Pixel Scroll 1/19/22 File The Pixels, Lest They Squeak Or Scroll

(1) LOTR SERIES TITLE ANNOUNCEMENT. Amazon Studios will be calling it — The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power. The series begins airing on Amazon Prime on September 2, 2022.

Amazon Studios’ forthcoming series brings to screens for the very first time the heroic legends of the fabled Second Age of Middle-earth’s history. This epic drama is set thousands of years before the events of J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, and will take viewers back to an era in which great powers were forged, kingdoms rose to glory and fell to ruin, unlikely heroes were tested, hope hung by the finest of threads, and the greatest villain that ever flowed from Tolkien’s pen threatened to cover all the world in darkness. Beginning in a time of relative peace, the series follows an ensemble cast of characters, both familiar and new, as they confront the long-feared re-emergence of evil to Middle-earth. From the darkest depths of the Misty Mountains, to the majestic forests of the elf-capital of Lindon, to the breathtaking island kingdom of Númenor, to the furthest reaches of the map, these kingdoms and characters will carve out legacies that live on long after they are gone.

(2) IN TRANSLATION. The Lord of the Rings on Prime also tweeted a video displaying versions of the series title in different languages – including two of Tolkien’s.

We’re assured by an expert that the Sindarin translation is accurate: “’Rings of Power’ Tengwar and Sindarin (Prime)”.

Amazon has published today not only the trailer for the series “Rings of Power” (see below) but also a teaser with the title in different languages. There is a Polish version (I will show it in a moment). There is also a Sindarin version! This is the correct Sindarin (you can see that the creators of the series have tried to get good Tolkien linguists). 

(3) SPACE UNICORNS SOUND OFF. You have until February 7 to make your voice heard:

We’ve set up a poll for Uncanny readers to vote for their top three favorite original short stories from 2021. (You can find links to all of the stories here.)

The poll will be open from January 10 to February 7, after which we’ll announce the results. We’re excited for you to share which Uncanny stories made you feel!

snazzy certificate will be given to the creator whose work comes out on top of  the poll!

(4) ALGORITHM RUN AMOK. The Fantasy Book Critic blog was buried under a massive amount of wrong DMCA takedown notices generated by the Link-Busters anti-piracy service, and for the time being has been removed by its host, Blogger, for the breach of TOS (Terms of Service). Link-Busters reportedly has acknowledged their mistake and agreed to notify Blogger. This reputable blog is one of the judges of both the Self-Published Fantasy Blog-Off and the Self-Published Science Fiction Competition.

The fans are trying to accelerate getting their blog restored through social media. Thread starts here.

(5) THEY’RE EAR-IE. It’s Edgar Allan Poe’s birthday, and Christopher Conlon touts these radio dramas above any other adaptations. “Edgar in the Air: Poe and America’s Golden Age of Radio”.

…Lots of these broadcasts still exist today, and they often make for compelling listening. I would go so far as to say that some vintage radio adaptations of Poe’s stories surpass, both in fidelity to the source material and overall dramatic effectiveness, any film or TV version ever done of them….

His list begins with this 1957 episode of Suspense — “The Pit and Pendulum”.  

(6) FOUNDING OF THE SCA. Fanac.org has extracted the story of how the Society for Creative Anachronism was started from an audio interview with the late Ed Meskys.

Ed Meskys tells us the story of the beginnings of the Society for Creative Anachronism (SCA) in this short audio recording (enhanced with photographs). Ed played a pivotal role in introducing fencers Dave Thewlis and Ken de Maiffe to Diana Paxson, and has an insider’s perspective on how the “Great Idea” was born. Ed recounts how the First Tournament came to be, and points us to a contemporary report about it in his fanzine, Niekas. You can read the report on page 7 of #16 at Niekas This short recording is excerpted from a longer 2018 interview by Mark Olson.

(7) THE MATRIX HAS A FUTURE AGAIN. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In the Financial Times behind a paywall, Tom Faber reviews games connected to The Matrix.

The most interesting of the Wachowskis’ experiments in gaming was The Matrix Online (MX)O), a massively multiplayer online role-playing game released at the same time World Of Warcraft was becoming a cultural phenomenon.  Following the end of the trilogy, they wanted fans to ‘inherit the storyline’ and collaboratively write a narrative which would be canon in the Matrix universe. Over four years the game’s story developed in instalments, notably featuring the death of Morpheus. This collaborative cross-media space that the Wachowskis created feels imaginative even today, as we buckle under the weight of the extended cinematic universe of Marvel and Star Wars.

Just ahead of the recent film, a new playable Matrix was released. The Matrix Awakens is not a full game but rather a tech demo intended to show off Unreal Engine 5, the latest iteration of Epic’s software engine which powers many contemporary games.  It features (Keanu) Reeves reprising his role in scenes written by Lana Wachowski, including action and narrative sequences, before players are let loose in a stunningly realistic open world.  While you can do little more than play tourist in this space, it is a remarkable demonstration of the game worlds we can expect as developers get to grips with the new generation of consoles.  After a long period of silence, a return to the Matrix in gaming once again points us towards the future.

(8) AND TELL TCHAIKOVSKY THE NEWS. Cora Buhlert tells squeecore to roll over, it’s time to talk about a real trend: “How To Define a New Subgenre/Trend: The Speculative Epic and an Addendum to the ‘Squeecore’ Debate”.

… That said, Lincoln Michel is right that there seem to be more books featuring multiple intertwining timelines right now, that they share certain characteristics such as addressing social issues (though you could argue that The Star Rover address the issue of prisoner abuse) and that they mainly come from the literary side of the pond rather than from the genre side, whereas the predecessors were mostly genre writers. In addition to Cloud Atlas, the examples Michel gives are Appleseed by Matt Bell, To Paradise by Hanya YanagiharaCloud Cuckoo Land by Anthony Doerr, Sea of Tranquility by Emily St. John Mandel and How High We Go in the Dark by Sequoia Nagamatsu.

However, I’m not just linking to this article because I’m interested in literary trends, subgenre formation and genre taxonomy (though I am), but also because Lincoln Michel demonstrates how to identify and define a new trend/potential subgenre without being a jerk about it….

(9) LEFT BEHIND. James Davis Nicoll says “Novels with a focus on demographic transition-driven decline are sadly rare in Western SF,” to begin his latest post for Tor.com, “Empty Earths: Five SF Stories Set on a Depopulated Planet”. One of those rarities is —

Knight Moves by Walter Jon Williams (1985)

A core-world alien, Snaggles, studies the social evolution of various carbon-based intra-skeletal species. Humanity’s past falls within its remit. Humanity’s present, however, is an inconvenience. Billions of humans interfere with field work. Therefore, Snaggles makes a deal with Doran. Doran can provide his fellow humans with immortality and vast power if they take his one-way tickets to habitable exo-planets. Most humans find the offer attractive. By the modern era, Earth has ten million humans left on it….

(Walter Jon Williams hastened to let his Facebook followers know it’s by no means a rare subject in his catalog — he’s written three on that theme.)

(10) YVETTE MIMIEUX (1942-2022). Actress Yvette Mimeux, whose place in genre history was cemented in 1960 with her appearance as Weena opposite Rod Taylor’s H. George Wells in The Time Machine, died January 17 at the age of 80. She also co-starred as an ESP-sensitive scientist in The Black Hole (1979), Disney’s highest budgeted movie up to that time.

Her other genre appearances included: One Step Beyond (1960 TV show, 1 ep.), The Wonderful World of the Brothers Grimm (1962), The Picasso Summer (1969) – based on a Ray Bradbury short story, Death Takes a Holiday (1971 TV movie), Black Noon (1971 TV movie), The Neptune Factor (1973), Bell, Book and Candle (1976 TV movie), Snowbeast (1977 TV movie), and Devil Dog: The Hound of Hell (1978 TV movie).

(11) GASPARD ULLIEL OBIT. French actor Gaspard Ulliel, cast as Midnight Man in the upcoming Marvel series Moon Knight, has died following a skiing accident. He was injured Tuesday in a collision with another skier. After being airlifted to Grenoble, he died of a traumatic brain injury NBC News reported. Among Ulliel’s many upcoming projects was La bête, a science fiction movie reteaming him with his Saint-Laurent director, Bertrand Bonello.

(12) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

2006 [Item by Cat Eldridge.] Just sixteen years ago, Pan’s Labyrinth premiered. In Spanish, it was called El laberinto del fauno which meansThe Labyrinth of the Faun. It was written, directed and co-produced by Mexican-born and raised Guillermo Del Toro. Other producers were Bertha Navarro, Alfonso Cuarón, Frida Torresblanco and  Álvaro Augustin. 

It was narrated by Pablo Adán with a primary Spanish language cast (Sergi López, Maribel Verdú, Ivana Baquero, Ariadna Gil and Álex Angulo) with the exception of Doug Jones as the Faun and the Pale Man who of course has a very long relationship with Del Toro going back to Mimic which was based on theDonald Wollheim’s story of the same name. The “Mimic” story was nominated for a Retro Hugo at Worldcon 76.

Reception for it was excellent. It won the Hugo for Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form, at Nippon 2007 which had dual Toastmasters in the guise of George Takei and Nozomi Ohmori. Children of MenThe Prestige, V for Vendetta and A Scanner Darkly were also nominated for this Award.

Critics really liked it. Roger Ebert at the Chicago Sun Times said of it that “Nothing I am likely to see, however, is likely to change my conviction that the year’s best film was Pan’s Labyrinth.” And Mark Kermode writing in The Observer exclaimed that it is “an epic, poetic vision in which the grim realities of war are matched and mirrored by a descent into an underworld populated by fearsomely beautiful monsters.”

Box office was quite superb as it cost just under twenty million to produce and made over eighty million.  Audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes currently give a near perfect ninety one percent rating. 

Usually I don’t note the figures made for a film but the Faun got some great ones including the NECA eight inch version which you see here in all its nightmarish glory. The Pale Man got his own figure as well.

(13) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born January 19, 1916 Bernard Baily. A comics writer, editor and publisher. Best remembered as co-creator of the DC Comics the Spectre and Hourman. For DC Comics precursor National Comics, Baily co-created and drew the adventure feature “Tex Thomson” in Action Comics #1 (June 1938), the landmark comic book that introduced Superman. (Died 1996.)
  • Born January 19, 1924 Dean Fredericks. Actor best known for his portrayal of the comic strip character Steve Canyon in the television series of the same name which aired from 1958–1959 on NBC. His first genre role is in Them! followed by appearances in The Disembodied and the lead in The Phantom Planet which you can watch here. (Died 1999.)
  • Born January 19, 1930 Tippi Hedren, 92. Melanie Daniels in Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds which scared the sh!t out of me when I saw it a long time ago. She had a minor role as Helen in The Birds II: Land’s End, a televised sequel done thirty years on. No idea how bad or good it was as I’ve not seen it. Other genre appearances were in such films and shows as Satan’s HarvestTales from the DarksideThe Bionic Woman, the new version of Alfred Hitchcock Presents and Batman: The Animated Series.
  • Born January 19, 1932 Richard Lester, 90. Director best remembered for his Eighties Superman films. He’s got a number of other genre films including the exceedingly silly The Mouse on the MoonRobin and Marian which may be my favorite Robin Hood film everand an entire excellent series of Musketeers films. He also directed Royal Flash based on George MacDonald Fraser’s Flashman novel of that name. 
  • Born January 19, 1956 Geena Davis, 66. Her first genre role was as Veronica “Ronnie” Quaife in The Fly reboot, followed by her widely remembered roles as Barbara Maitland in Beetlejuice and Valerie Gail in Earth Girls Are Easy. She also played Morgan Adams in the box office bomb Cutthroat Island before getting the choice plum of Mrs. Eleanor Little in the Stuart Little franchise.  She has a lead role in Marjorie Prime, a film tackling memory loss in Alzheimer’s victims some fifty years by creating holographic projections of deceased family members that sounds really creepy. Who’s seen it?  Her major series role to date is as Regan MacNeil on The Exorcist, a ten-episode FOX sequel to the film.
  • Born January 19, 1958 Allen Steele, 64. Best, I think, at the shorter length works as reflected in his three Hugo wins: the first at LA Con III for his “The Death of Captain Future”, the second for his “… Where Angels Fear to Tread” at BucConeer and his third for “The Emperor of Mars” at Renovation. Not to say that you should overlook his novels and future history series beginning with The Jericho Iteration, which is well-worth your time. 
  • Born January 19, 1962 Paul McCrane, 60. Emil Antonowsky in RoboCop whose death there is surely an homage to the Toxic Avenger. A year later, he’d be Deputy Bill Briggs in the remake of The Blob, and he played Leonard Morris Betts in the “Leonard Betts” episode of the X-Files. 

(14) COMICS SECTION.

(15) GENRE MUSIC TOPS THE CHARTS. In the Washington Post, Bethonie Butler says that the songs from Encanto have become very popular, with four songs on the Billboard Hot 100 and “We Don’t Talk About Bruno” reaching  #5. They’ve also gotten many fans on TikTok. “How ‘Encanto’ and its soundtrack became a viral phenomenon”.

… If you didn’t know the “Hamilton” creator was responsible for “Encanto’s” original songs, you would almost certainly know by the time you heard “Surface Pressure.” In the bouncy track, the brawny Luisa (Jessica Darrow) belts out her anxiety and resolve around the (literal) heavy lifting she takes on to help her family. It contains one of the most [Lin Manuel] Mirandaesque lines ever: “Under the surface, I feel berserk as a tightrope walker in a three-ring circus,” Luisa sings before asking, “Was Hercules ever like ‘Yo, I don’t wanna fight Cerberus?”

(16) THE SKY’S NO LIMIT. “Radian announces plans to build one of the holy grails of spaceflight”Ars Technica has the story.

A Washington-state based aerospace company has exited stealth mode by announcing plans to develop one of the holy grails of spaceflight—a single-stage-to-orbit space plane. Radian Aerospace said it is deep into the design of an airplane-like vehicle that could take off from a runway, ignite its rocket engines, spend time in orbit, and then return to Earth and land on a runway.

“We all understand how difficult this is,” said Livingston Holder, Radian’s co-founder, chief technology officer, and former head of the Future Space Transportation and X-33 program at Boeing.

(17) TODAY’S THING TO WORRY ABOUT. Newsweek is deeply concerned: “Earth’s Core Is Cooling Faster Than Expected, Creating Uncertain Future for Planet”.

A study has unveiled secrets previously locked deep inside the Earth’s interior that could have profound implications for the future of the planet we call home.

The research paper, published in Earth and Planetary Science Letters, shows Earth’s core is cooling faster than scientists had thought previously.

Scientists examined the conductivity of bridgmanite, previously named as the most abundant material in the Earth, that is found in great quantities between the core and mantle of the Earth’s interior—a place known as the Core-Mantle-Boundary (CMB.)

By experimenting on bridgmanite using extreme temperatures and pressures found at the CMB, scientists found that bridgmanite is about 1.5 times more conductive of heat than previously thought.

Consequently, the heat transfer of the high temperatures found at the center of the Earth to its outer areas, like the molten rock of the mantle and beyond, is happening faster than was previously thought….

(18) SMELLETH LIKE THE SHOW THOU LOVE. Last month, Old Spice did a commercial that ties into The Witcher. And Netflix ran a related quiz that’s still online: “Old Spice + The Witcher” – I’m counting on you to better my rate of 50% correct.

(19) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In “Honest Trailers: Hawkeye,” the Screen Junkies say that “in a multiverse of infinite possibilities, even the lamest ideas must exist” and that the series features Hawkeye’s assistant, who is obsessed with branding, and a deaf character who doesn’t have to hear the characters surrounding her overuse the word “bro.”

[Thanks to Andrew Porter, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, Chris Barkley, Dann, Cora Buhlert, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Stuart Hall.]

Pixel Scroll 1/13/22 If Pluto Is Not A Planet, Then Mickey Mouse Is Not A Star

(1) DAVE FARLAND MEDICAL UPDATE. Dave Farland’s son, Spencer, has corrected reports of his father’s death, but Farland remains on life support after a fall.  

This Dave’s Son Spencer.

Thank you for all the messages and people reaching out. We wanted to provide an update on how Dave is doing.

Dave suffered a fall down the stairs this morning, and hit his head. He has suffered a hemorrhagic stroke with bleeding around his brain steam. He is comatosed and on life support. To put it simply he is not doing well at the moment. We are waiting for immediate family to be able to come and see him before making decisions on how to proceed.

We appreciate all the notes and messages, and love for Dave. I will post an update as things change.

(2) CHANGING STAR TREK’S STRIPES. Michael Okuda shared a bit of set decorating lore with Facebook readers:

I used to have a lot of fun at Paramount, adding last-minute tech-ish detailing on Star Trek sets and props using Chartpak pinstripe graphic tape and an X-acto knife. Judicious use of thin stripes implied access panels, circuits, controls, safety markings, and more.

When I first described the idea to Star Trek: TNG producer Bob Justman early in the show’s first season, he was skeptical and he told me not to do it. The problem was that I had only described the process to him, so he didn’t have a chance to see what it would look like.

Several weeks later, during prep for the second episode, I decided to try it anyhow. I figured even if Bob hated the finished product, it would be easy to remove…

(3) BIPOC SFF QUIZ. Strange at Ecbatan’s Rich Horton has posted “Another Quiz: BIPOC SF and Fantasy”. I got 15/18 – which surprised me!

I’ve written another quiz for the trivia league I’m a member of. The subject this time is SF (and Fantasy and Horror) by Black people, indigenous people, and people of color. The quiz ran on Tuesday, so the results are in at the site. I figured, as with my previous quizzes, I’d post it here on my blog for anyone who is interested to try. I’ll post the answers in a couple of days.

Here’s one of the questions:

12. A key text highlighting the tremendous contributions of African-descended writers to speculative fiction throughout the 20th Century is Dark Matter: A Century of Science Fiction from the African Diaspora,which won the World Fantasy Award in 2001. The editor won another World Fantasy Award for Dark Matter: Reading the Bones in 2005, and was nominated for the James Tiptree Jr. Award (now the Otherwise Award) for a collection of her own fiction in 2016. She is now the editor of The Magazine of Fantasy and Science FictionWho is she?

(4) IT’S NOT A PARADOX AFTER ALL. James Davis Nicoll tells Tor.com readers “Five More Reasons Aliens Are Avoiding Planet Earth”.

I once pointed out to Fred Pohl that if FTL is possible and if it does (as the math says it would) facilitate time travel, then the paucity of alien visitors suggests that not only is Earth not interesting to aliens of the current era, but it is also not interesting to aliens of any era.

Pohl said that was the most depressing thing he’d ever heard. I am happy to have enriched his life….

(5) NOT THE WORST CASE, BUT BAD ENOUGH. Charles Stross gives his predictions for 2031 – some of you will probably survive til then, but no guarantees: “Oh, 2022!”

…In space … well, SpaceX seem likely to fly a prototype Starship stack to orbit in early 2022. Whether or not they go bust the next day, by so doing they will have proven that a designed-for-full-reuse two-stage-to-orbit design with a payload greater than a Saturn V is possible. I don’t expect them to go bust: I expect them to make bank. The next decade is going to be absolutely wild in terms of human spaceflight. I’m not predicting a first human landing on Mars in that decade, but I’d be astonished if we don’t see a crewed moonbase by 2031—if not an American one, then China is targeting crewed Lunar missions in the 2030s, and could easily bring that forward.

Climate: we’re boned. Quite possibly the Antarctic ice shelves will be destablized decades ahead of schedule, leading to gradual but inexorable sea levels rising around the world. This may paradoxically trigger an economic boom in construction—both of coastal defenses and of new inland waterways and ports. But the dismal prospect is that we may begin experiencing so many heat emergencies that we destabilize agriculture. The C3 photosynthesis pathway doesn’t work at temperatures over 40 degrees celsius. The C4 pathway is a bit more robust, but not as many crops make use of it. Genetic engineering of hardy, thermotolerant cultivars may buy us some time, but it’s not going to help if events like the recent Colorado wildfires become common….

(6) PICARD SIDE ADVENTURE. Simon & Schuster is taking pre-orders for the fully dramatized “Star Trek: Picard: No Man’s Land Audiobook” by series co-creator Kirsten Beyer.

Discover what happens to Raffi and Seven of Nine following the stunning conclusion to season one of Star Trek: Picard with this audio exclusive, fully dramatized Star Trek adventure featuring the beloved stars of the hit TV series Michelle Hurd and Jeri Ryan.

Star Trek: No Man’s Land picks up right after the action-packed season one conclusion of Star Trek: Picard. While Raffi and Seven of Nine are enjoying some much-needed R&R in Raffi’s remote hideaway, their downtime is interrupted by an urgent cry for help: a distant, beleaguered planet has enlisted the Fenris Rangers to save an embattled evacuation effort. As Raffi and Seven team up to rescue a mysteriously ageless professor whose infinity-shaped talisman has placed him in the deadly sights of a vicious Romulan warlord, they take tentative steps to explore the attraction depicted in the final moments of Picard season one.

Star Trek: Picard: No Man's Land

(7) SHUTTLE BOP. Meanwhile, back in 1967, Galactic Journey’s Janice L. Newman is still adjusting the rabbit ears on her television set tuned into The Original Series: “[January 12, 1967] Most illogical (Star Trek: ‘The Galileo Seven’)”.

…On the planet Spock takes command, only to find his orders questioned and challenged at every turn. McCoy’s needling is typical, though it feels inappropriate in the midst of the crisis. In fact, he starts the whole thing off by prodding Spock and saying that “you’ve always thought that logic was the best basis on which to build command”. This assertion is already suspect, given that Spock has reacted to Kirk’s more inspired gambles (see: “The Corbomite Maneuver” and “The Menagerie”) with respect and acknowledgement that they were clever, even if they were unorthodox or unexpected….

