Pixel Scroll 5/18/20 “Look, Gracious Host! A Scroll In A Pixel!” “Fan Mail From Some Filer?”

(1) MISKATONIC SCHOLARSHIP. Scott Gray is the 2020 winner of George R. R. Martin’s Miskatonic Scholarship, which supports a promising new writer of Lovecraftian cosmic horror attending the Odyssey Writing Workshop.

As a boy, Martin came across his first story by H. P. Lovecraft. He says, “I had never read a story that scared me more . . . so of course I sought out more Lovecraft wherever I could find it.” Martin’s love of weird fiction grew, and he found that “No werewolf, no vampire, no thing going bump in the night could give me chills to equal those provided by the cosmic horrors that Lovecraft evoked.”

With the annual Miskatonic Scholarship, Martin hopes to provide “encouragement and inspiration to a new generation of writers.” And to one special scholarship candidate, Martin wants to offer the opportunity to learn and improve at the Odyssey Writing Workshop, one of the top programs in the world for writers of the fantastic. The scholarship covers full tuition and housing at the workshop.

Scott Gray lives in New Hampshire.

…He developed a love of stories as a young boy, especially those that transported him to other worlds.

…Jeanne Cavelos, one of the scholarship judges and director of the Odyssey Writing Workshops Charitable Trust, says, “The other judges and I loved the unique way that Scott’s story brought heart and a deep sense of humanity to this tale of cosmic horror. It evoked not only fear but also hope and joy.”

Click here to read about the other scholarship winners: “Special Announcement: 2020 Odyssey Writing Workshop Scholarship Winners”.

(2) FEELING DISCONNECTED. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] Michael Cavna has a piece in the Washington Post about how comedians miss people getting together in groups and laughing.  Among the people Cavna talks to are Pixar head Pete Docter, who says that Soul is being edited in hundreds of homes of Pixar employees, and Patton Oswalt, who says that when he performs, “each crowd is its own separate sentient living thing” and without an audience, “you lose a check-in with humanity.  You lose a reminder that ‘OK, I’m connected with the planet–I’m connected with the present.” “Without movie theaters, we’re missing communal laughter: ‘You lose a check-in with humanity’’.

…Docter, the chief creative officer of Pixar, says that early filmmakers, in both animation and live-action, understood how their movies were made to be seen with an audience.

“Strange pauses and gaps in Bugs Bunny cartoons suddenly made sense when I saw them with a live audience — those blank areas were filled with audience laughter,” Docter says while self-quarantining in his Bay Area home. “The same was true of Laurel and Hardy and [Buster] Keaton films — they were timed to allow space for the audience to respond.”

(3) STILL IN THE WORKS. Locus Online adds items to its post about COVID-19 cancellations every few days. Locus Award Weekend, on the calendar for next month, has not been cancelled as of today’s update.

Locus Awards Weekend, June 26-28, 2020 in Seattle WA

We are keeping a close eye on the COVID-19 status, and will be diligent about canceling as needed. At this time it seems likely we will not have a physical event, but we are exploring virtual alternatives. We are in a holding pattern and have suspended general ticket sales.

(4) DISNEY WORLD MEETS FLORIDA MAN. Really, you’d think it would have happened before now. From behind a paywall at The Week:

A Florida man has been caught trying to self-isolate on a private island in Disney World.  Richard McGuire, 42, insisted that he hadn’t seen the numerous ‘no trespassing signs’ on the island, or heard the loudspeaker warnings from Disney officials who became aware of his presence.  He claimed to be ‘unaware’ of the police helicopter that hovered overhead because he was asleep on an abandoned building on Discovery Island.  When he was arrested, McGuire told police it felt as if he’d discovered a ‘tropical paradise.’

(5) CLOCKING IN. In “Here’s How Time Works Now” at McSweeney’s, Eli Grober has the 411 about the changing nature of time. For example —

A Day

You may remember that a day used to take place over the course of 24 hours. We felt this was too much. A day is now over the moment you first ask yourself, “What time is it?”

It does not matter what time it actually is when you do this. As soon as you ask or think, “What time is it” for the first time that day, even if it is still ten in the morning, it will suddenly be eight at night. Does that make sense?

(6) THROUGH THE LOOKING GLASS. And it feels appropriate to follow with The Lewis Carroll Society of North America’s post “If you knew Time …”, a collection of links to resources about the author.

“Either the well was very deep, or she fell very slowly, for she had plenty of time as she went down to look about her, and to wonder what was going to happen next.”

For so many of us, this topsy-turvy world of shelter-in-place has left us with time on our hands. Our president, Linda Cassady, has some suggestions for some fine online Carrollian resources. And who knows? You might discover some unknown or little-known item or a fresh perspective that we can tell the world about!

(7) TAKE THE CHALLENGE. “Antidepressants or Tolkien”— it’s a quiz. The Filer who sent the link says, “It’s more difficult than you would expect.”  I racked up a score of 17/24.

(8) A PIONEER. In this video the late D.C. Fontana being interviewed by Rob Word from the A Word On Westerns podcast.  Her comments are mostly regarding the shows for which she wrote episodes and bounced from westerns to sci-fi and back.

(9) ALIENATED ABDUCTION. The Hollywood Reporter thought he mght have something to say: “Bill Pullman Responds to Donald Trump’s Altered ‘Independence Day’ Clip”.

President Donald Trump on Saturday shared a heavily altered video clip from the 1996 film Independence Day in which it appears that he gives the iconic speech from the President of the United States. 

Not only is Trump superimposed, but so are others in the crowd, including Ted Cruz and Donald Trump, Jr., as well as Fox News’ personalities Tucker Carlson and Sean Hannity.

As of 8:30 p.m., the president’s post had been retweeted 50,000 times and had more than 153,000 “likes.”

Actor Bill Pullman, who played President Thomas J. Whitmore in Independence Day, was among those who saw the clip. And he responded.

“My voice belongs to no one but me, and I’m not running for president — this year,” Pullman told The Hollywood Reporter

(10) TODAY IN HISTORY.

  • May 18, 1962They make a fairly convincing pitch here. It doesn’t seem possible, though, to find a woman who must be ten times better than mother in order to seem half as good, except, of course, in the Twilight Zone. — Intro narration. On this date The Twilight Zone aired “I Sing The Body Electric,” an episode based on a story by Ray Bradbury. Although Bradbury contributed several scripts to the series, this was the only one produced. The script was written by Bradbury himself. An large ensemble cast was needed, hence Josephine Hutchinson, David White, Vaughn Taylor, Doris Packer, Veronica Cartwright, Susan Crane and Charles Herbert all being performers.  This was the year that the entire season of the series won Best Dramatic Presentation at Chicon III.  

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz. Typoed by Mike Glyer.]

  • Born May 16, 1918 Sam Dann. Scriptwriter who wrote 311 episodes of the CBS Radio Mystery Theater between 1974 and 1982. The show despite its name broadcast a lot of horror and science fiction stories as well. Much of his work was adaptations such as A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court and Murder on the Space Shuttle (Holmes meets Rogers!), the SF content was largely his. (Died 2004.) (CE)
  • Born May 18, 1919 – Margot Fonteyn.  Dame Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire; named prima ballerina assoluta of the Royal Ballet by Elizabeth II.  Danced many fantasies e.g. The FirebirdGiselleRaymondaSwan Lake.  (Died 1991) [JH]
  • Born May 16, 1930 Fred Saberhagen. I’m reasonably sure I’ve read the entirety of his Berserker series though not in the order they were intended to be read. Some are outstanding, some less so. I’d recommend Berserker Man, Shiva in Steel and the original Berserker collection. Of his Dracula sequence, the only one I think I read is The Holmes-Dracula File which is superb. And I know I’ve read most of the Swords tales as they came out. (Died 2007.) (CE)
  • Born May 18, 1931 – Don Martin.  Album covers for Prestige Records (Miles Davis, Art Farmer, Stan Getz).  A cover and thirty interiors for Galaxy.  Mad’s Maddest Artist, of hinged feet, onomatopoeia – his car license plate was SHTOINK – and National Gorilla Suit Day.  Fourteen collections.  Ignatz Award, Nat’l Cartoonists Society’s Special Features Award, Will Eisner Hall of Fame.  (Died 2000) [JH]
  • Born May 18, 1948 – R-Laurraine Tutihasi.  Active in fanzines, the N3F (Nat’l Fantasy Fan Fed’n; won its Kaymar and Franson awards), and otherwise.  Loccer (“loc” also “LoC” = letter of comment, the blood of fanzines) at least as far back as Algol and The Diversifier, also JanusTightbeamBroken Toys.  Her own fanzine is Purrsonal Mewsings.  [JH]
  • Born May 16, 1952 Diane Duane, 68. She’s known for the Young Wizards YA series though I’d like to single her out for her lesser known Feline Wizards series where SJW creds maintain the gates that wizards use for travel throughout the multiverse. A most wonderful thing for felines to do! (CE)
  • Born May 16, 1958 Jonathan Maberry, 62. The only thing I’ve read by him is the first five novels in the Joe Ledger Series which has a high body count and an even higher improbability index. Popcorn reading with Sriracha sauce. I see that he’s done scripts for Dark Horse, IDW and Marvel early on. And that he’s responsible for Captain America: Hail Hydra which I remember as quite excellent. (CE)
  • Born May 16, 1958 Toyah Willcox, 62. English actress who’s done quite a bit of genre work starting with being in The Quatermass Conclusion as Sal and then again in the Quatermass series. She shows up on Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde as Janet, and as Dog in the superb Ink Thief series. She plays Dialta Downes in Tomorrow Calling based off Gibson’s “The Gernsback Continuum“ with the screenplay by Tim Leandro. (CE)
  • Born May 18, 1959 – Debbie Dadey.  A hundred sixty books, of which six dozen are (with Marcia Jones) short Bailey School Kids, also Ghostville ElementaryThe Keyholders.  Int’l Reading Ass’n Children’s Choice, Young Adults’ Choice awards; ABC Best Book for Children; Sunshine State Young Reader’s Awards.  [JH]
  • Born May 18, 1959 – Sophie Masson.  Member of the Order of Australia.  Forty novels, twenty shorter stories.  Aurealis Award for The Hand of Glory.  [JH]
  • Born May 17, 1963 – Greg Beatty.  Ph.D. in English.  Rhysling Award.  Stories, poems, articles, essays, reviews, interviews, in Abyss & ApexAeonAsimov’sAudiofileHeliosIndependent ScholarInternet Review of SFN.Y. Review of SFPhilological QuarterlySF StudiesStarlineStrange HorizonsTangent Online.  Children’s picture books too.  [JH] 

(12) COMICS SECTION.

(13) WRAPPED UP. She-Ra Said Gay Rights! A Spoiler-Filled Chat with Creator Noelle Stevenson on the Final Season” at Paste Magazine.

…With the rainbow-solid queer credentials brought to the table by creator Noelle Stevenson (LumberjanesNimonaThe Fire Never Goes Out) and her team, and with the equally sparkling queer representation present in the series from the very beginning (Bow’s nerdy dads, thirtysomething Princess couple Spinerella and Netossa, Scorpia’s whole Scorpianess), fans needn’t have worried that their favorite friends-to-enemies lesbian ‘ship would right itself in the end. Still, when the frenemies’ long-awaited admission of love gave Adora enough strength to stop that apocalyptic countdown in the final minutes of “Heart Part 2,” you could almost feel the internet breathe a collective sigh of relieved joy.

(14) LOVE THAT DIRTY WATER. “Mud flows on Red Planet behave like ‘boiling toothpaste”. There’s an analogy for you – if you’re lucky, you’ve never experienced this at home or have any idea what that looks like.

Scientists have made a surprising discovery about Mars by playing with muck in the laboratory.

An international team of researchers wondered how volcanoes that spew mud instead of molten rock might look on the Red Planet compared with their counterparts here on Earth.

In chamber experiments, simulated Martian mud flows were seen to behave a bit like boiling toothpaste.

Under certain conditions, the fluid even began to bounce.

The mucky gunge resembled a certain type of lava referred to as “pahoehoe”, which is observed at Hawaii’s famous K?lauea volcano.

The research results could now complicate some investigations at the Red Planet, believes study lead Dr Petr Brož from the Czech Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Geophysics.

“You’ll look at some features [from space] and you won’t know for sure whether they are the result of lava flows or mud flows.

“Without a geologist on the ground to hit them with a hammer, it will be hard to tell,” he told BBC News.

(15) I WALK TO THE TREES. BBC invites you to “Meet the baby orangutans learning to climb trees”.

While much of the world is in lockdown, youngsters in one very unusual classroom are still having lessons.

At a forest school in Borneo, baby orangutans learn tree-climbing skills from their human surrogate parents.

The orphans spend 12 hours a day in the forest, preparing for a new life in the wild.

The orangutans were filmed and photographed before coronavirus struck, for the TV series Primates, on BBC One.

With human contact routinely kept to a minimum, life goes on much as before for the animals, says Dr Signe Preuschoft, leader of ape programmes for the charity Four Paws, which runs the rehabilitation centre in East Kalimantan.

As a precaution, the staff now have temperature checks, wear facemasks and change into uniforms on site.

…The young orphaned apes climb high into the treetops with their caregivers to help them acquire the skills they would have learned from their mothers in the wild.

They would otherwise spend more time on the ground than is natural for a species that feeds, lives and sleeps in the canopies of trees.

Baby orangutans have a huge advantage when it comes to climbing, as they can hold on “like an octopus”, says Dr Preuschoft.

“I think the orangutans were really completely thrilled when they realised that they could actually be in a canopy together with one of their moms,” she adds.

(16) VACCINE NEWS. “Coronavirus vaccine: First evidence jab can train immune system”.

The first hints that a vaccine can train people’s immune system to fight coronavirus have been reported by a company in the US.

Moderna said neutralising antibodies were found in the first eight people who took part in their safety trials.

It also said the immune response was similar to people infected with the actual virus.

Larger trials to see whether the jab actually protects against infection are expected to start in July.

Work on a coronavirus vaccine has been taking place at unprecedented speed, with around 80 groups around the world working on them.

Moderna was the first to test an experimental vaccine, called mRNA-1273, in people.

The vaccine is a small snippet of the coronavirus’s genetic code, which is injected into the patient.

It is not capable of causing an infection or the symptoms of Covid-19, but is enough to provoke a response from the immune system.

(17) THEY NEEDED TO PULL THE PLUG. BBC reports “Europe’s supercomputers hijacked by attackers for crypto mining”.

At least a dozen supercomputers across Europe have shut down after cyber-attacks tried to take control of them.

A pan-European supercomputing group says they seem to have tried to use the machines to mine cryptocurrency.

“A security exploitation” disabled access to the Archer supercomputer, at the University of Edinburgh, on 11 May.

Staff said they were working with the National Cyber Security Centre to restore the system, which had recently installed a pandemic modelling tool.

“We now believe this to be a major issue across the academic community as several computers have been compromised in the UK and elsewhere in Europe,” the team said.

(18) VIDEO OF THE DAY. “At Home With Roz Chast” on Vimeo is a portrait of the New Yorker cartoonist.

[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, N., Martin Morse Wooster, John King Tarpinian, John Hertz, Andrew Porter, Lise Andreasen, Olav Rokne, Dann, Michael Toman, JJ, and Chip Hitchcock for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Jeff Smith.]

Pixel Scroll 4/15/20 The Scroll Won’t Roll Because The Mxyzptlks Took The Pxl-Klickms

(1) IMAGINARY PAPERS. The second issue of Imaginary Papers, a quarterly newsletter on science fiction worldbuilding, futures thinking, and imagination from the Center for Science and the Imagination, features writing from SF author Indrapramit Das and ecologist Jessie Rack. Here is a direct link. Also, you can also use this link to subscribe for future issues.

(2) MORE BRAM STOKER PLANS. The Horror Writers Association will stream the Bram Stoker Awards ceremony on HWA’s YouTube channel on April 18. Prior to the Awards, see some of the nominees read from their works.

Here’s the schedule so far (times are PST):
BLOCK 1 (5 p.m.):
Gemma Amor (First Novel) reading from Dear Laura
Eric J. Guignard (First Novel) reading from Doorways to the Deadeye

BLOCK 2 (5:15 p.m.):
Peter Adam Salomon (Young Adult Novel) reading from Eight Minutes, Thirty-Two Seconds
Kate Jonez (Fiction Collection) reading from Lady Bits

BLOCK 3 (5:30 p.m.):
Greg Chapman (Short Fiction) reading from “The Book of Last Words”
Gwendolyn Kiste (Short Fiction) reading from “The Eight People Who Murdered Me (Excerpt from Lucy Westenra’s Diary)”
John Kachuba (Nonfiction) reading from Shapeshifters: A History

BLOCK 4 (5:45 p.m.):
Eric J. Guignard (Anthology) reading from Pop the Clutch: Thrilling Tales of Rockabilly, Monsters, and Hot Rod Horror
Colleen Doran (Graphic Novel) reading from Neil Gaiman’s Snow, Glass, Apples

(3) DATLOW ON YOUTUBE. Dacre Stoker interviews Ellen Datlow, Editor of Echoes: The Saga Anthology of Ghost Stories, which made it on to the HWA Final Ballot for the 2020 Stoker Awards. Video hosted on the Horror Writers Association YouTube channel.

Other Stoker finalists interviewed on the HWA YouTube channel include Including Kaaron Warren, Greg Chapman, Caitlin Starling, John Langan, Kelly Robinson, and Tim Waggoner.

The website for StokerCon™ 2021 Denver is up and running! Click here to check it out.

(4) BUHLERT IN THE PAPER. Cora Buhlert says, “The local paper [Weser Kurier] did a profile about me, because I’m a Hugo finalist and those are thin on the ground in Germany, let alone in my area (Simone Heller and Marko Kloos are both from other parts of Germany).” It’s in German — “Wie eine Seckenhauserin den wichtigsten Science-Fiction-Preis abräumen könnte”. Here’s an excerpt rendered in English by Google Translate: 

…She is also one of the authors of the international blog Galactic Journey, which has also been nominated for the Hugo Award this year.

The clocks tick a little differently on the platform, strictly speaking 55 years before our time. Galactic Journey picks up on the events of the time – also with reference to the home of the authors. Cora Buhlert mentions, for example, that Werder Bremen just became German soccer champion in 1965. Science fiction does not always have to be geared towards the future: “Time travel has always been part of it,” says Buhlert.

Cora adds, “The other local paper (I live in the overlap area of the coverage of two newspapers) is also going to do an interview.”

(5) IN THE ZON. John Scalzi wrote a post about how his newly released book The Last Emperox ranked in various Amazon marketing categories – which is very well.

This elicited a comment from Rick Hellewell (a name I recognize from Jerry Pournelle’s blog) about a very interesting tool he’s put online, which is free to use. He explained:

If you want to look at the sales ranking, and see the ranking of all the Zon categories (you can have up to 10), try out my BKLNK site. This link https://www.bklnk.com/categories5.php will allow you get the info by using the ASIN or ISBN-10 numbers.

I built the BKLNK site for UBLs that can have Affiliate links for the proper Zon store automatically, then added the CATFIND (category finder) to see all the categories assigned to my books. Although the Zon allows you to have up to 10 categories (by special requires), you can’t see all 10 categories on the book’s product page. The CATFIND tool lets you see all categories (and sales rank) assigned to a book.

I’m in the middle of adding a new feature (called ‘Catalize’) that will grab the categories used by the top 25 books in a genre. I see that as a great marketing tool for indie publishers, as the authors can see the best categories they might use for their books. (You can look at any book with each tool.) The new ‘Catalize’ tool will be available by the end of the week.

Anyway, the entire site is free to use, and might be helpful to other authors. I built it for my own needs, but it has become useful for others.

