Pixel Scroll 9/17/21 I Want To Scroll What The Pixel On The Table Number 5 Is Scrolling

(1) STATUES OF LIMITATIONS. After much consideration, Constance Grady says overthinking the book was a mistake: “The meditative empathy of Susanna Clarke’s Piranesi” at Vox.

…The first time I read Piranesi, I scribbled notes about each statue. The minotaurs by the entrance to the House evoke the myth of the labyrinth, which is what the wicked Laurence Arne-Sayles calls the House. An elephant carrying a castle puns on the famous Elephant and Castle inn in London. A woman carrying a beehive — well, certainly that could be a reference to any number of classical myths, which tend to feature bees as a chthonic symbol for life, death, and the soul.

But early on, Clarke makes a point of aiming her readers away from such mechanical, goal-oriented reading.

Piranesi knows of only one other living human, a man he calls the Other who visits the House every so often. The Other believes that the House contains the key to some secret Knowledge that mankind used to possess but has now lost. Once he gets it back, the Other believes, he’ll have the power of flight, immortality, and control over weaker souls.

Piranesi dutifully searches the House for the Knowledge the Other is seeking, but without all that much interest. Eventually, he is struck by an epiphany: The Knowledge, he realizes, is not the point of the House….

(2) LET’S HEAR FROM A PICKER OF LOW-HANGING FRUIT. The Atlantic’s Ian Bogost demands to know “Why Are Ebooks So Terrible?”

…If you hate ebooks like I do, that loathing might attach to their dim screens, their wonky typography, their weird pagination, their unnerving ephemerality, or the prison house of a proprietary ecosystem. If you love ebooks, it might be because they are portable, and legible enough, and capable of delivering streams of words, fiction and nonfiction, into your eyes and brain with relative ease. Perhaps you like being able to carry a never-ending stack of books with you wherever you go, without having to actually lug them around. Whether you love or hate ebooks is probably a function of what books mean to you, and why…

(3) FOUNDATION BUILDERS. ComingSoon introduces a short video with quotes from the showrunner David Goyer:“Foundation Featurette: Apple Brings the Sci-Fi Masterpiece to the Screen”

…The Foundation featurette highlights the massive influence it had on other popular sci-fi stories including Dune and Star Wars. They also talked about the process of finally adapting the novel to the screen after several decades since it was first published. They also went on to tease the series’ epic scale in terms of storytelling, ambitious story, characters, and world-building….

(4) HEADLEY’S BEOWULF TRANSLATION WINS AWARD. The Academy of American Poets announced that Maria Dahvana Headley’s Beowulf: A New Translation has won the Harold Morton Landon Translation Award, a $1,000 prize recognizing a published translation of poetry from any language into English that shows literary excellence. Indran Amirthanayagam judged.

(5) EATING THE FANTASTIC. Scott Edelman posted a bonus episode of Eating the Fantastic podcast to let you listen to four comic book cognoscenti celebrate Steve Ditko.

Javier Hernandez, Zack Kruse, Carl Potts, and Arlen Schumer 

Last Saturday, something magical happened at the Bottle Works Ethnic Arts Center in Johnstown Pennsylvania — a one-day mini-convention was held to honor a hometown hero, the legendary Steve Ditko. And because the event was organized with the cooperation of his family, I was not only able to spend time with other comic fans and creators, but was privileged with the presence of Ditko’s nephews and brother as well.

Since you couldn’t be there with me, I decided to get some of the mini-con’s special guests to share their stories here about Steve Ditko’s life and legacy. Because this is a podcast which uses food to loosen the tongues of its guests, and since there was no time during the short one-day event to head out for lunch or dinner, I brought along a Spider-Man PEZ dispenser so I could offer my guests candy. Plus I ran over to Coney Island Johnstown — in business for more than a century — and picked up some gobs — think of them as a regional variation of whoopee pies — which I handed out to some of my guests before we began chatting.

As I wandered the exhibitors area, I was able to grab time with four guests — Javier Hernandez, Zack Kruse, Carl Potts, and Arlen Schumer — all of whom had taken part earlier that day on a panel about Steve Ditko.

(6) BOOK REVIEW OF VERY OLD RIDDLES. Paywalled at the New York Times, “What Has One Eye and 1,200 Heads? An Old English Riddle, That’s What!”, reviewing) The Old English And Anglo-Latin Riddle Tradition (Harvard University, $35), a comprehensive new collection beautifully edited by the Oxford professor Andy Orchard, demonstrates, everything you need to know about crosswords you can learn from Anglo-Saxon riddles: Riddles are the ür-crossword puzzles.

Daniel Dern sent the link with these notes:

While probably most anybody these days, fan or otherwise, is familiar with the Bilbo/Gollum “Riddle” chapter in THE HOBBIT, ditto more generally with Batman’s riddlemanic foe “The Riddler,” how many fans instantly flash on (or more to the point, what’s the rough age threshhold below which fans don’t) the (sf) book citation for “What city has two names twice?”), or simply “Do you like riddles? Raetseln?” [Dutch, spelling here from memory, but that I could look up in my copy of the book if need be ]

Answer (rot13’d)

“Rneguzna, Pbzr Ubzr” — Ibyhzr 3 bs Wnzrf Oyvfu’f PVGVRF VA SYVTUG grgenybtl

That said, the essay/review itself is somewhat dry — it doesn’t even offer a sample riddle until at least halfway through. Probably worth at least library-borrowing, though.

(7) FIYAHCON 2021. The online con is in full swing and the committee is making available videos of some of its panels here.

(8) BASEDCON. Rob Kroese’s BasedCon starts today.

Well, the cons I’m familiar with, if they hadn’t stayed in the black the first year there’d have been no second year. Surprising to hear there’s another kind.

(9) EARLY TREKZINES. The Internet Archive includes a “Media Fanzine Collection”. Skipping past the intro, I was intrigued to see some of the well-known early Trek fanzines displayed, such as Spockanalia. The cover on the example here boasts “Third Printing.” Holy cow – a fanzine with a demand that took multiple editions to satisfy! I blush to admit I still haven’t unloaded all the copies of the early mimeo issues of File 770.

The practice of making media print zines began in the late 1960s via science fiction fandom where fanzines had been a popular fan activity since the 1930s. However, the content of science fiction zines is very different, consisting mostly of non-fiction and discussion about a variety of fannish topics, whereas media fanzines include, or consist solely of, fanfiction, art, poetry, as well as discussion, usually about television shows, films, and books. 

(10) EMMY BRACKETS. JustWatch.com, the streaming guide, sent along this set of Emmy nominee brackets, based on the audience approval scores their users have given them. Unfortunately, the only genre show that doesn’t get its ass kicked is The Underground Railroad. Even a phenomenonally popular show like The Mandalorian can’t get out of the first round. It is to weep. [Click for larger image.]

(11) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

  • 1964– Fifty-seven years ago this evening on ABC, a certain witch charmed her way into American homes as Bewitched first aired. It was created by Sol Saks who had done nothing notable before this and departed the show after the pilot was shot. It starred Elizabeth Montgomery as the good witch Samantha Stephens and two different men as her husband, Dick York for the first five before he became very ill, and Dick Sargent for the final three seasons. It did phenomenally well in the ratings early on but sagged later and eventually was cancelled. Hanna-Barbera produced the opening animation credits which you can see here.

It got remade as a film with Nicole Kidman which was not at all beloved by the audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes who currently give it a twenty five percent rating and it faired quite poorly at the box office, not breaking even. Oh, and there was a Seventies spin-off involving her daughter called Tabitha that had two pilots (the first tested quite badly) and lasted just eleven episodes.

(12) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born September 17, 1885 — George Cleveland. Actor who filmed scenes as Professor Hensley in a pair of Thirties Flash Gordon serials, Flash Gordon and Flash Gordon’s Trip to Mars (the latter saw his scenes get deleted). He later shows up as in the Drums of Fu Manchu serial as Dr. James Parker. (Died 1957.)
  • Born September 17, 1908 — John Creasey. English crime and SF writer who wrote well over than six hundred novels using twenty-eight different names. His SF writings were mostly in the Dr. Palfrey series, a British secret service agent named Dr. Stanislaus Alexander Palfrey, who forms Z5, which definitely has elements of SF. (Died 1973.)
  • Born September 17, 1917 — Art Widner. Editor of three well-known fanzines (Fanfare, Bonfire and YHOS). He’d eventually publish some one hundred sixty zines. He was one of the founding members of The Stranger Club, the pioneers of Boston fandom. He chaired Boskone I and Boskone II, the first two Boston SF conventions. He would be nominated for four Retro Hugos, and become a First Fandom Hall of Fame member. (Died 2015.)
  • Born September 17, 1920 — Dinah Sheridan. She was Chancellor Flavia in “The Five Doctors”, a Doctor Who story that brought together the First, Second, Third, Fourth and Fifth Doctors. Richard Hurndall portrayed the First Doctor, as the character’s original actor, William Hartnell, had died. If we accept Gilbert & Sullivan as genre adjacent, she was Grace Marston in The Story of Gilbert and Sullivan. (Died 2012.)
  • Born September 17, 1928 — Roddy McDowall. He is best known for portraying Cornelius and Caesar in the original Planet of the Apes film franchise, as well as Galen in the television series. He’s Sam Conrad in The Twilight Zone episode “People Are Alike All Over” and he superbly voices Jervis Tetch / The Mad Hatter in Batman: The Animated Series. And for your viewing interest, a clip from the Carol Burnett Show with Roddy McDowall wearing Planet of the Apes makeup here. (Died 1998.)
  • Born September 17, 1939 — Sandra Lee Gimpel, 82. In Trek’s “The Cage”, she played a Talosian. That led her to being cast as the M-113 creature in “The Man Trap”, another first season episode. She actually had a much larger work history as stunt double, though uncredited, showing up in sixty-eight episodes of Lost in Space and fifty-seven of The Bionic Woman plus myriad genre work elsewhere including They Come from Outer Space where she was the stunt coordinator.  
  • Born September 17, 1951 — Cassandra Peterson, 70. Yes, she’s Elvira, Mistress of The Dark, a character she’s played on TV and in movies before becoming the host of  Elvira’s Movie Macabre, a weekly horror movie presentation show in LA forty years ago. She’s a showgirl in Diamonds Are Forever which was her debut film, and is Sorais in Allan Quatermain and the Lost City of Gold. 
  • Born September 17, 1996 — Ella Purnell, 25. An English actress best remembered  as Emma in the Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children film. She’s also in Kick-Ass 2 as Dolce, she’s Natalie the UFO film that stars Gillian Anderson, and she was the body double for the young Jane Porter in The Legend of Tarzan. In a genre adjacent role, she was Hester Argyll in Agatha Christie’s Ordeal by Innocence.

(13) COMICS SECTION.

(14) WARP DRIVER. Laughing Squid draws attention to “A Campy Mercedes-Benz Ad That Inserts Their New 2021 Electric Vehicle Into a 1979 Science Fiction Film”. And remember – you can never have too many tentacles.

“Mercedes-Benz “Future 2021” is a wonderfully campy ad by Nina Holmgren that inserts their new Mercedes-Benz electric G-Wagen vehicle for 2021 into a very over-the-top science fiction film of the late 1970s. This future, which could ever only be dreamed of back in 1979, has finally come true today.

(15) MAYBE HE WAS ASKING THE WRONG QUESTION? In The Hollywood Reporter “LeVar Burton Says He’s Over ‘Jeopardy!’ Debacle”. Now, he told the host of The Daily Show, he’s thinking of developing his own game.

…Through the host replacement mess, Burton admitted to [Trevor] Noah he discovered he was not that interested in the gig after all.

“The crazy thing is that when you set your sights on something, you know, they say be careful of what you wish for, because what I found out is that it wasn’t the thing that I wanted after all,” said Burton. “What I wanted was to compete. I mean, I wanted the job, but then when I didn’t get it, it was like, ‘Well, OK, what’s next?’ And so, the opportunities that have come my way as a result of not getting that gig, I couldn’t have dreamt it up. If you had given me a pen and paper and said, ‘Well, so what do you want this to really look like?’ If it doesn’t include Jeopardy! I wouldn’t have been this generous to myself.”

Not going into too much detail, Burton said he had something in the works he was sure his fans were going to enjoy, saying, “I never thought about hosting any other game show outside of Jeopardy! But now, they went in a different direction with their show, which is their right, and now I’m thinking, ‘Well, it does kind of make sense, let me see what I can do.’ So we’re trying to figure out what the right game show for LeVar Burton would be.”…

(16) CORRECTED EDITION. The NESFA Press is letting everyone know they put out a new edition of their ebook Ingathering by Zenna Henderson that fixes the problems mentioned in a Tony Lewis quote run in a recent Scroll.

We have updated the contents of the NESFA Press eBook of Ingathering by Zenna Henderson. This second edition was necessary due to several OCR issues. NESFA Press is committed to the highest quality in the content of our books and will aggressively address any typos or other problems with the text of our eBooks.

To purchase the new version of Ingathering, go to the NESFA Press online store: http://nesfapress.org/, and search for “Ingathering”. People who have purchase the previous version of Ingathering, can download the new version using the link they received. Please direct any problems or questions to the email address below.

(17) UNDER THE NAME OF SANDERS. Inside the Magic tells how “YOU Can Stay at Winnie the Pooh’s House in the Hundred Acre Wood”. Photo gallery at the link.

If you love Winnie the Pooh characters — and, really, who doesn’t adore A.A. Milne’s “Silly Ol’ Bear” and all of his friends? — you’re going to want to bounce like Tigger when you see Airbnb’s latest offering, designed especially for the 95th Anniversary of the Hundred Acre Wood pals….

(18) WHY AM I BACK? SYFY Wire introduces a “Robot Chicken clip with Seth MacFarlane as Palpatine”.

…Now into its 11th season, Adult Swim’s longest running series is currently airing new episodes daily at midnight ET/PT. Among all the madness, there’s a sketch that confronts that really confounding plot point in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker that finds Emperor Palpatine (Ian McDiarmid) suddenly returning from The Return of the Jedi dead… just because. Ahead of its upcoming debut, SYFY WIRE has an exclusive look at the sketch, which features Seth MacFarlane (Family Guy, The Orville) voicing the mechanically challenged Palps….

(19) HARRY POTTER’S FLAGSHIP. Is it a store? A theme park? It’s whatever you need it to be to separate you from your cash! The Drum takes us on a tour: “Inside Warner Bros’ spellbinding retail experience Harry Potter New York”.

…All of these elements create a retail experience that speak to consumers’ growing demands for experience-infused shopping, says Warner Bros’s vice president and general manager of retail experiences Karl Durrant. “There is no doubt that consumer behavior has changed. Digital retail was becoming popular even before the pandemic hit. It’s more important than ever to give consumers a reason to visit a store and to make it an event.”

And to bring the immersive feeling to another level, Warner Bros, in partnership with Dreamscape Immersive, developed two unique VR experiences that bring visitors into the action. In ‘Chaos at Hogwarts’, users join Dobby in an adventure around Hogwarts to immobilize and collect pixies that the house elf accidentally released. The second VR experience, ‘Wizards Take Flight’, invites users to zoom around the skies above London via broomstick, warding off evil Death Eaters alongside Hagrid….

(20) ROBOCOP, TAKE TWO. “Singapore has patrol robots now! This should be fine” says Mashable. I like to think they will be programmed to keep making mad R2-D2 chirps at smokers til they snuff those ciggies.

Some robots were made to be your best friend. Some to unload 1600 boxes an hour. Some to do backflipspaint masterpieces. Some to inspect crime scenes. Others will tell you to quit smoking in prohibited areas and stop riding your motorbike on the footpath.

Singapore has started testing patrol robots that survey pedestrian areas in the city-state, where surveillance is a top and often controversial priority….

Named Xavier, the mall-cop robots will be autonomously rolling through the Toa Payoh Central district for three weeks from Sept. 5, scanning for “undesirable social behaviours” according to a press release (via Engadget) from the government’s Home Team Science and Technology Agency (HTX)….

(21) SIXTEEN SCROLLS. “Tennessee Cora” Buhlert was inspired by the title of yesterday’s Scroll to drop an instant classic in the comments.

Sixteen Scrolls
(with apologies to Merle Travis and Tennessee Ernie Ford)

Some people say a man is made outta mud.
A Filer’s made outta books, cons and blood,
Books and blood and films and cons.
We may look weak, but our minds are strong

You read 16 scrolls, what do you get?
Another day older and more books unread.
St. Leibovitz, don’t call me ’cause I can’t go,
I owe my soul to the Mount Tsundoku.

I was born one morning when the sun didn’t shine
I picked up a novel and said, “This looks fine.”
I read 16 pixels of number nine scroll
and the straw puppy said, “Well, a-bless my soul”

You read 16 scrolls, what do you get?
Another day older and more books unread.
St. Leibovitz, don’t call me ’cause I can’t go,
I owe my soul to the Series Hugo.

I was born one mornin’, it was drizzlin’ rain.
Reading and writing are my middle name.
I was raised in the library by an old mama lion
and no rabid puppy will make me walk the line

You read 16 scrolls, what do you get?
Another day older and more books unread.
St. Leibovitz, don’t call me ’cause I can’t go,
I owe my soul to the Novel Hugo.

If you see us comin’, better step aside.
A lotta dogs didn’t, a lotta dogs cried.
One fist science fiction, the other fantasy.
If the right one don’t get you
Then the left one will.

You read 16 scrolls, what do you get?
Another day older and more books unread.
St. Leibovitz, don’t call me ’cause I can’t go,
I owe my soul to the Mount Tsundoku.

(22) WEBINAR WITH BROTHER GUY. Brother Guy Consolmagno will be doing a Zoom event on October 1. “Your God Is Too Small: Vatican Observatory Director to offer a cosmic point of view in upcoming webinar”. Register to receive the link and a reminder. [Via Susan Schwartz.]

Brother Guy Consolmagno SJ is speaking on the contrast between the world and the cosmos that is becoming blurred as we begin to learn of the vastness of the cosmos in an upcoming Zoom event.

The free webinar, “Your God is Too Small,” will be hosted by the Center for Advanced Study in Religion and Science (CASIRAS) and Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago (LSTC) on Friday, October 1, at 5 p.m. CDT. Those interested in attending can register here. Also the event will be livestreamed on LSTC’s Facebook page.

“We need to understand that all those other planets are real places, part of the same universe created by God and redeemed by the Incarnation,” writes Consolmagno. “And God is Creator not only of other places but other times, before and beyond the time when we exist here on Earth.”

His presentation will dive into the meaning of being redeemed by the risen Christ in light of the immensity of time and space.

Br. Guy received the 2014 Carl Sagan Medal for outstanding communication by an active planetary scientist to the general public from the American Astronomical Society Division for Planetary Sciences. He is the author or co-author of four books exploring faith and science issues, including, Would You Baptize an Extraterrestrial? (with Paul Mueller), God’s Mechanics, Brother Astronomer, and The Way to the Dwelling of Light.

“It is rare to find someone so accomplished in science, theology, and philosophy, who can also communicate complex topics clearly to a general audience. Br. Guy is one of the best story-tellers I’ve ever known,” said Grace Wolf-Chase, senior scientist and senior education and communication specialist at the Planetary Science Institute.

(23) HONESTLY. In “Honest Game Trailers: Psychonauts 2” on YouTube, Fandom Games says this game features weird worlds, and characters whose heads weigh as much as their bodies.  But don’t expect any action, because ‘playing Psychonauts for the combat is like eating at Taco bell for the diarrhea.”

[Thanks to Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, N., Daniel Dern, Rick Kovalcik, Michael Toman, John King Tarpinian, and Cat Eldridge for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to contributing editor of the day Peer.]

Pixel Scroll 8/5/21 You’ve Got To Know When To Hodor’em, Know When To Scroll’em, Know When To White Walker Away

(1) BURTON OUT OF JEOPARDY, UNFORTUNATELY. LeVar Burton won’t succeed the late Alex Trebek as host of the game show Jeopardy! According to Deadline, the show’s executive producer Mike Richards will be taking the job.  

LeVar Burton tweeted today:

I have said many times over these past weeks that no matter the outcome, I’ve won. The outpouring of love and support from family, friends, and fans alike has been incredible! If love is the ultimate blessing and I believe that it is, I am truly blessed beyond measure.

Here’s a look-back at a recent show when LeVar Burton presided over “The Science Fiction Category”.

(2) WHO’S ON FIRST. “Doctor Who’s next showrunner is more important than its next Doctor” insists Radio Times.

…But the showrunner is responsible for literally everything – from the tone of the show to its look, its casting, its music… even, to a lesser degree, its format and structure. Yes, making Doctor Who – and indeed, any show like it – is a massive team effort, but the showrunner picks (or is at least involved in the hiring of) their writers, the composer, the production designer, the make-up artists, the casting director… all those talented folk whose hard work goes into putting the show together.

Think how distinct the Russell T Davies era is from the Steven Moffat era, and how different both are to Chibnall’s show. Bar a few cosmetic changes, Doctor Who starring Christopher Eccleston and Doctor Who starring David Tennant are broadly the same series. But there’d be no mistaking Moffat’s Who for Davies’ – yes, they’re ostensibly the same programme, but the visuals are different, the humour is different, certain of the tropes are different… everything has regenerated, far more dramatically than when the show switches out one lead actor for the next. (That lead actor, of course, is also picked by the showrunner – pending BBC approval.)…

(3) HUGO HISTORY UPDATE. [Item by Kevin Standlee.] Ben Yalow located a copy of the 1993 Hugo Awards Nominating & Final Ballot Details report and I have updated the 1993 Hugo Awards entry at the official Hugo Awards site with a copy of it.

Note that the rules in 1993 were different than they are today, and this report included what was required under the rules as they existed at that time.

[Editor’s egoscanning note: I see File 770 came in second, as it was wont to do in the Nineties.]

(4) ON YOUR MARK. Tenth Letter of the Alphabet has combed through the Official Gazette of the United States Patent Office and assembled a vast collection of “Pulp Fiction Trademarks” like these —

(5) ANOTHER CONLANG. “What Language Does Leeloo Speak In The Fifth Element?” – let Looper tell you.

…A lot of time and effort, including the formation of a special language, went into crafting “The Fifth Element,” with Besson working on the project for around 15 years. What some might not know is that the unique language Leeloo speaks in the film is called the Divine Language, and it’s actually a personal creation of Besson’s, made solely for the movie. 

