Pixel Scroll 1/29/19 Dill Pixels

(1) TIPTREE ON TV? Jennifer Kent, who directed the exceptional horror film The Babadook, and is currently at Sundance screening her second film, the historical drama The Nightingale, is developing a project based on the life and stories of James Tiptree Jr. / Alice Sheldon: “Sundance 2019 Interview: Babadook Director Jennifer Kent on Her New Film, The Nightingale” at Rogerebert.com.

And Tiptree?

I don’t know where to start. There was this writer of short science fiction stories in ’60s and ’70s who was very feted, and of the level of Philip K. Dick, or Ursula Le Guin. He was really creating the most powerful stories of gender and of being an outsider. But they were so potent, very prescient; because it’s almost the world we’re living in now. So they were written 50 years ago. They’re incredibly relevant still, and then he was sort of well known. His stories were well known, but no one knew who he was for 10 years, and then eventually someone uncovered his identity to be a woman in her 60s, in I think Virginia. This woman’s story is unbelievable. Unbelievable. And she was a genius. So I want to tell her story.

So you’ll make something episodic at a network?

Yeah, but including her short stories within. It’s not a straight biopic; so aliens from her stories inhabit her true world, and then she will be in the world of her stories, and it’s so exciting to me. It’s science fiction, which I love. I came across that because I was being given a lot of science fiction scripts. And I thought, “Where are the female science fiction stories?” So I Googled “female science fiction”, and I came across her! It was so hard to get the rights. And then I got all the rights to these stories, so it’s just meant to be. I could sit for hours and tell you how we got these rights. I’m working with producer Brian Kavanaugh-Jones, who is wonderful. He’s engaged with a company called Imperative, and so that’s the deal at the moment. But Imperative has thrown some money at the development, but we want to keep control of it. So we didn’t want to go to HBO and have it sit on a shelf and not get made, for example. So, we want to come with a pilot and a bible, so I’m working on that at the moment.

(2) STOKERCON UK. In April 2020 the Horror Writers Association’s annual event, StokerCon, will be held in the UK, and A.K. Benedict will be the Mistress of Ceremonies.

Taking place in Scarborough, just down the coast from Whitby – the town that provided so much of the inspiration for Stoker’s iconic Dracula – this is an event not to be missed for writers and readers of horror fiction.

The event is delighted to confirm its Mistress of Ceremonies for the weekend will be author A.K. Benedict, who will be launching the weekend’s proceedings. A.K. Benedict was educated at Cambridge, University of Sussex and Clown School. Described by the Sunday Express as ‘one of the new stars of crime fiction with a supernatural twist’, AK Benedict’s debut novel, The Beauty of Murder, was shortlisted for an eDunnit award and is in development for TV by Company Pictures. Her second novel from Orion, The Evidence of Ghosts, is a love song to London and shows her obsession with all things haunted. Her radio drama includes Doctor Who and Torchwood plays for Big Finish and a modern adaptation of M.R. James’ Lost Hearts for Bafflegab/Audible.

(3) ODYSSEY WORKSHOP SCHOLARSHIPS. Here is an overview of “2019 Odyssey Writing Workshop Scholarship Opportunities”. The Odyssey Writing Workshop is an acclaimed, six-week program for writers of fantasy, science fiction, and horror held each summer in New Hampshire. Writers apply from all over the world; only fifteen are admitted.

  • George R.R. Martin sponsors the Miskatonic Scholarship, awarded each year to a promising writer of Lovecraftian cosmic horror, a type of fiction Martin loves and wants to encourage. The scholarship covers full tuition, textbook, and housing. Martin says, “It’s my hope that this new scholarship will offer an opportunity to a worthy applicant who might not otherwise have been able to afford the Odyssey experience.” Applicants must demonstrate financial need in a separate application. Full details at the link.
  • Bestselling author and Odyssey graduate Sara King is sponsoring the Parasite Publications Character Awards to provide financial assistance to three character-based writers wishing to attend this summer’s Odyssey. The Parasite Publications Character Awards, three scholarships in the amounts of $2,060 (full tuition), $500, and $300, will be awarded to the three members of the incoming class who are deemed extraordinarily strong character writers, creating powerful, emotional characters that grab the reader and don’t let go. No separate application is required.
  • The new Chris Kelworth Memorial Scholarship will be offered to a Canadian writer admitted to Odyssey. This scholarship, funded by alumni and friends of Chris, will cover $900 of tuition.
  • One work/study position is also available. The work/study student spends about six hours per week performing duties for Odyssey, such as photocopying, sending stories to guests, distributing mail to students, and preparing for guest visits. Odyssey reimburses $800 of the work/study student’s tuition.

(4) FREE READ. Arizona State University has published Everything Change: An Anthology of Climate Fiction, Volume II, an anthology featuring 10 short stories from ASU’s 2018 global climate fiction contest, plus a foreword by Kim Stanley Robinson, who also served as the lead judge for the contest.

The stories explore climate chaos, its aftermath, and possible ways forward through a variety of genres and styles, from science fiction and fantasy to literary fiction and prose poetry. It’s free to download in a variety of digital formats (HTML, EPUB, MOBI, and via Apple iBooks).

Table of Contents:

  • Kim Stanley Robinson, Foreword
  • Angie Dell and Joey Eschrich, Editors’ Introduction
  • Monarch Blue, by Barbara Litkowski
  • The Last Grand Tour of Albertine’s Watch, by Sandra K. Barnidge
  • Half-Eaten Cities, by Vajra Chandrasekera
  • Darkness Full of Light, by Tony Dietz
  • Luna, by David Samuel Hudson
  • Tuolumne River Days, by Rebecca Lawton
  • The Most Beautiful Voyage in the World, by Jean McNeil
  • Orphan Bird, by Leah Newsom
  • The Office of Climate Facts, by Mitch Sullivan
  • Losing What We Can’t Live Without, by Jean-Louis Trudel
  • About the Contributors
  • Honorable Mention: 2018 Contest Semifinalists

(5) HUGO VOTER ELIGIBILITY. Dublin 2019 is fixing this –

(6) MY KINGDOM FOR CANON. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] Retcons are king. Or kinda want to be. The Daily Dot stares into the abyss at the changing look of Klingons over the various Star Trek series and movies—and especially the significant changes between the first two seasons of Star Trek: Discovery  (“Here’s Why the Klingons Look Different in ‘Star Trek: Discovery’ Season 2”).

In the grand tradition of sci-fi retcons, there’s a canon explanation for the Klingons’ new look. While the humanoid Original Series Klingons were retroactively explained as victims of a genetic diseaseDiscovery’s bald Klingons [in season 1] were apparently making a fashion statement.

According to actress Mary Chieffo (L’Rell), designer Glenn Hetrick decided that the Klingons weren’t “bald” in season one—they just shaved their heads. Speaking at New York Comic Con last year, Chieffo said Hetrick was inspired by the Next Generation episode “Rightful Heir.”

“There is a reference to when [legendary Klingon hero] Kahless is brought back as a clone. The way he proves himself is he tells the story of how he cut off a lock of his hair and dipped it into a volcano and made the first bat’leth, with which he killed Molor, the terrible tyrant who was running Qo’noS at the time. We took that one little beautiful seed… and kind of expanded on that, and we see that in a time of war the Klingons would shave their heads, and in a time of peace, we start to grow it back out. I really love the symbolism of that.”

Meanwhile, ScreenRant.com has a different take on the whole, um, different Klingon thing (“Star Trek Theory: Discovery Is Why The Original Series Klingons Look Different”).

Star Trek: Discovery could finally explain one of the franchise’s biggest discrepancies: why do the Klingons in The Original Series look human? The answer might be the former Starfleet Lieutenant Ash Tyler, who is the surgically altered Klingon named Voq.

[…] It’s possible Star Trek: Discovery season 1’s transformation of Voq into Ash Tyler is the forerunner to why the Klingons Captain Kirk faced in The Original Series didn’t have the ridged brows and wild hair of later Klingons. Voq was the former Torchbearer of T’Kuvma who underwent surgery to become human in a horrifically painful process that damaged his mind. His lover L’Rell oversaw the procedure to turn Voq into Ash Tyler, a Starfleet Lieutenant who was captured during the Battle at the Binary Stars. Voq ended up believing he really was Ash and fell in love with Michael Burnham but his inner Klingon kept fighting his way to the forefront.

[…] By the time Captain Kirk faced the Klingons for the first time in the Star Trek: The Original Series’ episode “Errand of Mercy”, the warrior race looked and behaved human, albeit with darker, exotic skin. Kor, the Klingon Commander, even told Kirk “our races aren’t so different”. He meant that both humans and Klingons are war-like species, but his words could also now have a deeper context: the Klingons have 24 Great Houses and it’s possible this group of Klingons underwent the same (perfected) procedure that turned Voq into Ash Tyler.

(7) CELEBRATORY YEAR. “150 years of the periodic table: Test your knowledge”. I scored 5 for 5 – how unusual!

You’ll find it on the wall of nearly every school chemistry laboratory in the land.

And generations of children have sung the words, “hydrogen and helium, lithium, beryllium…” in an attempt to memorise some of the 118 elements.

This year, the periodic table of chemical elements celebrates its 150th birthday.

…The United Nations has designated 2019 as the International Year of the Periodic Table to celebrate “one of the most significant achievements in science”.

In March, it will be 150 years since the Russian scientist, Dmitri Mendeleev, took all of the known elements and arranged them into a table.

Most of his ideas have stood the test of time, despite being conceived long before we knew much about the stuff that makes up matter.

On Tuesday, the year will be officially launched in Paris. So, what’s so special about this iconic symbol of science?

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born January 29, 1923 Paddy Chayefsky. In our circles known as the writer of the Altered States novel that he also wrote the screenplay for. He is the only person to have won three solo Academy Awards for Best Screenplay. The other winners of three Awards shared theirs. He did not win for Altered States though he did win for Network which I adore. (Died 1981.)
  • Born January 29, 1940 Katharine Ross, 79. Yes, you know her as Elaine Robinson in The Graduate but that’s hardly genre, do shall we see what she done in our area of interest? Her first such work was as Joanna Eberhart in The Stepford Wives –scary film that. She shows up next as Helena in The Swarm and plays Margaret Walsh in The Legacy, both horror films. The Final Countdown sees her in the character of Laurel Scott.  And Dr. Lilian Thurman is her character in the cult favorite Donnie Darko. I’m fairly sure that the only genre series she’s done is on The Wild Wild West as Sheila Parnell in “The Night of the Double-Edged Knife” episode. I did debate if the I should could I count Alfred Hitchcock Presents aa genre or not as she did an episode there as well.
  • Born January 29, 1977 Justin Hartley, 42. Performer in the series as Green Arrow and Oliver Queen characters, season six on. Also director of the “Dominion” episode and the writer of the “Sacrifice” episode on that series. He’s also Arthur “A.C.” Curry in the unsold Aquaman television pilot. The latter is up on YouTube here. He’s also lead cast in a web series called Gemini Division.
  • Born January 29, 1978 Catrin Stewart, 31. Jenny Flint in five episodes of Doctor Who. She was friends with Madame Vastra and Strax (informally known as the Paternoster Gang) who appeared first during the Eleventh Doctor and last during the Twelfth Doctor. Big Finish has continued them in their audiobooks. She also played Stella in two episodes of the Misfits series, and was Julia in a performance of Nineteen Eighty-Four done at London Playhouse several years back. 

(9) COMICS SECTION.

  • Frank and Ernest encounter a superhero with a not very pleasant power.
  • Not everybody gets off the ground at Hogwarts according to Berkeley Mews.
  • A super warning about the cold and flu season at Off the Mark.

(10) ELGIN AWARD NOMINATIONS OPEN. The Science Fiction and Fantasy Poetry Association is taking nominations for the Elgin Award through May 15. Charles Christian will be the 2019 Elgin Awards Chair.

Only SFPA members may nominate; there is no limit to how many they can nominate, but they may not nominate their own work. Send title, author, and publisher of speculative poetry books and chapbooks published in 2017 and 2018 to elgin@sfpoetry.com by mail to the SFPA secretary: Renee Ya, P.O. Box 2074, San Mateo, CA 94401 USA. Books and chapbooks that placed 1st, 2nd, or 3rd, in last year’s Elgin Awards are not eligible.

(11) FOREVER YOUNG. A young Captain Picard steps up alongside a bunch of  Italian Renaissance turtles and other, um, beloved characters (SYFY Wire: “Exclusive: Young Captain Picard commands the U.S.S. Stargazer in Star Trek: IDW 20/20 one-shot”).

IDW Publishing’s big 20th anniversary celebration rolls on this month as the mini-major refreshes five of their major licensed titles with a time-traveling series of oversized one-shot releases. 

The January party sparkles with some of pop culture’s most treasured properties as GhostbustersJem and the Holograms, My Little Pony, Star Trek, and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles uncover characters’ secrets and mysteries shot 20 years into the future or tugged back to the past.

(12) RUN, CAT, RUN! Camestros Felapton has the news — “Shock billionaire spoiler candidate enters presidential race”.

Timothy the Talking Cat, billionaire CEO of publishing multinational “Cattimothy House” entered the 2020 Presidential fray, with a shock announcement on Tuesday. At a book launch in Borstworth Library, the outspoken cat and business guru laid out his vision for a new kind of US President.

(13) NEW BENNETT NOVELLA DISCUSSED. Several star reviewers from Nerds of a Feather participate in “Review Roundtable: Vigilance by Robert Jackson Bennett”.

CONTENT WARNING: This review discusses gun violence throughout, and includes references to child death. Also, we’re discussing the whole novella, so BEWARE SPOILERS.

Vigilance, the new novella from Robert Jackson Bennett, is out today and it’s a searing look at gun violence in the US. In this near future dystopia, John McDean is tasked with running “Vigilance”, the nation’s favourite reality programme, which releases real shooters are released on unsuspecting locations with military-grade armaments, and the resulting carnage is broadcast as a “lesson” in how to protect oneself. McDean and his crew at ONT station think they have the variables of Vigilance down to a fine art, but in the novella’s ensuing escalation find themselves taken down by one of McDean’s own blindspots, to dramatic effect.

We’ve got a lot of Bennett fans on our team here at Nerds of a Feather and when this novella came to our attention, lots of us were interested in reading it to review. That’s why, instead of taking it on alone, today I, Adri, am joined by Paul Weimer, Brian, and Joe Sherry to unpack Bennett’s highly topical novella and our reactions to it.

(14) MARKET UPDATE. Coming over the air now —

(15) PREY WITHOUT CEASING. We linked to the trailer yesterday, now The Hollywood Reporter explains it all to you: “How ‘Birds of Prey’ Footage Builds on ‘Suicide Squad’ Look”.

Margot Robbie’s next take on Harley Quinn is steeped in ’80s music video sensibilities. Gotham City’s newest protectors have arrived. Tuesday morning, following an Instagram post by Margot Robbie teasing her return as Harley Quinn, Warner Bros. released the first official behind-the scenes look at Cathy Yan’s Birds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn). The first look teases viewers with quick glimpses of the main characters, who, alongside Robbie’s Harley Quinn, are comprised of Huntress (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), Black Canary (Jurnee Smollett-Bell), Renee Montoya (Rosie Perez), Cassandra Cain (Ella Jay Basco), Victor Zsasz (Chris Messina), and Black Mask (Ewan McGregor). Birds of Prey follows the events of Suicide Squad and finds Gotham City in a very different place following an apparent disappearance of Batman, and Quinn’s separation from the Joker. Harley finds herself on a continued path of redemption when she seeks to help a young girl, Cassandra Cain, escape the wrath of Black Mask by recruiting a force of Gotham heroines.

(16) OUT OF TIME. Vicky Who Reads makes it sound irresistible: “Here and Now and Then by Mike Chen (DRC): An Amazing Adult Sci-Fi Novel with Strong Family Themes”. Her review begins….

Kin Stewart used to be a time-traveling secret agent from 2142.

Now, stranded in suburban San Francisco since the 1990s after a botched mission, Kin has kept his past hidden from everyone around him, despite the increasing blackouts and memory loss affecting his time-traveler’s brain. Until one afternoon, his “rescue” team arrives—eighteen years too late.

(17) FROG STUFFING. Jon Del Arroz’ Happy Frogs lists are callbacks to what JDA thinks were the good old days of the Sad and Rabid Puppies. How much pull does he actually have? We’ll know if any of these names from “The Happy Frogs Hugo Award list” [Internet Archive link] show up on the 2019 ballot. (Well, it wouldn’t be a complete shock if David Weber got a nod for Best Series on his own – but that still leaves the rest of them.)

(18) WHERE FEW HAVE GONE. After five decades it’s hard to believe, but newly uncovered (or rediscovered) wide-format footage and uncatalogued audio was available as the basis for a new Apollo 11 documentary. Rolling Stone has the story of the doc plus a trailer (“‘Apollo 11’ Trailer: See Never-Before-Seen Footage From NASA’s Moon Mission”).

New footage from the lead-up to NASA’s first manned trip to the moon (and the landing itself) features in the upcoming documentary Apollo 11, which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival.

“Crafted from a newly discovered trove of 65mm footage, and more than 11,000 hours of uncatalogued audio recordings, Apollo 11 takes us straight to the heart of NASA’s most celebrated mission—the one that first put men on the moon, and forever made Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin into household names,” distribution company Neon said of the film.

“Immersed in the perspectives of the astronauts, the team in Mission Control, and the millions of spectators on the ground, we vividly experience those momentous days and hours in 1969 when humankind took a giant leap into the future.”

(19) LAST THOUGHTS ABOUT BROADWAYCON. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] On “Three on The Aisle:  Broadway Cosplay” at Americantheatre.org, Elisabeth Vincentelli gives a BroadwayCon report, which begins at sixteen minutes into the podcast and ends at 34 minutes.  She did see some cosplayers, such as a woman from West Virginia who sat on a bus wearing her costume as the Angel from Angels in America, and she occasionally did see fans wanting to get too close to the stars (which in the theatre world is known as “stagedooring.”)  But she also appreciated the substantive panels, such as one on Oklahoma where cast members sang songs they didn’t sing on stage, and noted that BroadwayCon is important enough that stars like Kristen Chenoweth show up there unannounced. Wall Street Journal drama critic Terry Teachout said he wanted to go next year and that “A critic incapable of being a fan is a critic that needs therapy.”

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

Pixel Scroll 1/18/19 Learn To Scroll The Pixelphone, I File Just What I Feel, Drink Straight Tully All Night Long, And Filk Behind The Wheel

(1) AMAZON SAYS THEY’RE NOT TO BLAME. “Amazon hits back at claims it is to blame for falling author earnings”The Guardian has the story.

Amazon has called the conclusions of a recent report into US author earnings flawed, after the Authors Guild suggested that the retail giant’s dominance could be partly responsible for the “a crisis of epic proportions” affecting writers in the US.

The report from the writers’ body, published last week, highlighted the statistic that median income from writing-related work fell to $6,080 (£4,730) in 2017, down 42% from 2009, with literary authors particularly affected. Raising “serious concerns about the future of American literature”, the writers’ body singled out the growing dominance of Amazon for particular blame. “Amazon (which now controls 72% of the online book market in the US) puts pressure on [publishers] to keep costs down and takes a large percentage, plus marketing fees, forcing publishers to pass on their losses to authors,” said the report.

But on Wednesday, Amazon took issue with the report’s conclusions. “The Authors Guild has acknowledged that there are significant differences between the data it compared in its recent survey and years prior, noting that ‘the data does not line up’,” said an Amazon statement. “As a result, many of the survey’s conclusions are flawed or contradictory. For instance, the survey also shows that earnings increased almost 17% for traditionally published authors and 89% for independent [self-published] authors, and that full-time authors saw their median income rise 13% since 2013.”

(2) OVERSAUCED. Cora Buhlert wrote an emphatic dissent from Lee Konstantinou’s Slate article “Something Is Broken in Our Science Fiction” (linked in the Scroll a few days ago). Buhlert’s post is titled “Science Fiction Is Dying Again – The Hopepunk Edition”

…And now science fiction is dying again. Or rather, it already died in the 1980s and has been shambling along like a mirroshaded cyberpunk zombie ever since. For inspired by the hopepunk debate that broke out in late December (chronicled here), Lee Konstantinou weighs in on cyberpunk, hopepunk, solarpunk and the state of science fiction in general as part of Slate‘s future tense project (found via File 770). And this is one case where I wish I could use the German phrase “seinen Senf dazugeben” (literally “add their mustard”) instead of the more neutral English “weigh in”. Because Lee Konstantinou absolutely adds his* mustard, regardless whether anybody actually wants mustard or whether mustard even fits the dish….

