Pixel Scroll 8/20/21 Curse You, Pixel Scroll, For Your Sudden But Inevitable Betrayal

(1) HOW DRAGON CON IS HANDLING COVID. Atlanta’s Dragon Con, being held September 2-6, devotes an entire webpage to the COVID-related attendance rules at “Updates – Dragon Con”.

Today they also sent members an informational email which says they’re considering offering onside testing (for a fee, see below) to facilitate compliance with their entry requirements.

All 2021 attendees will need to provide proof of full vaccination – OR – a negative Covid-19 test that has been administered within 72 hours of badge pickup. 

Please see our updates page at https://www.dragoncon.org/updates/ for additional details on all health and safety guidelines including the indoor mask mandate.

We are currently working with an outside vendor to potentially offer onsite testing to attendees for a fee of $25 – $40 collected directly by the provider…. 

(2) SHATNER Q&A. In the Washington Post, Michael Cavna has a chat with Shat, because William Shatner is going to be a guest at Awesome Con (the Washington, D.C. media con) this weekend. Shatner shares news on his latest projects, including his new album Bill and spending five days with StoryFile “for interactive conversational-video technology” so fans can ask questions of the William Shatner hologram! “William Shatner, at 90, keeps seeking that next personal frontier”.

…Shatner, a veteran performer of spoken-word tunes, has an album due out next month simply called “Bill.” Some of the songs are inspired by events in his life, and his collaborators included They Might Be Giants songwriter-musician Dan Miller.

He also enjoyed teaming with the L.A.-based company StoryFile to spend five days recording answers for interactive conversational-video technology. He was filmed with 3-D cameras so his words can be delivered via hologram.

The idea, he says, is that people will be able to push a button and ask questions of a virtual celebrity — like “asking Grandpa questions at his gravestone,” but with technologically advanced replies.

(3) JOB APPLICANT. “Babylon 5 boss has ‘contacted’ BBC over Doctor Who showrunner job” reports Radio Times.

Last month, Babylon 5 creator J. Michael Straczynski threw his hat into the ring to become the new Doctor Who showrunner, tweeting his interest in replacing Chris Chibnall when the latter steps down in 2022.

And now Straczynski has issued an update on the situation, revealing that contact has been made with the BBC about the soon-to-be vacancy for Doctor Who showrunner.

Replying to a fan who asked what the situation was on Twitter, he wrote, “Contact with the BBC has been made. They’re going through their own process, which began before my tweet, and that has to run its course, but if those don’t pan out and there’s a discussion to be had, they will reach out.”…

(4) OUT OF JEOPARDY! Meanwhile, Jeopardy! jettisoned Mike Richards as the replacement host after some troubling quotes from his old podcast were publicized. The Hollywood Reporter has the story: “Mike Richards Out as ‘Jeopardy!’ Host After Podcast Comments”. Whether this reopens LeVar Burton’s candidacy remains to be seen.

…Sony released the following statement which confirmed that Richards will continue on as the show’s executive producer, if not as Alex Trebek’s successor: “We support Mike’s decision to step down as host. We were surprised this week to learn of Mike’s 2013/2014 podcast and the offensive language he used in the past. We have spoken with him about our concerns and our expectations moving forward. Mike has been with us for the last two years and has led the Jeopardy! team through the most challenging time the show has ever experienced. It is our hope that as EP he will continue to do so with professionalism and respect.”

Sony also confirmed the episodes Richards shot on Thursday will still air during the upcoming season as scheduled, followed by a rotation of guest hosts until a new permanent host is selected….

(5) MAGAZINE DEBUTS. The first issue of Witch House, a new magazine of cosmic and gothic horror, is now available.

Witch House Issue 1 is now available. You can download it here. This issue includes several great stories and poems. Thanks to Chase Folmar (Associate Editor), Luke E. Dodd (Associate Editor), and all our great contributors for helping us release this issue. We hope you enjoy it!

(6) SCHASCARYZADE. Netflix dropped a trailer for Nightbooks, with Krysten Ritter.

Scary story fan Alex must tell a spine-tingling tale every night — or stay trapped with his new friend in a wicked witch’s magical apartment forever.

(7) BUTLER BIO. “Octavia E. Butler Biography Reveal: Star Child by Ibi Zoboi”Gizmodo previews the cover at the link. The book will be released January 25; it’s available for preorder now.

An author as distinctive as Science Fiction Hall of Fame member Octavia E. Butler (KindredThe Parable of the Sowerdeserves an equally distinctive biography—which is exactly why Ibi Zoboi’s Star Child: A Biographical Constellation of Octavia Estelle Butler is so exciting. Described as “a poignant biography in verse and prose,” the book, which is aimed at middle-grade readers but is truly universal, explores Butler’s childhood and how it informed her award-winning, influential literary career.

Zoboi—a National Book Award finalist for her YA novel American Street—actually studied with Butler at the Clarion Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers’ Workshop before Butler passed away in 2006. Star Child showcases Butler’s “own words and photos of documents from her childhood,” bolstered by Zoboi’s research on Butler’s papers at Los Angeles’ Huntington Library. 

(8) LISTEN IN. Stephen Graham Jones, who’s already won several awards this year, will do an author talk about his book My Heart is a Chainsaw on August 31 at 7:00 p.m. Mountain time. Free livestream, register here.

(9) MURPHY OBIT. Jill Murphy, author of the Worst Witch series of children’s books, died August 18. The Guardian has a profile: “Jill Murphy, children’s author and illustrator, dies aged 72”.

… Murphy started writing The Worst Witch while still at school, completing her first manuscript at the age of 18. Her mother once commented that Murphy and her two friends looked like witches in their dark school uniforms, which gave the author the idea for her first book.

Murphy initially struggled to publish her first novel, as many publishers at the time worried that children would find the book about witches too frightening. But the tale of clumsy young witch Mildred Hubble and her adventures at Miss Cackle’s Academy stole the hearts of generations of children, selling more than 3m copies and becoming one of the most successful Young Puffin titles.

Murphy’s books went on to win many major awards, including the Smarties prize for The Last Noo-Noo. Peace at Last and All in One Piece were both commended for the Kate Greenaway Medal. She was also an honorary fellow of Falmouth University….

(10) MEMORY LANE.

  • 1974 – Forty seven years ago at Discon II where andrew j. offutt was Toastmaster, Arthur C. Clarke won the Hugo for Best Novel for Rendezvous with Rama. Other nominated works that year were Robert A. Heinlein’s Time Enough for Love, Larry Niven’s Protector, Poul Anderson‘s The People of the Wind and David Gerrold‘s The Man Who Folded Himself. It was a popular choice as it would also win a BSFA, John W. Campbell Memorial Award, a Locus Best Novel Award and a Nebula Award. 

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born August 20, 1883 Austin Tappan Wright. Did you know that Islandia wasn’t published when he was alive? His widow edited his fifteen hundred page manuscript for publication, and following her own death in 1937 their daughter Sylvia further edited and cut the text yet more; the resulting novel, shorn of Wright’s appendices, was published in 1942, along with a pamphlet by Basil Davenport, An introduction to Islandia; its history, customs, laws, language, and geography, based on the original supplementary material. Is there a full, unedited version? (Died 1931.)
  • Born August 20, 1932 Anthony Ainley. He was the fourth actor to play the role of the Master, and the first actor to portray the Master as a recurring role since the death of Roger Delgado in 1973. He appeared in eleven stories with the Fourth through Seventh Doctors.  It is noted that enjoyed the role so much that sources note he even stayed in character when not portraying The Master by using both the voice and laugh in social situations. (Died 2004.)
  • Born August 20, 1943 Sylvester McCoy, 78. The Seventh Doctor and the last canon Doctor until the modern era of the official BBC Doctors when they revised canon. He also played Radagast in Peter Jackson’s Hobbit films, he’s The Old Man of Hoy in Sense8 and he voices Aezethril the Wizard in the “Endgame” episode of Thunderbirds Are Go
  • Born August 20, 1951 Greg Bear, 70. Blood Music which won a Nebula Award, and a Hugo Award at L.A. Con II in its original novelette form is a amazing read. His novels Moving Mars and Darwin’s Radio are also Nebula winners, and he has other short fiction award winners. I’m also very fond of the Songs of Earth and Power duology, The Infinity Concerto and The Serpent Mage, and found his Queen of Angels a fascinating mystery. He’s deeply stocked at the usual suspects. 
  • Born August 20, 1961 Greg Egan, 60. Australian writer who does exist though he does his damnedest to avoid a digital footprint. His excellent  Permutation City won the John W. Campbell Memorial Award  and “Oceanic” garnered a Best Novella Hugo at Ausiecon Three. And he’s won a lot of Ditmar Awards.
  • Born August 20, 1962 Sophie Aldred, 59. She’s Ace, the Seventh Doctor’s Companion. (By the way Doctor Who Magazine: Costume Design: Dressing the Doctor from William Hartnell to Jodie Whittaker is a brilliant read and has a nice look at her costuming.) She’s reprised the role in the Big Finish audio adventures, and she’s recently written Doctor Who: At Childhood’s End where Ace meets the Thirteenth Doctor. 
  • Born August 20, 1963 Justina Vail Evans, 58. Olga Vukavitch in Seven Days, a series I thought was extremely well-crafted. She shows up in other genre undertakings such as Super ForceConanJourney to The Center of The EarthThe Adventures of SuperboyThe X-FilesCarnosaur 3: Primal SpeciesConan and Highlander: The Series

(12) COMICS SECTION.

  • The Onion is dead on about the intersection between climate change and space travel! But didn’t someone already write Garbage Planet?
  • The Oatmeal did this comic to commemorate Gene Roddenberry’s 100th birthday yesterday.

(13) TURNING THE CAMERA AROUND. After reading The Oatmeal linked above, you realize there’s a lot more material to work with than just his career in TV: “Gene Roddenberry Biopic In Works With ‘You Don’t Know Jack’ Scribe Adam Mazer” – details at Deadline.

Roddenberry Entertainment has been working quietly on a feature biopic of the sci-fi TV icon, and there is a script by Adam Mazer, whose credits include the Emmy-winning script for the 2010 HBO movie You Don’t Know Jack which starred Al Pacino as Dr. Jack Kevorkian.

Producers include Star Trek caretakers Rod Roddenberry and Trevor Roth, who executive produce all current franchise series including Star Trek: Discovery and Star Trek: Picard. Next up the development will be finding a director and actors.

… There’s no shortage of subject matter surrounding Roddenberry, the fighter pilot-turned-LAPD cop-turned-TV writer who survived two plane crashes and the rough waters of Hollywood to create Star Trek, one of the world’s most enduring sci-fi franchises, with the original 1966-69 TV series eventually spawning spinoffs, movies, books and a legion of hard-core fans.

(14) THE THREE BLAHS OF ROBOTICS. [Item by Michael Kennedy.] Not satisfied with developing cars that can drive themselves (HINT: not there yet), Elon Musk is now saying he intends to develop humanoid robots to do dangerous and boring tasks. So far he seems to have this mission statement, a slide deck, plus someone dressed in a skintight suit and wearing a helmet. “Tesla Bot: Elon Musk Unveils Humanoid Robot to do ‘Boring’ work” at Bloomberg.

… The Tesla Bot, a prototype of which should be available next year, is designed to eliminate “dangerous, repetitive and boring tasks,” like bending over to pick something up, or go to the store for groceries, Musk said. “Essentially, in the future, physical work will be a choice.”…

(15) THE CLOCK IS RUNNING. Filers might find today’s New Yorker “Name Drop” puzzle of interest.

(16) INSIDE A PERRIN GAME. James Davis Nicoll tells how “Steve Perrin’s Worlds of Wonder Changed the Game for RPGs” at Tor.com.

Emmet Asher-Perrin’s worthy obit for Steve Perrin mentions such Perrin-related projects as StormbringerCall of CthulhuThieves’ WorldElfquestRobot Warriors, and (of course!) Superworld. One fascinating Perrin work that often goes unmentioned, probably due to the fact that it has become a comparatively obscure work, is 1982’s groundbreaking Worlds of Wonder. You may not have encountered it, but odds are that you’ve seen and played later games that it inspired or influenced.

The 9½ x 12 x 1 inch box for this game contained four 16-page booklets: Basic Role-PlayingMagic WorldSuperworld, and Future World.  Assisting Steve Perrin were Steve Henderson, Gordon Monson, Greg Stafford, Lynn Willis and others. Roleplaying game design tends to be a team effort….

(17) IT IS THE END, MY FRIEND. This week’s PBS Space Time looks at the end of everything, including beyond File 770… The universe is going to end. But of all the possible ends of the universe vacuum decay would have to be the most thorough – because it could totally rewrite the laws of physics. How terrified should you be….? 

(18) MOONING PEOPLE. The Old Farmer’s Almanac encourages us to look: “Full Moon August Appears to Shine All Weekend”.

On all three nights, the Moon will be tangled together with the planets Jupiter and Saturn. Very close to Saturn on Friday night, right amidst both brilliant Jupiter and less-bright Saturn on Saturday, and forming a line with them when it’s full on Sunday. Read about super-bright Jupiter which is at its best right now….

And there are more reasons at the link.

(19) A PERTINENT PEW POLL. Pew on belief in space aliens. Graphs at the link. “Religious Americans less likely to believe intelligent life exists beyond Earth” at Pew Research Center.

….This is evidenced by a variety of measures of religious engagement. For example, U.S. Christians are far less likely than religiously unaffiliated Americans to say that their “best guess” is that intelligent life exists on other planets (57% vs. 80%). And U.S. adults who attend religious services on at least a weekly basis are considerably less likely than those who seldom or never attend services to say that intelligent life exists elsewhere (44% vs. 75%).

Similarly, around half of Americans who say religion is very important to them (49%) say their best guess is that intelligent life exists on other planets. By comparison, roughly three-quarters of those who say that religion is less important in their lives (76%) say that intelligent life exists elsewhere. …

(20) HOW DOGS THINK. So far, it appears that no dog has learned how to cheat at their version of the Kobayashi Maru test. ”How dogs think, learn, communicate and problem-solve” in the Washington Post.

…By way of example, he talked about dogs he has worked with for the U.S. Marine Corps, compared with dogs he has worked with for Canine Companions for Independence in California. The Marines needed dogs in places like Afghanistan to help sniff out incendiary devices, while the companions agency needed dogs that were good at helping people with disabilities.

Just looking at both types of purpose-bred dogs, most people would think they’re the same — to the naked eye, they all look like Labrador retrievers, and on paper, they would all be considered Labrador retrievers. But behaviorally and cognitively, because of their breeding for specific program purposes, Hare said, they were different in many ways.

Hare devised a test that could tell them apart in two or three minutes. It’s a test that’s intentionally impossible for the dog to solve — what Star Trek fans would recognize as the Kobayashi Maru. In Hare’s version, the dog was at first able to get a reward from inside a container whose lid was loosely secured and easy to dislodge; then, the reward was placed inside the same container with the lid locked and unable to be opened. Just as Starfleet was trying to figure out what a captain’s character would lead him to do in a no-win situation, Hare’s team was watching whether the dog kept trying to solve the test indefinitely, or looked to a human for help.

“What we found is that the dogs that ask for help are fantastic at the assistance-dog training, and the dogs that persevere and try to solve the problem no matter what are ideal for the detector training,” Hare said. “It’s not testing to see which dog is smart or dumb. What we’ve been able to show is that some of these measures tell you what jobs these dogs would be good at.”…

(21) SMASHING DISCOVERY. Nature reports “Exotic Four-Quark Particle Spotted At Large Hadron Collider”.

Rare tetraquark could help physicists to test theories about strong nuclear force.

The Large Hadron Collider (LHC) is also a big hadron discoverer. The atom smasher near Geneva, Switzerland, is famous for demonstrating the existence of the Higgs boson in 2012, a discovery that slotted into place the final keystone of the current classification of elementary particles. But the LHC has also netted dozens of the non-elementary particles called hadrons — those that, like protons and neutrons, are made of quarks.

The latest hadron made its debut at the virtual meeting of the European Physical Society on 29 July, when particle physicist Ivan Polyakov at Syracuse University in New York unveiled a previously unknown exotic hadron made of four quarks. This brought the LHC’s hadron bounty up to 62, according to a tally kept by Patrick Koppenburg, a particle physicist. Tetraquarks are extremely unusual: most known hadrons are made up of either two or three quarks. The first tetraquark was spotted at the High Energy Accelerator Research Organization (KEK) in Tsukuba, Japan, in 2003, and LHCb has seen several more. But the new one is an oddity. Previous tetraquarks were likely to be pairs of ordinary quark doublets attached to each other like atoms in a molecule, but theoretical physicist Marek Karliner thinks that the latest one could be a genuine, tightly bound quadruplet. “It’s the first of its kind,” says Karliner, who is at Tel Aviv University in Israel and helped to predict the existence of a particle with the same properties as Tcc in 2017.

(22) REFERENCE DIRECTOR. Today’s Scroll title was inspired by this Firefly clip. Which doesn’t mean we’re going to start explaining the titles, it is just a good excuse to include a moment from the series.

(23) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In the spoiler-filled “Honest Trailers: The Suicide Squad” on YouTube, the Screen Junkies say the one thing that every character in the film has “traumatic parent issues,” that director James Gunn replaced the overlong character introductions in Suicide Squad with no introductions at all, and Viola Davis has “way too much talent and elegance to be in a film with Pete Davidson in it.”

[Thanks to Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, Martin Morse Wooster, Cora Buhlert, John A Arkansawyer, James Davis Nicoll, David K.M. Klaus, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, JJ, Michael Toman, John King Tarpinian, and Cat Eldridge for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to contributing editor of the day JJ.]

Pixel Scroll 7/19/21 Like A Mouse Over Troubled Pixels, I Will Scroll The File

(1) KOWAL ON WALLY FUNK. The New York Times has run an essay by Lady Astronaut author (and DisCon III chair) Mary Robinette Kowal on Wally Funk. “Wally Funk’s Launch With Jeff Bezos Defies 60 Years of Exclusion From Space”. (Registration may be required.)

Ms. Funk’s trip to space with Jeff Bezos is reason to celebrate. But the launch this week, decades after she was denied the opportunity, also raises questions about whom space is for.

(2) APEX APPEAL. Apex Publications has launched a Kickstarter to fund Apex Magazine 2022. On the first day people have contributed $5,325 of its $10,000 goal. Editor-in-Chief Jason Sizemore says:

The last few years of Apex Magazine (including 2021), we’ve produced an incredible run of transformative and diverse fiction. We relaunched with Fargo Tbakhi’s “Root Rot,” a timely tale regarding colonization. “Mr. Death” by Alix E. Harrow threaded the needle between heartbreaking and hopefulness. Sam J. Miller celebrated the power of music in “A Love That Burns Hot Enough to Last: Deleted Scenes from a Documentary.”

We published back-to-back Hugo Award winners (2018 & 2019) in the category of Best Short Fiction (“Welcome to Your Authentic Indian Experience™” by Rebecca Roanhorse and “A Witch’s Guide to Escape: A Practical Compendium of Portal Fantasies” by Alix E. Harrow, respectively) and the 2017 Hugo Award winner in the category of Best Novelette (“The Tomato Thief” by Ursula Vernon). Fiction from Apex Magazine has also won the Nebula Award, Locus Award, and numerous others.

In addition to our phenomenal fiction, every issue of Apex Magazine offers evocative cover art, thought-provoking nonfiction, author and  artist interviews, and a professional-quality podcast produced by KT Bryski.

All these wonderful things would exist if not for the community of readers, creators, and staff—the extended Apex family. Thank you so much for your love and continued support!

The Apex Magazine 2022 Kickstarter also promises: “Should we fund, we will commission new original fiction from five writers who we think embodies the type of bold, diverse work we seek to publish.” Those writers are: Gabino Iglesias, Jennifer Marie Brissett, Bonnie Jo Stufflebeam, Samit Basu, and Lavie Tidhar.

(3) THE OOPS DIRECTIVE. James Davis Nicoll makes you wonder if there would be a story if people followed the rules. There’s plenty where they don’t, as James shows in “Five SF Stories About Disobeying Non-Interference Directives” at Tor.com.

…For historical reasons—that throughout Earth history, first contact between dissimilar cultures was generally followed by vigorous efforts by whichever culture enjoyed a military advantage to strip-mine the other of goods and services—many science fiction authors (particularly during the mid-century period when various empires were winding down) gave their settings laws encouraging non-interference. One might call this a Prime Directive….

(4) HELP REQUESTED. The“Fundraiser by Adam-Troy Castro : In the Aftermath of Unexpected Death” is a GoFundMe brought on by the sudden death of his wife, Judi. It has raised $26,979 so far.

…She was also, through her own income, the chief support of our family. I am a writer and my money comes in irregularly, sometimes in decent sized chunks (like last week, but delayed for a year by COVID), sometimes in tiny little amounts. I am going to have to restructure my new life as a freshly minted widower, and I will, but in the interim our fragile climb back to solvency has been slammed back to the earth. I am in big, big trouble; destitute with debt still looming.

I damn the whims of fate.

I am not the kind of person who finds this easy. It hurts me to type these words, and I am intensely self-conscious about asking for help this soon after the last time. I can tell you that I did not want the prior worst period of my life to be followed so soon by another loss that is even more primal, even more destructive. I have had no time to think, just arranging the memorial — and I am sure that the bills for her time for the ICU, after insurance, will be coming, inevitable and unswayed by sentiment, even as we run late on bills that would have normally been her duty to pay. (She died in a distant city, in the home of a family we were pet-sitting for, so we are far from our records, from our mailing address, and…this is a pyramid, folks. It gets higher and higher.)

If you knew Judi at all, you loved her. If you know me at all, maybe you have some of that same feeling. I have to jettison pride. She has left me bereft. I will be deeply grateful for any help you can give,

(5) SPACE JAM RULES AT BOX OFFICE. Critical reviews did not keep Space Jam: A New Legacy from overtaking Black Widow in theater ticket sales last weekend.

The Hollywood Reporter starts the ball rolling:

Space Jam: A New Legacy, starring the basketball great [LeBron James], beat holdover Black Widow to top the chart with a better-than-expected domestic debut of $31.7 million from 3,956 theaters.

