Pixel Scroll 11/28/21 I Have Squandered All My Pixels

(1) CASTAWAY. BBC Radio 4’s Desert Island Discs hosted “Neil Gaiman, writer” who shared the eight tracks, book and luxury item he would take with him if cast away to a desert island. Listen to the program at the link.

Or, let BBC Radio 4 blab it to you in a post: “Nine things we learned from Neil Gaiman’s Desert Island Discs”.

Neil Gaiman is a multi-award winning author whose work includes the novels Stardust, American Gods and The Graveyard Book and the comic book series The Sandman. His first novel, Good Omens, written with Terry Pratchett, was published in 1990, and Neil recently adapted it as a TV series starring David Tennant and Michael Sheen. He specialises in creating fantastic alternative realities which exist under the nose of the world as we know it. He recently told his 2.8 million Twitter followers that he wore his ‘lucky Batman underpants’ for his Desert Island Discs recording – and here are nine things we learned from the programme…

5. A furious child inspired his first book for younger readers

Neil published The Day I Swapped My Dad for Two Goldfish in 1997.

“The idea, like most of my children’s books, was stolen from one of my children,” explains Neil. “In this case from my son, Mike, and he would have been four, maybe five years old. I’d said something to him that he didn’t like, like possibly suggesting to him that it was actually his bedtime.”

“And he looked up at me with a fury that only a small boy can generate, a special kind of fury and he just said, ‘I wish I didn’t have a dad’. He said, ‘I wish I had….’ And then he paused because he hadn’t thought that through and, and then he said, ‘I wish I had goldfish!’ And he stomped off while I just thought ‘That is brilliant!’”

(2) HISTORICAL DOCUMENTS, DISCON 1. Andrew Porter received this postcard after reserving his room for Discon, the 1963 Worldcon in Washington DC. “Back when I was still Andy Silverberg…” – his name at the time.

(3) QANTAS PHYSICS. Fanac.org’s next “FanHistory Project Zoom Session” will be “Wrong Turns on the Wallaby Track: Australian Science Fiction Fandom to Aussiecon – Part 1, 1936 to 1960” featuring Leigh Edmonds and Perry Middlemiss. According to your time zone, it starts December 4 at 7PM Dec 4 EST, 4PM Dec 4 PST, or December 5 at 11AM in Melbourne AU. RSVP to fanac@fanac.org to get the Zoom link.

From the 1930s to the 1950s sf fandom in Australia was active and buoyant. Centred mainly around the city of Sydney their activities included fanzine production, club meetings and feuding. Yet by the beginning of the 1960s it had nearly all withered away. How did this vibrant community survive the Second World War and yet somehow fail to make it through peacetime? This, and many other questions, will be addressed by Dr Leigh Edmonds, sf fan and professional historian, in his FANAC talk titled “Wrong Turns on the Wallaby Track: Australian Science Fiction Fandom to Aussiecon – Part 1, 1936 to 1960.”

(4) WHO WAS THAT MASKED FAN? The Los Angeles Times reports on Comic-Con Special Edition: “Comic-Con returns to San Diego amid COVID-19 pandemic”.

They say not all superheroes wear capes. But they do all now wear masks.

This weekend, thousands of people flocked to San Diego for the city’s first in-person Comic-Con — the beloved geekfest for all things science fiction, superhero and fantasy — in two and a half years.

The cosplayers squeezed into their spandex, strapped on their plastic weapons and secured their brightly colored wigs.

But with great power comes great responsibility. So, in a pandemic twist, they all donned face masks and red wristbands after proving they had either been vaccinated against or had recently tested negative for the greatest villain of all: COVID-19….

(5) COMIC-CON MUSEUM. The Times of San Diego takes its “First Peek Inside Comic-Con Museum, Revealing Exhibits Amid Soft Opening”.

…Local dignitaries, Comic-Con officials and volunteers were the first to see the 250,000 square feet of exhibits as a “special edition” San Diego Comic Convention opened Friday at the San Diego Convention Center.

The former San Diego Hall of Champions sports museum will be a destination for Comic-Con attendees, who can take a free shuttle between to the venue. The shuttle goes every 30 minutes….

This is the link to the Museum website where these six theme exhibits are now on display:

  • Gene Roddenberry: Sci-Fi Visionary as creator of “Star Trek.”
  • Chas Addams…Family and Friends as cartoonist of darkly humorous and macabre characters.
  • Eight Decades of Archie: a new pop-up exhibition that explores the storied history of America’s typical teenagers
  • Cardboard Superheroes: the art of teenage brothers Connor (17) and Bauer (14) Lee, this exhibit features life-size cardboard models of superheroes such as Hulkbuster, Groot, C-3PO, and Baby Yoda.
  • Out of the Darkness: Comics in the Times of COVID featuring artwork by San Diego young people.
  • The PAC-MAN Arcade on the 2020 Museum Character Hall of Fame Inductee.

(6) COMICS EXHIBIT IN WASHINGTON, DC. There’s news about what the Library of Congress is doing with Steve Geppi’s collection of comics. Geppi Gems is on view in the LOC’s Graphic Arts Gallery through March 2022. A second rotation, with a completely different selection, is intended for the Spring of 2022. “Geppi Gems Exhibit: Highlights from the Stephen A. Geppi Collection at the Library of Congress”.

…Stephen A. Geppi opened the Geppi Entertainment Museum in Baltimore, Maryland, in 2006, with the intent of showing how artistic creations from the pages of newspaper comic strips and comic books permeated popular culture. Over time, he expanded his collecting interests to reflect such comic book themes as superheroes, westerns, science fiction, horror, sports, music and entertainment. When the Geppi Entertainment Museum closed its doors in 2018, Mr. Geppi generously donated a large portion of its contents to the Library of Congress, with a desire that thousands of people share his excitement for comic books….

There’s also an online version of the exhibit: “Geppi Gems”.

(7) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

1972 [Item by Cat Eldridge.] Forty-nine years ago this evening, Via Galactica, a SF rock musical, premiered on Broadway. Critics all hated it. Audiences really weren’t fond of it either. It lasted but seven shows before being cancelled. Yes, it was that bad. The story by Christopher Gore and Judith Ross, lyrics by Gore, and music by Galt MacDermot. It marked the Broadway debut of actor Mark Baker who went on to far better things. (Raul Julia was in the cast.) The storyline was so difficult to follow that at the very last moment producers inserted a plot synopsis in Playbill, but audiences still had no idea what they were witnessing unfolding on stage which involved, among other things, a clamshell-shaped garbage ship called the Helen of Troy. No, I’m not kidding. It would be one of the very first Broadway plays to lose a million dollars. That’s over six million dollars today. 

Jennifer George, daughter of the producer George W. George, has a look at it here.

