Pixel Scroll 12/14/21 I Scrolled Pixel Rae’s Lawn

(1) A DRIVING FORCE IN LITERATURE. Liza Burns’ artwork for the new Oregon license plate is composed of 127 symbols of cultural importance to the state. The book icon represents Ursula K. Le Guin. An interactive key is here.

From a distance, the “Celebrate Oregon!” Cultural Trust license plate is a vibrant tapestry of Oregon geography. Look closer, and symbols – 127 in all – tell the story of the history, heritage and cultural practices that make our state unique. The marriage of the two in this piece of art speaks to the inextricable link between the physical and cultural diversity of Oregon.

(2) IS IT A RECORD? Early reports of perhaps 3,000 Worldcon site selection ballots being cast pre-con made some fans curious if the Chengdu/Winnipeg race will set a record. In the table of historic Worldcon statistics “Hugo Voting: Let’s Look at the Record Yet Again” there is one column tracking the number of site selection votes, which Jo Van Ekeren says is fully updated.

(3) RUNNING HARD. The Chengdu in 2023 Worldcon bid’s Facebook page reported on a marathon livestream campaign in progress to drum up support as the voting deadline approaches.

After five days of a marathon campaign of online live streaming to promote DisCon III and call for support of Chengdu’23 Bid, we have seen a new wave of support, and some real LAST MINUTE vote from many of our fans, overcoming all sorts of obstacles, including technical, procedural, language, and payment difficulties. Now we can say that in some way we have already won, not necessarily in the Worldcon bid, but in promoting something we all love and enjoy. We have made many new friends. And we have a better understanding of the world.

Here are the posters for the past five days, and screen captures of tonight’s live streaming event hosted by SFW magazine.

(4) SEATTLE IN 2025. The Seattle 2025 Worldcon bid team has published their first newsletter that we’ve sent out. The full newsletter is here. The bid website is here.

Bid Launches Into New Orbit

After almost two years of coasting through online convention bid tables and Zoom parties, the Seattle in 2025 Worldcon bid is accelerating to cruising velocity with the updating of our website, an appearance at DisCon III, creation of support tiers, release of new information, and plenty of metaphors to herald our progress towards hosting the first Worldcon in Seattle in 64 years. The original 1961 Seacon took place before the Seattle World’s Fair and the opening of the Monorail and Space Needle. We believe 64 years is too long an absence from the Emerald City. Does Worldcon still need us? Will you feed us your site selection votes? Science fiction fans—if we build it, will you come?

The bid is co-chaired by Kathy Bond and SunnyJim Morgan.

(5) UNDERTHING PRESS WILL PUBLISH DIGGER OMNIBUS. Grim Oak Press is partnering with bestselling author of The Kingkiller Chronicle Patrick Rothfuss to create the new imprint, Underthing Press.

…The first project Grim Oak Press and Underthing Press will produce is Digger: The Complete Collection by Ursula Vernon. The deal includes new softcover and hardcover editions of the Hugo Award-winning graphic novel as well as signed and limited copies. Rothfuss has written a new foreword for the book and will sign the limited and lettered editions along with Vernon.

“It all started when I gave away my copy of the Digger Omnibus to a friend, then discovered I couldn’t buy another one. It breaks my heart when I learn that a book I love has gone out of print. I’ve always daydreamed about starting my own imprint, and I couldn’t think of a better place to start than by making a brilliant, Hugo Award-winning comic available to the public again.

“We’re in talks with several folks to bring their books back into print, or in other cases, to make a beautiful specialty edition of a book I particularly love. And I’ll have my own projects too, of course. I’m finally ready to publish a project I’ve been working on for years with friend and Illustrator Nate Taylor. It’s an illustrated version of The Boy that Loved the Moon.”

The crowdfunding campaign for Digger: The Complete Collection will launch February 2, 2022.

(6) R.E.S.P.E.C.T. This SFWA Blog post titled with the author’s name, “Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki”, urges people to spell and say African names correctly.

…One is forced to reconsider the clichéd question: What is in a name? Does the value of a name lie in its familiarity or the simplicity of its pronunciation? So that, alas, Nnamdi and other African names fail to elicit value from the Westerners who mock them for this reason? Does a name, for its being unfamiliar or difficult to pronounce, remove from the skills and abilities of the bearer? And if the mockers believe that names represent the value of a person, do they then think that denying a person their name, or misspelling, mispronouncing, or mangling their names devalues them even further? Is the purpose of this deliberate distortion of identity to devalue the bearer of the name?

Names possess value and power to their bearers. Like misgendering a person, failing to honor what someone chooses to be called disrespects that person’s definition of their own self….

(7) PODCAST PEOPLE. Podside Picnic episode 147 features Karlo Yeager Rodriguez, Chris and Kurt as they discuss the holiday horror-comedy, Krampus (2015). Make your lists (and check them twice) to see who deserves to be beaten with birch branches and who should get carried off by Saint Nick’s shadow… “Krampus, Krampus Time Is Here”.

(8) THAT’S HER, TOO. Everything Everywhere All At Once embroils Michelle Yeoh’s character in a multiverse crisis that only she can solve!

(9) MEMORY LANE.

1984 [Item by Cat Eldridge.] Thirty-seven years ago, Starman premiered. It was directed by John Carpenter. The original screenplay was written by Bruce A. Evans and Raynold Gideon, with Dean Riesner making uncredited re-writes. This Starman is not related to the Forties created DC character who is definitely human.  

It starred Jeff Bridges in the lead role which got him an Academy Award nomination. Other principal cast were Karen Allen, Charles Martin Smith and Richard Jaeckel. 

It inspired a short-lived television series of the same name several years later that takes place fifteen years after the film’s story and features the return of the alien as a clone of deceased photojournalist Paul Forrester to meet and guide his now-teenage son Scott Hayden Jr.  It lasted lasted for twenty-two episodes.

Critical reception for the film was, with the exception of a few of pre-reform Grinches, overwhelmingly positive. Roger Ebert said it was “one of 1984’s more touching love stories”. One of those Grinches said that Carpenter turned it into an “irritatingly soft-headed love story. What a waste of a promising idea.” However, the box office did not respond as enthusiastically as it made just twenty-nine million against costs of twenty-four million in production costs. Now audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes currently give it a decent but not great sixty-nine percent rating. 

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born December 14, 1916 Shirley Jackson. She first gained public attention for her short story “The Lottery, or, The Adventures of James Harris” but it was her The Haunting of Hill House novel which has been made her legendary as a horror novelist as it’s truly a chilling ghost story which recently was made into a series.  I see that’s she wrote quite a bit of genre short fiction — who anyone here read it?  And there’s an interesting tale of Hill House, the press that took its name from her novel that came to a bad ending. (Died 1965.)
  • Born December 14, 1920 Rosemary Sutcliff. English novelist whose best known for children’s books, particularly her historical fiction which involved retellings of myths and legends, Arthurian and otherwise. Digging into my memory, I remember reading The Chronicles of Robin Hood which was her first published novel and rather good; The Eagle of the Ninth is set in Roman Britain and was an equally fine read. (Died 1992.)
  • Born December 14, 1949 David Cherry, 72. Illustrator working mostly in the genre. Amazingly, he has been nominated eleven times for Hugo Awards though no wins to date, and eighteen times for Chesley Awards with an astonishing eight wins! He is a past president of the Association of Science Fiction and Fantasy Artists. Oh, and he’s is the brother of the science fiction writer C. J. Cherryh (“Cherry” is the original spelling of the last name of the family) so you won’t be surprised that he’s painted cover art for some of her books as well as for Robert Asprin, Andre Norton, Diane Duane, Lynn Abbey and Piers Anthony to name but a few of his works.
  • Born December 14, 1954 James Horan, 67. One of those actors that had roles across the Trek verse, having appeared on Next GenerationVoyager, Deep Space Nine and Enterprise. He also voiced a character on Roughnecks: Starship Troopers Chronicles, andshowed up on Highlander, Charmed and Lost.
  • Born December 14, 1959 Debbie Lee Carrington. Actress who was an ardent advocate for performers with disabilities. She was the performer inside the Howard the Duck costume, a Martian rebel named Thumbelina in Total Recall, an Ewok in Return of the Jedi (and in the TV movies that followed), a Drone in Invaders from Mars, Little Bigfoot in Harry and the Hendersons, an Emperor Penguin in Batman Returns and a Chucky double in Curse of Chucky.
  • Born December 14, 1960 Don Franklin, 61. He’s  best known for his roles in seaQuest DSV as Commander Jonathan Ford, Seven Days as Captain Craig Donovan, and as one of The Young Riders  as Noah Dixon). No, the last isn’t remotely genre but it was a great role. 
  • Born December 14, 1964 Rebecca Gibney, 57. She was in Stephen King’s Salem’s Lot,, and also in King’s Nightmares and Dreamscapes mini-series. She also had one-offs in Time TraxFarscape and The Lost World, all of which were produced either in Australia or New Zealand, convenient as she’s  New Zealand born and resident.
  • Born December 14, 1966 Sarah Zettel, 55. Her first novel, Reclamation, was nominated for the Philip K. Dick Award in 1996, and tied for the Locus Award for the Best First Novel. Writing under the alias C. L. Anderson, her novel Bitter Angels won the 2010 Philip K. Dick award for best paperback original novel. If you’ve not read her, I’d recommend her Playing God novel which was nominated for an Otherwise Award as a great place to start reading her. 

(11) THE PLAY’S THE THING. Today also is the anniversary of the 1966 broadcast of a well-known Star Trek episode, which Galactic Journey commemorates in this post — “[December 14, 1966] (Star Trek: The Conscience of the King)”.

… …Do you remember Kevin Riley? He caught the alien virus in The Naked Time, locked everyone out of Engineering, and sang Irish songs over the intercom. He’s recently been promoted, but Kirk busts him back down to Engineering alone—presumably, to keep him safe, but nobody tells him that. Kirk doesn’t tell Spock why he’s demoting the Ensign, either.

Spock does put the pieces together and demands to know why Kirk is risking his life. (That’s rich, coming from the man who hijacked the Enterprise to haul it to the one planet with a death penalty for visiting.) Kirk tells Spock to leave his personal life alone. Spock very politely does not point out that 400+ crew members unknowingly traveling with a potential murderer is a bit outside the scope of Kirk’s “personal life.”…

(12) HOWDY, STRANGER! How fascinating to see for sale (at $6,500!) a copy of The Outsider And Others, the first collection of Lovecraft’s writings, published in 1939. Only 1,268 copies were printed, and among 1940s fans, The Outsider was a byword as the most valuable item in the sf collection of anyone who happened to own it. The title is mentioned several times in Rob Hansen’s compilation of Forties LASFS history, Bixelstrasse.

(13) TALKING HEADS. John Scalzi weighed in one of this year’s non-genre additions to the National Film Registry.

(14) MIGHT BE NEWS TO YOU. In this TelevisionAcademy.com interview, the late Leonard Nimoy discusses the Star Trek pilot.

(15) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone Pitch Meeting” on Screen Rant, Ryan George says that the first Harry Potter movie reveals that the wand store where Hogwarts students get wands operates onthe model of “let kids smash things until they buy” and that at the climax, “a mother’s love is super plot armor.”  But why do wizards celebrate Christmas?

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

Pixel Scroll 10/8/21 Foundation And Vampire

(1) TRYING TO CROSS THE MIGHTY AMAZON. Kindle Direct Publishing has been yanking Mark Lawrence’s chain: “My attempts to get sense from KDP”.

KDP is what authors use to self-publish books and short stories. A self-published author will use just KDP. A traditionally published author may use KDP to publish additional material. I used it for Road Brothers, the Book of the Ancestor story Bound, and my short story During the Dance….

…The ‘crime’ they’re accusing me of concerns – if you follow the link – ‘willfully misleading metadata’. More on that later. …

…Without acknowledging the stupidity of their request they unblocked my account. But since the only item they had complained about was still ‘in review’ and you can’t alter anything on a book in review, I had to email them again. I’m telling them that I think they’re complaining about me referencing books I didn’t write & I’m telling them that I did write those books…

(2) INKLINGS WATERING HOLE TO REOPEN. A historic pub frequented by authors including J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis will open its doors again reports the Oxford Mail: “Historic Oxford pub Lamb & Flag to reopen in time for Christmas”.

The pub in St Giles, popular with students and real ale drinkers, has been serving since 1566, and switched to its current site in 1613.

St John’s announced its closure in January, citing tough conditions created by the Covid-19 pandemic and its impact on the hospitality sector.

But following an outcry, the Inklings Group – named in honour of the pub’s former literary patrons JRR Tolkien and CS Lewis – has signed a long-term lease to relaunch the pub.

The modern Inklings is a group of fans of the pub from ‘town and gown’. It is described by St John’s as a ‘diverse and eclectic mix of Oxford people, past and present’ which includes scientists and entrepreneurs, writers and artists, as well as local businesses and suppliers.

Kate O’Brien, chairman of the Inklings Group, said: “Several hundred people, brought together by a love of Oxford and the Lamb & Flag pub, have established the Inklings Group to secure the future of this well-loved pub….

I knew of the Inklings’ association with Oxford’s Eagle and Child pub but this other place was news to me. I checked with Inklings scholar Diana Glyer who explained, “From time to time, the Eagle and Child ran out of beer, so the Inklings walked across the street to the Lamb & Flag. And then when the Bird & Baby remodeled in 1962, they permanently switched to the Lamb & Flag.”

(3) LEARNING THE GAME. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] Behind a paywall in the Financial Times, Tom Faber discusses “tutorials,” the part of a video game where players learn the rules of the game.

There is an adage in game design that players enjoy learning but not being taught. Some games get tutorials right by following this maxim.  The undisputed pinnacle is ‘World 1-1’ in 1985’s SUPER MARIO BROS., which shows how expert environmental design can teach wordlessly.  Players learn how Mario moves and jumps intuitively, while the designers employ ‘affordances,’ cues that draw on players’ existing knowledge.  So we run away from one guy because he has angry eyebrows and we put the key in the lock because that’s where keys go,  The reason Mario collects coins is because the developers needed to think of something that anyone would want to pick up off the ground — what else but money?”…

…Other titles dare to be creative.  In HORIZON ZERO DOWN, hero Aloy grows from child to adult as the player learns abilities.  FALLOUT 3 gamifies childhood by showing the player/character being born, taking their first steps and learning to shoot with a BB gun.  These are excellent tutorials because they leave the player with the knowledge they need, excited to get into the game proper and with a sense that the game has respected their time and intelligence. We should applaud these games that have mastered the art of teaching, but the majority of the industry still has much to learn.

(4) KEEP THEM DOGGIES ROLLING. Jon Del Arroz and Vox Day steal the hubcaps off the wheels of Comicsgate in “Debarkle Chapter 66: The Rise and Self Destruction of Comicsgate” at Camestros Felapton.

…Inevitably tying the culture war to crowdfunding comic books was a step that somebody was going to take.

Although it was not obvious in March 2017, the shine was coming off Vox Day’s Castalia House publishing project. When the Rabid Puppies campaigns finally ran out of steam, Day’s enthusiasm for publishing new science fiction novels would also wane sharply. Provoked by an article in The Federalist by Jon Del Arroz jumping on the trend of attacking diversity in comics, Day asked his followers if they’d be interested in crowd funding a line of comics from Castalia….

(5) THESE LOOK FAMILIAR. Literary Hub’s Emily Temple defends her choices for “The 25 Most Iconic Book Covers in History”.  Almost a third of them are genre.

First things first. What makes a book cover iconic? There are no hard and fast rules, of course—like anything else, you know it when you see it. But in order to compile this list, I looked for recognizability, ubiquity, and reproduction—that is, if there are a million Etsy stores selling t-shirts/buttons/posters/tote bags with the book cover, or if someone you know has ever dressed up as it for Halloween, or has a tattoo of it, it probably counts as iconic….

(6) WHAT YOU SEE WHEN YOU KEEP WATCHING THE SKIES. “11 Scary Space Facts That’ll Make You Appreciate the Earth We’re Destroying” – a slideshow at Lifehacker.

We need to get rid of outer space—it’s too dark and too terrifying, and everything out there wants to kill us. Yet some of our most popular billionaires seem convinced that rocketing humanity off into the stars is a more viable longterm survival strategy than simply trying a little less hard to ruin the one planet we’ve already got.

Perhaps they should review the following strange and horrifying space facts, which will definitely make you thankful you were born on good old Earth…..

First on the list:

Something we cannot see may be tilting the entire universe

There is something in the space between the constellations of Centaurus and Vela that is pulling groups of galaxies toward it. This mystery thing is too far away for us to see, but we can observe that galaxy clusters are moving toward the whatever-it-is at extraordinary speed. Scientists surmise that The Thing could be so big it’s essentially tilting the universe. Vibes: bad.

(7) MEMORY LANE.

  • 1974 – Forty-seven years ago on NBC (where else would it be?), Star Trek: The Animated Series first aired. The first spin-off from Star Trek, it had the entire voice cast of the original series save Walter Koenig (who did write one episode). Show writers David Gerrold and D. C. Fontana considered it to be a fourth season of the first series. Its second season won an Emmy for Outstanding Entertainment in a Children’s Series. It lasted but two seasons consisting of a total of twenty-two episodes. “The Slaver Weapon” episode was adapted from “The Soft Weapon” by Larry Niven who the episode. Audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes currently give it an outstanding rating of ninety-four percent. And yes, I remember the series fondly. 

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born October 8, 1920 Frank Herbert. Dune, of course, which won a Hugo at Tricon. (I’ve read it myriad times.) I’ll admit I only like the series through Dune Messiah. The BBC full cast audio version of Dune is quite amazing. I’m also fond of Under Pressure.  (Died 1986.)
  • Born October 8, 1928 John Bennett. A very long involvement in genre fiction starting with The Curse of the Werewolf in the early Sixties and ending forty years later with a role on the Minority Report series. Being a Brit, naturally he appeared on Doctor Who in the prime role of Li H’sen Chang as part of a Fourth Doctor story, “The Talons of Weng-Chiang”. He had roles in Blake’s 7, Watership DownTales of The Unexpected, The Plague DogsDark MythSherlock Holmes and the Leading Lady (as Dr. Sigmund Freud!), Merlin of The Crystal Cave and The Infinite Worlds of H.G. Wells. (Died 2005.)
  • Born October 8, 1949 Sigourney Weaver, 72. I’m picking her greatest genre role as being the dual roles of Gwen DeMarco and  lieutenant Tawny Madison in Galaxy Quest. Chicon 2000 did give the film Best Dramatic Presentation Award after all and it is a loving homage to all that is good in the genre. And yes, I know Conspiracy ‘87 gave Aliens a Best Dramatic Presentation Award as well but I’m really not a fan of that franchise. 
  • Born October 8, 1949 Richard Hescox, 72. Illustrator who between the years of 1976 and 1993 illustrated over 135 covers for genre books but now works mostly in the games industry and for private commissions. Also notable for producing advertising art for such movies as Escape from New YorkTime BanditsSwamp ThingThe Dark Crystal, The Neverending Story and Conan the Barbarian.  Some of his work is collected in The Deceiving Eye: The Art of Richard Hescox (2004) with text by Randy Dannenfelser. 
  • Born October 8, 1951 Terry Hayes, 70. Screenwriter of Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior which he co-wrote with George Miller and Brian Hannant, Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome with Miller, and From Hell (from the Alan Moore and Eddie Campbell novel) which he co-wrote with Rafael Yglesias. He’s also His the writer of an unused screenplay, Return of the Apes.
  • Born October 8, 1954 Stephen Furst. Stephen is dead, damn it all. The saddest part of doing these birthdays is discovering how many folks have died that I reasonably expected were still living. Babylon 5 has had far too many deaths among its cast with Mira Furlan being the latest. Furst died of complications from diabetes at a far too young age. You know him most likely as Centauri diplomatic attaché Vir Cotto on Babylon 5, a decent being way over his head in a job he was ill prepared for. He also directed three low-budget movies for the Sci Fi Channel: Dragon StormPath of Destruction, and Basilisk: The Serpent King; he additionally co-starred in the last two films. And he produced Atomic Shark which aired during Sharknado Week on Syfy. 
  • Born October 8, 1974 Lynne M. Thomas, 47. Librarian, podcaster and award-winning editor. She has won nine Hugo Awards for, among other things, one of many involved in SF Squeecast fan cast and editing Uncanny magazine with and husband Michael Damian Thomas. She and her husband are fanatical Whovians, so it’s no surprise that with Tara O’Shea, she edited the superb Chicks Dig Time Lords: A Celebration of Doctor Who by the Women Who Love It
  • Born October 8, 1993 Molly C. Quinn, 28. Fey / Intern Molly / Melony on the Welcome to Night Vale podcast and Pemily Stallwark on the sort of related Thrilling Adventure Hour podcast. She’s Jenny in the Authurian Avalon High series, and showed up in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 as Howard’s date.

(9) COMICS SECTION.

(10) CROWD-PLEASERS. Gothamist’s “The Best Cosplay From Comic Con 2021’s Subdued Opening Day” has 72 photos.

… Capacity restrictions made the usually jam-packed aisles and atria feel almost empty at times. Proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test for the under-12 set are required for entry, and masks are mandatory inside. But after a lost year, devoted cosplayers and their oglers were not going to let pandemic protocols spoil the party. 

“I love it!” said Michelle Ford, who came as Mira from Aquaman in an astonishing jellyfish dress that took two months to make. “I come to Comic Con every year, it’s literally the highlight of my year, and I like to hit it hard. Last year I took my 2019 costume and did a cosplay transformation video from home, but this is WAY better. I love the people and the interaction, it’s priceless.”…

(11) LOVECRAFT OR BUST. At Heritage Auctions there are two days left to bid on the Gahan Wilson-designed Lovecraft bust World Fantasy Award presented to Glen Lord in 1978. The top bid as of this writing is $410.