Marvel and Disney’s Black Widow fell to No. 2 in its second outing with $26.3 million. The superhero pic suffered a steep 67 percent decline, one of the biggest drops ever for a Marvel title, and the worst among the Marvel films released by Disney. The decline underscores that the box office recovery is far from over; also, the tentpole is available in the home via Disney+ Premier Access (piracy is another problem)….

Deadline notes that’s the steepest second-weekend drop ever for a Disney-distributed MCU title, beating Ant-Man and the Wasp (62 percent). They say piracy is a big problem: “’Black Widow’ Post Steep Box Office Drop For MCU Title; Disney Mum On PVOD”.

…Fact: Black Widow was the most-pirated movie last week on Torrent Freak, ahead of The Tomorrow War in the No. 2 spot. I understand from sources that have seen several piracy reports that apparently Black Widow might be the most-pirated title to date during the pandemic, ahead of Wonder Woman 1984.

Studios go to extra lengths to encrypt and watermark their movies before release. Pristine copies of a tentpole spell death at the box office, and they further spell death here on both the box office and Disney+ Premier side.

Many of these piracy sites dress themselves up with images from the film to make it look like they’re legit. One industry analytics source informed me over the weekend that in one study they did for a studio, it showed that these piracy sites were the No. 1 means for those at home to watch movies, not Disney+ or any other streamer….

The LA Times tries to account for this surprising showing: “’Space Jam’ sequel unseats ‘Black Widow’ at the top of the box office”:

…Not many expected “Space Jam: A New Legacy” to pull off this win. The poorly reviewed film was pegged for an opening in the $20-million range. But a sizable number of families and millennials who grew up with the original “Space Jam” left the house and went to a theater to see it, even though it’s currently streaming on HBO Max free for subscribers. Not only that, audiences also gave the film a promising A- CinemaScore, suggesting word of mouth could be strong….

(6) SPEAKING UP. In the Washington Post. Michael Cavna interviews Jeff Bergman, who voices Bugs Bunny in Space Jam, met Mel Blanc once, but only met LeBron James at the premiere when he shouted something to James in his Bugs voice. “’Space Jam: A New Legacy’: The Bugs Bunny voice actor has spent a lifetime perfecting the craft”.

…After the premiere, James was surrounded by layers of fans. What could Bergman do to get the NBA star’s attention despite the distance and din? “I yelled out from about 20 feet away and said in Bugs Bunny’s voice, ‘Hey, Doc, we really are family,'” Bergman said. “He heard and saw me.” Bergman was ushered through the throng to greet him.

“He was holding his daughter and we embraced and thanked each other,” Bergman said. Even amid the crowd, it felt like “a very private congratulatory moment.”

(7) VISION AND REVISION. “At times it’s hard to believe what you see” it says on the cover of Dragons Walk Among Us, source of “The Big Idea: Dan Rice” at Whatever.

Is there a world before our eyes that most people overlook? What are the ramifications for someone who can see the unseeable? This is the big idea behind my debut novel Dragons Walk Among Us.

I first became interested in the world that most people overlook through photography. For example, star trails illuminate landscapes that most people never experience except through photographs taken by others. What really started to fascinate me years ago are water droplets––on blades of grass, flower petals, leaves, windows, etc. Individual little worlds are scattered across the dewy grass, and most people never take the time to appreciate them. Sometimes I imagine each dewdrop is a microcosmos populated by strange creatures. I suppose on the infinitesimal scale of microbes, this is true….

(8) SALLY MILLER GEARHART (1931-2021). Author and academic Sally Miller Gearhart died July 14 at the age of 90. The Advocate has a profile about her activism and work as an educator: “Sally Gearhart, Veteran Activist and Academic, Dead at 90”.

…Gearhart, a Virginia native, taught for many years at San Francisco State University, where in 1973 she became the first out lesbian to be named to a tenure-track position (at the school and, apparently, in the nation). At SF State, she established one of the first women’s and gender studies programs in the nation. She was an author of feminist science fiction as well….

The Wikipedia entry synopsizes her sff career:

…In 1978, her most famous novel, The Wanderground, was published, exploring themes of ecofeminism and lesbian separatism. She wrote two books as part of the Earthkeep trilogy, The Kanshou, published in 2002, and The Magister, published in 2003. Both stories explore a dystopian world where women outnumber men, and humans are the only beings on the planet.

(9) MEMORY LANE.

  • 1976 – Forty-five years ago, Roger Zelazny’s “Home is The Hangman” novella wins the Hugo at MidAmeriCon. The other nominated works that year were “The Storms of Windhaven” by George R. R. Martin and Lisa Tuttle, “ARM” by Larry Niven, “The Silent Eyes of Time” by Algis Budrys, and “The Custodians” by Richard Cowper. It would also win a Nebula Award. His Doorways in the Sand would be nominated for Best Novel that year, finishing second to Joe Haldeman’s The Forever War.

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born July 19, 1883 Max Fleischer. Animator, film director and producer. He brought such animated characters as Betty Boop, Popeye and Superman to the screen and was responsible for a number of technological innovations including the Rotoscope and Stereoptical Processes. You can see Betty’s first screen appearance here in the 1930 Cartoon, “Dizzy Dishes”. (Died 1972.)
  • Born July 19, 1924 Pat Hingle. He portrayed Jim Gordon in the Burton Batman film franchise. Genre wise, he had roles in Alfred Hitchcock PresentsThe Twilight ZoneCarol for Another ChristmasMission: ImpossibleThe InvadersTarantulas: The Deadly Cargo, Amazing Stories and The Land Before Time. He would reprise his Gordon role in the Batman OnStar commercials. (Died 2009.)
  • Born July 19, 1927 Richard E. Geis. I met him at least once when I was living out West. Interesting person.  He won the Hugo Award for Best Fan Writer twice; and whose science fiction fanzine Science Fiction Review won Hugo Awards for Best Fanzine four times. The Alien Critic won the Best Fanzine Hugo once (in a tie with Algol), and once by himself. And yes, I enjoyed reading the Science Fiction Review. I’ve not any of his handful of genre novels, and certainly haven’t encountered his softcore porn of which there’s a lot. (Died 2013.)
  • Born July 19, 1938 Jayant Vishnu Narlikar, 82. He and Fred Hoyle developed the Hoyle–Narlikar theory, which Stephen Hawking would prove is incompatible with an expanding universe. He would write two genre novels, The Return of The Vaman (translated from Marathi) and The Message from Aristarchus. His autobiography is My Tale of Four Cities: An Autobiography.
  • Born July 19, 1957 John Pelan. Committed (more or less) the act of opening serial small publishing houses in succession with the first being Axolotl Press in the mid-Eighties where he’d published the likes of de Lint and Powers (before selling it to Pulphouse Publishing) followed by Darkside Press, Silver Salamander Press and finally co-founding Midnight House. All have been inactive for quite awhile now and he’d been editing such anthologies as Tales of Terror and Torment: Stories from the Pulps, Volume 1 for other presses though even that has not happened for some years as near as I can tell. As a writer, he had more than thirty published stories and he had won both a Stoker for The Darker Side: Generations of Horror anthology and an International Horror Guild Award for his Darkside: Horror for the Next Millennium anthology. (Died 2021.)
  • Born July 19, 1963 Garth Nix, 58. Writer of children’s and young adult fantasy novels, to wit the Keys to the KingdomOld Kingdom, and Seventh Tower series. The Ragwitch which I read quite some time ago is quite excellent and being a one-off can give you a good taste of him without committing to a series. 
  • Born July 19, 1969 Kelly Link, 52. First, let me note that along with Ellen Datlow, she and her husband Gavin Grant were responsible for the last five volumes of The Year’s Best Fantasy & Horror. They all did a magnificent job. All of her collections, Pretty MonstersMagic for Beginners and Get in Trouble are astonishingly good. And she’s much honored having won a Hugo Award, three Nebula Awards, a World Fantasy Award, an Otherwise Award, a Sturgeon Award and received a MacArthur Genius Grant.
  • Born July 19, 1976 Benedict Cumberbatch, 45. Confession time: I really didn’t care for him in the Sherlock Holmes series as that series didn’t work for me, nor did I think his Khan In Star Trek Into Darkness was all that interesting but his Stephen Strange In Doctor Strange was quite excellent. He did do a superb job of voicing Smaug in The Hobbit, and his Grinch-voicing in the latter film was also superb. And yes, he’s the voice of Satan in Good Omens.

(11) COMICS SECTION.

(12) GETTING PAID. The Hollywood Reporter discovers that “Marvel, DC Offer ‘Shut Up Money’ As Comic Creators Go Public”.

… Multiple comic creators have publicly stated that DC’s payments for adaptations, in general, is higher. Comic creator Jim Starlin turned heads in 2017 when he publicly noted that Warner Bros. paid him more for a minor character that appeared in DC’s Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice than he received for Marvel’s major Guardians of the Galaxy characters Thanos, Gamora and Drax combined. After Starlin’s airing of grievances, Disney renegotiated his deal for Thanos, the villain of Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame. Those films went on to gross $4.83 billion globally, and Starlin, while not sharing details of his deal, walked away happy. “The cliche is that the squeaky wheel gets the grease,” Starlin tells The Hollywood Reporter. “The way these agreements are written up, Disney can be more generous if they want. It is written right there that they can change the terms to make it better.”

There’s no legal obligation to make additional payments for adaptations, with companies such as Marvel viewing these payments as thank-you gifts — and
a way to avoid the bad publicity of warring with a creator. “It’s ‘shut-up’ money,” as one Marvel creator who receives such payments, but also declined to share details of compensation, likes to call it. Even if companies have no legal obligation to compensate these writers and artists, paying more is akin to contract renegotiations with an actor. If a TV show or movie is a smash success, studios believe it makes sense to offer an actor more money for the sequel (or the next season of TV) to keep them happy. No one wants a bitter actor on set….

(13) THE SQUAD. DC dropped a Suicide Squad “In On The Action Featurette”. Comes to HBO Max on August 6.

Welcome to hell—a.k.a. Belle Reve, the prison with the highest mortality rate in the US of A. Where the worst Super-Villains are kept and where they will do anything to get out—even join the super-secret, super-shady Task Force X. Today’s do-or-die assignment? Assemble a collection of cons, including Bloodsport, Peacemaker, Captain Boomerang, Ratcatcher 2, Savant, King Shark, Blackguard, Javelin and everyone’s favorite psycho, Harley Quinn. Then arm them heavily and drop them (literally) on the remote, enemy-infused island of Corto Maltese. Trekking through a jungle teeming with militant adversaries and guerrilla forces at every turn, the Squad is on a search-and-destroy mission with only Colonel Rick Flag on the ground to make them behave…and Amanda Waller’s government techies in their ears, tracking their every movement. And as always, one wrong move and they’re dead (whether at the hands of their opponents, a teammate, or Waller herself). If anyone’s laying down bets, the smart money is against them—all of them.

(14) WILLIAM F. NOLAN & CO. At the Rod Serling Memorial Foundation website, a 1999 article about the many-named writing group Christopher Conlon likes to call the “Southern California Sorcerers”.

…Group member William F. Nolan, whose film credits include Burnt Offerings and Trilogy of Terror, explains: “We’d talk plot, read stories we’d finished for opinions, talk about markets and what was selling and who was buying, discuss character development and structure, and, yes, we’d argue, but in a constructive way. We all helped each other…and inter-connected on projects.”

“Sometimes, of an evening,” Ray Bradbury has written, “Richard Matheson would toss up there merest dustfleck of a notion, which would bounce off William F. Nolan, knock against George Clayton Johnson, glance off me, and land in [Charles Beaumont’s] lap. ..Sometimes we all loved an idea so much we had to assign it to the writer present who showed the widest grin, the brightest cheeks, the most fiery eyes.”

Direct collaborations between Group members were common. And no wonder. In those early days, most of them, particularly the “inner circle” of Nolan, Charles Beaumont, George Clayton Johnson, and novelist John Tomerlin, were men in their twenties who were just beginning their careers. They found strength, encouragement, and a sense of solidarity in the company of other struggling young writers. Because of the Group, says Nolan, “We were not alone; we had each other to fire us creatively, to bounce ideas around, to solve plot problems. It was the best kind of writing class that could ever be imagined.”…

(15) YOUTH MOVEMENT. In the Washington Post, Dalvin Brown says that Facebook has come up with new software that lets robots walk like toddlers, which might be a good first step in letting robots walk like human adults. Especially if it lets robots learn to do so without falling down all the time, for which they’re less prepared than toddlers. “Facebook reveals AI development to help robots move in uncharted territory”

Facebook developed what it calls a foundational “breakthrough” in the race to create more humanlike robots: software that enables machines to learn to walk like toddlers.

Humans are very efficient at maneuvering. As kids, we figure out how to adjust our stride and cadence to trek through mud, water, and up and down hills with ease. Through trial and error, we adapt, figuring out the best ways to move our feet according to real-time situations. And we can do this while toting a variety of objects, either in our hands or on our backs.It’s tough to program robots to make instantaneous adjustments to their legs and feet to accommodate such a variety of tasks, mainly because it’s hard to train themto deal with corner cases, or objects and environments they’ve never seen before….

(16) CLIMB THE HIGHEST MOUNTAIN. Sure, that’s easy for you to say. According to Gizmodo, “Neutron Stars Have Mountains That Are Less Than a Millimeter Tall” but that would be one big step even for Barlennan.

A team of astrophysicists recently used new models of neutron stars to map the mountains—tiny raised areas—on the stars’ otherwise perfectly spherical structures. They found that the greatest deviations were still extraordinarily small due to the intense gravitational pull, clocking in at less than a millimeter tall.

Neutron stars are the dead cores of once-huge stars that collapsed in on themselves. They are the densest objects in the Universe aside from black holes. They’re called neutron stars because their gravity is so intense that the electrons in their atoms collapse into the protons, forming neutrons. They’re so compact that they pack a mass greater than that of our Sun into a sphere no wider than a city.

(17) VIDEO OF THE DAY. Sleepy Hollow International Film Festival, Creature Features and La-La Land Entertainment present a virtual panel celebrating the 30th anniversary of Arachnophobia with director Frank Marshall and special guests.

Recorded in November 2020, moderator Mike Matessino hosts a lively and informative discussion with ARACHNOPHOBIA’s director / executive producer Frank Marshall, co-producer Richard Vane, actor Peter Jason, production designer James Bissell and entomologist Steve Kutcher.

No stranger to delighting audiences worldwide for decades, Mr. Marshall, producer of RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK, POLTERGEIST and JURASSIC WORLD, made his directorial debut with ARACHNOPHOBIA in 1990, bringing rapt audiences to the edge of their seats with laughter and shrieks in equal measure. The film has remained a beloved fan favorite to this day and its appreciation continues to grow as it connects with a new generation. Now, Mr. Marshall and special guests take you behind the film, its production, and its astounding spider effects and action!

[Thanks to JJ, Michael Toman, Joel Zakem, James Davis Nicoll, David K.M. Klaus, Daniel Dern, John King Tarpinian, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, and Martin Morse Wooster for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to contributing editor of the day David Shallcross.]

Pixel Scroll 7/12/21 Your Pixel Will Be Transferred To The Next Available Scroll

(1) CADIGAN’S GOOD NEWS. Pat Cadigan put out two health updates in May. The first discussed her apprehension about her forthcoming usual blood test: “Guess What? You’re Scared!”

Life in Cancerland: no matter how well-adjusted you may think you are, you’re not. Pro tip: that’s okay. It’s not your job to be well-adjusted. Your job is to stay alive. Trust me; I‘m experienced.

The second was about the good report: “Okay. Okay. Okay, Yes, Okay!”

If you heard something you thought was a crazy banshee on party drugs, that was me.

The Macmillan Cancer Centre told me they were going to call me this afternoon. Instead, they called this morning and it’s taken me a while to calm down enough to type.

The level of cancer in my body has dropped a whole bunch of points. Everything else is okay, except I have to stop taking calcium supplements because I’ve got a little too much.

So I’m off calcium supplements and I don’t get another oncology appointment for another six months. Just as well. I need a couple of days to pull myself together after this one.

So now I know. Cancer is afraid of me. It should be.

(2) SCREEN TIME. James Davis Nicoll recommends “Five SF Stories About Raising the Children of the Future” at Tor.com. And his footnotes are not to be missed.

In the years following World War II, Americans celebrated the end of a global war and a recovery from a previous decade of economic crisis by producing an astounding number of children, with consequences that are still unrolling to this day. It was a veritable explosion in birthrates—someone should invent a snappy term for it. Maybe the Big Bang Theory?

This focus on children was reflected in the American science fiction of the day….

“The Veldt” by Ray Bradbury (1950)

Unlike Merril’s vision of the future, the America that Bradbury’s Hadley family calls home is a peaceful, prosperous nation. The parents use their impressive incomes to provide their children with the best of all possible childhoods in a fully automated Happylife Home.

Primitive Americans might have settled for plunking their kids down in front of ten-inch black-and-white TV sets showing Howdy Doody. Happylife Houses offer what we would probably call virtual reality suites. Every setting the children could possibly desire is available. The realism of the settings is astounding. Mr. and Mrs. Hadley are duly astounded…albeit very briefly….

(3) RECOVERY WORK. Erin Underwood says, “I finally wrote a blog post that should have been written 10 years ago about what it is like to be a new fan who is marginalized at a convention.” — “The Overpowering Power of Men at Conventions”.

…I was invisible. I was an obstacle that he pushed aside in order to have his more important conversation with Jack. I think about this now and I know that I am not the only person who has had something like this happen at a convention. Yes, it’s a small thing, but it is an example of how women have been treated in society for far too long, including convention society. The fact that it has taken me 10 years to publicly post about this also speaks to social issues of embarrassment and fear of condemnation by some members of our society….

(4) HOURGLASS. Abigail Nussbaum breaks down Black Widow at Asking the Wrong Questions. BEWARE SPOILERS.

… But the thing is, Natasha Romanoff is not James Bond. Her emotional reserve isn’t counteracted by the outsized place she takes in the world, and by the attention and obsequiousness of everyone she encounters. On the contrary, the character has always been defined by her ability to disappear into the crowd, to be whatever people need her to be without them ever stopping to wonder why that is. Her signature move—which is repeated in Black Widow, in the climactic showdown between Natasha and Dreykov—is to get overconfident men to spill the beans about their secret plans by pretending to be weaker and more vulnerable than she actually is. Scarlett Johansson’s genius in interpreting the role was in nevertheless finding hints of personality and humor in this reserved, centerless person. But Black Widow was an opportunity to peer beneath that façade, to let the person Natasha is when she isn’t performing for anyone take center stage (or, conversely, to grapple with what it means that that person doesn’t exist). Instead, it chooses to double down on its heroine’s chameleon quality, even in the presence of the people she considers family. The result is that Natasha might be her own film’s chief mover, but not its protagonist….

(5) THE SUSPENSE BEHIND THE CAMERA. In the Washington Post, Michael Cavna, in a piece with a spoiler warning, interviews Black Widow director Cate Shortland and star David Harbour about the “family dinner” scene that has revelations about the family Natasha Romanoff grew up in. BEWARE SPOILERS. “How ‘Black Widow’ nailed its moving family dinner scene — where no action was involved”.

There are no pyrotechnic effects. The dramatic tension does not revolve around swooping aircraft or lethal hand-to-hand combat. Yet it is the most enlightening “Black Widow” scene — one that screenwriter Eric Pearson “had the most panic about.”…

 “That was our biggest scene — a megillah,” Pearson says by phone. In a Marvel movie packed with action, the dialogue-rich Family Dinner ran nine pages. Every exchange, every emotional beat had to deepen the film while explaining the personal stakes for each of these psychologically warped characters….

(6) SOUNDS FAMILIAR. Enjoy this short parody video on “How Women Are Written In Sci-Fi Movies”.

(7) FULL CIRCLE. [Item by Cat Eldridge.] Not genre but worth noting. Well, they did occasionally delve into Thing Supernatural.“Bryant & May author Christopher Fowler: ‘Writing the end was really emotional’” in The Guardian.

… This month London Bridge Is Falling Down, Fowler’s 20th Bryant & May crime novel, will be published, bringing to a close a much-loved series that started in 2003 with Full Dark House. The books feature the unconventional detective duo Arthur Bryant and John May of London’s Peculiar Crimes Unit, who solve arcane murders whose occult significance baffles more traditional detectives. Crime fiction aficionados can amuse themselves by spotting references to classics of the golden age, whose plots and twists Fowler ingeniously projects on to the era of computers and mobile phones. Everyone else can enjoy the endlessly bantering and discursive dialogue between the pair as they break all procedural rules, and the uniquely droll narrative voice with its sharp-eyed slant on modern life.

…Of course London has moved on inexorably since Fowler began his writing career, and co-founded his film marketing company the Creative Partnership at the age of 26. Soho is not the international film hub it once was, in the heady days when the company was working on 15 films a month, including marketing campaigns for Reservoir Dogs and Trainspotting. One of Fowler’s claims to fame from the time is mentioned in Film Freak. “Asked to provide poster straplines for Alien, I wrote several pages of them, including ‘In space no one can hear you scream’. I assume I wasn’t the only person to think of this – it’s an obvious line,” he writes.

“Someone else laid claim to it this month, I noticed,” he says now. “I love it! But we worked on it first, because it was shooting in the UK. Ridley Scott came to see us and gave us a drawing of an egg and said: ‘That’s really all I can tell you – and it’s going to be very frightening.’ We used to get paid £20 per page of copylines and that was the one they went with.”

(8) SEASON’S READINGS. Former President Obama continues his tradition of sharing his summer reading list, which includes some genre works:

(9) ROCHA OBIT. DC Comics artist Robson Rocha has died. The announcement came two weeks after a colleague tweeted an appeal for blood donors because the artist was hospitalized with COVID-19.

CBR.com listed the highlights of Rocha’s career:

Rocha is known for his work on titles such as Birds of PreyBatman/SupermanBatman: Arkham KnightSuperboy and more. He has also provided cover art for Aquaman (in addition to being the series’ main artist), Supergirl and Teen Titans, among other major DC books. Rocha became a breakout star following DC Rebirth in 2016, though he had worked with the publisher before that on other projects.

