Pixel Scroll 11/22/20 If You Pixel Any Of That, I’m Out Of A Scroll

(1) WILLIS DISCUSSES SURGERIES. Connie Willis gave a medical update to her fans on Facebook:

I haven’t posted anything recently, mostly because I had a difficult summer and fall. I had two surgeries in a row: an emergency surgery for a herniated disc in my upper back and then four weeks later a knee replacement, and the combination completely laid me low. I know, that sounds like poor planning, but the doctor was anxious to get it (and my ensuing physical therapy) done before the Covid got completely out of hand in our area.

We just made it–Weld County goes red tomorrow, with 45 of our 48 available ICU beds filled–so it was the right decision, but two surgeries that close together really took it out of me, and I’ve been too exhausted to do much more than my exercises and my worrying about the political and pandemical situation.

Willis nevertheless has completed a couple of projects:

… In spite of surgeries, the pandemic, and obsessing about the election, I did manage to get some writing done. I finally finished my UFO novel, THE ROAD TO ROSWELL, it’s now in my agent’s hands! Yay!

It’s about a young woman, Francie, who goes to Roswell to be a college friend Serena’s maid-of-honor. Serena (who has horrible taste in men) is marrying a UFO nut, so they’ve scheduled the wedding to take place during the UFO convention that happens every year in July on the anniversary of the Roswell crash. And when Francie goes to get something from Serena’s car, she’s abducted by an alien and dragged off on a road trip across the Southwest that includes RVs, wind farms, rattlesnakes, chemtrails, casinos, cattle mutilations, a charming con man, a truly annoying conspiracy theorist, a sweet little old lady, a Western movie buff, Las Vegas wedding chapels, and Monument Valley.

I also finished a Christmas story called “Take a Look at the Five and Ten,” which is out right now in ASIMOV’S November/December issue and is coming out in a beautiful edition from Subterranean Press.

(2) WOODEN SHIPS. Watch as renowned artist “Johnna Klukas Turns a Spaceship.”

(3) LIADEN AUTHORS ASSIST UNCLE HUGO’S. Sharon Lee and Steve Miller have announced how they’re helping Don Blyly of Uncle Hugo’s Bookstore by providing an exclusive signed page —  

Don Blyly at Uncle Hugos Bookstore, working from home after his store was burnt out, has been trying to keep up with demand for our books. He tells us that the exclusive to the Uncles signed-via-tipped-in-sheets Trader’s Leap (latest hardcover Liaden novel) has arrived and is being shipped as he has time — he’s already packed some Canadian orders as well as a bunch of US orders. Official publication date was set for December 1, but since Baen doesn’t usually embargo books (and Don’s house can only hold so many books) Don is going ahead now. He mentions that he has more than enough for the 150 or so pre-orders, and he’ll ship new orders first-come basis after the pre-orders are done.   http://www.unclehugo.com/prod/ah-lee-miller.php

In the face of this, we’re releasing the related Ambient Conditions chapbook in paper edition as soon as it can work through the Amazon.com  …. the ebook is still set to be published November 27.

And that’s the news this morning …

(4) LIMITED TIME BARGAIN. [Item by Daniel Dern.] Amazon Unlimited for $0.99 for two months –(remember to cancel before the period is up, it’s $9.99/month regularly… although there’s also a $29.97 for 6 months deal on this page.)

While I own an Amazon eReader — Kindle — I’m more likely to read it on my iPad or my non-Fire tablet, so I’ll splurge for the $0.99 deal.

And then do my best to remember to use it while I’ve got it!

(5) SETI. The John W. Kluge Center will host an online discussion of the latest thinking on the search for life and intelligence outside of Earth on December 3 at 10 a.m. Eastern. Register here:“Artificial Intelligence and the Search for Life in the Universe Tickets”.

Join the John W. Kluge Center for a discussion of the latest thinking on the search for life and intelligence outside of Earth.

This conversation, hosted by Blumberg Chair Susan Schneider, and featuring Caleb Scharf and Sarah Imari Walker, explores the relationship between intelligence, life, and consciousness, in biological and synthetic cases. It considers whether AI could be conscious, as well as the related epistemological questions of how to identify intelligence and consciousness in beings that are very different from us perceptually and cognitively. The speakers will consider philosophical issues about the nature of intelligence, discussing how to identify intelligence in biological life and AI, and how our understanding of these areas informs the search for life in the universe and our ability to detect it.

This event is cosponsored by Florida Atlantic University, Initiative on the Future of Mind.

Susan Schneider leads the Florida Atlantic University (FAU) Initiative on the Future Mind, and is the William F. Dietrich Professor of Philosophy at FAU. She is the most recent Baruch S. Blumberg NASA/Library of Congress Chair in Astrobiology, Exploration, and Scientific innovation at the Kluge Center.

Caleb Scharf is Director of Astrobiology at Columbia University, New York as well as a research scientist studying exoplanets, exomoons, and the nature of environments suitable for life.

Sara Imari Walker is Deputy Director of the Beyond Center for Fundamental Concepts in Science at Arizona State University (ASU), Associate Professor at the School of Earth and Space Exploration at ASU, Deputy Director, Beyond Center for Fundamental Concepts in Science at ASU, and an associate professor at ASU

(6) READY TO MOVE IN. Suzanne Walker’s addition to the series hosted by Sarah Gailey — “Personal Canons: Lloyd Alexander”.

…Somewhere during that period, I picked up a book called The Black Cauldron, by Lloyd Alexander. It was my first introduction to a secondary fantasy world so vast and lush that I could imagine myself in it with remarkable ease. Based loosely off Welsh mythology, the world of Prydain contains undead soldiers, evil witches, giant cats, dwarves, and giant winged birds called gwythiants.

I was enchanted in a way I’d never been with any other book before. I wanted to live in this world, despite its rather high body count. I wanted to pick up a sword and ride on a horse and follow Taran of Caer Dallben on his adventures. I discovered the book was actually the second in a series, and quickly devoured the rest of the Chronicles of Prydain. 

Lloyd Alexander’s books are what made me fall in love with fantasy. Theybecame a direct line to Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, Garth Nix, Tamora Pierce, and Megan Whalen Turner. I might have discovered those books eventually, but Prydain was my first and best love. They introduced me to the themes that so often appear in fantasy, ones I cherish and hold dear. 

(7) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

  • November 22, 2012 — The animated Rise Of The Guardians enjoyed its premiere. It was directed by Peter Ramsey and produced by Christina Steinberg Nancy Bernstein from a  screenplay by David Lindsay-Abaire. The feature starred the voice talents of Hugh Jackman, Jude Law and Isla Fisher. It was based on William Joyce’s The Guardians of Childhood series, it really bombed though most critics at least grudgingly liked it. However, the audience rating at Rotten Tomatoes is very healthy 80%. 

