Pixel Scroll 11/20/20 Trapped In A Pixel He Never Scrolled

(1) “THE FUTURE WAS SO BAD.” “HOW BAD WAS IT?” The Library of Congress’ National Book Festival Blog introduces “2020 National Book Festival Highlights: Dystopian Worlds”.

Why is it that some of us love dystopian novels, the kind of fiction that takes a dim, bleak view of the future? Is it because writers of this genre show us how bad things can become if we aren’t careful? Or that we can feel better about the current state of affairs because they aren’t nearly as bad as the book’s scenario?

The “Dystopian Worlds” conversation at the 2020 National Book Festival featured Dark Star trilogy novelist Marlon James, who spoke with sci-fi/fantasy writer Jeff VanderMeer. James’s most recent novel is “Black Leopard, Red Wolf” (Riverhead), and VanderMeer’s is “A Peculiar Peril” (Farrar, Straus & Giroux). Everdeen Mason, senior audience editor of The Washington Post, moderated and, in her words, is an “occasional book critic.”

(2) BLOOM’S FINAL LE GUIN APPRECIATION. “The Strange Friendships of Ursula K. Le Guin’s ‘The Left Hand of Darkness’” in The New Yorker is an essay was drawn from The Bright Book of Life: Novels to Read and Reread by Harold Bloom (d. 2019), out this month.

…Though I have written about “The Left Hand of Darkness” before, in 1987 and again in 2000, I have forgotten what I said and do not want to consult it now, but, rather, make a fresh start on this marvellous romance. In one of her letters, Ursula remarked that writing “The Dispossessed” was liberating for her, and she seemed to prefer it to “The Left Hand of Darkness.” Rereading both, I find myself torn between the two. The protagonist, Shevek, in “The Dispossessed,” is far more interesting than anyone in the earlier book, and yet he and his story manifest something of the ambivalence of Le Guin’s subtitle: “An Ambiguous Utopia.”

In a fierce introduction to “The Left Hand of Darkness,” Le Guin charmingly remarks, “A novelist’s business is lying.” She adumbrates:

“I talk about the gods; I am an atheist. But I am an artist too, and therefore a liar. Distrust everything I say. I am telling the truth.

“The only truth I can understand or express is, logically defined, a lie. Psychologically defined, a symbol. Aesthetically defined, a metaphor.”

Always in Le Guin we hear reverberations of Lao Tzu’s “Tao Te Ching,” which she translated, with J. P. Seaton, as “A Book About the Way and the Power of the Way” (1997). We corresponded about her understanding of the Tao, yet I had to confess my permanent difficulty in absorbing this way that is not a way. I myself always keep to hand a copy of “The Bhagavad-Gita” as rendered by Barbara Stoler Miller, which I purchased in the autumn of 1986, the year of its publication. After hundreds of readings, I think I know what Krishna means by “dark inertia,” “passion,” and “lucidity,” but a dozen readings of the Le Guin-Seaton “Tao Te Ching” have left me muttering that I do not apprehend the water and stone of the Way. Is it that I am not enough open to my own female component? That seems not right. I am more my late mother than my late father. What moves me most in Ursula is the serenity. I lack it utterly….

(3) EATING THE FANTASTIC. Scott Edelman invites listeners to loaf around with A.C. Wise in Episode 132 of his Eating the Fantastic podcast as they nibble — she on chocolate zucchini bread and he on cherry pecan bread.

A.C. Wise

Wise is a two-time finalist for the Nebula Award, two-time finalist for the Sunburst Award, and a finalist for the Lambda Literary Award. Plus she’s won the Sunburst Award for Excellence in Canadian Literature of the Fantastic. Her fiction has appeared in UncannyTor.comShimmer, and multiple Year’s Best anthologies. Her work can also be found in two collections, The Ultra Fabulous Glitter Squadron Saves the World Again and The Kissing Booth Girl and Other Stories, both published with Lethe Press. Her debut novel, Wendy, Darling, will be out from Titan Books in June 2021, and a new short story collection, The Ghost Sequences, will be published by Undertow Books next August.

We discussed how her first professionally published fiction ended up printed on a coffee can, the 24-hour challenge which led to the creation of her Lambda Award-nominated collection, which comic book character obsesses her the most, how individual stories can act as commentary on all stories, why she enjoys wielding the power of ambiguity, how workshopping with other writers can help make stories better, what The Queen’s Gambit can teach us about dealing with reader expectations, the unexpected way a flash fiction piece turned into her first novel, and much more

(4) SLF WANTS ENTRIES FOR ILLUSTRATION OF THE YEAR. The Speculative Literature Foundation is making an open call for original artwork combining fantasy and science fiction themes, to be featured as its cover art (Illustrationof the Year or Artwork) for 2021.

Artwork will be displayed on the Speculative Literature Foundation’s (SLF) website and social media accounts. Artwork will also be used as a visual element of SLF’s marketing material and swag, including but not limited to, bookmarks, pins, posters, etc., and may be cropped or otherwise minimally altered to fit these different formats.

The winning artist will receive $500.00 (USD) and will be announced, along with the selected Artwork, on SLF’s website and in a press release.

This is the SLF’s second international open call for Illustration of the Year, and the fourth consecutive year that it has featured an illustration. The SLF, founded in 2004 by author and creative writing professor Mary Anne Mohanraj, is a global non-profit arts foundation serving the speculative literature (science fiction, fantasy, and horror) community. It provides resources to speculative fiction writers, editors, illustrators, and publishers, and aims to develop a greater public appreciation of this art.

Submission Dates: November 20, 2020 at 12:01 a.m. through December 20, 2020 at 11:59 p.m.

Criteria: Each artist (Artist) may submit one (1) artwork for consideration. The artwork may be created digitally or by hand (no photography). The subject matter must combine fantasy and science fiction elements as well as incorporate SLF’s literary focus. All artwork must be submitted in both jpeg and pdf formats. Aspect ratio must work for the website banner, being at least 1500 points wide, and 400-500 points high. Final resolution for print must be at least 11 inches wide and 300 dpi. Files are limited to 10MB.

Submit artwork to development@speculativeliterature.org, including your name, email address, phone number and short bio.

(5) DON’T INVITEMS. LitHub’s Chris Gosden explains “Why Harry Houdini DID NOT Like Arthur Conan Doyle”.

… Later in 1924 Houdini wrote a book exposing mediums and their activities at séances—A Magician among the Spirits.

Houdini’s position was complex and interesting. The greatest illusionist of the last century became the great debunker of illusions. Conversely, Houdini was keen to stress the physical skill and strength that formed the basis for his act and to reveal the tricks employed by others, many of whom claimed not to be tricksters. Houdini himself became the subject of myth-making, seen by some as having shamanistic powers; and Conan Doyle was not alone in considering Houdini to be a magician, a view expressed in his book The Edge of the Unknown (1930).

Conan Doyle’s two-volume work The History of Spiritualism (1926) was an argument for the veracity and validity of the spiritualist movement, citing, among many other cases, the Davenport brothers and the Spirit Cabinet as an instance when people were able to summon spirits.

Important issues were contained in the disagreements between Houdini and Doyle that resonated elsewhere. First was the issue of evidence and how different people were either convinced by, or skeptical of, exactly the same set of events, such as the activities within the Davenports’ Spirit Cabinet. The creator of the arch-empiricist and logician, Sherlock Holmes, was famously credulous. Houdini took a lot to be convinced of other-worldly phenomena.

