Pixel Scroll 8/1/20 Scrollers Tick
In Vain

(1) WORLDCON ENDS: FILM AT ELEVEN. Watching CoNZealand’s Closing Ceremonies brought back a memory —

When Winnipeg started its bid for the 1994 Worldcon, chair John Mansfield had everybody on the committee fill out a questionnaire about their interests. On the last day of the convention he returned these forms to everyone saying, “Okay. Here’s your life back.”

At today’s Closing Ceremonies the gavel passed to DisCon III’s Bill Lawhorn and Colette H. Fozard.

(2) TABLE SERVICE. Camestros Felapton illustrates an aspect of the 2020 Hugo Award nomination process in “EPH Fan Writer”.

… As each person is eliminated, the points get redistributed. By looking at the change in points for each surviving nominee, you can calculate the proportion of points that the survivor gets from the eliminated.

(3) THE PAST THROUGH TOMORROW. There are several good rundowns on the problems with last night’s Hugo Awards ceremony, including this one from Sean Reads Sci-Fi, “Uh-Oh, the Hugos Were a Hot Mess!”, which includes some good excerpts from the acceptance speeches.

…Some of the history was admittedly interesting, but I kept waiting for Martin to catch up to the present day, to illustrate how the long arc of the Hugos has bent toward justice, how the field continues to evolve to this day. He never did. He stayed rooted firmly in the past, and as the night wore on his stubborn refusal to acknowledge current movements in SF/F began to feel pointedly exclusionary rather than just incidentally so.

And I haven’t even mentioned the names! To mispronounce someone’s name live is one thing. As a teacher, I can attest to the fact that you will occasionally get someone’s name wrong on the first day. But (a) they had plenty of time to practice, (b) they almost certainly were given pronunciation guides by most authors, and (c) this doesn’t excuse the constant mispronunciations during pre-recoded segments, unless, of course, Martin refused to re-record them, which is its own set of problems. The folks behind the scenes should have done more to vet these segments, and should have pushed back harder when it became clear what Martin was doing.

What’s fascinating to me, though, is how the awards themselves drew such a sharp contrast to the nostalgic navel-gazing of the toastmaster. It really felt like the past and the future colliding – and the future won. Literally! The winners often talked about systemic problems within the industry, about the fights that we still have to fight, about the hard work that women, people of color, queer folks, and others have to do in order to even be considered alongside the white/cis/het fuddy-duddies running last night’s show. It was such a welcome breath of fresh air, for instance, when R.F. Kuang, one of the first winners, emphasized the barriers that she faced getting into the field:

If I were talking to a new writer coming to the genre in 2020, I would tell them, well, if you are an author of color, you will very likely be paid only a fraction of the advance that white writers are getting. You will be pigeon-holed, you will be miscategorized, you will be lumped in with other authors of color whose work doesn’t remotely resemble yours. Chances are very high that you will be sexually harassed at conventions or the target of racist micro-aggressions or very often just overt racism. People will mispronounce your name, repeatedly, and in public, even people who are on your publishing team. Your cover art will be racist, and the way people talk about you and your literature will be tied to identity and your personal trauma instead of the stories you are actually trying to tell. If I had known all of that when I went into the industry, I don’t know if I would have done it, so I think that the best way we can celebrate new writers is to make this industry more welcoming for everyone.

R.F. KUANG, ASTOUNDING AWARD FOR THE BEST NEW SF WRITER

This was refreshing precisely because it’s an aspect of the history of the awards and of the fandom in general that George R.R. Martin, in his endless panegyrics to days gone by, refused to even acknowledge. Pointing out the deep-rooted, structural, and personal racism and sexism at the heart of the industry isn’t a sign of ingratitude – it’s a sign of strength and resolve in the face of tough barriers. As Ng put it in her speech:

Pulling down memorials to dead racists is not the erasing of history, it is how we make history … It would be irresponsible for me to stand here and congratulate us as a community without reminding us that the fight isn’t over and that it extends well beyond the pages of our books … Let us be better than the legacies that have been left us. Let them not be prophecies. Let there be a revolution in our time.

JEANNETTE NG, BEST RELATED WORK

That revolution was in strong form last night, as most winners took the time to celebrate marginalized voices and denounce the forces that marginalized them in the first place. I keep coming back to Martine’s speech, as well – to the knife that hurts all the more because you loved it before it cut you. A trenchant description of an industry and a genre that many loved but were excluded from for so long. That is, thankfully, changing. Not fast enough to prevent last night’s debacle – but fast enough to allow for last night’s inspiring wins

(4) GRRM RESPONSE. George R.R. Martin has commented here on File 770 about some of the reports and criticisms in circulation, beginning with – http://file770.com/2020-hugo-awards/comment-page-2/#comment-1205393

Whoever is circulating the story that I was asked to re-record portions of my Hugo hosting to correct mispronounced names, and that I refused, is (1) mistaken, or (2) lying. Never happened.

CoNZealand did ask me to re-record three of my videos, all for reasons for quality control: poor lighting, poor sound, wobbly camera. I complied with their request on two of the videos, the two that opened the evening; I re-did those live from the JCC. (The originals had been done in my cabin on an iPhone, when we were just trying to get the hang of this thing). The third segment they wanted re-recorded was the bit about the Hugo trophy, where I had some fun with the juicer, the Alfie, and the like. In that case, we decided to stay with the first take, since I no longer had the props on hand and could not easily have reproduced what I’d done at the cabin, which everyone seemed to like.

There is also a story out there that I was provided with the correct phonetic pronunciations of all the names. That too is completely untrue….

(5) YOUR NEW HUGO LOSERS HOSTS. Who wouldn’t sign up for that?

(6) GROWING PAINS. Scott Edelman stirred up some memories that were called out by his sister-in-law in service of an anti-Vietnam War protest.

(7) LEM STORY DRAMATIZED. “Review: A Sci-Fi Classic Featuring a Multiverse of Stooges” comes recommended by a New York Times reviewer.

…You wouldn’t think that the 4-foot-wide by 8-foot-tall space, approximately the same shape as an iPhone screen, would be big enough for a play, let alone an avant-garde company. Yet the closet, only 2 feet deep, is one of the stars of Gelb’s Theater in Quarantine series, which since late March has produced, on a biweekly schedule, some of the new medium’s most imaginative work from some of its simplest materials. As in silent movies, clowning, movement and mime are usually part of the mix.

“The 7th Voyage of Egon Tichy,” which was livestreamed on Thursday evening and will remain available in perpetuity on Gelb’s YouTube channel, has all of those and then some. Based on a 1957 story by Stanislaw Lem, the Polish science fiction writer most famous for “Solaris,” it concerns an astronaut named Egon who, passing through a minefield of gravitational vortexes, is caught in a causal loop paradox that bombards him with innumerable (and insufferable) alternative selves.

Lem’s story is a satire of the infinite human capacity for self-defeat, with the various Egon incarnations bickering and undermining one another as the gyrations of space-time bend them into conflict. When “a meteor no bigger than a pea” pierces the ship’s hull, destroying the rudder, everyone has ideas about fixing it — but since it’s a two-man job, making cooperation essential, nothing actually gets done.

(8) HEARING A DISCOURAGING WORD. Entertainment Weekly’s Darren Franich asks “Why are all these science-fiction shows so awful?”

Science fiction was once a niche TV commodity, but March brought three major live-action genre projects. Star Trek: Picard finished its debut season on CBS All Access. FX shared Devs with Hulu, pitching the miniseries as prestige bait for the chattering class. Season 3 of Westworld was HBO’s new hope for a buzzy, sexy-violent epic. And they were all terrible….

I get it: We are all scared of phones, and bots, and the Algorithm. Yet by demonizing technology, these projects oddly exonerate the people behind that technology. CEOs with tragic origin stories in Westworld or Devs are puppets for machines they can’t control. Higher-tech powers in Brave New World and “You May Also Like” control whole civilizations comprised of unaware humans.

(9) LIBRARIES TAKE HEAT IN CANADA. Publishers Weekly has the story:“Canadian Libraries Respond to ‘Globe and Mail’ Essay Attacking Public Libraries”.

[Intro] Editors Note: In a nearly 3,000 word opinion piece published on July 25 in ‘The Globe and Mail’ Kenneth Whyte, publisher of Toronto-based indie Sutherland House Books, pinned the troubles of Canada’s independent bookstores and publishers on the work of public libraries….

Publishers Weekly reprinted the Canadian Urban Libraries Council’s response:

It is otherwise hard to understand why public libraries are to blame when bookstores and libraries have coexisted harmoniously and supported each other for decades.