Just as a test I plugged in the ID number for a Terry Pratchett novel – and that search returned all kinds of interesting information.

(6) BOOK TRADE SHOWS CANCELLED. The inevitable has finally occurred: “BookExpo, BookCon 2020 Events Canceled” reports Publishers Weekly.

After initially postponing BookExpo and BookCon 2020 from their original May 27–31 dates to July 22-26, Reedpop has canceled both events. The cancellation is the latest in a string of them affecting the biggest conferences and fairs in the book business worldwide, including the London Book Fair, the Bologna Children’s Book Fair (which is planning a virtual fair beginning May 4), and the ALA annual meeting and conference.

(7) AUSTRALIAN SFF AND FANHISTORY. Past Aussie Worldcon chairs David Grigg and Perry Middlemiss have been doing the Two Chairs Talking podcast for almost a year now. In Episode 24, Perry and David, and special guests W. H. Chong and Paul Carr, talk about what it was that drew them into reading science fiction and fantasy in the first place: “Kings of Infinite Space”.

In another recent episode they interviewed Carey Handfield, Bruce Gillespie and Rob Gerrand about their experience running the publishing house Norstrilia Press in the 1970s and 80s, concentrating on science fiction and science fiction criticism. They boosted the careers of Greg Egan and Gerald Murnane among others. That’s here: Episode 22: “The best publishing house in Old North Australia”. (There’s also a history of Norstrilia Press in the fanzine SF Commentary, available here.)

(8) BAD NEWS ON THE DOORSTEP. Newsweek has the“‘Ministry For The Future’ Cover Reveal: New Kim Stanley Robinson Set In ‘Blackest Utopia’ — Our Next 30 Years”. Click through for the cover.

Science fiction author Kim Stanley Robinson builds intricate future societies in many of his books, exploring how we might emerge from the depravities of our current era to create a better future for our species. But in his upcoming novel, The Ministry for the Future, Robinson isn’t visiting a half-sunk New York City a hundred years from now (New York 2140), tracking Martian terraforming over a century (the Mars trilogy) or following artists as they build sculptures on 24th century Mercury (2312). Instead, The Ministry for the Future follows more immediate possible futures, as humanity is confronted with a global warming mass extinction event.

“In The Ministry for the Future I tried to describe the next thirty years going as well as I could believe it might happen, given where we are now,” Robinson told Newsweek. “That made it one of the blackest utopias ever written, I suppose, because it seems inevitable that we are in for an era of comprehensive and chaotic change.”

(9) PIP BAKER OBIT. Doctor Who writer Pip Baker (1928-2020) has died at the age of 91. Doctor Who News paid tribute:

Pip Baker, along with his wife and writing partner Jane, was one of the best-known writers from the mid 80’s era of Doctor Who, writing eleven episodes for the series. Together they created the Rani, a female Time Lord scientist who was brought to life so vividly by the late Kate O’Mara, as well a creating the companion Mel.

Pip and Jane Baker began writing together in the 1960s working on the films The Painted Smile, The Break, The Night of the Big Heat and Captain Nemo and the Underwater City. On Television, they worked on the children’s thriller Circus as well as episodes of Z-Cars and Space 1999….

(10) TODAY IN HISTORY.

  • April 15, 1944 The Monster Maker (originally titled The Devil’s Apprentice) premiered. It was directed by Sam Newfield and produced from a script written by Sigmund Neufeld, Lawrence Williams, Pierre Gendron and Martin Mooney. It starred J. Carrol Naish, Talla Birell, Wanda McKay and Ralph Morgan. It was largely ignored by critics at the time and it currently holds an extremely low three percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes among audience reviewers. You can see it here.
  • April 15, 1960 Teenage Zombies premiered. It was written and directed by Jerry Warren and starring Katherine Victor, Don Sullivan, Chuck Niles, and Warren’s then-wife and the film production manager Brianne Murphy. Warren wrote the screenplay under his pen name Jacques Lecoutier. It was on a double bill with The Incredible Petrified World. Interestingly enough, although the film’s credits include a 1957 copyright statement for G.B.M. Productions, the film was never registered for copyright, so it’s in the public domain. And that means you can watch it here.

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born April 15, 1922 Michael Ansara. Commander Kang in Trek’s “The Day of The Dove” as well as a lot of other genre work including a recurring role as Kane on Buck Rogers in the 25th Century, multiple roles on I Dream of Jeannie andmyriad voicings of Victor Fries / Mr. Freeze in the Batman series. (Died 2013.)
  • Born April 15, 1933 Elizabeth Montgomery. She’s best remembered as Samantha Stephens on Bewitched. Other genre roles included being Lili in One Step Beyond’s “The Death Waltz” which you can watch here. She also had one-offs in The Twilight Zone, Alfred Hitchcock Presents, and voicing a Barmaid in the “Showdown” in Batman: The Animated Series. (Died 1995.)
  • Born April 15, 1937 Thomas F. Sutton. Comic book artist who’s best known for his contributions to Marvel Comics and  Warren Publishing’s line of black-and-white horror magazines. He’s particularly known as the first artist of the Vampirella series. He illustrated “Vampirella of Draculona”, the first story of which was written by Forrest J Ackerman. (Died 2002.)
  • Born April 15, 1941 Mal Dean. UK illustrator who, as Clute at EoSF notes, died tragically young of cancer. As Clute goes on, he is “best known for the work he did for New Worlds in the late 1960s and early 1970s; it was especially associated with the Jerry Cornelius stories by Michael Moorcock and others.” (Died 1974.)
  • Born April 15, 1949 Sharan Newman, 71. Author of the most excellent Guinevere trilogy (GuinevereChessboard Queen and Guinevere Evermore), a superb reinterpretation of the Arthurian saga. They’re available at the usual digital suspects as is her superb Catherine LeVendeur medieval mystery series. Alas her SF short stories are not. 
  • Born April 15, 1974 Jim C. Hines, 46. [Entry by Paul Weimer.] Writer, and blogger. Jim C. Hines’ first published novel was Goblin Quest, the tale of a nearsighted goblin runt and his pet fire-spider. Jim went on to write the Princess series, four books often described as a blend of Grimm’s Fairy Tales with Charlie’s Angels. He’s also the author of the Magic ex Libris books, my personal favorite, which follow the adventures of a magic-wielding librarian from the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, who happens to have the same pet fire-spider lifted from the Goblin novels as his best friend. He’s currently writing his first foray into science fiction novels, the Janitors of the Post-Apocalypse series. Jim’s novels usually have the fun and humor dials set on medium to high. Jim is also an active blogger on a variety of topics and won the Hugo Award for Best Fan Writer in 2012.
  • Born April 15, 1990 Emma Watson, 30. Hermione Granger in the Harry Potter film franchise which lasted an entire decade. She was Belle in Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, and the voice of Prince Pea in The Tale of Despereaux. 
  • Born April 15, 1997 Maisie Williams, 23. She made her professional acting debut as Arya Stark of Winterfell in Game of Thrones. She was Ashildr, a Viking woman of unique skills,  the principal character of “The Girl Who Died”, during the time of Twelfth Doctor. She is set to star as Wolfsbane in the forthcoming Marvel film New Mutants, due for release sometime this year provided the Plague doesn’t further delay it. 

(12) COMICS SECTION.

(13) FREE FROM AUDIBLE. Free stories for kids of all ages. Audible Stories  is a free website where kids of all ages can listen to hundreds of Audible audio titles across six different languages—English, Spanish, French, German, Italian and Japanese. From classics to Harry Potter and other YA.

For as long as schools are closed, we’re open. Right now, kids everywhere can instantly stream an incredible collection of stories, including titles across six different languages, that will help them continue dreaming, learning, and just being kids.

All stories are free to stream on your desktop, laptop, phone or tablet.

Explore the collection, select a title and start listening.

It’s that easy.

(14) NEEDS A BETTER LAWYER. Heinlein proved “Jerry Is A Man” but “Bronx Zoo’s Happy the Elephant is not legally ‘a person,’ judge rules”.

Elephants are NOT people, too.

That was the determination of a judge who ruled that Happy the Elephant can’t be sprung from the Bronx Zoo because she’s not legally “a person,” it was revealed Wednesday.

Bronx Supreme Court Judge Alison Tuitt dismissed the NonHuman Rights Project’s petition to grant the 48-year-old pachyderm “legal personhood” in order to move her to a 2,300-acre sanctuary….

(15) POWERFUL MUTANT. “Scientists create mutant enzyme that recycles plastic bottles in hours”The Guardian has the story.

A mutant bacterial enzyme that breaks down plastic bottles for recycling in hours has been created by scientists.

The enzyme, originally discovered in a compost heap of leaves, reduced the bottles to chemical building blocks that were then used to make high-quality new bottles. Existing recycling technologies usually produce plastic only good enough for clothing and carpets.

The company behind the breakthrough, Carbios, said it was aiming for industrial-scale recycling within five years. It has partnered with major companies including Pepsi and L’Oréal to accelerate development. Independent experts called the new enzyme a major advance.

Billions of tonnes of plastic waste have polluted the planet, from the Arctic to the deepest ocean trench, and pose a particular risk to sea life. Campaigners say reducing the use of plastic is key, but the company said the strong, lightweight material was very useful and that true recycling was part of the solution.

The new enzyme was revealed in research published on Wednesday in the journal Nature. The work began with the screening of 100,000 micro-organisms for promising candidates, including the leaf compost bug, which was first discovered in 2012.

(16) BUS ROUTE 9¾. “Harry Potter buses used as free NHS transport”

Harry Potter-branded buses normally used to take fans to film studio tours are being offered as free transport for staff working in the NHS.

The buses will take them between three sites in Hertfordshire, and will have on-board social distancing rules.

Warner Bros and coach company Golden Tours have had to cancel all trips to the Leavesden studios where much of the Harry Potter filming took place.

The NHS said the move was a “wizard idea”.

“Our workforce has been depleted due to sickness or self-isolation and so it’s really important that those staff who are well, but have transport issues, can come back,” Paul da Gama, from the West Herts Hospitals NHS Trust, said.

(17) CAT IS OUT OF THE BAG. BBC reports “JK Rowling secretly buys childhood home”.

Harry Potter author JK Rowling has secretly bought her childhood home in Gloucestershire.

Renovation work is now taking place on Church Cottage in Tutshill, close to the banks of the River Severn.

The author lived there between the ages of nine and 18 and in 2011 bought the cottage through a property company in her married name.

She paid about £400,000 for the house, which is said to have inspired key elements of the young wizard’s story.

Land Registry records show in September 2011, Edinburgh-based Caernarfon Lettings Ltd, which lists the author’s husband Neil Murray as a director, bought Church Cottage.

The property was sold by BBC producer Julian Mercer, who himself had bought it off the Rowling family in 1995.

(18) ASTRAL METEOROLOGY. The BBC’s weather department reports that “The planets line up”. (“When the Moon is in the seventh house, and Jupiter collides with Mars, then pieces of the planets will fly off into the stars…”)

You might get the chance to see something special in the sky in the early hours of Thursday morning.

Around pre-dawn or dawn, if you look towards the Moon from your garden or window, you may notice three other bright dots. These dots are actually Jupiter, Saturn and Mars.

Jupiter will be the brightest of the planets, as it shines 14 times brighter than Saturn or Mars. However the three planets will line up together just above the Moon and you should be able to see them all, even with the naked eye. While Jupiter will be the brightest, you may notice Mars with an orange glow and Saturn with a golden tinge. If you’ve got a telescope or even binoculars, you’ll be able to see the difference in the planets more clearly.

(19) LASHING OUT. On yesterday’s Daily Show (or as they’re calling it right now the Daily Social Distancing Show), host Trevor Noah listed a bunch of things Trump has promised to deliver, then said, “At this point Trump owes more pages than George R.R. Martin.” He continued on the Martin theme for the next several sentences. Hey, it’s not fair to build up a head of steam talking about Trump and then vent it on GRRM! (Begins around 9:25.)

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

Pixel Scroll 4/10/20 A Tribble Standing On Top Of A Roomba Isn’t Meaningfully Taller Than A Tribble Laying On The Floor

(1) LIBERTYCON CANCELLED. The Chattanooga, Tennessee convention has been called off for this year. They announced on their website:

Sadly, we recieved the news from the convention center that we will be unable to have LibertyCon this year.

Brandy, LC Chairman, posted a video on Facebook explaining the situation and the sad message we have to give you all. It can be seen by clicking on this link.

LibertyCon 33 will be held June 25-27, 2021

(2) SAVE THE INDIES. George R.R. Martin’s Jean Cocteau Cinema tells how to buy a ticket to a virtual showing of Extra Ordinary to support them

The staff of the Jean Cocteau Cinema would like to thank you for your support during the COVID-19 crisis. Your participation in this and other virtual screenings gives us an invaluable revenue stream to help us stay afloat until the quarantine is over and in-person screenings can resume. We owe everything to you, our patrons, and we look forward to the return of normalcy and to continuing to provide a cozy community-focused local cinema and performance space to Santa Feans for years to come! Stay safe, stay sane, and above all be excellent to each other!

(3) NASA AT WORK. Are your SJW Credentials in on this conspiracy?

(4) MEANWHILE, BACK AT BAIKONUR. Then there’s the cosmonaut program. An Ars Technica writer declares, “I was bored, so I watched the movie that astronauts must view before launch”.

…This Soviet-era building in Baikonur, Kazakhstan, is where astronauts spend their final days before launching into space on board the Russian Soyuz vehicle. Cassidy’s crew is due to launch on Thursday afternoon, at 1:05pm local time. (This is 4:05am ET Thursday, and 8:05am UTC.) They will spend about six hours catching up to and docking with the International Space Station.

The Russians have the oldest space program in the world and by far the most traditions and superstitions related to launch, including peeing on the wheel of the bus that takes the crew to the launch pad—a tradition that dates back to Yuri Gagarin’s first human spaceflight in 1961.

Among those traditions is watching a movie the day before launch in the Cosmonaut Hotel. It’s always the same movie, White Sun of the Desert. No one is quite sure why this Soviet-era film, which came out in 1970, is always watched (yes, it’s mandatory). But it likely dates to Soyuz 12, in 1973, when cosmonauts Vasily Lazarev and Oleg Makarov watched the movie before their mission. This return-to-flight mission followed the disastrous Soyuz 11 flight two years earlier, when the spacecraft depressurized as the crew prepared to reenter Earth’s atmosphere, killing all three men. Soyuz 12 proved a success, and the movie came to be seen as a good luck charm. Since then, over the course of five decades, the Soyuz has never lost a crew….

(5) TENTACLE TIME. Camestros Felapton presents “The Being Not Human Awards” – a highly amusing ceremony.

… I’d like to discuss with you all what it is to be you. Now I must apologise in advance. There are many you in the audience, people I love dearly, who may take offence at what I am going to say next. Yes, yes, I am looking at you Mr Spock and yes, you C3PO and there’s no point waving that screwdriver at me Doctor, nor hiding behind Gimli’s axe Legolas. I love you all but I’m sorry, this really is not about you. Yes each of you is distinctly not human in deep and notable ways as explained in great detail in the backstory section of your Wikipedia pages. However, for our purposes tonight while you may be the big stars, this is not your turn in the spotlight. We love you but we love you because you have to admit that your are not exactly not-human….

(6) INTERVIEWED IN ISOLATION. Scott Edelman invites listeners to shelter in place as he answers the questions in Episode 113 of the Eating the Fantastic podcast.

Scott Edelman

It’s been exactly one month since I joined Michael Dirda for lunch to record an episode of Eating the Fantastic, and the way things are going in this age of social distancing, it will likely be many more months before I’ll be able to sit down at a restaurant with a guest to record another. The three episodes I’d planned to harvest for you during the final days of March all had to be cancelled. So what’s a podcast predicated on breaking bread to do when bread can no longer be broken?

What it means for this episode is that it’s time for the interviewer to become the interviewee, as you join me for lunch in my kitchen while I continue to shelter in place. Last episode, I asked listeners to send in questions for things which might not have been revealed about my life as a writer, editor, publisher, podcaster, and fan during the previous 118 episodes. I also reached out to my former guests to see if they’d like to turn the tables and ask questions instead of just answering them.

I ended up with 93 questions, which I knew was far more than I’d be able to answer in a single episode. But I printed them, folded them up, tossed them inside the head of a Roswell alien, and then pulled them out randomly one at a time and tried to answer as many as I could over the course of my meal.

(7) HELP IS ON THE WAY FOR UK WRITERS. “ALCS Offers Additional Financial Support To Writers Through The Society Of Authors’ Emergency Fund”.

ALCS – alongside the Royal Literary Fund, TS Eliot Foundation, English PEN, Amazon UK and, as of 7 April, Arts Council England – has contributed to the Society of Authors’ fund that will be paid out in grants to writers who have found themselves financially affected by the current COVID-19 outbreak.

ALCS is a collecting society set up by writers, for writers. Paying money to writers through licensing when their works have been used is at the core of what we do. Later this week, we will pay £24 million to over 89,000 writers – and since 1977 we’ve paid over £500 million to writers – but these are difficult and unique times, so we wanted to see what else we could do to support all writers….

Applicants do not need to be ALCS or SoA members; the fund is open to all professional authors who are resident in the UK or British subjects for whom author-related activity makes up a substantial amount of their annual income. The SoA have run this fund since 1960, so they have a great deal of experience in assessing applications and their approach is broad, agile and fast; aiming to turn around applications within weeks.

(8) DO YOU KNOW YOUR WHO? RadioTimes reports “Doctor Who fans plan massive virtual pub quiz over Easter Weekend”.

Now, though, they can finally engage in every Doctor Who fan’s favourite activity – proving how much arcane trivia they know – because long-running real-life pub quiz The Quiz of Rassilon (which has hosted Doctor Who trivia nights since 2010) has announced that it’ll be hosting an online version of the event over the Easter Weekend.

“The Quiz has always been a place where fans from all corners of the fandom can come together for a bit of fun and to talk about their favourite show,” Quiz of Rassilon co-creator Michael Williams told RadioTimes.com.

… During the quiz itself most participants (who are expected to number in the hundreds) will have their microphones muted in the main hosting room, with each team given their own “private TARDIS” (in other words a separate videocall meeting) where they can confer, chat and screen share, before they’re pulled back to the main call after a few minutes.

“We’ve designed this Quiz using Zoom’s ‘breakout rooms’ feature which gives teams the opportunity to have their usual table at the Pub where they can discuss between themselves and enjoy some time with their friends,” explained Williams.

(9) TODAY IN HISTORY.

  • April 10, 1966 Jesse James Meets Frankenstein’s Daughter premiered. It was directed by William Beaudine and produced  by Caroll Case. It was written by Carl K. Hittleman. It starred John Lupton, Narda Onyx,  Estelita Rodriguez, Cal Bolder and Jim Davis.  The film was first released as part of a double feature along with Billy the Kid Versus Dracula. It was not treated well by critics at the time with one saying “it sucks”, and currently the audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes give it an eleven percent rating. We cannot determine if it’s in the public domain so we’re not providing a link. 
  • April 10, 1987 Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home enjoyed its first theatrical release which was in the United Kingdom. Starring the entire original cast, the story was by Harve Bennett and Leonard Nimoy with the screenplay by Steve Meerson, Peter Krikes, Nicholas Meyer and  Harve Bennett.  It was a box office success making far, far more than it cost to produce. The critics loved it for the most part, and  it currently has a stellar rating of eighty-one percent at Rotten Tomatoes among audience reviewers.

