Pixel Scroll 10/11/19 Keep Them Pixels Scrollin’, Though The Files Are Swollen, Five-Hide!

(1) WHAT YOUNG PEOPLE THINK OF MACLEAN. James Davis Nicoll’s Young People Read Old SFF returns with the panel’s responses to “Unhuman Sacrifice” by Katherine MacLean. Mikayla and the other young hands weigh in.

Katherine MacLean (1925 – 2019) was active as a short story writer mainly in the 1950s (although pieces appeared as late as 1997) and as a novelist mainly in the 1970s. Her Second Game saw her a Hugo finalist in 1959; Missing Man won a Nebula in 1972. Rediscovery offers MacLean’s “Unhuman Sacrifice”, an uplifting tale of a human missionary convinced he knows best for a community of just-contacted aliens. No doubt it can only end well.

The plan for this phase of Young People was to shift to a conversation-based format, using Slack to facilitate discussion. I then sabotaged this by getting sick the week the reviews came in. Ah, well. Next time it will all work swimmingly.

(2) MANY CHEFS. Daniel Brotzel’s SFWA Blog post “Collaboration” includes this advice for making it work:

…Writing a book with someone else can be a nightmare or it can be pure pleasure. In our case, lots of things fell into place almost by accident, things which I can now see are essential to making a collaboration work. These include:

• a shared passion for the project and the idea
• mutual respect for each other’s writing and ideas
• a practical way of working that can accommodate everyone’s schedules and constraints
• a willingness to set egos aside and make compromises for the good of the project (and the ultimate benefit of the reader)
• an attitude that embraces sharing and the ambition to see things through
• a good blend of the skills and capabilities that you to get a book off the ground – and beyond

(3) ANIMANIACS. SYFY Wire confirms the Animaniacs Cast Will All Return”.

Almost a full year ago we found out that the Animaniacs will be revived on Hulu with Steven Spielberg executive producing. And that was pretty exciting. But the larger question hung in the air: What about the original cast?

Well you can breath easy: They’re all back. Yes, Rob Paulsen, Jess Harnell, Tress MacNeille, and Maurice LaMarche are all returning to the fold. Or the water tower, I guess. It’s a massive relief. It’s not that animated characters can’t be recast, it’s just that these specific actors are, frankly, a pure distillation of so many childhoods that it would be a shame if they weren’t all returning to Animaniacs. Hooray! Everyone likes good news!

(4) WHO’S AFRAID OF THE BIG BAD AMAZON? amNY reveals “The secret to The Mysterious Bookshop’s 40-plus years of success”.

…Book clubs also keep loyal readers inspired, including a Book of the Month subscription that includes a signed first edition of the shop’s choosing and an unclassifiable club that includes books that do not fall into the traditional mystery genre. For example, Rob Hart’s “The Warehouse,” which takes place in a near-future dystopian world where a company has become a totalitarian force, would not traditionally be shelved in a bookstore’s mystery section, but has been extremely popular in The Mysterious Bookshop.

Speaking of corporate monopolies, Penzler isn’t fearful of big box competitors.

“We can compete with Amazon because they don’t offer signed books,” he says. “I shouldn’t say that so loudly because they’ll probably do it, but every mystery writer comes to sign at our store. Half of books sold are signed and we don’t charge more for them!”

(5) ONE IS ENOUGH. NPR’s Mark Jenkins pans both performances: “Clone Gunman: Will Smith Vs. Will Smith In Sluggish, Sterile ‘Gemini Man'”.

Long before digital imaging, German philosopher Walter Benjamin opined that reproductions of artworks lacked the “aura” of the original. But what about reproductions of people? To judge by Will Smith’s double act in Gemini Man, the forerunner can be just as lacking as the copy.

Conceived more than 20 years ago as a Tony Scott-directed action flick, Gemini Man eventually fell to Ang Lee, who has recently shown more interest in cinematic technology than storytelling. Once a versatile stylist, the Taiwan-born director of The Life of Pi now seems consumed by advances in CGI. His latest trick, casting Will Smith against a digitally backdated version of himself, can’t save this movie from being bland, sluggish, and sentimental.

…There’s something else that Gemini Man shares with The Da Vinci Code: clunky dialogue. Credited to three writers but reportedly the work of many more, the movie’s script offers a preposterous scenario that might have been finessed by visual and verbal wit. It has little of either….

(6) THE NEED FOR SPEED. Leonard Maltin, on the other hand, was won over by the technical virtuosity as he says in the beginning of his review “Gemini Man: Two Will Smiths For The Price Of One”.

I was wary approaching Gemini Man, which I saw at 120 frames per second (about four times normal film speed) in 3-D. I got a headache the last time I watched a high-frame-rate feature but I came away from this film a believer. Director Ang Lee is trailblazing new territory, as he did in Billy Lynn’s Halftime Walk, but this time he has a highly enjoyable, action-packed story and a perfect star in Will Smith. The entertainment value is high and cutting-edge technology organically suits the content….

(7) INSIDE THE CANISTER. Alasdair Stuart says this is what readers of “The Full Lid 11th October 2019” have in store:

This week’s Full Lid soars above London with the parkour and violence enthusiasts of the Assassins Creed Symphony! Then I’m off to Sheffield to discover my new favorite poem at an event that celebrates science and art and where they mix. This piece genuinely left me speechless and I’ve been riding an endorphin wave from being able to see it all week.

Finally, I take a look at Swedish SF movie Aniara, adapting the epic poem and Horror Christmas reaches The Silence of the Lambs. If you like what you read, please share and subscribe and I’ll see you next week. Happy Friday, everyone!

(8) PEN OUT LOUD. In a wide-ranging conversation with author Marlon James, acclaimed writer and former PEN America President Salman Rushdie previewed his latest novel Quichotte, a modern take on Miguel de Cervantes’ 17th-century novel Don Quixote, at a PEN Out Loud evening in New York City. There’s also a transcript at the link: “Salman Rushdie and Marlon James Discuss Language, Reality, and Nostalgia at PEN Out Loud”.

RUSHDIE: Intimate, but you know, [English is] not my mother tongue. That’s to say. I grew up in a kind of environment in India where everybody’s kind of multilingual because you have to be. But basically the language we spoke at home was mostly not English, mostly Urdu. But I went to what they call an English medium school. So when I went to school, I was being taught in English. So I grew up more or less bilingual. One of the reasons that I never make a spelling mistake is because I had to learn the language. People who just have the language very often can’t spell.

JAMES: Yes, when you said that, I heard my high school teacher in the back of my head going “dot your i’s, cross your t’s, and leave a full stop by the end of every single sentence.”

RUSHDIE: Yes, exactly. We got taught that shit.

JAMES: Yes, but I remember for a long time my biggest struggle with writing in English is, I would put something down, or I’ll speak, and it took me a while to realize I sounded like the butler.

RUSHDIE: Like a butler?

JAMES: Yeah. Like it was a very colonial English.

RUSHDIE: Like Jeeves.

JAMES: Yeah.

RUSHDIE: I can’t imagine you writing, the books you’ve written, as if you were Jeeves.

JAMES: I’m telling you, I used to use shit like “betwixt.”

(9) LEONOV OBIT. Cosmonaut Alexei Leonov, the first to walk in space, died at the age of 85 on October 11. CollectSpace paid tribute:

…Selected alongside Yuri Gagarin among the first 20 Soviet Air Force pilots to train as cosmonauts in 1960, Leonov flew twice into space, logging a total of 7 days and 32 minutes off the planet.

Launched on Voskhod 2, the world’s 17th human spaceflight, on March 18, 1965, Leonov made history as the first person to exit his spacecraft for an extravehicular activity (EVA).

“The Earth is round!” he exclaimed, as he caught his first view of the world. “Stars were to my left, right, above and below me. The light of the sun was very intense and I felt its warmth on the part of my face that was not protected by a filter,” said Leonov in a 2015 interview with the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (FAI) on the 50th anniversary of his spacewalk.

The New York Times obituary tells how that mission was almost fatal for Leonov:

…What Mr. Leonov did not reveal until many years later was that he and his fellow cosmonaut, Pavel I. Belyayev, who was also an Air Force pilot, were fortunate to have survived.

Mr. Leonov’s specially designed suit had unexpectedly inflated during his walk, and its bulk was preventing him from getting back inside the Voskhod.

“I knew I could not afford to panic, but time was running out,” he recalled in the book “Two Sides of the Moon” (2004), written with the astronaut David Scott, about their experiences in space.

Mr. Leonov slowly deflated the suit by releasing oxygen from it, a procedure that threatened to leave him without life support. But with the reduced bulk, he finally made it inside.

“I was drenched with sweat, my heart racing,” he remembered.

But that, he added “was just the start of dire emergencies which almost cost us our lives.”

The oxygen pressure in the spacecraft rose to a dangerous level, introducing the prospect that a spark in the electrical system could set off a disastrous explosion or fire.

It returned to a tolerable level, but the cosmonauts never figured out the reason for the surge.