So what’s changed? While there are a lot of changes that point to shifts in the marketplace, such as the research identifying a decline in leisure reading, coupled with less and less space for literary reviews in major news outlets, these are minor compared to the two major developments that have dramatically altered the book and reading landscape—and they have nothing to do with public libraries. First is the explosive growth in popularity of e-books and digital audiobooks. Second, is the increasing dominance of Amazon in the book retail and publishing marketplace.

(10) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

  • August 1, 1986Howard The Duck premiered. Directed by Water Huyck and produced by Gloria Katz who were also the screenplay writers.  George Lucas was executive producer. Its human stars were Lea Thompson, Jeffrey Jones and Tim Robbins. Howard The Duck was Ed Gale in the suit with the voice being Chip Zien. Critics almost unanimously hated it, it bombed at the box office, and audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes currently give it a 38% rating. It would be the last Marvel Film until Captain American twenty-one years later. (CE)

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]

  • Born August 1, 1819 – Herman Melville.  Without debating – though some do – how far Moby-Dick is fantasy, we can claim some more clearly – hmm, maybe not the best word with this writer – anyway, “Bartleby”, “The Tartarus of Maids”, “The Encantadas”, let’s say nine or ten.  John Clute would include The Confidence-Man.  (Died 1891) [JH]
  • Born August 1, 1898 – William Ziff.  I mean Ziff Sr., though Ziff Jr. is noteworthy too.  The elder was the Ziff in Ziff-Davis Publishing, which took over Amazing from Hugo Gernsback, added Fantastic Adventures, comics with art director Jerry Siegel and e.g. John Buscema.  I happen to think this cover for Weird Adventures 10 is feminist – look how the man is fascinated while the woman with him knows they should fear – but then I think Glory Road is feminist, and how many see that?  (Died 1953) [JH]
  • Born August 1, 1910 Raymond A. Palmer. Editor of Amazing Stories from 1938 through 1949. He’s credited, along with Walter Dennis, with editing the first fanzine, The Comet, in May, 1930. The secret identity of DC character the Atom as created by genre writer Gardner Fox is named after Palmer. Very little of his fiction is available in digital form. (Died 1977.) (CE)
  • Born August 1, 1914 – Edd Cartier.  Oh, how great he was.  Eventually we put him on two Retrospective Hugo ballots.  We think of him as a comedian; true enough, but see this cover for Foundation and Empire.  Vince Di Fate knew; see his treatment of EC in Infinite Worlds.  World Fantasy Lifetime Achievement Award.  (Died 2008)  [JH]
  • Born August 1, 1923 Alan Yates. Though better known under the Carter Brown name where he wrote some one hundred and fifty mystery novels, I’m noting him here for Booty for a Babe, a Fifties mystery novel published under that name as it’s was set at a SF Convention. (Available from the Kindle store.) And as Paul Valdez, he wrote a baker’s dozen genre stories. (Died 1985.) (CE)
  • Born August 1, 1930 Geoffrey Holder. Best-remembered for his performance as Baron Samedi in Live and Let Die but he’s also the narrator in Tim Burton’s Charlie and The Chocolate Factory. He was also Willie Shakespeare in Doctor Doolittle but it’s been so long since I saw the film that I can’t picture his character. And he was The Cheshire Cat in the Alice in Wonderland that had Richard Burton as The White Knight. (Died 2014.) (CE)
  • Born August 1, 1945 – Yvonne Rousseau, 75.  Author, editor, critic, long-time fan.  Australian SF Review, 2nd Series with J. & R. Blackford, Foyster, Sussex, Webb.  Three short stories and a novelette.  Contributor to Banana WingsChungaFlagFoundationJourney PlanetThe Metaphysical Review, Riverside QuarterlySF CommentarySF Eye.  Fan Guest of Honour at ConFictionary, where the fire alarm went off and the hotel actually was on fire.  [JH]
  • Born August 1, 1954 James Gleick, 66. Author of, among many other books, Genius: The Life and Science of Richard Feynman and What Just Happened: A Chronicle from the Electronic Frontier, and he is one of us in that he writes genre reviews which are collected in Time Travel: A History. Among the works he’s reviewed are Le Guin’s “Another Story or A Fisherman of the Inland Sea” and Heinlein ‘s “By His Bootstraps”.  (CE)
  • Born August 1, 1955 Annabel Jankel, 65. Director who was first  a music video director and then the co-creator and director of Max Headroom. She and her partner Rocky Morton first created and directed The Max Talking Headroom Show, a mix of interviews and music vids which aired on Channel 4 and HBO. Jankel and Morton would go on to direct Super Mario Bros. And they’re both responsible for the Max Headroom movie and series. (CE)
  • Born August 1, 1969 – Dirk Berger, 51.  Five dozen covers, a score of interiors.  Here is Sucker Punch.  Here is Empire Dreams.  Here is Nova 23.  Here is his Website.  [JH]
  • Born August 1, 1979 Jason Momoa, 41. I knew I’d seen him before he showed up as Aquaman in the DC film franchise and I was right as he was Ronon Dex on Stargate Atlantis for its entire run. He was also Khal Drogo in the first season of A Game of Thrones. And not surprisingly, he was the title character in Conan the Barbarian. (CE)
  • Born August 1, 1993 – Tomi Adeyemi, 27.  Children of Blood and BoneChildren of Virtue and Vengeance, both NY Times Best Sellers.  Norton Award, Waterstones Book Prize, Lodestar Award.  Parents thought she’d be better off if they didn’t teach her their native tongue (they’re Yoruba), so with an honors degree from Harvard she got a fellowship to study it in Brazil.  Website here.  [JH]

(12) COMICS SECTION.

  • Non Sequitur offers a suggestion on how to get started on that post-apocalyptic novel.

(13) BE PREPARED. A Public Service Announcement from the Dread Pirate Roberts channeling Inigo Montoya.

(14) ADVICE FOR SFF POETS. Veteran editor of Star*Line and Mobius: A Journal for Social Change “gives some surprising insights on submissions” in this interview conducted by Melane Stormm at SPECPO.

A must watch for any writer, but especially if you identify as female or if you’re feeling hesitant to submit your work someplace.

(15) ON BRADBURY’S SHELVES. The second installment of Phil Nichols’ Bradbury 100 podcast had dropped.

My guest is Jason Aukerman, Managing Director of the Center for Ray Bradbury Studies. The “Bradbury Center”, as it’s known for short, is the place where Ray’s working papers are held in archive, along with the contents of Ray’s personal library, and many of his professional and personal artefacts such as awards, videotapes and film prints.

(16) BALESTRIERI JOINS READ-A-THON. A Bradbury Read-A-Thon is planned as part of the author’s centenary celebration: “Iowan to join top authors, celebs in sci-fi ‘read-a-thon’” RadioIowa has the story.

A library curator at the University of Iowa will join “Star Trek” actor William Shatner and a list of other celebrities, authors and science fiction experts in a Ray Bradbury Read-a-thon next month. The event on August 22nd will mark what would have been the famed author’s 100th birthday.

Peter Balestrieri, curator of science fiction and popular culture collections at the UI Libraries, says he’s thrilled to be taking part.

“The Read-a-thon will be about 40 people reading segments of Ray Bradbury’s famous novel, ‘Fahrenheit 451,’” Balestrieri says. “All of the clips from all of the different readers will be put together into one seamless audio-visual book.”

Balestrieri will read a six-minute portion of the book as part of the roughly-four-hour event. Top sci-fi authors who will also read aloud include Neil Gaiman, Marjorie Liu and Steven Barnes, as well as former NASA administrator Charles Bolden.

(17) THAT’S NOT GOOD NEWS. “Nasa: Mars spacecraft is experiencing technical problems and has gone into hibernation, space agency says” at Yahoo! News.

Nasa‘s Mars spacecraft is experiencing technical problems and has sent itself into hibernation, the space agency has said.

The spacecraft was sent to space Thursday in a launch that had no technical problems – even despite an earthquake that struck just before liftoff, and a preparation period that came during the coronavirus outbreak. Shortly after it was launched, Nasa announced that it had received its first signal from the spacecraft.

But soon after it was in space and headed towards Mars, it became apparent that something had gone wrong with the craft. After that initial signal, mission controllers received more detailed telemetry or spacecraft data that showed there had been a problem.

The signal, which arrived on Thursday afternoon, showed that the spacecraft had entered a state known as “safe mode”. That shuts down all but its essential systems, until it receives new messages from ission control.