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]

  • Born November 22, 1862 – Warwick Goble.  Illustrator, mainly of children’s books or what was so thought.  First to illustrate The War of the Worlds.  I’ve found only a few covers made during his lifetime; at least a hundred fifty interiors.  Here is Vector 202 re-using a War of Worlds interior.  Here is another for War of Worlds.  Here is the 2014 reprint of Green Willow (1910), with his forty watercolor-over-ink interiors.  Here is a Pook Press biographical page showing several reprints.  Here is a 2008 Dover edition of reprints.  Here is The Star Lovers.  Much more outside our field, e.g. Van Milligan’s 1906 Constantinople, Fletcher’s 1919 Cistercians in Yorkshire.  (Died 1943) [JH]
  • Born November 22, 1896 – Joel Townsley Rogers.  A dozen short stories for us; his fine novelette “Beyond Space and Time” is in Boucher’s Treasury vol. 1 (don’t complain of its 1938 style, it’s a masterwork; Boucher was no dope), “No Matter Where You Go” is in Mills’ 9th Best from “[The Magazine of] Fantasy & Science Fiction”.  Four other novels, hundreds of shorter stories.  JTR was one of the first U.S. Navy flyers.  (Died 1984) [JH]
  • Born November 22, 1932 Robert Vaughn. His best-known genre work was as Napoleon Solo in The Man from U.N.C.L.E. with other genre work being in Teenage CavemanStarship InvasionsThe Lucifer ComplexVirusHangar 18Battle Beyond the StarsSuperman III C.H.U.D. II: Bud the C.H.U.D. (seriously who penned that awful title?), Transylvania Twist and Witch Academy. God did he do some truly awful films. Oh, and he wrote the introduction to The Man from U.N.C.L.E. series companion that came out a generation after the series aired. (Died 2016.) (CE) 
  • Born November 22, 1940 – Roy Thomas, 80.  Took over Alter Ego from Jerry Bails, appeared in DC and Marvel lettercols; going pro, worked a while for Weisinger at DC, then Marvel: Sgt. Fury, Doctor Strange, Conan, the Avengers, Spider-Man, Fantastic Four, first successor to Lee as editor-in-chief.  Back to DC: Wonder Woman, revival of the Justice Society.  Marvel again and independents.  Saw Lee about RT’s Stan Lee Story 48 hours before Lee died.  Inkpot.  Roll of Honor in the Eagle Awards.  One of Fifty Who Made DC Great.  Eisner Hall of Fame.  [JH]
  • Born November 22, 1940 Terry Gilliam, 80. He’s directed many films of which the vast majority are firmly genre. I think I’ve seen most of them though I though I’ve not seen The Man Who Killed Don QuixoteTidelandThe Zero Theorem or The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus. I’ve seen everything else.  Yes, I skipped past his start as the animator for Monty Python’s Flying Circus which grew out of his work for the children’s series Do Not Adjust Your Set which had the staff of Eric Idle, Terry Jones, and Michael Palin. Though he largely was the animator in the series and the films, he did occasionally take acting roles according to his autobiography, particularly roles no one else wanted such those requiring extensive makeup.  He’s also co-directed a number of scenes.  Awards? Of course. Twelve Monkeys is the most decorated followed by Brazil with two and Time Bandits and The Fisher King which each have but one. He’s not won any Hugos to date.  My favorite films by him? Oh, the one I’ve watched the most is The Adventures of Baron Munchausen followed by Time Bandits. (CE) 
  • Born November 22, 1943 William Kotzwinkle, 77. Fata Morgana might be in my opinion his best novel though Doctor Rat which he won the World Fantasy Award for is in the running for that honor as well. And his short stories of which there are many are quite excellent too.  Did you know Kotzwinkle wrote the novelization of the screenplay for E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial? The usual digital suspects are well stocked with his books. (CE) 
  • Born November 22, 1949 John Grant, 71. He’d make the Birthday list solely for being involved in the stellar Hugo Award winning Encyclopedia of Fantasy which also won a Mythopoeic Award.  And he did win another well-deserved Hugo Award for Best Related Work for The Chesley Awards for Science Fiction and Fantasy Art: A Retrospective.  Most of his short fiction has been set in the Lone Wolf universe though I see that he did a Judge Dredd novel too. (CE) 
  • Born November 22, 1953 – Marly Youmans, 67.  (Pronounced like “yeoman’s”.)  Ten novels, two dozen shorter stories, poems (five books so far).  Interviewed in ClarkesworldLightspeedWaylines.  Six of her books collaborated with Clive Hicks-Jenkins who decorated; MY did title poems for The Book of Ystwyth: Six Poets on the Art of CHJ.  Website here (“Seek Giacometti’s Palace at 4 a.m.  Go back two hours”).  [JH] 
  • Born November 22, 1957 Kim Yale. Married to John Ostrander until 1993 when she died of breast cancer, she was a writer who’s first work was in the New America series, a spin-off of Truman’s Scout series. With Truman, she developed the Barbara Gordon Oracle character, created the Manhunter series, worked on Suicide Squad, and was an editor at D.C. where she oversaw such licenses as Star Trek: The Next Generation. Oh,and for First Comics, she co-wrote much of Grimjack with her husband. (Died 1993.) (CE)
  • Born November 22, 1958 Jamie Lee Curtis, 62. Can we agree that she was the best Scream Queen for her film debut in the 1978  Halloween film in which she played the role of Laurie Strode? No? Well, that’s my claim. She followed up with yet more horror films, The Fog and Prom Niight. In all, she’s the only character that survives. She would reprise the role of Laurie in four sequels, including Halloween H20, Halloween: ResurrectionHalloween II and Halloween III: Season of the Witch.  She shows up in up of my fav SF films, The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension as Sandra Banzai but you’ll need to see the director’s extended version as she’s only there in that version. Is True Lies genre? Probably not but for her performance, Curtis won the Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy and the Saturn Award for Best Actress. Damn impressive I’d say. No, I’m not listing all her films here as OGH would likely start growling. Suffice to say she’s had a very impressive career. (CE)
  • Born November 22, 1980 – Daniele Lanzarotta, 40.  A dozen novels, four shorter stories.  Recently some film work.  Has read The Old Man and the Sea, looks forward to Dracula.  Hockey fan.  [JH]
  • Born November 22, 1982 – Maryse Meijer, 38.  One novel, two collections; novella “Northwood” separately published.  I thought this interview after a reading MM headlined more helpful than her Website, but what do I know?  [JH]

(9) COMICS SECTION.

  • At Dilbert, naming calls.

(10) ANOTHER THEORY OF FANDOM. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] This is a passage from Isaac Asimov’s In Memory Yet Green (1979) about how he joined fandom only to learn that in 1938 the Queens Science Fiction Club and the Futurians were engaged in a titanic fan feud.

Science-fiction writer L. Sprague de Camp (another dear friend of mine) has…developed a theory of human contentiousness that I rather like. He points out that in the long history of human groups in the food-gathering stage. a multiplying tribe was always in danger. A group of fifty could not gather any more ground than a group of twenty-five could, and would not find any more food.  Therefore, the fifty might starve where the twenty-five would not.

If the fifty were full of loving kindness and brotherly affection and could not bear to break up, they would be in serious trouble.  If they were contentious individuals who tended to split up, each smaller group, staking out a territory of its own, might survive.  Hence contentiousness had survival value and flourished, and still exists among mankind despite the fact that ever since agriculture became the most important activity of man, co-operation, and not contentiousness, has been required.

Sprague says that if the contentiousness of small groups is to be studied seriously, no better start could be made than to read and study (however painful that might be) The Immortal Storm [by Sam Moskowitz].

(11) LIGHTNING STRIKING AGAIN AND AGAIN AND AGAIN. “Scientists Say Laser Device Can Make Lightning Strike Specific Targets” reports The Futurist.

An international team of researchers says that small lasers could be used to guide lightning strikes — much like Thor’s legendary hammer Mjölnir.

“It turns out that to deliver particles, you do not need high-intensity lasers, even low intensity like your laser pointer will be already enough,” Andrey Miroshnichenko, a researcher at the University of New South Wales in Canberra, Australia, told Agence France Presse of the work.