SYFY Wire rounded up tributes from Rocha’s colleagues in social media: “Robson Rocha: Comics world mourns passing of DC Comics artist”.

(10) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

  • July 12, 1969 — Fifty-two years ago on this date, BBC 1 aired  the “Where No Man Has Gone Before” episode of Star Trek. It was the third episode of the first season and the second pilot shown. It was directed by James Goldstone and written by Samuel A. Peeples whose only other Trek script was for the pilot episode of the animated series, “Beyond the Farthest Star”.  (He would later write the scripts for the first six episodes for Jason of Star Command which was when James Doohan was involved.)  The primary guests were Gary Lockwood  as Lt. Cmdr. Gary Mitchell and Sally Kellerman as Dr. Elizabeth Dehner. It is notable for the absence of the series regulars of McCoy, Uhura , and Chekov.  Reception, now and then, was universally superb for the episode with it being considered one of the finest ones across all of the series.  The episode would be adapted into a short story by James Blish for his Star Trek 8 anthology, and it also became the second in Bantam’s Fotonovels series.

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born July 12, 1895 — Buckminster Fuller. Genre adjacent and I don’t believe that he actually wrote any SF though one could argue that Tetrascroll: Goldilocks and the Three Bears, A Cosmic Fairy Tale is sort of genre. You will find his terminology used frequently in genre fiction. (Died 1983.)
  • Born July 12, 1923 — James Gunn. Writer, editor, scholar, anthologist. Hugo winner at ConStellation for Isaac Asimov: The Foundations of Science Fiction. He won another Hugo at MidAmeriCon for Alternate Worlds: The Illustrated History of Science Fiction. Not surprisingly, he won a First Fandom Hall of Fame Award. He’s extremely well stocked at the usual suspects. (Died 2020.)
  • Born July 12, 1933 — Donald E. Westlake. Though he specialized in crime fiction, he did dip into the genre on occasion such as with Transylvania Station which you could think of as a Clue-style novel he wrote with his wife Abby. On the horror end of things was Anarchaos. And he wrote a lot of genre short fiction, some fifty pieces by my count. Meteor Strike: Science Fiction Triple Feature which has three of his SF stories is available from the usual suspects for ninety-nine cents. (Died 2008.)
  • Born July 12, 1947 — Carl Lundgren, 74. He co-founded ASFA (Association of Science Fiction & Fantasy Artists of America), and won 4 Chesleys, including Artistic Achievement. At the tender age of eighteen, he was co-chairman of the first media SF convention, The Detroit Triple Fan Fair which featured comics, movies and various things of a SF nature. At Chicon IV, he was nominated for Best Professional Artist but lost out to Michael Whelan.
  • Born July 12, 1961 — Scott Nimerfro. He had an impressive production list of genre films and series he did, to wit Tales From The CryptTrekkiesX-MenPerversions Of ScienceThe GatesPushing Daisies, and the Once Upon A Time series which he produced three seasons of. He has one genre acting credit in “Let the Punishment Fit the Crime” story of Tales From The Crypt in which he was Fouser. (Died 2016.)
  • Born July 12, 1968 — Sara Griffiths, 53. She appeared as Ray in the Seventh Doctor story “Delta and the Bannermen”.  She was being considered as a companion to the Doctor, a role however taken by Sophie Aldred as Ace.
  • Born July 12, 1975 — Phil Lord, 46. Shared a Hugo for Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse at Dublin 2019. With co-director Christopher Miller, he’ll be doing the sequel to it. They also co-produced The Last Man on Earth series, and he executive produced Solo: A Star War Story.
  • Born July 12, 1976– Gwenda Bond, 45. Writer, critic, editor. She’s written a prequel to the Stranger Things series, Suspicious Mind, and I’m very fond of the two novels (The Lost Legacy and The Sphinx’s Secret) so far in her Supernormal Sleuthing Service which she wrote with her husband Christopher Rowe.  And she penned the Dear Aunt Gwenda section of Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet that Small Beer Press published in the early part of this millennium. 

(12) BRANDING. The Conversation details how “China is using mythology and sci-fi to sell its space programme to the world”.

…China’s construction of its own space station stems from the nation’s exclusion from the International Space Station, a result of US concerns over technology transfers that could enhance China’s military capabilities. Undeterred by this, China has forged ahead with its own space programmes and alliances. Since, the country has demonstrated that the Chinese “brand” of space technology is reputable and can hold its own in the international arena.

An impressive track record of remarkable space endeavours is not the only thing that distinguishes China’s space brand from other national players. The government and related organisations have made concerted efforts to establish a unique “Chinese space culture” alongside the country’s advances in space technology. While the target audience for many of these cultural creations remains domestic, China’s space ambitions are directed at global audiences in a variety of ways.

Legendary beginnings

Perhaps the most obvious example of this is the naming of these programmes after China’s traditional roots.

The name Tiangong translates as “Heavenly Palace”. This was the residence of the deity who holds supreme authority over the universe in Chinese mythology, the Celestial Ruler. The name is particularly fitting for a Chinese space station, which acts as a home in the heavens for the country’s taikonauts. The meaning of Shenzhou, the missions that take taikonauts to space, is “Divine Vessel”, which is also a homophone for an ancient name for China, “Divine Land”.

China’s lunar exploration missions, meanwhile, are named after the legendary Moon goddess Chang’e. The tale goes that Chang’e flew from Earth to the Moon after stealing the elixir of immortality from her husband, Hou Yi….

(13) ENCANTO. A trailer dropped for Disney’s Encanto. The movie will be out in November.

Walt Disney Animation Studios’ “Encanto,” is the tale of an extraordinary family, the Madrigals, who live hidden in the mountains of Colombia in a magical house, in a vibrant town, in a wondrous, charmed place called an Encanto. The all-new original film features the voice of Stephanie Beatriz as Mirabel, an ordinary 15-year-old who’s struggling to find her place in her family.

(14) HELLO, DOLLIES. “It’s Hollywood Barbie’s Moment (and She’s Bringing Her Friends)” reports the New York Times.

[In addition to BARBIE, in which Margot (Harley Quinn) Robbie was recently announced as starring in,] The dozen other films in Mattel’s pipeline include a live-action Hot Wheels spectacle; a horror film based on the fortunetelling Magic 8 Ball; a wide-audience Thomas the Tank Engine movie that combines animation and live action; and, in partnership with Sony Pictures Entertainment, a big-screen Masters of the Universe adventure about the cosmos that includes He-Man and his superheroic sister, She-Ra.

Mattel, Universal and Vin Diesel are collaborating on a live-action movie based on Rock ’Em Sock ’Em Robots, a tabletop game introduced in 1966. Lena Dunham (HBO’s “Girls”) is directing and writing a live-action family comedy based on Mattel’s Polly Pocket line of micro-dolls. Lily Collins (“Emily in Paris”) will play the title role and produce; Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer is the distribution and financing partner.

Mattel has also announced movies based on View-Master, American Girl and Uno, the ubiquitous card game. (If you think an Uno movie sounds like a satirical headline from The Onion, consider this: There are non-Mattel movies in development in Hollywood that are based on Play-Doh and Peeps, the Easter candy.)

(15) IT’S A MYSTERY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In the spoiler-filled ‘Black Widow Pitch Meeting” on Screen Rant Ryan George reminds us the reason Black Widow came out now instead of several years ago was a comment (made before Wonder Woman) by deposed Marvel CEO Ike Perlmutter that “superhero movies starring women don’t make money.”  But who is the mysterious character who shows up at the end credits and tells everyone to subscribe to Disney Plus?

(16) QUOTES AND SOCIAL MEDIA. This version of Groucho Marx’s quote is the best known:

I find television very educational. Every time someone switches it on, I go into the other room and read a book.

Somebody sent it to File 770 today and lest any commenter prove it really originated with Abraham Lincoln, Voltaire, or some other TV watcher, I ran a Google search. Quote Investigator assures us Groucho said it first – phrased as follows:

I must say I find television very educational. The minute somebody turns it on, I go into the library and read a good book.

That’s a pretty cynical attitude for “the leer”—that’s me, Groucho—and now that I’m a part of television, or “TV” as we say out here on the Coast, I don’t mean a word of it.

It was in a short article he wrote to promote his own soon-to-debut TV show.

(17) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] This video, written by Ryan George, features Brandon Calder as Donald McDonald, Professional Audio Movie Consultant, who explains that he used to capture sounds in movies by actually duplicating scenes in movies but after breaking his ankles to provide the sound for that scene in Misery he found it safer to create sound effects! “THE Sound Effects Tutorial — Pro Tips By Pitch Meeting”.

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

Pixel Scroll 5/31/21 I’m At The Godstalk, The Death Star, The Second Fifth Hotel, The Pixels Keep On Scrolling And Rolling Files As Well

(1) HANSEN BOOK FREE FROM TAFF. Another ebook is available from the Trans-Atlantic Fan Fund’s website, #60 in the free library, Rob Hansen’s Faan Fiction 1930-2020: an exploration. Cover artwork adapted from Rob Hansen’s cover for his fanzine Epsilon #7, July 1981. Approximately 61,000 words. (TAFF hopes you’ll make a little donation to the fund if you please.)

In this combined critique and anthology, Rob Hansen discusses the phenomenon of fan fiction (in the fannish fanzine sense) with a particular focus on the UK. His commentary is interspersed with many examples from such diverse fan writers as John Berry, C.S. Youd (John Christopher), Leroy Kettle, David Langford, Mark Plummer, Bob Shaw, Ian Sorensen, James White, Walt Willis – and Rob Hansen himself, including previously unpublished work. There are several surprises.

From Rob Hansen’s Foreword:

One aspect of fandom only lightly touched on by me in Then was fan fiction. By which, of course, I mean fiction about fans and/or fandom. This is a thread that has been woven through SF fandom since it began, enduring almost to the present day, and so is worthy of consideration in that light. I’ll be looking at the people who wrote it and all its various forms and the purposes to which they were put. Inevitably, the quality of the writing varies wildly, with that of those who later went on to write professionally usually being a cut above the rest.

…Where possible the pieces of fan fiction reprinted herein to illustrate various types and forms – all by UK fans – were specifically chosen from those not already available. As a result, most will be things the majority of readers won’t have encountered before.

(2) SF ART COLLECTORS WILL SPEAK. Tomorrow on Comic Art Spotlight Doug Ellis joins a panel with three friends — Glynn Crain, John Davis & Victor Dricks — discussing SF/fantasy art.  All four have large collections of vintage SF art. They’ll be highlighting and discussing various artists and pieces in those collections, including creators like Virgil Finlay, Frank Kelly Freas, Ed Emshwiller, Wally Wood, Ed Valigursky, George Barr and many more.  The panel kicks off June 1 at 8:00 p.m. Eastern:

(3) PLONK YOUR MAGIC TWANGER. The Haffner Press’ two-volume edition of The Complete John the Balladeer by Manly Wade Wellman is available for pre-order.

John, whose last name is never revealed, is a wandering singer who carries a guitar strung with strings of pure silver. He is a veteran of the Korean War and served in the U.S. Army as a sharpshooter (in the novel After Dark, he mentions that his highest rank was PFC). In his travels, he frequently encounters creatures and superstitions from the folk tales and superstitions of the mountain people. Though John has no formal education, he is self-taught, highly intelligent and widely read; it is implied that his knowledge of occult and folk legendarium is of Ph.D level. This knowledge has granted him competent use of white magic, which he has used on occasion to overcome enemies or obstacles, but it is primarily his courage, wit and essential goodness that always enables him to triumph over supernatural evils (although the silver strings of his guitar and his possession of a copy of The Long Lost Friend are also powerful tools in fighting evil magic), while basic Army training allows him to physically deal with human foes.

Haffner recently posted this photo of artist Tim Kirk’s dropcaps for the book.

(4) FEELIN’ GROOVY. John Coulthart has a gallery of “groovy” sf covers in “The art of Mike Hinge, 1931–2003” at { feuilleton }.

Back in March I ended my post on the psychedelia-derived art style that I think of as “the groovy look” with the words “there’s a lot more to be found.” There is indeed, and I’d neglected to include anything in the post by Mike Hinge, a New Zealand-born illustrator whose covers for American SF magazines in the 1970s brought a splash of vivid colour to the groove-deprived world of science fiction. This was a rather belated development for staid titles like Amazing and Analog whose covers in the previous decade wouldn’t have looked out of place in the Gernsback era. Opening the door to someone like Mike Hinge, a graphic designer as well as a general illustrator, was probably a result of both magazines having undergone recent changes of editorship.

(5) HEVELIN COLLECTION UPDATE. [Item by Bruce D. Arthurs.]Just found out the University of Iowa’s “Hevelin Collection” Tumblr account, which posted pics of items from Rusty Hevelin’s collection of fanzine and other SFnal material (but has been inactive for the last several years), announced about ten days ago they’re officially suspending the Tumblr. (But past posts will remain online for the foreseeable future.)

But you can still see over 700 fanzines, etc., from the Hevelin Collection in the Iowa Digital Library: Hevelin Fanzines — The University of Iowa Libraries.

And rather than single pictures like the Tumbler account did, the IDL archive leads to scans of the full contents, so far as I’ve tested it. Probably a fair amount of overlap with Fanac.org and eFanzines.com, but always good to have fannish history backed up in multiple places.

(The IDL archive may, it occurs to me, be old news to those who keep up with fanzines past and and present more than I do. “Slight” is a polite way to describe my level of involvement these days. Still, news to me.)

(6) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

  • May 31, 1990 — On this day in 1990, Paul Verhoeven’s Total Recall premiered. It starred Arnold Schwarzenegger, Rachel Ticotin, Sharon Stone, Ronny Cox, and Michael Ironside. It’s rather loosely based on Philip K. Dick‘s “We Can Remember It for You Wholesale” story. Ronald Shusett, Dan O’Bannon and Gary Goldman wrote the screenplay. It finished second at Chicon V for Best Dramatic Presentation to Edward Scissorhands.  Most critics liked it well-enough though a number of feminist critics thought it excessively violent towards women. It currently holds a seventy-eight percent rating among audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes. 

(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]

  • Born May 31, 1893 – Elizabeth Coatsworth.  Newbery Medal for The Cat Who Went to Heaven (1930).  Four “incredible tales” for adults; four books of poetry; ninety in all; memoir Personal Geography.  (Died 1986) [JH]
  • Born May 31, 1895 — George R. Stewart. As recently noted in the Scroll, his 1949 novel Earth Abides won the first International Fantasy Award in 1951. They were a British award and the first one, this very one, was given at Festivention. Other genre works would include Man, An Autobiography and Storm which is at least genre adjacent. (Died 1980.) (CE)
  • Born May 31, 1910 – Aubrey MacDermott.  Possibly the first fan.  He always said he was. Unfortunately, the supporting evidence is thin.  He may well have founded the Eastbay Club in the San Francisco Bay area around 1928.  Anyway, he was Fan Guest of Honor at Westercon XXXX (Oakland, 1987).  Here is his Origin Story as of 1990.  (Died 1996) [JH]
  • Born May 31, 1921 – Arthur Sellings.  Six novels, fifty shorter stories, in Fantastic, Galaxy, Imagination, The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, NebulaNew WorldsNew WritingWorlds of Tomorrow. Antiquarian, book & art dealer.  (Died 1968) [JH]
  • Born May 31, 1930 — Gary Brandner. Best remembered for his werewolf trilogy of novels, The Howling, of which the first was very loosely made into a film. He wrote the script for Howling II: Your Sister Is a Werewolf. The fourth film of the series, Howling IV: The Original Nightmare, is actually almost an accurate adaptation of the first novel. He wrote a lot of other horror and penned the novelization of Cat People. (Died 2013.) (CE) 
  • Born May 31, 1942 – Brian Burley.  Active fan in Ohio and New York.  Co-founded Marcon.  In 1979 he was in FISTFA (Fannish Insurgent Scientifictional Ass’n); here he is (with S.H. Craig and Pat O’Neill) on “Fandom in New York” for the Lunacon XXII Program Book.  Co-founded the Beaker People Libation Front, which Fancyclopedia III mildly calls “not entirely serious”; see here.  (Died 2006) [JH]
  • Born May 31, 1948 — Lynda Bellingham. She was The Inquisitor in the Sixth Doctor Story, “The Trial of The Time Lord”.  Other genre appearances include the Landlady in Hans Christian Andersen: My Life as a Fairy Tale, and one-offs in Blake’s 7Robin Hood and Julia Jekyll and Harriet Hyde. (Died 2014.) (CE) 
  • Born May 31, 1950 — Gregory Harrison, 71. I’m always surprised to discover a series didn’t last as long as I thought it has. He was Logan 5 in the Logan’s Run TV series which only lasted fourteen episodes. He was also in Dark Skies, twenty episodes before cancellation, as the voice of Old John Loengard, and had one-offs in Dead Man’s Gun (cursed object and that series actually lasted awhile), Touched by an AngelOuter Limits and Miracles. (CE)
  • Born May 31, 1961 — Lea Thompson, 60. She’s obviously best known for her role as Lorraine Baines in the Back to the Future trilogy though I remember her first as Beverly Switzler in Howard the Duck as I saw Back to the Future after I saw Howard the Duck. Not sure why that was. Her first genre role was actually as Kelly Ann Bukowski in Jaws 3-D, a film I most decidedly did not see. If you accept the Scorpion series as genre, she’s got a recurring role as Veronica Dineen on it. (CE)
  • Born May 31, 1977 – Cat Hellisen, age 44.  Fantasy for adults and children; free-lance editing; also archery, aikidô, figure skating.  Six novels, a score of shorter stories.  “The Worme Bridge” won the Short Story Day Africa award.  More recently in Fife she likes the forests and the fields and the Forth.  Has read Giovanni’s RoomFlatlandHerland, five plays by Aeschylus, Peter Pan, both Alice books, Les liasons dangereusesThe Wonderful Wizard of Oz.  [JH]
  • Born May 31, 1979 — Sophia McDougall, 42. She has a very well crafted alternative history series,  the Romanitas series, In which Rome did not fall and rules the world today. She has two SF novels —Mars Evacuees is sort of YA alien invasion novel; Space Hostages reminds of a Heinlein YA novel. (CE)
  • Born May 31, 1995 – Jeremy Szal, age 26.  One novel, thirty shorter stories.  Fiction editor at StarShipSofa 2014-2020 (Episodes 360-600).  Collects boutique gins.  See his review of Predestination at Strange Horizons here.  [JH]

(8) COMICS SECTION.

  • Half Full could be making a combined Alice in Wonderland and Simon & Garfunkel joke. Or not.

(9) WRITING PROMPT. From Agatha Chocolats:

Popehat suggests: “Cthulhu fhtagn exact change only.”

(10) SHAVER MYSTERY MAGAZINE ADDED BY FANAC. “If you’ve been hearing the words ‘Shaver Mysteries’ bruited about, now’s your chance to see what all the fuss is over,” says Fanac.org’s Joe Siclari. Check here: Shaver Mystery Magazine, by Richard S. Shaver. There are 7 issues of this semi-pro, related zine. 

Siclari further says, “Some might not consider this a fanzine because rumor has it that it was paid for by Ray Palmer and Ziff-Davis. However the Shaver Mystery stories were a subject of great controversy in fanzines. So it is of related interest. It definitely was not a money-maker. It seems to fit into the category we later called a semi-prozine. And the art! McCauley, Finlay…”

(11) JUMPING IN. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In the Washington Post, Michael Cavna interviews Pepe The Frog creator Matt Furie who is trying to recapture his character from the alt-right by creating non-fungible tokens featuring Pepe and other of Furie’s characters that have sold for up to $1 million. “Matt Furie is trying to reclaim his famous cartoon Pepe the Frog — through NFTs”.

To Furie, the NFT realm is about more than coin. During the era of Donald Trump, extremist social media users adapted Pepe so often that the Anti-Defamation League deemed it a hate symbol. But the exploding world of crypto-art is allowing the cartoonist to reclaim a character who was never meant to stand for much beyond love, peace, hedonism and altered-state chillaxin’.

“The NFT world is new, and there are a lot of optimistic people creating cool things,” Furie says of his interest in exploring non-fungible tokens — unique digital files whose origins and ownership can be verified.“Pepe does not have the baggage here that he does in the ‘real world,’ and I like working with utopians and optimistic freethinkers. There are so many possibilities.”

(12) A SCHULZ CURIOSITY. Cavna has also written: “Three ‘lost’ Charles Schulz strips have been rediscovered. Do they show the adult Lucy Van Pelt?”To some, they resemble “Peanuts” characters — if Charlie Brown and the gang had ever grown up.

These rare curiosities intrigue and baffle even the experts. “They’re a puzzle to me,” says Jean Schulz, wife of the late cartoonist Charles M. Schulz, who drew them.

They are the seven black-and-white works of comic art from the mid-’50s collectively called the “Hagemeyer” strips. Four of them have appeared in books. The three other “lost” strips were found and purchased at auction in May 2020— but have never been widely published, according to the Charles M. Schulz Museum and Research Center.

(13) IT’S IMPOSSIBLE. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] From this week’s Nature: “First Nuclear Test Created Impossible ‘Quasicrystals’”.

SF is full of exotic substances from Cavorite to Corbomite. Now it has been discovered that the world’s first nuclear bomb test created ‘impossible’ quasicrystals.

The previously unknown structure, made of iron, silicon, copper and calcium, probably formed from the fusion of vaporised desert sand and copper cables. Quasicrystals contain building blocks made up of arrangements of atoms that — unlike those in ordinary crystals — do not repeat in a regular, brickwork-like pattern. They have symmetries that were once considered impossible.