The Divine Language that was developed for “The Fifth Element” only has around 400 words in total, but that’s certainly enough to carry a conversation. According to an interview with i-D, Jovovich gives Besson complete credit for the language’s creation, stating that “He brought me a dictionary of words. We would write each other letters in the language, so I was getting used to communication and speaking it.”… 

(6) UNDERSTANDING SILKPUNK. BookRiot’s Lyndsie Manusos has some definite opinions about “Silkpunk: What It Is And What It Definitely Is Not”. “Silkpunk does NOT apply to every speculative, science fiction, or fantasy book inspired by Asian history or culture. Here’s what it is.”

…In the long history of speculative and SFF genres, silkpunk is pretty new. It was invented by Ken Liu to describe his 2015 novel The Grace of Kings. Liu coined the term, and wrote a post on his website to delve into its definition. Liu’s post begins with: “No, [silkpunk is] not “Asian-flavored steampunk.” No, it’s not “Asian-influenced fantasy.” No, it’s not…

(7) A PAIR OF ACES. Molly Templeton pointed out to Tor.com readers where they can “Watch Martha Wells and Becky Chambers in Conversation”.

… The two discuss outlining (or not); television watching (Wells, like all wise viewers, enjoys Elementary); how much time Chambers thought about tea while writing Psalm; writing with compassion for your characters; and how excellent it is that more voices are telling their stories in SFF….

(8) TOP 10. ScreenRant shared the list of “The American Film Institute’s 10 Best Sci Fi Movies”. Guess what is only number six!!

6. Blade Runner

A cerebral film with lofty existential themes, Blade Runner is a duly highly regarded sci-fi film and often noted as one of the best of the sci-fi genre. Another Ridley Scott film – one of his best science fiction films – Blade Runner follows an officer and blade runner named Deckard that is tasked with tracking down and destroying four replicants, which are sentient robots that were deemed illegal after a replicant uprising on a faraway planet.

On Deckard’s journey to destroy, or retire, the replicants, he is faced with questions of what it means to be human and the accuracy or inaccuracy of perception of reality. Further, the film paints a bleak portrait of a potential future with animals being extinct and a highly polluted atmosphere, connecting to concerns that modern audiences have for the environment.

(9) STONE SOUP. At “Building Beyond: Leaf Me Alone”, Sarah Gailey is joined by Stephen Rider and Amal El-Mohtar to play with this writing prompt:

The global forest community has decided to cut off all economic and trading ties with the outside world. From now on, forest-based resources are for the forest alone.

(10) MEMORY LANE.

  • 1970 – Fifty one years at Heicon ’70 where John Brunner was the Toastmaster, Ursula Le Guin wins the Hugo for Best Novel for The Left Hand of Darkness. It was first published in 1969 as Ace SF Special, Series 1.  Other nominated works that year were Robert Silverberg’s Up the Line, Piers Anthony‘s Macroscope, Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.’s Slaughterhouse-Five and Norman Spinrad‘s Bug Jack Barron. It would also win a Nebula Award and be nominated for a Ditmar Award as well. 

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born August 5, 1906 John Huston. Yes, the Huston who directed  and wrote The Maltese Falcon graced our community. He was M in Casino Royale, and The Lawgiver in Battle for the Planet of the Apes. He was in Sherlock Holmes in New York as Professor Moriarty, and voiced Gandalf in The Return of The King. (Died 1987.)
  • Born August 5, 1929 Don Matheson. Best remembered for being Mark Wilson in Land of the Giants. He also had roles in Lost in Space (where he played in an alien in one episode and an android in another episode), Voyage to the Bottom of the SeaThe Alfred Hitchcock Hour, an Alice in Wonderland film and Dragonflight. (Died 2014.)
  • Born August 5, 1935 Wanda Ventham, 86. Mother of Benedict Cumberbatch. She’s been on Who three times, in “The Faceless Ones”, a Second Doctor story, in “Image of the Fendahl”, a Fourth Doctor story and finally in “Time and the Rani”, a Seventh Doctor story. She also had roles in The Blood Beast TerrorProject U.F.O and Captain Kronos: Vampire Hunter. She was often on British TV series including Danger ManThe SaintThe Avengers and The Prisoner. And yes, she was on his Sherlock series where she played…his mother.
  • Born August 5, 1940 Natalie Trundy, 81. First, she was one of the Underdwellers, named Albina, in Beneath the Planet of the Apes.  Next, she played Dr. Stephanie Branton, a specialist studying apes from the future who came into our present day in Escape from the Planet of the Apes.  Then in Conquest of the Planet of the Apes and Battle for the Planet of the Apes, she played the chimp Lisa.  As far as I can tell, she’s the only performer to play three different roles in the Apes films. 
  • Born August 5, 1947 Élisabeth Vonarburg, 74. Parisian born, she’s been a Quebec resident for four decades. She was the literary director of the French-Canadian SF magazine Solaris. Her first novel, Le Silence de la Cité, was published in 1981. Since then she’s been a prolific writer of novels and short fiction. I’m pleased to say that the usual suspects is deeply stocked in her works. Her website, in French of course, is here. She’s won ten Prix Aurora Awards for the best Canadian science fiction and fantasy works and activities in English and French. Très, très impressionnant! 
  • Born August 5, 1961 Tawny Kitaen. I first remember her in Hercules and the Circle of Fire as Deianeira, a role remarkable only for the minimalist costume she wore. She repeated the role throughout the series. Her first genre acting was actually in low budget horror flick Witchboard. And other than an appearance in a SF comedy series They Came from Outer Space, that’s it for her. (Died 2021.)
  • Born August 5, 1980 JoSelle Vanderhooft, 41. Former Green Man reviewer with a single novel so far, Ebenezer, and several collections, Steam-Powered: Lesbian Steampunk Stories and Steam-Powered II: More Lesbian Steampunk Stories which the former were nominated for a Lambda Award. She also co-edited with Steve Berman, Heiresses of Russ 2011: The Year’s Best Lesbian Speculative Fiction.

(12) COMICS HISTORY. “Let Otto Binder show you how the mid-’60s comic book sausage was made” at Scott Edelman’s blog.

Two more treasures found in my late sister-in-law Ellen Vartanoff’s collection — mid-’60s scripts by the extremely prolific comics writer Otto Binder. Wikipedia claims he wrote 4,400 stories under his own name — and 160 more under the pen-name Eando Binder…

…His [Otto Binder’s] story in Creepy adapted of one of the 10 stories he wrote for Amazing Stories with his brother Earl Binder (under the pen name Eando Binder) about the intelligent robot Adam Link.

Someday I’ll scan and share the entirety of both scripts, but for now, here’s a comparison of the first page of the Mighty Samson one, as well as the published page, with art by Frank Thorne — who’s perhaps best-known for his work on Marvel’s Red Sonja….

(13) DRAWN THAT WAY. Studio co-founder Alvy Ray Smith tells IEEE Spectrum readers “The Real Story of Pixar” – “How a bad hardware company turned itself into a great movie studio.”

…The story… goes back to a time when I and other researchers in computer graphics scattered around the United States began to see the technology as allowing a new art form: the creation of digitally animated movies. A handful of us began talking about when somebody would make the first one—”The Movie,” we called it—and the massive computing power it would take to pull it off. That kind of computing power was not affordable in the mid-1970s. But with Moore’s Law cranking along at a steady pace, there was every reason to think that the cost of computing power would come down sufficiently within a decade or so. In the meantime, we focused on developing the software that would make The Movie possible.

By definition, The Movie could incorporate no hand drawing. The tools to build it emerged piecemeal. First came the software that enabled computers to create two-dimensional images and, later, virtual 3D objects. Then we figured out how to move those objects, shade them, and light them before rendering them as frames of a movie….

…We kept the possibility of The Movie alive during the next five years with a series of short films, including Luxo Jr. (1986), nominated for an Academy Award; Tin Toy (1988) winner of an Academy Award; Red’s Dream (1987); and Knick Knack (1989). These were four of the sparkling jewels that sustained us during these otherwise tough years.

Each one of these pieces represented continued improvements in the underlying in-house technologies. Luxo Jr., for example, incorporated the first articulated objects that self-shadowed themselves from multiple light sources. Red’s Dream showed off our Pixar Image Computer: the principal background for the piece, a bicycle shop, was the most complex computer graphics scene ever rendered at the time….

(14) THEY’RE COMING TO TAKE ME AWAY. “R2-D2 is now a Tamagotchi you’ll forget about” predicts Engadget. (See demos at the company’s own interactive info page: Star Wars R2-D2 Tamagotchi.)

Disney and Bandai have teamed up to bring Artoo to the pockets of fans who don’t mind training, cleaning and looking after a needy, digital version of the droid wherever they are. …As you might expect from a Tamagotchi, you’ll interact with the toy using three physical buttons.

There are 19 skills for Artoo to learn. You’ll need to keep him charged and clean. Unlike with other Tamagotchis, you won’t have to clear up any poop from R2-D2 (he’s a droid, after all). A Lucasfilm spokesperson told Engadget that if R2-D2 sits for too long, he’ll accumulate dust. You can clean that away with the press of a button.

There are nine mini-games you can play with him, including firefighting and Star Wars staple Dejarik (or holochess). If you don’t keep the droid happy, some Jawas might arrive to take him away….

(15) FROM OUTSIDE OF TIME. Episode 37 of Octothorpe 37, a podcast about science fiction and SF fandom from John Coxon, Alison Scott, and Liz Batty, is available here.

 We didn’t record this week so this is the fabled EPISODE X, part of the SUMMER OF FUN (summer of fun). We discuss the Retro Hugo Awards and reading old books from a time when Graham Linehan was still on Twitter. Crazy.

(16) MINUS MEN. Y: The Last Man premieres September 13 — on FX on Hulu.

Based on DC Comics’ acclaimed series by Brian K. Vaughan and Pia Guerra, Y: The Last Man traverses a post-apocalyptic world in which a cataclysmic event decimates every mammal with a Y chromosome but for one cisgender man and his pet monkey. The series follows the survivors in this new world as they struggle with their efforts to restore what was lost and the opportunity to build something better.

(17) THE STARS BYE DESTINATION. Gizmodo knows why “This Blasted Star Is Getting the Hell Out of the Milky Way”.

Careening through the Milky Way at nearly 2 million miles per hour, the star LP 40–365 shows no signs of stopping. A team of astronomers recently figured out that the star was propelled into its current speedrun by a supernova explosion millions of years ago.

LP 40–365 is unusual. It’s a white dwarf, a small, compact star at the end of its life, and it’s very rich in metals. LP 40–365 also has own atmosphere, which is mostly composed of oxygen and neon. But most important to this story is that the star is a runaway from a huge stellar explosion, which set in motion its dash out of the galaxy….

(18) VIDEO OF THE DAY. In “Honest Game Trailers: Mario Golf”,  Fandom Games says this Mario Bros. line extension “turns the fusty game of golf into the PGA version of Death Race.”

[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, N., John Coxon, Daniel Dern, Scott Edelman, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, Michael Toman, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to contributing editor of the day Andrew (not Werdna).]

Pixel Scroll 7/30/21 I Never Could Get The Hang Of Scrolldays

(1) EATING THE FANTASTIC CELEBRATES EPISODE 150. Scott Edelman encourages listeners to binge on the Balkans with Eisner Award-winning comics writer Tom King in episode 150 of his Eating the Fantastic podcast.

Tom King

Tom started out in comics by interning for both DC and Marvel, where he was an assistant to X-Men writer Chris Claremont. After his comics-inspired debut novel A Once Crowded Sky was published in 2013, and after a stint in the CIA, he went on to write Batman and Mister Miracle for DC, The Vision for Marvel, and many other projects, which won him an Eisner Award in 2018 for Best Writer. Plus — and I only realized this while taking note of comic artist Joe Giella’s recent 93rd birthday — we’ve both written Supergirl stories — 43 years apart! But that’s not the only commonality to our comics careers, as you’ll soon hear.

We discussed the two questions no one in comics can answer, his attempt at age 11 to get a job at Archie Comics, how he goes back to the beginning when writing a classic character such as Supergirl, whether Alan Moore would have had the impetus to create Watchmen in today’s environment, our dealings with comic book censorship, the weird way Monica Lewinsky caused him not to get hired by MAD magazine, the differences we discovered early on between Marvel and DC, what he learned as an intern to the legendary Chris Claremont, the Black Knight pitch he got paid for which was never published, the way comic book people are like circus folk, why the current state of Krypto proves I could never go back to writing comics, and much more.

(2) WORDPLAY IN ANNIE. [Item by Daniel Dern.] Historically, the bad guys in the Annie comics have had names ranging from more-or-less backwards, to descriptive ones. (Sorry, can’t think of or find examples off the top of my head nor thru brief web search, no time to walk over to L/O/A books in bedroom bookshelf…) (The names in Dick Tracy are no slouch, neither.) Currently Annie features a villain called “Bandy Dessinay”… and if that sounds familiar:

Bandes dessinées (singular bande dessinée; literally ‘drawn strips’), abbreviated BDs and also referred to as Franco-Belgian comics (BD franco-belge), are comics that are usually originally in the French language and created for readership in France and Belgium.

As for why I recognized the rephoneticized term, it’s mostly from the year or three that I was subscribing to ComiXology Unlimited (their streaming digital comic book offering), where Bandes Dessinées was often one of the group/type categories along with (something like, IIRC) issues, series, collections.

Interestingly (at least, I think so), “Annie has appeared in the Dick Tracy comic strip after Little Orphan Annie was discontinued.” according to the Pigtails in Paint article on “Harold Gray’s Little Orphan Annie”.

Pogo fans will, of course, remember Albert Alligator and Beauregard Frontenac Bugleboy III (“The Faithful Dog”) (or perhaps Ponce de Leon Montgomery County Alabama Georgia Beauregard Possum, per a different web site) periodically gearing up as “Little Arfin’ Lulu,” with (his) eyes “all blunked out” and Sandy.

(3) PAPERBACK SHOW RETURNS. March 20, 2022 will be the date for the Los Angeles Vintage Paperback Collectors Show. The 42nd edition of the show (which had to skip 2021) will take place as usual at the Glendale Civic Auditorium, in Glendale, California.

(4) SHARPSON REVIEWED. [Item by Olav Rokne.] “The Future Refusing To Be Born” at The Hugo Book Club Blog. I keep thinking about the book, and how the author ties rejection of modernity (nostalgia) to authoritarianism. Definitely think that Sharpson will end up on my personal ballot for the Astounding Award based on this book. 

In Neil Sharpson’s debut novel When The Sparrow Falls, that place is The Caspian Republic: a country founded by expatriate American and Russian bioconservative activists, whose boundaries are roughly those of present-day Azerbaijan.

While the rest of the world has embraced an almost-singularitarian future of AI-guided mass prosperity, near immortality, and widespread expansive human rights, this Caspian Republic has hewed to a quasi-religious “Humanity First” doctrine and polices the use of technology.

…Sharpson’s prose is sparse, clear, and engaging. He ably paints a picture of a deeply flawed society, and one that is the all-too-believable result of nostalgia-driven politics and identity-driven ideology. Because the Caspian Republic’s technology is pretty much limited to what was common in North America in the 1980s, readers will be reminded of late-era Cold War spy stories….

(5) 100 YEARS OF LEM. The Viennese are participating in the Stanislaw Lem centenary reports Radio Poland: “Austrian capital honours Polish sci-fi great Lem”. See video of the dance on Facebook.

Lem’s centenary is being celebrated in Poland as the Year of Lem, and now Vienna, the writer’s home in the 1980s, has joined in, staging a series of musical events collectively dubbed the Lem Festival.

Poland’s Adam Mickiewicz Institute (IAM) is the driving force behind the project, in co-operation with the ImPuls Tanz festival and the Klangforum Wien ensemble.

During the events, which run through the end of July, dancers and musicians are expected to invite audiences “to reflect on the possibility of communication with ‘the Alien,'” according to the Polish institute.

This is because, a century after Lem was born, and following the NASA rover’s landing on Mars, this question has again become our civilisation’s most pressing problem, the organisers have said….

(6) THEY MADE IT. The Uncanny Kickstarter hit its initial funding goal – now they start work on the stretch goals.

(7) APEX AND ABOVE. Likewise, the Apex Magazine 2022 Kickstarter reached its basic goal and is rolling up its milestone rewards. First on the list, a story by Bonnie Jo Stufflebeam – who does a Q&A with publisher Jason Sizemore in the linked update.

JASON SIZEMORE: Do you and Levar Burton hang out? Talk a little about the process of working with Mr. Burton and hearing your words narrated by Mr. Reading Rainbow?

BONNIE JO STUFFLEBEAM: What an experience! I got an unexpected email from Julia Smith, the producer of LeVar Burton Reads, inviting me to be LeVar’s featured writer at his live Dallas event for my story “In the City of Martyrs.” I had no idea that this was an email that one could get, so I was immediately ecstatic to both appear live and to have my story appear on the podcast. The night of the show, I got to meet Julia and LeVar, both amazing and talented professionals, then got to hear LeVar read my story to musical accompaniment. After the reading, we did a Q&A with LeVar and then with the audience.

What I remember most from the event was LeVar’s generosity; he offered to meet-and-greet the very large group of people who came to support me. Also, the audience questions for the Q&A were perceptive as hell. The audience was clearly full of serious readers, and I’m not sure there’s a better feeling than to be surrounded by people who share that passion. Then, of course, there was the magic of hearing my short story read by a man whose voice I grew up listening to. Normally, I can’t divorce the reading of my own stories from the fact that I wrote them, but hearing LeVar read my work with a balalaika setting the story’s mood throughout, I got goosebumps.

(8) DISNEY GETS ROUGH. As reported here earlier, Scarlett Johansson filed a high-stakes breach of contract lawsuit against Disney over the release of Black Widow, alleging Disney broke its contract with her by releasing her solo feature on streaming platform Disney+ on the same day as theaters. Disney’s reply drags their star through the mud: “Disney blasts Scarlett Johansson’s ‘Black Widow’ suit: ‘No merit whatsoever’”.

…However, Disney pushed back hard against Johansson’s arguments. In a statement issued to Yahoo Finance, the media giant said, “There is no merit whatsoever to this filing. The lawsuit is especially sad and distressing in its callous disregard for the horrific and prolonged global effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.”…

Johansson’s representatives at CAA hit back: “Hollywood agent Bryan Lourd steps into Disney v Scarjo fight” in the Los Angeles Times.

“They have shamelessly and falsely accused Ms. Johansson of being insensitive to the global COVID pandemic, in an attempt to make her appear to be someone they and I know she isn’t,” Lourd, co-chairman of Creative Artists Agency said in a statement. Lourd represents some of Hollywood’s biggest stars besides Johansson, such as Brad Pitt and George Clooney. Disney did not respond to requests for comment on Lourd’s statement….

“Scarlett has been Disney’s partner on nine movies, which have earned Disney and its shareholders billions,” Lourd said. “The company included her salary in their press statement in an attempt to weaponize her success as an artist and businesswoman, as if that were something she should be ashamed of.”

(9) BLUE ORIGIN TRIES TO REVIVE NASA’S INTEREST. Blue Origin says it’s willing to cover $2 billion of the cost for a second lunar lander contract, should NASA award one. In a July 26th letter to NASA Administrator Bill Nelson, Blue Origin founder Jeff Bezos said his company is willing to waive up to $2 billion in payments over the current and next two government fiscal years in exchange for a fixed-priced contract. In April, NASA selected SpaceX as the recipient of its Human Landing System (HLS) contract, a decision that competitors Blue Origin and Dynetics protested shortly after. The full letter is at the link, here are some excerpts:

Blue Origin is committed to building a future where millions of people live and work in space to benefit the Earth….

This is why Blue Origin answered NASA’s urgent call to develop a Human Landing System. We built the National Team – with four major partners and more than 200 small and medium suppliers in 47 states – to focus on designing, building, and operating a flight system the nation could count on. NASA invested over half a billion dollars in the National Team in 2020-21, and we performed well. The team developed and risk-reduced a safe, mass-efficient design that could achieve a human landing in 2024. 

Our approach is designed to be sustainable for repeated lunar missions and, above all, to keep our astronauts safe. We created a 21st-century lunar landing system inspired by the well-characterized Apollo architecture — an architecture with many benefits. One of its important benefits is that it prioritizes safety. As NASA recognized, the National Team’s design offers a “comprehensive approach to aborts and contingencies [that] places a priority on crew safety throughout all mission phases.” 

Unlike Apollo, our approach is designed to be sustainable and to grow into permanent, affordable lunar operations. Our lander uses liquid hydrogen for fuel. Not only is hydrogen the highest-performing rocket fuel, but it can also be mined on the Moon. That feature will prove essential for sustained future operations on the Moon and beyond.

From the beginning, we designed our system to be capable of flying on multiple launch vehicles, including Falcon Heavy, SLS, Vulcan, and New Glenn. The value of being able to fly on many different launch vehicles cannot be over-stated…

Yet, in spite of these benefits and at the last minute, the Source Selection Official veered from the Agency’s oft-stated procurement strategy. Instead of investing in two competing lunar landers as originally intended, the Agency chose to confer a multi-year, multi-billion-dollar head start to SpaceX. That decision broke the mold of NASA’s successful commercial space programs by putting an end to meaningful competition for years to come…. 

(10) TED LEWIN (1935-2021). Illustrator and writer of children’s books Ted Lewin died July 28. Jane Yolen paid tribute on Facebook.

Heartbroken–this says it all. Ted and [his wife] Betsy were dear friends for many years and Ted illustrated David’s only children’s book (HIGH RIDGE GOBBLER) and a bunch of mine, Several of his originals for the books decorate my dining room. I see them everyday. Ted was a lovely, lovely man, a wonderful storyteller, who brought much beauty to the world.

Ted Lewin illustrated over 200 books, winning a 1994 Caldecott Honor for Peppe The Lamplighter. A number of these were done in collaboration with his wife, Betsy.

As a young man who wanted to go to art school at the Pratt Institute, he earned money to finance his education by taking a summer job as a professional wrestler – the beginning of a fifteen year part-time career that eventually inspired his autobiographical book I Was a Teenage Professional Wrestler.

Lewin’s professional honors also include a Silver Medal in the Society of Illustrators Annual Show (2007), and he and Betsy were inducted into the Society of Illustrators Hall of Fame in 2015. [Click below for larger image.]

(11) MEMORY LANE.

