Pixel Scroll 2/15/21 A Hit!
A Palpatine Hit!

(1) INVESTIGATION OF BAEN’S BAR. [Item by rcade.] Jason Sanford has published an investigative report on the disturbing number of right-wing users calling for political violence on Baen’s Bar, the private message board of the SF/F publisher Baen Books. “Baen Books Forum Being Used to Advocate for Political Violence”, a public post on Patreon.  

Some of the users advocating violence are even site moderators.

A moderator with the username Theoryman wrote, “As I’ve already pointed out, rendering ANY large city is uninhabitable is quite easy… And the Left lives in cities. The question is just how many of its inhabitants will survive…” Theoryman later in the thread suggested shooting transformers in cities with high-power rifles to make the cities “uninhabitable until restored,” adding in another post that “The point is to kill enough of them that they can not arise for another 50 years… or more.” …

[T]his user is a moderator for Baen’s Bar, meaning the publishing company selected this user to monitor and manage discussions on their forum.

While stating that he does not believe Baen Books endorses the calls for violence hosted on its forum, Sanford has questions he’d like Baen publisher Toni Weisskopf to be asked when she is the guest of honor at Worldcon this year.

During this year’s interview I’d really like Weisskopf to be asked about her company’s private forum being used to advocate for political violence. Does she find this acceptable? Does she condone these types of statements? Why did Baen Books previously ban some topics from their forum but doesn’t currently ban advocacy of political violence?

(2) RESPONSES TO SANFORD’S ARTICLE. There’s been an outpouring of response. Here is just a small sampling.

Marie Brennan:

Christopher Hensley on Facebook:

Well, I guess it’s time to burn this bridge. This is the last of a long chain of harmful behavior by Baen Books, and their Editor Toni Weisskopf. Set aside the political affiliations of the authors being mentioned. Baen’s stable is built around authors with a documented history of harassment. They are what’s known as missing stairs…

Even Publishers Weekly tweeted the link.

Jon Del Arroz tried to add a comment to the discussion on Sanford’s Patreon page – it’s gone now. “Helicopter rides” is a common right-wing reference to Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet’s use of “death flights” to murder opponents.

Jason Sanford tweeted this update:

(3) REDISCOVERING SF BOOK CLUB ART. The second part of Doug Ellis’ series looking at the art of “Things to Come” (the newsletter of The Science Fiction Book Club) has now gone live over at Black Gate. This time he covers 1958-1960, which includes seldom seen work by Virgil Finlay: “The Art of Things to Come, Part 2: 1958-1960”.

The bulletin of the SFBC, Things to Come, which announced the featured selections available and alternates, sometimes just reproduced the dust jacket art for the books in question. However, in many cases the art was created solely for the bulletin, and was not used in the book or anywhere else. Nearly all of the art for the first 20 years of Things to Come is exclusive to that bulletin, and as a result hasn’t been seen by many SF fans. In this series, I’ll reproduce some of that art, chosen by virtue of the art, the story that it illustrates or the author of the story. The first installment featured art from 1957 and earlier, while this installment covers 1958-1960, presented chronologically.

(4) HISTORY-MAKING ASTRONOMY. The latest episode of the Center for Science and the Imagination’s podcast The Imagination Desk features an interview with Katie Bouman, a professor at Caltech who was part of the Event Horizon Telescope team that took the first image of a black hole: The Imagination Desk: Katie Bouman.

Katie Bouman is an assistant professor of computing and mathematical sciences, electrical engineering, and astronomy at Caltech in Pasadena, California. In this episode, we talk about scientific collaboration, imagination, and Katie’s work on the Event Horizon Telescope, which produced the first image of a black hole by combining insights and methods from signal processing, computer vision, machine learning, and physics. 

The podcast is on the CSI website (which links out to the other services), Apple PodcastsSpotifyRadioPublic, and Libsyn.

(5) THE MOST IN UNINTENTIONAL HUMOR. The gourmands at ScreenRant serve fans the “10 Silliest 50s Sci-Fi Movies, Ranked”.

There is no shortage of silly science fiction films produced during the 1950s. With the fear and paranoia over the atomic bomb and its potentially monstrous mutations, the subgenre took the opportunity to explore some of the most outlandish stories, plots, and premises in cinematic history during this era….

It’s impressive to consider that this one is in effect last on their list. Imagine what must follow? (Plan 9 is number one.)

10. King Dinosaur

… Here’s the kicker. The giant monsters are led by King Dinosaur, which is really just an iguana forced to stand on its hind legs to appear like a Tyrannosaurus Rex. The foursome uses atomic power to destroy the iguana in the end.

(6) ROVER COME OVER. The Perseverance rover is set to land on the surface of Mars on February 18, 2021. JPL explains the challenges: “7 Minutes to Mars: NASA’s Perseverance Rover Attempts Most Dangerous Landing Yet”.

All landings on Mars are difficult, but NASA’s Perseverance rover is attempting to touch down in the most challenging terrain on Mars ever targeted. The intense entry, descent, and landing phase, known as EDL, begins when the spacecraft reaches the top of the Martian atmosphere. Engineers have referred to the time it takes to land on Mars as the “seven minutes of terror.” The landing sequence is complex and targeting a location like Jezero Crater on Mars is only possible because of new landing technologies known as Range Trigger and Terrain-Relative Navigation.

(7) MEMORY LANE.

  • 1996 – Twenty-five years ago at L.A. Con III, The Diamond Age by Neal Stephenson wins the Hugo for Best Novel. Other Nominees fur this Award were The Time Ships by Stephen Baxter, Brightness Reef by David Brin, The Terminal Experiment  by Robert J. Sawyer and Remake by Connie Willis. It would also win the Locus Award for Best SF Novel, and be nominated for the HOMer, Nebula, Prometheus, Campbell Memorial and Clarke Awards.

(8) ALEXANDER OBIT. Wanda June Alexander, a freelance editor for Tor for 22 years (1984-2006), and a high school English teacher in New Mexico, died of cancer on February 14. One of the projects she worked on while with Tor was George R.R. Martin’s The Ice Dragon, a fully-illustrated children’s book.

