

…”When the professor said in class that he would give a high mark for creativity, I decided that I would make my essay stand out from others,” she said.

[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, JJ, John King Tarpinian, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Martin Morse Wooster, Chip Hitchcock, Michael Toman, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]

Pixel Scroll 4/16/19 I Have No Clicks And I Must Swear Mightily Underneath My Breath

(1) ORIGIN STORY. Rudy Rucker posted drafts of two presentations he’s giving at the IOHK Summit in Miami Beach on April 18. The first is — “Cyberpunk Use Cases”.

…My best-known novel is Software, written in 1980. It was one of the earliest cyberpunk novels. The idea behind Software seems simple now.

  • It should be possible to extract the patterns stored in a person’s brain,
    and transfer these onto a computer or a robot.

You’ve seen this scenario hundred movies and TV shows, right? But I was the first one to write about it. In 1980, “soul as software” was an unheard of thought. Hardly anyone even knew the word “software.”

To make my Software especially punk, I made the brain-to-software transfer very gnarly. A gang of scary-funny hillbillies extracted people’s mental software by slicing off the tops of their skulls and eating their brains with cheap steel spoons. One of the hillbillies was a robot in disguise, and his stomach analyzed the brain tissue. Did I mention that I grew up in Kentucky?

(2) BAG ORDINANCE. The Anime News Network posted a wise suggestion “Anime Boston Attendees Remember to BYOB: Bring Your Own Bags”. (Via Petréa Mitchell.)

If you’re heading out to the Anime Boston convention this weekend with the intention of picking up merchandise and art prints from the Dealer’s Hall and Artist Alley, you could run into some trouble if you don’t have reusable bags handy.

Artist Alley and Dealer’s Hall merchants were caught off guard on Monday after convention staff alerted them that the only permissible types of bags must be reusable, recyclable, or compostable with handles. The restriction is due to an ordinance that went in effect in Boston on December 14, 2018. Plastic bags with handles are not allowed and retailers are required to charge customers an additional US$.05 per bag unless the customer brings their own.

(3) HISTORIC ACCOMPLISHMENTS. Eugene Grant reminds people of Judy-Lynn Del Rey’s impact on the field of sff. Thread starts here.

(4) EVERMORE PARK. The summer opening of the “Mythos” theme adventure at Evermore Park in Utah is tentatively scheduled for May 29, says David Doering, “though this could slip.”

MYTHOS

An enchanted festival of fantasy and magic, celebrating the wondrous grace of dragons. Coming Summer 2019.

(5) WOLFE’S BEGINNINGS. The Guardian’s Alison Flood added her tribute to the late author: “Gene Wolfe, ‘magnificent’ giant of science fiction, dies aged 87”.

…When he was named a grand master of science fiction and fantasy by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA) in 2012, Wolfe recalled living “paycheck to paycheck” with his wife Rosemary and children, and getting three “not terribly good” stories published in a college magazine.

“Then it was time for school to start again, and Rosemary began badgering me for money for school clothes,” he said. “Another story, Car Sinister, sold, and instead of depositing the check I got the manager of the hardware store to cash it for me. I took it to Rosemary: ‘Here’s every dime I got for that story. That’s how much you have for school clothes.’ A few days passed, and I was sitting on the kitchen floor trying to mend a chair. Rosemary came up behind me and said, ‘Shouldn’t you be writing?’ That’s when I knew I was a writer.”

(6) COLE OBIT. Noted sff writer Allan Cole died March 29 reports the SFWA Blog.

Allan Cole, international best-selling author, screenwriter and former prize-winning newsman, died March 29, 2019, of cancer in Boca Raton, FL. He was 75.

Cole was probably best known for the Sten science fiction series, which he co-authored with his late partner Chris Bunch, as well as the critically acclaimed Vietnam novel “A Reckoning for Kings” about the Tet Offensive of 1968.