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born April 10, 1897 Eric Knight. Decidedly better known for his 1940 Lassie Come-Home novel which introduced Lassie, but he had one genre undertaking according to ISFDB, the Sam Small series. I’ve never heard of them, nor are they available in digital form though Lassie Come-Home of course is. Anyone read them? (Died 1943.)
  • Born April 10, 1921 Chuck Connors. His first genre role was as Senator Robert Fraser in Captain Nemo and the Underwater City followed by being Tab Fielding in Soylent Green. He’s Captain McCloud in Virus, a Japanese horror film, and he one-offs in The Adventures of SupermanThe Six Million Dollar ManFantasy Island and a recurring role as Captain Janos Skorzenyn in Werewolf. (Died 1992.)
  • Born April 10, 1929 Max von Sydow. He played  Ernst Stavro Blofeld in the Never Say Never Again and Ming the Merciless in Flash Gordon. He shows up in the Exorcist II: The Heretic as Father Lankester Merrin while being King Osric in Conan the Barbarian. Dreamscape sees him being Doctor Paul Novotny while he’s Liet-Kynes the Imperial Planetologist in Dune. He was Judge Fargo in Judge Dredd (and yes, I still like it), in Minority Report as Director Lamar Burgess, Sir Walter Loxley in Ridley Scott’s Robin Hood and finally in Star Wars: The Force Awakens as Lor San Tekka. (Died 2020.)
  • Born April 10, 1940 Raul Julia. If we count Sesame Street as genre, his appearance as Rafael there was his first genre role. Yeah, I’m stretching it. Ok, how about as Aram Fingal In Overdrawn at the Memory Bank, a RSL production off the John Varley short story? That better?  He later starred in Frankenstein Unbound as Victor Frankenstein as well. His last role released while he was still living was in the superb Addams Family Values as Gomez Addams reprising the role he’d had in The Addams Family. (Died 1994.)
  • Born April 10, 1953 David Langford, 67. And how long have you been reading Ansible? If he’s not noted for that singular enterprise, he should be noted for assisting in producing the second edition of the EoSF, not to mention some 629,000 words as a principal editor of the third (online) edition of the Encyclopedia of SF, and contributed some eighty thousand words of articles to EoF as well. And let’s not forget his genre writing as well that earned him a Short Story Hugo at the Millennium Philcon for “Different Kinds of Darkness”.  
  • Born April 10, 1955 Pat Murphy, 65. I think her most brilliant work is The City, Not Long After. If you’ve not read this novel, do so now. The Max Merriwell series is excellent and Murphy’s ‘explanation’ of the authorial attributions is fascinating. And The Falling Woman by her is an amazing read as well. She’s reasonably well stocked at the usual digital suspects.
  • Born April 10, 1957 John M. Ford. Popular at Minicon and other cons where he would be Dr. Mike and give silly answers to questions posed to him while wearing  a lab coat before a whiteboard. His most interesting novel I think is The Last Hot Time, an urban fantasy set in Chicago that might have been part of Terri Windling’s Bordertown series but wasn’t. Possibly. (Did 2006.)
  • Born April 10, 1978 Hannu Rajaniemi, 42. Author of the Jean le Flambeur series which consists of The Quantum ThiefThe Fractal Prince and The Causal Angel. Damn if I can summarize them. They remind me a bit of Alastair Reynolds and his Prefect novels, somewhat of Ian Mcdonald’s Mars novels as well. Layers of weirdness upon weirdness. Quite fascinating. 
  • Born April 10, 1992 Daisy Ridley, 28. Obviously she played the role of Rey in The Force AwakensThe Last Jedi and The Rise of Skywalker. She was also in Scrawl, a horror film as well as voicing Cotton Rabbit in Peter Rabbit. Though stretching to even call it genre adjacent even, she was Mary Debenham in Murder on The Orient Express.

(11) COMICS SECTION.

(12) RINGO AWARDS 2020 NOMINATIONS OPEN. The public can vote until June 25 – click here to participate.

The Mike Wieringo Comic Book Industry Awards is an annual celebration of the creativity, skill, and fun of comics. The awards return for their third year on Saturday, October 24, 2020 as part of the fan- and pro-favorite convention, The Baltimore Comic-Con.

Unlike other professional industry awards, the Ringo Awards include fan participation in the nomination process along with an esteemed jury of comics professionals. 

More than 20 categories will be celebrated with top honors being given at the awards ceremony in October.

Click here to see the 2019 winners and nominees.

(13) TRAILBLAZERS. James Davis Nicoll salutes that Promethean resource — “All Hail The Science Fiction Encyclopedia, Bringer of Knowledge!” – at Tor.com.

Imagine, if you will, a dark age in which information was not at the tip of one’s fingertips, in which acquiring it required a trip to the library or the bookstore, in which tidbits of useful information might be limited to brief introductions and afterwords, in which there was no guarantee that the information would exist in an accessible form anywhere at all.  Imagine further that one was a snoopy highly inquisitive young reader, curious about the authors whose works he was consuming and eager to know more about the works themselves. Imagine the frustration….

(14) BEHIND THE MASK. ScreenRant’s Mike Jones says “Alien Facehugger Inspired Face Mask Is Creepy & Effective”. Mike Kennedy admits, “Not sure I could wear this, no matter how effective it is are.” See it here. 

 … In addition to preventative measures such as social distancing and lockdown/quarantining, many people around the world have taken to wearing masks when out in public. As a result, it has become increasingly difficult for citizens to get their hands on masks. Fortunately, people can make their own adequate replacements, and some have even gotten very creative with this practice.

To add a little levity to the issue of wearing a mask, Facebook user Lady Frankenstein added images of an extraordinary homemade mask. By taking a cue from Alien, the mask in question was made to resemble the classic film’s dreaded facehugger. Victims of the facehugger later experienced the slightly uncomfortable arrival of an alien, but thankfully, Lady Frankenstein’s mask will ultimately keep its wearer far safer than the facehugger’s victims.

(15) TWISTING THE ROPE. “The Oldest String Ever Found May Have Been Made By Neanderthals”.

Tiny bits of twisted plant fibers found on an ancient stone tool suggest that Neanderthals were able to make and use sophisticated cords like string and rope.

Cords made from twisted fibers are so ubiquitous today that it’s easy to take them for granted. But they’re a key survival technology that can be used to make everything from clothes to bags to shelters.

This prehistoric piece of string, described in the journal Scientific Reports, was preserved on a flint tool that dates back to around 41,000 to 52,000 years ago. It came from a cave-like rock shelter in southern France that was once inhabited by Neanderthals.

(16) WHERE FANS ONCE TROD. The BBC shows us how the exhibits hall of the 1995 Worldcon is being repurposed: “Look inside Glasgow’s temporary NHS hospital”.

More images have been released of a temporary hospital which is being built at he Scottish Events Campus (SEC) in Glasgow.

The emergency facility, called NHS Louisa Jordan, will take up a 10,000 sq m hall and will have capacity for 516 beds.

Since construction started on 31 March, nearly 800 contractors and NHS staff have been working on site.

…So far, partitions between beds have been erected, 8,000 pieces of medical equipment have been ordered and the flooring has started to be laid.

A new bespoke system which will deliver an oxygen supply to every bed has also been put in place.

The NHS Louisa Jordan is named after a nurse who died from typhus while serving in Serbia during the height of an outbreak.

(17) THE SOUNDS OF SILENCE. “Coronavirus Turns Urban Life’s Roar to Whisper on World’s Seismographs”.

Geoscientists are getting a clearer picture of what’s going on beneath our feet as lockdowns keep many of us at home.

Seismometers may be built to detect earthquakes, but their mechanical ears hear so much more: hurricanes thundering hundreds of miles away and meteoroids exploding in the skies on the other side of the planet. Even the everyday hum of humanity — people moving about on cars, trains and planes — has a seismically detectable heartbeat.

But coronavirus has upended our lives. Hoping to curtail the pandemic’s spread, nations have closed their borders, cities have been shut down and billions of people have been instructed to stay home. Today, in cities large and small, the thumping pulse of civilization is now barely detectable on many seismograms.

“It did make the scale of the shutdowns a bit more real to me,” said Celeste Labedz, a graduate student in geophysics at the California Institute of Technology.

In person, you can see only your neighborhood’s dedication to remaining home. With seismometers, Ms. Labedz said, you can see the collective willingness of millions of the world’s urban dwellers to hunker down. As a result, the planet’s natural quavering is being recorded with remarkable clarity.

This seismological experiment began with Thomas Lecocq, a seismologist at the Royal Observatory of Belgium in Brussels. He wanted to see what happened to his city’s anthropogenic hiss after its lockdown began in mid-March. His finding, that it had declined precipitously, was shared on Twitter and via news organizations, prompting seismologists elsewhere to look at their own city’s lack of shakes. Many used Dr. Lecocq’s bespoke coding to eke out the human noise in their seismic data.

…A cleaner and more frequent detection of Earth’s seismic activity grants seismologists a less filtered look into the planet’s interior. Although many seismometers are purposefully located far from cities, plenty of urban areas — especially those in seismically hyperactive parts of the planet — are peppered with seismometers. In this time of human quiescence, the creaking of some potentially dangerous faults may be detected better than ever.

(18) UNMANNED MISSIONS ANNOUNCED. “NASA Selects Four Possible Missions to Study the Secrets of the Solar System”. More details at the link.

The selected proposals are:

DAVINCI+ (Deep Atmosphere Venus Investigation of Noble gases, Chemistry, and Imaging Plus)

DAVINCI+ will analyze Venus’ atmosphere to understand how it formed, evolved and determine whether Venus ever had an ocean….

Io Volcano Observer (IVO)

IVO would explore Jupiter’s moon, Io, to learn how tidal forces shape planetary bodies….

TRIDENT

Trident would explore Triton, a unique and highly active icy moon of Neptune, to understand pathways to habitable worlds at tremendous distances from the Sun….

VERITAS (Venus Emissivity, Radio Science, InSAR, Topography, and Spectroscopy)

VERITAS would map Venus’ surface to determine the planet’s geologic history and understand why Venus developed so differently than the Earth…..

(19) VIDEO OF THE DAY. “Terry Gilliam’s Closet Pick” on YouTube is a video about how Gilliam paid a visit to the Criterion Collection in 2019 and shared anecdotes about Brazil and The Brothers Grimm as he loaded a bag with free DVDs.

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

Pixel Scroll 4/8/20 Why The Pixel Shudders When It Perceives The Scroll

The Sad Puppies always predicted, for their own vindictive reasons, that the time would come when the internet fell on me. I never disagreed. I knew they were right. Today was that day.

(1) SAVING BOOKSTORES. In his latest e-newsletter Barry Hoffman, Publisher of Gauntlet Press, included this news about aid to crisis-affected indie bookstores:

  • James Patterson has donated $500,000 in partnership with the American Booksellers Association to help Independent bookstores (#SaveIndieBookstores).
  • Odyssey Bookshop in South Hadley, Mass., launched a GoFundMe campaign earlier this week after being closed to the public since March 17.
  • Annie Philbrick, owner of Bank Square Books in Mystic, Conn., and Savoy Bookshop & Cafe in Westerly, R.I., launched a GoFundMe campaign. Philbrick and her team are looking to raise $100,000, and raised over $10,000 on the fundraiser’s first day. Funds raised will go to payroll, utilities, liabilities and rent.
  • The Bookworm of Edwards in Edwards, Colo., launched a GoFundMe page. In the days since, store owner Nicole Magistro has managed to raise more than $62,000 out of a $75,000 goal. Since launching the campaign and appealing to customers, Magistro reported, online sales have jumped tremendously.

(2) WAIT A MINUTE, THAT WAS YOU? Veteran conrunner Laurie Mann also works as a movie extra: “Happy Tales from Set: The “Quiet” Jack Reacher Bus Scene”.

I’m a movie extra, paid for something like 30 different productions since 2008, and this turned out to be my favorite day on set…

… The movie came out in 2012, and I think the DVD came out in 2013.  I love to listen to director’s commentary, which, for this movie, was both the director, Christopher McQuarrie and the star, Tom Cruise.  When this scene came up, they both made a point of saying how hard the Pittsburgh extras worked on this movie!!  So what was another reason this scene was my favorite scene – not only was I in it, but I got to suggest three bits of business that the director used!

(3) SOMTOW’S LISTENING GUIDE. Somtow Sucharitkul lists “Programming on OperaSiamTV.com  that MIGHT be of interest to my friends in science fiction community” — all times GMT+7 (Thailand Time)

  • Thursday 8 pm with reruns midnight, Friday morning 8 am, 12 noon: by popular request, the Ultimate Star Wars Symphony Concert once again (this is all Thursday for L.A.)
  • Friday (Good Friday) 8 pm and 12 am plus 8 am and 12 noon a production of “Jesus Christ Superstar” from Bangkok, directed by Somtow
  • Saturday (for Passover) – first broadcast of Somtow’s opera about the Holocaust, Helena Citrónová 8 pm, 12 am, 8 pm, 12 noon
  • Sunday (Easter) same times — Mahler’s Resurrection Symphony
  • Monday (Songkraan, Thai Buddhist New Year) — marathon run of the first seven works in Somtow’s “Ten Lives of the Buddha” noon and midnight (this will run around 10 hours) — this probably has some interest in the fantasy crowd

(4) FOWL PLAY DELAYED. Shelf Awareness reports –

Disney has pulled its upcoming film Artemis Fowl, based on Eoin Colfer’s fantasy novels, from theatrical release and will debut the movie exclusively on its Disney+ streaming service sometime this summer. The Wrap reported that the move “comes as all theatrical releases are being shuffled around and delayed–some by as long as a year–while movie theaters remain closed during the coronavirus pandemic.”

(5) HOMEWORK. In the Washington Post, Michael Cavna talks to comics creators Lynda Barry, Kelly Sue DeConnick, Paige Braddock, Faith Erin Hicks, and Dean Haspiel about how they are staying creative during the coronavirus pandemic.“5 tips to spark your creativity while working alone, from artists who do it all the time”.

1. Find an inspiring place to think

Many of [Jeff] Kinney’s familiar haunts are shuttered during the pandemic — including An Unlikely Story, the bookstore and cafe he owns in town. (Closed for nearly three weeks, the store had to cancel even Hillary Clinton’s scheduled tour stop.)

Sign up for our Coronavirus Updates newsletter to track the outbreak. All stories linked in the newsletter are free to access.

“Theoretically, the coronavirus quarantine shouldn’t affect a cartoonist’s productivity, because we’re experienced at working from home,” Kinney says. But “I’ve lost all my spaces in which I could generate ideas.”

So, he now spends his workdays parked at the local cemetery. Even his supplies and goodies support his creative routine.

(6) FISH IN A BARREL. National Review’s Jack Butler made me click, which I guess was the whole point. “Isaac Asimov’s Comforting Technocratic Fable”. Tagline: “The sci-fi great’s Foundation novels are an unrealistic depiction of free will, civilization, and crisis management.”

As leaders and those they govern struggle to confront the global challenges of COVID-19, wouldn’t it be nice if a hologram from the past spontaneously appeared with a pre-recorded message telling us exactly what to do? In Isaac Asimov’s Foundation novels, that’s exactly what happens. First serialized as novellas in the sci-fi magazine Astounding Stories between 1942 and 1950 and published as proper novels in the early ’50s, the first three books in the Foundation series provide a superficially comforting tale of technocratic triumph. But they suffer from a failure in their central conceit that both renders the works fundamentally flawed and limits their utility for our own confusing time….

(7) KGB. Ellen Datlow and Matt Kressel announce:

Due to the NYC Coronavirus shutdown, there will be no in-person reading at the KGB Bar. Instead, we will live stream readings with April’s authors, Michael Cisco and Clay MacLeod Chapman on YouTube on April 15th, 2020, 7pm Eastern Time.

You can watch the readings live by clicking here.

If you wish to support the KGB Bar during the shutdown, you may do so here.

Michael Cisco

Michael Cisco published ten novels including The Divinity StudentThe Great LoverThe NarratorAnimal Moneyand Unlanguageand a short story collection called Secret Hours.  His short fiction has appeared in: The Thackery T. Lambshead Pocket Guide to Eccentric and Discredited DiseasesLovecraft UnboundBlack WingsBlood and Other CravingsThe WeirdThe Grimscribe’s Puppets, and Aickman’s Heirs, among others.  He teaches at CUNY Hostos.

Clay McLeod Chapman

Clay McLeod Chapman is the author of The RemakingNothing UntowardCommencement, and several other novels. He has written the films The BoyHenley, and Late Bloomer. In the world of comics, he is the writer for Marvel’s ongoing series Scream: Curse of Carnage, as well as Iron Fist: Phantom LimbLazarettoSelf StorageEdge of Spider-Verse, and American Vampire, among others.  For more information, check out his website: www.claymcleodchapman.com

You can listen to podcasts of KGB readings here.

(8) THE WINTER LINE. George R.R. Martin said this was coming in “Crossovers and Cameos”. Now you can see a clip on YouTube.

I got a message from my friend Jonah Nolan last week. Jonah is one of the creators and showrunners of HBO’s WESTWORLD, along with his wife Lisa Joy, and he told me to be sure to catch Sunday’s episode, there might be something that would amuse me.

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born April 8, 1912 John Carnell. British editor well regarded  for editing New Worlds two different times. He also edited Science Fantasy starting in the Fifties. After the magazines were sold off to another publisher, he left to create the New Writings in Science Fiction serieswhich ran until his death. Damien Broderick and John Boston have a two volume history of him entitled Building New Worlds, 1946-1959: The Carnell Era. (Died 1972.)
  • Born April 8, 1933 Cele Goldsmith. She was editor of Amazing Stories and Fantastic from 1958 to 1965 during which time Zelazny, Le Guin and Disch had their first published stories appeared in those magazines. She has given a special Hugo at Chicon III for editing Amazing Stories and Fantastic. (Died 2002.)
  • Born April 8, 1942 Douglas Trumbull, 78. Let’s call him a genius and leave it at that. He contributed to, or was fully responsible for, the special photographic effects of Close Encounters of the Third Kind2001: A Space Odyssey, Star Trek: The Motion Picture and Blade Runner, and directed the movies Silent Running and Brainstorm. And Trumbull was executive producer for Starlost
  • Born April 8, 1967 Cecilia Tan, 53. Editor, writer and founder of Circlet Press, which she says is the first press devoted to erotic genre fiction. It has published well over a hundred digital book to date with such titles as Telepaths Don’t Need Safewords and Other Stories from the Erotic Edge of SF/Fantasy (Wouldn’t Bester be surprised to learn that. I digress), Sex in the System: Stories of Erotic Futures, Technological Stimulation, and the Sensual Life of Machines and Genderflex: Sexy Stories on the Edge and In-Between. She has two series, Magic University and The Prince’s Boy
  • Born April 8, 1974 Nnedi Okorafor, 46. Who Fears Death won a World Fantasy Award for Best Novel.  Lagoon, an Afrofuturist novel, was followed by her amazing Binti trilogy. Binti won both a Nebula Award and a Hugo Award for best novella. Several of her works have been adapted for video, both in Africa and in North America. 
  • Born April 8, 1981 Taylor Kitsch, 39. You’ll possibly remember him as the lead in John Carter which I swear was originally titled John Carter of Mars. He also played Gambit in X-Men Origins: Wolverine, and was Lieutenant Commander Alex Hopper in Battleship which was based off the board game.

(10) COMICS SECTION.

  • Today’s Lio comes with a tip of the hat to H.G. Wells.
  • Nancy’s April Fools Day explanation of who (or what) she really is was too good to miss.

(11) IT IS THE END, MY FRIEND. CBR.com knows everybody would rather read a prediction of doom: “Coronavirus Could Be the Beginning of the End for Super Conventions”.

…Now, however, with the justifiable closure of these conventions due to the COVID-19 outbreak, it’s unclear how much we really need these super conventions. We’ve already started to see a trend of major studios skipping them. Marvel and Sony opted out of these events for the past couple years, and it’s not a stretch to say they might reconsider attending in the future.

