Pixel Scroll 12/21/20 I Saw Mommy Kzin Santa Claus

(1) BAKE AND SHAKE. Fan Dave Rowe, who lives on the Big Island, reassured his friends today:

Last night (Sunday 20th) Halema’uma’u magma chamber caused an eruption at Kilauea Volcano (it’s already stopped), that’s about twenty miles from here, and an hour later there was an earthquake which we experienced.  No damage to us or our home. The lava flow went south-west, well away from us.

(2) PAY THE WRITER, REDUX. Inside the Magic, which specializes in covering Disney properties, quotes a less intransigent response to the unpaid royalty issue raised by Alan Dean Foster, SFWA, and others than the company originally gave:  “More Writers Report Missing Royalty Payments From Disney”.

…Disney initially responded by saying that it purchased the rights of the novels when it acquired the parent properties Lucasfilm and 20th Century and no longer needed to pay royalties. But a Disney spokesman has since come forward, and said, “We are carefully reviewing whether any royalty payments may have been missed as a result of acquisition integration and will take appropriate remedial steps if that is the case.”

While the royalty payments are expected to be a small percentage of Disney’s profits — especially with Lucasfilm’s properties — the more daunting task appears to be calculating how much Disney owes its writers over the past six years. That requires tracking down the sales of every book under every author’s name in every market around the world.

Foster’s agent estimates that he “had made more than $50,000 in royalties on the original Star Wars novelization alone before the checks stopped in 2012.”…

(3) ISS MAS. The stockings were hung by the bulkhead with care. “Starry Night: A History of Celebrating Christmas in Space” at Mental Floss.

…No American had an overlapping space mission with Christmas again until 1996, when John Blaha was on board Russia’s Mir space station. Blaha and the crew received a delivery from the Progress spacecraft, which was full of presents, cards, and food. “It was a shining star, rising toward us at great speed from beneath the horizon,” Blaha later recalled of the Progress. “All of a sudden, the light from the Progress extinguished as we passed into the shade of the Earth. Five seconds later, four lights on the Progress were turned on. I watched the remainder of the rendezvous through a tiny window in the aft end of the Kvant module.”

Opening the packages from Progress, he added, was “like Christmas and your birthday, all rolled together, when you are 5 years old.” What might become routine to Earthbound observers took on a new and special meaning in the vastness of space.

(4) DEGREE OF DIFFICULTY. Cliff sent me the link to “Goodreads’ 200 Most Difficult Novels”. I’m no fan of difficult novels, which accounts for my score of 13 read. In contrast, Cliff scored 45/200. But should any Neil Gaiman novel be on a “most difficult” list, let alone half a dozen of them? It’s also not clear what Stephen Hawking’s A Brief History of Time is doing on a list of novels although I shouldn’t complain, since I got a point for reading it.

(5) ET BLOWN HOME. [Item by James Davis Nicoll.] From a paper at arXiv.org: Model suggests absence of ET is one part we’re late to the party, one part we’re in the wrong neighborhood, and one part most technological species kill themselves off comparatively quickly. “A Statistical Estimation of the Occurrence of Extraterrestrial Intelligence in the Milky Way Galaxy”.

In the field of Astrobiology, the precise location, prevalence and age of potential extraterrestrial intelligence (ETI) have not been explicitly explored. Here, we address these inquiries using an empirical galactic simulation model to analyze the spatial-temporal variations and the prevalence of potential ETI within the Galaxy. This model estimates the occurrence of ETI, providing guidance on where to look for intelligent life in the Search for ETI (SETI) with a set of criteria, including well-established astrophysical properties of the Milky Way. Further, typically overlooked factors such as the process of abiogenesis, different evolutionary timescales and potential self-annihilation are incorporated to explore the growth propensity of ETI. We examine three major parameters: 1) the likelihood rate of abiogenesis ({\lambda}A); 2) evolutionary timescales (Tevo); and 3) probability of self-annihilation of complex life (Pann). We found Pann to be the most influential parameter determining the quantity and age of galactic intelligent life. Our model simulation also identified a peak location for ETI at an annular region approximately 4 kpc from the Galactic center around 8 billion years (Gyrs), with complex life decreasing temporally and spatially from the peak point, asserting a high likelihood of intelligent life in the galactic inner disk. The simulated age distributions also suggest that most of the intelligent life in our galaxy are young, thus making observation or detection difficult.

