Pixel Scroll 8/11/21 Only Trust Your Scrolls, Pixels Will Never Help You

(1) F&SF COVER REVEAL. The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction’s Sept/Oct 2021 cover art, “Jupiter in Half-Phase, Seen from Io,” is by David A. Hardy.

(2) THE RACCOON AERONAUTICS AND SPACE ADMINISTRATION. Brandiose is a successful creator of logos for minor league sports teams, notably Huntsville’s Rocket City Trash Pandas.

The name Trash Pandas perfectly embodies the dichotomy of the region. A place with a contemporary, optimistic, fresh energy that retains its country flavor.

We wanted to present the Trash Panda racoon as the clever, intelligent creature that it is. It was important to show that this character was less of a “banjos on the porch” type figure and more of a “this guy engineered a rocket ship out of NASA’s trash” kind of critter. 

We loved the idea that the raccoons have their own rocket engineering facility in the woods, next door to their human engineering counterparts. In their dwelling, the raccoons use the human’s discarded rocket junk to construct their own version of NASA (or RASA – Raccoon Aeronautics and Space Administration).

See more examples of their work and read the stories behind them at the link. The New York Times also ran an article about them: “Sod Poodles, Yard Goats and Trash Pandas, Oh My”.

(3) WHAT-IF ORIGINS. [Item by Daniel Dern.] Having been reading long enough to (vaguely) remember the first what-if/imaginary tales (as in, not part of continuity and/or canon), like Superman asking his Fortress of Solitude’s superdupercomputer “what if Krypton hadn’t exploded,” etc… and, Bog knows why, taking those visualizations as, ahem, gospel, versus, “yeah, coulda gone that way”, ult(cough)imately leading to (some of) these stories becoming canonized parallelisms (I’m talking about you, Marvel Ultimate)… and (while I also fault DC in many cases) I’m not moved/interested by/in many of Marvel’s What If’s, well, there’s one particular issue that remains dear to my heart — What If #11, What If The Original Marvel Bullpen Had Become The Fantastic Four?, written and penciled by Jack Kirby!

“[What if] four members of the original Marvel Bullpen were turned into real-life versions of the Fantastic Four: Stan Lee as Mister Fantastic, Sol Brodsky as the Human Torch, Jack Kirby as the Thing, and Flo Steinberg as the Invisible Girl.”

I’ve still got my copy in one of my “do not sell” boxes.

This is (also) among my favorites of “real world people guesting/in comic stories” (I’m also fond of Don Rickles’ appearances in Kirby’s first New Gods stories/plotlines in Jimmy Olsen; ditto Saturday Night Live’s Not-Ready-For-Prime-Time-Players teaming up with Spiderman in Marvel Team-Up #74.) (No, I don’t remember/know the deets, I’m looking ’em up as I go.) (And then there was the Groucho Marx-y character in a Howard the Duck annual…)

Filers can read and enjoy this Kirby masterpiece! It’s on Marvel’s streaming comic service… also in collected-in-book form, in What If? Classic: The Complete Collection Vol. 1 available from bookstores, (free from) libraries and e-free (on HooplaDigital.com ). And perhaps from a nearby friend.

(4) THE NEXT GREAT SFF AWARD. I commented on Camestros Felapton’s blog about the almost nonexistent window between when the Dragon Award ballot is released and the close of voting, and how many novels are finalists, making the award ultimately for the most popular book nobody has read or plans to read before they vote.

Greg Hullender found in that the seed of a great idea:

Hey, that’s a category we’re sorely lacking: most popular unread book. “Looking through your mountain of unread books, which one do you feel most guilty for not having read yet?”

It could have several categories:

Most Popular Unread Book That I Think is SF.

Most Popular Unread Book That I Think is Fantasy.

Most Popular Unread Book That I Suspect Might Not Be Genre.

Most Popular Unread Book That I Bought Mostly for the Cover.

Most Popular Unread Book That I Can’t Remember Why I Bought It.

What would be a good name for these awards? The Tsundoku Awards is too obvious a name. But obviously the prize for winning in a category should be a new book.

(5) AC/DC. “Robin, Batman’s Sidekick, Comes Out As Bisexual” – here’s a transcript of NPR’s discussion on Morning Edition.

DEBBIE ELLIOTT, HOST:

After 80 years, Batman’s trusted sidekick finally had his coming-out moment. In the latest comic, Robin – his real name is Tim Drake – accepts a male friend’s offer to go on a date. Many fans of the character have been looking forward to this.

MEGHAN FITZMARTIN: Tim’s struggle with identity – he knows who he is when it comes to vigilantism. But this was a space where it felt the most correct. This was the next moment for him.

NOEL KING, HOST:

That’s Meghan Fitzmartin. She’s the writer for this series of DC Comics.

FITZMARTIN: The significance, I think, has been others seeing themselves in the character and feeling seen and cared for in a way that speaks to something that they’ve seen for a long time.

KING: Robin made his first appearance back in 1940. And he’s not the first comic book superhero to come out as queer, but he is by far the most high-profile one.

GLEN WELDON, BYLINE: People like Northstar, Batwoman, Harley Quinn, Poison Ivy, Iceman, Apollo, Midnighter. But you notice something about all those names. They’re not necessarily household names….

(6) YOUR TAX QUATLOOS AT WORK. James Davis Nicoll probably didn’t have an easy time finding “Five Sympathetic Science Fiction Bureaucrats”.

Fictional bureaucrats often serve as convenient hate sinks, providing the author with characters whose occupation is generally considered fair game for scorn. Obstructive bureaucrats abound in fiction, perhaps because they are not infrequently encountered in real life. But not all writers settle for such easy targets. Indeed, some writers have gone so far as to make a bureaucrat or two into sympathetic figures.

Don’t believe me? Consider these five….

Aiah from Metropolitan by Walter Jon Williams (1995)

Aiah is a low-level functionary in Jaspeer’s Plasm Authority. Roughly speaking, she works for this world’s electric company, plasm being geomantic energy. Hardly a position to command respect, save when one considers that Aiah is a member of a despised ethnicity, the Barkazil. Convincing her coworkers to trust her with even minimal responsibility is a victory of sorts.

Fate hands Aiah a treasure in plasm. In another person’s hands, this would be the first step towards the sort of Simple Plan that ends with the protagonists as dead as a Coen Brothers’ criminal. Aiah, however, is not just hardworking and ambitious. She is cunning as well, which means not only will she leap on the chance to escape her circumstances, and not only can she find someone willing to assist her with her windfall—she has every chance of surviving the transaction.

(7) CONDENSED CREAM OF MFA. Lincoln Michel puts “Everything I’ve Learned about Being a ‘Professional’ Writer in One Post” at Counter Craft.

Last week there was a bizarrely contentious Twitter debate about whether MFA programs should offer professional advice to students or whether it should be a sacred space for art without the messiness of business. I won’t wade into all the threads, but I’m firmly on the side of publishing demystification. I always dedicate part of my MFA courses to answering student questions about submissions, agents, etc. Perhaps this is because I had to figure all of this out myself while so many writers around me seemed to have been passed all this knowledge in secret. I don’t mean that I’m not privileged, but just I didn’t have any family publishing connections or professional mentors or even know any authors growing up. I wish I’d gotten more of a professional education, from banal things like freelance taxes to general advice like how willing you have to be to promote your own work—did you know I have a SF novel called The Body Scout publishing on 09/21 that you can preorder today???—and so I figured I’d just write down everything I’ve learned here in the hope it helps someone else….

(8) MEMORY LANE.

  • 2010 – Eleven years ago at Aussiecon 4 where Garth Nix was the Toastmaster, China Miéville won the Hugo for Best Novel for The City & The City. It shared this honor with The Windup Girl by Paolo Bacigalupi.  It was published by Del Rey / Ballantine in hardcover the previous year. Other nominated works that year were Cherie Priest‘s Boneshaker, Robert J. Sawyer‘s Wake, Robert Charles Wilson‘s Julian Comstock: A Story of 22nd-Century America and Catherynne M. Valente‘s Palimpsest. It would win an amazing number of other awards including the Arthur C. Clarke Award, a BSFA, the John W. Campbell Memorial Award, a Kitschie (Red Tentacle) Award, a Locus for Best Fantasy Novel and a National Fantasy Fan Federation Speculative Fiction Award (Neffie). It would be nominated for, but not win, a Nebula. 

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born August 11, 1902 Jack Binder. Thrilling Wonder Stories in their October 1938 issue published his article, “If Science Reached the Earth’s Core”, where the first known use of the phrase “zero gravity” is known to happen.  In the early Forties, he was an artist for Fawcett, Lev Gleason, and Timely Comics.  During these years, he created the Golden Age character Daredevil which is not the Marvel Daredevil though he did work with Stan Lee where they co-created The Destroyer at Timely Comics. (Died 1986.)
  • Born August 11, 1932 Chester Anderson. New Wave novelist and poet. He wrote The Butterfly Kid, the first part of the Greenwich Village trilogy. It was nominated for a Hugo Award at Baycon. He wrote one other genre novel, Ten Years to Doomsday, with Michael Kurland. Not even genre adjacent, but he edited a few issues Crawdaddy! in the late Sixties. (Died 1991.)
  • Born August 11, 1959 Alan Rodgers. Author of Bone Music, a truly great take off the Robert Johnson myth. His “The Boy Who Came Back From the Dead” novelette won the Bram Stoker Award for Best Long Fiction, and was nominated for a World Fantasy Award, and he was editor of Night Cry in the mid Eighties. Bone Music is the only work available from the usual suspects. (Died 2014.)
  • Born August 11, 1961 Susan M. Garrett. She was a well known and much liked writer, editor and publisher in many fandoms, but especially the Forever Knight community. (She also was active in Doctor Who and The Secret Adventures of Jules Verne fandoms. And no, I had no idea that the latter had a fandom given its short longevity.) She is perhaps best known for being invited to write a Forever Knight tie-in novel, Intimations of Mortality. It, like the rest of the Forever Knight novels, is not available from the usual suspects. (Died 2010.)
  • Born August 11, 1962 Brian Azzarello, 59. Writer of the comic book 100 Bullets, published by Vertigo. Writer of DC’s relaunched Wonder Woman series several years back. One of the writers in the Before Watchmen limited series. Co-writer with Frank Miller of the sequel to The Dark Knight Returns, The Dark Knight III: The Master Race.
  • Born August 11, 1976 Will Friedle, 45. Largely known as an actor with extensive genre voice work: Terry McGinnis aka the new Batman in Batman Beyond which Warner Animation now calls Batman of the Future, Peter Quill in The Guardians Of The Galaxy, and Kid Flash in Teen Titans Go!  to name but a few of his roles.
  • Born August 11, 1964 Jim Lee, 57. Korean American comic-book artist, writer, editor, and publisher.  Co-founder of Image Comics, now senior management at DC though he started at Marvel. Known for work on Uncanny X-Men, Punisher, Batman, Superman WildC.A.T.s. and Before Watchman. Now Lee is the sole Publisher of DC Comics.
  • Born August 11, 1983 Chris Hemsworth, 38. Thor in the MCU film franchise and George Kirk in the most recent Trek film franchise. Other genre performances include Eric the Huntsman in the exemplary Snow White and the Huntsman and The Huntsman: Winter’s War, Curt Vaughan in Cabin in the Woods and Agent H in Men in Black: International. Ok who’s seen the latter? It’s on my bucket list. 

(10) COMICS SECTION.

(11) DOUBLE JEOPARDY! Deadline says this is how they’re dividing the baby: “’Jeopardy!’: Mike Richards To Host Syndicated Show, Mayim Bialik To Host Primetime Specials & Spinoffs”.

The search for new permanent host of Jeopardy! is officially over. The show’s executive producer Mike Richards has been named the new permanent host of the venerable syndicated game show, succeeding the late Alex Trebek. Additionally, Sony Pictures Television announced that The Big Bang Theory star Mayim Bialik will host Jeopardy!’s primetime and spinoff series, including the upcoming Jeopardy! National College Championship set to air on ABC next year. The Greatest of All Time winner Ken Jennings will return as consulting producer for the show…. 

(12) HI BROOKE! “I’m Brooke Gladstone and I Am a Trekker” from WYNC Studios – listen or read the transcript at the link.

In September 1966, Gene Roddenberry dispatched the crew of the Starship Enterprise on its maiden voyage through space and time and into the American living room. In a vintage OTM piece, Brooke explores the various television incarnations of the franchise and the infinitely powerful engine behind it all: the fan.

Brooke Gladstone: Editor’s log star date, August 11th, 2021. To mark what would have been the 100th birthday of Gene Roddenberry, the creator of one of my favorite shows, we are replaying a piece I made all the way back in 2006. I’m Brooke Gladstone. I am a Trekker.

William Shatner: Get a life, will you, people? For crying out loud, it’s just a TV show.

Brooke: When William Shatner said that on Saturday Night Live, though to be fair, he didn’t write it, it stung.

Barbara Adams: I think a lot of fans feel like they are not respected. They’re almost ashamed to admit they’re fans of Star Trek unless they hear two or three references to Star Trek in the conversation.

Brooke Gladstone: Not Barbara Adams, so moved was she by this series; optimistic, pluralistic vision of the future that when serving on the jury in the whitewater trial 10 years ago, she wore the uniform of a Starfleet officer. “If it helps to make people think a little more about what those ideals are, then I’ll keep wearing this uniform,” she said, and then was promptly dismissed for talking to the press….

(13) DJINN BUZZ. The Essence of Wonder with Gadi Evron staff are joined by Patricia Jackson and Elias Eells to discuss A Master of Djinn by P. Djeli Clark on Saturday, August 14 at 3:00 p.m. US Eastern Time. The streaming show is accessible via YouTube, Facebook Live, and Twitch.

(14) HEAR VALENTE. The Glasgow in 2024 Worldcon bid presents “The Present is Purple with Catherynne M. Valente” in conversation with Ed Fortune, August 24 at 7:00 p.m. BST. Register here.

About this event

Summer is slowly fading away but Glasgow in 2024 is not taking a break in bringing you amazing bookish events! Join us on August 24th for an exciting evening with the brilliant Catherynne M. Valente to talk about her brilliant new novella The Past is Red, out now from TorDotCom… Grab a copy and an iced drink and join us!

The future is blue. Endless blue…except for a few small places that float across the hot, drowned world left behind by long-gone fossil fuel-guzzlers. One of those patches is a magical place called Garbagetown…

(15) TRAILER OF DOOM. Doom Patrol Season 3 streams September 23 on HBO Max.

Go through the looking glass with a super-powered gang of outcasts (including Matt Bomer as Negative Man, Joivan Wade as Cyborg, Brendan Fraser as Robotman, and more). Last seen at a decrepit amusement park where Chief (Timothy Dalton) witnessed his metahuman daughter, Dorothy (Abigail Shapiro) engaged in a fiery face-off with “The Candlemaker,” an ancient evil deity who will stop at nothing to fulfill his world-ending destiny, join the #DoomPatrol for an action-packed third season.

(16) ANIMATED WITCHER. Face your demons. The Witcher: Nightmare of the Wolf premieres August 23 on Netflix.

(17) KITTY THE FREELOADER. Science has discovered “Cats prefer to get free meals rather than work for them” reports Phys.org. No shit!

When given the choice between a free meal and performing a task for a meal, cats would prefer the meal that doesn’t require much effort. While that might not come as a surprise to some cat lovers, it does to cat behaviorists. Most animals prefer to work for their food—a behavior called contrafreeloading.

… “There is an entire body of research that shows that most species including birds, rodents, wolves, primates—even giraffes—prefer to work for their food,” said lead author Mikel Delgado, a cat behaviorist and research affiliate at UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine. “What’s surprising is out of all these species cats seem to be the only ones that showed no strong tendency to contrafreeload.”

(18) THEORY X GETS SPACED. Jacobin’s Meagan Day investigates a lost bit of space history in “Houston, We Have a Labor Dispute”.

For decades, rumors have circulated about a strike in space. The story goes that in 1973, the three astronauts on the Skylab 4 mission took an unplanned day off to protest ground control’s management style, and the job action resulted in improved working conditions. It’s a great story.

According to Skylab 4 crew member Ed Gibson, that’s not exactly what happened. But his telling of events, though it differs from the tidy and entertaining “space strike” narrative, is still a tale of overwork, micromanagement, and perceived noncompliance bringing management to the table. And Gibson’s account still confirms that even a whiff of collective action can shift the balance of power in workers’ favor.

Earlier this year, the BBC broadcast an interview with Gibson, the last surviving Skylab 4 crew member, conducted by Witness History producer and presenter Lucy Burns. “We’ve only had one reporter other than you talk to us in the past forty-seven years,” Gibson told Burns. He set out to correct the record.

Gibson maintains that the crew didn’t mean to go on strike. But what did happen had a similar effect in terms of giving the astronauts leverage and intervening in a bad (extraterrestrial) workplace dynamic.

(19) HOME COOKING. Stephen Colbert’s monologue had more to say about that Field of Dreams Apple Pie Hot Dog beginning around 8 minutes into this YouTube video. Includes info about how to make it at home from creator Guy Fieri.

(20) READERS DIGESTION. Dark Horse Direct is taking pre-orders of these Dune: Sandworm Bookends based on how the creatures appear in the forthcoming movie. Cost  $149.99, only 2,000 will be sold.

Dark Horse Direct, in partnership with Legendary Entertainment, is proud to present the Dune: Sandworm Bookends! Based on the giant sandworms from the highly anticipated new film of the iconic science fiction epic, Dune, these bookends will have you watching your walking pattern over the sands of Arrakis.

Each half measuring 8.5” tall by 8” wide by 6.5” deep, this highly detailed bookend set is meticulously sculpted and hand painted to showcase the fearsome sandworm as it erupts out of the sands, ready to defend its territory and the most precious resource in existence.

(21) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In “The Professional Movie Fan Tutorial:  Pro Tips” on Screen Rant, written by Ryan George, Dave Heuff plays professional super movie fan “Fredge” Buick, who explains that a professional movie fan has to be perpetually angry! (his avatar is Heath Ledger’s Joker), have questionable hygiene, and use a lot of duct tape to sneak the noisy snacks you want inside the theatre.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Richard Horton, Todd Mason, John A Arkansawyer, Andrew Porter, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, and Michael Toman for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to contributing editor of the day Jake.]

Pixel Scroll 8/4/21 I Think We’re A Scroll Now, There Doesn’t Seem To Be Any File Around

(1) FUTURE TENSE. The July 2021 entry in the Future Tense Fiction series is Justina Ireland’s “Collateral Damage”, about how an Army platoon responds when an experimental military robot is embedded with it.

…Unit 10003 interacted with assigned platoon during physical training and assisted in small tasks. Complete recordings are now available for download. Morale of assigned unit is high and no hostility was experienced. ENTRY COMPLETE…

Writer and military historian Andrew Liptak’s response essay asks “Will members of the military ever be willing to fight alongside autonomous robots?”

…The development of the Greek phalanx helped protect soldiers from cavalry, the deployment of English longbows helped stymie large formations of enemy soldiers, new construction methods changed the shape of fortifications, line infantry helped European formations take advantage of firearms, and anti-aircraft cannons helped protect against incoming enemy aircraft. The technological revolution of warfare has not stopped, and today, robotics on the battlefield—through the use of drones, automated turrets, or the remote-controlled Flir PackBot—have made appearances in the most recent conflicts….

(2) BOUCHERCON CANCELLED. The 2021 Bouchercon, a convention for mystery fans that was scheduled to be held this month in New Orleans, has been cancelled by the organizers. Members received an email explaining the decision (which has not yet been published). Writers commenting on Facebook pointed to Louisiana’s COVID spike, The con will be held in the city in 2025, instead. The Anthony Awards are still happening and details of the online/virtual awards ceremony will be coming soon.

(3) LONGYEAR ACCEPTANCE SPEECH. Barry B. Longyear invites Facebook readers to hear his Prometheus Award acceptance speech via Zoom on August 21, followed by a panel discussion “SF, Liberty, Alternative Publishing Trends and the Prometheus Awards” hosted by LFS and sponsored by Reason Magazine. The Zoom event will take place 3:00-4:30 PM EDT on August 21 and it is open to the public. This is the Zoom event link.

(4) FLASH FICTION ROUNDUP. Space Cowboy Books in Joshua Tree, CA presents “An evening of Flash Science Fiction with stories by Christopher Ruocchio, Brent A. Harris and David Brin” on August 10 at 6:00 p.m Pacific. Register for the free Zoom event here.

(5) BLUE PLAQUE SPECIAL. Another commemorative plaque honoring Tolkien has been installed on a British building: “Blue plaque celebrates time Lord of the Rings author Tolkien spent near Withernsea a century ago” reports the Yorkshire Post.

A blue plaque has gone up in Withernsea to mark the time Lord of the Rings author JRR Tolkien and his wife spent there when he was a soldier during World War One.

The Lifeboat Café, where it has gone up, occupies the site of 76 Queen Street, where Tolkien’s wife Edith lodged in 1917, while he was stationed at nearby Thirtle Bridge Camp, three miles away, for a time as commander of the Humber Garrison, which was tasked with protecting the coast from invasion.