Deeper issues were also involved, concerning the nature of the person and of reality more broadly. Were people divided into body and spirit, with the latter surviving the death of the body? As skepticism concerning religious belief grew, so did doubts about life after death, which in turn threw notions of the composition of the person into doubt—perhaps people did not have souls or some form of immaterial reality?…

(6) THE G.O.A.T. In “An Oral History of ‘Marge vs The Monorail’, the Episode That Changed ‘The Simpsons'” on Vice, Sean Cole interviews the people involved in “Marge vs. The Monorail,” which many think is the greatest episode of The Simpsons.  The episode was written by Conan O’Brien, directed by Rich Moore (who won an Oscar for Zootopia) and had guest spots by Phil Hartman and Leonard Nimoy.

Jeff Martin: Mindless groupthink is a recurrent theme on The Simpsons, and I think the monorail episode is the best – and certainly my favourite – example of Springfield mob mentality. Watching the episode, I decided to go ahead and time it. From Lanley whistling in the back of the auditorium to the entire town marching on the town hall steps singing “Monorail!” is a little less than two minutes. I think it took Harold Hill at least four minutes to whip up River City.

Rich Moore: That musical number was almost harder to pull off than the whole third act climax. I’d done “A Streetcar Named Marge” before. That was a big musical spectacular, so it felt like, ‘Okay, we’re going to have to pull off what we did on that episode.’ That’s hard to do when you’re not working under the same roof as the animators. We would send a very complete blueprint, with all the key posing and animation timing, to Korea [where the bulk of animation is done by a studio called AKOM], but there was a bit of crossing your fingers and hoping, since you’re not there in the room to direct them. Everything is being communicated through instructions on exposure sheets, which have been translated from English to Korean.

Jeff Martin: Every single word of the monorail song was unchanged from Conan’s first draft, which is impressive. My niche on the show in those days was to actually write the tunes to the songs. I wrote a bunch of songs, so I was assigned to set the monorail song to music. It’s sort of like, “Bum, bum, bum, bum. I think I’m done!” It’s barely a song. It’s just sort of a rhythm and “Monorail! Monorail! Monorail!” The notion that Conan and I co-wrote that song is laughable. I’ve told Conan over the years that he had his part in that song. Elton John, meaning me, needs Bernie Taupin, meaning him.

(7) VOSS OBIT. Actor Philip Voss has died of COVID-19 at the age of 84. The Guardian ran anoverview of his career.

…His television career had begun in the first (1963) season of Doctor Who, with William Hartnell, as Acomat, the leader of Mongolian bandits, in the Marco Polo story, and as a young Dulcian, Wahed, a humanoid pacifist killed by Quarks, a few years later, with Patrick Troughton as the second doctor. His last television role was as Ian McKellen’s acid-tongued brother, Mason, in the sitcom Vicious (2013-16).

In the late 1970s he was also a member of the BBC Radio Drama Company, working with the directors Jane Morgan and Celia De Wolff, in subsequent years, on The Lord of the Rings (he was Lord of the Nazgûl)… On film, he popped up in Octopussy (1983) with Roger Moore as James Bond, Trevor Nunn’s Lady Jane (1986), Bob Rafelson’s Mountains of the Moon (1990) and as Laura’s father in Four Weddings and a Funeral (1994).

(8) MEDIA ANNIVERSARY.

  • 1980 — Forty years ago, Roger Zelazny would win the Balrog Award for “The Last Defenders of Camelot”. It was originally published in Asimov’s SF Adventure Magazine, Summer 1979. The Balrog Award were a set of awards given annually from 1979 to 1985 for the best works and achievements of genre fiction in the previous year. You knew what they were named after. The awards were originally announced by editor Jonathan Bacon in Issue #15 of Fantasy Crossroads and presented at the Fool-Con II convention on April Fool’s Day, 1979. Bacon says that they were not to considered serious awards. 

(9) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

  • November 20, 1964 The First Men in the Moon premiered. It’s an adaptation by screenwriter Nigel Kneale of H. G. Wells novel of the same name. It was produced by Charles H. Schneer, and directed by Nathan Juran. It  starred Edward Judd, Martha Hyer and Lionel Jeffries. Ray Harryhausen of course did the special effects with sculptor Bryan Kneale constructing the Selenites from Harryhausen’s designs. With the exception of the grinch critic at the New York Times, critics loved it, though it was a box-office bomb which Harryhausen thought was the fault of too much comedy in the script. It holds a respectable sixty-seven percent rating among audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes. 

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]

  • Born November 20, 1858 – Selma Lagerlöf.  Nine novels, a score of shorter stories for us, many others of each outside our field.  First woman to win Nobel Prize in Literature; given “in appreciation of the lofty idealism, vivid imagination, and spiritual perception that characterize her writings”.  (Died 1940) [JH]
  • Born November 20, 1923 – Len Moffatt.  Fan Guest of Honor at Westercon 25.  Forry Award (for life contribution to SF; given to pros and fans, some people are both).  With wife June, Fan GoH at Loscon 8; TAFF (Trans-Atlantic Fan Fund) delegates, publishing The Moffatt House Abroad; Evans-Freehafer Award (for service to L.A. Science Fantasy Society); fanzine Moonshine; L & J and I published Button-Tack (memorial zine for Rick Sneary – rhymes with “sherry”); L & J posthumously in First Fandom Hall of Fame.  My appreciation of Len here.  (Died 2010) [JH]
  • Born November 20, 1926 John Gardner. Author of more Bond novels that one would think possible. He’d write fourteen original James Bond novels, more than Fleming wrote, and the novelized versions of two Bond films. He also dip into the Sherlock universe, writing three novels around the character of Professor Moriarty. Rights to film them were optioned but never developed. (Died 2007.) (CE)
  • Born November 20, 1929 Jerry Hardin, 91. He’s best known for playing Deep Throat on The X-Files. He’s also been on Quantum Leap, StarmanBrimstone and Strange World, plus he was in the Doomsday Virus miniseries. And he made a rather good Samuel Clemens in the two part “Time’s Arrow” story on Next Gen. (CE) 
  • Born November 20, 1932 Richard Dawson. Usually one appearance in a genre film or show isn’t enough to make the Birthday list but he was Damon Killian on The Running Man, a juicy enough role to ensure his making this list, and twenty years earlier he was Joey on Munster, Go Home! He’d voiceLong John Silver on an animated Treasure Island film in the Seventies as well. And he had a one-off on the classic Fantasy Island. (Died 2012.) (CE) 
  • Born November 20, 1936 – Don DeLillo, 84.  A dozen novels, half as many shorter stories, for us; four other novels, a score of other shorter stories, plays, a screenplay.  Nat’l Book Award, PEN/Faulkner Award (Poets, Essayists, Novelists), PEN / Saul Bellow Award, Lib’y of Congress Award.  More here.  [JH]
  • Born November 20, 1944 Molly Gloss, 76. She received the Otherwise Award for her Wild Life novel, and nominated for another one for The Dazzle of Day novel.  Much of her excellent short stories are collected in the recently released Unforeseen which along with her two genre novels are available from the usual digital suspects. (CE) 
  • Born November 20, 1950 – Donita Paul, 70.  A dozen novels.  Romances and juveniles under another name.  Why shouldn’t a Christian author write of dragons – what about St. George? [JH]
  • Born November 20, 1956 Bo Derek, 64. She makes the Birthday list for being Jane Parker in Tarzan, the Ape Man. There’s also Ghosts Can’t Do It and Horror 101 as wellas the two Sharknado films she just did. (CE)
  • Born November 20, 1959 Sean Young, 61. Rachael and her clone in the original Blade Runner and the sequel. More intriguingly she played Chani in Dune. A bit old for the role, wasn’t she? She was the lead, Helen Hyde, in Dr. Jekyll and Ms. Hyde. And she’s a Trekkie as she was in the Star Trek: Renegades video fanfic pilot as Dr. Lucien. (CE) 
  • Born November 20, 1972 – Cerece Rennie Murphy, 48.  Seven novels, one shorter story.  Ardent fan of John Donne, Alice Walker, Kurt Vonnegut, and Alexander Pope from an early age.  A 2nd Grade teacher applauds a CRM book for children, “I have struggled to find books with African-American characters who are not stereotyped or set in a time period of racial struggle.”  [JH]
  • Born November 20, 1980 – Ignacio Bazán Lazcano, 40.  Illustrator and conceptual artist.  Here is Beneath Ceaseless Skies 101.  Here is The Fall of Io.  Here is Welcome.  Here is an astronaut.  Here is a robot bartender.  [JH]

(11) COMICS SECTION.