  • 1987  – In July of 1987, Emma Bull’s War for The Oaks was published by Ace Books. It would win a Locus Best First Novel Award and be nominated for a Mythopoeic Fantasy Award. This urban fantasy would get its own trailer courtesy of Will Shetterly who financed it instead of running for Governor. You’ll no doubt recognize many of the performers here as some of them are from Minnesota fandom.  Decades later, it was scheduled to have a hardcover edition from Tor Books but it got canceled after the books were printed. (They were printed. I have a signed one here.) And the music in War for The Oaks would later be done by Cats Laughing, a band that includes Emma Bull and other members of fandom with lyrics by John Ford, Steven Brust and others. 

(12) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born July 30, 1927 Victor Wong. I remember him best as the Chinese sorcerer Egg Shen in John Carpenter’s exemplary Big Trouble in Little China. He was also The Old Man in The Golden Child, Walter Chang in Tremors, Dr. Wong in the “China Moon” episode of the Beauty and the Beast series and Lee Tzin-Soong in the “Fox Spirit” episode of Poltergeist: The Legacy. (Died 2001.)
  • Born July 30, 1947 John E. Stith, 74. Winner of two HOMer Awards, given by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Literature Forum on CompuServe, for Redshift Rendezvous and Naught for Hire. The former would be nominated for a Nebula as well. The HOMer Awards ended in about 2000. 
  • Born July 30, 1947 Arnold Schwarzenegger, 74. Terminator franchise, of course, as well as Running ManConan the Barbarian and  Conan the DestroyerTales from the Crypt and True Lies. Apparently in sort of announced Conan and Terminator reboots. Though I think that’s more rumor than reality. 
  • Born July 30, 1948 Carel Struycken, 73. I remember him best as the gong ringing Mr. Holm on Next Gen, companion to Deanna Troi’s mother. He was also Lurch in The Addams FamilyAddams Family Values and the Addams Family Reunion. He’s listed as being Fidel in The Witches of Eastwick but I’ll be damned if I remembered his role in that film though I’ve seen it twice. And he’s in Ewoks: The Battle for Endor which I’ve never seen. 
  • Born July 30, 1966 Jess Nevins, 55. Author of the superlative Encyclopedia of Fantastic Victorian and the equally great Heroes & Monsters: The Unofficial Companion to the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen which is far better than the film ever could be. He’s also written the Fable Encyclopedia which is a most excellent look at Willingham series. I didn’t know he also wrote fiction ‘til now but he has two genre novels, The Road to Prester John and The Datong Incident
  • Born July 30, 1966 Jason Watkins, 55. His first genre role was William Herrick in Being Human. He’s also had a recurring role on Dirk Gentely as DI Gilks. And he voiced Captain Orchis on Watership Down.  Naturally, he’s been in Doctor Who, specifically as Webly in the Eleventh Doctor story, “Nightmare in Silver”.  He showed up in The Golden Compass as Bolvangar Official.
  • Born July 30, 1970 Christopher Nolan, 51. Writer, producer and often director as well of the latest Batman film franchise, The PrestigeInterstellarInception and Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice to name some of his work. His latest, Tenet, has been nominated for a Hugo this year. 
  • Born July 30, 1975 Cherie Priest, 46. Her Southern gothic Eden Moore series is kickass good and Clockwork Universe series isa refreshing take on steampunk which has been turned into full cast audiobooks by GraphicAudio. I’ve not read the Cheshire Red Reports novels so have no idea how good they are. Anyone read these?  She won an Endeavour Award for her Dreadnought novel.

(13) COMICS SECTION.

  • Frank and Ernest shows the judge throwing the book at an unexpected traffic offender.

(14) GET YOUR ANSWERS READY. Your hosts for Science Fiction 101 podcast are Phil Nichols of the Bradburymedia website, who is also known for the Bradbury 100 podcast and the Bradbury 101 YouTube channel; and Colin Kuskie of the Take Me To Your Reader podcast. Episode 7, “We Goes There”, features a sci-fi quiz.

(15) BASEDCON. *Rolls eyes* Thread starts here.

(16) HEAP OF GLORY. “Londoners Were Promised a Hill With a View. They Got a Pile of Scaffolding.” Linking to this New York Times item so you can appreciate the amusing comment which I’ve quoted below.

Advance publicity for the Marble Arch Mound — London’s newest visitor attraction — suggested that an Arcadian landscape would be created in the middle of the city, with spectacular views over Hyde Park.

A huge artificial hill, over 80 feet high, would rise at one end of Oxford Street, London’s busiest shopping district. Costing around 2 million pounds, or about $2.7 million, design renderings suggested that it would be covered in lush trees and that visitors would be able to climb to the top — and “feel a light breeze” against their skin.

The hill was part of a £150 million plan by Westminster Council to lure visitors back into the center of the city after the pandemic. In May, Time Out, London’s main listings magazine, described it as “visually arresting/bonkers.”

The reality has turned out to be somewhat different. Since opening on Monday, the mound has been widely mocked online as more of a folly than a dream — a pile of blocky scaffolding covered in patches of vegetation that look in danger of slipping off, and that it isn’t even high enough to look over the trees into Hyde Park….

 A commenter on the article said:

To be fair to Westminster City Council that spot has become increasingly difficult to manage, with the combination effect of a long record of unplanned and haphazard development accumulating to create serious problems. 

Obviously, the confluence of ley lines and faerie roads there lead to that being the natural place for the portal to Avalon, which in turn attracted the gate into Narnia. But, installing the secret entrance to Q branch’s main workshop so close to both the back door to the Ministry of Magic and unquiet spirits of Tyburn Tree was asking for trouble, and probably meant spatio-temporal subsidence would inevitably produce The Rift. 

Although finding a more plausible way to conceal the essential interdimensional-engineering work needed might have been better, it can be argued that attracting widespread ridicule with this hill has provided the sort of smokescreen that was wanted more cost-effectively. 

We probably shouldn’t rush to judgement, and wait for the official paperwork to be declassified and released under the 5,000-year rule.

(17) ROBODOG. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] Is the game “Quick, spot the cop” or “Quick Spot, the cop”? Another publication has chimed in on whether robotic “dogs” are suitable for use by police. “Robotic Police Dogs: Useful Hounds or Dehumanizing Machines?” at U.S. News & World Report.

If you’re homeless and looking for temporary shelter in Hawaii’s capital, expect a visit from a robotic police dog that will scan your eye to make sure you don’t have a fever.

That’s just one of the ways public safety agencies are starting to use Spot, the best-known of a new commercial category of robots that trot around with animal-like agility.

The handful of police officials experimenting with the four-legged machines say they’re just another tool, like existing drones and simple wheeled robots, to keep emergency responders out of harm’s way as they scout for dangers. But privacy watchdogs — the human kind — warn that police are secretly rushing to buy the robots without setting safeguards against aggressive, invasive or dehumanizing uses.

In Honolulu, the police department spent about $150,000 in federal pandemic relief money to buy their Spot from robotics firm Boston Dynamics for use at a government-run tent city near the airport.

“Because these people are houseless it’s considered OK to do that,” said Jongwook Kim, legal director at the American Civil Liberties Union of Hawaii. “At some point it will come out again for some different use after the pandemic is over.”…

(18) AI ASSESSES CATS. Meanwhile, a breakthrough in cat happiness technology has made the headlines: “Feline okay? The app that tells you if your cat’s happy” reports Reuters.

Cat owners who love to take pictures of their furry friends now have a new excuse to pull out their smartphones and take a snapshot: it may actually help the cat.

A Calgary, Alberta, animal health technology company, Sylvester.ai, has developed an app called Tably that uses the phone’s camera to tell whether a feline is feeling pain.

The app looks at ear and head position, eye-narrowing, muzzle tension, and how whiskers change, to detect distress. A 2019 study published in peer-reviewed journal Scientific Reports found that the so-called ‘feline grimace scale,’ or FGS, is a valid and reliable tool for acute pain assessment in cats….

(19) GIVING THE GOVERNMENT THE DIGIT. If an AI can be trusted with your cat, surely their work should not go unrewarded! “Australian Court Rules That AI Can Be an Inventor”Gizmodo has the story.

In what can only be considered a triumph for all robot-kind, this week, a federal court has ruled that an artificially intelligent machine can, in fact, be an inventor—a decision that came after a year’s worth of legal battles across the globe.

The ruling came on the heels of a years-long quest by University of Surrey law professor Ryan Abbot, who started putting out patent applications in 17 different countries across the globe earlier this year. Abbot—whose work focuses on the intersection between AI and the law—first launched two international patent filings as part of The Artificial Inventor Project at the end of 2019. Both patents (one for an adjustable food container, and one for an emergency beacon) listed a creative neural system dubbed “DABUS” as the inventor.

The artificially intelligent inventor listed here, DABUS, was created by Dr. Stephen Thaler, who describes it as a “creativity engine” that’s capable of generating novel ideas (and inventions) based on communications between the trillions of computational neurons that it’s been outfitted with. Despite being an impressive piece of machinery, last year, the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) ruled that an AI cannot be listed as the inventor in a patent application—specifically stating that under the country’s current patent laws, only “natural persons,” are allowed to be recognized. Not long after, Thaler sued the USPTO, and Abbott represented him in the suit….

(20) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In “Honest Game Trailers: Zombies Ate My Neighbors and Ghoul Patrol,” Fandom Games says this game will take you back to the ’90s (remember Scholastic book fairs?  All-denim outfits?) and will “tickle your nostalgia nose” but still frustrate you even though you’re not a teenager any more, but have kids and a mortgage.

(21) TINGLING BULLETINS AS THEY BREAK. Chuck Tingle told Facebook followers today that the music rights holders withdrew their complaints three days ago, but Twitter still hasn’t done doodly about restoring his account.

first off POWER OF LOVE IS STRONG with help of some true buckaroos behind scenes (who i will thank when this is all over and direct you to their websites and other ways) AND ALSO with help of all buckaroos on social media: SONY MUSIC and IFPI have decided to withdraw their copyright complaints and say ‘okay just take them down lets trot on you can have your account back’ which is HUGE DEAL. SO THANK YOU SO MUCH THIS PROVES LOVE IS REAL. also even though this situation is frustrating for chuck i must say sincere thank you to sony and ifpi this was a choice they made to do right thing by chuck in the name of the buckaroo lifestyle. so thank you everyone (with more thanks to come)

this happened THREE DAYS ago and twitter was notified. since then twitter has not responded to any methods of contact from chuck or sam rand or manager of chuck. chuck remains suspended with no way of contacting them that does not get automated response even though fact of the matter is:

THERE IS NO REASON FOR CHUCK TINGLE TWITTER TO BE SUSPENDED AT THIS POINT i do not have copyright infringement marks anymore or any other infractions. i have sent message to say ‘can you tell WHY my account is still suspended even after you said it would be better if i fixed these issues?’ and no response.

[Thanks to Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, Martin Morse Wooster, Paul Weimer, Olav Rokne, Michael J. Walsh, JJ, Michael Toman, John King Tarpinian, and Cat Eldridge for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to contributing editor of the day Andrew (not Werdna).]

Pixel Scroll 7/28/21 So Put Another File In The Jukebox, Baby

(1) MORE’S HAPPENING THAN WHAT’S ON THE PAGE. Aigner Loren Wilson is “Exploring Nnedi Okorafor’s Africanfuturist Universe” at Tor.com.

…Though not all of the stories take place in Africa, they all speak to the same African future that Okorafor is creating and envisioning. Sometimes this future is at the nexus of American industrialism and the exploitation of Africans like in The Book of Phoenix, in which Okorafor shows the rage and anger of a child used and experimented on. Sometimes her stories show the aftermath of such greed. In Who Fears Death, Okorafor writes of the strife of Sudan and the resilience of its people through the story of Onyesonwu. Readers watch her grow from an infant to a powerful being with the ability to save and heal a whole people. Though the landscapes change, the heart of an Africanfuturist universe is being carved out within these books. Eventually in Binti, Africa reaches the stars by way of the character literally running away so she can be the first of her people to attend a top intergalactic school. Binti is the future of her people, carrying the weight of all the past struggles of them and herself—the histories both told and not….

(2) BOOKER PRIZE LONGLIST. The Booker Prize 2021 longlist includes three books of genre interest, titles shown in boldface.

  • A Passage North, Anuk Arudpragasam (Granta Books, Granta Publications)
  • Second Place, Rachel Cusk, (Faber)
  • The Promise, Damon Galgut, (Chatto & Windus, Vintage, PRH)
  • The Sweetness of Water, Nathan Harris (Tinder Press, Headline, Hachette Book Group)
  • Klara and the Sun, Kazuo Ishiguro (Faber)
  • An Island, Karen Jennings (Holland House Books)
  • A Town Called Solace, Mary Lawson (Chatto & Windus, Vintage, PRH)
  • No One is Talking About This, Patricia Lockwood (Bloomsbury Circus, Bloomsbury Publishing)
  • The Fortune Men, Nadifa Mohamed (Viking, Penguin General, PRH)
  • Bewilderment, Richard Powers (Hutchinson Heinemann, PRH)
  • China Room, Sunjeev Sahota (Harvill Secker, Vintage, PRH)
  • Great Circle, Maggie Shipstead (Doubleday, Transworld Publishers, PRH)
  • Light Perpetual, Francis Spufford (Faber)

The shortlist will be announced September 14, and the winner on November 3.

(3) COMPLICATED Q&A. LeVar Burton was interviewed by David Marchese in the July 4 New York Times Magazine.  It’s mostly about his Jeopardy! stint, but he also discusses his 1997 sf novel Aftermath, which has recently been reprinted. “LeVar Burton’s Quest to Succeed Alex Trebek”

…Forgive me for making the subtext of these questions the text, but I’m trying to see if we can complicate the image of you as almost a secular pop-culture saint like Alex Trebek or Fred Rogers. And one of the things that I came across that maybe does complicate things is your novel, “Aftermath.”5

[5 Published in 1997, Burton’s only novel to date is a dystopian story about a United States recovering from a series of catastrophic events, including violent racial conflicts after the assassination of the nation’s first Black president-elect by a white extremist.]

 Wow. I love talking to people who have taken the time to read my book. I’m enormously proud of it. I just recorded a digital version of it with a new author’s note. I threw out the old author’s note about how I came to be a science-fiction fan and instead addressed the time in which we find ourselves now and some of the ways in which the events at the beginning of the novel are kind of prescient.

I don’t really know how well the book sold, but I think it’s fair to say that it’s obscure. Is it possible that the public wasn’t eager to accept the side of your sensibility that it represented? I was surprised by the violence, the allusions to sexual assault — just the darkness in it. 

I would venture to say, based on some encounters that I have had on Twitter, that there is a population of people who aren’t willing to see me displaying an aspect of my character that perhaps goes against their idea of who I am. They feel like they have the right to opine on who I should be, what I should and should not say. That’s an interesting part of this dynamic of fame. However, I spent a lot of time and energy discovering, defining, divining who I am and how I want to live my life. What you do with what I put out there is your business. What I put out there is my business….

(4) AFTER ACTION REPORT. At Green Book of the White Downs, Tim Bolton’s “Thoughts on the release of the Tolkien Society Summer Seminar videos and push-back against the online small-minded backlash around the event” includes links to “an outpouring of writing focused on the reception of Tolkien’s work and finding representation to identify with in Tolkien’s words” plus “numerous blog posts about LGBT+ and Tolkien.”

…A couple of weeks ago, as we headed towards what would be a fantastic and thoughtful Tolkien Society Summer Seminar, it came apparent that a part of the Tolkien fandom were quite vocally angry that diversity should be a topic associated with Tolkien. We saw a rival conference set up (as if other conferences have ever been a bad thing), we saw podcasts and YouTube rants. Social media saw the same people posting angrily about the affront that the Tolkien Society were holding a seminar – not sure where these lot have been, the Tolkien Society have hosted seminars every year for longer than some of them were born….    

This is the Tolkien Society seminar whose announced schedule was used by some bloggers as an excuse to act out – “Seminar’s Focus on Diversity in Tolkien Draws Conservatives’ Ire” – including pitching a dubious rival event: “Purported Event Will Counter-Program the Seminar on Diversity in Tolkien”.

Bolton concludes his post with this affirmation:

…Here’s the thing. No matter how far back these cave trolls want to try and drag us, we (as a fandom and a society) are going to move forward. We are diverse, we are inclusive. Will we make mistakes? Of course, we are human. But I will stand by groups that at their core hold values such empathy, kindness and being welcoming to all.

And at the centre of it all – our love of Tolkien’s works.

(5) DOG AT LARGE. Joseph Tuttle introduces readers to “’Roverandom:’ Tolkien’s little-known children’s story” at Voyage.

Roverandom is the endearing tale of a little dog’s adventures after being turned into a toy by a wizard. Tolkien originally told this story to his children after one of them had lost a toy dog on vacation. After searching for the lost toy unsuccessfully, Tolkien devised Roverandom to help explain what happened to the toy. Years later, he put the story into the book format we now have….

(6) LUMPY LOKI. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster, Designated Reader, Financial Times.] In the July 24 Financial Times, Fiona Sturges interviews Richard E Grant about his role on Loki.

Grant hams it up terrifically as Classic Loki, one of several ‘variant’ Lokis marooned in a purgatory known as ‘The Void’ (other variants include Alligator Loki and Kid Loki.)  When he first saw his costume — scoffed-grubby-with clear sagging in the crotch area — he was a little crestfallen.  ‘My first question was, ‘Where are the muscles?’  If you look at Jack Kirby’s original drawings in the comic, the guy had muscles.  But the costume designer was very insistent that I was relying on Loki magic (for strength). So I didn’t get my way.  I thought, ‘Oh well, it’s a withered and old Classic Loki that they’re going to get!’

The role also required Grant to grapple with CGI and green screen technology.  He notes that in 2019’s Star Wars: The Rise Of Skywalker, in which he played Allegiant General Pryde, ‘ all the doors were functional, all the lights on the consoles worked, and there were stormtroopers’  By contrast, in Loki, his alligator co-star was made of three cushions roughly sewn together. 

(7) METAVERSE MAVEN. The Verge says “Mark Zuckerberg is betting Facebook’s future on the metaverse” – so I guess I’d better start figuring out what that’s supposed to be.

As June came to an end, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg told his employees about an ambitious new initiative. The future of the company would go far beyond its current project of building a set of connected social apps and some hardware to support them. Instead, he said, Facebook would strive to build a maximalist, interconnected set of experiences straight out of sci-fi — a world known as the metaverse.

The company’s divisions focused on products for communities, creators, commerce, and virtual reality would increasingly work to realize this vision, he said in a remote address to employees. “What I think is most interesting is how these themes will come together into a bigger idea,” Zuckerberg said. “Our overarching goal across all of these initiatives is to help bring the metaverse to life.”

The metaverse is having a moment. Coined in Snow Crash, Neal Stephenson’s 1992 sci-fi novel, the term refers to a convergence of physical, augmented, and virtual reality in a shared online space. Earlier this month, The New York Times explored how companies and products including Epic Games’ FortniteRoblox, and even Animal Crossing: New Horizons increasingly had metaverse-like elements. (Epic Games CEO Tim Sweeney has been discussing his desire to contribute to a metaverse for many months now.)…

(8) SECOND BANANAS WITH MORE APPEAL. James Davis Nicoll points out “Five Supporting Characters Who Outshine the Protagonist” at Tor.com.

Sergeant Sam Anderson from Starman Jones by Robert A. Heinlein (1953)

Had runaway Max Jones never met Sam Anderson, late of the Imperial Marines, Max’s plans to follow his late uncle Chester into space would have come to nothing. Chester may have been a member in good standing of the Astrogators’ Guild, but he never signed the necessary paperwork nominating Max for membership. As far as the Guild is concerned, that is that.

Sam, on the other hand, has the ethical flexibility, experience, and connections needed to circumvent onerous regulation. Thanks to Sam’s experienced mentorship, Max acquires all the necessary papers needed to work in space and a position on board the Asgard. Max’s odd talents will prove invaluable when the Asgard is lost in space. Those talents would never have been there to help the Asgard without genially amoral Sam’s corrupting influence.

(9) HELP SOLVE A MYSTERY. Filer Jake says at the Something Awful forums someone has posted a Polaroid picture from 1989 in which a paperback book, believed to be SF, can be seen, and asked “What is that book?”

We’re seriously stumped, to the point where I’ve been trawling a copy of the ISFDB to get titles that might be of the same length as the one in the picture, and am also considering downloading their cover DB so as to do some heavy-duty image analysis.

I’m hoping that you’d be willing to add this as an item in a Pixel Scroll, as in the words of the original asker “Why should we be the only ones to be haunted by this?”

This is the picture. You can see why they’re having so much trouble figuring out the answer. But maybe the pattern of the cover will tickle something in your memory banks?

(10) MEMORY LANE.

  • July 28, 2007 – On this date fourteen years ago, Jekyll, a British series produced as a sequel to The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde novella, finishes airing on BBC One. Steven Moffat wrote all six episodes with Douglas Mackinnon and Matt Lipsey each directing three episodes. Elaine Cameron and Jeffrey Taylor were the producers. It starred James Nesbitt in the lead role with the rest of the cast being Gina Bellman, Paterson Joseph, Denis Lawson, Michelle Ryan, Meera Syal and Fenella Woolgar. Critics loved it with James Jackson of The Times saying Nesbitt’s acting as Hyde was “entertainingly over the top as a dozen Doctor Who villains, with a palpable sense of menace to boot”.  A second season was written by Moffat but the BBC never picked up the option on it. Eight years later, ITV would air Jekyll and Hyde based off the same source material and it too would cancelled after one series.

