Pixel Scroll 7/2/20 When There’s Evil On The Hat Rack, You Can Rest Knowing They Got Your Back

(1) AND INTRODUCING GUY FLEEGMAN. Looper chimes in about “Sci-fi shows ruined by terrible endings”. (Wait a minute – as far as I’m concerned ALF started out ruined!)

These sci-fi series are perfectly awful examples of this lamentable phenomenon. For some, the finale retcons fans’ understanding of everything the show did up until that point. For others, the finale serves as a sad reminder of what could have been, had the show been given another chance. Some leave dozens of loose ends dangling. Some attempt to wrap things up too neatly. Some are tonally inconsistent. All of them are disappointing — and all of them loom large in fans’ understanding of the show as a whole. We’re here to examine the worst finales in sci-fi television, no matter how much it makes us shudder. Spoiler warning: We’re going to reveal every last detail of these shows’ endings, in an effort to fully explain why they’re so darn detestable.

Here’s one of the shows they named:

Quantum Leap leaves Sam in limbo

… Despite its poor time slots, Quantum Leap’s blend of humor and social commentary garnered a fanbase. But due to declining viewership, it ended after five seasons. In the series finale, “Mirror Image,” we learn that Sam can return home if he chooses — but instead, he decides to go back in time and save his friend Al’s marriage. In doing so, Sam willingly makes it so he and Al never met, trapping himself in a paradox and giving up the life he so desperately wished to return to throughout the duration of the series. Sam’s fate is finally revealed in the show’s last frame: “Dr. Sam Beckett never returned home.” 

This ending changes the mood of the show entirely. Instead of being wacky misadventures, each episode is reframed as one man’s fruitless quest to return home. He will, apparently, just keep going through these motions… forever. That’s not just bleak — it’s horrifying.

(2) FLESHLESS THINGS. NPR’s Jessica P. Wick reports that a fellow NPR contributor’s “Pitch-Perfect ‘Mexican Gothic’ Ratchets Up The Dread”.

Silvia Moreno-Garcia’s Mexican Gothic is a thoroughly enjoyable, thought-provoking novel. I want to discuss it around tea, preferably while in the mountains, preferably somewhere well-lit. I remember placing my bookmark in the book and thinking, I should not have read this before bed.

I was afraid of what I might dream.

Noémi’s cousin Catalina writes a strange letter begging for help. She claims her new husband Virgil Doyle is poisoning her, that “fleshless things” and ghosts trouble her, that “they will not let me go.” Noémi — self-assured, chic and stubborn — leaves the glamor of 1950s Mexico City for the countryside, still depressed after a mining bust and fecund with secrets, to determine whether Catalina needs rescue.

Reader, she does. The situation is more complicated and sinister than the initial fear of just a con artist husband isolating his new wife and convincing the world she’s mad so he can steal her money.

(3) REPRESENTATION IN GAMING. BBC follows as a “Trailblazing Muslim superhero goes gaming”.

“It’s the representation in gaming I’ve waited for my whole life.”

Marvel’s Avengers are assembling once again, not on the big screen, but for a blockbuster video game.

It features many of the superheroes you might expect, including Iron Man, Hulk and Captain America. But they are joined by a new addition: Kamala Khan.

The Muslim-American teenager of Pakistani heritage, who has shape-shifting abilities, is the latest character to adopt the Ms Marvel moniker.

When the game’s publisher Square Enix announced that Marvel Avengers would include Kamala Khan as one of its main playable characters and make her central to the plot, it garnered praise from both fans and industry insiders.

“I first heard of Ms Marvel from the comics a few years ago,” says Maria Afsar, a 25-year-old gamer.

“I immediately thought it was so cool when read her background was like mine, being Pakistani, Muslim and a girl.

“When I saw the announcement she is going to be in the game and one of the main characters, I just thought I’ve literally been waiting for something like this my whole life. I saw nothing like this when I was younger.”

(4) CONZEALAND INITIATIVE. The 2020 Worldcon boosted the signal for the “CoNZealand Chairs’ Colonised, Marginalised and Historically Underrepresented People Inclusion Initiative”.

The Chairs of CoNZealand are pleased to be able to offer a Membership upgrade initiative to support inclusion of colonised, marginalised and historically underrepresented people in at Worldcon.

With the pandemic affecting job security, the financial ability to participate in conventions and the fan community is becoming increasingly difficult for many fans. 

Marginalised communities are overrepresented in the group suffering the greatest fallout from this pandemic, and as such, we want to ensure that our community does not suffer a loss of its hard-won diversity. We want to lower the barriers for participation for those from underrepresented communities. 

…The initiative upgrades eligible members from supporting to attending memberships. There Is no requirement for the supporting membership to be purchased before grantees are notified. 

Eligible members who are already fully paid, but would like some income relief are also invited to apply. 

In return, we ask that successful applicants willingly participate in our community. Whether that be through programme, art show, or volunteering is up to the individual and how they enjoy participating in this community. 

Applications can be made on this google form: https://forms.gle/4odYVgwvuvL8naLy5

Grantees will be chosen by the chairs. As long as there is a good plan for participation, we expect to grant applications. The grantees will be notified as soon as practical, and we will continue to announce grantees at least weekly as long as upgrades last.