When it came time for the return to Earth, the spacecraft’s automatic rocket-firing system did not work, forcing the cosmonauts to conduct imprecise manual maneuvers during the descent that left them in deep snow and freezing temperatures in a remote Russian forest, far from their intended landing point.

(10) PITTS OBIT. The SFWA Blog noted the death of J.A. Pitts:

SFWA member John A. Pitts died on October 3 from amyoidosis.  Pitts began publishing short fiction in 2006 with “There Once Was a Girl from Nantucket (A Fortean Love Story),” co-written with Ken Scholes.  He went on to write several short stories on his own and in 2010 began publishing novels under the name J.A. Pitts with Black Blade Blues, the first novel in his series about Sarah Beauhall.

(11) TODAY IN HISTORY.

  • October 11, 1957 The Black Scorpion debuted. Starring Richard Denning, Mara Corday and Carlos Rivas, Rotten Tomatoes gave it a 33% rating. Mystery Science Theater 3000, well, see for yourself here what they thought of it. 

(12) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • October 11, 1921 Linda Stirling. Sheila Layton in the 1945 The Purple Monster Strikes serial, also known as D Day on Mars. The sequel to this serial was the 1950 Flying Disc Man from Mars, which simply recycled much of the footage from the original. (Died 1997.)
  • October 11, 1940 Caroline John. Liz Shaw, companion to the Third Doctor. Shaw was a brilliant scientist, unusual for a companion. She returned for The Five Doctors. And she would reprise her character in the Big Finish audio works. Later she played the role of Laura Lyons in the BBC adaptation of The Hound of the Baskervilles, opposite Tom Baker as Holmes. (Died 2012.)
  • October 11, 1960 Nicola Bryant, 59. Well known for her role as Perpugilliam “Peri” Brown, a companion to both the Fifth and Sixth Doctors. She also worked in “The Two Doctors” story so she appeared with the Second Doctor as well. Of course she’s done Big Finish Doctor Who audio dramas.
  • October 11, 1965 ?Sean Patrick Flanery, 54. I really think that his best work was on The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles and the films that followed. 
  • October 11, 1972 ?Claudia Black, 47. Best known for being Aeryn Sun in Farscape, Vala Mal Doran in Stargate SG-1 and Sharon “Shazza” Montgomery in Pitch Black. She also had a recurring role as Dahlia in The Originals and starred as Dr. Sabine Lommers in The CW’s Containment series.
  • October 11, 1976 Emily Deschanel, 43. Temperance “Bones” Brennan in Bones which crossed over with Sleepy Hollow twice (she visited the latter once) and she had a bit part on Spider-Man 2. More notably she was Pam Asbury in Stephen King’s Rose Red series. 
  • October 11, 1985 Michelle Trachtenberg, 34. Dawn, one of the most annoying characters in television ever, on Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

(13) NANCY. A Slate Q&A with Olivia Jaimes reveals “Nancy’s Artist Revived an 80-Year-Old Comic Strip by Writing Fan Fiction”

Matthew Phelan: Is working with someone else’s characters emotionally freeing? Or do you feel an intense, world-historic duty to do justice to classic Nancy

Olivia Jaimes: It feels like I’m writing Nancy fan fiction, which is very freeing. I’ve said the same thing to my editor before, and she’s gently broken it to me that my Nancies are canon, but fan fiction is what it feels like nonetheless. Maybe what I mean by this is that I feel comfortable transforming the strip in ways that suit me because I trust readers to know “the rules” of transformative works like fan fiction. It’s your take on characters that are shared by everyone. You’re not trying to pass seamlessly as the original author; you’re stretching and bending the original work to make it say what you want it to say.

(14) FLASH REFERENCES FLASH. [Item by Daniel Dern.] Am I the only one who (a) couldn’t tell what the words were, in the episode, (b) wouldn’t have recognized this as a Queen tune, even if I had, nor necessarily which movie it was from, (c) don’t mind, since, if nothing else, Cisco (formerly “Vibe”) had “been waiting for the perfect moment to use it, and Caitlin (aka Killer Frost) recognized it. Io9’s James Whitbrook’s episode recap The Flash Finally Did It” explains:

… And, via Cisco, The Flash finally, finally does something that is incredibly goofy, completely rad, and something it has simply been yearning to do since it first began: Cisco taps a key on STAR Labs’ sound system.

And Queen’s Flash Gordon theme starts playing.

It’s so dumb. It’s so good. It is, as Cisco argues, the perfect moment to deploy the 1980 classic. You don’t care that the black hole CG comes with all the questionable success CW-budget computer effects usually bring. You don’t care that this has been, otherwise, a pretty humdrum episode of The Flash, and weirdly low key for a season premiere. This is what this show has always been, and hopefully always will be, about: embracing the sheer, kinetic, camp audacity of superhero comics and just having an absolute whale of a time while doing so.

(15) SAILOR SHIPPING OVER. ScienceFiction.com says “Sailor Moon Is Returning To The Big Screen In 2020 In ‘Bishoujo Senshi Sailor Moon Eternal’”.

(16) GAMES TRANSFORMED TO NARRATIVES. “Ubisoft Planning Animated TV Adaptations of Popular Game Franchises”The Hollywood Reporter has the story.

Video game giant Ubisoft is getting cartoonish.

The Paris-based company’s film and television division is developing a slate of animated series inspired by its existing IP. First up: a Mars-set Rabbids Invasion special, after four successful seasons of the France 3/Netflix/Nickelodeon kids show. Other family-friendly programs in the works include a comedy-adventure inspired by the popular Rayman franchise and Hungry Shark Squad, based on the mobile game Hungry Shark.

… For slightly older viewers, Ubisoft is toning down its M-rated Watch Dogs action-adventure franchise for a tamer “cybermystery” aimed at tweens. The show centers on a teenaged “super hacker” who solves crimes in her high school.

(17) CHINA’S PROXY CENSOR. Zack Beauchamp, in “One of America’s Biggest Gaming Companies Is Acting As China’s Censor” on Vox, says that Activision Blizzard banned Chung Ng Wa, who plays as “Blitzchung,” after he won a Hearthstone Grandmasters tournament and then put on goggles and a face mask and said, “Liberate Hong Kong, revolution of our time.”

On Tuesday, Blizzard came down hard on Chung. In an official statement on Hearthstone’s blog, the company announced that it would be suspending Chung for a year, forcing him to forfeit thousands of dollars in prize money from 2019 and firing the casters (commentators) who conducted the interview.

This is a big deal.

Blizzard, who created (among other things) World of Warcraft, is a massive company. It brought in about $7.5 billion in revenue in 2018. Like the NBA, which has rebuked the Houston Rockets’ general manager over a pro-Hong Kong tweet, Blizzard is not merely trying to operate within the confines of Chinese censorship but acting as its agent.

(18) HEY, THE TIMING IS NOT THE ROBOT’S FAULT. “Istanbul Airport Robot Has A Message for You!” on YouTube describes the friendly robots helping passengers at Istanbul Airport.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Cat Eldridge, JJ, Chip Hitchcock, Martin Morse Wooster, Daniel Dern, James Davis Nicoll,. Mike Kennedy, Michael Toman, John A Arkansawyer, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Rob Thornton.]

Pixel Scroll 9/23/19 But That Was Very Long Ago, And Oh, So Far Away

(1) A MATTER OF RESPECT. Edmund Schluessel has returned from Fantasticon 2019, in Copenhagen, Denmark with a burden: “I attended as a Special Guest this weekend in Copenhagen. There has been discussion within the Nordic countries’ fan community about the event’s poster and some other issues of insensitivity and I discuss those here.” — “Saints and people who do not think like us (Fantasticon 2019)”.

…Nisi [Shawl] was talking about altruism. They talked about being a saint. They talked about sacrifice, even putting yourself in harm’s way to protect someone who would do harm to you. 

The Chair gave an impromptu speech just afterward. The poster was excellent, he told us all, and complaints about it all came from “people who do not think like us.”

Then started the filk sing-a-long. Only quick action by an observant program participant kept the projector screen from telling the whole banquet room that we’d be singing along to the tune of “The Darkies’ Sunday School.” That quick action did not prevent the flippant reference to rape in the lyrics. “It was like something from the ’70s,” that quick intervenor said later.

Why am I amped up to 11 about all this? At a fundamental level, fandom is about storytelling. And something I’ve seen in every single fan community I’ve interacted with, going back something like 25 years now, is that the story fandom always tells best is when it’s telling itself “we are tolerant, we are open, we accept everyone.” Too often that story is a myth.

The Afrofuturist authors whose work and ideas this convention we’re supposed to be celebrating — if we won’t listen to their message, are they “people who do not think like us”? The convention members who saw something wrong with the poster, whether or not they could clearly articulate it — are they not part of “us”? Am I not part of “us”? You put my name on the damned poster!

(2) EATING THE FANTASTIC. Where do you go for a Javanese dinner? For Lisa Tuttle and interviewer Scott Edelman the answer was: Dublin. Join them in Episode 105 of the Eating the Fantastic podcast.