(6) GILER OBIT. David Giler, who won a Hugo as the producer of Aliens, died on October 19 in Bangkok, from cancer. Deadline recaps his career. These are just a few of his genre credits —

…Giler’s screenwriting credits include The Parallax View (1974), Fun With Dick And Jane (1977) and The Money Pit (1986). He has writing or story credits for both Aliens (1986) and Aliens 3 (1992), and was a producer of the original Alien (1979) and its seven sequels, up to 2017’s Alien: Covenant (though his and Hill’s involvement lessened in the later sequels).

…In television, Giler wrote scripts for ’60s series Burke’s Law, The Man From U.N.C.L.E. and The Girl From U.N.C.L.E. In 1970, at 25 years old, Giler took on Gore Vidal’s Myra Breckinridge, his battles with director Michael Sarne becoming nearly as infamous as the legendary Raquel Welch-Rex Reed flop itself. One significant outlier: Vidal himself, who praised Giler’s original draft and became a lifelong friend….

(7) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

  • December 21, 1937 –On this day 83 years ago, Walt Disney released Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, one of the earliest full-length animated films. It premiered at the Carthay Circle Theatre in Los Angeles, California. It was the first full-length cel animated feature film and the earliest Disney animated feature film.  It was a critical and commercial success and, with international earnings of more than eight million dollars during its initial release, (compared to its 1.5 million dollar budget), it briefly held the record of highest-grossing sound film at the time.  He took out a mortgage on his house to help finance the film. 

(7b) MEDIA ANNIVESARY.

1958 — At Solacon in South Gate, California, the first Hugo for Outstanding Movie would be awarded. It would go to Richard Matheson for The Incredible Shrinking Man, a Universal Film which had premiered the previous year for which he had written the screenplay based off his novel The Shrinking Man. It had been published by Gold Medal Books / Fawcett two years previously in paperback for thirty five cents. It would be his only Hugo. 

(8) TODAY’S DAY.

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]

