Never Mind The News – File 770’s Best Feature Articles of 2021

Was the year too heavy, deep, and real? Yes, but it was also rich in creativity, humor, and shared adventures. It’s a gift and privilege for me to be continually allowed to publish so many entertaining posts. Thanks to all of you who contributed!

FEATURES

David DoeringMost Remote SF Bookstore in the World?

Meet “Book Island” in the town of Saint Denis on Reunion Island—a small speck in the vast Indian Ocean

Pierre E. Pettinger, Jr.Never Too Late To Start: Guest Post by Pierre E. Pettinger Jr.

… Like many fans, I had tried my hand with writing, especially as a teenager. I wrote notes, drew weird aliens, and even wrote a novel which will never see the light of day. But during all this I did noodle, consistently, with several recurring characters and a story line. It shifted and changed, of course, as I matured and different interests came into my life, and eventually they just settled in the back of my mind.

John HertzAt the Height of His –

… Once when [Tim] Powers was being interviewed at an SF convention someone asked “Do you actually believe in this stuff?”  He said “No.  But my characters do.”  As Gordon Bennett wrote, and Frank Sinatra sang, “This is all I ask, this is all I need.”

JJ2020 Novellapalooza

… I’m a huge reader of novels, but not that big on short fiction. But the last few years, I’ve done a personal project to read and review as many Novellas as I could (presuming that the story Synopsis had some appeal for me). …

Patty WellsLearn About SAFF, the Space Agency Fan Fund

… The mission of SAFF is to keep the factual progress of space exploration out there for our community and to help individual Worldcons and other conventions in dealing with the arrangements and funding of space experts as special guests. 

JJWhere To Find The 2020 Nebula Finalists For Free Online

To help propel you into your awards season reading, here are links to excerpts or complete works from the 2020 Nebula Award finalists.

John HertzGood Names for Bad Guys

 During 1937-1956 a radio program called “The Answer Man” was broadcast over the Mutual Broadcasting System….  

Wolf von WittingInexplicable Phenomena and How To Approach Them

… Another solved mystery was that of the vanishing pancake. A friend of mine, by profession police officer, was standing at his stove, frying pancakes. As we both did with pancakes, we flipped them around in the air. So did my friend on this day.

His mystery was that the pancake never came back down. It vanished. There was no trace of it….

A Multitude of FilersOpening Lines Rewritten for a Pandemic — By Filers

Eli Grober’s “Opening Lines Rewritten for a Pandemic” in The New Yorker humorously changes the beginnings of famous books to suit life as we knew it in the plague year of 2020…. Filers answered the challenge to add to the list. Here is a collection from yesterday’s comments….

The Dark Tower I: The Gunslinger by Stephen King

The Man in Black fled across the desert, and the Gunslinger followed, being careful to maintain a distance of at least six feet.

–Nina Shepardson

Brendan DuBoisIn Happy Pursuit of Jeopardy!

… It was the Jeopardy! gameshow display screen one saw all the time on television, in real life, just yards away, here inside the cool Sony studios.   Six rows across with the categories, columns of five numbers under each.  To the right of the large display was Alex Trebek’s podium, and nearby were the three contestant stations. 

There were sixteen of us here, and before the end of the day, all of us but one would have our thirty minutes of fame — or infamy — in this very special place.

But how did I get here?

John HertzAnother Well-Titled Book

Glorious, the Greg Benford – Larry Niven novel appearing last year, is one of the more ambitious SF stories.  

Rich LynchRocket Boy

… The model took off and rose straight up for maybe 100 feet or so before the second stage kicked in, but then there was trouble.  Instead of continuing its upward flight, the thing veered to the right and zoomed away horizontally, slightly descending all the while.  It went directly over a house across the street and continued on, neatly bisecting the span between two tall trees behind the house.  And then it was gone from sight.  I remember that my uncle gave me a quizzical look and asked, “Was it supposed to do that?”…

IphinomeFour Reviews by Iphinome

Reading. That’s what I do, I read and I snark things.

IphinomeIphinome Reviews Novik’s A Deadly Education

El (Galadriel) is pissed off. Her classmate Orion just rescued her for the second time –needlessly. She’s capable, more than capable, El’s powerful – El, power, get it? Get it?…

Lyrics by Aydrea Walden and Jocelyn Scofield“All Because of You” Lyrics from the Nebula Awards Ceremony

But then I had a spark, a realization
While floating here all by myself
I’m actually in the best of company
Because you’re on my shelf

Mark L. BlackmanDeath and Doom (and Cats) at the KGB Bar with Seanan McGuire and Nadia Bulkin

On the evening of Wednesday, June 16, 2021, the Fantastic Fiction at KGB Reading Series, hosted by Ellen Datlow and Matthew Kressel, presented authors Seanan McGuire and Nadia Bulkin in livestreamed readings on YouTube. (Neither reader is running for Mayor of New York.)

This is the 16th month of virtual readings, in place of in-person reading at the eponymous bar in the East Village in Manhattan, noted Kressel. New York City may be “open,” added Datlow, but they don’t yet feel comfortable “going into the crowd” at the Bar for at least a few more months….

Mike GlyerSmell Like A Superhero

Is there a science fiction movie character you want to smell like? Forget Swamp Thing, c’mon, he’s not in Fragrance X’s catalog. Otherwise, there’s no end of superhero and genre branded colognes you can buy.

Sara FelixWhy I Work on Worldcon: Guest Post by Sara Felix

There was a post a while ago on twitter that asked, “So what motivates y’all to continue entering bids to host Worldcons? Genuinely curious.”

And I responded with, ”I think there are some great bids out there like Glasgow 2024 that you can genuinely tell they are enthusiastic and want to put on a good show.  Working on Dublin was like that for me as well.  I am not saying they are perfect but the excitement is really important.”

But that is just the tip of the iceberg of what I wanted to say…

Cat EldridgeLeague of Extraordinary Gentlemen Film Anniversary: Celebrate or Not?

… Now back to Connery. The film would leave him with such a bad experience that claimed he the production of the film and the film’s final quality was what he caused his decision to permanently retire from filmmaking, saying in an interview with The Times that, “It was a nightmare. The experience had a great influence on me, it made me think about showbiz. I get fed up dealing with idiots.”

Martin Morse WoosterSpace Jam: A New Legacy – A Review

Space Jam:  A New Legacy is a fun-free synthetic entertainment substitute.  Its many writers (six are credited) created a screenplay from artificial sweeteners, high fructose corn syrup, and gas….  

Mark L. BlackmanTwo Too-Near Futures from Kim Stanley Robinson and Nancy Kress

… Datlow asked Robinson, “How can you be so optimistic?” He replied that his mother was; she felt that it was our duty to be optimistic and to help people….

Mike GlyerLe Guin Stamp Issued Today

The Ursula K. Le Guin commemorative Forever stamp was officially unveiled today during a ceremony at the Portland (OR) Art Museum.

Steve VertliebCelebrating The Wonderful Nehemiah Persoff At 102

… I began to wonder whatever became of this marvelous actor and so, before retiring for the evening, I started to research Mr. Persoff’s whereabouts on my computer. As luck would have it, I found him and wrote him a rather hasty letter of personal and lifelong admiration. To my shock and utter astonishment, he responded within five minutes….

Melanie StormmEmails From Lake Woe-Is-Me: Links To Every Installment

Stormm began her humorous series about the misdirected emails she gets from Writer X in August and has done 17 regular and two bonus installments. It swirls together comedy, horror, and the pitfalls of being a writer.

Robin A. ReidWriting Against the Grain: T. Kingfisher’s Feminist Mythopoeic Fantasy

The purpose of this presentation is to place Tolkien’s theory of mythopoeic fiction in dialogue with fantasy series by T. Kingfisher in order to argue that her work is feminist and mythopoeic. While there are a number of elements of Kingfisher’s fiction that are relevant to my purpose, I’ll be focusing on two: her version of Faërie and system of magic, and her portrayal of female characters whose relationships are with failed warrior heroes….

Brian Z.A Modest Proposal for the Very Retro Hugo for Genre-Related Work

The talk of time capsules and 1000-year M-discs in the Pixel Scroll 8/12/21 discussion of item (16), the Louis XIII Cognac 100-year sci-fi film vault, got me thinking that Worldcon should do Hugos for Best Genre-related Work Created 1000, 2000, 3000, 4000, 10,000, 20,000, 30,000 and 40,000 years ago….

Sultana RazaHergé’s Multi-Layered Worlds

… Considered to be a genius by many, not only was Hergé skilled at drawing, he was also good at fascinating his readers with mysteries, and intriguing situations. For example, why was Prof. Calculus going into the heart of a volcano, following the agitated movements of his pendulum, instead of running away, like all the others? Perhaps he was so oblivious to his real surroundings, and was so desperate to find the cause of the wild swinging of his pendulum for the sake of science, that inadvertently, he was willing to risk his very life. Or was he running away from mundane reality? And why did Tintin rush back to save his friend from going deeper in the maze of the mountain? Possibly because that was Tintin’s nature, to rescue not just the innocent people of the world, but it also showed his deep friendship with the absent-minded professor….

Robert RepinoConsequences as an Engine of Storytelling: A Guest Post by Robert Repino

…After watching [John Wick: Chapter 3], my friends and I got some drinks at a nearby bar. There, I found myself repeating a single word from the movie: “Consequences.” Wick utters this word whenever one of the characters points out that his past may have finally caught up with him. Since I like to drive jokes into the ground, I began to say “Consequences” in response to everything that night, in a poor imitation of Wick’s scratchy voice. Why did we need to buy another round? “Consequences.” Why should someone else pick up the tab? “Consequences.” And maybe I should call out sick tomorrow? “Consequences.”…

Mike GlyerHallmark Rolls Out 2021 Ornaments

Right after the Fourth of July might not be when I shop for Christmas ornaments, but somebody does, because that’s when Hallmark runs its Keepsake Ornament Premiere.

If the timing is for the convenience of retailers, there is also a certain logic in picking a spot on the calendar that is as far away as you can get from a date associated with Christmas trees. It’s plain some of these ornaments are intended for a Halloween or Thanksgiving tree, while others probably are destined never to decorate a tree at all but to remain pristine in their original wrapping on collectors’ shelves….

Craig MillerPreview of the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures

In, I believe, 1927, the Academy of Motion Pictures was founded.

In 1929, they decided there should be a museum of motion picture history and memorabilia.

In three days, a little shy of a hundred years later, the Academy Museum will open to the public….

Martin Morse WoosterReview: Museum of the Bible

Continuing my reports on museums that might be of interest to Filers coming to Washington for DisCon III, I offer a report on the Museum of the Bible, which I visited recently.  (I had a Groupon!)…

Glenn HaumanOh, The Place We Boldly Stop.

The Dr. Seuss Enterprises lawsuit against us is finally over….

Esther MacCallum-StewartCOP26 and Glasgow in 2024

… COP26 has produced an enormous impact on Glasgow….

Sultana RazaFan or Spy?

… I couldn’t help thinking of the passage from The Lord of the Rings, where the Crebain go searching for the Fellowship. In fact, there are many birds as spies in fantasy fiction, such as the Three-Eyed Raven, the, One-eyed Crow, or Varamyr Sixskins warging into an eagle in A Song of Ice and Fire, to mention a few…. 

Mike GlyerShould the Best Series Hugo Category Be Kept?

The Best Series Hugo category was added to the WSFS Constitution in 2017 with a sunset clause requiring a future re-ratification vote to remain part of the Worldcon Constitution. That vote happens next week at the DisCon III Business Meeting. If you were there, would you vote yes or no on keeping the category?

Shana WorthenTwas the Night Before DisCon III

Then down the long hall there arose so much chat,
that I sprang from my chair to see what was that?
Through archways, past plant pots, I slipped through the throng
as the loud murmuration came strolling along.

Colin HarrisThe World in Worldcon

… In reality, China is a huge country with a vast population and an expanding middle class; an enormous SF field and well established fandom. Chengdu is an established international convention site as well as a centre for science and technology.

I rather suspect that from the Chengdu bid’s viewpoint, the US-centric history of Worldcon is at odds with the very name of the event and its claim to be the leading global celebration of the genre. I do not need to believe there is anything suspicious about the bid, because it only needs a tiny percentage of Chinese fans to get behind it to make it a success….

Sultana Raza (and others)International Interactions with Tolkien – A Roundtable

Though Tolkien’s novels were very successful in the last century, after the Peter Jackson trilogy in the early 2000s, their reach increased to encompass the globe. Irrespective of geographical or linguistic differences, they spoke to us in different ways. In an informal Discussion Group at Oxonmoot 2021, (held online), participants were welcome to share their thoughts/reactions/ take on various aspects of Tolkien’s works, mainly his Legendarium….

Mike GlyerThe Twenty Percent Solution: A Self-Published Science Fiction Competition Judge’s Upvotes

… Based on reading 20% of Team File 770’s assigned books, I found there are actually 12 I’d say yes to – so I am going to need to cut two more before I finalize this list….

TRIGGER SNOWFLAKE

The saga of Sheriff Trigger Snowflake, the lovely Coraline, and the shenanigans of the Solarian Poets Society added several chapters this year that were not so much ripped-from-the-headlines as amused by the news.

Ingvar Trigger Snowflake and the Election

… Trigger put his cup down, as he saw Coraline wave a paper in the air.

“Trigger!” she said, “Look at this! Look who’s standing for president!”

IngvarTrigger Snowflake and the Dessert

A few days later, down at the Coffee Emporium, Trigger was having breakfast. A nice cup of Bean of the Day and a grilled synthecheese. As he finished the last bite of the synthecheese, Barbara Dimatis walked up to his table.

“Sheriff Snowflake, may I sit?”

“Why, sure, Ms Dimatis. What troubles you?”

“You’ve heard of Bistro Futuristo? Well, turns out that the editor and owner of Futuristo Magazine has made an announcement.”…

Ingvar Trigger Snowflake and the Grand Reopening

“Sheriff! Sheriff! Have you heard?”

“No, Ms Dimatis, I don’t believe I have?”

“The Bistro has re-opened!”

“Bistro Futuristo?”

INTERVIEWS

Brandon Sanderson WFC 2020 Interview Highlights – Conducted by David Doering

Far Sector Round Table with N.K. Jemisin – Conducted by James Bacon and others

CHRIS BARKLEY

ConStellation Hat. Photo by Craig Glassner/Pinterest/Hat of the Day

… Needless to say, I have witnessed or participated in a number of remarkable, bizarre and historic incidents during my tenure working at Worldcons. I not only know how the sausage was made, I helped make it as well….

… Before I reveal my BDP Hugo Nomination Ballot choices, let’s contemplate these ten outstanding films from 2020…

So forget about what the naysayers are saying; Zack Snyder’s Justice League is a big, exciting, sprawling, violent, intense, profane, beautiful and ultimately moving film.

DECLASSIFIED! Seven Secret and Untold Stories From the Worldcon Press Office

CONVENTION REPORTS

Commemorative button.

CHRIS BARKLEY’S DISCON III REPORTS

Ride along with Chris at this year’s Worldcon, everywhere from major events to favorite restaurants.

JAMES BACON

In addition to reviewing comics and graphic novels, James used his camera and descriptive abilities to take us along on visits to all kinds of fascinating exhibits and pop culture events.

CATS SLEEP ON SFF

OBITUARIES

[date of publication]

Pixel Scroll 12/6/21 A Pixel Is About The Most Massively Useful Thing An Interscroller Hitchfiler Can Have

(1) SPECTRUM FANTASTIC ART QUARTERLY. Cathy and Arnie Fenner have finished the first volume: “Spectrum Fantastic Art Quarterly *Update*” at Muddy Colors. It will be released December 20. Meantime, Arnie explains they are still at work on changes to the Spectrum competition and annual:

Remember awhile back when I mentioned that Cathy and I were planning to do a quarterly Spectrum bookazine? Guess what: the first volume is done. And what do I mean by “bookazine?” Well, I guess it’s something of a marriage of design, editorial, and graphics in a format that reads like a magazine but sits happily with the books on your shelf. It’s not exactly a new concept: if you hop in the way-back machine and take a look at Herb Lubalin’s Avant Garde or at Ralph Ginzburg’s hardcover Eros (which was also designed by Lubalin) you’ll see just how neat the idea is.

So while we’ve been figuring out all the minutia that goes into reorganizing the Spectrum competition and annual (and, lemme tell you, there are some cool discussions going on…if we can only figure out the logistics) and preparing to open #28 for entries, we put our heads together with some friends and decided to create the Spectrum Fantastic Art Quarterly to stay engaged with the community while the competition/book gets rebuilt—and have some fun in the process. And “fun” is the key word here: as we mention in the introduction to Vol 1, it’s sort of a throw-back to my days publishing fanzines (or “semiprozines” or “boutique magazines” or whatever you want to call them), that are produced out of love with making a buck, though important, secondary. SFAQ is a 12?x12?, perfect-bound, full-color softcover; it’s about and for fantastic artists of all sensibilities—and that includes illustrators, gallery painters, sculptors, art directors, calligraphers, comics artists, and more—and for everyone interested in the people and history of our field. Is it perfect? Nope. Did we probably make some dumb mistakes or let some typos slip by us? Undoubtedly. But it was most certainly fun to put together and we’ve got all kinds of ideas for features and designs percolating in our noggins—all ideas that work better for a “bookazine” rather than a traditional magazine or book, if you know what I mean. If it works, it works; if it doesn’t, we’ll at least have had a good time trying.

Anyway, Spectrum Fantastic Art Quarterly Vol. 1 will be released (according to the printer) December 20th—yes, this year. Merry Christmas! If you’re interested, here’s where you can order your copy. It’ll probably still be a week or so before they have them listed, but…you heard it here first.

STUART NG BOOKS https://stuartngbooks.com / https://www.facebook.com/stuart.ng.73

BUD PLANT’S ART BOOKS – https://www.budsartbooks.com / https://www.facebook.com/budsartbooks

(2) WINNIPEG IN 2023 WORLDCON BID QUESTIONNAIRE. Jannie Shea reports that Winnipeg in 2023’s response to the Smofcon questionnaire is posted at the bid’s website: “Fannish Question Time_Smofcon – Winnipeg 2023 Worldcon Bid”.

Several of the bid committee also practiced in an informal Q&A session on their YouTube channel earlier this year. The raw unedited session, held back in July, can be viewed here.

(3) FREE READ. Issue 4 of Whetstone: Amateur Magazine of Pulp Sword and Sorcery (which actually is a semiprozine according to Hugo rules) is out: Cora Buhlert says, “Good modern sword and sorcery fiction and it’s free, too.”