Lisa Tuttle

My guest this time around is the award-winning writer Lisa Tuttle, who I caught up with one night after she was done with a 7:30 p.m. reading, which meant that by the time we began our meal it was a later than usual dinner (for me, at least). We hopped in a cab and took off for at Chameleon, an Indonesian restaurant I’d found via Eater’s list of 38 essential Dublin restaurants. The restaurant offers set menus from various regions, including Sumatra and Bali. We decided to go with Java, but added to that some pork bell bao, and the 10-hour Javanese anise short rib of beef, a signature dish of theirs which turned out to be my favorite thing eaten all weekend.

Lisa and I both had wonderful experiences 45 years ago at the 1974 Worldcon in Washington, D.C., me because it was my first Worldcon, she because of winning the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer. She’s accomplished a lot in the 4-1/2 decades since, including being awarded the 1982 Nebula for Best Short Story for “The Bone Flute.” She’s published seven short story collections, starting with A Nest of Nightmares in 1986 and most recently Objects in Dream in 2012, plus more than a dozen novels, the first of which was Windhaven (1981), written in collaboration with George R. R. Martin, who was my guest back in Episode 43. She was nominated for an Arthur C. Clarke award for her novel Lost Futures. She edited the pivotal anthology Skin of the Soul: New Horror Stories by Women (1990) as well as Crossing the Border: Tales of Erotic Ambiguity (1998).

We discussed the amusing series of mishaps which prevented her from learning she’d won the 1974 John W. Campbell Memorial Award for Best New Writer as early as she should have, the first thing Harlan Ellison ever said to her, how the all-male table of contents for a major horror anthology inspired her to edit her classic female horror anthology Skin of the Soul, the way emigrating from the U.S. to the UK affected her writing, why an editor said of one of her submitted novels, “I love this book, but I could no more publish it than I could jump out the window and fly,” how she and George R. R. Martin were able to collaborate early in their careers without killing each other, what she’d do if she were just starting out now as a writer, the reasons contemporary acknowledgements sections of novels should be shortened — and so much more.

(3) SPEED IS OF THE ESSENCE. He likes to get paid, too — “Chuck Yeager sues Airbus for writing ‘Yeager broke the sound barrier’” at Ars Technica.

In 2017, Airbus published a promotional article promoting an Airbus helicopter.

“Seventy years ago, Chuck Yeager broke the sound barrier,” said Guillaume Faury, CEO of Airbus Helicopters. “We’re trying to break the cost barrier. It cannot be ‘speed at any cost.'”

The 96-year-old Yeager wasn’t happy. Last week, he filed a lawsuit in federal court, arguing that Airbus had infringed his rights by using his name without permission.

“By using Yeager’s name, identity, and likeness and federal registered trademarks in the infringing material, Airbus impaired the ability of General Yeager to receive his established earning potential,” Yeager’s lawyers wrote.

Yeager says that he visited Airbus in 2008 and told Airbus it would cost at least $1 million to use his name and likeness in promotional materials. Airbus refused his offer.

(4) VISUAL CONREPORT. Roberto Quaglia shares some great views in his video “Glimpses of an Irish Worldcon – Dublin 2019.”

(5) HARD SF. Here’s Rocket Stack Rank’s annual “Outstanding Hard Science Fiction of 2018” with 27 stories that were that were finalists for major SF/F awards, included in “year’s best” SF/F anthologies, or recommended by prolific reviewers in short fiction.

Included are some observations obtained from highlighting specific recommenders and pivoting the table by publication, author, awards, year’s best anthologies, and reviewers.

(6) NOT ALL TROLLS. “Neil Gaiman On The Good Kind of Trolls”  at Literary Hub is his introduction to The Complete and Original Norwegian Folk Tales of Asbjørnsen and Moe in which Gaiman discusses his love of Norway and Norwegian folklore.

You will meet youngest sons and foolish farmers, clever women and lost princesses, adventurers and fools, just as in any collection of folk stories from anywhere in Northern Europe. But the Norwegian Folktales come with trolls, and if Asbjørnsen and Moe did not see them, as Kittelsen did, then they got their stories from people who had, people who had seen the trolls walking in the mist at dawn.

(7) EMMY REMEMBRANCES. The 2019 Primetime Emmys included an Memoriam segment. Some of the names of genre interest: Jan-Michael Vincent, James Frawley, Ron Miller, Cameron Boyce, Rutger Hauer, Stan Lee, and Rip Torn.

(8) TODAY IN HISTORY.

  • September 23, 1846 — Planet Neptune was discovered.
  • September 23, 1962 The Jetsons debuted its very first episode, “Rosey the Robot”. The series which was produced by Hanna-Barbera would run for three seasons.
  • September 23, 1968 Charly was released, starring Cliff Robertson and Claire Bloom. Based on “Flowers for Algernon” which is a sf short story and a novel by Daniel Keyes. The short story, written in 1958 and first published in the April 1959 issue of The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, won the Hugo Award for Best Short Story in 1960. The novel was published in 1966 and was joint winner of that year’s Nebula Award for Best Novel with Samuel R. Delany’s Babel-17

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born September 23, 1897 Walter Pidgeon. He’s mostly remembered for his role in the classic Forbidden Planet as Dr. Morbius, but he’s done some other genre work being in Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea as Adm. Harriman Nelson, and in The Neptune Factor as Dr. Samuel Andrews. (Died 1984.)
  • Born September 23, 1908 Wilmar House Shiras. Her story “In Hiding” was submitted in 1948 to Astounding Science Fiction, where it was published. She published two sequels in the magazine: “Opening Doors”, and “New Foundations”. The three stories would become the first three chapters in the novel, Children of the Atom. Other than a handful of short fiction, I think it’s her only work. Neither iBooks or Kindle carry anything by her. (Died 1990.)
  • Born September 23, 1920 Richard Wilson. Not a writer of much genre fiction at all. His really major contribution to fandom and to Syracuse University where he worked as the director of the Syracuse University News Bureau was in successfully recruiting the donation of papers from many prominent science fiction writers to the Syracuse University’s George Arents Research Library.  The list of those writers includes Piers Anthony, Hal Clement, Keith Laumer, Larry Niven and Frederik Pohl. And, of course, himself. It has been called the “most important collection of science fiction manuscripts and papers in the world.” (Died 1987.)
  • Born September 23, 1944 Anne Randall, 75. She was Daphne, a servant girl in the original Westworld which if memory serves me correctly also had Yul Brynner in it. She’ll show also in Night Gallery  in the “Tell David” episode as Julie. 
  • Born September 23, 1956 Peter David, 63. Did you know that his first assignment for the Philadelphia Bulletin was covering Discon II? I’m reasonably sure the first thing I read by him was Legions of Fire, Book 1—The Long Night of Centauri Prime but he’s also done a number of comics I’ve read including runs of Captain Marvel , Wolverine and Young Justice.
  • Born September 23, 1959 Frank Cottrell-Boyce, 60. Definitely not here for his sequels to Chitty-Chitty-Bang-Bang. (Horrors!) He is here for such writing endeavors as Goodbye Christopher Robin, his Doctor Who stories, “In the Forest of the Night” and “Smile”, both Twelfth Doctor affairs, and the animated Captain Star series in which he voiced Captain Jim Star. The series sounds like the absolute antithesis of classic Trek
  • Born September 23, 1963 Alexander Proyas, 56. Australian director, screenwriter, and producer. He’s best known for directing The Crow (which is superb), Dark City, I, Robot  (nor so superb) and Gods of Egypt. His first, shot in Australia of course, was Spirits of the Air, Gremlins of the Clouds. It’s genre. Has anyone seen it? 
  • Born September 23, 1957 Rosalind Chao, 61. She was the recurring character of Keiko O’Brien with a total of twenty-seven appearances on Next Generation and  Deep Space Nine. In 2010, a preliminary casting memo for Next Gen from 1987 was published, revealing that Chao was originally considered for the part of Enterprise security chief Tasha Yar.

(10) BURNING COLD. The second official trailer for Frozen 2 dropped today.

(11) FLASH GORDON. Film School Rejects thinks this movie has lessons to teach today’s creators despite its reputation: “What Today’s Sci-Fi Should Learn from ‘Flash Gordon'”.

Take, for example, the 2017 flop Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets. Luc Besson’s film, which is itself based on comics originating in the 1960s, spends way too much time explaining stuff that never becomes relevant. The eponymous City of a Thousand Planets is a space station broken down into multiple districts, as the exposition explains, but the action of the film barely takes place in any of them.

Flash Gordon, meanwhile, understands that drama is built between characters and then focuses on them. Everyone in the movie, from Flash to Ming to Flash’s larger-than-life ally Prince Vultan, has their own distinct wants, and the story emerges from these characters interacting and trying to reconcile these wants. This movie gets at the humanity behind these characters, even if they happen to be aliens

(12) ON THE TWENTIETH CENTURY. Pursuing a thought experiment inspired by a list of 21st Century books, Peace Is My Middle Name started a hypothetical list of “100 best books of the Twentieth Century” as if it had been compiled in 1919. Their titles are in a comment and ought to have been mentioned yesterday, except the comment landed in the spam and wasn’t spotted for hours. Well worth your time.

