Russell T Davies Returning as Doctor Who Showrunner

Russell T Davies is coming back to take charge of Doctor Who, the show he helped revive in 2005, the BBC announced today.

Davies, who ran the show until 2009, will take over when Chris Chibnall departs next year. High on his to-do list will be picking the successor to actress Jodie Whittaker, the first female to play the Time Lord, who will leave in 2022 after the show’s 13th series, the last overseen by Chibnall.

“I’m beyond excited to be back on my favorite show,” said Davies, who resumes his role as Doctor Who prepares to mark its 60th anniversary in 2023.

In between Davies and Chibnall, Steven Moffatt helmed the show.

Davies’ return was also welcomed by Bad Wolf, the production company founded in 2015 by former BBC executives Julie Gardner and Jane Tranter. Gardner and Tranter both worked with Davies on the Doctor Who relaunch and will collaborate with him again when he returns as showrunner.

Pixel Scroll 9/21/21 I Wish They All Could Be California Scrolls

(1) DATLOW Q&A. “Curating Horror: An Interview with Ellen Datlow” conducted by Sadie Hartmann at LitReactor.

Your anthologies are all invite-only, correct?

Generally yes, unless I’m co-editing and the other editor wants to screen slush for a week or two. Nick Mamatas wanted to have a two week open reading period for Haunted Legends and so we did—and he passed on about 20 stories to me. Interestingly, although we took a few stories from that period, only one—maybe—was from someone we’d never heard of.

And the HWA anthology Haunted Nights that I co-edited with Lisa Morton had several open slots for an open reading. We had a few volunteers from HWA reading what came in and they passed a few stories on to us. The reason is that I don’t have time to read hundreds of submissions, and for a theme anthology, I don’t want dozens of rejected stories on the same theme floating around.

(2) HEAR HIM. Neil Gaiman will have a cameo role in BBC 4’s production of Lud-in-the-Mist, which will air October 30. “Visit Lud-in-the-Mist for Halloween” at SciFi Bulletin.

Doctor Who writer Joy Wilkinson has adapted the groundbreaking fantasy novel Lud-in-the-Mist into a play for BBC Radio Drama, which airs in October.

The novel by Hope Mirrlees was published in 1926 and is considered a pioneer of the fantasy genre that is all too often overlooked. Wilkinson aims to put that right – with the help of one of the book’s greatest advocates, Neil Gaiman, who has a star cameo in the production.

…Gaiman has long championed Lud-in-the-Mist as “a little golden miracle of a book” that is among his top 10 favourite novels. Wilkinson was absolutely thrilled when he agreed to play a pivotal role in the cast, which is led by Richard Lumsden, Olivia Poulet and Lloyd Hutchinson, and includes Doctor Who audio drama alumni Ellie Darvill and Jane Slavin.

(3) WALT LOVED TRAINS. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] This video (which dropped two weeks ago) has Disney historian Don Hahn join with Bill Farmer, who has voiced Goofy and Pluto since 1987, to visit Walt Disney’s train barn, which is now in Griffith Park.  Hahn and Farmer learn that Walt Disney was a major rail fan, and discuss how Disney’s love of trains helped to shape Disneyland. “Exploring Walt Disney’s Railroad Barn With A Disney Legend”.

(4) DEADLY.  This animated marvel series on Hulu is about a monkey assassin. George Takei voices one of the characters – not the title character, however. Marvel’s Hit-Monkey.

After a Japanese snow monkey’s tribe is slaughtered, he joins forces with the ghost of an American assassin, and together, they begin killing their way through the Yakuza underworld. Marvel’s Hit Monkey Season 1 premieres on Hulu on November 17, 2021, with all ten episodes. The Voice cast includes George Takei, Jason Sudeikis, Olivia Munn, Ally Maki, Nobi Nakanishi, and Fred Tatasciore.

(5) WRANGLE OVER DRAGON CON MASK POLICY. Author Michael Z. Williamson, who doesn’t favor required mask-wearing, and anyway says his medical situation precludes it, has been exchanging accusations with the Dragon Con committee where he was going to be on the program and have his usual tables to sell knives: “DragonCon: Racism, Lies, and Borderline Fraud” at The Sacred Cow Slaughterhouse.

About two weeks before event, DragonCon suddenly started posting on social media that everyone over age 2 would have to wear a mask, have proof of vaccine (except under 16 can’t get it?), or have a specific test 3 days before (and that last is ridiculous, when an attendee might stop at 12 truck stops on the way there).

Now, my political position on masks aside, I can’t wear one.  That’s literally why I was retired from the military.  Covering my face drops my blood oxygenation to COPD levels.  My wife hits every exemption there is, but good luck getting documentation that anyone considers “Acceptable.”

I inquired with both vendor relations and guest relations, and got told, “Ignore social media, we haven’t heard this and we don’t actually have a policy yet, that will be Thursday.”

Thursday rolls around and the email is, “The policy remains…”

Wait, I thought you didn’t have one yet? “Remains” means that was your policy, but you tried to pretend it wasn’t.

I told them I’d need a rollover by preference or a refund.

“Unfortunately, per policy, it’s too late for a refund or rollover.”

Yet, they were able to change their COVID policy.

So my choice was find someone to cover the show, or forfeit several thousand dollars to the poor, starving, corporate owners of DragonCon.

I withdrew as a guest, and made a public announcement to that effect. I was the 100th.  That seemed notable. In fact, by the end they lost 203 of 641 guests and professionals, or over 30%.

Now, I’m sure a case could be made in court for this being classic bait and switch, and refusing refunds or rollovers to be fraud. But I can’t state that as a fact without a court case.  It certainly smells that way, though….

He got his daughter to run his tables instead. Since the con, Williamson says this is what he’s heard:

…After the show I was told they were so very unhappy that I publicly boasted of being the 100th cancellation. Well, sorry about your feelings, but what about the feelings of 203 guests and families you screwed over by waiting for the last moment? What about the public threats to harass “plague rats” (perfectly healthy people not wearing masks) on your social media, that remained for days before being taken down?  We’re supposed to worship you, but you don’t need to respect the professionals in the field?

Then they unleashed this whopper, claiming the statement was made about me:

” there was a vendor this year who is making an incredibly racist remarks trying to sell his wares. Including things like “buy a knife from someone who speaks American” and “this is made with real metal, not ‘Chineseium’.” Worse than all of that however, was singling out another person in the vendors hall who is also selling knives. It was an Indian couple, and apparently that was why he wanted to specify that he does speak “American”, letting anyone who passed by know another vendor had people who spoke English as a second language at their table “

I’m going to explain why this is complete, unmitigated bullshit…

His explanation follows at the link.

(6) MEMORY LANE.

  • 1969 – Fifty-two years ago this week, the pilot of Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased) premiered on two different British broadcasters though it ran on ITV, the producing network. In the pilot, Hopkirk is murdered during an investigation but returns as a white-suited ghost. It was created by Dennis Spooner who had previously scripted for The Avengers and Doctor Who.  He also created Department S with Marty Berman. It starred Mike Pratt, Kenneth Cope and Annette Andre. It ran for one season of twenty-six episodes.  In the States, it was given the really awful title of My Partner the Ghost. The series was remade thirty years later and is notable as the Fourth Doctor actor had an important role in it. It’s currently available on Amazon Prime. 

(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born September 21, 1866 — H.G. Wells. Writer of The Time Machine, a novella in 1895, being his first genre work. Way, way too many genre works to list here so I’ll single out The War of The WorldsThe Island of Doctor Moreau and The Invisible Man as works by him that influenced the genre in a very noticeable manner. He also wrote an impressive amount of short fiction and non-fiction as well. (Died 1946.)
  • Born September 21, 1912 — Chuck Jones. He wrote, produced and directed many Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies cartoons starring Bugs BunnyDaffy DuckWile E. Coyote and the Road Runner among many others. His work won three Oscars, and the Academy also gave him an honorary one in 1996. He’s responsible for television adaptations of Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas! and Horton Hears a Who!, and of course Norton Juster’s The Phantom Tollbooth. Oh, and yes, Duck Dodgers in the 24½th Century. (Died 2002.)
  • Born September 21, 1947 — Stephen King, 74. I once saw him leaning up against a wall in Bangor outside his favorite breakfast spot nose deep in a paperback novel. I didn’t approach him to see what he was reading so intently. That’s how his native city treated him. Favorite by him? I’m not fond of his novels but I love his novellas and shorter fiction, so Different SeasonsFour past Midnight and Skeleton Crew are my picks. His only Hugo was a Best Related Non-Fiction Book one for Danse Macabre at Chicon IV though Carrie was nominated at Suncon, and his “Obits” novelette was nominated at MidAmeriCon II. 
  • Born September 21, 1947 — Nick Castle, 74. He  co-wrote with director John Carpenter the scripts for Escape from New York and Escape from L.A., but he’s best remembered for directing The Last Starfighter. He was Michael Myers in Halloween, a role he’d later reprise in, errr, Halloween.  His other interesting genre cred was performing the title song of Big Trouble in Little China as The Coup De Villes with Carpenter and Tommy Lee Wallace.
  • Born September 21, 1950 — Bill Murray, 71. Scrooged is my favorite film by him by a long shot followed by the first Ghostbusters film. I’m also fond of his voicing of Clive the Badger in Fantastic Mr. Fox
  • Born September 21, 1961 — Mark Allen Shepherd, 60.  Morn, the bar patron on Deep Space Nine. Amazingly he was in Quark’s bar a total of ninety three episodes plus one episode each on Next Gen and Voyager. Technically he’s uncredited in almost all of those appearances. That’s pretty much his entire acting career. I’m trying to remember if he has any lines. He’s also an abstract painter whose work was used frequently on DS9 sets. For all practical purposes, this was his acting career. 
  • Born September 21, 1983 — Cassandra Rose Clark, 38. Her contributions to The Witch Who Came in from the Cold, a serial fiction piece coauthored with Max Gladstone, Lindsay Smith, Ian Tregillis, and Michael Swanwick, are  superb. The Mad Scientist’s Daughter was nominated for the Philip K. Dick Award, and her YA novel, The Assassin’s Curse, was nominated for Young Adult Library Services Association’s Best Fiction for Young Adults. She was nominated for an Elgin Award by the Science Fiction Poetry Association for her Sacred Summer collection.
  • Born September 21, 1990 — Allison Scagliotti, 31. One of the primary cast of Warehouse 13, a show that I really, really loved. Her first first genre role was as Jayna, one of the Wonder Twins, on the Smallville series. And she showed up in a crossover episode of Eureka called appropriately “Crossing Over”.  Her last gig is as Camille Engelson on Stitchers. I’ve not seen it but it’s also gotten really great reviews. 

(8) MARVEL FIRES BENNETT. The Mary Sue reports “Marvel Fired Joe Bennett After Alleged Anti-Semitic Cartoons”.

Marvel Comics fired Brazilian artist Joe Bennett and vowed not to hire him for “any future Marvel projects,” following allegations of anti-Semitism and troubling imagery in his artwork. Bennett had previously worked for Marvel Comics for nearly thirty years, beginning in 1994.

… This isn’t the first time Bennett has seemingly attacked members of marginalized communities. He previously mocked the 2019 assault of gay journalist Glenn Greenwald by a far-right Bolsonaro supporter. And just last year, Bennett “liked” transphobic comments on his public Instagram page. He is also an outspoken supporter of Brazil’s president Jair Bolsonaro, a fascist Trump-like leader currently overseeing the devastating spread of Covid-19 throughout his country.

SYFY Wire writer Mike Avila adds:

…But here’s the question I have: Why did it take so long? This isn’t the first time Bennett has been accused of drawing offensive material. It’s not even the first time this year it’s happened. 

Back in February, he was forced to apologize after readers of his and Al Ewing’s hit Immortal Hulk series noticed that Issue #43 had a panel with a jewelry store. In the background, the name of the store is written backward and reads “Cronemberg Jewery” with a Star of David below it. The reason why the lettering was insulting is obvious. But perhaps even more offensive was the Star of David on the jewelry store’s window. It had no bearing on the story at all and there was no indication it was a Jewish-owned business. For some, it was just the perpetuation of a Jewish stereotype in that situation….

(9) SHALKA DOCTOR. [Item by Ben Bird Person.] Based on the 2003 animated serial The Scream of the Shalka, artist Lophial did this piece on Richard E. Grant’s Shalka Doctor. Source: Commission of Shalka Doctor for @DrWho42 !

(10) A DECK OF CREDENTIALS. Daniel Dern brings to our attention these Cats Bicycle Playing Cards.

This is THE deck of cards for cat lovers! Cats from Bicycle Playing Cards features illustrated cards by the renowned artist Lisa Parker. This unique playing card deck includes custom cat illustrations on every Ace, Face Card, and Joker. This deck of cards is a must-have for anyone looking to spice up their card game game night and makes the perfect gift for the cat lover in your life!

(11) IRRESISTABLE TITLE. Mark Yon reviews “The Cat Who Saved Books by Sosuke Natsukawa” at SFFWorld.

…After the death of his grandfather, Rintaro is devastated and alone. It seems he will have to close the shop. Then, a talking tabby cat called Tiger appears and asks Rintaro for help. The cat needs a book lover to join him on a mission. This odd couple will go on three magical adventures to save books from people have imprisoned, mistreated and betrayed them. Finally, there is one last rescue that Rintaro must attempt alone . . .”

If that hasn’t grabbed your attention, this book is not for you. It involves bookshops and masses of books in piles and on shelves that appear to go on forever, the descriptions of which will make a bibliophile sigh in admiration. There’s also some lovely characterisation, especially of Rintaro the acutely shy bookish teenager referred to as a hikikomori here, but also of his wise friend Sayo Yuzuki and the cat named Tiger the tabby. And credit must go here to the sympathetic translation made by Louise Heal Kawai from the original Japanese novel, first published there in 2017.

(12) MARKET NOT OPENED YET. “‘Shang-Chi’ Wins a Warm Asia Greeting. Then There’s China.”  The New York Times

Marvel released “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings” with China in mind. Simu Liu, the film’s Canadian lead actor, was born in China. Much of its dialogue is in Mandarin. The cast includes Tony Leung, one of the biggest Chinese-speaking movie stars in history.

The studio’s first Asian superhero movie is a hit, drawing praise and ticket sales in East Asia and other global markets. Perhaps the only place where the movie has not been well received — in fact, it has not been received there at all — is mainland China.

Disney, which owns Marvel, has yet to receive clearance from Beijing’s regulators to show the film in the vast but heavily censored movie market. While the reasons aren’t clear, “Shang-Chi” may be a victim of the low point in U.S.-China relations.

China is also pushing back against Western influence, with increasingly vocal nationalists denouncing foreign books and movies and the teaching of English. They have even criticized Mr. Liu for his previous comments about China, which he left in the mid-1990s, when he was a small child.

Lack of access to the world’s largest movie market could limit how much money the film makes. But in other parts of Asia, the movie has been greeted warmly by audiences for how it depicts a Chinese superhero burdened by a racist back story.

“I was really expecting the movie to be racist,” said David Shin, a Marvel fan in Seoul. “I was surprised at how well they touched upon Asian culture.”…

(13) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In the spoiler-filled “Honest Trailers:  Jungle Cruise” on YouTube, the Screen Junkies say that, like the ride it is based on, Jungle Cruise is “five percent colorful adventure and 95 percent corny jokes,” that this is the third movie (after Jumanji 2 and The Rundown) where Dwayne Johnson goes into the jungle to capture a bright, shiny object, that Emily Blunt has two Ph.D.’s–in botany and parkour, and that villain Jesse Plemons is “not exactly a Nazi, but not exactly not, see?”