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born November 28, 1930 William Sargent, 91. He played Dr. Leighton in “The Conscience of the King”, a first season episode of Star Trek. He also shows up in Night Slaves (really don’t ask), Mission: ImpossibleShazam!Voyage to the Bottom of the SeaThe Twilight ZoneAlfred Hitchcock Presents and The Invaders. He was in the pilot for The Immortal series but wasn’t in the regular cast.
  • Born November 28, 1939 Walter Velez. His agent and fellow artist Jill Bauman wrote, “Walter created illustrations for most of the major book and gaming companies. He has been long known for his cover art for such popular books such as the Thieves World series and the Myth Adventures series, both edited by Robert Asprin; and the EbenezumWuntor, and Cineverse Cycle series, all by Craig Shaw Gardner. Walter illustrated for TSR games extensively. He applied his multi-faceted talents to trading cards for the Goosebumps series for the Topps Company, and a series of Dune trading cards. In the early 80’s he worked with Random House to create art for several Star Wars books that were licensed from George Lucas.” (Died 2018.)
  • Born November 28, 1944 Rita Mae Brown, 76. Author of the Sister Jane mysteries which features foxes, hounds and cats as characters with voices which in my mind makes them genre novels. Not to mention her creation of Sneaky Pie Brown who “is a New York Times best-selling writer and cat who co-authors the Mrs. Murphy series of mystery novels with her owner, Rita Mae Brown.” And who she has an entire series devoted to. 
  • Born November 28, 1946 Joe Dante, 75. Warning, this is a personal list of Dante’s works that I’ve really, really enjoyed starting off with The Howling then adding in Innnerspace, both of the Gremlins films though I think only the first is a masterpiece even if the second has its moments, Small Soldiers and The Hole. For television work, he’s done a lot but the only one I can say that I recall and was impressed by was his Legends of Tomorrow’s “Night of the Hawk” episode.  That’s his work as Director. As a Producer, I see he’s responsible for The Phantom proving everyone has a horrible day.  
  • Born November 28, 1952 S. Epatha Merkerson, 69. Best remembered as Lieutenant Anita Van Buren on Law & Order appearing in 395 episodes of the series. Since Dick Wolf also is responsible for Chicago Med, she’s now playing Sharon Goodwin there. Both of her major SF roles involve robots. The first was in Terminator 2: Judgment Day as Tarissa Dyson; a year later, she had a recurring role as Capt. Margaret Claghorn in Mann & Machine. And she had a recurring role as Reba on Pee-wee’s Playhouse which I believe the consensus here is that it’s genre. 
  • Born November 28, 1962 Mark Hodder, 59. Best known for his Burton & Swinburne alternate Victorian steampunk novels starting off with The Strange Affair of Spring-Heeled Jack that deservedly garnered a Philip K. Dick Award. He also wrote A Red Sun Also Rises which recreates sort of Victorian London on a far distant alien world. Emphasis on sort of. And then there’s Consulting Detective Macalister Fogg which appears to be his riff off of Sherlock Holmes only decidedly weirder. 
  • Born November 28, 1981 Louise Bourgoin, 40. Her main SFF film is as the title character of Adèle Blanc-Sec in The Extraordinary Adventures of Adèle Blanc-Sec as directed by Luc Besson. Anybody watched the uncensored English version that came out on Blu-ray? It’s on my list To Be Watched list. She also played Audrey in Black Heaven (L’Autre monde), and she’s the voice heard in the Angélique’s Day for Night animation short.
  • Born November 28, 1987 Karen Gillan, 34. Amy Pond, companion to the Eleventh Doctor. Nebula in the Guardians of The Galaxy and in the later MCU films, Ruby Roundhouse in Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle. Two episodes of Who she was in did win Hugos, “The Pandorica Opens/The Big Bang” and “The Doctor’s Wife”, the first at Renovation and the latter at Chicon 7. 

(9) FORTY WHACKS. The New Yorker enumerates “The Lessons of ‘The Lorax’”.

In 1989, the year that Iran’s Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini issued a fatwa calling for the death of Salman Rushdie, for writing “The Satanic Verses,” American parents in Laytonville, a small town in Northern California, demanded that their children’s elementary school take Dr. Seuss’s 1971 book, “The Lorax,” off its list of required reading for second graders. The book is “Silent Spring” for the under-ten set. “I speak for the trees,” the Lorax says, attempting to defend a soon to be blighted forest, its tufted Truffula trees chopped down and knit into hideous thneeds—“a Fine-Something-That-All-People-Need”—until there is nothing left but one single seed.

…“I drew a Lorax and he was obviously a Lorax,” Geisel said. “Doesn’t he look like a Lorax to you?” But, in 1989, to Bill and Judith Bailey, the founders of a logging-equipment business in Laytonville, the Lorax looked like an environmental activist. “Papa, we can’t cut trees down,” their eight-year-old son, Sammy, said after reading the book, in which a “Super-Axe-Hacker” whacks “four Truffula Trees at one smacker.” Townspeople were caught up in the so-called “timber wars,” when environmentalists camped out in trees and loggers wore T-shirts that read “Spotted Owl Tastes Like Chicken.” Logging families took out ads in the local newspaper. One said, “To teach our children that harvesting redwood trees is bad is not the education we need.”…

(10) ONE DAM THING AFTER ANOTHER. “Ian Frazier Wishes Somebody Would Write About the World’s Largest Beaver Dam” in the New York Times. He avoids SF…but we’ll skip that quote.

Which subjects do you wish more authors would write about?

I don’t know — how about the world’s largest beaver dam? It’s in northern Alberta, Canada, and very hard to get to. Supposedly it’s the largest animal-made structure visible from space. I would like to write about it myself, but no editors are interested. (Write about it, that is, without actually going there.)

(11) ELON MUSK NEWS. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In the Washington Post.  Isabelle Khurshudyan and Mary Ilyushina discuss the popularity of Elon Musk in Russia.  Among his fans is Pavel Antonov, who wants to be the first bartender in space, with his role model being the android Michael Sheen played in Passengers. “Why Russia’s mania for Elon Musk just keeps on growing”.

…Pavel Antonov’s life goal can be traced back to the 2016 movie “Passengers,” a sci-fi romance that takes place on a luxury spaceship. One character in the movie is Arthur, an android bartender played by Michael Sheen. Arthur provides smiling relief amid the chaos.

“I immediately thought Musk will definitely need such a person who would distract from all problems,” Antonov said. “For at least one hour, you can sit at the bar, forget about everything and talk about neutral topics. From then on, I decided that I want to be the first bartender on Mars.”…

He’s developed “a signature cocktail for Mars” which is bright blue and a red cherry for the Red Planet…

(12) VIDEO OF THE DAY. “Mr. Sci-Fi” Marc Scott Zicree is roaming the aisles at San Diego Comic-Con — Special Edition.

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

Pixel Scroll 9/23/21 Shattered Like A Glass Pixel

(1) CLARKE AWARD CEREMONY. The Arthur C. Clarke Award winner will be announced September 27. Award Director Tom Hunter adds, “Long-time subscribers may remember back to pre-pandemic times when we used to announce our winner in July rather than September, but as with last year we’ve been committed to going one step at a time across our announcements and judging process as things continue to evolve. Hopefully 2022 will allow us to return to our usual scheduling. In the meantime, as with 2020, we have decided to forego a public ceremony event this year, but I am delighted to share that this year’s winner will be revealed live by presenter & science fiction fan Samira Ahmed on BBC Radio 4’s Front Row.”

(2) UNAUTHORIZED. Will Oliver has dug up an unauthorized sequel to Robert E. Howard’s “Worms of the Earth” from 1938, decades before L. Sprague de Camp and Lin Carter started up their own Howard pastiche business: “The Robert E. Howard Bran Mak Morn Sequel: Maker of Shadows by Jack Mann” at Adventures Fantastic.

 … Lai believes that Howard first came to the attention of Cannell in 1933. After the publication of his “Worms of the Earth” in the November 1932 issue of Weird Tales, Christine Campbell Thomson included the story in her collection Keep on the Light (Selwyn and Blount, 1933). The book was the ninth in a series of collected tales of horror and the supernatural titled Not at Night. Howard had previously appeared in the eighth volume of the series with “The Black Stone,” and that anthology was titled Grim Death (Selwyn and Blount, 1932); that was also REH’s first ever appearance in a hardcover book. So taken with Howard’s Bran Mak Morn story, Cannell incorporated “Worms of the Earth” into his Gees series, the fifth book, making it a sort of sequel. The version I read came from Ramble House and, despite the poor cover, the story appeared to me to be a good reprinting of the story….

(3) BIG BUCKS. The Guardian reports that a first edition of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein has sold for a record-breaking sum: “First edition of Frankenstein sells for record breaking $1.17m”.

Mary Shelley was just 18 when she dreamed up her story of a “pale student of unhallowed arts” and the “hideous phantasm of a man” he created. Now a first edition of her seminal classic of gothic horror, Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus, has set a world record for the highest price paid for a printed work by a woman, after selling at auction for $1,170,000 (£856,000)….

(4) TENNESSEE GENRE CONNECTION. Also from The Guardian, an unpublished short story by Tennessee Williams has been discovered. And yes, this is of genre interest, because Tennessee Williams debuted in Weird Tales as a 16-year-old: “Newly discovered Tennessee Williams story published for the first time”.

