Pixel Scroll 3/13/21 If You Like Antikythera, And Getting Caught In The Rain

(1) WHAT MONEY CAN’T BUY. ALLEGEDLY. “’Batman Is Ours Alone to Exploit.’ DC Comics Warns Against Using Its Characters in NFTs”Yahoo! Finance has the story. (Does that headline remind you of “All These Worlds Are Yours, Except Europa. Attempt No Landing There” – or is it just me?)

Publisher DC Comics, a subsidiary of Warner Bros, itself a unit of Time Warner, is unhappy with artists using its intellectual property (IP) in the form of non-fungible tokens (NFTs) and said it has its own plans for characters.  

In a letter sent to freelancers employed by the firm Thursday, Jay Kogan, DC Comics’ senior VP of legal affairs, stressed it is against company policy to sell digital images featuring DC’s IP with or without NFTs.

… Recently NFTs have become a craze with millions of dollars being spent on rare or desirable digital artworks. On Thursday, a piece of digital artwork or NFT by crypto artist Beeple was sold for a record $69.3 million by the auction house Christie’s….

What is a non-fungible token? Wikipedia says:

Non-Fungible Token (NFT) is a digital file whose unique identity and ownership are verified on a blockchain (a digital ledger). NFTs are not mutually interchangeable (see fungibility). NFTs to things such as a digital artwork are commonly auctioned at online NFT marketplaces. The token can be bought with cryptocurrency and resold.

NFTs are used to commodify digital things, such as digital art, video game items, and music files. Access to any copy of the original file, however, is not restricted to the owner of the token.

(2) WHO STARTED THIS SUBGENRE ANYWAY? Jeff Somers goes looking for “The Untold Truth Of The Origins Of Cyberpunk” at Grunge. (Even if you lived this history, a refresher course might be helpful just the same.)

These days, the word cyberpunk conjures up images of Keanu Reeves and, per Gizmodo, terribly, horribly broken video games.

Cyberpunk, a sub-genre of science fiction that explores a counter-cultural and anti-authoritarian worldview through the lens of a dystopian, technologically-advanced, and dehumanized future, has proved to be prescient. No other genre of speculative fiction has remained as relevant and useful over the course of decades. Cyberpunk stories are as powerful as ever, and examples dating back decades remain evergreen in a way that most sci-fi can’t manage….

…In the early 1980s, two short stories clarified the fact that this wasn’t just a loose collection of themes and tropes, but rather a distinct sub-genre of science fiction. As noted by The Verge, the first was “Burning Chrome” by William Gibson, published in 1982. Not only did this story literally introduce the word “cyberspace” to our vocabulary, it’s often identified as the first true example of cyberpunk. It tells the story of two hackers who use sophisticated software to steal a criminal’s fortune, only to be left bereft and heartbroken.

The word “cyberpunk” didn’t exist yet, however. As reported by the Encyclopedia Britannica, that happened when Bruce Bethke published a short story in 1982 that (per Infinityplus) was literally titled “Cyberpunk.” According to Neon Dystopia, Bethke purposefully invented the word to describe a future generation that would combine the nihilism and violence of angry teenagers with technical proficiency….

(3) FANHISTORY ONLINE. Joe Siclari provides a roundup of the incredible number of recent additions to The Fanac Fan History Project website in Fanac Newsletter 15 [PDF file]. A big part of their work is scanning fanzines and securing permission to host them online.