[Thanks to Michael Toman, John King Tarpinian, Cat Eldridge, Ben Bird Person, Rob Thornton, Chris Barkley, Cora Buhlert, Daniel Dern, Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, Martin Morse Wooster, and JJ for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to contributing editor of the day Soon Lee.]

Pixel Scroll 9/15/21 You Load Fifteen Pixels, What Do You Get?

(1) NEW FIRST DOCTOR ANIMATION PLANNED. The next classic Doctor Who adventure to be animated using archival fragments is the opening story of the third season, “Galaxy Four”, reports the BBC.

Galaxy 4 (alternatively spelled Galaxy Four) is the mostly-missing first serial of the third season of Doctor Who, which originally aired in four weekly episodes from 11th September to 2nd October 1965.

Audio-only recordings of all four episodes have survived from this classic story, and have been used to create a brand new, fully animated story, filling the gaps alongside the original surviving Episode 3 and over five minutes of original footage from the otherwise lost Episode 4.

The Doctor and his travel companions, Vicki and Steven land the TARDIS on a planet which is on the verge of total annihilation, as it drifts too close to the three suns it orbits. Trapped on the planet with them are the Drahvins, a race of warrior women, and the Reptillian Rills.

The Drahvins want to steal the Rills spacehip to escape the planet’s death throes, and enlist the Doctor’s help, which he is forced to give when Maaga, the cunning Drahvin leader, keeps Vicki and Steven as hostage. Even though the Doctor is determined to broker a peace deal between the two sides, Maaga doesn’t trust him, or the Rills…

This two disc release gives fans the opportunity to enjoy the four new animated episodes of Galaxy Four in either colour or black and white.

(2) FIYAHCON PUBLISHES CONTENT RELEASE FORM. On the eve of FIYAHCON 2021, which begins tomorrow, the convention leadership has addressed a Twitter kerfuffle.

Kim Yoon Mi evidently was dissatisfied with some terms of the release that FIYAHCON is asking panelists to sign and aired some criticisms on Twitter. Initially, the release’s language was not being quoted, but L. D. Lewis subsequently made it available for public review. (See below.)

Here are screencaps of several of Kim Yoon Mi’s points.

Here are excerpts from L.D. Lewis’ replies on Twitter.

This preface precedes the copy of the consent form:

This is the agreement copy for the Consent Release Form sent to all panelists so they may optionally have their programming item included in FIYAHCON’s Archives. As of this writing, it has been signed without complaint by 302 panelists across both of FIYAHCON’s events, and all caveats have been respected. The document was crafted with the assistance of Marguerite Kenner, a legal expert and active participant in the SFF Community. Questions, concerns, and requests for clarity are welcome and encouraged at director@theconvention.fiyahlitmag.com.

(3) 2001 MINUS 71. Fanac.org’s latest additions include a scan of Futurian v3n1 (1940) which contains Arthur C. Clarke’s article, “How To Build A Spaceship.” Clarke thought his rocket would only cost £250,000 to build – a rather surprising bargain when compared with the cost to construct the first Queen Mary passenger ship, £3.5 million in 1934 (says the Wikipedia).

As far as I can remember, no Science Fiction author has ever had the nerve to describe a rocket propelled spaceship as it really must be. Writers such as Manning (“The Wreck of the Asteroid”) and the painstaking German authors have spoken glibly of step rockets, but they have all fallen short of reality. This article will therefore consist largely of a systematic debunking of rocketships. The amount of energy needed for any interplanetary voyage can be accurately calculated, so we know what a spaceship has to be capable of if it is to do its job. We also know the energy content of our best fuels and a simple calculation gives us the quantity of, say, hydrogen and oxygen we need for any particular journey. The result is depressing: so depressing” in fact that Science Fiction has ignored it with the same verve that enabled E.T. Snooks, D.T.G. to repeal the equally inviolable law of inverse squares. To take one ton of matter to the Moon and back requires several hundred tons of the best fuels we possess. Faced with this situation we can do one of two things. We can sit twiddling our thumbs until a better fuel comes along, or we can try and do the job with the materials we have. Course one is not likely to get us very far…

(4) NATIONAL BOOK AWARDS LONGLISTS. The National Book Awards Young People’s Literature longlist includes these titles of genre interest.

  • Home Is Not a Country, Safia Elhillo (Make Me A World)
  • A Snake Falls to Earth, Darcie Little Badger (Levine Querido)
  • Too Bright to See, Kyle Lukoff (Dial)
  • The Mirror Season, Anna-Marie McLemore (Feiwel and Friends)

The judges are Pablo Cartaya (presenter), Traci Chee, Leslie Connor, Cathryn Mercier (chair), and Ibi Aanu Zoboi.

The National Book Awards 2021 Longlist for Translated Literature includes one book of genre interest:

  • On the Origin of Species and Other Stories by Bo-Young Kim. Translated by Joungmin Lee Comfort and Sora Kim-Russell

The complete longlists are at the link. Five finalists in each category will be announced October 5. The winners will be revealed on November 17. Finalists receive a $1,000 prize, a medal, and a judge’s citation. The winners will receive $10,000 and a bronze sculpture.

(5) YA RATINGS SITE DOA. The YAbookratings.com site has been taken down since Foz Meadows unloaded on it the other day. Meadows’ thread, which includes some screencaps of what she reacted to, starts here.

(6) WORRIED ABOUT LIFE ON EARTH. The New York Times profiles the Tennessee author whose novel is on the Booker Prize shortlist: “Richard Powers Speaks For the Trees”. (No relation to the sff artist of the same name.)

…He was hiking in the woods nearby one day when he had the idea for his new novel, “Bewilderment,” which W.W. Norton will release on Sept. 21. Set in the near future, “Bewilderment” is narrated by Theo Byrne, an astrobiologist whose search for life on other planets feels increasingly futile in the face of the coming collapse of life on Earth. As he struggles with the disasters unfolding around him, Theo fears for his 9-year-old son, Robin, who is consumed by grief over the death of his mother and the fate of the planet.

The novel is shaping up to be a literary prize contender and was named to the Booker Prize shortlist on Tuesday. “Bewilderment” marks Powers’s latest and perhaps furthest foray into science fiction, but it has ominous echoes of contemporary America — catastrophic weather, political unrest, a Trump-like president who tweets erratically and spouts conspiracy theories about election fraud, a deadly virus that jumps from cows to humans and spreads rapidly before it gets detected….

(7) ELLISON’S ICONIC HOME. Tim Kirk posted photos of Harlan Ellison and a visitor admiring the “Aztec Martian” facade of Harlan’s home which was designed and sculpted by Tim’s brother Steve Kirk. Also at the link, a shot of Steve and Tim inside Harlan’s study; Steve sculpted the “Robot Deco” totems visible in the foreground.

(8) MEMORY LANE.

1965 – On this evening fifty six years ago on CBS, Lost in Space first aired. It was created and produced by Irwin Allen whose previous SF show was Voyage to the Bottom of The Sea. Its main cast was Guy Williams, June Lockhart, Mark Goddard, Marta Kristen, Bill Mumy, Angela Cartwright and  Jonathan Harris. Oh, and The Robot was played by Bob May and voiced by Dick Tufeld. It was designed by Robert Kinoshita who did the Robot for Forbidden Planet. It would last three seasons of eighty three episodes. A Lost in Space film with a new cast would later happen, as well as a rebooted series. 

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born September 15, 1890 — Agatha Christie, or to give her full name of Dame Agatha Mary Clarissa Christie, Lady Mallowan, DBE (née Miller). ISDB lists her Harley Quin tales as being genre as they think the lead character is supernatural though no reviewers I can find think that he is. Anyone here who has read them? They also list one Hercule Poirot story, “The Big Four”, as genre as it involved apparently the use of atomic explosives in a 1927 story.  I’ll admit that I love her Murder on the Orient Express in all its film incarnations no matter who plays the lead role. (Died 1976.)
  • Born September 15, 1940 — Norman Spinrad, 81. The only novel I’ve read by him is Bug Jack Barron. My bad. And I was fascinated to learn he wrote the script for Trek’s “The Doomsday Machine” episode which is an amazing story. It was nominated for a Hugo at Baycon. So how is that he’s never won a Hugo? He did get nominated for quite a few Hugos, the “Riding the Torch” novella at Aussiecon One, Staying Alive: A Writer’s Guide  at L.A. Con II, Journals of the Plague Years at Noreascon 3 and  Science Fiction in the Real World at Chicon V. 
  • Born September 15, 1942 — Chelsea Quinn Yarbro, 79. Best known for her series of historical horror novels about the vampire Count Saint-Germain. She has been honored with the World Fantasy Award for Life Achievement, a Living Legend Award from the International Horror Guild Award and a Bram Stoker Award for Life Time Achievement. Very impressive indeed.
  • Born September 15, 1946 — Oliver Stone, 75. Jeopardy! answer: Oliver Stone. Jeopardy question: Who was the scriptwriter for the Conan the Barbarian? Yeah, isn’t that a kick? He has several genre credits one being the executive producers of the Wild Palms series, and the same for The Hand, a horror film about a comic book artist gone horribly wrong.
  • Born September 15, 1946 — Howard Waldrop, 75. I think that The Texas-Israeli War: 1999 which he wrote with Jake Saunders is my favorite work by him, but I’ve not read Them Bones. His short fiction such as “The Ugly Chickens” which won the World Fantasy and Nebula Awards is most excellent. He just won a World Fantasy Award for Lifetime Achievement. A generous selection of his work is available at the usual digital suspects. 
  • Born September 15, 1952 — Loren D. Estleman, 69. You’ll have noticed that I’ve an expansive definition of genre and so I’m including a trilogy of  novels by this writer who’s better known for his mainstream mysteries featuring Amos Walker which are set in the  Sherlock Holmes Metaverse, Sherlock Holmes vs. Dracula, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Holmes and The Devil and Sherlock Holmes. I think it was Titan Book that maybe a decade ago republished a lot of these Holmesian pastiches of which there are more than I want to think about. ISFDB lists two other novels by him as genre, Journey of the Dead and The Eagle and the Viper.
  • Born September 15, 1946 — Tommy Lee Jones, 75. Best known as Agent K in the Men in Black franchise, he’s has done other genre, the first being in Batman Forever as Harvey Dent / Two-Face. He’s also Colonel Chester Phillips in Captain America: The First Avenger as well. He most recently appeared as Cliff McBride in Ad Astra.  Oh, and he’s in A Prairie Home Companion as Axeman. 
  • Born September 15, 1962 — Jane Lindskold, 59. My first encounter with her was the Zelazny novel she finished,  Donnerjack. It’s excellent though how much it’s Zelazny is open to debate which we did the last time I posted her Birthday. Of her own novels, I recommend The Buried Pyramid, Child of a Rainless Year and Asphodel as being very good.

(10) COMICS SECTION.

  • Bizarro shows a distant world where the movie theaters are open.

(11) GENESIS STORIES. The Salt Lake Tribune profiles four comics sellers in “How Utah’s independent comic book stores champion fandom, literacy and fantastic storytelling”.

Charles Prows was a Utah State University student in May 2013 when he decided to open a comic book store.

The almost lifelong Utah resident was on a road trip with his brother one weekend, complaining to his brother about the long path ahead: finishing his undergraduate degree and veterinary school, starting his own practice and — eventually — making enough money to retire and open a comic book store.

“That’s a really roundabout, weird way to open a comic book store,” his brother said.

His brother “ended up convincing [him]” that he should drop out of school and chase his real dream, Prows said. And he did just that — jumping in with only a few hundred dollars to his name….

(12) FINAL EXAM. James Gunn’s last book was released this summer: The Reading Protocols of Science Fiction: Discourses on Reading SF.

“The invitation came online, probably an e-mail. I was aware of the existence of SFF.net, a website that specialized in discussions of science fiction issues, often by authors who were too impatient to get their opinions published in the SFWA Bulletin, which got published every two months and was the battleground for some classic debates and sometimes name-calling… The invitation was to join a discussion–in midstream–about the protocols for reading science fiction. One of the exchanges online included a reference to the fact that I had written about the protocols in a recent article… I didn’t read the website regularly, mostly because I didn’t have time; these were busy days for me, both teaching and publishing, and my days as president of SFWA and then of SFRA were long over, and the debates were still raging about mostly the same issues. But the debates about the protocols of reading science fiction were still fresh and the discussion about them, if they existed, was still fresh. And the discussion was brisk and sharp, particularly from Damon Knight, with whom I had an interesting relationship since I had read his fiction and his critical opinions… We had met in a bar at the World Science Fiction Convention…”

And so begins James Gunn’s definitive and fascinating study of the reading protocols of science fiction — the way readers read science fiction differently than other kinds of fiction. (Or, do they?) The journey may seem academically dry, but is anything but, as it involves all sorts of beloved personalities and brawling debates about reading, writing, the very definition of science fiction itself, and what sets it apart from other fiction, and, ultimately, what makes us what we are as humans.

The lively debate involves Damon Knight and many other professional science fiction writers and critcs. The book includes Samuel R. Delany’s key essay on the subject, and several by James Gunn, to thoroughly explore the subject.

This is James Gunn’s last book, finished just before his death, and a most fitting capstone to his incredible career, all carefully put together with his friend and associate, Michael R. Page.

(13) DOROTHY DISAPPEARS. If they only had a heart. Litigation forces a DC-area brewer to rename its best-known beer. The Washington Post tells the story: “Oz forces 7 Locks Brewing beer name change”.

There’s something poignant about the new name for an old beer made by Rockville’s 7 Locks Brewing. What was originally known as “Surrender Dorothy” is now simply called “Surrender.” The Wicked Witch won and 7 Locks had to throw in the bar towel.

In this case, it was Turner Entertainment that was no friend of Surrender Dorothy. Its lawyers dropped a house on 7 Locks Brewing’s effort to trademark the name of their signature beer. (I think I may have mixed metaphors there.) “Basically, Turner owns the rights to ‘The Wizard of Oz,’” said Keith Beutel, co-founder of 7 Locks. “They claimed that we were using the term ‘Surrender Dorothy’ and they didn’t want any confusion with their branding.”…

(14) UNOFFICIAL COMPANION. A Kickstarter appeal has been launched to fund publication of Across Time and Space: An Unofficial Doctor Who Companion by Unbound.

Across Time and Space is a beautifully designed, 800-page paperback containing reviews of every televised Doctor Who story up to the present day. It is based on a blog called The Patient Centurion started by the writer Tony Cross in 2011, which now runs to over 200,000 words. The book includes an introduction from Doctor Who podcast host, Sunday Times bestselling author and all-round good guy Daniel Hardcastle

It is an unofficial book not in any way associated with the BBC – this is a project by a fan for the fan community . We hope it will encourage some fans to follow Tony’s journey and start watching all 852 episodes in order . . .

Everyone that pledges at the standard level will receive a copy of the book and other perks. At this writing they’ve raised $4,815 of the $32,557 goal.

(15) GIVE YOUR ANSWER IN THE FORM OF A HAT. “Helen Mirren to Host ‘Harry Potter’ Quiz Show for WarnerMedia”The Hollywood Reporter has the story.

The Oscar-winning actress has been tapped to host four-part competition series Harry Potter: Hogwarts Tournament of Houses for WarnerMedia. The previously announced series, which marks the 20th anniversary of the first film in the Harry Potter franchise, will air first on Cartoon Network and TBS before making its debut on HBO Max at a date to be determined.

“I knew someday I’d get a Harry Potter role, and I’m so pleased to take part in the 20-year film celebration,” Mirren said. “The films inspired such enchantment and wonder for so many of us, and it will be such a treat to reignite that magic for the countless fans who continue to revel in this spellbinding world.”

