Pixel Scroll 6/16/21 No One Is Born A Pixel, Except In A French Scroll Where Everyone Is

(1) FANTASY ART EXHIBIT AND SYMPOSIUM. The “Enchanted” fantasy art exhibit opened at the Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge, MA last weekend:

Donato Giancola: St. George and the Dragon (2010)

Enchanted: A History of Fantasy Illustration explores fantasy archetypes from the Middle Ages to today. The exhibition will present the immutable concepts of mythology, fairy tales, fables, good versus evil, and heroes and villains through paintings, etchings, drawings, and digital art created by artists from long ago to illustrators working today. Mythology explores the adventures of Apollo and Thor, Perseus rescuing Andromeda with the head of Medusa, and the labours of Hercules; fairy tales depict the worlds of elves, fairies, and mermaids, and conjure dreams of Little Nemo in SlumberlandAlice in Wonderland, and Cinderella; heroes and villains follow the exploits of Arthurian legends, Prince ValiantConan the Barbarian, and The Lord of the Rings; and haunting images of sorcerers and witches, and battles between angels and demons embody the struggle between good and evil.

James Gurney has a report on his site Gurney Journey “Fantasy Art Exhibition Opens in Massachusetts” – including photos from the artists’ reception.

… Rather than setting up the exhibit chronologically, curator Jesse Kowalski arranged it thematically, with rooms full of new and classic paintings devoted to mythic themes, such as dragons, faeries, mermaids, and monsters. ….

This weekend they’re holding an on-line symposium: “Enchanted: Epic Adventures in Fantasy Illustration” with opening remarks from Sara Frazetta, granddaughter of Frank Frazetta, and two artist panels. RSVP at the link – there is a charge.

Artist Panel One: The Frazetta Legacy in Contemporary Fantasy Illustration: A Family of Artists

Julie Bell, Boris Vallejo, Anthony Palumbo, and David Palumbo are gifted artists who have been inspired by the notable legacy of fantasy and science fiction illustrator Frank Frazetta. This panel will explore their art, their position as the first family of fantasy illustration, and the creative and technical approaches that has inspired the acclaim and admiration of many fans.

Artist Panel Two: The Epic Fantasy Adventure

The rich histories relayed by the storytellers, writers, artists, historians, and philosophers have helped to define epic adventures and fantastical characters through time, from The Epic of Gilgamesh in 2100 BCE to the dynastic rivals of The Game of Thrones. Alessandra Pisano, Donato Giancola, and Gregory Manchess will discuss their work as well as the fantasy narratives that have inspired it.

(2) TWO NGHI VO INTERVIEWS. “Nghi Vo gets the green light” – a Q&A conducted by Noah Fram at Bookpage.

When F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby entered the public domain in 2021, it became free game for adaptation. But unfortunately for any future reimaginings of the iconic Jazz Age novel, it’s going to be hard to top Nghi Vo’s historical fantasy, The Chosen and the Beautiful.

Shifting narrators from Nick Carraway to Jordan Baker, Daisy’s best friend and a fan favorite, Vo adds even greater power to Fitzgerald’s depiction of the haves and have-nots of American capitalism by making Jordan the adopted Vietnamese daughter of a rich, white couple. We talked to Vo about Jordan’s idiosyncratic allure, the dangers of Hemingway and more.

The Chosen and the Beautiful is a stunning book in its own right, but I’m essentially obligated to ask: What led you to adapt The Great Gatsby and why did you choose this particular genre?
Well, I’m absolutely a fantasist, so of course I was going to write it as a fantasy, and plus, it’s just too much fun to miss. The ’20s were wild to begin with, and the temptation to imagine people drinking demon’s blood cocktails, trading faces and chasing ghosts was far too strong for me….

One of the challenges of adapting a widely known work of fiction is creating something new and vital on a well-established canvas. How did you go about finding spaces to add intrigue, twists and surprises, especially since your readers will most likely be familiar with the events of The Great Gatsby itself?
So in writing The Chosen and the Beautiful, I more than doubled Fitzgerald’s word count. This actually makes a lot of sense to me because when I went back to read The Great Gatsby, what I found from a mechanical perspective is that Gatsby is a brick of a book in disguise. Fitzgerald doesn’t spell things out so long as the reader walks away with the general point. There are a ton of spaces to explore in the original. The ones that stand out most significantly to me are the secret conversations Jordan Baker is canonically having with Jay Gatsby, the ones that actually set the whole thing into motion, but those are far from the only ones! (cough, lever scene, cough)…

The Los Angeles Daily News probes “How this queer ‘Great Gatsby’ remake finds magic in reimagining a classic novel”.

Nghi Vo was halfway through writing a novel about “a young woman who was raised by dead people” when her agent suggested she begin work on what would become the novel “The Chosen and the Beautiful.”

The book she had been writing is still on her computer. “I haven’t gone back to it yet,” says the Milwaukee-based author, whose previous works include the novellas “When the Tiger Came Down the Mountain” and “The Empress of Salt and Fortune.”

With “The Chosen and the Beautiful,” which will be published June 1 by Tor, Vo reimagines “The Great Gatsby” from the perspective of Jordan Baker, who in this version is a young, queer woman who was born in Vietnam and raised in White, American high society. Vo also incorporates elements of the fantastic in the story, aiming to make the story seem true even if it ventures into the unreal.

“Which means that this could absolutely never happen in the real world at all. It defies physics. It defies logic, but somehow, it’s still true,” she says on a recent phone call. “That’s the grail for me when it comes to writing.”…

(3) SF SPARKLE SALONS. Arizona State University’s Center for Science and the Imagination launched a new video series today: Science Fiction Sparkle Salons, hosted by Malka Older. The first episode features Karen Lord, Amal El-Mohtar, Arkady Martine, astrophysicist Katie Mack, and Annalee Newitz having a wide-ranging, informal conversation about a variety of issues in fiction and science, enhanced by factoids and graphics in the style of VH1’s “Pop-Up Video.”

(4) BRUSH UP YOUR INKLINGS. Brenton Dickieson tells “5 Ways to Find Open Source Academic Research on C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, and the Inklings” at A Pilgrim in Narnia.

… Therefore, partly in response to student need and partly to encourage great research by you, dear reader–who also may not have a university behind you–I thought I would feature some places where you will find open-access Inklings research beyond my little website.

5. Free Materials Among Print Journals

Finding the right open-source material is always a challenge. Even though I am a faculty member at several libraries, I am always using my networks to find things that I need. There are some resources that we use as go-to places for accessible research:

  • Open JSTOR and Artstor, offering tools for search for materials online and in partnership with the libraries where you do have access
  • Also check out Open Access On MUSE
  • DOAJ.org lists open-access journals and articles
  • Google Scholar, a weirdly dated but moderately helpful resource for materials where you have specific texts or search-words; it does not distinguish between reviews, articles, and other academic resources–though it does list most of what I’ve done in the last 10 years (not everything is linkable)
  • Google Books, deeply limited but sometimes quite helpful in searching a phrase or two or finding an outdated resource, and includes the Books Ngram Viewer–a visual history of term usage
  • Kindle Samples are a good way to get a sense of what books might be helpful in your research and often includes a copy of the introduction or preface
  • Universities usually archive their MA and PhD thesis and dissertations, though some may be embargoed; and check your national research resources: Canada, for instance makes all of their publicly funded major projects searchable (see here, where there were four dozen results each for “C.S. Lewis,” “Tolkien,” and “L.M. Montgomery”)

(5) BAD TO WORSE. Camestros Felapton advances the Sad/Rabid Puppy saga to May 2015 in “Debarkle Chapter 42: May”.