Materials scientist Daniel Shechtman first discovered such an impossible symmetry in a synthetic alloy in 1982. He won the 2011 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for the discovery. In subsequent years, materials scientists synthesised many types of quasicrystal,
expanding the range of possible symmetries. In the aftermath of the Trinity test — the first detonation of a nuclear bomb in 1945 researchers found a field of greenish glassy material that had formed from the liquefaction of desert sand. They dubbed this trinitite. The bomb had been detonated on top of a 30-metre-high tower laden with sensors and their cables. As a result, some of the trinitite had reddish inclusions: it was a fusion of natural material with copper from the transmission lines. The quasicrystal recently found from this trinitite has the same kind of icosahedral symmetry as the one in Shechtman’s original discovery.

(14) NOW IN 3-D. Nature also reports on “The most detailed 3D map of the Universe ever made”.

A survey of the southern sky has reconstructed how mass is spread across space and time, in the biggest study of its kind. The data provide striking evidence that dark energy, the force that appears to be pushing the Universe to accelerate its expansion, has been constant throughout cosmic history.

The Dark Energy Survey (DES) collaboration revealed its results in an online briefing on 27 May and in several papers posted online1.

…The researchers grouped the galaxies by colour, to get a rough indication of each galaxy’s distance from our own: as the Universe expands, galaxies that are further away appear redder because their light waves have stretched out to longer wavelengths. That way, the team was able to add a third dimension to its map.

Looking further away also corresponds to looking to the past, so a 3D cosmic map provides a record of the Universe’s history. By tracking how galaxies spread out over time, cosmologists can then indirectly measure the forces at play. These include the gravitational pull of dark matter, the invisible stuff that constitutes some 80% of the Universe’s mass and dominates the formation of galaxies and clusters of galaxies.

(15) DRONE WARFARE. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] It’s not exactly a Terminator-style HK-VTOL, but the first autonomous wartime kill by a robot might have happened last year in Libya. Gizmodo reports on the story: “The Age of Autonomous Killer Robots May Already Be Here”.

…“The lethal autonomous weapons systems were programmed to attack targets without requiring data connectivity between the operator and the munition: in effect, a true ‘fire, forget and find’ capability,” the UN Security Council’s Panel of Experts on Libya wrote in the report.

It remains unconfirmed whether any soldiers were killed in the attack, although the UN experts imply as much. The drone, which can be directed to self-destruct on impact, was “highly effective” during the conflict in question when used in combination with unmanned combat aerial vehicles, according to the panel. The battle resulted in “significant casualties,” it continued, noting that Haftar’s forces had virtually no defense against remote aerial attacks.

The Kargu-2 is a so-called loitering drone that uses machine learning algorithms and real-time image processing to autonomously track and engage targets. According to Turkish weapons manufacturer STM, it’s specifically designed for asymmetric warfare and anti-terrorist operations and has two operating modes, autonomous and manual. Several can also be linked together to create a swarm of kamikaze drones.

(16) CLOCKING IN. CBS Sunday Morning did a segment about “Exploring the boundaries of time travel”.

Breaking the bonds of time has been a timeless pursuit in science fiction stories and movies. Will it ever become science fact? Correspondent Faith Salie explores the possibilities of taking a journey to the future, or the past, even without a souped-up DeLorean.

(17) VIDEO OF THE DAY. In “Cruella Pitch Meeting” on Screen Rant, Ryan George, in a spolier-filled episode, says that the only way to get viewers interested in Cruelle DeVil’s backstory–“How does she become the person who wants to skin puppies?”–is to have her work for a boss even more evil than her.  Also the screenwriter warns the producer that if he wants all those groovy hits of the 1970s in the movie, he’d better have plenty of money for the rights.

[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, John Hertz, David Langford, Jennifer Hawthorne, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, Michael Toman, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to contributing editor of the day Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little.]

Pixel Scroll 5/20/21 When You Said “Pixels” Were You Referring To Credentials Who Can Walk Through Walls?

(1) PROVING LOVE. [Item by Soon Lee.] How did a New Zealand journalist end up on the cover of a Chuck Tingle “Tingler”? Chuck was inspired to write Almost Pounded By The Physical Manifestation Of Simulation Theory After Realizing We’re Erotica Characters Then Deciding To Just Be Friends after listening to a conspiracy theory podcast by New Zealand journalist/documentary maker David Farrier. Tingle then approached Farrier (who has been compared to Louis Theroux) to be on the cover of the story and the rest as they say, is a Tingler cover.

Farrier’s account of the events is here. It includes the full text of the Tingler, available free online, from which this is an except:

…Some people believe these events are proof the natural world isn’t so natural; that everything we’re experiencing might be nothing more than mindbogglingly intricate computer code,” my companion explains.

“Like in Handsome Keanu And The Computers Of Heck?” I retort, recalling one of my favorite science fiction films.

“Sure,” David replies encouragingly. “The idea is that our whole existence could be a creation within another reality external to this one. That reality could be nearly identical to ours, or vastly different in ways we can’t even comprehend. Maybe on the higher plane of existence all these bigfeet, dinosaurs and unicorns are human beings with vaguely similar names. I could be a journalist there, instead of the world renown foot model who sits before you. Maybe on that reality the hit film Handsome Keanu And The Computers Of Heck is called something weird and vague like The Matrix.”…

(2) HOW NOT TO HIRE AN EDITOR. A pro tip from Sarah Chorn.

(3) MALE CALL.  James Davis Nicoll shares his ideas about “strong male protagonists” (his quote) in “Five SFF Novels Featuring Men Who Don’t Give Up Easily” at Tor.com.

When one thinks of science fiction and fantasy protagonists, one thinks of figures like Morgaine (Gate of Ivrel), Essun (The Fifth Season), Cordelia Naismith (Shards of Honor), Beatrice Clayborn (The Midnight Bargain) and Anna Tromedlov (Hench). A casual glance suggests these are generally women, which only makes sense. The majority of fiction readers are women and of course they want relatable characters.

However, it’s entirely possible to write a book with a strong male protagonist at its centre (“strong” as in striking, resolute, and/or determined, not as being able to dead-lift surprising amounts of weight, of course—assessing male characters purely in physical terms would be offensively reductive)…

(4) SHOWS GETTING SECOND ACTS OR THE AX. Will your favorites be back? Deadline rounds up the “2020-21 TV Cancellations & Renewals For Broadcast, Cable & Streaming”. Here’s an excerpt — the list for The CW where so many of the shows are genre. New series in bold.

Batwoman (renewed for Season 3)
Black Lightning (canceled; four seasons; ending in 2021)
Burden of Truth (canceled; four seasons)
Charmed (renewed for Season 4)
DC’s Legends of Tomorrow (renewed for Season 7)
DC’s Stargirl (renewed for Season 3)
Dynasty (renewed for Season 5)
The Flash (renewed for Season 8)
In the Dark (renewed for Season 4)
Kung Fu (renewed for Season 2)
Legacies (renewed for Season 4)
Nancy Drew (renewed for Season 3)
Penn & Teller: Fool Us (renewed for Season 8)
Riverdale (renewed for Season 6)
Roswell, New Mexico (renewed for Season 4)
Supergirl (renewed/canceled; will end after upcoming Season 6)
Superman & Lois (renewed for Season 2)
Two Sentence Horror Stories (renewed for Season 3)

(5) TO THINE OWN SELF. Hadley Freeman interviews William Shatner for The Guardian: “’Take it easy, nothing matters in the end’: William Shatner at 90, on love, loss and Leonard Nimoy”. A lot of good exchanges are sandwiched between these excerpts.

I think I’m arriving good and early for my interview with William Shatner when I click on our video chat link 10 minutes ahead of time. But Shatner has arrived even earlier: there he is, as soon as my Zoom screen opens, poking away at his computer. “I like to get in early to ease my mind. But it’s OK, I can meditate afterwards,” he says. His tone is often heavily ironical, as if he is daring you to accuse him of playing a joke on you. This has led to much discussion from fans about “the Shatner persona”, although Shatner scoffs at the phrase. “I don’t know what that even is,” he says.

I think they think you play up to their expectations, I say.

“What are their expectations? That I’m Captain Kirk? Well, I am Captain Kirk! I don’t know what people mean when they talk about my persona. I’m just myself. If you’re not yourself, who are you?”

…I t feels rude to ask a 90-year-old if he worries about death, so I ask instead what he wishes he had known at 20 that he knows at 90.

“Here’s an interesting answer!” he says perkily. “I’m glad I didn’t know because what you know at 90 is: take it easy, nothing matters in the end, what goes up must come down. If I’d known that at 20, I wouldn’t have done anything!”

Our time is up now, and so Shatner and I bid our farewells. “This is always the awkward bit, before you turn off [the camera],” he says, and then in his ironical voice he says: “Pleasure seeing you! Bye! Bye!” And then, just like a 3D hologram when the electronics stop working, he vanishes.

(6) DECONSTRUCTION DERBY. From Kalimac’s series of reports on Tokien-related items held adjacent to the virtual International Congress on Medieval Studies: “Saturday at Kalamazoo”.

…. Most provocatively, Luke Shelton took issue with, or at least queried, Tolkien’s statement in the Lord of the Rings foreword that the work is not an allegory. That depends on what you think an allegory is, Luke said, and he cited readers who have ignored Tolkien on that point. Then he went on to say that, since Tolkien accepted “the freedom of the reader” to interpret but that what he objected to in allegory was “the purposed domination of the author,” isn’t an author who objects to his work being considered allegory indulging in purposed domination? And he said it as if he’d caught Tolkien in a giant “gotcha.” In reality it’s a Gödelian category error, like saying the barber can’t shave himself if he shaves just the men in the village who don’t shave themselves. The only domination Tolkien is showing here is expecting readers not to make declarations as to what they think his allegorical purposed domination is…

(7) ON THE ERR. Rob Hansen’s THEN fanhistory site has added a recording of “The March of Slime”, a parody radio show performed by British fans and debuted at the 1955 Eastercon. There is also the text of the introduction and a link to a complete transcript.  

COMMENTATOR: Well, here we are in the historic and time-hallowed saloon bar of the famous Globe Tavern, that erstwhile haunt of Dr. ..Johnson, Crippen and Christie. Gathered here this evening are the honourable representatives of the London Circle – The only circle in the world composed entirely of squares….

The ads for BLOG are wonderful, too….

COMMERCIAL ANNOUNCER: Folks. Have you heard that BLOG gives you that deep sleep that psychologists say is so necessary – cleans gramophone records – is so kind to your silks and woolens – weans babies safely – kills rats, mice and badgers – is the swift antidote for leprousy, croup, and beri-beri – and on top of all this is guaranteed to contain no pterodactyls, diplodoci or other noxious ingredients…

(8) DOES THAT REALLY MAKE IT BETTER? Sarah Gailey’s Building Beyond series works on a writing prompt called “Orca You Glad to See Me”. Jo Ladzinski and Ryan Boyd join in the fun.  

You are a freelance image consultant. You have been hired by orcas to help them repair their image among the seal and penguin communities.

After all three have played with the idea, Gailey sums up:

All of these possibilities are just beginnings. Jo’s strategy is the start of a story about direct, honest admiration of predators by their prey. Ryan’s approach is the opening of an examination of substance abuse in cetacean communities. My scheme is guaranteed to be successful, resulting in a long-running stream of daytime procedurals about tough-but-fair orcas with complicated backgrounds, who just want to do right by their families by targeting and decimating seal and penguin communities.

(9) WHO’S IN CHARGE HERE. In the Washington Post, Michael Cavna profiles KC Green, whose webcomic “Funny Online Animals” (featuring Question Hound) was so popular that he’s now distributed through King Features’s Comics Kingdom division with some placements in large metropolitan dailies. “The ‘This Is Fine’ dog is back. And creator KC Green wants to show he’s more than a meme”.

…“Question Hound will be there, but only in the part that feels like it’s a writer’s room for the strip,” says Green, who is based in western Massachusetts. “He’s the money behind ‘Funny Online Animals’ because I make a living doing what I do thanks to” the meme.

“I recognize that,” he notes by email, “and sometimes resent that.”

He also knows that it’s exhausting to try to keep your creation on any sort of leash — particularly after the Internet has adopted your character as its own.

(10) BOOL HUNT. Lisey’s Story, based on a novel by Stephen King, premieres June 4 on Apple TV+.

(11) MIURA OBIT. The Guardian mourns the passing of a famous manga artist and writer: “Kentaro Miura, creator of bestselling manga Berserk, dies aged 54”.

Kentaro Miura, creator of the long-running dark fantasy manga Berserk – one of the bestselling manga series ever written – has died at the age of 54.

His US publisher Dark Horse Comics, describing Miura as a “master artist and storyteller”, said he had suffered acute aortic dissection and died on 6 May. “He will be greatly missed. Our condolences go out to his family and loved ones.”

The Japanese artist was best known for Berserk, which he wrote and drew. It first launched in 1989 and has been running ever since. Set in a world inspired by medieval Europe, it follows the story of the mercenary Guts, a warrior with a huge sword and an iron hand, and Griffith, leader of the mercenary Band of the Hawk. Dark, violent and humorous, Berserk ran to 40 volumes with more than 35m copies sold worldwide, according to its Japanese publisher Hakusensha. It was also adapted into anime TV series, films and video games….

(12) MEDIA ANNIVERSARY.

  • May 20, 1950 — On this evening in 1950, Dimension X’s “The Lost Race” was playing on NBC stations nationwide. Ernest Kinoy adapted the story from Murray Leinster’s “The Lost” first published in the April 1949 issue of Thrilling Wonder Stories. A space crew find themselves shipwrecked on a world where the ruins of a long dead spacefaring civilization hide a deadly secret that has the power to destroy the present as it did the past.  Matt Crowley, Kermit Murdock and Joseph Julian were the cast. You can listen to it here.

(13) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]

  • Born May 20, 1799 – Honoré de Balzac.  His complete works total 20,000 pages.  We can claim six novels, three dozen shorter stories; what of The Quest for the Absolute, whose alchemist hero at the end cries Eureka! [Greek, “I have found it”] and dies: is it fantasy?  (Died 1850) [JH]
  • Born May 20, 1911 – Annie Schmidt.  Mother of the Dutch theatrical song, queen of Dutch children’s literature.  Hans Christian Andersen Medal.  Poetry, songs, plays, musicals, radio and television for adults.  Two fantasies for us, Minoes (tr. as The Cat Who Came In Off the Roof), Pluk van de Petteflet (tr. as Tow-Truck Pluck).  One of fifty in the Dutch Canon with Erasmus, Rembrandt, Spinoza, Van Gogh, Anne Frank; see here.  (Died 1995) [JH]
  • Born May 20, 1911 — Gardner Francis Fox. Writer for DC comics and other companies as well. He was prolific enough that historians of the field estimate he wrote more than four thousand comics stories, including 1,500 for just DC Comics. For DC, He created The Flash, Adam Strange and The Atom, plus the Justice Society of America. His first SF novel was Escape Across the Cosmos though he wrote a tie-in novel, Jules Verne’s Five Weeks in a Balloon, previously. (Died 1986.) (CE)
  • Born May 20, 1928 — Shirley Rousseau Murphy, 92. Author of the Joe Grey series of mysteries. Its narrator is a feline who speaks and who solves mysteries. Surely that’s genre. Excellent series which gets much, much better in characterization and writing as it goes along. She also did some more traditional genre fare, none of which I’ve encountered, the Children of Ynell series and the Dragonbard trilogy. (CE) 
  • Born May 20, 1946 — Cher, 75. She was  Alexandra Medford in The Witches of Eastwick which is her main genre credit. She did appear as Romana on The Man from U.N.C.L.E. in “The Hot Number Affair” and she voiced herself in the “The Secret of Shark Island” of The New Scooby-Doo Movies which despite the name was actually a series, but that’s it. (CE)
  • Born May 20, 1946 – Mike Glicksohn.  Three FAAn (Fan Activity Achievement) awards.  With Susan Wood published the superb fanzine Energumen, Hugo winner 1973; with her, Fan Guests of Honour at Aussiecon One the 33rd Worldcon; his trip report, The Hat Goes Home (he famously wore an Australian bush hat).  Co-founded the fanziners’ con Ditto (named for a brand of spirit-duplicator machine).  One of our best auctioneers at Art Shows, at fund-raisers for cons, and for traveling-fan funds.  (Died 2011) [JH]
  • Born May 20, 1954 – Luis Royo, age 67.  Covers in and out of our field, comics, a Tarot deck, CDs, video games; a domed-ceiling fresco in Moscow (with his son Romulo Royo).  Spectrum silver award, Inkpot award.  See hereherehere.  [JH]
  • Born May 20, 1960 — John Billingsley, 61. Phlox on Enterprise, a series I really liked despite the fact it seems to have many detractors. His first genre role was in A Man from Earth as Mr. Rothman, a film in which the scriptwriter riffed off the immortality themes from the “Requiem for Methuselah” episode he did for Trek. He’d later reprised that role in The Man from Earth: Holocene. He’s had one-off appearances on The X-FilesStargate SG-1Duck DodgersTwin PeaksLucifer and The Orville. He had a recurring role on Stitchers as Mitchell Blair. (CE) 
  • Born May 20, 1961 — Owen Teale, 60. Best known role is Alliser Thorne on the just concluded Game of Thrones. He also was Will Scarlet in the superb Robin Hood where the lead role was performed by Patrick Bergin, he played the theologian Pelagius in 2004 King Arthur, was Vatrenus in yet another riff on Arthurian myth called The Last Legion, was Maldak in the “Vengeance on Varos” episode in the Era of the Sixth Doctor, and was Evan Sherman in the “Countrycide” episode of Torchwood. He’s currently playing Peter Knox in A Discovery of Witches based on the All Souls trilogy by Deborah Harkness, named after the first book in the trilogy.(CE)
  • Born May 20, 1988 – Amberle Husbands, age 33. Writer, graphic artist, sheetmetal mechanic.  Four short stories.  Has read The Master and MargaritaStarman JonesThe Tale of Genji (Seidensticker tr.), The Sot-Weed Factor, We Have Met the Enemy and He Is UsBlack Elk Speaks.  [JH]
  • Born May 20, 1997 – Sean Fay Wolfe, age 24.  First novel published at age 16; two more.  Eagle Scout.  Black Belt in Shidôkan karate.  Five-time All-State musician.  Creator of online games.  Three cats and a little white dog named Lucky.  [JH]

(14) COMICS SECTION.

  • Speed Bump makes a UFO joke from a standard pizza service question.
  • Get Fuzzy has some gamer snark.

(15) ART THEFT IN CALIFORNIA. San Diego Police are asking for help in recovering art stolen from San Diego in April 2021 – Heritage Auctions has the complete list at the link. It includes several pieces of fantasy and comics art.

In April, my house was ransacked and a valuable art collection was stolen. Unfortunately, some of the stolen pieces do not have an image available. Below is a list of the art taken:

  • Lil Abner Pen and Ink advertising drawing, commissioned for King Features Syndicate, circa 1950s. Description: Lil Abner, drawn from behind, clicking his heels in the air. Price paid: $2,500
  • Monte Moore – Gandalf, consulting a book in a library. Published in “Frazetta: Icon.” Price Paid: $1,500
  • Ernest Chiraicka – two page interior splash page in a pulp magazine. Description: Blond woman in a blue dress stands on one side of an apartment door, holding a gun up alongside her ear, in the hall, a man stands against the wall near the door, also holding a gun. Price Paid: $5,000
  • Marie Severin – Late 60s early 70s “Mad Magazine” Cover Painting. Description: Funny looking guy stooping and smelling the flowers. Price Paid: $6,500…

(16) BATMAN. DC’s animation division dropped this trailer for a new Batman animated film.

(17) FACEHUGGER FACE MASKS. [Item by Daniel Dern.] A colleague posted this one on Facebook — Facehugger mask leather pattern PDF by Leatherhub.

And a quick search led to others on Etsy. Click for larger images.

(18) PALESTINIAN SFF. Book Riot has the latest info about “Science Fiction and Fantasy by Palestinian Authors”, assembled by Alex Acks.

As I often do when terrible things are happening in the world and I’ve made all the phone calls I can and I still feel helpless, I turn to SFF as one way we can all at least connect together. So let’s talk about SFF by Palestinian authors. There isn’t a lot in (or translated to) English, but it’s still very worth reading.

The speculative fiction magazine Strange Horizons published a Palestinian Special issue on March 29, 2021. There are short stories and poetry to check out there….

(19) CREDENTIAL NOIR. Does this sound up your alley? Painted Cats by Neal F. Litherland from Ring of Fire Press.

Leo is the toughest alley cat around, but he’s got some soft spots. One is for an ex-flame looking for help and the other is for abandoned kittens, which lead him into trouble a lot bigger than he expected. But putting trouble in front of Leo is not what the furry denizens of the streets who know him would call a good career move….

It was a lazy summer in the park when an old flame walked back into Leo’s life. It had been a while since he’d seen Delilah, and it looked like she was doing all right for herself. She had a problem, though, and it wasn’t one her new squeeze could fix… a friend of hers had gone missing. Worse, she’d left her kitten behind.
 
Mischief was a devoted mama, and she never would have abandoned Trouble to fend for himself. Especially not in a place like Scratch Alley. But for old times’ sake, Leo agreed to stick his nose into things and see what he could turn up.
 
What he found was a lot more than he bargained for. While Mischief appeared to have vanished into thin air, Leo finds low-rent muscle dogging his steps. While he’s looking for Delilah’s missing friend, though, they’re trying to get their claws on Trouble. What’s so special about the kitten that petty packs of alley enforcers are out for blood? That might just be the answer to where Mischief went, however, if Leo knows anything about… Painted Cats.

(20) GETTING PAID. Can we possibly reread Raymond Chandler’s bad opinion of science fiction often enough? I never grow tired of it, myself, and Letters of Note has decided it’s a good day to revive his 1953 quote along with parts of three other Chandler missives in “She was the music heard faintly at the edge of sound”.

Did you ever read what they call Science Fiction? It’s a scream. It is written like this: “I checked out with K19 on Aldabaran III, and stepped out through the crummalite hatch on my 22 Model Sirus Hardtop. I cocked the timejector in secondary and waded through the bright blue manda grass. My breath froze into pink pretzels. I flicked on the heat bars and the Brylls ran swiftly on five legs using their other two to send out crylon vibrations. The pressure was almost unbearable, but I caught the range on my wrist computer through the transparent cysicites. I pressed the trigger. The thin violet glow was icecold against the rust-colored mountains. The Brylls shrank to half an inch long and I worked fast stepping on them with the poltex. But it wasn’t enough. The sudden brightness swung me around and the Fourth Moon had already risen. I had exactly four seconds to hot up the disintegrator and Google5 had told me it wasn’t enough. He was right.”