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born July 28, 1866 Beatrix Potter. Probably best known for Tales of Peter Rabbit but I’d submit her gardening skills were second-to-none as well as can be seen in the Green Man review of Marta McDowell’s Beatrix Potter’s Gardening Life. Those skills are reflected in her fiction. (Died 1943.)
  • Born July 28, 1928 Angélica Gorodischer, 93. Argentinian writer whose Kalpa Imperial: The Greatest Empire That Never Was got translated by Ursula Le Guin into English. Likewise Prodigies.has been translated by Sue Burke for Small Beer Press. She won a World Fantasy Award for Lifetime Achievement. You can read Lightspeed Magazine’s interview with her here.
  • Born July 28, 1931 Jay Kay Klein. I’ll direct you to Mike’s excellent look at him here as I can’t add anything to what he says.  I will note that Jay Kay was a published author of three stories, “Century of Progress”, “Mass Communication“ and  “On Conquered Earth”.  The first two in Analog, the latter in If. None of these have been republished since.  (Died 2012.)
  • Born July 28, 1941 Bill Crider. Primarily a writer of mystery fiction, his extensive bibliography includes three stories in the Sherlock Holmes metaverse: The Adventure of the Venomous LizardThe Adventure of the St. Marylebone Ghoul and The Case of the Vanished Vampire. He also wrote a Sookie Stackhouse short story, “Don’t Be Cruel” in the Charlaine Harris Metaverse. His “Doesn’t Matter Any Matter More” short story won a Sidewise Awards for Alternate History and his “Mike Gonzo and the UFO Terror” won a Golden Duck Award. (Died 2018.)
  • Born July 28, 1955 Dey Young, 66. One of those performers who appeared in multiple Trek series. She was in Next Gen’s “The Masterpiece Society” as Hannah Bates, in Deep Space Nine’s “A Simple Investigation” as Arissa and  and in Enterprise’s “Two Days and Two Nights” as Keyla. She’s got minor roles in Running ManStrange Invaders and Spaceballs as well.
  • Born July 28, 1966 Larry Dixon, 55. Husband of Mercedes Lackey who collaborates with her on such series as SERRAted Edge and The Mage Wars Trilogy. (They were CoNZealand GoHs last year.) He contributed artwork to Wizards of the Coast’s Dungeons & Dragons source books, including Oriental AdventuresEpic Level Handbook, and Fiend Folio
  • Born July 28, 1968 Rachel Blakely, 53. You’ll most likely know her as Marguerite Krux on Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Lost World as that was her longest running genre role. She was briefly Alcmene on Young Hercules, and played Gael’s Mum on The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. And showed up as Penelope in the “Ulysses” episode of Xena: Warrior Princess
  • Born July 28, 1972 Elizabeth Berkley, 49. Her best known role is Verhooven’s Showgirls which is decidedly not genre even if Kyle MacLachan is in it. She’s done some genre work including The Twilight ZonePerversions of Science which appears to be akin to the Tales from The Crypt series, the animated Armitage III: Polymatrix series, and the Threshold series which pops up regularly in these Birthday notes. 

(12) SJW CREDENTIAL BUNDLE. StoryBundle’s 2021 Cattitude Bundle, curated by Kristine Kathryn Rusch, is available for three more weeks. Get the full list of books and the rest of the deal at the link.

This bundle thrills me. Often, I curate StoryBundles filled with books I’ve read. Always, I curate with authors whose work I like. But as I curate them, I’m aware that I am a moody reader who rarely wants to read what’s prescribed. So, with the books I have only read parts of or haven’t read at all, I put them in a To-Be-Read pile to finish when the mood strikes.

With cat fiction, though, the mood always strikes me. I’ll stop whatever I’m doing to read a cat story. Well, that’s not entirely true. I’ll do whatever I’m doing, unless I’m petting one of my three cats.

Many of the books in this bundle combine cats and magic. It seems a proper combination. Cats can twist themselves into the strangest positions. They have an uncanny way of loving us or torturing us (depending on how they feel about us). They have a mysterious edge, even if they’re the friendliest cat on the planet.

(13) LOCKDOWN WAS GOOD BUSINESS FOR THEM. Game makers are getting an unexpected slice of the pie. The Guardian has the story: “Warhammer maker Games Workshop hands staff £5,000 bonus after lockdown sales surge”.

Warhammer retailer Games Workshop is handing its shop workers, model makers, designers and support staff a £5,000 bonus each after sales and profits benefited from tabletop gamers escaping lockdown by fighting bloodthirsty battles with orcs, elves and alien hordes.

The Nottingham-based company behind the popular fantasygaming equipment and Lord of the Rings figurines said its 2,600 ordinary workers would split a £10.6m special bonus on top of a £2.6m profit share.

Senior managers will share an extra £1.1m bonus pot, up from £300,000 the year before, after sales rose by just over a third to £361m and pretax profits soared almost 70% to £151m….

(14) WITCHER SPINOFF. This trailer for a Witcher anime spinoff dropped on Wednesday. The Witcher: Nightmare of the Wolf premieres August 23 on Netflix.

The world of The Witcher expands in this anime origin story: Before Geralt, there was his mentor Vesemir — a swashbuckling young witcher who escaped a life of poverty to slay monsters for coin. But when a strange new monster begins terrorizing a politically-fraught kingdom, Vesemir finds himself on a frightening adventure that forces him to confront the demons of his past.

(15) KEEP WATCHING THE SKIES. Dr. Brian Keating, Co-Director of the Arthur C. Clarke Center for Human Imagination, who also is a member of the Galileo Project’s Advisory Board, is joined by Harvard University Professor Avi Loeb to chat about the Galileo Project in “Extraterrestrial Technology: The Situation Has Changed!” on YouTube.

Huge news out of Harvard: In 2017, the world for the first time observed an interstellar object, called ‘Oumuamua, that was briefly visiting our Solar system. Based on astronomical observations, ‘Oumuamua turned out to have highly anomalous properties that defy well-understood natural explanations. We can only speculate whether ‘Oumuamua may be explained by never seen before natural explanations, or by stretching our imagination to ‘Oumuamua perhaps being an extraterrestrial technological object, similar to a very thin light-sail or communication dish, which fits the astronomical data rather well.

After the release of the ODNI (Office of the Director of National Intelligence) report on Unidentified Aerial Phenomena (UAP), the scientific community now needs the determination to systematically, scientifically & transparently look for potential evidence of extraterrestrial technological equipment. The impact of any discovery of extraterrestrial technology on science & on our entire worldview would be enormous.

Given the recently discovered abundance of Earth-Sun systems, the Galileo Project is dedicated to the proposition that humans can no longer ignore the possible existence of Extraterrestrial Technological Civilizations (ETCs), and that science should not dogmatically reject potential extraterrestrial explanations because of social stigma or cultural preferences, factors which are not conducive to the scientific method of unbiased, empirical inquiry. We now must look through new telescopes, both literally and figuratively. The Galileo Project aims to identify the nature of UAP and ‘Oumuamua-like interstellar objects using the standard scientific method based on a transparent analysis of open scientific data to be collected using optimized instruments.

The Galileo Project follows three major avenues of research:

1. Obtain High-resolution, Multi-detector UAP Images, Discover their Nature: This goal will be accomplished by searching for UAP with a network of mid-sized, high-resolution telescopes and detector arrays with suitable cameras and computer systems, distributed in select locations. The data will be open to the public and the scientific analysis will be transparent.

We anticipate extensive Artificial Intelligence/Deep Learning (AI/DL) and algorithmic approaches to differentiate atmospheric phenomena from birds, balloons, commercial or consumer drones, and from potential technological objects of terrestrial or other origin surveying our planet, such as satellites. For the purpose of high contrast imaging, each telescope will be part of a detector array of orthogonal and complementary capabilities from radar, Doppler radar, and high-resolution synthetic aperture radar to high-resolution, large camera visible range and infrared band telescopes. If an ETC is discovered to be surveying Earth using UAP, then we have to assume that the ETC has mastered passive radar, optical and infrared technologies. In such a case, our systematic study of such detected UAP will be enhanced by means of high-performance, integrated and multi-wavelength detector arrays.

2. Search for and In-Depth Research on ‘Oumuamua-like Interstellar Objects:  

The Galileo Project research group also will utilize existing and future astronomical surveys, such as the Rubin Observatory, to discover and monitor the properties of interstellar visitors to the Solar system. We will conceptualize and design, potentially in collaboration with interested space agencies or space ventures, a launch-ready space mission to image unusual interstellar objects such as ‘Oumuamua by intercepting their trajectories on their approach to the Sun or by using ground-based survey telescopes to discover interstellar meteors.

3. Search for Potential ETC Satellites: Discovering potential 1 meter-scale or smaller satellites that may be exploring Earth, e.g., in polar orbits a few hundred km above Earth, may become feasible with VRO in 2023 and later, but if radar, optical and infrared technologies have been mastered by an ETC, then very sophisticated large telescopes on Earth might be required. We will design advanced algorithmic and AI/DL object recognition and fast filtering methods that the Galileo Project intends to deploy, initially on non-orbiting telescopes. 

(16) PICS OR IT DIDN’T HAPPEN. The Expanse was a Jeopardy! clue. I can prove it. (Do we still call this a screenshot?)

(17) TRAILER FOR A PROMISED FAN FILM. Strap in for a fun Star Wars fan film from writer/director Anthony Ferraro, Forsaken Mandalorian and the Drunken Jedi Master. “The goal was to make a fan film driven by dramatic performances rather than winks and nods to the franchise. But not to worry, we do some winking and nodding,” Ferraro promises. The video launches August 6 on the Create Sci-Fi YouTube channel.

Hope hinges on two men with no hope.

A forsaken Mandalorian hunts down a Hutt Courier to recover an asset that unexpectedly leads him to team up with an outcast drunken Jedi Master to fulfill his sworn duty.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, N., Jake, Andrew Porter, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, and Michael Toman for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to contributing editor of the day Soon Lee.]

Pixel Scroll 7/23/21 The Pixel Scroll Preservation Society

(1) TWITTER SUSPENDS CHUCK TINGLE. Chuck Tingle’s Twitter account has been suspended for reasons he explains on Facebook. He used music with some of his tweets, believing it was fair use, but the rights holder served Twitter with “many” DMCA takedown notices and his entire account was locked. Since this morning Tingle has been trying to get social media users to pressure the rights holder to withdraw the takedown notices. Getting paid for use of the music is what the rights holder would want, one expects.

(2) LEVAR BURTON’S TURN IS HERE. “LeVar Burton Shares His Excitement Over Finally Hosting ‘Jeopardy!’” at TV Insider. Includes some great tweets.

From Emmy-nominated actor to children’s television host to movie director to Grammy-winning Spoken Word artist, LeVar Burton has nearly done it all in his career. However, one dream has alluded him until now, and that is to host Jeopardy! But that is about to change.

The Star Trek: The Next Generation actor — and self-confessed Jeopardy! superfan — finally gets his go at hosting the long-running quiz show Monday, July 26 to Friday, July 30, as the conveyor belt of guest hosts keeps moving. Burton and his fans have actively been campaigning for the Reading Rainbow host to permanently take over from the late Alex Trebek.

(3) WHEEL OF TIME SERIES. Lots of media stuff from today’s Comic-Con@Home, like this Deadline item: “Amazon Debuts ‘The Wheel Of Time’ S1 Teaser Poster, Previews Premiere Date”.

During its Comic-con gig on Friday, the streamer unveiled the teaser poster which features Pike’s Moiraine. The series adaptation of Robert Jordan’s books, is set in a sprawling, epic world where magic exists, but only women can use it. The Wheel of Time is co-produced by Amazon Studios and Sony Pictures Television and comes from Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D and Chuck writer Rafe Judkins, who is showrunner and exec producer.

(4) SPARE CLIMATE CHANGE? Last night The Late Show with Stephen Colbert started off with a local St. Louis weather report: “And Now For Your Weather Update… Everything’s On Fire Or Underwater”.

(5) MANGA’S OLYMPIC AMBASSADORS. In the Washington Post, Kyle Melnick says customers at Purple Narwhal Music and Manga in Rockville, Maryland are buying lots of Olympics-related manga and anime. “Anime and manga take center stage at the Olympics”. Nine Japanese anime characters are ambassadors for the Tokyo Olympics.

…Many anime — an umbrella term for animation produced in Japan — are adapted from manga, similar to how American comics are shaped into movies. The Olympics ambassadors, who are featured on official Olympics merchandise, are Son Goku (from the Dragon Ball series), Usagi Tsukino (“Sailor Moon”), Naruto Uzumaki (“Naruto”), Monkey D. Luffy (“One Piece”), Astro Boy (“Astro Boy”), Cure Miracle and Cure Magical (“Pretty Cure”), Shin-chan (“Crayon Shin-chan”) and Jibanyan (“Yo-kai Watch”).

Goku is perhaps the most well-known of the group. He’s a naive but determined warrior who is the main character of “Dragon Ball Z,” which was one of the first popular anime in the United States in the 1990s and introduced many fans to the genre. Usagi Tsukino, whose alter ego is Sailor Moon, is the star of another popular 1990s anime, and she welcomed many women into what had previously been a predominantly male fan base.

(6) RICK BOATRIGHT (1955-2021). Rick Boatright, stalwart supporter of and contributor to the 1632 series, died Thursday July 22 of pancreatic cancer at the age of 66. Eric Flint mourned him on Facebook:

My old friend Rick Boatright died today. It wasn’t exactly unexpected, because he’d been diagnosed with state four pancreatic cancer, but it came quicker than anyone had expected. I talked to him on the phone just a few days ago and he was in pretty good spirits and thought he still had at least a few weeks left and possibly even a few months. But… he didn’t.

I don’t have anything more to say about it right now. I’ll be writing encomiums about him in the future. But today… Today just sucks.

His ISFDB bio notes Boatright had been a software developer since the early 1970s for not-for-profit social service agencies. Since 2001 he’d been a writer and editor, as well as the Head Geek, for Eric Flint’s 1632 alternate history world. (He also held the Head Geek title for Jim Baen’s Universe magazine.) He also was famous for providing tech support for other authors at Baen Books. Boatright taught high school physics and chemistry in his home town of Topeka, Kansas.

Boatright said in 2014 that despite his fiction credits his real gift was, “… explaining science fiction from the inside. What are the limits and potentials of a slower-than-light multi-stellar civilization? What happens to radio in a time travel story to the 17th century? How do you make records in the 17th century? What is the likely social impact and the biological effect of the English War Unicorn on 21st century warfare?”

(7) ANDERSSON OBIT. Horror/fantasy writer C. Dean Andersson, who also wrote as Asa Drake, passed away July 5 after a long illness. He published 8 novels, the first in 1981 co-authored with Nina Romberg. His short fiction “The Death Wagon Rolls On By”  received a Bram Stoker Award nomination in 2008.  G.W. Thomas did an in-depth interview with him for Dark Worlds Quarterly.

(8) MEMORY LANE.

  • 2002 – Nineteen years ago, Jo Walton wins the Astounding Award for Best New Writer. She had finished second in the balloting for that award the previous year. It was her first major award. A year later, she would win the World Fantasy Award for her ever so tasteful Tooth and Claw.

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born July 23, 1888 Raymond Chandler. He of the hardboiled detective genre who I hold in very high esteem is listed by ISFDB as doing some stories of a genre nature, to be exact ”The Bronze Door”, “The King In Yellow”, “Professor Bingo’s Snuff” and “English Summer: A Gothic Romance”. I’ve neither heard it nor read these. So who here has read them? (Died 1959.)
  • Born July 23, 1914 Virgil Finlay. Castle of Frankenstein calls him “part of the pulp magazine history … one of the foremost contributors of original and imaginative art work for the most memorable science fiction and fantasy publications of our time.”  His best known covers are for Amazing Stories and Weird Tales. “Roads”, a novella by Seabury Quinn, published in the January 1938 Weird Tales, and featuring a cover and interior illustrations by him, was originally published in extremely limited numbers by Arkham House in 1948. It’s now available from the usual suspects. (Died 1971.)
  • Born July 23, 1923 Cyril M. Kornbluth. I certainly read and really liked The Space Merchants and The Syndic which are the two I remember reading these years on.  His only Hugo was at Torcon II (1973) for “The Meeting” which he wrote with Frederik Pohl (the co-winner was “Eurema’s Dam” by R. A. Lafferty). He later was awarded a Retro Hugo for “The Little Black Bag” at Millennium Philcon, and was inducted into the First Fandom Hall of Fame. (Died 1958.)
  • Born July 23, 1938 Ronny Cox, 83. His first genre role was in RoboCop as OCP President Dick Jones who comes to a very bad end. Later roles Gen. Balentine  in Amazon Women on the Moon in “The Unknown Soldier” episode, Martians Go Home as the President, Total Recall  as Vilos Cohaagen, Captain America as Tom Kimball and a recurring role for a decade on Stargate SG-1 as Senator Robert Kinsey/Vice President Robert Kinsey. 
  • Born July 23, 1956 Kate Thompson, 65. Author of the New Policeman trilogy which I highly recommend. Though written for children, you’ll find it quite readable. And her Down Among the Gods is a unique take on a Greek myths made intimate. She got nominations for the Hal Clement (Golden Duck) Award and Mythopoeic Fantasy Award for Children’s Literature. 
  • Born July 23, 1947 Gardner Dozois. He was founding editor of The Year’s Best Science Fiction anthology and was editor of Asimov’s Science Fiction magazine for twenty years. He won fifteen Hugos for his editing and was nominated for even more. He also won the Nebula Award for Best Short Story twice, once for “The Peacemaker” and once for “Morning Child”. Stories selected by him for his annual best-of-year volumes have won, as of six years ago, 44 Hugos, 32 Locus, 41 Nebulas, 18 Sturgeon Awards and 10 World Fantasy. Very impressive! (Died 2018.)
  • Born July 23, 1982 Tom Mison, 39. He is best known as Ichabod Crane on Sleepy Hollow which has a cross-over into Bones. He’s Mr. Phillips in The Watchmen. It’s barely (if at all) genre adjacent but I’m going to note that he’s Young Blood in A Waste of Shame: The Mystery of Shakespeare and His Sonnets. Currently he’s got a main role in second season the See SF series on Apple TV which has yet to come out.
  • Born July 23, 1989 Daniel Radcliffe, 32. Harry Potter of course. (Loved the films, didn’t read the novels.) Also Victor Frankenstein’s assistant Igor in Victor Frankenstein, Ignatius Perrish in Horns, a horror film, and Rosencrantz in Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead at the Old Vic in London.  

(10) COMICS SECTION.

  • Mother Goose and Grimm show how you break the fourth wall of a comic strip.
  • Ziggy encounters a strange example of truth in advertising.
  • xkcd has a guide to commonly mispronounced equations. I know you’ll find it as helpful as I did. Daniel Dern says it reminds him of this equation from Fritz Leiber’s “Nice Girl With 5 Husbands” in the April 1951 issue of Galaxy

(11) MEET PUERTO RICO’S SUPERHERO. Publishers Weekly’s Brigid Alverson spotlights “La Borinqueña: A Puerto Rican Superhero for Our Time”.

In Edgardo Miranda-Rodriguez’s comics series La Borinqueña, the eponymous superhero swoops down to Puerto Rico to solve problems that range from guiding lost turtles to rescuing people from a hurricane. Turns out the Puerto Rican superwoman comes to the rescue in real life, too.

Miranda-Rodriguez created La Borinqueña five years ago as a superhero who would entertain readers with her superpowered adventures, express Puerto Rican pride, and make more people aware of the island’s economic problems. Just like in the comics, though, there have been unexpected twists, and La Borinqueña and her creator are not only raising awareness of Puerto Rico and its dilemmas, but is also raising cold, hard cash to help Puerto Ricans recover from Hurricane Maria, fend off the pandemic, and move toward self-determination.

The third volume of La Borinqueña (with artist Will Rosado) will come out this month, and Miranda-Rodriguez plans to do a book tour in the fall. He will be bringing chocolate: He contracted with the 92-year-old chocolate maker Chocolate Cortés P.R., to include an original, four-episode La Borinqueña story on the inner wrappers of its bars. Proceeds from the sale of the limited-edition chocolate bars will go to the Fundación Cortés as part of the La Borinqueña Grants Program, which distributes grants to local nonprofits….

(12) JOHN NO LAST NAME. Stephen Haffner previewed some of the beautiful work on The Complete John the Balladeer by Manly Wade Wellman, which can be preordered from Haffner Press.

(13) PRODIGY. This teaser trailer for the new animated Nickelodeon series, Star Trek: Prodigy debuted during the “Star Trek Universe” panel at Comic-Con@Home 2021.

Developed by Emmy® Award-winners Kevin and Dan Hageman (“Trollhunters” and “Ninjago”) the CG-animated series STAR TREK: PRODIGY is the first “Star Trek” series aimed at younger audiences and will follow a motley crew of young aliens who must figure out how to work together while navigating a greater galaxy, in search for a better future. These six young outcasts know nothing about the ship they have commandeered – a first in the history of the Star Trek Franchise – but over the course of their adventures together, they will each be introduced to Starfleet and the ideals it represents

(14) CHEAPER THAN BEZOS: THIS, SURELY, IS A NO-SMOKING FLIGHT. “You can ride a hydrogen balloon to outer space for $125K” reports the New York Post.

Space flight company Space Perspective has debuted a $125,000 package that brings travelers to the edge of our atmosphere on a space-age hot air balloon.

The Florida-based firm aims to usher in a “new era in luxury travel experiences” with their groundbreaking — or air-breaking, if you will — tour aboard the Spaceship Neptune, a massive, hydrogen-supported balloon with a passenger capsule in tow that can float atop Earth’s atmosphere. There, amateur astronauts can soak up the splendor of our home planet, thanks to panoramic windows and reclining seats.

(15) DINO DRIVE-BY. Jurassic Quest has returned to the Rose Bowl in Pasadena from July 23-August 1. The concept kind of reminds me of the Lion Country Safari that used to be in Orange County.

The new Jurassic Quest Drive Thru version of the show features over 70 life-like dinosaurs including the very popular T. Rex, Spinosaurus and Triceratops. Jurassic Quest’s herd of animatronic dinos are displayed in realistic scenes that allow guests to experience them roaring and moving from their own vehicles  as they drive their way through the tour. Baby dinosaurs greet guests and bring big smiles to explorers of all ages. During the drive-thru experience, guests are guided by an engaging and informative digital audio tour featuring show entertainers and dino wranglers that lasts about an hour. Guests stay in their cars throughout the tour with limited contact, if any, with staff who wear masks, social distance, and follow all state and local guidelines regarding health and safety. To further ensure the safety of patrons and staff, all equipment and workstations undergo regular sanitization throughout the show. All attendees receive a free, safari-style family photo in their vehicles set against a dinosaur backdrop as a memento of their experience.

(16) FRANK. Here’s an alarming item you can squeeze into that empty space on your bookshelf. (As if any Filer would have that!) “Peeping On The Bookshelf Booknook” at Souamer.

(17) THANK GOD IT’S FRIDAY. Wait, we’re not talking about just the end of the week — the End of the World is coming! But when and how? Isaac Arthur explores all the options from manmade to natural, tomorrow to a trillion years in the future.

(18) VIDEO OF THE DAY.  [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In a spoiler-filled “Space Jam 2:  A New Legacy Pitch Meeting” on Screen Rant, Ryan George says the writer at the pitch meeting’s goal is to make a film that will convince children to tell their parents, “You know, Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. really is my favorite multi-media and mass entertainment conglomerate.”