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]

  • Born February 14, 1883 Sax Rohmer. Though doubtless best remembered for his series of novels featuring the arch-fiend Fu Manchu. I’ll also single out The Romance of Sorcery because he based his mystery-solving magician character Bazarada on Houdini who he was friends with. The Fourth Doctor story, “The Talons of Weng-Chiang” whose lead villain looked a lot like most depictions of Fu Manchu did. (Died 1959.) (CE) 
  • Born February 15, 1915 – L. Robert Tschirky.  Half a dozen covers, two interiors for us.  Art director for Encyclopedia Americana; travel articles (particularly Spain) in e.g. the NY Times.  Here is The Mislaid Charm.  Here is Without Sorcery.  Here is The Incomplete Enchanter.  Here is Lest Darkness Fall.  Here is a piece of bibliographic history.  (Died 2003) [JH]
  • Born February 15, 1915 – Ian Ballantine.  Pioneering publisher.  First President of Bantam.  Ballantine Books an early publisher of SF paperback originals; first publisher of authorized U.S. edition of Tolkien; a hundred Richard Powers covers.  World Fantasy Award, SF Hall of Fame (both with wife Betty Ballantine).  (Died 1995) [JH]
  • Born February 15, 1935 – Paul Wenzel, age 86.  A score of covers.  Here is the Nov 58 Galaxy.  Here is the Sep 62 If.  Here is the Dec 63 Fantastic.  Here is the Aug 66 Worlds of Tomorrow.  [JH]
  • Born February 14, 1945 Jack Dann, 76. Dreaming Down-Under which he co-edited with Janeen Webb is an amazing anthology of Australian genre fiction. It won a Ditmar Award and was the first Australian fiction book ever to win the World Fantasy Award. If you’ve not read it, go do so. As for his novels, I’m fond of High Steel written with Jack C. Haldeman II, and The Man Who Melted. He’s not that well-stocked digitally speaking though Dreaming Down-Under is available at the usual digital suspects. (CE)
  • Born February 14, 1948 Art Spiegelman, 73. Author and illustrator of Maus which if you’ve not read, you really should. He also wrote MetaMaus which goes into great detail how he created that work. And yes I know he had a long and interesting career in underground comics but I’ll be damn if I can find any that are either genre or genre adjacent. (CE)
  • Born February 15, 1951 – Lisanne Norman, age 70.  Nine novels, a dozen shorter stories.  Some activity with U.K. fandom.  Interviewed in Interzone.  “I trained as a teacher so I’m interested in everything….  used to read a minimum of 8 books a week….  it’s so easy now to be influenced while I’m writing that I don’t read nearly as much as before.  [Yet] it’s mostly SF I read.”  [JH]
  • Born February 14, 1958 Cat Eldridge, 63. Cat Eldridge is the publisher of Green Man Review and Sleeping Hedgehog. Cat, who’s had some severe health problems, likes to remind people, “Technically I died in 2017 and was revived in the same year. Repeatedly.” (CE)
  • Born February 14, 1971 Renee O’Connor, 50. Gabrielle on Hercules: The Legendary Journeys and Xena: Warrior Princess. I’m reasonably sure that I watched every damn episode of both series when they aired originally. Quite fun stuff. Her first genre role was first as a waitress in Tales from the Crypt andshe’s had some genre film work such as Monster Ark and Alien Apocalypse. She’s also played Lady Macbeth in the Shakespeare by the Sea’s production of Macbeth. (CE)
  • Born February 15, 1959 – Elizabeth Knox, age 62.  Ten novels, two shorter stories for us; eight other novels; essays.  Co-founded the New Zealand literary journal Sport.  Prime Minister’s Award.  Companion of the NZ Order of Merit.  Interviewed in SFRA (SF Research Ass’n) Review.  Here she is on The Master and Margarita.  [JH]
  • Born February 15, 1975 – Erick Setiawan, age 46.  So far one novel, Of Bees and Mist (2009), about which there have been many yeas and nays – although I see little among us.  In April 2013 he said “I am feverishly finishing another book – my plan is to get it done by end of year.”  No blame, it’s hard work.  [JH]

(10) COMICS SECTION.

(11) I HEART PLUTO. [Item by Steven H Silver.] Lowell Observatory is running the on-line I Heart Pluto this week.  It started yesterday and runs through Thursday, which is the 91st anniversary of the discovery of Pluto.  A full schedule can be found here including links to the talks already given.

Ron Miller will be speaking on Imagining Pluto on Wednesday and I’ll note that on his bio page, he is sitting with his Hugo Award.

(12) BOUND FOR THE ISS. “Russian cargo ship launched to International Space Station”ABC News carried the update.

An unmanned Russian cargo ship launched successfully Monday with a load of supplies for the International Space Station.

The Progress MS-16 cargo ship blasted off as scheduled at 9:45 a.m. (0445 GMT) from the Russia-leased Baikonur launch facility in Kazakhstan and reached a designated orbit en route to the station.

It is carrying water, propellant and other supplies and is set to dock at the space outpost on Wednesday….

(13) WHAT ARE YOU DOING HERE? “Scientists accidentally found life under 3,000 feet of ice in Antarctica. ‘Never in a million years’ would they have expected it, the lead scientist said.”Yahoo! has the story.

… The video reveals two types of unidentified animals, shown here in a video from the British Antarctic Survey. The animals in red seem to have long stalks, whereas another type of animal, highlighted in white, looks more like a round sponge-like animal.,,,

The scientists say these animals are about 160 miles from the open sea.

“Our discovery raises so many more questions than it answers, such as how did they get there?” Griffith said in a press release. “What are they eating? How long have they been there?”

The scientists said their next step was to understand whether the animals were from a previously unknown species.

“To answer our questions we will have to find a way of getting up close with these animals and their environment,” Griffiths said.

(14) THE BRITCHES OF TOKO-RI. Jon Del Arroz continues to make his brand known everywhere.

(15) I’VE HEARD THAT VOICE BEFORE. There’s an app called PRAY where James Earl Jones reads The Bible. I’m wondering — if you don’t log in often enough, does he say “I find your lack of faith disturbing”?

(16) KAIJU-SIZED CREDENTIAL. Yahoo! is quite right – the “Godzilla Vs. Kong Trailer Is Even Better with a Cat”.

… A YouTuber that goes by JKK Films put his cat, Wayne, into the trailer, and it’s incredible. There’s something so special about a giant super-imposed kitty yawning in the background while the big monster boys fight….

(17) UP, UP, AND AWAY. Film Theory answers a serious scientific question: “Pixar’s Up, How Many Balloons Does It Take To Lift A House?”

Have you ever wondered if the house in Up could really float away on balloons? So have I but that is not the most INTERESTING question! You see, people have tried to figure that out before. What I aim to do today, Loyal Theorists, is figure out the actual COST of making a balloon powered flying house WORK! That’s right, we are not stopping until this house would really fly!

(18) VIDEO OF THE DAY. In “Prometheus Pitch Meeting” on ScreenRant, Ryan George says the characters in this Alien prequel are “the worst scientists you can imagine” because they take their helmets off in an alien cave because there’s breathable oxygen and try to escape a giant rolling spacecraft by trying to outrun it instead of leaping to one side.

[Thanks to Hampus Eckerman, James Davis Nicoll, John Hertz, JJ, Mike Kennedy, John King Tarpinian, Martin Morse Wooster, Jason Sanford, Joey Eschrich, Michael Toman, Kit Harding, Cat Eldridge, Danny Sichel, rcade, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]

Pixel Scroll 9/29/20 The Three-Tribble Problem

(1) TREK THE VOTE. Trek fans are called on to volunteer their time to help protect election integrity in this YouTube clip featuring many stars from all of the shows, including Gates McFadden, Wil Wheaton, and Armin Shimmerman.

