Pixel Scroll 3/11/19 A Scroll Is A Guy That Thinks He’s Fly, And Is Also Known As A Pixel

(1) OBERST FROM COAST TO COAST. As reported the other day, Bill Oberst Jr.’s Ray Bradbury Live (forever) will launch with a performance at the South Pasadena Public Library on March 2. The show’s website says the next performances will be in Indianapolis, IN from May 3-5, then in Charleston, SC on dates to be announced.

(2) ART OF THE SERIES. Seanan McGuire will teach an online class — “Pacing Yourself: The Strange and Sprawling Art of Writing a Long Series” – on Saturday, June 29, 2019, 9:30-11:30 AM Pacific time.

Writing a series can be a long, strange journey. How do you best prepare for it, and where do you stop to refuel? And how do you do know when to keep going and when to bring things to an end? Join Seanan McGuire, Hugo-winning author of multiple series, as she shares secrets of not get lost along the way when undertaking such a trip.

(3) MURDERBOT MUST ADVERTISE. Tor.com has announced “Murderbot Will Return in…Network Effect. A Full Novel by Martha Wells”. But we’ll have to wait til May 2020 to read it. (Pass the time by watching your stored media.)

(4) SHRINK RAP. Larry Correia talks about “getting paid” all the time, and Harlan Ellison extolled the importance of a writer’s work being acknowledged by a “check of money.” How to explain everyone else who keeps pulling the handle on their typewriter? Camestros Felapton searches for parallels between writing and an addiction in “Writing and Gambling”.

One of the notable features of gambling (and a factor that can lead to it becoming a problem for some people) is that people still gain pleasure from it even when they are losing. The phenomenon called “loss chasing”…

(5) R.E.S.P.E.C.T.  YA reviewer Vicky Who Reads surveyed book bloggers and got over 280 respondents to share “their views on how authors + other people should interact to remain respectful.” — “Blogger + Author Interaction Etiquette Survey Responses: Answers from the Book Bloggers’ Perspectives (2019)”. The YA author/blogger dynamic is obviously different than the pro/fan interaction in social media, however, I found it very interesting reading. Here’s the range of reactions to the question –

Do you mind if authors read and/or comment on your review of their book?

  1. “I don’t want them to comment on negative reviews, but I’m fine if they comment on positive reviews!” +12 with the same sentiment +11 same sentiment, also specifying that they would not tag an author in a negative review
  2. “What I don’t like is when an author comments on my reviews to defend themselves or to try and guilt me into changing my opinions.” +6
  3. “I don’t mind if they read, and a quick thanks for reading my book comment is fine— but nothing else.” +3
  4. (paraphrased) Authors are not obligated to read reviews, but I’d like them to know that someone’s enjoyed it, and it would make me happy if they read my (positive tagged) review! +1
  5. “I don’t mind though I’d rather have them contact me in private if they want to discuss it.”
  6. “…would depend on the relationship you have with that specific author.”
  7. “…from anyone with more power than me, NO.”
  8. “…I wouldn’t mind them BOOSTING blog posts involving their books.”
  9. “I don’t mind them commenting on my review in a tweet…but no comments on my actual blog.”

(6) HANDICAPPING THE SHORTLIST. Ceridwen Christensen’s series at Barnes & Noble Sci-Fi & Fantasy Blog continues with “Blogging the Nebulas: The Poppy War Is a Devastating Fantasy Debut”. Each post makes the case for why the nominee will or won’t win. Here, under Won’t, it says —

Though there seems to be a tendency to nominate debut novels for the Nebula in recent year—more than half of the nominees for the last three years have been first novels—there is a clear precedent for established novelists to actually take home the Nebula. The preference for books from established writers makes sense: not only have they had time to hone their craft, but, as and industry award, connections within the industry factor.

(7) A MARVEL(OUS) CAT. USA Today posts a spoiler warning before telling readers “5 things you need to know about furry ‘Captain Marvel’ breakout Goose the Cat”. Brie Larson’s superhero heads up the blockbuster new ‘Captain Marvel’ but scene-stealing Goose the Cat is one of the movie’s biggest breakouts.   

1. Like the movie’s human heroine, Goose comes straight from the comic books.

She’s named Chewie in the pages of the “Captain Marvel” series (named for the “Star Wars” Wookiee co-pilot), while the movie uses Anthony Edwards’ “Top Gun” sidekick as inspiration. But a lot of the hidden abilities Goose unleashes later in the film mirror the comic character’s cosmic connections as an alien Flerken.

Before they had a script, directors Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck had a room with a whiteboard where they wrote a wish list of everything from the comics that they wanted to see in the movie, including the cat. After figuring out Goose’s role, Boden remembers giving an initial script outline to executive producer Kevin Feige “and him being like, ‘Yep, we’re going to need about 200 percent more (Goose) in the story.’ And he was right. It was so fun to find all the ways that she could participate in the film.”

(8) TIME BANDITS. ScienceFiction.com has learned “Taika Waititi Will Co-Write And Direct The Pilot For Apple’s ‘Time Bandits’”.

‘Thor: Ragnarok’s Taika Waititi has signed on to co-write and direct the pilot for a series based on the 1981 Terry Gilliam film ‘Time Bandits’ for Apple‘s upcoming streaming service.  Waititi will also serve as executive producer along with Gilliam and Dan Halstead (‘People of Earth’).  This will be just one of many shows that Apple plans to offer for free to owners of its various devices, including Apple TV, iPhones, iPads and Macs.  ‘Time Bandits’ will be co-produced by Anonymous Content, Paramount Television and Media Rights Capital.

Time Bandits is a dark, irreverent adventure about imagination, bravery and the nature of our dreams. It follows the time-traveling adventures of an 11-year-old history buff named Kevin who, one night, stumbles on six dwarfs who emerge from his closet. They are former workers of the Supreme Being who have stolen a map that charts all the holes in the space-time fabric, using it to hop from one historical era to the next in order to steal riches. Throughout the movie, they meet various historical and fictional characters, including Napoleon Bonaparte and Robin Hood, while the Supreme Being simultaneously tries to catch up to them and retrieve the map.

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born March 11, 1921 F. M. Busby. Together with his wife and others he published a fan magazine named Cry of the Nameless which won the Hugo award in 1960. Heinlein was a great fan of him and his wife — The Cat Who Walks Through Walls in part dedicated to Busby and Friday in part to his wife Elinor. He was a very busy writer from the early Seventies to the late Nineties writing some nineteen published novels and myriad short stories before he blamed the Thor Power Tools decision for forcing his retirement. (Died 2005.)
  • Born March 11, 1952 Douglas Adams. I’ve read and listened to the full cast production the BBC did of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy but have absolutely no desire to see the film. Wait, wasn’t there a TV series as well? Yes, there was. Shudder! The Dirk Gently series is, errr, odd and its charms escape my understanding. He and Mark Carwardine also wrote the most excellent Last Chance to See, their travels to various locations in the hope of encountering species on the brink of extinction. It’s more silly than it sounds. (Died 2001.)
  • Born March 11, 1962 Elias Koteas, 57. Genre appearances include the very first (and I think best of the many that came out) Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, One Magic Christmas, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III (I did warn you, didn’t I?), Cyborg 2 (just don’t), Gattaca, Skinwalkers, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, and The Haunting in Connecticut.
  • Born March 11, 1963 Alex Kingston, 56. River Song in Doctor Who. She’s in a number of different stories with a number of different Doctors and was the eventual wife of the Eleventh Doctor. (I don’t believe in spoilers.) I don’t see a lot of other genre work from her but she was in Ghost Phone: Phone Calls from the Dead, as Sheila and she was Lady Macbeth in the National Theatre Live of Macbeth. Oh, and she’s in the Arrowverse as Dinah Lance, in FlashForward as Fiona Banks and recently shows up as Sara Bishop on A Discovery of Witches, a series based off the Deborah Harkness novel of the same name. Great series, All Souls Trilogy, by the way. 
  • Born March 11, 1967 John Barrowman, 52. Best genre without doubt is as Captain Jack Harkness in Doctor Who and Torchwood.  He reprised the role for Big Finish audiobooks and there’s one that I highly recommend which is the full cast Golden Age production with all the original cast. You’ll find a link to my review here. I see he’s been busy in the Arrowverse playing three different characters (I think as I confess I’m not watching it currently)  in the form of Malcolm Merlyn / Dark Archer / Ra’s al Ghul. He’s also had a long history in theatre, so he’s been in Beauty and the Beast as The Beast / The Prince, Jack and The Bean Stalk as Jack, Aladdinas, well, Aladdinand Cinderella as, errrr, Buttons.
  • Born March 11, 1982 Thora Birch, 37. A very, very extensive genre history so I’ll just list her appearances: Purple People EaterItsy Bitsy Spider, Hocus PocusDungeons & Dragons, The HoleDark Corners, TrainDeadlineDark Avenger series, The Outer LimitsNight Visions series, My Life as a Teenage Robot and a recurring role on the Colony series.
  • Born March 11, 1989 Anton Yelchin. Best known for playing played Pavel Chekov in Star Trek, Star Trek Into Darkness and Star Trek Beyond. He also was in Terminator Salvation as Kyle Reese, in the Zombie comedy Burying the Ex as Max and voiced Clumsy Smurf in a series of Smurf films. Really, he did. (Died 2016.)

(10) COMICS SECTION.

  • “All writers explained” in this Pearls Before Swine strip.
  • Dick Tracy does a shout-out to Gasoline Alley. Joe Staton is one of the creators in the credits – he did fanzine art back in the Seventies before moving up to the big leagues.

Daniel Dern sent the Dick Tracy link with a comment:

Gasoline Alley remains one of my favorite strips. One interest aspect is that characters age “in real time” — they get older, and the strip’s “current time” is the present (as of when it’s written).

Here’s one of my favorite sequences, guest-starring John Hartford [PDF file] (who, IMHO, would have made a great Tom Bombadil). And here’s a clearer view of a few of those.

(11) SO, DOES LOTUS TASTE GOOD? [Item by Mike Kennedy.] Some science fiction has imagined a future where automation of one sort or another replaces most or all jobs. Thinking about that sort of future is slowly becoming mainstream but even if this leads to some version of utopia, there will be a difficult transition period. An installment of an AI series on The Verge (The Real-World AI Issue) looks at “How to protect humans in a fully automated society” and asks the question “What happens when every job is replaced by a machine?” It doesn’t get to an answer, but that doesn’t make the question any less important.

People have been worried about machines taking jobs for a very long time. As early as 1930, John Maynard Keynes was warning about the new scourge of technological unemployment, which he termed as “unemployment due to our discovery of means of economizing the use of labor outrunning the pace at which we can find new uses for labor.” In short, automating ourselves out of a paycheck.

(12) CROCK OF AGES. Armies march on their stomachs, archeologists crawl on theirs: “Archaeologists Find Trove Of Maya Artifacts Dating Back 1,000 Years”.

Mexican archaeologists announced last week that they discovered a trove of more than 200 Maya artifacts beneath the ancient city of Chichén Itzá in Mexico.

The discovery of the Yucatán Peninsula cave – and the artifacts, which appear to date back to 1,000 A.D. – was not the team’s original goal, National Geographic Explorer Guillermo de Anda, who helped lead the team, told NPR’s Lulu Garcia-Navarro for Weekend Edition.

A local resident told the archeologists about the secret cave, known as Balamku or “Jaguar God.” It had been known to locals for decades and about 50 years ago some of them told archeologist Víctor Segovia Pinto about the cave, but he ordered it sealed for unknown reasons, causing it to be forgotten. This time, the explorers decided to search the cave chambers, which involved crawling on their stomachs for hours to reach the coveted artifacts.

(13) NOT MUCH OF A GAME YET. Brian at Nerds of a Feather, in “Microreview : Anthem by Bioware (developer)”, feels he has to speak bluntly:

Anthem is a mess. There’s no nicer way of putting it. I can’t recommend it in any form today. The good(?) news is that it’s essentially unfinished but it’s a part of EA’s games-as-a-service strategy. Like so many other games-as-a-service shlooters (that’s loot-shooters, games like Destiny and The Division), it’s being patched frequently with new features, quality of life improvements, and bug fixes. The outstanding questions are can they fix this game post-release and do they have the will to keep working on this game?

(14) JUST A LITTLE PINCH. Sew what? “Scientists Thread A Nano-Needle To Modify The Genes Of Plants”.

Is there an efficient way to tinker with the genes of plants? Being able to do that would make breeding new varieties of crop plants faster and easier, but figuring out exactly how to do it has stumped plant scientists for decades.

Now researchers may have cracked it.

Modifying the genetics of a plant requires getting DNA into its cells. That’s fairly easy to do with animal cells, but with plants it’s a different matter.

“Plants have not just a cell membrane, but also a cell wall,” says Markita Landry, assistant professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering at the University of California, Berkeley.

Scientists have tried different ways to get DNA and other important biological molecules through the cell wall – by shooting microscopic gold bullets coated with DNA into the cell using a gene gun or by hiding DNA inside bacteria that can infect plant cells.

Both methods have limitations. Gene guns aren’t very efficient, and some plants are hard, if not impossible, to infect with bacteria.

UC Berkeley researchers have found a way to do it using something called carbon nanotubes, long stiff tubes of carbon that are really small. Landry came up with the idea, and the curious thing is she’s neither a n­anotechnology engineer nor a plant biologist.

(15) LOOKING BACKWARD. Remember in Armageddon where Bruce Willis’ character says to the NASA manager, “You’re the guys that’re thinking shit up! I’m sure you got a team of men sitting around somewhere right now just thinking shit up and somebody backing them up!” Same answer here – they’re looking for help from the public: “It’s 2050 And This Is How We Stopped Climate Change”.

When NPR interviewed Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortes in February about her Green New Deal, she said that her goal was bigger than just passing some new laws. “What I hope we’re able to do is rediscover the power of public imagination,” she said.

Well, we’re unleashing our imagination and exploring a dream, a possible future in which we’re bringing global warming to a halt. It’s a world in which greenhouse emissions have ended.

(Editor’s note: Each story has two sections, the first reflecting the present and the second imagining the world of 2050.)

(16) PASS FAIL. Tadiana Jones reviews Sylvain Neuvel’s novel “The Test: The cost of citizenship in a near-future world” at Fantasy Literature.

Published in February 2019. Britain, the not-too-distant future. Idir is sitting the British Citizenship Test. He wants his family to belong. Twenty-five questions to determine their fate. Twenty-five chances to impress. When the test takes an unexpected and tragic turn, Idir is handed the power of life and death. How do you value a life when all you have is multiple choice?

(17) ANOTHER JOYCE. Speculiction’s Jesse Hudson does a “Review of The Silent Land by Graham Joyce”. The situation doesn’t sound too bad in the beginning —  

Extensive cellars of the world’s best wines. Pristine slopes with no other skiers, the lifts at your disposal. A hotel kitchen with an endless supply of food that never spoils. The penthouse room available day in and day out for sleeping and leisure. Paradise calls, such is the tragedy of Graham Joyce’s touching 2010 The Silent Land.

(18) EYE WONDER. On CNN, “Rep. Dan Crenshaw shows off his Captain America-inspired glass eye”:

“Captain America” found out he had a big fan in Congress after his mission to the US Capitol this week.

Chris Evans, known for playing the superhero in the Marvel movies, met up with Rep. Dan Crenshaw on a visit to Washington, and the two seemed to hit it off.

Crenshaw, who represents Texas’ 2nd Congressional District, lifted his eye patch to show off a Captain America-inspired glass eye to Evans. In a picture posted to Twitter on Friday, the eye resembles Captain America’s shield, with a five-point, white star in the middle surrounded by circles.

(19) AI AND AIRCRAFT. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] Two very different aviation stories today referenced AI. At BGR they say, “Oh great, Russian fighter pilots are going to start flying with scary AI wingmen,” while at Popular Mechanics the wonder, “Can Big Data Save Old Warplanes?

The BGR story talks about the possibility of Russian fighters using drones (that fly with an AI assist) as a force multiplier.

Well, it seems Russian military officials don’t want to just stop with that fearsome new hypersonic intercontinental ballistic missile that was tested last month, which we told you about and which Russia claims there’s no defense against. It would appear the country’s military forces have also been testing the feasibility of having AI-powered wingmen fly alongside Russian fighter pilots, executing commands issued by the human pilot an inaugurating a scary new chapter in aerial military combat.

News accounts of Russia’s efforts here are the result of images spotted on social media of a drone called Hunter, an unmanned combat vehicle, along with images of a jet called the Sukhoi Su-57. Of particular interest is that fighter jet’s tail. As you can see below, on the tail you can see the shape of a jet as well as an image that seems to be the “Hunter” drone, along with the image of a lightning bolt.

Meanwhile, PopSci takes a look at using big data and machine learning to keep aging aircraft in the air instead of grounded.

Late in 2018, the Air Force (with help from Delta) retrofitted its aging C-5 and B-1 fleets to perform predictive maintenance. “It’s already doing amazing work, telling us things that we need to look at before they become critical,” Will Roper [(USAF assistant secretary for acquisition, technology, and logistics)] says. “The data is there but it’s not in a discoverable format that you can layer in machine learning on top of it. A lot of what we had to do was reverse engineering, so that that data can be exposed in an algorithm friendly way.”