[Thanks to Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, Paul Weimer, David K.M. Klaus, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Daniel Dern, Michael J. Lowrey, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, Michael Toman, John King Tarpinian, and Cat Eldridge for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to contributing editor of the day Jack Lint (suggested in June 2019).]

Pixel Scroll 7/17/21 Part Pixel. Part Scroll. All File 770

(1) DRAGON AWARDS DEADLINE. Red Panda Fraction reminds everyone that July 19 the deadline to nominate for the Dragon Awards. The award has a unique eligibility period – the works must be released between 7/1/2020 and 6/30/2021 – and to help deal with it RPF has created an eligible works spreadsheet compiled by volunteers (inspired by Renay’s Hugo Awards spreadsheet) in a Google Doc located here. Dragon Awards nominations can be submitted here

(2) A TOMORROW WAR MAKEOVER. Camestros Felapton wasn’t content to “Review: The Tomorrow War (Amazon)” – now he’s come up with a plan for “Fixing The Tomorrow WarBEWARE SPOILERS as they say.

Sorry, it’s just that this daft film is bugging me. If you are going to have a time travel plot then do something with it. Terminator 1 and 2 managed to be exciting, daft movies and still have some interesting things to say about determinism and time travel. The Tomorrow War pulled one emotional beat out of the set-up but otherwise the time travel aspect just lead to an absurd situation in which Chris Pratt and only Chris Pratt could work out what to do in the past to help the future. It didn’t help that Pratt is not good at conveying the idea that his character is a particularly insightful thinker….

(3) BIG BUCKS. Somebody got paid: “‘Walking Dead’ Lawsuit Settled For $200M Between Frank Darabont, CAA & AMC” reports Deadline.

Less than a month before The Walking Dead kicks off its 11th and final season, the long and bitter legal war between former showrunner Frank DarabontCAA and AMC is over.

In the dictionary definition of a strategic whimper not a bang, the cabler just filed paperwork with the SEC declaring that they have paid out $200 million to the Shawshank Redemption director and the uberagency to end the dispute.

“The Settlement Agreement provides for a cash payment of $200 million (the “Settlement Payment”) to the plaintiffs and future revenue sharing related to certain future streaming exhibition of The Walking Dead and Fear The Walking Dead,” says the understated filing (read it here).

“With regard to the Settlement Payment, the Company has taken a charge of approximately $143 million in the quarter ended June 30, 2021 in consideration for the extinguishment of Plaintiffs’ rights to any compensation in connection with The Walking Dead and any related programs and the dismissal of the actions with prejudice, which amount is net of
approximately $57 million of ordinary course accrued participations,” the 3-page document continues.

… All of which means almost 10 years since TWD‘s Halloween 2011 premiere under Darabont’s tutorage, this legal saga is done like a walker with a knife through the head.

(4) LEVAR BURTON READS HIS OWN BOOK. Entertainment Weekly invites everyone to “Hear LeVar Burton read his novel Aftermath for the first time”. Audio at the link.

Book aficionado, actor, director, and novelist LeVar Burton is doing something new with one of his old projects.

He’s taking Aftermath, his speculative fiction novel from 1997, and turning it into a new audiobook — and EW has your first listen.

When Burton released the book in the late ’90s, it was set in the future — 2019. It followed a group of people that just might be able to save humanity following catastrophic events, including a destructive earthquake, racial strife (the fictional Black president was assassinated in 2012), and war.

EW’s sneak peek from Aftermath is Burton’s new author’s note, where he comments on some of the themes and offers reflection on recent historical events. Looking back on his novel, Burton said he was “astonished by similarities between” his “timeline and unfolding events.” He also notes he wrote the book as “a cautionary tale.”…

(5) A DIM VIEW. Gavia Baker-Whitelaw critiques the cinematography of Marvel movies in “Why the MCU’s Lighting Sucks—Including ‘Loki’ and ‘Avengers: Endgame’” at Daily Dot.

Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) fandom is a fount of strong opinions, some of which I find wholly understandable (Tilda Swinton’s role was a fiasco; Sebastian Stan is an underrated gem) while others are a little more… puzzling. In the latter category, it’s always bizarre to see people praise the MCU’s lighting. Unlike the artistic vigor of the comics, Disney’s Marvel franchise delivers film after film that can best be described as “murky.” And that includes the popular technique of just blasting a scene with a single color.

This week saw the release of Black Widow and the Loki finale, both involving a similarly lackluster lighting strategy. Black Widow‘s final sequence includes flashes of red to break up the grey undertones of a traditional Marvel battle, while Loki concludes in a purple castle—after fighting a purple CGI behemoth in episode 5. In both examples, the result is deceptively monotonous. While Loki‘s purple color scheme is initially eye-catching, the low-contrast lighting makes it hard to make out the characters’ facial expressions. The same goes for many other scenes in the show, as evidenced by this official promo image…

There’s nothing wrong with filming in monochrome, of course. The film industry did it for the first forty years of its existence. But Marvel’s “paint it all purple” (or brown, or red) technique ignores the shadows, reflections, and highlights utilized in traditional black-and-white films. So we’re neither benefiting from evocative lighting choices or from the vibrant color palette in blockbusters like Superman (1978). (For a classic superhero movie that probably would work in black and white, Tim Burton’s Batman is full of stark, noir-style contrasts.)…

(6) GOT TO BE HERE SOMEWHERE. Austin Gilkeson examines “The Fellowship of the Ring and the Memes of Middle-earth” at Tor.com, including a famous one that doesn’t come from Tolkien’s books.

The other day, I opened Facebook and saw a Boromir meme. You know the one. Fingers and thumb forming a circle, golden light about him, the words “One does not simply [something something]” embossed over the image. This one has the Center for Disease Control logo below that, with the PR announcement, “Fully vaccinated people may now simply walk into Mordor.” Below that, Boromir rubs his temple in frustration. Twenty years on from the debut of The Fellowship of the Ring, and that line from Sean Bean’s Boromir, and I think we can safely say that the “One does not simply” meme is, like the Eldar, immortal….

(7) JOE MCKINNEY (1968-2021). Author Joe McKinney, writer of 13 novels in many genres, including horror, ghost stories, virus thrillers, crime and science fiction, died July 13. He was an 8-time Bram Stoker Award nominee, winning twice, for his novel The Flesh Eaters (2012) and his young adult novel Dog Days (2014).

In addition, he was a sergeant with the San Antonio Police Department, Patrol Supervisor, and before that a homicide detective, disaster mitigation specialist, and he’d helped run the city’s 911 Dispatch Center.

The San Antonio Current paid tribute here, and quotes two writers connected with the Horror Writers Association who eulogized McKinney on Facebook.

“I am terribly saddened to hear that a good friend and great writer, Joe McKinney, has passed away suddenly,” horror author and HWA board member JG Faherty posted on Facebook Thursday. “I will miss the chats we used to have every few months. He was always there to help me when I needed some factual assistance with police procedure, or to just bullshit about things.”

On Thursday, horror author Lisa Morton, a six-time Bram Stoker Award winner, posted a Facebook remembrance of McKinney. She met the San Antonio author in 2006 after being asked to write a blurb for Dead City.

“I became both a fan of Joe’s work and a friend,” Morton wrote. “At some point we both wound up serving as HWA officers and trustees, and Joe was always a trusted voice of wisdom. Even after he left office (he served lastly as HWA’s secretary), we stayed in touch, talking about an amazing crime novel he wanted to write, based on some uncomfortable truths he’d learned while serving within the San Antonio Police Department.”

(8) MEMORY LANE.

  • 1996 – Twenty-five years ago the Deadly Games series ended its run on UPN after just one season. So why am I bringing it to your attention? Because Leonard Nimoy was one of the executive producers (along with Jim Charleston, Christopher Hibler and Christian I. Nyby II), along with being a creative consultant and he directed the pilot for the series. He was not one of the creators as that was Paul Bernbaum, S.S. Schweitzer and Anthony Spinner. (Only the latter with work on The Invaders and The Man from U.N.C.LE. had any extensive genre work. Well, and he wrote for The Banana Splits Adventure Hour.)  Its principal cast was James Calvert, Christopher Lloyd, Cynthia Gibb and Stephen T. Kay. The plot? Evil VR characters escape into reality. Really, would I kid you? The network contracted for an initial thirteen episodes and cancelled it before all of them even aired due to really poor ratings. There’s no audience rating at Rotten Tomatoes but the aggregate critical rating there is fifty percent. 

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born July 17, 1889 Erle Stanley Gardner. Though best remembered for the Perry Mason detective stories, he did write a handful of SF stories, all of which are collected in The Human Zero: The Science Fiction Stories of Erle Stanley Gardner. It is not available from the usual digital suspects but Amazon has copies of the original hardcover edition at reasonable prices. (Died 1970.)
  • Born July 17, 1954 J. Michael Straczynski, 67. Best known rather obviously for creating and writing most of  Babylon 5 and its all too short-lived sequel Crusade. He’s also responsible for as well as the Jeremiah and Sense8 series. On the comics sides, he’s written The Amazing Spider-Man, Thor and Fantastic Four. Over at DC, he did the Superman: Earth One trilogy of graphic novels, and has also written SupermanWonder Woman, and Before Watchmen titles. I wonder how his Dangerous Visions anthology project is coming along. 
  • Born July 17, 1956 Timothy D. Rose, 65. Puppeteer and actor. He was the Head Operator of Howard the Duck in that film, but also was in The Dark Crystal, Return to EwokReturn of The JediReturn to OzThe Muppet Christmas CarolThe Force Awakens and The Last Jedi. He voiced Admiral Ackbar in the latter two and in The Return of The Jedi as well. 
  • Born July 17, 1965 Alex Winter, 56. Bill in Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure and its sequels Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey and Bill & Ted Face the Music. And though I didn’t realise it, he was Marko in The Lost Boys. He directed two Ben 10 films, Ben 10: Race Against Time and Ben 10: Alien Swarm. He also directed Quantum Is Calling, a short film that has cast members Keanu Reeves, Simon Pegg, John Cho, and Paul Rudd. 
  • Born July 17, 1967 Kelly Robson, 54. She finally has a collection out, nearly five hundred pages of fiction, Alias Space and Other Stories. It’s available at the usual suspects for four dollars and ninety-nine cents. Bliss! It contains “A Human Stain” for which she won a Nebula, and two Aurora winners, “Waters of Versailles” and “Gods, Monsters, and the Lucky Peach”. 
  • Born July 17, 1976 Brian K. Vaughan, 45. Wow. Author of  Ex Machina, Pride of Baghdad, Runaways, Saga (which has won a BFA and a Dragon), Y: The Last Man, and his newest undertaking, Paper Girls. And he’s won a Hugo Award at LoneStarCon 3 for Saga, Volume One. You could spend an entire summer just reading those series. In his spare time, he was a writer, story editor and producer of Lost during seasons three through five, and he was the showrunner and executive producer of the Under the Dome series.
  • Born July 17, 1992 Billie Lourd, 29. Lourd is the only child of actress Carrie Fisher.  She appeared as Lieutenant Connix in the Star Wars sequel trilogy as Lieutenant Kaydel Ko Connix.  She also has been a regular cast member on American Horror Story for the five seasons. 

(10) COMICS SECTION.

  • Prickly City has the passive-aggressive UFO take on Earth people.
  • Lio’s lost pet poster leaves out one important fact.

(11) BIG PRICE TAGS. The New York Times includes photos of several of these unique items in “Toymakers Create Their Dream Projects (but Ask for Money Upfront)”.

… Other collectors are opening their wallets to buy exclusive products like a $575 Transformers action figure from Hasbro, a $350 Star Wars gunship from Lego, a $75 Magic 8 Ball from Mattel and a $250 Bear Walker skateboard from Pokémon.

The strategy is part of an effort by toy companies to form stronger bonds with fans by offering them once-in-a-lifetime toys. Many companies have beefed up their e-commerce presence to sell limited-edition items that are not found at Walmart or Target.

After slipping 4 percent in 2019, U.S. toy sales roared back last year, rising 16 percent to $25.1 billion, according to the NPD Group, a research firm. “2020 was an unprecedented year for the U.S. toy industry,” Juli Lennett, vice president and industry adviser for NPD’s U.S. toy division, said in a statement.

Much of the expansion was driven by pandemic-induced lockdowns that led consumers to shop online for entertainment options. In the first three quarters of 2020, overall online toy sales jumped 75 percent from a year earlier, NPD said.

Taking advantage of the online growth, executives at big toymakers like Hasbro and Mattel are ramping up their efforts to create dream projects. And digital strategies like crowdfunding allow smaller companies to bypass the hurdles of selling a concept to established retailers, which might balk at giving valuable shelf space to a large, expensive toy or an untested product.

(12) SCHMIGADOON. I don’t think I could actually stand to watch this show, but in small doses it’s morbidly fascinating. Consider the Carousel-esque “You Can’t Tame Me” clip. Which can’t be embedded here.

The six-part series follows a couple, played by Cecily Strong and Keegan-Michael Key, who stumble on a magical town that lives in a 1940s musical. From there, the pair have to try and find true love.

(13) DON’T SPARE THE ROD.  “Submitted for your approval, the ten episodes that broke the bank…in the Twilight Zone.”The Richest calls these “The Ten Most Expensive Twilight Zone Episodes”.

8/10 Once Upon A Time, $67,250.76

The expensive budget behind this no-dialogue episode was in part due to the appearance of silent-film star Buster Keaton. The episode was written as an homage to some of Keaton’s most iconic performances and still retains the Twilight Zone’s iconic twist.

Centered around two men who are unhappy with their current existence, a time traveling helmet provides both a glimpse into how true satisfaction comes from acknowledging that the grass on the other side of the fence is not actually greener.

(14) WOMEN IN SPACE. “What does it take to do a spacewalk? Skill, courage, and being able to wear a men’s size medium” says The Conversation.

On June 25, astronauts Shane Kimbrough and Thomas Pesquet successfully completed an almost seven-hour EVA (extravehicular activity, or spacewalk) to install solar panels on the International Space Station. What does it take to don a spacesuit and venture out on such a technical and dangerous mission? Surprisingly, one of the main criteria (besides the years of astronaut training) is body size.

EVA capabilities blossomed during the era of NASA’s space shuttle. Astronauts rode robotic arms, floated tetherless through the void using jetpacks to steer, corralled satellites by hand, and built the International Space Station (ISS). They’ve done it all while wearing spacesuits based on the design first developed for the Apollo missions in the 1960s.

Each suit is a human-shaped spacecraft, featuring a backpack that houses a primary life support system; a layered, pressurised outer garment to protect astronauts from the space environment; and a “long john” undergarment that circulates chilled water via tubes over the body to stop the astronauts getting too hot inside their suit.

When designing these “next-gen” spacesuits in 1974, NASA opted for a modular “tuxedo” approach, in which the various components (upper torso, lower torso, helmet, arms and gloves) could be mixed and matched to fit individual astronauts. The suits came in five sizes, from extra small to extra large, and were based primarily on male body shapes — females were not eligible for NASA’s astronaut program until 1978….

… This means that to be selected for an ISS spacewalk, an astronaut must fit one of the two remaining available sizes: men’s medium, or men’s large. The first all-female EVA, planned for March 2019, had to be postponed because only one medium-sized suit was available. Another medium suit was eventually cobbled together from spares, and astronauts Christina Koch and Jessica Meir successfully performed their groundbreaking spacewalk on October 18 2019.

(15) INCOMING. This dragon-killing movie is coming to Netflix next month: Monster Hunter: Legends of the Guild

(16) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In this video, the Royal Ocean Film Society celebrates the work of director Joe Johnston and his film The Rocketeer, and says Johnston’s films are “cheesy, but the best kind of cheese.”  He notes that Johnston’s films are small, efficient tributes to the American dream, and says that fans of Johnston’s Captain America: The First Avenger will like Johnston’s earlier film.

[Thanks to Andrew Porter, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, Red Panda Fraction, Michael Toman, John King Tarpinian, Cat Eldridge, and Mike Kennedy for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to contributing editor of the day Jon Meltzer.]

Pixel Scroll 6/29/21 It Takes A Heap Of Pixels To Make A File A Scroll

(1) DAYTIME EMMYS. The Daytime Emmy winners announced June 25 included this item of genre interest:

Outstanding Daytime Promotional Announcement
Jurassic World Camp Cretaceous / Launch Campaign (Netflix)

Subsequently, the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences has revealed the nominations in its Children’s, Animation, Lifestyle Categories. Fansided reports that Star Wars: The Clone Wars picked up three nominations:

The final season of Star Wars: The Clone Wars was released to widespread critical acclaim, and now the animated series will look to pick up some new accolades. It was announced this week that the seventh season of The Clone Wars has received three nominations at the upcoming Daytime Emmy Awards.

The show will look to take home the trophies for Outstanding Writing Team for a Daytime Animated Program, Outstanding Music Direction and Composition for a Preschool, Children’s or Animated Program, and Outstanding Sound Mixing and Sound Editing for a Daytime Animated Program.

The winners in the Children’s Programming and Animation category will be announced in a stand-alone show streaming at 8 p.m. ET July 17 on the Emmy OTT platform.

(2) THE LEVAR BURTON READS WRITING CONTEST. FIYAH Literary Magazine today announced the LeVar Burton Reads Origins & Encounters Writing Contest sponsored by FIYAH.

FIYAH is partnering with the LeVar Burton Reads podcast for their first-ever writing contest! Do you write speculative fiction (sci-fi, fantasy, horror)? Do you love the podcast? Have you dreamed of getting your work in front of THE LeVar Burton ever since the days of Reading Rainbow? Well, here’s your shot. We are looking for one special story to be featured in Season 10 of the podcast

The first place winner will receive $500 and the story will be read by LeVar Burton on an upcoming episode of the LeVar Burton Reads podcast. The second place winner gets $250, and the third place winner, $100.

Editors for this contest include Diana M. Pho and L. D. Lewis, with the final selection being made by LeVar himself. View full submission guidelines and contest rules here.

(3) WHEN NEW WORLDS WAS REALLY NEW. At Galactic Journey, Mark Yon reviewed the July 1966 issues of Impulse and New Worlds. To everybody’s surprise and delight, New Worlds editor Michael Moorcock himself dropped by to leave a comment: “[June 28, 1966] Scapegoats, Revolution and Summer Impulse and New Worlds, July 1966”. (Yon’s review of New Worlds covers an early story by Jon De Cles, who comments here.)

(4) WORDS BY ROY THOMAS. The Cromcast has published another recording from the 2021 Robert E. Howard Days:  “The Roy Thomas Interview!” Thomas was this year’s guest of honor.

(5) VERTLIEB ON THE ZONE. Paradelphia Radio featured Steve Vertlieb on January’s podcast about The Twilight Zone.

After over 50 years of rubbing shoulders with the giants of the entertainment industry, Steve Vertlieb’s resume reads like a cinephile’s dream. This week I speak with the award winning journalist and film historian about the cultural impact of Rod Serling and his seminal science fiction anthology series “The Twilight Zone”.

The late 1950s/early 1960s were a time of staunch conservatism in America. This ideology was prevalent in the mainstream entertainment Americans watched on their television sets and at the local cinema. Rod Serling was a man with a message but it wasn’t a message many at this time wanted to hear. A talented writer, Serling was also a student of history and he knew that to get a message through a fortress wall, sometimes you needed to give the gift of a Trojan horse. “The Twilight Zone” was that gift and in the guise of science fiction, black comedy and horror Rod Serling’s voice reached out to open the eyes, ears and hearts of a fascinated public. This week we welcome award winning journalist, film historian and archivist Steve Vertlieb to the show as we discuss the cultural impact of “The Twilight Zone” and how Rod Serling’s message is still relevant over 60 years after the show’s debut.

(6) CASTAWAYS. James Davis Nicoll chronicles these (unwanted) homes away from home in “Five SFF Tales of Survival in a Strange Place (or Time)” at Tor.com.

… I’m sure you could find many SFF novels about such fuddy-duddy tourism turning strange. There are also novels that up the stakes by marooning the protagonist far from home. This will certainly give the protagonist a way to display do-or-die determination by denying them any choice in the matter…

Consider these five works about castaways.

The Luck of Brin’s Five by Cherry Wilder (1977)

Travel on Torin is a simple matter of hopping into a convenient space-plane and jetting to some other location on the Earth-like world that orbits 70 Ophuichi. Or it would be, if Scott Gale had not just crashed his expedition’s only space-plane on the far side of Torin, near the Terran expeditionary base’s antipodes. Oops.

Torin’s native population is unaware that they have off-world visitors until Scott’s space-plane falls from the sky. To the family of weavers known as Brin’s Five, Scott could become their new Luck (an integral member of each Moruian family’s five-member structure). His arrival may save the weavers from misfortune and starvation.

To Great Elder Tiath Avran Pentroy, also known as Tiath Gargan (or Strangler), technologically superior aliens are an unwanted disruptive element. Best to quietly dispatch Scott before Strangler has to deal with the ramifications of alien contact. And if Brin’s Five are not public-minded enough to surrender their Luck? Why, they can be dispatched as well.

(7) WEISSKOPF WILL KEYNOTE WRITERS OF THE FUTURE CEREMONY. Authors Services President John Goodwin announced today Toni Weisskopf will speak at this year’s WOTF Awards Ceremony. Goodwin indicated they are looking at October 22 as the date of the event.

I am very happy to announce Toni Weisskopf, Publisher of Baen Books, as this year’s keynote speaker for the combined Writers and Illustrators of the Future 36/37 Awards Ceremony. Many of our past winners and current judges are published by Baen Books. Writers of the Future and Toni first connected up in 1989, when as a volunteer, she helped out at the Writers of the Future Awards Event in New York City. We are happy she will be back again!

(8) TIME ENOUGH FOR CATS. Did we mention there is a Japanese adaptation of Heinlein’s The Door Into Summer? Let’s make sure it hasn’t been overlooked by the Scroll:

(9) MEMORY LANE.

1999 — Twenty-two years ago, Charles Vess wins a Mythopoeic Fantasy Award for Adult Literature for the illustrated version of Neil Gaiman’s Stardust which was published by Vertigo the previous year. Gaiman of course shared in that Award. It would also win a World Fantasy Award as well. 