(8) LOVE AT FIRST BITE. Keith Roysdon commemorates the 50th anniversary of The Night Stalker at CrimeReads: “Vampire noir came into its own 50 years ago with The Night Stalker”.

We know this story: A hard-bitten, oft-fired reporter, looking for a fast track back to a big-city newspaper job, hopes to milk a sensational story for everything it’s worth. In the process, he shakes things up in a tough desert town.

Yep, that’s the plot of Ace in the Hole, the 1951 classic directed by Billy Wilder and starring Kirk Douglas as the unethical reporter.

But of course, as you know from the headline, we’re here to talk about The Night Stalker, which has everything Ace in the Hole has, plus police corruption and vampires.

The basic premise—a hard-luck loser, whether he’s a reporter or cowboy or private eye or drifter, runs up against the powers that be in a one-horse town—is a familiar one and really lends itself to noir films….

…From the time it aired on Jan. 11, 1972—about a half a century ago—The Night Stalker made history. The movie might not have been intended to be a genre fusion film of noir and horror, but it was and it’s still the best of the rare sub-genre.

(9) SUNDAY MORNING TRANSPORT. “There’s a new Substack for speculative fiction and it looks great” says Thom Dunn at Boing Boing.

Email newsletters are obviously the cool new thing, and there are a lot of great (and not-so-great) journalists and opinion writers making serious money through Substack. But I’ve wondering for a while now how a successful fiction outlet might work1.

Fortunately, I don’t have to wonder any more, because the Sunday Morning Transport now exists, with the goal of delivering one commute-sized short story to your inbox every Sunday2. Award-winning fantasy writer Fran Wilde (Riverland) serves as managing editor, with Serial Box / Realm.fm founder Julian Yap as the editor-in-chief — two people who absolutely know the ins-and-outs on every side of the sci-fi/fantasy fiction publishing community.

… All stories on the Sunday Morning Transport will be free for the month of January; after that, free subscribers only get one story a month, while paid subscribers get a new one every week. 

(10) NEW AND IMPROVED. Nerdist says fans are having fun with mashups in The Batman trailer. “The Batman Fan Edit Adds Jim Carrey’s Campy Riddler to Trailer”.

The trailer and some released images for The Batman have got some fans bewildered. Specifically, because it seems Paul Dano’s version of the Riddler has more in common with the real-life Zodiac killer than the guy in the green suit from the comics. And it has some fans really longing for the days of the goofy version of Edward Nygma, played by Jim Carrey in Batman Forever.

So naturally, someone out there used their editing skills to make a few changes to The Batman trailer. They replaced Dano’s version with some 1995 vintage Jim Carrey Riddler. Bright green jumpsuit and all. The video comes from comedian and filmmaker Matt Highton (via Geeks Are Sexy). And you can watch the whole thing right here. We think Joel Schumacher would be proud.

(11) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

2008 [Item by Cat Eldridge.] Fourteen years ago this evening on Fox, the Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles premiered. It was directed by Josh Friedman whose sole genre work previously was H. G. Wells’ War of the Worlds.  The top cast was Lena Headey, Thomas Dekker and Summer Glau. In addition, the narrator was Headey. 

Though it would last but two seasons and only thirty-one episodes, as the first season was abbreviated, it was the highest-rated new scripted series of the ’07 to ‘08 television season. And yes, it started in the ‘07 television season even though its first episode was in January. 

Reception among critics was generally quite fine. Gina Bellafante of the New York Times said that it was “one of the more humanizing adventures in science fiction to arrive in quite a while.” And Maureen Ryan of the Chicago Tribune exclaimed of the second season that the “season’s opener is much clearer and more sheer fun than anything that aired last spring.”

It has a stellar eighty-five percent rating among audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes. 

Despite numerous ongoing fan efforts to revive the series, Josh Friedman has dismissed the possibility of crowdfunding a third series unlike say the recent Veronica Mars series due to issues involving holder rights. I suspect the Terminator rights are hellishly complex.

(12) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born January 13, 1893 Clark Ashton Smith. One SFF critic deemed him part of “the big three of Weird Tales, with Robert E. Howard and H. P. Lovecraft.“ This is while some readers found him to excessively morbid, as  L. Sprague de Camp said of him in noting “nobody since Poe has so loved a well-rotted corpse.” If you’ve not read his work, Nightshade has collected it in The Collected Fantasies of Clark Ashton Smith, five volumes in total. They’re all available in Kindle editions. (Died 1961.)
  • Born January 13, 1919 Sam Merwin, Jr. An editor and writer of both mysteries and science fiction. In the Fifties, he edited, Fantastic Story Quarterly, Fantastic Universe, Startling StoriesThrilling Wonder Stories, and Wonder Stories Annual. As writer, he’s best remembered for The House of Many Worlds and its sequel, Three Faces of Time. At L.A. Con III, he was nominated for a Retro Hugo for Best Professional Editor for Thrilling Wonder Stories and Startling Stories. (Died 1996.)
  • Born January 13, 1933 Ron Goulart, 89. First I must acknowledge that he is very prolific, and uses many pseudonyms, to wit: Kenneth Robeson, Con Steffanson, Chad Calhoun, R.T. Edwards, Ian R. Jamieson, Josephine Kains, Jillian Kearny, Howard Lee, Zeke Masters, Frank S. Shawn, and Joseph Silva. (Wow!) You did the see Doc Savage one in there, didn’t you? I’m reasonably sure that the I’ve read a lot of his fiction including the Flash Gordon series, his Avenger series, maybe a bit of the Vampirella novels, the Incredible Hulk definitely, not the Groucho Marx series though it sounds fun, and, well, damn he’s prolific. So what have you have read by him that you like? 
  • Born January 13, 1938 Charlie Brill, 84. His best-remembered role, well at least among us, is as the Klingon spy Arne Darvin in “The Trouble with Tribbles”. And yes he’ll show in the DS9 episode, “Trials and Tribble-ations”, that repurposed this episode to great effect. (It was nominated for a Hugo at LoneStarCon 2.) He was the voice of Grimmy in the animated Mother Goose and Grimm series, as well having one-offs in They Came from Outer SpaceThe Munsters TodaySlidersThe Incredible HulkWonder Woman and Super Train. Not even genre adjacent but he was a recurring performer on Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In.
  • Born January 13, 1945 Joy Chant, 77. Chant is an odd case as she only wrote for a short period between 1970 and 1983 but she produced the brilliant House of Kendreth trilogy, consisting of Red Moon and Black MountainThe Grey Mane of Morning and When Voiha Wakes.  Her other main work, and it is without doubt absolutely amazing as well, is The High Kings, illustrated lavishly by George Sharp and designed by David Larkin with editing by Ian and Betty Ballantine. It is intended as a reference work on the Arthurian legends and the Matter of Britain with her stellar retellings of the legends.  I’ve got one reference to her writing Fantasy and Allegory in Literature for Young Readers but no cites for it elsewhere. Has anyone read it?
  • Born January 13, 1968 Ken Scholes, 59. His major series, and it’s quite worth reading, is The Psalms of Isaak.  His short stories, collected so far in three volumes, are also worth your precious reading time. He wrote the superb “The Wings We Dare Aspire” for METAtropolis: Green Space
  • Born January 13, 1980 Beth Cato, 42. Her first series, the Clockwork Dagger sequence beginning with The Clockwork Dagger novel, is most excellent popcorn literature. She’s done a considerable amount of excellent short fiction which has been mostly collected in Deep Roots and Red Dust and Dancing Horses and Other Stories. Her website features a number of quite tasty cake recipes including Browned Butter Coffee Bundt Cake. Really, I kid you not. 

(13) THE DOUGHNUT MAN. First Fandom Experience answers the question “How Did E.E. Smith Become ‘Doc’?”

Recently FFE received an inquiry from John Grayshaw. John runs the Online Science Fiction Book Club on Facebook, which is associated with the Middletown Public Library in Middletown, PA. The group has worldwide membership and has hosted interviews with a number of science fiction and fan luminaries.

John’s group has an interest in E.E. Smith, and asked if we’d be willing to respond to a number of questions posed by his folks. Since we’ve just completed a deep-dive on Smith’s early history as a fan, we were happy to take up the challenge. The list of questions the group compiled is wide-ranging, and we’ll be working through them over the next several weeks.

The first query on the list was immediately intriguing:
“How did Smith get his famous nickname “Doc”?

In one sense, the answer is obvious: Smith held a Ph.D. in Chemistry from George Washington University and spent his primary career as a research chemist in the food industry. But in his earliest appearance in pulps, this wasn’t apparent….

(14) TODAY’S STAR WARS NATURE LESSON. (Beware spoiler.) The Star Wars Underworld shares an insight with The Book of Boba Fett viewers.

Writer Kieron Gillen can confirm:

(15) SAM I AM. “Quantum Leap Reboot Pilot Greenlit by NBC” says The Hollywood Reporter, and there are hints Scott Bakula may be involved.

The possible return of Quantum Leap is taking a big step forward at NBC. The network has greenlit the sequel pilot to the 1989 time travel adventure which ran for five seasons….

In September, Bakula teased “significant conversations” about a revival were happening. “There’s very significant conversations about it right now going on,” said Bakula, who played a physicist who involuntarily time travels and fixes mistakes of the past by leaping into the body of others. “I don’t know what it would be. I don’t know who would have it. The rights were a mess for years. I don’t know if they’re even sorted out now. That’s always been the biggest complication.”

(16) PUSHME PULLYU. “Star Trek has tractor beams. So do we” contends Experience Magazine.

The “tractor beam” has been a reliable narrative device in science fiction for nearly 100 years, deployed whenever the plot requires seizing a runaway spaceship or manipulating objects at a distance. Author E.E. “Doc” Smith is credited with coining the term in 1931 with his novel Spacehounds of IPC, serialized in the pulp sci-fi magazine Amazing Stories. The language is old-school delicious: “Brandon swung mighty tractor beams upon the severed halves of the Jovian vessel….”

…We already have tractor beams here on Earth, more or less. Well, emphasis on less. Scientists have been generating small-scale tractor beams for several years now, using tightly focused light and sound waves. These devices can’t move spaceships but they can move tiny things, from microscopic particles to lightweight materials around a half-inch in diameter. It doesn’t seem like much, but these tiny tractor beams could have profound practical applications. More on that in a bit.  

The first thing to know about real-life tractor beams is that they work more like another sci-fi concept: force fields….

(17) CLI-FI. Claire Holroyde promotes her first novel, about a comet threatening the Earth, by praising novels by Gish Jen and Rebecca Roanhorse in “The New Killers in Climate Disaster Thrillers” at CrimeReads.

The usual killers are easy to spot. They can be uninhabitable, dystopian futurescapes of planet Earth: deserts with salt flats, unbreathable air, or submerged ruins of cities. These settings could become a reality in our lifetimes, but tomorrow’s threats are not always today’s concern. Killers of the present can take the shape of extreme weather: superstorms, tornadoes, and tsunamis. They act like deadly assassins sent by vengeful mother nature—but was she miscast in this role?  What if the killers in a climate change/disaster thriller were also the architects of their unsustainable circumstance—us?…

(18) THE DEVIL MADE THEM DO IT. “’After-School Satan Club’ planned at Illinois elementary school. District explains why”Yahoo! took notes.

…“This actually isn’t a club that’s meant to proselytize Satanism or even engage in discussions about religious opinion,” Satanic Temple co-founder Lucien Greaves told WQAD. “This is an educational program meant to focus on critical thinking and just basic education skills.”

Because of a 2001 Supreme Court ruling in the case of Good News Club v. Milford Central School, schools are not allowed to discriminate against religious speech if a religious organization offers a club on their premises.

After School Satan Clubs have already been offered in other schools. Point Defiance Elementary School in Tacoma, Washington, began offering the controversial club in 2016, but it was put on hold a year later due to a lack of resources, the News-Tribune reported…

[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, Chris Barkley, Robert J. Sawyer, Rich Horton, David Doering, John King Tarpinian, Andrew Porter, and Michael Toman, for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Jon DeCles.]

Pixel Scroll 1/10/22 All Have Scrolled And All Must Have Pixels

(1) HIPY PAPY BTHUTHDTH THUTHDA CTHULHU. Scott Lynch noticed that Pooh entered the public domain on New Year’s Day. Thread starts here.

He’s not the only creator to hit the ground running: “’Winnie-the-Pooh’ just entered the public domain. Here’s what that means for fans” in the Washington Post.

Luke McGarry began drawing a nude Pooh Bear as soon as he heard the news. The original, nearly 100-year-old “bear of very little brain” from the Hundred Acre Wood had rung in this new year by entering the public domain. Now quite humbly, McGarry’s creative appetite felt rumbly.

The Los Angeles-based artist sat and penned his Winnie-the-Pooh idea in four panels, announcing the 1926 character’s free-for-all status as of Jan. 1, with a winking if satirically speculative interpretation: “Disney still owns their version of me. … But as long as I don’t put a little red shirt on, I can do as I like” — a reference to how the character’s attire regularly began to be depicted beginning in the 1930s.McGarry waited a day to post his colorful cartoon on social media. Later he checked his accounts: “I didn’t think it was going to blow up like it did.” On Twitter alone, the illustration received nearly 40,000 likes. The artist realized his Pooh toon could bring some cash flow. “Had I anticipated there being any demand, I would’ve probably had prints done in advance.”…

(2) SPIDER-MAN CRUSHING IT. Spider-Man: No Way Home is still breaking box office records. Having grossed $1.53 billion worldwide, it’s now the eighth-highest grossing movie ever globally (not adjusted for inflation) reports Variety.

In the U.S. the film sits in sixth place, having just passed James Cameron’s Titanic, and Deadline estimates it is around $10 million away from overtaking Avengers: Infinity War ($678.8 million) as the fifth-highest grossing movie ever stateside.

(3) BUTLER ADAPTATION SERIES ORDERED. “FX Picks Up ‘Kindred’ Series Based on Octavia E. Butler Novel”The Hollywood Reporter has details.

FX is moving ahead with its adaptation of Octavia E. Butler’s Kindred.

The Disney-owned outlet has given a series order to Kindred, which comes from FX Productions and writer and showrunner Branden Jacobs-Jenkins (Watchmen). It’s based on the influential 1979 novel by Hugo Award winner and MacArthur Fellow Butler, following a young Black woman in Los Angeles who finds herself pulled back and forth in time.

FX ordered a pilot for Kindred in March 2021. Janicza Bravo (Zola) directed the pilot episode. The series stars newcomer Mallori Johnson, Micah Stock, Ryan Kwanten, Gayle Rankin, Austin Smith, Antoinette Crowe-Legacy and David Alexander Kaplan.

(4) DAW: THE FIRST TEN YEARS. At Dark Worlds Quarterly, G.W. Thomas begins a series on Donald A. Wollheim: “Donald A. Wollheim Part 1: 1934-1945”.

When you say the name “Donald A. Wollheim” you have to say which one you are referring to. Is it the force behind ACE Books or the creator and publisher of DAW Books? Or the Avon editor who tried to combine comics and Pulps? Or the editor of The Avon Fantasy Reader?  Is it the editor who published the unauthorized edition of The Lord of the Rings and created the modern fantasy boom? Is it the fanzine editor who published H. P. Lovecraft, C. L. Moore, Robert E. Howard, A. Merritt and Frank Belknap Long? Is it the editor without any budget who cobbled together Pulps with the help of the Futurians? Or is it the writer who so often appeared under a pseudonym like Martin Pearson, Millard Verne Gordon or Lawrence Woods? Donald A. Wollheim was all of them in his career spanning over fifty years….

(5) THE JAWS THAT CATCH. G.W. Thomas would also like to tell you about big bugs, zillions of ‘em! “Giant Ants of the Pulps” at Dark Worlds Quarterly.

Giant Ants of the Pulps seems like a no-brainer, right? Of course the Pulps were crawling with mad scientists creating giant bugs, or ones that comes from other planets, or are encountered when we arrive on jungle planets. A fascination with the formic race goes back to writers like H. G. Wells, who despite the film versions, never actually did giant ants. What he did do was write the first giant monster novel in The Food of the Gods (Pearson’s, December 1903-June 1904) but he chose giant bees over ants. Later he wrote “The Empire of the Ants” (The Strand, December 1905), in which he supposed an intelligent race of army ants that begin to take over the world. These critters have weapons but are not gigantic in size. Hollywood combined the two along with Joan Collins.

(6) OPEN SESAME. [Item by Daniel Dern.] Watch The Door into Summer on Netflix:

A pioneering roboticist awakens in 2025 after decades in cryosleep. To change the past and reunite with his adopted sister, he seeks a way back to 1995.

I saw somebody’s Facebook post out this earlier today (and I see that sundry more are posting/commenting. We just finished watching it. This was one of the Heinlein sf novels I grew up reading/re-reading (when they’re short and one-offs, and not competing with a Borges-level Mount Can’t-Read-Em-All, it’s easier), and they dun good. (I could drop a cheap shot at Starship Troopers here, but I’ll refrain.) There are sundry differences in details, but the core plot remains intact (including Petronius The Arbiter, aka Pete, our protagonist’s credential).

The dialogue is all in Japanese, with subtitles available (often harder-to-read than I would have liked when the background was mostly white). (If there was a change subtitle settings, we didn’t see it.)

We didn’t see Heinlein’s name in the credits — although, it might have been lurking in the untranslated credits… but the Netflix listing includes:

Kento Yamazaki (“Alice in Borderland”) stars in this science fiction tale adapted from the novel by Robert A. Heinlein.

(7) GIZZARD-FI. The Odyssey Writing Workshop Blog has posted an interview with graduate Larry Hodges.

You’re a 2006 graduate of the Odyssey Writing Workshop. What made you decide to attend? What insights did you gain into your own work?

I did some research and asked around, and Odyssey seemed the most recommended workshop. (Having Robert J. Sawyer as a “Writer in Residence” that year greatly helped!) Probably the biggest insight I learned about my own work was that I’m an “idea” and “humor/satire” writer who needs to focus on character and other aspects equally. I also went in knowing that I had little feel for description, and so have spent years working to overcome that. One thing that helped: Robert and Odyssey Director Jeanne Cavelos suggested writing a story that was all about description, and so I wrote and sold “In the Belly of the Beast,” where the whole story takes place in the belly of a dragon that has swallowed a bunch of people, including a wizard who creates a field to protect them in the dragon’s stomach—and much of the story revolved around vivid descriptions of the “venue.” It also became a character story about the wizard….

(8) THE INFLUENTIAL LE GUIN. Tor.com’s Vanessa Armstrong has a recommendation: “New Crafting with Ursula Podcast Has Writers Like Becky Chambers Delving Into Ursula K. Le Guin’s Work”.

… This series, called Crafting with Ursula, stems from David Naimon’s long-running Between the Covers podcast. In each episode, Naimon will talk with an author about how specific works of Le Guin have influenced aspects of their own creative process.

The first episode, which is available now, has Becky Chambers (Wayfarers series, A Psalm for the Wild-Built) discussing the craft of creating aliens and alien cultures, something Chambers has beautifully done in her own stories. …

(9) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

1969 [Item by Cat Eldridge.] Fifty-three years ago this evening, Star Trek’s “Let That Be Your Last Battlefield” first aired on NBC. It was the fifteenth episode of the third season. It written by Oliver Crawford who also penned “The Galileo Seven” as based on a story by Gene L. Coon who was writing under his pen name “Lee Cronin” due to contractual reasons. Coon was the showrunner for the series through most of the second season and was responsible for such major elements as the Klingons and the naming of the United Federation of Planets and Starfleet Command. 

The cast stars here were Frank Gorshin as Commissioner Bele and Lou Antonio as Lokai. Gorshin would be known in this period for his recurring role on Batman as The Riddler. Lou Antonio did a few genre one-offs. 

The episode has since been rated as one of the best of the Trek series with ColliderHollywood ReporterPopMatters, SciFi and ScreenRant all rating it among the best episodes produced. 

Spock’s comment that “Change is the essential process of all existence” which remains one of the most memorable lines of dialogue ever said on Trek comes from this episode.

The original version when Beale and Lokai run through the Enterprise shows the burning cities of World War II Europe. The remastered version shows the Cheron cities still burning from space. (That scene was done because the episode was running short.) 

