Pixel Scroll 3/17/19 To Say Nothing Of The Cat

(1) DANK DAIRY. Nature gets into the spirit of St. Patrick’s Day in its own idiocyncratic way with publication of this research: “Four millennia of dairy surplus and deposition revealed through compound-specific stable isotope analysis and radiocarbon dating of Irish bog butters”.

Bog butters are large, white to yellow waxy deposits regularly recovered from the peat bogs of Ireland and Scotland, often found in wooden containers or wrapped in bark or animal membranes (Fig. 1). With recorded weights of up to 23?kg (and several examples that may be larger), bog butters were first documented in the 17th century; the total number recovered to date may approach 500 specimens1,2. Published radiocarbon determinations on Irish bog butters show activity spanning the Iron Age to the post-medieval period3,4 with folk accounts indicating survival into the 19th century5,6. While the reasons behind their deposition continue to be debated1,2, the remarkable preservative properties of peat bogs are well known7 and several post-medieval accounts mention the practice of storing butter in bogs to be consumed at a later date, whether by necessity or as a delicacy8,9,10. Early medieval Irish law tracts list butter as one of the products payable as food rents11, which may have needed to be stockpiled or stored. Parallels have also been drawn with the widespread deposition of metal and other objects in wetlands during the Bronze Age and Iron Age, often assumed to be votive or ritual acts….

(2) CLOSE GUESSES. The New York Times Book Review has two articles on world-building in speculative fiction this week:

“Ours is a world of laws—and given available evidence, so are all other worlds.

As they build their wild what ifs, the authors of speculative fiction draft legislation: They draw up regulations and establish cabinet agencies and sub-agencies, often employing a diction eerily reminiscent of real-life government and politics—the eeriness being very much the point.”

Maybe because we’re living in a dystopia, it feels as if we’ve become obsessed with prophecy as of late. Protest signs at the 2017 Women’s March read “Make Margaret Atwood Fiction Again!” and “Octavia Warned Us”…

In “The Dreams Our Stuff Is Made Of: How Science Fiction Conquered The World,” Thomas Disch calls this relay between fiction and reality “creative visualization.”

(3) FIRE IN THE WHOLE. Steven Zeitchik says in the Washington Post that tensions are rising between the Writers Guild of America (East) & Writers Guild of America (West) and the Association of Talent Agents because the writers think the agents are forming production companies and not being fair to the writers.  He says if the agents and writers don’t negotiate a new “artists manager basic agreement” about fee sharing by April 6, the result could be a mass firing by the 20,000 WGA members of their agents. “Hollywood agents and writers meet, but impasse remains”.

…The writers say they do not wish to renew the franchise agreement without significant revisions. They want new units that the agencies created to function as production companies to instead be formally carved out as separate entities. At present those units exist more as extensions of the agencies, which the writers say ups the possibility for conflicts of interest.

The also want to overhaul the main ways agents collect money on writers’ work. At the moment those revenue are dominated not by standard commissions from clients but by packaging fees, in which studios pay the agents for putting together the creative elements of a show. Those fees, the writers say, encourage agents to act against their own clients’ interests and also allow them to dip into a pool of revenue that should go to creators.

The agencies, particularly the Big Four — CAA, WME, UTA and ICM — that are leading the fight, say that the writers are working under false assumptions. Packaging fees and new entities offer riches to both parties, they say, especially as the media companies with which they are negotiating are growing larger and more vertical.

(4) FOR MEMORY CARE. The GoFundMe for Gahan Wilson has raised $52,175 of its $100,000 goal in the first 14 days. More than a thousand people have donated.

(5) NOT SAFE FOR WHATEVER. [Item by Dann.] Netflix recently released their series of sci-fi/fantasy/horror animated short files under the title Love, Death + Robots.  The collection features 10-20 minute long films based on genre stories.  Original story authors include John Scalzi, Marko Kloos, Joe Lansdale, and Ken Liu.

The collection is billed as an “NSFW anthology”.  It generally lives up to that appellation.  The films range from mildly questionable language to full-on body dismemberment to sexually explicit content (voluntary and otherwise).  The use of felines periodically borders on being questionable.

Tim Miller, director of Deadpool, leads the effort.  He is also an executive producer.  Miller and David Fincher have been credited with developing the anthology as a sort of modern version of Heavy Metal magazine.

The collection is part of Netflix’s effort to create unique content.  Many recently released titles feature genre based stories.  Not unlike Amazon’s influence on the increasing number of sub-novel length works, might this development be a signal of technology changing markets to allow a range of video productions other than long format movies or shorter format TV series?

Is there a Hugo worthy animated short in this anthology?  Only people living in 2020 know for certain.

(6) RYAN OBIT. In “Tom K. Ryan, R.I.P.”, Mark Evanier pays tribute to the Tumbleweeds cartoonist who died on March 7.