The team says it’s already tested the concept in labs using devices known as hollow lasers, which in effect create a pipe of light. These lasers can short circuit storm clouds and trigger lightning strikes by heating micro-particles in the air.

(12) KEEP YOUR IDEAS IN CIRCULATION. WIRED finds there’s “A New Way to Plug a Human Brain Into a Computer: via Veins”.

… On Wednesday, a team of scientists and engineers showed results from a promising new approach. It involves mounting electrodes on an expandable, springy tube called a stent and threading it through a blood vessel that leads to the brain. In tests on two people, the researchers literally went for the jugular, running a stent-tipped wire up that vein in the throat and then into a vessel near the brain’s primary motor cortex, where they popped the spring. The electrodes snuggled into the vessel wall and started sensing when the people’s brains signaled their intention to move—and sent those signals wirelessly to a computer, via an infrared transmitter surgically inserted in the subjects’ chests. In an article published in the Journal of NeuroInterventional Surgery, the Australian and US researchers describe how two people with paralysis due to amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (better known as Lou Gehrig’s disease) used such a device to send texts and fool around online by brain-control alone….

(13) DOWN THESE MEAN STREETS. Mental Floss simulates a trip on America’s “Most Haunted Roads”.

What could be scarier than driving down a dark road at night? Driving down one of these dark roads at night. If any of the below routes—compiled by Commercial Truck Trader—pop up on your GPS this spooky season, consider finding an alternate way to your destination.

1. JEREMY SWAMP ROAD // SOUTHBURY, CONNECTICUT

Jeremy Swamp Road and several other streets in southwestern Connecticut are said to be frequented by Melon Heads, creatures that, according to the New England Historical Society, live in wooded areas and “look like small humanoids with oversized heads” that “survive by eating small animals, stray cats and human flesh, usually the flesh of teenagers.” Some say the Melon Heads are the result of inbreeding, with others theorizing that they escaped from local hospitals or asylums….

(14) ESCAPE CLAWS. Den of Geek reminds us never to underestimate “The Importance of Cats in Horror Cinema”.

… Exempting terrors such as Nine Lives and Grumpy Cat’s Worst Christmas from the canon of feline representation, these everyday animals are turned to all sorts of purposes in horror, and seeing as it’s Halloween, we’ve been thinking about some of those different portrayals. There’s a famous storytelling maxim that states characters should ‘save the cat’ early on in the story, but in horror, they more often need saving from the cat.

What follows is not a complete, exhaustive cat-alogue of their screen history in the genre. We haven’t included one-off models of moggyness, such as the 2010 home invasion film Burning Bright, which contrives a Lemony Snicket-esque tower of circumstances to put a live tiger in a boarded up house with a teenager and her autistic brother during a hurricane. Instead, we’re using key examples to look at nine major tropes for cats in horror, whether lucky or unlucky; natural or supernatural; good or evil…

2. Revenants

Getting onto actual feline characters, there are a fair few films that position cats as zombies or revenants, to one end or another, usually to differing degrees of gross-out.

For instance, on one end of the scale, we have Thackery Binx in Disney’s Hocus Pocus, with his immortal soul trapped inside a black cat by the wicked Sanderson sisters. He gets flattened by a tyre at one point, but the curse affords him a swift return. On the gorier end, Re-Animator‘s Herbert West demonstrates his ghastly green serum on his roommate’s dearly departed pet Rufus, though it’s unclear if he was already dead when West got hold of him….

(15) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In “Honest Game Trailers:  Genshin Impact” on YouTube, Fandom Games says that this game has so many micropayments that it’s perfect for people who played trading card games as a teenager and can say to themselves, “I’ve been ripped off this way since I was a kid and I’m not stopping now!”

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

Pixel Scroll 5/13/19 She Loves The Pixel’s Uncle, Yeah, Yeah

(1) MCEWAN REBUTTED. Mark Tiedemann tees off on Ian McEwan and other offenders in “The Myopeia of the Lit Club” at The Proximal Eye.

… Ian McEwan, who has published a novel about artificial intelligence and somehow feels he is the first to discover that this thing has serious implications for people to be expressed through literature. Thus he now joins a long line of literary snobs who have “borrowed” the trappings of science fiction even as they take a dump on the genre. I would say they misunderstand it, but that presumes they have read any. What seems more likely is they’ve seen some movies, talked to some people, maybe listened to a lecture or two about the genre, and then decided “Well, if these unwashed hacks can do this, I can do it ten times better and make it actual, you know, art.”

…I have always thought that people who are dismissive toward SF have a problem imagining the world as someday being fundamentally different. By that I mean, things will so change that they, if they were instantly transported into that future, will be unable to function. Things will be radically different, not only technologically but culturally and therefore even the givens of human interaction will seem alien.

That is the meat, bone, and gristle of science fiction and I would like someone to tell me how that it not “dealing with the effects of technology on human problems.”

(2) KRAMER SIDEBAR. The judge who had Ed Kramer checking whether her work computer was hacked is in trouble: “Judge Kathryn Schrader barred from hearing criminal cases for 60 days” says the Gwinnett Daily Post.

Gwinnett County Superior Court Judge Kathryn Schrader is reportedly not allowed to hear any cases prosecuted by Gwinnett County District Attorney Danny Porter’s office for at least the next two months while the Georgia Bureau of Investigation sorts out a complicated dispute between the two public officials.

Porter confirmed news reports that a visiting Fulton County judge issued the ruling barring Schrader from presiding over cases for 60 days during a hearing Thursday.

The ruling stems from an unusual case in which Schrader accused Porter of hacking her work computer, and he in turn raised concerns that the county’s computer network may have been compromised. He then asked that she recuse herself from any cases his office is prosecuting.

…The unusual case first surfaced in March after it was revealed that Schrader hired private investigator T.J. Ward because she believed her work computer was being hacked. Ward, in turn, brought in convicted sex offender Ed Kramer, who Ward said has computer training, to look into the matter.

(3) OREO NEWS. Glows in the dark, no less!

(4) FIELD REPORT. Joe Siclari’s FANAC Flash summarizes their accomplishments at Corflu 2019.

We took the FANAC scanning station to Corflu FIAWOL last weekend, and scanned 3500-4000 pages (the count is not complete yet). We received material to scan and help from many Corfluvians, and are getting the scans up  on line. So far, we have a little over 1,800 of those pages online. They’re marked in the index pages as “scanned at Corflu 2019”. Fanzines scanned at Corflu include Terry Carr’s Innuendo, John D. Berry’s Hot Shit, Charles Lee Riddle’s Peon, Ron Bennett’s Ploy, some of Forry Ackerman and Morojo’s Voice of the Imagi-Nation, and lots more. At Corflu, we also received scans from Rob Hansen’s OCR project. There are some gems there too. Watch the “What’s New” on the Fanac.org page to get details on what’s been put online.

FANAC.org was given the FAAn award for Best Online Fan Activity at Corflu! It was wonderful to receive this recognition. The team on Fanac.org, Fancyclopedia.org, and and the Fanac YouTube channel (https://youtube.com/c/fanacfanhistory) is thrilled!

You can find Rob Jackson’s recording of the Corflu Saturday afternoon programs at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RUstxv0rmRk&feature=youtu.be

(5) THE ORVILLE IS GO FOR ANOTHER ORBIT. ScienceFiction.com fills fans in on the renewal: “Seth MacFarlane’s ‘The Orville’ Will Return For A Third Season”.