Questions about this initiative can be mailed to inclusion@conzealand.nz.

(5) GLASS BELL. The winner of Goldsboro Books 2020 Glass Bell Award was not one of the genre works on the shortlist, but the tale of a fictional ’70s rock band, Daisy Jones and the Six.

(6) DOOMED. Here’s a promising subject – James Davis Nicoll lists “Five Doomed Armies in Science Fiction” at Tor.com.

…Armies sacrificed for no obvious purpose and meaningless wars are not entirely unknown in speculative fiction. Here are five examples from that golden age of such stories, the Vietnam War era, and its literary aftermath.

(7) LIBERTARIAN FUTURIST SOCIETY AT NASFIC AND WORLDCON. The LFS told members about their plans to participate in two of the summer’s virtual sff cons.

Their scheduled presence at the Columbus 2020 North American Science Fiction Convention will migrate online with the rest of the virtual con. There will be a back-to-back Prometheus Awards ceremony and Prometheus-Awards-themed panel discussion, free and widely available to watch live.

Novelist F. Paul Wilson, previously confirmed by NASFiC as their and LFS’ Prometheus Awards Guest of Honor, will participate in the awards ceremony by presenting the Best Novel category, which Wilson was the first author to win in 1979. Wilson also will be a panelist in a “Visions of SF, Liberty, Human Rights: The Prometheus Awards Over Four Decades, from F. Paul Wilson and Robert Heinlein to Today”. So will Sarah Hoyt, the 2011 Prometheus Award Best Novel winner for Darkship Thieves, LFS co-founder Michael Grossberg and newspaper journalist Tom Jackson.

During CoNZeland’s virtual convention, LFS will put on a panel “Freedom in Science Fiction: Four Decades of the Prometheus Awards, From F. Paul Wilson and Robert Heinlein to Ursula LeGuin, Vernor Vinge, Cory Doctorow, Neal Stephenson and Today.” Tom Jackson will moderate, joined by F. Paul Wilson and others to be announced. The Worldcon online program will initially be accessible that weekend for viewing only by registered Worldcon members.

(8) HISTORY OF SF. It’s Quilette, and if that doesn’t tell you what to expect, the first paragraph of “The Libertarian History of Science Fiction,” by Jordan Alexander Hill will make everything clear.

When mainstream authors like Eric Flint complain that the science fiction establishment, and its gatekeeper the Hugo Awards, has “drift[ed] away from the opinions and tastes of… mass audience[s],” prioritizing progressive messaging over plot development, the response from the Left is uniform: Science fiction is by its very nature progressive. It’s baked into the cake, they say. This is a superficially plausible claim. With its focus on the future, its embrace of the unfamiliar and other-worldly, and its openness to alternative ways of living, it is hard to see how the genre could be anything but progressive. In fact, studies indicate that interest in SF books and movies is strongly correlated with a Big Five personality trait called openness to experience, which psychologists say is highly predictive of liberal values.

But openness to experience also correlates with libertarianism and libertarian themes and ideas have exercised far greater influence than progressivism over SF since the genre’s inception. From conservatarian voices like Robert Heinlein, Larry Niven, Vernor Vinge, Poul Anderson, and F. Paul Wilson to those of a more flexible classical liberal bent like Ray Bradbury, David Brin, Charles Stross, Ken McLeod, and Terry Pratchett, libertarian-leaning authors have had an outsized, lasting influence on the field. So much so that The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction has deemed “Libertarian SF” its own stand alone “branch,” admitting that “many of libertarianism’s most influential texts have been by SF writers.”

…Although he began his career as a utopian socialist working for Upton Sinclair’s 1934 gubernatorial campaign, Heinlein underwent a political transformation and became known for the rest of his career as a libertarian “guru” of sorts. Scott Timberg at the LA Times describes him as a “nudist with a military-hardware fetish” who “dominated the pulps… and became the first science fictionist to land on the New York Times bestseller list.” A four-time Hugo Award winner, Heinlein is credited with helping to elevate SF from its ray-blaster and tentacled space-monster phase to a more serious, respectable prominence, penning such classics as Stranger in a Strange Land and, Milton Friedman’s favorite, The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, a book that reads like an anarcho-capitalist blueprint for revolutionary uprising. Friedman even named his 1975 public policy book after the novel’s slogan TANSTAAFL (“There Ain’t No Such Thing As A Free Lunch”).

…Perhaps this is why so much of SF expresses itself as dystopian fiction, a genre which, by its very nature, cannot but take on a libertarian flavor. Totalitarianism, war, and wide-scale oppression is almost always carried out by state force. Liberation, accordingly, must come in the form of negative rights—that is, “freedom from”—and voluntarism: “[I]n writing your constitution,” Professor de la Paz instructs, “let me invite attention to the wonderful virtues of the negative! Accentuate the negative! Let your document be studded with things the government is forever forbidden to do.”

(9) TODAY’S DAY.

July 2 UFO Day. And “Has E.T. Gone Home?” asks Statista.