  • Born December 21, 1892 – Dame Rebecca West.  Immortal for Black Lamb and Grey Falcon (1941; get an edition with her husband’s photos), she wrote us a novel and two shorter stories.  Feminist and idiosyncratic.  (Died 1983) [JH]
  • Born December 21, 1898 – Hubert Rogers.  One of our greatest artists, whom we naturally honored with not one Hugo or Chesley.  Five dozen covers, three hundred interiors.  Here is the Aug 40 Astounding.  Here is the Aug 49.  Here is the Jan 52.  Here is The Man Who Sold the Moon.  Here is an interior for “Children of the Lens”.  See Di Fate’s treatment in Infinite Worlds.  (Died 1982) [JH]
  • December 21, 1929 James Cawthorn. An illustrator, comics artist and writer who worked predominantly with Michael Moorcock. He had met him through their involvement in fandom. They would co-write The Land that Time Forgot film, and he drew “The Sonic Assassins” strip which was based on Hawkwind that ran in Frendz. He also did interior and cover art for a number of publications from the Fifties onwards including (but not limited to) Vector 3New Worlds SFScience Fantasy and Yandro. (Died 2008.) (CE) 
  • December 21, 1937 Jane Fonda, 83. I’m sure everyone here has seen her in Barbarella. Her only other genre appearances are apparently by voice work as Shuriki in the animated Elena of Avalor series, and in the Spirits of the Dead, a 1968 anthology film based on the work of Poe. She was the Contessa Frederique de Metzengerstein in the “Metzengerstein” segment of the film.  (CE) 
  • December 21, 1943 John Nance. Let’s just say he and David Lynch were rather connected. He’s Henry Spencer in Eraserhead, he had a small role as the Harkonnen Captain Iakin Nefud in Dune and he’s Pete Martell in Twin Peaks. He had a supporting role as Paul, a friend of Dennis Hopper’s villain character in Blue Velvet but even I couldn’t stretch that film to be genre adjacent. (Died 1996.) (CE)
  • Born December 21, 1944 – James Sallis, age 76.  For us a novel, a hundred twenty shorter stories, half a dozen poems, a hundred book reviews in The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, a stint co-editing New Worlds, two anthologies, Ash of Stars on Samuel Delany; also crime fiction (Grand Prix de Littérature policière, Hammett Award, Bouchercon lifetime achievement award), music including as a teacher and musicologist, translator e.g. Queneau’s Saint Glinglin.  [JH]
  • Born December 21, 1946 – Lenny Bailes, age 74.  San Francisco Bay Area fan, ornament (that’s applause, Lenny) to FAPAOMPASFPA.  Fanzines Ink Gun BluesWhistlestar.  Guest of Honor at Minicon 35.  [JH]
  • December 21, 1948 Samuel L. Jackson,  72. Where to start? Did you know that with his permission, his likeness was used for the Ultimates version of the Nick Fury? It’s a great series btw. He has also played Fury in the Iron ManIron Man 2, Thor, Captain America: The First AvengerThe AvengersCaptain America: The Winter SoldierAvengers: Age of Ultron and Avengers: Infinity War and showed up on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. too! He voiced Lucius Best (a.k.a. Frozone) in the Incredibles franchise, Mace Windu in The Phantom Menace and The Clone Wars, the Afro Samurai character in the anime series of the same name and more other genre work than can be listed here comfortably so go ahead and add your favorite role by him. (CE) 
  • Born December 21, 1963 – Mandy Slater, age 57.  A dozen short stories.  Interviewed Bob Eggleton for Secret City.  Worked on Program Ops (or “Oops”) at candidate-for-best-ever-Worldcon (the 47th) Noreascon 3.  [JH]
  • December 21, 1966 Michelle Hurd, 54. She currently portrays Raffi Musiker in Picard. (I weirdly thought she’d been on Trek before but she hadn’t.) She was in a twenty year old Justice League of America pilot as B.B. DaCosta / Fire, and one-offs in Beyond Belief: Fact or FictionLeap YearsCharmedFlashForward, and Witches of East End. She had recurring roles inAsh vs. Evil Dead as Linda Bates Emery and Daredevil asSamantha Reyes. (CE) 
  • December 21, 1966 Kiefer Sutherland, 54. My he’s been in a lot of genre undertakings! I think that The Lost Boys was his first such of many to come including FlatlinersTwin Peaks: Fire Walk with MeThe Three Musketeers, voice work in Armitage: Poly-MatrixDark City, more voice work in The Land Before Time X: The Great Longneck Migration, Marmaduke and Dragonlance: Dragons of Autumn TwilightMirrors, and yes, he’s in the second Flatliners as a new character. (CE)
  • Born December 21, 1982 – Eliza Wheeler, age 38.  Author and illustrator.  Here is Doll Bones.  Here is The Left-Handed Fate.  Here is “Sky Sailing”.  Here is Cornelius the Grudge Keeper.  In this interview after winning the SCBWI (Soc. of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators) portfolio-showcase grand prize she shows how she built a picture and includes a few others like this.  [JH]

(10) COMICS SECTION.

  • Brewster Rockit’s idea for a 2020 holiday souvenir makes me think the strip should have ended with someone keeling over and saying, “Rosebud.”

(11) THE BURBANK LETTERS. At Black Gate, Bob Byrne reacquaints fans with Groucho Marx’s “The Casablanca Letters”. (And for a much fuller explanation, consult Snopes.)

I think that Groucho Marx was one of the funniest men who ever lived. And I laugh out loud a the movies he made with his brothers. Well, most of them, anyways. I strongly recommend his book. The Groucho Letters. When word was making the rounds around 1944 that the boys were going to make a movie called A Night in Casablanca, Warner Brothers threatened legal action.…

(12) ALIAS MOOSE AND SQUIRREL. The Smithsonian Magazine explores “How Bullwinkle Taught Kids Sophisticated Political Satire”.

Mr. Chairman, I am against all foreign aid, especially to places like Hawaii and Alaska,” says Senator Fussmussen from the floor of a cartoon Senate in 1962. In the visitors’ gallery, Russian agents Boris Badenov and Natasha Fatale are deciding whether to use their secret “Goof Gas” gun to turn the Congress stupid, as they did to all the rocket scientists and professors in the last episode of “Bullwinkle.”

Another senator wants to raise taxes on everyone under the age of 67. He, of course, is 68. Yet a third stands up to demand, “We’ve got to get the government out of government!” The Pottsylvanian spies decide their weapon is unnecessary: Congress is already ignorant, corrupt and feckless.

(13) ONE TO BEAM DOWN. In the Washington Post, Dalvin Brown discusses “immersive technology start-up Blank XR,” which plans to use virtual reality to beam holograms of performers into people’s homes, thanks to a $3500 headset that “projects 3-D images that respond to your voice and gestures” so you can immerse yourself in a concert at home. “BLANK XR has plans for mixed-reality concert platform”.