(7) GARRIOTT OBIT. “My home town astronaut died,” wrote John A Arkansawyer. “My first job was at an all-night gas station on Owen K. Garriott Road (formerly Market). I never met him, but I benefited from his presence in our small city. My kid and my kid’s mom and I went back for a visit the summer after my dad died and spent a great day here: Leonardo’s – Interactive Children’s Museum in Enid, OK. He and his former wife founded it and it’s still going strong.

Dr. Owen K. Garriott, scientist/astronaut, died April 15: “Enid-born astronaut Owen K. Garriott dies at age 88”.

Garriott’s initial space flight on Skylab 3 was from July 28 to Sept. 25, 1973, according to OHS. On this mission, he and his two crewmates conducted major experiments in science and medicine for a total of 1,427 hours in space. In three separate space walks outside the Skylab, Garriott spent 13 hours and 43 minutes.

Helen Walker Garriott, co-founder of Leonardo’s Children’s Museum, died in 2017.

His son, Richard Garriott, was also an astronaut (he made a pot of money on video games and bought a ticket), and they were the only father-son pair to fly to space (so far).

(8) REED OBIT. Les Reed wrote several Top-40 hits. And at least one genre tune —

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born April 16, 1917 William “Billy” Benedict. Singled out for Birthday Honours as he was Whitey Murphy in Adventures of Captain Marvel. Yes, that Captain Marvel.  Back in 1942, it was a 12-chapter black-and-white movie serial from Republic Pictures based off the Fawcett Comics strip.  (Died 1999.)
  • Born April 16, 1921 Peter  Ustinov. He had a number of genre appearances such as being in Blackbeard’s Ghost as Captain Blackbeard, in the animated Robin Hood by voicing both  Prince John and King Richard, as simply The Old Man In Logan’s Run, Truck Driver In The Great Muppet Caper, and in Alice in Wonderland as The Walrus. (Died 2004.)
  • Born April 16, 1922 John Christopher. Author of The Tripods, an alien invasion series which was adapted into both a radio and television series. He wrote a lot of genre fiction including the Fireball series in which Rome never fell, and The Death of Grass which I mention because it was one of the many YA post-apocalyptic novels that he wrote in the Fifties and Sixties that sold extremely well in the U.K. (Died 2012.)
  • Born April 16, 1922 Kingsley  Amis. So have you read The Green Man? I’m still not convinced that anything actually happened, or that everything including the hauntings were in Maurice Allington’s decayed brain. I’m not seeing that he did much else for genre work but he did write Colonel Sun: a James Bond Adventure under the pseudonym of Robert Markham and his New Maps of Hell: A Survey of Science Fiction published in the late Fifties, he shares his views on the genre and makes some predictions as there’ll never be a SF series on the boob tube. (Died 1995.)
  • Born April 16, 1954 Ellen Barkin, 65. She played Penny Priddy in The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension, a film that should neither get remade nor get sequels, both of which have been proposed. And to my knowledge, her only genre credits are Into the West as Kathleen, and in The Cobbler as Elaine Greenawalt. 
  • Born April 16, 1962 Kathryn Cramer, 57. Writer, editor, and literary critic. She co-founded The New York Review of Science Fiction in 1988 with David G. Hartwell and others, and was its co-editor until 1991 and again since 1996. She edited with her husband David G. Hartwell Year’s Best Fantasy one through nine and Year’s Best SF seven through thirteen with as well. 
  • Born April 16, 1975 Sean Maher, 44. Doctor Simon Tam In the Firefly verse. And Dick Grayson (Nightwing) in a staggering number of animated DAC films, to wit Son of BatmanBatman vs. Robin, Batman: Bad Blood, Justice League vs. Teen TitansTeen Titans: The Judas Contract and Batman: Hush. He showed up on Arrow as Shrapnel in the “Blast Radius” and “Suicide Squad” episodes.

(10) COMICS SECTION.

(11) THE ROLLING STONES. Not just the stones, the builders also traveled — “Stonehenge: DNA reveals origin of builders”. Yes, technically everyone traveled over long-enough time — but they’ve found that Stonehenge was built by relatively recent arrivals.

The ancestors of the people who built Stonehenge travelled west across the Mediterranean before reaching Britain, a study has shown.