Cartoonist Tom K. Ryan, who gave us the syndicated strip Tumbleweeds has passed at the age of 92…actually, about 92.8. His popular western-themed comic made its debut in September of 1965 and lasted until the end of 2007 when Ryan decided he was getting too old to continue it. A run of 42+ years is pretty impressive in any industry. Like most cartoonists, Ryan was aided by occasional assistants, one of whom — a fellow named Jim Davis — did okay for himself when he struck out on his own and created Garfield.

(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born March 17, 1846 Kate Greenaway. Victorian artist and writer, largely known today for her children’s book illustrations. So popular was she and her work that the very popular Kate Greenaway Almanacks appeared every year from 1883 to 1895. Among her best-known works was her edition of Robert Browning’s The Pied Piper of Hamelin, Rosa Mulholland’s Puck and Blossom and Bret Harte’s Pirate Isle. (Died 1901.)
  • Born March 17, 1906 Brigitte Helm. German actress, Metropolis. Her first role a an actress, she played two roles, Maria and her double, the Maschinenmensch. Oddly enough I’ve not seen it, so do render your opinions on it please. She’s got some other genre credits including L’Atlantide (The Mistress of Atlantis) and Alraune (Unholy Love). Her later films would be strictly in keeping with the policies of the Nazis with all films being fiercely anti-capitalist and  in particular attacking Jewish financial speculators. (Died 1996.)
  • Born March 17, 1945 Tania Lemani, 74. She played Kara in the Trek episode “Wolf in the Fold”. She first met Shatner when she was offered her a role in the pilot for Alexander the Great, starring him in the title role (although the pilot failed to be picked up as a series). She had parts in The Man from U.N.C.L.E., The Bionic Woman and she shows up in the fanfic video Star Trek: Of Gods and Men. I assume as Kara, though IMDb lists her as herself. 
  • Born March 17, 1947 James K. Morrow, 72. I’m very fond of the Godhead trilogy in which God is Dead and very, very present. Shambling Towards Hiroshima is a lot of satisfying satirical fun as is The Madonna and the Starship which is also is a wonderful homage to pulp writers.
  • Born March 17, 1948 William Gibson, 71. I’ve read the Sprawl trilogy more times than I can remember and likewise the Bridge trilogy and The Difference Engine. The works I struggled with are Pattern Recognition, Spook Country and Zero History. I’ve tried all of them, none were appealing. Eh? 
  • Born March 17, 1949 Patrick Duffy, 70. Surely you’ve seen him on Man from Atlantis? No?  Oh, you missed a strange, short-lived show. His other genre credits are a delightfully mixed bag of such things as voicing a Goat on Alice in Wonderland, appearing on The Secret Adventures of Jules Verne as Duke Angelo Rimini  in the “Rockets of the Dead” episode and voicing  Steve Trevor in the incredibly excellent “The Savage Time” three-parter on Justice League. 
  • Born March 17, 1951 Kurt Russell, 68. I know I saw Escape from New York on a rainy summer night in a now century-old Art Deco theatre which wasn’t the one I later saw Blade Runner in. I think it’s much better than Escape from L.A. was. Of course there’s Big Trouble in Little China, my favorite film with him in it. And let’s not forget Tombstone. Not genre, you say. Maybe not, but it’s damn good. 
  • Born March 17, 1958 Christian Clemenson, 61. Though I’m reasonably sure his first genre appearance was on the Beauty and The Beast series, his first memorable appearance was on the BtVS episode “Bad Girls” as a obscenely obese demon named Balthazar. Lots of practical effects were used. His other significant genre role was on The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr. as fish way out of the water Eastern lawyer Socrates Poole. And yes, I loved that series! 
  • Born March 17, 1962 Clare Grogan, 57. On the Red Dwarf series as the first incarnation of Kristine Kochanski. Anyone here watch it? One truly weird series!  She really doesn’t have much of any acting career and her genre career is quite short otherwise, a stint in an episode on Sea of Souls, a Scots ghost chasing series, is it. 

(8) COMICS SECTION.

  • Tom the Dancing Bug finds humor in explaining why some time travelers hold no terrors for Americans of the 1950s.

(9) FRANSON AWARDS. National Fantasy Fan Federation (N3F) President George Phillies has picked three recipients for this year’s Franson Awards, named for the late Donald Franson, and given as a show of appreciation:

As your President, it is my privilege and honor to bestow the N3F President’s Award on our three art-ists, who have been doing so much to beautify our N3F zines. Please join me in thanking Angela K Scott, Jose Sanchez, and Cedar Sanderson for what they have done for our Federation.

(10) BEEP BEEP. MovieWeb is there when “Revenge of the Sith Deleted Scene of Anakin Speaking Droid Goes Viral”.

An old deleted scene from Revenge of the Sith where Anakin speaks droid has started to gain popularity online. Some Star Wars fans are having a hard time believing that the scene is real, which makes sense in an age where deleted scenes are practically a thing of the past. Over the years, the prequels have been looked at in a better light by a younger generation that grew up with those three installments being the first Star Wars movies that they saw.

