Pixel Scroll 7/29/21 How Many Hugo Finalists Can Scroll On The Head Of A Pixel

(1) WHO’S NEXT? The Thirteenth Doctor and the showrunner will both be replaced reports Radio Times: “Jodie Whittaker and Chris Chibnall confirmed to leave Doctor Who”.

Jodie Whittaker and Chris Chibnall.

Both star and showrunner will bow out following a six-part series (set to air later in 2021), two specials (already planned for 2022), plus one final feature-length adventure for the Thirteenth Doctor which will also mark the BBC’s centenary next year.

In a statement, Chibnall said: “Jodie and I made a ‘three series and out’ pact with each other at the start of this once-in-a-lifetime blast. So now our shift is done, and we’re handing back the TARDIS keys.

“Jodie’s magnificent, iconic Doctor has exceeded all our high expectations. She’s been the gold standard leading actor, shouldering the responsibility of being the first female Doctor with style, strength, warmth, generosity and humour. She captured the public imagination and continues to inspire adoration around the world, as well as from everyone on the production. I can’t imagine working with a more inspiring Doctor – so I’m not going to!…”

Whittaker, who was cast as the first female incarnation of the Doctor in 2017, said: “In 2017 I opened my glorious gift box of size 13 shoes. I could not have guessed the brilliant adventures, worlds and wonders I was to see in them. My heart is so full of love for this show, for the team who make it, for the fans who watch it and for what it has brought to my life. And I cannot thank Chris enough for entrusting me with his incredible stories.

“We knew that we wanted to ride this wave side by side, and pass on the baton together. So here we are, weeks away from wrapping on the best job I have ever had. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to express what this role has given me. I will carry the Doctor and the lessons I’ve learnt forever.

“I know change can be scary and none of us know what’s out there. That’s why we keep looking. Travel Hopefully. The Universe will surprise you. Constantly.”

A RadioTimes.com poll last year voted Whittaker the show’s second most popular Doctor of all time, behind David Tennant’s Tenth Doctor.

It’s not obvious who the candidates are to take over as showrunner says Radio Times: “Doctor Who’s ‘new generation’ will be announced ‘in due course’”.

…Within the current stable of Who writers, only a handful (including Vinay Patel and Pete McTighe) have written more than one episode, and it’s unclear whether the BBC would look within the current writing staff or elsewhere to find someone to take on the often demanding showrunner job.

In other words, the speculation isn’t just for who could replace Jodie Whittaker any more. Who is the new Chris Chibnall? Taking all bets…

And there’s been an adjustment to the schedule of Doctor Who episodes and specials to accommodate the BBC’s 100th anniversary celebration next year: “Doctor Who series 13 will be six episodes long – with specials in 2022”.

The upcoming thirteenth series of Doctor Who will be six episodes long, the BBC has confirmed.

It was originally announced that there would be eight episodes in the season, but it has now been announced that the main series will consist of just half a dozen episodes, each of which will form part of an ongoing storyline.

In addition, a trilogy of specials will now air in 2022 – one more than had previously been planned, with the first airing on New Year’s Day 2022 and a second following later in spring 2022.

…The third feature-length special, in which the Thirteenth Doctor will regenerate, will then air in autumn 2022, forming part of the BBC’s Centenary celebrations.

(2) COVID POLICIES FOR TWO MEGACONS. PAX West, which is September 3-6 this year, is requiring proof of either vaccination or a negative COVID test for attendance this year — see “Health & Safety Update”.

Throughout the year, the PAX team has been actively working to support a safe environment for our PAX West visitors. We are pleased to announce that, in line with the recommendations of state and local public health authorities, we will be implementing a vaccination or negative COVID-19 test requirement for everyone at PAX West. We appreciate your patience as we worked with our venue and the authorities to create our comprehensive plan….

Dragon Con, which is the same weekend, has promised to set its policy at least 30 days before the con, which means it should be announced by next week.

…As the nation continues to emerge from the pandemic, the rules and expectations are changing fast. We are working closely with the public health officials at the Georgia Department of Public Health, the Fulton County Health Department and the experts hired by our hotels to establish a set of health and safety protocols. We don’t know at this point what these ground rules will look like by Labor Day, but we are committed to communicating them as soon as the plan is finalized and at least 30 days before the convention.

(3) WINDOW ON A CENTURY. Tanner Greer asks what we can learn from the popularity of YA in “Escaping Only So Far” in City Journal.

…Future social historians will not be able to consult an oral tradition of fairy tales in an investigation of the twenty-first century’s “mental ordering,” but they will have an equally vast catalog of fictional narratives at their disposal. For the most popular stories of our own day also tend toward the fantastic. Speculative fiction—fantasy, science fiction, and dystopian prophecies—has captured the imagination of twenty-first-century man. These flights of fancy are the cornerstone of our popular culture; their protagonists are our cultural heroes. They testify to the power of escapism.

Yet like the fairy tales of old, our escapist yarns can escape only so far. Their imagery and plotting are irrevocably tied to our society. Despite their diverse subgenres and distinct audiences, these fictional narratives share a set of attitudes and convictions about the nature of authority, power, and responsibility. They provide a window into the moral economy of the twenty-first century’s overmanaged meritocrats.

The rise of the young-adult novel is the most significant literary event of this century. The significance of the genre—often simply called “YA”—is best appreciated when juxtaposed with general trends in Anglophone reading. In an age that has seen both the average number of books read and the average number of hours spent reading steeply decline, YA readership has exploded, and not just among young adults. In 2012, one marketing firm discovered that slightly more than half of all American YA readers were older than 22. Just under one-third were somewhere between 30 and 44…. 

(4) ALMOST HAD A SHORT LIFE. Gizmodo reports the “Lord of the Rings Studio Wanted Peter Jackson to Kill a Hobbit”.

…Speaking to IGN about their new Lord of the Rings podcast series—called “Friendship Onion”—Dominic Monaghan and Billy Boyd (who played Merry and Pippin) touched upon a time when pressure from executives above the Lord of the Rings production team wanted to amplify the stakes of the series by killing off one of its four smallest stars. Apparently, the tall folk were off-limits, and the stakes of, say, a massive war between the forces of good and evil for the fate of all Middle-earth could only be raised if you found one of the cutest hobbits around and stabbed them to death or something.

“It’s a good job that didn’t happen, because it would have been me,” Monaghan joked to IGN. “It definitely would have. There’s no way they are killing Frodo and Sam, and the only ones that would be left would be Merry and Pippin. They wouldn’t kill Pippin because Pippin has a really strong story with Gandalf. It would have definitely been me.”

(5) HALFLING MYTHCON THIS WEEKEND. The virtual “Halfling” 2021 Mythopoeic Society conference takes place online July 31-August 1. They are offering a special “flat rate” conference membership of $20, whether or not you’re a member of the Mythopoeic Society. 

(6) WATCH THE 2021 NEBULA CEREMONY. SFWA has posted video of The 56th Annual Nebula Awards Ceremony held June 5. (The list of winners is here.)

June 5th, 2021 marked the 56th Annual Nebula Awards Ceremony! Writer and Comedian Aydrea Walden hosted for a second year, and the awards were presented by multiple notable figures in the science fiction and fantasy community!

(7) A HOLLOW VOICE SAYS PUGH. “Scarlett Johansson sues Disney for releasing ‘Black Widow’ in theaters and on Disney+” reports Yahoo! The decision impacted her paycheck.

Scarlett Johansson may have retired as the Avengers’s resident Black Widow and passed the torch to Florence Pugh, but it appears that the actress still has some unfinished business with Marvel Entertainment and its parent company, Walt Disney. As originally reported in the Wall Street Journal, the actress — who played Natasha Romanoff over a 10-year period from 2010’s Iron Man 2 to the Black Widow solo adventure that opened in July after a year-long delay — has filed a breach of contract lawsuit against her former employers.

At issue is the way that Disney ultimately chose to release the movie. Originally scheduled to open exclusively in theaters in May 2020, Black Widow was repeatedly delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic. Eventually, the studio made the decision to pursue a hybrid release, opening the massively-budgeted movie in multiplexes the same day it premiered on the Disney+ streaming as a Premier Access title. (Premier Access films are available to Disney+ subscribers for an extra $29.99 surchage.)

According to the lawsuit that Johansson filed on Thursday in Los Angeles Superior Court, that hybrid release plan breached her original contract with Marvel Entertainment and Disney, which reportedly guaranteed an exclusive theatrical release. Furthermore, her salary for the film would be based largely on how it performed at the box office…. 

(8) TOWARDS CHEAPER FREE SPEECH. At The Dream Foundry, Jean-Paul Garnier offers “Freeware Solutions for Building Your Podcasting Studio”.

Starting your first podcast can be daunting. Perusing microphones and equipment, while fun, can be disheartening as the cost quickly becomes prohibitive. But one need not get discouraged, as it is possible to get started with a very small (or no) budget. Many of the things you will need can be obtained for free and in this article we’ll show you where to find the tools you need. 

When it comes to microphones you can be looking at spending anywhere from 10s of dollars to 1000s, but the cell phone in your pocket already has a pretty decent mic built-in, and it’s good enough to get you started. Most cell phones will also have a built-in recording app, and there are plenty you can download for free. If using these go into the settings and make sure to set the sample rate and bit depth as high as possible.

Once you have made your recording it’s time to edit the recording into the beautiful finished product that will be your podcast. Fortunately from here on out everything you’ll be needing can be downloaded for free, and many of the tools we’ll be discussing are powerful and versatile…. 

(9) A NEBULOUS WINNER. As a byproduct of another author mourning how his name got misspelled in a recent award shortlist announcement I learned that Isaac Asimov famously suffered the same indignity – see the “Isaac Asimov FAQ” at Asimov Online.

Asimov hated it when his name was misspelled in print or mispronounced by others. His desire to have his name spelled correctly even resulted in a 1957 short story, “Spell my Name with an ‘s'”.

(Notable instances of his name being misspelled occurred on the cover of the November 1952 issue of Galaxy, which contained “The Martian Way”, and on his 1976 Nebula Award for “The Bicentennial Man”.)

When in 1940 he wrote a letter to Planet Stories, which printed it and spelled his name “Isaac Asenion”, he quickly fired off an angry letter to them. (His friend Lester Del Rey took great delight in referring to him as “Asenion” for many years afterward. On the other hand, Asimov himself referred to positronic robots with the Three Laws as “Asenion” robots in The Caves of Steel.)

Asimov was quite perturbed when Johnny Carson, host of the Tonight Show, pronounced his first name as I-ZAK, with equal emphasis on both syllables, during an appearance on the television show in New York in 1968.

(10) MEMORY LANE.

  • July 29, 1953 – Sixty-eight years on this date, War of The Worlds premiered in Atlantic City. It was produced by George Pal, and directed by Byron Haskin. It starred Gene Barry and Ann Robinson with narration by Sir Cedric Hardwicke. The Martian war machines were designed by Al Nozaki, and the sizzling sound effect would be used again as the first Trek series phaser sound. (You know what novel it was adapted from.) The film was both a critical and box office success with its earnings making it the top SF film of the year. Weirdly, it would win a Retro Hugo at Noreascon 4 for Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form due to its running time of 85 minutes (per IMDB). Audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes currently give it a seventy-one percent rating.

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born July 29, 1876 Maria Ouspenskaya. In the Forties, she did a run of pulp films, to wit The Wolf ManFrankenstein Meets the Wolf Man and Tarzan and the Amazons. A decade or so earlier, she was in the fantasy film Beyond Tomorrow. (Died 1949.)
  • Born July 29, 1888 Farnsworth Wright. Editor of Weird Tales. He regularly published Smith, Lovecraft and Howard, and even Hamilton. He’s also noteworthy for starting the commercial careers of three noteworthy fantasy artists — Bok, Brundage and Finlay. He’s been nominated for three Retro Hugos to date. (Died 1940.)
  • Born July 29, 1927 Jean E. Karl. She founded Atheneum Children’s Books, and she edited Ursula K Le Guin’s Earthsea sequence and Susan Cooper’s The Dark Is Rising sequence. As an author, she wrote three genre novels, Strange TomorrowBeloved Benjamin Is Waiting and But We Are Not of Earth, and a reasonable amount of short fiction, all of which is In the Clordian Sweep series. Nine of those stories are in The Turning Point collection. (Died 2000.)
  • Born July 29, 1941 David Warner, 80. Being Lysander in that A Midsummer Night’s Dream was his first genre role. I’m going to do just highlights after that as he’s got far too extensive a genre history to list everything. So he’s been A Most Delightful Evil in Time Bandits, Jack the Ripper in Time After Time, Ed Dillinger / Sark In Tron, Father in The Company of Wolves, Chancellor Gorkon in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, The Creature in Frankenstein, voice of Ra’s al Ghul on Batman: The Animated Series and Abraham Van Helsing on Penny Dreadful
  • Born July 29, 1955 Dave Stevens. American illustrator and comics artist. He created The Rocketeer comic book and film character. It’s worth noting that he assisted Russ Manning on the Star Wars newspaper strip and worked on the storyboards for Raiders of the Lost ArkThe Rocketeer film was nominated for a Hugo at MagiCon which was the year Terminator 2: Judgment Day won. (Died 2008.)
  • Born July 29, 1982 Dominic Burgess, 49. His first genre roles are sixteen years back as a cop in Batman Begins, and as Agorax in the Ninth Doctor story, “Bad Wolf”. A decade later, he gets his first recurring role as Ember in The Magicans. He’s had roles in Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.The LeftoversThe Good PlaceTeen WolfThe FlashSupernaturalAmerican Horror Story: Apocalypse and Picard.

(12) COMICS SECTION.

  • Half Full has one of Charlotte’s forgotten web messages.
  • Crankshaft has a garden so overflowing with zucchini it reminds somebody of a Star Trek reference.

(13) THIS IS HILARIOUS. I had never seen The Core (2003) before today when I flicked on Pluto TV in time to watch the scene where they land the Space Shuttle in the Los Angeles River (!!!) This was hilarious. The best thing since the Galaxy Quest landed in the convention center parking lot.

And it turns out there’s a whole oral history post of filmmakers telling how the scene was created – visual effects, models, water imagery, etc., in “’That will not work, Houston, we got bridges every few 100 yards’” at Befores & Afters. You can watch the scene here:

(14) BUSTED. In the latest Rite Gud podcast Raquel S. Benedict says “Genre Busting Makes Me Feel Good”.

Genre is safe. Genre is comfortable. Genre tells us, as readers, what to expect. As writers, genre gives us guidelines to follow, which can make it a lot easier to plan a story: put the villain monologue here, put the meet cute there, tragically kill the protagonist’s mentor in this part of the story. But do we rely on genre conventions too much? Can genre hold us back? Is genre busting good? In this episode of Rite Gud, we are joined by writer and designer Matt Maxwell.

(15) WELL… In “Playing Favorites With Favorites, or, What We Talk About When We Talk About Our Favorite Books” at Tor.com, Molly Templeton explores the complex experience of trying to answer an icebreaker question.

What’s your favorite book?

Maybe there are people for whom this isn’t a loaded question. I’m not sure I’ve met any of them. “Favorite” is a freeze-up word, a demand impossible to meet. Picking just one? Are you serious? But there are 17 books from just last year that are my favorites!

The thing about this question, though, is that it isn’t entirely about the answer. It’s also about what the answer seems to say—the shorthand inherent in talking about books, and who reads what, and what we get out of and return to in the ones we hold closest to our hearts. If someone tells you their favorite book is The Catcher in the Rye, you are likely to draw some conclusions about them. Same goes for someone who names The Princess Bride, or The Lord of the Rings. But what if they say A Tale for the Time Being or Firebreak or The Summer Prince? Does the answer still mean much if you don’t recognize the book?

(16) YOU’RE HIRED. Gawker is back, as the New York Times notes in “Gawker: The Return”, and which I report here because I love the new editor’s modest resume:

…In her editor’s note on Wednesday, Ms. Finnegan wrote that when approached to lead the site last year, she had said, “Absolutely no way in hell.”

A second approach in January won her over. Ms. Finnegan hired a team of 12, mostly women, including four contributing writers.

“I suppose my selling points as a potential editor in chief of Gawker were that I had previously worked at Gawker and Bustle and was unemployed,” Ms. Finnegan wrote. “I was also willing to do it, which not many people can say.”

(17) MOD ARRIVES AT ISS. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] The Russian module, Nauka, has completed its trip to the International Space Station, though there are still nearly a dozen (previously planned) spacewalks needed to put it into service. You may recall that Nauka initially had problems completing engine burns necessary to match orbits with the ISS. “Russian lab module docks with space station after 8-day trip” at Yahoo!

The 20-metric-ton (22-ton) Nauka module, also called the Multipurpose Laboratory Module, docked with the orbiting outpost in an automatic mode after a long journey and a series of maneuvers. Russia’s space agency, Roscosmos, confirmed the module’s contact with the International Space Station at 13:29 GMT.

The launch of Nauka, which is intended to provide more room for scientific experiments and space for the crew, had been repeatedly delayed because of technical problems. It was initially scheduled to go up in 2007.

In 2013, experts found contamination in its fuel system, resulting in a long and costly replacement. Other Nauka systems also underwent modernization or repairs.

Nauka became the first new module in the Russian segment of the station since 2010. On Monday, one of the older Russian modules, the Pirs spacewalking compartment, undocked from the Space Station to free up room for the new module….

The International Space Station is currently operated by NASA astronauts Mark Vande Hei, Shane Kimbrough and Megan McArthur; Oleg Novitsky and Pyotr Dubrov of Russia’s Roscosmos space corporation; Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency astronaut Akihiko Hoshide and European Space Agency astronaut Thomas Pesquet.

In 1998, Russia launched the station’s first module, Zarya, which was followed in 2000 by another big module, Zvezda, and three smaller modules in the following years. The last of them, Rassvet, arrived at the station in 2010.

(18) CREDIT WHERE DUE. There a whole internet industry devoted to identifying movie continuity and set decoration goofs. But sometimes filmmakers get it right! Yahoo! lists “34 Super Small Details In The ‘Back To The Future’ Trilogy That Are Smarter Than All Of Us”.

13. The clock tower’s damage is consistent.

At the beginning of Back to the Future (1985), there’s no damage on the clocktower ledge. When Marty comes back to 1985 at the end, you can see the damage from when Doc was up there to send him back in 1955. from MovieDetails

14. And it’s still broken in 2015.

In Back To The Future 2, the ledge on the clock tower that Doc broke in Back To The Future is still broken from MovieDetails

15. Oh, and that guy Marty’s talking to? He’s the mechanic in 1955!!!

In Back to the Future Part II (1989), the elderly man raising money to save the clock tower in 2015 (who also inadvertently gives Marty the idea to buy the Sports Almanac) is the mechanic who removed the horse manure from Biff’s car in 1955. from MovieDetails

The mechanic is played by Charles Fleischer, who voices Roger Rabbit. Who Framed Roger Rabbit is another movie directed by Robert Zemeckis.

(19) ASSIMILATE THIS. Nature reports “Massive DNA ‘Borg’ Structures Perplex Scientists”:

The Borg have landed — or, at least, researchers have discovered their counterparts here on Earth. Scientists analysing samples from muddy sites in the western United States have found unusual DNA structures that seem to scavenge and ‘assimilate’ genes from microorganisms in their environment, much like the fictional Borg — aliens in Star Trek that assimilate the knowledge and technology of other species. These extra-long DNA strands join a diverse collection of genetic structures — including circular plasmids — known as extrachromosomal elements (ECEs). Most microbes have one or two chromosomes that encode their genetic blueprint. But they can host, and often share between them, many distinct ECEs. These carry non-essential but useful genes. Borgs are a previously unknown, unique and “absolutely fascinating” type of ECE, says Jill  Banfield, a geomicrobiologist at the University of California, Berkeley. She and her colleagues described the Borgs’ discovery earlier this month. month (B. Al-Shayeb et al. Preprint at bioRxiv https://doi.org/gnsb; 2021).

(20) VIDEO OF THE DAY. In “Loki Pitch Meeting” on Screen Rant, Ryan George, in a spoiler-packed episode, says there’s at least a half hour of talking in every episode (like the architect scene in The Matrix) and people who think Loki in a multiverse is a spoiler should avoid the subtitle of Doctor Strange 2:  In The Multiverse Of Madness.”

[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, Petréa Mitchell, Rob Thornton, StephenfromOttawa, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, Michael Toman, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to contributing editor of the day Patrick Morris Miller.]

Pixel Scroll 5/25/21 I Have No Button But I Must Correct That Typo

(1) STAR WARS AT 44. On the “realio trulio” Star Wars Day, Craig Miller posted two excerpts from his book, Star Wars Memories, on Facebook. Here’s a quote from the first part:

SAYING YES TO “STAR WARS” (FOX’S MARKET RESEARCH)

It wasn’t an easy sell to get a studio to okay production on “Star Wars”. George Lucas had made the extremely successful “American Graffiti” for Universal Studios. He had a three-picture deal with them. “American Graffiti” was the first. They wanted him to make more films for their studio. The whole purpose of a multi-picture deal, of providing on-going office space and services, is because the studio is betting that the films you make will be profitable and they want you to make those movies for them.

They turned “Star Wars” down.

The Readers Report, while generally favorable, included the phrase “Do we have faith that Mr. Lucas can pull this off?”. Obviously, Universal didn’t….

