Pixel Scroll 3/11/20 Hold Seven: Pixel Scroll Sanitizers, Second Class

(1) CORONAVIRUS IMPACT. Eric Flint told Facebook readers today he has cancelled his upcoming trip to Los Angeles for the annual Writers of the Future award ceremony due to the coronavirus threat.

I’m one of the judges for the contest and I’ve attended the ceremony every year since I became a judge (which is more than a decade, now.) I hated to do it, for a lot of reasons, one of them being that LA is my home town and I always visit friends and relatives (when possible — my relatives now all live in Ventura, and sometimes I don’t have time to get up there).

(2) CONVENTION UPDATE. Ace Comic Con Northeast (March 20-22), which previously announced they’d go on, has now cancelled.

(3) LETTING READERS KNOW. Sharon Lee shared an important personal medical update on her blog: “Whole New World”. Details at the link.

(4) STARGIRL. A teaser trailer for the new series. Comicbook.com sets the frame.

Stargirl is coming to both The CW and DC Universe in just a two more months and now, fans are getting another brief look at the young DC hero in action in a new teaser for the upcoming series. The brief teaser offers a glimpse of Brec Bassinger’s Courtney Whitmore in action as Stargirl with a voice over talking about how she finally knows who she really is offering a sense of optimism as she wields the Cosmic Staff against her adversary.

(5) IT’S A THEORY. Jalopnik claims “This Chart Will Tell You What Kind Of Space-Based Sci-Fi You’re About To Watch Just By Looking At The Main Ship”. Are they right?

…You could look at one ship and immediately know that, say, the show would take place in the relatively near future, and have a pretty good grounding in science, or look at another and immediately know nobody gave two shits about physics, but it’ll be a fun ride.

I compiled several thousand examples and fed them into the Jalopnik Mainframe (a cluster of over 400 Timex-Sinclair 1000 computers dumped into an abandoned hot tub in a bunker underneath Ed Begley Jr’s combined EV R&D lab/sex-lab) which ran an advanced AI that categorized the ships into eight distinct classes….

If you want to see the big version, or maybe print it out for your ceiling so you can lay in bed and contemplate it, click here!

(6) WORLDCON PREP. SF2Concatenation has released “Wellington – for visiting SF folk, Those going to CoNZealand, the 78th Worldcon”:

Wellington, New Zealand’s capital city, is built around a harbour on the southern tip of New Zealand. Although it’s a small city, with about 400,000 residents, visitors won’t have a shortage of things to do.

New Zealand has a strong creative and fan community.  Its National Science Fiction Convention has been running since 1979.  This year (2020), it will be hosted at the CoNZealand Worldcon, along with the Sir Julius Vogel Awards that recognise excellence in science fiction, fantasy, or horror works created by New Zealanders.

Those, participating in the CoNZealand Worldcon, choosing to extend their holiday to visit other parts of the country will find fantasy and science fiction-themed adventures in all corners: from the Hobbiton film set in the North Island, to Oamaru, steampunk capital of the world, in the South. Most fantastical of all are New Zealand’s landscapes, including beautiful beaches and snowy ski-fields….

(7) OR ARE THEY DANGEROUS VIBRATIONS? [Item by Jonathan Cowie.] BBC Radio 4 has the first of a new three-parter in their Dangerous Visions anthology series. Body Horror will be available to download from 12th march – i.e. shortly — for a month.

Episode 1

Body Horror

Episode 1 of 3

London, 2050. The transplant industry is in full swing. But can a new body ever fulfil the life-changing expectations of lowly mortician Caroline McAleese? A dystopian thriller by Lucy Catherine.

Developed through the Wellcome Trust Experimental stories scheme.  The Wellcome Trust is a charity based on a huge endowment whose investment profits fund biomedical research and biomedical communication.  To give you an idea of their size, they invest as much as the UK government in biomedical science research. They also do a little public engagement in science and arts and supporting this programme is part of that.

(8) OTHER PEOPLE’S TSUNDOKU. Learn about one writer’s favorite books in “Reading with… Cassandra Clare” at Shelf Awareness.

On your nightstand now: 

The Weird Tales of Tanith Lee by Tanith Lee.  She has always been one of my favorite writers. While I was growing up, I collected all her books. She was also a prolific writer of short stories. Since they were published in the days before the Internet, they weren’t always so easy to find. Now, posthumously, they are being reissued. This book is a collection of all the short stores that she ever published in Weird Tales magazine.

My mom lent me a book called Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly. It’s the story of three women whose lives intersect at the Ravensbrück concentration camp. It’s a brutal story, but as someone who always searches for meaning in what happened to my family in the Holocaust, it feels necessary.

(9) IMAGINEERS. In “Disney Books Galore”, Leonard Maltin reviews a trove of books about the Magic Kingdom and its creators.

MARC DAVIS IN HIS OWN WORDS: IMAGINEERING THE DISNEY THEME PARKS by Pete Docter and Christopher Merritt (Disney Editions)

Walt Disney was stingy with compliments, but he called longtime animator Marc Davis his “renaissance man” and meant it. As the production of animated films wound down in the 1950s, Disneyland and the upcoming New York World’s Fair consumed much of Walt’s time and nearly all of his energy. His Midas touch intact, Disney reassigned many of his artists to his WED operation, later renamed Imagineering. Davis brought his artistic talent and whimsical imagination to the task of world-building and left his mark on such enduring attractions as the Jungle Cruise, Pirates of the Caribbean, The Haunted Mansion, It’s a Small World, The Enchanted Tiki Room, and the Country Bear Jamboree, to name just a few.

(10) TODAY IN HISTORY.

  • March 11, 1971 THX 1138 premiered. It was the first feature film from George Lucas. It was produced by Francis Ford Coppola and written by Lucas and Walter Murch.  It starred Robert Duvall and Donald Pleasence. A novelization by Ben Bova was published. The film was not a box office success though critics generally loved it and it developed a cult following after Star Wars released, and it holds a ninety percent rating among the audience at Rotten Tomatoes.  You can see THX 1138 here. We suspect that it’s a pirate copy, so watch it soon before it disappears.
  • March 11, 1974 Latitude Zero premiered. It was directed by Ishir? Honda. It was written by Ted Sherdeman from  his radio serial of the same name, with the screenplay by Ted Sherdeman. The film starred Joseph Cotten, Cesar Romero, Akira Takarada, Masumi Okada, Richard Jaeckel, Patricia Medina, and Akihiko Hirata. American producer Don Sharp sent the American cast to Japan just as his company went bankrupt so Toho, the Japanese company, picked up the entire budget. Most critics at the time like the campy SFX but said it lacked any coherent. It gets a middling audience rating of 50% at Rotten Tomatoes. You can see the English language version here.
  • March 11, 1998 Babylon 5‘s “Day of the Dead” first aired. Written by Neil Gaiman, it featured among its cast Penn & Teller as the comedians Rebo and Zooty visiting the station on The Brakiri Day of the Dead. Many think Teller speaks here but his voice is actually provided by Harlan Ellison. Dreamhaven sold an annotated script with an introduction by J. Michael Straczynski. You can find the episode on YouTube though it requires a fee. It’s available also on Amazon or iTunes.  

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born March 11, 1921 F. M. Busby. Together with his wife and others he published a fanzine named Cry of the Nameless which won the Hugo Award in 1960. Heinlein was a great fan of him and his wife with The Cat Who Walks Through Walls in part dedicated to Busby and Friday in part dedicated to his wife Elinor. He was a very busy writer from the early Seventies to the late Nineties writing some nineteen published novels and myriad short stories before he blamed the Thor Power Tools decision for forcing his retirement which is odd as he published a number of  novels after that decision became in effect. (Died 2005.)
  • Born March 11, 1925 Christopher Anvil. A Campbellian writer through and through, he was a staple of Astounding starting in 1956.  The Colonization series that he wrote there would run to some thirty stories. Short stories were certainly his favored length as he only wrote two novels, The Day the Machines Stopped andThe Steel, the Mist, and the Blazing Sun. He’s readily available at the usual digital sources. (Died 2009.)
  • Born March 11, 1928 Albert Salmi. Though he had virtually no major genre or genre adjacent roles, he showed up in quite a number of series starting of Alfred Hitchcock Presents and going on to be in The Twilight Zone in multiple roles, The Alfred Hitchcock Hour, Lost in Space (twice as Alonzo P. Tucker), Escape from the Planet of the Apes (as E-1), Empire of the Ants (in a starting role as Sheriff Art Kincade), Dragonslayer and Superstition. (Died 1990.)
  • Born March 11, 1935 Nancy Kovack, 85. She appeared as Nona in Trek’s “A Private Little War”. She also showed up in The Man from U.N.C.L.E., The Invaders, as Medea in Jason and the Argonauts, Batman (twice as Queenie), Alfred Hitchcock Hour, Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, I Dream of JeannieTarzan and the Valley of Gold,  Marooned, Get Smart! and The Invisible Man
  • Born March 11, 1947 Floyd Kemske, 73. I’m betting someone here can tell me the story of how he came to be the Editor of Galaxy magazine for exactly one issue — the July 1980 issue to be precise. I’ve not read either of his two novels, so I can’t comment on him as a writer, but the Galaxy editorship story sounds fascinating. 
  • Born March 11, 1952 Douglas Adams. I’ve have read and listen to the full cast production the BBC did of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy but have absolutely no desire to see the film. Wait, wasn’t there a TV series as well? Yes, there was. Shudder! The Dirk Gently series is, errr, odd and escapes my understanding its charms. He and Mark Carwardine also wrote the most excellent Last Chance to See. It’s more silly than it sounds. (Died 2001.)
  • Born March 11, 1963 Alex Kingston,  57. River Song in Doctor Who. She’s in a number of different stories with a number of different Doctors and was the eventual wife of the Eleventh Doctor. She was in Ghost Phone: Phone Calls from the Dead, as Sheila, and she was Lady Macbeth in the National Theatre Live of Macbeth. Oh, and she’s in the Arrowverse as Dinah Lance, in FlashForward as Fiona Banks, and recently shows up as Sara Bishop on A Discovery of Witches, a series based off the Deborah Harkness novel of the same name. Great series, All Souls Trilogy, by the way. She’s been continuing her River Song character over at Big Finish. 
  • Born March 11, 1967 John Barrowman, 53. Best genre role without doubt is as Captain Jack Harkness in Doctor Who and Torchwood.  He reprised the role for Big Finish audiobooks and there’s one that I highly recommend which is the full cast Golden Age production with all the original cast. You’ll find a link to my review here. I see he’s been busy in the Arrowverse playing three different characters in the form  of Malcolm Merlyn / Dark Archer / Ra’s al Ghul.  He’s also had a long history in theatre, so he’s been in Beauty and the Beast as The Beast / The Prince, Jack and The Bean Stalk as Jack, Aladdinas, well, Aladdin and Cinderella as, errrr, Buttons.

(12) COMICS SECTION.

(13) FRESH INTRO TO MALZBERG. D. Harlan Wilson has a new introduction for the upcoming reprint of Barry N. Malzberg’s Revelations (1972): He’s made it available on his website here.

With Galaxies, Beyond Apollo, and The Falling Astronauts, Revelations is part of a thematically linked group of Malzberg’s novels, all of which are now available from Anti-Oedipus Press. This special edition includes an introduction by D. Harlan Wilson, “Barry N. Malzberg and the Gravity of Science Fiction,” and two afterwords by the author, one from the second printing of Revelations in 1976, the other written in 2019 for this latest reprint.

(14) ADD SPACE SUIT PUN HERE. SYFY Wire tells “How Star Trek’s Prime Directive is influencing real-time space law”.

Michelle Hanlon moved around a lot while growing up. Her parents were part of the Foreign Service, the government agency that formulates and enacts U.S. policy abroad, so she found herself in new places all the time. Despite relocating often, one memory of her childhood remains constant. “We always had Star Trek,” Hanlon tells SYFY WIRE. “You know how families have dinner around the table? I remember eating meals in front of Star Trek, watching it no matter where we were.”

That connection to Star Trek, in part, inspired Hanlon to create For All Moonkind, a volunteer non-profit with the goal of preserving the Apollo landing sites on the Moon, alongside promoting the general preservation of history and heritage in outer space.

More Star Trek

Hanlon, who is a career attorney, has always had an interest in outer space. She didn’t study engineering or other sciences while at school, though, so she felt it couldn’t be more than a hobby. But after Johann-Dietrich Wörner, the head of the European Space Agency, made an offhand joke about how China may remove the United State’s flag from the Apollo moon landing site during a press conference, Hanlon started thinking about space preservation and what would eventually become For All Moonkind. She started the group in 2017 with her husband after returning to school to get a master’s degree in space law.

One point Hanlon and For All Moonkind stress is the idea that we can only preserve our history in space if we put the space race behind us and do it together — an ideal partially inspired by Star Trek. “I’ve never felt that I couldn’t do what I wanted because of my gender or race because I grew up with Star Trek,” Hanlon, who has a Chinese father and Polish mother, says. “The diversity of Star Trek was a reflection of my life; I was shocked to not see it when I came back to the U.S.”

(15) AVENGERS ASSEMBLE. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] Andrew Dalton, in the AP story “Avengers Campus to let Disneyland visitors sling like Spidey”, went on a press preview of the new Avengers Campus opening at Disney’s California Adventure in July, replacing the Bug’s Life ride.  The ride will include opportunities for patrons to “sling spider webs” like Spider-Man, and includes “warehouses” for the Avengers designed to look like old buildings. Food items include “Pym’s Test Kitchen,” which features a tiny brioche bun and a giant breaded chicken breast, and a “shwarma joint” similar to the one featured at the end of The Avengers.

…“We’ve been trying to figure out how do we bring this land to life not just where you get to see your favorite heroes or meet your favorite heroes, but where you actually get to become a hero,” Brent Strong, the executive creative director behind the new land for Walt Disney Imagineering, said at a media preview that revealed new details and provided a first look at the project that was first announced last year. “It’s about living out your superhero fantasies.”

Central to that aim is “WEB SLINGERS: A Spider-Man Adventure,” which uses a combination of physical and digital imagery to allow riders to play Peter Parker along with onscreen Spidey Tom Holland….

(16) PORTION PRESTIDIGITATION. Eater previews the food options at the new Avengers Campus in “A Ton of Marvel-Themed Foods Are Coming to Disneyland”.

At Pym Tasting Kitchen, the land’s main restaurant, a “Quantum Tunnel machine” and size-adjusting Pym particles experiment with food — and drinks at the adjacent Pym Tasting Lab — in a menu bolstered by Disney’s corporate partnerships with Coca-Cola and Impossible Foods plant-based meat.

The Quantum Pretzel, an oversized Bavarian twist pretzel, is Pym Tasting Kitchen’s most iconic item. It comes towering over a side of California IPA cheddar-mozzarella beer cheese. Similar to the park’s other large-scale pretzels at first glance, it clocks in at around 14 inches. Another ridiculously oversized dish, the Not So Little Chicken Sandwich, pairs a large chicken schnitzel with a small slider-sized potato bun, topped with Sriracha and teriyaki citrus mayos and pickled cabbage slaw. The gag, like the short skirt-long jacket of theme park cuisine, is executed brilliantly. (See also: the Caesar salad, served wedge-style with a head of baby romaine, vegan dressing, and a “colossal crouton.”)

