Pixel Scroll 2/10/19 How Many Scrolls Does It Take To Screw In A Pixel?

(1) SUPERHEROES BY ACCIDENT. The DC Universe streaming service debuts Doom Patrol on February 15.

Just like us. Only totally different. #DCUDoomPatrol series premiere on February 15, only on #DCUNIVERSE. DOOM PATROL reimagines one of DC’s most beloved groups of Super Heroes: Robotman aka Cliff Steele (BRENDAN FRASER), Negative Man aka Larry Trainor (MATT BOMER), Elasti-Woman aka Rita Farr (APRIL BOWLBY) and Crazy Jane (DIANE GUERRERO), led by modern-day mad scientist Niles Caulder aka The Chief (TIMOTHY DALTON). Each member of the Doom Patrol suffered a horrible accident that gave them superhuman abilities, but also left them scarred and disfigured. Traumatized and downtrodden, the team found their purpose through The Chief, coming together to investigate the weirdest phenomena in existence. Following the mysterious disappearance of The Chief these reluctant heroes will find themselves in a place they never expected to be, called to action by none other than Cyborg (JOIVAN WADE), who comes to them with a mission hard to refuse. Part support group, part Super Hero team, the Doom Patrol is a band of superpowered freaks who fight for a world that wants nothing to do with them.

(2) READ EMSHWILLER. The Library of America’s “Story of the Week” is “Pelt” by Carol Emshwiller, who died February 2.

One of the best-known of the 150-plus stories Emshwiller published between 1954 and 2016, is the often-anthologized “Pelt,” which was most recently reprinted in the Library of America collection, The Future Is Female! Describing the trek of a trophy hunter accompanied by his dog on a distant planet; the story is told from the dog’s point of view—one of Emshwiller’s numerous tales that explore the interactions of predators and prey or that adopt a non-human perspective. “I took several classes in prey animal psychology, which actually were classes on the psychology of everything,” she explained in her Contemporary Authors essay. “About how we, being predators and having predators such as cats and dogs around us all the time, understand predators, but know very little about prey animals.”

(3) FALLING OFF THE EDGE OF THE EARTH. Don’t expect to see too many IKEA customers at the 2020 Worldcon — “IKEA sells world map but forgets to include New Zealand”.

Global furniture retailer IKEA has garnered online infamy after a bemused customer shared a photo of a map that notably did not include New Zealand.

…IKEA has since apologised in a statement to the BBC.

“IKEA is responsible for securing correct and compliant motifs on all our products,” they wrote.

“We can see that the process has failed regarding the product BJÖRKSTA world map – we regret this mistake and apologise….”

(4) EUROCON 2019. TitanCon EuroCon 2019 Memberships are on sale. The convention will be held August 22-25 in Belfast, Ireland.

Our payment system is back online for all those who have been patiently waiting to book their memberships to this year’s Convention. If you’re ready to buy your membership please click through the link below where you’ll find the button to our Grenadine site for credit or debit card payments using Stripe.

Our Membership Rates are currently the same as they were prior to taking the sales page down to change payment systems, so those who have been trying to book have not lost out at all.
These rates are:

Adult Attending £52.00
Young Adult Attending £36.50
Child Attending £21.00
Supporting Upgrade £42.00

On the membership page you’ll also find information on our code of conduct, data policy, and scheduled future increases to our membership fees.

(5) WORLDBUILDING WITH JEMISIN. Here’s a transcript of Ezra Klein’s podcast with N.K. Jemisin from August 2018 where she walked him through a world building exercise she does with students.

EK: We are going to do something today that I’m incredibly excited about, because I have never done it before. We’re going to build a world. What is world building, in the science fiction/fantasy sense, because it seems to have a specific meaning that those who aren’t familiar with it may just not know.
NKJ: It does. It’s one of the things that makes SFF unique among literary forms, just because you’re not doing a story in the first world, which is what we call our world/this world. We’re often using secondary worlds, i.e. worlds that aren’t earth. Could be another planet, another reality, could be another universe! It’s somewhere where the laws of physics don’t work the same way. there may be magic, there might be creatures or beings that don’t exist in our world. Could be strange environmental circumstances, but who knows. It’s a staple of science fiction and fantasy writing.

(6) PAINFUL FUTURES. NPR’s Arkady Martine, in “New Collection Asks: What Might The ‘People’s Future’ Look Like?”, reviews the stories assembled by editors Victor LaValle and John Joseph Adams.

This collection of 25 stories from speculative fiction’s sharpest voices presents visions of future Americas that are born, bloody and aching, from the peril and difficulty of this present moment.

In his introduction, editor Victor LaValle writes about how this book derives from the project of its namesake, Howard Zinn’s A People’s History of the United States — the story of this place, as told by its people, all of its people. Indigenous and immigrant, female and queer and poor, rural and urban; a history spoken by the voiceless. This collection is full of futures which belong to the same people Zinn centered.

They are, in majority, not comfortable or easy futures — nor would one expect them to be, derived as they are from the second year of the Trump presidency and its pervasive damage to the marginalized of the United States. Several of these stories are brutal in their plausible despair — but all of them are rich with an undercurrent of, if not resistance, then the profound resilience of human beings, particularly those who have too often been denied rights and voices. As a whole, the collection challenges the ideas of who the people of the future United States might be — and therefore also challenges assumptions about who the people of the United States are now.

(7) SFRA. The Science Fiction Research Association’s Support a New Scholar Award has been won by Beata Gubacsi. This excellence-based grant is helps fund one graduate student of outstanding promise by covering SFRA membership costs for two years. 

Beata Gubacsi is a PhD candidate at the University of Liverpool. Her research interests are genre, trauma, climate and animal studies, technology in medicine and health care with a focus on gaming and mental health. While working on her thesis, “Literature of Monstrosity: Posthumanism and the New Weird”, she has also been involved in Bluecoat Liverpool’s science fiction projects as part of her LiNK placement, and co-hosting and facilitating workshops at the Being Human Festival, Tate Exchange, and Nottingham New Art Exchange. She is author of the column, “Medical Humanities 2.0”, for The Polyphony, the blog of the Institute for Medical Humanities at Durham University while also running the Current Research in Speculative Fiction Conference. Most recently, she has joined the team of the Fantastika Journal as assistant reviews editor.

(8) IMPROVING THE CLASSICS. Hayati Evren’s art is news to me!

(9) UNGERER OBIT. Tomi Ungerer (1931-2019), Alsatian writer, cartoonist and illustrator has died: “Renowned French Author And Illustrator Tomi Ungerer Dies At 87”.

The renowned French cartoonist, author and illustrator Tomi Ungerer, a lifelong activist who protested against racial segregation, the Vietnam war and the election of US President Donald Trump, has died at the age of 87 in Ireland, his former adviser told AFP on Saturday.

…He was obsessed with books from an early age.

“For me, if there was a heaven it would be a library,” he told AFP in a 2016 interview, adding that he was “brought up on reading”.

Ungerer’s oeuvre ranged from globally celebrated children’s books like The Three Robbers and The Moon Man to erotic drawings as well as satirical paintings and political posters. He wrote in three languages: English, French and German.

He published over 140 books which have been translated into 30 languages.

(10) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • February 10, 1957 –Roger Corman’s Not Of This Earth premiered in theatres.
  • February 10, 1957Attack Of The Crab Monsters debuted.

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born February 10, 1904 Lurton Blassingame. Literary agent for Heinlein. No, usually I don’t do such creatures here but he makes the birthday list because Grumbles from the Grave has more letters to Blassingame than to any other correspondent. And even some of Blassingames’s letters to Heinlein are included. (Died 1988)
  • Born February 10, 1906 Lon Chaney Jr. I certainly best remember him as  playing Larry Talbot in The Wolf Man but he has a lot of other roles as well: The Ghost of Frankenstein as The Monster (hey, correct billing!), The Mummy’s Tomb as The Mummy Kharis or Son of Dracula as Count Dracula, he played all the great monsters, often multiple times. (Died 1973.)
  • Born February 10, 1920 Robert Park Mills. He was the managing editor of Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine beginning in 1948 and The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction the following year. He also edited Venture Science Fiction for several years. Under him, F&SF won an impressive three Hugo Awards for best magazine in 1959, 1960 and 1963. (Died 1986.)
  • Born February 10, 1929 Jerry Goldsmith. Composer whose music grace many a genre undertaking including, and this is nona completing listing, Alien, Star Trek: The Motion PicturePoltergeistPlanet of the ApesThe Man from U.N.C.L.E. series, Star Trek: VoyagerThe MummyThe Twilight Zone (need I say the original series?) and he even did the music for Damnation Alley! (Died 2004.)
  • Born February 10, 1953 John Shirley, 66. I not going to even attempt a complete précis of his career. I read and much enjoyed his first novel City Come A-Walkin and oddly enough his Grimm: The Icy Touch is damn good too in way many of those sharecropped novels aren’t. I see that to my surprise he wrote a episode of Deep Space Nine, “Visionary” and also wrote three episodes of the ‘12 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
  • Born February 10, 1967Laura Dern, 52. Ok I’m going to note she’s in David Lynch’s Blue Velvet as Sandy Williams which is not genre but which is one fucking weird film. Jurassic Park where she is Dr. Ellie Sattler is her first SF film followed by Jurassic Park III and a name change to Dr. Ellie Degler.  Such are the things movie trivia is made of. Star Wars: The Last Jedi has her showing as Vice Admiral Amilyn Holdo.  I think her first genre appearance was on Shelley Duvall’s Nightmare Classics series as Rebecca in “The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde” episode.
  • Born February 10, 1992 Karen Fukuhara, 27. She is known for her role of Katana in Suicide Squad, as well as voicing Glimmer in the She-Ra and the Princesses of Power series. She plays Female in The Boys, the forthcoming web series based on The Boys by Garth Ennis and Darick Robertson. 

(12) COMICS SECTION.

  • Frazz knows that gravity sucks; maybe just enough suckage.
  • Well, I guess technically he wasn’t using his hands… In the Bleachers
  • Over the Hedge discovers a new phaser setting.

(13) LOVE WILL BE PROVED. Chuck Tingle today announced he’ll be a guest at CONvergence in Minneapolis over the July 4-7 weekend.

In 2016 Tingle was nominated for a Hugo Award for his short story, Space Raptor Butt Invasion. As a response to an alt-right fan group conspiring to politicize his works, Tingle announced video game designer and anti-harassment activist Zoë Quinn would accept the award on his behalf if he won. His story did not win and Tingle subsequently published Pounded in the Butt by My Hugo Award Loss, which went viral on social media.

Billings newspaper The New York Times says, “By creating an online community in which his particular outlook—what he calls his ‘unique way’—is not just accepted but celebrated, Mr. Tingle has delivered a strong rebuke to the intolerant forces that used him as a prop in attacking diverse voices in the sci-fi world.”

(14) MISSY SERIES. Big Finish has released Missy, Series 1, audio adventures with Doctor Who’s rival, voiced by Michelle Gomez.

Missy… alone, unleashed and unfettered. What does she get up to when the Doctor isn’t around? Well, Missy has a plan. And to carry it out, she’s going to have to break some rules. And people. And planets. Look out universe, Missy is on a mission. And nobody is going to stop her…

(15) HOURGLASS FIGURE. Ultima Thule’s shape is under discussion in “Nasa’s New Horizons: ‘Space snowman’ appears squashed”.

It seems the “space snowman” is more like a “gingerbread man”.

Scientists studying the distant object known as Ultima Thule are revising ideas about its shape after examining the latest images downlinked to Earth.

The pictures, taken by the New Horizons probe on 1 January, show the apparently bulbous body to be quite flat.

This interpretation is evident from the data acquired by the Nasa spacecraft when it looked back at icy Ultima Thule as it zoomed past at 50,000km/h.

(16) SUR-REALITY TV. Not genre, but this woman live-tweeting closed-captioned screenshots of Forensic Files is hilarious. Thread starts here.

(17) ANOTHER SFF BOOZE TIE-IN. SYFY Wire asks “Are you ready for Predator Whiskey? Dutch Bourbon says anytime”.

“Get to the choppa!” is about to take on a whole new meaning. Silver Screen Bottling Company and Fox Studios have joined forces to release Dutch Bourbon Whiskey, a tie-in brand paying tribute to Arnold Schwarzenegger’s character, Maj. Alan “Dutch” Schaefer, in John McTiernan’s 1987 sci-fi action classic Predator.

According to the bottler, the spirit’s logo is emblazoned with, yes, a chopper set against the targeting crosshairs made famous by the alien hunter with Ah-nuld’s now iconic line “Get to the chopper.”

(18) DO ANDROIDS DREAM OF ELECTRIC CATS? [Item by Mike Kennedy.]Cat Trigger Warning: Fast Company wants you to know, “This AI dreams about cats–and they’ll haunt your nightmares.” They look at some work Nvidia has done with their AI StyleGAN—beyond generating human faces that don’t actually exist (for which they grabbed tons of headlines). It turns out that they’re also into SJW Credential (AI Weirdness: “Letting neural networks be weird • GANCats”). Some of the generated cate are… just… a… bit… bizarre…

A few months ago, Nvidia’s AI photo generation technology went viral. The media marveled at the uncanny technological power of the company’s engine, called StyleGAN, which generates photos of people that don’t actually exist.

But while people were busy gawking at how real these machine-generated people looked, they missed the other important part of Nvidia’s experiment: Computer-generated cats.

(19) TANGLED UP IN BLUE. Walt Disney Studios released a new trailer for its live-action Aladdin. I’m not worried whether Will Smith can fill Robin Williams’ slippers – because I know nobody can! The movie comes to theaters May 24.

[Thanks to Cora Buhlert, Andrew Porter, Mike Kennedy, Michael Toman, Carl Slaughter. Chip Hitchcock, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Michael J. Walsh, Bonnie McDaniel, Cat Eldridge, and Martin Morse Wooster for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Steve Davidson.]

Pixel Scroll 2/2/19 Apologies To Voltaire

(1) THE BETTER BATTLE ANGELS OF OUR NATURE. The Hollywood Reporter’s Stephen Dalton makes it sound like the promotional beer (linked here the other day) is better than the movie — “‘Alita: Battle Angel’: Film Review”

…Twenty years in gestation, James Cameron’s long-cherished manga adaptation Alita: Battle Angel finally reaches the big screen with help from director Robert Rodriguez and Peter Jackson’s digital effects team. With that kind of cinematic pedigree, backed by a reported $200 million budget, this kick-ass cyberpunk adventure seems to be aiming for the same blockbusting box office heights as the Hunger Games franchise. But a lumpy script, muddled plot, stock characters and tired genre tropes may dampen its commercial breakout potential beyond its core sci-fi action-fantasy demographic. While not exactly a misfire, Rodriguez and Cameron’s joint effort lacks the zing and originality of their best individual work. Fox is releasing it across much of Europe next week, with a U.S. launch to follow Feb. 14.

(2) GOFUNDME AND CHARITY ANTHOLOGIES BENEFIT ROPES. Splatterpunk writer Christopher Ropes has a serious health problem with his teeth, and the horror-writing community is rallying to make the funds available. First, there’s Ropes’ GoFundMe, “Get Christopher’s Teeth Fixed” with photos that illustrate the problem.

My name is Christopher Ropes. I was born with ameleogenesis imperfecta, a condition that has caused more pain and suffering in my life than any other source, even my fibromyalgia. Essentially, I have teeth that rot and break much more easily than normal because they lack proper enamel protection. I’ve suffered through countless infections that swell up the entirety of my face. And all of this doesn’t even begin to describe the fact that my teeth just make me feel
ugly and unloveable.

I have no dental insurance because I’m on Disability and Medicare doesn’t cover any dental work, no matter how medically necessary.

My problems with my teeth have gotten so bad, I can hardly even chew anything anymore. I got an estimate from the dentist and all the work is going to come to approximately $14,000. I added a little bit to the total to cover any GoFundMe fees, as well as medications and special dietary needs while the work is being done, and the possibility that the estimate is shy of what the actual total will be.

On the same day his GoFundMe launched, two charity anthologies were released, the profits to benefit Christopher Ropes.

Planet X Publications is proud to present this charity anthology, benefitting our friend, horror writer Christopher Ropes. It features stories & poems generously donated from members of the weird fiction & horror communities.