They pay brisk money for this crap?

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

Pixel Scroll 1/2/21 You Put The Mime In The Tesseract And Drink Them Both Together

(1) DAVID WEBER STATUS. Word of this alarming news went out last night:

After the Turtledove tweet was reposted to David Weber’s author page on Facebook, his wife, Sharon Rice-Weber commented:

He’s doing better right now. I’ll try and keep everyone updated

Best wishes for a full recovery.

(2) NEW YEAR’S WHO. Camestros Felapton combines the features of a review and a complete script rewrite in his analysis of yesterday’s special: “Review: Doctor Who – Revolution of the Daleks”. BEWARE SPOILERS! BEWARE IMPROVEMENTS!

The New Year’s special provides a hit of Doctor Who but that is about all. The episode is inoffensive, it plays around with one interesting idea about the theatre of policing and the aesthetics of fascism but doesn’t know what to do with that. Above all, it exemplifies the frustrating aspects of the Chibnall era. There is always a feeling of a better episode, that is almost exactly the same, lurking around the same pieces….

On the other hand, this fellow found one part of the special to be exceptionally thrilling —

(3) IN BAD TIMES TO COME. Future Tense presents “The Vastation” by Paul Theroux, “a new short story about a future pandemic that makes COVID-19 look simple.”

Steering to his assigned slot in the out-going convoy behind a bulky bomb-proof escort truck, Father said, “We’re going to Greenville,” and looked for my reaction to this surprising announcement. Surprising, not just because Greenville was far away, and where my Mother had been living, but also because I had never been taken outside the perimeter of Chicago….

There is a response essay to the story by physician Allison Bond: “In a pandemic, what do doctors owe, and to whom?”

…Today—as in this story—we fight a deadly contagious disease that has hit some communities much harder than others, and through which xenophobia and racism have been allowed to fester. In Theroux’s story, people are segregated into camps by nationality, into “island[s] of ethnicity, renewed country-of-origin pride and defiance in the enormous sea of rural America.” Perhaps these stemmed from viewing people who are different from oneself as the enemy, and then working to avoid them—something that is already increasingly prevalent in our society, in part thanks to social media.

(4) TRAVEL SAFETY PROPOSAL. “What are COVID-19 digital immunity passports?”Slate explains.

This week, the first doses of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine were administered in the U.S.
With the FDA expected to approve Moderna’s vaccine imminently, people are already looking forward to a world where travel and gatherings are possible. But for those activities to be maximally safe, the country will either need to reach herd immunity—unlikely until mid-2021 at the earliest, assuming essentially flawless vaccine roll-out and widespread adoption—or to find ways to verify people’s negative tests or vaccination status in advance.

Some companies are looking to digital solutions. Airlines like JetBlue, United, and Virgin Atlantic have begun using CommonPass, an app developed by the Commons Project and the World Economic Forum that shows whether users have tested negative for COVID-19 for international travel. Ticketmaster, too, told Billboard that its “post-pandemic fan safety” plans include digital health passes that verify event-goers’ COVID-19 negative test results or vaccination status. While these digital health passes could become a prerequisite for some activities, widespread adoption of so-called immunity passports would require a level of coordination and organization uncharacteristic of the country’s response to COVID-19 so far….

(5) MEMORY WHOLE. The Guardian tries to answer its own question: “George Orwell is out of copyright. What happens now?” The situation resonates with Orwell’s pigs — some works are more out of copyright than others.

Much of the author’s work may have fallen into public ownership in the UK, but there are more restrictions on its use remaining than you might expect, explains his biographer.

George Orwell died at University College Hospital, London, on 21 January 1950 at the early age of 46. This means that unlike such long-lived contemporaries as Graham Greene (died 1991) or Anthony Powell (died 2000), the vast majority of his compendious output (21 volumes to date) is newly out of copyright as of 1 January. 

…As is so often the way of copyright cut-offs, none of this amounts to a free-for-all. Any US publisher other than Houghton Mifflin that itches to embark on an Orwell spree will have to wait until 2030, when Burmese Days, the first of Orwell’s books to be published in the US, breaks the 95-year barrier. And eager UK publishers will have to exercise a certain amount of care. The distinguished Orwell scholar Professor Peter Davison fathered new editions of the six novels back in the mid-1980s. No one can reproduce these as the copyright in them is currently held by Penguin Random House. Aspiring reissuers, including myself, have had to go back to the texts of the standard editions published in the late 1940s, or in the case of A Clergyman’s Daughter and Keep the Aspidistra Flying, both of which Orwell detested so much – he described the former as “bollox” – that he refused to have them reprinted in his lifetime, to the originals of, respectively, 1935 and 1936.

(6) STRANGER THAN FICTION. L. Jagi Lamplighter is interviewed by ManyBooks about her work with “A Magic School Like No Other”.

What inspired you to create the Roanoke Academy for the Sorcerous Arts?

The original game that the books are based upon took place at a popular magic school from another series. When I sat down to write this series, I had to invent a whole new magic school—and I had to make it something

My son, who was then about nine or ten, had come up with the idea that the colony on the Island of Roanoke had disappeared because the whole island vanished and that there was a school of magic upon it.

I loved this idea, but I didn’t really know much about the area of the country where Roanoke Island is. So I decided it was a floating island that could wander. Then I put it in the Hudson River, near Storm King Mountain, because that is a place I happen to love. I found out there was a small island in that spot that actually has a ruin of a castle on it. I made that island (Bannerman or Pollepel Island) the part of the island that was visible to the mundane world of the Unwary (us.)

I spent hours on the internet looking at photos of all sorts of places—forests, buildings—that I loved. Then I put those photos together to create the island and the school. So Roanoke Island has many things I think are beautiful, paper birch forests, boardwalks by a river, Oriental gardens.

Then I needed to design the school itself. I noted that there were series where the magic school is like a British boarding school and series where the school is like an American boarding school. I wanted something different. So I decided to model Roanoke Academy for the Sorcerous Arts after the college I attended. St. John’s College in Annapolis, Maryland is quite different from most other colleges. Students sit around one large table. They have core groups, other students who are in all your classes. They have tutors instead of professors. They have an unusual system of intramural sports—so strange that every time I put part of it in the book, my editor tags it as too extraordinary to be believable.

I took my experience at St. John’s and spun it into the world of the Hudson Highlands, creating a marvelous place that is delightful to write about and, God willing, a joy for the reader, too.

(7) PULLING CABLE. FirstShowing.net introduces the trailer for “Intriguing Gig Economy Quantum Sci-Fi Film ‘Lapsis’”.

… Struggling to support himself and his ailing younger brother, delivery man Ray takes a strange job as a “cabler” in a strange new realm of the gig economy. This film is set in an alternate reality where the quantum computing revolution has begun, but they need to hire people to connect the cables for miles between huge magnetic cubes. 

(8) BOLLING OBIT. Pianist, composer, and bandleader Claude Bolling died December 29. The Guardian’s tribute notes —

…He wrote music for over one hundred films …  such as The Hands of Orlac (1960), … The Passengers (1977) [released in the US as The Intruder, based on Dean Koontz’s 1973 novel Shattered], The Awakening, a 1980 British horror film [third film version of Bram Stoker’s 1903 novel The Jewel of Seven Stars]. Bolling also composed the music for the Lucky Luke animated features Daisy Town (1971) and La Ballade des Dalton (1978).

(9) DOMINGUEZ OBIT. “Disney Legend” Ron Dominguez died January 1 at 85.

In 1957, Dominguez became the assistant supervisor of Frontierland, moving up to the manager of Tomorrowland in 1962. He became the manager of the west side of Disneyland and in 1974, was named vice president of Disneyland and chairman of the park operating committee.

In 1990, Dominguez became Executive Vice President Walt Disney Attractions, West Coast.

(10) VOYAGER DOCUMENTARY ASKS FOR FUNDS. Comicbook.com gives fans a head’s up: “Star Trek: Voyager Documentary Announces Crowdfunding Campaign”.

The upcoming Star Trek: Voyager documentary is ready to begin crowdfunding. The new documentary would have commemorated Voyager‘s 25th anniversary in 2020, but the coronavirus dashed most of those celebration plans. David Zappone of 455 Studios, the production company behind previous Star Trek documentaries like For the Love of SpockChaos on the Bridge, and What We Left Behind, confirmed that filming for the documentary resumed in August. Now it seems the production has reached the point where it’s ready to raise funds from fans. As Voyager star Garrett Wang (Ensign Harry Kim) explains in the announcement video below, fans will be able to donate to the campaign and pre-order the documentary beginning on March 1st.

Click to see the “Special Announcement From Garrett Wang”.

(11) TODAY’S DAY.

(12) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

  • January 2, 1978 Blake’s 7 premiered on BBC. It was created by Terry Nation of Doctor Who fame, who also wrote the first series, and produced by David Maloney (series 1–3) and Vere Lorrimer (series 4), with  the script editor throughout its run being Chris Boucher. Terry has said Star Trek was one of his main inspirations. It would would run for a total of fifty-two episodes. Principal cast was Gareth Thomas, Michael Keating, Sally Knyvette, Paul Darrow and David Jackson. Critics at the times were decidedly mixed with their reaction which is not true of audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes who give an amazing ninety one percent rating! 

(13) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]

  • Born January 2, 1814 – Luise Mühlbach.  A score of historical-fiction novels; you can read Old Fritz and the New Era here (Fritz is a nickname for Friedrich; she means Frederick II of Prussia); it has fantastic elements.  She says “To investigate and explain … is the task of historical romance….  poesy… illuminated by historic truth….  Show me from history that it could not be so; that it is not in accordance with the character of the persons represented … then have I … presented only a caricature, faulty as a work of art.”  (Died 1873) [JH]
  • Born January 2, 1871 – Nora Hopper.  Journalist and poet in the 1890s Irish literary movement; Yeats said her Ballads in Prose “haunted me as few books have ever haunted me, for it spoke in strange wayward stories and birdlike little verses of things and persons I remember or had dreamed of.”  There’s a 2017 Trieste reprint.  (Died 1906) [JH]
  • Born January 2, 1920 Isaac Asimov. I can’t possibly summarize him here so I won’t. My favorite novels by him are the original Foundation novels followed very closely by his Galactic Empire series and I, Robot. I know I’ve read a lot of his short fiction but I’ll be damn if I can recall any of it specifically right now. And I can’t possibly list all his Hugos here. (Died 1992.)  (CE) 
  • Born January 2, 1932 – Minagawa Hiroko, age 92.  (Personal name last, Japanese style.)  Three of her stories are in English, two in Speculative Japan 3-4.  Shibata Prize.  More famous for detective fiction; Honkaku Award for The Resurrection Fireplace (in Japanese Hirakasete itadaki kôei desu, roughly “I am honored to open it”), set in 18th Century London; Mystery Writers of Japan Award, Japan Mystery Literature Award for lifetime achievement.  [JH]
  • Born January 2, 1948 Deborah Watling. Best known for her role as Victoria Waterfield, a companion of the Second Doctor. She was also in Downtime, playing the same character, a one-off sequel to a sequel to the Second Doctor stories, The Abominable Snowmen and The Web of Fear. No Doctors were to be seen. If you’ve seen the English language dubbed version of Viaje al centro de la Tierra (Where Time Began, based off Verne’s Journey to the Center of The Earth), she’s doing the lines of Ivonne Sentis as Glauben. (Died 2017.) (CE) 
  • Born January 2, 1954 – Ertugrul Edirne, age 67.  Twoscore covers in German SF.  Here is Galactic Trade.  Here is On the Great River.  Here is Kushiel’s Dart (German title In den Händen der Feinde, “In the Hands of the Enemy”).  Here is Not From This World.  [JH]
  • Born January 2, 1959 – Patrick Nielsen Hayden, age 62.  Long-time fan, also guitarist (lead guitar in Whisperado).  TAFF (Trans-Atlantic Fan Fund) delegate with wife Teresa Nielsen Hayden, both wrote “TAFF in Thirteen Paragraphs”, fanzines e.g. IzzardTelos, Fan Guests of Honor at MidAmeriCon II the 74th Worldcon where at Closing Ceremonies PNH said “I can’t count the conversations I’ve had with total strangers”, see my con report (at the end, with a poem for each).  Meanwhile also active as a pro; now VP, Assoc. Publisher, and Editor-in-Chief at Tor.  [JH]
  • Born January 2, 1967 Tia Carrere, 54. Best remembered for her three season run as Sydney Fox, rogue archaeologist on Relic Hunter. She’s been in a number of one-offs on genre series including Quantum LeapHerculesTales from The Crypt, AirwolfFriday the 13th and played Agent Katie Logan for two episodes on Warehouse 13. (CE) 
  • Born January 2, 1971 Renée Elise Goldsberry, 50. Best known for appearing on Altered Carbon as Quellcrist Falconer. She also performed the Johnny Cash song “Ain’t No Grave” for the end credits in the final episode of that series. Genre wise, she’s had one-offs on EnterpriseLife on MarsEvil and voice work on DreamWorks Dragons: Rescue Riders, an all too cute series.  She was Selena Izard in The House with a Clock in Its Walls. And she appeared on Broadway in The Lion King as Nala.   (CE) 
  • Born January 2, 1979 Tobias S. Buckell, 42. I read and enjoyed a lot his Xenowealth series which he managed to wrap up rather nicely. The collection he edited, The Stories We Tell: Bermuda Anthology of Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror, is well worth reading, as is his own Tides from a New World collection. And his Tangled Lands collection which won the World Fantasy Award is amazing reading as well. (CE) 
  • Born January 2, 1982 – Aníbal J. Rosario Planas, age 39.  (In this Hispanic style two surnames are given, the father’s Rosario then the mother’s Planas.)  Drummer and author.  Here are a photo, a 150-word teaser from his story Pólvora y vapor (“powder and steam”; in Spanish), and links to his talk (in Spanish and English) about Steampunk Writers Around the World.  [JH]
  • Born January 2, 1983 Kate Bosworth, 38. She’s Barbara Barga in the SS-GB series done off the superb Len Deighton novel  which is definitely genre. She’s both a producer and a performer on The I-Land series where she’s KC, a decidedly not nice person. For a much more positive character, she portrayed Lois Lane in Superman Returns. (CE) 

(14) COMICS SECTION.

(15) GONE BUT NOT FORGOTTEN. In the Washington Post, Michael Cavna notes that Calvin and Hobbes’s last strip was on December 31, 1995, which gives him a chance to praise Bill Watterson and explain why his strip is timeless comedy.  In a sidebar, Cavna notes two other important comic strips ended in 1995:  Gary Larson’s “The Far Side” and Berkeley Breathed’s “Bloom County” spinoff “Outland.”  But he notes that Bill Watterson praised Richard Thompson’s “Cul de Sac” as showing that “the launch of great comics was still possible” and interviews Breathed, who revived “Bloom County” as an online venture in 2015. “’Calvin and Hobbes’ said goodbye 25 years ago. Here’s why Bill Watterson’s masterwork enchants us still.”

…Stephan Pastis, creator of “Pearls Before Swine,” views Calvin as an expression of pure childlike id, yet thinks there is a whole other dynamic that makes many of Calvin’s acts of imagination so appealing.

Watterson “accurately captured how put-upon you feel as a kid — how limited you are by your parents, by your babysitter, by [schoolteacher] Miss Wormwood. You’re really boxed in and all you have is individual expression,” says Pastis, who collaborated with the “Calvin and Hobbes” creator on a week of “Pearls” strips in 2014, marking Watterson’s only public return to the comics page since 1995.

“I think that’s why to this day, some people get [Calvin] tattooed on their bodies,” Pastis continues. “He stands for that rebellious spirit in the fact of a world that kind of holds you down. You get into adulthood, you get held down by your various responsibilities. Calvin rebels against that, therefore he always remains a hero.”

(16) FOR POETS. The Science Fiction & Fantasy Poetry Association (SFPA) is taking nominations from members for two 2021 awards.

  • Rhysling Award Nominations: The 2021 Rhysling Chair is Alessandro Manzetti. Nominations are open until February 15 for the Rhysling Awards for the best poems published in 2020. Only SFPA members may nominate one short poem and/or one long poem for the award. Poets may not nominate their own work. All genres of speculative poetry are eligible. Short poems must be under 50 lines (no more than 500 words for prose poems); Long poems are 50+ lines, not including title or stanza breaks, and first published in 2020; include publication and issue, or press if from a book or anthology. Online nomination form here. Or nominate by mail to SFPA secretary: Brian Garrison, SFPA, PO Box 1563, Alameda CA 94501, USA.
  • Elgin Award Nominations: The 2021 Elgin Chair is Jordan Hirsch. Nominations due by May 15; more info will come by MailChimp. Send title, author, and publisher of speculative Star*Line 8 Winter 2021 poetry books and chapbooks published in 2019 or 2020 to elgin@sfpoetry.com or by mail to the SFPA secretary: Brian Garrison, SFPA, PO Box 1563, Alameda CA 94501, USA. Only SFPA members may nominate; there is no limit to nominations, but you may not nominate your own work.

(17) OFF THE MARKET. Such is the draw of iconic movie locations. The LA Times explains the attraction of “Jim Brandon’s South Pasadena home”.

Jim Brandon better get used to unexpected visitors. The writer-producer, whose credits include “Arrested Development” and “Mixed-ish,” just paid about $2.2 million for a South Pasadena home with a special place in “Back to the Future” lore.

The 1985 hit doubles as a tour of L.A. County in many ways, with landmarks such as Griffith Park and the Gamble House popping up throughout the film. Another pivotal scene is set in Brandon’s new yard, where Marty McFly stumbles upon his father being a peeping Tom in the tree out front.

According to the home’s previous owner, filmmaker John McDonald, fans of the movie regularly make the trek to South Pasadena to pay homage — and climb up the now-famous tree to re-create the scene….

(18) MEMORY LANE.

In 1953, the International Fantasy Award was given to Clifford M. Simak for City, his first Award. This collection is sometimes presented as a novel which it is decidedly not as it is a fix-up of the stories “City”, “Huddling Place”, “Census”, “Paradise”, “Hobbies”, “Aesop” and “Trouble with Ants …”. The other nominations were Takeoff by C. M. Kornbluth and Player Piano by Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.  A  Retro Hugo Award at CoNZealand in 2020 would be awarded to it as well. 

(19) NOTHING HAPPENING HERE, MOVE ALONG. In December someone pointed out that John C. Wright’s website was displaying an “Account Suspended” sign. My social media searches found no protests or grievances about this – or even that anyone else was aware of it. Wright subsequently explained the cause in “Account Not Suspended”.

My loyal webgoblin called the hosting company and reports that they said that the server was migrated this morning and that various changes are still propagating through their system. The “account suspended” message was a default one. The hosting company confirmed that there’s nothing wrong with the account and that the site hasn’t been pulled offline due to excessive bandwidth or any sort of legal action

(20) EXPANDING UNIVERSE. More Star Wars properties are on the way.

Star Wars: The Bad Batch is an all-new animated series from Lucasfilm Animation coming soon to Disney+.

In another new Disney+ series, Star Wars: Andor, Diego Luna will reprise his role as Cassian Andor.

(21) FUTURE FORSEEN. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] “What Will Future Homes Look Like?  Filmed In the 1960s” on YouTube is an episode of the CBS News show 21st Century (which ran between 1967-70) called “At Home, 2001” narrated by Walter Cronkite, which tried to predict from the viewpoint of 1967 what homes in the 21st century would look like.  Among the predictions:  3-D televisions twice as large as the largest current flat screen, plastic plates that would be molded for each use and then put into a vat to be printed again for the next use, and dinners that were programmed and cooked via computer.  The show also saw that computers at home could teach kids and enable people to work at home, and there’s a prediction of something like cable TV.  What they got wrong:  there is no internet or YouTube.

[Thanks to Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, John King Tarpinian, Cat Eldridge, JJ, Michael Toman, John Hertz, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Sam. And that came from Sam’s first-ever comment here!]

Pixel Scroll 12/26/20 Wenn Ist Das Pixel Git Und Slotermayer? Nein! Beiherhund Die Oder Das Flipperwald Gescrollt!

(1) THE DEAD BODY PROBLEM. Lin Qi, producer of the upcoming Three-Body Problem adaptation, has died following an alleged poisoning by a colleague:  “Lin Qi, Yoozoo CEO and Producer on Netflix’s ‘Three-Body Problem,’ Dies at 39” in The Hollywood Reporter.

Lin Qi, the chairman and CEO of Yoozoo Group who was hospitalized after having been poisoned on Dec. 16, has died. The Chinese company confirmed that Lin died on Christmas Day. He was 39.

On Wednesday evening in China, the Shanghai Public Security Bureau had announced that Lin was receiving treatment after being poisoned and that a Yoozoo coworker of Lin’s, surnamed Xu, had been apprehended amid an investigation.

The statement read: “At 5 p.m. on Dec. 17, 2020, the police received a call from a hospital regarding a patient surnamed Lin. During the patient’s treatment, the hospital said it had determined that the patient had been poisoned. Following the call, the police began an investigation. According to investigations on site and further interviews, the police found that a suspect surnamed Xu, who is a coworker of the victim Lin, was the most likely the perpetrator. The suspect Xu has been arrested and investigations continue.”

The Hollywood Reporter reported that local media have said a dispute among the Chinese entertainment company’s executive ranks preceded the assault on Lin, which was allegedly carried out via a cup of poisoned pu-erh tea.

(2) A PIXAR FIRST. In the Washington Post, Michael Cavna interviews Kemp Powers, a Black co-writer of Soul, who explains how his experiences helped ensure that the African-American experiences portrayed in the film were authentic. “Kemp Powers of ‘Soul’: His long journey to becoming Pixar’s first Black writer-director”.

The geniuses at Pixar had a problem, and this time, they would need to look beyond the walls of their esteemed studio for help.

