Pixel Scroll 1/18/21 Big Pixel In Little Scroll

(1) COPYRIGHT ALTERNATIVE IN SMALL CLAIMS ENFORCEMENT ACT. Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA) sounds unenthusiastic about the new CASE Act which will apply to copyright infringement claims of up to $30,000 and operate outside of the federal court system: “Legal Affairs Committee Alert: CASE Act on Copyright Small Claims Becomes Law” at the SFWA Blog.

…The Copyright Office will set up the tribunal and determine many details governing its use that were not made explicit in the bill. The bill’s passage is good news in general for creators, but it is not a panacea for pursuing copyright infringement claims. Indeed, for most SFWA members, it will likely be of little use, no matter what procedures the Office establishes. That’s because the copyright infringer must voluntarily participate in the process after being notified of the claim. If the infringer is anonymous or difficult to trace, it may be impossible to serve notice of the claim at all. It also only applies to infringers located in the USA, which means it can’t be used to counteract the vast number of overseas pirating websites.

The tribunal will primarily be used in cases in which the rights holder and the infringer both see the benefit of a relatively low-cost method of resolving their dispute. In some cases, a credible threat of escalating the case to federal court may persuade the infringer to participate in the lower cost tribunal. However, it will still not be cheap. Aside from the fee for initiating a claim, whose amount has yet to be set, consulting with a lawyer to present a compelling case will still be necessary, or at least highly advisable. Several groups are looking at arranging lower cost or pro bono legal advice for these cases, and the law does include an option for law students and student legal clinics to act as representatives.

(2) MORE THAN ELIGIBLE. Nerds of a Feather canvassed its contributors and came up with a high-powered list of sff works and series that should be considered for the Hugo: “2021 Nerds of a Feather Hugo Awards Recommended Reading, Part 1: Fiction Categories”.

…The rules for inclusion were simple–just: (a) meet the eligibility criteria; and (b) be “award worthy” (i.e. good). Given the subjectivity of the latter, it should come as no surprise that the selections on our longlist reflect the spectrum of tastes, tendencies and predilections found among our group of writers. You’ll find selections ranging from the obscure and literary to the unabashedly popular and commercial, and from all corners and subdivisions of the genresphere.

That said, this is not – nor does it intend to be – a comprehensive survey of the field. Some books that are undoubtedly “award worthy,” for example, are absent for the simple reason that we haven’t read them yet. Thus we encourage you to think of this as a list of candidates to consider–alongside others…. 

(3) MACPHEE ESTATE SALE CONTINUES. Doug Ellis has put out Spike MacPhee Catalog #5 – SF & Fantasy Art, Books, Magazines & Ephemera Sale, with over 600 items for sale. It’s part of the Spike MacPhee estate sale of original art, books and other material.

From 1977 to 1989, the Science Fantasy Bookstore operated in Harvard Square in Cambridge. Deb and I hung out there when we were in law school and became friends with the owner, Spike MacPhee. Spike was a member of NESFA and also founded the small press, Paratime Press, which published several checklists in the 1970’s. He was also GoH at the first Arisia convention in 1990.

Besides reading SF, Spike was a devoted science art collector. From the late 1960’s into the 1990’s, Spike attended several SF conventions – among them Boskone, Lunacon, Nycon III, Noreascon, Discon, Torcon and Disclave – where he would often buy art at the art show auction. He also became friends with many SF artists of the 1970’s and bought art directly from them as well. Spike remained a passionate fan until he passed away on November 13, 2019.

The PDF catalog with roughly 250 images can be found at this link until January 24. (41 MB file, 114 pages.)

On Facebook, Ellis has posted an image from the catalog with an interesting history:

Among the art that will be that catalog is this piece, done by artist Rick Sternbach in 1974. It was drawn by him on the outside (left side) and inside (right side) of a pizza box, which apparently had contained a pepperoni-hamburger pizza from Franco Pizza House in Cambridge, MA. As related in the Minicon 15 program book from 1979, where Sternbach was Artist Guest of Honor, comes this: “Yessir, Rick, he surely loved to…do pizza box cover artwork. Spike MacPhee, one of the people living at Terminus (the center of a lot of this activity, and Rick’s hang-out, when he was in town), thought a lot of Rick’s work…and he thought that it was his duty to save all those pizza-box covers…”

Definitely a unique piece of art! The pizza box is now in two pieces, as shown in the scan. Pizza not included.

(4) N3F SHORT STORY CONTEST WINNERS. The National Fantasy Fan Federation (N3F) Short Story Contest Judge Jefferson Swycaffer announced the winners in the January issue of TNFF.

  • First Prize: The Azazel Tree, by Chris Owens, a tale of morality, of absolute good and absolute evil, and one hero who strives to uphold the good, despite the awful cost.
  • Second Prize: The Eternal Secret, by John Yarrow, Heroic Fantasy in the classical mold, a tale that might have been told of Odysseus or Jason, fighting monsters and solving riddles.
  • Third Prize: If Music Be The Fruit of Love, by Jack Mulcahy, a tale of music and love, and how a crisis calls upon us to rise to the level of heroism.
  • Honorable Mention: The Haunting of the Jabberwocky, by Charles Douglas, a truly Carrollian story of wordplay and madness, and how a hero, unarmed, has the greatest weapon of all.

There were twenty-one entries, science fiction and fantasy, mostly from the United States, four from Great Britain.

(5) BE THE FIRST ON YOUR BLOCK. [Item by Danny Sichel.] The Science Museum (UK) has combined their digitized collection with their API and their log of pages that have 0 views to create a web tool that will show each visitor a picture of an image that has never been looked at before. You can be the first person to see an object. “Never Been Seen”.

(I saw a page from a 1780 surgical manual and a seton needle and some 19th-century ebony-and-steel forceps)

(6) GERMANY’S OLDEST BOOKSELLER DIES. [Item by Darrah Chavey.] Of possible interest to File770 readers, since we tend to be bookstore fans. The H. Weyhe Bookstore, founded in 1840, is one of the oldest bookstores in Germany, founded before Germany was a country. It was purchased by Helga Weyhe’s grandfather in 1871, and has been in the family since then. Helga Weyhe worked at, and then ran, the bookstore since 1944. She passed away at the end of December or early Jan. at the age of 98. The New York Times has her story here.

(7) HERNANDEZ OBIT. Lail Montgomery Finlay Hernandez, a GoH of the 2014 World Fantasy Con and the daughter of pulp artist Virgil Finlay, died on January 13 from cancer at the age of 71.

She contributed remembrances to Virgil Finlay Remembered: The Seventh Book Of Virgil Finlay (1981) and Virgil Finlay’s Women Of Ages (1982) (see her foreword here: “Lail Finlay Remembers Her Father”) and was closely involved with the publication of The Collectors’ Book Of Virgil Finlay (2019). 

After her house burned down in November 2019 (killing her musician husband), a GoFundMe appeal was launched to help her and her daughter save what they could of her father’s art and papers. (See Pixel Scroll 11/29/19 The Scrolls of Our Teeth item #5.)

(8) LIGHTLE OBIT. Comics artist Steve Lightle died January 8. Yahoo! News has his profile:

As the artist for the popular comic “Legion of Super-Heroes” in the early 1980s, Steve Lightle made a living dreaming up the future, but his own was cut short by Covid-19.

Lightle, 61, died from cardiac arrest in a Kansas City, Missouri, hospital on Jan. 8, just three days after coming down with what he thought was a head cold and just hours after he was rushed to the hospital.

… Best known for his runs on “Legion” and “Doom Patrol” for DC and “Classic X-Men” covers for Marvel, Lightle became a fixture at conventions, never too busy to mentor the next generation. He came across as larger than life and drew visuals that were just as grand.

(9) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

  • January 18, 1952 –On this day in 1952, Tales of Tomorrow’s Frankenstein first aired on ABC. It would be the sixteenth episode of the first season of the series. It was directed by Don Medford. The episode starred Lon Chaney, Jr. in the role of Frankenstein’s monster and John Newland in the role of Victor Frankenstein. Lon Chaney, Jr. is credited here as Lon Chaney as he was in all his later work. He’s no stranger to playing The Monster as he played the role of The Monster in the Universal Pictures Ghost of Frankenstein a decade earlier. You can watch it here. (CE)

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]

  • Born January 18, 1882 – A.A. Milne.  Talented cricketer; among his teammates Barrie, Conan Doyle (whose surname is really Doyle, not Conan Doyle, but never mind that for now), Wodehouse. Twoscore plays, six novels, poems, nonfiction, besides Winnie the Pooh (two books of stories, and usually including two of poetry although the Pooh characters aren’t in them), which nevertheless remains great fantasy, seems timeless, and shows we can fantasize princes or piglets.  (Died 1956) [JH]
  • January 18, 1920 Constance Moore. She gets Birthday Honors for being in the 1939 movie serial Buck Rogers in which she was Wilma Deering, the only female character in the serial.  Were there ever other female main cast characters in Buck Rogers? (Died 2005.) (CE) 
  • January 18, 1933 John Boorman, 87. Director who’s responsible for one of the best SFF films ever done, Excalibur with Sean Connery, and one of the worst with that also starred Sean Connery, Zardoz. (He wrote the novel for that one as well.)  He also directed the rather nifty Emerald Forest which Holdstock did a far better than merely good job of novelizing.(CE)
  • Born January 18, 1934 – Hank Reinhardt.  Author, editor, armorer, leading U.S. Southern fan.  Co-founded the first Atlanta and Birmingham SF clubs.  Fan Guest of Honor at DeepSouthCon 19, StellarCon 17, Archon 29.  Rebel Award andRubble Award; Georgia Fandom Award, later named for him.  Two short stories, one anthology, posthumous Book of Swords and Book of Knives.  After his first wife died, married fan and pro Toni Weisskopf.  (Died 2007) [JH]
  • Born January 18, 1935 – Eddie Jones.  Fanartist who developed a spectacular pro career.  TAFF delegate. Fan Guest of Honor at St. Louiscon the 27th Worldcon; Official Artist at Boskone 11, Guest of Honor at Mythcon 1982.  Did the Knight of Pentacles for Bruce Pelz’ Fantasy Showcase Tarot Deck (see here; images and BP’s introduction here, scroll down for Pentacles, they come after Cups).  Eight hundred fifty covers, a hundred interiors.  Here is Vector 37.  Here is the Heicon ’70 Program Book (28th Worldcon).  Here is A Gift from Earth.  Here is City.  Here is R is for Rocket.  (Died 1999) [JH]
  • Born January 18, 1936 – Rhoda Lerman.  Two novels for us, four others, nonfiction, television, films.  One-woman play about Eleanor Roosevelt.  Cultural delegate on first U.S. delegation to Tibet.  Bred champion Newfoundlands.  NY Times appreciation (5 Sep 15) said “her imagination was eccentric … her books didn’t resemble one another.”  (Died 2015) [JH]
  • 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 which ran for three seasons. 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. He shows up in Die Hard with a Vengeance in a subway scene. No, it’s not genre, I just like that film. (Died 2009.) (CE) 
  • Born January 18, 1942 – Franz Rottensteiner, Ph.D., age 79.  Publisher, editor, translator, critic.  Edited Quarber Merkur (SF journal named for the Quarb Ravine in Austria; Merkur = Mercury) since 1998.  Kurd Laßwitz Prize.  Translated into German e.g. Abe, Dick, Lem, Cordwainer Smith, the Strugatsky brothers.  Fifty anthologies, e.g. in English Views from Another ShoreThe Best of Austrian SF.  Ninety biographies e.g. Franke, Hodgson, Le Guin, Malory, Robbe-Grillet, for Das Bibliographisches Lexikon der utopisch-phantastischen Literatur.  Published eighteen volumes of Wells.  [JH]
  • January 18, 1953 — Pamela Dean Dyer-Bennet, 68. 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 also a great deal of fun to read. Much of her short stories are set in the Liavek shared universe created by Emma Bull and Will Shetterly. All of the Liavek anthologies  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. (CE)
  • January 18, 1960 Mark Rylance, 61. He was in 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. He’s an active thespian  as well with plays of interest to us that’s he’s been being 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. (CE) 
  • January 18, 1964 Jane Horrocks, 57. Her first SFF genre role was Pattern in The Wolves of Willoughby Chase, scripted off the Joan Aiken novel. A year later, she showed up in The Witches, scripted off the Raoul Dahl novel playing Miss Susan Irvine. She voices Black Widow / Mrs. Plum in Tim Burton’s The Corpse Bride, and voiced Hannah in the late Ninties Watership Down. (CE)
  • Born January 18, 1984 – C.J. Redwine, age 37.  Seven novels, one shorter story for us; The Shadow Queen NY Times Best-Seller.  “If the villain isn’t worthy of my heroes, then the story no longer matters.”  Has read The Wizard of OzHamlet, a Complete Stories & Poems of Poe (read his essays too, folks), Anne of Green Gables, “The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde”, Gone with the Wind, To Kill a Mockingbird.  [JH]

(11) COMICS SECTION.

  • Blondie has a take on ice cream that I hope is a fantasy.

(12) THE BREW THAT IS TRUE. Or maybe — Eats, Shoots, and Leaves? The Republic of Tea has some specials on offer: “Star Wars: The Mandalorian Teas”.

The Mandalorian and the Child continue their journey, facing enemies and rallying allies as they make their way through a dangerous galaxy in the tumultuous era after the collapse of the Galactic Empire. Sip our exotic, Limited Edition teas on adventures throughout your own galaxy. New Season Now Streaming on Disney+

(13) FIERY METAPHOR. Joseph Loconte considers “J.R.R. Tolkien’s Dragons: Exploration of Good & Evil” at National Review.

For its 1937–38 “Christmas Lectures for Children,” the Natural History Society of Oxfordshire announced forthcoming talks on coral reefs, birds, whales, horses — and dragons. The latter topic was taken up by J.R.R. Tolkien, a professor of English literature who had just published The Hobbit, an immensely popular book involving a dragon. Tolkien’s lecture, before an audience packed with children of all ages, tackled a decidedly adult subject: the problem of evil in the world and the heroism required to combat it.

Tolkien began, disarmingly, with a slide show of prehistoric reptiles, including a Pteranodon in flight, to remind his listeners that “science also fills this past with dreadful monsters — many of the largest and most horrible being of a distinctly lizard-like or dragonish kind.” These ancient creatures, he said, embodied legendary qualities found in dragon mythology. The dragons with whom he had an acquaintance “loved to possess beautiful things.” Greed and hatred motivated them. “And how can you withstand a dragon’s flame, and his venom, and his terrible will and malice, and his great strength?”

It probably was not lost on the children present that Tolkien’s mythical dragons sounded a lot like the people who inhabited the real world. The adults might have discerned a more ominous message. Tolkien delivered his lecture on January 1, 1938. Nearly a year earlier, on January 30, 1937, Adolf Hitler had officially withdrawn Germany from the Treaty of Versailles and demanded that its colonies be returned….

(14) DATA FIGURINE. EXO-6 has created a scale model of Lieutenant Commander Data. Twelve inches tall, $189.95. But do I want that face staring at me from across the room?

EXO-6 is proud to present their first 1:6 scale articulated figure from Star Trek™: First Contact – Lt. Commander Data.

When introduced in Star Trek: The Next Generation, Data was a one-of-a-kind cybernetic organism, an artificial being that wanted nothing more than be just like the imperfect humans he served with aboard the Enterprise. In the film First Contact the Borg Queen gives him an opportunity to be more human than he ever thought possible, yet he rejects that hope in the service of loyalty to his friends and the rest of humanity.

Data is one of the most popular characters in Star Trek, and no other character better expresses the wonder of discovery that is the heart of Star Trek than this android with a soul. The EXO-6 1:6 scale figure of Data will not only embody the hopefulness of the character, but also bring an element of Brent Spiner’s performance into collector’s homes.

(15) GOT TO HAND IT TO THEM. Tadiana Jones and Marion Deeds both weigh in about Garth Nix novel at Fantasy Literature: “The Left-Handed Booksellers of London: Selling books and fighting evil”. Jones’ comments include —

…Nix was inspired to write The Left-Handed Booksellers of London (as he related in his acknowledgements at the end) by a fortuitous comment from a left-handed bookseller in Leith. He pulls on his memories from his first trip to the United Kingdom in 1983 (among other things, he hiked the Old Man of Coniston, a famous mountain in the Lake District) and his past experience working as a bookseller. It was both amusing and engaging as I realized just how many actual British landmarks he has woven into the plot of this novel. And also uniquely British foods — Branston pickle sandwiches were a revelation, and I don’t think I’ll soon recover from checking out pictures of stargazy pie.