There is some controversy as to whether World UFO Day falls on June 26 or July 02 with people seemingly celebrating it on both days. The occasion is an awareness day for UFOs coinciding with the Roswell incident’s anniversary. It is getting increasingly popular as UFOs have been making headlines again lately, notably due to the “Storm Area 51” event which went viral last year. That’s on top of The New York Times running an interesting article about several U.S. Navy fighter pilots encountering mysterious objects near the southeastern coast of the United States. The high-profile story remains unexplained and so do plenty of other UFO sightings reported by members of the public every year like strange lights crossing the night sky or orange disks hovering in the distance.

The National UFO Reporting Center which is based in the U.S. maintains statistics about global UFO sightings. Notably, they are ticking up again….

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]

  • Born July 2, 1877 – Hermann Hesse.  You’ll expect me to celebrate The Glass Bead Game (also published as Magister Ludi), and I do, subtle, profound, satirical, moving, the first Nobel Prize SF novel, to my surprise and delight reaching the Retrospective Hugo ballot.  Other books of his in or near SF and more in line with the Hesse fad are SteppenwolfSiddharthaJourney to the East.  (Died 1962) [JH]
  • Born July 2, 1908 Rip Van Ronkel. Screenwriter who won a Retro Hugo for Best Dramatic Presentation at Millenium Philcon for Destination Moon. He also produced the earlier Destination Space movie for television, andwrote the screenplay for The Bamboo Saucer. (Died 1965.) (CE)
  • Born July 2, 1914 – Hannes Bok.  Under this name (from Johann S. Bach) and in a short life he was one of our masters.  First Hugo for Best Cover Artist, shared with Emsh (Ed Emshwiller).  A hundred covers, his many monochromes maybe even better.  See how well he could work when he wanted to do without his famous weirdness (he turned down hundreds of commissions he didn’t want): Lest Darkness Fall; the Nolacon I Program Book (9th Worldcon); F & SF under Davidson (yes, I know those are covers).  Author too, novels, two dozen shorter stories, poems published posthumously as Spinner of Silver and Thistle.  See Petaja’s biography and flights of angels, and Ned Brooks’ index.  (Died 1964) [JH]
  • Born July 2, 1935 – Doug Hoylman, Ph.D.  I hope I know when Our Gracious Host has done better than I can.  (Died 2015) [JH]
  • Born July 2, 1946 – Arnie Katz, 74.  He’s done much.  Fundamentally a fanziner, he’s contributed to clubs and cons.  I might not be luxuriating in APA-L (alas, this Fancy 3 article has not caught up with Fred Patten) if AK hadn’t been a forerunner with APA-F.  He owes me a chicken dinner, but he’s quite fair about what I must do to collect.  Anyway, I pray for his prosperity.  And see here.  [JH]
  • Born July 2, 1948 – Larry Tucker.  How bodacious July 2nd has been for the birth of nearly unbelievable brothers (sisters too! it just happens I’ve come to another brother).  This Titan took fanzines to video  – took fanzines to video early on, while the tech was still truculentUncle Albert’s Video Fanzine (he had in mind this Uncle Albert; alas, I never asked if he also thought of, less directly or even less fairly, this one (but look who has the cigar).  LT co-founded the Ann Arbor SF Ass’n and the SF Oral History Ass’n; he didn’t start, but always inspired, the Stilyagi Air Corps and the well-named ConFusion.  The photo here is by Mark Olson; speaking of Leah Zeldes Smith (see no. 8 here), I’ve just recommended one of her stories.  (Died 2013) [JH]
  • Born July 2, 1948 Saul Rubinek, 72. Primarily of interest for being on Warehouse 13  as Artie Nielsen, though he does show rather often on genre series and films including EurekaMasters of HorrorPerson of InterestBeauty & the BeastStargate SG-1The Outer Limits and Star Trek: The Next GenerationMemory Run and Death Ship seem to be his only only genre films. His latest genre role is in For all Mankind as Rep. Charles Sandman in their “He Built the Saturn V“ episode. (CE)
  • Born July 2, 1949 Craig Shaw Gardner, 71. Comic fantasy author whose work is, depending on your viewpoint, very good or very bad. For me, he’s always great.  I adore his Ballad of Wuntvor sequence and highly recommend all three novels, A Difficulty with DwarvesAn Excess of Enchantments and A Disagreement with Death. Likewise, his pun filled Arabian Nights sequence will either be to your liking or really not. I think it’s worth it just for Scheherazade’s Night Out. (CE)
  • Born July 2, 1950 –Stephen R. Lawhead, 70. I personally think that The Pendragon Cycle is by far his best work though the King Raven Trilogy with its revisionist take on Robin Hood is intriguing. And I read the first two of the Bright Empires series which are also very much worth reading. (CE)
  • Born July 2, 1956 Kay Kenyon, 64. Writer of the truly awesome The Entire and the Rose series which I enjoyed immensely as a listening experience a few years back. I’ve not read his Dark Talents series, so opinions please. (CE)
  • Born July 2, 1962 – Laura Benedict, 58.  Nine novels, a few shorter stories; anthologies.  “You don’t look like a person who writes scary stories.  I hear those words often and it makes me laugh every time.”  She put them next to this photo for good reason.  Three anthologies (with Pinckney Benedict, who – never mind, it’s not his birthday notice) are called Surreal South, for good reason.  [JH]
  • Born July 2, 1970 Yancy Butler, 50. Detective Sara Pezzini on the  Witchblade series which would’ve been awesome with current CGI. She was later Avedon Hammond in Ravager, Captain Kate Roebuck in Doomsday Man, Angie D’Amico in Kick-Ass and Kick-Ass 2, Reba in Lake Placid 3 and Lake Placid: The Final Chapter, Officer Hart in Hansel & Gretel Get Baked (also known as Black Forest: Hansel and Gretel and the 420 Witch) (given the latter, a career low for her) and Alexis Hamilton in Death Race 2050. Series work other than Witchblade wasa recurring role as Sgt. Eve Edison in Mann & Machine inher first genre role. (CE)