(3) THE NEXT SFWA PRESIDENT. He’s not a SFWA member but he believes that could change — Jon Del Arroz declares “My Endorsement Of Mary Robinette Kowal For SFWA President” [Internet Archive link]

…Outreach to underserved and underrepresented writers in the SFF community

Again, the most important aspect of this, as the most underserved and underrepresented writers in the SF/F community are conservatives and Christians. These groups feel like they’re not welcome anywhere within the sphere of publishing, and it needs to change.

I’m confident Ms. Kowal will enact change here, which is the primary reason for my endorsement. I also volunteer to act as an ambassador to the conservative/Christian writing communities on her behalf, as many writers feel they can safely speak with me in confidence, when their concerns might get them ostracized or their businesses hurt if they voice their issues elsewhere. With me in such a role, we can repair the bridge in fandom so we can make it about books again, and selling for authors, and not about petty political squabbles.

Ms. Kowal has demonstrated to me personally that she is sincere in this effort by attempting to assist me with Worldcon 2018 when they horribly discriminated against me last year because of my outspoken beliefs, and because I was under threat of physical harm being done to me at their convention by extreme left-wing agitators.  The cycle of victim blaming must stop, and Kowal has assured me SFWA will not be an organization that will treat conservative authors as 2nd class citizens. This is a human rights issue and very big for me!

But Kowal also puts her money where her mouth is. When I was coming up and needed promotion as a writer, Kowal featured me on her blog not just once—but twice, and the second after I’d already become a prominent outspoken conservative within the community. She cares about books FIRST – and this is what sets her apart from others.

I’m excited for her tenure so I can finally join the professional guild (as is my due) without being shut down and held to standards others within SFWA are not.

(4) SPOCK BACKSTORY. Showrunner Alex Kurtzman discusses the launch of Star Trek: Discovery season 2 with The Hollywood Reporter: “‘Star Trek’ Showrunner: ‘Discovery’ Season 2 Is About Spock’s ‘Unwritten Chapter’”.

Discovery season one seemed like a declarative end of a chapter with the Federation-Klingon war coming to its conclusion. Why did you choose to start the second chapter by bringing in the Enterprise, considering its notoriety?

We discover in season one that Michael has a relationship with Spock. The mystery of why Spock, who we’ve known for over 50 years, has never mentioned his sister, is huge. It felt like there was no way we were going to be able to answer that question in one or two episodes. It was easily going to be the substance of a whole season. This season is a deep-dive into that relationship and what went wrong, their history and where they’re headed. That excited me. It’s the unwritten chapter of how Spock became the character that we meet in the original series. We’ll come to understand that were it not for his relationship with Michael, many of the things we know and love about Spock may not have flowered in the way that they did.

(5) LOOKING GOOD. Camestros Felapton reviews the premiere in “Star Trek Discovery: Brother (S2E1)”.

…Launching into this first episode reminded me that I do actually like these characters. I felt happy to see Michael, Tilly, Saru and Stamets again. Also, Discovery remains visually impressive, it’s easily the best looking Star Trek. The promised story arc appears to be a mysterious simultaneous signal from five points across the galaxy — a signal that Spock knows something about and which (apparently coincidentally) Captain Pike has been tasked with investigating….

(6) COSTA BOOK AWARDS. The 2018 Costa Book Awards, a general literary prize in the UK, have a winner of genre interest — Stuart Turton won the First Novel award for The Seven (or 7 1/2) Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle.

At a party thrown by her parents, Evelyn Hardcastle will be killed – again.  She’s been murdered hundreds of times, and each day Aidan Bishop is too late to save her.  The only way to break this cycle is to identify Evelyn’s killer.  But every time the day begins again, Aidan wakes in the body of a different guest.  And someone is desperate to stop him ever escaping Blackheath……   

Stuart Turton is a freelance travel journalist who’s previously worked in Shanghai and Dubai.  He’s the winner of the Brighton and Hove Short Story Prize and was longlisted for the BBC Radio 4 Opening Lines competition.  TV rights for The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle have been optioned by House Productions.  He lives in West London with his wife and daughter.     

Judges: ‘Impossibly clever, genre-busting murder mystery that feels like a mash-up of Cluedo, Sherlock and Groundhog Day.’

(7) VIDEO OF THE DAY. “WCFF-Dream” on Vimeo is an animated version of “I Dreamed a Dream” with many cute animals that was shown at the World Conservation Film Festival in October.

(8) PEARLMAN OBIT. Alan R. Pearlman (1925-2019) has died at the age of 93. The New York Times notes he was —

Founder of ARP Instruments and designer of its early synthesizers, which were used in Star Wars: A New Hope (R2-D2’s beeps), Close Encounters of the Third Kind (that infamous 5-note sequence, shown being played on an ARP 2500), and the 1980’s version of the Dr. Who theme.

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born January 18, 1882 A.A. Milne. Oh Pooh has to count as genre, doesn’t he? Certainly that an exhibition entitled “Winnie-the-Pooh: Exploring a Classic” appeared at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London shows his place in our culture. There’s also Once on a Time, a rather charming fairy tale by him. And though it isn’t remotely genre, i wholeheartedly recommend The Red House Mystery, a Country House Mystery that’s most excellent! (Died 1956.)
  • Born January 18, 1933 John Boorman, 86. I will admit that he does not at all have a lengthy genre resume though it’s quirky one nonetheless as it manages to encompass one howlingly horrible film being Zardoz featuring Sean Connery in diapers and Excalibur giving us a bare breasted Helen Mirren as Morgana. Did you know by the way that Robert Holdstock wrote the novelisation of The Emerald Forest which he directed? He also directed Exorcist II: The Heretic which frankly the less said about, the better.
  • Born January 18, 1937 Dick Durock. He was best known for playing Swamp Thing in Swamp Thing and The Return of Swamp Thing and the following television series. His only other genre appearances were in The Nude Bomb (also known as The Return of Maxwell Smart) and  “The First” of The Incredible Hulk. (Died 2009)
  • Born January 18, 1953 Pamela Dean, 66. Her best novel is I think Tam Lin though one could make an argument for Juniper, Gentian, and Rosemary which Windling claims is her favorite fantasy novel. Her Secret Country trilogy is a great deal of fun reading. Much of her short stories are set in the Liavek shared universe created by Emma Bull and Will Shetterly. Alll of these are now available on all major digital platforms. According to the files sitting in my Dropbox folder, there’s eight volumes to the series. They’re wonderful reading. End of plug.
  • Born January 18, 1955 Kevin Costner, 64. Some of his films are his genre films are really atrocious, to wit Robin Hood: Prince of ThievesWaterworldThe Postman and the recent Dragonfly but I really like  his Field of Dreams and his acting in it as Ray Kinsella is quite excellent. Not quite as superb as he was as  “Crash” Davis in Bull Durham but damned good. I forgot until just reminded that he was Jonathan Kent in both Man of Steel and  Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. I know that’s two more horrid films he’s been in. 
  • Born January 18, 1960 Mark Rylance, 59. Prospero’s Books, an adaption of The Tempest which I really want to see, The BFG and Ready Player One are the films he’s been in. An active thespian, he’s been in A Midsummer Night’s Dream at Royal Opera House, Hamlet at American Repertory Theater and Macbeth at Greenwich Theatre to show but a few of his appearances.
  • Born January 18, 1968David Ayer, 51. Film director, producer and screenwriter. Recent genre film from him were Suicide Squad and Bright, both of which have Will Smith in them and both of which, errr, were utter crap. He’ll be directing Gotham City Sirens which will not presumably have Will Smith in it. Yes I’m being snarky. 

(10) SIGNS OF SPRING. Jonathan Cowie announced that the Spring edition of SF2 Concatenation is now online, with its rich mix of con reports, articles, seasonal giant news page and loads of book reviews.

(11) BRICKS OF MONEY. Bloomberg says “The Hot New Asset Class Is Lego Sets”.

In a paper titled “Lego — The Toy of Smart Investors,” Dobrynskaya analyzed 2,300 sets sold from 1987 to 2015 to measure their price-return over time. She found that collections used for Hogwarts Castles and Jedi star fighters beat U.S. large-cap stocks and bonds, yielding 11 percent a year. Smaller kits rose more than medium-sized ones, similar to the size effect in the Fama-French model (though the relation isn’t exact).

Lego sets that focus on superheroes, Batman and Indiana Jones are among the ones that do best over time. The Simpsons is the only Lego theme that has lost value, falling by 3.5 percent on average.

(12) DANISH CRIME FICTION AWARDS. The winners of the 2018 Danish Criminal Academy Awards for the best Danish crime fiction have been announced.

The Harald Mogensen Prisen for the best thriller went to Jesper Stein for his novel Solo.

The Danish Criminal Academy’s debut award was won by Søren Sveistrup for the thriller novel “Kastanjemanden” (The Chestnut Man).

 The Palle Rosenkrantz Award for this year’s best foreign thriller novel has been awarded to Michael Connelly for Two Kinds of Truth. The award recognizes the best crime fiction novel published in Danish. It is named in honour of Palle Rosenkrantz (1867-1941), who is considered the first Danish crime fiction author; his novel Mordet i Vestermarie (Murder in Vestermarie) was published in 1902.

(13) J FOR JANUARY AND JOY. Cora Buhlert’s guest post “Space Opera and Me” is part of the Month of Joy project of the Skiffy and Fanty Show:  

At the time, a friend asked me why I always watched Star Trek, even though I’d seen much of it before and it was all the same anyway. “You watch soap operas, don’t you?” I asked her. She nodded and said, “Yes, to relax.” – “Well, Star Trek is my soap opera,” I told her.

I was on to something there, because there are similarities between space operas and soap operas beyond the fact that both started out as derogatory terms including the word “opera”. Both soap operas and space operas (and actual operas for that matter) offer larger-than-life drama with a huge cast of characters. Both offer the grand spectrum of emotion, love and hate, birth and death, weddings and funerals. However, space opera has aliens, ray guns, starships and space battles to go with the melodrama.

Another thing that unites space operas and soap operas is that no matter how fascinating the settings, how shocking the twists, how grand the melodrama, what makes us come back for more are the characters. The best space and soap operas feature people (in the loosest sense of the term) we want to spend time with, whether it’s in the mundane surroundings of Coronation Street or Lindenstraße or on the deck of a starship or the surface of an alien planet.

(14) FLOCKS OF HUGO RECOMMENDATIONS. Nerds of a Feather makes its collective picks in several Hugo categories at each post. Examples are included below.   

“2019 Nerds of a Feather Hugo Awards Longlist, Part 2: Visual Work Categories”

Graphic Story

  • Destroyer, Victor LaValle and Dietrich Smith
  • Gunnerkrigg Court: Volume 7: Synthesis, by Tom Sidell
  • Lumberjanes, Volume 8: Stone Cold, by Shannon Waters and Kat Leyh
  • Monstress: Volume 3: Haven, by Marjorie M. Liu and Sana Takeda
  • Saga: Volume 9, by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples
  • The Walking Dead, Volume 29: The Lines We Cross, by Robert Kirkman and Charlie Adlard
  • White Sand: Volume 2, by Brandon Sanderon, Rik Hoskin, and Julius Gopez
  • X-Men: Grand Design, by Ed Piskor

“2019 Nerds of a Feather Hugo Awards Longlist, Part 3: Individual Categories”

Fan Writer

“2019 Nerds of a Feather Hugo Awards Longlist, Part 4: Institutional Categories”

Semiprozine

(15) HOW WE GOT HERE. An article in this week’s Nature reminds me of the old t-shirt design pointing out “You are here” — “The Once and Future Milky Way” [PDF file].

Data from the Gaia spacecraft are radically transforming how we see the evolution of our Galaxy.

There was a a smashup between the young Galaxy and a colossal companion . That beast once circled the Milky Way like a planet around a star, but some 8 billion to 11 billion years ago, the two collided, massively altering the Galactic disk and scattering stars far and wide. It is the last-known major crash the Galaxy experienced before it assumed the familiar spiral shape seen today. Although the signal of that ancient crash had been hiding in plain sight for billions of years, it was only through the Gaia space probe’s data set that astronomers were finally able to detect it.

(16) CITY CHESS. Maybe nothing to do with Brunner’s The Squares of the City, but designers can plot their moves with this — “Virtual cities: Designing the metropolises of the future”.

Simulation software that can create accurate “digital twins” of entire cities is enabling planners, designers and engineers to improve their designs and measure the effect changes will have on the lives of citizens.

Cities are hugely complex and dynamic creations. They live and breathe.

Think about all the parts: millions of people, schools, offices, shops, parks, utilities, hospitals, homes and transport systems.

Changing one aspect affects many others. Which is why planning is such a hard job.

So imagine having a tool at your disposal that could answer questions such as “What will happen to pedestrian and traffic flow if we put the new metro station here?” or “How can we persuade more people to leave their cars at home when they go to work?”

This is where 3D simulation software is coming into its own.

Architects, engineers, construction companies and city planners have long used computer-aided design and building information modelling software to help them create, plan and construct their projects.

But with the addition of internet of things (IoT) sensors, big data and cloud computing, they can now create “digital twins” of entire cities and simulate how things will look and behave in a wide range of scenarios.

(17) YOUNGER THAN RINGTIME. BBC says “Saturn’s spectacular rings are ‘very young'” — thought likely for a while, but now it’s locked down.

We’re looking at Saturn at a very special time in the history of the Solar System, according to scientists.

They’ve confirmed the planet’s iconic rings are very young – no more than 100 million years old, when dinosaurs still walked the Earth.

The insight comes from the final measurements acquired by the American Cassini probe.

The satellite sent back its last data just before diving to destruction in the giant world’s atmosphere in 2017.

“Previous estimates of the age of Saturn’s rings required a lot of modelling and were far more uncertain. But we now have direct measurements that allows us to constrain the age very well,” Luciano Iess from Sapienza University of Rome, Italy, told BBC News.

(18) BOX SCORE. The sff/horror drama Bird Box was very good for Netflix’s business:

Shows including Bird Box helped Netflix end 2018 with more than 139 million subscribers, adding 8.8 million members in the last three months of the year.

Bird Box was watched by 80 million households in its first four weeks after release

The firm reported quarterly revenue of $4.2bn (£3.2bn), up 27% from the same period in 2017.

(19) WALK THIS WAY. Cnet explains how “Scientists built a lizard-like robot based on a 280-million-year-old fossil”.

You can tell a lot about an animal from the way it moves, which is why scientists have been recreating the movements of an extinct crocodile-like creature called Orobates pabsti. Orobates lived well before the time of the dinosaurs and is what’s called a ‘stem amniote’ – an early offshoot of the lineage which led to birds, reptiles and mammals. Using 3D scans of an exquisitely preserved Orobates fossil – and an associated set of fossilised footprints – researchers were able to build a dynamic computer simulation of the creature’s movement. The simulation incorporates data from extant animals such as lizards and salamanders to create more realistic motion as it walks along. And the simulation didn’t just stay on a computer; the researchers tested the models in the real world using a Orobates robot, helping bring this ancient creature to life.

[Thanks to Cora Buhlert, Mike Kennedy, Carl Slaughter, Chip Hitchcock, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Cat Eldridge, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Alan Baumler, Martin Morse Wooster, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Patrick Morris Miller.]

Pixel Scroll 12/19/18 The Black Hole Singularity’s A Feinman Private Place, But None, I fear, Do From There Escape

(1) DUBLIN 2019 ADDS FACILITIES. Next year’s Worldcon is branching out to accommodate a growing membership: “Dublin 2019 Expands: Announcing Dublin 2019’s New Creative Hub”. Chair James Bacon told fandom:

It is with excitement that I write to share that Dublin 2019 – An Irish Worldcon is expanding.

We have watched as membership increases beyond our expectations, and have been working for some time now on how to ensure we can welcome and accommodate everyone.

We also want to ensure that any expansion works to improve the experience for members who come along, while taking into account that there is not a building directly next to the Convention Centre Dublin that we can expand into.

Eight hundred and fifty meters from the CCD, or just over half a mile, are a number of facilities that we have decided to hire and use at a wonderful location called The Point. Conveniently, there is a Luas stop outside the CCD and one outside our new facilities, with direct tram travel between them. The facilities include hotel function rooms for over 300 people, auditorium space in the Odeon Cinema for 1,000 people, 2,600 sq metres of extra exhibits space, and a number of bars, social spaces, and restaurants, all in one ‘Block’.

The additional space is not only desirable to accommodate our members, but also to accommodate everything we want to celebrate and bring to our members. It allows elements such as our art show to increase their footprint, it allows programme to programme more items for the 800 potential participants who have signed up already, it allows us to include an amazing installation from a featured artists, it will allow us to have more large displays, and it will allow us to increase dealers’ space and our ‘creative alley’.

The new spaces are the Odeon Cinema, The ‘Warehouse’, and the Gibson hotel.

More details at the link.

(2) MAPPING IRELAND’S MT. TSUNDOKU. [Item by Olav Rokne.] The Guardian’s Jack Fennell (@JFennellAuthor), who literally wrote the book on Irish science fiction, shared his list of the “Top 10 Irish science fiction authors”. If you’re looking for some reading to get you in the mood for Dublin 2019, this might be a good place to look. It is surprising to note that he omitted mention of James White’s media tie-in novel for the TV series Earth Final Conflict

9. Sarah Maria Griffin (1988-)

Spare and Found Parts is a homage to Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, a feminist dissection of creativity and interpersonal relationships, and a dystopian critique of Irish society. Set in a disease-ravaged future Dublin, the story follows Nell Crane, a talented roboticist who decides to construct a companion for herself out of items she salvages from a nearby beach. Griffin refers to herself as a “spec”(speculative) writer, rather than declaring allegiance to any one genre, but her appreciation for sci-fi, horror and fantasy bleeds through all her work.

(3) NO NINE WORLDS IN 2019? Former committee member Steve Lacey casts doubt on the chances of there being a Nine Worlds next year. Thread starts here. (The London convention Nine Worlds announced in August that they are “beginning a process of reconstitution”.)

(4) HELLBOY TRAILER. In theaters April 12, 2019.

(5) UNALLOYED PLEASURE. Steve Carper revisits a comic that fascinated me as a kid in “Elementary, My Dear Metal Men” at Black Gate.

It’s 1962. You are Irwin Donenfeld, executive vice president for DC Comics, the 800-pound gorilla of superhero comics. You are riding high on the Silver Age of comics, having revived superhero comics from their near-death experience at the hands of Fredric Wertham, the New York District Attorney, and Congress itself. A dozen new versions of 1940s legends have poured from your offices since 1956 along with brand-new successes. The secret? Showcase, a comic invented purely to give tryouts to comic concepts and get the fans, the readers, the buyers to write in insisting that one or another of them be given their own titles. The Barry Allen Flash emerged from Showcase #4, The Challengers of the Unknown in #6, Lois Lane in #8, Green Lantern in #22, Aquaman in #30, the Atom in #34.

(6) WHAT HORROR WRITERS EAT. The “Winners of the 2018 Cookbook Contest” have been announced by the Horror Writers Association. They’ll publish the winning recipes and photos in their January newsletter.

1st Place

  • Owl Goingback – Indian Pumpkin Fry Bread

2nd Place – Tie

  • Dan Rabarts – Slow-Cooked Minotaur Shanks
  • Kelly Robinson – Blue Hubbard Squash Tarts & Cemetery Quiche

3rd Place – Tie

  • Frank Coffman – Hungry for man Goulish
  • Bruce Boston – WASP Pizza (with story)

(7) IN TRANSLATION. At Speculative Fiction in Translation, Rachel S. Cordasco is assembling a list of sff in translation due out in 2019.  See the spreadsheet for complete information [Google Docs].

(8) IT CAN GET WORSE. That’s Phoebe Wagner’s takeaway: “Microreview [Book] Ink by Sabrina Vourvoulias”at Nerds of a Feather.

…Ten years ago when Ink first hit shelves, it would have been a difficult read. Now, the images of tattoos, GPS trackers, internment camps, border dumps are all too mainstream. Just like Twitter in the novel, these stories fill my timeline. This past weekend, a brief discussion popped up on my timeline regarding good speculative fiction: it’s not meant to predict the future but warn against a type of future…

(9) WHERE DID UNIONS GO IN SFF? Olav Rokne begins a short series about “Imagining the future of organized labour (part one of two)” at the Hugo Award Book Club.

At their peak in 1954, unions represented almost a third of workers in the United States, and it was easy to take their existence — and their action as a counterbalance to the power of capital — for granted. Even employees in non-union workplaces enjoyed gains because employers had to keep up with union shops to retain and recruit labour.

But despite their prevalence in society, labour unions were largely absent from science fictional narratives during the Golden Age, and their few portrayals in the genre are usually either comedic or antagonistic.