(4) TURNAROUND. Neon Hemlock Press launched a Kickstarter to fund the anthology Luminiscent Machinations: Queer Tales of Monumental Invention edited by Rhiannon Rasmussen and dave ring, “a speculative anthology exploring the limits of machinery, the fragility and power of queer bodies, and mecha in all their forms.” Social media controversy has arisen because one of the contributors to the anthology is Neon Yang, who criticized Isabel Fall’s “Helicopter Story” (originally titled “I Sexually Identify as an Attack Helicopter.”) Some defenders of Isabel Fall are condemning Yang’s promotion of their own queer mech story.

Emily VanDer Werff’s Vox article “How Twitter can ruin a life: Isabel Fall’s complicated story” published in summer 2021 refreshed memories about Neon Yang’s stance on Twitter 18 months earlier when “I Sexually Identify as an Attack Helicopter” first appeared:

“When the story was first published, we knew nothing about Isabel Fall’s identity, and there was a smattering of strange behavior around the comments and who was linking to it that led people to suspect right-wing trolls were involved in this,” says science fiction author Neon Yang. They were publicly critical of the story on Twitter…. 

Publisher Neon Hemlock has made this statement:

Meanwhile, Neon Yang’s Twitter account is labeled “temporarily restricted” with a message that says, “You’re seeing this warning because there has been some unusual activity from this account. Do you still want to view it?” although one can still click through the warning and access it.

Doris V. Sutherland’s post “On Neon Yang’s Toxic Reputation” reviews the original 2020 controversy in some detail, searching for an explanation why Yang is experiencing this backlash:

…Yet, despite the flimsiness of the accusation, Neon Yang retains a reputation as the person who did the most to bring down Isabel Fall. As far as I can tell, the misconception can be traced back to the aforementioned Vox article, in which Yang is the only person quoted as justifying the backlash against the story. Nowhere does the article state, or even imply, that Yang was the main aggressor; yet nonetheless, it seems to have established Yang as the face of the anti-Fall movement….

Those that live by the censor’s scissors are liable to end up being snipped at themselves. There is, perhaps, a degree of karma in a person who rolled along with the erasure of Isabel Fall’s story — simply because it made some of the readers uncomfortable — being placed in a position where their own presence in an anthology is deemed uncomfortable, to the extent where at least one collaborator has decided to pull out….

(5) ALL HAIL. AudioFile Magazine’s latest “Behind the Mic Podcast” interviews Ray Porter, who narrated the Project Hail Mary audiobook.

Narrator Ray Porter joins AudioFile’s Michele Cobb to tell listeners about his experience narrating PROJECT HAIL MARY, Andy Weir’s newest sci-fi bestseller. PROJECT HAIL MARY is one of AudioFile’s 2021 Best Science Fiction & Fantasy Audiobooks, and it’s a thrilling interstellar adventure. Ray gives Michele an inside glimpse into preparing the many voices deployed in this space opera and tells her what has stayed with him about bringing it to life. Read the full review of the audiobook at audiofilemagazine.com. Published by Audible, Inc. Curious listeners can take a peek into Ray’s recording studio in his narrator video on PROJECT HAIL MARY.

(6) OUT OF THE PAN AND INTO THE… Cora Buhlert’s review of the latest (in 1966) Space Patrol Orion episode is up at Galactic Journey“[December 6, 1966] Welcome to the Space Prison: Space Patrol Orion, Episode 6: ‘The Space Trap’”

The episode starts with Commander Cliff Alister McLane (Dietmar Schönherr) receiving his latest orders from General Wamsler (Benno Sterzenbach). It’s yet another routine mission (and we all know how well those tend to go for the Orion 8): Collect space dust in order to investigate the panspermia theory, which causes Wamsler’s aide Spring-Brauner (Thomas Reiner) to drone on and on about the panspermia theory, i.e. the theory that life did not originate on Earth, but is distributed through the universe via spores hitching a ride with space dust, asteroids, meteorites, etc… The theory is the brainchild of Swedish scientist Svante Arrhenius, who also developed the theory of a global greenhouse caused by industrial carbon dioxide emissions, which played a role in the Orion episode “The Battle for the Sun”. One of the writers is apparently a fan….

(7) KGB SCHEDULE CHANGE. Fantastic Fiction at KGB reading series in New York has changed the lineup for their December 15 event.

This month, Mercurio D. Rivera will be reading with David Leo Rice. N.K. Jemisin will be reading for them in February.

David Leo Rice’s info was part of the original announcement. The brief bio for Mercurio D. Rivera follows.

Mercurio D. Rivera

Mercurio D. Rivera’s short fiction has been nominated for the World Fantasy Award and has won the annual readers’ award for Asimov’s and Interzone magazines, respectively. His work has also appeared in venues such as Analog, Lightspeed, io9, Nature, Black Static, and numerous anthologies and Year’s Best collections.

His new novel Wergen: The Alien Love War tells stories of unrequited love set against the backdrop of humanity’s complicated relationship with enigmatic aliens afflicted with a biochemical infatuation for humanity. His story “Beyond the Tattered Veil of Stars,” was recently podcast by Dust Studios, and features Gillian Jacobs (Community) and Justin Kirk (Weeds). 

The readings are Wednesday, December 15 starting at 7:00 p.m. Eastern in the KGB Bar. (Address at the link.)

(8) GHOSTS OF CHRISTMAS PRESENT. A month ago the Scroll linked to NPR’s coverage of the Maryland Renaissance Faire (item #16). Red Barn Productions and Kevin Patterson also run the “Great Dickens Christmas Fair” in the Bay Area of California, similar to a Ren Faire but with a theme of Christmas in Charles Dickens’s time.  They are getting pushback from attendees and participants for what is said to be failure to provide a safe space for marginalized people: “’Not a safe space’: Black cast members boycott Dickens Christmas Fair over failure to prevent racist, sexist behavior” in the San Francisco Chronicle.

… “I met some of my greatest friends at the Dickens Fair,” says Tooles, who went on to join the event’s volunteer cast, taking on bigger roles and more responsibility each year. 

Her history with the tight-knit fair community is what makes the past two years so heartbreaking for Tooles, who is one of a small number of Black cast members at the Great Dickens Christmas Fair. What started as a goodwill effort to help rectify what is seen as the event’s failure to protect its volunteers and guests from racist and sexist behavior has turned ugly. Now, more than 200 cast members and thousands of guests have pledged to boycott this year’s fair, which is set to return to the Cow Palace on Saturday, Dec. 4, in a scaled-down, drive-through experience for the next three weekends. 

“I want people to recognize what their values are and decide if the Dickens Fair aligns with them,” says Tooles, founder of an affinity group for the fair’s Black performers called Londoners of the African Diaspora, or LoAD…. 

There’s a related petition at Change.org, “End Racism and Injustice at The Great Dickens Christmas Fair”.

(9) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

1979 [Item by Cat Eldridge.] Forty-two years ago on this date, Star Trek: The Motion Picture had an exclusive premiere in Washington, D.C. It is directed by Robert Wise from the screenplay by Harold Livingston which in turn is based on the story by Alan Dean Foster and I’m surprised he didn’t novelize it. You know who was in the movie so I won’t detail the cast here. Reception was decidedly mixed though Roger Ebert called it “a good time”. The box office was exceedingly good as it made one hundred forty million against forty million in production costs. Audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes currently give it a so-so rating of just forty-two percent. It was nominated for a Hugo at Noreascon Two, the year that Alien was chosen as the Best Film. 

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born December 6, 1893Sylvia Townsend Warner. Do yourself a favor and look up a bio of her as she’s a fascinating person. This site is a good place to do that. Her first novel, Lolly Willowes or, The Loving Huntsman, is definitely genre. ISFDB lists four genre collections by her, but Kingdoms of Elfin and Lolly Willowes are available on the usual suspects. (Died 1973.)
  • Born December 6, 1911Ejler Jakobsson, Finnish-born Editor who worked on Astonishing Stories and Super Science Stories butbriefly as they were shut down due to paper shortages. When Super Science Stories was revived in 1949, Jakobsson was named editor until it ceased publication two years later. Twenty years later, he took over Galaxy and If, succeeding Frederik Pohl.  His first credited publications were The Octopus and The Scorpion in 1939, co-edited with his wife, Edith Jakobsson. (Died 1984.)
  • Born December 6, 1918William P. McGivern. Once in a while, I run across an author I’ve never heard of. So it is with McGivern. He was a prolific writer of SFF stories for twenty years starting from the early Forties. ISFDB only lists one genre novel by him, The Seeing, that he wrote with his wife Maureen McGivern. The digital has been good for him with the usual suspects having pretty much everything by him that he did except oddly enough the long out of print The Seeing. (Died 1982.)
  • Born December 6, 1923Wally Cox. Ok, who can resist the voice of the Underdog series which ran from 1964 to1967? I certainly can’t. He was in Babes in ToylandThe Twilight ZoneMission: Impossible, Lost in SpaceGet SmartThe Girl from U.N.C.L.E.QuarantinedNight Gallery and Once Upon a Mattress. (Died 1974.)
  • Born December 6, 1953Tom Hulce, 68. Oscar-nominated screen and stage actor and producer. His first genre role was in a highly-praised performance as the lead in the American Playhouse broadcast of The Rise and Rise of Daniel Rocket, about a young boy who discovers that he can fly. Although the bulk of his career has been in the theater, his most notable genre film role was as Henry Clerval in Kenneth Branagh’s Saturn-nominated Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. He was nominated for an Annie Award for his voice performance of Quasimodo in Disney’s The Hunchback of Notre Dame, and appeared in the films Stranger than Fiction and Jumper.
  • Born December 6, 1957Arabella Weir, 64. A performer with two Who appearances, the first being as Billis in “The Doctor, the Widow and the Wardrobe”, a superb Eleventh Doctor story, before being The Doctor Herself in “Exile”, a Big Audio production. She’s had one-offs on genre and genre adjacent series such as Shades of DarknessGenie in the HouseRandall & Hopkirk (Deceased) and even a genre adjacent Midsomer Murders
  • Born December 6, 1962Colin Salmon, 59. Definitely best known for his role as Charles Robinson in the Bond films Tomorrow Never DiesThe World Is Not Enough and Die Another Day. He played Dr. Moon in “Silence in the Library” and “Forest of the Dead”, Tenth Doctor stories, and was Walter Steele on Arrow. He most recently played General Zod on Krypton He was, alas, Ben in that clunker of films, Mortal Engines.
  • Born December 6, 1969Torri Higginson, 52. I had forgotten that she had a role in the TekWar movies and series as Beth Kittridge. I like that series a lot. Of course, she portrayed Dr. Elizabeth Weir in one episode of Stargate SG-1 and the entire Stargate Atlantis series. Her most recent genre roles was as Dr. Michelle Kessler in Inhuman Condition, where she plays a therapist who focuses on supernatural patients, and Commander Delaney Truffault in the Dark Matter series. 

(11) FOOTS THE BILL. [Item by Olav Rokne.] Turns out Aziraphale might be a bit of an Angel in real life too … “Michael Sheen turns himself into a ‘not-for-profit’ actor” reports BBC News.

…Speaking to The Big Issue, Sheen described how he stepped in to bankroll the Homeless World Cup when funding for the £2m project fell through at the last moment.

“I had committed to helping to organise that and then suddenly, with not long to go, there was no money,” he said.

“I had to make a decision – I could walk away from it and it wouldn’t happen.

“I thought, I’m not going to let that happen. So, I put all my money into keeping it going.

“I had a house in America and a house here and I put those up and just did whatever it took.

“It was scary and incredibly stressful. I’ll be paying for it for a long time.

“But when I came out the other side, I realised I could do this kind of thing and, if I can keep earning money, it’s not going to ruin me.”

(12) GREYSKULL SESSION. [Item by Cora Buhlert.] On my own blog, I wrote a lengthy rumination of Masters of the Universe: Revelation, which does some really interesting things and was so much better than a sequel to a cartoon designed to sell toys has any right to be: “The Power of Greyskull – Some Reflections on Part 2 of Masters of the Universe: Revelation” This one will go on my Hugo ballot, which I for one did not expect at all.

 The second half of Masters of the Universe: Revelation, Kevin Smith’s continuation of the original cartoon from the 1980s, just became available and I opted to watch that over the new Hawkeye show (which I will watch eventually) and Star Trek Discovery (which is apparently available in Europe now, though I still haven’t figured out how), because I enjoyed the first half a lot more than I expected. Besides, part 1 ended on one hell of a cliffhanger, so of course I wanted to know how Teela, Andra, Duncan and the rest of gang are going to get out of that one….

(13) RECOMMENDED KICKSTARTERS. Cora Buhlert also sent links to a pair of Kickstarters worthy of attention: 

Changa and the Jade Obelisk 2, a sword and soul comic, is looking for funding: “Changa and the Jade Obelisk #2 by 133art Publishing”

 Changa #2 Cover by: Matteo Illuminati and Loris Ravina

Blazing Blade of Frankenstein 1, a comic featuring Frankenstein’s monster as a wandering sword and sorcery hero, is also looking for funding. I had never heard of these people before, but the concept is simply too cool to ignore: “Blazing Blade of Frankenstein #1 by FRIED Comics”.

(14) THE CLASS OF 2021. The New York Times is there when “NASA Introduces Class of 10 New Astronaut Candidates”. Their names: Nichole Ayers, Christopher Williams, Luke Delaney, Jessica Wittner, Anil Menon, Marcos Berríos, Jack Hathaway, Christina Birch, Deniz Burnham and Andre Douglas.

NASA on Monday inaugurated 10 new astronaut candidates who could walk on the moon within the next decade, or carry out research on the International Space Station.

The new astronaut candidate class is NASA’s 23rd since 1959, when seven astronauts were picked by the military for Project Mercury, the first American human spaceflight program. The latest astronaut candidate group comes as NASA prepares for its most daunting challenges in space since Americans landed on the moon during the Apollo program of the 1960s and ’70s. The agency’s growing focus is on Artemis, its program to return astronauts to the moon….

(15) BUT NOT ROCK CANDY. BBC News reports “Stonehenge builders had a sweet tooth, artefacts suggest”.

The builders of Stonehenge ate sweet treats including foraged fruit and nuts, English Heritage has revealed.

Previously it was thought they had consumed pork, beef and dairy.

But excavations of the Durrington Walls settlement, inhabited by the builders of the monument in about 2,500 BC, suggest they collected and cooked hazelnuts, sloes and crab apples too.

Researchers said evidence of charred plant remains suggest they might have followed recipes to preserve the food….

[Thanks to Andrew Porter, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, Cora Buhlert, Meredith, Bill, Olav Rokne, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Jayn. Update: The excerpts of Doris V. Sutherland’s comments were added a couple hours after the Scroll was posted.]

Pixel Scroll 12/3/21 Galaxies In My Trousers Like A Scroll In My Pixel!

(1) INTRUDER ALERT. A week ago, Canadian sff writer Candas Jane Dorsey came home and discovered a break-in in progress. The police were called. All of what happened next is in this Facebook post.

Last Thursday we had a lovely dinner out with our friend Jane B., and came home to do some more work, and just as I was getting ready for bed I heard some thumping and then the alarm went off, saying there was an issue in the basement. Timothy went outside to look through the windows and there was indeed an intruder, who turned and pointed something black at him. Was it a gun? In Canada, that’s not common, though the police have been finding more guns among the criminals in town, so… Anyway, it looked like maybe…

Police were already being called, but adding the words “he might have a gun” rather sharpened the response time–and the scale of the response. Soon we were waiting up on the second floor while SWAT tactical vehicles and people with guns (I was going to say “guys with guns” but there was no way of knowing if they were guy-guys or generic-guys so I’m going with people, or police officers) and Colt Carbines and other people in squad cars and other people in unmarked white SUVs blocked streets and surrounded our house, and the police helicopter looked down on us with infrared scopes, and it was Uncle Tom Cobbley and all around here for the next nine hours, as the intruder hunkered down and refused to come out….

(2) DIAGRAM PRIZE WINNER. The Guardian reports Is Superman Circumcised? wins oddest book title of the year award”

The Diagram prize, which is run by The Bookseller magazine and voted for by the public, pitted six titles against each other this year, from Curves for the Mathematically Curious to Hats: A Very Unnatural History. Despite competition from second-placed The Life Cycle of Russian Things: From Fish Guts to Fabergé, Is Superman Circumcised? took 51% of the public vote to win the award. More than 11,000 people cast a vote in this year’s competition.

The title, which follows in the footsteps of former winners including How to Avoid Huge Ships and The Big Book of Lesbian Horse Stories, sees author Roy Schwartz explore the creation of the “Mensch of Steel” by Jewish immigrants Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster. Schwartz argues that Superman’s origin story is based “on Moses, his strength on Samson, his mission on the golem, and his nebbish secret identity on themselves”, and that Krypton’s society is based on Jewish culture.

(3) FIVE BEST. Adam Roberts picks “Five of the best science fiction and fantasy books of 2021” in the Guardian. First on the list:

Far from the Light of Heaven
by Tade Thompson (Orbit)
Space is vast but spaceships are by nature claustrophobic: Thompson plays cannily on that contrast. Passengers aboard the starship Ragtime are in suspended animation on their way to the distant planet Bloodroot, but 30 people have been murdered in their sleep. Thompson’s tale is cleverly plotted and tensely told as the investigating captain must work against her own crew, bio-contagion, violent robots and a demonic AI to uncover the murderer’s identity. The book does more than the description “locked-room mystery in space” suggests: not only wrong-footing the reader as its mystery unfolds, but creating a series of believable, compelling worlds with some genuinely alien aliens.

(4) BEAR MEDICAL UPDATE. Elizabeth Bear posted a public “cancer stuff update” on her Livejournal.

Just wanted to check in and let you all know that things are finally moving again here. I got some good news on Monday, which is to say that my oncotype came back and there’s no indication that chemo will reduce the chances of a recurrence, so I am off the hook for that (and enormously relieved, honestly). And the Infamous Seroma has healed enough that unless there’s some kind of additional complication, I will FINALLY be having my radiation setup, CT, and simulation on Monday morning….

(5) PRIME TIME FOR KIWI SFF. The Aotearoa New Zealand Festival of the Arts, happening in Wellington next February/March, has numerous items of genre interest. SFFANZ News compiled this list of links:  

(6) NFT ABUSE OVERWHELMS ARTISTS. Artists are burdened by having to generate DMCA takedown notices to keep their work from being thieved by NFT creators.

(7) ASIMOV RARITIES. Heritage Auctions has a set of the Gnome Press edition of the Foundation Trilogy on the block right now (Lot #45145). These books were published in 1951-1953. The bidding is up to $6,250.

(8) FIRST FANDOM ANNUAL 2021. Now available is the fanhistory tribute volume Remembering Erle M. Korshak (1923-2021) edited by John L. Coker III and Jon D. Swartz.