(11) COMICS SECTION.

  • Shoe answers a history quiz. Spectacularly wrongly.
  • Two Incidental Comics by Grant Snider.

(12) UMM, ROBOT LITMUS TEST? This line occurred recently in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Agent Coulson was trying to identify who on a bus might be a time-traveling robot from the future and he came out with this:

(13) THE MARCH OF FUR. Coming July 3, The Fandom is a feature length documentary about the furry community from its origins in sf and anime fandoms up to present day.

The Fandom explores the history of animation fans who brought anime to the western world in the 1970s, Disney animators who faced threats to their careers, sci-fi fans who started the first furry conventions, and why furries became early adopters of the 1980s internet. It contrasts that with the modern fandom covering how it became a haven for the LGBT community as well as a positive economic and artistic impact on major US cities.

The production earned praise from blogger Patch O’Furr: “The Fandom movie: Furry paws seize the media”.

…I keep an eye out for all media about furries, and often call the Furry 101 kind boring. The Fandom raises the bar by giving an intimate tour with quality and heart. It’s 95% positive celebration.

Documentaries can show more drama or criticism or bad sides than this really does. But how much negativity do you need in these times? Not to say that this documentary has no opinion — it’s strong advocacy.

(14) GRRMTM. George R.R. Martin told readers he’s working on his videos for the virtual Worldcon.

The toastmaster wears many hats at worldcon, but probably the single biggest part of the gig is hosting the Hugo Awards ceremony.   I am going to be doing that with a combination of live streaming and pre-recorded videos, which we will (I hope I pray) edit seamlessly together.   This week I have started recording some of those videos.   It has been fun, if a little surreal, to be reading off the names of this year’s Hugo finalists when voting has not actually started yet.   And trying to be amusing (one hopes) while talking into a camera without the feedback of laughter (or moans, boos, or soul-chilling silence) from an actual audience is challenging as well.   But so it goes.

…((And before anyone starts to panic, “oh my god he is making videos in place of writing,” OF COURSE I am still working on WINDS OF WINTER as well.   That really should go without saying, yet somehow I need to say it, or someone might make stupid assumptions.   I am also doing some editorial work on three new Wild Cards books, reading scripts and making notes on a couple of exciting Hollywood projects, texting with agents, editors, and friends about this and that, eating several meals a day, watching television, reading books, and from time to time using the toilet.   Just because I do not mention it in every Not A Blog does not mean it is not happening)).

(15) BE YOUR OWN CTHULHU. This bit of Lovecraftian solipsism has been making the rounds:

(16) ON HOLD. BBC reports “Perseverance launch pushed back again”.

The launch of Nasa’s Mars rover Perseverance has been pushed back again to 30 July at the earliest.

In an update, the US space agency said a technical issue needed to be investigated, prompting the delay.

The robot rover will search for signs of past life on the Red Planet and also carries a drone-like helicopter which will demonstrate powered flight in the Martian atmosphere.

It is scheduled to land in February 2021.

In its statement, Nasa said: “A liquid oxygen sensor line presented off-nominal data during the Wet Dress Rehearsal, and additional time is needed for the team to inspect and evaluate.”

The mission’s original launch window extended from 17 July to 11 August.

But the rover will now get more time to launch.

“Flight analysis teams have expanded the mission launch opportunities to August 15 and are examining if the launch period may be extended further into August,” Nasa said.

(17) EXCERPT. SYFY Wire invites fans to “Read An Excerpt Of Sam Maggs’ Debut, Con Quest!”

Sam Maggs is no stranger to SYFY FANGRRLS. She’s got her hands in some of our absolute favorite properties of all time, from Spider-Man to Star Trek, and we’re so thankful she’s there to represent our, well, fangirling. But now, Maggs is back with something brand new on her plate: original fiction! Her debut novel Con Quest! came out just last week. 

Con Quest! is a comics convention adventure for young readers about fandom, family, and finding your place in the world!

Cat and Alex are excited to be at the world’s most popular comics convention — and they’re even more excited to compete in the Quest, a huge scavenger hunt run by their favorite nerdy celebrity. The big prize: a chance to meet him!

(18) REALLY FAUX GAIMAN. “Neil Gaiman–Bad Gaiman Challenge–Wits” on YouTube is an excerpt from a 2014 episode of the public radio show Wits where Gaiman read the winners of the show’s “Bad Gaiman challenge.”