(2) TUCKERIZED TITANS. A new Teen Titans Go! episode titled ”Marv Wolfman and George Perez” will air this Saturday at 9 a.m. Pacific, featuring animated versions of their namesakes voiced by themselves. Marv and George were the co-creators of Raven, Starfire, and Cyborg, who were added to Robin and the other Titans.

(3) CORA MAKES THE PAPER AGAIN. The second of Cora Buhlert’s two local papers, the Weser-Kurier, published its coverage of her latest Hugo nomination came out today: “Cora Buhlert aus Seckenhausen ist erneut für den Hugo Award nominiert” – behind a paywall, unfortunately.

Here’s a link to a scan of the print edition, where you can actually read the whole thing, though it’s still in German: “Neue Aussichten Auf die Rakete” (“New prospects for the rocket”).

 (4) CGI ZOMBIES. What, the studio wasn’t willing to hire real zombies? “Zack Snyder Breaks Down a Zombie Heist Scene from ‘Army of the Dead’” for Vanity Fair.

In this episode of ‘Notes On A Scene,’ Director Zack Snyder breaks down a zombie heist scene from ‘Army of the Dead.’ Zack guides us through the nuances and challenges of working with CGI zombies, and explains how he was able to edit Tig Notaro into his ‘Army of the Dead’ universe.

(5) IN CASE YOU WERE IN DANGER OF FORGETTING. Reddit’s u/caeciliusinhorto explicates a very sensitive bit of recent fanhistory: “Pounded in the Butt by the 2019 Hugo Award for Best Related Work, or Who Can Call Themselves Hugo Award Winners?” The lengthy analysis begins mysteriously —

Many months ago I found myself on r/fanfiction explaining the history of the AO3 tag “Serious Human Male/Handsome Gay Living Archive”, and made a mental note that it would make a good HobbyDrama post if I wrote it up more comprehensively….

— and ends a mere 2700 words later with a link to the Tingle-esque work involved.

(6) REAR GUARD ACTION. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] Isaac Asimov, in his autobiography In Joy Still Felt, discusses a Star Trek convention he went to in New York City in 1975.

The climax of the convention came on Sunday the twelfth (January 12, 1975), when William Shatner (Captain Kirk) spoke before a superenthusiastic audience of more than four thousand, who filled the seats and aisles to capacity.  Shatner answered all questions with good humor and unpretentiousness and had everyone enthralled. When it was time to leave, he explained to everyone there was no way he could sign autographs for such huge a crowd and made ready to get off the stage.

At this point, the young man who organized the convention whispered in my ear, ‘Quick!  Get on the stage and hold the audience so that Shatner can get away.’

I said, ‘They’ll tear me limb from limb.’

But he was physically pushing me onto the stage while one of his henchmen was busily announcing me.

I started talking–babbling, rather.I waited for a mad, furious rush on the part of disappointed ‘Star Trek’ fanatics, but it didn’t come.  They seemed to be enjoying me, actually, and I was just beginning to relax and settle down when the organizer approached and said, ‘Shatner’s safely away.  Get off, so we can get on with the program.’  So I got off.

Talk about being used!

(7) CAN NEVER LEAVE WELL ENOUGH ALONE. James Davis Nicoll tells you about attempts to terraform Terra in “Five Stories About Alien Attempts to Reshape the Earth” at Tor.com.

All You Need Is Kill by Hiroshi Sakurazaka (Trans. Alexander O. Smith) (2004)

The aliens who dispatched the engineered lifeforms humans call Mimics did stop to consider the morality of xenoforming a world that might well be inhabited. But they concluded that xenoforming would be as ethically neutral as killing insects to make way for housing construction. No need to examine Earth before reshaping it.

Keiji Kiriya, human, thinks human needs are more important than alien schemes. Thus, his brief, glorious career in Earth’s defence forces. Thus his inevitable death the first time he encounters Mimics. His resurrection in the past—on the morning before the first battle—comes as an unexpected surprise. Alas, the results of the rerun battle are little better than the first. The same is true of the second. And the third…but by death 157, Keiji is getting the hang of the time loop in which he is trapped and well on his way to figuring out how he might save the Earth for humans.

(8) M.I.T. SF COURSE. MIT News discusses the aims of the institute’s sff course: “Inhabiting 21st-century science fiction”.

In March, literary heavyweights Kazuo Ishiguro and Neil Gaiman — a Nobel laureate, and the beloved author of “American Gods,” “Sandman,” and “Good Omens,” respectively — convened at an independent bookstore event to discuss genre and science fiction.

They arrived at twin conclusions: one, that rigid genre distinctions between literary works promote an unproductive and false hierarchy of worth, and two, that the 21st century is a very tricky time to attempt to define “science fiction” at all. Gaiman said that he increasingly feels genre “slippage where science fiction is concerned” because, he says, “the world has become science fiction.” The hacking exploits in William Gibson’s novel “Neuromancer” or the sequencing of an entire genome overnight no longer belong to the realm of fantasy.

For MIT students, the permeable relationship between reality and science fiction is often familiar territory. In their labs and research projects, students and faculty experience personally the process by which imaginative ideas turn into new techniques, possibilities, medicines, tools, and technologies. (And they learn that many such new realities actually have had their origins in speculative literature.)

Students in the MIT Literature course 21L.434 (21st Century Science Fiction), taught by Assistant Professor Laura Finch, also discover that science fiction is a powerful, useful way to think about and understand the world we currently inhabit…. 

(9) ROBOT CREDENTIALS. Katie Engelhart parses “What Robots Can—and Can’t—Do for the Old and Lonely” in The New Yorker.

It felt good to love again, in that big empty house. Virginia Kellner got the cat last November, around her ninety-second birthday, and now it’s always nearby. It keeps her company as she moves, bent over her walker, from the couch to the bathroom and back again. The walker has a pair of orange scissors hanging from the handlebar, for opening mail. Virginia likes the pet’s green eyes. She likes that it’s there in the morning, when she wakes up. Sometimes, on days when she feels sad, she sits in her soft armchair and rests the cat on her soft stomach and just lets it do its thing. Nuzzle. Stretch. Vibrate. Virginia knows that the cat is programmed to move this way; there is a motor somewhere, controlling things. Still, she can almost forget. “It makes you feel like it’s real,” Virginia told me, the first time we spoke. “I mean, mentally, I know it’s not. But—oh, it meowed again!”

She named the cat Jennie, for one of the nice ladies who work at the local Department of the Aging in Cattaraugus County, a rural area in upstate New York, bordering Pennsylvania. It was Jennie (the person) who told her that the county was giving robot pets to old people like her. Did she want one? She could have a dog or a cat. A Meals on Wheels driver brought Virginia the pet, along with her daily lunch delivery. He was so eager to show it to her that he opened the box himself, instead of letting Virginia do it. The Joy for All Companion pet was orange with a white chest and tapered whiskers. Nobody mentioned that it was part of a statewide loneliness intervention….

(10) MEDIA ANNIVERSARY.

  • May 25, 1977 — On this day in 1977, Star Wars premiered. Later retitled as Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope, it was written and directed by George Lucas. You know who the cast is so we’ll not list all of them here. Lucas envisioned the film as being in the tradition of Buck Rogers which he originally intended to remake but couldn’t get the rights to.  Reception by critics and fans alike alike was fantastic with IguanaCon II voting it the Best Dramatic Presentation Hugo over Close Encounters of the Third Kind. It holds a stellar ninety-six percent rating among audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes. 

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]

  • Born May 25, 1915 – DeeDee Lavender.  Four decades an active fan with husband Roy Lavender.  Together served a term as Secretary-Treasurer of the N3F (Nat’l Fantasy Fan Fed’n).  They’re in Harlan Ellison’s forewords to his collections I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream and Angry Candy; they knew Leigh Brackett & Edmond Hamilton, and were guests at the B&H homes in Ohio and California.  They were part of a Southern California fannish social group called the Petards, named by one of Rick Sneary’s famous misspellings, hoist for host.  Here she is with Roy at a Petards meeting in 1983, and thirty years earlier in New York (L to R, Bea Mahaffey, Hannes Bok, DeeDee, Roy, Stan Skirvin).  (Died 1986) [JH]
  • Born May 25, 1916 – Charles Hornig.  Published his fanzine The Fantasy Fan in 1933, thus First Fandom (i.e. active by at least the first Worldcon, 1939), and hired, age 17, by Hugo Gernsback to edit Wonder Stories.  Founded the SF League with HG; later edited Fantasy; also Future and Science Fiction (they eventually combined); SF Quarterly.  See his notes on Nycon I, the first Worldcon, here. (Died 1999) [JH]
  • Born May 25, 1926 – Phyllis Gotlieb.  Prix Aurora for A Judgement of Dragons (note spelling; she was Canadian).  The Sunburst Award is named for her first novel.  A dozen SF novels, a score of shorter stories, eight poetry collections – the first being Who Knows One?  Among her husband’s Physics students was Cory Doctorow’s father.  (Died 2009) [JH]
  • Born May 25, 1935 — W. P. Kinsella. Best I’d say known for his novel Shoeless Joe which was adapted into the movie Field of Dreams, one of the few films that Kevin Costner is a decent actor in, ironic as the other is Bull Durham. Kinsella’s other genre novel is The Iowa Baseball Confederacy and it’s rather less well known than Shoeless Joe is but it’s excellent as well. He also edited Baseball Fantastic, an anthology of just what the title says they are. Given that he’s got eighteen collections of short stories listed on his wiki page, I’m reasonably sure his ISFDB page doesn’t come close to listing all his short stories. (Died 2016.) (CE)
  • Born May 25, 1939 — Ian McKellen, 82. Best known for being Magneto in the X-Men films, and Gandalf in The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit trilogies. I’m fairly sure his first genre role was as Dr. Faustus in an Edinburgh production of that play in the early Seventies. He also played Macbeth at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre during that period. He’d played Captain Hook in Peter Pan at The Royal National Theatre, and was the voice of the Demon in The Exorcist in the UK tour of that production. Of course he was Dr. Reinhardt Lane in The Shadow, The Narrator in Stardust, Sherlock Holmes in Mr. Holmes, Cogsworth in Beauty and the Beast and finally he’s  the Gus the Theatre Cat in the best forgotten Cats. (CE)
  • Born May 25, 1946 — Frank Oz, 75. Actor, director including The Dark Crystal, Little Shop of Horrors and the second version of The Stepford Wives, producer and puppeteer. His career began as a puppeteer, where he performed the Muppet characters of Animal, Fozzie Bear, Miss Piggy, and oh-so-patriotic Sam Eagle in The Muppet Show, and Cookie Monster, Bert, and Grover in Sesame Street. Genre wise, he’s also known for the role of Yoda in the Star Wars franchise. An interesting Trivia note: he’s in the Blues Brothers as a Corrections Officer, and is the Warden in Blues Brothers 2000. (CE)
  • Born May 25, 1949 — Barry Windsor-Smith, 72. Illustrator and painter, mostly for Marvel Comics. Oh, his work on Conan the Barbarian in the early Seventies was amazing, truly amazing! And then there was the original Weapon X story arc involving Wolverine which still ranks among the best stories told largely because of his artwork. And let’s not forget that he and writer Roy Thomas created Red Sonja as partially based on Howard’s characters Red Sonya of Rogatino and Dark Agnes de Chastillon. (CE)
  • Born May 25, 1950 – Kathryn Daugherty.  Engineer.  Married four decades to James Stanley Daugherty.  At Bucconeer the 56th Worldcon, headed Contents of Tables; a typo made it “Contests of Tables”: in each newsletter I announced “Today’s winner is the Picnic”, “Today’s winner is the Periodic”.  Chaired Westercon LIII, a hard one: it was at Honolulu, see my report here [PDF; p. 11]. Luckily not exhausted; she and JSD were Fan Guests of Honor at Baycon 2001, Loscon 36.  OGH’s appreciation here.  (Died 2012) [JH]
  • Born May 25, 1953 – Stan Sakai, age 68.  Lettered Groo the Wanderer comics; since 1984, author of Usagi Yôjinbô comics about samurai rabbit Miyamoto Usagi, who has (wouldn’t you know it) crossed paths with the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.  The rônin life is hard.  During the most recent Year of the Rabbit (2011), the Japanese-American Nat’l Museum in Los Angeles had an Usagi Yôjinbô exhibit.  Parents’ Choice award, an Inkpot, six Eisners, an Inkwell, two Harveys, two Haxturs (Spain), a Plumilla de Plata (Mexico), a Cultural Ambassador award, and a Nat’l Cartoonists Society award.  [JH]
  • Born May 25, 1966 — Vera Nazarian, 55. To date, she has written ten novels including Dreams of the Compass Rose, what I’d called a mosaic novel structured as a series of interlinked stories similar in tone to The One Thousand and One Nights that reminds me more than a bit of Valente’s The Orphans Tales. She’s the publisherof Norilana Books which publishes such works as Catherynne M. Valente’s Guide to Folktales in Fragile Dialects, Marion Zimmer Bradley’s Sword and Sorceress anthologies,and Tabitha Lee’s Lee’s Sounds and Furies. (CE)
  • Born May 25, 1982 – Bertrand Bonnet, age 39.  Six dozen reviews in Bifrost (French-language prozine; European SF Society award for Best Magazine, 2016), of Blish, Herbert, Le Guin, Pohl (with and without Kornbluth), Resnick, Strugatsky, Tolkien (including the Letters, yay).  [JH]

(12) HIS SHIP CAME IN. “Working for Marvel Comics is a dream come true for Malaysian artist Alan Quah”, and it’s not a 9-to-5 job he says in a Yahoo! profile.

What is it like being a Marvel Comics artist? For Malaysian artist Alan Quah, it is nothing short of having a wish granted.

“It is a dream come true, because I collected Marvel Comics when I was really really young. When I became a teenager I drew comics for a living, then I left the [comics] industry for 15 years to venture into advertising. Then I came back and tried my luck drawing comics for the American market again,” said Alan Quah, who became a cover artist for Marvel Comics in late January this year.

The Petaling Jaya-based artist mainly does comic book covers for Marvel Comics in a work-for-hire agreement. In the United States, comics retailers may sometimes commission a cover for an issue of a comic. These covers are known as retailer exclusive variant covers. Comics retailers will liaise with Marvel Comics to determine the requirements and specifications of the cover art. Marvel Comics will then get in touch with Quah to create the artwork, along with all the relevant stakeholders.

Since joining Marvel Comics, he has worked on covers for the following titles: Alien, The Spider’s Shadow, Venom, and The Marvels (not related to the 1994 series Marvels, which was told from the perspective of man-on-the-street Phil Sheldon)….

(13) I KNOW — YOU’RE FROM THE SIXTIES! A teaser trailer for Last Night in Soho has dropped. Opens in theaters this October.

Edgar Wright’s psychological thriller about a young girl, passionate in fashion design, who is mysteriously able to enter the 1960s where she encounters her idol, a dazzling wannabe singer. But 1960s London is not what it appears, and time seems to fall apart with shady consequences…

(14) FASHION SHOW. Someone on eBay is selling this UFO-themed “Space Shopping” Hermes scarf.  They want $629 – but you can pay on monthly installments! This is not something to blow your nose on.

(15) IN THE BELLY OF THE BEAST. “Body of missing man found in Spanish dinosaur statue” – the BBC reports how he got there.

Spanish police are investigating the death of a 39-year-old man whose body was found inside a dinosaur statue.

Authorities were alerted on Saturday after a father and his son noticed a smell emanating from the papier-mâché figure in Santa Coloma de Gramenet, a suburb of Barcelona.

The father then saw the corpse through a crack in the Stegosaurus’ hollow leg.

Police said the man had been reported missing by his family, and no foul play is suspected.

Three fire brigade teams were called to scene after the body was discovered, and firefighters cut open the dinosaur leg to retrieve it.

Local media report the man – who has not been named – was trying to retrieve a mobile phone he dropped inside the statue. He then fell inside the decorative figure and was left trapped upside down, unable to call for help.

(16) IT MAY BE NEWS TO YOU. “Rachel Bloom sings Season’s of Love… in Klingon!” at the 2011 Worldcon.

Rachel Bloom’s performance at Renovation, the 69th World Science Fiction Convention. She was at the convention because her song “Fuck Me Ray Bradbury” was nominated for a Hugo award. Sorry about the poor lighting. The room was set up for a disco, and Rachel gave a short performance.

(17) VIDEO OF THE DAY. In “Honest Game Trailers: Pokémon Snap”, Fandom Games says that this Pokémon movie where you take photos instead of shooting people, is the gaming equivalent of “a little amusement park ride and some photos at the end.”

[Thanks to David K.M. Klaus, N., Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, Michael Toman, John King Tarpinian, Cat Eldridge, Tom Galloway, Cora Buhlert, and John Hertz for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to contributing editor of the day Cat Rambo.]

Pixel Scroll 5/12/21 Yeah, I Got It Wrong. But I Get Silverlock Into The Apology!

(1) WISHING STEVE DAVIDSON WELL. This Thursday, Amazing Stories’ “Steve Davidson Undergoes His Own Fantastic Voyage” – open heart surgery. As he told Facebook readers earlier in the week:

scheduled for open heart surgery this coming thursday.

i will be happy to autograph selfies of my zipper scar when i have one.

everyone is telling me recovery can be a bitch, but I can expect to be feeling a LOT better once i recover.

My general feeling of malaise over the past few months may have been due more to the growing arterial blockages than anything else going on.

nor am I entirely surprised that this happened during such a time of numerous stressors happening all at once.

now I just want to get this over with.

One very interesting note: I have NO damage to my heart. “very strong” says the doc. good shape.

so, clear the pipes and I should be good to go for another 62 years, right?

Today Steve shared a diagram of his arterial blockages.

So be afraid you all, I’ve only been operating at between 10 and 30 percent capacity this past 18 months and will soon be restored to at least 100 percent functionality.

Ruh ro!

(2) BARROWMAN DROPPED. BBC News reports “John Barrowman video removed from Doctor Who theatre show”.

A video featuring John Barrowman is to be removed from an immersive Doctor Who theatre show following allegations about the actor’s past conduct.

He is accused of repeatedly exposing himself while filming the BBC show.

Mr Barrowman was to have been seen as his Captain Jack Harkness character in a pre-recorded video to be shown during the Doctor Who: Time Fracture show.

Mr Barrowman has previously apologised for his behaviour but has not responded to the show’s decision to drop him.

In a message on its website, the show’s producers said it had “taken the decision to remove this pre-record”.

(3) REPLACEMENT PLAYER. Yahoo! Entertainment finds out “How Tig Notaro Digitally Replaced Chris D’Elia in Zack Snyder’s ‘Army of the Dead’”.

“I really thought there was going to be a backlash from me replacing Chris. I didn’t think I was going to be trending for being a badass,” comedian says

After comedian Chris D’Elia was accused of sexual misconduct, Zack Snyder made the decision to digitally replace his role in “Army of the Dead” with an unusual choice: Tig Notaro.

Notaro had never done major stunt work before (she’s done some light action scenes on “Star Trek: Discovery”). But she found herself pretending she was piloting a helicopter while evading a zombie as well as learning how to handle a prop machine gun in Snyder’s film. And because she was digitally replacing another actor who shot his footage months earlier, she had to act largely on her own in front of green screens and without any other actors.

Both Notaro and Snyder in an interview with Vulture detailed the elaborate work it took to sub Notaro into “Army of the Dead.” And it was a choice that paid off, because Tig found herself trending on Twitter after images of her chomping on a cigarillo and decked out in military garb went viral.

(4) KONG IN THE BEGINNING. Here’s the first trailer for a brand new, feature length documentary film concerning the life, death, and Legend of King Kong. Premieres in November. Our own Steve Vertlieb is one of the interviewees!

(5) OMEGA SCI-FI AWARDS. The Roswell Award & Women Hold Up Half the Sky Virtual Celebrity Readings & Awards on May 22 at 11:00 a.m. Pacific will feature sci-fi and fantasy actors David Blue, Ruth Connell, LaMonica Garrett, Phil Lamarr, Tiffany Lonsdale-Hands, Nana Visitor, and Kari Wahlgren.

Pre-registration is required! Event registration and replay access is FREE. Register for the Zoom webinar here.

(6) THE BIRDS. In “Building Beyond: A Birds-Eye View”, Sarah Gailey presents a writing prompt to Mar Stratford and J.M. Coster, and also takes up the challenge.

At 12:00pm Central European Time on Wednesday, May 12th, 2021, the Global Raptor Alliance (formerly the Hawk And Falcon Cooperative) will announce the opening of the Avian Museum of Human History. This museum will feature a bird’s-eye view (literally) of human civilization.

Mar Stratford is a writer from the Mid-Atlantic and friend to all animals. Find zir online at mar-stratford.com or on Twitter.

Gailey: What are a couple of highlights of the avian narrative of human civilization? What kind of artifacts will be featured in the museum?…

(7) MAKE A WISH. Netflix dropped a trailer for Wish Dragon, an animated comedy coming on June 11.

Determined teen Din is longing to reconnect with his childhood best friend when he meets a wish-granting dragon that leads him on an adventure a thousand years in the making.

(8) MEDIA ANNIVERSARY.

May 12, 1989 — On this day in 1989, The Return Of Swamp Thing premiered.  The follow-up to Swamp Thing, it was directed by Jim Wynorski,  with production by Benjamin Melniker and Michael E. Uslan. The story was written by Neil Cuthbert and Grant Morris.  It starred Dick Durock and Heather Locklear who replaced Adrienne Barbeau as the female lead who was in Swamp Thing.  Louis Jourdan also returns as a spot-on Anton Arcane. The audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes currently give it a middling fifty five percent rating thought the  original Swamp Thing series which also stars Durock in contrast has an eighty three percent rating among audience reviewers there! 