Tables of Contents: Introduction by Nadia Bulkin / 1) Blue Broken Mind by Farah Rose Smith / 2) An Incident on a Cold Winter’s Afternoon by Matthew A. St. Cyr / 3) Fishing Boots by Douglas Draa / 4) Chindi & Night of the Skinwalker by Frank Coffman / 5) How to Live Without Meds? by Norbert Góra / 6) Nothing Else Matters by Calvin Demmer / 7) The Denturist by Jo-Anne Russell / 8) The Tooth by Russell Smeaton / 9) To Anne by Paula Ashe / 10) I Can’t See the Bottom by James Fallweather / 11) Forbidden Knowledge by K.A. Opperman / 12) Outlaws by Bob Pastorella / 13) Project AZAZEL by Christopher Slatsky / 14) Prototype by E.O. Daniels / 15) Eton’s Last Will and Testament by Maxwell Ian Gold / 16) Last Call at the Overlook by Kathleen Kaufman / 17) Reflection in Blood by Scott J. Couturier / 18) Four Ropes by Shayne Keen / 19 Vore by Brian O’Connell / 20) “Hotel California” is the Devil by John Claude Smith / 21) Spare Parts by Jill Hand / 22) Salten by John Boden / 23) The Fever River by Matthew M. Bartlett / 24) Verdure by Brandon Barrows / 25) “INK” by Sarah Walker / 26) Twitching and Chirping by Robert S. Wilson / 27) Denizens of Mortuun by C.P. Dunphey / 28) Hungery by John Linwood Grant / 29) Chrysalises by Jeffrey Thomas / 30) I Keep It in a Little Box by S. L. Edwards / 31) Trace of Presence by Jason A. Wyckoff / 32) Thirty-Two by Donald Armfield / Wisdom Tooth ~ Insanity’s Steed by Frederick J. Mayer / Afterword by Christopher Ropes

Table of Contents: Introduction to Volume Two by Michael Wehunt / 1) “Alouette A La Blanc” by Bob Freville / 2) A Plague Of The Most Beautiful Finery by Kurt Fawver / 3) Believe Me by Ashley Dioses / 4) New Moon in November by K.A. Opperman / 5) That What Was Under The Surface by Norbert Góra / 6) My Valentine’s Day Ball by Donna Marie West / 7) The Last to Die by Jayaprakash Satyamurthy / 8) Hammer Dulcimer by T.M. Morgan / 9) The Ballad Stone by Adam Bolivar / 10) Lost on the Road to Nowhere by Pete Rawlik / 11) The City of Xees by Scott J. Couturier / 12) The View by Philip Fracassi / 13) The Figurehead by A.P Sessler / 14) The Triumph of the Skies by Eric Ruppert / 15) Growth; or, The Transubstantiation of Apartment 3C by Ross T. Byers / 16) Fertility by Brooke Warra / 17) Zugzwang by K. H. Vaughan / 18) On a Bed of Bone by Can Wiggins / 19) Yellow Voices by Luis G. Abbadie / 20) The Outsider by John Paul Fitch / 21) Mutinous Facial Abstractions by John Claude Smith / 22) Of Blood, Oil & Tin by Michael Brueggeman / 23) Cold by Sean M. Thompson / 24) Umbriel is The Darkest Moon by Marguerite Reed / 25) Humlin by Farah Rose Smith / 26) 32 White Horses by Justin Burnett / 27) Convince Me Not to Put a Bell on You by Andrew M. Reichart / 28) A Little Delta of Filth by Jon Padgett / 29) 2.0 by Aaron Besson / 30) We All Make Sacrifices by Jonathan Maberry / 31) Insect Queen by Roy K. Phelps / 32) Last Wraps by Duane Pesice / Afterword by Christopher Ropes

(3) KGB. Fantastic Fiction at KGB reading series hosts Ellen Datlow and Matthew Kressel present F. Brett Cox and Peng Shepherd on Wednesday, February 20 at the KGB Bar in New York.

F. Brett Cox

F. Brett Cox’s debut collection, The End of All Our Exploring: Stories, was published by Fairwood Press in 2018.  His fiction, poetry, plays, articles, and reviews have appeared in numerous magazines and anthologies.  With Andy Duncan, he co-edited the anthology Crossroads: Tales of the Southern Literary Fantastic.  He is a co-founder of the Shirley Jackson Awards and currently serves as Vice-President of the SJA Board of Directors.  A native of North Carolina, Brett is Charles A. Dana Professor of English at Norwich University and lives in Vermont with his wife, playwright Jeanne Beckwith.

Peng Shepherd

Peng Shepherd was born and raised in Phoenix, Arizona, where she rode horses and trained in classical ballet, and has lived in Beijing, Kuala Lumpur, London, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Washington, D.C., and New York. Her debut novel, The Book of M, was chosen as an Amazon “Best Science Fiction and Fantasy Books of the Year,” and has been featured on The Today ShowNPR On Point, and in The Guardianio9, GizmodoSYFY Wire, and Elle Canada. Find her at www.pengshepherd.com or on Twitter @pengshepherd.

Starts 7 p.m. at the KGB Bar, 85 East 4th Street (just off 2nd Ave, upstairs.) New York, NY

(4) GOING FOR BROKE. Locus Online reports the results of a new “Author Income Survey”.

The Authors Guild has released their 2018 Author Income Survey. 5,067 authors participated, and the Guild says the results point to a “crisis of epic proportions for American authors, particularly literary writers.” The median income from writing was $6,080, a decline of 3% from their 2013 survey, and 42% from 2009, a drop the Guild ascribes to declining royalties, “blockbuster mentality” at publishing companies, and the sales practices of Amazon.com.

The Guild’s conclusions, and a PDF with lots of data (and anecdata) is available at the Authors Guild website.

(6) VARIANT HEINLEIN NOVEL “SIX-SIX-SIX” ON THE WAY. Phoenix Pick has announced “A New Robert A. Heinlein Book to be Published Based on Newly Recovered Manuscript”:

Phoenix Pick recently announced that, working with the Heinlein Prize Trust, they have been able to reconstruct the complete text of an unpublished novel written by Robert A. Heinlein in the early eighties.

Heinlein wrote this as an alternate text for “The Number of the Beast.” This text of approximately 185,000 words largely mirrors the first one-third of the published version, but then deviates completely with an entirely different story-line and ending.

This newly reconstructed text also pays extensive homage to two authors Heinlein himself admired: Edgar Rice Burroughs and E. E. “Doc” Smith, who became a good friend. Heinlein dedicated his book “Methuselah’s Children” to Smith, and partially dedicated “Friday” to Smith’s daughter, Verna.

The alternate text, especially the ending, is much more in line with more traditional Heinlein books, and moves away from many of the controversial aspects of the published version.

There has been speculation over the years about a possible alternate text, and the reason it was written, particularly since one version is not just a redo of the other ? these are two completely different books.

It is possible that Heinlein was having fun with the text as “The Number of the Beast” and the new book both deal with parallel universes. Given his sense of humor, it would not be surprising for Heinlein to have written two parallel texts for a book about parallel universes.

The new book was pieced together from notes and typed manuscript pages left behind by the author. It is currently under editorial review by award-winning editor, Patrick LoBrutto .

Phoenix Pick expects to publish both The Number of the Beast and the new book, tentatively titled ”Six-Six-Six,” just ahead of this year’s holiday season.

(7) UMBRELLA UMBRAGE. Alexander Lu reviews Netflix’s The Umbrella Academy:

…So on the one hand, I’m overjoyed to say that Netflix’s The Umbrella Academy adaptation has all the absurdity and chaos of the source material. On the other hand, I’m bummed because it feels like some of the comic’s inherent joy was lost in the jump between the page and the screen…

In contrast, Alex Abad-Santos likes Umbrella Academy—at least mostly so (Vox: “Netflix’s Umbrella Academy is as good as it is weird. It’s very weird.”) The article is subtitled, “The show weaves a brutal family portrait into a save-the-world adventure. It also has Mary J. Blige as a time-traveling assassin named Cha-Cha.”

…Portraying the rough parts of being a superhero has been a little bit harder, mainly because it’s so hard to believe that superhero lives could ever be that terrible. 

[…] Making the rotten part of being a superhero as essential as the good parts is where Netflix’s The Umbrella Academy begins. The stylish and crackling new series — written by Steve Blackman and developed by Jeremy Slater — is based on the Eisner Award-winning comic book by Gerard Way (who is also the frontman for the band My Chemical Romance, and serves as the Netflix show’s co-executive producer) and artist Gabriel Ba (also a co-executive producer).

[…] The basic premise revolves around the parasol protégés: seven kids born to different mothers who are brought together as young children a man named Sir Reginald Hargreeves (Colm Feore) who becomes their adopted “dad.” He assembles them into a makeshift family, helps them hone their powers, and turns them into an efficient and successful teenage superhero squad known as the Umbrella Academy. 

[…] Style and doomsday aside, it’s in these pockets of emotion that The Umbrella Academy flashes its true beauty and intent. The show may be wrapped in superheroics and action, but it’s really about a group of people who have to work through their painful pasts and realize that forgiving one another is far tougher than the bigger task (saving the world, I guess) at hand. 

(8) BATTU? NOT MUCH, WHAT’ BATTU WITH YOU? The new Star Wars parks to be part of Disneyland and Disney World are being tied in to the SW novels (StarWars.com: “Step into Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge with new books, comics, and fables”). Six titles of the new series have been announced.

As we prepare to make our first pilgrimage to the fringes of Wild Space and journey to the planet of Batuu, when Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge opens at Disneyland Resort and Walt Disney World Resort later this year, there’s a galaxy of books and comics coming to shelves featuring stories that intersect with the inhabitants of the far-flung world.

Meet Dok-Ondar, the infamous Ithorian who deals in rare antiquities, find out why General Leia Organa takes an interest in Black Spire Outpost, and indulge in myths and fables from a galaxy far, far away, plus other stories set on the Outer Rim locale.

(9) VIDEO OF THE DAY. In “Things Used To Be Hidden” on Vimeo, Tara Mercedes Wood looks at what happens if people could see -everything- other people were trying to hide.

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born February 2, 1905 Ayn Rand.  Best known for The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged which is ISFDB lists as genre though I personally think they’re just pieces of badly written political shit. Her works have made into films many times starting with The Night of January 16th based on a play by her in the early Forties to an animated series based off her Anthem novella. No, I really don’t care who John Galt is. (Died 1982.)
  • Born February 2, 1933 Tony Jay. Ok I most remember him as Paracelcus in the superb Beauty and the Beast series even it turns out he was only in for a handful of episodes. Other genre endeavours include, and this is lest OGH strangle me only the Choice Bits, included voicing The Supreme Being In Time Bandits, an appearance on Star Trek: The Next Generation as Third Minister Campio In “Cost of Living”, being in The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr. (and yes I loved the series) as Judge Silot Gato in “Brisco for the Defense” and Dougie Milford In Twin Peaks. (Died 2006.)
  • Born February 2, 1940 Thomas Disch.  Camp Concentration, The Genocides, 334 and On Wings of Song are among the best New Wave novels ever done. He was a superb poet as well though I don’t think any of it was germane to our community. He won the Nonfiction Hugo for The Dreams Our Stuff Is Made Of, a critical but loving look on the impact of SF on our culture. (Died 2008.)
  • Born February 2, 1949 Brent Spiner, 70.  Data on more Trek shows and films than I’ll bother listing here. I’ll leave it up to all of you to list your favorite moments of him as Data. He also played Dr. Brackish Okun in Independence Day, a role he reprised in Independence Day: Resurgence, a film I’ve not seen. He also played Dr. Arik Soong/Lt. Commander Data in four episodes of Enterprise. Over the years, he’s had roles in Twilight Zone, Outer LimitsTales from the DarksideGargoylesYoung JusticeThe Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest HeroesWarehouse 13 and had a lead role in the thirteen-episode run of Threshold
  • Born February 2, 1949 Jack McGee, 70. Ok so how many of us remember him as Doc Kreuger on the Space Rangers series? Six episodes all told. Not as short as The Nightmare Cafe I grant you but pretty short. I’ve also got him as Bronto Crane Examiner in The Flintstones in Viva Rock Vegas, as a Deputy in Stardust, Mike Lutz in seaQuest, Doug Perren in Buffy the Vampire Slayer and a Police Officer Person of Interest, to name some of his genre roles.
  • Born February 2, 1986 Gemma Arterton, 33. She’s best known for playing Io in Clash of the Titans, Princess Tamina In Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time, Strawberry Fields in Quantum of Solace, and as Gretel in Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters. She also voiced Clover in the current Watership Down series. 

(11) COMICS SECTION.

(12) DISCOVERY RECAP. Camestros Felapton enthuses about “Star Trek Discovery: A Point of Light (S2:E3)”.

Old-style Discovery comes roaring back with a vengeance and a bloody bat’leth. Spore drive, parasites, Klingon man-buns, Ash Tyler, black-ops Star Fleet, hallucinating Tilly, grimdark space-opera — its a week for the weird and wacky on Discovery and I love it.

It’s all story arc this week. Michael is looking for Spock and in a twist so is Spock’s mum. Meanwhile, Ash Tyler is starring in Game of Thrones: The Klingon Years as he struggles with his new reality and seeks to support L’rell as she attempts to unite the now much hairier Klingons. Meanwhile, meanwhile, Tilly is being harassed by the annoying ghost of a former school mate.

(13) COLLECTIBLES AUCTION. Prop Store (offices in London & LA) has an upcoming auction of vintage toys & collectables. Dozens of TV series and movies/series are represented, with the large majority of them genre. The full catalog is online as a PDF. A quick perusal of that reveals pre-auction estimates ranging from $100 (US) to at least $20,000.

Prop Store is pleased to announce its first Toys & Collectibles auction, to be held as a live-auction on Thursday February 28, and Friday March 1, 2019. The auction will include high-quality production toys, preproduction items, international collectables, store displays & marketing materials, bootlegs, posters, press kits, cast and crew items, and more.

(14) VERSE OF THE DAY. From John Hertz:

Each day we scroll up every pixel.
Their coruscant electronic tricks’ll
Make the Filers smile.
If we miss some, those five or six’ll
Set off commenters, whose kicks’ll
Busy us for a while;
Call OGH: he in the mix’ll
Let things run, unless a nix’ll
Scatter a dog-pile.
And never fear for Oz.  Your clicks’ll
Safely mispronounce “Pyrzqxgl”,
Not in dangerous style.

(15) LEARN FROM GAIMAN ONLINE. Just like Margaret Atwood, linked here the other day, Neil Gaiman also has a course available through Masterclass:

Award-winning author Neil Gaiman has spent more than a quarter of a century crafting vivid, absorbing fiction. Now, the author of Stardust, Coraline, and The Sandman teaches his approach to imaginative storytelling. Learn how to find your unique voice, develop original ideas, and breathe life into your characters. Discover Neil’s philosophy on what drives a story—and open new windows to the stories inside you.

(16) TRANSFORMERS. Will our future homes build themselves? A BBC video shows how it could be done — mostly blue-sky and simulations at this point, but some interesting ideas.

At the touch of a button, these incredible homes of the future can self-deploy and build themselves in less than 10 minutes, transforming from a box into a building eight to ten times its original size. Ten Fold Engineering’s David Martyn explains the surprisingly simple design concept that makes this possible.

(17) BABY, IT’S (REALLY) COLD OUTSIDE. Wake up sleepy head! The Chinese lander on the back side of the Moon is once again in daylight and has been back in touch with Earth after a 2-week slumber (Wired:China’s Moon Lander Wakes Up From Its Long, Ultra-Cold Night; partial paywall”).

We already know it’s chilly on the moon. A lunar night lasts 14 Earth days, and its temperatures can dip into a cold so punishing it makes the polar vortex look like a hot tub. But yesterday, China’s space agency announced that the frigidity of the lunar night is even more intense than we’d thought: The country’s Chang’e 4 spacecraft recorded an icy low of –310 degrees Fahrenheit (–190 degrees Celsius).

Consisting of a stationary lander and a six-wheeled rover named Yutu-2, Chang’e 4 landed on the far side of the moon earlier this [year]—a first for any spacecraft. During its first lunar night, Chang’e 4 went into hibernation, relying on internal heat sources to survive.

[…] With both the lander and rover awake, the rover should soon begin its task of exploring and analyzing the 115-mile-wide Von Kármán crater. Exploring the moon’s far side comes with many challenges: The lunar surface is exposed to more impacts from cosmic debris, so the rover will need to carefully watch the terrain (it has already beamed backed a panorama of its surroundings). […]

(18) READY FOR YOUR CLOSE-UP? The subject line “Press Release: Former TAFF delegate found brutally murdered (NSFW?)” was pretty scary ‘til I found out the email press release was about Steve Green’s appearance in a horror movie:

British science fiction fan Steve Green, former editor of the newszine Critical Wave and European TAFF delegate to the 2009 Worldcon in Montreal, has been found brutally murdered in the isolated English village Bell’s End… or at least, his character has, in a pastiche movie trailer currently in production from indie team Vamporama Films.