Gahan Wilson (Designer) H.P. Lovecraft Bust World Fantasy Award Sculpture for Publisher Glenn Lord Memorabilia Science Fiction (World Fantasy Convention, 1978). Cartoonist Wilson’s passion for horror fiction shaped his dark-humor cartoons for Playboy magazine, but it was in his homages to author H.P. Lovecraft that Wilson really let his freak-flag fly. This foot-tall bust of Lovecraft is a dimensional interpretation of a Wilson design, complete with Wilson’s google-eyed facial details. It was manufactured during 1975-2015 for presentation to recipients of the World Fantasy Award, recognizing a year’s best bizarre fiction. This near-pristine specimen went to publisher Lord (1931-2011) – best known for his career-spanning representation of the estate of Robert E. Howard, originator of the Conan the Cimmerian cycle of stories…. 

(12) CANUCKSPLOITATION NO MORE. [Item by Olav Rokne.] Well, this sounds promising; a well-reviewed Canuck sci-fi movie. Hope it lives up to the hype. “Review: Chilling sci-fi thriller Night Raiders sets fire to Canadian history” in the Globe and Mail.

“A thoughtful and invigorating sci-fi thriller quite unlike anything else this country has produced, Night Raiders takes a hard look at Canada’s past and sets an oil-slick fire to the idea of our safe, nice and boring nation.”

(13) PLAGUE YEAR IN COMICS. The New York Times’ Ed Park analyzes “How Comics Responded to Our Locked-Down, Anxious Covid Lives”.

…At the outset of last year, [Tasmanian-born cartoonist Simon Hanselmann] was riding high from recent successes, and (as he muses in the endnotes) “2020 was set to be another banger!” — international travel, nonstop partying, following up his great 2019 book “Bad Gateway.” But, as we know, the coronavirus had other plans, locking down artists and audiences at home. Hanselmann pivoted to create what he calls that “repulsive thing,” a free serial webcomic, and figured the world would return to normal in a month. Instead Covid kept getting worse, and from March 13 to Dec. 22, Hanselmann kept putting his stable of timeworn miscreants through the wringer. This book emerged from that agonizing year.

It begins with Megg, Mogg and Owl at home as the outbreak grows more worrisome. Megg’s chief concern is that her Animal Crossing preorder will now be delayed: a perfect snapshot of early-pandemic cluelessness. Soon, the house is packed with uninvited (if masked) houseguests: Werewolf Jones and his two feral kids (bearing toilet paper), the green-scaled trans woman Booger, and the chill, mustached Mike (a Harry Potter fan). To uptight Owl’s dismay, Jones starts performing sex acts on camera for money. (“I lost my warehouse gig,” Jones says. “I don’t have a foofy ‘work from home’ type job like you.”) But when Owl himself gets axed — unbeknown to him, his work laptop has been capturing scenes of domestic depravity — he demands a cut of Jones’s new gig and dictates content….

(14) STILL LOST. Netflix dropped a teaser trailer for the third and final season of the Lost in Space reboot.

(15) CALTECH READY FOR HALLOWEEN. Gizmodo introduces us to the “Creepy New Drone That Walks and Flies Is a Robopocalypse Nightmare Come True”. They’re working on it at Sheldon Cooper’s alma mater (if you follow the biographical breadcrumbs dropped at Big Bang Theory rather than those at Young Sheldon).

Introducing LEONARDO, or LEO for short. The name is an acronym for LEgs ONboARD drone, which nicely but insufficiently describes this robot. The Caltech engineers who built LEO didn’t just slap a pair of robotic legs onto an aerial drone—they had to design the bot with both walking and flying in mind and develop specialized software to integrates its various components.

LEO is still a prototype—a kind of proof-of-concept to see if a bipedal flying robot can perform tasks that would otherwise be difficult or impossible for ground robots or aerial drones to accomplish on their own. In the future, a full-fledged version could be tasked with difficult or dangerous jobs, such as inspecting and repairing damaged infrastructure, installing new equipment in hard-to-reach places, or attending to natural disasters and industrial accidents. Eventually, a LEO-like robot could even transport delicate equipment to the surface of a celestial body, such as Mars or Saturn’s moon Titan. More ominously, the agile bipedal flier could be used in defense or warfare….

[Thanks to JJ, John King Tarpinian, Andrew Porter, Michael Toman, Olav Rokne, Michael J. Walsh, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, James Davis Nicoll, Michael Damian Thomas, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, and Martin Morse Wooster for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]

Pixel Scroll 10/1/21 Ask Not For Whom The Pixel Scrolls

(1) WFC 2021 NEWS. World Fantasy Con’s new Progress Report is a free download available here.

WFC 2021 in Montreal – taking place November 4-7 — will be a hybrid convention, with both in-person and virtual elements. Virtual memberships are $75(US)/$100(CAD) and can be obtained through the con’s registration and memberships page.

Guests of honor Nisi Shawl and John Picacio will not be attending in person but will participate virtually.

WFC 2021 has added Julie Czerneda as a Special Guest.

A communication sent to members also reminds them to adhere to the Canadian (and airline) requirements in respect to COVID vaccination and testing.

Lastly, we want to point out that if you are coming to Montreal from outside Canada, please ensure that you meet all requirements for entry into Canada. This includes being fully vaccinated and having a negative PCR test within 72 hours of the scheduled departure time of your flight to Canada. You can find more information on the Government of Canada website. (Don’t forget the other requirements too!) Your airline may have its own requirements.

We are planning on having on-site testing for travellers leaving Canada. The final price (between C$70 and C$90) will depend on the number of tests to be performed. If you are interested in on-site testing during the convention, please send a short email to covid-test@wfc2021.org. Indicate how many people would be taking the test and which day you plan to leave the country. If the antigen test is insufficient, let us know the type required, and we will see if the testing company can handle the request. We will contact interested parties when we have finalized the arrangements.

(2) BEAR MEDICAL UPDATE. Elizabeth Bear made a public post about her cancer surgery at her Throwanotherbearinthecanoe newsletter.

… So that I don’t bury the lede too much, I got my pathology report back this afternoon, and I’ve got clear margins and no signs of metastasis into the lymph nodes. Which is an enormous crying-in-my-tea relief and as soon as I am not on opiates anymore I’m going to have myself a very very fancy glass of Scotch to celebrate….

(3) EATING THE FANTASTIC. Scott Edelman invites listeners to snack on shredded jellyfish with Renée Witterstaetter in episode 155 p his Eating the Fantastic podcast.

Renée Witterstaetter

Come along with me to D.C.’s AwesomeCon for dinner with writer, editor, and colorist Renée Witterstaetter at Chinatown’s New Big Wong restaurant.

Witterstaetter started her comics career as an assistant editor at DC Comics working on the Superman books. She later worked at Marvel Comics on Silver Surfer, Conan, Guardians of the Galaxy, and other titles. In addition, she spearheaded the reintroduction of She-Hulk at Marvel, where she actually appeared in the comic!

But she’s much more than only comics, as you’ll soon learn.

We discussed how Jerry Lewis launched her interest in comics, the way science fiction fandom led to her first job at DC Comics, the differences between the Marvel and DC offices of the ’70s and ’80s, what made Mark Gruenwald such an amazing editor, her emotional encounter with Steve Ditko, the inflationary info we learned about the writing of letter columns during the ’70s and ’80s, her work with John Byrne on She-Hulk, how Jurassic Park caused her to leave Marvel, the prank Jackie Chan asked her to help pull on Chris Tucker, and much more.

(4) PASSING OUT. Yahoo! consults an expert – former HWA President Lisa Morton — to find out “Why Do We Pass Out Candy on Halloween?”

…”Up until the 1930s, Halloween was largely the dominion of young male pranksters; candy—in the form of mainly candy corn, tiny sugar pellets, or taffy—might be offered at parties, but it wasn’t a particularly important part of the holiday,” says Lisa Morton, an author, screenwriter, and Halloween historian. “Then, in the ’30s, prank-playing moved out of rural areas and into cities, where it became very destructive and cost millions in damages. Rather than simply ban the holiday altogether (which some cities considered), civic groups came up with the idea of buying kids off with treats, costumes, and parties. It worked, and by 1936 we have the first mention of ‘trick-or-treat’ in a national magazine.”…

(5) CHESLEY NEWS. ASFA members (the only people who can vote) have been notified the 2021 Chesley Award Suggestions List (for 2020 Works) is live. The introduction explains:

This listing constitutes the suggestions of the Chesley Nominating Committee plus suggestions received from the community. This is NOT the final ballot; it is only an example of what the community considers worthy of nominating for the Chesley Awards. These suggestions are provided to show you the kind of information we want from you on your ballot, and to maybe help jog your memory of other worthy works of art you saw in 2020. You are encouraged to look beyond this listing when making your nominations; any works published for the first time in 2020 or if unpublished, displayed for the first time in 2020, are eligible. Check out your local bookstore, gaming shop, or knock yourself out visiting various artist’s websites … lots of wonderful art out there. You may make up to five nominations in each category.

(6) I’M YOUR MAN WINS. The winners of the 2021 German film award Lola have been announced. Normally, this is of zero genre interest, but this year’s big winner, taking Best Screenplay, Best Director, Best Actress and Best Film is the science fiction romantic comedy I’m Your Man“Lolas 2021 German Film Awards Winners List” from The Hollywood Reporter. 

I’m Your Man, a sci-fi rom-com from director Maria Schrader, featuring Downton Abbey star Dan Stevens as a German-speaking romance robot, has won the Lola in Gold for best film at the 2021 German Film Prize, Germany’s top film awards.

Schrader, fresh off her Emmy win (for best directing for a limited series in Netflix’s Unorthodox), picked up the best director Lola for I’m Your Man. Schrader and co-screenwriter Jan Schomburg took the best screenplay honor for their I’m Your Man script, an adaptation of a short story by German writer Emma Braslavsky. Maren Eggert, who plays the robot’s no-nonsense human love interest, won the best actress Lola for her performance, a role that has already earned her the best actress Silver Bear at the Berlin Film Festival, where I’m Your Man premiered earlier this year….

(7) MAIL CALL. [Item by Cora Buhlert.] Bobby Derie, who’s one of those unsung fan writers I wish more people would know, takes a look at the correspondence between C.L. Moore and Robert E. Howard: “Her Letters to Robert E. Howard: Catherine Lucille Moore” at Deep Cuts in a Lovecraftian Vein. 

… Catherine Lucille Moore burst into the pages of Weird Tales with “Shambleau” (Nov 1933). She was a secretary at the Fletcher Trust Company in her native Indianapolis, Indiana, and engaged to a bank teller named Herbert Ernest Lewis. During the Great Depression, jobs were scarce and her $25 a week was needed to support her family; married women were often expected to be homemakers, and this may be why Moore and her fiance had a long engagement—and it is why, when she began to sell her stories to the pulps for extra cash, she used her initials “C. L.” so that her employers would not discover she had an extra source of income….

Derie also examined the correspondence and relationship in general between H.P. Lovecraft and his wife Sonia H. Greene: “Her Letters To Lovecraft: Sonia H. Greene”.

(8) A SINGULAR SENSATION. The Guardian published an article by Stephen Fry about a non-genre writer popular with some fans: “Stephen Fry on the enduring appeal of Georgette Heyer”.

From the absolutely appalling cover art that has defaced her books since she was first published, you would think Georgette Heyer the most gooey, ghastly, cutesy, sentimental and trashy author who ever dared put pen to paper. The surprise in store for you, if you have not encountered her before, is that once you tear off, burn or ignore those disgusting covers you will discover her to be one of the wittiest, most insightful and rewarding prose writers imaginable. Her stories satisfy all the requirements of romantic fiction, but the language she uses, the dialogue, the ironic awareness, the satire and insight – these rise far above the genre….

(9) A CLEVER CANARD. Evelyn C. Leeper drew attention to this W. Somerset Maugham quote in the weekly issue of MT Void:

“After mature consideration I have come to the conclusion that the real reason for the universal applause that comforts the declining years of the author who exceeds the common span of man is that intelligent people after the age of thirty read nothing at all.  As they grow older the books they read in their youth are lit with its glamour and with every year that passes they ascribe greater merit to the author that wrote them.”

(10) RICHARD CURTIS Q&A. A famous literary figure shares a wealth of knowledge.

Watch & listen to author, playwright, literary agent and former publisher Richard Curtis talk about writing, publishing and many things that will interest writers and the general public. Richard gives tips, advice and a bit of a history of publishing and how it has changed over the years in his conversation with author Rick Bleiweiss.

(11) MEMORY LANE.

  • 1950 – Seventy-one years ago, the first issue of Galaxy Science Fiction dated October 1950 was published. It was founded by a French-Italian company, World Editions, who hired as editor H. L. Gold who was both an established SF author and editor since the Thirties having made his first sale to Astounding in 1934. There was fiction by Clifford Simak, Theodore Sturgeon, Katherine MacLean, Issac Asimov, Fredric Brown and Fritz Leiber, as well as lots of reviews, mainly by Groff Conklin, but one each by Fredric Brown and Isaac Asimov as well. Gold contributed several essays too. The 1952 run of the magazine would be get a Hugo for Best Professional Magazine at Philcon II. Gold would later be inducted into the First Fandom Hall of Fame. 

(12) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born October 1, 1930 Richard Harris. One of the Dumbledores in the Potter film franchise. He also played King Arthur in Camelot, Richard the Lion Hearted in Robin and Marian, Gulliver in Gulliver’s Travels, James Parker in Tarzan, the Ape Man and he voiced Opal in Kaena: The Prophecy. His acting in Tarzan, the Ape Man got him a nomination for the Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Actor. Anyone see that film? It earns a ten percent rating among audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes. (Died 2002.)
  • Born October 1, 1935 Dame Julie Andrews, DBE, 86. The original Mary Poppins! I could have stopped there but I won’t. (Hee.) She had a scene cut in which was a maid in The Return of the Pink Panther, and she’s uncredited as the singing voice of Ainsley Jarvis in The Pink Panther Strikes Again. Yet again she’s uncreated as in a Panther film, this time as chairwoman in Trail of the Pink Panther. She voices Queen Lillian in Sherk 2Shrek the Third and Shrek Forever After. And she’s the voice of Karathen in Aquaman
  • Born October 1, 1940 Richard Corben. Comic book artist best remembered for his work in Heavy Metal magazine. His work also appeared in CreepyEerie and Vampirella. All the stories and covers he did for Creepy and Eerie have been reprinted by Dark Horse Books in a single volume: Creepy Presents Richard Corben. Corben collaborated with Brian Azzarello on five issues of Azzarello’s run on Hellblazer, Hellblazer: Hard Time. (Died 2020.)
  • Born October 1, 1948 Mike Ashley, 73. Anthologist, and that is somewhat of an understatement, as the Mammoth Book series by itself ran to thirty volumes including such titles as The Mammoth Book of Awesome Comic Fantasy and The Mammoth Book of New Jules Verne Adventures. He also did The History of the Science Fiction Magazine which features commentary by him. He’s did a number of genre related studies including The History of the Science Fiction Magazine with Robert A. W. Lowndes and Out of This World: Science Fiction But Not As You Know It.
  • Born October 1, 1950 Natalia Nogulich, 71. She’s best remembered as being on The Next Generation and Deep Space Nine as Vice Admiral/Fleet Admiral Alynna Nechayev. Interestingly, though Serbian, they gave her a Russian surname. She was the voice for Mon Mothma for the radio adaptation of Return of the Jedi. She had one-offs on Dark SkiesPreySabrina, the Teenage Witch and Charmed. 
  • Born October 1, 1953 John Ridley, 68. Author of Those Who Walk in Darkness and What Fire Cannot Burn novels. Both excellent though high on the violence cringe scale. Extremely high. Writer on the Static Shock and Justice League series. Writer, The Authority: human on the inside graphic novel. And apparently he was the writer for Team Knight Rider, a female version of Knight Rider that lasted but one season in the Nineties. I’ve never even heard of it until now. In 2021, Ridley began writing a number of series for DC Comics Including a future Batman story.
  • Born October 1, 1973 Rachel Manija Brown, 48. Co-writer of the Change series with Sherwood Smith; Laura’s Wolf, first volume of the Werewolf Marines series. She wrote an essay entitled “The Golden Age of Fantasy Is Twelve: SF and the Young Adult Novel” which was published in Strange Horizons. She’s well stocked at the usual digital suspects.
  • Born October 1, 1989 Brie Larson, 32. Captain Marvel in the Marvel film universe including of course the most excellent Captain Marvel which was nominated for a Hugo at CoNZealand. She’s also been in Kong: Skull Island as Mason Weaver, and plays Kit in the Unicorn Store which she also directed and produced. Her first genre role was Rachael in the “Into the Fire” episode of the Touched by an Angel series; she also appeared as Krista Eisenburg in the “Slam” episode of Ghost Whisperer. I wrote up a review of her Funko Rock Candy figure at Green Man

(13) COMICS SECTION.

(14) SUIT SETTLED. Everybody’s now “proud” and “pleased”, but as one might expect terms of the settlement were not released. “Scarlett Johansson, Disney Lawsuit Settled Over ‘Black Widow’” says The Hollywood Reporter.

“I am happy to have resolved our differences with Disney,” stated Johansson. “I’m incredibly proud of the work we’ve done together over the years and have greatly enjoyed my creative relationship with the team. I look forward to continuing our collaboration in years to come.”

Disney Studios chairman Alan Bergman added: “I’m very pleased that we have been able to come to a mutual agreement with Scarlett Johansson regarding Black Widow. We appreciate her contributions to the Marvel Cinematic Universe and look forward to working together on a number of upcoming projects, including Disney’s Tower of Terror.”…

The New York Times adds:

… Ms. Johansson would have made tens of millions of dollars in box office bonuses if “Black Widow” had approached $1 billion in global ticket sales; “Captain Marvel” and “Black Panther” both exceeded that threshold in prepandemic release, so similar turnout for “Black Widow” was not out of the question.

The Wall Street Journal reported this month that Creative Artists had privately asked Disney to pay Ms. Johansson $80 million — on top of her base salary of $20 million — to compensate for lost bonuses. Disney did not respond with a counteroffer, prompting her to sue….

(15) JEOPARDY! While watching last night’s  Jeopardy!, Andrew Porter’s jaw dropped when a contestant came up with this response.

Final Jeopardy: Children’s Literature

Answer: A 2000 Library of Congress exhibit called this 1900 work “America’s greatest and best-loved homegrown fairytale.”

Wrong question: What is “Shrek”?

Right question: What is “The Wizard of Oz”?

(16) JUSTWATCH – SEPTEMBER TOP 10S. Here are the top sff movies and streaming shows of September 2021 according to JustWatch. (Click for larger images.)

(17) WEEKS LATER, THESE ESCAPEES ARE STILL WEARING STRIPES. I’m having trouble thinking of a way to connect this to science fiction, thereby justifying the presence in the Scroll of an item that amuses me. Any suggestions?  “A Month Later, Five Zebras Are Still on the Run in Maryland” from the New York Times.

…A month after they escaped from a farm in Maryland, five zebras have evaded capture and are continuing to ramble across the wilds of suburban Prince George’s County, eking out a living on territory far from the grasslands of East Africa.

… Daniel I. Rubenstein, a professor of zoology at Princeton University, said he was not surprised that the zebras had proved so elusive.

Unlike domesticated horses that will return to a barn after they’ve gotten loose, zebras are wild animals and “don’t like people generally,” he said. And they may not have any need to feed on the grain set out for them as bait, if they can find enough food to munch elsewhere.

If the zebras continue to elude capture, “they should be able to do just fine” in Prince George’s County, Dr. Rubinstein said.

The county has plenty of lawns, fields and pastures where the zebras can graze, as well as streams and other places for them to drink water, which they need to do once a day, he said.

And with the dearth of lions in the Greater Washington area, they have no natural predators, he said, adding, “coyotes they can deal with.”

While zebras “won’t like snow,” they may be able to survive colder weather in the fall and winter. Zebras, he said, live on the slopes of Mount Kenya, at 13,000 feet, where temperatures at night dip into the 30s.

“They should be able to thrive quite nicely,” Dr. Rubinstein said. “They will be able to sustain themselves naturally on that landscape.”…

(18) NOW AT BAT. Possibly too sciency but then many are interested in SARS-CoV-2 source…. “Laos Bats Host Closest Known Relatives Of Virus Behind Covid” in Nature.

Studies show southeast Asia is a hotspot for potentially dangerous viruses similar to SARS-CoV-2. Scientists have found three viruses in bats in Laos that are more similar to SARS-CoV-2 than any known viruses. Researchers say that parts of their genetic code bolster claims that the virus behind COVID-19 has a natural origin — but their discovery also raises fears that there are numerous coronaviruses with the potential to infect people.

(19) CHERNOBYL BACK IN NEWS. This is worrying: Radiation levels are rising around reactor 4 of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant, which suffered the catastrophic meltdown in 1986: “Chernobyl’s Blown Up Reactor 4 Just Woke Up” in History of Yesterday. The article explores several hypothetical explanations why this could happen.

… Scientists from Ukraine have placed many sensors around reactor 4 that constantly monitor the level of radioactivity. Recently those sensors have detected a constant increase in the level of radioactivity. It seems that this radioactivity is coming from an unreachable chamber from underneath reactor 4 that has been blocked since the night of the explosion on the 26th of April, 1986….

(20) TINGLE TALK. Dominic Noble decided to answer the question “Is Chuck Tingle A Good Writer?” and reviewed 25 of Tingle’s books.