This is a tribute to legendary SF enthusiast Erle Melvin Korshak, remembered as a renowned book-seller, conventioneer, art collector and publisher. In several conversations, Erle recalls the early days of fandom, the first two worldcons, publishing articles in fanzines and the pulps, and some friends he made along the way. A new article about the history of Shasta Publishers is accompanied by Erle’s reflections on his days as a pioneering specialty press book publisher.

Other highlights include appreciations by several of Erle’s long-time friends, a gallery of First Fandom photos and an 8-page bibliography prepared by SF historian Christopher M. O’Brien.

60 pages, limited ed. (50 #’d copies) Laser printed on 28# quality paper Photographs and interior illustrations Gloss covers, 81?2 x 11, saddle-stitched. To order, send a check for $35 payable to John L. Coker III (includes packing, USPS Priority Mail, insurance, and tracking) to John at 4813 Lighthouse Road, Orlando, FL – 32808.

(9) ELIGIBILITY, YOU KNOW. Tor.com would not want you to overlook “All of Tor.com’s Original Short Fiction Published in 2021” which is linked from this post.

Since launching in 2008, Tor.com’s short fiction program has been producing touching, funny, and thought-provoking stories, and this year was no different! In 2021, we published 15 original short stories, another 15 novelettes, plus one novella. These ran the gamut from hard science fiction to epic fantasy, from horror to dystopia, from fairy tales to space opera. We’ve rounded them all up below…

(10) RETELLINGS CONSIDERED. In the Rite Gud podcast, Raquel S. Benedict contends a popular story form has some shortcomings: “#Girlboss: The Problem With ‘Feminist’ Fairytale Adaptations”.

We like folklore, and we like feminism. So why not combine them? A lot of writers do. Feminist retellings of old fairy tales are very popular. We have girlboss Cinderella starting her own business, rebellious Belle teaching girls to read in Beauty and the Beast, Snow White leading an army into battle. And why not? What’s wrong with updating folklore for a more enlightened age? We all like to see strong women kicking ass, don’t we?

But sometimes, despite our good intentions, these updates lose something in translation.

(11) MEMORY LANE.

2007 [Item by Cat Eldridge.] Fourteen years ago, The Demon Barber of Fleet Street premiered. It was directed by Tim Burton. It is an adaptation of Stephen Sondheim and Hugh Wheeler’s Tony Award-winning 1979 musical of the same name. In turn it is obviously based off of the Victorian Penny dreadful Sweeney Todd, the Demon Barber of Fleet Street. It starred Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham Carter, Alan Rickman, Timothy Spall and Sacha Baron Cohen. Critics really like it with the Christian Science Monitor saying “A considerable achievement even if, on balance, it’s more of a Tim Burton phantasmagoria than a Sondheim fantasia.” And the Independent declared that “Relentlessly morose and courageously just, Tim Burton’s “Sweeney Todd” is a maniacal near masterpiece.” It was a box office success making two hundred million on a budget of fifty million. And audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes currently give it a superb eighty-one percent. 

(12) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born December 3, 1918 Polly Freas. Fan and wife of SFF artist Frank Kelly Freas with whom she had three children; she was much loved in fandom. She and Kelly co-edited Wonderworks: Science Fiction and Fantasy Art by Michael Whalen, which was a Hugo finalist for Best Nonfiction Book. She was Guest of Honor at numerous conventions, and was given a Special Award by Southern Fandom. (Died 1987.)
  • Born December 3, 1922 Donald H. Tuck. Engineer, Writer, Editor, and Fan from Tasmania, Australia who discovered SF very young. By the time he was 18, he had co-edited three issues of the fanzine Profan, which included author bios and bibliographies. Considering the logistical difficulties of the time in terms of communication by snail mail – especially given the added difficulty due to WWII and the distance of Australia from the U.S. – his feat in amassing a huge collection, and a file of index cards with the details of hundreds of SFF works, was impressive. In 1954, he collected those index cards into A Handbook of Science Fiction and Fantasy, a 151-page bibliography of the field; in 1959 he released a greatly-expanded and updated version, at 396 pages. He was given a Worldcon Special Award for this work. He continued to refine this over the years, and in 1974 produced the first volume of The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction and Fantasy through 1968: Who’s Who, for surnames starting A to L, followed four years later by Volume 2, for M to Z, and was recognized for this work with a World Fantasy Special Award. The third volume, a bibliography to accompany the two-volume encyclopedia of authors, editors, and artists, won a Hugo Award. He was to be Guest of Honor at the first Australian Worldcon; when he couldn’t attend, a group of fans went to visit him at his home. In 1985, he was given Fandom’s Big Heart Award. (Died 2010.)
  • Born December 3, 1937 Morgan Llywelyn, 84. Writer and Equestrian born in the U.S. who, after missing out on the Olympic dressage team by a minuscule fraction of a percentage point, turned to researching her Irish roots, and began to write historical fantasy, fiction, and nonfiction based on Celtic history and traditions. After her husband’s untimely early death, she moved to Ireland and is now a citizen residing near Dublin. Her first genre novel, Lion of Ireland, was nominated for a Mythopoeic Award. Her short genre fiction has been published in the collection The Earth Is Made of Stardust.
  • Born December 3, 1949 Malcolm Edwards, 72. Writer, Editor, and Critic from England who is considered one of the field’s great editors. Early in his career, he joined the British Science Fiction Association, and served as editor of its journal Vector. He was extremely active in British fandom in the 60s and 70s, producing several fanzines, and was one of the co-founders of the semiprozine Interzone. In the 80s, he co-wrote several SFF nonfiction reference works. His work has influenced many fans’ reading: as SF editor for Gollancz, he launched the SF Masterworks series. He was Deputy CEO of the Orion Publishing Group until 2019. Although he is best known as an editor, his short story “After-Images” won a British Science Fiction Award, and has been included in five different anthologies. He was Guest of Honor at Worldcon in London in 2014.
  • Born December 3, 1958 Terri Windling, 63. Author of The Wood Wife, winner of the Mythopoeic Award for Novel of the Year. She has deservedly won has won nine World Fantasy Awards, the Mythopoeic Fantasy Award, and the Bram Stoker Award. The Armless Maiden collection was on the short-list for the then-named James Tiptree, Jr. Award. Along with Ellen Datlow, Windling edited sixteen volumes of the Year’s Best Fantasy and Horror  from 1986–2003. (Yes, the first volume is actually called Year’s Best Fantasy. I do have a full set here so I know that.) She is one of the core creative forces behind the mythic fiction emergence that began in the early Eighties through her work as an editor for the Ace and Tor Books fantasy lines, and they also edited a number of anthologies such as the superb Snow White, Blood Red series which collected the very best in contemporary fantasy. These are available at the usual suspects at very reasonable prices. I’m very fond of her work with Illustrator Wendy Froud, wife of Brian Froud, on the Old Oak Wood series about faeries living in the Old Oak Wood.  She interviewed one of them, Sneezlewort Rootmuster Rowanberry Boggs the Seventh, for Green Man here.
  • Born December 3, 1960 Daryl Hannah, 61. She made her genre debut in Brian De Palma’s The Fury, though she’s better known as Pris in Blade Runner. And she was the mermaid Madison in Splash. In a decidedly unfashionable role, she was Ayala in The Clan of The Cave Bear before being Mary Plunkett Brogan in High Spirits where she was nominated for a Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Supporting Actress. Was she really that bad in it? Her last genre role I think was in the Sense8 series as Angelica Turing, though she had a cameo as herself in this year’s Cosmic Radio.
  • Born December 3, 1968 Brendan Fraser, 53. The Mummy and The Mummy Returns are enough to get him Birthday Honors. (Let’s not mention the third Mummy film.) Though he’s been in Monkeybone based on Kaja Blackley’s graphic novel Dark TownSinbad: Beyond the Veil of MistsLooney Tunes: Back in ActionJourney to the Center of the EarthG.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra and being Robotman on the Doom Patrol series that now airs on HBO Max.
  • Born December 3, 1985 Amanda Seyfried, 36. She play Ed Zoe, the lead Megan’s best friend in Solstice, a horror film. Another horror film, Jennifer’s Body, shortly thereafter, finds here playing Anita “Needy” Lesnicki. Red Riding Hood, yes, another horror film, had her cast has as Valerie. She plays Sylvia Weis, a role within In Time in a dystopian SF film next and voices Mary Katherine, Professor Bomba’s 17-year-old daughter in Epic which is at genre adjacent. She’s Mary in an animated Pan, a prequel to Peter Pan which sounds delightful. Lastly, she has a recurring role as Becky Burnett on Twin Peaks. And did we decide Veronica Mars was at least genre adjacent? If so, she has a recurring role as Mary on it. 

(13) COMICS SECTION.

  • Bizarro shows why you don’t let psychiatrists interview your favorite cartoon characters.

(14) KGB. Fantastic Fiction at KGB reading series hosts Ellen Datlow and Matthew Kressel present N.K. Jemisin and David Leo Rice at the KGB Bar on Wednesday, December 15 at 7:00 p.m. EDT. (Proof of COVID-19 vaccination is required to enter the KGB Bar. Face masks required when not seated.)

N. K. Jemisin

N. K. Jemisin is a New York Times-bestselling author of speculative fiction short stories and novels. In 2018, she became the first author to win three Best Novel Hugos in a row, for the Broken Earth trilogy, currently in film development. She has also won a Nebula Award, two Locus Awards, and is a recipient of the MacArthur “Genius” Fellowship.

David Leo Rice

David Leo Rice is an author from Northampton, MA, currently living in NYC. His books include A Room in Dodge City, A Room in Dodge City: Vol. 2, Angel House, and Drifter: Stories. His novels The New House and A Room in Dodge City: Vol. 3 are forthcoming in 2022. He currently teaches at Parsons School of Design and FIT.

(15) MIGHT NEED A SPIN DOCTOR. Fantasy Literature’s reviewer Bill Capossere finds the series all too familiar: “The Wheel of Time: The wheel spins a little too slowly”.

…The show also isn’t helped, at least early on, by its characterization or its dialogue. The younger main characters have been aged up (if I’m remembering correctly — it’s been a long time), mostly it seems so they can have (undepicted) sex, which seems an odd reason. Otherwise, they feel at this point bland, unformed, and indistinguishable beyond their stock type (roguish irresponsible one, brooding pining one, grieving simmering one, bitter angry one, etc.). Honestly, they look and feel like they could have accidentally walked off the set of any CW show and into this one while the cameras were rolling. The older characters, Moiraine and the “gleeman” Thom fare better as characters, but Moiraine is saddled with a lot of expository and/or portentous monologuing (and not in a good, fun way)….

(16) COVID FRONT LINES. “Violence Against Australian Booksellers” is Shelf Awareness’ report about an incident that occurred when employees tried to get customer compliance with local Covid rules.

In Australia, the Dymocks bookstore on Collins St. in the CBD in Melbourne has been forced to hire security guards “after employees were attacked by customers refusing to follow Victoria’s Covid-19 rules, with one worker being pushed down an escalator,” the Age reported. The store’s owners said the move would cost hundreds of dollars a day, but safety of staff was paramount. The incidents are being investigated by police.

“We, as small business owners never thought that making our staff do this Covid marshaling checking would result in this kind of violence,” co-owner Melissa Traverso said, adding that just hours before one employee was assaulted, another staff member had been slapped by a woman who refused to give her personal details. The Age noted that “later on Friday, a third worker was tackled by an angry customer who did not provide a valid proof of vaccination, but managed to steady himself and avoid falling down the escalator.”…

(17) RO-MAN. [Item by Ben Bird Person.] Artist/illustrator Jacob Paik did this piece based on the 1953 movie Robot Monster:

(18) IT’S A THEORY. “Returned asteroid samples suggest missing source of Earth’s water: the solar wind”Daily Kos tells why.

One puzzle about Earth’s formation is that our planet shouldn’t have nearly as much water as it does.  Asteroids that formed closer to the Sun, such as those in the inner asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, have very little water, while those that formed farther out have much more.  So that implies that Earth, which formed even closer to the Sun than those asteroids, started out pretty dry and must have gotten its water from some far-out source.  But what could that source be?

Much of Earth’s water could very well have come from carbonaceous chondrite meteorites, flung to Earth from asteroids that formed far from the Sun, out around Jupiter/Saturn and beyond.  Those weren’t exposed to much heat when they formed, and so their volatile components like water could stay put.  Carbonaceous chondrite meteorites can contain up to 20% water. 

It would take a whole lot of hits by these kinds of meteorites to produce our oceans, but even if we grant that possibility, when you take them as a whole, their water doesn’t quite match Earth’s water in one important way: it’s too heavy.

“Heavy” water is not H2O but rather D2O.  Its hydrogen atoms are replaced by deuterium atoms.  A hydrogen atom is simply a proton and an electron, but a deuterium atom is that plus a neutron, so it’s heavier. 

On Earth we’ve got water with about 150 parts per million deuterium, but the average for those asteroids is more like 190.  So we seem to be missing a significant source of lighter water to make all of this add up.

Enter the solar wind!…

[Thanks to Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Ben Bird Person, Olav Rokne, StephenfromOttawa, Daniel Dern, Andrew Porter, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, and Mike Kennedy for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Bonnie McDaniel.]

#DisneyMustPay Update and Reprints Alert

SFWA has distributed a new update from the #DisneyMustPay Task Force:


In April 2021, we let you know about a contract issue with Disney that affected multiple authors across different writer organizations. We’ve made some progress and a few authors have been paid. Unfortunately, we’ve also uncovered more concerning issues in the process. We still need your help to raise awareness of the #DisneyMustPay campaign, which has yet to be resolved.

Authors may still be missing royalty statements or checks across a wide range of properties in prose, comics, and graphic novels. As of today, our list is incomplete and only based on properties and/or publishers for which we have verified reports of ongoing issues. We have little doubt more creators are affected by this issue.

We have identified properties now owned by Disney where works are being reprinted by new domestic and foreign publishers without the author receiving notification, updated royalty statements, or payment. Disney acquired two media companies and all their properties. They and their properties include: 

  • Lucasfilm (Star WarsIndiana Jones, etc.)
  • 20th Century Fox (Buffy the Vampire SlayerAlienAVPPredatorFireflyAngel, etc.)

Previously published works for these properties are now being reprinted by Disney-owned publishers or their licensees. This list is by no means exhaustive. Publishers include:

  • Boom! Comics (Licensed comics including Buffy the Vampire Slayer, etc.)
  • Titan Publishing UK (Licensed novels including Alien/Predator)
  • Marvel WorldWide (SpiderManAlien/Predator)
  • Disney Worldwide Publishing (BuffyAngel)

We’ve also identified two sources of previously published materials from former licensees. We can confirm previously published works are being reprinted. 

  • Dark Horse Comics (Former licensee. Previously published tie-in comics, graphic novels, and novels including Buffy the Vampire SlayerAlienPredatorAVPStar Wars, etc.)
  • Byron Preiss/iBooks (Former licensee. Previously published tie-in novels including Marvel characters now owned/published by Disney)

If you are an affected author who has not been paid or are missing royalty statements, you have the right to ensure your contract(s) are honored. We urge all creators to review their statements regularly and recommend that affected creators fill out this form, hosted by SFWA. We guarantee anonymity.

Please note that you do not need an agent or membership in any professional organization to seek help from the task force. 

Additionally, only a handful of creators have been paid since our last update while several more have come forward. 

The Disney Must Pay Joint Task Force has attempted to create a cooperative relationship with Disney, but the corporation continues to refuse a partnership. 

Disney’s actions make it clear to us that they are picking and choosing which cases they want to resolve, while simultaneously attempting to isolate creators from receiving counsel from their professional organization. The Disney Must Pay Joint Task Force has observed a marked difference in treatment between agented and unagented creators, as well as high-profile and lesser-known individuals, and novelists and comics writers. 

Dark Horse Comics

As of today’s date, conversations are ongoing to ensure Dark Horse Comics creators will be paid for their licensed, reprinted comics, graphic novels, and/or novels post-acquisition. Royalties are owed and Disney must pay.

Further:

  • Dark Horse Comics was a licensee for Lucasfilm and 20th Century Fox, producing works for several properties now owned by Disney.
  • Case details show works originally published at Dark Horse were republished with Disney (Ballantine), Marvel (100% owned by Disney), Boom! Studios (Disney stake), and Titan Books (UK). 
  • Dark Horse Comics creators comprise over fifty percent of our reported cases as a source of previously published media that is being reprinted.
  • Dark Horse Comics does send royalty statements when requested.
  • We are unable to confirm whether or not artists, letterers, inkers, and other types of creators working on affected titles have been paid. To date, we haven’t received a report but this does not confirm payment.
  • No author we’re working with has received notification of their reprinted works. 

Despite Boom! Studios agreeing to work with us and sending us a list of affected creators, the status of the original cases is unchanged. To date, affected Boom! Studios creators have not been paid the royalties they are owed.

The task force has communicated with Disney in the past, but we have yet to bring these cases to a close. We continue to ask for simple, basic methods to honor contracts. Yet, our experiences have reinforced our belief their strategy is to be selective about who they assist.

Despite paying a few higher-profile authors, Disney is not willing to even put a FAQ on their website, much less work with the task force to identify authors and correct missing payments. Thus, we need your help to alert any creators who may be affected. If you know someone who may be affected, please share this email.

You can also show your support for this effort in a number of ways:

  • Use #DisneyMustPay on social media. We need your help to bring the task force’s simple demands to the attention of Disney’s decision-makers. Here are some sample tweets to share. Include a link to our growing task force’s website: WritersMustBePaid.org
      • #DisneyMustPay all creators what they’re owed. It shouldn’t matter how many fans they have. They held up their end of the contract, why can’t Disney?
      • #DisneyMustPay. That’s it. That’s the Tweet. 
      • #DisneyMustPay by honoring creators’ contracts for the properties they’ve purchased. Pay royalties owed, provide statements, notify when works are reprinted. A contract isn’t just a wish your heart makes.
      • #DisneyMustPay by creating an FAQ on their licensing page so all creators know how to ask for their missing royalties and/or statements. It’s not rocketeer science! It’s business basics.
      • #DisneyMustPay by establishing a point of contact for writers who have not been paid their back royalties for properties now owned by Disney. Make that contact and the process for claiming royalties transparent—these are the bare necessities.
      • #DisneyMustPay by working with creators’ organizations who can advocate for and support authors and their agents that may not feel secure enough to go it alone. It’s why we exist—let us help. You’ve got a friend in us.
      • #DisneyMustPay by notifying creators when their work is reprinted and paying them what they’re contractually owed. A new publication should be a point of pride, not of surprise. 
  • Visit WritersMustBePaid.org, the website set up by our growing task force, and share the link.

Because Disney has declined to cooperate with the task force in identifying affected authors, the Disney Task Force needs your help to contact everyone who might be affected. Unfortunately, this now extends to reprinted works for the properties listed.

Please help us spread the message widely that #DisneyMustPay.