…While it is a bit of a silly scene, it does probably point Obi-Wan in the direction to learn droid. In A New Hope, he can understand R2D2, so the scene could have served a purpose had it been left in. But it’s a little on the silly side because these are powerful Jedi that we’re talking about here. They should, at the very least, know how to talk to a droid before levitating rocks and using Jedi mind tricks. Whatever the case may be, the scene was left on the cutting room floor and thrown on the DVD.

(11) NOW, VOYAGER. Slate tells why “It Was a Big Week in Politics for Star Trek: Voyager Fans”.

When it comes to ‘90s-era Star Trek series, Voyager doesn’t always get its due, maybe because it couldn’t quite live up to the high standard set by The Next Generation or because it lacked the gravitas and daring of Deep Space Nine. (Or maybe it’s just because we’re all trying to avoid thinking too hard about the events of “Threshold.”) Still, Voyager stayed true to Star Trek’s overarching spirit of exploration and cooperation, forcing two very different groups of people to work together to survive and testing the characters’ utopian ideals by stranding them far from the safety of the Federation. Plus, the series was the first in the franchise to be led by a female captain, Kathryn Janeway, played by the dynamic Kate Mulgrew.

The show’s lasting influence can be felt in two stories from this week about prominent Democratic politicians, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Stacey Abrams, both of whom are fans of Voyager and, in particular, its lead character. The first surprise nod to Trek in the political sphere came from the Daily Mail’s unexpectedly wholesome interview with Blanca Ocasio-Cortez, who described how Voyager became a portent of her daughter’s future success.

[…] The other Voyager shoutout appeared in the New York Times on Thursday in a story with the headline “Stacey Abrams, Star Trek Nerd, Is Traveling at Warp Speed.” In quotes from a previously unpublished interview from last summer, the former Georgia gubernatorial candidate says that while The Next Generation is her favorite series, she “reveres Admiral Janeway.” She also shows off her good taste in Trek by picking a Voyager episode, “Shattered,” as a favorite. […]

(12) A LORD AND LADY. PopSugar already knows our answer is “Yes!” — “Tell Me Something, Droid . . . Are You Ready For a Star Wars “Shallow” Parody?”

A Star Wars Is Born . . . How did I not see this coming? The Star Wars and A Star Is Born universes finally collided to pay tribute to two fan-favorite ships in a Nerdist parody music video. If Ally and Jackson were transported to a galaxy far, far, away, perhaps their version of “Shallow” would’ve ended up a little like Kylo Ren and Rey’s. 

(13) HARLEY QUINN. SYFY Wire eavesdrops as “Kaley Cuoco shares new glimpse of Harley Quinn animated series”.

When DC first announced its new service, it treated fans with an influx of announcements. Not only would they be able to stream classics like Batman: The Animated Series, but they received a plethora of original programming. […] Coming soon to the network will be Harley Quinn, an animated series featuring the voices of Kaley Cuoco (The Big Bang Theory) as Harley and Alan Tudyk (Firefly) as the Joker

Other than the trailer released at NYCC, we’ve haven’t seen much else in regard to everyone’s favorite psychopath with a heart of gold. That is until Cuoco took to Instagram and posted some shots from her voice sessions.

(14) ORCISH LAWYERS. “Fearing a trademark lawsuit, Bucksport’s ‘Hobbit Hill’ farm agrees to change name” – the Bangor Daily News has the story.

When Kevin and Mandy Wheaton opened their farm off Ledgewood Drive last April, they couldn’t see anybody having a problem with the name they gave it:

Hobbit Hill Homestead.

“I thought a Hobbit was a small, woodland creature with giant hairy feet, and they were fun-loving and liked to smoke their little pipes,” Mandy Wheaton said, “like a gnome or a leprechaun.”

Well, it turns out that somebody did have a problem with the Wheatons using the name Hobbit — Middle-earth Enterprises.

That’s the California company that owns worldwide rights to trademarked terms within British author J.R.R. Tolkien’s fantasy world, including “The Lord of the Rings” and “The Hobbit.” It’s an arm of The Saul Zaentz Co., which produced the animated 1978 “Lord of the Rings” film.

(15) NO BADGES HERE. Not even B. Traven could save this issue? Galactic Journey’s Gideon Marcus pans the latest (in 1964) issue of F&SF, which includes a story by the writer:“[March 17, 1964] It’s all Downhill(April 1964 Fantasy and Science Fiction)”. (Traven wrote the novel that The Treasure of the Sierra Madre is based on.)

A friend of mine inquired about an obscure science fiction story the other day.  She expressed surprise that I had, in fact, read it, and wondered what my criteria were for choosing my reading material.  I had to explain that I didn’t have any: I read everything published as science fiction and/or fantasy. 

My friend found this refrain from judgment admirable.  I think it’s just a form of insanity, particularly as it subjects me to frequent painful slogs.  For instance, this month’s Fantasy and Science Fiction continues the magazine’s (occasionally abated) slide into the kaka.  With the exception of a couple of pieces, it’s bad.  Beyond bad — dull….