…The reason for digitally archiving fanzines is to make them accessible to fans everywhere. When someone hears how wonderful a storied fanzine like Quandry or The Acolyte was, they can use the archive to read the issues instead of just wonder what they were like. Originally, in the 1990s, we started retyping issues (and hey, thanks Judy Bemis!). In the 2000s we started putting up JPGs of each page, so readers could just click their way through. Now, we’re putting up searchable PDFs. One of our projects is to replace those fanzines that were accessible in typed or JPG form with searchable PDFs. Since the last newsletter, we have replaced our complete runs of the following titles with searchable PDFs: Aporrheta (H. P. Sanderson), Bane (Vic Ryan), Double Bill (Bill Bowers and Bill Mallardi), Fanscient (Donald Day), Fantastic Worlds (Edward Ludwig and Sam Sackett), Granfalloon (Linda Bushyager), Hyphen (Walt Willis and Chuck Harris), Innuendo (Terry Carr), Mota (Terry Hughes), Slant (Walter A. Willis), Stellar (Ted White and Larry Stark), Toto (Walt Willis et al), and Void (Jim and Greg Benford, Ted White). We’ve also replaced all the issues we have of: Cry of the Nameless (134 issues, F. M. Busby, Wally Weber, et al), Outworlds (70 issues, Bill Bowers, except for a one page flyer), and Spanish Inquisition (8 issues, Jerry Kaufman and Suzle Tompkins).

The latest newsletter includes two short and rather interesting articles about applying genealogical research to answer fanhistorical questions.

  • “Other people’s genealogy” by Leah Zeldes

…Transferring the list of names, I realized at least a third of the pre-reg members of Chicon, the 1940 Worldcon, were fictitious — alter egos of some of the others. Forry Ackerman accounts for at least seven of them…

  • “Using Genealogical Records to Find More Information on (Mostly Dead) Fans” by Laurie Mann

… Recently, I’ve started to give Mark Olson & Leah [Zeldes] Smith a hand with research for Fancyclopedia 3. We were trying to straighten out how some attendees of the 1939 Worldcon, Nycon 1, were related. There were a few attendees with the same last name (https://fancyclopedia.org/Nycon_1_Membership_List). Were they related? Multiple Nycon 1 registrants had last names like Alberti, Racic, Sykora, & Unger. I searched in the 1930 census through ancestry.com to see what I could find….

(4) DRACULA HAS QUESTIONS. In the Washington Post, Alexandra Petri says Dracula has been a good citizen and has been hiding in his castle, but now that the vaccine is coming, he wants to know if the vaccine has garlic in it and if he flies around as a bat during the day, does he have to wear a mask? “I have not left my castle in ages, and I have some questions about post-vaccine guidelines”.

…Yes, CDC, I have been living in seclusion for some time, unable to go out and about and enjoy all the delicacies of taste that I would wish. So my questions for you are legion. First: Should I get the vaccine? The only doctor I know, Van Helsing, counseled strongly against my receiving the vaccine at all, but in the past he has tried to stab me through the heart with a sharpened wooden stake, and I fear he does not have my best interests in mind….

(5) HE DID THE MASH. “Hergé’s heirs sue artist over his Tintin/Edward Hopper mashups”The Guardian has the story.

A French artist who imagines romantic adventures for the boy adventurer Tintin in the landscapes of Edward Hopper has been sued by the Tintin creator Hergé’s heirs, who said it was not funny to take advantage of Tintin by putting him in an erotic universe, especially as Hergé had chosen not to caricature women.

In Breton artist Xavier Marabout’s Hergé-Hopper mashupsTintin is variously painted into Hopper’s Road and Houses, scratching his head as he greets a woman in a car; looking disgruntled in a version of Hopper’s Cape Cod Evening, 1939; and kissing a girl in a car, in a spin on Hopper’s Queensborough Bridge, 1913. On his website, Marabout describes his work as “strip art”, in which he “strips distant artistic universes to merge them together” in a style where “parody [is] omnipresent”….

(6) CROWN RESTORED. “’Avatar’ once again highest-grossing film of all time at the box office”CNBC explains how the 2009 movie regained the record.

…Over the weekend, James Cameron’s sci-fi epic was rereleased in China and garnered enough in ticket sales to overtake “Avengers: Endgame” for the record.

“Avatar” first became the top-selling global release of all time in 2010 when it usurped Cameron’s “Titanic.” In 2019, “Avengers: Endgame” won the title with a $2.797 billion box office haul.