Tolkien, who was recovering from trench fever which he’d picked up in France, had not yet been published

…The plaque, funded by wellwishers, was organised by Phil Mathison, the author of Tolkien in East Yorkshire 1917-1918.

Two others have been installed at the Dennison Centre in Hull, which was Brooklands Hospital during the First World war, and in Hornsea, where his wife stayed at 1 Bank Terrace.

(6) KISWAHILI SF PRIZE. The Nyabola Prize for Science Fiction was announced earlier this year, inviting writers between the ages of 18 and 35 to submit sci-fi and speculative fiction in the Kiswahili language. Over 140 million people speak Kiswahili in Eastern and Southern Africa and it is the most widely spoken African language in the world. The deadline to enter was May 31. Read the March 24 announcement here. It offers $1,000 to the first place winner, and $500 and $250 to the second and third place winners. The top ten stories will be published in an anthology.

In a recent interview published in The Conversation, two of the prize’s principal administrators, Mukoma wa Ngugi and Lizzy Attree, commented on the impact of empowering writers to create sci-fi in African language literature. “New Kiswahili science fiction award charts a path for African languages”.

…Mokoma adds that fostering science fiction in African languages changes the narrative that African languages cannot accommodate scientific discourse:

“There is also the idea that African languages are social languages, emotive and cannot carry science. Most definitely not true. All languages can convey the most complex ideas but we have to let them. There is something beautiful about African languages carrying science, fictionalised of course, into imagined futures.”

(7) THERE WILL BE WAR. [Item by Jennifer Hawthorne.] This was originally a thread on Twitter, but Cory Doctorow compiled and posted it to his blog. “Games Workshop declares war on its customers (again)”. It references Making Light, Warhammer 40K (extensively) and “Starship Troopers.” 

There’s a difference between a con-artist and a grifter. A con-artist is just a gabby mugger, and when they vanish with your money, you know you’ve been robbed.

A grifter, on the other hand, is someone who can work the law to declare your stuff to be their stuff, which makes you a lawless cur because your pockets are stuffed full of their money and merely handing it over is the least you can do to make up for your sin.

IP trolls are grifters, not con artists, and that’s by design, a feature of the construction of copyright and trademark law.

Progressives may rail at the term “IP” for its imprecision, but truly, it has a very precise meaning: “‘IP’ is any law that lets me control the conduct of my customers, competitors and critics, such that they must arrange their affairs to my benefit.”…

(8) TALKING ABOUT PIRANESI. Susanna Clarke will discuss her Hugo-nominated and Kitschie-winning book Piranesi with Neil Gaiman in a free (or pay-what-you-can) online event September 2 at 11:30 a.m. Pacific. Get tickets here.

Step into the extraordinary and mysterious world of Sunday Times and New York Times bestselling author Susanna Clarke as she discusses her spectacular novel, Piranesi, with the one and only Neil Gaiman live and online exclusively for 5×15. Join us for what promises to be an unmissable conversation between two of our best loved, most powerfully imaginative writers.

(9) THE BOOK OF VAUGHN. Boing Boing reports there’s a “Vaughn Bode documentary in the works”. [Note: The line over the “e” in his name is not shown here because WordPress doesn’t support the character.]

Vaughn Bode was one of the coolest underground artists of the 1960s and 1970s, painting a joyous mix of sexuality, psychedelia and appropriated cartoon tropes. It would have been his 80th birthday this month, and director Nick Francis is preparing a documentary about his short life and long influence.

(10) THE FORCES OF EVIL DO NOT SLEEP. Cora Buhlert writes about the new Masters of the Universe: Revelation cartoon and the classic sword and sorcery influences on the Masters of the Universe franchise in general in “Eternia Revisited – Some Reflections on Master of the Universe: Revelation”. Includes spoilers.

…Those cartoons were basically 25-minute toy ads and I knew that even as a kid (especially since the commercial breaks helpfully ran ads for the very same toys). Nonetheless, I loved them. They also had a big influence on me – how big I wouldn’t realise until many years later. And I’m far from the only one. Look at how many reboots, reimaginationings, live action versions, etc… of 1980s kid cartoons there have been in recent years. For example, right now Snake Eyes, a pretty neat looking movie based on the ninja character from G.I. Joe, is in the theatres. They may only have been glorified toy commercials, but those cartoons influenced a whole generation and have outlasted many of the more serious and wholesome media of the same era. At any rate, I don’t see a big screen Löwenzahn reboot anywhere. As for wholesome and educational cartoons, how wholesome and educational does Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids look now, knowing what we know about Bill Cosby?…

(11) THREE COSTUMERS PASS AWAY. The International Costumers Guild has announced the deaths of three veteran masqueraders in recent days.

R.I.P. Robert “G. Bob” Moyer. He was a fixture at many East-Coast Costume-Cons, and always had good garb. He was also known for his middle-eastern dance skills and charming personality.

More sad news for our community, Leo d’Entremont passed away suddenly at home last night. [August 1] He will be missed at many events and our thoughts go out to his wife and family.

Dana MacDermott passed last night. [August 3] An inspiration and icon to many, she will be missed. Our thoughts go out to her husband, Bruce MacDermott, as well as her sons, family and many friends.

(12) J.W. RINZLER (1962-2021). Jonathan Rinzler, who wrote under the name J.W. Rinzler, died July 28 from pancreatic cancer at the age of 58.

Berkleyside has a detailed appreciation of his career: “Remembering Jonathan Rinzler, bestselling author of ‘Star Wars’ books”.

Rinzler had a prodigious career as a bestselling author of cinematic history books about Star WarsIndiana Jones, and other 20th century blockbuster films. He joined Lucasfilm in 2001 and became the executive editor of its publishing arm, Lucasbooks. Over 15 years, he authored an extensive body of Star Wars-related publications, including The Making of Star Wars (a New York Times bestseller), The Making of The Empire Strikes BackThe Making of Return of the JediStar Wars: The Blueprints, and The Sounds of Star Wars.

… In addition to his multiple books about the Star Wars and Indiana Jones franchises, he wrote The Making of AliensThe Making of Planet of the ApesThe Making of Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining, and Howard Kazanjian: A Producer’s Life.

…In addition to his nonfiction works, Rinzler wrote two novels, the No. 1 best-selling graphic novel The Star Wars, which he co-authored with artist Mike Mayhew, and his recent space history novel All Up…

Mary Robinette Kowal added this note to the announcement:

(13) MEMORY LANE.

  • 1972 – Forty-nine years ago at L.A.Con 1, Poul Anderson win the Best Novella Hugo for “The Queen of Air and Darkness”. (It was his fourth Hugo. All of his Hugo wins would be in the non-Novel categories.) Other nominated works “A Meeting with Medusa” by Arthur C. Clarke, “The Fourth Profession” by Larry Niven, “Dread Empire” by John Brunner and “A Special Kind of Morning” by Gardner R. Dozois. It would also win a Locus Award for Short Fiction and a Nebula Award for a Novelette. (One work, three different categories.)  It’s available, not surprisingly, in The Queen of Air and Darkness: Volume Two of the Short Fiction of Poul Anderson which is available from the usual suspects.

(14) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born August 4, 1923 Paul Schneider. He wrote scripts for the original Star TrekStar Trek: The Animated SeriesThe StarlostThe Six Million Dollar Man, and Buck Rogers in the 25th Century. He’s best remembered for two episodes of the original Trek series: “Balance of Terror” and “The Squire of Gothos.” “Balance of Terror,” of course, introduced the Romulans. (Died 2008.)
  • Born August 4, 1937 David Bedford. Composer who worked with Ursula K. Le Guin to produce and score her Rigel 9 album which the Encyclopedia of Science Fiction says is “a work that is musically pleasant although narratively underpowered.” I’ve not heard it, so cannot say how accurate this opinion is. (Died 2011.)
  • Born August 4, 1942 Don S. Davis. He’s best-known for playing General Hammond on Stargate SG-1 and Major Garland Briggs on Twin Peaks. He had a small part in Beyond the Stars as Phil Clawson, and was in Hook as Dr. Fields. Neat factoid: on MacGyver for five years, he was the stunt double for Dana Elcar. (Died 2008.)
  • Born August 4, 1944 Richard Belzer, 77. In the Third Rock from The Sun series as himself, also the Species II film and an adaption of Heinlein’s The Puppet Masters, along with series work too in The X-FilesThe InvadersHuman Target, and a recurring role in the original Flash series to name a few of his genre roles.
  • Born August 4, 1950 Steve Senn, 71. Here because of his Spacebread duology, Spacebread and Born of Flame. Spacebread being a large white cat known throughout the galaxy as an adventuress and a rogue. He’s also written the comic novels, Ralph Fozbek and the Amazing Black Hole Patrol and Loonie Louie Meets the Space FungusSpacebread is available at the usual suspects for a mere ninety cents as is Born of Flame: A Space Story!
  • Born August 4, 1968 Daniel Dae Kim, 53. First genre role was in the NightMan series, other roles include the Brave New World tv film, the second Fantasy Island of three series, recurring roles on LostAngel and Crusade, the Babylon 5 spinoff Crusade series, Star Trek: VoyagerCharmed and voice work on Justice League Unlimited.
  • Born August 4, 1969 Fenella Woolgar, 52. Agatha Christie in “The Unicorn and The Wasp” episode of Doctor Who where she more than capably played off against David Tennant’s Tenth Doctor. She was series regular Min in the Jekyll series. Her only other genre work was as Helena in A Midsummer Night’s Dream at the Royal Exchange Theatre, Manchester. 
  • Born August 4, 1981 Meghan, the former Duchess of Sussex, 40, Yes she’s done a genre performance or so. To be precise, she showed up on Fringe in the first two episodes of the second season (“A New Day in the Old Town” and “Night of Desirable Objects” as Junior FBI Agent Amy Jessup. She was also in the “First Knight” episode of Knight Rider as Annie Ortiz, and Natasha in “A Mind is a Terrible Thing to Lose” on Century City

(15) COMICS SECTION.

(16) FF@60. Fans will get to experience two of the Fantastic Four’s greatest adventures in a new way when Fantastic Four Anniversary Tribute #1 is published in November. In the tradition of Giant-Size X-Men: Tribute To Wein & Cockrum #1 and Captain America Anniversary Tribute #1, this giant-sized issue will present classic stories with new artwork by today’s leading artists.

 Sixty years ago, Stan Lee and Jack Kirby made history and brought about the beginning of the Marvel Age of comics with the release of FANTASTIC FOUR #1. Now a bevy of Marvel’s finest creators will pay tribute to that monumental moment by reinterpreting, page by page, the story from that inaugural release as well as FANTASTIC FOUR ANNUAL #3, the wedding of Reed Richards and Sue Storm!

(17) HULL & POHL. Andrew Porter took these photos of Elizabeth Anne Hull and her husband Frederik Pohl in years gone by. Hull died this week, and Pohl in 2013.

(18) TRYING TO BE HELPFUL. Daniel Dern nominates these as the titles for Phillip Pullman Dark Materials sequels.

  • The Precient Wrench
  • His Uglee Mugge
  • The Ambitious Protractor
  • The Slye Pliers
  • The Open Source Aleitheometer
  • The Dust Buster
  • The Unworthy Hammer
  • The Book In The Stone
  • The Sword In The Scroll

(19) SOUL MAN. The dark year 2204, in a world that has seen 73 years of continuous war. A Shaman is sent on a mission to convert the soul of a giant battle colossus. “The Shaman” curated by DUST.

The dark year 2204, in a world that has seen 73 years of continuous war. Recently mankind re-discovered the arts of Shamanism. The Shaman’s school of thought believes that every person or object has a soul. During battle Shamans step over into the Netherworld to find and convert the souls of their enemies’ giant battle machines. This tactic enables a single man to overcome an invincibly seeming steel monster. This is the story of Joshua, a Shaman, who is sent on a mission to convert the soul of a giant battle colossus. He does not yet know that the soul is prepared for his coming and that the deadly psychological soul-to-soul confrontation in the Netherworld will be on eye level.

(20) A DIFFERENT SHIELD BEARER. “The Multiverse Blows Open With Captain Carter In New Clips From Marvel’s ‘What If…?’ Series On Disney+”SYFY Wire sets the frame:

The animated series, which arrives on Disney+ next week, takes Loki‘s introduction of the multiverse and runs with it, presenting alternate outcomes for our favorite MCU heroes and villains. Overseeing all of these parallel dimensions is Uatu the Watcher (voiced by Wright), an omnipotent celestial being whose job it is to watch over the Earth without interfering….

(21) THE DRINK OF DRAGON CON. Makes me wonder what the official beverage of the Worldcon would be named.

(22) AIR APPARENT. [Item by Daniel Dern.] What a difference a (longer) day makes: “’Totally New’ Idea Suggests Longer Days On Early Earth Set Stage For Complex Life” at Slashdot.

“A research team has proposed a novel link between how fast our planet spun on its axis, which defines the length of a day, and the ancient production of additional oxygen,” reports Science Magazine. “Their modeling of Earth’s early days, which incorporates evidence from microbial mats coating the bottom of a shallow, sunlit sinkhole in Lake Huron, produced a surprising conclusion: as Earth’s spin slowed, the resulting longer days could have triggered more photosynthesis from similar mats, allowing oxygen to build up in ancient seas and diffuse up into the atmosphere.”

(23) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In “Honest Trailers: G.I. Joe: Rise of Cobra and Retaliation,” the Screen Junkies say the first two G.I. Joe movies are “like Team America but without the jokes” that mixes “generic military dudes and hot military babes.”

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Lise Andreasen, Daniel Dern, Jennifer Hawthorne, Joey Eschrich, Andrew Porter, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, and Michael Toman for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to contributing editor of the day Soon Lee.]

Wait, Wait, A Few Dern Moments: Notable Digital Freebies

By Daniel Dern: Got some eye/ear time available? Here’s a few that don’t require reaching for your wallet (assuming you still own and use a wallet).

SCHMIGADOON (Apple Plus TV)

If you like Broadway musicals with a strong dash of snark, you’ll probably love this quasi-fourth-wallish musical comedy spoof — great songs, great dance, great actors. So far (as of August 1), four of the six half-hour episodes are up.

Apple Plus TV is $4.95/month (and, like Display+ and HBO Max, among others, you can let several people share your account).

Meridithilly, (currently), all premiere episodes of Apple Plus series are available free without you having to even join…and you can get a free one-trial. So you could wait a fortnight and catch them all. (Of course, if you’re going to want to watch Foundation, or have already been Ted Lasso‘ing, etc., this advice is moot.)

THE SANDMAN (Audible)

I don’t consider myself an audio-book fan (versus the megahours of music, Firesign Theater, NPR segments, etc that I ebibe, along with enjoying author readings in person and Zoomed), but a friend not only recommended the ensemble Audible of Neil Gaiman’s The Sandman (which I read as the comics came out, one by one, and periodically re-read my trade paperback versions of), and, so far, I’m enjoying it.

Gaiman is doing the narration; the all-star cast includes James McAvoy as Morpheus (Dream), Kat Dennings as Death, Andy Serkis as Matthew the Raven, among others.

I reserved the ten-CD, 10 hour 55 minute set through my library, but a friend re-urged me to simply go through Audible — The Sandman by Neil Gaiman — who currently offers this for free — it’s listed as “free sample” but at least for now, it’s the whole thing. A price that’s hard to beat. (My friend says “No Audible account needed” (or maybe that’s “no need to give any payment info” — I appear to already have four other Audible things on my phone, in the app that’s clearly been sitting there for a few years.)

(I don’t see this on HooplaDigital.com, though there’s a dozen or so other Gaiman audiobooks — and the comic book collections are all there, under e-books…)

This set covers the first three book collections of Sandman’s 75 issues.

“Act II” is apparently coming out mid-August.

The mix of Gaiman’s narration, the voices, plus SFX and music, are (so far– I’m early on) well done and feel true to the words-and-images source. I can’t say or even guess what the experience would be for somebody who hasn’t read (which, for comics, includes looking at, of course) the original comics (or listening first and then reading). (Let me know!)

HOOPLADIGITAL BONUS BORROWS FOR AUGUST

Hoopla’s digital book/comic, audio and video loans already don’t cost anything — but you’re limited per month to whatever your library’s arrangement is with Hoopla. (Although if you can also accounts with additional Hoopla-partnering libraries, you can up your monthly borrows that way.)

“Bonus Borrows,” first introduced somewhere in the last year so, however, don’t count against your monthly quota — here’s https://www.hoopladigital.com/collection/13534 the batch that Hoopla just added.

HUNDREDS OF SKIFFY AND OTHER “MEGAPACK” COLLECTIONS

Megapack collections are hundreds-to-thousand page collections of sf and other stuff, by authors known and lesser-known, mostly of older stuff, but some, I’m seeing, have new stories, interviews, and other materials. Lots of author and thematic SF (and pulp, detective, western, etc.) anthologies.

On Amazon/Kindle, these e-collections are inexpensive, periodically in the Meredith Moment range (a buck or three), making them inexpensive, ahem, Kindling to make sure you’ve got enough back-up reading material for a long trip…or a relaxing weekend.

Hoopla (hoopladigital.com), it turns out/I’ve just discovered, has bunches of said megapacks — https://www.hoopladigital.com/search?page=1&q=megapack&scope=everything&type=direct — Free! (Only requirement: You need a card/account with a public library that partners with Hoopla — and each library determines how many items a patron can borrow per month. Borrows auto-return if you don’t release them sooner, so you can’t run up overdue or “lost” fines.)

A quick look at the search results from the URL shows megapack titles including: Harry Harrison, Fredric Brown, Edgar Pangborn, F. Scott Fitzgerald, H. Beam Piper, Jane Austen, R.A.Lafferty, E.E. “Doc” Smith, Jack London science fiction, and topicals including Cthulhu Mythos, Robot, Whodunit?, Fantasy, Utopia, Steampunk, Mystery, Sea-Story, Vampire, Great American Novel, Space Opera…the task of filling up your list…

Tip: “Favorite” (“heart”) the ones you want, to keep track, and then judiciously borrow based on how much time you think you’ll have to e-consume.

Pixel Scroll 7/30/21 I Never Could Get The Hang Of Scrolldays

(1) EATING THE FANTASTIC CELEBRATES EPISODE 150. Scott Edelman encourages listeners to binge on the Balkans with Eisner Award-winning comics writer Tom King in episode 150 of his Eating the Fantastic podcast.

Tom King

Tom started out in comics by interning for both DC and Marvel, where he was an assistant to X-Men writer Chris Claremont. After his comics-inspired debut novel A Once Crowded Sky was published in 2013, and after a stint in the CIA, he went on to write Batman and Mister Miracle for DC, The Vision for Marvel, and many other projects, which won him an Eisner Award in 2018 for Best Writer. Plus — and I only realized this while taking note of comic artist Joe Giella’s recent 93rd birthday — we’ve both written Supergirl stories — 43 years apart! But that’s not the only commonality to our comics careers, as you’ll soon hear.

We discussed the two questions no one in comics can answer, his attempt at age 11 to get a job at Archie Comics, how he goes back to the beginning when writing a classic character such as Supergirl, whether Alan Moore would have had the impetus to create Watchmen in today’s environment, our dealings with comic book censorship, the weird way Monica Lewinsky caused him not to get hired by MAD magazine, the differences we discovered early on between Marvel and DC, what he learned as an intern to the legendary Chris Claremont, the Black Knight pitch he got paid for which was never published, the way comic book people are like circus folk, why the current state of Krypto proves I could never go back to writing comics, and much more.

(2) WORDPLAY IN ANNIE. [Item by Daniel Dern.] Historically, the bad guys in the Annie comics have had names ranging from more-or-less backwards, to descriptive ones. (Sorry, can’t think of or find examples off the top of my head nor thru brief web search, no time to walk over to L/O/A books in bedroom bookshelf…) (The names in Dick Tracy are no slouch, neither.) Currently Annie features a villain called “Bandy Dessinay”… and if that sounds familiar:

Bandes dessinées (singular bande dessinée; literally ‘drawn strips’), abbreviated BDs and also referred to as Franco-Belgian comics (BD franco-belge), are comics that are usually originally in the French language and created for readership in France and Belgium.

As for why I recognized the rephoneticized term, it’s mostly from the year or three that I was subscribing to ComiXology Unlimited (their streaming digital comic book offering), where Bandes Dessinées was often one of the group/type categories along with (something like, IIRC) issues, series, collections.

Interestingly (at least, I think so), “Annie has appeared in the Dick Tracy comic strip after Little Orphan Annie was discontinued.” according to the Pigtails in Paint article on “Harold Gray’s Little Orphan Annie”.

Pogo fans will, of course, remember Albert Alligator and Beauregard Frontenac Bugleboy III (“The Faithful Dog”) (or perhaps Ponce de Leon Montgomery County Alabama Georgia Beauregard Possum, per a different web site) periodically gearing up as “Little Arfin’ Lulu,” with (his) eyes “all blunked out” and Sandy.

(3) PAPERBACK SHOW RETURNS. March 20, 2022 will be the date for the Los Angeles Vintage Paperback Collectors Show. The 42nd edition of the show (which had to skip 2021) will take place as usual at the Glendale Civic Auditorium, in Glendale, California.