(13) FOR YOUR EARS. Several episodes of a reading of Margaret Atwood’s The Testaments are available for listening at the BBC.

In this brilliant and long-awaited sequel to The Handmaid’s Tale, Margaret Atwood answers the questions that have tantalised readers for decades. In The Testaments, set fifteen years after the events of her dystopian masterpiece, the Republic of Gilead maintains its grip on power, but there are signs it is beginning to rot from within. Now the testimonies of three different women bring the story to a dramatic conclusion. Today we hear from the infamous Aunt Lydia, and Agnes, a young girl who has only known life in Gilead.

(14) NOT ARISTOTLE. “Euclid space telescope to study ‘dark Universe’ makes progress” – BBC has the story.

Europe’s space mission to uncover the secrets of the “dark Universe” has reached a key milestone.

The test model of the Euclid telescope has just emerged from a chamber where it was subjected to the kind of conditions experienced in orbit.

It was a critical moment for engineers because the successful trial confirms the observatory’s design is on track.

Euclid, due for launch in 2022, will map the cosmos for clues to the nature of dark matter and dark energy.

These phenomena appear to control the shape and expansion of the Universe but virtually nothing is known about them.

The €800m venture, led by the European Space Agency (Esa), will be one of a group of new experiments to come online in the next few years.

Scientists are hopeful these next-generation technologies will provide the insights that have so far eluded them.

(15) ATARI 2600. BBC fathoms “The mysterious origins of an uncrackable video game”.

With the digital equivalent of trowels and shovels, archaeologists are digging into the code of early video games to uncover long forgotten secrets that could have relevance today.

“You and your team of archaeologists have fallen into the ‘catacombs of the zombies’.” A miserable situation, to be sure. But this was the chilling trial that faced players of Entombed, an Atari 2600 game, according to the instruction manual.

The catacombs were an unforgiving place. A downward-scrolling, two-dimensional maze that players had to navigate expertly in order to evade the “clammy, deadly grip” of their zombie foes. An archaeologist’s nightmare.

Released in 1982, Entombed was far from a best-seller and today it’s largely forgotten. But recently, a computer scientist and a digital archaeologist decided to pull apart the game’s source code to investigate how it was made.

…Like intrepid explorers of catacombs, Aycock and Copplestone sought curious relics inside Entombed. But they got more than they bargained for: they found a mystery bit of code they couldn’t explain. It seems the logic behind it has been lost forever.

Into the labyrinth

Maze-navigating games were very common back in the late 1970s and early 1980s, but the method used to generate a maze varied, depending on the programmer. In the age of Atari, games had to be designed with incredible skill because the computer systems that ran them were so limited. (Read more about the mind of a maze-builder.)

Although the blocky, two dimensional mazes from entombed might look simple by the standards of today’s computer graphics, in 1982 you couldn’t just design a set of mazes, store them in the game and later display them on-screen – there wasn’t enough memory on the game cartridges for something like that. In many cases, mazes were generated “procedurally” – in other words, the game created them randomly on the fly, so players never actually traversed the same maze twice.

But how do you do get a computer program to avoid churning out a useless maze with too many walls, or an otherwise impenetrable floorplan?

(16) SNOWPIERCER BACKSTORY. On September 24, Titan Comics will release Snowpiercer The Prequel: Part 1: Extinction, a brand-new prequel graphic novel set before the extinction incident that led to the events of the original Snowpiercer graphic novel trilogy. It’s written by Matz (Triggerman, The Assignment), with art by the original Snowpiercer graphic novel artist Jean-Marc Rochette, shown in this promotional video creating an iconic scene from the book.

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

Pixel Scroll 1/7/18 Your Majesty Is Like A Scroll With Pixels On Top

(1) BOOK SMUGGLERS AT 10. Happy birthday to The Book Smugglers. They celebrated their tenth anniversary today:

Welcome to Smugglivus 2017: A Year In Review. Today, January 7, 2017, is our bloggoversary–and it’s a big one. Today we officially turn ten years old. To celebrate, we’re looking back at 2017 to document our year, as well as our top 10 moments since starting The Book Smugglers a decade ago.

A lot of interesting achievements and reminiscences in this post.

(2) KGB. Fantastic Fiction at KGB reading series hosts Ellen Datlow and Matthew Kressel present Myke Cole and Joseph Helmreich on Wednesday, January 17, 2018, 7 p.m. at the KGB Bar (85 East 4th Street, New York).

Myke Cole

Myke Cole is the author of the military fantasy Shadow Ops series and its prequel trilogy, the Reawakening series, both from Ace/Roc. His Sacred Throne series is forthcoming from Tor.com in February. His first nonfiction (military history) book, will be out from Osprey in the fall. Myke appeared on CBS’ hit TV show Hunted, as part of a team of elite investigators tracking fugitives across the southeastern United States.

Joseph Helmreich

Joseph Helmreich has contributed writing to NewsweekNY Daily News, and Tor.com, and is author of the recent sf thriller, The Return (St. Martin’s Press, March 2017) about a physicist who gets abducted by an alien ship on live TV.  When not writing, Joe is a ventriloquist, illustrator, voice-over actor and member of alternative folk duo, Honeybrick. He lives in New York City and works in film distribution.

(3) SALAM AWARD. The 2018 jury for the Salam Award will be Elizabeth Hand , E. Lily Yu and Anil Menon. The award promotes imaginative fiction in Pakistan.

Last year’s winner was Firuza Pastakia for her story The Universe is a Conscientious Gardener.

(4) FANTASY MINIATURES. Dangerous Minds showcases some cute miniature models of Fauns, Jackalopes, Dragons, Daenerys Targaryen, and Unicorns. Here’s Exhibit A:

Warning: Cuteness overload ahead

Silvia Minucelli is an engineer and freelance artisan who creates itsy-bitsy, ickle figurines using polymer clay and a toothpick—can you imagine how painstaking and difficult that must be? Minucelli produces and sells her delightful models under the name Mijbil Creatures—named after the famous otter in Gavin Maxwell’s book Ring of Bright Water.

(5) PKD ON TV. The New York Times’ Jonathan Ringer tells how “With ‘Electric Dreams,’ Philip K. Dick Gets the TV Anthology Treatment”.

…The actors attracted to the series included Bryan Cranston of “Breaking Bad” (also one of the show’s executive producers), Steve Buscemi, Maura Tierney and the avant-R&B singer Janelle Monáe. And “Electric Dreams” attracted writers and directors like Dee Rees (“Mudbound”), Peter Horton (“American Odyssey,” “Thirtysomething”) and Alan Taylor (“Game of Thrones”).

Dick’s daughter, Isa Dick Hackett, whose production company Electric Shepherd oversees adaptations of her father’s work, reached out in 2012 to Mr. Dinner, executive producer of FX’s “Justified,” and invited him to look at the short stories. “Michael really had the idea to do it as anthology,” said Mr. Moore, a friend of Mr. Dinner’s who was brought on soon after.

Mr. Dinner, who had a deal with Sony, also recruited Mr. Cranston, who, like the others, is a major Philip K. Dick fan. All four brought in people they’d worked with as well as reaching out to talent they admired. “I sent Janelle Monáe a letter and asked her if she’d want to be a part of it,” Ms. Hackett said. “I knew that she was a big fan of my dad’s.”

David Klaus sent these comments with the link:

There’s an irony in that Star Trek was sold as the first s.f. t.v. series unlike previous s.f. series which had all been anthology shows, to have continuing characters and standing sets, to reduce production costs.

It could also be said another of Robert Heinlein’s great gifts to science fiction was the typewriter he bought and gave to PKD so that he could earn his way out of being so broke he couldn’t pay a library overdue fine.

(6) BLATHER. The New York Times interviewed an expert about “How To Speak Gibberish”. And it wasn’t even a member of Congress.

… In 2014, Sara Maria Forsberg was a recent high-school graduate in Finland when she posted “What Languages Sound Like to Foreigners,” a video* of herself speaking gibberish versions of 15 languages and dialects. Incorporate actual phonology to make a realistic-sounding gibberish. “Expose yourself to lots of different languages,” says Forsberg, now 23, who grew up speaking Finnish, Swedish and English.

Assemble your raw linguistic materials. Shortly after her YouTube video went viral — it has since been watched more than 19 million times — Lucasfilm contacted Forsberg and asked her to make up a language for one of the alien fighter groups in “Star Wars: The Force Awakens.” The actors were Indonesian, so Forsberg studied online videos in various Austronesian languages including Bahasa Indonesia and Sundanese, a language spoken in western Java. “Listen for repeated syllables,” she says. Write them down phonetically. Note the rhythm of the language. Look at the way a speaker’s lips and tongue give shape to his or her words. You don’t need to be a linguist to get an impression of real syntactic rules, which you can borrow. It helps to love listening to the singsong quality of people talking. For Forsberg, “it’s like music.”…

(7) TRIVIAL TRIVIA.