As digital media has expanded, the convention model has become more and more antiquated. Today, companies can draw the same amount of hype with an online trailer release and press conference as they used to by premiering a trailer at Comic Con — and the online trailer is a lot less hassle. It also allows studios to control how much gets out about their upcoming releases, lets them limit press access and saves them the embarrassment of a poor fan reaction at a live show.

(12) BITE ME. Eater Los Angeles says this “Rad New LA Pizza Delivery Service Comes With Immersive At-Home Vampire Game”.

What’s better than getting a pizza delivered at home during the time of the coronavirus pandemic? How about a pizza delivered by an ageless vampire family, complete with mysterious clues and puzzles to solve along with those slices?

That’s precisely the idea behind Vampire Pizza, a new at-home interactive food experience in Los Angeles that has been designed specifically for this current COVID-19 quarantine life. The idea is simple: a ghost kitchen pizza company partners with experiential artists and producers who are also stuck at home to create a one-of-a-kind character and clues-based game that gets delivered to a customer’s doorstep this weekend. It’s basically dinner and a (personal) show.

(13) D’OH! “A Family in Lockdown Recreated The Simpsons Opening and It’s Absolutely Joyful”Io9 points the way.

(14) BORING SCIENCE. The Harvard University Press blog advises about “Responding to Boredom during Self-Isolation”.

… To make matters worse, isolation often goes hand in hand with the strain of monotony. The Norwegian-built ship Belgica was the first to overwinter in the Antarctic during its epic 1898 voyage. Despite facing numerous challenges, Frederick Cook, the onboard doctor, was particularly struck by the problem of isolation and monotony. “We are imprisoned in an endless sea of ice, and find our horizon monotonous. We have told all the tales, real and imaginative…time weighs heavily upon us as the darkness slowly advances,” was his grim description. Allegedly, one crewmember was so fed up he jumped ship proclaiming that he was going to walk home to Belgium across the ice!

(15) VIDEO OF THE DAY. “Every C3PO Costume Explained By Anthony Daniels” on YouTube is a 50-minute documentary done for WIRED in which Daniels describes every costume he wore in the nine Star Wars films and includes a lot of rare behind-the-scenes footage.

[Thanks to Mike Kennedy, Chip Hitchcock, JJ, Cat Eldridge, Martin Morse Wooster, John King Tarpinian, Michael Toman, Rich Horton, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day David Shallcross.]

Pixel Scroll 4/4/20 The Heterodyne Boys And The Pixel Scroll Of Prague

(1) VIRTUALOSITY. Edmund Schluessel tells what it was like attending the first WiFi SciFi, which took place this afternoon UK time. “Con report: WiFi SciFi”.

…Around 75 people including 16 panelists, mostly drawn from the UK, attended two panels, two kaffeeklatsches and a quiz over the course of a late afternoon UK time. The medium of the event was teleconferencing platform Zoom; kaffeeklatsches were allocated using Zoom’s breakout room feature and the quiz using the poll feature.

The technical end of the experiment didn’t go perfectly, of course–connectivity problems made it hard for guest Tade Thompson to participate, making 3 conventions out of 3 where I almost met him but didn’t. Cheryl Morgan has some hot takes in a Twitter thread here.

But we shouldn’t judge the event by the technical imperfections of an overloaded system–we’re all trying to rebuild the world with spit and bits of string right now. The miracle, the monument to human ingenuity, is that any of this is working at all….

(2) FLATTEN THE CURVE. Jaroslav Olsa Jr., editor, fan, and Designated Consul General in Los Angeles for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Czech Republic), asked his Facebook friends to share this PSA:

It seems that the Czech Republic and Slovakia succeeded in slowing the increase of the numbers of infected people in the last days. The Czech Republic and Slovakia were the first European countries which made face masks obligatory in public spaces already two weeks ago – and though the stocks were limited, the Czechs and the Slovaks started their DIY production. See how the Czech and Slovak – all of us – are doing to stop the pandemocis.

(3) SURVIVING A HARD LIFE. Covid-19: A message from John Rhys-Davies.

John Rhys-Davies shares his thoughts from his home in the Isle of Man. He reflects on the experience of his family during the war and what we can learn from a generation that faced the greatest adversity of the 20th century.

(4) HOMEFRONT AND THE FIRST MASQUERADE. Rob Hansen has added updates to a book and to his fanhistory website.

An August 1940 piece by Ted Carnell I was unaware of was recently brought to my attention. This was a good fit for HOMEFRONT: Fandom in the UK (1939-1945) so Dave Langford has now kindly added it to the ebook. For those who are interested, downloading a new copy and having it overwrite your existing one is pretty simple: Homefront.

Also just added to my website is material I found on how the first convention masquerade came about, and thus the birth of cosplay/costuming. Though not my thing, this is of obvious fanhistorical interest: “The First Masquerade & The Birth of Cosplay”.

No photos of the masquerade, alas, yet enough detail that someone could probably re-enact it.

(5) AMY POND REVISITED. “Doctor Who: Steven Moffat releases new Amy Pond scene ahead of fan watchalong”. The rewatch was yesterday. Fortunately, the YouTube video story is forever.  

If his Strax-starring introduction to The Day of the Doctor wasn’t enough, former Doctor Who showrunner Steven Moffat has written ANOTHER new short scene tying into the BBC sci-fi series, this time acting as a sort-of-prequel to 2010 episode The Eleventh Hour.

Produced remotely ahead of a planned fan rewatch of the episode (which welcomed Matt Smith into the central role exactly a decade ago), the short animation sees Caitlin Blackwood reprise her role as the younger Amelia (or Amy) Pond, the series companion played by Karen Gillan as an adult throughout the series.

(6) FREE READ. Orson Scott Card’s Intergalactic Medicine Show is now free and open. You can read all back issues with no charge at IntergalacticMedicineShow.com

At this time of stay-at-home orders and quarantines, we hope you will enjoy the wonderful writers and artists who contributed to IGMS during its 14-year run.

(7) TOWARDS A FRESH BREEZE. Inverse’s Eric Francisco claims “Winds of Winter is GRRM’s chance to change Jon Snow’s fate for the better”. But he’s not delusional about it.

Let’s make one thing clear: I’m a pop culture writer on the internet. George R.R. Martin is a successful author worth $80 million. He created Westeros and the Starks and White Walkers, this morning I created a mediocre batch of pancakes. George R.R. Martin can do whatever he wants and he doesn’t have to listen to me.

That said, long before he wrote A Song of Fire and Ice, George R.R. Martin was a huge nerd and just a fan of geeky stuff. He even wrote letters to Marvel’s comic book editors, where he raved and ranted about the Fantastic Four. It’s safe to say that Martin understands fan culture, so he can put up with people like me telling him how to “fix” his story. And I’d never dream of yelling at anyone to “fix” their story lest I’m their editor.

But coming up three years on the ultimate reveal of Game of Thrones, in which we learned Jon Snow’s true parentage and connections to the Targaryens, I’m curious to know if Martin could (or would) pursue a new path in his books. One that’s completely different to how things went down for Jonny Snow in the HBO series.

(8) LAURIE KUNKEL OBIT. [Item by Woody Bernardi.]

I am ashamed to say that I have only just discovered that Laurie Yates-Kunkel (Laurie Kunkel) died on September 11, 2019. I don’t have any more details about Laurie’s death.

Laurie Kunkel was one my oldest friends in Fandom. David Allred introduced us when we were all students at UNLV. We were in the Univ Library, where David worked. Laurie was in the stacks doing research, she was always much more studious than me and actually earned two Bachelors, one in English and one in History. She was wearing a Star Fleet uniform, the day we met.

The three of us began the process which ultimately led to the creation of the Fantastic Fiction Club of UNLV in the Spring Semester 1987. Shockingly, I was campaigning for the FFCU to host a convention. But the other members of the Club preferred to write. So we created a semiprozine instead. We called it Neon Galaxies. Laurie also had some of her Fiction published in a journal produced by the English Dept.

 Then in 1990, Laurie Kunkel, David Allred & I searched out, with difficulty, Ken & Aileen Forman’s home, for the 2nd meeting of what was later named SNAFFU. In those days they lived in a subdivision on the outskirts of Las Vegas, bordered by empty desert. An area of Green Valley which had only just begun to be developed. Within a year, Arnie Katz& Joyce Katz made contact with SNAFFU. Laurie met Bill Kunkel and they were married a few years later.

Laurie and I joined FAPA, at the urging if Arnie & Joyce. However Laurie was always a far better writer than me and was also much more active in Fanzine Fandom than I ever was. Laurie was also active in the Southern Nevada Amateur Press Society (SNAPS), edited by Joyce Katz.

Bill died in 2010 and Laurie had been bedridden since 2007 and was having caregivers in a couple times a day ever since.

[Reprinted from the Fanhistory and the SNAFFU FB Groups.]

(9) TODAY IN HISTORY.

  • April 4, 2012 Iron Sky premiered. A Finnish-German-Australian production that was directed by Timo Vuorensola. The screenplay was by Michael Kalesniko, Ryan Healey and Timo Vuorensola from a treatment by Johanna Sinisalo and Michael Kalesniko. It starred Tero Kaukomaa, Oliver Damian, Mitchell Welsh and Samuli Torssonen plus many, many others. No, Nazis on the moon was not an idea that got a great reception and it currently has a 37% rating among audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes.
  • April 4, 2014  — Bermuda Tentacles premiered on Syfy.  It was directed by Nick Lyon. IMDB says it had nine producers which we won’t bother to list here. It starred Linda Hamilton and also had the cast of Trevor Donovan, Mýa, John Savage and Jamie Kennedy. Critics thought it stink, stank, stunk with one critic saying It was the “one of the worst that has been produced by Syfy.” Audience reviewers at at Rotten Tomatoes give it a thirteen percent rating. There are pirated copies of it on Youtube in Hindi and Tamil. 

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born April 4, 1902 Stanley G. Weinbaum. His first story, “A Martian Odyssey”, was published to general accolades in July 1934, but he died from lung cancer less than a year-and-a-half later. ISFDB lists two novels, The New Adam and The Dark Other, plus several handfuls of short stories that were I assume were out for consideration with various editors at the time of his death. Everything he wrote is available at the usual digital suspects. (Died 1935.)
  • Born April 4, 1914 Richard Coogan. He had but one genre role and it was a brief one but one well worth noting. He was for a brief time, the original Captain Video in the Captain Video and His Video Rangers which aired from 1949 to 1955. He lived to be almost a hundred but his acting career was over in the early Sixties. You can see him in the pilot, “The Sparrow”, here. (Died 2014.)
  • Born April 4, 1932 Anthony Perkins. Without doubt, he’s best known for playing Norman Bates in Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho and its three sequels. Three sequels?!? One sec… H’h, I missed the third one in the Nineties. Genre wise, I don’t see a lot otherwise by him though he was in The Black Hole as Dr. Alex Durant and was in Daughter of Darkness as Prince Constantine. (Died 1992.)
  •  Born April 4, 1948 Dan Simmons, 72. He’s the author of the Hyperion Cantos and the Ilium/Olympos cycles. Hyperion won a Hugo Award. If you like horror, Song of Kali which won a World Fantasy Award is highly recommended. 
  • Born April 4, 1954 Bruce Sterling, 66. Islands in the Net is I think is his finest work as it’s where his characters are best developed and the near future setting is quietly impressive. Admittedly I’m also fond of The Difference Engine which he co-wrote with Gibson which is neither of these things. He edited Mirrorshades: A Cyberpunk Anthology which is still the finest volume of cyberpunk stories that’s been published to date. 
  • Born April 4, 1959 Phil Morris, 61. His first acting role was on the “Miri” episode of Trek as simply Boy. He was the Sam the Kid on several episodes of Mr. Merlin before returning to Trek fold as Trainee Foster in Star Trek III: The Search for Spock. Next interesting role is voicing Vandal Savage on a three-part Justice League Unlimited story called “The Savage Time”, a role he reprised for Justice League: Doom. No, I’ve not forgotten that he was on Mission: Impossible as Grant Collier. He also played the Martian Manhunter (J’onn J’onzz) on Smallvillie. Currently He’s Silas Stone on Doom Patrol and no, I didn’t spot that was him in that role. 
  • Born April 4, 1960 Hugo Weaving, 60. He is known for playing Agent Smith in The Matrix franchise, Elrond in The Lord of the Rings  and The Hobbit trilogies, V in V for Vendetta  and oh so evil Red Skull in Captain America: The First Avenger. He also voiced Megatron in the first three films of the Transformers franchise.
  • Born April 4, 1965 Robert Downey Jr., 55. Well the less the said about his latest genre venture Doctor Little the better. No doubt his greatest genre role is that of Tony Stark his creation Iron Man in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Of course he played Sherlock Holmes in the Guy Ritchie’s Sherlock Holmes and Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows. And voiced James Barris in A Scanner Darkly
  • Born April 4, 1967 Xenia Seeberg, 53. She is perhaps best known for her role as Xev BeLexx in Lexx, a show’s that’s fantastic provided you can see in its uncensored form. I also see she played Muireann In Annihilation Earth, Noel in So, You’ve Downloaded a Demon, uncredited role in Lord of The Undead, and Sela in the “Assessment” episode of Total Recall 2070.
  • Born April 4, 1968 Gemma Files, 52. She’s a Canadian horror writer, journalist, and film critic. Her Hexslinger series now at three novels and a handful of stories is quite fun. It’s worth noting that she’s a prolific short story writer and four of them have been adapted as scripts for The Hunger horror series. 

(11) COMICS SECTION.

  • Bliss obviously saw a different ice show than the rest of us did.
  • It was just a dream? — Garfield.
  • Non Sequitur shows how COVID-19 is affecting writers.

(12) SIGNAL BOOST. “Please, we’re begging, make this Patrick Stewart/Ian McKellen gardening detective show a reality”AV Club’s Alison Shoemaker gets a post out of someone else’s Twitter conversation, like good bloggers do….

…This time, the source is not a fun caption on a publicity still, but a whole vibe from fantasy novelist M.L. Brennan….

Beyond what the article quotes, there’s a lot of wish-casting and hoped-for dialog etc. bits, enough that it’s worth the read. Thread starts here.

(13) FIRST PERSON. NPR covers “‘The Wuhan I Know’: A Comic About The City Behind The Coronavirus Headlines”, includes numerous examples.

Back in January, Laura Gao, a 23-year-old product developer for Twitter living in San Francisco, was preparing to visit her relatives in Wuhan, China. The trip was to celebrate her grandmother’s 80th birthday.

But in the days leading up to her flight, Gao’s relatives told her to cancel her trip. The coronavirus was spreading throughout the city.

Gao, a native of Wuhan, stayed in San Francisco and on January 23, the day after her flight would have landed, the city went on lockdown. If she’d taken her trip, Gao thinks she’d still be in Wuhan today.

“Instead, I’m here in San Francisco seeing the other side of the story,” Gao says. “There was a lot of anger and panic and pity that was coming from not only the media, but the people around me.”

As the virus spread, Wuhan quickly captured the world’s attention. For many Americans, this was the first time they had ever heard of the city — and in the frightening context of coronavirus.

She decided to make a comic telling her own story and highlighting her favorite parts of the city.

(14) MASKS. People are sharing DIY resources for making masks. Here are two some fans sent around:

(15) TROLL TEASERS. “Anna Kendrick and Rachel Bloom Just Spilled Some Tea About Trolls World Tour” at Bravo TV.

It’s almost time for Trolls World Tour! The jam-packed sequel hits theaters and is available to watch at home on demand on April 10. To celebrate this epic musical event, Anna Kendrick (who voices Queen Poppy) and Rachel Bloom (Queen Barb), sat down with Bravo in the video above to share a few spoilers about what to expect. 

“Poppy is the queen now, and feeling the pressure to prove herself,” explained Kendrick. “Poppy is determined. She thinks Barb and she are going to be best friends now.” 

But according to Bloom, Queen Barb has some plans of her own that don’t really include Poppy at all.

(16) LAST CHANCE TO SEE? “10 years to save ‘world’s most threatened sea turtle'”

The largest turtle in the ocean, the leatherback gets its name from its tough, rubbery skin.

Migrating long distances a year, the turtle can cross the Pacific Ocean.

But with threats like getting tangled in fishing gear, the future for one distinct population looks “dire,” say conservation groups.

At the current rate of decline, the critically endangered Eastern Pacific leatherback turtle will vanish within 60 years.

We have just 10 years left to put measures in place to save it, says a group of conservation scientists and organisations including Fauna & Flora International (FFI).

“We have it within our power to protect these animals and enable them to thrive, but all those who have a hand in shaping their future need to work together to do so,” said Alison Gunn, programme manager for the Americas and the Caribbean at FFI.

(17) A DIFFERENT KIND OF CHALLENGE. Neil Gaiman and family have a problem familiar to many New Zealanders – too many feijoas!

(18) VIDEO OF THE DAY. A parody of 70s/80s Japanese TV imitations of famous sff franchises: “Japanese Doctor Who – The lost tape.”

[Thanks to Chip Hitchcock, Lise Andreasen, Darrah Chavey, Andrew Porter, Moshe Feder, Michael Toman, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, Errolwi, John King Tarpinian, Daniel Dern, Cat Eldridge, and Mike Kennedy for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Jack Lint.]

Pixel Scroll 4/2/20 Pixels Are Bigger On The Scrollside

(1) THE ANSWER, MY FRIEND. George R.R. Martin empathizes with the Kiwis at Not A Blog: No Fooling.

…The biggest news in that regard is that this year’s worldcon, CoNZealand, has also decided to go virtual.   I know what a difficult decision that was for the Kiwis, who have worked so hard bidding and winning the con, and dreamed so long of bringing fandom to their magical island.   New Zealand is one of my favorite places in the world, and Parris feels the same way.  We have been there several times before, and I know we will visit again… just not this year, alas.  I gather that pushing the con back to late 2020 or early 2021 was not feasible, for various logistical reasons, which meant that going online was the only real alternative to cancellation.   How that will work, I have no idea.   No one does, really.  It has never been done before.   The technical aspects are going to be daunting, no doubt… but I know that everyone concerned is going to do their best.   Fingers crossed.

If there is a silver lining in these clouds, this will give me more time to finish WINDS OF WINTER.   I continue to write every day, up here in my mountain fastness….

(2) HOPE SPRINGS ETERNAL. Will the San Diego Comic-Con be an exception? SYFY Wire says “San Diego Comic-Con Organizers Remain ‘Hopeful’ That The Con Will Go On”.

“To our amazing Comic-Con and WonderCon fans: We understand how difficult the current climate has been for all of us and appreciate your continued support through these trying times,” said an announcement posted on SDCC’s official Twitter page. “No one is as hopeful as we are that we will be able to celebrate #SDCC2020 together come July.”

(3) ANY BOOB CAN TAKE AND SHOVE A BALL IN A POCKET. Nick Mamatas tells LitReactor readers why he doesn’t hold small presses in any esteem: “Ask Nick: Publishing 201: Why Are Small Presses Almost Always So Awful?”

…The sad and horrible fact is that most small presses are labors of love. By this I don’t mean a love of the written word or some community of under-published writers, I mean that the owners of small presses are seeking love, and one way to be loved, in the short term, is to splash around some money and the dubious promise of prestige and literary reputation.

Now, running a small press is difficult. The initial outlay can be extensive, and everyone you interact with is also a love-seeker. When one opens any business, the first people one meets aren’t customers with full wallets, but would-be vendors, jobseekers, glad-handers, and the like. Open a dry cleaner tomorrow and the first people through the door will be unqualified folks looking for work, kooks wanting to hang flyers about the school play in your window, a Little League team hitting you up for sponsorship, someone with a sob story about a shirt they need for a job interview that may keep them from becoming homeless in a week and so can’t they pleeeease get a “nice guy” discount of 70 percent, a batty weirdo complaining about non-existent smells and carcinogens, and the like.