Terror at Bell’s End is an homage to the 1980s giallo slashers directed by the likes of Lucio Fulci (The Black Cat), Riccardo Freda (Iguana in a Woman’s Skin) and Luciano Ercoli (Forbidden Photos of a Woman Under Suspicion — the new Blu-ray release of which includes a 44-minute documentary from Vamporama Films among the extras). Steve, who’s producing the short, was persuaded by writer-director Chrissie Harper to make a grisly cameo as the mysterious killer’s first on-screen victim.

“It’s very tongue-in-cheek,” Steve explains, “only we’re not quite sure where the tongue came from and precisely whose cheek it’s been left in. My character gets murdered with his own pipe, which I guess underlines the health risks of smoking.”

Meanwhile, Vamporama Films is also seeking festivals and conventions interested in screening its latest horror short Monsters, described by former Giallo Pages editor John Martin as “a chilling glimpse into our future that looks like it was shot by the ghost of Mario Bava”.

(19) DO YOU WANT TO PLAY  GAME? The robots are taking to another human game, though this time not (yet) up to a championship level (TechCrunch: “MIT researchers are training a robot arm to play Jenga”).

Turns out training a robotic arm to play Jenga is a surprisingly complex task. There are, so to speak, a lot of moving parts. Researchers at MIT are putting a modified ABB IRB 120 to work with the familiar tabletop game, utilizing a soft gripper, force-sensing wrist joint and external camera to design a bot that can remove a block without toppling the tower. 

[…] “Unlike in more purely cognitive tasks or games such as chess or Go, playing the game of Jenga also requires mastery of physical skills such as probing, pushing, pulling, placing and aligning pieces. It requires interactive perception and manipulation, where you have to go and touch the tower to learn how and when to move blocks,” says MIT assistant professor Alberto Rodriguez. “This is very difficult to simulate, so the robot has to learn in the real world, by interacting with the real Jenga tower. The key challenge is to learn from a relatively small number of experiments by exploiting common sense about objects and physics.”

(20) SIL RETURNS. An old and much-missed Doctor Who villain is returning — but not in the current iteration of “NuWHO”. The original creator of the evil alien Sil, Philip Martin, and the original actor, Nabil Shaban, are reuniting in Devil Seeds of Arodor, which is being produced independently of the BBC. The DVD’s due out in November. Full details here.

An original drama from the world of BBCtv’s DOCTOR WHO, featuring SIL, the ruthless alien entrepreneur from planet Thoros Beta, played by NABIL SHABAN.

SIL is worried, very worried, which doesn’t keep his reptilian skin in the best condition! Confined in a cold detention cell on the moon, awaiting a deportation hearing for trial on drugs offences on Earth, he faces a death sentence if the application is successful and he is found guilty.

And his employers at the Universal Monetary Fund aren’t pleased either. Not at all.

As time runs out and friends desert him, SIL must use all of his devious, vile, underhanded, ruthless, and amoral business acumen to survive.

Can he possibly slime his way out of this one?

(21) ANOTHER DOCTOR WHO REFERENCE. This tweet went viral yesterday —

[Thanks to JJ, Chip Hitchcock, Martin Morse Wooster, Andrew, Robert Adam Gilmour, Steve Green. Lise Andresen, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, John King Tarpinian, James Davis Nicoll, Carl Slaughter, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Steve Davidson.]

Pixel Scroll 1/22/19 It’s A Long Way To The File If You Wanna Pixel Scroll

(1) DUBLIN 2019 CALL FOR PAPERS. The Dublin 2019 Worldcon’s academic track has put out a call for papers and posters. The submission form will be available at the link until February 22.

Academic tracks at Worldcon provide an opportunity for scholars to present critical reflections and research to an interested, knowledgeable and active audience….

We are particularly interested in three themes:

  1. Ireland has been home to many prominent writers in the genre, while Irish and Celtic history, culture and myth has provided inspiration for many works. We look to take this opportunity to explore this rich cultural background at Dublin 2019 – An Irish Worldcon.
  2. We also welcome proposals which provide scholarly insights on the work of Worldcon Guests and visiting authors, and timely contemporary issues in the field.
  3. Mindful that Science Fiction is a powerful tool for envisioning the future, we welcome contributions that help the community to write a better tomorrow. These might address design fiction, future studies, or explore the relationship between work in the field and current and future societal challenges.

(2) MARVEL WOMEN. SYFY Wire’s “Fangrrls” have selected “The greatest Marvel women of all time”. Their justifications are compelling, for example, second on the list —  

Jubilation Lee

Jubilation Lee, specifically pre-M-Day, doesn’t have the coolest powers. (Plasmoids? Those are FINGER FIREWORKS, nice try.) She isn’t the strongest mutant. She’s not always the best in a fight. When I was a kid reading comics, she seemed the most like me — she just wanted to hang out and pal around with the other mutants. She never seeks to be the star, she just wants to be helpful. And that is what makes her so great: Jubilee is a good friend. She’s there when you need her, even if she is hopelessly in over her head. She’s dependable, she has your back — how many times did she save Wolverine? Jubilee never really fit in as one of the fighting X-Men, but she is always there when someone needs backup or support. She’s there in a pinch, using her stupid finger fireworks to help you out with whatever mess you’ve made now. Even when she lost her powers in M-Day, she didn’t stop being a buddy system expert. Jubilee is often mocked for her admittedly dumb powers, and beyond cameos, she’s been benched from the current run of superhero movies. She’s never been properly appreciated for her true power, that of being a good friend. Most superheroes suck at interpersonal relationships, but not Jubilee. She’s the one you call when you need bail money. And now she’s a vampire, so she has that going for her, too. – Sarah Marrs

(3) THE ORIGINAL SERIES, YEAR FIVE. IDW has new Trek comic books in the works: “‘Star Trek: Year Five’ Will Detail The Fifth Year Of TOS Enterprise’s Mission”.

IDW Publishing is going to be giving Trekkers who love The Original Series a new comic that we’ll be dying to read in ‘Star Trek: Year Five.’ While the show gave the first three years of the original voyages of the USS Enterprise, many assumed that the animated series which ran from 1973-1974 gave us the final two. That isn’t going to be the case here as we’ll explore new life and new civilizations with Captain Kirk who is taking his crew into the last year of their voyage. This will be the year that the Enterprise journies home. The comic won’t just focus on their adventures but also how each member of the crew feels about what their lives will be like when returning to Earth.

There is a massive creative team behind the book as well which consists of a full writer’s room including Brandon Easton, Jody Houser, Jim McCann, and the writing team Collin Kelly and Jackson Lanzing. Kelly and Lanzing will be penning the first part of this series which is set to be illustrated by Stephen Thompson.

Incidentally, notes The Hollywood Reporter,  “the first issue features an unexpected first: legendary illustrator Greg Hildebrandt working on Star Trek for the first time in a career that’s spanned 60 years.”

(4) TIME WAR RESUMES. Fansided points to “Doctor Who spin-off news: Gallifrey: Time War 2 – story details revealed!”

It’s the CIA versus the War Council, as more details of what we can expect in the second series of Doctor Who spin-off Gallifrey: Time War have been revealed.

The first series of Gallifrey: Time War was an absolutely amazing box set. Just four episodes, and yet there were so many twists and turns throughout, plus some really great drama. It was a great reminder of exactly why Gallifrey is one of the best Doctor Who spin-offs out there.

The Big Finish audio trailer can be heard here. The four new chapters in the Gallifrey saga are:

  1. Havoc by David Llewellyn
  2. Partisans by Una McCormack
  3. Collateral by Lisa McMullin
  4. Assassins by Matt Fitton

(5) ANSWERING FAN MAIL. Doug Ellis posted a bit of sff history on Facebook:

Here’s a letter from Astounding Science Fiction editor F. Orlin Tremaine to Jack Darrow, an eminent fan in the 1930’s. Dated February 18, 1936, I thought Tremaine’s comment on the circulation of SF pulps, compared to detective or western, was interesting.

A scanned copy of the letter is at the link.

(6) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born January 22, 1906Robert E. Howard. Pulp writer. You knew that. Created Conan the Barbarian and Kull the Conqueror. You know that too. Spawned some truly bad films. Yes, you know that. Generally thought to have created the sword and sorcery genre. Hell you know that. So tell me something that I’m not likely to know about him. (Died 1936.)
  • Born January 22, 1932 Piper Laurie, 87. Margaret White In Carrie, Catherine Martell / Mr. Tojamura In Twin Peaks, and Aunt Em in Return to Oz
  • Born January 22, 1934 Bill Bixby. Principal casting in several genre series, first in My Favorite Martian as Tim O’Hara, a young newspaper reporter for the LA Sun who discovers that alien, and then as Dr. David Banner in The Incredible Hulk series, and in both The Incredible Hulk Returns and The Death of the Incredible Hulk films. He shows up in a number of other genre series including Fantasy IslandTales of the UnexpectedNight GalleryThe Ghost & Mrs. Muir and The Twilight Zone (original version). He also had the lead as Anthony Blake / Anthony Dorian in The Magician seriesbut as he was a stage illusionist, I couldn’t count it as genre. (Died 1993.)
  • Born January 22, 1940 John Hurt. If we count his role as Tom Rawlings in The Ghoul, Hurt had an almost fifty-year span in genre films and series. He next did voice work in Watership Down and The Lord of the Rings before appearing as Kane in Alien. Though not genre, I must comment his role as Joseph Merrick in The Elephant Man — simply remarkable. He had the lead as Winston Smith in Nineteen Eighty-Four and had a cameo as Kane in Spaceballs. He narrates Roger Corman’s Frankenstein Unbound and was one of the narrators of Jim Henson’s The Storyteller. Ok, I’m at 1994. He’s about to be S.R. Hadden in Contact. Did you remember he played Garrick Ollivander In Harry Potter films? You certainly remember him as Trevor Bruttenholm in the Hellboy films. He’s in Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull but I’ll freely admit I’ve not, nor am planning on watching, that film. Series wise, he’s been around. I’ve got him in Spectre, a Roddenberry occult detective pilot. Later he shows up voicing General Woundwort in the Watership Down series. On the Merlin live action series, he provides the voice of the Great Dragon. It’s an amazing role for him. And of course he played The War Doctor. Big Finish, the audiobook company, had the singular honor of having him flesh out his character in a series of stories that he did with them just before his death. I’ve heard some, they’re quite remarkable. You can find their complete listings here. (Died 2017.)
  • Born January 22, 1959 Linda Blair, 60. Best known for her role as the possessed child, Regan, in The Exorcist. She reprised her role in Exorcist II: The Heretic. (I saw the first, I had no desire to see the second film.)  Right after those films she started she started starring in a lot of the really bad horror films. Let’s see… Stranger in Our HouseHell Night (fraternity slasher film), GrotesqueWitcheryDead Sleep and Scream name a few. She even starred in Repossessed, a comedy parody of The Exorcist
  • Born January 22, 1965 Diane Lane, 54.I’ve got her as Ellen Aim In Streets of Fire which I count as genre. She’s Chief Judge Barbara Hershey in Judge Dredd, a film I’ll freely admit that I actually like because it catches the pop culture feel of the 2000 A.D. comics in a way the second film doesn’t. Next up for her is playing Mary Rice in Jumper. She’s been playing Martha Kent in the DC Universe films as of late.
  • Born January 22, 1970 Alex Ross, 49. Comic writer and artist. His first work was as an artist was Terminator: The Burning Earth. My favorite work is Kingdom Come was written by Mark Waid and him and painted by him.

(7) COMICS SECTION.

(8) DEL TORO CHAMPIONS BOOKSTORE BAILOUT. SYFY Wire spotlights the director’s help to rescue a bookstore: “The campaign to save horror bookstore Dark Delicacies got a huge burst from Guillermo del Toro”

The quest to save the iconic Burbank, CA horror-themed bookstore got a shot in the arm from one of the genre’s most prolific and respected filmmakers. 

Earlier this week, Del Howison, the owner of Dark Delicacies, posted a GoFundMe campaign he started with his wife, Sue, asking for help to save his business among skyrocketing rents in the Burbank metro area. Faced with rising costs, they’d expected to shutter their doors in May, just short of their 25th anniversary. That changed when a new storefront came available across the street, which the Howisons saw as their one shot to keep their “home of horror” going. 

To help their cause, Guillermo del Toro shared the campaign via his Twitter account earlier today, asking his followers to spread the word about Dark Delicacies, who are “asking for a little help in making a resurrection possible.” 

(9) DID ANYONE ASK JANE? [Item by Mike Kennedy.] Them’s fightin’ words. At SYFY Wire, contributor Charlie Brigden chimes in with an opinion piece listing eight of the variants of the Enterprise by, well, the story lists the criteria  but it’s not clear how they are weighted or how they are applied (“From one generation to the next: Ranking the Starships Enterprise”).

“It’s been a long road, getting from there to here,” croons Russell Watson in the opening titles of Star Trek: Enterprise, and you might be forgiven to think he’s talking about the lineage of starships named Enterprise.

[…] Before we begin, please note: The following starships were judged based on four main factors: their warp speed, their weaponry and tactical ability, the crew serving on them, and their aesthetic qualities. They have been loosely put into two groups based on the technology gap between the 23rd and 24th centuries, where the warp scale was reconfigured to allow for the new velocities reachable by starships. Also, neither the new Enterprise from Discovery nor the Enterprise-J have been included in this list because they’ve only been seen for a minimal time and as such the Memory Alpha entries are pretty sparse.

Brigden discusses the evaluation of each ship in 3–4 paragraphs apiece. How did they rank, you ask? (And what did Brigden call them to differentiate different variants and timelines?)

8             Enterprise (NX-01)

7             The J.J.-prise

6             Enterprise-B

5             Enterprise-C

4             The Original Enterprise

3             Enterprise-E

2             Enterprise-D

1             The Constitution-refit

(10) PLANET NINE FROM OUTER SPACE. Astronomer Mike “Pluto Killer” Brown responds to the idea that instead of a planet there might just be a ring of debris with the same mass. In “Is Planet Nine just a ring of icy bodies?” he essentially argues that a single planet is a much simpler hypothesis and that a ring would probably have already been detected if there were one.

The fact that no Planet Nine alternative was proposed for so long was a testament to the fact that it is really really hard to explain the quite good data in any other way.

Finally, however, after three years, a new hypothesis has been proposed which can at least explain the alignments without Planet Nine. The basic trick is to take Planet Nine and split it up into a massive ring of bodies on an eccentric inclined orbit like that of Planet Nine’s. Because Planet Nine’s long distance gravitational effects are mostly caused by the long term average position of Planet Nine (which is basically an inclined eccentric ring!) this ring has more or less the same effects that Planet Nine has. (For the aficionados out there, read this as “Planet Nine’s interactions are predominantly secular rather than resonant.”)

I am happy that there is finally an alternative explanation, even if that alternative is only Planet-Nine-ground-up-into-a-ring. 

So, is Planet Nine really just an eccentric inclined ring of icy bodies? 

As happy as I am to see alternative hypotheses, and as correct as I think the underlying physics of this paper is, I think it is utterly unlikely that our solar system has a massive eccentric inclined ring of material….

(11) A GIFT NOT FROM EARTH. Probably best to take care of the one you have, however, if that doesn’t work out — “Why your new heart could be made in space one day”.

Imagine a laboratory growing human hearts – and imagine that laboratory floating in space hundreds of miles above the surface of the Earth.

That may sound like science fiction, but bizarre as it seems, it could bring new hope for transplant patients within the next decade.

While about 7,600 heart transplants were carried out around the world in 2017, there’s a desperate shortage of organs, with thousands of people on waiting lists dying every year.

Efforts to grow human hearts in the lab are showing promise, but are hampered by the need for the organs to grow around a “scaffolding” to make sure they don’t collapse during the process. Reliably removing the scaffolding once the heart is complete is proving to be a challenge.

Space tech company Techshot believes zero gravity could be the answer.

(12) UNIQUE AND ANTIQUE JAPANESE FANTASY ART. “Visitors to Tokyo’s Nezu Museum display, open until February 17, are able to mark the visual evolution of the Shuten-Dôji legend (which originated in the 14th Century), from a colorful medieval handscroll to a sprawling eight-scroll illustrated epic made in the 19th Century that has never before been shown in its entirety.” “Yorimitsu and Shuten-Dôji: The drunken demon of Kyoto”.