… April had been a mixed month for the public-relations campaign of the Sad Puppies. Their apparent victory in the nomination stages was more than the leaders had expected and the scale of the controversy was possibly more than they had planned for. Nevertheless, they had started as winners. Brad Torgersen had gained some sympathy after the error-prone Entertainment Weekly article (see chapter 41) had falsely claimed that the Sad Puppies had only nominated white men. After anti-Gamergate campaigner Arthur Chu had referred to Torgersen’s wife and child as “shields”[2], Torgersen compared himself to a prisoner in a gulag[3]. However, both Correia and Torgersen had used April to argue with George R.R. Martin and his posts about the Puppy campaigns. Correia, in particular, followed his normal style of internet argument in an attempt to discredit Martin’s characterisation of the Sad Puppies[4]. While their responses pleased their followers, they reacted to Martin’s posts on “Puppygate” as if he were a major opponent rather than a potential ally in opposing the No Award Strategy[5].

The Sad Puppy campaign needed to start May with some positive presentation of their views. Unfortunately, things quickly went badly wrong….

(6) ROWLING REP’S NEW LITIGATION REVEALS OLD SETTLEMENT AMOUNT. A lawsuit in the UK has led to the discovery that Neil Blair at The Blair Partnership paid his former employer Christopher Little £10 million as a settlement fee in January 2012 after Blair set up his own agency in 2011 and took over representation of J.K. Rowling. Blair borrowed the money for the lump sum payment from Rowling herself. “Revealed: £10m payout for Harry Potter agent after Rowling fallout” at Evening Standard.

The only previous report of the settlement, in the Daily Mail in 2012, was based on a statement from reputation and crisis-management firm Project Associates indicating the parties had settled for an unspecified amount “believed to be worth millions of pounds.”

Publishers Lunch says Blair is now suing his former accountant, alleging negligence “in connection to advice relating to the restructuring of his business,” apparently related to tax treatment of that settlement payment to Little.

(7) DON’T TICK HIM OFF. “Q returns in time-hopping teaser” for Picard Season 2. (Can Federation time be broken any worse than it is in my comments software?)

In celebration of “Picard Day” (named for the celebration thrown on the Captain’s behalf by the children of the Enterprise-D back in the Next Generation days) on Wednesday, Paramount+ released the first intriguing teaser for Star Trek: Picard Season 2, and in the process set up a confrontation we’ve long been waiting for. The series has already revealed that the great John de Lancie will reprise his role as the enigmatic Q for Season 2, but that doesn’t stop the goosebumps when he finally appears, looking as mischievous as ever as he prepares to put Picard through yet another test. It seems all of time is broken, and Jean-Luc and his crew may be our only hope of putting it back together.

(8) MEMORY LANE.

  • 1996 — Iain M. Banks wins the BSFA for Excession, a Culture novel, published by Orbit Books. It would be his second genre Award and last English language genre Award for a novel following garnering another BSFA Award for Feersum Endjinn, one of four SF novels that he wrote that’s not set in the Culture, the others being The AlgebraistTransition and Against a Dark Background.

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born June 16, 1894 — Mahlon Blaine. Illustrator who’s largely of interest here for his work on the covers of the Canaveral Press editions in 1962 of some Edgar Rice Burroughs editions. He told Gershon Legman who would put together The Art of Mahlon Blaine “that he designed the 1925 film, The Thief of Bagdad, but Arrington says that his name doesn’t appear in any of the published credits.” He also claimed to have worked on Howard Hawks’ Scarface, but IMDB has no credits for him. (Died 1964.)
  • Born June 16, 1896 — Murray Leinster. It is said that he wrote and published more than fifteen hundred short stories and articles, fourteen movie scripts, and hundreds of radio scripts and television plays. Among those was his 1945 Hugo winning “First Contact” novella which is one of the first (if not the first) instances of a universal translator in science fiction. So naturally his heirs sued Paramount Pictures over Star Trek: First Contact, claiming that it infringed their trademark in the term. However, the suit was dismissed. I’m guessing they filed just a bit late given the universal translator was used in Trek prior to that film. (Died 1975.)
  • Born June 16, 1939 — David McDaniel. A prolific writer of The Man from U.N.C.L.E. novels, penning seven of them with such names as The Vampire Affair and The Hollow Crown Affair. He also wrote a novel for The Prisoner series, The Prisoner: Number Two. As a fan, he was quite active in LASFS, serving as its Director, writing various APAs and is remembered as a “Patron Saint” which is to say he financially support the a Club. (Died 1977.)
  • Born June 16, 1920 — T. E. Dikty. One of our earliest anthologists and publishers. At Shasta Publishers, with E. F. Bleiler, he published the first “Best of the Year” SF anthologies, The Best Science Fiction, which ran from 1949 until 1957. He did a handful of later anthologies. He also edited two issues of Fantasy Digest in 1939, and as the editor of Tenth Anniversary Program of World Science-Fiction Convention. (Died 1991.)
  • Born June 16, 1940 — Carole Ann Ford, 81. Best known for her roles as Susan Foreman in  Doctor Who, and as Bettina in  of The Day of the Triffids. Ford appeared in the one-off 50th-anniversary comedy homage The Five(ish) Doctors Reboot.
  • Born June 16, 1957 — Ian Buchanan, 64. Best remembered as Dick Tremayne on Twin Peaks. He’s done one-offs on the first Flash series, Quantum Leap, voice roles on GargoylesBatman: The Brave and the BoldBatman Beyond and Justice LeagueCharmed and Stargate SG-1
  • Born June 16, 1962 — Arnold Vosloo, 59. His best remembered role is as Dr. Peyton Westlake / Darkman in Darkman II and Darkman III, andImhotep inThe Mummy and The Mummy Returns. He’s done several notable voice roles, first as Black Adam in Shazam!: The Return of Black Adam, and Abin Sur in Green Lantern: Emerald Knights
  • Born June 16, 1972 — Andy Weir, 49. His debut novel, The Martian, was later adapted into a film of the same name directed by Ridley Scott. He received the Astounding Award for Best New Writer. His next two novels are Artemis and Project Hail Mary. Intriguingly, he’s written one piece of Sherlockian fan fiction, “James Moriarty, Consulting Criminal“ which is only available as an Audible audiobook. 

(10) COMICS SECTION.

  • Bizarro shows two well-known comics antagonist trying to shrink their problems.
  • Tom Gauld’s cartoon, one fan claimed, is what attending this year’s ConFusion Eastercon was like. (Click on image.)

(11) BOOSTING GRAPHIC NOVELS IN LIBRARIES. [Item by Michael Toman.] Am pleased to report that the Overbooked (Overwhelmed?) Undersigned has had a pretty good success rate with his “Suggestions for Purchase” for Graphic Novels at all of the local Los Angeles area libraries where he has cards over the years. Would be delighted to have more Interested Library Users get involved, too! “Libraries Look to Sustain Surge in Graphic Novels” reports Publishers Weekly.

…In February, the GNCRT accomplished one of its key goals with the release of the first Best Graphic Novels for Adults list. Nominations were taken throughout 2020, and the final list includes more than 50 titles. It’s a big achievement because adult librarians have traditionally been reluctant to start graphic novel collections and have had the burden of starting to build them from scratch with fewer resources than children’s librarians.

