Pixel Scroll 4/9/21 I Have Heard the Pixels Scrolling, Each to Each

(1) WHEN THE DOORS OPEN, WHO WILL COME IN? The Los Angeles Times interviewed people who rely on convention business to measure the distance between reopening and recovery. “California reopening: When will huge conventions come back?”

The San Diego Convention Center hosted about 135,000 visitors two years ago for Comic-Con, the four-day celebration of comic books and pop culture.

…But even when state restrictions lift, experts acknowledge, it may be a year or more before California convention centers host the kind of mega-crowds that flocked to Comic-Con, NAMM and E3 in past years.

“We anticipate that shows will be smaller starting off and getting back up to speed hopefully next year,” said Ellen Schwartz, general manager of the Los Angeles Convention Center. “As we get into the last quarter of this calendar year and start the new year, we’re hopeful that the business will come back to closer to where it was before the pandemic.”

Among the reasons for the smaller events: State officials say COVID-19 protocols for large-scale indoor events will still require testing or vaccination verifications, which could exclude some would-be attendees. The state has yet to release details of those requirements.

Also, surveys show that many business travelers still don’t feel safe meeting face to face indoors with thousands of strangers. Some elements of future events are likely to be conducted via streaming video, accommodating virus-cautious attendees who want to stay home.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention still recommends against attending large indoor gatherings, saying they increase the risk of spreading COVID-19.

Rachel “Kiko” Guntermann, a professional costume maker who previously attended five or six conventions a year, including Comic-Con, said she would not feel safe returning to a large convention even though she has been fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

“Conventions were a center of my life for a while, and now the idea of being in a vendor hall with that many people makes me want to dry heave,” she said….

(2) FRANKENSTAMP AND FRIENDS. A set of Classic Science Fiction stamps will be issued by Great Britain’s Royal Mail on April 15. Preorders are being taken now.

A collection of six Special Stamps celebrating the imagination and artistic legacy of classic science fiction.

The issue coincides with the 75th anniversary of the death of HG Wells and the 70th anniversary of the publication of The Day of the Triffids.

Each stamp features a unique interpretation by a different artist illustrating a seminal work by a classic British science fiction author

Two First Class, two £1.70 and two £2.55 stamps presented as three horizontal se-tenant pairs.

Click for larger images.

(3) EATING THE FANTASTIC. Scott Edelman invites listeners to grab a slice of pizza with Nebula Award-winning writer A. T. Greenblatt in episode 142 of his Eating the Fantastic podcast.

A.T. Greenblatt

A. T. Greenblatt’s short fiction has appeared in Strange HorizonsUncannyBeneath Ceaseless SkiesClarkesworldFiresideLightspeed, and other magazines. She won the 2019 Nebula Award for Best Short Story for “Give the Family My Love,” and is also on the current Nebula Awards ballot for her novelette “Burn or The Episodic Life of Sam Wells as a Super.” She was also a Nebula finalist for 2018. She has also been a Theodore Sturgeon Award finalist as well as a Parsec Award finalist. She is a graduate of the Viable Paradise and Clarion West workshops, and has been an editorial assistant at the flash fiction magazines Every Day Fiction and Flash Fiction Online.

We discussed the writing workshop-induced panic which caused her to begin writing her latest Nebula Award-nominated story, how the Viable Paradise workshop helped kick her writing up a notch, why she prefers Batman to Superman, the importance of revisions, critique groups, and community, what’s to be learned from rereading one’s older work, why she’s a total pantser, her love of Roald Dahl, something she wishes she’d known earlier about the endings of stories, how much of writing is being able to keep secrets and not explode, and much more.

(4) 2021 SFPA POETRY CONTEST AND JUDGE ANNOUNCED. The 2021 Science Fiction & Fantasy Poetry Association (SFPA) Speculative Poetry Contest will be open for entries from June 1 through August 31, with Sheree Renée Thomas serving as guest judge of the contest. Full guidelines here.

Sheree Renée Thomas is an award-winning fiction writer, poet, and editor. Her work is inspired by myth and folklore, natural science and Mississippi Delta conjure. Nine Bar Blues: Stories from an Ancient Future (Third Man Books) is her first all prose collection. She is also the author of two multigenre/hybrid collections, Sleeping Under the Tree of LIfe and Shotgun Lullabies (Aqueduct Press) and edited the World Fantasy-winning groundbreaking black speculative fiction Dark Matter anthologies (Hachette/Grand Central). 

Sheree is the associate editor of the historic Black arts literary journal, Obsidian: Literature & the Arts in the African Diaspora and editor of The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction.

The 2021 SFPA Speculative Poetry Contest is open to all poets, including non-SFPA-members. Prizes will be awarded for best unpublished poem in three categories: Dwarf (poems 1–10 lines [prose poems 0–100 words]); Short (11–49 lines [prose poems 101–499 words]); Long (50 lines and more [prose 500 words and up]). Line count does not include title or stanza breaks. All sub-genres of speculative poetry allowed in any form.

Prizes in each category (Dwarf, Short, Long) will be $150 First Prize, $75 Second Prize, $25 Third Prize. Publication on the SFPA website for first through third places. Winners will be announced and posted on the site October 1.

(5) IN EXTREMIS. The new This Is Horror podcast features Wrath James White talking about Extreme Horror, Uncomfortable Writing, and The Resurrectionist.

Wrath James White is a former World Class Heavyweight Kickboxer, a professional Kickboxing and Mixed Martial Arts trainer, distance runner, performance artist, and former street brawler, who is now known for creating some of the most disturbing works of fiction in print. His books include The ResurrectionistSucculent Prey, and The Teratologist with Edward Lee.

(6) PLUCKED OFF THE SLUSHPILE. [Item by rcade.] Though many novelists would tell the story of how they first became published as a heroic triumph of talent and perseverance over rejection and adversity, the science fiction author Stephen Palmer credits something else entirely in a new interview with SFFWorld: “Interview with Stephen Palmer”.

My route to publication was the one too few people talk about – pure chance. Random luck is a far larger player in getting published than most people realize, partly because writers don’t want to believe they have little or no agency in their own success, and partly because the odds against success are so huge nobody wants to face them. I was plucked off the slush pile because I sent in the right novel at the right time. Tim Holman remembered it when he and Colin Murray were seeking new British writers, and he contacted me. But it could have been so different. In December 1993 me and my then wife were about to move house, and for reasons too unpleasant to detail here we weren’t going to leave a forwarding address. A few days before we departed a letter popped through the letterbox. It was from Tim Holman, writing back to me a full year after I’d sent him an extract of Memory Seed, telling me he wanted to read more. If I’d moved a week earlier I might not be an author now…

 Palmer’s debut novel Memory Seed is being  republished by Infinity Plus. He got the rights back from Orbit for that book and Glass nine years ago but the original files were lost. He bought copies, removed the pages and did the OCR scanning himself.

(7) DO YOU REMEMBER LOVE? Maybe not, it’s been awhile! But now Forbes’ Ollie Barder reports:  “The Decades Long Rights Battle Over ‘Macross’ And ‘Robotech’ Has Finally Been Resolved”.

This has been one of the longest running legal battles in anime and I never thought I would see it resolved in my lifetime….

As to the details of what this agreement entails, this is what the official press statement has to say:

“Tokyo based BIGWEST CO.,LTD. and Los Angeles based Harmony Gold U.S.A. announced an agreement regarding the worldwide rights for the legendary Macross and Robotech franchises. This expansive agreement signed by both companies on March 1, 2021, ends two decades of disagreements and will allow Bigwest and Harmony Gold to chart a new path that will unlock the great potential of both the Macross and Robotech franchises worldwide. The landmark agreement immediately permits worldwide distribution of most of the Macross films and television sequels worldwide, and also confirms that Bigwest will not oppose the Japanese release of an anticipated upcoming live-action Robotech film. The agreement also recognizes Harmony Gold’s longstanding exclusive license with Tatsunoko for the use of the 41 Macross characters and mecha in the Robotech television series and related merchandise throughout the world excluding Japan. Moving forward, both parties will cooperate on distribution regarding future Macross and Robotech projects for the benefit of both franchises.”

(8) PUTTING THE EVIDENCE TOGETHER. “French police on trail of international gang of Lego looters”The Guardian has the story.

French police say they are building a case against an international gang of toy thieves specialising in stealing Lego – and they have warned specialist shops and even parents to be aware of a global trade in the bricks.

The alert comes after officers arrested three people – a woman and two men – in the process of stealing boxes of Lego from a toy shop in Yvelines, outside Paris, last June. Under questioning, the suspects, all from Poland, reportedly admitted they were part of a team specialising in stealing Lego sought by collectors.

“The Lego community isn’t just made up of children,” one investigator told Le Parisien newspaper. “There are numerous adults who play with it; there are swaps and sales on the internet. We’ve also had people complaining their homes have been broken into and Lego stolen.”

Van Ijken cited a Cafe Corner Lego set that cost €150 when it was released to shops in 2007 selling in its original box for €2,500 last year.

Lego looting appears to be a global business, according to reports in the US, Canada and Australia, where numerous thefts have been reported over the last five years. In 2005, San Diego police arrested a group of women found to have €200,000 worth of Lego.

(9) THE UNKINDEST CUT. [Item by rcade.] The acclaimed weird fiction author Jeff VanderMeer is sickened by the actions of one of his new neighbors in Tallahassee, Florida:

Someone bought a house a few streets down and just cut down 30 mature pine trees — in the spring. I wonder if they know there’s little they could do in their lives to make up for the wildlife they just slaughtered. I know we’ll be getting survivors in the yard for weeks to come.

I’m planting two sycamores and some river birch, mayhaw next week and then also seeking out some of the pine saplings to protect them. We have 8 mature pines in the yard and not a damn one is getting cut down. …

Developers are trying to eat this city alive and we have, purportedly 55% canopy, although I imagine it’s a lower percentage after the predation of the past few years.

A Florida law enacted in 2019 made it much harder for cities and counties to stop property owners from removing trees. Tallahassee and the surrounding county have 78 miles of roads shaded by oak, hickory, sweet gum and pine trees and the city’s tree canopy coverage is among the largest in the U.S.

Noted for elements of ecofiction in his works, VanderMeer has filled his Twitter feed with photos of area trees and wildlife.

(10) NEW BOOK: HUMMINGBIRD SALAMANDER. Carmen Maria Machado has done a Q&A with Jeff VanderMeer for Interview: “Can Author Jeff VanderMeer Save Us from Extinction?”

[From the Introduction] A scroll through Jeff VanderMeer’s Twitter account yields all manner of birds, flowers, trees, bird feeders, backyard wildlife, and the occasional portrait of his housecat, Neo. By and large, it seems such joyous, benevolent content that it’s surprising it comes from the same hands as one of the most subversive, experimental, apocalyptic, and politically daring fiction writers at work in America today. 

…Another of his passions involves his ongoing project of “rewilding” his half-acre yard on the edge of Tallahassee. In order to combat natural-habitat destruction, VanderMeer has reintroduced native plants and trees to encourage the return of local wildlife. The fruits of VanderMeer’s tweets spring directly from the myriad animals, insects, organisms, and flowering flora that have returned to his homegrown micro nature-preserve. (“Right now, during migration season,” he reports, “we have about 300 yellow-rumped warblers in the yard and another 400 pine siskins, along with ruby-crowned kinglets, Baltimore orioles, orange-crowned warblers, hermit thrushes, cedar waxwings, etc.”) Will VanderMeer save our planet? Can it even be saved at this point? These are the real mysteries of our era…. 

MACHADO: It’s a bit like watching this pandemic unfold. We’re botching it all up, and you can’t help but feel like it doesn’t have to be this way. Do you think you’re a cynic about wildlife and the climate crisis?

VANDERMEER: I think that fixing the climate crisis should be more ingrained in our discussions and it’s not. Even in fiction, I see a lot of green-tech solutions that are totally divorced from actually dealing with what’s going on in the landscape. The other day I saw that Elon Musk had gone from chastising the oil industry to being like, “We need to mine for our SpaceX platform so that we have energy for our rockets.” Those are the kinds of things that get to me. One reason I push so hard for wildlife and for habitat is that I just don’t think we can make it through without them. We can’t just green-tech our way into some kind of solution. We have to change how we actually interact. And I do think we can all make small changes in how we do things that can really help us. In that way, I’m not cynical. People ask about hope all the time, which in a very absurdist way cracks me up because there’s always this question of, “Is it too late?” And it’s like,

“Well, what are you going to do if it’s too late? You really have no choice but to try to do the best things possible to get out of this.” Next cheery question!

(11) ROSWELL AWARD. The Roswell Award and Women Hold Up Half the Sky – Virtual Celebrity Readings & Awards will happen on Saturday, May 22 at 11 a.m. Pacific.  The Roswell Award finalist judge is Wesley Chu.

We received some truly incredible stories from 60 different countries this season.

Make sure to save the date for May 22 if you want to experience exciting new sci-fi stories, chat with competition participants from around the world, and hear our celebrity guest readers!

(12) HUMMEL OBIT. The Washington Post has an obituary for Joye Hummel by Harrison Smith.  Hummel was hired by William Moulton Marston as a secretary and then went on to write Wonder Woman scripts until 1947.  Historians credit her as being the first woman to write scripts for Wonder Woman. She died April 5. “Joye Hummel, first woman hired to write Wonder Woman comics, dies at 97”.

In March 1944, shortly before Joye Hummel graduated from the Katharine Gibbs secretarial school in Manhattan, she was invited to meet with one of her instructors, a charismatic psychologist who had been impressed by her essays on a take-home test.

Over tea at the Harvard Club, professor William Moulton Marston offered her a job — not in the classroom or psych lab, but in the office of his 43rd Street art studio. He wanted Ms. Hummel to help him write scripts for Wonder Woman, the Amazonian superhero he had created three years earlier and endowed with a magic lasso, indestructible bracelets, an eye-catching red bustier and a feminist sensibility.Ms. Hummel, then 19, had never read Wonder Woman; she had never even read a comic book. But Marston needed an assistant. His character, brought to life on the page by artist H.G. Peter, was appearing in four comic books and was about to star in a syndicated newspaper strip. He was looking for someone young who could write slang and who, perhaps most importantly, shared his philosophy and vision for the character. “You understand that I want women to feel they have the right to go out, to study, to find something they love to do and get out in the world and do it,” Ms. Hummel recalled his saying. She was “astonished and delighted” by the job offer, according to historian Jill Lepore’s book, “The Secret History of Wonder Woman,” and soon began writing for the comic. “I always did have a big imagination,” she said.

Ms. Hummel worked as a Wonder Woman ghostwriter for the next three years, long before any woman was publicly credited as a writer for the series. As invisible to readers as Wonder Woman’s transparent jet plane, she was increasingly recognized after Lepore interviewed her in 2014. Four years later, she received the Bill Finger Award, given to overlooked or underappreciated comic book writers at the Eisner Awards….

(13) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

  • April 9, 1955 — On this date in 1955, Science Fiction Theatre first aired in syndication. It was produced by Ivan Tors and Maurice Ziv.  It ran for seventy eight episodes over two years and was hosted by Truman Bradley who was the announcer for Red Skelton’s program. The first episode “Beyond” had the story of a test pilot travelling at much faster than the speed of sound who bails out and tells his superiors that another craft was about to collide with his. It starred William Lundigan, Ellen Drew and Bruce Bennett. You can watch it here.

(14) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]

  • Born April 9, 1906 – Victor Vasarely.  Grandfather of op art, like this, and this (Supernovae, 1961).  Here is The Space Merchants using some of VV’s Folklore Planetario for the cover.  (Died 1997) [JH]
  • Born April 9, 1911 George O. Smith. His early prolific writings on Astounding Science Fiction in the 1940s ended when Campbell’s wife left him for Smith whom she married. Later stories were on Thrilling Wonder StoriesGalaxySuper Science Stories and Fantastic to name but four such outlets. He was given First Fandom Hall of Fame Award just before he passed on. Interestingly his novels are available from the usual digital sources but his short stories are not. (Died 1981.) (CE) 
  • Born April 9, 1913 George F. Lowther. He was writer, producer, director in the earliest days of radio and television. He wrote scripts for both Captain Video and His Video Rangers and Tom Corbett, Space Cadet.  You can see “The Birth of The Galaxy” which he scripted for the first show here as it is in the public domain. (Died 1975.) (CE) 
  • Born April 9, 1915 – Charles Burbee.  One of our best fanwriters, of the brilliant but biting type (if you like that, as well as admiring it, you can change but to and).  Fanzine, Burblings; co-edited Shangri L’Affaires awhile.  Fan Guest of Honor at Westercon 27.  You can see The Incompleat Burbee here (part 1) and here (part 2).  Burbeeisms still circulate, like AKICIF (All Knowledge Is Contained In Fanzines) – sometimes without his mocking tone, a neglect he would have mocked.  (Died 1996)  [JH]
  • Born April 9, 1937 – Barrington Bayley.  A dozen novels, fourscore shorter stories, some under other names (“Michael Barrington” for work with Michael Moorcock).  Two collections.  Interviewed in InterzoneVector; on the cover of V223 for a Mark Greener article.  (Died 2008) [JH]
  • Born April 9, 1937 Marty Krofft, 84. Along with Sid, his brother, are a Canadian sibling team of television creators and puppeteers. Through Sid & Marty Krofft Pictures, they have made numerous series including the superb H.R. Pufnstuf which I still remember fondly all these years later not to forget Sigmund and the Sea MonstersLand of the Lost and Electra Woman and Dyna Girl. (CE) 
  • Born April 9, 1949 Stephen Hickman, 72. Illustrator who has done over three hundred and fifty genre covers such as Manly Wade Wellman’s John the Balladeer and Nancy Springer’s Rowan Hood, Outlaw Girl of Sherwood Forest. His most widely known effort is his space fantasy postage stamps done for the U.S. Postal Service which won a Hugo for Best Original Art Work at ConAndian in 1994. (CE) 
  • Born April 9, 1954 Dennis Quaid, 67. I’m reasonably sure that he first genre role was in  Dreamscape as Alex Gardner followed immediately by the superb role of Willis Davidge in Enemy Mine followed by completing a trifecta with Innerspace and the character of Lt. Tuck Pendleton. And then there’s the sweet film of Dragonheart and him as Bowen. Anyone hear of The Day After Tomorrow in which he was Jack Hall? I hadn’t a clue about it. (CE) 
  • Born April 9, 1972 Neve McIntosh, 49. During time of the Eleventh Doctor, She plays Alaya and Restac, two  Silurian reptilian sisters who have been disturbed under the earth, one captured by humans and the other demanding vengeance. Her second appearance on Doctor Who is Madame Vastra in “A Good Man Goes to War”. Also a Silurian, she’s a Victorian crime fighter.  She’s back in the 2012 Christmas special, and in the episodes “The Crimson Horror” and “The Name of the Doctor”. She’s Madame Vastra, who along with her wife, Jenny Flint, and Strax, a former Sontaran warrior, who together form a private investigator team. Big Finish gave them their own line of audio adventures. (CE) 
  • Born April 9, 1980 – Jill Hathaway, age 41.  Two novels.  Teaches high-school English, bless her.  Has read Cat’s Cradle, Tender Is the NightNative Son.  [JH]
  • Born April 9, 1981 – Vincent Chong, age 40.  Two hundred twenty covers, sixty interiors.  Artbook Altered Visions.  Here is Shine.  Here is the Gollancz ed’n of Dangerous Visions.  Here is G’s Left Hand of Darkness.  Here is Ghost Story.  [JH]
  • Born April 9, 1990 – Megan Bannen, age 31.  Two novels, one just last year.  “An avid coffee drinker and mediocre ukulele player…. in her spare time, she collects graduate degrees from Kansas colleges and universities.”  Or so she says.  [JH]

(15) COMICS SECTION.