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born June 29, 1919 — Slim Pickens. Surely you remember his memorable scene as Major T. J. “King” Kong in Dr. Strangelove? I certainly do. And of course he shows up in Blazing Saddles as Taggart. He’s the uncredited voice of B.O.B in The Black Hole and he’s Sam Newfield in The Howling. He’s got some series genre work including several appearances on Alfred Hitchcock Presents, plus work on The Man from U.N.C.L.E. and Night Gallery. (Died 1983.)
  • Born June 29, 1920 — Ray Harryhausen. All-around film genius who created stop-motion model Dynamation animation. His work can be seen in The 7th Voyage of Sinbad (his first color film) which was nominated for a Hugo at Detention, Jason and the Argonauts,  Mighty Joe Young and Clash of the Titans. (Died 2013.)
  • Born June 29, 1943 — Maureen O’Brien, 78. Vicki, companion of the First Doctor. Some 40 years later, she reprised the role for several Big Finish Productions Doctor Who audio works. She had a recurring role as Morgan in The Legend of King Arthur, a late Seventies BBC series. Her Detective Inspector John Bright series has been well received.
  • Born June 29, 1947 — Michael Carter, 74. Best remembered  for being Gerald Bringsley in An American Werewolf in London, Von Thurnburg in The Illusionist and Bib Fortuna in the Return of the Jedi. He plays two roles as a prisoner and as UNIT soldier in the Third Doctor story, “The Mind of Evil”. 
  • Born June 29, 1950 — Michael Whelan, 71. I’m reasonably sure that most of the Del Rey editions of McCaffrey’s Dragonriders of Pern series was where I first noticed his artwork but I’ve certainly seen it elsewhere since. He did Heinlein’s The Cat Who Walks Through Walls cover which I love and many more I can’t recall right now. And there’s a wonderful collection of work available, Beyond Science Fiction: The Alternative Realism of Michael Whelan.
  • Born June 29, 1956 — David Burroughs Mattingly, 65. He’s an American illustrator and painter, best known for his numerous book covers of genre literature. Earlier in his career, he worked at Disney Studio on the production of The Black HoleTronDick Tracy and Stephen King’s The Stand. His main cover work was at Ballantine Books where he did such work as the 1982 cover of Herbert’s Under Pressure (superb novel), the 2006 Anderson’s Time Patrol and the 1983 Berkley Books publication of E. E. ‘Doc’ Smith Triplanetary.
  • Born June 29, 1968 — Judith Hoag, 53. Her first genre role was in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles as April O’Neil followed by being in Armageddon playing Denise Chappel and then a Doctor in A Nightmare On Elm Street. She filmed a cameo for another Turtle film, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows, but it was deleted. She’s got one one-offs in Quantum LeapThe Adventures of Brisco County, Jr.,  Strange WorldThe Burning ZoneX-FilesCarnivàle and Grimm. Her latest genre role was in The Magicians as Stephanie Quinn.

(11) COMICS SECTION.

(12) TOP DOGS AND OTHERS. Gizmodo has an opinion – do you? “DC Super-Pets Ranked: Krypto, Ace the Bat-Hound, Streaky, and More” Daniel Dern sent the link, adding “For those who are wondering ‘Hey, where’s Proty?’ I’ll let Tom Galloway or Kurt Busiek field that one.” (Warning – it’s a click-through slideshow.)

It is a good time to be a superheroic animal. DC’s League of Super-Pets animated movie is on the way and has somehow nabbed Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson as the voice of Krypto the Superdog, along with Kevin Hart as Ace the Bat-Hound, plus Keanu Reeves, Kate McKinnon, Diego Luna, and more. But these critters—and maybe others—have long had superhero careers in the pages of DC Comics. It’s time to look at every member of the Legion of Super-Pets— and see how they compare….

(13) SALE OF THE MID-CENTURY. See a bit of sf history in a photo here on Facebook – at the 1968 Worldcon in Oakland/Berkeley, Harlan Ellison auctions off the services of David Gerrold (standing).

(14) BRING THE ANSWERS. For those who’ll be in Wellington, NZ on August 3 and 4, SFFANZ points out the availability of “A quiz from galaxies far away” at the Foxglove Bar & Kitchen. Ticket includes: canapés, two drinks and quiz.

Battle of the Galaxies

It’s time for a showdown of galactic proportions…
In which universe does your loyalty lie, are you Team Spock or is Darth your daddy? Foxglove and Gee Quiz are proud to strike back in 2021 bringing you a quiz from galaxies far away, a showdown between Star Wars and Star Trek superfans.

Whet your whistle in Mos Eisely Cantina while the food replicator whips you up dishes from culinary worlds like Endor, Naboo, Vulcan and Remus. Have you ever tried Petrokian Sausage? All teams answer questions from both universes, including specialty bonus food and beverage rounds to test your knowledge of culinary delights that are out of this world. Every ticket includes 2 drinks, canape and shared table banquet dishes from all corners of the universe!

Book your six person team ($450) or book a single ticket ($75) and declare your loyalty and we’ll match you up with like-minded quizzers.

(15) YOUR NEXT $500 TOY. Er, I’m sorry, only $499.99. “Massive Playmobil Star Trek U.S.S. Enterprise NCC-1701 Playset Gets Official Images”Comicbook.com has photos.

Playmobil appears to be taking on LEGO and some of the massive Star Wars sets in their Ultimate Collector’s Series lineup with the 70548 Star Trek U.S.S. Enterprise NCC-1701 Playset. It’s being touted as “the biggest and most deluxe Playmobil playset created up to this point”. UPDATE: Official images added. Additional images are available here at Entertainment Earth, where the set can be pre-ordered for $499.99.

ORIGINAL: How big? When complete the starship will measure 42-inches long and 18-inches wide. Features will include electronic lights and sounds that can be controlled via an app, and you can open up the saucer section of the Enterprise to see a full 1966-style bridge. The body of the ship will also open to display the engineering room.

(16) A DISTURBANCE IN THE FORCE. “Astrophysicists Detect Black Holes and Neutron Stars Merging, This Time for Certain” – let Gizmodo fill you in.

A large collaboration of astrophysicists report they have made the first-ever confirmed detections of shockwaves produced by mergers between neutron stars and black holes. The detections, 10 days apart, represent two of these enormous cosmic unions.

In January 2020, Earth quivered ever so slightly as shockwaves imperceptible to human senses passed through it. Those ripples were gravitational waves, perturbations in spacetime generated by all massive objects but only detectable from extremely huge events, like two black holes colliding. The waves were strong enough to be picked up by the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory in Louisiana (the Washington branch of the instrument was offline at the time) and the similar Virgo experiment in Pisa, Italy. These experiments detect gravitational waves using a sensitive arrangement of mirrors and laser beams.

Black holes are points in space with such intense gravitational fields that not even light can escape. They form when a star dies and collapses in on itself. Neutron stars form similarly; they are the extremely dense collapsed remains of dead stars and are mostly composed of packed-in neutrons.

(17) AROUND THE BLOCK. The New York Times reports “Venus Lacks Plate Tectonics. But It Has Something Much More Quirky.”

… Venus doesn’t have plate tectonics. But according to a study published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, it may possess a quirky variation of that process: Parts of its surface seem to be made up of blocks that have shifted and twisted about, contorting their surroundings as they went.

These boogying blocks, thin and flat slices of rock referred to as campi (Latin for “fields”), can be as small as Ireland or as expansive as Alaska. They were found using data from NASA’s Magellan orbiter mission, the agency’s last foray to Venus. In the early 1990s, it used radar to peer through the planet’s obfuscating atmosphere and map the entire surface. Taking another look at these maps, scientists found 58 campi scattered throughout the planet’s lava-covered lowlands….

(18) SHOW BIZ WANTS YOU. Universal Studios Hollywood put out a call for contestants to be on “the first ever Harry Potter quiz show.” The application is here.

(19) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In “Honest Game Trailers: Ratchet and Crank:  Rift Apart,” Fandom Games says the latest line extension of the Ratchet and Crank franchise is so familiar that “if it seems like a new coat of paint on an old favorite, that’s what it is” and shows the rule of the gaming industry, that, “If it ain’t broke, just slap newer-looking graphics on it and charge full price.”

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Cora Buhlert, James Davis Nicoll, Daniel Dern, Andrew Porter, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, and Michael Toman  for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to contributing editor of the day Andrew (not Werdna).]

Pixel Scroll 5/13/21 Sympathy For The Pixel

(1) STRANGE DOINGS AT EBAY. The online sales site eBay has reorganized a large number of categories and reclassified products into them. The new U.S. table is here: US_Category_Changes_May2021_NFT-update.

If you do a search for “comics” on that page, you’ll find that eBay has decided to retire the categories for “Superhero,” “Platinum Age”, “Golden Age”, “Silver Age”, etc. All listings are being moved into a general Comics & Graphic Novels category.

(2) LEVAR BURTON BOOK CLUB. “LeVar Burton launches a new book club: See first three picks” reports Entertainment Weekly.

The LeVar Burton Book Club launches Tuesday via the “social reading app” Fable, with selections handpicked by the actor. To start off, he’s chosen three books that “represent how my identity as a reader has been shaped,” he says: James Baldwin‘s semi-autobiographical novel Go Tell It on the MountainOctavia Butler‘s modern sci-fi classic Parable of the Sower, and the essay and poetry collection The Fire This Time, edited by Jesmyn Ward. (Baldwin’s book will serve as the first month’s pick, with three new titles being revealed every three months.)

“For me, if I’m going to start a book club, I’m going to begin with who I am and my story as a reader,” Burton tells EW. “Obviously, there are hundreds of books that have shaped my identity as a reader, and these three are really representative of an important aspect of that journey for me.”

And while all three are by Black authors, Burton takes care to emphasize that to view his book club as an exclusively Black book club “does me and the literature that I promote a great disservice.”

“I know I have demonstrated over time that my attitude towards literature is ecumenical,” he says. “As it happens, the first three books are by people who look like me, and if one wants to pigeonhole that, then that would be, in my estimation, their shortcoming. It’s nothing more than a starting point that reflects who I am.”

(3) KENYAN BOOKTUBERS. SFF history is being made! Thread starts here.

(4) MACHADO Q&A. CBC Radio posted a transcript of their interview with Carmen Maria Machado: “Author fights to keep her queer memoir on a Texas high school reading list — dildo and all”.

A couple weeks ago, author Carmen Maria Machado got a message from a friend that a video was circulating online that involved her memoir and an angry mom wielding a pink strap-on dildo.

The clip was from a Feb. 25 school board meeting in Leander, Texas. The woman was upset that Machado’s memoir, In The Dream House, was on an approved reading list for high school students.

The book, which chronicles Machado’s experience of being in an abusive relationship with another woman, contains a sex scene involving a dildo. The protesting parent read it aloud during the meeting while waving the sex toy around, according to the Austin American Statesman

That’s how Machado learned that her book is one of several that are up for review in Leander because of parents’ complaints. They are part of a book club program that allows students to pick and read one book each semester from a list of 15 chosen by their teachers for their grade level.

The school board told KVUE ABC that it has already removed six books from the program and is devising a policy to exclude “inappropriate literature for the assigned students’ ages.”

Also on the potential chopping block are books by Margaret Atwood, Jodi Picoult and Jacqueline Woodson, who, along with Machado, have penned an open letter with the free expression organization PEN America demanding the books remain available to students.

Machado spoke to As It Happens host Carol Off on Wednesday. Here is part of their conversation….

After this particular meeting, there’s a spokesperson for Leander [Independent] School District who said: “Our goal is to explore what the community feels are age-appropriate materials for classroom reading.” Is there a valid argument? Do you think that In The Dream House is a book that is age-appropriate for that group?

Professional educators chose the book for their students. This all started because a bunch of teachers were like: We want this book on this list. And that is their job. That is what they’re supposed to be doing.

Certainly there are books that are appropriate for certain ages, but I think saying that students at 17 and 18 can’t read anything with sex in it, and that there’s no value in a book like that for those students when your teachers have said otherwise, the people who you pay to educate your kids, that strikes me as very odd and very disingenuous.

The community is also not a monolith. Like, there are gay teens at that school. There are gay people in Leander, Texas. There gay people in Texas…. And it feels a little, I think, strange that this very conservative religious group can sort of make the agenda for all the other students.

Because the parents who want this, their kids did not have to read the book. They could have chosen a different book. They’re trying to remove the book from the list for all the students. So I don’t think it’s really about age-appropriateness. I mean, there’s a reason they they target books with gay content.

(5) SFWA AUCTION. The “Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers Association Online Silent Auction!” is in progress and will continue through May 17. It has raised $5,060 so far.

In addition to autographed books and manuscripts and other collectibles, the featured items include virtual career coaching and manuscript feedback sessions like these:

  • Virtual Career Coaching from N. K. Jemisin

A one-on-one 30-minute virtual career session with 2020 MacArthur Fellow N. K. Jemisin, the first writer to ever to win three consecutive Hugo Awards for Best Novel.

  • Virtual Career Coaching from Catherynne M. Valente

A one-on-one 30-minute virtual career session with Catherynne M. Valente, New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of fantasy and science fiction.

  • Virtual Manuscript Feedback from Mary Robinette Kowal

The winning bidder on this item will enjoy a 30 minute Zoom discussion providing feedback on a story or an excerpt of a longer work, up to 3,000 words. An amazing opportunity to receive personal feedback from Hugo and Nebula Award-winning science fiction and fantasy author Mary Robinette Kowal.

(6) CHAIR-ITABLE CAUSE: [Item by Ben Bird Person.] Colin Howard did much of the cover art for Doctor Who‘s VHS releases. See his covers here for “The Android Invasion” and “The Green Death”. He was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis ten years ago which has affected his mobility. Currently, there’s a fundraiser to help him: “Fundraiser by Michelle Howard : Please help me get Colin back outside in nature”.

… Colin was diagnosed with Multiple sclerosis 10 years ago, this ridiculously talented artist, nature lover and extrovert.

Progressively as MS does it has taken away his mobility, his confidence and he has become more and more isolated. Unable to get outside with ease, making everything he does exhausting and unenjoyable.

We did buy a manual wheel chair, however it is heavy and he is now unable to use his arms to self propel and it’s so cumbersome and there is no pleasure or enthusiasm for him to use it. It’s become easier for him to stay home…. not good.

After doing tons of research I stumbled across this amazing wheel chair. For those of you who know Col, you’ll know what a huge fan of formula one he is. So you’ll know why I’ve chosen this model of wheel chair…. it has formula one technology… carbon fibre and super light….

(7) MEDIA ANNIVERSARY.

May 13, 1994 — On this day in 1994, The Crow premiered. It was directed by Alex Proyas, written by David J. Schow and John Shirley. It was produced by Jeff Most, Edward R. Pressman and Grant Hill.  It starred Brandon Lee in his final film appearance as he was killed in a tragic accident during filming. It’s based on James O’Barr’s The Crow comic book, and tells the story of Eric Draven (Lee), a rock musician who is revived to avenge the rape and murder of his fiancée, as well as his own death. Critics in general loved it, it did well at the box office and audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes currently give it a ninety percent rating. 

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]

  • Born May 13, 1907 – Daphne du Maurier.  Two novels, a score of shorter stories for us; a dozen other novels, three dozen other shorter stories, three plays, nonfiction e.g. The Winding Stair about Francis Bacon, memoirs.  “There are few strains more intolerable in life than waiting for the arrival of unwelcome guests,” The House on the Strand ch.13 (1969) – quoted as a reader’s favorite line on her Website.  (Died 1989) [JH]
  • Born May 13, 1937 — Roger Zelazny. Where do I start? The first half of The Amber Chronicles are a favorite as is The Isle of The Dead,  Eye Of The CatHome is The HangmanTo 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. There’s to my knowledge 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.) (CE)
  • Born May 13, 1940 – Rachel Ingalls.  One novel, ten shorter stories for us.  British Authors’ Club Award.  British Book Marketing Council named one of those ten, the novella “Mrs. Caliban”, among the twenty greatest from America since World War II.  (Died 2019) [JH]
  • Born May 13, 1945 – Maria Tatar, Ph.D., age 76.  Loeb Professor of Germanic Languages & Literatures, and Chair of the Committee on Degrees in Folklore & Mythology, at Harvard.  Among her publications, The Hard Facts of the Grimms’ Fairy TalesThe Annotated Hans Christian AndersenThe Annotated African American Folktales (with Henry Gates).  “Alice [notice I don’t have to identify it any further – JH] is the world’s greatest book.  It’s one of the deepest books.”  [JH]
  • Born May 13, 1946 — Marv Wolfman, 75. He worked for Marvel Comics on The Tomb of Dracula series for which he and artist Gene Colan created Blade, and the Crisis on Infinite Earths series in which he very temporarily untangled DC’s complicated history with George Pérez. And He worked with Pérez on the direct-to-DVD movie adaptation of the popular “Judas Contract” storyline from their tenure on Teen Titans. (I’m not going to list his IMDB credits here. Hell he even wrote a Reboot episode!) (CE) 
  • Born May 13, 1949 — Zoë Wanamaker, 72. She’s been Elle in amazing Raggedy Rawney which was a far better fantasy than Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone ever waswhere she was Madame Hooch. And she was Cassandra in two Ninth Doctor stories, ”The End of the World” and “New Earth”. (CE)
  • Born May 13, 1951 — Gregory Frost, 70. His retelling of The Tain is marvelous. Pair it with Ciaran Carson and China Miéville’s takes on the same legend taking an existing legend and making it fresh it through modern fiction writing is amazing. Fitcher’s Brides, his Bluebeard retelling is an fantastic novel though quite horrific. (CE) 
  • Born May 13, 1951 – A.J. Austin, age 70.  Two novels (with Ben Bova), nine shorter stories.  Interviewed Forry Ackerman and Mike Resnick for Thrust.  Ten years hosting a midday call-in radio program in Connecticut.  [JH]
  • Born May 13, 1957 — Frances Barber, 64. Madame Kovarian, a prime antagonist during the time of The Eleventh Doctor showing up in seven episodes in totality. Fittingly she played Lady Macbeth in Macbeth at the Royal Exchange in Manchester. I’ve got her doing one-offs on Space PrecinctRed Dwarf and The IT Crowd.  (CE) 
  • Born May 13, 1981 – Kieran Yanner, age 40.  A dozen covers, half a dozen interiors; games; Magic: the Gathering cards; concept art.  Here is Before They Were Giants.  Here is Demon in White.  Here is Ghen, Arcanum Weaver.  [JH]
  • Born May 13, 1983 – Nate Ball, age 38.  Mechanical engineer, pole vaulter, beatboxer.  Eight Alien in My Pocket science-adventure chapter books for kids.  Here is Blast Off!  Here is Ohm vs. Amp. [JH]

(9) COMICS SECTION.

(10) BBC VS. FANFIC? iNews says “Doctor Who fans feel ‘demonised’ by BBC crackdown on fan fiction”.

But recently a number of fanfic creators have received worrying demands from the BBC to remove their work from the public domain, arguing that they are infringing on copyright. Under the question “Can I create Doctor Who fan fiction?” on the show’s online FAQ page, the BBC advises that while anyone is “welcome to write Doctor Who fiction for your own enjoyment, but we should remind you that it is not permitted for you to publish this work either in print or online.”

The rules – which were published in 2014 – were unknown to the majority of creators but were widely shared on Twitter this week in response to the BBC’s demands. In response, 21-year-old student Jamie Cowan has started a petition calling for the BBC Studios, the production company behind Doctor Who to offer the fans a seat at the table in these decisions.

Cowan’s petition is at Change.org: “Petition of concern about BBC Studios approach to Doctor Who fan content”. His reference to video clips suggests the BBC’s issue is about more than written Who stories. The petition only has 166 signatures as of this moment.

… The current experience of BBC Studios staff contacting fanfiction and fan audioplays about the own original non-profit ventures – is concerning.

The manual targeting of those who use clips of the show for review purposes or for ‘Top 10’ videos that strongly promote the episodes that they are discussing – is concerning.

We, of the Doctor Who fandom – both creators and the viewers of said creators – call upon you to make a strong reconsideration of the actions you are taking against passionate fans who are doing no damage to the sales or marketability of the brand….

(11) DISNEY RIDES UPDATE HITS A BUMP. “Disney takes ‘woke’ steps toward inclusivity, but sparks a conservative backlash” finds Yahoo! Entertainment.

…The “wench auction” was among the first to go in the exodus of classic-but-problematic Disney scenes. In 2018, the popular Pirates of the Caribbean ride got an overhaul when a redhead who had once been sold as a bride became a pirate instead.

Two years later, the theme park giant announced it was overhauling the Splash Mountain flume ride to lose its story line inspired by “Song of the South” — an outdated Disney film that the company no longer makes available to view because of its rosy view of post-Civil War plantation life. More recently, the company announced updates to the classic Jungle Cruise ride to remove “negative depictions of ‘natives’” and add new elements, just in time for a new movie out this summer….

But these changes aren’t taking place without pushback. Fans created a petition to “save” Splash Mountain from the new theme. Disney-focused sites are full of users who decry what they see as a progressive agenda in the parks, and announcements about updates are typically greeted with threats of a boycott. People who vocally advocate for revisions are often subjected to abusive messages….

The updates in the parks follow a shift in the company’s films over the past several decades. Anne Zimmermann, a lecturer in the Rollins College English department in Winter Park, Florida, said Disney’s princesses started becoming more inclusive, assertive and even feminist over the past couple of decades.

“Today’s generation, they are kind of expecting this of Disney, and they will tell you it’s long overdue,” said Zimmermann, who uses Disney stories in her classes.

At the same time, Disney has recognized that some of its older films include outdated and racist cultural stereotypes and has added warnings on its streaming platform or removed those movies from children’s profiles.

“They’re moving not just toward not being racist, but anti-racist,” Zimmermann said. “Changing the parks continues their own narrative of change.”

Her students visit Disney parks for field research — or, more recently, explore rides online — and flag those that strike them as problematic.

For now, there’s a laundry list of other nominees for eventual updates: the Peter Pan ride for stereotypical depictions of Indigenous people; a ride in Epcot’s Mexico area that includes broad stereotypes; Dumbo, which is based on a movie that includes racist tropes. Fan sites circulate longer lists of what rides might be under the microscope next, occasionally with outraged remarks: It’s a Small World, Hall of Presidents, Country Bear Jamboree.

Disney isn’t saying what is next, but the company has dedicated a team to making sure that updates are done right.

“You create experiences that will make people feel welcome, seen and heard and to let them know that their stories are just as important,” Carmen Smith, creative development and inclusion strategies executive for Walt Disney Imagineering, said in a video. “And so my responsibility is to look at what do we have now and does it resonate with our guest in making them more reflective of the world we live in.”

(12) TOXIC AVOIDER. Alan Yu interviews Amy Ratcliffe about her book A Kid’s Guide to Fandom at NPR: “How Kids Can Avoid Toxic Fandoms”.