“The adult list was needed, because adult librarians are among the last holdouts of librarians who don’t want to buy graphic novels,” Volin says. “This list has been incredibly helpful for librarians who don’t know anything about the format and who rely on selection lists, or for librarians limited by their collection policy to only purchase things that have been reviewed positively. A book showing up on a selection list like this almost guarantees that they’re going to be able to purchase it.”

Matthew Noe, lead collection and knowledge management librarian at Countway Library at Harvard Medical School and incoming president of the GNCRT, helped launch the adult graphic novel list. He has already seen displays at his local libraries with books from the 2020 list. He confirms that this is a big step for recognizing the category within libraries. “We harp on the legitimacy thing all the time, but this lends some weight to the medium,” he adds….

(12) KNOCK ON SPOCK. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In the June 12 Financial Times, Tim Harford discusses Julia Galaf’s The Scout Mindset, which has extensive discussion about Spock.

Spock’s model of other minds is badly flawed.  For example, in an early ‘Star Trek” episode, ‘The Galileo Seven’. Spock and his subordinates have crashed a small ship and face hostile aliens who kill one crew member. Spock decides to deter any future attacks by firing warning shots.  The aliens respond not by retreating in fear, but by attacking in anger, killing another member of the crew.

‘Most illogical reaction,’ comments Spock. “(When) we demonstrated our superior weapons, they should have fled…I’m not responsible for their unpredictability.’

To which Dr  McCoy   rages in response:  ‘They were perfectly predictable, to anyone with feeling.’

Spock is not being rational here, but the problem is not that he lacks feeling, rather he lacks the capacity to learn from experience.  He should have realised aggression is often met with aggression.

(13) MOVING UP TO THE WEST SIDE. New York YIMBY specializes in eye-catching architecture, like this eye-catching plan for some Manhattan condos.

…“Era is unlike any building on the Upper West Side with its unique cantilever structure that was developed to provide spacious residential layouts with various exposures to maximize fresh air and natural light, a collection of luxury amenity offerings, and a rooftop complete with a rare outdoor pool and expansive views of the Hudson River and Manhattan skyline,” said Omri Sachs, co-founder of Adam America Real Estate.

(14) THE DINO EGG IS IN THE MAIL. “Italian Customs Authorities Seized a Dinosaur Egg Hidden In a Package” reports Vice.

Italian authorities discovered an authentic fossilized dinosaur egg during a routine customs check, the Customs and Monopolies Agency announced on Sunday. 

In a Facebook post, authorities said that the egg had been found at Milan Bergamo Airport in Northern Italy in a package sent from Malaysia. A video embedded in the post appears to show a large and strikingly intact, pasty-colored egg. 

“Even dinosaurs pass through customs,” the Facebook post reads. “As part of [customs] checks on e-commerce goods aimed at fighting the illegal import of goods, we found an authentic fossil egg embedded in a rocky sediment inside a package […] This discovery was accompanied by a certificate of origin with dubious authenticity issued by an organization which was later found to be non-existent.”… 

(15) THE TITLE IS ACCURATE. Old West meets magic in Wizard With a Gun, a multiplayer survival adventure game announced at Devolver’s MaxPass+ showcase. Wizard With a Gun is coming to Nintendo Switch and PC in 2022.

(16) THEY FORGOT TO DUST. “Mystery of Betelgeuse’s dip in brightness solved”European Southern Observatory has the details. [Hat-tip to Paul Weimer.]

Betelgeuse’s dip in brightness — a change noticeable even to the naked eye — led Miguel Montargès and his team to point ESO’s VLT towards the star in late 2019. An image from December 2019, when compared to an earlier image taken in January of the same year, showed that the stellar surface was significantly darker, especially in the southern region. But the astronomers weren’t sure why.

The team continued observing the star during its Great Dimming, capturing two other never-before-seen images in January 2020 and March 2020. By April 2020, the star had returned to its normal brightness.

“For once, we were seeing the appearance of a star changing in real time on a scale of weeks,” says Montargès, from the Observatoire de Paris, France, and KU Leuven, Belgium. The images now published are the only ones we have that show Betelgeuse’s surface changing in brightness over time.

In their new study, published today in Nature, the team revealed that the mysterious dimming was caused by a dusty veil shading the star, which in turn was the result of a drop in temperature on Betelgeuse’s stellar surface.

Betelgeuse’s surface regularly changes as giant bubbles of gas move, shrink and swell within the star. The team concludes that some time before the Great Dimming, the star ejected a large gas bubble that moved away from it. When a patch of the surface cooled down shortly after, that temperature decrease was enough for the gas to condense into solid dust.

“We have directly witnessed the formation of so-called stardust,” says Montargès, whose study provides evidence that dust formation can occur very quickly and close to a star’s surface.

(17) TIME ENOUGH FOR ROVE. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] A new simulation claims to show that even taking slow ships there has been far, far more than enough time since the era of galactic formation for an advanced civilization to spread throughout a Milky Way sized galaxy. Gizmodo has the story: “Aliens Wouldn’t Need Warp Drives to Take Over an Entire Galaxy, Simulation Suggests”. At the link you can see a video clip.

…A simulation produced by the team shows the process at work, as a lone technological civilization, living in a hypothetical Milky Way-like galaxy, begins the process of galactic expansion. Grey dots in the visualization represent unsettled stars, magenta spheres represent settled stars, and the white cubes are starships in transit. The computer code and the mathematical analysis for this was project were written at the University of Rochester by Jonathan Carroll-Nellenback. Astronomer Adam Frank from the University of Rochester also participated in the study….

(18) VIDEO OF THE DAY. In “Honest Game Trailers: Biomutant” on YouTube, Fandom Games says Biomutant is an example of the rare “cute furry animals with guns” genre where the protagonist is “basically Sid from the Ice Age movies as a mass murderer.”

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

Pixel Scroll 5/21/21 And The “Best Of” That Was Planted In My Brain Still Remains Atop The Very Lengthy Wishlist

(1) AUTHOR’S COMMENTS. Nghi Vo, the author, shared 16 notes and 16 highlights from The Empress of Salt and Fortune (The Singing Hills Cycle, #1) at Goodreads.

This novella has everything to do with the dead: the dead lost, the dead loved, and the dead by the wider world forgotten. These are the first dead people we meet, and it was important to me that they be nameless, rendered useful through some indifferent court sorcerer’s work decades ago. This is all we get of them, and they are far less glamorous than the ghost who shows up just a few paragraphs later, the one who has a name, a family line, and a title (the title of this novella, as a matter of fact).

(2) EATING THE FANTASTIC. Scott Edelman invites listeners to “Nibble prosciutto bread with Nebula and Hugo Award-nominated writer Nino Cipri” on Episode 145 of the Eating the Fantastic podcase.

Nino Cipri

Nino Cipri is on both the Nebula and Hugo Awards ballots for their novella Finna. Its sequel, Defekt, was released last month. Their 2019 story collection Homesick won the Dzanc Short Fiction Collection Prize, was a finalist for the World Fantasy and Shirley Jackson awards, and was chosen as one of the top 10 books on the ALA’s Over the Rainbow Reading List. Their fiction has been published in TordotcomFiresideNightmareDaily Science Fiction, and other places. Their YA horror debut, Burned and Buried, will be published by Holt Young Readers in 2022.