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]

  • Born May 12, 1812 – Edward Lear.  Famous in his day as a painter and illustrator.  First major bird artist to draw from live birds; look at this parrot.  Here are some Albanians.  Here’s Masada.  His musical settings for Tennyson’s poems were the only ones Tennyson approved of.  Known today as a writer of nonsense.  We may never see an owl dancing with a pussycat, but they do in his creation – in a hundred languages.  (Died 1888) [JH]
  • Born May 12, 1828 – Dante Gabriel Rossetti.  He was Gabriel Charles Dante Rossetti, but put his third name first in honor of The Divine Comedy.  Founded the Pre-Raphaelite school of art because he thought Raphael (1483-1520) had ruined things; see how this led DGR to imagine Proserpine.  His poetry too was fantastic.  He is credited with the word yesteryear.  He loved wombats.  (Died 1882) [JH]
  • Born May 12, 1902 – Philip Wylie.  A dozen novels, as many shorter stories for us; hundreds of works all told.  Gladiator was an inspiration for Superman.  When Worlds Collide (with Edwin Balmer) inspired Alex Raymond’s Flash Gordon.  Columnist, editor, screenwriter, adviser to the chairman of the Joint Congressional Committee for Atomic Energy, vice-president of the Int’l Game Fish Ass’n. Wrote “Anyone Can Raise Orchids” for The Saturday Evening Post.  In The Disappearance a cosmic blink forces all men to get along without women, all women without men.  (Died 1971) [JH]
  • Born May 12, 1907 Leslie Charteris. I really hadn’t thought of the Simon Templar aka The Saint series as being genre but both ISFDB and ESF list the series with the latter noting that “Several short stories featuring Templar are sf or fantasy, typically dealing with odd Inventions or Monsters (including the Loch Ness Monster and Caribbean Zombies.” (Died 1993.) (CE)
  • Born May 12, 1928 Robert “Buck” Coulson. Writer, well-known fan, filk songwriter and fanzine editor. He and his wife, writer and fellow filker Juanita Coulson, edited the fanzine Yandro which they produced on a mimeograph machine, and which was nominated for the Hugo Award ten years running right through 1968, and won in 1965. Yandro was particularly strong on reviewing other fanzines. Characters modeled on and named after him appear in two novels by Wilson Tucker, Resurrection Days and To the Tombaugh Station. (Died 1999.) (CE) 
  • Born May 12, 1937 – Betsy Lewin, age 84.  Illustrated twoscore books, some ours.  Here is Click, Clack, Moo (Caldecott Honor).  Here is Penny.  Here is No Such Thing.  Here is a note on BL and her husband Ted.  [JH]
  • Born May 12, 1938 David Pelham, 83. Artist and Art Director at Penguin Books from 1968 to 1979 who was responsible for some of the most recognizable cover art in genre books to date. He did the cog-eyed droog for Anthony Burgess’s novel A Clockwork Orange in 1972. There’s a great interview with him here. (CE)
  • Born May 12, 1942 Barry Longyear, 79. Best known for the Hugo- and Nebula Award–winning novella Enemy Mine, which became a film by that name as well. Gerrold would later novelize it. An expanded version of the original novella as well as two novels completing the trilogy, The Tomorrow Testament and The Last Enemy make up The Enemy Papers. I’m very fond of his Circus World series, less so of his Infinity Hold series. (CE)
  • Born May 12, 1950 Bruce Boxleitner, 71. His greatest genre role was obviously Captain John Sheridan on Babylon 5. (Yes, I loved the show.) Other genre appearances being Alan T. Bradley in Tron, Tron: Legacy, and voicing that character in the Tron: Uprising series. He has a recurring role on Supergirl as President Baker. (CE) 
  • Born May 12, 1958 – Patricia Finney, age 63.  Five novels for us, of which three are told by a dog in Doglish; her first was published before she was 18.  A dozen others (some under different names); a radio play.  Higham Award.  “When I was seven I had to write a story about anything for school.  Naturally I wrote about spacemen exploring other galaxies and outwitting jelly aliens….  I got A minus for it (untidy writing, I’m afraid).”  Avocations karate, embroidery, folk music.  Website.  [JH]
  • Born May 12, 1966 – Gilles Francescano, age 55.  A hundred twenty covers, some for work available in English.  Here is L’ère du spathiopithèque.  Here is Roll Over, Amundsen!  Here is Galaxies 3.  Here is The Night Orchid.  Here is The Master of Light.  [JH]
  • Born May 12, 1968 Catherine Tate, 53. Donna Noble, Companion to the Eleventh Doctor. She has extended the role by doing the Doctor Who: The Tenth Doctor Adventures on Big Finish. She also played Inquisitor Greyfax in Our Martyred Lady, a Warhammer 40,000 audio drama, something I did not know existed until now. (CE) 

(10) AND THE TAXI YOU RODE IN ON. “Tintin heirs lose legal battle over artist’s Edward Hopper mashups”The Guardian has the final score.

The French artist who was sued by the Tintin creator Hergé’s heirs over his paintings that place the boy adventurer in romantic encounters has won his case after a court deemed them parodies.

Xavier Marabout’s dreamy artworks imagine Tintin into the landscapes of Edward Hopper, including a take on Queensborough Bridge, 1913, or talking with a less-clothed version of Hopper’s Chop Suey.

Earlier this year, the Breton artist was sued for infringement by Moulinsart, which manages the Tintin business. Moulinsart’s lawyer argued that “taking advantage of the reputation of a character to immerse him in an erotic universe has nothing to do with humour”. Marabout’s lawyer argued that the paintings were parody.

On Monday, Moulinsart’s complaint was rejected by the court in Rennes. “The court recognised the parody exception and the humorous intention expressed by my client,” Marabout’s lawyer, Bertrand Ermeneux, said.

The Rennes court also said that Moulinsart had “denigrated” Marabout by contacting galleries showing his work to say that it was infringing, Huffington Post France reported, adding €10,000 (£8,500) in damages for Marabout and €20,000 in legal fees to its ruling.

Taxi pour noctambules (2014)

(11) IN JOY STILL FELT. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] Isaac Asimov, in his autobiography In Joy Still Felt, discusses the 1971 Hugo Awards at Noreascon I.

The Hugo awards banquet on September 5 (my mother’s seventy-sixth birthday) was the high point of the convention.   I sat on the dais, for I was going to hand out the Hugos, and Bob Silverberg was the toastmaster (and an excellent one–no one is better than he at sardonic humor).

Robyn (Asimov’s daughter), radiantly beautiful, was at my side, knitting calmly.  Good old Cliff Simak, now sixty-seven, was guest of honor and, in the course of his talk, he introduced his children, who were in the audience, Robyn whispered to me, ‘You’re not going to introduce me, are you, Dad?’

I whispered back, ‘Not if you don’t want me to, Robyn.’

‘I don’t.’  She knitted a while, then said, ‘Of course, if you want to refer casually to your beautiful, blue-eyed, blond-haired daughter, you may do that.‘  So I did.

Bob Silverberg made frequent reference to the argument that had been made at St. Louis in 1968 [sic; actually 1969], when Harlan Ellison had taken up a collection to pay for some damage inadvertently done to hotel property, and, on collecting more than the required sum, had calmly assigned the excess to his own pet project, a science-fiction class at Clarion College.

Bob therefore made frequent mock announcements of various objects that would be ‘donated to Clarion’ and got a laugh each time.

When it came time to stand up and give out the awards, I couldn’t resist invading Bob’s turf by singing a limerick I had hastily constructed while listening to the toastmastering.  It read:

There was a young woman named Marion
Who did hump and did grind and carry on
The result of her joy
Was a fine bastard boy
Which she promptly donated to Clarion.

The audience saw where it was going halfway through the last line and the roar of laughter drowned out the final three words.

In the course of the banquet Lester (del Rey) presented a moving encomium on John Campbell. He is excellent at that sort of thing and constantly threatens to deliver one on me if it becomes necessary; and that does give me a marvelous incentive to outlive him if I can.”

(12) PHONE HOME? “Voyager spacecraft detects ‘persistent hum’ beyond our solar system” reports CNN. I don’t suppose it’s a dial tone.

…”It’s very faint and monotone, because it is in a narrow frequency bandwidth,” Stella Koch Ocker, a Cornell University doctoral student in astronomy, said in a statement. “We’re detecting the faint, persistent hum of interstellar gas.”

NASA’s Voyager 1 spacecraft flew by Jupiter in 1979, and by Saturn in 1980, before crossing the heliopause in August 2012.

(13) STILL GETTING THERE. Jeff Foust reviews Test Gods for The Space Review.

When Virgin Galactic first announced its suborbital spaceflight plans in 2004, working in cooperation with Scaled Composites just as that company’s SpaceShipOne was on the cusp of winning the $10 million Ansari X PRIZE, it said it would begin commercial service as soon as late 2007. It’s 2021, and the company has yet to take a paying customer to the edge of space. SpaceShipTwo hasn’t made a trip to suborbital space since February 2019, and a flight in December 2020 was aborted just as its hybrid engine ignited because of a computer malfunction that’s taken months to correct.

Virgin Galactic’s delays and setbacks have been well-chronicled here and elsewhere, but not to the same level of detail as in Nicholas Schmidle’s new book, Test Gods. Schmidle was embedded for several years in Virgin Galactic, starting not long after the October 2014 accident that destroyed the first SpaceShipTwo and killed its co-pilot, Mike Alsbury. He was such a frequent visitor to the company’s Mojave facilities, sitting in on meetings and interviewing people, that one new hire thought he was a fellow employee.

Schmidle tells the story of Virgin Galactic largely through one of its pilots, Mark Stucky, with whom he spent much of his time while at the company…. 

(14) VERSUS LONELINESS. SOLOS premieres May 21 in the US and select territories and June 25 worldwide on Amazon Prime Video. Io9 warms up the audience in “Amazon Sci-Fi Anthology Solos”

“We all feel alone in different ways,” says Morgan Freeman in this new trailer for Solos. “In feeling alone, we are somehow all together.” That seems as perfect a thesis statement for Amazon Prime’s upcoming TV series as possible.

The show, from Hunters creator David Well, is not the stealth sequel to Solo, but it does give us two Anthony Mackies having a heart to heart, as well as Dame Helen Mirren on a lonely space voyage, Legion’s Dan Stevens hugging Freeman, and a lot more. See for yourself:

(15) VIDEO OF THE DAY. In “Honest Game Trailers:  Nier Replicant” on YouTube, Fandom Games says that this Americanized version is :a master class in feeling sadness and is a game for people who “love to cry about robots” and give up fighting for long sessions of video garning and “searching for household fruits.”

[Thanks to JJ, Michael Toman, John King Tarpinian, Steve Vertlieb, Cat Eldridge, John Hertz, Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, and Martin Morse Wooster for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day James Reynolds with an assist from Anna Nimmahus.]

Pixel Scroll 5/2/21 With Cat-Filled Files, Upon Pixels We Scroll

(1) CROWDSOURCING DURING COVID. Monica Louzon pulled together data about “Kickstarter Anthologies in 2020”, analyzed, and graphed it. Among the things she learned —

…43.94% of the projects I reviewed were granted “Projects We Love” status by Kickstarter. To my surprise, this didn’t actually seem to impact the success of a campaign…

(2) WHAT IS FICTION FOR? [Item by Mike Kennedy.] Novelist Eliot Peper (Veil, et al.) and TechCrunch Managing Editor Danny Crichton had a conversation (via gmail) recently on what, if anything, speculative fiction can tell us about humanity and this past year: “Can speculative fiction teach us anything in a world this crazy?”

There’s an old saw from Mark Twain about how truth is stranger than fiction, and I think it’s fair to say we’ve lived through a very strange reality this past year. With all the chaos and change, we’re led to a foundational question: what’s the purpose of speculative fiction and its adjacent genres of science fiction and fantasy when so much of our world seems to already embody the fantastical worlds these works depict?

(3) MR. A MEETS MR. B. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In his autobiography In Joy Still Felt, Isaac Asimov discusses how he met Ray Bradbury for the first time on October 8, 1965.

I went to Newark to tape a talk show with David Susskind.  It was my first nationally televised talk show since ‘The Last Word’ with Bergen Evans six years before.

This one was devoted to science fiction, and along with me were Lester del Rey and Ray Bradbury.  It was the first time I had ever met Ray Bradbury, though of course we knew each other from our writings well enough to be on a first-name basis at once. Neither he nor I would fly on airplanes, so since I lived in Newton (Massachusetts) and he in Los Angeles it was clear that we wouldn’t meet often.

The session was not successful.  Lester was in one of his talkative moods and gave neither Ray or myself much to do anything except stare at the ceiling, and Susskind had a list of questions, silly in themselves, from which he lacked the wit to depart.  It meant all the interesting starts we made were muffled or killed when he asked the next silly question.

(4) MOST INFLUENTIAL SF MOVIES. ScreenRant calls these the “10 Most Influential Sci-Fi Movies Of All Time”. John King Tarpinian sent the link with a comment: “I would have rated number six and number seven as number one and number two.” And I personally think their #1 choice is nuts.

… Within the world of movies, the sci-fi genre has given audiences some of the most unforgettable films, some of which are considered among the best ever made.

But behind some of the most popular sci-fi movies are the movies that helped to inspire them. Many of these movies remain classics in their own rights, but fans might not be aware of how influential they have been to the genre. These ambitious projects broke new ground and paved the way for beloved movies that followed….

1/10 The Matrix (1999)

The Matrix is another movie that clearly drew from a lot of different sources, but eventually became something that would in turn inspire future movies. The movie really represented what the sci-fi genre could do, which is to show the audience something they have never seen before.

It has been parodied countless times but also inspired big-budget movies to be bold and original. From the action to the special effects to the ideas of the movie, The Matrix was all about proving the impossible to be possible.

(5) MEDIA ANNIVERSARY.

  • May 2, 2008 — On this day in 2008, the first Iron Man film premiered in the United States. It was directed by Jon Favreau from a screenplay by Mark Fergus, Hawk Ostby, Art Marcum and Matt Holloway. It was produced by Avi Arad and Kevin Feige. The film stars Robert Downey Jr. , Terrence Howard, Jeff Bridges, Shaun Toub, and Gwyneth Paltrow. It was nominated for a Hugo at Anticipation but lost out to WALL-E. Critics in general really loved it, it won a lot of awards other than a Hugo, it did great at the box office and audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes currently give it an exceptional rating of ninety-four percent.  

(6) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]

  • Born May 2, 1890 – E.E. Smith, Ph.D.  Arrived to great applause for The Skylark of Space (three sequels), likewise Galactic Patrol (two prequels, three sequels).  Four more novels, ten shorter stories; more released posthumously, some with co-authors.  First author named a Worldcon Guest of Honor (Chicon I the 2nd Worldcon).  Helpful to all; first to receive the Big Heart (our highest service award).  First Fandom Hall of Fame; SF Hall of Fame; Life Member of N3F (Nat’l Fantasy Fan Fed’n).  In college (Univ. Idaho) president of Chemistry, Chess, Mandolin & Guitar Clubs; sang bass in Gilbert & Sullivan.  Super-science so dramatic in his work, adventure-story tone of his time so resonant, that his literary ability – including characterization – was neglected then and is disregarded now, alas for SF which in seeking to do what he left untried could still learn from him.  (Died 1965) [JH]
  • Born May 2, 1921 Satyajit Ray. Bengali filmmaker, screenwriter, graphic artist, lyricist, music composer and writer who is here for his genre fiction which fortunately has been translated into English for those like me who don’t read Bengali. Over a decade recently, three collections came in English The Diary of a Space Traveller and Other StoriesClassic Satyajit Ray and The Collected Short Stories) with most of his genre work in the collection. There are nine stories involving Professor Shonku, his most popular SF character. (Died 1992.) (CE) 
  • Born May 2, 1924 Theodore Bikel. I was listening the other evening to him playing Tevye in the Fiddler on the Roof (“Light One Candle” to be specific) and as always was amazed by his singing voice.  He was on Next Generation in order to play the foster parent to Worf in the “Family” episode playing CPO Sergey Rozhenko, Retired. That and playing Lenonn in Babylon 5: In the Beginning are the roles I want to note. Bikel also guest-appeared on The Twilight Zone in the “Four O’Clock” as Oliver Crangle. Well there is one minor other role he did — he voiced Aragon in the animated The Return of the King. By the way, Theodore Bikel’s Treasury of Yiddish Folk & Theatre Songs is quite excellent. (Died 2015.) (CE) 
  • Born May 2, 1925 John Neville. I’ve mentioned before that Kage considered Terry Gilliam’s The Adventures of Baron Munchausen to be one of her favorite films and John Neville was one of the reasons that she did so. You can read her review here. Among his other genre roles, Neville had a prominent recurring role in The X-Files as The Well Manicured Man. And he showed up playing Sir Isaac Newton on The Next Generation in the “Descent” episode. (Died 2011 (CE) 
  • Born May 2, 1938 – Bob Null.  Served twenty terms as LASFS (Los Angeles Science Fantasy Soc.) vice-president.  Often handled Logistics for Loscons (local convention), local Worldcons.  Fan Guest of Honor at Loscon XXIII.  Three-time recipient of Evans-Freehafer Award (service to LASFS); only one other person (Elayne Pelz) has done this since 1959 when the Award was first given.  (Died 2010) [JH]
  • Born May 2, 1942 Alexis Kanner. His first genre appearance was on The Prisoner where he so impressed McGoohan in the “Living in Harmony” episode that he created a specific role for him in the series finale, “Fall Out” where he stands trial. He also has an uncredited role in “The Girl Who Was Death” in that series. His final known acting role was as Sor in Nightfall based off the Asimov story of the same name. (Died 2003.) (CE) 
  • Born May 2, 1946 David Suchet, 75. Though rather obviously better remembered as Hercule Poirot, he does show up on in a Twelfth Doctor story, “Knock Knock”, simply called Landlord.  Don’t let that deceive you. He’s appeared in some other genre work from time times to time including Greystoke — The Legend of Tarzan, Lord of the ApesHarry and the HendersonsDr. No — The Radio PlayWing CommanderTales of the Unexpected and Peter Pan Goes Wrong. (CE) 
  • Born May 2, 1948 – Anne Stuart, age 73.  Ten novels, two shorter stories for us; a hundred novels all told.  Three Ritas.  Romance Writers of America Lifetime Achievement Award.  Has five sewing machines, that’s not too many.  [JH]
  • Born May 2, 1961 – Tom Arden.  Eight novels, two shorter stories.  Twoscore reviews for Interzone.  Ph.D. under another name, dissertation on Clarissa.  (Died 2015) [JH]
  • Born May 2, 1972 Dwayne Johnson, 49. Ok I wasn’t going to include him until stumbled across the fact that he’d been on Star Trek: Voyager as The Champion in the “Tsunkatse” episode. Who saw him there? Of course it’s not his only genre role as he was the Scorpion King in The Mummy Returns, played Agent 23 in Get Smart, voiced Captain Charles T. Baker In Planet 51, was the tooth fairy in, errr, the Tooth Fairy, was Hank Parsons in Journey 2: The Mysterious Island, was Roadblock in G.I. Joe: Retaliation (Anyone watch these?), was a very buff Hercules in Hercules, voiced Maui in Moana, was Dr. Smolder Bravestone in Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle (not on my bucket list) and was one of the Executive Producers of Shazam! which gets a Huh from me. (CE) 
  • Born May 2, 1977 – Jessica Douglas, age 44.  One cover, half a dozen interiors for us.  “I show in galleries and museums around the world….  I primarily work in watercolors with gemstone additions.  Most of my gemstones are bought from fellow rockhounders.”  Here is Double Yule Dragon.  Here is a narwhal.  She made this Oroboros for Conduit 25 where she was a Guest of Honor.  Here is No Place Like London.  Here is The Grain Moon.  [JH]
  • Born May 2, 1980 – Rachel Harris, age 41.  Three novels for us; a dozen others.  Drinks Diet Mountain Dew.  Homeschool mom.  “Bookish people are the best people in the world.”  [JH]
  • Born May 2, 1983 – Jodi Meadows, age 38.  A dozen novels (three with co-authors), half a dozen shorter stories.  “I love crocheting, knitting, and spinning.  In addition to several hand spindles, I share my office with three spinning wheels, named Bob, Rose, and Gideon.”  Has read Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee, five by Jane Austen, Of Mice and MenThe Martian Chronicles.  [JH]

(7) COMICS SECTION.

(8) TROTS AND BONNIE. [Item by John A Arkansawyer.] She was my favorite of the National Lampoon comic artists. Now her collection is being published by the New York Review of Books! I’m not buying much, but I will buy this: “For 20 years, Shary Flenniken of Seattle lampooned her hometown in hilarious comic ‘Trots and Bonnie’” in the Seattle Times.

As a teenager growing up in the wildest days of the 1960s counterculture, Shary Flenniken bristled at the sleepy Magnolia neighborhood where her family had settled. She dreamed of finding adventure in far-off New York City and San Francisco, and her Seattle upbringing felt like a dreary dead end in comparison.

To while away the time until she could leave Magnolia behind, Flenniken told me over the phone recently, she got lost in her parents’ bookshelves. “They had really nice, big collections of New Yorker cartoons and Superman comics,” Flenniken says, and she’d soak up every line. “I just devoured that stuff. I was a super-reader.” Her father, a Navy admiral, was an amateur cartoonist, but his tolerance for irreverence only went so far. “My dad pretty much ripped up my early MAD magazines,” Flenniken says. “He was like that.”