(2) R.U.R. EXHIBIT. Radio Prague International posted on its English language page “Karel Capek’s ‘robots’ at 100 – new exhibition highlights foreign productions of R.U.R.” (although, of course, they used the proper character to begin the author’s last name, for which we have substituted “C” because WordPress turns the other into a question mark.)

This week marks the 100th anniversary of the publication of R.U.R., the dystopian theatre play by Karel Capek that introduced the word ‘robot’ into English – and to science fiction as a whole. A new exhibition called A Journey into the Depths of the Robot’s Soul focuses on how Capek’s ground-breaking play was received and staged abroad.

R.U.R. (or ‘Rossum’s Universal Robots’) was Karel ?apek’s most popular work during his lifetime, both in Czechoslovakia and abroad. By 1923, a couple of years after its premiere in Prague, the dystopian play had been translated into 30 languages and been staged in major theatres in Europe and across the Atlantic.

Exhibition curator Zdenek Vacek is director of the Karel Capek Memorial, a museum housed in the writer’s summer residence in Stará Hu?, south of Prague. For the centennial anniversary, he says, they decided to focus on the history of R.U.R.’s early foreign performances and influence on writers around the world.

(3) BOLDLY GOING? A comic con in LA in December? Don’t count on it: “L.A. Comic Con announces in-person event, but conventions are still banned in the state” – the LA Times has the story.

L.A. Comic Con says it is moving forward with its plan to hold an in-person convention in December at the L.A. Convention Center, but large gatherings — such as conventions and conferences — are currently not permitted anywhere in California amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

The event’s organizers explained in a Sunday announcement on the L.A. Comic Con website that they have been working with the convention center and taking guidance from state and local officials to plan an event they think will “be both safe and fun” for attendees and exhibitors.

But Doane Liu, the executive director of the Los Angeles Department of Convention and Tourism Development, told The Times on Monday that this announcement came as a surprise and is premature.

“Under current state health guidelines, conventions are not allowed,” Liu said. “It’s not known when they will be allowed.”

…In a video posted to YouTube on Tuesday, the chief executive of L.A. Comic Con parent company Comikaze Entertainment, Chris DeMoulin, clarified that L.A. Comic Con is currently “a potential show.”

(4) DISNEY RETRENCHING. In fact, here’s more of the news we’re really expecting to see: “Disney to lay off 28,000 workers at domestic theme parks” reports the LA Times.

The Burbank-based company said Tuesday that it would lay off 28,000 employees at its domestic parks division, which includes Disneyland Resort in Anaheim and Walt Disney World in Orlando, Fla.

The company’s once-mighty parks division has been severely hobbled by the coronavirus health crisis. In March, Disney announced it was furloughing more than 100,000 workers after the pandemic forced the company to shut down its lucrative theme parks.

Walt Disney World has been operating with strict capacity limits and social distancing requirements. California has not yet allowed theme parks including Disneyland to resume business.

(5) TRAILER PARK. SciFiNow alerted viewers to “Cognition: Trailer Revealed For Sci-Fi Short”.

COGNITION is a short dystopian sci-fi drama / thriller about a son confronting his past trauma. Journeying through the symbolic landscape of the subconscious mind, the story follows an unbreakable bond between father and son…. A bond that transcends SPACE AND TIME…..

(6) ASHKIN DIES. Nobel laureate Arthur Ashkin, who the New York Times styles as having invented a ‘Tractor Beam’, died September 21 at the age of 98.

Arthur Ashkin, a physicist who was awarded a 2018 Nobel Prize for figuring out how to harness the power of light to trap microscopic objects for closer study, calling his invention optical tweezers, died on Sept. 21 at his home in Rumson, N.J. He was 98.

Optical tweezers — or optical traps, as they are more properly known — use the pressure from a highly focused laser beam to manipulate microscopic objects, from atoms to living organisms, like viruses and bacteria.

As the Nobel committee wrote, Dr. Ashkin had “invented optical tweezers that grab particles, atoms, molecules, and living cells with their laser beam fingers.”

Trapping biological material proved to have groundbreaking practical applications in research and in understanding the behavior of the basic building blocks of life, like DNA, and other biological systems. Today, optical tweezers are widely manufactured and sold to researchers.

Dr. Ashkin’s “tweezer” is created by shining a laser — a beam of coherent monochromatic light — through a tiny magnifying lens. The lens creates a focal point for the laser, and, by a strange twist of nature, particles are drawn near that focal point and trapped there, unable to move up or down or backward or forward.

Steven M. Block, a professor of biology and applied physics at Stanford University, compared optical tweezers to the kind of immobilizing technology postulated in “Star Trek” and “Star Wars,” calling them “the closest thing to a tractor beam that humans have ever produced.”…

(7) MEDIA ANNIVESARY.

  • Fifty years ago, Ursula Le Guin’s The Left Hand of Darkness won the Hugo Award for Best Novel at Heicon ’70. (It would win the Nebula Award as well.) (The  runner-ups for the Hugo were Robert Silverberg’s Up the Line, Piers Anthony‘s Macroscope, Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.‘s  Slaughterhouse-Five and Norman Spinrad’s Bug Jack Barron.)  It was published first by Ace Books in their paperback Ace SF Special, Series 1 in 1969, and has had at least thirty editions in eleven languages though not Finnish. The first edition of The Left Hand of Darkness did not contain an introduction though later editions do. 

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]