Thank you,

Disney Must Pay Joint Task Force

The Task Force is comprised of the following associations, unions, and nonprofits that have pledged support and resources to help all affected creators: Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, Inc., (SFWA), the Authors Guild, Horror Writers Association (HWA), International Association of Media Tie-In Writers (IAMTW), International Thriller Writers (ITW), Mystery Writers of America (MWA), National Writers Union (NWU), Novelists, Inc. (NINC), Romance Writers of America (RWA), Sisters in Crime (SinC), Writers Guild of America West (WGA West), and Writers Guild of America, East (WGA East).


N. K. Jemisin tweeted an immediate reaction:

Pixel Scroll 11/9/21 She Walks These Files In A Long, Black Scroll

(1) THE INSIDE STORY. Slashfilm boasts an exclusive preview: “The History Of Science Fiction Traces The Genre In Comic Book Form”.

“The History of Science Fiction,” a forthcoming illustrated book written by author/historian Xavier Dollo (“Under the Shadow of the Stars”) with illustrations by Djibril Morissette-Phan (“All-New Wolverine”), aims to be a comprehensive look at the origins of the now-beloved genre, and we have a few preview pages to exclusively debut for you. Here’s a glimpse at what you’ll see in the new book when it hits stores later this month.

… Here’s the eleventh page of the book, which touches on the massive influence Arthur C. Clarke had on the genre – and subsequently, the real world.

Got to love that exchange – did you know as a young fan Arthur C. Clarke’s nickname was “Ego”?

(2) A STROKE OF (DRAGON) GENIUS. [Item by Soon Lee.] Painting dragons in one stroke? Impossible you say? Okay, how about painting the body of a dragon in one stroke?

Ippitsu Ryu or Hitofude Ryu is the Japanese technique of painting dragons in one-stroke. It’s mesmerizing to watch. And the paintings are supposed to bring good luck too. “The Traditional Japanese Art ‘Hitofude-Ryu’” at Cool Japan Videos.

(3) SCOTIABANK GILLER PRIZE. Omar El Akkad has won the 2021 Scotiabank Giller Prize for his non-genre novel What Strange Paradise. The win is noted here because El Akkad’s first novel was sff, American War.

He’ll receive $100,000 for the win. Four other shortlisted writers will receive $10,000, including Angélique Lalonde, whose story collection Glorious Frazzled Beings is of genre interest.

(4) SLF RECEIVES GRANT. The Speculative Literature Foundation has received a grant from the Illinois Arts Council Agency. SLF’s press release explained:

IACA General Operating Support Grants are offered to established not-for-profit organizations that make a significant local, regional, or statewide impact on the quality of life in Illinois. Grants recognize arts programming of high quality that is appropriate to and reflective of the communities served and that broaden opportunities for the public to participate in the arts. The $2,500 grant will allow the SLF to revitalize and expand to meet the needs of the speculative literature field in 2022.

The main objective of the SLF is to continue to grow newly established programs while maintaining our previous resources. We launched the Portolan Project in 2020, an online educational resource for writers that offers free, accessible content for people all over the world. Its first iteration includes interviews with authors at various points in their careers, discussing the art and business of craft as well as making connections within the speculative literature community

(5) THEY BROKE IT. SFF author Nick Mamatas also has “An Appreciation of Genre-Breaking Mysteries” which he shares at CrimeReads. There’s even a Philip K. Dick novel lurking on his list.

… Crime fiction is far more capacious than people who don’t read the genre give it credit for. The field of play is so wide that it is difficult to transcend the genre, but it is possible to break it. A relative handful of exciting books are mysteries, are entirely in sync with the protocols of the genre and, and then at some point all of it falls away and the book is something else. Of course, the book doesn’t become something other than a mystery or crime novel—the third act of any book exists before the reader gets to it—it is that the writer broke the tropes of mystery, and created something that feels very familiar until a page turns and then it isn’t.  Here are just a few examples….

(6) A VIEW OF SF IN CHINA. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In the November 6 Financial Times behind a paywall, Madhamita Murgia has an interview with Chen Qiufan.

Chen, who has worked in the marketing teams of Chinese search giant Baidu and Google, says the Chinese government has started promoting science fiction as a tool to popularise science and technology among youth, an idea borrowed from the former Soviet Union.

‘In recent years, China is undergoing a transition; we used to be a country with a lot of low-cost labour, old-fashioned manufacturing, but (now) the government is trying to catch up on chips and AI and material science and quantum computing,’ Chen says.  Science fiction has become a way to ‘educate the younger generation and ignite their passion’ for these fields.

(7) GRANDMASTER’S LATEST BOOK. Just named as the 2021 SFWA Grandmaster, Mercedes Lackey has a new fantasy novel out – Briarheart – “a fresh feminist retelling of Sleeping Beauty about one girl destined for greatness—and the powerful sister ready to protect her by any means necessary.”

Miriam may be the daughter of Queen Alethia of Tirendell, but she’s not a princess. She’s the child of Alethia and her previous husband, the King’s Champion, who died fighting for the king, and she has no ambitions to rule. When her new baby sister Aurora, heir to the throne, is born, she’s ecstatic. She adores the baby, who seems perfect in every way. But on the day of Aurora’s christening, an uninvited Dark Fae arrives, prepared to curse her, and Miriam discovers she possesses impossible power.

Soon, Miriam is charged with being trained in both magic and combat to act as chief protector to her sister. But shadowy threats are moving closer and closer to their kingdom, and Miriam’s dark power may not be enough to save everyone she loves, let alone herself.

Available on Kindle from Amazon.com or Amazon.ca.

(8) DEAN STOCKWELL OBIT. Actor Dean Stockwell, whose over 200 career credits include a couple dozen sff roles, died November 7 at the age of 85 reports Variety.

He was Quantum Leap’s, Admiral ‘Al’ Calavicci, the “womanizing, larger than life character [who] was the foil for Scott Bakula’s role as Dr. Sam Beckett, a physicist who engaged in space time experiments.” The show debuted in 1989 and ran five seasons. Stockwell’s performance earned four Primetime Emmy nominations and a Golden Globe win (1990).

Dean Stockwell started as a child actor, in films including the Rudyard Kipling adaptation Kim (1950). As an adult he had a dual role in a 1961 episode of Twilight Zone, “A Quality of Mercy,” in which he “starred an American officer ordered to lead a charge against the Japanese but is then transported back in time and transformed into a Japanese officer in an analogous situation, ultimately gaining a perspective he hadn’t had before.”

He starred in the Roger Corman-produced Lovecraftian horror film The Dunwich Horror (and also appeared in the 2009 TV remake). In David Lynch’s Dune (1984) he played the treacherous Dr. Yueh. In the new Battlestar Galactica (2006-09) he was the Cylon known as Number One or John Cavil.

He was an Oscar nominee for a non-genre supporting role in the 1988 comedy Married to the Mob. Stockwell was honored with a star on Hollywood’s Walk of Fame in 1992.

(9) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

1966 — Fifty-five years ago, Dr. Goldfoot And The Girl Bombs premiered. It was considered a sequel for reasons I can’t figure out to two unrelated films, Dr. Goldfoot and the Bikini Machine and Two Mafiosi Against Goldginger. It was actually paid for and produced with both Italian and American backing so it also has the charming name of Le spie vengono dal semifreddo, lit (The spies who came in from the cool).  It is getting a write-up here because it starred Vincent Price in the dual roles of Dr. Goldfoot and General Willis. And he’s oh-so-genre. 

The production itself was somewhat difficult as the filming had to satisfy both the American and Italian backers, so scenes had to shot in both countries, and it was required they emphasize brunettes in the Italian version of the film and blondes in the American version. Price had but a minor role In the Italian version, but was the star in the American version. He later said that the film was “the most dreadful movie I’ve ever been in. Just about everything that could go wrong, did.” 

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born November 9, 1924 Larry T. Shaw. A Hugo Award-winning fan, author, editor and literary agent. In the Forties and Fifties, Larry Shaw edited Nebula, Infinity Science Fiction and Science Fiction Adventures. He received a Special Committee Award during the 1984 Worldcon for lifetime achievement as an editor. His award at L.A. Con II cited him as “One of the early unsung editors in the field”. (Died 1985.)
  • Born November 9, 1938 Carol Carr. Fan and writer of note. Her participation in the so-called secret APA Lilapa and articles in the InnuendoLighthouse and Trap Door fanzines is notable. She wrote a handful of genre fiction, collected in Carol Carr: The Collected Writings. Mike has an obit here (Died 2021.)
  • Born November 9, 1947 Robert David Hall, 74. Best known as coroner Dr. Albert Robbins M.D. on CSI, but he has quite as few genre credits. He voiced Dinky Little in the animated Here Come the Littles, both the film and the series, the cyborg Recruiting Sargent in Starship Troopers,  voice of Colonel Sharp in the G.I. Joe series, Abraham in The Gene Generation, a biopunk film, and numerous voice roles in myriad DCU animated series. He was the voice of Colonel Sharp in the G.I. Joe series, Abraham in The Gene Generation, a biopunk film, and numerous voice roles in myriad DCU animated series. Interesting note: in Starship Troopers he has no right arm, but in real life he lost both of his legs at age thirty-one when they had to be amputated as a result of an accident in which an 18-wheeler truck crushed his car.  
  • Born November 9, 1954 Rob Hansen, 67. British fan, active since the Seventies who has edited and co-edited numerous fanzines including his debut production Epsilon. He was the 1984 Trans-Atlantic Fan Fund delegate. His nonfiction works such as Then: Science Fiction Fandom in the UK: 1930-1980, last updated just a few years ago, are invaluable. 
  • Born November 9, 1971 Jamie Bishop. The son of Michael Bishop, he was among those killed in the Virginia Tech shooting. He did the cover illustrations for a number of genre undertakings including Subterranean Online, Winter 2008 and Aberrant Dreams, #9 Autumn 2006. The annual “Jamie Bishop Memorial Award for an Essay Not in English” was established as a memorial by the International Association for the Fantastic in the Arts. (Died 2007.)
  • Born November 9, 1974 Ian Hallard, 47. He lives with his husband, the actor and screenwriter Mark Gatiss, in London. He appeared as Alan-a-Dale in Twelfth Doctor story, “Robot of Sherwood”, and in Sherlock as Mr Crayhill in “The Reichenbach Fall”.  He played Richard Martin, one of the original directors of Doctor Who in An Adventure in Space and Time. Genre adjacent, he co-wrote “The Big Four” with his husband for Agatha Christie: Poirot
  • Born November 9, 1988 Tahereh Mafi, 33. Iranian-American whose Furthermore is a YA novel about a pale girl living in a world of both color and magic of which she has neither; I highly recommend it. Whichwood is a companion novel to this work. She also has a young adult dystopian thriller series. 
  • Born November 9, 1989 Alix E Harrow, 32. May I note that her short story with one of the coolest titles ever, “Witch’s Guide to Escape: A Practical Compendium of Portal Fantasies”, won a Hugo at Dublin 2019. Well I will. And of course her latest novel, The Once and Future Witches, has a equally cool title. It won the BFA Robert Holdstock Award for Best Fantasy Novel. 

(11) COMICS SECTION.

  • Lio knows one product this particular home owner definitely doesn’t want.

(12) HISTORY OF BEANO. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In the Financial Times behind a paywall, Arwa Haider discusses an exhibit at Somerset House in London on The Beano, a comic book which has been published weekly in Britain since 1938.

The Beano was never pitched as explicitly political, though exceptions were made during the second world war, when strips would feature fascists being outwitted by kid characters including Pansy Potter, the Strongman’s Daughter. Pansy, introduced in issue 21, also heralded The Beano‘s strong and increasingly diverse tradition of female rebels, any of whom are now likely to be cover stars:  Minnie the Minx, created by Leo Baxendale in 1951 and currently drawn by the comic’s first regular female artist, Laura Howell, and relative newcomers such as sporty JJ, tech whizz and wheelchair user Rubi, and prank supremo Harsha Chandra.

As the exhibition highlights, The Beano has always made subversive digs at social inequalities.  The characters ‘ traditional reward of a ‘slap-up feed’ reflected the postwar scarcity of food (sweets were rationed in Britain until 1953).  Nowadays, the Bash Street Kids’ rival group is Posh Street (which includes one snorting, mop-haired character called Boris) and Dennis’s longtime adversary, Walter, is no longer a ‘softie’ but the bullish son of Beanotown’s rich mayor.  The ‘good guys’ are everyday kids rather than superheroes.

(13) GOING GREEN. [Item by Daniel Dern.] In addition to being available as a physical book to buy (or request/borrow from one’s public library), N.K.Jemisin’s 12-issue Far Sector Green Lantern series is e-available (e-vailable?), in particular, on Hoopla (includes a dozen or so pages at the end of variant covers, art sketches, etc.) [See James Bacon’s interview of N.K. Jemisin about her work on the comic, posted today.]

Hoopla is free — you just need to have a library card from a library that offers Hoopla as (one of its) digital services. (If your library doesn’t, you may be able to also get a card at one that does.)

Far Sector is also nearly-all available via DC’s streaming subscription service (1-11 are up now, so #12 hopefully Real Soon Now.)

Note, Jemisin’s Sojourner “Jo” Mullein also appears in DC’s new Green Lantern series, also including Teen Lantern Keli Quintela (first seen in Brian Bendis’ Young Justice run over the past year or so.

(14) BLAME JULIE SCHWARTZ? “DC Comics Used To Add Gorillas To Their Covers To Increase Sales”. We’re not kidding  – ScreenRant has the details.

… If there was an editor who became prolific for gimmicks, it was Julius Schwartz, and the gimmick of Strange Adventures #8 from May 1951 would prove to be one of the most successful and often used gimmicks in comic history. Strange Adventures (which was rebooted for DC’s Black Label in 2020) was originally edited by Schwartz, and the eighth issue featured a cover by Win Mortimer for the story “Evolution Plus: The Incredible Story of an Ape with a Human Brain!” which featured an ape in a cage holding a note claiming to be the victim of a “terrible scientific experiment.” This issue quickly became one of the highest selling issues of Strange Adventures to date….

(15) EARWORMS AND OTHERS. “Re-Ragging in Red: Murder Ballads and Dirty Cops” is Candas Jane Dorsey’s exploration of song lyrics at CrimeReads.

…[This] happened when a folklorist friend asked online what our favorite murder ballads were, and I realized that I knew SO MANY MURDER BALLADS REALLY SO MANY!

…But for some reason “King Brady” infested, earworm-style, for a whole week. One day when I should have been writing, I upped-fluffy-tail and dived down the Internet rabbit hole—and am still chasing phantasms down little twisty corridors.

*

I started with the lyrics. Everyone who has researched song lyrics online knows that they are full of errors. People write them down as they imperfectly heard them, then other people cut and paste, and suddenly the “canon” version of a ballad has a great big malapropism right in the middle of it, creating a cascading generation error that upsets purists and detail freaks, but also means that all over the world, people are singing the wrong lyrics to a lot of folk songs. Which is pretty hard to do when the prevailing wisdom of folklorists is that there are no wrong lyrics, there are just variations, but thanks to the magic of the Internet, it’s now possible.

But never mind that now. We’re at “Brady, Brady, Brady don’t you know you done wrong…”, which is how I learned the song, almost 60 years ago when I was a kid….

(16) RINGS MORE THAN A BELL. [Item by Rob Thornton.] I found a Black Metal band named VORGA and that name sounded very familiar, of course. So I looked at the track list and found a song named “Stars My Destination.” It’s from their album Striving Toward Oblivion which will be released in January.

(17) TWO CHAIRS TALKING. In the latest episode of their Two Chairs Talking podcast, David Grigg and Perry Middlemiss discuss a number of recent award winners and take the Hugo Time Machine zooming back to the year of 1967, the year Heinlein’s The Moon is a Harsh Mistress won the Best Novel Award.

(18) SOLD! In case you want to know, Screen Rant says “Captain Kirk’s Phaser Rifle Used In One Episode Sells For $615k” through Heritage Auctions.

The Phaser Rifle was used in the second pilot episode, entitled “Where No Man Has Gone Before,” which effectively launched the show as fans know it. And, because the episode was the first to replace Christopher Pike with James T. Kirk, the prop accompanied Shatner as he made his Star Trek debut.

(19) DON’T WANT TO RUN INTO ONE OF THOSE. “Rolls-Royce Gets Funding To Develop Mini Nuclear Reactors”Slashdot has the story.

Rolls-Royce has been backed by a consortium of private investors and the UK government to develop small nuclear reactors to generate cleaner energy. The creation of the Rolls-Royce Small Modular Reactor (SMR) business was announced following a [195 million pound] cash injection from private firms and a [210 million pound] grant from the government. It is hoped the new company could create up to 40,000 jobs by 2050. However, critics say the focus should be on renewable power, not new nuclear.

(20) BUILD YOUR OWN. Probably don’t want to collide with one of these, either. Not even the LEGO Star Wars AT-AT Model — it has 6,785 pieces!

…Extensive is certainly the best way to describe this set, as this intricate replica is made up of 6,785 pieces, falling about 800 bricks short of LEGO’s similarly complex Millennium Falcon. Nevertheless, that is an exhausting amount, all of which come together to construct a painstakingly detailed display that fans will inherently admire. As expected, the four-legged tank from the films boasts authenticity in every which way, featuring rotating cannons, a pair of speeder bikes, and a strikingly large interior that’s capable of housing up to 40 other LEGO minifigures you want to take along for the ride….

Damn, for a moment I thought they were going for a “few bricks shy of a load” reference.

(21) VIDEO OF THE DAY. In “Honest Trailers: Hackers” on YouTube, the Screen Junkies take on this 1995 film which was Angelina Jolie’s first.  The film shows such antique skills as getting calls from a pay phone for free. And half the characters are so clueless about computers that when someone mentions “an uncorrupted hard drive” they’re told, “speak In English.”  But being a hacker means you rollerblade everywhere and get to scream “hack the planet!” when you’re hacking!

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

Far Sector Round Table with N.K. Jemisin

By James Bacon: The collected edition of Far Sector is now available with a slew of wonderful extras including concept art and designs from Jamal and an introduction from Gerard Way. The Eisner Award nominated. These 12 comics were absolutely stunning. As previously mentioned (“James Bacon Reviews Far Sector”), Far Sector stands out so strongly, a fresh and genuinely brilliant comic. Nora K. Jemisin and Jamal Campbell have created a wonderful character in Sojourner Mullein, ‘Jo’ from Brooklyn, the world Jo has been requested by is utterly fascinating, a Dyson Swarm at the far reaches of the galaxy. While it is set in the DC Universe and our protagonist is a Green Lantern, the surrounding science fictional storytelling is utterly fabulous, and this is matched in very finely drawn panels, Campbell really utilizing every square inch of the pages to portray excitement and give a real sense of place. A unique, bewilderingly beautiful place inhabited by three distinct species. The crime spirals, the murderer becomes murdered, politics and relationships between  Jo and ‘The Trilogy’ the representatives of the three species twists and turns as we delve deeper into this astonishing new world.