… “Having a regular character is very important if you want to be successful doing comics, so your work should be character-driven,” she says. Flenniken decided to center her strip on a rebellious teenage girl not unlike herself. “I named her Bonnie, after a dog I had as a child,” she says. But every protagonist needs a sidekick to talk to, and so Flenniken sketched out Bonnie’s sardonic talking dog and named him Trots, “which had something to do with, um, pooping,” she says.

“Trots and Bonnie” ran in National Lampoon for 18 years, and the strip’s juxtaposition of elegant old-fashioned cartooning skill and filthy ultramodern comedy attracted a rabid fan base of cartooning aficionados. Bonnie and her faithful pup represent Flenniken’s raging id, let loose in retrospect on the manicured lawns of Magnolia….

(9) FOUR ON THE FLOOR. CNN reports “SpaceX mission: Four astronauts to return from five-month ISS mission”. In fact, they made it!

… On Saturday evening, the crew climbed aboard their spacecraft, which had remained fixed to the space station’s docking ports since the astronauts arrived in November. They undocked from the ISS at 8:37 pm ET, and will spend the night aboard their capsule as it freeflies through orbit. The spacecraft fire up its on-board engines to start safely descending back into the Earth’s thick atmosphere, and it’ll use a series of parachutes to slow its decent before splashing down off the coast Florida Sunday morning around 2:57 am ET….

In “SpaceX returns four astronauts to Earth in darkness” The Guardian covered their arrival.

…“We welcome you back to planet Earth and thanks for flying SpaceX,” mission control radioed moments after splashdown. “For those of you enrolled in our frequent flyer programme, you’ve earned 68m miles on this voyage.”

“We’ll take those miles,” said spacecraft commander Mike Hopkins. “Are they transferrable?” SpaceX replied that the astronauts would have to check with the company’s marketing department….

(10) TO MARS WITH TINKERBELL. The Adventurelandia.tumblr has photos and GIFs from Disneyland’s 1957 Mars and Beyond TV episode.

#my gif from Adventurelandia

(11) THE WAIT IS ALMOST OVER. Wendy Whitman Cobb has a roundup of the coming possibilities at The Conversation: “Space tourism – 20 years in the making – is finally ready for launch”.

For most people, getting to the stars is nothing more than a dream. On April 28, 2001, Dennis Tito achieved that lifelong goal – but he wasn’t a typical astronaut. Tito, a wealthy businessman, paid US$20 million for a seat on a Russian Soyuz spacecraft to be the first tourist to visit the International Space Station. Only seven people have followed suit in the 20 years since, but that number is poised to double in the next 12 months alone.

NASA has long been hesitant to play host to space tourists, so Russia – looking for sources of money post-Cold War in the 1990s and 2000s – has been the only option available for those looking for this kind of extreme adventure. However, it seems the rise of private space companies is going to make it easier for regular people to experience space.

From my perspective as a space policy analyst, I see the beginning of an era in which more people can experience space. With companies like SpaceX and Blue Origin hoping to build a future for humanity in space, space tourism is a way to demonstrate both the safety and reliability of space travel to the general public….

[Thanks to Michael Toman, JJ, John A Arkansaawyer, Cat Eldridge, Andrew Porter, Martin Morse Wooster, John King Tarpinian, John Hertz, and Mike Kennedy for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Jack Lint.]

Pixel Scroll 4/18/21 We Were Somewhere Around Scrollstow On The Edge Of Fandom When The Files Began To Take Hold

(1) HISTORY-MAKING NOVELETTES. At the SF Award Database, Mark Kelly has released his list of the Top 100 Novelettes in sff history, with the first 20 annotated: “Top SF/F/H Novelettes”.

On top: “Nightfall” by Isaac Asimov (1941). Here’s the link to his “Short Fiction Ranking Introduction and Methodology”.

Kelly posted the “Top SF/F/H Short Stories” a few months ago. “Bears Discover Fire” by Terry Bisson headed that list. Pages for other categories are in process.

(2) YOUR NEW FAVORITE PROF. N.K. Jemisin has joined the ranks of Master Class instructors.

(3) ESSENCE OF WONDER. Essence of Wonder with Gadi Evron is hosting a two-part panels on “Exploring Chinese Science Fiction Multi-dimensionally: Fiction, Translation, Fandom, Industry, and More” on Saturday, April 24 at 3 p.m. Eastern. Register at the link.

Join us for two panels on Chinese science fiction explored from multiple outlooks, from the fiction itself, through the translation and the fans, and all the way to the industry. The show is co-hosted by Regina Kanyu Wang and Yen Ooi, with our panelists: Chen Qiufan, Fend Chang, Emily Xueni Jin, Christine Ni, Angus Stewart, and Guangzhao Lyu. More details below.

There will be a segment on Asia and another on Europe.

(4) KICKS IN SIXTY-SIX. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] Isaac Asimov, in his autobiography In Joy Still Felt, discusses how he was master of ceremonies at the 1966 Worldcon.  He was also nominated for a special Hugo for “Best All-Time Novel Series,” where he competed against The Lord Of The Rings and series by Edgar Rice Burroughs, Robert A. Heinlein, and E.E. Smith.  Hugos then were given at a banquet.

I felt Tolkien was certain to win, and fairly so, and that Heinlein, Smith, and Burroughs all had enough devotees among the young fans attending the convention (and who did the voting) to give each a good shot at second place.  Foundation, I felt, would finish in last place, and I grieved at being the sacrificial lamb.  I was reconciled at losing, but hoped against hope that Burroughs or Smith would place fifth.  I would be delighted to place fourth.

When it came to hand out that award, however, the organizer of the convention hastily whispered to me that Harlan (Ellison) wanted to handle the novel item and said, in a shamefaced manner, ‘We had better let him. You know Harlan.’

I certainly knew that Harlan was capable of making a giant-size fuss if he didn’t have his way, and I didn’t want him spoiling the banquet, so with what grace I could muster I gave way.

Harlan came dancing up, made a few rapid remarks that had everyone laughing, and then announced the nominees and omitted the Foundation series.

I called out from my seat, in real outrage, ‘Hey, Harlan, at least mention the Foundation series.’

Harlan didn’t hear me, or at least he made no sign that he had.  He reached for the envelope, tore it open, waited the inevitable heartbeat for the sake of suspense, and said, ‘And the winner:  Isaac Asimov for the Foundation series.’

I thought it was Harlan’s idea of a joke and sat there without moving and rather annoyed until everyone started laughing, and I gather I really won.  And there were Gertrude and the children beaming, and everyone still laughing and applauding, and I got up to accept my Hugo, thoroughly and utterly speechless.

I don’t think the organizers of the convention thought anyone would take the award away from Tolkien, and it was the first indication I had, the first really convincing indication, since the first of the Foundation series appeared twenty-four years before, that the series was so popular. In fact, I realized that just as ‘Nightfall’ was the most highly regarded piece among the shorter lengths, The Foundation Trilogy was the most highly-regarded science-fiction item among the longer lengths.

(5) BOMBS, BOOKS, AND BOWIE. [Item by rcade.] The chemical/biological/radiological/nukes/explosives expert and electronic musician Andy Oppenheimer is tacking on a new job title — science fiction author.

Oppenheimer, who has written the indie novels Fields of Orion: An Odyssey and Fields of Orion: The Mission, describes the books and upcoming sequels in a guest post on the SFF book database Risingshadow. “Guest post by Andy Oppenheimer”.

In the two decades before I started writing science fiction, I wrote and lectured about defence, weapons of mass destruction (nuclear, bio, chemical), and counter-terrorism. Before that, I worked in publishing – starting with a job at an American futuristic science magazine, Omni, which also published science fiction. I went to the big conventions in the USA and here in Britain, and met many famous authors.

I wonder if I should have started writing sci-fi back then. But during my time at Omni I was more involved in the London nightclub scene as a DJ and part-time synth-pop singer.

He calls David Bowie, who he used to cosplay at nightclubs and science fiction cons, a major influence on both his music and fiction. Oppenheimer told Altvenger Magazine how he was hired by Omni in 1978: “Thin White Nuke by Andy Oppenheimer”.

When I ask my boss why I got the job over others with science degrees, he says: “You looked and acted the part for a futuristic magazine – and the others were boring.”

He later became a specialist on nuclear, biological and chemical weapons for the publication Jane’s Terrorism and Security Monitor. There’s no word on whether he looked the part.

(6) NO TRICKLE-DOWN. “Winter Soldier Creator Ed Brubaker on Lack of MCU Profits” at The Mary Sue.

The global success of the Marvel Cinematic Universe has earned Marvel and Disney billions of dollars over the past decade. But does any of that money trickle down to the writers and artists who created these beloved characters and stories? Not much, according to writer Ed Brubaker. Brubaker discussed his relationship with the MCU during an appearance on Kevin Smith and Marc Bernardin’s Fatman Beyond podcast, where he delved into his history with Marvel.

Brubaker, along with artist Steve Epting, resurrected the character of Bucky Barnes and transformed him into the Winter Soldier in 2004. What followed was a highly successful comics run that garnered Brubaker multiple Eisner awards and nominations for Captain America…. 

Brubaker highlighted the salary discrepancy for comics creators and artists by noting that he earned more money for his cameo performance in The Winter Soldier than for his creation of the character itself. “It’s ridiculous that like being a co-creator of The Winter Soldier … I should not have to be worried about providing for my wife if I die. Like right now, I don’t live a high life … I do well … it started to feel like this kind of hurts a little bit. To be overlooked this way. I know that they’ve made deals with other people that have had less input on what they do. And I just kind of felt like, it just sucks,” Brubaker told Smith and Bernardin….

(7) YOU’LL WANT TO SHELL OUT. Let Kotaku encourage you to “Drink Up This Ghost In The Shell Japanese Booze”.

Joining the likes of other geeky sake comes a line of Ghost in the Shell-themed stuff. Kanpai!

Previously, there has been Pac-Man, Yakzua, and Final Fantasy branded sake. Now, three bottles, each with characters from Ghost in the Shell, will be released in Japan.

According to Kurand (via Grape and PR Times), there is a light and dry-tasting Motoko Kusanagi branded release from Arinokawa Sake Brewery….

(8) FLETCHER OBIT. Costume designer Robert Fletcher, who worked on the original four Star Trek films, died April 5 at age 98. The Wrap has details: “Robert Fletcher, ‘Star Trek’ Film Costume Designer, Dies at 98”.

…Robert “Bob” Fletcher worked as a costume designer for over six decades, crafting the iconic look of the Klingons and the Vulcans in the original “Star Trek” movies, starting with “Star Trek: The Motion Picture” in 1979. His last feature film was “Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home” in 1986, and he’s credited with imagining the “monster maroon” Starfleet uniforms worn by William Shatner and company….

(9) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

  • April 18, 1938 –Superman first appeared in Action Comics #1, a comic book published on April 18, 1938 by National Allied Publications even though the cover said June. The character was created by writer Jerry Siegel and artist Joe Shuster. This was actually an anthology, and contained eleven features with the Superman feature being the first thirteen inside pages. Five years ago, a pristine copy  of this comic sold for a record $3,207,852 on an eBay auction. It was one of two hundred thousand that were printed. 

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]

  • Born April 18, 1884 – Frank Paul.  After FP had been contributing to Gernsback’s Electrical Experimenter awhile, G recruited him to help start Amazing; FP did every cover 1926-1929.  Then Air WonderScience WonderScientific DetectiveWonderFantasticScience Fiction; eventually Amazing again.  Here is Ralph 124C41+.  Here is the Aug 27 Amazing.  Here is the Clevention Program Book (13th Worldcon).  Here is the Dec 57 Satellite.  Two hundred twenty covers, fourteen hundred forty interiors.  Guest of Honor at the first Worldcon.  Two posthumous artbooks.  (Died 1963) [JH]
  • Born April 18, 1907 – Gertrude Carr.  Charter member of the Nameless Ones.  Correspondent of TrumpetVega, and like that; member of various apas e.g. FAPASAPSN’APA.  Active in Star Trek fandom during its first decades.  See here.  (Died 2005) [JH]
  • Born April 18, 1952 – Martin Hoare.  Physicist and beer connoisseur.  Co-chaired Eastercon 35 and 53, a suitable numerical coincidence.  Doc Weir Award (service).  Regularly attended U.S. Worldcons during the long run of Dave Langford’s Best-Fanwriter Hugos, gleefully announced telephoning with the news at 3 a.m. DL’s time.  (Died 2019) [JH]
  • Born April 18, 1946 Janet Kagan. “The Nutcracker Coup” was nominated for both the Hugo Award for Best Novelette and the Nebula Award for Best Novelette, winning the Hugo at ConFrancisco. She has but two novels, one being Uhura’s Song, a Trek novel, and quite a bit short fiction which is out in The Complete Kagan from Bean Books and is available from the usual digital suspects. (Died 2008.) (CE)
  • Born April 18, 1965 Stephen Player, 56. Some birthday honor folks are elusive. He came up via one of the sites JJ gave me but little is on him on the web. What I did find is awesome as he’s deep in the Pratchett’s Discworld and the fandom that sprung up around it. He illustrated the first two Discworld Maps, and quite a number of the books including the 25th Anniversary Edition of The Light Fantastic and The Illustrated Wee Free Men. Oh, but that’s just a mere wee taste of he’s done as he did the production design for the Sky One production of Hogfather and The Colour of Magic. He did box art and card illustrations for Guards! Guards! A Discworld Boardgame. Finally he contributed to some Discworld Calendars, games books, money for the Discworld convention. I want that money. (CE)
  • Born April 18, 1965 – Stephen Player, age 56.  Thirty covers, a dozen interiors.  Here is an Oxford ed’n of Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?  Associated with Terry Pratchett; here is The Discworld Mapphere is The Illustrated “Wee Free Men”.  Website.  [JH]
  • Born April 18, 1969 Keith R. A. DeCandido, 52. I found him with working in these genre media franchises: such as Supernatural, AndromedaFarscapeFireflyAliensStar Trek In its various permutations, Buffy the Vampire SlayerDoctor WhoSpider-ManX-MenHerculesThorSleepy Hollow,and Stargate SG-1. (He has also written works that were not media tie-ins.) (CE) 
  • Born April 18, 1971 David Tennant, 50. Eleventh Doctor and my favorite of the modern Doctors along with Thirteen whom I’m also very fond of. There are some episodes such as the “The Unicorn and The Wasp” that I’ve watched repeatedly.  He’s also done other spectacular genre work such as the downright creepy Kilgrave in Jessica Jones, and and Barty Crouch, Jr. in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. He’s also in the Beeb’s remake of the The Quatermass Experiment as Dr. Gordon Briscoe. (CE) 
  • Born April 18, 1973 Cora Buhlert, 48. With Jessica Rydill, she edits the Speculative Fiction Showcase, a most excellent site. She has a generous handful of short fiction professionally published, and she’s was a finalist again for the Best Fan Writer Hugo this year. I’ve got her Paris Green: A Helen Shepherd Mystery in my reading list. (CE) 
  • Born April 18, 1994 – Alexandra Adornetto, age 27.  Eight novels.  Her first was published when she was 13; “The shadow represents individuality and colour and a person’s spirit, really.”  Won a State public-speaking competition.  Commuted between Australia and Ole Miss.  Besides writing, likes “old-style country music, theology, singing.”  [JH]
  • Born April 18 – Cheryl Morgan.  Her Emerald City won a Best-Fanzine Hugo (I contributed to it); CM later won Best Fanwriter, joined in earning two Best-Semiprozine Hugos while at Clarkesworld, now edits Salon Futura,owns Wizard’s Tower Press.  Guest of Honor at Eurocon 34.  I’d call her an idiosyncratic critic but around here that wouldn’t indicate she was unusual.  [JH]

(11) COMICS SECTION.

  • Get Fuzzy has a lot of funny-horrible puns mashing up Star Wars and Canada. 
  • Bizarro does justice to superhero cuisine.

(12) BAUM’S AWAY.PBS’ American Experience series premieres American Oz: The True Wizard Behind The Curtain on April 19.

Explore the life and times of author L. Frank Baum, the creator of one of the most beloved, enduring and classic American narratives. By 1900, when The Wonderful Wizard of Oz was published, Baum was 44 years old and had spent much of his life in restless pursuit of success. With mixed results he dove into a string of jobs  — chicken breeder, actor, marketer of petroleum products, shopkeeper, newspaperman and traveling salesman — Baum continued to reinvent himself, reflecting a uniquely American brand of confidence, imagination and innovation. During his travels to the Great Plains and on to Chicago during the American frontier’s final days, he witnessed a nation coming to terms with the economic uncertainty of the Gilded Age. But he never lost his childlike sense of wonder and eventually crafted his observations into a magical tale of survival, adventure and self-discovery, reinterpreted through the generations in films, books and musicals.

(13) THE EARTH IS FLAT, HOW BOW DAT. [Item by rcade.] If you’re looking for the kind of definitive proof that only a random Internet search can provide, Getty Images has a series titled “Flat Earth from Space.” Here’s a lovely shot of the Antarctica-ringed planet we call home perched on its stabilizing stalactite: “Flat Earth From Space Stock Photo”

The images are by iStock contributor Cokada from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, who has a portfolio of more than 8,800 images that include a lot of science fictional elements. “Cokada Stock Image and Video Portfolio”.

(14) IN SPACE, NO ONE CAN COMPLAIN TO OSHA. The Guardian is inspired by Stowaway to survey the field: “Sitting in a tin can: why sci-fi films are finally telling astronaut life like it is”

Anybody who fancies watching a new science fiction film this month can count their lucky stars. A Netflix drama, Stowaway, features Anna Kendrick, Toni Collette and Daniel Dae Kim as a trio of astronauts who are on their way to Mars when they discover that an unfortunate launch-plan engineer, Shamier Anderson, is still onboard. The trouble is, there is only enough oxygen for three of them. American viewers can also see Voyagers (due for release in Britain in July), in which 30 hormonal starship passengers are preparing to colonise another world. The trouble is, something goes wrong on their mission, too, and the trip turns into an interplanetary Lord of the Flies. The moral of both stories is that you should probably push “astronaut” a few slots down your list of dream jobs. But if you’ve caught any other science fiction films recently, it’s bound to be quite far down the list, anyway.

Again and again over the past decade, cinema has warned us that venturing beyond the Earth’s atmosphere is uncomfortable, dangerous, exhaustingly difficult, frequently tedious, and almost certain to involve interplanetary angst and asphyxiation…. 

(15) FRANKENSTEIN’S DROID. This happened at an auction in 2017, but it’s news to me. An “R2-D2 unit from ‘Star Wars’ sells for $2.75 million” reported CNN, the prop assembled from genuine bits and pieces.

A complete R2-D2 unit sold for $2.75 million Wednesday at a California auction, according to the Los Angeles-area auction house Profiles in History.

Luke Skywalker’s 43-inch tall sidekick was assembled from components from the original “Star Wars” trilogy as well as “Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace” and “Star Wars: Episode II: Attack of the Clones,” according to the auction catalog. The films were made between 1977 and 2002.

Unfortunately, this R2-D2 won’t interact with you. “No internal mechanics or workings are present,” the auction house said.

The droid is constructed of aluminum, steel and fiberglass, and is believed to be the only complete R2-D2 unit in the public domain, according to Profiles in History’s auction catalog. The auction house called it “one of the most instantly recognizable pieces of pop culture in existence.”

The dome in the droid dates to the original 1977 film when it was used by actor Kenny Baker.

The auction catalog said R2-D2 units were upgraded as more films were made, with older components being retired….

(16) TRAILER TIME. The WB dropped a trailer for the animated Batman: The Long Halloween, Part One.

(17) VIDEO OF THE DAY. “Star Trek:  First Contact 25th Anniversary/First Contact Day” on YouTube is a panel sponsored by Paramount Plus for the 25th anniversary of Star Trek:  First Contact that was moderated by Wil Wheaton and included Sir Patrick Stewart, Brent Spiner, Alice Krige, and Jonathan Frakes, who starred in the film and directed it,  Topics included Krige’s preparation for her work as the Borg Queen, how Spiner felt his work as Data changed with the introduction of the emotion chip, and why Frakes as a director became known as “Two-Takes Frakes,”

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

Pixel Scroll 4/11/21 On The Scroll I’d Rather Be In Philadelphia

(1) JOCO VIRTUAL CRUISE IN PROGRESS. [Item by Todd Mason.] The Jonathan Coulton Cruise, an annual “fringe”/”geek” cultural floating convention, is this year providing a free online version of the (essentially) convention… “JoCo Virtual Cruise 2021”. It started April 10 and runs through April 14.

A worldwide pandemic may have prevented the physical sailing of JoCo Cruise 2021 from happening, but the spirit of JoCo Cruise SHALL NOT BE DENIED OR CONTAINED. As such, we at The Home Office have uploaded our collective consciousness to the cloud, and JoCo Cruise is going to ride the ones and zeros as JoCo Virtual Cruise 2021.

Concerts, panels, gaming, Shadow Cruise (attendee-run) events, dance parties, a Fancy Pants Parade—all the things you love about JoCo Cruise, packed together and streamed over the Netterwebs for your socially-distanced convenience!

(2) HOOFING THROUGH HISTORY. Jason W. Ellis has posted “Notes on A Science Fiction Walking Tour in New York City”.