(4) SHARPSON REVIEWED. [Item by Olav Rokne.] “The Future Refusing To Be Born” at The Hugo Book Club Blog. I keep thinking about the book, and how the author ties rejection of modernity (nostalgia) to authoritarianism. Definitely think that Sharpson will end up on my personal ballot for the Astounding Award based on this book. 

In Neil Sharpson’s debut novel When The Sparrow Falls, that place is The Caspian Republic: a country founded by expatriate American and Russian bioconservative activists, whose boundaries are roughly those of present-day Azerbaijan.

While the rest of the world has embraced an almost-singularitarian future of AI-guided mass prosperity, near immortality, and widespread expansive human rights, this Caspian Republic has hewed to a quasi-religious “Humanity First” doctrine and polices the use of technology.

…Sharpson’s prose is sparse, clear, and engaging. He ably paints a picture of a deeply flawed society, and one that is the all-too-believable result of nostalgia-driven politics and identity-driven ideology. Because the Caspian Republic’s technology is pretty much limited to what was common in North America in the 1980s, readers will be reminded of late-era Cold War spy stories….

(5) 100 YEARS OF LEM. The Viennese are participating in the Stanislaw Lem centenary reports Radio Poland: “Austrian capital honours Polish sci-fi great Lem”. See video of the dance on Facebook.

Lem’s centenary is being celebrated in Poland as the Year of Lem, and now Vienna, the writer’s home in the 1980s, has joined in, staging a series of musical events collectively dubbed the Lem Festival.

Poland’s Adam Mickiewicz Institute (IAM) is the driving force behind the project, in co-operation with the ImPuls Tanz festival and the Klangforum Wien ensemble.

During the events, which run through the end of July, dancers and musicians are expected to invite audiences “to reflect on the possibility of communication with ‘the Alien,'” according to the Polish institute.

This is because, a century after Lem was born, and following the NASA rover’s landing on Mars, this question has again become our civilisation’s most pressing problem, the organisers have said….

(6) THEY MADE IT. The Uncanny Kickstarter hit its initial funding goal – now they start work on the stretch goals.

(7) APEX AND ABOVE. Likewise, the Apex Magazine 2022 Kickstarter reached its basic goal and is rolling up its milestone rewards. First on the list, a story by Bonnie Jo Stufflebeam – who does a Q&A with publisher Jason Sizemore in the linked update.

JASON SIZEMORE: Do you and Levar Burton hang out? Talk a little about the process of working with Mr. Burton and hearing your words narrated by Mr. Reading Rainbow?

BONNIE JO STUFFLEBEAM: What an experience! I got an unexpected email from Julia Smith, the producer of LeVar Burton Reads, inviting me to be LeVar’s featured writer at his live Dallas event for my story “In the City of Martyrs.” I had no idea that this was an email that one could get, so I was immediately ecstatic to both appear live and to have my story appear on the podcast. The night of the show, I got to meet Julia and LeVar, both amazing and talented professionals, then got to hear LeVar read my story to musical accompaniment. After the reading, we did a Q&A with LeVar and then with the audience.

What I remember most from the event was LeVar’s generosity; he offered to meet-and-greet the very large group of people who came to support me. Also, the audience questions for the Q&A were perceptive as hell. The audience was clearly full of serious readers, and I’m not sure there’s a better feeling than to be surrounded by people who share that passion. Then, of course, there was the magic of hearing my short story read by a man whose voice I grew up listening to. Normally, I can’t divorce the reading of my own stories from the fact that I wrote them, but hearing LeVar read my work with a balalaika setting the story’s mood throughout, I got goosebumps.

(8) DISNEY GETS ROUGH. As reported here earlier, Scarlett Johansson filed a high-stakes breach of contract lawsuit against Disney over the release of Black Widow, alleging Disney broke its contract with her by releasing her solo feature on streaming platform Disney+ on the same day as theaters. Disney’s reply drags their star through the mud: “Disney blasts Scarlett Johansson’s ‘Black Widow’ suit: ‘No merit whatsoever’”.

…However, Disney pushed back hard against Johansson’s arguments. In a statement issued to Yahoo Finance, the media giant said, “There is no merit whatsoever to this filing. The lawsuit is especially sad and distressing in its callous disregard for the horrific and prolonged global effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.”…

Johansson’s representatives at CAA hit back: “Hollywood agent Bryan Lourd steps into Disney v Scarjo fight” in the Los Angeles Times.

“They have shamelessly and falsely accused Ms. Johansson of being insensitive to the global COVID pandemic, in an attempt to make her appear to be someone they and I know she isn’t,” Lourd, co-chairman of Creative Artists Agency said in a statement. Lourd represents some of Hollywood’s biggest stars besides Johansson, such as Brad Pitt and George Clooney. Disney did not respond to requests for comment on Lourd’s statement….

“Scarlett has been Disney’s partner on nine movies, which have earned Disney and its shareholders billions,” Lourd said. “The company included her salary in their press statement in an attempt to weaponize her success as an artist and businesswoman, as if that were something she should be ashamed of.”

(9) BLUE ORIGIN TRIES TO REVIVE NASA’S INTEREST. Blue Origin says it’s willing to cover $2 billion of the cost for a second lunar lander contract, should NASA award one. In a July 26th letter to NASA Administrator Bill Nelson, Blue Origin founder Jeff Bezos said his company is willing to waive up to $2 billion in payments over the current and next two government fiscal years in exchange for a fixed-priced contract. In April, NASA selected SpaceX as the recipient of its Human Landing System (HLS) contract, a decision that competitors Blue Origin and Dynetics protested shortly after. The full letter is at the link, here are some excerpts:

Blue Origin is committed to building a future where millions of people live and work in space to benefit the Earth….

This is why Blue Origin answered NASA’s urgent call to develop a Human Landing System. We built the National Team – with four major partners and more than 200 small and medium suppliers in 47 states – to focus on designing, building, and operating a flight system the nation could count on. NASA invested over half a billion dollars in the National Team in 2020-21, and we performed well. The team developed and risk-reduced a safe, mass-efficient design that could achieve a human landing in 2024. 

Our approach is designed to be sustainable for repeated lunar missions and, above all, to keep our astronauts safe. We created a 21st-century lunar landing system inspired by the well-characterized Apollo architecture — an architecture with many benefits. One of its important benefits is that it prioritizes safety. As NASA recognized, the National Team’s design offers a “comprehensive approach to aborts and contingencies [that] places a priority on crew safety throughout all mission phases.” 

Unlike Apollo, our approach is designed to be sustainable and to grow into permanent, affordable lunar operations. Our lander uses liquid hydrogen for fuel. Not only is hydrogen the highest-performing rocket fuel, but it can also be mined on the Moon. That feature will prove essential for sustained future operations on the Moon and beyond.

From the beginning, we designed our system to be capable of flying on multiple launch vehicles, including Falcon Heavy, SLS, Vulcan, and New Glenn. The value of being able to fly on many different launch vehicles cannot be over-stated…

Yet, in spite of these benefits and at the last minute, the Source Selection Official veered from the Agency’s oft-stated procurement strategy. Instead of investing in two competing lunar landers as originally intended, the Agency chose to confer a multi-year, multi-billion-dollar head start to SpaceX. That decision broke the mold of NASA’s successful commercial space programs by putting an end to meaningful competition for years to come…. 

(10) TED LEWIN (1935-2021). Illustrator and writer of children’s books Ted Lewin died July 28. Jane Yolen paid tribute on Facebook.

Heartbroken–this says it all. Ted and [his wife] Betsy were dear friends for many years and Ted illustrated David’s only children’s book (HIGH RIDGE GOBBLER) and a bunch of mine, Several of his originals for the books decorate my dining room. I see them everyday. Ted was a lovely, lovely man, a wonderful storyteller, who brought much beauty to the world.

Ted Lewin illustrated over 200 books, winning a 1994 Caldecott Honor for Peppe The Lamplighter. A number of these were done in collaboration with his wife, Betsy.

As a young man who wanted to go to art school at the Pratt Institute, he earned money to finance his education by taking a summer job as a professional wrestler – the beginning of a fifteen year part-time career that eventually inspired his autobiographical book I Was a Teenage Professional Wrestler.

Lewin’s professional honors also include a Silver Medal in the Society of Illustrators Annual Show (2007), and he and Betsy were inducted into the Society of Illustrators Hall of Fame in 2015. [Click below for larger image.]

(11) MEMORY LANE.

  • 1987  – In July of 1987, Emma Bull’s War for The Oaks was published by Ace Books. It would win a Locus Best First Novel Award and be nominated for a Mythopoeic Fantasy Award. This urban fantasy would get its own trailer courtesy of Will Shetterly who financed it instead of running for Governor. You’ll no doubt recognize many of the performers here as some of them are from Minnesota fandom.  Decades later, it was scheduled to have a hardcover edition from Tor Books but it got canceled after the books were printed. (They were printed. I have a signed one here.) And the music in War for The Oaks would later be done by Cats Laughing, a band that includes Emma Bull and other members of fandom with lyrics by John Ford, Steven Brust and others. 

(12) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born July 30, 1927 Victor Wong. I remember him best as the Chinese sorcerer Egg Shen in John Carpenter’s exemplary Big Trouble in Little China. He was also The Old Man in The Golden Child, Walter Chang in Tremors, Dr. Wong in the “China Moon” episode of the Beauty and the Beast series and Lee Tzin-Soong in the “Fox Spirit” episode of Poltergeist: The Legacy. (Died 2001.)
  • Born July 30, 1947 John E. Stith, 74. Winner of two HOMer Awards, given by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Literature Forum on CompuServe, for Redshift Rendezvous and Naught for Hire. The former would be nominated for a Nebula as well. The HOMer Awards ended in about 2000. 
  • Born July 30, 1947 Arnold Schwarzenegger, 74. Terminator franchise, of course, as well as Running ManConan the Barbarian and  Conan the DestroyerTales from the Crypt and True Lies. Apparently in sort of announced Conan and Terminator reboots. Though I think that’s more rumor than reality. 
  • Born July 30, 1948 Carel Struycken, 73. I remember him best as the gong ringing Mr. Holm on Next Gen, companion to Deanna Troi’s mother. He was also Lurch in The Addams FamilyAddams Family Values and the Addams Family Reunion. He’s listed as being Fidel in The Witches of Eastwick but I’ll be damned if I remembered his role in that film though I’ve seen it twice. And he’s in Ewoks: The Battle for Endor which I’ve never seen. 
  • Born July 30, 1966 Jess Nevins, 55. Author of the superlative Encyclopedia of Fantastic Victorian and the equally great Heroes & Monsters: The Unofficial Companion to the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen which is far better than the film ever could be. He’s also written the Fable Encyclopedia which is a most excellent look at Willingham series. I didn’t know he also wrote fiction ‘til now but he has two genre novels, The Road to Prester John and The Datong Incident
  • Born July 30, 1966 Jason Watkins, 55. His first genre role was William Herrick in Being Human. He’s also had a recurring role on Dirk Gentely as DI Gilks. And he voiced Captain Orchis on Watership Down.  Naturally, he’s been in Doctor Who, specifically as Webly in the Eleventh Doctor story, “Nightmare in Silver”.  He showed up in The Golden Compass as Bolvangar Official.
  • Born July 30, 1970 Christopher Nolan, 51. Writer, producer and often director as well of the latest Batman film franchise, The PrestigeInterstellarInception and Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice to name some of his work. His latest, Tenet, has been nominated for a Hugo this year. 
  • Born July 30, 1975 Cherie Priest, 46. Her Southern gothic Eden Moore series is kickass good and Clockwork Universe series isa refreshing take on steampunk which has been turned into full cast audiobooks by GraphicAudio. I’ve not read the Cheshire Red Reports novels so have no idea how good they are. Anyone read these?  She won an Endeavour Award for her Dreadnought novel.

(13) COMICS SECTION.

  • Frank and Ernest shows the judge throwing the book at an unexpected traffic offender.

(14) GET YOUR ANSWERS READY. Your hosts for Science Fiction 101 podcast are Phil Nichols of the Bradburymedia website, who is also known for the Bradbury 100 podcast and the Bradbury 101 YouTube channel; and Colin Kuskie of the Take Me To Your Reader podcast. Episode 7, “We Goes There”, features a sci-fi quiz.

(15) BASEDCON. *Rolls eyes* Thread starts here.

(16) HEAP OF GLORY. “Londoners Were Promised a Hill With a View. They Got a Pile of Scaffolding.” Linking to this New York Times item so you can appreciate the amusing comment which I’ve quoted below.

Advance publicity for the Marble Arch Mound — London’s newest visitor attraction — suggested that an Arcadian landscape would be created in the middle of the city, with spectacular views over Hyde Park.

A huge artificial hill, over 80 feet high, would rise at one end of Oxford Street, London’s busiest shopping district. Costing around 2 million pounds, or about $2.7 million, design renderings suggested that it would be covered in lush trees and that visitors would be able to climb to the top — and “feel a light breeze” against their skin.

The hill was part of a £150 million plan by Westminster Council to lure visitors back into the center of the city after the pandemic. In May, Time Out, London’s main listings magazine, described it as “visually arresting/bonkers.”

The reality has turned out to be somewhat different. Since opening on Monday, the mound has been widely mocked online as more of a folly than a dream — a pile of blocky scaffolding covered in patches of vegetation that look in danger of slipping off, and that it isn’t even high enough to look over the trees into Hyde Park….

 A commenter on the article said:

To be fair to Westminster City Council that spot has become increasingly difficult to manage, with the combination effect of a long record of unplanned and haphazard development accumulating to create serious problems. 

Obviously, the confluence of ley lines and faerie roads there lead to that being the natural place for the portal to Avalon, which in turn attracted the gate into Narnia. But, installing the secret entrance to Q branch’s main workshop so close to both the back door to the Ministry of Magic and unquiet spirits of Tyburn Tree was asking for trouble, and probably meant spatio-temporal subsidence would inevitably produce The Rift. 

Although finding a more plausible way to conceal the essential interdimensional-engineering work needed might have been better, it can be argued that attracting widespread ridicule with this hill has provided the sort of smokescreen that was wanted more cost-effectively. 

We probably shouldn’t rush to judgement, and wait for the official paperwork to be declassified and released under the 5,000-year rule.

(17) ROBODOG. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] Is the game “Quick, spot the cop” or “Quick Spot, the cop”? Another publication has chimed in on whether robotic “dogs” are suitable for use by police. “Robotic Police Dogs: Useful Hounds or Dehumanizing Machines?” at U.S. News & World Report.

If you’re homeless and looking for temporary shelter in Hawaii’s capital, expect a visit from a robotic police dog that will scan your eye to make sure you don’t have a fever.

That’s just one of the ways public safety agencies are starting to use Spot, the best-known of a new commercial category of robots that trot around with animal-like agility.

The handful of police officials experimenting with the four-legged machines say they’re just another tool, like existing drones and simple wheeled robots, to keep emergency responders out of harm’s way as they scout for dangers. But privacy watchdogs — the human kind — warn that police are secretly rushing to buy the robots without setting safeguards against aggressive, invasive or dehumanizing uses.

In Honolulu, the police department spent about $150,000 in federal pandemic relief money to buy their Spot from robotics firm Boston Dynamics for use at a government-run tent city near the airport.

“Because these people are houseless it’s considered OK to do that,” said Jongwook Kim, legal director at the American Civil Liberties Union of Hawaii. “At some point it will come out again for some different use after the pandemic is over.”…

(18) AI ASSESSES CATS. Meanwhile, a breakthrough in cat happiness technology has made the headlines: “Feline okay? The app that tells you if your cat’s happy” reports Reuters.

Cat owners who love to take pictures of their furry friends now have a new excuse to pull out their smartphones and take a snapshot: it may actually help the cat.

A Calgary, Alberta, animal health technology company, Sylvester.ai, has developed an app called Tably that uses the phone’s camera to tell whether a feline is feeling pain.

The app looks at ear and head position, eye-narrowing, muzzle tension, and how whiskers change, to detect distress. A 2019 study published in peer-reviewed journal Scientific Reports found that the so-called ‘feline grimace scale,’ or FGS, is a valid and reliable tool for acute pain assessment in cats….

(19) GIVING THE GOVERNMENT THE DIGIT. If an AI can be trusted with your cat, surely their work should not go unrewarded! “Australian Court Rules That AI Can Be an Inventor”Gizmodo has the story.

In what can only be considered a triumph for all robot-kind, this week, a federal court has ruled that an artificially intelligent machine can, in fact, be an inventor—a decision that came after a year’s worth of legal battles across the globe.

The ruling came on the heels of a years-long quest by University of Surrey law professor Ryan Abbot, who started putting out patent applications in 17 different countries across the globe earlier this year. Abbot—whose work focuses on the intersection between AI and the law—first launched two international patent filings as part of The Artificial Inventor Project at the end of 2019. Both patents (one for an adjustable food container, and one for an emergency beacon) listed a creative neural system dubbed “DABUS” as the inventor.

The artificially intelligent inventor listed here, DABUS, was created by Dr. Stephen Thaler, who describes it as a “creativity engine” that’s capable of generating novel ideas (and inventions) based on communications between the trillions of computational neurons that it’s been outfitted with. Despite being an impressive piece of machinery, last year, the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) ruled that an AI cannot be listed as the inventor in a patent application—specifically stating that under the country’s current patent laws, only “natural persons,” are allowed to be recognized. Not long after, Thaler sued the USPTO, and Abbott represented him in the suit….

(20) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In “Honest Game Trailers: Zombies Ate My Neighbors and Ghoul Patrol,” Fandom Games says this game will take you back to the ’90s (remember Scholastic book fairs?  All-denim outfits?) and will “tickle your nostalgia nose” but still frustrate you even though you’re not a teenager any more, but have kids and a mortgage.

(21) TINGLING BULLETINS AS THEY BREAK. Chuck Tingle told Facebook followers today that the music rights holders withdrew their complaints three days ago, but Twitter still hasn’t done doodly about restoring his account.

first off POWER OF LOVE IS STRONG with help of some true buckaroos behind scenes (who i will thank when this is all over and direct you to their websites and other ways) AND ALSO with help of all buckaroos on social media: SONY MUSIC and IFPI have decided to withdraw their copyright complaints and say ‘okay just take them down lets trot on you can have your account back’ which is HUGE DEAL. SO THANK YOU SO MUCH THIS PROVES LOVE IS REAL. also even though this situation is frustrating for chuck i must say sincere thank you to sony and ifpi this was a choice they made to do right thing by chuck in the name of the buckaroo lifestyle. so thank you everyone (with more thanks to come)

this happened THREE DAYS ago and twitter was notified. since then twitter has not responded to any methods of contact from chuck or sam rand or manager of chuck. chuck remains suspended with no way of contacting them that does not get automated response even though fact of the matter is:

THERE IS NO REASON FOR CHUCK TINGLE TWITTER TO BE SUSPENDED AT THIS POINT i do not have copyright infringement marks anymore or any other infractions. i have sent message to say ‘can you tell WHY my account is still suspended even after you said it would be better if i fixed these issues?’ and no response.

[Thanks to Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, Martin Morse Wooster, Paul Weimer, Olav Rokne, Michael J. Walsh, JJ, Michael Toman, John King Tarpinian, and Cat Eldridge for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to contributing editor of the day Andrew (not Werdna).]

Pixel Scroll 6/16/21 No One Is Born A Pixel, Except In A French Scroll Where Everyone Is

(1) FANTASY ART EXHIBIT AND SYMPOSIUM. The “Enchanted” fantasy art exhibit opened at the Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge, MA last weekend:

Donato Giancola: St. George and the Dragon (2010)

Enchanted: A History of Fantasy Illustration explores fantasy archetypes from the Middle Ages to today. The exhibition will present the immutable concepts of mythology, fairy tales, fables, good versus evil, and heroes and villains through paintings, etchings, drawings, and digital art created by artists from long ago to illustrators working today. Mythology explores the adventures of Apollo and Thor, Perseus rescuing Andromeda with the head of Medusa, and the labours of Hercules; fairy tales depict the worlds of elves, fairies, and mermaids, and conjure dreams of Little Nemo in SlumberlandAlice in Wonderland, and Cinderella; heroes and villains follow the exploits of Arthurian legends, Prince ValiantConan the Barbarian, and The Lord of the Rings; and haunting images of sorcerers and witches, and battles between angels and demons embody the struggle between good and evil.

James Gurney has a report on his site Gurney Journey “Fantasy Art Exhibition Opens in Massachusetts” – including photos from the artists’ reception.

… Rather than setting up the exhibit chronologically, curator Jesse Kowalski arranged it thematically, with rooms full of new and classic paintings devoted to mythic themes, such as dragons, faeries, mermaids, and monsters. ….

This weekend they’re holding an on-line symposium: “Enchanted: Epic Adventures in Fantasy Illustration” with opening remarks from Sara Frazetta, granddaughter of Frank Frazetta, and two artist panels. RSVP at the link – there is a charge.

Artist Panel One: The Frazetta Legacy in Contemporary Fantasy Illustration: A Family of Artists

Julie Bell, Boris Vallejo, Anthony Palumbo, and David Palumbo are gifted artists who have been inspired by the notable legacy of fantasy and science fiction illustrator Frank Frazetta. This panel will explore their art, their position as the first family of fantasy illustration, and the creative and technical approaches that has inspired the acclaim and admiration of many fans.