We asked you guys to submit their worst versions of a Neil Gaiman-style short story. Hundreds responded to the call. Here, read by Neil Gaiman himself, are the worst of the worst.

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

2020 Glass Bell Award Shortlist

The six titles shortlisted for the 2020 Glass Bell Award, announced May 11, include two works of genre interest: Anita Frank’s The Lost Ones, and The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern. The complete list is at the link.

The Glass Bell Award was established in 2017 by independent bookstore Goldsboro Books and rewards storytelling in all genres – from romance, thrillers and ghost stories, to historical, speculative and literary fiction. It is awarded annually to “a compelling novel with brilliant characterization and a distinct voice that is confidently written and assuredly realized.”

The winner, who will receive both £2,000, and a beautiful, handmade, engraved glass bell, will be announced on July 2.

2020 Glass Bell Award Longlist

The twelve titles longlisted for the 2020 Glass Bell Award, announced April 6, include five works of genre interest: Robert Harris’ The Second Sleep, Anita Frank’s The Lost Ones, The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern, Stephen Chbosky’s Imaginary Friend, and Jay Kristoff’s Darkdawn: Book Three of the Nevernight Chronicle. The complete list is at the link.

The Glass Bell Award was established in 2017 by independent bookstore Goldsboro Books and rewards storytelling in all genres – from romance, thrillers and ghost stories, to historical, speculative and literary fiction. It is awarded annually to “a compelling novel with brilliant characterization and a distinct voice that is confidently written and assuredly realized.”

The shortlist of six will be announced on May 11. The winner, who will receive both £2,000, and a beautiful, handmade, engraved glass bell, will be announced on July 2.

[Thanks to Cora Buhlert for the story.]

Pixel Scroll 9/22/19 You Know Your Clicks Ain’t Bringing You Peace Of Scroll

(1) YOU’VE GOT MAIL. The LA Times profiles a published collection of stars’ correspondence: “‘Letters From Hollywood’ opens mail from Humphrey Bogart, Joan Crawford and more”. The image shows Bela Lugosi’s thank-you after being cast in Dracula.

…Neither realized how difficult it would be to find, acquire and get permission to use the letters.

They searched archives at UCLA, AFI, the academy, the Harry Ransom Center at the University of Texas, the Library of Congress and the Kennedy Library at Boston University. They reached out to auction houses and families with personal collections.

Lang even hired private detective David Gurvitz to track down relatives for permission to publish the letters. “The copyright was with the writer, not the receiver,” he said.

(2) WE ASKED FOR IT. Saturday’s Scroll works hard for a living linked to The Guardian’s list of best books of the 21st Century, leading some of us to ask what a journalist would have picked in 1919 as the best books of the early 20th Century. The legendary Kyra took up the challenge —

Kyra’s Best Books List, 1900-1919

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz
The Hound of the Baskervilles
Five Children and It
The Phoenix and the Carpet
Peter Pan
The Scarlet Pimpernel
I Am A Cat
The House of Mirth
The Story of the Amulet
The Enchanted Castle
A Room With a View
Anne of Green Gables
The Man Who Was Thursday
The Wind in the Willows

The Secret Garden
Howard’s End
O Pioneers!
The Valley of Fear
My Antonia

(3) YE OLDE DAYS. Fanac.org just scanned and posted 9 of the 12 issues of my genzine Scientifriction published between 1974 and 1983. I recommend Dave Locke’s column “Beyond the Shift Key” in issue #11 (1979) as perfectly illustrating the kind of faneditorial diplomacy I am known for and alluded to in comments yesterday…. and provoked Dave to yank my chain —

“What is your shtick this time” [Mike] queried me. “If I ask for fanhumor, what are you going to give me? Will you pretend to write a pain story while actually telling everyone why you think science fiction writers should be individually certified by the U.S. Department of Agriculture?”

“I’ve never believed that SF writers should – “

He waved his hand again. “It was just an example,” he said. “And if I show a preference for something that will bring in a little discussion, what then?” He looked at me in a severe manner. “Will you draw a framework to support the philosophy that fandom has many direct parallels with the practice of cannibalism, and somehow use it to talk about the time you fell out of a rollercoaster into the cotton candy concession?”…

(4) DRINK TANK. Or if you prefer a really fresh fanzine, there’s The Drink Tank 413 – “Dublin 2019” edited by Chris Garcia and Alissa McKersie. Cover by Vanessa Applegate.

We take a look at the Dublin WorldCon through the eyes of Chairman James Bacon, Hugo nominee Chuck Serface, all-arounf good guy Fred Moulton, the photos of Jim Fitzpatrick, and a MASSIVE trip report by Chris! Cover is by Vanessa Applegate!

(5) INSIDE BASEBALL. Dorothy Grant raises a good question about fictional realism in “How long does recovery take?” at Mad Genus Club.

…In Science Fiction and Fantasy, we often employ handwavium – healing spells, regen(eration), nannites, divine favour, what have you. And that’s excellent, when needs must, the plot drives, and it’s worldbuilt in. (Who wouldn’t go to the clinic if they could?)