(17) BRIAR PATCH VISIT POSTPONED. BBC reports “Peter Rabbit 2 film release delayed by four months amid coronavirus fears”.

Peter Rabbit 2 has become the latest major film to have its release pushed back amid the coronavirus outbreak.

Peter Rabbit 2: The Runaway, which features the voices of James Corden and Margot Robbie, was due in UK cinemas on 27 March, and the US a week later.

But with uncertainty over whether fans will avoid cinemas, that has now been put back to 7 August.

(18) HAL CLEMENT SITE. In a manner of speaking. “Wasp-76b: The exotic inferno planet where it ‘rains iron'”.

Astronomers have observed a distant planet where it probably rains iron.

It sounds like a science fiction movie, but this is the nature of some of the extreme worlds we’re now discovering.

Wasp-76b, as it’s known, orbits so close in to its host star, its dayside temperatures exceed 2,400C – hot enough to vaporise metals.

The planet’s nightside, on the other hand, is 1,000 degrees cooler, allowing those metals to condense and rain out.

It’s a bizarre environment, according to Dr David Ehrenreich from the University of Geneva.

“Imagine instead of a drizzle of water droplets, you have iron droplets splashing down,” he told BBC News.

The Swiss researcher and colleagues have just published their findings on this strange place in the journal Nature.

The team describes how it used the new Espresso instrument at the Very Large Telescope in Chile to study the chemistry of Wasp-76b in fine detail.

Nature link: “Nightside condensation of iron in an ultrahot giant exoplanet”.

(19) VIDEO OF THE DAY. In Dvein vs. Flamingos on Vimeo, you learn what you shouldn’t mess with a pink flamingo.

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

Pixel Scroll 12/15/19 The UnPixeled Scrollfession Of Jonathan Hugo

(1) THE CHICKEN OR THE EGG, CAME FIRST IT DID. Popular Mechanics takes “An Alarmingly Deep Dive Into the Science of Baby Yoda”. Tagline: “We talked to eight actual scientists to find the answers. This is a cry for help.”

There have been many famous babies throughout history: The Lindbergh Baby. The Gerber Baby. Baby Jessica. Rosemary’s Baby. But has there ever been a baby as universally loved and fawned over as Baby Yoda?

For all the joy that Baby Yoda brings us, he can also be confusing. And not because of the obvious questions, like whether Baby Yoda is the real Yoda. Obviously he’s not. The Mandalorian—the Disney+ original series that’s given us our favorite non-English-speaking Star Wars character since BB-8—is set between Return of the Jedi (when the O.G. Yoda dies) and The Force Awakens.

It’s arguable that Baby Yoda could be the illegitimate love-child of Yoda and Yaddle, the lady Yoda from The Phantom Menace, and there’s been some scholarly speculation on that topic, including an investigative report with the refreshingly blunt title, “Did Yoda F**k?”

But whether the Yoda is Baby Yoda’s true daddy isn’t what fascinates us every time we tune into The Mandalorian. What keeps us coming back for more is trying to figure out what in the actual hell Baby Yoda is supposed to be….

(2) WRITE IF YOU GET WORK. Cat Rambo tweeted highlights from the online class “The Freelancer’s Toolkit” with James L. Sutter for the Rambo Academy for Wayward Writers. Thread starts here.

(3) MANGA REVELATIONS. In the Washington Post Simon Denyer profiles Tomoni Shimuzu’s What Has Happened To Me, a manga that tells the first-person story of Mihrigul Tursun, a Uighur persecuted by the Chinese: “Japanese manga about a Uighur woman’s persecution in China becomes viral hit”

… “What has happened to me — A testimony of a Uyghur woman” recounts the story told by Mihrigul Tursun, a member of the Muslim minority in western China that has faced relentless crackdowns from authorities in Beijing.The manga — as all comic-style works are known in Japan — describes Tursun’s imprisonment and torture by the Chinese government, the death of one of her young children while in custody, and the jailing of her husband for 16 years.

(4) KINDLING HIGHER RATES. The Digital Reader announced “Kindle Unlimited Per-Page Rate Jumped in November 2019”. Which is a good thing if KU readers are flipping your pages.

Amazon announced on Friday that the Kindle Unlimited funding pool increased by one hundred thousand dollars in November 2019, to $26.1 million, from $26 million in October 2019.

At the same time the per-page rate royalty jumped to d $0.004925, from $0.0046763  in October.

(5) HIGH MAGIC. Nerds of a Feather’s Paul Weimer, in “Microreview: The Last Sun, by K.D. Edwards, reviews “an intriguing Urban Fantasy that uses genderqueer characters and the story of Atlantis to tell an intriguing magic-infused story.”

In a world very much like ours but where Atlantis existed, and existed into the modern era until the survivors of its fall emigrated to a new home in the New World, a scion of a fallen House is wrapped up in mystery and intrigue, as rivalries, schemes and long set plans collide with that scion’s destiny and coming into his true power.

Rune Sun is the last of his kind. House Sun, his tarot card named noble family, has long since fallen and he is the only survivor. A  sword fighter and a sorcerer, he lives doing odd jobs here and there, a down on his luck existence especially given the wealth and power of his peers, and of his life, long ago. It is doing one of those odd jobs, against another noble House, that Sun gets hooked into an intrigue that extends across New Atlantis. That hook, too and just might provide an opportunity for Rune to prove and show his capability and true abilities. If it doesn’t wreck his homeland or get him killed first, that is.

(6) FOR BETTER OR WORSE. ScreenRant, in “DCEU: 5 Best Rivalries (& 5 That Make No Sense)”, says “the characters in these movies and their conflicts are also not so black-and-white. Some of them are good, but others are not.” Here’s part of their list:

6 Makes No Sense: Wonder Woman & Ares

Another pointless final battle in the DCEU includes the one in Wonder Woman. Not only did we expect another character to be Ares, but we also focused on a different conflict, which was Diana’s belief that Ares was causing wars and the reality that people weren’t just all good.

This is why the final battle feels so odd to most viewers. It is just a CGI mess with explosions that are meant to excite those who were expecting such action. But what could have been more logical would be for Diana to finally come to the realization that she was wrong and naive.

(7) CLOSING TIME. Publisher Joe Stech is signing off with Issue 14 of Compelling Science Fiction, his magazine devoted to plausible science fiction.

Welcome to the final issue of Compelling Science Fiction!

The last 3 years have been a fun ride. I wrote a blog post about some of the highlights from my perspective, but here I’ll just say: It was a privilege working with so many wonderful authors, and I hope people enjoy these stories for many years to come. I’ll be leaving every issue up online indefinitely.

As for this issue, I’m happy to say that we’re finishing strong — here are our final five fantastic stories that you can read right now…

Stech wanted hard sf, as he thought of it, but to communicate that he came up with a less-fraught alternative term:

“Plausible science fiction,” in this context, means “science fiction that tries not to disrupt suspension of disbelief for people that have knowledge of science and engineering.” This can mean not blatantly contradicting our current knowledge of the universe, and it can also mean not blatantly ignoring how humans generally behave. It also means internal self-consistency.

(8) TODAY IN HISTORY.

  • December 15, 1978 Superman: The Movie premiered. It would win a Hugo at  Seacon ’79 with The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy radio program and Watership coming in second and third respectively. Likewise Rotten Tomatoes has 94% of their reviewers giving Superman a positive review.  That it was boffo at the  box office and a critical favorite is hardly surprising either. 

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born December 15, 1923 Freeman Dyson, 96. Physicist best known in genre circles for the concept he theorized of a Dyson Sphere which would be built by a sufficiently technologically advanced species around a sun to harvest all solar energy. He credited Olaf Stapledon in Star Maker (1937), in which he described “every solar system… surrounded by a gauze of light traps, which focused the escaping solar energy for intelligent use” with first coming up with the concept. 
  • Born December 15, 1948 Cassandra Harris. She was in For Your Eyes Only as the Countess Lisl von Schlaf. Pierce Brosnan, her third husband, met producer Albert R. Broccoli while she was shooting her scenes and was cast in four Bond films as a result. Her genre resume is short otherwise, an appearance on Space: 1999, and a likewise one-off on Shadows, a YA scary show. (Died 1991.)
  • Born December 15, 1949 Don Johnson, 70. Though Miami Vice is where most will know him from, he has impressive genre creds including the lead in the Ellison-derived A Boy and Dog, voicing Wazir’s Son in Aladdin and the Wonderful Lamp, Office Andy Brady in the Revenge of the Stepford Wives film and another Sheriff, Earl McGraw, in the From Dusk till Dawn: The Series.
  • Born December 15, 1954 Alex Cox, 65. Ahhh, the Director who back in the early Eighties gave us Repo Man. And that he got a co-writer credit for the screenplay of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas before it was completely rewritten by Gilliam. No, what interests me is that he’s listed as directing a student film version of Harry Harrison’s Bill, the Galactic Hero at University of Colorado Boulder just a few years ago!
  • Born December 15, 1963 Helen Slater, 56. She was Supergirl in the film of that name,  and returned to the 2015 TV series of the same name as Supergirl’s adoptive mother. Also within the DC Universe, she voiced Talia al Ghul in in Batman: The Animated Series. Recently she also voiced Martha Kent in DC Super Hero Girls: Hero of the Year. And Lara in Smallville… And Eliza Danvers on the Supergirl series.  Me? I’m not obsessed at all by the DC Universe though the DCU streaming app is my sole entertainment budget other than an Audible subscription.  Her other genre appearances include being on Supernatural, Eleventh Hour, Toothless, Drop Dead Diva and Agent X
  • Born December 15, 1970 Michael Shanks, 49. Best known for playing Dr. Daniel Jackson in the very long-running Stargate SG-1 franchise. His first genre appearance was in the Highlander series and he’s been in a lot of genre properties including the Outer Limits, Escape from Mars, Andromeda (formally titled Gene Roddenberry’s Andromeda and there’s a juicy story there), Swarmed, Mega Snake, Eureka, Sanctuary, Smallville, Supernatural and Elysium. Wow! 

(10) MILES TO GO. Marvel Comics presents “Rapid-Fire Questions with Saladin Ahmed.”

Writer for Spider-Man: Miles Morales and The Magnificent Ms. Marvel, Saladin Ahmed, answers the hard-hitting questions about Kamala and Miles.

(11) OVERWHELMED BY RELATIVISM. The Chengdu in 2023 Worldcon bid prompts Steve Davidson to ask a basket of questions in “The Future for WSFS” at Amazing Stories.

As WSFS – empowered by its ever-shifting fannish membership – moves towards the greater realization of the initial word in its name – World – it will be increasingly called to task over issues and concerns that it has heretofore not had to grapple with.  No longer can Fannish politics enjoy wide separation from real world politics.  One of those questions will surely be How do we assess the fitness of a country to host a Worldcon?

That single question is replete with detail and nuance.  Previously, we’ve applauded governmental support of Worldcons;  Finland was underwritten by the Finnish government;  New Zealand’s Prime Minister recently endorsed an upcoming convention.  On the other hand Chengdou would be taking place in a city that has been designated as a center for science fiction by the Chinese Government and is undoubtedly receiving both financial and material support from the same.

When a government’s support and endorsement is limited to just a bit of funding and some promotional support, we’re unlikely to question its motives (of course they love fans), but at what point do we begin to question those motives?  At what point does our desire for such impact other aspects of our community, and how much influence are we prepared to accept?  (Remember that Scientology attempted to use promotional and financial support to co-opt as Worldcon and its awards.)…

(12) SOMETHING MISSING. Rob Latham identifies snubs and surprises in a review of Gary K. Wolfe’s Sixties novel anthology for Library of America in “An Uneven Showcase of 1960s SF” at LA Review of Books.

…The shortcomings of this set derive, in large part, from constraints not wholly of the editor’s making. Probably because the press wanted to extend its coverage as much as possible, a decision was made to exclude writers who had been featured in the earlier 1950s volumes, meaning that talents who continued to produce compelling work into the subsequent decade — Heinlein, Fritz Leiber, James Blish, Frederik Pohl — were programmatically passed over. At the same time, major authors whose work has come to define the 1960s, but who were already spotlighted in single-author collections, were barred as well: hence, this set does not include Dick’s The Man in the High Castle (1962) or Ubik (1969), Le Guin’s The Left Hand of Darkness (1969), or Kurt Vonnegut’s Cat’s Cradle (1963) or Slaughterhouse-Five (1969). And the goal of gathering as many texts as possible into two manageable volumes meant that exceptionally long books could not be chosen, which ruled out the novel often voted by fans as the best ever written in the genre, Frank Herbert’s Dune (1965). Finally, the goal of “balanc[ing] the halves of the decade” — as Wolfe puts it in his introduction — has produced a first volume that is significantly inferior, aesthetically, to the second, since (for reasons I explain below)…

(13) FURSUITING. Mara Reinstein in Parade gives an extensive background to CATS: “Cats Returns! James Corden and Rebel Wilson Take Us Behind the Scenes of the New Cats Movie”.

Ask the Cats cast members why they wanted to be a part of the movie, and the answers all circle back to, well, memories—of the original musical.

Corden, 41, a Tony and Emmy winner perhaps best known for belting out music with celebrities on the hugely popular “Carpool Karaoke” segments on his Late Late Show on CBS, recalls seeing the production with his parents as a 13-year-old in London in the early 1990s. “I remember thinking, Man, this is a spectacle,” he says. “I knew the movie would be great fun.” Wilson, who attended theater school in her native Australia, was visiting London in the early 2000s and caught a performance from the cheap seats. “I had to watch it with little binoculars,” she recalls, “and I was still blown away.”

For Dench, 85, the film served as a Cats homecoming. Back in 1981, she was slated to be part of the original production but had to pull out because of an injury. “We were concentrating every minute of every day on behaving like cats and trying to translate that into a way of moving,” she says. “But I snapped my Achilles tendon during one of the rehearsals, and as anyone knows, that can take a while to heal.” She was “very pleased” to be invited to join the movie production.

(14) OUT OF BREATH. An interview conducted with Richard K. Morgan in 2018 by Professor Sara Martin Alegre is presented in “Thin Air, Deep Dive”.

The novel is called Thin Air partly because this refers to how the ‘terraform eco-magic’ has failed to generated atmospheric conditions beyond ‘four percent Earth sea level standard’. Why this pessimism? Can you also tell a little about the ‘lamina’ and about the role of nanotech in developing Mars?

There is a central conceit that I keep – not consciously, I swear! – returning to in my work. It takes different metaphorical guises, but at root it’s always the same sense of something grand and worthwhile being abandoned by vicious and stupid men in favour of short-term profit and tribal hegemony. You see it in the regressive politics of the Protectorate in the Kovacs novels, the way both the Yhelteth Empire and the – so-called – Free Cities fail their duty as civilisations in A Land Fit for Heroes. So also with Thin Air – the landscape is littered with the markers of a retreat from the grand scheme of terraforming and building a home for humanity on Mars, in favour of an ultra-profitable corporate stasis and an ongoing lie of highly emotive intangibles sold to the general populace in lieu of actual progress. Take a look around you – remind you of anything?