As labour activist and science fiction author Eric Flint pointed out atWorldCon76, the major contributors to the development of science fiction — from the dawn of the Golden Age of Science Fiction through this era of union organizing and stability — were largely drawn from academic circles or the upper middle class. Despite working for a living, these authors and editors did not see themselves as part of the proletariat, and thus based their narratives on assumptions that their privileged working relationships allowed them to hold.

(10) BOWDLERIZING HARLAN. Amazing Stories’ SF Trivia Context #3 poses this question:

True or False:

Harlan Ellison once stated that the “hideous neologism”…”SciFi”…“sounds like grasshoppers f***ing”.

I know the answer – though I’m curious about the attempt to clean up the quote.

(11) TRIVIAL TRIVIA

The late Penny Marshall was the first-ever guest star on The Simpsons.

(12) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • December 19, 1918 — Marylou Tousignant in the Washington Post notes that Robert Ripley started the comic strip that, re-named, became “Ripley’s Believe It or Not!” in December 1918.
  • December 19, 1958 — The first known radio broadcast from outer space was transmitted when President Eisenhower’s recorded voice issued a holiday greeting for the whole world from the Atlas satellite which was launched the previous day.

(13) 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 and Chief Rabbit In Watership Down. Also the Head Librarian in Rollerball. And a caterpillar in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. And Satan in the Tales from the Crypt film. Oh my he had an interesting genre film career! (Died 1983.)
  • Born December 19, 1960 Dave Hutchinson, 58. Best known for his Fractured Europe series which consists of Europe in Autumn, Europe at Midnight, Europe in Winter and Europe at Dawn. Great reading! He’s got a lot of other genre fiction as well but I’ve not delved into that yet.
  • Born December 19, 1969 Kristy Swanson, 49. 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. 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, 46. Phoebe Halliwell in the long running Charmed series. Other genre appearances include on Outer Limits, Fantasy Island, 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, an excellent animated short.
  • Born December 19, 1975 Brandon Sanderson, 43.Best known for the Mistborn series . He is also known for finishing Robert Jordan’s The Wheel of Time .OK I’m going to freely admit I’ve not read either of these series. Opinions please. 
  • Born December 19, 1979Robin Sloan, 39. Author of Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore which definitely has fantasy elements in it  is a damn fine read. His second novel which he sent me to me consider reviewing,  Sourdough or, Lois and Her Adventures in the Underground Market, is also probably genre but is also weirdly about food as well. And he’s a really nice person as well. 
  • Born December 19, 1980 Jake Gyllenhaal, 38. First genre role was the lead in Donnie Darko. Later roles have included The Day After TomorrowPrince of Persia: The Sands of TimeSource Code and the forthcoming Spider-Man: Far From Home

(14) THE SOUND OF M.R. JAMES. SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie recommends these Christmas short audio ghost stories from the BBC and M.R. James (grandmaster of horror). “They are only 14 minutes long and perfect to bring a delightful shiver to the festive season.  Yesterday’s was this one –“

“Casting the Runes” by the master of the ghost story, M.R. James. The tale of a curse passed on by a curiously inscribed slip of paper.

This story inspired the film Night of the Demon (1957). You can hear it online for the next 28 days.

(15) READING BY GASLIGHT.Did somebody hack JDA’s blog? There’s a new post, “On Bullying And ComicsGate” [Internet Archive ink], which begins —

One of my main principles is I’m anti-bullying…. 

(16) SAD PUPPY DNA. Gizmodo says “Don’t Take the DNA Test You’ll Probably Get for Christmas”.

… there’s no guarantee that the results you get back from a DNA-testing company are particularly meaningful or even accurate. Earlier this year, a company called Orig3n, which claims to offer fitness and lifestyle advice based on your genes, failed to note that a sample of submitted DNA actually came from a Labrador retriever.

(17) EXPLAINING THAT FLOPPEROO. Looper would be delighted to have you watch their video explaining why Mortal Engines tanked, although by the time you’ve read the “hook” you may already know all they have to say:

Mortal Engines was a massive flop at the box office. What was the reason that this potential series builder bombed so hard at the box office, really? There’s a lot to unpack with this movie – which potentially just killed a franchise. Despite a $100 million budget, and a marketing budget of more than $120 million, Mortal Engines pulled in a measly $7.5 million domestic in its opening weekend – only good enough for fifth place. What went wrong exactly? Well, we can start by looking at the marketing. Despite a lot of cash and ads, unless you were familiar with the 2001 Philip Reeve book (and books after), the idea of cities on wheels that roll around and gobble up smaller cities sounds… well… silly. The ads didn’t do a very good job explaining what exactly was going on. Another issue was the presentation: Is this a drama? An action movie? Is it a teen drama? If you went with teen drama for Mortal Engines you’d be correct, and we are at a time when teen/young adult dramas are flopping left and right; the timing was rather poor. Then Mortal Engines had the misfortune of opening against Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse, and The Mule – which eliminated two major age groups from seeing it. Add in a surprise exclusive showing of Aquaman via Amazon Prime and holdovers like Ralph Breaks The Internet, it’s not a surprise at all that the city on wheels movie never got rolling.

(18) GENIE-US. ScienceFiction.com liberated Entertainment Weekly’s photo gallery so that you can “Get Your First Look At Will Smith And The Cast Of ‘Aladdin’”.

In May of next year, Will Smith is hoping to enchant audiences with his depiction of the Genie in the latest live action remake of a classic Disney animated film, ‘Aladdin’.  This project is directed by Guy Ritchie (‘King Arthur: Legend of the Sword’) and also stars Mena Massoud (‘Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan’) as Aladdin, Naomi Scott (‘Power Rangers’) as Princess Jasmine, and Marwan Kenzari (‘Murder on the Orient Express’) as the villainous Jafar, as well as Numan Acar, Billy Magnussen, Navid Negahban, and Nasim Pedrad.

To prepare you for your trip to Agrabah, Disney has released a series of first-look photos from the film…

(19) CLEAR ETHER. BBC assures everyone “Nasa’s New Horizons probe on course for historic flyby”.

The American space agency’s New Horizons probe remains on course for its daring flyby of Ultima Thule…

When the mission sweeps past the 30km wide object on New Year’s Day, it will be making the most distant ever visit to a Solar System body – at some 6.5 billion km from Earth.

Mission planners decided at the weekend to forego a possible trajectory change.

It means the probe will get to fly 3,500km from icy Ultima’s surface to take aseries of photos and other data.

There had been some concern that the object might be surrounded by large debris particles which could destroy the probe if it were to run into them. But nothing of the sort has been detected and so a wider, safer pass will not be needed.

(20) WHICH CAME FIRST? Maybe neither the chicken nor the egg – it may have been the feathers: “Pterosaurs: Fur flies over feathery fossils”.

Two exceptionally well preserved fossils give a new picture of the pterosaurs, the flying reptiles that lived at the time of the dinosaurs.

Scientists believe the creatures may have had feathers, and looked something like brown bats with fuzzy wings.

The surprise discovery suggests feathers evolved not in birds, nor dinosaurs, but in more distant times.

Pterosaurs were the closest relatives of dinosaurs, sharing a common ancestor about 250 million years ago.

“We would suggest – tentatively – that it would be worth considering that feathers originated much earlier than we thought,” Prof Mike Benton, from the University of Bristol, told BBC News.

(21) THE CONQUEROR BEFORE WILLIAM. “Hastings dinosaur footprints exposed by cliff erosion”. “Yes, technically the conqueror before William was Claudius,” admits Chip Hitchcock, who sent the link, “but he didn’t land at Hastings.”

Dozens of well-preserved dinosaur footprints from at least 100 million years ago have been uncovered in East Sussex.

At least seven different species were identified by University of Cambridge researchers during the past four winters following coastal erosion along the cliffs near Hastings.

They range in size from less than 2cm to more than 60cm across, and are so well-preserved that even the skin, scales and claws are easily visible.

There are more than 85 markings, all of which date from the early Cretaceous period.

(22) WHAT’S UP, DOCS? The American Chemical Society sent out a story about how “Rabbit gene helps house plant detoxify indoor air.”

A genetically modified houseplant can efficiently remove toxins from the air.

Our homes are supposed to be safe havens from the outside world. However, studies have shown that household air is more polluted than either office or school air, exposing children and home workers to higher levels of carcinogens than the general population. Now, researchers have made a genetically modified houseplant that can efficiently remove at least two toxins from the air. They report their results in ACS’ journal Environmental Science & Technology.

Indoor air often contains volatile organic compounds such as formaldehyde, benzene and chloroform. These toxins come from many sources, including cooking, showering, furniture and smoking. House plants can remove some toxins from the air, but they aren’t very efficient: A homeowner would need more than 20 plants to remove formaldehyde from a typical room, researchers estimate. Stuart Strand and colleagues wondered if introducing a mammalian gene called CYP2E1 to a common houseplant, pothos ivy (Epipremnum aureum), would boost the plant’s detoxifying potential. his gene encodes cytochrome P450 2E1, an enzyme that breaks down a wide range of volatile organic compounds found in the home.

The team introduced rabbit CYP2E1 to the ivy’s genome and injected benzene or chloroform gas into closed vials that contained growing plants. After 3 days, the concentrations of these compounds in the vials had dropped dramatically, and by 8 days, chloroform was barely detectable. In contrast, the compounds’ concentrations in vials containing unmodified ivy or no plants did not change. The researchers estimate that a hypothetical biofilter made of the genetically modified plants would deliver clean air at rates comparable to commercial home particulate filters.

(23) MORE SEASONAL VERSE. Submitted by Anna Nimmhaus, inspired by item 14 in the December 17 Pixel Scroll. (Apologies for the formatting — I have not yet conquered the WordPress 5.0 update of a week ago.)

Pixel scroll, pixel scroll,

Pixels all the way.

Oh, what fun it is to rhyme

With Camestros today.

Scrolling pixels through

With Camestros today,

Internets we view,

Laughing all the way.

Trolls will fail to sting,

Making spirits bright.

Camestros and we shall sing

A scrolling song tonight.

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

Pixel Scroll 12/2/18 One Of Our Pixels Is Scrolling

(1) CHOP SHOP. Derrick Boden shares the secret of  “The Revision Machete” on the Odyssey Workhops blog.

…It has become so helpful to me that I’ve permanently integrated it into my revision process, and every story I’ve written since has seen improvement as a result.

I like to call it the revision machete.

Here’s the scenario: you’ve squeezed every ounce of blood and grit and wit into producing a story packed with multidimensional characters, a gripping conflict, deeply extrapolated world-building, and heart-wrenching emotional resonance. You’ve tidied it up and sent it off to a critique group, only to discover that everyone has summarily missed the point. Rather than commenting on the story’s thematic impact, they seem to have overlooked the theme altogether. Instead of suggesting ways to make the ending more powerful, they wonder, aloud, What exactly are you trying to say? They tell you the story is too slow, too long. They tell you it didn’t win them over….

When a reader misses the point, it’s easy to write that reaction off as an impatient read. This is rarely the case. And when a reader says a story is too slow or too long, the tendency—for me, at least—is to think: I just need to cut some flab. Tighten it up. Break out the scalpel. Slice some adverbs, transplant some clauses, excise the slow parts.

The solution, sadly, is rarely this simple. Here’s why….

(2) STEP IN AND OUT OF TIME. Parade Magazine questions “Dick Van Dyke & Lin-Manuel Miranda on the Magic of Making Mary Poppins Returns”.

During a gray London afternoon last year, Lin-Manuel Miranda was in musical paradise: He was watching Dick Van Dyke, then 91, on the set of the new movie Mary Poppins Returns, singing and hoofing—on a desk!—with the energy of a man half his age.

“I was geeking out!” the Hamilton star says. As for Van Dyke? “Everyone on the set was surprised I could do it,” the iconic actor says. “And nobody was more surprised than I was!”

(3) TIRED AND EMOTIONAL. John Scalzi dries the tears of some writers who are sure their failure to make the NYT Bestseller list is unjustified: “Some Observations on Bestseller Lists, December 2018”.

* Another thing about the NYT lists these days is that in the last few years they’ve cut the number of slots on the list themselves; the lists used to go into the thirties (my first NYT bestseller ranking was #33 on the Mass Market Fiction list), and now they publish only the top fifteen in any category. There are fewer slots to go around, and thus it’s more difficult to hit the list at all. Again, that’s nothing about politics, and everything about the lists themselves becoming more selective.

* The NYT lists are targeted for complaint because they are the most famous bestseller lists, and also because, if you’re of a conservative bent, a bit of a bete noir, being that the NYT is all full of liberals and shit. But other publications track sales as well, and there does happen to be a correlation between the appearance of a book on the NYT list, and its appearance on other lists as well. It’s relatively rare for a book to show up on a Times list, especially these days in their shorter format, and not on another bestseller list somewhere else.

(4) SEXUAL VIOLENCE IN SFF DATABASE. On a Reddit thread someone was asking for Fantasy series low on violence toward women was pointed to a Google docs “Sexual violence in sff database” that has been set up. It has a Google page where people can submit information on books they’ve read — Submission form.

(5) ALIEN VISITORS TO THE FORMER SOVIET UNION. On This Day In Science Fiction History reviews a Russian movie — “’Attraction’ Might Make You Believe In Love … but Probably Not Aliens”.

Somehow, mankind always finds itself at odds with intelligent extraterrestrial life.  If you believe the movies, then we’re doomed to never get along socially with whatever we inevitably find ‘out there.’

George Pal’s adaptation of H.G. Wells’ The War Of The Worlds (1953) showed Earthlings on-the-run from these Martian aggressors who eventually succumb to the smallest threat previously known to man in the finale.  During the 1980’s, TV audiences were treated to a pair of miniseries and a spin-off series around V (aka Visitors), a Reptilian race intent upon seeing mankind used to fill the opening of their dietary requirements.  Then, in 1996, Dean Devlin and Roland Emmerich re-invented the ‘alien invasion’ feature with their big screen Independence Day: aliens came to Earth and got their butts kicked in a rousing finale that brought all nations of the world together for the ultimate throwdown.

There have been other films – some big and some small – that have mined similar territory; but 2017’s Attraction has the unique advantage of exploring an alien encounter that doesn’t involve any other nation on Earth except the former Soviet Union.  That alone was enough to pique my interest … but, sadly, what I found was much more spectacle than it was substance.

(6) THE COLLECTOR’S FRIEND. Moshe Feder pointed to this Indiegogo appeal — “Aura: Speeds & Simplifies ALL Your Scanning Needs” – saying, “An interesting scanner for bound books and magazines. Has a built-feature to renormalize curved pages. Portable! Doubles as a lamp! Reasonable price. This should have some obvious uses with old zines, pulps, and books.”

(7) JOIN THE NZ POLICE. The latest NZ Police recruiting campaign includes a shout-out to Wellington Paranormal (40 seconds in).

(8) WHO REVIEW. Camestros Felapton reviews the latest episode: “Doctor Who: It Takes You Away”.

A weird spooky episode, with a bit of a Sapphire & Steel style spooky British TV sci-fi mixed with a bit of a Neil Gaiman vibe. This one is a bit hard to review without spoilers, so click for more if you’ve seen it.

The crew are in Norway for no specific reason and spot a remote house by a lake. The exterior of the house is boarded up but there’s movement inside and possibly something monstrous outside…

(9) BERRY OBIT. Actor Ken Berry, best known for F-Troop and Mayberry RFD, died December 1. Variety notes his genre connections as well:

He also appeared in comedy films “Herbie Rides Again” and “The Cat From Outer Space” and made frequent guest appearances on shows including “The Golden Girls,” “Love Boat,” “Fantasy Island” and “CHiPs.”

Born in Moline, Ill., Berry started out as a singer and dancer. He served in the U.S. Army special services under Sergeant Leonard Nimoy, entertaining the troops and winning a slot on the “Ed Sullivan Show.”

Nimoy helped introduce him to studios after he left the Army, and soon Berry was under contract to Universal to appear in movie musicals.

(10) TODAY IN HISTORY

December 2, 1979Star Trek became a comic strip, giving new meaning to “see you in the funny papers.”

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and JJ.]

  • Born December 2, 1914 – Ray Walston, Actor and Comedian who is best known, of course, for playing the lead in My Favorite Martian from 1963 to 1966, alongside co-star Bill Bixby; he was given a cameo role in the 1999 reboot movie, which starred Christopher Lloyd in the titular role. Younger fans may know him for his role as Boothby, the mysterious gardener at Starfleet Academy, in Star Trek: The Next Generation, a role which he reprised in Voyager. His many genre appearances included The Wild Wild West, Mission: Impossible, The Six Million Dollar Man, Buck Rogers in the 25th Century, Galaxy of Terror, Amazing Stories, Popeye, Friday the 13th: The Series, and Addams Family Reunion. In a sly callback to their earlier collaboration, he appeared in The Incredible Hulk (in which David Banner was played by Bill Bixby) as Jasper the Magician, in an episode called “My Favorite Magician”. He was given a Saturn Award for Lifetime Achievement. (Died 2001).
  • Born December 2, 1937 – Brian Lumley, 81, Writer of Horror who came to distinction in the 1970s, both with his writing in the Cthulhu Mythos and by creating his own character Titus Crow. In the 1980s, he created the Necroscope series, which first centered on speaker-to-the-dead Harry Keogh. His short story “Necros” was adapted into an episode of the horror anthology series The Hunger. His works have received World Fantasy, British Fantasy, and Stoker Award nominations; the short story “Fruiting Bodies” won a British Fantasy Award. Both the Horror Writers Association – for which he was a past president – and the World Fantasy Convention have honored him with their Lifetime Achievement Awards.
  • Born December 2, 1952 – O.R. Melling (aka G.V. Whelan), 66, Writer from Ireland. One of her favorite authors is Alan Garner, whose The Owl Service is also a frequent read of mine. As for novels by her that I’d recommend, the Chronicles of Faerie series, consisting of The Hunter’s Moon, The Summer King, The Light-Bearer’s Daughter, and The Book of Dreams are quite excellent; the first won a Schwartz Award for Best YA-Middle Grade Book. For more adult fare, her People of the Great Journey: Would You Go if You Were Called? – featuring a fantasy writer who is invited to take part in a week-long retreat on a magical, remote Scottish island – I’d highly recommend.
  • Born December 2, 1971 – Frank Cho, 47, Artist and Illustrator from South Korea who is best known as creator of the Liberty Meadows series, as well as work on Hulk, Mighty Avengers, and Shanna the She-Devil for Marvel Comics, and Jungle Girl for Dynamite Entertainment. His works have received Ignatz, Haxtur, Charles M. Schulz , and National Cartoonists Society’s Awards, as well as Eisner, Harvey, and Chesley Award nominations, and his documentary Creating Frank Cho’s World won an Emmy Award.

(12) COMICS SECTION.

  • How stars get their names (and whether they like them), as explained by Over the Hedge.

(13) THE JDA VERSION. Yesterday’s Scroll linked to Jim C. Hines’ post about Jon Del Arroz’ comments being taken down from a Reddit “Ask Me Anything” with Cat Rambo. Today JDA blogged his version of events — “Banned by r/fantasy” [Internet Archive link].

r/fantasy is censoring your favorite humble Hispanic author (me).  This group, supposedly about books and fiction in the genre I write, is removing comments when I make them. I’ve violated no rules, I simply posted the following to this thread…

(14) FLYING SAUCER INVENTOR PROFILED. In “The Forgotten Legend of Silicon Valley’s Flying Saucer Man” on Bloomberg, Ashlee Vance profiles outsider artist Alexander Weygers, who created designs that looked like flying saucers during the 1920s and also in 1930 painted visions of San Francisco in 1985.

…Things got bad enough that Larry Fischer, the owner of a sculpture foundry, decided to auction off pieces he’d held on to for years to help make ends meet. Ahead of the auction, he invited Hunter to come see if there was anything he liked. He guided his friend through the gritty warehouse toward a collection of bronze sculptures he thought might be of particular interest.

He chose well. The first sculpture Hunter saw, Up With Life, was a foot tall and depicted an adult’s face morphing vertically into a hand cradling an infant. Fischer explained that the sculpture, made by an unknown artist named Alexander Weygers after World War II, represented humanity rising up to find hope in the darkest of times. Its beauty overwhelmed Hunter, leaving him giddy and a little dazed. “I freaking started crying,” he later said. As he surveyed the room and saw one magnificent work after another, Hunter knew he had to have them. “I bought the whole collection of 30 Weygers statues.”

The sculptures came with an incredible story. Weygers spent close to half a century as the valley’s hidden da Vinci, crafting his home over the years from reclaimed wood and junkyard scrap metal, using tools he made on the premises. In separate workshops he produced sculptures, highly stylized photos, wood carvings, and home finishings. He also wrote books on blacksmithing and toolmaking and shared his talents firsthand with youngsters willing to camp on the property. He taught them to make their own tools, sculpt, and embrace his minimalist, recycling-centric philosophy. And amazingly, Weygers was a world-class engineer who in the late 1920s designed a flying saucer, a machine he called the Discopter.