…Actually, that last sentence is an interesting source of complications. Who wouldn’t? Why would they be unable to get there, or to use it? What’s it like to be a person with more consequences for every risk than those around you, and how does that change their plans? As Brandon Sanderson put it in his Second Law of Magic, “Limitations are more interesting than powers.”

(6) MAIL EARLY FOR HALLOWEEN. The US Postal Service will release its Spooky Silhouettes stamp issue on October 11.

The Spooky Silhouettes stamps feature digital illustrations with Halloween motifs rendered as black silhouettes in eerily backlit windows. The images include a cat with an arched back beneath a raven perched on a bare tree branch, all against a yellowish-green background; two ghosts against an orange background; a spider and a web against a red background; and three bats against a purple background.

(7) COSMONAUT OBIT. [Item by Cora Buhlert.] Siegmund Jähn, the first German person in space, has died aged 82. Because he was from East Germany and went into space with the Soviets, his contributions to space explorations were sadly ignored in West Germany until the unification. I had never even heard of Siegmund Jähn until the 1990s, even though I shared the usual SFF geek’s interest in all things space.

 Here is an English language obituary: “A life for space: Sigmund Jähn, Germany’s first cosmonaut, dies aged 82”

 Siegmund Jähn was also the first and likely only person to officiate at a wedding in space. During his spaceflight in 1978, Jähn took along a doll of Sandmännchen (Little Sandman), star of a popular East German children’s program (though West German kids loved it, too, and I had a Little Sandman doll as a kid, courtesy of my Great Aunt Metel from East Germany). It just happened that his Soviet colleague Valeri Bykovski had also brought along a toy, a doll named Masha from some Russian children’s program. And on a lark, Jähn married the two dolls aboard Soyuz 31. The doll wedding was apparently filmed, though the footage was never broadcast, because East German television objected to Little Sandman getting married.

(8) EISENBERG OBIT. CNN reports “‘Star Trek: Deep Space Nine’ actor Aron Eisenberg dies at age 50”. He played Nog, a character who appeared in 40 episodes.

In addition to “Deep Space Nine,” Eisenberg also had roles in the TV movie “Amityville: The Evil Escapes” and the features “The Horror Show,” “Playroom” and “Beverly Hills Brats,” all in the late 1980s.

(9) TODAY’S DAY.

  • September 22 — Hobbit Day sponsored by the American Tolkien Society.  “Tolkien Week is observed as the calendar week containing September 22, which is always observed as Hobbit Day.  Tolkien Week 2019 will begin Sunday, September 22 and end Saturday, September 28.”

(10) TODAY IN HISTORY.

  • September 22, 1968 — Irwin Allen’s Land of the Giants aired “The Crash”,  the first episode of the series. Starring Gary Conway and Don Matheson, it would last two seasons.
  • September 22, 1973 — The Canadian-produced series The Starlost aired its first episode.  The program was originally conceived by Harlan Ellison, who changed his credit to “Cordwainer Bird” and ran away from it as fast as he could. 

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born September 22, 1917 Samuel A. Peeples. Memory Alpha says that he’s the person that gave Roddenberry the catch phrase he used to sell Trek to the network: “[As] fellow writer Harlan Ellison has credited him with the creation of one of the most famous catch phrases in Star Trek-lore, ‘[Gene Roddenberry] got “Wagon Train to the stars” from Sam Peeples. That’s what Gene said to me. They were at dinner and Sam Peeples, of course, was a fount of ideas, and Gene said something or other about wanting to do a space show and Sam said, “Yeah? Why don’t you do Wagon Train to the stars?”’” (Died 1997.)
  • Born September 22, 1952 Paul Kincaid, 67. A British science fiction critic. He stepped down as chairman of the Arthur C. Clarke Award in April 2006 after twenty years. He is the co-editor with Andrew M. Butler of The Arthur C. Clarke Award: A Critical Anthology. He’s also written A Very British Genre: A Short History of British Fantasy and Science Fiction and What It Is We Do When We Read Science Fiction.
  • Born September 22, 1954 Shari Belafonte, 65. Daughter of Harry Belafonte, I first spotted her on Beyond Reality, a Canadian series that showed up when I was living in upstate Vermont. You most likely saw her as Elizabeth Trent in Babylon 5: Thirdspace as that’s her most well-known genre performance. 
  • Born September 22, 1982 Billie Piper, 37. Rose Tyler, companion to the Ninth and Tenth Doctors. She later starred as Brona Croft/Lily in the  Penny Dreadful series. Not really genre, but she‘s in the BBC adaptation of Philip Pullman’s The Ruby in the Smoke and The Shadow in the North where she’s Sally Lockhart, a Victorian orphan turned detective. 
  • Born September 22, 1971 Elizabeth Bear, 48. I’ve enjoyed many of her novels down the years including Ancestral Nights. I’m also fond of her very early SF in the form of the Hammered, Scardown and Worldwired novels. And now you get you get to hear the very first time she read one of her stories, “The Chains That Refuse” as she let us put it up on Green Man.
  • Born September 22, 1981 Maria Ashley Eckstein, 38. She’s voice of  Ahsoka Tano on Star Wars: The Clone Wars, Star Wars Rebels, and Star Wars Forces of Destiny. She also voices Dagger on the Ultimate Spider-Man series. Did we mention she’s 38? Not 27 or 37? 38!
  • Born September 22, 1985 Tatiana Maslany, 34. Performer of the multiple clones role in Orphan Black. Show won the Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form in 2015 for its “By Means Which Have Never Yet Been Tried” episode. She’s currently voicing in Aja & Queen Coranda in 3Below: Tales of Arcadia
  • Born September 22, 2001 Ghreat Revelation of Ghughle, age (if that’s really applicable) 17. As Fancyclopedia 3 puts it, Ghughle is a new and obscure fannish ghod whose Ghreat Revelation occurred to Steven H Silver on September 22, 2001 at a SMOFCon planning meeting. Within five minutes, the first schism happened when Erik Olson insisted on spelling the ghod’s name “Ghugle.” The Ghospel of Ghughle first appeared in Argentus 2 (2002).