In publishing, it’s worse. Writers, mostly not very good ones, line up for a chance to be published—the big presses have already rejected them all…. 

(4) ON THE NOSE. “Gene Roddenberry, Co-Pilot, B-17 41-2644 LOS LOBOS Of The 394th BS”Wings Remembered has a photo gallery about his war service.

Gene Roddenberry flew over 80 missions, most of which would have been as Bill Ripley’s co-pilot on LOS LOBOS. We have had this section of nose art from LOS LOBOS for more than 20 years.  During this time we had not been able to positively identify the B-17 that this nose art section was from. That changed recently when author and historian Steve Birdsall contacted with this information 

(5) ORSINIAN PASSPORT. Time to revisit the Library of America’s 2016 selection “Imaginary Countries, Ursula K. Le Guin (1929–2018)” (from Ursula K. Le Guin: The Complete Orsinia).

During her college years in the early 1950s, Ursula Kroeber began working on her first novel. She later recalled that the Soviet takeover of Czechoslovakia and subsequent events had “roused the political spirit in me,” but she hadn’t yet visited the countries of Eastern Europe and didn’t feel comfortable writing about them. She explains:

“I was twenty years old, working at one of the dining tables about midnight, when I got the first glimpse of my other country. An unimportant country of middle Europe. One of those Hitler had trashed and Stalin was now trashing. . . . I see the river, the Molsen, running through an open, sunny countryside to the old capital, Krasnoy (krasniy, Slavic, “beautiful”). Krasnoy on its three hills: the Palace, the University, the Cathedral. The Cathedral of St Theodora, an egregiously unsaintly saint, my mother’s name. . . . I begin to find my way about, to feel myself at home, here in Orsenya, matrya miya, my motherland. I can live here, and find out who else lives here and what they do, and tell stories about it” [from the Introduction, The Complete Orsinia].

It’s not a coincidence that the name of this imaginary country (Orsinia) and her own name both stem from Latin words for a female bear (orsa in Italian, from ursa in Latin)….

(6) ON LOCATION. LA Curbed has “The ultimate ‘Back to the Future’ filming locations map”. And holy cats! Who knew Marty McFly and fanzine fan Ed Cox were practically neighbors! (Well, within a mile-and-a-half of each other, anyway.)

4. McFly house

9303 Roslyndale Ave
Arleta, CA 91331

The McFly residence (built in 1954) still stands on Roslyndale Avenue in Arleta. Roslyndale and several nearby streets stand in for Hill Valley’s somewhat rundown Lyon Estates suburb.

(7) BENNETT OBIT. Voice actress Julie Bennett (1932-2020) died March 31 of complications from COVID-19. Here’s a brief excerpt from The Hollywood Reporter’s tribute — 

Her animation career began with “Fractured Fairy Tales” in 1960 on The Bullwinkle Show, and she voiced Cindy Bear for the first time a year later on The Yogi Bear Show, which featured Daws Butler doing his best Art Carney impersonation as Jellystone Park’s most famous resident.

She also voiced Aunt May on a 1997 Spider-Man animated series, did the talking for a Barbie doll and worked in films including the Judy Garland-starring Gay Purr-ee (1962) and Woody Allen’s What’s Up, Tiger Lily? (1966).

Her résumé also included Mr. MagooGet SmartThe Bugs Bunny and Tweety Show, Garfield and Friends…

(8) TODAY IN HISTORY.

  • April 2, 2005 The Quatermass Experiment premiered.  It was a live television event remake of the 1953 television series of the same name by Nigel Kneale. Written by Richard Fell and directed by Sam Miller, it starred Jason Flemyng was cast as Quatermass, with long-time Kneale admirer Mark Gatiss as Paterson, Andrew Tiernan as Carroon, Indira Varma as his wife Judith, David Tennant as Briscoe, Adrian Bower as Fullalove and Adrian Dunbar as Lomax.  The critics really liked it and it became BBC Four’s fourth-highest-rated program of all time. It’s not that popular at Rotten Tomatoes where the audience reviewers give it only a 47% rating.

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born April 2, 1914 Alec Guinness. Obi-Wan Kenobi in the Star Wars trilogy. (What? There were more movies after them? No!)  That’s it for filmed genre roles but theatre is another matter altogether. He played Osric first in Hamlet in the early Thirties in what was then the New Theatre, Old Thorney in The Witch of Edmonton at The Old Vic and the title role of Macbeth at Sheffield. (Died 2000.)
  • Born April 2, 1921 Redd Boggs. Los Angeles fanzine writer, editor and publisher. The 1948 Fantasy Annual was his first zine with Blish as a contributor, with Discord being nominated for the Best Fanzine Hugo in 1961. He was nominated for the Retro Hugo for Best Fan Writer, and Sky Hook was nominated for Best Fanzine. Boggs was also a member of First Fandom. (Died 1996.)
  • Born April 2, 1933 Murray Tinkelman. Illustrator who provided numerous book covers for paperback of genre novels for Ballantine Books in the Seventies. He’s particularly known for his work on the paperback editions of Brunner novels such as The Shockwave Rider which you can see here and Stand on Zanzibar that you can see over here. (Died 2016.)
  • Born April 2, 1939 Elliot K. Shorter. He began attending cons in the early Sixties and was a major figure in fandom through the Seventies. Some of the zines he worked on were Engram, the Heicon Flyer and Niekas. He was the TAFF winner at Heicon, the 28th Worldcon, in Heidelberg Germany. And he helped Suncon, the 1977 Worldcon. Mike has a detailed obituary here (Died 2013.)
  • Born April 2, 1940 Peter Haining. British author and anthologist responsible for a number of really cool works such as The Sherlock Holmes ScrapbookThe Legend and Bizarre Crimes of Spring Heeled JackDoctor Who: The Key to Time A year by year record (which covered all of classic Who) and James Bond: A Celebration. He was responsible for some one hundred and seventy books in his lifetime. (Died 2007.)
  • Born April 2, 1945 Linda Hunt, 75. Her first film role was Mrs. Holly Oxheart In Popeye. (Anyone here who’s disputing that’s genre?) She goes on to be Shadout Mapes in Lynch’s Dune. (Very weird film.) Next up is Dragonfly, a Kevin Costner-fronted horror film as Sister Madeline. And in a quirky role, she voices Lady Proxima, the fearsome Grindalid matriarch of the White Worms, in Solo: A Star Wars Story.
  • Born April 2, 1948 Joan D. Vinge, 72. Best-known for The Snow Queen which won a well-deserved Hugo and its sequels, her most excellent series about the young telepath named Cat, and her Heaven’s Chronicles, the latter which I’ve not read. Her first new book in almost a decade after her serious car accident was the 2011 novelization of Cowboys & Aliens. And I find it really neat that she wrote the anime and manga reviews for The Year’s Best Fantasy & Horror anthologies.
  • Born April 2, 1978 Scott Lynch, 42. Author of Gentleman Bastard series of novels which is to my utter surprise now at seven. I know I read The Lies of Locke Lamora, but who here has read the entire series to date?  He’s also stated that there will be a sequel series set some twenty years on in the future with new protagonists which will also be seven books in length. And I see he was writing Queen of the Iron Sands, an online serial novel for awhile. May I note he’s married to Elizabeth Bear, one of my favorite authors? 

(10) COMICS SECTION.

(11) MARVEL MAKES SOME COMICS A TEMPORARY FREE READ. Marvel Unlimited, Marvel’s digital comics subscription service, is now offering all fans “FREE access to some of Marvel’s most iconic stories from recent years, including now-classic Marvel Comics events and critically acclaimed runs featuring the Avengers, Spider-Man, Black Widow, Captain America, Captain Marvel, and more. Fans who are social distancing will be able to escape into the Marvel Universe and revisit their favorite stories from a curated selection of complete story arcs – completely free – on Marvel Unlimited, starting Thursday, April 2 until Monday, May 4.”

To access Marvel Unlimited’s free comics offering, download or update the Marvel Unlimited app for iOS or Android at the respective Apple and Google Play app stores, and click “Free Comics” on the landing screen. No payment information or trial subscriptions will be required for the selection of free comics.

This month’s free comics will feature instant Marvel Comics classics and can’t-miss events including:

  • AVENGERS VS. X-MEN
  • CIVIL WAR
  • AMAZING SPIDER-MAN: RED GOBLIN
  • BLACK PANTHER BY TA-NEHISI COATES VOL. 1
  • THANOS WINS BY DONNY CATES
  • X-MEN MILESTONES: DARK PHOENIX SAGA
  • AVENGERS: KREE/SKRULL WAR
  • AVENGERS BY JASON AARON VOL. 1: THE FINAL HOST
  • FANTASTIC FOUR VOL. 1: FOUREVER
  • BLACK WIDOW VOL. 1: S.H.I.E.L.D.’S MOST WANTED
  • CAPTAIN AMERICA: WINTER SOLDIER ULTIMATE
  • CAPTAIN MARVEL VOL. 1: HIGHER, FURTHER, FASTER, MORE

Customers on the Marvel Comics App and webstore as well as comiXology will also have free access to these stories for a limited time.

(12) MCU NEWS. Bradley Russell, in the Total Film Magazine story “Everything we know so far about Marvel Phase 4, including new MCU movie release dates and cast news” has a detailed listing of forthcoming release dates for MCU films, including the revised Black Widow release date and what’s happening with Marvel series coming to Disney Plus.

…The last current Marvel Phase 4 movie – and probably the most exciting. Thor: Love and Thunder is coming on November 6, 2021, and will almost definitely shock you with its big reveal: Jane Foster (Natalie Portman) is the new Thor (now officially called Mighty Thor). Just let that sink in for a moment.

(13) IN THE ISOLATION ZONE. In the Washington Post, Michael Cavna notes that, in the first episode of “The Twilight Zone,” Rod Serling spoke of “the barrier of loneliness” as he discusses the seven best Twilight Zone episodes that deal with loneliness and isolation. “Seven ‘Twilight Zone’ episodes that are eerily timely during the coronavirus pandemic”.

1. “Time Enough at Last”

One person’s mass-casualty event is another person’s opportunity to finally get a little reading done. Burgess Meredith plays the clerk who hides in his bank’s vault to enjoy a few page-turners. When that girded vault allows him to survive a nuclear attack, the clerk is left gloriously alone — just himself and stacks of books to happily devour. The twist, of course, is to watch his step — isolation isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

(14) TODAY’S THING TO WORRY ABOUT. The Guardian reports “Cats can infect each other with coronavirus, Chinese study finds”. (The study doesn’t show feline transmission to humans, however.)

Cat owners may wish to be more cautious about contact with their pets, as a study from China has revealed Covid-19 can be transmitted between cats.

(15) ORIGIN OF $PECIE$. David Quammen reviews three of the very many works about Darwin and his theories in “The Brilliant Plodder” at New York Review of Books.

…One lesson from all this is that Darwin’s name sells. A less mercantile way of viewing it is that Darwin’s name stands for what Daniel Dennett has called “the single best idea anyone has ever had,” and therefore serves as a portal to scientific and philosophical ruminations of vast depth and breadth. We can’t stop reading and talking about Darwin, 138 years after his death, because the great theory of which he was co-conceiver (with Alfred Russel Wallace) and chief propounder (in On the Origin of Species) was so big and startling and forceful, yet so unfinished when he died in 1882, that there’s always more work to do. We’re still trying to figure out how evolution by natural selection—Darwin’s dangerous idea, in Dennett’s phrase—applies to every aspect of life on Earth, from virulence in coronaviruses to human social behavior. 

(16) WE WERE NOT ALONE. “Three human-like species lived side-by-side in ancient Africa”.

Two million years ago, three different human-like species were living side-by-side in South Africa, a study shows.

The findings underline a growing understanding that the present-day situation, where one human species dominates the globe, may be unusual compared with the evolutionary past.

The new evidence comes from efforts to date bones uncovered at a cave complex near Johannesburg.

The research has been published in the journal Science.

The new work also revealed the earliest known example of Homo erectus, a species thought to be a direct ancestor of modern humans (Homo sapiens).

The three groups of hominins (human-like creatures) belonged to Australopithecus (the group made famous by the “Lucy” fossil from Ethiopia), Paranthropus and Homo – better known as humans.

Andy Herries, from LaTrobe University in Melbourne, Australia, and colleagues evaluated remains found at the Drimolen Cave Complex using three different scientific dating techniques: electron spin resonance, palaeomagnetism and uranium-lead dating.

(17) FOR THE FAN WHO HAS EVERYTHING. BBC has learned an online buyer has won an opportunity to launch a commercial rocket for 40 million yuan ($5.6m; £4.5m) in central China.

According to the official People’s Daily, popular online shopping platform Taobao live-streamed the sale of a commercial rocket yesterday evening.

The official China Daily said that the rocket was “a small launch vehicle” in the city of Wuhan, Hubei Province, which has already seen eight commercial launches.

Buyers were told that they could paint the body of the rocket and the launch platform, and that they could visit the launch site and control the launch.

Posters advertising the livestream, headed by celebrity shopping anchor Wei Ya, went viral on Wednesday 1 April, leading many to speculate they were part of an April Fools joke.

But national newspaper Global Times says that Taobao confirmed that “this is for real” in an online post.

(18) THEY LOST ON JEOPARDY! Andrew Porter knew what the contestants didn’t on tonight’s Jeopardy! But in this case, is that something to brag about?

Category: Movie Monsters.

Answer: “Based on a 1960 Hugo Award-winning novel, this movie starred Casper Van Dien & Denise Richards as soldiers fighting insect-like aliens.”

No one could ask, “What is ‘Starship Troopers’?”

(19) VIDEO OF THE DAY. Guitarist Mike Dawes won’t explain where his composition “William Shatner’s Pants” got its name, but it’s a good tune and an immortal title!

[Thanks to Dann, Cat Eldridge, Michael Toman, JJ, Chip Hitchcock, John King Tarpinian, Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, and Martin Morse Wooster for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Soon Lee.]

Pixel Scroll 3/18/20 How Many Files To Babylon? Fifth Score Files And Ten

(1) BELATED RECOGNITION. BBC explores “Why Octavia E. Butler’s novels are so relevant today”.

The visionary sci-fi author envisaged an alternate future that foresaw many aspects of life today, from big pharma to Trumpism. Now she has a cult following, writes Hephzibah Anderson.

It’s campaign season in the US, and a charismatic dark horse is running with the slogan ‘make America great again’. According to his opponent, he’s a demagogue; a rabble-rouser; a hypocrite. When his supporters form mobs and burn people to death, he condemns their violence “in such mild language that his people are free to hear what they want to hear”. He accuses, without grounds, whole groups of people of being rapists and drug dealers. How much of this rhetoric he actually believes and how much he spouts “just because he knows the value of dividing in order to conquer and to rule” is at once debatable, and increasingly beside the point, as he strives to return the country to a “simpler” bygone era that never actually existed.

You might think he sounds familiar – but the character in question is Texas Senator Andrew Steele Jarret, the fictional presidential candidate who storms to victory in a dystopian science-fiction novel titled Parable of the Talents. Written by Octavia E Butler, it was published in 1998, two decades before the inauguration of the 45th President of the United States.

…Fourteen years after her early death, Butler’s reputation is soaring. Her predictions about the direction that US politics would take, and the slogan that would help speed it there, are certainly uncanny. But that wasn’t all she foresaw. She challenged traditional gender identity, telling a story about a pregnant man in Bloodchild and envisaging shape-shifting, sex-changing characters in Wild Seed. Her interest in hybridity and the adaptation of the human race, which she explored in her Xenogenesis trilogy, anticipated non-fiction works by the likes of Yuval Noah Harari. Concerns about topics including climate change and the pharmaceutical industry resonate even more powerfully now than when she wove them into her work.

And of course, by virtue of her gender and ethnicity, she was striving to smash genre assumptions about writers – and readers – so ingrained that in 1987, her publisher still insisted on putting two white women on the jacket of her novel Dawn, whose main character is black. She also helped reshape fantasy and sci-fi, bringing to them naturalism as well as characters like herself. And when she won the prestigious MacArthur ‘genius’ grant in 1995, it was a first for any science-fiction writer.

(2) HOT WORDS ABOUT A COLD CLASSIC. The report in yesterday’s Scroll about Cora Buhlert’s takeoff on a classic, “The Cold Crowdfunding Campaign”, prompted Filers to remember Richard Harter’s epic analysis “The Cold Equations – A Critical Study” (thanks to Andrew for finding the Usenet link.)

… Science fiction has been described as a literature of ideas, a literary arena in which the idea is hero. This may well be true. Too often, however, it is a flawed literature of ideas, marked by shoddy treatments received with uncritical enthusiasm. The Cold Equations has been cited an instance of the “literature of ideas” at its best.

In the original article I argued that the story is no such thing but rather that it is an example of systemic blindness to morally obtuse assumptions. This argument is considered in detail below. Given that, one asks: Why is the story so ardently defended – and attacked? Why has the story made such an impression?…

(3) HITLER BACK ON SALE. Amazon admits it simply makes criticism-driven decisions – “Amazon Bans, Then Reinstates, Hitler’s ‘Mein Kampf’” – the New York Times has the story.

Amazon quietly banned Adolf Hitler’s manifesto “Mein Kampf” late last week, part of its accelerating efforts to remove Nazi and other hate-filled material from its bookstore, before quickly reversing itself.

The retailer, which controls the majority of the book market in the United States, is caught between two demands that cannot be reconciled. Amazon is under pressure to keep hate literature off its vast platform at a moment when extremist impulses seem on the rise. But the company does not want to be seen as the arbiter of what people are allowed to read, which is traditionally the hallmark of repressive regimes.

Booksellers that sell on Amazon say the retailer has no coherent philosophy about what it decides to prohibit, and seems largely guided by public complaints.

Over the last 18 months, it has dropped books by Nazis, the Nation of Islam and the American neo-Nazis David Duke and George Lincoln Rockwell. But it has also allowed many equally offensive books to continue to be sold.

(4) IN LIKE FINN. Camestros Felapton calls it “Perhaps the most significant story from a former Sad Puppy ever” – Declan Finn’s account of touring Italy with his wife when the coronavirus outbreak shut down the country. Camestros ends his I-read-it-so-you-don’t-have-to summary:

The short version therefore of how right wing blogs are reacting plays out in a personal level in Declan’s story. Initial scepticism and eagerness to carry on as if it is all a fuss over nothing which then collides with an escalating reality and blaming the government.

Not that you really ought to deny yourselves – Finn fits quite an epic in between requests for money and Dragon Award nominations.

…We went to the Al Italia counter and the moderately long line. It was processed quickly. We came to the counter.

“Americans?”

I showed her the passports. 

“No,” she said.

No? What do you mean no? Are you going to cancel our flight again? Am I going to have to leap across your sad, pathetic Corona rope line and throttle you into giving us a boarding pass out of this Hell hole? How much more ransom do we have to pay to get us out of here!

She took an abnormally long breath, thought about what she had to say next, and continued, “Other check in, around the corner.”

Whew. No manslaughter charges for me today…. 

While trying to get to their flight they stepped through the wrong door at the airport, ended up on the tarmac, and were corralled by security. Talk about the cold equations — for that violation Italian authorities slapped them with a 4000 euro fine, which is 4497.00 in US dollars. A friend has started a GoFundMe to try and help them recoup some of the money.

(5) WORKING AT HOME, LIKE USUAL. George R.R. Martin began his post “Strange Days” telling about how his theater and other ventures in Santa Fe are closed by the coronavirus outbreak, then gave his personal status:

For those of you who may be concerned for me personally… yes, I am aware that I am very much in the most vulnerable population, given my age and physical condition.   But I feel fine at the moment, and we are taking all sensible precautions.  I am off by myself in a remote isolated location, attended by one of my staff, and I’m not going in to town or seeing anyone.   Truth be told, I am spending more time in Westeros than in the real world, writing every day.   Things are pretty grim in the Seven Kingdoms… but maybe not as grim as they may become here.