  • Rich Horton says this Rhymes With Orange reminded him of Howard Waldrop’s first sale (to Analog! Possibly even to Campbell!) — “Lunchbox”.

(12) GREAT DAYS OF ANIMATION. Join legendary animator Glen Keane, director of Over The Moon, for a virtual retrospective conversation with filmmaker and animator Sergio Pablos. Free event on Saturday, December 5 at 7:30 p.m. Pacific. Register here.

A 38-year veteran of Walt Disney Feature Animation, Glen Keane trained under Walt Disney’s Nine Old Men. Keane went on to create many beloved Disney characters such as The Little Mermaid, Aladdin, The Beast, Tarzan, and Rapunzel. In 2012, Keane departed Disney to begin Glen Keane Productions as a way to further his artistic explorations in animation, design, and film. He has since gone on to collaborate with Google, the Paris Ballet, and Kobe Bryant. In 2017, he animated and directed the Academy Award-winning animated film “Dear Basketball” in collaboration with legends Kobe Bryant and John Williams. Most recently, he directed OVER THE MOON, now available on Netflix.

(13) A STARCHY PARABLE. [Item by rcade.] The AmITheAsshole subreddit is a place for people to find out whether they’ve done something to someone else that makes them an asshole.

A woman asked: “AITA for “ruining” the rice that my boyfriend cooks with by consolidating the multiple bags of rice which he claims are “different” into a single container?”

Here’s where it becomes fodder for File 770. Commenter SelectNetwork1 has responded in the form of a fairy tale in this thread. [There are now over 4K comments, and it took OGH 10 minutes to find it again, so we’re just going to quote it in full.]

Once there was a princess who always wanted things her way. There were three bags of rice in the kitchen and every day she asked, why can’t all the rice be in the same bag? They are all the same.” And every day her boyfriend replied, “They look the same to you because you only look at them from a distance, but they are not the same. They won’t cook right if they’re mixed together.”

One day, the princess’s boyfriend went away for the weekend, leaving the princess home alone. The three bags of rice sitting were all she could think about. They are the same! she thought, over and over. Why are they not in the same bag together! At last she could stand it no more. She went to the kitchen, found a single, big container, and dumped all three bags of rice into it. Then she shook it very hard so the grains would mix. There, now all the rice is together, she thought. At last, she was at peace.

A few hours later, there was a knock at the door. The princess went to answer it, and on the front step was a mysterious woman. “Did you mix three bags of rice all together?” asked the mysterious woman. “They were all the same, they belonged in one bag,” said the princess. The mysterious woman seemed to grow to a hundred feet tall! The princess cowered, and let out a squeak. She covered her eyes with her hands, and realized her hands were paws! She had been turned into a mouse.

The mysterious woman picked her up and put the mouse princess on her shoulder. The mouse princess clung to her shirt as the mysterious woman went into the house and walked straight to the kitchen. She took the big bag of rice and dumped it out on the kitchen table, then gently lifted the mouse princess off her shoulder and set her down beside the rice, which towered above her mouse head like a mountain. “Do you wish to become a human princess again?” the mysterious woman asked, and the mouse princess nodded and squeaked. “Then you must separate these grains of rice that you have mixed together. Only then will you return to your true form.”

The mouse princess stared up at the mountain of rice: it was too large to contemplate, and the rice was all the same! It seemed like an impossible task. She turned back to the mysterious woman, but she had vanished: the kitchen was empty.

For a while, the mouse princess sulked. Eventually, she got bored, and picked up a grain of rice between her paws. “It’s just rice, it’s all the same,” she tried to say, but it came out as “squeak.” She put it aside, and picked up another grain of rice. “See, just rice?” she tried to say, but that, too, came out as “squeak.” This grain was heavier than the first one, and she looked more closely at it. The first grain was long and thin, and this one was a little shorter, and fatter at the middle. She pawed through the pile and came up with another: this grain was shorter and fatter still. “They are not the same!” she tried to exclaim, but it came out as “Squeak!”

The mouse princess contemplated the mountain of rice, and for the first time since she had been turned into a mouse by the mysterious stranger, she felt a little hope. She took the three grains of rice and set them down in three corners of the table, then went back to the mountain of rice and began to take it apart, one grain at a time.

The longer she worked, the easier it became. After a while, she didn’t have to examine the grains to tell them apart, she could see the difference as soon as she as much as glanced at them. She worked until she was exhausted, then she fell asleep on a pile of rice, and woke up again a few hours later to begin working again. She worked and slept, worked and slept, and worked again.

After three days and three nights, the mouse princess was finished. As soon as she pushed the last grain of rice into its pile, she felt as if the room were shrinking around her! She leapt off the table before she could spill the rice, and landed on the floor on her human feet.

Just as she was getting her bearings, she heard the front door open. Her boyfriend was home! She swiftly found the original bags and swept the three piles of rice into their three separate containers. Just as she set the last bag of rice on the table, her boyfriend walked into the room. When he saw the bags of rice, he sighed. “I’ve told you before, they are not the same just because they look the same to you,” he said. The princess smiled. “I know,” she said. “All the rice looked the same to me when I looked at them only from a distance; now I have looked closer, and I understand that each rice is unique.”

The human princess’s boyfriend looked surprised, but happy. “I’ll start making dinner,” he said. “What kind of rice would you like to eat?”

“The medium-length one,” the princess said. “But rinse it carefully… I think I saw a mouse around here somewhere.”

(14) STAY FROSTY. Variety peeks behind the curtain as “George Clooney Navigates Two Worlds in Sci-Fi Drama ‘The Midnight Sky’”.

Netflix’s sci-fi drama “The Midnight Sky,” set for release next month, will see George Clooney as a scientist in the Arctic trying to protect a little girl, and prevent a group of astronauts from coming back home after a global catastrophe.

“It’s two different worlds; we were basically saying we were going to shoot ‘The Revenant’ and stop, and then shoot ‘Gravity,’” said Clooney about his seventh feature as a director during an online seminar at EnergaCamerimage Film Festival dedicated to “The Midnight Sky,” an adaptation of Lily Brooks-Dalton novel “Good Morning, Midnight.” He was accompanied by the film’s cinematographer Martin Ruhe.

“Usually, when space movies are shot, up is up and down is down, and that’s not exactly how it works. In ‘Gravity,’ the camera was constantly rotating. We wanted to keep the idea of the horizon being different, without making everyone throw up along the way. But our first conversation was: ‘How do we shoot winter’?,” said Clooney, mentioning that while two-thirds of Earthbound sequences were shot in Iceland, one-third was completed on the sound stage, “which was as cold as Iceland for some reason!,” he said.

(15) A LITTLE GAFFE. “Star Wars: The Mandalorian Has Its Own Game of Thrones Coffee Cup Blunder” in “Chapter 12: The Seige.”

…For the second time on The Mandalorian, an on-set mistake has been noticed, reminding fans of the infamous coffee cup on Game of Thrones. Photo at the link.