(12) COMICS SECTION.

(13) THE MAESTRO. CBS Sunday Morning interviewed “John Williams on reworking the classics – his own”.

In the hills of western Massachusetts, the mid-summer breeze carries the scent of honeysuckle and the sound of genius. This is Tanglewood, the summer home of the Boston Symphony Orchestra and of its best-known artist-in-residence, John Williams.

The maestro actually lives in Los Angeles, but he says Tanglewood is where he’s done some of his best work. “Its effect on me is very spiritual and very exciting,” he said. “And I’ve written so much music here, so many film scores in this place. Right here, I come every summer – ‘Star Wars’ films, ‘Indiana Jones’ and ‘Schindler’s List,’ ‘Harry Potter,’ a great percentage of that work done physically here.”

And what astonishing work it is.

Williams is the most-honored movie composer of all time, with five Academy Awards (so far). And he has 51 Oscar nominations, more than any other living person. Only Walt Disney has more.

“I know you’re a very modest man…” said correspondent Tracy Smith. “But do you ever allow yourself that moment to step back and say, ‘Wow. Look what I’ve done!'”

… Fresh, indeed: Williams has recently reworked some of his movie music for violin, specifically for the instrument of Anne-Sophie Mutter, one of the greatest violinists ever to pick up a bow.

(14) X-FILES IMPACT. “Geena Davis just made children’s TV more feminist”, a piece by Ann Hornaday in the Washington Post about the efforts of the Geena Davis Institute to promote gender equity in Hollywood, has this paragraph quoting the institute’s president, Madeline Di Nonno:

Di Nonno recalls being commissioned by 21st Century Fox in 2017 to validate the ‘Scully effect,’ wherein Gillian Anderson’s character in ‘The X-Files’ inspired girls and young women to go into scientific fields.  ‘We found that 63 percent of the women who are working in STEM today attribute it to that character,’ Di Nonno says.

(15) ANCIENT MONUMENT. Gizmodo says the truth is out there – and for a change, not under water: Submerged for Decades, Spanish ‘Stonehenge’ Reemerges After Drought.

Receding water levels in Spain’s Valdecañas Reservoir has exposed a stone monument dating back to between 4,000 to 5,000 years ago.

Unusually warm weather produced drought conditions across much of Europe this past summer, including Spain. The lack of rain, while a headache for farmers and gardeners, has resulted in the complete re-emergence of an ancient megalithic site known as the Dolmen of Guadalperal, as reported in The Local.

(16) GLASS BELL AWARD. Here is the official announcement:  “VOX Wins Glass Bell Award 2019”. Crime fiction news site SHOTS adds photos and a longer story: “Urgent, Timely’ Feminist Dystopian Debut VOX Wins 2019 Goldsboro Books Glass Bell”.

Debut novelist Christina Dalcher has been awarded The Goldsboro Books Glass Bell Award 2019 for her thought-provoking and suspenseful dystopian thriller VOX, which imagines a near future in which an evangelical sect has taken control of the US and women have been limited to speaking just a hundred words a day. 

(17) PASTURES OF PLENTY. A catalog of links to these book reviews can be found at Friday’s Forgotten Books: The name of the reviewer comes first, then the name of what they reviewed.