As of Saturday, “Avatar’s” box office gross surpassed $2.802 billion, allowing it to earn back its crown…

(7) CAT WITH NO HAT. “Sam and Bucky Debate If Doctor Strange Is a Wizard in Comedic Sneak Peek” at Yahoo! Entertainment.

…In the wake of the events of Avengers: Endgame, Sam and Bucky will team up for “a global adventure that tests their abilities — and their patience.” The six-episode spinoff is set to be a “cinematic experience” in which the pair navigate a world post-Steve Rogers’ Captain America. Expect plenty of action and more pop culture references.

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]

  • Born March 13, 1855 – Percival Lowell.  Founder of the Lowell Observatory.  Three books he meant as nonfiction, MarsMars and Its CanalsMars as the Abode of Life; posthumously published poem “The Canals of Mars”.  Honorary degrees from Amherst and from Clark.  Prix Jules Janssen.  Traveled in and wrote about Japan and Korea.  Better data later showed his astronomical life-work was mistaken, but let us not minimize him.  (Died 1916) [JH]
  • Born March 13, 1911 – L. Ron Hubbard.  Never aspiring to great literature, he may have achieved it with Fear; he sought to be, and was, a first-rate yarn-spinner; his stories sold, among us and in Westerns, aviation, travel, romance.  So fluent he used many pseudonyms.  I’ve always liked the Ole Doc Methuselah stories, comedy on the science fiction – fantasy border; look for the Edd Cartier illustrations.  H toward the end of his life turned out another dozen novels in the old pulp style.  Battlefield Earth, the first of them, has a hero who loves his horse more than his girl; when he’s beaten the evil aliens, we get to wonder who was behind them, which proves to be interstellar bankers – sharkmen.  (Died 1986) [JH]
  • Born March 13, 1928 Douglas Rain. Though most of his work was as a stage actor, he was the voice of the HAL 9000 for 2001: A Space Odyssey and its sequel. He’s in Sleeper a few years later as the voices of the Evil Computer and Various Robot Butlers. (Died 2018.) (CE) 
  • Born March 13, 1932 Richard Lawrence Purtill, He’s here because EoSF lists him as the author of Murdercon, a 1982 novel where a murder is discovered at a SF Convention. I’ve not heard of it but was wondering if y’all had heard of this work. (Died 2016.) (CE) 
  • Born March 13, 1933 – Diane Dillon, age 83.  Widow of Leo Dillon; they worked together so intimately they sometimes said their graphic art was by a third person made of them both; anyway among our very best, likewise outside our field.  A hundred sixty covers, two hundred twenty interiors for us.  No. 10 here has my note on LD.  More? certainly: here is Mother Goose, Numbers on the Loosehere is Le Morte d’Arthurhere is To Every Thing There Is a Seasonhere is The People Could Fly; here here is 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea.  [JH]
  • Born March 13, 1934 – Barry Hughart.  Lovable for Bridge of Birds (World Fantasy Award, Mythopoeic Award) and two sequels, set in “an Ancient China that never was”, or as one of us said, “filled with Chinese legend, mostly invented by the author…. [its] verisimilitude demonstrates the care with which Hughart studied actual Chinese folklore and history”, hello Steven.  Also worked on eight movies (will films pass out of use, or continue like hang up the telephone?).  So far this Website can still be viewed.  (Died 2019) [JH]
  • Born March 13, 1944 – Bonnie Dalzell, age 77.  Four covers, thirty interiors.  Here is the Apr 76 Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction.  Here is the May 77 Galaxy.  Here is a Pierson’s Puppeteer; here is a bandersnatch.  Official Artist at Boskone 12.  Contributor to Mythologies.   [JH]
  • Born March 13, 1950 William H. Macy Jr., 71. I’ll start his Birthday note by noting that he was in the superb Pleasantville as George Parker. He’s shown up in a lot of genre works including but limited to Somewhere in Time, Evolver, The Secret of NIMH 2: Timmy to the RescueThe Night of the Headless HorsemanJurassic Park IIISahara and The Tale of Despereaux. (CE) 
  • Born March 13, 1956 Dana Delany, 65. I’ve come today to praise her work as a voice actress. She was in a number of DCU animated films, first as Andrea Beaumont in Batman: The Mask of The Phantasm, then as Lois Lane in Superman: The Animated SeriesSuperman: Brainiac Attacks and Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox. (That’s not a complete listing.) Remember that Wing Commander film? Well there was an animated series, Wing Commander Academy, in which she was Gwen Archer Bowman. And though definitely not genre or even genre related, i must single out her role in Tombstone. (CE) 
  • Born March 13, 1959 – Steve Davies, age 62.  Chaired Eastercon 50.  Member, RSFG (Reading SF Group, i.e. of Berkshire, England; it ‘has a proud tradition of not organising things’).  Chaired Birmingham Univ. SF Soc.  Active in the PLOKTA (Press Lots Of Keys To Abort, ‘the journal of superfluous technology’) Cabal, thus part of two Nova awards and a Hugo for Best Fanzine. Composes filksongs (linking to Fancyclopedia III although I still think the Wikipedia article with E. Bull and P. Nielsen Hayden is swell).  [JH]
  • Born March 13, 1966 Alastair Reynolds, 55. As depressing as they are given what they lead up to, The Prefect Dreyfus novels are my favorite novels by him. That said, Chasm City is fascinating. The only ones by him that I absolutely failed to have any enthusiasm for is his Revenger Universe series which leaves me cold. His next novel in the Revelation Space series, Inhibitor Phase, is out this July. (CE) 
  • Born March 13, 1967 Lou Anders, 54. A Hugo-winning editor. He’s has been editorial director of Prometheus Books’ SF imprint Pyr since its launch fifteen years ago. He’s a crack editor of anthologies. I’ve very fond of his Live Without a Net,  Sideways in Time and FutureShocks anthologies. I note that he has a fantasy trilogy, Thrones and Bones, but I’ve not heard of it til now. (CE) 
  • Born March 13, 1986 – Ashley Christman, age 35.  Three novels.  “Grace Caldwell [is] so intimately connected with death that it frightens her….  Vampires are afraid of her and the Sidhe are confused by her….  her ex-boyfriend, FBI agent Jack Montgomery, blackmails her into helping him solve [omitted – JH].