 As soon as he crossed the border into Italy, Tennessee Williams found his health was “magically restored”. “There was the sun and there were the smiling Italians,” wrote the author of A Streetcar Named Desire in his memoirs. Now a previously unpublished short story by Williams describes his protagonist experiencing similar feelings – although the Italians do not feel quite so warmly towards him….

(5) BEFORE HE WAS A BESTSELLER. [Item by Cora Buhlert.] G.W. Thomas has a three part post about the lengthy writing career of John Jakes and that he wrote so much more than just historical family sagas. I actually knew that he wrote fantasy in the 1960s, but I didn’t know that he wrote in pretty much every genre and every venue:

… Did the fledgling Pulp writer (by night) and ad man (by day) have any inkling what lie ahead? Probably not, but to John’s credit he always wrote what interested him, what offered him a challenge, shifting between genres and venues. If the Pulps hadn’t died, he could have spent his entire career writing Westerns. Or Space opera. Or hard-boiled. But he did all of these, and well, before moving onto bigger things…

John Jakes, after five years in the Pulps, moved on to writing for magazines and novels. His story output slowed a little but he produced at least two novels most years, sometimes under his own name, sometimes under pseudonyms. For historical adventure he used the name Jay Scotland. He used his own name for the hard-boiled detective series starring Johnny Havoc but also wrote the last three Lou Largo novels as William Ard. The 1960s saw John writing tie-ins for Mystery television. This would later lead to him writing for The Man From U. N. C L. E.  and The Planet of the Apes novelizations in the 1970s. He also sold the first (and best) Brak the Barbarian stories to Cele Goldsmith at Fantastic…. 

John Jakes finished the 1960s writing television tie-ins along with other paperbacks. The first collections of Brak appeared alongside his best Science Fiction novels. But in 1974 everything would change with the arrival of The Kent Family Chronicles. John had several paperback novels on the bestsellers list at one time. From 1974 on he would be known not as a SF, Sword & Sorcery or Mystery writer but as a bestseller….

(6) TWO ORBIT AUTHOR Q&A’S. Orbit Live invites everyone to this pair of author conversations.

SEPTEMBER 28: Andy Marino and M.R. Carey will discuss their books and what it’s like writing supernatural thrillers. Register here.

Andy Marino is the author of The Seven Visitations of Sydney Burgess, a new supernatural horror and thriller novel. Marino has previously written several books for young readers. The Seven Visitations of Sydney Burgess is his debut book for adults.

M.R. Carey is the author of several books including The Girl With All the Gifts, the acclaimed and bestselling supernatural thriller, and The Rampart Trilogy, which began withThe Book of Koli. Carey has also written a number of radio, TV, and movie screenplays.

OCTOBER 12: Django Wexler and Melissa Caruso talk about their new books, creating fantasy worlds, and writing the middle book of a fantasy trilogy. Register here.

Django Wexler (he/him) is the author of the several adult and young adult fantasy series. Blood of the Chosen, the second book of his Burningblade & Silvereye trilogy, releases October 5.

Melissa Caruso (she/her) is the author of the Swords and Fire trilogy, which began with The Tethered MageThe Quicksilver Court, the second book of her Rooks and Ruin trilogy, releases October 12.

(7) ZOOM INTO FANHISTORY. Fanac.org has Zoom history sessions scheduled through the end of the year. To RSVP please send a note to fanac@fanac.org

  • September 25, 2021 – 2PM EDT, 11AM PDT, 1PM CDT, 7PM London, 4AM Sydney
    Juanita Coulson
  • October 23, 2021 – 2pm EDT, 7PM London, 11AM PDT
    St. Fantony, BSFA, Brumcon and more – British Fan history with Keith Freeman and Rob Hansen.
  • December 4 (US) and December 5 (Australia), 2021 – 7PM Dec 4 EST, 4PM Dec 4 PST, 11AM Dec 5 Melbourne AU
    Wrong Turns on the Wallaby Track:: Australian Science Fiction Fandom to Aussiecon – Part 1, 1936 to 1960, with Leigh Edmonds and Perry Middlemiss

(8) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

1962 – Fifty-nine years ago this date in prime time on ABC, The Jetsons premiered. It was created by William Hanna and Joseph Barbera who had previously produced such series as the Quick Draw McGraw and the Yogi Bear Show.  The primary voice cast was George O’Hanlon, Penny Singleton, Janet Waldo, Daws Butler and Mel Blanc. The latter voiced Cosmo Spacely, George’s boss. It would last three seasons for seventy-five roughly half-hour episodes. A number of films, reboots and one truly awful idea, The Jetsons & WWE: Robo-WrestleMania, followed down the years. 

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born September 23, 1897 — Walter Pidgeon. He’s mostly remembered for being in the classic Forbidden Planet as Dr. Morbius, but he’s done some other genre work being in Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea  as Adm. Harriman Nelson, and in The Neptune Factor as Dr. Samuel Andrews. The Mask of Sheba in which he was Dr. Max van Condon is at genre adjacent. (Died 1984.)
  • Born September 23, 1908 — Wilmar H. Shiras. Also wrote under the name Jane Howes. Her most famous piece was  “In Hiding” (1948), a novella that was included in The Science Fiction Hall of Fame anthology. It is widely assumed that it is the inspiration for the Uncanny X-Men that Stan Lee and Jack Kirby would shortly release. (Died 1990.)
  • Born September 23, 1936 — Richard Wilson, 85. He played Doctor Constantine in “The Empty Child” and “The Doctor Dances”, two Ninth Doctor stories. He played Gaius, Camelot’s court physician, in the entire of Merlin. And he’s was in Peter Pan as Mr Darling/Captain Hook  at the Royal Festival Hall, Southbank Centre. 
  • Born September 23, 1956 — Peter David, 65. Did you know that his first assignment for the Philadelphia Bulletin was covering was covering Discon II? I’m reasonably sure the first thing I read by him was Legions of Fire, Book 1: The Long Night of Centauri Prime but he’s also done a number of comics I’ve read including runs of Captain MarvelWolverine and Young Justice.
  • Born September 23, 1959 — Elizabeth Peña. Ok, these notes can be depressing to do as I discovered she died of acute alcoholism. Damn it all. She was in a number of genre production s including *batteries not includedGhost WhispererThe Outer LimitsThe Invaders and even voiced Mirage in the first Incredibles film. Intriguingly she voiced a character I don’t recognize, Paran Dul, a Thanagarian warrior, four times in Justice League Unlimited. (Died 2014.)
  • Born September 23, 1967 — Rosalind Chao, 54. She was the recurring character of Keiko O’Brien with a total of twenty-seven appearances on Next Generation and Deep Space Nine. In 2010, a preliminary casting memo for Next Gen from 1987 was published, revealing that Chao was originally considered for the part of Enterprise security chief Tasha Yar. Now that would have been interesting. 
  • Born September 23, 1967 — Justine Larbalestier, 54. Writer, Editor, and Critic. An Australian author of fiction whose novels have won Andre Norton, Carl Brandon, and Aurealis Awards, she is probably best known for her comprehensive scholarly work The Battle of the Sexes in Science Fiction which was nominated for a Hugo at Torcon 3. Her Daughters of Earth: Feminist Science Fiction in the Twentieth Century, an anthology of SFF stories and critical essays by women, won The William Atheling Jr. Award.
  • Born September 23, 1971 Rebecca Roanhorse, 50. Her “Welcome to Your Authentic Indian Experience™“ which was first published  in the August 2017 of Apex Magazine won a Hugo as best short story at Worldcon 76. (It won a Nebula as well.) She also won the 2018 Astounding Award for Best New Writer. Rebecca has five published novels: Trail of Lightning, its sequel Storm of LocustsBlack SunRace to the Sun (middle grade); and a Star Wars novel, Resistance Reborn. Black Sun is nominated for a Hugo this year. 

(10) COMICS SECTION.

(11) MADE YOU LOOK. The New Yorker’s Megan Broussard devises “Clickbait for Classic Literary Characters”. Such as —

Dorian Gray (“The Picture of Dorian Gray”)
Soul-to-Sketch Art Converter app on Google Play. Turn selfies into paintings. Start your FREE seven-day, seven-sins trial today!