Looking ahead to the New York City of Print NEH Summer Institute, I wanted to collect some notes and resources together for Science-Fiction-focused locations around the city, including the original Manhattan-based offices for the magazines Amazing Stories and Astounding Science-Fiction, and home and business locations in Brooklyn of importance to the SF writer Isaac Asimov….

(3) HATE CRIMES IN CAMBRIDGE. [Item by rcade.] The SFF writer/editor Cecilia Tan tweeted Saturday evening that she had just witnessed an assault outside a Cambridge, Massachusetts, bookstore. Thread starts here.

I’m in line to enter the bookstore and there is an Asian American couple in front of me. A white guy in tights wearing a mask goes to walk between us and he just outright punches the Asian guy in the ribs as he goes by!

The Asian guy grabbed his arm and yelled what the hell is wrong with you? The white guy pulled away yelling “what the hell you think is wrong with me?” And then walked away quickly before I could get my phone out to take a photo.

The incident occurred outside Porter Square Books. Tan said the store has security cameras it will be checking for potential footage to provide police.

Tan was walking home from the bookstore when she encountered another hate crime in Porter Square. The Judy Jetson hair salon had a boarded-up window with the words, “You can break our window but you can’t break our Pride.”

The salon’s Instagram feed revealed Friday that someone threw a brick through a window displaying a Pride flag. The salon stated, “Our support for the LGBTQ community will never be silenced.”

(4) HELPING VARLEY. A new post at John Varley’s blog, “Recovering”, announces a GoFundMe to sustain him after his quadruple bypass:

… When I had the heart attack and quadruple by-pass surgery, Spider [Robinson] came to the rescue again. He asked his good friend, Steph Herman, to co-ordinate a fundraising project to help cover costs of rehab, rent and bills which were barely being covered by social security and diminishing royalties.

The “Help John Varley survive his Quadruple Bypass” appeal has raised $27,020 of its $30,000 goal in the first week. When the fund hit the $25K mark Varley and his partner Lee Emmett wrote:

…If he had raised a tenth that much I would still have been stunned. There have been some donations from old friends (and thank you all for that; you know who you are), but the bulk has come from people I don’t know, have never met, and probably will never meet. (Though I would love to.)

To think that my stories have moved so many people … well, it literally chokes me up. After all, I’m just a guy sitting here in the dark, trying to think up stuff that might amuse people … and perhaps a little more if I’m lucky and it all comes together. Being a writer of short stories and novels is a lonely profession. There are no story conferences, no meetings in the writers’ room to hash out the details. There’s just me and this damn blank screen.

Over the years I have had a certain amount of “fan” mail, and it has all been greatly appreciated. But nothing like this. In the end, all I can say is thank you…. 

(5) DIGNITY, ALWAYS DIGNITY. In his autobiography In Joy Still Felt, Isaac Asimov discussed Discon I (1963). He explained that at the last-minute chair George Scithers asked him to replace Theodore Sturgeon as master of ceremonies at the Hugo Awards, also at the last minute.  Asimov explains that he really wanted a Hugo and thought being MC meant he wouldn’t get one.

Finally, there was only one Hugo left to be awarded, and it was labeled ‘Dramatic Award.’  I didn’t think anyone would be interested in that because it would be go to some movie or TV show with no one involved who was personally known to anybody, so I let the audience wait while I launched into a short speech of not-so-mock annoyance.

‘You know why I’ve never had a Hugo?’ I said, waving my fist in the air.  ‘It’s because I’m Jewish, that’s why.  It’s because of anti-Semitic prejudice in high places,  It’s because you’re all a bunch of Nazis.’  Naturally, this got a big laugh, and I opened the envelope and found that the ‘Dramatic Award’ typed on it had been put there as a blind.

The final Hugo, of course was for me.  I started reading, ‘For putting the science in science fiction, Is—‘ and stopped cold.

There wasn’t any question I was surprised.  The day never existed when I could fake that look of stunned astonishment on my face,  The audience roared; it roared for ten minutes.  When everyone died down and I caught my breath, George handed me my Hugo and I said, ‘You’ve ruined my shtick, damn it.’  (I tried to feign indignation, but I was smiling all over.  I was delighted.)

Apparently Ted Sturgeon had been chosen master of ceremonies because they wanted to give me a Hugo, and apparently he had been kept away by family difficulties.

I said, ‘Then why did you ask me to be master of ceremonies, George?  There were plenty of other choices.’

‘Oh well,’ said George, ‘we thought it would be funnier that way, but I have to admit no one ever dreamed you would lead up to it so beautifully.’

I said, ‘Don’t you think it would look peculiar to have me give a Hugo to myself?’

‘Sure,’ said George, ‘but the committee decided you were the only writer in science fiction who could give himself a Hugo without being embarrassed,’

“Wiseguy,’ I said–but he was probably right.

(6) MASLOW’S FOUNDATION. Horror Writers Association members have been passing around the link to “Maslow’s pyramid of code review” (2015) since it was tweeted by Space & Time’s Leonard Speiser. Originally aimed at writers of computer code, Angela Yuriko Smith’s reinterpretation for fiction authors is here: “Maslow’s Pyramid Of Code—Writer Mod”.

…The layers are correct, secure, readable, elegant with the pinnacle of accomplishment as altruist. I have printed this pyramid and have pinned it to my wall so I can evaluate my own manuscripts with it. It’s beautiful, simple and it makes sense. You can see Dein’s original post referring to Maslow’s Pyramid of code here. Here’s my modified version for writers and poets:

Any piece of writing should be:

  1. Correct: does the written work do what it’s supposed to? Has it been edited and formatted? Have the redundancies been weeded out? Is it as correct as possible? Have run on sentences and passive voice been eradicated?
  2. Secure: does the written work have vulnerabilities? Is it stored in the cloud, or backed up on your computer? Do you need a hard copy? Do you save on an external drive?
  3. Readable: is the written work easy to read and comprehend? Are there plot holes and lapses in logic? Does the dialogue feel natural? Is the world believable? Can the reader follow along and understand what you wish to communicate?
  4. Elegant: does the written work leverage well-known patterns? Does it make use of balanced syntax? Is there texture, rhythm and a variety of adjectives? Does the piece flow, bringing the reader along for the ride or must they struggle to stay afloat in the text? Is there a compelling start and satisfying end?
  5. Altruist: does the written work leave the humanities better than what they were? Does it inspire other writers to improve their work as well? Is it cleaning up unneeded bias, improving diversity, introducing better writing through worn out trope refactoring? Does it have a purpose beyond ego, whether this is to teach, enlighten or entertain?

(7) SLF NEEDS JURORS. The Speculative Literature Foundation is calling for volunteer jurors to help read applications for the Older Writers Grant.

Ideally, we’re looking for people who are well read in speculative fiction, but we’d also like a mix of readers, writers, librarians, teachers, editors, etc. who are capable of judging literary quality in a work.

Please include the grant you wish to be a juror for and a paragraph about what your qualifying background is to serve as a juror: for example, your interest in / connection to the field. (i.e., “I’m an ardent reader!” or “I’ve been writing SF/F for seven years…”). Please feel free to ask any questions you may have as well.

Finally, we’re offering a tiny honorarium of $25 — it’s not much, but enough to buy a nice dinner as a reward for your labors!

If interested, please send a brief note to L.D. Lewis (lekesha@speculativeliterature.org) with the subject line: JUROR.

(8) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

  • April 11, 1986 –On this day in 1986, The Toxic Avenger was released nationally two years after it premiered in New York City. It directed by Michael Herz and Lloyd Kaufman (who is credited here as Samuel Weil) as written by Kaufman and Joe Ritter. It was the first installment of The Toxic Avenger franchise which would encompass three more films, a Marvel Comics series and a short lived children’s animated series. Mitch Kessler was the Toxic Avenger with his voice  provided by Kenneth Kessler. Critics at the time ranged in their opinions from disgusted to delighted with the mainstream ones decidedly not liking it; it currently holds an excellent approval rating of sixty three percent  among audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes. Kaufman and Herz are currently attached to a reboot with Peter Dinklage in the lead role.

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]

  • Born April 11, 1883 – Camille Marbo.  Won the Prix Femina, later served on its jury, then its president.  Commander of the Legion of Honor.  Medal of French Gratitude for war work. With her husband mathematician Émile Borel, founded La revue du mois (“Review of the month”), scientific & literary.  Friend of Marie Curie.  Three times president of the Société des gens de lettres.  Of her forty books, novels, monographs, memoirs, I know of only one translated into English, The Man Who Survived; it is ours and a masterwork.  (Died 1969) [JH]
  • Born April 11, 1892 – William Timlin.  The Ship That Sailed to Mars (hello, David Levine) really does have to be enough for us, because WT never finished The Building of a Fairy City.  Luckily The Ship is superb.  You can get it on paper if you look hard – even the 1977 Easton Press ed’n is plenty rare – but quick and cheap for Kindle in English, Spanish, Japanese.  The Wayback Machine’s has a hint of WT’s calligraphy.  Here is the ship’s arrival.  Here is the finished palace of the princess.  Here is another moment.  This is from The Building.  (Died 1943) [JH]
  • Born April 11, 1920Peter O’Donnell. Best remembered as the creator of Modesty Blaise of whom EoSF says her “agility and supple strength are sufficiently exceptional for her to be understood as a Superhero.” O’Donnell also wrote the screenplay of The Vengeance of She based on H. Rider Haggard’s Ayesha: The Return of She novel. (Died 2010.) (CE) 
  • Born April 11, 1941 – Gene Szafran.  Fourscore covers.  Here is Double Star.  Here is Down in the Black Gang.  Here is To Ride Pegasus.  Here is Bridge of Ashes.  Here is Beyond the Beyond.  (Died 2011) [JH]
  • Born April 11, 1949 Melanie Tem. She was the wife of genre author Steve Rasnic Tem. A prolific writer of both novels and short stories, she considered herself a dark fantasy writer, not a horror writer. Bryant, King and Simmonds all praised her writing. If I had to make recommends, I’d say start with Blood MoonWitch-Light (co-written with Nancy Holder) and Daughters done with her husband. ”The Man on the Ceiling” won her a World Fantasy Award.  She died of cancer which recurred after she’d been in remission. (Died 2015.) (CE) 
  • Born April 11, 1953Byron Preiss. Writer, editor and publisher. He founded and served as president of Byron Preiss Visual Publications, and later of ibooks Inc. If I remember correctly, ibooks was the last publisher for Zelazny for most of his books. Any idea what happened to those rights after ibooks went into receivership?  The only book I can find him writing is the children’s novel Dragonworld which is co-authored with Michael Reaves who was involved in including Gargoyles and Batman: The Animated Series. (Died 2005.) (CE) 
  • Born April 11, 1951 – James Patrick Kelly, age 70.  Five novels, a hundred shorter stories, a dozen poems.  Two Hugos, one Nebula.  “On the Net” in Asimov’s, and for twenty years a story there every June.  Interviewed in ClarkesworldLightspeedStrange Horizons.  His Website says “I’ve left some things for you here.  Take whatever you want.  Remember me.”  [JH]
  • Born April 11, 1955Julie Czerneda, 66. She won the Prix Aurora Award for her Company of Others novel. She also received one for Short Form in English for her “Left Foot on A Blind Man” Story, both early in her career.  She has a long running series, The Clan Chronicles which is as sprawling as anything Martin conceived. (CE) 
  • Born April 11, 1957 – Marina Fitch, age 64.  Three novels (alas, Let Us Prey is lost in the German Laßt uns jagen), a dozen shorter stories.  Loves rubber-stamp art, bicycling, Celtic harp & harmonica duets with her husband.  [JH]
  • Born April 11, 1963Greg Keyes, 58. Best known for The Age of Unreason tetralogy, a steampunk and magical affair featuring Benjamin Franklin and Isaac Newton. He also wrote The Psi Corps Trilogy and has done a lot of other media tie-in fiction including Pacific RimStar WarsPlanet of The ApesIndependence Day and Pacific Rim. His Age of Unreason series (Newton’s CannonA Calculus of AngelsEmpire of Unreason and The Shadows of God) was nominated for a Sidewise Award.  (CE) 
  • Born April 11, 1973 – Jon Evans, age 48. Two novels for us (Arthur Ellis Award, Foreword Book of the Year), four others; travel to a hundred countries; software engineering.  Writes for The Times of IndiaThe Globe and Mail, The WalrusTechCrunch.  Founding director of the GitHub Archive Program.  [JH]
  • Born April 11, 1974Tricia Helfer, 47. She is best known for playing the Cylon model Number Six the rebooted Battlestar Galactica series and voicing Sarah Kerrigan in StarCraft II gaming franchise. She played Charlotte Richards aka the Goddess of All Creation on Lucifer. She also voiced Boodikka in Green Lantern: First Flight, and had one-offs in SupernaturalWarehouse 13, the unsold 17th Precinct pilot, a recurring voice role in The Spectacular Spider-ManChuckHuman TargetTron: UprisingThe Librarians and apparently played Dracula once in Van Helsing. (CE) 

(10) COMICS SECTION.

  • Get Fuzzy plays with movie titles in what Daniel Dern assures is “fan-type-humor.” It would certainly fit in here.
  • “Off the Mark” shows what the term “superspreader” brings to the Mark Parisi’s mind.

(11) ALL ABOARD. Now that there will be an in-person Worldcon this year, there will be a Traincon from Chicago to the Worldcon and back announced “Conductor” Bill Thomasson. A Traincon 6 Facebook group is hosting discussions and providing an alternative source of updates.

DisCon III will take place in Washington, DC, from Wednesday, December 15, through Sunday, December 19. This news is very recent and I won’t be looking at the details of Traincon organization until after Amtrak resumes regular service next month, but I wanted to give you a heads up. My tentative plan, if the timing works, is to maximize the rail experience by taking the Cardinal in one direction and the Capitol Limited in the other. I am also contemplating the possibility of giving us a full free day in DC to check out all the wonderful tourist attractions in that city (or to assist the con with load-in/load-out if that is your thing). I would be interested in hearing whether you would prefer that free day before or after the con.

As usual, the group ticket discount will depend on how many people sign up, but I don’t yet know the details of how Amtrak will be handling group reservations in 2021. Meanwhile, I’m looking forward to a really great trip and to a great Worldcon. Hope to see
you there!

(12) SHE BITES. BoingBoing has scoured the internet for these examples of “The Profound Eldritch Horror Of Dolly Parton’s ‘Jolene’”.

There are apparently a bunch of different, totally unconnected people who have made their own Lovecraftian versions of “Jolene.” 

(13) SERCON. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] Time to say something about Perry Middlemiss’ zine The Alien Review which showed up on eFanzines last week. It’s a new zine edited by Perry Middlemiss that…wait for it…DISCUSSES AND REVIEWS SCIENCE FICTION. Is that legal?

The first issue has reviews (Piranesi, The Ministry For The Future, a batch of 2020 novellas, and sff award winners from 2019) along with other pieces, including a reprint of a Leigh Edmonds article from 1971.

(14) DOGWHISTLE. Dammit, these books won’t slate themselves. Three-time Dragon Award finalist Declan Finn tries to fire up his colleagues in “Enter: the Dragons”.

Last year for the Dragon awards, many people in my circles hated the finalists.

And trust me, I mean it when I say that they hated the finalists. There was one caveat to that, but that’s all I recall.

My response was simple

“DUH! Why do you think I try to have this discussion EVERY MONTH FOR HALF THE YEAR? YOU THINK I LIKE THIS? IF I WANTED IT FOR MYSELF, I’D ONLY TALK ABOUT MYSELF.” [Insert sound of hair pulling and rage]

Ahem.

(15) YOU SPIN ME ROUND. Smithsonian says get your Ingenuity merch now! Mars Ingenuity Collection.

Celebrate the Ingenuity helicopter making history as the first powered flight on another planet — Mars!

(16) KEEPING AN EYE ON THINGS.  In the Washington Post, Christian Davenport notes how companies such as SpaceX and OneWeb are flooding space with satellites “no bigger than a shoe box” and how these small satellites are improving communications and aiding the reporting on climate change. “Satellites becoming smaller, less expensive in revolution of space business”.

The avalanche was a stunning disaster, 247 million cubic feet of glacial ice and snow hurtling down the Tibetan mountain range at 185 mph. Nine people and scores of animals were killed in an event that startled scientists around the world.

As they researched why the avalanche occurred with such force, a team of researchers studying climate change pored over images taken in the days and weeks before and saw ominous cracks had begun to form in the ice and snow. Then, scanning photos of a nearby glacier, they noticed similar crevasses forming, touching off a scramble to warn local authorities that it was also about to come crashing down.The images of the glaciers in 2016 came from a constellation of satellites no bigger than a shoe box, in orbit 280 miles up. Operated by San Francisco-based company Planet, the satellites, called Doves, weigh just over 10 pounds each and fly in “flocks” that today include 175 satellites. If one fails, the company replaces it, and as better batteries, solar arrays and cameras become available, the company updates its satellites the way Apple unveils a new iPhone….

(17) YOU ARE VERY QUALIFIED. Mind Matters introduces another DUST short in “Sci-fi Saturday: When “The Workplace” Is Anything But”.

This sci-fi short will appeal to many who have had a job at the corner of Rat and Race and sense that’s a blessing compared to the alternative. It starts with a woman reassuring herself, “I AM the boss,” and cuts to her interviewing a job candidate who seems off-putting at first but appears qualified — and then things get weird.

Don’t miss the scene where the new employee is shown around the office as if he had spent all his life in the wilderness and had never been in a conventional 21st century office before. And then the awful truth begins to dawn…

(18) VIDEO OF THE DAY. “Star Trek Spinoff” on Saturday Night Live explains what happens when cadets from “small, exclusive Starfleet Academy” show up on the bridge during a crisis.

[Thanks to rcade, John King Tarpinian, Todd Mason, Daniel Dern, Rob Thornton, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, Cat Eldridge, Michael Toman, John Hertz, Andrew Porter, and Mike Kennedy for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day rcade.]

Pixel Scroll 4/4/21 Listen To Them, The Pixels Of The Night. What Scrolls They Make

(1) FALLING FORWARD. In the Washington Post, Annalee Newitz published an excerpt from their book Four Lost Cities: A Secret History Of The Urban Age, where they argue that civilizations don’t “collapse,” but slowly evolve into something else. “Civilizations don’t really die. They just take new forms”.

… But the historical record shows that reports of the end times always turned out to be wrong. “Barbarians” didn’t extinguish Rome: It still stands today, a vital and beloved city, and the cultures of its ancient empire influence populations across Europe and the Americas. Children still study Latin in school, and Silicon Valley executives quote Stoic philosophy. Elsewhere in the world, European colonialism and the slave trade left behind cultural ruins that can’t be explained away as “collapses.” They are open wounds, still smarting in the present. Over time, civilizations eventually morph into something else entirely, but they infuse future societies with their lingering traumas — as well as their hopeful ideals.

In truth, our apocalyptic stories are far too simplistic to capture what actually happens when a society melts down. As I argue in my book “Four Lost Cities: A Secret History of the Urban Age,” a civilization is not a single, monolithic entity, nor does it disintegrate during a momentary crisis. Instead, as we’re witnessing in the United States today, it changes without ever breaking completely from the past. It is far from obvious that a society ever really dies….

(2) DON’T TAKE THIS ART FOR GRANTED. The third installment of Doug Ellis’ look at the Science Fiction Book Club’s Things to Come is now live at Black Gate: “The Art of Things to Come, Part 3: 1961-1963”.

As I related in the first two installments of this series (Part One: 1953-1957, and Part Two: 1958-1960), like tens of thousands of science fiction fans before and after me, I was at one time a member of the Science Fiction Book Club (or SFBC for short). I joined just as I entered my teen years, in the fall of 1976, shortly after I’d discovered their ads in the SF digests.

The bulletin of the SFBC, Things to Come – which announced the featured selections available and alternates – sometimes just reproduced the dust jacket art for the books in question. During the first couple of decades of Things to Come, however, those occasions were rare. In most cases during that period, the art was created solely for the bulletin, and was not used in the book or anywhere else.

Since nearly all of the art for the first 20 years of Things to Come is exclusive to that bulletin, it hasn’t been seen by many SF fans. In this series, I’ll reproduce some of that art, chosen by virtue of the art, the story that it illustrates or the author of the story. The first installment featured art from 1957 and earlier, while the second installment covered 1958-1960. In this third installment I’ll look at the years 1961-1963, presented chronologically…

(3) TOO TOUGH TO ADAPT? Vanity Fair’s Joanna Robinson tries to understand “The Failure of American Gods and the Trouble With Neil Gaiman”.

… Some of the earliest Gaiman adaptations—like 2007’s Stardust, starring Claire Danes, and 2009’s charmingly stop-motion animated Coraline, from Laika studios—were warmly received. They may have been modest hits, but they’ve only grown in audience’s estimation over time. Perhaps most importantly, they’re well liked by Gaiman fans. Stardust, the story of a young, adventurous man and the grumpy fallen star who loves him, is such a loose adaptation of Gaiman’s book that it borders on a reimagining. The intent from screenwriter Jane Goldman and director Matthew Vaughn was clearly to try to fashion a Princess Bride–esque classic for a new generation. They fell somewhat short, but the result is still quite fun. It’s worth noting that while Gaiman describes visiting with Goldman and Vaughn as they worked on the script and giving his input on adaptive changes, he did not, ultimately have a screenplay credit, so it is unclear whether he had final say. 