(16) BATWOMAN. Did football overshadow the Batlight? “Javicia Leslie’s ‘Batwoman’ Debut Plummets 80% in Ratings From Ruby Rose’s” reports Yahoo!

Javicia Leslie debuted as the new caped crusader on The CW’s “Batwoman” last night, but her start didn’t shine nearly as bright (a Bat signal) as Ruby Rose’s. Sunday primetime was dominated by Fox’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. New Orleans Saints NFL Divisional Playoffs game, which ended just shy of 10 p.m. on the east coast. Due to the nature of live sports, the below Nielsen numbers for Fox should be considered subject to adjustment. Final numbers are expected later today. The new-look “Batwoman” managed just a 0.1 rating last night in the key demo and 663,000 total viewers. Back on Sunday, Oct. 6, 2019, Rose’s “Batwoman” debuted to a 0.5 rating and 1.8 million viewers — meaning last night’s Season 2 premiere was down 80% in the demo from the series debut. 

(17) VIDEO OF THE DAY. In “Star Trek Beyond Pitch Meeting” on ScreenRant, Ryan George says the producers of the third Star Trek Kelvin movie forgot the super blood and Carol Marcus from the second Star Trek Kelvin movie but thought that Starfleet would place a state of the art starbase right next door to an unexplored area teeming with bad guys.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Daniel Dern, John Hertz, JJ, Mike Kennedy, Cat Eldridge, Doug Ellis, Martin Morse Wooster, Andrew Porter, and Michael Toman for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Danny Sichel.]

Pixel Scroll 1/3/21 Short Pixels Have No Reason To Scroll

(1) DAVID WEBER UPDATES. His fans are keeping each other abreast of the progress of David Weber’s COVID treatment.

  • Ralston Stahler quoted Weber’s update about the first day in the hospital:
David Weber

From David Weber

Well, they just admitted me to the hospital Covid floor. O2 level had fallen to about 83%. Got it back up to 88 or so, but still not good and the fever was spiking again. So our lovely daughter Morgan Rice-Weber drove her dads butt to the ER, where they told me there was a 95% chance they’d keep me. I sent her on home, they hooked me up to an IV, and told me they are going to pretty much blast me with everything they’ve got, including steroids, plasma, and all that other stuff. Got here about 3:30, I think, but it was closing in on 7 before they could find me a bed. SUPER nurses, and everyone is taking really good care of me.

Fever has broken, O2 level is up to 95%, but they don’t like the chest X-rays, so I’m pretty sure they’ll be keeping me for a bit.

I am feeling a LOT better, and the girls are keeping an eye on Sharon Rice-Weber to make sure she’s watching HER O2.

Update: copied from Mr Weber’s post: Therapy proceeding. We’re on top of the fever; the high blood pressure looks like it’s under control; hydration levels look good. Still having trouble keeping the O2 up. They’ve got me on a pressure setting of 6, and I’m still dropping into the upper 80s whenever I move around. Takes a minute or two to get back up to the 90s once I’m back off my feet. Problem seems to be getting the lung function up to speed again. I’m confident we’re moving in the right direction, but it’s gonna take however long it takes.

(2) INSTANT WINNER. Nghi Vo on Twitter:

(3) THE RULE OF THREE. Fansided’s Daniel DeVita reports on an opinionated Patrick Rothfuss livestream: “Kingkiller author Patrick Rothfuss decries ‘the George R.R. Martin effect’”.

Kingkiller Chronicle author Patrick Rothfuss can’t get into The Wheel of Time, praises George R.R. Martin but not his imitators, and HATES The Witcher….

…At one point, someone in the stream notes that fantasy authors seem to be in a competition with each other to have as many characters as possible, which is true. Rothfuss thinks he knows how this trend got started:

“I think of that as the George Martin effect. Where Martin is an author who has a ton of craft under his belt — he’s been writing for ages in many different ways — and he started Game of Thrones, and all of those books had multiple point-of-view characters to achieve a specific effect in this huge world-spanning story he was telling, and he had the craft to pull it off. And then everyone’s like, ‘I wanna do a Game of Thrones, too.’ And I’m like, ‘No, you can’t, it’s too many characters, you’re not that good.’ And you certainly don’t get that many point-of-view characters. Here’s the rule: if you’re starting a novel, you can have three point-of-view characters, and that’s it. And you probably shouldn’t have that many.”

Rothfuss also talks about Terry Goodkind’s The Sword of Truth series (he enjoyed the first two books but eventually dropped it) and touched on the work of Brandon Sanderson, who finished off The Wheel of Time after Robert Jordan died and has several long multi-volume fantasy stories of his own. “I’d read a lot of Brandon Sanderson’s books, for a while I’d read most of them. But now, he’s got so many, he just writes so much, I’m far behind.”

(4) LOOKING AHEAD. Paul Eisenberg interviews members of the Chicago Worldcon 2022 committee: “Landmarks: With an eye toward the future, new year a good time to consider the literature of ideas — especially those of science fiction” in the Chicago Tribune.

…While other gatherings of fans, such as Chicago’s C2E2, are run by businesses and are profit-driven enterprises (albeit still very fun, Levy said), events such as Chicago’s Worldcon, specifically called Chicon 8, are run by volunteers and financed solely by attendees, known as members.

Chicago’s bid, which overwhelmingly won over a bid from Jiddah, Saudi Arabia, was awarded at the virtual 2020 Worldcon, which had been slated to be in Wellington, New Zealand. The 2021 event had previously been awarded to Washington, D.C. There’s no word as of yet if the 2021 event will be an in-person gathering.

The pandemic permeates all things these days, and even events rooted firmly in the imagination are not immune. But being immersed in a style of literature that offers ideas and different perspectives is a plus when it comes to dealing with the mundane and often depressing details of life in the time of the novel coronavirus….

(5) NOW THAT YOU MENTION IT. Just stuff a person reading the Wikipedia could come across on any random day, don’t ya think? 

(6) VASTER THAN TOMES. Listchallenges confronts readers with a checklist of “100 ‘Big Fat Books Worth the Effort’”. Cliff, who sent the link, scored 19 on this one. I scored 20/100.

(7) RING IN THE NEW YEAR. Yahoo! Entertainment ups your trivia IQ with “JRR Tolkien’s ‘Lord of the Rings’: 15 Facts About ‘Fellowship of the Ring’”. Here are two —

…Christopher Lee is the only member of the cast or crew to have met Tolkien. In fact, Lee mentioned in the extended cut commentary for “Fellowship” that Tolkien had given him his blessing to play Gandalf in any potential film adaptation of “LOTR.” But when Lee auditioned for Gandalf, he was asked to play Saruman instead, as it was believed he was too old to play Gandalf. Lee accepted the role, but agreed that Ian McKellen was right for Gandalf.

Viggo Mortensen initially didn’t have much interest in playing Aragorn, but took the role after his Tolkien-loving son, Henry, pleaded for him to accept the role. After learning more about Aragorn, Mortensen viewed the character’s sword as the key element to his character and carried it with him at all times during filming, even when he was not on set….

(8) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

  • January 3, 1993  — Star Trek: Deep Space Nine premiered in syndication. The fourth spin-off of the original series (counting the animated run) was the first developed after the death of Roddenberry, created by Rick Berman and Michael Piller. It starred Avery Brooks, René Auberjonois, Terry Farrell, Cirroc Lofton, Colm Meaney, Armin Shimerman, Alexander Siddig, Nana Visitor and Michael Dorn. It would run for seven seasons and one hundred and seventy-six episodes. It would be nominated for two Hugo Awards but wouldn’t win either. 

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]

  • Born January 3, 1892 J.R.R. Tolkien. I’ll admit that to this day I much prefer The Hobbit to The Lord of The Rings. There’s a joy, a pleasure in that novel that I just don’t get in the trilogy. I’m currently listening to the Andy Serkis narration of The Hobbit which I highly recommend. (Died 1973.) (CE) 
  • Born January 3, 1898 – Doris Buck.  A score of short stories, including “Cacophony in Pink and Ochre” long announced as part of The Last Dangerous Visions so not yet published; as many poems.  Mostly in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction.  Founding member of SFWA (now Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America) and on the first Nebula ballot.  Anthologized by Knight, Silverberg, Biggle.  (Died 1980) [JH]
  • Born January 3, 1930 – Stephen Fabian, age 91.  Radio & radar in the Air Force, then twenty years’ electronics engineering while active as a fanartist, then pro career (self-taught) while continuing fanart.  Here is Progress Report 3 for Noreascon I the 29th Worldcon.  Here is SF Review 29.  Here is SF, a Teacher’s Guide & Resource Book.  Here is the Dec 74 Galaxy.  Here is Refugees from an Imaginary Country, hello Darrell Schweitzer.  Several artbooks e.g. Women & Wonders (using his cover for The Dragon of the Ishtar Gate).  Three hundred forty covers, fourteen hundred twenty interiors.  Dungeons & Dragons artwork 1986-1995.  World Fantasy Award for life achievement.  [JH]
  • Born January 3, 1937 Glen A. Larson. Triple hitter as a producer, writer and director. Involved in Battlestar GalacticaGalactica 1980The Six Million Dollar Man, Manimal (no, really don’t ask), Buck Rogers in the 25th Century, and Knight Rider. He also was responsible for Magnum, P.I. which I love but I’ll be damned if I can figure anyway to claim that’s even genre adjacent thought I think one of you will figure a way. He also did a lot of Battlestar Galactica novels, some with Ron Goulart. (Died 2014.) (CE) 
  • Born January 3, 1940 Kinuko Y. Craft, 81.  She is a Japanese-born American painter, illustrator and fantasy artist. True enough. So why is she here?  Because she had an amazing run of illustrating the covers of the Patricia McKillip novels until quite recently. I’m linking here to our review at Green Man of The Bards of Bone Plain for a favorite cover of mine she did. There’s a slim volume on Imaginosis called Drawings & Paintings which collects some of her work which Green Man reviews here. (CE)
  • Born January 3, 1945 – Mark Owings.  Bibliographer.  Index to the Science-Fantasy Publishers (with Jack Chalker) 1966, rev. 1991 then thirteen supplements.  Blish, Heinlein, Lovecraft, Pohl, Russell, Schmitz, Simak, Williamson.  Our Gracious Host’s appreciation here.  (Died 2009) [JH]
  • Born January 3, 1947 Patricia Anthony. Flanders is one damn scary novel. A ghost story set in WW I, it spooked me for nights after I read it and I don’t spook easily having died over and over. Highly recommended. James Cameron purchased the movie rights to  her Brother Termite novel and John Sayles wrote a script, but the movie has not been produced. (Died 2013.) (CE)
  • Born January 3, 1951 – Rosa Montero, age 70.  Daughter of a bullfighter, active in protests that eliminated killing of the bull, however traditional, in the centuries-old Toro de la Vega at Tordesillas.  Thirty books, two for us in English.  Spring Novel prize, Cavour Prize, two Qué Leer prizes.  [JH]
  • Born January 3, 1974 – Arwen Dayton, age 47.  Six novels for us.  Resurrection an Amazon Kindle Best-Seller.  Stronger, Faster, More Beautiful won Kirkus Best Young Adult SF, Wall Street Journal Best SF.  Has read The Sirens of Titan, Bleak HouseThe Door Into SummerThe Illustrated ManSense and Sensibility.  [JH]
  • Born January 3, 1975 Danica McKellar, 46. From 2010–2013 and since 2018, she’s voiced Miss Martian in the Young Justice series. It’s just completed its fourth season and it’s most excellent! She’s done far, far more voice work than I can list here, so if you’ve got something you like that she’s done, do mention it. (CE)
  • Born January 3, 1976 Charles Yu, 45. Taiwanese American writer. Author of the most excellent How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe and the short-story collections, Sorry Please Thank You and Third Class Superhero. His novel was ranked the year’s second-best science fiction novel by the Center for the Study of Science Fiction at the University of Kansas — runner up for the Campbell Memorial Award. (CE) 
  • Born January 3, 1978 – Dominic Wood, age 43.  Magician (the theatrical-art kind) and author.  Int’l Brotherhood of Magicians’ Shield for Sleight of Hand.  Co-presenter of Brainiac’s Test-Tube Baby.  Three BAFTA (Brit. Acad. Film & Television Arts) awards.  Dom and the Magic Topper is ours; the protagonist although named Dominic is a child, and although a theatrical-art magician has a top hat that really is magic; see here.  [JH]

(10) COMICS SECTION.

  • Today I discovered R.E. Parrish:

(11) CIRQUE DE SOUL. Leonard Maltin reviewed Soul and thought it was a provocative film but one he wished he could like more than he did. “’Soul’ Tackles The Big Questions”.

…I feel like an ingrate as I complain about a mainstream Disney release that doesn’t talk down to its audience, a Trojan horse of philosophizing packaged as shiny entertainment. But as much as I was intrigued by Soul, I didn’t actually enjoy the experience. I watched it with my family and we all had different reactions.

I would be foolish and narrow-minded if I didn’t applaud the effort and artistry that went into this film. How lucky we are that a studio like Pixar exists, unafraid to tackle complex and challenging ideas within the mainstream movie industry. I just wish I liked their new movie better. 

(12) REVERSING HIS POLARITY. In the Washington Post, David Betancourt interviews Pedro Pascal about his twin roles as villain Maxwell Lord in Wonder Woman 1984 and as the lead in The Mandalorian. “For Pedro Pascal, this is the way to play a ‘Wonder Woman’ villain when you’re also the coolest hero in the galaxy”.

…[In WW84] To help match his antenna-transmitted ambition, Pascal was asked to shave off his trademark swashbuckling mustache that has followed him through roles in “Game of Thrones,” “Narcos” and the Star Wars universe in the rare moments he can take off his Mandalorian helmet (which he did for the second time in the series in the episode that aired on Dec. 11). Pascal is adamant the facial hair removal was real and not the digital disaster that was Henry Cavill’s lip service in the widely panned “Justice League.”…

(13) WE HAVE MET THE ENEMY. A New York Times Magazine writer offers “A New Theory About the Monolith: We’re the Aliens”.

…The mystery of who created the monolith may never be solved. If we accept that it was a guerrilla art intervention, it was clearly successful, seizing public attention in ways a commissioned work never could. Weeks after the structure vanished, monolith fever has not abated, with copycats springing up across the U.S. and around the globe, from Romania to Morocco to Paraguay. Their spread so captivated social media that many wondered whether the world was falling for a viral marketing campaign.

But the appeal of the monolith touches deeper depths than the usual dopamine hits of the viral internet. In an age of GPS mapping and Google Earth, we may feel that the planet has been demystified, down to the centimeter — that there is no more unsurveilled terrain. The appearance of a monolith in a hinterland is a satisfying reminder that the world remains very large. It is still possible for an artist, or a prankster, or an artist-prankster, to slip undetected into the backcountry and leave something weird and alluring behind. Online detectives studying Google Earth figure the pillar was installed around 2016, which would mean that it’s possible for a weird, alluring thing to remain hidden for years, a secret shared only with passing bighorn sheep.

(14) WILL MINDS BE CHANGED? Essence of Wonder takes up the question “What Would Convince You a Miracle Is Real?” hosted by Alan Lightman with Rebecca Goldstein and Edward Hall. On Saturday, January 9, at 3:00 PM US Eastern Time. Register here.

In this discussion with philosopher and novelist Rebecca Goldstein, philosopher of science Edward Hall (Harvard), and physicist and novelist Alan Lightman (MIT), we will consider the question of the role of experiment in science and how that feature separates science from the humanities. We will also discuss the strong commitment of scientists to a completely lawful universe.

This latter issue could be framed as a question: What would it take to convince a scientist that some phenomenon was a miracle — that is, could not be explained, even in principle, to lie within the laws of nature?

For most scientists, the answer is NOTHING. Yet surveys repeatedly show that 75% of the American public believes in miracles. Why this marked discrepancy between the beliefs of scientists and nonscientists?