(15) FOUND FOOTAGE. In the “news to me” department – a 2010 episode of Pawn Stars featured a clump of silver rupees recovered from a shipwreck found off the coast of Sri Lanka by Arthur C. Clarke and Mike Wilson in 1961. The discovery became the basis for the book The Treasure of the Great Reef. Clarke’s name is mentioned several times in episode’s “Taj Mahal sunken treasure” segment, which starts around 1:10 of this video:

(16) THE PERILS OF BLABBING. YouTuber TheOdd1sOut’s review of “The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance” was #1 on the trending tab. Apparently because its anecdotes revolve around why Jim Henson’s daughter was peeved at an earlier review and the nondisclosure agreement he had to sign before screenings of the new series.

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

Crisis of Infinite Cameos: DC’s 2019 TV Cross-Over Event

By Daniel Dern: Starting December 9, 2019: The WB TV network’s annual “Arrowverse” cross-over event — this year, spanning five episodes across five WB shows — (“Crisis on Infinite Earths” at Arrowverse Wiki):

  • Part 1 Supergirl: “Crisis on Infinite Earths: Part One” (December 8, 2019)
  • Part 2 Batwoman: “Crisis on Infinite Earths: Part Two” (December 9, 2019)
  • Part 3The Flash: “Crisis on Infinite Earths: Part Three” (December 10, 2019)
  • Part 4 Arrow: “Crisis on Infinite Earths: Part Four” (January 14, 2020)
  • Part 5 DC’s Legends of Tomorrow: “Crisis on Infinite Earths: Part Five” (January 14, 2020)

…Not to mention a fair amount of preliminary/build-up over the current season, in Flash and Arrow and presumably (I haven’t been watching it or Arrow), Supergirl.

One particularly cool thing that the showrunners have done is that the events start in the shows in “real time” — that is, the Flash episode premiering on December 9, 2019 is taking place on “show calendar time” of December 9, 2019.

2017’s included the musical episode in Flash (“In Case You Didn’t Watch The Flash Musical Episode…”) which includes at least two songs I periodically rewatch, in particular “Super Friend.”

2018’s was “Elseworlds,” which, among other things, introduced Batwoman in advance of the eponymous show (i.e., Batwoman) that started up this fall.)

This year, as we’ve known pretty much since the show finales of last year, is “Crisis on Infinite Earths” — the CWTV page includes links to the trailers.

Here’s TV Guide’s summary: “Everything We Know About the Crisis on Infinite Earths Arrowverse Crossover”.

And Fandom.com’s Arroverse Wiki has a full guide to “Arrowverse” crossovers: “List of crossover episodes”.

CROSS-OVERS AND EVENTS: THEY’RE ESTABLISHED THINGS. “Cross-over events” combine two of comic books — and, somewhat more recently (I think) fan-usually-pleasing things:

Cross-overs, where characters from one title/”universe”/publisher visit another’s — sometimes within the same publishing company, sometimes cross-publisher, like when Marvel’s Punisher came to Riverdale in 1994, or DC/Marvel’s AMALGAM series.

Sometimes these are within an existing title, sometimes a separate title, e.g. Batman and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles miniseries.

There’s some overlap with the notion of team-ups (and “Vs”s), like Superman and Batman, Flash and Green Lantern, JLA/Avengers, etc., and also with “cameos” — guest appearances, like Don Rickles in two issues of Jimmy Olsen during the 1970’s (part of Jack Kirby’s great Fourth World/New Gods run). See “15 Unlikely Comic Book Crossovers (That Actually Happened)” at Newsarama.

(Note: Dynamite Comics has lots of great cross-over comics. ‘Nuff said!)

And for more crossover listings and info, feel free — after you are done with this scroll — hop over to

“Event” typically refers to a big plot with lots of action, sub-plot, interaction, reveals, and whatnot. Some events are strictly within a title or (main) character, e.g., “Death of Superman,” Spider-Man Clone Conspiracy. Others span lots of titles, characters, and even times and universes/realities, e.g. Marvel’s Civil War and House of M, and, well, DC’s various “CRISES.”

TV DOES CROSS-OVERS AND EVENTS, TOO. TV, increasingly, is doing this. Back in 1967, the Batman and Green Hornet TV shows had a cross-over episode (“A Piece of the Action”). A decade before that, I Love Lucy had a “Lucy and Superman” “Lucy and Superman” episode.

From Flavorwire (“10 Great TV Crossover Episodes”) I just learned the St, Elsewhere cross-overs included a visit to Cheers (“…Turns out that Norm is Dr. Auschlander’s former accountant and Carla gave birth to her last child in the St. Elsewhere hospital…”). Homicide: Life on the Streets crossed over with Law & Order.

DC DOES CRISES. For DC Comics, “Crises” and other events often do “housecleaning” — condensing multiple “universes,” in particular, multiple versions of characters. That’s what DC did in their first Crisis, Crisis on Infinite Earths by Marv Wolfman and George Perez, in the mid-1980’s. (I believe I still have all my original copies of the mini-series and the tie-in issues.)

Marvel did this, too, in one of their (over)big events.) This doesn’t, IMHO, always work well; it feels to me like we go from clear, well-delineated parallel realities with the opportunity for world-hopping visits to one world with often-arbitrary who’s left’s and/or multiples, e.g., ya got both Peter Parker AND Miles Morales. (Yes, I know, that’s Marvel, not DC.)

The problem is, the simplification never lasts long. But that’s another article/rant.

INFINITE CAMEOS? NOT A CRISIS. DC-on-WB began to give us an inkling/sowed the seeds early on in this Flash series, with the Gideon computer room periodically showing Early Edition-class “future headlines” of Flash dying in the Crisis.

And then, warming my fan heart, a season or so later IIRC, an episode opening with the simple caption, “Earth-2” (or something like that).

And we’ve been teased with multi-verse cross-overs and changing Gideon headlines and Monitor pop-up appearances for well over a year now.

While, per this year’s Arrowverse cross-over event is battling the Anti-Monitor and (hopefully) preventing the collapse/death/whatever of the multiverse (the “infinite Earths”), the really fun part is the lengths the showrunners and network have gone to bring in/back characters from past episodes and other shows, and the actors who have played them, or had other roles.

Here’s a comprehensive list from the Arrowverse Wiki: “Crisis on Infinite Earths”.

For example, Black Lightning, whose eponymous WB series was not necessarily part of “the Arrowverse” (although, given we’ve got a multiverse, that’s easily finessed, I assume).

And, as with last year’s intro of Batwoman, we are getting an, ahem, harbinger of upcoming shows, with Stargirl. (Harbinger is an established Crisis character, hence my “ahem.”)

Most notably, Kevin Conroy, best known as the voice of Batman in the animated Batman Beyond (and other animated shows), showing up as Bruce Wayne. Lots of people are excited about this.

Brandon Routh will have two roles: as Legend’s Ray Palmer/The Atom, and also as (one of the) Clark Kent/Superman’s (men).

The other CK/S is being played by one of the Smallville alums: Tom Welling.

And Burt Ward, who played Robin to Adam West’s Batman, playing… “Burt Ward from Earth-66.”

MY CROSS-OVER/CAMEO SUGGESTIONS AND HOPES THAT I DOUBT WILL BE FULFILLED. That’s already an impressive list and effort.

But, y’know, particularly given the multiverse aspects of this event, why stop there? Here’s my suggestions, which, granted, it’s likely too late to be done, for a few more, perhaps done as a quick-cut montage or two (using the same logic that let the pirates in the Pirates of Penzance movie overflow into a production of HMS Pinafore):

o The Batman Legoverse. I consider the Batman LEGO movie the best Batman movie to date, and tied with Into the Spider-Verse for best superhero/comic movie.

o Riverdale. Not provably connected to the DC multiverse, but it’s on the same TV network, which should be equivalent in terms of connectivity.

o Charmed, Supernatural, etc.

o Penn & Teller’s Fool Us: Masters of Illusion. The first because it would be great to see P&T do some super magic, the second because it’s hosted by Dean Cain (who was Superman in The Adventures of Lois and Clark, and Supergirl’s dad in the current Supergirl show).

o Burden of Truth. Since the protagonist is played by Kristen Kreuk, who was Lana Lang on Smallville.

o Nancy Drew (for detecting) and Katy Keene (can work with Black Lightning’s spy/tailor/costumer Gambi)

o And if they could shim in from DC’s own streamingverse, the Titans (Dick Grayson/Robin/Nightwing, Donna Troy/Wonder Girl, Garth/Aqualad, Gar Logan/Beast Boy, Kory/Starfire, Hawk’n’Dove, Jason Todd/Robin, Conner/Superboy, Rachel/Raven, Rose & Jericho, Krypto), and The Doom Patrol.

o Lorelei and Rory Gilmore

o The Buffy and Scooby-Doo gangs.

o And oh yeah, that’s right — the good guys from Gotham.

I’d watch a full season of this.

And here’s Alex Cranz’s list “12 People Not Yet Cast in CW’s Crisis on Infinite Earths, But Who Absolutely Should Be” from io9.com.)

WANT TO KNOW MORE BEFORE (OR AFTER) THE FUN STARTS? There is, unsurprisingly, no shortage of (other) articles and videos for this fast-approaching TV cross-over event, ranging from “helpful stuff to know from comics history and these shows” to character and plot analyses of the trailers and other publicity. Here’s a few:

  • The Only Video You Need To Watch Before Crisis On Infinite Earths Airs. (Good recap that includes going back to DC’s comic introduction of “Earth-2” that lead to Crisis – DPD)
  • Everything You Should Know About Crisis On Infinite Earths. (Another good recap – you should watch both this and the one above – DPD)
  • Crisis On Infinite Earths: Every Confirmed Character

Pixel Scroll 11/25/19 It’s A Beautiful Scroll In The Pixelhood

(1) MUNROE DOCTRINE. “Moon dust may not burn you, but it’s no picnic.” In his debut “Good Question” column for The New York Times, “If I Touched the Moon, What Would It Feel Like?”, science author Randall Munroe explores what would happen if a person directly touched the moon.

(2) SKYWALKER PROMO. Complex supplies an introduction as “Disney Shares First Clip From ‘Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker'”.

Set on a Tatooine-like planet complete with speeder bike-style vehicles, the clip shows the trio alongside Chewbacca, C3PO, and BB-8 as they escape enroaching stormtroopers. Director and co-writer J.J Abrams recently teased that the ambition for the first entry of the sequel trilogy is at an all-time high. “What we set out to do was far more challenging,” he told Entertainment Weekly of the movie, which he admitted they had more “story adjustments” on than the previous entry he worked on, The Force Awakens.

(3) ICONIC SIXTIES COSTUMES ON THE BLOCK. Profiles in History will auction the Azarian Collection  on December 17. Genre stuff galore!

John Azarian is the founder and curator of the Azarian Collection, which you can see at theazariancollection.com. As a child of the 60s and a fan of nostalgia, John began collecting iconic items from the shows and movies he loved in his youth. Some of his favorite childhood memories include the superb television shows of the 1960s, like his favorite TV show, Batman, starring Adam West and Burt Ward.

…The highlight of the collection just so happens to be the first items he ever purchased, coincidentally, from Profiles in History.

  • The only known pair of complete costumes from The Dynamic Duo, Adam West’s “Batman” and Burt Ward’s “Robin” from the original 1960s TV series, Batman.
  • Adam West’s “Bruce Wayne” Shakespeare bust with hidden switch that opens the entrance to the Batcave from Batman.
  • Adam West’s “Batman” hero working Batmobile Batphone from Batman.
  • William Shatner’s “Captain James T. Kirk” wraparound tunic from Star Trek: The Original Series.
  • William Shatner’s “Alternate Universe Cpt. James T. Kirk” tunic from Star Trek: The Original Series, episode “Mirror, Mirror”.
  • Leonard Nimoy’s “Evil Spock” tunic from Star Trek: The Original Series, episode: “Mirror, Mirror”.
  • The I Dream of Jeannie signature Genie bottle.
  • “Jupiter 2” spaceship filming miniature from Lost in Space.
  • “Space Pod” filming miniature Lost in Space.
  • Henry Winkler’s “Arthur ‘Fonzie’ Fonzarelli” signature leather jacket from Happy Days.
  • Jeff Conaway’s “Kenicki” signature “T-Birds” jacket from the “Greased Lightnin’” musical number in Grease
  • Lynda Carter’s “Wonder Woman” signature superhero ensemble from Wonder Woman.
  • Barbara Eden’s “Jeannie” signature pink harem costume from I Dream of Jeannie.

(4) LOADING THE CANON. Library of America interviews editor Gary K. Wolfe about his selections for American Science Fiction: Eight Classic Novels of the 1960s The High Crusade, Poul Anderson; Way Station, Clifford D. Simak; Flowers for Algernon, Daniel Keyes;  . . . And Call Me Conrad [This Immortal], Roger Zelazny; Past Master, R. A. Lafferty; Picnic on Paradise, Joanna Russ; Nova, Samuel R. Delany; and Emphyrio, Jack Vance. “Gary K. Wolfe: Reinvention and revolution in 1960s science fiction”.

LOA: Appreciations of Delany’s Nova regularly note that it has roots in old-fashioned space opera, and in the next sentence mention how it anticipates cyberpunk. How does Nova simultaneously evoke science fiction’s past and anticipate its future?

 Wolfe: As his own critical and autobiographical works make clear, Delany was a sophisticated and critical reader of science fiction from an early age, so it’s not surprising he would make use of his knowledge of the genre’s classic space opera tropes, just as he had made use of the post-nuclear apocalypse theme in The Jewels of Aptor or the generation starship theme in The Ballad of Beta-2. So while the huge planet-hopping canvas and the economic and corporate rivalries suggest classic space opera, the characters are quite different. While there are human-machine interfaces and implants in Nova, I think the more important way in which it anticipates cyberpunk has to do with these characters: racially diverse, often alienated outsiders like The Mouse or drifters like Dan.

Nova is set in a much more distant future—the thirty-second century—than novels like William Gibson’s Neuromancer, set in the reasonably near future, probably sometime in the twenty-first century. And while Nova does touch upon themes like body modifications and virtual reality, it’s less concerned with information technology, urbanization, and other earmarks of cyberpunk. But I’ve always felt that, despite the remarkable futuristic insights of Gibson, Sterling, Rucker, and others, the “punk” aspect of cyberpunk is what really gave rise to all the later variations like steampunk, dieselpunk, etc.—and that streetwise “punk” sensibility was certainly prefigured by Nova, along with a few other important works of the ’50s through the ’70s.

(5) LIVE FOREVER. The New Yorker’s Joan Acocella critiques a new book’s strategies for “How to Read ‘Gilgamesh’”.

… The poet and scholar Michael Schmidt has just published a wonderful book, “Gilgamesh: The Life of a Poem” (Princeton), which is a kind of journey through the work, an account of its origins and discovery, of the fragmentary state of the text, and of the many scholars and translators who have grappled with its meaning. Schmidt encourages us to see “Gilgamesh” not as a finished, polished composition—a literary epic, like the Aeneid, which is what many people would like it to be—but, rather, something more like life, untidy, ambiguous. Only by reading it that way, he thinks, will we get close to its hard, nubbly heart.