The hibernation state is intended to allow the spacecraft to protect itself in the case of unexpected conditions, and will be triggered when the onboard computer receives data that shows something is not as expected.

Nasa’s engineers think that the state was triggered because part of the spacecraft was colder than expected while it was still in Earth’s shadow. The spacecraft has now left that shadow and temperatures are now normal, Nasa said in an update.

Mission controllers will now conduct a “full health assessment”, the space agency said, and are “working to return the spacecraft to a nominal configuration for its journey to Mars”.

(18) TOLKIEN SAYS. At BookRiot: “28 J.R.R. Tolkien Quotes From His Books, Essays, And Letters”.

“‘I wish it need not have happened in my time,’ said Frodo.
‘So do I,’ said Gandalf, ‘and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.’” —The Fellowship of the Ring

(19) NAVIGATING ON VIRTUAL SEAS. Mlex reports  on the Cyberpunk Culture Con (July 9-10), with some commentary on other virtual cons (BaltiCon, ConZealand, Fantastikon): “Cyberpunk Culture Conference”.

…I want to report on the recent virtual con, the Cyberpunk Culture Conference (Jul 9-10, 2020), which managed to swim perfectly through the fantastic milieu of the future that has already become the past, and floated out from the wreckage on that frenzied ouroboros of possibility waves as easily as a swimmer takes to an inflated tire inner tube on a summer pond.

The conference sprang up around recent books published by Routledge, which are quite excellent, I should add…

(20) 3D. [Item by Daniel Dern.] Great article about racing and 3D printing — “3-D Printing, a Boon for Racers, Inches Closer for Carmakers” — in the New York Times. Here’s two key ‘graphs from the top:

The Belgian racing team Heli had an engine problem. Specifically, under race conditions, the manifold of the four-cylinder turbo diesel in its BMW 1-series exploded, bursting along an ultrasonically welded seam that held together the manifold’s two halves.

…In 2018 Heli took the problem to ZiggZagg, a Belgian company that fabricates parts using an HP 3-D printer. ZiggZagg made a digital scan of the two-piece manifold and after 10 hours had a digital blueprint for a stronger, lighter, one-piece manifold. In its first race with the new manifold, printed using what is known as PA 12 nylon, the part held up and Heli took third. That same manifold lasted until the car was retired earlier this year.

(21) THE DRAGON RETURNING – MAYBE. NPR reports “Astronauts Set To Return To Earth In First U.S. Splashdown In Decades”.

The two astronauts that blasted off in the first private space vehicle to take people to the International Space Station are about to return to Earth — by splashing down in the waters around Florida.

This will be the first planned splashdown for space travelers since 1975, although a Russian Soyuz capsule did have to do an emergency lake landing in 1976.

NASA astronaut Douglas Hurley says that he and his crewmate Robert Behnken are prepared for the possibility of seasickness.

“Just like on an airliner, there are bags if you need them. And we’ll have those handy,” Hurley said in a press conference held on Friday, while on board the station. “And if that needs to happen, it certainly wouldn’t be the first time that that’s happened in a space vehicle. It will be the first time in this particular vehicle, if we do.”

The astronauts will come home in the same SpaceX Dragon capsule that took them up on May 30. Their flight marked the first time people had been launched to orbit from U. S. soil since NASA retired its space shuttles in 2011.

The success of their trip in the SpaceX vehicle has been a major milestone for commercial space travel, and a vindication of NASA’s long-term plan to rely on space taxis for routine flights to and from the orbiting outpost—while the government agency focuses on developing vehicles for a return to the moon.

The current plan is for the Dragon “Endeavour” capsule to undock from the International Space Station on Saturday at 7:34 p.m. ET, with scheduled splashdown at 2:42 p.m. ET on Sunday. There are potential splashdown zones both in the Atlantic and the Gulf of Mexico. With a hurricane headed towards Florida, however, it’s unclear if the weather will cooperate with the plan.

(22) VIDEO OF THE DAY. “Virtual Viewing:  Disney’s Cruise Line’s Tangled, The Musical” on YouTube is an hour-long musical, with three songs composed by Alan Menken, that was performed on Disney’s Cruise Line and is worth seeing for people who need a Disney musical fix.  (Hat tip to Mark Evanier.)

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

Pixel Scroll 9/19/19 The SJW Credential That Sleeps On You From Nowhere

(1) MATCHLESS PROSE, WE HOPE. Will Frank (scifantasy), Vice-Administrator of the 2016 Hugo Awards and Administrator of the 2021 Hugo Awards, who also identifies himself as a fanfiction writer on AO3 and a trademark attorney, is trying to pour some oil onto the stormy waters that separate parts of the Worldcon community from parts of the AO3 community: “HugO3”. (Please don’t strike a match.)

…If the Worldcon-running community doesn’t police use of the phrase, someone else–someone with less humorous, less celebratory, less free-spirited intent–might be able to plausibly argue that he can call his self-published book a Hugo Award Winner just because it was fanfic, or he has an AO3 account, because the term has lost all of its significance by not being protected.

Is that likely? Who the hell knows. Is it something the Worldcon-running community wants to risk, especially so soon after a concerted effort to undermine the award, not by fanfiction authors in celebration of their validation but by a group of politically-motivated writers with an axe to grind? Definitely not.

(I’ve also seen some people saying that there isn’t any prestige in a Hugo Award given some of the historical winners, and…well, get in line behind the Oscars and the Grammys and the others, I guess. The fact is that “Hugo Award” on the cover of a book does indeed help sales. It matters. There is still cachet in being a Hugo Award winner. Or even a finalist!)

So, no, the Worldcon-running community is not saying “Hey, don’t have fun.” It is saying, “please, don’t undermine our ability to stop people with malicious intent from poisoning the term Hugo Award.”

I’m not even telling you that you have to think I’m right. But at least, please know that this isn’t just a matter of “don’t have fun.” It’s a plea for your help.

(2) HEINLEIN’S OTHER VERSION. The Number of the Beast versus Pursuit of the Pankera – not the same book at all. Arc Manor would be delighted for you to put the claim to a test — http://www.arcmanor.com/as/Comparison.pdf

It is a different book. Of the 187,000 words in the new book, it shares the first 28,000. But then is totally different. The separation occurs in chapter XVIII and here is a side by side comparison of the chapters in the two books with the point of divergence clearly marked.

(3) HISTORIC CON MASQUERADE (AND OTHER) PHOTOS. At Vintage Everyday, “Wendy Pini Cosplay: 22 Rare and Amazing Photographs of Wendy Dressed as Red Sonja in the 1970s”.

Wendy Pini does it all. In the 1970s Wendy used to hit the cons dressed as Sonja. She was born in San Francisco in 1951, and from an early age demonstrated the talents later to come to fruition as a professional illustrator, and eventually as the creator of Elfquest.

(4) CHANGES AT TOR. Shelf Awareness is reporting a couple of promotions at Tom Doherty Associates:

  • Theresa DeLucci has been promoted to senior associate director of marketing of Tor Books, Forge, and Nightfire.
  • Renata Sweeney has been promoted to senior marketing manager, Tor.

(5) ELLEN VARTANOFF INTERVIEW. From Small Press Expo 2017 (but just posted on YouTube today.)

Rusty and Joe talk to Ellen Vartanoff about her decades in the comics field and the early days of comic conventions!

(6) TODAY IN HISTORY.

  • September 19, 1952 — “Superman On Earth” aired as the pilot episode for The  Adventures of Superman television series starring George Reeves.
  • September 19, 1961 — On a return trip from Canada, while in the White Mountains of New Hampshire, Betty and Barney Hill claimed to have been abducted by aliens.
  • September 19, 1986 — The Starman series debuted with Jeff Bridges replaced in the role of The Starman with Robert Hays. The series lasted for twenty-two episodes.