…Live-streaming performances and music downloads brought in some revenue, but those experiences aren’t as captivating or money-generating as in-person concerts. That’s where innovative tech offerings like holograms and personalized digital concerts fit in, according to Denise White, CEO of BLANK XR and former director of direct-to-consumer technologies at the Walt Disney Company.

“From our point of view, the new normal is holographic,” White said. “What that will enable you to do is put on a headset and actually have a conversation with your favorite artists.”

Digitizing musicians and capturing their likeness involves a two-step process…

(14) SOME RARE GOOD NEWS. And are you ready to hear it? “Holiday Special with Dwayne Johnson: Some Good News with John Krasinski”.

John Krasinski highlights some good news around the world, including weather from George Clooney, a message from Justin Timberlake, and John’s friend Dwanta Claus, aka Dwayne Johnson, joins to spread some holiday cheer for the end of 2020.

(15) VIDEO OF THE DAY. Ryan George, in “TENET Pitch Meeting” on ScreenRant, says that TENET “is so confusing and hard to hear that people will have to see it several times” to figure out what the film is all about.

[Thanks to Michael Toman, Trey Palmer, JJ, Cat Eldridge, John Hertz, Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, John King Tarpinian, Stephen H Silver, Rich Lynch, and Martin Morse Wooster for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]

Pixel Scroll 5/26/20 Parsley, Sage, Rosemary And Time Enough For Love Potions Numbers 7, 8 And 9

(1) ON YOUR MARX. If this Scroll is posted in time, you can make it to Mark Evanier’s livestream Newsfromme.tv Conversations with Steve Stoliar, starting tonight at 7 p.m. Pacific:

In addition to being a comedy writer and voice actor, Steve Stoliar had the unique experience of being Groucho Marx’s personal assistant/secretary during the last years of that great comedian’s life. Mark Evanier talks with him about Groucho, the controversial Erin Fleming and all things Marxian except Karl.

(2) ROWLING’S NEXT. Mackenzie Nichols, in the Variety story, “J.K. Rowling Announces New Children’s Book ‘The Ickabog’” says that Rowling has announced the publication of The Ickabog, which is not part of the Harry Potter universe but is meant for 7-9 olds.  She intends to post a chapter every day at theickabog.com until July 10 and promises that profits from the book will aid COVID-19 relief.

Unlike her spinoff stories “Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them” or “Quidditch Through the Ages,” “The Ickabog” has no relation to the “Harry Potter” series. And while plot details about “The Ickabog” were scarce, the author said its thematic elements are timeless.

“‘The Ickabog’ is a story about truth and the abuse of power,” Rowling said. “To forestall one obvious question: the idea came to me well over a decade ago, so it isn’t intended to be read as a response to anything that’s happening in the world right now. The themes are timeless and could apply to any era or any country.”

At The Ickabog website she says —  

I had the idea for The Ickabog a long time ago and read it to my two younger children chapter by chapter each night while I was working on it. However, when the time came to publish it, I decided to put out a book for adults instead, which is how The Ickabog ended up in the attic. I became busy with other things, and even though I loved the story, over the years I came to think of it as something that was just for my own children.

Then this lockdown happened. It’s been very hard on children, in particular, so I brought The Ickabog down from the attic, read it for the first time in years, rewrote bits of it and then read it to my children again. They told me to put back in some bits they’d liked when they were little, and here we are!

Everyone will be invited to draw for the story, too: The Ickabog Illustration Competition.

The most exciting part, for me, at least, is that I’d like you to illustrate The Ickabog for me. Every day, I’ll be making suggestions for what you might like to draw. You can enter the official competition being run by my publishers, for the chance to have your artwork included in a printed version of the book due out later this year. I’ll be giving suggestions as to what to draw as we go along, but you should let your imagination run wild.

(3) PRIZEWINNER. Naomi Kritzer got a fine write-up in the hometown Pioneer Press: “St. Paul author stunned by success of genre-jumping “CatNet””.

Naomi Kritzer was 4 when she discovered science fiction through the first “Star Wars” film.

“I was grabbed by John Williams’ music, the lightsabers, the magic of The Force. It all appealed to me and sold me on science fiction,” Kritzer recalls.