Campbell’s artwork is vibrant and polished,  complementing with intricate backgrounds portraying fantastically this imaginative science fictional world, to nearly the design level of detail.  Jemisin knows her Green Lantern, that is for sure, this is an incredibly cracking good story, so neatly crafted and yet one always feels that there is such depth, the historical visual references, which readers may know, or may search for, the flashbacks, Jo watching on horrified as a victim is pistol whipped by her police partner, her life a real and difficult challenge that she has risen to, it is poignant and of the moment, and then here we have Guardians of the Peace turn emotionlessly on those they are meant to protect. One of the best comics you will read this year.

We were invited to a Far Sector roundtable interview with N.K. Jemisin. This was moderated by Brian Walton and also present were a number of other interviewers,  Anne Brennaman (@annecomics and https://anchor.fm/thecomicscollective), Karama Horne (https://www.syfy.com/authors/karama-horne and the http://theblerdgurl.com/ )  Andrew Dyce (https://screenrant.com/author/dyce/) and  Matthew Aguiilar (https://comicbook.com/author/MatthewAguilar/).

This was such a wonderful experience to be part of, Nora was so much fun, exceptionally engaging and there was just so much laughter. It was so delightful to hear the insights, but also it was a lovely hour, and a lot of fun.  Any errors in the below are my own, as I transcribed by ear, as best I could and edited some questions for clarity. My transcription will also be copy edited, but errors lie with me. 

Anne Brennaman: What’s it like to be able to create a Green Lantern, to put that stamp on the mythos?

N.K. Jemisin: [I first noted that Anne was wearing a Green Lantern Ring, and spoke about her friend who wouldn’t give her a Green Lantern ring, and they talked about this with much laughter and Anne noted she has the whole set, then Nora continued]: You are a hard core fan and I was not before they asked me to do this, specifically it was Gerard Way who asked me to do, and I was not interested in Green Lantern before that, and I had not even seen the movie, and my mental concepton of Green Lantern was shaped by my like of the Justice League back in the day, and I thought of John Stewart as the main Green Lantern, as that is what it was and I just wasn’t interested, or found it super clever. And then Gerard started explaining the world and his conception of what he wanted, and the world as he described was a world far away, beyond the regular sectors where Love is outlawed, and I was like, that is not going to work as love is paired with too many emotions and it has to be the whole set, and any time you give me carte blanch to write what I want in an existing universe and to reshape that universe as I see fit, I am happy, I am in. And so I began a crash course in Green Lanterning, so I got the mega-sized Geoff Johns and Silver Age issues and started reading those. There are too many to catch up, but I did as best I could.

James Bacon: I thought that there was a huge amount of depth to your character Sojourner Mullein, I hope I am pronouncing the name correctly now, I am not so sure…

N.K. Jemisin: [Laughing, out loud] I tried to make it an Irish name, so that is making me feel a little self conscious.

James Bacon: Jo is quite Irish, I wondered if you were trying to bring an extra depth to this character as there was a lot to her history and the first comic was very intense, and what you were trying to do with her, was she your first comic book character?

N.K. Jemisin: She was first one I have wrote myself, I have been a comics fan for years, and I did the same thing with her character that I did with any character I would have written, which was to give her some depth, but I honestly felt that she was a bit shallow as there wasn’t time to really delve into her background or any of the other stuff that is gone on in her life. I was only really able to give a thin sketch of her, and I was a little kinda sad about that, so to hear that she has a lot of depth, great, I faked it [laughter] but I wanted her to be three dimensional, interesting, memorable, quirky, complicated, flawed, she’s an ex NYPD cop, I have a lot of feelings with a  capital F about that and I wanted to not portray her as a one note thing, I wanted her to be layered. If she came across as complex and having some depth, then good, it means I did what I set out to do.

Andrew Dyce: One really strong idea that came across in Far Sector was you what you were referring to there, the big idea being good, or the big idea being noble or rational, but then struggling with the action of it, can you speak to that to the larger story, was it intentional? The figure of justice.

N.K. Jemisin: It is the nature of policing, whether you are the lone sheriff on the frontier or whether you are part of the world’s biggest police force, which NYPD is. I wanted to show that Jo was wrestling with how to be a good person, doing good things, within the framework of policing, and Green Lanterns are space cops. And as I said I have capital F feelings about it and I wanted to explore the idea that, no you’re not any better off, you are not doing any better if you are the lone sheriff and you don’t have any bureaucracy to respond to, cause you are still part of the politics, still are the person with a really big gun, in a place where a lot of other people do not have any power. I wanted simply for her to be conflicted, and I wanted to explore the nature of will power, because Green lanterns are supposed to be powered by will, and what I was reading in more recent Green Lantern comics, and this is no shade on anybody, was anger rather than will, and I was seeing Guy Gardener get pissed off and go to town, and that to me was willpower, but acute short-term will power, if that makes sense, whereas the will power that changes the world is the will power that organizes, that spends years trying to chage laws, that doesn’t get discouraged when there are setbacks, that is a different kind of will power, but  that the will power that I find more effective for changing the world and really I wanted to explore that. Jo gets mad lots of times, exerts huge burst of power, and there is payback, there is a backlash for that,  because she runs out of power, and that was the reason I gave her the unique ring, but then she has got to find a way to keep going even after  that burst of anger and the energy is gone and that to me was the interesting thing to explore.

Andrew Dyce: Did that go hand in hand with the emotionless City? If everyone was as angry as Jo?

N.K. Jemisin: One of the things I wanted to explore with the emotionlessness of The City Enduring was the fact that emotion is not an easy thing to shut off. So, for example, the people in City Enduring still performed emotion, because emotion is part of our body language, we make faces and we understand that they are in conflict with us, so I could not remove the idea of everybody being expressionless flat affect, made no sense for a group of people who were trying to communicate with each other. I wanted to explore the fact that emotion is a lot more complicated than even the idea of being emotionless. Basically my fear or concern is that I live in a society now that intellectualizes the idea that if you get angry about a thing, that is injustice, that you are somehow weakening yourself, that you are somehow doing something bad. We give more preeminence to people in our society who pretend [to be] emotionless, when in fact they are quite emotional but able to perform better. I could do a whole talk on this. I wanted to explore Jo’s open emotion versus the closeted emotion. I do not want to cross the streams on oppressive areas, but in this particular, that what was happening, there were lots of people in The City Enduring who wanted to experience emotion and so in some cases were doing it in an illicit fashion using switch off or performing emotions and pretending to be emotionless but really were pretty emotional and I wanted it to be layered. I like layers.

Karama Horne: We talked about Sci-Fi writers, I think we were talking about Octavia Butler predicting the future, and you said that Sci-Fi writers often don’t predict the future, they are talking about the future they are living in right now, so if that is the case for Jo, how much of Jo’s world is a reflection of our own?

N.K. Jemisin: Oh, 100%. That was her conclusion at the end of the series, she had go bajillions of light years across space, only to live in New York again with the same stuff and she chose to interpret that as people are going to people, but the fight for justice is going to be the same even if the people involved are different. She also concluded that maybe in the City Enduring where it is not personally attached to so many things, although she got personally attached, maybe in the City Enduring she can learn what she needs to go back to earth and do it right finally. because she had tried in multiple ways to contribute, to try and give back, to try and make the world better. She joined the army, well, that worked out great, she join NYPD, ditto, but maybe there is a way that she could do it and this was really her journey in realisizg the universality of justice, for lack of better description.

Matthew Aguiilar: One of the cool things that I love about Green Lanterns is about how their constructs become an extension of their personality and Jo has some of the most bad ass constructs, like jackets and hats, [much laughter from Nora] she looks awesome, like an action hero. Campbell did a great job of bring this world to life and her as well, what did you give to him in that regard working together, did she look a certain way, or those constructs, was that completely him, did you go back and forth a little bit, what was the process?

N.K. Jemisin: The Interesting thing is that I would give Jamal impressions and he would run with that, so for example, I wrote up a little series bible of the characters and the basic info about the world, because I know with comic books when something becomes successful you are not going to write it forever, you are going to hand it off to someone else. I gave him the profile of Jo, and in that profile there were some character keys, or character beats, as I am learning script writing lately so I am speaking script now, I pointed out that her eyebrows are always perfect, it doesn’t matter if the world is ending, this woman’s eyebrows are going to be perfect, if she has to use green lantern energy to do that, her eyebrows will be on point, so he took that she’s going to use the ring to fix her hair, she’s going to use it to wear a stylish coat when she needs a raincoat, and I didn’t say that, I just said her eyebrows. He took that and turned it into her, basically she is a fashion plate, but I also mentioned that she was modeled on Janelle Monáe, so he took a lot of inspiration from her as well, and her aesthetic. But no, I didn’t come up with that one image of her going to the funeral with the Green Lantern hat and cloak, and I saw that and just about died. I had not written that, but I was like, this is amazing. I said “Eyebrows, and you’ve got all this.” That was all him.

Matthew: We even got a Morpheus Matrix?

N.K. Jemisin: Those I did, every other issue there was a recap, I was trying to build the audience, and I wanted to mention how much Jo was a giant nerd. So each one of the recaps was evocative of popular science fiction, The Matrix, Independence Day, Aliens — which was my favorite of that whole trilogy. Every other issue there was a nerdy recap, and there were several that I wanted to do, that I wanted to do, and I had intended to have them in every issue, but apparently a few of my recaps encroached on copyright and I was informed by DC legal that we couldn’t do… a Blade Runner one, a Superman one [much laughter], it got weird, but so be it.

Karama Horne: you just talked about her fabulous micro blade technique with the ring, somebody else who was fabulous all the time, is Marth, so I am curious whether or not that’s your favorite character. But of the characters you were able to construct of the aliens, which character was your favorite, and which race was your favorite because of their characteristics.

N.K. Jemisin: I wish I had more time to explore the CATOLY, because I think they are much more interesting than I had got the room to play with, they are the plant people that eat people, as a religious experience, for them not you [much laughter]. You are dead, and I suppose that is a religious experience actually, depending on what you believe. I wish I had more time to explore the races in more depth, because I think all three are really interesting. They look human but are most alien in the cognition and emotions, and they were the ones who did the most extreme stuff, they were the ones who blew up their planets, and so they are like humans with temper dialed up to 11 and somehow they manage to survive to become a technologically advanced species. Out of the characters, Marth was definitely intended to be a high profile character. I wanted him to be like Catwoman to Batman, I wanted him to be the Catwoman of the series, a homme fatale, and we don’t have many homme fatales, instead of femme fatale, I wanted him to be gorgeous and dressed to the nines, looking like a wealthy and powerful person, which he is, but I also wanted to be layered too, which is why we get two different versions of Marth: one that is emotionless and one that is with emotion. I wanted Jo to constantly be torn between those two iterations of literally the same person and trying to figure out which one is real, and I didn’t get to explore him as much as I wanted to. Twelve issues doesn’t leave a lot of room, and comic books are stunningly short, says the novelist, – “What – I could only put this much in each one, this is terrible” [laughter] but I tried to make it work, for me. It was the equivalent for writing a slightly longer-than-normal short story, [laughter] which was a little frustrating, but at least I got a chance to explore and dip into the characters. But not go into depth yet. Maybe one day.

Karama Horne: So you might come back to Jo? I know she is out of your hands right now, but you are not leaving comics forever?

N.K. Jemisin: Oh, no, I am not leaving comics. If they wanted to continue Far Sector in the City of Enduring, but going into the main DC continuity, I do not have a problem with it, but there are elements of that that made it difficult to continue working on this character. I like World Building, I like all of it, I am not interested in dealing with pre-existing worlds to the same degree. If I had not already agreed to do film scripts and another novel, but between that, and it wasn’t going to be as fun anymore, yeah, if DC decides they want to revive Far Sector and the City Enduring, I hope they give me a call and I have let them know this.

Andrew Dyce: Because the Far Sector, the first story was told, just the response, I know it can be a little different from writing a novel to something that is so collaborative, Jamala Campbell, a monster, seeing the response to the story, was it a different kind of satisfaction, did people get what you were looking for, did people get what you were digging, what you hoped they would, seeing it being handed over to fans?

N.K. Jemisin: The honest to goodness truth is that I am not connected to comics fandom to get a really clear sense of what people thought of it, I saw people talking about it on twitter, if I did a Far Sector search which brought up lots of tweets about Indian agriculture, and (laughs) theres  something about the oil and gas industry in India uses Far and Sector a lot, so I didn’t see, I  learned a lot about India’s oil and gas industry (laughter) but I wasn’t able to see a lot of responses to the story itself, so I do not know what people felt about it, I didn’t get any hate mail, which I guess is a good sign and sales were decent apparently, which is also a good sign. In the book world there are lots of reviewers, there are some reviewers in the comic world, but it’s not the same volume, and I am sorta in a habit of not looking for reviews that are aimed at fans, I look for professional reviews, because those are something I am supposed to see, so I don’t really have a clear sense, the professional reviews I saw, seem generally positive, but beyond that, no hate mail is kinda what I got, so I don’t know if people caught the things I was trying to put into it, and I am hoping that now the compilation is available, that now the book world is going to get into it, as opposed to the floppy world, and then I will see more feedback about how it hit.

James Bacon: I should say that from comic fans I know, it has been very well received, and the first issue went to a second printing, and this is a desirable comic to have, where the first appearance of a character is desirable. The comic came out at a bad time for comic shops and the industry and it actually bucked the trend, some comics faltered and Far Sector had energy and buyers, which is crucial. I loved the humor and laughed out loud, even the line @at and Jo says don’t laugh [much laughter], the geekiness. Were you keen to add humour, to add in a way fan service, as I couldn’t stop laughing [laughter], how did you bring that into the comic?

N.K. Jemisin: That’s just me, I make jokes all the time, as you have probably seen, they are not always good [laughter]. But I try, and this is the part of me that tends to inform all of my protagonists, whatever their racial or gender background. I am a nerdy silly person, and people don’t seem to realize that the Broken Earth series that I am famous for was me exploring a very grim dark topic in a way that is not typical for me. Any of my other books are nerdy and silly, well sometimes, well not the one about death priests, well anyway, that said [laughter], well, even that one had some humor in it. That is how I handle difficult topics, when you are going to be exploring something as painful and difficult as some people got effectively mind raped in the span of Far Sector, people were dealing with a literally physical oppression of something is natural to them, when you are dealing with these topics, these very weighty issues, you can either take them 100% cold seriously or you can give them a little bit of built in stress relievers. Comic books are a medium that can do in-depth, serious exploration of really painful topics. I do not have the skill to do that in comics yet, particularly in a built-up franchise milieu like the Green Lantern series. There is only so far I can go into hardcore grim dark, so I felt like it was necessary to build in pressure valves, and those valves were meant to be humor, and that was just me. The nerdy part was just me. I am a Blerd, I am 100% Blerd, all of those movies Jo was parodying are some of my favorite movies. [laughing]

Anne Brennaman: What I wanted to know, as I am involved in the Twitter side of social media, the response towards Jo herself was amazingly positive, a lot of people really clicked with her, loved her design, the LGBT community loves her too, and just from that aspect it is one of the most talked about comics, at least on my feed in the last year — [‘Good to hear’ says Nora.] The thing I wanted to ask you was about the 3 races, and I love worldbuilding, and with Green Lantern you don’t often get them staying on a planet, they hop around the universe. With this they get to sit and play with it. How did you come to the idea with these 3 different races and what was the philosophy, and was there any part you wish you could expanded  on more — I am especially thinking about the cloud cryptocracy?

N.K. Jemisin: I had meant to explore that more, but that’s just part of, if you are doing world building, there are always going to be past tragedies and apocalypses and things that you allude to, the cloud cryptocracy were the organization, kinda like an organized crime group of alien races who colonized the planet that City Enduring came from, so I wanted City Enduring and the 3 races to have a history of having to work together against oppression, but at this point they are tenuously allied, but the tenuousness is starting to become more tenuous, so I really just wanted that in there to give them sufficient world depth, so that you could see that they had periods of conflict and periods of working together and gradually its settled on working together as better than conflict, but it was always work, and that was really it, I just wanted that clear from jot. Other things I would have liked to explore more, is actually Marth’s background, Marth’s ancestor, the reason he had an extra bit on his name, they had ridiculously long names, was because basically he and his whole lineage are meant to atone for the fact that his ancestor was the one who pressed the button that killed everyone’s emotions, that unleashed the emotion exploit, so his job is to make up for that, and all of the stuff that he did over the course of the series was his attempt to fill that ancestral bargain. But you know, there are other ways to do that [laughter] and Marth has a big family, and I wanted to explore that in depth, because it is  as complex as the Bat family, [laughter]. I was trying to take inspiration from existing comics and as complex as the Lanterns themselves, and I really wanted to delve into that more deeply. Oh well, one day.

[Anne mentioned she would like to see Marth’s Robins, to much laughter.]

Matthew Aguiilar: We see a lot of Lanterns getting their rings and typically it is a very emotionless affair, the ring seeking you out, and you pop it on. This is by far the most memorable giving of the ring sequence, and Jo literally gets it in a club with a very stylish Guardian [much laughter]. There was finite character space but we still even got a couple of pages and a sense of who JO is and her background, and why she was chosen. Was there anything more to this sequence, of her getting the ring and her backstory that you wanted to fit and didn’t have the space for?

N.K. Jemisin: No, I feel I was able to get all of her back story in. In that issue where she does a lot of flashbacking, I had intended to seed that in more slowly over the course of the story, but realizing that I needed, and also me learning about comics, you’ve got to include action sequences a lot more often than I am used to, so the action sequences kinda booted everything into one flash back issue, where I would have preferred to intersperse it over the course of the story. But you know, that is just the nature of a different medium. But I was able to get into her background fairly well, what I had intended was to get across, that she is not the first black female Green Lantern, who was an alien before her, and now there is a little girl, I have not caught up the more recent stuff, but I wanted to explore if this was going to be a Black American Green Lantern, then she is dealing with aspects of her identity on top of being a Lantern, and dealing with this. I was raised, and this is not the case for every Black woman, I cannot speak for 6 million people, but I was raised, I think a lot of Black women get raised with the idea that your job is to give back to the community, if you get power you use that to help. And she was a person who knew from jump that she was intelligent, she had skills, she could use those skills to help people. So I wanted her back story to be a litany of, again, again and again, she tries to help, she tries within the system, that doesn’t work. She tries without the system. And basically, she’s growing into a revolutionary. When she goes back to Earth, if I had been writing that part, well granted she has a lot to deal with in the current continuity, so when she gets some free time and she’s not a Green Lantern anymore, I want to see what she can do without a ring. But the bestowing of power, seems to me to be a thing to be approached with reverence, it does not feel right to me to be a kinda of accident, I wanted that Guardian, who was also a bit of a  rebel herself, I wanted that Guardian to do this in a much more planful way, and realize that she needs to pick the right person for this particular ring, a ring that is more dependent on long term will power, as opposed to the short term acute will power.