Without giving too much away, this episode sees Mando and Baby Yoda return to Nevarro, where Din Djarrin reunites with Greef Carga and Cara Dune to shut down an old Imperial base on the planet. While they’re working through the base, getting into a shootout with a few stormtroopers, a pretty obvious mistake can be noticed in the background….

In the back-left corner of the frame, a man can be seen that clearly isn’t a part of the Star Wars universe. He’s wearing a t-shirt, blue jeans, and a watch. You can only see the left side of his body, and his head is thankfully out of the frame, but it’s still very noticeable.

(16) LAST LIGHTNING. People reports “The CW’s Black Lightning to End with Season 4”.

Black Lightning is coming to an end, the CW announced Friday.

The superhero drama will conclude with its upcoming fourth season, set to premiere in February 2021. Though the network did not give a reason for the series’ end, showrunner Salim Akil released a statement thanking the cast, crew and fans.

“When we first started the Black Lighting journey, I knew that Jefferson Pierce and his family of powerful Black women would be a unique addition to the superhero genre,” the statement said, according to Entertainment Weekly.

He continued, “The love that Blerds and all comic book fans around the globe have shown this series over the past three seasons proved what we imagined: Black people want to see themselves in all their complexities.”

(17) NIGHT OF THE GAS GIANTS, Mental Floss urges everyone, “Don’t Miss Saturn And Jupiter’s Great Conjunction on the Winter Solstice” on December 21.

In 2020, skygazers were treated to meteor showers, a new comet, and a Halloween blue moon. One of the last major astronomical events of the year is set to fall on the night of the winter solstice. On December 21, look up to catch Saturn in conjunction with Jupiter.

WHAT IS THE CONJUNCTION OF SATURN AND JUPITER?

In astronomy, a conjunction occurs when two planets appear exceptionally close in the night sky. Two of our solar system’s gas giants will share a celestial “kiss” on the longest night of the year. The rare meeting of Saturn and Jupiter is known as the “great conjunction” by astronomers.

(18) A MODEST DESIGN PROPOSAL. The election coverage is winding down, so here’s what Fox News has moved on to: “Grow-your-own human steaks meal kit is not ‘technically’ cannibalism, makers say”.

…A “DIY meal kit” for growing steaks made from human cells was recently nominated for “design of the year” by the London-based Design Museum.

Named the Ouroboros Steak after the circular symbol of a snake eating itself tail-first, the hypothetical kit would come with everything one needs to use their own cells to grow miniature human meat steaks.

“People think that eating oneself is cannibalism, which technically this is not,” Grace Knight, one of the designers, told Dezeen magazine.

(19) THAT’S NO MOON! The Planetary Society pointed readers to NASA’s story “Earth May Have Captured a 1960s-Era Rocket Booster”. This one’s not a conjunction – it’s just regular junk.

Scientists at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory were puzzled over Earth’s newest moon: an object in orbit around the Earth, temporarily captured by our planet’s gravity. Tracing the object’s trajectory back through time, they discovered it came from Earth itself in 1966, when NASA launched Surveyor 2 to the Moon. The object is likely the rocket’s upper stage.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Michael Toman, Rich Horton, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, Cat Eldridge, Andrew Porter, John Hertz, rcade, Contrarius, and Mike Kennedy for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Jack Lint.]

Pixel Scroll 8/13/20 There’s A Right Way To Pixel, A Wrong Way To Pixel, And There’s The Scroll Way To Pixel

(1) BLYLY IN STAR-TRIBUNE AGAIN. Uncle Hugo’s Bookstore owner Don Blyly, who made the front page in Minneapolis yesterday, was back in the news today when the city announced it has reversed a policy that has made it hard to get demolition permits: “City removes tax demand that was blocking rebuilding of riot-torn Minneapolis”.

Minneapolis officials will no longer require property owners to prepay the second half of their property taxes in order to start removing rubble from sites damaged in the May riots.

Mayor Jacob Frey announced the change Thursday after the Star Tribune reported on the controversy.

…Minneapolis property owners have complained that the policy was slowing the pace of recovery and turning piles of debris into public safety hazards. The situation is different in St. Paul, which has been issuing demolition permits without requiring the prepayment of the second half of 2020 property taxes, which are due in October.

…“This will remove one small roadblock, but I am not sure how much it will actually speed up the entire rebuilding process,” said Don Blyly, owner of Uncle Hugo’s and Uncle Edgar’s bookstores in Minneapolis, which were destroyed in the riots. “You are still going to have the problem of a whole lot of demolition permits being handled by people who are working at home because of COVID-19.”

Blyly, who hired a contractor to remove the rubble from his lot a month ago, still doesn’t have his demolition permit, even though he paid his taxes last week.

Minneapolis City Council Member Andrew Johnson said he will introduce legislation at Friday’s council meeting that would require city officials to expedite the approval process for riot-damaged properties and waive all administrative fees.

“We should be processing their applications first, in front of everyone else’s, and they shouldn’t be subject to any unnecessary steps that are slowing stuff down,” Johnson said. “We need to bend over backward and do everything possible to help them with rebuilding.”

(2) F&SF COVER. The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction’s Sept/Oct 2020 cover art is by Bob Eggleton for “The Shadows of Alexandrium” by David Gerrold.

(3) QUITE A FASCINATING ARTICLE. In “My First Thriller: David Morrell” on CrimeReads, Rick Pullen interviews Morrell, who explains that sf writer and Penn State English professor Philip Klass not only inspired Morrell to find the path he needed to complete First Blood (whose protagonist was John Rambo) but also introduced Morrell to his first agent.

…He read the show’s credits, noting that Stirling Silliphant was the creator. His local library found the address for the “Route 66” production company (the beginning of Morrell’s love affair with libraries). He mailed Silliphant a hand-written letter, saying “I want to be you.” Surprisingly, Silliphant wrote back with a single-spaced, two-page letter within the week. (The framed letter now hangs in Morrell’s office.)

“I wish I had some specific advice for you or encouragement,” wrote Silliphant, “but what I have to say is certainly not new. Keep writing…eventually if you have something of promise to say, someone will help you or hire you.”

…While at Penn State, he met science fiction writer Philip Klass, better known by the pseudonym William Tenn, who taught the basics of fiction writing.

“It was astonishing that a university would hire a real writer. He did not have a degree. He was the backbone of their creative writing department…I couldn’t get into his classes. They filled up right away. So Klass agreed to meet me during office hours.”

To test Morrell, Klass instructed him to turn in a short story every week, and every week he did.

Eventually Klass summoned Morrell to his office and begged him to stop writing fiction. “You’re terrible,” he said.

“He was right,” Morrell says. “I was writing bad Joyce and Faulkner.”

From Klass, he learned “every writer has a dominant emotion.” Morrell’s was fear. Maybe if he wrote honestly about fear, Klass told him, he would stop writing all of his horrible imitation fiction.

“I took him at his word.”…

(4) HELP NEEDED. Filer Lenora Rose hopes someone can lend a hand:

I have a writer’s issue to do with language — specifically semi-Nordic language — and I think this might be the right place to ask for help?

So I’m dealing with a fantasy setting that is used for the course of at least three books. One of the countries major characters come from speaks something I have been rendering, for the purpose of getting through the rough drafts, as quasi-Nordic — sometimes actually looking up words in Swedish or Norwegian or Icelandic and picking the one that sounds the least like English, and also going a Germanic style take two or three words and squish them together. It didn’t help that I decided they were the culture where the names of humans mostly translate to other nouns (Snow, Willow, etc) and the names of the non-human sapient race are usually those Germanic-style squished-together compounds (Bright Witty Magpie is one, as is Stream in Spring Flood). The protagonist is a multi-linguist and cares about this stuff.

Well, the story is now getting into final draft stages in every other way, and the placeholder language is still something that would almost certainly give any linguist or speaker of any of the related Scandinavian languages creeping horrors.