FLING THAT THING. Comic Books vs The World calls them “giant death frisbees” in “Every MCU Captain America Shield Explained.”

He may not have been in action in the Marvel Cinematic Universe all that much, but Captain America’s had a bunch of different shields over the years. Let’s look over the timeline of the MCU and see what all he’s used so far!

[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, Chip Hitchcock, Martin Morse Wooster, Rob Thornton, John King Tarpinian, JJ, Mike Kennedy, Carl Slaughter, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern, who just saw Captain Marvel.]

Pixel Scroll 3/3/19 My File Went So Pix’ly, I Went Lickety-Split, Scrollin’ My Old ‘55

(1) NAME THAT ROCK. In the Washington Post, Sarah Kaplan profiles the “byzantine and marvelously nerdy naming guidelines” of the International Astronomical Union (“The bizarre and brilliant rules for naming new stuff in space”). Among them:  the mountains and plains of Titan have to be named according to references in Dune or Lord of the Rings, Names for asteroids have relatively few rules, but one of them is not to name an asteroid after your cat, as James Gibson found out when he named an asteroid after his cat, Mr. Spock, and was told that while his asteroid remains “2309 Mr. Spock,” he really shouldn’t do it twice.

[Names for the moons of Jupter] must come from a character in Greek or Roman mythology who was either a descendant or lover of the god known as Zeus (in Greek) or Jupiter (Latin). It must be 16 characters or fewer, preferably one word. It can’t be offensive, too commercial, or closely tied to any political, military or religious activities of the past 100 years. It can’t belong to a living person and can’t be too similar to the name of any existing moons or asteroids. If the moon in question is prograde (it circles in the same direction as its planet rotates) the name must end in an “a.” If it is retrograde (circling in the opposite direction), the name must end in an “e.”

(2) TEMPORARILY CUTE. Sooner or later they’re going to need a new naming convention for these things (Popular Science: “FarFarOut dethrones FarOut for farthest object in the solar system”).

Most people don’t kill time by finding the most distant object ever discovered in the solar system, but most people aren’t Scott Sheppard.

Last week, the Carnegie Institution for Science astronomer announced he had just discovered an object that sits about 140 astronomical units away. One AU equals the 93 million miles between Earth and the sun, so that means this object is 140 times the distance of Earth from the sun, or 3.5 times farther away than Pluto.

This is just a mere couple months after he and his team discovered 2018 VG18, nicknamed “Farout,” which sits 120 AU away, and for a brief moment was the farthest known object in the solar system. Sheppard and his team have already given a pretty apt tongue-in-cheek nickname to the usurper: “FarFarOut.”

(3) SAN DIEGO 2049 SPEAKER SERIES. Annalee Newitz, author of Autonomous and co-founder, io9, will give a talk “San Diego 2049: Your Dystopia Has Been Canceled” on April 4 at UCSD. Free and open to the public; RSVP required.

Realistic worldbuilding requires that we get out of the dystopia/utopia binary and imagine futures that are a diverse mix of worlds. To imagine a plausible future world, we need to look critically at our own history, where progress is uneven and resistance is not futile. Annalee Newitz, journalist, co-founder of the website io9, and author of the acclaimed science fiction novel Autonomous joins us to share her insights into worldbuilding as part of the San Diego 2049 series of programs.

(4) SALAM AWARD JUDGES. The 2019 jury for the Salam Award will be Jeffrey Ford, Mary Anne Mohanraj, Maha Khan Phillips, John Joseph Adams, and Saba Sulaiman. The award promotes imaginative fiction in Pakistan. (Via Locus Online.)

Last year’s winner was Akbar Shahzad for his story Influence

(5) HUGO PICKS. Abigail Nussbaum comments on 20 stories that either made her ballot, or came close, in “The 2019 Hugo Awards: My Hugo Ballot, Short Fiction Categories” at Asking the Wrong Question.

From what I’ve seen–and the effects of the last decade in the genre short fiction scene have been to render it even more diffuse than it already was, so I really can’t say that I’ve had a comprehensive view–2018 was a strong year for SF short fiction, with venues including Strange Horizons, Lightspeed, and Uncanny delivering strong slates of stories.  I was interested to observe how easy it is to discern an editorial voice, and a preoccupation with certain topics, when reading through a magazine’s yearly output.  Uncanny, for example, had a strong focus on disabled protagonists in 2018, with stories that often turn on their struggles to achieve necessary accommodation, with which they can participate and contribute to society.

One topic that I expected to see a great deal more of in my reading was climate change.  Only a few of the pieces I’ve highlighted here turn on this increasingly important topic, and very few stories I read dealt with it even obliquely.  Given how much climate change has been in the public conversation recently (and not a moment too soon) it’s possible that next year’s award nominees will deal with it more strongly, but I was a bit disappointed not to see SF writers and editors placing an emphasis on it already.