A new exhibition looks at a legend that has gripped the Japanese imagination since the 14th Century – a myth whose graphic novel-like plot has all the makings of a Hollywood blockbuster

As the world braces itself for the unleashing later this year of another surge of comic-book sequels and spinoffs – from fresh instalments of Hellboy and The Avengers in the spring to a new chapter of the Spider-Man saga in the summer – an exhibition of Japanese scrolls in Tokyo’s Nezu Museum has me wondering just how far back the endless rebooting of superhero (and super villain) stories can be traced. A Tale of Expelling the Demon: The Shuten-dôji Picture Scroll is devoted to a popular medieval legend that for the ensuing centuries gripped the Japanese imagination – a myth whose graphic novel-like plot has all the makings of a Hollywood blockbuster.

The tale begins with news that young women are going missing from the streets of what was then the capital city, Kyoto. As the abductions accelerate, frustration mounts at the lack of evidence that might unmask the mysterious perpetrator. Desperate for answers, authorities turn to a shadowy mystic who conjures the identity of the villain responsible for the string of kidnappings: a fearsome demon (or ‘oni’) known as ‘Shuten-Dôji’ whose castle lair is hidden in a dark and forbidding mountain. The task of slaying the demon and freeing his countless captives is made all the more perilous, if not impossible, by the ogre’s ability to fly and assume the shape of any object or animal. The kingdom’s only hope is to enlist the agile mind and limber muscles of a fabled warrior, Minamoto no Yorimitsu, and his crack squad of skilled swordsmen known as the Four Guardian Kings. But can they succeed?

…Anticipating our own era’s insatiable obsession with serials, the legend of Yorimitsu quickly licensed itself into other popular myths and offshoot franchises beyond the narrative of Shuten-Dôji. Among the more thrilling of the fables associated with him is one that finds the warrior once again in chase of an airborne skull, which leads the reader through a mountain forest to the doorstep of another ferocious oni, Tsuchigumo: a Godzilla-sized spider with a tiger-like torso and striped furry legs.

(13) DELOS HARRIMAN WARNED US. Of course, he was worried about advertising on the moon. But a Russian firm has announced an ambitious plan to deploy “orbital billboards” using an array of small satellites by the early 2020s. Universe Today has the story (“Astronomers Aren’t Pleased About a Russian Plan to Put Billboards in Space”). Can we all just agree this is a terrible idea?

While the rest of us look up at the night sky, and wonder at what we’re seeing, ponder how it all fits together, and strain ourselves trying to understand how our origins are intertwined with all that we see, others don’t. They look up at the magnitude of the night sky and think none of these things.

Instead they think, “Hmmm…that’s a big, empty billboard. How can I make money from it?”

Russian company StartRocket is proposing to use Cubesats, small satellites with inexpensive launch profiles, to put billboards in space. At an altitude of about 450 km (280 miles), the satellites would unfurl a mylar sail about 9 meters (30 ft.) long. A group of CubeSats would work together to create a singe billboard, and the result would be a pixelated billboard with a viewable area of about 50 sq. km., visible in morning and evening twilight, when they catch and reflect sunlight.

(14) LATE NIGHT. Beginning about 4 minutes and 40 seconds into the interview, Sonequa Martin-Green explains “hipster Spock.”

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

BBC Audio Drama Awards 2019 Shortlist

The BBC Audio Drama Awards 2019 shortlist is light on items of genre interest.

Up for Best Actor are Derek Jacobi for The War Master 1.1 Beneath the Viscoid, a Doctor Who story from Big Finish Productions, and David Tennant in Wild Honey, a play by Chekov. Two contenders for Best Actress, nominated for non-sff roles, also have past connections to Doctor Who, Eve Myles and Mandeep Dhillon. Lastly, a production of Neil Gaiman’s Anansi Boys is a nominee for Best Use of Sound.

The winners will be revealed at a ceremony in the Radio Theatre at BBC Broadcasting House London on the evening of Sunday, February 3.

The complete shortlist follows the jump.

Continue reading

Pixel Scroll 1/12/19 I Wept Because I Had No Scrolls, Until I Met A Man With No Pixels

(1) UK COMICS FANDOM HISTORY RESOURCES. Rob Hansen has added a section to his UK fanhistory website about how SF fandom provided a breeding ground there for comics fandom. “There are photos and, of course, a multitude of links — both in the body of the article and at the end —  that may be of interest, as well as a piece by Ron Bennett on sourcing old comics in Singapore back in the day that I don’t think many in our fandom would’ve seen before” — “Comics Fandom: First Stirrings”.

There used to be a saying in science fiction fandom that “it’s a proud and lonely thing to be a fan”, and for those who imagined themselves the only fan in their location it could be lonely indeed. The birth of the first SF fan groups in the 1930s gradually changed that, but what of comics fans? There’s enough of an overlap in interest between the two that SF fandom offered them a home, but it still wasn’t comics fandom.

When the 23 year old Brian Lewis went along to the inaugural meeting of his local group, the Medway Science Fiction Fan Club, on Thursday 28th August 1952 he soon became a valued member, contributing artwork to its clubzine THE MEDWAY JOURNAL. Before the end of the decade he would begin working as a professional comic artist, so had there been a comics fandom in 1952 it’s possible Lewis might have sought that out instead. But it was to be another decade before comics fandom in these islands began slowly stirring to life.

(2) WEIRD CITY TRAILER. A glimpse of a newly available YouTube Original —

From the mind of Jordan Peele and Charlie Sanders comes WEIRD CITY, a satirical anthology set in the not-too-distant future metropolis of Weird. In this dystopian setting of our show, the middle class has completely vanished dividing Weird City into two sections: Above the Line (The Haves), and Below the Line (The Have Nots). Presiding over the denizens of the city is the strange and mysterious Dr. Negari, who weaves all of our stories together. Each episode is a topic that pertains to present day life in America and the world: social media addiction, online dating, fitness obsession, etc.. WEIRD CITY captures the unease of modern urban living, in a bizarre and peculiar lens.

(3) MCGUIRE CLASS. Cat Rambo tweeted highlights from the online writing class taught by Seanan McGuire: “Crossing Over: Moving from Fanfic to Writing In Your Own Worlds”.

(4) NOT A MASTERPIECE. Galactic Journey’s John Boston finds the new (in 1964) novel by John Brunner isn’t up to snuff: “[January 12, 1964] SINKING OUT OF SIGHT (the February 1964 Amazing)”.

The blurb for the lead story in the February 1964 Amazing says: “Once every few years a science fiction story comes along which poses—and probes—philosophical questions: for instance: What is life that Man must live it?  In a novel rich in incident, fascinating of character, John Brunner questions the essential meaning of life and death and purpose.”

That’s the pitch for Brunner’s 74-page “complete novel” The Bridge to Azrael.  The last time we saw such an editorial panegyric, the mountain labored and brought forth—well, not a mouse.  A capybara, maybe.  Anyway, a modestly capable pulp-inflected novella, Daniel F. Galouye’s Recovery Area, not exactly the promised philosophical masterpiece for the ages.  Sort of the same here, but worse: the mountain has labored and brought forth a mess.

(5) WHERE’S THE BEEF? On Facebook, Steven Barnes made an insightful comment about the working of history:

I suspect that at some point, we’ll have a meat substitute that has all the values of the real thing. About a generation after that, people will be claiming cows were pets. and a generation after that, there will be debates about what kind of utter monsters meat eaters could possibly have been.

(6) KENYON UPDATE. Sherrilyn Kenyon’s newsletter tells readers some of her books have been rescheduled at the same time her 28-year marriage is ending:

…Due to a number of events that are out of my hands and with the heaviest heart, I have to announce that Tor has decided to move several books this year, including At Death’s Door which will come out in the usual Dark-Hunter slot in September. Delaying the final Deadman’s Cross novel and moving the next Dark-Hunter title to 2020 was not something I wanted or had control over, and I know many fans will be greatly disappointed. Believe me, no one is more disappointed about this than I am, and since honesty, integrity, and transparency run thick in my DNA, I wanted to let all of you know what’s going on since there have been so many false rumors running loose lately. As many of you know, the last several years have been a very challenging and daunting time for me – both emotionally and physically.

There were so many great things that happened last year. We launched two wonderful books – Death Doesn’t Bargain and Stygian – to such great fan reception, making lists and news, and I spent a lot of 2018 on the road visiting with readers at major events and conventions across the U.S. Something I intend to do this year as well, and to go abroad to England, Australia and Portugal.

But it hasn’t all been sunshine and roses as I’m coping with the dissolution of my twenty-eight year marriage to a man I made the mistake of putting through law school by working three jobs so that he wouldn’t have to work any while he studied. A man who is now turning the skills I paid for against me as he ruthlessly lies about me and fights me for *MY* copyrights to characters, series and worlds that I had long before I ever met him (something he has admitted to on record time and again) and to books he knows he never helped to write or plot because he forbid me to even talk about my writing in front of him….

(7) SPACE ART CHALLENGE. ArtStation introduces Adobe’s space-themed art contest: “Adobe Dimension From the Moon to Mars—Apollo 50th Anniversary Challenge!”

For six decades, NASA has led the peaceful exploration of space, making discoveries about our planet, our solar system, and our universe. From October 2018 through December 2022, NASA will mark the 50th anniversary of the Apollo Program that landed a dozen astronauts on the Moon between July 1969 and December 1972 and NASA’s first crewed mission – Apollo 8 – that circumnavigated the Moon in December 1968.

Adobe is challenging you to imagine the history and future of human exploration in space to celebrate this momentous anniversary and the release of Adobe Dimension 2.1. We’re calling on you to tell the stories of past and future space missions using free 3D assets from the Adobe 3D Stock “NASA: 60th Anniversary 3D Celebration” gallery and Adobe Dimension to compose and render a space-based scene following the challenge theme: From the Moon to Mars—Apollo 50th Anniversary.

Special guest judge former NASA astronaut Nicole Stott, a veteran of four missions to the International Space Station and the astronaut who painted the first watercolor in space, will judge the submissions with the Adobe Dimension team. 

Challenge Requirements

Your challenge is to create a visually compelling scene using at least one 3D asset inspired by NASA and optimized for Dimension that celebrates NASA’s ongoing mission to pioneer the future of space exploration, scientific discovery, and aeronautics research. Whether it’s the Apollo moon landings, or future initiatives to the moon and beyond, we want to feel the wonder and pioneering spirit of the astronauts and the vehicles that take them there. You’ll also be required to composite and render your submission using Adobe Dimension 2.1, but any other software (Pixologic ZBrush, Substance Painter, Adobe Photoshop, etc.) can be used to create elements for your scene.

IMPORTANT: The final work must be submitted as a digital image. You can use any 2D, 3D techniques as long as you 1) include 1 asset from the Adobe 3D Stock “NASA: 60th Anniversary 3D Celebration gallery and 2) render the final scene in Adobe Dimension.

(8) CHOOSE YOUR OWN LAWSUIT. NBC News reports “Netflix sued by ‘Choose Your Own Adventure’ book publisher over ‘Black Mirror: Bandersnatch’“.

The publisher of the classic “Choose Your Own Adventure” books is suing Netflix, claiming the streaming service infringed on its trademarked format for the new film “Black Mirror: Bandersnatch.”

Chooseco, which was formed in 2004 to re-release several classic titles of “Choose Your Own Adventure” books originally published in the 1980s and 1990s, announced the suit on Friday.

“We have received an unprecedented amount of outreach from people who believed we were associated with the creation of this film, including parents who were concerned that we had aligned the CYOA brand they knew and loved with content that surprised and offended them,” Shannon Gilligan, co-founder and publisher of Chooseco, said in a statement.

(9) GENERAL LEE. io9/Gizmodo alerts viewers — “PSA: Stan Lee’s Last Animated Appearance Will Be Airing This Sunday”.

The late comics legend’s final animated cameo will be on Marvel’s Avengers: Black Panther’s Quest, airing this Sunday. 

When Lee passed in November, we knew that he had some cameos already recorded, and now his final one in the world of animation is preparing to air. According to Marvel.com, he’ll be playing an important but brief role in an episode of the Disney XD Black Panther series. In the episode, titled “T’Chanda”, T’Challa will learn secrets about his grandfather. During that learning experience, Lee will appear in a flashback scene set in the 1940s, where Lee plays an Army General.

(10) ROBERTS OBIT. Worldcon Business Meeting veterans can share a moment of silence after reading this obituary circulated by the American Institute of Parliamentarians.

AIP has learned that Henry Martyn Robert III, passed away on Sunday, Dec. 6, 2018, in Maryland. He was 98 years old. 

Henry was the grandson of General Henry M. Robert and the senior member of the authorship team for Robert’s Rules of Order Newly Revised (RONR). He began his association with RONR when he assisted his mother, Sarah Corbin Robert, in writing the 1970 edition, the most extensive general revision of Robert’s Rules. He has been actively involved in every edition since that time. His contributions to the parliamentary world are significant, and he will be missed.

(11) TODAY IN HISTORY.

  • January 12, 1940The Invisible Man premiered theatrically.
  • January 12, 1966 — The Batman television series made its debut.

(12) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born January 12, 1628 Charles Perrault. He was a French author and member of the Académie Française. He laid the foundations for a new literary genre, the fairy tale, with his works derived from the much earlier folk tales. The best known of his tales include Le Petit Chaperon Rouge (Little Red Riding Hood), Le Chat Botté (Puss in Boots),  Cendrillon (Cinderella), La Belle au bois Dormant (The Sleeping Beauty) and Barbe Bleue (Bluebeard). As such, his stories form many of the roots of fantasy as we do it. (Died 1723.)
  • Born January 12, 1952 Walter Mosley, 67. An odd one as I  have read his Ezekiel “Easy” Rawlins series but hadn’t  been aware that he wrote SF of which he has four novels to date, Blue Light, Futureland: Nine Stories of an Imminent Future, The Wave, and 47. There’s a Jack Kirby art book called Maximum Fantastic Four was conceived of and orchestrated by him.  Interestingly enough, he’s got a writing credit for episode of Masters of Science Fiction called “Little Brother” where Stephen Hawking is the Host according to IMdB.
  • Born January 12, 1955 Rockne O’Bannon, 64. Creator of five genre series in Alien NationCultDefianceFarscape and seaQuest. He also help write the Warehouse 13 pilot. He has also written and produced for Constantine, Revolution and V, among many other projects. (I loved Farscape and seaQuest but thought Defiance went bad fast.) 
  • Born January 12, 1957 John Lasseter, 62. Animator fired from Disney for promoting computer animation who joined Lucasfilm which eventually became Pixar under Steve Jobs. And where he directed Toy Story, A Bug’s Life, Toy Story, Cars and Cars 2. He also Executive Produced Toy Story 3 as well as Zootopia, Finding Dory and Incredibles 2.
  • Born January 12, 1960 Oliver Platt, 59. My favorite role by him is Porthos in The Three Musketeers but his first genre role was as Randy Steckle in Flatlineers and he later played Rupert Burns in the Bicentennial Man film on Asimov’s The Positronic Man. He voices Hades in Wonder Woman, not surprising given his deep voice. 
  • Born January 12, 1970 Kaja Foglio, 49. Writer, artist, and publisher. Foglio co-won the first Hugo Award for Best Graphic Story in 2009 for the absolutely stunning Girl Genius, Volume 8: Agatha Heterodyne and the Chapel of Bones, and co-won two more Hugo Awards the following years. Having won three three years running, they removed themselves from further competition.  If you haven’t read them, you’re in for treat as they’re quite amazing. Her husband Phil Foglio and colorist Cheyenne Wright do stunning work.

(13) COMICS SECTION.

(14) CUTE REFERENCE. The Atlantic’s article “The Fellowship of the Ring Finders” tells about “A website connects people who have misplaced their rings with metal detectorists who know where to look.”

Usually, stories of this variety almost always end in tears. Yet these three people found their lost rings, frantically Googling some iteration of I lost my wedding ring and stumbling upon a network of metal detectorists who help people locate their misplaced jewelry. They had found their way to the Ring Finders, a service that pairs these people with one of 430 sleuths stationed around the world.

According to the British insurance company Protect Your Bubble, 11 percent of people have lost their wedding rings in the past five years. Since wedding rings can cost upwards of $6,000, losing them can be especially painful for couples, and yet it also gives detectives adept in the art of finding lost rings a chance to intervene and be the hero.