(6) REFERENCE OF THE DAY. Now that you mention it….

(7) JURY DUTY. The Australian Science Fiction Foundation has put out a call for jurors for the 2020 Norma K Hemming Award – “eminent individuals in the Australian speculative fiction field.”

The award is designed to recognise excellence in the exploration of themes of race, gender, sexuality, class or disability in a published speculative fiction work. Jury members are generally appointed for a two year period, and no juror may judge the same category for more than four years. Expressions of interest are to be submitted via the online form by COB Friday December 6, 2019.

(8) DOUBLE TAKE. A DCU streamer will get a second airing on a network: “DC Universe’s ‘Stargirl’ to Air on The CW” – details in The Hollywood Reporter.

In a rare streaming-to-linear deal, the Greg Berlanti-produced superhero drama will air on The CW the day after episodes debut on WarnerMedia-backed subscription service DC Universe. Additionally, the Brec Bassinger-led drama will also be available to stream on The CW’s free digital platforms the day after their linear debut. The series will launch on DC Universe in the second quarter of 2020 with new episodes released weekly.

This is the latest effort to give a signal boost to a scripted original from the nice streaming service. In July, DC Universe renewed drama Doom Patrol for a second season with the sophomore order set to run on both DCU and WarnerMedia’s forthcoming subscription streaming service, HBO Max.

Stargirl follows high school sophomore Courtney Whitmore (Bassinger), who inspires an unlikely group of young heroes to stop the villains of the past. The project reimagines Stargirl and the very first superhero team, the Justice Society of America, in a fun, exciting and unpredictable series. Geoff Johns and Lee Moder created the character, who was named after the former’s sister, Courtney, who died in the 1996 explosion of TWA Flight 800. The character made her first appearance in July 1999’s Stars and S.T.R.I.P.E. #1.

(9) TODAY IN HISTORY.

  • November 25, 1915 — Albert Einstein formulated his general theory of relativity.
  • November 25, 1964 Voyage To The End Of The Universe premiered. The feature starred Zdenek Stepánek and Frantisek Smolík. It’s actually a 1963 Czechoslovak called Ikarie XB-1 is and  directed by Jind?ich Polák. The Americanized version has a very different end that the Czech version does.
  • November 25, 1983 I predatori di Atlantide (The Atlantis Interceptors) premiered in Italy. Starring Tony King,  Christopher Connelly, Gioia Scola, Michele Soavi and George Hilton. Directed by Ruggero Deodato who also directed the widely banned Cannibal Holocaust and Phantom of Death. 

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born November 25, 1920 Ricardo Montalbán. Khan Noonien Singh and Mr. Rourke. Armando and Grandpa Valentin Avellan. I’m picking those as four most memorable roles he’s played and they just happen to all be genre in nature. Oh, and is Khan Noonien Singh the only occurrence of a non-crew character carrying over from the original series into the films? I suspect not but I can’t think of anyone other. (Died 2009.)
  • Born November 25, 1926 Poul Anderson. My favorite ones by him? Orion Shall Rise for the mix of personal scale story with his usual grand political stories, and all of the Flandry and van Rijn stories. I also enjoy his Time Patrol stories as well, and the two Operation Luna are quite fun. He was quite honored with seven Hugo Awards and three Nebula Awards. (Died 2001.)
  • Born November 25, 1926 Jeffrey Hunter. Best known for his role as Capt. Christopher Pike in the original pilot episode of Star Trek and the later use of that material in “The Menagerie” episode.  Other genre work included Dimension 5, A Witch Without A Broom, Strange Portrait (never released, no print is known to exists), Alfred Hitchcock Hour, Journey into Fear and The Green Hornet. (Died 1969.)
  • Born November 25, 1941 Sandra Miesel, 78. She has described herself as “the world’s greatest expert” on Poul Anderson and Gordon R. Dickson. She’s written such works as Against Time’s Arrow: The High Crusade of Poul Anderson on Borgo Books and she’s written the front and back matter for many of their books. Oh, and she started out as a serious fan being nominated thrice for Hugos for her writing in zines such as Yandro and Granfalloon. She co-authored The Pied Piper of Atheism: Philip Pullman and Children’s Fantasy with Catholic journalist and canon lawyer Pete Vere. 
  • Born November 25, 1947 John Larroquette, 72. I think his best genre role is Jenkins in The Librarians. He’s also had one-offs in Almost Human, The Twilight Zone, Chuck, Batman: The Animated Series and Fantasy Island.  He’s uncredited but present in Tales from the Crypt presents Demon Knight, Doing voice acting in Green Lantern: First Flight, the Klingon Maltz in The Search for Spock and the oddly named K.K.K. in Twilight Zone: The Movie. Did you know he was the narrator of two Texas Chainsaw Massacre films? 
  • Born November 25, 1951 Charlaine Harris, 68. She is best known for the Southern Vampire series starring Sookie Stackhouse which was adapted as True Blood. I know I’ve read several of this series and enjoyed them. She has two other series, nether genre or genre adjacent, the Aurora Teagarden and Lily Bard series. 
  • Born November 25, 1953 Mark Frost, 66. He’s best known as a writer for Hill Street Blues (I know it’s not genre but superb nonetheless) and as the co-creator with David Lynch of Twin Peaks in which he’s been involved with in other roles as well. He had a hand in writing both of the Fantastic Four films. He was also one of the Executive Producers of the very short lived All Souls series.
  • Born November 25, 1968 Jill Hennessy, 51. Best known for being Dr. Marie Lazarus in RoboCop 3 which did not star Peter Weller despite my not noticing this for several viewings. She pops up elsewhere such as twice in the War of The Worlds series playing two different characters which she also foes in The Hitchhiker series, and amazingly being on Friday the 13th: The Series in four different roles!
  • Born November 25, 1974 Sarah Monette, 45. Under the pen name of Katherine Addison, she published The Goblin Emperor which garnered  the Locus Award for Best Fantasy Novel and was nominated for the Nebula, Hugo and World Fantasy Awards. She won the Spectrum Award in 2003 for her short story “Three Letters from the Queen of Elfland”. Her first two novels Mélusine and The Virtu are quite wonderful and I highly recommend her Iskryne series that she co-wrote with Elizabeth Bear. 

(11) COMICS SECTION.

  • Tom Gauld has tapped into a theme that brings to mind Lafferty’s “Slow Tuesday Night.”

(12) TURN ON THE BAT FRIGHT. “Bruce Wayne warns wealth tax on billionaires could result in fewer crimes foiled via jet-powered cars” – a facetious headline in The Beaverton.

Gotham’s leading philanthropist has joined other billionaires, including Facebook’s Mark Zuckerburg and hedge-fund billionaire Leon Cooperman, in opposing [Elizabeth] Warren. Wayne has even gone one step further, insisting a wealth tax could curb private spending on items such as hang glider capes, personally-branded boomerangs, and rodent-themed flood lights that illuminate the night sky.

(13) AU REVOIR? French sff news site ActuSF tweeted about the recent conference in China —

“On November 24, Asian science fiction writers announced at the 5th International Science Fiction Conference in China that more international cooperation is expected in the Asian FS sector.”

— Prompting a despairing comment from Olivier Pacquet to another French SF writer, Sylvie Denis:

“We can say goodbye to a Worldcon in France in 2023.”

(14) THEY SLEIGH ME. Trader Joe is selling Grinch-inspired Grump trees for your Yuletide pleasure —

(15) HAPPI CAMPER. Mothership is there when “Pope dons traditional coat with anime image of his face to greet the Japanese”.

Pope Francis was in Japan for a four-day visit on Saturday, Nov. 23 — his second papal visit to the country.

While greeting Catholics and the media on Monday, Nov. 25, the Pope, known for his unconventional background and unorthodox methods and comments, wore a Japanese coat called a “happi”.

…Words in different languages, such as Japanese and Spanish, can be seen on the “happi” as well.

Some of the Japanese phrases read “gratitude”, “let’s pray together”, “may there be peace”, “what can be done to give disaster victims hope”, and “we are glad that you’re the pope”.

Wikipedia amplifies:

happi is a traditional Japanese straight-sleeved coat. They are usually worn only during festivals. Originally these represented the crest of a family, as happi were worn by house servantsFirefighters in the past also used to wear happi; the symbol on their backs referred to the group with which they were associated.

 (16) LET NOTHING STAND IN YOUR WAY. This is wonderfully over the top. A Foot Locker commercial asks people how desperately do they want this shoe? “Would you do whatever it takes to get to the Week of Greatness and get the drop? Even if aliens attacked Earth during a zombie epidemic and a global meteor storm?”

[Thanks to John Hertz, John King Tarpinian, JJ, Chip Hitchcock, Cat Eldridge, Martin Morse Wooster, Mike Kennedy, Lise Andreasen, Olav Rokne, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day, our neighbor Jon Meltzer.]

Pixel Scroll 6/6/19 Scroll Me Some Pixels And File Hacks, I Don’t Care If I Never Get Back

(1) F&SF COVER. Gordon Van Gelder, publisher of The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, shares a preview of their July/Aug. 2019 cover. The cover art is by Mondolithic Studios.

(2) RANKING SPACE OPERA. The readers of Discover Sci-Fi voted these as “The Top 10 Space Opera books or series of all time”. Coming in first place —

1. Honor Harrington series by David Weber

And the number one, all time best space opera as selected by DiscoverSciFi readers is the Honor Harrington series! Otherwise known as The Honorverse, most of the more than 20 novels and anthology collections cover events between 4000 and 4022 AD. Much of the series’ political drama follows that of Europe’s political scene from the 1500’s to 2000’s.

(3) PRIDE MONTH. Tor.com invites readers to celebrate with free novellas: “Happy Pride Month! Download These 4 Free LGBTQ+ Sci-Fi/Fantasy Novellas Before June 8!”

Download In Our Own Worlds now, featuring:

  • The Lamb Will Slaughter The Lion by Margaret Killjoy
  • Passing Strange by Ellen Klages
  • A Taste of Honey by Kai Ashante Wilson
  • The Black Tides of Heaven by JY Yang

(4) SUPER JOB. LAist interview Mark Waid about “How To Become A Comic Book Writer In LA: From A Legendary Superman Writer”.

STEP 2: BUILD A NETWORK

Waid attributes getting the chance to write comics to dumb luck. But there was also a lot of hard work. He started his career at Fantagraphics in Thousand Oaks, doing editing, layout, and other production on comic book fan magazine Amazing Heroes.

He also had the chance to write for the magazine, doing interviews that he described as puff pieces — but discovered that he was inadvertently networking, since he was now in touch with every editor and creator in comics.

When an editorial position opened up at DC Comics in 1987, he was known there for his work in those fan magazines.

“Was I interested in coming in for an interview? Well, yes. Jesus, yes,” Waid said.

(5) DRAINING THE SWAMP. At this DC they really did it — “‘Swamp Thing’ Canceled Less Than a Week After DC Universe Debut” in The Hollywood Reporter.

Just six days after its debut on DC Universe, Swamp Thing has been canceled.

Only one episode of the series has aired on DC Universe. The remainder of the show’s 10-episode run will play out on the streaming platform, but it won’t return after that. 

(6) IF YOU WILL. In “The Race to Venus”, Nature reviews the initiatives to explore Venus.

After decades of neglect, the world’s space agencies can no longer resist the pull of Earth’s evil twin.

…Venus is Earth’s double. Recent research has even suggested that it might have looked like Earth for three billion years, with vast oceans that could have been friendly to life. “That’s what sets my imagination

on fire,” says Darby Dyar, a planetary scientist at Mount Holyoke College in South Hadley, Massachusetts. “If that’s the case, there was plenty of time for evolution to kick into action.” That could mean that Venus was (somewhat surprisingly) the first habitable planet in the Solar System — a place where life was just as likely to arise as it was on Earth. That alone is a reason to return to the former ocean world.

(7) LEAVING MEATSPACE. [Item by Jonathan Cowie.] Nature this week reviews an SF novel in a substantive way – we perhaps get a full page SF novel a review once a year or twice if we are lucky.  Up this time is Neil Stephenson’s new novel Fall. “A digital god: Neal Stephenson rides again”

Neal Stephenson likes to blow things up. In Seveneves (2015), for instance, the prolific science-fiction writer detonated the Moon, then played out how humanity tried to save itself from extinction. In his new tome, Fall, the metaphorical explosion kills just one man.  But this is an individual sitting on a few billion dollars, and longing to escape the shackles of mortality. The aftermath of the blast is thus just as powerful, and changes the fate of humanity just as profoundly.

(8) NASA COLLECTIBLES. [Item by Daniel Dern.] This Orion appears to be a spacecraft, rather than the boom-boom drive discussed in a recent scroll; submitted here for the souvenir-turtles (1) aspect: “Orion Collectibles”.

(1) If you don’t recognize the Heinlein reference, you won’t be gathering moss. Or syng pngf, aka Zamboni’d credentials.

(9) BEGIN AGAIN. The American Scholar’s George Musser weighs in on the future of the space program: “Our Fate Is in the Stars”.

…In space, no one can hear your echo chamber. Those who worked on Apollo were not immune to human foibles, such as being a little too fond of their own reasoning, but the mission came first. Fishman recalls disputes over the mission plan. Engineers in Huntsville wanted to fly directly from Earth orbit to the lunar surface. Engineers in Houston wanted to use lunar orbit as a way station. The meetings got heated. NASA commissioned two studies, with the twist that each team had to flesh out the other’s plan. Making the engineers step into each other’s shoes unstuck the debate, and Huntsville came around to Houston’s approach. That one decision ended up saving billions of dollars.

But as much as the Apollo program inspires, it also taunts. The unity of purpose, the technological virtuosity, and the exploratory achievements seem beyond us today—not just in space, but in every domain. I almost wish we didn’t remember Apollo, because the remembrances fill a void. The space program still does amazing things, but nothing like Apollo. The world has made itself a safer and healthier place, but some problems demand direction from the top, and we don’t get much of that.