We discussed how they made peace with the heat death of the universe, the way their favorite endings also feel like beginnings, the false assumption things will always get better, how their award-nominated novella started out as a screenplay, their trouble with titles and fascination with trees, the many pleasures of ambiguity, how we almost lost them to mortuary science, why they’ve been called a verbal terrorist, and much more.

(3) GREENLIGHT. Hugh Howey tells how “The WOOL TV show” finally made it over the event horizon.

Well, the news is out. In fact, the news seems to be everywhere (VarietyDeadlineHollywood ReporterTorCollider). Which means I can finally talk about it.

WOOL is coming to Apple TV in partnership with AMC.

I’ve written about the origin of the WOOL novels in the past, so I won’t bore you with that. But the road to adapting the trilogy for the screen has been just as wild and twisty. It started back when I was still working in a bookstore, watching my sales take off, and I had to violate my boss’s policy of having cell phones at our desk because I was expecting a call from Ridley Scott and Steve Zaillian.

It was around this time that I put in my two-weeks notice. Not because I was fielding calls from legends of cinema, but I was starting to earn more from my book sales than I was from selling other people’s books. It was going to be a better use of my time to write more stories. Back then, all I wanted was to support myself with my art, rather than doing it on the side. I didn’t take the film deal seriously, because I knew that these projects don’t actually get made. I wrote a Twitter thread about this recently. Nothing ever gets made.

I was right, but it wasn’t for lack of trying. The folks at Fox produced two excellent scripts and attached a few directors, and we nearly crested the hill once or twice. But I kept my expectations low the entire time. I’ve watched others go through development hell over the years and knew how easily the wheels can come off. …

The long and short of it is that this isn’t a normal “hey this thing got optioned” announcement. It’s a “people are building sets and going over their lines” announcement. Sound stages are booked. Travel plans are being made. We might just be over the hill….

(4) BEYOND PANTSING. Calvin Fisher agrees that in generally just getting words down is the way to draft – but he says there are exceptions: “First Drafts – What is Important to Nail”.

Last week, I went over some elements of your draft that are easy to fix up in subsequent drafts; as a result, it is often more beneficial to just get words on the page for these elements, instead of fretting about them and letting them slow your progress down. On the flipside of the coin, there are a few story elements that are important to get right in your first draft. If they need changes down the line, they can be significantly more time-consuming to fix later on.

In Northfield, a large portion of my time into editing went into fixing logical inconsistencies and continuity errors. For instance, if characters went from A to B, the reasoning would sometimes be unclear, or there would be a more sensible option sitting right in my face. I then either had to clarify the reasoning, or I had to change the characters’ journey to follow a different route. Even minor changes were incredibly time consuming. Rewriting a passage is the least of it. Because something about the plot changed, I would often have to go and rewrite multiple other passages that referenced the plot point I changed. From there, I would have to re-read through the novel, to make sure every dialogue and narrative passage incorporated the change.

Because of this, I would highly suggest having a solid grasp of your plot. Not only on the bullet points of what happens, but the reasoning of WHY for each element….

(5) SOUNDS ABOUT RIGHT. Leonard Maltin interviews famed movie sound creator for Maltin on Movies: Ben Burtt.

Four-time Oscar winner Ben Burtt has crafted and created sounds we all know—from the heavy-breathing of Darth Vader to the pops and squeaks of R2D2, not to mention the voices of WALL-E and E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial. He’s been obsessed with sounds since he was a boy and has never lost that passion, which comes through in everything he does—including this interview with two of his biggest fans, Leonard and Jessie. (Did someone say Wilhelm?)

(6) TODAY’S DAY.

Today is May 21st, known to many as Empire Day, the anniversary of when The Empire Strikes Back opened in theaters.

Here’s an excerpt from my book, “Star Wars Memories”, about what happened that night.

Opening Night for The Empire Strikes Back

Officially, The Empire Strikes Back was opening on Wednesday evening, May 21st. But there were theaters which would have their first showings earlier that day. Mid-afternoon. Maybe even in the morning.

But the Egyptian Theater in Hollywood was going to be having its first showing at one minute after midnight Tuesday night. Technically very, very early Wednesday morning.

This was, of course, the theater that the fans were standing in line in front of on Monday morning.

A few of us from the publicity department went down early, to meet and mingle with the people in line. Or I should say “lines”. There were people in line for the 12:01 am screening. The 2:30 am screening. And the 5:00 am screening. The lines wrapped all the way around the block….

That’s just the beginning of the story. Some others claim today is —

To celebrate how?

Yoda, talk like. Simple, it is. Add verb and subject at the end of your sentence in the order of object-subject-verb.

(7) MEDIA ANNIVERSARY.

  • May 21, 1985 Ray Bradbury Theater premiered on HBO.  It ran for two seasons on there from 1985 to 1986, and then for four additional seasons on USA Network from 1988 to 1992. All 65 episodes were written by Bradbury and many were based on works he had previously written. The Ray Bradbury Theater site has the best look at the series. You can watch the first episode, “Marionettes, Inc.“ here.

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]