(6) WOULD YOU LIKE TO PLAY A GAME? This Kickstarter will fund a table top game, “Necronomicon by Abdul Alhazred with Cthulhu pawns & Idol”.

The Necronomicon is undoubtedly the most emblematic book in the mythology of H.P. Lovecraft. In this game you will assume the role of Abdul Alhazred with the aim of completing all sections of the aberrant book. It is a game for 2 to 4 players with game modes for 20 or 60 minutes.

(7) PLAYING IN THE FIELDS OF D.C. John Kelly in the Washington Post went on the press tour for Tom Clancy’s The Division 2, a Ubisoft video game in which Washington, wiped out by a pandemic, has turned the National Air and Space Museum into an armory and the Lincoln Memorial into a graffiti-covered headquarters for paramilitary groups. (“A new video game invites players to wallow in a dystopian Washington”.)  But Ubisoft couldn’t use the World War II Memorial for copyright reasons and decided not to have shooters blast away at the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial because “the gamemakers thought it would be disrespectful to have players shooting at each other around the statue of the famous pacifist.”

The game is set in the months after a deadly pandemic has swept the country and transformed the area around the Tidal Basin into a flooded wasteland, the National Air and Space Museum into a heavily guarded armory and the Lincoln Memorial into the smoke-blackened, kudzu-shrouded headquarters of a paramilitary group.

On the plus side, rush hour traffic is pretty light.

The challenge facing anyone designing a video game set in an actual place is making it realistic. The purpose of this junket — events were spread over two days, with a shuttle bus squiring the group from site to site — was to explain that process.

(8) COSPLAY IN CLEVELAND. The Cleveland Plain Dealer) highlighted cosplay in an article about an upcoming convention: “Wizard World shines light on cosplay and the art of transforming (photos)”.

Four years ago, Stephanie Lauren looked into a painting and had an epiphany… “I could do this.”

No, she wasn’t imagining herself as a painter. She already was one, and the painting she was looking at was hers – a colorful portrait of a cute, furry kitty cat.

Rather, she started to imagine herself as one of her works come to life – a character, an expression of childhood and innocence. A new reality, purely of her own making. 

Stitch by stitch, using cloth and Ethylene-vinyl acetate foam and beads, a cosplay character was born…. 

(9) WYNDHAM MEMORIAL. Triffid Alley is a website intended to become a memorial to the author John Wyndham, author of Day of the Triffids, who died in 1969.

It takes its name from Triffid Alley in Hampstead, London, which is the only known existing memorial to John Wyndham in the United Kingdom.

The website reports there will be a 50th Anniversary Commemoration of Wyndham’s death in London on March 11.

It will consist of a talk by David Ketterer and Ken Smith on Wyndham and the Penn Club where he lived from 1924 to 1943 and from 1946 to 1963 followed by drinks and food at a pub on the nearby Store Street, a street which figures on page 98 of the Penguin edition of The Day of the Triffids.

David Ketterer has more or less completed a full scale critical biography entitled TROUBLE WITH TRIFFIDS: THE LIFE AND FICTION OF JOHN WYNDHAM…

Anyone who is interested is invited to gather outside the Penn Club at 21-23 Bedford Place, London W.C.1 (near the British Museum) at 6.00 pm on Monday, 11 March 2019.  We shall move to seating in the Penn Club lounge around 6.15 pm for the talk and questions.  Around 7.00 pm we shall walk to The College Arms at 18 Store Street (near Senate House).

(10) HUGH LAMB OBIT. British anthologist Hugh Lamb, editor of many paperback collections of vintage horror, died March 2. His son, Richard, tells more in a “Tribute to My Father”.

On the night of 2nd March 2019, Hugh Lamb passed away. He died peacefully, in his sleep, after a long illness that had left him frail and weak. At the end he chose to move on, rather than suffer long months of treatment with no guarantees. We, his family, chose to honour his wishes and were with him at the end.

Hugh Lamb was, to many, one of the country’s foremost authorities on Victorian supernatural literature and a respected anthologist of those stories. To me, however, he was just dad. Certainly, I inherited a great love of ghost stories, as well as the cinema of the macabre, from my father. We would recommend movies to each other and enjoy critiquing them. As a child I used to thrill at tales of the supernatural, both real and fictional, all because of my father’s influence. When I wrote a series of screenplays, two of which were optioned by producers, they were all either ghost stories or stories with a supernatural flavour. And when one of my screenplays won the 2008 Rocliffe/BAFTA New Writers award, it was my father who positively glowed with pride. The screenplay was a father and son story, and he recognised himself in the pages with a mischievous delight.