Artist Panel Two: The Epic Fantasy Adventure

The rich histories relayed by the storytellers, writers, artists, historians, and philosophers have helped to define epic adventures and fantastical characters through time, from The Epic of Gilgamesh in 2100 BCE to the dynastic rivals of The Game of Thrones. Alessandra Pisano, Donato Giancola, and Gregory Manchess will discuss their work as well as the fantasy narratives that have inspired it.

(2) TWO NGHI VO INTERVIEWS. “Nghi Vo gets the green light” – a Q&A conducted by Noah Fram at Bookpage.

When F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby entered the public domain in 2021, it became free game for adaptation. But unfortunately for any future reimaginings of the iconic Jazz Age novel, it’s going to be hard to top Nghi Vo’s historical fantasy, The Chosen and the Beautiful.

Shifting narrators from Nick Carraway to Jordan Baker, Daisy’s best friend and a fan favorite, Vo adds even greater power to Fitzgerald’s depiction of the haves and have-nots of American capitalism by making Jordan the adopted Vietnamese daughter of a rich, white couple. We talked to Vo about Jordan’s idiosyncratic allure, the dangers of Hemingway and more.

The Chosen and the Beautiful is a stunning book in its own right, but I’m essentially obligated to ask: What led you to adapt The Great Gatsby and why did you choose this particular genre?
Well, I’m absolutely a fantasist, so of course I was going to write it as a fantasy, and plus, it’s just too much fun to miss. The ’20s were wild to begin with, and the temptation to imagine people drinking demon’s blood cocktails, trading faces and chasing ghosts was far too strong for me….

One of the challenges of adapting a widely known work of fiction is creating something new and vital on a well-established canvas. How did you go about finding spaces to add intrigue, twists and surprises, especially since your readers will most likely be familiar with the events of The Great Gatsby itself?
So in writing The Chosen and the Beautiful, I more than doubled Fitzgerald’s word count. This actually makes a lot of sense to me because when I went back to read The Great Gatsby, what I found from a mechanical perspective is that Gatsby is a brick of a book in disguise. Fitzgerald doesn’t spell things out so long as the reader walks away with the general point. There are a ton of spaces to explore in the original. The ones that stand out most significantly to me are the secret conversations Jordan Baker is canonically having with Jay Gatsby, the ones that actually set the whole thing into motion, but those are far from the only ones! (cough, lever scene, cough)…

The Los Angeles Daily News probes “How this queer ‘Great Gatsby’ remake finds magic in reimagining a classic novel”.

Nghi Vo was halfway through writing a novel about “a young woman who was raised by dead people” when her agent suggested she begin work on what would become the novel “The Chosen and the Beautiful.”

The book she had been writing is still on her computer. “I haven’t gone back to it yet,” says the Milwaukee-based author, whose previous works include the novellas “When the Tiger Came Down the Mountain” and “The Empress of Salt and Fortune.”

With “The Chosen and the Beautiful,” which will be published June 1 by Tor, Vo reimagines “The Great Gatsby” from the perspective of Jordan Baker, who in this version is a young, queer woman who was born in Vietnam and raised in White, American high society. Vo also incorporates elements of the fantastic in the story, aiming to make the story seem true even if it ventures into the unreal.

“Which means that this could absolutely never happen in the real world at all. It defies physics. It defies logic, but somehow, it’s still true,” she says on a recent phone call. “That’s the grail for me when it comes to writing.”…

(3) SF SPARKLE SALONS. Arizona State University’s Center for Science and the Imagination launched a new video series today: Science Fiction Sparkle Salons, hosted by Malka Older. The first episode features Karen Lord, Amal El-Mohtar, Arkady Martine, astrophysicist Katie Mack, and Annalee Newitz having a wide-ranging, informal conversation about a variety of issues in fiction and science, enhanced by factoids and graphics in the style of VH1’s “Pop-Up Video.”

(4) BRUSH UP YOUR INKLINGS. Brenton Dickieson tells “5 Ways to Find Open Source Academic Research on C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, and the Inklings” at A Pilgrim in Narnia.

… Therefore, partly in response to student need and partly to encourage great research by you, dear reader–who also may not have a university behind you–I thought I would feature some places where you will find open-access Inklings research beyond my little website.

5. Free Materials Among Print Journals

Finding the right open-source material is always a challenge. Even though I am a faculty member at several libraries, I am always using my networks to find things that I need. There are some resources that we use as go-to places for accessible research:

  • Open JSTOR and Artstor, offering tools for search for materials online and in partnership with the libraries where you do have access
  • Also check out Open Access On MUSE
  • DOAJ.org lists open-access journals and articles
  • Google Scholar, a weirdly dated but moderately helpful resource for materials where you have specific texts or search-words; it does not distinguish between reviews, articles, and other academic resources–though it does list most of what I’ve done in the last 10 years (not everything is linkable)
  • Google Books, deeply limited but sometimes quite helpful in searching a phrase or two or finding an outdated resource, and includes the Books Ngram Viewer–a visual history of term usage
  • Kindle Samples are a good way to get a sense of what books might be helpful in your research and often includes a copy of the introduction or preface
  • Universities usually archive their MA and PhD thesis and dissertations, though some may be embargoed; and check your national research resources: Canada, for instance makes all of their publicly funded major projects searchable (see here, where there were four dozen results each for “C.S. Lewis,” “Tolkien,” and “L.M. Montgomery”)

(5) BAD TO WORSE. Camestros Felapton advances the Sad/Rabid Puppy saga to May 2015 in “Debarkle Chapter 42: May”.

… April had been a mixed month for the public-relations campaign of the Sad Puppies. Their apparent victory in the nomination stages was more than the leaders had expected and the scale of the controversy was possibly more than they had planned for. Nevertheless, they had started as winners. Brad Torgersen had gained some sympathy after the error-prone Entertainment Weekly article (see chapter 41) had falsely claimed that the Sad Puppies had only nominated white men. After anti-Gamergate campaigner Arthur Chu had referred to Torgersen’s wife and child as “shields”[2], Torgersen compared himself to a prisoner in a gulag[3]. However, both Correia and Torgersen had used April to argue with George R.R. Martin and his posts about the Puppy campaigns. Correia, in particular, followed his normal style of internet argument in an attempt to discredit Martin’s characterisation of the Sad Puppies[4]. While their responses pleased their followers, they reacted to Martin’s posts on “Puppygate” as if he were a major opponent rather than a potential ally in opposing the No Award Strategy[5].

The Sad Puppy campaign needed to start May with some positive presentation of their views. Unfortunately, things quickly went badly wrong….

(6) ROWLING REP’S NEW LITIGATION REVEALS OLD SETTLEMENT AMOUNT. A lawsuit in the UK has led to the discovery that Neil Blair at The Blair Partnership paid his former employer Christopher Little £10 million as a settlement fee in January 2012 after Blair set up his own agency in 2011 and took over representation of J.K. Rowling. Blair borrowed the money for the lump sum payment from Rowling herself. “Revealed: £10m payout for Harry Potter agent after Rowling fallout” at Evening Standard.

The only previous report of the settlement, in the Daily Mail in 2012, was based on a statement from reputation and crisis-management firm Project Associates indicating the parties had settled for an unspecified amount “believed to be worth millions of pounds.”

Publishers Lunch says Blair is now suing his former accountant, alleging negligence “in connection to advice relating to the restructuring of his business,” apparently related to tax treatment of that settlement payment to Little.

(7) DON’T TICK HIM OFF. “Q returns in time-hopping teaser” for Picard Season 2. (Can Federation time be broken any worse than it is in my comments software?)

In celebration of “Picard Day” (named for the celebration thrown on the Captain’s behalf by the children of the Enterprise-D back in the Next Generation days) on Wednesday, Paramount+ released the first intriguing teaser for Star Trek: Picard Season 2, and in the process set up a confrontation we’ve long been waiting for. The series has already revealed that the great John de Lancie will reprise his role as the enigmatic Q for Season 2, but that doesn’t stop the goosebumps when he finally appears, looking as mischievous as ever as he prepares to put Picard through yet another test. It seems all of time is broken, and Jean-Luc and his crew may be our only hope of putting it back together.

(8) MEMORY LANE.

  • 1996 — Iain M. Banks wins the BSFA for Excession, a Culture novel, published by Orbit Books. It would be his second genre Award and last English language genre Award for a novel following garnering another BSFA Award for Feersum Endjinn, one of four SF novels that he wrote that’s not set in the Culture, the others being The AlgebraistTransition and Against a Dark Background.

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born June 16, 1894 — Mahlon Blaine. Illustrator who’s largely of interest here for his work on the covers of the Canaveral Press editions in 1962 of some Edgar Rice Burroughs editions. He told Gershon Legman who would put together The Art of Mahlon Blaine “that he designed the 1925 film, The Thief of Bagdad, but Arrington says that his name doesn’t appear in any of the published credits.” He also claimed to have worked on Howard Hawks’ Scarface, but IMDB has no credits for him. (Died 1964.)
  • Born June 16, 1896 — Murray Leinster. It is said that he wrote and published more than fifteen hundred short stories and articles, fourteen movie scripts, and hundreds of radio scripts and television plays. Among those was his 1945 Hugo winning “First Contact” novella which is one of the first (if not the first) instances of a universal translator in science fiction. So naturally his heirs sued Paramount Pictures over Star Trek: First Contact, claiming that it infringed their trademark in the term. However, the suit was dismissed. I’m guessing they filed just a bit late given the universal translator was used in Trek prior to that film. (Died 1975.)
  • Born June 16, 1939 — David McDaniel. A prolific writer of The Man from U.N.C.L.E. novels, penning seven of them with such names as The Vampire Affair and The Hollow Crown Affair. He also wrote a novel for The Prisoner series, The Prisoner: Number Two. As a fan, he was quite active in LASFS, serving as its Director, writing various APAs and is remembered as a “Patron Saint” which is to say he financially support the a Club. (Died 1977.)
  • Born June 16, 1920 — T. E. Dikty. One of our earliest anthologists and publishers. At Shasta Publishers, with E. F. Bleiler, he published the first “Best of the Year” SF anthologies, The Best Science Fiction, which ran from 1949 until 1957. He did a handful of later anthologies. He also edited two issues of Fantasy Digest in 1939, and as the editor of Tenth Anniversary Program of World Science-Fiction Convention. (Died 1991.)
  • Born June 16, 1940 — Carole Ann Ford, 81. Best known for her roles as Susan Foreman in  Doctor Who, and as Bettina in  of The Day of the Triffids. Ford appeared in the one-off 50th-anniversary comedy homage The Five(ish) Doctors Reboot.
  • Born June 16, 1957 — Ian Buchanan, 64. Best remembered as Dick Tremayne on Twin Peaks. He’s done one-offs on the first Flash series, Quantum Leap, voice roles on GargoylesBatman: The Brave and the BoldBatman Beyond and Justice LeagueCharmed and Stargate SG-1
  • Born June 16, 1962 — Arnold Vosloo, 59. His best remembered role is as Dr. Peyton Westlake / Darkman in Darkman II and Darkman III, andImhotep inThe Mummy and The Mummy Returns. He’s done several notable voice roles, first as Black Adam in Shazam!: The Return of Black Adam, and Abin Sur in Green Lantern: Emerald Knights
  • Born June 16, 1972 — Andy Weir, 49. His debut novel, The Martian, was later adapted into a film of the same name directed by Ridley Scott. He received the Astounding Award for Best New Writer. His next two novels are Artemis and Project Hail Mary. Intriguingly, he’s written one piece of Sherlockian fan fiction, “James Moriarty, Consulting Criminal“ which is only available as an Audible audiobook. 

(10) COMICS SECTION.

  • Bizarro shows two well-known comics antagonist trying to shrink their problems.
  • Tom Gauld’s cartoon, one fan claimed, is what attending this year’s ConFusion Eastercon was like. (Click on image.)

(11) BOOSTING GRAPHIC NOVELS IN LIBRARIES. [Item by Michael Toman.] Am pleased to report that the Overbooked (Overwhelmed?) Undersigned has had a pretty good success rate with his “Suggestions for Purchase” for Graphic Novels at all of the local Los Angeles area libraries where he has cards over the years. Would be delighted to have more Interested Library Users get involved, too! “Libraries Look to Sustain Surge in Graphic Novels” reports Publishers Weekly.

…In February, the GNCRT accomplished one of its key goals with the release of the first Best Graphic Novels for Adults list. Nominations were taken throughout 2020, and the final list includes more than 50 titles. It’s a big achievement because adult librarians have traditionally been reluctant to start graphic novel collections and have had the burden of starting to build them from scratch with fewer resources than children’s librarians.

“The adult list was needed, because adult librarians are among the last holdouts of librarians who don’t want to buy graphic novels,” Volin says. “This list has been incredibly helpful for librarians who don’t know anything about the format and who rely on selection lists, or for librarians limited by their collection policy to only purchase things that have been reviewed positively. A book showing up on a selection list like this almost guarantees that they’re going to be able to purchase it.”

Matthew Noe, lead collection and knowledge management librarian at Countway Library at Harvard Medical School and incoming president of the GNCRT, helped launch the adult graphic novel list. He has already seen displays at his local libraries with books from the 2020 list. He confirms that this is a big step for recognizing the category within libraries. “We harp on the legitimacy thing all the time, but this lends some weight to the medium,” he adds….

(12) KNOCK ON SPOCK. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In the June 12 Financial Times, Tim Harford discusses Julia Galaf’s The Scout Mindset, which has extensive discussion about Spock.

Spock’s model of other minds is badly flawed.  For example, in an early ‘Star Trek” episode, ‘The Galileo Seven’. Spock and his subordinates have crashed a small ship and face hostile aliens who kill one crew member. Spock decides to deter any future attacks by firing warning shots.  The aliens respond not by retreating in fear, but by attacking in anger, killing another member of the crew.

‘Most illogical reaction,’ comments Spock. “(When) we demonstrated our superior weapons, they should have fled…I’m not responsible for their unpredictability.’

To which Dr  McCoy   rages in response:  ‘They were perfectly predictable, to anyone with feeling.’

Spock is not being rational here, but the problem is not that he lacks feeling, rather he lacks the capacity to learn from experience.  He should have realised aggression is often met with aggression.

(13) MOVING UP TO THE WEST SIDE. New York YIMBY specializes in eye-catching architecture, like this eye-catching plan for some Manhattan condos.

…“Era is unlike any building on the Upper West Side with its unique cantilever structure that was developed to provide spacious residential layouts with various exposures to maximize fresh air and natural light, a collection of luxury amenity offerings, and a rooftop complete with a rare outdoor pool and expansive views of the Hudson River and Manhattan skyline,” said Omri Sachs, co-founder of Adam America Real Estate.

(14) THE DINO EGG IS IN THE MAIL. “Italian Customs Authorities Seized a Dinosaur Egg Hidden In a Package” reports Vice.

Italian authorities discovered an authentic fossilized dinosaur egg during a routine customs check, the Customs and Monopolies Agency announced on Sunday. 

In a Facebook post, authorities said that the egg had been found at Milan Bergamo Airport in Northern Italy in a package sent from Malaysia. A video embedded in the post appears to show a large and strikingly intact, pasty-colored egg. 

“Even dinosaurs pass through customs,” the Facebook post reads. “As part of [customs] checks on e-commerce goods aimed at fighting the illegal import of goods, we found an authentic fossil egg embedded in a rocky sediment inside a package […] This discovery was accompanied by a certificate of origin with dubious authenticity issued by an organization which was later found to be non-existent.”… 

(15) THE TITLE IS ACCURATE. Old West meets magic in Wizard With a Gun, a multiplayer survival adventure game announced at Devolver’s MaxPass+ showcase. Wizard With a Gun is coming to Nintendo Switch and PC in 2022.

(16) THEY FORGOT TO DUST. “Mystery of Betelgeuse’s dip in brightness solved”European Southern Observatory has the details. [Hat-tip to Paul Weimer.]

Betelgeuse’s dip in brightness — a change noticeable even to the naked eye — led Miguel Montargès and his team to point ESO’s VLT towards the star in late 2019. An image from December 2019, when compared to an earlier image taken in January of the same year, showed that the stellar surface was significantly darker, especially in the southern region. But the astronomers weren’t sure why.

The team continued observing the star during its Great Dimming, capturing two other never-before-seen images in January 2020 and March 2020. By April 2020, the star had returned to its normal brightness.

“For once, we were seeing the appearance of a star changing in real time on a scale of weeks,” says Montargès, from the Observatoire de Paris, France, and KU Leuven, Belgium. The images now published are the only ones we have that show Betelgeuse’s surface changing in brightness over time.

In their new study, published today in Nature, the team revealed that the mysterious dimming was caused by a dusty veil shading the star, which in turn was the result of a drop in temperature on Betelgeuse’s stellar surface.

Betelgeuse’s surface regularly changes as giant bubbles of gas move, shrink and swell within the star. The team concludes that some time before the Great Dimming, the star ejected a large gas bubble that moved away from it. When a patch of the surface cooled down shortly after, that temperature decrease was enough for the gas to condense into solid dust.

“We have directly witnessed the formation of so-called stardust,” says Montargès, whose study provides evidence that dust formation can occur very quickly and close to a star’s surface.

(17) TIME ENOUGH FOR ROVE. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] A new simulation claims to show that even taking slow ships there has been far, far more than enough time since the era of galactic formation for an advanced civilization to spread throughout a Milky Way sized galaxy. Gizmodo has the story: “Aliens Wouldn’t Need Warp Drives to Take Over an Entire Galaxy, Simulation Suggests”. At the link you can see a video clip.

…A simulation produced by the team shows the process at work, as a lone technological civilization, living in a hypothetical Milky Way-like galaxy, begins the process of galactic expansion. Grey dots in the visualization represent unsettled stars, magenta spheres represent settled stars, and the white cubes are starships in transit. The computer code and the mathematical analysis for this was project were written at the University of Rochester by Jonathan Carroll-Nellenback. Astronomer Adam Frank from the University of Rochester also participated in the study….

(18) VIDEO OF THE DAY. In “Honest Game Trailers: Biomutant” on YouTube, Fandom Games says Biomutant is an example of the rare “cute furry animals with guns” genre where the protagonist is “basically Sid from the Ice Age movies as a mass murderer.”

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

Pixel Scroll 6/9/21 Self: Deaf Ents

(1) WITH THANKS. John Wiswell, Nebula winner for ”Open House on Haunted Hill,” has made his touching “Nebula Awards 2021 Acceptance Speech” a free post on his Patreon.

…Saying that, there’s one other author I cannot end this speech without thanking. It’s a little gauche, but I hope they’re listening.

Because my story, “Open House on Haunted Hill,” was rejected several times before Diabolical Plots gave it a chance. And in my career my various stories were rejected over 800 times before I won this award tonight. And that’s why I hope this author is listening.

You, who think you’re not a good enough writer because you don’t write like someone else.

You, who haven’t finished a draft because your project seems too quirky or too daunting.

You, who are dispirited after eating so many rejection emails.

You, who are going to write the things that will make me glad I’m alive to read them.

What the field needs is for you to be different, and to be true to your imagination….

(2) GOMEZ Q&A. In “A Point of Pride: Interview with Jewelle Gomez”, the Horror Writers Association blog continues its Pride Month series.

Do you make a conscious effort to include LGBTQ material in your writing and if so, what do you want to portray?

Because my life as a lesbian/feminist of colour is my context I don’t have to remind myself to include Queer material. That’s where I begin. There are, of course, other types of characters in my writing but my experience is centralised. I have a Queer social and political circle and they are easily represented in my work. For so long women, lesbians and people of colour were told our stories weren’t important, other (white) people wouldn’t be interested in them. Now we know that was just another way to dominate our experience. I long for the day that non-Queer writers and non-Black writers feel sensitive enough to do the research and include authentic characters in their work who don’t look like them.

(3) KIRK AT WORK. Thomas Parker revisits the history-making calendar at Black Gate: “First Impressions: Tim Kirk’s 1975 Tolkien Calendar”.

How does the old saying go? “You never get a second chance to make a first impression.” It’s often true that the first encounter has an ineradicable effect, whether the meeting is with a person, a work of art, or a world. It’s certainly true in my case; I had my first and, in some ways, most decisive encounter with Middle-earth before I ever read a word of The Lord of the Rings. My first view of that magical place came through the paintings of Tim Kirk, in the 1975 J.R.R. Tolkien Calendar, and that gorgeous, pastel-colored vision of the Shire and its environs is the one that has stayed with me. Almost half a century later, Kirk’s interpretation still lies at the bottom of all my imaginings of Tolkien’s world.

(4) CASTING THE MCU. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] I listened to this podcast Leonard and Jessie Maltin did with casting director Sarah Finn – “Maltin on Movies: Sarah Finn” Finn has cast every role in every film and TV series on Disney+ in the MCU, so she has a lot of inside knowledge.  Among her goals is to find actors who enjoy playing superheroes and like working with each other.  She also discusses why it was a gamble to cast Robert Downey, Jr. as Iron Man and why Vin Diesel was cast as Groot because of his voice work in The Iron Giant.