…A question kept occurring to me over and over again that no one seemed to be addressing. Chuck Tingle is a pretty cool guy. Chuck Tingle is great at titles and covers. But are his books actually any good? Is chuck tingle a good writer? Now I feel the need to immediately qualify this. I am aware that it doesn’t matter. His books make people happy even if they’ve not read them which is quite an achievement. His inclusivity means a lot to people and his general behavior be it amusingly bizarre or the unashamedly progressive matters more in this crazy world we’re living in than if he can rock a good three-act structure… 

(21) YA COMMENTARY. YouTuber Sarah Z analyzes “The Rise and Fall of Teen Dystopias”.

[Thanks to, John King Tarpinian, Michael Toman, Mike Kennedy, Jennifer Hawthorne, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Cora Buhlert, Paul Di Filippo, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, Cat Eldridge, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Cliff, with an assist from OGH.]

Pixel Scroll 9/29/21 I Should Have Been A Pair Of Ragged Pixels, Scrolling Across The Floors Of Silent Files

(1) BROOKLYN BOOK FESTIVAL. The Brooklyn Book Festival, running from September 26-October 4, has several virtual panels of interest to sff readers. Register at the links.

From creating slice-of-life cyclops and mermaid stories to horror-infused dramas and Afrofuturist epics, worldbuilding—complete with specific rules, cultures, and logic—is no small feat. Join creators Tim Fielder (Infinitum), Kat Leyh (Thirsty Mermaids), John Jennings (After the Rain), and Aminder Dhaliwal (Cyclopedia Exotica) as they discuss the unique challenges and joys of speculative storytelling and how fantastical worlds can say more about our own. Moderated by writer and editor Danny Lore (Queen of Bad Dreams, FIYAH Magazine). 

A dystopian London, a child caught in the midst of a deadly epidemic, and a grieving taxi driver in a ghostly Washington, D.C. Join the authors of A River Called Time (Courttia Newland), Phase Six (Jim Shepard), and Creatures of Passage (Morowa Yejidé) for a conversation on what draws them to speculative fiction, from world-building to the mechanics that make a story tick. Moderated by Carolyn Kellogg.

A Life of Crime (virtual) – Brooklyn Book Festival – October 3, 9:00 p.m. Eastern

Join award-winning mystery authors Naomi Hirahara and Walter Mosley for a discussion about their prolific and versatile writing livest. Hirahara’s latest mystery, Clark and Division, revolves around a Japanese American family building a new life in 1940s Chicago after their release from mass incarceration during World War II. Mosley’s indefatigable detective, Easy Rawlins, returns in Blood Grove, solving a new mystery on the streets of Southern California in 1969. Moderated by Dwyer Murphy, editor in chief of CrimeReads.  

The in-person programming includes “The View from the End of the World”, October 3, 11:00 a.m. Eastern.

A cross-country road trip in an atomic-powered tunnel digger, when everything else has stopped working.. A scavenger hunt for extinct species set against the backdrop of environmental collapse.. Hollywood dreams literally going up in flames, amid nefarious corporate dealings.  Join Jonathan Lethem (The Arrest), Jeff VanderMeer (Hummingbird Salamander), and Alexandra Kleeman (Something New Under the Sun), as they discuss visions of our world and how we’ll manage to keep living in it. Moderated by Alice Sola Kim.

Jonathan Lethem and Jeff VanderMeer will be appearing virtually.

(2) FLAME ON. SF2 Concatenation’s Autumn 2021 issue weighed in on fan controversies from last spring in this incendiary Editorial Comment.  (The creators of this long-lived periodic sff news publication are The Science Fact & Science Fiction Concatenation Team.)

EDITORIAL COMMENT

The 2021 Worldcon has a new Chair who deserves best wishes from all in the SF Worldcon community.  We need to remember, she has taken over following the successive resignations of the convention’s former co-chairs one of which was due to the continued abuse conrunners and others are receiving from a minority of self-righteous, perfervid, strident Worldcon fans.
          Of course, it is not just convention runners, this year one major author who has given much to the Worldcon community – in both time, effort and cash over many years – has received disparaging attention due to what is arguably a non-malicious misjudgement unfortunately made at last year’s Worldcon. The maltreatment this well-known author has received includes a nasty little article whose title uses profanity against its target (the article’s writer was unable to marshal her argument with calm logic). Sadly, there were enough of these strident fans for it to be short-listed for a Hugo Award to be presented at this year’s Worldcon. That the article contains both a profanity and the author’s name – the target of her abuse – means that it clearly runs contrary to the Worldcon convention’s own code of conduct, yet the Worldcon committee has decided to do nothing: the least it could have done would have been to censor the offending words and explain why.
          Such Worldcon abuse from a minority of fans is not new, in fact it seems to be increasingly regular.  Indeed the last time the Worldcon had been held in our neck of the woods in Brit Cit there was a volatile reaction to the proposed host for the Hugo ceremony that was both unwarranted and totally over-the-top that even spilled over into the mainstream press.
          And so it will be interesting this year to see whether the Hugo will go to a hate-mongering work or whether the majority of Worldcon’s Hugo voters will take a stand?
          The Worldcon is next likely to come to our neck of the woods in 2024; that is if the Cal Hab Worldcon bid for that year wins.  Let’s hope that by then the braying, vociferous minority will have moved on so that that event can be tantrum free.

(3) BIDDERS CALLED OUT. SF2 Concatenation – which is produced by a predominantly UK team – also challenged the Glasgow in 2024 Worldcon bid to address crowding issues at the last three European Worldcons.

The 2024 bid for a British Worldcon in Glasgow is still on….  But given the increasing overcrowding problems at recent European Worldcons (London in 2013Helsinki in 2017, culminating in a jam-packed Dublin in 2019) it seems that the current generation of European Worldconrunners are unable or (worse?) unwilling to curb numbers to fit their venue’s size.  It would arguably be helpful if the Glasgow 2024 bid team gave a clear steer as to its planning policy on avoiding overcrowding so that those contemplating registering having attending the programme (as opposed to the socialising) as a big draw can decide whether or not to commit a four-figure investment in registration, travel, accommodation and food to attend.

(4) HOLLYWOOD ICON. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] I heard this 2018 interview Leonard and Jessie Maltin did with Rick Baker and his daughter Veronica Baker: Maltin on Movies: Rick and Veronica Baker. Rick Baker won seven Oscars for makeup and has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.  His daughter, Veronica, is a producer at DC Universe Infinite.

Rick Baker discovered his calling in 1958 when he was 8 and bought the third issue of Famous Monsters Of Filmland.  As a teenager, he discovered the home address of master makeup artist Dick Smith and sent him some photos of his work.  Smith realized that Baker had talent and then spent a day with the teenage Baker giving him tips and subsequently hired him as an assistant for The Exorcist.  Smith, Baker recalled, was a very nice guy who was really good at spotting talent, since three of the teenage monster enthusiasts he corresponded with became Baker, J.J. Abrams, and Peter Jackson.

Baker, who retired in 2015 because he was tired of dealing with the suits, had lots of stories.  He notes he was King Kong in the 1976 movie and played the pilot who killed Kong in the 2005 remake.  He still works on new designs and enthusiastically posts them on Instagram.

Cosplayers whose favorite holiday is Halloween will find Baker and his family simpatico because they spend three months a year prepping their  Halloween costumes. One year Baker, his wife, and their two daughters played four different versions of the Joker.  Another year they were characters from Beauty And The Beast with Baker playing the Beast.

I thought this was very enjoyable.

(5) ENJOYING ASIMOV’S BOOKS. Adam-Troy Castro tries to stick up for Asimov, though necessarily begins his Facebook post with a hefty list of concessions.

Thanks to the new TV adaptation of Asimov’s FOUNDATION, some people are rushing to the internet to make the clever observation that Isaac Asimov really wasn’t a great writer of fiction.

They are also talking about his disgusting personal conduct toward women at conventions, but let us put that aside, mostly because I absolutely agree that it was disgusting and have no reason to argue with you….

…When I was a kid of about 8-10, precociously picking up books that had been marketed to adults from a school library that had the whole set of Asimov and Clarke books, they were a godsend to me. I had no problem parsing the prose, any prose. But for a kid who had not yet even begun to decode adult interactions, beginning a process that I am still shaky on today, as are we all, it was helpful to have books that imparted the sense of wonder and provided drama that was pretty much all surface because anything more sophisticated was precisely the stuff that I would be confused by and get bogged down in. Through Asimov I learned the trick of reading a book. And from Asimov I moved on to writers capable of introducing, among other things, more elegant prose, more complex description, more sophisticated characterization, and the resonance of human interactions that were by their nature harder to navigate than math problems….

(6) PROPERTY IS THEFT. WIRED’s “Geek’s Guide to the Galaxy” podcast interviews a professor who believes “Sci-Fi Is a Good Way to Learn Political Theory”. Listen to the complete interview with Joseph Reisert at the link.

…Reisert is currently teaching Ursula K. Le Guin’s novel The Dispossessed to help students understand Marxist ideas of a society without private property. “It’s the one imagining of a society without property that seems reasonably plausible to me,” he says. “I love that novel, and I think the central insight there is that to make that society without property work, even apart from the organizational challenges, requires a kind of moral transformation that’s not easy to accomplish.”

Another advantage of science fiction novels is that they tend to be more entertaining than political treatises, meaning that students are more likely to actually read them. “One shouldn’t underestimate the importance of having a light, easy reading at the end of a long semester right before people take exams,” Reisert says.

(7) THEFT IS THEFT, EVEN MORE SO. A press release on Business Wire reports “Educational Publishers Obtain Preliminary Injunction Against 60 Illegal Websites that Use Online Ads to Sell Pirated Content”.

Educational publishers, Macmillan LearningCengage Group, Elsevier, McGraw Hill and Pearson,have obtained a Preliminary Injunction from the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York against 60 websites that sell illegal, unlicensed copies of eBooks. The publishers filed suit against the operators of these websites on August 9, 2021, and on the same date obtained a Temporary Restraining Order that required the immediate shutdown of the infringing activity on these websites, as well as the cessation of the services provided by intermediaries that support the websites. With the Preliminary Injunction, that injunctive relief has now been extended through the pendency of the litigation. This is the fourth suit in less than two years that the publishers have brought against pirate eBook websites, and the fourth time they have successfully obtained a Preliminary Injunction.

Like the prior lawsuits, the current lawsuit states that the operators of the pirate eBook websites use online ads—most notably ads on Google and Microsoft’s Bing—to attract customers searching for the publishers’ legitimate content to their illegal websites. In addition to Google and Bing, the websites rely on payment processors, web hosts, domain registrars, proxy service providers and other internet service providers, all of whom are required by the Court’s injunction to stop facilitating the pirate websites’ illegal activity.

The sale of pirated textbooks injures students, who do not receive legitimate copies of the products they seek to purchase. Piracy also causes publishers financial injury, creating a ripple effect impacting the ability to invest in the creation of new works and scholarly contributions that benefit education as a whole. The educational publishers’ enforcement efforts seek to stop online piracy.

(8) SANDMAN CLIP. IndieWire introduces “’The Sandman’ First Look at Neil Gaiman’s Netflix Series”.

Netflix’s logline for the dark fantasy show reads: “A rich blend of modern myth and dark fantasy in which contemporary fiction, historical drama and legend are seamlessly interwoven, ‘The Sandman’ follows the people and places affected by Morpheus, the Dream King, as he mends the cosmic — and human — mistakes he’s made during his vast existence.”

The preface at YouTube says —

The Lord of Dreams has been summoned, and captured, by mortal men. Once free from his captivity, this eternal ruler of Dreams will realize that his troubles are only just beginning. The Sandman is a Netflix series based on the groundbreaking comic book series created for DC by Neil Gaiman.

(9) LITERARY CHOCOLATE. Fine Books & Collections brings to fans’ attention a new Lovecraftian delicacy that will soon be available.

Open Book Chocolates, purveyors of handmade, literary-themed chocolates, has announced a Lovecraft-inspired dark chocolate bar infused with Nori seaweed, ginger spice, and candied ginger. It’s called ‘The Call of Cthulhu,’ and a Kickstarter campaign is underway to launch this new flavor into the world. They’ve already met their funding goal, but potential backers can still get in on the action through October 12.

The Kickstarter still has 13 days to run: The Call of Cthulhu Chocolate Bar by G. E. Gallas.

…Our newest flavor, The Call of Cthulhu, is inspired by H. P. Lovecraft’s 1926 short story about narrator Francis Wayland Thurston’s search for the truth behind his recently deceased great uncle’s papers. Cthulhu is an ominous, nightmarish, octopus-like creature that hibernates underwater until the time is right for him to emerge and cause havoc. Nori seaweed represents Cthulhu’s aquatic origins, while the spicy kick of ginger expresses the discombobulation he bestows on man….

Call of Cthulhu is just one of a whole line of book-inspired chocolate bars that includes Alice in Wonderland, Sherlock Holmes, Jane Eyre, Pride and Prejudice, Treasure Island, The Raven, Les Miserables, and A Christmas Carol.

(10) ANOTHER TASTE OF HPL. Heritage Auctions has a big Horror, Science Fiction and Fantasy auction coming up on October 14 when  The Gary Munson Collection of Horror and Fantasy Rare Books goes under the hammer. One example is this Lovecraft rarity:

…No discussion of genre-defining work is complete without a mention of H.P. Lovecraft. Though a somewhat controversial character, there can be no doubt that his curious mind, monstrous creations and bone-chilling descriptions of creeping madness continue to shape the horror genre — and will well into the future. There is a reason we describe the worst of our nightmares as Lovecraftian: because H.P. Lovecraft shined a spotlight on all the darkest corners of our world and our minds.

As rare and secretive as the Eldritch gods themselves is this copy of an autographed manuscript signed for the short story, Pickman’s Model. Featuring 16 leaves of Lovecraft’s spidery handwriting, the manuscript is not only signed by Lovecraft, but is also written on the backs of 15 letters written to the author himself. Purportedly, Lovecraft was no fan of typewriters and often used the backs of correspondence, notes and other scrap paper for getting down his ideas. These unique letters contain a laundry list of recognizable names of Lovecraft’s peers and provide unique insight into the publication timeline of the story and Lovecraft’s correspondence and interactions in the years leading up to publication…

(11) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

1963 – Fifty eight years ago this evening on CBS, My Favorite Martian first aired. It was created by John L. Greene who had absolutely no SF background. (Think The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet.) It starred Ray Walston as “Uncle Martin” (aka the Martian) and Bill Bixby as Tim O’Hara. The first two seasons, seventy five episodes, were black and white, while the last thirty two episodes of season three were in color. It did very well for the first two seasons but ratings dropped significantly in the third season and it got cancelled. An animated series, My Favorite Martians, was made by Filmation and aired on CBS a decade later. It lasted sixteen episodes. Jonathan Harris voiced Martin. It would be remade in 1999 as a film with Christopher Lloyd as Uncle Martin and Ray Walston in a new role, Armitan/Neenert. It was a box office disaster. It currently has a twelve percent rating among audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes. 

(12) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born September 28, 1873 — Theodore Lorch. He’s the High Priest in 1936 Flash Gordon serial. He also shows up (uncredited originally) as Kane’s Council Member in the 1939 Buck Rogers serial as well. (Died 1947.)
  • Born September 28, 1930 — Naura Hayden. Her best-known film appearance is a starring role in The Angry Red Planet where she was Dr. Iris “Irish” Ryan. Yes she was a redhead. Unless you can count her uncredited appearance as a harem girl in Son of Sinbad, this is her only film or series genre role. In 1955, she joined a Canadian musical cast of Li’l Abner. This was made possible by Sidney W. Pink who wrote the script for The Angry Red Planet. (Died 2013.)
  • Born September 28, 1934 — Stuart M. Kaminsky. Though best remembered as a very prolific mystery writer for which I single out the Toby Peters series about a private detective in 1940s Hollywood and the Inspector Porfiry Petrovich Rostnikov series about a Moscow police inspector,  he does have genre works. He did two Kolchak the Night Stalker graphic novels, plus wrote the scripts for two Batman stories, “The Batman Memos” and “The Man Who Laughs”. As an editor, he’s responsible for the On a Raven’s Wing: New Tales in Honor of Edgar Allan Poe anthology. (Died 2009.)
  • Born September 28, 1942 — Ian McShane, 79. Setting aside Deadwood which is the favorite series of Emma Bull and Will Shetterly where he’s Al Swearengen, he portrayed Mr. Wednesday in American Gods. And it turns out, though I don’t remember it, he was Dr. Robert Bryson in Babylon 5: The River of Souls film. And he’s Blackbeard in Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides. Now you tell me what your favorite genre role is by him. 
  • Born September 28, 1944 — Isla Blair, 77. Her first credited film appearance was in  Dr. Terror’s House of Horrors as an art gallery assistant.  She was Isabella in The King’s Demons, a Fifth Doctor story. She’s in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade as the wife of her real-life husband Julian Glover, and credited as Mrs. Glover. She’s Blaker in The Quatermass Experiment. Finally she has played a starring role as Sally in the BBC’s alternate history An Englishman’s Castle series.
  • Born September 28, 1959 — Scott MacDonald, 62. He’s been on four Trek shows:  Next Gen,  Voyager,  Deep Space Nine, and  Enterprise. He’s also up on Space Above and BeyondBabylon 5X-FilesStargate: SG-1Carnivale and Threshold. He was also in Jack Frost 2: Revenge of the Mutant Killer Snowman, a film which you can guess how bad the rating at Rotten Tomatoes is.
  • Born September 28, 1961 — Nicholas Briggs, 60. A Whovian among Whoians who started out writing Who fanfic. First off he’s the voice of the Daleks and the Cybermen in the new series of shows. Well not just them as he also voices the Judoon, the Ice Warriors, the  Nestene Consciousness, the Jagrafess and the Zygons.  Second he’s the Executive Producer of Big Finish Productions, the audio drama company that has produced more Doctor WhoTorchwood and other related works that you’d think possible. Third he did act twice in the Whoverse. Once on Torchwood as Rick Yates on “Children of Earth: Day Four” andThe Sarah Jane Adventures as Captain Tybo in “Prisoner of the Judoon” episode.  Fourth he’s appeared as himself in The Five(ish) Doctors Reboot
  • Born September 28, 1974 — Alexis Cruz, 47. He was Skaara in the Stargate film and  remarkably got to play the same character in the Stargate SG-1 series as well which is unusual indeed. He’s done a number of fairly obscure horror films (DarkWolfSpectres, Slayer and Altergeist).
Hayao Miyazaki

(13) LOVE FOR MIYAZAKI. {Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] Behind a paywall in the September 21 Financial Times, former Financial Times film critic Nigel Andrews noted the 20th anniversary of Hiyao Miyazaki’s Spiritied Away, the only film in Andrews’s 46-year career he gave six stars to (Andrews judged on a 1-5 star scale).

Hiyao Miyazaki’s Spirited Away is 20 years old. I saw it at the 2001 Berlin Film Festival, where it won the golden Bear for Best film.  Some months later it won the Best Animated Feature Oscar. Is it the best film I’ve ever seen?  Quite possibly.  I’d want it on a desert island.  Yes, my life would be poorer without it. And I never, during my 46 years as a practicing movie reviewer, bestowed that 6/5 rating on anything else; or even thought to….

…Maybe Miyazaki’s masterpiece is better seen as a movie to crown his own career than to coronate future directors.  He never followed it with a better one himself, though there are marvels in Howl’s Moving Castle, Ponyo, and The Wind Rises.  But then Welles never surpassed Citizen Kane, nor Hitchcock Vertigo.  Spirited Away is the great treasure of 21st century animation, and we may be saying that when the 21st century ends. 

(14) TRADPUB’S ANSWER TO THE $600 ASHTRAY. Amanda S. Green, in “Who can read your book?”, discusses news reports about the U.S. Senate’s Finance Committee grilling publishers about library e-book contracts.  

…As an example, the article notes how a California school district had to pay $27/yr per student for access to e-books of The Diary of Anne Frank. In other words, if 100 students that year studied the book, the district paid the publisher $2700–and the district nor the kids “owned” that e-book. If they bought the paperback book directly from Amazon instead of through Baker & Taylor where they’d probably get a discount, they’d pay $11/copy or less. The e-book would cost $6.99. So why is the per student cost for the school library for this e-book so much more?

Why aren’t publishers trying to encourage school districts to invest more of their limited library funds in books and e-books–and giving them more for their money–than they are? After all, if we teach our youngsters to enjoy reading, that should be a win-win for publishers, right?

When publishers have politicians pointing out the obvious, there’s a problem….

(15) ON WRY. David Bratman’s report about visiting “Beyond Van Gogh: The Immersive Experience” in San Jose begins with a rather clever comment.

… You show your proof of vaccination – though they’re quite bewildered by the actual card, expecting it to be transferred to a phone – and nobody’s very interested in your ticket – and head down a clogged (because people read very slowly) passage by a series of panels with explanatory narration and quotes from Vince’s letters in English and Spanish. Finally, if you get around that and the arrow-bearing signs reading “Gogh This Way” which must be terribly confusing to anyone who doesn’t know how to mispronounce the name, you get to the main hall….

(16) REWRITING THE DICTIONARY. The WPM Invitational site has an archive of the results of two Washington Post competitions, among other things: “Word Play Masters”.

The Washington Post’s Mensa invitational once again asked readers to take any word from the dictionary, alter it by adding, subtracting, or changing one letter, and supply a new definition.   Here are the winners:

1. Cashtration (n.): The act of buying a house, which renders the subject financially impotent for an indefinite period of time.                     
                                                                            
2. Ignoranus : A person who’s both stupid and an asshole….               

And there are 15 more.