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born March 3, 1863 Arthur Machen. His novella “The Great God Pan” published in 1890 has garnered a reputation as a classic of horror, with Stephen King describing it as “Maybe the best horror story in the English language.” His The Three Impostors; or, The Transmutations 1895 novel is considered a precursor to Lovecraft and was reprinted in paperback by Ballantine Books in the Seventies. (Died 1947.)
  • Born March 3, 1920 James Doohan. Montgomery “Scotty” Scott on Trek of course. His first genre appearance was in Outer Limits as Police Lt. Branch followed by being a SDI Agent at Gas Station in The Satan Bug film before getting the Trek gig. He filmed a Man from U.N.C.L.E.film, One of Our Spies Is Missing, in which in played Phillip Bainbridge, during 5he first season of Trek.  Doohan did nothing of genre nature post-Trek. (Died 2005.)
  • Born March 3, 1945 George Miller, 74. Best known for his Mad Max franchise, The Road WarriorMad Max 2Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome andFury Road.  He also directed The Nightmare at 20,000 Feet segment of the Twilight Zone film, The Witches of Eastwick, Babe and 40,000 Years of Dreaming
  • Born March 3, 1948 Max Collins, 71. Best known for writing the Dick Tracy comic strip from 1977 to 1993 giving The it a SF flavor. He also did a lot of writing in various media series such as Dark Angel, The Mummy, Waterworld, The War of The Worlds and Batman.  
  • Born March 3, 1955 Gregory Feeley, 64. Reviewer and essayist who Clute says of that “Sometimes adversarial, unfailingly intelligent, they represent a cold-eyed view of a genre he loves by a critic immersed in its material.” Writer of two SF novels, The Oxygen Barons and Arabian Wine, plus the Kentauros essay and novella.
  • Born March 3, 1970 John Carter Cash, 49. He is the only child of Johnny Cash and June Carter Cash. To date, he’s written two fantasies, Lupus Rex which oddly enough despite the title concerns a murder of crows selecting their new leader, and a children’s book, The Cat in the Rhinestone Suit, which I think Seuss would be grin at. 
  • Born March 3, 1982 Jessica Biel, 37. A number of interesting genre films including The Texas Chainsaw MassacreBlade: Trinity, StealthThe Illusionist, the remake of Total Recall which I confess I’ve not seen, and the animated Spark: A Space Tail.

(12) COMICS SECTION.

  • Rich Horton, quite rightly, calls this a “very Eganesque” Dilbert.

(13) VARIANT COVERS. Brian Hibbs in his Tilting at Windmills column for Comics Beat “Heroes in (Sales) Crisis” says variant covers are helping to break the market:

Again, the new Marvel catalog leads with a mini-series called “War of the Realms” that has seventeen different covers attached to it. For one single issue worth of release. Even if you try to “ignore variants” they take up catalog and “eye” space, they increase the amount of time it takes to order (let alone find) the comics you want to stock; they also consume distributor resources, ultimately increasing overages, shortages and damages, hurting everyone as a result.

The January 2019 order form features 1106 solicited periodical comic books. Of those, only 454 of those SKUs are new items – the other 652 are variant covers. That means a staggering fifty-nine percent of all solicited comics are actually variants. That’s completely and entirely absurd! It is deluded, it is dangerous, and it actively works against the best interests of the market.

(14) RUH-ROH! The former last man on Earth is among those getting animated (The Hollywood Reporter: “Will Forte, Gina Rodriguez and Tracy Morgan to Star in Animated Scooby-Doo Movie (Exclusive)“).

Last Man on Earth star Will Forte voicing Shaggy, Jane the Virgin star Gina Rodriguez [Velma], Tracy Morgan [Captain Caveman] and Frank Welker [Scooby-Doo] are going for a ride in the Mystery Machine.

The actors have closed deals to voice star in the untitled Scooby-Doo animated movie being made by Warner Bros. and its Warner Animation Group division.

Tony Cervone is directing the feature, which counts Chris Columbus, Charles Roven and Allison Abbate [as] producers.

[…] The story sees the Mystery Inc. gang join forces with other heroes of the Hanna-Barbera universe to save the world from Dick Dastardly and his evil plans…and this time, we are told, the threat is real. The movie is slated for a May 2020 release.

(15) WHERE NO WOMAN HAS GONE BEFORE. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] Sure, some Star Trek projects—going back to Next Gen—have been directed by a woman; but none have taken the helm for the first episode in a series. And certainly no woman of color has been the leadoff batter. Until now. Deadline has the story—”‘Star Trek’: Hanelle Culpepper Will Direct Picard Pilot, First Woman To Launch Starfleet Series“.

Star Trek is boldly going on a new mission where only men have gone before. Hanelle Culpepper will direct the first two episodes of the upcoming untitled Star Trek Jean-Luc Picard series, making her the first woman to direct a pilot or debut episode of a Starfleet series in the franchise’s 53-year history. All 13 feature films in the Trek universe have also been directed by men.

Culpepper has directed two episodes of Star Trek Discovery on CBS All-Access. She helmed the episode titled Vaulting Ambition in Season One as well as an upcoming episode in Season Two, now underway on the subscription streaming site.

Culpepper’s other genre credits include various episodes of CounterpartSupergirlThe CrossingThe FlashLuciferGothamGrimm, and Sleepy Hollow.