James Bacon: I wasn’t aware of how much of a comic fan you are, are there any comics now at the moment that you really enjoy and are finding really good?

N.K. Jemisin: These days I am enjoying indie comics that are not part of the big two, and not part of the superhero framework. I have been a giant fan of just about anything that Kelly Sue DeConnick does, but in particular I like Pretty Deadly, and love Monstress by Marjorie Liu and Sana Takeda. I’m really into Saga, hope they come back from hiatus at some point, [laughter]. So many things, the Wicked and Divine, those are my comics these days, and I also read a lot of manga, or I used to, these days I don’t have time to read.

Karama Horne: Just in terms of those references, yes Saga is coming back. Also, about the manga, it just dawned on me that when Jo uploads part of her consciousness into the system – wait – Ghost in the Shell, is this a Ghost in the Shell reference?

N.K. Jemisin: No this was actually a reference to cyberpunk as a whole, little bit Matrix, little bit Ghost in the Shell, little bit William Gibson, little bit Pat Cadigan. I am a book cyberpunk lover. I did like the original Blade Runner, haven’t actually gotten around to seeing the more recent one, and things like that. The visual aesthetic is not interesting to me, but that said, since I know people do like it, I tried to evoke a lot of different cyberpunks, so we had the ring that had a giant plug in it, that she had just shoved it into her own brain, and things like that, that’s what she needed to contextualize because she was a nerd, she was into cyberpunk, she had seen the Matrix and that was really it, but that was not comics specific, that was a genre reference.

Karama Horne: I need to know whether or not you are still collecting cheese in Skyrim [great laughter from Nora].

N.K. Jemisin: I actually have not been playing Skyrim lately, because I am in deadline hell on my latest novel. I do not allow myself new games, during that period. But that said, the DLC for the Outer Wilds came out about a month ago. I do not know if you guys played the Outer Wilds, it is one of the most cute games about quantum physics I have ever played, I would highly recommend it if you have not played it already, but it is adorable and it is also mind blowing. So that is what I have been playing lately. But I do miss the cheese days. Twitch went through a period where it was not safe to stream while black, so we are still kinda wrestling with all the implication of all that, and I haven’t done much Twitch lately, and the cheese Skyrim I do as a stress releaser or fund raiser, and I haven’t done it for a while. For those who don’t know, I get bored with traditional fantasy, so I play Skyrim, but because I don’t care about killing dragons and all that other nonsense, I just collect cheese, and I built a house, and I have a tower on that house, and I put the goat cheese in one room, and the blue cheese in another, and both rooms are full of cheese, that is literally all I do, cheese Skyrim. [Laughing] Like I said, geeky and silly.

Karama Horne: Everyone needs to know about cheese Skyrim [much laughter]. Congratulations on the adaptations, and the recent announcements, has there been any talk about adapting Far Sector.

N.K. Jemisin: Not that I know of, y’all will be the first to know when someone mentions it to me. We did briefly discuss adding Jo to the HBO series, but I think they wanted this to be focused on the 80’s and Jo is a millennial, and everything about her is shaped by her millennial experiences, and I didn’t think that would translate well, but beyond that, I do not know about any adaptations on that level.

James Bacon: In 12 comics there was a lot to it and a lot of story to it. You are very busy, but do you feel that comics could be a medium that you could develop something larger in, something new, and something your own? It is interesting that all the comics you like as well as being independent are the creators’ vision of a total new world, all amazing worlds. Is that something you would like to do at some stage?

N.K. Jemisin: In a heartbeat with bells on [much laughter]. I haven’t had time as you said. I have been in book contracts straight for ten years, which for a lot of authors is a great experience because it means we get paid during all that time, but it also means a grueling writing schedule that does not allow for a lot of room for other things. I have almost entirely  dried up on writing short stories for example, because of the book contracts. however, when I am done with the follow up of The City We Became, I announced this, The City We Became is no longer a trilogy, The Great Cities is no longer a trilogy,  it is now a duology as a I realized the story is more compressed than I thought it originally was and Orbit is flexible enough to let me shrink it back down. So when I am done with this, I will be done at that point with having to write to constant deadlines and I will be free at that point to explore some new things.
Now immediately, right now, I am contracted to do the script for the Broken Earth movies with Sony and we are going with Outlier Society right now as the production company and I am learning script writing, which learning comic book script writing was really useful for, although it’s a whole other world with the film stuff, so for me it is always about trying new things, and I have not been able to try new things for a while, but as soon as I get some free time, part of the reason I wanted to do Far Sector, was not only so I could get used to the medium, but also get to make contacts and get to know people and assembling a team and things like that.

James Bacon: That begs a follow up, if you don’t mind, do you have a story in mind you want to bring to people through comics, I don’t want to tie you down but it’s quite a news item.

N.K. Jemisin: I have a very vague, it’s a very vague idea at the moment, and it’s an idea I need to spend more time developing, which I have not done. Again, once I have some free time, who knows, we will see what happens, I do not want to commit, I also have not assembled my team, we will see what the future brings.

Anne Brennaman: I am actually neck deep in The City We Became right now, I started it because Far Sector was the first piece of your work that I found, and I know for a lot of people in my circle, that a story holds true for everyone. I was wondering for them, for people who want to get more of your work, do you have out of your books and short stories you have written so far, one that clicks most with Far Sector and a jumping on point for getting more of your stories?

N.K. Jemisin: I would say The City We Became, that’s my latest published novel. I’m writing the sequel right now, it’s set in New York, it has a whole slate of quirky characters and serious characters and it is my attempt at humor. After writing the grim dark of the Broken Earth series, I thought that I wanted a palate cleanser of light heartedness and, of course, immediately I decided to write about gentrification and police brutality. Anyhow, The City We Became is probably the closest to that, it has no thematic similarity to Far Sector, but it is set in a magical New York, and at least in that sense they will get some familiarity, most of my stuff is secondary world, so I don’t know  how easy it would be for people who are used the familiar environment of comics and the familiarity of the Green Lantern milieu to pick up something that is completely beyond earth and anything they know, but The City We Became is pretty familiar.

Andrew Dyce: What of Jamal Campbell’s work sticks most fondly in your mind, within Far Sector?

N.K. Jemisin: Honestly, it was the fact that he was able to make the city itself. What I wrote and what I wanted was the city to be a character. When you are doing urban fantasy, and I guess this qualifies as urban science fiction, it’s important for this city to not just be generic backdrop. It is important for the city’s uniqueness, quirkiness, strangeness to come across, and he did that. I would say things like there’s an issue with a giant protest happening, they are in this particular platform, this is what its character is, is the place of memory, the place where they bury their dead, there are statues, there are floating mausoleums, there are floating plant palaces, but what we really see is a giant swirl of people flying and a carpet of people walking on the ground yelling with placards, and Jamal came up with HR Gieger-esque row of bald imposing statues. Like I didn’t say that, I didn’t suggest that, he just went with it. Whenever I say that the city [needs] to have a character that speaks to this emotion or this theme, he went wild with it, and when I did the first script of issue 1, it was twice the length of all the rest. After that issue, and a couple of issues in, I realized I am giving way, way, way too much instruction. This man knows what he is doing, I am just going to get out of his way. I would simply include the themes and the very basic stuff that needs to be there, and he went hog wild with it, and he made the city have a character and I think that was amazing. When we were considering perspective artists for this originally we had started with Sean Martinbrough, but Sean wasn’t able to do it for various reasons, and he came up with the initial character design for Jo, and we were looking at other artists and the thing that stood out for me about Jamal’s work, we were looking at Immortal Nadia Greene, he had several cityscapes in that, that I felt were perfect, he did that also in Naomi, there were also a couple of examples of him doing really good cityscapes in Naomi as well, and at that point that was what decided me. I wanted someone who could make sure the city was an unspoken final character or extra character and he did it.


And then the interview session was nicely brought to a close. 

I have to admit, I was super excited by the concept of a bigger comic project and it was good to have other interviewers ask questions similar to what I had prepared, but probably a bit better, and also ask, what I had not expected. Thanks to Jason, Brian for arranging this amazing interview, and to the fellow round tablers, Anne, Karama, Andrew and Matthew for their fab questions. Especially thought to Nora, for engaging so much, and just sharing so much insight and laughter. 

[Publication of complete transcript authorized by Jason Fagan of BHI.]

N.K. Jemisin on TIME100 List

N.K. Jemisin has been named to TIME’s list of the 100 Most Influential People of 2021 in the Artists category. Her citation was written by Stacy Abrams, who is herself on the list in the category of Leaders.

… Jemisin’s genius is in how effortlessly she shatters our misconceptions about one another and our world, then invites us to dream to do better.

The complete list is here.

Jemisin tweeted her reaction:

[Thanks to Bonnie Warford for the story.]

Pixel Scroll 7/21/21 No Gods Were Stalked In the Making Of This Scroll Title

(1) HAUNTED. At Horrified: The British Horror Website, Sarah Jackson discusses the objects that become haunted in classic ghost stories written by women: “Haunted objects in women’s weird fiction”.

Like hermit crabs, ghosts and demonic forces are extremely adaptable when it comes to finding a new home. Especially fond of portraits, mirrors, and dolls, they have also been known to inhabit more mundane items. A saucepan. A fur boa. A pair of gloves. A snuff box.

Household items charged with supernatural power are a common motif in the large body of weird fiction written by British women in the first half of the twentieth century. Sometimes the effect is darkly comic, sometimes tragic, sometimes terrifying. As Melissa Edmundson notes in her introduction to Women’s Weird: Strange Stories by Women, 1890-1940 (Handheld Press, Melissa Edmundson, 2019) many of these haunted objects are ‘traditionally feminine’, and almost all have some connection to women’s changing roles and complicated relationship with domesticity and sexuality in this period.

(2) HE’LL RETIRE THE SERIES WITH THE RECORD. Stephen Jones reminded Andrew Porter about ending his Best New Horror anthology series in 2022. He wrote:

“I quietly announced it nearly two years ago.

“It was always the plan that when — or if! — I ever reached volume #31 (one more volume than THE PAN BOOK OF HORROR STORIES) then I would probably retire it. It’s an annual anthology that now takes nearly two years to compile!

“The final volume (in this format at least) will be published by PS Publishing towards the end of the year.

“It will hopefully set the record for the longest-running horror anthology series from the same editor.

“I decided to let Gardner Dozois’ record with THE YEAR’S BEST SCIENCE FICTION stand.”

(3) NEXT GAIMAN BOOK TO TV.  “Neil Gaiman’s ‘Anansi Boys’ to Get Amazon Series Adaptation” reports Variety.

…The streamer has given the limited series a six-episode order with plans in place to begin shooting in Scotland later this year. First published in 2005, “Anansi Boys” follows Charlie Nancy, a young man who is used to being embarrassed by his estranged father, Mr. Nancy. But when his father dies, Charlie discovers that his father was Anansi: trickster god of stories. And he learns that he has a brother. Now his brother, Spider, is entering Charlie’s life, determined to make it more interesting but making it a lot more dangerous.

The character of Mr. Nancy appears in both “Anansi Boys” and the Gaiman novel “American Gods,” the latter of which is currently airing a series adaptation on Starz. However, there is no connection between the two projects and “Anansi Boys” will serve as a stand-alone story.

The author tells how it happened in “The Other Half of the Secret” at Neil Gaiman’s Journal.

I mentioned that making Good Omens two is half of what I’ve been working on, and will be working on for next eighteen months, and I said I’d tell you soon enough what the other secret project I’ve been working on is.

It’s this

…And I cannot tell you how happy I am to be making it, and making it in the way that we’re making it.

Anansi Boys started in about 1996. I was working on the original Neverwhere TV series for Lenny Henry’s film company, Crucial Films.

I loved a lot of what we were doing in Neverwhere. 25 years ago, it felt like we were doing something ahead of its time. 

Lenny and I went for a walk. Lenny grumbled about horror films. “You’ll never get people who look like me starring in horror films,” he said. “We’re the hero’s friend who dies third.”

And I thought and blinked. He was right. “I’ll write you a horror movie you could star in,” I told him.

I plotted one. I tried writing the first half-dozen pages of the movie, but it didn’t seem to be right as a movie. And I was beginning to suspect that the story I was imagining, about two brothers whose father had been a God, wasn’t really horror, either.

… A top Hollywood director wanted to buy the rights to Anansi Boys, but when he told me that he planned to make all the characters white, I declined to sell it. It was going to be done properly or not at all.

And then, about ten years ago, two things happened at the same time. Hilary Bevan Jones, a producer who had made a short film I had directed (called Statuesque) mentioned she’d love to make Anansi Boys as a TV series, and a man named Richard Fee, who worked for a company called RED, spotted me eating noodles in a London noodle bar, waited outside so he didn’t seem like a stalker, and told me how much he loved Anansi Boys and that he’d love to make it into television.

I loved the TV that RED had made, loved Hilary and her team at Endor, and, unable to decide between them, suggested that they might be willing to work together. They both thought this was a good idea. …

(4) WORD. SFFANZ found a couple of noteworthy sff items on the Christchurch Word Festival program. New Zealand’s Christchurch Word Festival is on August 25-29.

Our attention has been drawn to two specfic items on the programme:

Speed Date a Speculative Fiction Author“, featuring Graci Kim, Cassie Hart, Sascha Stronach, and Karen Healey

The Stardust Cabaret“, including Sascha Stronach and AJ Fitzwater, with “star-stuff infused performances”

(5) CONLANG. BBC Radio 4’s Word of Mouth program for July 20 was on invented languages such as for Game of Thrones: Word of Mouth – “The Art of Inventing Languages”.

How does one go about inventing a language? David J. Peterson is the creator of the Dothraki and Valyrian languages for fantasy series Game of Thrones, as well as many others. He joins Michael Rosen for a playful discussion about all things conlang, and Michael tries his luck at inventing a new language for bacteria.

(6) VISUAL EFFECTS. Yesterday BBC Radio 4 also ran the third of three episodes in its series Unreal: The VFX Revolution, called  “The New Flesh”.

Oscar winner Paul Franklin tells how visual effects changed and how they changed cinema. By the mid 1990s, Industrial Light & Magic, the VFX house at the heart of the rebirth of photochemical illusions, was home to a small but growing band of digerati convinced that the next breakthrough was at their fingertips. Jurassic Park not only proved their point but showed audiences and filmmakers that nothing could be the same again. The quest for the illusion of life, for the subtlety of performance would eventually lead back to Middle Earth and the evolution of Gollum – the perfect fusion of man and digits. Meanwhile the illusory world of The Matrix put its extraordinary moments of Bullet Time at the heart of its story and ideas. This was visual effects as both story and metaphor. Christopher Nolan’s Inception took that warping of reality to a different, hyper-real realm as Paul Franklin and his team folded the streetscapes of Paris upon each other. And now? What does the future hold for storytelling and visual effects?

(7) VERDANT ARTHURIANA. A second trailer has dropped for The Green Knight, to be released July 30.

An epic fantasy adventure based on the timeless Arthurian legend, THE GREEN KNIGHT tells the story of Sir Gawain, King Arthur’s reckless and headstrong nephew, who embarks on a daring quest to confront the eponymous Green Knight, a gigantic emerald-skinned stranger and tester of men.

(8) MEMORY LANE.

  • 1995 – Twenty-six years ago, Patricia McKillip’s Something Rich and Strange won the Mythopoeic Fantasy Award for Adult Literature. The book was first published in hardcover by Bantam Spectra in November 1994.  It was originally published as part of Brian Freud’s Faerielands series, a collaborative series of novels where the writer could choose from a set of illustrations that Froud did and write their novels around those pieces of art. Only two of the four planned books were published with the intended artwork, this one and The Wild Wood by Charles de Lint. A third illustration would be used but not as part of this series but rather as the U.K. edition of Terri Windling’s The Wood Wife which was intended to be part of this series but instead got a Susan Seddon Boulet cover.

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born July 21, 1929 John Woodvine, 92. He’s first shows up genre wise in An American Werewolf in London as Dr J. S. Hirsch, but shortly thereafter he’s Master West 468 in The Tripods and Prior Mordrin in the Knights of God children’s SF serial. Finally he’s Justice Dimkind in A Perfect State which is at least genre adjacent. 
  • Born July 21, 1933 John Gardner. Grendel, the retelling of Beowulf from the monster’s viewpoint, is likely the only work he’s remembered for. Gudgekin The Thistle Girl (and Other Tales) are genre fairy tales as are The King of the Hummingbirds (and Other Tales); A Child’s Bestiary is, well, guess what it says it is. Mickelsson’s Ghosts, his final novel written before his untimely death in a motorcycle accident, is a ghost story. OGH says he remembers Gardner’s short fiction collection The King’s Indian (1974) very fondly. It made a big impression on him when he was in college and still thought he might become an sf writer. (Died 1982.)
  • Born July 21, 1944 David Feintuch. Astounding Award winner for best new writer. He wrote one science fiction series, the Seafort Saga, and a fantasy series, Rodrigo of Caledon. An eighth novel in his SF series, Galahad’s Hope, was apparently completed but never published. (Died 2006.)
  • Born July 21, 1948 Garry Trudeau, 73. Best remembered for creating the Doonesbury franchise which I’m not pretending is genre but I wanted to note his birthday.  The first daily strip was published Oct. 26, 1970 (he does new ones only on Sundays now) which means he’s been at it for over fifty years. 
  • Born July 21, 1951 Robin Williams. Suicides depress me. I remember a bootleg tape of a performance of him and George Carlin in their cocaine fueled days. No, not even genre adjacent but damn brilliant. Such manic energy. Genre wise, he was brilliant in most everything he did, be it Mork & Mindy, Hook which I adore, The Fisher KingBicentennial Man or Jumanji. (Died 2014.)
  • Born July 21, 1969 Christopher Shea, 52. Someone at casting likes him as he showed up in three Trek series, VoyagerDeep Space Nine and Enterprise playing a total of four roles. His only other genre was on Charmed
  • Born July 21, 1976 Jaime Murray, 45. If you watch genre television, you’ve most likely seen her as she’s been Helena G. Wells in the Warehouse 13, Stahma Tarr in Defiance, Fiona/the Black Fairy In Once Upon a Time, Antoinette in The Originals, and Nyssa al Ghul in Gotham. Film wise, she was Livinia in The Devil’s Playground and Gerri Dandridge in Fright Night 2: New Blood

(10) THE EARLY BIRD. San Diego Comic-Con International has posted the Program Schedule for Comic-Con@Home, running July 23-25 – there are also some pre-con items on the schedule for today and tomorrow.  