The same site also has the 16 winners of a different challenge:

The Washington Post has also published the winning submissions to its yearly contest, in which readers are asked to supply alternate meanings for common words.  And the winners are:
                                                                                                              
                                                                            
 1. Coffee , n. The person upon whom one coughs.                            
                                                                            
 2. Flabbergasted , adj. Appalled by discovering how much weight one has gained….             

Etc.

(17) LIVED IN A HOLE IN THE GROUND. “Scientists Unseal Secret Cave Chamber Used by Neanderthals”Yahoo! has the story.

Scientists exploring a cave network inside of the Rock of Gibraltar—a monolithic limestone mass in the British territory of Gibraltar—have discovered a chamber that nobody’s seen for 40,000 years. The chamber, which measures about 42 square feet, not only offers insight into a pocket of Earth long untouched, but also, in all likelihood, an area where Neanderthals visited. And perhaps snacked on animal carcasses.

Gizmodo reported on the discovery, which the scientists recently announced. The team visited the Gibraltar cave network—known as Gorham’s Cave complex—in August of this year as a continuation of a nine-year-long effort to determine its true dimensions. The complex is of intrigue as experts consider it to be one of the last habitations for Neanderthals in Europe. The site’s so important for archaeology, in fact, it’s even a UNESCO World Heritage Site….

(18) ROBOTECH. Here’s a promotional video with footage the Amazon Astro mentioned in the Scroll the other day:

(19) AUTEUR’S DEBUT. Dementia 13, the 1963 horror film that marked Francis Ford Coppola’s debut has been released last week in a restored director’s cut.

Presented in HD and available on Blu-ray for the first time, Francis Ford Coppola’s director’s cut of Dementia 13 is quintessential gothic horror, wrapped in the twisted mysteries of a family’s deepest, darkest secrets. A widow deceives her late husband’s mother and brothers into thinking he’s still alive when she attends the yearly memorial to his drowned sister, hoping to secure his inheritance. But her cunning is no match for the demented, axe-wielding thing roaming the grounds of the family’s Irish estate in this cult favorite featuring Patrick Magee, Luana Anders, William Campbell, and Bart Patton.

(20) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In “The Costume Designer Tutorial” on Screen Rant, Tyler Lemco plays costume designer Dode L.who took off Superman’s underwear for Man Of Steel and says “I knocked Thor’s dumb helmet off his dumb head and never looked back”  Among his suggestions:  black leather jackets always work and make sure all male superheroes have abs built into their costumes; but don’t ask him about “that credit card thing” that got him into trouble with Willem Dafoe. This was written by Seb Decter.  Ryan George has a brief cameo.

[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, Andrew Porter, John King Tarpinian, Chris Barkley, Daniel Dern, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Michael Toman, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, and JJ for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Jim Janney.]

Pixel Scroll 8/28/21 Around The File In 80,000 Pixels, Written By Scrolles Verne

(1) CLARION WEST ONLINE LEARNING. Clarion West is offering a large number of Online Classes & Workshops over the next three months. Here are just a few examples.

Are you interested in writing and submitting fiction to both “literary” and “speculative” markets? This class will cover submission practices and expectations for both fields, and will discuss key differences and similarities. Along with resources on how to find journals and magazines to submit to, the class will also discuss career-related topics such as MFA programs, speculative writing workshops, and how to apply for writing residencies, grants, awards, and conferences. 

The struggle of every short story is time. How can anyone tell a gripping, heart-wrenching story in so few words? 

One way is to create emotionally engaging characters—someone who will pull the reader into the story and won’t let go, even after the story ends. 

In this class, we will discuss how to create these types of characters in the space of a short story. We will cover topics such as voice, empathy, and reliable narration, as well as what characters can get away with in short fiction that they could not in a novella or novel. 

If you’ve listened to an audiobook or a podcast, then you’re familiar with how audio as a medium can truly transform a story, adding new dimensions and intricacies to what is “on the page.” Relatedly, audiobooks, audio dramas, and podcasting have seen an explosion in growth over the last decade in publishing. Still, the ways in which we experience oral storytelling have remained largely static, even if platforms have changed rapidly. This moment presents a unique opportunity for writers to expand their stories into a market hungry for audiobooks, including short-form stories, novels, and everything in between. 

In this workshop, Zelda Knight will cover step-by-step instructions on what to do and what not to do, common pitfalls, great resources, recommendations for distribution, and an overall insider’s look at how to transform your stories into audio with immersive SFX and narration.

From Lord of the Rings to Star Wars, trilogies are a tried and true way to tell an extended story, and it seems a majority of current science fiction and fantasy series follow the rule of three. However, writing a trilogy isn’t quite as simple as extending the principle of the three act structure. We’ll talk about how to set up your novel for trilogy potential and what to do when your publisher says, “We want a trilogy.” We’ll examine lessons from successful and unsuccessful trilogies and consider when a trilogy is and isn’t appropriate for the story you want to tell. We’ll then discuss how to plan out a story across three books, how to create satisfying narrative arcs within each book as well as over the entire trilogy, and what each book needs to accomplish. And we’ll also cover common pitfalls, such as how to avoid “second book syndrome,” how to create a sense of epic scale without losing focus, how to cover large time jumps, and more. 

(2) AN AMAZING EDITOR IN EVERY WAY. [Item by Cora Buhlert.] Brian Murphy, author of Flame and Crimson – A History of Sword and Sorcery, shares his appreciation for Cele Goldsmith Lalli, the underrated editor Amazing Stories and Fantastic in the 1960s who rescued Fritz Leiber’s Fafhrd and Gray Mouser from oblivion, discovered John Jakes and Roger Zelazny (and David R. Bunch) and helped to usher in the sword and sorcery boom of the 1960s: “The Fantastic S&S contributions of Cele Goldsmith” at The Silver Key.

…Goldsmith had a reputation for bucking commercial trends throughout her career and so published Leiber’s less-fashionable S&S. In so doing she improved the climate and conditions that allowed sword-and-sorcery to reach full flower later in the decade with the publication of the unauthorized The Lord of the Rings, the republication of Edgar Rice Burroughs’ A Princess of Mars, and the publication of the Lancer Conan Saga…. 

(3) FUTURE TENSE. “’Beauty Surge’, a new short story by Laura Maylene Walter” — “What if your college dorm analyzed your sewage to find out if you’re pregnant or on drugs?” – is the latest story in the Future Tense Fiction series from Future Tense and Arizona State University’s Center for Science and the Imagination about how technology and science will change our lives.

Nora shut herself in the dorm suite’s bathroom, the inhaler clutched in her fist. Once she was within range of the ProtectFlo toilet sensor, her eight-digit campus identification code flashed across its display. The light flared from yellow to green, where it would remain until Nora exited. There was no way to circumvent the system unless, of course, one peed outside, maybe in the campus woods, but that would render vital health data inaccessible.

And there’s a response essay by Rolf Halden, director of the Biodesign Center for Environmental Health Engineering. “Are You Entitled to Privacy Over Your Pee and Poop? An expert on wastewater-based epidemiology responds to Laura Maylene Walter’s ‘Beauty Surge'”.

…But there always are those questions we need to ask, again and again: What information is OK to collect? How many people’s human waste needs to be mixed to make the data we collect anonymous? Who owns the data, and who deserves to learn about what it says? If a changing climate or global tourism bring new pathogens into your city and neighborhood, we work to be the first to tell you.

Powerful tools are neither good nor bad; it just depends how they are applied. Wastewater-based epidemiology and other health monitoring tools are no exception….

(4) LOOKING BACKWARD. Cora Buhlert’s new Retro Review is for “’The Green Huntsman’ by Dorothea Gibbons”, who is better known as Stella Gibbons, author of Cold Comfort Farm.

…The name Dorothea Gibbons will not mean anything to most people. However, Dorothea Gibbons is a very well known author, probably one of the most famous mainstream authors ever to publish in Weird Tales next to Tennessee Williams as a sixteen-year-old debut author (and I should really review his debut story some day). For Dorothea Gibbons was none other than British novelist, poet and journalist Stella Gibbons, author of Cold Comfort Farm (which is absolutely genre, even if most people don’t realise it). …

(5) HIJACK THE STARSHIP AGAIN. Rescheduled from 2019 – a live performance of 1971 Best Dramatic Presentation Hugo finalist Blows Against the Empire will take place October 23 at The Newton Theater in New Jersey.

The Airplane Family & Friends reunites Jefferson Airplane, Jefferson Starship, Hot Tuna, Grateful Dead, Bob Weir’s Rat Dog & David Crosby alumni to perform the 50th Anniversary of Paul Kantner / Jefferson Starship masterpiece “Blows Against the Empire”, in celebration of the late Hall of Fame musician’s birthday-next March. The album was recorded in San Francisco in 1970, the results derive from a period of cross-collaboration during late 1969 through 1971 by Jefferson Airplane, Grateful Dead & Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young recording at the time in the city.

The credit to Jefferson Starship reflected many things: the ad-hoc all-star line-up; the album being an evolutionary progression from Jefferson Airplane; and finally the narrative concept that tells the story of a counter-culture revolution against the oppressions and a plan to steal a starship from orbit and journey into space in search of a new home. It was the first album to ever be nominated for literary science fiction’s Hugo Award in the category of Best Dramatic Presentation.

(6) ALIEN CHOW CALL. “Science fiction writer Eli Lee dips into her imagination to create fictional worlds and fantastical, quotidian meals of the future.” “Writing for science fiction: Eating unfamiliar food in a familiar world”, a recording available at KCRW.

…In a piece for Vittles, Lee takes inspiration from writer Ursula Le Guin, whose work “Always Coming Home” anchors her fanciful cuisine to the hyperrigional dishes of her native Northern California upbringing. In her first novel “A Strange and Brilliant Light,” Lee delves into her past to create foods in her invented world. Referencing her beekeeper mother’s honey, Lee describes her imaginary dulac cake, allowing the reader to attach their own personal food history and emotions to her fiction.

(7) WALDROP TO THE SCREEN. “The Cooters Are Coming!” announces “The Big Cooter” George R.R. Martin, at Not A Blog. He’s helped produce a film based on a Howard Waldrop story.

…The producers of NIGHT OF THE COOOTERS — in no particular order — are Vincent D’Onofrio, Justin Duval, Joe Dean, Taylor Church, Martin Sensmeier, L.C. Crowly, Greg Jonkajtys, Elias Gallegos, Lenore Gallegos, Amy Filbeck, Joe Lansdale, and Howard Waldrop His Own Self.

And me… though I rather think I may credit myself as The Big Cooter.

When and where will you be able to see NIGHT OF THE COOTERS?

Well, that’s hard to say. We shot everything on green screen, so the post production process is going to be a lengthy one. The ball has now been passed to our friends at Trioscope, who will supply the backgrounds and special effects. We are thinking the final cut won’t be ready until early next year. And once the film is complete… well, alas, I doubt it will be showing at a multiplex near you. It’s a short film, as I said, and shorts just don’t get the distribution of full-length features. They hardly get any distribution at all, sad to say. I expect we will enter COOTERS in some film festivals here and there. Maybe some streamer will pick it up. Maybe we can release it on DVD or Blu-Ray. Maybe we can make a few more Waldrop movies and assemble them all into an anthology of sorts, like CREEPSHOW or TWILIGHT ZONE. One thing I can promise: we will be having a premiere somewhere down the line at the Jean Cocteau Cinema in Santa Fe.

Howard never made much money off his stories. I expect his film won’t make much money either. But that’s not point.

Some stories just need to be told. Some movies just need to be made. Call it a labor of love.

(8) COMIC-CON MUSEUM. Held back by the pandemic, the “San Diego Comic-Con Museum to open in November” says the San Diego Union-Tribune.

Comic-Con Museum’s 2019 preview day.

… COVID-19 did more than delay the museum — it also canceled the in-person Comic-Con two years in a row. Not only was it a hit to the pocketbook of the nonprofit that runs the convention, but also San Diego’s tourism industry. The launch of the museum is welcome news to many in the community.

“With the museum’s construction under way,” San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria said in a statement, “we’re closer than ever to welcoming a global audience to get a taste of the Comic-Con experience in the middle of our city’s crown jewel, Balboa Park.”

Visitors to the new museum Thanksgiving Week will be only seeing the first phase of the project, which will include exhibits of comic book art, part of an education center, an atrium and artwork from past conventions. Other parts of the three-floor museum, which Comic-Con said will be completed by July 2022, will be worked on as the museum stays open….

(9) MEMORY LANE.

  • 1998 – Twenty-three years ago, The New Addams Family premiered on Fox Family. It’s considered a revival of the Sixties series The Addams Family. (To date, it is the last Addams Family television series done, with only a computer-animated feature following it twenty years later.) With the exception of Ellie Harvie who portrayed Morticia Addams here and later was Dr. Lindsey Novak in Stargate SG-1 and Stargate Atlantis, the cast will not be familiar to you. (Though John Astin would show up in a guest role as Grandpapa Addams.) She won two Leo Awards, given out by the British Columbia film and television industry for her work on this series. It would last two seasons, consisting of seventy-eight thirty-five minute episodes in total. 

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born August 28, 1916 Jack Vance. I think I prefer his Dying Earth works more than anything else he did, though the Lyonesse Trilogy is damn fine too. And did you know he wrote three mystery novels as Ellery Queen? Well he did. And his autobiography, This Is Me, Jack Vance!, won the Hugo Award, Best Related Book at Aussiecon 4. He won two other Hugos, one for his short story “The Dragon Masters” at DisCon 1, another at NyCon 3 for “The Last Castle” novelette.” (Died 2013.) 
  • Born August 28, 1917 Jack Kirby. Responsible for a goodly part of modern comics from Captain America and the X-Men to Challengers of the Unknown and the New Gods. I’m very much looking forward to the New Gods film being worked on now that delayed by the Pandemic. He would have been up for a Retro Hugo at MidAmeriCon II for Captain America Comics #1 but it was  ineligible, not having been published in 1940, but in 1941. (Died 1994.)
  • Born August 28, 1948 Vonda N. McIntyre. I’ve read a number of her works including  Dreamsnake and The Moon and the Sun which are all phenomenal. Dreamsnake won a Hugo at Seacon ‘79 as well a Locus Award for Best SF Novel and a Nebula nomination. The Moon and the Sun which won a Nebula was based on a short story of hers done has a faux encyclopaedia article “The Natural History and Extinction of the People of the Sea,” that was illustrated by Le Guin. Way cool. (Died 2019.)
  • Born August 28, 1949 Charles Rocket. A memorable recurring role on Max Headroom as the sleazy corporate executive Grossberg. His genre appearance otherwise are extensive and include Quantum LeapWild PalmsLois & Clark: The New Adventures of SupermanStar Trek: VoyagerX-Files and a lot of voice work including the Batman franchise of course. (Died 2005.)
  • Born August 28, 1951 Barbara Hambly, 70. Author of myriad genre works including the James Asher, Vampire NovelsThe Windrose Chronicles, and the Sun Wolf and Starhawk series. Some Trek work. Her only Award was a Locus Award for Best Horror Novel for Those Who Hunt the Night. She was married for some years to George Alec Effinger.
  • Born August 28, 1965 Amanda Tapping, 56. She’s  best known for portraying Samantha Carter on Stargate SG-1 and Stargate Atlantis. She also starred as Helen Magnus on Sanctuary which I never managed to see. Anyone seen it? She was in The Void which also starred Adrian Paul and Malcolm McDowell. 
  • Born August 28, 1978 Rachel Kimsey, 43. She voices Wonder Woman on Justice League Action, yet another series that proves animation, not live, is the DC film strong point. Here’s a clip of her voice work from that show. She was Zoe, the old imaginary friend of Frances, on Don’t Look Under The Bed, a supposed horror film that ran on Disney. Disney, horror? And she was a zombie in the “Don’t Let Her Pull You Down” musical video by New Found Glory. 

(11) COMICS SECTION.

(12) DUNE WHAT COMES NATURALLY. The Guardian asks: “Will Denis Villeneuve’s Dune finally succeed where others failed?” Videos of the 3 versions at the link.

What kind of fool of a film-maker would proceed with part one of a major fantasy epic without first establishing that the studio backing it will stump up the cash for part two? That was the position Ralph Bakshi found himself in when his divisive 1978 animated take on JRR Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings failed to wow critics, and it’s the one Denis Villeneuve finds himself in with regard to his forthcoming take on Frank Herbert’s space fantasy Dune, which arrives in cinemas and on the streaming service HBO on 22 October.

There is no doubt that the first big-screen take on this tale of interstellar rivalries since David Lynch’s 1984 misfire has hype in spades. Early trailers featuring Timothée Chalamet as the messianic Paul Atreides, as well as a stellar cast including Zendaya, Rebecca Ferguson, Oscar Isaac, Josh Brolin, Stellan Skarsgård, Charlotte Rampling and Javier Bardem, wowed sci-fi fans. But then, Villeneuve’s previous sci-fi spectacular, Bladerunner 2049, was similarly a fan favourite and earned rapturous reviews, yet ended up with a middling box-office take. All talk of a third movie swiftly evaporated….

(13) WRITER’S CHANGE OF VENUE AFFECTS A MENU. “H.P. Lovecraft Writes Olive Garden’s Dinner Menu” by Sam Woods at McSweeney’s Internet Tendency.

Fried Calamari

Tendrils crusted in grit assail my palate. Begotten of the sea, yet containing the essence of a carnival….

(14) A TWELVE YEAR MISSION. Which is a bit longer than Trek officers are ordinarily involved with: “‘Star Trek’ star Tim Russ helps detect asteroid for NASA’s upcoming mission” reports USA Today.

Tim Russ, who played Lieutenant Commander Tuvok on the sci-fi show “Star Trek: Voyager” is going back to his space roots. On his latest mission, he’s helping detect asteroids for NASA.

Russ and five other citizen astronomers contributed to the detection of Patroclus, an asteroid orbiting Jupiter. 

The purpose of detecting the asteroid is to serve NASA’s upcoming mission in October where it will launch a probe named Lucy into space, according to Russ. NASA said in a statement posted to their website that Lucy will complete a 12-year journey to eight different asteroids: a Main Belt and seven Trojans.

“These Trojan asteroids were captured in Jupiter’s orbit, probably from farther out in the solar system, so they’re more rare and more pristine in terms of what information they might have in their chemical makeup,” Russ tells USA TODAY.

According to NASA, the Trojan asteroids are “stabilized by the Sun and its largest planet in a gravitational balancing act. …These primitive bodies hold vital clues to deciphering the history of the solar system, and perhaps even the origins of organic material on Earth.”

Russ helped detect Patroclus using a Unistellar eVscope and eQuinox telescope, a computerized telescope with a built-in GPS that connects to any cellphone.

“It will simply find a starfield on its own and it will figure out where it is. You just punch in the object you want to go see,” Russ says.

(15) LOONEY OR NOT? NASA wants to know if a 3D printer can print useful objects from moon dust — Digital Trends has the story. “NASA Tests 3D Printer That Uses Moon Dust to Print in Space”.

When a Northrop Grumman Cygnus cargo spacecraft arrived at the International Space Station (ISS) this week, it carried a very special piece of equipment from Earth: A 3D printer that uses moon dust to make solid material.

NASA is testing out the printing system from company Redwire for use in its upcoming Artemis moon missions, hoping to make use of the moon’s dusty soil (technically known as regolith) as raw material for printing. The idea is to use readily available materials on the moon to make what is required instead of having to haul lots of heavy equipment all the way from Earth.

Engineers have been considering how to 3D print using moon regolith for some time and have demonstrated the process on Earth. But sending a 3D printer into the microgravity environment of the ISS for testing is a big new step in getting the technology ready to use…. 

(16) VIDEO OF THE DAY. Empire introduces the “Full Trailer For Trippy Alan Moore-Penned Noir Thriller The Show”

We’ve been monitoring the progress of the Alan Moore/Mitch Jenkins brain-bender The Show for nearly a year now. And, as it finally secures a release date, the full trailer for the trippy film has arrived….

[Thanks to Andrew Porter, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, Rob Thornton, Lise Andreasen, Michael J. Walsh, Cora Buhlert, Michael Toman, John King Tarpinian, Cat Eldridge, and Mike Kennedy for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to contributing editor of the day Ingvar.]

Pixel Scroll 6/17/21 Had We Scrolls Enough, And Time, These Pixels, Filer, Were No Crime

(1) STATHOPOULOS ON TV. The Age’s reviewer Debi Enker manages to put Nick Stathopoulos’ TV appearance in a good light in an otherwise snarky piece: “Three-part documentary Finding the Archibald and weekly magazine show Art Works can’t fix ABC TV’s coverage of the arts”. Nick is a past Hugo, BSFA Award, and Chesley nominee who’s won Australia’s Ditmar Award 10 times. He also designed the Aussiecon 4 (2010) Hugo base.  

Actor and presenter Rachel Griffiths, Nick Stathopoulos and Deng Adut in Finding The Archibald. ABC

… The series about “the Archie” arrives in the popular prize’s centenary year. Producer, writer and director Griffiths endeavours to establish her cred as host by telling us that she is the daughter of an art teacher and the wife of a painter, as well as “an actor who’s spent her whole life trying to understand the human condition”.

Apparently, a survey of the Archibald’s history and consideration of what it might reflect about our country isn’t sufficient: the production requires some tricking up. So Griffiths embarks on a mission to select a single portrait that she believes “captures the changing face of Australia and will stand the test of time”.

She interviews a range of artists who have submitted portraits to the prize, as well as people who have posed for them, and ponders the question of what makes a great portrait. She also poses for one herself.