He says there are more than 100 algorithms running on the C-5 systems, and more than 40 examining the B-1. Each algorithm parses the information generated by specific systems, like the landing gear, wheels, temperature sensors, and anything that is deemed mission-critical.

So far, the A.I. found three maintenance actions on the C-5 “that we wouldn’t have found through traditional processes, that affect 36 different aircraft,” Roper says. Maintainers also removed 17 parts that were showing subtle signs of wear well before those parts had issues.

(20) WHAT’S THAT SMELL? It’s D&D night at Ursula Vernon’s place. The thread starts here.

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

Boskone 56: Fun, Plus Adding Foothills To My Mount To-Be-Read

Boskone 56 Pocket Program

By Daniel Dern: Boskone 56, held Friday, February 15 through Sunday, February 17, 2019 at Boston’s Westin Waterfront Hotel, was a fun con — good guests, fun interesting sessions, good readings… and good (for Boston winter) weather — bearably cold, and no snow or rain coming down or on the streets or walkways.

(Some of us still have memories of 2015’s Boskone when the MBTA (locally aka “the T”) pre-emptively announced, mid-Saturday, that due to the impending blizzard, they were shutting down the T starting 7PM Saturday, through Sunday.)

GoH’s for Boskone 56 were:

  • Guest of Honor: Elizabeth Hand
  • Special Guest: Christopher Golden
  • Official Artist: Jim Burns
  • Young Adult Fiction Guest: Cindy Pon
  • Hal Clement Science Speaker: Vandana Singh

(Burns, unfortunately, was unable to make it, due to a last-minute emergency; however, his art was still on display.)

Burns art, from Boskone 56 main web page

Boskone always gets a good bunch of writers, artists, editors and other sf pros. This year’s 150+ program participants included (drawing mostly on people I know/names I recognize) Ellen Asher, James Cambias, John Chu,  Brenda W. Clough, John Clute, Br. Guy Consolmagno, C. S. E. Cooney, Bruce Coville, Vincent Docherty, Sarah Beth Durst, Kate Elliot, Greer Gillman, KJ Kabza,  James Patrick Kelly, Justin Key, Dan Kimmel, Mur Lafferty, Patrick & Teresa  Nielsen Hayden, Errick Nunnally, Suzanne Palmer, Julia Rios, Erin Roberts, Michael Swanwick,  Catherynne M. Valente, Jane Yolen, and Brianna Wu.

(Side note: I just came back from the library with the 2018 “Year’s Best Science Fiction and Fantasy” edited by Rich Horton – and there’s a good handful of authors whose names might not have recognized a week ago, but, thanks to Boskone, I recognize many more names and know I saw several panelize/read.)

Headcount of as 11AM Sunday, according to the con’s Helmuth newsletter, came in at 1,382 total members, 1,061 “warm body count,” and 270 “at-the-door” registrations — pretty consistent with the past few years’ numbers.

There was, as always, no shortage of things to do.

Program items spanned classic through current sf/fantasy people, titles and topics, from the serious through silly, plus a range of media-oriented discussions including comics, Star Wars, and Star Trek, along with a number of sessions aimed at new authors and artists. Plus readings, kaffeeklatsches, and a room for movies/anime and other videos, also filking, board-gaming, the Art Show, the Dealers Room, noshing in the Con Suite area (which was, sadly, due to new hotel regulations, limited only to individual-portion-packaged, no-refrigeration-needed snacks’n’such). And a few evening parties, plus NESFA’s Saturday evening chocoholics-delight schmorgasbord.

And the non-program items like “meet new people, schmooze with friends” and “be a volunteer.”

Boskone’s Friday afternoon sessions were free — a nice way to help let potential first-timers get a sense of the con (particularly, I suspect, for people who have never attended a con). (ReaderCon has been doing this, too, for the past several years, with its Thursday evening programming.) Free-to-public panel topics included “The new Dr. Who,” gaming tournament demos/rules/Q&A, “Welcome to Boskone,” “Laundering Your Fairy Tales,” along with media/TV-themed sessions, and useful panels for new writers.

The art show had good stuff to look at (I’ve used up my quota of wall space, so I’m just looking, these days), although it seemed slightly smaller than last year.

Art-show-wise, of particular interest: this year’s ~40-piece Special Exhibit: From the Collection of Joe Siclari and Edie Stern which included art by Hannes Bok, Chesley Bonestell, Margaret Brundage, Vincent Di Fate, Leo and Diane Dillon, and Ed Emsh.

Art collage from Boskone 56 website.

The Dealers Room was mostly booksellers, including publishers and groups like Broad Universe, along with a handful of single-author tables. (My bookshelf space is, like my wall space, mostly full, although I did buy a few books… plus snarfing up about a foot of read-and-pass-on magazines and books from the Free Books table.)

Still, between books and magazines, I had no trouble spending thirty or forty bucks on additions to my Mount To-Be-Read (referring, of course, to that pile of books, often near the bed). Of course, by the end of the con, I had a vision of foothills forming around my Mount TBR of yet more books and authors to pursue, hopefully as library borrows.

(The late Morris Keesan once remarked (possibly at one of the monthly RISFA-North sf fan gatherings), when somebody mentioned to him their stack of TBR’s, he responded, more or less, “Stack? I’ve got a bookshelf.”)

Everyone I chatted with was having fun — schmoozing with friends, going to sessions, getting autographs, more schmoozing, etc.

Me, I had fun.

  • One of the things I did this year was go to more readings, including well-known’s like Jane Yolen, John Chu, Fran Wilder and Bruce Coville, as well as some newer and lesser-known authors and groups of authors. All were good, and helped add to my “authors and books to look for” list.
  • Also, kaffeeklatsches, in particular, Jane Yolen and (her son) Adam Stemple), and Patrick Nielsen Hayden and Teresa Nielsen Hayden. (I still wish Boskone could find a less noisy space for the ‘klatches rather than the public area in between the Art Show and the “Con Suite” space.)
  • I got a Press ribbon, to point at as I was taking pictures.
  • I wasn’t originally on the program (not a complaint, I’ve had my “turn at bat” at Boskone plenty of times, in main and DragonsLair programming), but while I was buying my membership, I inquired at Program Ops, and was given an empty-as-of-then slot in the Readings track. (I had come prepared with a handful of my short-short stories.)
  • Equally nice, when I went to see if there were any open slots for the Flash Fiction Slam competition — with points deducted if you run over three minutes — I discovered I was already signed up! So I read my newest shortie, “Vampire, T.Rex Bite Robot, Chomp! Gnash! Ouch!”

One of my favorite Boskone Program Items is Mark & Priscilla Olson’s “Trivia For Chocolate” contest — SF trivia, of course, from way back when through current stuff, where speed matters as much as correctness, with the green-rectangle chocolate Thin Mints used as point counters totaled up at the end (emptied wrappers don’t count).

This year, I tied with Bob Devney for 4th place, with 23 points. Karen von Haam thirded with 30 points, Kimball Rudeen came in second with 35, and Rich Horton ate all our lunches with 60 points.

A quick browse through past Helmuths (“Helmith”?) confirms my sense that Devney and I often place in the top five, e.g.:

  • Boskone 55: Bob Devney 52, Daniel Dern 44, Tim Liebe 27. Peter Turi 23.
  • Boskone 54: Kim Rudeen 65, Tom Galloway 45, Jordin Kare 45, Bob Devney 32, Daniel Dern 29.
  • (Boskone 53: I wasn’t there.)
  • Boskone 52: Kimball Rudeen 51, Karen Von Hamm 44, Bob Devney 16, Naomi Hinchen 15, Daniel Dern 12.
  • Boskone 50: Bob Devney 54, Athena Martin 30, Zev Sero & Peter Trei: 16
  • Boskone 49: Jordin Kare 69, Bob Devney 48, Christopher Davis 40, Daniel Dern 35, Team of Burton, Klein-Burton, Wall & Moore 30.

Plus, schmoozing.

Like I said, a fun weekend.

Daniel’s photos of Boskone 56 follow the jump.

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Pixel Scroll 2/19/19 Imagine There’s No Pixels – It’s Easy If You Scroll

(1) SHAT MEETS SHELDON. DigitalSpy has its CBS eye open: “The Big Bang Theory shares first look at Star Trek legend William Shatner’s cameo”.

The Star Trek legend will turn up briefly in the 12th and final season of the hit comedy series, and features exclusively in a brand-new trailer.

(2) LE GUIN FILM. Hob gives the 2018 documentary “Worlds of Ursula K. Le Guin” a positive review.

If you’re afraid, as I was, that this would be a generic “this person is important, here are some writers to tell you why” documentary with a lot of book covers turned into motion graphics… it mostly isn’t. It’s really very good, and I can’t complain that it’s short and a bit thin in some respects if the alternative was not to make it.

It helps that Le Guin herself talks quite a bit, both recently (the filmmaker worked with her on this for years, so the tone is friendly and familiar) and in earlier decades, and I’d happily listen to her talk about anything at all for hours…

(3) BETTER WORLDS. The Verge’s “Better Worlds” project draws to a close with these three stories —

A woman named Margery pulls a lever and jumps to new worlds, each one different from the last.

How do you envision Margery going from world to world? Virtual reality? Jumping between dimensions? Magic?

The lever, what it does, and Margery’s relationship to it are pure Twilight Zone. The lever itself is Archimedean and every resonant, similar idea I could layer into it. The world is a big thing to move, and the lever had to stand for a lot of things. So it’s rooted in very fundamental and ancient science, but its magic is in wordplay and related concepts and dream-images. It’s hard to say where I draw the line between fantasy and science fiction because I don’t — mostly.

A family works their way through a top-secret facility on an important mission

Your story follows a father-and-son team as they infiltrate a secret base. What inspired this particular world?

I tend to world-build around characters, and this world was designed for Ray. I wanted to show him as idealistic but practical, protective of his family while also trusting their skills and talents. But the main point of the scenario was to give him a clear objective and then alter it: he enters the base to rescue his son, but then has to face Ando’s insistence on staying behind. Ray needs to decide whether to recognize Ando’s right to make that choice, which is really about how much he trusts how he’s been raising his child. Parenting is full of moments like that, although most of them aren’t quite so starkly life-and-death.

Alexandra and Phoebe must deal with their creation Ami, an artificial intelligence that was designed to moderate online communities, as it fights fire with fire.

Social media sites like Twitter, Twitch, and Facebook have their own issues with content moderation, relying on human judgment in most cases. How do you see an AI building on those human-developed systems?

I think, actually, those sites depend too heavily on automated processes. Ami is truly intelligent and, above all, empathetic. Her distinguishing feature as an AI is her capacity to feel the pain of others and feel a responsibility to do something about it, while also possessing the suprahuman powers of a computer.

(4) BOOSTING THE JODOROWSKY SIGNAL. A fan is working to drum up demand for a book/ebook of Jodorowsky’s Dune storyboards:

In the film, Jodorowsky’s Dune you see the storyboards the director made for his never-to-be film project that introduced Moebius to HR Giger to Dan O’Bannon. I would pay a lot of money for each volume if that book were ever published, even if only in electronic form. Could you spread that idea around?

Daniel Dern adds, a quick web search turns up some admittedly-not-encouraging answers in Quora:

According to the documentary Jodorowsky’s Dune, only 20 copies of the books were originally made, with only a few of those known to still exist in the world. The producer of the unmade film, Michel Seydoux, mentions to Jodorowsky in a deleted scene on the Blu-Ray that he recently found his personal copy that was in perfect condition, and that he was having it photocopied.

According to the documentary Jodorowsky’s Dune, there are only two known copies of the bound and published storyboard remaining: one belonging to Alejandro Jodorowsky himself, and the other in the presumed care of Jean Giraud’s family. These persons are presumably also the ones who own the copy rights on the material, but I couldn’t say for sure, given the labyrinthine nature of cinematic intellectual properties.

While I’d be the first in the queue to purchase a copy, I am not sure this storyboard will ever be made available for purchase to the general public.

(5) MOORCOCK.The San Antonio Current connected with Michael Moorcock ahead of his appearance at the downtown library’s PopCon last weekend: “New Worlds Man: Groundbreaking Science Fiction Author and Editor Michael Moorcock Makes a Rare Appearance at Pop Con”.

“What we did at New Worlds was publish stuff nobody else would publish,” Moorcock said. “What I discovered was that if something was put into print, that was a validation of its worth. The book publishers would look at what we’d published and say, ‘Well, it’s been in print once, then we can do it again.’”

As Moorcock discussed those days, it almost seemed like a surreal narrative slipping through time and space. He wove a tale about the time the buttoned-down Aldiss falsely accused one of Moorcock’s hippy musician friends of nicking his wallet. Then another about the time he was invited onto the set of 2001: A Space Odyssey only to be shushed by Stanley Kubrick. Then he mused how he and author Kingsley Amis worked up such a mutual hatred that they refused to travel in the same train compartment together.

(6) WALDO CAN RUN, BUT HE CAN’T HIDE. So, not only are ‘bots coming for all the jobs, they’re taking over our pastimes, too (Inverse: “Waldo-Hunting A.I. Robot Solves One of Life’s Greatest Mysteries”).

Never wonder where Waldo is again. A machine designed to find a children’s book character is causing a stir on social media. “There’s Waldo” is a robot that uses computer vision to locate the beanie-clad chap in the “Where’s Waldo” series of books, automating one of the great stresses of five-year-olds worldwide.

[…] The results are impressive. Its highest record for finding and identifying a match is 4.45 seconds, much faster than it normally takes a kid to complete the task. Ditching the robot [that physically points to Waldo] from the equation could make the process even faster: a system outlined by Machine Learning Mastery in 2014 described how developers could use OpenCV, Python and Template Matching to identify Waldos in less than a second. 

(7) BROECKER OBIT. “‘Grandfather Of Climate Science’ Wallace Broecker Dies At 87”NPR has the story.

Wallace Broecker, a climate scientist who brought the term “global warming” into the public and scientific lexicon, died on Monday. He was 87.

Broecker, a professor in the department of earth and environmental science at Columbia, was among the early scientists who raised alarms about the drastic changes in the planet’s climate that humans could bring about over a relatively short period of time.

His 1975 paper “Climatic Change: Are We on the Brink of a Pronounced Global Warming?” predicted the current rise in global temperatures as a result of increased carbon dioxide levels — and popularized the term “global warming” to describe the phenomenon.

… As early as the ’70s, Broecker spoke openly about the need to restrict fossil fuels and the disruptive effects that just a few degrees of warming could have on the environment.

“The climate system is an angry beast and we are poking it with sticks,” he told the Times.

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born February 19, 1937 Terry Carr. Well known and loved fan, author, editor, and writing instructor. I usually don’t list Awards both won and nominated for but his are damned impressed so I will. He was nominated five times for Hugos for Best Fanzine (1959–1961, 1967–1968), winning in 1959, was nominated three times for Best Fan Writer (1971–1973), winning in 1973, and he was Fan Guest of Honor at ConFederation in 1986. Wow. He worked at Ave Books before going freelance where he edited an original story anthology series called Universe, and The Best Science Fiction of the Year anthologies that ran from 1972 until his early death in 1987. Back to Awards again. He was nominated for the Hugo for Best Editor thirteen times (1973–1975, 1977–1979, 1981–1987), winning twice (1985 and 1987). His win in 1985 was the first time a freelance editor had won. Wow indeed. Novelist as well. Just three novels but all are still in print today though I don’t think his collections are and none of his anthologies seem to be currently either. A final note. An original anthology of science fiction, Terry’s Universe, was published the year after his death with all proceeds went to his widow. (Died 1987.)
  • Born February 19, 1957 Ray Winstone, 62. First genre work was in Robin of Sherwood as Will Scarlet. He next shows up in our realm voicing Mr. Beaver in The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. Unfortunately for him, he’s in Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull as George “Mac” McHale, though he he does does also voice Areas in Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief
  • Born February 19, 1964 Jonathan Lethem, 55. His first novel, Gun, with Occasional Music, a weird mix of SF and detective fiction, is fantastic in more ways that I can detail briefly here. I confess that I lost track of him after that novel so I’d be interested in hearing what y’all think of his later genre work. 
  • Born February 19, 1963 Laurell K. Hamilton, age 56. She is best known as the author of two series of stories. One is the  Anita Blake: Vampire Hunter of which I’ll confess I’ve read but one or two novels, the other is the Merry Gentry series which held my interest longer but which I lost in somewhere around the sixth or seventh novel when the sex became really repetitive. 
  • Born February 19, 1966 Claude Lalumière, 53. I met him once here in Portland. Author, book reviewer and has edited numerous anthologies. Amazing writer of short dark fantasy stories collected in three volumes so far, Objects of WorshipThe Door to Lost Pages and Nocturnes and Other Nocturnes. Tachyon published his latest anthology, Super Stories of Heroes & Villains
  • Born February 19, 1967 Benicio del Toro, 52. He’s been The Collector in the Marvel film franchise, Lawrence Talbot in the 2010 remake of The Wolfman, and codebreaker DJ in Star Wars: The Last Jedi.  Let’s not forget that he was in Big Top Pee-wee as Duke, the Dog-Faced Boy followed by being in Terry Gilliam’s Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas as Dr. Gonzo which damn well should count as genre even if it isn’t.
  • Born February 19, 1984 Joshua Trank, 35. Film director, screenwriter, and editor. He is known for directing Chronicle and the recent Fantastic Four. The former won A Saturn Award for Best Science Fiction Film. Anyone here seen it? 