(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born September 19, 1867 Arthur Rackham. English book illustrator who is recognized as one of the leading literary figures during the Golden Age of British book illustration. His work can be seen on genre fiction ranging from Goblin Market to Rip Van Winkle and The Wind in the Willows. Derek Huson’s Arthur Rackham: His Life and Work is one of the better looks at him and his art. (Died 1939.)
  • Born September 19, 1911 William Golding. Though obviously best known for the Lord of The Flies novel, I’m more intrigued by the almost completed novel found in draft after his death, The Double Tongue which tells the story of the Pythia, the priestess of Apollo at Delphi. (Died 1993.)
  • Born September 19, 1922 Damon Knight. Author, critic, editor. He is the author of “To Serve Man”, a 1950 short story which became a The Twilight Zone episode. It won a 50-year Retro-Hugo in 2001 as the best short story of 1950. Wiki says “He ceased reviewing when Fantasy & Science Fiction refused to publish a review.” What’s the story here? (Died 2002.)
  • Born September 19, 1928 Adam West. Best known as Batman on that classic Sixty series, he also had a short role in 1964’s Robinson Crusoe on Mars as Colonel Dan McReady. The less said about his post Batman films, including a softcore porn film, the better. (Died 2017.)
  • Born September 19, 1928 Robin Scott Wilson. Founder, with Damon Knight and others, of the Clarion Science Fiction Writers’ Workshop. He edited Clarion: An Anthology of Speculative Fiction and Criticism from the Clarion Writers’ Workshop, Clarion II and Clarion III. He wrote one genre novel, To the Sound of Freedom (with Richard W. Shryock) and a lot of short fiction. Alas, neither iBooks nor Kindle has anything by him available. (Died 2013.)
  • Born September 19, 1933 – David McCallum, 86. Gained fame as Illya Kuryakin in The Man from U.N.C.L.E. and has rounded off his career playing medical examiner Dr. Donald “Ducky” Mallard in another TV series that is known by its initials, NCIS.
  • Born September 19, 1940 Caroline John. English actress best known for her role as scientist Elizabeth “Liz” Shaw in Doctor Who as companion to the Third Doctor. She’d repeat her role in Dimensions in Time, a charity special crossover between Doctor Who and the EastEnders that ran in 1993. Her only other genre role was playing Laura Lyons in The Hound of the Baskervilles. (Died 2012.)
  • Born September 19, 1947 Tanith Lee. I hadn’t realized that she wrote more than ninety novels and three hundred short stories in her career. And even wrote two Blake’s 7 episodes as well. I was more fond of her work for children such as The Dragon Hoard and The Unicorn Series than I was of her adult work. (Died 2015.)
  • Born September 19, 1952 Laurie R. King, 67. She’s on the Birthday Honors List for the Mary Russell series of historical mysteries, featuring Sherlock Holmes as her mentor and later partner. She’s also written at least one genre novel, Califia’s Daughters
  • Born September 19, 1972 N. K. Jemisin, 47. Her most excellent Broken Earth series has made her the only author to have won the Hugo Award for Best Novel in three consecutive years.

(8) COMICS SECTION.

(9) UNIDENTIFIED WALKING OBJECTS. Aliens have landed at the convention hotel (a couple years early) reports the Tonopah Nevada in 2021 for Westercon 74 page – see the photographic evidence there!

Starting to see some out of this world stuff in honor of Alien Weekend… these aliens came all the way from Michigan to check out the happenings…

(10) OH NO, NOT AGAIN. “False Tsunami Warning In Hawaii Triggered By Police Exercise”.

Emergency sirens wailed on Hawaii’s Oahu and Maui islands Wednesday evening, warning of a tsunami, but the alert turned out to be a mistake, sparking anger from residents who recalled a similar false warning last year of an imminent ballistic missile attack.

Within minutes of the alarm going off shortly after 5 p.m. local time (11 p.m. ET) authorities were trying to calm the public by getting out word of the mistake.

The National Weather Service in Honolulu tweeted: “***NO TSUNAMI THREAT*** We have received phone calls about sirens going off across Oahu, but we have confirmed with the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center that there is NO TSUNAMI THREAT.”

Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell also took to Twitter. “Mahalo to everyone for taking appropriate action & tuning into local media,” he tweeted, adding that the sirens had been “inadvertently triggered” during Honolulu Police Department training.

(11) I’M MELTING! FastCompany tells everyone “Burger King is melting down plastic toys to recycle them into something actually useful”.

… Burger King has decided to remove all plastic toys from its kids’ meals. Not only that but the initiative, created by agency Jones Knowles Ritchie and starting this week in the U.K., is also calling for people to drop plastic toys from meals past in “plastic toy amnesty bins” at Burger King locations to be melted down and recycled into things that are actually useful, like play areas and surface tools, which can be recycled many times over.

People in the U.K. who bring in toys to melt down next week will get a free King Junior meal when they buy any adult meal. To promote the project, Burger King has created a cast of melted-down plastic toy characters, including Beep Beep, a jeep-driving bunny, which the brand has installed a giant melting version of on London’s South Bank to promote the project.

(12) IF YOU WERE A PTEROSAUR AS TALL AS A GIRAFFE, MY LOVE. [Item by Daniel Dern.] Inside Science reports: “Newest Pterosaur Was Likely as Tall as a Giraffe”.

Ancient flying reptile dubbed Cryodrakon boreas, the “cold dragon of the north winds,” may shed light on the evolution of these dinosaur relatives.

CBC News agrees: “Giraffe-sized flying reptiles once soared over Alberta”

Newly identified pterosaur species had a wingspan of 10 metres

Mark Whitton’s 2013 article has additional details and a great illustration: “9 things you may not know about giant azhdarchid pterosaurs”

Despite their giraffian proportions, giant azhdarchid torso were relatively tiny. Witton and Habib (2010) noted that, like many pterodactyloid pterosaurs, their torsos were probably only a third or so longer than their humeri, suggesting a shoulder-hip length of about 65-75 cm for an animal with a 10 m wingspan. That’s a torso length not much larger than your own, although they were considerably more stocky and swamped with muscle. Azhdarchid shoulders, in particular, are well endowed with attachment sites for flight muscles, as are (for pterosaurs) their pelves and hindquarters.

(13) JURASSIC SHORT. Battle at Big Rock on YouTube is an eight-minute video, set in the Jurassic World universe one year after the events of Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom that premiered on FX last night and was put online today.

(14) BRADBURY INTERVIEW. Here’s a 9-minute video of Ray Bradbury’s 1978 appearance on the Merv Griffin Show.

The always brilliant Ray Bradbury, one of the greatest sci-fi writers in history, talks with Merv about the movie “Close Encounters of the Third Kind”, Steven Spielberg, his mission as a writer, the future of mankind, and ends by reading from his poem “If Only We Had Taller Been” from his collection “When Elephants Last in the Dooryard Bloomed.”

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

Ellen Vartanoff (1951-2019)

By Martin Morse Wooster: Ellen Vartanoff, long-time fan, art teacher, and contributor to DC and Marvel Comics, died on March 17.  She had ovarian cancer for several years.

Ellen was a long-time member of four area clubs in the Washington, DC area:  the Potomac River Science Fiction Society, the Silver Spring Science Fiction Society, Knossos, the Washington branch of the Mythopoeic Society, and the Panthans, the Washington branch of the Burroughs Bibliophiles.

Her first fannish activity came in high school, when in the late 1960s she founded a science fiction club at Walt Whitman High School in Bethesda, Maryland.  The Future Mad Scientists of America no longer exist, but I believe they lasted until the 1980s.  At her memorial service, one Mad Scientist reminded us that actors may make millions today playing nerds on The Big Bang Theory, but in the 1960s it was a proud and lonely thing to be a fan, and the club was a “safe space” for teenagers who were smart, introverted, and interested in science fiction and comics.

Ellen was interested in many things, but at her core she was a comics fan.  Her sister, Irene Vartanoff, and her brother-in-law, Scott Edelman, went from being letterhacks in the comics to professional careers as writers and editors.  Ellen did have some work as a colorist for Marvel Comics and DC Comics.  Her Marvel work includes being a colorist on issues of Captain Marvel written by Scott Edelman.  I don’t know her extent of her DC work, because Marvel Comics are thoroughly indexed and DC Comics aren’t.

Ellen was a walking Wikipedia of information about DC and Marvel characters.  Every time I saw her at a club meeting, she’d have a sketchbook, and would sketch and listen in the way many other fans knit and listen. She’d organize expeditions to every new Marvel and DC film.

Her fellow Burroughs Bibliophiles recalled that she’d regularly contribute art based on Burroughs characters to the Panthan club newsletter.  She also contributed art to two Edgar Rice Burroughs books:  Edgar Rice Burroughs in the Second Century, published by the Panthans in 2010, and The Mucker/Return of the Mucker, published by the Chicago chapter of the Burroughs Bibliophiles.

Her love of comics wasn’t limited to English.  She had a good reading knowledge of French, and when the awful Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets came out two years ago, she brought out copies of her albums of the original Valerian strips and explained how they were so much better than the movie.

A friend recalled at the memorial service taking Ellen to a chemo session in 2011.  The friend had an album of The Airtight Garage, drawn by the great French artist Moebius. Ellen began reading it and showing the friend the characteristic traits of Moebius’s style.