  • Born September 29, 1942 Ian McShane, 78. Setting aside Deadwood which is the favorite series of Emma Bull and Will Shetterly where he’s Al Swearengen, he portrays Mr. Wednesday in American Gods.and it turns out, though I don’t remember it, he was Dr. Robert Bryson in Babylon 5: The River of Souls film. And he’s Blackbeard in Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides. Now you tell me what your favorite genre role is by him. (CE)
  • Born September 29, 1944 Isla Blair, 76. Her first credited film appearance was in Dr. Terror’s House of Horrors as an art gallery assistant.  She was Isabella in The King’s Demons, a Fifth Doctor story. She’s in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade as the wife of her real-life husband Julian Glover, and credited as Mrs. Glover. Finally, she has played a starring role as Sally in the BBC’s alternate history An Englishman’s Castle series. (CE)
  • Born September 29, 1949 – Joêlle Wintrebert, 71.  Nine novels, three dozen shorter stories; three years editing Univers; essays, reviews in Alerte!FictionFuturs; edited Petite anthologie de la science-fiction (all in French).  [JH]
  • Born September 29, 1952 – Lou Stathis.  Fan and pro.  Part of the SF Forum that gave birth to ICON.  Wrote for FantasticMississippi ReviewSF EyeThrustVertigo (i.e. DC Comics’). One novel.  Here is a Jeff Schalles photo from the mid-1980s.  (Died 1997) [JH]
  • Born September 29, 1959 Scott MacDonald, 61. He’s been on four Trek shows:  Next Gen, VoyagerDeep Space Nine, and  Enterprise. He’s also on Space Above and BeyondBabylon 5X-FilesStargate: SG-1Carnivale and Threshold.. (CE) 
  • Born September 29, 1961 Nicholas Briggs, 59. A Whovian among Whoians who started out writing Who fanfic. First off, he’s the voice of the Daleks and the Cybermen in the new series of shows. Second he’s the Executive Producer of Big Finish Productions, the audio drama company that has produced more Doctor WhoTorchwood and other related works that you’d think possible. Third he’s appeared as himself in The Five(ish) Doctors Reboot. (CE) 
  • Born September 29, 1961 Dale Dickey, 59. She was Martha Bozeman in a recurring role on True Blood. She’s also been on Them: CovenantThe X-Files and Bones, and in two genre films, Changeling and Iron Man 3. (CE) 
  • Born September 29, 1961 – John O’Halloran, 59.  Long active at SF cons.  Webmaster for the Int’l Costumers Guild, 1989.  “Gerard” in the Best of Show “Trumps of Amber”, Torcon 3 (61st Worldcon) Masquerade, see here (at right) and here; judge, LoneStarCon 3 Masquerade (71st).  Official Photographer of Events, Loncon 3 (72nd); Official Photographer for Candid Shots, Sasquan (73rd) – see his Sasquan album here.  Fan Guest of Honor (with wife Chris), Baycon 2013.  Taiko drummer (as Chris is too).  [JH]
  • Born September 29, 1978 – Aislinn Batstone, 42.  (Forename is Irish, pronounced like “Aish-lin”.)  “What the Witch Wants” in Stupefying, “Instructions in My Absence” in Timeless Tales, a dozen more.  Master’s degree in Philosophy, taught philosophy, married a philosopher.  So there.  [JH, B.A. in Philosophy]
  • Born September 29, 1983 – Elisa McCausland, 37.  Half a dozen books (some collaborative).  Ignotus award for Wonder Woman about feminism as a superpower; later, with Diego Salgado, Supernovas, a feminist history of audiovisual SF; McC also does “Postheroic Transmutations”, about the subversive power of superheroines, on the Rock & Comics podcast (all in Spanish, i.e. her section of R&C is «Transmutaciones Postheroicas»).  [JH]

(9) COMICS SECTION.

(10) STOCKING UP. Virgin Galactic SPCE stock recorded big gains after more financial firms recommended it to investors: “Virgin Galactic jumps 25% in its second best day ever after getting Wall Street’s full endorsement”.

Shares of Virgin Galactic surged nearly 25% in trading Monday after Wall Street firms continued to set higher expectations for the space tourism stock.

The stock jump came after Bank of America and Susquehanna began coverage of Virgin Galactic. Notably, the two firms join six others in recommending Virgin Galactic’s stock to investors, giving the company the eight Wall Street buy ratings – and zero to hold or sell.

“No company in our coverage universe has anywhere near comparable growth potential,” Bank of America analyst Ron Epstein said.

Virgin Galactic’s 24.8% jump, with shares closing at $20.51, was its second-biggest in a trading day since its public debut last year. Including Monday’s climb, the stock is up about 78% this year.

(11) ALWAYS THOSE DARNED MUGGLES. “Scots Harry Potter fans slammed for cramming station to see Hogwarts Express” reports the UK’s Daly Record.

Scots Harry Potter fans have been slammed as ‘idiotic’ after scores of people crammed onto a railway platform to watch a train from the iconic film franchise pass by.

The steam train, made famous by the blockbuster movie series, travelled from its winter base in Carnforth in Lancashire on Monday.

The ‘Hogwarts Express’ route had several stops at a number of Scots stations, including Dalmuir in West Dunbartonshire.

The locomotive chuntered past the gathered Potter fanatics at around 5.45pm.

But photos that emerged of the fleeting moment sparked fury on social media.

Locals slammed Dalmuir residents for ignoring social distancing guidelines.

Some claimed that many among the large crowd on the platform were not wearing face masks or coverings and were also not staying two metres away from each other.

Many took to Facebook to vent their anger after the image was shared online.

One wrote: “Yes, it’s a train from Harry Potter, but I think there are much more important things going on.

“Covid-19 is so strong right now, Christmas is under threat.

“We are meant to be social distancing and none of this is happening whatsoever for a train.

“This is shameful, disgusting and very disappointing.”

Another added: “Where is the social distance there?”

A third commented: “I cannot believe the stupidity of these people all for the sake of a Harry Potter train….

(12) ABOUT YOUR STAR WARS KNOWLEDGE. Ranker contends there are “25 Things You Didn’t Know About The Original ‘Star Wars’ Trilogy”. (If I didn’t know that many answers on my driver’s exam, I’d be walking!) Here’s Number One —

1. James Earl Jones Wasn’t Credited By Request

James Earl Jones’ long career is filled with exceptional roles, but he’s probably best known for providing the voice of Darth Vader. David Prowse spoke all the dialogue as the movie was filmed, but his British West Country accent wasn’t working for George Lucas.

It’s unclear whether Lucas always planned to dub over Prowse’s dialogue, but in the end, that’s what he did, using Jones’ dialogue instead. Jones, however, asked that he not be given credit for his work in the film’s credit reel, and in the original, he wasn’t. 

Jones felt that his contribution to the film was minimal and he didn’t deserve credit. Over time, he realized the significance his voice gave to the character and reprised the role in subsequent movies, television series, and video games.

(13) BUSINESS OUTREACH. “How do you know you’ve arrived at the Uncommon Open Air weekend? You see the bookshop with a sea monster coming out of the windows,” the owners said on Facebook.  This landmark is the River Bookstore in Amherstburg, Ontario.

(14) VIDEO OF THE DAY. The Screen Junkies, in “Firefly Honest Trailer” on YouTube, invite viewers to “suit up in their dustiest browns and beiges” to watch Firefly, the show with so much “quippy dialogue” that “if the ship goes under 50 quips an hour, it’s primed to explode!”

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, JJ, Cyril Simsa, Martin Morse Wooster, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Michael Toman, Michael J. Walsh, Rob Thornton, John Hertz, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel “One-Body” Dern.]

Pixel Scroll 11/17/19 Maybe Quality Time With the Cats Would Be Better

(1) XKCD ANSWERS. A New York Times interviewer learned that “Randall Munroe Loves Outdated Views of the Future”.

Your web comic XKCD counts a lot of science fiction fans among its audience. Are you a science fiction fan yourself?

I grew up reading Asimov short stories, and I’ve read some miscellaneous stuff over the years, but I never feel like I’ve read more than a tiny fraction of what’s out there. I honestly don’t read all that many books, at least not compared to a lot of writers I know, and that extends to sci-fi too. But I do occasionally read high-concept/hard sci-fi — the kind of book where something big and physics-y is threatening to destroy the planet and/or universe. I’m also a total sucker for time travel stories.

What kind of reader were you as a child? Which childhood books and authors stick with you most?