(16) DRAGON, PARTY OF FOUR. The Associated Press says it will happen tonight: “4 will circle Earth on 1st SpaceX private flight”.

SpaceX’s first private flight will be led by a 38-year-old entrepreneur who’s bankrolling the entire trip. He’s taking two sweepstakes winners with him on the three-day, round-the-world trip, along with a health care worker who survived childhood cancer.

They’ll ride alone in a fully automated Dragon capsule, the same kind that SpaceX uses to send astronauts to and from the International Space Station for NASA. But the chartered flight won’t be going there.

Set to launch Wednesday night from Kennedy Space Center, the two men and two women will soar 100 miles (160 kilometers) higher than the space station, aiming for an altitude of 357 miles (575 kilometers), just above the current position of the Hubble Space Telescope….

(17) THE PAST THROUGH YESTERDAY. DUST presents “Atropa” Episode 1.

When Off-World Officer Cole Freeman finds the missing research vessel ATROPA, he discovers an inconsistency in the ship logs. He wakes the crew from hypersleep, and they soon find themselves caught up in a much bigger mystery. Series Description: A troubled Off-World cop, running from his past, finds himself slammed directly into it when he boards the mysterious spaceship ATROPA.

(18) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In “The Netflix Executive Tutorial” on Screen Rant, Ryan George plays Netflix executive Perry LaCroix, who explains all the advantages of being an executive at Netflix. Your deltoids get a good workout from all the bags of cash you’re carrying around. Everyone is your friend as you throw hundreds at them, “You get very familiar with the anguished cries of former CEOs” who leave pleading voice mails.  But is it possible you could be replaced by an ATM that says “yes” on the front?

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, rcade, N., Michael J. Walsh, Rich Lynch, SG Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Andrew Porter, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, and Michael Toman for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to contributing editor of the day Kip Williams.]

Pixel Scroll 9/3/21 If It Doesn’t Scroll Naturally, File It

(1) MASSIVE DOCTOR WHO POLL. Herald of Creation today finished releasing the results of its poll of the best Doctor Who episodes, a Twitter marathon that began in July with number 296 “The Battle of Ranskoor av Kolos” (a Thirteenth Doctor episode, unfortunately.) Here are the top five, with apologies that WordPress won’t display single tweets. (And since Herald of Creation revealed them in last to first order, that shuffles things up, too.)

(2) ELIZABETH BEAR MEDICAL UPDATE. In an open Patreon post, Elizabeth Bear announced she’s been diagnosed with cancer: “The good news is that I’m a writer and I already own 75 pairs of pajamas.” Wishing her the best of care.

This is one of those bad news but not the worst news posts, which is to say that I’ve been diagnosed with early stage breast cancer and am in the process of scheduling surgery and radiation for it.

This means that The Folded Sky will probably be a little delayed, because at least two months of my life are going to vanish in a puff of waiting rooms and lasers. The good news on that front is that I’m working on the copy edits for The Origin of Storms right now and those should be handed back very soon. And I think I’ll get the short story I’m working on finished by deadline, too…

Don’t fret about me too much: I’ve got a great care team and a great group of local family and friends, and the odds are in my favor. The survival rate for early detected breast cancer is 99% these days.

I expect to be crushingly bored and annoyed and somewhat terrified for three months or so, and then suffer through biannual mammograms for the rest of my life, however long that is….

(3) MEMORY BOOK. A Kickstarter appeal has been launched to fund a limited edition hardcover book of art by the world famous fantasy and science fiction artist, Rowena — Paintings and Drawings by Rowena by Kim DeMulder.

The magically amazing artwork of Rowena is known to people everywhere in the world. She painted literally hundreds of book covers and illustrations for many different publications. She won many awards during her career, including the British Fantasy Award for Best Artist in 1984, and was a four-time Hugo finalist for Best Professional Artist. Her professional peers made her a 1999 Chesley Award nominee. And the World Fantasy Conventions awarded her a lifetime achievement award in 2020.

Sadly, Rowena passed away in February 2021 and the art world experienced a profound loss.

And that means, of course that there will be no more Rowena art produced…ever. However, legends never die and here is the opportunity to keep her legend alive. This new book of her artwork contains many pieces that were never published before. And will also include several pieces that were never published in Rowena’s previous art books. Over 100 pages of paintings and drawings and even some poetry are contained within this hard cover volume.

 This beautiful book is being lovingly designed and edited by Kim DeMulder, who had lived with Rowena for approximately the last 18 years.

(4) DOES YOUR CON NEED HELP? Speculative Literature Foundation is still taking applications for their Convention Support Grants.  It’s a rolling grant – the first recipients were announced last month.

This has been a difficult year for the conventions that have long been the lifeblood of our field. The SLF is pleased to announce a new Convention Support Grant for 2021-2022.

We’ll be giving out $10,000 over the course of the year, in grants of $500 – $1000 each, to science fiction and fantasy conventions. (Literary conventions that have significant speculative literature content are also welcome to apply.)

These grants are intended to support conventions both in developing their online presences (through the purchase of tech, training costs, hosting costs, etc.) and making in-person gathering safer once it’s appropriate, perhaps in the last quarter of 2021 (through purchase of cleaning supplies, masks, renting additional rooms for better spacing, etc.). Non-profit organizations preferred.

Applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis. Open for submissions: Conventions taking place between January 1 and May 31, 2022, application period: August 15 – September 15, 2021

Please visit our website for more specific information on the application process: https://speculativeliterature.org/convention-support-grant/

(5) L’AUDACE L’AUDACE TOUJOURS L’AUDACE. “The French military’s newest weapon: science fiction writers” says Literary Hub.

…Essentially, reports Le Monde and WorldCrunch, the French Military of Defense is working with the University of Paris Sciences and Lettres to train their military on sci-fi-esque ideas. The science fiction writers, already in the business of thinking of futuristic technology and social innovations, come up with futuristic scenarios that could possibly endanger France between 2030 and 2060. Once the sci-fi writers, called the “Red Team,” fact-check with “The Purple Team,” academics working in AI and tech, and the “Blue Team,” military, the military uses those ideas as practice scenarios.

…A little surprisingly, a fraction of the scenarios are made available for public consumption on the Red Team’s website; the two scenarios currently on the site are “The Sublime Door Opens Again,” a world where hypervelocity missiles have caused armies to design shields that can cover a whole city, and “Chronicle of an Announced Cultural Death,” a world where communities have siloed themselves into “safe spheres”.

The Red Team also has a YouTube channel filled with what are essentially commercials for themselves.

(6) IN A HOLE IN THE GROUND. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster, Designated Financial Times Reader.] In the August 28 Financial Times (behind a paywall), Lorien Kite discusses a vacation she took with her family in Iceland, organized by Black Tomato “Take me on a Story” based on Jules Verne’s Journey To The Centre Of The Earth.

The action begins almost as soon as we make it through the melee of duty-free shopping and Covid-related bureaucracy at Keflavik arrivals only to be greeted by our guide for the next four days, Arnar Olafsson.  Outside, loading the vehicle, we find an envelope wedged under the windscreen wiper, which opens to reveal a letter with certain words rendered in Scandinavian runes together with part of a runic-to-roman key–though not a big enough part for us to make much headway. Later, after we are dropped off at our base for the first two days, the stylish Hotel Husafell near the Lankjokull glacier, a parcel including the missing section is delivered to our door.

The packages keep coming, all containing puzzles or messages that whet the appetite for the next day’s activities and sustain the narrative of a mysterious uncle with the initials “GH” who has discovered a way to the centre of the Earth and is now on the run:  It’s a kind of treasure hunt, borrowing from the 1959 and 2008 films as well as from the book.

(7) DHALGREN IN DEPTH. On Samuel R. Delany’s Dhalgren, edited by Bill Wood, and put together with a great deal of assistance from Delany himself, will be released by Fantastic Books on September 9.

This book—full of reviews, critical essays, and in-depth analyses of Dhalgren as a novel, and as commentary on life and the world—is an excellent companion to the novel itself. There are also discussions of how to read the novel, and clues to unraveling some of the mysteries hidden therein. Dhalgren is a difficult novel to read—playing with the reader’s perception through the use of circular text, interior echoes, multistable perception, and repeated imagery—but it is a worthwhile read. The book includes nine full-color illustrations (and more spot black-and-white illos), as well as an essay on “The Making of Hogg,” Delany’s infamous and nearly unpublishable novel.

Samuel R. Delany is the winner of two Hugos and four Nebula Awards. He has been honored with lifetime achievement awards, including SFWA’s Grand Master, the Eaton Award, the Lambda Pilgrim Award, and the Gaylactic Spectrum Award, and was inducted into the Science Fiction Hall of Fame. Dhalgren, his most popular and most controversial novel, was first published in 1975. It was nominated for the Nebula Award, remains in print to this day, and has sold close to two one million copies in a variety of editions.

Contributors include Douglas Barbour, Mary Kay Bray, Rudi Dornemann, Harlan Ellison, Robert Elliot Fox, Jean Marc Gawron, Kenneth R. James, Gerald Jonas, John Nizalowski, Steven Paley, Darrell Schweitzer, Steven Shaviro, K. Leslie Steiner, Theodore Sturgeon, and Samuel R. Delany himself.

The table of contents is on the publisher’s website.

(8) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

  • 2003 – Eighteen years on this date, Seven Seasons of Buffy: Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers Discuss Their Favorite Television Show was published by BenBella Books. It’s a look by Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel by genre writers who are very obviously fans of those series. I won’t list all of the authors and their essays who are here so I’ll single out just a few such as David Brin who wrote “Buffy vs. the Old-Fashioned ‘Hero'”, Laura Resnick’s “The Good, the Bad, and the Ambivalent” and Sherrilyn Kenyon “The Search for Spike’s Balls”. It’s available should you want to read it from the usual suspects for a mere four dollars and ninety nine cents. 

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born September 3, 1940 — Pauline Collins, 81. She played Queen Victoria in the Tenth Doctor story, “Tooth and Claw”, a most excellent tale, but she first showed up on Who over thirty years earlier as Samantha Briggs in “The Faceless Ones”, a Second Doctor story. She’s appears in Tales of the UnexpectedThe Three Musketeers, Julian Fellowes’ From Time to Time film and the Merlin series. 
  • Born September 3, 1943 — Valerie Perrine, 78. She has an uncredited role as Shady Tree’s sidekick in Diamonds Are Forever, her first film appearance. Her first credited film role is as Montana Wildhack in Slaughterhouse-Five. She’s Eve Teschmacher in Superman and Superman II. She showed up as Tins in “The Three Little Pigs” episode of Faerie Tale Theatre, and was April Flowers in “Who’s Who: Part 3” of Ghostwriters.
  • Born September 3, 1943 — Mick Farren. Punk musician who was the singer with the proto-punk band the Deviants. He also wrote Hawkwind lyrics who several genre writers have included in their novels.  His most well-known genre work was the The Renquist Quartet about an immortal vampire. His late Eighties novel The Armageddon Crazy was set in a post-Millennium States dominated by fundamentalists who toss the Constitution away. (Died 2013.)
  • Born September 3, 1954 — Stephen Gregg. Editor and publisher of Eternity Science Fiction which  ran 1972 to 1975 and 1979 to 1980. It had early work by Glen Cook, Ed Bryant, Barry N Malzberg, andrew j offutt and Roger Zelazny. (Died 2005.)
  • Born September 3, 1959 — Merritt Butrick. He played Kirk’s son, David, in The Wrath of Khan and again in The Search for Spock. Note the very young death. He died of toxoplasmosis, complicated by AIDS to be precise. (Died 1989.)
  • Born September 3, 1969 — John Picacio, 52. Illustrator who in 2005 won both the World Fantasy Award for Best Artist and the Chesley Award for Best Paperback Cover for James Tiptree Jr.’s Her Smoke Rose Up Forever. He won the Hugo for Best Professional Artist at LoneStarCon 3 and at CoNZealand. He’s nominated this year for the same Award. 
  • Born September 3, 1974 — Clare Kramer, 47. She had the recurring role of Glory, a god from a hell dimension, that was the main antagonist of the fifth season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. She’s been a lot of horror films including The Skulls IIIThe GravedancersThe ThirstRoad to HellRoad to Hell, Big Ass Spider! and Tales of Halloween

(10) COMICS SECTION.

(11) SUSANNA CLARKE Q&A. “Susanna Clarke: ‘Neil Gaiman’s The Sandman taught me to be courageous in writing’” in The Guardian.

The book I wish I’d written
The Man Who Was Thursday by GK Chesterton. It’s an extraordinary novel, funny and clever. It is subtitled A Nightmare. But it’s an odd sort of nightmare – one where terror keeps dissolving into cheerfulness (which is the opposite way round from most nightmares, and from a lot of contemporary fiction). Chesterton describes scenes and objects and colours with an almost heraldic vividness – or, looked at another way, as if they were pages in a modern graphic novel. He makes London feel like a fairytale, which to him I think it was. I have read The Man Who Was Thursday many, many times, but I still don’t understand it. I’ll keep going.

A word of warning: it is a book of its times. There are no women characters. Well, there might be one, but she says three things and vanishes immediately….

(12) DUELING KAIJU. John Scalzi’s tweet  brings to mind something I saw during the 1986 Worldcon, possibly in the same hotel. (How many downtown Atlanta hotels have these glass-walled elevators?)  Quote follows.

…At other times, the illusion of flight and the view of other elevator cars hurtling past inspired new fannish stunts. Late Friday night the car I was riding stopped at the 38th floor, admitting Jerry Pournelle and Barbara Clifford. Seconds later, another car stopped beside us on the 38th floor. Staring from its window was a 3-foot-tall inflatable Godzilla held upright by two laughing fans. Both elevators left the 38th floor together, and raced downward on a parallel course. Like a tailgunner sighting bogies through his perspex dome, Pournelle jackhammered his arms from the recoil of imaginary twin-.50s and yelled, “Die, monster, die!” Godzilla’s bodyguards imitated Jerry and they shot each other down into the lobby….

(13) MORE NEWS. Petréa Mitchell returns to the con reporting field with the launch of her new Substack newsletter SMOF News. Issue 1 is live here.

SMOF News aims to be a newsletter covering fan conventions and related topics of interest. Please send your press releases, your news tidbits, and your outraged letters to smofnews@gmx.com.

Each issue will have 4 parts:

  1. Discussion of the big news of the week. If there is no big news, the space will be filled by editorializing, helpful tips for congoers, Q&As, or whatever else seems appropriate to the moment. Like this introduction, for instance.
  2. News in brief from around the convention world.
  3. Convention listings for the next five weekends.
  4. One interesting link that may or may not have anything at all to do with geek fandoms.

Newsletters will be published every Wednesday evening, Pacific Time.

(14) OCTOTHORPE. Episode 39 of the Octothorpe podcast is now up.  John Coxon, Alison Scott, and Liz Batty are at their computers for the first time in ages, and spend awhile catching up on locs before talking about convention COVID-19 policies. Listen here: “Bar Cookies”.

(15) HOME WEET HOME. “Meet The Women Who Live In Real-Life Disney Houses” is an aggregation of Instagrams and Tik-Tok videos with framing comments at The Refinery, if you want to satisfy your curiosity.

On TikTok, the hashtag #disneyhouse currently has over 120 million views. Here, you can see everything from handles shaped like the talking doorknob in Alice In Wonderland to princess beds to Aladdin rugs to doors decaled to look like Boo’s from Monsters, Inc. In recent years, much has been made of ‘Disney adults’ – often childless millennials with an all-consuming love of Walt’s wares. Disney adults subtly dress like Disney characters, they holiday in the parks multiple times a year and they fill their homes with Disney décor. 