Meanwhile, the series also follows Natalie Wilson as she curates an exhibition of 100 portraits to accompany the NSW Art Gallery’s display of this year’s entrants. Her search involves thousands of emails sent in an effort to locate past Archibald entries. Fortunately, Sherlock Griffiths is on hand to help her find the one of Molly Meldrum, which is hanging in the first place that anyone might look for it: his house….

(2) EARNING PENNIES FROM A DEAD MAN’S EYES. The Rite Gud podcast wonders aloud: “H.P. Lovecraft: Why We Can Stop Flogging His Dead Bloated Corpse”.

In today’s sci-fi/ fantasy community, it’s fashionable to dig up H.P. Lovecraft and put him on trial as the avatar of everything wrong with speculative fiction. While we won’t defend Lovecraft’s abhorrent social values, we have to ask: what is the point of this? What do we gain by canceling a man who is now a dusty skeleton mouldering in the dirt? Are we really reckoning with genre fiction’s bigoted past, or are we just looking for a way to distract from our contemporary problems?

In this episode, Karlo Yeager Rodríguez joins us to talk about horror, colonialism, and Captain Picard’s dangerous space dumps.

(3) BLUE PLATE SPECIALS REMAIN ON MENU. “English Heritage recognises Blyton and Kipling’s racism – but blue plaques to stay” reports The Guardian.

English Heritage has acknowledged the “racism, xenophobia and lack of literary merit” in Enid Blyton’s writing, and the “racist and imperialist sentiments” of Rudyard Kipling, as part of its ongoing efforts to better reflect today’s values in its blue plaques.

While English Heritage’s blue plaques commemorating both authors remain unchanged, the charity’s online information about both now goes into detail about the problematic aspects of their writing and views.

English Heritage notes online how in 1960, Macmillan refused to publish Blyton’s children’s novel The Mystery That Never Was, noting her “faint but unattractive touch of old-fashioned xenophobia”. It would go on to be published by William Collins….

English Heritage has also noted the views of Kipling, who is still commemorated with a blue plaque at 43 Villiers St in London where he lived between 1889 and 1891.

English Heritage’s online information for Kipling now highlights how his political views “have been widely criticised for their racist and imperialist sentiments”. It points in particular to works such as The White Man’s Burden “with its offensive description of ‘new-caught, sullen peoples, half devil and half child’” which “sought to portray imperialism as a mission of civilisation”.

It also highlights that “George Orwell found Kipling’s attitude to instances of colonial brutality ‘morally insensitive and aesthetically disgusting’, but admitted the importance of his work to him in his younger life.”

(4) STATION-TO-STATION. Abigail Nussbaum is a big fan of this, as shown by her “Five Comments on The Underground Railroad at Asking the Wrong Questions.

The Underground Railroad is a stone cold masterpiece, one that not only shoulders the challenging task of adapting the novel it was based on with seeming ease, but that breaks new ground in terms of what television can be and how it can achieve its effect. It deserves sustained, continued discussion and exploration. So this post isn’t a review—I’m not sure I feel equal to that—so much as a series of observations, ones that will hopefully get more people to watch the show, and talk about it….

(5) BROMANCE, ROMANCE, NUANCE. In “Anthony Mackie on Sam & Bucky’s ‘Bromance’ on Falcon & Winter Soldier” in Variety, the new Captain America tells things from his perspective.

…So getting to wear the costume, hold the shield, and call himself Captain America — as Wilson does in the Marvel comics — was somewhat overwhelming for Mackie.

“Having if not one of my bucket lists, the bucket list moment happen, is not so much about becoming Captain America — it’s about having my dreams realized,” he says. “It’s very humbling when, you know, you get the opportunity that you’ve always dreamed of.”

The other half of Sam’s journey on the show is the transformation of his relationship with Bucky Barnes (Sebastian Stan) from simmering resentment to a lasting and profound friendship. That translated into several scenes of emotional and physical familiarity between Sam and Bucky that some fans interpreted as a budding romance — similar to how some Marvel fans desired Bucky and the first Captain America, Chris Evans’ Steve Rogers, to be a couple.

Mackie points out that he’s played in these kinds of waters before, in an episode of “Black Mirror” in which he and Yahya Abdul-Mateen II star as best friends who play an immersive, virtual reality video game that allows them to simulate being a man and woman in a sexual relationship. But he resists an interpretation that Sam and Bucky are sexually or romantically attracted to each other.

“So many things are twisted and convoluted. There’s so many things that people latch on to with their own devices to make themselves relevant and rational,” he says. “The idea of two guys being friends and loving each other in 2021 is a problem because of the exploitation of homosexuality. It used to be guys can be friends, we can hang out, and it was cool. You would always meet your friends at the bar, you know. You can’t do that anymore, because something as pure and beautiful as homosexuality has been exploited by people who are trying to rationalize themselves. So something that’s always been very important to me is showing a sensitive masculine figure. There’s nothing more masculine than being a superhero and flying around and beating people up. But there’s nothing more sensitive than having emotional conversations and a kindred spirit friendship with someone that you care about and love.”

“Sam and Steve had a relationship where they admired, appreciated and loved each other,” Mackie continues. “Bucky and Sam have a relationship where they learn how to accept, appreciate and love each other. You’d call it a bromance, but it’s literally just two guys who have each other’s backs.”…

(6) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

  • June 17, 1960 –  The Twilight Zone’s “The Mighty Casey.”

What you’re looking at is a ghost, once alive but now deceased. Once upon a time, it was a baseball stadium that housed a major league ball club known as the Hoboken Zephyrs. Now it houses nothing but memories and a wind that stirs in the high grass of what was once an outfield, a wind that sometimes bears a faint, ghostly resemblance to the roar of a crowd that once sat here. We’re back in time now, when the Hoboken Zephyrs were still a part of the National League, and this mausoleum of memories was an honest-to-Pete stadium. But since this is strictly a story of make believe, it has to start this way: once upon a time, in Hoboken, New Jersey, it was tryout day. And though he’s not yet on the field, you’re about to meet a most unusual fella, a left-handed pitcher named Casey. — Opening narration 

It’s almost summer, so let’s have a baseball story. On this day in 1960, The Twilight Zone first aired “The Mighty Casey” in which a down-and-out baseball team’s fortunes are lifted by a mysterious but seemingly unbeatable young player. It was directed by Robert Parrish and Alvin Ganzer, and of course written by Rod Serling. Cast was Jack Warden as McGarry, Robert Sorrells as Casey and Abraham Sofaer as Dr. Stillman. 

(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born June 17, 1898 — M. C. Escher. Dutch artist whose work was widely used to illustrate genre works such as the 1967 Harper & Row hardcover of Kate Wilhelm’s Where Late the Sweet Birds Sang, or Berkley Books 1996 cover of Clive Barker’s Athens Damnation Game. (Died 1972.)
  • Born June 17, 1903 — William Bogart. Pulp fiction writer. He is best remembered for writing several Doc Savage novels using the pseudonym Kenneth Robeson. Actually he’s responsible for thirteen of the novels, a goodly share of the number done. It’s suggested that most of his short stories were Doc Savage pastiches. (Died 1977.)
  • Born June 17, 1927 — Wally Wood. Comic book writer, artist and independent publisher, best known for his work on EC Comics’ Mad magazine, Marvel’s Daredevil, and Topps’s landmark Mars Attacks set. He was the inaugural inductee into the comic book industry’s Jack Kirby Hall of Fame, and was later inducted into the Will Eisner Comic Book Hall of Fame. (Died 1981.)
  • Born June 17, 1931 — Dean Ing. I reasonably sure the first thing I read by him was Soft Targets and I know I read all of his Man-Kzin Wars stories as I went through a phase of reading all that popcorn literature set in Niven’s universe. His “Devil You Don’t Know” novelette was nominated at Seacon ‘79. I also liked  his L-5 Community series. (Died 2020.)
  • Born June 17, 1941 — William Lucking, 80. Here because he played Renny in Doc Savage: Man of Bronze. (I know I’ve seen it, but I’ll be damn if I remember much about it.)  He’s also had one-offs in Mission: ImpossibleThe Incredible HulkThe American HeroThe QuestVoyagersX-FilesThe Lazarus ManMilleniumDeep Space Nine and Night Stalker
  • Born June 17, 1953 — Phyllis Weinberg, 68. She’s a fan who was married to fellow fan Robert E. Weinberg. She co-edited the first issue of The Weird Tales Collector. She co-chaired World Fantasy Convention 1996. 
  • Born June 17, 1982 — Arthur Darvill, 39. Actor who has had two great roles. The first was playing Rory Williams, one of the Eleventh Doctor’s companions. The second, and to my mind the more interesting of the two, was playing the time-traveler Rip Hunter in the Legends of Tomorrow. He also played Seymour Krelborn in The Little Shop of Horrors at the Midlands Arts Centre, and Mephistopheles in Doctor Faustus at Shakespeare’s Globe.  
  • Born June 17, 1982 — Jodie Whittaker, 39. The Thirteenth Doctor now in her third series and hopefully not final one. She played Ffion Foxwell in the Black Mirror‘s “The Entire History of You”, and was Samantha Adams in Attack the Block, a horror SF film. 

(7A) NUTS. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] This is from a review by Robert Armstrong of Charlie Brown’s America: The Popular Politics of Peanuts by Blake Scott Ball in the June 12 Financial Times.  Armstrong notes that Charles Schultz was a World War II veteran.

Snoopy’s alternative identity as a first world war flying ace–with his dog-house propeller plane–was a childhood favourite.  It never occurred to me to read the strips as commentaries on the Vietnam War.  Yet they were.  It is telling that Snoopy never defeated the Red Baron, and equally notable that the strips became more bleak as the war went on.’I’m exhausted,’ Snoopy complains in 1971. ‘this stupid war is too much.’  Readers got the message:  Schultz supported the fighting man, but not the war.  The soldiers in Asia got it too.

(8) STRACZYNSKI BOOK LAUNCH. J. Michael Straczynski will do a Zoom book launch for his new non-sf novel Together We Will Go on Tuesday, July 6 at 5:30 p.m. Central. Free to attend, registration required. Register here.

Known for his groundbreaking work across television, comics, films, and more, award-winning and bestselling author J. Michael Straczynski joins us to celebrate the publication day of Together We Will Go (Gallery/Scout Press), his stirring first foray into literary fiction. A powerful tale of a struggling young writer who assembles a busload of fellow disheartened people on a journey toward death, Together We Will Go grapples with the biggest questions of existence while finding small moments of the beauty in this world that often goes unnoticed. As Straczynski’s travelers cross state lines and complications to the initial plan arise, it becomes clear that this novel is as much about the will to live as the choice to end it—and that it’s a book readers will remember for a lifetime.

(9) THREE TAIKONAUTS REACH CHINA’S SPACE STATION. AP News covers the moment as “Chinese crew enters new space station on 3-month mission”.

Three Chinese astronauts arrived Thursday at China’s new space station at the start of a three-month mission, marking another milestone in the country’s ambitious space program.

Their Shenzhou-12 craft connected with the space station module about six hours after taking off from the Jiuquan launch center on the edge of the Gobi Desert.

About three hours later, commander Nie Haisheng, 56, followed by Liu Boming, 54, and space rookie Tang Hongbo, 45, opened the hatches and floated into the Tianhe-1 core living module. Pictures showed them busy at work unpacking equipment.

“This represents the first time Chinese have entered their own space station,” state broadcaster CCTV said on its nightly news broadcast.

The crew will carry out experiments, test equipment, conduct maintenance and prepare the station for receiving two laboratory modules next year. The mission brings to 14 the number of astronauts China has launched into space since 2003, becoming only the third country after the former Soviet Union and the United States to do so on its own.

(10) MORE POWER. Netflix dropped a trailer for How I Became a Superhero. Airs July 9.

Who are the real superheroes? In a world where humans and superheroes coexist, a lone wolf cop teams up with a brilliant detective to dismantle a dark organization trafficking superpowers.

(11) REH IN THE COMICS. The Cromcast: A Weird Fiction Podcast lets you listen in to a panel from the recent get-together in Cross Plains: “Howard Days 2021 – REH in the Comics!”

This conversation from Friday, June 11th, at the First United Methodist Church in Cross Plains, Texas. The panel focuses on the history of Robert E. Howard’s characters and stories presented in a comic book format. Mark Finn moderates Roy Thomas, Fred Blosser, Patrice Louinet, and Jay Zetterberg. 

(12) REBORN SERIES CONTINUES. Jenna Greene is a teacher and author whose novel, Reborn, won the 2019 Moonbeam Children’s Book award. She is the co-host of Quill & Ink: A Podcast for Book Lovers.

In Reborn, a character tries to escape her fate:

The marks on Lexil’s skin state she is a Reborn – someone who has lived before. As such, she must toil in service to those who have only one chance at life. Sold at auction, she is fearful but accepting of her new life. Everything changes when she must save a young child from a fate worse than death.

With the help of a new ally named Finn, she flees to the Wastelands. There she struggles to survive, while discovering more about herself, the world, and what it truly means to be Reborn.

Now, in the series’ second book, Renew, Lexil and Finn are forced to venture back into the Wastelands:

The Unclaimed Cities are not the idyllic setting Lexil, Finn, and Ceera thought it would be. This new land has challenges of its own – which they soon discover.

When Lexil and Finn return to the Wastelands, they are accompanied by Kaylen, someone they can’t decide is a friend or foe.

(13) MEMORY JOGGER. B-Side Books from Columbia University Press has some writers you’ve heard of advocating for books they hope you’ll love, too. Got to love this cover, anyway!

…What do you do when a book that you love has been neglected or dismissed by everyone else? In B-Side Books, leading writers, critics, and scholars show why their favorite forgotten books deserve a new audience. From dusty westerns and far-out science fiction to obscure Czech novelists and romance-novel precursors, the contributors advocate for the unsung virtues of overlooked books. They write about unheralded novels, poetry collections, memoirs, and more with understanding, respect, passion, and love.

In these thoughtful, often personal essays, contributors—including Stephanie Burt, Caleb Crain, Merve Emre, Ursula K. Le Guin, Carlo Rotella, and Namwali Serpell—read books by writers such as Helen DeWitt, Shirley Jackson, Stanislaw Lem, Dambudzo Marechera, Paule Marshall, and Charles Portis.

(14) BIG FANS OF BUGS. “Entomologists discover dozens of new beetle species—and name some after iconic sci-fi heroines”Phys.org has the story.

… Fast forward to now and there are thousands of ambrosia beetle species, including more than 70 of the Coptoborus genus—and counting. In christening the new beetles, Smith and Cognato got some inspiration by finding similarities between the beetle and its namesake.

For instance, the C. uhura was given its name because its reddish color, reminiscent of the uniform worn by Nichelle Nichols’s Uhura character in the original “Star Trek” TV series.

And Sigourney Weaver’s Ellen Ripley character in the “Alien” film franchise had a shaved head in the movie “Alien 3.” One of the beetles, now named C. ripley, was also glabrous, or without hair.

Other names were selected because the duo just liked the characters and found them inspiring. For example, the C. scully beetle was named after Dana Scully, Gillian Anderson’s character on “The X-Files.”

The character is also behind what’s known as the “Scully Effect.” By showing a successful female scientist on TV, the show helped raise awareness of science, technology, engineering and mathematics—or STEM—professions among young women.

In their paper, Smith and Cognato wrote, “We believe in the ‘Scully Effect’ and hope future female scientists, real and fictional, continue to inspire children and young adults to pursue STEM careers.”…

(15) VIDEO OF THE DAY. And here’s “How The Falcon And The Winter Soldier Should Have Ended”.

[Thanks to Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, Martin Morse Wooster, Cora Buhlert, Moshe Feder, JJ, Michael Toman, John King Tarpinian, and Cat Eldridge for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to contributing editor of the day Jim Janney.]

Pixel Scroll 5/14/21 I Plan To Read All The Hugo Nominees Tonight, Said Tom Swiftly.

(1) AN ALIEN STUDY. Charlie Jane Anders tells what problems are caused when TV aliens are just minority groups given forehead bumps: “Star Trek, Star Wars reveal the cultural minefield of inventing aliens” at Polygon.

… Alien characters don’t just entertain us with their strange and unfamiliar ways — they also reflect our humanity back to us. Science fiction is all about exploring what it means to be human, and we can do that more easily by comparing ourselves against the alien characters we love or hate. This works a couple of different ways for writers:

  1. You can create alien characters who act human in many ways, except for a few major differences — and those differences can provide a contrast that reveals something about that human-seeming behavior.
  2. You can take one aspect of human behavior and exaggerate it until it becomes a defining characteristic, which lets viewers see its importance and its drawbacks more clearly.

Human-with-a-difference aliens can be an awesome thing — as anyone who’s ever been at a convention with a hundred people dressed as Klingons and Vulcans can attest. But there’s a drawback: the same thing that lets these alien characters reveal essential truths about human beings also risks turning them into reflections of our worst ideas about our fellow humans. Sometimes that almost-but-not-quite-human thing can reflect noxious stereotypes, or present one-dimensional images that we can then turn around and project onto real people….

(2) UNDERGROUND RAILROAD. In the Washington Post, Ann Hornaday interviews Barry Jenkins about directing The Underground Railroad which just dropped on Amazon Prime. “With ‘The Underground Railroad,’ Barry Jenkins looks squarely at Black trauma”.

…For the most part, he didn’t. If anything, Jenkins’s version of “The Underground Railroad” is most startling for its implacable realism.

“Colson and I actually talked about this right at the beginning,” Jenkins explains. “He said, ‘You know, there’s a version of this where it’s all leather and steampunk and I don’t think we want to do that.’ And I was like, ‘No. We don’t want to do that.’?”

Invoking the corroded, retro-futuristic design of Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s steampunk classic “The City of Lost Children,” he expands on the point. “I said to my production designer, ‘I don’t want CGI trains, I don’t want CGI tunnels. The trains have to be real, the tunnels have to be real.’?”

Indeed, Jenkins was so committed to photorealistic style in “The Underground Railroad” that he wrote an entire new chapter for the series, which turned out to be too expensive to film. He and co-writer Nathan Parker came up with “Genesis,” the story of Black miners who are buried after a methane explosion; when the mine’s owner decides against rescuing them to recoup their life insurance policies, “the men start digging. .?.?. And when they come aboveground, they’re on the other side of the Mason-Dixon [line]. And rather than stay aboveground, they go back down. And that’s how the underground railroad begins. .?.?. It’s not about steampunk. People aren’t going to levitate. We’re going to build myth out of rock and bone.”…

(3) NEW EDEN. Netflix dropped a trailer for Eden, a new anime series.

(4) THE PEDESTRIAN. Urban Archive traces the route of “A Night with the Missus: H.P. Lovecraft in Greenwich Village” with historic photos.

Horror writer H.P. Lovecraft lived in New York City between 1924 and 1926. One of his favorite pastimes was searching neighborhoods for buildings or structures dating from the eighteenth-century or embracing its styles. Lovecraft’s literary friends often served as his trusted companions in urban exploration. He also enjoying experiencing New York with his wife, Sonia H. Greene. In August 1924, Greene and Lovecraft shared an evening stroll through Greenwich Village. This excursion introduced Lovecraft to “more of the ancient New-York” than any of his other “numerous pilgrimages.”

…Greene and Lovecraft next ventured to Patchin Place. Gazing down this cul-de-sac, Lovecraft imagined that he had stepped into his beloved colonial American past. He was transfixed by an antique streetlamp in the pocket neighborhood. The lamp’s “pale beams cast alluring shadows of archaic things half of the imagination.” Poet e.e. cummings lived at Patchin Place at this time. Coincidentally, cummings and Lovecraft’s literary circles soon would intersect.

Incidentally, sff writer Charles Platt once lived in the Patchin neighborhood and gave its name to his short-lived magazine The Patchin Review, now collected in an ebook available as a free download from Dave Langford’s unofficial TAFF site (donation appreciated).

(5) BARROWMAN APOLOGY. CinemaBlend quotes John Barrowman’s apology: “Doctor Who’s John Barrowman Issues Apology After Flashing Allegations Resurface”

Public interest in the claims of John Barrowman exposing his genitals on the sets of Doctor Who and Torchwood was reignited by the recent allegations of misconduct against actor Noel Clarke, who was also on the series around the same time. Allegations made years prior by various cast members (including Clarke) claimed that Barrowman would randomly expose himself on set and even hit cast members with his penis at random.

The Guardian then spoke to several sources who then confirmed John Barrowman repeatedly exposed himself on set, though not in a manner that one would perceive as sexual. One woman, who had her name changed for the article, stated that while Barrowman exposing himself to her and others on set made her uncomfortable, there was never a time in which it happened that she felt unsafe. While Barrowman’s lawyers said he “could not recall” specific instances mentioned in the article, the actor did give a statement apologizing for any resurfaced claims and new ones from his early years on the show:

With the benefit of hindsight, I understand that upset may have been caused by my exuberant behaviour and I have apologised for this previously. Since my apology in November 2008, my understanding and behaviour have also changed.

… Earlier this week ITV declined to confirm if Mr Barrowman would continue as a judge on Dancing On Ice, saying decisions about the next series’ line-up had yet to be made.

(6) TORCHWOOD IS LIGHTS OUT. Big Finish won’t release a story Barrowman voiced: “John Barrowman: Release of new Torchwood audio story scrapped” reports BBC.

An audio story featuring John Barrowman as Captain Jack Harkness, his character from Doctor Who and spin-off Torchwood, has been pulled from release.

It follows allegations that in the past the actor repeatedly exposed himself while filming the TV shows.

Mr Barrowman has previously apologised for his behaviour.

Torchwood: Absent Friends was made by Big Finish, the company licensed by the BBC to produce official Doctor Who and Torchwood audio plays.

It was due to be released this month. In it, Captain Jack was due to be reunited with the Doctor, voiced by David Tennant, who played the character on TV between 2005-2010.