Whatever was lying around my house or our town library. I read lots of newspaper comic collections, like “Calvin and Hobbes” and “The Far Side,” and an awful lot of “Star Wars” novels…

(2) TAKEI Q&A. Rosanna Greenstreet, in “George Takei: ‘My dream dinner party? My colleagues from Star Trek, with one exception’”, in the Guardian, doesn’t have George Takei name the exception, but you learn his favorite show tunes.

What would your superpower be?
Gene Roddenberry, who created Star Trek, said that the strength of the Starship Enterprise was its diverse team working in concert. I would like to have the superpower to bring that kind of society to ours today.

(3) NAMES TO CONJURE WITH. “13 ‘Avengers: Endgame’ actors submitted for Oscars contention” — Disney submitted 13 actors/actresses from Endgame to the Oscars… All in the supporting categories.

Even Martin Scorsese would have to admit that Avengers: Endgame was one of the biggest cinematic achievements of 2019. 

…It looks as though Disney are going to give Avengers: Endgame  a big Oscar push, too, as it has just been revealed that the studio aren’t only aiming for a Best Picture nomination but they’ve also submitted 13 actors in the the Best Supporting categories, too.

That means that Robert Downey Jr, Chris Evans, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Hemsworth, Jeremy Renner, Josh Brolin, Paul Rudd, and Don Cheadle will be hoping for a Best Supporting Actor nomination, while Scarlett Johansson, Gwyneth Paltrow, Zoe Saldana, Karen Gillan, and Brie Larson will be aiming for the Best Supporting Actress category.

(4) HEAR IT FROM SOMEONE WHO KNOWS. After working on it for six years, Gene Weingarten has a book coming out, and has been sharing all kinds of advice with readers of the Washington Post Magazine.

2. As you are bringing the book in for a landing, resist the urge to assemble your 23 chapters into one long document, because that will make it possible to idly search for words and phrases that you think you might overuse. And that is when you will discover just what a shocking, tedious hack you are. For instance, the number of times I had written “slap-to-the-forehead revelation” (five) was a slap-to-the-forehead revelation to me. Not in a good way.

… So things were going swell, right up until something happened. I think you might suspect what it is.

Man on phone, from TV company: Hi, I’m a lawyer, and …

Me: GO AWAY. (Hangs up.)

Okay, I didn’t really hang up. We kept talking but my nerve endings were atingle. It turned out that the company required me to sign a contract, which they assured me would be routine, simple and no problem whatsoever. It turned out to be seven single-spaced pages. It required me to agree to surrender my work to the company “in perpetuity,” which, from context, as near as I could tell, includes all future time up to and including the eventual Heat Death of the Universe. 

(5) MOUSE AUCTION. “Disneyland ‘Tiki’ birds among vast theme park auction” – Reuters has the story.

The History of Disneyland and Walt Disney World auction will be held in Los Angeles over two days starting on Dec. 7.

There will also be familiar characters up for sale, including animatronic birds from the Enchanted Tiki Room, a bronze statue of Mickey Mouse, and an “It’s a Small World” animatronic doll.

The animatronic birds are estimated to sell between $80,000 and $100,000, while the doll is estimated to sell for between $15,000 and $20,000.

(6) TODAY IN HISTORY.

  • November 17, 1978 — The Star Wars Holiday Special premiered on CBS. Directed by Steve Binder, it was the first Star Wars spin-off film, set between the events of the original film and The Empire Strikes Back. On Rotten Tomatoes, it currently has a rating of nineteen percent. 
  • November 17, 2001 Justice League began on the Cartoon Network. It would under this name and and Justice League Unlimited last five seasons. Ninety one episodes would be produced a cross the two series. Among the voice actors would Kevin Conroy, George Newbern and Susan Eisenberg. 

(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born November 17, 1925 Rock Hudson. Best known genre role was as Col. John Wilder in The Martian Chronicles series. He also played President Thomas McKenna in the World War III miniseries which you may or may may not consider SF. That’s it.   (Died 1985.)
  • Born November 17, 1956 Rebecca Moesta Anderson, 63. Wife of Kevin James Anderson with whom she collaborates more often than not. They’ve done dozens of Star Wars novels including the Young Jedi Knights series, and even one in the Buffyverse. 
  • Born November 17, 1965 Sophie Marceau, 53. Elektra King In The World Is Not Enough, the 19th Bond Film. Also Eloïse d’Artagnan in Revenge of the Musketeers, Hippolyta in that version of A Midsummer Night’s DreamandLisa / Belphegor in Belphegor, Phantom of the Louvre. She’s also one of the voice actors in Nature is Speaking, a Gaian series. 
  • Born November 17, 1958 Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio, 61. She had a recurring role on Grimm, playing Kelly Burkhardt, mother of Nick Burkhardt. And she had a leading role in Limitless as FBI Special Agent in Charge Nasreen ”Naz” Pouran. In the Marvel Universe, she played Marion James, CIA Deputy Director on Marvel’s The Punisher
  • Born November 17, 1966 Ed Brubaker, 53. Comic book writer and artist. Sandman Presents: Dead Boy Detectives I’d consider his first genre work. Later work for DC and Marvel included The Authority, Batman, Captain America, Daredevil, Catwoman and the Uncanny X-Men. If I may single out but one series, it’d be the one he did with writer Greg Rucka which was the Gotham Central series. It’s Gotham largely without Batman but with the villains so GPD has to deal with them by themselves. Grim and well done. In 2016, he joined the writing staff for the Westworld series where he co-wrote the episode “Dissonance Theory” with Jonathan Nolan.
  • Born November 17, 1978 Tom Ellis, 41. Currently playing Lucifer Morningstar in the rather excellent Lucifer series  created by Neil Gaiman, Sam Kieth, and Mike Dringenberg from The Sandman series. It’s quite good. Also had roles in Doctor Who, Once Upon a Time, Messiah, The Strain and Merlin
  • Born November 17, 1983 Christopher Paolini, 36. He is the author of the Inheritance Cycle, which consists of the books Eragon, Eldest, Brisingr, and Inheritance. In December of last year, The Fork, the Witch, and the Worm, the first book in a series called Tales of Alagaësia, was published. A film version of the first novel came out in 2006.

(8) NO SMOKING PLEASE. Speaking of the burning issues of the day — “John Lewis and Waitrose unite for 2019 Christmas ad – the fiery fairytale of Excitable Edgar”.

In a first for the two ‘& Partners’ brands, John Lewis and Waitrose have combined their festive creative efforts and released a joint Christmas ad, opting for a fairytale spot that – true to form – features a loveable mascot in Edgar the excitable dragon.

The heartwarming story of a little girl, Ava, and her friendship with an excitable young dragon opens ‘far, far, away’ in a quaint, snow-engulfed town as it prepares for Christmas.

Edgar – a toddler-sized, winged and unequally horned dragon – struggles to control his flame breathing. And while he loves Christmas, unfortunately for the town, his over-eagerness often gets the better of him.

(9) AUTHOR READINGS IN ORANGE. The Speculative Collective reading series will convene in Orange, CA on January 23, 2020.