She also reveals Dwayne Johnson’s secret for success:  he is genuinely a nice guy who even volunteered to do the dishes after a casting call!

Finn also discusses her work as casting director on The Mandalorian and her work for Oliver Stone, including the gamble of having Eli Wallach play a substantial role at age 95 on Wall Street:  Money Never Sleeps.

This was a very informative podcast.

 (5) ONE SHOT. “Elizabeth Olsen Says WandaVision Won’t Have a Second Season: ‘It Is a Limited Series’” reports Yahoo!

Elizabeth Olsen has weighed in on the future of WandaVision – and sadly, fans shouldn’t expect there to be a second season.

“No, that’s easy for me to answer. It is a limited series. It’s a fully beginning, middle, end, and that’s it kind of thing,” she told PEOPLE in January ahead of the Disney+ show’s premiere. 

During a recent virtual chat with Kaley Cuoco for Variety‘s Actors on Actors series, Olsen once again echoed her comments about the series likely not returning for season 2…. 

(6) PRO TIP. Tade Thompson triages his email:

(7) GRANTS AVAILABLE. The Ladies of Horror Fiction review site are offering nine 2021 LOHF Writers Grants. Applications must be submitted by August 31.

Nine recipients will receive the LOHF Writers Grant in the amount of $100. The Ladies of Horror Fiction team will announce the recipients of the LOHF Writers Grant on September 15, 2021.

The LOHF Writers Grant is inclusive to all women (cis and trans) and non-binary femmes who have reasonably demonstrated a commitment to writing in the horror genre. All grant provided funds must be used in a manner that will help develop the applicant’s career.

The grants are funded by Steve Stred, Laurel Hightower, Ben Walker, S.H. Cooper, Sonora Taylor, and several anonymous donors.

(8) TEN FOR THE PRICE OF FIVE. Two entries from James Davis Nicoll from the pages of Tor.com:

“Five SFF Characters You Should Never, Ever Date”.

Science fiction and fantasy are rich in characters who deserve (and sometimes find) rewarding personal relationships. There are also characters that other characters should never, ever date. Ever. Here are five fictional characters from whom all prospective love interests should run screaming…

“Five SF Books About Living in Exile”.

Few calamities sting like being driven from the land one once called home. Exile is therefore a rich source of plots for authors seeking some dramatic event to motivate their characters. You might want to consider the following five books, each of which features protagonists (not all of them human) forced to leave their homes….

(9) CORA ON CONAN. Cora Buhlert’s latest Retro Review is of one of the less known Conan stories that was not published in Howard’s lifetime: “Retro Review: ‘The God in the Bowl’ by Robert E. Howard or Conan Does Agatha Christie”.

…Unlike the two previous stories, “The God in the Bowl” remained unpublished during Howard’s lifetime and appeared for the first time in the September 1952 issue of the short-lived magazine Space Science Fiction. Why on Earth editor Lester del Rey decided that a Conan story was a good fit for a magazine that otherwise published such Astounding stalwarts as George O. Smith, Clifford D. Simak and Murray Leinster will probably forever remain a mystery.

As for why I decided to review this particular Conan story rather than some of the better known adventures of our favourite Cimmerian adventurer (which I may eventually do), part of the reason is that the story just came up in a conversation I had with Bobby Derie on Twitter. Besides, I have been reading my way through the Del Rey Robert E. Howard editions of late and realised that there are a lot of layers to those stories that I missed when I read them the first time around as a teenager.

(10) INSIDER WADING. The next Essence of Wonder With Gadi Evron will be abouts “Future of the HUGO, ASTOUNDING and LODESTAR Awards: Worldcon Insiders Discuss the History and Trends”. Register at the link.

Three Worldcon insiders, Tammy Coxen, Nicholas Whyte, and Vincent Docherty will join Gadi and Karen to discuss the Hugo, Astounding, and Lodestar awards, their history, and current trends.

Like last year, we will be interviewing category nominees in the next few months, with this show as the opening segment.

(11)  GAME WRITING ARCHIVE. Eatonverse tweets highlights of the UC Riverside’s Eaton Collection of Science Fiction and Fantasy. Today’s rarity is from Marc Laidlaw —

(12) HERE THEY COME AGAIN. Those pesky aliens.Invasion launches on October 22 on Apple TV+.

(13) MEMORY LANE.

  • 1971 — Fifty years ago at Noreascon 1 which had Robert Silverberg as its Toastmaster, The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction won the Hugo for Best Professional Magazine. It was its third such Hugo win in a row, and seventh to that date.  

(14) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]

  • Born June 9, 1911 – J. Francis McComas.  With Raymond Healy (1907-1997) edited the pioneering and still excellent anthology Adventures in Time and Space – and got Random House to publish it.  Thus although not having planted the crops, he knew to harvest: they also serve who only sit and edit.  With Anthony Boucher (1911-1969) founded The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, the best thing to happen among us since Astounding.  Half a dozen stories of his own.  Afterward his widow Annette (1911-1994) edited The Eureka Years; see it too.  (Died 1978) [JH]
  • Born June 9, 1925 – Leo R. Summers.  Twenty covers for Fantastic, eight for Amazing, six for Analog; six hundred interiors.  Here is a Fantastic cover; here is one for Analoghere is an interior for H.B. Fyfe’s “Star Chamber” from Amazing.  A fruitful career.  (Died 1985) [JH]
  • Born June 9, 1925 — Keith Laumer. I remember his Bolo series fondly and read quite a bit of it. Can’t say which novels at this point though Bolo definitely and Last Command almost certainly. The Imperium and Retief series were also very enjoyable though the latter is the only one I’d re-read at this point. The usual suspects  have decent though not complete ebooks listings for him, heavy on the Imperium and Retief series and they’ve just added a decent Bolo collection too. (Died 1993.) (CE)
  • Born June 9, 1930 — Lin Carter. He is best known for his work in the 1970s as editor of the Ballantine Adult Fantasy series. As a writer, His first professional publication was the short story “Masters of the Metropolis”, co-written with Randall Garrett, in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, April 1957. He would be a prolific writer, average as much as six novels a year. In addition, he was influential as a critic of the fantasy genre and an early historian of the genre. He wrote far too much for me to say I’ve sampled everything he did but I’m fond of his CastilloGreat Imperium and Zarkon series. All great popcorn literature! (Died 1988.) (CE) 
  • Born June 9, 1931 – Joanie Winston.  Vital spark of Star Trek fandom; co-founder of the first Trek convention, got Gene Roddenberry to attend; co-organized the next four; became a sought-after guest herself.  Reported in The Making of the Trek Conventions, or How to Throw a Party for 12,000 of Your Most Intimate Friends, got it published by Doubleday and Playboy.  Appreciation by OGH here.  Quite capable of playing poker at a 200-fan relaxacon rather than bask in glory at a Trek megacon the same weekend.  (Died 2008) [JH]
  • Born June 9, 1934 — Donald Duck, 87. He made his first appearance in “The Wise Little Hen” on June 9th, 1934. In this cartoon as voiced by Clarence Nash, Donald and his friend, Peter Pig (also voiced by Nash), lie their way out of helping the titular little hen tend to her corn. Donald Duck was the joint creation of Dick Lundy, Fred Spencer, Carl Barks, Jack King and Jack Hannah though Walt Disney often would like you to forget that. You can watch it here. (CE)
  • Born June 9, 1943 – Joe Haldeman, age 78.  Two dozen novels, eighty shorter stories; ninety published poems.  Seven Hugos, five Nebulas; three Rhyslings; Tiptree (as it then was); Skylark.  Edited Nebula Awards 17.  Pegasus Award for Best Space Opera Song. SFWA (Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America) Grand Master.  Science Fiction Hall of Fame.  Guest of Honor at – among others – Windycon I and 20, Disclave 21, Beneluxcon 7, ConFiction the 48th Worldcon.  Wide range has its virtues; he’s told how one story sold at a penny a word and five years later was adapted for television at five times as much; also “I don’t have to say Uh-oh, I’d better get back to that novel again; I can always write a poem or something.”  [JH]
  • Born June 9, 1954 — Gregory Maguire, 67. He is the author of Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West based off of course the Oz Mythos, Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister retelling the tale of Cinderella and Mirror, Mirror, a revisionist retelling of the Snow White tale which is really excellent. Well you get the idea. He’s damn good at this revisionist storytelling. (CE) 
  • Born June 9, 1963 — David Koepp, 58. Screenwriter for some of the most successful SF films ever done: Jurassic  Park (co-written with Michael Crichton), The Lost World: Jurassic Park, War of The Worlds and, yes, it made lots of money, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. He won a Hugo for Jurassic Park which won Best Dramatic Presentation at ConAdian. (CE)
  • Born June 9, 1966 – Christian McGuire, age 55.  Co-chaired eight Loscons.  Chaired Westercon 63, Conucopia the 7th NASFiC (N. Am. SF Con, held when the Worldcon is overseas), L.A.con IV the 64th Worldcon.  A founder of Gallifrey One; chaired or co-chaired its first 12 years.  Fan Guest of Honor at Baycon 2002, Westercon 51, Capricon 29, Loscon 36.  Evans-Freehafer Award (L.A. Science Fantasy Soc.; service).  [JH]
  • Born June 9, 1967 – Dave McCarty, age 54.  Chaired three Capricons.  Chaired the 70th Worldcon, Chicon 7, which by our custom means the seventh Worldcon in the same town with continuity from the same community.  No one else has managed this, or come close; the nearest have been Noreascon Four (62nd Worldcon), L.A.con IV (64th), and Aussiecon 4 (68th). Also served as Hugo Awards Administrator, and on the World SF Society’s Mark Protection Committee, two of our least conspicuous and most demanding tasks.  Fan Guest of Honor at Windycon 28, Capricon 38.  [JH]
  • Born June 9, 1981 — Natalie Portman, 40. Surprisingly her first genre role was as Taffy Dale in Mars Attacks!, not as Padme in The Phantom Menace. She’d repeat that role in Attack of The Clones and Revenge of The Sith. She’d next play Evey in V for Vendetta. And she played Jane Foster twice, first in Thor: The Dark World and then in Avengers: Endgame. She’ll reprise the role in Thor: Love and Thunder in which she’ll play both Jane Foster and Thor. That I’ve got to see. (CE) 

(15) PET SHOP. “’DC League of Super-Pets’ Cast: Kevin Hart, Keanu Reeves, More Join Dwayne Johnson” reports Deadline.

The cast for the upcoming animated movie, DC League of Super-Pets, includes Dwayne Johnson as Krypto and Kevin Hart as Ace. The cast also features Kate McKinnon, John Krasinski, Vanessa Bayer, Natasha Lyonne, Diego Luna, and Keanu Reeves. The movie will be released May 20, 2022.

(16) LIGHTS ON LANGFORD. Cora Buhlert continues her Fanzine Spotlight by interviewing David Langford about his famed newzine: “Fanzine Spotlight: Ansible”.

Who are the people behind your site or zine?

In theory it’s just me. In practice I couldn’t keep going without all the correspondents who send obituaries, interesting news snippets, more obituaries, convention news, too many obituaries, and contributions to such regular departments as As Others See Us and Thog’s Masterclass. The first collects notably patronizing or ignorant comments on the SF genre from the mainstream media, with special attention to authors who write science fiction but prefer to pretend they don’t (Margaret Atwood once explained that SF was “talking squids in outer space” and since she didn’t write /that/ she had to be innocent of SF contamination). Thog’s Masterclass is for embarrassingly or comically bad sentences in published fiction, not always SF — as well as the usual genre suspects, the Masterclass has showcased such luminaries as Agatha Christie, Vladimir Nabokov and Sean Penn.

(17) TAKES TWO TO TANGO. Galactic Journey’s Gideon Marcus tells the good and the bad news about the latest (in 1966) US space mission: “[June 8, 1966] Pyrrhic Victory (the flight of Gemini 9) – Galactic Journey”.

…Scheduled for May 17, 1966, Gemini 9 was supposed to be the first real all-up test of the two-seat spacecraft.  Astronauts Tom Stafford (veteran of Gemini 6) and Gene Cernan would dock with an Agena and conduct a spacewalk.  If successful, this would demonstrate all of the techniques and training necessary for a trip to the Moon. 

The first bit of bad luck involved the Agena docking adapter.  Shortly after liftoff on the 17th, one of the booster engines gimballed off center and propelled rocket and Agena into the Atlantic ocean.  The two astronauts, bolted into their Gemini capsule for a launch intended for just a few minutes after, had to abort their mission.

Luckily, NASA had a back-up: the Augmented Target Docking Adapter (ADTA).  The ADTA was basically an Agena without the engine.  A Gemini could practice docking with it, but the ADTA can’t be used as an orbital booster for practice of the manuever that Apollo will employ when it breaks orbit to head for the Moon.

ADTA went up on June 1, no problem.  But just seconds before launch, the Gemini 9 computer refused navigational updates from the Cape.  The launch window was missed, and once again, Tom and Gene were forced to scrub.  Stafford got the nickname “Prince of the Pad.”…

(18) CULINARY FAME IS FLEETING. The New Yorker’s Jason Siegel and Maeve Dunigan take up the tongs as “A Food Critic Reviews the Swedish Chef’s New Restaurant”.

When I heard that the Swedish Chef from “The Muppet Show” was opening a Chelsea location of his celebrated bistro, Dorg Schnorfblorp Horganblorps, I was skeptical. I’m always hesitant to believe the hype surrounding celebrity chefs, especially when they’re made of felt. While the city was abuzz, calling Mr. Muppet the new Jean-Georges Vongerichten, I was certain that this newcomer was nothing more than a passing fad, a Swedish Salt Bae. But, after such a tough year for restaurants, I was curious about how this mustachioed madman’s gimmick had sustained its popularity. Eventually, I decided that I had to go see for myself—could the Swedish Chef’s bites ever live up to his bark, or bork?

Dorg Schnorfblorp Horganblorps has been open for only three months but already has a wait list that extends to the end of the year. I was amazed that anyone could get a reservation at all, considering that the restaurant’s Web site contains no helpful links or information, only a gif of a turkey being chased by the chef wielding a tennis racquet, captioned, “Birdy gerdy floopin.”…

(19) WHO THAWS THERE? Mike Wehner reports “Scientists revived a creature that was frozen in ice for 24,000 years” at Yahoo!

It sounds like the plot from a cheese science fiction movie: Scientists unearth something that’s been buried in the frozen ground of the Arctic for tens of thousands of years and decide to warm it up a bit. The creature stirs as its cells slowly wake up from their long stasis. As time passes, the animal wakes up, having time-traveled 24,000 years thanks to its body’s ability to shut itself down once temperatures reached a certain low. It sounds too incredible to be true, but it is.

In a new paper published in Current Biology, researchers reveal their discovery of a microscopic animal frozen in the Arctic permafrost for an estimated 24,000 years. The creature, which would have lived in water during its previous life, was revived as the soil thawed. The discovery is incredibly important not just for the ongoing study of creatures found frozen in time here on Earth.

The tiny creature is called a bdelloid rotifer. These multicellular animals live in aquatic environments and have a reputation for being particularly hardy when it comes to frigid temperatures. They are obviously capable of surviving the process of being frozen and then thawed, and they’re not the only tiny animal to have this ability….

(20) HAVE AN APPLE, DEARIE. Atlas Obscura would like you to “Meet the Appalachian Apple Hunter Who Rescued 1,000 ‘Lost’ Varieties”. Daniel Dern sent the link with two comments: “1: I don’t know whether any of these are better at keeping doctor away. 2: Have they been tested for ‘putting people to deep-sleep’?”

AS TOM BROWN LEADS A pair of young, aspiring homesteaders through his home apple orchard in Clemmons, North Carolina, he gestures at clusters of maturing trees. A retired chemical engineer, the 79 year old lists varieties and pauses to tell occasional stories. Unfamiliar names such as Black Winesap, Candy Stripe, Royal Lemon, Rabun Bald, Yellow Bellflower, and Night Dropper pair with tales that seem plucked from pomological lore.

Take the Junaluska apple. Legend has it the variety was standardized by Cherokee Indians in the Smoky Mountains more than two centuries ago and named after its greatest patron, an early-19th-century chief. Old-time orchardists say the apple was once a Southern favorite, but disappeared around 1900. Brown started hunting for it in 2001 after discovering references in an Antebellum-era orchard catalog from Franklin, North Carolina….

(21) TEFLON CRUELLA. The New York Times speculates about “The Surprising Evolution of Cruella De Vil”:

From a calm socialite, she morphed into an unhinged puppy kidnapper and then a vindictive glamourpuss. Why don’t we hate her?

And for dessert, here’s a Cruella parody video.

(22) CAN YOU MAKE A WALL OF TEXT? The Lego Typewriter has some moving parts that simulate a real typewriter but, no, you can’t produce copy with it. At the link is a video of the assembled 2000+ piece project.

(23) BREAKING INTO THE MCU. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In “The Marvel Character Tutorial” on Screen Rant, Ryan George plays Marvel screenwriter “Richard Lambo,” who says if you are trying to sell a screenplay to Marvel, make sure he or she has plenty of abs (four will do, but a six-pack is best) and leave plenty of room for snark!

(24) VIDEO OF THE DAY. In “Honest Game Trailers: Returnal,” Fandom Games says that Sony’s new game puts you “in a Gigeresque sci-fi setting” where your goal is “to kill all the wildlife” in a game so depressing that Sony should “just throw away the game and have someone come over and kick you in the scrotum” to achieve the same painful effect. (Or “slamming your face into a brick wall” is mentioned at another place, if the first option isn’t available.)

[Thanks to John Hertz, Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, Martin Morse Wooster, James Davis Nicoll, Daniel Dern, Gadi Evron, Cora Buhlert, JJ, Michael Toman, John King Tarpinian, and Cat Eldridge for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to contributing editor of the day Niall McAuley.]

Pixel Scroll 6/7/21 Scroll Up The Usual Pixels

(1) THE PLAY’S THE THING. “’Game of Thrones’ Broadway show to be written by George R.R. Martin”CNBC has the story. I know there’s an obligatory comment expected here, but personally I’m glad there are things he wants to write.

The author behind the mega-hit “A Song of Ice and Fire” book series, which was the basis for HBO’s Emmy Award-winning series “Game of Thrones,” is now writing a script for a play based in the fantasy world of Westeros.

The Hollywood Reporter said Tuesday that the play will center around the Great Tourney at Harrenhal and debut in New York, London and Australia in 2023. Martin will work with playwright Duncan Macmillan (“1984”) and theater director Dominic Cooke on the project.

The Great Tourney at Harrenhal is an important historical event in the world of Westeros. Occurring 16 years before the events of HBO’s “Game of Thrones,” the contest took place over 10 days and included tournaments of jousting, archery and combat. It is also the place where Prince Rhaegar Targaryen created a nationwide scandal for dedicating his victory to Lyanna Stark instead of his wife. This decision led to Robert’s Rebellion and the Targaryens being overthrown….

(2) AUSTRALASIAN HORROR Q&A. The Redback Room is an initiative of the Australasian Horror Writers Association. Every two months, host Kyla Lee Ward will interview two horror writers from Australasia – emerging or established. In Redback Room Episode 1, Kyla talks to Australia’s most awarded horror writer, Kaaron Warren, and award-winning writer and president of the AHWA, Alan Baxter.

(3) POPULAR CREATED LANGUAGES. “League of languages” helps attract attention to what is probably a marketing site for language tutoring with its articles and statistics about fictional languages – for example, Elvish and Klingon:

For decades, fantasy and sci-fi have dominated our screens and books. To fully immerse a viewer into a fictional world, language is one of the commonly used tricks to give a sense of realness.

Typically, most films and TV shows will speak gibberish or simply create just a few words or phrases that are featured in a scene. However, some of these fictional languages have evolved into fully developed languages that can be learnt and used during coherent conversations.

We analysed the top 5 most popular fictional languages and compared speakers, learners, inspirations and word count to find out which fantasy world has the best made-up language.

So whether you’re looking for a new hobby, to feel part of a fandom or simply want to know more about linguistics from your favourite film or TV show, read our guide on the most popular fictional languages.

I wondered if this is really true, though:

Key Facts:

  • More people speak Elvish than Irish.

(4) TRADPUB HORROR. Entertainment Weekly has a conversation with “Zakiya Dalila Harris on her novel The Other Black Girl”.

Three years ago, Zakiya Dalila Harris was an assistant editor at Knopf Doubleday Publishing. Now, she’s the author of a novel that garnered a seven-figure book contract (after a 14-bidder auction) and an adaptation deal at Hulu. The Other Black Girl is best described as The Devil Wears Prada meets Get Out, with a little bit of Black Mirror thrown in. It follows Nella, a book-publishing assistant who clashes with the only other Black employee in her department. As things escalate (like anonymous threatening notes left on Nella’s desk), she begins to suspect there’s something more sinister behind their professional competition. Here, Harris, 28, offers up her process — and it’s anything but beginner’s luck.

Did you feel pressure to write a happy ending?

I definitely didn’t want a happy ending. I was really inspired by Night of the Living Dead; I love endings that are frustrating or nerve-racking. I think I subconsciously wanted to drive home the pressures that Black people are under in corporate America — I didn’t want any of the characters to be able to get out of their situations easily, because that would just reinforce the notion that it’s on Black folks to resist the system, instead of on white folks to change the system.