(15) A DUNE GRAPHIC NOVEL. BBC Science Focus Magazine has a substantial excerpt of art pages from the “Brian Herbert Dune graphic novel, An extract from the new retelling”.

The original Dune, penned by science fiction writer Frank Herbert, was published in 1965, and it quickly became one of the best-selling sci-fi novels of all time. Countless writers have cited his series as inspiration, including his son, Brian Herbert.

The story has been adapted for several films over the years, as well as games, comic books and spin-off books.

Ahead of its return to the big screen (again) next year, we’re taking a look into the recently published Dune: The Graphic Novel.

Created by Herbert’s son, Brian, and science fiction writer Kevin J Anderson, Dune: The Graphic Novel depicts the epic adventure that unfolds on the desert planet Arrakis in stunning illustrations.

What follows is an extract from the new book, where we take flight across the desert with the Duke, his son, and planetologist Dr Kynes…

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

Pixel Scroll 12/28/20 This Irrepixel-Able, Trantor ‘Original’, This Mule-Produced Crime

(1) FRONT AND CENTER. Octavia Butler is on the cover of Huntington Frontiers, published by the Huntington Library in Pasadena. Read the cover article here: “A Handful of Earth, A Handful of Sky” by Lynell George.

When I last encountered Octavia E. Butler, it was 2004 and she was slated to deliver the keynote at the Black to the Future Festival in Seattle, Washington. Time has flattened or obscured some of the details of days spent reporting on panels, lectures, and post-event gatherings. I don’t remember the precise order of events of that opening evening, but I do recall some of Butler’s heartfelt words about finding and making community in this brief but special moment when we were assembled together. I sat, scribbling notes in my reporter’s notebook, making shapes of letters in the darkness of the auditorium. Her voice didn’t seem to need amplification—it was warm and deep and burnished with authority, as if she was not just leading things off, but leading a country….

(2) NOT OUT OF LEFT FIELD. First Fandom Experience solves three eofannish mysteries in “V is for Vincent, Vernon, Vytautas”. Learn more about a famous photo taken over the weekend of the First Worldcon in —

V is for Vincent

Below is one of early fandom’s most iconic images. On Independence Day, 1939, this carload of irascible youth from states far and wide ventured forth from the World Science Fiction Convention in New York to Coney Island. It’s a who’s-who of prominent First Fans: Madle and Agnew from Philadelphia, Korshak and Reinsberg from Chicago, Rocklynne from Ohio, and one very tanned Ray Bradbury from Los Angeles.

But among the who’s-who, there’s a “who’s that?” V. Kidwell. …

During the first Worldcon, fans took the opportunity to visit Coney Island where this foto-op took place: Front: Mark Reinsberg, Jack Agnew, Ross Rocklynne Top: V. Kidwell, Robert A. Madle, Erle Korshak, Ray Bradbury Coney Island, July 4, 1939)

(3) JAPANESE BOFFO BOX OFFICE. [Item by N.] “’Demon Slayer’ Overtakes ‘Spirited Away’ to Become Japan’s Biggest Box-Office Hit Ever”The Hollywood Reporter has the story. (Also it’s the fifth highest grossing film of the entire year, surpassing Sonic the Hedgehog, which is a coherent sentence I have just typed.)

Demon Slayer is based on a popular 2016 manga by Japanese artist Koyoharu Gotoge. But the property didn’t become a pop cultural phenomenon until it was adapted into an anime series for television. Produced by Tokyo-based studio Ufotable, the 26-episode series aired on Tokyo MX and other channels in 2019, but later became a sleeper smash hit when it re-aired on Netflix and Fuji TV. The popularity of the series reignited interest in the manga, making it a runaway bestseller. As of December, the Demon Slayer manga series has sold nearly 120 million copies.

When Ufotable’s big-screen adaptation of the series hit Japanese cinemas this fall, conditions were ripe for a box-office bonanza. Japanese cinemas nationwide had fully reopened nationwide after a brief period of COVID-19 shutdown in the spring. Since the Hollywood studios had postponed most of their releases until 2021, Demon Slayer had limited foreign competition and Japanese cinemas were highly motivated to wring as much earnings potential as possible for the local blockbuster. 

(4) WILL POWER. “Brain-controlled gaming exists, though ethical questions loom over the tech” reports the Washington Post.

As the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center shut its laboratories following the covid-19 outbreak, Nathan Copeland, a 33-year-old volunteer, collected the equipment that would grant him transformative abilities during lockdown. Paralyzed from the chest down with only limited arm movement, Copeland took home an advanced brain-computer interface, a device that allows him to control on-screen actions using only his mind.Copeland is part of cutting-edge research into brain-computer interfaces at the University of Pittsburgh, recently awarded over $8 million by the National Institutes of Health. The team’s experiments are a peek into a potential transhumanist future more commonly associated with cyberpunk movies “The Matrix” and “Ghost in the Shell.” Since 2015, Copeland has lived with a transistor-like chip, known as a multi-electrode array, surgically implanted directly into his brain. Copeland’s chip records the rapid-firing of cellular neurons — an almost inscrutably complex neurological signal — which is ferried over to a computer for what’s referred to as “decoding.” This signal is subsequently “translated” into the desired, seemingly telekinetic actions of its user.

To date, one of the team’s biggest successes has been decoding the complicated neural signals to allow Copeland to control a nimble robotic arm…. 

(5) JEDI CONSERVATION MOVEMENT. Musings on Mouse analyzes “Star Wars ‘nostalgia fatigue,’ and Marvel’s bankruptcy lesson”. BEWARE SPOILERS. I don’t think I included any below, however, definitely some in the linked article.

…Quality, some may argue, isn’t just representative of one episode or one movie, but the franchise as a whole. Case in point: The Mandalorian finale….

That, many critics argued in the days after the episode aired, is precisely the problem. As Matt Zoller Seitz wrote on Vulture, “the series succumbs to the dark side of parent company Disney’s quarterly earnings statements, which keeps dragging Star Wars back toward nostalgia-sploitation and knee-jerk intellectual-property maintenance.” Other fans rolled their eyes at the criticism, pointing out that Star Wars has always returned to the franchise’s most popular characters, most noticeably in the Expanded Universe’s novels, comics, and video games. 

Sound familiar? It should — it’s the exact same debate that popped up in 2017 after Rian Johnson’s The Last Jedi hit theaters. What is Star Wars? It’s an argument we’ve come back to with The Mandalorian’s second season finale. I’m not a critic, and this newsletter doesn’t exist to critique art. What I’m more acutely interested in is determining Star Wars’ future business. Let’s be clear: Star Wars is more than fine, but as Star Wars expands under Disney, there’s always room to figure out how to ensure it grows at a healthy rate instead of risking alienating parts of its consumer base every year.

(6) PUTTING THEIR STAMP ON THINGS. JSTOR Daily’s Livia Gershon points to the introduction of a new academic work that overviews “James Tiptree Jr. and Joanna Russ: Sci-Fi Pen Pals”.

At first glance, the classic science-fiction authors James Tiptree Jr. and Joanna Russ might not seem to have much in common. Behavioral psychologist Alice Bradley Sheldon began writing under “James Tiptree Jr.” in 1968, when she was in her fifties. She used the fictional male name and real knowledge of science and the military to infiltrate male-dominated science-fiction magazines. Russ, two decades younger, was an outspoken radical feminist, English professor, and critic. And yet, as Nicole Nyhan writes, the two writers exchanged hundreds of letters over fifteen years. Nyhan provides the introduction to a selection of writing from Tiptree’s side of the correspondence.

(7) MEDIA ANNIVERSARY.

  • 1970 — Fifty years ago at Heicon ’70 in Heidelberg, Germany, “Ship of Shadows” by Fritz Leiber wins the Hugo for Best Novella. (It would also be nominated for a Nebula.) It was published in F&SF in July, 1969 which as you can see was billed as a Special Fritz Leiber Issue. This was a bizarre story of Spar, a blind, half-deaf barman at the Bat Rack. We’ll say no more. The other finalists were “A Boy and His Dog” by Harlan Ellison, “We All Die Naked” by James Blish, “Dramatic Mission” by Anne McCaffrey and “To Jorslem” by Robert Silverberg.

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]

  • Born December 28, 1913 Charles Maxwell. He makes the Birthday List for being Virgil Earp in the “Spectre of the Gun”, a not terribly good Trek story.  He also appeared in My Favorite Martian in “An Old Friend of the Family” as the character Jakobar. His longest running genre role was as the Radio Announcer on Gilligan’s Island for which he was largely uncredited. Interestingly he had six appearances playing six different characters on the Fifties series Science Fiction Theatre. (Died 1993.) (CE) 
  • Born December 28, 1922 Stan Lee. Summarizing his career is quite beyond my abilities. He created and popularized Marvel Comics in such a way that the company is thought to be the creation of Stan Lee in way that DC isn’t thought if of having of having a single creator.  He co-created the Fantastic Four, Spider-Man, the X-Men, Iron Man, Thor, the Hulk,  Daredevil, Doctor Strange, Black Panther, Scarlet Witch and Ant-Man, an impressive list by any measure. And it’s hardly the full list.  I see he’s won Eisner and Kirby Awards but no sign of a Hugo. Is that correct? (Died 2018.) (CE) 
  • Born December 28, 1929 – Janet Lunn.  Three novels, two shorter stories, one anthology for us; much else.  Metcalf Award, Matt Cohen Award, Order of Ontario, Governor General’s Award, Order of Canada.  Quill & Quire obituary here.  (Died 2017) [JH]
  • Born December 28, 1932 Nichelle Nichols, 88. Uhura on Trek. She reprised her character in Star Trek: The Motion PictureStar Trek II: The Wrath of KhanStar Trek III: The Search for SpockStar Trek IV: The Voyage HomeStar Trek V: The Final Frontier and Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country. Other film SF roles included Ruana in Tarzan’s Deadly Silence with Ron Ely as Tarzan, High Priestess of Pangea in The Adventures of Captain Zoom in Outer Space, Oman in Surge of Power: The Stuff of Heroes and Mystic Woman in American Nightmares.  Other series appearances have been as Lieutenant Uhura and additional voices in the animated Trek, archive footage of herself in the “Trials and Tribble-ations” DS9 episode and as Captain Nyota Uhura In Star Trek: Of Gods and Men which may or may not be canon. (CE)
  • Born December 28, 1934 Maggie Smith, 86. First genre role was as Theis in Clash of the Titans though she’s better known as Minerva McGonagall In the Harry Potter film franchise. She also played Linnet Oldknow in From Time to Time  and voiced Miss Shepherd, I kid you not, in two animated Gnomes films. (CE) 
  • Born December 28, 1942 Eleanor Arnason, 78. She won the Otherwise Award and the Mythopoeic Award for A Woman of the Iron People and also won the Gaylactic Spectrum Award for Best Short Fiction for “Dapple”.  She’s a Wiscon Guest of Honor. I wholeheartedly recommend her Mammoths of the Great Plains story collection, which like almost all of her fiction, is available at the usual digital suspects. 
  • Born December 28, 1945 – George Zebrowski, age 75.  A score of novels (Macrolife particularly applauded), a hundred shorter stories, several with co-authors.  Clarion alumnus.  Edited Nebula Awards 20-22; four Synergy anthologies, half a dozen more e.g. Sentinels with Greg Benford in honor of Sir Arthur Clarke.  Three years editing the SFWA Bulletin (Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America) with Pamela Sargent and Ian Watson.  Nonfiction anthologies Beneath the Red Star (studies on international SF), Skylife (with Benford; space habitats), Talks with the Masters (Asimov, Bradbury, Clarke, Gunn).  Book reviews in The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction.  Campbell Memorial Award.  “Never Forget the Writers Who Helped Build Yesterday’s Tomorrows” in SF Age.  [JH]
  • Born December 28, 1946 – Sheryl Birkhead, age 74.  Long-time fanartist and (it serves us right) veterinarian.  Here is a cover for Tightbeam.  Here is one for It Goes on the Shelf.  Here is one for Purrsonal Mewsings.  Here is one for The Reluctant Famulus.  Kaymar Award.  [JH]
  • Born December 28, 1952 – Ramona Wheeler, age 68.  Two novels, a score of shorter stories.  Essay “The Sailor of No Specific Ocean” in the Hal Clement memorial anthology Hal’s Worlds.  Here is her cover for her collection Have Starship, Will Travel.  Here is her cover for her collection Starship for Hire.  [JH]
  • Born December 28, 1963 – Robert Pasternak, age 57.  A dozen covers, two dozen interiors for us.  Interviewed in On Spec.  Aurora Award.  Here is Leslie Fiedler’s biography of Stapledon. Here is the May 93 Amazing.  Here is the Dec 00 Challenging Destiny.  Here is the Summer 13 On Spec.  Here is a review of a Jun – Jul 07 exhibition.  Here is an image from a Winnipeg Free Press interview.  Here is an ink-drawn face; see here.  [JH]
  • Born December 28, 1979 – D. Renée Bagby, age 41.  Eight novels for us, five dozen others (some under another name).  Air Force brat, now wife; born in the Netherlands, has also lived in Japan, six of the United States.  Has read The Cat in the HatPersuasionThe Iliad and The OdysseyThe Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.  “The voices start talking and I type what they say.” [JH]
  • Born December 28, 1981 Sienna Miller, 39. The Baroness in G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra. More interestingly, she’s Victoria in the flawed but still worth seeing Stardust. (Go listen to Gaiman reading it for the best take on it — brilliant that is!) And she’s Darcy in Kis VukA Fox’s Tale, a Hungarian-British animated tale that sounds quite charming.  (CE) 

(9) COMICS SECTION.

(10) A DISH BEST SERVED LOLD. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In the Washington Post, Zachary Pincus-Roth discusses how a bunch of Millennial Disney musical fans came up with “Ratatouille: The Musical,” created songs, cosplayed characters from the imaginary musical (including enlisting their parents to play older characters) and even creating a fake cover of Playbill for the imaginary musical.  Disney Theatrical Productions stated “although we do not have development plans for this title, we love when our fans engage with Disney stories.” — “How TikTok and social media are changing Broadway fandom”.

(11) OBI BUT NO OBI-WAN. This happened last year, but it’s news to me… “Japanese theatre to stage kabuki version of Star Wars” in The Guardian.

The Star Wars franchise is about to breach the artistic final frontier with a one-off performance of a kabuki adaptation starring one of Japan’s most revered stage actors.

The classical Japanese theatre, which combines highly stylised movement and unusual vocalisation, will swap samurai swords for lightsabers and replace feudal warriors with the forces of light and darkness.

Star Wars Kabuki-Rennosuke and the Three Light Sabers, which are being staged in Tokyo, will combine plots from each of the franchise’s latest trilogy, substituting plots drawn from the days of feudal clan rivalry with drama from a galaxy far, far away.

Ichikawa Ebizo XI, Japan’s pre-eminent kabuki actor, will take to the stage as Kylo Ren, the conflicted son of Han Solo and Princess Leia, in front of 50 winners of an online lottery….

(12) UNFINISHED TOLKIEN. John M. Bowers asks “Did Tolkien Write The Lord of the Rings Because He Was Avoiding His Academic Work?” at Literary Hub. The trouble with this headline is that it’s not as if Tolkien didn’t procrastinate about working on his fiction, too.

…Already by 1932 he admitted to Chapman the weight of the Chaucerian incubus upon his conscience. His Gawain edition, “Chaucer as a Philologist,” and “The Monsters and the Critics” had all appeared before the Second World War. Set against this relatively slender résumé were undelivered assignments such as his Pearl edition, the book-length “Beowulf” and the Critics, and his EETS edition of Ancrene Wisse. If his own harsh remarks about George Gordon holding up their Chaucer edition did not quite qualify him as a “slanderer,” these complaints did de?ect blame from his role as an “idler” who failed to reduce his annotations to a publishable length. He would confess during a newspaper interview in 1968, “I have always been incapable of doing the job at hand.”

(13) AROUND AND AROUND. “Animation reveals invisible center of solar system that’s not the sun”Business Insider knows where it is. In a minute, you will too.

It’s common knowledge that the sun is the center of the solar system. Around it, the planets orbit — along with a thick belt of asteroids, some meteor fields, and a handful of far-traveling comets.