(9) POETRY MARKETS. The Horror Writers Association put up a specialized market report: “Poetry and Related Sources and Links — A 2019 Update”.

…I thought it would be useful to refresh the obvious — “where do I send my poetry.” The HWA has its own list of markets as does the Science Fiction Poetry Association.

(10) ISRAEL’S MOON MISSION. Israel aspires to join superpowers China, Russia and the U.S. in landing a spacecraft on the moon.

Nonprofit SpaceIL and Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) today announced that Israel’s inaugural voyage to the moon – the world’s first privately funded lunar mission – will begin on Feb. 21 at approximately 8:45 p.m. EST, when the lunar lander “Beresheet” (“In the Beginning”) blasts off aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 from Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.

…About 30 minutes after liftoff, the spacecraft will disengage from the SpaceX Falcon 9 at around 60,000 kilometers above Earth’s surface, beginning, under its own power, a two-month voyage to the Moon’s surface.

…SpaceX will broadcast the historic launch live on its YouTube channel (https://www.youtube.com/user/spacexchannel), and SpaceIL will simultaneously air on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/SpaceIL/) live video from inside the control room in Yehud.

…Since the establishment of SpaceIL, the task of landing an Israeli spacecraft on the moon has become a national project with educational impact, funded mainly by Morris Kahn, a philanthropist and businessman who took the lead in completing the mission, serving as SpaceIL’s president and financing $40 million. Additional donors include Dr. Miriam and Sheldon Adelson — whose $24 million contribution enabled the project to continue — Lynn Schusterman, Steven and Nancy Grand, Sylvan Adams, Sami Sagol and others.

(11) DON’T TREAD ON THEM. A new nonprofit group—For All Moonkind—has been established to promote preservation of the Apollo 11 landing sites and other such locations on the Moon (Inverse: “‘For All Mankind’: Meet the Group Trying to Stop Moon Vandalism”).

Why did the hominin cross the plain? We may never know. But anthropologists are pretty sure that a smattering of bare footprints preserved in volcanic ash in Laetoli, Tanzania, bear witness to an evolutionary milestone. These small steps, taken roughly 3.5 million years ago, mark an early successful attempt by our common human ancestor to stand upright and stride on two feet, instead of four.

[…] The evidence left by our bipedal ancestors are recognized by the international community and protected as human heritage. But the evidence of humanity’s first off-world exploits on the moon are not. These events, separated by 3.5 million years, demonstrate the same uniquely human desire to achieve, explore, and triumph. They are a manifestation of our common human history. And they should be treated with equal respect and deference.

(12) DILLINGER RELIC. NPR puts it this way:“Facebook Has Behaved Like ‘Digital Gangsters,’ U.K. Parliament Report Says”. (For more detail, check the BBC article “Facebook needs regulation as Zuckerberg ‘fails’ – UK MPs”.)

A new report from British lawmakers on how social media is used to spread disinformation finds that Facebook and other big tech companies are failing their users and dodging accountability.

“The guiding principle of the ‘move fast and break things’ culture often seems to be that it is better to apologise than ask permission,” said Damian Collins, chair of the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee that drafted the report. “We need a radical shift in the balance of power between the platforms and the people. The age of inadequate self regulation must come to an end.”

The 108-page report is often scathing on Facebook’s practices and corporate conduct. The committee’s inquiry into disinformation began in September 2017, as revelations emerged that Facebook had been used to spread disinformation during the U.S. presidential election and the U.K. Brexit referendum vote, both in 2016. In March 2018, the Cambridge Analytica scandal broke, and showed how users’ data could be harvested and misappropriated.

(13) LEONARDO THE EVOLUTIONIST? “Virgin of the Rocks: A subversive message hidden by Da Vinci”.

… Few art historians doubt that Leonardo’s vision was influenced by his memory of a mountain excursion on which he found himself wandering “among gloomy rocks”. “I came to the mouth of a great cavern,” Leonardo would later attest, “in front of which I stood sometime astonished. Bending back and forth, I tried to see if I could discover anything inside, but the darkness within prevented that. Suddenly there arose in me two contrary emotions, fear and desire – fear of the threatening dark cave, desire to see whether there were any marvellous thing within.”

Impelled to enter, Leonardo’s curiosity was repaid by the discovery inside of a fossilised whale and a horde of ancient seashells whose engrossing geometric grooves he would memorialise in the pages of his notebooks.

Over the ensuing years, the perplexing presence of “oysters and corals and various other shells and sea snails” on “the high summits of mountains”, far from the sea, worried away at the artist’s imagination. For Leonardo, the accepted explanation by ecclesiastical scholars of a great flood, such as that described in the Old Testament, for the relocation of these shells, didn’t wash. These creatures weren’t thrown there. They were born there.

Seashells in mountains were proof, Leonardo came to believe and confided to his journal, that Alpine peaks were once the floors of seas. And the Earth was therefore much older and far more haphazardly fashioned by violent cataclysms and seismic upheavals over a vast stretch of time (not the smooth hand of God in a handful of days) than the Church was willing to admit.

(14) SPORTING LIFE. Every year sports fans have to cope with the slack period between the Super Bowl and March Madness. Will K.B. Spangler’s suggestion gain traction? Thread begins here.

(15) THE SIPPY. Charles Payseur is ready to tell us who won: “THE SIPPY AWARDS 2018! The ‘I’d Ship That’ Sippy for Excellent Relationships in Short SFF”. He also lists four runners-up.

I’m a sucker for a good relationship story. They don’t have to be romantic. Or sexual. Though most of these stories do feature romance and sex, they also feature characters that interact and orbit each other in intensely beautiful ways. For some of the stories, the connections are between just two people, lovers or friends or something else. For others, the connections flow between more people, or did, and were severed. They feature people striving to find comfort and meaning in their own skins, knowing sometimes that takes help, and understanding, and compassion. And occasionally it takes kicking some ass. Whatever the case, the relationships explored in these stories have stuck with me through a very hard year.

(16) CHUCK TINGLE WOULD BE PLEASED. “Carrie, cereal and four more unusual inspirations for musicals” – see the last item in this BBC story.

If you ever wanted to watch Jurassic Park told from the point of view of the dinosaurs, then the 2012 off-Broadway musical comedy Triassic Parq is for you.

Described by the New York Times as a “bawdy tribute to dinosaurs and their newfound genitalia”, the show follows a group of dinosaurs whose lives are thrown into chaos when one of the females spontaneously turns male.

[Thanks to Andrew Porter, Carl Slaughter, Eli, Chip Hitchcock, Cat Eldridge, JJ, Mike Kennedy, Daniel Dern, Martin Morse Wooster, and John (your capital J remembered today) King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Andrew.]

Pixel Scroll 2/14/19 Scot Hunk, Cyber Punk, Even If It’s Old Junk

(1) HAPPY VALENTINE’S DAY. I found my holiday inspiration at SYFY Wire: “Debate Club: The 5 best romances in sci-fi movies”.

Welcome to Debate Club, where Tim Grierson and Will Leitch, the hosts of the Grierson & Leitch podcast, tackle the greatest arguments in pop culture.

Hey, it’s Valentine’s Week! And even if you’re not out with your significant other on Thursday night, you can still appreciate a good love story, particularly one that’s surrounded by the genre trappings we’ve all come to appreciate. We need love stories to humanize all the theatrics, to make sure human beings aren’t lost among the stars.

Skipping all the details, the movies (and couples and actors, where applicable) Grierson and Leitch choose are:

Upstream Color (2013) — Jeff (Shane Carruth) and Kris (Amy Seimetz)

The Empire Strikes Back (1980) — Han Solo (Harrison Ford) and Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher)

Edward Scissorhands (1990) — Edward (Johnny Depp) and Kim (Winona Ryder)

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004) — Joel (Jim Carrey) and Clementine (Kate Winslet)

WALL-E (2008) — WALL-E and EVE

(2) THE TMZ OF THE MCU. And yes, love is in the air, even after 50% of humanity is gone (Inverse: “Who’s Dating Who in the MCU? After Thanos’ Snap, Here’s the Complete Guide”).

This Valentine’s Day, there’s no better place to look for love than in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, which boasts more than 80 characters in 20 movies with stories spanning across various countries, realms, galaxies, and even timelines. And only half of them are dead!

Many characters are now gone. We get it. But hey, love is complicated! Love is patient. Love is kind. Time travel Love can fix anything.

(3) BEWARE THE IDEAS OF MARCH. John Scalzi tweeted, “Oh, hey, here’s a trailer for you, he said, with no personal vested interest at all.” I wonder what he meant by that? Love Death + Robots debuts on Netflix on March 15.

Sentient dairy products, werewolf soldiers, robots gone wild, garbage monsters, cyborg bounty hunters, alien spiders and blood-thirsty demons from hell – all converge in eighteen NSFW animated stories. Presented by Tim Miller & David Fincher.

(4) WAKE-UP AND SMELL THE COFFEE. Um, can you even do that in the vacuum of space? The promoters of Space Roasters say that’s where they’ll perfect your cup of coffee.

TrendHunter Marketing has the details — “Re-Entry from Space Heats Space Roasters’ Coffee Beans”.

Space Roasters is looking to “revolutionize coffee roasting” by taking the process to outer space. Space Roasters plans to send green coffee into space and allow the heat from its re-entry through Earth’s atmosphere to take care of the roasting—and in the process, address many of the pitfalls of conventional coffee-roasting practices. Since gravity interferes with coffee beans tumbling and breaking, Space Roasters aims to create a zero-gravity setting for roasting that creates evenly distributed heat and perfectly roasted beans.

Daniel Dern notes: “This makes me think of the Tom Swift Jr book where he sends up rockets holding cargoes of solar batteries so they can charge in space, and then come back to earth.”

(5) GEORGE PAL. Arnold Leibovit’s GoFundMe “Fantasy Worlds of George Pal Film Preservation” hope to raise $9,850 to preserve a series of historic rare archival videotape interviews – many never released –  from The Fantasy Film Worlds of George Pal  (1986).

In the annals of Hollywood, Academy Award winner George Pal will always be remembered as a titan, a brilliant visionary who profoundly shaped the art of motion pictures. As an animator, Pal was a pioneer of stop-motion animation known as Puppetoons ™ and a peer of Walt Disney and Walter Lantz. In the 1950’s as a producer and director of live-action films, he brought to the screen such classics as “The War of the Worlds”, “The Time Machine”, “When Worlds Collide”, “Destination Moon”, “Tom Thumb”, “Houdini”, “Atlantis the Lost Continent” “The Wonderful World of the Brothers Grimm”, “7 Faces of Dr. Lao”, “The Power”, “Doc Savage: Man of Bronze” and others.  Pal’s cinematic legacy can be traced in the works of Walt Disney, George Lucas, Steven Spielberg, Gene Roddenberry, Tim Burton, James Cameron, Peter Jackson and dozens of others.

The original 1 inch ‘B’ NTSC video format used in the production of “The Fantasy Film Worlds of George Pal” are long out of use. To make matters worse, only 2  working ‘B’ NTSC machines exist that can aid in the digitization process.  There is no telling how long these machines will last or their working parts as they are also no longer in existence!

… Talent interviews to preserve includes: Rod Taylor, Alan Young, Tony Randall, Tony Curtis, Ray Harryhausen, Ray Bradbury, Gene Roddenberry, Charlton Heston, Janet Leigh, Russ Tamblyn, Barbara Eden, Ann Robinson, Roy E. Disney, Ward Kimball, Robert Wise, George Pal, Mrs. George Pal,  David Pal, Gae Griffith, Walter Lantz, Gene Warren Sr., Wah Chang, Jim Danforth, Robert Bloch, Chesley Bonestell, Albert Nozaki, William Tuttle, Duke Goldstone, Bob Baker and Phil Kellison….

(6) REBEL AND WRITE CLEARLY. Benjamin Dreyer, vice president, executive managing editor and copy chief, of Random House, and the author of Dreyer’s English: An Utterly Correct Guide to Clarity and Style asserts in a Washington Post opinion piece: “I’m not the grammar police. But writing well is an act of resistance.”.

…I might also urge you to kondo your prose of what I call the Wan Intensifiers and Throat Clearers® — the “very”s and “quite”s and “rather”s and “actually”s in which many (most?) of us bury our writing like so many packing peanuts. Because once you’ve stripped those away, I insist, you’ll find yourself looking at sentences that are bolder in their spareness.

And perhaps be less eager to grab up the latest bit of jargony businessspeak — is it not enough to orient new employees? Must we onboard them, and is that not prohibited anyway by the Geneva Conventions?

As a copy editor I find myself frequently asked to weigh in on an array of language peeves and crotchets: “Is it okay to use ‘literally’ to mean ‘figuratively’?” “What about ‘begs the question’?” “What do I do about supermarket signs that read ‘Ten Items or Less’?” (Respectively: If I say no, is that going to stop you? I plead the Fifth. Get a hobby.)

(7) PRIME PADDINGTON. He looks pretty good for 50. Paddington Bear passed the half-century mark last last year but apparently isn’t retired yet (BBC News: “Paddington returns as a TV series with the voice of Ben Whishaw”).

The actor has already provided the voice for the bear for two films that were critical and box office hits. 

The series for pre-schoolers will be a 3D CG-animated series, which follows the adventures of a younger Paddington.

[…] “It is a joy to bring this uniquely life-enhancing bear to a whole new audience of younger children. We are thrilled that the inimitably brilliant Ben Whishaw will continue to voice Paddington,” [executive producer David Heyman] said. 

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born February 14, 1929 Vic Morrow. I usually avoid dealing in death here but this time I can’t. He and two child actors were killed in 1982 by a stunt helicopter crash during the filming of Twilight Zone: The Movie. It was his first big budget SF film having done only two low-budget ones before that, Message from Space (Ucyuu karano messeiji), a Japanese film where he was cast as General Garuda, and as Hank Slattery in Humanoids of the Deep. (Died 1982.)
  • Born February 14, 1933 Robert Shea. Author with Robert Anton Wilson of The Illuminatus Trilogy (The Eye in the PyramidThe Golden Apple and Leviathan). Weird shit. Is it really genre? Or just the ravings of two insane writers? (Died 1994.)
  • Born February 14, 1942 Andrew Robinson, 77. Elim Garak on Deep Space Nine. He wrote a novel based based on his character, A Stitch in Time  and a novella, “The Calling” which can be found in Prophecy and Change, a DS9 anthology edited by Marco Palmieri. Other genre credits include Larry Cotton in Hellraiser, appearing in The Puppet Masters as Hawthorne and playing John F. Kennedy on the The New Twilight Zone
  • Born February 14, 1948 Teller, 70. Performed on Babylon 5 in the episode scripted by Neil Gaiman titled “Day of The Dead” as part of Penn & Teller who portrayed comedians Rebo and Zooty. It’s one of my favorite episodes of the series. 
  • Born February 14, 1952 Paula M. Block, 67. Star Trek author and editor; but primarily known for working in Paramount Pictures’ consumer licensing division and then with CBS Consumer Products. Remember that novel I noted by Andrew Robinson? Yeah that’s her bailiwick. She’s also written with her husband Terry J. Erdmann, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion and Star Trek: Costumes: Five Decades of Fashion from the Final Frontier. It looks like she did some Trek fanfic as well including “The Girl Who Controlled Gene Kelly’s Feet”.
  • Born February 14, 1952 Gwyneth Jones, 67. Interesting person the she is, let’s start with her thoughts on chestnuts. Just because I can. Now regarding her fiction, I’d strongly recommend her Bold As Love series of a Britain that went to pieces, and her twenty year-old Deconstructing the Starships: Science, Fiction and Reality polemic is still worth reading.
  • Born February 14, 1963 Enrico Colantoni, 56. Any excuse to mention Galaxy Quest is one I’ll gladly take. He played a delightful Mathesar on that film and that was his first genre role, lucky bastard. up next for him was A.I. Artificial Intelligence as The Murderer followed by appearing in Justice League Dark as the voice of Felix Faust where (SPOILER!) his fate was very, very bad. He had an amazing role on Person of Interest as Charlie Burton / Carl Elias. Not genre, but his acting as Sgt. Gregory Parker on Flashpointa Canadian police drama television series is worth noting
  • Born February 14, 1970 Simon Pegg, 49. Best known for playing Montgomery Scott in Star TrekStar Trek Into Darkness and Star Trek Beyond (with a co-writing credit for the latter). His first foray into the genre was Shaun of the Dead which he co-wrote and had an acting role in. Late genre roles include Land of the Dead where he’s a Photo Booth Zombie, Diary of the Dead where he has a cameo as a Newsreader, and he portrays Benji Dunn in the present Mission: Impossible franchise.
  • Born February 14, 1978 Danai Guirira, 41. She’s best known for her role as Michonne on The Walking Dead, and as Okoye in the MCU franchise starting with Black Panther, and later reprising that role in Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame. Her first genre film was Ghost Town in which she’s listed as playing assorted ghosts, and she’s got some role in the forthcoming Godzilla vs. Kong

(9) COMICS SECTION.

(10) LOOKING BACKWARD. At the Dublin 2019 site Ian Moore does a category overview: “Retro Hugos: dramatic Presentations in 1943”.