(11) IT’S A MYSTERY TO HIM. James Davis Nicoll has picked out some really good ones: “Five Captivating SFF Mystery Novels” at Tor.com. I want to read all of them.

The Apothecary Diaries 01 by Natsu Hyuuga (2020)

Kidnapped and sold as a maid to the rear palace, the sprawling residence for the emperor’s many wives and consorts, Maomao is determined to keep a low profile until her term of service is over and she can return to her old life as a would-be apprentice to her apothecary foster-father in a nearby red light district. Bright, pragmatic, and aloof, Maomao sees little to covet in the endless squabbles of the rear palace.

Sadly for this plan, Maomao’s observant nature, unusual skills, and inability to restrain from interfering in potentially lethal misadventures draw the attention of powerful eunuch Jinshi. Maomao has committed an error even riskier than offending one of the court’s most powerful functionaries. She has inadvertently shown that her deductive prowess could be useful. Which means, of course, when confronted with seemingly inexplicable mysteries—or even just the need for a toxin-resistant food taster—it is to Maomao that Jinshi turns. And if things go horribly wrong? Well, that probably won’t affect Jinshi.

(12) LEND ME YOUR EARS. At Nerds of a Feather, Paul Weimer takes “A second look at N.K. Jemisin’s 2020 Hugo Finalist novel, THE CITY WE BECAME” – which is actually a first listen.

…With the novel now a Hugo Finalist, and me, as the author, as a native New Yorker having re-read the book recently in audio, I thought a second look  at the book was in order to explore other facets of the novel, and the audiobook in particular….

While I had highly enjoyed reading the book in ebook last year, my choice of re-reading it audio, first a way to fill some loose hours in my listening schedule and a way to tag back into the book in order to rank it as a Hugo Finalist on my ballot. I was, however, riveted from the beginning for a number of reasons.

The choice of narrator, Robin Miles, is an excellent choice. Miles has worked with Jemisin before (notably on the Broken Earth trilogy) and has a very good voice for Jemisin’s word choice and sentence style. It’s a wonderfully immersive performance on her part, and her voice kept me listening, to the point of NPR style “Driveway moments” throughout the production. This is a book I could have done even better listening to it on a long driving trip.

The use of sound in the audiobook was inspired. While this is not a full cast production, and just has the aforementioned Miles as narrator, the production is not content to just use her considerable vocal talents. The audiobook employs some sound effects and tricks to help immerse the reader into, particularly, the cosmic horror of the novel in a way that the print novel doesn’t quite manage….

(13) SPACE OPERATICS. And last week Paul Weimer looked at this book for Nerds of a Feather: “Microreview: Assassin’s Orbit by John Appel”.

… With the recent publication of Adrian Tchaikovsky’s Shards of Earth, and now this, John Appel’s debut into novels, Assassin’s Orbit, there appears to be a mini boomlet in space opera stories set in a verse where Earth, the center, has been removed from the equation, and in point of fact, the power that ended Earth is one that might return in full force and flower and destroy what has been built in the meantime. And, also, the theme of how expatriates, if not outright refugees, try to build a new life far away from a home they cannot return to is one that is very much of this moment….

(14) ESSENCE OF WONDER. Author Jenn Lyons will be on Essence of Wonder with Gadi Evron on July 24 at 3:00 P.M. Eastern: “Dragons, Demons, Gods: Astounding Award Finalist Jenn Lyons on Her Series A Chorus of Dragons”.

This is now a streaming show that you connect with using one of these platforms: YouTube; Facebook Live; or Twitch.

(15) DUNE CAST POSTERS. Warner Bros. has released a series of character posters from Dune, the film adaptation of Frank Herbert’s novel directed by Denis Villeneuve. Its world premiere will happen at the Venice Film Festival in September before its October 22 release. See the character posters on Twitter. Thread starts here. Poster of Timothée Chalamet, who stars as Paul Atreides; Zendaya (Chani); Rebecca Ferguson (Lady Jessica); Jason Momoa (Duncan Idaho); Oscar Isaac (Duke Leto Atreides); Javier Bardem (Stilgar); Josh Brolin (Gurney Halleck); and Stellan Skarsgård (Baron Vladimir Harkonnen). Also Dave Bautista, Sharon Duncan Brewster, Stephen McKinley Henderson, Chang Chen and David Dastmalchian and Charlotte Rampling.

(16) PRO TIP. Larry Correia gave everyone a free lesson about “How To Write Your Author Bio” [Internet Archive link] at Monster Hunter Nation. The TL:DR version is: write a straight bio with your credits, then take the curse off by writing a blog post that belittles whatever you humblebragged about. For example:

And —

(17) VIDEO OF THE DAY. In “Honest Game Trailers: Scarlet Nexus,” Fandom Games says this game is “one of the most anime-friendly games ever” but not based on any actual anime, so you don’t have to prep before playing the game.

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

Pixel Scroll 7/1/21 Scrolling By 40 Specially Trained Ecuadorian Mountain Pixels

(1) KGB IN TIMES TO COME. Fantastic Fiction at KGB reading series hosts Ellen Datlow and Matthew Kressel present Nancy Kress and Kim Stanley Robinson in a YouTube livestream event on Wednesday, July 21 at 7 p.m. EDT. Link to follow. 

  • Nancy Kress

Nancy Kress is the multiple-award winner of science fiction and the occasional fantasy.  Her most recent works are the stand-alone novella Sea Change, about the genetic engineering of crops, and the space-opera The Eleventh Gate. Based in Seattle with, Nancy divides her time between writing and trying to train a very stubborn Chihuahua puppy.

  • Kim Stanley Robinson

Kim Stanley Robinson is a multi-award winner of science fiction probably best known for his Mars trilogy. His most recent novels are Red Moon and The Ministry for the Future. He lives in Davis, California.

(2) JEMISIN’S STATEMENT. Following publication of the Vox article “How Twitter Can Ruin A Life”, based on an interview with Isabel Fall, author of “I Sexually Identify as an Attack Helicopter,” some of N. K. Jemisin’s tweets about the topic from 2020 (see the Wikipedia) have been criticized. Today Jemisin posted an explanatory “Statement on Isabel Fall comments” at her blog.

… The reporter also reached out to me while researching this article, because there’s been a lot of internet chatter about my involvement. I shared what I could with her (off the record), and since she let me know that she was in direct contact with Ms. Fall, I took the opportunity to send a private apology at that time. I had hesitated to do so publicly before this because I didn’t know if it would just bring more unwanted attention to Ms. Fall — but since we’re talking about all of this again, now seems like a good time….

Jemisin recaps in some detail what she was trying to say and what went wrong, followed by this short summary:

…I am deeply sorry that I contributed to Ms. Fall’s distress, and that I was not as thoughtful as I should have been in my response. Let me also apologize specifically to my trans and NB readers, some of whom caught flak because I RTed them, and others who may have been hurt or confused by what I said. I just should’ve done a better job of it.

By now I hope it’s clear that I never wanted to hurt Ms. Fall and was trying to offer support…. 

(3) ALIEN COMING TO TV. Vanity Fair interviews the showrunner: “New ‘Alien’ TV Series Will Be Class Warfare With Xenomorphs”.

…Now a new FX TV series based on the franchise is in the works from Fargo showrunner Noah Hawley—who says it’s about time for the facehuggers and xenomorphs to sink their claws into the white-collar executives who have been responsible for sending so many employees to their doom. 

In a conversation about the symbolism of season four of Fargo, Hawley also offered an update on the Alien series, as well as his new novel, Anthem. The show, however, will have to wait a little while, since the crush of new productions after the pandemic has consumed all of Hollywood’s resources. How appropriate….

Vanity Fair: What’s next for you? Is there a season five in the works for Fargo?

Noah Hawley: Yeah, I think so. I don’t have it yet. I have pieces that will have to survive. They’re not connected. I think it would be good to create an ending, and deliberately come to something, knowing it’s the last one and see how one might wrap up this anthology. What’s next for me, it looks like, is [an] Alien series for FX, taking on that franchise and those amazing films by Ridley Scott and James Cameron and David Fincher. Those are great monster movies, but they’re not just monster movies. They’re about humanity trapped between our primordial, parasitic past and our artificial intelligence future—and they’re both trying to kill us. Here you have human beings and they can’t go forward and they can’t go back. So I find that really interesting.

(4) SPEED READING. Cat Rambo will be part of the July 2 First Friday Quick Read Zoom event. It’s free – register at the link.

Join us for a lunchtime tasting menu of science fiction, fantasy, and horror stories written by women and non-binary authors. We’ll feature 6 authors who will each have 8 minutes to tempt and tantalizing you with their reading. Our readings are like Forrest Gump’s box of chocolates – you never know what you’ll get!

(5) RADIO PLAY WINS KURD LAßWITZ AWARD. The radio play jury of Kurd Laßwitz Award has finished voting reports award trustee Udo Klotz. The winner is Der zweite Schlaf by Heinz Sommer.

  • Best German SF Radio Play First Broadcast In 2020

 (6) SFF AFTER MAO. There is a new book on Chinese sff in the 70s and 80s that readers might be interested in: Hua Li’s Chinese Science Fiction during the Post-Mao Cultural Thaw, from University of Toronto Press.

The late 1970s to the mid-1980s, a period commonly referred to as the post-Mao cultural thaw, was a key transitional phase in the evolution of Chinese science fiction. This period served as a bridge between science-popularization science fiction of the 1950s and 1960s and New Wave Chinese science fiction from the 1990s into the twenty-first century. Chinese Science Fiction during the Post-Mao Cultural Thaw surveys the field of Chinese science fiction and its multimedia practice, analysing and assessing science fiction works by well-known writers such as Ye Yonglie, Zheng Wenguang, Tong Enzheng, and Xiao Jianheng, as well as the often-overlooked tech–science fiction writers of the post-Mao thaw.

Exploring the socio-political and cultural dynamics of science-related Chinese literature during this period, Hua Li combines close readings of original Chinese literary texts with literary analysis informed by scholarship on science fiction as a genre, Chinese literary history, and media studies. Li argues that this science fiction of the post-Mao thaw began its rise as a type of government-backed literature, yet it often stirred up controversy and received pushback as a contentious and boundary-breaking genre. Topically structured and interdisciplinary in scope, Chinese Science Fiction during the Post-Mao Cultural Thaw will appeal to both scholars and fans of science fiction.

(7) TIME LIMIT. A trailer has dropped for the fourth and final installment of the Rebuild of EvangelionEvangelion: 3.0+1.01 Thrice Upon A Time.

The fourth and final installment of the Rebuild of Evangelion. Misato and her anti-Nerv group Wille arrive in Paris, a city now red from core-ization. Crew from the flagship Wunder land on a containment tower. They only have 720 seconds to restore the city. When a horde of Nerv Evas appear, Mari’s improved Eva Unit 8 must intercept. Meanwhile, Shinji, Asuka, and Rei wander around Japan.

(8) MARS IN CULTURE. “Exploring the Red Planet through History and Culture” with Nick Smith (past President of LASFS) will be hosted by the Pasadena Museum of History. This free virtual presentation* will be available for viewing Thursday, July 22 through Sunday, July 25. Sign up for email notification here.

The planet Mars has long been connected to humankind through religions, literature, and science. Join Nick Smith, guest curator of PMH’s 2018 exhibition Dreaming the Universe, to explore our fascination with Earth’s neighboring planet, and discover some of the many ways Mars is part of our culture. 

This free virtual presentation* will be available for viewing Thursday, July 22 through Sunday, July 25. An email with the link to the presentation will be sent to all of our email subscribers on Thursday, July 22.

*Pre-recorded presentation from Spring ArtNight 2021.

(9) RESOURCES FOR HORROR FICTION SCHOLARSHIP. The University of Pittsburgh library system announced the acquisition of the papers of Linda Addison, Kathe Koja, and the archives of the Horror Writers Association: “University of Pittsburgh Library System Acquires Additional Archives for its Horror Studies Collection”/

…The ULS has acquired the papers of Linda D. Addison, the most decorated horror poet today with a total of six Bram Stoker literary awards. Addison became the first African American writer to win a Stoker in 2001 for her collection, Consumed, Reduced to Beautiful Grey Ashes and has also received the Lifetime Achievement (2018) and Mentor of the Year (2016) Awards from the Horror Writers Association as well as the title Grand Master from the Science Fiction and Fantasy Poetry Association (2020). Her poetry explores themes of race, gender, loss, struggle, hope, and the resiliency of humanity through a lyrical style that employs both traditional horror tropes of the supernatural as well as stark realism. Her archive will include drafts and manuscripts of her poetry as well as ephemera such as convention programs and awards which help demonstrate her impact on the genre. On her hopes that her archive will inspire others, she says:

“Having my writing journey from journals, through edits to final versions, become part of the University of Pittsburgh Horror Studies Collection is a dream, I never imagined, come true! To think that others, studying my process, could find value and inspiration will allow my work to safely exist past the length of my life, is an incredible blessing.”

The ULS has also acquired the papers of Kathe Koja, who is a true iconoclast whose works push boundaries, expand our conceptions of horror, and prove that horror is indeed a true literary genre. Her first novel, The Cipher (1991), won both a Bram Stoker Award and Locus Award and solidified her impact as a force within new horror. She employs a striking and unique prose style to explore themes of alienation and social isolation as well as transcendence, often through art. Her collection will include drafts, manuscripts, and notes from her novels and short stories. On her decision to establish her archive at the University of Pittsburgh, Koja said:

“A book is its writing as well as its words: the thoughts and notes and drafts and edits (and edits, and edits) that comprise the final text. To have all that making made available for scholars, readers, and fans of horror literature is a real boon, and I’m beyond delighted that my own horror novels will now be available this way.”

Lastly, the ULS has acquired the archives of the Horror Writers Association (HWA), the premiere professional organization for writers working in the genre.  This collection, established by current HWA President John Palisano with support from former President Lisa Morton, documents the history of the organization through its newsletters, convention booklets and programs, and other published materials. Collectively, these materials illustrate the work of the HWA, as well as the community it has built. The HWA has been the main space for writers working within the genre to collect and collaborate since the late 1980s and has issued the Bram Stoker literary awards since 1987 at yearly conventions, such as the World Horror Convention and, since 2016, StokerCon.

(10) HUGO NOMINEE IS PLEASED. Best Professional Artist Hugo finalist Maurizio Manzieri tweeted –

(11) MEMORY LANE.

2003 – Eighteen years ago, Iain M. Banks’ only non-fiction book was published. It was Raw Spirit: In Search of The Perfect Dram. Of course he published it as Iain Banks as only his SF was under published under Iain M. Banks. It was his tour of the small whisky distilleries of Scotland in the small red sports coupe that he’d bought with the advance from the publisher who’d underwrote the entire affair on the word of Banks that it was a Great Idea. And being Banks about the Iraq War as well.  As he says in his introduction, “After doing extensive research, I can definitely tell you that single malt whiskies are good to drink”.  If you want to know more about this book, we reviewed it here at Green Man Review. And yes, it is available from the usual suspects. 

(12) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born July 1, 1891 — Otis Adelbert Kline. Early pulp writer and and literary agent whose great claim to fame was a possibly apocryphal feud with fellow author Edgar Rice Burroughs, in which he supposedly raised the latter’s anger by producing close imitations of Burroughs’s Mars novels. Wollheim and Moskowitz believed in it having happened, Lupoff did not. (Died 1945.)
  • Born July 1, 1934 — Jean  Marsh, 87. She was married to Jon Pertwee but it was before either involved in Dr. Who. She first appeared alongside The First Doctor in “The Crusade” as Lady Joanna, the sister of Richard I (The Lionheart). She returned later that year as companion Sara Kingdom in “The Daleks’ Master Plan”. And she’d return yet again during the time of the Seventh Doctor in “Battlefield” as Morgana Le Fay. She’s also in Unearthly Stranger Dark PlacesReturn to OzWillow as Queen Bavmorda and The Changeling. (CE)
  • Born July 1, 1935 — David Prowse. The physical embodiment of Darth Vader in the original Star Wars trilogy. Ok, it’s been  a very long time since I saw Casino Royale but what was Frankenstein’s Creation doing there, the character he played in his first ever role? That he played that role in The Horror of Frankenstein and Frankenstein and the Monster from Hell, Hammer Films a few later surprises me not. He shows up in Gilliam’s Jabberwocky according to IMDB as Red Herring and Black Knights (and no I’ve no idea what that means). Finally he’s the executioner in The People That Time Forgot, a film that’s very loosely based off of several Burroughs novels. (Died 2020.)
  • Born July 1, 1952 — Dan Aykroyd, 69. Though best known as Dr. Raymond Stantz in the original Ghostbusters films (which he wrote with Harold Ramis), he actually shows up a year earlier in his first genre role in Twilight Zone: The Movie as Passenger / Ambulance Driver. He’s reprising his role in the recent Ghostbusters 2020
  • Celebrated July 1, 1955 — Robbie the Robot. On this date in 1955, Robby the Robot was born. Or more properly constructed. Or so claims the studio, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, that would release Forbidden Planet, where he had his first screen appearance, on March 3, 1956 when the movie had its US premiere. He would go on to be in a number of  series including Lost in Space twice plus on The Addams FamilyThe Man from U.N.C.L.E. twice,  Twilight Zone (five appearances , mostly as toys) and Holmes & Yo-Yo to name but a few of his other  appearances. His latest appearance was on The Big Bang Theory with other movie props in “The Misinterpretation Agitation” episode. He had a memorable appearance on The New Adventures of Wonder Woman where he was the Master of Ceremonies at one of our SF Cons!  
  • Born July 1, 1962 — Andre Braugher, 59. He’s the voice of Darkseid in Superman/Batman: Apocalypse which is why he makes the Birthday list. If there’s ever proof that a great voice actor can make an animated role, this is it. It’s also a superb film. His other major genre role is as General George W. Mancheck in The Andromeda Strain series that originally aired on A&E. 
  • Born July 1, 1964 — Charles Coleman Finlay, 57. The Traitor to the Crown series is his best known work. His first story, “Footnotes”, was published in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction where many of his stories have since been published. Six years the editor of The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, ending in February of this year.
  • Born July 1, 1981 — Genevieve Valentine, 40. Author of the superb  Persona novel and also she scripted a Catwoman series, working with artists Garry Brown and David Messina. Her first novel, Mechanique: A tale of the Circus Tresaulti, won the Crawford Award for a first fantasy novel. She scripted a run of Xena: Warrior Princess, and scripted Batman & Robin Eternal as well. 

(13) COMICS SECTION.

(14) HUGOS FROM THE HAGUE. Fanac.org now hosts a video of the ConFiction (1990) Worldcon Hugo Ceremony.  