…So how do fans navigate these communities, to find the good parts while being aware of the bad? It’s about teaching kids that there are … many other people who like the same things that they do in the same enthusiastic ways and hopefully, helping kids feel more comfortable and confident.

Amy Ratcliffe, managing editor for the pop culture site Nerdist, addresses this as part of her new book, A Kid’s Guide to FandomShe says it’s the book that she wishes she could have had when she was a young fan looking for others like her. Ratcliffe remembers growing up as a fan of the Wheel of Time series, using her family’s dial-up internet to visit online forums.

She says her objective is for kids to be aware of fandom, “that other people like the same things that you like … even if it’s one other person, like you’re not alone.”

“I still hear stories about young girls being bullied because they like Star Wars; they think they’re the only kid,” she says. “It’s about teaching kids that there are … many other people who like the same things that they do in the same enthusiastic ways and hopefully, helping kids feel more comfortable and confident.”

No one gets to decide who is a “real” fan

Ratcliffe explains in her book that some fans can become gatekeepers, people who want to decide who is or is not a “real fan.” Fans, she says, should never have to prove themselves.Ratcliffe herself has run into gatekeepers; once, at a Star Wars convention, a man saw her Rebel Alliance tattoo, “looked at the tattoo, looked at my then-boyfriend who was with me, and was like … completely serious by the way, no sarcasm, like, ‘oh that was really nice of you to get that tattoo for your boyfriend.'”

Her advice for younger fans who want to find communities is to start with groups or places that they know: a local library, or a game shop they go to with their family; to trust their instincts when they feel something is off; and to get an older sibling, a parent, or guardian involved….

(13) HE FINALLY GOT TO SPACE. In Heritage Auctions’ May 21 – 22 Space Exploration Signature Auction one of the items up for bid is this Apollo-Soyuz Test Project Flown Silver Robbins Medallion with a lot of history behind it:

Apollo-Soyuz Test Project Flown Silver Robbins Medallion, Serial Number 43F, Personally Presented by Deke Slayton to and Directly from the Estate of NASA Legend Chris Kraft, with Slayton’s Signed COA and Handwritten Letter of Appreciation. This 35mm sterling silver medal is one of only ninety-three flown (of 285 minted) aboard the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project, the first international manned space effort, July 17-19, 1975, with U.S. crewmembers Thomas Stafford, Vance Brand, & Deke Slayton and Soviet crewmembers Alexei Leonov & Valery Kubasov. The obverse features the mission insignia depicting the docking maneuver above the Earth and the names of the mission and crewmembers. The reverse features the title “First Joint U.S.-U.S.S.R. Space Flight” and the engraved dates. The serial number is on the rim along with the sterling and Robbins hallmarks. This mission effectively ended the “Space Race” between the U.S. and the U.S.S.R. We seldom are able to offer flown examples of this mission’s medal and this one is likely the nicest we have ever handled. A great candidate for grading and encapsulation.

If this were just a Robbins medal with astronaut or even crewmember-provenance, it would be desirable and valuable. When the history behind it is revealed, it becomes a very special item indeed. Deke Slayton was one of the original “Mercury Seven” but was the only one who never flew into space due to being grounded in 1962 with an atrial fibrillation. Ten years later, he was cleared to fly on Apollo-Soyuz with Dr. Kraft’s blessings. On December 1, 1975, Slayton met with Kraft and presented this medal to him loose in an envelope hand-addressed ” Dr. Chris Kraft/ Personal“. Additionally, inside was a December 1st-dated typed letter signed on NASA letterhead that reads: “I hereby certify that Apollo-Soyuz medallion, serial number 43F, was flown in space aboard the Apollo Command Module from July 15, 1975, through July 17, 1975, and that this medallion was presented to Dr. Christopher C. Kraft, Jr., on December 1, 1975. [signed] D. K. Slayton“. 

 [Thanks to Michael Toman, John King Tarpinian, Cat Eldridge, John Hertz, Ben Bird Person, Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, Martin Morse Wooster, Jason Sanford, and JJ for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Rob Thornton.]

Pixel Scroll 4/22/21 Do Jedi Name Their Lightsabers?

(1) FREE ON EARTH DAY. Yes, it’s F.O.E. Arizona State University’s Center for Science and the Imagination, in honor of Earth Day, has published Everything Change, Volume III, a free digital anthology of climate fiction featuring the winner and finalists of their 2020 global climate fiction contest. Edited by Angie Dell and Joey Eschrich, the book is available in a variety of digital formats. View the 10 original illustrations created by Brazilian artist João Queiroz at the book’s webpage (scroll down).

The title Everything Change is drawn from a quote by Margaret Atwood, our first Imagination and Climate Futures lecturer in 2014. The contest and anthology are presented by the Imagination and Climate Futures Initiative at Arizona State University, a partnership of the Center for Science and the Imagination and the Virginia G. Piper Center for Creative Writing.

Stories by: Barakat Akinsiku, Amanda Baldeneaux, J.R. Burgmann, Mason Carr, Scott Dorsch, Sigrid Marianne Gayangos, Kathryn E. Hill, Jules Hogan, Anya Ow, Natasha Seymour

(2) PENNSIC WAR DELAYED AGAIN. The Society for Creative Anachronism’s Pennsic War will not happen again in 2021, however, a non-SCA event called Armistice will be run at the same site. Here are excerpts from the official explanations:

From the Mayor: Pennsic War 49

G’Day Everyone When taking office in the position of Mayor for Pennsic 49 I made a promise to everyone. That promise was that above all else, I would endeavour to run a fiscally responsible and safe Pennsic 49. It was my dear friend and mentor Viscount Sir Edward that said to me “The people that attend this event are Pennsic, take care of them.” I promised him I would. Then COVID 19 hit and the entire world was plunged into a crisis, the like of which we have not witnessed in our lifetimes. Over the past few months, I have been in constant discussions with The Pennsic Seneschals Group (PSG), The President of the SCA Inc, Coopers Lake Management and my Pennsic Senior Executive Group. In addition, I have seen the comments from many of you and listened to the comments from my Deputy Mayors and their staff. I have kept you all updated as much as possible so that you all understand my decision-making process and so that you understand the path I am walking when I make decisions. Although change is happening and things are getting better, I must deal with the now, rather than what I think it may be like in 3 months’ time and unfortunately our vendors needs for commitment and certainty are requiring us to make commitments earlier than we originally intended. As Mayor of Pennsic 49, I was entrusted with, the welfare and safety of the entire Pennsic Family. It is therefore with great sadness that I must inform you today that, I have decided to Postpone Pennsic 49 for another 12 months to 2022. The new dates for Pennsic 49 will be 29 July 2022 – 14 August 2022. This has been an exceedingly difficult decision to make but I trust you understand the reasoning behind it.
…Yours in Service, Sir Gregory of Loch Swan Mayor Pennsic 49

To explain a little further, I just want to put a couple of ‘Myths” that are circulating to bed and for people to clearly understand a few things that have and are happening behind the scenes.

Please understand that SCA, Pennsic staff, and Coopers management are jointly working together to find a solution. A separate, non-SCA event Armistice was the best joint solution that solved the issues of liability, allowed the business to survive, and provided an event for folks.

1. We needed to make a decision earlier because as PA (Just talking about our PA based Support services) started to emerge from the pandemic and slowly ramp up their businesses to pre-pandemic levels over the next 6 months, vendors need some certainty about their future commitment for everything from Portaloos to Waste Disposal bookings. We could not commit to that as the Pennsic War considering the current rules the SCA has in place today for SCA events. That was one consideration in our decision.

2. …All these decisions were made in concert with the SCA, the Pennsic Financial Committee, and the Coopers management working together to determine the best path forward for this summer.

3. For the Pennsic War to survive for another 20+ years, we need to support the main business that has supported us over these many years, Cooper’s Lake Campground and many of the smaller businesses and merchants that rely on Pennsic for part of their yearly income.  They have survived 18 months of no business income and forced closure. That is tough for any business, let alone one, like Coopers Lake,  that solely depends on campers and events. To that end we have been in discussions with the Coopers Lake Management for weeks about their options to survive. Armistice is that option.

4. Armistice “IS NOT” taking over from the Pennsic War. The Coopers Lake Management don’t want that at all. This is a one off event to help them through another tough year and is supported by Pennsic War and many Pennsic staff will be working to make Armistice event successful. It’s an option that gives those that wish to camp and relax with friends in PA, under PA health Guidelines the option to do so in a relaxed medieval environment.

5. We are all adults. Many have asked how to support the Coopers, well I’d suggest that this is a way of doing that, even if you can’t attend the event. I registered even though it is likely I won’t be able to attend, given current international travel rules.

6. This “Is Not” an SCA event. It is a Coopers Lake event run under their rules and insurance.

I hope that clears up some of the questions. Simple language, we knew about this alternate event, were consulted and even offered our expertise to support it. I know, there will be those that want to see some hidden secret SMOF type agenda, but those that know me, know that isn’t the case….  

(3) TONY STARK, COME FORTH. “Marvel Fans Rent Billboard Campaigning For Iron Man To Be Brought Back To Life”CinemaBlend has the story.

…The above image comes to us from a now-deleted Twitter post, which was shared a few hundred times ahead of its mysterious disappearance. Both the social media account and said billboard encourage Marvel fans to use the hashtag #BringBackTonyStarkToLife on April 24th, marks the two-year anniversary of Avengers: Endgame.

…It seems the Marvel fans behind the campaign want to see Iron Man/Tony Stark get a happy ending in the MCU. A number of characters fell throughout Infinity War and Endgame, including Black Widow. But Tony’s death hit especially hard, and his funeral scene was an emotional one considering Pepper Potts and their daughter Morgan.

While both Natasha and Tony died in Avengers: Endgame, Captain America was given a chance at a happy ending. After returning the Infinity Stones to their proper place in the timeline, Steve went back and lived his happy ending with Peggy Carter. It’s likely due to this that fans want to see Iron Man get the same treatment.

Still, it seems unlikely that Tony Stark would somehow be brought back to life in the MCU. The Russo Brothers have spoken about the importance of real stakes, and that includes death scenes. Tony Stark’s death wrapped up the character’s arc, and showed the real sacrifices that come with saving the galaxy.

(4) FIYAHCON PLANS. FIYAHCON 2021, a virtual convention centering the perspectives and celebrating the contributions of BIPOC in speculative fiction, will be held September 16-19.

…The event is hosted by FIYAH Literary Magazine and carries a variety of entertaining and educational content surrounding the business, craft, and community of speculative literature. The inaugural event took place in October of 2020 to great acclaim, and we look forward to doing it all again this year!

Get ready for three-point-five days of dynamic, entertaining content with BIPOC at the center of speculative literature discourse! The event takes place September 16-19, 2021 and includes panels, presentations, games, office hours, write-ins, workshops, kickbacks, and more.

Where the magazine is focused specifically on the elevation of Black voices in short speculative fiction, FIYAHCON seeks to center the perspectives and experiences of BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color). The reasoning is that Black voices are not the least represented in the field, and we don’t want to exclude groups who are already systemically excluded from other spaces….

(5) THE THAWED LEFTOVER EQUATIONS. [Item by Cliff.] The premise for this movie sounds strangely familiar…. “Stowaway review – a devastating dilemma drives tense Netflix sci-fi” in the Guardian.

Ever since Sandra Bullock MacGyver’d her way from mid-orbit chaos back down to earth in Alfonso Cuarón’s show-stopping thriller Gravity, we’ve seen a rise in briskly efficient sci-fi competency porn. It’s a subgenre of films working off the thrill of watching high-stakes problem-solving, of professionals using their reality-rooted smarts to deal with fantastical situations. We’ve since seen Matt Damon use botany in The Martian, Amy Adams use linguistics in Arrival, Natalie Portman use cellular biology in Annihilation and Chris Pratt use Jennifer Lawrence in the unintentionally creepy Passengers. Just a few months after Netflix ventured into similar territory with George Clooney’s business first, emotion later drama The Midnight Sky, they’re taking us up into the stars with Stowaway, a late-stage acquisition title that should scratch that itch a little more successfully….

(6) TUBERS. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In the April 21 Financial Times, gaming columnist Tom Faber discusses the rise of virtual YouTubers, or “VTubers.”

CodeMiko is a video game character without a game.  The pink-haired avatar lives on Twitch, the live streaming platform owned by Amazon, where she chats with her half-million fans and interviews internet personalities in a signature style marked by absurdist humour and non sequiturs.  Her videos are immensely enjoyable, and they might just signal the next frontier of digital entertainment.

Controlling Miko is a human actress and programmer wearing a motion capture suit, known only as ‘The Technician.’  When The Technician moves or speaks, the Miko avatar mimics her precisely on screen.  This set up is a variation on the virtual YouTuber, or VTuber, a phenomenon where live streamers host videos as fictional characters, masked behind cutesy anime avatars..  As of last October, VTuber streams on YouTube were wracking up more than 1.5bn views a month.  It may seem curious that audiences choose animated figures over real humans, but the VTuber concept offers striking advantages to both streamers and viewers.

(7) THE PRESSURE IS ON. James Wallace Harris asks “Will Climate Change Crush Our Science Fictional Dreams?” at Classics of Science Fiction.

… Elon Musk might get people to Mars but we’ll discover two things. Living on Mars will not be the romantic fantasy that science fiction fans have always dreamed, and leaving Earth won’t save us. We’ll probably also return to the Moon, but we’ll discover trying to colonize it will be nearly impossible and we’ll learn the true value of the Earth and its biosystem that was so perfect for us.

As the years progress and the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere increases and the percentage of habitable land decreases I believe our desire for space travel will wane. We won’t have to wait for dramatic sea level rise for everyone to be convinced, heat waves will start to kill millions. Just read the first chapter of The Ministry for the Future to understand. I expect events like it will come true sometime this decade. We won’t need to see drowned cities to know the disciples of Ayn Rand have doomed us. Increasing weather catastrophes, declining food production, and mass migrations of refuges will make it plain enough we made the wrong decisions and believed the wrong people….

(8) CON WILL REQUIRE ATTENDEES BE VACCINATED. Blerdcon, to be held July 16-18 in Washington, D.C., announced on Facebook they have decided to make Blerdcon 2021 “a vaccine mandated event (even if you HAD covid and recovered).”

…Only those having received their completed vaccine regiment and showing their Covid-19 Vaccination Record Card at registration will be admitted into the convention. This extends to all staff, volunteers, vendors, contractors and sponsors.

The community simply has too much to lose and nothing to gain by taking on any unnecessary risks, even as we anticipate low infection/high vaccination rates for mid-July. So we are adding this to our other anti-covid measures: outdoor parties and events, spaced seating in all panel rooms, mask mandate for all indoor spaces, sanitation stations, nightly cleaning.

(9) CAPTAIN JACK IS IMMORTAL – YOU ARE NOT. Radio Times thinks they have found some Secret Information in the advertising for a comic book: “Doctor Who leaks | Will time windows and Captain Jack be in series 13?” If you don’t want to know a possible spoiler – don’t blink click!

… The synopsis was originally found on the official Penguin Random House website, and while it has since been removed it is still publicly available to view on other sites. When contacted by RadioTimes.com, the BBC declined to comment on “speculation.”

(10) POWELL OBIT. Costume designer Anthony Powell died April 18 at the age of 85 reports Deadline. Powell won multiple awards for non-genre productions — a Tony Award for the costumes of 1963’s School for Scandal, and Oscars in 1972 for Travels with My Aunt  1978 for Death on the Nile and in 1979 for Tess. He received the Costume Designers Guild’s Career Achievement Award in 2000. For genre work he earned Academy Award nominations for Pirates (1986), Hook (1991) and 102 Dalmatians (2000) (for the costumes of Glenn Close’s Cruella de Vil). His other credits included Sorcerer, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom and Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, 101 DalmatiansThe AvengersThe Ninth Gate and Miss Potter, the 2006 Beatrix Potter biopic.

(11) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

  • April 22, 2005 — On this day in 2005, Star Trek: Enterprise went where the original series and Deep Space Nine had gone before as they ventured into the Mirror Universe with “In A Mirror Darkly”  with the first part of a two-part adventure in the program’s fourth season. (Star Trek: Discovery would later retcon itself into this universe.)  It was written by Mike Sussman who got his start on Star Trek: Voyager and wrote nearly thirty Trek episodes across the two series.

(12) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]

  • Born April 22, 1887 – Kurt Wiese.  A score of covers, many interiors for Walter Brooks’ Freddy the Pigbooks.  Among much else, here is Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea; Caldecott Honor for You Can Write Chinese.  (Died 1974) [JH]
  • Born April 22, 1899 – Vladimir Nabokov.  Scientist, poet, translator, critic, teacher, fiction author, memoirist.  Said he didn’t like SF but wrote some anyway, e.g. “Lance”.  Superb treatment of “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde” and “Metamorphosis” in Lectures on Literature.  (Died 1977) [JH]
  • Born April 21, 1902 Philip Latham. Name used by Robert Shirley Richardson on his genre work. His novels were largely first published in Astounding starting in the Forties, with the exception of his children’s SF novels that were published in Space Science Fiction Magazine. He also wrote a few scripts for Captain Video, the predecessor of Captain Video and his Video Rangers. His Comback novel starts this way: ‘ When Parkhurst heard the announcement that climaxed the science fiction convention, he found that he’d been right, years ago when he had faith in science-fictionists’ dreams. But, in another way, he’d been wrong . . .’ It’s available at the usual digital suspects for a buck. (Died 1981.) (CE) 
  • Born April 22, 1928 – Robert Schulz.   Two dozen covers.  Here is The Sword of Rhiannon.  Here is The Caves of Steel.  Here is Space Tug.  Here is Beyond Time and Space.  (Died 1978) [JH] 
  • Born April 21, 1937 Jack Nicholson, 84. I think my favorite role for him in a genre film was as Daryl Van Horne in The Witches of Eastwick. Other genre roles include Jack Torrance in The Shining, Wilbur Force in The Little Shop of Horrors, Rexford Bedlo in The Raven, Andre Duvalier in The Terror, (previous three films are all Roger Corman productions), Will Randall in Wolf, President James Dale / Art Land in Mars Attacks! and Jack Napier aka The Joker in Tim  Burton’s The Batman. (CE) 
  • Born April 21, 1977 Kate Baker, 44. Editor along with with Neil Clarke and Sean Wallace of the last two print issues of Clarkesworld .  She won the Hugo Award for Best Semiprozine twice, and the World Fantasy Award (Special Award: Non Professional in 2014, all alongside the editorial staff of Clarkesworld . She’s a writer of three short genre stories, the latest of which, “No Matter Where; Of Comfort No One Speak”, you can hear it here. Warning it has as subject matters abuse and suicide. (CE)
  • Born April 21, 1984 Michelle Ryan, 37. She had the odd honor of being a Companion to the Tenth Doctor as Lady Christina de Souza for just one story, “Planet of the Dead”.  She had a somewhat longer genre run as the rebooted Bionic Woman that lasted eight episodes, and early in her career, she appeared as the sorceress Nimueh in BBC’s Merlin. Finally I’ll note she played Helena from A Midsummer Night’s Dream in BBC’s Learning project, Off By Heart Shakespeare. (CE) 
  • Born April 22, 1943 – Louise Glück, age 78.  Her poem “Circe’s Power” is anthologized here.  In The Wild Iris flowers talk with a gardener and an “unreachable father”.  Pulitzer Prize, William Carlos Williams Award, Bollingen Prize, U.S. Poet Laureate 2003-2004, Nat’l Humanities Medal, Nobel Prize.  Professor at Yale.  [JH]
  • Born April 21, 1944 Damien Broderick, 77. Australian writer of over seventy genre novels. It is said that The Judas Mandala novel contains the first appearance of the term “virtual reality” in SF. He’s won five Ditmar Awards, a remarkable achievement. I know I’ve read several novels by him including Godplayers and K-Machines which are quite good. (CE) 
  • Born April 22, 1966 – Marie Javins, age 55.  Editor-in-chief at DC Comics.  Has done Marvel too, e.g. prose adaptation of graphic novel Iron Man: In extremis; with James Gunn, The Art of “Guardians of the Galaxy”.  Colorist.  Travel writer.  Website.  [JH]
  • Born April 22, 1989 – Catherine Banner, age 32.  Three novels for us, the first when she was 19; another outside our field well received.  Lives in Turin.  “I underwent a shift, as all writers who continue writing beyond adolescence probably do, from thinking ‘What story shall I write?’ to asking, instead, the more pertinent question, the one which can sustain a lifetime of work: ‘How can I do justice to this story I feel I must tell?’”  [JH]

(13) COMICS SECTION.

  • Bizarro reveals the surprise ending to a crime story.

(14) THE HOSTS WITH THE MOST. “’Jeopardy!’: Robin Roberts, LeVar Burton & George Stephanopoulos To Guest Host” says Deadline. A different source reports LeVar Burton’s episodes will air July 26-30.

Jeopardy! has unveiled the final group of season 37 guest hosts, with Robin RobertsLeVar Burton and George Stephanopoulous among the TV personalities set to lead the  popular trivia game.

Executive producer Mike Richards revealed that David Faber, who is a former Celebrity Jeopardy! champion,  and Joe Buck will also step up to the lectern to wrap up the game show’s 37th season. Previous season 37 guest hosts, who have stepped in for the late longtime host Alex Trebek, include Anderson Cooper, Dr. Mehmet Oz, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Savannah Guthrie, Bill Whitaker, Mayim Bialik, Katie Couric and Aaron Rodgers.

(15) RITE GUD. Raquel S. Benedict has released more Rite Gud podcast episodes. (Previously identified in this space by her initials, she is now going by her full name.)  

What makes a writer? Is it coffee and cats? Is it a good author photo? Is it having a screenname like @JaneDoeWrites? Is it in your soul, in your bones, in your DNA? Is it collecting photos of books and sharing writing memes and penning endless posts about writing (specifically, about how much you hate it)?
In this episode, Carmilla Mary Morrell joins us to talk about the dark secret of being a writer: you have to fucking write. We also discuss the problem of defining people by rigid identities and the Doctrine of Dog Cum.

If you’ve spent any time talking about geek culture, you’ve probably seen one word come up over and over again: gatekeeper. To be a gatekeeper is bad. To be a gatekeeper is exclusionary and harmful and discriminatory.

The internet was supposed to get rid of gatekeepers and usher in a new, democratic era of content, an era free of inequality or bias or those evil old boogeymen called gatekeepers. But is it really? Are we really getting rid of gatekeepers, or are we just replacing the old gatekeepers with new ones?