  • Patricia/Abbott: Beautiful Ruins by Jesse Walter
  • Stacy Alesi: The G List: Fiction Reviews 1983-2013
  • Angie Barry: New Orleans Mourning by Julie Smith
  • Brad Bigelow: Angry Man’s Tale by Peter de Polnay
  • Paul Bishop: The Cowboy and the Cossack by Clair Huffaker
  • Les Blatt: Sealed Room Murder by Rupert Penny; The Case of the Fighting Soldier by Christopher Bush
  • Elgin Bleecker: Zero Avenue by Dietrich Kalteis
  • Joachim Boaz: Orbit 4, edited by Damon Knight
  • John Boston: Amazing: Fact and Science Fiction Stories, October 1964, edited by Cele Goldsmith Lalli
  • Brian Busby: The Silver Poppy by Arthur Stringer
  • Joseph J. Corn: “The First Successful Trip of an Airship” by A. I. Root, Gleanings in Bee Culture, 1 January 1905
  • Martin Edwards: Dear Laura by Jean Stubbs
  • Peter Enfantino: Atlas (proto-Marvel) horror comics, September 1952
  • Peter Enfantino and Jack Seabrook: DC war comics, September 1975
  • Will Errickson: The Nightrunners by Joe R. Lansdale; Slob by Rex Miller
  • José Ignacio Escribano: Murder in the Maze by “J. J. Connington” (Alfred Walter Stewart); Hallowe’en Party by Agatha Christie
  • Curtis Evans: Sudden Death by Freeman Wills Crofts
  • Olman Feelyus: The Girl from Nowhere by “Rae Foley” (Elinor Denniston); No Orchids for Miss Blandish by James Hadley Chase
  • Paul Fraser: New Worlds SF, August 1965, edited by Michael Moorcock (Jeremiah Cornelius)
  • Barry Gardner: Down in the Zero by Andrew Vachss
  • Kathleen George: Scoundrels edited by Gary Phillips
  • John Grant: This Sweet Sickness by Patricia Highsmith; The Courilof Affair by Irène Némirovsky (translated by Sandra Smith)
  • Aubrey Hamilton: The Gourmet Detective by Peter King; The Defendants by John Ellsworth
  • Bev Hankins: Thrones, Donations by Dorothy L. Sayers and Joan Paton Walsh; The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August by Claire North; False Scent by Ngaio Marsh; The Case of the Ill-Gotten Goat by Claudia Bishop
  • Rich Horton: Tanith Lee stories; Why Do Birds? and stories by Damon Knight; Wil McCarthy stories; Howard Waldrop stories; Steve Rasnic Tem stories
  • Jerry House: The Silent Death by “Maxwell Grant” (Walter B. Gibson); originally in The Shadow Magazine. 1 April 1933, edited by John Nanovic; Thriller Comics Library, 6 November 1956, “Dick Turpin and the Double-Faced Foe” written by Joan Whitford, story illustrations by Ruggero Giovanni
  • Kate Jackson: Stairway to an Empty Room and Terror Lurks in Darkness by Dolores Hitchens; Postern of Fate by Agatha Christie and Agatha Christie’s Murder in the Making as edited by John Curran
  • Tracy K: More Work for the Undertaker by Margery Allingham
  • Colman Keane: Darwin’s Nightmare by Mike Knowles
  • George Kelley: The Great SF Stories 13 (1951) edited by Isaac Asimov and Martin H. Greenberg
  • Joe Kenney: Omerta by Peter McCurtin; Fire Bomb by “Stuart Jason” (James Dockery)
  • Rob Kitchin: Don’t Look Back by Karin Fossum (translated by Felicity David); Tightrope by Simon Mawer
  • B. V. Lawson: Final Proof by Marie R. Reno
  • Evan Lewis: “Waterfront Wildcat” (text story) by Robert Turner, Crash Comics, November 1940
  • Steve Lewis: “Small Chances” by Charlaine Harris, Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine, September/ October 2016, edited by Janet Hutchings; The Wiseman Originals by Ron Goulart; Wedding Treasure by David Wilson
  • Mike S. Lind: The Madhouse in Washington Square by David Alexander
  • John O’Neill: The Quiet Invasion by Sarah Zettel
  • Matt Paust: Pnin by Vladimir Nabokov
  • James Reasoner: Stampede by “Yukon Miles” (Dan Cushman)
  • Richard Robinson: The Man in My Grave by Wilson Tucker
  • Sandra Ruttan: Sob Story by Carol Anne Davis
  • Gerard Saylor: Locked Doors by Blake Crouch
  • Steven H Silver: “The Button Molder” by Fritz Leiber, Whispers magazine, October 1979, edited and published by Stuart David Schiff; SF Commentary edited and published by Bruce Gillespie
  • Victoria Silverwolf: Worlds of Tomorrow, September 1964, edited by Frederik Pohl; Counterfeit World aka Simulacron-3 by Daniel F. Galouye
  • Kevin Tipple: Parker Field by Howard Owen
  • “TomCat”: Seeds of Murder by (F.) Van Wyck Mason; “The Case of Murder on D. Hill” aka “D zaka no satsujin-jiken” by “Edogawa Rampo” (Hirai Tar?), first published in Shin-Seinen, January 1925, and as translated by William Varteresian
  • Mike Tooney: Old-Time Detection, Summer 2019, edited by Arthur Vidro
  • David Vineyard: Prelude to a Certain Midnight by Gerald Kersh
  • Bill Wallace: The Day of the Monkey by David Karp; The White People by Arthur Machen; Turn Off Your Mind: The Mystic Sixties & the Dark Side of the Age of Aquarius by Gary Lachman

(18) VIDEO OF THE DAY. In “Alive at the Autoplex” on Vimeo, Zachary Loren Jones explains how bingewatching “Survivor” can help you survive a cosmic catastrophe!

[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, Cora Buhlert, Mike Kennedy, Darrah Chavey, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, John King Tarpinian, James Bacon, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories.  Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Chip Hitchcock.]