Now, 43 years later, The Force is with this St. Paul author. Her genre-jumping young adult novel “Catfishing on CatNet, ” about teenagers who befriend a sentient artificial intelligence who lives in the internet, is scooping up major honors. It’s based on her award-winning, 2015 short story “Cat Pictures Please.”

Last month Kritzer collected two prestigious awards in three days. She won a Minnesota Book Award on April 28, and on April 30 she won a Mystery Writers of America Edgar Award. In early May her book was a Silver Winner in the Nautilus Book Awards, which focus on books striving to make a better world….

(4) IRRESISTIBLE ALICE BOOK. [Item by Daniel Dern.] While I’m not a compleatist Carroll/Alice collector, seeing this in the Bud’s Art Books mailer I got today caught my eye.

(Yes, I know there’s a Carroll society. I’m about to join. And I’ll write an item RSN/PDQ, including a nod to an SFnal connection. But this is semi-news.)

I noticed in the new Bud’s Art Books (although I still think of them as Bud Plant) mini-catalog that came in today’s (snail) mail that there’s a new (not yet out) book — here’s info.

“Lewis Carroll’s Alice was first published in 1865 and has never been out of print, translated into 170 languages. But why does it have such enduring and universal appeal, for both adults and children? This book explores the global impact of Alice in art, design, and performance from the 19th century to today. Starting with the Victorian literary and social context in which this story was created, it shows the ways it’s been reimagined and reinterpreted by each new generation, from the original illustrations by John Tenniel to artwork by Peter Blake and Salvador Dali, and from the 1951 Disney movie to Tim Burton’s 2010 interpretation.”

Bud’s listing says $50 (plus shipping), “Due July” but when I placed my order (after hesitating a modest 20 seconds), it said “This product is not available in the requested quantity. 1 of the items will be backordered.”

I included a note in my order asking whether that reflected it being not out yet, or whether they already had more orders than they anticipated copies to fulfill existing orders.

Amazon also has it listed $45.82, Sept 15. Here’s the info text from Amazon:

“Explore the phenomenon of Alice in Wonderland, which has captivated readers from Walt Disney to Annie Leibovitz for over 150 years.

Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland is a cultural phenomenon. First published in 1865, it has never been out of print and has been translated into 170 languages. But why does it have such enduring and universal appeal for both adults and children?

This book explores the global impact of Alice in Wonderland across art, design and performance from the nineteenth century to today. It shows how Alice has been re-imagined and reinterpreted by each new generation: from the original illustrations by John Tenniel to artwork by Peter Blake and Salvador Dali, and from the 1951 Disney movie to Tim Burton’s latest interpretation.

This beautiful, playful publication also includes specially commissioned interactive illustrations by award-winning artist Kristjana S. Williams, as well as quotes from an array of cultural creators from Stephen Fry to Tim Walker, Ralph Steadman to Little Simz about the profound influence of Alice on their work.”

Whether this book is basically redundant to my modest collection of Aliceiana, I’ll find out.

(5) ALASKAN CONFIDENTIAL. In “Noir Fiction: When The Real Is Too Raw” on CrimeReads, Laird Barron, who writes horror and crime fiction, discusses the colorful people who visited his parents when he lived in Alaska and how he used these people as materials for his crime novels.

…A colorful ex-con named Tommy operated within those precincts. Tommy did time at the Goose Creek Penitentiary; warrants dogged him. He allegedly peddled coke for some bigger fish in Anchorage. Tommy drove a wired-together Datsun, or a motorcycle for the three months a man could do so without freezing his family jewels off. His favorite pastime included getting drunk at the lodge and harassing townies who alighted for weekend flings. He hated “the man.” To demonstrate his disdain, he’d snip pocket change in half with pliers….

(6) GET THE LIST. Andrew Liptak’s latest Reading List features an “Interview with Marko Kloos”.

Did you find taking that break from Frontlines beneficial? What did you take from that break that you were able to apply to the series?

It was immensely beneficial, even if I did get some flak from a few readers for daring to start another series when they were waiting for more Frontlines. But I really needed a bit of mental distance from that universe to come up with more stories worth telling. As long as it takes a few days to read what takes a few months to write, readers will want more books as quickly as possible.