But that’s not the whole story.

“Instead, everything orbits the solar system center of mass,” James O’Donoghue, a planetary scientist at the Japanese space agency, JAXA, recently explained on Twitter. “Even the sun.”

That center of mass, called the barycenter, is the point of an object at which it can be balanced perfectly, with all its mass distributed evenly on all sides. In our solar system, that point rarely lines up with the center of the sun…

(14) THOUGHT OF THE DAY. From Mike Kennedy: “I just realized that the various dings, buzzes, and clicks our phones/watches play to get our attention are clearly intended to train us to understand R2-D2.”

(15) EMERGENCY HOLOGRAPHIC IP LAWYERS. CinemaBlend will explain “Why James Bond’s Studio Once Sent A ‘Very Stern Letter’ To Star Trek: Deep Space Nine’s Crew”.

Star Trek is a franchise that primarily deals in the world of sci-fi, but it’s not unheard of for the franchise to attempt parody other genres every so often. Such was the case in the Deep Space Nine episode “Our Man Bashir,” in which an accident in the Holosuite traps the crew in Bashir’s spy fantasy program. The episode is a fun nod to the genre of ’60s spy films but apparently was not well-received by James Bond studio MGM.

(16) VIDEO OF THE DAY. Mind Matters sets the frame for a DUST short in “Sci-Fi Saturday Film: The Robot Tries To Learn About Grief”.

An elderly woman, Sheila, whose daughter has been in a high-conflict zone in a military environment, learns to manage with a robot—ordered apparently off the internet, with a manual—that can learn to do homework and hang Christmas decorations.

It’s an agreeable story and good Christmas fare!

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

Pixel Scroll 12/8/20 Who’s Going To Sing If You Don’t Have Emperors?

(1) PRESCIENT PANDEMIC PROSE PRAISED. [Item by Olav Rokne.] In a thoughtful and in-depth piece about plague-related fiction, Joelle Renstrom (@couldthishappen) of Slate Magazine explores how Connie Willis’ 1992 Hugo Winner Doomsday Book seems particularly relevant in 2020. “Doomsday Book, the 1992 time-travel novel that sheds light on today’s pandemic”.

Doomsday Book—whose name is a nod to the Domesday Book, a 1086 survey commissioned by William the Conqueror—features two protagonists who try to stop the spread of deadly contagions 700 years apart. In the 2054 timeline of Doomsday Book, there are no cellphones, but thanks to a complex machine called the “net,” time travel exists. The net prevents time travelers from altering history, so its main use is for historians conducting research. In Oxford, England, history professor Dunworthy sends an undergraduate researcher back in time to what he thinks is 1320. Afterward, the time travel device technician who helped send the student back in time falls seriously ill with an unknown virus. The very night he is hospitalized, public health workers begin tracking down his primary and secondary contacts and researchers begin sequencing the virus. In this future, there are governmental and scientific systems in place to respond rapidly to a new contagion. Indeed, that’s the easier part. Willis underscores a poignant truth, particularly for contemporary readers:  A pandemic’s true toll is determined not by doctors and politicians, but by everyone else.

(2) IMAGINING LIFE ON OTHER WORLDS. Alien Worlds Season 1 is streaming on Netflix.

Applying the laws of life on Earth to the rest of the galaxy, this series blends science fact and fiction to imagine alien life on other planets.

(3) VOTER FAVORITE. Congratulations to Mikki Kendall whose Hood Feminism placed second in the Best Nonfiction category of the 2020 Goodreads Choice Awards.

(4) FANS SKEPTICAL ABOUT FUNDRAISING FOR TOLKIEN HOUSE. The UK’s Tolkien Society says they don’t support the Project Northmoor charity which is raising money to buy J.R.R. Tolkien’s Oxford house. The Society’s “Statement on Project Northmoor” lists concerns —

…As a leading Tolkien organisation, the Trustees considered whether Project Northmoor would help achieve the Society’s objective to educate the public in, and promote research into, the life and works of J.R.R. Tolkien. The Trustees unanimously concluded that it did not.

The Trustees’ specific concerns include that:

  • Project Northmoor’s two-page plan lacked sufficient detail;
  • No prominent members of the Tolkien community – be they writers, academics, artists etc – are directors of the company, or are named as running the project;
  • This would not be a museum and would not be open to the public;
  • Project Northmoor’s primary intention appears to be to run creative workshops, rather than educational programmes about Tolkien;
  • Project Northmoor’s plan includes spiritual retreats, which falls outside the scope of the Society’s objective;
  • Their business model includes running a bed and breakfast, with a full-time resident warden;
  • The property itself is a listed building in a conservation area – with a blue plaque proudly showing its connection to Tolkien – meaning the property is well protected under the law and not in need of rescue;
  • The relationship between the US and UK organisations appeared unclear; and
  • As a new organisation – Project Northmoor having only existed for a month – it is difficult to assess their ability, capability, and capacity to deliver the project successfully.

The Trustees wanted to provide this transparency of their conversation for the benefit of the Tolkien community. The Trustees – as is their legal duty under the law in England and Wales – were considering the best interests of the charity and whether it achieved the charity’s objective. For the above reasons they felt it did not.

(5) 55 YEARS AGO THIS WEEK. Mx. Kris Vyas-Myall helps Galactic Journey readers navigate the New Wave: [DECEMBER 4, 1965] A SIGN OF THE TIMES (MICHAEL MOORCOCK’S BOOKS OF 1965).

Across Britain, there has been a recent explosion of road signage. These are designed to establish safer traffic rules and to give people direction on how to use the area who would otherwise be unfamiliar. The one flaw with this is most people are confused as to what they mean….

Pedestrians do not fare much better. Only a small fraction knew that a white bar on a red circle means no entry, with many believing it meant something different, such as a pedestrian crossing.

This responses to the signage is similar to the relationship between science fiction readers and the new wave. For some they are stories full of meaningless symbols that go nowhere, for others it is an essential step in moving science fiction forward. And right at the centre of the new wave is Michael Moorcock.

In spite of being only 25 years old, Moorcock is one of the core figures in British science fiction. He previously edited both Tarzan Adventures and The Sexton Blake Library before taking over New Worlds magazine last year. For the last 5 years he has been a regular contributor to Carnell’s trio of magazines and has published books before such as The Stealer of Souls.

(6) ESSENCE OF WONDER. “For the Love of litRPG” is the theme of this week’s Essence of Wonder With Gadi Evron. Scheduled for Saturday, December 12 at 3 p.m. Eastern. Register at the link.

For an episode celebrating litRPG, a hugely successful genre ruled by indie authors, joining Gadi and Karen will be Shemer Kuznits, Avi Freedman, John Dodd, Avril Sabine, and Storm Petersen.

From what makes litRPG tick and our favorite authors, to the weird tropes hidden within, we fully intend to geek out.

(7) #DISNEYMUSTPAY. YouTuber Daniel Greene interviewed Alan Dean Foster and Mary Robinette Kowal about the #DisneyMustPay issue. Some interesting updates, including SFWA President Kowal confirming that Alan Dean Foster is not the only author affected. 

(8) YEAGER OBIT. Aviator Chuck Yeager (1923-2020) died December 7. The LA Times profiled the first man to break the sound barrier.

Chuck Yeager

After test pilot Chuck Yeager became the first man to break the sound barrier, he confessed to the highly un-Yeager-like emotion of fear.

“I was scared,” he wrote in a memoir, “knowing that many of my colleagues thought I was doomed to be blasted to pieces by an invisible brick wall in the sky. But I noticed that the faster I got, the smoother the ride. Suddenly, the Mach needle began to fluctuate, then tipped right off the scale.”

For 18 seconds on Oct. 14, 1947, Yeager was supersonic — a feeling he later likened to “a poke through Jell-O.” The achievement made Yeager an aeronautic legend — “the foremost in the Olympus,” according to author Tom Wolfe, “the most righteous of all the possessors of the right stuff.”…

NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine issued a statement that concludes: “His path blazed a trail for anyone who wanted to push the limits of human potential, and his achievements will guide us for generations to come.”

(9) WALTER HOOPER OBIT. Walter Hooper (1931-2020). a literary advisor of the estate of C.S. Lewis, died December 7 of COVID-19. He served briefly in 1963 as C.S. Lewis’s private secretary prior to Lewis’s death, and became a custodian of Lewis papers and editor of his works. Joseph Loconte profiled him for National Review: “Remembering Walter Hooper: C.S. Lewis Expert Brought Author’s Work to World”.

…Hooper never tired of drawing attention to Lewis’s talent for making Christian thought persuasive to the layman. In his encyclopedic book C.S. Lewis: Companion and Guide, Hooper relates how Lewis gained national attention for his BBC broadcasts defending Christianity during World War II, receiving many speaking invitations. He engaged with fellow dons, members of the Royal Air Force, factory workers, and university students. “It was partly due to this varied experience,” Hooper writes, “that he came to see why the professional theologians could not make Christianity understandable to most people.” In the Protestant tradition to which he belonged (the Anglican Church), Lewis combined reason and imagination to translate the gospel into terms everyone could grasp.

“At times it embarrassed me, when Lewis was talking about God, that I hardly believed in the same way that he did,” Hooper told me. In this case, admiration generated a lifelong calling: What Christopher Tolkien achieved in excavating the work of his famous father, Walter Hooper accomplished for C.S. Lewis. At a recent conference in Slovakia, Hooper was asked to explain why he invested so much of his life quietly serving someone else’s legacy. He did not hesitate in answering: “I said, ‘It’s been wonderful. I wish to God I could do it all again.’”

(10) MEDIA ANNIVERSARY.

  • In 1982, Shadows of Sanctuary, the third Thieves’ World as edited by Robert Lynn Asprin, and published by Ace Books, wins the Balrog Award. It was not the first nominated as both Thieves’ World, the first anthology, and Tales from the Vulgar Unicorn, the second anthology, were also nominated. The Balrogs which were given out from 1979 to 1985  were created by editor Jonathan Bacon in Issue #15 of Fantasy Crossroads and first presented at the Fool-Con II convention on April Fool’s Day, 1979.

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]

  • Born December 8, 1861 Georges Méliès. Best known as a film director for A Trip to the Moon (Le Voyage dans la Lune) which he said was influenced by sources including Verne’s From the Earth to the Moon and Around the Moon. (Died 1938.) (CE) 
  • Born December 8, 1894 – James Thurber.  The 13 ClocksThe Wonderful OThe White Deer are fantasy, supposedly but not necessarily for children.  The Last Flower seems to be science fiction.  What are we to make of his seventy-five “Fables for Our Time” – are they fantasy?  “The Rabbits Who Caused All the Trouble”?  “The Owl Who Was God”?  In “The Unicorn in the Garden” there really is a unicorn but denying it is wiser.  “If Grant Had Been Drinking at Appomattox” is a spoof of alternative history.  What of his cartoons?   In any event, his particular subtle, almost sour humor excels. (Died 1961) [JH]
  • Born December 8, 1894 E. C Segar. Best known as the creator of Popeye who first appeared in 1929 in Segar’s comic strip Thimble Theatre. Popeye’s first line in the strip, upon being asked if he was a sailor, was “Ja think I’m a cowboy?” J. Wellington Wimpy was another character in this strip that I’m fond of. (Died 1938.)  (CE) 
  • Born December 8, 1917 – James Taurasi.  A founder of fandom.  Attended the 1938 Philadelphia Conference.  One of the “triumvirate” (with Moskowitz and Sykora) who produced Nycon I the first Worldcon.  Ran “Fandom’s Corner” in Super Science Stories.  His Fantasy Times, later Science Fiction Times, won the 1955 & 1957 Best-Fanzine Hugo.  Big Heart (our highest service award). (Died 1991) [JH]
  • Born December 8, 1930 – John Morressy.  A score of novels, eighty shorter stories, some dark, some light-hearted.  In fantasy, Kedrigern is a reluctant wizard first shown as an adult, then prequels of his youth.  In science fiction, Nail Down the Stars and two more paint the same interstellar intrigue from three viewpoints while none sees the whole.  Professor of English at Franklin Pierce College.  (Died 2006) [JH]
  • Born December 8, 1939 Jennie Linden, 81. She’s here for being Barbara in Dr. Who and the Daleks, the 1965 non-canon film. Her next genre forays were both horror comedies, she was in A Severed Head as Georgie Hands, and she’d later be in Vampira as Angela. She’d show up in Sherlock Holmes and The Saint as well. (CE)
  • Born December 8, 1950 Rick Baker, 70. Baker won the Academy Award for Best Makeup a record seven times from a record eleven nominations, beginning when he won the first award given for An American Werewolf in London.  So what else is he known for? Oh, I’m not listing everything but his first was The Thing with Two Heads and I’ll single out The ExorcistStar WarsThe Howling which I quite love, Starman for the Starman transformation, Beast design on the Beauty and the Beast series and the first Hellboy film version. (CE)
  • Born December 8, 1951 Brian Attebery, 69. If I was putting together a library of reference works right now, Attebery would be high on the list of authors at the center of my shopping list. I think The Fantasy Tradition in American Literature: From Irving to Le Guin is still essential reading and Parabolas of Science Fiction with Veronica Hollinger is very close to a Grand Unification Theory of the Genre. (CE) 
  • Born December 8, 1954 Rebecca Neason. She wrote a Next Generation novel, Guises of The Mind,  plus several Highlander novels, and two fantasy novels; her widower says one novel went unpublished. She was a regular panelist at conventions in the Pacific Northwest. Jim Fiscus has a remembrance here. (Died 2010.) (CE) 
  • Born December 8, 1964 – Genevieve Graham, age 56.  First studied to be an oboe player; began writing after age 40.  Now devoted to Canadian historical fiction.  Two novels for us, four others.  Has read Charlotte’s WebHuckleberry FinnNineteen Eighty-Four.  [JH]
  • Born December 8, 1966 – Anthony Lewis, age 54.  Illustrator.  Three hundred children’s books; also advertising, design & editorial.  Here are the cover and two interiors for The Owl Tree.  Here are the cover and two interiors for Why Do Stars Come Out at Night?  Here is an interior for Why I Can’t See the Wind.  Here is his image for Follow the Reader posters, bags, bookmarks.  [JH]
  • Born December 8, 1982 – Elizabeth Miles, age 38.  Three novels, six covers.  Here is one, Moon Window.  [JH]

(12) COMICS SECTION.

(13) MONOLITHS PROLIFERATING. Birds do it. Bees do it. Even men with stainless steel do it: “California Men Declare Themselves Makers of Pine Mountain Monolith” says the New York Times. And there are two other new ones.

For the first time, someone has taken credit for erecting one of the monoliths that have popped up in the last few weeks, riveting the world.

A group of four artists and fabricators unveiled themselves on Saturday as the creators of the stainless-steel curiosity that was placed atop Pine Mountain in Atascadero, Calif., on Tuesday — and shared a YouTube video of a newly made replacement going up after some young men unceremoniously toppled the original and put a cross in its spot, livestreaming themselves in the process.

“We intended for it to be a piece of guerrilla art. But when it was taken down in such a malicious manner, we decided we needed to replace it,” Wade McKenzie, one of the California monolith’s creators, said in an interview Sunday evening.

The news of the origins of the monolith was first reported by the website YourTango.

McKenzie said he built the three-sided steel structure with the help of his friend Travis Kenney, Kenney’s father, Randall, and Jared Riddle, a cousin of Travis Kenney.

Early Friday morning, another shiny steel tower was discovered in downtown Las Vegas under the Fremont Street Experience, a five-block entertainment district in the city’s casino corridor.

And yet another was found Saturday morning in Los Padres National Forest by campers at a site about 100 miles southeast of the one in Atascadero, The San Luis Obispo Tribune reported. According to the Tribune, the Los Padres monolith has “Caution” written in red letters at the top and features an image of a U.F.O. The creators of the Atascadero monolith told the news outlet on Sunday that they had not placed the monolith there.

(14) THE ROCKETS OF ‘65. In Episode 42 of the Two Chairs Talking podcast, Perry Middlemiss and David Grigg discuss the fine art of tsundoku and then fire up the Hugo Time Machine yet again to return to the year of 1965, when Fritz Leiber’s “The Wanderer” won Best Novel Hugo. “Life, the Universe, and Everything”.