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born June 6, 1853 Charles Howard Hinton. British mathematician and writer of SF works titled Scientific Romances. He’s largely known now for coining the word “tesseract” which would get used by writers as diverse as Charles  Leadbeater, H.P. Lovecraft, Robert Heinlein and  Madeleine L’Engle. He and his, errr, unique family would in turn figure into the fiction of Alan Moore, Carlos Atanes, Aleister Crowley, John Dewy and Jorge Luis Borges. (Died 1907.)
  • Born June 6, 1915 Tom Godwin. He published three novels and twenty-seven short stories in total. SFWA selected his story, “The Cold Equations”, as one of the best SF short stories published before 1965, and it is therefore included in The Science Fiction Hall of Fame, Volume One, 1929–1964. (Died 1980.)
  • Born June 6, 1947 Robert Englund, 72. I think his best performance was as Blackie on the very short-lived Nightmare Cafe. Of course, most will remember him playing Freddy Krueger in the Nightmare on Elm Street franchise. He actually appeared in a couple of now forgotten horror films, Dead & Buried  and Galaxy of Terror, before landing that role. And he’s continued to do myriad horror films down to the years ranging from CHUD to Strippers vs Werewolves. Versatile man, our Robert.  
  • Born June 6, 1951 Geraldine McCaughrean, 68. Fifteen years ago, she wrote Peter Pan in Scarlet, the official sequel to Peter Pan commissioned by Great Ormond Street Hospital, the holder of Peter Pan’s copyright which J.M. Barrie granted them. So has anyone here read it? 
  • Born June 6, 1959 Amanda Pays, 60. I first encountered her as Thero Jones on Max Headroom, a series I think could be considered the best SF series ever made. She also had a guest role as Phoebe Green in the episode “Fire” of The X-Files, and and as Christina “Tina” McGee in The Flash. She appeared as Dawn in the Spacejacked film. 
  • Born June 6, 1961 Lisabeth Shatner, 58. Uncredited as child along with her sister Melanie in “Miri” episode. Also appeared uncredited on TekWar entitled “Betrayal” which she wrote. The latter also guest-starred her sister, and was directed by their father.  Co-wrote with father, Captain’s Log: William Shatner’s Personal Account of the Making of Star Trek V the Final Frontier.
  • Born June 6, 1963 Jason Isaacs, 56. Captain Gabriel Lorca, the commanding officer of the USS Discovery in the first season of Discovery and also provided the voice of The Inquisitor, Sentinel, in Star Wars Rebels, and Admiral Zhao in Avatar: The Last Airbender. Oh, and the role of playing Lucius Malfoy in the Harry Potter film franchise.
  • Born June 6, 1964 Jay Lake. Another one who died far too young. If you read nothing else by him, read his brilliant Mainspring Universe series. Though his Green Universe is also entertaining and I see Wiki claims an entire Sunspin Universe series is forthcoming from him. Anyone know about these novels? (Died 2014.)

(11) COMICS SECTION.

  • Love of books features in Grant Snider’s Incidental Comics:

(12) WW84. On Twitter, Patty Jenkins posted a photo of Gal Gadot’s snappy new costume for Wonder Woman 1984.

(13) GO WITH THE FLOW. Tor.com shows Sparth’s cover for the third book in the series — ”Revealing John Scalzi’s The Last Emperox. (Coming in April 2020.)

The collapse of The Flow, the interstellar pathway between the planets of the Interdependency, has accelerated. Entire star systems—and billions of people—are becoming cut off from the rest of human civilization. This collapse was foretold through scientific prediction… and yet, even as the evidence is obvious and insurmountable, many still try to rationalize, delay and profit from, these final days of one of the greatest empires humanity has ever known.

(14) CAT TUBE. Science Direct has an article on “The use of animal-borne cameras to video-track the behaviour of domestic cats”.

…Free roaming domestic animals can have a profound effect on wildlife. To better understand and mitigate any impact, it is important to understand the behaviour patterns of the domestic animals, and how other variables might influence their behaviour. Direct observation is not always feasible and bears the potential risk of observer effects. The use of animal-borne small video-cameras provides the opportunity to study behaviour from the animal’s point of view….

A nontechnical article about the study in the Washington Post makes it sound like their effect isn’t as profound as advertised: “Catcam videos reveal cats don’t sleep all day. (Just some of it.)”

Indoors, Huck said, most cats’ No. 1 activity would almost certainly be sleeping. But these cats’ lives were recorded when they were outdoors, and they had a higher priority: Their top activity was “resting” — not sleeping, but not exactly up and at ’em. Another preferred pastime was “exploring,” which Huck said amounts to “sniffing at plants or things.”

Although “cats are famous for being lazy,” Huck said, even their alfresco resting was active, if subtly so. The cat’s-eye-view videos revealed many instances of felines sitting for some time in one spot, but “constantly scanning the area,” as evidenced by faint shifts in the camera angle — left to right, up and down.

“They are really very patiently watching the environment, not wasting energy,” Huck said.

(15) THE SOON TO BE LATE AUTHOR. You’ll need to hurry. In LA, it’s opening weekend for “The Assassination of Edgar Allan Poe” at the Downtown Repertory Theater. Tickets for Poe on June 7th, 7:30pm are $25 (discount)

(16) RETRO REVIEWS. Steve J. Wright has completed his Retro Hugo Novelette finalist reviews.

Novelette

(17) DRACULA’S BALLS. You didn’t know he lost them? Well, strictly speaking, “Dracula the Impaler’s 15th century cannonballs unearthed in Bulgaria”SYFY Wire’s has the story.

According to a report in Archaeology in Bulgaria, the balls were “most likely” used by Count Vlad in the winter of 1461-1462 during his “siege and conquest” of the Zishtova Fortress being held by the Ottoman Turks. The balls were used for culverins, an early, primitive form of the cannon.  

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

Pixel Scroll 5/1/19 The Pixel That Can Be Scrolled Is Not The True Pixel

(1) FUTURE TENSE. This month’s entry in the Future Tense Fiction series is “The Song Between Worlds” by Indra Das, author of the award-winning novel The Devourers.

Each month, Future Tense Fiction—a series of short stories from Future Tense and ASU’s Center for Science and the Imagination about how technology and science will change our lives—publishes a story on a theme. The theme for April–June 2019: space settlement.

It was published along with a response essay “What Would Sound Be Like on Mars?” by the astronomer Lucianne Walkowicz of the Adler Planetarium.)

… Sound is a relatively simple physical phenomenon, but the way our minds shape it can be complex. It’s a wave, but not the same kind of wave one might see in the ocean, where the medium (water, in the case of the ocean) travels toward or away from us. If sound waves were like ocean waves, we would not be able to speak to one another without blowing a constant breeze toward the listener, which is (generally speaking) not what happens. Rather, sound waves travel by creating collisions between the molecules of air between us and the origin of the sound….

(2) SURVEILLANCE STATE. In The Atlantic, Lily Meyer reviews “Two ambitious new novels build techno-futures in which surveillance offers disturbing new threats” — “Science Fiction’s Preoccupation With Privacy”.

…The only character in Dark Constellations not interested in controlling others is Piera, a disaffected Stromatoliton biologist whose alienation from her male co-workers and from the overreach of her company leads her to cut herself off—from people, and from broader systems. She privately refers to her employer as “the animal of the state unleashed,” but remains at Stromatoliton, satisfying her voyeuristic curiosity even as the future of Argentine privacy is in question. With Piera, Oloixarac seems to underscore the impossibility of stepping away from power in a world in which science overrides ethics. Piera may consider herself an observer rather than a participant, but she remains complicit in the global expansion of surveillance….

(3) BRIANNA WU. Media people covering last weekend’s synagogue shooting in San Diego tapped Brianna Wu for comment about the shooter’s 8chan connection.

…Whether the Internet is creating hate groups or just serving as a gathering place, one thing has become clear: What happens online doesn’t stay there.

Brianna Wu is a software engineer who lives in Massachusetts. In 2014, she was targeted in something called Gamergate, in which men threatened female video game players and developers. The harassment started mainly on 8chan.

“They threw bricks through my windows. They sent me hundreds upon hundreds of death threats, rape threats,” Wu says. “I’ve had people from 8chan follow me around just to let me know, ‘I’m near you and could hurt you if I wanted to.’ “

Wu, who is running for Congress, says the solution is simple. “We need dedicated FBI agents that understand online culture to look at these kinds of extreme crimes and prosecute them,” she says.

…The message is trickling to the campaign trail. Brianna Wu, a software engineer who is running as a Democrat for a House seat in Massachusetts, told me she is “angry” that law enforcement has not done more to rein in 8chan, which has also been connected to the circulation of child pornography and is a place where people are frequently doxxed. 

After Wu herself was targeted on the website in 2014 with death threats during the Internet culture war known as Gamergate, she says she says she documented “tons of illegal activity” on 8chan and shared her findings with the FBI. She believes it’s possible the recent shootings could have been avoided if law enforcement took greater action, she said, and wants to increase funding for the FBI to investigate online crime if elected to Congress. 

“We need to fund a specific task force within the FBI that is very tech literate and tasked to prosecute these types of online crimes,” she said. More from Wu:

(4) CAMERAS ROLL ON PICARD. They’ve begun to “Make it so” — “Star Trek: Patrick Stewart’s Picard TV Show Starts Filming” at ScreenRant.

With a mix of old and newcomer talent on both sides of the camera, the Picard series looks to follow in Discovery‘s footsteps and blend old-fashioned Star Trek tropes with fresh sci-fi ideas and a more modern tone. Of course, this show has an advantage over CBS All Access’ first Star Trek series in that it’s not a prequel and has more freedom to play around with its storytelling, as opposed to having to work around classic lore and mythology. Something like the Star Wars sequel trilogy has certainly gotten a passionate fan response by bringing back old characters for new adventures, so it’ll be very interesting to see how Trekkies take to Picard’s story continuing by comparison.

(5) CARL BRANDON ORIGIN STORY. The Jeanne Gomoll-edited Carl Brandon, by and about the hoax fan Terry Carr co-created long ago, is available for order from Lulu ($16.00).

Terry Carr recounts the invention of an imaginary black science fiction fan named Carl Brandon, one of the field’s most (in)famous hoaxes. In addition to Carl Brandon’s complete history, this volume includes his J.D. Salinger parody, “The Cacher of the Rye;” a more current parody by Carl Brandon 2.0, “The Kvetcher on the Racists;” and an essay by Samuel R. Delany, “Racism and Science Fiction.” To quote Carr: “In the late fifties, several of the fans of the Bay Area…presented fandom with a new fanwriter who was quickly acclaimed as one of the best writers around and who was, not incidentally, the first prominent fan who was black.” Read the book for more of this fascinating tale. All proceeds go to the Carl Brandon Society, which promotes discussions on race at conventions and conferences, and through its support of the Parallax and Kindred literary awards, and the Octavia E. Butler Memorial Scholarship Fund.

(6) JOHN SLADEK. The paperback edition of New Maps: The Uncollected John Sladek was informally launched at the UK Eastercon and the promised ebook is now available reports David Langford. Both can be ordered from Ansible Editions. Trade paperback 9″ x 6″, 255pp, ISBN 978-0-244-15877-4. $20 plus local postage from Lulu.com: click button below. Ebook in the usual formats at £5.50: again, click button below.

(7) FREE DOWNLOAD. Of more fannish interest, a free ebook reissue of Terry Carr’s 1986 collection Fandom Harvest has been posted on David Langford’s TAFF page as an incitement to give generously to the fund. He adds, “Many thanks to Bob Silverberg for allowing his 1986 introduction to be included and to the original publisher John-Henri Holmberg for his afterword and general approval. Carol Carr has given her blessing to this reissue.”

Langford further notes – “For anyone interested in acquiring the Sladek or the Brandon paperback: both are published via Lulu.com, which currently has a 15%-off discount code ONEFIVE that’s good until 2 May.”

(8) HARLEQUIN ART. The Bristol Board features nine pieces of Steranko art done for an edition of a Harlan Ellison story.

Repent Harlequin, said the Tick-Tock Man!, a portfolio of illustrations by Jim Steranko, done as an adaptation of a short story that was written by Harlan Ellison. the last plate is a 3-D pinup.

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born May 1, 1905 Edna Mayne Hull. Wife of A.E. van Vogt. And yes, she too wrote genre fiction. Her initial sale, “The Flight That Failed”, appeared in the November 1942 issue of Astounding Science Fiction under chosen author credit of “E.M. Hull” though eventually she used her own name. She has but one novel of her own, Planets for Sale, and one with her husband, The Winged Man, and only a dozen stories, one with A.E. Van Vogt & James H. Schmitz. (Died 1975.)
  • Born May 1, 1924 Terry Southern. Screenwriter and author of greatest interest for the screenplay from Peter George’s original novel, Two Hours to Doom (as by Peter Bryant) of Dr. Strangelove Or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb directed (and in part written) by Stanley Kubrick. He was also involved in scripting Barbarella. (Died 1995.)
  • Born May 1, 1946 Joanna Lumley, 73. No, she was no Emma Peel, but she was definitely more than a bit appealing in the New Avengers as Purdey. All twenty-six episode are out on DVD. Her next genre out was Sapphire & Steel whichstarred David McCallum as Steel and her as Sapphire. Skip forward nearly near twenty years and find her playing The Thirteenth Doctor in The Curse of Fatal Death in Comic Relief special. 
  • Born May 1, 1948 Terry Goodkind, 71. You obviously know he is. I’ve read some of the Sword of Truth series. It’s ok, but not really my cup of Earl Grey Tea Hot. Epic fantasy isn’t something that I really read a lot of to be honest preferring epic sf instead. 
  • Born May 1, 1952 Andrew Sawyer, 67. Librarian by profession, critic and editor as well who an active part of fandom. He is the Reviews Editor for Foundation: The International Review of Science Fiction. I’ve also got him doing Upon the Rack in Print, a book review column in Interzone and elsewhere and contributing likewise the Rust Never Sleeps column to Paperback Inferno as well. He hasn’t written much fiction, but there is some such as “The Mechanical Art” in the Digital Dreams anthology.
  • Born May 1, 1955 J. R. Pournelle, 64. That’s as in Jennifer, the daughter of the Jerry we know. She’s here because she wrote Outies (Mote Series Book 3) which I confess she sent me a digital galley of years ago but I still need to take a look at. The first novel in the series is great. 
  • Born May 1, 1956 Phil Foglio, 63. He won the Best Fan Artist Hugo Award in 1977 and 1978. He later did work for DC, First and Marvel Comics including the backup stories in Grimjack. He and his wife are responsible for the exemplary Girl Genius, a three-time Best Graphic Story Hugo winner.
  • Born May 1, 1957 Steve Meretzky, 62. He co-designed the early Eighties version of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy video game with the full participation of Douglas Adams. SF Encyclopedia notes that he did also a space opera themed game, Planetfall and its sequel A Mind Forever Voyaging in the Eighties as well. He also did the definitely more erotic Leather Goddesses of Phobos as well. 

(10) DC WOULDN’T HAVE NEEDED A SEQUEL. On CBR.com, Vivian Achieng thinks MCU characters are relatively wimpy and there are at least “25 DC Characters That Are More Powerful Than Thanos.”

When we talk about the MCU blockbuster, Avengers: Infinity War, we cannot fail but mention the wrecking ball that was Thanos, and his infinity gauntlet of course. For the very first time, earth’s mightiest heroes, The Avengers, look to have met their match. All their powers, tech and a snarky Star-Lord were not powerful enough to stop Thanos’ crusade to save the universe. Fingers crossed for Captain Marvel. The superheroes of the Marvel Cinematic Universe can appear to be underpowered compared to other superheroes. This isn’t a knock on Captain America or Iron Man or the rest, but they don’t compare characters from other franchises. If characters from other universes happened to show up in Infinity War, we think the fight against Thanos would have ended a tad differently. In fact, some wouldn’t even need the support of the Avengers and could take the Mad Titan out all on their own.

Granted, Thanos is not an easy walk over. Without the Infinity Gauntlet, he is as strong or stronger than Thor with fair speed to match, he is pretty much indestructible, and has scientific knowledge greater than anyone on Earth, which in turn makes him a master strategist. He also has access to cosmic power which he can use to release blasts from his hands and eyes. With the Infinity Gauntlet, however, he can manipulate all of reality, time, space and the minds and souls of others. He looks pretty unbeatable, right? Wrong! Here is a list of 25 characters from Marvel’s arch enemies, DC, which can very well handle the threat that is Thanos….