Inverse took this to mean “Winds of Winter release finally back on track for one unexpected reason”.

 For now, we’re just excited to hear that George is back at work on The Winds of Winter (of course, it’s possible he’s referencing the script for the upcoming HBO prequel House of the Dragon, but that seems unlikely given the phrasing here).

Winds of Winter was originally scheduled for release in November 2018, but the book got delayed so Martin could focus on Fire & Blood, a “historical” account of House Targaryen that serves as the basis for House of the Dragon. Back in May 2019, he joked in a blog post that if he hadn’t finished the book by 2020 Worldcon New Zealand, he should be locked up on New Zealand’s White Island until he finished it.

In other words, Martin really wants to be done with Winds of Winter by the end of July when the annual conference takes place.

(6) HYPERFEASANCE. The Balticon committee was surprised when the Renaissance Baltimore Harborplace Hotel started sending out room cancellation notices before they could make an announcement.  On March 12, the Governor of Maryland established a ban, of indeterminate duration, on all gatherings of more than 250 people in response to the coronavirus outbreak. The con had been scheduled for May 22-24. The committee told Facebook readers:

After we shut down online registration over the weekend pending a conversation with the hotel, continuing developments with COVID-19 and discussions with the convention committee had convinced the Baltimore Science Fiction Society Board of Directors we likely needed to cancel the convention. However, we had not yet identified a process for doing that with minimal confusion, nor had we had a conversation with the hotel discussing the process. Today we learned that the hotel had started canceling registrations. We were as surprised as everyone else to hear about the canceled reservations and see that our reservations were getting canceled.

(7) NO ÅCON. Finland’s Acon 11 has been postponed:

…We could have waited, made the decision closer the convention, but honestly, having spent some weeks following the evolving situation, listening to epidemiologists and public officials in both Finland and Sweden, our conclusion is that the chances of the situation having stabilised in May seem very slim indeed. It’s not just a question of whether we would be legally permitted to hold the con in May, but whether we could do it in a responsible manner.

We need to spare everyone involved the unnecessary work and costs. Adlon, our hotel, will take a financial hit. We need to let them know and plan. We want to avoid our members paying for non-refundable travel at a time when the committee don’t believe it will be possible to arrange a convention.

Fortunately, we have few costs we can’t recoup. …

The con was to have been held May 21-24 in Mariehamn.

(8) A DREAMER ROLE. Trans actress Nicole Maines, who plays Nia Nal, aka Dreamer, on Supergirl, was interviewed by SYFY Wire. “Supergirl’s Nicole Maines tells us why Dreamer is more than just a trans character”.

Supergirl is not known for its subtlety. Aliens in the show are a thinly veiled metaphor for immigrants, LGBTQ people, and “others.” The current story arc is coming to a head with the Agent Liberty storyline, in which a TV personality rises through the ranks of government thanks to his anti-alien rhetoric — which sounds familiar, even his real-world equivalent doesn’t have Lex Luthor providing him with fancy gear.

That said, the show is remarkably subtle about a milestone it reached last year: Supergirl features TV’s first openly transgender superhero, Dreamer. Rather than make Nia/Dreamer’s trans-ness a huge deal, after she came out as transgender, the other characters matter-of-factly accepted her, and it never became an issue….

(9) WORDEN OBIT. Astronaut Al Worden died March 17 at the age of 88 reports Florida Today.

“We remember this pioneer whose work expanded our horizons,” NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said in a statement.

Worden was one of only 24 people to have flown to the moon. He was also the first astronaut to conduct a deep-space extravehicular activity, or EVA, during Apollo 15’s return to Earth in 1971.

During the mission, he orbited the moon dozens of times while astronauts David Scott and James Irwin explored the surface.

(10) TODAY IN HISTORY.

  • March 18, 1981 The Greatest American Hero premiered on ABC. Created by producer Stephen J. Cannell, the series features William Katt, Robert Culp and Connie Sellecca.  It had  to fight off lawsuits from the owners of the Superman copyright who thought the concept and look of the suit was too close to their product.  After that, a real Mr. Hinckley tried on March 30th of that year to assassinate President Reagan, so scripts involving protagonist Ralph Hinkley had to be rewritten to be named Ralph Hanley (or sometimes just “Mr.H”).  You can see the pilot here. And yes, it’s up legally courtesy of the copyright holders.

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born March 18, 1888 Alexander Leydenfrost. As an illustrator, he briefly worked for Planet Stories before being signed by Life magazine where the money was better. But his quite brief tenure at Planet Stories is credited with the creation of the enduring cliché Bug Eyed Monster as that’s what his illustrations showed. (Died 1961.)
  • Born March 18, 1926 Peter Graves. Star of Mission Impossible and the short lived Australian-based Mission Impossible which if you not seen it, you should as it’s damn good. I’m reasonably certain his first genre role was on Red Planet Mars playing Chris Cronyn. Later roles included Gavin Lewis on The Invaders, Major Noah Cooper on Buck Rogers in the 25th Century, Doug Paul Martin in Killers from Space and Paul Nelson on It Conquered the World. It’s worth noting that a number of his films are featured on Mystery Science Theater 3000 series. (Died 2010.)
  • Born March 18, 1932 John Updike. It might surprise you to learn that there are two Eastwick novels, The Witches of Eastwick and The Widows of Eastwick, the latter set some three decades after the first novel ended. He wrote a number of other genre friendly novels including The CentaurBrazil and Toward the End of Time. (Died 2009.)
  • Born March 18, 1950 J. G. Hertzler, 70. He’s best known for his role on Deep Space Nine as the Klingon General (and later Chancellor) Martok. He co-authored with Jeff Lang, Left Hand of Destiny, Book 1, and Left Hand of Destiny, Book 2, which chronicle the life of his character. His very TV first role was a genre one, to wit on Quantum Leap as Weathers Farrington in the “Sea Bride – June 3, 1954” episode. Setting aside DS9, he’s been in ZorroHighlanderThe Adventures of Brisco County, Jr.Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of SupermanLois & Clark: The New Adventures of SupermanCharmedRoswell and Enterprise series;  for film genre work, I see The Redeemer: Son of SatanTreasure Island: The Adventure Begins and Prelude to Axanar (yet another piece of fanfic). In addition, he’s done a lot of video game voice acting, the obvious Trek work but such franchises as BioShock 2The Golden Compass and Injustice: Gods Among Us. 
  • Born March 18, 1959 Luc Besson, 61. Oh, The Fifth Element, one of my favorite genre films. There’s nothing about it that I don’t like. I’ve not seen Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets and reviews leave me disinclined to do so. The Transporter is not genre but I recommend it as a great film none the less. 
  • Born March 18, 1960 Richard Biggs. He appeared as Dr. Stephen Franklin on Babylon 5, reprising the role in the final aired episode of Crusade, “Each Night I Dream of Home”. Other genre roles included playing Roger Garrett on Tremors, Hawkes In The Alien Within, An Unnamed Reporter on Beauty and the Beast,  Dr. Thomson on an episode of The Twilight Zone and a Process Server in an episode of The Magical World of Disney. (Died 2004.)
  • Born March 18, 1961 James Davis Nicoll, 59. A freelance game and genre reviewer. A first reader for SFBC as well. Currently he’s a blogger on Dreamwidth and Facebook, and an occasional columnist on Tor.com. In 2014, he started his website, jamesdavisnicoll.com, which is dedicated to his book reviews of works old and new; and which later added the highly entertaining Young People Read Old SFF, where that group read prior to Eighties SF and fantasy, and Nicoll and his collaborators comment on the their reactions.
  • Born March 18, 1973 Max Barry, 37. He’s written a number of novels of which I’ve read his superb dystopian Jennifer Government and Machine Man when it was online serial. His newest is Providence which sounds fascinating though his book tour in the US got canceled he notes on his blog. 

(12) CRUSADING FOR A CAPE. The Guardian’s “80 years of Robin: the forgotten history of the most iconic sidekick” is really a call for the character to be written as a woman again – and reminds fans that it wouldn’t be the first time.

….Why we’ve not had more female Robins – or better served ones – is a symptom of a much wider problem. Of the 11 writers announced as contributing to DC’s anniversary issue for Robin, only two are women: Devin Grayson and Amy Wolfram. Between January and March last year, women accounted for 16% of the credits on comics released by DC; of writers, only 13% were women. The studio celebrated 80 years of Batman last year, but in that time not a single woman has been at the helm of Batman or Detective Comics. Aside from Grayson’s work on Nightwing and Gotham Knights, no female writer has ever written a Batman series. Given how many women are working on Batgirl, Catwoman and Batwoman, it would seem they are restricted to writing female heroes.

(13) A VERY SERIOUS QUESTION. This will make some folks cranky. Tom Morton asks “Avenue 5: Why Is Sci-Fi Comedy So Unfunny?” at Frieze.

… Given the impregnable humourlessness of most sci-fi – from the rigorously logical ‘hard sf’ of the novelist Isaac Asimov’s Foundation trilogy (1951–53) to the dreamy vision of Andrei Tarkovsky’s film Solaris (1972) – the genre’s tropes should be an open goal for the comic imagination. Why, then, do so many sci-fi themed comedies fail to raise a smile? Partly, it’s that parody, as a form, is hard to sustain – witness Seth Macfarlane’s television series The Orville (2017–20), a directionless send-up of Star Trek (1966–69), or Mel Brooks’s movie Spaceballs (1987), a staggering unfunny Star Wars (1977) take-off. Comparatively better were the first two seasons of British sitcom Red Dwarf (1988–2017). Drawing on the aesthetic of John Carpenter’s slackers-in-space movie, Dark Star (1974), the show centred initially on a classic odd-couple relationship between the last human in existence, a warm-hearted scouse wastrel, and his foil, an uptight, socially ambitious hologram. However, when Red Dwarf’s popularity and budget increased, it fell into two traps familiar to makers of ‘straight’ on-screen sci-fi: an overreliance on special effects and (fatally) a fan-servicing emphasis on the lore of its own fictional universe, which destroyed any tension that once existed between the show’s ‘situation’ and its ‘comedy’.

(14) CAN YOU DIG IT? Gizmodo says things are looking up for a NASA Mars probe: “And Now for Some Good News: The Mars InSight Heat Flow Probe Is Digging Again”.

…But the probe faced trouble on deployment. Impeded by an unexpectedly crusty soil texture that didn’t generate enough friction for the probe to dig, it only made it down to around a foot and a half. 

(15) JEOPARDY! Some of tonight’s Jeopardy! contestants didn’t get these sff references. (Honestly, I’d have missed all three myself.)

Category: Places in Fantasy

Answer: The name of this 2-word ancestral dwelling in Tolkien is a play on the translation of the French “cul-de-sac”.

Wrong question: “What is Middle Earth?”

Correct question: “What is Bag End?”


Answer: Much of the action in the “files” of this guy, the city’s resident practicing professional Wizard, takes place in Chicago.

No one could ask, “Who is Harry Dresden?”


Answer: In Bill Willingham’s graphic novels, Bigby, this foe of Rising Hood, is the sheriff of Fabletown.

Wrong question: “What is Nottingham?”

Correct question: “What is The Big Bad Wolf?”

(16) FUN WITH YOUR NEW HEAD. Will you be The One? An interview with the CEO of Valve: “Gabe Newell: ‘We’re way closer to The Matrix than people realize'”.

“The area that I’m spending a lot of time on has been growing out of a bunch of research that occurred a while ago on brain-computer interfaces,” Newell said. “I think that that’s kind of long lead stuff, so that’s kind of the background thread that I get pulled back into when other things aren’t demanding my attention.”

Human brains can already communicate with computers directly, though in very limited ways compared to the sci-fi systems of The Matrix or William Gibson’s Neuromancer, where physical reality can be totally replaced with a simulated, virtual one. But Newell doesn’t think that kind of sci-fi tech is as far off as it might seem.

“We’re way closer to The Matrix than people realize,” Newell said. “It’s not going to be The Matrix—The Matrix is a movie and it misses all the interesting technical subtleties and just how weird the post-brain-computer interface world is going to be. But it’s going to have a huge impact on the kinds of experiences we can create for people.”

(17) I CAN GET A WITNESS. A participant remembers “Launching the Hubble Space Telescope: ‘Our window into the Universe'” – video.

In 1990 the Hubble Space Telescope was launched, putting into orbit one of the most remarkable scientific instruments that has ever existed.

But initially the mission ran into problems, including a flawed mirror that meant the first images from Hubble were blurry.

Nasa astronaut Kathryn Sullivan was one of the five crew members who launched the Hubble.

(18) IT’S A BIRD. Free range dino — “Fossil ‘wonderchicken’ could be earliest known fowl”.

A newly discovered fossil bird could be the earliest known ancestor of every chicken on the planet.

Living just before the asteroid strike that wiped out giant dinosaurs, the unique fossil, from about 67 million years ago, gives a glimpse into the dawn of modern birds.

Birds are descended from dinosaurs, but precisely when they evolved into birds like the ones alive today has been difficult to answer.

This is due to a lack of fossil data.

The newly discovered – and well-preserved – fossil skull should help fill in some of the gaps.

“This is a unique specimen: we’ve been calling it the ‘wonderchicken’,” said Dr Daniel Field of the University of Cambridge.

“It’s the only nearly complete skull of a modern bird that we have, so far, from the age of dinosaurs and it’s able to tell us quite a lot about the early evolutionary history of birds.”

(19) TUB THUMPING. Don’t miss the Special “Social Distancing” Edition of The Late Show.

If you’re watching this from home right now, you’re doing the right thing. If you’re watching it from your bathtub bunker like our host, please remember to save some hot water for the rest of us. Either way, we’re glad you’re with us. So stay hunkered down and please enjoy this episode of The Lather Show with Scrubbin’ Colbath!

[Thanks to Michael Toman, John King Tarpinian, JJ, Chip Hitchcock, Iphinome, Cat Eldridge, Andrew Porter, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, Contrarius, and Michael J. Walsh for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Jayn.]

Pixel Scroll 3/17/20 Let’s Build Robots With Genuine Pixel Personalities, They Said

(1) SPRNG THAW. Book borrowers cheer as Publishers Weekly reports “Macmillan Abandons Library E-book Embargo”.

In a surprise announcement today, Macmillan abandoned its controversial embargo on new release e-books in libraries, effective this week.

“There are times in life when differences should be put aside,” reads a brief memo from Macmillan CEO John Sargent addressed to librarians, authors, illustrators, and agents. “Effective on Friday (or whenever thereafter our wholesalers can effect the change), Macmillan will return to the library e-book pricing model that was in effect on October 31st, 2019. In addition, we will be lowering some e-book prices on a short term basis to help expand libraries collections in these difficult times. Stay safe.”

A Macmillan spokesperson confirmed that the removal of the embargo covers all titles, including new release Tor titles (which were technically still under a “test” embargo on October 31, 2019).

The news comes as libraries across the nation are (or soon will be) closing down their physical locations in an attempt to slow the outbreak of Covid-19….

(2) MORE NON-CORONA NEWS. The South China Morning Post has the story: “Xiao Zhan scandal – why millions of Chinese shoppers boycotted Piaget, Cartier and Estée Lauder because of homoerotic idol fan fiction”.

Things escalated quickly after A03’s takedown. Enraged by Xiao fans’ censorship plot, millions of free speech activists began boycotting the dozens of brands Xiao campaigns for, including Estée Lauder, Piaget and Qeelin. But they’ve gone further than the usual boycott by promoting competitors of Xiao-promoted brands, crashing Xiao-sponsored brands’ customer service lines, and pressuring those brands to end their collaborations with Xiao. So far, the Chinese Weibo hashtag #BoycottXiaoZhan has exceeded 3,450,000 posts and 260 million views.

.. But the idol economy has a sinister side. In the Chinese model of idol adoration, fans are the ones in control of the idol’s reputation and commercial worth – not the idol. And since fan communities are so actively involved in their idol’s brand sponsorships, it also falls on them to attack brands that they perceive to be opposing their idol’s interests.

(3) FUN STORY. A wonderful spin on a beleaguered classic: Cora Buhlert’s “The Cold Crowdfunding Campaign” begins –

Save the Girl and Save Me From Having to Toss Her Out of the Airlock

Organised by Captain C. Barton

Started on August 4, 2178, 08:48     Category: Accidents and emergencies

My name is Barton and I’m the pilot of an EDS (Emergency Dispatch Ship) currently en route to the frontier world of Woden to deliver some desperately needed medical supplies.

I have a problem, because I just discovered a stowaway aboard my ship, an eighteen-year-old girl named Marilyn Lee Cross. Upon questioning, Marilyn explained that her brother Gerry works on Woden as part of the government survey crew. She wants to visit him and since there is no regular passenger traffic to Woden because of the current medical crisis, she snuck aboard my ship…..

(4) WINDY CITY PULP CON POSTPONED. Chicago’s Windy City Pulp and Paper Convention, originally set for next month, has been rescheduled to September 11-13.

On March 16, 2020, Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker mandated that social gatherings of 50 or more people be cancelled for the next eight weeks.  Given other recent developments in the Covid-19 crisis, we anticipated that some sort of ban might be imposed that would make it impossible to hold our convention at its scheduled time in April, 2020.  Out of concern for the health of our extended family of attendees, dealers and staff, for the past week we had been working with our hotel — the Westin Lombard Yorktown Center in Lombard, Illinois — to attempt to reschedule our convention.  

We can now announce that we’ve just reached an agreement to postpone the convention to September 11-13, 2020. The location of the convention remains the same, and we thank the fine folks at the Westin Lombard for working with us to make this change….

More information about memberships and hotel reservations at the link.

(5) EDGAR AWARDS. Mystery Writers of America have cancelled the Edgar Awards event planned for April 30: “Edgar Week Events – Update”. How the awards will be announced is under discussion.

It is with heavy heart that we have to let you know we are cancelling both the Edgar Awards banquet and the symposium.

All bars and restaurants have been closed in New York City due to the pandemic (other than for delivery and pick-up), and The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released a statement on Sunday urging people to cancel or postpone all events bringing together 50 or more people for the next eight weeks, including weddings. “Large events and mass gatherings can contribute to the spread of COVID-19 in the United States via travelers who attend these events and introduce the virus to new communities,” the CDC said on their website. “Examples of large events and mass gatherings include conferences, festivals, parades, concerts, sporting events, weddings, and other types of assemblies.

This year is the 75th anniversary of MWA; our Edgar week festivities were to be a celebration of that anniversary.

But the health, safety, and well-being of our nominees, guests, members and the hotel staff have to be paramount, and it is not in anyone’s best interest that we go forward with the festivities.

(6) LEPRECON LOSES GOH. At the moment LepreCon 46 is still scheduled for April 10-12 in Chandler, Arizona, however, one of their guests of honor has stepped down. A decision about the con’s future is coming this week.

LepreCon has had some participant cancellations, most notably our Author Guest of Honor, Robert McCammon, who lives in Alabama. He stated: “I’ve gone back and forth on this, and back and forth again, and unfortunately I feel the need to cancel my appearance at LepreCon. I hate to do this because I’d been looking forward to the con and also because never before in my life have I said I would be somewhere and not shown up… but in all honesty I just don’t feel confident in traveling right now and am uncertain of what another month may bring.”

We are restricted in our decision to postpone or cancel Leprecon 46 by our contract with the hotel. We must work in conjunction with them to come up with a solution, since Governor Ducey & ADHS haven’t yet prohibited all public gatherings. We will speak with them Monday to begin the process of determining whether the convention can be postponed or canceled. A decision will be announced by the end of the week.