A Big Finish spokesperson said: “We have no plans to publish this title at this time.”…

(7) R.H.I.P. Emily Temple Google-searched 275 famous books that came to mind and turned it into an imprecise ranking for Literary Hub: “What Are the Most Discussed Books on the Internet?” Not ‘til you get to #31 do her sff picks rise above the event horizon.

…This number, by the way, is an estimate—a Google Webmaster described it as “a ballpark figure,” but it may be even less accurate than that. Even the estimate can vary a lot, based on a whole host of different factors, like where you are and what else you’ve searched for (in your whole entire life). But even if the numbers themselves are approximate, they may still have relative meaning, especially when accessed from the same computer, using the same browser, on the same day: at the very least, they should be able to tell us, in a general way, which books have been referenced more or less than others online.

It’s important to remember that this is not exactly the same as true popularity—plenty of bestsellers, especially older bestsellers, published when the internet was less of a driving force in book marketing, were relatively low-ranked here….

Here’s an excerpt — #31-37 on the list:

Suzanne Collins, The Hunger Games – 2,080,000
James Joyce, Ulysses – 1,850,000
Margaret Atwood, The Handmaid’s Tale – 1,800,000
Charles Dickens, David Copperfield – 1,780,000
Lewis Carroll, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland – 1,630,000
Barack Obama, A Promised Land – 1,610,000
Ray Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451 – 1,600,000

(8) MEDIA ANNIVERSARY.

  • May 14, 1996 Doctor Who aired on the Fox Television Network in the United States. Starring Paul McGann as the Eighth Doctor, Sylvester McCoy briefly as the Seventh Doctor, Daphne Ashbrook as Grace Holloway and Eric Roberts as The Master. It was directed by Geoffrey Sax off a script by Matthew Jacobs. It was intended as a pilot to an American-produced and -based Who series but internal politics at BBC killed it off. Some critics loved, some hated it; and the audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes gave it a decent forty eight percent rating.  He has since reprised the role, briefly in video form in the BBC series and quite extensively in audio form for Big Finish. 

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]

  • Born May 14, 1848 – Albert Robida.  French illustrator, etcher, lithographer, caricaturist, novelist.  Edited and published Caricature magazine; 520 illustrations for Pierre Giffard’s weekly serial The Infernal War; 60,000 during AR’s life.  In The Twentieth Century (1882; set in 1952), War in the Twentieth Century (1887), Electric Life (1890), five more, imagined technological developments e.g. the telephonoscope whose flat-screen display shows news, plays, conferences, 24 hours a day; here’s an aerial rotating house.  Illustrated Cyrano de Bergerac, Rabelais, Swift.  Clock of the CenturiesThe End of Books (with Octave Uzanne); The Long-Ago Is With Us TodayIn 1965.  (Died 1926) [JH]
  • Born May 14, 1853 – Sir Thomas Henry Hall Caine (known as “Hall Caine”).  Novelist, dramatist, short-story writer, poet, critic.  Secretary to Dante Gabriel RossettiRecollections of Rossetti (rev. 1928).  Son of a Manxman, moved there, elected to its legislature; Bram Stoker dedicated Dracula to him in Manx.  The Christian, first novel in Britain to sell a million copies; a score more novels, as many plays, four films (plus more made from his books); The Supernatural in Shakespere (HC’s spelling), The Supernatural Element in Poetry, a score more books of non-fiction; ten million books sold.  Went to Russia, Morocco, Iceland, Egypt.  Sixty thousand people at his funeral.  (Died 1931) [JH] 
  • Born May 14, 1929 – George Scithers.  Two Hugos for his fanzine Amra.  Chaired three Disclaves and the 21st Worldcon; Fan Guest of Honor at the 2nd NASFiC (North America SF Con, since 1975 held when the Worldcon is overseas) and the 59th Worldcon; frequent chair of the annual WSFS (World SF Soc.) Business Meeting.  Served as President of WSFA (Washington, D.C., SF Ass’n) and Official Arbiter of The Cult (an apa famous in song and story).  First editor of Asimov’s, two Hugos as Best Pro Editor.  Perpetrated the Scithers SFL (Science Fiction League) Hoax.  Revived Weird Tales (with John Betancourt), World Fantasy special award for it (with Darrell Schweitzer).  World Fantasy lifetime-achievement award.  (Died 2010) [JH]
  • Born May 14, 1933 – Ron Bennett.  British fanwriter, collector, publisher, used-book dealer, even while living in Singapore. TAFF (Trans-Atlantic Fan Fund) delegate; trip report Colonial Excursion.  Chaired Eastercon 13, ran the Dealers’ Room at the 45th Worldcon.  Member variously of OMPA (Off-trails Magazine Publishers Ass’n, serving awhile as its Official Editor), FAPA (Fantasy Am. Press Ass’n), The Cult; best-known fanzines, Skyrack (rhyming with “beer hack” because, as RB well knew, it meant shire oak, but what a name), Ploy.  (Died 2006) [JH]
  • Born May 14, 1944 George Lucas, 77. For better and worse I suppose, he created  the Star Wars and Indiana Jones franchises. (Raiders of the Lost Ark and Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade are fine. I adore the original Trilogy.) And let’s not forget THX 1138. My fav works that he was involved in? LabyrinthRaiders of the Lost Ark, The Empire Strikes Back and Willow. Oh, and and The Young Indiana Jones series. (CE) 
  • Born May 14, 1945 Rob Tapert, 76. I’d say he’s best known for co-creating Xena: Warrior Princess. He also produced and/or wrote several other television series including Hercules: The Legendary JourneysM.A.N.T.I.S. and American Gothic. Tapert also co-created the prequel series Young Hercules which I loved. He’s married to actress Lucy Lawless. (CE) 
  • Born May 14, 1952 Kathleen Ann Goonan. Her Nanotech Quartet is most excellent, particularly the first novel, Queen City Jazz. Her only Award was given for In War Times which garnered a John W. Campbell Memorial Award. She’s wrote an interesting essay on the relationship between sf and music, “Science Fiction and All That Jazz”. (Died 2021.) (CE) 
  • Born May 14, 1952 Robert Zemeckis, 69. He’s responsible for some of my favorite films including the Back to the Future trilogy, The Muppet Christmas CarolThe WitchesWho Framed Roger Rabbit and the savagely funny Death Becomes Her. What’s your favorite films that’s he had a hand in? (CE) 
  • Born May 14, 1953 – Kerryn Goldsworthy, Ph.D., age 68.  Taught at Univ. Melbourne.  Free lance since 1997.  Pascall Prize, Horne Prize.  She edited Australian Book Review, “learning more about human nature in those two years than in either the preceding thirty-three or the following nineteen.”  Anthologies outside our field e.g. Coast to CoastAustralian Women’s Stories. [JH]
  • Born May 14, 1956 – Gillian Bradshaw, age 65.  A score of novels for us; outside our field, historical fiction set in ancient Egypt, Rome, the Byzantine Empire (she won the Phillips Prize for Classical Greek while at Univ. Michigan).  Married a British mathematical-physics professor (and Ig Nobel Prize winner), has judged the Inst. Physics’ Paperclip Physics competition.  [JH]
  • Born May 14, 1965 — Eoin Colfer, 56. He is best known for being the author of the Artemis Fowl series. (OGH)

(10) CATCH ‘EM AND BRAWL. “Target pulls Pokemon cards from stores, citing threat to workers and customers”CBS News has details.

Target is pulling in-store sales of popular trading cards, citing employee safety, after a parking lot brawl in one of its stores last week. The retailer told CBS MoneyWatch it would no longer sell Pokemon and sports trading cars in its physical locations starting Friday.

“The safety of our guests and our team is our top priority. Out of an abundance of caution, we’ve decided to temporarily suspend the sale of MLB, NFL, NBA and Pokemon trading cards within our stores, effective May 14. Guests can continue to shop these cards online at Target.com,” a Target spokesperson said in a statement.

… Target last month limited card sales to three packs per person per day, then to one pack per day. But the policy led to even more frenzied speculation with some shoppers camping out outside the stores before they opened.

Last week, a shopper leaving a Target store in Wisconsin was attacked by three men in the parking lot, leading the victim to pull out his gun and neighboring stores to impose momentary lockdowns. No shots were fired, and the victim suffered only minor injuries, according to reports. It’s unclear which type of trading card was the cause of the scuffle.

(11) KEEPING TABS. The Otherwise Award put together a post about what its past winners had published in 2020: “Eligible for nomination: 2020 books & stories by past Otherwise winners”. The first two entries on the lengthy list are –

Eleanor Arnason, 1991 winner for A Woman of the Iron People, published the short story “Tunnels” in Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine on May 1, 2020. You can buy that issue on Magzter.

Maureen McHugh, 1992 winner for China Mountain Zhang, published the short story Yellow and the Perception of Reality in July 2020. You can read it for free on Tor.com.

(12) OCTOTHORPE. In episode 31 of the Octothorpe podcast, “If I Set Fire to Alison”, “John [Coxon] has bad Internet, Alison [Scott] is monologuing, and Liz [Batty] is the long-suffering one.” Make of that what you will. The episode outline says there’s a discussion of Worldcon bids and the business meeting in the middle.

(13) STASIS. Kate Washington tells about “Rereading The Phantom Tollbooth in This Year of Our Pandemic Doldrums” at Literary Hub.

In The Phantom Tollbooth, Milo—the child-hero driving through a world of word and number play—accidentally enters a low, dull place. The world loses all its color, everything becoming “grayer and monotonous.” He feels drowsy, his car won’t move, and finally he comes to a dead stop. He has strayed into this land of stasis by failing to pay attention to where he’s going, and, an inhabitant tells him slowly, it’s called The Doldrums: “‘The Doldrums, my young friend, are where nothing ever happens and nothing ever changes.’”

Its inhabitants, the Lethargarians, are firmly wedded to their torpor, sticking to a strict schedule of doing nothing at all and telling Milo that thinking is against the law (“Ordinance 175389-J: It shall be unlawful, illegal, and unethical to think, think of thinking, surmise, presume, reason, meditate, or speculate while in the Doldrums”). When Milo objects that everyone thinks, they shoot back that most of the time, in fact, people don’t, and in fact that’s why Milo is in the Doldrums….

(14) HE’S GOT A TICKET TO RIDE. “Japanese Tycoon Planning Space Station Visit, Then Moon Trip”US News has the story.

“Going to the ISS before the Moon,” Yusaku Maezawa announced Thursday via Twitter.

Maezawa has bought two seats on a Russian Soyuz capsule. He’ll blast off in December on the 12-day mission with his production assistant and a professional cosmonaut.

“I’m so curious, ‘What’s life like in space?’ So, I am planning to find out on my own and share with the world,” Maezawa said in a statement.

He’ll be the first person to pay his own way to the space station in more than a decade, according to Virginia-based Space Adventures, which brokered the deal. A Space Adventures spokeswoman declined to divulge the cost. The company has sent seven other tourists to the space station, from 2001 to 2009.

Maezawa’s trip to the moon aboard Elon Musk’s Starship is tentatively scheduled for 2023. He’ll fly around the moon — not land — with eight contest winners.

(15) A FIVE-YEAR MISSION. And this one’s going to be completed. “NASA’s OSIRIS-REx Spacecraft Heads for Earth with Asteroid Sample” reports the space agency.

After nearly five years in space, NASA’s Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, Security, Regolith Explorer (OSIRIS-REx) spacecraft is on its way back to Earth with an abundance of rocks and dust from the near-Earth asteroid Bennu.

On Monday, May 10, at 4:23 p.m. EDT the spacecraft fired its main engines full throttle for seven minutes – its most significant maneuver since it arrived at Bennu in 2018. This burn thrust the spacecraft away from the asteroid at 600 miles per hour (nearly 1,000 kilometers per hour), setting it on a 2.5-year cruise towards Earth.

After releasing the sample capsule, OSIRIS-REx will have completed its primary mission. It will fire its engines to fly by Earth safely, putting it on a trajectory to circle the sun inside of Venus’ orbit.

After orbiting the Sun twice, the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft is due to reach Earth Sept. 24, 2023. Upon return, the capsule containing pieces of Bennu will separate from the rest of the spacecraft and enter Earth’s atmosphere. The capsule will parachute to the Utah Test and Training Range in Utah’s West Desert, where scientists will be waiting to retrieve it.

(16) TODAY’S THING TO WORRY ABOUT. Popular Mechanics gets the internet clicking with its post “Russia Is Going to Try to Clone an Army of 3,000-Year-Old Scythian Warriors”.

When you hold a job like Defense Minister of Russia, you presumably have to be bold and think outside the box to protect your country from enemy advances. And with his latest strategic idea—cloning an entire army of ancient warriors—Sergei Shoigu is certainly taking a big swing.

In an online session of the Russian Geographical Society last month, Shoigu, a close ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin, suggested using the DNA of 3,000-year-old Scythian warriors to potentially bring them back to life. Yes, really.

First, some background: The Scythian people, who originally came from modern-day Iran, were nomads who traveled around Eurasia between the 9th and 2nd centuries B.C., building a powerful empire that endured for several centuries before finally being phased out by competitors. Two decades ago, archaeologists uncovered the well-preserved remains of the soldiers in a kurgan, or burial mound, in the Tuva region of Siberia….

Shoigu subtly suggested going through some kind of human cloning process. But is that even possible?

To date, no one has cloned a human being. But scientists have successfully executed the therapeutic cloning of individual kinds of cells and other specific gene-editing work, and of course, there are high-profile examples of cloning pretty complex animals. Earlier this year, for example, scientists cloned an endangered U.S. species for the first time: a black-footed ferret whose donor has been dead for more than 30 years.

…But let’s say Russia ignores all legality in favor of Shoigu’s big plans. In that case, scientists would have to develop a way to lift out the human nucleus without damaging the cell beyond repair.

Scientists have cloned certain monkeys, so primates are at least hypothetically still in the mix, despite the spindle proteins. But the success rate even for non-primate clones is already very low—it took Dolly the sheep’s research team 277 attempts to get a viable embryo.

And what if all of that went perfectly? Well, the Scythians were powerful warriors and gifted horsemen, but scientists—or the Kremlin—must carefully monitor a cloned baby version of a deceased adult warrior for illnesses and other prosaic childhood problems. Who will raise these children? Who will be legally responsible for their wellbeing?

(17) VIDEO OF THE DAY. “The Mandalorian Theme U.S. Army Band” on YouTube shows that the U.S. Army Band (Pershing’s Own) celebrated Star Wars Day with their version of the theme from The Mandalorian.

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

Pixel Scroll 3/12/21 All Unshielded Surfaces

(1) 2021 FAAN VOTING DEADLINE. FAAn Awards Administrator Nic Farey reminds everyone that today is the last day of voting – it closes tonight — March 12 — at midnight Pacific time. Guidelines and the ballot are available in The Incompleat Register 2020 [PDF file]

(2) SOLVING FOR PIE. Scott Edelman invites listeners to “Grab a slice of pie with Gil Roth” on Episode 140 of his Eating the Fantastic podcast.

Gil Roth

I’ve been wanting to bring Gil to you for awhile, and had been hoping we’d be able to sneak away for a meal during either Readercon or the Small Press Expo, but neither occurred last year, at least not outside of a virtual space, and both will be virtual again this year. So as you listen, I’d like you to think of yourself as being with us at one of those cons, and tagging along as we head off to chat and chew.

We discussed his surprising (and my unsurprising ) guest with the greatest number of downloads, the advice John Crowley gave him about his potential writing career, how a guy who used to memorize X-Men comics got turned on to Love & Rockets, the way we process the deaths of former guests, the song he wants played at his memorial service, how to get often-interviewed guests not to regurgitate their favorite soundbites, why no comic book movie beats the first Superman, how he became the publisher of every letter Samuel R. Delany wrote in 1984, why during his days reviewing for The Comics Journal readers thought he was the secret identity of another writer, the Italo Calvino quote which has kept him going through the pandemic, and much more.

(3) YOUR IMAGINARY FRIENDS WHO WANT A PERCENTAGE. Victoria Strauss posted another Scam Alert at Writer Beware: “Paper Bytes Marketing Solutions and its Stable of Imaginary Agents”.

…To go with its brand-new name, Paper Bytes has initiated a brand new scam: a stable of imaginary literary agents. It’s an unusually detailed endeavor, with actual websites for each agent (albeit not very good ones) that include photos–some stock, some stolen–as well as made-up bios and false claims about who/what they represent. All share the email address @bookliteraryagent.com, which no doubt is convenient for the interchangeable roster of Paper Bytes marketers who inhabit these agent personas, but also makes them easier to track and expose.

I’ll list them all below. But first, How It All Works!…

…How to protect yourself?

1. Know how things work in the publishing world. Real literary agents don’t sell services to potential clients, or refer them to companies that do. Real agents don’t commonly contact writers out of the blue. The warnings at the Writer Beware website can help you recognize non-standard or predatory practices.

(4) ZIGGY STARDUST’S BROTHER BIGGY? Mental Floss recalls when “David Bowie Tried to Turn George Orwell’s ‘1984’ Into a Musical”.

The track list for David Bowie’s 1974 album Diamond Dogs offers a couple obvious clues about one source of inspiration: song titles include both “1984” and “Big Brother.” But Bowie didn’t just want to use themes from George Orwell’s 1984 on the record. As Open Culture reports, he initially hoped to turn the 1949 dystopian classic into a full-fledged musical of its own.

https://www.youtube.com/embed/x2xfpMMQIJ8 What form that musical was ultimately meant to take isn’t totally clear. According to Christopher Sandford’s biography Bowie: Loving the Alien, the adaptation would’ve been “a West End musical, with an accompanying album and film.” But in a Rolling Stone interview with William S. Burroughs from February 1974—just months before the release of Diamond Dogs—Bowie himself mentioned he was “doing Orwell’s 1984 on television.” It’s possible the project went through several iterations when the “Space Oddity” singer was still brainstorming it. But thanks to Orwell’s widow, Sonia (believed to be the basis for 1984‘s Julia), the musical never progressed past the incubation stage.

“My office approached Mrs. Orwell, because I said, ‘Office, I want to do 1984 as a musical, go get me the rights,’” Bowie explained in 1993, according to David Buckley’s Strange Fascination: David Bowie, the Definitive Story. “And they duly trooped off to see Mrs. Orwell, who in so many words said, ‘You’ve got to be out of your gourd, do you think I’m turning this over to that as a musical?’ So, they came back and said, ‘Sorry, David, you can’t write it.’” Since Bowie had already started “putting bits of it down” in the studio, the surprise rejection forced him to pivot quickly. His ill-fated musical became a concept album with Orwellian overtones.

(5) IT’S NEWS TO SOMEBODY. The publication of Matthew Yglesias’ article “Oh, the intellectual property rights you’ll extend” at Slow Boring has caught up with the already-played-out week-old Twitterstorm. Nevertheless, at the link you can read him make a case about copyright law, triggered by the Dr. Seuss controversy. 

…Regardless, under U.S. law, the copyrights last for the duration of their creator’s life plus 70 years — i.e., until 2061.

That’s a big change from how we did things in the Founders’ era, when copyrights lasted 14 years with an option to renew the copyright for an additional 14 years.

Since then, not only has Congress repeatedly extended the duration of copyright terms, they’ve even extended them retroactively, basically preventing Mickey Mouse (created in 1928) or Superman (created in 1938) from ever entering the public domain the way that 19th century characters like Frankenstein1 or Sherlock Holmes have.

I bring this all up because I think it’s relevant policy context for the recent controversy over Seuss Enterprises withdrawing six books from publication that were deemed problematic. Right-wing agitators have responded to this as if it’s the government censoring Dr. Seuss, and so out of solidarity with Dr. Seuss, they are buying non-canceled classics like “Green Eggs and Ham” in droves. But this is just not factual. Dr. Seuss has been dead for nearly 30 years. His heirs — likely these two stepdaughters, though that’s not entirely clear — canceled the books, and now are the ones reaping the financial rewards from the backlash to their own actions….

(6) BEHIND WANDAVISION. Marvel Entertainment dropped a trailer for “Marvel Studios’ Assembled: The Making of WandaVision”, a behind the scenes look at the series.

(7) MORE BINDING. The Verge reports on a trend toward “Making fanfiction beautiful enough for a bookshelf”.

… Lesure spends hours making sure each book looks unique and regal, but she has to be careful not to use any specific imagery that could land her in trouble.

That’s because the books Lesure crafts contain works of fanfiction, and she’s found an entire community of avid readers looking to turn their unauthorized digital favorites into physical treats.

Nothing about the process is simple. There are “literally hundreds of moments where I could do something wrong and everything falls to shambles,” Lesure, a student who started bookbinding during a gap year in 2019, told The Verge. Her process includes typesetting, redoing the typesetting, doing that again and again until it’s right, printing, folding, sewing, making the cover, and finally putting it all together.

Fanfiction has traditionally been confined to online sites like Archive of Our Own (AO3) and FanFiction.Net, but some of the most prolific artists within the space have found a way to help people enjoy their favorite titles in new ways: binding the stories into physical novels designed to read better and stand out on bookshelves. The crafts have helped bring some of the most popular unofficial stories set in Harry PotterStar Wars, and other universes onto shelves where they can sit right alongside their authorized counterparts.

(8) OUR BRIGHT FUTURE. The New York Times takes stock of the city’s inescapable barrage of LED sign advertising: “Am I in Manhattan? Or Another Sequel to ‘Blade Runner’?”

…Adrian Benepe, the former New York City Parks Commissioner and current head of the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, sees “creeping Blade Runner syndrome” everywhere, from the clogged skies over Manhattan to the subways, which he rides to work every day from his home on the Upper West Side.