This video, captured with a hand held camera, covers the Hugo Awards, as well as the Campbell Award for New Writers, and the fannish Big Heart and First Fandom awards. Many awards were accepted by designees for the recipients, and we see Anne McCaffrey and Jack Chalker among those accepting for others. There’s a bit of humor from Dave Langford, and appearances by the American Ambassador to the Netherlands, C. Howard Wilkins. The World Science Fiction Society Banner, first hung at NyCon II in 1956, makes its appearance, and the video ends with the traditional view of all the recipients on stage. The video was recorded by John Cramer, provided by Tom Whitmore and used with the permission of Kees van Toorn, Chairman of ConFiction.

(15) SHAT TRADES SMACK. Shat gets into trouble by being a host on Russian propaganda network RT.“Star Trek Icon William Shatner Spars With Journalists About His New Show on Kremlin TV” says The Daily Beast.

Star Trek star William Shatner has taken to Twitter to trade blows with journalists who called him out for hosting a new show on the Kremlin’s notorious state-funded network, RT.

Earlier this week, the 90-year-old Canadian actor—known for taking on the legendary role Captain James Kirk in the Star Trek saga—announced he would be hosting a new general talk show on the American branch of RT called “I Don’t Understand,” where he’ll be posing questions to guests on a variety topics. The show is set to debut later this month.

Alexey Kovalev, an investigative editor for Meduza—one of the most popular independent Russian-language news outlets—had some choice words for Shatner on his work with the network.

“Quick reminder about [RT’s] views and editorial policies @WilliamShatner is now endorsing (whether he wants to or not),” he tweeted on Thursday, linking to a thread that ends with “Don’t go on RT, unless you are okay with sharing a mic with some of the most vile racist degenerates out there. It’s not a legitimate media platform. It has no redeeming qualities. And if no other platform will have you, then you really shouldn’t have *any* platform.”

Those comments seem to have hit a nerve with Shatner, who wrote back, “Perhaps instead of rebuking me with facts that have zero influence on my show, a better use of your time would be to move? It seems that you being in Moscow means you are directly supporting the very regime you are berating me about. #hypocrite.”…

(16) POE’S SCIENCE REPORTING. Daniel Engber reviews John Tesch’s Poe biography The Reason for the Darkness of the Night: Edgar Allan Poe and the Forging of American Science in “Edgar Allan Poe’s Other Obsession” at The Atlantic.

…By 1840, Poe was working at a men’s magazine, where he launched a feature called “A Chapter on Science and Art,” consisting of the sorts of squibs on innovation later found in Popular Mechanics. (“A gentleman of Liverpool announces that he has invented a new engine,” one entry started.) With this column, Tresch suggests, “Poe made himself one of America’s first science reporters.” He also made himself one of America’s first popular skeptics—a puzzle master and a debunker, in the vein of Martin Gardner. Poe wrote a column on riddles and enigmas, and he made a gleeful habit of exposing pseudoscience quacks….

(17) RAILGUN R.I.P. The idea got a lot of media attention, however, they’re going another direction: “Navy ditches futuristic railgun, eyes hypersonic missiles” reports the AP.

The U.S. Navy pulled the plug, for now, on a futuristic weapon that fires projectiles at up to seven times the speed of sound using electricity.

The Navy spent more than a decade developing the electromagnetic railgun and once considered putting them on the stealthy new Zumwalt-class destroyers built at Maine’s Bath Iron Works.

But the Defense Department is turning its attention to hypersonic missiles to keep up with China and Russia, and the Navy cut funding for railgun research from its latest budget proposal.

“The railgun is, for the moment, dead,” said Matthew Caris, a defense analyst at Avascent Group, a consulting firm.

(18) PUNCH, BROTHERS, PUNCH WITH CARE. At the link, another fabulous Middle-Earth transit map, from 2018 – “One does not simply walk into Mordor” by artist Christian Tate.

Middle Earth map commissioned for Empire Magazine plotting the journeys of Tolkien’s key characters through Peter Jackson’s six films of The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings trilogies.

(19) A REALLY SHORT HOBBIT. Brenton Dickieson introduces readers to “The First Animated Hobbit, and Other Notes of Tolkienish Nonsense” at A Pilgrim in Narnia. The film runs about 11 minutes.

…Rembrandt Films had purchased film rights to produce a film by 1967, but a Hollywood feature-length deal fell apart. According to the Wikipedia page, the film was produced cheaply and quickly–Mythmoot lore places it at 7-10 days–and premiered on the last day that the contract, paying people to see the film. Having fulfilled the contract, they were able to return rights to Tolkien, opening possibilities for future adaptations, including the 1977 animation (which I call “the cute Hobbit” in my mind), and the trilogy epic of the fairy tale in the early 2010s by Peter Jackson, which some may have heard about….

(20) VIDEO OF THE DAY. The HISHE series says this is “How Godzilla vs Kong Should Have Ended”.

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

Pixel Scroll 6/27/21 Credentials Of The Pneumo Gnomes

(1) HAVE YE SEEN THE MOVIE? The cetacean film star is hardly ready to retire: Phil Nichols discusses “Moby Dick at Sixty-Five!” at Bradburymedia.

Sixty-five years ago today – 27th June 1956 – John Huston’s film version of Moby Dick was released, with a screenplay co-written by Ray Bradbury. As regular readers of Bradburymedia will be aware, Ray’s experience of working on this film cast a very long shadow.

Bradbury became somewhat obsessive over Herman Melville’s story, and was driven to write his own prose version of Moby Dick in the form of Leviathan ’99, which was initially a radio play, then a stage play and opera, and eventually a novella….

Nichols follows with a roundup of links to his many posts about various connections between Bradbury and the making of Moby Dick.

(2) FANZINE IPA. [Item by Steven Johnson.] Not a fanzine called IPA, or an apa called IPA, but an limited release Pacific Northwest IPA called Fanzine IPA, from Fort George Brewery in Astoria and Great Notion Brewing of Portland, Oregon. Imagine my surprise when my brother pulled out two pint cans of Fanzine IPA, adorned with bizarre comic strip panels. Images of the cans are at the brewery website. (Click for larger images.)

In an ever hazier world, West Coast IPAs have nearly gone the way of the landline and fax machine. As the condensation slowly evaporates from the window of the indie punk bookstore, Fanzine IPA comes into focus – a crisp, clear, West Coast style collaborative presentation from Fort George Brewery and Grains of Wrath Brewery.  Fanzines are deeply rooted in the DIY ethos of the fiercely independent, small run, self-published, xeroxed and stapled testaments to the object of a true fan’s reverence. The Fanzine IPA can features the art of independent folk legend Michael Hurley, who himself is the subject of a Fanzine. A piney bitterness backs up the heavy hop additions, with grapefruit and other citrus notes. Mild sweetness from the malt bill lingers with a taste of orange juice.

(3) WARREN ELLIS COMEBACK QUASHED. The Mary Sue reports “Image Comics Reneges on Warren Ellis Comeback Series”.

One year ago, British comic book writer Warren Ellis (TransmetropolitanGlobal FrequencyRedwas accused by writer Katie West of coercion, manipulation, and sexually predatory behavior on Twitter. West’s tweet was immediately met with responses from dozens of women and non-binary individuals who shared similar experiences with Ellis, establishing what appeared to be a broad pattern of a giant in the comics industry abusing the power he held over fans and followers. Since then, victims of Ellis have formed So Many of Us, a group of over 60 people who accused Ellis of years of grooming and emotional manipulation.

Ellis issued an apology and largely withdrew from public life, but like most canceled men of the Me Too movement, he has resurfaced. News broke that Image Comics would be bringing Ellis back to finish his mid-2000s series Fell with artist Ben Templesmith. Templesmith made the announcement on his Patreon account, where he wrote of Ellis, “I’m glad he’s going to be doing some comics again. I don’t think anyone thought he’d bugger off and work in a shoe factory or anything, … He is after all, one of the most important comics writers of the past few decades. It means a lot to me to finish this thing, finally, so I couldn’t say no. I guess we’ll let the market speak as to how things go.”

Image Comics initially stood by the announcement, saying “Warren Ellis and Ben Templesmith’s Image Comics series Fell will indeed return for its long awaited final story arc in graphic novel format. We will have more details to share about this very soon.”

But as public outrage grew, they backtracked and issued a new statement saying, “This week’s Fell announcement was neither planned, nor vetted, and was in fact, premature, … While finishing Warren Ellis and Ben Templesmith’s Fell is something we’ve been looking forward to for years, Image Comics will not be working with Warren on anything further until he has made amends to the satisfaction of all involved.” I guess the market has spoken….

(4) GAME WRITER SUES FANS FOR LIBEL. Those of you who have been wondering where to apply all of your recently accumulated knowledge about California defamation lawsuits and the state’s anti-SLAPP provisions learned while following JDA’s case can apply it to a new California case.

The attorneys for video game writer Christoper Avellone filed a libel suit against two women for statements they made in social media about what happened at a Dragon Con, of a nature that can be deduced from the denial:

…These false statements are of or about Avellone and are libelous on their face…. The reader would reasonably understand the statements to be about Avellone and to mean that Avellone targeted young women, including women under the age of consent, by forcing them to become intoxicated for the purpose of engaging in non-consensual sexual contact….

A PDF copy of the complaint, which was filed June 16 with the Superior Court of the State of California, County of Los Angeles, can be read here.

D.M. Schmeyer, who identifies himself on Twitter as an attorney, has an extensive critique of the lawsuit in a thread that starts here. The following are a couple examples of his skeptical take on the suit.

(5) MEMORY LANE.

1982 – In 1982 at Chicon IV where Marta Randall was Toastmaster, C. J. Cherryh would win the Best Novel Hugo for Downbelow Station whichwas set in Cherryh’s Alliance–Union universe during the Company Wars period. It was published by Daw the previous year and originally had been called The Company War by the author. Other nominated works were The Claw of the Conciliator by Gene Wolfe, The Many-Colored Land by Julian May and Little, Big by John Crowley. 

(6) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born June 27, 1909 — Billy Curtis. You’ll best remember him as the Small Copper-Skinned Ambassador in Trek’s “Journey to Babel” episode. His genre experienced goes all the way back to Wizard of Oz where he was a Munchkin, and later on he’s a mole-man in Superman and The Mole-Men, and later on a midget in The Incredible Shrinking Man. He had lots of one-offs, be it on Batman (twice there), BewitchedGilligan’s IslandPlanet of The Apes or Twilght Zone. (Died 1988.)
  • Born June 27, 1941 — James P. Hogan. A true anti-authoritarian hard SF writer in the years when that was a respectable thing to be. The group that gave out the Prometheus Award certainly thought so with fifteen nominations and two Awards for two novels, The Multiplex Man and Voyage from Yesteryear.  I’m sure that I’ve read at least a few of his novels, most likely Inherit the Stars and The Gentle Giants of Ganymede. A decent amount of his work is available at the usual suspects. (Died 2010.)
  • Born June 27, 1952 — Mary Rosenblum. SF writer who won the Compton Crook Award for Best First Novel for The Drylands, her first novel. She later won the Sidewise Award for Alternate History Short Form for her story, “Sacrifice”. Water Rites and Horizons are the only ones available at the usual suspects. (Died 2018.)
  • Born June 27, 1959 — Stephen Dedman, 62. Australian author who’s the author of The Art of Arrow-Cutting, a most excellent novel. I really should read Shadows Bite, the sequel to it.  He’s the story editor of Borderlands, the tri-annual Australian science fiction, fantasy and horror magazine published in Perth. Kindle has The Art of Arrow-Cutting and a few other titles.
  • Born June 27, 1966 — J. J. Abrams, 55. Let’s see… He directed and produced the rebooted Star TrekStar Wars: The Force Awakens and Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (he was a co-writer on the latter two), but I think I will single him out as the executive producer of the Fringe series. And he was an executive produced the Lost series as well. Did you know he was the executive producer of Person of Interest too? 
  • Born June 27, 1972 — Christian Kane, 49. You’ll certainly recognize him as he’s been around genre video fiction for a while first playing Lindsey McDonald on Angel before become Jacob Stone on The Librarians. And though Leverage ain’t genre, his role as Eliot Spencer there is definitely worth seeing. 
  • Born June 27, 1975 — Tobey Maguire, 46. Spider-Man in the Sam Raimi trilogy of the Spidey films. His first genre appearance was actually in The Revenge of the Red Baron which is one seriously weird film. Much more interesting is his role as David in Pleasantville, a film I love dearly. He produced The 5th Wave, a recent alien invasion film. 
  • Born June 27, 1987 — Ed Westwick, 34. British actor who has roles in the dystopian Children of MenS. Darko (a film I couldn’t begin to summarize), Freaks of Nature (a popcorn film if ever there was one), the “Roadside Bouquets” episode of the British series Afterlife (which I want to see) and The Crash (which may or may not be SF).

(7) COMICS SECTION.

  • Frank and Ernest would be debating about an Einstein quote if they had someone to take the other side.
  • Off the Mark show the problem with aliens who do look like something humans have seen before.
  • Bizarro drops a frosty gag in the middle of summer.

(8) WILL THIS WORK? “Relativity Space Reveals Fully 3D Printed Reusable Rocket” says Fabbaloo.

…How did Relativity Space achieve this? They built a proprietary metal 3D printing system they call “Stargate” that can, as most 3D printers can do, produce arbitrary objects. The company has used it to produce working Aeon 1 engines for their previous and much smaller rocket, the Terran 1.

The advantage here is that they are literally 3D printing the entire rocket with Stargate. The engines, the fuselage, plumbing and more. This approach allows them to bypass many complications during the build process and subsequent operation: there are far fewer parts to assemble, fewer joints to fail, fewer seams to leak, and so on. The parts are also designed using generative techniques to ensure they are lightweight as possible….

(9) GET JEMISIN’S GREEN LANTERN. (Item by Daniel Dern.) N K Jemisin’s “Far Sector” Green Lantern twelve-issue miniseries from DC Comics is done, and it’s excellent. (Note, Sojourner “Jo” Mullein , Jemisin’s Green Lantern, has just shown up in one of the regular Green Lantern titles.)

Want to get/read it? As always, with comics, there’s a range of ways, depending on where your slider is between Sooner and Frugaler (also paper vs. pixels):

For sale as paper comics. From your local comic shop, or via distant/online sellers. List price $3.99 each, so x12 for the whole run.

In digital form, via ComiXology.com (the engine behind DC and Marvel’s digital sites; owned by Amazon, FYI.)  Hmmm, issues 1-9 are currently on sale from $3.99 each down to $0.99, with 10-12 still $3.99 each, so cheaper than buying the paper comics (assuming they’re still available at list price) — Far Sector (2019-) Digital Comics – Comics by comiXology

Digitally, via DC’s digital streaming site/service DC Universe Infinite — $7.99/month or $74.99/year; free 1-week trial

Good deal for the patient and moderately frugal — like Marvel, new issues don’t get posted here until (at leaat) 6 months after print release date.

So far, the first 9 issues of Far Sector are up here. Wait 3 months, they’ll all be up.

Collected into a book ( = has ISBN, for sale in stores, libraries can/will buy it): Far Sector (9781779512055): Jemisin, N.K., Campbell, Jamal: Books. Not available until October 2021, trade paperback, list $29.99

At that point, for the patient and ultra-frugal, also, a) your library (or library network) can order it for you, b) the digital version will likely be available via Hoopla (hoopladigital.com).

Here’s some review links

(10) A MODERN STONE AGE FAMILY HOME. “Settlement reached in Flintstone House case” – the San Jose Mercury-News says the city and the owner of a house in Hillsborough, California modeled after the Flintstones have finally resolved their litigation.

A menagerie of prehistoric animals now stands guard at the famous Flintstone House, Tuesday, March 13, 2017, in Hillsborough, Calif. Three dinosaurs, a giraffe and a mastadon were added by Florence Fang, the home’s new owner. (Karl Mondon/Bay Area News Group)

After a years-long legal battle, the quirky, colorful prehistoric decor dotting the so-called Flintstone House will be allowed to stay.

According to the Palo Alto Daily Post, Florence Fang and the town of Hillsborough recently settled a 2019 lawsuit stemming from allegations that Fang had failed to get approval to add dinosaurs and a large sign reading “Yabba Dabba Doo,” among other things, to the yard surrounding her whimsical orange and purple home, which is very visible from Interstate 280.

The settlement agreement reportedly says Hillsborough will pay Fang, a retired media mogul whose family used to own the San Francisco Examiner, $125,000 to cover costs associated with the lawsuit and approve permits for the changes made to the home. Fang, who is in her mid-80s, will drop her claims. She has said the city had stymied her initial attempts to get permits, and she suggested that she was discriminated against for being Asian….

(11) MARATHON MAN. Author Miles Cameron has mixed his thoroughly modern career with ancient avocations —

After the longest undergraduate degree on record (1980-87), I joined the United States Navy, where I served as an intelligence officer and as a backseater in S-3 Vikings in the First Gulf War, and then on the ground in Somalia, and elsewhere. After a dozen years of service, I became a full time writer in 2000. I live in Toronto (that’s Ontario, in Canada) with my wife Sarah and our daughter Beatrice, currently age fourteen. I’m a full time novelist, and it is the best job in the world.

I am also a dedicated reenactor; it is like a job, except that in addition to work, you must pay to participate. You can follow some of my recreated projects on the Agora. We are always recruiting, so if you’d like to try the ancient world or the medieval world, follow the link to contact us. Come on. You know you want to.

Below, that’s us, at Marathon in Greece in 2011.

Cameron’s new SF novel Artifact Space was release this month:

Out in the darkness of space, something is targeting the Greatships.

With their vast cargo holds and a crew that could fill a city, the Greatships are the lifeblood of human occupied space, transporting an unimaginable volume – and value – of goods from City, the greatest human orbital, all the way to Tradepoint at the other, to trade for xenoglas with an unknowable alien species.

It has always been Marca Nbaro’s dream to achieve the near-impossible: escape her upbringing and venture into space.

All it took, to make her way onto the crew of the Greatship Athens was thousands of hours in simulators, dedication, and pawning or selling every scrap of her old life in order to forge a new one. But though she’s made her way onboard with faked papers, leaving her old life – and scandals – behind isn’t so easy.

She may have just combined all the dangers of her former life, with all the perils of the new . . .

(12) EEL CHOW CALL. “When an Eel Climbs a Ramp to Eat Squid From a Clamp, That’s a Moray” is the New York Times’ lyrical headline.

Moray eels can hunt on land, and footage from a recent study highlights how they accomplish this feat with a sneaky second set of jaws.

….And morays climbing out of water came as no surprise to some observers. Lana Sinapayen, an artificial life researcher who grew up in the Caribbean island of Martinique, said local fishermen often caught morays by placing squids on the shore and waiting for the eels to arrive. “You only need a solid stick to take your pick,” she wrote in an email. Dr. Sinapayen was not involved in the research but wanted to emphasize that many local people have long known that morays can hunt on land.

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