(16) PRINCE PHILIP RIP. The Cartoon Museum in London noted the passing of its Patron HRH Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh.

Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh has been Patron of The Cartoon Museum in London for over 20 years. In 1949 he and the young Princess Elizabeth attended the Royal Society of Arts and listened to a speech by the great British cartoonist H. M. Bateman, calling for a national museum of cartoons.

He has given the museum continuous support and with his great love of humour he admired the genre of British cartooning. In 1994 he opened the museum’s exhibition on Giles, who drew for the Daily and Sunday Express from 1943 – 1991. The Duke of Edinburgh owned several Giles cartoons in his private collection; Giles was his favourite cartoonist – he admired his social observations, gentle humour, and depictions of the Royal Family.

The monarchy have been a persistent (and easy) target of cartoonists and caricaturists for 300 years, from Gillray and Beerbohm to Scarfe, Bell, Rowson and Peter Brookes – but the Duke of Edinburgh could always see the funny side in any situation, and took humorous depictions of himself in his stride. In 2002 Prince Philip opened an exhibition of cartoons on the Kings and Queens (300 Years of Cartoons about the Monarchy), and in 2006 he opened London’s first museum of cartoons.

The Cartoon Museum, its Trustees, Staff, and the cartooning community are saddened to hear Prince Philip has passed away, and send their deepest condolences to H. M. The Queen and his family.

(17) TO BOLDLY GO…WHO KNOWS WHERE? SYFY Wire reports  “New ‘Star Trek’ film set for summer 2023, as studios shuffle several releases”. Just don’t ask what it will be about.

Star Trek is bolding coming back to the big screen… two years from now. Paramount Pictures confirmed Friday that a brand-new Trek film will hit theaters on June 8, 2023. While the project is currently untitled and plot details are non-existent, we suspect this is the movie currently being written by The Walking Dead alum, Kalinda Vasquez.

(18) SANDMAN CROSSOVER. There’s a Q&A with the authors in “Joe Hill, Gabriel Rodriguez preview their Locke & Key Sandman crossover” at Entertainment Weekly.

…Written and illustrated by the Locke & Key creative team of writer Joe Hill and artist Gabriel Rodriguez, with the blessing of The Sandman co-creator Neil GaimanHell and Gone is set in 1927, during the opening sequence of The Sandman in which Morpheus, the King of Dreams, is held captive by the human sorcerer Roderick Burgess. Mary Locke, an ancestor of the Locke children who populate the main Locke & Key story, reaches out to Burgess to see if his occult society can help her save her brother’s soul from hell…. 

GABRIEL RODRIGUEZ: I started buying Sandman from the newspaper stand near my house once they started selling the Spanish edition here in Chile. They started publishing from the eighth issue, in which they introduce Death, and from then on they did the entire run. I remember reading that very first issue and was immediately hooked by the storytelling. And then when we get into the Doll’s House story line, I immediately realized it was going to be something really big and cool, and I ended up collecting the entire series. At the time I was reading Sandman, I was just daydreaming about eventually making a comic book myself, but living in such a small country where we don’t have a huge publishing industry, especially back then, it felt impossible.

(19) UNSOUND EFFECTS. “2021 Oscar-Nominated Short: “Yes-People'” on YouTube is an Icelandic animated film, directed by Gisli Darri Hallsdottir, that is an nominee for best short animated film, and is presented by The New Yorker.

“Yes-People” follows several Icelanders as they navigate minor daily conflicts—on their way to work, or to school, or while grocery shopping.

(20) PETRIFIED DINO GIZZARDS. Megafauna swallowed bigger stones than their avian descendants: “These Rocks Made a 1,000-Mile Trek. Did Dinosaurs Carry Them?”

The gastroliths were found in Jurassic-aged mudstones in a rock formation called the Morisson. A rainbow of pinks and reds, the Morisson formation brims with dinosaur fossils, including those of sauropods, such as Barosaurus and Diplodocus, as well as meat-eaters such as Allosaurus.

But the rocks, which are similar to gastroliths dug up elsewhere, were found on their own without any dinosaur remnants. To get a clue as to how they had ended up in modern-day Wyoming, the team crushed the rocks to retrieve and date the zircon crystals contained inside, a bit like studying ancient fingerprints.

“What we found was that the zircon ages inside these gastroliths have distinct age spectra that matched what the ages were in the rocks in southern Wisconsin,” said Malone, now a doctoral student studying geology at the University of Texas at Austin. “We used that to hypothesize that these rocks were ingested somewhere in southern Wisconsin and then transported to Wyoming in the belly of a dinosaur.

“There hasn’t really been a study like this before that suggests long-distance dinosaur migration using this technique, so it was a really exciting moment for us.”

(21) FOSSILIZED STINK. Or maybe dinos were shying rocks at this creature to get rid of the smell? “Beast of five teeth: Chilean scientists unearth skunk that walked among dinosaurs” at Yahoo!

A fossil of a skunk-like mammal that lived during the age of dinosaurs has been discovered in Chilean Patagonia, adding further proof to recent evidence that mammals roamed that part of South America a lot earlier than previously thought.

A part of the creature’s fossilized jawbone with five teeth attached were discovered close to the famous Torres del Paine national park.

Christened Orretherium tzen, meaning ‘Beast of Five Teeth’ in an amalgam of Greek and a local indigenous language, the animal is thought to have lived between 72 and 74 million years ago during the Upper Cretaceous period, at the end of the Mesozoic era, and been a herbivore…

(22) JUST IN TIME. The sixth season of DC’s Legends of Tomorrow premieres Sunday, May 2.

The Legends continue their new mission to protect the timeline from temporal aberrations – unusual changes to history that spawn potentially catastrophic consequences. When Nate, the grandson of J.S.A. member Commander Steel, unexpectedly finds himself with powers, he must overcome his own insecurities and find the hero within himself. Ultimately, the Legends will clash with foes both past and present, to save the world from a mysterious new threat.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Michael J. Walsh, Frank Olynyk, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, rcade, Daniel Dern, Cat Eldridge, Michael Toman, John Hertz, Andrew Porter, James Bacon, Scott Edelman, and Mike Kennedy for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Greg Hullender, with an assist from rcade.]

Pixel Scroll 12/26/20 Wenn Ist Das Pixel Git Und Slotermayer? Nein! Beiherhund Die Oder Das Flipperwald Gescrollt!

(1) THE DEAD BODY PROBLEM. Lin Qi, producer of the upcoming Three-Body Problem adaptation, has died following an alleged poisoning by a colleague:  “Lin Qi, Yoozoo CEO and Producer on Netflix’s ‘Three-Body Problem,’ Dies at 39” in The Hollywood Reporter.

Lin Qi, the chairman and CEO of Yoozoo Group who was hospitalized after having been poisoned on Dec. 16, has died. The Chinese company confirmed that Lin died on Christmas Day. He was 39.

On Wednesday evening in China, the Shanghai Public Security Bureau had announced that Lin was receiving treatment after being poisoned and that a Yoozoo coworker of Lin’s, surnamed Xu, had been apprehended amid an investigation.

The statement read: “At 5 p.m. on Dec. 17, 2020, the police received a call from a hospital regarding a patient surnamed Lin. During the patient’s treatment, the hospital said it had determined that the patient had been poisoned. Following the call, the police began an investigation. According to investigations on site and further interviews, the police found that a suspect surnamed Xu, who is a coworker of the victim Lin, was the most likely the perpetrator. The suspect Xu has been arrested and investigations continue.”

The Hollywood Reporter reported that local media have said a dispute among the Chinese entertainment company’s executive ranks preceded the assault on Lin, which was allegedly carried out via a cup of poisoned pu-erh tea.

(2) A PIXAR FIRST. In the Washington Post, Michael Cavna interviews Kemp Powers, a Black co-writer of Soul, who explains how his experiences helped ensure that the African-American experiences portrayed in the film were authentic. “Kemp Powers of ‘Soul’: His long journey to becoming Pixar’s first Black writer-director”.

The geniuses at Pixar had a problem, and this time, they would need to look beyond the walls of their esteemed studio for help.

The movie in question was “Soul,” a tuneful jazz tale that somehow didn’t quite swing. Rather ironically, the movie’s main character was lacking in texture and truth and, well, any depth of soul. What to do about a lead role that, in the words of Pixar chief and “Soul” director Pete Docter, “was kind of an empty shell”?The call went out to Kemp Powers, a rising playwright and “Star Trek: Discovery” TV writer who headed to Pixar’s Bay Area headquarters with much more than notes. He had a lifetime of relevant insights.

The character in question was Joe Gardner, Pixar’s first leading Black character and the heart of “Soul,” which will be released on Disney Plus on Christmas Day after bypassing domestic theaters because of the pandemic. Powers will compete against himself that day when the film adaptation of his play “One Night in Miami,” directed by Regina King, will land in theaters (ahead of its Jan. 15 release on Amazon Prime)….… And Daveed Diggs, who voices Joe’s trash-talking rival Paul, says Powers brought a humanity and a fearlessness to the tale. “There’s a strength and level of conviction in the storytelling,” says Diggs, no easy task because with its supernatural spaces and existential themes, “Soul” is “a weird movie.”

(3) CONTINUE CELEBRATING. Filer Cora Buhlert has assembled “A Holiday Story Bonanza” in her newly-released book A Christmas Collection. Full details and options to purchase in various formats at the link.

Romance, cozy fantasy, murder mysteries, pulp thrillers, science fiction, horror and humor – we have all that and more.

  • Watch young people find love in the pre-holiday shopping rush at Hickory Ridge Mall, at a Christmas tree lot, on the parking lot of a shuttered outlet mall and at the one bar in town that’s open on Christmas Eve.
  • Experience Christmas in Hallowind Cove, the permanently fog-shrouded seaside town, where strange things keep happening.
  • Watch as Santa’s various helpers unite to depose him.
  • Follow Detective Inspector Helen Shepherd and her team as they investigate the death of a robber dressed as Santa Claus as well as a wave of thefts at a Christmas market.
  • Meet Richard Blakemore, hardworking pulp author by day and the masked crimefighter known only as the Silencer by night, as he fights to save an orphanage from demolition in Depression era New York City.
  • Watch Alfred and Bertha, an ordinary married couple, as they decorate the Christmas tree and live their marvellous twenty-first century life.
  • Experience Christmas on the space colony of Iago Prime as well as after the end of the world.

Enjoy thirteen novellas, novelettes and short stories in six genres. This is a collection of 118000 words or approx. 390 print pages.

(4) AN IDEA WHOSE TIME HAS COME. [Item by Francis Hamit.] The CASE Act, the legislation creating a Copyright Small Claims Court, is becoming law as a part of that massive stimulus bill passed by Congress.  I am taking a victory lap on this one.  You may recall I was quite active in the early part of this century on Copyright matters, including prosecuting two lawsuits for infringements of magazine articles by database firms.  I spent thousands of dollars for filing and legal fees over four years and came out ahead, but dropped four other suits because they would cost more than the maximum possible cash reward.  There had to be a better way, I thought, and came up with the idea of a Copyright Small Claims Court, which was published in the September/October 2006 issue of The Columbia Journalism Review. [File 770 previously mentioned Hamit’s advocacy of the idea in 2011: “A Future for Small Copyright Claims?”] So it is done, and small individual creators have a path to legal recourse that wasn’t there before.  Very gratifying.  Those who would like to thank me can buy one of my books or stories on Amazon,com  (Reviews are appreciated too).  I have a stage play at Stageplays,com which I’m trying to get produced.  I may add others soon.  Donations are accepted on Paypal at francishamit@earthlink.net.  I’m not a crusader, just a businessman.  Support allows me to create new work.

(5) EYES ON THE PRIZE. At the risk of turning into a platform that mainly steers its audience to Camestros Felapton (oops, too late!), there are some good things there this weekend:

…Yet not unlike DC’s Shazam! film , WW84 form offers charm and its apparent naivety at least avoids the dourness of the Snyder films or broader cynicism…

(6) WWDC. In the Washington Post, Michael Cavna interviews Wonder Woman 1984 director Patty Jenkins, who explains the reason the film is set in Washington in the 1980s is because it reflects Jenkins’s experiences.  For example, there are sequences at the Hirshhorn Museum because Jenkins was an art student there in 1987. “How Patty Jenkins turned ‘Wonder Woman 1984’ into a personal Washington story”.

“First of all, where would Diana go?” Jenkins says of the Amazonian warrior from the isle paradise of Themyscira, who headed to World War I’s European theater in “Wonder Woman.” “She would go to the heart and center of where power is.”

Once Jenkins and co-writer Geoff Johns were settled on setting, the director plunged deep into her own memories of Washington, where she often visited before moving to the area as a teenager in 1987, staying for a bit over a year.

“The style of D.C. is so wonderful” for Wonder Woman, says Jenkins, who shot numerous scenes on the Mall, in Georgetown and in Northern Virginia. “Having her live at the Watergate, the modernity of it, cut against the Reflecting Pool and the Hirshhorn — it just felt elegant and beautiful and intellectual and pop at the same time.”

(7) NPR’S BOOKS OF THE YEAR. [Item by Contrarius.] NPR’s Best Books Of 2020  is out. The sff included on the list are mostly the usual suspects for this year. Sadly, The Vanished Birds isn’t on it. Interestingly, the new translation of Beowulf is.

Click this link to go direct to the list’s Sci Fi, Fantasy & Speculative Fiction section.

(8) EVANS OBIT. 1632universe author Kevin H. Evans died on December 23 announced Eric Flint on Facebook. Evans often wrote in collaboration with his wife, Karen, who survives him.

Evans also was known as Sir Thorgeirr in the Society for Creative Anachronism.

(9) MEDIA ANNIVERSARY.

  • December 26, 1954 — On this day in 1954, the very last episode of The Shadow radio serial aired.  This was the program’s 665th installment and its twenty-first season. The serial first appeared on the air on Sept 26, 1937 with Orson Welles as Lamont Cranston and The Shadow and Agnes Moorehead as Margo Lane. It would end its run with Bret Morrison, who took over the lead roles from season twelve onward, and Gertrude Warner, who was Margo Lane from season thirteen onward. The final episode was “Murder by the Sea” which unfortunately is lost to us as the tape was not kept. 

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]

  • Born December 26, 1842 – Laura Gonzenbach.  German-Swiss of Sicily.  Collected Sicilian fairy tales; her two volumes among few major collections by a woman. Beautiful Angiola (2004) has the title story and sixty more in English.  (Died 1878) [JH]
  • Born December 26, 1903 Elisha Cook Jr. On the Trek side, he shows up as playing lawyer Samuel T. Cogley in the “Court Martial” episode. Elsewhere he had long association with the genre starting with Voodoo Island and including House on a Haunted HillRosemary’s BabyWild Wild West, The Night Stalker and Twilight Zone. (Died 1995.) (CE) 

  • Born December 26, 1938 – John Kahionhes Fadden, age 82.  (Kahionhes “Long River” is his Mohawk name; he’s Turtle, his mother’s clan.)  Maintains the Six Nations Indian Museum (i.e. the six nations of the Iroquois Confederacy; see e.g. the 2010 U.S. dollar coin; Haudenosaunee on it is “People of the Long House”, the Iroquois) started by his parents.  Four covers for us; here is Native American Animal Stories.  More here.  [JH]
  • Born December 26, 1942 – Catherine Coulter, age 78.  Six novels, four shorter stories for us; ninety books all told, many NY Times Best-Sellers.  Historical romances (“I love in particular Georgette Heyer, a British author who actually invented the Regency Romance – an extraordinary talent”), suspense thrillers (“at least six times as many loose ends that I have to keep searching out and tying up, and they always seem to multiply”).  Advice, “READ TO YOUR CHILDREN.”  [JH]
  • Born December 26, 1951 – Priscilla Olson, F.N., age 69.  Chaired Boskone 29, 38, 42, 48; introduced Featured Filker.  Ran Programming at Noreascon 4 the 62nd Worldcon.  Fellow of NESFA (New England SF Ass’n; service).  Introductions & essays in NESFA Press books An Ornament to His ProfessionCybele, Rings (Charles Harness); Ingathering (Zenna Henderson); Far From This EarthFrom Other Shores (Chad Oliver); Once More With Footnotes (Sir Terry Pratchett); also “…And What We Think It Means”, ConJose Souvenir Book (60th Worldcon).  Fan Guest of Honor at Minicon 34, Windycon 33.  [JH]
  • Born December 26, 1953 T. Jefferson Parker, 67. Author of the rather excellent Charlie Hood mystery series which ISFDB claims is paranormal. Huh. He’s one of the very few writers to win three Edgars. (CE) 
  • Born December 26, 1953 Clayton Emery, 67. Somewhere there’s a bookstore that consists of nothing but the franchise novel and collections that exist within a given franchise. No original fiction what-so-ever. This author has novels in the Forgotten Realms, Shadow WorldThe Burning GoddessCity of Assassins, The Secret World of Alex MackMagic: The Gathering and Runesworld franchises, plus several genre works including surprisingly Tales of Robin Hood on Baen Books. Must not be your granddaddy’s Hood. (CE)
  • Born December 26, 1960 Temuera Morrison, 60. Ahhhh clones.  In Attack of the Clones, he plays Jango Fett and a whole bunch of his clone troopers, and in Revenge of the Sith, he came back in the guise of Commander Cody. He goes on to play him in the second season of The Mandalorian.  Crossing over, he plays Arthur Curry’s father Thomas in Aquaman. (CE) 
  • Born December 26, 1961 Tahnee Welch, 59. Yes, the daughter of that actress. She’s in both Cocoon films as well in Sleeping BeautyBlack Light and Johnny 2.0 which she’s in might qualify as genre in the way some horror does. She stopped acting twenty years ago. (CE)
  • Born December 26, 1968 – Julia Elliott, Ph.D., age 52.  Jaffe Foundation award.  Amazon Shared-Worlds Residency.  A novel (“loopy lyricism … whacked out paranoia … joyous farce”, NY Times Book Review) and a dozen shorter stories.  Teaches at Univ. S. Carolina (Columbia). [JH]
  • Born December 26, 1970 Danielle Cormack, 50. If it’s fantasy and it was produced in New Zealand, she might have been in it. She was in Xena and Hercules as Ephiny on recurring role, Hercules again as Lady Marie DeValle,in Jack of All Trades, one of Kage Baker’s favorite series because, well, Bruce Campbell was the lead. She was Raina in a recurring role, and Samsara on Xena in another one-off and Margaret Sparrow in Perfect Creature, an alternate universe horror film. (CE)
  • Born December 26, 1983 – Nicholas Smith, age 37.  Thirty novels, half a dozen shorter stories.  Ironman tri-athlete.  NY Times and USA Today Best-Seller.  Has read Custer Died for Your Sins and The Hobbit.  “I only leave positive reviews…. If I don’t like a book [and] don’t finish it … I don’t trash it because who knows what I missed.”  [JH]

(11) COMICS SECTION.

  • Close to Home shows how Santa anticipated the current surveillance society.

(12) PLAY IT AGAIN. Nerdist would like to convince you “Why LEGENDS OF TOMORROW Is Perfect for 2020 and 2021”.

…It’s not the writing, acting, special effects, or deus ex furby plot twists that make Legends worth a (re)watch these days. While the show found its niche in a careful balance of absurdity with genuine tension (case in point: season four, episode 13, which simultaneously featured an Indiana Jones-esque plot to keep a dragon egg away from Nazis, a book club gone wrong, and a surprise attendee at a romance novel convention; we cannot make this stuff up), it’s the surprising attention to character development and the ongoing themes of hopefulness, redemption, and growth in the face of trauma and loneliness that sets Legends apart.