It certainly bothers me, because in the “I don’t know what I don’t know” way, I’m terrified I am going to end up, (as one author did when inventing names she thought sounded Welsh), naming someone a slang term for women’s hygiene products or something similarly terrible.

So basically I need a consult with someone who speaks a related language and would be willing to make non-painful translations or naming suggestions, or a linguist to do the same. *I am assuming this is something where I should pay for their time in some way*, at least if it goes past an initial consultation.

If anyone is willing to help, please relay your email through OGH – mikeglyer (at) cs (dot) com

(5) HUGO RIPPLES. The KPBS website keeps the story alive: “Criticism Of 2020 Hugo Awards Spotlights A Lack Of Inclusivity In Literary Fiction World”.

….With 2020 seeing the re-emergence of the Black Lives Matter movement, leading to many conversations about inclusivity, [George R.R.] Martin’s mispronunciations have taken on a deeper meaning.

“The backlash is absolutely justified,” said Hugo award winner and British fantasy author Jeanette Ng. “But I am sometimes frustrated that it gets reduced down to an anger about him mispronouncing names rather than this deeper tension between competing visions of the genre and the award…Whilst the mispronunciations matter, they are ultimately a symptom of that deeper disconnect of what the [awards are meant to do].”

(6) ASFA SPONSORS BIPOC MEMBERSHIPS. The Association of Science Fiction & Fantasy Artists is offering “Sponsored Memberships For BIPOC”. Donations have raised the number available to 15.

In recognition of systemic biases against BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, & other People of Color)  both within the Speculative Fiction & Fantasy communities and without, the Association of Science Fiction & Fantasy Artists intends to sponsor memberships in the organization for BIPOC artists. These sponsorships will be open to up-and-coming artists as well as established artists, and each membership will convey voting rights in the annual Chesley Awards in addition to periodic opportunities to exhibit in shows with other ASFA artists. Additionally, ASFA encourages its BIPOC members to participate in our Board elections, as candidates for Board positions and as voters, to ensure that the organization’s representatives are truly representative of our membership and our aspirations for the community overall.

If you are interested in receiving one of these memberships please fill out this form: https://forms.gle/YF23aYPvMPe4mob86

(7) MARK ON HISTORY. “NASA wants nuclear-contaminated Santa Susana site to be made a historic landmark”. I guess that this is the first time I ever heard about the meltdown is inherently explained by the cover-up. But I grew up at the other end of the San Fernando Valley feeling the earth tremble when they used to test rockets over there.

The site of America’s first nuclear meltdown — and subsequent cover-up — in the picturesque hills of Ventura County may soon join Hearst Castle, the cable cars of San Francisco, and the Santa Barbara Mission as an official landmark in the National Register of Historic Places.

In what some have described as a cynical attempt by a U.S. government agency to avoid a long-promised cleanup of toxic and radioactive contaminants, NASA has nominated the Santa Susana Field Laboratory for official listing asa traditional cultural property.

…Hidden within the chaparral and rocky peaks of the Simi Hills, the Santa Susana Field Lab conducted research that was critical to the nation’s Cold War ambitions, yet toxic to the Earth. The partial meltdown released radioactive gasses that the public was never warned about, and spent rocket fuel, heavy metals and other toxins contaminated the soil and groundwater.

…Now, NASA and a coalition of Native American groups have proposed the area be designated a traditional cultural district. The move has been opposed by critics, who fear that strict laws protecting Native American artifacts, combined with terms of the 2010 agreement, could make it difficult to clean up contamination.

(8) WHY JUST BEING NOMINATED IS A PLUS. The Dragon Awards nominations inspired John Scalzi to signal boost his 2019 post “Hey, Let’s Talk Awards For a Bit: A Handy Guide For Dealing With Them”. He makes many points drawn from his experience as a nominated writer. For example —  

4. Winning an award is not always as important as being a finalist. I can speak to this personally: In terms of my career, it was far more important for me to have been nominated for the Best Novel Hugo award in 2006, than it was for me to win it in 2013. Why? Because in 2006 I was new to the field, and having my first novel nominated was a thing, especially when coupled with the nomination for the Campbell Award for Best New Writer. I was the first person in more than twenty years to get nominated for the Campbell and Best Novel in the same year, and it changed my status in the field from “who is John Scalzi” to “oh, that’s John Scalzi.”

I didn’t win the Hugo that year (nor should I have: Spin by Robert Charles Wilson won, and deservedly so), but it didn’t matter because the boost put me in a different career orbit. When I did win the Best Novel award, several years later, it was great, and I loved it, and I wouldn’t trade the experience. But careerwise, it wasn’t a transforming event. It was a confirming event. My professional career didn’t change all that much after I won. Whereas being nominated earlier was transforming, and ultimately more important to my career.

(9) BOOKS ARE FLYING OUT THE DOOR. Entertainment Weekly reports “Twilight companion novel Midnight Sun sells 1 million copies in first week”.

…The novel, which follows the love story between vampire Edward Cullen and high schooler Bella Swan that fans originally fell for in the first Twilight book back in 2005, is currently No. 1 on USA Today’s Best-Selling Books List as well as on The New York Times’s Children’s Series List. While the original book series —which was adapted into a franchise of movies starring Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson in the leading roles — was told from the point of view of Bella, this version takes readers inside the mind of her bloodsucking boyfriend, Edward.

Something about that last line sounds a little off….

(10) BITING FOR BYTES. What made me think of that headline, I wonder, “The Big Idea: Julie E. Czerneda” at Whatever.

…Esen the Living Archive

When I first envisioned Web-beings, it was a thought experiment on a biological basis for being semi-immortal. I arrived at the notion of organisms who manipulate their molecular structure using energy to repair aging and damage. It led me to aliens who’d hide themselves by cycling, as I called it, into the form of shorter-lived intelligent species. To be convincing, they’d need to know how to behave as one. Thus I had them (there were six at the start) collect and share everything they discovered about a species, from its biology (and thus how to be that form) to every aspect of society and culture.

When your memory consists of your flesh, you’re able to store vast amounts of information, which Web-beings exchange by biting off bits of one another. (I love my job.)…

(11) A CONZEALAND SOUVENIR. W.O.O.F. #45 put together by the Worldcon Order of Fan-Editors for CoNZealand is a free download from eFanzines [PDF file]. It boasts a cover by Tim Kirk, and contributions from John Purcell, Chris Garcia, Rich Lynch, Chuck Connor, Ahrvid Engholm, Evelyn & Mark Leeper, David Schlosser, Mark Blackman, Andrew Hooper, Murray Moore, Kees van Toorn, Wolf von Witting, R. Laurraine Tutihasi, Roger Hill, Alan Stewart, and Phil Wlodarczyk. Guy H. Lillian III served as the Offcial Editor.  

(12) I DON’T KNOW — THIRD BLAST! On the Dragon Awards site: “A Blast from the Past (Winners) – Part 3” with Kevin J. Anderson, Nick Cole, Larry Correia, Richard Fox, Claudia Gray, Brian Niemeier, S.M. Stirling, and Harry Turtledove.

If you were a voting electorate of one, what book by any other author would you give a Dragon Award to? What books by other authors would you recommend to those who voted for or enjoyed your book?

Nick Cole: I’m going to decline naming any authors because I have too many talented friends. If you enjoyed Ctrl Alt Revolt!, I guess I would recommend that you read any book by any author who’s been cancelled. Instead of just arbitrarily listening to someone’s opinion on some author and why they should be banned, blacklisted, and their works burned in a bonfire either digital or physical, I think you should take the time to read that book, listen to that person, and come to the conclusion yourself.

(13) BOOK ANNVERSARY.