  • Born May 21, 1471 – Albrecht Dürer.  Engravings, paintings, watercolors, woodcuts; printmaker; theorist.  The 15 Apocalypse pictures, or Knight, Death, and the Devilor Melencolia I, are each enough to make him an immortal fantasist.  (Died 1528) [JH]
  • Born May 21, 1688 – Alexander Pope.  Secondmost quoted author in English (after Shakespeare); e.g. “damning with faint praise”.  Mock-heroic epic The Rape of the Lock (“lock” i.e. of hair; “rape” meaning “carry away by force”, same root as “raptor”) has sylphs.  Superb translations – if you are mainly looking for what wonderful English poetry AP could make, not accuracy, because you know enough Greek to read the original, as Sam Johnson did, or don’t care – of Homer’s Iliad and (with collaborators) Odyssey.  (Died 1744) [JH]
  • Born May 21, 1889 — Arthur Hohl. He’s Mr. Montgomery, the man who helps Richard Arlen and Leila Hyams to make their final escape in Island of Lost Souls, the 1932 adaptation of H.G. Wells’ The Island of Dr. Moreau which is considered the first such filming of that novel. Gene adjacent, he’ll show later in The Adventures of Sherlock HolmesThe Three Musketeers and The Devil-Doll. (Died 1964.) (CE)
  • Born May 21, 1903 — Manly Wade Wellman. I remember reading the John the Balladeer collection Karl E. Wagner did and then seeking out the rest of those stories. Amazing stuff! I liked the Complete John Thunstone when I read it a few years back. — strongly recommended. What else by him should I read?  (Died 1986.) (CE)
  • Born May 21, 1911 – Virginia Haviland.  Librarian, author, folklorist, student of children’s literature.  Reviewed for The Horn Book thirty years.  Sixteen volumes of Favorite Fairy Tales, one each for Czechoslovakia, Denmark, England, France, Germany, Greece, India, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Norway, Poland, Russia, Scotland, Spain, Sweden.  Founded Center for Children’s Literature, U.S. Lib’y of Congress.  Kate Greenaway Medal for The Mother Goose Treasury.  Regina Medal.  Grolier Award.  Simmons Univ. gives a Virginia Haviland scholarship.  (Died 1988) [JH]
  • Born May 21, 1915 — Bill Williams. He appeared on Science Fiction Theater in five different roles, and played The Millionaire on Batman in “Fine Finny Fiends” and “ Batman Makes the Scenes”. He also made an appearance on The Wild Wild West in “Night of the Casual Killer“ as Marshal Kirby. He also did a lot of seriously pulpish SF films such as Space Master X-7. (Died 1992) (CE)
  • Born May 21, 1918 — Jeanne Bates. She’s Diana Palmer in the Forties The Phantom serial, possibly the first one done. Her first genre was as Miss Norcutt in The Return of the Vampire, an unauthorized sequel to Lugosi’s 1931 Universal Studios film Dracula. Most of the films she’s known for are such horror films such as The Soul of a Monster and Back from the Dead. (Died 2007.) (CE)
  • Born May 21, 1945 — Richard Hatch. He’s best known for his role as Captain Apollo in Battlestar Galactica. He is also widely known for his role as Tom Zarek in the second Battlestar Galactica series. He also wrote a series of Battlestar Galactica franchise novels co-authored with Christopher Golden, Stan Timmons, Alan Rodgers and Brad Linaweaver. (Died 2017.) (CE)
  • Born May 21, 1951 – Broeck Steadman, age70.  Eighty covers, two hundred sixty interiors, for AnalogAsimov’s (see here), Realms of FantasySF Age; books, see herehere; postage stamps, see herehere; murals, see herehere.  Keeps bees. Twenty years running an art school with up to forty students a week.  Has done art for liquor bottles, soda cans, cars, jet planes, computers, toothpaste, chocolate.  [JH]
  • Born May 21, 1953 — Trevor Cooper, 68. He plays Takis in the Sixth Doctor story, “Revelation of the Daleks“, and then will show up as Friar Tuck in a Twelfth Doctor story, “Robot of Sherwood”.   He’s currently playing Colin Devis in Star Cops, and he was Simeon in the Wizards vs. Aliens series before that.(CE)
  • Born May 21, 1958 – Jeff Canfield.  Photographer, system-software specialist, Formula Vee racer (he drove a Viper, which ought to count).  Recruited Kevin Standlee.  One of four founding directors, San Francisco Science Fiction Conventions, Inc.  Deputy vice-chair of 51st Worldcon, editor of its Program Book, timekeeper of its Preliminary Business Meeting, and its Speaker to Dr. Evil.  See here.  (Died 2014) [JH]
  • Born May 21, 1984 – Jackson Pearce, age 37.  As You Wish, young-adult urban fantasy; four books based on Little Red Riding HoodHansel & GretelThe Little MermaidThe Snow Queen.  With Maggie Stiefvater, Pip Bartlett’s Guide to Magical Creatures, two more.  Tsarina (as by J. Nelle Patrick), historical fantasy.  YouTube channel with 200 videos, 12,000 subscribers.  Her Website says “Young Adult 58%, Middle Grade 42%, Baked Goods 85%, Glitter 100%”.  [JH]

(9) COMICS SECTION.

(10) PEACH MOMOKO. Titan Comics is bringing out a portfolio that showcases the covers of Peach Momoko from the best-selling Horizon Zero Dawn comic. Each cover is removable to display as a high-quality poster. Goes on sale September 7.  

PEACH MOMOKO is a Japanese illustrator who began exhibiting at US comic conventions back in 2014 and saw American publication with a couple of stories picked up by Grant Morrison when he was EIC of Heavy Metal Magazine. Since then, she has become the hottest cover art variant creator in the business, increasingly in demand, drawing over a dozen covers for American publishers every month.

Here is the portfolio cover and two interior pages.

(11) MARVEL REPRESENTATION. Men’sHealth’s cover story on Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings interviews “Simu Liu on Playing Marvel’s First Asian Superhero Shang-Chi” and in the process gets some important quotes from Marvel Studios’ Kevin Feige.

WHEN MARVEL STUDIOS announced Shang-Chi in 2018, Liu uttered the same “WTF” as every other comic-book fan. He remembers staying up late and scouring the Marvel web to learn about the character, and the more he uncovered, the more he grew disenchanted. Instead of raiding the comics for an ultrastrong hero (like Amadeus Cho, the Korean Hulk) or superhero royalty (like Namor, Marvel’s version of Aquaman), Marvel found its first Asian lead in?.?.?.?a Bruce Lee clone. Shang-Chi was created in the 1970s because Marvel wanted a version of Lee, and he’s the son of Fu Manchu, perhaps the worst Chinese stereotype. Early stories had him speaking in broken-English phrases. His superpower? Kung fu. “I was almost disappointed,” Liu says. “I was like, how many opportunities do we have for Asian superheroes, and this one guy is, like, just a kung fu master? It just felt kind of reductive and, you know, not true to life and not anything that I could relate to.”

It seemed like another misstep from Marvel, which had repeatedly slighted Asians. Twice in the studio’s first decade, MCU films rewrote iconic Asian characters onscreen, first whitewashing the villainous Mandarin into Ben Kingsley in 2013’s Iron Man 3, then casting Tilda Swinton as the Ancient One in 2016’s Doctor Strange. Swinton’s casting, after ten years of films with next to no Asian representation, was especially vexing, since the film still placed her character in Nepal, a South Asian country. Marvel initially claimed it had chosen Swinton to prevent the character from fulfilling an Asian stereotype. Fans called bullshit. Five years later, Marvel head Kevin Feige doesn’t argue. “We thought we were being so smart and so cutting-edge,” he told me in a Zoom interview. “We’re not going to do the cliché of the wizened, old, wise Asian man. But it was a wake-up call to say, ‘Well, wait a minute, is there any other way to figure it out? Is there any other way to both not fall into the cliché and cast an Asian actor?’ And the answer to that, of course, is yes.”

Since Marvel Studios’ inception, Feige says, the studio has had a binder of “great characters who could make great movies regardless of how famous they were.” Shang-Chi was in that binder, because stereotypes aside, it’s a very Disney story: In the comics, the character discovers his father’s true nature, fakes his own death, and runs away. “You break through that and become a hero,” says Feige. “It was always a really, really great story.” Because of the character’s obscurity, Marvel could reinvent Shang-Chi in ways it couldn’t alter Spider-Man or Captain America. The MCU version can (and will) fight, but his new origin story cuts deeper. “It’s about having a foot in both worlds,” says Feige, “in the North American world and in China. And Simu fits that quite well.”

(12) THEY CHECK IN, BUT… How did Hotel California end up in Florida? “Disney’s Upcoming Star Wars Hotel Has 1 Small Caveat: You’re Not Allowed to Leave” reports Yahoo!

Before you blast off to Walt Disney World to stay in its Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser hotel when it opens in 2022, there’s a little something you should know first: you’re not allowed to leave after check-in. 

Yup, the Disney Star Wars Hotel is an immersive three-day, two-night experience that involves operating a spaceship, going to battle, and much more. The hotel is anything but a vacation – in fact, you’re even given a space communicator that resembles a cell phone for “resistance meetings.” Similar to an escape room, you have to stay until the experience is complete (you’ll be in space, after all), so prepare for a fun (and perhaps exhausting) 60 hours. The good news is that the hotel has a lounge called the “Silver C” where you can sip on strong adult beverages from around the world and play a few rounds of Sabaac to unwind….

(13) SEA IT NOW. SYFY Wire tells why we should be surprised: “Ancient, alien-looking corals and crinoids are still living in symbiosis”.