(7) NO LAST DANCE IN LOUISVILLE. It was going to be the last con in a series that started a decade ago, but now ConGlomeration won’t be taking place. The Louisville, Kentucky fan event was planned for April 10-12.

All good things, as they say, must come to an end. And so it comes to ConGlomeration.

In accordance with current COVID-19 safety recommendations, as well as local, state, and federal mandates, and to ensure the health and well-being of our membership, the Convention Committee has elected to cancel our final ConGlomeration

For those asking why we are cancelling, rather than merely postponing, we simply have no idea if or when a suitable replacement date and venue would become available. We cannot hold our guests, staff, or resources in limbo for an indeterminate amount of time. And, as this was our final convention, we have no “next year” to simply “roll over” this year’s plans and people into.

So, rather than “see you later,” we must instead say “goodbye.”

(8) COMIC RELIEF. Courtesy of George Takei.

(9) BACK TO THE BAD NEWS. Mark George R.R. Martin’s Jean Cocteau Cinema closed, too. The Santa Fe, NM theater posted this “Important Announcement”.

To our Jean Cocteau & Beastly Books Supporters:

We like to keep our community as informed as we can. We regret to say that we have decided to close the Jean Cocteau Cinema for a month starting 03/17 and hope to reopen on 04/15. TBD. The Jean Cocteau Cinema is fortunate enough to continue to pay our employees for the interim….

(10) LIBRARIANS’ DAY RECALENDARED. Horror Writers of America have moved HWA Librarians’ Day to November 12, 2020. The Naperville, IL event is another casualty of coronavirus restrictions.

(11) WHITMAN OBIT. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] Actor Stuart Whitman has died at the age of 92. Whitman was probably best known for his work in action, war, and western films, but did have some genre roles, the first being an uncredited appearance in When Worlds Collide (1951).

Perhaps most notable were 10 episodes as Jonathan Kent scattered across 4 seasons of the 80s/90s TV series Superboy Other genre and adjacent TV work included seven episodes of Fantasy Island (as different characters), plus episodes on more than a half-dozen other shows including Night Gallery and Tales from the Dark Side

He appeared in sf and horror movies such as Omega Cop, Deadly Intruder, Vultures, Invaders of the Lost Gold, The Monster Club, Demonoid, The Cat Creature, and City Beneath the Sea.

(12) 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. She’s readily available at the usual digital suspects. (Died 1901.)
  • Born March 17, 1906 Brigitte Helm. German actress, Metropolis. Her first role as an actress, she played two roles, Maria and her double, the Maschinenmensch, plus several uncredited roles as well.  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, 75. 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 which starred 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, 73. 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, 72. 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 RecognitionSpook Country and Zero History. I’ve tried all of them, none were appealing. Eh? 
  • Born March 17, 1949 Patrick Duffy, 71. 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, 69. 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 and he’s fantastic in it. 

(13) COMICS SECTION.

  • About today’s Wallace the Brave Rich Horton commented, “I’m just surprised he didn’t wear a propeller beanie!”

(14) BEYOND 404. Bleeding Cool tells about a new comedy that’s on the way — “’Upload’: Your Afterlife Depends on Your Wi-Fi Strength in Greg Daniels’ Upcoming Amazon Prime Comedy Series”.

If we’re reading things correctly, Greg Daniels‘ (The Office, Space Force) new comedy series Upload for Amazon Prime Video makes the case that the future of your afterlife may depend on how strong your Wi-Fi signal is. At least that’s the premise vibe were getting from the 10-episode series, which includes an ensemble cast fronted by The Flash alum Robbie Amell and Andy Allo (Pitch Perfect 3, The Hero) and a debut date of May 1 for the streaming service….

(15) SPACE COLLECTIBLE. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] Kickstarter: “DeskSpace: Lunar Surface“. Inspired by the Apollo 11 lunar landing, this Kickstarter project is selling a detailed replica landscape of part of the Moon’s surface. 

Made from “jewelry grade concrete,“ they plan to make it available in two sizes — roughly 7” (180 mm) square & roughly 4“ (100 mm) square. Introductory pledge levels – which are about to run out – are about 75 & 99 US dollars respectively. (Actual pledges appear to be in HK$.)

For a bit more, they’ll sell you the entire solar system.

(16) POMP AND MINECRAFT CIRCUMSTANCES. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] SoraNews24: “Japanese students hold graduation ceremony in Minecraft amid school cancellation”. Tagline: “As usual, kids are way ahead of adults.”

Japanese schools have been closed for over two weeks now due to coronavirus quarantine, and they will remain closed until after spring vacation.

Because the Japanese school year ends in March and begins in April, for many students this closing period means that they will miss their graduation ceremonies. Whether they’re leaving elementary school, middle school, or high school, it’s a sad feeling for them to go out with a whimper instead of a bang.

But some creative elementary school graduates in Japan came up with a great workaround. If they couldn’t have a graduation ceremony at school, then why not have one digitally in a place they all meet often anyway… in Minecraft!

(17) SUPPORT YOUR LOCAL CRITTER. At Dogpatch Press, Patch O’Furr has an animal-centric post about the plague, with a side order of furry con fraud. “Good news! Doggos won’t make you vom-o — and more to know about a zoonotic pandemic.”

Need something wholesome for a time like this?  Investigation found no reason to fear that people might catch COVID-19 from dogs. That’s good for me and my chihuahua child. No more worry about going “aww” for little sneezes!

(18) COMBAT NEWS AFFECTED DISORDER. Kristine Kathryn Rusch is running a “March Sadness Special” which includes the offer of a couple free books to people signing up for a newsletter.

The last week has been…well, a year in stress and changes and everything else. I’ve been blogging about it to help people through the changes. Those blogs are currently on Patreon, but will hit here, starting tomorrow night.

It’s becoming increasingly clear that people worldwide are staying home. Inside. With computers and streaming and books to keep them occupied.

Last week, Allyson of WMG, Dean, and I discussed a way to provide weekly content to readers and writers. The Stay At Home And Chill Newsletter will tell you about deals and discounts...and if you sign up now, you’ll get two free books to help you relax through this crisis.

[Thanks to Doug Ellis, John King Tarpinian, Andrew Porter, Cat Eldridge, JJ, Martin Morse Wooster, Mike Kennedy, Michael Toman, Camestros Felapton, Brian Z., Patch O’Furr, Dann, and Chip Hitchcock for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Brian Z.]

Pixel Scroll 2/26/20 The Scroll Goes Ever On And On, Down From The Pixel Where It Began

(1) AT LONG LAST. “‘Last and First Men’ Exclusive Trailer: Jóhann Jóhannsson’s Gorgeous First and Last Directorial Feature”

One the most emotional world premieres at the upcoming 2020 Berlin International Film Festival is bound to be “Last and First Men,” the directorial feature debut of the late Icelandic composer Jóhann Jóhannsson. The musician died in February 2018 at the age of 48 amid an acclaimed career that saw him score back-to-back Oscar nominations for Best Original Score in 2015 and 2016 thanks to his work on “The Theory of Everything” and “Sicario.” The latter was one of several collaborations between Jóhannsson and Denis Villeneuve. Jóhannsson’s other score credits include Villeneuve’s “Prisoners” and “Arrival,” plus “Mandy” and “The Mercy.” Jóhannsson served as a mentor to Hildur Guðnádottir, who recently won the Oscar for her “Joker” original score.

Jóhannsson’s only directorial feature, “Last and First Men” is an adaptation of his touring multimedia project of the same name. The movie — shot on 16mm black-and-white film with “Victoria” and “Rams” cinematographer Sturla Brandth Grøvlen — played in concert halls, accompanied by Jóhannsson’s score with a live orchestra. The feature film playing at Berlin includes the composer’s original score and narration from Tilda Swinton….

The Hollywood Reporter’s review of the film has this to say — 

Long considered one of the most unfilmable classics of science fiction, Last And First Men has been adapted to the screen by Oscar-nominated Icelandic composer Johann Johannsson. The results are being lauded as “dazzling” and “visionary. This might be one of the films I’m most anticipating this year. 

“Halfway between fiction and documentary, Last and First Men is a visionary work about the final days of humankind that stretches the audience’s ability to imagine not only an immense time frame reaching over billions of years, but huge steps in human evolution.”

(2) SOCIAL MEDIA NEVER FAILS TO GET WORSE. A Twitter thread contends Bronys (My Little Pony fandom) has been co-opted by white nationalists. Wootmaster’s thread starts here. Warning about the images, which is why the tweets are not fully reproduced here.

For many years the pony fandom has been a decidedly neutral, “apolitical” one. Even with its origins on 4chan, there was a sort of innocence and naivete that pervaded the fandom, and even the internet as a whole. Hell, even the 4chan of 2010 hardly resembled the 4chan of today….

Then in 2016 something happened that would transform both 4chan and the fandom forever, even if most bronies wouldn’t realize it for years. The polarization of politics reached its peak with the election of Donald Trump. Right-wing populism entered its heyday, with 4chan in tow….

Only a year later another event happened, almost in tandem with the first. For April Fool’s 2017 4chan’s then admin moot thought it’d be hilarious to combine several boards together. As a cheap joke, he combined My Little Pony and the political board into one entity. /mlpol/…

It was supposed to be a joke. The two communities should have hated each other. A fandom of full of guys who idolized a girl’s cartoon show, and community of far-right fascists LARPers who idolized hitler and wanted to massacre jews. But a strange thing happened. They got along.

(3) BRADBURY POSTERS. Three poster sets are being published by the Ray Bradbury Experience Museum (RBEM) through an Illinois Humanities grant. The poster sets are free for schools, libraries, and other public display.

Poster Set 1 currently available now: “How did I get from Waukegan to Red Planet Mars?” highlights places named for Ray Bradbury in Waukegan, Hollywood, on the Moon and, yes, even on Mars. Click here for full information.  Sets 2 and 3 will be available this spring.

How To Obtain   Download Poster Set 1 below! Limited additional poster sets are available. For more information, contact us or email terry@rbemuseum.org.

(4) MOOSE & SQUIRREL BACK IN TOWN. The City of West Hollywood will celebrate the permanent installation of the “Rocky & Bullwinkle” statue on the Sunset Strip at the intersection of Sunset Boulevard and Holloway Drive on March 28 at 10:00 a.m. “Rocky & Bullwinkle” Statue Unveiling.  Los Angeles Magazine traced the history of the icon last August: “WeHo Has Strong Feelings About a Rotating Moose Returning to the Sunset Strip”

He’s 14 feet tall, 700 pounds and, some would say, a bit of an icon.

A beloved spinning statue of Bullwinkle holding his friend Rocky was first installed outside Jay Ward Productions’ animations studios on the Sunset Strip in 1961, across the street from the Chateau Marmont. Meant to parody a twirling showgirl advertising the Sahara Hotel, Bullwinkle’s outfit would change colors whenever hers did, injecting a dose of silliness and whimsy into the Strip’s capitalist jousting.

The statue was hoisted away in 2013 to the lament of neighbors and fans, many of whom made their voices heard at a recent, bizarre West Hollywood city council meeting. The night’s agenda? Re-anointing the moose on a traffic island where Holloway and Sunset meet….

(5) CUSSLER OBIT. Dirk Pitt’s creator author Clive Cussler, who also funded searches for historic wrecks, died February 24. The New York Times traces his career: “Clive Cussler, Best-Selling Author and Adventurer, Is Dead at 88”.  (The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction has an entry about his work here.)

… Despite an improbable plot and negative reviews, “Raise the Titanic!” sold 150,000 copies, was a Times best seller for six months and became a 1980 film starring Richard Jordan and Jason Robards Jr.

While Dirk Pitt books appeared throughout his career, Mr. Cussler also wrote other series: “The NUMA Files,” featuring the hero Kurt Austin and written with Graham Brown or Paul Kemprecos; “The Fargo Adventures,” about husband-and-wife treasure hunters, written with Grant Blackwood or Thomas Perry; “The Oregon Files,” set on a high-tech spy ship disguised as a freighter, written with Jack DuBrul or Mr. Dirgo; and “The Isaac Bell Adventures,” about an early-20th-century detective, written with Justin Scott.

…With Mr. Cussler leading expeditions and joining dives, the organization eventually located some 60 wrecks. Among them were the Cunard steamship Carpathia, first to reach survivors of the lost Titanic on April 15, 1912, then itself sunk by German torpedoes off Ireland in 1918; Commodore Cornelius Vanderbilt’s coastal steamer Lexington, which caught fire and went down in Long Island Sound in 1840; and Manassas, the Confederacy’s first Civil War ironclad, sunk in battle in the Lower Mississippi in 1862.

(6) TODAY’S DAY.

What were once oral histories, myths, and legends retold around the fire or by traveling storytellers, have been written down and become known the world over as fairy tales.

The origins of most fairy tales were unseemly and would not be approved or rated as appropriate for children by the Association of Fairy Tales by today’s standards. Most were told as a way to make children behave, teach a lesson or pass the time much like ghost stories around a campfire today.

Many of the stories have some basis in truth. For example, some believe the story of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs is inspired by the real-life of Margarete von Waldeck, the daughter of the 16th century Count of Waldeck. The area of Germany where the family lived was known for mining. Some of the tunnels were so tight they had to use children – or small people such as dwarfs – to work the mines.

(7) TODAY IN HISTORY.

  • February 26, 1988 The Alien From L.A. premiered. directed by Albert Pyun. It was produced by Menahem Golan and Yoram Globus from a story written  by Regina Davis,  Albert Pyun and Debra Ricci.  It starred Kathy Ireland in what was supposed to be a break-out role for her. William Mose and Richard Haines also had lead roles with the latter playing Arnold Saknussemm, a reference to Arne Saknussemm in Verne’s Journey to the Center of the Earth. How it was received is best judged by it being featured in an episode of Mystery Science Theater 3000. Band the audience rating at Rotten Tomatoes is 4%.  You can see it here.
  • February 26, 1977 Doctor Who’s “The Talons Of Weng-Chiang, Part 1” first aired. It featured Tom Baker, one of the most liked of all the actors who’ve played The Doctor, and Leela, the archetypal savage that British Empire both adored and despised, played by Louise Jameson. The villain was most likely a not accidental take-off of Fu Manchu. You can see the first part here with links to the rest of the story there as well. 

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born February 26, 1921 Bill Evans. First Fandom member who wrote a number of important works, With Bob Pavlat, Evans edited/published the Evans-Pavlat Fanzine Index during the Fifties which he followed up with Index of Science Fiction Magazines 1926 – 1948 that Bob Petersen co-wrote. With Francis T. Laney, Evans published Howard Philips Lovecraft (1890-1937): A Tentative Bibliography. His final work was with Ron Ellik, The Universes of E. E. Smith. (Died 1985.)
  • Born February 26, 1918 Theodore Sturgeon. Damn, I hadn’t realized that he’d only written six novels! More Than Human is brilliant and I assumed that he’d written a lot more long form fiction but it was short form where he excelled with more than two hundred such stories. I did read over the years a number of his reviews — he was quite good at it. (Died 1985.) 
  • Born February 26, 1945 Marta Kristen, 75. Kristen is best known for her role as Judy Robinson, one of Professor John and Maureen Robinson’s daughters, in Lost in Space. And yes, I watched the entire series. Good stuff it was. She has a cameo in the Lost in Space film as Reporter Number One. None of her other genre credits are really that interesting, just the standard stuff you’d expect such as an appearance on The Man from U.N.C.L.E. and Alfred Hitchcock Presents
  • Born February 26, 1948 Sharyn McCrumb, 72. ISFDB lists all of her Ballad novels as genre but that’s a wee bit deceptive as how genre strong they are depends upon the novel. Oh, Nora Bonesteel, she who sees Death, is in every novel but only some novels such as the Ghost Riders explicitly contain fantasy elements.  If you like mysteries, all of them are highly recommended.  Now the Jay Omega novels, Bimbos of the Death Sun and Zombies of the Gene Pool are genre, are great fun and well worth reading. They are in print which is interesting as I know she took out of print for awhile.
  • Born February 26, 1957 John Jude Palencar, 63. Illustrator whose artwork graces over a hundred genre covers. In my collection, he’s on the covers of de Lint’s The Onion Girl and Forests of the Heart (one of my top ten novels of SFF), Priest’s Four & Twenty Blackbirds and Le Guin’s Tehanu: The Last Book of EarthseaOrigins: The Art of John Jude Palencar is a perfect look at his work and marvelous eye candy as well. 
  • Born February 26, 1963 Chase Masterson, 57. Fans are fond of saying that she spent five years portraying the Bajoran Dabo entertainer Leeta on Deep Space Nine which means she was in the background of Quark’s bar a lot though she hardly had lines. Her post-DS9 genre career is pretty much non-existent save one-off appearances on Sliders, the current incarnation of The Flash and Star Trek: Of Gods and Men, a very unofficial Tim Russ project. She has done some voice work for Big Finish Productions as of late. The series features as Vienna Salvatori, an “impossibly glamorous bounty hunter” as the publicity material puts it. 
  • Born February 26, 1965 Liz Williams, 55. For my money, her best writing by far is her Detective Inspector Chen series about the futuristic Chinese city Singapore Three, its favourite paranormal police officer Chen and his squabbles with Heaven and Hell. I’ve read most of them and recommend them highly. I’m curious to see what else y’all have read of her and suggest that I read.
  • Born February 26, 1977 Ingrid Oliver, 43. She’s played the rare secondary character in the Who verse who had a recurring presence as she was around for quite awhile and I’m going to let Doctor Who Online tell her tale: “She appeared in the 50th anniversary special of Doctor Who, ‘The Day of The Doctor’, as Osgood. She was seen wearing the Fourth Doctor’s iconic scarf. In November 2014 she appeared again as Osgood in the series finale of Peter Capaldi’s first series, dressed as The Doctor, this time mimicking Matt Smith’s 11th Doctor (shirt and red bow tie) as well as David Tennant’s 10th Doctor (blue trousers and red Converse shoes) as they faced the Cybermen, where she is vaporized by Missy.” 

(9) SCALING UP. George R.R. Martin is delighted by this news about “Real Life Prehistoric Dragons”.

This is really too cool.

A new genus of pteradon has been discovered, and named after the dragons of House Targaryen.

https://www.iflscience.com/plants-and-animals/soaring-dragonlike-dinosaur-named-for-game-of-thrones-house-targaryen/

I am delighted, needless to say.   Especially by the kind words of the discoverer, paleontologist Rodrigo Pegas, who is solidly on my side about dragons having two legs, not four, and pfui on those medieval heralds with their wyvern talk.

(10) ACQUISITION NEWS. Riverdale Avenue Books has acquired the assets of sff publisher Circlet Press, which specializes in science fiction erotica. They will continue to publish Circlet’s over 170-title catalog under a new Circlet imprint. Founder Cecilia Tan will remain on staff to edit upcoming titles.

Cecilia Tan. Photo by and © Andrew Porter

(11) NOT-SO-HIDDEN FIGURE. “This NASA Engineer Is Bringing Math And Science To Hip Hop” — transcript of NPR’s interview.

… DAJAE WILLIAMS: Mmm hmm. So I get to get in the cleanroom every day and do a lot of inspections on how tight a screw is being tight or how – are we keeping this hardware clean so that we don’t get our germs into space? We make sure this thing actually works once it is launched.

NADIA SOFIA, HOST: She loves her job, but it didn’t start that way. When Dajae got to NASA in 2018, just out of college…

WILLIAMS: It was very exciting, a little bit overwhelming. I suffered from a little bit of imposter syndrome, for sure – and a bit confusing, I will be honest.

SOFIA: What do you mean by a bit confusing?

WILLIAMS: There’s no women in my group. There are only a few African Americans in my group or people of color, for that matter. So nobody looks like me. No one acted like me. So it was definitely different, and I did not fit in.