“They’re empty,” Mr. Benepe said. “I’ve been alone many times at rush hour. It’s eerie as hell.” He also finds the movie prescient in its depiction of a world saturated by intrusive, omnipresent advertising.

“Places in New York that used to not have advertising now have ads,” he said. “You can’t get away from it. It’s in the subways, it’s on the streets, it’s on barges. You never stop being assailed.”

Giant screens are nothing new, of course. But New York’s streetscape had been permeated as never before with twitchy, adhesively catchy LEDs, a trend that has only accelerated during the pandemic, with the Metropolitan Transportation Authority announcing last summer the addition of 9,000 screens broadcasting “Covid-relevant safety information.”

(9) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

  • March 12, 1927 –On this day in 1927, Metropolis premiered in Germany. It was directed by Fritz Lang. It was written by Thea von Harbou in collaboration with Lang. It  stars Gustav Fröhlich, Alfred Abel, Rudolf Klein-Rogge and Brigitte Helm. The film’s message is encapsulated in the final inter-title of “The Mediator Between the Head and the Hands Must Be the Heart.” In 2001 the film was placed upon UNESCO’s Memory of the World Register, the first film so distinguished. It is considered one of the greatest films ever made, and has a 92% rating among audience members at Rotten Tomatoes.

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]

  • March 12, 1879 Alfred Abel. His best-known performance was as Joh Fredersen in Fritz Lang’s Metropolis.  It wasn’t his only genre as Phantom, a 1922 German film, was fantasy, and my German is just good enough for years I studied it to see how much of work could be considered genre or genre adjacent. (Died 1937.) (CE) 
  • March 12, 1886 Kay Nielsen. Though he’s best known for his work with Disney for whom he did many story sketches and illustrations, not least for Fantasia and The Little Mermaid be it thirty years after his death, I’d be remiss not to note his early work illustrating such works as East of the Sun and West of the MoonHansel and Gretel and Andersen’s Fairy Tales. (Died 1957.) (CE) 
  • Born March 12, 1911 – Edmund North.  Major in the U.S. Army Signal Corps during World War II.  Served a term as President of the screen branch of the Writers Guild of America.  A score of movies; co-winner of the Best Screenplay Oscar for Patton; for us, screenplay for The Day the Earth Stood Still – which, despite its staggering difference from Bates’ “Farewell to the Master”, I think a classic.  Coined Klaatu barada nikto.  (Died 1990) [JH]
  • March 12, 1914 John Symonds. Critic of Alistair Crowley who published four, yes four, books on him over a fifty year period starting in the Fifties: The Great BeastThe Magic of Aleister CrowleyThe King of the Shadow Realm and The Beast 666. Needless to say the advocates of Crowley aren’t at all happy with him. Lest I leave you with the impression that his only connection to our community, he was a writer of fantasy literature for children including the feline magical fantasy, Isle of Cats  with illustrations by Gerard Hoffnung. (Died 2006.) (CE) 
  • Born March 12, 1916 – Richard Dorson, Ph.D.  Pioneering and possibly great folklorist – thus our neighbor; pioneering because, in his day, commercial and even arguably artistic success of retellings like Davy Crockett and inventions like Paul Bunyan were clouding the mind.  Coined urban legend and fakelore.  General editor, Folktales of the World.  Two dozen books, including a 1939 one on Crockett; Folk Legends of JapanAfrican Folklore.  “Suspicious of attempts by other disciplines –anthropology, sociology, and psychology, among others – to co-opt folk culture for their own … purposes…. emphasized the necessity for the accurate collection and documentation of folk materials” (quoted from this).  (Died 1981) [JH]
  • March 12, 1925 Harry Harrison. Best known first I’d say for his Stainless Steel Rat and Bill, the Galactic Hero series which were just plain fun, plus his novel Make Room! Make Room! which was the genesis of Soylent Green. I just realized I’ve never read the Deathworld series. So how are these? See OGH’s post on the Alex Cox animated version of Bill, the Galactic Hero here. (Died 2012.) (CE)  
  • March 12, 1933 Barbara Feldon, 88. Agent 99 on the Get Smart series. Other genre credits include The Man from U.N.C.L.E. and reprising her character on the short-lived follow-up to this series, Get Smart, done twenty years later. She didn’t have that much of an acting career though she did show up in the pilot of Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In. (CE) 
  • Born March 12, 1936 – Virginia Hamilton.  National Book Award, Newbery Medal (first black to win it), Hans Andersen Award, Wilder Award.  Amer. Lib’y Ass’n King-Hamilton Award named for her (and Coretta Scott King).  Eight novels (including Willie Bea and the Time the Martians Landed), thirty shorter stories, four collections for us; twoscore books all told.  (Died 2002) [JH]
  • March 12, 1952 Julius Carry. His one truly great genre role was as the bounty hunter Lord Bowler in The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr. – oh, but what a role it was! Over the course of the series, he was the perfect companion and foil to Bruce Campbell’s Brisco County, Jr. character. He did have one-offs in The Misfits of Science, Earth 2Tales from the Crypt and voiced a character on Henson’s Dinosaurs. (Died 2008.) (CE) 
  • Born March 12, 1955 – Jim Mann, F.N., age 66.  Living in Pittsburgh, hard-working member of NESFA (New England SF Ass’n) for whose NESFA Press he has edited a dozen books including The Compleat Boucher and The Rediscovery of Man (Cordwainer Smith).  Chaired Boskone 25 (with wife Laurie Mann) and 47.  Fan Guest of Honor (with LM), ArmadilloCon 27.  Fellow of NESFA (service award).  [JH]
  • Born March 12, 1963 – David B. Coe, Ph.D., age 58.  A score of novels, as many shorter stories (some under another name). Crawford Award for LobTyn Chronicle (trilogy).  Reviews and Robots called Time’s Children Best Fantasy Novel of 2018.  Interviewed in Strange HorizonsTeleport.  “We … construct our worlds twice…. for ourselves [and] again … digestible and entertaining and unobtrusive, not to mention elegant, poetic, even exciting….  all the necessary material – and not an ounce more….  [after we] have unraveled their mysteries … decided which elements … are most important to our stories.”  [JH]
  • Born March 12, 1971 – Rob St. Martin, age 50.  Six novels, one novelette, anthology Ages of Wonder (with Julie Cznerneda).   Has read Pride and PrejudiceThe Phantom TollboothA Tale of Two CitiesMoby-DickRomeo and JulietCurious George.  [JH]

(11) COMICS SECTION.

(12) GUARDIAN ANGLE. Lisa Tuttle has a new installment of “The best recent science fiction and fantasy – reviews roundup” at The Guardian in which she reviews Skyward Inn by Aliya Whiteley; Birds of Paradise by Oliver K Langmead; The Echo Wife by Sarah Gailey; A History of What Comes Next by Sylvain Neuvel; and A Desolation Called Peace by Arkady Martine.

(13) GEARING UP. I’m always ready to read more about the Antikythera mechanism: “Scientists may have solved ancient mystery of ‘first computer’” in The Guardian.

…The battered fragments of corroded brass were barely noticed at first, but decades of scholarly work have revealed the object to be a masterpiece of mechanical engineering. Originally encased in a wooden box one foot tall, the mechanism was covered in inscriptions – a built-in user’s manual – and contained more than 30 bronze gearwheels connected to dials and pointers. Turn the handle and the heavens, as known to the Greeks, swung into motion.

Michael Wright, a former curator of mechanical engineering at the Science Museum in London, pieced together much of how the mechanism operated and built a working replica, but researchers have never had a complete understanding of how the device functioned. Their efforts have not been helped by the remnants surviving in 82 separate fragments, making the task of rebuilding it equivalent to solving a battered 3D puzzle that has most of its pieces missing.

Writing in the journal Scientific Reports, the UCL team describe how they drew on the work of Wright and others, and used inscriptions on the mechanism and a mathematical method described by the ancient Greek philosopher Parmenides, to work out new gear arrangements that would move the planets and other bodies in the correct way. The solution allows nearly all of the mechanism’s gearwheels to fit within a space only 25mm deep….

(14) ROCKET’S RED GLARE. “Green Run Update: NASA Targets March 18 for SLS Hot Fire Test – Artemis”.

NASA is targeting Thursday, March 18 for the second hot fire of the Space Launch System (SLS) rocket’s core stage at NASA’s Stennis Space Center near Bay St. Louis, Mississippi.

After performing tests to demonstrate that a recently repaired liquid oxygen pre-valve was working, the team has continued to prepare the core stage, its four RS-25 engines, and the B-2 test stand for the second hot fire at Stennis. Later this week, the team will power up the core stage again and do a final check of all its systems. Then, on March 16, two days before the test, they will power up the stage, starting the clock for the second hot fire….

(15) YOU ARE NUMBER SIX. Paul Weimer meets the challenge of reviewing the sixth book in a series: “Microreview [book]: Out Past the Stars by KB Wagers” at Nerds of a Feather.

… This is in many ways a very different book than the previous book, Down Among the Dead. Reading it in quick succession after the second book might give some emotional whiplash, it certainly is a gear shift. It’s much more like the first book of the Farian War trilogy, There Before the Chaos, in the sense that it builds up to a big set piece finale of a conflict. Unlike that first book, though, this book is much more about the action beats. 

This shows the range and power of the author across the three books, and sets them apart from the first trilogy as well, which is more adrenaline filled….

(16) TIGER TIGER. Elsewhere at Nerds of a Feather, Sean D assesses a novella by Aliette de Bodard: “Microreview [Book]: Fireheart Tiger by Aliette de Bodard”.

…This novella constantly shifts from plot point to plot point, that kept me on my toes without unmooring me into confusion. The craft involved with implementing poetic language that benefits the atmosphere, pacey scenes that never lose focus, and characters that I felt like I knew inside out by the story’s conclusion, deserves kudos. Mostly because the novella juggles a small, insulated cast of characters with subterfuges and violence that impact other kingdoms. Fireheart Tiger is like an expansive web that leaves the reader in the center of it, while also skillfully and pithily letting them know of all its disparate parts.

(17) ELDRITCH SCIENCE. The Late Show with Stephen Colbert couples an alarming report with a Cthulhu reference. “Quarantinewhile… Please Stop Reviving Ancient Pathogens From The Sea Floor”.

Quarantinewhile… In “Hey, maybe don’t do that” news, Japanese scientists are experimenting on 100-million-year-old bacteria that wake up from their slumber when brought to the surface and provided with food.

(18) PIPING AT THE GATES OF DAWN. And speaking of Lovecraft –

[Thanks To John King Tarpinian, Mike Kennedy, rcade, Nic Farey, Andrew Porter, Martin Morse Wooster, Michel Toman, JJ, Cat Eldridge, Rob Thornton, and John Hertz for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Anna Nimmhaus.]

Pixel Scroll 12/1/20 This Is Not
A Pixel To Be Put Aside Lightly…It Should Be Scrolled With Great Force

(1) TAKING THE LEAD. One of my favorite reviewers has been stepping up in her community, and has a book out encouraging others to do the same: “Why You Should Run For (Local) Office, by Adrienne Martini” at Whatever.

Author Adrienne Martini knows just a little about this: she ran for local office, and then chronicled the experience in her 2020 memoir Somebody’s Gotta Do It. Now she’s here to talk a little bit about that experience, and why it’s something you might consider thinking about as well.

(2) PLAYWRIGHTS SUMMONED. You have until January 15 to enter: “Accepting Submissions for 2021 Neukom Institute Literary Arts Awards”.

The Neukom Institute for Computational Science at Dartmouth College is accepting play submissions for the 2021 Neukom Institute Literary Arts Awards.

The fourth annual Neukom Award for Playwriting will consider full-length plays and other full-length works for the theater that address the question “What does it mean to be a human in a computerized world?”

Playwrights with either traditional or experimental theater pieces, including multimedia productions, are encouraged to submit works to the award program.

The award includes a $5,000 honorarium and support for a two-stage development process with table readings at local arts festivals. Works that have already received a full production are not eligible for the competition.

The deadline for all submissions is January 15, 2021. The awards will be announced in the spring of 2021.

(3) IT DOESN’T TAKE A WEATHERMAN. James Davis Nicoll lets his hair down in a Tor.com post “Five Hippie-ish SF Novels Inspired by Sixties Counterculture”. He starts with–

The Butterfly Kid by Chester Anderson (1967)

This book is set in an imagined futuristic New York, which oddly enough has remained stuck in an eternal 1960s. There’s still a vibrant hippie community in Greenwich Village. Youngsters from across square America travel to New York to discover themselves; there they are mentored (or at least observed) by old hands like Chester Anderson and his close friend Michael Kurland. This Greenwich Village is populated by nonconformists as eccentric as they are kind-hearted—for the most part.

The most notable exception is shameless grifter Laszlo Scott. For once, Scott’s most recent pharmaceutical offering is entirely authentic: his “Reality Pills” can make dreams real. The aliens supplying Scott have a malign intent: they may not want to actively unleash the heat rays, but they are counting on human nightmares to exterminate us all, leaving the world ripe for alien appropriation. Standing between humanity and certain doom: sixteen Greenwich Village potheads and hipsters. Two of whom are missing….

(4) A DECADE OF GOOD BOOKS. Happy birthday to the Fantasy-Faction review site – “Fantasy-Faction Turns 10! Help Us Spread the Love of Reading!” They’re asking fans to celebrate by contributing to organizations that support reading among the economically disadvantaged.  

…We couldn’t have made it ten years without all of you. And we can’t wait to see what the next ten years brings. Let’s close out this year of sadness and insanity with the best December this world has ever seen. Let’s give the gift of reading and share the love of fantasy, together!

(5) REEDPOP ABANDONS BOOK EXPO. “BookExpo and BookCon Are No More”Publishers Weekly attends the funeral.

U.S. book publishing’s biggest trade show is being “retired,” show organizer ReedPop announced today. BookExpo, along with BookCon and Unbound, will not be held in 2021 after being canceled in 2020 due to the pandemic.

ReedPop, the pop culture event–focused subdivision of Reed Exhibitions, said that, given the “continued uncertainty surrounding in-person events at this time,” the company has decided “that the best way forward is to retire the current iteration of events as they explore new ways to meet the community’s needs through a fusion of in-person and virtual events.”

In order to try to hold the event earlier this year, Reed moved the date from its usual spot at New York City’s Javits Center in late May to late July, but as the coronavirus continued to make larger meetings impossible, Reed cancelled the live conference and held six days of free virtual programming from May 26-31, the original dates of BookExpo and BookCon. 

…Reed Exhibitions’ convention business has been hammered by Covid-19. Through the first nine months of 2020, revenue was down 70%, parent company RELX reported. It expects full year revenue of £330m-£360 million and after a range of cost-lowering initiatives—including layoffs—total costs for the year are expected to be £530m-£540 million, excluding one-off costs related to restructuring and cancellations. Total Reed Exhibitions revenue in 2019 was £1.3 billion.

(6) ELDRITCH CHARITY APPEAL. Weird Providence asks for support on Giving Tuesday: “Lovecraft Arts and Sciences 2020 Fundraiser”.

…We at the Lovecraft Arts & Sciences Council work hard to bring people together from around the world, to cultivate a sense of community through exciting and unique programming, and to foster camaraderie among kindred souls. We strive to provide a welcoming home here in Providence for all members of the vibrant and diverse Weird community, and we’re proud of our success over the past eight years.

NecronomiCon 2019, our biggest event yet, saw over 2,000 folks gather in Providence to share their passion for the Weird. And our retail store continues to garner rave reviews as a “must-visit” and “treasure” for its unique selection and helpful staff. These are just a few ways that our organization enriches our city and the global Weird fiction community. 

Today, on this Giving Tuesday, we’re asking for your help. 

The Lovecraft Arts & Sciences Council is a nonprofit organization. We manage to do what we do with minimal staff – just two paid employees that help run our storefront in Providence. The rest of our operation relies on a squad of dedicated volunteers — of which I am one, squeezing in work for the organization between the tasks of my real job…. 

(7) ARECIBO OBSERVATORY DESTROYED. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] Sadly, the iconic radio telescope at the Arecibo Observatory has collapsed. The suspended platform at the focal point broke loose and crashed into the main reflector below. This follows earlier breaks in the supporting cables. Business Insider has the report: “The Arecibo telescope’s 900-ton platform has crashed into its disk below and destroyed the iconic radio observatory”.

The second-largest radio telescope in the world is no more.

The Arecibo Observatory’s 1,000-foot-diameter telescope collapsed at 8 a.m. Tuesday in Puerto Rico. The telescope’s 900-ton platform, which was suspended 450 feet in the air to send and receive radio waves, crashed into its disk below, pulling down with it the tops of three support towers.

(8) WHAT A TANGLED WEB WE WEAVE. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] Nicholas Barber, in the BBC story “How a Spider-Man musical became a theatrical disaster”, notes that Spider-Man: Turn Off The Dark had its first preview ten years ago.  Barber discusses the many reasons why this musical became one of Broadway’s biggest money-losers, including many failures of its special effects and the fact that composers Bono and the Edge had never heard a Broadway musical when they accepted the assignment to write the score and had to be sent an emergency care package of CDs with songs on them so they would know what to do.

It’s been 10 years since one of the most momentous nights of Glen Berger’s life. He was already an established off-Broadway playwright and children’s television writer, but on 28 November 2010, a musical he had scripted had its first preview at the Foxwoods Theatre in New York – and it was shaping up to be an international smash.

The musical was Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark. Its friendly neighbourhood title character had been a beloved pop-cultural icon for five decades, and had just featured in three Hollywood blockbusters. The songs were written by rock’n’roll royalty, U2’s Bono and The Edge. And the director was Julie Taymor, who had masterminded the record-breaking stage adaptation of Disney’s The Lion King. Turn Off the Dark couldn’t go far wrong with a pedigree like that. Could it?

Which is not to say that Berger wasn’t nervous. Speaking to BBC Culture from his home in upstate New York, he remembers how strange it felt to be unveiling something he and his collaborators had been devising together for years. “We were opening the door,” he says, “either to Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory or some sort of slaughterhouse.” The show relied on complicated aerial stunts in which the performers were suspended from wires, and so the first preview was bound to keep stopping and starting as technical hitches were addressed….

(9) HEADHUNTER THWARTED. TMZ, in the story “Darth Vader’s Original ‘Star Wars’ Helmet Stolen” says that Frank Hebert (note spelling) allegedly broke into Bad Robot Productions and left with a shopping cart full of Star Wars stuff, including an original Darth Vader helmet, but all the stolen stuff was returned.

…Law enforcement sources tell us … 38-year-old Frank Hebert was arrested Monday night after he allegedly broke into the Bad Robot Productions building in Santa Monica and made off with ‘Star Wars’ movie memorabilia … including Darth’s helmet.

We’re told cops responded to the scene and were told by security personnel that Hebert had been captured on surveillance video illegally entering the building through the rooftop, and casually walked out with a shopping cart full of stuff.

Our sources say cops quickly found a guy pushing a cart down the street not too far away, which we’re told was full of ‘Star Wars’ stuff — as in, original props used in the actual movies.

(10) NO DOUGHS. SYFY Wire sets the frame of this video designed to encourage charitable giving: “Broke Batman parody from Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. crew boosts COVID relief”.

The video is a way for Ward and the S.H.I.E.L.D. crew to raise awareness for a good cause: lending a financial hand to entertainment workers whose livelihoods have been affected by the pandemic-related shutdowns across the industry. Through the associated #fundthebat social media campaign, fans can chip in a little moolah to bolster the Motion Picture Television Fund’s Covid-19 Emergency Relief Fund. The clip links to a GoFundMe page where anyone can donate — regardless of which side they’re on in the Marvel-versus-DC debate.

The fund says it’s using “every dollar” contributed through the campaign to “support the thousands of out of work carpenters, hair stylists, drivers, make up artists, painters, set dressers, electricians, editors, grips, camera people, actors, writers and directors who created the shows and movies that have kept you entertained during this difficult time.”

(11) FANZINE FAN OBIT. Ansible® 401 released today relayed this notice from Robert Lichtman:

Miriam Dyches Carr Knight Lloyd, US fan active in the 1950s and 1960s with fanzines including various ‘Goojie Publications’ titles as Dyches or Carr, Klein Bottle and later issues of Fanac with her first husband Terry Carr, and A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Poughkeepsie with her second husband Frank Knight, died on 23 October.

(12) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

  • December 1, 1995The Adventures of Captain Zoom In Outer Space premiered on television. Directed by Max Tads from a script by Brian Levant, Rick Copp, and David A. Goodman, it starred Daniel Riordan, Ron Perlman, Nichelle Nichols, Liz Vassey and Gia Carides. It follows the adventures of Fifties actor Ty Farrell who plays the title character in a Captain Video-like program, The Adventures of Captain Zoom in Outer Space. Although you’ll find references on the net for a series having been made and for fans having seen it, there wasn’t such a series. Only the TV movie. Audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes give it a rating of, well, they don’t have a rating for it. 