(13) REVISITING LEMURIA. A news story I couldn’t link here because it’s member-locked turned out not to be all that new – except to me, and perhaps you, too. Here are three updates that appeared between 2015-2018.

Erin Ehmke on hibernation in the fat-tailed dwarf lemur:

It could be an internal genetic trigger for hibernation in the fat-tailed dwarf lemur. Since we share genetic code with the federal dwarf lemur, [the medical community is interested in understanding if] we have that same intrinsic trigger that could be tapped into for long term coma patients to prevent the cell breakdown – deep space travel, could we somehow trigger hibernation in astronauts to help get to deep space travel.

… Those lemurs could hold the key to faster recovery times from injuries and even deep space travel because of hundreds of species of primates, the fat-tailed dwarf lemur is the closest genetic cousin to humans that can hibernate.

“That suspended animation doesn’t occur in primates very often,” explained Duke Lemur Center veterinarian Bobby Schopler. “These are relatives of ours that do this, and it’s a fascinating aspect.”

Scientists have been studying the primates in their natural habitat for 48 years at the Duke Lemur Center. Duke researchers want to find out how some of the lemurs can regulate body temperature, store massive amounts of energy and sleep for 7 months at a time.

… Interest in suspended animation, the ability to set biological processes on hold, peaked in the 1950s as Nasa poured money into biological research. The hope was that sleeping your way to the stars would mean spacecraft could carry far less food, water and oxygen, making long-haul flights to distant planets more practical. It would also save astronauts from years of deep-space boredom.

Nasa’s interest died at the end of the space race, but Mr Vyazovskiy and his team of researchers at the University of Oxford are now exploring ways to put astronauts into stasis, using knowledge gained from mammals, including bears and dwarf lemurs.

(14) PRESERVED IN PUMICE. [Item by Cora Buhlert.] Archeologists have discovered a 2000-year-old street food stall in Pompeii, complete with illustrations of the food (or rather the animals that provide the food) on offer. I’m amazed how modern the whole thing looks. I can imagine this stall setting up shop at our annual autumn fair without raising any eyebrows: “Pompeii: Ancient snack stall uncovered by archaeologists” at CNN.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, JJ, Contrarius, Francis Hamit, Martin Morse Wooster, Cat Eldridge, Michael Toman, Cora Buhlert, Steven H Silver, Mike Kennedy, John Hertz, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Steve Wright.]

Pixel Scroll 7/4/20 She Has Loosed The Fateful Lightning Of Her Terrible Swifts’ Scorn

(1) YARNSPINNER. Cora Buhlert will be taking up the challenge a little differently this year, but she is running a post to hold herself accountable: “The 2020 July Short Story Challenge – Day by Day”.

What is the July Short Story Challenge, you ask? Well, in July 2015, Dean Wesley Smith announced that he was planning to write a brand new short story every day during the month of July. The original post seems to be gone now, but the Wayback Machine has a copy here. At the time, several people announced that they would play along, so I decided to give it a try as well. And then I did it again the following year. And the next. And the next. If you want to read my post-mortems of the previous July short story challenges, here are the posts for 2015201620172018 and 2019.

Because I’ve already done the July short story challenge five years in a row now and always found the experience very rewarding, I’m aiming for a repeat this year. Though for now, I’m only committing to doing this for a week, which is already half over. If things are going well, I’ll keep going, though I’m not sure if I can do the entire July this year, because Worldcon is at the end of the month and that will eat up my time and attention.

(2) TRAILER TIME. The Old Guard on Netflix is a film about immortal mercenaries starring Charlize Theron.

Led by a warrior named Andy (Charlize Theron), a covert group of tight-knit mercenaries with a mysterious inability to die have fought to protect the mortal world for centuries. But when the team is recruited to take on an emergency mission and their extraordinary abilities are suddenly exposed, it’s up to Andy and Nile (Kiki Layne), the newest soldier to join their ranks, to help the group eliminate the threat of those who seek to replicate and monetize their power by any means necessary.

(3) CLASS IS IN SESSION. In each episode of the “Science Fiction University” podcast, Driftglass and Blue Gal discuss one work of classic science fiction plus one science fiction movie. The two pieces share a theme, whether it be time travel, unreliable narrators, dystopias, etc. The most recent episode is “Episode 5: How HBO’s Westworld Went South”.

(4) TURN ON, TUNE OUT. The New Yorker revisits “The Walkman, Forty Years On”.

…Hosokawa noted how listeners used the devices to tame the unpredictability of urban spaces, with all of their unexpected intrusions and loud noises. Wearing headphones functioned both as a personal “Do Not Disturb” sign and an alternate soundtrack to the cacophony of the city. This was a new form of human experience, engaged disengagement, a technological shield from the world and an antidote to ennui. Whenever nerves frayed or boredom crept in, one could just hit Play and fast-forward life a little. One of the first Westerners to grasp the import of this new human capacity was the author William Gibson, a pioneer of the genre of science fiction called cyberpunk, who wrote years later that “the Sony Walkman has done more to change human perception than any virtual reality gadget.”

(5) TRIVIAL TRIVIA.

Extract from John F. Kennedy’s Remarks at a Dinner Honoring Nobel Prize Winners of the Western Hemisphere — April 29, 1962:

I think this is the most extraordinary collection of talent, of human knowledge, that has ever been gathered together at the White House, with the possible exception of when Thomas Jefferson dined alone. 

Jefferson died on this day in 1826. (So did John Adams.)

(6) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

  • July 1970 — Fifty years ago, Roger Zelazny’s Nine Princes in Amber was published by Doubleday. It’s quite rare to find a copy these days because most of the copies were accidentally pulped by the publisher in error when the order went out to destroy remaining copies of Zelazny’s older book Creatures of Light and Darkness. It was the first novel in his Amber series. It was nominated for a Mythopoeic Fantasy Award but lost out to Mary Stewart’s A Crystal Cave. A comic adaptation was done by Terry Bisson, and a TV adaptation is supposed being  produced by the creators of the Walking Dead series.

(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]

  • Born July 4, 1878 – Frank Papé.  Five dozen covers, a hundred interiors, more outside our field; an Arabian Nights, an Odyssey, a Pilgrim’s Progress, a collection of the Psalms, a Robin Hood, Robinson Crusoe, a Sigurd and Gudrun; Cabell, Cervantes, Anatole France, Rabelais, Sabatini, Shakespeare, Spenser, Suetonius; an Indian and a Russian Story Book; Golden, Ruby, Diamond Fairy Books; Uncle Ray’s Corner (Ramon Coffman).  Here is a Penguin Island.  Here is a Silver Stallion.  Here is a moment from Alfred Clark’s As It Is in Heaven.  Here is Christian conquering Apollyon.  Here is Falcon the Hunter from The Russian Story Book.  (Died 1972) [JH]
  • Born July 4, 1883 – Rube Goldberg.  A top cartoonist and not only for The Inventions of Professor Lucifer Gorgonzola Butts (1914-1964); in 1915 his salary at the New York Evening Mail was $50,000 a year (go ahead, do the calculation); several comic strips including Mike and Ike (They Look Alike); 1948 Pulitzer Prize for this editorial cartoon.  First President of the Nat’l Cartoonists Society, namesake of the Reuben Award.  Here is his postage stamp.  Here is a Website.  We should’ve had a 100th Birthday exhibit at the 41st Worldcon but I didn’t think of it and neither did you.  (Died 1970) [JH]
  • Born July 4, 1901 Guy Endore. American novelist and screenwriter whose 1933 The Werewolf of Paris novel holds the same position in werewolf literature that Dracula does for vampire literature. It was filmed as The Curse of The Werewolf for which he wrote the screenplay. Stableford also praises his horror story, “The Day of the Dragon”. He worked on the screenplay for Mark of the Vampire starring Bella Lugosi. (Died 1970.) (CE)
  • Born July 4, 1904 William Meader. A long history in genre video starting with When Worlds Collide and The War of The Worlds. All of his appearances were uncredited as was the case in Earth vs. the Flying Saucers and The Absent Minded Professor, and even his appearances on Star TrekThe Twilight ZoneGet Smart!Batman Wild, Wild West and even Munster, Come Home! (Died 1979.) (CE)
  • Born July 4, 1941 – Howard Frank, Ph.D.  Director of the Information Technology Office at DARPA (Defense Adv. Research Pjts. Agency, U.S. Dept. of Defense), then Dean of the School of Business at U. Maryland.  Internet Hall of Fame.  Moskowitz Archive Award.  The Frank CollectionGreat Fantasy Art Themes from the Frank Collection (both with Jane Frank).  (Died 2017) [JH]
  • Born July 4, 1947 – Ann Layman Chancellor.  Costumer, filksinger, graphic artist.  Phi Beta Kappa (Classics), College of William & Mary; M.F.A., Boston University School of Theater Arts.  Assistant Professor of Design at U. Iowa, then U. New Orleans, then State U. N.Y. at Oneonta.  Parade Artist, New Orleans Mardi Gras; Ass’t Costume Dir., Guthrie Theater (Minneapolis); full-body costumes, heads, hardware, motion systems, Sesame Street. Art Director, Kalki (Cabell Society) 1971-1984.  Fan Guest of Honor at DeepSouthCon 24.  Drew the Lady of Cups (no, not the Queen) for the Fantasy Showcase Tarot Deck.  Costumes, Creatures, and Characters for the 38th Worldcon.  Here she is as Maleficent (shown with Cortlandt Hull’s Ming) at the 29th.  Here she is as Black Orchid at the 37th.  Substantial artwork for the 46th.  Here is a minor adventure with her at the 51st.  (Died 1998) [JH]
  • Born July 4, 1949 Peter Crowther, 71. He is the founder (with Simon Conway) of PS Publishing where he’s editor now. He edited a series of genre anthologies that DAW published. And he’s written a number of horror novels of which I’d say After Happily Ever and By Wizard Oak are good introductions to him. He’s also done a lot of short fiction but I see he’s really available in digital form for much of short fiction or novels at the usual digital suspects.  (CE)
  • Born July 4, 1958 – Lynn Gold, 62.  Active fan in the San Francisco Bay area, and more widely as a filksinger.  With Lee & Barry Gold (no relation) published The Golden Gait Songbook for ConFrancisco the 51st Worldcon.  Co-founded FanFare Music, the non-profit parent of Consonance; chaired Consonance 2001 and 2003-2004, Toastmistress at Consonance 2011; Interfilk Guest (traveling-filker fund) at NEFilk 10 (Northeast Filk Convention).  Guest of Honor at LepreCon 25, Loscon 28.  [JH]
  • Born July 4, 1967 Christopher McKitterick, 53. Director of the Center for the Study of Science Fiction, a program at the University of Kansas that supports an annual series of awards, lectures, classes, workshops, the Campbell Conference, and AboutSF, a resource for teachers and readers of science fiction. He’s also a juror for and Chair of the John W. Campbell Memorial Award for Best Science Fiction Novel from 2002 onward. And yes, he does write genre fiction with one novel to date, Transcendence, more than a double handful of stories, and being an academic, critical essays such as  “John W. Campbell: The Man Who Invented Modern Fantasy and the Golden Age of Science Fiction” which was published in Steven H. Silver’s Hugo nominated Argentus. (CE)
  • Born July 4, 1977 David Petersen, 43. Writer and illustrator of the brilliant Mouse Guard series. If you haven’t read it, do so — it’s that good. He published a few years back The Art of The Mouse Guard 2005 – 2015 which though expensive is stunning as a look at his series. It almost got developed as a film but got axed due to corporate politics. IDW published The Wind in The Willows with over sixty of his illustrations several years back. (CE)
  • Born July 4, 1983 – Milena Wójtowicz, 37.  A talkative optimist, a devoted lover of dogs, statistical yearbooks, books, Internet comics, and Christmas lights.Six novels, three dozen shorter stories, a dozen translations.  Among her characters are beautiful princesses, insidious dragons, neglected dogs, but even princesses have no influence on the roles the author will write for them.  Here is the cover for Wrota (Polish, “gate”).  [JH]
  • Born July 4, 1989 Emily Coutts , 41. She plays the role of helmsman Keyla Detmer on Discovery. She’s also her mirror universe counterpart, who is the first officer of that universe’s Shenzhou. (I like the series and am definitely looking forward to it when it jump a thousand years into the future next season!) She was in one episode of the SF series Dark Matter and in Crimson Peak, a horror film but that’s it for genre appearances. (CE)

(8) COMICS SECTION.

(9) HAT TIP. SYFY Wire’s “Fangrrls” probe “How Legends Of Tomorrow Paid Tribute To The Roots Of Fanfiction”

…The whole episode, titled “The One Where We’re Trapped on TV,” is a campy delight with fun twists on major TV shows, but the Star Trek parody in particular is pretty special. Sara and Ava play the roles of Kirk and Spock, respectively, and the series goes so far as to have them kiss on the bridge.

It’s a significant moment for a few reasons. First, it’s just plain delightful to see all the K/S (the original ship name for Kirk and Spock) sexual tension play out on screen. Second, having queer characters assume the roles of characters who have long been queered by fandom affirms how viewers have read the original characters for decades. And perhaps the coolest part of all is that in so doing, Legends pretty clearly nods to one of the roots of queer fanfic: slash.

(10) SERLING INTERVIEWED BY GUNN. “Interview With Rod Serling (1970)” on YouTube is an interview with Rod Serling about sf on television that James Gunn did for the Center for the Study of Science FIction at the University of Kansas in 1970.

(11) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] “Horror Europa With Mark Gatiss” on YouTube is a 2012 BBC documentary that is a sequel to “A History of Horror.”  The documentary is devoted to a discussion of great German, Belgian, French, Spanish, and Italian horror films and includes interviews with directors Dario Argento and Guillermo Del Toro and a visit to the Slovakian castle where Nosferatu was filmed.

[Thanks to Martin Morse Wooster, Jerry Kaufman, John King Tarpinian, Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, JJ. Cat Eldridge, John Hertz, Michael Toman, and Chip Hitchcock for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Anna Nimmhaus, who found something July Fourthish in yesterday’s item about BionicSwifts.]

Pixel Scroll 5/29/20 And One Wormhole Going Nowhere Just For Show

(1) DYNAMIC DINOS. Camestros Felapton continues celebrating his fifth blogoversary with the release of a post collection — “Book Launch: The Hugosauriad”. And the price is right: “As always the cost is FREE and half price for dinosaurs.”

Two hundred and fifty two million years in the making, a book that spans geological eras, astronomical bodies colliding, and people getting upset at award ceremonies. Space! Big game hunters! A surprising number of priests! Atheist therapods! This is a book that has everything but a simple premise!

…Picking a single theme opened up a way into the huge scope of the Hugo Awards. Instead of just winners, I could look at notable finalists as well but more than that, I could look at stories that weren’t even nominated (in some cases because they preceded the Hugo Awards) but which were influential. It also meant that I could trace how one theme had changed and shifted in the genre over decades but also how features of the Hugos (such as the infamous No Award) had played out in multiple eras.

To my delight and surprise other themes volunteered themselves as if eager to jump on the bandwagon: the boundary between science fiction and literary fiction, the influence of changing scientific ideas on science fiction, the role of humour in science fiction, the representation of women as both authors and characters in the awards.

(2) KGB. Fantastic Fiction at KGB reading series hosts Ellen Datlow and Matthew Kressel present N.K. Jemisin and Kenneth Schneyer online Wednesday, June 17th, 2020, at 7 p.m. (The in-person event is cancelled.) The YouTube link for the livestream is forthcoming.

N.K. Jemisin

N.K. Jemisin is a New York Times-bestselling author of speculative fiction short stories and novels. In 2018, she became the first author to win three Best Novel Hugos in a row for her Broken Earth trilogy. She has also won a Nebula Award, two Locus Awards, and a number of other honors. Her latest novel, The City We Became, is out now from Orbit Books. She lives and writes in Brooklyn.

Kenneth Schneyer

Kenneth Schneyer has been nominated for the Nebula and Sturgeon awards. His fiction has appeared in Lightspeed Magazine, Uncanny Magazine, Strange Horizons, Analog, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, and Clockwork Phoenix. Fairwood Press will release his second collection, Anthems Outside Time and Other Strange Voices in July. He teaches Shakespeare, constitutional law, sf, criminal procedure, and introductory logic to college students in Rhode Island.

(3) LEGENDS OF TOMORROW RECAP. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] Tuesday night’s episode of DC’S Legends of Tomorrow was the episode where they parodied Star Trek.  The premise this season is that the three Greek Fates are in the Legends of Tomorrow universe and have three rings, and these rings are plot coupons that you can turn in for the prize, which I think is absolute power or something.  Two of the Fates are evil and one, Clotho, is a good character who helps the Legends.  In Tuesday’s episode, Clotho places the Legends in a universe where they are on TV all the time, in shows that are analogues of Friends, Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, Downton Abbey, and Star Trek.

The Trek parody was called “Star Trip,” a spaceship whose continuing mission was to find strange new worlds and then blow them up.  They faced characters called “Gromulans” who looked vaguely like Klingons.  There was also a character who looked like Khan and was called Don, and the joke here is that Don had long flowing white hair while Dominic Purcell, who played Don, is a bald character in the Legends universe.  Caity Lotz did her Shatner impression and was funny, but I thought the best character in the show was Matt Ryan, who played the head butler in the Downton Abbey analogue but on the show plays dissolute demon hunter John Constantine.

My problem with the Arrowverse shows is that their writers discovered parallel worlds, making the show’s story arcs ridiculously complicated.  I think Tom Cavanaugh on The Flash has played four variants of his character from four parallel worlds.  But Legends of Tomorrow has a less complex backstory and is entertaining.  I also think Stargirl is promising, at least for the first two episodes.

(4) LET’S KEEP LOOKING. Robert Zubrin, in “Searching for Life in the Outer Solar System” at National Review Online, has a positive review of JPL scientist Kevin Peter Hand’s Alien Oceans, which discusses the need for continuing deep-space exploration.

You Earthlings are all alike. Whether humans, turtles, wasps, trees, mushrooms, tardigrades, or bacteria, you all use the same DNA, RNA, ATP biochemical operating system. You offer some interesting diversity, that is true. But are you all there is to life?

Kevin Peter Hand, a scientist with the Jet Propulsion Lab, really wants to get the answer. In his engaging new book, Alien Oceans: The Search for Life in the Depths of Space, he lays out why, where, and how we can do so.

English, French, Spanish, German, and Polish all use the same system for encoding information: the Latin alphabet. Greek and Russian employ alphabets that differ significantly but still work according to the same basic principles. That is because all these scripts have a common origin. If all you knew were European languages, you might think that variation on such writing systems exhausted the possibilities. Chinese, though, on the other hand, utilizes an information technology with no resemblance to any Western phonetic alphabet. It accomplishes the same function but does so in a fundamentally different way.

There are, as Hand explains, fundamental reasons why we might expect that life everywhere uses the same carbon- and water-based chemistry we see here. But Earth life is far more restricted in its format than such considerations alone require. Specifically, it all uses the same DNA-RNA alphabet for encoding genetic information from one generation to the next — the Latin alphabet, if you will. That works well enough, but could life elsewhere be using Chinese? And what could that mean if it does? …

(5) BE AWARE. Angela Yuriko Smith advises readers of the Horror Writers Association newsletter about the need to do “Marketing Without Marketing”.