(15) THERE’S GOLD, OR SOMETHING, IN THEM THAR HILLS. While InSight’s been getting all the ink, Curiosity has been prospecting for something that might be valuable – to science, anyway: “Curiosity Rover Just Spotted This Super-Shiny Object on Mars” at Gizmodo.

Immediate suspicions are that the rock, dubbed Little Colonsay, is a meteorite, but NASA scientists won’t know for sure until Curiosity performs a chemical analysis. The rover’s ChemCam instrument, which consists of a camera, spectrograph, and laser, offers an on-the-spot chemistry lab.

That Curiosity may have stumbled upon a meteorite isn’t shocking. The rover has sniffed out several such objects over the course of its travels, including a huge metal meteorite in 2015 and a shiny nickel-iron meteorite the following year.

(16) NIGHTFLYERS. Vice reports Vice: “George R.R. Martin’s ‘Nightflyers’ Is an Imaginative, Brutal Gorefest”. Subhead: “‘Game of Thrones’ fans will feel right at home in Syfy’s bloody psychological horror show.”

Martin compared the dark, 10-episode first contact series to Alien in the New York Times. As in Thrones, the balance of power is practically a character in Nightflyers. Instead of a loose coalition of warring nation-states, the factions are a ragtag group of scientists and the residents of a colony ship called the Nightflyer enlisted to investigate a mysterious alien entity called “The Volcryn.” Earth is dying, and rugged researcher Dr. Karl D’Branin (Eoin Macken) thinks tapping into its powerful energy will save the planet.

Andrew Liptak interviewed the showrunner for The Verge: “Nightflyers’ showrunner explains why George R.R. Martin’s massive worlds are ideal for TV “.

Series showrunner Jeff Buhler explains that to bring the show to Syfy, the creative team had to make some changes to the original story. “One of the big changes from the novella that we tackled in making the TV series was to roll back the timeline that existed in the Thousand World universe.” Martin’s story is set centuries far in the future, after humanity has colonized the galaxy. Along the way, humanity made contact with numerous other aliens, and wound up nestled between two hostile alien factions. For the show, Buhler explained that they wanted to go back to the point where humanity first made contact with aliens.

(17) EATING THE FANTASTIC. Scott Edelman offers listeners the chance to join Jo Walton for a seafood lunch in Episode 83 of his Eating the Fantastic podcast:

Jo Walton

I don’t know what you were doing last week on Black Friday, but as for me, I was taking this year’s Chessiecon Guest of Honor Jo Walton out to lunch at the nearby Bluestone Restaurant. And, of course, recording the conversation so you’d be able to join us at the table!

Jo Walton won the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer in 2002 and the World Fantasy award for her novel Tooth and Claw in 2004. Her novel Among Others won both the 2011 Nebula Award and the 2012 Hugo Award for Best Novel, and (according to those who keep track of such things) is one of only seven novels to have been nominated for the Hugo Award, Nebula Award, and World Fantasy Award.

Her novel Ha’penny was a co-winner of the 2008 Prometheus Award. Her novel Lifelode won the 2010 Mythopoeic Award. Her incisive nonfiction is collected in What Makes This Book So Great and An Informal History of the Hugos. She’s the founder of International Pixel-Stained Technopeasant Day, something which we never quite got around to talking about, so if you want to know more about that holiday, well, Google is your friend. Her next book, Lent, a fantasy novel about Savonarola, will be published by Tor Books in May 2019.

We discussed how Harlan Ellison’s fandom-slamming essay “Xenogenesis” caused her to miss three conventions she would otherwise have attended, why Robert Silverberg’s Dying Inside is really a book about menopause, the reason she wishes George Eliot had written science fiction, the ways in which during her younger days she was trying to write like Poul Anderson, her technique for getting unstuck when she’s lost in the middle of writing a novel, why she loathes the plotter vs. pantser dichotomy, how she developed her superstition that printing out manuscripts is bad luck, the complicated legacy of the John W. Campbell Award (which she won in 2002), how she managed to write her upcoming 116,000-word novel Lent in only 42 days, and much, much more.

[Thanks to Mike Kennedy, Jennifer Hawthorne, Chip Hitchcock, Errolwi, Cat Eldridge, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Martin Morse Wooster, Andrew Liptak, Carl Slaughter, Moshe Feder, Scott Edelman, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Kip Williams.]

Pixel Scroll 12/1/18 Too Many Pixels, Herr Scrollzart!

(1) WAITING FOR AGLOW. Robert J. Sawyer tells fans why his next book won’t be released until 2020.

After he lost his security clearance, J. Robert Oppenheimer, the father of the atomic bomb, really did say: “There is a story behind my story. If a reporter digs deep enough he will find that it is a bigger story than my suspension.”

Well, I’m writing that story: an alternate-history novel about The Manhattan Project and the years following it to be called The Oppenheimer Alternative. Every character in the book is a real person, including many of the greatest scientists of the 20th century: Oppie himself, Albert Einstein, Edward Teller, Leo Szilard, Hans Bethe, Enrico Fermi, I.I. Rabi, Wernher von Braun, and more.

I know you’ve all been patiently waiting for a new book from me, and I’m afraid you’ll have to be patient a little longer. For this book to get the launch publicity it deserves, we’re going to publish it to coincide with the 75th-anniversary of the first atomic bomb explosion and the dropping of bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Look for The Oppenheimer Alternative in July 2020.

(2) STALKER AWARD. Europa SF announces Estonian fandom’s “2018 Stalker Awards”.

Stalker is Estonian Science Fiction Association (ESFA) award for the best original and translated speculative fiction (i.e SF, Fantasy and horror).

Stalker was created to acknowledge the best original and translated speculative fiction published in Estonian. First Stalker nominees were announced in 1998.

Stalkers for fiction are awarded based on the reader’s votes. (The guidelines of voting are described in the Stalker Statute.) This means everyone who’s interested in Estonian speculative fiction can vote!

The award is announced annually on Estcon – the annual convention of the local fandom. All the voters and fans and other interested parties are very welcome to witness the event!

(3) GQ ON JEMISIN. One more in a flurry of magazine profiles about the Hugo-winning author – Joshua Rivera’s “N.K. Jemisin Is Trying to Keep the World From Ending” at GQ.

I wanted to talk to Jemisin because she wrote a trilogy of books that largely took the world as it is now—buckling under the weight of systemic racism, income inequality, and environmental disaster—and portrayed it, through the lens of fiction, as what it truly is if left to momentum and entropy: the end of the world. It’s not a farfetched notion.There are cops outside the library, and they’re carrying assault rifles because a man whose fervent support of the nation’s president has moved him to terrorism.

“If the United States right now in this moment decided that it wanted to invest in educating every child to an equal degree, making sure everybody had actual equal opportunity, then we would become one of the most powerful countries on the planet,” Jemisin says. “We’d be able to reverse climate change. We would be able to do amazing things. Any country that genuinely harnesses its entire population and treats them all like people has nowhere to go but up.”

(4) THE TRAVELER VISITS LA. Galactic Journey’s Loscon presentation assumed the date was November 24, 1963 —

Not only did we get to put on a show (in which the [Kennedy] assassination, of course, featured prominently), but we also met Laura Freas, wife of Kelly Freas, the illustrator who painted Dr. Martha Dane.  As y’all know, Dr. Dane graced our masthead until very recently, and she remains the Journey’s avatar.

And for those of you who missed the performance, we got it on video-tape.

This is the first of three segments –

(5) FOR THOSE WHO DIDN’T GET IT THE FIRST TIME AROUND. Canadian satire site The Beaverton covers Atwood’s forthcoming book The Tempest: “Margaret Atwood confirms Handmaid’s Tale sequel is just original manuscript but with more exclamation points”.

“As you can see here,” explained editor Angela Harper, pointing to the paragraph where the Handmaids’ puritanical red outfits are first described. “She has added a note that says ‘For the love of God, STOP making sexy Halloween costumes of this, what is hell wrong with you people?’ I really think it will add a delightful personal touch, and remove any trace of subtlety, nuance, or potential for anyone to misinterpret the point of the novel.”

(6) WHO TUNES. There may be some debate about the latest version of the Doctor Who theme but Nature remembers the first female pioneers of electronic music who founded the BBC Radiophonic Workshop and brought us the original theme: “The Doctor Who theme and beyond: female pioneers of electronic music”.

The history of electronic music usually centres on the men (including Pierre Schaeffer, Olivier Messiaen, Pierre Boulez, Karlheinz Stockhausen and Edgard Varèse) who developed musique concrète from recorded everyday sounds in Paris in the mid-twentieth century. Yet in those decades, a group of sound engineers — many of them women — were making waves in an old London skating rink.

The BBC Radiophonic Workshop produced effects and theme tunes for the British broadcaster, including iconic sounds for the sci-fi television and radio programmes Doctor Who and The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, using electronic oscillators and tape loops decades before synthesizers were common. That many of its engineers were women was, and still is, a rarity. Last week, two of them, Daphne Oram and Delia Derbyshire, were celebrated anew in Synth Remix, a concert series of live performances and DJ sets touring Britain.

Oram (1925–2003) co-founded the Radiophonic Workshop.She gained experience in mixing electronics and music during the Second World War while working for the BBC on sound balance for radio broadcasts. During Germany’s bombings of London in the Blitz, she switched pre-recorded tracks of orchestral music into broadcasts of live music. That allowed the musicians to flee the city’s grand concert venue, the Albert Hall, without the radio audience knowing.

In the 1950s, Oram became intrigued by the potential of tape recording to transform music by exploding space and time. She was a fan of musique concrète, regularly staying up all night to mix her own tracks. In 1958, after years of badgering the BBC to modernize its music, Oram and her colleague Desmond Briscoe were given a room with some old equipment. Thus began the workshop.

 

Daphne Oram

(7) JDA ACTS OUT. Jon Del Arroz tried to slime Cat Rambo’s AMA (“Ask Me Anything”) session on Reddit yesterday. Jim C. Hines has the quotes and provides contextual analysis in “When Harassment Appears Harmless”.

There’s nothing friendly about repeatedly, deliberately violating someone’s boundaries. When someone has again and again told you to leave them the hell alone, and you keep following them around, popping up to leave comments or whatever? The words might be friendly, but the behavior is creepy/stalker/harassing.

It’s an attempted power move on the part of the creeper. “Ha ha, I don’t have to respect your boundaries, and there’s nothing you can do about it!” And if the victim complains, the harasser immediately blames them. “I was just trying to be friendly. Why does she have to be so hateful?”

(8) WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT? Author Barbara Ashford, an Odyssey Workshop instructor, advises — “Don’t Lose Sight of the Big Picture”.

When I began revising my first novel, I believed my story had good conflict, complex characters, and a world that was pretty cool. Okay, the plot was a bit of a scavenger hunt. And the novel was way too long. But trimming and refining was what revising was all about, right?

Well…that depends on your interpretation of “refining.” I ended up rewriting two-thirds of the novel and cutting 80,000 words from the final manuscript. But my biggest revelation occurred early in revisions: while my protagonist was blazing a trail through a magical forest, I realized that I had lost sight of the forest for the trees. What was this story about?

(9) NEIL DEGRASSE TYSON & #METOO. Neil deGrasse Tyson is responding to allegations of sexual misconduct. (Variety: “Neil deGrasse Tyson Sexual Misconduct Claims Being Investigated by Fox, ‘Cosmos’ Producers”).

Fox and the producers of the television series “Cosmos” have opened an investigation into multiple sexual misconduct claims against the show’s host, Neil deGrasse Tyson. The move follows a report on the website Patheos in which two women accused Tyson of inappropriate sexual behavior.

“The credo at the heart of ‘Cosmos’ is to follow the evidence wherever it leads,” the producers said in a joint statement. “The producers of ‘Cosmos’ can do no less in this situation.  We are committed to a thorough investigation of this matter and to act accordingly as soon as it is concluded.”

Fox Broadcasting also issued a statement, saying, “We have only just become aware of the recent allegations regarding Neil deGrasse Tyson. We take these matters very seriously and we are reviewing the recent reports.”

More recently, Tyson has posted answers to three allegations on Facebook (Vulture: “Neil deGrasse Tyson Addressed His Sexual Misconduct Accusations on Facebook”).

Neil deGrasse Tyson took to Facebook to address the multiple accusations of sexual misconduct his is now facing. Tyson said he had refrained from commenting previously “on the grounds that serious accusations should not be adjudicated in the press.” He then immediately launched into a defense of his actions, claiming that he “clearly” can no longer stay silent. Tyson is accused of misconduct by two women, and of drugging and raping a third. “In any claim, evidence matters. Evidence always matters,” wrote Tyson. “But what happens when it’s just one person’s word against another’s, and the stories don’t agree? That’s when people tend to pass judgment on who is more credible than whom.” Tyson then provided his accounts of what happened in each case.

Tyson responds at length in his Facebook post.

(11) TODAY IN HISTORY.

  • December 1, 1932 — H.G. Wells’ Island Of Lost Souls premiered in theaters.
  • December 1, 1942 House of Frankenstein is released.

(12) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and JJ.]

  • Born December 1, 1905 – Charles G. Finney, Writer and Editor. It’s rare that I pick writers whose main accomplishment is one work which has defined them, but his one such work is, well, phenomenal. His first novel and most famous work, The Circus of Dr. Lao, was a Hugo finalist and won one of the inaugural National Book Awards, the Most Original Book of 1935; it is most decidedly fantasy. Ray Bradbury liked the novel so much that he included it as the headline story in his anthology The Circus of Dr. Lao and Other Improbable Stories; it is said that the carnival in his Something Wicked This Way Comes is modelled upon The Circus of Dr. Lao. (Died 1984.)
  • Born December 1, 1928 – Malachi Throne, Actor of Stage and Screen who is likely recognizable to genre fans as Commodore Méndez from the Hugo-winning Star Trek double-episode “The Menagerie”, or as a Romulan senator in The Next Generation double-episode “Unification”; decades later, he played a Klingon in the fan series Star Trek: New Voyages. He was the Narrator for the one-season series Visionaries: Knights of the Magical Light, and he was a popular character actor, appearing in many episodes of genre series, including Babylon 5, M.A.N.T.I.S., The Six Million Dollar Man, Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, The Time Tunnel, Land of the Giants, Lost in Space, Mission: Impossible, Project U.F.O., Ark II, Electra Woman and Dyna Girl, and The Outer Limits. His guest role as False Face in the Adam West series of Batman likely got him started in voice roles, including in the series The New Batman Adventures, Batman Beyond, and Avatar: The Last Airbender. (Died 2013.)
  • Born December 1, 1936 – Melissa Jaffer, 82, Actor from Australia who played Utu-Noranti Pralatong in all four seasons of Farscape and its sequel miniseries The Peacekeeper Wars. In addition to appearing as “Keeper of the Seeds” in Mad Max: Fury Road, she had roles in The Nargun and the Stars, The Distant Home, On the Dead Side, Komodo, and Sally Marshall Is Not an Alien, and guest parts in episodes of The Lost World and Glitch.
  • Born December 1, 1942 – John Crowley, 76, Writer and Documentary Filmmaker. I’m tempted to say he’s a literary genius and stop there, but I won’t. The Mythopoeic and World Fantasy Award-winning Little, Big is brilliant – but if anything, his new crow-centric novel Ka: Dar Oakley in the Ruin of Ymr (also a Mythopoeic winner) makes that novel look like child’s play in comparison. Did you know that he wrote a novella called The Girlhood of Shakespeare’s Heroines? Or Lord Byron’s Novel: The Evening Land, which contains an entire imaginary novel by the poet? His novella Great Work of Time won a World Fantasy Award and a Prix Imaginaire, and he was recognized with a World Fantasy Award for Life Achievement in 2006.
  • Born December 1, 1956 – Bill Willingham, 62, Writer and Artist who is best known, I’d say for his long-running, four-time Hugo finalist Fables comic series – though personally I think his best work was Proposition Player, in which the souls of those lost in a card game become entangled in the politics of Heaven and Hell. He got his start in the late 1970s to early 1980s as a staff artist for TSR Games, where he was the cover artist for the AD&D Player Character Record Sheets and a lot of other games. I must mention his superb 1980s comic book series Elementals, and he later wrote the equally excellent Shadowpact for DC. I was always ambivalent about the Jack of Fables series which he spun off of Fables, but his House of Mystery was rather good as well. His work has been recognized with several Eisner Awards, and he was honored as a Special Guest at the 2011 Worldcon.
  • Born December 1, 1957 – Deep Roy, 61, Actor and Stunt Performer of Indian descent who was born in Kenya. Genre fans may know him as Keenser, Scotty’s diminutive assistant in the Hugo finalist Star Trek (2009) and its two sequels Into Darkness and Beyond, but he also has an amazingly-extensive genre resume, with roles in the films Flash Gordon, The Dark Crystal, Star Wars: Return of the Jedi, Return of the Ewok, Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan, The NeverEnding Story, Starship, Return to Oz, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, a 6-episode role with Tom Baker in Doctor Who, a 4-episode stint on Blake’s 7, and a list of genre movies in which he’s performed stunts that is longer than this Pixel Scroll.
  • Born December 1, 1964 – Jo Walton, 54, Writer from Canada who was born in Wales. She won the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer in 2002 and the World Fantasy Award for her novel Tooth and Claw, in which dragons got positively and delightfully Victorian (even if they eat each other). Her Small Change trilogy may be the finest WWII novels I’ve read, bar none, and her Sulien series is an excellent retelling of the Arthurian myth. Her Hugo, Nebula, and World Fantasy Award-winning novel Among Others, she says, is about the “coming-of-age experience of having books instead of people for friends and solace”. I can relate to that, as I imagine many here can, too.
  • Born December 1, 1970 – Greg Ruth, 48, Artist and Illustrator who has provided covers and interior art for dozens of genre fiction works and comics, including the Lodestar Award-winning Akata Warrior, and the new hardcover and German editions of Nnedi Okorafor’s Hugo-winning Binti series. His art has earned four Chesley nominations, winning once, and has been selected for numerous editions of the industry year’s best art book, Spectrum; he was one of five artists selected for the Spectrum jury in 2015. His covers for the German editions of Okorafor’s Lagoon and Book of the Phoenix were nominated for the Kurd-Laßwitz-Preis, and Lagoon took home the trophy. Interestingly, he has created two music videos – for Prince and Rob Thomas (of Matchbox Twenty).
  • Born December 1, 1985 – Janelle Monáe, Writer, Actor, Composer, Singer and Producer who is known for her science-fictional song lyrics and videos. Her debut EP, Metropolis: Suite I (The Chase), is the first in a 7-part conceptual series inspired by Fritz Lang’s classic SF film; the single “Many Moons”, and her subsequent album, The ArchAndroid, garnered Grammy nominations, and her next album, The Electric Lady, was also acclaimed. This year she released the album Dirty Computer, with a companion 48-minute mini-movie which is very much a science fiction film. She played a lead role in the Hugo- and Oscar-nominated film Hidden Figures, and has also had guest appearances on Stargate Universe and Philip K. Dick’s Electric Dreams.

(13) PASSING PAPER. Book Riot warns that “Paper for Books Is Getting Harder To Come By: Why the Backbone of Publishing May Make Book Prices Rise”.

With gift-giving season approaching, booksellers are gearing up for seeing more traffic through their doors and at the registers. But this year, more than any year in recent memory, booksellers are increasingly worried about whether there will be enough copies of the biggest titles. Some of the hottest picture books of the season, including We Don’t Eat Our Classmates by Ryan T. Higgins, were missing from shelves in the otherwise rigorously stocked indie Mclean & Eakin Booksellers in Petoskey, Michigan. Inquiries were made about special ordering the title and the expected fulfillment date was a ways off—January. […]

“There’s basically four different types of paper that are out in the world right now, and it’s freesheet, coated groundwood, uncoated freesheet, and uncoated groundwood. Most trade fiction and nonfiction, books you’d find on the New York Times list or in a store, straightforward text are printed on, those are all on an uncoated groundwood. Almost all of that paper, right now, is coming from the U.S. and Canada, mainly Canada. Most printers are always stocking up on that,” says Doug Wolff, Director of Production at Workman. […]

“Right now, paper is a major problem domestically, for no other reason other than paper mills have been shutting down, paper mills have been consolidating, there’s not as much book paper being made, so for me today to say I want to do a book and I want to print it in two weeks, that could be impossible, just because I might not be able to get paper that quickly. We’re getting things where they’re saying it’s five to six to seven weeks to get paper, which has never been the case in all the years I’ve done production. We might have to choose a different type of paper,” says Wolff.

(14) GREEN BOOK. Two places where fanhistory was made in Los Angeles are among “LA’s last remaining Green Book locations” says LA Curbed.