A nurse came in and asked if Ellen was all right.  The friend said, “If she’s translating French, she’s all right.”

Ellen made her living as an art teacher, specializing in teaching traditional art and comics to children. Among the places she taught were he Smithsonian, the Montgomery County Jewish Community Center, and a summer school run by the Holton Arms School.

Her comics classes were quite popular, and people in their twenties who took their classes told me that Ellen was a very good teacher.

Visit an art gallery in Washington, and you’d often see Ellen and her students.  One friend recalled spending time at the Smithsonian’s Freer Gallery, and running into Ellen introducing her students to Japanese art.

Here’s an exercise Ellen gave:  She’d bring out an image where the left half was Lois Lane and the right half was Minnie Mouse.  She’d ask students what was similar about the images—and what was different.

She was very influential in the lives of many teenagers.  One man in his late fifties recalled that forty years ago he volunteered at Adventure Theatre, a children’s theatre at Glen Echo Park in Maryland where Ellen was involved in creating sets.  Ellen showed the man how easy it was to make a wooden sword, and how much fun it was to bop other kids with it.

The man recalled that at the time he was an English major, and didn’t realize he had any ability to make things.  He then ended up creating a construction company, which he said he wouldn’t have done if Ellen hadn’t showed him he had skills he didn’t know he had.  He said he was on the verge of retirement, and was looking forward to resuming studying the arts Ellen had introduced him to 40 years before.

If I had to sum up Ellen in one word, it was that she was enthusiastic about life.  She always wanted to know more, and when she’d show up at a club meeting, usually with Lindt chocolates and Kedem sparkling peach and raspberry juices, she was eager to learn about the latest books, movies, and plays that other club members had seen and read.

“Ellen always had time for you,” one friend recalled. “She didn’t realize the rest of us were in a hurry.”

She was also a very happy person.  I knew her for nearly 40 years, and I never heard her snarl or be angry.  Her laugh was unforgettable.

Her interests were very wide.  One friend recalls having a half-hour discussion with her about the differences between Turkic and Finnish. But I’ll limit her passions here to two.

She was really interested in archeology, and regularly went to public lectures where archeologists would give the results of discoveries they made in the field.  But her greatest passion was ancient Egypt, and one of the peaks of her life was going to Egypt in the late 1990s with a papermaking group.  At the service, guests were given a card with Ellen’s photo on one side—and a cartouche of Ellen’s name on the other.

Finally, she loved classical music.  She’d regularly go to broadcasts of the Metropolitan Opera at a local movie theatre.

I once went with her to a double bill of Cavalleria Rusticana and I Pagliacci at the University of Maryland.  I Pagliacci has a children’s chorus, and the sister of one of Ellen’s students was in it.  The girl and Ellen had a good conversation, and I think Ellen reminded her why classical music was worthwhile.

Her sister, Irene Vartanoff; her brother, David Vartanoff, her brother-in-law, Scott Edelman, and her nephew, Trevor Vartanoff, survive Ellen.  Her mother, Margaret Vartanoff, died in 2010, and I wrote a tribute to her at File 770 here.  


Irene Vartanoff (left), Scott Edelman (center), Ellen Vartanoff (right), New Year’s Day, 2012.  Photo by Risa Stewart.

Pixel Scroll 3/19/19 The Society For Putting Broken Pixel Scrolls In Ponds

(1) A FAMILY AT WAR. Kameron Hurley backgrounds her new novel The Light Brigade in “The Big Idea” at Whatever.

…I have stories like these and so many others to share. I’ve used first-person accounts from soldiers – my friends, my family, and those I’ve collected through my research –to create the intimate, beautiful and horrifying world of The Light Brigade. In truth this book is less about predicting the future because so many aspects of this future are already here. Instead, it challenges us to rethink our present, and everything that comes after it.

(2) FROM CGI TO OMG. Camestros Felapton has finished watching the rest of the episodes and provides “Love, Death + Robots: A viewing guide” for prospective viewers.

I can’t recommend this series as a whole, there are just too many episodes that manage to be dull, ugly and offensive in one go. However, there are some gems and there are some episodes that are diverting if not great. Also, everybody’s taste in this stuff is very variable, so while I expect nobody is going to universally love every episode, the particular bad v good will be different per person.

The following is a list of my impressions and some aspects that you might want to know in advance if you want to just watch some episodes rather than the whole bunch….

(3) MARCH OF TIME. Through the catacombs and sewers — “A Three-Day Expedition To Walk Across Paris Entirely Underground”. Fascinating article.

The first person to photograph the underground of Paris was a gallant and theatrical man with a blaze of red hair, known as Nadar. Once described by Charles Baudelaire as “the most amazing example of vitality,” Nadar was among the most visible and electric personalities in mid-nineteenth-century Paris. He was a showman, a dandy, a ringleader of the bohemian art world, but he was known especially as the city’s preeminent photographer. Working out of a palatial studio in the center of the city, Nadar was a pioneer of the medium, as well as a great innovator. In 1861, Nadar invented a battery-operated light, one of the first artificial lights in the history of photography. To show off the power of his “magic lantern,” as he called it, he set out to take photographs in the darkest and most obscure spaces he could find: the sewers and catacombs beneath the city….

A century and a half after Nadar, I arrived in Paris, along with Steve Duncan and a small crew of urban explorers, with an aim to investigate the city’s relationship to its underground in a way no one had before. We planned a traverse — a walk from one edge of the city to the other, traveling exclusively by subterranean infrastructure. It was a trip Steve had dreamed up back in New York: we’d spent months planning, studying old maps of the city, consulting Parisian explorers, and tracing potential routes. The expedition, in theory, was tidy. We would descend into the catacombs just outside the southern frontier of the city, near Porte d’Orléans; if all went according to plan, we’d emerge from the sewers near Place de Clichy, beyond the northern border. As the crow flies, the route was about six miles, a stroll you could make between breakfast and lunch. But the subterranean route — as the worm inches, let’s say — would be winding and messy and roundabout, with lots of zigzagging and backtracking. We had prepared for a two- or three-day trek, with nights camping underground….

(4) MUSIC TO THEIR EARS. The Hollywood Reporter hears the cash register ringing: “Box Office: Charting ‘Captain Marvel’s’ Meteoric Rise Among Superhero Pics”.

The Marvel Studios and Disney tentpole finished Sunday — its 12th day in release — with $760.2 million in global ticket sales, besting the entire lifetime runs of numerous comic book adaptations, including Man of Steel, as well as passing up Wonder Woman overseas.

And its already become one of the most successful female-fronted properties in history at the worldwide box office, eclipsing all of the Twilight films and three of the four installments in The Hunger Games series.

(5) KEEP THOSE CONSPIRACY THEORIES COMING. The Wrap is only asking a question, y’know? “Is Danai Gurira on the ‘Avengers: Endgame’ Poster Because Okoye Is the New Black Panther?”

Her inclusion on the poster is particularly interesting because she is the only character on it who hasn’t been seen at some point in one of the two trailers or the Super Bowl commercial. So why in the world would she be on the poster if she isn’t a key character in the film? The answer, we can’t help but think, is that she actually is a key character….

(6) DIGITIZING TOLKIEN FANZINES. Gary Hunnewell’s collection of Tolkein fanzines, now housed at Marquette University, is being scanned and transcribed. In January, William Fliss explained the legal policy guiding the digital publication of these fanzines: “The FellowsHub Journey Continues: An Adventure in Copyright”.

Navigating copyright for such a large and diverse print collection as the Tolkien fanzines is an adventure. The Hunnewell Collection at Marquette includes over 250 fanzine titles from 27 countries, ranging in time from the late 1950s to the turn of the century. The FellowsHub team consulted Marquette’s Office of the General Counsel (OGC) in developing a copyright strategy. Copyright law will prevent FellowsHub from publishing every fanzine in the collection. Deciding if FellowsHub can digitally publish a specific fanzine depends upon the publication’s age, country of origin, and the presence of a copyright notice somewhere on the document. To simplify matters, the team decided to begin by focusing only on fanzines published in the United States. Careful analysis with OGC of the complicated rules governing U.S. copyright led to the following plan of action:

· FellowsHub will proceed with publishing any fanzines from 1959–1989 that lack a copyright notice.

· Fanzines from 1959–1963 that bear a copyright notice will be researched to determine if the copyright was ever renewed. FellowsHub will publish any fanzines where copyright was never renewed. For those fanzines where copyright was renewed, the team will attempt to contact the copyright holders and seek permission to publish.