(5) BOXING MATCH. Io9 is shocked, I tell you, by news of “Loki Charms: Marvel’s Limited Edition Cereal Disney+ Tie-In”.

Loki has done some horrible things in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, including murdering Phil Coulson and leading an alien invasion of Earth in which countless people died. But now the Norse god of mischief has gained control of Lucky Charms cereal, and this crime is beyond the pale….

(6) DON’T DO THE CRIME IF YOU CAN’T DO THE TIME. Meanwhile, let Vanity Fair tell you everything they know about the series: “’Loki’: A Complete Beginner’s Guide to Marvel’s New Show”.

Where Is Loki? This is where things get a little complicated but also pretty fun. The Loki series is set inside the world of something called the TVA, or Time Variance Authority. Don’t worry even a little bit if you feel confused here; the Loki premiere spends plenty of time explaining the rules and regulations of this place.

Here, though, are the basics: The TVA is a futuristic bureaucratic organization tasked with cleaning up messy timeline shenanigans due to the aforementioned time travel. In the MCU, when a timeline is messed with, that timeline splits off into its own reality. As you might imagine, this makes things complicated. Loki escaping from a 2012 film a full six years before his date with death in 2018? Messy. In other words, Loki enters the show, and the TVA, as a time criminal. (Fun, right?) The TVA was created in the future, but it exists outside of time. But I’m not sure you really need to worry about that yet. 

(7) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

  • 1974 — At DisCon II where the Toastmaster was andrew j. offutt,  Arthur C. Clarke wins a Hugo for Rendezvous With Rama. (It also won a Campbell, Locus and Nebula.) It was published first in Galaxy (the September/ October 1973 issue) and had its first hardcover printing by Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1973.  Other nominated works that year were Time Enough for Love by Robert A. Heinlein, Protector by Larry Niven, The People of the Wind by Poul Anderson and The Man Who Folded Himself by David Gerrold. 

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]

  • Born June 7, 1844 – Robert Milne.  Rediscovered by Sam Moskowitz, who helped collect RM’s stories for Into the Sun.  Eleven there; fifty more not yet reprinted, e.g. “The Great Electric Diaphragm”, “A Dip into the Doings of the Four-Dimensional World”, “What the Great Instrument in the Lick Observatory Observed”.  Even I found the Into the Sun stories and four more here.  (Died 1899) [JH]
  • Born June 7, 1932 – Kit Reed.  Sixteen novels for us, a hundred forty shorter stories; fourteen other novels.  First published in The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction under Boucher.  Guggenheim Fellow.  Called herself a trans-genred writer.  (Died 2017) [JH]
  • Born June 7, 1946 – Jon White.  Fanziner and bookseller.  Revived Inside in 1962, brought in Leland Sapiro who renamed it Riverside Quarterly (after a famous dwelling in New York).  Here is the front cover by Atom (Arthur Thomson) for vol. 1 no. 2.  (Died 2004) [JH]
  • Born June 7, 1949 – Real Musgrave, age 72.  Graphic artist who has maintained a fannish connection.  Artist Guest of Honor at Westercon XLI (here (PDF) is its Program Book); exhibited at Magicon the 50th Worldcon.  Here is a cover for Fantasy Review.  Pocket Dragons, done as drawings, figurines, animated television series.  Brother of astronaut Story Musgrave.  [JH]
  • Born June 7, 1952 — Liam Neeson, 69. He first shows up in genre films as Gawain in Excalibur and as Kegan in Krull. He plays Martin Brogan In High Spirits, a film I enjoy immensely. Next up is the title role in Darkman, a film I’ve watched myriad times. He’s Dr. David Marrow In The Haunting which I’d contend is loosely off of The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson. Now we get him as Qui-Gon Jinn in The Phantom Menace. Followed unfortunately by his horrid take as Ra’s al Ghul in Batman Begins and as a cameo in the The Dark Knight RisesNow he voiced Aslan with amazing dignity in The Chronicles of Narnia franchise and I hope voiced Zeus as well in the Titans franchise. (CE) 
  • Born June 7, 1954 – Louise Erdrich, age 67.  In the first class of women admitted to Dartmouth (A.B., English; later, honorary Litt. D. and Commencement speaker).  Member of Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians; her grandfather was tribal chief.  Nat’l Book Award for Fiction, Lib. Cong. Prize for Amer. Fiction, Amer. Acad. Poets Prize, Pushcart Prize.  Love Medicine, only début novel to win the Nat’l Book Critics Circle Award for Fiction.  Children’s books; Scott O’Dell Award for The Game of Silence.  World Fantasy Award for The Antelope Wife; three more novels in our field; interviewed in Lightspeed.  [JH]
  • Born June 7, 1968 — Sarah Parish, 53, In “The Runaway Bride“, a Tenth Doctor story, she got to play, with the assistance of extensive CGI, one of the nastiest Who villains to date, The Empress of the Racnoss, an oversized vicious spider with a human face. Great episode. It’s our introduction to Donna Noble, his Companion for quite some time to come. In a much lighter role, she played Pasiphaë on BBC’s Atlantis series. (CE)
  • Born June 7, 1969 — Anthony Simcoe, 52, Ka D’Argo in  Farscape, one of the best SF series ever done. If you don’t watch anything else, just watch the finale, The Peacekeeper Wars as it’s reasonably self-contained. Farscape is the only SF he did. If you can find a copy, Matt Bacon’s No Strings Attached: The Inside Story of Jim Henson’s Creature Shop, it is a wonderful look at the creation of the creatures on the show including D’Argo facial appendages. (CE) 
  • Born June 7, 1972 — Karl Urban, 49. He’s in the second and third installments of The Lord of the Rings trilogy as Éomer. He has was McCoy in the Trek reboot franchise, Cupid on Xena: Warrior Princess and Hercules: The Legendary Journeys, John Kennex on Almost Human, Vaako in the Riddick film franchise, and Judge Dredd in Dredd. For the record, I liked both Dredd films for different reasons. (CE) 
  • Born June 7, 1974 — David Filoni, 47. Creator and an executive producer on Star Wars Rebels, a most awesome series, for all four seasons, and was supervising director and a writer on another excellent series, Star Wars: The Clone Wars. (I like the animated series far better than the live action films.) He makes his live acting debut in The Mandalorian playing Trapper Wolf, an X-Wing pilot, in “The Prisoner” episode. It’s also worth noting that he his first job was directing episodes during the first season of animated series Avatar: The Last Airbender (CE)  
  • Born June 7, 1979 — Anna Torv, 42. She’s best known for her role as FBI agent Olivia Dunham on Fringe. She also played an ITU nurse in Frankenstein, a modern adaptation of that novel. She voiced the lead of Nariko in the animated Heavenly Sword film based off the game of the same name. (CE) 
  • Born June 7, 1990 – Adam Silvera, age 31. Four novels for us, a shorter story; three other novels.  Two NY Times Best-Sellers.  Has read While Mortals SleepAnimal FarmKnow the Past, Find the Future (NY Public Lib’y centennial); The Little PrinceThe Magic Shop (Wells); The Phantom TollboothFahrenheit 451.  [JH]

(9) COMICS SECTION.

  • Grant Snider of Incidental Comics depicts his inner critic.

(10) STOP THE PRESSES! Or at least slow them down a little: “’Paddington 2’ Loses Top Movie Honor Due to New Bad Review” says The Hollywood Reporter.

Not to be the bearer of bad news, but Paddington 2 has lost its recently obtained honor as the best movie of all time according to Rotten Tomatoes’ freshness ratings.

You’ll recall the headlines last month when Citizen Kane lost its decades-long 100 percent rating on the critic aggregation site due to a newly discovered negative review from 1941. The disruption caused fans to declare 2018’s much-beloved Paddington 2 as the new best film since it now had the most reviews of any title that also had a 100 percent rating.

Now, there’s been another update that changes all that.

A new review has knocked Paddington down a branch — to a 99 percent scoreThe review was from Film Authority and critic Eddie Harrison, who seemed to know precisely what he was doing, somewhat defensively noting, “I reviewed Paddington 2 negatively for BBC radio on release in 2017, and on multiple occasions after that, and I stand by every word of my criticism.”

(11) CATCHING HELL. Calgary author Marc Watson, who has been published on flash fiction site www.101words.org, as well as comedy site www.thecorrectness.com, begins a new fantasy series with Catching Hell Part 1: Journey.

In the distant future, two young men are thrust into unknown worlds—worlds they were raised to fear.

Aryu, the Boy with Wings, enters a realm where magic rules. Guided by the conflicted phoenix Nixon Ash, a creature sent to kill him, Aryu must confront the powerful, immortal Embracers and the balance of Everything and Nothing they inhabit. Meanwhile, Johan navigates a futuristic world, seeking a means to defeat the robotic Army of the Old destructively marching across their homeland, and reunite with his best friend.

(12) WHEN IN ROME. This vending machine will turn out a pizza in the time it takes to soft-boil an egg:

It is barely a few square meters large, just enough space for three vending machines side by side. In via Catania 2, in Rome, the first store for automatic express pizza was opened. Four flavors to select from: margherita, spicy salami, bacon and four cheeses; three minutes of waiting, which can be [whiled away] by following the different stages of preparation, and that’s it.

(13) LIQUID REFRESHMENT. What could sound more out of this world than a drink called Unicorn Tears– MAD TASTY – and for $30 for a six-pack, it’ll have to do a lot to live up to that name.

Unicorn Tears is an exotic and mysterious blend of natural fruit flavors that is delightful on the nose and refreshing for the brain. Expand your bandwidth to conquer your day with this magical elixir.

Our Hemp-Forward Formulation
At 20 MG broad-spectrum hemp extract and less than 15 calories a can, our clean, restorative, and hydrating beverage was made to fit into any wellness routine. Our Oregon-farmed hemp is sourced and extracted for all the benefits and no earthy aftertaste. There is zero sugar or sweeteners and no complicated additives needed to mask the hemp flavor.

(14) JDA STAGES TRIUMPHAL PARADE ON THE INFORMATION SUPERHIGHWAY. Jon Del Arroz threw up a couple more videos today, one of them featuring comments by his lawyer Peter Sean Bradley. He had 42 viewers at peak — that was it. 

If somebody else’s blog was involved it would have been funny, So much of his screentime was meaninglessly devoted to displaying my post about the Nebula winners while he blathered in audio, then lovingly reviewed 770’s comments about his settlement. How did his lawyer get a word in edgewise?

Richard Fox also dropped in to demonstrate his solidarity with JDA’s ideas about racism:

And to horn in on JDA’s publicity by repeating his own lies about this blog (see “Perjury, Not Piracy Is The Problem”).

(15) BEZOS in SPAAAAAAAACE!The Washington Post reports “Jeff Bezos is going to space on Blue Origin’s first crewed spaceflight in July”.

A couple of weeks after Jeff Bezos officially steps down as CEO of Amazon, he’ll leap into something more mythic: riding to the edge ofspace aboard one of his own rockets, alongside his brother, in a flight that would fulfill a lifelong dream.

The plan is that Bezos, his brother, Mark, and the winner of an online auction for Blue Origin’s nonprofit foundation will be on the New Shepard on July 20 when it lifts off for a suborbital flight, the first time the spacecraft will carry passengers. The date is the anniversary of Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin’s Apollo 11 moon landing in 1969.The flight will mark a significant milestone for Blue Origin, which lags behind Elon Musk’s SpaceX in the competition for billions of dollars in NASA and Pentagon contracts and which flies a more powerful rocket capable of taking people and supplies into orbit….

Daniel Dern comments:

One wonders whether nobody in this loop has read the last (third?) of Heinlein’s The Man Who Sold The Moon (and/or the shorter followup, Requiem), where Delos D Harriman is prohibited from flying, due to a mix of health, insurance, (avoiding bad) publicity, etc.

One wonders whether his life insurance premiums are taking a brief spike. Yeah, he can afford them.

If nothing else, I’d love to see him at the launch site buying flight insurance. (I’m sure somebody will do, or already has, a video of this.)

(16) VIDEO OF THE DAY. In “Pirates of the Caribbean On Stranger Tides Pitch Meeting” on Screen Rant, Ryan George says the fourth Pirates of the Caribbean shows that, like other fourth films in franchises, the film practices “self-plagiarism, where the film goes through moments” people liked in the first three movies.  There’s also “hyper-specific magic with very vague backgrounds,” so there’s a great deal about the power of fresh mermaids’ tears (old ones won’t work) just to bring mermaids into the movie.

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

Pixel Scroll 6/3/21 An Iron Pixel In A Velvet Scroll

(1) LAFFERTY FANS. LAFFCON, the annual celebration of science fiction author R. A. Lafferty, returns June 12, 2021. LAFFCON is a free event and open to the public. This year’s conference will be held online via Zoom. Register now.

(2) STORYBUNDLE. The 2021 Pride Bundle, curated by Catherine Lundoff and Melissa Scott, Includes our Heather Rose Jones’ 3rd Alpennia book. (Available for another 28 days.)

We’re back again with another queer-themed bundle for Pride — five books in the main bundle and a generous eleven in the bonus, for a total of sixteen if you spring for the bonus. As has become usual, we were spoiled for choice: there are just so many writers out there for whom intelligent, nuanced queer writing is their default mode. There is never an easy way to winnow things down to a manageable number.

For StoryBundle, you decide what price you want to pay. For $5 (or more, if you’re feeling generous), you’ll get the basic bundle of five books in any ebook format—WORLDWIDE.

  • No Man’s Land by A.J. Fitzwater
  • Silver Moon by Catherine Lundoff
  • Dropnauts by J. Scott Coatsworth
  • Burning Bright by Melissa Scott
  • Highfeil Grimoires by Langley Hyde

If you pay at least the bonus price of just $15, you get all five of the regular books, plus eleven more books! That’s a total of 16.

  • The Four Profound Weaves by R. B. Lemberg
  • Succulents and Spells by Andi C. Buchanan
  • City of a Thousand Feelings by Anya Johanna DeNiro
  • Mother of Souls by Heather Rose Jones
  • Blood Moon by Catherine Lundoff
  • Spellbinding by Cecilia Tan
  • Glitter + Ashes edited by Dave Ring
  • Queens of Noise by Leigh Harlen
  • Stone and Steel by Eboni Dunbar
  • Skythane by J. Scott Coatsworth
  • Stories to Sing in the Dark by Matthew Bright

(3) DERN’S LATEST PROFILE ABOUT AN EE WHO WRITES SFF. [Item by Daniel Dern.] I’ve been doing a bunch of these (monthly), including Bruce Schneier (who’s directly sfnal via his crypto algorithm and appendix for Neal Stephenson’s Cryptonomicon). My latest, just up a week or so ago, is on S. B. Divya: “S.B. Divya: How This EE Combines Engineering With Writing Some of the Best Sci-Fi Around”, IEEE Spectrum, (online) May 21, 2021 (online); page 19, June 2021 issue.

Engineers often find themselves in the role of turning ideas that used to be science fiction into reality. So it’s natural that some of them turn the flow of ideas in the other direction, and become authors of science fiction. One such engineer-turned-writer is Divya Srinivasan Breed, who writes her science fiction as S.B. Divya, and whose stories have been nominated for Hugo and Nebula awards.

“In my novella Runtime (2016), my main character was putting together exoskeletons, hacking firmware, people were embedding chips in their bodies…. And my novel Machinehood (2021) reflects my understanding of where we are today and where we are headed in terms of machine intelligence, and where some of the trouble spots are, socially, for labor, economics, humanity, and ethics,” says Divya. All the engineering aspects “were things I had studied or done at my jobs.” …

(4) WIDE WORLD OF SFF. The Best of World SF: Volume 1 is editor Lavie Tidhar’s “The Big Idea”, as he explains to Whatever readers today:

…I set out to do this book because I didn’t think anyone would do it for me. I hunted for stories far and wide—picking up horror collections in Malaysia, getting writer friends in China to send me rough translations, translating stories myself from Hebrew, begging and cajoling to find writers in Latin America, Africa, Eastern Europe… And I pitched the first Apex Book of World SF to Jason Sizemore in 2008, by telling him it wasn’t going to make him any money but it was a good thing to do.

Improbably, he agreed….

(5) REVIVING CURIOSITY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] David Marchese has an interview with Neil deGrasse Tyson in the April 24 New York Times Magazine.  Topics include how to get the public interested in science, how he got his points across when being interviewed by Colbert and Jon Stewart, and, if the footnotes come through in the web version, why the proportions of Elsa in Frozen are all wrong. “Neil deGrasse Tyson Thinks Science Can Reign Supreme Again”.

In your work, you often bring up wanting to inculcate in people a scientific mind-set, which is a way of thinking that would help navigate misinformation. But we don’t always recognize misinformation for what it is. So what questions should people be asking themselves when they encounter material that’s skeptical about mainstream science? 

Let me first offer a transition from your question: I’ve gotten simultaneously famous and infamous for commenting on Twitter  on films and whether they get their science correct.

If something lands awkwardly, I ask myself, Could they have done that better or differently? Then later I comment. My defense is, if you are watching a period piece that takes place in the 1950s in L.A., and there’s a 1962 Chevy Bel Air on the road, and the person you see the movie with is a car buff and says, “That car wasn’t made yet,” you say, “That’s pretty good that you noticed that.” Or if you’re watching a Jane Austen period piece: The carriage rolls up, and somebody is wearing a derby instead of a top hat. If you’re a costume designer, you would cry foul. Those people aren’t criticized for making those observations. Because I’m bringing science to that table, people reject it unfairly. Now getting back to your point: What’s behind all this? The missing link is curiosity. Without curiosity you’re no longer probing for what is true. If someone says, “I saw Bigfoot the other day,” there are people who say, “Yeah, that’s great!” And people who say, “No, you’re full of [expletive]” — both of those responses require no brain work. What is the brain work I would like to see more of? It’s: Tell me more. When did you see this? Where did you see it? Did you find other evidence? You start probing. It’s the absence of curiosity that concerns me.

(6) PAVED WITH GOOD INTENTIONS. James Davis Nicoll knows the one thing that ruins even the best-designed plans: “Would-Be Utopias: Five Books Featuring Arcologies and Domed Cities”.

Strength of Stones by Greg Bear (1981)

Rather than settle their new world willy-nilly, the hopefuls who migrated to the planet they dubbed God-Does-Battle decided to start with a clear vision made into manifest reality. They hired Robert Kahn, humanity’s greatest architect, to design perfect cities, which they then built. Utopia could only result!

To quote Sartre, “Hell is other people.” Utopias tend to fell apart as soon as humans are introduced. Kahn’s cities had a simple solution: They expelled all the humans, to survive or not, as fate decreed on, the surface of God-Does-Battle. The arcologies were now free to operate without human complications.

A thousand years later, Kahn’s creations are beginning to run down, which may give the starvelings outside a chance to reclaim their lost homes.

(7) YOU ARE THERE. Galactic Journey livetweeted today’s (in 1966) Gemini 9 mission — There’s a concept for you!

(8) LISTEN TO THIS. “APA Says Audiobook Sales Rose 12% in 2020”Publishers Weekly has the numbers.

The Audio Publishers Association’s annual review of the audiobook market found another year of double-digit sales increases as well as a profound shift in listening habits.

In 2019, 43% of listeners said they most often listened to audiobooks in their car, a percentage that fell to 30% last year when work-at-home orders kept people from commuting to the office. The percentage of people who took part in the APA survey who said home was their preferred listening spot jumped to 55% in 2020, from 43% in 2019.

Despite concerns early in the pandemic that the plunge in commuting would lead to a drop in sales, the APA found that sales from the 27 companies that report results to the APA sales survey increased 12%, to $1.3 billion. The sales gain is in keeping with data from the AAP, whose preliminary figures also show a double-digit increase in audiobook sales.

The consumer part of the survey found that 67% of audiobook consumers said that one of the reasons they enjoy listening to audiobooks is to reduce screen time….

(9) NOT JUST A BABBLING BROOK. Radio Times’ Tom Chapman declares that “Doctor Who’s River Song is the best companion of all time”.

Since the BBC relaunched Doctor Who in 2005, there’s been a colourful cast of fan-favourite companions that have joined the time-travelling Time Lord. From the early days of Rose Tyler through to Martha Jones, the Ponds, Yasmin Khan and all the rest, each has brought something different to the table.

However, all of the above pale in comparison to a certain River Song, aka the wife of the Doctor, who first debuted in the series to acclaim 13 years ago today. (Don’t get too attached though – Steven Moffat claims she’s been married 428 times.)

While naming River so definitively as the greatest companion of all time is sure to spark a debate hotter than the Satan Pit, she rightly earns her place at the top thanks to her flirty and fearsome attitude – and a few other qualities that have helped her unlock more than just the door to the TARDIS. Though before we get into all that, it’s time for a trip down memory lane…

(10) GRAB YOUR BRICKS. The first ever LEGO CON is happening online June 26.

(11) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

  • June 3, 1991 — On this date in 1991, The Guyver premiered in the United States. Directed by Screaming Mad George (really) and Steve Wang, it was produced by Brian Yuzna from the screenplay by John Woo Jr.  It starred Mark Hamill, Vivian Wu, David Gale, Linnea Quigley, Michael Berryman and many others. The critics really, really didn’t like it and audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes currently give it a rating of just thirty-six percent. 