(13) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]

  • Born December 1, 1886 — Rex Stout. ISFDB says his Nero Wolfe’s “The Affair of the Twisted Scarf” which was also published as “Disguise for Murder”” and also “Poison à la Carte” are SF. Now I’ve read each of them quite some years back but I don’t recall anything in them that makes them genre. Now I adore Nero Wolfe but never even thought of these novels as being genre adjacent. (Died 1975.) (CE) 
  • Born December 1, 1942 — John Crowley, 78. I’m tempted to say he’s a frelling literary genius and stop there but I won’t. Mythopoeic Fantasy Award and World Fantasy Award winning Little, Big is brilliant but if anything his crow centric novel of Ka: Dar Oakley in the Ruin of Ymr which received the Mythopoeic Fantasy Award makes that novel look like child’s play in comparison. Did you know he wrote a novella called The Girlhood of Shakespeare’s Heroines? Or Lord Byron’s Novel: The Evening Land, which contains an entire imaginary novel by the poet? (CE)
  • Born December 1, 1964 — Jo Walton, 56. She’s won the Astounding Award for Best New Writer, and the World Fantasy award for her novel Tooth and Claw in which dragons got positively and delightfully Victorian. Even if they eat each other.  Her Small Change trilogy may be the finest WW II novels I’ve read bar none, and her Sulien series is an excellent retelling of the Arthurian myth.  Among Others which won a Hugo and Nebula is she says about the “coming-of-age experience of having books instead of people for friends and solace”. I can relate to that as I imagine many here can too. (CE)
  • Born December 1, 1964 — Alisa Kwitney, 56. Daughter of Robert Sheckley and Ziva Kwitney. Editor, Vertigo Books. Contributing author, The Dreaming: Beyond The Shores of Night, set in Gaiman’s Sandman multiverse, scriptwriter for the Vertigo Visions: The Phantom Stranger graphic novel and editor of Vertigo Visions: Artwork from the Cutting Edge of Comics  Currently an editor at Brain Mill Press. (CE) 
  • Born December 1, 1965 — Bill Willingham, 55. Best known I’d say for his long running Fable series though personally I think his best work was Proposition Player. He got his start in the late 1970s to early 1980s as a staff artist for TSR games where he was the cover artist for the AD&D Player Character Record Sheets and a lot of games I don’t recognize not being a gamer at that time. I do recognize his superb 1980s comic book series Elementals,  and he later write the equally excellent Shadowpact for DC. I was always ambivalent about the Jack of Shadows series that he spun off of Fables. His House of Mystery was rather good as well. (CE) 
  • Born December 1, 1971 Emily Mortimer, 49. She was the voice of Sophie in the English language version of Howl’s Moving Castle, and Jane Banks in Mary Poppins Returns. She was the voice of Lisette in the superb Hugo animated film, and was Nicole Durant in The Pink Panther. (CE)

(14) GOO GOO GUY. Start running now – Vulture brings word that “Peter Dinklage to Reportedly Star in Toxic Avenger Reboot”.

…Based on the four-film franchise and Marvel comic-book series, Dinklage’s Toxic Avenger will reportedly retain the character’s origin story (hapless underdog pushed into toxic waste and reborn with superpowers, naturally) while exploring “environmental themes” with a take on “the superhero genre in the vein of Deadpool.” Because God help superhero movies if we force Toxie into a gritty reboot, too.

(15) YESTERDAY’S TOMORROW. At Monster Movie Music, they’re putting together episode recaps of old black-and-white TV sff with screencaps and connective text, like “TALES OF TOMORROW / ‘Appointment On Mars’ – 1952”. Interesting idea.

Here’s a wild one from the TOT gang. In this episode, three men man a rocket and go to Mars where they will mine for rare minerals and ore to take back to Earth to cash in. But, things don’t go as planned…

(16) MONOLITHS: EASY COME, EASY GO. The Utah monolith and its Romanian imitator vanished less mysteriously than they arrived, in that the people who took them down are at least known to someone.

Salt Lake City’s Fox13 repots “Well-known Moab slackliner says he took down Utah monolith”.

“On the night of November 27, 2020, at about 8:30pm– our team removed the Utah Monolith,” [Andy] Lewis wrote, in a Facebook post. “We will not be including any other information, answers, or insight at this time.”

And in Europe: “Romanian monolith mystery solved: two blokes carried it off” says Yahoo!

You wait for ages for an era-defining monolith created by an unseen alien race to appear out of nowhere, then two turn up at once.

After the mysterious emergence of a shiny metallic plinth in the Utah desert piqued the imaginations of sci-fi fans across the world last week, another appeared just a few days later in rural Romania.

And just like its American cousin, it has vanished – seemingly without a trace.

The mayor of the Romanian town where the local monolith was planted seems to know more than he’s saying:

…The mayor had hoped that the structure could potentially become a tourist attraction for Piatra Neamt, a picturesque mountainous town with a population of around 100,000. But he offers up a more sobering theory as to why the monolith disappeared in a matter of days.

“Whoever placed the monolith would have suffered legal consequences because we can’t allow structures without legal authorisation,” he said.

“It’s quite a mystery that this came up in a week that I had a chat with some local investors who don’t obey construction laws — it’s absolutely a bizarre coincidence,” he added.

(17) SJW CREDENTIAL COMMUTE. [Item by JJ.] Alexander Perrin’s “Short Trip” is an interactive cat adventure on a trolley line. Better with the sound on. Use right/left arrows to move faster/slower forward/backward. if you stop at the tram stops, cats will get on and off. The details are best enjoyed if you don’t run it at full speed

(18) ON THE ROAD WITH J.G. BALLARD. “Crash! (1971) by J. G. Ballard” on YouTube is a short film, originally broadcast by the BBC in 1971, in which J.G. Ballard drives a car and obsesses about crashes.

(19) PARTY POOPERS. Maria Temming reports in the Washington Post that researchers at the University of Georgia, the Florida Institute of Technology, and the Colorado School of Mines have tried growing crops on Martian soil and discovered “Farming on Mars will be a lot harder than ‘The Martian’ made it seem” thanks fo the soil’s high scidity and the presence of the potent microbe killer calcium perchlorate in high quantities.

(20) VIDEO OF THE DAY. In “Honest Game Trailers:  Demon’s Souls” on YouTube, Fandom Games says Sony revised the 1990’s game Demon’s Souls without consulting the original developers, which meant that “Sony treats the Demon’s Souls IP like Gollum treats the One Ring.”

[Thanks to JJ, John Hertz, James Davis Nicoll, Paul Di Flippo, Mike Kennedy, Cat Eldridge, Andrew Porter, Martin Morse Wooster, Michael Toman, David Doering, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day David Goldfarb.]

Pixel Scroll 10/21/20 The Haunting Of Mount TBR House

(1) ON THE FRONT OF F&SF. The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction’s Nov/Dec 2020 cover art by David A. Hardy is for “Skipping Stones in the Dark” by Amman Sabet.

(2) SOME TRICKS, SOME TREATS. A new trailer — Season 2 of The Mandalorian streams October 30 on Disney+.

(3) WATCH THE CHESLEYS. Association of Science Fiction & Fantasy Artists President Sara Felix reminds everyone, “The Chesley award ceremony is this weekend on line in conjunction with IX Arts, Saturday October 24th at 7 pm EST.”

It will be streaming on the ASFA website here.

(4) EARLY WARNER SYSTEM. SYFY Wire frames another new trailer: “The Animaniacs Catch Up On The 21st Century In Full, ‘Insany’ Trailer For Hulu Reboot”.

The Warner siblings are back and better than ever in the official trailer for Hulu‘s Animaniacs reboot. True to form, Yakko (Rob Paulsen), Wackko (Jess Harnell), and Dot (Tress MacNeille) are very much aware of how much time has passed since the original series was canceled in the late 1990s.

They’re right at home in a post-Deadpool world and have a lot to catch up on, like mobile tablets, quinoa wraps, and, most importantly, Queen Bae. Meanwhile, Pinky (also voiced by Paulsen) and the Brain (Maurice LaMarche) are still trying to take over the world, but must adapt to the modern woes of catfishing and Instagram likes.

(5) SCHOLARSHIP IN 2020. Livia Gershon’s article “The Self-Styled Sci-Fi Supermen of the 1940s” at JSTOR Daily is filed with the tagline: “Way before there were stans, there were slans. Too bad about their fascist utopian daydreams!” The author is eager to slap the fascist label on fans – and seems ignorant of the fact that that some of the people who lived in the Michigan “Slan Shack” were gay, and that their idea of a utopia free of persecution might not really match up with the author’s fascist stereotype. And treating Claude Degler as a representative of mainstream fandom is an idea as nutty as Degler was.

Science fiction is often a vehicle for social and political ideas, from celebrations of high-tech space colonialism to warnings about the misuse of technology. In the 1940s, English and technology scholar Andrew Pilsch writes, a utopian strain in science fiction fandom brought readers uncomfortably close to an alignment with fascism.

Pilsch writes that science fiction experienced a “superman boom” starting around 1939. This was driven largely by John W. Campbell Jr., editor of Astounding Stories. Campbell editorialized about the real-world possibilities of human enhancement. He also published many stories about super-human beings. Most notable among these was Slan, a novel by A.E. van Vogt. Amazing Stories serialized Slan in 1940—two years after Superman himself had debuted in Action Comics. In van Vogt’s story, the regular people of Earth persecute “slans,” genetically advanced humans.

The book gave the science fiction–reading community a new slogan: “fans are slans.”

Pilsch writes that some fans took this concept very seriously, imagining themselves as a group distinct from the rest of humanity. Among them were Al and Abby Lu Ashley, who proposed creating a “Slan Center”—a settlement as big as a city block, with homes, a library, and a space for publishing fanzines. Describing the concept, the Ashleys wrote that “Intellectually, fans far exceed the ordinary person.”

Dal Coger, a fan who was involved in the initial planning, explained later that “everyone had experienced the raised eyebrows of mundanes when you tried to discuss science fictional ideas with them. Slan Center would make it possible to be openly fannish any time we were away from work.”

While the Slan Center never became reality, the Ashleys did found an eight-room fan house in 1943. Those who moved into the Ashleys’ “Slan Shack” included fan artist Jack Wiedenbeck, fanzine publisher Walt Liebscher, and science fiction writer E.E. “Doc” Smith. Other fan houses popped up, including Tendril House in Los Angeles, the Ivory Birdbath in Massachusetts, and the Futurian Fortress in New York….

(6) MEDIA ANNIVERSARY.

  • 2000 — Twenty years ago at Chicon 2000, Vernor Vinge‘s A Deepness in the Sky won the Hugo for Best Novel.  The novel is a loose prequel (set twenty thousand years earlier) to A Fire Upon the Deep. Published by Tor Books in 1999, it decidedly beat out Lois McMaster Bujold’s A Civil Campaign with the rest of the final ballot being Neal Stephenson’s Cryptonomicon, Greg Bear‘s Darwin’s Radio and J. K. Rowling‘s Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.  It would also win the John W. Campbell Memorial Award and Prometheus Award along with being nominated for the Arthur C. Clarke, Nebula, Locus, BFA and HOMer awards. 

(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]

  • Born October 21, 1772 – Samuel Coleridge.  This complicated genius wrote, among much else, in 54 lines of poetry, “Kubla Khan”, one of the finest fantasies.  See also the Raymond F. Jones story “The Person From Porlock”; C’s title may lie behind the Theodore Sturgeon story “The Skills of Xanadu”.  Poet, critic, philosopher.  Coined the expression “suspension of disbelief”.  (Died 1834) [JH]
  • Born October 21, 1904 – Edmond Hamilton.  Seven novels of the Interstellar Patrol; two of Star Kings; three of Starwolf; a score of Captain Future; a dozen more.  Two hundred fifty shorter stories; see The Best of Edmond Hamilton edited posthumously by his widow Leigh Brackett.  For DC Comics he particularly wrote Batman and Superman; co-created Batwoman (1956).  He reached far.  (Died 1977) [JH]
  • Born October 21, 1914 Martin Gardner. He was one of leading authorities on Lewis Carroll. The Annotated Alice, which incorporated the text of Carroll’s two Alice books is still a bestseller. He was considered the doyen (your word to learn today) of American puzzlers. And, to make him even more impressive, in 1999 Magic magazine named Gardner one of the “100 Most Influential Magicians of the Twentieth Century”.  Cool! (Died 2010.) (CE)
  • Born October 21, 1929 Ursula Le Guin. She called herself a “Narrative American”. And she most emphatically did not consider herself to be a genre writer instead preferring be known as an “American novelist”. Oh, she wrote genre fiction with quite some brilliance, be it the Earthsea sequence, The Left Hand of DarknessThe Dispossessed, or Always Coming Home. Her upbringing as the daughter of two academics, one who was an anthropologist and the other who had a graduate degree in psychology, showed in her writing. And the home library of the family had a lot of SF in it. If you’re interested in the awards she won in her career, she garnered  the Hugo Award, Nebula Award, Locus Award, and World Fantasy Award, each at least once and she was also awarded the National Book Foundation Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters It won’t surprise you that she was made a Grandmaster of Science Fiction, one of a few women writers to take the top honor in the genre. (Died 2018.) (CE) 
  • Born October 21, 1933 Georgia Brown. She’s the actress who portrayed Helena Rozhenko, foster mother of Worf, in the Next Gen’s “Family” and “New Ground” episodes. She was Frau Freud in The Seven-Percent Solution, and was Rachel in “The Musgrave Ritual” episode of the Nigel Stock fronted Sherlock Holmes series. (Died 1992.)  (CE) 
  • Born October 21, 1936 – Ken Cheslin.  Famously published Fables of Irish Fandom (with John Berry); The Bleary Eyes (about the Goon Defective Agency; JB was Goon Bleary); a second ed’n of Vincent Clarke’s tributezine Atom, and one of his own, Atom 2000 – to this day we still quarrel over writing the fanartist Arthur Thomson’s signature and nickname as “ATom” or “Atom”.  (Died 2000) [JH]
  • Born October 21, 1945 Everett McGill, 75. Stilgar in the first Dune film. Earlier in his career, he was a Noah in Quest for Fire. Later on, he’s Ed Killifer in License to Kill, and on Twin Peaks, he’s Big Ed Hurley. He was also Rev. Lowe in Stephen King’s Silver Bullet, a werewolf flick that actually has a decent rating of 55% at Rotten Tomatoes! (CE)
  • Born October 21, 1955 – Nancy Wirsig McClure, 65.  Revived, ran, and was Master of Ceremonies for the Masquerade costume competition at ICON (Iowa City); Fan Guest of Honor (with husband Martin McClure), ICON 18.  Originated, ran, and MC’d Masquerades at Demicon (Des Moines).  Con committees at Minicon, edited the Bozo Bus Tribune at Minicon 30.  Moved to Portland; OryCon committees.  Runs a design & illustration business; designed e.g. this OryCon flier, this Bruce Schneier book; see here.  [JH]
  • Born October 21, 1956 Carrie Fisher. In addition to the original Star Wars trilogy, Star Wars Holiday SpecialThe Force AwakensStar Wars: The Last Jedi and Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, she was in Amazon Women on the MoonThe Time Guardian, Hook, Scream 3, and A Midsummer Night’s Rave. (Died 2016.) (CE)
  • Born October 21, 1958 – Julie Bell, 62.  Graphic artist in her own right and with husband Boris Vallejo.  Three Chesleys (one with him).  Three artbooks and eight with BV.  A hundred covers, four hundred interiors.  Here is Stonehenge.  Here is Falling Stars.  Here is Beguilement.  Here is Soft as Steel.  Also horses and other wildlife.  [JH]
  • Born October 21, 1973 Sasha Roiz, 47. I know him only as Captain Sean Renard on the excellent Grimm series but he’s also been Sam Adama on Caprica as well. And he’s also been on Warehouse 13 in the recurring role of Marcus Diamond. He even showed up once on Lucifer as U.S. Marshal Luke Reynolds. (CE)
  • Born October 21, 1974 – Chris Garcia, 46.  Fanziner and immeasurable being.  Edited Tightbeam and The National Fantasy Fan, served as President of the N3F (Nat’l Fantasy Federation).  Hugo for The Drink Tank.  Nova for Journey Planet (with James Bacon).  Also Claims DepartmentExhibition Hall.  TAFF (Trans-Atlantic Fan Fund) delegate, his report Rockets Across the Waters.  Fan Guest of Honor at SFContario 3, ConQuest 44, Westercon 67, Baycon 2018.  He and I were separated at birth; he got the hair.  [JH]

(8) COMICS SECTION.

  • Close To Home shows how one witch is adapting to the latest technology.

(9) IN DYING COLOR. On Bruce Sterling’s Tumblr today he has a number of crayon Lovecraftian illustrations “by a young Robert Bloch”.

Lovecraftian illustrations by a young Robert Bloch, (original Cthulhu Mythos fanboy, later famous as the author of Psycho) doodled in crayon on various notebooks and pieces of cardboard between 1933 and 1937.

Here’s one —

(10) CHOW CALL. Pirate Stew by Neil Gaiman and Illustrated by Chris Riddell goes on sale December 1.

Meet LONG JOHN McRON, SHIP’S COOK . . . and the most unusual babysitter you’ve ever seen.

Long John has a whole crew of wild pirates in tow, and—for one boy and his sister—he’s about to transform a perfectly ordinary evening into a riotous adventure beneath a pirate moon. It’s time to make some PIRATE STEW.

Marvelously silly and gloriously entertaining, this tale of pirates, flying ships, doughnut feasts and some rather magical stew is perfect for all pirates, both young and old.

(11) REVOKE THE VOTE? Camestros Felapton addresses the question: “Should John C Wright be allowed to vote?” It doesn’t take long.

Today’s politico-ethical question is easily answered. Yes, science fiction author John C Wright should be allowed to vote in whatever nation he chooses to live in, because people who are held accountable to laws should have a say in those laws AND also the legitimacy of government should derive from the broad consent of the governed….

But why is this a question? Because John C. Wright posed it himself in “It is Time to Reconsider”, although it’s not his own franchise but that of women, that he has doubts about:

Is it time to reconsider the 19th Amendment?

The argument for female suffrage is that women are not more prone to bouts of emotionalism than men, and hence is it equally worthwhile, as the whole, to consult with them over the conduct and control of public business.

Unfortunately, it is evident that there are but rare and few men in the current generation show any particular manly or masculine virtues which would entitle them to a say in the public business, if stoicism, reason, and virtue were preconditions for the franchise.

The argument against female suffrage is that voting is a peaceful substitute for revolution, wherein the less numerous party, seeing himself outnumbered, agreed without bloodshed to abide by the vote of the more numerous. Women, being largely less ready, willing, or able to take up arms than men, have no place in these military questions.….

Yes, if only the legislators who ratified the 19th Amendment – virtually all of whom were men, by the way – had been aided by the prophetic vision of that six-time Hugo nominee and Grand Inquisitor of the Evil Legion of Evil, John C. Wright.

(12) PKD’S POLITICAL ADVICE. Meanwhile, back in 1952, Philip K. Dick wrote to the editors of the Oakland Tribune naming his candidate to save the country:

Editor:  Unless we elect Justice William O. Douglas President this country will surely continue to drift toward militarism and uniformity of thought.  Only Justice Douglas seems to realize that our military outlook is fast destroying our liberty and economy.  We must see that he is nominated and elected, or America may become another Spain.  Governments all over the world are gaining in diabolical powers; with a great liberal President this trend might be reversed. . . .

— PHILIP K. DICK

Berkeley.

[Feb 21, 1952]

Thanks to Bill for the clipping.

(13) SAVING THROW. Whereas this author’s advice was posted by Polygon just yesterday. “We asked Kim Stanley Robinson: Can science fiction save us?”

Can science fiction save us in our present political and cultural circumstances? Is it a useful teaching tool to help us think about how to solve our present problems, or model better ways of living?

Well, it’s the latter, for sure. Whether it’s the former depends on whether we pay attention. But let me answer a little more at length.

If you think of science fiction as just a kind of modeling exercise, everybody is a science fiction writer in their own lives. You make plans based on modeling in your mind. When you’re feeling hopeful, you have a kind of utopian plan: if you do these things, you’ll get to a good place. And then when you’re afraid, you have these worries that if you do these things, you’ll get to a bad place. So the fundamental exercise of science fiction is a very natural human thing. And then when it gets written down in long narrative forms, like science fiction novels, everybody recognizes the exercises involved there. Although when I say that, I realize that, actually, lots of people don’t like to read science fiction, so they’re not recognizing the way books are the same as what they do for their own lives. That’s surprising to me, but it happens a lot….

(14) IMITATION IS THE SINCEREST FORM OF FLATTENING. The LA Times takes notes on “What scientists hope to learn from a beetle that can survive being run over by a car”.

It’s a beetle that can withstand bird pecks, animal stomps and even being rolled over by a Toyota Camry. Now scientists are studying what the bug’s crush-resistant shell could teach them about designing stronger airplanes and buildings.

“This beetle is super tough,” said Purdue University civil engineer Pablo Zavattieri, who was among a group of researchers that ran over the insect with a car in the name of science.

So, how does the seemingly indestructible insect do it?

The species — the aptly named diabolical ironclad beetle — owes its might to an unusual armor that is layered and pieced together like a jigsaw, according to the study by Zavattieri and his colleagues published in Nature on Wednesday. Its design, they say, could help inspire more durable structures and vehicles.

(15) THE LAND AND THE DRAGON ARE ONE. Restore peace. Find the last dragon. See the new trailer for Raya and the Last Dragon, in theaters March 2021.

Long ago, in the fantasy world of Kumandra, humans and dragons lived together in harmony. But when an evil force threatened the land, the dragons sacrificed themselves to save humanity. Now, 500 years later, that same evil has returned and it’s up to a lone warrior, Raya, to track down the legendary last dragon to restore the fractured land and its divided people. However, along her journey, she’ll learn that it’ll take more than a dragon to save the world—it’s going to take trust and teamwork as well.

(16) VIDEO OF THE DAY. In “Honest Game Trailers:  Star Wars:  Squadrons” on YouTube, Fandom Games says in this game “you can fly an X-Wing and it makes a “pu-pu’ sound.  What more do you want?”

[Thanks to JJ, Michael Toman, Bill, Andrew Porter, Gordon Van Gelder, John King Tarpinian, John Hertz, N., Cat Eldridge, Sara Felix, Martin Morse Wooster, Dennis Howard, and Mike Kennedy for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]