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born January 10, 1904 Ray Bolger. Best remembered obviously as The Scarecrow In The Wizard of Oz. He also showed as the villainous Barnaby in Babes in Toyland, two appearances on Fantasy Island, and as Vector In “Greetings from Earth” on the classic version of Battlestar Galactica.  He narrated a version of Peter and The Wolf which certainly is genre. (Died 1987.)
  • Born January 10, 1924 Mike Butterworth. In 1965, he became the primary script writer at Ranger magazine where he was responsible for scripting the space opera The Rise and Fall of the Trigan Empire, which remains to this day one of the most popular boys’ adventure strips ever published in the UK. Between Ranger and later Look and Learn, it would have a run of 854 issues in total, divided between the two magazines. (Died 1986.)
  • Born January 10, 1937 Elizabeth Anne Hull. She has served as the President of the Science Fiction Research Association and editor of its newsletter. She has been a member of the panel for the John W. Campbell Memorial Award for best SF novel since 1986. With her husband Frederik Pohl, Hull edited the Tales from the Planet Earth anthology. She is also the editor of the Gateways: Original New Stories Inspired by Frederik Pohl anthology. She has co-authored three short stories with him, “Author Plus”, “The Middle Kingdom” and “Second Best Friend”. (Died 2021.)
  • Born January 10, 1944 Jeffrey Catherine Jones. She was an artist providing more than a hundred and fifty covers for many different types of genre books through the mid-Seventies including the Ace paperback editions of the Fafhrd and Gray Mouser series. Among her work was also Flash Gordon for Charlton Comics in the Sixties and the Conan Saga for Marvel Comics in the late Eighties. (Died 2011.)
  • Born January 10, 1944 William Sanderson, 78. I remember him best as J. F. Sebastian, the possibly insane genetic designer working for Tyrell in Blade Runner. but he’s had a career obviously after that film including appearing as Skeets in The Rocketeer, voicing Dr. Karl Rossum on Batman: The Animated Series, playing the character Deuce on Babylon 5 (a series I’ve watched through at least three times), E. B. Farnum on Deadwood (ok, it’s not genre, but it’s Will and Emma’s favorite show so let’s let it slide) and Sheriff Bud Dearborne on True Blood
  • Born January 10, 1947 George Alec Effinger. I’ve read his Marîd Audran series at least three times  as it’s an amazing series in both the characters and the setting. I never read the short stories in this setting until Golden Gryphon Press sent me Budayeen Nights for Green Man to review and they were quite excellent as well.  I really should listen to the stories soon to see how they work that way. (Died 2002.)
  • Born January 10, 1959 Fran Walsh, 63. Partner of Peter Jackson, she has contributed to all of his films since the late Eighties when she started out as co-writer of Meet the Feebles, and as producer since The Fellowship of the Ring which won a Hugo. Need I note the next two films won Hugos as well? Huh The Hobbit films did not win Hugos.  
  • Born January 10, 1958 Jeff Kaake, 64. He’s on the Birthday Honors list as he was Captain John Boon on the Space Rangers which lasted only six episodes. Damn. That was a fun show! He was also Thomas Cole on Viper which lasted four seasons but really isn’t genre. And he showed up in the Stormageddon film (which sounds like the name a Filer would give to a SJW Cred) as well which is genre. 

(11) MARK YOUR BALLOT “X”. The polls are open! Marvel is asking fans to help select the newest X-Men team once again. As with last year’s X-Men election, the second annual event to choose the newest protectors of Krakoa will run until 11:59 p.m. EST on Thursday, January 13. Participants can vote at marvel.com/xmenvote.

In 2021, True Believers everywhere voted in the first-ever X-Men election. They shaped X-Men history by choosing Polaris to star in Gerry Duggan and Pepe Larraz’s X-Men. Throughout the election, fans campaigned for their favorite candidates resulting in “X-MEN VOTE” trending worldwide on Twitter and ultimately changed the future of all mutantkind!

Several nominations have been accepted to determine the final member of one of the most iconic teams in the Marvel Universe. Now, the last member of this new X-Men team is in YOUR hands! Each person can only cast one vote, so read about each nominee below and make your decision carefully!

X-Men Ballot Nominations:

  • ARMOR: Hisako Ichiki can create a powerful psionic force field around herself, giving her superhuman strength and durability. She planted the first Krakoan flower on Mars, and as a member of the New Mutants aided her brethren across the globe.
  • AVALANCHE: A long-standing member of the Brotherhood, Dominikos Petrakis used his seismokinetic powers against the X-Men. Though he was killed by the Red Skull, he was one of countless mutants to be resurrected on Krakoa, where he became an agent of S.W.O.R.D.
  • BLING!: A former member of Gambit’s Chevaliers squad at the Xavier school, Bling! has more recently teamed up with Psylocke and her team to defend Krakoa despite still questioning the new mutant nation’s motives. She possesses a diamond-hard body, superhuman strength and the ability to fire crystalline projectiles.
  • FIRESTAR: Angelica Jones is a veteran super hero, boasting former memberships in the Avengers, New Warriors, Young Allies, and the X-Men themselves – in addition to being one of Spider-Man’s most amazing friends. Despite her codename, her powers are microwave-based, allowing her to ignite, melt, or otherwise superheat whatever she targets. She has yet to claim Krakoan citizenship…
  • GENTLE: The first X-Man to hail from the nation of Wakanda, Nezhno Abidemi now calls Krakoa his home. His mutant power allows him to exponentially increase his musculature, giving him almost limitless strength and invulnerability.
  • GORGON: Like the mythical creature of his namesake, Tomi Shishido’s gaze can turn anyone who meets it into stone. Although he possesses many other superpowers, Gorgon’s proficiency with swords is his greatest strength. Due to his skill with a blade, he was able to turn the tide at a crucial moment during the Contest of Swords in Otherworld. Unfortunately, he died doing so and came back… different.
  • MICROMAX: A British mutant, Scott Wright has served as an agent of various agencies of the Crown including MI13 and F.I.6. In the past, he was also briefly a member of Excalibur – and controversially O*N*E* – when he came into conflict with many of his fellow mutants.
  • PENANCE: Monet St. Croix touts herself as a near-perfect mutant specimen, with a wide range of powers and talents. Also, though she once considered it a burden, Monet is now capable of shifting to and from her deadly Penance form at will. She currently is the co-CXO of X-Corp.
  • SIRYN: The daughter of lauded X-Man Banshee, Theresa Cassidy made a name for herself as a member of X-Factor, making use of the same sonic powers as her father. The current X-Factor team was finally able to free her from the influence of the divine being known as Morrigan, to whom she’d sacrificed to save a fellow mutant.
  • SURGE: One of the most powerful electrokinetics on Krakoa, Noriko Ashida can produce devastating blasts of lightning and move at incredible speeds. She’s poised to team-up with her fellow New X-Men alums to protect the next generation of mutantdom.

Election results, along with the full X-Men team, will be unveiled during the Hellfire Gala in Marvel comics this June.

(12) SUPERMAN IS FEELING BETTER. Kevin Smith chats with Yahoo! Entertainment about his efforts to write a Superman movie in the 1990s. “Kevin Smith’s Superman movie that never was: Filmmaker revisits bonkers ’90s project that nearly starred Sean Penn”.

…Smith’s unfiltered critique and suggestions for for a different direction ultimately landed him an audience with then-studio boss Lorenzo di Bonaventura, who in turn hired Smith to write a new screenplay. Based on DC’s 1992-93 crossover comic event The Death of Superman, the film would be revamped with the title Superman Lives.

But Smith would have to collaborate on the project with producer Jon Peters — and that’s where things got really interesting. Peters had quite a Hollywood trajectory, starting as Barbra Streisand’s hairdresser then becoming her lover and then producing her films, eventually becoming a veritable power player (he’s currently portrayed by Bradley Cooper via a madcap performance in Paul Thomas Anderson’s Licorice Pizza, to give you one perspective on him). In the early ’90s, Peters acquired the film rights to Superman from Warner Bros. and he would have the final say on the new movie.

Smith recalled various visits to Peters’s “gigantic f**king house” where the eccentric producer told Smith they’d make a great Superman movie together because they were “from the streets” (as Smith points out, neither Superman nor Peters nor Smith was from the streets) and insisted Smith read aloud his entire script drafts to Peters while the producer parked himself on a nearby couch….

(13) JEOPARDY! Andrew Porter tuned into tonight’s Jeopardy! where an entire category was devoted to a familiar subject.

Category: Hugo Awards

$1000 clue

This author, Hugo nominated in his 20s for “Babel-17,” has the middle initial “R” for “Ray.” He won a few years later.

Photo shows Delany in whitest photo I’ve ever seen of him.

No one could ask, “Who is Samuel R. Delany?”

(14) AS LONG AS WE’RE IN THE NEIGHBORHOOD. James Davis Nicoll ponders “Five Hypothetical Reasons Aliens Would Bother Visiting Earth”.

…A question that may well occur to our hypothetical aliens: “If humans are willing to use nuclear weapons on each other, what will they do to beings who are not related to them at all?” The worst-case scenario is that the aliens will conclude it’s safest not to find out. That possibility is explored in works like Greg Bear’s The Forge of God, in which what initially appears to be benign first contact very rapidly is revealed as an effort to expunge humans and all our works from the universe before we become a menace to other species….

(15) RUTLAND WEEKEND TELEVISION. “Ichthyosaur: Huge fossilised ‘sea dragon’ found in Rutland reservoir”BBC News has the story.

Rutland is more than thirty miles from the coast, but 200 million years ago higher sea levels meant it was covered by a shallow ocean.

When water levels at the Rutland reservoir were lowered again in the late summer of 2021, a team of palaeontologists came in to excavate the remains. Special attention was paid to the removal of the huge skull.

A large block of clay containing the ichthyosaur’s head was carefully dug out before being covered in plaster and placed on wooden splints.

The block, weighing almost a tonne, was raised out of the mud and will now be examined further.

“It’s not often you are responsible for safely lifting a very important but very fragile fossil weighing that much,” said Nigel Larkin, palaeontological conservator and Visiting Research Fellow at Reading University. “It is a responsibility, but I love a challenge.”

(16) VIDEO OF THE DAY. Marvel is ready for its closeup: “All of the Trick Arrows in Marvel Studios’ Hawkeye!”

All of the trick arrows up close and personal! Greg Steele, VFX Supervisor of Marvel Studios’ Hawkeye talks to Lorraine Cink about how they created all of the arrows in the show, and how they work with the Stunt and Special Effects department to make the show come together.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Andrew Porter, P J Evans, Chris Barkley, Bill, Elektra Hammond, Jon F. Zeigler, Danny Sichel, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, and JJ for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Greg Hullender.]

Pixel Scroll 12/21/21 Pixeland Is The Scrolliest Place On Earth

(1) LET US REMEMBER THE TWENTY-FIRST OF DECEMBER. It’s already dark out! Oh, wait – today’s the Winter Solstice! No wonder. Let NASA Ames Research Center tell you all about it.

(2) RAYTHEON. Social media criticism for DisCon III’s acceptance of Raytheon sponsorship money splashed onto some of the Hugo ceremony participants. The committee issued this statement:

Cora Buhlert commented:

(3) WORLDCON ACCESSIBILITY ISSUES. Mari Ness, who navigates convention space in a wheelchair, summarizes her experiences with DisCon III, which she ultimately decided against attending: “Are we really doing this again? Discon III, accessibility, and genre cons” at Blogging with Dragons.

Discon III turned out to be my worst Worldcon ever – one of my worst genre events, ever.

And I didn’t even go….

(4) THE GAME’S AFOOT. Congratulations to James Nicoll Reviews on posting their 2000th review today: “Just Lots of Little Frames”, about Greg Stafford, Jeff Richard, and Jason Durall’s 2021 The Runequest Starter Set, which is a starter set for Runequest: Roleplaying in Glorantha . As always, the footnotes are great!

(5) FIFTY THOUSAND BEBOP FANS CAN’T BE WRONG. Yahoo!‘s Jeff Yeung has an updated report about the ongoing Cowboy Bebop petition:

Netflix’s recent cancellation of the live-action Cowboy Bebop has left many fans disappointed, and now more than 50,000 of them have signed a petition to bring the show back for a second season.”

“I truly loved working on this,” the show’s co-executive producer Javier Grillo-Marxuach said on Twitter after Netflix’s decision. “It came from a real and pure place of respect and affection. I wish we could make what we planned for a second season, but you know what they say, men plan, God laughs.” He added that the team “had so much cool sh*t planned” for Cowboy Bebop’s second season.”

(6) SUITE MEMORIES. Covert J. Beach gives a full rundown on the party suite he used for his “loosely invitational” parties at DisCon III (which also ended up being the location for the Chengdu Victory Party when “it turned out that the suite that had been earmarked for Chengdu had been given away.”)  

….At over 1800 sqft the Suite was bigger than my Condo, complete with full kitchen (I even baked something) and a full washer-dryer. To do it justice I brought three bags of booze rather than just two, discovering in the process that the Briggs and Riley Baseline Carryon is a fantastic piece of luggage to carry booze. It is the perfect width for most long whisky tins. It took two full trips of the car to move the party kit to the hotel, and two back (the 2nd return load which totally packed the car is picured), with a third supplementary trip each way. I caused a lot of bemusement with the valets.

The Convention had a bartender on tap over zoom so people could get advice on what drinks to make. I hear a number of calls were made from the room in the suite called “The Library” where the bartender was amazed at the variety the Capclave/Balticon Scotch Cabal put together (I don’t bring it all.) Much was drunk….

(7) TOP SHELF. Polygon offers its picks of “The best fantasy and sci-fi books of 2021”. In alphabetical order by author’s last name, so no definitive number one ranking.

…If you love books then you know: They aren’t just escapism, they also inspire introspection, making us think harder about the world we live in. This is precisely the promise of great science fiction and fantasy — categories we’ve chosen to consider in a list together, as fantastic books continue to blur the line between the two speculative genres (and besides, we love to read them all). These 20 books span genres and perspectives — from space operas, to Norse mythology retellings, to romances with a dash of time travel. But all of them gave us something new to consider.

In a year with so many incredible choices, it was hard to narrow down the list. So we’ve also included some of our favorite runners up….

(8) WOMEN OF MARVEL. In March, Women Of Marvel #1 will continue highlighting Marvel’s female heroes in an all-new collection of tales. 

  • A Squirrel Girl and Black Widow team-up against a maniacal villain in a story that explores the complexities of super hero identities by Hugo award winning writer Charlie Jane Anders
  • An action-packed Shanna the She-Devil and Silver Sable short sees the jungle ladies battle against wild animal poachers by award winning video game script writer Rhianna Pratchett
  • A dark Jessica Jones tale of compulsion and redemption from celebrated creator Jordie Bellaire and drawn by rising star Zoe Thorogood
  • A fun-filled page-flipper of Black Cat’s greatest failures and latest triumphes by novelist Preeti Chhibber and superstar artists Jen Bartel, Marguerite Sauvage and more!
  • The Marvel Comics writing debut of artist Mirka Andolfo and much more!

(9) MILAN MEMBER OF JURY IN HIGHLY-PUBLICIZED CASE. [Item by rcade.] The romance novelist Courtney Milan revealed on Twitter that she was a juror in the trial that led to truck driver Rogel Aguilera-Mederos being sentenced to 110 years in prison for the 29-vehicle crash in Colorado that killed four people in 2019. The brakes on his truck failed while he was descending mountains on Interstate 70, leading to the accident after he didn’t veer off into a runaway truck lane.

Milan wrote this on December 14 in tweets she subsequently deleted (Archive.today copy below):

I’m going to write something longer about this, but I just have to say this right now: 110 years is unjust. I feel sick with how unjust this is.

I don’t feel like I can say much right now because my brain keeps stuttering out on this, but my brain will come back online at some point.

I was on the jury in this case and if I had known this was the mandatory minimum for a kid who made some really bad decisions at exactly the wrong time, I would absolutely have engaged in jury nullification.

The severity of the sentence, which must be served consecutively, has brought international attention to the case. A Change.org petition asking Colorado Gov. Jared Polis to grant clemency or a commutation to Aguilera-Mederos has received over 4.5 million signatures.

Before becoming a full-time romance writer, Milan was a law professor at Seattle University School of Law and clerk to Supreme Court justices Sandra Day O’Connor and Anthony Kennedy, according to the Washington Post.

A male juror in the case told Fox 31 the sentence was “100-fold of what it should have been” and had this reaction when it was handed down: “I cried my eyes out.”

(10) STEP RIGHT UP. Signal boosting Connie Willis’ appeal for Locus subscriptions and donations. If she were here she’d say click to support Locus today.

(11) ORENSTEIN OBIT. Inventor Henry Orenstein, responsible for many popular toys including Transformers, died December 14. The New York Times paid tribute: “Henry Orenstein, 98, Dies; Force Behind Transformers and Poker on TV”.

…He refashioned himself as a toy inventor (he held dozens of patents) and broker. During the Toy Fair in Manhattan in the early 1980s, he saw a Japanese-made toy — a tiny car that could easily change into an airplane — and recognized more elaborate possibilities.

“He started playing with it and said, ‘This is the best thing I’ve seen in at least 10 years,’” recalled Mrs. Orenstein, who, as Carolyn Sue Vankovich, met her future husband in 1967 when she was demonstrating Suzy Homemaker at the Toy Fair. “He had the sparkle he got when he got excited.”

Mr. Orenstein put together a deal between Hasbro and the Japanese manufacturer, Takara, which led to Hasbro’s introduction in 1984 of Transformers, toy robots that could turn into vehicles or beasts. They would become hugely popular, spawning an animated television series and a movie franchise.

“Ideas don’t come in little pieces,” Mr. Orenstein told Newsweek in 2016. “It’s in, it’s out. It’s there or it’s not,” he said. “I was just an inventor. You needed a big company to do what I thought should be done: making real transformations from complex things to other complex things.”…

(12) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

1965 [Item by Cat Eldridge.] ?Fifty-six years ago one of the best Bond films premiered in the form of Thunderball. Directed by Terence Young, it was the fourth Bond film off a  screenplay by Richard Maibaum and John Hopkins off yet another Fleming novel. The original screenplay was by Jack Whittingham but it wasn’t used. 

Need I say that Sean Connery plays Bond here? Well this will be only the first time that Connery plays Bond based off this novel as he’ll play him in Never Say Never Again which was executive produced by Kevin McClory, one of the original writers of the Thunderball story. McClory had the filming rights of the novel following a very long legal battle dating from the Sixties.

Reception from critics was decidedly mixed but Dilys Powell of The Sunday Times said that “The cinema was a duller place before 007.”  The box office was fantastic as it earned out one hundred and forty million against a budget of under ten million. Audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes currently give it a rather excellent seventy-three percent rating. 

(13) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born December 21, 1898 Hubert Rogers. Illustrator during the Golden Age of pulp magazines. His first freelance work was for Ace-HighAdventureRomance, and West. In ‘42, he started doing covers for Astounding Science Fiction which he would do until ‘53. He did the cover art for the ‘51 edition of The Green Hills of Earth, the ‘50 edition of The Man Who Sold the Moon and the ‘53 edition of Revolt in 2100. (Died 1982.)
  • Born December 21, 1928 Frank Hampson. A British illustrator that is best known as the creator and artist of Dan Dare, Pilot of The Future and other characters in the boys’ comic, The Eagle, to which he contributed from 1950 to 1961. There is some dispute over how much his original scripts were altered by his assistants before being printed. (Died 1985.)
  • Born December 21, 1929 James Cawthorn. An illustrator, comics artist and writer who worked predominantly with Michael Moorcock. He had met him through their involvement in fandom. They would co-wrote The Land that Time Forgot film, and he drew “The Sonic Assassins” strip which was based on Hawkwind that ran in Frendz. He also did interior and cover art for a number of publications from the Fifties onwards including (but not limited to) Vector 3New Worlds SFScience Fantasy and Yandro. (Died 2008.)
  • Born December 21, 1937 Jane Fonda, 84. I’m sure everyone here has seen her in Barbarella. Her only other genre appearances are apparently voice work as Shuriki in the animated Elena of Avalor series, and in the Spirits of the Dead, 1968 anthology film based on the work of Poe. She was the Contessa Frederique de Metzengerstein in the “Metzengerstein” segment of the film.  
  • Born December 21, 1948 Samuel L. Jackson, 73. Where to start? Did you know that with his permission, his likeness was used for the Ultimates version of the Nick Fury? It’s a great series btw. He has also played Fury in the Iron ManIron Man 2, Thor, Captain America: The First AvengerThe AvengersCaptain America: The Winter SoldierAvengers: Age of Ultron and Avengers: Infinity War and showed up on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. too! He voiced Lucius Best (a.k.a. Frozone) in the Incredibles franchise, Mace Windu in The Phantom Menace and The Clone Wars, the Afro Samurai character in the anime series of the same name and more other genre work than can be listed here comfortably so go ahead and add your favorite role by him.
  • Born December 21, 1943 Jack Nance. Let’s just say he and David Lynch were rather connected. He’s in Henry Spencer in Eraserhead, he had a small role as the Harkonnen Captain Iakin Nefud in Dune and he’s Pete Martell in Twin Peaks. He’s also a supporting role as Paul, a friend of Dennis Hopper’s villain character in Blue Velvet but even I couldn’t stretch that film to be even genre adjacent. (Died 1996.)
  • Born December 21, 1944 James Sallis, 77. Ok he’d be getting a Birthday today if only for his SJW cred of giving up teaching at a college rather than sign a state-mandated loyalty oath that he regarded as unconstitutional. But he also does have a short SFF novel Renderings more short fiction that I can count, a book review column in F&SF and he co-edited several issues of New Worlds Magazine with Michael Moorcock.  Worthy of a Birthday write-up! 
  • Born December 21, 1966 Kiefer Sutherland, 55. My he’s been in a lot of genre undertakings! I think that The Lost Boys was his first such of many to come including FlatlinersTwin Peaks: Fire Walk with MeThe Three Musketeers, voice work in Armitage: Poly-MatrixDark City, more voice work in The Land Before Time X: The Great Longneck Migration, Marmaduke and Dragonlance: Dragons of Autumn TwilightMirrors, and yes, he’s in the second Flatliners as a new character. 

(14) COMICS SECTION.

  • Tom Gauld’s alternate history drives the world of a well-known Christmas carol.

(15) SWEDEN ACQUIRES A STEED. “Dark Horse Comics to Be Acquired by Gaming Giant Embracer Group”The Hollywood Reporter has the story.

Dark Horse Comics properties such as Hellboy and The Umbrella Academy are finding a new home. The indie comics publisher has agreed to be sold to Embracer Group, the Swedish video game conglomerate. The deal is expected to close in early 2022….

(16) THE RAIN IN NEW SPAIN STAYS THE LAUNCH AGAIN. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] Astronomers have once again been told they must wait a bit to open their Big Present—launch of the James Webb space telescope. The latest, and hopefully the last, delay has pushed the launch until Christmas day. This one-day delay is due to expected advert weather conditions. “Delay pushes NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope launch to Christmas morning” at CNN.