(7) ART CRITICS STAND BY. Mark Lawrence (per his tradition) has followed the Self-Published Fantasy Blog-Off book competition by announckng the “SPFBO 6 Cover Contest”. The finalists have been picked by the bloggers. Not all the entries are in yet. When they are, the public will be invited to vote on the winner. Says Lawrence:

The public vote is of course a bit of fun and subject to all the issues of brigading and cheating that online polls often are – though our anti-cheat software is more effective than the raw poll results might lead you to believe.

(8) GOLDEN AGE SF ARTIST. Doug Ellis offers a catalog of art from the estate of artist Hubert Rogers, items now available for sale.

When John W. Campbell, the legendary editor of Astounding Science Fiction, looked for an artist to give expression to the groundbreaking fiction he was running during what is now known as science fiction’s Golden Age, he selected veteran pulp illustrator Hubert Rogers. For nearly 15 years (with a break during the war years, when he returned to his native Canada and contributed art for the war effort), Rogers was Astounding’s primary cover artist and a prolific interior artist, contributing distinctive art imbued with a touch of class, distinguishing Astounding from its fellow pulp competitors.

Unlike many science fiction artists, Rogers received much of his original art back from the publisher. This has been held by the Rogers family for the past 80 years, with only occasional pieces being offered in the market. Rogers’ daughter, Liz, has now decided to make available to collectors nearly all of the remaining art in their collection, which is listed in this catalog. This is truly a unique opportunity to acquire vintage science fiction art from the estate of the artist.

But Rogers didn’t only create classic science fiction art. His pulp art also included covers for the hero pulps, and two of his covers for Street & Smith’s The Wizard (a companion title to Astounding) can be found here for sale as well.

  • The illustrated catalog can be found here.
  • And you can download high res images of all the art in a zip file here.
This example of Rogers’ art is a scan from the magazine cover — the original for sale is much more brightly colored.

(9) TODAY IN HISTORY.

  • May 26, 1995 Johnny Mnemonic premiered. Based on the William Gibson short story of the same name, it was directed by Robert Longo in his directorial debut. It starred Keanu Reeves, Takeshi Kitan, Henry Rollins, Ice-T, Dina Meyer and Dolph Lundgren. Despite the story itself being well received and even being nominated for a Nebula Award, the response among critics to the film was overwhelmingly negative. It currently holds a 31% rating on Rotten Tomatoes among audience reviewers. It is available to watch here.

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]