· For fanzines from 1964–1989 that bear a copyright notice, the team will attempt to contact the copyright holders and seek permission to publish.

· For any fanzines published after 1989, the team will attempt to contact the copyright holders and seek permission to publish.

Got all that? If not, the accompanying flow chart helps the FellowsHub team determine how it will handle a specific fanzine issue….

Zach B. tells about doing the handwork for the project in “Digitizing Fanzines on J.R.R. Tolkien”.

The last semester, I’ve worked side by side with the library staff to not only help to understand these fan-made products, but to preserve such so that they are not lost to the tides of time. Using Adobe Acrobat, their PDF reader and scanner, I have the ability to convert a whole page of one of these fanzines using the “Recognize Text” function and export it into a text file, allowing the page to be looked into further with clarity. Seeing as how these pages are 30–40 years old or older, many of them are either faded or handwritten, meaning Acrobat is unable to OCR everything, but since it automatically opens whatever it scans into a word document, I’m able to change any errors in translation and scanning.

(7) POINTY THINGS. Speaking of helpful flowcharts – Camestros Felapton is the first to explain Britain’s political crisis in terms I can follow: “Today’s Infographic: Brexit – next steps”.

With only days to go before the UK topples out of the EU onto the hard pavement outside the pub and wallows in its own vomit drunk on the heady liquor of confused nationalism, here is a helpful flowchart to show how the next events may progress….

(8) THE MOTION IS TABLED. The Guardian says it exists, however, it doesn’t sound like we’ll be reading it anytime soon: “Francis Spufford pens unauthorised Narnia novel”

“It’s not exactly my Narnia,” he said, “though there are bits of me in it. It’s my best guess as [to] what a conjectural CS Lewis might have written, if he had written another Narnia novel.”

The Stone Table follows Polly Plummer and Digory Kirke, who watch Aslan sing Narnia into being in The Magician’s Nephew, as they return to Narnia. Spufford said he was cautious in giving clues as to what happens in the adventure, but the novel “explains why there are four empty thrones in the castle of Cair Paravel, and where the Stone Table came from”.

Spufford said he was acutely conscious of his responsibilities towards Lewis’s creation.

“If you’re going to play with someone else’s toys, then you need to be very clear that they are someone else’s toys. You need to be clear that you’re not profiting by it, that it’s a homage that doesn’t tread on the toes of the real books.”

(9) MORE ON ELLEN VARTANOFF. Scott Edelman says the memorial is scheduled:

(10) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • March 19, 1999 Farscape premiered on Syfy

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born March 19, 1926 Joe L. Hensley. Long-time fan and writer who was a First Fandom “Dinosaur” (which meant he had been active in fandom prior to July 4, 1939), and received the First Fandom Hall of Fame Award in 2006. Very impressive! His first genre fiction sale was the short story “And Not Quite Human,” published in the September 1953 issue of Beyond Fantasy Fiction. His co-authors included Alexei Panshin and Harlan Ellison. Though he wrote nearly fifty pieces of short fiction, and much of that is not genre, he wrote just one genre novel, The Black Roads. (Died 2007.)
  • Born March 19, 1928 Patrick  McGoohan. Creator along with George Markstein of The Prisoner series in which he played the main role of Number Six. I’ve watched it at least several times down the years. It never gets any clearer but it’s always interesting and always weird.  Other genre credits do not include Danger Man but comprise a short list of The Phantom where he played The Phantom’s father, Treasure Planet where he voiced Billy Bones and Journey into Darkness where he was The Host of. (Died 2009.)
  • Born March 19, 1936 Ursula Andress, 83. I’msure I’ve seen all of the original Bond films though I’ll be damned I remember where or when I saw them. Which is my way of leading up to saying thot I don’t remember her in her roles as either as Honey Ryder in the very first Bond film, Dr. No, or as as Vesper Lynd in Casino Royale. Bond girls aren’t that memorable to me it seems. Hmmm… let’s see if she’s done any other genre work… well her first was The Tenth Victim based on Sheckley’s 1953 short story “Seventh Victim”. She also appeared in L’Infermiera, oops wrong genre, The Mountain of the Cannibal GodThe Fifth MusketeerClash of the Titans where she played of course Aphrodite, on the Manimal series, The Love Boat series and the two Fantaghirò films. 
  • Born March 19, 1945 Jim Turner. Turner was editor for Arkham House after the death of August Derleth, founder of that press. After leaving Arkham House for reasons that are not clear, he founded Golden Gryphon Press. (Died 1999.)
  • Born March 19, 1947 Glenn Close, 72. I had not a clue that she’d done genre-friendly acting. Indeed she has, with two of the most recent being Nova Prime in Guardians of The Galaxy, Topsy in Mary Poppins Returns and voicing Felicity Fox in the animated film adaptation of Roald Dahl’s Fantastic Mr. Fox. Before those roles, she was Aunt Josephine in Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events, Blue Mecha in A.I. Artificial Intelligence and Madeline Ashton in Death Becomes Her
  • Born March 19, 1955 Bruce Willis, 64. So do any of the Die Hard franchise count as genre? Even setting them aside, he has a very long  genre list, to wit Death Becomes Her (bit of macabre fun), 12 Monkeys (weird shit), The Fifth Element (damn great), Armageddon, (eight tentacles down), The Sixth Sense (not at all bad), Sin City morning (typical Miller overkill) and Sin City: A Dame to Kill For (yet more Miller overkill). 
  • Born March 19, 1963 Neil LaBute, 56. He’s the writer/director of the Wicker Man remake and the creator of just renewed for a fourth season on Syfy Van Helsing series. He’s one of the Executive Producers of The I-Land series starting soon on Netflix.
  • Born March 19, 1964 Marjorie Monaghan, 55. JoJo on all six episodes of Space Rangers. My brain keeps insisting it lasted longer. She also was on Babylon 5 as the Mars Resistance leader during the Earth Alliance Civil War, where she was known as Number One. She’s also appeared on Quantum Leap, in the cyberpunk Nemesis film, in The Warlord: Battle for the Galaxy film, on Andromeda series and on The Great War of Magellan film. 
  • Born March 19, 1976 Nicholas Stoller, 43. He is known for co-writing (with Jason Segel) The Muppets and Muppets Most Wanted (with James Bobin). 

(12) RIVETING ADVENTURE. “HBO challenges Game of Thrones fans to find 6 iron thrones hidden across the globe”, SYFY Wire reports on the contest but doesn’t seem to know what you get when you find one.

For the Throne! As the epic series Game of Thrones nears its conclusion, HBO is offering fans the chance to play. And the good news is, you don’t die if you don’t win. 

As part of its #ForTheThrone campaign, HBO has launched a treasure hunt whereby fans seek out six iron thrones that have been hidden across the globe, and its up to astute and observant fans to figure out where they were based on carefully-hidden clues. HBO posted a picture of an Iron Throne replica on its Instagram page along with a message suggesting fans “Seek the Weirwood in this Kingdom on Earth.” 

(13) INNER SPACE. A Phys.org article reveals “Dormant viruses activate during spaceflight”.

Herpes viruses reactivate in more than half of crew aboard Space Shuttle and International Space Station missions, according to NASA research published in Frontiers in Microbiology. While only a small proportion develop symptoms, virus reactivation rates increase with spaceflight duration and could present a significant health risk on missions to Mars and beyond.

NASA’s rapid viral detection systems and ongoing treatment research are beginning to safeguard astronauts—and immunocompromised patients on Earth, too.

“NASA astronauts endure weeks or even months exposed to microgravity and cosmic radiation—not to mention the extreme G forces of take-off and re-entry,” says senior author Dr. Satish K. Mehta of KBR Wyle at the Johnson Space Center. “This physical challenge is compounded by more familiar stressors like social separation, confinement and an altered sleep-wake cycle.”

(14) DONTINVITEMS. Australia told Milo Yiannopolous to stay home after provocative comments on Facebook: “Milo Yiannopoulos banned from entering Australia for tour after massacre comments”.

Conservative commentator Milo Yiannopoulos will no longer be allowed to travel to Australia for a tour later this year following comments he made on the mass shooting in New Zealand. Australia’s minister for immigration, citizenship and multicultural affairs has banned him from entering the country for the tour. 

“Yiannopoulos’ comments on social media regarding the Christchurch terror attack are appalling and foment hatred and division,” David Coleman said in a statement Saturday. 