Gaiman similarly did not have a screenplay credit when it came to Coraline. Based off one of Gaiman’s shortest and most overtly kid-friendly books, the story of a girl trapped in a creepy alternate reality proved a calling card for Laika and earned an Oscar nomination. 

After that, though—and following the mainstream geek-TV success he enjoyed writing episodes of Doctor Who in 2011 and 2013—Gaiman started getting more involved in adapting his own stories for film and television. The author had actually tried much earlier in his career to make it in Hollywood; he chronicled the frustrating experience he and Pratchett had trying to sell Good Omens in a piece of short fiction called “The Goldfish Pool and Other Stories.” Speaking with me about season one of American Gods—which was messy from the start, losing its first showrunner, Bryan Fuller, after its first year

(4) ZOOM FORERUNNER. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] Isaac Asimov explains in his autobiography In Joy Still Felt that in April 1962, the University of Omaha asked Asimov to give “a lecture by phone” to students.

The phone company would set up a loudspeaker arrangement; I was to keep my phone open at a particular time; I was to be there waiting, they would call; I would be able to give my lecture, hear audience response, and so on.

It was an intriguing notion and it occurred to me that I might make my influence felt anywhere in the nation without having to travel a step, or, for that matter, without having to do more than sit in my easy chair in my underwear.

On April 7, therefore, I did it–and found that I hated it.  There was simply no use in giving a lecture that wasn’t live.  I had to see the audience, sense it surrounding me, get the response in full.  Talking a lecture into a phone, I decided, was like typing while wearing boxing gloves, or making love while wearing a tuxedo.

I rejected all further such invitations when I possibly could.

(5) STILL THINKING ABOUT IT. WIRED’s “Geeks Guide to the Galaxy” talks to authors who agree that “’The Dispossessed’ Is Still One of Sci-Fi’s Smartest Books”.

Ursula K. Le Guin’s 1974 novel The Dispossessed depicts a society with no laws or government, an experiment in “nonviolent anarchism.” Science fiction author Matthew Kressel was impressed by the book’s thoughtful exploration of politics and economics.

“After reading The Dispossessed, I was just blown away,” Kressel says in Episode 460 of the Geek’s Guide to the Galaxy podcast. “It was just such an intellectual book. It’s so philosophical, and it was so different from a lot of the science fiction I had read before that. It made me want to read more of Le Guin’s work.”

Science fiction author Anthony Ha counts The Dispossessed as one of his all-time favorite books. “I would be hard pressed to think of another novel that made as strong an impression on me,” he says. “I was insufferable about it. I put quotes in my email signatures, and I identified as an anarchist for several years after that.”…

(6) DRAWN THAT WAY. HBO Max dropped a trailer for Space Jam:  A New Legacy.

(7) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

April 4, 1968 –On this day in 1968, 2001: A Space Odyssey enjoyed its premiere in Los Angeles, California. It was one of a number of premieres for the film that week in New York City, Washington D.C., Sydney, Tokyo and Johannesburg. It would win the Hugo for Best Dramatic Presentation at St. Louiscon. Other nominated works were Yellow SubmarineCharlyRosemary’s Baby and the “Fallout” episode of the Prisoner series. 

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]

  • Born April 4, 1902 – Stanley Weinbaum.  Had he only written “A Martian Odyssey”, it would have been enough for us: possibly first (1934) to present a character who thinks like a human being, or better than a human being, but is not a human being – as John Campbell later called for.  Three novels, two dozen shorter stories, a dozen poems for us; did not live three dozen years.  Cordwainer Smith Rediscovery Award.  (Died 1935) [JH]
  • Born April 4, 1943 – Ted Atwood, F.N., age 78.  Co-chaired Boskone 35 (with wife Bonnie).  Fan Guest of Honor (with BA), Albacon 2001.  Treasurer, Noreascon 4 the 62nd Worldcon.  Art Show, Albacon 2014.5 (w/BA) and elsewhere.  Audio recording of SF events.  Fellow of NESFA (New England SF Ass’n; service award).  [JH]
  • Born April 4, 1943 – Paulette Jiles, age 78.  Two novels for us; a dozen other books, poems, travel among the Cree and Ojibwe, memoir.  Governor General’s Award for English Poetry (PJ then living in Canada), Lowther and Lampert Awards, Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize.  Sings alto.  “I came upon the master, Jack Vance.  Next to Bradbury, of course.”  [JH]
  • Born April 4, 1945 – Katherine Neville, age 76.  Three novels, one shorter story for us.  Various best-seller lists e.g. NY TimesUSA TodayPublishers WeeklyWall Street Journal.  Nautilus Silver Award.  Turkish Cultural Ministry Medallion of Merit.  Has been a fashion model, photographer, portraitist, Bank of America vice-president.  Was given a porcelain rat angel when pet rat Rosie died, looks like the work of California artist Yanna but I haven’t asked.  [JH]
  • Born April 4, 1948 Dan Simmons, 73. He’s the author of the Hyperion Cantos and the Ilium/Olympos cycles. I’m reasonably sure that I’ve read some of the Hyperion Cantos of The Fall of Hyperion won a Hugo Award but I’ll be damned if I remember it clearly now. If you like horror, Song of Kali which won a World Fantasy Award is highly recommended. (CE) 
  • Born April 4, 1952 Cherie Lunghi, 69. Her fame arises from her role as Guinevere in Excalibur. (I saw Excalibur in a 1920s-built theater on a warm summer night with hardly anyone there.) She was also Baroness Frankenstien (Victor’s Mother) in Kenneth Branagh’s Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. She was also in The Lady’s Not for Burning as Jennet Jourdemayne. (CE) 
  • Born April 4, 1952 – Tim White.  Two hundred fifty covers, ninety interiors for us; record covers, magazine illustrations, jewelry.  Five artbooks e.g. TW.  Here is The Other Side of the Sky.  Here is Between Planets.  Here is Wizard.  Here is Nine Princes in Amber.  Here is the Sep 94 Interzone.  (Died 2020)
  • Born April 4, 1959 Phil Morris, 62. 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. (CE) 
  • Born April 4, 1959 – Ahmed Khan, age 62.  Two collections; here is Another Mosque Among the Stars (cover by L. Kiruganti).  Thirty short stories.  Interviewed Tanya Huff in Strange Horizons.  Four anthologies.  Links to some of his work, fiction and non, in and out of our field, here.  [JH]
  • Born April 4, 1965 Robert Downey Jr.,  56, Iron Man in the Marvel Universe film franchise. Also a rather brilliant Holmes in Sherlock Holmes and Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows. Also voicing James Barris in an animated adaption of Philip K. Dick’s A Scanner Darkly. Yes, he’s plays the title role in Dolittle which despite having scathing critical reviews has a rather superb seventy-six rating among audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes. (CE)
  • Born April 4, 1967 Xenia Seeberg, 54. She is perhaps best known for her role as Xev Bellringer in Lexx, a show’s that’s fantastic provided you can see in its uncensored form. I’ve 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. (CE) 
  • Born April 4, 1968 Gemma Files, 53. 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. She won a Sunburst Award for Excellence in Canadian Literature of the Fantastic for Experimental Film. (CE) 

(9) COMICS SECTION.

  • Off the Mark has a holiday-themed joke that’s a perfect match for my copyediting skills.

(10) TALK OF THE TOWN. Fanac.org has added an audio recording of the 1969 GoH speech given by artist Jack Gaughan at Boskone – two years after he won both the Best Pro and Best Fan Artist Hugos.

The talk is entertaining, and it is so very clear that Jack is among his friends in his chosen place. From the YouTube writeup: “…is both entertaining and thoughtful, interspersed with sharply witty comments.

He quotes from Leonardo Da Vinci, and teases his friends, some in the room, including Isaac Asimov, Ed Emsh and Donald Wollheim. He starts with a recounting of the problems faced by female artists like his wife, Phoebe.  He tells anecdotes about his experiences as an illustrator,  teases Lester del Rey, and compares the lives of artists today to the lives of artists 500 years ago.  Jack is frank about his own feelings on science fiction and science fiction illustration. It’s chatty, low key, entertaining and comfortable and a marvelous window into an important figure in the field, lost far too soon…Thanks to the New England Science Fiction Society (NESFA) and Rick Kovalcik for providing the recording. Thanks to Andrew Porter for providing photos and to Dr. Gandalf for digitization.

(11) WHAT GOES UP MUST…WHAT? WIRED tags along to ask questions while “Physicists Learn to Superfreeze Antimatter (Hint: Pew Pew!)”

…Just as you can’t exactly take their temperature, you can’t point a radar gun at antihydrogen atoms, either. Antihydrogen generally flits around at about 100 meters per second, says Fujiwara, and the ultracool atoms move at just about 10 meters per second. “If you’re fast enough, you could almost catch the atom as it passed by,” he says. (It would annihilate one of your atoms, but you’re tough.)

At this point, it’s reasonable to ask whether this is all worth the trouble. Who needs very slow, very cold antimatter? The answer is, physicists. “Unless something is really screwy, this technique is going to be important, and maybe crucial,” says Clifford Surko, a physicist at UC San Diego who isn’t on the Alpha team. “The way I look at it as an experimentalist is, now you’ve got a whole ’nother bag of tricks, another handle on the antihydrogen atom. That’s really important. It opens up new possibilities.”

Those possibilities involve figuring out whether antimatter really does echo the physics of matter. Take gravity: The equivalence principle in the theory of general relativity says that gravitational interaction should be independent of whether your matter is anti or not. But nobody knows for sure. “We want to know what happens if you have some antihydrogen and you drop it,” Hangst says.

Wouldn’t you? Sure. But this experiment is hard to do, because gravity is actually a wuss. Hot, gassy things don’t fall so much as just bounce around. Antimatter would hit the walls of the machine and annihilate. “Gravity is so bloody weak you may not see anything at all,” Hangst says.

Slow that antihydrogen down to near absolute zero, though, and it starts to act more like a liquid than a gas. Down it blorps, instead of spraying all over. “The first thing you want to know is, does antihydrogen go down? Because there’s a lunatic fringe out there that thinks it goes up—theorists who say there is repulsive gravity between matter and antimatter,” Hangst says. “That would be pretty cool.”…

(12) VIDEO OF THE DAY. A young couple discover a strange phenomenon in their backyard that duplicates organic life in Burnt Grass, a short film about cloning.

[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, JJ, John Hertz, Andrew Porter, N., Michael Toman, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Andreaw (not Werdna).]

Pixel Scroll 3/28/21 The Pixel On The Edge Of Scrollever

(1) HOME ON THE CIMMERIAN RANGE. Horror author Stephen Graham Jones shares his love for the Conan stories and how he identifies both with Conan and with his creator Robert E. Howard in “My Life With Conan the Barbarian” in Texas Monthly.

… But Conan the Barbarian.

Imagine you’re a Blackfeet kid growing up in the windswept pastures twenty miles east of Midland, with no other Blackfeet around. Like Conan the Wanderer, -the Adventurer, -the Outcast, I was out in the trackless wastelands, far from civilization. The way I saw it, we’d come up the same. Conan’s homeland of Cimmeria was high and lonely? From our back porch in West Texas, I couldn’t see a single light. Cimmeria was packed with formative dangers? Every third step I took, I found myself entangled in barbed wire or jumping back from a rattlesnake. And when I mapped Cimmeria—the land Conan spent decades away from—onto my world, it could have been Montana, where the Blackfeet are….

(2) NAMING POLICY. At the FANDOM-run Wookieepedia editors are voting on an “Amendment to naming policy for real-world transgender individuals”.  

For about the last decade or so, the naming policy for real-world people on Wookieepedia has been “Articles for real-world people, such as actors and authors, shall be titled according to their actual credited name in a Star Wars work, whether that be an abbreviation/stage name or pseudonym,” with a handful of exceptions.

In recent years, it’s become apparent that this policy is inadequate for transgender individuals and an additional exception needs to be made so that their articles are titled according to their chosen name, whether or not they return to Star Wars after coming out, as a matter of respect. As our society evolves, so too must Wookieepedia.

To that end, I propose the following addition to the naming policy, to be added alongside the three existing exceptions:

“If a real-world person is transgender and has changed their name since working on Star Wars, their article may be titled by their chosen name and the credited name turned into a redirect.”

For anyone unfamiliar with transgender issues, and how it relates to naming articles, these pages on Wikipedia and GLAAD should help (ctrl+f “name”) Toqgers (talk) 04:35, 16 March 2021 (UTC)

Here’s some of the discussion from supporters.

(3) KRISTINE KATHRYN RUSCH KICKSTARTER ENDING. [Item by rcade.] Kristine Kathryn Rusch and Dean Wesley Smith have a current KickStarter project ending on Wednesday to fund Rusch’s first new work in 20 years in the world of The Fey: “The Return of the Fey by Dean Wesley Smith” — Kickstarter.

The project, which has rocketed past its funding goal by raising over $25,000 from 400 backers, is for a new novella of undetermined title. A $30 pledge receives all seven The Fey novels as ebooks along with the new work. A $250 pledge takes home the book Lessons from Writing of The Fey and a class taught by Rusch about  “the writing and publishing of a major epic fantasy series, and all the good stuff and mistakes along the way.”

The Fey series comprises seven books — a five- and two-book series that each tell complete stories. On the Kickstarter funding page, Smith dishes on the frustrating publication history of The Fey:

Bantam put Kris under contract for seven books in total. The first five were called The Fey Series, the next two were the Black King and Black Queen Series. 

They were two separate stories set in the world of The Fey. And the readership continued to grow until the year 1999, with the 5th book just published and the 6th book ready to come out. All four of the first books were in multiple printings. But Bantam Publishing, for reasons no one ever said, let the 4th book go out of print. And kept it out of print, even with an intense demand for it. Not kidding. 

By the time the 7th book came out in late 2000, the 4th book in its original mass market paperback edition was selling for hundreds and hundreds of dollars in collector’s markets because fans just wanted to read it.

Rusch regained the rights from Bantam and the novels are published today by WMG Publishing. They even publish book 4!

(4) THE ASKING PRICE. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] Isaac Asimov says in his autobiography In Joy Still Felt that in 1961 he was invited by the MIT Science Fiction Society to give a talk.  They asked what his fee was and he decided to charge them a hundred dollars.  After the talk, they took him to dinner at Joseph’s, “one of Boston’s posh eating places…it was very expensive and I had never eaten there.”

My conscience smote me.  They were being very nice to me after I soaked them for a hundred dollars.

I said, deeply troubled, ‘Where the heck do you kids get the money to pay speakers?’ because I gather my talk was one of four for the year.

I expected them to say they gave up lunches or sold pencils on the corner,  and I was quite prepared to force the hundred dollars back on them.

But one of them said, cheerfully, ‘We show first-run movies and collect lots of proceeds.’

‘Lots of proceeds?’

‘Sure.  Up to five or six thousand dollars for the year.’

I mentally divided that by four and said, ‘That means you must pay some of the speakers more than a hundred dollars.’

‘Of course,’ said the spokesman, apparently unaware of the enormity of what he was saying.  ‘Wernher von Braun, who was the speaker before you, got fourteen hundred dollars.

I stared at him for quite a while, and then he said, ‘Was he fourteen times as good as I was?’

‘No.  You were much better.’

Asimov says he subsequently went to several MITSFS picnics, which concluded with a trip to the school’s observatory, which is at the top of a big hill.  Asimov dutifully climbed the hill every year, even though he didn’t like to exercise.

(5) THE WORLDCON YOU DESERVE. Seanan McGuire shared this dream with Twitter. The commenters took the idea and ran with it. Thread starts here.

(6) REMEMBERING. “A poem by Jane Yolen in remembrance of her friend Norton Juster (1929-2021)”has been posted by The Horn Book: “Norton Passes Go”.

Jane Yolen receives the 2009 Norton Juster Award for Devotion to Literacy, presented by its namesake. Photo: Seth Kaye Photography.

(7) BOOK WITHDRAWN, AUTHOR APOLOGIZES. Publisher Scholastic has made the decision to pull Dav Pilkey’s 2010 graphic novel The Adventures of Ook and Gluk: Kung-Fu Cavemen from the Future due to its perpetuation of “passive racism.” “From Scholastic Regarding The Adventures of Ook and Gluk”.

On Monday, March 22, 2021, with the full support of Dav Pilkey, Scholastic halted distribution of the 2010 book The Adventures of Ook and Gluk. Together, we recognize that this book perpetuates passive racism. We are deeply sorry for this serious mistake. Scholastic has removed the book from our websites, stopped fulfillment of any orders (domestically or abroad), contacted our retail partners to explain why this book is no longer available, and sought a return of all inventory. We will take steps to inform schools and libraries who may still have this title in circulation of our decision to withdraw it from publication.  

Throughout our 100 year history, we have learned that trust must be won every day by total vigilance. It is our duty and privilege to publish books with powerful and positive representations of our diverse society, and we will continue to strengthen our review processes as we seek to support all young readers.

Pilkey, author of the Captain Underpants series, shared an apology that was posted on YouTube.

About ten years ago I created a book about a group of friends who save the world using Kung Fu and the principles found in Chinese philosophy. The Adventures of Ook and Gluk: Kung-Fu Cavemen from the Future was intended to showcase diversity, equality, and non-violent conflict resolution. But this week it was brought to my attention that this book also contains harmful racial stereotypes and passively racist imagery. I wanted to take this opportunity to publicly apologize for this. It was and is wrong and harmful to my Asian readers, friends, and family, and to all Asian people….

(8) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

  • March 28, 2003 — On this day in 2003, Tremors: The Series premiered on Syfy. It followed three Tremors films and starred Michael Gross, Gladise Jimenez, Marcia Strassman and Victor Brown. Created by Brent Maddock and S.S. Wilson who brought us the entire Tremors franchise, it lasted but thirteen episodes. It was followed by Tremors 4: The Legend Begins whichstars Michael Gross as Hiram Gummer, the great-grandfather of the character Burt Gummer. 

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]

  • Born March 28, 1483 – Raphael.  (In Italian, more fully Rafaello Sanzio da Urbino.)  Painter and architect; with Michelangelo and Leonardo da Vinci, one of the masters of the High Renaissance.  Here is his Portrait of a Young Woman with a Unicorn on the cover of the Mar 05 Asimov’s.  Here is The Triumph of Galatea.  Part of The School at Athens is on the cover of The Philosopher Kings.  (Died 1520) [JH]
  • Born March 28, 1918 – Robert Stanley.  A dozen covers for us.  Here is Universe.  Here is our next-door neighbor Rocket to the Morgue.  Here is When Worlds Collide.  Also ArgosyDime DetectiveThrilling Western, publishers e.g. Bantam, Dell, Popular Library, Pyramid.  (Died 1996) [JH]
  • Born March 28, 1922 A. Bertram Chandler. Did you ever hear of popcorn literature? Well the Australian-tinged space opera that was the universe of John Grimes was such. A very good starter place is the Baen Books omnibus of To The Galactic Rim which contains three novels and seven stories. Oh, and I’ve revisited both to see if the Suck Fairy had dropped by. She hadn’t. (Died 1984.) (CE) 
  • Born March 28, 1930 – Barbara Ninde Byfield.  Wrote and illustrated five novels for us; also The Glass Harmonica – nonfiction; there was one at the Millennium Philcon, 59th Worldcon.  (Died 1988) [JH]
  • Born March 28, 1932 Ron Soble. He played Wyatt Earp in the Trek episode, “ Spectre of The Gun”.  During his career, he showed up on a hunger of genre series that included Mission: ImpossibleThe Six Million Dollar ManShazamPlanet of The ApesFantasy IslandSalvage 1 and Knight Rider. His last genre role, weirdly enough, was playing Pablo Paccasio in Pterodactyl Woman from Beverly Hills. (Died 2002.) (CE)
  • Born March 28, 1944 Ellen R. Weil. Wife of  Gary K. Wolfe. She wrote a number of works with him including the non-fiction study, Harlan Ellison: The Edge of Forever. They wrote a fascinating essay, “The Annihilation of Time: Science Fiction; Consumed by Shadows: Ellison and Hollywood,” which can be found in Harlan Ellison: Critical Insights. (CE)
  • Born March 28, 1946 Julia Jarman, 75. Author of a  children’s book series I like a lot, of which I’ll single out Time-Travelling Cat And The Egyptian GoddessThe Time-Travelling Cat and the Tudor Treasure and The Time-Travelling cat and the Viking Terror as the ones I like the best. There’s more in that series but those are my favorites. (CE)
  • Born March 28, 1955 Reba McEntire, 66. Her first film role was playing Heather Gummer in Tremors. Since then, she’s done voice work as Betsy the Cow in Charlotte’s Web and as Etta in The Land Before Time XIV: Journey of the Brave. She also voiced Artemis on the Disney Hercules series. (CE)
  • Born March 28, 1958 – Davey Snyder, F.N., age 63.  Chaired Boskone 34, co-chaired World Fantasy Con 25.  Bibliography for The Neil Gaiman Reader (the 2007 one, “Essays and Explorations”).  Fellow of NESFA (New England SF Ass’n; service award).  [JH]
  • Born March 28, 1960 Chris Barrie, 61. He’s as Lara Croft’s butler Hillary in the most excellent Tomb Raider franchise films. He also shows up on Red Dwarf for twelve series as Arnold Rimmer, a series I’ve never quite grokked. He’s also one of the principal voice actors on Splitting Image which is not quite genre adjacent but oh so fun. (CE) 
  • Born March 28, 1964 – Gloria Oliver, age 57.  Half a dozen novels, as many shorter stories.  Sparked by the Gatchaman apa Bird Scramble, attending ConDFW, and her husband.  [JH]
  • Born March 28, 1983 – Josephine Angelini, age 38.  Half a dozen novels.  Has read The Once and Future KingAs I Lay DyingSiddhartha, two by Jane Austen, Fagles tr. The Iliad and The OdysseyThe Count of Monte CristoFrankenstein.  “Dreams are messy and they don’t make sense, but what works for me is to take the feeling that I have from a dream and try to re-create it on the page.  If I can get one or two images from a dream to work in a story I feel satisfied.”  [JH]

(10) COMICS SECTION.