In Jim Crow-era America, the open road was not open to all. For African Americans, Route 66, the iconic cross-country highway, was dangerous. It was dotted by racist signs and Sundown towns, cities like Glendale that warned blacks to “leave town by sundown.”

In 1936, a postal worker named Victor Green set out to create a guide that would help black travelers drive the “Road of Dreams” safely, and as he put it at the time, “without embarrassment.

What he published was the Negro Motorist Green Book. Up until the final year it was published in 1966, the guide listed thousands of safe havens that made up a nation-wide network for people of color, from barbershops to ballrooms.

Of the 224 original Green Book sites in Los Angeles, only about 8 percent still stand, mostly due to neglect and gentrification.

Number 4 on the list – the Hotel Alexandria, which hosted the 1958 Worldcon.

Alexandria Hotel

Hotel Alexandria has a turbulent history. One of the oldest Green Book sites, it was built in 1906 as the exemplification of luxury. Over a few decades, it went from hosting the likes of Franklin Roosevelt and Winston Churchill, to being shuttered during the Great Depression, to being reopened and re-styled in a faux-Victorian model, to hosting Cassius Clay and Aretha Franklin. From Coppertone beauty contests to Malcolm X rallies, Hotel Alexandria was a notable hub for international and community-based events.

But, in the late ’70s and early ’80s, it fell into decline again, becoming a single room occupancy hotel and drug-trafficking focal point. It wasn’t until the early 2000s that arts and entertainment kicked off its revitalization. Thanks to films such as Dreamgirls, Water for Elephants, and Spider-Man 3, which shot in its famous Palm Court, the Hotel Alexandria is now a functioning low-income housing apartment building. This year, it’s even welcoming a new bar geared to creatives called The Wolves downstairs. And, like many Green Book sites, it’s rumored to be haunted.

Clifton’ Brookdale, where LASFS once met, is on the list, too.

(15) DO YOU KNOW YOUR SFF? Steve Davidson says: stay tuned for Amazing Stories’ new trivia contest.

The Big News (saved for last) this week is, this coming Wednesday, December 5th, we’re going to start a weekly SF Trivia Contest.

There will be TWO winners for each contest:  one prize will be awarded to the first person who leaves the correct answer in the comments, and an additional prize will be awarded to a randomly selected contestant from among all of those who have provided the correct answer..

The prize will be a One Year Digital Subscription to Amazing Stories.  (If you are already a subscriber and win, your subscription will be extended.)

(16) WHO YA GONNA CALL? Despite long experience, when Camestros Felapton needed “Travel Advice” he asked Timothy the Talking Cat.

[Felapton Towers at a strange hour. A phone rings. Timothy the Talking Cat sitrs, weak and weary having spent the night pondering over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore. He answers the phone.]

Timothy: Ahoy. Felapton Towers. Timothy the Talking Cat speaking.

Camestros: Hullo, hullo. Timothy! I need a bit of help!

Timothy: Where are you? What is that echoing background noise?

Camestros: I’m in an airport Timothy. And I’ve forgotten something Timothy.

(17) PRIMATES MAKE BETTER PREDATORS. On io9/Gizmodo, Julie Muncy thinks that “The Predator Would Have Been Way Better With These Predator-Monkey Hybrids”. Art for an unused monkey/Predator hybrid concept has surfaced from September 2018’s The Predator—a reboot of the franchise. The story first surfaced on AVPGalazy (“Constantine Sekeris Shares The Predator Hybrid Creature Concept Art”). That latter story quotes Sekeris as saying (in part):

Today I’m sharing a Predator Hybrid Multi Limb Monkey creature. Production designer Martin Whist and Shane Black had notes exactly that of multi limb hybrid Predator monkey. Typically I spend some time exploring in sketch phase if I have the time with simple paper and pencil. For this creature I had to jump right into 3D and blast out something pretty quickly in a night or 2 after hours.

Early part of the script there were a lot of different hybrid creatures that Tully Summers and myself tackled. I’m not sure if 3D were in the ship in the pods or the Predator Scientists/Emmisaries were experimenting with different animals and mixing DNA. I think there were some initial quick ideas and wanted to see some quick options to explore if it was something to refine later. In the end all that was cut out of the final edit of the film. Regardless, was still fun tackling this as an exercise. Looking at it now with fresh eyes I would make the skin texture patterning a lot simpler and graphic.

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Here is a predator hybrid multi limb monkey creature.Production Designer Martin Whist and Shane black had notes exactly that of a multi limb hybrid monkey predator creature…typically I spend some time exploring in sketch phase if I have the time with simple paper and pencil.for this creature I had to jump right into 3D and blast something pretty quickly in a night or 2 after hours….early part of the script there were allot of different hybrid creatures that Tully summers and myself tackled…..I'm not sure if they were in the ship in the pods or the predator scientist emmessaries we experimenting with different animals and mixing DNA .i there were some initial quick ideas and wanted to c option to explore if it was something to refine later.in the end all that was cut out of the final edit of the film…regardless …was still fun tackling this as an exercise….humbly thank u:) #thepredator #creaturedesign #characterdesign #conceptart

A post shared by Constantine Sekeris (@constantinesekeris) on

(18) GET THE MESSAGE? In other words, it’s going to be about as subtle as his other movies: “Marrakech: Guillermo del Toro Talks “Political” ‘Pinocchio,’ Confirms ‘Terrifed’ Remake”The Hollywood Reporter has the story.

Guillermo del Toro said his upcoming Pinocchio project for Netflix will be a political parable, and not the kid-friendly fare of the competing Disney remake.

“It’s not a Pinocchio for all the family,” he said of his story, set in 1930s Italy. So is it a political film? “Of course. Pinocchio during the rise of Mussolini, do the math. A puppet during the rise of fascism, yes, it is.”

(19) SPOTTING MORE MEASLES. From NPR: “Amid Spike In Measles Cases, Health Officials Warn Of ‘Losing Decades Of Progress'”.

Health officials believe they know the roots of the growth.

“Without urgent efforts to increase vaccination coverage and identify populations with unacceptable levels of under-, or unimmunized children, we risk losing decades of progress in protecting children and communities against this devastating, but entirely preventable disease,” Soumya Swaminathan, the WHO’s deputy director general for programs, said in a statement released Thursday.

…But medical experts say those global successes have depended on the vaccine. Regions that do not have a high rate of vaccine coverage, whether due to a lack of access or conscious rejection by parents, are susceptible to a rise in measles — even relapses in areas where the disease had been nearly or entirely eliminated.

(20) BUSTING A SLUMP. BBC expects the next mission will be free of the program’s recent problems: “All systems go as Russia’s Soyuz aims to erase space failures”.

Soyuz launch number 138 should be as routine as it gets for space flight. The next crew are due to lift off on Monday heading for the International Space Station (ISS) from the same launch pad Yury Gagarin used in 1961 on his historic first flight into orbit.

But two months ago an accident on the last Soyuz launch sent the Russian and American astronauts hurtling back to Earth.

Shortly before that, the crew on the ISS had discovered a mysterious hole – located after air pressure on the Station began to drop, and successfully plugged.

Both incidents have raised questions about the state of Russia’s space industry – once the great pride of a Superpower – and the future of cosmic co-operation with the US.

(21) SOMETIMES, IT CAUSES ME TO RUMBLE. Keep your ear to the ground, but keep your head out of the way — “Vibrations offer new way to track elephants”.

Researchers have come up with a new way of tracking elephants, via the vibrations that the animals make.

Scientists Dr Beth Mortimer and Prof Tarje Nissen-Meyer discovered that elephants generate vibrations through their normal movements and through vocalisations, known as “rumbles”.

These can be measured by techniques usually used for studying earthquakes.

(22) MORE AUTHENTIC FAKES. A post WWII sell-off from the Victoria & Albert Museum collection changed set decoration in Hollywood epics for the better: “How London’s Victoria & Albert Museum Boosted Hollywood’s Historical Cred” in The Hollywood Reporter.

In that V&A stash: the cast tin replica of a 100 A.D. silver cup from Pompei that Charlton Heston clutched in MGM’s 1959 monster hit Ben Hur. Considering that a single V&A electrotype can easily command $6,000-$7,000 or more on auction websites today, it was a smart move by the studio. “Even allowing for inflation, MGM got a bargain,” Patterson tells THR.

While the museum’s electrotypes were also sold off to third parties and were ultimately purchased in the secondary market by the likes of Warner Bros., the V&A’s hidden hand in Hollywood is far greater than even all this suggests. Henry Cole, the V&A’s first director, used his position in the mid 19th century to convince 15 European princes and various art and academic institutions to make copies publicly available of the treasures they held in their little-seen collections. That is how the copper and electrogilt copies of historic silver buried deep inside Cambridge and Oxford universities ultimately wound up in the Holy Grail cave of 1989’s Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade

(23) CHANNEL 2001. The next generation of TV started airing today. Not that any of us can tune in: “Space Odyssey helps launch first 8K TV channel”.

Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey will help launch the world’s first super-high definition 8K television channel on Saturday.

Japanese broadcaster NHK said it had asked Warner Bros to scan the original film negatives in 8K for its new channel.

Super-high definition 8K pictures offer 16 times the resolution of HD TV.

However, few people currently have the necessary television or equipment to receive the broadcasts.

(24) SABRINA’S NO APRIL FOOL. She’ll wait ’til later in the week to arrive…. Nextflix’s Chilling Adventures of Sabrina resumes April 5.

Get ready, mortals. Our girl’s gone full witch. Join Sabrina as she navigates the Path of Night while holding on tight to her friends who walk the Path of Light.

 

[Thanks to Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Mike Kennedy, Chip Hitchcock, Cat Eldridge, John King Tarpinian, Carl Slaughter, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Kip Williams.]

Pixel Scroll 11/22/18 Obie, I Don’t Think I Can Pick Up The Pixels With These Handcuffs On

An abbreviated Scroll, partly because of the family gathering today, and partly because my energy is drained by the proverbial flu-like symptoms….

(1) GRRM ON COLBERT. George R.R. Martin visited The Late Show with Stephen Colbert to promote his new book Fire and Blood.

From ET Canada: “George R.R. Martin Shares His Turtle-y Inspiration For ‘Game Of Thrones’ On ‘Colbert’”

Colbert opened the interview by complimenting the “purple turtle” brooch Martin was wearing on his shirt and asking what it meant.

“I love turtles,” Martin said. “That’s how my writing career began, with turtles.”

The 70-year-old explained: “I lived in Bayonne, New Jersey, the federal housing projects there. We were not allowed to have dogs. We were not allowed to have cats. So the only pets I was allowed to have were turtles, little dime store turtles.

“The thing is about those little dime store turtles is that they die very soon,” he continued. “And I couldn’t figure out why they would die, but it wasn’t my fault, so I decided that they were competing for the Turtle Throne. They were killing each other to determine who would be the Turtle King. So that was my first fantasy, Turtle Castle, it preceded Game of Thrones by many years.”

 

(2) REAL LIFE DRAGON. Inverse says that “NASA Announces Test Flight for SpaceX Crew Dragon”. The uncrewed test is now scheduled for early next year. The first crewed test would follow in a few month’s time.

SpaceX’s Crew Dragon took a step closer to reality on Wednesday, as NASA announced that the company will launch its first test flight for the capsule in just two months’ time. The unmanned test will pave the way for a manned test in the summer of 2019, which will see the first American astronauts enter space on board a commercial spacecraft.

The “Demo-1” uncrewed test flight will take place on Monday, January 7, 2019. The Crew Dragon spacecraft will be sent up on a Falcon 9 rocket from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida at Launch Complex 39A. In a press statement, the agency said the launch would provide “data on the performance of the Falcon 9 rocket, Crew Dragon spacecraft, and ground systems, as well as on-orbit, docking and landing operations,” as well as “valuable data toward NASA certifying SpaceX’s crew transportation system for carrying astronauts to and from the space station.”

(3) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and JJ.]

  • November 22, 1932 – Robert Vaughn, Actor of Stage and Screen and Director, whose best-known genre work was as Napoleon Solo in the 1960s series The Man from U.N.C.L.E. (with a cameo in its short-lived spinoff The Girl from U.N.C.L.E.), but his first genre appearance was in the Roger Corman “gem” Teenage Cave Man in 1958. Other genre roles were in Escape to Witch Mountain, Starship Invasions, The Lucifer Complex, Virus, Hangar 18, Battle Beyond the Stars, Superman III, C.H.U.D. II: Bud the C.H.U.D. (seriously, who penned that title?), Demon Seed, Transylvania Twist, and Witch Academy. (he did do some awful films!) (Died 2016.)
  • November 22, 1940 – Terry Gilliam, 78, Oscar-nominated Writer, Actor, and Animator. OGH is going to growl here, but there is no way to be brief when it comes to Terry Gilliam. He’s directed twelves films, of which the vast majority are firmly genre, tending to surrealism, and have garnered him a multitude of awards and nominations. I’ve seen Brazil (which was responsible for his Oscar nod), Time Bandits, Monty Python and the Holy Grail, The Adventures of Baron Munchausen, Twelve Monkeys – all five of which were finalists for the Best Dramatic Presentation Hugo Award – and The Fisher King and Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life. Yes, I skipped past his start as the animator for Monty Python’s Flying Circus, which grew out of his love for the children’s series Do Not Adjust Your Set – which had staff of Eric Idle, Terry Jones, and Michael Palin. Though he largely was the animator in the Python series and films, according to his autobiography, he did occasionally take acting roles – particularly roles no one else wanted, such those requiring extensive makeup. He also co-directed a number of scenes. His most recent are The Brothers Grimm, The Man Who Killed Don Quixote, Tideland, The Zero Theorem, and The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus (Heath Ledger’s last film). SFF author Kage Baker was a big fan of his; she did reviews of Baron Munchausen and Time Bandits for Green Man Review.
  • November 22, 1958 – Jamie Lee Curtis, 60, Can we agree that she was the best Scream Queen for her film debut in the 1978 Halloween film in which she played the role of Laurie Strode? No? Well that’s my claim. She followed up with yet more horror films, The Fog and Prom Night. In all of them, she’s the only character that survives. She would reprise the role of Laurie in four sequels, including Halloween H20, Halloween: Resurrection, Halloween II, and Halloween III: Season of the Witch. She shows up in one up of my fav SF films, The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension as Sandra Banzai, but you’ll need to see the director’s extended version, as she’s only seen there. Is True Lies really genre? Probably not, but for her performance, Curtis won a Golden Globe Award and a Saturn Award. Damned impressive, I’d say. No, I’m not listing all her films here, as OGH would likely start growling. Suffice to say, she’s had a very impressive career, just in genre works alone.
  • November 22, 1984 – Scarlett Johansson, 34, Actor of Stage and Screen, Singer, and Producer. She is best known, perhaps, for her role as the Black Widow in the MCU films, but she has had other genre appearances, including Her (for which she won a Saturn Award), Lucy, Ghost World, the Hugo-nominated The Prestige, The Island, Eight Legged Freaks, The Spirit, Under the Skin, and notably as Motoko Kusanagi in Ghost in the Shell – a production which was controversial for whitewashing the cast, particularly her character, who was supposed to be Japanese.

(4) COMICS SECTION.

  • In this Non Sequitur, we learn how to transform the world.

(5) HERO POSTER. Gizmodo/io9 has highlighted a poster with over 100 movie characters (second in a series of such) and challenged you to try to identify them all (“Good Luck Finding All the References in This Mega Movie Mashup”).

What would happen if over 100 heroes and villains from science fiction got together in a room and just went nuts? A new poster answers that question with one word: insanity.

The poster is called RAID 2: Incident on Line 13, and it’s the second in a series by artists Josan Gonzalez and Laurie Greasley. You may even remember RAID 1as we featured it on the site. For RAID 2, though, things have gotten even more manic, with a ton of awesome characters kicking the shit out of each other, all together in one beautiful print. Check it out.

Prints both are available at the Hero Complex Gallery website or, you can visit this link to enter a contest for a free copy of RAID 2.

(6) JDA. Well, I’m not going to let this go to my head — of course we look good next to Comicsgaters, whose verbal assaults caused Jon Del Arroz to shut down his Twitter account. “I Guess The File 770 Guys Ain’t So Bad…” [Internet Archive link]

These last two weeks have been hellish to say the least. I haven’t talked about a lot of stuff on the personal front, but if you’re following along on social media, you’ve seen some folk absolutely lose their minds at your favorite humble Hispanic author (me). My understanding is that my leaving twitter has only escalated the situations to where they’re not even coherent anymore….

But you came for the clickbait headline here, and I have to say with all honesty, I prefer the File 770 folk to this current crop of trolls for a couple of reasons.

One, the Filers insults aren’t typically full time. There’s a couple who just are obnoxious, but for the most part they’re very tame compared to the stuff I’ve been getting lately — and moreover, almost all of them voiced concerns over my family’s health and wished good health in recent posts. I actually really appreciate that and was pretty touched they remembered and cared….

(7) TROUBLE IN THE TARDIS? [Item by Olav Rokne.] Rumors are swirling about discontent behind the scenes at Doctor Who. Starlog reported yesterday that new show runner Chris Chibnall may leave the show after an abbreviated season in 2019, reports go on to speculate that Jodie Whittaker may follow suit in solidarity. Given the new life they have breathed into the series, it would be extremely disappointing to see them leave. “Are Jodie Whittaker and the new ‘Doctor Who’ showrunner leaving already?” at NME:

A report in the long-running science-fiction magazine Starburst says that Chibnall is dissatisfied with the way the show is being run behind-the-scenes by the BBC. Whittaker, who previously worked with Chibnall on the hit ITV drama Broadchurch, is said to be leaving the show in sympathy for her friend and colleague.

(8) LION KING. Variety provides background for the Lion King teaser trailer.

The first look at the live-action/CGI remake of “The Lion King” is finally online.

Disney released the teaser trailer on Thursday as part of the Thanksgiving football festivities, replicating the opening scene of the beloved 1994 original animated film.

 

[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, JJ, Chip Hitchcock, Olav Rokne, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, John King Tarpinian, Carl Slaughter, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Brian Z.]

Pixel Scroll 9/23/18 We Can Pixel It For You Scrollsale

(1) EXTRAPOLATION. At WIRED, The Geeks Guide to the Galaxy podcast asks Peter F. Hamilton “How Would Teleportation Change Society?”

Hamilton envisions a future in which teleportation portals are used for garbage disposal, irrigation, and carbon sequestration, and in which the now-useless bridges and highways have been converted into parks and shopping centers. He also predicts that cheap teleportation would spell the end of the hotel business.

“If it takes two minutes to walk from where I am [in England] to America, what do I need a hotel for?” he says. “There are still fabulous resorts and places like that, but the idea of a businessman needing a hotel for the night? No, that’s gone.”

Teleportation might also allow humanity to easily explore the galaxy. Hamilton’s interstellar starships are propelled forward by exhaust channeled through a portal. “You have one part of the portal that you just drop into the sun, and the other half is the rocket engine on the starship,” he says. “No need for any antimatter or fusion or anything.”

Sounds like a recipe for mass unemployment!

(2) STAYIN’ ALIVE. Here’s somebody else who’s looking for work. We learn from The Late Late Show with James Corden that Predator is desperate for new acting roles:

With “The Predator” now out in theaters, the franchise’s famed antagonist, whose name is Howard, is ready for a new chapter. With new headshots and a positive attitude, Howard jumps into the Hollywood grind in search of the next great role.

 

(3) REMEMBER TO SQUEE. Edmund Schluessel wrote up “Fantasticon 2018 in Copenhagen”. (He wants you to know this event was distinct from the Fantasticon SF convention which took place in Indiana this same weekend.)

…The audience at Fantasticon was consistently among the nicest I’ve encountered. One of the program items I made a point of seeing on Saturday was a talk led by the dauphines of Swedisn and Danish fandom, Fia Karlsson and Sanna Bo Claummarch respectively, titled Come with me if you want to squee! whose thesis was, simply, there should be no guilty pleasures: we should feel free to enjoy what we enjoy, and break down barriers of “you can’t like this because you’re a girl, or boy, or too old, or to young” and so on.

And this is something we need to keep reminding ourselves of because those barriers are continually being reconstructed for us. Now that I am A Published Author people can read what I write in an “official” way; but part and parcel of that is that the publisher and Amazon will both try to quantify me like census takers because that’s as indivisible and fundamental a component of marketing books as carbon is a component of sugar, and we authors and fans are complicit too when we try to promote the work by putting it in a familiar context (“you like young adult romances with aliens, right?”). We owe it to ourselves as writers and fans to break down the barriers even as we take part in building them up through how we present our work.

(4) A SAGA OF THE MEXICANX INITIATIVE. Hector Gonzalez has posted two more entries in his account of  Worldcon 76.