  • August 2015 [Item by Cat Eldridge.] The House of Shattered Wings, the first of her Dominion of The Fallen series by French-Vietnamese author Aliette de Bodard was published by Roc in the U.S.  It would be the first novel in what has been a prolific and award-rich writing career. In addition to the decadent, ruined Paris set of the Dominion of The Fallen series, there’s her Xuya stellar empire where she makes rich use of her French-Vietnamese heritage. Of the new writers I’ve been reading (and most are female), I think she’s one that bears watching as it’ll be interesting to see what new universes come from her. And yes I’m waiting for the first Xuya novel somewhat impatiently.
The House of Shattered Wings by Aliette de Bodard cover art by Nekro
The House of Shattered Wings by Aliette de Bodard cover art by Nekro

(14) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

  • August 13, 1953 — George Pal’s adaptation of H.G. Wells’ The War Of The Worlds premiered in Atlantic City, New Jersey. (Not New York City as is popularly believed.) It was directed by Byron Haskin from the screenplay by Barré Lyndon. It starred Gene Barry and Anne Robinson. It was narrated by Cedric Hardwicke. The film was both a critical and box office success with it earning back its budget in its first run. And it would won an Academy Award for Special Effects. Audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes currently give it a 71% rating. (CE)

(15) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]

  • Born August 13, 1895 Bert Lahr. Best remembered  and certainly beloved as The Cowardly Lion in The Wizard of Oz, as well as his counterpart who was a Kansas farmworker. It’s his only genre role, though In the war film Meet the People, he would say “Heavens to Murgatroyd!” which was later popularized by a cartoon character named Snagglepuss. (Died 1967.) (CE)
  • Born August 13, 1899 Alfred Hitchcock. If he’d only done his two Alfred Hitchcock series which for the most part was awesome, that’d be enough to get him Birthday Honors. But he did some fifty films of which a number are genre such as The Birds and Psycho. Though I’ve not read it, I’ve heard good things about Peter Ackroyd’s Alfred Hitchcock. (Died 1980.) (CE)
  • Born August 13, 1909 Tristram Coffin. He’s best remembered for being Jeff King in King of the Rocket Men, a Forties SF serial, the first of three serials featuring this character. He showed up on the Fifties Superman series in different roles, sometimes on the side of Good, sometimes not. He played The Ambassador twice on Batman in. “When the Rat’s Away the Mice Will Play” and “A Riddle a Day Keeps the Riddler Away”. (Died 1990.) (CE)
  • Born August 13, 1922 Willard Sage. He showed up on Trek as Thann, one of the Empaths in “Empath”. He was Dr. Blake in Colossus: The Forbin Project, and had roles in The Land of GiantsInvadersThe Man from U.N.C.L.E.The Outer Limits and The Sixth Sense. (Died 1974.) (CE)
  • Born August 13, 1928 – Sir George Pollock, Bt.  The 5th baronet (an oversimplification); pursued photography that had light itself as its subject; invented color photographs using controlled light, originally through glass, which he called Vitrograph; later, large-scale photographic murals.  Five book and magazine covers for us; here is New Writings in SF 3.  Two album covers for His Master’s Voice; here is HQM 1008 with Stravinsky’s Soldier’s Tale (translation in part by Michael Flanders!), here is HQM 1026 with Prokofievand Shostakovich.  Here is Galactic Event.  Website here (under re-construction but some help).  Appreciation by the Photographic Alliance of Great Britain here (“NGV” is Nat’l Gallery of Victoria) (PDF).  (Died 2016) [JH]
  • Born August 13, 1932 – John Berkey.  A hundred seventy covers, two hundred twenty interiors.  Mixed his own colors.  Here is Starman Jones.  Here is Star SF 6.  Here is the Nov 94 SF Age.  Here is a Star Wars book.  Here is One Giant Leap.  Four artbooks; lastly J. Frank ed., The Art of John Berkey.  Society of Illustrators Hall of Fame.  Spectrum Grand Master.  Website here.   (Died 2008) [JH]
  • Born August 13, 1945 – Rita Krupowicz.  (She usually signed “R.J. Krupowicz”.)  Ten covers, as many interiors.  Here is The Dark Cry of the Moon.  Here is the Nov 85 Fantasy & Science Fiction.  This is from The Vortex Library on Twitter.  (Died 1991) [JH]
  • Born August 13, 1952 – Donna Barr, 68.  Enlisted in the U.S. Army, school-trained Teletype operator.  Much of her work self-published, available electronically.  Stinz was serialized in the Eclipse Comics series The Dreamery (hello, Lex Nakashima).  GURPS (Generic Universal RolePlaying System) and Traveller role-playing books.  “I usually do a rough on scrap paper (junk mail has lots of blank backs!), happily cutting and pasting, then I copy the whole thing (so the back is clear), rearrange the copy backwards on the back of the final paper, slap in some lettering guides, flip it over on a light table, and use it as a rough guide while I ink.  No penciling, and no erasing.”  Website here.  [JH]
  • Born August 13, 1974 – Christina Henry, 46.  A dozen novels, half a dozen shorter stories.  Alice, Red Queen and Looking Glass are “a dark and twisted take on Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland”; The Girl in Red is “a post-apocalyptic Red Riding Hood novel”.  The Ghost Tree, expected next month, is “an homage to all the coming-of-age horror novels I read when I was younger – except all those books featured boys as the protagonists when I longed for more stories about girls.  Just to clarify, though – this is not a young adult novel; it’s intended for an adult audience (like all of my work).”  [JH]
  • Born August 13, 1977 Damian O’Hare, 43. Though you might know him from  the Pirates of the Caribbean films, The Curse of the Black Pearl and  On Stranger Tides where he played Gillette, I know him as the voice of John Constantine on Justice League Action. He also showed up in Agent Carter. (CE)
  • Born August 13, 1990 Sara Serraiocco, 30. She plays the complex role of Baldwin on the Counterpart series which I’ve got on the iPad for watching soon. Anyone watch this? (CE) 
  • Born August 13, 1990 – Marlon Pierre-Antoine, 30.  “Helena’s Empire” is an E-book novelette.  Its sequel Wandering Stars explores a teenage girl’s whblooming romance with Lucifer (i.e. after his fall), whom she meets on a beach.  MP ranks The Divine Comedy above Animal Farm, both below The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.  [JH]

(16) COMICS SECTION.

(17) DC SECRET HISTORY. “John Ridley Unveils ‘The Other History of the DC Universe'”The Hollywood Reporter has the story.

Years after the completion of the second outing of his alternate history series The American Way12 Years a Slave screenwriter John Ridley is returning to comics to reveal The Other History of the DC Universe. The long-awaited series, exploring DC’s lengthy comic book mythology from a new angle, has been newly scheduled for a November release.

The five-part series, originally announced in 2018, re-examines important and iconic moments from DC’s comic book history from the point of view of characters from traditionally disenfranchised groups, including Jefferson Pierce — better known as Black Lightning — and Renee Montoya (The Question). Giuseppe “Cammo” Camuncoli, Andrea Cucchi, and colorist José Villarrubia are the artists for the series, with covers from Camuncoli and Jamal Campbell (Far Sector, Naomi)….

(18) THE AIRING OF GRIEVANCES. “Netflix soured the live-action remake of Avatar: The Last Airbender, its showrunners say” – a story on Vox.

In a rare public fallout for Netflix, the creators of the platform’s highly anticipated, live-action adaptation of Avatar: The Last Airbender, the acclaimed Nickelodeon cartoon, have walked away from the project.

Avatar: The Last Airbender’s full run became available on Netflix this past June, attracting a huge audience and reigniting the 2000s cartoon’s popularity. But in separate posts published to their respective blogs and InstagramsAvatar franchise creators Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko said they were no longer involved with the previously announced Netflix remake, due to prolonged creative differences.