  • Bizarro finds some stars shouldn’t get wet.
  • Off the Mark reveals a delivery mistake with major fairy tale implications.
  • Non Sequitur transports a babysitter into an unexpected pulp adventure

(11) SERIAL SUPERHERO. Comic book superhero movies made their debut in theaters 80 years ago today. At least this one did: “Adventures of Captain Marvel”.

(12) NEXT SUPERHERO. The Black Adam movie is slated for a July 29, 2022 release.

(13) ALWAYS WINTER, BUT SOMETIMES CHRISTMAS. In the Washington Post, Shannon Liao says that Animal Crossing:  New Horizons was released on March 20, 2020.  She interviews people who have played Animal Crossing for over 1,000 years in a year and how the game provided a lot of comfort during the worst part of the pandemic. “Meet the Animal Crossing users who spent up to 2000 hours in game”.

Snow topped trees, ice sculptures and the sound of rushing waterfalls. Susana Liang built out her “Animal Crossing” island complete with a Christmas dinner, various shops, a wedding reception, an igloo campsite, a picnic, a mini version of the Greek island Santorini, elaborate walkways and a cozy home with plenty of Christmas trees.“Winter makes everything covered in snow and it’s all white, so it makes it feel a bit more ethereal and dreamy. It’s one of my favorite seasons in the game,” said Liang, who works in health science in New York and has spent over 2,300 hours playing Nintendo’s “Animal Crossing: New Horizons” since a few weeks after the game’s release. It’s always winter on her island. Every time winter is about to end, she time travels back to the beginning of January to stay in the season…

(14) GETTING WARMER. “A Warmer Superconductor Found” reports New Energy and Fuel.

The team at the Max-Planck Institute for Chemistry (Mainz, Germany), the University of Chicago (USA), and the Soreq Nuclear Research Center (Yavne, Israel) used a variety of analytical methods to refine the phase diagrams for hydrogen sulfide in the H(3)S form and D(3)S, its deuterium analogue, in relation to pressure and temperature, and to shed additional light on their superconducting properties.

The scientists have now introduced new findings that show the materials become superconducting at the relatively high temperatures of -77 and -107 °C, respectively.

(15) ANDY! ANDY! Yesterday’s photo of Captain Kirk and Edith Keeler on the set in front of an identifiable Mayberry landmark prompted a Filer to point out MeTV’s Star Trek / Andy Griffith Show mash-up commercial.

Kirk and Spock travel to Mayberry! And Barney looks to nip it in the bud. Explore strange new worlds on MeTV!

(16) VIDEO OF THE DAY. Mark Evanier hosts a virtual panel on Jack Kirby with Jonathan Ross and Neil Gaiman for WonderCon@Home 2021: “Jack Kirby Panel”.

Mark Evanier (Kirby: King of Comics) talks about the man some call “The King of the Comics” with author Neil Gaiman (American Gods) and TV host and mega-Kirby fan Jonathan Ross. They will attempt to discuss what was special about the work of Jack Kirby and why, long after we lost him, he seems to be more popular than ever.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Mike Kennedy, JJ, John Hertz, N., Cora Buhlert, Bill, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, Rich Horton, Andrew (Not Werdna), Martin Morse Wooster, Brian Z., and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Brian Z.]

Pixel Scroll 3/21/21 Who Is Commenter #1? You Are, Pixel Fifth

(1) NO MIDWESTCON THIS YEAR. [Item by Joel Zakem.] A message from Bill Cavin on behalf of the Cincinnati Fantasy Group (CFG):

Most fans who attend Midwestcon probably won’t be surprised to hear we will not be having the con this year, but I occasionally hear of someone asking the question.  So let this be the official announcement that Midwestcon is on hold until June, 2022.

Until 2020, Midwestcon had occurred every year since 1950.

(2) ONE IF BY LAND, TWO IF BY TRANSPORTER BEAM. “Live Long And Prosper: Boston Dedicates Day For Leonard Nimoy” says the Boston, MA Patch.

Boston is paying a special tribute to actor Leonard Nimoy, who would have turned 90 years old later this month. Mayor Marty Walsh is declaring his birthday, March 26, to be “Leonard Nimoy Day” in the city.

Nimoy, who died in 2015, was born in Boston’s West End neighborhood. He’ll always be remembered for portraying the logical, pointy-eared Spock in “Star Trek,” and embracing the Vulcan character’s “live long and prosper” motto….

(3) MIRROR, MIRROR. E.T. Perry and Will Solomon examine how Star Trek: The Original Series’ view of expansion and “the frontier” clash with its progressive, egalitarian ideals in “New Life and New Civilizations: Socialism, Progress, & The Final Frontier” at Blood Knife.

In “Day of the Dove,” a 1968 episode of Star Trek: The Original Series, the crew of the USS Enterprise fights a group of Klingons for control of their Federation starship. The Klingons, led by Kang (Michael Ansara, in seriously questionable make-up), are locked in battle with Captain Kirk and his men. Both sides have become victims of a mysterious alien entity aboard the ship that induces and draws life from emotions of hate, violence, and bigotry. In an attempt to convince Kang’s wife Mara to persuade her husband to accept an armistice, Captain Kirk argues that she accept the Federation’s doctrine of peaceful co-existence, a philosophy that Mara claims is incompatible with the Klingons’ warlike, imperialist way of life. 

“We must push outward to survive,” says Mara.

“There’s another way to survive,” replies Kirk, “mutual trust and help.”

Unspoken in Kirk’s characteristic response is that the Federation actually endures in pretty much the same way as the Klingon Empire—that is, by expansion. They just do it more humanely. But we should not mistake Kirk’s emphasis on decency with a radically different conception of civilization. Both systems are equally dependent on imperialism, on colonialism, on limitless resource extraction to survive. Both, in other words, find themselves unavoidably dependent upon a single concept: progress. 

* * * * *

This tension between the espoused ideals of “mutual trust and help” and the imperialist undercurrent of the Federation’s on-screen actions is an essential dimension of Star Trek, and one that is evident in many of the show’s recurring premises: visiting planets devoted to resource extraction, specifically mining (“The Devil in the Dark”); attempting to establish colonies, promote development, or facilitate “diplomatic relations” (“The Trouble with Tribbles,” “Journey to Babel”); and bartering with aliens for dilithium crystals or other raw materials (“Friday’s Child”). Often these plots occur in the context of competition with the Klingons (“Errand of Mercy,” “A Private Little War”) or Romulans (“Balance of Terror”). And even more often, they result in conflict and battle.

(4) CUT ABOVE THE REST. Variety’s Owen Glieberman makes a compelling case for why the Snyder Cut matters, and why any sequel would be a barometer of Hollywood’s health. “Will Zack Snyder Be Invited to Make a ‘Justice League’ Sequel?”

“Zack Snyder’s Justice League” has that thing. What is it? You could call it vision, and you wouldn’t be wrong. But it’s also something I would call voice. That’s not a quality we associate with comic-book movies, but the rare great ones have it. And in “Justice League,” Zack Snyder’s voice comes through in ways at once large and small. It’s there in the doomy Wagnerian grandeur, and in the puckish way the movie hones on a seed coming off a hot-dog bun in the bullet-time sequence that introduces the Flash’s superpowers. It’s there in the way the backstories don’t just set up the characters but intertwine their fates, and in the way that Snyder, leaving Joss Whedon’s genial jokiness on the cutting-room floor, replaces it with a sincerity so present it doesn’t have to speak its name. It’s there in the majestic symphonic rigor of the battle scenes, and in how the villains, the glittering-with-malice Steppenwolf and the dripping-with-molten-corruption Darkseid, comprise a threat at once relentless and remorseless.

… Now that that’s happened, to leave Snyder by the wayside seems not merely unjust; it strikes me as foolhardy….

(5) DOES YOUR FANNISH ABODE NEED A CENTERPIECE? Then loosen your money belt: “H.R. Giger’s ‘Alien’ Prototype Is Up for Auction”.

What could be creepier than the drooling, carnivorous monster from 1979’s Alien? How about a translucent version?

The original design from the mind of H.R. Giger for the classic science fiction horror franchise is part of a Hollywood memorabilia sale being offered by Julien’s Auctions on Wednesday, April 28, and Thursday, April 29.

The Xenomorph costume, nicknamed “Big Chap” by those involved with the production, is a milky white and close to the final design. Camera tests were performed before director Ridley Scott opted for a non-translucent version. Long believed lost, it’s expected to fetch between $40,000 and $60,000. Alien collectors, however, are sure to drive up that conservative estimate.

(6) SIGN LANGUAGE. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] This is another excerpt from Isaac Asimov’s In Joy Still Felt.

In one way, autographing became more and more of a problem for me, since it supplied me with more and more work; partly because the number of my books was increasing steadily, and partly because those books were individually popular.  In another sense, they were not a problem, because I loved autographing.  Some writers cut down on their labors by refusing to sign anything except hard-cover books, but I have never refused anything, and will sign torn scraps of paper if that is what is asked of me.

There is the occasional joker who hands me a blank check.  I just sign it along with everything else, but when the joker gets it back he finds I have signed it, ‘Harlan Ellison.’

(7) KRUGMAN REFERENCES ASIMOV. [Item by Linda Deneroff.] The March 16 edition of the New York Times had an opinion column from Paul Krugman entitled “The Pandemic and the Future City”. The first paragraph discusses Isaac Asimov’s The Naked Sun and refers back to it again later in the article.

The first paragraph reads: “In 1957 Isaac Asimov published “The Naked Sun,” a science-fiction novel about a society in which people live on isolated estates, their needs provided by robots and they interact only by video. The plot hinges on the way this lack of face-to-face contact stunts and warps their personalities.”

It’s behind a paywall.

(8) MEMORY LANE.

1991 – Thirty years ago at Chicon V, The Vor Game by Lois McMaster Bujold which had been published by Baen Books the previous year wins the Hugo for Best Novel. It’s the sixth novel of the Vorkosigan Saga. The other finalists that year were Earth by David Brin, The Fall of Hyperion by Dan Simmons, The Quiet Pools by Michael P. Kube-McDowell and Queen of Angels by Greg Bear. It would be nominated for a number of other Awards but this would be the only one it would win. 

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]

  • Born March 21, 1876 – Oshikawa Shunrô.  (Personal name last, Japanese style.)  Pioneer of Japanese SF.  So far I’ve found only his Verne-like Undersea Warship translated into English, first in a very popular series of six.  Also loved baseball.  Wrote detective fiction, some carrying SF.  Co-edited World of Adventure magazine; later founded World of Heroism.  A teacher of mine said “A vice is a virtue gone astray”: too true of heroism, nationalism, patriotism in Japan then, coloring Oshikawa’s work and leading to catastrophe.  (Died 1914) [JH]
  • Born March 21, 1915 Ian Stuart Black. British screenplay writer best known for work on two First Doctor stories, “The Savages” and “The War Machines” (with Kit Pedler and Pat Dunlop) and a Third Doctor story, “The Macra Terror”. He wrote thirteen episodes of The Invisible Man as well as episodes of One Step BeyondThe SaintStar Maidens and Danger Man. (Died 1997.) (CE)
  • Born March 21, 1931 Al Williamson. Cartoonist who was best known for his work for EC Comics in the ’50s, including titles like Weird Science and Weird Fantasy, and for his work on Flash Gordon in the Sixties. He won eight Harvey Awards, and an Eisner Hall of Fame Award. (Died 2010.) (CE)
  • Born March 21, 1946 Timothy Dalton, 75. He is best known for portraying James Bond in The Living Daylights and Licence to Kill but is currently in The Doom Patrol as Niles Caulder, The Chief. As I’ve said before, go watch it now!  He also was Damian Drake in Looney Tunes: Back in Action, Sir Malcolm on the Penny Dreadful series and Lord President of the Time Lords (Rassilon) during the Time of Tenth and Eleventh Doctors. He went to theatre to play Lord Asriel in the stage version of His Dark Materials. (CE)
  • Born March 21, 1946 Terry Dowling, 75. I was trying to remember exactly what it was by him that I read and it turned out to be Amberjack: Tales of Fear and Wonder, an offering from Subterranean Press a decade ago. Oh, it was tasty! If it’s at all representative of his other short stories, he’s a master at them. And I see he’s got just one novel, Clowns at Midnight which I’ve not read. He’s not at all deeply stocked at the usual digital suspects but they do have that plus several story collections. (CE) 
  • Born March 21, 1947 – Don Markstein.  Active New Orleans fan whose love of comics ran with a more general SF interest to which he gave full energy.  Chaired DeepSouthCon 11, won the Rebel Award, then two Southpaws (Best Apa Writer and Best Apa Administrator); he was in, among others, SFPA and Myriad.  Just for one sample, he produced, with Guy Lillian, Rally Round the Flag, Boys! (alluding to a satirical book – set in Connecticut! – and its movie) for the Rafael Aloysius Lafferty League of Yeomen.  DM’s Toonopedia, though not seeming updated recently, remains priceless.  (Died 2012) [JH]
  • Born March 21, 1952 – Sue-Rae Rosenfeld, age 69.  I’m baffled by having been acquainted with her for years to the point where I find no notes.  It won’t help you to know she led a Bible study session on Genesis 23:1 – 25:18 recounting the life of Sarah.  She was on the NY in ’86 Worldcon bidding committee with people you do know or know of e.g. Genny Dazzo, Moshe Feder, Elliot Shorter, Ben Yalow; serving egg creams, which have neither egg nor cream, they lost to Atlanta.  “Stu,” she told Stu Shiffman, as he dutifully recounted, “you are a great pain to your friends” – while we were electing him TAFF (Trans-Atlantic Fan Fund) delegate.  [JH]
  • Born March 21, 1956 Teresa Nielsen Hayden, 65. She is a consulting editor for Tor Books and is well known for her and husband, Patrick Nielsen Hayden, Making Light superb weblog, and back in the Eighties, they published the Izzard fanzine. And she has three fascinating framing pieces in The Essential Bordertown, edited by Delhia Sherman and Terri Windling. (CE)
  • Born March 21, 1964 – Lisa Desimini, age 56.  Fifty covers.  Here’s one for her own chapbook.  Here’s Shakespeare’s Landlord– no, not that Shakespeare.  Here is Death’s Excellent Vacation.  Here is This Is Midnight.  [JH]
  • Born March 21, 1970 Chris Chibnall, 51. Current Showrunner for Doctor Who and the head writer for the first two (and I think) best series of Torchwood. He first showed up in the Whoverse when he penned the Tenth Doctor story, “42”.  He also wrote several episodes of Life on Mars. He’s been nominated for a Hugo twice for work on Doctor Who. (CE)
  • Born March 21, 1981 – Lauren Kate, age 40.  Nine novels (Fallen was made into a movie, S. Hicks dir. 2016), eight shorter stories for us; a novel set in 1700s Venice became a top NY Times Best-Seller.  “My ‘blocks’ are generally related to not understanding how a character of mine feels, so … I will write … from the point of view of another character who … can often see things in my protagonist that I cannot.”  [JH]
  • Born March 21, 1982 – Andreas Suchanek, age 39.  Three novels (The Awakening, in English, appeared in January; Queen of Shadows earlier this month), eight shorter stories, starting with Perry Rhodan who or which is some kind of miracle.  Website in English or German; perhaps AS will forgive me for thinking “Multidimensional Characters – Nothing is as it seams” Typo of the Day (it’s just fine in the German, Nichts ist wie es scheint) – my fantastic imagination wishes he’d meant it.  [JH]

(10) ON BOARD. G.T. Reeder looks at how tabletop RPGs like Pathfinder and D&D represent race and disability, where it succeeds, where it fails, and how it could be a tool for better understanding these ideas in the real world: “Ability Score: Tabletop RPGs & the Mechanics of Privilege” at Blood Knife.

Tabletop gaming has experienced a recent surge in popularity to heights never before seen, bringing hordes of new players into close contact with what are frequently decades-old mechanics for the first time. This Great Leap Forward in gaming has brought new and necessary scrutiny on what are in many cases antiquated notions of race, gender, and valor that had been baked into the tabletop RPG landscape over the years.

The result of this has been twofold. First, it’s led to a great “spiritual purge” of the genre, as publishers grapple (or fail to grapple) with issues that had long been overlooked or tolerated within the once-insular tabletop community. This sea change has also opened doors onto new issues and new perspectives, such as transgender characters, race mixing, and questions of accessibility. 

Questions of identity and experience are unavoidable in tabletop roleplaying. After all, a character in an RPG functions essentially as a number of modifiers, either positive or negative, to the dice rolls that propel gameplay. A player can even opt to hobble their character — losing an eye, having less ability in a hand — in exchange for yet more points to spend on positive parts of gameplay. The result is that the in-game privilege of the characters is often tied to the possibilities of the adventure on which they are embarking: games are considered easier (and therefore potentially more fantastical and fun for players) when players are given more points to use while creating their characters, or harder (and therefore more “realistic”) when there are fewer. But in truth, the story of a character with less privilege in their imagined world need not be less fun or less fantastical—indeed, it may be just the opposite.

(11) HUMMINGBIRD SALAMANDER. Powell’s virtual events include Jeff VanderMeer in Conversation With Karen Russell on April 13 at 5 p.m. Pacific. Register for the webinar here.

Software manager Jane Smith receives an envelope containing a list of animals along with a key to a storage unit that holds a taxidermied hummingbird and salamander. The list is signed “Love, Silvina.” Jane does not know a Silvina, and she wants nothing to do with the taxidermied animals. The hummingbird and the salamander are, it turns out, two of the most endangered species in the world. Silvina Vilcapampa, the woman who left the note, is a reputed ecoterrorist and the daughter of a recently deceased Argentine industrialist. By removing the hummingbird and the salamander from the storage unit, Jane has set in motion a series of events over which she has no control. Instantly, Jane and her family are in danger, and she finds herself alone and on the run from both Silvina’s family and her ecoterrorist accomplices — along with the wildlife traffickers responsible for the strange taxidermy. She seems fated to follow in Silvina’s footsteps as she desperately seeks answers about why Silvina contacted her, why she is now at the center of this global conspiracy, and what exactly Silvina was planning. Time is running out — for her and possibly for the world. Hummingbird Salamander (MCD) is Annihilation author Jeff VanderMeer at his brilliant, cinematic best, wrapping profound questions about climate change, identity, and the world we live in into a tightly plotted thriller full of unexpected twists and elaborate conspiracy. VanderMeer will be joined in conversation by Karen Russell, author of Orange World and Swamplandia!.

(12)  VIDEO OF THE DAY. Mind Matter’s intro“Sci-fi Saturday: Can We Live In More Than the Present Moment?” warns “Scenes of gruesome suffering so caution re kids.”

The creator of a time machine becomes trapped inside his own creation where he must figure out the timing of his mistakes. PAST, PRESENT, FUTURE, CONTAINED.

[Thanks to Joel Zakem, JJ, Kurt Schiller, Mike Kennedy, Olav Rokne, Linda Deneroff, Michael Toman, Martin Morse Wooster, Cat Eldridge, John King Tarpinian, John Hertz, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Andrew (not Werdna).]

Pixel Scroll 3/20/21 The Pixels Are Already Here — They’re Just Not Very Evenly Scrolled

(1) HOTROOTING. Eddie Kim tells why he looks forward to the production, and shares a Redwall-inspired recipe: “’Redwall’ Netflix TV Series: The Best Food Porn Ever Written” at Mel Magazine. (“GRRM wept,” says N., who sent the link.)

The world of Brian Jacques’ Redwall is rife with every manner of woodland creature, depicting the lives of mice, moles, squirrels, badgers and beyond in mythic detail. As a young boy, I fell in love with everything about the series — the intricately illustrated covers, the sweeping tales of battle and camaraderie and the idiosyncrasies of each animal community. Over the course of 23 (!!) thick novels, Jacques weaves a tapestry of narratives, builds a unique lifestyle, dialect and even diet around various tribes and timelines. 

I, being a Korean kid in Hawaii who loved the water, imagined myself as one of the river otters. They played hard, fought hard and adored the spicy flavor of hotroot in their foods. Just like me, I thought as I read another Redwall novel at the dinner table, eating spoonfuls of kimchi stew. 

It wasn’t just the otters’ favorite shrimp ‘n’ hotroot soup that I craved; I’m fairly certain the Redwall books radicalized me at a young age into a type-A obsessive about delicious food. No matter whether I was reading Eulalia! or Martin the Warrior, I knew the book would feature page after page of lusty food prose, especially if it was a celebratory feast held in Redwall Abbey or another enclave. The words are straight out of a Chez Panisse menu: “Tender freshwater shrimp garnished with cream and rose leaves, devilled barley pearls in acorn puree, apple and carrot chews, marinated cabbage stalks steeped in creamed white turnip with nutmeg … crusty country pasties, and these were being served with melted yellow cheese and rough hazelnut bread.”… 

(2) THE FELAPTON CUT. Camestros Felpaton has seen the elephant: “I watched Zak Snyder’s Justice League cut (slowly and pieces)”. (Don’t ask me where the “c” in Zack went.)