The highly anticipated launch of the James Webb Space Telescope has been delayed yet again — this time because of interference by Mother Nature.

Now, the telescope is expected to launch on December 25 from Europe’s Spaceport in French Guiana.

The launch window opens Christmas morning at 7:20 a.m. ET and closes at 7:52 a.m. ET. Live coverage of the launch will stream on NASA’s TV channel and website beginning Saturday at 6 a.m.

The news of adverse weather conditions came shortly after NASA shared that the Launch Readiness Review for the telescope was completed on Tuesday….

(17) ABOUT THE WESTERN SPELLING OF A CHENGDU GOH’S NAME. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] Given the fuss some make over pronunciation, I am a little reluctant to wade in here (though I have lost count of the number of times my own name has been mispronounced, misspelled and even an alternate used (well, this last is a bit debatable but suffice to say my first name is not the one I am commonly known as – and no it wasn’t my choice).)  There are simply far more important things to get exercised about: human rights, political rights (*cough* Hong Kong) and climate change to name but a few.  Anyway…

How do you spell Sergei Lukyanenko / Lukianenko?  Well, conversions to the Latin alphabet are always problematic. I do not know about the US, but here in Brit Cit William Heinemann published Sergei Lukyanenko’s Night Watch series.  If that is his commonly-used publishing name in the West then arguably it would be best to use that so that folk can internet search out his work.

(18) LIFE IMITATES ART. You know the humorous motorcade bits that interrupted the Hugo Awards ceremony? Well, Andrew Porter did not have to leave Washington without seeing the real thing. Here’s his photo of a motorcade taken from his Shoreham Hotel window. 

Photo by and (c) Andrew Porter

(19) IN BEAUTIFUL BURBANK. “The Mystic Museum In Southern California Is Full Of Fascinating Oddities And Vintage Items”Only In Your State’s article includes a photo gallery.

The Mystic Museum is a small museum dedicated to the occult, paranormal, mysticism, and horror. If you find yourself fascinated by the macabre, then consider it the place for you!

(20) HOLIDAY WHO. [Item by Ben Bird Person.] Artist/illustrator Colin Howard did this piece on the 2003 animated Doctor Who serial “Scream of the Shalka”:

(21) THE OTHER GRAND CANYON. Microsoft News for Kids reports: “Orbiter discovers ‘significant amounts of water’ in Grand Canyon-like area of Mars”.

A researcher orbiter circling around Mars has discovered “significant amounts of water” underneath the surface of an area on the red planet similar to the Grand Canyon, according to the European Space Agency.

The orbiter, the ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter, was launched by the European Space Agency along with the Russian Space Agency in 2016 and has been orbiting Mars ever since, with the goal of learning more about the gases and the possibility of life on the planet.

Recently, the orbiter was scanning an area of Mars called Valles Marineris, using the Fine Resolution Epithermal Neutron Detector instrument, or FREND, which can detect hydrogen on and up to 3 feet underneath Mars’ soil.

The Valles Marineris is a 2,500-mile-long canyon on Mars with parts that are 4 miles deep. Not only is it 10 times longer and 4 times deeper than the Grand Canyon, but the Valles Marineris’ length is nearly as long as the entire United States.

Data collected from the instrument from May 2018 to Feb. 2021 showed the middle part of the canyon contained a large amount of water, indicating some form of life could possibly be sustained. The findings were published in the solar system journal Icarus on Wednesday…. 

(22) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In “Spider Man: No Way Home Pitch Meeting” on Screen Rant, Ryan George, in a spoiler-filled episode, has the producer watch the five Spider-Man movies before Tom Holland shows up so he can understand the many special guest stars in this one.  “How are we going to market this film without revealing all the crazy stuff?” the producer asks.  “Leaks!” the writer says.

[Thanks to Andrew Porter, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, Ben Bird Person, rcade, Bonnie McDaniel, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Soon Lee.]

Pixel Scroll 12/19/21 Who Put The Clarke In The Rama Lama File Scroll?

(1) THE HUGO RUNOFFS. The Hugo Awards official site has the 2021 voting results online. (But you already know that, right?)

  • Final ballot placements and detailed voting counts are available here (PDF).
  • Nominating details are here (PDF).

(2) CRUNCHING THE NUMBERS. Nicholas Whyte’s “2021 Hugos in detail” gives his analysis of the voting statistics released after last night’s ceremony. Here’s a narrative hook for you –

Four categories saw the total number of votes for finalists other than No Award dip below 30% of the total poll – Best Fan Writer (28.8%), Best Professional Editor (Long Form) (28.2%), Best Fanzine (27.2%), and Best Fancast (26.8%). Best Fancast was within 43 votes of not being awarded at all, due to dropping below the 25% threshold….

His comments on the Best Related Work category include:

Unusually, DisCon 3 published No Award runoff figures for every place in every category (the constitution only specifies that this should be done in determining the winner). The numbers for No Award here were particularly high in the last four places, with 358 preferring No Award to 753 who preferred George R. R. Martin Can Fuck Off Into the Sun….

Pat Cadigan shared her opinion of the result in that category with her Facebook readers.  

Also relieved that the tirade against George RR Martin did not win the Hugo. I am still baffled as to how a screed like that could have been nominated in a category that has included complex, book-length works of biography, scholarship, art, and other far more worthy examples of associated work.

I don’t care what you think of George RR Martin. I don’t care if you think the author was right. That’s not my point. A blog entry or single article is not in any way equivalent to the winner, which is a translation of Beowulf by Maria Dhavana Headley. Translating requires a lot more care, actual knowledge, and hard work than merely venting your spleen.

That would-be polemic was the Donald Trump of Hugo nominations: unworthy.

(3) MASQUERADE PHOTOS. Kevin Roche responded to a request in comments for links to DisCon III Masquerade photos.

(4) CAVALCADE OF FORMER CHAIRS. The 2021 Worldcon Chairs Photo Session is online at YouTube. Nearly all of those present at DisCon III made it to the session. Also includes current chair Mary Robinette Kowal, and a Chengdu representative.

The traditional gathering of chairs of the World Science Fiction Convention, held at DisCon III, the 79th World Science Fiction Convention, in Washington DC. Videography by Lisa Hayes.

(5) CORRECTION TO DISCON III ART SHOW SALES. “DisCon III regrets that there was an error in how sales tax was calculated for sales in the Art Show,” says today’s news release:

Instead of the correct 6% rate, it was being calculated as 10%. If you were mischarged, we are providing you two options. 

(1) You can consider the additional 4% as a bonus to the artist. We will pay the correct sales tax amount to the District of Columbia, with all of the remaining amount going to the artist.

(2) You can request a refund of the 4% overcharge by sending an email to finance@discon3.org. Please submit your request by Wednesday, December 29 as we cannot pay the artists for their sales until we know the amount due them. If you have any questions or concerns about this issue, also address them to the Finance team.

(6) THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN. Kevin Standlee reports in “Worldcon 2021 Day 4: Final Business Meeting Results” what the meeting decided about seven new amendments to the WSFS Constitution that were taken up after the Site Selection report was made at Saturday’s business meeting. You can read the text of items F.1 to F.7 in the business meeting Agenda on pages 36-41. See Kevin’s post for his commentary about the proceedings.

  • F.1 One Episode per Series –– failed on a show of hands
  • F.2 30 Days Hath New Business — passed 34-15.
  • F.3 The Statue of Liberty Play — passed on a show of hands.
  • F.4 Shut Up and Take My Money — referred to a special committee 
  • F.5 A Matter of Days — adopted by unanimous consent
  • F.6 Non-transferrability of Voting Rights — adopted on a 35-22 vote
  • F.7 Best Audiobook — referred the proposal to the Hugo Awards Study Committee on a vote by show of hands.

(7) WHICH ONE IS THE FILER? Andrew (not Werdna) assures us, “I’m the non-Narn in this picture.” But he also knew that merely saying we could tell who he was by his distinctive headgear wasn’t going to be enough: “I was right — I ran into another guy with a button covered bucket hat.”

(8) RAYTHEON PRESENCE AT HUGOS. Gizmodo’s Justin Carter used his platform to presume that his opinion represents all fans’ opinions: “The Hugo Awards Face Backlash for Raytheon Sponsorship”.  But it’s true that some are protesting the decision.

…At time of writing, DisCon has yet to speak on the partnership with Raytheon for the event. For now, fans are left feeling soured that a night that should’ve been about a genre they loved had to brush up against a reality they hate.

(9) YOUR TURN IN THE BARREL. Amber Benson advises SFWA Blog readers about “Managing A Creator’s Public Profile and Navigating Audience Entitlement”.

….What happens when you step out of fandom into the pole position? A.k.a., ‘I’ve written a thing and it’s been published and now people are talking about it and me on the internet’?

Well, I’m not going to lie. You may be in for a very overwhelming and unsettling experience. Because all those feelings of ownership you had as a fan, well, they are now going to be applied to you and your work. By people you have never met before who have no compunction about @replying to you on social media in order to say mean things about you.

To a lot of these people, you have ceased to be a real live human being with feelings. You are now a “public figure” and that comes with many caveats, including being physically and emotionally vulnerable in a way that fans, with their ability to remain anonymous, are not. It also means you will be open to ridicule, judgement, and disdain online (and sometimes to your face). In balance, you will also be loved, put on a pedestal, and maybe even called a “genius.”

You and your work now belong to the world at large. And that world contains three kinds of people: fans who love what you create, critics who hate your output—and everyone else in the world who could give a crap that you make art. And between you and me, I’m not sure what’s more painful: the armchair critics who think you stink (at least they’re thinking about you) or the fact that 90 percent of the world, upon hearing your name, will only mutter: Who . . . ?

So how do you handle all of the attention—both positive, negative, and ambivalent—when you finally put your work out into this very complicated world? I have my thoughts on the subject and I will share them with you below….

(10) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

1938 [Item by Cat Eldridge.] Eighty-three years ago, Hercule Poirot’s Christmas was first published by the Collins Crime Club. In the States, it bore first the title of Murder for Christmas and later A Holiday fur Murder when published in paperback.

Critics generally thought it was one of her best mysteries. The New York Times Book Review critic Issac Anderson said of it that “Poirot has solved some puzzling mysteries in his time, but never has his mighty brain functioned more brilliantly than in Murder for Christmas.”

The story was adapted for television in an episode of Agatha Christie’s Poirot starring David Suchet as Hercule Poirot, first aired in the UK on Christmas 1994. The BBC has produced it twice for radio with it first being broadcast on Christmas Eve 1975 with John Moffatt as Hercule Poirot. A second production was broadcast on Christmas Eve 1986 featuring Peter Sallis as Poirot. 

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born December 19, 1902 Sir Ralph Richardson. God in Time Bandits but also Earl of Greystoke in Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan, Lord of the Apes (which gets a remarkably great rating at Rotten Tomatoes in my opinion) and Chief Rabbit in Watership Down. Also the Head Librarian in Rollerball which I’ll admit I’ve never seen and have no desire to do so. And a caterpillar in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. And Satan in the Tales from the Crypt film. Oh, my he has had an interesting genre film career! (Died 1983.)
  • Born December 19, 1952 Linda Woolverton, 69. She’s the first woman to have written a Disney animated feature, Beauty and the Beast, which was the first animated film ever to be nominated for Best Picture at the Academy Awards. She also co-wrote The Lion King screenplay (along with Irene Mecchi and Jonathan Roberts). 
  • Born December 19, 1960 Dave Hutchinson, 61. Best known for his Fractured Europe series which won a BSFA Award for the third novel, Europe in WinterEurope at Midnight was nominated for a John W. Campbell Memorial Award and the Clarke as well. I’ve listened to the entire series and it’s quite fascinating. He’s got some other genre fiction as well but I’ve not delved into any of those yet. 
  • Born December 19, 1961 Matthew Waterhouse, 60. He’s best known as Adric, companion to the Fourth and Fifth Doctors. He was the youngest actor in that role at the time. And yes, he too shows up in The Five(ish) Doctors Reboot. Theatre wise, he’s appeared in productions of Peter PanA Midsummer Night’s Dream (as Puck), The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe and Hamlet. Oddly enough, he’s not, to my knowledge, done any Who work at Big Finish.
  • Born December 19, 1969 Kristy Swanson, 53. Her first starring genre  film role was in Wes Craven’s Deadly Friend, but no doubt her best known genre role was as the original Buffy the Vampire Slayer. She also shows up in Alfred Hitchcock PresentsThe PhantomNot Quite Human and The Black Hole. For the record, I like her version of Buffy the Vampire Slayer! 
  • Born December 19, 1972 Alyssa Milano, 49. Phoebe Halliwell in the long running original Charmed series. Other genre appearances include on Outer Limits, the second Fantasy Island series, Embrace of the VampireDouble Dragon, the Young Justice animated series as the voice of Poison Ivy and more voice work in DC’s The Spectre excellent animated short as a spoiled rich young thing with a murderous vent who comes to a most fitting and quite bloody end.
  • Born December 19, 1975 Brandon Sanderson, 46. He is best known for the Cosmere universe, in which most of his fantasy novels, the Mistborn series and The Stormlight Archive, which was nominatedfor a Best Series Hugo at Worldcon 76, are set. He finished Jordan’s Wheel of Time series. He’s got several Hugos, both at LoneStarCon 3 for his “The Emperor’s Soul” novella and also for a Best Related Work Hugo for Writing Excuses, Season Seven
  • Born December 19, 1979 Robin Sloan, 42. Author of Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore which definitely has fantasy elements in it and is a damn fine read. His second novel which he sent me to consider reviewing, Sourdough or, Lois and Her Adventures in the Underground Market, is also probably genre adjacent but is also weirdly about food as well. And he’s a really nice person.

(12) COMICS SECTION.

(13) YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED. Edd Lai is the guy – “Guy Creates Terrifying Comics That Don’t End as You’d Expect” at Pupperish.

Over the last decade or so there has been a good selection of web comics that tell some brilliant stories in a variety of different art styles. From Shen to Yehuda Devir, these brilliant comics have gained a bunch of recognition. One artist named Edd Lai has made some uplifting comics that set themselves up as horror comics and surprise you with their endings. Here are a selection of these brilliant comics. Let’s give them the recognition they deserve.

(14) WHERE IS IT? We’ve heard of unwritten codes – now Marvel gives us non-written codes. So to speak: “Marvel Comics Overhauls Digital Copy Redemption Program” at CBR.com.

Readers were taken aback this week when Marvel’s new releases did not include the traditional stickers in them that can be removed to reveal a special code that can be used to redeem a digital copy of the issue online using the Marvel Comics app. When someone inquired with Marvel as to whether it was simply a printing error, a Marvel representative revealed that it was not.

The representative explained, “Hi, Chris. It’s not a misprint, but a process update. Please follow the instructions on that code page, they will tell you step-by-step how to get codes for your comics, and any other details you need to know. Thanks!”

…If customers just have to go through a different system to get the same digital copies, this is not that significant, but fans are naturally wondering whether this is the first step towards once again stopping the digital redemption program.

(15) WITHOUT LIMITS. James Davis Nicoll tells Tor.com readers about “5 Stories in Which Great Power Is Not Always Used Responsibly”.

Imagine, if you will, that fate has imbued you with extraordinary power. Would you use that power responsibly? Would you even know what “responsibly” means? It’s easy to set out with the best of intentions, only to discover too late one has fallen into profound error. Consider these five novels.

(16) TIMELESS. [Item by Hampus Eckerman.] Not sure why this movie about a man travelling in time to celebrate Christmas in the year 2020 is listed as a Comedy. A tragedy seems more fitting. IMDb listing for the Hallmark Channel’s A Timeless Christmas.

Charles Whitley travels from 1903 to 2020 where he meets Megan Turner and experiences a 21st Century Christmas.

(17) TOP DOLLAR. An Edward Gorey illustration for a Frank Belknap Long sff collection set an auction record. Goreyana has the story: “A New Record for Gorey Art at Auction”.

…This was followed shortly thereafter by a new record auction price for original artwork by Edward Gorey – $27,500.00 (hammer price plus buyer’s premium) for a 1964  pen & ink book cover design for The Dark Beasts, a paperback collection of stories by Frank Belknap Long (this piece has not been added to my collection)….

(18) LOAD THE CANON. StarWars.com tells comics fans to mark the date: “Marvel’s Han Solo & Chewbacca Series Coming March 2022”.

The galaxy’s greatest smuggler and his Wookiee co-pilot are taking on a new job: starring in their own comic.

Han Solo & Chewbacca, a new series from Marvel, will launch in March 2022, StarWars.com can exclusively reveal. Written by Marc Guggenheim and pencilled by David Messina, the monthly comic follows Han and Chewie a few years before the events of Star Wars: A New Hope, as the duo teams up with Greedo — in better times, apparently — on a heist for Jabba the Hutt….

 The comic’s writer does a Q&A in the post:

…StarWars.com: And Chewie?

Marc Guggenheim: Chewbacca’s been alive hundreds of years longer than Han. He tries to offer Han the benefit of his experience, to offer a more evolved perspective on things, but Han usually goes his own way. And the thing is, Chewie is just fine with that. He’s good to go with the flow and let Han call the shots because he knows that, no matter what, Han’s got his back. Chewie’s an interesting character to write, obviously, because he only speaks Shyriiwook, so a lot of this I have to get out by dint of the circumstances Han and Chewie find themselves in, as well as Han’s reactions to what Chewie is saying.

I’m gonna be doing a future issue exclusively from Chewbacca’s point of view, so that should be a lot of fun. Hopefully, we can get into Chewie’s head in a way we never have seen before….

(19) STARSHIP TITANIC. Michael Palin’s Starship Titanic is available to listen to at BBC Radio 4 beginning today. It will be online for another 29 days.

Michael Palin stars in an exclusive adaptation of Terry Jones’s comic novel. A tale of interstellar skulduggery, romance and unhinged robots based in Douglas Adams’s universe.

Far off in the centre of one of the less well-chartered quadrants of the universe, a vast civilisation is preparing to launch the most technologically advanced starship ever – Starship Titanic While the galaxy’s media looks on, it unfortunately undergoes SMEF (Spontaneous Massive Existence Failure) and disappears. Leovinus, the designer of the ship, uncovers shoddy workmanship, poor cybernetics and a series of increasingly eccentric robots. The owners, Scraliontis and Brobostigan, were intent on destroying the ship and claiming the insurance.

Meanwhile in Oxfordshire, four humans are inspecting a property they intend buying, only to see it crushed under the re-materialising Starship. This disaster is swiftly followed by an invitation from an over-attentive robot to come aboard, and Lucy, Dan and Nettie are catapulted into a series of increasingly bizarre encounters.

Stylistically emulating the work of the great Douglas Adams in Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, the late Terry Jones weaves a fabulously mad and comic tale, adapted by Ian Billings and directed by Dirk Maggs, who also directed the last four editions of the Hitchhiker’s sagas.

VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] Last night’s Saturday Night Live was mostly repeats because of Covid.  They rebroadcast a 1991 holiday special on global warming featuring Tom Hanks as Dean Martin and Mike Myers as Carl Sagan.  The news is that Isaac Asimov was a character, played by Phil Hartman (who arrives at the 5:00-minute mark). I thought George RR Martin was the only sf writer parodied on SNL, but Asimov was caricatured at least once.

[Thanks to JJ, John King Tarpinian, Andrew Porter, Sheila Addison, Dann, Nicholas Whyte, Andrew (not Werdna), Kevin Roche, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, and Martin Morse Wooster for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Jim Janney.]

Pixel Scroll 12/11/21 The Scroll In The High Pixel

(1) REACHING OUT. Kate Elliott distills her sff experience into a Twitter thread, which starts here.

(2) COWBOY BEBOP. [Item by Ben Bird Person.] Science fiction author Wesley Chu (The Lives Of TaoThe Walking Dead: Typhoon) posted this “hot take” on Twitter:

He followed it up with a link to the petition “Save the live action Cowboy Bebop” posted in yesterday’s Pixel Scroll: “Make me a prophet, friends! Sign the petition to save Cowboy Bebop.” The petition now has over 2,000 signatures.

(3) IN AND OUT OF FLUX. Camestros Felapton, in “Review: Doctor Who Flux”, assesses how nu-Who’s thirteenth season with the Thirteenth Doctor wrapped up. Beware spoilers!

…So where does that leave Flux and why was it not so terrible despite all that? As I’ve joked before, it was a shaggy-dog story where lots of things happen but most of it doesn’t really matter. Events strung together but without a substantial narrative arc can be entertaining. These kinds of “just a bunch of stuff that happened” plots make millions when they are Fast & Furious movies. I don’t know what the first big example of this approach is but I suspect that is the James Bond film You Only Live Twice which makes not a bit of sense but has so many memorable fragments that it feels like it has a story there. F&F is worse to some degree because that narrative fragmentation splits over multiple films i.e. I can remember lots of scenes from those movies but I have to actively think about elements to work out which film it was from (at least from about F&F5)….

(4) SIGNING OFF. “Nichelle Nichols Appears for Final Comic-Con Events in L.A. amid Conservatorship Battle” reports Yahoo!

…Nichelle Nichols, one of the stars of the original Star Trek series and a pioneering recruiter of women and minorities for America’s space program, made her final convention appearance before her many fans as part of a three-day farewell celebration at L.A. Comic-Con over the weekend.

Best known for playing communications officer Nyota Uhura aboard the starship Enterprise, the iconic actress, singer and dancer — who turns 89 on Dec. 28 — signed autographs, posed for photos and attended an early birthday celebration, where she briefly but joyfully kicked up her heels and danced. Nichols was also the subject of tribute panels throughout the convention, though she did not make any public statements.