The series had quite a few eyes on it with 3.16 million total live viewers combined with a 0.75 in the 18-49 demographic it hit the sweet spot for commercials. On top of that, the show gained a $15.8 million TV tax credit for the third season which was up $1.3 million from season 2. This was a nice bonus that was nothing to scoff at.

(6) BIOPIC APPROVED. At Amazing Stories, Dianne Lynn Gardner gives it five stars — “Tolkien: A Movie Review.”

…If I were to sum up the movie in one word, that word would be “sensitive”. I was brought to tears in a few places and I think those who have the sensitivity of an artist will enjoy the film. It’s no Lord of the Rings, no. Do not expect it to be. This is a story about a compassionate man with revolutionary ideas concerning the world around him, and his journey to tell the tale of evil and the fight for survival which often can only be heard through parables.

(7) DS9 NEWS. CBS News interviews director Ira Steven Behr and actress Nana Visitor about the new documentary, “What We Left Behind: Looking Back at Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.”

(8) BOLGEO TRIBUTE. The family obituary for Tim Bolgeo, who died yesterday, is online here.

…A lifetime reader of Science Fiction and Fantasy, Uncle Timmy was Founder and Chairman of Liberty Con 1 – 25, an original Board Member and Chairman of ChattaCon 7 – 11, and a staff member at numerous conventions throughout the southeast. He was the long running Editor/Publisher of the Fanzines The LibertyCon Newsletter (1987-1997) and The Revenge of Hump Day! (1997 to 2018)….

(9) GREEN OBIT. Patrice Green, fan and wife of SF author Joseph L. Green, died May 5, “after deciding that the glioblastoma she’s battled for 2 1.2 years had had enough,” says son-in-law Guy H. Lillian III. “She was deeply interested in Genealogy and had made several trips to Europe tracing her family roots. Glorious human being.”

(10) UPTON OBIT. Ilaine Vignes Upton (1952-2019), a New Orleans fan deeply involved in past DeepSouthCons, passed away April 26. She became a bankruptcy lawyer who practiced in Virginia.

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born May 13, 1937 Roger Zelazny. Where do I start? The Amber Chronicles are a favorite as is the Isle of The DeadTo Die in Italbar, and well, there’s very there’s very little by him that I can’t pick him and enjoy for a night’s reading. To my knowledge there’s only one thing he recorded reading and that’s a book he said was one of his favorite works, A Night in the Lonesome October. (Died 1995)
  • Born May 13, 1945 Maria Tatar, 74. Folklorist who that if you’re not familiar with, you should be. She’s written, among several works, The Annotated Brothers GrimmThe Annotated Peter Pan and The Annotated Hans Christian Andersen which is reviewed here on Green Man.
  • Born May 13, 1946 – Marv Wolfman, 73.  Editor at both Marvel and DC, and writer of comics, animation, television, novels and video games.  Most known for The New Teen Titans and Crisis on Infinite Earths, with George Pérez. Creator of Blade, and more characters adapted into movies, TV, toys, games and animation than any other comics writer except Stan Lee.  Winner of Inkpot and Eagle Awards, CBG Awards, 2007 Scribe Award for his novelization Superman Returns, and 2011 Will Eisner Hall of Fame Award. Notable fan activity was publishing Stephen King in Wolfman’s horror fanzine Stories of Suspense.
  • Born May 13, 1947 Stephen R. Donaldson, 72. I suspect y’all know him from The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant, his long running series. He’s got, to my surprise, a sf series called The Gap Cycle which he says “in part to be a reworking of Wagner’s Ring Cycle.” H’h. 
  • Born May 13, 1949 Zoë Wanamaker, 70. She forms one of the crowd in “State of Decay”, a Fourth Doctor tale. She’s Elle in The Raggedy Rawney and Madam Rolanda Hooch In Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. She’s Clarice Groan in the BBC Gormenghast series which I really should see. And I note that she made a return appearance on Doctor Who during the time of the Tenth Doctor in The End of the World” and “New Earth” episodes. 
  • Born May 13, 1951 Gregory Frost, 68. His retelling of The Tain is marvellous. Pair it with Ciaran Carson and China Miéville’s takes onthe samelegendfor an interesting look at taking an legend and remaking it through modern fiction writing. Fitcher’s Brides, his Bluebeard and Fitcher’s Bird fairy tales, is a fantastic novel!
  • Born May 13, 1957 Frances Barber, 62. Madame Kovarian during the time of the Eleventh Doctor. Fittingly she played Lady Macbeth in Macbeth at the Royal Exchange in Manchester. I’ve got her doing one-offs on Space Precinct, Red Dwarf and The IT Crowd
  • Born May 13, 1958 Bruce Byfield, 61. No idea if he has academic training, but he certainly has a fascination with Leiber. He wrote Witches of the Mind: A Critical Study of Fritz Leiber which was nominated for a Locus Award for Best Non-Fiction, and many fascination sounding essays on Lieber and his fiction including “The Allure of the Eccentric in the Poetry and Fiction of Fritz Leiber” and “Fafhrd and Fritz”.
  • Born May 13, 1964 Stephen Colbert, 55. Ubernerd. Currently hosting charity showings of Tolkien. Genre credits a cameo as a spy in The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, the voice of Paul Peterson in Mr. Peabody & Sherman and the voice of President Hathaway in Monsters vs. Aliens.  

(12) COMICS SECTION.

  • Brevity gets a joke out of Fred and Barney.

(13) HOW TO CHECK THE LIBRARY FIRST. Lifehacker advises how to “See if a Book You’re About to Buy Is Available at Your Local Library Using This Extension” –  specifically Library Extension. It’s compatible with Chrome and Firefox.

The way the extension works is pretty simple: Just scroll through Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or Goodreads as you normally would. When you do, the extension will display where you can find the book at a local library as well. The extension has been available for Amazon for a bit now, but has expanded support over the years to additional spots as well.

(14) POLL CATS. There must be a reason it isn’t easy to get non-English speakers to vote in a poll on my blog. I’m sure it will come to me….

(15) ANIMAL ART. Coming tomorrow to The Getty Center in Los Angeles:

Book of Beasts: The Bestiary in the Medieval World

May 14–August 18, 2019

A vast throng of animals tumble, soar, and race through the pages of the bestiary, a popular medieval book describing the beasts of the world. Abounding with vibrant and fascinating images, the bestiary brought creatures to life before the eyes of readers. The beasts also often escaped from its pages to inhabit a glittering array of other objects. With over 100 works on display, this major loan exhibition will transport visitors into the world of the medieval bestiary.

(16) GRAPE EXPECTATIONS. Delish reports “There’s A Space-Themed Restaurant Coming To Epcot This Year” .

The next time you visit Epcot, you may be able to dine in outer space. Two years after announcing a space-themed restaurant would be opening near the Mission: SPACE ride, Disney World is finally gearing up to open the doors. While there’s no actual stratosphere breaking involved, from the looks of it, the dining room will look and feel like you’re on a space ship.

(17) SILVER LINING. Ron Koertge, South Pasadena’s Poet Laureate, was honored by the Independent Publisher’s Book Award with a silver medal for his illustrated books of poems about the secret life  of the Greek gods – Olympusville. 

Alice Kleman’s clever illustration of gods like Zeus and Persephone in modern dress contributes to the  magnetism of this book by a popular and prolific poet.   Gene Yang, recipient of a MacArthur “Genius” Grant, says, “Ron Koertge and Alicia Kleman will help you see  Mount Olympus with new eyes.  Who knew those old gods could be so funny, so charming and so disarmingly tragic.” 

The book is available a Vroman’s or directly from Red Hen Press. 