…For many of us (including my own family) expendable income has been reduced or dried up completely. Even those of us who were flush before the pandemic are feeling the pinch now. Many of us are looking at all the avenues of income we have access to. And suddenly, I’ve noticed, everyone has something to sell.

Here’s the problem: when people don’t have extra money, how do blatant advertisements make them feel? For me, I get annoyed. I’m already upset that my extra money is gone and I’m having to cut back on luxury items. Some people can’t even cover bare necessities right now. When we’re broke and you get hit with a blunt “buy this” notice, we typically have a negative response.

If I can no longer purchase the things I do regularly, a “buy this” marketing approach only serves as a reminder of the bitter truth. As artists, we never want anyone to feel a negative response to us or our work. That feeling of dislike can last long after the current pandemic becomes history.

(6) CALLED OFF. A piece in the Washington Post with the theme “summer is not cancelled” that names a lot of activities still happening or going online, also lists local cancellations – including two large Washington media conventions:  Blerdcon, the “black nerd” convention, and Otakon, a giant 30,000 person anime convention that was in Baltimore and moved to Washington a few years ago.

Blerdcon and Otakon: It’s a tough year for those who love dressing up as their favorite pop-culture icons. Both Otakon, the mega-convention which drew almost 30,000 attendees to a celebration of anime, manga and Asian art at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in 2019, and Blerdcon, a diverse gathering for thousands of gamers, cosplayers and fans of nerd culture at the Hyatt Regency Crystal City, are off.

(7) CREATING TO SCALE. Tor.com’s Alan Brown might talk you into making a model yourself: “Bringing Stories to Life: The World of Science Fiction and Fantasy Model Building”.

Science fiction and fantasy fans love to dream about things that never existed. And some of them enjoy bringing objects and ideas from their imagination to life. Whether working from kits or making something from scratch, there is a great deal of enjoyment to be gained from model building, and satisfaction in seeing a finished project. This is a great time for those who enjoy the hobby: the internet has provided ways to share information with other modelers and to shop for kits and products from around the world, and the new technology of 3D printing has opened up even more ways to bring imaginary things to life. So if, like a lot of people these days, you have some extra time on your hands, you might want to look into model building

We live in a time where social distancing has become imperative. Folks are being warned to minimize contact with other people, keep a safe distance and remain in their homes as much as possible. This has become a source of good-natured humor in the model-building community, whose members spend a lot of time at benches tucked away in a basement or corner of their house. “We’ve been training for this our whole lives,” they joke. But this also raises a good point: Modeling is a perfect hobby for these times…. 

(8) AT SEVENTEEN. PureWow’s Sarah Stiefvater did it: “Every Single ‘Harry Potter’ Movie Explained Using Only a Haiku”.

2. ‘HARRY POTTER AND THE CHAMBER OF SECRETS’

Dobby tries to help

Gang gets whomped by a willow

Tom Riddle—uh oh!

(9) JAMES OBIT. Actor Anthony James, famed for playing creeps and villains in major films like The Heat of the Night and The Unforgiven, died of cancer May 26. His extensive resume included appearances in TV’s Beauty and the Beast (1989), and Star Trek: The Next Generation (“The Neutral Zone” as Romulan Sub-Cmdr. Thei, 1988). (His career included getting killed by Clint Eastwood’s character in two different movies.)

James had made a single brief appearance on a TV series before Norman Jewison cast him as the killer Ralph in 1967’s In the Heat of the Night, starring Sidney Poitier and Rod Steiger. The film went on to win five Oscars, including Best Picture.

His memoir, Acting My Face — a title borrowed from an oft-told story about his acting idol Marlon Brando — was published in 2014.

Anthony James on the right as Sub-Cmdr. Thei.

(10) HERD OBIT. Actor Richard Herd, best-known for his work on Seinfeld, died May 27. The New York Times paid tribute:

Richard Herd, who played lawmen, tough guys, a general, an alien commander and a Watergate burglar, but was best known as Mr. Wilhelm, George Costanza’s supervisor, on “Seinfeld,” died on Tuesday at his home in Los Angeles. He was 87.

Mr. Herd was also known for roles on several science-fiction series, among them Supreme Commander John on the mini-series “V” in 1983 and its sequel the next year; L’Kor, a Klingon, on “Star Trek: The Next Generation”; and Admiral William Noyce on “Seaquest 2032.”

Richard Thomas Herd was born on Sept. 26, 1932, in Boston. In 1970 he was cast in his first film, “Hercules in New York,” whose star, Arnold Schwarzenegger, was also making his movie debut.

He stayed busy for nearly 50 years. He had roles in the mini-series “Ike: The War Years” (1979), “The China Syndrome” (1979), “All the President’s Men” (1976), and the TV series “T.J. Hooker,” “Quantum Leap” and “Desperate Housewives.”

In 2017, Mr. Herd played the founder of a cult in one scene in Jordan Peele’s acclaimed horror film “Get Out.”

(11) TRIVIAL TRIVIA.

Edgar Allan Poe’s poem “The Raven” was inspired by a real bird, specifically Charles Dickens’ pet  Grip, who also makes an appearance in his owner’s story “Barnaby Rudge.” Grip died in 1841 but was preserved in arsenic and taxidermied. He can be seen in the Rare Books department of the Philadelphia Free Library.

Source: Atlas Obscura

(12) TODAY IN HISTORY.

  • May 29, 1956 X Minus One aired Gordon R. Dickson’s “Lulungameena.” It first appeared in the Looking Forward anthology in November 1953 (edited by Milton Lesser), and is the first story where his Dorsai mercenaries are mentioned (though it was not considered a Dorsai story by him). Four years after this aired, Dorsai! would finish second to Starship Troopers for Best Novel Hugo at Pittcon. The script was by George Lefferts who did most of the scripts here. The cast was Ralph Camargo, Ned Weaver, Jack Grimes, Bob Hastings and Kermit Murdock. You can hear the show here.

(13) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]

  • Born May 29, 1874 – G.K. Chesterton.  Wrote essays, fiction, poems (is poetry fiction?), plays, biography, criticism.  Illustrator; journalist; radio broadcaster.  Half a dozen of his eighty books are ours, famously The Napoleon of Notting Hill and The Man Who Was Thursday; eighty of his two hundred shorter stories.  Events in his Father Brown stories turn out not to be fantasy.  But GKC was the prince of paradox.  Translated into Dutch, Finnish, French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Romanian, Spanish.  (Died 1936) [JH]
  • Born May 29, 1901 – Ken Fagg.  A dozen covers for If and a few others; co-creator of world’s largest geophysical relief globe; illustrator for LifeHolidaySaturday Evening Post; art director for 20th Century Fox.  See three of his If wrap-arounds hereherehere.  Here is A Volcanic Eruption on Titan, Sixth Moon of Saturn.  (Died 1980) [JH]
  • Born May 29, 1906 – T.H. White.  We can claim six of his novels (counting The Once and Future King as one – although its publication history made its first part “The Sword in the Stone” eligible for a Retro-Hugo, which we gave it), twenty shorter stories.  He lived to see Once & Future made into the Lerner & Loewe musical Camelot, which L&L told each other was impossible, and they were right, but luckily that didn’t matter.  He translated a Bestiary, called non-fiction, which is like calling Once & Future a children’s story.  (Died 1964) [JH]
  • Born May 29, 1909 Neil R. Jones. It is thought that “The Death’s Head Meteor,” his first story, which was published in Air Wonder Stories in 1930, could be the first use of “astronaut” in fiction. He also created the use of a future history before either Robert A. Heinlein or Cordwainer Smith were to do so. They’re collected in The Planet of the Double SunThe Sunless World and a number of another overlapping collections.  He’s a member of the First Fandom Hall of Fame. (Died 1988.) (CE)
  • Born May 29, 1923 Genevieve Linebarger. Widow of Cordwainer Smith. She had a hand in The Instrumentality of Mankind series, co-authoring “The Lady Who Sailed the Soul” (1960), and “Golden the Ship Was — Oh! Oh! Oh!” (1959) and, after her husband’s death, was the sole author of “Down to a Sunless Sea” (1975) published under his name, and completed “Himself in Anachron“ (published 1993). (Credits per NESFA Press’ Rediscovery of Man collection.) (Died 1981.) (CE)
  • Born May 29, 1930 – Richard Clifton-Dey.  Five dozen covers in our field; a hundred total, Westerns, war books, advertising, romance; a few interiors; much unsigned, identified by his widow.  See here (Fritz Leiber), here (Tim Powers), here (H.G. Wells).  (Died 1997) [JH]
  • Born May 29, 1939 Alice K. Turner. Playboy fiction editor from 1980 to 2000. Silverberg praised her highly and she did much to make sure SF had an important place in the fiction offered up there. The Playboy Book of Science Fiction collects a good tasting of the SF published during her tenure. (Died 2015.) (CE)
  • Born May 29, 1948 – Larry Kresek.  Thirty covers in our field.  First chair of illustration dep’t, Ringling School of Art & Design; movie posters, record albums, national ads, pharmaceutical illustrations; adviser to education committee, N.Y. Society of Illustrators; professor, Rocky Mountain College of Art & Design; various projects with wife Joan Kresek.  See here (Spider & Jeanne Robinson), here (Theodore Sturgeon), here.  [JH]
  • Born May 29, 1952 – Louise Cooper.  Eighty novels in our field: a dozen Time Master novels; also CreaturesDark EnchantmentIndigoMermaid CurseMirror, MirrorSea Horses; a dozen stand-alone novels, another dozen shorter stories. Translated into French, German, Spanish.  She and husband Cas Shandall sang with the shanty group Falmouth Shout.  (Died 2009) [JH]
  • Born May 29, 1959 Adrian Paul, 61. Duncan MacLeod on Highlander. And yes, I watched the whole bloody series. His first appearance in genre circles was as Dmitri Benko in the “Ashes, Ashes” episode of the Beauty and the Beast series. He shows up next as Prospero in Masque of the Red Death. He’s got several series before HighlanderWar of the Worlds (not bad at all) where he was John Kincaid, a short-lived role as Jeremiah Collins on Dark Shadows and an even shorter-lived rolled on Tarzán as Jack Traverse. His first post- Highlander Sf series is Tracker where her he players alien shapeshifter Cole / Daggon.  A decade ago, he returned to a familiar role in Highlander: The Source. His last series role was playing Dante on Arrow.  Note: this is not a complete list. (CE)
  • Born May 29, 1987 Pearl Mackie, 33. Companion to Twelfth Doctor, the actress was the first openly LGBTQ performer and companion cast in a regular role in Doctor Who. Mackie, says Moffatt, was so chosen as being non-white was not enough. Her other notable genre role was playing Mika Chantry in the audiowork of The Conception of Terror: Tales Inspired by M. R. James. (CE)
  • Born May 29, 1996 R. F. Kuang, 24. She’s an award-winning Chinese-American fantasy writer. The Poppy War series, so-called grimdark fantasy, consists of The Poppy War which won the Compton Crook Award for Best First Novel, The Dragon Republic and The Burning God (forthcoming). She’s a nominee this year for the Astounding Award for Best New Writer. (CE)

(14) COMICS SECTION.

Q: Why is the suspense killing him?

A: Someone has to do it.

Wondermark on time traveling assassins.

(15) BLEEDING OUT. Sarah McNally asks in a New York Times opinion piece, “What Could Kill My New York Bookstores?” There’s no doubt about it. Tagline: “It won’t be Amazon or the coronavirus. It will be artificially high rents.”

Every weekday I drive to my four bookstores, pick up our customers’ orders, wedge them into the back of my car and take them to the Cooper Station post office. My route takes me to Williamsburg to Downtown Brooklyn to the South Street Seaport, and ends at my original store in NoLIta.

I sweep the deserted sidewalks — if you own a shop, you’re responsible for the sidewalk — and I wonder how many of the stores and restaurants around mine will be able to reopen and pay the debts they accrued during the lockdown.

So many closed long before the pandemic. I miss my old neighbors in NoLIta, the restaurants and their chefs, the bodega that magically had everything I needed, like Mary Poppins’s carpetbag, the Buddhist monk from the Tibetan store who gave me cardamom for tea, the bar where I had the most beautiful date of my life.

How many more distinctive stores and restaurants can our city lose before we find that we are no longer New York, but a dead-faced simulacrum?

Years before Covid, many city blocks had been reduced to a few overlit national chains — Dunkin’ Donuts, Metro by T-Mobile, Subway, Starbucks — and a whole lot of dark, depressing vacancies. Almost every business owner I spoke to or read about seemed to give the same reason: soaring rents. In some neighborhoods, even as vacancies are increasing, rent keeps rising….

(16) DEEP EIGHT. “World’s deepest octopus captured on camera”.

The deepest ever sighting of an octopus has been made by cameras on the Indian Ocean floor.

The animal was spotted 7,000m down in the Java Trench – almost 2km deeper than the previous reliable recording.

Researchers, who report the discovery in the journal Marine Biology, say it’s a species of “Dumbo” octopus.

The name is a nod to the prominent ear-like fins just above these animals’ eyes that make them look like the 1940s Disney cartoon character.

(17) ONE TO MEME UP. William Shatner tweeted a photo of him inside one of the new SpaceX spacesuits and said he’s available if NASA wants him.

(18) WAVE OFFERING. “‘Cannabis burned during worship’ by ancient Israelites”

Ancient Israelites burned cannabis as part of their religious rituals, an archaeological study has found.

A well-preserved substance found in a 2,700-year-old temple in Tel Arad has been identified as cannabis, including its psychoactive compound THC.

Researchers concluded that cannabis may have been burned in order to induce a high among worshippers.

This is the first evidence of psychotropic drugs being used in early Jewish worship, Israeli media report.

The temple was first discovered in the Negev desert, about 95km (59 miles) south of Tel Aviv, in the 1960s.

In the latest study, published in Tel Aviv University’s archaeological journal, archaeologists say two limestone altars had been buried within the shrine.

Thanks in part to the dry climate, and to the burial, the remains of burnt offerings were preserved on top of these altars.

(19) ASSUMING THIS IS YOUR IDEA OF COOL. “When Covid-19 hit, zookeeper Caitlin Henderson ended up in lockdown with 70 spiders” — video with lots of cool closeups.

Caitlin Henderson was working for a spider exhibition when the coronavirus pandemic hit. The venue closed, and suddenly she was living in lockdown with 70 spiders in her bedroom.

(20) BACK IN THE DAY. Superman serial star Kirk Alyn plays baseball with other movie celebrities of 1950, including Hopalong Cassidy, in this Paramount News feature.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, John Hertz, JJ, Chip Hitchcock, Michael Toman, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, Nina Shepardson, John A Arkansawyer, Cat Eldridge, and Andrew Porter. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]

Pixel Scroll 5/25/20 Five Hundred Twenty-Five Thousand Six Hundred Pixels How Do You Measure, Measure A Scroll?

(1) THE SANTA FE. Now he’ll really be George Railroad Martin: “George R. R. Martin Buys Part of Historic Santa Fe Railroad”.

George R. R. Martin, who wrote the book series that was adapted into the HBO series “Game of Thrones,” and two co-investors have bought an abandoned, 18-mile spur railroad line from Santa Fe to Lamy, New Mexico, with the intent of restoring it to its former glory as a tourist attraction, The Business Insider reported on Monday.

No price was mentioned for the purchase, which also includes 10 antique rail cars, two vintage locomotives, and a station house at Lamy currently leased by Amtrak that is part of its twice daily line from Chicago to Los Angeles.

“There are a lot of opportunities for a new tourist attraction,” Martin told the Albuquerque Journal. “COVID has thrown a monkey wrench into our plan. We had hoped to get things up and running in 2021, but now it won’t be until 2022.”

I’ve caught a train at the Lamy station, after visiting my sister in Santa Fe. It’s miles out of town — despite the city’s iconic railroad name, the Amtrak line doesn’t run through the city.

Martin explains his plans in more detail in his blog post “All Aboard for Lamy” which concludes:

…It is going to take a lot of work, more than a few bucks, and a fair amount of time to get the railroad running again.   There are tracks and trestles to inspect and repair, old historic coaches to restore to their former splendor, a dead locomotive to bring back to life.   And the coronavirus has slowed the process way down.   But sooner or later, we do hope to have the old Lamy Line chuffing and puffing once again, and we have all sorts of fun ideas for the future, live music and murder mysteries and train robberies and escape rooms and… well, we shall see.

And best of all, we won’t need to pull up the tracks when Christmas is over.

(2) CON CANCELLATION. Pulpfest, planned for August, has been cancelled, too. They made the announcement today: “There is Nothing Wrong with Your Television Set . . .”

…We regret to announce that PulpFest is being postponed until August 2021.

Although it is likely that businesses and events in the region where PulpFest is staged will be allowed to resume operations in June, they will have to follow guidelines issued by the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Pennsylvania Department of Health.

…Given the substantial risks involved and our desire to maintain the health and well-being of our many supporters, the PulpFest organizing committee voted unanimously to postpone this year’s convention until early August 2021.

(3) LEAP, BUT NOT QUANTUM. Chancellor Agard, in “Watch Legends of Tomorrow jump from Friends to Downton Abbey in exclusive sneak peek” on Entertainment Weekly discusses tomorrow’s episode, where the Legends jump from the world of a show like Friends to one like Downton Abbey to one like Star Trek.

(4) A HORSE, OF COURSE. Yesterday was the thirtieth anniversary of the debut of the third Back to the Future movie. Yahoo! Entertaiment put together a quiz — “‘Back to the Future Part III’ turns 30: Take this quiz to test your knowledge”. I really blew this one – only 6 out of 14. And one of my right answers was about how special effects manure was made – am I supposed to be proud of that?

… On May 24, 1990, the final film in Robert Zemeckis and Bob Gale’s Back to the Future trilogy premiered in theaters. Directly picking up from the cliffhanger of 1989’s Back to the Future Part II, where Doc Brown (Christopher Lloyd) and the DeLorean time machine accidentally being struck by lightning, sending him back to the Old West. Part III picks up with Marty McFly (Michael J. Fox) traveling to 1885 to rescue Doc and return him to the present. 

(5) SPACE FORCE REDUX. Netflix dropped a second trailer for Space Force, which they have cleverly called Space Force Trailer 2.

Steve Carell was also on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert on Thursday  promoting Space Force but he doesn’t talk about the show until 5-1/2 minutes into the segment.

(6) STILES REMEMBERED. Balticon 54’s website includes a tribute to the late fanartist: “In Memoriam: Steve Stiles (1943-2020)”. Includes lots of photos and art.

Steve Stiles became a science fiction fan in 1957; he’d been illustrating fanzines from then until his death, earning him the first Rotsler Fan Artist Award in 1998, and a Fan Artist Hugo in 2016. Professionally, he worked in numerous comic book genres since 1973 (horror, super hero, science fiction, humor), including the award-winning Xenozoic Tales and perhaps the first steampunk graphic novel, The Adventures of Professor Thintwhistle, with author Richard Lupoff.

(7) TODAY’S DAY.

May 25Towel Day which is celebrated by fans every year on May 25 as a tribute to the author Douglas Adams. Fans carry a towel with them as described in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. The commemoration was first held May 25, 2001 two weeks after Douglas Adams’ death. [Via Rocketmail.]

(8) TODAY IN HISTORY.