The movie in question was “Soul,” a tuneful jazz tale that somehow didn’t quite swing. Rather ironically, the movie’s main character was lacking in texture and truth and, well, any depth of soul. What to do about a lead role that, in the words of Pixar chief and “Soul” director Pete Docter, “was kind of an empty shell”?The call went out to Kemp Powers, a rising playwright and “Star Trek: Discovery” TV writer who headed to Pixar’s Bay Area headquarters with much more than notes. He had a lifetime of relevant insights.

The character in question was Joe Gardner, Pixar’s first leading Black character and the heart of “Soul,” which will be released on Disney Plus on Christmas Day after bypassing domestic theaters because of the pandemic. Powers will compete against himself that day when the film adaptation of his play “One Night in Miami,” directed by Regina King, will land in theaters (ahead of its Jan. 15 release on Amazon Prime)….… And Daveed Diggs, who voices Joe’s trash-talking rival Paul, says Powers brought a humanity and a fearlessness to the tale. “There’s a strength and level of conviction in the storytelling,” says Diggs, no easy task because with its supernatural spaces and existential themes, “Soul” is “a weird movie.”

(3) CONTINUE CELEBRATING. Filer Cora Buhlert has assembled “A Holiday Story Bonanza” in her newly-released book A Christmas Collection. Full details and options to purchase in various formats at the link.

Romance, cozy fantasy, murder mysteries, pulp thrillers, science fiction, horror and humor – we have all that and more.

  • Watch young people find love in the pre-holiday shopping rush at Hickory Ridge Mall, at a Christmas tree lot, on the parking lot of a shuttered outlet mall and at the one bar in town that’s open on Christmas Eve.
  • Experience Christmas in Hallowind Cove, the permanently fog-shrouded seaside town, where strange things keep happening.
  • Watch as Santa’s various helpers unite to depose him.
  • Follow Detective Inspector Helen Shepherd and her team as they investigate the death of a robber dressed as Santa Claus as well as a wave of thefts at a Christmas market.
  • Meet Richard Blakemore, hardworking pulp author by day and the masked crimefighter known only as the Silencer by night, as he fights to save an orphanage from demolition in Depression era New York City.
  • Watch Alfred and Bertha, an ordinary married couple, as they decorate the Christmas tree and live their marvellous twenty-first century life.
  • Experience Christmas on the space colony of Iago Prime as well as after the end of the world.

Enjoy thirteen novellas, novelettes and short stories in six genres. This is a collection of 118000 words or approx. 390 print pages.

(4) AN IDEA WHOSE TIME HAS COME. [Item by Francis Hamit.] The CASE Act, the legislation creating a Copyright Small Claims Court, is becoming law as a part of that massive stimulus bill passed by Congress.  I am taking a victory lap on this one.  You may recall I was quite active in the early part of this century on Copyright matters, including prosecuting two lawsuits for infringements of magazine articles by database firms.  I spent thousands of dollars for filing and legal fees over four years and came out ahead, but dropped four other suits because they would cost more than the maximum possible cash reward.  There had to be a better way, I thought, and came up with the idea of a Copyright Small Claims Court, which was published in the September/October 2006 issue of The Columbia Journalism Review. [File 770 previously mentioned Hamit’s advocacy of the idea in 2011: “A Future for Small Copyright Claims?”] So it is done, and small individual creators have a path to legal recourse that wasn’t there before.  Very gratifying.  Those who would like to thank me can buy one of my books or stories on Amazon,com  (Reviews are appreciated too).  I have a stage play at Stageplays,com which I’m trying to get produced.  I may add others soon.  Donations are accepted on Paypal at francishamit@earthlink.net.  I’m not a crusader, just a businessman.  Support allows me to create new work.

(5) EYES ON THE PRIZE. At the risk of turning into a platform that mainly steers its audience to Camestros Felapton (oops, too late!), there are some good things there this weekend:

…Yet not unlike DC’s Shazam! film , WW84 form offers charm and its apparent naivety at least avoids the dourness of the Snyder films or broader cynicism…

(6) WWDC. In the Washington Post, Michael Cavna interviews Wonder Woman 1984 director Patty Jenkins, who explains the reason the film is set in Washington in the 1980s is because it reflects Jenkins’s experiences.  For example, there are sequences at the Hirshhorn Museum because Jenkins was an art student there in 1987. “How Patty Jenkins turned ‘Wonder Woman 1984’ into a personal Washington story”.

“First of all, where would Diana go?” Jenkins says of the Amazonian warrior from the isle paradise of Themyscira, who headed to World War I’s European theater in “Wonder Woman.” “She would go to the heart and center of where power is.”

Once Jenkins and co-writer Geoff Johns were settled on setting, the director plunged deep into her own memories of Washington, where she often visited before moving to the area as a teenager in 1987, staying for a bit over a year.

“The style of D.C. is so wonderful” for Wonder Woman, says Jenkins, who shot numerous scenes on the Mall, in Georgetown and in Northern Virginia. “Having her live at the Watergate, the modernity of it, cut against the Reflecting Pool and the Hirshhorn — it just felt elegant and beautiful and intellectual and pop at the same time.”

(7) NPR’S BOOKS OF THE YEAR. [Item by Contrarius.] NPR’s Best Books Of 2020  is out. The sff included on the list are mostly the usual suspects for this year. Sadly, The Vanished Birds isn’t on it. Interestingly, the new translation of Beowulf is.

Click this link to go direct to the list’s Sci Fi, Fantasy & Speculative Fiction section.

(8) EVANS OBIT. 1632universe author Kevin H. Evans died on December 23 announced Eric Flint on Facebook. Evans often wrote in collaboration with his wife, Karen, who survives him.

Evans also was known as Sir Thorgeirr in the Society for Creative Anachronism.

(9) MEDIA ANNIVERSARY.

  • December 26, 1954 — On this day in 1954, the very last episode of The Shadow radio serial aired.  This was the program’s 665th installment and its twenty-first season. The serial first appeared on the air on Sept 26, 1937 with Orson Welles as Lamont Cranston and The Shadow and Agnes Moorehead as Margo Lane. It would end its run with Bret Morrison, who took over the lead roles from season twelve onward, and Gertrude Warner, who was Margo Lane from season thirteen onward. The final episode was “Murder by the Sea” which unfortunately is lost to us as the tape was not kept. 

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]

  • Born December 26, 1842 – Laura Gonzenbach.  German-Swiss of Sicily.  Collected Sicilian fairy tales; her two volumes among few major collections by a woman. Beautiful Angiola (2004) has the title story and sixty more in English.  (Died 1878) [JH]
  • Born December 26, 1903 Elisha Cook Jr. On the Trek side, he shows up as playing lawyer Samuel T. Cogley in the “Court Martial” episode. Elsewhere he had long association with the genre starting with Voodoo Island and including House on a Haunted HillRosemary’s BabyWild Wild West, The Night Stalker and Twilight Zone. (Died 1995.) (CE) 

  • Born December 26, 1938 – John Kahionhes Fadden, age 82.  (Kahionhes “Long River” is his Mohawk name; he’s Turtle, his mother’s clan.)  Maintains the Six Nations Indian Museum (i.e. the six nations of the Iroquois Confederacy; see e.g. the 2010 U.S. dollar coin; Haudenosaunee on it is “People of the Long House”, the Iroquois) started by his parents.  Four covers for us; here is Native American Animal Stories.  More here.  [JH]
  • Born December 26, 1942 – Catherine Coulter, age 78.  Six novels, four shorter stories for us; ninety books all told, many NY Times Best-Sellers.  Historical romances (“I love in particular Georgette Heyer, a British author who actually invented the Regency Romance – an extraordinary talent”), suspense thrillers (“at least six times as many loose ends that I have to keep searching out and tying up, and they always seem to multiply”).  Advice, “READ TO YOUR CHILDREN.”  [JH]
  • Born December 26, 1951 – Priscilla Olson, F.N., age 69.  Chaired Boskone 29, 38, 42, 48; introduced Featured Filker.  Ran Programming at Noreascon 4 the 62nd Worldcon.  Fellow of NESFA (New England SF Ass’n; service).  Introductions & essays in NESFA Press books An Ornament to His ProfessionCybele, Rings (Charles Harness); Ingathering (Zenna Henderson); Far From This EarthFrom Other Shores (Chad Oliver); Once More With Footnotes (Sir Terry Pratchett); also “…And What We Think It Means”, ConJose Souvenir Book (60th Worldcon).  Fan Guest of Honor at Minicon 34, Windycon 33.  [JH]
  • Born December 26, 1953 T. Jefferson Parker, 67. Author of the rather excellent Charlie Hood mystery series which ISFDB claims is paranormal. Huh. He’s one of the very few writers to win three Edgars. (CE) 
  • Born December 26, 1953 Clayton Emery, 67. Somewhere there’s a bookstore that consists of nothing but the franchise novel and collections that exist within a given franchise. No original fiction what-so-ever. This author has novels in the Forgotten Realms, Shadow WorldThe Burning GoddessCity of Assassins, The Secret World of Alex MackMagic: The Gathering and Runesworld franchises, plus several genre works including surprisingly Tales of Robin Hood on Baen Books. Must not be your granddaddy’s Hood. (CE)
  • Born December 26, 1960 Temuera Morrison, 60. Ahhhh clones.  In Attack of the Clones, he plays Jango Fett and a whole bunch of his clone troopers, and in Revenge of the Sith, he came back in the guise of Commander Cody. He goes on to play him in the second season of The Mandalorian.  Crossing over, he plays Arthur Curry’s father Thomas in Aquaman. (CE) 
  • Born December 26, 1961 Tahnee Welch, 59. Yes, the daughter of that actress. She’s in both Cocoon films as well in Sleeping BeautyBlack Light and Johnny 2.0 which she’s in might qualify as genre in the way some horror does. She stopped acting twenty years ago. (CE)
  • Born December 26, 1968 – Julia Elliott, Ph.D., age 52.  Jaffe Foundation award.  Amazon Shared-Worlds Residency.  A novel (“loopy lyricism … whacked out paranoia … joyous farce”, NY Times Book Review) and a dozen shorter stories.  Teaches at Univ. S. Carolina (Columbia). [JH]
  • Born December 26, 1970 Danielle Cormack, 50. If it’s fantasy and it was produced in New Zealand, she might have been in it. She was in Xena and Hercules as Ephiny on recurring role, Hercules again as Lady Marie DeValle,in Jack of All Trades, one of Kage Baker’s favorite series because, well, Bruce Campbell was the lead. She was Raina in a recurring role, and Samsara on Xena in another one-off and Margaret Sparrow in Perfect Creature, an alternate universe horror film. (CE)
  • Born December 26, 1983 – Nicholas Smith, age 37.  Thirty novels, half a dozen shorter stories.  Ironman tri-athlete.  NY Times and USA Today Best-Seller.  Has read Custer Died for Your Sins and The Hobbit.  “I only leave positive reviews…. If I don’t like a book [and] don’t finish it … I don’t trash it because who knows what I missed.”  [JH]

(11) COMICS SECTION.

  • Close to Home shows how Santa anticipated the current surveillance society.

(12) PLAY IT AGAIN. Nerdist would like to convince you “Why LEGENDS OF TOMORROW Is Perfect for 2020 and 2021”.

…It’s not the writing, acting, special effects, or deus ex furby plot twists that make Legends worth a (re)watch these days. While the show found its niche in a careful balance of absurdity with genuine tension (case in point: season four, episode 13, which simultaneously featured an Indiana Jones-esque plot to keep a dragon egg away from Nazis, a book club gone wrong, and a surprise attendee at a romance novel convention; we cannot make this stuff up), it’s the surprising attention to character development and the ongoing themes of hopefulness, redemption, and growth in the face of trauma and loneliness that sets Legends apart.

(13) REVISITING LEMURIA. A news story I couldn’t link here because it’s member-locked turned out not to be all that new – except to me, and perhaps you, too. Here are three updates that appeared between 2015-2018.

Erin Ehmke on hibernation in the fat-tailed dwarf lemur:

It could be an internal genetic trigger for hibernation in the fat-tailed dwarf lemur. Since we share genetic code with the federal dwarf lemur, [the medical community is interested in understanding if] we have that same intrinsic trigger that could be tapped into for long term coma patients to prevent the cell breakdown – deep space travel, could we somehow trigger hibernation in astronauts to help get to deep space travel.

… Those lemurs could hold the key to faster recovery times from injuries and even deep space travel because of hundreds of species of primates, the fat-tailed dwarf lemur is the closest genetic cousin to humans that can hibernate.

“That suspended animation doesn’t occur in primates very often,” explained Duke Lemur Center veterinarian Bobby Schopler. “These are relatives of ours that do this, and it’s a fascinating aspect.”

Scientists have been studying the primates in their natural habitat for 48 years at the Duke Lemur Center. Duke researchers want to find out how some of the lemurs can regulate body temperature, store massive amounts of energy and sleep for 7 months at a time.

… Interest in suspended animation, the ability to set biological processes on hold, peaked in the 1950s as Nasa poured money into biological research. The hope was that sleeping your way to the stars would mean spacecraft could carry far less food, water and oxygen, making long-haul flights to distant planets more practical. It would also save astronauts from years of deep-space boredom.

Nasa’s interest died at the end of the space race, but Mr Vyazovskiy and his team of researchers at the University of Oxford are now exploring ways to put astronauts into stasis, using knowledge gained from mammals, including bears and dwarf lemurs.

(14) PRESERVED IN PUMICE. [Item by Cora Buhlert.] Archeologists have discovered a 2000-year-old street food stall in Pompeii, complete with illustrations of the food (or rather the animals that provide the food) on offer. I’m amazed how modern the whole thing looks. I can imagine this stall setting up shop at our annual autumn fair without raising any eyebrows: “Pompeii: Ancient snack stall uncovered by archaeologists” at CNN.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, JJ, Contrarius, Francis Hamit, Martin Morse Wooster, Cat Eldridge, Michael Toman, Cora Buhlert, Steven H Silver, Mike Kennedy, John Hertz, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Steve Wright.]

Pixel Scroll 11/30/20 The Apotheosis Of Mayor Amalfi Considered As An Uphill Pixel Scroll

(1) THE SQUEEZE IS ON. NPR’s Morning Edition explores why “Critics Oppose Penguin Random House Acquiring Simon & Schuster”.

LULU GARCIA-NAVARRO, HOST:

It is the blockbuster that has the literary world talking – the potential merger of the huge Simon & Schuster with Penguin Random House, the largest publishing company in the country. But the Authors Guild, the world’s largest organization for writers, have released a statement opposing the deal. Laura Zats is a literary agent and the host of the podcast “Print Run,” and she joins us now to explain why the joining of these two companies might be a cause for concern….

ZATS: Well, I think the big thing to understand is that it’s not just that they’re going to have so much of a market share. But what happens when a single company has a market share is that there’s less competition for who can publish the books, which is really bad for agents – which is what I am – and really bad for writers.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: How so?

ZATS: There are a – as an agent, I submit to a lot of different imprints, a lot of different editors. And, currently, for example, when Penguin and Random House merged in 2013, you could go to auction with those. You could submit, and you could drive up advances, and you could get better terms and – for your writers.

(2) DREAMHAVEN UPDATE. Greg Ketter can still use help, as he noted in a message to a recent donor to the DreamHaven Restoration GoFundMe. (See the November 9 story “DreamHaven Books Owner and Employee Robbed, Beaten”.)

Thank you so much for thinking of us when there are so many people hurting these days.  It’s nice to know people are concerned for us.  It has been a rough year with the riot/break-in, Covid shutdowns, the assault and robbery, but, all-in-all, we’re in much better shape than most.  At least we’re still here.

The easiest ways to help are either ordering books from our website or there is a GoFundMe campaign under “DreamHaven Restoration”.  I actually thought it had ended but when we had the robbery a number of new donations showed up and made me cry all over again.  I’m not used to asking for or accepting help.  But I have learned to be terribly grateful for it once it’s offered.

(3) A HORROR MENTOR. A lot is explained in Odyssey Podcast #133 featuring JG Faherty.

A life-long resident of New York’s haunted Hudson Valley, JG is the author of seven novels, ten novellas, and more than seventy-five short stories, and he’s been a finalist for both the Bram Stoker Award (The Cure, Ghosts of Coronado Bay) and ITW Thriller Award (The Burning Time). He writes adult and YA horror, science fiction, dark fantasy, and paranormal romance, and his works range from quiet, dark suspense to over-the-top comic gruesomeness.

Since 2011, JG has been a Board Trustee for the Horror Writers Association (HWA) and a Mentor. He launched their Young Adult program, and also their Library & Literacy program, which he still runs. Recently, he co-founded the HWA’s Summer Scares reading initiative in conjunction with Becky Spratford and several library organization, and he teaches local teen writing programs at libraries. In 2019, he was recognized with the Mentor of the Year Award by the HWA.

As a child, his favorite playground was a seventeenth-century cemetery, which many people feel explains a lot.

(4) TWO COMPANIONS OUT. Io9 learned that Doctor Who’s Tosin Cole and Bradley Walsh Are Leaving the Show”.

…Whittaker also confirmed the news, saying she was “devastated” to lose Cole and Walsh as costars: “On a personal note, absolutely devastated. Both of them had to carry me to my trailer. I haven’t cried like that for such a long time. Brad couldn’t cope with it at all. Tosin was like, ‘I really can’t cope with you getting this upset.’”

As of now, it’s unclear whether Doctor Who will return to its more traditional pattern of “one Doctor, one companion,” or if new cast members will be added to the series. But for now, it will be a sad but sweet goodbye to one of the show’s greatest father-son teams. Doctor Who’s “Revolution of the Daleks” arrives on January 1, 2021. In addition, the series is entering production for its 13th season, which is set to have eight episodes.

(5) TOP FIVE. Here are The Guardian’s “Best science fiction and fantasy books of 2020”. Some are definitely less jolly than others.

Mordew
by Alex Pheby, Galley Beggar
The Gormenghastly city of Mordew is built on living mud – we discover it’s God’s body, not quite dead – that teems with grotesque and fantastical life. Pheby’s protagonist Nathan rises from the slums to meet a special destiny. It may sound like a cliched storyline, but the relentless inventiveness and verve of Pheby’s imagination make this book stand alone. Startling, baroque, sometimes revolting – but always amazing.

(6) THEY’RE DOOMED. Does James Davis Nicoll have more pitch ideas than Ryan George? I think so… “Four Stories That Subvert the Cosy Catastrophe Genre” at Tor.com.

Given our recent discussion of such tales, I should note that I quite dislike one particular subset of lifeboat stories: the ones in which a small group of plucky pioneers somehow escape the dying Earth and reach a new world they can call their own. But in the meantime, the unlucky masses who could not make their way onto the flotilla die with their homeworld.

Why this distaste? Well…

(7) MEDIA ANNIVERSARY.

  • 2000 — Twenty years ago, Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling would win the World Fantasy Award for their Silver Birch, Blood Moon anthology, the fifth in their Fairy Tale series. (Datlow would later garner a World Fantasy Award for Lifetime Achievement.) If you’re familiar with the work they did with the Year’s Best Fantasy & Horror Anthology series, then you know what to expect here. It’s fine Autumnal reading from the likes of Neil Gaiman, Delia Sherman, Nola Hopkinson, Patricia McKillip and many, many more exemplary writers. Tom Canty provided the cover illustration here as he did for so many of their anthologies. All of the Fairy Tale series are now available from the usual digital suspects. (CE)

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]

  • Born November 30, 1667 – Jonathan Swift.  Timeless for Gulliver’s Travels – because cutting the sharp nasty parts makes it seem a children’s book?  Because readers think it satirizes those stupid people over there?  Anyway, great.  Other work also worth reading.  (Died 1745) [JH]
  • Born November 30, 1893 – E. Everett Evans.  “Triple E” was so big-hearted and so actively that he was loved by fans and pros, large and small.  Four novels, two dozen shorter stories; The Planet Mappers won the annual Boys’ Clubs of America award for most enjoyable book.  Helped found the N3F (Nat’l Fantasy Fed’n), served a term as its President, founding editor of The Nat’l Fantasy Fan.  Co-edited Le Zombie with Tucker – what a combination.  Chaired the first Westercon.  The Big Heart (our highest service award) established at his death, for years bore his name.  (Died 1958) [JH]
  • Born November 30, 1906 John Dickson Carr,. Author of the Gideon Fell detective stories, some of which were decidedly genre adjacent. The Burning Court with Fell is on this list as is his vampire mythos backstoried novels, Three Coffins and He Who Whispers. And I really should note his Sir Henry Merrivale character has at one genre outing in Reader is Warned. (Died 1977.) (CE) 
  • Born November 30, 1937 Ridley Scott, 83. Alien: Covenant which did surprisingly well at the Box Office and has a sixty-five rating among audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes is his most recent genre work of note but he’s got a long and distinguished list that includes the most excellent Blade Runner, Alien, the 1984 Apple advert, Exodus: Gods and Kings , Legend,  Prometheus and yes, Robin Hood. I’ve watched Blade Runner sans the narration and I’ll say I still do prefer the original version. (CE)
  • Born November 30, 1944 – Susan Gubar, Ph.D., age 76.  Leading feminist interested in SF among much else.  Several important essays, some with Susan Gilbert; their Norton Anthology of Literature by Women put them among Ms. magazine’s Women of the Year.  Recently, see SG’s “C.L. Moore and the Conventions of Women’s SF”.  Sandrof Life Achievement Award.  [JH]
  • Born November 30, 1945 Billy Drago. Best remember I think as the evil John Bly in The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr.  He was certainly booked a lot in genre roles as he has appearances in Cyborg 2, Sci-Fighters,  Supernatural and X-Files. He also played the demon Barbas in the original Charmed series. And he was in Tremors 4: The Legend Begins, a film I’m sure no one was begging for. Finally, I note that he was in the Masters of Horror “Imprint” episode, which Showtime pulled due to “disturbing content” which you can read about here. (Died 2019.) (CE) 
  • Born November 30, 1947 David Mamet, 73. Playwright with an interesting genre history. He wrote and produced Frog Prince based off that folktale, and later did a contemporary version of the Faust legend. Not to forget the comic weirdness of The Revenge of the Space Pandas, or Binky Rudich and the Two-Speed Clock. (CE) 
  • Born November 30, 1952 – Jill Eastlake, F.N., age 68.  She and her husband Donald E. Eastlake III are Founding Fellows of NESFA (New England SF Ass’n; service).  Co-chaired Boskone 11, chaired Boskone 15.  Guest of Honor at Rivercon IX.  Reliable, responsible at many tasks.  Her help with costuming earned her the Int’l Costumers Guild Life Achievement Award.  For one Worldcon she telephoned me about judging the Masquerade (our onstage competition); she was the Masq Director; I said “Sure, Jill.”  She said “I want you for one of my Workmanship Judges.”  I said “Jill, I’m not competent to do that.”  She said “Which one of us is running this Masquerade, you or me?”  I think that was the year I crawled underneath two monsters to see how their pipe-frames were fastened.  The other judges said I was okay.  [JH]
  • Born November 30, 1955 Andy Robertson. A fan and editor who worked as an assistant editor on Interzone and contributed myriad reviews and interviews. He published some fiction and edited two anthologies based on the works of William Hope Hodgson’s Night Lands, Volume 1: Eternal Love, featuring tales set in Hodgson’s world, and William Hope Hodgson’s Night Lands Volume 2: Nightmares of the Fall. Alas they were never made into digital editions. (Died 2014.) (CE) 
  • Born November 30, 1955 —  Kevin Conroy, 65. Without doubt, best known for voicing Batman on Batman: The Animated Series which is my Batman. Justice League Action saw him reprise that role with the other characters often noting his stoic personality.  I’ve not seen it, but on Batwoman, he plays Bruce Wayne in the “Crisis on Infinite Earths: Part Two” episode.  Bruce Timm likes his work in the Batman 75th Anniversary Short Batman: Strange Days which is interesting as he only says one word though he grunts nicely.  (CE)
  • Born November 30, 1957 – Martin Morse Wooster, age 63.  Articulate critic and commenter, often seen here and in Banana WingsFantasy ReviewInterzoneMimosa, NY Review of SFQuantumSF Book ReviewSF CommentarySF ReviewThrust.  Contributor to e.g. Magill’s Guide to SF.  Outside our field, see e.g. Angry Classrooms, Empty Minds.  [JH]
  • Born November 30, 1982 – Zach Fehst, age 38.  American Magic was a Library Journal Summer Best Book.  Outside our field, has traveled to three dozen countries, hosted Discovery Channel’s Ultimate Guide to the Awesome; plays electric mandolin, skis on snow and sand.  “Sometimes when I’m feeling hopeless I ask myself what someone with hope would do, and try to do that.”  [JH

(9) COMICS SECTION.