Probably a good thing this service wasn’t available to Sauron during the Third Age of Middle-Earth!

(15) CUTBACK. News that “SpaceX To Lay Off 10 Percent Of Its Workforce” comes surprisingly soon after they’d just finished replacing the Iridium telephone satellites.

SpaceX, the pioneering space technology company led by Elon Musk, will lay off about 10 percent of its more than 6,000 employees.

The news was first reported by the Los Angeles Times.

In a statement, a company spokesman confirmed the layoff without specifying how many employees will be released.

(16) DOCTOR RUNS UP AGAINST BREXIT. Fansided asks: “Doctor Who: UNIT’s suspension – a move too far?”

One of the most controversial moments in New Year’s Day special Resolution was the suspension of UNIT. Was the removal of a major part of Doctor Who a step too far for Chris Chibnall?

Perhaps the most significant scene in Resolution was when the Doctor tried to call her friends at UNIT. Instead of reaching Kate Stewart and an organization that she’s fought alongside with for decades, she was instead forwarded to Polly at the “UK Security Helpline”.  This was when the Doctor (and the fans) were given a bit of a shock when Polly informed her:

UNIT operations have been suspended pending review.

That’s right. For the moment, at least, UNIT isn’t around to help the Doctor save the day. The reason? Well, officially, it’s because funding was withdrawn from international partners. The implied reason? Brexit. Brexit killed UNIT, or at the very least, put it into deep sleep. At least, according to Chris Chibnall.

(17) WHO SCRIPTS. Io9’s Julie Muncy learned how you can “Pass the Weekend with the BBC’s Backlog of Doctor Who Screenplays”

…it turns out the BBC Writer’s Room website features an extensive backlog of screenplays for BBC shows. Their latest post is the first episode of this past season of Doctor Who, featuring the debut of Jodie Whittaker’s Doctor.

(18) A HOLE IN SPACE. National Geographic thinks “Astronomers may have finally seen a star become a black hole”.

As dinosaurs stomped across ancient Earth more than 200 million years ago, a massive star was entering its death throes. The resulting cosmic explosion was so unusual, it left astronomers scratching their heads when its glow at last reached our planet last June.

Now, the mysterious flash may have an origin story. Based on the latest observations of the strange supernova, nicknamed the Cow, a team of 45 astronomers argues that it may represent the first time humans have captured the exact moment a dying star gave birth to a black hole.

(19) GLEANING THE STARFIELDS. NBC News tells how “Citizen scientists discover strange new world that pro astronomers missed”.

With help from a dead spacecraft [2015 Kepler data], citizen scientists just discovered an alien world that professional astronomers had overlooked.

The newfound exoplanet orbits a small red star 226 light-years away from Earth in the constellation Taurus. Roughly twice as big as Earth, K2-288Bb circles its host star in the so-called habitable zone, where liquid water and possibly life could exist.

[…] Scientists are excited about K2-288Bb not only because of the possibility that it could support life, but also because it’s unlike anything in our solar system: a solitary, midsize planet circling a star that has a nearby stellar companion.

(20) STAR TREK LINKAGE. IGN analyzes the implied promise: “Star Trek: Explaining the Picard Show’s Timeline and How It Connects to the J.J. Abrams Movies”.

Many Star Trek fans are psyched that Patrick Stewart is returning to the role of Captain Picard for an all-new TV series on CBS All Access. And while story details on the show have been scarce, we do know that it will be about the legendary character exploring the next chapter of his life some 20 years after we last saw him in 2002’s Star Trek: Nemesis.

But a recent interview with Star Trek executive producer Alex Kurtzman has revealed some interesting hints about the Picard show, even while it’s gotten some folks confused about which timeline it takes place in. Let’s nerdsplain this thing!

[…there follows much exposition, concluding with…]

So while the Picard show will take place in the traditional Prime Timeline, the producers have found a clever way to connect it to the events of the modern movies. The series is expected to debut in late 2019.

(21) LITTLEFINGER, DEAD OR ALIVE? Carl Slaughter says, “Intriguing theory.  Lots of clues.”

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

Pixel Scroll 1/2/19 A Noble Pixel Embiggens The Smallest Scroll.

(1) A STRANGER FOURTH. A creepy New Year’s countdown heralds the third season of Stranger Things.

1985 will never be the same. Stranger Things returns for a third season July 4, 2019 on Netflix.

(2) WHO SPECIAL CHALKS UP FEWER UK VIEWERS. “Ratings Low for Time-Shifted ‘Doctor Who’ Festive Special” says The Hollywood Reporter.

But its overnight viewings in the U.K. were anything but stellar, with 5.15 million tuning in on the BBC, a 22.4 percent share, according to reports, half a million less than Idris Elba’s return as Luther the same evening. The figure — which is before consolidated views have been included — marks the lowest for any Doctor Who festive special since the series returned in its modern form in 2005, and also Whittaker’s second-worst episode this season. By contrast, David Tennant’s first special landed 9.4 million overnight views, Matt Smith’s 10.3 million and Peter Capaldi’s 6.3 million. However, these were all broadcast Christmas Day.

(3) AQUAMAN. He’s doing the backstroke to the bank: “Aquaman swims past Wonder Woman at global box office, could pass Batman v Superman next “.

James Wan’s Aquaman became one of the highest-grossing DCEU films this week when it surpassed $822 million at the global box office, reports Variety.

This figure placed the feature above Patty Jenkins’ Wonder Woman, which lassoed a little over $821 million during its theatrical run in 2017. Domestically, Aquaman also broke the $200 million mark in North America, but it still needs $197 or so million to beat Wonder Woman‘s total American gross of $412 million.

(4) WU AND ARISIA. During Brianna Wu’s 2018 congressional race she focused on issues with wide appeal, and on attracting attention from major media. But the other day on Facebook she returned a fannish subject, the forthcoming Arisia convention:

If you attend Arisia, Inc. this year, I’m not going to say anything to you – but I will absolutely think less of you.

A convention that had multiple sexual predators at senior leadership levels and ignored the rape of a teenager is not a convention you should support. You cannot attend Arisia and also also support women.

I will not be buying your books. I will not support your art. I will never do you a favor.

You are the choices the [sic] make.

(5) BLACK MIRROR IN FINANCIAL TIMES. Martin Morse Wooster peeked behind the Financial Times paywall to report on their coverage of Black Mirror’s “Bandersnatch” episode.

In the December 29 Financial TImes, Shannon Bond interviews “Black Mirror” showrunners Charlie Brooker and Anabel Jones about the forthcoming episode of Black Mirror called “Bandersnatch” which will be interactive.  It’s about a choose your own adventure writer who gets trapped in “a branching set of storylines that descend down rabbit holes exploring free will and mind control.”

“‘We didn’t know what the story would be and we were like, ‘Wouldn’t that just be a gimmick?’ said Mr Brooker.

But once the pair hit upon a plot with the right themes, they were quick to embrace the opportunity, said Ms Jones,

‘It’s absolutely baked into the story this idea of freedom of choice and control and the illusion of control and the illusion of choice.  Once you’ve got that as the basic conceit and you have the protagonist and you can give them multiple endings but these endings only build to reinforce the whole, then that’s delicious,’ she said.”

They could call it “Choose Your Own Adventure–To Despair!” says Wooster. “Good times!”

(6) BEWARE THE BIRD BOX CHALLENGE. Ethan Alter, in “Netflix to Fans:  Don’t Be Like Bullock And Avoid BIRD BOX Challenge,” says that Netflix is telling fans to avoid a viral challene to do things while blindfolded just like Sandra Bullock does in BIRD BOX, saying they could hurt themselves and Bullock announced she bumped into the Steadicam several times while doing her blindfolded scenes.

(7) ROBERTS OBIT. BBC reports “Net’s founding father Dr Larry Roberts dies aged 81”

American scientist Larry Roberts who helped design and build the forerunner of the internet has died aged 81.

In the late 1960s, he ran the part of the US Advanced Research Projects Agency (Arpa) given the job of creating a computer network called Arpanet.

He also recruited engineers to build and test the hardware and software required to get the system running.

Arpanet pioneered technologies underpinning the internet that are still used today.

Dr Roberts is recognised as one of the four founding fathers of the internet along with Bob Kahn, Vint Cerf and Len Kleinrock.

The son of two chemists, Dr Roberts reportedly chose electronics as a field of study because it was more forward-looking.

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born January 2, 1920 Isaac Asimov. I can’t possibly summarise him here so I won’t. My favourite novels by him are the original Foundation novels followed very closely by his Galactic Empire series and I, Robot. I also still like the Robot series a lot and I know I’ve read a lot of his short fiction. (Died 1992.)
  • Born January 2, 1929Charles Beaumont. He is best remembered as a writer of such Twilight Zone episodes such as “The Howling Man”, “Printer’s Devil”, and the “Number Twelve Looks Just Like You”, but he also penned the exemplary 7 Faces of Dr. Lao screenplay, and The Masque of the Red Death, a horror film with Vincent Price which is rather good. (Died 1967.)
  • Born January 2, 1978 Renée Elise Goldsberry, 41. Currently Quellcrist Falconer in the Altered Carbon series with her first SF role having been Crewman Kelly on the “Vox Sola” episode of Star Trek: Enterprise. I think her only other genre appearance is as Denise Watkins in the long titled “Things to Do in New York When You Think You’re Dead” episode of Life on Mars series. I’ve read the entire Altered Carbon series but not seen the series, so how is it? 
  • Born January 2, 1979 Tobias Buckell, 40. I read and enjoyed a lot his Xenowealth series which was both both original and managed to wrap nicely. Do note that “The Alchemist and The Executioness “ novella  he wrote with the latter and is which is part of the latter’s Tangled Lands Universe is definitely worth chasing down out for reading
  • Born January 2, 1983 Kate Bosworth, 36. Not a long resume in the genre I grant you but her Lois Lane in Superman Returns certainly was impressive and she’s was recently in a series that I’m looking forward to seeing no matter how depressing it probably is, an adaptation of Len Deighton’s SS-GB, and she’s got The I-Land, a web series which sounds more horror than SF forthcoming. 

(9) FINALLY THEY TRIED SCIENCE. The popular theory about learning-by-guess was always wrong: “Why Millions Of Kids Can’t Read, And What Better Teaching Can Do About It”.

Harper attended a professional-development day at one of the district’s lowest-performing elementary schools. The teachers were talking about how students should attack words in a story. When a child came to a word she didn’t know, the teacher would tell her to look at the picture and guess.

The most important thing was for the child to understand the meaning of the story, not the exact words on the page. So, if a kid came to the word “horse” and said “house,” the teacher would say, that’s wrong. But, Harper recalls, “if the kid said ‘pony,’ it’d be right because pony and horse mean the same thing.”

Harper was shocked. First of all, pony and horse don’t mean the same thing. And what does a kid do when there aren’t any pictures?

This advice to a beginning reader is based on an influential theory about reading that basically says people use things like context and visual clues to read words. The theory assumes learning to read is a natural process and that with enough exposure to text, kids will figure out how words work.

Yet scientists from around the world have done thousands of studies on how people learn to read and have concluded that theory is wrong….

(10) OLD TECH MADE NEW. NPR “Climate Change Is Bad For Peru’s Pastures … But There’s A 1,200-Year-Old Fix”

Climate change, vanishing ice and erratic rain patterns are causing the wetlands in two Andean communities to shrink — and that’s a big problem for the communities of Miraflores and Canchayllo. The villagers depend on the puna, a set of alpine ecosystems above 13,000 feet that include grasslands and wetlands to graze sheep, cows, alpacas, llamas and vicunas — animals that provide them with their livelihoods.

Instead of looking for modern solutions to improve access to water, the villagers turned to an old one: centuries-old hydraulic systems that dot the Nor Yauyos Cocha Landscape Reserve, a state-protected natural area seven hours east of Lima. These ancient systems have been used to help irrigate the reserve’s pastures and provide nutrient-rich soil for hundreds of years.

So in 2013, the communities teamed up with scientists from U.S. nonprofit The Mountain Institute (TMI) and reserve authorities to devise plans to revive their historic waterways, including canals, lakes and reservoirs. In addition to providing water, the project would also help mitigate the effects of climate change on the landscape, which has been degraded by grazing, melting glaciers and erratic rainfall.

(11) THE SPEED OF DARK. The real world moves past Moon’s novel: “The firm whose staff are all autistic”.

Peter, Evan and Brian work at a small technology firm based by the beach in Santa Monica, testing software and fixing bugs.

On first inspection it seems like any other Los Angeles-based company, with tasteful art on the white walls and calm-inducing diffusers dotted about.

Peter describes the working atmosphere as “quiet, but fun”, and especially likes the fact that there is no pressure to socialise, while Evan says of his employers that they are “very accommodating and understanding”. Brian describes his office as “unique”.

Auticon is one of only a handful of companies that cater exclusively for employees who are on the autistic spectrum.

Formerly known as MindSpark before being acquired by German-based Auticon, the firm was founded by Gray Benoist who, as the father of two autistic sons, saw few options in the workplace that could cater for their needs.

(12) BETTER FUZZY PIXELS. “New Horizons: Nasa probe survives flyby of Ultima Thule” – BBC has the story.

The US space agency’s New Horizons probe has made contact with Earth to confirm its successful flyby of the icy world known as Ultima Thule.

The encounter occurred some 6.5bn km (4bn miles) away, making it the most distant ever exploration of an object in our Solar System.

New Horizons acquired gigabytes of photos and other observations during the pass.

It will now send these home over the coming months.

The radio message from the robotic craft was picked up by one of Nasa’s big antennas, in Madrid, Spain.

(13) THE FAR SIDE. Follow-up to a previous Scroll item: “China mission primed for landing on Moon’s far side”

China is preparing to make the first attempt at landing robotic spacecraft on the Moon’s far side.

A static lander and rover are expected to be deployed to the surface in the next day, state media reports.

The vehicles are carrying a suite of instruments designed to characterise the region’s geology, as well as a biological experiment.

In recent days, the Chang’e-4 spacecraft had lowered its orbit in preparation for landing.

At the weekend, Chinese state media said the probe had entered an elliptical path around the Moon, bringing the vehicles to within 15km (9 miles) of the lunar surface at its closest point.

Authorities have not specified the exact time of the attempt to touch down in the Von Kármán crater. But a report in the state-run China Daily newspaper suggests Chang’e-4 could begin descending on its thrusters sometime from 2-3 January.

(14) ORBITAL OBSTETRICS. The Atlantic reports a proposed experiment: “Imagine Giving Birth in Space”.

“SpaceLife Origin, based in the Netherlands, wants to send a pregnant woman, accompanied by a “trained, world-class medical team,” in a capsule to the space above Earth. The mission would last 24 to 36 hours. Once the woman delivered the child, the capsule would return to the ground. “A carefully prepared and monitored process will reduce all possible risks, similar to Western standards as they exist on Earth for both mother and child,” SpaceLife Origin’s website states. The company has set the year 2024 as the target date for the trip.

“The concept raises a host of questions—we’ll get to those later—but perhaps the most immediate may be this: Why?

(15) JEOPARDY! Direct from Andrew Porter’s living room, tonight’s sff reference on Jeopardy!

In Final Jeopardy, in “British Memoirs,” the answer was, “Before his death in 1996, this famous son wrote the memoirs “The Enchanted Places” & “The Hollow on the Hill”.

Wrong questions: “Who is Churchill?”, “Who is Christopher Tolkien?”

Correct question: “Who is Milne?” — Christopher Robin Milne

(16) HERTZ PENS COOLEST VERSE. John Hertz cheered me up after reading my complaint about a cold house —

We all of us knew you were cool,

But now it seems too you are cold.

We’ll hope that you had a good Yule

And were safe while Old/New Year change rolled.

But we still don’t see a new header,

And your scrolling voice has been scant.

Are you merely under the weather?

Or does some worse thing mean you can’t?

I join my small voice to the others

Who wish you both good and the best.

You know that if we had our druthers

You’d not go through any such test.

(17) THE VOLCANIC KIMCHI CURE. But if I need it, LAist touts “Kimchi Jjigae, The Volcanic Korean Stew That Can Kill Colds”.

When the winter sun sets before 5 p.m. and you’re nursing a nasty case of the sniffles, there’s a piping-hot Korean stew that provides the perfect antidote to illness and hunger. Huge, hearty and volcanic red, kimchi jjigae can blaze the mucus out of your body better than a Neti pot.