(15) FROM THE ARCHIVES. See a unique 1997 television production of Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Cinderella on YouTube.

Cinderella (Brandy) chafes under the cruelty of her wicked stepmother (Bernadette Peters) and her evil stepsisters, Calliope (Veanne Cox) and Minerva (Natalie Desselle), until her Fairy Godmother (Whitney Houston) steps in to change her life for one unforgettable night. At the ball, she falls for handsome Prince Christopher (Paolo Montalban), whose parents, King Maximillian (Victor Garber) and Queen Constantina (Whoopi Goldberg), are anxious for him to find a suitable paramour.

(16) WRITING WITH AI. “What’s it like to write a book with an A.I.?” at Slate is an interview with K Allado McDowell.

What is it like to write with GPT-3, the latest language model neural network artificial intelligence system created by Open AI? Clarke Center Assistant Director Patrick Coleman interviewed K Allado McDowell, writer, researcher, and co-author of Pharmako-AI, the first book co-written with GPT-3, for Slate’s Future Tense series. For anyone interested in the nature of artificial intelligence as a model for human intelligence (and imagination) or the use of AI to create art and provoke new lines of thinking, Allado-McDowell’s provocative insights point to new approaches.

(17) SPEAKING OF ROBOTS. Calling Ursula K. Le Guin!

(18) VIDEO OF THE DAY. Epic Rap Battles of History has updated. This time, it’s “Harry Potter vs Luke Skywalker”, done entirely in Lego.

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

Pixel Scroll 12/6/20 Tell Me About The Rest Of The Robots, Geordi

(1) MACHINE AGAINST THE RAGE. Get your Murderbot fix from Twitter’s MurderBotBot.

(2) KEEP THE ARMOR ON THE SHELF. The Society for Creative Anachronism has extended its suspension to the end of May 2021: “Resolution to Suspend In-Person SCA Activity Updated – December 4, 2020.

At the end of July, the Board of Directors issued a proclamation suspending most inperson SCA activities in North America until January 31, 2021, due to the COVID-19 global pandemic. In November, we asked the Kingdom Seneschals and Crowns of the known world to give us their counsel on how to proceed in the first part of 2021. We received very thoughtful responses from nearly all Crowns and Kingdom Seneschals as well as many other concerned people. We wish to thank everyone who responded for taking the time to do so, and for putting such effort into your responses. After reading and discussing the feedback received, the Board decided at their conference call meeting on 12/01/2020 to continue the suspension of in-person activities in North America through May 31, 2021….

(3) FILER ASKS YOU OPINION. Cora Buhlert says, “I’m considering starting a Patreon next year and have created a survey to gauge interest.”

Tell Cora what you think here — surveymonkey.de/r/WSDN6DK 

(4) THE ORIGINAL SURVEILLANCE SOCIETY. “How to subvert authoritarian regimes? Astrid Bear’s Hall of Fame acceptance speech for Poul Anderson’s ‘Sam Hall’” on the Prometheus Blog.

…Science fiction set in the future is often as much about the time it was written in as it is about prognostications.   Diving into both world and family history, we can tease out some of the threads that came together to make this story of the subversion of an authoritarian regime from within its record-keeping arm, and how that inspired revolution.

In 1953, we were less than 10 years from the end of World War II.  Senator Joe McCarthy was busy investigating citizens for wrongful thoughts and potential treason.   The early main-frame computer, UNIVAC, correctly predicted the winner of the 1952 presidential election. Dad’s brother, my Uncle John, was turned down for the US Foreign Service because of his Danish Communist aunt. And Dad wrote “Sam Hall.”

Computer-savvy folk of today will likely snicker a bit at the electromechanical whirs and buzzes of the government’s Central Records computer, nicknamed Matilda the Machine. Matilda holds detailed information on all citizens, tracking all transactions, travel, education, contacts, relationships.   The “Matildas” of today know a tremendous amount about us and our shopping habits, travel plans, and private emails.

For although Dad did a good job of thinking about the power of computers held by the government as data gathering machines, in 1953 he didn’t seem to have thought much about computers as gatherers of data for private enterprise.

The America of “Sam Hall” has closed its borders to immigration, gives its citizens loyalty ratings, assigns them each a unique ID number and demands that it is tattooed on the shoulder.  There is an underground movement, but, as our protagonist, Thornberg muses,   “It was supported by foreign countries who didn’t like an American-dominated world – at least not one dominated by today’s kind of America, though once ‘USA’ had meant ‘hope.’”…

(5) HAVE YE SEEN THE GREAT FLIGHT WHALE? Sam J. Miller’s new novel The Blade Between gets praised in a review by Gabino Iglesias at NPR.

The are violent ghosts, flying whales, and dead people with mouthfuls of saltwater hundreds of miles from the ocean in Sam J. Miller’s The Blade Between, but it all makes sense. It all makes sense because the story takes place in Hudson, New York, a place built on the remains of slaughtered whales, where their unused parts were buried underground and the scraps were fed to animals later used to feed people. Hudson is full of angry spirits, but now a different monster is destroying it: gentrification.

The Blade Between is a book about broken people. The creepy atmosphere and ghosts make it horror, but the drug abuse, evictions, cheating, and destroyed lives make it noir. Also, Miller’s writing and vivid imagery, especially when describing dreams, make it poetry. The mix of genres, much like the mix of elements, makes no sense, but it works.

(6) ONCE UPON AN ACADEME. Maria Sachiko Cecire asserts that Tolkien and Lewis not only wrote influential fantasy novels, they created the curriculum for Oxford’s English School, in “The rise and fall of the Oxford School of fantasy literature” at Aeon Essays. She doesn’t find this to be a plus.

… What is less known is that Tolkien and Lewis also designed and established the curriculum for Oxford’s developing English School, and through it educated a second generation of important children’s fantasy authors in their own intellectual image. Put in place in 1931, this curriculum focused on the medieval period to the near-exclusion of other eras; it guided students’ reading and examinations until 1970, and some aspects of it remain today. Though there has been relatively little attention paid to the connection until now, these activities – fantasy-writing, often for children, and curricular design in England’s oldest and most prestigious university – were intimately related. Tolkien and Lewis’s fiction regularly alludes to works in the syllabus that they created, and their Oxford-educated successors likewise draw upon these medieval sources when they set out to write their own children’s fantasy in later decades. In this way, Tolkien and Lewis were able to make a two-pronged attack, both within and outside the academy, on the disenchantment, relativism, ambiguity and progressivism that they saw and detested in 20th-century modernity.

…The Oxford School’s medievalist approach radiated outward, influencing many more children’s fantasy authors and readers, and helping to turn Anglophilic fascination with early Britain and its medieval legends into a globally recognisable setting for children’s adventures, world-saving deeds and magical possibility. 

(7) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

  • December 6, 1991 Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country premiered. It would be the last Trek film to feature the entire original cast from the series, and was released just after Roddenberry passed on. Directed by Nicholas Meyers and produced by Ralph Winter Steven-Charles Jaffe, the screenplay was by Nicholas Meyer and Denny Martin Flinn from a story from Leonard Nimoy, Lawrence Konner and Mark Rosenthal. It would lose out to Terminator 2: Judgement Day at MagiCon for Best Hugo, Long Form Presentation. The film received a much warmer reception from critics and audiences alike than The Final Frontier did, and it was a box office success. Audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes give it a most exemplary rating of eighty three percent. 

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]

  • Born December 6, 1881 – Helen Knipe.  Illustrator (also rendered stage plays into novels).  Here is The Magical Man of Mirth.  Here is The Land of Never Was.  Here is an interior for The Queen of the City of Mirth.  (Died 1959) [JH]
  • Born December 6, 1909 Arthur K. Barnes. Pulp magazine writer in mostly the Thirties and Forties. He wrote a series of stories about interplanetary hunters Tommy Strike and Gerry Carlyle which are collected in Interplanetary Hunter and Interplanetary Huntress. Some of these were co-written with Henry Kuttner. His Pete Manx, Time Troubler collection featuring Pete Manx is a lot of fun too. Both series are available from the usual digital suspects. (Died 1979.) (CE) 
  • Born December 6, 1911 Ejler Jakobsson. Finnish-born Editor who worked on Astonishing Stories and Super Science Stories butbriefly as they were shut down due to paper shortages. When Super Science Stories was revived in 1949, Jakobson was named editor until it ceased publication two years later. Twenty years later, he took over Galaxy and If, succeeding Frederik Pohl.  His first credited publications were The Octopus and The Scorpion in 1939, co-edited with his wife, Edith Jakobsson. (Died 1984.) (CE) 
  • Born December 6, 1957 Arabella Weir, 63. A performer with two Who appearances, the first being as Billis in “The Doctor, the Widow and the Wardrobe”, a superb Eleventh Doctor story, before being The Doctor Herself in “Exile”, a Big Audio production. She’s had one-offs on genre and genre adjacent series such as Shades of DarknessGenie in the HouseRandall & Hopkirk (Deceased) and even a genre adjacent Midsomer Murders. (CE) 
  • Born December 6, 1962 Colin Salmon, 58. Definitely best known for his role as Charles Robinson in the Bond films Tomorrow Never DiesThe World Is Not Enough and Die Another Day. He played Dr. Moon in “Silence in the Library” and “Forest of the Dead”, Tenth Doctor stories, and was Walter Steele on Arrow. He most recently played General Zod on Krypton He was, alas, Ben in the clunker of films, Mortal Engines. (CE)
  • Born December 6, 1942 – Ted Pauls.  A hundred reviews in LocusSF CommentarySF ReviewThe WSFA (Washington, DC, SF Ass’n) Journal.  His T-K Graphics was a leading mail-order bookshop.  Fanzine, Kipple.  Co-chaired Balticon 5-8.  Part of the Baltimore SF Forum (hello, Ted White).  (Died 1997) [JH]
  • Born December 6, 1946 – Ana Lydia Vega, Ph.D., age 74.  Seven collections, one children’s book.  Casa de las Américas prize, Juan Rulfo prize.  Puerto Rico Society of Authors’ Author of the Year.  Professor at Univ. Puerto Rico (retired).  [JH]
  • Born December 6, 1960 – Julie Dean Smith, age 60.  Four novels “done with panache and a happy skill” — hey, I’m quoting Clute, it must be St. Nicholas’ Day.  [JH]
  • Born December 6, 1962 Janine Turner, 58. Maggie O’Connell on Northern Exposure which we’ve accepted as genre adjacent.  She was also Linda Aikman in Monkey Shines, a horror film not for the squeamish, and had one-offs in Knight-RiderQuantum Leap and Mr. Merlin. (CE) 
  • Born December 6, 1969 Torri Higginson, 51. I had forgotten that she had a role in the TekWar movies and series as Beth Kittridge. I like that series a lot. Of course, she portrayed Dr. Elizabeth Weir in one episode of Stargate SG-1 and the entire Stargate Atlantis series. Her most recent genre roles was as Dr. Michelle Kessler in Inhuman Condition, where she plays a therapist who focuses on supernatural patients, and Commander Delaney Truffault in the Dark Matter series. (CE)
  • Born December 6, 1972 – Kevin Brockmeier, age 48.  Fifteen novels for us, thirty shorter stories.  “A Proustian Reverie” in the NY Times Book Review.  Three O. Henry prizes (take that, Arthur Hawke), several others.  Interviewed in Lightspeed.  [JH]
  • Born December 6, 1981 – Ben White, age 39.  Confessedly Aotearoan pâkehâ.  Three novels.  Twenty-six games here.  Has read The Sirens of TitanThe Phantom TollboothOne Flew Over the Cuckoo’s NestThe Thirteen Clocks.  [JH]

(9) STINK ‘EM UP JUST RIGHT. ”One-star wonders: how to make a film that’s so bad it’s good” – Catherine Bray shares the formula wih readers of The Guardian.

There is nothing quite like a good-bad movie. Sometimes the title alone is enough to let us know what we’re in for: think Attack of the 50 Foot Woman (1958). Sometimes the good-badness might be about knowing we are guaranteed an over-ripe performance from a particular star: think Nicolas Cage from around 2010 onwards. Sometimes a lurid or ridiculous premise promises a good time all by itself (see: Night of the Lepus, AKA the killer rabbit movie). But whether or not the creative minds behind these kinds of cultural landmarks were in on the joke is sometimes less self-evident.

…The godfather of wonderfully terrible films is Plan 9 from Outer Space, Ed Wood’s 1959 effort about aliens attacking the Earth. Hubcaps on strings are pressed into service as interstellar spacecraft, wobbling their way to our planet. When we get our first glimpse of the alien beings within, the hubcaps start to look pretty cosmic by contrast; the aliens bear a resemblance to inexpensive actors sporting off-the-rack medieval fayre costumes. Horror veteran Bela Lugosi, appearing as the villain, passed away before filming; his character’s scenes are constructed from screen-test footage he’d shot with Wood, plus additional material featuring another, far taller guy with a cape draped over his face. Throughout the film, scenery has a habit of wobbling alarmingly, particularly the gravestones.

(10) WWI09. According to io9 “The First Impressions of Wonder Woman 1984 Are In, and It Sounds Like a Fitting Sequel and ’80s Tribute” – a roundup of tweeted comments about the movie.

(11) WHAT’S UP CHUCK? Checking in on the latest wisdom from the Tingleverse.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Andrew Porter, Michael Toman, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ. John Hertz, Cat Eldridge, Dany Sichel, and Mike Kennedy for some of these stories. Title credit goes to contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]

Pixel Scroll 12/2/20 The Television Will Not Be Revolutionized

(1) FLIGHT WORN ART. Artist Gregory Manchess tells how he designed the Dragon Crew One patch – and how he got the gig in the first place: “Mission Patch: Crew One” at Muddy Colors.

…Through a convoluted process of attending conventions and patiently waiting for the right timing, I’d met an astronaut who is a fan of science fiction. Kjell Lindgren, the year before, had opened the envelope to read one of the winners for the World Science Fiction convention in 2016. . .while floating in zero g at the space station.

The following year, Kjell (pronounced ‘Chell’) attended the WSF convention in Helsinki, which I attended, and I got to meet him. A year after that, I ran into him again at the same convention in Texas. I asked him about his next flight up and joked that I’d like to come along. He asked if I knew how to handle a robotic arm and I said, “Man, I can handle a brush. How could that be any harder?” I think he actually did a spit take on that one.

Then I asked him, seriously, who was doing their mission patch. Several conversations later, I found myself on a Skype call with Kjell, the mission commander, Mike “Hopper” Hopkins, and mission pilot, Victor “Ike” Glover.

One never knows when an opportunity may arise that can be taken advantage of. My timing was right and my enthusiasm authentic. A deadly combination for winning over clients….

(2) THE IMAGINATION DESK. The latest episode of the Center for Science and the Imagination’s podcast The Imagination Desk features an interview with science fiction author, editor, and researcher Regina Kanyu Wang. Here are direct links to the podcast, on the CSI website (which links out to the other services), Apple PodcastsSpotifyRadioPublic, and Libsyn

Regina Kanyu Wang is a science fiction writer, researcher, and critic from Shanghai. She is now based at the University of Oslo, where she is part of the CoFUTURES project. In this conversation, we talk about the Chinese science fiction scene, its fan culture, and gender politics in the genre, as well as insights on Regina’s own recent writing—including how she builds nuance and complexity into her portrayals of AI and other technologies.

(3) KGB. Fantastic Fiction at KGB reading series hosts Ellen Datlow and Matthew Kressel present Priya Sharma and Justin C. Key on Wednesday, December 16, at 7 p.m. in a livestreamed event on YouTube. Link forthcoming. Listen to their podcast of readings here.

  • Priya Sharma

Priya Sharma is a short story writer whose collection All the Fabulous Beasts won a British Fantasy Award and a Shirley Jackson Award. Her first novella Ormeshadow from Tor won a Shirley Jackson Award. When she’s not writing she works as a doctor in the UK.

  • Justin C. Key


Justin C. Key is a speculative fiction writer and psychiatrist. His stories have appeared or are forthcoming in The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, Strange Horizons, Tor.com, Escape Pod, and Crossed Genres. His novella, Spider King, will be released by Serial Box in early 2021. He’s currently working on a near-future novel inspired by his medical training. He lives in Los Angeles.