…Science fiction pictures as we know them now were still relatively rare in 1943. However, horror films provide a rich vein of Retro Hugo eligible material, admittedly of variable quality. Universal brought out another version of The Phantom of the Opera, with Arthur Lubin directing Claude Rains in the title role. Somewhat unusually for horror films of the era, this film was awarded Academy Awards in the cinematography and art direction categories. At just over 90 minutes it is eligible for the long form dramatic Retro Hugo.

Universal also brought out the short Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man, directed by Roy William Neill. This was the first of their films to feature an encounter between two of their monsters. Lon Chaney Jr. reprised his role as the Wolf Man while Bela Lugosi finally played Frankenstein’s Monster, a role he had famously turned down when the 1931 Frankenstein was being cast. Chaney also appeared in the Universal short films Calling Dr. Death (directed by Reginald LeBorg), a lost memory murder mystery, and Son of Dracula (directed by Robert Siodmak), in which he took on Lugosi’s Dracula role. By 1943 Lugosi meanwhile was ageing, but he still managed to play another vampire role in Columbia’s short Return of the Vampire (directed by Lew Landers) and The Ape Man (a short for Banner Pictures, directed by William Beaudine), in which he plays a scientist who transforms into an ape-man hybrid following some ethically dubious experiments….

(11) VALENTINE’S DAY BURRITO. John Scalzi reached 160,000 Twitter followers yesterday. By popular acclaim he celebrated by making a burrito. A thread with the recipe starts here. He’s also published it as a Whatever blog post.

(12) PERSPECTIVES ON SFF HISTORY. SYFY Wire’s “Fangrrls” takes a look at, “How genre has failed and served queer representation.”

Two years ago, during my annual pilgrimage to the Lesbian Herstory Archives’ book sale, I stumbled across Kindred Spirits, the first anthology of gay and lesbian science fiction stories ever, to my knowledge, published. First published in 1984 by Alyson Publications, one of the oldest LGBTQ publishing houses in operation, the anthology boasted twelve queer science fiction stories written by authors of varying identities, ranging from legendary lesbian author Joanna Russ to openly gay Star Trek screenwriter David Gerrold, who wrote the iconic episode “The Trouble With Tribbles.”

[…] [Editor Jeffrey M.] Elliot clearly hoped that anthologizing these stories would engender empathy and acceptance in his readers, but he was also cognizant of the limitations of fiction, citing the clear and urgent work of queer activists as moving the goalposts forward. Turning away from the darkness of the past, Elliot looks hopefully to a future where speculative fiction both reflects increasing acceptance of the LGBTQ community and can be used to increase acceptance of the LGBTQ community.

It’s been 35 years since Kindred Spirits was published in that hope. Have we lived up to it?

(13) SOMETHING WICKED. Flavor Wire quotes from Frank Skinner’s introduction to the Folio Society’s new edition of a Ray Bradbury classic, which contemplates what exactly makes this story so scary: “Book Excerpt: On the Potent Fear of ‘Something Wicked This Way Comes’”.

…Bradbury, it seems, is something of a student of fear. It is, he suggests, much more complex than we might think. It is certainly not just one thing. I once lived in an apartment overlooking the Thames. Seeing so much of the old river made me realise how different it could be from day to day, from hour to hour. It swirled and settled, it grew darker, it sparkled, it seemed, sometimes, almost to stop flowing. It feels as if Bradbury, through his writings, has similarly studied fear on a daily basis, noting its ebbs and flows, recognising its surprising variety. Thirteen-year-old boys can be a strange mix of high energy and deep languor. Their fear, Bradbury shows us, is subject to similar peaks and troughs. Having been near-paralysed with foreboding for a sustained period, Will and Jim become ‘starchy with boredom and fatigued with sameness’ and consider giving themselves up to the carnival just for something to do….

(14) IT’S A DRY HEAT. So far, Dune has pretty firmly resisted adaptation to the silver screen. Director Denis Villeneuve (Blade Runner 2049) is lining up talent for the next attempt (IGN Entertainment: “Dune Movie: Every Actor in the Sci-Fi Reboot”). Actors listed in the article as signed (or in talks) include:

  • Timothée Chalamet (Call Me By Your Name) — Paul Atreides
  • Rebecca Ferguson (Mission: Impossible – Fallout) — Lady Jessica
  • Oscar Isaac (Star Wars: The Force Awakens) — Duke Leto Atreides
  • Stellan Skarsgård (The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo) — Baron Vladimir Harkonnen
  • Dave Bautista (Blade Runner 2049) — Glossu Rabban
  • Zendaya (Spider-Man: Homecoming) — in talks to play Chani
  • Charlotte Rampling (Red Sparrow) — Reverend Mother Gaius Helen Mohiam
  • Javier Bardem — in talks to play Stilgar
  • Josh Brolin (Deadpool 2) — Gurney Halleck
  • Jason Momoa (Aquaman) — reportedly in talks to play Duncan Idaho

(15) ASKING FOR A TIME REFUND. Think Story deems the TV production of Nightflyers to be “A Hot Mess in Space.”

Were you as disappointed in Netflix’s “Nightflyers” as I was? Join me as we take a look at what could have been a great series but was thrown out the airlock.

[Thanks to Charles Mohapel, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, Chip Hitchcock, Carl Slaughter, Daniel Dern, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Jack Lint.]

Pixel Scroll 12/31/18 Three…(Click)…Two…(Click)….One…(Click)…Godstalk!

(1) DOCTOR WHO SPECIAL AIRS TOMORROW. And you can preview the New Year’s Day Special Doctor Who: Resolution.

The Doctor Who cast talk about what to expect in the New Years Day Special, Doctor Who: Resolution.

(2) THE YEAR’S MOST WTF. ScienceFiction.com is right – there were plenty: “The Most WTF Moments Of 2018”.

There were a lot of memorable moments in pop culture in 2018, including many highs, as well as a few lows.  But in addition to that, there were a few events that were just weird or shocking, to the point that some folks are still reeling months later.   Yes, there were many deaths.  There were also a large number of sexual misconduct accusations.  But omitting those, here are a few other moments that you may recall.

Their list begins with —

12. Netflix Dropped A Surprise Movie, ‘The Cloverfield Paradox’ After The Super Bowl

(3) 2018 MOST INFLUENTIAL SFF WOMEN. At SYFY Wire, the Fangrrls column lists their “2018’s most influential women in genre.”

This was a hard year. For many of us, 2018 was surreal, and for many more, it was deeply painful. But in the face of adversity, as always, it is the women who made us feel we can survive, thrive, and make a difference. 

In 2018, women like Christine Blasey Ford stood firm against a wave of screams attempting to silence, dismiss and discredit her. But firm she stood. For better or worse, and still experiencing attacks and threats, she and so many other women reminded us that we are strong. Often because the world has given us no choice. But it’s what these women do with that strength that is empowering, inspiring, and life-changing for those of us their lives touch. 

The genre world is no different. This year, we were still told, constantly and from people who should know better, that there is simply not room at the table for us, or, possibly worse, gaslit into believing there aren’t enough of us capable or even willing to do the work men are handed with far less experience

These women inspired us to say “f*ck that” and be everything the world says we can’t be. And we are eternally grateful.

Details are in the article for about each selectee. The list (along with an attempt to distill the roles for which each woman was selected) is:

* Eve Ewing (academic, author, visual artist)—selected by Sara Century

* Jody Houser (comic book author)—selected by Riley Silverman

* N.K. Jemisin (author, activist)—selected by S.E. Fleenor

* Jodie Whittaker (actor)—selected by Jenna Busch

* Laila Shabir (founder/CEO of Girls Make Games)—selected by Courtney Enlow

* Margot Robbie (actor, producer)—selected by Jenna Busch

* Janelle Monáe (musician)—selected by Clare McBride

* Ava DuVernay (director)—selected by Tricia Ennis

* Natalie Portman (actor, activist)—selected by Emma Fraser

* Tessa Thompson (actor, singer, songwriter)—selected by S.E. Fleenor

* Christina Hodson (screenwriter)—selected by Jenna Busch

* Brie Larson (actor, activist)—selected by Carly Lane

(4) GOING TO HAVE TO REFILL THE MIRROR. A.V. News says “Bandersnatch was so complex that season five of Black Mirror has been delayed”.

We never would’ve guessed this, but it turns out that developing an interactive movie with tons of branching paths and alternate endings is kind of difficult. Perhaps that’s why most movies only have the one narrative and end the same way no matter how many times you watch it?

…The movie has so many different variations based on what choices you make that Brooker (the creator of Black Mirror) says he has “forgotten” how many different endings there are, going so far as to reject producer Annabel Jones’ claim in a Hollywood Reporter interview that there are five “definitive” conclusions.

That Hollywood Reporter piece goes deep into how Bandersnatch was made and some of the behind-the-scenes magic that allows it to work, but the biggest reveal is that Bandersnatch required such an “enormous” amount of time and work that the fifth season of the oppressively dark sci-fi horror series has been delayed….

(5) NEW BUHLERT POSTS. Galactic Journey has published Cora Buhlert’s review of Andre Norton’s Ordeal in Otherwhere (her first Norton), as well her original 1960s recipe for spaceman’s punch, a New Year’s party favorite.

Cora also has a poem in Issue eleven of the poetry webzine Umbel & Panicle, out today, which also features photographs by Paul Weimer and Elizabeth Fitzgerald.

(6) EVOLVED GINGERBREAD. Aftonbladet reports how “Caroline’s gingerbread makes success”. Hampus Eckerman translated the first part of this Swedish-language article for Filers to enjoy:

In Caroline Eriksson’s family, it has always been a tradition to build gingerbread houses.

But over the years, Caroline began to get tired of “just” building houses.

This year she has built a 130×90 centimeter replica of Alien – made in gingerbread.

For three and a half weeks, Caroline Eriksson, 31, has worked with the gingerbread during evenings and weekends.

Building gingerbread houses always used to be a tradition in Caroline’s family during her childhood in Tyresö. But in recent years, the gingerbread cookies have become increasingly advanced.

– After a few years I got tired of doing houses and started to do more special things like boats and some movie creations, says Caroline.

For several years, Caroline has lived in Oslo. In 2013, she participated in a gingerbread competition in Norway and since then the gingerbread cookies have become more extreme.

– Then I built Optimus Prime, the transformer robot, in gingerbread. I won the competition which was super cool and after that, the tradition of making a gingerbread figure every year continued. I try to challenge myself and make more crazy creations every year, says Caroline.

(7) SIR JULIUS VOGEL AWARDS YEAR KICKS OFF. Nominations are now being accepted for the 2019 Sir Julius Vogel Awards, and will be taken until the window closes on March 30, 2019.

The awards recognise excellence and achievement in science fiction, fantasy, or horror works created by New Zealanders and New Zealand residents, and first published or released in the 2018 calendar year.

…Anyone can make a nomination and it is free! Get busy reading NZ authors and watching NZ movies to find work to nominate. The awards will be presented at Geysercon – the 2019 National SF&F Convention.

(8) AMONG THE RUINS. Harvard Gazette’s ‘Stepping inside a dead star” offers “A virtual reality experience of being inside an exploded star.” You’ll need the VR hardware to try this out.

Cassiopeia A, the youngest known supernova remnant in the Milky Way, is the remains of a star that exploded almost 400 years ago. The star was approximately 15 to 20 times the mass of our sun and sat in the Cassiopeia constellation, almost 11,000 light-years from earth.

Though stunningly distant, it’s now possible to step inside a virtual-reality (VR) depiction of what followed that explosion.

A team led by Kimberly Kowal Arcand from the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (CfA) and the Center for Computation and Visualization at Brown University has made it possible for astronomers, astrophysicists, space enthusiasts, and the simply curious to experience what it’s like inside a dead star. Their efforts are described in a recent paper in Communicating Astronomy with the Public.

The VR project — believed to be the first of its kind, using X-ray data from NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory mission (which is headquartered at CfA), infrared data from the Spitzer Space Telescope, and optical data from other telescopes — adds new layers of understanding to one of the most famous and widely studied objects in the sky.

(9) ROMAN OBIT. NPR reports: “Nancy Grace Roman, ‘Mother Of Hubble’ Space Telescope, Has Died, At Age 93”. She defied a guidance counselor who asked “what lady would take math instead of Latin”; joined NASA when it was 6 months old.

When Nancy Grace Roman was a child, her favorite object to draw was the moon.

Her mother used to take her on walks under the nighttime sky and show her constellations, or point out the colorful swirls of the aurora. Roman loved to look up at the stars and imagine.

Eventually, her passion for stargazing blossomed into a career as a renowned astronomer. Roman was one of the first female executives at NASA, where she served as the agency’s first chief of astronomy.

Known as the “Mother of Hubble,” for her role in making the Hubble Space Telescope a reality, Roman worked at NASA for nearly two decades. She died on Dec. 25 at the age of 93.

(10) LUSK OBIT. SYFY Wire reports the death of classic Disney animator Don Lusk:

Don Lusk, longtime Disney animator and Hanna-Barbera director, has died. The multi-hyphenate artist behind dozens of iconic characters roaming throughout animation was 105. His longevity was only matched by his output, as Lusk’s six decade career saw him make the faces of Alice in Wonderland, Charlie Brown, Babar, Papa Smurf, and Goofy familiar to an entire culture.

(11) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • December 31, 1958 The Crawling Eye showed up at the drive-in.
  • December 31, 1958  — The Strange World Of Planet X made for a good double bill at the drive-in.
  • December 31, 1961The Phantom Planet appeared in theaters.

(12) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born December 31, 1937  — Anthony Hopkins, 80. I never know what I’ve going to find when I look these Birthday possibilities so imagine my surprise when I discover his first genre role was Ian McCandless in Freejack followed soon by playing Helsing in Bram Stoker’s Dracula! He went to have a number of genre roles including being C. S. Lewis in Shadowlands, the lead in The Mask of Zorro, the narrator of that stink, stank, stunk How the Grinch Stole Christmas and Odin in three Thor MCU films. 
  • Born December 31, 1943 Ben Kingsley, 75. First SF character he played was Avatar in Slipstream, later roles included Dr. John Watson in Without a Clue, Minister Templeton in Photographing Fairies, The Great Zamboni In Spooky House, Specialist in A.I., Man in the Yellow Suit in Tuck Everlasting,  Merenkahre in Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb and that’s just a partial listing. God he’s had an impressive genre history! 
  • Born December 31, 1945Connie Willis, 73. She has won eleven Hugo Awards and seven Nebula Awards for her work, a feat that impresses even I who isn’t generally impressed as you know by Awards! Of her works, I’m most pleased by To Say Nothing of the DogDoomsday Book and Bellwether, an offbeat novel look at chaos theory. I’ve not read enough of her shorter work to give an informed opinion of it, so do tell me what’s good there.
  • Born December 31, 1949Ellen Datlow, 69. Let’s get start this Birthday note by saying I own a complete set of The Year’s Best Fantasy & Horror which, yes , I know, it was titled The Year’s Best Fantasy for the first year. And I still read stories for them from time to time. If that was all she had done, she’d have been one of our all-time anthologists but she also, again with Terri Windling, did the Fairy Tale and Mythic Fiction series, both of which I highly recommend. On her own, she has the ongoing Best Horror of Year, now a decade old, and the Tor.com anthologies which I’ve not read but I assume collect the fiction from the site. Speaking of Tor.com, she’s an editor, something she’s also done at Nightmare MagazineOmni, the hard copy magazine and online, Sci Fiction webzine and Subterranean Magazine
  • Born December 31, 1958 Bebe Neuwirth, 60. Ok she’s had but one television SF credit to her name which is playing a character named Lanel in the “First Contact” episode of the Next Gen series during season four but I found a delightful genre credential for her. From April 2010 to December 2011, she was Morticia Addams in the Broadway production of The Addams Family musical! The show itself is apparently still ongoing. 
  • Born December 31, 1959Val Kilmer, 59. Lead role in Batman Forever where I fought he did a decent job, Madmartigan in Willow, Montgomery in The Island of Dr. Moreau, voiced both Moses and God in The Prince of Egypt, uncredited role as El Cabillo in George and the Dragon and voiced KITT in the reboot of Knight Rider.

(13) COMICS SECTION.

  • In this Brewster Rockit, Cliff Clewless may have the right idea—retroactive New Year resolutions.

(14) ON TONIGHT’S JEOPARDY! Andrew Porter, Jeopardy! game show genre reference correspondent, spotted another:  

Double Jeopardy Answer, for $3,000: He wrote 1899’s “Father Goose”; he came up with a “Wonderful” adventure the following year.

Wrong question: “Who is [Upton] Sinclair?” [which cost the contestant $3 grand]

Correct question: Who is L. Frank Baum?

(15) POOP QUIZ. Meanwhile, Daniel Dern is proposing his own game show – “Today’s SF and SF-adjacent Pop Quiz.”