The Korean dish is believed by some to have originated in the mid-Joseon era, during or shortly after the Imjin Wars of 1592 to 1598, when Japan invaded Korea and brought Portuguese traders’ chili peppers with them. Others argue that the chili has been farmed in Korea for 1,500 years, after it was brought to the region millions of years ago by birds. Still others believe the chili came from China, thanks to Indian and Arab traders peddling the seeds along the Silk Road.

Whatever kimchi jjigae’s origins, it lets thrifty Korean cooks use super-ripe kimchi that’s not ideal to eat on its own. With the kimchi’s intensity mellowed by pork, tofu, gochugaru (chile pepper flakes), garlic, ginger, scallions and broth, the spicy stew has become a year-round favorite. During long, harsh winters, like the kind we have here in Los Angeles, jjigae with pork has a reputation as an almost magical antidote to winter colds….

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

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

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

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

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

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

Their list begins with —

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

* Jodie Whittaker (actor)—selected by Jenna Busch

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

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

* Janelle Monáe (musician)—selected by Clare McBride

* Ava DuVernay (director)—selected by Tricia Ennis

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

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

* Christina Hodson (screenwriter)—selected by Jenna Busch

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(11) TODAY IN HISTORY

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

(12) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

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

(13) COMICS SECTION.

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

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

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

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

Correct question: Who is L. Frank Baum?

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

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

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

which in turn refers back to —

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

Stay tuned to ROT-13 for the answers —

a) Gur Ovt Cng Obbz ol Qnzba Xavtug

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

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

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

    Fubc Zbbfr Gheq Cvr: Nznmba

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

And that’s the name of that tune!

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pixel Scroll 12/18/18 Just One Pixel Of Scrolls Is Better Than A Lifetime Alone

(1) NOT THE DOCTOR WHO CHRISTMAS SPECIAL. A nice placeholder, though. Io9 sets the frame: “Doctor Who Saves Christmas (Again) in This Adorable Holiday Short”:

Doctor Who’s Twitter account has shared a cute animated holiday short telling the story of how the Doctor (voiced by Whittaker) helped save Christmas once again this year. Narrated by Bradley Walsh (Graham), the Twas The Night Before Christmas-style tale is all about Santa getting stuck in a jam after his sleigh breaks down. Who can he possibly call to save the day? The Doctor, of course!

(2) HARD SF. James Davis Nicoll dares to tell us about “Five Works of Hard Science Fiction That Bypass the Gatekeepers” at Tor.com.

….Still, I think there’s a gap between hard SF defined so narrowly only Hal Clement could be said to have written it (if we ignore his FTL drives) and hard SF defined so broadly anything qualifies provided the author belongs to the right social circles … that this gap is large enough that examples do exist. Here are five examples of SF works  that are, to borrow Marissa Lingen’s definition:

playing with science.

and doing so with a verisimilitude that’s not just plot-enabling handwaving….

(3) MYTHCON 50. Introducing artist Sue Dawe’s logo for Mythcon 50, with the theme “Looking Back, Moving Forward.” The convention will take place August 2-5 in San Diego – register here

(4) TAFF NEWS. Avail yourself of the official Trans-Atlantic Fan Fund news – click to retrieve the PDF file: 

(5) CODE OF CONDUCT GUIDANCE. Valerie Aurora and Mary Gardiner have made available as a free download their book on Code of Conduct enforcement for those who put on conventions and conferences: “Free code of conduct enforcement book available now”.

You can now download a free book detailing how to enforce a code of conduct, “How to Respond to Code of Conduct Reports,” written by Valerie Aurora and Mary Gardiner and edited by Annalee Flower Horne. This comprehensive guide includes:

  • Basic code of conduct theory
  • How to prepare to enforce a code of conduct
  • Step-by-step instructions on how to respond to a report
  • In-depth discussion of relevant topics
  • Dozens of real-world examples of responding to reports

Valerie Aurora and Mary Gardiner were the lead authors of the Ada Initiative anti­-harassment policy, which is the basis of thousands of codes of conduct in use today. Valerie has more than 7 years of professional experience writing and implementing codes of conduct for software-related companies, venture capital firms, and non-profits.

(6) NOT GOING TO DUBLIN 2019? Then a clue as to what you’ll be missing from the Science GoH is contained in this 1/2 hour BBC interview with Jocelyn Bell Burnell. “Of course, if you are going to Dublin, then don’t listen to this,” warns SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, “as there are spoilers.”

Jim Al-Khalili talks to astronomer Jocelyn Bell Burnell. Jocelyn Bell Burnell forged her own path through the male-dominated world of science – in the days when it was unusual enough for women to work, let alone make a discovery in astrophysics that was worthy of a Nobel Prize. As a 24-year old PhD student, Jocelyn spotted an anomaly on a graph buried within 100 feet of printed data from a radio telescope. Her curiosity about such a tiny detail led to one of the most important discoveries in 20th century astronomy – the discovery of pulsars – those dense cores of collapsed stars. It’s a discovery which changed the way we see the universe, making the existence of black holes suddenly seem much more likely and providing further proof to Einstein’s theory of gravity.

(7) FILMS THAT BELONG ON YOUR LIST. Looper says these are “The Best Fantasy Movies Everyone Missed In 2018.”

With major blockbusters and huge franchises taking up most of our attention these days, it can be easy to lose track of all the great releases sneaking by under the radar but these 2018 fantasy movies are well worth seeking out…

(8) TV HISTORY. Echo Ishii revisits another sff TV classic, The Stone Tape:

The Stone Tape was a television play broadcast by the BBC in 1972.

The Stone Tape begins with a man named Peter who is head of a research team for an electronics company. Like many of the characters in Beasts, the protagonist is not a pleasant person. Peter Brock, though likely very skilled at his job, is arrogant, self-absorbed, sexist, and condescending. Whereas someof the sexism and the bigoted comments may be a representation of the realities of the the business world (and TV) at the time, you are clearly meant not to like Peter Brock as a person which only amps up the unease surrounding the main plot….

(9) HOW FAR IS IT? Far out. Like, literally Far Freekin’ Out. A newly announced minor planet is the most distant known object in the Solar System (Phys.org: “Outer solar system experts find ‘far out there’ dwarf planet”). The body’s official name is 2018 VG18, but it’s nicknamed “Farout” and it’s current orbital distance is about 120 AUs.

A team of astronomers has discovered the most-distant body ever observed in our Solar System. It is the first known Solar System object that has been detected at a distance that is more than 100 times farther than Earth is from the Sun.

The new object was announced on Monday, December 17, 2018, by the International Astronomical Union’s Minor Planet Center and has been given the provisional designation 2018 VG18. The discovery was made by Carnegie’s Scott S. Sheppard, the University of Hawaii’s David Tholen, and Northern Arizona University’s Chad Trujillo.

2018 VG18, nicknamed “Farout” by the discovery team for its extremely distant location, is at about 120 astronomical units (AU), where 1 AU is defined as the distance between the Earth and the Sun. The second-most-distant observed Solar System object is Eris, at about 96 AU. Pluto is currently at about 34 AU, making 2018 VG18 more than three-and-a-half times more distant than the Solar System’s most-famous dwarf planet.

(10) COMING YOUR WAY. The Raven Tower, Ann Leckie’s new fantasy novel, arrives February 26, 2019. “My library’s already let me reserve it,” says Daniel Dern.

(11) THE WISDOM OF P.L. TRAVERS. The Washington Post’s Jerry Griswold profiles Mary Poppins author P.L. Travers, whom he interviewed for the Paris Review, saying that Travers “was the wisest woman I’ve ever met,” a deep student of Zen, and the author of novels about Mary Poppins that are much darker than the movies. “Disney tried to erase ‘Mary Poppins’ creator P.L. Travers. She’s still more fascinating than fiction.”.

…Travers was the wisest woman I’ve ever met. She was the second Western woman to study Zen in Kyoto, part of the inner circle of the famous mystic G.I. Gurdjieff and did yoga daily (an exotic practice in the 1970s). One afternoon in her Manhattan apartment, we had a conversation that would later appear in Paris Review. She spoke about the meanings of Humpty Dumpty, how her book “Friend Monkey” had been inspired by the Hindu myth of Hanuman, the Zen expression “summoned not created,” the sacredness of names in aboriginal cultures and a spiritual understanding of the parable of the Prodigal Son. And as for linking “this store of wisdom and our modern life,” she lead me step by step through parallels between the kidnapping of Patty Hearst and the myth of Persephone. It was one of the richest afternoons of my life.

As she often did, Travers emphasized that she “never wrote for children” but remained “immensely grateful that children have included my books in their treasure trove.” She thought her books appealed to the young because she had never forgotten her own childhood: “I can, as it were, turn aside and consult it.”

(11) NASA POSTERS. Bored Panda is a bit skeptical — “Turns Out NASA Creates Posters For Every Space Mission And They’re Hilariously Awkward” – but Michael J. Walsh says, “Contrary to the headline, I think many of them are really good.”

…However, when astronauts got bored of the standard group photos they decided to spice things up a bit. And what’s a better way to do that other than throwing in some pop culture references? Fair warning the results are quite cringy, making it hard to believe that these images are actually real.

First on the list:

(12) DINJOS OBIT. Nigerian sff writer Emeka Walter Dinjos has died. Future Science Fiction Digest editor Alex Shvartsman paid tribute in “RIP Emeka Walter Dinjos”:

It is with a heavy heart that I must share the news that Emeka Walter Dinjos, a Nigerian writer of science fiction and fantasy whose novelette “SisiMumu” is featured in our first issue, passed away at the age of thirty-four on Wednesday, December 12.

Walter was admitted to the hospital a little over aweek ago, on the eve of his birthday. In his last Facebook post he shared a photo of himself in a hospital bed, writing “I once swore I would never find myself in a place like this.” He was quick to point out, “It’s just fatigue.Will probably be out in a few days.” But unfortunately he succumbed to complications related to unmanaged diabetes. Walter is survived by his siblings and extended family, to whom I extend deepest condolences on behalf of everyone at Future SF and his many friends in the SF/F community….

(13) TODAY IN HISTORY.

  • December 18, 1839 — John William Draper took the first photo of theMoon. (Say “Cheese!”)
  • December 18, 1957The Monolith Monsters hit theatres.
  • December 18, 1968 — Ian Fleming’s Chitty Chitty Bang Bang flew into theaters.

(14) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born December 18, 1913 Alfred Bester. He is best remembered for perhaps for The Demolished Man, which won the very first Hugo Award. I remember experiencing it as an audiobook— a very spooky affair!  The Stars My Destination is equally impressive with Foyle both likeable and unlikable at the same time. Psychoshop which Zelazny finished is in my library but has escaped reading so far. I’ve run across references to Golem100 but I’ve never seen a copy anywhere. Has anyone read It? (Died 1987.)
  • Born December 18, 1939Michael Moorcock, 79. Summing up the career of Moorcock isn’t possible so I won’t. His Elric of Melniboné series is just plain awesome and I’m quite fond of the Dorian Hawkmoon series of novels as well. Particular books that I’d like to note as enjoyable for me include The Metatemporal Detective collection, Mother London and The English Assassin: A Romance of Entropy
  • Born December 18, 1946 Steven Spielberg, 72. Are we counting Jaws as genre? I believe we are per an earlier discussion here. If so, that’s his first such followed immediately by Close Encounters of the Third Kind. Between 1981 and 1984, he put out Raiders of the Lost ArkE.T. the Extra-TerrestrialTwilight Zone: The Movie and Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. Ok so the quality of the last film wasn’t great… He’d repeated that feat between ‘89 and ‘93 when he put out Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade and Hook which I both love followed by Jurassic Park which I don’t. The Lost World: Jurassic Park followed along a string of so-so films,  A.I. Artificial IntelligenceMinority Report, War of the Worlds and one decided stinker, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal SkullThe BFG is simply wonderful. Haven’t seen Ready Player One so I’ll leave that up to y’all to opine on. 
  • Born December 18, 1953 Jeff Kober,65. Actor who’s been in myriad genre series and films including V, The Twilight Zone, Alien Nation, the Poltergeist series,The X-Files series, Tank Girl as one of the kangaroos naturally, SupernaturalStar Trek: Voyager, Star Trek: Enterprise, Kindred: The Embraced and The Walking Dead. 
  • Born December 18, 1968 Casper Van Dien, 49. Yes, Johnny Rico in that Starship Troopers movie. Not learning his lesson, he’d go on to film Starship Troopers 3: Marauder and the animated Starship Troopers: Traitor of Mars. Do not go read the descriptions of these films! He’d also star as Tarzan in Tarzan and the Lost City, show up as Brom Van Brunt In Sleepy Hollow, be Captain Abraham Van Helsing in Dracula 3000, James K. Polkin, and — oh really Casper — the Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter Sequels short, Rumpelstiltskin in Avengers Grimm and Saber Raine In Star Raiders: The Adventures of Saber Raine. That’s a lot of really bad film. 

(15) GOOD PLACE/BAD PLACE. At Vice, D. Patrick Rodgers believes, “The Best Thing on TV This Year Was: ‘The Good Place’.”

The unseen presence of one character has haunted The Good Place from the beginning, lingering like one of Bad Janet’s legendary farts since the very first moments of the very first episode: Doug Forcett.

As we all know — at three seasons and 35 episodes in — the afterlife hinges on a cumulative point system, with good deeds adding to an individual’s point total and bad or selfish deeds subtracting. People with high enough point totals enter The Good Place, while those who don’t make the cut do the whole burn-for-eternity thing down in The Bad Place. Despite all the twists, developments, reveals, and red herrings of the uniquely sharp and wacky sitcom, one constant has remained: that only one mortal has figured out the system, and he did it while on a mushroom trip back in 1972.

“Don’t Let the Good Life Pass You By” opens with the song of the same name by the Mamas and the Papas’ “Mama” Cass Elliott, itself a 70s artifact that portends something darker than its sunny melody suggests —that life is short, and if we’re not careful, we’ll screw it up. We watch as some as-yet-unnamed character tends to a series of mundane tasks, his face hidden from view. But there’s something familiar about that grizzled-blond shock of hair we see only from behind. It belongs to someone we know. Turns out that’s doubly true, as the head we’re looking at is that of legendary comedic actor Michael McKean in character as the aforementioned Forcett, now several decades older and committed to obtaining the requisite number of Good Place points.

(16) MEMORIAL FOR A BOT. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] Mashable brings us word that, “A delivery robot caught on fire at UC Berkeley, students then set up a vigil.” The KiwiBot was one of a fleet of over 100.

A KiwiBot, an automated food delivery robot which is present on UC Berkeley’s campus, caught fire on Friday afternoon.

In a post, the company explained the incident was due to a faulty battery which had been mistakenly installed instead of a functioning one. 

The errant battery started smoldering while the robot was idling, leading to smoke, then fire outside the Martin Luther King Jr. Student Union.

“A member of the community acted swiftly toextinguish the flames using a nearby fire extinguisher. Within moments ofthe incident occurring, it had already been contained,” the post read.

“The Berkeley Fire Department arrived shortly thereafter to secure the scene, and doused the robot with foam ensuring there was no risk of re-ignition.”

Unsurprisingly, the fire was caught on both video and stills. Pics of the subsequent candlelight memorial also appeared online. Deliveries had been taking place by the bots since 2017 but were suspended following the fire. Since then, software has been updated to more closely monitor the battery state and the fleet is back in service.

(17) MOCKERY. This is the kind of promo I’d expect from JDA or Richard Paolinelli, except you’d have to take their books, too: “Popeyes is launching ‘Emotional Support Chicken’ for stressed travelers craving fried chicken”.

On Tuesday, the chicken chain announced that it is selling three-piece chicken-tenders meals packaged in “Emotional Support Chicken” carriers at Philadelphia International Airport. The special chicken will be available as supplies last starting Tuesday at the Popeyes location in Terminal C.

Emotional-support animals have been making headlines recently, as passengers have pushed for the ability to bring increasingly bizarre companions on flights.

The number of emotional-support animals traveling aboard commercial flights has jumped 74% from 481,000 in 2016 to 751,000 in 2017, according to trade group Airlines for America. In January, a woman tried to bring an emotional-support peacock on a United Airlines flight. And, in February, another woman said Spirit Airlines told her to flush her emotional-support hamster down the toilet.

(18) NICE TRY. Somehow the trash in the Pacific is moving faster than the catcher: “Creator Of Floating Garbage-Collector Struggling To Capture Plastic In Pacific”.