(16) TEN PERCENTER. Powell’s Books has picked a list of 50 Books for 50 Years. I’ve read five. (Sometime I’m going to make my own list so for once I can have a good score.)

Which books have foretold the present, lit our paths, warned us back, egged us on? What books stand with us now, reflecting the present?

Read why we picked each of these remarkable volumes of fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and comics for our anniversary list — and share your favorites with us using the hashtag #50Books50Years.

(Click for larger image.)

(17) MADE OF CHEESE. The moon, maybe, the movie for sure. Moonfall comes to theaters February 4, 2022.

In Moonfall, a mysterious force knocks the Moon from its orbit around Earth and sends it hurtling on a collision course with life as we know it. With mere weeks before impact and the world on the brink of annihilation, NASA executive and former astronaut Jo Fowler (Academy Award® winner Halle Berry) is convinced she has the key to saving us all – but only one astronaut from her past, Brian Harper (Patrick Wilson, “Midway”) and a conspiracy theorist K.C. Houseman (John Bradley, “Game of Thrones”) believes her. These unlikely heroes will mount an impossible last-ditch mission into space, leaving behind everyone they love, only to find out that our Moon is not what we think it is.

(18) VIDEO OF THE DAY. Mark Hamill talks to Star Wars Coffee about his role in The Mandalorian. This is actually quite interesting and only four minutes long.

[Thanks to Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Ian Randal Strock, Michael Toman, John King Tarpinian, and Cat Eldridge for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to contributing editor of the day Jack Lint. Or Kendall. I’m not sure.]

Pixel Scroll 8/21/21 Marvel’s Pixels Of S.C.R.O.L.L.

(1) NEW SOLUTION FOR X. Louisiana convention CONtraflow X has been cancelled for 2021 due to the pandemic, and been rescheduled to 2022.

Some unfortunate news to pass on- CONtraflow Faithful, Friends, and Fen- with the recent Delta-Variant COVID-19 surge not yet peaking in our region and after working with/looking at all of our options with our host hotel and city/parish/state leadership, the board of directors of CONtraflow has come to the following conclusion. We must once again postpone/reschedule CONtraflow X. Pandemic conditions and restrictions, as they currently are and will be for the foreseeable future, make it next to impossible to host the convention in even a close approximation to what you all expect from a CONtraflow. Our only responsible, reasonable, and possible choice is to reschedule CONtraflow X….

(2) UK PROZINE LAUNCHES. ParSec Digital Magazine – Issue 1 has been released by PS Publishing, which announced plans for the new title after failing to acquire Interzone. See the table of contents at the link.

(3) FOURTH DOCTOR CONFESSES. “Tom Baker: ‘I didn’t know what to do with Doctor Who’” he tells Radio Times.

Tom Baker first played the Doctor almost 50 years ago – and to hear the acting legend tell it, he’s never really stopped.

“I got it right out of the blue,” he tells RadioTimes.com of his 1974 casting as Jon Pertwee’s Doctor Who replacement. “There we were, and I thought… I didn’t know what to do with it. And I still don’t know what to do with it! Because of course, the problem is it’s not really an acting part. In fact, I don’t really do acting parts, because they just embarrass me.

“I try to inhabit these kind of crackpot people who I play, and find a crackpot niche in my crackpot brain… I slot them in and off we go!”

…From storytelling structure to music and sound design, these new stories – adapted from Hinchcliffe’s initial ideas by writer Marc Platt – seek to recapture the flavour and feel of Doctor Who’s Hammer Horror-influenced TV outings from the 1970s. Recapturing his performance wasn’t a problem for Baker, chiefly because he claims playing the Doctor wasn’t for him a performance at all.

(4) HORROR POET. “Life Between This World and the Next: An Interview with Poet Corrine De Winter” at the Horror Writers Association Blog.

On the latest HWA Horror Poetry Blog, Bram Stoker winning author Corrine De Winter shares thoughts on the craft of poetry, being mentored by William Packard and discusses an upcoming new volume of verse “Awakening Persephone.”

(5) ON THE RADIO. A short audio SF play that filers might like, recommended by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie: BBC Radio 4 – Angst!, Gaia

Gaia.  It’s a job, cleaning the fusty man’s laboratory.
But a job that could hold the fate of humanity in the balance….

In today’s ‘zeit’, the ‘geist’ is everywhere – environmental catastrophe, conspiracy theories, populism, fake news, the age of the algorithm, nationalism, racism, social exclusion. Not to mention pandemics.

As the world teeters on the edge of various self-made apocalypses, Angst! takes a satirical sideways look at our own naked fears. Five separate but connected half-hour ‘what if?’ stories all told under the watchful eye of the enigmatic Timor Greer.

What if the planet is, in reality, a single sentient organism, intent on ridding itself of the poisonous human parasites living on its surface? And what if a way is found to communicate with this ‘intelligence’? And what if the person put in charge of negotiations is a refugee cleaner from Darfur?

(6) TORRID TOURISM. [Item by Darrah Chavey.] Clearly an SF poster, and should have been a book cover! This really was produced by NASA, but I had no idea they had an “Exoplanet Travel Bureau”. “55 Cancri e: Skies Sparkle Above a Never-Ending Ocean of Lava”. This poster from the NASA Exoplanets Exploration Program’s Exoplanet Travel Bureau was recently Wikipedia’s Picture of the Day.

A global ocean of lava under sparkling, silicate skies reflecting the lava below: what better choice for an extreme vacation? Planet Janssen, or 55 Cancri e, orbits a star called Copernicus only 41 light years away. The molten surface is completely uninhabitable, but you’ll ride safely above, taking in breathtaking views: the burning horizon, Janssen’s sister planet Galileo hanging in a dark sky, and curtains of glowing particles as you glide across the terminator to Janssen’s dark side. Book your travel now to the hottest vacation spot in the galaxy, 55 Cancri e.

(7) MEMORY LANE.

  • 1982 – Thirty-nine years ago, the animated film Flash Gordon: The Greatest Adventure of All premiered on NBC as produced by Filmation who did The New Adventures of Superman and Star Trek: The Animated Series. It was written by Samuel A. Peeples whose first season script, “Where No Man Has Gone Before”, was actually the one that sold Paramount on that series. It was produced by Don R. Christensen who did illustrations for such comic book titles as Donald Duck, MagnusRobot Fighter, and Uncle Scrooge. Critics consider this movie one of the most faithful adaptations of the original Flash Gordon material. IMDB reviewers give an excellent seventy seven percent rating. Oddly there’s no rating at Rotten Tomatoes. 

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born August 21, 1872 Aubrey Beardsley. Best remembered for his often highly erotic art, ISFDB lists him as having a genre novel, The Story of Venus and Tannhäuser, which bear one of the longest subtitles I’ve encountered (“The story of Venus and Tannhäuser in which is set forth an exact account of the manner of State held by Madam Venus, Goddess and Meretrix under the famous Hörselberg, and containing the Adventures of Tannhäuser in that Place, his Repentance, his Journeying to Rome, and Return to the Loving Mountain”). He has two genre novellas as well, “Catullus: Carmen Cl.“ and “Under the Hill”.  And yes, he was just twenty-five when he died of tuberculosis. (Died 1898.)
  • Born August 21, 1888 Miriam Allen deFord. Almost all of her genre fiction was published at Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction under the editorship of Anthony Boucher. It can be found in two collections, Xenogenesis and Elsewhere, Elsewhen, Elsehow. Her “A Death in the Family” story was adapted in Night Gallery‘s second season. Other than scattered short stories, nothing’s available at the usual suspects. (Died 1975.)
  • Born August 21, 1911 Anthony Boucher. Rocket to the Morgue is of course a really great read. If you can find a copy, The Compleat Boucher: The Complete Short Science Fiction and Fantasy of Anthony Boucher is a most excellent read. Fortunately The Compleat Werewolf and Other Stories of Fantasy and Science Fiction is available at the usual suspects and it’s quite delicious. Award-wise, he would win Hugos at Solacon (1958) and the next year at Detention for Best Professional Magazine for his editing of F&SF. (Died 1968.)
  • Born August 21, 1943 Lucius Shepard. Astounding Award for a Best New Writer winner of 1985. His Life During Wartime  is one seriously weird novel. And his World Fantasy Award winning The Jaguar Hunter is freaking amazing as are all his short collections. I don’t remember reading “Barnacle Bill the Spacer” which won a Best Novella Hugo at ConFrancisco. (Died 2014.)
  • Born August 21, 1953 Rev Ivan Stang, 68. Best known as the author and publisher of the first writings of the Church of the SubGenius. He’s credited with founding the Church with friend Philo Drummond in 1979. ISFDB only lists “The Scepter of Praetorious” as genre but really isn’t the entire Church genre? (Ducks really quickly to avoid anything thrown at him.)
  • Born August 21, 1956 Kim Cattrall, 65. Gracie Law in John Carpenter’s amazing Big Trouble in Little China. She also played Justine de Winter in The Return of the Musketeers, Paige Katz in Wild Palms, Lieutenant Valeris in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country and Linday Isley in Good v. Evil. Series wise, she was one offs in Tales of the Gold MonkeyLogan’s RunThe Incredible Hulk and The Outer Limits
  • Born August 21, 1968 Carrie-Anne Moss, 53. I first saw her as Tara McDonald in the Dark Justice series. Not genre, just her first video I think. She later played Monica Howard in the “Feeding the Beast” episode of Forever Knight as her first genre role. Oddly enough her next role was as Liz Teel in the Canadian series called Matrix which has nothing to do with the Matrix film franchise where she’s Trinity. Her latest genre role was playing Jeryn Hogarth in the now defunct Netflix based Marvel Universe, most notably Jessica Jones. She reprising her Trinity role in the forthcoming Matrix 4 film.
  • Born August 21, 1975 Alicia Witt, 46. Her first role was at age eight as Alia Atreides in David Lynch’s Dune. She next, genre wise at least, voices Caitlin Fairchild in the animated Gen¹³ film which I’ve not seen but want to. She has series one-offs in Twilight ZonePerson of InterestElementaryThe MentalistWalking DeadSupernatural and The Librarians. She showed up in an episode of the original Twin Peaks and reprised that role nearly thirty years later in Twin Peaks: A Limited Event Series. She had a recurring role in The Exorcist series as Nikki Kim.

(9) COMICS SECTION.

(10) THE CAPTAIN WHO FELL TO EARTH. “Capt. Janeway” is joining the cast of the remake of The Man Who Fell to Earth.  No, she will not be playing the David Bowie role. Gizmodo has the story.

…Mulgrew is just the latest in an increasingly impressive list of additions to the cast of the adaptation of Walter Tevis novel and inspired by the iconic 1976 film adaptation by Nicolas Roeg. The movie starred the legendary and dearly missed David Bowie as Thomas Jerome Newton, an alien being who comes to Earth from his devastated homeworld, Anthea, in search of water supplies that could save the planet from a deadly drought. Mulgrew joins Chiwetel Ejiofor, who will play the new alien being who has fallen to earth in a time of great upheaval for humanity, and Naomie Harris in the main cast, alongside Sonya CassidyClarke Peters, and Jimmi Simpson. All this goes a long way to saying we’re not quite sure it can live up to Bowie’s turn, but even then, it’s clear Showtime’s taking a big swing at attempting to follow up on Roeg’s and the music icon’s take on Tevis’ work….

(11) METAVERSE TRAITOR! Alexandra Petri thinks it’s a bad idea to tell office workers they’re characters in the metaverse! “Do you ever think … that Facebook’s virtual-reality office is stupid?” in the Washington Post.

… “Do you ever think …” a voice said from what sounded like Greg’s right. Greg turned his cartoon avatar to look in the direction of the voice, “ … that maybe the Metaverse is a stupid waste of everyone’s time?

The voice was coming from a cartoon avatar of a bald man in small, 2000s-era sunglasses and a trench coat, although the trench coat only extended to his waist because everyone’s avatars stopped there, so it looked more like a trench jacket….

(12) ‘SHIPS AHOY. Sarah Z does a very thorough investigation of the “Proshippers” and “Antishippers” in a wide variety of fandoms:

…All of these is an undercurrent of something… more. Something beyond just the basic aspect of pairing two characters together. Because no matter how simple a fictional character pairing may seem, the truth is that it is almost never that simple. There is almost always going to be discourse of some kind, be it because people find the ship offensive, because they find it unappealing, or because they don’t like the people doing  the ship itself. And soon what happens is that the very basic concept of shipping two characters becomes the breeding ground for something deeper and darker and messier. It brings you into the world of proshippers and antis….

(13) BOMBADIL AWAY! And an older vid of Dominic Noble’s:”The coolest character in LOTR that didn’t make it into the movies” — and it’s not Tom Bombadil.

The Lord of the Rings adaptations were amazing, but no film can include EVERY character from the book. In this video we take a look at five creations of J. R. R. Tolkien that didn’t make the cut, including the coolest one of all.

(14) TIME DILATION. “Vacation Warp Speed, Mr. Sulu!” “Let’s Get the Hell Out of Here!” In “Why Time Slows Down When We’re Afraid, Speeds Up as We Age, and Gets Warped on Vacation” we revisit a 2013 Brain Pickings post. (Just how old does that feel to you?)

…Among the most intriguing illustrations of “mind time” is the incredible elasticity of how we experience time. (“Where is it, this present?,” William James famously wondered“It has melted in our grasp, fled ere we could touch it, gone in the instant of becoming.”) For instance, Hammond points out, we slow time down when gripped by mortal fear — the cliche about the slow-motion car crash is, in fact, a cognitive reality. This plays out even in situations that aren’t life-or-death per se but are still associated with strong feelings of fear. Hammond points to a study in which people with arachnophobia were asked to look at spiders — the very object of their intense fear — for 45 seconds and they overestimated the elapsed time. The same pattern was observed in novice skydivers, who estimated the duration of their peers’ falls as short, whereas their own, from the same altitude, were deemed longer.

Inversely, time seems to speed up as we get older — a phenomenon of which competing theories have attempted to make light. One, known as the “proportionality theory,” uses pure mathematics, holding that a year feels faster when you’re 40 than when you’re 8 because it only constitutes one fortieth of your life rather than a whole eighth. Among its famous proponents are Vladimir Nabokov and William James. But Hammond remains unconvinced…

(15) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In “The Stunt Man Tutorial” at Screen Rant, written by Ryan George. Samuel Brisson plays stunt man Chuck Fluster, who’s trying to be Tom Cruise’s stunt double and knows he’ll hear from Tom soon because whoever runs tomcruise at gmail.com asked for his Social Security number!  And if you need a stunt man to wrestle in a Planet of the Apes movie, Chuck’s ready!

[Thanks to Andrew Porter, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, Jennifer Hawthorne, Darrah Chavey, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Michael Toman, John King Tarpinian, Cat Eldridge, and Mike Kennedy for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to contributing editor of the day Ingvar.]

Pixel Scroll 8/20/21 Curse You, Pixel Scroll, For Your Sudden But Inevitable Betrayal

(1) HOW DRAGON CON IS HANDLING COVID. Atlanta’s Dragon Con, being held September 2-6, devotes an entire webpage to the COVID-related attendance rules at “Updates – Dragon Con”.

Today they also sent members an informational email which says they’re considering offering onside testing (for a fee, see below) to facilitate compliance with their entry requirements.

All 2021 attendees will need to provide proof of full vaccination – OR – a negative Covid-19 test that has been administered within 72 hours of badge pickup. 

Please see our updates page at https://www.dragoncon.org/updates/ for additional details on all health and safety guidelines including the indoor mask mandate.