(12) HOPEPUNK. Mythic Delirium Books contends that readers who are looking for hopepunk will find it in Dark Breakers the new collection of short fiction from World Fantasy Award-winning author C. S. E. Cooney which will be released in February 2022. Its two previously uncollected novellas, “The Breaker Queen” and “The Two Paupers,” and three new stories, “Salissay’s Laundries,” “Longergreen” and “Susurra to the Moon” — take place in three parallel worlds, one inhabited by humans, one ruled by the Gentry (not unlike the Fae of Earthly legend) and one the realm of goblins. The heroines and heroes of these adventures confront corruption and the threat of tyranny armed with their own wits and the life-changing power of art. Pre-orders are activating now, with e-book pre-orders widely available and Barnes & Noble allowing advance purchases of all three editions.

(13) THEY’RE COMING. IGN introduces the Invasion trailer for Apple TV+ series.

Apple has released the official trailer for its ambitious new sci-fi series, Invasion, starring Jurassic Park’s Sam Neill.

The three-episode premiere of Invasion will be available to stream on Apple TV+ on Friday, October 22, 2021. Invasion comes from the minds of X-Men and Deadpool producer Simon Kinberg, as well as The Twilight Zone’s David Weil. The series follows the events of an Alien invasion through the lens of several characters spread across multiple continents.

(14) PROPRIETIES OBSERVED. [Item by Todd Mason.] The second episode of Have Gun, Will Travel repeated this morning on the H&I Network begins with the protagonist Paladin riding his horse in rocky country.As he passes an outcropping, a woman slips out of the shadows and cocks her rifle while leveling it at his back. 

Closed Captioning as presented by H&I: “(sound of woman XXXXing rifle)”

As the Jimmy Kimmel Live show used to enjoy playing with, “Today in Unnecessary Censorship,” making the tampered-with/censored bit seem much more blue than simply letting it be would…

(15) BIG LEAGUE SHIRT. I was surprised to find a logo shirt available – and apparently sanctioned by the rights holders! The Science Fiction League Shirt.

The Science Fiction League was created by Hugo Gernsback and launched in Wonder Stories in 1934. 

Our design is inspired by the logo created for the League by Frank R Paul, and the League badges. With thanks to the Frank R Paul estate. 

(16) THE SPEED OF DARK. “New type of dark energy could solve Universe expansion mystery” according to today’s issue of Nature.

Traces of primordial form of the substance hint at why the cosmos is expanding faster than expected.

Cosmologists have found signs that a second type of dark energy — the ubiquitous but enigmatic substance that is pushing the Universe’s expansion to accelerate — might have existed in the first 300,000 years after the Big Bang….

(17) KALLING ALL KAIJU KOLLECTORS. [Item by Michael Toman.] This Deep Dive into Godzilla movie commentaries, including the two which met with disapproval from Toho and were pulled, not to mention the ones which are only available to Japanese speakers, might be of interest to Other Filer G-Fans?

(18) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In “Honest Game Trailers’ No More Heroes 3” on YouTube, Fandom Games, in a spoiler-filled episode, says that the third adventure of assassin Travis Touchdown has him fighting aliens. It is a “weird (bleeping) game for weird (bleeping) gamers,” features every bad Power Ranger villain, and includes as a character director Takashi Miike, the Japanese goremaster.

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

Pixel Scroll 4/18/20 You Can’t File All Of The Pixels All Of The Time

(1) EASTERCON 2021. Next year’s UK Eastercon site has been selected reports the Friends of Eastercon blog.

ConFusion 2021 won an online bidding session for the 2021 Eastercon, to be held at the Birmingham NEC again, with 95% of the vote. Permission to record the session was refused.

(2) AID FOR ARTISTS. Publishers Lunch linked to the newly announced  “Maurice Sendak Emergency Relief Fund”.

The Maurice Sendak Foundation has granted $100,000 to the New York Foundation for the Arts for an emergency relief grant program “to support children’s picture book artists and writers impacted by the COVID-19 crisis.” They will provide grants of up to $2,500 a person, and hope to raise at least another $150,000 in the initial phase.

(3) AND RESCUE FOR RETAILERS. The New York Times tells how “Comic Creators Unite to Benefit Stores”.

A large group of comic book creators are banding together to help support comic book retailers whose business have been disrupted by the coronavirus pandemic.

Using the Twitter hashtag #Creators4Comics, more than 120 creators will be auctioning comic books, artwork and one-of-a-kind experiences. The auctions will run from Wednesday through Monday and will benefit the Book Industry Charitable Foundation, which is accepting applications from comic book shops and bookstores for emergency relief.

The effort was organized by the comic book writers Sam Humphries and Brian Michael Bendis, along with Kami Garcia, Gwenda Bond and Phil Jimenez. Humphries will be auctioning “How to Break Into Comics by Making Your Own Comics,” which are video-chat sessions with aspiring writers. “It mirrors my own comic book secret origin story,” he said in an email. More information can be found at the Creators 4 Comics website….

(4) CONZEALAND VIRTUAL ATTENDING MEMBERSHIPS. The 2020 Worldcon website has been updated with information about attending memberships for its Virtual Convention.

An Attending Membership is for people who will engage in the live, interactive Virtual Convention. There are a number of different types of Attending Memberships. Attending Memberships are all inclusive. You do not have to pay anything more for access to any of our online activity.

You will receive all our publications. This also comes with the right to nominate and vote in the Hugo Awards in 2020. You can also vote in Site Selection for the 2022 Worldcon.

  • Young Adult Attending is based on being born in 2000.
  • Unwaged Attending is a NZ resident of any age who does not have a consistent wage. This includes students, retirees, beneficiaries etc. Please contact us if you have questions about this.
    • We will trust that if you become waged by the convention, that you will upgrade to a Full Attending.

(5) RE-VOYAGER. “Garrett Wang And Robert Duncan McNeill Are Launching A ‘Star Trek: Voyager’ Rewatch Podcast” reports TrekMovie.com. The podcast’s twitter account is @TheDeltaFlyers.

This morning, Star Trek: Voyager star Robert Duncan McNeill (Tom Paris) announced that he has teamed up with co-star Garrett Wang (Harry Kim) on a new podcast called The Delta Flyers. The new pod promises inside stories as the pair plan to rewatch every episode of Voyager, with the first episode arriving in early May. 

(6) EISNER AWARDS. Newsarama reassures that “2020 Eisner Awards Going Forward Despite SDCC Cancellation”.

“I’m happy to report that the judging has been handled mostly virtually to date,” SDCC’s Chief Communications and Strategy Officer David Glanzer told Newsarama. “Things are in flux as you can imagine but our hope is to be able to have a list of Eisner winners for 2020.”

Longtime awards administrator Jackie Estrada is working with this year’s judges Martha Cornog, Jamie Coville, Michael Dooley, Alex Grecian, Simon Jimenez, and Laura O’Meara.

(7) OUT OF PRINT. In “This Is The Book That Outsold Dracula In 1897″, CrimeReads’  Olivia Rutigliano shows why an old bestseller is likely to remain in obscurity despite that singular achievement.

Bram Stoker’s Dracula has remained in print since it was first published in April 1897. A bestseller in its day, it has gone on to spawn countless derivatives and become one of the most indelible pop-cultural touchstones in recent history. Obviously. But, upon its first release, it was seriously outsold by another novel, a supernatural tale of possession and revenge called The Beetle, which fell out of print after 1960. And let me tell you, it’s something else.

Written by Richard Marsh, the author of extremely successful commercial short fiction during this era, The Beetle is actually rather like Dracula in form and plot. In addition to its being an epistolary novel, it is similarly about a seductive, inhuman, shape-shifting monster who arrives in England from the East, entrances a citizen into becoming its slave, and wages an attack on London society. And civilization’s only hope against this invader is a motley group of middle-class individuals (including one forward-thinking young woman and one expert on the supernatural), who must figure out what the creature actually is and ascertain why it has arrived to England, before finally destroying it….

(8) A FRIGID FORMULATION. Dann is “Re-Visiting Those Damned Cold Equations” at Liberty at all Costs.