“The terrorist attack in Christchurch was carried out on Muslims peacefully practicing their religion,” Coleman said. “It was an act of pure evil. Australia stands with New Zealand and with Muslim communities the world over in condemning this inhuman act.”

Coleman didn’t specifically state which of Yiannopoulos’ comments he was referring to. But the former Breitbart journalist posted on Facebook Friday that attacks like the one in Christchurch happen “because the establishment panders to and mollycoddles extremist leftism and barbaric alien religious cultures.” 

Yiannopoulos defended his comments. “I explicitly denounced violence,” he later said in another post. “And I criticized the establishment for pandering to Islamic fundamentalism. So Australia banned me again.” 

(15) SERIES GETS HIGH MARX. Martin Morse Wooster, our Designated Financial Times Reader, reports from behind the paywall –

In the March 15 Financial Times, Tom Hancock discusses “The Leader,” an animated series about Karl Marx currently airing in China.

“For the past month, a cartoon spectre has been haunting me.  With brown flowing hair, impossibly large eyes and a heroic V-shaped chin, the hero of “The Leader” would fit into any animated series.  But rather than romance or adventure, this hero pursues another goal: the liberation of the proletariat. The hero’s name:  Karl Marx.

The series (episodes, which have been viewed 5M times online) is part of a state-backed initiative to promote Marx to young people in China…

…”The Leader,” however, does put the class struggle front and centre, portraying the young Marx clashing with government censors over newspaper articles about labour rights, praising a workers’ uprising in Silesia, and calling for the abolition of private property. The ironies have not been lost on viewers, who can write comments to scroll over the cartoon as it plays. When Marx’s university threatens him over his activism in one episode, a user comment scrolls by — ‘Peking University Marxism Society’–referring to the group at the centre of the recent real-life crackdown.”

(16) GOODER VIBRATIONS. “Massive U.S. Machines That Hunt For Ripples In Space-Time Just Got An Upgrade”NPR has the story.

Scientists are about to restart the two giant facilities in the United States that register gravitational waves, the ripples in the very fabric of the universe that were predicted by Albert Einstein more than a century ago.

Einstein realized that when massive objects such as black holes collide, the impact sends shock waves through space-time that are like the ripples in water created by tossing a pebble in a pond.

In 2015, researchers made history by detecting gravitational waves from colliding black holes for the first time — and this was such a milestone that three U.S. physicists almost immediately won the Nobel Prize for their work on the project.

Since then, physicists have detected gravitational waves from other exotic smashups. The grand total is 10 pairs of black holes colliding and a pair of neutron stars crashing together.

Now they’re getting ready to discover more of these cosmic events. On April 1, the twin facilities in Louisiana and Washington state that make up the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory will start doing science again after being shut down for more than a year so that workers could install hardware upgrades.

(17) KEYBOARD WARRIOR. This one really is — “Hated and hunted: The perilous life of the computer virus cracker making powerful enemies online”.

Fabian is world renowned for destroying ransomware – the viruses sent out by criminal gangs to extort money.

Because of this, he lives a reclusive existence, always having to be one step ahead of the cyber criminals.

He has moved to an unknown location since this interview was carried out.

…All of the victims mentioned above were hit with some form of ransomware. But the Hong Kong businessman didn’t lose his job and the photographer and head teacher were able to recover their work.

None had to pay any money, and once they’d got their lives back in order, all sent emails of thanks to the same person.

He’s a man who has devoted himself, at huge personal cost, to helping victims of ransomware around the world. A man who guards his privacy dearly to protect himself, because for every message of gratitude he receives, almost as many messages of abuse come at him from the cyber criminals who hate him.

In fact, they hate him so much that they leave him angry threats buried deep inside the code of their own viruses.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Andrew Porter, Scott Edelman, Mlex, Chip Hitchcock, StephenfromOttawa, Cat Eldridge, Martin Morse Wooster, Mike Kennedy, JJ, Brian Z., and Carl Slaughter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day, that fan of papier mache ULTRAGOTHA.]

Pixel Scroll 3/18/19 I Needed Pixels Coz I Had None, I Filed The Scroll And The Scroll Won

(1) MCINTYRE. CaringBridge readers received a saddening update about Vonda McIntyre’s status:

Vonda has been told she has somewhere between two weeks and two months. She’s doing well enough right now that she will probably last longer than the short end of this estimate but we aren’t seeing much cause for hope she might exceed the long end. 

She has signed up with hospice. The people who have come out this past week all seem smart and kind, and Vonda is pleased with them.

Vonda is, on the whole, fairly comfortable. She gets some pain before her scheduled paracentesis sessions, but she says it isn’t bad and goes away as soon as she gets the procedure. She’s weak, moves slowly, and sleeps a lot. However, she’s alert and engaged when she is awake, and has been enjoying visits from various people. She doesn’t eat much, but is still enjoying food and has no nausea issues.

Emotionally, I find her to be in astonishingly good shape. She’s still grieving the loss of Ursula and her sister, Carolyn, but she says she’s not especially upset about her own situation. She is focused on getting some things down, many of which are fun for her. This stuff could hit harder later but for now she seems calm and accepting.

Frank Catalano sent the link with a note: “Vonda was generous to me when I moved to the Seattle area in the 1980s and I took on the task of administering SFWA’s Nebula Awards. She and I and a small crew of volunteers stuffed and stamped numerous Nebula Awards Reports in my Queen Anne apartment. I consider her a friend and she has also encouraged my writing.”

(2) MONSTER MASH. A new trailer for Godzilla: King of the Monsters has dropped. The move arrives in theaters May 31

Following the global success of “Godzilla” and “Kong: Skull Island” comes the next chapter in Warner Bros. Pictures’ and Legendary Pictures’ cinematic MonsterVerse, an epic action adventure that pits Godzilla against some of the most popular monsters in pop culture history. The new story follows the heroic efforts of the crypto-zoological agency Monarch as its members face off against a battery of god-sized monsters, including the mighty Godzilla, who collides with Mothra, Rodan, and his ultimate nemesis, the three-headed King Ghidorah. When these ancient super-species—thought to be mere myths—rise again, they all vie for supremacy, leaving humanity’s very existence hanging in the balance.

(3) ALSO NSFWWW. Camestros Felapton pauses for breath at almost the halfway point in the series to write a quick review: “Love, Death + Robots: Initial Impressions”.

I’ve watched eight episodes (out of eighteen) of Netflix’s “Adult” anthology series based on contemporary SF short stories. It’s ‘Adult’ in the sense of stereotypes of adolescent male interests which means many episodes with gore and most episodes with CGI boobs. There are some good pieces but they are ones that differ sharply from the general aesthetic.

(4) TECH SUPPORT. Brianna Wu has an opinion piece in today’s Boston Globe: “Senator Warren is onto something: The best way to protect the tech industry is to break it up”.

I’ve spent a career working in tech as a software engineer. And I believe regulated markets are the best way to build and deliver innovative products. That might sound counterintuitive. But increasingly, the largest players in the game aren’t playing by the same rules. Instead, they’re using their power to bully or buy out the competition.

That’s why I was thrilled last week when Senator Elizabeth Warren put forward a bold plan to break up the largest tech companies, including Facebook, Google and Amazon. Many parts of the plan are strong and have widespread support by industry experts, such as breaking up Facebook and Instagram. Other parts inadvertently jeopardize privacy and increase consumer risk of malware and spyware. Overall, it’s a strong start to an antitrust conversation that is long overdue.

(5) WOLFE’S SERVICE RECOGNIZED. Last week at the International Association for the Fantastic in the Arts conference, Gary K. Wolfe received the Robert A. Collins Service Award, “presented to an officer, board member, or division head for outstanding service to the organization.” [Via Locus Online.]

(6) IMPATIENTS. In “Cory Doctorow’s Radicalized and Audience Awareness”, Joseph Hurtgen urges us all to “Put Cory Doctorow’s Radicalized on your reading list. It’s a short and powerful meditation on the power of the internet to radicalize suffering individuals, the broken healthcare system in the US, the exploitation of the poor in America, and the broken judicial system in the US.”

…Doctorow considers a slightly different kind of mass murdering, one with a political agenda. The terrorists in Doctorow’s world kill to force the US to fix the broken healthcare system. In the 21st century, our situation is that experimental treatment for cancer is available to those that can write a seven-figure check. But for the rest of us, no matter how much we’ve paid into the system, death is still the only cure. 

(7) HOLDING FORTH. YouTube has video of Isaac Asimov on The David Letterman Show, October 21, 1980

(8) ELLEN VARTANOFF OBIT. Ellen Vartanoff (1951-2019) died March 17 reports her brother-in-law, Scott Edelman.