An active figure on stage, TV and music since the early 1960s, Nichols’ public and professional life has been slowed since she was diagnosed with dementia in 2018, and she has also been at the center of a conservatorship battle. However, she was all smiles during her many appearances on her retirement tour at Comic-Con LA. Nichols was seen waving, blowing kisses and flashing Star Trek‘s famous Vulcan salute to the many fans who turned out to bid her farewell….

(5) FROM THE ARCHIVES. [Item by Bill.] Metafilter just finished a series of posts over the last week in which highlighted “short speculative fiction stories published by online magazines that are no longer publishing, or that are on hiatus, but whose interesting archives remain online” — Posts tagged with magazinearchives / MetaFilter.

(6) PRAISING WITH FAINT DAMS. Is James Davis Nicoll’s Young People Read Old SFF panel impressed by this Lafferty Hugo-winner? Please…stop laughing.

This month’s Young People Read Old Hugo Winners presented me with a dilemma. “Eurema’s Dam” by R. A. Lafferty shared the 1973 Hugo for Best Short Story with “The Meeting” by C. M. Kornbluth and Frederik Pohl. How to choose between two works the voters found worthy? The answer, it seems, was in having read “The Meeting”, which is about commandeering a developmentally deficient child’s body so the body can house the brain of a superior child. Since I don’t actively dislike my Young People, I went with the story I didn’t remember anything about, a story that only might annoy them, rather than the story I remembered all too well and was absolutely certain would enrage them.

R. A. Lafferty was a beloved author of whimsical fantasies. My brain lacks the proper receptors and I don’t see the appeal. I am aware I am in the minority here. Perhaps my Young People will see the virtues in Lafferty’s writing to which I am blind. Let’s find out! 

(7) TIME AFTER TIME. The latest episode of CSI Skill Tree, a series on videogames, worldbuilding, storytelling, and possible futures, is focused on the 2019 game Outer Wilds, about unraveling the mysteries of a solar system caught in a time loop. The guests are game director and designer Randy Smith (Thief series, Waking MarsJETT: The Far Shore) and Luc Riesbeck, a space policy and research analyst at Astroscale U.S.

(8) FUTURE SEASON’S GREETINGS. The Bristol Board has copies of the original space-themed covers by Frank R. Paul for the Christmas issues of Forecast, Hugo Gernsback’s radio and electronics magazine of the Fifties and Sixties. Here’s an example.

(9) THANKS FOR THE MEMORY HOLE. “Feminist retelling of Nineteen Eighty-Four approved by Orwell’s estate” – the Guardian has the story.

The estate of George Orwell has approved a feminist retelling of Nineteen Eighty-Four, which reimagines the story from the perspective of Winston Smith’s lover Julia.

… Publisher Granta said that Julia understands the world of Oceania “far better than Winston and is essentially happy with her life”. As Orwell puts it in Nineteen Eighty-Four, “in some ways she was far more acute than Winston, and far less susceptible to Party propaganda … She also stirred a sort of envy in him by telling him that during the Two Minutes Hate her great difficulty was to avoid bursting out laughing. But she only questioned the teachings of the Party when they in some way touched upon her own life. Often she was ready to accept the official mythology, simply because the difference between truth and falsehood did not seem important to her.”

“She has known no other world and, until she meets Winston, never imagined one. She’s opportunistic, believing in nothing and caring not at all about politics. She routinely breaks the rules but also collaborates with the regime whenever necessary. She’s an ideal citizen of Oceania,” said Granta. “But when one day, finding herself walking toward Winston Smith in a long corridor, she impulsively hands him a note – a potentially suicidal gesture – she comes to realise that she’s losing her grip and can no longer safely navigate her world.”

Orwell’s estate said it had been “looking for some time” for an author to tell the story of Smith’s lover, and that Newman, who has previously been longlisted for the Women’s prize and shortlisted for the Guardian first book award, “proved to be the perfect fit”…

(10) WHO DREW. [Item by Ben Bird Person.] Artist Colin Howard who did book and VHS covers for Doctor Who in the 1980s-1990s has announced a new art book: Timeslides: The Doctor Who Artwork of Colin Howard.

Colin Howard’s art graced the covers of around thirty VHS releases, and for the first time ever, they’re collected together in Timeslides: The Doctor Who Art of Colin Howard

Join Colin as he opens his personal archive and takes you on a tour of his Doctor Who universe – from iconic videos to book covers, from illustrations to private commissions. Featuring original sketches, unpublished designs, and a fascinating commentary, Timeslides takes you further behind the scenes than ever before.

(11) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

1992 [Item by Cat Eldridge.] Twenty-nine years ago, The Muppet Christmas Carol premiered as directed by Brian Henson (in his feature film directorial debut) from the screenplay by Jerry Juhl. Based amazingly faithfully off that story, it starred Michael Caine as Ebenezer Scrooge with a multitude of Muppet performers, to wit Dave Goelz, Steve Whitmire, Ed Sanders, Jerry Nelson, Theo Sanders, Kristopher Milnes, Russell Martin, Ray Coulthard  and Frank Oz. I must single out Jessica Fox as the voice of Ghost of Christmas Past. 

Following Jim Henson’s death in May 1990, the talent agent Bill Haber had approached Henson’s son Brian with the idea of filming an adaptation. It was pitched to ABC as a television film, but Disney ended up purchasing it instead. That’s why it’s only available on Disney+ these days. 

Critics in general liked it with Roger Ebert being among them though he added that it “could have done with a few more songs than it has, and the merrymaking at the end might have been carried on a little longer, just to offset the gloom of most of Scrooge’s tour through his lifetime spent spreading misery.” (Those songs were by Paul Williams, another one of his collaborations with the Jim Henson Company after working on The Muppet Movie.) Box office wise, it did just ok as it made twenty-seven million against production costs of twelve million, not counting whatever was spent on marketing. And audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes currently give it a rather ungloomy rating of eighty-eight percent.

(12) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born December 11, 1926 Dick Tufeld. He’s best known, or at least best recognized, as the voice of the Robot on Lost in Space, a role he reprises in the feature film. The first words heard on Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea are spoken by him: “This is the Seaview, the most extraordinary submarine in all the seven seas.” He’s been the opening announcer on Spider-Man and His Amazing FriendsSpider-WomanThundarr the BarbarianFantastic Four and the Time Tunnel. (Died 2012.)
  • Born December 11, 1945 Zienia Merton. She’s best remembered for playing Sandra Benes in Space: 1999. She played Ping-Cho during a series of First Doctor stories. She had roles on Dinotopia, the Sarah Jane Adventures and Wizards vs. Aliens. (Died 2018.)
  • Born December 11, 1944 Teri Garr, 77. A long history of genre film roles starting in Young Frankenstein as Inga before next appearing in Close Encounters of the Third Kind as Ronnie Neary. Next is the horror film Witches’ Brew where she was Margaret Lightman. She voices Mary McGinnis in Batman Beyond: The Movie, a role she has does on a recurring basis in the series. Series wise, shows up uncredited in the Batman series in the “Instant Freeze” as the Girl Outside the Rink. And of course, she’s Roberta Lincoln in Star Trek’s “Assignment Earth” episode. (I once found a site that the spin-off series had actually been made.) She has a number of other genre roles, none as interesting as that one. 
  • Born December 11, 1954 Richard Paul Russo, 67. Winner of two Philip Dick Awards, first for Subterranean Gallery, and later for Ship of Fools. Subterranean Gallery was also nominated for a Clarke Award. He apparently stopped writing genre fiction quite some time ago. 
  • Born December 11, 1957 William Joyce, 64. Author of the YA series Guardians of Childhood which is currently at twenty books and growing. Now I’ve no interest in reading them but Joyce and Guillermo del Toro turned the early ones into in a rather splendid Rise of the Guardians film which I enjoyed quite a bit. The antagonist in it reminds me somewhat of a villain later on In Willingham’s Fables series called Mr. Dark. 
  • Born December 11, 1959 M. Rickert, 62. Short story writer par excellence. She’s got three collections to date, Map of Dreams which won a World Fantasy Award, Holiday and You Have Never Been Here. Her two novels The Little Witch and The Shipbuilder of Bellfairie are most excellent, and are available from the usual digital suspects.  Her collections unfortunately are not. 
  • Born December 11, 1962 Ben Browder, 59. Actor of course best known for his roles as John Crichton in Farscape and Cameron Mitchell in Stargate SG-1.  One of my favorite roles by him was his voicing of Bartholomew Aloysius “Bat” Lash in Justice League Unlimited called “The Once and Future Thing, Part 1”. He’d have an appearance as sheriff in the Eleventh Doctor story, “A Town Called Mercy”, a Weird Western of sorts.
  • Born December 11, 1965 Sherrilyn Kenyon, 56. Best known for her Dark Hunter series which runs to around thirty volumes now.  I realize in updating this birthday note that I indeed have read this first several of these and they were damn good. She’s got The League series as well which appears to be paranormal romance, and a Lords of Avalon series too under the pen name of Kinley MacGregor. She has won two World Fantasy Awards, one for her short story, “Journey Into the Kingdom”, and one for her short story collection, Map of Dreams

(13) COMICS SECTION.

(14) FOR YOUR WISHLIST. Connie Willis wrote a long Facebook post hawking her American Christmas Stories collection.

…Stefanie Peters and David Cloyce Smith and the other editors at Library of America did all the heavy lifting, scouring all sorts of obscure books and magazines, finding thousands of stories for us to choose from, and getting all the necessary permissions and releases. All I did was read a bunch of stories, suggest some stories they’d missed, and write the introduction.)

Between us, we found mysteries, horror stories, Westerns, science-fiction stories, ghost stories, police procedurals, and fantasies, stories by famous authors like Bret Harte and John Updike and stories by writers you’ve never heard of, like Pauline Hopkins and John Kendrick Bangs. Stories by African-American authors writing in the post-Civil War South, by Chinese-American authors writing about California’s Chinatown, by authors of vastly different backgrounds writing about Alaskan and Puerto Rican and Nebraska Christmases.

And we found stories written in all different keys, from cynicism to sentimentality, from nostalgia to urban angst. And comedy. So many Christmas collections focus solely on serious or uplifting stories, but humor’s been a staple of the American Christmas story since Mark Twain and William Dean Howells, and I was really happy we were able to include humorous stories by Shirley Jackson, Robert Benchley, Leo Rosten, Joan Didion, and Damon Runyon.

(Especially Damon Runyon. We would have included all his Christmas stories if we’d had room, and all of O. Henry’s, but alas, there were length constraints–and permissions we weren’t able to get. And in addition, we didn’t want this collection to be a carbon copy of every other Christmas anthology we’d ever read. Which is why O. Henry’s “Gift of the Magi” and the “Christmas won’t be Christmas” piece by Louisa May Alcott aren’t in the book. Sorry. But they’ve been reprinted virtually everywhere, and if we included them, we’d have had to leave out stories by both O. Henry and Alcott that you might not have read before.).

We also included lots of other wonderful stories, like Langston Hughes’ wistful “One Christmas Eve” and Edna Ferber’s “No Room at the Inn” and Ben Hecht’s “Holiday Thoughts” Jacob Riis’s “The Kid Hangs Up His Stocking” and Jack London’s “Klondike Christmas” and Dorothy Parker’s “The Christmas Magazines and the Inevitable Story of the Snowbound Train.”

For you science-fiction, fantasy, and horror fans, there’s Cynthia Felice’s “Track of a Legend,” Mildred Clingerman’s “The Wild Wood,” Steve Rasnic Tem’s “Buzz,” Ray Bradbury’s “The Gift,”and Raymond E. Banks’s “Christmas Trombone.”” (And a story of mine that they chose, “Inn.”)…

And don’t forget to register for the Library of America’s American Christmas Stories conversation with Connie Willis, Nalo Hopkinson, and Penne Restad on December 15 at 6:00 p.m. Eastern.

(15) I READ YOU FIVE BY FIVE. Two more of James Davis Nicoll’s thematic look-back posts at Tor.com.

… Perhaps some fictional examples are in order, since historical examples would no doubt set the comments on fire (so let’s please avoid that)….

Wild Seed by Octavia E. Butler (1980)

No person works as hard to find and gather humanity’s psionic adepts as Doro. Doro has invested millennia tracking down, gathering, and breeding mutants to ensure that they survive and flourish. Thanks to Doro’s endless work, the genes for psionic talents have been concentrated and encouraged to flourish.

However, this long-standing project had nothing to do with any particular concern for mutant-kind or a belief in orthogenesis. Doro is a psychic predator. Mutant minds are tasty and their appropriated bodies provide him with comfortable temporary accommodation. Worse, the psychics are quite aware of Doro’s appetites. They simply lack the means to resist him. The best that shape-shifting immortal Anyanwu can do is to play a weak hand as well as she can, using Doro’s desire for a peer to limit the damage he does to her kin.

… But pessimism is nothing new, of course. Olden time SF authors were enormously pessimistic, producing works every bit as sour and gloomy as the most morose works penned by today’s authors. Don’t believe me? Here are five intensely depressing SF novels from the long, long ago. I recommend each and every one of them, if only to cast your current circumstances in a more favourable light….

(16) GALACTIC OPPORTUNITY. Space Cowboy Books will host an online reading and interview with Janice L. Newman, author of “At First Contact,” on December 14. Register here.

Join us for a reading and interview with Janice L. Newman about her new book At First Contact, a touching trio of romances in a speculative vein. From the edge of space, to the shadows of the paranormal, to the marvels of the mystical.

(17) BANK ON IT. Seneca Falls goes all-in on It’s A Wonderful Life. “This New York Town Is Honoring A Beloved Holiday Movie’s 75th Anniversary” at Forbes.

… “We also say that we don’t think that Frank Capra intended Bedford Falls to be one place,” said Law. “It is every place that people hold dear to our hearts.”

Regardless, Law noted that Seneca Falls has welcomed actress Karolyn Grimes, who played Zuzu Bailey, since her first visit there in 2002.

“She has introduced us to other cast members, relatives of cast members and others associated with the film,” said Law. Other visiting actors have ranged from Jimmy Hawkins, who played Tommy Bailey, to Jeanine Roose, who played younger Violet Bick.

Grimes also helped to make the It’s A Wonderful Life Museum a reality, after being talked to about the need for a place where film fans can reminisce and honor its meaning….

Here’s the link to The Seneca Falls It’s A Wonderful Life Museum website.

It’s a Wonderful Life was filmed entirely in California, as were most movies at that time.

However, Seneca Falls has long believed itself to be the inspiration for Bedford Falls…

(18) GHASTLY TIMING. The New York Ghost Story Festival started December 11 and continues online. It’s free. Watch live on You Tube, or view any time later.

See the December 11 event with Kathe Koja, Brian Evenson, Rudi Dornemann and Jeff Ford:

Still to come —

  • Tuesday, December 14, 8:00 p.m. Eastern with David Surface, Brenda Tolian, Pat Wehl, and Joshua Rex here
  • Friday, December 17, 8:00 p.m. Eastern with Kevin Lucia, Jo Kaplan, and Eric Guijnard here.
  • Saturday, December 18, 7:00 p.m. Eastern with Sarah Langan, Kevin Brockmeier, John Langan, and Angela Slatter here

(19) W76 WOULD LIKE ITS $4K BACK. Twitter shut down Jon Del Arroz’ account under his own name, but he’s started another. Think about how good his lawyer must be that he was able to defend Jon against allegations of being a racist.

(20) MARTIAN MUD. “China’s Mars Rover Has Amassed Reams Of Geological Data” reports Nature.

 Some surface features, such as possible sedimentary material and mud volcanoes, hint at the past flow of water, so scientists are looking for clues that there was once water or ice below the surface. This is “of great scientific interest” because it might provide evidence of an ancient ocean, says Bo Wu, a planetary scientist at the Hong Kong Polytechnic University.

(21) ON YOUR HEAD BE IT. “The Sorting Hat Tells All In The Harry Potter Reunion” on The Late Show With Stephen Colbert.

On another night last week Jennifer Lawrence appeared on The Late Show With Stephen Colbert. Near the end of their second segment, they discussed genre movies. After the 3:00 mark, Colbert gets a little flustered when Lawrence reveals how little she knows about the Lord of the Rings movies. Nominally, the main topic of the interview is Lawrence’s to-be-released movie Don’t Look Up, which definitely has a genre premise.

[Thanks to JJ, John King Tarpinian, Andrew Porter, Bill, Ben Bird Person, Chris Barkley, Joey Eschrich, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, and Martin Morse Wooster for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Steve Davidson, part of “The Hugo Pixel Scroll Winners” series.]

Pixel Scroll 11/20/21 Down Slupps The Pixel-Ma-Phone To Your Ear

(1) NAVIGATING LITERATURE. The Huntington Library’s “Mapping Fiction” exhibit will run January 15-May 2. The Pasadena, CA institution timed the event to coincide with the centennial of the publication of James Joyce’s groundbreaking 1922 modernist novel, Ulysses. Maps from J.R.R. Tolkien, Octavia Butler and other creators will also be displayed.

Octavia E. Butler, Map of Acorn from notes for Parable of the Talents, ca. 1994. (Detail)

“Mapping Fiction” is an exhibition focused on the ways authors and mapmakers have built compelling fictional worlds.

Drawn entirely from The Huntington’s collections, “Mapping Fiction” includes a first edition of Joyce’s novel and a typescript draft of one of its chapters, cartographically inspired intaglio prints of Dublin as described in the book, other mappings of the novel and the famous texts to which it alludes, and materials related to the annual celebration of Bloomsday in Dublin on June 16—the single day in 1904 during which the novel takes place.

About 70 items will be on view, focused on novels and maps from the 16th through the 20th century—largely early editions of books that include elaborate maps of imaginary worlds. Among the highlights are Lewis Carroll’s 1876 edition of The Hunting of the Snark, Robert Louis Stevenson’s maps from Treasure Island and Kidnapped, J. R. R. Tolkien’s map from the trilogy The Lord of the Rings, and science fiction writer Octavia E. Butler’s hand-drawn maps from notes for Parable of the Talents (1998) and her unpublished novel Parable of the Trickster. In addition to Butler’s archives, the show draws on The Huntington’s archival collections of Jack and Charmian London, Christopher Isherwood, and others, as well as the institution’s rich print holdings in travel narratives, English literature, and the history of science.

There will be related events, including this Butler-themed tour of Pasadena.

Revisiting Octavia E. Butler’s Pasadena
March 19 and April 23, 2022
2–3:30 p.m.
In conjunction with “Mapping Fiction,” The Huntington has produced a map of Octavia E. Butler’s Pasadena. Visitors can take a self-guided walking or driving tour of the locations around Pasadena where Butler lived, visited, and often found inspiration. Tour maps will be available online and in the “Mapping Fiction” exhibition gallery. On two Saturdays this spring, Ayana Jamieson, founder of the Octavia E. Butler Legacy Network, will lead a moderated conversation about our desire to locate Butler’s Pasadena. Registration information and locations to come.

(2) TALKING TOONS. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] I listened to this podcast by Leonard Maltin with cartoon historians Jerry Beck and Mark Evanier — Maltin on Movies: “Talking Toons with Jerry Beck and Mark Evanier”. Jessie Maltin wasn’t on the podcast because she just gave birth to Maltin’s first grandchild.  (Playing with his granddaughter, Maltin joked, was “more fun than television!”

All three men are Boomers whose love of cartoons went back to when they were kids and Channel 9 in New York City and Channel 11 in Los Angeles would show anything (remember Colonel Bleep? They do.)  They have deep knowledge of animation history.  Did you know that the first Peanuts cartoons were done for the Tennessee Ernie Ford show?  Or that when The Bugs Bunny Show aired in prime time for two seasons on ABC in the early 1960s it had all sorts of original footage, including work by Chuck Jones and Bob McKimson, that no one has seen in 50 years?)

Jerry Beck is involved with the international animation association ACIFA, and discussed his efforts at cartoon preservation.  He noted that Paramount, unlike Disney and Warner Bros., doesn’t think they can make money from old cartoons.  ACIFA is working with the UCLA and Library of Congress archives to preserve significant work by Terrytoons and Max Fleischer that only exist in flammable negatives.  ACIFA also helped restore a 16-minute Smell-O-Vision cartoon (with voice work by Bert Lahr) that was shown before the smelly The Scent Of Mystery.

The best find in previously lost cartoons was when Maltin’s classic Of Mice And Magic was translated into Russian, and Russian cartoon fans reported they discovered the last lost Betty Boop cartoon, featuring Boop’s nephew, Buzzy Boop.  The cartoon is currently being restored.

This was a fun hour.

(3) ERASMUSCON. There’s a Dutch bid for Eurocon 2024. They propose to hold the con in Rotterdam in August 2024. They are taking presupports:

Become a supporter of the bid for €25,-
or a Friend of the bid for €100,-

(4) BIG SIX. Nerds of a Feather’s Paul Weimer gets recommendations in “6 Books with Marjorie B. Kellogg”, who’s the author of Lear’s Daughters, Harmony, and The Dragon Quartet series.

4. A book that you love and wish that you yourself had written.

The Left Hand of Darkness, by Ursula LeGuin. 

This book I have reread, more than once, and still find moving and magical. Her portrayal of an alien civilization is so deeply drawn, so compassionate, so non-comic-booky, and yet so relevant and relatable to our own Earth-bound issues and selves. It’s what Science Fiction can do like no other genre.