  • May 25, 1977 Star Wars premiered. Later retitled as Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope, it was written and directed by George Lucas. You know who the cast is so we’ll not list all of them here. Lucas envisioned the film as being in the tradition of Buck Rodgers which he originally intended to remake but couldn’t get the rights to.  Reception by critics and fans alike was fantastic with IguanaCon II voting it the Best Dramatic Presentation Hugo over Close Encounters of The Third Kind. It holds a stellar 96% rating among audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes. 
  • May 25, 1983 Return of the Jedi, the last of the original trilogy, premiered. Later retitled Star Wars: Episode VI – Return of the Jedi, it came out six years after Star Wars. It is directed not by Lucas this time but by Richard Marquand from a screenplay by Lucas and Lawrence Kasdan who co-wrote Raiders of the Lost Ark.  The principal cast is the same as the first film. Critics were ever so slightly less pleased with this concluding film of the trilogy but the audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes give it an equally stellar 94% rating as the first film. It would win The Best Dramatic Presentation Hugo at L.A. con II beating Right Stuff and WarGames. Box office wise, it sold more tickets for most of its first eight week American run than any other film.  

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]

  • Born May 25, 1915 – DeeDee Lavender.  Four decades an active fan with her husband Roy.  Together they were Secretary-Treasurer of the Nat’l Fantasy Fan Fed’n in 1950.  They were at Aussiecon I the 33rd World Science Fiction Convention (I wasn’t), and Noreascon II the 38th (I was).  They’re in Harlan Ellison’s forewords to his collections I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream and Angry Candy; they knew Leigh Brackett & Edmond Hamilton, and were guests at the B&H homes in Ohio and California.  They were part of a Southern California fannish social group called the Petards, named by one of Rick Sneary’s famous misspellings, hoist for host.  Here she is with Roy at a Petards meeting in 1983 (Dik Daniels photo), and thirty years earlier in New York (L to R, Bea Mahaffey, Hannes Bok, DeeDee, Roy, Stan Skirvin; Mike Resnick collection).  (Died 1986) [JH]
  • Born May 25, 1916 – Charles Hornig.  Publishing his fanzine The Fantasy Fan in 1933, thus First Fandom (i.e. active by at least the first Worldcon, 1939), and hired, age 17, by Hugo Gernsback to edit Wonder Stories.  Founded the Science Fiction League with HG, 1934; later edited Fantasy; also Future and Science Fiction (they eventually combined); SF Quarterly.  See his notes on Nycon I, the first Worldcon, here.  (Died 1999) [JH]
  • Born May 25, 1926 – Phyllis Gotlieb.  Prix Aurora for A Judgement of Dragons (note spelling; she was Canadian).  The Sunburst Award is named for her first novel.  Thirteen SF novels, twenty shorter stories, eight poetry collections (the first being Who Knows One?).  Translated into Dutch, French, German, Italian.  Among her husband’s Physics students was Cory Doctorow’s father.  (Died 2009) [JH]
  • Born May 25, 1946 Frank Oz, 74. Actor, director including The Dark Crystal, Little Shop of Horrors and the second version of The Stepford Wives, producer and puppeteer. His career began as a puppeteer, where he performed the Muppet characters of Animal, Fozzie Bear, Miss Piggy, and oh so patriotic Sam Eagle in The Muppet Show, and Cookie Monster, Bert, and Grover in Sesame Street. Genre wise, he’s also known for the role of Yoda in the Star Wars franchise. An interesting Trivia note: he’s in the Blues Brothers as a Corrections Officer, and is the Warden in Blues Brothers 2000. (CE)
  • Born May 25, 1946 Janet Morris, 74. Hey I get to mention Thieves’ World! Yea! In that universe, she created the Sacred Band of Stepsons, a mythical unit of ancient fighters modeled on the Sacred Band of Thebes. She has three series, both listed as SF though I’d call one of them fantasy,  the Silistra quartet, the Kerrion Space trilogy and the Threshold series. And let’s not over overlook her Heroes in Hell series she wrote,most co-authorEd with her husband Chris Morris, some with C J Cherryh and David Drake. (CE)
  • Born May 25, 1950 – Kathryn Daugherty.  Engineer.  Married four decades to James Stanley Daugherty.  Back when FORTRAN wasn’t even Two-tran she fed punch-cards to a Control Data CDC 6400.  For ConFrancisco the 51st Worldcon, Official Editor of the con committee’s APA (Amateur Press Ass’n, a collection of fanzines) The Never-Ending Meeting.  At Bucconeer the 56th Worldcon, headed Contents of Tables; a typo made it “Contests of Tables”: in each newsletter I announced “Today’s winner is the Picnic”, “Today’s winner is the Periodic”.  Chaired Westercon LIII, a hard one: it was at Honolulu, see my report here [PDF; p. 11].  Luckily not exhausted; she and JSD were Fan Guests of Honor at Baycon in 2001, and Loscon XXXI (2004).  Joined me in liking Mission of Gravity.  Obituary by OGH here.  (Died 2012) [JH]
  • Born May 25, 1952 Al Sarrantonio, 68. His horror short stories are brilliant and they‘ve earned him a Stoker for 999: New Tales of Horror and Suspense and a Jackson for Stories: All-New Tales, the latter co-edited with Gaiman. His Masters of Mars series is SF and he’s written a Babylon 5 novel as well, Personal Agendas. (CE)
  • Born May 25, 1953 – Stan Sakai.  Lettered Groo the Wanderer comics; since 1984, author of Usagi Yojimbo comics about samurai rabbit Miyamoto Usagi, who has (wouldn’t you know it) crossed paths with the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.  The rônin lifeis hard.  During the most recent Year of the Rabbit (2011), the Japanese-American Nat’l Museum in Los Angeles had an Usagi Yojimbo exhibit.  Sakai has won a Parents’ Choice award, an Inkpot, six Eisners, an Inkwell, two Harveys, two Haxturs (Spain), a Plumilla de Plata (Mexico), a Cultural Ambassador award, and a Nat’l Cartoonists Society award.  [JH]
  • Born May 25, 1960 Eric Brown, 60. Well-deserved winner of two BSFA awards for his short stories, “Hunting the Slarqye” and “The Children of The Winter”.  He’s very prolific, averaging a novel a year over the past three decades and countless novellas and short stories. As far as SF goes, I’d start with his Binary System and Bengal Station series, both of which are superb. And I’m going to single out his Sherlock Holmes metaverse novel, The Martian Menace, in which The Great Detective meets and defeats those Invaders. (CE)
  • Born May 25, 1966 Vera Nazarian, 54. To date, she has written ten novels including Dreams of the Compass Rose, what I’d called a mosaic novel structured as a series of interlinked stories similar in to The One Thousand and One Nights that reminds a bit of Valente’s The Orphans Tales. She’s the publisher of Norilana Books which publishes such works as Catherynne M. Valente’s Guide to Folktales in Fragile Dialects, Marion Zimmer Bradley’s Sword and Sorceress anthologies,and Tanith Lee’s Lee’s Sounds and Furies. (CE)
  • Born May 25, 1982 – Bertrand Bonnet.  Six dozen reviews in Bifrost (French-language prozine; European SF Society award for Best Magazine, 2016), of Blish, Le Guin, Pohl (with and without Kornbluth), Resnick, Tolkien (including the Letters, yay).  [JH] 

(10) COMICS SECTION.

  • Non Sequitur’s birds learn about their ancestors.
  • Non Sequitur sells foresight.
  • Non Sequitur has an SJWC intervention.
  • Mikey Heller drew a comic about a cat café. It’s got sjw credentials, sf, everything!

(11) LID OVERFLOW. In The Full Lid 22nd May 2020 Alasdair Stuart takes a look “at how now is very much the time for Strange New Worlds and what the Short Treks set on Pike’s Enterprise can teach us about the show’s tone.”

I also take a look at excellent, furious and overlooked movie Assassination Nation and Bog Bodies, a superb crime graphic novel out this week. Signal Boost is big this week but the YA/MG Author spotlight that follows it is much bigger and full of amazing books.

This week Stuart also launched The Full Lid Plus! A monthly supplement covering Disney Plus.

It’s first issue covers what we learn in the first for episodes of The Mandalorian and looks at award winning free-climbing documentary Free Solo. Oh and Will Smith sings.

The Full Lid Plus is published monthly and run off a paid subscription model, Details at the link.

Stuart’s Hugo Voting Packet for 2020 is also available at his website. “It touches on all my non-fiction work, has links to every piece and a consolidated PDF of everything too.”

(12) NO GO. It barely got out of California:“Virgin Orbit rocket fails on debut flight”

Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Orbit company has tried unsuccessfully to launch a rocket over the Pacific Ocean.

The booster was released from under the wing of one of the UK entrepreneur’s old jumbos which had been specially converted for the task.

The rocket should have ignited its engine seconds later but engineers had to terminate the flight.

Virgin Orbit’s goal is to try to capture a share of the emerging market for the launch of small satellites.

It’s not clear at this stage what went wrong but the firm had warned beforehand that the chances of success might be in the region of 50:50.

The history of rocketry shows that maiden outings very often encounter technical problems.

The firm is sure to be back for another attempt pretty soon – depending on the outcome of the post-mission analysis.

(13) FLOCKING OFF. [Item by John A Arkansawyer.] I just noticed this monologue from the May 18th Late Night with Seth Meyers. There was no genre-related sketch that night. However!

When Seth Meyers first started broadcasting from home, he apparently (to my eyes, at least) ordered several feet of cheap respectable-looking trade paper and hardcover books from a local used book store. One that caught my eye was Shardik, which has a lot of whitespace on the spine and that weird symbol. The two copies of a book about Thessalonica were the big tip-off to me these were surplus and not garage detritus.

And then there was The Thorn Birds. No one seemed to believe Seth Meyers was a Thorn Birds fan.

Soon Meyers moved out of his garage and into his attic, where he has a plain backdrop…and an end table with a small stack of books. I’ve seen two dust-jacketed books claiming to be The Thorn Birds and one unjacketed copy between them. The Janelle Monae clip has a stack of Thorn Birds, Thorn Birds II: More Thorns, and Thorn Birds III: Something written in script too fine for me to read.

But the best one yet you can see in this clip, in the lower left-hand corner:

(14) JUST WHEN THE PREZ LEARNED HOW TO PRONOUNCE IT. BBC reports “WHO halts trials of hydroxychloroquine over safety fears”.

Testing of the malaria drug hydroxychloroquine as a possible treatment for coronavirus has been halted because of safety fears, the World Health Organization (WHO) says.

Trials in several countries are being “temporarily” suspended as a precaution, the agency said on Monday.

It comes after a recent medical study suggested the drug could increase the risk of patients dying from Covid-19.

(15) DON’T KNOW HOW GOOD YOU’VE GOT IT. And we close with this benediction from The Onion: “Nation’s Politicians, Law Enforcement, Corporate Executives Marvel At Futuristic Utopia They’re Living In”.

“To think that I have all this at my fingertips, whether it’s automated high-volume stock trading or unlimited surveillance footage of my employees, it’s like something out of a science fiction paradise,” said pharmaceutical executive Ron Pollard, who claimed previous generations of police officers, elected officials, and business leaders could never comprehend the world of unlimited possibilities that has been created for them, where they are free to do whatever they want all the time.

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

Pixel Scroll 4/22/20 Then Curl Up On The Pile And Sleep For A While, It’s The Scrolliest Thing, It’s The Pixel Dream

(1) DRAGON CON STILL ON SCHEDULE. Dragon Con told Facebook readers today they are proceeding with plans for their Labor Day event.

Many things in the world are uncertain right now. One thing isn’t: We are planning to throw one sorely-needed, amazing celebration come Labor Day. We’re moving forward to keep #DragonCon2020 on schedule.

Currently, there are no plans to reschedule or cancel the event, however we’re keeping in touch with the experts either way, and working with our venue partners to make sure everything and everyone stays safe, happy, and healthy.

Rest assured if at any time we feel that cannot be accomplished, we will do what is needed to protect our community.

(2) POPPING OFF. Gideon Marcus used a clever theme to pull together Galactic Journey’s review of the latest issue – in 1965 – of F&SF: “[APRIL 22, 1965] CRACKER JACK ISSUE (MAY 1965 FANTASY AND SCIENCE FICTION)”.

I’m sure everyone’s familiar with America’s snack, as ubiquitous at ball games as beer and hotdogs.  As caramel corn goes, it’s pretty mediocre stuff, though once you start eating, you find you can’t stop.  And the real incentive is the prize waiting for you at the bottom of the box.  Will it be a ring?  A toy or a little game?  Maybe a baseball card.

This month, like most months recently, The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction is kind of like a box of Cracker Jacks.  But the prize at the end of the May 1965 issue is worth the chore of getting there.

(3) PATREON’S UNLUCKY NUMBER. “Patreon lays off 13% of workforce” reports TechCrunch.

Creative platform Patreon  has laid off 30 employees, which is 13% of its workforce, TechCrunch has learned.

“It is unclear how long this economic uncertainty will last and therefore, to prepare accordingly, we have made the difficult decision to part ways with 13% of Patreon’s workforce,” a Patreon spokesperson said in a statement to TechCrunch. “This decision was not made lightly and consisted of several other factors beyond the financial ones.”

…The startup ecosystem has been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic, with layoffs no longer the exception, but the rule. Still, it’s peculiar timing for Patreon, given the company touted an increase in new memberships during the first three weeks of March….

(4) VISITOR FROM BEYOND. [Item by Daniel Dern.] Jeff Hecht (who’s sold sf stories everywhere from Analog, Asimov’s and Interzone to Nature and various anthologies — ) has an article in the April 21, 2020 Sky & Telescope on recent interstellar visitors: “The Origins of Interstellar Objects”.

…Comet Borisov was easy to recognize as a comet, but our first interstellar visitor, 1I/’Oumuamua, was like nothing astronomers had seen before. It was elongated, tumbling erratically, porous, moving oddly, releasing only wisps of gas — even evoking thoughts of derelict alien spaceship….

In terms of SF relevance (beyond “we also are interested in science fact stuff”), Jeff notes, regarding this article, “The only SF twist was saying they finally found a way to explain the origin of ‘Oumuamua other than as an alien spacecraft.”

(5) MOORCOCK REVEALED WHEN PAYWALL FALLS. Stacy Hollister’s “A Q&A With Michael Moorcock” is an interview with Michael Moorcock about his novel King Of The City that first appeared in the November 2002 Texas Monthly, which has lowered its paywall for the rest of the year.

texasmonthly.com: What’s your mission as a writer?

MM: I’m very moralistic. I think I bear a certain responsibility for the effect of the fiction I write. Anger at injustice, cruelty, or ignorance is what tends to fire me up. I try to show readers where we might all be wearing cultural blinders. I hate imperialism, so therefore much of my early work was an attempt to show admirers of the British Empire, say, what kind of injustice, prejudice and hypocrisy such an empire is based on. I am very uneasy with current Anglophone rhetoric about responsibilities to other parts of the world, for instance. King of the City deals with some of this, especially the destruction of African society by imperial rapacity.

(6) SMALL SHOW RECAP – BEWARE SPOILERS. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] Last night on DC’s Legends of Tomorrow, the time ship ended up in British Columbia in 2020 and ended up in a woods which ultimately led them to the set of Supernatural.  They didn’t see any members of the cast, but they did see Sam and Dean’s car and opened the trunk, which was full of monster-fighting equipment.  They then used the equipment to fight a bunch of zombie-like creatures, and learn the creatures have killed the crew shooting Supernatural.

“How will they finish season 15?” one of the legends asks.

Well, now we know why Supernatural still has seven episodes left to shoot…

(7) ENTERTAINMENT FOR SJW CREDENTIAL OWNERS. Martin Morse Wooster, our designated Financial Times reader, peeked behind the paywall and found that in the April 17 issue Sarah Hemming reviews fiction podcasts.

Nadia, star of Russian For Cats (created by Pam Cameron), has escaped from prison and is desperately seeking refuge.  She discovers it with Brian, a loser who lives in a caravan in a state of great disorder and despondency.  When Nadia arrives, he finds a confidante and she finds sanctuary.

The only thing is, Nadia is a cat:  a talking cat fluent in Russian.  Here’s a story ideally suited to lockdown :a gently absurd thriller, featuring a chatty feline, the chance to learn Russian (a short lesson follows each episode), and a sinister explanation for popularity of cat memes.  Is your cat spying on you?  Do you need to ask?

(8) MT. TSUNDOKU CALLS YOU. Steven Cooper today made the Asimov biblioraphy that was referenced in the Scroll a few days ago available to purchase as a print-on-demand book from Lulu — An Annotated Bibliography for Isaac Asimov. Thanks to Bill for the discovery.

(9) CASEY OBIT. Past President of the Philadelphia SF Society Hugh Casey died April 21 after a long illness, including a stroke. He is survived by his partner Stephanie Lucas.

In happier times Hugh made File 770 with this humorous incident from 2002:

Philadelphia SF Club President Hugh Casey almost made his show business debut in September. “I was supposed to be checking out an alternate location for meetings, but was unable to make it due to being held up in traffic. In fact I ended up driving into the middle of filming for Kevin Smith’s upcoming movie Jersey Girl – apparently disrupting a shot and getting some crew members very angry at me. I did not see either the director or the stars.”

In 2017, when Casey battled cancer, his friends rallied to raise money for his medical expenses by creating “HughCon”

…The Rotunda has donated their space, Star Trek-themed band The Roddenberries have donated their time and talent, a number of makers and vendors have donated items for our silent auction, and a lots of people have donated their time and effort 

(10) TODAY IN HISTORY.

  • April 22, 1953 Invaders from Mars premiered. It directed by William Cameron Menzies and produced by Edward L. Alperson Jr. from the script written by Richard Blake with the story by John Tucker Battle.  It starred Jimmy Hunt, Helena Carter, Arthur Franz, Morris Ankrum, Leif Erickson, and Hillary Brooke. Invaders from Mars was nominated for a Retro-Hugo at Noreascon 4 but lost out to The War of The Worlds. Critics at the time liked it quite a bit, and At Rotten Tomatoes, it holds an approval rating of 82% among audience reviewers. You can watch it here.
  • April 22, 1959 The Monster Of Piedras Blancas enjoyed its premiere. It was produced by Jack Kevan who started out as a makeup artist on The Wizard of Oz as written and directed by Irvin Berwick who was associate produced later on for The Loch Ness Horror. The screenplay was by H. Haile Chace It starred Jeanne Carmen, Les Tremayne, John Harmon, Don Sullivan, Forrest Lewis, and Pete Dunn. It received universally negative criticism with most calling it amateurish with the script, dialogue, and monster design being noted s being bad. It holds a not terribly bad 33% rating among audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes. You’re in for for a special treat as you can see it here.