What (a) SF story, and (b) folk song (story, more precisely) do these articles make you think of:

“Maine woman who makes artwork out of moose poop might be getting a TV show”

which in turn refers back to —

“People love this Maine woman who makes artwork out of moose poop”

Stay tuned to ROT-13 for the answers —

a) Gur Ovt Cng Obbz ol Qnzba Xavtug

b) “Zbbfr Gheq Cvr,” ol gur yngr Oehpr “H. Hgnu” Cuvyyvcf, Gur Tbyqra Ibvpr bs gur Terng Fbhgujrfg naq “Nzrevpn’f Zbfg-Srnerq Sbyxfvatre,” bevtvanyyl ba uvf TBBQ GUBHTU nyohz — urer vg abj

<uggcf://jjj.lbhghor.pbz/jngpu?i=0mo1dfIdwjt>

Abgr, V ybir gung n jro frnepu gheaf hc uvgf yvxr:

    Fubc Zbbfr Gheq Cvr: Nznmba

Gur FS-nqwnprag nfcrpg: Cuvyyvcf jnf n thrfg (TbU, creuncf) ng ng yrnfg bar FS pbairagvba — ZvavPba?

And that’s the name of that tune!

(16) KSR’S LATEST. Vidvuds Veldavs totes up the pluses and minuses about Kim Stanley Robinson’s Red Moon for readers at The Space Review.

[Note: the review contains spoilers regarding the novel.]

Kim Stanley Robinson’s latest novel, Red Moon, is set in 2047. China has become the dominant player on the Moon with large-scale operations at the South Pole. The US and other players have facilities at the North Pole. China achieved this position using the experience of massive infrastructure projects to mount an operation possibly larger and more intensive in scope than the U.S. Apollo project. According to the novel, President Xi Jinping secured the commitment of the Chinese Communist Party at the 20th People’s Congress in 2022 to the goal “… that the moon should be a place for Chinese development, as one part of the Chinese Dream.” Insofar as 2022 is still more than three years into the future, Robinson may be advocating for such a future. Xi Jinping is highly praised in the book for his Moon declaration as well as for the environmental cleanup that takes place on Earth. The hills surrounding Beijing in 2047 are green and the air is fresh and breathable as a result of the environmental policies of Xi.

(17) A DIFFERENT KIND OF YEAR IN NEWS. The BBC’s “2018 in news: The alternative end-of-the-year awards” features videos of masterfully-incompetent criminals, and of an attempt to stifle press questions that got shown up by a phone app.

(18) YOUNG JUSTICE. The final trailer of Young Justice Season 3: Outsiders has been released. The TV series will premiere January 4.

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

Pixel Scroll 12/21/18 Golden The Ship Was Ho! Ho! Ho!

(1) DOOM PATROL TEASER. Daniel Dern helpfully adds a Rot-13 footnote to the video: “For Filers too young and/or cool to recognize the background music’s singer, Fvatvat ‘Gvcgbr Guebhtu Gur Ghyvcf’ vf Gval Gvz , of course.”

DOOM PATROL is a re-imagining of one of DC’s most beloved groups of outcast Super Heroes: Robotman, Negative Man, Elasti-Girl and Crazy Jane, led by modern-day mad scientist Dr. Niles Caulder (The Chief). The Doom Patrol’s members each suffered horrible accidents that gave them superhuman abilities — but also left them scarred and disfigured. Traumatized and downtrodden, the team found purpose through The Chief, who brought them together to investigate the weirdest phenomena in existence — and to protect Earth from what they find. Part support group, part Super Hero team, the Doom Patrol is a band of super-powered freaks who fight for a world that wants nothing to do with them. Picking up after the events of TITANS, DOOM PATROL will find these reluctant heroes in a place they never expected to be, called to action by none other than Cyborg, who comes to them with a mission hard to refuse, but with a warning that is hard to ignore: their lives will never, ever be the same.

There’s a flock of character posters, too.

(2) BUMBLEBEE LIFTS OFF. NPR non-fan Scott Tobias says that in “Flight Of The ‘Bumblebee’: Transformers Flick Soars Over (Low) Franchise Expectations”

Mankind has split the atom, sent a man to the moon, and now, in arguably its most unlikely achievement, it has produced a watchable Transformers movie.

There’s really no scientific expression for how low Michael Bay’s five previous Transformers movies have set the bar, but it’s not enough to praise Bumblebee, the diverting new spin-off/prequel, for basic visual coherence or evidence of identifiable human emotion. It does better than that, imbuing the commercial cynicism of a Hasbro product with the borrowed warmth of E.T.: The Extra Terrestrial, Splash, and a soundtrack so chock-a-block with ’80s favorites that it gets from The Smiths to Steve Winwood in a hummingbird’s sneeze.

Though Bay has stayed on as producer, director Travis Knight, who made the wonderful Laika animated film Kubo and the Two Strings, and his screenwriter, Christina Hodson, almost make a point of crumpling up his vision and tossing in the waste basket. Gone is the Bay’s risible mix of mythology and militarism, replaced by simplified conflict and an emphasis on the friendship between an outcast and an exile. Gone also is the leering, dorm-room poster sexuality, replaced by a notably chaste teen romance that doesn’t get past first base. Bumblebee seems to have more of a family-friendly mandate than Bay’s Transformers movies, but the lightness and earnestness serves the material well. Movies inspired by toys tend to crack like cheap plastic under too much weight.

(3) TOP SFF. Here’s The Verge’s list of “Our favorite science fiction and fantasy books of 2018”:

The long and bleak year of 2018 is almost over. It was a year full of devastating storms and disasters, scandal after scandal from tech companies, and chaotic politics from around the world. If there was any bright point in the year, it was that 2018 also brought with it a bumper crop of fantastic science fiction, fantasy, and horror novels that served as an oasis to examine the world around us, or to escape for brighter pastures.

The best books of this year told stories of interstellar colonization, of fantastic magical civilizations, optimistic alternate worlds, and devastating potential futures. They brought us fantastic characters who sought to find their places in the vivid and fantastic worlds they inhabited.

One of those books is –

The Tiger Flu by Larissa Lai

Set in the distant future, humanity survives on a planet wrecked by climate change and plagues in Larissa Lai’s latest novel The Tiger Flu, which follows a community of cloned women who are battling for their very survival waged by illness and economics.

Lai’s story follows two women: Kirilow, a doctor of Grist Village whose lover Peristrophe dies of a new strain of flu. Peristrophe was vitally important to their community — she could regrow her limbs and organs, and following her death, Kirilow sets out to Salt Water City to try to find someone to replace her. There, she meets Kora, a woman living in the city who might be able to save her community, but who resists leaving her family behind. Lai’s story is an intriguing post-apocalyptic novel, one rife with biotech and the remnants of the world from before.

(4) SPACE COMMAND. On Late Night With Stephen Colbert the USS Enterprise receives a message from an alien curious about this whole Space Command thing. (The one thought up by Trump, not Marc Zicree.)

(5) THE KING JEFF VERSION. Now in those days a decree went out from Jeff VanderMeer counting down his Facebook rules for 2019:

I’m expanding my blocking next year to people who (1) love ice cream, (2) hate vultures, (3) tag me in posts comparing me unfavorably to authors I hate, (4) post cute animal vids without checking the source, (5) think wine coolers are cool, (6) have “author” as part of their name, (7) are inept at the fine art of humble bragging, (8) tell me something’s inspired by Annihilation just to get me to retweet it, (9) send me emails about how convinced they are the biologist wanted to commit suicide, and (10) send me every goddamn photo of a weird tree every single goddamn time. – Love, Curmudgeon

(6) MOFFAT OBIT. You saw him a lot, but did you know his name? “Donald Moffat, Commander Garry in John Carpenter’s The Thing, passes away at 87” – details at Syfy Wire.

Donald Moffat, the English actor most known for playing station commander Garry in John Carpenter‘s 1982 remake of The Thing, has died at the age of 87. According to The New York Times, Moffat passed away Thursday in Sleepy Hollow, New York, after complications arose from a stroke six days before his 88th birthday.

… Born in Plymouth of the U.K.’s Devon County in December of 1930, Moffat moved to the United States at the age of 26 to pursue a full-time acting career. Besides The Thing, the actor appeared in a number of other genre projects, like Night Gallery, The Terminal Man, Logan’s Run (the TV series), Exo-ManPopeyeThe Right Stuff, and Monster in the Closet.

(7) MASTERSON OBIT. “Peter Masterson, Actor, Director and ‘Best Little Whorehouse in Texas’ Writer, Dies at 84”The Hollywood Reporter has the story.

The father of actress Mary Stuart Masterson and a two-time Tony nominee also helmed ‘The Trip to Bountiful’ and appeared in ‘The Stepford Wives’ and ‘The Exorcist.’…

(8) ICONS LOST IN 2018. Last week, Turner Classic Movies posted its annual in memoriam video. Harlan Ellison, Jerry Maren, William Goldman, Gary Kurtz, Margot Kidder, and Stan Lee are some of the genre figures shown.

In loving memory of the actors and filmmakers who have passed away in 2018. We will remember you for all time.

(9) TODAY IN HISTORY.

December 21, 1968 – Apollo 8 launches. The Washington Post’s Joel Achenbach notes the 50th anniversary of Apollo 8.  “No space mission had ever presented so many exotic ways to kill astronauts,” Achenbach writes. “Apollo 8: NASA’s first moonshot was a bold and terrifying improvisation”.

Walter Cronkite held a tiny model of the Apollo 8 spacecraft and strode across a darkened studio where two dangling spheres represented Earth and the moon. This was the CBS Evening News, Dec. 20, 1968, and three Apollo 8 astronauts were scheduled to blast off the following morning on a huge Saturn V rocket. Cronkite explained that the astronauts would fly for three days to the vicinity of the moon, fire an engine to slow the spacecraft and enter lunar orbit, circle the moon 10 times, then fire the engine a final time to return to Earth and enter the atmosphere at 25,000 miles per hour.

“They must come in at JUST the right angle. If they come in too steeply, they will be CRUSHED in the Earth’s atmosphere. If they come in too shallow, they will SKIP OUT and go into Earth orbit and not be able to return,” Cronkite said….

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born December 21, 1892Hubert Rogers. Illustrator during the Golden Age of pulp magazines. His first freelance work was for Ace-High, Adventure, Romance, and West. In ‘42, he started doing covers for Astounding Science Fiction which he would do until ‘53. He did the cover art for the ‘51 edition of the Green Hills of Earth, the ‘50 edition of The Man Who Sold the Moon and the ‘53 edition of Revolt in 2100. (Died 1982.)
  • December 21, 1928Frank Hampson. A British illustrator that is best known as the creator and artist of Dan Dare, Pilot of The Future and other characters in the boys’ comic, The Eagle, to which he contributed from 1950 to 1961. There is some dispute over how much his original scripts were altered by his assistants before being printed. (Died 1985.)
  • Born December 21, 1937 Jane Fonda, 81. Sure everyone here has seen her in Barbarella? Her only other genre appearances are apparently by voice work as Shuriki in the animated Elena of Avalor series, and in the Spirits of the Dead, 1968 anthology film based on the work of Poe. She was the Contessa Frederique de Metzengerstein in the “Metzengerstein” segment of the film. 
  • Born December 21, 1948Samuel L. Jackson, 70. Where to start? Did you know that with his permission, his likeness was used for the Ultimates version of the Nick Fury? It’s a great series btw. He has also played Fury in the Iron Man, Iron Man 2, Thor, Captain America: The First Avenger, The Avengers, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Avengers: Age of Ultron and Avengers: Infinity War and showed up on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. too! He voiced Lucius Best (a.k.a. Frozone) in Incredible and Incredibles 2, Mace Windu in Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace and Star Wars: The Clone Wars, the Afro Samurai character in the anime series of the same name and more other genre work than can be listed here comfortably so go ahead and add your favorite role by him. 
  • Born December 21, 1962Kevin Murphy, 56. American actor and writer best known as the voice and puppeteer of Tom Servo on the Mystery Science Theater 3000. And he does RiffTrax which are  humorous audio commentary tracks intended to be played along with various television programs and films. 
  • Born December 21, 1966 Kiefer Sutherland, 52. My, he’s been in a lot of genre undertakings! I think that The Lost Boys was his first such of many to come including FlatlinersTwin Peaks: Fire Walk with MeThe Nutcracker PrinceThe Three Musketeers,  voice work in Armitage: Poly-MatrixDark City, more voice work in The Land Before Time X: The Great Longneck Migration,  Marmaduke and Dragonlance: Dragons of Autumn TwilightMirrors, and yes he’s in the forthcoming second Flatliners as a new character. 
  • Born December 21, 1971Jeff Prucher, 47. Won the Hugo Award for Brave New Words: The Oxford Dictionary of Science Fiction which to my knowledge is still the only historical dictionary of words originating in sf, plus citations and bibliographic information for them. If there’s another one, I’d like to know about it. 

(11) DON’T JUDGE BY CHARACTERS ON TV. Ada Hoffman told Twitter readers, “[If] you are NT, I am going to explain several reasons why you SHOULD NOT EVER judge if a character is ‘autistic enough’ by how well they match autistic characters on TV. Any TV.” Thread starts here.

(12) SPACE DOESN’T HAVE ENOUGH SPACE? The Man Who Sold The Moon, Delos Harriman, died before authorities could smother him with paperwork for his illegal mission – not so  Swarm co-founder and Chief Executive Officer Sara Spangelo: “FCC fines Swarm $900,000 for unauthorized satellite launch”.

Swarm Technologies Inc will pay a $900,000 fine for launching and operating four small experimental communications satellites that risked “satellite collisions” and threatened “critical commercial and government satellite operations,” the Federal Communications Commission said on Thursday.

The California-based start-up founded by former Google and Apple engineers in 2016 also agreed to enhanced FCC oversight and a requirement of pre-launch notices to the FCC for three years.

Swarm launched the satellites in India last January after the FCC rejected its application to deploy and operate them, citing concerns about the company’s tracking ability.

(13) COUNTERING ROGUE DRONES. [Item by Chip Hitchcock.] BBC chronicles “Gatwick airport: How countries counter the drone threat”. Context: per another BBC post, possibly 100,000 or more passengers grounded due to somebody flying at least one drone around the airport. It’s unclear so far whether it was a random idiot, or somebody deliberately harassing; the latter reminds of Christopher Anvil’s “Gadget vs. Trend” which is framed by quotes from a sociologist complaining first about rampant conformism and last about rampant individualism, after a device has allowed people to be … disruptive.

Rogue drones “deliberately” flown over one of the UK’s busiest airports caused travel chaos this week.

Incoming planes were forced to divert to airports up and down the country as the drones, or unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), repeatedly appeared over the airfield at London’s Gatwick Airport.

The situation was so serious the Army was called in to support the local police in tackling the issue, with the runway finally re-opening on Friday morning.

For some time now, governments around the world have been looking at different ways of addressing the dangers of drone use in areas where they pose safety risks.

Here we look at some of the solutions – ranging from bazookas to eagles.

More: “Gatwick disruption: How will police catch the drone menace?”

(14) 770 FROM 770 IS NOTHING. Here’s the real reason for today’s diminished sunlight — senpai has stopped noticing me!

(15) SAD FOR REAL. No explanation why yet, but “Scientists Find A Brain Circuit That Could Explain Seasonal Depression”.

Just in time for the winter solstice, scientists may have figured out how short days can lead to dark moods.

Two recent studies suggest the culprit is a brain circuit that connects special light-sensing cells in the retina with brain areas that affect whether you are happy or sad.

When these cells detect shorter days, they appear to use this pathway to send signals to the brain that can make a person feel glum or even depressed.

(16) YA DESERVING YOUR ATTENTION. Surprisingly, all six books chosen by Vicky Who Reads for “Best of 2018: Hidden Gems + Underappreciated Books” are sff.

There are so many amazing books this year that I personally think did not get enough hype or recognition, and today’s all about highlighting some of the quieter YA releases that you should definitely check out!

Every single book on this list and the ones to come are books that I’ve already read + loved, but obviously there are 2018 novels I haven’t read and could definitely qualify. But, alas. It is not to be.

One of those picks is –

Undead Girl Gang by Lily Anderson

I feel like in end of the year lists, we oftentimes forget about books that published earlier in the year, but Undead Girl Gang is a book I looooved! Not only did it star a fat Hispanic MC, but it’s also a really great book about friendship?

I mean, this girl has her mean girls revived as “zombies” of sorts (just not…flesh eating) and I loved seeing how they resolved their differences throughout the novel. It was not only super nice to read about friendship and not a lot of romance, but I also really loved the sort of fun narrative style that makes you enjoy what’s happening and not take it too seriously!

(17) OUTWARD MOBILITY. Paul Weimer makes a recommendation at Nerds of a Feather: “Microreview [book]: Implanted, by Lauren C Teffeau”.

Lauren C Teffeau’s Implanted combines future cyberpunk beats with a climate changed ravaged future, a vertically oriented arcology setting, and a strong central character with a thriller chassis for an entertaining read.

…The strength of the novel is Emily as a flawed, complicated character with lots of fiddly bits to her personality and story. Far from being a smooth operator when dropped into her new, unwelcome situation, and on the other hand, avoiding the trap of making her a completely clueless newbie without any skills, the author creates Emily as someone with strengths and weaknesses, in terms of skills and personality, that become plot relevant and interesting to her development and growth. Her desire to reconnect with her former life, damn the consequences, is a major driver of the plot as well.

(18) FELINE NAVIDAD. Camestros Felapton’s “Carols with Catnip” features seasonal music behind a video visage of Timothy the Talking Cat. It’s sort of like that Sauron eye fireplace video, except even more horrifying!