SOFIA: That feeling of not fitting in at a place like NASA is something that Dajae is working to change. And she’s doing it in kind of an awesome way, a way that helped her fall in love with math and science when she was a teenager.

WILLIAMS: (Singing) Energy of force, mathematics, studying the Big Bang. I’m observing something, and it may be nothing. A hypothesis could change the game, OK.

(12) SURGIN’ VIRGIN. We’re not quite at the stage of “Requiem”, the Heinlein story in which people can take short rocket rides at county fairs, but “Virgin Galactic sees demand for space travel surge”.

Virgin Galactic has said it will release more tickets for flights into space amid surging demand.

Sir Richard Branson’s firm, which completed its first sub-orbital test flight in 2018, said it had received almost 8,000 registrations of interest for future commercial flights.

That is more than double the amount it recorded at the end of September 2019.

The firm has so far sold 600 tickets for its inaugural flights, scheduled for later this year.

(13) NOSTALGIA. They’re obsolete but coming back — “Solari boards: The disappearing sound of airports”?

As day turns to night in Singapore’s Changi Airport, a queue of people wait patiently for a picture with an old star.

They leave their bags by a bench, turn their cameras on themselves, and pose for a photo.

Some smile; some jump like starfish; one even dances. As they upload to Instagram, the old star watches on, unmoved.

And then – a noise. The moment they’ve been waiting for. The travellers turn their cameras round, and the star begins one last turn.

In a blur of rotation, Kuala Lumpur becomes Colombo; Brunei turns into Tokyo; and a dozen other cities whirr into somewhere else.

Two people taking photos, Eileen Lim and Nicole Lee, aren’t even flying. They have come especially to see the departures board.

“It’s therapeutic to see the names turn round,” says Eileen, a teacher in Singapore. “And that sound – I love it.”

Every time she comes to Terminal 2, Eileen takes a photo with the board. But now, she is saying goodbye.

In less than three hours, the hoardings will come up, and the sign will come down. Changi Airport, like hundreds of others already, will whirr, spin, and flap for the final time.

…Solari di Udine, as it is now known, was founded in 1725 – more than 250 years before Changi Airport opened – in a small town in northern Italy. It specialised in clocks for towers.

After World War Two, the company began working with designer Gino Valle. He and Remigio Solari developed a sign with four flaps, each containing ten digits – perfect for telling the time.

The now-familiar design, with white numbers on black flaps, won the prestigious Compasso D’Oro award in 1956. In the same year, Solari sold its first moving sign to Liege railway station in Belgium.

…In 2013, six engineers who worked together at Drexel University, Philadelphia, formed Oat Foundry – a company that built “cool mechanical things for brands and companies”.

Three years later, they were approached by a “fast-casual” restaurant who wanted to display orders in a “non-digital way…without guests bathing in that blue light glow”.

The client suggested “an old-school train departure board”, and, after four months of research, they had a prototype.

The product was a mixture of old – they tested a number of materials “to get that iconic sound of 1960s airports and stations” – and new: it was integrated with an iPad point of sales system.

[Thanks to Rob Thornton, Olav Rokne, JJ, Cat Eldridge, Martin Morse Wooster, Chip Hitchcock, Mike Kennedy, John King Tarpinian, Steven H Silver, Michael Toman, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Xtifr.]

Pixel Scroll 2/16/20 I Scroll. The Pixels Take The Same Shape As A Previous Title. All Scroll. O The Embarrassment

(1) FOR WANT OF A NAIL. A Miss Manners column linked here earlier in the month has now made its appearance in the Washington Post“Miss Manners: ‘Losers’ party’ goes from bad to worse”. The comments have led a few hundred people to File 770’s post “GRRM on the Hugo Losers Party”.

Dear Miss Manners: I was nominated for an award, which I did not win — and that’s fine!

Before the awards ceremony, all nominees were given an invitation to the “losers’ party” after the ceremony. The party was off-site, and we (losing nominees and our plus-ones) were taken there in buses.

I was on the second bus, and when we arrived, we found out that entry into the party venue had been cut off due to capacity concerns. Our bus driver refused to take us back to the original venue, and we were all left standing in the street on a chilly evening, wearing our nice clothes — “we” being at least 50 people….

(2) BACK TO BACK. Nerdbot points out another remarkable example of what you cn do with tech today: “Here’s RDJ & Tom Holland As Doc And Marty In Back To The Future”.

Deepfake videos never cease to amaze me. They do such an amazing job that it’s hard to imagine that they aren’t really performing the part. Now EZRyderX47 on YouTube has created a mash up of Back to the Future with none other than our favorite Marvel dynamic, Robert Downey Jr. and Tom Holland. Check out the film down below.

(3) SWEAR IN THE PANEL. [Item by Daniel Dern.] “Anti-solar panel can generate electricity at night, researchers say”Inverse has the story.

Researchers from the University of California, Davis explain in a new paper that was just published in the journal ACS Photonics that if you want to create a solar panel that generates electricity at night, then you just have to create one that operates the exact opposite way solar panels work during the day. It’s being referred to as the “anti-solar panel.”

Solar panels are cold compared to the Sun, so they absorb the Sun’s light and turn it into energy. Space is very cold, so if you point a panel on Earth that is comparatively warm toward it, it will radiate heat as invisible infrared light. This allows you to generate electricity by capturing that power. The paper claims such a device could generate about a quarter of the electricity at night that a normal solar panel generates during the day.

Jeremy Munday, a professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at UC Davis who is an author of the paper, tells Inverse that whether it’s a solar panel or this anti-solar panel, these things are essentially just “heat engines.”

(Music to cue up: Flanders and Swann, “…heat can’t pass from the cooler to the hotter” from their “First & Second Law” (of thermodynamics, not robotics.)

And here’s a dramatic (and dramatized) (not sung) version: “First and Second Laws of Thermodynamics”

Finally, here’s a charming version via Oberlin! “First and Second Laws — Scofield, Lemberger, and Owen”

Oberlin College Physics Professors John H. Scofield and Rob Owen along with OC senior physics major Ben Lemberger (piano) perform Flanders and Swann’s “First and Second Laws” for intro physics class on May 7, 2014.

(4) FOLLOWED BY A SECRET PANEL. “13 things you didn’t know about Ray Bradbury” from RayBradbury.com.

2

The Secret Panel

Not only did Bradbury create fantastical worlds with pen and paper, he also lived in a surreal world of his own creation. His Beverly Hills office (just like his home basement office) was filled with items that tickled his imagination: cartoons, figurines, stuffed animals, masks, and magic. In fact, Bradbury was so often lost in his own imaginary world that he would forget the demands of reality. He regularly forgot the keys to his office, but he solved this minor inconvenience by using a secret sliding panel.

(5) SFF AT BOOKEXPO 2020. Machado and Roanhorse will be there: “Reedpop Announces Annual Adult Book & Author Breakfast Lineup at BookExpo 2020”.

The lineup for BookExpo’s Adult Book & Author Breakfast, scheduled for Thursday, May 28, has been announced. Zerlina Maxwell, radio host and MSNBC political analyst, will host and discuss her new book The End of White Politics: How to Heal Our Liberal Divide (Hachette Books), which will hit stores just a few days earlier, on May 26.

Joining Maxwell will be United States Poet Laureate Joy Harjo, there to present When the Light of the World was Subdued, Our Songs Came Through, a Norton Anthology of Native Nations Poetry featuring the work of more than 160 poets from nearly 100 indigenous nations; bestselling author Carmen Maria Machado, who will discuss her upcoming comic book debut, The Low, Low Woods, a new horror comic from Joe Hill’s imprint at DC; U.S. Representative Ilhan Omar (D.-Minn.), onstage to showcase her forthcoming memoir, This Is What America Looks Like, arriving from HarperCollins on May 26; and fantasy author Rebecca Roanhorse, there to discuss her novel Black Sun, the first book in a new epic fantasy trilogy about four warring matriarchies vying for power, to be published by Gallery/Saga Press.

(6) REMINGTON OBIT. Artist Barbara Remington, whose work included iconic covers of paperback editions of The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit, has died at the age of 90 reports Comicbook.com.

…Remington is best known for illustrating Ballantine Books’ paperback editions of Tolkien’s fantasy novels, which began to be published in 1965 and quickly gained a cult status amongst readers. According to The New York Times, Remington died on January 23rd in Susquehanna, Pennsylvania, with her longtime friend John Bromberg citing breast cancer as the cause of death.

As Remington revealed in an interview with Andwerve, her work on the Lord of the Rings and Hobbit covers came about on a very tight deadline.

“Ballantine was in a hurry to get these books out right away,” Remington revealed. “When they commissioned me to do the artwork, I didn’t have the chance to see either book, though I tried to get a copy through my friends. So I didn’t know what they were about. I tried finding people that had read them, but the books were not readily available in the states, and so I had sketchy information at best.”

“When Tolkien saw the fruit tree, he asked, ‘What are pumpkins doing in a tree?’ Of course they weren’t pumpkins, but he wasn’t sure what they were,” Remington added. “He was especially perplexed about the lion on the cover because there are no lions in the story. He requested that Ballantine remove the lions from the cover, so they painted them over for later books.”

(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born February 16, 1939 Chuck Crayne. An important conrunner who died before his time. (I’m quoting Mike there, so please don’t complain.) He was a LASFS member who was most active during the Sixties and Seventies. You can read Mike’s full post on him here. (Died 2009.)
  • Born February 16, 1951 William Katt, 69. Ralph Hinkley, the lead of The Greatest American Hero. A series I know I watched and loved at the time.  In December 1975, he auditioned for the part of Luke Skywalker But didn’t get the role obviously. 
  • Born February 16, 1953 Mike Glyer, 67. Let’s praise the man who’s created the finest online community for SFF fandom that one could possibly hope for. One that entertains and educates us. It’s no wonder that he has won the Best Fan Writer Hugo four times and File 770 Itself has won the Best Fanzine Hugo seven times. Happy Birthday Mike!
  • Born February 16, 1954 Iain M. Banks. I’m certain I’ve read the entire Culture series even though I certainly didn’t read them in the order they were written. My favorites? The Hydrogen Sonata was bittersweet for being the last ever, Use of Weapons and the very first, Consider Phlebas, are also my favs. And though not genre, I’m still going to make a plug for Raw Spirit: In Search of the Perfect Dram. It’s about whisky, good food and his love of sports cars. (Died 2013.)
  • Born February 16, 1957 Ardwight Chamberlain, 63. The voice of Kosh on Babylon 5. And that tickles me, as I don’t think they credited it during the series, did they? Most of his other voice work English dubbing versions of Japanese anime including Digimon: Digital Monsters and The Swiss Family Robinson: Flone of the Mysterious Island.
  • Born February 16, 1964 Christopher Eccleston, 56. The Ninth Doctor who’s my third favorite among the new ones. Other genre work includes 28 Days LaterThe SeekerG.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra, Thor: The Dark WorldThe LeftoversThe Second Coming and The Borrowers. He also played Macbeth at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre and the Barbican Theatre. 
  • Born February 16, 1968 Warren  Ellis, 52. I think Planetary is bloody brilliant as is Global Frequency and Transmetropolitan. His work on The Authority is not to be sniffed at either, nor should we overlook Iron Man: Extremis. He’s got two rather superb novels, Crooked Little Vein and Gun Machine, that are not genre but which if if you like hard-boiled detective fiction, I’ll strongly recommend both.

(8) COMICS SECTION.

(9) WHAT’S THE MATTER WITH KIDS TODAY? Grayson Quay reminds readers about “The Time C.S. Lewis Went Full ‘Get Off My Lawn’” at The American Conservative.

…That essay, “Delinquents in the Snow” [1957] from the collection God in the Dock, begins with Lewis griping about neighborhood kids who constantly bother him by singing terrible renditions of Christmas carols at his door and expecting money in return. Then, with increasing crankiness, he tells the reader that these are probably the same kids who broke into his shed and stole some stuff recently. Other than Lewis’s intuition, there’s no connection between the carolers and the discourse on criminal justice that follows. Like I said, it’s a weird essay.

Basically, Lewis is angry that the kids who robbed his shed were let off easy by the court and will therefore likely grow up to commit “burglary, arson, rape, and murder.” Without any additional evidence, he extrapolates this single event into a nationwide trend and predicts that unless something is done about it, the result will be either an outbreak of vigilante violence or a full-scale revolution.

“Delinquents in the Snow” is full of cringe-inducing moments. Lewis insists on referring to the female judge who gave the delinquents a mere slap on the wrist as “the Elderly Lady,” suggesting a lack of respect for women in positions of authority. He also writes that “when the State ceases to protect me from hooligans I might reasonably, if I could, catch and trash them myself.” The mental image of a 59-year-old university don beating up children would be funny if I weren’t afraid he actually meant it. There’s even a hint of Atlas Shrugged in there when he says that by failing to adequately punish crime, society risks pushing middle-class “bearers of what little moral, intellectual, or economic vitality remains” to the point at which “they will snap.”

(10) CZECH THAT OUT. Glenn Erickson remembers “Three Fantastic Journeys by Karel Zeman” at Trailers from Hell

…t first it seemed too good to be true, a movie all about the ‘fabulous’ aventures of one of the two authors I’d read at age nine, Jules Verne. I was visiting my Aunt Virginia (yes, for real) and she dropped me off alone at the theater in Las Vegas. First, I had to sit through a dumb circus movie called Jumbo, probably Bimbo the Great. But then came a movie that looked like a cartoon, but not really. At first I was really disappointed, as were some of the kids in the theater with me. But after just a couple of minutes we were entranced. It wasn’t what we expected from a cartoon, or a movie. It was like vintage book illustrations come to life. Every new scene was a wonderment that went beyond the question, ‘how’d they do that?’   We were transported to the other side of movie reality, into something like a moving dream. Who knew that this movie and the brilliant sci-fi picture Voyage to the End of the Universe came from a Communist country?  All the names were Anglicized. I had heard of Czechoslovakia in 1962 only because somebody said it had been invaded in a war newsreel.

(11) GREEN LANTERN. DC press release: “Green Lantern 80th Anniversary 100-Page Super Spectacular #1 Arrives May 20, 2020”. Tagline: “Comics’ Brightest Celebrate Eighty Years of Galactic Peacekeeping.”

“In brightest day, in blackest night,
No evil shall escape my sight.
Let those who worship evil’s might,
Beware my power, Green Lantern’s light.”

Since the first Green Lantern was introduced in All-American Comics #16 in May 1940 by artist Martin Nodell and writer Bill Finger, the Green Lanterns have been fan-favorite characters with millions of comic book fans….

To commemorate the 80th anniversary of the original Green Lantern, Alan Scott, DC will be publishing Green Lantern 80th Anniversary 100-Page Super Spectacular #1 on May 20, 2020. Join us to see tales of all of the universe’s most legendary Green Lanterns: Alan Scott, Hal Jordan, John Stewart, Guy Gardner, Kyle Rayner, Jessica Cruz and Simon Baz, plus appearances from other cosmic favorites!

In addition to a dynamic cover by Liam Sharp, fans and collectors can also look forward to eight variant covers spotlighting Lanterns throughout the decades, drawn by some of comics’ premier artists….

(12) HIGHLANDS AND OUTLANDS. In the Washington Post, Erika Mailman says that many fans of Outlander enjoy visiting the 42 sites in Scotland where filming took place during the first four seasons of the show and gives a guide to where the show films and what fans can see when they visit. “The Outlander Effect: The popular book and TV series is increasing travel to these Scottish sites”.

Best-selling author Diana Gabaldon hadn’t even set foot in Scotland when she began the book that launched the popular Outlander series. But she’s made the country so attractive to readers — and to watchers of the Starz television program, which resumes with Season 5 on Sunday — that the Scottish government’s tourism agency gave her an honorary Thistle Award for generating a flood of visitors to the fens, glens, jagged mountains and soft jade landscapes she so alluringly describes. According to numbers from VisitScotland, Outlander has increased tourism by an average of 67 percent at the sites mentioned in the books or used in filming.

(13) ALL ABOARD. Food & Wine says “‘Harry Potter’ Fans Will Love the Napa Valley Wine Train’s New Murder Mystery Experience”.

…The “Witches and Wizards” theme will take place on Saturday, October 24, and guests are encouraged to wear witch hats and wizard robes. (If you have a wand, you might as well bring that too.) Like the rest of the murder mystery experiences on the train, it includes a ride on the train, “murder mystery dinner theatre,” and a multi-course gourmet meal, which is prepared by executive chef Donald Young…

(14) AN ANTI-SMARTWATCH? That’s one description — “Activate This ‘Bracelet of Silence,’ and Alexa Can’t Eavesdrop” in the New York Times.

Last year, Ben Zhao decided to buy an Alexa-enabled Echo speaker for his Chicago home. Mr. Zhao just wanted a digital assistant to play music, but his wife, Heather Zheng, was not enthused. “She freaked out,” he said.

Ms. Zheng characterized her reaction differently. First she objected to having the device in their house, she said. Then, when Mr. Zhao put the Echo in a work space they shared, she made her position perfectly clear:“I said, ‘I don’t want that in the office. Please unplug it. I know the microphone is constantly on.’”

Mr. Zhao and Ms. Zheng are computer science professors at the University of Chicago, and they decided to channel their disagreement into something productive. With the help of an assistant professor, Pedro Lopes, they designed a piece of digital armor: a “bracelet of silence” that will jam the Echo or any other microphones in the vicinity from listening in on the wearer’s conversations.

The bracelet is like an anti-smartwatch, both in its cyberpunk aesthetic and in its purpose of defeating technology. A large, somewhat ungainly white cuff with spiky transducers, the bracelet has 24 speakers that emit ultrasonic signals when the wearer turns it on. The sound is imperceptible to most ears, with the possible exception of young people and dogs, but nearby microphones will detect the high-frequency sound instead of other noises.

(15) APRIL SHOWERS BRING MAYFLOWERS. “Mudlarks Scour the Thames to Uncover 2,000 Years of Secrets” in the New York Times.

From ribald tokens from London’s Roman past to hints of the Mayflower’s fate, mudlarks discover the story of a constantly changing London — but only at low tide….

“What you are looking for are straight lines and perfect circles,” she said, her eyes scanning the surface of the mud for man-made artifacts. “They sort of stand out from the natural shapes.”

Within minutes she had spotted fragments of a 17th-century jug, the half-face of a bearded man visible in the clay.

The name — mudlark — was first given to the Victorian-era poor who scrounged for items in the river to sell, pulling copper scraps, rope and other valuables from the shore. But more recently the label has stuck to London’s hobbyists, history buffs and treasure hunters who scour the river edge searching for objects from the city’s past.

Mudlarking’s popularity has grown steadily in recent years, driven in part by social media communities where enthusiasts share their finds, and tour groups that offer a trudge through the shards of history’s castoffs.

…“I like just to collect what the river decides it’s going to leave on that day,” Ms. Maiklem said. “It’s that element of luck.”

But sometimes there are more significant finds, like the first “spintria” found in Britain. Spintriae are Roman bronze tokens, with depictions of sexual acts on one face and a Roman numeral on the other, whose purpose remains uncertain.

And every tide reveals some of the city’s varied story: Roman coins, medieval badges worn by religious pilgrims, an elaborate 17th-century watch.

The Thames, the very reason people began settling in the city over 2,000 years ago, is one of the best preservers of London’s history. The river has been used many ways over the millenniums — as a highway, a source of food and, most important to mudlarks, as a dump.

(16) OLD VIDEO OF THE DAY. Kirk Douglas drinks coffee with Ray Bradbury, John Barry and John Frankenheimer in Japanese commercials

[Thanks to Dan Bloch, John King Tarpinian, JJ, N., Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, Andrew Porter, Patrick Nielsen Hayden, Michael Toman, and Chip Hitchcock for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Jamoche.]