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born April 22, 1902 Philip Latham. Name used by Robert Shirley Richardson on his genre work. His novels were largely first published in Astounding starting in the Forties, With the exception of his children’s SF novels that were published in Space Science Fiction Magazine. He also wrote a few scripts for Captain Video, the predecessor of Captain Video and his Video Rangers. His Comeback novel starts this way: ‘ When Parkhurst heard the announcement that climaxed the science fiction convention, he found that he’d been right, years ago when he had faith in science-fictionists’ dreams. But, in another way, he’d been wrong . . .’ It’s available at the usual digital suspects for a buck. (Died 1981.)
  • Born April 22, 1934 Sheldon Jaffery. An editor and bibliographer of pulps whose non-fiction Work and genre anthologies are both fascinating. Among the latter are such publications as Sensuous Science Fiction From the Weird and Spicy Pulps and The Weirds: A Facsimile Selection of Fiction From the Era of the Shudder Pulps, and from the former are Future and Fantastic Worlds: Bibliography of DAW BooksThe Arkham House Companion: Fifty Years of Arkham House and Collector’s Index to Weird Tales. (Died 2003.)
  • Born April 22, 1937 Jack Nicholson, 82. I think my favorite role for him in a genre film was as Daryl Van Horne in The Witches of Eastwick. Other genre roles include Jack Torrance in The Shining, Wilbur Force in The Little Shop of Horrors, Rexford Bedlo in The Raven, Andre Duvalier in The Terror, (previous three films are all Roger Corman productions), Will Randall in Wolf, President James Dale / Art Land in Mars Attacks! and Jack Napier aka The Joker in Tim  Burton’s The Batman. I watched the last one, was not impressed.
  • Born April 22, 1944 Damien Broderick, 76. Australian writer of over seventy genre novels. It is said that The Judas Mandala novel contains the first appearance of the term “virtual reality” in SF. He’s won five Ditmar Awards, a remarkable achievement. I know I’ve read several novels by him including Godplayers and K-Machines which are quite good.
  • Born April 22, 1967 Sheryl Lee, 53. Best remembered as being cast by David Lynch as Laura Palmer and Maddy Ferguson in Twin Peaks and in Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me, and reprised in the later Twin Peaks. Her other interesting genre role was playing the title role in Guinevere based on Persia Woolley’s Guinevere trilogy. Finally, she was Katrina in John Carpenter’s Vampires for which she won the very cool sounding Fangoria Chainsaw Award for Best Supporting Actress.
  • Born April 22, 1977 Kate Baker, 43. Editor along with with Neil Clarke and Sean Wallace of the last two print issues Clarkesworld. She’s won the Hugo Award for Best Semiprozine twice, and the World Fantasy Award (Special Award: Non Professional) in 2014, all alongside the editorial staff of Clarkesworld. She’s a writer of three short genre stories, the latest of which, “No Matter Where; Of Comfort No One Speak”, you can hear here. (Warning for subject matters abuse and suicide.)
  • Born April 22, 1978 Manu Intiraymi, 42. He played the former Borg Icheb on the television series Star Trek: Voyager. A role that he played a remarkable eleven times. And this Birthday research led me to discovering yet another video Trek fanfic, this time in guise of Star Trek: Renegades in which he reprised his role. Any Trekkies here watch this? 
  • Born April 22, 1984 Michelle Ryan, 36. She had the odd honor of being a Companion to the Tenth Doctor as Lady Christina de Souza for just one story, “Planet of the Dead”. She had a somewhat longer genre run as the rebooted Bionic Woman that lasted eight episodes, and early in her career, she appeared as the sorceress Nimueh in BBC’s Merlin. Finally I’ll note she played Helena from A Midsummer Night’s Dream in BBC’s Learning project, Off By Heart Shakespeare.

(12) COMICS SECTION.

(13) BREAKTHROUGH. In the Washington Post, Michael Cavna profiles Steenz (pseudonym of Christina Stewart) and Bianca Xunise as two African-American comic strip creators who have broken into the world of newspaper comic strips, as Steenz has taken over Heart of the City and Xunise has joined the artists producing Six Chix. “Newspaper comics hardly ever feature black women as artists. But two new voices have arrived.”

“The ‘powers that be’ — white male editors at white publications — have kept folks of color to a minimum on their pages so as not to cause a stir. That’s the case still,” says Barbara Brandon-Croft, whose trailblazing strip “Where I’m Coming From” was distributed by Universal Press Syndicate from 1991 to 2005 — making her the first black woman to achieve national mainstream syndication as a cartoonist.

“You had to go to the black newspapers — as early as the ’30s — to find black characters drawn by black hands,” she says. ”And a black woman lead — what? Jackie Ormes’s ‘Torchy Brown’ was truly groundbreaking.” (Ormes, the first African American woman to have a syndicated comic strip, was elected to the Will Eisner Comics Hall of Fame in 2018.)

(14) KEEP THEM DOGIES MOVIN’. There’s money to be made! “‘The Mandalorian’ Season 3 Already in the Works at Disney Plus”.

The October premiere date for Season 2 of “The Mandalorian” may still feel like it’s far, far away, but pre-production has already begun on a third installment of the wildly popular Disney Plus series, Variety has learned exclusively.

Sources close to the production have confirmed that creator Jon Favreau has been “writing season 3 for a while,” and that the art department, led by Lucasfilm vice president and executive creative director Doug Chiang, has been creating concepts for Season 3 “for the past few weeks.”

…The Mouse House also has two others series from a Galaxy far, far away in the works, namely an Obi-Wan Kenobi series with Ewan McGregor reprising the iconic role, and a Cassian Andor series starring Diego Luna, which recently added Stellan Skarsgard and Kyle Soller, as Variety reported exclusively.

(15) RELIEF FOR COMICS STORES. “Comic Book Publishers Unite for Fund to Help Stores”The Hollywood Reporter runs the numbers.

As the comic book industry seeks to rebuild in the wake of store closures and publication pauses caused by the coronavirus outbreak, the Book Industry Charitable Foundation (BINC) is announcing the formation of a new fund specifically aimed at assisting comics, the Comicbook United Fund.

Combining the $100,000 pledged last year to BINC from the Oni-Lion Forge Publishing Group to support comic book retailers with the $250,000 pledged earlier this month by DC, the Comicbook United Fund is intended to be the central location for any and all figures and organizations hoping to raise money for comic book retailers.

(16) EMERGENCY. The roleplaying game designer Guy McLimore (FASA’s Star Trek: The Roleplaying Game, Mekton Empire, The Fantasy Trip) says he had to break social distancing for an exceptionally good reason:

(17) STEWARDS OF THE FUTURE. Wil Wheaton penned a visionary essay to accompany his voicing of a C.L. Moore audio story — “Radio Free Burrito Presents: The Tree of Life by CL Moore”.

…I’m sure, in her incredible, gifted, magnificent imagination, she never even considered for a second that, almost 100 years into her future, someone whose parents weren’t yet born would take her work, bring it to life in a unique way, and then distribute that new work to anyone who wants it, in the world, without even getting out of my desk chair.

What amazing thing is sitting just over our horizon? What amazing thing is waiting for our grandchildren that we can’t even imagine right now? Why aren’t we doing more to protect our planet and each other, so our grandchildren don’t have to live in some apocalyptic nightmare?

(18) RELIC. “Hawking’s family donate ventilator to hospital”.

Stephen Hawking’s personal ventilator has been donated to the hospital where he was often treated to help patients diagnosed with coronavirus.

The physicist, who had motor neurone disease, died in 2018, aged 76.

His family donated the medical equipment he bought himself to the Royal Papworth Hospital in Cambridge.

Prof Hawking’s daughter Lucy said the hospital was “incredibly important” to her father and Dr Mike Davies said staff were “so grateful” to the family.

(19) SPEAKING IN PARSELTONGUES. “Scientists discover a new snake and name it after Salazar Slytherin”CNN has the story.

A team of researchers from India, upon discovering a new species of green pit vipers, have decided to name the snake after the one, the only Salazar Slytherin. Their findings were published this month in the journal Zoosystematics and Evolution.

For those not familiar with Harry Potter, a quick history lesson. In a nutshell, Salazar Slytherin was one of the founders of the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, along with his pals Godric Gryffindor, Rowena Ravenclaw and Helga Hufflepuff.

Along with being some of the most powerful witches and wizards of their time in the Harry Potter world, they’re also the namesakes of the four Hogwarts houses.

Slytherin, partly known for his ability to talk to snakes, is linked to the animals — the snake is, after all, the symbol of the Slytherin Hogwarts house. That’s why the researchers chose the name Trimeresurus salazar.

 (20) NEIGHBORHOOD WATCH. NBC’s Dallas/Ft. Worth affiliate sent a crew to capture this scene: “Stormtrooper Patrols Richardson Neighborhood With Coronavirus-Related Messages”.

A Richardson man who has had a lifelong love of “Star Wars” and particularly stormtroopers, took to the streets to bring a smile and an important message to his neighbors.

Rob Johnson dressed up as a stormtrooper and patrolled the sidewalks near his home carrying signs reminding people “Good guys wear masks” and “move alone, move alone.”

The stormtrooper shows a sense of humor too, with one sign reading, “Have you seen my droid, TP4U?”

(21) TV TIME. Edgar Wright’s doing a thing on Twitter:

Not specifically genre related but it looks fun. Here’s some relevant replies:

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

Pixel Scroll 4/21/20 If A Pixel Walks In Dressed Like A Click And Acting As If He Owns The File, He’s A Scrollman

(1) TWO EVENTS SHUFFLED IN RESPONSE TO PANDEMIC. KU’s Gunn Center has announced these changes:

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we will likely move our Science Fiction Summer program to online offerings for 2020.

We are also moving this year’s Gunn Center Conference and Awards to the University of Nebraska in Lincoln, NE, October 1 -3.

Stay tuned.

(2) BEYOND THE FINAL FRONTIER. Legends of Tomorrow’s Wild New Trailer Promises a Star Trek Parody for the Ages”. The trailer for the remainder of the season shows the Legends (superheroes etc. in a time-travel spaceship trying to fix time problems) taking on Star Trek and more. Io9 has a breakdown.

(3) TRAVEL BROCHURE. In “Worlds Enough and Tim”, Camestros Felapton and Timothy the Talking Cat plot a way to get out of their apartment without the inconvenience of contracting the plague.

…[Timothy] …shut that pie hole for a moment, please! This isn’t a regular cruise! It’s not a cruise on the sea! It is a cruise ship of THE IMAGINATION!
[Camestros] Gasp! Tell me more…

Timothy clicked the settings menu on his Zoom app and switched from ‘dialogue mode’ to ‘conventional narrative form’ and with that the whole story shifted style. With another deft flick of his paws he activated ‘share screen’ and a bright colourful image filled the screen. In a friendly font it announced “Mythopoeic Cruises: Travel the worlds in style”.

“Oooh! A fancy brochure!” said Camestros, who was warming to the idea of ditching this timeline altogether….

(4) VACUUM BREATHERS. How does James Davis Nicoll come up with all these listicle ideas? “Five Stories Featuring Vast Beings From the Darkest Depths of Space” at Tor.com.

Space, even the deep space between the stars, is not entirely empty. As far as we can tell at present, the matter scattered through interstellar space is lifeless. But…appearances can be deceiving. Even if they are not, there’s enough story in the idea of vast beings living in the interstellar depths to attract SF writers. Here are five books that took the idea and ran with it…

(5) SOURCE MATERIAL. “Motherhood And Monsters: How Being A Parent Helps Me Write Thrillers” — Jennifer Hillier explains the connection at CrimeReads.

 … I haven’t had a good night’s sleep since I gave birth to my son, Mox. Actually, if I’m keeping it real, I haven’t slept well since I was pregnant. Nightmares have always been a normal occurrence for me, but during my pregnancy they were more vivid than usual, more visceral, more terrifying. I can only guess it was the hormones, acting as an anabolic steroid for my already overactive imagination. Mox is five and a half now, which means I haven’t slept well in six years.

Exhaustion notwithstanding, my nightmares do provide plenty of fuel for writing, since my thrillers are inspired by the things that scare me the most. For a long time, it was serial killers (and still is). I’m also afraid of dark basements, old cellars, lurking shadows, fog, dimly lit parking lots, the backseat of my car if I’m driving at night, and anytime the doorbell rings.

(6) NASA QA TESTING. [Item by Daniel Dern.] From my $DAYJOB (for loosish definitions, as I’m a self-employed/freelance writer), another fun-to-research-and-write article about NASA (I’ve recently written about NASA and 3D printing, and recycling-in-space.) “How NASA does software testing and QA”.

Every quality tester worries about the cost of missing defects. But imagine the scenario when lives are at stake, and when embedded flaws can be expensive or impossible to fix. That’s what it’s like for QA testing at NASA – and it applies to equipment such as rocket engines, fuel mixes, satellites, space habitats, as well as to ordinary computer software and hardware.

What makes NASA’s testing requirements unique? Here’s a take-off point – and how the U.S. space agency’s methods can help not-for-space testers and QA practitioners….

The SFnal sub-heads were at my editor’s suggestion. (An sf story ref or two didn’t make it in.)

Enjoy!

(7) TABLEAUS. [Item by JJ.] Getty Museum challenged people who are staying at home to recreate famous works of art. Not genre, but absolutely hilarious. Click on this link to see a long string of them. The creativity is amazing!

  • Klimt’s Woman in Biscuits:
  • Vermeer’s Girl With a Purrl Earring

(8) FLIGHTS OF FOUNDRY. Dream Foundry plans to hold Flights of Foundry, a virtual convention for speculative creators and their fans, on May 16-17. Registration is open – and free, although donations are requested. The guests of honor will be:

  • Comics: Suzanne Walker and Wendy Xu
  • Editor: Liz Gorinsky
  • Fiction: Ken Liu
  • Games: Andrea Phillips
  • Illustration: Grace Fong
  • Translation: Alex Shvartsman and Rachel S. Cordasco

In addition to panels and information sessions, programming will include workshops, a dealer’s room, a virtual consuite (I expect people will be appertaining their own drinks), and more.

There is no cost to register, though donations to defray costs and support Dream Foundry’s other programming are welcomed.  Dream Foundry is a registered 501(c)3 dedicated to supporting creators working in the speculative arts as they begin their careers.

Register here.

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born April 21, 1911 John Lymington. Between the late Fifties and the mid-Eighties, he wrote twenty-six genre novels, an astonishing number. All of his short fiction was done in 1964 and published in his Night Spiders collection. He’s not made it into the digital realm and I’ll admit that I’ve not heard of him, so I’m hoping the brain trust here can tell me about him.(Died 1983.)
  • Born April 21, 1933 Jim Harmon. During the Fifties and Sixties, he wrote more than fifty short stories and novelettes for Amazing StoriesFuture Science Fiction, Galaxy Science FictionIfThe Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction and other magazines. Most of his fiction was collected in Harmon’s Galaxy. EoSF says he has one genre novel, The Contested Earth, whereas ISFDB lists two more, Sex Burns Like Fire and The Man Who Made Maniacs. He’s a member of First Fandom Hall of Fame. (Died 2010.)
  • Born April 21, 1939 John Bangsund, 81. Australian fan most active from the Sixties through the Eighties. He was instrumental with Andrew Porter in Australia’s winning the 1975 Aussiecon bid, and he was Toastmaster at the Hugo Award ceremony at that con. His fanzine, Australian Science Fiction Review is credited with reviving Australian Fandom in the Sixties. And he’s the instigator of the term Muphry’s law which states that “If you write anything criticizing editing or proofreading, there will be a fault of some kind in what you have written.”
  • Born April 21, 1954 James Morrison, 66. Lt. Col. Tyrus Cassius ‘T.C.’ McQueen on the short-lived but much loved Space: Above and Beyond series. Starship Troopers without the politics. He’s got a lot of one-off genre appearances including recently showing up as an Air Force General in Captain Marvel, guesting on the Orville series and being Warden Dwight Murphy on Twin Peaks. 
  • Born April 21, 1965 Fiona Kelleghan, 55. Though an academic to the bone, she has two genre stories “The Secret in the Chest: With Tests, Maps, Mysteries, & Intermittent Discussion Questions” and “The Secret in the Chest”. Of her academic works, I find most fascinating Mike Resnick: An Annotated Bibliography and Guide to His Work and her forthcoming Alfred Bester, Grand Master: An Annotated Bibliography
  • Born April 21, 1971 Michael Turner. Comics artist known for his work on a Tombraider / Witchblade one-off, the Superman/Batman story involving Supergirl, his own Soulfire, and various covers for DC Comics and Marvel Comics. He would die of bone cancer and A Tribute to Michael Turner with writings from people who knew him would feature a cover done by Alex Ross would be released to cover his medical expenses. (Died 2008.)
  • Born April 21, 1979 James McAvoy, 41. In the Frank Herbert’s Children of Dune series, he was Duke Leto II Atreides. Later roles included Mr. Tumnus in The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, Professor Charles Xavier in X-Men film franchise, Victor Frankensteinin Victor Frankenstein and Bill Denbrough in It – Chapter Two
  • Born April 21, 1980 Hadley Fraser, 40. His first video acting role was as Gareth in the superb Tenth Doctor story, “Army of Ghosts”. He’d later be Chris in The Lost Tribe, a horror film, and play Viscount Raoul de Chagny in The Phantom of The Opera, as well as being being Tarzan’s father in The Legend of Tarzan. And though not even genre adjacent, I’m legally obligated to point out that he showed up as a British military escort in the recent production of Murder on the Orient Express.

(10) COMICS SECTION.

(11) FINAL FRONTIERSMAN. The piece by Glen Swanson for The Space Review is about how Gene Roddenberry worked with NASA during the creation of Star Trek: “’Space, the final frontier’: Star Trek and the national space rhetoric of Eisenhower, Kennedy, and NASA”.

… In the October 1956 premiere issue of Missile and Rockets, the publisher wrote, “This is the age of astronautics. This is the beginning of the unfolding of the era of space flight. This is to be the most revealing and the most fascinating age since man first inhabited the earth.”[2]

In the midst of the Cold War, space started to become a real place in popular culture as both fiction and fact began riding on the back of a galloping technology and could not dismount for fear of breaking their necks. Together, they were on a convergent course, and the lines separating fact from fiction became more blurred. Nonfiction books that romanticized humanity’s future in the new frontier of space started to borrow the look and feel of many of the popular pulps.

This essay attempts to explore the origins of some of the national space rhetoric that appeared during the Cold War, the way its use in political documents, congressional reports and campaigns tells us something about the self-image of Americans in the early to mid 1960s, and how this rhetoric may have influenced Gene Roddenberry during the creation of his pioneering and highly influential television series Star Trek….

(12) QUESTION REALITY. Camilla Bruce recommends uncanny fiction in “Eight Novels To Make You Question Reality” at CrimeReads. Some books on her list are creepy, others are surreal. One of them is –

Experimental Film by Gemma Files

This novel is about Lois Cairns, a film critic in Toronto who stumbles upon the work of what she believes to be Canada’s first female filmmaker. The latter, Mrs. Whitcomb, mysteriously disappeared in 1918, leaving behind canisters of film containing scenes from the Wendish legend of Lady Midday, a deity who shines so bright that you cannot look upon her face, and who sports a pair of shears sharp enough to cut off heads. The beauty of this novel is how it combines the mundane details of Lois’ life (she has a son with autism) with the more mysterious elements. Like several of the novels on this list, it flitters on the border between psychological thriller and horror, which is my favorite kind of read. 

(13) ZOOM FURNITURE. Nerdbot volunteers “Official Star Wars Backgrounds You Can Use For Your Next Meeting”. There’s a partial gallery at the link. You can check out all the backgrounds to download by clicking here. One example —

(14) ONE MORE STEP. “Facebook bans events that violate social distancing orders”.

Facebook has banned event listings that violate government social distancing policies.

On Monday, the social media giant removed the listing for anti-quarantine protests in California, New Jersey, and Nebraska.

The discussion sparked outrage from some including the son of President Donald Trump who claimed the company’s move violated free speech.

Protests have been planned for across the US calling for the lifting of stay-at-home orders.

Facebook said it consulted with local governments and would only take down events that violated states’ guidelines.

“Unless government prohibits the event during this time, we allow it to be organized on Facebook. For this same reason, events that defy government’s guidance on social distancing aren’t allowed on Facebook,” a spokesperson said.

(15) COMING TO A THEATER NEAR YOU, EVENTUALLY. Yahoo! Entertainment reports “‘Hunger Games’ Director Francis Lawrence Returns for Prequel ‘Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes’”.

The movie adaptation of the upcoming “The Hunger Games” prequel book “The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes” from author Suzanne Collins is a go at Lionsgate, and the creative team from the original films, including director Francis Lawrence, is all returning for the new film, Lionsgate motion picture group chairman Joe Drake announced Tuesday.