Researchers compared DNA extracted from Neolithic human remains found across Britain with that of people alive at the same time in Europe.

The Neolithic inhabitants appear to have travelled from Anatolia (modern Turkey) to Iberia before winding their way north.

They reached Britain in about 4,000BC.

Details have been published in the journal Nature Ecology & Evolution.

The migration to Britain was just one part of a general, massive expansion of people out of Anatolia in 6,000BC that introduced farming to Europe.

Before that, Europe was populated by small, travelling groups which hunted animals and gathered wild plants and shellfish.

Here a link to the original paper in Nature.

The roles of migration, admixture and acculturation in the European transition to farming have been debated for over 100?years. Genome-wide ancient DNA studies indicate predominantly Aegean ancestry for continental Neolithic farmers, but also variable admixture with local Mesolithic hunter-gatherers. Neolithic cultures first appear in Britain circa 4000?bc, a millennium after they appeared in adjacent areas of continental Europe….

(12) UNDER THE HAMMER. Here are a couple of the interesting lots in Heritage Auctions’ April 23 Illustration Art Signature Auction.

(13) SFF MOVIE COLLECTIBLES. And Bonhams is running the “TCM Presents … Wonders of the Galaxy: Science Fiction and Fantasy in Film” auction on May 14 in Los Angeles. The catalog is here.

They expect this poster from the 1923 Hunchback of Notre Dame movie to go for $150,000-$200,000.

(14) CATTY REMARKS. Timothy the Talking Cat resumes his autobiography in “Beyond the Bounds of Genius: Chapter 2”.

Chapter 2: Tim Cat’s Schooldays

Bortsworth Grammar School for the Boys With Fathers Off in the Colonies was an august institution but was also open in other months. For two hundred years it had taught the male offspring of the British Empire’s far flung civil servants. The school specialised in latin, bullying, it’s own idiosyncratic form of Rugby football and petty tyranny and often all four at the same time.

I boarded the school train at Bortsworth Station and immediately got off again as it had reached its destination….

(15) FLAVOR LOST IN SPACE. From Behind a paywall at The Week comes this item:

An Englishman launched a Big Mac hamburger into the stratosphere using a weather balloon–then ate the ‘spaceburger’ upon its return to the ground.  Thomas Stanniland said he accomplished the feat with the aid of four canisters of helium, a GoPro camera, a GPS tracker, a polystyrene box, and superglue.  After the balloon popped and the burger floated back,he recovered it.  ‘It’s been outside, so it’s been a bit crumbly,’ he said after taking a bite.  Overall, he described the taste as ‘not nice.'”

(16) THE PROBLEM OF PAIN. That’s a reference I thought of when someone told me the next episode of DC’s Legends of Tomorrow is titled “The Eggplant, The Witch & The Wardrobe Trailer.”

(17) HUSKY ROBOTS. Boston Dynamics puts a bunch of their “SpotMini” robot “dogs” together in harness to pull a BD truck… Gizmodo has the story: “These Robodogs Are Even Scarier When They Start Working In a Pack”.

That sound, that sound, as they come marching.

When it’s not frightening the world with videos of back-flipping cyborg supersoldiers, Boston Dynamics likes to have a bit of fun with their robotic creations. Presumably inspired by last month’s Iditarod, the company strapped ten of its SpotMini robots together but instead of pulling a sled, these robo-pups have enough strength to pull a massive diesel truck. Did I say fun? I meant terror-inducing.

That last linked phrase is to a YouTube video:

It only takes 10 Spotpower (SP) to haul a truck across the Boston Dynamics parking lot (~1 degree uphill, truck in neutral). These Spot robots are coming off the production line now and will be available for a range of applications soon. For more information visit us at www.BostonDynamics.com/Spot.

[Thanks to David Doering, Avilyn, Andrew Porter, Cat Eldridge, John A Arkansawyer, Bill, Steve Green, John King Tarpinian, Carl Slaughter, Daniel Dern, Chip Hitchcock, JJ, Scott Edelman, Martin Morse Wooster, and Mike Kennedy for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Rob Thornton.]