The SPECULATIVE COLLECTIVE Winter Salon will celebrate steampunk, weird westerns, and mad science fiction with readings and conversation with local authors Eddie Louise, Michelle E. Lowe, and Jonathan Fesmire. The authors will have books to sign and sell, and time will be set aside to chat and network with like-minded fans of science fiction, fantasy, and all otherworldly genres. Costumes and cosplay welcome. Also, we’ll be discussing the new critique group and writing contest.

SPECULATIVE COLLECTIVE is an author reading series devoted to science fiction, fantasy, and all otherworldly genres.

(10) WHO NEEDS IT? The LA Review of Books presents Isaac Bashevis Singer’s 1963 essay “Who Needs Literature?” translated from Yiddish for the first time by David Stromberg.

…As for literary prose, we often feel like it’s doing well. Books of prose are still bought in hundreds of thousands of copies. But when we look a little deeper into the matter, we see that what we nowadays call “literary fiction” is often far from literary fiction. Works are often sold under the label “novel” that are in fact three-fourths or a 100 percent journalism.

At no other time has the boundary between journalism and literature been so thin and so blurred as in ours. It often seems to me that modern critics suffer from amnesia. They’ve forgotten the elementary rules of the game called literature. It’s no feat to score grand victories in a chess game if, right from the start, one player gets more pieces than another, or if the rules of the game change with each round.

(11) AMAZING. Slashfilm says fans will have one more shot at seeing this actor: “Robert Forster’s Final Performance Will Be in ‘Amazing Stories’ for AppleTV+; Here’s What the Episode is About”

Oscar-nominated actor Robert Forster (Jackie Brown) passed away two weeks ago, but it turns out he completed one final performance before his death that will make it to the screen. Forster will appear in an episode of Amazing Stories, the resurrected anthology series that will debut on AppleTV+. 

When Forster died on October 11, myself and many of his fans thought the last time we’d see him on screen would be in El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie, the Netflix film which debuted the same day as his death. But according to Deadline, he had also completed work on an episode of Amazing Stories, and the episode will be dedicated to the late actor.

“Dynoman and The Volt,” the relevant episode, is “about an awkward tween boy and his grandpa (Forster) who wrestle with feeling powerless. When a superhero ring Grandpa ordered out of the back of a comic book arrives 50 years late, they discover it has the power to turn them into actual superheroes.” That’s a really fun premise for an episode of television, and in his older age, Forster was so great at playing characters who felt like they were sturdy enough to take what the world threw at them, but also had a tinge of sadness behind the eyes. I eagerly await the opportunity to experience one final performance from him, even if I am exhausted of the conversation around superhero-related media that still seems to be dominating every waking moment in our culture right now.

(12) BANGERS AND MASHUPS. The Wrap looks back: “‘The Big Bang Theory’: 23 Most Memorable Guest Stars, From Stephen Hawking to Carrie Fisher”, a 2018 post.

Carrie Fisher and James Earl Jones: James Earl Jones told IGN that amazingly, before this Season 7 “Big Bang” cameo, he and Carrie Fisher had never met, with Jones always doing his scenes as Darth Vader inside a sound booth. The segment features Jones and Sheldon pranking Fisher, but even funnier is their story that when they finally met, Fisher greeted Jones as “Dad!” 

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

Pixel Scroll 6/24/16 Porcupine Tree’s Yellow Pixel Dreamscroll

(1) BREXIT. J. K. Rowling’s response to the Brexit voting reports was –

“Death Eaters are everywhere,” said Micheline Hess.

(2) BRIXIT. Caption: “Live scenes from the Channel tunnel.”

View post on imgur.com

(3) BEAT THE RUSH. Buzzfeed found “19 People Who Are Moving To Australia Now That Britain Is Leaving Europe”. One of them is ours.

  1. This person who was so prepared to move to Australia that they already did it.

(4) AUF WIEDERSEHEN. So who’s cheering the outcome? Vox Day, naturally: “England and Wales choose freedom”.

The Fourth Reich is rejected by a narrow margin, 52 percent to 48 percent, thanks to the actual British people, who outvoted the invaders, the traitors, the sell-outs, and the Scots….

(5) IMPORT DUTY. And Marko Kloos has his joke ready.

(6) THE FORCE IS STRONG WITH THIS ONE. Darth Vader will be back in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, and James Earl Jones will be back as Darth’s voice.

The original Sith Lord is back. A new cover story from Entertainment Weekly confirms plenty of details for this winter’s Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, but there’s one long-rumored detail that’s sure to have fans breathing heavily: Darth Vader will return in the new film.

It only makes sense that Anakin Skywalker would once again plague the Rebellion in Rogue One. The plot of the film sees a band of ragtag Rebel fighters tracking down plans for the Death Star from the original Star Wars trilogy. The planet-sized weapon was Vader’s pet project, so seeing him again isn’t a total surprise. Still, it’s nice to finally have the information 100% locked in after months of speculation.

Update: It gets better. EW has also confirmed that James Earl Jones will be returning to voice Vader in Rogue One. Jones reprised the role for the animated Star Wars Rebels recently, but this will mark a big return to the silver screen. However, Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy cautioned fans not to expect Vader to be a prominent presence in Rogue One. “He will be in the movie sparingly. But at a key, strategic moment, he’s going to loom large.” Well, he only had 12 minutes of screen time in the original Star Wars, and look how that turned out.

(7) PAT CADIGAN UPDATE. Yesterday Pat Cadigan told about a great doctor’s report in “Yeah, Cancer––Keep Running, You Little B!tch”.

My oncologist was smiling broadly  even before she called my name.

The level of cancer in my body has fallen again, this time very slightly. The rest of my tests are perfect. Unquote; she said perfect. She also likes my I’m Making Cancer My B!tch t-shirt. I am killing this cancer thing.

Maybe people’s reaction was too effusive. Pat thought they got the wrong idea, so today she wrote, “I Think I Have To Clarify Something”.

Which is to say, I still have cancer, and unless something miraculous happens, I will always have cancer. Recurrent endometrial cancer (aka recurrent uterine cancer) is inoperable, incurable, and terminal. There are something like four different forms (I think it’s four) and I have the one with the worst prognosis.

However, it is treatable. My cancer cells have progesterone receptors, which means that doses of progesterone can keep it stabilised at a low level. For how long? Impossible to say. Could be months. Could be a few years. Could be more than a few years. Nobody knows…just like someone without cancer. Technically, I’m still terminal but now the more accurate term would be incurable. My own preference is incorrigible.

(8) HE SAYS GIVE THANKS. Peter David has this take on the Star Trek fan film guidelines.

So thanks mostly to the efforts of the “Axanar” people, the guys who raised a million bucks to produce a “Star Trek” based film which resulted in a lawsuit, Paramount has now issued specific guidelines for anyone who wants to make a Trek fan film. And naturally fans are unhappy about it.

My response?

You guys are damned lucky.