… There is a forthcoming anthology of rebuttals to The Cold Equations.  I expect many essayists to add elements that are not present in the original story to reach their own preferred conclusions.  Rather than address the story as written, they will probably add in a factor that is not otherwise evident as a lever to be used against the main purpose of the story.

Rather than discussing the merits and criticism of the story, I’m first going to travel to Texas, rhetorically.

Lt. Governor Dan Patrick implied that he was willing to die to ensure the survival of his children and grandchildren.  He went on to suggest that lots of grandparents would make the same choice.  The context of his comments was the “choice” between maintaining our self-quarantine that is significantly damaging our economy or resuming normal social habits at the demonstrable risk of killing off a substantial number of our elderly.

…We are not currently at the point where we need to be deciding who lives and who dies.  We are most certainly not at the point where we need to risk the lives of senior citizens by prematurely restarting the economy.

That being said, we do have to make choices; sometimes hard choices….

…The fact is that we all have to make choices based on what we hope is the best of information.  We are all learning now about the importance of certain types of medical and personal protective equipment.  We are learning that we had manufacturing and import capacity to cover the usual needs of society, but not enough to cover our needs during a pandemic.  We are learning that we had stockpiles sufficient to cover a few significant regional calamities, but such stockpiles were entirely insufficient for a larger catastrophe.

…Will the critics of The Cold Equations pause in their rush to suggest alternative conclusions to acknowledge the practical limitations, however ham-handedly presented, that were in play?

(9) WHAT BOX? In a review of Bishakh Som’s new collection, NPR’s Etelka Lehoczky reports that “‘Apsara Engine’ Doesn’t Break The Graphic Novel Rules — It Ignores Them”.

There’s something a bit uncanny about Apsara Engine, the new comics collection by Bishakh Som. The world of comics is all about genre — superhero, sci-fi, fantasy, horror — and most of the time it’s pretty easy to match any book to its proper slot. Even highbrow graphic novels tend to categorize themselves through the style of art they employ and the types of stories they tell. Not this book, though. Its images and concepts seem to come from a place all their own. Som’s imagination is science-fictiony, without being particularly technological, mythic without being particularly traditional, and humanistic without cherishing any particular assumptions about where we, as a species, are headed.

You might classify these comics as “literary,” but Som’s approach to storytelling is as uncanny as her style and themes. Even the book’s structure keeps the reader off-balance. Som intersperses tales of future civilizations and half-human hybrid beasts with vignettes of run-of-the-mill contemporary life, so the reader never knows if something odd is about to happen.

You might classify these comics as “literary,” but Som’s approach to storytelling is as uncanny as her style and themes.

…Som’s artistic style breaks boundaries, too. She’ll employ traditional comic-book techniques for page layouts and character designs, then toss them aside with the turn of a page. A character who’s drawn iconically, with just a few efficient lines defining her features, will become lushly realistic at a pivotal moment. A story drawn in the usual square panels will suddenly burst forth into a series of flowing, uncontained two-page spreads.

Such moments of explosive transition provide the book’s heartbeat. It’s a mesmerizing arrythmia. The deceptiveness of what we think of as “ordinary life” is a running motif, one Som explores through unexpected juxtapositions. In “Come Back to Me,” a pretty young woman engages in an utterly mundane inner monologue while walking on the beach. Her reminiscences about the time she cheated on her boyfriend, which appear above and below the drawings, continue to unspool implacably even as she’s pulled into the ocean by a mermaid….

(10) BINNS OBIT. Merv Binns’ obituary, written by Leigh Edmonds, has appeared in The Age: “A luminary of Australian science fiction”. An excerpt:

In 1970, Binns established Space Age Books, with the help of his friends Lee Harding and Paul Stevens. It soon established a reputation as the best source of science fiction, fantasy and counter-culture literature in Melbourne, and probably Australia.

Space Age became the hub of a growing science fiction community and Binns became associated with leading authors, editors and publishers, as well the growing number of fans, in Australia and internationally.

As a result, Binns and Space Age were integral to the hosting of World Science Fiction Conventions in Melbourne in 1975 and 1985. 

(11) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

  • April 18, 1938 — Superman first appeared in Action Comics #1, a comic book published by National Allied Publications even though the cover said June. The character was created by writer Jerry Siegel and artist Joe Shuster. This was actually an anthology, and contained eleven features with the Superman feature being the first thirteen inside pages. Five years ago, a pristine copy  of this comic sold for a record $3,207,852 on an eBay auction. It was one of two hundred thousand that were printed. 

(12) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born April 18, 1884 Frank R. Paul. An employee of editor Hugo Gernsback, he largely defined the look of both cover art and interior illustrations in the pulps of the Twenties from Amazing Stories at first and later for Planet StoriesSuperworld Comics and Science Fiction. He also illustrated the cover of Gernsback’s own novel, Ralph 124C 41+: A Romance of the Year 2660. You can see his cover for Amazing Stories, August 1927 issue , illustrating The War of the Worlds here. (Died 1963.)  
  • Born April 18, 1922 Nigel Kneale. Writer of novels and scripts merging horror and SF, he’s  best remembered  for the creation of the character Professor Bernard Quatermass. Though he was a prolific British producer and writer, he had only one Hollywood movie script, Halloween III: Season of the Witch. (Died 2006.)
  • Born April 18, 1945 Karen Wynn Fonstad. She designed several atlases of fictional worlds including The Atlas of Middle-earthThe Atlas of Pern and The Atlas of the Dragonlance World. (Died 2005.)
  • Born April 18, 1946 Janet Kagan. “The Nutcracker Coup” was nominated for both the Hugo Award for Best Novelette and the Nebula Award for Best Novelette, winning the Hugo at ConFrancisco. She has but two novels, one being Uhura’s Song, a Trek novel, and quite a bit of short fiction which is out in The Complete Kagan from Baen Books and is available from the usual digital suspects. (Died 2008.)
  • Born April 18, 1952 Martin Hoare. I’m not going to attempt to restate what Mike stares much better in his obituary here. (Died 2019.) 
  • Born April 18, 1965 Stephen Player, 55. He’s deep into Pratchett’s Discworld and the fandom that sprung up around it. He illustrated the first two Discworld Maps, and quite a number of the books including the25th Anniversary Edition of The Light Fantastic and The Illustrated Wee Free Men. Oh but that’s just a mere wee taste of he’s done as he did the production design for the Sky One production of Hogfather and The Colour of Magic. He did box art and card illustrations for Guards! Guards! A Discworld Boardgame. Finally he contributed to some Discworld Calendars, games books, money for the Discworld convention. I want that money. 
  • Born April 18, 1969 Keith R. A. DeCandido, 51. I found him with working in these genre media franchises: such as Supernatural, Andromeda, FarscapeFireflyAliensStar Trek In its various permutations, Buffy the Vampire SlayerDoctor WhoSpider-ManX-MenHerculesThorSleepy Hollow,and Stargate SG-1. Has he ever written a novel that was a media tie-in? 
  • Born April 18, 1971 David Tennant, 49. Eleventh Doctor and my favorite of the modern Doctors along with Thirteen whom I’m also very fond of. There are some episodes such as the “The Unicorn and The Wasp” that I’ve watched repeatedly.  He’s also done other spectacular genre work such as the downright creepy Kilgrave in Jessica Jones, and and Barty Crouch, Jr. in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. He’s also in the Beeb’s remake of the The Quatermass Experiment as Dr. Gordon Briscoe.
  • Born April 18, 1973 Cora Buhlert, 47. With Jessica Rydill, she edits the Speculative Fiction Showcase, a most excellent site. She has a generous handful of short fiction professionally published, and she’s also a finalist for the Best Fan Writer Hugo this year. 

(13) COMICS SECTION.

  • Bizarro tells us what monsters sing.

(14) TOUGHER THAN DIAMOND? “DC to Sell New Comics. Here’s Why it Matters” is a Nerdist analysis of a potentially revolutionary development.

It’s been a wild month for comic book fans everywhere. Since the COVID-19 crisis fully took hold we’ve been getting used to new ways of living, working, and accessing our favorite art, even SDCC has been canceled! It was only a few weeks ago that Diamond–the comic book industry’s only physical distributor–would stop distributing single issues to comic shops. Since then, there have been plenty of rumors, failed plans, and new ideas. But now DC Comics has announced they will be selling comics directly to shops via two new distributors.