…This is very much a Zak Snyder film and contains all his intentional problems. It is pretentious, has lots of slow-mo, odd music-video like sequences, many people starring off into the distance to express their inner feelings and, of course, a colour palette that’s best described as “metallic”. The dialogue is grim. The characterisation is angst. It’s a clever but disaffected teenage kid’s idea that goofy comic books are essays on Nietzsche….

(3) POWER OF FIVE. This link waited patiently to be rediscovered in a cache of unopened February emails: James Davis Nicoll’s “Five SF Works That Explore the Mysteries of Alpha Centauri” at Tor.com.

… Not only is Alpha Centauri the nearest system to ours, two of its three stars are at least somewhat sunlike. Unsurprisingly, science fiction long ago saw the narrative potential offered by Alpha Centauri. Consider these five examples.

He begins with —

Alpha Centauri or Die! by Leigh Brackett (1963)

The Solar System is firmly under the thumb of an authoritarian government determined to bring peace with a stomping boot. While every reasonable need is filled, daily life is regimented and the space lanes are plied solely by robot ships. Not everyone is happy with this arrangement. The malcontents include among them men like Kirby—men with the skills to crew a one-way flight to Alpha Centauri and its known habitable world.

There are, of course, one or two catches. The State forbids such flights. The same robot ships that travel between the solar planets could follow the refugees to Alpha Centauri. Most importantly, there is a reason the Solar System’s authoritarian have never tried to annex Alpha Centauri. Alpha Centauri’s world may not be home to someone but it is definitely home to something. How it will react to invaders remains to be seen….

(4) GAMING HORROR IS HARD. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In the February 10 Financial Times, gaming columnist Tom Faber looks at the recent release of The Medium (set in “an abandoned Soviet resort”) to discuss whether video games can be as scary as horror movies.

I started out with the venerable Resident Evil series, which since 1996 has oscillated between survival-horror and action-oriented adventures, also spawning a surprisingly robust film franchise starring Milla Jovovich.  2017’s Resident Evil 7:  biohazard, due a sequel this May, seemed promisingly spooky at first.  I arrived at an abandoned house in the Louisiana bayou and felt genuinely unsettled by the ominous creaking noises of the house, the squalid family kitchen and the sculpture out front, a cross between Alexander Calder and The Texas Chain Saw Massacre.  Yes as soon as a monster emerged and I had to start waving an axe around, I mentally flipped into monster-fighting game mode and all the tension abruptly vanished.

Horror needs to be paced slowly to allow tension time to build, to hide its monsters in the shadows, but this is a hard proposition for games, a medium defined by interactivity and action.  A new breed of narrative horror games prioritises atmosphere over combat, including Soma and Amnesia by Swedish team Frictional Games, an eerie demo for a cancelled Silent Hill sequel called P.T., and Taiwanese game Devotion, a disturbing tale which was removed from online stores due to a controversial reference to Chinese premier Xi Jinping.

(5) THOSE MONEY QUOTES. Most of the story is behind a Wall Street Journal paywall, however, the introduction is entertaining: “Is It Time to Kill the Book Blurb?”

Pulitzer-winning novelist Viet Thanh Nguyen would have preferred that his forthcoming book, The Committed, have no praise-laden blurbs at all, he says. “Kill it. Bury it. Dance on its grave. They create so much work, emotional labor and guilt, whether one is writing one or one is asking for one.”

Often fawning and sometimes composed after only a casual skim of the book, pre-publication endorsements have been an entrenched part of the publishing industry since Ralph Waldo Emerson mailed a little-known Walt Whitman a note about his first poetry collection, Leaves of Grass, in 1855. Sensing an opportunity, Whitman’s publisher emblazoned a standout line from Emerson’s letter on the second edition of the book’s spine in gold letters: “I greet you at the beginning of a great career. RW Emerson.”

As blurbs multiplied, however, the public’s distaste for them also grew. In 1936, George Orwell claimed that “the disgusting tripe that is written by the blurb-reviewers” was causing the public to turn away from novels altogether. “Novels are being shot at you at the rate of fifteen a day,” he wrote in an essay, “and every one of them an unforgettable masterpiece which you imperil your soul by missing.”…

(6) NOT COMING TO A TELEVISION NEAR YOU. That Hashtag Show believes “Star Wars Detours Leaked Episode Gives Us A New Hope for Disney+ Release”. Your lack of faith is disturbing.

Anyone ever heard of Star Wars Detours? No? It’s no surprise, since no one has aired it since its production. Ever since Disney bought up Lucasfilm, they’ve locked up this Star Wars animated parody series in their vaults and never looked back. With the leak of a single episode though, there may be a new hope that Star Wars Detours may come to Disney+.

A few days ago on November 29, 2020; someone leaked a single episode of the never-aired Star Wars Detours series onto Reddit. The episode featured the bounty hunters Zuckuss and 4-LOM attempting to rob Dex’s Diner, with decidedly mixed results. An all-star cast of Lando Calrissian, Boba Fett, Jabba the Hutt, and more contributed to the situation with utmost hilarity.

No one know who leaked this episode or why. All we know is that as soon as the leak occurred, Disney was just as quick to take it down with a copyright strike. By then though, it might as well have been closing the barn door after the horse already got out. Even Disney can’t make us unsee what we’ve already saw. Yet.

(7) A TITANIC MISSION. How far will it have to sink? “Seven Hundred Leagues Beneath Titan’s Methane Seas”. (Likely behind a New York Times paywall.)

What could be more exciting than flying a helicopter over the deserts of Mars? How about playing Captain Nemo on Saturn’s large, foggy moon Titan — plumbing the depths of a methane ocean, dodging hydrocarbon icebergs and exploring an ancient, frigid shoreline of organic goo a billion miles from the sun?

Those are the visions that danced through my head recently. The eyes of humanity are on Mars these days. A convoy of robots, after a half-year in space, has been dropping, one after another, into orbit or straight to the ground on the Red Planet, like incoming jets at J.F.K. Among the cargo is a helicopter that armchair astronauts look forward to flying over the Martian sands.

But my own attention was diverted to the farther reaches of the solar system by the news that Kraken Mare, an ocean of methane on Titan, had recently been gauged for depth and probably went at least 1,000 feet down. That as deep as nuclear submarines will admit to going. The news rekindled my dreams of what I think would be the most romantic of space missions: a voyage on, and ultimately even under, the oceans of Titan…

(8) TALE END. SYFY Wire broadcasts a promise: “DuckTales creators say series finale is going to have a lot of pay offs”.

…[The] series finale is aiming to go bigger and grander, as it sees Clan McDuck face off against their most devious foes yet: a secret evil organisation called the Fiendish Organisation for World Larceny, otherwise known as F.O.W.L. Led by Bradford Buzzard, F.O.W.L. is not only the biggest and most widespread threat the family has ever gone up against during all this time adventuring, but its also one whose roots began quite close to the Money Bin home, with Bradford having served as the chairman of Scrooge’s company, with a seat on its board of directors at one point…. 

(9) HOW HE WANTED TO BE REMEMBERED. Only he would have said it in more flattering terms: “’Self-satisfied pork butcher’: Shakespeare grave effigy believed to be definitive likeness” reports The Guardian. An image is included at the article.

…The painted effigy is a half-height depiction of Shakespeare holding a quill, with a sheet of paper on a cushion in front of him. In the 17th century, a Jacobean sculptor called Gerard Johnson was identified as the artist behind it. Orlin believes that the limestone monument was in fact created by Nicholas Johnson, a tomb-maker, rather than his brother Gerard, a garden decorator….

(10) MEMORY LANE.

1976 — Forty five years ago, Joe Haldeman wins a Hugo for The Forever War at MidAmeriCon which was held in Kansas City. It had been published by St. Martin’s Press the previous year. The novel would also win a Nebula Award, a Locus Award for Best Novel and the Australian Ditmar Award. It has never been out of print and has a sequel, Forever Peace

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]

  • Born March 20, 43 B.C.E. – Ovid.   Among three great poets of Roman literature (with Virgil and Horace).  Known to us, and perhaps best known today, for his Metamorphoses, 15 books recounting fantastic legends e.g. Daedalus; many translations, from Golding’s (1567, used by Shakespeare) to Rolfe Humphries’ (rev. 2018): see this comparing Mary Innes’ (1955); Golding’s; Dryden, Garth & Co.’s (1727); and cussing about them.  (Died 17 C.E.) [JH]
  • Born March 20, 1868 – Ernest Bramah.  Orwell said What Might Have Been inspired Nineteen Eighty-Four; WMHB and two others are SF.  The Bravo of London and a score of shorter stories about Max Carrados are detective fiction, some being ours too.  Timeless for five books about the superb fantastic Kai Lung, who said e.g. “In shallow water dragons become the laughing-stock of shrimps”.  Website.  (Died 1942) [JH]
  • Born March 20, 1932 Jack Cady. He won the Nebula Award, the World Fantasy Award, and the Bram Stoker Award, an impressive feat indeed. McDowell’s Ghost gives a fresh spin on the trope of seeing seeing a War Between The States ghost, and The Night We Buried Road Dog is another ghost story set in early Sixties Montana. Underland Press printed all of his superb short fiction into two volumes, Phantoms: Collected Writings, Volume 1 and Fathoms: Collected Writings, Volume 2. (Died 2004.) (CE)
  • Born March 20, 1941 – Steve Sneyd.  SFPA (SF Poetry Ass’n) Grand Master.  Six collections e.g. Bad News from the StarsMistaking the Nature of the Posthuman – he knew very well that omitting a hyphen brought in resonance with posthumous.  Four anthologies e.g. Laying Siege to Tomorrow.  Nonfiction.  Four hundred forty poems, three dozen short stories.  Handwritten fanzine Data Dump, 226 issues 1991-2016.  A note by me here.  Some of where he led me here.  (Died 2018) [JH]
  • Born March 20, 1948 Pamela Sargent, 73, She has three exemplary series of which I think the Seed trilogy, a unique take on intergenerational colony ships, is the one I like the best. The other two series, the Venus trilogy about a woman determined to terraform that world at all costs is quite good also, and there is the Watchstar trilogy which I know nothing about. Nor have I read any of her one-off novels, so please do tell me about them. (CE) 
  • Born March 20, 1948 John de Lancie, 73. Best known for his role as Q in the Trek multiverse, though I was more fond of him as Janos Barton in Legend which stars Richard Dean Anderson (if you’ve not seen it, go now and watch it).  He also was Jack O’Neill enemy Frank Simmons in Stargate SG-1. He has an impressive number of one-offs on genre shows including The Six Million Dollar ManBattlestar Galactica (1978 version), The New Twilight ZoneMacGyverMission: Impossible (Australian edition), Get Smart, Again!Batman: The Animated Series, and I’m going to stop there. (CE)
  • Born March 20, 1950 William Hurt, 71. He made his first film appearance as a troubled scientist in Ken Russell’s Altered States, an amazing film indeed. He’s next up as Doug Tate in Alice, an Woody Allen film. Breaking his run of weird roles, he shows in up in that not really bad Lost in Space film as Professor John Robinson. Dark City and the phenomenal role of Inspector Frank Bumstead follows for him. He was in A.I. Artificial Intelligence as Professor Allen Hobby, performed the character of William Marshal in Ridley Scott’s phenomenal Robin Hood, and in horror film Hellgate was Warren Mills. His final, to date that is, is in Avengers: Infinity War as Thaddeus “Thunderbolt” Ross. Two series roles of notes, the first being in the SyFy Frank Herbert’s Dune as Duke Leto I Atreides. Confession: the digitized blue eyes bugged me so much that I couldn’t watch it. The other role worth noting is him as Hrothgar in Beowulf: Return to the Shieldlands. (CE) 
  • Born March 20, 1955 Nina Kiriki Hoffman, 66. Her first novel, The Thread That Binds the Bones, won the Bram Stoker Award for first novel. In addition, her short story “Trophy Wives” won a Nebula Award for Best Short Story. Other novels include The Silent Strength of Stones (a sequel to Thread), A Fistful of Sky, and A Stir of Bones. All are amazingly excellent. Most of her work has a strong sense of regionalism being set in either California or the Pacific Northwest. (CE) 
  • Born March 20, 1959 – Suzanne Francis, age 62.  Nine novels, including a novelization of Frozen.  From King’s Lynn, Norfolk, England, she went to Dunedin (rhymes with “need inn”), South Island, New Zealand, a UNESCO City of Literature.  [JH]
  • Born March 20, 1965 – Noreen Doyle, age 56.  Archaeologist and in particular Egyptologist.  Anthologies, The First Heroes with Harry Turtledove; Otherworldly Maine.  A dozen short stories.  Here is her cover for Spirits of Wood and Stone.  [JH]
  • Born March 20, 1974 – Andrzej Pilipiuk, age 47.  Forty novels, two dozen available in English; two dozen shorter stories.  Invented Jakub Wedrowycz (there should be a mark like a cedilla under the e, but the software won’t allow it), an alcoholic exorcist; in another series about a thousand-year-old teenage vampire, a 300-year-old alchemist-szlachcianka, and a former agent of CBS, the historical Michael Sendivogius sometimes appears.  [JH]
  • Born March 20, 1979 Freema Agyeman, 42. Best known for playing Martha Jones in Doctor Who, companion to the Tenth Doctor. She reprised that role briefly in Torchwood and for several Big Finish audioworks. She voiced her character on The Infinite Quest, an animated Doctor Who serial. She was on Sense8 as Amanita Caplan. And some seventeen years ago, she was involved in a live production of Terry Pratchett’s Discworld’s Lords and Ladies held in Rollright Stone Circle Chipping Norton, Oxfordshire. It was presented out of doors in the centre of two stone circles. I don’t think it was recorded, more’s the pity. (CE) 

(12) NEVER GET AN ARTIST MAD AT YOU. They might do the monster mash – to you!Mental Floss unveils twelve “Secrets of Comic Book Artists”.

…Telling a sequential story across panels and pages is the purview of the comics artist, who must be accomplished in everything from the human anatomy to perspective to lighting. Whether they’re working with a writer or generating their own material, comic book artists must be versatile.

…To get more insight into how these fantasy illustrators operate, Mental Floss spoke to Coller and others. Here’s what they had to say about deadlines, owning their work, and getting penciled-in revenge….

8. COMIC ARTISTS CAN GET REVENGE IN THEIR ART.

It’s not uncommon for artists to use real people as models for their fictional characters—typically background or supporting figures. “You spend so many hours alone with a page that you get bored sometimes,” Jones says. “So you’ll draw your editors in the background.” Other times, it might be someone they’re annoyed with who meets an untimely end. “Maybe someone who has frustrated you becomes a bystander getting crushed.”

(13) DEAL OF THE DAY. Hey, I can’t afford it, but I’ve never seen an author make this offer before.

(15) LONG-DISTANCE MARRIAGE. [Item by David Doering.] I could have written this as an SF short story in the 70s. My home county, Utah County, will perform civil marriages via the Internet (as a Covid protection). However, it soon got noised about not just nationally, but internationally. Now couples in Israel who did not qualify to wed there could be officially married by a Utah administrator. As this article states, Israel will recognize marriages conducted by other countries, however — “Utah finds itself at the center of a new legal battle over Israel marriage rights” — at KSL.

Two Utah rabbis joined an administrative petition this week filed against the Israeli Interior Minister and the country’s population authority in an effort to lift an order that does not recognize civil marriages for Israeli couples completed through a Utah online system.

Israel carries strict religious rules regarding marriage but recognizes legal marriages done by other states.

…However, once Interior Minister Rabbi Aryeh Deri learned of the practice, he ordered the population authority to stop registering the couples and counting their marriage as legitimate. The petition was filed in an effort to reverse the ban and take it all the way to the country’s Supreme Court….

(15) ON THE REVERSE. In “The Trouble with Charlotte Perkins Gilman” at The Paris Review, Halle Butler says admirers of Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s feminist sf and horror also have to take into account that  Gilman was a supporter of nativism and eugenics.

Herland, Gilman’s sci-fi novel about a land free of men, is an example of this. The inhabitants of Herland have no crime, no hunger, no conflict (also, notably, no sex, no art). They exist together in dreamlike harmony. Held one way, Herland is a gentle, maternal paradise, and the novel itself is a plea for allowing these feminine qualities to take part in the societal structure. Held another, we see how firmly their equality is based in their homogeneity. The novel’s twist is that the inhabitants of Herland are considering whether or not it would benefit them to reintroduce male qualities into their society, by way of sexual reproduction. Herland is a tale of the fully realized potential of eugenics, and for Gilman, it’s a utopia.

All of this is especially troubling when you consider that Gilman was a staunch and self-described nativist, rather than a self-described feminist, as the texts surrounding her rediscovery imply. Nativists believed in protecting the interests of native-born (or “established”) inhabitants above the interests of immigrants, and that mental capacities are innate, rather than teachable. Put bluntly, she was a Victorian white nationalist. When Gilman is described as a social reformer and activist, part of this was advocating for compulsory, militaristic labor camps for Black Americans (“A Suggestion on the Negro Problem,” 1908). Part of this is pleading for racial purity and stricter border policies, as in the sequel to Herland, or for sterilization and even death for the genetically inferior, as in her other serialized Forerunner novel, Moving the Mountain.

These ideas of Gilman’s are hard to reconcile with our current conception of her as a brave advocate against systems of oppression—a political hero with a few, forgivable flaws….

(16) HEATED EXCHANGE. Literary Hub recalls a sophisticated analysis offered to disprove the then-new theory of evolution: “Charles Darwin’s Great Uncertainty: Decoding the Age of Our Planet”.

…[William] Thomson was a man of faith but he had no truck with biblical literalists who believed the earth to be 6,000 years old. His position was that a slowly changing ancient earth stood in direct contradiction with the scientific principles that he had worked so hard to establish—that energy cannot be created or destroyed and that heat tends to dissipate. Using these laws, argued Thomson, it would be possible to estimate the age of the earth and investigate whether it was old enough for evolution to take place.

In April of 1862, he brought out a paper claiming that a thermodynamic analysis of the flow of heat in the earth showed directly that it must be younger than uniformitarians, and by extension Darwin, believed. It starts, “Essential principles of thermodynamics have been overlooked by geologists.” Dissipation was the key to Thomson’s argument. Observations from mine shafts and tunnels showed that the earth’s temperature increases with depth below the surface. Thomson’s friend the Scottish physicist J.D. Forbes, by taking measurements in and around Edinburgh, estimated that the earth’s temperature rose by one degree Fahrenheit for every 50 feet of descent. This persuaded Thomson that the earth was cooling, losing heat to the atmosphere.

Using elegant mathematics, Thomson combined Forbes’s measurements with others relating to the thermal conductivity and the melting point of rock. Even acknowledging uncertainties in the data, he concluded the earth’s age was somewhere between 20 million and 400 million years. This was far too short a time for evolution. Even if the older estimate was true, Thomson argued the earth would have been considerably hotter than it is now for most of its existence. Before around 20 million years ago, the temperature of the entire earth would have been so high that the whole globe was molten rock. Evolution’s requirement that the earth was much as it is now for eons defied thermodynamic sense.

Darwin was shaken. “Thomson’s views on the recent age of the world have been for some time one of my sorest troubles.” “I am greatly troubled at the short duration of the world according to Sir W Thomson.” “Then comes Sir W Thomson like an odious spectre”—these are lines from Darwin’s letters to friends. In turn, his allies felt unqualified to attack the physicist’s arguments and suggested that perhaps evolution worked faster than previously believed, a solution that didn’t satisfy Darwin….

(17) MARTIAN MINERAL WATER. “Mars’ Missing Water Might Be Hiding in Its Minerals”Smithsonian Magazine has the story.

The Martian landscape is an arid expanse of craters and sandstorms, but scientists have spotted several signs that at one point in its life, the Red Planet was awash with blue waters. Scientists have theorized that much of the planet’s water was lost to outer space as the atmosphere dissipated.

But the planet’s vast oceans couldn’t have been lost to space fast enough to account for other milestones in Mars’ existence. The water must have gone somewhere else. A new study presents a solution: the water became incorporated into the chemical makeup of the ground itself. The research uses new computer models and found that if Mars once had a global ocean between 328 and 4,900 feet deep, then a significant amount of that water might now be stored in the planet’s crust.

The study, published on March 16 in the journal Science and presented at the Lunar and Planetary Science Conference, incorporated data collected from Martian meteorites and by NASA’s Curiosity rover….

(18) RADIO ACTIVITY. Bad Astronomy’s Phil Plait says a new search tool finds “No alien signals found from 31 nearby Sun-like stars” at SYFY Wire.

The results? They detected 26,631,913 candidate signals. Yes, 26 million. Their new algorithm (which I’ll get to in a sec) screened out 26,588,893 of them (99.84%) as anthropogenic — that is, coming from humans. Radio transmissions, satellites, radar, and all sorts of human tech can emit radio waves, and they were able to find those pretty well and eliminate them.

Of those left, 90% or so were close enough to known radio frequency interference that they could be weeded out as well.

That left 4,539 candidate signals. They checked all those by hand, amazingly enough, and found…

… they too were all from radio interference. So, out of 26 million sources, not a single one was from aliens. Bummer*.

[Thanks to N., Michael Toman, Jennifer Hawthorne, Cat Eldridge, JJ, John Hertz, David Doering, 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 Rob Thornton.]