I started thinking something showing my traditions as well as the new lessons I’ve learnt in the US. The choice was simple: gorditas, a Mexican specialty of stuffed fried masa dough. I opted for a smaller version of these, around the size of a mason jar mouth. There would be two versions, one for meat eaters, another one for vegans. The meat option would be filled with carnitas estilo Michoacan, using my grandmother’s recipe but adapting it to a modern technique called sous vide. With it you cook the food at a constant temperature to assure more tender and intense flavors. The vegan version would be vegan carnitas, made with mushrooms, using sous vide too.

Now, the science fiction angle. The easiest way would be playing with my specialty: salsas. I opted for making 7 salsas, each spicier than the previous one. The first one that came to my mind was Soylent Verde, because it was an easy pun. My dear Aussie friend Paul CZ came up with a couple of the other names: Picard de Gallo?—?Make It Salsa happened while eating BBQ, while Obi Juan Chipotle was sent over Messenger later that same day.

I though I had everything under wraps and the plan would go without a hitch. However, I tend to think on worst case scenarios when cooking. “If this fails, which is your plan B?” I started thinking about options. I was assured by Diane that I would get help in the kitchen but even with an extra pair of hands, catering for over 100 person could be daunting.

(5) A GOLDEN AGE. M M Owen, in ”Our Age of Horror” on Aeon, interviews Joe Hill, Ramsey Campbell, and Daid J Skal to discuss why horror remains so popular.  Plus he begins his piece by discussing Ray Bradbury’s 1955 story “The Next in Line.” which he thinks is one of the great horror stories of the 20th century.

Our present era is one in which the heart of culture is blowing hard upon a coal of fear, and the fascination is everywhere. By popular consent, horror has been experiencing what critics feel obliged to label a ‘golden age’. In terms of ticket sales, 2017 was the biggest year in the history of horror cinema, and in 2018, Hereditary and A Quiet Place have been record-breaking successes. In both the United States and the United Kingdom, sales of horror literature are up year over year – an uptick that industry folk partly attribute to the wild popularity of Netflix’s Stranger Things (2016-). And the success isn’t merely commercial. Traditionally a rather maligned genre, these days horror is basking in the glow of critical respectability. As The New York Times remarked this June, horror ‘has never been more bankable and celebrated than it is right now’.

As any historian of the genre will tell you, horror has had previous golden ages. Perhaps ours is just a random quirk of popular taste. But perhaps not. Perhaps we are intoxicated by horror today because the genre is serving a function that others aren’t. Can’t. Horror’s roots run deep, but they twist themselves into forms very modern. The imagination’s conversion of fear into art offers a dark and piercing mirror.

(6) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • September 23, 1846 — Planet Neptune was discovered.

(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and JJ.]

  • Born September 23, 1908 – Wilmar H. Shiras, Writer. Also wrote under the name Jane Howes. Her most famous piece was In Hiding, a novella which was published by John W. Campbell, Jr. in Astounding Science Fiction in November 1948 – eventually to be included in the The Science Fiction Hall of Fame novella anthology — and widely assumed to be the inspiration for The Uncanny X-Men that Stan Lee and Jack Kirby would release 15 years later.
  • Born September 23, 1920 – Richard Wilson, Writer and Archivist. Though a genre writer who garnered several Nebula and Hugo nominations, I’m going to argue that his major contribution to the field was collecting the papers of many SFF writers for Syracuse University’s George Arents Research Library. As Wiki notes, ‘the collection eventually included manuscripts, galley proofs, magazines, correspondence and art donated by Piers Anthony, Hal Clement, Keith Laumer, Larry Niven, Frederik Pohl and others, including Wilson himself.’ I wonder if that means Niven’s Ringworld artwork is there…
  • Born September 23, 1936 – Edgar L. Chapman, 82, Scholar and Critic. I’m fascinated by genre academics. This one is a specialist on Philip José Farmer – not exclusively, but that’s his main area of interest. So let’s look at some of what he’s published: From Rebellious Rationalist to Mythmaker and Mystic: The Religious Quest of Philip José Farmer, The Magic Labyrinth of Philip Jose Farmer, The Fabulous Riverworld, and On Philip Farmer.
  • Born September 23, 1956 – Peter David, 62, Writer. Despite my general aversion to works based on media series, I’m going to single out his Babylon 5 work as most excellent. Among his fiction work of a non-media undertaking, his Modern Arthur series is very good as is his quite silly Sir Apropos of Nothing series. Let’s by no means overlook his very, very impressive work in comics covering series such as Doctor Who, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Aquaman, Super-Girl, and Young Justice. He has won a number of Awards including an  Eisner Award for Best Writer/Artist Team with Dale Keown for The Incredible Hulk.
  • Born September 23, 1957 – Rosalind Chao, 61, Actor. Perhaps best known to genre fans as the botanist Keiko Ishikawa O’Brien from Star Trek: The Next Generation and Deep Space Nine, she grew up working part-time in her parents’ restaurant near Disneyland. Her early genre appearances include guest roles in episodes of the TV series The Amazing Spider-Man and Beauty and the Beast and the TV miniseries Intruders. She appeared in the 2003 version of Freaky Friday, and has a role in the upcoming live-action movie version of Disney’s Mulan.
  • Born September 23, 1967 – Justine Larbalestier, 51, Writer, Editor, and Critic. An Australian author of fiction whose novels have won Andre Norton, Carl Brandon, and Aurealis Awards, she is probably best known for her comprehensive scholarly work The Battle of the Sexes in Science Fiction which was a Hugo, Locus, and Aurealis finalist. Her Daughters of Earth: Feminist Science Fiction in the Twentieth Century, an anthology of SFF stories and critical essays by women, won The William Atheling Jr. Award.
  • Born September 23, 1975 – Katrina Browne, 43, Actor. A New Zealander who has appeared in numerous genre properties including The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, Xena: Warrior Princess, Hercules: The Legendary Journeys, Young Hercules, Power Rangers DinoThunder, and Power Rangers Ninja Storm.

(8) COMICS SECTION.

  • In this Over the Hedge, we find out Alexa has limits on what it can do to affect your Kurma.

(9) TRUE CONFESSIONS. J.W. Ocker kicked off the Halloween season  by watching the 1983 Disney/Ray Bradbury flick Something Wicked This Way Comes. Oh, and by the way….

For whatever stupid, random twists that the universe throws at this planet to keep itself entertained, I happen to own the head of Will Halloway. Like, the actual physical prop. It’s from the scene where he and Jim are running from the carnival at night and come full stop at a small guillotine that beheads a version of Will right in front of them. The severed head prop was created by Rob Schiffer, a famous Disney make-up artist who was responsible for turning Jonathan Winters into a pumpkin in the Halloween Hall of Fame show and a dog into a monster in the original Tim Burton short Frankenweenie. He also worked on such properties as The Black Hole, TRON, and Escape to Witch Mountain, as well as movies for other production houses. I mean, he did the makeup on everything from The Wizard of Oz to Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?

(10) NPR AND COMICSGATE. NPR’s investigative reporting show Reveal devoted an episode to explaining #ComicsGate: “Never Meet Your (Super) Heroes”. Because of my bad hearing I haven’t listened myself, however, person who emailed me the link says a feature of the show is a Rolling Stone reporter interviewing Vox Day, publisher of the comics referenced in the following blurb —

There’s a new battlefield in the culture wars: comic books. The alt-right now has gotten in the business, led by a buxom, Confederate flag-waving superhero named Rebel and a white vigilante who turns immigrants over to ICE.

(11) DOLLARGATE. Whatever else #ComicsGate is, Vox Day and Jon Del Arroz hope it’s a revenue stream. However, one of Day’s moves has offended some people and made both VD and JDA objects of social media scorn. Castalia House apologist Bounding Into Comics tries to run interference for them in “Let’s Not Turn #Comicsgate into #Dramagate”.

With coordinated attacks coming from all sides, it’s more critical than ever that #Comicsgate members keep their eye on the prize and don’t turn into #dramaqueens who favor sniping and infighting over solidarity. Sadly, for those supporting this consumer revolt in the name of good comic books, and for the high profile figures within it, recent history may not be on our side.

On September 3rd, 2018, Alt-Hero publisher Vox Day announced his prospective Comicsgate imprint right here on Bounding Into Comics, and it would be an insult to diarrhea to say that the Comicsgate community understandably lost their crap in response. Whether Vox Day was trying to do something he deemed to be positive for the movement, or he was just trying to co-opt it a la Sad Puppies…or both, is mostly irrelevant; the fallout from his move was quite real, particularly when it came to author and occasional BIC contributor Jon Del Arroz.

Over the course of 24 hours, Del Arroz, whose Sci-Fi and comic book work are both published by Day’s imprints, was not only taken to task for his friendship with Day, but he would see some of his sociopolitical positions erroneously conflated with Day’s. When the accused makes it crystal clear that they disagree with someone else’s specific politics and yet they are still being taken to the woodshed for them, it’s a pretty clear case of reactionary outrage….

(12) RECOVERING FROM A FORMER GOOD IDEA. BBC reports: “France removes toxic tyres from failed reef project”.

Teams of divers are painstakingly lifting an artificial reef made of tens of thousands of old car tyres from the seafloor south of France, after it was found to spread pollution from toxic chemicals.

The operation is costing well over a million euros ($1.1m; £898,000) and is part-funded by the tyre manufacturer Michelin as well as the French state.

The divers are supported by a boat with lifting equipment.

Fish had been avoiding the area.

(13) LEGO PORG. SYFY Wire has made note that you will soon be able to buy your own Porg; some assembly required (“LEGO just brought a life-size Porg to Earth”).

By now, we’ve seen just about all the Porg merch in this galaxy—Porg shirts, Porg Funko pops (of course), Porg bobbleheads, furry animatronic Porgs, a borderline terrifying Chewbacca and Porg backpack, and now a life-size LEGO Porg.

Yes, this is for real, and it’s one Porg that Chewie can’t slow-roast over a fire.

The LEGO kit lists for $69.99 and is listed on the company’s site as “Coming Soon on Oct 1 2018”. Features of the kit, per LEGO, are:

  • Features authentic detailing, an opening mouth and flapping wings.
  • Also includes a display stand with decorative fact plaque and an extra porg mini build.
  • Porg without stand stands over 7” (19cm) high.
  • Display stand measures approx. 2” (6cm) high and 1” (3cm) deep, and over 4” (11cm) wide.
  • Relive fun porg adventures from Star Wars: The Last Jedi.

(14) DISNEY STREAMING. Variety has a report (“Loki, Scarlet Witch to Get TV Series on Disney Streaming Service”) that the as-yet unnamed Disney streaming service will have exclusive content from the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Disney is enlisting Earth’s Mightiest Heroes as the company prepares to launch its upcoming streaming service. The entertainment giant is in early development on an ambitious plan for a number of limited series centered on popular characters from the Marvel Cinematic Universe. These series will likely include shows centered on Loki and the Scarlet Witch, along with other beloved superheroes who have yet to appear in their own standalone movies.

Marvel and Disney had no comment.

There’s an important distinction from other Marvel small screen efforts, however. The actors who portrayed these heroes and villains in the Avengers films and their spin-offs, such as Tom Hiddleston and Elizabeth Olsen, are expected to play them in the streaming shows. Moreover, though sources close to the production are staying mum on the cost of the programming, the budgets are expected to be hefty rivaling those of a major studio productions. Each series is expected to include six to eight episodes. Marvel Studios will produce the shows and Kevin Feige, the guru of all things MCU, is expected to take a hands-on role in their development.

[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, JJ, Martin Morse Wooster, John King Tarpinian, Chip Hitchcock, Carl Slaughter, John A Arkansawyer, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories,, Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Soon Lee.]

Pixel Scroll 9/21/18 E.S. Means ‘Exemplia Scrolli’ And P.E. Means ‘Pixelus Est,’ Simple?

(1) BARGE INTO LUNCH. Scott Edelman invites listeners to binge on sushi with award-winning author Pat Cadigan in episode 77 of Eating the Fantastic.

The first of five meals recorded for my Eating the Fantastic podcast was a lunch with Pat Cadigan at Mizu Sushi Bar & Grill, which was a no-brainer when deciding where to host a writer who won the 2013 Hugo Award, as well as the Seiun Award, for her novelette “The Girl-Thing Who Went Out for Sushi.”

She also won the Arthur C. Clarke Award twice—for her novels Synners (in 1992) and Fools (in 1995). She’s a major fan of professional wrestling, and I’m pleased that when I was editing Rampage magazine during the ’90s, she wrote many articles for me on that subject … when her duties as the reigning Queen of Cyperpunk didn’t interfere. She’s also written tie-in novels for Friday the 13th and Lost in Space, and forthcoming, the official movie novelization of Alita: Battle Angel. She also won a World Fantasy Award in 1981 for editing the magazine Shayol.

We discussed what it was like being Robert A. Heinlein’s liaison at the 1976 Kansas City Worldcon, why John Brunner hated her when they first met and what she did to eventually win him over, her secret childhood life as a member of The Beatles, what she and Isaac Asimov had in common when it came to convincing parents to accept science fiction, her original plan to grow up and script Legion of Super-Heroes comics, what she learned about writing from her 10 years at Hallmark Cards, how editor Shawna McCarthy helped birth her first novel, what effect being dubbed the Queen of Cyberpunk had on her career, who’s Thelma and who’s Louise in her Thelma and Louise relationship with editor Ellen Datlow, our joint friendships with Gardner Dozois, how she came up with her stories in the Wild Cards universe, and much more.

(2) TICKETS TO A FROGGY EVENING. Kermit the Frog has been cast in a local production of Lythgoe Family Panto’s The Wonderful Winter of Oz along with Marissa Jaret Winokur as Glinda. Winokur is known for her Tony-winning performance as Tracy Turnblad in the Broadway musical Hairspray.

(3) NINE WORLDS. Escape Artists’ Amy Brennan begins her “Convention Write Up: Nine Worlds 2018” by discussing accessibility issues, then does extensive coverage of the program:

…After this I was off the hook as it were and could fully relax – which was great because next on the p was Knightmare Live – a role playing game with improv actors and audience participation based on a kids show I grew up with.  It was hilarious and I could never do it justice (though I’m still going to try).

This was followed by Dr Magnet Hands run by the superb (and as described by Ian a Mad Genius when it comes to role playing games) Grant Howitt – plus panel including Helen Gould of the Rusty Quill Gaming podcast (It’s one of the best podcasted roleplaying games out there.  I highly, highly recommended it, not least because the party’s acronym is LOLOMG ) Dr Magnet Hands has a plan that the panel of heroes has to defeat.  The twist – they and their powers (and the villains they face on the way) are decided by little slips of paper the audience have filled in with random things.  Which is how one of the heroes was Grant Howitt and another was Grant Howitt’s arms, and one was the empire snake building.  It was fun, and silly, and just slightly alcohol fuelled.

(4) QUICK SIPS. Charles Payseur starts with a warning in “Quick Sips – Nightmare #72”

The September horror from Nightmare Magazine certainly lives up to the name, bringing two pieces that definitely lean toward the bloody and gruesome side of things, though in very different ways. The first takes splatter horror and runs with it, featuring hungry houses and the people who feed them. The second outweighs the first in terms of atrocities committed, though, if not perhaps on the grisly details. For it, though, the horror is more about how this kind of thing is normalized and even used as entertainment. And together they make for a rather unsettling, rather shocking, but very interesting issue of speculative horror. To the reviews!

(5) THE UNASSISTED WORD. Phil Plait tells the genesis of his “Science Speed Dating” program at SDCC in an article at SYFY Wire.

So I had the burgeoning field of exoplanetary science on my mind when I got a second invitation to SDCC: This time by my lgood friends at the Science and Entertainment Exchange, a group (a program of the National Academy of Sciences!) to work with the entertainment industry to get a better portrayal of science and scientists in venues like TV shows, movies, and games.

They were setting up an event called “Science Speed Dating”, which (despite its name) is a panel where a few scientists talk about something exciting going on in their field… but the kicker is they only have 5 minutes to do it, and they can’t use any visuals. So no graphics, nothing but their own voice and enthusiasm.

That sounded like a lot of fun, and I love the Exchange, so I agreed immediately. It turned out to be a good choice. I had a blast.

The event was live-streamed by Skybound Entertainment, and the folks involved were me, my pal and fellow astronomer Clifford V. Johnson, biochemist Jaime Marach, Google software engineer Anthony D. Mays, and economist Alison Sanchez, agricultural researcher Bobby Williams, with the whole thing moderated by Eric Heisserer, who wrote the screenplay for the wonderful movie Arrival….

 

(6) WOULD YOU LIKE TO OWN A FAMOUS BOOKSTORE? Terry Gilman and Maryelizabeth Yturralde of Mysterious Galaxy Bookstore told fans on their mailing list they are looking for new ownership for the San Diego store.

The key ingredients that will contribute to the success of a new owner are all in place: a loyal customer base, a dedicated, hard-working staff, the technological tools to remain current and relevant, and a beautiful environment that appeals to customers of all ages. We are also here to provide the new owner with the necessary resources to ensure a smooth transition.

We are looking for someone who is passionate about Mysterious Galaxy, who genuinely loves our community, and who understands what it takes to operate a retail business. The conversation begins with you. We know how much you care about Mysterious Galaxy, and perhaps you or someone you know – even a family member ready for a change of pace – would enjoy being the owner of our genre fiction stalwart.

…If you would like to learn more about the opportunity to become Mysterious Galaxy San Diego’s new owner, please contact Terry Gilman at terry@mystgalaxy.com.

(7) A HALF CENTURY OF DOONESBURY. The Washington Post’s Michael Cavna interviewed Garry Trudeau for a piece on the 50th anniversary of Doonesbury“‘Big Satire is the least of Trump’s problems’: Garry Trudeau weighs in on how humor has taken on the president”.  Trudeau, who still does new strips on Sundays, explains his cartooning philosophy and discusses why he thinks Trump is much worse than Nixon.

One satiric tactic that Trudeau is finding particularly fruitful is the mimicry of President Trump’s tweets. Right-leaning “Doonesbury” correspondent Roland B. Hedley Jr. has his own Twitter account, and his Fox News-like takes on this administration become comic-strip fodder for the left-leaning Trudeau.

“Writing for Roland must be what it was like creating material for Colbert on his old show,” Trudeau says. “Every day is Opposite Day.”

“I like the challenge of trying to think like the White House,” he adds, “of finding a positive spin for words and actions that are basically indefensible — and doing it with only 280 characters is a kind of comedy haiku.”

(8) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • September 21, 1937 — J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit was published.

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born September 21, 1866 – H.G. Wells. Writer with The Time Machine, a novella in 1895, being his first genre work. Way, way too many genre works to list here so I’ll single out The War of The WorldsThe Island of Doctor Moreau and The Invisible Man as works by him that influenced the genre in a very noticeable manner. He also wrote an impressive amount of short fiction and non-fiction as well.
  • Born September 21 – Stephen King, 71. On the grounds, y’all know more about him than I can recount here, I’ll tell some encounters regarding him. The first was in the early 80s outside his favorite breakfast spot which was opposite the Bangor Public Library. He was dressed in very worn jeans and an old t-shirt leaning up against the wall near the doorway, possibly waiting for Tabitha, with his face deep in a paperback book. No, I didn’t get close enough to see what the book was.My other memorable encounter was not with him but with the props for Pet Sematary which were shot at in part a location near Bangor, Maine. I knew the on-site EMTs and they got permission for me to tour the props area. What a chill that was as what is now digital was in the early 80s very much physical. And a dead cat mocked up is appallingly horrid!
  • Born September 21. Cassandra Rose Clarke, 35. Her contributions to The Witch Who Came in from the Cold, a serial fiction piece coauthored with Max Gladstone, Lindsay Smith, Ian Tregillis, and Michael Swanwick, are  superb. The Mad Scientist’s Daughter was nominated for the Philip K. Dick Award, and her YA novel, The Assassin’s Curse, was nominated for Young Adult Library Services Association’s Best Fiction for Young Adults.

(10) DESIGNING DISNEYLAND. Jessica Leigh Hester’s Atlas Obscura article “Creating Disneyland Was Like Building a Brand New City” is filled with diagrams – especially of the version of the park Disney originally proposed to build near his studio in Burbank. (News to me!)

The Disney theme parks are chock full of amusements, rides, and restaurants, but they’re also small cities that must contend with deliveries, trash, and a steady stream of both employees and visitors. No kingdom, however magic, is exempt from all sorts of pesky needs and demands. People need to be able to move from one place to another, they have to refuel, and, every so often, they’ll need to relieve themselves. Ideally, they’ll accomplish all of this efficiently, and without getting frustrated or dizzyingly lost.