We are currently working with an outside vendor to potentially offer onsite testing to attendees for a fee of $25 – $40 collected directly by the provider…. 

(2) SHATNER Q&A. In the Washington Post, Michael Cavna has a chat with Shat, because William Shatner is going to be a guest at Awesome Con (the Washington, D.C. media con) this weekend. Shatner shares news on his latest projects, including his new album Bill and spending five days with StoryFile “for interactive conversational-video technology” so fans can ask questions of the William Shatner hologram! “William Shatner, at 90, keeps seeking that next personal frontier”.

…Shatner, a veteran performer of spoken-word tunes, has an album due out next month simply called “Bill.” Some of the songs are inspired by events in his life, and his collaborators included They Might Be Giants songwriter-musician Dan Miller.

He also enjoyed teaming with the L.A.-based company StoryFile to spend five days recording answers for interactive conversational-video technology. He was filmed with 3-D cameras so his words can be delivered via hologram.

The idea, he says, is that people will be able to push a button and ask questions of a virtual celebrity — like “asking Grandpa questions at his gravestone,” but with technologically advanced replies.

(3) JOB APPLICANT. “Babylon 5 boss has ‘contacted’ BBC over Doctor Who showrunner job” reports Radio Times.

Last month, Babylon 5 creator J. Michael Straczynski threw his hat into the ring to become the new Doctor Who showrunner, tweeting his interest in replacing Chris Chibnall when the latter steps down in 2022.

And now Straczynski has issued an update on the situation, revealing that contact has been made with the BBC about the soon-to-be vacancy for Doctor Who showrunner.

Replying to a fan who asked what the situation was on Twitter, he wrote, “Contact with the BBC has been made. They’re going through their own process, which began before my tweet, and that has to run its course, but if those don’t pan out and there’s a discussion to be had, they will reach out.”…

(4) OUT OF JEOPARDY! Meanwhile, Jeopardy! jettisoned Mike Richards as the replacement host after some troubling quotes from his old podcast were publicized. The Hollywood Reporter has the story: “Mike Richards Out as ‘Jeopardy!’ Host After Podcast Comments”. Whether this reopens LeVar Burton’s candidacy remains to be seen.

…Sony released the following statement which confirmed that Richards will continue on as the show’s executive producer, if not as Alex Trebek’s successor: “We support Mike’s decision to step down as host. We were surprised this week to learn of Mike’s 2013/2014 podcast and the offensive language he used in the past. We have spoken with him about our concerns and our expectations moving forward. Mike has been with us for the last two years and has led the Jeopardy! team through the most challenging time the show has ever experienced. It is our hope that as EP he will continue to do so with professionalism and respect.”

Sony also confirmed the episodes Richards shot on Thursday will still air during the upcoming season as scheduled, followed by a rotation of guest hosts until a new permanent host is selected….

(5) MAGAZINE DEBUTS. The first issue of Witch House, a new magazine of cosmic and gothic horror, is now available.

Witch House Issue 1 is now available. You can download it here. This issue includes several great stories and poems. Thanks to Chase Folmar (Associate Editor), Luke E. Dodd (Associate Editor), and all our great contributors for helping us release this issue. We hope you enjoy it!

(6) SCHASCARYZADE. Netflix dropped a trailer for Nightbooks, with Krysten Ritter.

Scary story fan Alex must tell a spine-tingling tale every night — or stay trapped with his new friend in a wicked witch’s magical apartment forever.

(7) BUTLER BIO. “Octavia E. Butler Biography Reveal: Star Child by Ibi Zoboi”Gizmodo previews the cover at the link. The book will be released January 25; it’s available for preorder now.

An author as distinctive as Science Fiction Hall of Fame member Octavia E. Butler (KindredThe Parable of the Sowerdeserves an equally distinctive biography—which is exactly why Ibi Zoboi’s Star Child: A Biographical Constellation of Octavia Estelle Butler is so exciting. Described as “a poignant biography in verse and prose,” the book, which is aimed at middle-grade readers but is truly universal, explores Butler’s childhood and how it informed her award-winning, influential literary career.

Zoboi—a National Book Award finalist for her YA novel American Street—actually studied with Butler at the Clarion Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers’ Workshop before Butler passed away in 2006. Star Child showcases Butler’s “own words and photos of documents from her childhood,” bolstered by Zoboi’s research on Butler’s papers at Los Angeles’ Huntington Library. 

(8) LISTEN IN. Stephen Graham Jones, who’s already won several awards this year, will do an author talk about his book My Heart is a Chainsaw on August 31 at 7:00 p.m. Mountain time. Free livestream, register here.

(9) MURPHY OBIT. Jill Murphy, author of the Worst Witch series of children’s books, died August 18. The Guardian has a profile: “Jill Murphy, children’s author and illustrator, dies aged 72”.

… Murphy started writing The Worst Witch while still at school, completing her first manuscript at the age of 18. Her mother once commented that Murphy and her two friends looked like witches in their dark school uniforms, which gave the author the idea for her first book.

Murphy initially struggled to publish her first novel, as many publishers at the time worried that children would find the book about witches too frightening. But the tale of clumsy young witch Mildred Hubble and her adventures at Miss Cackle’s Academy stole the hearts of generations of children, selling more than 3m copies and becoming one of the most successful Young Puffin titles.

Murphy’s books went on to win many major awards, including the Smarties prize for The Last Noo-Noo. Peace at Last and All in One Piece were both commended for the Kate Greenaway Medal. She was also an honorary fellow of Falmouth University….

(10) MEMORY LANE.

  • 1974 – Forty seven years ago at Discon II where andrew j. offutt was Toastmaster, Arthur C. Clarke won the Hugo for Best Novel for Rendezvous with Rama. Other nominated works that year were Robert A. Heinlein’s Time Enough for Love, Larry Niven’s Protector, Poul Anderson‘s The People of the Wind and David Gerrold‘s The Man Who Folded Himself. It was a popular choice as it would also win a BSFA, John W. Campbell Memorial Award, a Locus Best Novel Award and a Nebula Award. 

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born August 20, 1883 Austin Tappan Wright. Did you know that Islandia wasn’t published when he was alive? His widow edited his fifteen hundred page manuscript for publication, and following her own death in 1937 their daughter Sylvia further edited and cut the text yet more; the resulting novel, shorn of Wright’s appendices, was published in 1942, along with a pamphlet by Basil Davenport, An introduction to Islandia; its history, customs, laws, language, and geography, based on the original supplementary material. Is there a full, unedited version? (Died 1931.)
  • Born August 20, 1932 Anthony Ainley. He was the fourth actor to play the role of the Master, and the first actor to portray the Master as a recurring role since the death of Roger Delgado in 1973. He appeared in eleven stories with the Fourth through Seventh Doctors.  It is noted that enjoyed the role so much that sources note he even stayed in character when not portraying The Master by using both the voice and laugh in social situations. (Died 2004.)
  • Born August 20, 1943 Sylvester McCoy, 78. The Seventh Doctor and the last canon Doctor until the modern era of the official BBC Doctors when they revised canon. He also played Radagast in Peter Jackson’s Hobbit films, he’s The Old Man of Hoy in Sense8 and he voices Aezethril the Wizard in the “Endgame” episode of Thunderbirds Are Go
  • Born August 20, 1951 Greg Bear, 70. Blood Music which won a Nebula Award, and a Hugo Award at L.A. Con II in its original novelette form is a amazing read. His novels Moving Mars and Darwin’s Radio are also Nebula winners, and he has other short fiction award winners. I’m also very fond of the Songs of Earth and Power duology, The Infinity Concerto and The Serpent Mage, and found his Queen of Angels a fascinating mystery. He’s deeply stocked at the usual suspects. 
  • Born August 20, 1961 Greg Egan, 60. Australian writer who does exist though he does his damnedest to avoid a digital footprint. His excellent  Permutation City won the John W. Campbell Memorial Award  and “Oceanic” garnered a Best Novella Hugo at Ausiecon Three. And he’s won a lot of Ditmar Awards.
  • Born August 20, 1962 Sophie Aldred, 59. She’s Ace, the Seventh Doctor’s Companion. (By the way Doctor Who Magazine: Costume Design: Dressing the Doctor from William Hartnell to Jodie Whittaker is a brilliant read and has a nice look at her costuming.) She’s reprised the role in the Big Finish audio adventures, and she’s recently written Doctor Who: At Childhood’s End where Ace meets the Thirteenth Doctor. 
  • Born August 20, 1963 Justina Vail Evans, 58. Olga Vukavitch in Seven Days, a series I thought was extremely well-crafted. She shows up in other genre undertakings such as Super ForceConanJourney to The Center of The EarthThe Adventures of SuperboyThe X-FilesCarnosaur 3: Primal SpeciesConan and Highlander: The Series

(12) COMICS SECTION.

  • The Onion is dead on about the intersection between climate change and space travel! But didn’t someone already write Garbage Planet?
  • The Oatmeal did this comic to commemorate Gene Roddenberry’s 100th birthday yesterday.

(13) TURNING THE CAMERA AROUND. After reading The Oatmeal linked above, you realize there’s a lot more material to work with than just his career in TV: “Gene Roddenberry Biopic In Works With ‘You Don’t Know Jack’ Scribe Adam Mazer” – details at Deadline.

Roddenberry Entertainment has been working quietly on a feature biopic of the sci-fi TV icon, and there is a script by Adam Mazer, whose credits include the Emmy-winning script for the 2010 HBO movie You Don’t Know Jack which starred Al Pacino as Dr. Jack Kevorkian.

Producers include Star Trek caretakers Rod Roddenberry and Trevor Roth, who executive produce all current franchise series including Star Trek: Discovery and Star Trek: Picard. Next up the development will be finding a director and actors.

… There’s no shortage of subject matter surrounding Roddenberry, the fighter pilot-turned-LAPD cop-turned-TV writer who survived two plane crashes and the rough waters of Hollywood to create Star Trek, one of the world’s most enduring sci-fi franchises, with the original 1966-69 TV series eventually spawning spinoffs, movies, books and a legion of hard-core fans.

(14) THE THREE BLAHS OF ROBOTICS. [Item by Michael Kennedy.] Not satisfied with developing cars that can drive themselves (HINT: not there yet), Elon Musk is now saying he intends to develop humanoid robots to do dangerous and boring tasks. So far he seems to have this mission statement, a slide deck, plus someone dressed in a skintight suit and wearing a helmet. “Tesla Bot: Elon Musk Unveils Humanoid Robot to do ‘Boring’ work” at Bloomberg.

… The Tesla Bot, a prototype of which should be available next year, is designed to eliminate “dangerous, repetitive and boring tasks,” like bending over to pick something up, or go to the store for groceries, Musk said. “Essentially, in the future, physical work will be a choice.”…

(15) THE CLOCK IS RUNNING. Filers might find today’s New Yorker “Name Drop” puzzle of interest.

(16) INSIDE A PERRIN GAME. James Davis Nicoll tells how “Steve Perrin’s Worlds of Wonder Changed the Game for RPGs” at Tor.com.

Emmet Asher-Perrin’s worthy obit for Steve Perrin mentions such Perrin-related projects as StormbringerCall of CthulhuThieves’ WorldElfquestRobot Warriors, and (of course!) Superworld. One fascinating Perrin work that often goes unmentioned, probably due to the fact that it has become a comparatively obscure work, is 1982’s groundbreaking Worlds of Wonder. You may not have encountered it, but odds are that you’ve seen and played later games that it inspired or influenced.

The 9½ x 12 x 1 inch box for this game contained four 16-page booklets: Basic Role-PlayingMagic WorldSuperworld, and Future World.  Assisting Steve Perrin were Steve Henderson, Gordon Monson, Greg Stafford, Lynn Willis and others. Roleplaying game design tends to be a team effort….

(17) IT IS THE END, MY FRIEND. This week’s PBS Space Time looks at the end of everything, including beyond File 770… The universe is going to end. But of all the possible ends of the universe vacuum decay would have to be the most thorough – because it could totally rewrite the laws of physics. How terrified should you be….? 

(18) MOONING PEOPLE. The Old Farmer’s Almanac encourages us to look: “Full Moon August Appears to Shine All Weekend”.

On all three nights, the Moon will be tangled together with the planets Jupiter and Saturn. Very close to Saturn on Friday night, right amidst both brilliant Jupiter and less-bright Saturn on Saturday, and forming a line with them when it’s full on Sunday. Read about super-bright Jupiter which is at its best right now….

And there are more reasons at the link.

(19) A PERTINENT PEW POLL. Pew on belief in space aliens. Graphs at the link. “Religious Americans less likely to believe intelligent life exists beyond Earth” at Pew Research Center.

….This is evidenced by a variety of measures of religious engagement. For example, U.S. Christians are far less likely than religiously unaffiliated Americans to say that their “best guess” is that intelligent life exists on other planets (57% vs. 80%). And U.S. adults who attend religious services on at least a weekly basis are considerably less likely than those who seldom or never attend services to say that intelligent life exists elsewhere (44% vs. 75%).

Similarly, around half of Americans who say religion is very important to them (49%) say their best guess is that intelligent life exists on other planets. By comparison, roughly three-quarters of those who say that religion is less important in their lives (76%) say that intelligent life exists elsewhere. …

(20) HOW DOGS THINK. So far, it appears that no dog has learned how to cheat at their version of the Kobayashi Maru test. ”How dogs think, learn, communicate and problem-solve” in the Washington Post.

…By way of example, he talked about dogs he has worked with for the U.S. Marine Corps, compared with dogs he has worked with for Canine Companions for Independence in California. The Marines needed dogs in places like Afghanistan to help sniff out incendiary devices, while the companions agency needed dogs that were good at helping people with disabilities.

Just looking at both types of purpose-bred dogs, most people would think they’re the same — to the naked eye, they all look like Labrador retrievers, and on paper, they would all be considered Labrador retrievers. But behaviorally and cognitively, because of their breeding for specific program purposes, Hare said, they were different in many ways.

Hare devised a test that could tell them apart in two or three minutes. It’s a test that’s intentionally impossible for the dog to solve — what Star Trek fans would recognize as the Kobayashi Maru. In Hare’s version, the dog was at first able to get a reward from inside a container whose lid was loosely secured and easy to dislodge; then, the reward was placed inside the same container with the lid locked and unable to be opened. Just as Starfleet was trying to figure out what a captain’s character would lead him to do in a no-win situation, Hare’s team was watching whether the dog kept trying to solve the test indefinitely, or looked to a human for help.

“What we found is that the dogs that ask for help are fantastic at the assistance-dog training, and the dogs that persevere and try to solve the problem no matter what are ideal for the detector training,” Hare said. “It’s not testing to see which dog is smart or dumb. What we’ve been able to show is that some of these measures tell you what jobs these dogs would be good at.”…

(21) SMASHING DISCOVERY. Nature reports “Exotic Four-Quark Particle Spotted At Large Hadron Collider”.

Rare tetraquark could help physicists to test theories about strong nuclear force.

The Large Hadron Collider (LHC) is also a big hadron discoverer. The atom smasher near Geneva, Switzerland, is famous for demonstrating the existence of the Higgs boson in 2012, a discovery that slotted into place the final keystone of the current classification of elementary particles. But the LHC has also netted dozens of the non-elementary particles called hadrons — those that, like protons and neutrons, are made of quarks.