A friend was watching Queen of Outer Space with Zsa Zsa Gabor and noticed the title stuff did not appear until 17 minutes into the flick.

He then recalled that George Lucas was fined by the Directors Guild for not having the opening credits.  George paid the half million dollar fine and quit the Guild — see “How famous Star Wars title sequence survived imperial assaults” at The Conversation.

Star Wars creator George Lucas had to fight to maintain his vision of going straight into the story through the use of his rolling text sequence. He thought that opening credits were nothing to do with making a movie, seeing them as an example of the old-school posturing that he and his new Hollywood contemporaries had spurned. In this he could well have been inspired by George Mélies’ A Trip to the Moon (1902), which is regarded as the first sci-fi film and avoided using any credits because the visual narrative was so strong.

Lucas did end up having to put the studio and Lucasfilm idents at the start of the reel, but he put his own directing and producing credits at the end of the film. He argued that credits would destroy the impact of the opening, and put them at the end of the film instead.

Lucas did the same thing for Empire Strikes Back in 1980, which was directed not by himself but by Irving Kershner. This time the Directors Guild of America objected, even though Kershner didn’t mind. The guild wanted the movie withdrawn from theatres, the opening re-titled with Kershner’s directing credit at a cost of US$500,000 (£1.4m today), and that Lucas pay a $25,000 fine.

Lucas was incensed and took the guild to court. When it countersued, he decided to pay the fine to avoid entangling Kershner in the dispute. It was a pyrrhic victory for the guild, however. Lucas resigned from both the writers’ and directors’ guilds and all future Star Wars opening titles were untouched and consistent with the original.

(8) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • January 7, 1929 — The Buck Rogers in the 25th Century A.D. comic strip debuted. (The character’s first appearance was in a story published by Amazing Stories in 1928.)

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOY

  • January 7, 1934 – Flash Gordon. This has been long regarded as his “birthdate” because that was the day Alex Raymond’s strip was first published.

(10) COMICS SECTION.

(11) WOMBAT ON THE AIR. Information wants to be free —

(12) REMEMBERING THE GREAT RAY BRADBURY. Steve Vertlieb hopes you will read his piece for AmericanMusicPreservation.com, “A Ray Bradbury Remembrance (Film Music Review 14th Anniversary Special)”.

Here is my affectionate tribute to cherished friend Ray Bradbury, whose loving presence occupied my world and my heart for nearly four decades. Ray was one of the most distinguished writers of the twentieth century and, with H.G. Wells, perhaps the most influential, legendary science fiction writer of the past one hundred years. More importantly, however, Ray was a gentle little boy whose love of imagination, fantasy, and stories of other worlds influenced hundreds of writers and millions of admirers all over the world. His monumental presence upon this planet warmed and inspired all who knew him, and I was honored to call him my friend for thirty-eight years. Here, once more, is my loving remembrance of the life and world of Ray Bradbury, “I SING BRADBURY ELECTRIC.”

Steve’s article begins —

He was a kindly, gentle soul who lived among us for a seeming eternity. But even eternity is finite. He was justifiably numbered among the most influential writers of the twentieth century. Among the limitless vistas of science fiction and fantasy he was, perhaps, second only in literary significance to H.G. Wells who briefly shared the last century with him. Ray Bradbury was, above all else, the poet laureate of speculative fiction.

(13) KARMA. The house directly to the left of what was Ray Bradbury’s is listed on Air BnB and other sites as a party rental  You can even search for it by name, Cheviot Wonderland.

The large floor plan with gorgeous floor to ceiling windows overlooking the breathtaking pool area makes entertaining a breeze. With a state of the art chef’s kitchen and dining room that seats 10, tastefully dazzle your guests with a perfect setting for your dinner parties.

Los Angeles architect Thom Mayne razed Bradbury’s longtime Cheviot Hills home and built a place of his own design, which was finished in 2017.

(14) SIMULTANEITY PRINCIPLE. Andrew Porter points out there will be two conventions a few miles apart, same town, same weekend, July 27-29. Confluence is at the Sheraton Pittsburgh Airport Hotel. And Pulpfest is at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Pittsburgh – Cranberry. He says —

They’re about 8 miles apart, NW of downtown Pittsburgh. You’d think both conventions could do some sort of deal together. Maybe a shuttle between the two. I bet both sets of dealers would be happy with the exposure.

Also, judging from people’s Facebook posts, Confluence will be gaining some writers who have been trimmed from ReaderCon programming (another July convention).

(15) ANOTHER ADDICTIVE GAME. They say literally anybody can play: “China’s Most Popular Mobile Game Charges Into American Market”.

Chinese tech giant Tencent is trying to do something that’s never been done before: take the biggest online mobile game in China global.

Kings Of Glory, sometimes also translated as Honor Of Kings, boasts over 200 million monthly players worldwide. In China, it’s been reported that tens of millions play daily. The game is so popular that Tencent had to implement a daily time restriction for young players to “ensure children’s healthy development.”

(16) JUST IN TIME. The doctor will see you – right after he levels up. “Gaming addiction classified as disorder by WHO”.

Gaming addiction is to be listed as a mental health condition for the first time by the World Health Organisation.

Its 11th International Classification of Diseases (ICD) will include the condition “gaming disorder”.

The draft document describes it as a pattern of persistent or recurrent gaming behaviour so severe that it takes “precedence over other life interests”.

Some countries had already identified it as a major public health issue….

(17) MORE TRIVIA. Mad Genius Club has 10 times more people who want to read JDA’s blog than we have here. At least. Didn’t we know that already?

(18) ROWLING SITES. The Washington Post’s Tom Shroder tells how to go about “Discovering the magic of Edinburgh” in a travel piece about his visit to the places where J.K. Rowling wrote Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone in longhand, and a trip to Greyfriars Graveyard, whose tombs include Thomas Riddle (the real name of Lord Voldemort).

It was the first of what I came to think of as our Edinburgh Harry Potter moments — when the ordinary Muggle reality suddenly parted to reveal something magical. As it turned out, this wasn’t entirely fanciful thinking on my part. I only discovered later that J.K. Rowling herself said, in a 2008 speech accepting the Edinburgh Award, “Edinburgh is very much home for me and is the place where Harry evolved over seven books and many, many hours of writing in its cafes.”

The city’s remarkably consistent buildings of mottled brown stone blocks, the most spectacular of them with sharply peaked roofs and ostentatious turrets, are clear inspiration for the architecture of the Hogwarts School of Wizardry. The tombstones in the fabulously gloomy Greyfriars Kirkyard in the oldest part of the city bear the names of some key Potter characters — McGonagall, Moodie and, most notably, Thomas Riddle, the birth name of Harry’s nemesis, Lord Voldemort. Tourists flock to the cafes where the then-impoverished author wrote out her stories in longhand: the Elephant House, Nicholson’s (now called Spoon), the baroquely gorgeous Balmoral Hotel.

(19) ADDRESSER UNKNOWN. An anonymous piece at write.as summarizes Jon Del Arroz’ track record and concludes —

The most mind-boggling thing of all about Jon is, he insults and harasses people, then wonders why folks don’t want him around. If you call SFWA terrorists, insult women in science fiction related podcasts, insult people in the comic industry, call folks running fandom sites bigots, then openly admit you’re going to break a convention’s rules, why would you be surprised when people start banning you? You are your own worst enemy, Jon Del Arroz. I don’t believe you anymore.

(20) WHAT THOSE TINY HANDS ARE FOR. Thanks to ScienceFiction.com I discovered this artistic triumph — “Colorado Symphony Performs ‘Jurassic Park’ Theme Led By A T-Rex”.

Last March, Colorado Symphony conductor Christopher Dragon donned a T-rex costume to lead the ensemble in a performance of John Williams’ beloved ‘Jurassic Park’ theme song. The hilarious musical moment is getting its 15 minutes of fame after a video from the concert was posted to social media.

 

[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Martin Morse Wooster, Chip Hitchcock, Carl Slaughter, Steve Vertlieb, Chris Garcia, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Mister Dalliard.]

Oh Captain, My Captain – Jim Kirk, Flash Gordon, Buzz Corey

By Steve Vertlieb: William Shatner, the iconic actor who first sailed the Star Ship Enterprise through three intergalactic seasons on NBC Television beginning September 8th, 1966, and starred in six Star Trek feature-length motion pictures, turned eighty-six years young recently. He was the valiant inspiration for millions of young boys and men for decades of thrilling cinematic heroism. I conducted, perhaps, the very first “fan” interview with William Shatner ever published during July, 1969, whilst the series was still being aired over NBC in its final re-runs, for the British magazine, L’Incroyable Cinema. He was both delightfully witty, and warm, sharing a memorable hour of his valuable time with us. Here are Erwin and I together with Captain James Tiberius Kirk outside his dressing room at The Playhouse In The Park where he was starring in a local Philadelphia Summer Stock production of “There’s A Girl In My Soup,” with Exodus star Jill Hayworth.