“When Netflix brought me on board to run this series alongside Mike two years ago,” Konietzko wrote in his Instagram post, “they made a very public promise to support our vision. Unfortunately, there was no follow-through on that promise. … [T]he general handling of the project created what I felt was a negative and unsupportive environment.”

“I realized I couldn’t control the creative direction of the series, but I could control how I responded,” DiMartino added on his own website. “So, I chose to leave the project.”…

(19) HALLOWEEN CUISINE. The Horror Writers Association calls on members to stir up some entries for the “Horror D’oeuvres Recipe Contest”.

(20) THE FORUM ON BRADBURY. Today’s episode of BBC’s The Forum: “Ray Bradbury, a master of science fiction”.

”People ask me to predict the future, when all I want to do is prevent it.” Ray Bradbury has been acclaimed as the writer most responsible for bringing modern science fiction into the literary mainstream but, as the quote above shows, he regarded himself as the author of modern philosophical fables, rather than a sci-fi writer. In his dystopian works, such as Fahrenheit 451, he holds up a mirror to contemporary society and then transposes it into fantastical and futuristic scenarios. Bradbury was a prolific writer who tried his hand at everything from poems and novels to TV and radio scripts but it’s his early short stories which he produced in his twenties that are perhaps the most imaginative.

To mark the centenary of Bradbury’s birth, Rajan Datar is joined by three Bradbury experts to help him navigate through the author’s prodigious output: Professor Jonathan Eller from Indiana University who is also the Director of the Center for Ray Bradbury Studies; Dr. Miranda Corcoran who teaches American literature at University College Cork with particular interest in science fiction, horror and the gothic; and Dr. Phil Nichols who combines research into Bradbury’s TV and other media work with the teaching of Film and Television Production at Wolverhampton University.

(21) TOONING OUT. Camestros Felapton’s attention was drawn to “The Webtoon Short Story Contest” by Vox Day’s complaints that his Arkhaven Comics entry got no love from the judges:

Where there are stories gathered together there are story competitions and Webtoon is no different. They recently held their Short Story competition with the winners announced here https://www.webtoons.com/en/challenge/contest/us-contest-2020. It’s a juried award with cash prizes that splits winners and runners up into two categories: “Brain” for stories that blow your mind and “Heart” for stories that warm your heart (Rules and FAQs).

“Why are you telling us all this Camestros?” I hear you say….

Camestros proceeds to make some interesting observations.

After looking at those, you can also read Vox’s complaints in “Unappreciated and unawarded” [Internet Archive]. (Or not!)

And it wasn’t just unawarded. Midnight’s War somehow didn’t even qualify as one of the 36 runners-up despite being one of the top 10 ranked in Popularity and earning a higher rating than two out of the three Silver winners.

This tells me that Arkhaven needs to seriously rethink our plan to use Webtoons as a platform…. 

(22) NUH-UHHH! “Dwayne Johnson Can’t Convince His Daughter He Starred In ‘Moana'”NPR transcript.

Dwayne Johnson’s character in the Disney film Moana is beloved by kids everywhere. However, his daughter refuses to believe that her dad lent the character his voice.

(23) FIRST-PERSON NON-SHOOTERS. “The U.S. Military Is Using Esports As A Recruitment Tool” – another NPR transcript.

…JAY PRICE, BYLINE: Esports has exploded in the past few years. There are pro leagues, bricks and mortar arenas, players with six-figure salaries. Millions of people log on to streaming platforms like the Amazon owned Twitch to watch games and interact with players and each other. Many are of recruiting age. The military has taken notice. Major General Frank Muth just finished a stint leading U.S. Army Recruiting Command.

FRANK MUTH: This really has brought us into the modern era of where this generation and the next generation – they’re mainly hanging out online all the time.

PRICE: The four largest military services all now have teams or official players. Sergeant Nicole Ortiz is on the Army’s team. Her role includes playing games while socializing and explaining military life to viewers, like her own as an IT specialist.

NICOLE ORTIZ: A lot of them, they look at movies and think that the Army is just about war and shooting guns. In reality, I used to work at a help desk.

PRICE: Recruiting brass say the new esports push is already helping, especially given the difficulties of face-to-face recruiting during the pandemic. Part of the allure is being able to interact directly with viewers through the chat function. And that’s where the military’s esports initiative ran into some trouble.

KATIE FALLOW: What they did here is impermissible under the First Amendment.

PRICE: Attorney Katie Fallow is with the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University. She represents an activist named Jordan Uhl. On the Army and Navy Twitch channels, he posted messages including, what’s your favorite U.S. war crime? Uhl was banned from both, along with dozens of others who posted similar messages or other comments the military gamers deemed improper.

FALLOW: Because they basically said, we don’t like that you’re raising questions about war crimes or things that the military is sensitive about. And they blocked people based on their viewpoints.

(24) SOONER OF LATER IT ALL ADDS UP. In “The Cost of Perseverance, in Context”, the Planetary Society says the cost of the latest Mars Exploration Rover mission sounds quite modest compared to some other chosen figures.

NASA expects to spend approximately $2.7 billion on the Perseverance rover project. This number can sound large, even excessive, to some—but it’s a number that demands context. Let’s give it some….

The total cost of the Perseverance rover is equivalent to…

(25) FAILURE TO LAUNCH. “Bird watching: The robin that thinks a cuckoo is its baby” (despite the cuckoo being bigger than the robin…) Short BBC video.

They say birds of a feather flock together, but what are the chances of a robin and cuckoo sharing a bit of lunch?

Well, County Donegal woman Maureen Carr captured the moment a red-breasted bird shared its meal.

(26) PUT IT IN REVERSE. BBC reports “London bus garage to become world’s largest ‘trial power station’”.

…Northumberland Park garage will host vehicle-to-grid technology, which feeds energy stored in parked electric buses back into the electricity network.

If the government-funded Bus2Grid project is rolled out across London it could power an estimated 150,000 homes.

The project will begin in November and run for three years.

Putting energy back into the grid when demand is high and recharging buses when demand is low helps make the network more efficient by balancing the peaks and troughs.

Ian Cameron, head of innovation at UK Power Networks, said: “A fleet of bus batteries harnesses large amounts of electricity and they are habitual, with regular and predictable routes, driving patterns and timings.

“That means we can easily predict and plan for how we can use any spare electrical capacity they can offer.”

(27) FORBIDDEN KNOWLEDGE. Forbidden Planet, the world’s largest and best-known comic book and cult entertainment retail chain, is throwing itself a 42nd birthday party — Forbidden Planet 42 – an online event featuring many genre and other celebrities. 

On Saturday August 29th 2020ForbiddenPlanet.com will play host to a huge range of celebrity interviews, as alumni from the worlds of science fiction, comics & popular culture come together to help the store celebrate 42 years of pop-culture addiction – and ponder the answer to The Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe and Everythingwith an all-star cast of our oldest friends & customers! 

This star-studded online event will feature new, exclusive interviews with some of Forbidden Planet’s most celebrated customers including William ShatnerDMCNeil Gaiman, Alice CooperJonathan RossGerard WayGarth EnnisKevin Smith, Michael Moorcock, Simon Pegg, Mark MillarDan Slott, V.E. Schwab, Dave GibbonsBrian BollandDirk MaggsChris Claremont & Ben Aaronovich amongst others, hosted by Forbidden Planet’s Andrew Sumner.

 As part of the Forbidden Planet 42 celebrations, this online extravaganza will also host a tribute to Forbidden Planet’s old friend – the late, great Douglas Adams (The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy) in the shape of a rare, never-before-heard interview with Douglas (recently discovered in the Forbidden Planet vaults) conducted by another old pal, celebrated author Neil Gaiman.