(18) AUTUMN ARRIVALS. Should you be so inclined, The Hollywood Reporter has a roundup: “Fall TV 2019: Watch Trailers for All the New Broadcast Shows”.

Includes Next 

An internal favorite of new Fox Entertainment CEO Charlie Collier, the drama is a fact-based thriller about the emergence of a rogue AI that combines action with an examination of how tech transforms culture in a way that isn’t always understandable. Manny Coto (24) penned the script and exec produces alongside John Requa and Glenn Ficarra. Mad Men grad John Slattery stars and reunites with former AMC president Collier on the drama. The series hails from 20th Century Fox TV and Fox Entertainment.
Time slot: Midseason

(19) ARMY UNPLUGGED. The Verge: “The US Army cut power to its largest military base to test reactions to a cyberattack”. Tagline: “This week’s outage at Fort Bragg was designed to test the ‘real world reactions’ of a simulated attack.”

Fort Bragg, the US Army’s largest base issued an apology earlier this week following an unannounced exercise to see what would happen in the event of a cyberattack. The base lost power for 12 hours on Wednesday and Thursday [24–25 April], and caused some confusion and concern on the base. 

Army officials told the Charlotte Observer that the exercise was designed to “identify shortcomings in our infrastructure, operations and security,” and wasn’t announced to the public in order to “replicate likely real-world reactions by everyone directly associated with the installation.”

[…] In recent years, officials have become increasingly concerned that the country’s power grid and infrastructure is vulnerable to cyberattacks. Such attacks aren’t unheard of: a couple of years ago, Ukrainian power plants and airports experienced such attacks, and US officials have said that they’ve detected Russian-linked actors targeting US facilities

(20) JUST A POWERFUL SUGGESTION. Inverse: “Origin of Loch Ness Monster and Other Sea Serpents Traced to Odd Phenomenon”. Tagline: “A form of mania gripped the world.”

The Loch Ness Monster is perhaps our most famous sea monster, known for drowning locals in front of saints and avoiding motorcycles on its early morning cruise back to the loch. But Scotland’s Nessie is just one of the many, many sea monsters people have allegedly seen. In the 19th century, saying you saw a sea monster was very common indeed. And the reason why this happened, a new study in Earth Science History argues, is based on something very real.

The collective illusion — that creatures in the water were actually mysterious monsters of the deep — was driven by so-called “dino-mania,” researchers reported this week. This conclusion is based on their statistical analysis of the nature of sea monster reports from 1801 to 2015.

[…] They are the first scientists to seriously test a theory first posited by American science fiction writer L. Sprague de Camp — famous for coining the abbreviation “E.T.” — in 1968. His hypothesis, reprinted in the study, is this:

After Mesozoic reptiles became well-known, reports of sea serpents, which until then had tended towards the serpentine, began to describe the monster as more and more resembling a Mesozoic reptile than like a plesiosaur or mosasaur.

(21) SCARY ROBOT VIDEO OF THE DAY. In “IHMC Atlas Autonomous Path Planning Across Narrow Terrain” on YouTube, software developer IHMC Robotics showed how they programmed a large Boston Dynamics Atlas robot to walk across very tiny blocks.

[Thanks to Joe Siclari, Mike Kennedy, Chip Hitchcock, Guy H. Lillian III, Chris M. Barkley, Daniel Dern, Nancy Collins, Michael J. Lowrey, Martin Morse Wooster, Cat Eldridge, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Carl Slaughter, Michael Toman, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Dave Clark.]

Pixel Scroll 7/3/18 Too Bad I Don’t Have A Scrollographic Memory

(1) THE PRICE OF LIBERTY. It isn’t cheap — Gizmodo has the story: “USPS Ordered to Pay $3.5 Million After Putting Artist’s Weird ‘Sexier’ Lady Liberty on Stamps”.

The USPS put a Getty Images photo of artist Robert S. Davidson’s Las Vegas version of the sculpture on roughly 3.5 billion stamps before the incongruity was noticed in 2011. In his original civil complaint, art market platform Artsy wrote last year, Davidson wrote the USPS never asked permission and that his version is materially different than the one from 1875 and thus protected under copyright—specifically that it is “more ‘fresh-faced,’ ‘sultry’ and even ‘sexier’ than the original located in New York.” (Davidson very weirdly added that he took the inspiration for this sex bomb Lady Liberty from, umm, “certain facial features of his close female relatives.”)

(2) BRAM STOKER HISTORY TOUR. The Horror Writers Association has revamped their Bram Stoker Awards site. HWA President Lisa Morton says:

For the first time ever, you can now find all the information you need on the awards gathered in one place, with each winner/nominee listed individually, cross-linked to year and category. The site also includes galleries of photos going all the way back to the beginning of the awards, trivia, rules, and more.

…We expect this site to be a continuing work in progress as we add more data and fun stuff.

As the “Fun Facts” article shows, Stephen King is the Babe Ruth of the Stoker Awards:

  • The top number of nominations by any one author: Stephen King, with 32 total nominations.
  • The top number of wins by any one author: Stephen King, with 12 total wins.
  • The top number of losses by any one author: Stephen King, with 20 total losses….

(3) LEAKAGE. ScienceFiction.com says the Time Lords are in hot pursuit of the leaker of the missing minute: “BBC Goes To Court To Find Who Leaked ‘Doctor Who’ Footage Of Jodie Whittaker”.

‘Doctor Who’ fans are breathless with anticipation, awaiting the first trailers or clips from the upcoming eleventh season.  Excitement is extra high this time around because for the first time in the show’s 54-year history, said Doctor will be a woman, Jodie Whittaker.  But fans want to abide by the BBC’s plans to unveil what they choose to at their discretion.  (Whittaker will be present for a panel at San Diego Comic-Con, so chances are high that there will be some new footage shown.)  But when a pirate released a minute-long clip featuring the first scenes of Whittaker’s thirteenth Doctor on American messaging app Tapatalk, which then found its way to Twitter, fans revolted, attacking the poster for spoiling the new season.  The BBC quickly had the post deleted but they aren’t stopping there.  They want to know who leaked the footage and they’re going after them!

The British Broadcasting Company “requested a clerk at the California federal court issue a subpoena to Tapatalk, a mobile community platform.”  The BBC is demanding that records be turned over which could help identify the responsible persons.  They have also enlisted the aid of law firm Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton, which has made a name for itself over the past few years for going after pirates of major events like these.

(4) WORLDCON 76 PROGRAM. The committee is making a list and checking it twice —

(5) THE SHEEP LOOK OUT. Let a Filer be your guide. “I was asked to write a travel blog for the Dublin 2019 site,” he says. The result is: “Touring Tuesdays: Round Renvyle with Nigel Quinlan”.

This week Nigel Quinlan takes us into the wilds of Connemara…

Drive vaguely and meanderingly northwest out of Galway city, following signs for Connemara or Clifden or Sheep On The Road or Invasive Species Do Not Eat. Through Oughterard with its pleasant riverside park on the far side, Maam Cross with a rather musty replica of the cottage from John Ford’s The Quiet Man and the film itself on repeat in the bar at the hotel, turning right down the genuinely spectacular Inagh Valley where your attention will be divided between the splendid bleak majesties of the open boglands, the rocky glories of the mountains and watching out for the sodding sheep that are ON THE ROAD.

(6) HOW TO VOTE FOR AN SF AWARD. The SF & Fantasy Poetry Association’s SPECPO blog tries to make “Approaching the Elgin Voting” less daunting and more accessible. Between the Elgin’s two categories, members have 51 finalists to consider. SFPA President Bryan Thao Worra’s guidance could also be adapted for use by newbie Hugo voters.