It’s great news for comics fans but also has massive implications for the future of the industry as a whole. We’re here to break down why.

… The fact that DC Comics is breaking with the exclusive deal Diamond has had with them for decades means that they are introducing two new distributors into the market for the first time in 20 years. It could essentially break the monopoly that Diamond has had on the industry. Possibly freeing up the proverbial trade routes that have long been under the control of one massive company….

(15) LEGACY OF THE PLAGUE. Sari Feldman looks ahead to “Public Libraries After the Pandemic” at Publishers Weekly.

…In a previous column, I wrote about the unprecedented library closures around the country in the wake of the pandemic. The value of public libraries is rarely questioned in times of crisis—think of the New Orleans Public Library after Hurricane Katrina, or the Ferguson Municipal Public Library during the unrest there. But this crisis—more specifically, the social distancing required to address this crisis—strikes at the very foundation on which the modern public library rests. And as the days go by, I find myself increasingly concerned about how libraries come back from these closures.

For one, I suspect that Covid-19 will change some people’s perspective on what can and should be shared. I fear many people will begin to overthink materials handling and the circulation of physical library collections, including books. It’s a reasonable assumption that people will emerge from this public health crisis with a heightened sense of risk related to germ exposure. How many of our patrons—particularly those with means—will begin to question the safety of borrowing books and other items from the library?

In terms of our buildings, open access for everyone has long been a celebrated library value. Public libraries have evolved, survived, and have even managed to thrive through a digital transformation by reconfiguring our spaces to be more social, more functional, and by offering more programs and classes. Can we maintain that in an age of social distancing? Will libraries need to supply gloves for shared keyboards? Will parents and caregivers still want to bring their children to a “Baby and Me” program? Will seniors still find respite in a library community?

(16) ONE PICTURE AND A THOUSAND WORDS. In “Revisiting Ursula K. Le Guin’s Novella About Interplanetary Racism” at New York Times Books, artist Ben Passmore visually comments on a Le Guin story.

A graphic novelist renders “The Word for World Is Forest,” a work that mixed the reality of racism with the fantasy of retribution.

(17) COUNTDOWN. In the Washington Post, Christian Davenport says NASA has authorized the first human spaceflight launching from the U.S. since 2011, with veterans Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley scheduled to go to the International Space Station on a SpaceX craft. “NASA sets a date for historic SpaceX launch, the first flight of NASA crews from U.S. in nearly a decade”.

…This time, though, the launch will be markedly different from any other in the history of the space agency. Unlike Mercury, Gemini, Apollo or the space shuttle era, the rocket will be owned and operated not by NASA, but by a private company — SpaceX, the hard-charging commercial space company founded by Elon Musk.

(18) KEEP YOUR DISTANCE. The Washington Post’s Travis M. Andrews says that last Saturday a giant music festival was held “featuring emo titans American Football, chiptune pioneers Anamanaguchi and electropop pioneer Baths,” but social distancing protocols were followed because this was a virtual festival that took place inside Minecraft. “Thousands gathered Saturday for a music festival. Don’t worry: It was in Minecraft.”

… Interested parties could “attend” in a few different ways. Some watched on the video game streaming site Twitch. To really get into the action, though, you needed to log into Minecraft, plug in the proper server info and, voilà!, you’d pop to life in a hallway and then explore the venue through your first-person viewpoint.

Purchasing a VIP pass (with real money) allowed access to special cordoned-off parts of the venue and the chance to chat with the artists on the gamer hangout app Discord. Meanwhile, the nearly 100,000 unique viewers on Twitch were encouraged to donate money to disaster recovery org Good360, which ended up with roughly $8,000 in proceeds.

(19) BIG SQUEEZE. “‘Bath sponge’ breakthrough could boost cleaner cars”

A new material developed, by scientists could give a significant boost to a new generation of hydrogen-powered cars.

Like a bath sponge, the product is able to hold and release large quantities of the gas at lower pressure and cost.

Made up of billions of tiny pores, a single gram of the new aluminium-based material has a surface area the size of a football pitch.

The authors say it can store the large volume of gas needed for practical travel without needing expensive tanks.

…As well as developing electric vehicles, much focus has been on hydrogen as a zero emissions source of power for cars.

The gas is used to power a fuel cell in cars and trucks, and if it is made from renewable energy it is a much greener fuel.

However, hydrogen vehicles suffer from some drawbacks.

The gas is extremely light – In normal atmospheric pressure, to carry 1kg of hydrogen which might power your car for over 100km, you’d need a tank capable of holding around 11,000 litres.

To get around this problem, the gas is stored at high pressure, around 700 bar, so cars can carry 4-5kg of the gas and travel up to 500km before refilling.

That level of pressure is around 300 times greater than in a car’s tyres, and necessitates specially made tanks, all of which add to the cost of the vehicles.

Now researchers believe they have developed an alternative method that would allow the storage of high volumes of hydrogen under much lower pressure.

The team have designed a highly porous new material, described as a metal-organic framework.

(20) CREDENTIAL TO KILL. NPR reveals what your SJW credential already knew — nature is full of self-propelled cat food: “The Killer At Home: House Cats Have More Impact On Local Wildlife Than Wild Predators”.

What does an outdoor cat do all day? According to new research, it could be taking a heavy toll on local wildlife.

A tracking study of more than 900 house cats shows when they kill small birds and mammals, their impact is concentrated in a small area, having a bigger effect than wild predators do….

“Even though it seems like their cat isn’t killing that many, it really starts to add up,” said Roland Kays, a scientist at North Carolina State University and the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences. (Full disclosure: Kays isn’t a cat or dog person but a “ferret person.”)

Kays and colleagues collected GPS data from cats in six countries and found most cats aren’t venturing very far from home.

“These cats are moving around their own backyard and a couple of their neighbors’ backyards, but most of them are not ranging very much further,” Kays said. “So initially I thought: ‘Oh, this is good news. They’re not going out into the nature preserves.’ “

Then Kays factored in how much cats kill in that small area. Some cats in the study were bringing home up to 11 dead birds, rodents or lizards a month, which doesn’t include what they ate or didn’t bring home to their owners.

“It actually ends up being a really intense rate of predation on any unfortunate prey species that’s going to live near that cat’s house,” he said.

(21) FLASHER. “Deep Sea Squid Communicate by Glowing Like E-Readers”NPR item includes video so readers can test whether they see the patterns.

Deep in the Pacific Ocean, six-foot-long Humboldt squid are known for being aggressive, cannibalistic and, according to new research, good communicators.

Known as “red devils,” the squid can rapidly change the color of their skin, making different patterns to communicate, something other squid species are known to do.

But Humboldt squid live in almost total darkness more than 1,000 feet below the surface, so their patterns aren’t very visible. Instead, according to a new study, they create backlighting for the patterns by making their bodies glow, like the screen of an e-reader.

“Right now, what blows my mind is there’s probably squid talking to each other in the deep ocean and they’re probably sharing all sorts of cool information,” said Ben Burford, a graduate student at Stanford University.

Humboldt squid crowd together in large, fast-moving groups to feed on small fish and other prey.

“When you watch them it looks like frenzy,” Burford said. “But if you pay close attention, they’re not touching each other. They’re not bumping into each other.”

(22) THE HORROR. Consequence of Sound introduces a video publicizing Stephen King’s novella collection — “Stephen King Reads From New Book If It Bleeds: Watch”.

Stephen King jumped into the live stream game on Friday afternoon. The Master of Horror flipped on the camera to read the first chapter from his new book If It BleedsAs previously reported, the book collects four different novellas — similar to Different Seasons or Four Past Midnight — and is available for Constant Readers on April 21st.

Wearing a Loser/Lover shirt from It: Chapter One, which is just all kinds of charming, King read from the first novel Mr. Harrigans Phone. The story continues the author’s mistrust of technology in the vein of Cell, and should make us all think twice about our respective smart phones. So, think about that as you watch King from your couch.