(4) DON’T BEAM UP THE PLAGUE. “Captain Kirk calls out Alberta for not adopting federal tracing app” – Edmonton’s City News has the story.

It appears Captain Kirk is a fan of the federal COVID-19 tracing up and a critic of Alberta’s decision not to adopt it.

Canadian icon William Shatner, who played the famous Star Trek character, voiced his opinion on Twitter Wednesday, promoting the COVIDAlert app.

“Now you just need to get Alberta on board,” said Shatner. “I’ve heard that certain people have an issue with the app because they have their own app.”

The Public Health Agency of Canada responded to the tweet, thanking Shatner for promoting contact tracing.

(5) SEA SQUARED. Being a successful writer is a dream come true. Or is that a nightmare? “Jeff VanderMeer on the Saga of The Festival of the Freshwater Squid” at LitHub.

…The Ambergris books received a ton of critical acclaim, well beyond what one might expect for fictions centered around squid and mushroom people. They also sold well enough that a non-rabid, fairly polite fan base sprouted up around Ambergris.

In short, I wrote about the fantastical Festival of the Freshwater Squid for years without anything particularly odd happening. What did happen tended to fall into one of three categories.

Category the first. Dried squid. Tons of it. Acres of it. More dried squid than there are undried squid. Every year, without fail, people sent me dried squid in the mail. Never the same people, I must add, so this was not a stalkery situation, but merely an issue of proper methods of disposal. I don’t actually like to eat squid because having become an amateur squidologist, I know just how intelligent squid are and how likely it is that they would rule over us if they lived fifty years instead of two to four. But, of course, it’s the thought that counts, and the thought of receiving bags and bags of dried squid for the rest of my life might’ve been disturbing, but it was also a testament to the power of Ambergris. (Ironically, I never received any ambergris in the mail.)…

(6) THREE MORE FOR YOUR TBR. Because why would you only read the first book after seeing this pitch? “Kelly Link: Why You Should Read This Classic Trilogy” in LitHub.

…At the heart of the Deptford Trilogy is a set of mysteries. There is the question of whether the woman struck in the head by the snowball may or may not be, afterward and as a consequence, a saint capable of raising the dead and other miracles. Tied to this is the question of the peculiar death of a man named Boy Staunton. At the end of Fifth Business, a clue is offered by a Brazen Head, which floats above a stage. “He was killed by the usual cabal,” it says. But the cabal of characters here and in Fifth Business’s sequels is anything other than usual. It is, in fact, an extraordinary cabal and unlike any you are likely to encounter in novels less bold in their scope. Davies has the scalpel-like acuity of a mystery novel sleuth who has been invited to attend a birthday party and for his own entertainment proceeds to pin down the secret desires, transgressions, and petty misdeeds of each guest. In fact, part of the strangeness and originality of Fifth Business is that, in the moment where a clue is offered by the Brazen Head, it becomes apparent that we are reading a mystery novel in reverse order. First, we are given a leisurely and pleasurable introduction to a cast of disreputable, eccentric characters along with their motivations, opportunities, and confessions. Then, as the book draws to its end, we arrive with a jolt at the moment when a body is discovered under the most perplexing circumstances. Afterward, rather than being given a solution, we are briskly shown out of the novel by its narrator.

(7) PRESERVE TOLKIEN’S HOME. The stars are aligning to make sure one of Tolkien’s homes meets a better fate than, say, Ray Bradbury’s. The goal is to establish a literary center there: “Lord of the Rings Cast Reunite to Buy $6 Million Home of Author J.R.R. Tolkien” reports People. The Tolkien Estate is not involved.

Lord of the Rings stars Sir Ian McKellen and John Rhys-Davies are embarking on another epic adventure.

Rather than crossing Middle Earth to battle the evil forces of Sauron, however, the British actors have joined a fellowship to save 20 Northmoor Road, the Oxford house in which J.R.R. Tolkien wrote The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, in advance of it being put on the market by realtors Breckon & Breckon.

The initiative, called Project Northmoor, starts crowdfunding on December 2 and hopes to raise $6 million to purchase the home and create a literary center in honor of Tolkien. It is also supported by The Hobbit star, Martin Freeman.

…”This is just an opportunity that can’t be ignored,” John Rhys-Davies, who played Gimli and voiced Treebeard in the films, tells PEOPLE from his self-isolation in a New Zealand hotel.

“If people are still reading in 1,000 years, Tolkien will be regarded as one of the great myth-makers of Britain and it will be evident within a matter of years that not to secure this place would have been such an act of arrogance and ignorance and folly on our part.”

The donation site is here: “Project Northmoor – Save Tolkien’s Home”.

J.R.R. and Edith Tolkien moved into 20 Northmoor Road with their young family in 1930. Over the next 17 crucial years the house was the heart of the Tolkien home. It was here that J.R.R. Tolkien wrote The Hobbit, which he had begun as a bedtime story for his children, and followed that with another unexpected journey. That book became The Lord of the Rings.

(8) KEAYS-BYRNE OBIT. Boing Boing reports “Hugh Keays-Byrne, of Mad Max fame, dead at 73”

(9) MORE ABOUT BOVA. Ben Bova’s son commemorated his late father in this Facebook profile: “Ben Bova, by his son. Benjamin William Bova”.

… Widely read, Dr. Bova would delight in reciting entire poems of, say, Rudyard Kipling, or the songs of Cole Porter on occasion. He would acknowledge the most esoteric pun or obscure reference with a groan or a wry grin. He could – as he often did during writing breaks – with pen and sans eraser, complete entire New York Times crossword puzzles in the time it takes to finish a lunch cup of yoghurt. Words were his tools; his memory and imagination, his toolbox. And his two pointing fingers – he never used his entire set of fingers to write, the hammers that pounded first the typewriter keys and then, when it was invented, the home computer to conceive and mold a good story….

(10) MEDIA ANNIVERSARY.

  • 1995 – Twenty-five years ago Ursula K. Le Guin’s “Forgiveness Day,” published in the November 1994 issue of Asimov’s Science Fiction, would win the Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award. The other nominees were Maureen F. McHugh’s “Nekropolis” and Michael Bishop’s “Cri de Coeur”.  It would also win a Locus Award for Best Novella. It was last published in The Found and the Lost: The Collected Novellas of Ursula K. Le Guin on Saga Press which is available in print and digital editions.

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]

  • Born December 2, 1913 – Jerry Sohl.  Fourteen novels, two dozen shorter stories for us, other work including television, film, a chess book and a bridge book.  Title of posthumous collection Filet of Sohl not his fault.  (Died 2002)  [JH]
  • Born December 2, 1914 Ray Walston. Best remembered, of course, for playing the lead in My Favorite Martian from 1963 to 1966, alongside co-star Bill Bixby. Before that, played the Devil in Damn Yankees. His later genre appearances would include The Wild Wild WestMission: ImpossibleSix Million Dollar ManGalaxy of TerrorAmazing Stories, PopeyeFriday the 13th: The Series and Addams Family Reunion.   He would appear in The Incredible Hulk (in which David Banner was played by Bill Bixby) as Jasper the Magician in an episode called “My Favorite Magician”. (Died 2001.) (CE) 
  • Born December 2, 1929 – Lael Littke, age 91.  Two novels, a dozen shorter stories for us; she has published forty books, six dozen shorter stories, including Ellery Queen’sLadies Home JournalSeventeen.  “The trick is to recognize a good idea when it sweeps by.”  [JH]
  • Born December 2, 1937 – Brian Lumley, age 83.  Eight Cthulhu novels, a score of shorter stories (“My guys fight back.  Also, they like to have a laugh along the way”); two dozen more novels including Necroscope best-sellers, ten dozen more shorter stories, three dozen poems.  World Fantasy Award for Lifetime Achievement.  [JH]
  • Born December 2, 1946 David Macaulay, 74. British-born American illustrator and writer who is genre adjacent I’d say. Creator of such cool works as CathedralThe New Way Things Work which has he updated for the computer technology age, and I really like one of latest works, Crossing on Time: Steam Engines, Fast Ships, and a Journey to the New World. (CE) 
  • Born December 2, 1946 Josepha Sherman. Writer and folklorist who was a Compton Crook Award winner for The Shining Falcon which was based on the Russian fairy tale “The Feather of Finist the Falcon”. She was a prolific writer both on her own and with other writer such as Mecedes Lackey with whom she wrote A Cast of Corbies and two Buffyverse novels with Laura Anne Gilman.   I knew her personally as a folklorist first and that is she was without peer writing such works as Rachel the Clever: And Other Jewish Folktales and  Greasy Grimy Gopher Guts: The Subversive Folklore of Childhood that she wrote with T K F Weisskopf.  Neat lady who died far too soon. Let me leave you with an essay she wrote on Winter for Green Man twenty years ago: “Josepha Sherman’s Winter Queen Speech”  (Died 2012.) (CE)
  • Born December 2, 1952 OR Melling, 68. One of her favorite authors is Alan Garner whose The Owl Service is a frequent read of hers she tells me. As for novels by her that I’d recommend, the Chronicles of Faerie series is quite excellent. For more adult fare, her People of the Great Journey is quite good. (CE)
  • Born December 2, 1954 – Laura Underwood, age 66.  Nine novels, eighty shorter stories.  Here is her cover for Bradley Sinor’s Dark & Stormy Nights.  [JH]
  • Born December 2, 1968 Lucy Liu, 52. She was Joan Watson on Elementary in its impressive seven-year run. Her other genre role, and it’s been long running, has been voicing Tinkermist in the Disney Fairies animated franchise. I kid you not. She’s had a few genre one-offs on The X-FilesHercules: The Legendary Journeys and the Rise: Blood Hunter film, but not much overall haughty she did show up in Luke Cage. (CE) 
  • Born December 2, 1971 Frank Cho, 49. Writer and illustrator, best remembered  as creator of the let excellent  Liberty Meadows series as well as work on HulkMighty Avengers and Shanna the She-Devil for Marvel Comics, and Jungle Girl for Dynamite Entertainment. I recommend the Frank Cho Art Book from Delcourt as being a superb look at his work. CE)
  • Born December 2, 1976 – Kate Milford, age 44.  Eight novels, another due next February.  Has read A Canticle for LeibowitzPoems of Ambrose Bierce, Borges’ Ficciones, and Serve It Forth.  She very frankly says “I update this site sometimes.”  [JH]
  • Born December 2, 1980 – Leander Deeny, age 40.  One novel by this man whom someone wants us to know was in the BBC series Merlin and the Captain America film The First Avenger.  He likes whisky, cookery, falconry, and another thing I keep forgetting.  [JH]

(12) ALIEN REAL ESTATE. “Netflix Reveals What Mysterious ‘Alien Worlds’ May Look Like” – let the Daily Beast fill you in.

Netflix is brimming with outlandish out-of-this-world genre fare, but the streaming giant’s latest docuseries, Alien Worlds, puts the science back in science fiction. Imagining what life might be like on distant planets, producer Nigel Paterson’s four-episode endeavor utilizes what we know about biology and civilization on Earth to speculate about extraterrestrial existence—a mix of knowledge and conjecture that’s echoed by its form, which marries nature documentary footage from around the globe with inventive CGI panoramas of bizarre landscapes and creatures. The result is a fantastical—and fascinating—intergalactic version of Planet Earth.

In light of that structure, it’s only natural that Alien Worlds (premiering Dec. 2) boasts its own David Attenborough-like narrator: acclaimed English actress Sophie Okonedo, who imparts surprising and enlightening facts about Earth’s varied ecosystems—and surmises about what that could mean for life elsewhere—with sonorous, import-laden gravity….

(13) RETURN OF THE TOASTMAKER. Food Network ran a listicle about the “12 Best Star Wars Kitchen Tools”. This is the kind of thing we’re talking about – aren’t you glad these helmets are good for something?

Star Wars Storm Trooper Toaster

$49.95 

WILLIAMS SONOMA

We’re willing to bet that this is the fiercest toaster you’ve ever laid eyes on. It’s shaped like a Stormtrooper’s helmet, but that doesn’t stop it from perfectly preparing your toast. The slots are extra-wide in order to accommodate different types of bread, and features a removable crumb tray for easy cleaning.

(14) CREDENTIAL HEALTH CHECK. Michael Toman sent this link with a reassuring note: “Nope, I’m definitely NOT suggesting ‘Cats Throw Up on SF’ as a new photo contest category for File 770!” Anyway, it’s Mental Floss’ fault that we’re wondering “Why Do Cats Throw Up So Often?”

And y’know, maybe I’ll forego putting an excerpt here.

(15) A MATCH MADE IN HELL. Ryan Reynolds calls it “A Love Story for the ages. Or at least this age.”

(16) I’M PIXELING MY SCROLL FOR THE MISTY MOUNTAINS. Another reason to remember today’s date, on December 2, 1971 Led Zeppelin released ”Misty Mountain Hop” as a single in the US.

The most common interpretation of the song’s title involves a reference to the Misty Mountains in J. R. R. Tolkien‘s The Hobbit.

(17) BOMBS AWAY. While tuned in to tonight’s Jeopardy, Andrew Porter saw these efforts to score during Final Jeopardy:

Novel Characters.

Answer: This character from an 1851 novel “was intent on an audacious, immitigable, and supernatural revenge.”

Wrong questions: “Who is Frankenstein?” “Who is The Count of Monte Cristo?”

Correct question: “Who is Captain Ahab?”

(18) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] “Franz Kafka’s It’s A Wonderful Life” on YouTube is a short film, written and directed by Peter Capaldi, that was originally broadcast on BBC Scotland in 1993.  The film, starring Richard E. Grant as Kafka, really is a variation on Capra’s It’s A Wonderful Life, and earned Capaldi an Oscar for Best Short Film–Live Action in 1995.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, JJ, Martin Morse Wooster, Arnie Fenner, Cat Eldridge, John Hertz, Michael Toman, Rob Thornton, Alan Baumler, Olav Rokne, Contrarius, Mike Kennedy, Dann, Steve Davidson, Sean Wallace, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]

Richard C. West (1944-2020)

Tolkien scholar Richard C West died of COVID-19 on November 29 in Madison, Wisconsin. 

He was the editor of the book Tolkien Criticism: An Annotated Checklist (Kent State, 1970), co-winner of the Mythopoeic Scholarship Award for Inkling Studies (1976). He contributed essays to numerous books and journals about Tolkien and fantasy, and served on the board of editors for the journal Extrapolations.

Richard helped found Tolkien and Fantasy Society at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1966, and also founded a Tolkien book discussion group which met continuously for more than fifty years. He was a founding member of The Madison Science Fiction Group, and one of the founders of the feminist science fiction convention, WisCon. He published the pioneering Tolkien fanzine / journal Orcrist, 8 issues from 1966 to 1977, with an anniversary 9th issue in 2017. 

This is just the beginning of a list of his accomplishments. There is an extensive bibliography on Tolkien Gateway

“A modest and kindly man, I don’t think Richard ever realized that he was one of the best of the best of Tolkien scholars,” John D. Rateliff, another leading Tolkien specialist, said of West today.

West was retired as Serials and Technical Services Librarian from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

He married Harriet Perri Corrick in May 1977 in Madison, WI. Perri currently has COVID-19 as well but is not as ill. 

[Thanks to Diane Martin for the story.]

AudioFile’s Best Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Audiobooks
of 2020

This year File 770 is partnering with AudioFile to announce the winners of the 2020 Best Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Audiobooks.

They are listed below with links to the AudioFile review.

AudioFile will be featuring exclusive interviews with narrators from Best Audiobooks 2020 across all the categories on their podcast, Behind the Mic with AudioFile Magazine.

2019 Best Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Audiobooks

Whether they are brought to life by an all-star cast or narrated by actors with the skills to bring vibrant characters to life, these 2020 Best Sci-Fi, Fantasy & Horror audiobooks will sweep you up in stories both familiar and highly original. Join an old friend on an unforgettable journey, witness the birth of a new city, or explore an isolated mansion in the Mexican countryside. Once you start listening to this year’s best audiobooks, you won’t want to put them down.