Lawrence, who directed “Catching Fire” and both “Mockingjay” films, will direct “The Hunger Games” prequel. Collins will write a treatment based on her upcoming novel, Color Force’s Nina Jacobson is returning to the franchise to produce, and Michael Arndt, who wrote “Catching Fire,” will pen the screenplay.

“The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes” takes place 64 years before the original trilogy, during the 10th annual Hunger Games, and will focus on Coriolanus Snow (played by Donald Sutherland in the original franchise) at age 18, years before he would become the tyrannical president of Panem.

(16) A NUMBER ONE NEW RELEASE. Yes, I’d say we’re all surprised to learn Amazon has a category for this —

(17) BARN DOOR. “WHO developing guidance on wet markets” – BBC has the story.

The World Health Organization (WHO) is calling for stricter safety and hygiene standards when wet markets reopen.

And it says governments must rigorously enforce bans on the sale and trade of wildlife for food.

The start of the pandemic was linked to a market in Wuhan, where wildlife was on sale.

Wet markets are common in Asia, Africa and elsewhere, selling fresh fruit and vegetables, poultry, fresh meat, live animals and sometimes wildlife.

The WHO is working with UN bodies to develop guidance on the safe operation of wet markets, which it says are an important source of affordable food and a livelihood for millions of people all over the world.

But in many places, they have been poorly regulated and poorly maintained, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director general of the WHO, said in a briefing on Friday.

“WHO’s position is that when these markets are allowed to reopen it should only be on the condition that they conform to stringent food safety and hygiene standards,” he said. “Governments must rigorously enforce bans on the sale and trade of wildlife for food.”

And he added: “Because an estimated 70% of all new viruses come from animals, we also work together closely [with the World Organization for Animal Health and the Food and Agricultural Organization, FAO, of the United Nations] to understand and prevent pathogens crossing from animals to humans.”

(18) DON’T INVITE HIM TO THE PREMIERE. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, “How I’m Living Now: David Lynch, Director”, Lynch was asked about life in the time of quarantine, both current & possible future projects, and what he thinks about the upcoming movie adaptation of Dune. On that latter:

This week they released a few photos from the new big-screen adaptation of Dune by Denis Villeneuve. Have you seen them? 

I have zero interest in Dune.

Why’s that?

Because it was a heartache for me. It was a failure and I didn’t have final cut. I’ve told this story a billion times. It’s not the film I wanted to make. I like certain parts of it very much — but it was a total failure for me.

You would never see someone else’s adaptation of Dune?

I said I’ve got zero interest.

(19) VIDEO OF THE DAY. The Mandalorian Theme (Cello Cover)” on YouTube is Nicholas Yee’s adaptation for cello of the theme to The Mandalorian.

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

The Portal to Meredithia

By Daniel Dern: Items:

• Happily, I’d picked up my library reserve for NESFA’s Zenna Henderson: Ingathering collection earlier in the week… before the library shut its doors for who knows who long. (The same announcement indicated our library would be closed to patrons for a to-be-determined time. Will they auto-extend overdue books that can’t normally be renewed? Or are staff still working, so we’re expected to drop ’em through the book slot?)

• Portals to (and from) Narnia, Fillory, Earth-616 (Marvel’s core universe, IIRC), and (DC) Earth-5 are closed except for emergencies. Any villian or other bad (big, small or just right) planning to cackle maniacally must be wearing approved safety face masks. Special masks for wolves and other snouted beings available.

• Even if you haven’t already been watching DC’s Legends of Tomorrow (on CW, available free via their app, etc.)

— Last week’s S4Ep6, “Mr Parkers Neighborhood,” has a great extended homage to Mr Rogers, in the last 3rd, IIRC. The trailer has only a small bit, get the episode (and speed through to it, if need be),

— This week’s S5Epp7: “Romeo V. Juliet: Dawn of Justness” hunts for Shakespeare, amidst their usual hijinks. For trailer, see “’DC’s Legends of Tomorrow’? You Might Want to Sit Down for This: Marc Guggenheim’s Already Teasing Arrowverse’s NEXT Crossover”

— Two weeks ago, S4Ep5, included Gengis Khan, so, unsurprisingly, at one point, one of the Legends cries out, “Khaaaaaaaan!”

• In a recent episode of The Magicians, another helpful use of media-familiar characters…(roughly) “OK, since I know you’ve see Loopers, you know all the dangers of trying to change the past.”

Pixel Scroll 3/12/20 This Machine Scrolls Pixels

(1) MORE SFF EVENTS AFFECTED BY CORONAVIRUS.

  • The annual L. Ron Hubbard Writers and Illustrators of the Future awards ceremony, planned for April 3 in Hollywood, has been cancelled.
  • The 2020 Williamson Lectureship, scheduled for April 3 at Eastern New Mexico University has been postponed.

(2) WORLDCON 2020 STILL ON. The CoNZealand chairs gave this status as of March 13 (NZ date): “Covid-19: Update from the Chairs”.

We understand your concerns and that you want as much notice as possible if CoNZealand were to be cancelled. We are extremely keen to see CoNZealand go ahead and bring Worldcon to New Zealand for the first time ever. Our Executive have discussed the situation and unanimously agreed that we are not cancelling the convention.  Please be assured that we are closely monitoring the situation and will make a further statement if the situation changes. We do note that the convention could possibly be cancelled by the New Zealand Government or the venues, but we see no sign of that happening.

Kelly Buehler, Norman Cates – CoNZealand Chairs

(3) SFWA ON UNFIT/UNREAL. SFWA has issued a statement on Facebook warning about the practices of Unreal and Unfit magazines posting lists of rejected stories and author names on Thinkerbeat (reported here in February). However, the Thinkerbeat page seems to have been taken down.  

The Board of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America is issuing a warning regarding short fiction publisher Thinkerbeat, which publishes the semi-pro magazines “Unfit” and “Unreal.” The publisher publicly posts lists of rejected stories along with the author’s name and a numeric score.

This publisher’s behavior is far outside of industry standards and is contrary to the interests of writers. Humiliating writers, betraying their trust, and violating their privacy is not acceptable.

(4) FROM BACK IN THE DAY. At Dogpatch Press, Patch O’Furr connects with some furry history: “Unearthing a cool fossil — A 1980’s letter shows furry fandom before the net.”

…We arranged mailing to Summercat (news writer, furry historian, and curator of the Furry Library), who received four huge binders. There were copies of parts of 1980’s zines someone liked and kept. A binder of misc anime stuff, a binder of (colloquial) furry anime stuff, and a binder each that looked like a collection of work from artists Jerry Collins and Juan Alfonso. Among the photocopies, there was a hand written artifact.

(5) MY BABY, THE CAR. [Item by Daniel Dern.] Gizmodo says “Supernatural Is Crossing Over With Legends of Tomorrow…via Car”. So (ignoring backstory as not essential for this), the March 24 episode of Legends of Tomorrow brings (some of) our intrepid Legends to where the Supernatural TV series is being shot, so (we) get Baby (which is, I gather, a car) from Supernatural, along with a few other elements of Supn’l (tho no characters, I gather).

So it’s not quite a crossover, depending on your definition of things.

There’s some multiverse precedent, at least from the (paper) comic book PoV, IIRC, where, pre-Crisis (on Infinite Earths), Earth-Prime was “our” universe. Per https://dc.fandom.com/wiki/Earth-Prime: “where the readers lived, DC Comics operated as a publisher and all superheroes are fictional. However, Earth-Prime is shown to be an alternate reality when the Flash (Barry Allen) accidentally travels there from Earth-One.”

(I’m still just a teeny bit sad that the recent CW 5-episode crossover didn’t include a Muppets-style montage that included a few seconds also from Riverdale, the Warner Brothers cartooniverse, Nancy Drew, and Penn & Teller. Ah well.)

(6) BOSKONE ON TV. Boston’s WCVB aired a segment shot at Boskone: “The growth in popularity of science fiction literature”. GoHs Holly Black, Kim Stanley Robinson, and artist Eric Wilkerson get extended facetime, but Fanac.org’s Joe Siclari and Mark Olson are onscreen for a split second, too. Video at the link.

L to R: Mark Olson and Joe Siclari

(7) GATE SHOW. The station’s “Chronicle” also ran a video report about the Boston Fan Expo: “Going behind the scenes of the Boston Convention and Expo Center.”

(8) LIU ADAPTATION. [Item by Joel Zakem.] Last night, I saw a screening of a film entitled La Verite (The Truth), directed by Hirokazu Kore-ede and starring Catherine Deneuve, Juliette Binoche and Ethan Hawke. While it is not a genre film, Deneuve plays an aging actor who is appearing in a  F film entitled “Memories of My Mother,” which is based on the Ken Liu story of the same name. “Memories of My Mother” was initially published on the Daily Science Fiction web site and appears in Liu’s latest collection “The Hiden Girl and Other Stories” (Saga Press, 2020). Liu is also listed as an Associate Producer of La Verite.

A 26-minute short film based on “Memories of My Mother” and entitled Beautiful Dreamer was released in 2016, but I have not seen it.

(9) HERSTORY. CrimeReads’ Jan Eliasberg solves the case — “Dr. Lise Meitner: The Mystery of the Disappearing Physicist”. Tagline: “She split the atom and fled the Nazis. History tried to erase her.”

Otto Hahn remained in Berlin and was named interim head of the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute “until a loyal Nazi could be found to take over.” But Hahn was so dependent on Meitner that he continued to collaborate with her, even after she’d fled to Sweden. He met with her in secret and sent her, on postcards via courier, the results of experiments they’d designed together. It was Meitner not Hahn, who analyzed the results and recognized that they had split the atom. The notion that a nucleus can split and be transformed into another element was radical; no one had fathomed it before. Meitner provided the first understanding of how and why this had happened.

Because Meitner was Jewish, the paper Hahn published in Germany did not have her name on it. Hahn might have been motivated by the fact that, if they paper had had borne her name, it would have been discredited as “Jewish Physics,” and he certainly was aware that including a Jewish woman on the paper would cost him his career in Germany.  So, he published without Meitner, falsely claiming that the discovery was based solely on insights gleaned from his own chemical purification work, and that any insight contributed by Meitner played an insignificant role.

(10) TODAY IN HISTORY.

  • March 12, 1999Wing Commander premiered. It was based rather loosely based on the Wing Commander series. It was directed by Chris Roberts, who created the video game series. It starred Freddie Prinze, Jr., Saffron Burrows, Jürgen Prochnow, David Suchet, and David Warner. Critical reaction to it  was overwhelmingly negative. It has an audience rating of 10% on Rotten Tomatoes. It however spawned at least three sequels. You can see it here.

March 12, 2015 Terry Pratchett dies. Cat Eldridge writes –

We lost Him five years ago today and even though I knew it was coming, it still was a horrible shock. Of all the losses we’ve suffered in the genre, this one and the loss of Iain Banks are the ones I’ve felt the deepest. I’m going to offer up the toast that Hob Gadling gives in Neil Gaiman’s The Sandman: Season of Mists as an expression of my feelings:

  • To absent friends, lost loves, old gods, and the season of mists; and may each and every one of us always give the devil his due.

To mark the occasion, Steven H Silver sent out links to his 2000 SF SIte interview with Pratchett.

In any event, the Discworld has changed over time as Pratchett honed his skills as a writer. In early books, Pratchett referred to several characters only by their title. The Archchancellor of Unseen University or the Patrician of Ankh-Morpork. As time progressed, the characters acquired names and more definable personalities.

“In those days, the Archchancellor would change at least once per book. I’m a little uncertain about [whether the Patrician changed or has always been Lord Vetinari]. Sourcery actually marked the boundary line. The books before that were ‘Old Discworld’; the books after that were ‘New Discworld.” They are the same place, but written by a better writer.

“Because the early ones were written in the fantasy tradition. You populate, apart from your heroes, with rogues, beggars, vagabonds, lords, whores… you don’t think of them as characters. But I find it much more fun to bring them forward as characters.”

Pratchett’s fans are legion and they are very vocal about their favourite novels and characters. This causes slight problems since everyone tells Pratchett which characters to focus on, but the suggestions are usually contradictory. Pratchett has taken to ignoring the advice.

“The problem is that I get requests from people who want more of the witches or don’t like the witches and want more guards. You’ll get what you’re given, but everyone is cheering for the party of choice.

“I get a lot of e-mail on the subject [of combining series]. But the fact is that if you like pickles and you like chocolate, but chocolate pickles may not be a good idea. If you put them all together, its sort of like a super-hero league where Batman can only have adventures because Superman happens to be out of town. What a lot of people want is to see a face-off between Granny and the Patrician. It may happen, but I don’t want to do it just to have the fun of doing it. I almost had Vimes and Lady Sybil meeting Verence and Magrat in The Fifth Elephant, but it got edited out because I was doing it as ‘series glue’ rather than because it was necessary for the book.”

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born March 12, 1879 Alfred Abel. His best-known performance was as Joh Fredersen in Fritz Lang’s Metropolis. It wasn’t his only genre as Phantom, a 1922 German film, was fantasy, and my German is just good enough to see that much of work could be considered genre or genre adjacent. (Died 1937.)
  • Born March 12, 1886 Kay Nielsen. He’s best-known for his work with Disney for whom he did many story sketches and illustrations, not least for Fantasia. He was also the Visual Development Artist on The Little Mermaid. (Died 1957.)
  • Born March 12, 1914 John Symonds. Critic of Alistair Crowley who published four, yes four, books on him over a fifty-year period starting in the Fifties: The Great Beast, The Magic of Aleister Crowley, The King of the Shadow Realm and The Beast 666. Needless to say, the advocates of Crowley aren’t at all happy with him. Lest I leave you with the impression that his only connection to our community, he was a writer of fantasy literature for children including the feline magical fantasy, Isle of Cats  with illustrations by Gerard Hoffnung. (Died 2006.)
  • Born March 12, 1925 Harry Harrison. Best-known first I’d say for his Stainless Steel Rat and Bill, the Galactic Hero series which were just plain fun, plus his novel Make Room! Make Room! which was the genesis of Soylent Green. I just realized I’ve never read the Deathworld series. So how are these? (Died 2012.)
  • Born March 12, 1933 Barbara Feldon, 87. Agent 99 on the Get Smart series. Other genre credits include The Man from U.N.C.L.E. and reprising her character on the short-lived follow-up to this series, Get Smart, done twenty years later. She didn’t have that much of an acting career. 
  • Born March 12, 1933 Myrna Fahey. Though best-known for her recurring role as Maria Crespo in Walt Disney’s Zorro, which I’ll admit is at best genre adjacent, she did have some genre roles in her brief life including playing Blaze in the Batman episodes of “True or False-Face” and “Holy Rat Race”. Her other genre appearances were only on The Time Tunnel and Adventures of Superman.
  • Born March 12, 1952 Julius Carry. His one truly great genre role was as the bounty hunter Lord Bowler in The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr. oh but what a role it it was! Over the course of the series, he was the perfect companion and foil to Bruce Campbell’s Brisco County, Jr. character. He did have one-offs in The Misfits of Science, Earth 2, Tales from the Crypt and voiced a character on Henson’s Dinosaurs.

(12) COMICS SECTION.

(13) UNDER THE LID. Alasdair Stuart has refilled from the endless banquet of popular culture: “The Full Lid for 6th March 2020”

This week’s lead story is a look at the startlingly audacious Doctor Who season finale and it’s connections to Moorcock’s The Eternal Champion, the Creative Commons Licensing movement and Wildstorm Comics. Backing that up are my adventures attempting to replicate the breakfast sandwich from Birds of Prey, with a recipe from the always excellent Binging with Babish.

In Signal Boost, we’ve got details of the Null & Void.podcast’s crowdfunding campaign, Find them on Twitter here and have a trailer. We’ve also got the amazing Premee Mohamed‘s longform debut, Julian Jarboe releasing the brilliantly titled Everyone on the Moon is Essential Personnel  and the magic (literally) of Sarah Gailey. It’s rounded off with a Beth Elderkin piece that’s typically eloquent, perceptive and deeply brave. 

(14) FAMILIAR PLOT. Daniel Fienberg reviews HBO’s production for The Hollywood Reporter: “‘The Plot Against America’: TV Review”.

Philip Roth’s 2004 novel The Plot Against America was a cautionary tale about anti-Semitism in the United States and the dangers of a cult-of-personality presidency in which a politically unseasoned celebrity favored for his “America First!” nationalism forges questionable international alliances and enables the worst instincts of his partners and supporters, setting off a wave of hate crimes further emboldened by “But the economy is booming!” platitudes.

Terrifying fantasy. Right?

So what do you do when speculative fiction no longer feels so speculative? That’s the challenge facing The Wire collaborators David Simon and Ed Burns in their HBO limited-series adaptation of The Plot Against America. Simon and Burns aren’t always able to conquer the challenges of Roth’s text — it’s a great book, if not the most fluidly transferrable story to the small screen — but they’ve certainly crafted a six-hour nightmare with an insidious creep. Some viewers are likely to complain that nothing sufficiently dramatic or awful is happening — and they’ll surely be wrong — before the series twists the narrative knife by the end.

(15) IS LESS BETTER? Sean Kelly finds some internal contradictions in the ways Star Trek’s crews amuse themselves. Thread starts here.

(16) KONG’S INSPIRATION. I didn’t know this. I’m not sure I know it now. “How King Kong came out of a real-life scrapped Komodo dragon vs. gorilla fight” at SYFY Wire.

Ever seen an actual gorilla fighting a Komodo dragon? Well, unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on how you feel about animal cruelty) that fight fell through back in the 1920s, as the Depression sent potential investors running for the jungle. But, hoping to get at least some traction from this defunct battle royale, the hopeful promoter of the epic showdown, Merian C. Cooper, dreamed up King Kong instead — which, thanks to Fathom Events, you’ll be able to catch on the big screen for the first time nationally in more than six decades.

(17) COBBLED TOGETHER. “Ancient rock bears isotopic fingerprints of Earth’s origins”Nature has the story.

Identifying Earth’s building blocks from terrestrial rocks is challenging because these ingredients have become mixed as the planet evolved. Evidence of an unknown building block in ancient rocks provides fresh insight.

The Earth formed from an unknown selection of meteoritic material.  New research finds that the composition of ruthenium isotopes in ancient rocks from southwest Greenland contains evidence of a previously unrecognized building block of Earth. Surprisingly, the inferred isotopic composition of ruthenium in the material does not match known meteorite compositions. The authors’ findings suggest that Earth’s volatile components, such as water and organic compounds, could have arrived during the final stages of the planet’s growth…

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

Pixel Scroll 1/21/20 We Have Always Filed In The Pixel

(1) COOL RUNNING. Pat Cadigan shares the good news: “Yeah, You Just Keep Running, Cancer”.

The last checkup was a personal best. Today’s checkup was even better than that. The level of cancer has fallen by a substantial amount to an unprecedented low. After five years. Which is three more than I was supposed to get. And I’m in my late 60s—-not the time of life generally associated with healing, restoration, and/or improvement.

Which just goes to show you: old doesn’t mean it’s over. Cancer doesn’t mean it’s over. And being old and having cancer doesn’t mean you’re marking time till you keel over….

(2) LESSONS LEARNED, WOUNDS REOPENED. Dwayne A. Day, who was a civilian investigator for the Columbia Accident Investigation Board (CAIB), responds to Eric Choi’s alternate history story about the shuttle’s last mission in “All these moments will be lost…” at The Space Review.