(12) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]

  • Born June 3, 1809 – Margaret Gatty.  Capable marine biologist; British Sea Weeds (1872) took 14 years, described 200 species, still used in the 1950s.  Also that year The Book of Sun-Dials, with 350; there’s a 2010 paperback reprint.  For us, founded and edited Aunt Judy’s Magazine with contributions by Lewis Carroll, Hans Christian Andersen, CaldecottCruikshank; books of parables and tales – Legendary Tales was illustrated by Phiz.  (Died 1873) [JH]
  • Born June 3, 1861 – Sophie Jewett.  Poet, translator; taught at Wellesley.  Rendered The Pearl in its original meter.  (Died 1909) [JH]
  • Born June 3, 1929 – Brian Lewis.  Ninety covers for New Worlds (here’s one), Science Fantasy (here’s one), Science Fiction Adventures (here’s one), for a few books, sometimes realistic, sometimes surrealistic; fifty interiors; also comics.  (Died 1978) [JH]
  • Born June 3, 1946 — Dame Penelope Alice Wilton DBE, 75. She played the recurring role of PM Harriet Jones in Doctor Who and became one of the most popular characters in it. She also played Homily in The Borrowers and The Return of the Borrowers as Shaun of the Dead as Barbara and The BFG as The Queen. (CE)
  • Born June 3, 1948 – Dale Payson, age 73.  Here is her cover for The Silver Crown.  Here is her frontispiece for The Sleepy Time Treasury.  Here is On Reading Palms.  Here is The Pop-Up Magic Castle Fairytale Book.  Outside our field, applauded for still-life and relatively-still  life paintings.  [JH]
  • Born June 3, 1950 — Melissa Mathison. Screenwriter for E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial. Spielberg credits the line “E.T. phone home” line to her. (She’s Eliot’s school nurse in the film.) She also wrote the screenplays for The Indian in the Cupboard and BFG with the latter being dedicated in her memory. And she wrote the “Kick the Can” segment of Twilight Zone: The Movie. (Died 2015.) (CE) 
  • Born June 3, 1958 — Suzie Plakson, 63. She played four characters on Trek series: a Vulcan, Doctor Selar, in “The Schizoid Man” (Next Gen); the half-Klingon/half-human Ambassador K’Ehleyr in “The Emissary” and “Reunion” (Next Gen); the Lady Q in “The Q and the Grey” (Voyager); and an Andorian, Tarah, in “Cease Fire” (Enterprise).  She also voiced Amazonia in the “Amazon Women in the Mood” episode of Futurama. Really. Truly. (CE)
  • Born June 3, 1960 – Daniel Horne, age 61.  Ten dozen covers, twoscore interiors.  Here is the Jan 89 Amazing.  Here is Spectrum 9.  Here is the Winter 2016 Baum Bugle (that’s King Rinkitink, about whom much in this issue).  Here is Vincent Price as Edward Lionheart in Theater of Blood.  Here is Arcadia.  Outside our field, here is President Lincoln.  [JH]
  • Born June 3, 1964 — James Purefoy, 57. His most recent genre performance was in the recurring role of Laurens Bancroft in Altered Carbon. His most impressive role was I think as Solomon Kane in the film of that name. He was also in A Knight’s Tale as Edward, the Black Prince of Wales/Sir Thomas Colville. He dropped out of being V in V for Vendetta some six weeks into shooting but some early scenes of the masked V are of him. (CE)
  • Born June 3, 1992 – William Broom, age 29.  Half a dozen short stories, two in Aurealis, two in Beneath Ceaseless Skies.  Here is a note last year at Rocket Stack Rank.  [JH]

(13) COMICS SECTION.

  • Off the Mark shows why a certain Marvel superhero movie horrified this audience.
  • Rhymes with Orange shows what you might find in a used time machine.
  • Macanudo suggests a corporate symbol that might represent a particularly alluring vampire meal:

(14) SPACEDOG. “Owl! at the Library” is here to surprise us with the fact that One Hundred and One Dalmatians, the novel, has a sequel called The Starlight Barking. I haven’t read it yet and already there are tears in my eyes… Thread starts here.

(15) RED FLAGS. Here’s your opportunity to learn from a professional why he’s self-rejecting from these short fiction markets. Joe Vasicek “Navigating Woke SF, Part 2: When Is It Not Worth Submitting?”

“Woke” is a slang term describing a basket of socioeconomic and political ideologies that are incompatible with and antithetical to individual rights and liberties. Taken to their logical conclusion, they end in the sort of totalitarian horrors the world saw in the 20th century (and continues to see today in communist China)….

.. So now, with a working definition of “woke” (promoting ideologies incompatible with and antithetical to individual rights and liberties) and the determination that wokeness is toxic in any degree, how can I tell if a market has gone truly woke?

…So with that in mind, what are the red flags?

1) Has the market won any awards that have gone completely woke?

Specifically, I’m thinking here of the Hugo Awards. They were trending to the left for a very long time, but 2015 was the year that they specifically went woke by voting “no award” over several deserving authors and editors. The transformation was completed in 2017, when the new rules shut out the Sad and Rabid Puppies, and both of those movements died out.

Therefore, if a short story market has won a Hugo since 2015 or been nominated for a Hugo since 2017, I’m not going to bother submitting to them. And if a market has had stories that have won or been nominated for a Hugo in those years, I’m going to ignore the market as well, unless it appears to be a fluke or a one-off.

2) Does the market have an explicit diversity statement in their submission guidelines?

…Therefore, if a market has an explicit diversity statement that contains woke signaling language, it’s going on the blacklist. Even if the market only put out a diversity statement to keep the woke mob from descending upon them, that’s still a sure sign that they’ve bent the knee….

3) Does the market publish content that is explicitly woke?

Editors always say that the best way to know what they’re looking for is to read a couple of issues or listen to a couple of episodes or stories. That seems like a reasonable standard, so I see no reason why I shouldn’t hold them to it.

Do the editors ever go off on explicitly woke political rants, or try to explain the message of the story in woke ideological terms? Do the author bios read like a checklist of woke intersectional identities? Are the stories themselves often thinly veiled rants about woke issues? Again, it’s important to apply the benefit of the doubt here, but you can tell a lot about a market by what they choose to publish. I won’t be wasting my time with the markets that regularly publish any of those things….

Vasicek also predicts a backlash is coming “that will shock the people who are too deeply ensconced in their echo chambers.” (Before you read that you didn’t know that Joe thought echo chambers were a bad thing, did you?)

(16) VENUS IF YOU WILL. Some like it hot: “NASA picks Venus as hot spot for two new robotic missions”AP has the story.

The space agency’s new administrator, Bill Nelson, announced two new robotic missions to the solar system’s hottest planet, during his first major address to employees Wednesday.

“These two sister missions both aim to understand how Venus became an inferno-like world capable of melting lead at the surface,” Nelson said.

One mission named DaVinci Plus will analyze the thick, cloudy Venusian atmosphere in an attempt to determine whether the inferno planet ever had an ocean and was possibly habitable. A small craft will plunge through the atmosphere to measure the gases.

It will be the first U.S.-led mission to the Venusian atmosphere since 1978.

The other mission, called Veritas, will seek a geologic history by mapping the rocky planet’s surface….

(17) HOT SHIRT. You can see Venus here, too. High Seas Trading Company has a new Planets / space themed Hawaiian shirt on offer, “A beautiful illustration of planets orbiting the sun.”

(18) SUPERSONIC AIR TRAVEL RETURNING? USA Today reports United Airlines has a deal to acquire the new aircraft if they make it over all the hurdles: “United Airlines: Concorde-like supersonic jet will halve travel time”.

…Overture, which is billed as an environmentally-friendly aircraft running only on up to 100% sustainable aviation fuel, is not expected to be introduced until 2025 and won’t fly until 2026. The first passengers won’t board until 2029, the companies said. Last year, Boom rolled out XB-1, a test aircraft.

The New York Times also reports that “United Airlines Wants to Bring Back Supersonic Air Travel”.

…United and Boom would not disclose financial details, including the cost of each plane, but Mr. Leskinen said the economics should be about the same as a new Boeing 787, a wide-body plane that airlines typically use on international routes. United has committed to buying the planes if Boom manages to produce them, secure regulatory approvals and hit other targets, like meeting its sustainability requirements.

Boom also plans to make planes for Japan Airlines, an investor in the company.

What is not clear is whether Boom has solved the problems that forced British Airways and Air France to stop using the Concorde on trans-Atlantic flights — high costs, safety concerns and flagging demand.

“There was no airline interest,” Henry Harteveldt, a travel industry analyst and consultant, said about why supersonic flights languished. “And a big part of the lack of airline interest was there were no engines that were commercially available that would allow a supersonic jet to be economically viable.”

Two decades later, some start-up companies, including Boom and Spike Aerospace, are pushing ahead with new designs and plans.

Boom, which is working with Rolls-Royce, the British jet engine maker, said its plane would be more efficient than the Concorde; United estimates it will be 75 percent more efficient. Boom’s planes will not be as noisy as the Concorde because their engines will create a sonic boom only when flying over water “when there’s no one to hear it,” said Boom’s chief executive, Blake Scholl, who previously worked at Amazon and Groupon.

(19) WATCH THE WATCH. Hypebeast thinks you should wind up with a “Sonic the Hedgehog x Seiko 30th Anniversary Watch”.

The watch dial references the Green Hill Zone from the SEGA game with an image of Sonic chasing golden ring hour markers at the four o’clock position. The inner bezel sees the game’s pixelated green grass along with other details like satin-blue finishing, a star second hand, a 1/20-second chronograph at 12 o’clock, a date function, and a commemorative box and card.

Limited to 3,000 pieces, the Sonic x Seiko 30th-anniversary quartz watch is priced at ¥49,800 JPY (approximately $450 USD) and is expected to be delivered in mid-August.

(20) VIDEO OF THE DAY. Robert Quaglia explains how this Bradbury conversation came to be.

Robert Sheckley speaks via teleconference with Ray Bradbury in the occasion of Bradbury’s 80th birthday. This happened in Bergamo in July 2000. But why actually in Bergamo? During his “genovese” period, when Robert Sheckley was living in Italy as a guest of Roberto Quaglia, suddenly Ray Bradbury became 80 years old, and people of Bergamo, Italy, had earlier invited Bradbury to Bergamo. But in the last moment Bradbury didn’t go, and knowing that Sheckley was in Italy, people of Bergamo decided to invite him so that Bradbury could speak with someone in a videoconference. This is the video of that unique – and to some extent bizarre – event. The moderator of the event is Corrado Augias.

[Thanks to Andrew Porter, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, John Owen, Lise Andreasen, James Davis Nicoll, Daniel Dern, Michael Toman, John King Tarpinian, Cat Eldridge, John Hertz, and Mike Kennedy for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to contributing editor of the day Kip Williams.]

Pixel Scroll 5/6/21 One Day, When The Scrolling’ Is Done, We’ll Tick The Box And Go

(1) BEYOND “MY BAD”. In this video Cat Rambo offers pro tips about “How to Screw Up”. Which maybe you thought you already knew how to do, right? That’s probably true. Cat’s advice is really about what to do afterwards.

(2) BONESTELLS SELL IN HERITAGE AUCTION. “Mars Illustration a Top Lot at $2.3-Million Heritage Auction”Fine Books and Collections has the story.

…Just a couple of months after the Perseverance Rover landing on Mars, Chesley Bonestell’s The Exploration of Mars book cover, Winged Rocket Ferry Orbits Mars Prior to Landing after 250-Day Flight, 1956 soared to $87,500, nearly three times its high pre-auction estimate. The offered image appeared on the cover of Wernher von Braun’s iconic book, The Exploration of Mars. The painting illustrates von Braun’s design for the space ship that would allow humans to go where no man had gone before.

A second work by Bonestell, Mars as Seen from the Outer Satellite, Deimos, The Solar System interior book illustration, 1961, brought a winning bid of $41,250.

(3) WOMEN’S PRIZE. [Item by Cora Buhlert.] The shortlist for the 2021 Women’s Prize for Fiction, an important UK literary award, has been announced. Piranesi by Susannah Clarke is one of the finalists. Another finalist is at least borderline SF and yet another is a crime novel: “Women’s prize for fiction shortlist entirely first-time nominees” in the Guardian. The winner will be announced July 7, and receive £30,000. 

The 2021 Women’s prize shortlist

(4) DOCTOR WHO BLOG TOUR. Titan Comics’ Doctor Who: Vol. 1: Alternating Current blog tour will be visiting File 770 on May 24 to share an art preview.

(5) NO STARTING GATE. In “The Art of Worldbuilding In Media Res” on CrimeReads, Nicole Kornher-Stace recommends novels by Lauren Beukes, Hannu Rajanemi, and Stephen Graham Jones for readers who want to start their novels with an action scene without a lot of backstory about how the world you are creating operates.

…Stephen Graham Jones’s The Only Good Indians starts practically in the middle of a parking-lot bar brawl, full of asides about events and characters that will make no sense to you until you get further in, but you’re being reeled into the story one sucker-punch of a sentence at a time. You don’t care that you don’t understand yet. You don’t need to. You’re immersed, and you realize distantly that you have no idea who or what is being referenced in some of these asides, but by that point you’re in it up to the eyeballs, and the only way out is through….

(6) NOT A SILENT MOVIE. A Quiet Place Part II will be in theatres May 28.

Following the deadly events at home, the Abbott family (Emily Blunt, Millicent Simmonds, Noah Jupe) must now face the terrors of the outside world as they continue their fight for survival in silence. Forced to venture into the unknown, they quickly realize that the creatures that hunt by sound are not the only threats that lurk beyond the sand path.

(7) THAT’S T-REX SHIRT, NOT T-SHIRT. [Item by Daniel Dern.] From the company that has brought great (but not all still available) planets’n’space designs (see “Shirts Are The Reason for the Season”), a dino-themed  Hawaiian shirt:

I don’t remember my dino chronology to know off-hand whether this is era-ologically inaccurate (were they all contemporaneous and in the Jurassic), but do we care?

I have several High Seas shirts already, they’re well made and worth the price.

I’d sent this to Robert J. Sawyer, since he’s a dinophile (or at least knowledgeable about ’em), for interest, along with my comment that I didn’t know enough to be sure whether the shirt was, chronologically, inaccurate/misleading. Here’s his reply, which he OK’d to use:

Robert J. Sawyer: “Very cool!  They aren’t all contemporaneous, sadly.  Triceratops (lower left) is the very end of the Cretaceous, for instance.  But it’s a great-looking shirt!”

(8) NEW ATTITUDE. Here’s an art piece of Guilala, the kaiju in 1967’s The X From Outer Space — as a muppet. The artist is Melanie Scott/

(9) STRANGER THINGS. In “Stranger Things 4 clip teases Hawkins National Laboratory footage, Eleven clip”, SYFY Wire sets the scene.

Whatever’s happening underground at Hawkins, it definitely looks sinister… but then again, didn’t it always? Netflix is seemingly hinting that new evils are brewing for Stranger Things 4, and they’re unfolding mostly out of sight, inside the secret government lab that formerly served as Eleven’s supernaturally cold childhood home.

(10) LEON OBIT. Talented comics artist John Paul Leon has died of cancer May 1 at the age of 49: “DC Remembers John Paul Leon 1972 – 2021” at the DC blog.

From his time drawing the iconic Milestone Media hero Static Shock while a junior at New York’s School of Visual Arts to his work on the genre-defining Earth X for Marvel in the late 1990s to his recent DC work with writer Kurt Busiek on Batman: Creature of the Night and the upcoming Batman/Catwoman Special, Leon brought his unmistakable take to everything that he touched.

DC executives and talent alike shared their thoughts across social media at the news of his passing. DC publisher and chief creative officer Jim Lee offered high praise for Leon, saying, “One of the greatest artists of our generation, he was also one of the nicest and most talented creators one could be lucky enough to have met.”…

(11) MEMORY LANE.

1971 –Fifty years ago, Mary Stewart won the first Mythopoeic Fantasy Award for The Crystal Cave. The other nominated works were The Marvellous Misadventures of Sebastian by Lloyd Alexander, Deryni Rising by Katherine Kurtz and Nine Princes in Amber by Roger Zelazny. She would later win another Mythopoeic Fantasy Award for The Hollow Hills novel. These would be her only genre awards. 

(12) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]

  • Born May 6, 1915 Orson Welles. Certainly the broadcast of “The War of the Worlds” in 1938 was his pinnacle of genre success but he also did for the Federal Theatre Project the 1936 adaptation of Macbeth with an entirely African American cast. That was known as the Voodoo Macbeth which might give you an idea of what he did to it. He would later do a more straightforward film of Macbeth. And of course he made a most excellent radio Shadow as well! (Died 1985.) (CE) 
  • Born May 6, 1923 – Gordon Davies.  Ninety covers for us; some other work e.g. the Eagle Annual.  Here is the Nov 52 Authentic.  Here is Earthlight.  Here is Space Cadet.  Here is C. Brown ed., Alien Worlds.  Here is M. Ashley ed., The History of the SF Magazine pt. 4.  (Died 1994) [JH]
  • Born May 6, 1927 – Gerard Quinn.  Fourscore covers, two hundred eighty interiors.  Here is Gateway to Tomorrow.  Here is Jack of Eagles.  Here is a drawing that appears to have been auctioned at Loncon I the 15th Worldcon.  Here is the Nov 61 New Worlds.  Here is the Apr/May 82 Extro.  Our Gracious Host’s appreciation here.  (Died 2015) [JH]
  • Born May 6, 1946 Nancy Kilpatrick, 75. Fangoria called her “Canada’s answer to Anne Rice”. I do recommend the anthology she edited Danse Macabre: Close Encounters with the Reaper as it’s a most excellent horror collection. She’s exceptionally well stocked at the usual suspects. (CE) 
  • Born May 6, 1950 – Craig Strete, age 71.  Six novels, threescore shorter stories for us; eight other novels.  Did this cover for Red Planet Earth 2 while editor.  First place in the 1984 Dramatists Guild – CBS New Plays Program.  Sometimes uses the name Sovereign Falconer; he is Cherokee.  [JH]
  • Born May 6, 1952 Michael O’Hare. He was best known for playing Commander Jeffrey Sinclair on Babylon 5.  Other genre appearances were limited — he played Fuller in the 1984 film C.H.U.D, was Jimmy in the “ Heretic” episode of Tales from the Darkside and appeared as a thug on the subway train in The Trial of the Incredible Hulk. And yes he’s one of many Babylon 5 actors who died well before they should’ve. (Died 2012.) (CE) 
  • Born May 6, 1955 – Barbara McClintock, age 66.  Half a dozen covers for us.  Here is The Red-Eared Ghosts.  Here is a Complete Tales of Uncle Remus (who, I respectfully suggest, deserves study, even with our modern reservations, however late we have been with them, in hand).  Various books and prizes; five NY Times Best Books, two Time Best Books.  Sets and costumes for the Minneapolis Children’s Theatre Twelve Dancing Princesses.  Illustrated for Jim Henson’s Fraggle Rock.  Website.  [JH]
  • Born May 6, 1962 – Kamil Vojnar, age 59.  Threescore covers.  Here is Killing Time.  Here is Flying in Place.  Here is Others of My Kind.  [JH]
  • Born May 6, 1969 Annalee Newitz, 52. They are the winner of a Hugo Award for Best Fancast At Dublin 2019 for “Our Opinions Are Correct”. And their novel Autonomous was a finalist for the Nebula Award for Best Novel, John W. Campbell Memorial Award and the Locus Award for Best First Novel while winning a Lambda Literary Award. They are also the winner of the Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award for best short science fiction, ”When Robot and Crow Saved East St. Louis”. (CE) 
  • Born May 6, 1983 – Ingrid Jonach, age 38.  One novel for us; three others.  “Once you finally understand that the world is round, there is no way to make it flat again.”  [JH]

(13) COMICS SECTION.

  • xkcd has a bit of a time warp.
  • While Dilbert has (theoretically) found a cure to racism.
  • Danish cartoonist Wulffmorgenthaler’s May 3 has Sauron visiting a construction side. Translation to English: “Hm… Well, I know art deco is beautiful, but we were thinking more like gothic and black for my tower…” Lise Andreasen says, “I love the orc driving The Eye around.)”

(14) HERE’S LOKI AT YOU, KID. SYFY Wire covers an announcement by “Marvel Studios’ Loki”.

Channeling Loki himself, Disney+ decided to pivot without warning by moving the debut of the character’s Marvel Cinematic Universe TV show up two days to Wednesday, June 9. In fact, all episodes of Loki will now premiere on Wednesdays, instead of the usual Friday window that was reserved for WandaVision and The Falcon and the Winter SoldierTom Hiddleston confirmed the news during a special video announcement that begins with an epic display of famous Marvel props: Iron Man’s helmet, Cap’s shield, and, of course, Thor’s hammer.

“Look, I’m sorry to interrupt,” Hiddleston says, abruptly cutting off the noble montage. “It’s just I’ve noticed that in these long superhero montages, Loki tends to get a bit left out, even though, arguably, he’s incredibly heroic himself [as well as] cunning and charming. I could go on, but maybe … why don’t I just prove it to you? Wednesdays are the new Fridays.”