THE SANDMAN by Neil Gaiman, Dirk Maggs [Adapt.] | Read by Riz Ahmed, Kat Dennings, Taron Egerton, Neil Gaiman, James McAvoy, Samantha Morton, Bebe Neuwirth, Andy Serkis, Michael Sheen, and a Full Cast


THE HAUNTING OF H.G. WELLS by Robert Masello | Read by Steve West


THE CITY WE BECAME by N.K. Jemisin | Read by Robin Miles


MEXICAN GOTHIC by Silvia Moreno-Garcia | Read by Frankie Corzo


THE HOBBIT by J.R.R. Tolkien | Read by Andy Serkis

Pixel Scroll 11/19/20 1,001 Pixel Scroll Nights

(1) PLAYING HARD TO GET. Comicbook.com introduces “Star Trek Actors Brent Spiner and LeVar Burton Feud in Hilarious Omeleto Video”. It really is a hoot.

Star Trek: The Next Generation stars LeVar Burton and Brent Spiner have come together in a new video aimed at poking fun of their public personas and pitting the two against one another in a feud that overruns a fundraiser and causes havoc at an awards show. The short comes from Omeleto, home to a wide variety of different kinds of short films. Spiner takes the central role, lampooning himself as a shallow, pretentious jerk who begins and ends the short with musical numbers that would probably stand on their own as short-short films, given the YouTube (and Star Trek) ecosphere.

The short, titled “Brentwood,” sees Spiner vacillating between wanting to distance himself from his genre past, and wanting the material success and praise that comes with that success….

(2) CONVERSATION ABOUT OCTAVIA BUTLER. Last night journalist Lynell George, author of A Handful of Earth, A Handful of Sky, was online in dialog with LA Times reporter Julia Wick about the legacy and prolific writing of science fiction legend Octavia E. Butler. Watch the video here on Facebook.

(3) ROLE MODEL. Sarah Gailey wrote this entry in the series on their blog: “Personal Canons: All the Birds in the Sky”.

…If you haven’t already read this book, you absolutely should. It is in many ways a love letter to both science fiction and fantasy; it simultaneously contains a tender critique of the foibles of each. Through two narratives, the novel weaves the two supposedly-distinct genres together into a truly masterful accomplishment of a story.

Reading All the Birds in the Sky was a revelation. I’d never read anything like it before. It engaged with tropes and conventions in ways that revealed a rich understanding of genre, without ever falling into cliché. The narrative was simultaneously sincere and playful, honest and elusive, sly and heartfelt.

Before I lost myself in All the Birds in the Sky, most of my understanding of and enjoyment of contemporary genre fiction and media was defined by brittleness and snark. This isn’t to say that sincere sentiments weren’t out there — but sincere sentiments weren’t what I understood to be successful. They weren’t what I understood to be the mode of the day.

The goal, as I saw it, was to refute the notion that genre fiction was unselfaware. The goal was to be cool and aloof and maybe a little mean to fans. To narratively acknowledge a trope was, by necessity, to make fun of the trope. It was a bullyproofing mechanism: nobody could make fun of us if we made fun of ourselves, first.

As I recall, there was a good amount of this in the first draft of River of Teeth. But as I read All the Birds in the Sky — and as I revised the weird little novella I’d decided to write — something shifted….

(4) MORE MYTHOPEIA. Alison Flood, in “Unseen JRR Tolkien essays on Middle-earth coming in 2021” in The Guardian says The Nature Of Middle-Earth, edited by Carl F. Hostetter, will be published next year.

…The new collection, which is authorised by the Tolkien estate, will be called The Nature of Middle-earth, and will be published in June by HarperCollins, which promised it would “transport readers back to the world of The Silmarillion, Unfinished Tales and The Lord of the Rings”. 

…Topics include Elvish immortality and reincarnation; the nature of the Valar, the god-like spirits of Middle-earth; the lands and beasts of Númenor; the geography of the kingdom of Gondor; and even who had beards. Whether elves, hobbits and even dwarven women could grow beards has long been subject of debate among fans.

The writings will be edited by Carl F Hostetter, a Tolkien expert and head of the Elvish Linguistic Fellowship who has been a computer engineer at Nasa since 1985. Hostetter previously worked with Tolkien’s youngest son Christopher, who curated the author’s posthumous output until his death in January, aged 95.

(5) SLIPPED DISC PROVES TERMINAL. Sadly, “NSF to decommission Arecibo radio telescope” reports Space News.

The National Science Foundation announced Nov. 19 it will perform a “controlled decommissioning” of the giant radio telescope at the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico, citing recent damage that made it unsafe to operate or even repair.

In a call with reporters, NSF officials said two broken cables used to support a 900-ton platform suspended over the telescope’s 305-meter main dish put the entire structure at risk of collapse. One cable slipped out of its socket in August, falling to the dish below and damaging it, while the second broke Nov. 6

Both cables are attached to the same tower, one of three surrounding the main dish. “The engineers have advised us that the break of one more cable will result in an uncontrolled collapse of the structure,” said Ralph Gaume, director of the NSF’s Division of Astronomical Sciences, referring to cables attached to that same tower. That would result in the platform crashing down to the main dish and potentially toppling one or more of the towers.

… Engineers are working on a plan to carry out that controlled decommissioning, which will take several weeks to complete. “The execution of that controlled decommissioning is unknown at this point,” Gaume said. It could be done “very rapidly” if explosives are used to bring down telescope structures, he speculated….

(6) THIS TABLET IS HARD TO SWALLOW. The Pittsburgh Current calls it — “Fahrenheit 412: New Rule Bans Allegheny County Jail Inmates From Receiving Books; Reading Limited To 214 Select E-Books”

Christopher West, aka Brother Hush, has been in the Allegheny County Jail for three months To help pass the time, he immersed himself into one of his favorite hobbies, reading.

The jail had a policy, though, that inmates could only receive books directly from Barnes and Noble or the Christian Book Store. Hush took advantage of the policy and has tried to pass his time until trial (for more info on this, read Hush’s story here). But on Nov. 16, things changed.

“Yesterday I woke up in Fahrenheit 451,” says Hush, a musical artist, and activist, by phone Nov. 17 from the Allegheny County Jail. His reference was to the 1953 Ray Bradbury Novel that tells the story about a dystopian future where books are banned and burned.

On Monday, Nov. 16, the ACJ’s incarcerated population received a memo from warden Orlando Harper that read: “Effective Monday, Nov. 16, 2020, the Allegheny County Jail shall no longer accept books from Barnesandnoble.com and Christianbooks.com. Inmates living in our facility now have the ability to read over 214 free books and 49 free religious books through our tablet program. Inmates…also have access to a wide variety of books through the leisure library on each pod.”

The ACJ’s “tablet program” began earlier this year after the county inked a new contract with Global Tel*Link. The new deal provided inmate with tablets that they could use for entertainment purposes, to photos and videos from their families and to have video visits. The problem is, each of these services costs money out of an inmate’s pocket and baked on those fee, Allegheny County receives kickbacks from the telecom company of more than $4 million. Inmates do get roughly an hour-and-a-half of free credits. But after that they are charged anywhere from three-to-five cents per minute….

“I love to read,” Hush says. “I’ve got a box full of books in here. But, now I’m being limited to only certain titles and if I want to read longer than my free credits allow, then I have to pay. With a book, I’m not charged by the minute.

(7) MEDIA ANNIVERSARY.

  • November 19, 1931 Frankenstein debuted in Detroit, Michigan.  James Whale directed the motion picture not from an adaptation of the Mary Shelley novel but rather from a 1927 play by Peggy Webling that was based on the novel. The Webling play was adapted by John L. Balderston and the screenplay written by Francis Edward Faragoh and Garrett Fort. The  cast included  Frederick Kerr as Baron Frankenstein, Colin Clive as Henry Frankenstein , Mae Clarke as Elizabeth Lavenza, and Boris Karloff as Frankenstein’s Monster. Critics generally loved it and it’s considered one of the best horror films of all time. It currently holds an ever so hundred percent rating among audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes. (CE)

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]

  • Born November 19, 1911 – Mary Counselman.  Five dozen short stories, two dozen poems.  “The Three Marked Pennies” may have been the second most popular in Weird Tales; readers kept mentioning it for years.  This cover for Half in Shadow is by Tim Kirk.  “The Hallowe’en scariness of the bumbling but kindly Wizard of Oz has always appealed to me more than the gruesome, morbid fiction of H.P. Lovecraft, Clark Ashton Smith, and those later authors who were influenced by their doom philosophies.  My eerie shades bubble with an irrepressible sense of humour, ready to laugh with (never at) those earth-bound mortals whose fears they once shared.”  First Fandom.  Phoenix Award.  More here.  (Died 1995) [JH]
  • Born November 19, 1919 Alan Young. He was David Filby and James Filby in The Time Machine. He was Stanley Beamish, the original lead in the unaired pilot of the 1967 Mr. Terrific series. It’s not the DCU character as the latter will not be created until 1997. And he was the voice of Scrooge McDuck for over thirty years, first in the Mickey’s Christmas Carol short (1983) and in various other films, series and even video games up to his death. (Died 2016.) (CE) 
  • Born November 19, 1924 William Russell, 96. He played the role of companion Ian Chesterton in Doctor Who, from the show’s first episode in the end until the next to the last of the second season when the Companions change. Yes, I know the “Unearthly Child” was the unused original pilot.  He’s continued the role to the present at Big Finish. And yes, he’s in An Adventure in Space and Time. (CE)
  • Born November 19, 1936 – Wolfgang Jeschke.  Fan, author, editor.  Pioneer of the Science Fiction Club Deutschland (deliberately two-language name).  Guest of Honour at ConFiction the 48th Worldcon (hello, Kees van Toorn); on the Program Book cover he’s second from the top; more about the con here.  WJ’s fanzine Ad Astra.  Five novels, thirty shorter stories; essays, introductions, radio plays.  For the publisher Heyne, edited Science Fiction MagazinScience Fiction Jahresband (we’d say “yearbook”, although der Band isn’t really the same as “book”), Welten der Zukunft (“Worlds of the Future”), Internationale Science Fiction StoriesScience Fiction Story ReaderTitan (with Pohl, Silverberg, Bova), Das Science Fiction Jahr, a score more anthologies (including Der Tod des Dr. Island, (“The Death of Dr. Island” – but alas, so far as I know, not the rest of this).  Harrison Award.  (Died 2015) [JH]
  • Born November 19, 1943 – Allan Cole.  A dozen novels with Chris Bunch (and other novels outside our field), two with Nick Perumov, five alone.  Two shorter stories that I know of.  Appreciation of Tom Kidd for SF Age (hello, Scott Edelman).  A hundred television episodes.  Newspaper reporter.  Learned Shakespeare and Socrates from a Greek on Cyprus.  (Died 2019) [JH]
  • Born November 19, 1953 – Wendy Orr, 67.  Four novels and a shorter story for us; forty other books.  Children’s Book Council of Australia Book of the Year for Younger Readers, 1995.  More here.  [JH]
  • Born November 19, 1953 Robert Beltran, 67. Best known for his role as Commander Chakotay on Voyager. Actually only known for that role. Like so many Trek actors, he’ll later get involved in Trek video fanfic but Paramount has gotten legalistic so it’s called Renegades and is set in the Confederation, not the Federation. And it’s shorn of anything that’s identify it as Trek related. (CE)
  • Born November 19, 1963 Terry Farrell, 56. She’s best known for her role as Jadzia Dax on Deep Space Nine. She too shows up as cast on Renegades video Trek fanfic that Beltran is listed as being part of. She’s got some other genre roles such as Joanne ‘Joey’ Summerskill in Hellraiser III: Hell on Earth, and Allison Saunders in Deep Core. Interestingly she played the character Cat in the American pilot of Red Dwarf. (CE)
  • Born November 19, 1965 Douglas Henshall, 55. Best known for his role as Professor Nick Cutter on Primeval. He played T.E. Lawrence in two stories of the Young Indiana Jones Chronicles series, and the lead in The Strange Case of Sherlock Holmes and Arthur Conan Doyle. He showed up on Sea of Souls, a BBC paranormal series. Finally, he had a recurring role as Taran MacQuarrie on Outlander. (CE) 
  • Born November 19, 1974 – Kuroboshi Kôhaku, 46.  (Personal name last, Japanese style.)  Illustrator and character designer.  I’ll let you read here about Sword Art Online Alternative Gun Gale Online.  No, I mean it, go ahead.  [JH]
  • Born November 19, 1980 Katherine Kelly, 40. Miss Andrea Quill in Class, the spin-off from Doctor Who that lasted but eight episodes. (I’ve not seen it.) She’d reprise her role for the Big Audio dramas. Other an appearance in Life on Mars, that’s it for her genre work. (CE) 
  • Born November 19, 1983 –  Kallie George, 37.  Four novels, as many shorter stories, for us.  Others inspired by Anne of Green Gables (and who isn’t?).  Teaches reading with a dinosaur – a cute one – no, I mean it – on ice skates.  Website here.  [JH]

(9) STILL PLAYING CAT AND MOUSE. Warner Brothers dropped the Tom and Jerry official trailer, sharing some very amusing moments. Coming out next year.

(10) HUGO NIGHT REMINISCENCE. Battlestar Galactica script writer Anne Cofell Saunders confesses:

(11) GOING HORRIBLY, HILARIOUSLY WRONG. Paste Magazine enthuses “Hulu’s Rebooted Animaniacs Carries Forth the Zaniness and Charm of the Original”.

… It’s not an escape from reality, as the reboot leans into its political commentary, but it’s a much more colorful, joyful version of it, where nearly any problem can be solved with a giant hammer pulled out of one’s pocket. Animaniacs only wants one reaction from audiences of any age, and that’s laughs. It succeeds tremendously.

Hulu’s rebooted series maintains the same core of the original series, bringing back Steven Spielberg as a producer and many of the same voice actors, composers, and writers who created it. Each 24-minute episode block consists of three shorts of varying length, usually two starring the Warner brothers Yakko (Rob Paulsen) and Wakko (Jess Harnell), and the Warner sister, Dot (Tress MacNeille), with the middle segment going to Pinky (Paulsen) and the Brain (Laurice LaMarche). Without any narrative throughline, Animaniacs remains a show you can watch in any order and enjoy….

 (12) ISN’T THAT SPECIAL? Screen Rant decries “10 Recent Movies With Inexcusably Bad Special Effects”. Hey, I actually paid money to see two of these in a theater – and I had no complaints about Black Panther’s effects even if it is number 3 on this list.

For better or worse, special effects have become an increasingly prominent part of Hollywood moviemaking, and this is particularly true for movies in fantasy and science fiction. While some of these effects really do add to the storytelling, and while some of them are gorgeous to look at, it has to be said that quite a few of them are also more than a little ridiculous.

4. Gods Of Egypt (2016)

It’s a little hard to say what, exactly, the makers of this movie were thinking when they pushed it into production. It’s not as if movies set in antiquity, particularly in mythology, have been especially successful or popular. Most are at best decent (and almost always critically derided).

It’s also quite impossible to take this movie seriously, in large part because the special effects are so disastrously overdone and yet also incredibly cheesy. Somehow, one doubts that this was the effect they intended. It certainly doesn’t help that the movie engaged in some truly egregious white-washing.

(13) IMPRINT REVIVED. [Item by Steve Green.] British horror author and anthologist Johnny Mains has dusted off his publishing imprint Noose & Gibbet for next month’s release of Our Lady of Hate, the first collection of short stories by Catherine Lord (1845-1901). It’s a 338pp hardback, limited to 100 copies.

(14) GRITTY UNREALISM. [Item by Andrew Porter.] From “The Classic Novel That Robert Macfarlane Just Couldn’t Finish” in the New York Times Book Review section.

Disappointing, overrated, just not good: What book did you feel as if you were supposed to like, and didn’t? Do you remember the last book you put down without finishing?

Frank Herbert’s “Dune.” Wild landscapes, weird nature, science fiction — this really should be my jam. But no; the violence came to sicken me by halfway through, as did aspects of the politics. So I junked it.

But he does like M. John Harrison and N.K. Jemisin.

(15) NOW THAT DISNEY OWNS EVERYTHING. Here’s an unexpected way to phrase the new state of affairs —

(16) VIDEO OF THE DAY. “The Lord Of The RIngs Expert Answers Tolkien Questions From Twitter” on YouTube is a video from WIRED in which Tolkien expert Corey Olsen explains why Sauron was neither a human or an elf and why Tolkien thought the plural of dwarf was “dwarfs” and not “dwarves.”