  • Born May 26, 1840 – Frederick Walker.  Painter, pen & ink illustrator, wood engraver, watercolors.  Renowned in his day.  Social Realist; see herehere.  Incorporated fantasy, see here (Spirit Painting), here.  (Died 1875) [JH]
  • Born May 26, 1865 Robert Chambers. His most-remembered work was The King in Yellow short stories. Though he would turn away from these supernatural tellings, Lovecraft’s included some of them in his Supernatural Horror in Literature critical study. Critics thought his work wasn’t as great as could have been. That said, Stross, Wagner, Carter and even Blish are said to have been influenced by him. (Died 1933.) (CE)
  • Born May 26, 1867 – André Devambez.  Painter, illustrator, engraver, printmaker.  Contributed to Le Figaro IllustréLe RireL’Illustration.  Look at The Only Bird that Flies Above the Cloudshere, factual but fantastic; imagine seeing it in 1910.  Here is an illustration for Noëlle Roger’s cataclysmic The New Deluge (1922).  Here is an oil Leprechauns in an Undergrowth.  (Died 1944) [JH]
  • Born May 26, 1903 Harry Steeger. He co-founded Popular Publications in 1930, one of the major publishers of pulp magazines, with former classmate Harold S. Goldsmith. They published The Spider which he created, and with Horror Stories and Terror Tales, he started the “Shudder Pulp” genre. So lacking in taste were these pulps, even a jaded public eventually rejected them. (Died 1990.) (CE)
  • Born May 26, 1913 Peter Cushing. Best-known for his roles in the Hammer Productions horror films of the Fifties to the Seventies, as well as his performance as Grand Moff Tarkin in Star Wars. He also played Holmes many times, and though not considered canon, he was the Doctor in Daleks’ Invasion Earth 2150 A.D. and Dr. Who and the Daleks. He even made appearances in both The Avengers and The New Avengers as well as Space: 1999. There’s a CGI recreation of Grand Moff Tarkin used for his likeness in Rogue One. (Died 1994.) (CE)
  • Born May 26, 1913 – Joan Jefferson Farjeon.  Scenic designer, illustrated published versions of plays she’d done, also fairy tales.  See here (a frog footman), here (a tiger lily), here.  From a 1951 stage production, here is a moment in Beauty and the Beast.  (Died 2006) [JH]
  • Born May 26, 1921 Mordecai Roshwald. He’s best-known for Level 7. (Read the expanded 2004 edition as it has his SF framing narrative.) He is also the author of A Small Armageddon, and a nonfiction work, Dreams and Nightmares: Science and Technology in Myth and Fiction. (Died 2015.) (CE)
  • Born May 26, 1923 Roy Dotrice. I’ll always think of him first and foremost as Jacob “Father” Wells on Beauty and the Beast. He was Commissioner Simmonds in two episodes of Space: 1999. He also appeared in a recurring  role on Hercules: The Legendary Journeys as Zeus. He’s on A Game of Thrones in the second season playing “Wisdom Hallyne the Pyromancer” in “The Ghost of Harrenhal” and “Blackwater” episodes. He narrates at least some of the GoT audiobooks. (Died 2017.) (CE)
  • Born May 26, 1925 – Howard DeVore.  Began collecting, 1936.  Michigan Science Fantasy Society, 1948 (Hal Shapiro said it was the Michigan Instigators of Science Fantasy for Intellectual Thinkers Society, i.e. MISFITS).  Leading dealer in SF books, paraphernalia; known as Big-Hearted Howard, a compliment-complaint-compliment; called himself “a huckster, 1st class”.  Active in Nat’l Fantasy Fan Fed’n; Neffy Award.  Also Fantasy Amateur Press Ass’n (FAPA), Spectator Am. Pr. Soc. (SAPS).  Said a Worldcon would be in Detroit over his dead body; was dragged across the stage; became Publicity head for Detention the 17th Worldcon.  With Donald Franson The Hugo, Nebula, and World Fantasy Awards (through 3rd ed’n 1998).  Named Fan Guest of Honor for 64th Worldcon, but died before the con.  His beanie had a full-size airplane propeller.  (Died 2005) [JH]
  • Born May 26, 1933 – Yôji Kondô.  Ph.D. in astrophysics. Aikido (7th degree black belt) and judo (6th degree). Senior positions at NASA, Medal for Exceptional Scientific Achievement; two hundred scientific papers; for more on that work, see here.  SF as Eric Kotani; six novels, most with J.M. Roberts; two shorter stories; edited Requiem tribute to Heinlein; non-fiction Interstellar Travel & Multi-Generation Space Ships with F. Bruhweiler, J. Moore, C. Sheffield; essays, mostly co-authored, in SF Age and Analog.  Heinlein Award.  Writers of the Future judge.  Obituary by OGH here.  (Died 2017) [JH]
  • Born May 26, 1938 – Lyudmila Petrushevskaya. Author (including plays and screenwriting), singer, painter, animator.  Russian Booker Prize, Pushkin Prize, World Fantasy Award.  Twenty short stories in our field, most recently in The Paris Review.  [JH]
  • Born May 26, 1946 – Mike Horvat.  Printer by trade.  Co-founder of Slanapa (the Slanderous Amateur Press Ass’n).  Donated his fanzine collection to U. Iowa, see here.  Active in apas outside our field, a decades-longer tradition; founded the American Private Press Ass’n, was its Librarian until 2005. Also amateur radio, postage stamps.  [JH]
  • Born May 26, 1954 – Lisbeth Zwerger.  Children’s book illustrator.  Hans Christian Andersen and Silver Brush awards; Grand Prize from German Academy for Children’s & Youth Literature.  Thirty books, most of them fantasy; see here (Swan Lake), here (the Mad Tea Party), here.  [JH]

(11) COMICS SECTION.

(12) FROM THE CIRCULAR FILE. Paul Levitz recalls the days when comics scripts were tossed in the trash after the project was over in “Artifacts”.

…Notwithstanding this, I saved a bunch of scripts from the trash for my own eduction. I’d pick out one each from the writers whose work I respected, or maybe a particularly interesting tale to study. I was limited to the scripts that passed through Joe Orlando’s editorial office–as his assistant I could take what I wanted of those, but it would have been de trop to raid Julie Schwartz’s garbage down the hall (assuming he hadn’t poured his yankee bean soup remains from lunch all over it, anyway). I learned what I could from them, then filed them away somewhere at home….