Stu McIntire wrote a tribute for ComicsDC:

Ellen Vartanoff was a fan, a collector, creator, artist, teacher, mentor and so much more to countless friends and admirers. Condolences to Irene, Scott, and all of Ellen’s family. I will always carry with me the last time I saw Ellen.

The Washington Post covered a 1997 exhibition she put together from her own cartoon collection:

“I’ve been in love with cartoons since I was 7 years old,” says Vartanoff, 46, who financed her early comic book purchases by collecting returnable soft drink bottles, which brought her 2 cents each. “That amount was more meaningful back when comics cost a dime. My sister and I have been collecting comics since 1957 and began collecting original cartoon art in the 1960s, way before it became a popular thing to do.”

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born March 18, 1926 Peter Graves. Star of Mission Impossible and the short lived Australian filmed Mission Impossible which if you’ve not seen it, you should as it’s damn good. I’m reasonably certain his first genre role was on Red Planet Mars playing Chris Cronyn. Later roles included Gavin Lewis on The Invaders, Major Noah Cooper on Buck Rogers in the 25th Century, Doug Paul Martin in Killers from Space and Paul Nelson on It Conquered the World. It’s worth noting that a number of his films are featured on Mystery Science Theater 3000 series. (Died 2010)
  • Born March 18, 1932 John Updike. It might surprise you to learn that there are two Eastwick novels, The Witches of Eastwick and The Widows of Eastwick, the latter set some three decades after the first novel ended. He wrote a number of other genre-friendly novels including The CentaurBrazil and Toward the End of Time. (Died 2009.)
  • Born March 18, 1947 Drew Struzan, 72. Artist known for his more than a hundred and fifty movie posters which include films in Back to the Future, the Indiana Jones, and Star Wars film franchises. In addition, he designed the original Industrial Light & Magic logo for Lucas. My favorite posters? Back to the Future, The Goonies and The Dark Crystal.
  • Born March 18, 1950 J. G. Hertzler, 69. He’s best known for his role on Deep Space Nine as the Klingon General (and later Chancellor) Martok. He co-authored with Jeff Lang, Left Hand of Destiny, Book 1, and Left Hand of Destiny, Book 2, which chronicle the life of his character. His very TV first role was a genre one, to wit on Quantum Leap as Weathers Farrington in the  “Sea Bride – June 3, 1954” episode. Setting aside DS9, he’s been in Zorro, HighlanderThe Adventures of Brisco County, Jr.Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of SupermanLois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman, Charmed, Roswell and Enterprise series;  for film genre work, I see The Redeemer: Son of SatanTreasure Island: The Adventure Begins and Prelude to Axanar (yet another piece of fanfic). In addition, he’s done a lot of video game voice acting, the obvious Trek work but such franchises as BioShock 2The Golden Compass and Injustice: Gods Among Us. 
  • Born March 18, 1959 Luc Besson, 60. Oh, The Fifth Element, one of my favorite genre films. There’s nothing about it that  I don’t like. I’ve not seen Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets and reviews leave me disinclined to do so. The Transporter is not genre but I recommend it as a great film none the less. 
  • Born March 18, 1960 Richard Biggs. He appeared as Dr. Stephen Franklin on Babylon 5, reprising the role in the final aired episode of Crusade, “Each Night I Dream of Home”. Other genre roles included playing Roger Garrett on Tremors, Hawkes In The Alien Within, An Unnamed Reporter on Beauty and the Beast,  Dr. Thomson on an episode of The Twilight Zone and a Process Server in an episode of The Magical World of Disney. (Died 2004.)
  • Born March 18, 1961 James Davis Nicoll, 58. A freelance game and genre reviewer. A first reader for SFBC as well. Currently he’s a blogger on Dreamwidth and Facebook, and an occasional columnist on Tor.com. In 2014, he started his website, jamesdavisnicoll.com, which is dedicated to his book reviews of works old and new; and which later added the highly entertaining Young People Read Old SFF, where that group read prior to Eighties SF and fantasy, and Nicoll and his collaborators comment on the their reactions.
  • Born March 18, 1989 Lily Collins, 30. First genre role was in cyberpunk horror film Priest as Lucy Pace. She next shows up in Mirror Mirror before being Clary Fray in The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones. I did read the first three or four novels in the series. Recommended them wholeheartedly, no idea how the film is. She’s Edith Tolkien in the Tolkien filmnow in post-production. 

(10) STAY TUNED FOR VERSE. John A Arkansawyer sent a note with this link to his sff poem: “Shameless self-promotion for something which will not win the Rhysling But I’m pleased to have written it in the last fifteen minutes.” — “The Synoptic Bump in “Warrior”, by Gordon R. Dickson”.

(11) IT’S STILL NEWS TO ME. From 2011, Tracer’s parody “How David Weber Orders a Pizza”. He nails the style.

The telephone rang.

Jason Wilkins roused himself out of his dough-and-flour-addled stupor, and gazed at the ringing noise emanating from the receiver….

And if you scroll down to item #24 you’ll find Chapter 2 of Weber’s epic “In Ovens Baked.”

Pizza Delivery Person Third Class Alonzo Gomez smoothly turned his control wheel counterclockwise, with the skill of a man who’d practiced this maneuver for years. In the sealed chamber in front of his feet, a gear at the end of the wheel’s shaft pushed the rack-and-pinion assembly to one side, changing the angle of the vehicle’s front wheels. Now, driven onward relentlessly by the vehicle’s momentum, the tires bit into the road surface obliquely, forcing the vehicle’s nose to port and carrying the entire vehicle with them on its new course. Alonzo and his vehicle thereby rounded the corner, taking them off of Elm street and onto 5th Avenue….

(This reminds me of the time I watched a visiting clergyman doing a sendup of “Pastor Jack telling the congregation the church is on fire.” He had everyone in hysterics, with the assistant pastor waving his handkerchief in surrender.)

(12) DUNE BUILDERS. Warner Bros. Pictures has announced the full cast and creative team for the new Dune movie with Brian Herbert as an executive producer. No change in the November 20, 2020 release date: “Cameras Roll on Warner Bros. Pictures and Legendary Entertainment’s Epic Adaptation of ‘Dune’”.

(13) RETRO FUTURE. Popular Mechanics remembers “When Pan Am Promised to Fly Us to the Moon”.

In 1964, Austrian journalist Gerhard Pistor walked into a Vienna travel agency with a simple proposition. He’d like to fly to the moon, and if possible, he’d like to fly there on Pan Am. 

The travel agency, presumably dumbfounded by this request, decided to simply do its job and make the ask: It forwarded the impossible request to the airline, the legend goes, where it attracted the attention of Juan Trippe, the notoriously brash and publicity-thirsty CEO of Pan American World Airways, the world’s most popular airline. Trippe saw a golden opportunity, and the bizarre request gave birth to a brilliant sales ploy that cashed in on the growing international obsession with human spaceflight: Pan Am was going to launch commercially operated passenger flights to the moon. Or, at least, that’s what it was going to tell everyone. 

In hindsight, it’s beyond ludicrous. NASA wouldn’t land men on the moon for five more years; the promise of lunar getaways on a jetliner sounds like a marketing scam at worst, and the most preposterous extension of 1960s techno-optimism at best. And yet, in a striking parallel to today’s commercial space race, would-be customers put down their names on a waiting list for their chance to go to space, joining Pan Am’s “First Moon Flights” Club.

If history is a guide, then Virgin Galactic, SpaceX and Blue Origin should be cautious. Pan Am dissolved in 1991 without ever getting close to launching a spacecraft. Even when it promised the moon and the stars, the airline was far closer to financial oblivion than it was to the cosmos. 

(14) NOW THEY TELL US. “US detects huge meteor explosion” – but we need to hear about it from BBC?

A huge fireball exploded in the Earth’s atmosphere in December, according to Nasa.

The blast was the second largest of its kind in 30 years, and the biggest since the fireball over Chelyabinsk in Russia six years ago.

But it went largely unnoticed until now because it blew up over the Bering Sea, off Russia’s Kamchatka Peninsula.

The space rock exploded with 10 times the energy released by the Hiroshima atomic bomb.

Lindley Johnson, planetary defence officer at Nasa, told BBC News a fireball this big is only expected about two or three times every 100 years.

(15) VIDEO OF THE DAY. In “Disney–The Art of Animation” on YouTube, Kaptain Kristian provides the 15 principles of animation that have ensured Disney’s continued excellence in animation for over 80 years.

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