(9) START THE PRESSES! “Marvel is going back to print on comics that sold out thanks to WandaVision craze” reports Yahoo! (In a way, Gene Wolfe would be shocked. He used to say – sarcastically – that the difference between a professional publisher and a fanzine editor is that if a faned sells out his zine he’ll print more.)

Never doubt Wanda Maximoff’s power to change reality. Her starring role in the Disney+ series WandaVision didn’t just dominate pop culture discourse for the past few months, it also has created a huge run on many of the most relevant Marvel comics featuring Scarlet Witch and the Vision.

EW has confirmed that Marvel has been going back to press for new print runs of Vision by Tom King and Gabriel Hernandez Walta, Scarlet Witch by James Robinson and various artists, and Vision and Scarlet Witch by Steve Englehart and artists like Don Heck and Bill Mantlo, among other comics. House of M, the 2005 event series in which Wanda changed the entire reality of the Marvel Universe to one where her adoptive father Magneto ruled over mankind, had its print stock depleted “almost overnight” in the wake of WandaVision‘s premiere.

(10) SECRET IDENTITIES. “This Jewish female artist from the comic book golden age was overlooked for decades” at Jewish Telegraphic Agency.

Like the comic superheroes they invented, the Jewish creators of the characters often had secret identities – at least different names. Superman creators Joe Shuster and Jerome Siegel used the pseudonyms Joe Carter and Jerry Ess. Bob Kane, born Robert Kahn, created Batman. Jack Kirby, the pen name of Jacob Kurtzenberg, concocted Captain America.