(16) THE LOST CAUSE. Yudhanjaya Wijeratne’s post “’Incidentally, there is support for Wijeratne’s story’: a response to file770 and a record of the Nebula Award madness” has attracted notice and comments from people who assume after his experience he should to be ready to lend a sympathetic ear to their propaganda justifying past awards slates.

There’s a comment signed Francis T., which judging from the Gravatar is the Francis Turner who in 2006 tried to convince people not only to vote Baen the Best Editor (Long Form) Hugo the following year but to visualize “A Baen Sweep of the Hugos”.

Also, Sad Puppies 3 leader Brad Torgersen left a lengthy comment touting himself as the hero of an ahistorical version of 2015’s events.

On Torgersen’s own blog he’s worked hard to couch the immediate controversy in cleverly Orwellian terms: “When the Inner and Outer Parties of SFWA attack”.

…Try as they will to style themselves international, the Inner and Outer Party members of American literary SF/F are hopelessly provincial, sharing a painful overlap in ideology, as well as a kind of homogeneous, mushy globalist-liberal outlook. Which, being “woke”, puts a premium on demographics over individualism. Fetishizing ethnicities and sexualities. While remaining borderline-militant about a single-track monorchrome political platform.

So, certain Inner and Outer Party folks proceeded to step all over their own unmentionables in an effort to “call out” the “slate” of the indie Proles from the dirty ghettos of indie publishing. And now the Inner and Outer Parties are in damage control mode (yet again!) trying to re-write events, submerge evidence, gaslight the actual victims of the literary pogrom, blame all evils on Emmanuel Goldstein (cough, Sad Puppies, cough) and crown themselves the Good People once more. Who would never, of course, do anything pernicious, because how could they? They are Good! They tell themselves they are Good all the time! They go out of their way to virtue-signal this Goodness on social media! It cannot be possible that they have done anything wrong!

Rabid Puppies packmaster Vox Day not only reprinted Torgersen’s post at Vox Popoli (“Puppies redux: Nebula edition” [Internet Archive link]), he appropriated to himself others’ credit for indie authors being in SFWA:  

It was funny to read this in my inbox, as it was the first time I’ve had any reason to give a thought to SFWA in a long, long time. Possibly the most amusing thing about this latest SFWA kerfluffle is that it is a direct consequence of SFWA adopting my original campaign proposal to admit independent authors to the membership. Sad Puppy leader Brad Torgersen observes, with no little irony, the 2019 version of Sad Puppies…

(17) DIAL 451. The New Indian Express’ Gautam Chintamani uses a famous Bradbury novel as the starting point to comment on news coverage of the recent Pakistan-India incident in “White Noise”.

Bradbury wrote Fahrenheit 451 as a commentary on how mass media reduces interest in reading literature but considering the times we live in, it is doing more than that. Following the February 14 Jaish-e-Mohammed fidayeen attack on a CRPF convoy in Pulwama that left 44 Indian soldiers dead, most television news channels bayed for blood. There is no denying that the national emotions were running high and it was only natural for citizens of a nation that have been at the receiving end of a proxy war conducted by a neighbour that as a national policy believes in causing loss of life in India to ask for a befitting reply. Yet the fashion in which many news anchors assumed the mantle of judge, jury, and executioner was nothing less than appalling. The constant white noise emanating from most news debates, where everyone was urged to shout louder than the next person, offers a greater emotional bounty to the one who would teach Pakistan a lesson and this showed a committed effort from media to not allow the average citizen a moment to think. 

(18) GAHAN WILSON FUNDRAISER. A GoFundMe to “Help Gahan Wilson find his way” wants to raise $100,000 for the artist’s care. Neil Gaiman gave $1,000. Other donors include artist Charles Vess, editor Ellen Dtalow, and Andrew Porter.

Gahan Wilson is suffering from Dementia

Gahan is suffering from severe dementia. We have helped him through the stages of the disease and he is currently not doing very well.

His wife, Nancy Winters, just passed away

My mother, and his wife of fifty three years, Nancy Winters, passed away on March 2, 2019. She was his rock. His guide through the world. While we all helped with his care, it was my mother who grounded him. He is currently distraught and out of sorts with the world.

Memory care is needed immediately

Gahan and my mother had been residing in an assisted living facility in Arizona. With my mother’s passing, the facility is about to discharge him. We must find him a memory care facility immediately.

… Memory care is wildly expensive. More so than assisted living. If we could cover the cost ourselves, we would. We can’t, and Gahan and my mother did not save for anything like this. We are asking his fans to help us, help Gahan.

(19) CANADA SIGNS ON. Another international partner lends NASA a hand, well, a robotic arm, anyway: “Gateway Moon station: Canada joins Nasa space project”.

Canada will contribute US$1.4bn to a proposed Nasa space station that will orbit the Moon and act as a base to land astronauts on its surface.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the step would “push the boundaries of innovation”.

The space station, called Gateway, is a key element in Nasa’s plan to return to the Moon with humans in the 2020s.