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

Pixel Scroll 11/26/18 Caution: Pixels In Scroll Are Closer Than They Appear

(1) POUNDING AWAY AT IT. Although I’ll never carry this much British cash, I’m interested in the story: “New £50 note scientist nominations released”.

 On the list are computing pioneers Alan Turing and Ada Lovelace, telephone inventor Alexander Graham Bell and astronomer Patrick Moore.

The Bank received 174,112 nominations, of which 114,000 met the eligibility criteria.

To be on the list, the individual must be real, deceased and have contributed to the field of science in the UK.

The list, which includes more than 600 men and almost 200 women, includes black holes expert Stephen Hawking, penicillin discoverer Alexander Fleming, father of modern epidemiology John Snow, naturalist and zookeeper Gerald Durrell, fossil pioneer Mary Anning, British-Jamaican business woman and nursing pioneer Mary Seacole and Margaret Thatcher, who was a scientist before becoming prime minister.

Here’s the Bank of England’s eligibility list [PDF file]. Fred Hoyle is on it. (Don’t you think he looks darling in the mockup below?) Keep looking, probably lots more sf writer/scientists. And I see other unexpected names – like Jethro Tull….

The BBC story notes that there are a lot of women and minorities on the list, but not whether the bank intends to pick someone ignored rather than someone obviously famous. Hawking is the favorite of bookmakers, but women are #2, #3 (tied) and #6 on that list.

(2) EARLY START ON NEBULA WEEKEND PROGRAM. I’m hungry already.

(3) INSIGHT REACHES THE SURFACE OF MARS. CNN follows the headline with a full retrospective of the mission: “NASA’s InSight lander has touched down on Mars”.

After seven months of traveling through space, the NASA InSight mission has landed on Mars. A few minutes after landing, InSight sent the official “beep” to NASA to signal that it was alive and well, including a photo of the Martian surface where it landed.

Mission Control at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory exploded into celebratory applause and cheers after the touchdown was confirmed. The landing was watched around the world and even broadcast live on the Nasdaq Stock Market tower in New York City’s Times Square.

(4) OUTASIGHT. Satirical Canadian news site The Beaverton suggests that the lander must be glad to be away from humans: “Mars probe glad to leave doomed Earth behind”.

“After the atmospheric entry procedure, InSight reported that it was ‘functioning normally, unlike your ill-fated Earth-bound governments,’” said NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in a press release…

(5) SLOSHING ON THE RED CARPET. Elle’s R. Eric Thomas wasn’t a big fan of the stars’ red carpet outfits: “I Don’t Really Understand the ‘Aquaman’ Premiere’s Dress Code”.

Look, I don’t want to rain on the parade here. I’m not trying to dampen anyone’s spirits. I don’t want to be a wet blanket. I’m not trying to be a drip. But, what was the dress code for this event?

Amber Heard is going very literal with an Esther Williams realness water ballet lewk, complete with an embroidered cap. Loves it. She is giving me 1970s country club loungewear vibes. She just got a perm and she’s just trying to get some sun and maybe stick her feet in the pool. That all tracks.

But what is is Jason Momoa doing in this scenario? This look says less Son of Atlanna and more Son of Anarchy. Whereas Amber is giving us Busby Berkley balletics, Jason is serving Rizzo from Grease.

(6) LAST GEEKWIRE. Frank Catalano reports, “I’ve decided to end my GeekWire podcast series on science fiction, pop culture, and the arts. Or at least take a long pause that, hopefully, refreshes –”

After 18 stories and 14 episodes over about a year and a half, the “popcast” I hosted has run the gamut for now. GeekWire generally is rethinking its podcast strategy, so the timing is right. The episodes were great fun, and not only were the podcasts distributed through Google Play and Apple Podcasts, but they also aired in Seattle on KIRO-FM on the weekends.

Among the science fiction episodes were interviews with Greg Bear, Cat Rambo and Ramez Naam, a look at the history of Clarion West, how Seattle’s Museum of Pop Culture looks for and preserves science fiction and fantasy artifacts, and how the SF and science fact site Scout uses science fiction as a business planning tool.

All episodes were recorded in real time and not heavily produced, on purpose, to make the guests and topics the star, not the production. However, the audio quality was always excellent.

I will continue to cover science fiction for GeekWire, but just not necessarily in audio form. (Unless Brian Herbert finally gives me that interview I’ve been pestering him about for 18 months, if he ever makes it into Seattle proper.)

All the episodes and stories can be found at this link: https://www.geekwire.com/tag/popcast

(7) JAY OBIT. Magician and actor Ricky Jay died November 24 reports Variety. BravoLimaPoppa3 notes: “For genre related works, he was in The Prestige, Mystery Men and an episode of the X-Files. Plus he could pull off stunts that made magic look real – as close to a real life wizard as you could get. He will be missed.”

(8) TODAY IN HISTORY.

  • November 26, 1986Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home had a whale of a time

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and JJ.]

  • Born November 26, 1919 – Frederik Pohl, Writer, Editor, and Member of First Fandom, who was active for more seventy-five years from his first published work, the 1937 poem “Elegy to a Dead Satellite: Luna” to his final novel All the Lives He Led. He edited Astounding Stories, Galaxy Science Fiction and Galaxy Science Fiction UK, If, Star Science Fiction Magazine (which I’ve never heard of), Super Science Stories which were a companion to Astounding Stories, and the list goes on. As a writer, he was amazing. My favorite was the Heechee series, though I confess some novels were far better than others; Gateway won Hugo Nebula, Campbell, Prix Apollo, and Locus Awards for Best Novel. Man Plus, I think, is phenomenal, the sequel less so. Your opinion, of course, will no doubt vary. The Space Merchants, co-written with Cyril M. Kornbluth in 1952, is damn fun. He wrote a lot of short fiction, some I think brilliant and some not – but that was true of most SF writers of the time. That he was great, and that he was honoured for being great, is beyond doubt — he won seven Hugo Awards (three as editor, three as author, and one as fan writer!) and two Nebula Awards; and for his 1979 novel Jem, he won a U.S. National Book Award in the special one-off category Science Fiction. SWFA made him its 12th recipient of their Grand Master Award in 1993, and he was inducted into the Science Fiction and Fantasy Hall of Fame in 1998. (Died 2013.)
  • Born November 26, 1936 – Shusei Nagaoka, Artist and Illustrator from Japan who is best known for his music album cover art in the 1970s and 1980s. He designed covers for many of Earth, Wind and Fire’s albums, and many of his covers were very distinctively SFFnal; especially notable are Out of the Blue, by Electric Light Orchestra and When We Rock, We Rock, and When We Roll, We Roll by Deep Purple. His art also graced numerous genre books, including Tepper’s After Long Silence, Attanasio’s The Last Legends of Earth, and Reed’s Down the Bright Way. He helped to design the 1970 Osaka World’s Fair Expo, and had one of the first artworks which was launched into outer space and attained orbit, via the Russian Mir Space Station, in 1991. He won a Seiun Award for Best Artist in 1982. (Died 2015.)
  • Born November 26, 1939 – Tina Turner, 79, Grammy-winning Actor, Composer, Singer, and Dancer. She rates being mentioned just for being the oh-so-over-the-top Aunty Entity in Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome, but let’s not forget her as The Acid Queen in the musical Tommy, and a cameo as The Mayor in The Last Action Hero.
  • Born November 26, 1940 – Paul J. Nahin, 78, Engineer and Writer of numerous non-fiction works, some of genre interest, and at least 20 SF short fiction works. Time travel is certainly one of the intrinsic tropes of SF, so certainly there should be at least one academic that specializes in studying it. Oh, there is: I present this Professor Emeritus of electrical engineering at the University of New Hampshire who has written not one, but three, works on the subject, to wit: Time Machines: Time Travel in Physics, Metaphysics, and Science Fiction, Time Travel: A Writer’s Guide to the Real Science of Plausible Time Travel, and Time Machine Tales: The Science Fiction Adventures and Philosophical Puzzles of Time Travel. No mere dry academic is he, as he’s also had stories published in genre venues which include Analog, Omni, and Rod Serling’s The Twilight Zone Magazine.
  • Born November 26, 1949 – Victoria Poyser-Lisi, 69, Artist, Illustrator, Teacher, and Fan who was inspired at the 1979 World Fantasy Convention to become a genre artist. She did more than a hundred covers and interior illustrations for fanzines, magazines, and books, and won two of her three Hugo Award nominations for Best Fan Artist. She now works in collaborative children’s book illustration and instructional painting books, and teaches drawing and painting courses in Colorado.
  • Born November 26, 1961 – Steve MacDonald, 57, Musician, Writer, Singer, Filker, and Fan. He served for several years as the Evangelista for the Pegasus Awards (the Filkers’ most prestigious awards, given out by the Ohio Valley Filk Fest), and was responsible for many changes in the award process that led to greater participation among the voting base. In 2001, he attended ten filk conventions around the world and recorded filkers singing “Many Hearts, One Voice”, a song he had composed; the tracks were merged electronically for the WorlDream project to celebrate the new millennium. He has won six Pegasus Awards, for Best Performer, Writer/Composer, Filk Song, Adapted Song, Dorsai Song, and Myth Song. He has been Filk Guest of Honor at numerous conventions, and was inducted into the Filk Hall of Fame in 2006, after which he emigrated to Germany to marry fellow filker Katy Droge, whom he had met eight years before at OVFF.
  • Born November 26, 1966 – Garcelle Beauvais, 52, Actor and Producer born in Haiti, whose first role was in Manhunter, the original adaptation of Thomas Harris’ Red Dragon featuring Hannibal Lector. She has also appeared in Spider-Man: Homecoming, I Know Who Killed Me, and the steampunk Wild Wild West film, had a main role in the cybertech TV series Eyes, and played recurring roles in Grimm and The Magicians.
  • Born November 26, 1973 – Peter Facinelli, 45, Actor, Director, and Producer whose genre appearances include a main role in all of the Twilight movies, the first season of Supergirl, parts in The Scorpion King, The Damned, Angela, and Hollow Man 2, and as the oh-so-creepy villain in Supernova.

(10) TRUMP TREK. Reason’s Jonathan Rauch wastes no subtlety on “How Star Trek Explains Donald Trump”

Sociopaths have haunted fiction since fiction began, and no wonder. Sociopathy is civilization’s greatest challenge. Richard III and Iago; Raskolnikov, Kurtz, Willie Stark, and Humbert Humbert; J.R. Ewing, Frank Underwood, and even HAL 9000. How do we understand the narcissist, the demagogue, the liar, the manipulator, the person without scruples or conscience? The creative imagination can probe dark places that psychology and medicine can’t reach. So I am not being cute when I say that Star Trek is a source of insight into the universe of President Donald Trump.

….In “Mirror, Mirror,” the normal Kirk, realizing he has entered a barbaric parallel world, is able to impersonate a barbarian long enough to save himself and his shipmates. In our own universe, meanwhile, Kirk’s corrupt counterpart cannot fake values like empathy, trust, and fair play, and quickly finds himself locked in the brig. The sociopath may be charismatic, wily, and manipulative, but he lacks the moral depth and imagination to fool people who do not wish to be fooled….

This did not go over well with Reason readers, however, you need to register to read the comments. If you’re not willing, just think of a lot of comments that sound like Tank Marmot wrote them…

(11) FACE THE MUSIC. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] Apropos item (6) (“Negative Feedback”) from the Pixel Scroll of this past Saturday (11/24), Gizmodo brings us news that “Facial Recognition Flags Woman on Bus Ad for ‘Jaywalking’ in China”. A businesswoman whose visage appeared in ads on busses was publicly shamed for jaywalking, before the authorities had to pull an Emily Litella.

China’s surveillance system is becoming increasingly omnipresent, with an estimated 200 million cameras and counting. While this state of existence alone is unsettling, it’s even more troubling that the machines are fucking up even the simplest task.

Last week, the face of Dong Mingzhu—the chairwoman of a leading air conditioner manufacturer in China—was displayed on a giant Billboard-sized screen in Ningbo, a major port city in east China’s Zhejiang province, to publicly shame her for breaking a traffic law. Zhejiang is one of the provinces that last year deployed facial recognition technology that humiliates citizens who jaywalk by putting their photos on massive LED screens. But the cameras didn’t catch Mingzhu jaywalking—they identified a photo of her in a bus ad, South China Morning Post reported.

The error was caught, acknowledged, and corrected and the police were even thanked by Dong Mingzhu’s company (Gree Electric Appliances) “for their hard work” in a blog post. One may be forgiven for wondering if the error would have been caught, acknowledged, or corrected had the citizen offended been of a less lofty station.

(12) CYBER MONDAY. Via KinjaDeals, “ThinkGeek’s Cyber Monday Sale Is a Bonkers 50% Off Sitewide”.

for Cyber Monday, ThinkGeek is taking 50% off sitewide via coupon code DOTCOM. Combined with the lowered free shipping threshold (today you have to spend only $35 pre-discount, rather than the usual $75)

Daniel Dern suggests: “If nothing else, grab a ’Bag of Holding – Con-Survival Edition’here’s an image — It quickly became my favorite day bag, not just for cons but also trade shows and general carrying of stuff during a day.”

(13) ROAR OF SKY. Jana Nyman praises Beth Cato’s trilogy-ending book in “Roar of Sky: A solid conclusion to this magical alternate-history trilogy” at Fantasy Literature. (Beware spoilers.)

…However, I do love everything about the magic system, and Cato’s exploration of geomancy and its potential uses for good and ill is thoughtful and feels sturdy, like it could actually exist. Madam Pele is literally awesome. The sylphs are fun without becoming twee….

(14) MALKA OLDER’S SERIES. Abigail Nussbaum looks over “A Political History of the Future: State Tectonics by Malka Older” for Lawyers, Guns & Money.

The point of the Centennal Cycle books, as I see it, is not to offer a plausible alternative to our current democratic system, but to encourage us to ask questions about how that system is organized, and whether we could make different choices that could lead to better outcomes. The idea of a non-contiguous political entity, for example, one that is united by shared policy preferences rather than ethnic or national identity, is an intriguing one. So is the notion of expanding the concept of political parties past national lines (though on a darker note, it also has its echoes in discussions we’ve had on this site about the trans-national nature of many far-right, supremacist movements). It’s not so much that you’d want to pursue any of these ideas in the real world, as that they provide an interesting thought experiment with which to expand your understanding of what government is and can be.

(15) REFINER’S FIRE. This is a hell of a story from the LA Times coverage of the Northern California fires: “As deadly flames approached, a mother called her daughters to say goodbye”. (Definitely skip the comments on this one.)

This is how I die.

She is standing in the driveway of a sand-colored house — she doesn’t know whose — and the air is choked with smoke.

The sky is a nuclear orange. Wind is hurling embers against her body and into her blond wavy hair.

She has just seen an ambulance melt. Transformers are blowing up around her. Homes are caving in and trees are bowing. Fleeing cars have jammed the roads, and flames dance on both sides of the asphalt….

[Thanks to Alan Baumler, Chip Hitchcock, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Cat Eldridge, Carl Slaughter, Olav Rokne, BravoLimaPoppa3, Mike Kennedy, Frank Catalano, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Kip W.]

Pixel Scroll 11/19/18 It’s Credentials All The Way Down

(1) WHEN VACUUBOT RUNS AMOK. John Scalzi shares the fun – “A Thanksgiving Week Gift for You: ‘Automated Customer Service’”.

To show my appreciation for you, my readers, here’s a short story I wrote to read aloud while I was touring with The Consuming Fire. It’s called “Automated Customer Service,” and it’s what happens when, in the near future, something goes wrong with a household appliance and you have to navigate an automated call system to get help….

…The automated system has detected that you are using high levels of profanity right now. While the automated system is in fact automated and doesn’t care what you yell at it, your bad attitude is being noted for if and when you are put in contact with a human representative. When you have calmed your sassy boots down a bit, press one….

(2) DESTINY UNLOCKED. NPR finds a sentimental story behind this book purchase: “Bookstore’s Tweet On The Sale Of A Children’s Book After 27 Years Goes Viral”.

A bookstore in England sold a children’s biography of William the Conqueror that had been sitting in its shop since 1991.

“I have just sold a book that we have had in stock since May 1991,” the Broadhursts Bookshop tweeted. “We always knew its day would come.”

The store’s tweet about the sale has since gone viral and received thousands of replies. Author Sarah Todd Taylor tweeted in response, “The book held its breath. It had hoped so often, only to have that hope crushed. Hands lifted it from the shelf, wrapped it warmly in paper. As the door closed on its past life, the book heard the soft cheers of its shelfmates.”

(3) ASPIRATIONAL GAMING. For everyone who doesn’t have this tech in their living room: “Game on! Pro video gamers open pop-up play space on Atlantic Ave. in Boerum Hill”Brooklyn Paper has the story.

A team of professional video gamers opened up a pop-up shop on Atlantic Avenue where experienced nerds can pay by the hour to dominate noobs on top-of-the-line gaming equipment, according to the group’s game-player-in-chief.

“We’re offering the opportunity to have a really truly premium gaming experience over here on some of the nicest computers in the world,” said Ben Nichol.

Nichol, who die-hard gamers may recognize for streaming his gaming exploits as Mr. Bitter on Youtube, now spearheads events and business development for pro-gaming squad New York Excelsior, which set up the temporary NYXL play space between Nevins Street and Third Avenue that features 34 top-of-the-line HP Omen gaming desktop computers, which at roughly $3,000 a piece, are each roughly equivalent in value to a well-maintained 2006 Volkswagen Jetta.