Although lesser known, the comic book heroine Señorita Rio was Hollywood starlet Rita Farrar by day and Nazi-fighting secret agent by night. The artist who drew Rio’s action-packed panels in the 1940s, and signed as L. Renee, lived a sort of double life, too.

“Everybody assumed I was a man,” artist Lily Renee Phillips has said of the fan mail she received at the time, which was always addressed to “Mr. Renee.” Fans knew neither Renee’s gender nor her incredible origin story, which rivaled the plotline of Señorita Rio. 

In the New York offices of Fiction House, the comic book publishing firm where Renee worked, she was a scrappy immigrant who worked her way up from erasing pencil marks to drafting her own heroines. Outside work she was a Vienna-born Holocaust survivor who fled Austria after the 1938 Anschluss, the Nazi annexation of Austria. She escaped to England on a Kindertransport and reunited with her parents in New York in 1940….

(11) WORLDBUILDING IS CHARACTER BUILDING. In “The Mystery Is The Human Psyche: On Shakespeare, Crime, and Human Motivation” on CrimeReads, E.J. Beaton discusses how she studied Shakespeare’s use of psychology in her DAW fantasy novel The Councillor.

…If Julius Caesar were simply a retelling of political events, it wouldn’t be so compelling. The real drama lies not in how the assassination is arranged, but in why the main characters commit their crimes. Both Cassius and Brutus have feelings about Caesar as a person, and both have ideas about power and justice. One man prioritizes his envy, and the other lets his ideals override his friendship: that is where the humanity lies. We all choose between emotion and logic in our daily lives, and even high-ranking politicians question their loyalty to their leaders, oscillating between personal values and collective order….

Another dimension of Beaton’s novel is discussed in “My Favorite Bit: E.J. Beaton Talks About THE COUNCILLOR” at Mary Robinette Kowal’s blog.

…While I worked on my debut novel The Councillor, I realised that I wanted my main character, Lysande, to live in a world where being bisexual is normal. Because The Councillor is a fantasy novel, I had the chance to create a world where Lysande’s sexuality is not only accepted, but utterly unremarkable. She has a parcel of secrets to conceal, but in the realm of Elira, where the story is set, her sexuality isn’t one of those. I tried to people the story with other queer characters, and to include casual references to same-sex couples, too.

By the time I finished the novel, a word for these kinds of societies was floating around fantasy book spaces – “queernorm.” The power of that word rings in its very sound. Queerness is, by definition, strangeness, and in most societies, queer people are positioned as other to the cultural norm of straightness. So for queer to be norm sounds like a revolution. It feels like a sudden leap into full sun, hart-swift, with no going back.

(12) BE CAREFUL OUT THERE. CrimeRead’s Cynthia Pelayo says “Fairy Tales Are Dark For a Reason—They’re Trying to Warn Us About Danger”.

…It’s thought that the brothers [Grimm] kept much of the grim and gore, even heightening it a bit, because it stoked reader’s interests. Murder and mayhem sells. It’s also thought then that situations like mentions of pre-marital sex, like in Rapunzel, where her young suitor climbs into her tower, was omitted—or quickly glossed over.

So why did the brothers leave in so much terror, and I suppose why did Walt Disney find these tales suitable to adapt into childhood fantasy? Perhaps the horrible things were left in as a warning. That is all that most of us can assume right now, because in many fairy tales it is clear to interpret who is the protagonist and who is the villain. The lines are usually clearly drawn between good and evil, and in fairy tales, very often that evil is by chance—just like in life.

(13) VIDEO OF THE DAY. “System Error” from DUST.

George works at a convenience store, desperately hoping for a friend. But George is a robotic service unit, and robotic service units do not have friends. Not yet, anyway.

[Thanks to Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, JJ, Michael Toman, Martin Morse Wooster, John King Tarpinian, Cat Eldridge, and John Hertz for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editors of the day Bill and Andrew (not Werdna).]