(11) RIPLEY! BELIEVE IT OR NOT. “Sigourney Weaver surprises high school cast of Alien: The Play”CNET has the story.

… “I’m so excited to be here,” Weaver told them. “I’m representing all the Alien fans from all over the universe … I think what you’re doing is so cool and so important.”

Another video shows one high school student yelling, “I love you, you’re my childhood hero! I can’t believe you’re here right now!” before hugging Weaver.

The whole play is online –

(12) SFF IN TRANSLATION. Rachel Cordasco’s “Love in the New Millennium [Why This Book Should Win]” is one in a series of thirty-five posts about every title longlisted for the 2019 Best Translated Book Awards

Love in the New Millennium by Can Xue, translated from the Chinese by Annelise Finegan Wasmoen (Yale University Press)

Love in the New Millennium is a work of operatic magical realism; a book with many layers, many shifting romantic relationships, and no clear plot. Like Frontier, one of Can Xue’s previous novels, Love invites us into the hazy, sometimes frustratingly-elusive worlds of a handful of characters, many of whom are desperately trying to find a “home.”…

(13) CHALLENGE FOR THE WIKIPEDIA. UnDark discusses “What a Deleted Profile Tells Us About Wikipedia’s Diversity Problem”

You’ve probably never heard of Clarice Phelps. If you were curious, you might enter her name into Google. And, if you had done so anytime between September of last year and February of this year, you would likely have found her Wikipedia entry. The nuclear scientist is thought to be the first African-American woman to help discover a chemical element; she was part of the Oak Ridge National Laboratory team that purified the radioactive sample of berkelium-249 from which the new element, tennessine, was created. But on February 11, 2019, in the middle of Black History Month and on the International Day of Women and Girls in Science, Phelps’s page was deleted. The optics, as they say, weren’t good.

The deletion came after a brief but intense dispute between Wikipedia contributors over whether Phelps met the site’s criteria for notability. Ordinarily, such editorial spats are considered a feature of the crowdsourced encyclopedia, not a bug. If one of the site’s hundreds of thousands of active contributors mistakenly or purposely adds incorrect information, the wisdom of the crowd will ensure that truth prevails.

But in the case of Phelps, the crowd made the wrong call, and the site’s rules facilitated that. The entire spectacle revealed just how much work remains to be done to address the systemic biases that disproportionately keep women and people of color out of Wikipedia’s pages.

(14) UNLIKELY STEPS. Scoffers can’t believe the discovery, or that military authorities tweeted about it — “‘Yeti footprints’: Indian army mocked over claim”.

The Indian army has claimed to have found footprints of the yeti, sparking jokes and disbelief on social media.

The army tweeted to its nearly six million followers on Monday that it had discovered “mysterious footprints of mythical beast ‘Yeti’ at the Makalu Base Camp [in the Himalayas]”.

(15) IT BITES. CNN’s AJ Willingham says “The ‘Sonic the Hedgehog’ trailer is out and people are having visceral reactions to it”.

People are weird about teeth, and always have been. According to dental researcher Rosemary Wells, ancient cultures had a variety of ways of dealing with baby teeth, as described in her essay “The Making of an Icon: The Tooth Fairy in North American Folklore and Popular Culture:”

(1) the tooth was thrown into the sun; (2) thrown into the fire; (3) thrown between the legs; (4) thrown onto or over the roof of the house, often with an invocation to some animal or individual; (5) placed in a mouse hole near the stove or hearth or offered to some other animal; (6) buried; (7) hidden where animals could not get it; (8) placed in a tree or on a wall; and (9) swallowed by the mother, child or animal.

That’s right, people have historically been so freaked out by teeth they used to THROW THEM INTO THE SUN. Dental anxiety is real! You can’t just stick a full set of veneers in any old cartoon character and expect people to not be traumatized!

(16) PTERRY WEEPS. Chip Hitchcock advises a trigger warning should accompany BBC’s video: “Leuser rainforest: Baby orangutans rescued from Indonesia’s pet trade”.

Baby orangutans on the island of Sumatra are being captured and sold as pets, but charities are working to rescue the animals and confront the owners.

(17) HIGH-PRICED COLLECTIBLE. “Star Wars Bib Fortuna toy prototype sells for £36k” – BBC has the story.

A prototype of a Star Wars toy has sold for £36,000 at auction.

The 1980s master model of Bib Fortuna, a male Twi’lek who lived on Tatooine, had an estimate of £12,000.

It sold at Thornaby-based Vectis Auctions along with prototypes of an ewok called Logray which fetched £12,000, and an Emperor’s royal guard which reached £28,800.

Auctioneer Kathy Taylor said the three “relatively unknown” characters had “beaten all expectations”.

They had been made in America by Kenner for the production of the toys in Europe by Palitoy, which was based in Coalville, Leicestershire.

…Ms Taylor said the master models are larger and more detailed than the final figures sold in toy shops.

(18) RESISTANCE. Season 3 of The Handmaid’s Tale arrives June 5 on Hulu.

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

Pixel Scroll 4/23/19 Le Pixel Sur Le Faire Défiler

(1) SIGN UP AND LINE UP. LAist says “You Can Reserve Star Wars Land Tickets At Disneyland Starting Next Week”.

Crowds are expected to be intense for Disneyland’s new section of the park, Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge. The company announced that you’ll need reservations (at least at first) to take this particular intergalactic journey. Now they’ve released details on just how and when you can score those reservations.

Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, aka Batuu, aka Black Spire Outpost, aka Star Wars Land opens Friday, May 31, and reservations open on May 2 — a week from Thursday. The reservations are free and are currently required to get into Galaxy’s Edge between opening day and Sunday, June 23.

Those reservations open May 2 at 10 a.m., and the park promises that full details on how to make those reservations will be released that morning at 8 a.m. You’ll be able to get those specifics via the Disney Parks Blog and Disneyland.com.

But “First visitors to Disney’s Star Wars land will get just four hours to see it all” warns the Los Angeles Times.

The opening of the 14-acre land is expected to create such a crush of fans that Disneyland engineers and landscapers have been working for several months to come up with ways to widen walkways and improve queueing systems to accommodate more visitors.

Disneyland managers announced last month that the efforts to ease congestion included removing several smoking areas from the resort and banning extra wide strollers by May 1.

The new land, which will resemble an out-of-the-way outpost on the planet Batuu, will feature two rides, four eateries, one space-themed cantina and five retail shops.

Only one of the two rides in the land — the interactive Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run — will operate when the land opens. The second attraction in the new land — Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance — will open later in the year.

(2) THEY DO NOT LIKE IT. The Guardian reports: “Tolkien estate disavows forthcoming film starring Nicholas Hoult”.

On Tuesday morning, the estate and family of Tolkien issued a terse statement in which they announced their “wish to make clear that they did not approve of, authorise or participate in the making of this film”, and that “they do not endorse it or its content in any way”.

A spokesperson for the estate told the Guardian that the statement was intended to make its position clear, rather than heralding future legal action.

John Garth, author of the biography Tolkien and the Great War, said he felt the estate’s response to the film was “sensible”.

“Biopics typically take considerable licence with the facts, and this one is no exception. Endorsement by the Tolkien family would lend credibility to any divergences and distortions. That would be a disservice to history,” he said. “As a biographer, I expect I’ll be busy correcting new misconceptions arising from the movie. I hope that anyone who enjoys the film and is interested in Tolkien’s formative years will pick up a reliable biography.”

(3) STOKERCON. StokerCon 2019 chair Brian W. Matthews wrote a stronger-than-average post about the convention’s antiharassment policy: “A Fellowship of Respect”.

…Reports of harassment at StokerCon™ 2019 will be followed up by the convention chairs, Lisa Morton and Brian Matthews. Anyone found to have violated these rules may be sanctioned, up to and including expulsion from the convention without refund, and if warranted, involvement of the Grand Rapids Police.

It pains me to have to state the obvious, let alone make it the subject of a blog post, but harassment exists, and it will not be tolerated. No one should be subjected to uncomfortable or unwanted attention. Ever. As a community, we understand horror. We write about it all the time. Protagonists. Antagonists. Good people put into terrible situations. Bad people out to cause harm. We live inside the heads of these characters. Frightened? Threatened? The feeling that you want to throw up? We get it.

Not to put too fine a point on it, but when it comes to StokerCon™ 2019, don’t be the villain. 

Be the hero.

(4) RETURN TO THE HAGUE. Reunicon 2020, the 30th anniversary celebration of ConFiction 1990, is building increasingly detailed memory webpages to attract prospective attendees.

It all started with a phone call from a fan in New York way back in 1984. Then it took three years of bidding to win the race in Brighton in 1987. Another three long years to make ConFiction1990 a fact in The Hague, the second World Science Fiction Convention on the continent of Europe.

We have created this website and social media avenues to preserve the past for the future and… to promote our intended Reunicon 2020 to commemorate 30 years after ConFiction 1990.

We look forward hearing from you or seeing you in 2020 in The Hague and till then, enjoy the memories we wish to like and follow or share with you all ConFiction1990.

(5) LEGO CATHEDRAL. In the Washington Post, Marylou Tousignant says the Washington National Cathedral, as a fundraiser, is building a Lego version of itself that will ultimately be 500,00 bricks in total.  Visitors can buy bricks for $2 and put them on the cathedral.  The project is patterned after a similar project at the Durham Cathedral in England. “At Washington National Cathedral, another church is rising — out of 500,000 Legos”.  

The website is cathedral.org/lego.

(6) LEARNING FROM TINGLE. Professor Sarah Uckelman (Durham University) tweeted the following from a seminar on “Computational Creativity Meets Digital Literary Studies.”

Access “DeepTingle” [PDF] here.

(7) ELLISON CALLBACK. Dwight Garner’s review in the New York Times “In Ian McEwan’s Latest, a Ménage à Trois — Software Included” – touches on some authors’ genre/not genre antagonism:

This touchiness runs in both directions. Who can forget Harlan Ellison’s obituary last year in this newspaper, in which he was quoted as saying: “Call me a science fiction writer. I’ll come to your house and I’ll nail your pet’s head to a coffee table. I’ll hit you so hard your ancestors will die.”

(8) AVENUE 5. Slate praises the casting of a forthcoming HBO sff series: “HBO Orders Armando Iannucci’s New Hugh Laurie Outer Space Tourism Comedy Avenue 5 to Series”

Iannucci’s verbally dazzling style of comedy often revolves around forcing characters who hate each other to be stuck in the same room, No Exit-style—meetings, plane flights, more meetings—and then letting them insult each other as elaborately and obscenely as possible. And “on a cruise ship surrounded by the deadly vacuum of outer space” is the most “stuck in the same room with people I loathe” that it’s theoretically possible for a character to achieve, so expect fireworks.

The cast also sounds exceptional: Hugh Laurie, who’s been killing it on Veep, will star as the captain of the space cruise ship Avenue 5. The Book of Mormon’s Josh Gad will play an egocentric billionaire who runs hotels and health clubs and the cruise ship Avenue 5; Suzy Nakamura from Dr. Ken will play his right hand woman. Gad’s other employees include Zach Woods from Silicon Valley as the ship’s head of customer service, Nikki Amuka-Bird as the head of mission control on Earth, and Lenora Crichlow as the ship’s second engineer. The Thick of It’s Rebecca Front will play one of the passengers. Best of all, judging from character description alone, is that Star Trek: Voyager  alum Ethan Phillips will play Spike Martin, a hard-drinking former astronaut who falsely claims to have been “the first Canadian to land on Mars.”

(9) MCINTYRE MEMORIAL. Announced on CaringBridge: Vonda N. McIntyre’s memorial will be held Sunday afternoon on June 9 at The Mountaineers Goodman Auditorium at 7700 Sand Point Way NE in Seattle, Washington. Doors will open at 1:45, an event will start at 2:30, and the memorial will end at 4:30pm.

(10) MCGOVERN OBIT. Guy H. Lillian III reports:“Tom McGovern, a long-term member of the Southern Fandom Press Alliance, whose article on leaving the Jehovah’s Witnesses made a strong article for my genzine Challenger, apparently died of cancer April 21 or 22.”

(11) TRIVIAL TRIVIA.

Several theories exist about the question mark’s origins but the most widely accepted version is that Alcuin of York, an English scholar and poet born in 735 and a member of Charlemagne’s court, created it. Originally named the “punctus interrogativus” or “point of interrogation,” this mark was a dot with a symbol resembling a tilde or lightning bolt above it, to represent the rise in pitch when a person asks a question. But it wasn’t until the mid-19th Century that it was first referred to as a “question mark.”

Source: Oxford English Dictionary

(12) TODAY’S DAY

April 23: World Book and Copyright Day. Pays tribute to authors and books and their social and cultural contribution to the world

(13) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born April 23, 1879 Talbot Mundy. English-born, but based for most of his life in the United States, he also wrote under the pseudonym of Walter Galt. Best known as the author of King of the Khyber Rifles which is not really genre and the Jimgrim series which is genre, much of his work was published in pulp magazines. (Died 1940.)
  • Born April 23, 1923 Avram Davidson. Equally at home writing mystery, fantasy or science fiction, he wrote two splendid Ellery Queen mysteries, And on the Eighth Day and The Fourth Side of the Triangle. I’m fond of his Vergil Magus series if only for the names of the novels were the like as The Phoenix and the Mirror or, The Enigmatic Speculum. (Died 1993.)
  • Born April 23, 1935 Tom Doherty, 84. Once publisher of Ace Books who left that in 1980 to found Tor Books. Tor became a subsidiary of St. Martin’s Press in 1987; it became part of the Holtzbrinck group, now part of Macmillan in the U.S. Doherty was awarded a World Fantasy Award in the Lifetime Achievement category at the 2005 World Fantasy Convention for his contributions to the fantasy field.
  • Born April 23, 1946 Blair Brown, 73. Emily Jessup In Altered States (based on the Paddy Chayefsky novel) was her first genre role. Later roles include Nina Sharp, the executive director of Massive Dynamic, on Fringe, an amazing role indeed, and Elizabeth Collins Stoddard in the 2004 television remake of Dark Shadows. Her last genre was Kate Durning on Elementary.
  • Born April 23, 1956 Caroline Thompson, 63. She wrote the screenplays for Tim Burton’s Edward Scissorhands, The Nightmare Before Christmas, and Corpse Bride. A stage version of the latter with director and choreographer Matthew Bourne was co-adapted with her this year. She also wrote the screenplay for The Addams Family
  • Born April 23, 1973 Naomi Kritzer, 46. Her 2015 short story “Cat Pictures Please” was a Locus Award and Hugo Award winner and was nominated for a Nebula Award. Ok, I’m impressed. Indeed, I just went and purchased Cat Pictures Please and Other Stories on iBooks so I could read it. So what else by her should I read? 
  • Born April 23, 1976 Gabriel Damon, 43. Remember Hob, the smart wise assed villain in Robocop 2? Well this is the actor who played him at the age of thirteen years old! I see he also was on Star Trek: Next Generation inThe Bonding” episode as Jeremy Aster, and on Amazing Stories in their “Santa ’85” episode as Bobby Mynes. 

(14) COMICS SECTION.