When I was producing a “Star Trek” fanzine back in the 1970s, Paramount issued a decree: No one could write “Star Trek” fanfic. It was copyright infringement, plain and simple, and not to be allowed. At one convention I attended, Paramount lawyers actually came into the dealer’s room and confiscated peoples’ fanzines from right off their tables.

The fact that they loosened up to the degree that they have should be something fan filmmakers should feel damned grateful for….

(9) MEANWHILE CAPTAIN KIRK IS OUT OF WORK. At the Saturn Awards, William Shatner told a reporter he’s up for it.

Shatner, 85, spoke to reporters at the Saturn Awards in Los Angeles, and confirmed that he will not appear in “Star Trek Beyond,” according to the Belfast Telegraph.

But when asked about future movies, the actor was willing.

“We’d all be open to it, but it’s not going to happen,” he said. “”The fans would love to see it. Have them write to [‘Star Trek Beyond’ producer] J.J. Abrams at Paramount Studios.”

(10) COMIC BOOK ART. M.D. Jackson continues answering “Why Was Early Comic Book Art so Crude? (Part 3)” at Amazing Stories. By now, things are looking up –

[At Marvel] The artists excelled at creating dynamic panels. More than just men in tights who beat up bad guys, the Marvel heroes had depth and the art reflected that. Unusual angles and lighting effects were explored and the character’s expressions had to relay the complex emotions they were feeling (even when they were wearing a mask).

(11) WHERE THE BOYS ARE. Vox Day saw the Yahoo! Movies post about the Moana trailer disguising that it’s a princess movie (guess where?) and made a trenchant comment in “The Disney bait-and-switch” at Vox Popoli.

Boys don’t want to see movies about princesses. Boys don’t want to read books about romances either. But rather than simply making movies that boys want to see and publishing books that boys want to read, the SJWs in Hollywood and in publishing think that the secret to success is making princess movies and publishing romances, then deceiving everyone as to the content.

(12) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • June 24, 1997 — The U.S. Air Force officials release a 231-page report dismissing long-standing claims of an alien spacecraft crash in Roswell, New Mexico, almost exactly 50 years earlier.

(13) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOY

  • June 24, 1947 – Peter Weller, of Buckaroo Banzai fame.

(14) TODAY’S TRIVIA

  • Bela Lugosi’s appearance in Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein (1948) would be only the second time he appeared as Dracula on screen. It would also be his last time to do so.

(15) BY JOVE, I THINK THEY’VE GOT IT.

(16) RULES OF THE ROAD. Alexandra Erin, in “The Internet Is Not Your Global Village”, experiments with a solution to a chronic shortcoming of social media.

Now, I don’t have a detailed set of guidelines or proposed social mores for interacting with people online to go with this observation. I can tell you this: the ones we use for offline interactions don’t work, and any proposed rule needs to take into account the vast differences between online interactions and offline ones.

So let’s take a quick stab at formulating some….

You Having Something To Say Is Not The Same As Me Having Something To Hear

If you and I are having a conversation and what I say sparks some kind of personal connection with you, then by all means, you take that tangent and you run with it. I mean, there are nuances and shades… if I’m talking about the time my true love got caught in a bear trap along with a bear who mauled them to death while a swarm of bees enraged by the bear stealing honey stung them both, further aggravating the bear, and you say, “Yeah, speaking of pain, that reminds me of the time I got a paper cut. Hurt like anything, it did!”… well, I think most people would say that’s a bit boorish.

But if we’re just talking, and I mention a frustration and you’re like, “I know what that’s like, [similar experience]”… that’s a conversation.

(17) TESTING FOR TWANG. When an author decides to have nasal surgery, it’s always nice to have it reviewed in full multimedia fashion as Mary Robinette Kowal does in “What do I sound like after surgery? Like this…”

I’ve been very pleased that I still look like myself. The swelling will keep going down, albeit more slowly. The big question though is… what do I sound like? As an audiobook narrator, this was one of the things I was worried about since mucking about with the nose and sinuses can change resonance.

So, here, for your amusement, are four recordings of me reading the same piece of text….

(18) ANIME NEXT. Petréa Mitchell brings the harvest home early with her “Summer 2016 Anime Preview” at Amazing Stories.

Just when you’re all settled into the routine of one anime season, it’s time for another! Here’s what the sf world will get to see from the anime world in July.

(19) FRANK OR VITRIOLIC? the Little Red Reviewer asks a question to begin “On writing negative reviews”

Hey blogger buddies – do you write negative reviews? And what I mean by a negative review isn’t “this book sucks”, it’s “this book didn’t work for me and let me tell you why”. A well written negative review tells you just as much information about the book about a positive review. When I write critical / negative reviews, it’s mostly to talk about why I bounced off a book, or why I though the book was problematic. Oftentimes, it’s a book that the majority of readers really enjoyed, perhaps the book even won a ton of awards, but really, really didn’t work for me. Any of my friends will tell you I’m not the kind of person to sugar coat. If I think something didn’t work on some level, I’m going to say so. If I was offended by something, or thought it was boring, or thought the POV switches weren’t clear, I’m going to say so. If a book made me, personally, feel like the world of that book is not a world I would be welcome in, I’m going to say that too.

I do not write negative reviews to dig at an author, or to convince others not to read that author’s books…

(20) SHOULD WE? Krysta at Pages Unbound Reviews asks “Why Aren’t We Talking about Religious Diversity?”

However, religious diversity is regularly glossed over in discussions of representations or is regularly dismissed by those who find a character of faith to be “too preachy” or don’t want religion “shoved down their throats.”  This attitude does a disservice to the many people of faith throughout the world who would also like to see themselves reflected in characters in books.  It assumes that the presence of an individual of faith is, by nature, overbearing, unwelcome, and oppressive–that is, apparently an individual is allowed to have a faith as long as no one else has the misfortune of knowing about it.

However, despite the lack of characters of faith in modern and mainstream literature, a majority of the world identifies with some form of religion.  The Pew Research Group in 2010 determined that 16.3% of respondents were not affiliated with any sort of religion.  The other ~83% identified with a religious group.  That is, in any group of ten people, you could theoretically assume eight were religious.  And yet religion remains absent in most YA and MG books.

But, for many individuals, religion is more than an abstract belief in a higher deity.  Religion is something that affects one’s philosophy, one’s actions, one’s daily life.

(21) MAYBE A LITTLE AFRAID. Yahoo! Movies describes the Ghostbusters theme remake.

Paul Feig’s reboot of Ghostbusters gives everything a full redo — including, it turns out, the classic, catchy, campy theme song by Ray Parker Jr. The theme song as revamped by Fall Out Boy with Missy Elliott, released this morning (hear it above), abandons the bright pop past in favor of a darker guitar-heavy dose of alternative/mid-2000s emo angst. Be prepared to hear this song in various Hot Topics for the next couple of weeks/months/years.

 

(22) THE MYSTERIOUS EAST. A surprising objective of Russian technological research? The BBC explains in “Beam me up, Prime Minister”.