To cater to these less-than-wondrous requirements, the parks are, in reality, self-contained marvels of metropolis-building. Disneyland Park in California has a reliable transit system—the first monorail in the Western Hemisphere, which debuted just as many cities were expressing their love of cars and traffic by laying down ribbons of highway. Walt Disney World Resort, in Florida, innovated with trash: Cans are spaced precisely 30 feet apart, and all of them empty via underground tubes so that family vacations aren’t interrupted by vehicles hauling sun-baked garbage juice.

None of this happened by accident. Long before the parks were magic, they were conceived as two-dimensional representations, or as miniatures. Like many city planners, Disney’s chief urban brainstormers and engineers first imagined the parks’ shapes, structures, and logistics, on a small scale….

(11) FANTASIA RELIC. A Walt Disney Signed Copy of ”Ave Maria” From ”Fantasia” is up for bidding at Nate Sanders Auctions until September 27.

Walt Disney signed copy of ”Ave Maria”, the ”interpretation from Walt Disney’s ‘Fantasia”’. Disney signs in blue crayon on the front free endpaper, ”To Mrs Geo Williams with my best wishes – Walt Disney”. Printed by Random House, with a 1940 copyright by Walt Disney Productions, book is a beautiful presentation of ”Ave Maria”, with gilt accents throughout, paired with iridescent color pictures from ”Fantasia”. Sheet music appears in back, along with pictorial endpapers.

(12) JDA’S WORLDCON SUIT. Jon Del Arroz’ lawsuit against Worldcon 76 has at last been successfully transferred to the Santa Clara Superior Court. The new venue shows a case record for “Jonathan Del Arroz vs. San Francisco Conventions, Inc. et al.”, Case Number: 18CV334547 dated September 14.

Del Arroz originally filed the suit in San Joaquin County in April, and the parties agreed to transfer it to Santa Clara in June, but that ran into problems which have only recently been worked out.

Santa Clara’s case record shows 18 co-defendants – however, other court records give reason to believe only one defendant – the corporation – was timely served.

Here is Rick Moen’s breakdown of the latest online entries in the case:

The Events and Hearing section (of chronological case events) begins on Sept. 11, 2018 with the court formally accepting transfer from San Joaquin County, then it notes bulk scan of case documents from the period April 16 – July 3rd, doubtless from San Joaquin County. Then it says a/o Sept. 14th ‘Notice of Transfer’ (the date the new case record got opened). Last, the only real news: The new case management conference is shown as scheduled for Tuesday, December 18th, at 3:45 pm.

‘Judicial Officer’ is listed as ‘Strickland, Elizabeth’. Ms. Strickland shows in public records as the court civil division’s Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) Officer, which is of course a primary focus of a case management conference, e.g., seeing if the parties are amenable to mediation, arbitration, or a settlement conference.

(13) GALACTIC JOURNEY. Rosemary Benton’s enthusiasm for The Haunting makes it sound well-worth a visit to 1963: “[September 21, 1963] Old Horror and Modern Women (Robert Wise’s The Haunting)”.

…When I read that there was to be a film adaptation of Shirley Jackson’s 1959 novel The Haunting of Hill House I was over the moon. In this time of character driven thrillers blasting onto the silver screen thanks to Alfred Hitchcock and Orson Welles, I was excited yet apprehensive to have one of my favorite author’s books translated into a film script. Upon learning that the talent of Robert Wise, director of The Day the Earth Stood Still and West Side Story, was going to be attached to the project I felt I could rest easy. Now that I have seen the end result I confidently predict that this movie will be remembered for the horror genre treasure that it is! Simply put, Robert Wise’s The Haunting pays homage to its predecessors of gothic horror, yet breaks new ground in what has been an increasingly campy genre….

(14) SHORT WAVERS. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] OK, so if you’re not a football fan you may not be familiar with holding up pictographic play cards on the sideline as a way to communicate play calls to your team without giving them away to the opposing team. Just trust me, it’s a thing.

In the Temple University (Owls) football game against the University of Tulsa (Golden Hurricane) on Thursday 20 September, Temple introduced a new wrinkle to this. Stormtroopers. (Yahoo Sports: “Temple used Stormtroopers to hold up play cards on sideline”)

Or, at least it looked like that’s what they were doing. Whatever they were doing, it must have worked. The Owls survived the Golden Hurricane to take a 31-17 win versus a pre-game betting spread of about 7 points.

(15) ROVER ISSUES. NASA’s solar powered Opportunity rover is still out of contact with Earth after the recent global Mars dust storm. Now the nuclear powered Curiosity rover is having a less serious issue. Stored data is not being sent, though live data is coming through (NASA blog: “NASA Mars Rover Curiosity: Mission Updates – Sols 2175-2176: Tell Us More, We Want to Help!”).

Over the past few days, engineers here at JPL have been working to address an issue on Curiosity that is preventing it from sending much of the science and engineering data stored in its memory. The rover remains in its normal mode and is otherwise healthy and responsive.

The issue first appeared Saturday night while Curiosity was running through the weekend plan. Besides transmitting data recorded in its memory, the rover can transmit “real-time” data when it links to a relay orbiter or Deep Space Network antenna. These real-time data are transmitting normally, and include various details about the rover’s status. Engineers are expanding the details the rover transmits in these real-time data to better diagnose the issue. Because the amount of data coming down is limited, it might take some time for the engineering team to diagnose the problem.

On Monday and Tuesday, engineers discussed which real-time details would be the most useful to have. They also commanded the rover to turn off science instruments that were still on, since their data are not being stored. They’re also preparing to use the rover’s backup computer in case they need to use it to diagnose the primary computer. That backup computer was the rover’s primary one until Sol 200, when it experienced both a hardware failure and software issue that have since been addressed.

While the engineers work to understand the problem, Curiosity’s science team is using the time to pore over data gathered on Vera Rubin Ridge and come up with the best location for another drilling attempt. We’re looking at any clues that tell us the rocks are weaker and better for drilling. As the JPL-based project scientist, I really enjoy watching our scientists from all over the world take on these challenges. And, I also get to witness the brainpower that JPL brings to bear when the rover has a technical issue. We’re rooting for the engineering team 100%!

This blog may be less frequent until science operations resume

(16) SAD SCIENCE. NPR reports on the reason behind the recent closure of the Sunspot Solar Observatory (“Shutdown Of New Mexico Observatory Was Part Of Investigation Into Child Pornography”).

Officials have explained the mysterious closure of a New Mexico observatory earlier this month, saying they were investigating one of the facility’s janitors for possession and distribution of child pornography.

The Sunspot Solar Observatory at Sacramento Peak was shut for 11 days for “a security issue,” and its closure drew cheeky speculation that authorities were investigating the presence of UFOs.

According to unsealed federal court documents, the FBI was examining the observatory – but not for the presence of aliens. In an affidavit, an FBI agent wrote that she was looking at the “activities of an individual who was utilizing the wireless internet service of the National Solar Observatory in Sunspot, New Mexico, to download and distribute child pornography.”

(17) TOO WOUND UP. Scott Tobias concludes “‘The House With A Clock In Its Walls’ Is An Eyesore” in an NPR review.

…The new film adaptation, written by Supernatural creator Eric Kripke and directed by Eli Roth, the horror-provocateur responsible for Cabin Fever and Hostel, doesn’t have the patience for such grace notes. They’ve retrofitted Bellairs’ book for the age of Harry Potter and Goosebumps, turning the house on High Street into a Hogwarts satellite where magic infuses every object and floorboard, and the CGI pops like the spring-loaded spooks at a carnival funhouse. Roth’s instinct for horror maximalism is precisely the wrong approach to the material, which doesn’t accommodate that much visual noise….

(The Boston Globe was more generous, giving 2.5/4 stars.)

(18) TIMELORD ANTICIPATION. Watch Mojo has screened the trailers and picked these as the Top 10 Things To Look Forward To In Doctor Who Series 11

(19) TRAILER PARK. At First Light will be in theaters and available on demand on September 28.

Sean (Théodore Pellerin) and Alex (Stefanie Scott, Insidious: The Last Key) go on the run after Alex has a close encounter with mysterious orbs of light that leave her with extraordinary powers. As they flee from their families, the police and a covert government agency, Alex and Sean find themselves at the center of an unprecedented event in human history. First contact. As her powers grow stronger and more dangerous, Sean must decide whether staying with Alex and discovering the truth behind her transformation is worth dying for. Directed by Jason Stone (The Calling), the film also stars, Kate Burton (“Scandal”), Saïd Taghmaoui (Wonder Woman), and Percy Hynes White.

[Thanks to JJ, Cat Eldridge, Andrew Porter, Carl Slaughter, John King Tarpinian, Mike Kennedy, Jim Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, and Chip Hitchcock for some of these stories, Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Ingvar.]

Pixel Scroll 9/13/18 A Pixel Without A Scroll Is Like Leslie Fish Without A Bicycle Card

(1) COMING DISTRACTIONS. Space.com presents a gallery of photos of Hurricane Florence taken from space.

With Hurricane Florence dominating this view from the International Space Station, Alexander Gerst warns the East Coast to get ready, “this is a no-kidding nightmare coming for you.” Click through this gallery to see the latest images of Hurricane Florence.

(2) SF CONCATENATION. The new issue of SF Concatenation is up “Science Fiction News & Recent Science Review for the Autumn 2018”. Jonathan Cowie outlines what’s in store for readers —

Most recently added (mid-September) is our autumnal edition of news and reviews.  As usual its news page has sections on film, books and publishing, TV, as well as the season’s forthcoming books listing of new titles (also fantasy and non-fiction) from the major SF/F imprints in the British Isles, many of which will soon be available elsewhere in the world.  (A great way to see what will be coming out and ideas for your Christmas shopping.)  And then there is the news page’s science consisting of short paragraphs on the season’s key, primary research papers that are cited so our scientist regulars can Google Scholar the papers for themseleves (and our non-scientist regulars can see that we don’t do fake news).  Plus there’s the news page’s science-and-SF-interface section where yesterday’s SF is becoming today’s fact.

Other content includes articles and convention reports. Here there is another in our series by scientists are also SF authors as to their science heroes born in the 20th century.

The issue delivers over 40,000 words of selected news. That selection includes not reporting most of the Hugo winners:

…We continue (from last year) to define the Hugo ‘principal categories’ as those that had over a thousand nominating in that category (down from two thousand as our definition in 2016 as the numbers involved in Hugo nominating have declined since 2016).  The 1,813 number nominating was down on last year’s number (2,464) (the second year of decline).  The 2,828, voting on the final shortlist was down on the 3,319 voting in 2017 which in turn was marginally up on the number voting in 2016 (3,130).
So not surprisingly, the principal Hugo categories (those categories with over one thousand nominating) were markedly fewer than last year. Indeed, for the first time in many years we are not counting the ‘Best Dramatic Presentation Short Form’ as principal category (it only saw 819 nominating ballots and just a paltry 87 nominating the programme that went on to win). The principal category Hugo wins this year therefore were:-

Best Novel: The Stone Sky by N. K. Jemisin (fantasy) which back in January (2018) we cited as one of the ‘best books’ of 2017. This is the third consecutive win for ‘best novel’ for Jemisin something that has never happened before in this category.
Best Novella: All Systems Red by Martha Wells
Best Dramatic Presentation – Long Form: Wonder Woman (Trailer here) which back in January (2018) we cited as one of the best SF/F/H films of 2017.

(3) THE MILITARY USES OF VENTRILOQUISM. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] Bluetooth earpieces have made people apparently talking to themselves normal—at least sort of. But at least one can spot the earpieces if you look carefully. A product in development for military use could change that, moving the mic and speaker inside the mouth (Smithsonian: “Military Invests in ‘Molar Mic’ That Can Route Calls Through Your Teeth”).

Communications devices have taken over our pockets and our wrists, but soon the gadgets may go even deeper. Patrick Tucker at Defense One reports that the Air Force has signed a $10 million deal with a California company to continue development of a communication device that is fitted to a users’ teeth.

Dubbed the “Molar Mic,” the gadget is being designed by San Mateo-based Sonitus Technologies  Officially called the ATAC system, the two-way communication system consists of a small microphone that clips to a users back teeth. This enables them to hear communications through their cranial bones which transmit the sound to the auditory nerve. Users also wear a low-profile transmitter loop around their neck that connects to the Molar Mic via near-field magnetic induction, a system similar to Bluetooth that can be encrypted and also passes through water. The loop then connects with with a phone, walkie-talkie or other communications device.

The device has seen field testing—albeit not in combat—with good results reported according to the contractor:

Tucker reports that airmen in Afghanistan tried it for 14 months while deployed, though not in active missions. Pararescuemen from the Air National Guard’s 131st Rescue Squadron based at Moffett Field in Mountain View, California, also tested the device in Houston last year during Hurricane Harvey. The team faced high water, noisy helicopters and other external noises that make traditional communication difficult.

“This guy is standing in neck-deep water, trying to hoist a civilian up into a helicopter above. He says, ’There is no way I would be able to communicate with the crew chief and the pilot if I was not wearing your product,” [Sonitus CEO Peter] Hadrovic tells Tucker.

Might you ever see a civilian walking around with a “molar mic”? Gizmodo weighs in on that question (“Weird Tooth Phone Wins Millions in Pentagon Funding”):

A spokesperson for Sonitus told Gizmodo the company won’t speculate about when the technology will be available for commercial, industrial, or consumer markets—and the company won’t scale beyond military use until it completes the contract the Department of Defense just awarded them.

So, we probably have at least a few years before civilians start lodging phones into their throats.

(4) FRESH COMPETITION. Deadline is determined not to be left behind: “Former Hero Complex Columnist Geoff Boucher Joins Deadline As Genre Editor”.

Veteran journalist Geoff Boucher, best known for launching the Hero Complex column in the Los Angeles Times that built a vast following, has joined Deadline in the newly created post of Genre Editor. He will be based in Los Angeles and specialize in breaking news, features and analysis of “Comic-Con culture.” His stomping ground will encompass superhero fare, science fiction, fantasy, horror, and animation, the hottest film and television sectors in today’s Hollywood.

(5) CONSPIRASKI. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] A conspiracy theory promoted by Russian media have it that a NASA astronaut deliberately damaged the docked Soyuz that was leaking air from the International Space Station. A joint NASA/Roscosmos statement reported in The Verge (“NASA is trying to squash conspiracy theories about the space station leak”) tries to quash that rumor… this despite earlier media reports that Roscosmos personnel are feeding those rumors through back channels.

Wild theories of sabotage still persist two weeks after a mysterious pressure leak occurred on the International Space Station, and the gossip has gotten so nonsensical that both NASA and Russia’s state space corporation, Roscosmos, are now trying to quell the rumors.

In a joint statement released today, NASA and Roscosmos claim that the US space agency is working closely with Russia to figure out the cause of the leak. The statement also notes that no information will be released until the Russian-led investigation is over, despite rampant speculation in the Russian press that the leak was possibly caused by one of NASA’s astronauts in space.

…the gossip over the leak seems to have only grown in the last couple of weeks. As first reported by Ars Technica, a story published in Russia’s Kommersant cited anonymous sources from Roscosmos, who claimed that investigators were looking into the possibility that the hole was caused by a NASA astronaut. The theory was that one of the three American crew members had gotten sick, so one of the astronauts caused the leak in order to force a quick evacuation to Earth.

(6) TODAY IN HISTORY

Setting aside his technical first appearance in 1981’s Donkey Kong, today is a fun anniversary to take note of for fans of the Super Mario video game franchise. The fat plumber who sports the iconic overalls and red cap debuted as a titular video game hero 33 years ago today, in Super Mario Bros. which was released in Japan on Sept. 13, 1985.

Not that anyone needs to be reminded, but when the game made its way over to North America and started selling here, it became one of the best-selling video games of all time. With some 40 million copies sold for the original NES.

(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born September 13, 1894 – J.B. Priestley. Who apparently wrote SF but I’ll admit that even after reading his page at the Encyclopaedia of Science Fiction that I’ll be buggered if I can figure out precisely what that means. One of y’all will need to explain what sort of genre fiction he did.
  • Born September 13, 1916 – Roald Dahl. Writer, though how much of his work I’d consider genre is a good question, Witches certainly as well as Gremlins, James and the Giant Peach and Fantastic Mr Fox but what else are genre to your thinking? He would win the 1983 World Fantasy Award for Life Achievement, so I may be being overly fussy tonight.
  • Born September 13 — Bernard Pearson, 72. Discworld specialist. Would I could kid you? He wrote the Compleat Discworld Atlas with Ian Mitchell and Isobel Pearson and Terry Pratchett and Bernard Pearson and Reb Voyce; Also such works (and for sake of brevity I’m skipping co-authors though you can assume Pratchett was listed as being involved though how involved he was is a good question) as the Discworld Almanak: The Year of the PrawnDiscworld Diary: A Practical Manual for the Modern Witch and Miss Felicity Beedle’s The World of Poo.
  • Born September 13 – Bob Eggleton, 58. He has won the Hugo for Best Professional Artist an amazing eight times, he also won the Hugo for Best Related Book for his art book Greetings From Earth. He has also won the Chesley Award for Artistic Achievement. He was the guest of honor at Chicon  in 2000.
  • Born September 13 – Tom Holt, 57. Humorous fantasy such as Expecting Someone Taller and Who’s Afraid of Beowulf?  One of his latest works, The Good, the Bad and the Smug is roughly a take on Rumplestiltskin based economies where Evil goes for modern, hopefully appealing appearance.

(8) COMICS SECTION.

  • This Over the Hedge strip is not what Kirk had in mind when he asked for more power:

(9) DRIVERLESS MOTORCYCLE ON THE WAY. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] Don’t worry, this is probably not going to develop into the first Terminator. BMW has taken the wraps off a research project — said to be more than two years old — and has published video of a self-driving motorcycle (Mashable: “BMW’s riderless motorcycle can handle curves, obstacles”). In the video, the cycle is shown driving both with and without a rider along. What appears to be an early version has wide outrider wheels, but the current prototype looks pretty much lke a regular motorcycle with extra metal boxes attached that presumably contain the electronics.

This week BMW Motorrad — the motorcycle division of the German car company — showed a prototype driverless bike on a test track accelerating, navigating curves, and braking all on its own. In Munich, safety researchers have been using the autonomous motorcycle to test out features for its real motorcycles to handle dangerous situations.

(10) MEANWHILE, BACK AT THE UNCANNY SLUSHPILE. You can’t say they don’t know what they missed.

(11) ESCAPE POD OPENING FOR SUBMISSIONS. On September 16.

(12) ST. KOONTZ. Benedictine College English professor Stephen Mirarchi, reviewing Dean Koontz’s new novel The Forbidden Door, says that Koontz is an orthodox Catholic who is “a wildly successful writer who has infused his art with God’s grandeur.” National Review Online has the story: “The Transcendent Dean Koontz”.

… To take a wider view, Koontz is presenting in the series a large-scale defense of the ability to choose meaning and virtue. One of his recurring characters is an anxiety-prone latter-day Puritan, while another is an intellectually and physically domineering hulk straight out of a Max Weber tract. Koontz fairly and logically shows the necessary consequences of these characters’ thoughts and actions by creating storylines of such accessibility that the general reader can see how their ideologies contradict any coherent notion of the good life. The modern Puritan, for instance, moves nervously from scene to scene, constantly seeking perfection and never finding it, unjustly critiquing others while placating his own ego. The ideologies Koontz critiques inevitably lead to disaster — not just for the characters, but for the societies built on such chimeras.

Hawk, on the other hand, embraces the natural religion to which Koontz’s wide fan base responds with awe. She finds solace in the wonder of creation while calling out evil for its supernatural maliciousness, ever uniting reason with hope against secular hedonism. Koontz does “diversity” the right way, too: He features an autistic character in this series who is a compelling hero because he faces down his particular suffering by accepting grace. And as Flannery O’Connor and Léon Bloy before her have shockingly reminded us, the reception of grace usually hurts — badly.Speaking of the reception of grace, I am going to prognosticate: There is one mesmerizing scene in The Forbidden Door, an explicitly Catholic one, that many readers may wildly misinterpret….

(13) THOSE MISTY WATERCOLOR MEMORIES. Jason Heller intended to write an evocative, nostalgic tribute to the world of Piers Anthony – until he reread A Spell for Chameleon: “Revisiting the sad, misogynistic fantasy of Xanth” at AV Club.

I know other people who have read Anthony’s Xanth books. All of them did so in their youth—and like me, they drifted away from them long before graduating high school. There’s something inherently juvenile about the Xanth series, even though it wasn’t marketed as young adult, a distinction that didn’t exist as such back then. Even worse, as the series progressed it became increasingly reliant on really bad puns. That was more of a turnoff than any perceived lady hating, at least when I was a teenager and less attuned to such things. I do wonder how much of the books’ warped view of women trickled into my sensibility back then. Or other readers’ sensibility.