Slat’s system, a 10-foot skirt attached beneath an unmoored, 2000-foot-long plastic tube, takes advantage of the wind and waves to move through the Pacific Ocean. The system aims to collect plastic from the water’s surface, which would then be picked up every few months by a support vessel and transported back to land for recycling. The garbage trap uses solar-powered lights, cameras, sensors and satellite antennas to communicate its position to Slat’s team and passerby vessels.

(19) MAYBE TOMORROW. “SpaceX And Blue Origin Scrub Rocket Launches, Dashing Hopes Of A 4-Launch Day” – NPR has the story.

Weather and other delays marred what had been anticipated as a banner day for space launches Tuesday, as both SpaceX and Blue Origin were forced to postpone launches that had been scheduled to take place within minutes of each other. Both companies say they will look at moving their launches to Wednesday morning.

(20) BANNED ARTWORK. The New York Times reports some work by international artists has been banned from a forthcoming exhibit at the Guangdong Museum of Art: “Their Art Raised Questions About Technology. Chinese Censors Had Their Own Answer.”

Artificial intelligence bots. 3-D printed human organs. Genomic sequencing.

These might seem to be natural topics of interest in a country determined to be the world’s leader in science and technology. But in China, where censors are known to take a heavy hand, several artworks that look closely at these breakthroughs have been deemed taboo by local cultural officials.

The works, which raise questions about the social and ethical implications of artificial intelligence and biotechnology, were abruptly pulled last weekend from the coming Guangzhou Triennial on the orders of cultural authorities in the southern Chinese province of Guangdong.

The artists, from Europe, Australia and the United States, were not given an official reason why their works were rejected for the show, which opens on Dec. 21 at the Guangdong Museum of Art. The pieces did not touch on the Tiananmen democracy crackdown of 1989, independence for Taiwan or Tibet or the private wealth of Chinese Communist Party leaders —topics that are widely known to be off-limits for public discussion in China.

As a result, some of the show’s curators and the affected artists havebeen left guessing as to why the works were banned. Their conclusion? The works were perhaps too timely, too relevant and therefore too discomforting for Chinese officials.

…The other banned works include “The Modular Body,” an online science fiction story about using human cells and artificial organs to create a living organism. Created by a Dutch artist, Floris Kaayk, the work is intended to raise questions about the potential for 3-D printing of human organs, about extending life with the help of technology and about the desire to design life from scratch.

(21) OUT OF THE BOT BUSINESS. Engadget reports “Sphero is done making licensed Disney bots like BB-8 and R2-D2”:

Say goodbye to Sphero’s cute BB-8 robot. In fact, say goodbye to all the company’s licensed products, including R2-D2, BB-9E and Cars’ Lighting McQueen. According to The Verge, Sphero plans to sell its remaining inventory of licensed toys, but it will no longer manufacture more once it runs out. Indeed, the products’ listings on Sphero’s website says “This is a legacy product and no longer in production.” The company isn’t just discontinuing the models, though: It’s ending its licensing partnerships completely, because it’s no longer worth dedicating resources for their production.

Sphero chief Paul Berberian explained that while the toys sold well when their tie-in movies were released, fewer and fewer people purchased them as the years went by. “When you launch a toy, your first year’s your biggest. Your second year’s way smaller, and your third year gets really tiny,” he said….

(22) ALL YOU HAD TO DO IS ASK. Rocco the parrot apparently knows how to get what he wants (BGR Media: “An intelligent parrot used Alexa to play music and order food from Amazon”).

An African grey parrot has made headlines recently for inadvertently making orders via his owner’s Amazon Echo. Originally reported via The Times of London [paywall], the parrot — whose name is Rocco — would mindlessly activate Alexa and have the virtual assistant tell jokes and play music. Rocco even tried to order a few items from Amazon, but the owner wisely had set up controls to prevent unauthorized purchases.

What makes the somewhat lighthearted story even more amusing is that Rocco previously had a stint living at the UK’s National Animal Welfare Trust (NAWT) but was kicked out — yes, kicked out — because he was swearing too much. As the old adage says, truth is stranger than fiction. Rocco was subsequently placed under the care of a NAWT employee named Marion Wischnewski whereupon he quickly started activating Alexa.

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

Pixel Scroll 12/16/18 Cold-Hearted Scroll That Rules The File, Removes The Pixels From Our Pile

(1) ROLL ELEVEN. Nicholas Whyte reviews “Doctor Who, Series 11 (or 37), 2018”, beginning with an overview, followed by comments on individual episodes:

…Overall I have enjoyed it. I don’t agree with Darren Mooney that this has been the weakest series of New Who; I really think that Series 6 (2011), which started with The Impossible Astronaut and ended with The Wedding of River Song, made much greater demands onthe viewer for insufficient payoff. However I think I will agree that the highest points of this year’s stories were not as high as those of previous New Who seasons; even Series 6 had The Doctor’s Wife. On the other hand, none of the low points was quite as awful as the 2007 Daleks in New York two-parter or the 2014 Kill The Moon. I do agree with Darren Mooney that it looks in general much much better than any series of Doctor Who ever has before. The absence of continuity (no theme music in the first episode, no Tardis interior until episode two) was disruptive but also intriguing. The new music is a welcome change (not that I hated Murray Gold, but he’s been doing it since 2004)….

(2) SON’S MEMORIES OF LE GUIN. “Ursula K Le Guin remembered by her son Theo Downes-Le Guin” in The Guardian.

One of the last trips I took alone with Ursula was to New York, in 2014, when she received a lifetime commendation from the National Book Foundation. She wasn’t enthusiastic about the travel, but the award was contingent on her presence. She snarled about this requirement for a few weeks, then allowed me to book the flights. I spent a couple of days with her before the awards, visiting her beloved sister-in-law and viewing “old friends” the Metropolitan Museum and the Frick Collection. In the indifferent and harsh light of a big city, I could see for the first time how small and frail she had become. The vitality of her mind and spirit had concealed her physical state from me. I was shaken by the realisation.

Three days into our trip, I walked her to the stage on which she delivered a speech that was, even by her high standards, fearless. With limited time, in every sense, she had decided to speak plainly to the defence of freedom that courses through her work: freedom of artistic and intellectual expression, freedom from dualism, freedom from oppressors. I’d read a draft beforehand and knew that she was delivering the speech of a lifetime. The audience sensed this as well, and for a few moments after she finished, the room crackled with love, support, excitement and (for some, I’d like to think) shame.

(3) A WINNER. Seeing the movie prompted John Scalzi to have many “Thoughts on Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse”.

2. It’s also a film where its chosen medium — animation — is exactly right for it. I think there’s a still a bit of aesthetic snobbery around animation, ironically particularly when it comes to superhero films. It’s still assumed to be a compliment if you say something along the lines of “that was good enough to have been live action.” In point of fact, this particular film wouldn’t have been better served as live action; live action and all its aesthetic requirements and expectations would have made it worse. The abstracting remove from reality that animation provides fits the film’s multiverse story and allows it to be a “comicbook film” in a way that most live-action superhero films can’t manage or look silly doing (see: Ang Lee’s Hulk).In live action, this film as it is would have come across as campy; in animation, it’s just doing its thing. This is of course more about our own expectations for live action and animation than it is about the mediums themselves. But you work with what you have.

(4) THE DRAGON CURE. After receiving an anonymous letter from a neighbor claiming that her three front-yard dragons violated the “true meaning of Christmas,” fantasy author Diana Rowland decided that the only proper response was … MORE DRAGONS!

(5) JUDGING SANTA CLAUS MOVIES. SYFY Wire’s “Ffangrrls” column examines “The best, worst and weirdest Santa Claus movies.” Good. Bad. Weird. Ffangrrls takes a look at four Santa Claus movies in each of these categories. It’s a pretty good bet that you won’t have even heard of one or more of these dozen, um, let’s say “classics.” Columnist Kayleigh Donaldson provides a trailer or clip and a fat paragraph on each:

GOOD: Miracle on 34th Street
BAD: The Santa Clause
WEIRD: Santa Claus Conquers the Martians

GOOD: Rise of the Guardians
BAD: Silent Night, Deadly Night
WEIRD: The Polar Express

GOOD: The Nightmare Before Christmas
BAD: Santa’s Slay
WEIRD: Fred Claus

GOOD: The Spirit of Christmas
BAD: The Christmas Chronicles
WEIRD: Christmas Evil

(6) SPLATTERPUNK IN ITALY.At the Horror Writers Association blog: “Revelations on the New Horror Renaissance – an Interview with Italian Author/Editor/Translator/Poet Alessandro Manzetti”.

Q. As the first Italian to be awarded the Bram Stoker Award, and as a purveyor of hard-core horror and even splatter-punk how would you describe your reception amongst your Italian peers? What inroads do you hope to make in Italy with your publishing and writing?

A. Here in Italy Splatterpunk fiction represents a small market niche (same goes for poetry, and, unfortunately, also for traditional horror fiction, excluding a few big names), anyway I have a good audience, fans of the genre follow me with great passion; they’re very fond of some of my main characters, and many of them are women (even if I write hardcore/Splatterpunk horror). Somedays ago was released, from Cut Up Publishing, my first dark psycothriller novel, ‘The Keepers of Chernobyl’, something different from what I wrote so far, and I think that this kind of works could reach a larger audience. My goal is always the same: connect myself to the readers, be their accomplice.

(7) RAMBO ACADEMY. Sign up for Seanan McGuire’s workshop: “Crossing Over: Moving from Fanfic to Your Own Worlds”.

Join prolific, award-winning, and overall amazing writer Seanan McGuire for a workshop that will discuss what writing fanfic teaches you and how you can use that in fiction involving your own worlds and characters. Using lecture, discussion, and writing exercises, Sanan will provide you with inspiration as well as the tools with which to apply that inspiration to your work.

This is a single session workshop taught on Saturday, January 12, 2019 9:30-11:30 AM Pacific time.

Cost is 199 for new students; $79 for former Rambo Academy students and Patreon supporters.

Live classes are taught online via Google hangouts, are limited to 15 participants, and require reliable Internet connection, although in the past participants have logged on from coffee shops, cafes, and even an airplane. A webcam is strongly suggested but not required. If there is an on-demand version of the class, you will be provided with a free coupon for it, so you have access to those notes.

(8) THEY’REDEAD(POOL), JIM. Aw, Jeez, he’s at it again (HuffPost:Marvel’s ‘Avengers: Endgame’ Trailer Is Even Better When Everyone Is Deadpool”).

So much Deadpool. Truly a maximum effort.

And we thought the last “Avengers” trailer was better when every character was Deadpool.

Istanbul-based digital animator Saruhan Saral has outdone himself with a new take on the recently released “Avengers: Endgame” trailer. In Saral’s latest video, voice actor Mishka Thebaud brings to life the Merc with a Mouth. 

(9) WHALE TALE. ASLE-Brasil (Association of Literature and the Environment) interviewed Craig Russell about Fragment: “Craig Russell – Literature and Ecocriticism / Literatura e Ecocrítica”:

2. Z. Can you tell us about the specific characteristics of your narratives?

C. When writing, I find it’s important for me to find at least two interesting ideas that can play off of each other in the story. So in Fragment we have not only the catastrophic events that unfold when a huge part of the three-hundred-meter thick Ross Ice Shelf is thrust out into the ocean, but also the civilization changing interactions that come from humans and blue whales learning to communicate with each other. Then, I try to put my characters in a situation they can’t escape from. (Either because of physical limitations, like the three scientists who are held incommunicado aboard the submarine; or because of a sense of duty, like when Ring, the blue whale feels he has to stay near the Fragment, to warn other blue whale pods of the danger it poses to their survival. Once they’re locked into the situation I confront the characters with problems which I don’t know the solution to, and see how (and if) they can find a way to survive. 

Some authors describe this as chasing your characters up a tree, and then throwing rocks at them.

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • December 16, 1917 Arthur C. Clarke. When I was resident in Sri Lanka courtesy of Uncle Sam in the early Eighties, nearly every American ex-pat I ran into was reading The Fountains of Paradise. I never saw him but he was well known among the small British community there. I’ll admit that I’ve not read that much by him — Childhood’s EndRendezvous with Rama  and that novel are the only long form works by him I’ve read. I’m certain I’ve read The Nine Billion Names of God collection as well. And I’ve seen 2001 myriad times but I’ve never seen the sequel. (Died 2008.)
  • December 16, 1927Randall Garrett. Ahhh Lord Darcy. When writing this up, I was gobsmacked to discover that he’d written only one such novel, Too Many Magicians, as I clearly remembered reading reading more than that number. Huh. That and two collections, Murder and Magic and Lord Darcy Investigates, is all there is of this brilliant series. Glen Cook’s Garrett P.I. is named in honor of Garrett. I’ll admit I’ve not read anything else by him, so what else have y’all read? (Died 1987.)
  • December 16, 1928 Philip K. Dick. OK, confession time. I’m not a fan of his work so the only acquaintance I’ve with him is the first Bladerunner film which I’ve watched in its various forms many times. (Died 1982.)
  • December 16, 1937 Peter Dickinson. Author who was married from 1991 to his death to Robin McKinley had a number of truly great works, both genre and not genre, including EvaThe Tears of the Salamander and The Flight of Dragons. His James Pibble upper class British mystery series are quite excellent as well. (Died 2015.)

(11) LINGUISTICS. Available as an on-demand class: Juliette Wade’s “The Power of Words”, “Everything Fantasy and Science Fiction Writers Need to Know about Linguistics at the World-building and Prose Level.”

In this class, we will discuss the study of linguistics and its relevance to genre writing. Author and linguist Juliette Wade shows how linguistics differs from the study of foreign languages, and gives a survey of eight different subfields of linguistics. She examines principles of language at levels of complexity from the most basic articulation of speech sounds to the way that language is used to participate in public forms of discourse. For each subfield, she looks at how it can be used to enhance a writer’s portrayal of characters and societies in a fictional world. After completing this examination of linguistics and its relevance to in-world languages, Wade moves to the meta-level to talk about using the principles of linguistics to hone point of view and the effectiveness of narrative language in storytelling.

(12) BUNNY TIME. Tim Goodman supplies “‘Watership Down’: TV Review” for The Hollywood Reporter.

In 1978, the film Watership Down became legendary for scaring the bejeezus out of children everywhere, drawn there by parents who either didn’t read the book or thought it would hide — not graphically triple down on — all the violence from the book. It’s funny now because so many people have harrowing stories of how that defined their early childhood.

On Christmas Day, Netflix, in a co-production with the BBC, will drop the eagerly awaited, star-studded latest version, a four-part effort that tones down the movie’s bloodshed and finds a good balance, letting Adams’ story unfold as it did in the book (with some tweaks) and suffering no loss of drama by curtailing those awful bunny screams.

Having seen the whole thing, the biggest obstacle the new version has to overcome is that the animation is decidedly flatter than what modern moviegoers are used to in the last chunk of years (decade?), and it’s often difficult to figure out which rabbit is talking or which rabbits are in peril as they fight other rabbits to survive. The saving grace to all of that, of course, is the magnificent voice cast that seems to be employing every available actor in Britain.

(13) CATCHING UP ON 2017. Lady Business delivers a blast from the past, asking contributors to recommend “Media released before 2018 that you didn’t get to until thisyear and loved.” First on the list —

Jenny

Castle Hangnail by Ursula Vernon. What a treasure. I have already yelled about that book in this space, but basically this is a gem of a middle-grade book that you’ll love if you love Eva Ibbotson. I have been responsible for at least five purchases of this book this calendar year, and three of those are me giving it as a gift for Christmas. I regret nothing.

(14) FREE READ. Vice’s Motherboard “imprint” has posted a free short story, “The Bonus,” by Liz Maier.

Two hundred extra hours of life per month, and only a few would have to be dedicated to the Company. Who would say no to not sleeping, to the bonus?

(15) APPROACHING GENRE. An NPR interview: “Lin-Manuel Miranda On ‘Mary Poppins Returns’ And Writing His Way Onstage”.

Audie Cornish: I was reading that your favorite song from the original Mary Poppins movie — maybe not favorite, maybe you have a mixed relationship with it — is “Feed the Birds.”

Lin-Manuel Miranda: [Laughing] “Openly hostile” is probably my relationship to it as a child.

I mean, that’s a little strong.

Yeah, no. I just found it so sad. The notion of this bird lady, who cares for these birds and sits on the steps of St. Paul’s Cathedral, I couldn’t bear it as a child — it was too much for me. And so, I only saw the first two-thirds of the movie many times as a kid: As soon as “Feed the Birds” came on, I would turn it off. Such was VHS technology.