(13) THE BEER THAT MADE MFULA FAMOUS. “Under Pandemic Prohibition, South Africans Resort to Pineapples”Atlas Obscura has the story.

ON MARCH 15, THE DAY before South Africans were plunged into a lockdown which prohibited sales of alcohol, cigarettes, and takeout food, lines outside liquor stores spilled into the streets. One bottle store owner told me he did a month’s trade in a day.

Three weeks later, when President Cyril Ramaphosa made it clear the booze ban wouldn’t be lifted anytime soon, South Africans started to get desperate. Bottle store break-ins and drone-assisted drink deliveries made the news across the country. Then came the tenfold leap in pineapple sales: from 10,000 a day to nearly 100,000.

Thirsty South Africans have turned to making their own beer out of pineapples. In normal times, you can get sloshed on pineapple beer at the Big Pineapple, a 56-foot fiberglass construction in subtropical Bathurst. But these are not normal times. Luckily, pineapple beer—which is technically more of a wine or cider, as there’s no boiling involved—is easy to make, and can even be quite pleasant to drink.

(14) HELLO? ANYONE OUT THERE? [Item by Mike Kennedy.] Popular Mechanics takes a popsci look at a new analysis of the development intelligent life. “This Math Formula Has Determined the Odds of Aliens Existing” In a recent paper (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 18 May 2020), astronomer David Kipping uses Bayesian analysis to ponder the probabilities of intelligent life developing here or elsewhere. The paper’s statement of significance reads:

Does life’s early emergence mean that it would reappear quickly if we were to rerun Earth’s clock? If the timescale for intelligence evolution is very slow, then a quick start to life is actually necessary for our existence—and thus does not necessarily mean it is a generally quick process. Employing objective Bayesianism and a uniform-rate process assumption, we use just the chronology of life’s appearance in the fossil record, that of ourselves, and Earth’s habitability window to infer the true underlying rates accounting for this subtle selection effect. Our results find betting odds of >3:1 that abiogenesis is indeed a rapid process versus a slow and rare scenario, but 3:2 odds that intelligence may be rare.

Popular Mechanics sums up the paper with a single quote:

“Overall, our work supports an optimistic outlook for future searches for biosignatures,” the paper explains.

(15) ARM YOURSELVES. Daniel Dern quips, “This is the droid we’ve been looking for!” “Robotic Arm Wields UV Light Wand To Disinfect Public Spaces” in IEEE Spectrum.

Properly disinfecting public spaces can help stop the spread of coronavirus, but cleaning crews are often not properly trained how to do so. Also, if the workers don’t wear personal protective equipment, they are at risk for infection.

IEEE Fellow Satyandra K. Gupta is leading a research team at the University of Southern California’s Viterbi Center for Advanced Manufacturing in Los Angeles that is building a robotic arm that uses a UV light sanitizer to clean contaminated areas.

(16) OUTSIDE THE BOX. ScreenRant reports that Big Finish has lined up two Doctors for this audio drama: “Doctor Who: David Tennant & Tom Baker Unite Against Daleks In New Story”.

David Tennant and Tom Baker are uniting to battle the Daleks in an upcoming Doctor Who audio-drama. The longest-running sci-fi TV series in the world, Doctor Who has become a cult classic. Regeneration is the secret to the show’s success. Doctor Who can reinvent itself periodically, recasting its star and allowing a new showrunner to take it in entirely new directions.

Every now and again, though, two or more incarnations of the Doctor come together in a fan-pleasing adventure in which they battle against iconic foes…. 

The plot is –

The Cathedral of Contemplation is an enigma, existing outside time. It turns through history, opening its doors across the universe to offer solace to those in need.

Occasionally, the Doctor drops in – when he’s avoiding his destiny, it’s an ideal place to get some perspective. Only, he’s already there several lives earlier, so when dimension barriers break down, his past and present collide.

And when the Daleks invade and commandeer the Cathedral, two Doctors must unite to stop them – or face extermination twice over!

(17) OTHER PEOPLE STARED, AS IF WE WERE BOTH QUITE INSANE. This is wild! The “augmented reality” bus stop window.

[Thanks to Mlex, Michael Toman, N., Andrew Porter, JJ, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, John Hertz, Nina Shepardson, Chip Hitchcock, Cat Eldridge, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day, the man who does for Scroll titles what Escher did for architecture, Daniel Dern.]