(5) TALKIN’ ABOUT MY REGENERATION. Jessica Holmes tries to figure out who this confused fellow is who sees Doctor Who’s face in his mirror…in 1966. That year isn’t a trick of the TARDIS — it’s today’s date at Galactic Journey! “[November 20 1966] Doctor…Who? (Doctor Who: The Power Of The Daleks [Part 1])”

It was with a mix of curiosity and trepidation that I tuned into Doctor Who this month. The character we know and love has vanished forever, and in his place is a stranger– A stranger who calls himself the Doctor. But is it really the same man? Once again, we have to ask the essential question that the programme was founded on. Doctor…who?

(6) I’M FEELING BETTER. James Davis Nicoll is in tune with “I Will Survive: Five Stories About Living to See Another Day” at Tor.com.

This year Canadian Thanksgiving was celebrated on October 11th. American Thanksgiving will fall on November 25th. In both cases, they are glorious feasts celebrating the end of harvest season. However, the first European Thanksgiving in the New World may have been Martin Frobisher’s on May 27th, 1578. As you might guess from the date, Frobisher and his crew were not giving thanks for a bountiful harvest. They were grateful to have survived their latest quest for the Northwest Passage. And isn’t simple survival something for which to be grateful?

The characters in the following five works would no doubt agree that while survival has its challenges, it is far superior to the alternative….

(7) TUNE IN. “Pee-Wee Herman to Host Radio Show on KCRW” reports Variety.

The short version is that legendary star of the screen Pee-Wee Herman will launch a radio show on KCRW, the popular National Public Radio station based in Santa Monica, Calif., and will be accompanied by his pals Chairry, Magic Screen and Miss Yvonne. A rep for the station tells Variety that for now, it will be just one show on Nov. 26 at 6 p.m. PT (and available on demand for one week after airing), but who knows?

(8) LEFLEUR OBIT. Actor Art LaFleur died at the age of 78 on November 17 reports Deadline. The character actor had many genre roles in his resume: Jekyll and Hyde . . . Together Again, The Invisible Woman, WarGames, Trancers and Trancers II, Zone Troopers, The Blob (1988), Field of Dreams (he’s the one who tells Moonlight Graham “Don’t wink, kid”), Forever Young, The Santa Clause 2 and The Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause (as the “Tooth Fairy”), Speed Racer.  On TV, LaFleur appeared in episodes of The Incredible Hulk, Wizards and Warriors, Tales from the Crypt, Space Rangers, Strange Luck, A.J.’s Time Travelers, Angel and Night Stalker (2005).

(9) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

1964 — Fifty-seven years ago, the second adaptation of H.G. Wells’ First Men in the Moon was released into theatres, this one complete with the superb special effects of Ray Harryhausen. The first time it was adapted was a 1919 British black-and-white silent film version, directed by Bruce Gordon and J. L. V. Leigh. (It is currently lost with film prints known to exist.) This screenplay was by Nigel Kneale and Jan Read. The primary cast was Edward Judd, Martha Hyer and Lionel Jeffries.

I have no idea what it cost as that’s not recorded but it only made one point three million. Most critics liked with Variety saying that “Ray Harryhausen and his special effects men have another high old time in this piece of science-fiction hokum”, though the New York Times called it “tedious, heavyhanded science-fiction vehicle that arrived yesterday from England”. Audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes are currently lukewarm on it giving it a fifty-three percent rating. 

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born November 20, 1923 Len Moffatt. He’s a member of First Fandom. Len and his second wife June helped organize many of the early Bouchercons for which he and June received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Bouchercon staff. He was a member of LASFS. He wrote far too many zines to list here. Mike has an excellent look at his memorial here. (Died 2010.)
  • Born November 20, 1923 Nadine Gordimer. South African writer and political activist. Her one genre novel was July’s People which was banned in her native country under both governments. Her three stories are collected in Beethoven Was One-Sixteenth Black and Other Stories. She received the Nobel Prize in Literature, recognized as a writer “who through her magnificent epic writing has been of very great benefit to humanity”. (Died 2014.)
  • Born November 20, 1926 John Gardner. Author of more Bond novels than one would think possible. He’d write fourteen original James Bond novels, more than Fleming wrote, and the novelized versions of two Bond films, License to Kill and GoldenEye. He’d also dip into the Sherlock universe, writing three novels around the character of Professor Moriarty. Rights to film them were optioned but never developed due to a lack of funding. (Died 2007.)
  • Born November 20, 1929 Jerry Hardin, 92. He’s best known for playing Deep Throat on The X-Files. He’s also been on Quantum LeapStarmanBrimstone and Strange World, plus he was in the Doomsday Virus miniseries. And he made a rather good Samuel Clemens in the two part “Time’s Arrow” story on Next Gen
  • Born November 20, 1932 Richard Dawson. Usually one appearance in a genre film or show isn’t enough to make the Birthday list but he was Damon Killian on The Running Man, a juicy enough role to ensure his making this list, and twenty years earlier he was Joey on Munster, Go Home! He’d voice Long John Silver on an animated Treasure Island film in the Seventies. And he had a one-off on the classic Fantasy Island as well. (Died 2012.)
  • Born November 20, 1944 Molly Gloss, 77. Her novel Wild Life won the 2000 James Tiptree, Jr. Award. She has two more SF novels, The Dazzle of Day and Outside the Gates. Her “Lambing season” short story was nominated for a Hugo at Torcon 3, and “The Grinnell Method” won a Sturgeon. 
  • Born November 20, 1956 Bo Derek, 65. She makes the Birthday list for being Jane Parker in Tarzan, the Ape Man. There’s also Ghosts Can’t Do It and Horror 101 as well as the two Sharknado films she just did. A friend of Ray Bradbury, she was the presenter when Kirk Douglas received the 2012 Ray Bradbury Creativity Award.
  • Born November 20, 1959 Sean Young, 62. Rachael and her clone in the original Blade Runner and the sequel. More intriguingly she played Chani in the original Dune which I’d completely forgotten. A bit old for the role, wasn’t she? She was the lead, Helen Hyde, in Dr. Jekyll and Ms. Hyde. And she’s a Trekkie as she was in the Star Trek: Renegades video fanfic pilot as Dr. Lucien. But who isn’t? 

(11) COMICS SECTION.

  • Shoe has a little wizardry joke.
  • The Flying McCoys depicts a super embarrassment.
  • I was today years old when I discovered Bogart Creek.

(12) A BOOKTUBE PODCAST. Cora Buhlert’s latest Fancast Spotlight interviews Robin Rose Graves of The Book Wormhole:“Fancast Spotlight: The Book Wormhole”.

Tell us about your podcast or channel.

The Book Wormhole is a monthly updating BookTube channel where I provide spoiler free reviews and discussions of the books I read. Science Fiction makes up the majority of what I cover on the channel, and while I lean more towards female, POC and/or LGBT authors, I read both classics as well as contemporary releases. I balance popular books with indie and underrated titles. I promise there will be at least one book you’ve never heard of before on my channel.

(13) EIGHTIES HIT POINT PARADE. Meaghan Ball recalls three D&D Choose Your Own Adventure-style fantasy romance novels from days gone by: “Roll for Romance: The Forgotten D&D Romance Novels of 1983” at Tor.com.

… Seeking a way to get more young women involved in the roleplaying game (despite the fact that girls have been playing since the beginning, but that’s another story entirely), Dungeons & Dragons also branched out and commissioned a series of Choose Your Own Adventure-style romance novels. Since you probably haven’t heard of them, you can rightly assume they didn’t set the publishing world on fire—but they are fascinating relics, especially for fans of D&D and/or ’80s romance novels…. 

(14) BIG WINNER. Lela E. Buis covers Amazon’s sf book of 2021 and a Dragon Award winner: “Review of Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir”.

…Weir fuels a constantly rising action line with various emergencies that go wrong and have to be solved by the application of science and engineering expertise. This is brilliantly plotted; the ship and the characters are well developed, and the science is well-research and applied….

(15) A BOOK WITH CHARACTER(S). Paul Weimer tells what makes this humorous sff book work in “Microreview [book]: Obviously, Aliens by Jennie Goloboy” at Nerds of a Feather.

…The novel also has a lot of heart. It treats its characters, even the ostensible antagonists, rather gently and with love and respect. You will get to know Dana, Adam, Jay, Sophie and the rest and get to know them, road trip style. (If this book were ever turned into an audiobook, this novel would be really fun to listen to on a driving adventure). Sure, the characters go through all sorts of disasters, reversals, and “can you believe THIS?”  but it is a very lighthearted tone….

(16) FORWARD PROGRESS. There’s a new form of space propulsion that could change the satellite and space probe game. From Nature’s “News & Views” overview: “Iodine powers low-cost engines for satellites”.

Satellites organized in flexible networks known as constellations are more agile and resilient than are those operating alone. Manoeuvring satellites into such constellations requires inexpensive, reliable and efficient engines. Many networked satellites have electric propulsion thrusters, which generate thrust by using electrical energy to accelerate the ions of a propellant gas. However, the choice of gas presents a problem. Ionizing xenon requires a relatively small amount of energy, but xenon gas is expensive and needs to be compressed in high-pressure tanks to fit on board a satellite. Krypton is cheaper, but still requires a complex and heavy gas-storage and -supply system. …Rafalskyi et al. report a successful demonstration of an iodine-ion thruster in space — offering a cheaper and simpler alternative to xenon or krypton…

Research paper here (Open access).

(17) HEARTWARMING AND OTHERWISE. “10 Weirdest Charlie Brown Parodies Of All Time”is a roundup of YouTube videos at Yahoo!

This special, along with the Halloween and Christmas productions featuring Charles M. Schulz’s beloved Peanuts characters, have become staples of pop culture. They also inspired a genre of parody productions that frequently reconfigure Charlie Brown, Linus, Lucy and the others in ways that Schultz would never have imagined, let alone condoned.

For those with a warped sense of humor and no squeamishness over occasional deep-dives into NSFW entertainment, here are the 10 weirdest Charlie Brown parodies that you’ll be able to find online.

“Bring Me the Head of Charlie Brown.” One of the earliest works by Jim Reardon of “The Simpsons” fame was this 1986 cartoon made during his studies at the California Institute of Arts. Reardon spoofs Sam Peckinpah’s “Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia” in a comically violent tale that shows Charlie Brown being ruthlessly hunted by his many antagonists before he gets his revenge in a massive shootout….

(18) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In “Honest Game Trailers:  Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy,” Fandom Games says this game answers the question, “What if Cowboy Bebop was written by Joss Whedon?” and its premise is “you love these characters so much you’d pay $60 to have them talk for 15-20 hours.”

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Andrew Porter, Michael Toman, Cora Buhlert, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, and JJ for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Brian Z.]

Pixel Scroll 11/15/21 The Ones Who Stalk Away From Scrollmelas

(1) GOT THAT RIGHT. The imminent Hugo voting deadline – November 19 – caused Camestros Felapton to call forth a special GIF: “Deep from within the sarcophagi of time, a preternatural force awakens!” Remember what the Robot on the original Lost In Space said: “When in trouble, when in doubt, run in circles, scream and shout!”

(2) I SEE BY YOUR OUTFIT THAT YOU ARE A COWBOY. Christina Tucker tells Slate readers there’s a lot wrong with the new version: “Netflix Cowboy Bebop review: Another underwhelming live-action anime adaptation”.

Cowboy Bebop, directed by Shinichiro Watanabe, remains one of the most iconic anime of all time. Lauded by mainstream critics and anime fans alike for its visual style, Yoko Kanno’s soundtrack, and its explorations of mortality, nihilism, and identity, Cowboy Bebop has enjoyed an excellent reputation since its 1998 premiere. And stateside, it is especially renowned for being many Americans’ first experience with anime, first airing in English on Cartoon Network in 2001 as part of the nascent Adult Swim programming block. All told, it remains one of the most beloved anime by new and old fans, who still praise it as a must-watch and a modern classic.

This legacy, however, is something of an albatross around the neck of Netflix’s 2021 live-action adaptation of Cowboy Bebop. Netflix’s take on the show has a love-hate relationship with its source material, retaining the premise and almost every single character from the original and re-creating and referencing memorable shots and scenes, but adding original elements like comically trite dialogue, embarrassing dramatic turns, and an original and unengaging plotline that only pull focus from the core story it’s trying to adapt. The result only creates unfavorable comparisons with the original and is likely to turn off both fans of the original and newcomers. If this Cowboy Bebop accomplishes anything, it’s to highlight the quality of the original series, justifying many anime fans’ belief that trying to translate anime series from one medium to another never works out….

(3) VISIT WITH THE EATON COLLECTION. Space Cowboy Books of Joshua Tree, CA will have an online “Spotlight on the Eaton Science Fiction Library” on Tuesday, November 30 at 4:00 p.m. Pacific.

Join us for an in depth interview about the behind the scenes at one of the world’s largest public collections of science fiction. Sandy Enriquez and Andrew Lippert of the Eaton library will share how you can utilize the collection and some of the many treasures contained within. Learn about SF from an academic perspective.

Register for free here at Eventbrite

(4) SIMULTANEOUS TIMES. Also available is Space Cowboy Books’ podcast “Simultaneous Times” featuring readings of “Tips for Living Out-of-Synch for the Frequent Time Traveler” by A.C. Wise (read by Jean-Paul Garnier) and “Premium Resurrection Pack $99” by by Renan Bernardo (read by Jean-Paul Garnier & Zara Kand).

(5) NEW STOKERCON GOH. StokerCon2022 has added Jennifer McMahon as its sixth GOH. The convention takes place in Denver from May 12-15 next year.

Jennifer McMahon is the author of The Children on the Hill and ten other novels, including the New York Times bestsellers Promise Not to Tell and The Winter People. She lives in Vermont with her partner, Drea, and their daughter, Zella. Visit her at Jennifer-McMahon.com or connect with her on Instagram @JenniferMcMahonWrites and Facebook @JenniferMcMahonBooks.com.

She joins a GoH lineup that includes John Edward Lawson, Sheree Renée Thomas, Ernest Roscoe Dickerson A.S.C., Gemma Files, and Brian Keene.

(6) FOR YOUR STOCKING. Is this the first time that the Library of America has offered this kind of a deal on a book edited by an SFWA Grandmaster? American Christmas Stories:

Library of America and Connie Willis present 150 years of diverse, ingenious, and uniquely American Christmas stories

Ghost stories and crime stories, science fiction, fantasy, westerns, humor, and horror; tales of Christmas morning, trees, gifts, wise men, and family dinners everywhere from New York to Texas to outer space: this anthology is an epiphany, revealing the ways Christmas has evolved over time—and how the spirit of the holiday has remained the same. Ranging from the advent of the American tradition of holiday storytelling in the wake of the Civil War to today, this is the best and widest-ranging anthology of American Christmas stories ever assembled.

…Available now. Clothbound 467 pages. List price: $29.95. Web Store price: $22.50 | With coupon code LIB2021: $19.12 .

(7) CELEBRITY CRUSH. Adam Driver told Graham Norton Show viewers why he will never go to Comic-Con again.

… The Oscar nominee then elaborated, describing his experience at SDCC as more than a little constricting. “I didn’t know the rules of Comic-Con,” he said. “I got in at the hotel at 2 in the morning… and I’m like, ‘Maybe tomorrow I’ll go get a coffee.’ And they’re like, ‘Oh no, you can’t get a coffee.’ I’m like, ‘Well, maybe I’ll get a coffee in the hotel.’ They’re like, ‘No, you can’t get a coffee in the hotel.'”

Driver went on to explain that he was given the option of wearing either an Iron Man mask or a Darth Vader mask in order to leave. “‘If you want to go outside,’ they’re like, ‘Put a mask on so nobody knows who you are.'”

This doesn’t happen only to Star Wars actors. John King Tarpinian remembers being one of Ray Bradbury’s five escorts at Comic-Con and “that was a pain traversing the hall.” And if they wanted to give a Darth Vader mask to Adam Driver, what mask would they have had Ray put on? 

(8) ROLL ON IN. Billy Todd touts Wheel of Time fandom in “Welcome to the Family: An Open Letter to Old and New Fans of The Wheel of Time” at Tor.com.

…Worrying about new fans—and any talk of gatekeeping around the series—is historically out of character for the Wheel of Time fandom. I’ve participated in many sci-fi and fantasy franchise fandoms in the past 40 years, and I remain amazed at how open, inclusive, and downright familial the Wheel of Time fanbase is. I have been an active fan since cramming pages between junior high classes in 1992. After I finished my friend’s copy of The Shadow Rising, our friend group fell into a hole of geeking out over these books. I never made it out of that hole. Shortly thereafter, in the days before the World Wide Web, I discovered the Robert Jordan USENET newsgroup and its population of Darkfriends who modeled rational, good-natured, respectful debate online.

It took many years before I realized this was not how the rest of the Internet was going to turn out….

(9) PRE-PREDATOR ON THE WAY. “Predator Prequel Starring Indigenous Actress Amber Midthunder Reveals Title Prey , Summer 2022 Release Date” reports Yahoo!

Amber Midthunder is making her mark on the Predator franchise with its next installment.

Entitled Prey, the upcoming prequel will premiere on Hulu in summer 2022, it was announced Friday during Disney+ Day.

“Set in the world of the Comanche Nation 300 years ago, the action-thriller follows Naru, the skilled warrior who fiercely protects her tribe against a highly evolved alien predator,” a plot summary from Disney reads.

Midthunder, 24, celebrated the news on Instagram, sharing an image of herself in the film with the franchise’s extraterrestrial villain lurking behind her in the shadows.

(10) DREAM TIME. By the way, Melanie Stormm is very inventive but she didn’t have to make up the two tweets she included in today’s “Emails From Lake Woe-Is-Me — Fit the Fourteenth”:

(11) NEW BUCKELL COLLECTION ANNOUNCED. Apex Publications has acquired a new short story collection from Tobias S. Buckell titled Zen and the Art of Starship Maintenance and Other Stories. It’s scheduled to come out next year. Apex has also acquired the trade paperback rights to his four-book Xenowealth series (Crystal RainRagamuffinSly Mongoose, and The Apocalypse Ocean).

Tobias S. Buckell

Tobias S. Buckell is a New York Times Bestselling and World Fantasy Award-winning author born in the Caribbean. He grew up in Grenada and spent time in the British and US Virgin Islands, which influence much of his work.

Zen and the Art of Starship Maintenance and Other Stories is Tobias S. Buckell’s seventh short fiction collection and is comprised of 15 stories, several of which are original to the collection or were previously only available through his Patreon.

(12) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

1968 — Fifty-three years ago on NBC, Star Trek’s “The Tholian Web” first aired on this date. It was written by Judy Burns, her first professional script, and Chet Richards, his only such script. She would later write scripts for myriad genre series including Mission: ImpossibleThe Six Million Dollar Man and Fantasy Island

Primary guest cast was Sean Morgan as Lt. O’Neil, Barbara Babcock as the voice of Loskene who was the Tholian commander and Paul Baxley as Captain of the Defiant. It is considered by critics and fans alike to be one of the best Trek episodes done though it did not get a Hugo nomination unlike a lot of other Trek episodes. 

In a two-part episode of Enterprise, “In a Mirror, Darkly”, it is told that the Defiant has reappeared in the Mirror Universe of Archer’s time, where it is salvaged by the Tholians and later stolen from them by the Terran Empire. 

(13) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born November 15, 1877 William Hope Hodgson. By far, his best known character is Thomas Carnacki, featured in several of his most famous stories and at least partly based upon Algernon Blackwood’s occult detective John Silence. (Simon R. Green will make use of him in his Ghost Finders series.)  Two of his later novels, The House on the Borderland and The Night Land would be lavishly praised by H.P. Lovecraft.  It is said that his horror writing influenced many later writers such as China Miéville, Tim Lebbon and Greg Bear but I cannot find a definitive source for that claim. (Died 1918.)
  • Born November 15, 1929 Ed Asner. Genre work includes roles on Alfred Hitchcock PresentsThe Outer Limits,  Voyage to the Bottom of the SeaThe Girl from U.N.C.L.E.The InvadersThe Wild Wild WestMission: ImpossibleShelley Duvall’s Tall Tales & LegendsBatman: The Animated Series and I’ll stop there as the list goes on for quite some while. What’s your favorite genre role by him? (Died 2021.)
  • Born November 15, 1933 Theodore Roszak. Winner of the Tiptree Award for The Memoirs of Elizabeth Frankenstein, and the rather excellent Flicker which is well worth reading. Flicker is available at the usual suspects,  though no other fiction by him other than his Japanese folktales is. Odd. (Died 2011.)
  • Born November 15, 1939 Yaphet Kotto. If we count the Bond films as genre, and I do, his first genre performance was as Dr. Kananga / Mr. Big in Live and Let Die. Later performances included Parker in Alien, William Laughlin in The Running Man, Doc in Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare, Ressler in The Puppet Masters adapted from Heinlein’s 1951 novel of the same name and a horrid film that it is, and he played a character named Captain Jack Clayton on SeaQuest DSV. (Died 2021.)
  • Born November 15, 1942 Ruth Berman, 79. She’s a writer of mostly speculative poetry. In 2003, she won the Rhysling Award for Best Short Poem for “Potherb Gardening “, and in 2016 for “Time Travel Vocabulary Problems”.  She was the winner of the 2006 Dwarf Stars Award for her poem “Knowledge Of”.  She’s also written one YA fantasy novel, Bradamant’s quest. In 1973, she was a finalist for the first Astounding Award for Best New Writer. She edited the Dunkiton Press genre zine for a decade or so.  She was nominated for Best Fan Writer Hugo at Baycon (1968). Impressive indeed. 
  • Born November 15, 1972 Jonny Lee Miller, 49. British actor and director who played Sherlock Holmes on the exemplary Elementary series, but his first genre role was as a  nine year-old with the Fifth Doctor story, “Kinda”. While he’s had a fairly steady stage, film, and TV career across the pond since then, it’s only in the last decade that he’s become well-known in the States – unless, like JJ, you remember that twenty-three years ago he appeared in a shoddy technothriller called Hackers, with another unknown young actor named Angelina Jolie (to whom he ended up married, until they separated eighteen months months later). Other genre appearances include a trio of vampire films, Dracula 2000Dark Shadows, and Byzantium, the live-action Æon Flux movie, and the lead in the pseudo-fantasy TV series Eli Stone

(14) COMICS SECTION.