If it has an equivalent in this movie — not so much that I would turn off the movie — there’s a beautiful song in our film called “Where the Lost Things Go.” Mary Poppins is singing to these children — they’ve lost their mother the year before. And she sings about it in such a smart Scott Whitman lyric, because it’s about loss and it’s about grief, but it’s also in a way that a child can understand and is not condescending, it doesn’t talk down, doesn’t baby-talk. It’s just really beautiful. If I were a kid at the time, I probably would’ve fallen apart at it.

Your character offers a kind of path of joy and advice out of that mood. I’m thinking of a song like “Trip a Little Light Fantastic.”

That’s sort of Jack’s MO, is that he sees the light in any situation. He looks for the bright side, the hope, even in a dark time or in a dark place, and it’s a lovely sentiment. It’s also eight minutes of nonstop dancing. It was one of the last numbers we shot, and we basically spent the entire movie shoot rehearsing for it.

“Trip a Little Light Fantastic” (audio only) from Mary Poppins Returns.

(16) MYTH REFURBISHED. Paul Weimer’s latest contribution to Nerds of a Feather is “Microreview [book]: In the Vanisher’s Palace by Aliette de Bodard”.

The story of the Beauty and the Beast, bound relationship to a monster as a price for a service or favor, is a story that spans the globe, and strikes at the heart of a lot of myths and tropes about family relationships, gender politics, power dynamics, autonomy, freedom, choice and a whole lot more. Beauty and the Beast is far more than dancing animated clocks and the song “Be Our Guest”. In The Vanishers’ Palace, Aliette de Bodard takes the Beauty and the Beast story in new directions, giving a strong critique of some of the tropes, interrogating others, and providing a queer friendly narrative, amongst many other strands, in a densely packed novella.

(17) SHATNER ON PARADE. Parade magazine has made their recent interview with William Shatner available online (“William Shatner on His Christmas Album, Shatner Claus, & Why Star TrekIs Still So Popular”). In the usual style of Parade interviews, breadth is emphasized overdepth. It touches on Shatner family holiday traditions, his country album Why Not Me?, recent memoir Live Long And…: What I Learned Along the Way, non-Trek movies he’s involved in, and his longstanding Hollywood Charity Horse Show.

(18) SNL. The New York Times coverage of the most recent Saturday Night Live includes two skits of genre interest.  

Several celebrity guests turned out for the final new “Saturday Night Live” broadcast of 2018, including Alec Baldwin, Ben Stiller, Matt Damon and Robert De Niro.

In the show’s opening sketch, Baldwin returned to play President Trump in a sendup of the film “It’s a Wonderful Life.”

While it’s rare to see “Saturday Night Live” offer up topical comedy in the waning moments of an episode, the show did just that in a sketch that imagined Theresa May (McKinnon), Britain’s prime minister, struggling to host a Christmas-themed talk show after having survived a party confidence vote.

As McKinnon opened the show, she said, “What a dreadful week it’s been. My Brexit deal is falling apart. I almost got voted out and no one in the world likes me at all. But it’s still Christmas so let’s try to have some cheer tonight, shall we?”

She went on to introduce guests including her predecessor, David Cameron (Damon); Elton John (Bryant); and the Harry Potter villain Lord Voldemort (Mikey Day), whom she introduced as “the one person in Britain more reviled than me.” Day apologetically resisted McKinnon’s attempts to compare her to him: “If you could maybe not lump us together, I just can’t have that be the pull-quote from this interview,” he said.

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

Pixel Scroll 12/15/18 Here Comes A Pixel To Light You To Bed, Here Comes A Scroller To Scroll Off Your Head

(1) AWFUL COMIC BOOK MOVIES. Comicbook.com calls these “The 36 Worst Comic Book Movies of All Time”. How many of these stinkers have you sniffed?

…But when you look back at comic book movie history, the genre has had more than its share of critical stinkers and box-office bombs….

32. Watchmen

Based on the DC Comics series by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons, Watchmen is set in an alternate version of the year 1985, where heroes exist and Nixon is still president. The comic gained acclaim, but movie critics were more divided.

(2) FRESH PEANUTS. The Hollywood Reporter predicts you’ll get Peanuts from Apple in the future: “Apple Lands Rights to Charlie Brown, Snoopy and Co. in New Peanuts Deal”.

DHX Media will produce the new content based on Charles M. Schulz’s beloved comic characters.

Goodgrief. After what’s being described as a highly competitive bidding situation, Apple and its forthcoming originals operation has landed the rights to new Peanuts content.

The tech giant, which has not-so-quietly been amassing a strong roster of talent and original productions that is said to start rolling out in 2019, has completed a deal with DHX Media to create series, specials and shorts featuring iconic Charles M. Schulz characters such as Charlie Brown, Snoopy and the entire Peanuts gang. DHX, the Canadian-based kids programming giant that acquired a stake in the Peanuts franchise in 2017, will produce all of the projects.

As part of the partnership, DHX Media is also going to produce original short-form STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) content that will be exclusive to Apple and feature astronaut Snoopy. DHX Media will be working closely with subsidiary Peanuts Worldwide on all efforts.

(3) WHICH WHO IS NEW WHO? It’s so easy to lose track of time when you’re dealing with the Doctor. Here Season 11 has just ended, while for Galactic Journey, tracking in 1963, Season 1 has barely begun! (And I mean the first Season 1….) “[December15, 1963] Our First Outing Into Time And Space (Dr. Who: THE FIREMAKERS)”.

So, after the first installment I was rather looking forward to this one. I curled up with a nice cup of tea and a guinea pig – the best viewing partner.

The episode picks up where it left off in An Unearthly Child, with the shot of a shadow looming over the T.A.R.D.I.S. We cut away, and get to see who’s casting the shadow: a rather grubby looking chap in desperate need of a good haircut. This is Kal, a Palaeolithic man, and contender for the leader of his tribe. Winter is fast approaching, their old firemaker is dead, and his son, Za, has no more idea of how to make a fire than any of the others. Control of the tribe will go to whomever becomes the new firemaker.

(4) THROUGH KILLYBEGS, KILKERRY, AND KILDARE. The Irish Times lists the 35 best independent bookshops in Ireland – something of interest to anyone bound for Dublin 2019 next year — “35 of the best independent bookshops in Ireland”. Cora Buhlert sent the link with a note, “I was surprised that Hodges Figgis in Dublin, which was even mentioned by James Joyce in Ulysses, isn’t on the list, but turns out they’re owned by Waterstone’s these days and no longer independent.”

(5) BRUBAKER INTERVIEW. Alex Segura on “Tales of Junkies. Fade-outs, Super-heroes, and Criminals” on Crimereads, profiles Ed Brubaker, because “when you think crime comics, Brubaker is the one of the first ones that come to mind,” not only for his work on Captain America and Batman, but also his own projects, My Heroes Have Always Been Junkies and Kill Or Be Killed.

..Aside from sheer creative control, can you talk a bit about the differences that come with writing your own characters and those that are owned by Marvel or DC, and the pros and cons of either approach?

I mean, the con is they can take something you co-create, like the Winter Soldier, and make hundreds of millions of dollars on toys and hoodies and cartoons and movies, and basically give you nothing—or nothing’s next door neighbor, if you’re lucky.

The pro is that you can have fun and make a good living as a writer while you’re doing it.

I worked really hard on stuff like DD and Cap, and I’m really proud of what me and my collaborators accomplished on those books. Stuff like Gotham Central and Catwoman was where I built some of my readership, by doing crime comics with superhero stuff in them, but ultimately, I always wanted to just write my own stories, I think, regardless of the fucked-up contracts in the superhero field.

(6) 3BELOW TRAILER. Guillermo del Toro’s 3Below:Tales of Arcadia launches on Netflix December 21.

From visionary director Guillermo del Toro and the team behind DreamWorks Trollhunters comes an epic, hilarious tale of alien royalty who must escape intergalactic bounty hunters by blending in on a primitive junk heap known as Earth.

(7) LIPPI OBIT. Urania editor Giuseppi Lippi (1953-2018) died December 14. Silvio Sosio of Delos Digital kindly granted his permission for File 770 to reproduce in English the appreciation he wrote for Italian sff site Fanascienza:

Giuseppi Lippi

Giuseppe Lippi, editor of the famous Italian magazine Urania, passed Friday, December 14. He had been hospitalized since the end of November for respiratory problems. A few days ago he was transferred in a bigger hospital in Pavia; Friday his condition worsened, and he died in the night.

Lippi was 65. Born in Stella Cilento, near Salerno, grew up in Naples. Then he studied in Trieste, where he worked with the local fandom. Later he went in Milan to work in the staff of the magazine Robot with Vittorio Curtoni.

In 1990 Mondadori hired him as editor of Urania, the monthly magazine published since 1952. He kept that position until the first months of 2018. He also wrote books and articles about the history of Urania.

He was a fine translator (notably of H.P. Lovecraft and Robert E. Howard). He recently edited complete collections of Lovecraft and Clark Ashton Smith stories. He never stopped writing columns for Robot since the first issue of the new series (2003). 

He is survived by his wife Sebastiana. The funeral ceremony will be held in Pavia December 17.

(8) TODAY IN HISTORY.

  • December 15, 1958 Frankenstein’s Daughter showed up at your local drive-in…if you lived somewhere you wouldn’t freeze to death in the cold weather.
  • December 15, 1961The Twilight Zone aired “Once Upon A Time,” which featured the legendary Buster Keaton.
  • December 15, 1978 — Alexander Salkind’s Superman – The Movie flew into theatres.

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born December 15, 1923Freeman Dyson, 95. Physicist best known in genre circles for the concept he theorized of a Dyson Sphere which would be built by a sufficiently technologically advanced species around a sun to harvest all solar energy. He credited Olaf Stapledon in Star Maker (1937), in which he described “every solar system… surrounded by a gauze of light traps, which focused the escaping solar energy for intelligent use,” with first coming up with the concept. 
  • Born December 15, 1953Alex Cox, 65. Ahhh, the Director who back in the early Eighties gave us Repo Man. And that he got a co-writer credit for the screenplay of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas before it was completely rewritten by Gilliam. No, what interests me is that he’s listed as directing a student film version of Harry Harrison’s Bill, the Galactic Hero at University of Colorado Boulder just four years ago! Anyone know anything about this?
  • Born December 15, 1963Helen Slater, 55. She was Supergirl in the film of that name,  and returned to the 2015 TV series of the same name as Supergirl’s adoptive mother. Also within the DC Universe, she voiced Talia al Ghulin in Batman: The Animated Series. Recently she also voiced Martha Kent in  DC Super Hero Girls: Hero of the Year. And Lara in Smallville…And Eliza Danvers on the Supergirl series. Me? I’m not obsessed at all by the DC Universe… other genre appearance include being on SupernaturalEleventh HourToothlessDrop Dead Diva and Agent X.
  • Born December 15, 1970 Michael Shanks, 48. Best known for playing Dr. Daniel Jackson in the vey long-running Stargate SG-1 franchise. His first genre appearance was in the Highlander series and he’s been in a lot of genre properties including the Outer LimitsEscape from MarsAndromeda (formally titled Gene Roddenberry’s Andromedaand there’s a juicy story there), SwarmedMega SnakeEurekaSanctuary, Smallville, Supernatural and Elysium.

(10) WAIT WAIT. On this episode of NPR’s Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me,The Captain arrives around the 30-minute mark: “‘Wait Wait’ For Dec. 15, 2018 With Not My Job Guest William Shatner”.

Recorded in Chicago with Not My Job guest William Shatner and panelists Roy Blount Jr., Helen Hong and Luke Burbank.

One of the greatest moments in all of cinema is William Shatner yelling “KHAAN!” in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan… so we’ve invited him to answer three questions about a different Cannes …the Cannes Film Festival.

Click the audio link above to find out how he does. (Or read the transcript, since there is one.)

(11) PERFECT HINDSIGHT. IndieWire recalls the reboot got a cool reception: “‘Battlestar Galactica’ Is Now a Classic — 15 Years Ago, Fans Thought It Was a Mistake”.

In 2003, the San Diego Comic-Con was a much less intense event than it is today, but networks and studios still saw the value of promoting new TV shows to fans. So, a few months before the premiere of the miniseries that re-launched “Battlestar Galactica,” creator Ronald D. Moore and cast members Edward James Olmos, Jamie Bamber, and Katee Sackhoff, sat on a raised platform in one of the venue’s smaller conference rooms.

They screened the trailer. And then they ate a lot of crap. Although the original “Battlestar Galactica” premiered in 1978 for just one season, the audience was rooted in debating the old version, and why the Sci-Fi Channel (as it was then known) wanted to reboot the show.

The mood did lighten a bit when Sackhoff, cast as the gender-swapped character of Starbuck, addressed how much her role would resemble the one originally played by Dirk Benedict as a womanizing, gambling, and hard-drinking rascal. She said her Starbuck was definitely not afraid of drinking, gambling, or rebelling — and, when it came to the last thing, “as long as I’m involved in the casting…” It went better than another panel held at a “Galactica” fan convention where Moore was booed.

(12) SUGGESTED REVISIONS. In a post on Facebook, David Gerrold expressed his dissatisfaction with an unnamed encyclopedia’s coverage of his career:

…That encyclopedia — well, hell, the ISFDB database will list what an author has written and that’s the original purpose of an encyclopedia, to provide facts — but the aforementioned encyclopedia is a collation of opinions, and opinions are … well, subjective.

There’s no encyclopedic entry that has the necessary understanding of an author’s process, not his mindset, not his history, not his personal experience. There’s no encyclopedia that mentions that [REDACTED] was a drunk, that [REDACTED] was an unlikable bully, that [REDACTED] was a sexual libertine who broke up marriages, that [REDACTED] was wildly inappropriate with women, that [REDACTED] was somewhere on the spectrum … etc. etc.

See, if an encyclopedic effort is supposed to be truly encyclopedic, then it should be an in-depth article about the individual as well as a survey of the work — and the survey of the work should provide more than just a casual description, it should be an attempt to discover recurring themes and ideas.

For instance, one could possibly annotate such an article with the observation that “the influence of Star Trek on Gerrold’s work is evident in that the Star Wolf trilogy can be seen as an anti-Trek, with a more recognizable military construction” or one can say, “the Dingilliad trilogy is Gerrold’s attempt to write a Heinlein juvenile, but going places that Heinlein couldn’t,” or one can say, “The Man Who Folded Himself” (still in print 45 years later) is a reworking of multiple time-travel ideas.” Therefore, “one can get the sense that Gerrold is reworking classic SF themes, updating them so he can explore the deeper possibilities.” See, that would be insightful enough to be useful to a reader trying to understand the writer as well as the work….

Not that anyone is unaware he’s speaking of John Clute’s entry about “Gerrold, David” in the Encyclopedia of Science Fiction:

…In the 1980s – a decade during which he did extensive work for television – Gerrold’s writings lost some of their freshness, and his dependency on earlier sf models for inspiration became more burdensome. The War Against the Chtorr sequence – A Matter for Men (1983; rev 1989), A Day for Damnation (1984; exp 1989), A Rage for Revenge (1989) and A Season for Slaughter (1992), with the first versions of the first two titles assembled as The War Against the Chtorr: Invasion (omni 1984) – mixes countercultural personal empowerment riffs à la Robert A Heinlein with violent action scenes as the worm-like Chtorr continue to assault Earth, with no end in sight; the Starsiders/Chigger sequence – comprising Jumping Off the Planet (2000), Bouncing Off the Moon (2001) and Leaping to the Stars (2002), all three assembled as The Far Side of the Sky (omni 2002) – is a Young Adult Space Opera whose young sibling protagonists have issues with their mysterious father, which are resolved excitedly. Other novels, like The Galactic Whirlpool (1980) and Enemy Mine (1985) with Barry B Longyear – the novelization of Enemy Mine, a film based on a Longyear story – show a rapid-fire competence but are not innovative. Chess with a Dragon (1987) is an amusing but conceptually flimsy juvenile. There is a growing sense that Gerrold might never write the major novel he once seemed capable of – not because he has lost the knack, but because he is disinclined to take the fantastic very seriously….

(13) KEVIN SMITH EXPLAINS IT ALL TO YOU. From WIRED, “Every Spider-Man in Film & TV Explained.”

Kevin Smith takes us through the history of Spider-Man in film and television, from 1978’s “Spider-Man Strikes Back” to 2017’s “Spider-Man: Homecoming.”

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