If all the eldritch things that lurk at the bottom of the sea, crinoids, many of which appear to be submerged lilies from an alien world, have to be some of the weirdest. They only get weirder if they have many-tentacled corals sticking to them.

These creatures only sound fictional. Some 273 million years ago, any evidence of a symbiotic relationship between Metacrinus rotundus crinoids and non-skeletal coral species Abyssoanthus and Metridioidea hexacorals vanished from the fossil record. Now they have resurfaced out of nowhere (unless some intervention with the Great Old Ones was involved) — and not as fossils. These life-forms still exist in symbiosis (shown above), with the hexacoral catching an easy meal from whatever might come the crinoid’s way as it sways back and forth….

(14) EARLY SENDAK. Publishers Weekly reports:

Through July 10, readers of Maurice Sendak will have the opportunity to view original drawings by the acclaimed children’s book author and illustrator that have not previously been shown to the public at the exhibit and sale “Maurice Sendak: Genius of American Picture Books,” now open at the Society of Illustrators headquarters in New York and available via a virtual tour and catalogue on the Society’s website. Pictured here is one of the exhibit’s highlights: Sendak’s first published book illustration, created for his science teacher in 1946 as a high school project, titled ‘Seven Boys Pulling on a Horse.’

(15) VIDEO OF THE DAY. VFXcool: Flight of the Navigator analyzes the popular film’s special effects.

Sometimes a movie is objectively good and sometimes it’s subjectively amazing because you saw it at the right time and were the target audience. It ignited your imagination, shook you with possibilities. As far as I’m concerned, Flight of the Navigator is such a film.

It’s a classic tale. You know: a boy has a crush on a girl, gets kidnapped by an AI spaceship from another galaxy, returns eight years later having not aged a day, becomes the subject of intense study by the all-powerful… NASA, manages to escape their clutches, reunites with the spaceship, which needs navigation data it stored in his brain, and goes on a joyride around the world, never even thinking about his crush again!

If that doesn’t sound awesome, then you weren’t a kid in 1986. And that’s on you.

But as a… kind of adult now, I admit, the unusual tone of the movie may have partly been an accident, a result of two companies pulling in two different directions. For the American audience, Disney wanted heart-warming family drama. For the international market, PSO needed less dialogue, more action-driven spectacle.

And somehow, against all odds, despite a bunch of similar genre movies failing at the box office the previous year, the director, Randal Kleiser, pulled it off. He made a film that leaps effortlessly from wild flying chases to heart-to-heart chats, to moody musical interludes, composed by Alan Silvestri…

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

2021 IAFA Crawford Award

The Empress of Salt and Fortune by Nghi_Vo, art by Alyssa Winans
The Empress of Salt and Fortune by Nghi_Vo, art by Alyssa Winans

The winner of the 2021 William L. Crawford Fantasy Award, presented annually by the International Association for the Fantastic in the Arts for a first book of fantasy, is Nghi Vo for The Empress of Salt and Fortune (Tordotcom). Award administrator Gary K. Wolfe shared the news via Locus Online on March 3.

The other finalists on this year’s Crawford shortlist are Night Roll, Michael DeLuca (Stelliform), Everyone on the Moon is Essential Personnel, Julian Jarboe (Lethe), Flyaway, Kathleen Jennings (Tordotcom), In Veritas, C.J. LaVigne (NeWest), and Beneath the Rising, Premee Mohamed (Solaris)

Participating in this year’s nomination and selection process were previous Crawford winners Candas Jane Dorsey and Jedediah Berry, as well as Karen Burnham, Mimi Mondal, and Cheryl Morgan.

The award will be presented during the virtual 42nd International Conference on the Fantastic in the Arts.

[Via Locus Online.]

2020 Novellapalooza

stack of books ©canstockphoto / olegd

[Editor’s note: be sure to read the comments on this post for more novellas and more Filer reviews.]

By JJ:

TL;DR: Here’s what I thought of the 2020 Novellas. What did you think?

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). I ended up reading:

  • 31 of the novellas published in 2015,
  • 35 of the novellas published in 2016,
  • 50 of the novellas published in 2017,
  • 38 of the novellas published in 2018,
  • 57 of the 2019 novellas,
  • and this year I was waiting for access to a few novellas from my library, so I was reading others, and thus my final total crept up to 59!

The result of these reading sprees were

I really felt as though this enabled me to do Hugo nominations for the Novella category in an informed way, and a lot of Filers got involved with their own comments. So I’m doing it again this year.

It is not at all uncommon for me to choose to read a book despite not feeling that the jacket copy makes the book sound as though it is something I would like – and to discover that I really like or love the work anyway. On the other hand, It is not at all uncommon for me to choose to read a book which sounds as though it will be up my alley and to discover that, actually, the book doesn’t really do much for me.

Thus, my opinions on the following novellas vary wildly: stories I thought I would love but didn’t, stories I didn’t expect to love but did, and stories which aligned with my expectations – whether high or low.

Bear in mind that while I enjoy both, I tend to prefer Science Fiction over Fantasy – and that while I enjoy suspense and thrillers, I have very little appreciation for Horror (and to be honest, I think Lovecraft is way overrated). What’s more, I apparently had a defective childhood, and I do not share a lot of peoples’ appreciation for fairytale retellings and portal fantasies. My personal assessments are therefore not intended to be the final word on these stories, but merely a jumping-off point for Filer discussion.

Novellas are listed in two sections below. The first section, those with cover art, are the ones I have read, and they include mini-reviews by me. These are in approximate order from most-favorite to least-favorite (but bear in mind that after around the first dozen listed, there was not a large degree of difference in preference among most of the remainder, with the exception of a handful at the bottom). The second section is those novellas I haven’t read, in alphabetical order by title.

I’ve included plot summaries, and where I could find them, links to either excerpts or the full stories which can be read online for free. Some short novels which fall between 40,000 and 48,000 words (within the Hugo Novella category tolerance) have been included, and in a couple of cases, novelettes which were long enough to be in the Hugo Novella tolerance were also included.

Please feel free to post comments about 2020 novellas which you’ve read, as well. And if I’ve missed your File 770 comment about a novella, or an excerpt for a novella, please point me to it!

If you see something that looks like gibberish, it is text that has been ROT-13’ed to avoid spoilers. (Please be sure to rot-13 any spoilers.)

(fair notice: all Amazon links are referrer URLs which benefit non-profit SFF fan website Worlds Without End)
Continue reading

Pixel Scroll 1/3/21 Short Pixels Have No Reason To Scroll

(1) DAVID WEBER UPDATES. His fans are keeping each other abreast of the progress of David Weber’s COVID treatment.

  • Ralston Stahler quoted Weber’s update about the first day in the hospital:
David Weber

From David Weber

Well, they just admitted me to the hospital Covid floor. O2 level had fallen to about 83%. Got it back up to 88 or so, but still not good and the fever was spiking again. So our lovely daughter Morgan Rice-Weber drove her dads butt to the ER, where they told me there was a 95% chance they’d keep me. I sent her on home, they hooked me up to an IV, and told me they are going to pretty much blast me with everything they’ve got, including steroids, plasma, and all that other stuff. Got here about 3:30, I think, but it was closing in on 7 before they could find me a bed. SUPER nurses, and everyone is taking really good care of me.

Fever has broken, O2 level is up to 95%, but they don’t like the chest X-rays, so I’m pretty sure they’ll be keeping me for a bit.