(10) DOONESBURY. In the Washington Post, Michael Cavna uses the occasion of Doonesbury’s 50th anniversary to interview Garry Trudeau about the ten greatest strips of the past 50 years. “As ‘Doonesbury’ turns 50, Garry Trudeau picks his 10 defining strips”. On the list is —

PALM BEACH CARD CONTROVERSY (June 21, 1985)

Palm Beach, Fla., ordinance requires low-wage service employees to register with police and carry ID cards.

Trudeau: The legendary Mary McGrory told me that in all her years of writing columns, she wasn’t sure a single one of them had changed anything. That’s not a bar that cartoonists generally set for themselves, but in the case of my story arc about racist Palm Beach pass cards, the strip did have an impact. Exposure of the apartheid-like ordinance proved so embarrassing to Florida that the state legislature passed a law banning it. It was called the “Doonesbury Bill,” and the governor sent me the signing pen. Still, that’s the exception. Most of the time, expecting satire to make a difference is purely aspirational.

(11) FLAME ON. Hero Within offers a “Comic Con Scented Candle”. Don’t you think everybody on your gift list deserves one?

Are you missing the sights, sounds and experiences of comic cons? How about the smell? To reflect the worst year ever, the world’s worst product of 2020, the Comic Con Scented Candle. Our Hero Within scientist* secretly spent 2019 at conventions collecting the essence of fans and distilled this blend of body odor, old comic books and stale hot dogs into a horrible candle. While not for the faint of heart, it will remind you of being surrounded by a thousand sweaty fans. Makes for a perfect gift but a terrible candle. Order at your own risk.

(12) YOUR CULTURAL COMMENTATOR. [Item by Daniel Dern.] If Bertold Bretcht’s Threepenny Opera were in Klingon, we’d have the song:

“Mek’Leth The Knife”

(13) DOGGING IT. “In the Footprints of the Hound: Why The Hound of the Baskervilles Still Haunts” on CrimeReads, sf writer James Lovegrove, author of the Holmes pastiche The Beast Of The Stapletons explains why The Hound Of The Baskervilles remains one of the scariest novels ever written.

…Yet, as Sherlock Holmes’s closest brush with the supernatural, The Hound of the Baskervilles demonstrates that the Great Detective’s powers are equal to any task, even combating forces that are seemingly beyond our ken. The Hound itself is no common blackmailer or thief or assassin. It is a thing of nightmares, so frightening that the sight of it alone can induce a fatal heart attack in one victim and send another hurtling to his death off a rocky outcrop while fleeing it. It is designed to scare not just characters in the novel but readers too, and when Holmes and Watson at last overcome it, and the artifice behind it stands revealed, our fears are not entirely allayed. This is no Scooby-Doo unmasking moment, when we can laugh as we understand that there was nothing to be afraid of, that the horror was all in our minds. We can’t help but remember that the Hound was trained, and tricked out in phosphorescent paint, and kept half-starved by its owner, for no reason other than to terrify and pursue and kill. It is an embodiment of evil. It is Stapleton’s jealousy, resentment and cruelty made flesh, a canine avatar of avarice.

(14) READ THREE. Camestros Felapton makes me want to read this book! “Review: City of Brass by by S.A. Chakraborty”.

…I’m a bit late starting S.A. Chakraborty’s 2017 fantasy series or, on the otherhand, I’m just in time as the third part of what is now a trilogy was published this year. The novel follows Nahri from Cairo to the magical city of Daevabad where a second point-of-view character awaits, the djinn prince Ali. Pious and idealistic, Ali is second in line to the throne but is torn between his familial duty and his concern for the shafit under-class of the city — the half-human/half-djinn people who are treated unjustly by ruling families. Nor is this the only fracture point in the city…. 

(15) SURVEILLANCE SOCIETY. Archie McPhee calls your attention to the “Lucky Yodelling Christmas Pickle Ornament”, an insidious technology that even Philip K. Dick forgot to predict.

This Yodelling Pickle Ornament yodels when you walk past. That means it’s either a bright, cheerful reminder of pickles and Christmas or an alarm that lets you know when snoopers are investigating their presents. Either way, you need one!

(16) ANOTHER POINTY THING. Damn, they’re breaking out all over the place! “Utah monolith sighting followed in Romania by similar mystery metal object”SYFY Wire has he latest.

Only days after the now-famous first metal monolith was discovered hiding out in the Utah desert, another gleaming slab has now been spotted lurking near an ancient archaeological site in Romania. Early reports don’t reveal much, but British tabloid Daily Mail led the charge today in revealing an early look at the newly-discovered 13-foot obelisk, which reportedly was found on Nov. 26 near an ancient Dacian fortress.

(17) VIDEO OF THE DAY. In “The New Mutants Pitch Meeting” on Screen Rant, Ryan George explains that The New Mutants is a film where one mutant’s chief personality trait is his love of doing dishes and the mutants are in a school “run by one woman with zero security guards.”

[Thanks to Elspeth Kovar, JJ, John Hertz, Mike Kennedy, Cat Eldridge, Andrew Porter, Martin Morse Wooster, Michael Toman,StephenfromOttawa, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day David Shallcross.]

Pixel Scroll 7/16/20 I Been In The Right Pixel—But It Must Have Been The Wrong Scroll

(1) THE COUNT OF MOUNT TSUNDOKU. “100 Most Popular Fantasy Books on Goodreads”. I’ve read 16 of 100 – I’m not a voracious fantasy fan. See how well you do. Here’s what ranks at the top of the heap:

Dragons, demons, kings, queens, and the occasional farm boy (with a special destiny, of course): Fantasy literature has it all! To celebrate our favorite fictional worlds and characters, we went on a quest for the 100 most popular fantasies of all time on Goodreads, as determined by your fellow members.

Of course, as fantasy readers know, the journey itself matters just as much as the destination. To create our list, we first sought out the most reviewed books on our site. Additionally, each title needed at least a 3.5-star rating to join our fellowship of titles. And, since fantasy is known for its epic sagas, in the case of multiple titles from the same series we chose the one with the most reviews.

Here are the top fantasy books on Goodreads, listed from 1 to 100.

(2)  VIRTUAL SPACE AND SFFCON. CosmoQuest, a citizen science research organization, is holding a virtual con Friday, July 17 through Sunday, July 19 focused on space and science fiction. CosmoQuest-a-Con’s main events are free to watch at https://www.twitch.tv/cosmoquestx, but you can also buy a $20 ticket for other space talks, author readings, concerts, and demos. The funds go to providing benefits to CosmoQuest’s part-time staff. The con’s home page is here.

(3) HARASSMENT REPORTED. Extreme horror author Tim Miller was called out as a harasser by M.M. Schill and others. Thread begins here. Miller’s social media is no longer available (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram). His website remains online. (Note: It’s not the director of the same name.)

Schill also indicated this callout could be shared.

(4) AFROFUTURISM. Essence of Wonder with Gadi Evron will offer “Sheree Renée Thomas and Friends on Afrofuturism and the Magic of Storytelling and Music” on July 18. Register at the link.

Sheree has more knowledge on the topic of the history of Afrofuturism than anyone we ever met, not to mention an incredible ability to bring it to life through nothing less than magic and wonder. Also coming on the show will be Andrea Hairston, Pan Morigan, and Danian Darrell Jerry. This Saturday, the 18th of July.

We will explore the magic of storytelling and music, and the power of community and art to affect personal and prophetic change.

(5) NOTHING UP MY SLEEVE. James Davis Nicoll comes up with “Five Strategies for Hiding a ‘Lost’ Civilization” at Tor.com.

Suppose for the moment that one is a science fiction or fantasy author, and further suppose that one wanted to posit a past great civilization whose existence comes as a complete surprise to modern folk. Let us also suppose that one wanted overlooking this lost civilization to be plausible… How might one go about this?

I’d tend to reject the “a secretive cabal always knew but kept it secret” explanation. People gossip. People love to show off their insider knowledge. People sometimes accidentally cut and paste entire sections of texts they’d really rather the world not know about into their tweets. Even valuable trade secrets tend to leak out given enough time. So where to hide a lost civilization? Here are five possibilities, to be used together or in concert….

(6) SOME TRUTH IS OUT THERE. “I recently discovered that—unlike in my twenties—at 46 years old I am able to spend innumerable hours watching The X-Files unassisted by marijuana.” “I don’t want to believe” at Affidavit.

… Over the last three months, two things have happened to me. Firstly, I’ve come to recognize my younger self in the character of Agent Fox Mulder, and feel shame appropriate to such an identification. Secondly, I’ve entered that most dangerous of all psychological terrain: nostalgia.

(7) PRO TIP. Ligtspeed’s “Author Spotlight” is on Adam-Troy Castro:

You reference Chekhov’s Gun, but adhere more scrupulously to the original quote than commonly seen: What’s your favorite advice to writers? Is there advice you commonly flout?

My favorite advice to writers is to wring the emotional reaction from yourself, first. When writing humor, you need to barely stand how witty you’re being; when you’re writing tragedy, you need to weep; when writing horror, you need to be appalled that this monstrous stuff is coming out of you. Hell, if you’re writing a thriller, you need to fear for your characters. Honestly, if you don’t react yourself, if it’s just a technical exercise, no one else is going to care either.

(8) IMAGINARY PAPERS 3. Today the Center for Science and the Imagination published the third issue of Imaginary Papers, their quarterly newsletter on science fiction worldbuilding, futures thinking, and imagination. This issue features writing from SF author Troy L. Wiggins and the science writer Kate Greene. Here is a direct link, and here is a link to subscribe for future issues.

(9) GÖRG OBIT. Galyn Görg, a dancer and actress who appeared on such shows as Twin Peaks and The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air and in films including Point Break and RoboCop 2, has died of cancer at the age of 55.

… Görg starred as police detective Leora Maxwell on the 1994-95 Fox sci-fi drama M.A.N.T.I.S., co-created by Sam Raimi, and played Nancy O’Reilly, the sister of One Eyed Jacks madam Blackie O’Reilly (Victoria Catlin), on three episodes of ABC’s Twin Peaks in 1990.

(10) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

  • July 16, 1955 Commando Cody: Sky Marshal of the Universe serial first aired. This black-and-white movie serial from Republic Pictures, originally began life as a proposed syndicated television series. It was written by Ronald Davidson and Barry Shipman, and was directed by Harry Keller,  Franklin Adreon and Fred C. Brannon. The cast was Judd Holdren as Commando Cody, Aline Towne as Joan Gilbert, William Schallert as Ted Richards and Richard Crane as Dick Preston . There would be twelve twenty five episodes. You can see the first episode, ‘Enemies of the Universe” here.

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]

  • Born July 16, 1723 –  Sir Joshua Reynolds.  First President of the Royal Academy of Arts.  Famed as a portraitist.  Intellectual enough to keep company with Burke, Goldsmith, Johnson.  Painting mythological subjects calls for fantasy: here is Juno Receiving the Cestus from Venushere is Diana Disarming Cupidhere is Theory.  (Died 1792) [JH]
  • Born July 16, 1882 Felix Locher. He is considered the oldest Star Trek actor of all time by birth year, appearing in  “The Deadly Years” episode. 0ther genre appearances included Curse of the Faceless Man,  The Twilight ZoneFrankenstein’s Daughter, The Munsters, House of the DamnedThe Man from U.N.C.L.E. and Mission Impossible. His entire acting career was from 1957 to 1969. (Died 1969.) (CE)
  • Born July 16, 1916 – Paul Freehafer.  Joined the SF League in 1934, thus part of First Fandom (active at least as early as the first Worldcon, 1939) although 1F was not organized, if the word may be used, until much later.  So helpful to his local club the LASFS (L.A. Science Fantasy Soc.) that its service award is the Evans-Freehafer (after E. Everett Evans and PF).  Fanzine, Polaris.  More here. (Died 1944) [JH]
  • Born July 16, 1920 – Stan Woolston.  Printer and fan.  Life member of the Nat’l Fantasy Fan Fed’n (N3F), edited Tightbeam, served on Welcommittee, earned the Kaymar.  Lifelong friend of Len Moffatt (published SF Parade with him), Rick Sneary.  Big Heart (our highest service award, community-wide).  (Died 2001) [JH]
  • Born July 16, 1928 Robert Sheckley. I knew that his short story “Seventh Victim” was the basis of The 10th Victim film but I hadn’t known ‘til now that Freejack was sort of based of his Immortality, Inc. novel.  I’ve read a lot by him with Bring Me the Head of Prince Charming (written with Zelazny) and Babylon 5: A Call to Arms being my favorite works by him. Sheckley is very well stocked on the aKindle store but not in the iBook store. H’h. (Died 2005.) (CE)
  • Born July 16, 1943 – Bruce Boston, 77.  Two novels; a hundred shorter stories in AmazingAsimov’sRealms of FantasySF AgeStrange Horizons; poems dusting our skies like strange stars.  Seven Rhyslings; Pushcart Prize; first Grand Master of the SF Poetry Ass’n.  Has chaired the Nebula Award jury for novels, the Philip K. Dick Award jury.  [JH]
  • Born July 16, 1951 – Sue Thomas, 69.  Coined the term “technobiophilia” and wrote a book about it.  Two novels; anthology Wild Women.  Correspondent, reviewer, in FocusFoundationMatrix, Paperback InfernoVector.  [JH]
  • Born July 16, 1951 Esther Friesner, 69. She’s won the Nebula Awards for Best Short Story twice with “Death and the Librarian” and “A Birthday”.  I’m particularly fond of The Sherwood Game and E.Godz which she did with Robert Asprin. She’s better stocked in the Kindle store than in the iBooks Store. (CE) 
  • Born July 16, 1956 Jerry Doyle. Now this one is depressing. Dead of acute alcoholism at sixty, his character Michael Garibaldi was portrayed as an alcoholic, sometimes recovering and sometimes not on Babylon 5. Damn. (Died 2016.) (CE)
  • Born July 16, 1963 Phoebe Cates, 57. Ok, do her entire genre appearance credit is as Kate Beringer in Gremlins and Gremlins 2: The New Batch. It’s two films that I have an inordinate fondness for that the Suck Fairy cannot have any effect upon them what-so-ever. (CE)
  • Born July 16, 1967 Will Ferrell, 53. His last film was Holmes & Watson in which he played Holmes. It won Worst Picture, Worst Director, Worst Screen Combo and, my absolute favorite Award, Worst Prequel, Remake, Rip-off or Sequel. Wow. He was also in Land of the Lost which, errrr, also got negative reviews. Elf however got a great response from viewers and critics alike. He also was in two of the Austin Powers films as well. (CE)
  • Born July 16, 1975 – Lucian Dragos Bogdan, 45.  Author, caricaturist (the ”s” in his name should have a tiny comma under it for the sound English spells ”sh”). Likes rock music and the Tao Tê Ching (or, if you’d rather, Daodejing).  A dozen novels, thirty short stories, in our field; also mystery & thriller, romance.  Website in EnglishFrenchRomanian. [JH]

(12)COMICS SECTION.

(13) NOW A SHADOW OF ITS FORMER SELF. Silvia Moreno-Garcia sketches “A Brief History of Mexican Horror Comic Books” at Tor.com.

When people ask me if I like comic books I always have a split-second reaction. The answer is no. But it’s a nuanced no. I don’t like superhero comic books, but I grew up reading plenty of other stuff.

While in the United States “comic book” can be read as a synonym for “superhero,” such a correlation has not traditionally existed in Mexico. Mexican artists during their Golden Age were more interested in other kinds of content. This doesn’t mean there weren’t any superheroes—Fantomas, El Santo and Kalimán come to mind—but you were more likely to find other sorts of local comic books. And when people thought comic books, they probably thought historietas, monitos, una de vaqueros, all of which conjure something very far from Superman, Batman or the X-Men….

(14) TIME AFTER TIME. In the Washington Post, Michael Cavna interviews Garry Trudeau about his new book Lewser! More Doonesbury In The Age Of Trump.  Trudeau discusses how he satirizes Trump, including how he draws the president’s hair, and how “for the most part, I’ve stayed away” from satirizing Trump’s children “and I’m not sure why.” “Garry Trudeau is spoofing the Trump presidency by treating it as ‘a hostile takeover’”.

… “There has been never the slightest danger of running out of inspiration — Trump serves up a banquet of lies, obfuscation and cruelty almost daily,” says Trudeau, whose new material runs every Sunday. “Steve Allen once said that comedy is tragedy plus time, but in Trump’s case, the passage of time is wholly optional.”

(15) THEY HAVE A LITTLE LIST. “So which comics companies got PPP loans?” ComicsBeat will satiate your curiosity on this score.

… Back when this pandemic thing first began, several economic relief packages were floated as part of the CARES Act, including small business loans known as PPP (Payment Protection Program) loans. The loans were to help with payroll to keep people employed – with the loans forgivable if 60% of the money went to payroll.

… It’s also not anything to be ashamed of – applying for aid during an economic shutdown is a smart move to keep people on the payroll and keep companies afloat, and it’s good that these comics companies were able to receive aid.

Now, we did hear that many actual small businesses, including comics shops, had a harder time getting loans, and there are lots of stories about billionaires getting payouts, from Kanye West to Soho House. And of course there was fraud, like using PPP money to pay for a new house in the case of the CEO of Wendy’s. Nice one!

(16) HEROES ASSEMBLE. In “Chris Evans Sends Captain America Shield to Young Boy Who Saved His Sister From Dog Attack”, Variety reports that Evans joined a bunch of other actors who play superheroes to cheer up Bridger Walker, a nine-year-old who got 90 stitches after protecting his four-year-old sister from a charging dog.

…“I’m sure you’ve heard this a lot over the last couple of the days, but let me be the next one to tell you: Pal, you’re a hero,” Evans said. “What you did was so brave, so selfless, your sister is so lucky to have you as a big brother. Your parents must be so proud of you.”

(17) IG NOBEL NOMINEE. Snakes! It has to be snakes – who can out-eat hot dog chugging humans. “Scientists Have Finally Calculated How Many Hot Dogs a Person Can Eat at Once”.

The world’s best hot dog eaters could outeat a grizzly bear or a coyote, but would fall far behind a wolf or a Burmese python, a new study finds.

Over the Fourth of July weekend, with streams of sweat pouring down his face, Joey Chestnut broke his own world record for hot dog eating, by downing 75 hot dogs (with buns) in 10 minutes at the Nathan’s Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest. It was his 13th win at the annual contest. And Miki Sudo set a women’s record, 48.5 hot dogs, to grab her seventh straight Nathan’s win.

Because of the coronavirus crisis, the event was held virtually this year, and Dr. James Smoliga was glued to his screen, rooting for new records. For the past few months, Dr. Smoliga, a veterinarian and exercise scientist, had been working on a mathematical analysis of the maximum number of hot dogs that a human could theoretically consume in 10 minutes.

“The answer is 83,” said Dr. Smoliga, a professor at High Point University in North Carolina.

He has now published the full analysis, which calculated this number based on 39 years of historical data from the Nathan’s contest, as well as on mathematical models of human performance that consider the potential for extreme athletic feats.

“It’s a great paper,” said Dr. Michael Joyner, a physician at the Mayo Clinic who studies human performance, adding that the analysis shows the classic fast rise in performance followed by more gradual improvements that happen when an event becomes professionalized. The best part, he said, is that Dr. Smoliga wrote it with a straight face.

(18) SPACE: 1999 REDUX. “Nuclear blast sends star hurtling across galaxy”. Looking for a gas station?