The latest hadron made its debut at the virtual meeting of the European Physical Society on 29 July, when particle physicist Ivan Polyakov at Syracuse University in New York unveiled a previously unknown exotic hadron made of four quarks. This brought the LHC’s hadron bounty up to 62, according to a tally kept by Patrick Koppenburg, a particle physicist. Tetraquarks are extremely unusual: most known hadrons are made up of either two or three quarks. The first tetraquark was spotted at the High Energy Accelerator Research Organization (KEK) in Tsukuba, Japan, in 2003, and LHCb has seen several more. But the new one is an oddity. Previous tetraquarks were likely to be pairs of ordinary quark doublets attached to each other like atoms in a molecule, but theoretical physicist Marek Karliner thinks that the latest one could be a genuine, tightly bound quadruplet. “It’s the first of its kind,” says Karliner, who is at Tel Aviv University in Israel and helped to predict the existence of a particle with the same properties as Tcc in 2017.

(22) REFERENCE DIRECTOR. Today’s Scroll title was inspired by this Firefly clip. Which doesn’t mean we’re going to start explaining the titles, it is just a good excuse to include a moment from the series.

(23) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In the spoiler-filled “Honest Trailers: The Suicide Squad” on YouTube, the Screen Junkies say the one thing that every character in the film has “traumatic parent issues,” that director James Gunn replaced the overlong character introductions in Suicide Squad with no introductions at all, and Viola Davis has “way too much talent and elegance to be in a film with Pete Davidson in it.”

[Thanks to Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, Martin Morse Wooster, Cora Buhlert, John A Arkansawyer, James Davis Nicoll, David K.M. Klaus, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, JJ, Michael Toman, John King Tarpinian, and Cat Eldridge for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to contributing editor of the day JJ.]

Doctor Who: Empire of the Wolf Comics

COVER A: DAVID BUISAN

The Bad Wolf Empress sure looks familiar.

In November, Titan Comics will launch a special Doctor Who comic series marking the 25th anniversary of the Eighth Doctor as well as the 11th anniversary of the Eleventh Doctor, plus the return of the iconic companion Rose Tyler. 

This special comic event sees the Eighth and Eleventh Doctors (as played by Paul McGann and Matt Smith respectively) team up with Rose Tyler to defeat a brand-new villain.

Trapped in a parallel universe, Rose Tyler believed her adventures with the Doctor were over. Now, pulled by a mysterious energy into this reality, she must work with two Doctors to end the tyrannical rule of the warmongering BAD WOLF EMPRESS!

This new series will also see the return of the creative team behind the Doctor Who comics, with Eisner-nominated writer Jody Houser (Stranger Things, Spider-Man), illustrator Roberta Ingranata (Witchblade), and colorist Enrica Eren Angiolini (Warhammer 40,000) all taking part.

Jody Houser elaborated on why this new arc reflects her love of writing for the Doctor Who comics: “It’s always a blast to get to dig deeper into elements of the Whoniverse that we’ve only seen a bit of or haven’t seen in a while. It’s such an expansive playground to explore and tinker with.”

Empire of the Wolf #1 will debut with a selection of variant covers by David Busian, Abigail Harding and Christopher Jones as well as a photo cover featuring a brand-new character appearing in the upcoming TV series.

Doctor Who: Empire of the Wolf #1 hits stores and digital devices November 3, 2021. The issue can be ordered from the local comic shop, in the UK & Europe from Forbidden Planet and digital.

The variant cover art follows the jump.

Continue reading

Pixel Scroll 8/12/21 Make The Scene On The Mezzanine, But Don’t Scroll In The Pixels

(1) FREE COMIC BOOK DAY. August 14 is Free Comic Book Day. Here are Marvel’s contributions to the event.

Readers can stop by their local comic shop for Free Comic Book Day 2021: Avengers/Hulk and Free Comic Book Day 2021: Spider-Man/Venom, featuring new stories that kick off the upcoming eras of fan-favorite heroes and lay the groundwork for major new storylines.

The new creative team behind Amazing Spider-Man is about to take the Spider-Man mythos beyond your wildest expectations! Get a first look at Ben Reilly as the new Spider-Man in a story by writer Zeb Wells and artist Patrick Gleason. Then, see what’s in store for Venom when Ram V., Al Ewing, and Bryan Hitch take over in a glimpse that will show you just how twisted their upcoming run will be! 

(2) BLOGGER’S VERDICT ON VOX DAY. Blogger has elevated the threat level to Defcon 2. Yesterday this was the message users were getting when they tried to reach Vox Popoli: “This blog is under review due to possible Blogger Terms of Service violations and is open to authors only.” Today Blogger says flat out —

(3) LEM 100. In “A Century in Stanislaw Lem’s Cosmos”, the New York Times salutes those who are celebrating the author’s centenary.

In “The Eighth Voyage,” a short story by Stanislaw Lem, aliens from across the universe convene at the General Assembly of the United Planets. Lem’s hero, the space traveler Ijon Tichy, watches as an uninformed but overconfident creature steps forward and makes the case to admit Earth to the organization’s ranks. The planet — which he mispronounces as “Arrth” — is home to “elegant, amiable mammals” with “a deep faith in jergundery, though not devoid of ambifribbis,” the alien tells the delegates.

His sentimental appeal is well-received, until a second extraterrestrial stands up and begins to list humanity’s wrongdoings, which include meat-eating, war and genocide. Tichy listens as the aliens belittle us and label us misguided and corrupt, our planet a blip on their intergalactic radar.

This cosmic perspective — mischievous yet melancholy, and far beyond a human point of view — is a signature with Lem, an icon of science fiction best known to English-speaking readers as the author of the 1961 novel “Solaris.” Throughout a career spanning six decades that produced more translated works than any other Polish writer, he adopted the viewpoints of aliens, robots, a conscious supercomputer and a sentient planet, using these voices to reckon with philosophical quandaries….

(4) BRIEF REMINDER. Readercon 31, online only, takes place this weekend, August 13–15, 2021, with Guests of Honor: Jeffrey Ford & Ursula Vernon. Also “Memorial Guest of Honor” Vonda N. McIntyre. As they say:

Although Readercon is modeled on “science fiction conventions,” we have no art show, no costumes, no gaming, and almost no media. Instead, Readercon features a near-total focus on the written word.

Registration is $25, and “grants you access to the Discord server and recordings of all program items for six full months following the convention. After that time is up, most recordings will be made public, but some may be taken down.”

(5) ALTERNATE WHO. Radio Times says the Doctor Who “archeologists” have found more material: “Doctor Who’s Tom Baker to return for audio adaptation of lost scripts”.

Tom Baker is set to reprise his role as the Fourth Doctor in Big Finish’s upcoming adaptations of lost Doctor Who episodes.

The two episodes – Doctor Who and the Ark and Daleks! Genesis of Terror – were written by screenwriter John Lucarotti and Terry Nation, creator of the Daleks, respectively and are set for release in March 2023.

Big Finish recently rediscovered the episodes’ original scripts and initial story outlines and will be adapting them into audio adventures as part of their series, Doctor Who – The Lost Stories.

… producer Simon Guerrier said in a statement.

“The Ark in Space and Genesis of the Daleks are among the best-loved TV stories ever. We’ve uncovered first draft scripts by John Lucarotti and Terry Nation that are exciting, surprising and very different.”

(6) AUREALIS AWARDS JUDGES WANTED. The Aurealis Awards have put out a call for judges. The positions are open to Australian residents only. See complete guidelines at the link.

Judges are volunteers and are drawn from the Australian speculative fiction community, from diverse professions and backgrounds, including academics, booksellers, librarians, published authors, publishing industry professionals, reviewers and enthusiasts.

The only qualification necessary is a demonstrated knowledge of and interest in their chosen category (good time management skills and an ability to work in a team in an online environment are also essential).

(7) TRAILER TIME. This clip explains why vampires shouldn’t learn about chain letters – from What We Do in the Shadows.

(8) LORNA TOOLIS (1952-2021). Lorna Toolis, retired collection head of the Toronto Public Library’s Merril Collection of Science Fiction, Speculation and Fantasy, died of cancer on August 11. Toolis, notes Robert J. Sawyer in his tribute was also a 2017 inductee into the Canadian Science Fiction and Fantasy Hall of Fame.

Earlier in life she was a member of ESFCAS, the Edmonton Science Fiction and Comic Arts Society. Toolis is survived by her husband, the Aurora Award-winning writer Michael Skeet, with whom she co-edited Tesseracts 4: Canadian Science Fiction published in 1992.

Toolis was interviewed last year by the Toronto Public Library blog for “Merril Collection at 50: Stories from the Spaced Out Library” (the latter was the collection’s original name). Among her memories —

The Merril Collection has hosted so many prominent authors/editors/scholars in the world of Speculative Fiction. Have you ever been starstruck?  

Lorna: I counted myself amazingly fortunate. Over the years, I had lunch with Margaret Atwood and dinner with Gene WolfeNeil Gaiman was our guest three times, as was Cory DoctorowJohn Scalzi was a huge hit with the audience and returned to speak several times by request. When Lois Bujold was our guest, her kids were having trouble with their grammar, and I gave her my personal copy of The Transitive Vampire. Robert Jordan was a guest and he was an absolute sweetheart.

(9) NEAL CONAN OBIT. Retired radio host Neal Conan died August 10 at the age of 71. Jim Freund recalled Conan’s science fiction connections from early in his career at WBAI in New York.

…My favorite regular program Bai’ did was “Of Unicorns and Universes,” which he co-produced and was often hosted by Neal Conan. Neal, while primarily a producer of some of our best Public Affairs programming, (at the same time Paul Fischer was our News Director,) was quite the sf fan. He worked with Samuel Delany on the 2-hour adaptation of “The Star Pit,” and some years later, when I was co-host on Thursday and Fridays of Hour of the Wolf with Margot Adler, he was an occasional co-host on Mondays. (I usually engineered.) I was quite surprised at how much of a Heinlein fan he was….

Conan would be hired by NPR and spend 36 years at the network. Robert Siegel paid tribute to his work there in “Neal Conan, Former Host Of NPR’s ‘Talk Of The Nation,’ Has Died”.

…Later at NPR, he held an astonishing variety of jobs. He was at various times the line producer and the executive producer of ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. Back in 1987, he ran NPR News for a year. He was a reporter.

…  In 1991, while reporting from southern Iraq on the war to liberate Kuwait, Neal was taken captive by the Iraqi Republican Guard, along with New York Times reporter Chris Hedges. It took diplomatic efforts to get them released….

[SIEGEL]: Neal Conan’s most prominent role at NPR was hosting Talk Of The Nation. …He tried out for that job the week that began on Monday, September 10, 2001. Sept. 11 was Neal’s Day 2….

The New York Times has also published an obituary.

(10) MEMORY LANE.

  • 1991 – Thirty years ago at Chicon V at which Marta Randall was the Toastmaster, Edward Scissorhands wins the  Hugo for Best Dramatic Presentation. Other nominated works for the Con for this Award were Total RecallGhostBack to the Future III and The Witches

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born August 12, 1894 Dick Calkins. He’s best remembered for being the first artist to draw the Buck Rogers comic strip. He also wrote scripts for the Buck Rogers radio program. Buck Rogers in the 25th Century, The Complete Newspaper Dailies in eight volumes on Hermes Press collects these strips.  They’re one hundred fifty dollars a volume. (Died 1962.)
  • Born August 12, 1929 John Bluthal. He was Von Neidel in The Mouse on the Moon which sounds silly and fun. He’s in Casino Royale as both a Casino Doorman and a MI5 Man. (Why pay the Union salaries?) He had roles in films best forgotten such as Digby, the Biggest Dog in the World. (Really. Don’t ask.) And he did play a blind beggar in The Return of the Pink Panther as well, and his last genre role was as Professor Pacoli in the beloved Fifth Element. Lest I forget he voiced Commander Wilbur Zero, Jock Campbell and other characters in Fireball XL5. (Died 2018.)
  • Born August 12, 1931 William Goldman. Writer of The Princess Bride which he adapted for the film. Wrote the original Stepford Wives script and King’s Hearts in Atlantis and Misery as well. He was hired  to adapt “Flowers for Algernon“ as a screenplay but the story goes that Cliff Robertson intensely disliked his screenplay and it was discarded for one by Stirling Silliphant that became Charly. (Died 2018.)
  • Born August 12, 1947 John Nathan-Turner. He produced Doctor Who from 1980 until it was cancelled in 1989. He finished as the longest-serving Doctor Who producer. He cast Peter Davison, Colin Baker and Sylvester McCoy as the Fifth, Sixth and Seventh Doctors. Other than Who, he had a single production credit, the K-9 and Company: A Girl’s Best Friend film. He wrote two books, Doctor Who – The TARDIS Inside Out and Doctor Who: The Companions. He would die of a massive infection just a year before the announcement the show was being revived. (Died 2002.)
  • Born August 12, 1954 Sam J. Jones, 67. Flash Gordon in the 1980 version of that story. Very, very campy. A few years later, he played the lead role in a TV adaptation of Will Eisner’s The Spirit which I’ve not seen and am now very curious about as the audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes don’t have good things to say about it. He also had the lead in The Highwayman (name of his character there) which is described as a mix of Mad Max and Knight Rider. It lasted nine episodes in the late Eighties. Anyone seen it?
  • Born August 12, 1960 Brenda Cooper, 61. Best known for her YA Silver Ship series of which The Silver Ship and the Sea won an Endeavour Award, and her Edge of Dark novel won another such Award. Due co-authored Building Harlequin’s Moon with Larry Niven, and a fair amount of short fiction with him. She has a lot of short fiction, much collected in Beyond the WaterFall Door: Stories of the High Hills and Cracking the Sky. She’s well-stocked at the usual suspects.
  • Born August 12, 1966 Brian Evenson, 55. I consider him a horror writer (go ahead, disagree) and his Song for the Unraveling of the World collection did win a Shirley Jackson Award though it also won a World Fantasy Award. He’s also won an International Horror Guild Award for his Wavering Knife collection. He even co-authored a novel with Rob Zombie, The Lords of Salem
  • Born August 12, 1992 Cara Jocelyn Delevingne, 29. Her first genre role was as a mermaid in Pan. She then shows up in James Gunn’s Suicide Squad as June Moone / Enchantress, in Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets as Laureline. She was in Carnival Row as Vignette Stonemoss. It was a fantasy noir series on Amazon Prime.

(12) COMICS SECTION.

(13) I TALK FOR THE TREES. NPR’s Elizabeth Blair says “Dr. Seuss Warned Us 50 Years Ago, But We Didn’t Listen To ‘The Lorax’”.

Call it fate or an unfortunate coincidence that Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax celebrates its 50th anniversary the same week the United Nations releases an urgent report on the dire consequences of human-induced climate change. The conflict between the industrious, polluting Once-ler and the feisty Lorax, who “speaks for the trees,” feels more prescient than ever.

“Once-ler!” he cried with a cruffulous croak.
“Once-ler! You’re making such smogulous smoke!
My poor Swomee-Swans…why, they can’t sing a note!
No one can sing who has smog in his throat.

(14) DON’T SCRY FOR ME ARGENTINA. Romina Garber, in conversation with Dhonielle Clayton, will discuss her new book Cazadora on Thursday, August 19 at 6:00 p.m. Pacific. Register here.

Werewolves. Witches. Romance. Resistance. Enter a world straight out of Argentine folklore…

Following the events of Lobizona, Manu and her friends cross the mystical border into Kerana–a cursed realm in Argentina–searching for allies and a hiding place. As they chase down leads about the Coven–a mythical resistance manada that might not even exist–the Cazadores chase down leads about Manu, setting up traps to capture and arrest her.

Just as it seems the Cazadores have Manu and her friends cornered, the Coven answers their call for help. As Manu catches her breath among these non-conforming Septimus, she discovers they need a revolution as much as she does.

(15) THE LOTTERY. Did you plan to live forever? Don’t. “NASA Says an Asteroid Will Have a Close Brush With Earth. But Not Until the 2100s”  says the New York Times.