I am feeling a LOT better, and the girls are keeping an eye on Sharon Rice-Weber to make sure she’s watching HER O2.

Update: copied from Mr Weber’s post: Therapy proceeding. We’re on top of the fever; the high blood pressure looks like it’s under control; hydration levels look good. Still having trouble keeping the O2 up. They’ve got me on a pressure setting of 6, and I’m still dropping into the upper 80s whenever I move around. Takes a minute or two to get back up to the 90s once I’m back off my feet. Problem seems to be getting the lung function up to speed again. I’m confident we’re moving in the right direction, but it’s gonna take however long it takes.

(2) INSTANT WINNER. Nghi Vo on Twitter:

(3) THE RULE OF THREE. Fansided’s Daniel DeVita reports on an opinionated Patrick Rothfuss livestream: “Kingkiller author Patrick Rothfuss decries ‘the George R.R. Martin effect’”.

Kingkiller Chronicle author Patrick Rothfuss can’t get into The Wheel of Time, praises George R.R. Martin but not his imitators, and HATES The Witcher….

…At one point, someone in the stream notes that fantasy authors seem to be in a competition with each other to have as many characters as possible, which is true. Rothfuss thinks he knows how this trend got started:

“I think of that as the George Martin effect. Where Martin is an author who has a ton of craft under his belt — he’s been writing for ages in many different ways — and he started Game of Thrones, and all of those books had multiple point-of-view characters to achieve a specific effect in this huge world-spanning story he was telling, and he had the craft to pull it off. And then everyone’s like, ‘I wanna do a Game of Thrones, too.’ And I’m like, ‘No, you can’t, it’s too many characters, you’re not that good.’ And you certainly don’t get that many point-of-view characters. Here’s the rule: if you’re starting a novel, you can have three point-of-view characters, and that’s it. And you probably shouldn’t have that many.”

Rothfuss also talks about Terry Goodkind’s The Sword of Truth series (he enjoyed the first two books but eventually dropped it) and touched on the work of Brandon Sanderson, who finished off The Wheel of Time after Robert Jordan died and has several long multi-volume fantasy stories of his own. “I’d read a lot of Brandon Sanderson’s books, for a while I’d read most of them. But now, he’s got so many, he just writes so much, I’m far behind.”

(4) LOOKING AHEAD. Paul Eisenberg interviews members of the Chicago Worldcon 2022 committee: “Landmarks: With an eye toward the future, new year a good time to consider the literature of ideas — especially those of science fiction” in the Chicago Tribune.

…While other gatherings of fans, such as Chicago’s C2E2, are run by businesses and are profit-driven enterprises (albeit still very fun, Levy said), events such as Chicago’s Worldcon, specifically called Chicon 8, are run by volunteers and financed solely by attendees, known as members.

Chicago’s bid, which overwhelmingly won over a bid from Jiddah, Saudi Arabia, was awarded at the virtual 2020 Worldcon, which had been slated to be in Wellington, New Zealand. The 2021 event had previously been awarded to Washington, D.C. There’s no word as of yet if the 2021 event will be an in-person gathering.

The pandemic permeates all things these days, and even events rooted firmly in the imagination are not immune. But being immersed in a style of literature that offers ideas and different perspectives is a plus when it comes to dealing with the mundane and often depressing details of life in the time of the novel coronavirus….

(5) NOW THAT YOU MENTION IT. Just stuff a person reading the Wikipedia could come across on any random day, don’t ya think? 

(6) VASTER THAN TOMES. Listchallenges confronts readers with a checklist of “100 ‘Big Fat Books Worth the Effort’”. Cliff, who sent the link, scored 19 on this one. I scored 20/100.

(7) RING IN THE NEW YEAR. Yahoo! Entertainment ups your trivia IQ with “JRR Tolkien’s ‘Lord of the Rings’: 15 Facts About ‘Fellowship of the Ring’”. Here are two —

…Christopher Lee is the only member of the cast or crew to have met Tolkien. In fact, Lee mentioned in the extended cut commentary for “Fellowship” that Tolkien had given him his blessing to play Gandalf in any potential film adaptation of “LOTR.” But when Lee auditioned for Gandalf, he was asked to play Saruman instead, as it was believed he was too old to play Gandalf. Lee accepted the role, but agreed that Ian McKellen was right for Gandalf.

Viggo Mortensen initially didn’t have much interest in playing Aragorn, but took the role after his Tolkien-loving son, Henry, pleaded for him to accept the role. After learning more about Aragorn, Mortensen viewed the character’s sword as the key element to his character and carried it with him at all times during filming, even when he was not on set….

(8) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

  • January 3, 1993  — Star Trek: Deep Space Nine premiered in syndication. The fourth spin-off of the original series (counting the animated run) was the first developed after the death of Roddenberry, created by Rick Berman and Michael Piller. It starred Avery Brooks, René Auberjonois, Terry Farrell, Cirroc Lofton, Colm Meaney, Armin Shimerman, Alexander Siddig, Nana Visitor and Michael Dorn. It would run for seven seasons and one hundred and seventy-six episodes. It would be nominated for two Hugo Awards but wouldn’t win either. 

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]