A popular Russian paper said that a governmental working group was meeting up to discuss the national technological development programme. The programme envisages, among other things, that by 2035 Russia will develop its own programming language, secure communications systems and… teleportation.

For the initial stage of the programme development, 2016-18, the agency responsible is seeking about 10bn roubles (£100m) in financing.

There was an online reaction to this bold statement. Russian internet users reacted in all kinds of different ways, from disbelief, to amazement to sarcasm.

…In another typical comment, popular user “Dyadyushka Shu” joked about money being “teleported” away from Russia: “Experiments in teleportation have been going on in Russia for a long time – billions of dollars have already been successfully teleported to Panama offshores.”

Spoiler Warning: Chip Hitchcock explains, “Really only at the quantum level, but handled so clumsily that the satirists had a field day.”

(23) QUEASINE. Is this what Death Eaters snack on?

[Thanks to JJ, John King Tarpinian, Chip Hitchcock, and Dave Doering for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Simon Bisson.]

Pixel Scroll 8/3 Crisis in Infinite Victories

A Hollywood bomb that made money, a cable hit with a future, and the perpetual love feast that is the Worldcon, all in today’s Scroll.

(1) James Earl Jones played B-52 bombardier Lt. Lothar Zogg in Dr. Strangelove.

It was his seventh professional credit. In five of his first 10 roles he was cast as a doctor. That early typecasting wasn’t enough to get him the part of Dr. Strangelove himself, though… Jones first appears in this YouTube clip at :40.

James Earl Jones would establish his greatness as an actor a few years afterwards on Broadway, earning a Tony as the lead in The Great White Hope, and an Academy Award nomination in the film version of the play. Because of his prominence in mainstream entertainment, gigs like voicing Darth Vader or Mufasa in The Lion King seem like sidelines, however, Jones has often worked in genre, fantasy and offbeat productions.

He played alien abductee Barney Hill in a 1975 TV movie, Thulsa Doom in Conan the Barbarian, the warrior Umslopogaas in Allan Quatermain and the Lost City of Gold (1986), reclusive author Terence Mann in Field of Dreams (1989), and also has been in many obscure genre and animated productions.

(2) J. Michael Straczynski, interviewed by Comic Book Resources, is cautiously optimistic about a second season of Sense8.

While the streaming service hasn’t officially given the green light to second season, a promising gesture occurred when Netflix hosted a “Sense8″ panel during the Television Critics Association summer press tour with cast and creators in attendance, including Straczynski who updated the status of a possible renewal. “We’re still awaiting word,” he said on stage. “We’re in the process. We’re waiting for a final determination. We’re cautiously optimistic, but ultimately it’s Netflix’s call.”

If the call does come, Straczynski said he and the Wachowskis have already given plenty of thought to the next phase of the “Sense8” universe. “We’re looking at expanding that as far as logic goes,” he said. “What’s kind of fun about the characters is that what they’re sharing are not necessarily [powered] – like, in other concepts, which might be superpowers, flight. They have ordinary abilities, and we’re trying to say that there is value and merit and power in [that] – whether you’re an actor or you are a martial arts person or a bus driver, you have something to contribute.”

(3) You have til tomorrow to bid on a copy of the American first edition of Verne’s Twenty Thousand Leagues Under The Sea. Currently up to $2,400.

twenty thousand leagues vern

(4) “7 Science Fiction Publishers that Pay $750+ for Short Stories” seems to have valid info (I checked the Analog entry and it is good) even if the page itself is an ad for writing jobs.

(5) Today’s birthday boy – Clifford D. Simak, three-time Hugo winner, for “The Big Front Yard” (1959), “Grotto of the Dancing Deer” (1981), and one of my very favorite sf novels, Way Station (1964). He was named a SFWA Grand Master, received a Bram Stoker Award for Life Achievement, and won the First Fandom Hall of Fame Award.

After the original Dean of Science Fiction, Murray Leinster, passed away, Isaac Asimov considered only two writers had earned the right to succeed to the unofficial title, saying in The Hugo Winners: 1980-1982 (1986) “the only writer who can possibly compete with [Clifford D. Simak] as ‘dean of science fiction’ is Jack Williamson, who is four years younger than Cliff but has been publishing three years longer.”

Clifford Simak

Clifford Simak

(6) Artist Bob Eggleton predicts the demise of the Worldcon art show in “We LOVE Worldcon….but here’s what happened…”

Back in the 1980s, it was commonplace for us Pro Artists to schlep or ship our work to the convention. The 80s was a great time,  SF looked good,  major authors were doing major works, the covers were the best they’d ever been.  Costs were low.  Even in the 90s it was still viable. I can remember in 1996 shipping 3 large boxes of artwork to the LACon of that year in Anaheim.  It was a lot of fun, I won a Hugo in fact. The boxes cost me something like $300.00 each way for a total of $600 and change.  I made something like $4500 in the show, so including everything, I still made money.

….It’s the shipping costs that it all comes down to vs the return in sales that are not always congruent. So while people ask “What happened to all the name artists?”….it’s simply cost that we can’t do this anymore. My personal view is also that, Worldcon has changed and few people are interested in the physical art like they used to be, with all the interest in digital media. And it has become a lot of work to prepare for these events. My memories are long and I will always remember the good times, but, they’ve passed. I see a future of an artshow-less Worldcon, due to insurance costs and lack of manpower and, as digital art becomes the mainstay, a lack of physical art.

(7) Dave Freer’s “Show me” at Mad Genius Club is a one-man roundup post.

In this case I’m talking about all those folk who have been telling us ‘we’re doing it wrong’. You know precisely the sort of individuals I’m talking about. They’ll tell me I’m an evil cruel man for killing a chicken or a wallaby… but they have never done it. They’ve never been faced with a choice of that, or no food (let alone meat). They buy a product in the supermarket… which magically makes it appear in the freezer. They’ll tell you that you did your book all wrong and that it is terrible and full of typos… but they haven’t written one. Or if they have, they didn’t have to survive the mill of the slush-pile as I did (or self-pub), but thanks to their ‘disadvantages’ and connections had a publisher pay an editor to help, and proof reader to clear some of those typos. They’ll tell you that the puppies efforts are dragging sf back in time (yes, JUST in time), yet they’ve done nothing to alter the catastrophic plunge of sf/fantasy sales from traditional publishers. If you force them to confront the figures showing they’ve been part of excluding anyone to the right of Lenin from traditional publishing and the various awards (which, it seems extremely likely, downgraded the sale-value of those awards, and the popularity of the genre… they’ll tell you there might be a problem (but of course nothing like as bad as you make it out to be) and we, the puppies just did it wrong.

(8) But never let it be said the Puppies haven’t left their noseprint on the field. Dave Hicks’s cover art for Novacon 45’s progress reports is themed for GoH Stan Nicholls’s Orcs fantasies. Here’s the topical #2.

Art by Dave Hicks.

Art by Dave Hicks.

[Thanks to David Langford and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Snowcrash.]