History demonstrates that often, readers, reviewers and literati of any given age have varying degrees of success identifying works of enduring merit and literary impact. Who actually survives into the next decades, let alone the next centuries as “must read” authors is often very surprising, whether it’s in mainstream literature, pulp fiction and genre offerings.

That being said, here are some grounding principles:

  • You don’t have to read a book that’s not grabbing you all of the way through. With a full-length chapbook or book, we’re looking for works that are consistently outstanding, not one filled with one amazing gem to rival “The Raven” and 99 uninspiring verses filling out the rest of the set.
  • This isn’t the search for the greatest of all time, but within the set of this year. You don’t necessarily need to fret about how well a given book stands up against the great works of the last 5 to 100 years. You can leave that concern at the door. But are you reading a book where you can see yourself recommending it to another, and returning to it regularly yourself?
  • Try breaking your options into batches. Picking 3 out of 30 is difficult, but when one starts by sorting it into more manageable batches of approximately 5 to 6 books, it becomes easier to pick your 2 favorites of that batch, and then in the final set, identifying your three favorites.
  • Each member has their own tastes, preferred literary traditions and forms, and if you come across a text that isn’t meeting your tastes, that’s fine. Fans of a particular style are more likely to vote it up into the effective running than those who aren’t. So if you’re not a scifaiku fan, feel free to weigh in if you want, but you can also “sit it out” on that text if you don’t feel strongly about what you’re reading.

(7) LEARNING CURVE. “11 Essential Books On Writing, Based On The Genre You Want To Write” at The Bustle.

Now, before we dig into these books, please note that I’m talking about genre and not subgenre. No matter if you write steampunk, space westerns, or post-apocalyptic stories, you’re looking for the Science Fiction recommendation below. Similarly, whether you want to make your mark on sword and sorcery, paranormal, or grimdark, the book listed under Fantasy is for you. I know that all six of those subgenres are very clearly defined and different from one another, but I’m aiming for broad utility here.

For example, if you want to write Fantasy, read Wonderbook by Jeff VanderMeer.

(8) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • July 3, 1985 Back to the Future was released.
  • July 3, 1996 Independence Day landed in theaters.

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS

  • Born July 3—Tom Cruise, 56. Genre films include Interview with the Vampire: The Vampire Chronicles, Minority Report, War of the Worlds, OblivionEdge of Tomorrow and, shudder, The Mummy.
  • Born July 3 – Olivia Munn, 38. A surprising number of roles in genre films including Insanitarium, Scarecrow Gone Wild, Iron Man 2X-Men: Apocalypse and the latest Predator reboot.

(10) RETRO LAW AND ORDER. David Doering rediscovered these forgotten charges against L. Ron Hubbard in Fantasy News Annual, v. 7, issue 1, whole no. 150, July 27, 1941.

HUBBARD MAKES MURDEROUS ATTACK ON SHEA!

PERPETRATOR OF WEIRD LITERARY CRIME SEEKS REFUGE IN U.S. ARMED FORCES!

Harold Shea, popular fantasy hero, created by L. Sprague de.Camp and Fletcher Pratt, was subjected in the August UNKNOWN to an assault with intent to kill by L. Ron (“Golden Egg”) Hubbard, author of the lead novel, “The Case Of the Friendly Corpse”.  The red-haired adventurer-author caused his competitor’s character to be seized and swallowed by a gigantic snake into which a magic wand carried by one of his minor characters turned.

Shea’s creators, however, with fiendish snickers, have announced that they are taking suitable steps to rehabilitate their hero, and obtain revenge for this bit of outrageous literary impertinence, They are working on a story which will tell what r?e?a?l?l?y? happened to Shea in the College of the Unholy Names, site of the crime. (This institution is headed by the President J. Klark, believed to be the astral body of Dr. John D. Clark, well-known Philadelphia fan.)

“Just wait”, sneered Pratt, “till you see what we do to Hubbard’s characters!” They explained that, as the explorer and bear-tamer is now Lieut. Hubbard, USN, he probably would not have time to reply in his turn.

“You see”, leered de Camp, “we’re altruists. That means we believe in doing unto others what they would like to do unto us, and doing it first!”

(11) ON LOCATION. Joe Flood, writing in the Washington Post, says he enjoyed watching the Wonder Woman shoot at the Hirshhorn Museum last weekend, but “what wasn’t so cool was Wonder Woman 1984 shutting down Pennsylvania Avenue all weekend long, blocking off bike lanes with no alternate accommodations.” — “There are no superheroes in D.C.”

And then, there were Gadot and Pine, wearing the same clothes as the stand-ins but anointed with the familiarity of stars. You know them, but you don’t. Their images are the only things truly accessible.

They duplicated what the stand-ins did. Walk, talk, react. Pine gawked at whatever was in the sky but with considerably more subtlety than the stand-in. That’s probably why he’s the movie star.

(12) BAGGED THEIR LIMIT. A handsome hunting credential poses with its SJW:

(13) RECIPE FOR HUMOR.

(14) MARVEL PANELS AT SDCC. If you’ll be at San Diego Comic-Con this month you’ll have a chance to see these Marvel Comics panels.

MARVEL: Making Comics the Marvel Way
Thursday 7/19/18, 12:00pm-1:00pm
Room 25ABC

Editor-in-Chief C.B. Cebulski and Talent Scout Rickey Purdin join a multitude of Mighty Marvel Guests to take you behind-the-scenes and show you how a Marvel comic book is made! Learn about every aspect of production including writing, penciling, inking, coloring, lettering, editing, and more – with creators on hand to offer personal insights and anecdotes. If you’re interested in the ins-and-outs of the comic book industry, this is the one panel you can’t miss!

MARVEL COMICS: Spider-Man
Friday 7/20, 12:30-1:30pm
Room 5AB

Editor Nick Lowe with his Amazing Friends Nick Spencer (Amazing Spider-Man) and Donny Cates (Venom) swing into SDCC with all the hottest spider-news! Nick Spencer ushers in a new era for Spidey that takes the web-head back to basics, while all-new Venom writer Donny Cates lays out what’s in store for the symbiotic hero in both the past and present in his definitive take on the character. PLUS, learn the latest about your favorite spider-heroes from across time and space as they crawl closer and closer towards the Edge of Spider-Geddon!

MARVEL: Cup O’Joe – Marvel Knights 20th Anniversary
Friday 7/20, 1:30-2:30pm
Room 5AB

Join Joe and fellow comics legend Jimmy Palmiotti as they reflect on the industry-redefining MARVEL KNIGHTS imprint as it celebrates its 20th anniversary.  What was it like to pioneer this bold new storytelling style for Marvel’s heroes, and how has it impacted Marvel comics, movies, and television series over the last two decades?  Learn about all this and more at this must-attend retrospective – and bring your own burning questions!  NOT to be missed by any fan of the Mighty Marvel Manner!

MARVEL COMICS: Next Big Thing
Saturday 7/21, 1:45-2:45pm
Room 6A

Editor-in-Chief C.B. Cebulski and star Executive Editor Nick Lowe are joined by Donny Cates (Cosmic Ghost Rider, Death of Inhumans) and Margaret Stohl (Life of Captain Marvel) to discuss the startling stories and initiatives that are truly the NEXT BIG THINGS in the Marvel Universe!  In Fantastic Four, the Richards family is heading back to Earth, but they still have one more cosmic obstacle to overcome. Meanwhile, the specter of death hangs around the Inhumans and the Ghost Rider of a dark future in Donny Cates’ Death of Inhumans and Cosmic Ghost Rider. And as the Infinity Wars ignite, are any characters truly safe? All this, plus learn more about the definitive origin of Captain Marvel as Margaret Stohl opens up about Life of Captain Marvel!  If you want to learn about the biggest Marvel stories of 2018, this is THE panel not to miss!