[Thanks to JJ, John King Tarpinian, Martin Morse Wooster, Cat Eldridge, James Davis Nicoll, Mike Kennedy, John Hertz, Michael Toman, Steve Green, Contrarius, Daniel Dern, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Anna Nimmhaus (in collaboration with OGH).]

Pixel Scroll 11/9/20 I Get These Ideas In Scroll-Title Cookies

(1) BLOB THEATER NEEDS HELP. A GoFundMe appeal has been launched to “Keep the Arts Alive at the Colonial Theatre!” The iconic movie house featured fleeing patrons in the 1958 movie The Blob, a scene fans have reenacted over the years:

Friday Night Runout at Blobfest.

The Colonial Theatre (aka Home of The Blob) is facing an unusually challenging winter: one in which we’re nearly 100% dependent on donations for survival. This is why we’ve launched this (first ever) GoFundMe campaign. 

While many other theaters across the nation were making agonizing choices in the springtime, an outpouring of donations (thank you!!), the Payroll Protection Program, and emergency grants made it possible for us to delay messages like these. 

By December 31st, we’ve got to raise $150,000 to meet our financial obligations and we’re banking on your help to raise at least a third of that total…

At this writing, supporters of The Colonial have given $15,025 of its $50,000 GoFundMe target.

(2) SUPERCROONERS. [Item by Daniel Dern.] io9 recommends “20 Superheroes Who Should Star in a Comic Book Musical”.

I’m particularly impressed by Patrick Wilson from Aquaman (singing with Kellie O’Hara, who’s a known and respected Broadway star, although Tom Hiddleston’s not shabby either, to name just a few.

I’m surprised the clip selected for Melissa Benoist (Supergirl) from The Flash, versus her (from that season’s musical crossover) Moon River, You’re My Superfriend, or Put A Little Love In Your Heart – see my 2017 File 770 post “In Case You Didn’t Watch The Flash Musical Episode…” for links. (Unfortunately, 2 of those links are now dead.)

(3) BROOKS AT THE FINISH. “As the Shannara Saga Ends, Terry Brooks Looks Back…and Forward”, a Publishers Weekly interview.

How did you decide to end the series with your latest, The Fall of Shannara: The Last Druid?

If you’re not energized, when you go into a 500 page book, you are in big trouble. It’s so hard to write a good book if you don’t love it from the beginning and all the way through, and you’re not working with a certain amount of energy every time you sit down. As things wore on into this last decade, I told myself, “There’s two things that are gonna happen here: Either you’re going to die, and somebody else is going to finish this series for you—probably Brandon Sanderson—or you’re gonna force yourself to write the ending now, and deal with the consequences.”

I always knew what the ending was I wanted, which also helped persuade me not to just abandon this thing. I knew what I wanted to write, I knew this was always a circular story about how one kind of power replaces another. Nature abhors a vacuum, and if science no longer exists in the world, and there is magic, then magic will be the power until it falls out of favor, which it will, because it’s elitist. And then science starts to reemerge because we’re an evolving society, and so would this one be. This book was always going to be about whether the Druid order, which has been there through all these 30 books, was going to continue to survive, or if it would fall apart at the end, as really everything eventually does. And I wrote it to answer that question. I’m at peace with it right now. I think I ended it the way I wanted to—and I can always go back to it if I choose to.

(4) ROW VS. WADE. James Davis Nicoll selects a fistful of authors who have answered the question: “Who Gets in the Lifeboat? Five Classic SF Survival Stories”. First into boat – Kal-El.

Superman by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster (1938 – present)

Superman’s origin story introduces a convenient way to sort people into survivors and the dead without forcing the protagonist into the ethically dubious position of being the one to choose. Brilliant scientist Jor-El foresees the planet Krypton’s imminent doom. Unfortunately for the people of Krypton, he is unable to convince that world’s government that the crisis is real or that steps must be taken to save the general population.  At least in some versions of the story, he can’t flee himself, lest he provoke a general panic. In the end, he is able to save just one person: his infant son Kal-El, whom he dispatches to distant Earth.  Too bad for the billions who die on Krypton, but hey, neither Jor-El nor Kal-El is responsible for the mass death.

(5) XENOGENESIS. GalleriesWest says of The Otolith Group: Xenogenesis

Xenogenesis is the first large scale exhibition of The Otolith Group presented in Canada… Showing at the Southern Art Gallery in Lethbridge, Alberta until November 15.

Xenogenesis is named after Octavia Butlers’ Xenogenesis Trilogy, which consists of Dawn. Xenogenesis: 1Adulthood Rites. Xenogenesis: 2, and Imago. Xenogenesis: 3. As a pioneering African American female science fiction novelist, Butlers’ award-winning novels investigated questions of human extinction, racial distinction, planetary transformation, enforced mutation, generative alienation and altered kinship. From her first novel Patternmaster, 1976, to her final novel Fledgling, 2005, Butler challenged the questions of science fiction in ways that transformed the cultural imagination of futurity for generations of feminist thinkers, artists and philosophers from Donna Haraway to Denise Ferreira da Silva to the Black Quantum Futurists. Butlers’ fictions of xenogenesis, which are narrated as processes of alien becoming or becoming alien, have informed and continue to inform the movement of thought of The Otolith Group’s work.

(6) LOTS TO OVERCOME. “What It’s Like To Open A Bookstore During The COVID-19 Pandemic”Forbes asked a couple who did it. (And in my brother’s hometown, Ventua.)

…That enthusiasm extended to their opening day, which they said was “so much better than we could’ve imagined.” Though the store’s social distancing rules limit capacity to eight people inside at one time, they were pleased to see that everyone was respectful, with a line to the end of the block for most of the day. Masks are required while inside, and they sanitize all surfaces frequently. “People seemed grateful to have a space to come browse bookshelves, and so many commented that they are reading much more right now and are excited to have an independent bookshop to visit,” said the couple.

(7) BARR OBIT. Ken Barr has died reports the Gallifrey One FB group.

With great sadness, Gallifrey One must share the news that a dear and longtime member of our family, Ken Barr, passed away over the weekend after a long illness. Ken’s involvement in our foundation and development as a convention cannot be overstated; we owe so much of our success to him, his ownership and operation of his longtime West L.A. specialty bookstore Ambrosia Comics & Collectibles, and his mail-order business Ken’s Korner USA….

(8) MEDIA ANNIVERSARY.

  • November 1988 — On this month in 1988, Jane Yolen’s The One-Armed Queen was published by Tor Books completing The Great Alta trilogy which started with Sister Light, Sister Dark and continued with White Jenna. SFBC would publish The Books of Great Alta several years later. The series would be nominated for a Mythopoeic Fantasy Award but that would go to Ellen Kushner’s Thomas the Rhymer that year. It’s available at a reasonable price from the usual digital suspects. 

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]

  • Born November 9, 1921 – Alfred Coppel.  Under his Anglicized name (originally Alfredo Jose de Arana-Marini Coppel) and others he was a prolific pulp author: a score of novels, five dozen stories for us; much else.  His “Read This” in the Jul 93 NY Rev SF was joined by one from Benford, one from Williamson.  (Died 2004) [JH] 
  • Born November 9, 1924 – Larry Shaw.  Active fan and pro.  A Fanarchist and Fanoclast; among his fanzines AxeDestiny’s Child; served a term as Official Editor of FAPA.  Editor of IfInfinitySF Adventures, published Harlan Ellison’s first magazine story.  Two anthologies; one novelette of his own, four short stories.  Special Committee Award from L.A.con II the 42nd Worldcon.  See here; Len Moffatt’s File 770appreciation here.  (Died 1985) [JH]
  • Born November 9, 1934 – Carl Sagan, Ph.D.  His Contact won the Best First Novel Locus Award; nonfiction The Cosmic Connection, the Campbell Memorial Award, Cosmos, the Best Nonfiction Hugo (later amended to Best Related Work); he won the Solstice Award; Pulitzer Prize, Peabody, two Emmys, NASA (U.S. Nat’l Aeronautics & Space Adm’n) Distinguished Public Service Medal.  Professor of Astronomy & Space Sciences at Cornell.  Assembled the Pioneer plaques and Voyager Golden Records.  (Died 1996) [JH]
  • Born November 9, 1946 – Dame Marina Warner, 74.  For us, one novel, one novelette, half a dozen books on myth and fairy tale; three dozen books all told.  Feminist and historian.  Nine honorary doctorates; Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, later its first woman President; Chevalier de l’Orde des Arts et des Lettres; Sheikh Zayed Book Award; Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire; British Academy Medal, World Fantasy Award, for life achievement.  [JH]
  • Born November 9, 1947 Robert David Hall, 73. Best known as coroner Dr. Albert Robbins M.D. on CSI, but he does have quite as few genre credits. He voiced Dinky Little in the animated Here Come the Littles, both the film and the series, the cyborg Recruiting Sargent in Starship Troopers,  voice of Colonel Sharp in the G.I. Joe series, Abraham in The Gene Generation, a biopunk film, and numerous voice roles in myriad DCU animated series. (CE) 
  • Born November 9, 1954 Rob Hansen, 66. British fan, active since the Seventies who has edited and co-edited numerous fanzines including his debut production Epsilon. And he was the 1984 Trans-Atlantic Fan Fund delegate. His nonfiction works such as Then: Science Fiction Fandom in the UK: 1930-1980, last updated just a few years ago, are invaluable. (CE) 
  • Born November 9, 1971 Jamie Bishop. The son of Michael Bishop, he was among those killed in the Virginia Tech shooting. He did the cover illustrations for a number of genre undertakings including Subterranean Online, Winter 2008 and Aberrant Dreams, #9 Autumn 2006. The annual “Jamie Bishop Memorial Award for an Essay Not in English” was established by the International Association for the Fantastic in the Arts as a prize for an essay on the subject of science fiction or speculative fiction not written in English. (Died 2007.) (CE) 
  • Born November 9, 1974 Ian Hallard, 46. He lives with his husband, the actor and screenwriter Mark Gatiss. He appeared as Alan-a-Dale in Twelfth Doctor story, “Robot of Sherwood”, and in Sherlock as Mr Crayhill in “The Reichenbach Fall”.  He played Richard Martin, one of the original directors of Doctor Who in An Adventure in Space and Time. Genre adjacent, he co-wrote The Big Four with his husband for Agatha Christie: Poirot. (CE) 
  • Born November 9, 1950 – Pat Cummings, 70.  Author & illustrator of children’s books.  Recent juvenile for us, Trace.  Coretta Scott King Award for illustrating My Mama Needs Me.  Horn Book – Boston Globe Award.  Orbis Pictus Award.  Nat’l Secretary of the Authors Guild.  [JH]
  • Born November 9, 1988 Tahereh Mafi, 32. Iranian-American whose Furthermore, a YA novel about a pale girl living in a world of both color and magic of which she has neither, I highly recommended it. Whichwood is a companion novel to this work. She also has a young adult dystopian thriller series. (CE) 
  • Born November 9, 1989 Alix E. Harrow, 31. Winner at Dublin 2019 of the Best Short Story Hugo for “Witch’s Guide to Escape: A Practical Compendium of Portal Fantasies” which was nominated for a BSFA and Nebula Award. She has two excellent novels to date, The Ten Thousand Doors of January and The Once and Future Witches which was nominated for but didn’t win a WFA this year.  She has a double handful of short stories not yet collected anywhere. (CE) 
  • Born November 9, 1990 – Rinsai Rossetti, 30.  One novel so far, The Girl with Borrowed Wings, a Kirkus and Booklist Best Book.  More, please.  [JH]

(10) COMICS SECTION.

  • Frank and Ernest meet monsters who want to start political careers.
  • Tom Gauld takes a look at vampire scientists:

(11) ANOTHER CANON IN THE BATTERY. John Wiswell contributes his experience to the series about works that mattered to people: “Personal Canons: Dragon Ball”.

Is this where I confess to piracy?

In the mid-90s I was a sickly teenager with little money and even less access to anything from Japan. Dragon Ball (and its edgier sequel Dragon Ball Z) had some buzz from the rich kids in my school as this mind-blowing martial arts epic. Those kids paid 30+ bucks per badly subtitled tape of the anime, usually with two episodes per tape. It would’ve cost more than my best friend’s car to get the entire show.

One sage stoner said the show was based on a manga by Akira Toriyama. These books were even less accessible — it would be years before a publisher licensed it for distribution in the U.S.

But fans work faster than capitalism.

Fans hand-scanned pages from the books, using MSPaint to translate the dialogue into other languages. Since manga is usually colorless, they flattened the image quality down to pure black and white, so that a standard crappy internet connection could download them. Downloading a chapter of the story took all afternoon – so I spent every afternoon hungry for the next page.

(12) I SEE WHAT YOU DID THERE. Joe R. Christopher’s 2005 review “Hobbits In The National Parks” covers a mystery writer’s Tolkien references.

Nevada Barr is known, among readers of mysteries, for her novels about Anna Pigeon, a National Park Ranger whose assignments usually take her to a different national park in each book.  She began in Texas, in the Guadalupe National Park, in Track of the Cat (1993).  The stories are told in the third person, in a manner that easily slides from giving Pigeon’s thoughts to objective descriptions and records of conversations and actions.

… This use of reference to Middle-Earth as an enlivening device prepares for most of the allusions that appear in the mysteries.  What follows is, at least in intention and perhaps in reality, a complete survey of those references.

    In A Superior Death (1994), set on Isle Royale National Park (in a northern area of Lake Superior), at one point four Park Rangers have to do a “bounce dive” down to an old, deeply sunken shipwreck.  (The “bounce” means in this case that they have only twenty-two minutes at the bottom.)  The Tolkienian comparison occurs just after they enter the cold water of the lake.  Anna Pigeon looks at one of her fellow Rangers:

“Tattinger floated into view.  With the regulator stretching his rubbery lips and the mask maximizing his watery eyes, he put Anna in mind of Gollum, the pale underearth creature that gave Bilbo Baggins the willies.”  (p. 136)

The emphasis on Gollum’s paleness may tie to the first description of Jim Tattinger in the book as one who spent his time on computers and seldom dove the wrecks himself (p. 39) — in other words, an indoors office type. …

(13) UNFORGOTTEN. “Benjamin Ross Hayden explores Indigenous Sci-Fi in ‘Parallel Minds’”—a Canadian radio interview with the director:  

Parallel Minds is a new film from Calgary-based director, Benjamin Ross Hayden. The film opened the Calgary International Film Festival last month to a sold-out audience. Parallel Minds is set for theatrical release in 16 cities across Canada.

A synopsis of the film:

On the verge of the release of Red Eye 2, a revolutionary contact lens that can record data and resurface buried memories, Margo, a Metis researcher in the Department of Memory discovers Red Eye’s head programmer murdered. Margo teams up with Thomas, a police detective running from his past, to uncover what happened to her friend and explore just how deep the revolutionary rabbit hole goes in this futuristic Indigenous thriller

(14) INVISIBLE FRIENDS. In “Seven Novels Featuring Fictional Characters With Even More Fictional Companions” on CrimeReads, Evie Green recommends novels by John Wyndham, Helen Oyeyemi, and Matthew Green for people who want stories about imaginary friends.

The Icarus Girl by Helen Oyeyemi

Eight year old Jessamy lives in London with her Nigerian mother and British father. On a visit to her mother’s family in Nigeria she meets her first real friend, a girl she calls TillyTilly. TillyTilly takes Jess to forbidden, impossible places and makes her see the things differently. Jess goes home to London: a little while later TillyTilly turns up saying she’s just moved in nearby. It takes Jess a while to realize that no one else can see her new friend, and she struggles to resist acting on TillyTilly’s more destructive ideas. Through her new friend Jess discovers a truth about herself that she had never consciously known before, but which, perhaps, has been at the root of her anxiety all along. Sinister and scary, this is a gripping read all the more impressive because of the fact that it was written while the author was still at school.

(15) VIDEO OF THE DAY. In “The Hobbit:  The Battle of the Five Armies Pitch Meeting” on Screen Rant, Ryan George says the third Hobbit movie has “amazing action sequences” written by “people who failed physics in high school.”

[Thanks to Mike Kennedy, Michael Toman, John King Tarpinian, Cath Jackel, Andrew Porter, JJ, Cat Eldridge, John Hertz, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]