(4) TRANS-ATLANTIC FAN FUND. At midnight on November 22 the TAFF nominating period ends. There is still time to declare your candidacy to become the delegate to the Dublin 2019 Worldcon. See the TAFF homepage to learn what you must do to enter the race.

(5) I AM BATWOMAN, HEAR ME ROAR. This year’s CW crossover event in their “Arrowverse” set of shows now has a comic book cover to go along with it (io9/Gizmodo: “The DC/CW Elseworlds Crossover Gets the Mashup Comic Cover It Deserves”). Elseworlds will link up episodes of The FlashArrow, and Supergirl on December 9-11, 2018 and will introduce Batwoman, Lois Lane, and Gotham City to the connected universes. There are minor spoilers (most of all of which have already been shown in the various trailers for Elseworlds) in the io9/Gizmodo article:

As well as depicting Supergirl, Superman (not in his new black suit), Batwoman, and the bodyswapped versions of Green Arrow and Flash, the cover includes LaMonica Garrett lurking in the background as the Monitor, and our first look at Jeremy Davies’ character, Doctor John Deegan, a mysterious figure who works at Arkham Asylum and is apparently the catalyst that brings our heroes together and to Gotham in the first place.

(6) TIME WANTS TO BE FREE. BBC remembers “The clock that cost its inventor millions” (but saved him from Douglas Adams’s scorn) —

One of the world’s first digital clocks, which was made by a man in his shed, has been sold at auction.

Thomas Bromley, an engineer and amateur inventor, created his Digitron Electric Clock in 1961 at his home in Hull.

He held the patent to the design for three years but chose not to renew it – potentially costing him millions of pounds.

(7) TOLKIEN/LEWIS DOCUMENTARY RESUMES PRODUCTION. The documentary film series, A Hobbit, a Wardrobe, and a Great War, explores how the experience of two world wars shaped the lives and literary imagination of two authors and friends, J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis. The series is based on Joseph Loconte’s New York Times bestseller. Photos from the series here — “Truly amazing!”

We have had an amazing start to this 2nd chapter of our production. We hit the ground running from Panavision, London, thanks to their generous donations.  From there we secured an abandoned boarding school in Hastings to create some amazing reenactments.  With today’s early call in Liverpool, we shall get to work, but enjoy these shots from our reenactments.

(8) A FLOP. Whew! You can smell 1963 from here! Galactic Journey’s Traveler calls this new issue of F&SF — “[November 19, 1963] Fuel for the Fire (December 1963 Fantasy and Science Fiction)”.

The once proud golden pages of F&SF have taken a definite turn for the worse under the Executive Editorship of one Avram Davidson.  At last, after two years, we arrive at a new bottom.  Those of you with months remaining on your subscription can look forward to a guaranteed supply of kindling through the winter.

(9) STAN LEE TRIBUTE. At the Smithsonian movie producer and instructor Michael Uslan eulogizes his hero and mentor, whose superheroes taught him countless life lessons — “A Letter to Stan Lee, Comic Book Legend, Written by One of His Biggest Fans”.

What about what you did for me personally in life? …

  • I was 13 when I read in a fanzine that if a fan mailed you a stamped, self-addressed envelope along with a typed interview with space for you to answer after each question, you would respond. I still have that interview with all your hand-written answers. That was the moment you became my mentor, introducing me to the history of Marvel and the comic book industry.

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and JJ.]

  • Born November 19, 1924 – William Russell, 94, Actor from England who played Companion Ian Chesterton to First Doctor William Hartnell in the Doctor Who series from 1963 to 1965; in the 1990s he recorded bridging scenes as that character, to make up for lost episodes in the VHS release of the Who serial “The Crusade”. In 2013, he was portrayed by Jamie Glover in the docudrama Doctor Who: An Adventure in Space and Time; he himself had a cameo role as a security guard. Other genre appearances included a recurring lead role in The Adventures of Sir Lancelot, playing one of the Elders from Krypton in the first two Superman movies and The Duke of Gloucester in an episode of Robin of Sherwood, and a part in the film Death Watch.
  • Born November 19, 1953 – Robert Beltran, 65, Actor of Stage and Screen who is undoubtedly best known to genre fans as Commander Chakotay on Star Trek: Voyager, though some of us remember him from the 1980s cult film Night of the Comet. He also had appearances in The Mystic Warrior, Cry of the Winged Serpent, Shadowhunter, Manticore, and Fire Serpent, and guest roles in episodes of Lois & Clark and Medium, as well as the fan-made web series Star Trek: Renegades and a voice role in the Young Justice animated series. One of his theater roles was playing Oberon in the California Shakespeare Festival’s production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
  • Born November 19, 1954 – Kathleen Quinlan, 64, Actor whose first genre role was in I Never Promised You a Rose Garden; she was nominated for an Oscar for her role as Marilyn Lovell in Apollo 13. She also appeared in Event Horizon, Independence Day, Twilight Zone: The Movie, Breakdown, The Hills Have Eyes, Horns, Warning Sign, and Trapped.
  • Born November 19, 1958 – Charlie Kauffman, 60,  Writer, Director, Producer, and Lyricist known for surreal genre films Being John Malkovich, Adaptation (for which he won a Saturn), and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (for which he won an Oscar). Last year, together with John Lee Hancock and Patrick Ness, he was announced as one of the writers of the upcoming film adaptation of Ness’ Chaos Walking book series, but I see no indication that progress has been made towards it being filmed.
  • Born November 19, 1959 – Allison Janney, 59, Oscar-winning Actor of Stage and Screen whose genre roles include the films Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, Wolf, The Way, Way Back, and the remake of Miracle on 34th Street,  and voice roles in Mr. Peabody & Sherman, Finding Dory, Minions, Over the Hedge, and the upcoming animated reboot of The Addams Family, and in animated TV series including Aliens in the Family, Robot Chicken, and DuckTales.
  • Born November 19, 1962 – Jodie Foster, 56, Oscar-winning Actor, Director, and Producer who played the lead in the Hugo-winning film version of Carl Sagan’s Contact, for which she received a Saturn nomination. She has also received Saturn noms for her roles in horror films The Silence of The Lambs, Flightplan, and Panic Room, and she won a well-deserved Saturn trophy for her early horror role at the age of thirteen in The Little Girl Who Lives Down the Lane. Other roles include Elysium, the recently-released Hotel Artemis, and voice parts in the series The X-Files and the animated Addams Family.
  • Born November 19, 1963 – Terry Farrell, 55, Actor best known to genre fans for her role as Jadzia Dax in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. Film appearances include Hellraiser III, Legion, and Deep Core, and she has had guest roles in The (new) Twilight Zone, Quantum Leap, Red Dwarf, and the fan series Star Trek: Renegades. In the Deep Space Nine crossover episode “Trials and Tribble-ations”, her character gushed over Spock; this year, she married his son, Adam Nimoy.
  • Born November 19, 1973 – Sandrine Holt, 45, Actor from England whose latest genre role is in the TV series The Crossing, in which refugees from the future seek asylum in the present. Prior to that, her extensive genre resume includes guest parts in the most recent run of The X-Files, Witchblade, The (new) Outer Limits, Mutant X, The Phantom, Sanctuary, Fear the Walking Dead, The Returned, The Listener, Damien, Friday the 13th: The Series, Poltergeist: The Legacy, and Mr. Robot. Film appearances include Terminator Genisys, Starship Troopers 2, Underworld: Awakening, Fire Serpent, Resident Evil: Apocalypse, and Ballistic: Ecks vs. Sever.

(11) THE WINNING CRATER IS… Tech Crunch pays attention as “NASA chooses the landing site for its Mars 2020 rover mission”.

“The landing site in Jezero Crater offers geologically rich terrain, with landforms reaching as far back as 3.6 billion years old, that could potentially answer important questions in planetary evolution and astrobiology,” said Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate, in a statement. “Getting samples from this unique area will revolutionize how we think about Mars and its ability to harbor life.”

The crater is located on the western edge of Isidis Planitia, a giant impact basin just north of the Martian equator, with some of the oldest and most scientifically interesting landscapes Mars has to offer, according to NASA scientists.

(12) INVENTIONS OF THE YEAR. Popular Mechanics put together a list of the most impactful inventions; 1 per year (“65 Best Inventions of the Past 65 Years”). “Since the list starts in 1954, PM has declared that Nothing Interesting Happened Here™ in  or before my birth year, should that make me #Sad?” asks Mike Kennedy.

1954: Microwave Oven

1955: Polio Vaccine

1956: (Computer) Hard Drive

1957: Birth Control Pill

1958: Jet Airliner

etc.

(13) BUGS, MR. RICO! Since “These 4,000-Year-Old Termite Mounds Can Be Seen From Space” you can assume aliens flying wooden spaceships will be landing somewhere else…

Scientists have discovered an immense grouping of freakishly large termite mounds in northeastern Brazil. Obscured by trees, the previously undetected array occupies a space equal to the size of Great Britain.

As described in a new paper published today in Current Biology, the regularly spaced termite mounds date back nearly 4,000 years and cover an astounding 230,000 square kilometers…

(14) IS DNA DESTINY? The Hollywood Reporter rings up another Netflix genre show: “Netflix Orders Sci-Fi Series ‘The One’ from ‘Misfits’ Creator”.

The streaming giant has picked up 10 episodes of the show from Urban Myth Films and StudioCanal. The series is based on a novel by John Marrs.

The series is set “five minutes in the future” in a world where a DNA test can reveal a person’s perfect partner — the one you’re genetically predisposed to fall passionately in love with. But it also raises other questions: Who hasn’t thought about whether there is someone better out there? What if a hair sample is all it takes to find them? The idea is simple, but the implications are explosive.

(15) MAGICIANS SEASON 4. The Magicians returns with all new episodes on January 23 on SYFY.

Based upon Lev Grossman’s best-selling books, The Magicians centers around Brakebills University, a secret institution specializing in magic. There, amidst an unorthodox education of spellcasting, a group of twenty-something friends soon discover that a magical fantasy world they read about as children is all too real— and poses grave danger to humanity.

 

(16) OMG IT’S THE ENTERPRISE! [Item by Mike Kennedy.] Somewhere out there in space an odd thing is happening. An image of Star Trek’s USS Enterprise, writ much, much larger than the fictional ship, has been found ( NASA: “Abell 1033: To Boldly Go into Colliding Galaxy Clusters”). A composite image using X-ray, low-frequency radio wave, and optical data is a somewhat distorted but nonetheless recognizable depiction of the Enterprise. From the NASA press release:

Galaxy clusters — cosmic structures containing hundreds or even thousands of galaxies — are the largest objects in the Universe held together by gravity. Multi-million-degree gas fills the space in between the individual galaxies. The mass of the hot gas is about six times greater than that of all the galaxies combined. This superheated gas is invisible to optical telescopes, but shines brightly in X-rays, so an X-ray telescope like NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory is required to study it.

By combining X-rays with other types of light, such as radio waves, a more complete picture of these important cosmic objects can be obtained. A new composite image of the galaxy cluster Abell 1033, including X-rays from Chandra (purple) and radio emission from the Low-Frequency Array (LOFAR) network in the Netherlands (blue), does just that. Optical emission from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey is also shown. The galaxy cluster is located about 1.6 billion light years from Earth.

(17) SHIT LIT. Upon reading Gizmodo’s report “We Finally Know How Wombats Produce Their Distinctly Cube-Shaped Poop”, Daniel Dern immediately recognized the potential sff reference to be made —

Which, of course, to us Olde Phartz, immediately calls to mind what story?

N Znegvna Bqlffrl, ol Fgnayrl T. Jrvaonhz, of course!

Text of story available at Project Gutenberg.

(18) NO QUESTION ABOUT IT. What subliminal advertising is at work here?

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

Scouting Ahead: The Doom Patrol

By Daniel Dern: Catch a non-sneak peek at live-action The Doom Patrol, in DC Universe’s Titans Episode 4!

I’m still working on a more general review of DC’s new ~$7/month online streaming DC Universe — but right now, if you’re a DC fan, you want to know that while the live-action Doom Patrol show won’t start until mid-2019, Episode 4 of DC’s live-action Titans, which started dropping its weekly episodes in early October, includes ten-to-fifteen minutes of Doom Patrol — Cliff Steele aka Robotman, Larry Trainor aka Negative Man, Rita Farr aka Elastigirl, and Gar Logan aka Beast Boy (who, by the end of this episode, leaves the DP to be with the not-yet-a-group Titans), Dick Grayson (Robin), Cory Anders (Starfire), and Rachel Roth (Raven).

Titans itself is pretty grim’n’dark. The Doom Patrol, at least in their guest-starring roles, is much more of a broody-but-fun bunch — think a somewhat more chipper DeadPool. Don’t take my word for it, enjoy these (somewhat overlapping) video clips — the scene of Larry Trainor cooking up a storm — including a Robotman-shaped stack of onion rings — is a hoot.

Raven meets Doom Patrol Members Scene

My Dinner With The Doom Patrol

Origin of Doom Patrol Team

Dick [Grayson = Robin] and Starfire Meet Doom Patrol!

Beast Boy leaves Doom Patrol and joins Titans team

To learn more, see the Flash Season 5 Crossover – Titans Doom Patrol Origin Scene Explained (a few minutes of episode clips, plus backstory, info on this season’s upcoming “ArrowVerse” crossover):

and, via io9.com“The Doom Patrol’s Titans Debut Promises Horrifying Things for Their Upcoming Series”.

Pixel Scroll 11/5/18 Pixeltopia By James Scrolley

(1) VISIONS OF WFC 44. Ellen Datlow’s photos from World Fantasy Con 2018 are up on Flickr.

(2) DESIGNING WAKANDA. Black Panther designer Hannah Beachler spoke to the CityLab Detroit conference about what went into designing the capital city of Wakanda for the blockbuster movie. Social responsibility and connection to culture were critical in her designs of everything from street plans to public transit — “The Social Responsibility of Wakanda’s Golden City” at CityLab.

… It took ten months and 500 pages to design Golden City, the thriving Afrofuturist capital of Wakanda. The result is a stunning, complex metropolis that has delighted urbanist nerds and city-dwellers alike. Behind it all is Beachler, a production designer whose job is to act as “cinematic architect” and to create the “landscape of a story.”

…“You know what’s keeping us together: the connectivity of people, not the connectivity of users. We’re not users; we’re people, but we’ve convinced ourselves that we’re users,” she said. “So I took all of that, and I just chucked it out of Wakanda, because the people were the most important thing about it, and we’re forgetting it. And I think that’s why people responded to Wakanda on this massive level: people.”

(3) BOOK BUCKET BRIGADE. “A Store Had to Move Thousands of Books. So a Human Chain Was Formed” – the New York Times has the story:

The plea went out a few weeks ago from the bookstore in a port city in southern England: “Care to lend a hand?”

Volunteers were needed for “heavy manual work” in shifts. It was “essential” that they be able to lift and carry boxes and office supplies. Among the supplies: thousands upon thousands of books.

The appeal from October Books, a nonprofit that began 40 years ago as a “radical” bookshop, came after a rent increase forced it from its old home in Southampton, Jess Haynes, a member of the collective and one of the few paid employees, said on Wednesday.

The shop was looking to move lock, stock and barrel about 150 meters (just under 500 feet) to a three-story building that used to house a bank. Would anybody respond to the call for help?

This past Sunday, the bookstore got more than a helping hand — it got hundreds. A human chain began forming from the old October Books stockroom, snaking past 54 doors to the new building. The shop stopped counting after about 250 people showed up…

(4) GLASS UNIVERSE. Dava Sobel, the author of Longitude and Galileo’s Daughter, will be talking about her latest book The Glass Universe in the Johns Hopkins University/Applied Physics Laboratory (in Laurel, Maryland) on Friday, November 9 at 2 p.m. This talk is open to the public held at the Parsons auditorium (directions here). A summary of the talk is below (taken from this link):

Edward Pickering, who took over as director of the Harvard College Observatory in 1877, was a physicist, not an astronomer. Pickering quickly moved to expand activities beyond determining the positions of stars and the orbits of asteroids, moons, and comets. He invented new instruments for studying stellar brightness to help quantify the changes in variable stars. He introduced photography as a boon to celestial mapping and a key to characterizing the spectra of stars. The images that Pickering began amassing on glass plates in the late 19th century came to number in the hundreds of thousands and are currently being digitized to preserve their enduring value. Their abundance of pictures necessitated a special building to house them and a large team of assistants – nearly all women – to analyze them.

Pickering’s glass universe gave these women the means to make discoveries that still resonate today. Williamina Fleming, Antonia Maury, Henrietta Swan Leavitt, Annie Jump Cannon, and Cecilia Payne Gaposchkin, the most famous members of the group, all played a part in the early development of astrophysics.

(5) BABY. Heath Miller and Cat Valente share their parental discoveries:

(6) OPIE’S SPACE PROGRAM. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] At the Beeb (no, not this one), Science Editor Paul Rincon talked to Ron Howard, who was wearing his Executive Producer hat for the National Geographic series, Mars (Ron Howard: Creating vision of a future Mars colony). Season 2 begins 11 November.

“When I first began the series a couple of years ago, I thought it was a great idea to do an adventure about going to Mars and we should make it as real as we possibly could,” Mr Howard says.