In this episode, Colin Broadmoor joins us to talk about fandom, The Monk, and why fiction should hurt.

If you’re into science fiction and fantasy, you might have heard of something called hopepunk. Hopepunk, according to its supporters, is a creative movement that believes that producing and consuming optimistic fiction will make the world a better place. But does hopepunk really offer meaningful hope and revolution, or is it just a way to numb yourself and hide from the world?

In this episode, Sid Oozeley gets on the mic to talk about how all fiction is escapist: the only question is, what are you escaping from?

(16) PINBALL WIZARDRY. SYFY Wire tells what players what to expect when “Star Wars Pinball, Resident Evil go VR in Oculus virtual reality gaming showcase”.

With Baby Yoda and Din Djarin as ringside spectators, you might think there’d be galactic levels of pressure not to foul up a task — even if it’s something as casual as a game of Star Wars Pinball. But in Oculus’ big quest (pun intended) to bring the galaxy far, far away and other big-name game franchises to its family of VR platforms, it all actually ends up feeling pretty fun….

For its VR upgrade, Star Wars Pinball isn’t just replaying the classics, it’s also roping in newcomers to Lucasfilm’s ever-expanding galaxy. In addition to familiar tables based on the original films, watch for a pair of new themes created specifically for VR, as well as franchise newcomers straight out of The Mandalorian. While Oculus unveiled the new look, its Quest platforms aren’t the only place you’ll be able to hone your virtual skills; in addition to Oculus Quest 1 & 2, Star Wars Pinball is also headed to Steam VR and PlayStation VR on April 29….

(17) BUTLER RESEARCHER. In “How Octavia Butler Created Her SciFi Worlds” at Jezebel. Joyzel Acevedo interviews Lynell George, author of A Handful of Earth, A Handful of Sky: The World of Octavia E. Butler.

Originally, it was Lynell George’s mother who was the Octavia Butler fan. A Los Angeles-based English teacher for 30 years, George’s mother would hand Butler’s books to students who didn’t like reading; “‘What are you interested in? Who are you? Oh, here, this is for you’,” she recalls. Once, she brought George along to a Butler reading in Pasadena, California, and George describes the awe she felt seeing Butler in person for the first time: “There was something very powerful about this tall, Black woman walking to the bookstore and sitting inches away from me—it was a small store—to talk about her work, to talk about writing.”…

(18) ZOOM WITH OKUNGBOWA. Powell’s Books presents Suyi Davies Okungbowa in conversation with S. A. Chakraborty on May 18, at 5:00 PM Pacific. Register for the Zoom webinar here.

From Suyi Davies Okungbowa, one of the most exciting new storytellers in epic fantasy, comes Son of the Storm (Orbit), a sweeping tale of violent conquest and forgotten magic set in a world inspired by the precolonial empires of West Africa. In the ancient city of Bassa, Danso is a clever scholar on the cusp of achieving greatness — only he doesn’t want it. Instead, he prefers to chase forbidden stories about what lies outside the city walls. The Bassai elite claim there is nothing of interest. The city’s immigrants are sworn to secrecy. But when Danso stumbles across a warrior wielding magic that shouldn’t exist, he’s put on a collision course with Bassa’s darkest secrets. Drawn into the city’s hidden history, he sets out on a journey beyond its borders. And the chaos left in the wake of his discovery threatens to destroy the empire. Okungbowa will be joined in conversation by S. A. Chakraborty, author of The Daevabad Trilogy.

(19) CAN’T BEAT THAT. The Guardian’s Alison Flood celebrates a new edition of the author’s first book in “Terry Pratchett’s debut turns 50: ‘At 17 he showed promise of a brilliant mind’”. There’s a 2-minute audio clip at the link.

In November 1971, a debut novel from a young author was published, to a small but not insignificant splash. Set in a world of tiny people who live in a carpet, it was described by the book trade journal Smith’s Trade News as “one of the most original tots’ tomes to hit the bookshops for many a decade”, while Teachers’ News called it a story of “quite extraordinary quality”.

The unknown author was Terry Pratchett, and the book was The Carpet People. This week, publisher Penguin Random House Children’s is releasing a 50th-anniversary edition, with Doctor Who and Good Omens star David Tennant reading the new audiobook.

“Terry would have loved knowing that David was going to do it,” said Rob Wilkins, Pratchett’s former assistant and friend who now manages the Pratchett estate. “David was a Doctor Who that really mattered in the Pratchett household, so he would have been so thrilled.”…

(20) VENISON WITH A VENGEANCE. The Late Show with Stephen Colbert shows what happens when you mess with nature in “Bambi Returns: The Clone Wars”.

(21) VIDEO OF THE DAY. In “How WandaVision Should Have Ended” on YouTube, the How It Should Have Ended Team thinks WandaVision would be better with the addition of several DC superheroes, Mel Gibson, and Keanu Reeves! QUITE POSSIBLY SPOILERS.

[Thanks to Peer, John Hertz, Cat Eldridge, Martin Morse Wooster, N., Andrew Porter, Cliff, John King Tarpinian, Michael Toman, JJ, Raquel S. Benedict, IanP, and Mike Kennedy for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]

Pixel Scroll 4/7/21 Pixels Who Need Pixels Are The Luckiest Pixels In The Scroll

(1) AN APPEAL. [Item by rcade.] In a series of tweets Tuesday, Astounding Award winner Jeannette Ng asks for more nuanced takes on problematic elements of literary works and less pat conclusions about what they reveal about the author. Thread starts here.

One of the commenters references the literary critic F. R. Leavis.

Leavis was an influential British critic who took the position that a great work must be a demonstration of the author’s intense moral seriousness and that by reading it “the reader would acquire moral sensibility — a sense of what was true and good — which transcended social differences,” according to the Cambridge History of Literary Criticism.

(2) HE HAS THE ANSWER – DO THEY HAVE THE RIGHT QUESTION? “Fans campaign for LeVar Burton to host ‘Jeopardy!’” reports the New York Post.

… “Leaving this here in the event that the powers that be are listening,” Burton, 64, tweeted Monday alongside a petition started by a fan of the beloved “Star Trek” actor. The document boasted over 130,000 signatures as of Tuesday morning.

The petition comes amid a feverish push on Twitter for the wholesome television icon to host the gameshow.

(3) NEXT ON NETFLIX. Yahoo! assures fans Jupiter’s Legacy Trailer Packs Superpowered Family Drama”.

…We also get brief snippets about the origin of Sheldon (a.k.a. The Utopian) and his cohort’s powers; the trailer ominously teases the long-ago events “on the island” that turned a group of mere mortals into superhuman beings. (This group would then bear the name The Union). More will reveal as the series approaches, and we’re looking forward to unwrapping some of these mysteries once it hits Netflix on May 7.

(4) BUSTED. In “Cracking the Case of London’s Elusive, Acrobatic Rare-Book Thieves”, Marc Wortman tells Vanity Fair readers

Impossible,” said David Ward. The London Metropolitan Police constable looked up. Some 50 feet above him, he saw that someone had carved a gaping hole through a skylight. Standing in the Frontier Forwarding warehouse in Feltham, West London, he could hear the howl of jets from neighboring Heathrow Airport as they roared overhead.

At Ward’s feet lay three open trunks, heavy-duty steel cases. They were empty. A few books lay strewn about. Those trunks had previously been full of books. Not just any books. The missing ones, 240 in all, included early versions of some of the most significant printed works of European history.

Gone was Albert Einstein’s own 1621 copy of astronomer Johannes Kepler’s The Cosmic Mystery, in which he lays out his theory of planetary motion. Also missing was an important 1777 edition of Isaac Newton’s Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy, his book describing gravity and the laws of physics. Among other rarities stolen: a 1497 update of the first book written about women, Concerning Famous Women; a 1569 version of Dante’s Divine Comedy; and a sheath with 80 celebrated prints by Goya. The most valuable book in the haul was a 1566 Latin edition of On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres, by Copernicus, in which he posits his world-changing theory that Earth and the other planets revolve around the sun. That copy alone had a price tag of $293,000. All together, the missing books—stolen on the night of January 29, 2017, into early the next day—were valued at more than $3.4 million. Given their unique historical significance and the fact that many contained handwritten notes by past owners, most were irreplaceable.

Scotland Yard’s Ward was stunned. He couldn’t recall a burglary like this anywhere. The thieves, as if undertaking a special-ops raid, had climbed up the sheer face of the building. From there, they scaled its pitched metal roof on a cold, wet night, cut open a fiberglass skylight, and descended inside—without tripping alarms or getting picked up by cameras.…

(5) BOOKS FOR PRISONERS ASKED. [Item by rcade.] The shelves of the Appalachian Prison Book Project are running low on science fiction and fantasy, the charity revealed recently in a tweet:

The project sends free books to people imprisoned in Kentucky, Maryland, Ohio, Tennessee, Virginia and West Virginia.

They seek new and used paperbacks only and have more detailed donation guidelines on their website.

“We receive about 200 letters every week from people incarcerated in our region,” a project coordinator told File 770 in email. “It’s a wide range of requests. Generally, people choose a few genres they are interested in to ask about in their letter. We have sci-fi and fantasy as two separate categories on our genre list, and we don’t include subgenres, so people choose whatever genres they want to read.”

Asked if there are particular preferences within SFF, the coordinator replied, “We occasionally get requests for specific authors, but unless they have a specific title in mind, most people list themes and topics. For example, thay may want to read books about time travel or vampires or wizards or interstellar exploration. It’s our volunteers who search through our donated books to find the best fit for them.”

The charity’s Voices from the Inside page shares testimonials from grateful prisoners about the books they’ve received.

A prisoner in Whiteville, Tennessee, praised a 2002 vampire novel by Simon Clark: “Thank you so much for my copy of Vampyrrhic! I loved it! As I have said before not many people want to fool with us old convicts.”

Donations of books should fill no more than two medium-sized boxes and be sent using the U.S. Postal Service to this address:

Appalachian Prison Book Project
PO Box 601
Morgantown, WV 26507

(6) CALLING 1984. Not that 1984. I mean the year that gave us Ghostbusters and the line “I tried to think of the most harmless thing. Something I loved from my childhood. Something that could never ever possibly destroy us. Mr. Stay Puft!” “Ghostbusters: Afterlife unleashes a mini Stay Puft army in first clip”SYFY Wire sets the scene.

The iconic Stay Puft Marshmallow Man is coming back in Ghostbusters: Afterlife, but he’s a lot smaller and more numerous than you remember. In the first official clip from director Jason Reitman’s long-delayed film, seismologist Mr. Grooberson (Ant-Man‘s Paul Rudd) comes across a army of mini Stay Puft men while shopping for ice cream.

They’re wreaking absolute havoc in the store, riding around on Roombas and roasting each other on BBQs (their chaotic antics bringing to mind Joe Dante’s Gremlins and composer Rob Simonsen subtly pays homage to Elmer Bernstein’s eerie score from 1984). Don’t be fooled by their cuteness, though — Grooberson attempts to poke one of the Stay Puft men in the stomach — à la the Pillsbury Doughboy — with painful results.

(7) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

  • April 7, 1933 — On this day in 1933, King Kong premiered. It was directed and produced by Merian C. Cooper and Ernest B. Schoedsack. The screenplay was written by James Ashmore Creelman and Ruth Rose from an idea by Merian C. Cooper and Edgar Wallace. It stars Fay Wray, Bruce Cabot and Robert Armstrong. Critics mostly loved it, the box office was quite amazing and the audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes currently give it an astonishing ninety eighty percent approval rating. It has been ranked by Rotten Tomatoes as the fourth greatest horror film of all time.  You can watch it here as it’s very much in the public domain. 

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]

  • Born April 7, 1882 – Ogawa Mimei.  (Personal name last, Japanese style.)  Called the founder of Japanese fairy tales.  The 2018 collection under that name has “The Mermaid and the Red Candles”, five more.  See another story here – I mean that, do see it.  (Died 1961) [JH]
  • Born April 7, 1915 Stanley Adams. He’s best known for playing Cyrano Jones in “The Trouble with Tribbles” Trek episode. He reprised his role in the Star Trek: The Animated Series episode “More Tribbles, More Troubles” and archival footage of him was later featured in the Deep Space Nine “Trials and Tribble-ations” episode. He also appeared in two episodes of the Batman series (“Catwoman Goes to College” and “Batman Displays his Knowledge”) as Captain Courageous. (Died 1977.) (CE)
  • Born April 7, 1915 Henry Kuttner. While he was working for the d’Orsay agency, he found Leigh Brackett’s early manuscripts in the slush pile; it was under his guidance that she sold her first story to Campbell at Astounding Stories.  His own work was done in close collaboration with C. L. Moore, his wife, and much of what they would publish was under pseudonyms.  During the Forties, he also contributed numerous scripts to the Green Lantern series. He’s won two Retro Hugos, the first at Worldcon 76 for “The Twonky” short story, the second at Dublin 2019 for “Mimsy Were the Borogoves”. (Died 1958.) (CE) 
  • Born April 7, 1928 James White. Certainly the Sector General series which ran to twelve books and ran over thirty years of publication was his best known work. I’ve no idea how many I read but I’m certain that it was quite a few. I’m not sure what else by him I’ve read but I’m equally sure there was other novels down the years. It appears that only a handful of the novels are available from the usual suspects. (Died 1999.) (CE) 
  • Born April 7, 1930 – Ronald Mackelworth.  Five novels “usually involving complex but rarely jumbled plotting” (John Clute), a score of shorter stories.  Here is a Barbara Walton cover for Firemantle.  (Died 2000) [JH]
  • Born April 7, 1935 – Marty Cantor, age 86.  Long-time fanziner; self-knowledge entitled his Hugo-finalist (as we must now say) fanzine Holier Than Thou; with another, No Award, I could tell him “You are worthy of No Award, and No Award is worthy of you.”  While he & Robbie Bourget were married they were elected DUFF (Down Under Fan Fund) delegates together, publishing two reports, one each, bound head-to-tail like an Ace Double; they were Fan Guests of Honor at Alternacon.  MC later chaired Corflu 34 (fanziners’ con; corflu = mimeograph correction fluid, once indispensable), published Phil Castora’s memoir Who Knows What Ether Lurks in the Minds of Fen?  Arrived among us in his forties, an exception to yet another theory.  Earned LASFS’ Evans-Freehafer Award Los Angeles Science Fantasy Soc.; service).  [JH]
  • Born April 7, 1939 Francis Ford Coppola, 82. Director / Writer / Producer. THX 1138 was produced by him and directed by George Lucas in his feature film directorial debut in 1971. Saw it late at night after some serious drug ingestion with a red head into Morrison — strange experience that was. Other genre works of note include Bram Stoker’s Dracula, a episode of Faerie Tale Theatre entitled Rip Van Winkle, Twixt (a horror film that I’m betting almost no one has heard of), Captain EO which featured Michael JacksonMary Shelley’s FrankensteinJeepers Creepers and Jeepers Creepers 2. (CE)
  • Born April 7, 1945 – Susan Petrey.  Six novels, nine shorter stories.  Her vampires are non-supernatural.  Interviewed in Lightspeed.  Good writing and an early death prompted a Clarion scholarship in her name.  (Died 1980) [JH]
  • Born April 7, 1946 Stan Winston. He’s best known for his work in Aliens, the Terminator franchise, the first three Jurassic Park films, the first two Predator films, Batman Returns and Iron Man. (He also did the Inspector Gadget film which I still haven’t seem.) He was unusual in having expertise in makeup, puppets and practical effects, and was just starting to get in digital effects as well upon the time of his passing. I think we sum up his talent by noting that he won an Oscars for Best Visual Effects and Best Makeup for his work on Terminator 2: Judgment Day. (Died 2008.) (CE) 
  • Born April 7, 1951 Yvonne Gilbert, 70. Though best remembered for her controversial cover design of Frankie Goes To Hollywood’s 1983 single “Relax”, she did a number of great genre covers including Le Guin’s A Wizard of Earthsea for Bantam in 1991 and Beagle’s A Dance for Emilia for Roc in 2000. (CE) 
  • Born April 7, 1981 – Lili Wilkinson, Ph.D., age 40. A novel and two shorter stories for us; many others (I’m not counting e.g. Joan of Arc).  Won a stopwatch in a Readathon.  Established Inky Awards at the Centre for Youth Literature, State Library of Victoria.  [JH]
  • Born April 7, 1982 – Zoë Marriott, age 39.  Nine novels.  Sasakawa Prize.  Two cats, one named Hero after the Shakespearian character (hurrah! she’s so cool! – JH), and the other Echo after the nymph in Greek myth.  Finishes a list of favorite songs with Spem in alium (hurrah! hurrah!).  [JH]

(9) COMICS SECTION.

  • Shoe’s answer to a science question might qualify as science fantasy.

(10) SO THE ONE THING CAPTAIN AMERICA AND VOX DAY HAVE IN COMMON IS THEY BOTH DISLIKE THIS GUY? The Captain America comic portrays Red Skull as suspiciously close to Jordan Peterson…and Peterson decided to lean into it. Which is kind of hilarious. “Captain America supervillain the Red Skull has been behaving a lot like Jordan Peterson lately, thanks to Ta-Nehisi Coates” at Slate.

Jordan Peterson is a Canadian professor of psychology who was embraced by right-wingers in 2016 after refusing to honor his students’ requests to use their preferred pronouns, then leveraged his YouTube channel and fear of political correctness to build a career as a self-help guru to the alt-right. He also appears to be the basis for the current incarnation of Marvel’s Nazi supervillain the Red Skull, who has returned to the comic book universe courtesy of Between the World and Me writer Ta-Nehisi Coates. Coates is currently wrapping up a 2½-year run on Captain America, and in Captain America No. 28, which was released on March 31, the Red Skull has a YouTube channel that looked very familiar to Peterson, except for the red skull part…

If for some inexplicable reason you want a more serious look at the topic, there’s Camestros Felapton’s “A short Twitter diversion on Jordan Peterson” and The Mary Sue’s “Jordan Peterson Mad He Inspired Ta-Nehisi Coates’ Red Skull”.

(11) LATE NIGHT. In Stephen Colbert’s “Quarantinewhile…” segment a University of Illinois gymnast sticks his vault and then brandishes his COVID-19 vaccine certificate, immediately followed by a reference to our favorite AI researcher, Dr. Janelle Shane, who taught AI to generate pickup lines. (For the background, see Vice’s article “A Scientist Taught AI to Generate Pickup Lines. The Results are Chaotic”.

(12) CHINA’S ANSWER TO SPOT? [Item by Mike Kennedy.]  IFL Science introduces a “Video Showing ‘Robot Army’ Released By Chinese Robotics Company”. The story includes two tweets with embedded videos. The one with a large number of robot dogs where they just stand up then lay back down appears to me to be real. The other one, where they do tricks together, is pretty clearly CGI layered over the real world.

Unitree Robotics appears to be China’s answer to Boston Dynamics, designing and manufacturing mobile, autonomous four-legged robots that are able to handle obstacles and right themselves after a stumble.  

Their products are all variants of a similar dog-like design, including BenBen, Aliengo, Laikago, and A1….

(13) A TIDY PROFIT. AP’s story entitled “Man, a steal! Rare Superman comic sells for record $3.25 million” says that Comicconnect.com sold a copy of Action Comics #1 yesterday for $3.25 million, beating the old record of $3.2 million.

One of the few copies of the comic book that introduced Superman to the world has sold for a super-size, record-setting price.

The issue of Action Comics #1 went for $3.25 million in a private sale, ComicConnect.com, an online auction and consignment company, announced Tuesday.

It narrowly bested the previous record for the comic, set in the auction of another copy in 2014 for slightly over $3.2 million.

The comic, published in 1938, “really is the beginning of the superhero genre,” said ComicConnect.com COO Vincent Zurzolo, who brokered the sale.

It told readers about the origins of Superman, how he came to Earth from another planet and went by Clark Kent.

The seller of this particular issue bought the comic in 2018 for slightly more than $2 million.

(14) DISCOVERY’S NEW SEASON. “Star Trek: Discovery Season 4 Trailer Faces an Unknown Threat” promises Coming Soon.

Paramount+ has released the first trailer for the upcoming fourth season of Star Trek: Discovery, which is set to premiere later this year. The video features Sonequa Martin-Green’s Captain Burnham as she leads the crew against an unknown threat that could possibly destroy all of them without any warning.

(15) BURGER COSPLAY. [Item by Daniel Dern. Except for tasteless quote selected by OGH.] Given Kevin Smith’s sf activities, e.g., writing comics like the (wonderful) Green Arrow Quiver series (plot arc?), some involvement with the semi-recent WB “Crisis” episodes (or at least one of the aftershows) and other stuff i can’t remember – let’s mention “Kevin Smith talks fast food ahead of his Boston pop-up restaurant ribbon-cutting”. (I saw this info as an article in today’s Boston Globe, but I know the MSN link isn’t paywalled..)

Boston’s House of Blues will transform into a pop-up Mooby’s, the fictional burger chain that appears in various Kevin Smith movies, April 8-16.

Fans will remember the mascot, Mooby the golden calf, that enrages Matt Damon and Ben Affleck’s characters in “Dogma.” Chris Rock’s character eats at a Mooby’s in the same film. Mooby’s also appears in “Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back” and “Clerks II.”…

Q. So why Boston?

A. House of Blues reached out, and said: We’d do that. We never pressure anybody. We just wait for folks to reach out. The good thing about Mooby’s is it’s fake, so [no matter what building you dress up] people can’t say: ‘Well this don’t look like Mooby’s!’ Well what does? How many Mooby’s you been to exactly? Give us a day, and Derek will make it a Mooby’s.

Q. What’s your favorite menu item?

A. There’s a chicken sandwich in ‘Jay and Silent Bob Reboot’ called ‘Cock Smoker.’ We have that on our menu. It’s awesome to watch people try to order it in person. Generally everything is done on the reservation system in advance, but in LA, toward the end of the run, we opened it up [to walk-ins] and had four older ladies, each of giggling harder than the next when they ordered ‘Cock Smokers.’ I won’t get rich off restaurants, but that is wealth that you can’t measure.

(16) VIDEO OF THE DAY. In “Godzilla Vs. Kong” on Honest Trailers, the Screen Junkies say the film has such poor continuity with its two predecessors that it has “characters who forgot to mention they were related,” “characters they forgot to mention entirely” and a major plot point that didn’t appear in the two earlier films.  And watch out for Brian Tyree Henry as an annoying exposition-spouting podcaster! BEWARE SPOILERS.

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