As part of the 24-year commitment, Canada will build a next-generation robotic arm for the new lunar outpost.

“Canada is going to the Moon,” Mr Trudeau told a news conference at Canadian Space Agency’s headquarters near Montreal, according to AFP.

Nasa plans to build the small space station in lunar orbit by 2026. Astronauts will journey back and forth between Gateway and the lunar surface. It will also act as a habitat for conducting science experiments.

(20) SURE OBI-WAN, POINT-OF-VIEW BLAH BLAH BLAH. Gizmodo/io9 says that, “From a Certain Angle, It Looks Like the Dark Phoenix Trailer Takes a Subtle Jab at the Marvel Cinematic Universe.” Um, how is it, again, that you change your viewing angle for a non 3-D movie trailer? Oh, I see what you mean…

new Dark Phoenix trailer dropped in the dead of night this week and gave us another look at how Sophie Turner’s Jean Grey will transform into her darkest, most cosmically-empowered self on the big screen for the second time in the character’s cinematic history. But a fan also spotted something peculiar…

[…] At one point in the trailer, all of the film’s mutants (save for Jean) are being transported by armed officers on what appears to be an armored tank. Wired UK writer Matt Kamen spotted three very familiar letters on their uniforms. If you look closely they read “MCU” which, as Kamen pointed out, could stand for “mutant containment unit.” But it could also be a clever nod to the Marvel Cinematic Universe and Disney’s recent acquisition of 20th Century Fox and the cinematic rights to the X-Men.

(21)  JAVA. Mashable’s post “Pierce Brosnan drinking a latte of his own face is extremely good” identifies him with James Bond, but he also has the lead in The King’s Daughter, based on Vonda McIntyre’s The Moon and the Sun, which is still awaiting its U.S. release (IMDB says sometime in 2019).

(22) VIDEO OF THE DAY. In “Motion Makes a Masochist” on Vimeo, Dev warns that if you want to be a motion designer for movies, you should be prepared to suffer a lot for your art.

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

Call for New World Fantasy Award Design

The World Fantasy Convention has invited artists to submit designs for a new World Fantasy Award that will replace the traditional Lovecraft bust. The new design will not represent any historic or living person.

The Administration has decided that it is time to change the trophy for the World Fantasy Awards. We appreciate Gahan Wilson’s design in use for more than four decades and his contributions to the World Fantasy Convention and the Awards.

Between now and April 2, 2016 the World Fantasy Awards Administration will welcome submissions from artists within the arts community proficient in the three-dimensional form, for a new physical trophy for the World Fantasy Award. The ideal design will represent both fantasy and horror, without bearing any physical resemblance to any person, living or dead.

Interested artists should send inquiries to the WFA administration at: worldfantasyawarddesign@gmail.com.

Gahan Wilson Documentary at Music Hall 11/22

gahan wilson documentaryGahan Wilson: Born Dead, Still Weird, an award-winning documentary about the cartoonist noted for mingling horror with humor, opens at Laemmle’s Music Hall in Beverly Hills on November 22.

Chosen as Best Documentary at the San Diego Comic-Con Independent Film Festival and designated a Critic’s Pick by Daniel M. Gold of the New York Times, the film traces the 83-year-old Wilson’s inspirations, the inner workings of the cartoon world, and the legion of fans who love his quirky creations – including a long list of celebrities who appear on camera: Stephen Colbert, Bill Maher, Randy Newman, Guillermo Del Toro, Neil Gaiman, Stan Lee, Roz Chast, Lewis Black, Hugh M. Hefner, David Remnick, Peter Straub, and Nicholas Meyer.

 Gold’s review begins with examples of Wilson’s unforgettable images —

Escalators that eat people; a human sacrifice amid backyard barbeques. In any pantheon of cartoonists, Gahan Wilson and his uniquely mordant sense of humor fit somewhere between Charles Addams and Gary Larson. Armed with a perverse comedic view of the monsters behind every corner and an illustration style that hits with the thwack of a nightmare, Mr. Wilson has been reassuring his readers for more than 50 years that things really are as bad as they seem, probably worse.

Steven-Charles Jaffe tells why he made the movie in a self-interview on the film’s website.

I was ten years old when I saw my first Gahan Wilson cartoon. It rocked my pre-pubescent brain. It was eye candy for the demented. I became obsessed with his cartoons; the lurid colors, the dark and twisted point of view, and the asymmetrical way he drew people and the world they inhabited. I had no idea who this Wilson fellow was, or how to pronounce his first name, but I felt I had discovered a kindred spirit. Over the years, my love of Gahan’s work only increased.

After becoming a producer, I was obsessed with trying to meet the mysterious cartoonist to see if there was some way of bringing his work to the big screen. I finally met Gahan Wilson and we struck up a friendship that continues to this day. After seeing the documentary on cartoonist Robert Crumb, I decided I had to make a documentary about Gahan so that the rest of the world would realize what a national treasure and a truly inspiring artist he is.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian for the story.]