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

Pixel Scroll 1/16/17 I’m A Boxticker, Jim, Not A Pixel!

(1) DEDICATED TO MEREDITH. It’s ”Appreciate a Dragon Day”.  According to the Donita K. Paul website:

Appreciate a Dragon Day was started in 2004 by Mrs. Paul to celebrate the release of DragonSpell. We encourage you to join us as we celebrate literacy and have some fun!

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(2) NEANDERTHALS. Jon Mooallem delivers a thoroughly fascinating account of paleoanthropological research in “Neanderthals Were People, Too” at the New York Times.

For millenniums, some scientists believe, before modern humans poured in from Africa, the climate in Europe was exceptionally unstable. The landscape kept flipping between temperate forest and cold, treeless steppe. The fauna that Neanderthals subsisted on kept migrating away, faster than they could. Though Neanderthals survived this turbulence, they were never able to build up their numbers. (Across all of Eurasia, at any point in history, says John Hawks, an anthropologist at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, “there probably weren’t enough of them to fill an N.F.L. stadium.”) With the demographics so skewed, Stringer went on, even the slightest modern human advantage would be amplified tremendously: a single innovation, something like sewing needles, might protect just enough babies from the elements to lower the infant mortality rate and allow modern humans to conclusively overtake the Neanderthals. And yet Stringer is careful not to conflate innovation with superior intelligence. Innovation, too, can be a function of population size. “We live in an age where information, where good ideas, spread like wildfire, and we build on them,” Stringer told me. “But it wasn’t like that 50,000 years ago.” The more members your species has, the more likely one member will stumble on a useful new technology — and that, once stumbled upon, the innovation will spread; you need sufficient human tinder for those sparks of culture to catch.

I picked that paragraph because it reminds me of Robert Zubrin’s argument about the need for population growth as a prerequisite in developing a starship.

To achieve a 200-times increase over today’s GDP, we will need a population of 54 billion. We will need energy of 2500 terawatts by the year 2200.

Pounding away at the opposite conclusions reached in Paul Ehrlich’s famous book The Population Bomb, Zubrin said, “If humans destroyed more than they made, the earth would be barren already. The real resource is human creativity.” Every mouth comes with a pair of hands and a brain. If we accept Malthusian advice, and act to reduce the world’s population, we will impoverish the future by denying it the contributions the missing people could have made.

(3) THE AI TROPE. Ann Leckie’s “Vericon 2016 GoH Speech” overflows with interesting ideas, just like her fiction.

The very first robot story–the first ever use of the word “robot” in fact–is a robot uprising story. But when Karel ?apek wrote RUR he wasn’t worried about artificial intelligence. The robots of his story aren’t mechanical, they’re made of some sort of synthetic biological material. And the word “robot” which ?apek famously coined, comes from a Czech word for “slave.” It’s a story about the revolt of people made on an assembly line (the first actual assembly line had debuted just ten years earlier). It’s a story about the rebellion of people who were built to be the cheapest, most efficient workers possible, workers you didn’t have to pay, or feed anything in particular, or take any notice or care of. In other words, slaves. And ?apek ‘s story hit a nerve. It didn’t just give us the word for robot, it is the ultimate model for nearly all the robot uprising stories since. So that model–robots as slaves, with all the assumed dangers attendant on enslaving people who outnumber you–is the model we’re using when we think about super smart machines. This has not been lost on any number of science fiction writers, who have used robot and AI stories to comment explicitly on oppression and racism. But just personally–well, I won’t go into my problems with the whole “slaves in my allegory are machines and the masters are human beings” bit, though that’s kind of icky when you think about it, but on top of that I think it’s a dangerous model to use as a basis for actual, serious real world predictions about artificial intelligence.

(4) AUSSIE FANHISTORY. Now available at eFanzines.com, issues of iOTA, a fanzine with news of Leigh Edmonds’ Australian fandom history project.

Here are a pair of excerpts from iOTA #2:

  • The purpose of this little efanzine is to serve as a progress report on my current history project which is to research and write a history of Australian fandom, focusing on the period between 1956 and 1975. It is also a place where I can publish little bits and pieces of the writing and art of Australia’s fan past to help introduce you to the rich vein of material that previous generations of fans have left us.
  • Fanzine Review what you missed in 1939. Our friend Robin Johnson turns up with the most interesting things at times.  Usually it is old airline timetables – and we share an interest it air transport so we can find hours of harmless interest and amusement in airline timetables – but not on this occasion. This time it was a little fanzines with a pink cover produced in the old fashioned way using carbon paper.  (If you are not aware of this form of reproduction, I’m thinking about writing a little series called something like ‘Reproductive Pleasures’ in some future issues.  Some people have never heard of carbon paper, which means that they are young and happy folk.) This little pink and carbon paper produced fanzine is Ultra 1, produced by Eric Russell in Sydney, bearing the date October 1939.  It is probably the fourth fanzine title to be published in Australia after John Devern’s single issue of Science Fiction Review published in February 1939, Australian Fan News, a single issue of which was published by William Veney, Bert Castellari and Eric Russell in May 1939 and three issues of the JSC Bulletin (Junior Science Club) published by Vol Molesworth and Ken Jeffreys in June 1939.  (Thanks to Chris Nelson for his extensive research in this area.)  Of these early titles Ultra was among the early successful Sydney fanzines, seeing fourteen issues published between October 1939 and December 1941 when the commencement of the Pacific War brought an end to most of this kind of frivolity in Australia.

(5) GERONIMO! Neil Clarke has quit his day job and gone into editing full-time.

I’m quite excited—and a little terrified—by the prospect of taking the leap. There are a bunch of uncertainties, like healthcare costs and filling the income gap between Lisa’s new job and my old one, but we’re close enough to give this career switch a try. As some of you know, this has been a major goal of mine since my heart attack four years ago. At age fifty, and after ten years working part-time, I’m finally going to be a full-time editor!

Naturally, my first priority has to be those uncertainties I mentioned: income gap and insurance. As I see it, I have a few things to target:

  1. I’ve altered the Clarkesworld Patreon goals to include direct salary and healthcare expenses. Would be nice if it was that simple, but I figure it’s worth putting out there….

(6) HOW TO MAKE IT TO THE FINISH LINE.  The New York Times tells “Obama’s Secret to Surviving the White House Years: Books”. Some of these titles are of genre interest.

Even books initially picked up as escape reading like the Hugo Award-winning apocalyptic sci-fi epic “The Three-Body Problem” by the Chinese writer Liu Cixin, he said, could unexpectedly put things in perspective: “The scope of it was immense. So that was fun to read, partly because my day-to-day problems with Congress seem fairly petty — not something to worry about. Aliens are about to invade!”

…To this day, reading has remained an essential part of his daily life. He recently gave his daughter Malia a Kindle filled with books he wanted to share with her (including “One Hundred Years of Solitude,” “The Golden Notebook” and “The Woman Warrior”). And most every night in the White House, he would read for an hour or so late at night — reading that was deep and ecumenical, ranging from contemporary literary fiction (the last novel he read was Colson Whitehead’s “The Underground Railroad”) to classic novels to groundbreaking works of nonfiction like Daniel Kahneman’s “Thinking, Fast and Slow” and Elizabeth Kolbert’s “The Sixth Extinction.”…

(7) CERNAN OBIT. “Gene Cernan, last man to walk on Moon, dies aged 82” reports the BBC.

Captain Cernan was one of only three people to go to the Moon twice and the last man to leave a footprint on the lunar surface in 1972.

The final words he spoke there were: “We leave as we came and, God willing, as we shall return with peace and hope for all mankind.”

He was the commander of the Apollo 17 mission at the time.

Twelve people have walked on the Moon, and only six of them are still alive today

(8) THOUGHT FOR THE DAY

Neil Armstrong, recalling how it felt to look back at Earth from the surface of the moon: “I didn’t feel like a giant. I felt very, very small.”

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOY

  • Born January 16, 1948 – John Carpenter.

(10) QUOTABLE QUOTE: “In England, I’m a horror movie director. In Germany, I’m a filmmaker. In the US, I’m a bum.” – John Carpenter.