“But I wasn’t sure I believed in the idea of going to Mars. I knew I believed in the idea of space exploration… and any show that advocated that was making a statement that was healthy and positive for human beings – to inspire their imaginations to look outward.

“But as I have gone through the process of working on the show and interviewing some of the big thinkers, I now really do believe in it strategically – I don’t mean that from a military standpoint, I mean it from the point of the ongoing evolution of the human species… I not only believe it’s viable, I’m a big supporter.”

Season one of Mars followed the crew of the spacecraft Daedalus, as the astronauts attempted to create a pioneer settlement on the Red Planet in 2033. Season two is set nine years later and follows the fortunes of the first fully-fledged colony. The script tackles the everyday challenges of the settlers, including the first births on the Red Planet, outbreaks of disease and mechanical breakdowns.

(7) ARMSTRONG AUCTION RESULTS. NBC News totes up the results: “Neil Armstrong memorabilia fetches $7.5 million at auction”.

Dallas-based Heritage Auctions says the item that sold for the highest price, $468,500, at Saturday’s auction was Armstrong’s spacecraft ID plate from Apollo 11’s lunar module Eagle. Also sold were a fragment from the propeller and a section of the wing from the Wright brothers’ Flyer, the first heavier-than-air self-powered aircraft, which each sold for $275,000.

The flight suit Armstrong wore aboard Gemini 8, the 1966 mission that performed the first docking of two spacecraft in flight, brought the astronaut’s family $109,375.

(a) In a separate auction, a gold-colored Navy aviator’s helmet once owned by John Glenn, the first American to orbit the earth, sold for $46,250.

(b) It appears there were some flown artifacts in the Armstrong auction (but not the Glenn auction)

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and JJ.]

  • Born November 5, 1903 – H. Warner Munn, Writer and Poet known in genre for his early stories in Weird Tales in the 20s and 30s, his Atlantean/Arthurian fantasy saga, and his later stories about The Werewolf Clan. After making two mistakes in his first published genre story, he compensated by becoming a meticulous researcher and intricate plotter. His work became popular again in the 70s after Donald Wollheim and Lin Carter sought him out to write sequels to the first novel in his Merlin’s Godson series, which had been serialized in Weird Tales in 1939, and they published those novels as part of their Ballantine and Del Rey adult fantasy lines. The third novel in the series received World Fantasy and Mythopoeic Award nominations, he himself was nominated three times for the World Fantasy Award for Life Achievement, and he was Guest of Honor at the 1978 World Fantasy Convention. He won the Balrog Award for Poet twice in the 80s, and received the Clark Ashton Smith Award for Poetry.
  • Born November 5, 1938 – James Steranko, 80, Artist, Illustrator, Writer, Publisher, and Magician who is noted for his work in the comic book and graphic novel industry. His breakthough was the Nick Fury, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. feature in Marvel Comics’ Strange Tales, and the subsequent series, in the 60s. His design sensibility would become widespread within and without the comics industry, affecting even Raiders of the Lost Ark and Bram Stoker’s Dracula, for which he created conceptual art and character designs. He also produced several dozen covers and illustrations for genre novels and anthologies in the 60s and 70s. His two-volume history of the birth and early years of comic books established him as a historian of the field. He received and Inkpot Award and Dragon Con’s Julie Award, and was inducted into the Will Eisner Comic Book Hall of Fame in 2006.
  • Born November 5, 1940 – Butch Honeck, 78, Sculptor and Fan who learned mechanics, welding, machining, and metal finishing as a teenager, then went on to build a foundry and teach himself to cast bronze so he could create shapes that were too complex for welding. His bronze fantasy sculptures, which depict dragons, mythical creatures, wizards, and other fantasy-oriented themes, use the lost wax method with ceramic shell molds and are characterized by intricate details, mechanical components, humor, and surprise. He has been Artist Guest of Honor at several conventions, was named to Archon’s Hall of Fame, and won a Chesley Award for Best Three-Dimensional Art.
  • Born November 5, 1942 – Frank Gasperik, Writer, Filker, and Fan who was a close friend to Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle. He was Tuckerized as a character in several novels, including in Lucifer’s Hammer as Mark Czescu, in Footfall as Harry Reddington (aka Hairy Red), and in Fallen Angels. His own genre writing in collaboration with filker Leslie Fish resulted in a novella in Pournelle’s Co-Dominium universe, and an unfinished work which Fish completed for him after his death, at John F. Carr’s request. He was a well-known filker in that community; here he is doing “The Green Hills of Earth”. He died in 2007.
  • Born November 5, 1944 – Carole Nelson Douglas, 74, Writer and Editor who has produced a fantasy series and several genre series which are mysteries with a supernatural twist, including one which showcases Arthur Conan Doyle’s minor Sherlockian character Irene Adler as a brilliant investigator. But I’m here to pitch to you her SJW credential series instead (and dissenters can now go elsewhere) in the form of her Midnight Louie series, which was inspired by a classified ad seeking an adoptive home for a big black cat. Each novel is told in part from the point of view of Midnight Louie; the cat himself speaks in a style which some say is like that of a Damon Runyon character. Great dearies, lovely premise.
  • Born November 5, 1958 – Robert Patrick, 60, Actor and Producer best known in genre as FBI Special Agent John Doggett in The X-Files series, as the T-1000, the main adversary of Terminator 2: Judgment Day, and a main role in the alien abduction movie Fire in the Sky  –  all of which netted him Saturn nominations. He has had a main role in the TV series Scorpion, and recurring roles in True Blood and From Dusk till Dawn. He has also appeared in a lengthy list of genre movies, including The Last Action Hero, Asylum, Future Hunters, Warlords from Hell, Alien Trespass, and Double Dragon, and episodes of Stargate: Atlantis, Lost, Tales from the Crypt, and The (new) Outer Limits.
  • Born November 5, 1960 – Tilda Swinton, 58, Oscar-winning Actor who is well-known to genre fans as the evil White Witch in the Chronicles of Narnia films, for which she received a Saturn nomination; roles in the films The Curious Case of Benjamin Button and Doctor Strange won her Saturn trophies. She played the long-lived main character in Orlando, computing pioneer Ada Lovelace in the film Conceiving Ada, and had parts in Constantine, Snowpiercer, The Zero Theorem, and the upcoming zombie comedy The Dead Don’t Die.
  • Born November 5, 1964 – Famke Janssen, 54, Actor who started out as a fashion model, and then had an acting career breakthrough as an unknown in an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation. This was followed quickly by appearances in genre films Lord of Illusions, Deep Rising, and House on Haunted Hill, then her 15-year genre role as Jean Grey / Phoenix in the numerous X-Men films, for which she won a Saturn Award. Since then, she has had main roles in the horror series Hemlock Grove and the supernatural social media film Status Update.
  • Born November 5, 1968 – Sam Rockwell, 50, Oscar-winning Actor who is probably best known as !Spoiler alert! (just kidding) Guy Fleegman, a redshirt in the Star Trek homage Galaxy Quest, whose character initially simply exists for comic relief but transcends that casting by the end of the Hugo-winning film. He also played Zaphod Beeblebrox in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, had parts in The Green Mile, Iron Man 2, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and Cowboys & Aliens, and voice a lead role as a guinea pig in the animated Disney film G-Force.

(9) COMICS SECTION.

  • Off the Mark cleverly juxtaposes James Bond and Poe to trigger this punchline.

(10) MALIBU TREK. Deadline found a home on the market with some celebrity history in its own right: “‘Star Trek: The Next Generation’ Home For Sale In Malibu, Part Of ‘The Survivors’ Episode”.

(a) House is listed for $5.695 million

(b) This appears to be the listing — https://www.coldwellbankerhomes.com/ca/malibu/27553-pacific-coast-hwy/pid_27011186/

(c) A photo from that listing is:

(11) LOOKING FOR THE GOLDEN AGE. David M. Barnett (@davidmbarnett) of the UK-based Independent newspaper uses Alec Nevala-Lee’s Astounding as a jumping-off point to explore the ongoing diversification of science fiction authorship and audiences. In “Out of this world: The rise and fall of Planet Sci-fi’s ‘competent man’” he offers a perspective on John W. Campbell’s legacy, both negative and positive, and puts recent events in science fiction fandom in context for a popular audience. Registration required.

Campbell was what he was, and he did what he did. He didn’t create science fiction, nor did he own it. It was an important period in history, but one that has passed. Science fiction today is new and wondrous and inclusive, and perhaps, in years to come, historians will be referring to this, not the Campbell era, as the true Golden Age.

(12) APOCALYPSE TUESDAY. The Rumpus says this is “What to Read When the World Is Ending”. A few sff works made the list.

…The above cataloguing of recent atrocities isn’t exhaustive. If the world isn’t truly ending, it’s certainly in the midst of several significant crisis. And in moments of crises, we at The Rumpus find solace in, and draw strength from, literature. Below is a list of books our editors think are especially appropriate to read right now, in this fraught political moment….

Who Fears Death by Nnedi Okrafor
In a post-apocalyptic Africa, the world has changed in many ways; yet in one region genocide between tribes still bloodies the land. A woman who has survived the annihilation of her village and a terrible rape by an enemy general wanders into the desert, hoping to die. Instead, she gives birth to an angry baby girl with hair and skin the color of sand. Gripped by the certainty that her daughter is different—special—she names her Onyesonwu, which means “Who fears death?” in an ancient language. Even as a child, Onye manifests the beginnings of a remarkable and unique magic. As she grows, so do her abilities, and during an inadvertent visit to the spirit realm, she learns something terrifying: someone powerful is trying to kill her.

(13) ARE YOU TRACKING WITH ME? There will be a Traincon to the 2019 NASFiC / Westercon / 1632 Minicon happening in Layton, UT next July. Well, two Traincons might be more accurate, since organizers want to have one running to the con from Chicago and another from the San Francisco Bay Area (and return). More information at the link.

Join your fellow fans on Amtrak for the trip to Spikecon and then back home. We’ll have fun on the train, getting together periodically to discuss SF, the con, or anything that comes to mind. Games and filk, too, if anyone is so inclined – all with old friends and new. While you’re at it, don’t forget to enjoy the beautiful scenery. The train from the Bay Area (Traincon West) crosses the Sierra Nevada, the one from Chicago (Traincon East) crosses the spectacular Rockies, both in full daylight.

There will be no group reservation for this Traincon; members will need to make their own individual Amtrak reservations; early reservations are recommended for the best prices…..

The organizers are Bill Thomasson and Nancy Alegria.

(14) HOTEL WATCHING IN NZ. The Comfort Hotel in Wellington (venue for some recent NZ NatCon’s and about a km from WorldCon venues) will be renamed and refurbished.

Renovations for the 115-room Comfort Hotel will begin after March 2019 with expected completion at the end of that year, for rebranding as Naumi Heritage Wellington.

The Quality Hotel renovations will also be completed about the same time, and be rebranded as Naumi Suites Wellington with 62 rooms.

…The theme of the hotel refurbishments in Wellington will be “romantic Edwardian age meets literary bohemian”, according to a Naumi media statement – “a space that embraces diversity and steadfastly refuses to be boring”.

(15) LOVE OFF THE CLOCK. SYFY Wire’s “FanGrrls” columnist Alyssa Fiske extols “The appeal of the time-travel romance”:

While some may accuse the genre of being formulaic (fools), romance does indeed have some of the greatest tropes of any kind of story. Enemies to lovers, fake dating becoming real, the good old “oh no there’s only one bed in this hotel room I guess we have to share,” all of these tropes are at once familiar and thrilling. The building blocks may be the same, but each swoony outcome has its own sense of magic.

In particular, time travel and other time-related complications pop up again and again. Whether they’re communicating via time bending mailbox (The Lake House), kept apart by centuries as a plastic centurion (Doctor Who), or powered by genetic anomalies both charming (About Time) and devastating (The Time Traveler’s Wife), this obstacle has long been a popular stalwart in the romantic canon.

(16) GHOST MOONS. NBC News goes for the clicks with its headline “‘Ghost moons’ discovered in orbit around Earth”. These are patches of “dust” at the Earth-Moon L4 & L5 (Lagrange) points

Astronomers in Hungary say they’ve detected a pair of what some call “ghost moons” orbiting our planet not far from the moon we all know.

The hazy clouds of dust — tens of thousands of miles across but too faint to be seen with the naked eye — were first detected almost 60 years ago by a Polish astronomer, Kazimierz Kordylewski. But the patches of light he found were too indistinct to convince some scientists that the clouds were really there, and the existence of the “Kordylewski clouds” has long been a matter of controversy.

Now the astronomers, Gabor Horvath and Judit Sliz-Balogh of Eötvös Loránd University in Budapest, have obtained clear evidence of the clouds using a specially equipped telescope in a private observatory in western Hungary.

(17) MORE IMPORTANT — IRON OUTSIDE OR IRON INSIDE? [Item by Mike Kennedy.] At the A.V. Club, Tom Breihan is considering “the most important superhero movie of every year” in a series entitled “Age of Heroes.” Breihan is up to 2008 and asks, “Does the most important year for superhero movies belong to The Dark Knight or Iron Man?

Midway through Christopher Nolan’s 2008 movie The Dark Knight, the Joker gets himself arrested so that he can then break out of his holding cell and continue his grand experiment in human darkness. While he’s locked up, he’s placed in the custody of the Major Crimes Unit, the police force that’s supposedly been devoted to locking up Batman. In the movie, people keep referring to the Major Crimes Unit as the MCU. As in: “There’s a problem at the MCU!” Watching it today, you might hurt your neck doing double-takes at those initials every time. The Dark Knight, as it happens, came out at the last moment that “MCU” could possibly refer to anything related to Batman.

Today, of course, we know the MCU as the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the steamrolling blockbuster-generating engine that has become the dominant commercial force in all of moviemaking. It was never a given that the Marvel Cinematic Universe would work. By the time the people at Marvel got around to establishing their own movie studio, they’d already sold off the rights to many of their most-famous characters: Spider-Man, the X-Men, the Fantastic Four. Only the relative dregs were left over, and nobody knew whether a relatively minor character like Iron Man could anchor a whole movie, let alone a franchise. It was a gamble.

It was a gamble, too, to cast Robert Downey Jr., a faded star who’d spent years battling his personal demons. […]

Breihan lavishes much praise on Iron Man and notes how well it set up much of the Marvel Cinematic Universe that followed, but in the end he picks The Dark Knight as the more important movie. His reasoning may surprise you and you may or may not agree with it. In part, he say:

[…] The Dark Knight made money, too; it was the highest-grossing movie of 2008. But it didn’t just make money. It was, in its moment, widely hailed as something resembling a masterpiece. When, for instance, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts And Sciences failed to nominate The Dark Knight for a Best Picture Oscar, there was such a wide public outcry that the Academy changed its roles to allow for more nominees. That is an impact.

It should probably be noted that Breihan doesn’t believe The Dark Knight actually was a masterpiece, but that doesn’t diminish the impact such a perception may have had in the moment. Some of Breihan’s highest praise goes to Heath Ledger’s performance (sadly, his last) as the Joker.

[…] Ledger is legitimately disgusting: dirty and scarred-up, with yellow teeth and a tongue that’s constantly darting in and out of his mouth, like a lizard’s. But he’s magnetic, too. He tells different stories about his scars, just so we’ll know that he’s always lying. He confounds criminals as badly as he does police. He dances his way through a hospital explosion and intimidates a roomful of mob bosses. His voice—the best description I can manage is a tweaked-out Richard Nixon impression—is chilling and alien. And he seems to be in love with Batman in ways that make even Batman uncomfortable: “Don’t talk like you’re one of them. You’re not.”

Besides Iron Man and The Dark Knight, Breihan devotes a fat paragraph to a handful of other superhero movies from 2008, plus a sentence or two to several others. Finally, he promises a look at 2009’s Watchmen in the next Age of Heroes installment.

(18) GAIMAN’S SANDMAN. NPR’s Etelka Lehoczky on a new printing of Neil Gaiman’s Preludes and Nocturnes: “Enter ‘Sandman’: Anniversary Edition Celebrates 30 Years Of Dream-Spinning”.

When Neil Gaiman first envisioned the Sandman, the supernatural dream lord he created 30 years ago, he thought about prison. “Before I even knew who he was,” Gaiman writes in the afterword to The Sandman Vol. 1: Preludes and Nocturnes, he had the image of “a man, young, pale and naked, imprisoned in a tiny cell, waiting until his captors passed away, willing to wait until the room he was in crumbled to dust.”

Dreams and imprisonment? It’s not a connection most would make. True, dreams are just about the only thing a prisoner has of his own, but it seems odd to imagine the bringer of dreams himself trapped in a cell. As so often happens with Gaiman, though, meditating upon one of his intuitions leads you to a whole new way of thinking

(19) TUNING UP DEADPOOL. Daniel Dern recommends “Deadpool The Musical 2 – Ultimate Disney Parody!”. “The songs aren’t the best… but, among other things, it’s arguably one of the best representations of the X-Men (about halfway in), and many of the Avengers. And the last minute or two is great.”

[Thanks to Chip Hitchcock, Cat Eldridge, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Olav Rokne, Errolwi, Martin Morse Wooster, Mike Kennedy, Carl Slaughter, Michael J. Walsh, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Soon Lee.]