I grew up to be involved deeply in science fiction and fantasy, but it doesn’t take an insider to know that those genres have trouble with gender issues—both on the page and in real life, where sexual harassment at sci-fi conventions is an ongoing problem. Anthony’s books were huge in their day, and their influence runs deep; dozens of similarly humorous series, from Robert Lynn Asprin’s Myth Adventures to Alan Dean Foster’s Spellsinger, popped up in Xanth’s wake. I read and loved them, too, when I was a kid. But they don’t evoke an icky feeling the way Xanth does—a creepiness that retroactively corrodes any lingering nostalgia.

(14) LUNCH WAS SERVED. Can you guess “Who killed the largest birds that ever lived?” Bones show that humans lived beside “elephant birds” on Madagascar for millennia before wiping them out for food.

Prehistoric humans are under suspicion of wiping out the largest birds that ever lived after fossilised bones were discovered with telltale cut marks.

According to scientists, it’s evidence that the elephant birds of Madagascar were hunted and butchered for food.

The remains have been dated to about 10,000 years ago.

Until now, the first settlers were thought to have arrived on the island about 2,500 to 4,000 years ago.

“This does push back the date of human arrival by 6,000 years, at least,” says Dr James Hansford, a scientist at Zoological Society London, UK.

(15) WALLACE WINS. “Smarty pants: Robot trousers could keep the elderly mobile” — linings of legs fitted to act as supplementary muscles.

Johnathan Rossiter proudly displays his new trousers. Brightly coloured and fit for the running track, but packing more than just Lycra. They’ll be robotic.

“We are all going to get older and our mobility is going to reduce,” he says. “What we want to do is give people that extra bit of boost, to maintain their independence as long as possible.”

A team of British researchers thinks the future lies in wearable soft robotics. They’ve developed robotic muscles; air-filled bubbles of plastic that can raise a leg from a seated to a standing position.

(16) FLY ME TO THE MOON. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] SpaceX is up to something… the Moon. Or, at least they want to be. They’ve announced (via a tweet) that they have signed their first customer to take a trip around the Moon (The Verge: “SpaceX says it will send someone around the Moon on its future monster rocket”):

SpaceX has signed its first customer to fly on the company’s huge new rocket, the BFR, the company says. The passenger will fly on the monster ship around the Moon, though there are no details yet regarding when the trip will happen. SpaceX says it will announce who is flying — and why — on Monday, September 17th.

The BFR, or the Big Falcon Rocket, is the giant rocket that SpaceX is currently developing to send humans to the Moon and Mars. The BFR design, [presented] by CEO Elon Musk last year, consists of a combined rocket and spaceship, called the BFS for Big Falcon Spaceship. The main rocket will have 31 main Raptor engines and be capable of sending up 150 tons to low Earth orbit, according to that presentation.

(Yeah, yeah, BFR stands for “Big Falcon Rocket.” Wink, wink, nudge, nudge. Say no more, say no more.)

SpaceX had already announced (in early 2017) plans for two people to take such a trip; it’s not immediately not clear if this new announcement is one of those or yet a third person. The tweet does say that the name of the person as well as the reason for the trip will be announced Monday 17 September.

(17) MESSAGE FROM A CRYPTIC KRYPTONIAN. Erin Donnelly, in the Yahoo! Entertainment story “Henry Cavill Posts Complex Superman Vibe as Reports Claim He’s Leaving Superhero Role” says that Henry Cavill posted a video on Instagram wearing a “Krypton Lifting Team” and waving a Superman action figure around, leaving his 6.4 million followers wondering what this means.

View this post on Instagram

Today was exciting #Superman

A post shared by Henry Cavill (@henrycavill) on

(18) DAREDEVIL. Nextflix release the Daredevil Season 3 teaser trailer.

[Thanks to Mike Kennedy, Chip Hitchcock, Cat Eldridge, JJ, Daniel Dern, Martin Morse Wooster, John King Tarpinian, Carl Slaughter, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Kip W.]

Pixel Scroll 9/12/18 Pleonasmatic

(1) MAGIC ON DISPLAY. Sean McLachlan reviews the exhibit of “Magical Items at Oxford’s Ashmolean Museum” for Black Gate.

A new exhibition at Oxford’s Ashmolean Museum showcases 180 real-life magical items.

Spellbound: Magic, Ritual & Witchcraft explores the history of magic from the early modern era to the present day through objects ranging from Renaissance crystal balls to folk charms against witchcraft. It looks at basic human needs such as fear of death and desire for love, and how people have used magic to try to get what they need.

The exhibition also turns the question of magic and superstition back on the viewer. In the entrance hallway, you are invited to step under a ladder or go around it. The museum is counting how many people dare to tempt fate. I did, and I hope they post the statistics when the exhibition is over!

(2) WHEEL OF TIME TV. Adam Whitehead shares his notes at The Wertzone: “WHEEL OF TIME TV showrunner hosts Q&A”.

Wheel of Time showrunner Rafe Judkins has hosted a Q&A on Twitter, where he invited fans to pitch him questions about the show. Given that the project is still in an early stage of pre-production, a lot of questions couldn’t be answered, but some interesting tidbits were dropped about how he sees the project moving forwards.

The current status of the project:

Judkins confirmed that the show is in development at with Amazon (via, as we know already, Sony TV Studios) but it has not yet been formally greenlit, either for a full first season or a pilot. As such, things like production timelines, timetables for casting and when we might get to see the show all remain up in the air.

Judkins notes that he is now able to talk about the show in a way he couldn’t a couple of months ago, and that indeed something has changed to facilitate this….

(3) QUITE A BUNCH. At NYR Daily, “David Bunch’s Prophetic Dystopia”, an overview adapted from Jeff VanderMeer’s introduction to the new Bunch collection.

…That these tales come off as a seamless meld of the eccentric poetics of E.E. Cummings, the genius-level invention of Philip K. Dick, and the body horror of Clive Barker perhaps explains both why they remain vital today and why they were characterized as “fringe” during Bunch’s career. They are wild, visceral, and sui generis, without the signifiers of a particular era that might provide anchors for mystified readers. Popular contemporaries like Samuel R. Delany, Ursula K. Le Guin, and even James Tiptree Jr. ameliorated the strangeness of their work with the scaffolding or appearance of more familiar plotlines, even as they wrote stories generally from the point of view of marginalized groups. Bunch, by contrast, foregrounded lyricism over plot and chose to write from the potentially unsympathetic viewpoint of a hyper-aggressive warmonger—a viewpoint clearly quite far from his own. Even his authorial stand-in, the nameless writer of the fictional introduction to this volume, has monstrous qualities.

Nothing quite like the Moderan stories had been written before and nothing like them has been written since….

(4) NARNIA LETTER. Brenton Dickieson spotted a bit of literary history on sale: “For £5,000 You Can Own A Piece of Narnia: New C.S. Lewis Letter Surfaces”.

That’s right, Dominic Winter Auctioneers is putting a newly surfaced letter from C.S. Lewis on the auction block. It is a great artifact, as The Daily Mail reports, a generous and light bit of Narnian delight as Lewis answers some questions from schoolchildren at Grittleton House School in Wiltshire. The auctioneers have made photographs of this short, two-page 22 May 1952 letter. The children of Grittleton House–who Lewis calls Grittletonians–were no doubt curious after the release of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (1950) and Prince Caspian: Return to Narnia (1951). Not only did Lewis assure them that The Voyage Of The Dawn Treader (1952) would be out in a few months, but that there would be seven stories in all.

Although the letter is very much like one sent to Michael Irwin just a couple of months previously (25 Mar 1952), there are a couple of things really worth noting here….

His post includes stats of the letters.

(5) SUPERMAN OUT, SUPERGIRL IN. Tatiana Siegel and Borys Kit, in The Hollywood Reporter’s story “Henry Cavill Out as Superman Amid Warner Bros.’ DC Universe Shake-Up”, say that Warner Bros. has removed Henry Cavill from any future movies as Superman because a cameo by him in Shazam! didn’t work out and DC wants to do a Supergirl origin movie next and put off doing anything with Superman for several years.

Warners had been trying to enlist Cavill, who most recently co-starred in Mission: Impossible — Fallout, for a Superman cameo in Shazam!, which stars Zachary Levi and will bow April 5. But contract talks between Cavill’s WME reps and Warners broke down, and the door is now closing on other potential Superman appearances.

That’s because the studio has shifted its focus to a Supergirl movie, which will be an origin story featuring a teen superheroine. This effectively removes an actor of Cavill’s age from the storyline’s equation given that Superman, aka Kal-El, would be an infant, according to DC lore.

Furthermore, Warners isn’t likely to make a solo Superman film for at least several years, according to another source. “Superman is like James Bond, and after a certain run you have to look at new actors,” says a studio source.

(6) VEGGIE OVERLOAD. Laura Anne Gilman makes a simple request at Book View Café: “A Meerkat Rants: No More Kale, Please.”

Let me admit this shameful fact up front.  I like kale. No, really, I do.  It’s not an easy-to-love vegetable, I’ll agree, but if you know how to buy and handle it, you can get tender, sharp-yet-tasty roughage that serves a variety of salads (including my fave: baby kale and pear with white wine vinaigrette).

But I don’t want it every week. Hell, I don’t want anything food-wise, every single week without fail.

But then I went and joined a CSA.

CSA, for those of you unfamiliar with the term, stands for community supported agriculture.  Basically, you pay a set fee, and get a box of whatever the local farms have on-offer, on a seasonal basis….

(7) VERSE THE CURSE. Charles Payseur interviews Aidan Doyle — “Quick Questions – Aidan Doyle of Sword and Sonnet”. Doyle co-edited the Sword and Sonnet anthology with Rachael K. Jones and E. Catherine Tobler.

So why battle poets?

AD: I liked the idea of poetry being used as a magic system. Sei Sh?nagon was one of the original inspirations for my idea of what a battle poet could be. She wrote The Pillow Book, one of the classics of Japanese literature and was renowned for intimidating the men of Heian-era Japan with her knowledge of poetry. I hadn’t seen any other anthologies that covered a similar theme. After we announced the Kickstarter, there were many writers who told us they were particularly excited by the theme.

(8) DIY STEAMPUNK DÉCOR. Clickbait time at Homedit“21 Cool Tips To Steampunk Your Home”.

The steampunk style is not one of the most well known in terms of interior design. Maybe that’s because many of us don’t even know which are the basic details that define this concept. When I say steampunk, I remember about the Victorian era, with all the inventions back then, but the meaning of this word would be incomplete without the industrial details.

In essence, this trend is a mixture between elegant Victorian interior accessories and the strength of industrial elements. Maybe you remember about Joben Bistro, that beautiful pub from Romania. It’s an inspiration for us….

The fifth tip is –

  1. Buy a terrestrial globe (in case you don’t have one already)

Make sure it’s old and very used. It would be one of the most popular items in the house, and kids would love to spin it over and over again.

(9) TRIVIAL TRIVIA

The town of Santa Claus, Indiana, changed its name in 1856 from Santa Fe, which was already taken, to get its own post office. As a result many of the town’s street names are Christmas-themed, including Sled Run, Blitzen Lane and Melchior Drive. Source: Wikipedia

(10) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • September 12, 1958 The Blob got loose in theaters.
  • September 12, 1993Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman” premiered on TV.

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born September 12, 1921 – Stanislaw Lem. Polish writer whose The Man from Mars was a first contact novel, other genre works include Solaris, and two short story collections, Fables for Robots and The Cyberaid. His later years are marked by his anti-technological views including outright opposition to the internet. In 1973, he was made an honorary member of SFWA (later rescinded).
  • Born September 12 —John Clute, 78. Critic, reviewer and writer. Some of his reviews are in his early collection, Strokes. I’ll  single out The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction which he co-edited with Peter Niicholls and The Encyclopedia of Fantasy (John Grant, co-editor) which I think are still really awesome. Oh and The Darkening Garden: A Short Lexicon of Horror is fucking amazing! I’ve not read his fiction so I welcome your opinions on it.
  • Born September 12 – William Goldman, 87. Writer of The Princess Bride which he adapted as a screenplay. He also wrote the screenplays for Misery and The Stepford Wives. His late brother is James Goldman who wrote The Lion in Winter and Robin and Marian.

(12) COMICS SECTION.

(13) BOOKSTORE ON WHEELS. The thread starts here.

(14) PHILOSOPHICAL DILEMMAS. Eric Schwitzgebel’s guest post for Cat Rambo’s blog deals with an episode of The Good Place: “Eric Schwitzgebel Gives One-Point-Five Cheers for a Hugo Award for a TV Show about Ethicists’ Moral Expertise”.

When The Good Place episode “The Trolley Problem” won one of science fiction’s most prestigious awards, the Hugo, in the category of best dramatic presentation, short form, I celebrated. I celebrated not because I loved the episode (in fact, I had so far only seen a couple of The Good Place’s earlier episodes) but because, as a philosophy professor aiming to build bridges between academic philosophy and popular science fiction, the awarding of a Hugo to a show starring a professor of philosophy discussing a famous philosophical problem seemed to confirm that science fiction fans see some of the same synergies I see between science fiction and philosophy.

I do think the synergies are there and that the fans see and value them – as also revealed by the enduring popularity of The Matrix, and by West World, and Her, and Black Mirror, among others – but “The Trolley Problem”, considered as a free-standing episode, fumbles the job. (Below, I will suggest a twist by which The Good Place could redeem itself in later episodes.)

(15) A MEXICANX INTIATIVE LOOK AT W76. Alberto Chimal, part of the MexicanX Initiative at Worldcon 76, has written up his experience for Literal Magazine: “Fui a otro mundo y me traje esta camiseta” . (Here’s a link to a Google Translate English language versioncaveat emptor.)

….La delegación en la que estuve, compuesta por casi cincuenta artistas, escritores y lectores mexicanos y mexicoamericanos, pudo inscribirse y figurar en el programa de la convención gracias a un proyecto de fondeo y apoyo entre el propio fandom que se llamó The Mexicanx Initiative. Éste fue idea del artista John Picacio, ilustrador y portadista de larga carrera a quien se nombró invitado de honor de la Worldcon: es la primera vez que una persona de origen mexicano recibe esa distinción. Picacio, como muchas otras personas, ha observado la postura abiertamente racista y antimexicana del gobierno actual de los Estados Unidos, y cómo los exabruptos y tuits de su presidente, Donald Trump, están “normalizando” formas de odio y extremismo que hace menos de una década hubieran sido condenadas sin vacilación….

(16) OVER THE TRANSOM. JDA submits to Uncanny. Surprised it’s lasted this long — the title phrase is really too well-known to be called a dogwhistle.

(17) SPECIAL ISSUE. Charles Payseur finds an extra big serving of short fiction on his plate: “Quick Sips – Uncanny #24 Disabled People Destroy Science Fiction! [September Fiction]”.

Disabled People Destroy Science Fiction! is here!!! And with it comes a whole heck of a lot of fiction and poetry. To be specific, ten stories and ten poems. But, because this is also a regular issue of Uncanny, the work will be released publicly over two months. And so, to keep things manageable for me, I’m going to be tackling this extra-big issue in four parts—September fiction, September poetry, October fiction, and October poetry. So let’s dig in! The first half of the issue’s fiction is up and features five short stories touching on aliens, assistive devices, families, and a whole lot of disabled characters getting shit done. The work in these focuses primarily (for me, at least) on occupations and growing up. About facing down intolerance and violence and finding ways to find community, hope, and beauty in a universe that can often be ugly and cruel. So let’s get to the reviews!

(18) D&D MANGA. The B&N Sci-Fi & Fantasy Blog enumerates “14 Graphic Novels & Manga for Dungeons & Dragons Fans”.

Comics and fantasy role-playing games have shared a similar trajectory as of late: once considered distinctly nerdy pursuits and viewed as mildly disreputable by the broader culture (when they weren’t the subject of full-blown moral panics, anyway), they both have recently been thrust into the mainstream, whether via big budget movies or name-dropping teens on Netflix. Yet somehow, both forms of entertainment have maintained their legit geek cred.

The recent release of the graphic novel The Adventure Zone: Here There Be Gerblins illustrates (heh) the intersection perfectly: a number one New York Times’ bestseller based on a popular podcast that’s all about a family sitting around playing Dungeons & Dragons. With that in mind, we rolled a d20 to perform a skill check on the 13 great graphic novels below, and discovered they are all highly proficient in satisfying tabletop gamers looking for a fantasy fix between play sessions.

(19) NOVELLAS. At Nerds of a Feather, Adri Joy reviews two novellas published by The Book Smugglers: “Microreview [Books]: A Glimmer of Silver by Juliet Kemp and Accelerants by Lena Wilson”.

The Book Smugglers’ Novella Initiative line was a highlight of my novella reading in 2017, bringing a set of diverse, different stories with some interesting romance and a more YA sensibility to some of the entries than I’ve seen in other fiction of this length. I’ve been hoping throughout this year that we’d see more from the line, and in August my waiting was rewarded with this pair – with some bonus theming around the classical elements to really seal the deal!

Both Accelerants and A Glimmer of Silver deal with people on the cusp of adulthood in their own societies, whose choices are immediately constrained by the societies they live in.

(20) THREE ON A MATCH. Nerds of a Feather’s Joe Sherry gives quick verdicts on three books including Adrian Tchaikovsky’s latest: “Nanoreviews: The Skaar Invasion, Phoresis, The Expert System’s Brother”.

(21) BUY YOUR OWN HAMMER. Bonobos won’t share tools. Now I want to know what their policy is on books: “What’s Mine Is Yours, Sort Of: Bonobos And The Tricky Evolutionary Roots Of Sharing”.

An intriguing study published this week suggests that bonobos, among the closest relatives to humans, are surprisingly willing to hand over food to a pal. But they didn’t share tools.

The discovery adds a new wrinkle to scientists’ efforts to understand the evolutionary origins of people’s unusual propensity to help others.

“One of the things that is really striking about humans is how cooperative or helpful we are,” says Christopher Krupenye, an evolutionary anthropologist at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland. “It’s just a really pervasive element of our behavior.”

Common chimpanzees (a related species that diverged from bonobos about 2 million years ago) do engage in some altruistic behavior. For example, it’s been shown that chimps will hand a tool that’s out of reach to a person who clearly is trying to get it — as will human children. So Krupenye and some colleagues recently repeated that experiment with bonobos in a sanctuary.

“Bonobos didn’t help at all,” says Krupenye. Instead, sometimes they would retrieve the tool but still keep it out of reach, showing it off in a teasing way. “They didn’t help, in this particular context.”

(22) PUTTING HUMANITY TO THE TEST. In fact, Margaret Atwood called on the internet for some help with a tool just yesterday. Is social media more or less evolved than bonobos? The thread starts here.

(23) SPARE CHANGE. Meanwhile, I will gladly pay you Tuesday for an Apple today: “6-Figure Price Tag Expected For Rare Apple-1 Computer At Auction”.

Before Apple was a trillion-dollar company, before its phones and laptops came to dominate the tech industry, it was just a California startup working out of a garage. Now, one of the first products the company ever made — the Apple-1 computer — is about to be the star of a live auction on Sept. 25 in Boston.

“The Apple-1 is so iconic of that era, of the garage era of Silicon Valley, that I think there is almost no other object that really encapsulates what it does culturally and technologically,” says Dag Spicer, senior curator for the Computer History Museum, which has an Apple-1 in its collection. Spicer says it’s one of their most popular pieces.

(24) LARPING. A photo essay about costumes, including some genre, at the Washington Post: “Inside the fantastical world of live-action role playing”:

What is LARP? It is an acronym for live-action role playing, a phenomenon inspired by fantasy board games, films, literature and computer games. People who are into LARP outfit themselves as their favorite characters such as orcs, dwarfs, zombies and vampires, among others. Photographer Boris Leist takes us into this world with his latest book, “LARP,” which will publish this year by Kehrer Verlag.

A few years ago, Leist met a man in the LARP community. The man was dressed as a dwarf, and Leist was impressed by the quality of the man’s costume and the passion he had for role playing. Although the man was an IT professional in real life, he was so committed to LARPing that he was taking a welding class so that he could build armor for himself. This passion and commitment inspired Leist to go deeper into the LARP community and meet more of its members. Leist ended up spending three years delving into that world and compiling portraits.

(25) SCARY GOOD. The Guardian has a great gallery of international posters from Harryhausen films: “A monster talent: Ray Harryhausen movie posters – in pictures”.

From roaring dinosaurs to clashing titans and flying saucers, the stop-motion genius made audiences gasp, shriek and doubt their eyes. Here are the best posters his groundbreaking movies inspired

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, JJ, Lise A., Norman Cook, Chip Hitchcock, Mike Kennedy, Bill, Cat Eldridge, Martin Morse Wooster, Carl Slaughter, StephenfromOttawa, David W., and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day John Hertz.]