An asteroid the size of the Empire State Building has a slight chance of hitting Earth.

Don’t worry. You’ll long be dead before that has any chance of happening. So will your children. Probably all of your grandchildren, too.

At a news conference on Wednesday, NASA scientists said there was a 1-in-1,750 chance that an asteroid named Bennu, which is a bit wider than the Empire State Building is tall, could collide with Earth between now and 2300.

That is actually slightly higher than an earlier estimate of 1 in 2,700 over a shorter period, between now and 2200….

(16) MARK YOUR CALENDAR.  On the other hand, if you are going to be around for at least another century, Gizmodo has a suggestion for your bucket list: “John Malkovich and Robert Rodriguez Have Made A Movie No One Will See For 100 Years”.

Think the secrecy around the biggest Hollywood blockbusters is crazy? They don’t come close to what John Malkovich and Robert Rodriguez are doing. The pair has collaborated for a film that no one will see for 100 years. Literally.

This isn’t some joke. They’ve made a film, called 100 Years, which is being placed in a special time-locked safe that won’t open again until November 18, 2115. Why? Well, because it’s promotion for Louis XIII Cognac, an ultra-luxury liquor that is aged 100 years. Bottles currently on shelves were made in 1915 so they decided a piece of art that speaks to their commitment to quality was something worth doing….

Gizmodo links to three teasers: 100 Years: The Movie You’ll Never See Nature Teaser”, “100 Years: The Movie You’ll Never See Retro Teaser”, and “100 Years: The Movie You’ll Never See Future Teaser”.

(17) FILL IN THE BLANC. Gabriel Iglesias was on Colbert last night to talk about Space Jam 2.

Comedian Gabriel Iglesias is the voice of Speedy Gonzales in “Space Jam 2” and he was very excited to get the role without even auditioning.

(18) MAGNIFICENT SEVEN. Nerdist says you will finally have a chance to see it: “Cult Sci-Fi Favorite BLAKE’S 7 Is Coming to BritBox”. Get your money ready.

For fans of classic British science fiction, there are a few names that always pop up. Doctor Who, naturally, stands head and shoulders above everything else. Other favorites like Sapphire & SteelThe Prisoner, and the shows of Gerry Anderson pop up as well. But for a certain age of fan, the cream of the crop is Blake’s 7. The show was the BBC’s direct attempt to capitalize on the success of Star WarsBlake’s 7 ran for four seasons from 1978 to 1981 and has been pretty hard to find in North America lately. That is, until now. The entire series will debut on BritBox beginning August 13….

(19) TOSSED IN SPACE. The latest issue of Nature warns: “World must work to avoid a catastrophic space collision”.

Governments and companies urgently need to share data on the mounting volume of satellites and debris orbiting Earth.

There’s an awful lot of stuff orbiting Earth, with more arriving all the time. More than 29,000 satellites, pieces of rockets and other bits of debris large enough to track from the ground are circling the planet. Smaller items number in the millions. The Californian company SpaceX alone has launched some 1,700 satellites over the past 2 years as part of its Starlink network, which provides broadband Internet, with thousands more planned. Other companies are also planning such megaconstellations, and more and
more nations are launching or plan to launch satellites. This growing congestion is drastically increasing the risk of collisions in space….

(20) SHORT SUIT. In the Washington Post, Christian Davenport says NASA’s Artemis mission to the Moon could be delayed because the program to design a new spacesuit has spent $1 billion but delays have meant they will only have two flight-ready spacesuits prepared by fiscal year 2025. “NASA IG says 2024 moon landing won’t happen, blames space suit delays”.

Ever since the White House directed NASA to return astronauts to the moon by 2024 as part of its Artemis program, there have been all sorts of daunting challenges: The rocket the space agency would use has suffered setbacks and delays; the spacecraft that would land astronauts on the surface is not yet completed and was held up by the losing bidders; and Congress hasn’t come through with the funding NASA says is necessary.But another reason the 2024 goal may not be met is that the spacesuits needed by the astronauts to walk on the lunar surface won’t be ready in time and the total development program, which ultimately will produce just two flight-ready suits, could cost more than $1 billion…

(21) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [By Martin Morse Wooster.] In “Honest Trailers:  Loki” on YouTube, the Screen Junkies say that Loki “has a Comic-Con’s worth of alternate Lokis” including Richard E Grant, who “can make you love anything he does, even if he’s dressed like Kermit The Frog and talks nonsense for 30 minutes straight.”  Bonus: they send up Tom Hiddleston’s Chinese vitamin commercial!

 [Thanks to Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, Richard Horton, Lloyd Penney, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, Michael Toman, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to contributing editor of the day Jim Janney.]

Pixel Scroll 8/8/21 It Is Pitch Black. You Are Likely To Be Pixeled By A Scroll

(1) EMERGENCY HOLOGRAPHIC CAPTAIN. Slashfilm rounds up everything they can find out about Nickolodeon’s “’Star Trek: Prodigy’ Season 1: Release Date, Cast and More”.

…Prodigy will be a kids-oriented show revolving around a group of alien teens who attempt to get away with stealing a Starfleet vessel of their very own, the U.S.S. Protostar. In a fun surprise for older fans, Captain Janeway from the Star Trek: Voyager series will appear as a hologram throughout this show, guiding the teens along their many adventures to the stars….

Pictured: Art for Star Trek: Prodigy . Photo Cr: Nickelodeon/Paramount+ ©2021, All Rights Reserved.

(2) STEER CLEAR. A Starfleet Academy series is also in development. Fansided’s Chad Porto is adamant that “Star Trek series based around Starfleet Academy should avoid these ideas”. From the middle of his list —

The third idea is about Worf. Dang-it. Walked into that one. Do you want to see more Worf? You do? Do you want to see more Worf but not played by Michael Dorn!? Wait, where did everyone go!? No one wants to see it. Don’t do it. No more prequels. I feel like Edna Mode in The Incredibles. No prequels!

(3) HOLLYWOOD AUTO CREATOR GOING AWAY. “Holy hot wheels, Batman! Iconic auto shop site is for sale” reports the LA Times.

A foundation stone of Southern California car culture is about to be dislodged: The North Hollywood home of Barris Kustom Industries — birthplace of the Batmobile, the Munster Koach and a thousand other custom cars — is for sale.

The 10,000-square-foot commercial property, on an 18,000-square-foot corner lot, is offered at $3.995 million and is almost certainly destined for redevelopment.

The package includes the showroom that still houses a Batmobile; the garages where brothers George and Sam Barris did custom body work for celebrities including Elvis Presley, Elton John and Cassandra Peterson, a.k.a. Elvira, Mistress of the Dark; and even the spray booth where “kustom kolors” concocted by George were applied to cars driven by James Dean, John Wayne and ventriloquist Jeff Dunham, for whom Barris built a Bat Smart Car….

(4) IS IT A HOARD? Even if it is, calling the lot a collection sounds like good customer relations. Chuck Rozanki of Denver’s MileHiComics announced he has acquired another mountain of inventory. You should see the pictures: “Chuck Buys Another Huge Collection!”

I have just left California, and entered Nevada through Reno. I spent all day yesterday hauling 400 cases of toys, books, comics, and all sorts of pop-culture collectibles from a huge house on top of a mountain in Oroville, California. When you take a look at the sheer mass of material that I picked up, this ends up being the largest private collection that I have ever purchased. Of even greater importance is that this collection is incredibly diverse, as the gentleman who put it together was a thrift store devotee for the past 40 years, shopping pretty much every day on his lunch break. He picked up an amazing array of fun pop culture collectibles.

In case you are wondering, yes, this is the same collection that I mentioned back in June that I was going to return to pick up in California. There was so much material that it took six weeks for it to all get packed up. When I finished unpacking my two truckloads, I ended up with 13 full pallets out at FedEx, which is about 20,000 pounds. I have at least another thousand pounds in my cargo van, including a mint-in-box customized bicycle that was painted by the same guys who do the custom motorcycles down in LA. The last one sold on eBay for $4000…

(5) MARKIE POST (1950-2021). Actress Markie Post died August 7 reports Deadline.  

…Her first acting credits came in 1979, with appearances on episodes of … The Incredible HulkThe Lazarus SyndromeBuck Rogers in the 25th Century… 

She’d later appear in series such as The Love Boat, … Fantasy Island and The A-Team, before landing the role of bail bondswoman Terri Michaels in ABC’s The Fall Guy. She appeared in 65 episodes of that action drama between 1982 and 1985. Post was also a series regular on NBC’s Night Court, portraying public defender Christine Sullivan for 159 episodes between 1985 and 1992. 

(6) BRAD ALLAN OBIT. Stuntman Brad Allan, who worked on Wonder Woman and the Kingsman series, died August 7: “Brad Allan, Stuntman and Jackie Chan Protege, Dies at 48”. (msn.com).

Allan eventually carved out a space in Hollywood as one of the best in his craft. After serving as both a stunt actor and coordinator on a string of movies with Chan, including “Shanghai Noon” and “Rush Hour 2,” he went on to design action scenes for movies like, “Scott Pilgrim vs. the World,” “Wonder Woman,” “Solo: A Star Wars Story” and the “Kingsman” series. 

By the time of his death, Allan had also completed work on “The King’s Man” and Marvel’s “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings,” which hits theaters next month. 

(7) MEMORY LANE.

  • 1988 – Thirty-three years ago at Nolacon II, Ursula K. Le Guin would win the Best Novelette Hugo for “Buffalo Gals, Won’t You Come Out Tonight.” Other nominated works that year were “Rachel in Love” by Pat Murphy, “Dinosaurs” by Walter Jon Williams, “Flowers of Edo” by Bruce Sterling and “Dream Baby” by Bruce McAllister.  

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born August 8, 1919 Dino De Laurentiis. Responsible for Dune obviously but less obviously also a lot of other genre including Conan the BarbarianFlash GordonKing KongHalloween II and Halloween IIIDead Zone and The Last Legion. His company even made Army of Darkness! (Died 2010.)
  • Born August 8, 1930 Terry Nation. Best known as scriptwriter for Doctor Who and creator of the Daleks. He later created Blake’s 7. He would also write scripts for Department SThe Avengers, The Champions and MacGyver. (Died 1997.)
  • Born August 8, 1935 Donald P. Bellisario, 86. His genre shows include Tales of the Gold MonkeyAirwolf, Magnum P.I. (according to some of you) and of course that truly amazing show Quantum Leap. He was a writer and producer on the original Battlestar Galactica.
  • Born August 8, 1937 Dustin Hoffman, 84. Ahhh — Captian Hook, the man who got swallowed by the vast crocodile in Hook. Yeah, I like that film a lot. By no means his only genre appearance, as he was Mumbles, Caprice’s fast-talking henchman in Dick Tracy (not a film I love), Mr. Edward Magorium in Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium and the voice of Master Shifu in Kung Fu Panda.
  • Born August 8, 1943 Terry J. Erdmann, 78. He ran the media campaigns for such films as Star Trek V: The Final Frontier, (where he was credited as the film’s publicist). He’s also written such books as the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion, which he co-wrote with Paula Block, his wife who works as a Trek publicist, and The Magic of Tribbles: The Making of Trials and Tribble-ations.
  • Born August 8, 1949 Keith Carradine, 72. Genre roles include Special Report: Journey to MarsStar Trek: Enterprise, Kung Fu, voice work on the animated Spider-Man series, Dollhouse and The Big Bang Theory
  • Born August 8, 1993 Kawennáhere Devery Jacobs, 28. She’s a Kahnawake Mohawk. Why I mention that will be apparent in a moment. Her most recent role is recurring one as Sam Black Crow on now-cancelled American Gods but she has a very long genre history starting with being Monique on the Stephen King’s Dead Zone series. From there, she was Claudia Auditore in Assassin’s Creed: Lineage, a series of three short films based on the Assassin’s Creed II video game before showing up as Ali’s in Rhymes for Young Ghouls which is notable for its handling of First Nations issues. She’s Daisy in Another WolfCop (oh guess which monster), an unnamed bar waitress in Being Human, Nourhan in Exploding Sun and Sam in the The Walking Dead: Michonne video game. Her latest genre role is Blood Quantum about a zombie uprising on a First Nations homeland.

(9) LIGHTEN UP.  John King Tarpinian swears he had none of these. Especially if it had anything to do with disco. “5 of the wildest pieces of vintage Star Trek merch” at Heroes & Icons.

THIS LIGHT-UP JACKET THAT’S PERFECT FOR DISCOS, CONVENTIONS, SF PARTIES AND SCHOOL ACTIVITIES

Sure, a replica of the actual Starfleet uniform is rad, but not as rad as a shiny jacket that “lights up,” “flashes” and “creates a sensation,” with the Enterprise emblazoned on the back. This 1978 official licensed jacket surely would have impressed everyone at school and at the disco.

(10) ABANDONED STARSHIPS. Heroes & Icons also knows about “9 abandoned Star Trek series that never made it to the TV screen”. Some of these I’ve heard about, but not this one!

2. THE HARRY MUDD SHOW

Harcourt Fenton Mudd remains one of the most beloved rogues in the Star Trek universe, even appearing in the new Discovery series, as played by Rainn Wilson of The Office. Roger Carmel, also a delightful Batman villain, originated the role. He was the only character aside from the Enterprise crew to appear in more than one episode (“Mudd’s Woman” and “I, Mudd). No wonder NBC hoped to give him a spin-off. As Carmel himself recalled, “Gene Roddenberry was there and we started talking and Gene said, ‘It’s a shame that series thing for you never worked out.’ I said, ‘What series thing?’ He said, ‘Oh, didn’t you know? Well, after the successful Harry Mudd episodes, NBC wanted to know if I would develop a spin-off series for you starring the Harry Mudd character. A space pirate, intergalactic con-man kind of thing.'” A flabberghasted Carmel asked, “‘My God, Gene, I didn’t know anything about that. What happened?’ He said, ‘Well, the artists didn’t have enough time to develop it.'” Arg! 

(11) TWELVE IS NOT FIVE BY FIVE. Did Capaldi talk himself out of a job? “Doctor Who Is Canceling One Of Its Former Stars”Giant Freakin Robot has the story.

It’s in the area of voice work, in fact, where Capaldi recently may have gotten in a little bit of trouble. As Cinema Blend reported on Thursday, Capaldi was expected to play the Doctor for the Big Finish Doctor Who audio drama Timejacked. However, rather than Capaldi, the Twelfth Doctor will now be voiced by Jacob Dudman, who has done voice work on previous Doctor Who audio dramas.

While it hasn’t been confirmed, there’s a lot of speculation that Capaldi’s recent interview on The Chris Moyles Show may be to blame for his replacement in the Doctor Who audio drama. Capaldi appeared on the show while doing press for The Suicide Squad. During the interview, after Capaldi mentions he’d like to be DJ, he’s asked if he’s ever worked in radio. The actor answers he’s done radio plays, and what he says about them isn’t very complimentary. Capaldi says he finds making them “quite dreary” and that they’re made “in the basement of the BBC with all the pipes and stuff.” He goes on to call it “an absolutely glamor free zone.” 

(12) FANTASTIC PLASTIC. I’d almost forgotten these (and now I’ll have to start all over again!) “It’s the 50th anniversary of the most horrific kids’ toys ever” reminds Input.

…Nabisco, the cookie and cracker conglomerate that bought Aurora soon after these kits were released, found itself in a world of pain after horrified parents, op-ed writers, and boisterous protesters decried the toys as misogynistic and grotesque — and wholly inappropriate for kids. This year marks the 50th anniversary of the torture-toy scandal, during which public outcry led to not only the discontinuation of an outrageously successful toy line, but also to the passage of legislation that would keep similarly objectionable toys off store shelves, at least in California.