Together with boyhood hero and cherished friend, Buster Crabbe, here in Philadelphia in 1979. On this particular occasion, Buster and I had dinner together in “Chinatown.” Although Jack Nicholson was nowhere to be found, Buster playfully emptied the remains of some his dinner into my plate, insisting that I “Eat, Eat, Eat.” My Jewish mother would have been proud. Buster, along with Ed Kemmer and William Boyd, was among my earliest childhood heroes. Buster and I were good friends over the last two decades of his life, and I remain honored to think of myself as one of Flash Gordon’s pals. Knowing him personally was a thrill beyond imagining. My affectionate remembrance of Larry “Buster” Crabbe, and “Fantastic” children’s television during the 1950’s, has been nominated as “Best Blog of the Year” under the heading of Better Days, Benner Nights in the annual Rondo Awards.

Steve Vertlieb and Buster Crabbe.

Together with one of my earliest boyhood heroes and role models, Ed Kemmer, who starred as Commander Buzz Corey of the “Space Patrol”, broadcast every Saturday morning on ABC Television in the mid 1950’s. He also co-starred with William Shatner in “Nightmare At 20,000 Feet,” the original classic episode of The Twilight Zone written by Richard Matheson. Shatner’s own Star Trek series was heavily influenced by Ed’s Space Patrol, as well as MGM’s Forbidden Planet. After this initial meeting, Ed and I remained friends through correspondence until his passing. He loved Sinatra, and so I’d periodically record tapes of Francis Albert for him, and send them to his apartment in New York. Ed remained conspicuously among the few stars refusing to accept compensation for posing for pictures or signing autographs. He felt that charging money for his image would be a betrayal of the millions of children who made him so popular during the nineteen fifties. He was not only a tv hero, but a real hero, as well. During the second world war, Ed was a pilot who had been shot down behind enemy lines and imprisoned as a POW. He was quite a remarkable human being, both on screen and off.

Steve Vertlieb with Ed Kemmer, who played Cmdr. Buzz Corey in Space Patrol.

Pixel Scroll 6/11/16 The Incredibly Strange Scrolls That Stopped Living And Became Crazy Mixed-Up Pixels

(1) NEW HWA ENDOWMENT PROMOTES YA WRITERS. The Horror Writers Association (HWA) has launched a “Young Adults ‘Write Now’ Endowment Program”  to fund teen-oriented writing programs at libraries.

The Young Adults Write Now fund will provide up to five endowments of $500 each per year for selected libraries to establish new, or support ongoing, writing programs. The program is currently open to United States libraries, but will be expanded in the future to include other countries, as part of the HWA’s global presence. Membership in the HWA is not a requirement.

HWA’s Library & Literacy team will select up to five recipients from the applications.

Applicants must fill in and submit the Application Form designed for that purpose; the Application Form will be published at http://horror.org/librarians.htm but will also be made available by contacting libraries@horror.org.

Eligibility: Public and community libraries will be eligible. The Applicant must outline how the endowment would be used (a ‘Plan’) and describe the goals and history (if applicable) of the writing program. In selecting the recipients, the team shall focus primarily (but not exclusively) on advancing the writing of fiction, poetry, and non-fiction (essays). An emphasis on genre fiction (horror, science fiction, fantasy) in the plan is desired but not required. The Applicant shall demonstrate that the writing program will be regular and on-going.

Recipients receiving funding will be able to use the monies for anything relating to the proposed/active writing program, including but not limited to supplies, special events, publishing costs, guest speakers/instructors, and operating expense. Monies may not be used to fund other programs or expenses for the library.

(2) EARTHSEA ARTIST. In a comment on Terri Windling’s blog, Charles Vess said:

For the last two years I’ve been slowly approaching the daunting task of illustrating all six of Ursula’s Earthsea books (collected for the first time under one cover). Through sometimes almost daily correspondence with her I’ve been attempting to mentally & aesthetically look through her eyes at the world she’s spent so long writing about. It has been a privilege to say the least. Carefully reading and re-reading those books and seeing how masterfully she’s developed her themes is amazing. And now, to my great delight (and sometimes her’s as well) the drawings are falling off my fingertips. To be sure, there will never be many ‘jobs’ as fulfilling as this one is.”

(3) OBE FOR PRINCE VULTAN. “Queen’s Birthday Honours: Charitable actor Brian Blessed made an OBE”. Perhaps better known to the public for playing Augustus Caesar or various Shakespearean roles, to fans Brian Blessed is synonymous with the Flash Gordon movie, or as Mark of Cornwall in a King Arthur TV series.

Chobham-based bellowing actor Brian Blessed has been appointed OBE for services to the arts and charity in the Queen’s Birthday Honours.

The star, famed for taking to the screen and stage as Shakespearian leads, said the appointment came as a ‘complete surprise’.

“I am absolutely delighted,” he said.

“It is marvellous that the son of a Yorkshire coal miner should be given such an honour.

“A huge thank you to all of the people that nominated me.“

Mr Blessed has continued to pick up pace since his days as Prince Vultan in cult film Flash Gordon.

Astronaut Tim Peake is also on the list

The UK’s first official astronaut, Major Peake is due to return to Earth this month after a six-month mission and said he was “honoured to receive the first appointment to the Most Distinguished Order of St Michael and St George for extraordinary service beyond our planet”.

The honour is usually given for “serving the UK abroad”.

(4) HARRY POTTER OPENS. Twitter loved it. “The first reviews for ‘Harry Potter and the Cursed Child’ are in and everyone is spellbound”. For example…

(5) AFI VIDEO. ”Spielberg, Lucas and Abrams honor John Williams” who received a lifetime achievement award at last night’s American Film Institute event.

Steven Spielberg reveals his favorite Williams scores, while Richard Dreyfuss, Kobe Bryant and Peter Fonda discuss the legendary composer’s work.

 

(6) OF COURSE YOU RECOGNIZE THESE. Those of us who bombed the elves/drugs quiz the other day need a softball challenge like this to regain our confidence… “Only a true Star Trek fan can spot every reference in this awsome poster” says ME TV.

The pop culture world is celebrating the 50th anniversary of Star Trek. This has given us loads of cool collectibles, from Canadian currency shaped like Starfleet insignias to Captain Kirk Barbie dolls.

Add this wonderful poster to the heap of new Trek treasures, which comes to our attention via /Film and AICN. The work was created by artist Dusty Abell, whose resume includes character design on everything from Batman: Under the Red Hood to The Mike Tyson Mysteries.

Abell illustrated 123 items and characters seen in the three seasons of Star Trek: Original Series. Try and spot them all. Thankfully, he provided the answers, which we posted below.

(7) SUICIDE SQUAD. If Ben Affleck’s Batman appears in Suicide Squad (and the actor was spotted on the movie set), then there’s a glimpse of his character in this 30-second TV spot. Don’t blink.

(8) DID YOU SAVE YOURS? At Car and Driver, “12 Vintage Car Toys Now Worth Big Bucks”. This talking K.I.T.T. is worth $900….

From 1982 to 1986, car-loving kids around the country tuned in to the TV show Knight Rider on Friday nights. It featured a computerized, semi-autonomous, crime-fighting and talking Pontiac Trans Am known as K.I.T.T. (Knight Industries Two Thousand). The premise sounds ridiculous today, but that all-new Trans Am was freshly styled for the 1980s—just like its co-star, The Hoff. The show was a huge hit, and toys flooded the market. One of the coolest was the Voice Car by Kenner. Push down on the cool vintage blue California license plate, and the Voice Car would say six different phrases. It came with a Michael Knight action figure, too.

(9) SALDANA’S SF CAREER. At Yahoo! TV, “Zoe Saldana Says Without Sci-Fi Movies, Filmmakers Would Cast Her as the ‘Girlfriend or Sexy Woman of Color’”.

“If I wasn’t doing these sci-fi movies, I would be at the mercy of filmmakers that would just look my way if they need a girlfriend or sexy woman of color in their movie,” the 37-year-old actress tells the publication. “Space is different…but we can still do better. We can still give women more weight to carry in their roles.”

(10) IX PREVIEW WEEKEND. The rest of you may not even know there’s a Wilmington, Delaware, but my mother grew up there and that makes me twice as glad to find some genre news coming out of the place, about a major exhibit: “Delaware Art Museum hosts famous fantasy, science fiction artists”. 

Imaginative Realism combines classical painting techniques with narrative subjects, focusing on the unreal, the unseen, and the impossible. The Delaware Art Museum is partnering with IX Arts organizers to host the first IX Preview Weekend September 23 – 25, 2016 at the Museum, celebrating Imaginative Realism and to kick off IX9–the annual groundbreaking art show, symposium, and celebration dedicated solely to the genre. Imaginative Realism is the cutting edge of contemporary painting and illustration and often includes themes related to science fiction and fantasy movies, games, and books. A pop-up exhibition and the weekend of events will feature over 16 contemporary artists internationally recognized for their contributions to Star Wars, The Lord of the Rings, Avatar, Marvel, DC Comics, Blizzard Entertainment, and Wizards of the Coast, among others.