(11) BRANDON EASTON INTERVIEW. From Motherboard, “How Diversity Writing Programs Can Help Sci-Fi Live Up to Its Ideals”.

Motherboard: What do you think is really the problem that people aren’t talking about?

Brandon Easton: A lot of the reason why white writers who are entry level aren’t getting work has nothing to do with diversity programs. It’s because showrunners are hiring their buddies who are also EP’s [executive producers] and co-producer level who have these immense salaries that eat up the budget, so that they can’t hire anybody underneath a story editor level. This is what’s going on. Everyone knows this, yet still you have all these disgruntled writers scapegoating diversity programs instead of talking about the real issue at hand, which is nepotism. If you look at how many people graduate from these programs every year that number is so fucking low, it doesn’t even register as a percentage.

Motherboard: Science fiction has a long history of being open-minded about multiculturalism. Some argue that it’s the most open-minded of the genres. Do you think that’s true?

Brandon Easton: Science fiction as a literary genre, in theory, has open-minded concepts. And the fact is that historically, black writers have not been allowed in because for a while the editors, the people who controlled it, the publishing industry itself, even if someone had a great story – once racial politics were revealed, those people didn’t get to work. Now, if you’re talking about TV and film, there has been some really cool stuff that has progressive undercurrents thematically, but, when it comes to hiring practices we still revert back to straight white men as writers and creators of science fiction. Again, I do believe science fiction in its content itself can be extremely progressive and extremely life affirming, but we’re talking about the content versus the content creators. And I think that’s the issue.

Motherboard: I still think science fiction is special versus the other genres. Not only historically in terms of casting, but because when I read the genre, I don’t care what the race of the writer is. I just want to be blown away. Show me a new way of thinking.

Brandon Easton: I don’t think anyone would disagree with that. What I’m saying is that it helps when people get the opportunity. That’s where the problem is. If you want to be really serious about it, the only genre that’s really helped black people more than anything else has been comedy. Historically, I’m going back to the early 1900s, comedy was the only place where black writers could get a chance to write. Several generations of mainstream black stars came out of comedy: Will Smith, Chris Rock, Dave Chappelle, Jamie Fox, Bill Cosby, Chris Tucker, Eddie Murphy, Steve Harvey, Tyler Perry, Wanda Sykes, Whoopi Goldberg and so many others. Comedy is where African Americans have had a shot, as opposed to science fiction, particularly television, has almost been completely closed to black writers.

(12) PRIZEWORTHY. Jonathan Edelstein’s picks in short fiction – “Another year of awards” at Haibane.

I’ll start with novelettes rather than short stories, because that way I can start with my favorite story of 2016: Polyglossia by Tamara Vardomskaya (GigaNotoSaurus, March 2016). GigaNotoSaurus doesn’t usually get much attention from reviewers and critics, but this is a rich, multi-layered story that is well deserving of an award.

Polyglossia is a story of linguistics, cultural survival, family and resistance to oppression – not necessarily in that order – set in a low-magic fantasy world that suggests the early twentieth century. I’ve mentioned before that I’m a fan of good world-building, and the world of this story is intricately detailed and plausible; more than that, the world-building is integrated into the plot and informs the characters’ actions such that no detail is wasted. The linguistics are also tightly integrated into the plot – the author is a Ph.D. candidate in linguistics with an interest in the philosophy of language, and it shows – and the politics of language and cultural preservation come to play a key part in its resolution. At the same time, the story calls into question what we call family, what duties we owe to our ancestors, and how to balance those duties against the exigencies of politics. Polyglossia is rewarding on several levels – thus far, I’ve never failed to get something new out of it with each rereading – and if I had to pick one story that defined speculative fiction for me in 2016, it would be this one.

(13) STEALING A MARCH. Dan Wolfgang very carefully avoids stepping on Sarah A. Hoyt’s Sad Puppies turf while offering slates for the Dragon Awards and Hugo Awards in “A Very Special Message About Pooka Related Sadness”.

Sad_Pookas--678x381

The post is labeled “satire,” but here are typical examples of the names and works populating the slates:

Best Editor, Long Form

Best Semiprozine

Best Fanzine

(14) ROCKET RESOURCE. Greg Hullender sends word that Rocket Stack Rank has posted its page to help people pick artists for the 2017 Best Professional Artist Hugo.

We’ve added some features to make this easier to use, based on our own use (we’ve both already used it ourselves to make our own nominations) but we’ve realized that Eric and I use it very differently, so we’d welcome feedback from others. As with much else involving awards, there’s no one “right” way, so it’s good to support a number of different ways.

Eric is the artistic one (he can actually draw), so he wants to see several pieces by the same artist and makes judgments on that artist’s style overall. When he sees things he likes, he wants to visit that artist’s site, look at their gallery—even read interviews with the artist.

I don’t know art, but I know what I like. I want to quickly flip through all the pictures, extract the ones that I like, and then winnow down the list. (“Extract” means “Press ctrl-click on the author’s name at the top of the lightbox.” That opens a new tab, with that author’s work at the top of it.)

So this year the list contains eligible pictures as well as some that aren’t eligible (either they’re from last year or else they’re from semiprozines). The award is for an artist, not a particular work, after all, and this provides a bit more context on many of the artists. No one is listed who doesn’t have at least one eligible work, though, and those are highlighted.

Since the usual way to use the list is by opening the lightbox and then flipping through the pictures, we inserted an image of the Hugo rocket to separate artists. Eric found that useful, but I discovered that I paid almost no attention to which artist was which until after I’d selected about fifteen pictures I liked.

Winnowing the list wasn’t that hard (for me—Eric’s process was more sophisticated). I looked at all fifteen just at the thumbnail scale, and dropped three or four that I decided weren’t really as good. I dropped a few more because they really only had one picture I’d liked and the rest looked different. (In one case, I went to the artist’s home page to confirm that other pics in his/her gallery really did look like the single picture I was using to judge.) When I had six, I eliminated one because I didn’t like any of that artist’s pictures that were actually qualified for 2016. (So much for the idea that it’s about the artist, not the art.)

To fill out the Hugo Ballot, I copy/paste the author’s name from the web site and for the example of that author’s work, I use a link to that artist’s place on the main Professional Artists’ page. For example, http://www.rocketstackrank.com/2017/01/2017-professional-artists.html#JulieDillon points to Julie Dillon’s work on our page. (It’s what you get when you click on her name in the lightbox.)

We’d love to know how well this works for other filers and what we might do to make it better.

(15) HIDDEN HISTORY. Lauren Sarner, in “Tim Powers Loves Conspiracies” at Inverse, interviews the author of The Anubis Gates, Last Call and Declare about hanging out with Philip K. Dick and the allure of conspiracy.

What was Philip K. Dick like?

Since his death, there has arisen a kind of caricature of him. If you just read casually, you’d get the impression that he was this drug addled, crazy visionary who imagined God spoke to him. Actually he was a very sociable, funny, realistic, generous, gregarious friend. Not at all the William Blake crazy mystique the general impression has become. If you read his last few books, like VALIS and The Transmigration of Timothy Archer, you can see that this was a rational, skeptical, humorous person. But it always does annoy me when people say, ‘Didn’t he like live in a cave and wander up and down the street talking to himself?’

(16) YOU CAN TELL A BOOK (COVER) BY ITS COVER. JJ sent this link — “The Cover of Each Max Gladstone Book Has Predicted the Cover of the Next One” from Tor.com — with a recommendation:

Okay, this is not new, but it is too fucking funny (you have to read all the way to the end for the final cover).

I say it lives up to the hype…

(17) RESURRECTED TALENT. IMDB shows some pretty hefty credits for Citizen Vader (2014):

A lonely widower stalks his deserted mansion, gloomily contemplating ending his own life. His last word may hold the key to what has sent him down this dark path.

 

Writing Credits (in alphabetical order)

Aidan Duffy
George Lucas (characters)
Orson Welles (characters)

Music Department

Bernard Herrmann original score music
John Williams original score music

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, JJ, Hampus Eckerman, Aziz H.Poonawalla, Cat Rambo, Andrew Porter, and Michael J. Walsh for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Peer Sylvester.]