(15) BODILY EXPERIENCES. Ursula Vernon, suffering from some typical traveler’s ailments, has been receiving unsolicited medical advice. One friend suggested leeches. Another said —

(16) THROUGH THE YEARS. Standback recommends a project to Filers —

In Jewish tradition, we count each day of the seven weeks between Passover and Pentecost; 49 days. Sefer Ha’omer is posting a historical SF/F book review every day of the counting — reviewing a 1901 book on Day 1, a 1902 book on Day 2, and so on.

I’ve read some of the essays and really enjoyed them — and I like the historical literature tour, and the selection of lesser-known works by classic authors

Today is Day 4 of the Omer, and here’s the essay for H.G. Wells’ “The Food of the Gods and How It Came To Earth”.

Here’s the project’s Facebook page (2 daily posts, English and Hebrew).

(17) SF MILESTONES. James Davis Nicoll delivers “A Brief History of Pamela Sargent’s Women of Wonder Anthologies” at Tor.com.

…Sargent had been shopping the initial anthology around for several years without luck. Publishers generally felt the market for such an anthology would be small. She got a lucky break when Vonda N. McIntyre asked Vintage Books how it was that despite having done all-male anthologies, they’d never published an all-women one. Vintage was interested in the idea, provided that someone not on their staff did the editing. McIntyre introduced Sargent to the folks at Vintage and the rest is SF history.

(18) SIGNAL BOOST. “Parkinson’s results beyond researchers’ wildest dreams” – BBC has the story.

A treatment that has restored the movement of patients with chronic Parkinson’s disease has been developed by Canadian researchers.

Previously housebound patients are now able to walk more freely as a result of electrical stimulation to their spines.

A quarter of patients have difficulty walking as the disease wears on, often freezing on the spot and falling.

…Normal walking involves the brain sending instructions to the legs to move. It then receives signals back when the movement has been completed before sending instructions for the next step.

Prof Jog believes Parkinson’s disease reduces the signals coming back to the brain – breaking the loop and causing the patient to freeze.

The implant his team has developed boosts that signal, enabling the patient to walk normally.

However, Prof Jog was surprised that the treatment was long-lasting and worked even when the implant was turned off.

(19) NEW WAY TO LAUNCH SATELLITES. BBC video shows “New aircraft rises ‘like a balloon'”.

Researchers from the University of the Highlands and Islands (UHI) have helped create a revolutionary new type of aircraft.

Phoenix is an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) designed to stay in the air indefinitely using a new type of propulsion.

Despite being 15m (50ft) long with a mass of 120kg (19 stone) she rises gracefully into the air.

…As the project’s chief engineer, he has overseen the integration of Phoenix’s systems.

“It flies under its own propulsion although it has no engines,” he says.

“The central fuselage is filled with helium, which makes it buoyant so it can ascend like a balloon.

“And inside that there’s another bag with compressors on it that brings air from outside, compresses the air, which makes the aeroplane heavier and then it descends like a glider.”

…The point? To create a cheaper alternative to launching satellites.

…The oft-quoted rule of thumb in the space business is that putting a satellite into orbit costs its weight in gold.

(20) ELVES. BBC peeks “Inside the magical world of elves” .

Many people in Iceland believe in little hidden people – huldufólk – or elves. Or so surveys suggest. But do they really?

(21) THE YEAR AT THE UK BOX OFFICE. SF Concatenation has posted its “Science Fiction Films Top Ten Chart – 2018/19” – based on UK box office performance.

Remember, this is the UK public’s cinema theatre box office we are talking about, and not fantastic film buffs’ views. Consequently below this top ten we have included at the end a few other worthies well worth checking out as well as (in some years) some warnings-to-avoid. Also note that this chart compilation calculation did not include DVD sales or spin-off product earnings, and our chart is also subject to weekly vagaries.

(22) DC. Daniel Dern brings word that DC Universe upped its streaming library — now ~20,000 comics. (Marvel says they have 25,000 on theirs.) “Set eye balls to ‘glaze over’!” says Dern.

(23) INFINITY ROCKS. Avengers: Endgame Cast Sings “We Didn’t Start the Fire” on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon.

The cast of Avengers: Endgame recaps the entire Marvel franchise by singing their own superhero version of Billy Joel’s “We Didn’t Start the Fire.”

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Heather Rose Jones, Alan Baumler, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, Chip Hitchcock, Mike Kennedy, Cat Eldridge, Guy H. Lillian III, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Daniel Dern, Carl Slaughter, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Soon Lee.]

Pixel Scroll 11/21/18 Never Pixel Or Scrollardy. Never Click Up, Never File In

(1) WORLD FANTASY CON. After Silvia Moreno-Garcia criticized WFC 2019 for announcing an all-white guest slate, the concom’s answer did not allay complaints. And the World Fantasy Convention Board’s answer to a letter she sent them has only fanned the flames. Moreno-Garcia’s screencap of their reply is part of a reaction thread which starts here.

Once the copy of the letter was tweeted, the WFC Board and World Fantasy Con 2019 came in for another round of criticism from writers including —

  • N.K. Jemisin (Thread starts here.)

  • Jeff VanderMeer (Thread starts here.)

  • S.A. Chakraborty (Thread starts here.)

  • Michi Trota (Thread starts here.)

  • Fonda Lee (Thread starts here.)

(2) JEMISIN AT HAYDEN PLANETARIUM. On Tuesday, November 27 the Hayden Planetarium Space Theater in New York will host “Astronomy Live: The Perfect Planet”.

Earth is a rare and special place in the universe. Astrophysicist Jackie Faherty joins forces with Broken Earth series author N.K. Jemisin to examine what makes our planet unique compared to others in our solar system and beyond. Find out where artists and scientist alike look for life beyond Earth, from Io to Enceladus and beyond.

(3) DON’T RALPH. NPR’s Scott Tobias tells us “Toxic Masculinity Is The Bad Guy In ‘Ralph Breaks The Internet'”.

In Ralph Breaks the Internet, a hyperconnected sequel to the animated hit Wreck-It Ralph, the possibilities of a Disney/Star Wars/Marvel crossover are breathlessly celebrated while fragile masculinity threatens to destroy the world. Cultural anthologists of the future will require no carbon dating to recognize this film as extremely 2018. In fact, as a screen grab of online and entertainment culture, Ralph Breaks the Internet seizes so shrewdly on the times that the prospect of watching it 10, 20 or 100 years from now is more exciting than seeing it in a theater today, when it feels too much like an animated extension of everyday stresses and distractions. Clickability isn’t always a virtue.

(4) CRITICS AT THE FBI. The Harper’s Magazine post “Literary Agents” has excerpts from Writers Under Surveillance in which they reprint the FBI’s description of writers they were watching.

The FBI said Ray Bradbury was “a freelance science fiction writer whose work dealt with the development and exploitation of Mars, its effect on mankind, and its home world.”

By contrast, they said Gore Vidal was “A writer who is intolerable, masquerading as smart-aleck entertainment.”

(5) COURSE CORRECTION. In “DC’s Birds Of Prey a ‘great opportunity’ to end ‘sluggish’ films”, a BBC writer asks, “Could this be DC’s Guardians of the Galaxy moment?”

Movies about Superman and Justice League may have flopped with the critics, but DC will be hoping to find more favourable reviews for new franchise, Birds Of Prey.

Or, to give the movie its full title: Birds Of Prey and the Fantabulous Emancipation of one Harley Quinn.

Margot Robbie revealed the full title of the film on Instagram.

And it certainly seems like they are steering away from the dark, sour tones of Batman vs Superman this time around.

View this post on Instagram

😆

A post shared by @ margotrobbie on

(6) GOREY FLASHBACKS. A new biography tells of “The mysterious, macabre mind of Edward Gorey”. The title/author are somewhat buried in the article– Born To Be Posthumous by Mark Dery.

That he is not better known elsewhere is perhaps due to the unclassifiable nature of his work – yet his influence can be seen everywhere, from the films of Tim Burton to the novels of Neil Gaiman and Lemony Snicket.

Gorey himself was a complicated, reclusive individual whose mission in life was “to make everybody as uneasy as possible”. He collected daguerreotypes of dead babies and lived alone with 20,000 books and six cats in his New York apartment. Sporting an Edwardian beard, he would frequently traipse around the city in a full-length fur coat accessorised with trainers and jangling bracelets.

(7) UNDER AN ASSUMED NAME. The Science Fiction & Fantasy Marketing Podcast has tons of advice to share — “SFFMP 208: Improving Visibility, Launching New Pen Names, and the ‘Trifecta of Indie Success’”.

This week, we’re joined by fantasy and science fiction author Nicholas Erik, who also writes and experiments under the pen name D.N. Erikson. He’s an analytical guy who’s always observing what’s working and what’s not, both for his own work and for others.

  • Reasons for launching a pen name and whether it should be secret or not.
  • Trying a new series and new genre when you’re not getting the results you hoped for from your first effort.
  • Nick’s “trifecta of indie success” — marketing, craft, and productivity….

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and JJ.]

  • November 21, 1924 – Christopher J. R. Tolkien, 94, Writer and Editor who is the son of  J. R. R. Tolkien, and editor of so much of his father’s posthumously-published material. He drew the original maps for the Lord of the Rings, and provided much of the feedback on both The Hobbit and LoTR; his father invited him to join the Inklings when he was just twenty-one years old, making him the youngest member of that group. He published The Saga of King Heidrek the Wise: Translated from the Icelandic with Introduction, Notes and Appendices. The list  of his father’s unfinished works which he has edited and brought to published form is a long one; I’ll leave it to the august group here to discuss their merit, as I have mixed feelings on them.
  • November 21, 1937 – Ingrid Pitt, Actor from Poland who emigrated to the UK who is best known as Hammer Films’ most sexy female vampire of the early Seventies. Would I kid you? Her first genre roles were in the Spanish movie Sound of Horror and the science-fictional The Omegans, followed by the Hammer productions The Vampire Lovers, Countess Dracula, and The House That Dripped Blood. She appeared in the original version of The Wicker Man and had parts in Octopussy, Clive Barker’s Underworld, Dominator, and Minotaur. She had two different roles in Doctor Who – somewhat of a rarity – as Dr. Solow in the “Warriors of the Deep” episode and as Galleia in “The Time Monster” episode. (Died 2010.)
  • November 21, 1941 – Ellen Asher, 77, Editor who introduced many fans to their favorites, as editor-in-chief of the Science Fiction Book Club (SFBC) for thirty-four years, from 1973 to 2007 (exceeding John W. Campbell’s record as the person with the longest tenure in the same science fiction job). She was personally responsible for selecting the monthly offerings to subscribers, and oversaw the selection of individual works for their special anthologies and omnibuses. She has been honored with a World Fantasy Special Award and an Edward E. Smith Memorial Award for Imaginative Fiction. In 2009, she was given a World Fantasy Award for Life Achievement, and she was Editor Guest of Honor at Worldcon in 2011.
  • November 21, 1942 – Al Matthews, Actor, Singer, and former Marine with two Purple Hearts, who is best known for his appearance as Gunnery Sergeant Apone in Aliens – a performance so memorable that his character was the inspiration for Sgt. Avery Johnson in the Halo franchise. He reprised his role 27 years later in the video game Aliens: Colonial Marines. Other genre films include The Fifth Element, Superman III, Riders of the Storm (aka The American Way), Omen III, The Sender,  and Tomorrow Never Dies. (Died 2018.)
  • November 21, 1944 – Harold Ramis, Actor, Writer, and Producer, best-known to genre fans for his role as Egon Spengler in the Saturn-winning, Oscar- and Hugo-nominated Ghostbusters and its lesser sibling Ghostbusters II (the scripts for both of which he co-wrote with Dan Aykroyd). He had voice roles in Heavy Metal and Spacehunter: Adventures in the Forbidden Zone, and a cameo in Groundhog Day, for which he received Saturn nominations for writing and directing. He was also director and producer of Multiplicity. (Died 2014.)
  • November 21, 1945 – Vincent Di Fate, 73, Artist and Illustrator who has done many SFF book covers and interior illustrations since his work first appeared in the pages of Analog in 1965. He was one of the founders of the Association of Science Fiction and Fantasy Artists (ASFA), and is a past president. In addition to his Chesley Award trophy and 7 nominations, he has been a finalist for the Professional Artist Hugo 11 times, winning once; two collections of his artwork, Infinite Worlds: The Fantastic Visions of Science Fiction Art and Di Fate’s Catalog of Science Fiction Hardware, have been Hugo finalists as well. He was Artist Guest of Honor at the 1992 Worldcon, for which he organized their Art Retrospective exhibit. He was inducted into the Science Fiction Hall of Fame in 2011. You can see galleries of his works at his website.
  • November 21, 1950 – Evelyn C. Leeper, 68, Writer, Editor, Critic, and Fan, who is especially known for her decades of detailed convention reports and travelogues. A voracious reader, she has also posted many book reviews. She and her husband Mark founded the Mt. Holz Science Fiction Club at Bell Labs in New Jersey (Mt = abbreviation for the labs’ Middletown facility), and have produced their weekly fanzine, the MT VOID (“empty void”), since 1978; it is currently at Issue #2,041. She was a judge for the Sidewise Award for Alternate History for 20 years. She has been a finalist for the Hugo Award for Best Fan Writer twelve times, and Fan Guest of Honor at several conventions, including a Windycon.
  • November 21, 1953 – Lisa Goldstein, 65, Writer, Fan, and Filer whose debut novel, The Red Magician, was so strong that she was a finalist for the Campbell Award for Best New Writer two years in a row. Her short fiction has garnered an array of Hugo, Nebula, and World Fantasy Award nominations, as well as a Sidewise Award. The short story “Cassandra’s Photographs” was a Hugo and Nebula finalist and “Alfred” was a World Fantasy and Nebula finalist; both can be found in her collection Travellers in Magic. Her novel The Uncertain Places won a Mythopoeic Award. You can read about her work in progress, her reviews of others’ stories, and other thoughts at her blog.

(9) COMICS SECTION.

  • Rabbits Against Magic has a wonderful “Cartoon Lexiconville” showing English words and phrases that were originated in or popularized by comic strips.
  • Pay attention authors! Incidental Comics illustrates “Types of Narrators.”

(10) FLAME ON! “As God is my witness, I thought turkeys could fry!” – is not a quote from “’Eat, Fry, Love’ a Turkey Fryer Fire Cautionary Tale presented by William Shatner & State Farm.” (Released in 2011 but it’s news to me!)

It is a turkey fryer cautionary tale with excellent video of the dangers associated with using turkey fryers. It shows how fire can rapidly intensify, spread, destroy and cause serious injury. Enjoy this video, learn from it and stay safe.

 

(11) SICKROOM HISTORY. Brenda Clough tells Book View Café readers it’s easy to make — “Feeding Your Invalid in the 19th Century 2: Barley Water”.

Horatio Wood’s ‘Treatise on therapeutics’ (1879) says that “Barley-water is used as a nutritious, demulcent drink in fevers.” It is still in use….

(12) PRIME TIMING. At NPR — “Optimized Prime: How AI And Anticipation Power Amazon’s 1-Hour Deliveries”. Skeptic Chip Hitchcock sent the link with a comment: “I’ll believe in their AI when it issues delivery instructions good enough that packages for someone else’s front door don’t show up at my side door.”