  • Bizarro has a hilarious Zoom panel.

(15) A SHOW RECAP. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] Last night on Bob’s Burgers, a group of teenagers came in to the burger joint and asked to play a game which was clearly Dungeons and Dragons but which was called something else.  The dungeon master got Bob’s attention because she ordered the Burger of the Day when everyone else was getting plain old cheeseburgers.  The dungeon master made a move where she turned everyone into goblins and they played goblin characters instead of their regular characters.  Bob saw that she was being creative and explained to her his creative outlet was creating the Burger of the Day every day.  The gamers played very late but ordered big breakfasts before they left so Bob was tired but happy after meeting gamers.

(16) FERAL STATES. “Neal Stephenson Predicted the Metaverse. His New Book Imagines Something Even Stranger.” Laura Miller reviews Termination Shock at Slate.

A maestro of the dramatic opener, Neal Stephenson began his 2015 novel, Seveneves, with the line “The moon blew up without warning and for no apparent reason.” That’s a hard act to follow, but he gives it the old college try in his latest, Termination Shock, heralded, when first announced, as the celebrated science-fiction author “finally” taking on the subject of global warning. Termination Shock begins with the queen of the Netherlands piloting a business jet in an emergency landing at the Waco airport, a maneuver that goes terribly wrong when her plane’s landing gear collides with a herd of feral hogs that, chased by an oversize alligator, swarm the airstrip.

Like a lot of plot twists in Termination Shock, this scenario is not as outlandish as it seems. Frederika Mathilde Louisa Saskia, a fictional character, is apparently the daughter of the real-life King Willem-Alexander, who in 2017 revealed that he had been moonlighting as a commercial airline pilot for more than 20 years. (He said that he found it a “relaxing” hobby.) Saskia, as the queen—who is one of the novel’s central characters—calls herself, has inherited a taste for this pastime from her father. As for the feral swine, they are partly an allusion to a viral tweet defending private ownership of assault rifles in the event that “30-50 feral hogs” run into a yard in which small children are playing. The internet found this argument hilarious, but feral hogs are in fact a dangerous and destructive invasive species in many parts of the U.S. The novel’s second central character, Rufus, a former farmer turned professional hog exterminator, knows this all too well….

(17) GAS SITUATION. CNBC also has an interview with the author: “Neal Stephenson on ‘Termination Shock,’ geoengineering, metaverse”.

How did you get interested in this subject and become fascinated with it enough to base a novel on it?

I’ve been hearing about the idea for a number of years. I’m interested in history. I’m interested in science and the physics of the planet. And so, the idea that a volcano could erupt somewhere and affect temperatures all over the planet is a natural, fascinating topic for me. Over the last decade or two, it’s become increasingly clear that the CO2 content in the atmosphere is a huge problem, and that it’s getting worse fast, and we’re not really being very effective. Despite efforts by a number of people to draw attention to the problem and and push for emissions reductions, that number is still climbing rather rapidly and probably will keep climbing for a while. So rolling that together in the brain of the science fiction novelist, that looks like the basis for a story that that’s got that technical angle to it, but that’s also got a strong geopolitical and personal storytelling basis.

(18) OUT OF THE WILDERNESS AT LAST. The Guardian’s David Smith profiles the new Vonnegut documentary: “Unstuck in Time: the Kurt Vonnegut documentary 40 years in the making”.

… In 1994 Weide took the author back to his childhood home in Indianapolis. Vonnegut is seen touching imprints of his child-size hand, and the hands of of other family members, that remain in concrete poured in the 1920s. The project received a boost when Vonnegut’s brother, Bernie, handed over some 16mm home movies that had been gathering dust in a closet.

But the memories also carried pain. In 1958 his beloved sister, Alice, died of breast cancer days after her husband drowned in a train accident. Weide reflects: “He would say how much he missed his her and how ‘she taught me what was funny; she imbued my sense of humour; we thought the same things were funny’.

“A lot of what they thought was funny had to do with a lot of good comedy, which is a tragedy befalling other people. If they saw somebody fall down on the street in Indianapolis, they’d laugh about it for years sometimes. He talked a lot about his sister in very fond terms. He never was that vocal specifically about how her death affected him but his daughter says in the film all these years later, ‘I don’t think he can even now get his arms around it’.”…

(19) FAMILIAR PLAYBOOK. Yes, John Scalzi has seen these plays run before on social media.

(20) DOO DOO OVER. James Davis Nicoll tells Tor.com readers about “Five Time Travel Stories Where Things Get Rather Messy”.

Who among us has not dreamed over getting a do-over? Perhaps this time around, one could defer the two-hour discourse on the history of stirrups until the second date, leave the nearly-red hot frying pan to cool a little longer, or at the very least, take steps to ensure that some major historical debacle never happens, changing the course of human events for the good of all. Armed with knowledge of how things played out in the original timeline, surely one could shape a more perfect history!

That’s in reality. In fiction, of course, there’s no plot if everything goes as expected. Thus, these five works about altering timelines that did not, alas, work out entirely to plan….

(21) GENRE ADJACENT NEWS. “’It’s like hunting aliens’: inside the town besieged by armadillos” – the Guardian says North Carolina is not welcoming their new overlords.

….“It’s like hunting aliens,” said Bullard, who is more used to hunting feral pigs. “We know nothing about them. We can’t seem to kill them easily. They show up unexpectedly. And their numbers have just exploded.”

…An emerging theory for this advance of armadillos is the climate crisis. The animals dislike freezing conditions and global heating is making winters milder, turning northern parts of the US more armadillo-friendly. Around Sapphire [NC], the armadillos happily root around in the dirt with their snouts and claws, feasting on insects at elevations above 4,000ft. “We just don’t have those really cold winters any more and I’m sure that’s helped them,” said Olfenbuttel.

The armadillos have made it into Missouri, Iowa and even the southern reaches of Nebraska. Barriers such as rivers aren’t a problem – the animals can hold their breath for up to six minutes and walk on the riverbed, or even inflate their intestines to float across to the other side….

(22) ROBOTS UNDERGROUND. In the Washington Post Magazine, David Montgomery reports on the DARPA Subterranean Challenge, held in a giant cavern in Louisville, in which robots competed to see how many “humans” (mannequins with sensors) they could rescue in a simulated underground disaster.

…In this scenario, meticulously constructed for the finale of the DARPA Subterranean Challenge — an elaborate three-year, $82 million Pentagon robotics competition — something bad has happened to humans underground, and the robots are coming to the rescue. Spot and its robo-teammates and competitors — dozens of walking, driving and flying robots — were on a scavenger hunt for “survivors” (mannequins giving off body heat and vocal sounds) and objects such as cellphones, backpacks and helmets. The robots scored points by sending the objects’ locations back to their human teammates. Finding all the objects meant exploring a trap-filled labyrinth with a half-mile of passages, featuring three made-from-scratch environments: urban, with a subway, storeroom and offices; a tunnel (a mock mine shaft); and a cave, a claustrophobic mash-up of spelunking’s greatest hits….

(23) WEIRD WEST. [Item by Ben Bird Person.] Here’s an art collage piece by Lauren Fox (@LaurenFoxWrites):

(24) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Jennifer Hawthorne.] This video isn’t short but it’s good. It does a thorough breakdown of both the Starship Troopers book and the film, plots and themes both, and toward the end compares them to Haldeman’s Forever War. “If Veterans Ruled the World”.

[Thanks to Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Alan Baumler, Steven French, Jennifer Hawthorne, Ben Bird Person, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, John King Tarpinian, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Jayn.]

Pixel Scroll 11/11/21 It’s Just A Noisy Scroll, With A Nightly Gnole, And All Those Pixels

(1) BEGIN AT THE FRONT.  Alex Shvartsman is including File 770 in today’s cover reveal of The Middling Affliction, his humorous urban fantasy novel forthcoming form Caezik SF&F on April 12, 2022. Art is by Tulio Brito.

What would you do if you lost everything that mattered to you, as well as all means to protect yourself and others, but still had to save the day? Conrad Brent is about to find out.

Conrad Brent protects the people of Brooklyn from monsters and magical threats. The snarky, wisecracking guardian also has a dangerous secret: he’s one in a million – literally.

(2) WHEN YOUR STORY’S FINISHED, WHAT NEXT? [Item by Melanie Stormm.] John Wiswell recently wrote a thread on how a Nebula winner submits short fiction. Thought it might be helpful to someone.  Thread starts here. An excerpt from his advice:

(3) LOOKING AT THE SUBJECT FROM ALL SIDES. Brenton Dickieson has launched his “Blogging the Hugos 2021” novel review series at A Pilgrim in Narnia. His introductory post tells why he’s writing it, and gives the schedule.

…The 2021 Hugo Awards ceremonies will be on Dec 18th at DisCon III in Washington, DC. Ahead of the event, Signum University is hosting a panel discussion of the nominees. My job will be to represent Susanna Clarke’s Piranesi, not so much in a battle of books but a winsome argument about great storytelling. Last year, I was delighted to represent Alix E. Harrow’s The Ten Thousand Doors of January, a novel that did not win but was also nominated for the Nebula Award, the World Fantasy Award, the Mythopoeic Award, and the Locus Award in the category of Best First Novel. It’s a beautiful, evocative book, and I very much enjoyed last year’s Signum Roundtable.

Thus, in looking forward to December’s conversation, I am blogging through the Hugo novels, offering a review or thoughtful essay each week leading up to the convention. I hope you can join in as we read and talk about the leading speculative fiction of the past year! This week, we’ll look at Mary Robinette Kowal’s Lady Astronaut Universe, followed by Martha Wells’ Network Effect next week….

Dickieson’s first review is up: “Mary Robinette Kowal’s The Relentless Moon and the Lady Astronaut Universe (Blogging the Hugos 2021)”.

…Not lost in world-building details, the structures of catastrophe and the struggles for liberation in the Lady Astronaut Universe are the context for stories of personal growth, trial, and triumph. The Calculating Stars and The Fated Sky (2018) are from Elma York’s viewpoint, a friendly and self-conscious intellectual working as an IAC (human) computer with an unusually adept and intuitive mathematical sense. Elma finds herself in a battle to be heard as the mathematician who predicted the first global winter and subsequent global warming, as well as a skilled pilot vying to be the first woman in the space program. Her real battle, however, is with a general anxiety disorder that is triggered by stress and tragedy and an intense fear of the media or interpersonal conflict. With a winsome sense of relational connection and a rugged commitment to the possible, Elma finds a way to become “the first Lady Astronaut” (insert an earnest and upbeat 1950s TV commentator voice here).

In The Relentless Moon (2020)—the first nominee in my Blogging the Hugos 2021 series—Elma York is on her way to Mars…

(4) GORILLA MARKETING. [Item by John L. Coker III.] From a 1997 interview, here’s Julie’s take on the popularity of gorillas in DC comic books in the early-1950s, a topic mentioned in the November 9 Scroll (item #14).

Julius Schwartz: One day someone came into the office and said, “What has happened?  Strange Adventures went sky-high.”  I said, “Well, you know how it works.  It must have been the cover,” because covers sold the magazines in those days.  You went into a mom and pop store, where you saw hundreds of comics.  You looked them over and picked out something that was interesting.  I said, “Let’s look at the cover.” And on the cover, roughly, was this.  It took place in a zoo, and there’s a cage, and inside the cage is a gorilla.  And outside is an audience looking up at him, including a pretty girl whose name was Helen, as I vaguely recall.  The gorilla had a little blackboard in his hand, and with a piece of chalk had written the following message: “Dear Helen, Please Help me.  I’m the victim of a horrible scientific experiment.”  You laugh, but it made you want to find out what it’s all about, so obviously you bought the magazine. 

One way to find out is to try it again, so we tried another gorilla story, the secret being that the gorilla was not a gorilla, so to speak, but acting and reacting like a human.  And it worked again.

We knew we had something, so I did a series of stories with gorillas on them, until finally all the other editors wanted to do one.  Wonder Woman had one, Batman, they all had gorilla covers, until the editorial director said, “That does it.  From now on, only one gorilla cover a month.”  And then when that caught fire, they said, “We’re doing so well on this Strange Adventures, let’s put out another science fiction magazine.”  I said, “Impossible.  There are so many science fiction magazines being published that there are no titles left.  I can’t even think of another title.”  I’m sorry I never thought of Strange Gorilla Stories

[Interview with John L. Coker III, 1997.]

(5) SPEAKING OF GORILLA ART. [Item by Steve Vertlieb.] “King Kong” … Willis H. O’Brien … Ray Harryhausen: Exploring The Cultural Influence And Legacy Of A “Monstrous” Motion Picture Classic!

I had an opportunity quite recently to sit down once more with Host, Actor, Comedian, and Writer Ron MacCloskey for his Emmy Award Winning Public Television Series, “Classic Movies with Ron MacCloskey.”

Ron is the writer and producer of the new feature length documentary motion picture, “Boris Karloff: The Man Behind The Monster,” now playing in theaters all across the globe.

For this Halloween themed episode of the popular program, however, we explored the cultural significance, history, and legacy of the most famous “Monster” of them all … King Kong … and his nearly ninety year influence on gorilla films of all shapes and sizes, as well as his career defining impact on the lives and reign of Stop Motion Animation legends, Willis H. O’Brien and Ray Harryhausen.

Our spirited conversation both precedes and follows the film segment. Simply click on the projector, or the blue link, in order to screen the program. ” Classic Movies: “The Gorilla”

(6) ON THE WEB. The Marvel’s Avengers – Spider-Man game character reveal trailer dropped today.

Watch the Marvel’s Avengers Spider-Man reveal trailer. Spider-Man swings into Marvel’s Avengers on November 30th, 2021. Get a first look at the Marvels Avengers PlayStation exclusive character joining the team in this cinematic Marvels Avengers Spider Man trailer!

(7) SELKIES SPOTLIGHTED. [Item by Bruce D. Arthurs.] CrimeReads had an interesting piece listing a number of novels about selkies. I was kind of surprised that I only recognized one of the books listed. “The Story of the Selkie: Eight Novels Based in Powerful Folklore” by Melanie Golding.

… I love the idea that much of folklore is based on universal human stories that are still true today. Selkies may be mystical creatures but they are also women treated badly by men, then judged for their response by wider society. Because of this universality, as well as the compelling magical element, there are many modern novels that make use of selkie folklore, which in several ways shares roots with the folklore of mermaids. I’ve picked out a few that spoke to me. I hope many more readers will discover these sea-faring, shape-shifting, magic-realist tales….

(8) WFC GALLERY. Ellen Datlow has posted her World Fantasy Con photos on Flickr: WFC 2021 Montreal, Canada.

(9) AIRING OUT THE PROBLEM. Adam Rogers in WIRED has an interview with Neal Stephenson about Termination Shock and how didactic writers should be when composing near-future climate sf. “Neal Stephenson on Building and Fixing Worlds”.

… Stephenson stressed that achieving net-zero carbon emissions isn’t enough and that there’s no more important idea than developing technologies that can quickly suck carbon out of the atmosphere. “We need carbon capture on an enormous scale,” he said. “We have to do that. That’s the big solution that we really need to implement.”

“It truly is a solution,” he continued. “It would get rid of the underlying problem and kind of undo the mistake that we made by putting all that CO2 into the atmosphere in the first place.”…

(10) SOMETHING YOU CAN RELATE TO. James Davis Nicoll leads readers to stories that test whether blood is thicker than…money: “Five SFF Stories Where Interplanetary Trading Is a Family Affair” at Tor.com.

Nothing spells plot like an independent trader plying the spacetime lanes in search of profit, in a world very much skewed against the little guy. Nothing, that is, unless one adds family! Now in addition to scrabbling after profit, one has extra motivation: failure isn’t merely an individual catastrophe. Bad judgement, terrible luck, or the machinations of a vast inhuman corporation could drag one’s whole family down into poverty…or worse….

(11) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

1951 — Seventy years ago, Flight to Mars as produced by Monogram Pictures premiered. It was produced by Walter Mirisch and directed by Lesley Selander. It starred Marguerite Chapman and Cameron Mitchell. The screenplay was by Arthur Strawn and it would be his only SF work. Critics who really didn’t like it compared it to the previously released Destination Moon and Rocketship XM with the comparison not being at all great as one critic noted: “Destination Moon was scientifically accurate, and Rocketship XM had a gripping dramatic script. This copycat production has neither.” This movie reused the ship interior from the Rocketship XM production, and the suits from the Destination Moon shoot. Audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes currently give it a twenty-two percent rating. 

(12) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born November 11, 1916 Donald Franson. Author of A Key to the Terminology of Science-Fiction Fandom and An Author Index to Astounding/Analog: Part II—Vol. 36, #1, September, 1945 to Vol. 73 #3, May, 1964. With Howard DeVore wrote A History of the Hugo, Nebula, and International Fantasy Awards, Listing Nominees & Winners, 1951-1970. When I stumble across an author and their works like this, I’m reminded how deep the genre is. (Died 2002.)
  • Born November 11, 1917 Mack Reynolds. I assume you know he was the first writer to write an original novel based off the Trek series? Mission to Horatius came in 1968. I’m fond of his very first novel, The Case of The Little Green Men. He was a Hugo finalist at Chicon III (1962) for his “Status Quo” short story. Worked as an organizer for the Socialist Labor Party, then later was the most prolific short fiction writer in Campbell’s Analog – go figure. (Died 1983.)
  • Born November 11, 1922 Kurt Vonnegut Jr. The Sirens of Titan which was nominated for a Hugo at Pittcon was his first SF novel, followed by Cat’s Cradle — which after turning down his original thesis in 1947, the University of Chicago awarded him his master’s degree in anthropology in 1971 for this novel. It was nominated for a Hugo at Pacificon II. Next up was Slaughterhouse-Five, or The Children’s Crusade: A Duty-Dance with Death, which is one weird book and an even stranger film. The book was nominated for Hugo Award at Heicon (1970) but lost to Ursula K. Le Guin’s The Left Hand of Darkness. However, the movie Slaughterhouse Five won a Hugo at Torcon II (1973 — over a field that also included Between Time and Timbuktu, a TV adaptation of other Vonngeut material.)  While I’m fairly sure Breakfast of Champions, or Goodbye Blue Monday is his last genre novel there’s a lot of short fiction where something of a genre nature might have occurred. (Died 2007.)
  • Born November 11, 1925 Jonathan Winters. Yes, he did do quite a few genre performances including an early one as James Howard “Fats” Brown in “A Game of Pool”, a 1961 episode of The Twilight Zone. He next shows up as Albert Paradine II in More Wild, Wild West. He had a recurring role in Mork & Mindy as a character named Mearth. You’ll find him in The Shadow film, The Adventures of Rocky and BullwinkleThe Flintstones, both of The Smurfs films and quite a bit more. He of course was a guest on The Muppets Show. Who wasn’t? (Died 2013.)
  • Born November 11, 1935 Larry Anthony. Actor who made two appearances on the original Trek in  “The Man Trap” (uncredited) and “Dagger of the Mind”. He also appeared on The Wild Wild WestThe Man from U.N.C.L.E. and had five appearences on Batman playing two different characters. He made two appearances on Get Smart! And his final genre role was on Mission Impossible. (Died 2005.)
  • Born November 11, 1947 Victoria Schochet, 74. Wife of Eric Van Lustbader. She co-edited with John Silbersack and Mellisa Singer the most excellent The Berkley Showcase: New Writings in Science Fiction and Fantasy that came out in the Eighties. SFE says she has worked editorially at Analog though not what she did there. 
  • Born November 11, 1960 Stanley Tucci, 61. Actor, Director, and Producer with a lengthy resume of character roles in genre films including The Core (Yay! The Core!), Prelude to a Kiss, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Muppets Most Wanted, Beauty and the Beast, The Lovely Bones, Captain America: The First Avenger, Jack the Giant Slayer, Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters, and The Hunger Games films, as well as numerous voice roles including Leonardo da Vinci in Mr. Peabody & Sherman
  • Born November 11, 1962 Demi Moore, 59. Ghost, of course, for getting her Birthday Honors. And yes, I did see it. Sniff. But she got her genre creds with her second film Parasite which is good as she didn’t do much after that of a genre nature. She has a recurring role as Linda in the Brave New World series that aired on Peacock for just one series before being cancelled. 

(13) COMICS SECTION.

  • Bizarro earns its name with a superhero joke that could have been inspired by the quality of copyediting I do here…

(14) WHO’S WHO? Radio Times keeps the pot roiling with more ideas about Jodie Whittaker’s replacement: “Lydia West says Russell T Davies’ Doctor Who will have a modern twist”.

…The rising star has had roles in Russell T Davies’ Years and Years and It’s a Sin, and with Davies set to take over from Doctor Who showrunner Chris Chibnall next year, many have wondered whether he might bring West – or her It’s a Sin co-star Olly Alexander – along for the ride.

West herself addressed the rumours during an exclusive chat with RadioTimes.com.

“I mean, the fact I’ve been named as one of the favourites is quite special,” she said. “So I mean, it would be an honour to be the Doctor. I’m glad people think I could do it. So yeah.”