The weekend will also include after-hours events, performances, exclusive workshops with artists, talks, film screenings, artist signings, live demos, and games. The artists represented include Greg Hildebrandt, illustrator of the original Star Wars poster; Boris Vallejo, who is famous for his illustrations of Tarzan and Conan the Barbarian; Charles Vess, whose award-winning work graced the covers of Marvel and DC Comics; and Donato Giancola, known for his paintings for Lucasfilm, DC Comics, Playboy Magazine, and the Syfy Channel.

Other featured artists include Julie Bell, Bob Eggleton, Rebecca Leveille-Guay, Ruth Sanderson, Jordu Schell, Matthew Stewart, William O’Connor, David Palumbo, Dorian Vallejo, Michael Whelan, and Mark Zug. Each artist will present original work in the pop-up show, covering the gamut from illustration through personal/gallery work in a wide range of mediums. All artists represented will be present at the Museum over the course of the weekend.

Ticket and registration information will be available this summer. Visit delart.org for details and updates.

(11) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • June 11, 1982 E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial released

(12) SAY IT AIN’T SO. “Roddenberry’s Star Trek was ‘above all, a critique of Robert Heinlein” says Man Saadia at BoingBoing.

According to Roddenberry himself, no author has had more influence on The Original Series than Robert Heinlein, and more specifically his juvenile novel Space Cadet. The book, published in 1948, is considered a classic. It is a bildungsroman, retelling the education of young Matt Dodson from Iowa, who joins the Space Patrol and becomes a man. There is a reason why Star Trek’s Captain Kirk is from Iowa. The Space Patrol is a prototype of Starfleet: it is a multiracial, multinational institution, entrusted with keeping the peace in the solar system.

Where it gets a little weird is that Heinlein’s Space Patrol controls nuclear warheads in orbit around Earth, and its mission is to nuke any country that has been tempted to go to war with its neighbors. This supranational body in charge of deterrence, enforcing peace and democracy on the home planet by the threat of annihilation, was an extrapolation of what could potentially be achieved if you combined the UN charter with mutually assured destruction. And all this in a book aimed at kids.

Such was the optimism Heinlein could muster at the time, and compared to his later works, Space Cadet is relatively happy and idealistic, if a bit sociopathic.

(13) ECOLOGICAL NICHERY. John Scalzi observes “How Blogs Work Today” at Whatever.

I don’t think blogs are dead per se — WordPress, which I will note hosts my blog, seems to be doing just fine in terms of new sites being created and people joining its network. But I think the role of the blog is different than it was even just a couple of years ago. It’s not the sole outpost of an online life, although it can be an anchor, holding it in place. What a blog is today is part of an overall presence, with a specific role that complements other online outposts (which in turn complement the blog). I do it myself — longer pieces here, which I will point to from other places. Shortform smartassery on Twitter. Personal Facebook account to keep up with friends; public Facebook and Google Plus pages to keep fans up on news — news which is often announced here and linked to from there.

(14) MY OBSERVATION ABOUT HOW BLOGS WORK TODAY. Same as he said. Just look at how I’m getting my traffic. 🙂

(15) HISTORIC SNARK. News, but not from this timeline.

(16) DIGITAL COMICS. David Brin presents “A look at some of the best Science Fiction Webcomics”, an engaging précis of 20 current or favorites from recent years, with sample graphics. (Ursula Vernon’s Digger is on the list.)

This time let’s follow-up with a selection of yet-more truly creative online comics, some serious space dramas, others satires or comedies. Many offer humorous insights as they delve into science, space, the future… and human nature. You’ll find star-spanning voyages, vividly portrayed aliens, frequent use of faster-than-light travel (FTL), but …. no superheroes here! …

Outsider, by Jim Francis, is a full-color, beautifully illustrated “starship combat space opera.” Set in the 2100s, humanity has ventured out to the stars, only to encounter alien refugees fleeing war between the galactic superpowers Loroi and Umiak. With little information at hand to base their decision upon, humanity must decide: which side should earth ally with? When the starship Bellarmine finds itself caught in enemy crossfire, a hull breach sends Ensign Alexander Jardin drifting in space — where he is picked up by a Loroi ship. As the outsider aboard the alien ship, he slowly begins to understand this telepathic, formidable, all-female crew — and gain insight into earth’s place in the cosmos. Then he finds himself in a unique position to save humanity….

Quantum Vibe, by Scott Bieser. This sequential science fiction webcomic offers some real substance. The story begins five hundred plus years into the Space Age on the orbiting city, L-5. After a doomed relationship falls apart, our fierce heroine, Nicole Oresme, becomes technical assistant and pilot to Dr. Seamus O’Murchadha, inventor of electro-gravity, who needs help with his plan to delve into “quantum vibremonics.” Their adventures through the solar system include escaping assassins, diving into the sun’s corona, visits to Luna, Venus (terraforming underway), Mars, Europa and Titan. Earth is ruled by large corporations and genetically divided into rigid social castes – and even branched into genetic subspecies, multi-armed Spyders and Belt-apes. Libertarian references abound. A bit of a libertarian drumbeat but not inapropos for the setting and future.  I’m impressed with the spec-science in the series, as well as tongue-in-cheek references to SF stories, including… Sundiver and Heinlein.

Freefall, by Mark Stanley, a science fictional comedy which incorporates a fair amount of hard science; it has been running since 1998. The serialized strips follow the comic antics of the crew of the salvaged and somewhat-repaired starship Savage Chicken, with its not-too-responsible squid-like alien captain Sam Starfall, a not-too-intelligent robot named Helix, along with a genetically uplifted wolf for an engineer — Florence Ambrose. Their adventures begin on a planet aswarm with terraforming robots and incoming comets. The light-hearted comic touches on deeper issues of ethics and morals, sapience and philosophy, orbital mechanics and artificial intelligence.

(17) HEALTH WARNING. Twitter user threatens Tingle tantrum. Film at 11.

(18) CAN PRO ART HUGO BE IMPROVED? George R.R. Martin and Kevin Standlee have been debating the merits of Martin’s preference to have a Best Cover instead of Best Pro Artist Hugo. Standlee notes the failure of the Best Original Artwork Hugo in the early 1990s, while Martin ripostes —

It didn’t work because we did it wrong.

The new category should have replaced “Best Professional Artist” instead of simply being added as an additional Hugo. Keeping the old category just encouraged the voters to keep on nominating as they had before, while ignoring the new category.

Also, it should have been “Best Cover” instead of “Best Original Artwork.” I understand the desire to be inclusive and allow people to nominate interior illustrations, gallery art, and whatever, but the truth is, covers have always been what the artist Hugo is all about. Let’s stop pretending it’s not. Freas, Emshwiller, Whelan, Eggleton, Donato, Picacio and all the rest won their rockets on the strength of their cover work. No artist who does not do covers has ever won a Hugo.

Making it “Best Cover” makes it about the art, not the artist. Writers have a big advantage over artists in that their names are emblazoned on the covers of their books. With artists, we can see a spectacular piece of work without knowing who did it… like, for instance, the incredible cover for Vic Milan’s novel, mentioned above. People nominate the same artists year after year because those are the only artists whose names they know. It’s very hard for someone new to break through and get their name known.

It would be easier if the voters could just nominate say, “the cover of DINOSAUR LORDS,” without having to know the artist’s name.

(19) IMITATION IS THE SINCEREST FORM OF BEING RIPPED OFF. We take you back to Turkey and those thrilling days of yesteryear when Ömer the Tourist in Star Trek debuted. The 1973 cult comedy science-fiction starred film Sadri Alisik as a Turkish hobo who is beamed aboard the Starship Enterprise.

The film, which is the eighth and final in a series of films featuring Alisik as Ömer the Tourist, is commonly known as Turkish Star Trek because of plot and stylistic elements parodied from Star Trek: The Original Series episode The Man Trap (1966) as well as the unauthorized use of footage from the series. Although unofficial and part of another franchise, it is the first movie taking place in Star Trek universe, filmed 6 years before the official motion picture.

This movie gained fame in Turkey for the phrase “Mr. Spock has donkey’s ears,” which Ömer repeatedly says to Mr.Spock in the movie.

The film is available on YouTube – here is the first segment.

(20) THE REAL REASON THEY’RE RESHOOTING ROGUE ONE. I strongly suspect Omer the Wanderer’s screenwriter has moved on to late night TV and is working for Stephen Colbert… “The Trailer for ‘Rogue One: A Star Wars Story’ Reveals a New Character”.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Cat Eldridge, Will R., and Michael J. Walsh for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Robert Whitaker Sirignano.]

Pixel Scroll 1/7/Year of the Goat *** (I’ll Never Be Your) Star Beast of Burden

(1) DECORATOR COLOR. A petition at Change.org to designate element 117 as “Octarine” — a name taken from Terry Pratchett’s Discworld books has received over 5,500 signatures at this writing. (Via Steven H Silver and Ansible Links.)