But a lot of it is thanks to artificial intelligence. With AI, computers analyze reams of data, making decisions and performing tasks that typically require human intelligence. AI is key to Amazon’s retail forecasting on steroids and its push to shave off minutes and seconds in the rush to prepare, pack and deliver.

“It goes beyond just being able to forecast we need a hundred blouses,” Freshwater says. “We need to be able to determine how many do we expect our customers to buy across the sizes, and the colors. And then … where do we actually put the product so that our customers can get it when they click ‘buy.’ ”

That’s a key element to how Amazon speeds up deliveries: The team predicts exactly where those blouses should be stocked so that they are as close as possible to the people who will buy them.

(Note: Amazon is one of NPR’s financial supporters.)

This process is even more essential now that the race is on for same-day and even same-hour delivery. Few other retailers have ventured into these speeds, because they’re very expensive. And few rely quite so much on AI to control costs while expanding.

(13) THE ROADS MUST ROIL. NPR finds “Climate Change Slows Oil Company Plan To Drill In The Arctic”. They were relying on winter ice to let gravel trucks drive out to build a drill pad in the water. No ice, no driving.

A milestone oil development project in Alaska’s Arctic waters is having to extend its construction timeline to accommodate the warming climate. The recently approved Liberty Project — poised to become the first oil production facility in federal Arctic waters — has altered its plans due to the shrinking sea ice season.

The challenge comes as the Trump administration has reversed an Obama-era policy and proposed re-opening the majority of Alaska’s federal waters to drilling. It’s pushing to hold a lease sale in the Beaufort Sea next year. The lease for the Liberty Project pre-dates the Obama-era ban on oil development in Arctic waters.

(14) MORE BRICKS THAN LEGO. “Drones called in to save the Great Wall of China” – the BBC video shows how drone surveys identify the most-decayed parts of hard-to-reach sections, so reconstruction can be targeted where it’s most needed.

(15) EATING THE FANTASTIC. Scott Edelman has strategically released Episode 82 of his Eating the Fantastic podcast before people have a chance to stuff themselves on Thanksgiving. Scott invites you to savor a steak dinner with comics legend Paul Levitz.

Get ready to get nostalgic — or rather, listen to me get nostalgic — on an episode of Eating the Fantastic which features a guest I believe I’ve known longer than any other — comics legend Paul Levitz.

Paul and I go way back, all the way to Phil Seuling’s 1971 Comic Art Convention, when I would have been 16 and him 15, both fans and fanzine publishers, long before either of us had entered the comics industry as professionals. We later, along with a couple of other friends, roomed together at the 1974 World Science Fiction Convention in Washington D.C. As you listen, think of us as we were in the old days — that’s us in 1974 compared to us now —

In 1976, he became the editor of Adventure Comics before he’d even turned 20. He ended up working at DC Comics for more than 35 years, where he was president from 2002–2009. He’s probably best known for writing the Legion of Super-Heroes for a decade, scripting the Justice Society of America, and co-creating the character Stalker with Spider-Man co-creator Steve Ditko. He was given an Inkpot Award at the San Diego Comic-Con in 2002 and the Dick Giordano Hero Initiative Humanitarian of the Year Award in 2013 at the Baltimore Comic-Con. And if you try to lift his massive and essential history 75 Years of DC Comics: The Art of Modern Mythmaking, you’re going to need to see a chiropractor.

We discussed why even though in a 1973 fanzine he wrote he had “no desire to make a career for myself in this industry” he’s spent his life there, how wild it was the suits let kids like us run the show in the ’70s, the time Marv Wolfman offered him a job over at Marvel (and why he turned it down), what he learned from editor Joe Orlando about how to get the best work out of creative people, the bizarre reason Gerry Conway’s first DC Comics script took several years to get published, how he made the Legion of Super-Heroes his own, which bad writerly habits Denny O’Neil knocked out of him, the first thing you should ask an artist when you start working with them, why team books (of which he wrote so many) are easier to write, our shared love for “Mirthful” Marie Severin, how glad we are there was no such thing as social media when we got started in comics, why Roger Zelazny is his favorite science fiction writer, and much, much more.

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

Pixel Scroll 7/19/18 And Then There Were 770

(1) DRAGON AWARDS. July 20 is the deadline to nominate for Dragon Con’s Dragon Awards. If you’re ever going to do it now would be a good time…. If you’re not, no hurry!

(2) “JUST WEAR CLOTHES, HONEY.” That’s the advice I got the time I called Arthur Bryant’s ribs place to ask if they had a dress code. I follow the same advice when I go to the Hugos.

(3) TOR TAKES LIBRARIANS BY SURPRISE. And not in a good way: “Tor Scales Back Library E-book Lending as Part of Test”Publishers Weekly has the story.

After years of relatively little change in the library e-book market, there has finally been some movement—unfortunately, librarians say, it is movement in the wrong direction. Leading Sci-Fi publisher Tor Books, a division of Macmillan, has announced that, beginning with July 2018 titles, newly released e-books, will be no longer be available to libraries for lending until four months after their retail on sale date.

In a statement to libraries through their vendors, Macmillan officials said the new embargo was part of “a test program” (although an “open ended” test, the release states) to assess the impact of library e-book lending on retail sales. But the statement goes on to say that the publisher’s “current analysis on eLending indicates that it is having a direct and adverse impact on retail eBook sales,” and that Tor will work with library vendors to “develop ongoing terms that will best support Tor’s authors, their agents, and Tor’s channel partners.”

…On July 19, American Library Association president Loida Garcia-Febo issued the following statement:

“The American Library Association and our members have worked diligently to increase access to and exposure for the widest range of e-books and authors. Over years, ALA made great strides in working with publishers and distributors to better serve readers with increasingly robust digital collections. We remain committed to a vibrant and accessible reading ecosystem for all.

I am dismayed now to see Tor bring forward a tired and unproven claim of library lending adversely affecting sales. This move undermines our shared commitment to readers and writers—particularly with no advance notice or discussion with libraries. In fact, Macmillan references its involvement with the Panorama Project, which is a large-scale, data-driven research project focused on understanding the impact of library holdings on book discovery, author brand development, and sales. For this reason, this change by Tor—literally on the heels of Panorama’s launch—is particularly unexpected and unwelcome.

“The ALA calls for Macmillan to move just as quickly to reverse its course and immediately lift the embargo while the Panorama Project does its work.”

(4) BIG REBOOTS TO FILL. Somebody thought this would be a good idea: “‘In Search Of’: Zachary Quinto Follows in Leonard Nimoy’s Footsteps… Again”.

We’re all very used to revivals and reboots these days but with the return of iconic sci-fi/mystery series In Search Of , one big reason to celebrate (besides its launch on the History Channel) is that actor Zachary Quinto is a part of this project.

Quinto, who first became known to TV fans for his role as the villainous Sylar on the original run of NBC’s Heroes, leapt to greater heights of fame in 2009 when he took over the role of the most famous Vulcan in the galaxy, Spock, in the updated Star Trek big-screen franchise. Of course, Spock was first played by Leonard Nimoy in the 1960s television series and, yes, Nimoy later hosted In Search Of.

 

(5) DROPPED IN POTTER’S FIELD. There’s an open question about why this happened: “London erects 25-foot Jeff Goldblum statue to commemorate ‘Jurassic Park’s 25th anniversary”.

They were so preoccupied with whether or not they could, they didn’t stop to think if they should build a 25-foot replica of Jeff Goldblum.

Londoners and tourists alike were puzzled Wednesday morning to find a statue of Goldblum, his shirt unbuttoned in a recreation of his famous “Jurassic Park” pose, staring seductively at them from the banks of the River Thames near Tower Bridge.

(6) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS

  • Born July 19 – Benedict Cumberbatch, 42. Some of his sort-of genre and definitely genre roles include Stephen Hawking in HawkingThe Hobbit films as a certain cranky dragon, Star Trek into DarknessDoctor Strange, Sherlock, and possibly my fav role potentially by him as the voice of the title character in the forthcoming animated The Grinch film.
  • Born July 19 – Jared Padalecki, 36. Best known for his role as Sam Winchester on Supernatural, and not surprisingly, Supernatural: The Animation.

(7) COMICS SECTION.

(8) OKAY. Mad Genius Club columnist Kate Paulk makes everything as clear as she usually does in “Eschew Claytons Diversity”.

…Take the Mad Geniuses. We’re Odds. We don’t fit in. But every last one of us fails to fit in in a different way than every other one of us….

(9) UNDER NEWTON’S TREE. At Galactic Journey, The Traveler is getting to dislike F&SF’s 1963 incarnation almost as much as he loathes Analog“[July 18, 1963] Several bad apples (August Fantasy and Science Fiction)”.  

I’ve discussed recently how this appears to be a revival period for science fiction what with two new magazines having been launched and the paperback industry on the rise.  I’ve also noted that, with the advent of Avram Davidson at the helm of The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, the editorial course of that digest has…changed.  That venerable outlet has definitely doubled down on its commitment to the esoteric and the literary.

Has Davidson determined that success relies on making his magazine as distinct from all the others as possible?  Or do I have things backwards?  Perhaps the profusion of new magazines is a reaction to F&SF’s new tack, sticking more closely to the mainstream of our genre.

All I can tell you is that the latest edition ain’t that great, though, to be fair, a lot of that is due to the absolutely awful Heinlein dross that fills half of the August 1963 Fantasy and Science Fiction.  See for yourself…

“Heinlein dross” turns out to be code for an installment of the novel Glory Road.

(10) SPACE SAILS. [Item by Mike Kennedy] An exploratory project at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville AL is examining metamaterials as the basis for a solar sail for CubeSat propulsion. The Near-Earth Asteroid Scout (NEA Scout) is being developed by Marshall and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory as a candidate secondary payload to launch with EM-1 the first uncrewed test flight of the Space Launch System.

NEA Scout would be a robotic mission to fly by an NEA and return data “from an asteroid representative of NEAs that may one day be human destinations.” The asteroid chosen will depend on the launch date; the current target is  1991 VG. Though this is still only a candidate mission (and thus may never happen), NASA explains the mission like this:

Catching a ride on EM-1, NEA Scout will deploy from SLS after the Orion spacecraft is separated from the upper stage. Once it reaches the lunar vicinity, it will perform imaging for instrument calibration. Cold gas will provide the initial propulsive maneuvers, but the NEA Scout’s hallmark solar sail will leverage the CubeSat’s continual solar exposure for efficient transit to the target asteroid during an approximate two-year cruise.

Once it reaches its destination, NEA Scout will capture a series of low (50 cm/pixels) and high resolution (10 cm/pixels) images to determine global shape, spin rate, pole position, regional morphology, regolith properties, spectral class, and for local environment characterization.

Popular Science article looks a little closer at the use of metamaterials for the sail, talking with Dr. Grover Swartzlander (Rochester Institute of Technology) who is the lead for the project.

The metamaterial Swartzlander is proposing would have several advantages over the reflective materials of the past. Swartzlander’s sails would have lower heat absorption rates due to their diffractive nature which would scatter solar rays, and the ability to re-use what Swartzlander told NASA was “the abundant untapped momentum of solar photons” to fly through the cosmos.

Swartzlander is leading an exploratory study through NASA’s Innovative Advanced Concepts program. With nine months and $125,000, his research team will work on a NASA satellite called the Near-Earth Asteroid Scout, or NEA Scout for short. A robotic reconnaissance mission, NEA Scout is a CubeSat meant to explore asteroids. NEA Scout would be NASA’s first craft to be powered by sails.

(11) THEY SWORE A MIGHTY OATH. No “Second Variety”? “AI Innovators Take Pledge Against Autonomous Killer Weapons”.

The Terminator‘s killer robots may seem like a thing of science fiction. But leading scientists and tech innovators have signaled that such autonomous killers could materialize in the real world in frighteningly real ways.

During the annual International Joint Conference on Artificial Intelligence in Stockholm on Wednesday, some of the world’s top scientific minds came together to sign a pledge that calls for “laws against lethal autonomous weapons.”

“… we the undersigned agree that the decision to take a human life should never be delegated to a machine,” the pledge says. It goes on to say, “… we will neither participate in nor support the development, manufacture, trade, or use of lethal autonomous weapons.”

The moniker “autonomous weapons” doesn’t draw the same fear or wonder as a killer robot, but weapons that can function without human oversight are a real concern.

(12) NOT THE SIZE OF A PLANET. No one will ever be wondering this about sff fans. Gizmodo’s article “Did Neanderthals Go Extinct Because of the Size of Their Brains?” follows up a paper in Scientific Reports and a theory that Homo neanderthalensis may have gone extinct because their brains — though larger than that of Homo sapiens — had a cerebellum that was proportionately underdeveloped relative to H. sapiens.

Indeed, though scientists have many Neanderthal skulls to work with, none of them contain actual brains, making it difficult to know what the inside of their heads actually looked like. The next best option, therefore, is to look at their fossilized skulls and try to figure out the shape, size, and orientation of the Neanderthal brain.

To do this, Ogihara’s team created virtual three-dimensional “casts” of brains using data derived from the skulls of four Neanderthals and four early modern humans (the skulls used in the study dated from between 135,000 and 32,000 years ago). This allowed the researchers to reconstruct and visualize the 3D structure of the brain’s grey and white matter regions, along with the cerebrospinal fluid regions. Then, using a large dataset from the Human Connectome Project, specifically MRI brain scans taken of more than 1,180 individuals, the researchers modeled the “average” human brain to provide a kind of baseline for the study and allow for the comparative analysis.

Using this method, the researchers uncovered “significant” differences in brain morphology. Even though Neanderthals had larger skulls, and thus larger brain volume overall, H. sapiens had a proportionately larger cerebellum, the part of brain involved in higher levels of thinking and action. Modern humans also featured a smaller occipital region in the cerebrum, which is tied to vision. Looking at these differences, the researchers inferred such abilities as cognitive flexibility (i.e. learning, adaptability, and out-of-the-box thinking), attention, language processing, and short-term and long-term memory. Homo sapiens, the researchers concluded, had better cognitive and social abilities than Neanderthals, and a greater capacity for long-term memory and language processing.

(13) FORTNITE. Brian Feldman, in “The Most Important Video Game on the Planet” in New York Magazine, looks at how Fortnite. since its introduction in July 2017, “has risen to become the most important video game currently in existence…obsessed over by rappers and athletes, hotly debated in high school cafeterias, and played by 125 million people.”

Since it launched in July of last year, Fortnite has risen to become the most important video game currently in existence. The 100-player, last-man-standing video-game shooter is obsessed over by rappers and athletes, hotly debated in high-school cafeterias, and played by 125 million people. All this, not because of a major technical or graphical breakthrough, or for a groundbreaking work of narrative depth, but for, essentially, a simple, endlessly playable cartoon. On a colorful island peppered with abandoned houses, towns, soccer fields, food trucks, and missile silos, players don colorful costumes, drop out of a floating school bus, and begin constructing ramshackle forts that look like they’ve popped straight out of a storybook, before blowing each other to smithereens.

(14) TITANS. Official trailer —

TITANS follows young heroes from across the DC Universe as they come of age and find belonging in a gritty take on the classic Teen Titans franchise.

 

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