(15) KEEP GUESSING. Radio Times is also fueling speculation about the course of Season 13 now in progress. Could it be mining a never-produced script? “Doctor Who: Flux might be adapting lost story Lungbarrow”.

It’s official – no Doctor Who theory is too outlandish any more. After series 12’s finale essentially canonised the Morbius Doctors and added Jo Martin’s Time Lord to the roster of regenerations, we’d say any and all bets are off for deep-cut fan ideas about the series as it continues.

Which is why we’re not dismissing out of hand the latest theory about Doctor Who: Flux, and specifically the idea that the series might be drawing from a story that never actually made it to TV – Lungbarrow, written by Marc Platt for Sylvester McCoy’s Doctor but left on the shelf until Platt adapted it into a book some years later.

… That story would have delved into the ancestry and backstory of the Doctor, centred around his/her ancestral home of Lungbarrow – and now some fans think they might have seen that abandoned family seat in new series 13 episode War of the Sontarans, specifically within a black-and-white vision scene where Jodie Whittaker’s Doctor gazed up at a ruined, floating house before the main action of the story kicked off….

(16) DOGGING IT. Raquel S. Benedict’s Rite Gud podcast revisits “Puppy Play: The Saga of the Sad Puppies”.

In this episode, we re-examine the saga of the notorious Sad Puppies. What happened? What ripple effects did it have on the sci-fi/fantasy community? Did we learn anything from this? Should we learn anything from this? And is there more to the story than the official narrative?

Kurt Schiller joins us to talk about angry mobs, squeecore writing, and the musical stylings of forgotten 90s techno group Psykosonik.

(17) OCTOTHORPE. Episode 44 of Octothorpe is up. What are John Coxon, Alison Scott and Liz Batty saying this time? Listen here.

We discuss burning melons and the latest news from Reclamation 2022 before discussing what an Eastercon might look like if it were held at a campsite. To round it off, we talk a lot about Dune. With sound effects.

(18) ASIMOV NEVER THOUGHT OF THIS. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] The cover story of this week’s Nature concerns soft robots.  Soft robots have garnered interest thanks to their ability to carry out complex tasks such as crawling and swimming.  But making soft actuators remains difficult.  This week’s Nature sees researchers’ new bubble-based method based on elastic polymers (plastics/rubbers) .

Inspired by living organisms, soft robots are developed from intrinsically compliant materials, enabling continuous motions that mimic animal and vegetal movement. In soft robots, the canonical hinges and bolts are replaced by elastomers assembled into actuators programmed to change shape following the application of stimuli, for example pneumatic inflation…

Research paper: “Bubble casting soft robotics”.

(19) FOR TEN YEARS WE’VE BEEN ON OUR OWN. And one for your home team… “US astronomy’s 10-year plan is super-ambitious” – “Its ‘decadal survey’ pitches big new space observatories, funding for large telescopes and a reckoning over social issues plaguing the field.”

A long-anticipated road map for the next ten years of US astronomy is here — and it’s nothing if not ambitious.

It recommends that NASA coordinate, build and launch three flagship space observatories capable of detecting light over a broad range of wavelengths. It suggests that the US National Science Foundation (NSF) fund two enormous ground-based telescopes in Chile and possibly Hawaii, to try to catch up with an advanced European telescope that’s under construction. And for the first time, it issues recommendations for how federal agencies should fight systemic racism, sexism and other structural issues that drive people out of astronomy, weakening the quality of the science….

(20) THEY CAN FLING IT FASTER THAN YOU CAN CATCH IT. [Item by Daniel Dern.] An interesting idea, and of course, nothing could possibly go wrong – “Company Wants to Launch Satellites With Huge Centrifugal Slingshot” (Gizmodo) — like, say, supercriminal seizes control of the aim controls, or there’s a sinkhole, and suddenly it’s aimed at Cleveland or whatever…

…Alternatives to launching rockets haven’t exactly been runaway successes, however. In the 1960s, the United States Department of Defense and Canada’s Department of National Defence formed a joint partnership called Project HARP (High Altitude Research Project) to essentially develop giant Earth-based guns that could blast objects into space. HARP successfully fired a projectile 180 KM into the atmosphere using a 16-inch cannon built at the U.S. Army Research Laboratory’ Yuma Proving Ground, but by the late ‘60s both governments had withdrawn funding for the research project, and it was officially shut down before it came to fruition.

SpinLaunch is taking a somewhat similar approach to Project HARP, but the kinetic space launch system it’s been developing since 2015 does away with explosive materials altogether. In its place is an electric-powered centrifuge that spins objects inside a vacuum chamber at speeds of up to 5,000 MPH before they’re released through a launch tube that is roughly as tall as the Statue of Liberty….

(21) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In “Honest Game Trailers: Back4Blood,” Fandom Games says this slaughter-fest “still fuflills the need to kill a million zombies” and “feels like riding a bicycle after a mild concussion.”

[Thanks to Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, John King Tarpinian, John L. Coker III, Melanie Stormm, John Coxon, R.S. Benedict, Alex Shvartsman, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Daniel Dern, Andrew Porter, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, and Mike Kennedy for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Jim Janney.]

Pixel Scroll 11/10/21 Pixel-Heroes Battle Pixel-Gorillas

(1) THE SIX-BODY PROBLEM. There’s a new trailer out for China company Tencent’s production of The Three-Body Problem, which is fueling comparisons with another adaptation forthcoming from Netflix. Will Netflix’ Benioff and Weiss, veterans of Game of Thrones, overlook Chinese cultural subtleties? Will China’s censors allow Tencent to address all of them? Variety begins with a gloss of the trailer: “Tencent’s First ‘Three-Body Problem’ Trailer Sparks Netflix Rivalry”:

…The new Tencent trailer opens with an exchange between two off-screen male voices.

“Have significant accidents ever happened to you in your life?” one asks. “No,” the other replies. “Then your life is a sort of accident,” the first continues. “But isn’t that the case for most people?” the second voice asks, and the first responds, to a backdrop of ominous music with deep foghorn-type blasts that would feel at home on the “Tenet” soundtrack: “Then most people’s lives are all accidents.”

In a final line, a woman’s voice says: “This is the end of humanity.”

Several companies have been trying to produce adaptations of Liu Cixin’s novel.

Tencent nabbed the rights to adapt the story into a TV series way back in 2008. Now, its version is entering a crowded playing field.

There are at least two other “Three-Body Problem” adaptations in the works in China, including a film backed by IP rights holder Yoozoo Group that may have fallen permanently to the wayside and an animated take from Gen Z- and anime-leaning platform Bilibili.

Netflix struck its own deal with Yoozoo to create an English-language adaptation, announcing the project last September. The American version is being co-created by “Game of Thrones” big shots David Benioff and Dan Weiss alongside Alexander Woo (“True Blood”), and will be directed by Hong Kong’s Derek Tsang (“Better Days”).

Chinese social media is pressuring Tencent to do a good job:

“‘Three-Body’ is a story full of Chinese elements told by we Chinese from our Chinese perspective and ways of thinking …to express Chinese people’s values, worldview and view of the universe. These things are very hard for foreigners to express — only we are able to do it,” wrote one popular comment in response to Tencent’s Weibo recent post about the new trailer.

It was outranked by the top comment, liked 27,000 times. It read: “Buck up — you better not lose to Netflix’s nonsense version.”

While nationalist users maintained that only a Chinese production could capture the essence of the story, the novel is set during the Cultural Revolution, which could pose a problem for censors in a Chinese retelling.

Incidentally, here is the trailer Bilibili released in 2019 for its anime adaptation of The Three-Body Problem.

(2) CHIP IN. M.C.A. Hogarth is closing in on the $10K stretch goal of a Kickstarter launched to fund a collection of MilSF short stories set in her Peltedverse: To Discover and Preserve by M.C.A. Hogarth. Two days left – you might want to get in on this.

Alysha Forrest, my oldest Peltedverse character, needs some love, aletsen. Not only does she need some, she deserves it. Though fewer in number than the books comprising the Eldritch canon, the Stardancer/light milsf books of the Peltedverse sell well and without nearly the advertising the Eldritch canon has. I have a bunch of short stories that belong to this side of the timeline, but they’re all Patreon extras or newsletter gifts… and I get questions about where new readers can find them all the time! That means it’s time to collect them for retail. And while I have five stories (enough to credibly issue a single volume), they’re pretty short and could use some friends. 

Hogarth has given fans this incentive to push the Kickstarter past $10K:

…if we do, rather than continuing to pad the collection indefinitely, I will promise to finish writing the latest Alysha novel. This is the only way to guarantee you see it within the next year, since it’s otherwise indefinitely backburnered…. 

(3) CLI-FI. The Arizona State University Center for Science and the Imagination today premiered a prerecorded video event, “Cli-Mates: Climate Futures Conversations from Scotland,” in collaboration with the Scottish SF magazine Shoreline of Infinity. The event features the SF authors Kim Stanley Robinson, Ken MacLeod, Xia Jia, Libia Brenda, Gabriela Damián Miravete, Tendai Huchu, and Hannah Onoguwe, along with several scholars and editors.

During the UN Climate Change Conference, or COP26 (1-12 November, 2021), the eyes of the world are on Glasgow, Scotland, where nations, civil-society groups and activists are meeting to determine the shape of global action in the face of the climate crisis. At this moment, perhaps more than any other, we need creatively expansive thinking about possible futures—stories that help us chart a path towards a just, equitable, sustainable global civilization.

(4) FOUNDATION FX. Apple TV+ shows how it’s done in Foundation — Bringing Visions To Life Featurette”.

From the start, the world’s most dedicated visual effects artists and costume designers established that Foundation would be a show unlike any other on TV.

(5) ONE-TIME OPPORTUNITY. [Item by Bruce D. Arthurs.] I came across this interesting-sounding item on Twitter: On November 18, the Smithsonian Archives department presents Yesterday’s Tomorrows: Visions of the Future on Film, a 1984 film that was part of a NMAH exhibit on “how past visions of the future continue to impact our present and inspire even further futures”, plus commentary from current conservator William Bennett. This is part of the Smithsonian 175th Film Fest, presenting films from the Smithsonian archives.

Due to copyright restrictions, viewers will need to register for a Zoom webinar; the presentation won’t be streamed or saved on YouTube.

(6) FROM AREA 57. “Heinz Debuts ‘Marz Edition’ Ketchup Made With Tomatoes Grown in Mars-Like Conditions” reports Smithsonian Magazine.

On Monday, Heinz revealed its first bottle of “Marz Edition” ketchup, a special recipe made with tomatoes grown in extreme temperature and soil conditions similar to the Red Planet. The team of scientists behind the celestial sauce, which is the product of two years of research and development, says the delicious achievement also advances the possibility of long-term food production on Mars.

“We’re so excited that our team of experts have been able to grow tomatoes in conditions found on another planet and share our creation with the world,” Cristina Kenz of Kraft Heinz said in a statement. “From analyzing the soil from Martian conditions two years ago to harvesting now, it’s been a journey that’s proved wherever we end up, Heinz Tomato Ketchup will still be enjoyed for generations to come.”…

Also note that The Late Show with Stephen Colbert last night included a “cold open” of Hunt’s trying to one-up Heinz with Uranus catsup—“The best tasting thing to come out of Uranus.” 

(7) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

1966 — Fifty-five years on NBC, Star Trek’s “The Corbomite Maneuver” first aired. It was the tenth episode of the first season, and it was written by Jerry Sohl who had previously written for Alfred Hitchcock PresentsThe Outer Limits, The Invaders, and The Twilight Zone. (His other Trek scripts were “Whom Gods Destroy” and “This Side of Paradise”.) It was the first episode that was filmed in which Kelley played Dr. Leonard McCoy, Nichols played Lt. Uhura and Whitney played Yeoman Rand, though we first saw them in “The Man Trap”.  Clint Howard, brother of Ron Howard, played Balok, and Ted Cassidy, who was Gorn in “Arena” and the android Ruk in “What Are Little Girls Made Of?”, voiced the Balok puppet here. So did critics like it? No idea as I can’t find any contemporary reviews of it though media critics now love it. Most put it in their top twenty of all the Trek series episodes. It was nominated for a Hugo at NyCon 3, the year that “The Menagerie” won. “The Naked Time” was also nominated that year. 

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born November 10, 1924 Russell Johnson. Best known in what is surely genre for being Professor Roy Hinkley in Gilligan’s Island. His genre career started off with four Fifties films, It Came from Outer Space, This Island Earth, Attack of the Crab Monsters and The Space Children. He would later appear in both the Twilight Zone and Outer Limits. On ALF, he would appear as Professor Roy Hinkley in “Somewhere Over the Rerun”.  (Died 2014.)
  • Born November 10, 1932 Roy Scheider. First genre role was as Dr. Heywood R. Floyd in 2010, the sequel to 2001: A Space Odyssey. His other major genre performance was as Captain Nathan Bridger in the SeaQuest DSV series. He also has roles in The Curse of the Living Corpse (his first acting role, a very low budget horror film), one of The Punisher films, Dracula III: Legacy and Naked Lunch which may or may not be genre.  I do not consider the Jaws films to be genre, but you may do so. (Died 2008.)
  • Born November 10, 1943 Milt Stevens. Today is indeed his Birthday. On the day that OGH announced his unexpected passing did a wonderful post and y’all did splendid commentary about him, so I’ll just send you over there. (Died 2017.)
  • Born November 10, 1950 Dean Wesley Smith, 71. Editor of Pulphouse magazine which fortunately Black Gate magazine has provided us with a fascinating history which you can read herePulphouse I first encountered when I collected the works of Charles de Lint who was in issue number eight way back in the summer issue of 1990. As a writer, he is known for his use of licensed properties such as StarTrekSmallvilleAliensMen in Black, and Quantum Leap. He is also known for a number of his original novels, such as the Tenth Planet series written in collaboration with his wife, Kristine Kathryn Rusch. 
  • Born November 10, 1955 Roland Emmerich, 66. Usually I don’t touch upon SJW affairs here (well I do when I want to) but he’s very strong campaigner for the LGBT community, and is openly gay so bravo for him!  Now back to his genre credits.  The Noah’s Ark Principle was in ‘84 by him written and directed by him as his thesis after seeing Star Wars at the Hochschule für Fernsehen und Film MünchenMoon 44 followed which likely most of you haven’t seen but now we get to his Hollywood films, to wit Universal SoldierThe High Crusade (yes, the Poul Anderson novel — who’s seen it?), StargateIndependence Day… no, I’m going to stop there. Suffice it to say he’s created a lot of genre film. And oh, he directed Stonewall, the 2015 look at that historic event which I know isn’t genre or genre adjacent but is worth noting. 
  • Born November 10, 1960 Neil Gaiman, 61. Where to start? By far, Neverwhere is my favorite work by him followed by the Sandman series and Stardust. And I sort of liked American GodsCoraline is just creepy. By far, I think his best script is Babylon 5’s “Day of The Dead” though his Doctor Who episodes, “The Doctor’s Wife” and “Nightmare in Silver” are interesting, particularly the former. 
  • Born November 10, 1971 Holly Black, 50. Best known for her Spiderwick Chronicles, which were created with fellow writer and illustrator Tony DiTerlizzi, and for the Modern Faerie Tales YA trilogy.  Her first novel was Tithe: A Modern Faerie Tale. (It’s very, very good.) There have been two sequels set in the same universe. The first, Valiant, won the first Andre Norton Award for Young Adult Science Fiction and Fantasy.  Doll Bones which is really, really creepy was awarded a Newbery Honor and a Mythopoeic Fantasy Award.  Suffice it to say if you like horror, you’ll love her. 
  • Born November 10, 1982 Aliette de Bodard, 39. Author of the oh-so-excellent Xuya Universe series. Her Xuya Universe novella “The Tea Master and the Detective” won a Nebula Award and a British Fantasy Award, and was nominated for the Hugo and World Fantasy Award. “The Shipmaker”, also set herein, won a BSFA Award for Best Short Fiction. Her other major series is The Dominion of the Fallen which is equally lauded. She’s nominated for a Hugo this year for her “The Inaccessibility of Heaven” novelette. 

(9) COMICS SECTION.

(10) TAKE THE CASH AND THE CREDIT, TOO. [Item by David Doering.] I caught a reference on Cracked about writer credits and comics. A fan asserted that comic writers only starting get credit regularly thanks to Marv Wolfman. I thought, hmmm… Really?

What do you know? It’s true. The Comics Code Authority in the 60s banned mention of “wolfman” in comics, BUT  “In DC Comics’ House of Secrets #83, the book’s host said that the story was told to him by ‘a wandering wolfman.’” Comically [pun intended], DC then credited the story to “Marv Wolfman”, making the reference OK by the CCA. 

After that, writers asking and getting credit for their stories. See full details and scans of the comics at CBR.com: “Comic Book Urban Legends Revealed #119”.

(11) FALSE GRIT. Joel Haver assures us “You’ll never find a more sandy planet of sand.” So this is a Dune parody, you assume? Hell no, it’s a Star Wars parody – go figure.

(12) TAKING THE MICK OUT. “Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind Blueprints Leaked Online” – and Blog Mickey has a bucket full of what leaked.

A set of blueprints reportedly belonging to the Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind attraction have leaked online. The attraction, which has been under construction for more than 4 years, will open sometime in 2022 at EPCOT. The blueprints pull the curtain back a bit on a project that Disney has only slowly revealed information about. It’s unclear how accurate the blueprints are to the final product, but lets take a look….

…As we saw in early construction photos, roller coaster track weaves throughout the building, but the blueprints show just how much track is inside.

It’s unclear how much of the roller coaster track is for the actual attraction, and how much is for the storage, but the majority of the attraction will take place in the large gravity building that was built from scratch for this attraction….

(13) THE GALACTIC HERO BILL. John Scalzi revealed his true net worth today. Don’t you agree that “Billions and billions” is a phrase that suits an sf writer very well?

(14) SHOW NO MERCY. James Davis Nicoll’s latest Young People Read Old SFF introduces the panel to Ursula K. Le Guin’s 1971 “Vaster Than Empires and More Slow.”

“Vaster” takes place in Le Guin’s Hainish setting, where for the most part other worlds are inhabited by variant humans seeded in the ancient past by the Hainish. “Vaster” is an exception: first contact here is not between two branches of humanity but between humans and something very alien. Let’s see what the Young People make of it! 

Sort of like a Beat Bobby Flay episode, the young judges record a split decision.

(15) LOST IN SPACE TRAILER. Official trailer for the third and final season of Lost in Space. All episodes drop December 1 on Netflix.

(16) UNHOBBLING THE HUBBLE. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] This latest problem started 23 October. NASA seems cautiously optimistic that the Hubble can make a full recovery. WIRED has the story: “NASA Tries to Save Hubble, Again”.

THE HUBBLE SPACE telescope, one of the most famous telescopes of the 20th and 21st centuries, has faltered once again. After a computer hardware problem arose in late October, NASA engineers put Hubble into a coma, suspending its science operations as they carefully attempt to bring its systems back online.

Engineers managed to revive one of its instruments earlier this week, offering hope that they will end the telescope’s convalescence as they restart its other systems, one at a time. “I think we are on a path to recovery,” says Jim Jeletic, Hubble’s deputy project manager.

The problem began on October 23, when the school bus-sized space probe’s instruments didn’t receive a standard synchronization message generated by its control unit. Two days later, NASA engineers saw that the instruments missed multiple such messages, so they put them in “safe mode,” powering down some systems and shuttering the cameras.

Some problems are fairly easy to fix, like when a random high-energy particle hits the probe and flips a bit on a switch. But when engineers encounter an unknown problem, they’re meticulous. The slow process is designed to protect Hubble’s systems and make sure the spacecraft continues to thrive and enable scientific discovery for as long as possible. “You don’t want to continually put the instruments in and out of safe mode. You’re powering things on and off, you’re changing the temperature of things over and over again, and we try to minimize that,” Jeletic says.

In this case, they successfully brought the Advanced Camera for Surveys back online on November 7. It’s one of the newer cameras, installed in 2002, and it’s designed for imaging large areas of the sky at once and in great detail. Now they’re watching closely as it collects data again this week, checking to see whether the error returns. If the camera continues working smoothly, the engineers will proceed to testing Hubble’s other instruments….

(17) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In “Eternals Pitch Meeting” on Screen Rant, Ryan George, in a spoiler-filled episode, has the writer say he has characters including “a speedster, a lady with ancient weapons, and a super-strong guy who shoots beams from his eyes.” The producer asks, “Yeah, yeah, and Batman and Aquaman. Are you sure you’re in the right office?”  The writer also can’t explain why introducing 10 superheroes we’ve never seen before can’t be done in an eight-hour Disney Plus show instead of a single movie.

After Avengers Endgame, Marvel has the massive task of not only continuing their surviving heroes’ stories, but also making audiences care about all new characters and all-new universe-threatening events. Their latest movie Eternals takes on the gargantuan challenge of introducing ten new superheroes AND explaining why they’re only showing up now. This thing’s getting complicated. Eternals definitely raises some questions. Like should this have been a Disney Plus show? Why do the Eternals only have important conversations at Golden Hour? Why is introducing humans to weapons not considered interfering in their affairs? Wouldn’t the Celestials be interested in stopping Thanos if they need a massive population to birth celestials? Why didn’t Kumail have a shirtless scene after all that work!? What have these post-credit scenes become?! To answer all these questions and more, step inside the Pitch Meeting that led to Eternals! It’ll be super easy, barely an inconvenience.

[Thanks to Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, John King Tarpinian, N., Chris Barkley, Lise Andreasen, David Doering, Joey Eschrich, Bruce D. Arthurs, M.C. Hogarth, Andrew Porter, Michael Toman, and Cat Eldridge  for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Jon Meltzer.]