But a half-century later, these kits still thrive, thanks, of course, to the internet…. 

(13) MIND ON THE GAME. In the Washington Post, Shannon Liao reviews the about to be released video game Psychonauts 2, a sequel to the 2005 Psychonauts, which was one of the first video games to address mental health issues.  She talks to game designers who explain how they tried to have a good story while trying to improve gamers’ mental health. “’Psychonauts 2’ preview: Double Fine discusses game’s bosses, mental health”.

…To undo the mistake he made, Raz must venture back into his mentor’s mind, but this time, it’s transformed into a fantastical level that’s part hospital, part casino. Eventually, he’s able to undo the bad mental connections he made in Hollis’s mind, undo other mental connections she’s formed such as “defiance is useless” and get her to recognize better connections such as “wisdom = decisions.” It’s clear throughout this level that Raz is genuinely feeling regret and guilt for messing with Hollis’s mind without consent. He reflects on what he did wrong, and apologizes to Hollis.

“It’s a small change between the first and second games,” Schafer said. “I noticed in the first game, Raz just kind of pops into everyone’s mind willy nilly. He’s like, ‘hey!’ And so in every level on ‘Psychonauts 2,’ except for some near the end where it’s an emergency situation, in every brain you go into, there is a moment of actually getting consent from the person’s brain that you’re going into, because it is an invasive process going into someone’s brain. There’s a lot more dialogue about that, which we try to be careful about in the second game.”…

(14) VIDEO OF THE DAY. We ran the trailer, now see the whole short film: Forsaken Mandalorian And The Drunken Jedi Master – A Star Wars Fan Film.

A Forsaken Mandalorian hunts down a Hutt Courier to recover an asset that unexpectedly leads him to team up with an outcast Drunken Jedi Master to fulfill his sworn duty.

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

Pixel Scroll 8/5/21 You’ve Got To Know When To Hodor’em, Know When To Scroll’em, Know When To White Walker Away

(1) BURTON OUT OF JEOPARDY, UNFORTUNATELY. LeVar Burton won’t succeed the late Alex Trebek as host of the game show Jeopardy! According to Deadline, the show’s executive producer Mike Richards will be taking the job.  

LeVar Burton tweeted today:

I have said many times over these past weeks that no matter the outcome, I’ve won. The outpouring of love and support from family, friends, and fans alike has been incredible! If love is the ultimate blessing and I believe that it is, I am truly blessed beyond measure.

Here’s a look-back at a recent show when LeVar Burton presided over “The Science Fiction Category”.

(2) WHO’S ON FIRST. “Doctor Who’s next showrunner is more important than its next Doctor” insists Radio Times.

…But the showrunner is responsible for literally everything – from the tone of the show to its look, its casting, its music… even, to a lesser degree, its format and structure. Yes, making Doctor Who – and indeed, any show like it – is a massive team effort, but the showrunner picks (or is at least involved in the hiring of) their writers, the composer, the production designer, the make-up artists, the casting director… all those talented folk whose hard work goes into putting the show together.

Think how distinct the Russell T Davies era is from the Steven Moffat era, and how different both are to Chibnall’s show. Bar a few cosmetic changes, Doctor Who starring Christopher Eccleston and Doctor Who starring David Tennant are broadly the same series. But there’d be no mistaking Moffat’s Who for Davies’ – yes, they’re ostensibly the same programme, but the visuals are different, the humour is different, certain of the tropes are different… everything has regenerated, far more dramatically than when the show switches out one lead actor for the next. (That lead actor, of course, is also picked by the showrunner – pending BBC approval.)…

(3) HUGO HISTORY UPDATE. [Item by Kevin Standlee.] Ben Yalow located a copy of the 1993 Hugo Awards Nominating & Final Ballot Details report and I have updated the 1993 Hugo Awards entry at the official Hugo Awards site with a copy of it.

Note that the rules in 1993 were different than they are today, and this report included what was required under the rules as they existed at that time.

[Editor’s egoscanning note: I see File 770 came in second, as it was wont to do in the Nineties.]

(4) ON YOUR MARK. Tenth Letter of the Alphabet has combed through the Official Gazette of the United States Patent Office and assembled a vast collection of “Pulp Fiction Trademarks” like these —

(5) ANOTHER CONLANG. “What Language Does Leeloo Speak In The Fifth Element?” – let Looper tell you.

…A lot of time and effort, including the formation of a special language, went into crafting “The Fifth Element,” with Besson working on the project for around 15 years. What some might not know is that the unique language Leeloo speaks in the film is called the Divine Language, and it’s actually a personal creation of Besson’s, made solely for the movie. 

The Divine Language that was developed for “The Fifth Element” only has around 400 words in total, but that’s certainly enough to carry a conversation. According to an interview with i-D, Jovovich gives Besson complete credit for the language’s creation, stating that “He brought me a dictionary of words. We would write each other letters in the language, so I was getting used to communication and speaking it.”… 

(6) UNDERSTANDING SILKPUNK. BookRiot’s Lyndsie Manusos has some definite opinions about “Silkpunk: What It Is And What It Definitely Is Not”. “Silkpunk does NOT apply to every speculative, science fiction, or fantasy book inspired by Asian history or culture. Here’s what it is.”

…In the long history of speculative and SFF genres, silkpunk is pretty new. It was invented by Ken Liu to describe his 2015 novel The Grace of Kings. Liu coined the term, and wrote a post on his website to delve into its definition. Liu’s post begins with: “No, [silkpunk is] not “Asian-flavored steampunk.” No, it’s not “Asian-influenced fantasy.” No, it’s not…

(7) A PAIR OF ACES. Molly Templeton pointed out to Tor.com readers where they can “Watch Martha Wells and Becky Chambers in Conversation”.

… The two discuss outlining (or not); television watching (Wells, like all wise viewers, enjoys Elementary); how much time Chambers thought about tea while writing Psalm; writing with compassion for your characters; and how excellent it is that more voices are telling their stories in SFF….

(8) TOP 10. ScreenRant shared the list of “The American Film Institute’s 10 Best Sci Fi Movies”. Guess what is only number six!!

6. Blade Runner

A cerebral film with lofty existential themes, Blade Runner is a duly highly regarded sci-fi film and often noted as one of the best of the sci-fi genre. Another Ridley Scott film – one of his best science fiction films – Blade Runner follows an officer and blade runner named Deckard that is tasked with tracking down and destroying four replicants, which are sentient robots that were deemed illegal after a replicant uprising on a faraway planet.

On Deckard’s journey to destroy, or retire, the replicants, he is faced with questions of what it means to be human and the accuracy or inaccuracy of perception of reality. Further, the film paints a bleak portrait of a potential future with animals being extinct and a highly polluted atmosphere, connecting to concerns that modern audiences have for the environment.

(9) STONE SOUP. At “Building Beyond: Leaf Me Alone”, Sarah Gailey is joined by Stephen Rider and Amal El-Mohtar to play with this writing prompt:

The global forest community has decided to cut off all economic and trading ties with the outside world. From now on, forest-based resources are for the forest alone.

(10) MEMORY LANE.

  • 1970 – Fifty one years at Heicon ’70 where John Brunner was the Toastmaster, Ursula Le Guin wins the Hugo for Best Novel for The Left Hand of Darkness. It was first published in 1969 as Ace SF Special, Series 1.  Other nominated works that year were Robert Silverberg’s Up the Line, Piers Anthony‘s Macroscope, Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.’s Slaughterhouse-Five and Norman Spinrad‘s Bug Jack Barron. It would also win a Nebula Award and be nominated for a Ditmar Award as well. 

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born August 5, 1906 John Huston. Yes, the Huston who directed  and wrote The Maltese Falcon graced our community. He was M in Casino Royale, and The Lawgiver in Battle for the Planet of the Apes. He was in Sherlock Holmes in New York as Professor Moriarty, and voiced Gandalf in The Return of The King. (Died 1987.)
  • Born August 5, 1929 Don Matheson. Best remembered for being Mark Wilson in Land of the Giants. He also had roles in Lost in Space (where he played in an alien in one episode and an android in another episode), Voyage to the Bottom of the SeaThe Alfred Hitchcock Hour, an Alice in Wonderland film and Dragonflight. (Died 2014.)
  • Born August 5, 1935 Wanda Ventham, 86. Mother of Benedict Cumberbatch. She’s been on Who three times, in “The Faceless Ones”, a Second Doctor story, in “Image of the Fendahl”, a Fourth Doctor story and finally in “Time and the Rani”, a Seventh Doctor story. She also had roles in The Blood Beast TerrorProject U.F.O and Captain Kronos: Vampire Hunter. She was often on British TV series including Danger ManThe SaintThe Avengers and The Prisoner. And yes, she was on his Sherlock series where she played…his mother.
  • Born August 5, 1940 Natalie Trundy, 81. First, she was one of the Underdwellers, named Albina, in Beneath the Planet of the Apes.  Next, she played Dr. Stephanie Branton, a specialist studying apes from the future who came into our present day in Escape from the Planet of the Apes.  Then in Conquest of the Planet of the Apes and Battle for the Planet of the Apes, she played the chimp Lisa.  As far as I can tell, she’s the only performer to play three different roles in the Apes films. 
  • Born August 5, 1947 Élisabeth Vonarburg, 74. Parisian born, she’s been a Quebec resident for four decades. She was the literary director of the French-Canadian SF magazine Solaris. Her first novel, Le Silence de la Cité, was published in 1981. Since then she’s been a prolific writer of novels and short fiction. I’m pleased to say that the usual suspects is deeply stocked in her works. Her website, in French of course, is here. She’s won ten Prix Aurora Awards for the best Canadian science fiction and fantasy works and activities in English and French. Très, très impressionnant! 
  • Born August 5, 1961 Tawny Kitaen. I first remember her in Hercules and the Circle of Fire as Deianeira, a role remarkable only for the minimalist costume she wore. She repeated the role throughout the series. Her first genre acting was actually in low budget horror flick Witchboard. And other than an appearance in a SF comedy series They Came from Outer Space, that’s it for her. (Died 2021.)
  • Born August 5, 1980 JoSelle Vanderhooft, 41. Former Green Man reviewer with a single novel so far, Ebenezer, and several collections, Steam-Powered: Lesbian Steampunk Stories and Steam-Powered II: More Lesbian Steampunk Stories which the former were nominated for a Lambda Award. She also co-edited with Steve Berman, Heiresses of Russ 2011: The Year’s Best Lesbian Speculative Fiction.

(12) COMICS HISTORY. “Let Otto Binder show you how the mid-’60s comic book sausage was made” at Scott Edelman’s blog.

Two more treasures found in my late sister-in-law Ellen Vartanoff’s collection — mid-’60s scripts by the extremely prolific comics writer Otto Binder. Wikipedia claims he wrote 4,400 stories under his own name — and 160 more under the pen-name Eando Binder…

…His [Otto Binder’s] story in Creepy adapted of one of the 10 stories he wrote for Amazing Stories with his brother Earl Binder (under the pen name Eando Binder) about the intelligent robot Adam Link.

Someday I’ll scan and share the entirety of both scripts, but for now, here’s a comparison of the first page of the Mighty Samson one, as well as the published page, with art by Frank Thorne — who’s perhaps best-known for his work on Marvel’s Red Sonja….

(13) DRAWN THAT WAY. Studio co-founder Alvy Ray Smith tells IEEE Spectrum readers “The Real Story of Pixar” – “How a bad hardware company turned itself into a great movie studio.”

…The story… goes back to a time when I and other researchers in computer graphics scattered around the United States began to see the technology as allowing a new art form: the creation of digitally animated movies. A handful of us began talking about when somebody would make the first one—”The Movie,” we called it—and the massive computing power it would take to pull it off. That kind of computing power was not affordable in the mid-1970s. But with Moore’s Law cranking along at a steady pace, there was every reason to think that the cost of computing power would come down sufficiently within a decade or so. In the meantime, we focused on developing the software that would make The Movie possible.

By definition, The Movie could incorporate no hand drawing. The tools to build it emerged piecemeal. First came the software that enabled computers to create two-dimensional images and, later, virtual 3D objects. Then we figured out how to move those objects, shade them, and light them before rendering them as frames of a movie….

…We kept the possibility of The Movie alive during the next five years with a series of short films, including Luxo Jr. (1986), nominated for an Academy Award; Tin Toy (1988) winner of an Academy Award; Red’s Dream (1987); and Knick Knack (1989). These were four of the sparkling jewels that sustained us during these otherwise tough years.

Each one of these pieces represented continued improvements in the underlying in-house technologies. Luxo Jr., for example, incorporated the first articulated objects that self-shadowed themselves from multiple light sources. Red’s Dream showed off our Pixar Image Computer: the principal background for the piece, a bicycle shop, was the most complex computer graphics scene ever rendered at the time….

(14) THEY’RE COMING TO TAKE ME AWAY. “R2-D2 is now a Tamagotchi you’ll forget about” predicts Engadget. (See demos at the company’s own interactive info page: Star Wars R2-D2 Tamagotchi.)

Disney and Bandai have teamed up to bring Artoo to the pockets of fans who don’t mind training, cleaning and looking after a needy, digital version of the droid wherever they are. …As you might expect from a Tamagotchi, you’ll interact with the toy using three physical buttons.

There are 19 skills for Artoo to learn. You’ll need to keep him charged and clean. Unlike with other Tamagotchis, you won’t have to clear up any poop from R2-D2 (he’s a droid, after all). A Lucasfilm spokesperson told Engadget that if R2-D2 sits for too long, he’ll accumulate dust. You can clean that away with the press of a button.

There are nine mini-games you can play with him, including firefighting and Star Wars staple Dejarik (or holochess). If you don’t keep the droid happy, some Jawas might arrive to take him away….

(15) FROM OUTSIDE OF TIME. Episode 37 of Octothorpe 37, a podcast about science fiction and SF fandom from John Coxon, Alison Scott, and Liz Batty, is available here.

 We didn’t record this week so this is the fabled EPISODE X, part of the SUMMER OF FUN (summer of fun). We discuss the Retro Hugo Awards and reading old books from a time when Graham Linehan was still on Twitter. Crazy.

(16) MINUS MEN. Y: The Last Man premieres September 13 — on FX on Hulu.

Based on DC Comics’ acclaimed series by Brian K. Vaughan and Pia Guerra, Y: The Last Man traverses a post-apocalyptic world in which a cataclysmic event decimates every mammal with a Y chromosome but for one cisgender man and his pet monkey. The series follows the survivors in this new world as they struggle with their efforts to restore what was lost and the opportunity to build something better.

(17) THE STARS BYE DESTINATION. Gizmodo knows why “This Blasted Star Is Getting the Hell Out of the Milky Way”.

Careening through the Milky Way at nearly 2 million miles per hour, the star LP 40–365 shows no signs of stopping. A team of astronomers recently figured out that the star was propelled into its current speedrun by a supernova explosion millions of years ago.

LP 40–365 is unusual. It’s a white dwarf, a small, compact star at the end of its life, and it’s very rich in metals. LP 40–365 also has own atmosphere, which is mostly composed of oxygen and neon. But most important to this story is that the star is a runaway from a huge stellar explosion, which set in motion its dash out of the galaxy….

(18) VIDEO OF THE DAY. In “Honest Game Trailers: Mario Golf”,  Fandom Games says this Mario Bros. line extension “turns the fusty game of golf into the PGA version of Death Race.”

[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, N., John Coxon, Daniel Dern, Scott Edelman, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, Michael Toman, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to contributing editor of the day Andrew (not Werdna).]