…To me, the Columbia accident had been a shock, but it had not been personal. I barely knew the astronauts’ names before the event, and had stopped paying attention to the mission while Columbia was in orbit. But many of the NASA people we encountered during our investigation knew the astronauts personally, and some felt responsible, directly or indirectly, for their deaths. This report on what could have been done to save them if the hole in Columbia’s wing had been discovered in time was like pouring salt on an open wound—like telling people that not only had they allowed the accident to happen, they had done nothing to save their friends. The tension in that room among the NASA people was palpable.

Now, 17 years later, there’s a weird new development in that emotionally-charged issue. Eric Choi, a Canadian science fiction writer, has written an alternative history story about the Columbia mission for Analog magazine where NASA seeks to save the crew. In his story, NASA tries to launch the shuttle Atlantis on a rescue mission. When that mission is aborted, the Columbia astronauts engage in a high-risk backup plan to fill the hole in Columbia’s wing with metal and frozen water. The salvage plan is only partially successful and a few crewmembers successfully bail out of the stricken orbiter, but the remainder perish. Those rescue scenarios are based on the actual ones that I and other investigators heard in the summer of 2003, and which were included in the CAIB final report.

Choi’s story is titled “The Greatest Day,” and it features the Columbia astronauts and some NASA officials. (The story is accompanied by a non-fiction article by Choi explaining his sources about the rescue mission option.) But in a head-scratching bit of fiction, Choi has changed some names but kept others. For the Columbia’s crew, mission commander Rick Husband and Israeli astronaut Ilan Ramon have different names in the story. For the ground personnel, Linda Ham, who chaired the Mission Management Team for the STS-107 mission involving Columbia, has a different name. The main character in Choi’s story is Wayne Hale, who during the actual mission had tried to obtain better imagery of the orbiter after launch photography indicated it had been hit by foam coming off the external tank during ascent. Hale’s effort was shut down by Linda Ham.

It is unclear why Choi changed some names and not others. Could he have feared legal action? The character who runs the Mission Management Team in his story is portrayed extremely negatively, but the mission commander and the Israeli astronaut say and do nothing in the story, so why change their names but not the rest of the crew? Why even use the name “Columbia” in the story? …

(3) TODAY’S 10,000. Hey, they’re catching up fast! Amazing Stories recorded its ”Ten Thousandth Post” today. Congratulations, Steve Davidson. I’ll soon be wavng as you fly past! (And tell me, how do I get this thing out of second gear?)

 My original instructions to would-be bloggers for the site was to “write about what you are passionate about, because Fandom is all about passion, and the author’s enthusiasm will transmit to the reader”.  I believe that most of our contributors achieved that goal.

(4) CHIANG COMING TO NOTRE DAME. The University of Notre Dame has announced that Ted Chiang will join the Notre Dame Institute for Advanced Study (NDIAS) as an Artist in Residence during the 2020-2021 academic year: “Science fiction writer Ted Chiang to join Notre Dame Institute for Advanced Study”, [Via Locus Online.]

…Chiang will participate in a collaborative two-day workshop presented by the NDIAS and the Notre Dame Technology Ethics Center (ND-TEC). Throughout the event, he will discuss how technical researchers and artists can work together to develop morally significant options for engaging with technology. Additionally, as part of his residency, Chiang will engage with Notre Dame faculty on campus and participate in NDIAS weekly seminars. These seminars will give Chiang the opportunity to discuss his work in progress with NDIAS fellows, students, and invited guests. 

…Chiang will also interface with undergraduate students throughout his residency. Students will have an opportunity to engage with Chiang during a one-credit course about his and other science fiction writings taught by Sullivan and McKenna. First year students enrolled in Sullivan’s course God and the Good Life will read “Hell is the Absence of God” and Chiang will discuss the story with students in a question and answer session. 

(5) HENSON PUPPETS. What happens when Henson puppeteers are joined by some of the best comedians in the world in a battle of improv comedy? “Brian Henson presents Puppet Up. Shows in Hollywood next week.  

Created by award-winning director, producer, Brian Henson (“Muppet Christmas Carol”, “Muppet Treasure Island”), and actor, director, and improv expert Patrick Bristow (“Ellen,” “Seinfeld,” “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” “Whose Line Is It Anyway?”), Puppet Up! – Uncensored promises to deliver a completely unique experience (it’s never the same show twice!), and expertly combines dynamic and spontaneous off-the-cuff comedy with the unmatched talent and creativity of Henson puppeteers.

Based on suggestions from the audience, the puppet anarchy is two shows in one: the improvised puppet action projected live on screens above the stage, and the puppeteers racing around below in full view of the audience to bring it all to life. The show also features recreations of classic pieces originally created by Jim Henson, Jane Henson, and Frank Oz that haven’t been seen by live audiences in decades.

The award-winning Puppet Up! – Uncensored is hosted on The Jim Henson Company’s historic lot in Hollywood. Built by Charlie Chaplin and a legendary part of movie history, the lot is a classic destination that is not to be missed.

(6) GRANTS. Setsu Uzumé acquaints writers with the basics in “Grant Applications 101: Finding, Troubleshooting, and Completing the Quest for Funding” at the SFWA Blog.

From Kickstarter to ko-fi to patreon, the search for funding can be a huge challenge. I recently attended a lecture provided by the St. Louis chapter of the Volunteer Lawyers and Accountants for the Arts on the subject of applying for grants. Some of the most basic hurdles include finding grants that might be a good fit for your work, and how to prepare your materials in a way to make it easy for the folks reading your submission. The greatest learning curve when it comes to grant writing is how to think about looking for grants, and how to frame your work as a good fit. Here is a bit of grant application 101.

(7) BUSINESS IS NOT BOOMING. NPR’s Jason Sheehan reviews the new William Gibson novel — “In ‘Agency,’ William Gibson Builds A Bomb That Doesn’t Boom (And That’s OK)”.

William Gibson does not write novels, he makes bombs.

Careful, meticulous, clockwork explosives on long timers. Their first lines are their cores — dangerous, unstable reactant mass so packed with story specific detail that every word seems carved out of TNT. The lines that follow are loops of brittle wire wrapped around them.

Once, he made bombs that exploded. Upended genre and convention, exploded expectations. The early ones were messy and violent and lit such gorgeous fires. Now, though, he does something different. Somewhere a couple decades ago, he hit on a plot architecture that worked for him — this weird kind of thing that is all build-up and no boom — and he has stuck to it ever since. Now, William Gibson makes bombs that don’t explode. Bombs that are art objects. Not inert. Still goddamn dangerous. But contained.

You can hear them tick. You don’t even have to listen that close. His language (half Appalachian economy, half leather-jacket poet of neon and decay) is all about friction and the gray spaces where disparate ideas intersect. His game is living in those spaces, checking out the view, telling us about it.

Agency, that’s his newest. It’s a prequel/sequel (requel?) to his last book, The Peripheral, which dealt, concurrently, with a medium-future London after a slow-motion apocalypse called “The Jackpot,” and a near-future now where a bunch of American war veterans, grifters, video game playtesters and a friendly robot were trying to stop an even worse future from occurring. It was a time travel story, but done in a way that only Gibson could: Almost believably, in a way that hewed harshly to its own internal logic, and felt both hopeful and catastrophic at the same time….

(8) TODAY IN HISTORY.

  • January 21, 1991 Dead Space premiered. It was directed by Fred Gallo, produced by Mike Elliott and Roger Corman. The cast included Marc Singer, Laura Tate, Bryan Cranston  and Judith Chapman. The movie is a remake of the Corman-produced Mutant and while we will note that are minor differences, it still retains both story and characters from that film.  It does not fare well at Rotten Tomatoes with a rating of only 18% among reviewers there.
  • January 21, 2016DC’s Legends Of Tomorrow premiered.  It was developed by Greg Berlanti, Marc Guggenheim, Andrew Kreisberg, and Phil Klemmer, who are also executive producers along with Sarah Schechter and Chris Fedak; Klemmer and Fedak serve as showrunners. The cast is is sprawling but Rip Hunter (portrayed by Arthur Darvill of Doctor Who fame) was at the center for the first few seasons. The time travel, multiverse premise, and it’s now been renewed for a sixth season, allows for everything from Greek Mythology to Jonah Hex to show up.

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born January 21, 1923 Judith Merril. Author of four novels, Shadow on the HearthGunner CadeOutpost Mars and The Tomorrow People of which the last three were with C. M. Kornbluth. She also wrote twenty-six stories which can be found in The Best of Judith Merril. She was an editor as well of both anthologies and magazines. Her magazine editorship was as Judy Zissman and was Science*Fiction in 1946 and Temper! In 1945 and 1947. May I comment that ISFDB notes Temper! has a header of The Magazine of Social Protest which given its date may make it the earliest SJW citation known in our genre? Oh, and between, 1965 and 1969, she was an exemplary reviewer for the Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction. She was also a much-lauded Books Editor there at the same time. (Died 1997.)
  • Born January 21, 1924 Dean Fredericks. He’s best remembered for being Steve Canyon in the series of the same name which aired from a year in the late Fifties on NBC. Is it genre? You decide. He did have genre credits as he played Captain Frank Chapman in The Phantom Planet. He also appeared in The Lone Ranger and the Lost City of Gold and The Disembodied. (Died 1991.)
  • Born January 21, 1925 Charles Aidman. He makes the Birthday Honors for having the recurring role of Jeremy Pike on The Wild Wild West, playing him four times. Other SFF appearances include Destination Space, The Invaders, Twilight Zone, Mission: Impossible and Kolchak the Night Stalker to name bunt a few of them. (Died 1993.)
  • Born January 21, 1934 Audrey Dalton, 76. I’ve first got her visiting the SFF genre in the Fifties monster flick The Monster That Challenged the World  where she was Gail MacKenzie. She’ll make three more SFF appearences in Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, The Wild Wild West and The Girl from U.N.C.L.E. before retiring from acting.  
  • Born January 21, 1940 Mike Reid. He’s a curious case as he’s been in a number of SFF roles, usually uncredited, starting with a First Doctor story, “ The War Machines” and including one-offs for The Saint, The Champions and Department S.  He is credited as playing Frank Butcher in Doctor Who: Dimensions in Time which you can watch here. (Died 2007.)
  • Born January 21, 1950 Ken Leung, 50. His SFF roles include Syatyoo-Sama in A.I. Artificial Intelligence, Miles Straume in Lost, Admiral Statura in Star Wars: The Force Awakens, and Kid Omega in X-Men: The Last Stand. He also played the Karnak, a member of the Inhumans, on that series which had poor rating and was canceled after eight episodes. 
  • Born January 21, 1954 Katey Sagal, 66. She voiced Leela on Futurama, the spaceship captain and head of all aviation services on board the Planet Express Ship. 
  • Born January 21, 1956 Geena Davis, 64. Her first genre appearance was as Veronica “Ronnie” Quaife In The Fly reboot followed by her widely remembered roles as Barbara Maitland in Beetlejuice and Valerie Gail In Earth Girls Are Easy. She also plays Morgan Adams in the box office bomb Cutthroat Island before getting the choice plum of Mrs. Eleanor Little in the Stuart Little franchise.  She has a lead role in Marjorie Prime, a film tackling memory loss in Alzheimer’s victims some fifty years by creating holographic projections of deceased family members that sounds really creepy. Who’s seen it? Her major series role to date is as Regan MacNeil on The Exorcist, a ten-episode FOX sequel to the film. 
  • Born January 21, 1962 Paul McCrane, 58. Emil Antonowsky in RoboCop whose death there is surely an homage to the Toxic Avenger.  A year later, he’d be Deputy Bill Briggs in the remake of The Blob, and he played Leonard Morris Betts in the “Leonard Betts” episode of the X-Files

(10) PAWSOME IDEA. Discover your Jellicle cat name:

(11) NOT JUST KID STUFF. When Doctor Who arrived in Australia – in 1965 – he ran afoul of the censors. Galactic Journey’s Kaye Dee tells how: “[January 20, 1965] The T.A.R.D.I.S. Lands Down Under and Japan Invades Australia (Doctor Who and The Samurai)”.

…I heard from a friend who works at the ABC that Australia has been one of the first countries to buy Doctor Who from the BBC. In fact, I was really excited when he told me in March last year that the ABC had purchased the show and intended to debut it last May, but then delays arose due to censorship issues. Yes, although Doctor Who is classed as a family show in Britain, the Australian censors (who view and classify every overseas television show that comes into the country) have deemed the first thirteen episodes to be not suitable for children and classified them as “Adult”! This means that the ABC must schedule these episodes for screening after 7pm and couldn’t show Doctor Who in the Sunday night 6.30pm timeslot it originally planned. But at last Doctor Who has found a home on Friday night at 7.30pm (at least in Sydney). I just hope the censors aren’t going to decide one day that some stories are too scary to be screened at all!

(12) SPIRIT OF DEATH. Accompanying The Criterion Collection’s  January selection of Seventies sff films, Ed Park analyzes the dual themes of  “The Labyrinth and the Plague”.

…The decade’s science-fiction legacy is partly obscured by the extraterrestrially inclined blockbusters appearing near its end: George Lucas’s Star Wars and Steven Spielberg’s Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977), Ridley Scott’s Alien (1979). But before that, filmmakers were using the genre to construct bleak, paranoid scenarios right here on earth: claustrophobic labyrinths and lethal plagues. Consciously or not, some films read like responses to the ongoing war in Vietnam, corruption in the shadow of Watergate, environmental degradation and urban decay, and the rise of a new machine age. Some of the films snap back at the excesses of the sixties, too: it can’t be coincidence that the slavering creeps whom Neville battles every night call themselves the Family, à la Charles Manson.

Even though humans reached the moon in ’69, most of these movies remain earthbound, as if the gravity of the world’s problems wouldn’t permit such easy, escapist fare—at least for a while. Indeed, the jarring prologue of George Lucas’s 1971 debut, THX 1138, is a snippet of an old Buck Rogers serial, pounding home the difference between a tale of derring-do and the imprisoning nature of man’s own inventions.

(13) ALL DOGS GO TO HEAVEN. Superversive Press has closed. It stopped selling its books on Amazon last fall, and turned over the balance of its unfinished Planetary Anthologies to another publisher. Today’s announcement said:

It is with great sadness that I bring you the announcement that the owner of Superversive Press has made the decision to shutter the press. His reasons are his own and personal, and I understand that running even a small company is a large amount of work. I would like to thank you, Jason, for all your hard work. It was a good run, and you brought a lot of us together.

Now, with that having been said, Superversive is a movement, not a company, and as authors, we will still be there, pressing forward with our goal of fiction that ennobles and inspires. If you were working with Superversive Press, check with your editors; most are looking at other presses we have worked with. (As we did with the Planetary Anthology.)

Camestros Felapton concisely explains Superversive’s publishing niche:

…Specialising in conservative orientated speculative fiction with an intent to ‘inspire from above’, the publisher was a part of a wave of attempts to revitalise right-leaning science-fiction in the mid 2010’s. From my perspective, given the world we do live in, experiments like Superversive Press were a far more positive outlet for some of the angst and frustrations among conservative SF/F fans than others. If we had to be in the midst of a culture war within science fiction, it was much, much better to be conducted with people exercising their creative energies creatively.

(14) ALL CATS GO TO DINNER. Karen Bruillard in the Washington Post reports that researchers at the “body farm” (formally known as the Forensic Investigation Research Station) at Colorado Mesa University found that cats will eat dead people, but because cats are finicky they may not eat your corpse if you’re dead.  The researchers found that one feral cat, given a choice of 40 bodies to consume, gnawed at one corpse for 35 consecutive days. “Compelling new evidence that your cat might eat your corpse”.

It is one of those pet-owner musings, a conversation topic so dark that it inspired a book by a mortician: Would Fluffy eat me if I dropped dead? The answer, according to small but growing body of scientific literature, is a fairly clear yes.

(15) BRICKS IN SPACE. TechCrunch tells us “Lego made an International Space Station kit, including Space Shuttle and robotic arm”. Photos at the link.

Lego is releasing an official International Space Station kit, which includes a scale model of the orbital platform, along with a miniature dockable Space Shuttle, a deployable satellite and two astronaut mini figurines. The kit is made up of 864 pieces, and celebrates the science station’s more than 20 years in operation. It was originally suggested through Lego’s Ideas platform, which crowdsources ideas from the Lego fan community.

(16) JEOPARDY! Andrew Porter deduced these Jeopardy! contestants are not insatiable sff TV viewers.

Category: Spaced-Out Pop Culture.

Answer: Led by Captain Mercer, this sci-fi series on Fox sees its title ship & crew boldly going where no comedy has gone before.

No one got the question, “What is ‘The Orville'”.

There was a bit of a gaffe in the final round, too.

Final Jeopardy: Classic Movies.

Answer: This 1939 movie was loosely based on Senator Burton Wheeler, victim of a sham investigation for looking into the Justice Department.

Wrong question: What is “Gone with the Wind.”

Correct question: What is “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington.”

(17) SMALL MERCY. Sort of like Barney Fife — “Robot tanks: On patrol but not allowed to shoot”.

In 1985 the US pulled the plug on a computer-controlled anti-aircraft tank after a series of debacles in which its electronic brain locked guns onto a stand packed with top generals reviewing the device. Mercifully it didn’t fire, but did subsequently attack a portable toilet instead of a target drone.

The M247 Sergeant York (pictured above) may have been an embarrassing failure, but digital technology and artificial intelligence (AI) have changed the game since then.

Today defence contractors around the world are competing to introduce small unmanned tracked vehicles into military service.

…Will this new generation of mini-tanks change the face of warfare? How much autonomy can they be trusted with?

Estonian soldiers currently serving in Mali are going out on patrol with an unmanned ground vehicle or UGV. The size of a sit-on lawn-mower with tracks, it carries heavy supplies such as water and ammunition. Trundling behind a conventional armoured personnel carrier it resembles an obedient younger sibling.

…Across the Atlantic US defence contractor FLIR has been buying up robotics firms in order to put together a UGV package with a group of technology and engineering firms, Team Ripsaw. This group has adapted the Ripsaw, a small tracked vehicle with sports car speeds popularised on TV and by Hollywood.

Originally marketed as a millionaire’s plaything and subsequently starring in Fast and Furious 8, the Ripsaw may be about to earn further recognition as an unmanned war machine.

(18) WHO CAN YOU TRUST? “DDoS: Man who sold website defences pleads guilty to attacks” – BBC has the story,.

A man in the US who co-founded a service to protect sites from cyber-attackers has pleaded guilty to launching distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks.

Tucker Preston is co-founder of BackConnect, a cyber-security firm that claimed to be “the new industry standard in DDoS mitigation”.

However, he was accused of arranging DDoS attacks targeting an unnamed firm.

A court document stated the attacks took place between 2015 and 2016.

News of the guilty plea was published online by Brian Krebs, a cyber-security expert and blogger.

(19) MARS LIVERS. “Learning how to live like a Mars colonist”: video — dippy intro gradually leads to substance.

Astroland is a project designed to see how humans would cope with the psychological demands of living on Mars and to test out potential technologies.

It is thought the first colonists on Mars will have to live in caves or lava tubes to protect them from interstellar radiation and for the purpose of the Astroland experiment, “Mars”, is set up in a remote cave in Arredondo, Spain.

(20) FROM THE FRINGE? “Future Forward: Thai opposition party cleared over Illuminati claims” reports the BBC.

A court in Thailand has acquitted one of the country’s largest opposition parties after it was accused of having links to a mythical secret society.

A sedition charge against Future Forward alleged that it was influenced by the Illuminati and was seeking to overthrow the monarchy.

The Constitutional Court dismissed the charge. A guilty verdict could have seen the party banned.

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