(15) TRAILER ON STEROIDS. Screen Culture shares “DC’s The Batman (2022) Ultimate Trailer”.

Take a look at our ultimate trailer for Matt Reeves’ The Batman (2022), the trailer features footage from ‘The Batman Official Trailer’ as well as from previous Batman films and contains scenes that resonates with the actual plot for ‘The Batman’

(16) COMICS/GAME CROSSOVER.  Here’s a clip promoting Batman’s entry into Fortnite.

Featured in the new Batman/Fortnite: Zero Point comics, Grab the Batman Zero Outfit in the Fortnite Shop now!

(17) A LONG TIME AGO IN A GALAXY NOT SO FAR AWAY. Mike Dunford, a lawyer who does law streams on Twitch called The Questionable Authority, did a lawstream about the time Star Wars tried to sue the original Battlestar Galactica series for copyright infringement. The discussion of the lawsuit itself is here if people are interested. The stfnal part starts 50 minutes in. He created a cool intro to his talk:

(18) SCREENLESS. [Item by David Doering.] The Engineering heroes at my alma mater, BYU, are developing incredible 3D simulations without monitors. Yes, free-floating 3D images of the Enterprise in combat with a Bird of Prey or a light saber battle. Wow. Has to be seen to be believed. “Using lasers to create the displays of science fiction, inspired by Star Wars and Star Trek”.

Inspired by the displays of science fiction like the holodeck from Star Trek and the Princess Leia projector from Star Wars, a BYU electrical and computer engineering team is working to develop screenless volumetric display technologies. Led by Dan Smalley, BYU professor of electical engineering, the team uses laser beams to trap and illuminate a particle and then to move the particle and draw an image in mid-air. “Like a 3D printer for light,” these displays appear as physical objects to the viewer and, unlike a screen-based image, can be seen from any angle. In this demonstration of the technology, the team shows how they’ve created tiny animations of battle explosions and other images created completely with laser light. Smalley also provides an update on new research that shows how to simulate virtual images in a volumetric display (research published in the April 6, 2021 issue of Scientific Reports).

(19) VIDEO OF THE DAY. Cat Rambo has lots of other good advice, in this video about “5 Tips for Story Submissions.”

I’ve talked before about sending out fantasy and science fiction story submissions. Here’s five tips (well, four and a half, really) about what to do once you’ve submitted a story.

[Thanks to Andrew Porter, John King Tarpinian, Cora Buhlert, John Hertz, Dann, Mike Kennedy, JJ, Lise Andreasen, David Doering, Ben Bird Person, Cat Eldridge, Jennifer Hawthorne, Martin Morse Wooster, and Michael Toman for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Peer.]

Pixel Scroll 4/29/21 Who Am I To Scroll Against The Wind?

(1) ALT-FACTS. The Hugo Book Club Blog contends “Alternate facts make bad alternate history”.

… Even one of the better Alternate History works written by a very conservative author, Another Girl, Another Planet by Lou Antonelli, only really works when it avoids history altogether. When it is a big outer space adventure, it’s relatively engaging. But the version of history depicted in the novel involves weird depictions of Barack Obama as a feckless Marxist ideologue; not so much a counterfactual as a motivated smear job….

(2) NETFLIX TRAILER. Sweet Tooth is “a post-apocalyptic fairytale about a hybrid deer-boy and a wandering loner who embark on an extraordinary adventure.” All episodes of Sweet Tooth premiere on June 4, only on Netflix.

(3) #FINISHINFINITYTRAIN TRENDING WORLDWIDE. There’s an avalanche of tweets from people calling for a studio to finish the Infinity Train series.

Rose has an entire thread that starts here.

Fan art, too!

(4) THREE’S COMPANY. Kevin Standlee has some extended comments about the new Winnipeg bid and the rules governing whether it should appear on the published site selection ballot in “And Then There Were Three” on his Livejournal.

…Speaking theoretically, there are probably only about six cities in Canada that have the facilities to host a Worldcon. Two of them are in the east (Toronto and Montréal), and they’re both within 800 km of DC, which makes them ineligible to file (even as a write-in bid) under WSFS Constitution Section 4.7. (I’ve not looked at Ottawa or Quebec City’s facilities; if they have enough, then there might be eight potential sites rather than six. Also, any city I name includes anything in that city’s general area.) There’s little point in bidding for a site that’s ineligible in all but the most highly-unlikely scenarios — even more unlikely than the combination of circumstances that crashed the site selection at the 2011 Westercon, because Westercon’s rules are subtly different from Worldcon’s, and anyway, it seems unlikely to me that the existing bids would drive away so many supporters that None of the Above would win.

There are two plausible sites in western Canada (Vancouver and Calgary), but they have a somewhat less obvious political flaw, in that they’re less than 800 km from Seattle, which is bidding for 2025, The 2025 Worldcon will be selected at the 2023 Worldcon. A Worldcon selected for one of those cities would automatically disqualify Seattle’s bid. Bidding is hard enough without borrowing trouble by creating a group (Seattle’s supporters) that automatically would be biased against voting for you.

That leaves only two significant sites: Edmonton and Winnipeg. CanSMOF selected Winnipeg’s proposal, but I’m sure that Edmonton (and Calgary, and Vancouver) would make good places for a Worldcon someday….

(5) ELLISON WONDERLAND. Dread Central eavesdropped on Mick Garris’ podcast and learned “How Clive Barker Found Inspiration in Harlan Ellison’s House”.

…“[Harlan] had such an incredible collection of fantastic paintings,” Barker says on a new episode of Post Mortem with Mick Garris. “They were classics—covers of Weird Tales and all that wonderful ’30s, ’40s, and ’50s stuff.” 

Garris recalls his own visit to “Ellison Wonderland” just as fondly. He didn’t, however, get a look inside Ellison’s bomb shelter, as Barker did when he was there. (“I do know that you had to go through a hobbit door to get into it,” Garris says.)

“Behind [the door] was a locked room which he said would survive three atom bombs,” Barker says. “This is all very Harlan, right? Maybe if that’s true, then you’re just saying ‘Hello’ to the cockroaches when you get out! But it was an incredible room, because in there, he had the books that he’d collected over the years that he would want to survive the apocalypse. I don’t have a bomb-proof room, but I’ve got those books, too—the books that I feel bespeak our culture.”

(6) EASY MONTHLY PAYMENTS. Vox’s Terry Nguyen dissects the changing attitude in favor of multiple subscriptions to creators and entertainment streams: “Netflix, Amazon Prime, and Disney+: Why we might never reach subscription fatigue”.

…A self-described avid budgeter, Mason currently spends about $120 per month on 11 subscriptions, from streaming services to Substacks and artist Patreon accounts — up from last year’s average of $94 per month.

Quarantine and the demise of digital media were driving factors in Mason’s decision to support more independent artists and writers. The pandemic is partly responsible for facilitating a subscription boom over the past year, but it’s also contributed to the growth of the creator economy, as more people make things from home. “I’m 32 with no kids, no student loans, and no plans to buy a house again,” Mason, the editorial director for the New York Times’s Games team, said. “I’m very much someone who will pay an artist for a thing that they’ve made.”

The monthly $5, $10, and $15 credit-line charges add up, though. When the subscription business model was pioneered by news publishers in the 17th century, there was little competition. Within the past two decades, all sorts of businesses have begun clamoring for a slice of the subscriber pie, from consumer product startups and retailers like Dollar Shave Club to media organizations and internet personalities.

A few major players have become so integral to people’s buying or streaming patterns, like Netflix or Amazon Prime, that consumers approach them almost as a sort of utility….

(7) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

  • April 29, 2005 –On this day in 2005, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy film premiered in the USA after premiering a day earlier in the U.K. it was based loosely off the series by Douglas Adams, and it was directed by Garth Jennings with production by a not insignificant multitude of individuals. The screenplay was credited to Douglas Adams and Karey Kirkpatrick which is a neat trick indeed given that he’d died some years before. It had a rather stellar cast of Martin Freeman, Sam Rockwell, Mos Def, Zooey Deschanel, Bill Nighy, Alan Rickman, Anna Chancellor and John Malkovich. Critics mostly liked it and it scores an excellent sixty five percent rating among audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes. It did not figure in the Hugo nominations the following year. 

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]

  • Born April 29, 1880 – Lillian Jones.  Her one novel I know of is the first (1916) Utopia published in America by a black woman.  A century later came Karen Kossie-Chernyshev ed., Recovering “Five Generations Hence” (2013) with the text, annotations, and essays.  Here is a note from the Southwestern Historical Quarterly.  (Died 1965) [JH]
  • Born April 29, 1908 Jack Williamson. I’ll frankly admit that he’s one of those authors that I know I’ve read a fair amount by can’t really recall any specific titles as I didn’t collect him either in hard copy or digitally. A quick bit of research suggests the Legion of Space series was what I liked best when I was reading him. What did y’all like by him? (Died 2006.) (CE) 
  • Born April 29, 1919 – Elmer Perdue.  One story in Stirring.  Founding member of the N3F (Nat’l Fantasy Fan Fed’n).  Long before aluminum cans and even Country Club malt liquor – ahem – he could crush a tomato-juice can in one hand.  Active in FAPA (Fantasy Amateur Press Ass’n). Fan Guest of Honor at Quakecon.  More here.  (Died 1989) [JH]
  • Born April 29, 1924 – Paul S. Newman.  A novel and a shorter story; beyond that, or besides, or something, Guinness World Record for most prolific comic-book writer: 4,100 stories, 36,000 pages.  Comic-book version of Yellow Submarine.  Tom Corbett, Space cadet.  (Died 1999) [JH]
  • Born April 29, 1943 Russell M. Griffin. Author of but four novels as he died far too young of a heart attack. The Makeshift God, his first novel, I remember that novel as being a rather decent dystopian affair, and Century’s End was even bleaker. He wrote but nine stories. He alas has not made it into the digital realm yet. (Died 1986.) (CE) 
  • Born April 29, 1946 Humphrey Carpenter. Biographer whose notable output includes J. R. R. Tolkien: A Biography; he also did the editing of The Letters of J. R. R. Tolkien, and is responsible for The Inklings: CS Lewis, JRR Tolkien, Charles Williams and their Friends. He also wrote the engaging Mr. Majeika children’s series which is most decidedly genre. (Died 2005.) (CE) 
  • Born April 29, 1955 Kate Mulgrew, 66. Captain Kathryn Janeway on Star Trek: Voyager and she’ll be voicing that role again on the animated Star Trek: Prodigy.  Other genre roles include voicing Red Claw on Batman: The Animated Series, the recurring role of Jane Lattimer on Warehouse 13 and Clytemnestra in Iphigenia 2.0 at the Signature Theatre Company. Finally she voiced Titania in a recurring role on Gargoyles. (CE) 
  • Born April 29, 1956 – Alexander Jablokov, age 65.  Six novels, four dozen shorter stories.  Contributor to NY Review of SF.  John Clute says AJ’s first novel has darkly suave competence, the most recent is exuberantly gonzo.  AJ innocently says “In my work, I like good prose, interesting details, and as much humor as I can comfortably fit in.” [JH]
  • Born April 29, 1960 Robert J. Sawyer, 61. Hominids which is quite excellent won the Hugo for Best Novel at Torcon 3, and The Terminal Experiment won a Nebula as well. Completing a hat trick, he won a John W. Campbell Memorial Award for Mindscan too. Very impressive.  And then there’s the FlashForward series which lasted for thirteen episodes that was based on his novel of that name.  Interesting series that ended far too soon. (CE) 
  • Born April 29, 1969 – Julia Knight, age 52.  Eight novels, a couple of shorter stories.  Has read The Great GatsbyGone with the WindTales of the Dying Earth. “When not writing [likes] motorbikes, watching wrestling or rugby….  incapable of being serious for more than five min –” oops.  [JH]
  • Born April 29, 1970 Uma Thurman, 51. Venus / Rose in The Adventures of Baron Munchausen (Kage’s favorite film alongside Time Bandits), Maid Marian in the Robin Hood film that starred Patrick Bergin which I highly recommend, Poison Ivy in Batman & Robin. (CE) 
  • Born April 29, 1976 – Micol Ostrow, age 45.  Five novels, one shorter story for us, also a book (with Steven Brezenoff) classified as nonfiction being The Quotable Slayer i.e. Buffy.  Fifty books all told.  Earlier, ten years a children’s-book editor.  “I live and work in Brooklyn, NY, alongside my Emmy Award – winning husband and our two daughters.  It’s pretty much the best.”  [JH]

(9) VISIT TO THE COMIC SHOP. [Item by Daniel Dern.] Marvel (and, I presume, DC) are seriously younger-izing some of their characters/stories… I took a pic of the back of the book, because IMHO it’s funnier in context of other titles.

(10) FANTASTIC COLORS. WIRED explains “How Pixar Uses Hyper-Colors to Hack Your Brain”: “But at Pixar the virtual cameras can see an infinitude of light and color.”

… In a way, every filmmaker is really just playing with moving light and color on surfaces. That’s the whole ball game, a filmic given. But Pixar takes it further, or perhaps just does it more self-consciously and systematically. Its emotionally weighty, computer-generated animated films deploy precisely calibrated color and light to convey narrative and emotion—from the near-total absence of green in WALL-E (until postapocalyptic robots find the last plant on Earth) to the luminous orange marigolds that symbolize Miguel’s trip to the magical Land of the Dead in Coco through the contrast between the cool blue luminosity of the afterlife with the warm, snuggly sepia of New York City in last year’s Soul.

In fact, almost every Pixar movie works within a specific color palette, a story-specific gamut that filmmakers like Feinberg pull from and use to plan the look of each scene, a road map known as the color script. But Coco complicated that process. When its story moves to the Land of the Dead, it cranks up all the dials, colorwise. Those scenes look made out of neon, like a bio-organic version of Tokyo’s Shinjuku District at night. “When it came time to do the color script, it was like, ‘The Land of the Dead has every color. All of it takes place at night, so we can’t use time of day to elicit emotion. There is no weather in the Land of the Dead, so we can’t use weather to elicit emotion.’ Those are three pretty typical things we use to support the story,” Feinberg says….

(11) OCTOTHORPE. In Episode 30 of the Octothorpe podcast “Try to Always Use Chaps in a Gender-Neutral Way”, “John Coxon can’t make a poll, Alison Scott knows the religious forms, and Liz Batty has one more games thing (sorry). We chat about Swancon, DisCon III, FIYAHCON and the Hugo Awards.”

(12) GOOD CAT. “Kid’s Science Fair Project Answers the Eternal Question: ‘Do Cat Butts Really Touch All the Surfaces in Your Home?’” at Popsugar. Highly scientific answer at the link.

…For his homeschool science fair project, Kaeden [Griffin] tackled one of the most perplexing questions stumping pet owners: “Does your cat’s butthole really touch all the surfaces in your home?”

Kaeden, like many others out there, assumed that if his cat sits on a surface, then their “butthole will also touch said surface,” and to test his hypothesis, he and his mom, Kerry, applied nontoxic lipstick (bright red lipstick, in fact!) to the buttholes of their two well-behaved cats. The cats were then given a series of commands — including sit, wait, lie down, and jump up — and were compensated with praise and treats. The lipstick was removed with a baby wipe once they collected the necessary data, which took place in less than 10 minutes….

(13) BAD DOG. Or so the narrative goes. “The NYPD is sending its controversial robot dog back to the pound”The Verge has the story.

The New York Police Department has canceled its trial of a robot dog made by US firm Boston Dynamics after receiving fierce criticism regarding the “dystopian” technology.

“The contract has been terminated and the dog will be returned,” a spokesperson for the NYPD told the New York PostJohn Miller, the department’s deputy commissioner for intelligence and counterterrorism, told The New York Times that the machine was “a casualty of politics, bad information and cheap sound bytes.” Said Miller: “People had figured out the catchphrases and the language to somehow make this evil.”

The NYPD began leasing the machine nicknamed Digidog last year. “This dog is going to save lives, protect people, and protect officers and that’s our goal,” said the NYPD’s Frank Digiacomo in an interview with ABC7. The robot was deployed roughly half a dozen times during its tenure, mostly acting as a mobile camera in potentially hostile environments…

(14) SPACE AS SEEN FROM THE BOTTOM OF A LAKE. A high-tech project is“Hunting ghost particles beneath the world’s deepest lake” says DT Next.

A neutrino-spotting telescope beneath the frozen Lake Baikal in Russia is close to delivering scientific results after four decades of setbacks. A glass orb, the size of a beach ball, plops into a hole in the ice and descends on a metal cable toward the bottom of the world’s deepest lake.

Then another, and another. These light-detecting orbs come to rest suspended in the pitch-dark depths down as far as 4,000 feet below the surface. The cable carrying them holds 36 such orbs, spaced 50 feet apart. There are 64 such cables, held in place by anchors and buoys, two miles off the southern coast of this lake in Siberia with a bottom that is more than a mile down.

This is a telescope, the largest of its kind in the Northern Hemisphere, built to explore black holes, distant galaxies and the remnants of exploded stars. It does so by searching for neutrinos, cosmic particles so tiny that many trillions pass through each of us every second. If only we could learn to read the messages they bear, scientists believe, we could chart the universe, and its history, in ways we cannot yet fully fathom.

“You should never miss the chance to ask nature any question,” said Grigori V. Domogatski, 80, a Russian physicist who has led the quest to build this underwater telescope for 40 years. After a pause, he added: “You never know what answer you will get.” It is still under construction, but the telescope that Dr. Domogatski and other scientists have long dreamed of is closer than ever to delivering results. This hunt for neutrinos from the far reaches of the cosmos, spanning eras in geopolitics and in astrophysics, sheds light on how Russia has managed to preserve some of the scientific prowess that characterised the Soviet Union.

The Lake Baikal venture is not the only effort to hunt for neutrinos in the world’s most remote places. Dozens of instruments seek the particles in specialised laboratories all over the planet. But the new Russian project will be an important complement to the work of IceCube, the world’s largest neutrino telescope, an American-led, $279 million project that encompasses about a quarter of a cubic mile of ice in Antarctica….

(15) THE GOTHA OF DELIVERY DRONES. In the Washington Post, Dalvin Brown reports on a new drone by the German company Wingcopter that can deliver three packages on one flight whereas existing delivery drones can only deliver one package at a time. “Wingcopter is mass producing ‘triple-drop’ drones to deliver more packages, faster”.

… “Today, in order to deploy three packages at one time, companies would have to buy or lease three drones,” Plümmer said. “Price-wise, you’re not going to want to have three of them when you can have one. And no one wants thousands of drones flying above their heads.”

The start-up’s new device is central to its broader vision of providing drones to firms seeking ways to distribute hot meals, groceries, medical supplies or other lightweight goods. It was created to “power logistical highways in the sky,” Plümmer said.

The company says the eight-rotor air vehicle is capable of level-four autonomy, which means it is mostly autonomous but requires a human for some tasks.

It has a 5.8-foot wingspan and measures under 4.5 feet from nose to tail…. 

(16) AVOIDING THE END. The original attempt to stop global warming! “Did Vikings Host Ragnarök Rituals at Surtshellir?” in Smithsonian Magazine.

…The team’s findings, published in the Journal of Archaeological Science, show that the eruption that formed the cave, known as Surtshellir, occurred in the late ninth century A.D., soon after the first Viking settlement of Iceland.

Per the paper, this incident was probably the first major volcanic eruption witnessed by people in northern Europe since the end of the last Ice Age more than 10,000 years prior. The explosion covered about 90 square miles of fertile land in volcanic rock.

“[T]he impacts of this eruption must have been unsettling, posing existential challenges for Iceland’s newly arrived settlers,” write the authors in the study.

According to Owen Jarus of Live Science, the Vikings entered the newly formed cave soon after the lava cooled. They constructed the boat structure, placing ritual offerings inside and burning the bones of animals, including sheep, goats, cattle, horses and pigs. Historical records show that the Vikings associated the cave with Surtr, a giant responsible for battling the gods during Ragnarök and bringing about the end of the world in Norse mythology….

(17) BOOK TRAILER. An appetizer to get you interested in Einstein – The Fantastic Journey of a Mouse Through Time and Space by Torben Kuhlmann. More about the book as well as a sneak peek here.  

Time is relative! Award-winning, illustrator Torben Kuhlmann’s brilliant new book bends time and imagination! When an inventive mouse misses the biggest cheese festival the world has ever seen, he’s determined to turn back the clock. But what is time, and can it be influenced? With the help of a mouse clockmaker, a lot of inventiveness, and the notes of a certain famous Swiss physicist he succeeds in traveling back in time. But when he misses his goal by eighty years, the only one who can help is an employee of the Swiss Patent Office, who turned our concept of space and time upside down….

Suppose Albert Einstein’s famous theories first came into being through an encounter with a little mouse.

[Thanks to Rob Thornton, Mike Kennedy, JJ, Martin Morse Wooster, N., Hampus Eckerman, Daniel Dern, Andrew Porter, Cat Eldridge, John Hertz, James Davis Nicoll, Olav Rokne, Michael Toman, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Andrew (not Werdna).]