MARVEL COMICS: Meet the Editor-in-Chief!
Saturday 7/21, 3:00pm-4:00pm
Room 6A

This is your chance to meet the new head of editorial at Marvel! In this exclusive one-on-one interview led by Skottie Young (Deadpool), freshly-minted Editor-in-Chief C.B. Cebulski will talk about anything and everything involved in what’s next for Marvel. Want to know where to search for the Infinity Stones? Dying to find out what’s next for Wolverine? What does Forbush Man really look like without his helmet? Ask C.B. these questions and more in the Q&A!  PLUS – don’t miss a surprise exclusive giveaway variant comic!

MARVEL: True Believers*
Sunday 7/22, 10:00am-11:00am
Indigo Ballroom, Hilton San Diego Bayfront

Join Executive Editor Nick Lowe along with creators Ryan North (Unbeatable Squirrel Girl), Robbie Thompson (Spider-Man/Deadpool), and Jeremy Whitley (Unstoppable Wasp) for a private panel discussion of what’s happening inside the Marvel Universe.  Get FREE merchandise, never-before-seen sneak peeks of upcoming comics, Q&A session and more!  Not to be missed! Open only to Marvel Unlimited Plus members and Marvel MasterCard cardholders.

*Panel line-up is subject to change. Free items available while supplies last.  Must have valid ID and one of the following for entry: Marvel MasterCard Member – Event Invite, Marvel MasterCard, or event RSVP confirmation; Marvel Unlimited Plus Members – membership card, or MU+ order confirmation email.

MARVEL COMICS: X-Men
Sunday 7/22, 11:15am-12:15pm
Room 5AB

Editor-in-Chief C.B. Cebulski, Sina Grace (Iceman), Seanan Maguire (X-Men Gold Annual), Matthew Rosenberg (Astonishing X-Men), and Tom Taylor (X-Men Red) take you through the full spectrum of current X-Men madness! The Red, Blue, and Gold teams confront Atlanteans, uncertainty, and Extermination, and the secrets of a NEW X-team are revealed! Deadpool and X-23 both rediscover their roots, and the Astonishing team faces ever stranger challenges! PLUS- Stay for the whole panel for an exclusive giveaway variant comic!

Don’t miss your chance to hear all the news and excitement from Marvel Comics at San Diego Comic Con!

(15) REMAKE. Cnet frames the art: “Star Wars: The Last Jedi remake poster mocks angry fans”.

An artist is poking fun at Star Wars fans clamoring for a remake of The Last Jedi.

Fernando Reza — an LA-based graphic artist — on Monday tweeted an image of his poster for the project, which centers on a muscled Luke Skywalker wielding a lightsaber and massive handgun.

 

[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, Chip Hitchcock, JJ, David Doering, John King Tarpinian, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, Carl Slaughter, Daniel Dern, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day OGH, taken from an email he wrote to Steve Davidson after being told he repeated a Scroll title Steve submitted in 2016.]

Pixel Scroll 12/24 Yes, Virginia, There Is A Pixel Scroll

(1) A DREAM. Pat Cadigan on Facebook:

It’s Christmas Eve, and you know what that means––it’s time for my favourite Christmas story!

One night, Confucius had a dream about chopsticks…..

(2) THE CASE FOR EMAIL. NASA calculated the surprising amount of money it would cost to send a Christmas card to Mars.

Next: they can calculate how much it will cost to send someone to receive the card on Mars. (With and without potatoes.)

(3) DECK THE TARDIS. Alex Kingston and Matt Lucas kick off the holiday.

(4) THAT SPECIAL TIME OF YEAR. And the Doctor Who Christmas Special is just hours away. Here are two previews.

The Doctor reunites with River – The Husbands of River Song – Doctor Who Christmas Special – BBC

 

“Are You The Surgeon?” – The Husbands of River Song Preview – Doctor Who Christmas 2015 – BBC

 

(5) ART APPRECIATION. An sf art collector discusses a cover artist of the Golden Age — “Hubert Rogers’ Astounding Covers — And His Fascinating Correspondence with Robert A. Heinlein and L. Sprague de Camp” by Doug Ellis at Black Gate.

At IlluxCon this past October, one of our major purchases was a pulp painting by artist Hubert Rogers. Rogers was Astounding Science Fiction’s primary cover artist from late 1939 to early 1952, with a break from 1943 through 1946 due to World War II (which he spent in Canada painting war posters and other paintings related to the war). We’d made arrangements over the summer to buy it from a friend of ours, who had owned it for many years, and he drove it up to IlluxCon with him so we could complete the deal.

Ellis maximizes the visual interest of his post with copies of the covers, and reproductions of several letters from L. Sprague De Camp and Robert A. Heinlein.

One of the Heinlein’s 1941 letters to Hubert Rogers says —

I will be interested to see how you have conceived the character Lazarus Long in my new serial I thought of him as looking a good deal like Carl Sandburg, earthy and robust, but not tall. My wife says he likes like an Uncle Sam with a dash of Doctor E. E. Smith. We are anxious to find out what he actually does look like.

(6) Today In History

  • December 24, 2011 – Cheetah, chimpanzee sidekick in the Tarzan movies of the 1930s, died on this date. Your monkey’s mileage may vary.

(7) Today’s Birthday Boy

  • December 24, 1910 – Fritz Leiber

(8) SPACE CHOW. “Christmas dinner on the International Space Station: What do the astronauts eat?” in The Independent.

Nasa tends to dominate the operations on the ISS, so the Christmas food is more typically American – turkey, green beans, sweet potatoes and cornbread are staples, and they’re all served out of small plastic packages that can be heated up in a special onboard oven.

However, Russia also has a strong presence in space, so there is some regional variation – Cloeris said the Russians have some “really good mashed potatoes,” as well as excellent cranberry sauce.

(9) AND FOR DESSERT. “Oh, Just a Gingerbread House Rendition of the Overlook Hotel from ‘The Shining’” at Messy Nessy Chic.

Nothing says “Happy Holidays” quite like a cult horror movie turned miniature winter wonderland in the form of everybody’s favourite Christmas cookie!  Come play with us…

(10) THESE AREN’T THE DROIDS I’M LOOKING FOR. Why would George R.R. Martin (“Puppies at Christmas”) endorse Sad Puppies 4 in advance of seeing what they actually do, unless he believes the power of suggestion can make it so?

For decades now, LOCUS and NESFA and other fan groups have produced reading lists at year’s end, long lists generated by recommendations from their editors/ members/ etc. If at the end of this process, Sad Puppies 4 puts forth a similar list, one that has room for BOTH Larry Correia and Ann Leckie, I don’t think anyone could possibly object. I won’t, certainly. A list like that would not be a slate, and the whole “slate voting” thing will become moot.

And that would be great. That would mean no Puppygate II. That would mean a spirited literary debate about writers and books without the acrimony and the name-calling. From that debate a truly democratic and diverse ballot could emerge, one that represents all tastes. That would mean no ‘No Awards’ at Big MAC II, and the Hugo ceremony could once again become a joyous celebration of the best and brightest in our field.