This petition is to name element 117, recently confirmed by the International Union of Applied Chemistry, as ‘Octarine’, with the proposed symbol Oc (pronounced ‘ook’), in honour of the late Terry Pratchett and his Discworld series of books….

Octarine, in the Discworld books, is known as ‘the colour of magic’, which forms the title of Pratchett’s first ever Discworld book. According to Disc mythology, octarine is visible only to wizards and cats, and is generally described as a sort of greenish-yellow purple colour, which seems perfect for what will probably be the final halogen in the periodic table. Octarine is also a particularly pleasing choice because, not only would it honour a world-famous and much-loved author, but it also has an ‘ine’ ending, consistent with the other elements in period 17.

(2) NTA TIME. Voting for Britain’s National Television Awards is open. In the Drama category, David Tennant’s non-sf series Broadchurch is up against Peter Capaldi’s Doctor Who, as well as Downton Abbey and Casualty.

Neither Peter Capaldi or Jenna Coleman is a finalist for best actor/actress, but Tennant is.

In New Drama, sf series Humans is a nominee. Game of Thrones is a nominee in the International category.

(3) WITCH WORLD. The Andre Norton Books site announced that the Estate has entered into a deal to turn the first two Witch World novels into a movie.

The following is a statement from The Producers as of 01/05/16.

The Producers of Andre Norton’s WITCH WORLD franchise are surprised, delighted and encouraged by the interest from Andre Norton fans. The Producers are happy to announce that they have developed a new Witch World script that they are very excited about, written by award-winning screenwriters Judith and Garfield Reeves-Stevens (Janissaries, Star Trek: Enterprise). This script forms the basis of the first movie in a new film trilogy based on the classic Witch World book series by Andre. The Producers’ primary goal in working closely with the Andre Norton Estate, is to ensure that the spirit of Andre Norton is retained in its full integrity within a new, contemporary vision of a classic epic story. The process towards creating a motion picture franchise is lengthy and, in keeping with the Producers’ desire to honor Andre’s creation properly, it will be some time before a release date is announced. Nevertheless, the Producers will keep fans updated on new developments. The Andre Norton Estate thanks Andre’s fans for their incredibly positive response and is in close consultation with the Producers to ensure that Witch World will come to the big screen soon.

(4) HOW WRITERS GET PAID, PART 57. “How novelists are monetizing their short fiction through Patreon” at Medium.

If this model becomes more widespread, then it could significantly alter the cost-benefit analysis that any author applies to writing short fiction. Kameron Hurley, a speculative fiction writer who has published five novels and won two Hugo awards, is constantly inundated with requests from her fans for new short stories. “There is no money in short fiction,” she told me in a phone interview. “You’ll spend 30 or 40 hours on a short story, and you’ll get paid $200. It’s just not worth your while. People would ask me, ‘Hey Kameron, why don’t you write more short fiction?’ Well, short stories were a nice way to get my name out there in the early 2000s, but then I realized I’m getting $200 for an incredible amount of work. I started doing a lot of copywriting work, and I charge $90 an hour for copywriting. If you look at the costs and benefits, you realize writing short stories doesn’t have any financial benefit and it doesn’t make sense.”

So when Hurley launched her Patreon page in 2015, she had one goal: “My bare minimum was $500,” she said. “If I could get that much for a story, and if I could resell it as a reprint or as an original to the short fiction markets, you’re starting to make something that resembles a fair wage.”

(5) KEEP YOUR FUNNY SCIDE UP. At Amazing Stories, David Kilman completes “Scide Splitters’” look at humorous stories eligible for the 1941 Retro Hugos with the third of three installments. He provides short reviews of 23 stories (beware spoilers!) and, at the end, lists what he feels are the top contenders for a Retro Hugo.

(6) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • January 7, 1934Flash Gordon debuts as a Sunday page. Alex Raymond is the initial writer and artist. Within the years that follow Don Moore will assist in the writing chores. Jim Keefe, who was the comic’s writer/artist for years, has a great blog post with lots of art.

(7) YESTERDAY’S BIRTHDAY BOY. Is File 770 in bad odor for overlooking Pepe Le Pew’s cartoon debut on January 6, 1945?

(8) BESTSELLING ROOKIE. Seth Breidbart’s “Ludicrous fact of the year (non-politics division)”: John Sandford is eligible for the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer.

(9) MANETTI RECOMMENDED. Sue Granquist has Goth Chick News Reviews: The Box Jumper by Stoker Award Winner Lisa Mannetti, a lively entry at Black Gate.

‘Magic’ is the operative word for this moody novella. The magic of Harry Houdini serves as an overriding backdrop here, but another kind of magic permeates these pages — the magic of fine writing. Don’t expect the usual linear plot, because there is no direct narrative. Vivid dreams, surreal images, hypnotic memories, all serve to flesh out an unsettling tale that sweeps us into a new fictional dimension. — William F. Nolan, author of Logan’s Run

If those words from one of my favorite authors weren’t reason enough for me to immediately seek out The Box Jumper, then the prospect of Harry Houdini and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle together again in the golden age of 1920’s séances would certainly have done the trick.

I am surprised I didn’t hurt myself in the dash.

In her latest, engagingly disturbing novella, Bram Stoker Award Winner Lisa Mannetti transports us to the post-WW I-era where Spiritualism was one of the fastest growing religions, and tricksters knew no bounds when it came to roping in the willing, the gullible and the curious.

(10) PAT HARRINGTON OBIT. Best known as One Day at a Time’s lecherous Schneider, Pat Harrington, Jr., who died January 6, also had some genre roles.

He appeared in three episodes of The Man from U.N.C.L.E. (once as his stand-up comedy character, faux Italian immigrant Guido Panzini), and in episodes of Captain Nice, Kolchak: The Night Stalker, The Invisible Man, and The Ray Bradbury TV Theatre. He was in demand as a voice actor on Saturday morning cartoons like Journey to the Center of the Earth, and Aquaman.

He also played the narrator in the last production of Ray Bradbury’s stage play Falling Upward. Harrington was 86.

(11) SHANNARA. MTV has already aired four episodes of The Shannara Chronicles, based on the fantasy novels by Terry Brooks. I’m a wee bit behind in posting the trailer….

Coming to MTV in January 2016, ‘The Shannara Chronicles’ is a new TV series based on the best-selling fantasy novels by Terry Brooks. Set thousands of years after the destruction of our civilization, the story follows an Elven Princess, Amberle, a half-human half-elf, Wil, and a human, Eretria, as they embark on a quest to stop a Demon army from destroying the Four Lands. ‘The Shannara Chronicles’ stars Poppy Drayton, Austin Butler, Ivana Baquero, Manu Bennett and John Rhys-Davies. The series is executive produced by Jon Favreau, Al Gough, Miles Millar, Dan Farah, Jonathan Liebesman and author Terry Brooks.

 

(12) BUT THIS IS NEWS. NBC has ordered a pilot for Powerless, the first comedy from DC Entertainment according to The Hollywood Reporter.

The single-camera entry is set in the DC Comics universe that’s full of superheroes, villains and people just like us. It’s described as an office comedy about the exceedingly average employees at an insurance company and their quest to find their own power. Like all DC fare, it hails from Warner Bros. Television and will be written by Ben Queen (A to Z), with Michael Patrick Jann set to exec produce and direct the pilot.

As described by File 770 last October, the focus of the series is on the ordinary, “power-less” folk working at the insurance company who often envy the men and women outside their window who make headlines with their supernatural powers.

(13) SUMMER GLAU. Another Firefly reunion is in the works on Castle.

Summer Glau has signed on to guest-star opposite her onetime Serenity captain Nathan Fillion in a spring episode of the ABC drama, TVLine has learned exclusively.

(14) EXPISCATE! With a little imagination, the linked news video of LA trash bins being swept down the street by El Nino rainstorm looks like an invading robot army.

[Thanks to Will R., James H. Burns, Steven H Silver, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]

Flash Gordon’s Favorite Airline

By James H. Burns: If you’re the right age, there’s something absolutely magical about seeing Buster Crabbe in this airline commercial featuring FLASH GORDON, from somewhere between 1973 ~1975. This was clearly meant as a national spot, but no one I know ever saw it! It’s also amazing to realize that Crabbe is wearing the costume from the Captain Marvel serial!  

Buster Crabbe also appeared in a spot endorsing Rainier Beer – “Fresh Gordon” in 1978.

Classic Flash Gordon Rocket For Sale

Flash Gordon rocketAn aluminum rocket ship model originally seen in Just Imagine (1930) and later featured in three Flash Gordon serials is being offered on eBay for $250,000.  

Universal markThis original miniature was used by Fox Films and Universal Pictures in the 1930’s. The model was swung through the air and brought to life with sparklers, smoke and added sound effects! It features a heavy, aluminum body and a door that folds down into stairs. It is clearly stamped “UNIVERSAL MOVING PICTURES” and “PROPERTY OF FOX FILMS CORPORATION 249”.

The model is 18 inches long, and has a 8-1/4 inch wingspan. It can be taken apart into two sections, as shown in the photos.