A star has been sent hurtling across the galaxy after undergoing a partial supernova, astronomers say.

A supernova is a powerful explosion that occurs when some stars reach the ends of their lives; in this case, the blast was not sufficient to destroy it.

Instead, it sent the star hurtling through space at 900,000 km/hr.

Astronomers think the object, known as a white dwarf, was originally circling another star, which would have been sent flying in the opposite direction.

When two stars orbit each other like this, they are described as a “binary”. Only one of the stars has been detected by astronomers, however.

The object, known as SDSS J1240+6710, was previously found to have an unusual atmospheric composition.

Discovered in 2015, it seemed to contain neither hydrogen nor helium (which are usually found), appearing to be composed instead of an unusual mix of oxygen, neon, magnesium and silicon.

(19) WRINKLES IN TIME. “Desert telescope takes aim at ageing our Universe” – BBC has the story.

Another telescope has entered the debate about the age and expansion rate of the Universe.

This topic has recently become the subject of an energetic to and fro among scientists using different astronomical facilities and techniques.

The new entrant is the Atacama Cosmology Telescope in Chile.

It’s been studying the “oldest light” on the sky and has concluded the Big Bang occurred 13.77 billion years ago, give or take 40 million years.

That’s almost exactly the same number we got from Europe’s flagship Planck space observatory mission, which mapped the ancient light in the early 2010s.

But therein lies the problem because other telescopes using different methods have come out with ages that are a few hundred million years younger.

What they’ve all been trying to do is measure what’s known as the Hubble Constant – the value used by astronomers to describe cosmic expansion.

(20) OLD GUARD, NEW LOOK. The Washington Post’s Ann Hornaday interviews The Old Guard director Gina Prince-Bythewood, the first Black director of a superhero movie, about what it was like to direct the film and the choices she made in directing women that were different than what male directors would do. “Gina Prince-Bythewood is the first black woman to direct a major comic-book movie. It looks like the future.”

… When she began tackling the material, she adds, her identity as an African American woman informed nearly every decision she made. “The things that I influenced, that I noticed, that I corrected, that I amplified, absolutely come from a black female lens,” she says firmly. Although she was thrilled with Rucka’s original script, she asked him to flesh out Nile’s backstory, adding layers having to do with her family and experience in the military (where, not incidentally, her colleagues are women of color, much like the institution itself). Even the film’s many fight scenes bear the signature of someone who is coming from a different angle than the usual white male gaze. One in particular, between Andy and Nile on a cargo plane, was particularly sensitive for Prince-Bythewood.

(21) COGNITIVE DISSONANCE TIME. What’s gotten into Tor.com’s headline writers? “Let Henry Cavill Show You Parts You’ve Never Seen Before… As He Assembles This Gaming PC”. But Emmet Asher-Perrin says —

It’s not what you think, promise.

In fact, Cavill used this opportunity to play some very sexy music while he… assembled his gaming PC…. 

Does it seem strange to see such humor in a headline after reading one of the items above?

(22) DEBUT NOVELIST. From Goodreads: “Lindsay Ellis: How Science Fiction Makes Sense of the Present”.

Until this summer, Lindsay Ellis was mainly known as a super smart and witty film critic and YouTube essayist… This month, Ellis’ debut science fiction novel, Axiom’s End, arrives….

I was eight years old when Lois Lowry’s The Giver was released in 1993, and it became an instant turning point for me, not only for my relationship to books in general, but to science fiction in particular. Anti-authority narratives for children are extremely common—it’s pretty much the basis for all of Nickelodeon’s marketing—but narratives for young children tend to have cartoonishly evil authority figures who are obviously in the wrong. The Giver, in contrast, presents us with what appears to be a utopia, challenging the young reader with a simple, comforting authority structure that over the course of the narrative the protagonist Jonah learns not only has sapped his community’s members of their humanity, but does monstrous things in its bid to maintain control.

One of the main hallmarks of science fiction is the use of social constructs, technologies, and futures that do not yet exist—and may never exist—as a means of exploring our present. In the case of The Giver, it was the first book I read that used science fiction to create (to an eight year old, anyway) mind-blowing revelations about the nature of society and the individual’s relationship to it. The Giver is one of those books that serves as a perfect gateway for children who are just beginning to learn that change is inevitable, that well-meaning people can be wrong, and that solutions to problems are not always obvious. …

(23) LEFANU ON TV. “Carmilla–Official UK Trailer” on YouTube is a trailer for a “reimagined” version of J.S. LeFanu’s great horror novella which is now being streamed in the U.S.

Isolated from the outside world, fifteen-year-old Lara (Hannah Rae, “Broadchurch”, Fighting with My Family) lives in seclusion on a vast country estate with her father and strict governess Miss Fontaine (Jessica Raine, “Patrick Melrose”, “Jericho”). Late one evening, a mysterious carriage crash brings a young girl (Devrim Lingnau) into their home to recuperate. Lara immediately becomes enchanted by this strange visitor who arouses her curiosity and awakens her burgeoning desires.

[Thanks to Stephen Granade, John King Tarpinian, Martin Morse Wooster, Mike Kennedy, JJ, John Hertz, Cat Eldridge, Andrew Porter, Lise Andreasen, Joey Eschrich, Michael Toman, and Chip Hitchcock for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Xtifr.]

Pixel Scroll 4/22/20 Then Curl Up On The Pile And Sleep For A While, It’s The Scrolliest Thing, It’s The Pixel Dream

(1) DRAGON CON STILL ON SCHEDULE. Dragon Con told Facebook readers today they are proceeding with plans for their Labor Day event.

Many things in the world are uncertain right now. One thing isn’t: We are planning to throw one sorely-needed, amazing celebration come Labor Day. We’re moving forward to keep #DragonCon2020 on schedule.

Currently, there are no plans to reschedule or cancel the event, however we’re keeping in touch with the experts either way, and working with our venue partners to make sure everything and everyone stays safe, happy, and healthy.

Rest assured if at any time we feel that cannot be accomplished, we will do what is needed to protect our community.

(2) POPPING OFF. Gideon Marcus used a clever theme to pull together Galactic Journey’s review of the latest issue – in 1965 – of F&SF: “[APRIL 22, 1965] CRACKER JACK ISSUE (MAY 1965 FANTASY AND SCIENCE FICTION)”.

I’m sure everyone’s familiar with America’s snack, as ubiquitous at ball games as beer and hotdogs.  As caramel corn goes, it’s pretty mediocre stuff, though once you start eating, you find you can’t stop.  And the real incentive is the prize waiting for you at the bottom of the box.  Will it be a ring?  A toy or a little game?  Maybe a baseball card.

This month, like most months recently, The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction is kind of like a box of Cracker Jacks.  But the prize at the end of the May 1965 issue is worth the chore of getting there.

(3) PATREON’S UNLUCKY NUMBER. “Patreon lays off 13% of workforce” reports TechCrunch.

Creative platform Patreon  has laid off 30 employees, which is 13% of its workforce, TechCrunch has learned.

“It is unclear how long this economic uncertainty will last and therefore, to prepare accordingly, we have made the difficult decision to part ways with 13% of Patreon’s workforce,” a Patreon spokesperson said in a statement to TechCrunch. “This decision was not made lightly and consisted of several other factors beyond the financial ones.”

…The startup ecosystem has been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic, with layoffs no longer the exception, but the rule. Still, it’s peculiar timing for Patreon, given the company touted an increase in new memberships during the first three weeks of March….

(4) VISITOR FROM BEYOND. [Item by Daniel Dern.] Jeff Hecht (who’s sold sf stories everywhere from Analog, Asimov’s and Interzone to Nature and various anthologies — ) has an article in the April 21, 2020 Sky & Telescope on recent interstellar visitors: “The Origins of Interstellar Objects”.

…Comet Borisov was easy to recognize as a comet, but our first interstellar visitor, 1I/’Oumuamua, was like nothing astronomers had seen before. It was elongated, tumbling erratically, porous, moving oddly, releasing only wisps of gas — even evoking thoughts of derelict alien spaceship….

In terms of SF relevance (beyond “we also are interested in science fact stuff”), Jeff notes, regarding this article, “The only SF twist was saying they finally found a way to explain the origin of ‘Oumuamua other than as an alien spacecraft.”

(5) MOORCOCK REVEALED WHEN PAYWALL FALLS. Stacy Hollister’s “A Q&A With Michael Moorcock” is an interview with Michael Moorcock about his novel King Of The City that first appeared in the November 2002 Texas Monthly, which has lowered its paywall for the rest of the year.

texasmonthly.com: What’s your mission as a writer?

MM: I’m very moralistic. I think I bear a certain responsibility for the effect of the fiction I write. Anger at injustice, cruelty, or ignorance is what tends to fire me up. I try to show readers where we might all be wearing cultural blinders. I hate imperialism, so therefore much of my early work was an attempt to show admirers of the British Empire, say, what kind of injustice, prejudice and hypocrisy such an empire is based on. I am very uneasy with current Anglophone rhetoric about responsibilities to other parts of the world, for instance. King of the City deals with some of this, especially the destruction of African society by imperial rapacity.

(6) SMALL SHOW RECAP – BEWARE SPOILERS. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] Last night on DC’s Legends of Tomorrow, the time ship ended up in British Columbia in 2020 and ended up in a woods which ultimately led them to the set of Supernatural.  They didn’t see any members of the cast, but they did see Sam and Dean’s car and opened the trunk, which was full of monster-fighting equipment.  They then used the equipment to fight a bunch of zombie-like creatures, and learn the creatures have killed the crew shooting Supernatural.

“How will they finish season 15?” one of the legends asks.

Well, now we know why Supernatural still has seven episodes left to shoot…

(7) ENTERTAINMENT FOR SJW CREDENTIAL OWNERS. Martin Morse Wooster, our designated Financial Times reader, peeked behind the paywall and found that in the April 17 issue Sarah Hemming reviews fiction podcasts.

Nadia, star of Russian For Cats (created by Pam Cameron), has escaped from prison and is desperately seeking refuge.  She discovers it with Brian, a loser who lives in a caravan in a state of great disorder and despondency.  When Nadia arrives, he finds a confidante and she finds sanctuary.

The only thing is, Nadia is a cat:  a talking cat fluent in Russian.  Here’s a story ideally suited to lockdown :a gently absurd thriller, featuring a chatty feline, the chance to learn Russian (a short lesson follows each episode), and a sinister explanation for popularity of cat memes.  Is your cat spying on you?  Do you need to ask?

(8) MT. TSUNDOKU CALLS YOU. Steven Cooper today made the Asimov biblioraphy that was referenced in the Scroll a few days ago available to purchase as a print-on-demand book from Lulu — An Annotated Bibliography for Isaac Asimov. Thanks to Bill for the discovery.

(9) CASEY OBIT. Past President of the Philadelphia SF Society Hugh Casey died April 21 after a long illness, including a stroke. He is survived by his partner Stephanie Lucas.

In happier times Hugh made File 770 with this humorous incident from 2002:

Philadelphia SF Club President Hugh Casey almost made his show business debut in September. “I was supposed to be checking out an alternate location for meetings, but was unable to make it due to being held up in traffic. In fact I ended up driving into the middle of filming for Kevin Smith’s upcoming movie Jersey Girl – apparently disrupting a shot and getting some crew members very angry at me. I did not see either the director or the stars.”

In 2017, when Casey battled cancer, his friends rallied to raise money for his medical expenses by creating “HughCon”

…The Rotunda has donated their space, Star Trek-themed band The Roddenberries have donated their time and talent, a number of makers and vendors have donated items for our silent auction, and a lots of people have donated their time and effort 

(10) TODAY IN HISTORY.

  • April 22, 1953 Invaders from Mars premiered. It directed by William Cameron Menzies and produced by Edward L. Alperson Jr. from the script written by Richard Blake with the story by John Tucker Battle.  It starred Jimmy Hunt, Helena Carter, Arthur Franz, Morris Ankrum, Leif Erickson, and Hillary Brooke. Invaders from Mars was nominated for a Retro-Hugo at Noreascon 4 but lost out to The War of The Worlds. Critics at the time liked it quite a bit, and At Rotten Tomatoes, it holds an approval rating of 82% among audience reviewers. You can watch it here.
  • April 22, 1959 The Monster Of Piedras Blancas enjoyed its premiere. It was produced by Jack Kevan who started out as a makeup artist on The Wizard of Oz as written and directed by Irvin Berwick who was associate produced later on for The Loch Ness Horror. The screenplay was by H. Haile Chace It starred Jeanne Carmen, Les Tremayne, John Harmon, Don Sullivan, Forrest Lewis, and Pete Dunn. It received universally negative criticism with most calling it amateurish with the script, dialogue, and monster design being noted s being bad. It holds a not terribly bad 33% rating among audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes. You’re in for for a special treat as you can see it here.

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born April 22, 1902 Philip Latham. Name used by Robert Shirley Richardson on his genre work. His novels were largely first published in Astounding starting in the Forties, With the exception of his children’s SF novels that were published in Space Science Fiction Magazine. He also wrote a few scripts for Captain Video, the predecessor of Captain Video and his Video Rangers. His Comeback novel starts this way: ‘ When Parkhurst heard the announcement that climaxed the science fiction convention, he found that he’d been right, years ago when he had faith in science-fictionists’ dreams. But, in another way, he’d been wrong . . .’ It’s available at the usual digital suspects for a buck. (Died 1981.)
  • Born April 22, 1934 Sheldon Jaffery. An editor and bibliographer of pulps whose non-fiction Work and genre anthologies are both fascinating. Among the latter are such publications as Sensuous Science Fiction From the Weird and Spicy Pulps and The Weirds: A Facsimile Selection of Fiction From the Era of the Shudder Pulps, and from the former are Future and Fantastic Worlds: Bibliography of DAW BooksThe Arkham House Companion: Fifty Years of Arkham House and Collector’s Index to Weird Tales. (Died 2003.)
  • Born April 22, 1937 Jack Nicholson, 82. I think my favorite role for him in a genre film was as Daryl Van Horne in The Witches of Eastwick. Other genre roles include Jack Torrance in The Shining, Wilbur Force in The Little Shop of Horrors, Rexford Bedlo in The Raven, Andre Duvalier in The Terror, (previous three films are all Roger Corman productions), Will Randall in Wolf, President James Dale / Art Land in Mars Attacks! and Jack Napier aka The Joker in Tim  Burton’s The Batman. I watched the last one, was not impressed.
  • Born April 22, 1944 Damien Broderick, 76. Australian writer of over seventy genre novels. It is said that The Judas Mandala novel contains the first appearance of the term “virtual reality” in SF. He’s won five Ditmar Awards, a remarkable achievement. I know I’ve read several novels by him including Godplayers and K-Machines which are quite good.
  • Born April 22, 1967 Sheryl Lee, 53. Best remembered as being cast by David Lynch as Laura Palmer and Maddy Ferguson in Twin Peaks and in Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me, and reprised in the later Twin Peaks. Her other interesting genre role was playing the title role in Guinevere based on Persia Woolley’s Guinevere trilogy. Finally, she was Katrina in John Carpenter’s Vampires for which she won the very cool sounding Fangoria Chainsaw Award for Best Supporting Actress.
  • Born April 22, 1977 Kate Baker, 43. Editor along with with Neil Clarke and Sean Wallace of the last two print issues Clarkesworld. She’s won the Hugo Award for Best Semiprozine twice, and the World Fantasy Award (Special Award: Non Professional) in 2014, all alongside the editorial staff of Clarkesworld. She’s a writer of three short genre stories, the latest of which, “No Matter Where; Of Comfort No One Speak”, you can hear here. (Warning for subject matters abuse and suicide.)
  • Born April 22, 1978 Manu Intiraymi, 42. He played the former Borg Icheb on the television series Star Trek: Voyager. A role that he played a remarkable eleven times. And this Birthday research led me to discovering yet another video Trek fanfic, this time in guise of Star Trek: Renegades in which he reprised his role. Any Trekkies here watch this? 
  • Born April 22, 1984 Michelle Ryan, 36. She had the odd honor of being a Companion to the Tenth Doctor as Lady Christina de Souza for just one story, “Planet of the Dead”. She had a somewhat longer genre run as the rebooted Bionic Woman that lasted eight episodes, and early in her career, she appeared as the sorceress Nimueh in BBC’s Merlin. Finally I’ll note she played Helena from A Midsummer Night’s Dream in BBC’s Learning project, Off By Heart Shakespeare.

(12) COMICS SECTION.

(13) BREAKTHROUGH. In the Washington Post, Michael Cavna profiles Steenz (pseudonym of Christina Stewart) and Bianca Xunise as two African-American comic strip creators who have broken into the world of newspaper comic strips, as Steenz has taken over Heart of the City and Xunise has joined the artists producing Six Chix. “Newspaper comics hardly ever feature black women as artists. But two new voices have arrived.”

“The ‘powers that be’ — white male editors at white publications — have kept folks of color to a minimum on their pages so as not to cause a stir. That’s the case still,” says Barbara Brandon-Croft, whose trailblazing strip “Where I’m Coming From” was distributed by Universal Press Syndicate from 1991 to 2005 — making her the first black woman to achieve national mainstream syndication as a cartoonist.

“You had to go to the black newspapers — as early as the ’30s — to find black characters drawn by black hands,” she says. ”And a black woman lead — what? Jackie Ormes’s ‘Torchy Brown’ was truly groundbreaking.” (Ormes, the first African American woman to have a syndicated comic strip, was elected to the Will Eisner Comics Hall of Fame in 2018.)

(14) KEEP THEM DOGIES MOVIN’. There’s money to be made! “‘The Mandalorian’ Season 3 Already in the Works at Disney Plus”.

The October premiere date for Season 2 of “The Mandalorian” may still feel like it’s far, far away, but pre-production has already begun on a third installment of the wildly popular Disney Plus series, Variety has learned exclusively.

Sources close to the production have confirmed that creator Jon Favreau has been “writing season 3 for a while,” and that the art department, led by Lucasfilm vice president and executive creative director Doug Chiang, has been creating concepts for Season 3 “for the past few weeks.”

…The Mouse House also has two others series from a Galaxy far, far away in the works, namely an Obi-Wan Kenobi series with Ewan McGregor reprising the iconic role, and a Cassian Andor series starring Diego Luna, which recently added Stellan Skarsgard and Kyle Soller, as Variety reported exclusively.

(15) RELIEF FOR COMICS STORES. “Comic Book Publishers Unite for Fund to Help Stores”The Hollywood Reporter runs the numbers.

As the comic book industry seeks to rebuild in the wake of store closures and publication pauses caused by the coronavirus outbreak, the Book Industry Charitable Foundation (BINC) is announcing the formation of a new fund specifically aimed at assisting comics, the Comicbook United Fund.

Combining the $100,000 pledged last year to BINC from the Oni-Lion Forge Publishing Group to support comic book retailers with the $250,000 pledged earlier this month by DC, the Comicbook United Fund is intended to be the central location for any and all figures and organizations hoping to raise money for comic book retailers.

(16) EMERGENCY. The roleplaying game designer Guy McLimore (FASA’s Star Trek: The Roleplaying Game, Mekton Empire, The Fantasy Trip) says he had to break social distancing for an exceptionally good reason:

(17) STEWARDS OF THE FUTURE. Wil Wheaton penned a visionary essay to accompany his voicing of a C.L. Moore audio story — “Radio Free Burrito Presents: The Tree of Life by CL Moore”.

…I’m sure, in her incredible, gifted, magnificent imagination, she never even considered for a second that, almost 100 years into her future, someone whose parents weren’t yet born would take her work, bring it to life in a unique way, and then distribute that new work to anyone who wants it, in the world, without even getting out of my desk chair.

What amazing thing is sitting just over our horizon? What amazing thing is waiting for our grandchildren that we can’t even imagine right now? Why aren’t we doing more to protect our planet and each other, so our grandchildren don’t have to live in some apocalyptic nightmare?

(18) RELIC. “Hawking’s family donate ventilator to hospital”.

Stephen Hawking’s personal ventilator has been donated to the hospital where he was often treated to help patients diagnosed with coronavirus.

The physicist, who had motor neurone disease, died in 2018, aged 76.

His family donated the medical equipment he bought himself to the Royal Papworth Hospital in Cambridge.

Prof Hawking’s daughter Lucy said the hospital was “incredibly important” to her father and Dr Mike Davies said staff were “so grateful” to the family.

(19) SPEAKING IN PARSELTONGUES. “Scientists discover a new snake and name it after Salazar Slytherin”CNN has the story.

A team of researchers from India, upon discovering a new species of green pit vipers, have decided to name the snake after the one, the only Salazar Slytherin. Their findings were published this month in the journal Zoosystematics and Evolution.

For those not familiar with Harry Potter, a quick history lesson. In a nutshell, Salazar Slytherin was one of the founders of the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, along with his pals Godric Gryffindor, Rowena Ravenclaw and Helga Hufflepuff.

Along with being some of the most powerful witches and wizards of their time in the Harry Potter world, they’re also the namesakes of the four Hogwarts houses.

Slytherin, partly known for his ability to talk to snakes, is linked to the animals — the snake is, after all, the symbol of the Slytherin Hogwarts house. That’s why the researchers chose the name Trimeresurus salazar.

 (20) NEIGHBORHOOD WATCH. NBC’s Dallas/Ft. Worth affiliate sent a crew to capture this scene: “Stormtrooper Patrols Richardson Neighborhood With Coronavirus-Related Messages”.

A Richardson man who has had a lifelong love of “Star Wars” and particularly stormtroopers, took to the streets to bring a smile and an important message to his neighbors.

Rob Johnson dressed up as a stormtrooper and patrolled the sidewalks near his home carrying signs reminding people “Good guys wear masks” and “move alone, move alone.”

The stormtrooper shows a sense of humor too, with one sign reading, “Have you seen my droid, TP4U?”

(21) TV TIME. Edgar Wright’s doing a thing on Twitter:

Not specifically genre related but it looks fun. Here’s some relevant replies:

[Thanks to Cath Jackel, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, John King Tarpinian, JJ, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, Chip Hitchcock, rcade, Bill, Daniel Dern, N., and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Jack Lint.]