  • Born January 3, 1892 J.R.R. Tolkien. I’ll admit that to this day I much prefer The Hobbit to The Lord of The Rings. There’s a joy, a pleasure in that novel that I just don’t get in the trilogy. I’m currently listening to the Andy Serkis narration of The Hobbit which I highly recommend. (Died 1973.) (CE) 
  • Born January 3, 1898 – Doris Buck.  A score of short stories, including “Cacophony in Pink and Ochre” long announced as part of The Last Dangerous Visions so not yet published; as many poems.  Mostly in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction.  Founding member of SFWA (now Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America) and on the first Nebula ballot.  Anthologized by Knight, Silverberg, Biggle.  (Died 1980) [JH]
  • Born January 3, 1930 – Stephen Fabian, age 91.  Radio & radar in the Air Force, then twenty years’ electronics engineering while active as a fanartist, then pro career (self-taught) while continuing fanart.  Here is Progress Report 3 for Noreascon I the 29th Worldcon.  Here is SF Review 29.  Here is SF, a Teacher’s Guide & Resource Book.  Here is the Dec 74 Galaxy.  Here is Refugees from an Imaginary Country, hello Darrell Schweitzer.  Several artbooks e.g. Women & Wonders (using his cover for The Dragon of the Ishtar Gate).  Three hundred forty covers, fourteen hundred twenty interiors.  Dungeons & Dragons artwork 1986-1995.  World Fantasy Award for life achievement.  [JH]
  • Born January 3, 1937 Glen A. Larson. Triple hitter as a producer, writer and director. Involved in Battlestar GalacticaGalactica 1980The Six Million Dollar Man, Manimal (no, really don’t ask), Buck Rogers in the 25th Century, and Knight Rider. He also was responsible for Magnum, P.I. which I love but I’ll be damned if I can figure anyway to claim that’s even genre adjacent thought I think one of you will figure a way. He also did a lot of Battlestar Galactica novels, some with Ron Goulart. (Died 2014.) (CE) 
  • Born January 3, 1940 Kinuko Y. Craft, 81.  She is a Japanese-born American painter, illustrator and fantasy artist. True enough. So why is she here?  Because she had an amazing run of illustrating the covers of the Patricia McKillip novels until quite recently. I’m linking here to our review at Green Man of The Bards of Bone Plain for a favorite cover of mine she did. There’s a slim volume on Imaginosis called Drawings & Paintings which collects some of her work which Green Man reviews here. (CE)
  • Born January 3, 1945 – Mark Owings.  Bibliographer.  Index to the Science-Fantasy Publishers (with Jack Chalker) 1966, rev. 1991 then thirteen supplements.  Blish, Heinlein, Lovecraft, Pohl, Russell, Schmitz, Simak, Williamson.  Our Gracious Host’s appreciation here.  (Died 2009) [JH]
  • Born January 3, 1947 Patricia Anthony. Flanders is one damn scary novel. A ghost story set in WW I, it spooked me for nights after I read it and I don’t spook easily having died over and over. Highly recommended. James Cameron purchased the movie rights to  her Brother Termite novel and John Sayles wrote a script, but the movie has not been produced. (Died 2013.) (CE)
  • Born January 3, 1951 – Rosa Montero, age 70.  Daughter of a bullfighter, active in protests that eliminated killing of the bull, however traditional, in the centuries-old Toro de la Vega at Tordesillas.  Thirty books, two for us in English.  Spring Novel prize, Cavour Prize, two Qué Leer prizes.  [JH]
  • Born January 3, 1974 – Arwen Dayton, age 47.  Six novels for us.  Resurrection an Amazon Kindle Best-Seller.  Stronger, Faster, More Beautiful won Kirkus Best Young Adult SF, Wall Street Journal Best SF.  Has read The Sirens of Titan, Bleak HouseThe Door Into SummerThe Illustrated ManSense and Sensibility.  [JH]
  • Born January 3, 1975 Danica McKellar, 46. From 2010–2013 and since 2018, she’s voiced Miss Martian in the Young Justice series. It’s just completed its fourth season and it’s most excellent! She’s done far, far more voice work than I can list here, so if you’ve got something you like that she’s done, do mention it. (CE)
  • Born January 3, 1976 Charles Yu, 45. Taiwanese American writer. Author of the most excellent How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe and the short-story collections, Sorry Please Thank You and Third Class Superhero. His novel was ranked the year’s second-best science fiction novel by the Center for the Study of Science Fiction at the University of Kansas — runner up for the Campbell Memorial Award. (CE) 
  • Born January 3, 1978 – Dominic Wood, age 43.  Magician (the theatrical-art kind) and author.  Int’l Brotherhood of Magicians’ Shield for Sleight of Hand.  Co-presenter of Brainiac’s Test-Tube Baby.  Three BAFTA (Brit. Acad. Film & Television Arts) awards.  Dom and the Magic Topper is ours; the protagonist although named Dominic is a child, and although a theatrical-art magician has a top hat that really is magic; see here.  [JH]

(10) COMICS SECTION.

  • Today I discovered R.E. Parrish:

(11) CIRQUE DE SOUL. Leonard Maltin reviewed Soul and thought it was a provocative film but one he wished he could like more than he did. “’Soul’ Tackles The Big Questions”.

…I feel like an ingrate as I complain about a mainstream Disney release that doesn’t talk down to its audience, a Trojan horse of philosophizing packaged as shiny entertainment. But as much as I was intrigued by Soul, I didn’t actually enjoy the experience. I watched it with my family and we all had different reactions.

I would be foolish and narrow-minded if I didn’t applaud the effort and artistry that went into this film. How lucky we are that a studio like Pixar exists, unafraid to tackle complex and challenging ideas within the mainstream movie industry. I just wish I liked their new movie better. 

(12) REVERSING HIS POLARITY. In the Washington Post, David Betancourt interviews Pedro Pascal about his twin roles as villain Maxwell Lord in Wonder Woman 1984 and as the lead in The Mandalorian. “For Pedro Pascal, this is the way to play a ‘Wonder Woman’ villain when you’re also the coolest hero in the galaxy”.

…[In WW84] To help match his antenna-transmitted ambition, Pascal was asked to shave off his trademark swashbuckling mustache that has followed him through roles in “Game of Thrones,” “Narcos” and the Star Wars universe in the rare moments he can take off his Mandalorian helmet (which he did for the second time in the series in the episode that aired on Dec. 11). Pascal is adamant the facial hair removal was real and not the digital disaster that was Henry Cavill’s lip service in the widely panned “Justice League.”…

(13) WE HAVE MET THE ENEMY. A New York Times Magazine writer offers “A New Theory About the Monolith: We’re the Aliens”.

…The mystery of who created the monolith may never be solved. If we accept that it was a guerrilla art intervention, it was clearly successful, seizing public attention in ways a commissioned work never could. Weeks after the structure vanished, monolith fever has not abated, with copycats springing up across the U.S. and around the globe, from Romania to Morocco to Paraguay. Their spread so captivated social media that many wondered whether the world was falling for a viral marketing campaign.

But the appeal of the monolith touches deeper depths than the usual dopamine hits of the viral internet. In an age of GPS mapping and Google Earth, we may feel that the planet has been demystified, down to the centimeter — that there is no more unsurveilled terrain. The appearance of a monolith in a hinterland is a satisfying reminder that the world remains very large. It is still possible for an artist, or a prankster, or an artist-prankster, to slip undetected into the backcountry and leave something weird and alluring behind. Online detectives studying Google Earth figure the pillar was installed around 2016, which would mean that it’s possible for a weird, alluring thing to remain hidden for years, a secret shared only with passing bighorn sheep.

(14) WILL MINDS BE CHANGED? Essence of Wonder takes up the question “What Would Convince You a Miracle Is Real?” hosted by Alan Lightman with Rebecca Goldstein and Edward Hall. On Saturday, January 9, at 3:00 PM US Eastern Time. Register here.

In this discussion with philosopher and novelist Rebecca Goldstein, philosopher of science Edward Hall (Harvard), and physicist and novelist Alan Lightman (MIT), we will consider the question of the role of experiment in science and how that feature separates science from the humanities. We will also discuss the strong commitment of scientists to a completely lawful universe.

This latter issue could be framed as a question: What would it take to convince a scientist that some phenomenon was a miracle — that is, could not be explained, even in principle, to lie within the laws of nature?

For most scientists, the answer is NOTHING. Yet surveys repeatedly show that 75% of the American public believes in miracles. Why this marked discrepancy between the beliefs of scientists and nonscientists?

(15) A DUNE GRAPHIC NOVEL. BBC Science Focus Magazine has a substantial excerpt of art pages from the “Brian Herbert Dune graphic novel, An extract from the new retelling”.

The original Dune, penned by science fiction writer Frank Herbert, was published in 1965, and it quickly became one of the best-selling sci-fi novels of all time. Countless writers have cited his series as inspiration, including his son, Brian Herbert.

The story has been adapted for several films over the years, as well as games, comic books and spin-off books.

Ahead of its return to the big screen (again) next year, we’re taking a look into the recently published Dune: The Graphic Novel.

Created by Herbert’s son, Brian, and science fiction writer Kevin J Anderson, Dune: The Graphic Novel depicts the epic adventure that unfolds on the desert planet Arrakis in stunning illustrations.

What follows is an extract from the new book, where we take flight across the desert with the Duke, his son, and planetologist Dr Kynes…

[Thanks to Jim Meadows, Cliff, John Hertz, Martin Morse Wooster, John King Tarpinian, JJ, Mike Kennedy, Michael Toman, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Soon Lee.]