In my post-worldcon blog post last August 31 (( http://grrm.livejournal.com/440444.html )) I expressed the hope that the ugliness of 2015 could be left behind, that Fandom and Puppydom could coexist in peace. That’s still my hope. And right now I am feeling a little more hopeful than I was in August. People are talking books, not trading epithets…

(11) DOCTOR HOOEY. Or will this turn out about as well as people expect? In the comments on Kate Paulk’s “Hugo Category Highlight: Best Fan Writer”, Dr. Mauser pleads for even more attention….

(12) PRODUCTION NUMBER. “California Christmastime,” from Rachel Bloom and the cast of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, and Will R. for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Iphinome.]

He Was the Dean

Promotional copy for the new Murray Leinster biography says he was known as “The Dean of Science Fiction.”

I should not have been surprised: I read this in Sam Moskowitz’ Explorers of the Infinite: Shapers of Science Fiction way back in the Seventies. However, I’d managed to forget it since. Or possibly repressed it, because as a young fan my fannish loyalties were to that rival claimant of the title: Robert A. Heinlein.

Heinlein acquired the title “Dean of Science Fiction” sometime around 1960, says J. Daniel Gifford in Robert A. Heinlein: A Reader’s Companion.

How? Thomas Clareson suggests in his essay for Voices for the Future (1976) that whoever wrote the jacket copy on his books was responsible:

Today Heinlein is known to many, thanks to paperback advertising techniques at least, as the “Dean” of science fiction writers, not so much because of his length of service as because of his relationship to the corporate body of science fiction.

Certainly a book cover was the first place I saw Heinlein called “Dean.” On the other hand, Leinster was called “Dean” in 1949 by no less an authority than Time Magazine

In the U.S., Will F. Jenkins, a 27-year veteran, who also writes under the pen name of Murray Leinster, is regarded as the dean of writers in the field.

Leinster was rather humble about the whole thing. In his introduction to Great Stories of Science Fiction (1951) he explained that he was sometimes called “’Dean’ of science fiction writers by virtue of my having outlived a number of better men. This wholly accidental distinction is perhaps the reason I was given the opportunity to compile this book.”

And as Leinster makes clear, the term “Dean” was primarily associated with seniority, length of service in the sf field. Lester Del Rey in The World of Science Fiction, a survey of the genre published in 1980, echoed the choice of Leinster:

…Murray Leinster, whose work remained popular in science fiction for more than fifty years and who was rightly named “the Dean of science fiction writers.”

I don’t know whether Heinlein liked being called “Dean” or thought it mattered at all. Maybe Bill Patterson can answer this in a later volume of his Heinlein bio. From a fan’s viewpoint I thought the name suited RAH because so many of his stories involved mentoring, the acquiring of self-discipline, or were delivered in the voice of a respected elder who has things to say about life, like Lazarus Long.

After Leinster died in 1975 some of the writers who acknowledged him as the “Dean” thought the title deserved to be perpetuated, which meant picking a successor. Isaac Asimov made it clear he preferred length of service as the criterion for naming someone the “Dean.” In his 1979 essay for IASFM “The Dean of Science Fiction,” Heinlein was not a finalist. Asimov listed Jack Williamson, Clifford D. Simak, L. Sprague de Camp and Lester Del Rey. And just a few years later – even while all four were still alive – Asimov seemed to have narrowed his list to two, saying in The Hugo Winners: 1980-1982 (1986) “the only writer who can possibly compete with [Clifford D. Simak] as ‘dean of science fiction’ is Jack Williamson, who is four years younger than Cliff but has been publishing three years longer.”

Both Simak and Heinlein died in 1988. Del Rey died in 1993. De Camp died in 2000.

Williamson seems to have been the writer most people felt comfortable calling the “Dean” in later years. Several of his peers labeled him by some version of the title both before and after Heinlein died. Interestingly, when Algis Budrys dubbed Williamson the “Dean of Science Fiction” in a 1985 essay for The Science Fiction Yearbook the usage even passed muster with the volume’s editor, Jerry Pournelle, a good friend of Heinlein’s. Williamson lived on until 2006, continuing to produce, his last novel The Stonehenge Gate published just the year before he died.

Some others regarded Arthur C. Clarke as the true heir to the title. Gerald K. O’Neill in The High Frontier (1989) called Clarke the dean of science fiction, and so did a contributor to a 1989 volume of the Journal of the American Medical Association. Clarke passed away in 2008.

People outside the field have always bandied the title about – Ray Bradbury was called the Dean on a TV show in the Sixties. Now he practically qualifies, though not quite – I imagine Fred Pohl has the edge in years as a professional writer.

Other specialties in the science fiction field have their “Deans.” Google tells me Frank Kelly Freas was called the “dean of science fiction artists,” though I must say I managed to go my entire time in fandom up to today without ever hearing him called that.

The New York Times once referred to Donald Wollheim as the “Dean” of science fiction editors, according to a 1981 article in The Bloomsbury Review.  Campbell had been so-called at least as early as 1947 — in Samuel Stephenson Smith’s How to Double Your Vocabulary, of all places — but he’d been dead almost ten years before The Bloomsbury Review took up the subject.

And let’s not forget that in Ann Arbor in 1975, Dean McLaughlin, author of “Hawk Among the Sparrows,” was who trufans called “Dean of Science Fiction.”

Of course, many will have become aware that no woman author’s name has been mentioned at any point, even in touching on the most recent decade. Ursula K. LeGuin regularly offers wisdom about topical issues in the field, and until death ended her long career Andre Norton was respected and influential, so there are women who might have been nominated to the role. However, I suspect the whole notion of a “Dean of Science Fiction,” which was never more than of anecdotal significance, is fading from fannish awareness too rapidly for a real sense of injustice to take hold.

[Thanks to John Lorentz, Google Ngram and Steven H Silver’s SF Site for help with this story.]

A Few Novels More

Chip Hitchcock adds several more titles to the list of stories set at sf conventions (see Barf Factor Three, Mr. Sulu):

One of Donna Andrews’s Meg Langslow books, We’ll Always Have Parrots is set entirely at a convention for a TV show with elements of Sheena, Xena. (Her studly ?fiancee? appears on ~half of the episodes, so they’re guests when the unprintable star gets murdered; the title comes from the attempt to reproduce the show’s setting in a very mundane hotel.)

I suppose Murder at the ABA doesn’t really count — even if mundanes would think publishers and authors are plenty weird enough.

And to dig really deep, the end of de Camp’s Goblin Tower is set at a wizards’ assembly that is extensively pastiched from SF conventions, even including an uncredited reference to one of Rotsler’s Rules.

(If you’re curious, Rotsler’s Rules for Masquerades is available here in a PDF file.)

A Scandal in Cimmeria

Was L. Sprague de Camp guilty of belittling Robert E. Howard at the same time he was profiting by editing fiction set in Howard’s universe? That seems to be Mark Finn’s take, while writing as a guest blogger at REHupa, the Robert E. Howard United Press Associaton:

[DeCamp is] not trying to break new ground, cover new territory, or further enlighten us. He’s only trying to drum it in: Howard was a gifted amateur who was, sadly, quite mad, but hey, aren’t these Conan stories really neat?

Then, Morgan Holmes fires a salvo at de Camp’s defenders:

An enjoyable result from posting the de Camp Controversies has been watching the reaction from a small select group that I called de Campistas. They are fighting the last rear-guard defending the pursuit of a de Campian Lancer Conan universe.

Who’s right? I don’t know, but the Holmes post is pretty funny.