[Thanks to Kathryn Sullivan, John King Tarpinian, JJ, John Hertz, Rose Embolism, Chip Hitchcock, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Gordon Van Gelder, Martin Morse Wooster, Michael Toman, and Andrew Porter for some of the ridiculous number of stories in today’s Scroll. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Olav Rokne.]

More Bradbury Literary Dividends

(1) IN VINO VERITAS. How’s your Finnish? Tähtivaeltajablogi has put up a post about the translation of Bradbury’s Dandleion Wine, “Kirjat – Ray Bradbury: Voikukkaviiniä”. The beautiful cover speaks for itself!

(2) LASFL DAZE. “Ray Bradbury’s Clubhouse” chronicles Ray’s earliest contact with fandom at First Fandom Experience.

…In Surround Yourself With Your Loves and Live Forever, edited by John L. Coker III, Bradbury’s friend Ray Harryhausen later recalled:

“In the mid-1930s when I was still in high school, Forry told me about the little brown room in Clifton’s Cafeteria, where the Los Angeles chapter of the Science Fiction League would meet every Thursday. Robert Heinlein used to come around, and a guy named Ray Bradbury. We were a group who liked the unusual.

“Ray would arrive wearing roller skates. After selling newspapers on the street corner he would skate to the meetings because he had no money. He used to go meet the stars at the Hollywood Theater where they did weekly radio broadcasts.”

(3) RAY & RAY. Eyes on Cinema presents an undated video of these two friends and creators in dialog: “The importance of curiosity with Ray Bradbury and Ray Harryhausen.”

(4) CALLING. This is from an interview with Tobias S. Buckell in the June Locus.  Buckell grew up biracial in the Caribbean Islands.

“Ray Bradbury has a story in The Martian Chronicles about a couple with a kid that dies.  The Martians can adopt whatever form people around them want, so one of them goes to their parents and looks just like the kid.  Their son is back from the dead, and they don’t care why–they fold him into their routine.  He starts disappearing a lot, so they follow him, and realize he’s also being a lot kid for another family along the way.  The two families call him back and forth like a dog until he just rips apart and dies.  I read that in high school in the US Virgin Islands and broke into tears.  That story literalizes a metaphor about the question you asked earlier, about being pulled to one side or the other.  That story is not about being biracial–but for me it was.”

(5) DESPARACION DE LOS LIBROS. Ray Bradbury was interviewed by Cristina Mucci on the Argentine TV show Los siete locos in 1997. The program is “dedicated to the dissemination of books and culture.” Bradbury’s answers were broadcast with Spanish subtitles. Early on, he was asked about Fahrenheit 451.

(6) A VISIT ON CABLE TV. The Planetary Society has posted this 1982 interview with Bradbury on their YouTube channel.

Mat Kaplan crossed paths with author, poet, and visionary Ray Bradbury many times across three decades. UK Planetary Radio fan and Bradbury expert Dr. Philip Nichols recently revealed that he had a VHS copy of Mat’s first interview with Ray, conducted in 1982. The author of The Martian Chronicles was a frequent visitor to Long Beach, California where Mat managed a cable television channel. Here’s that interview.

(7) SCREEN PASS. Christine Novell considers “Modern Plagues and the Prescience of Ray Bradbury” at The Imaginative Conservative.

…In the world of pandemia in 2020, Bradbury’s stories resonate with a different irony. For those who can afford the technology, screen life has become more critical than ever, critical to education, business, government, and ministry. It has become a way of connecting, a method of community. It keeps us close, yet as Bradbury thought, isolated from our neighbors and family. But that’s the nature of the current virus, a destroyer of community. Bradbury did not predict a plague-inspired isolation, at least not this type of plague.

Instead I think he saw technology as the plague that isolates, a relentless social force. He would ask us, “What are we dependent on? What can we not live without?” As if Bradbury was thinking aloud, he offers several “solutions.” We could destroy technology, especially if we realize it controls us too much. In “The Murderer” (1953) Albert Brock is arrested for shooting a television set, murdering a telephone, a wall radio, a wrist radio, intercom system, and other things. Brock is happily committed to an institution for six months in a quiet cell. This is the stance of a rebel, not a conformist….

(8) THE TAKEAWAY. Sam Weller, the Bradbury biographer, has assembled an online course for Columbia College Chicago, “Creative Storytelling Featuring Ray Bradbury”.

Experience the transformative power of creative writing through the life and works of famed fantasy writer, Ray Bradbury. As the author of Fahrenheit 451, Bradbury remains one of the 20th century’s most visionary and celebrated writers. This course explores practical creative writing strategies through a deep dive into the “dark fantasy” of Ray Bradbury.

(9) APOLLO 11 NIGHT. Ray Bradbury is interviewed on the night of the first moon landing by Mike Wallace. From Comic-con 2009, Ray’s own DVD. Part 1 of 2

Ray Bradbury Moon Landing Interview part 2

Marc Scott Zicree (“Mr. Sci-Fi”) tells where he was when the Moon landing happened. And he also relates Ray Bradbury’s anecdote about why he skipped out on David Frost’s show that night to find someone who would interview him about this great event.

(10) WICKED GOOD. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In the Washington Post, Angela Haupt asked 13 novelists “which books they like best when they need to get away.”  Pierce Brown recommended Something Wicked This Way Comes.  Diana Gabaldon is the only sf or fantasy novelist whose name I recognize (I don’t know current YA novelists) and she recommended Shogun. “Salman Rushdie, Diana Gabaldon and other authors reflect on the books they find most transporting”.

(11) NO THANKS. It’s a 1980 rejection letter from Ray Bradbury to Stan Lee. Makes you wonder what Stan submitted to Ray…

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, and Martin Morse Wooster, for these stories.]

Pixel Scroll 10/24/19 Is He In Dublin Or Is He In Well-(ington), That Fifth And Filed Pixelnel

(1) EXTERMINATE REPAIRS! We know what to look for next season: “Daleks spotted on Bristol’s Clifton Suspension Bridge ‘closed for inspection'”.

Daleks have been spotted on Bristol’s Clifton Suspension Bridge ahead of a new Doctor Who TV series.

The bridge website had published an advanced closure notice saying it would shut overnight on Tuesday for an inspection of the chain anchorages.

But photos of Doctor Who’s nemeses with production crew on the structure have been widely shared by fans online.

A spokeswoman for the BBC programme refused to say why they were on the bridge but said: “Watch this space”.

(2) DANGER TOY. When it goes up for auction next month, “Rare, ‘holy grail’ Star Wars toy could be worth $500G”.

The “Boba Fett J-slot rocket-firing prototype” was never produced because of safety concerns from the shooting mechanism, SWNS reports. However, between 80 and 100 of them were made for testing, but only 24 of them are believed to have survived, adding to the collectible’s scarcity value.

(3) WHEEL OF TIME JEWELRY DEADLINE. Badali Jewelry makes officially licensed jewelry for fantasy authors — Jim Butcher, Pierce Brown, Naomi Novik among others — however this is the last weekend they can sell their Wheel of Time jewelry before the license ends because of the new TV show. October 28 is the last day. Badali’s designs were approved personally by Robert Jordan. They are a family-owned business and everything is hand-crafted. 

(4) BEZOS THE TREKKER. A profile of Jeff Bezos by Franklin Foer in the November Atlantic: “Jeff Bezos’s Master Plan”.

Before Bezos settled on Amazon.com, he toyed with naming his unlaunched store MakeItSo.com.  He entertained using the phrase because he couldn’t contain a long-standing enthusiasm.  The rejected moniker was a favored utterance of a man Bezos idolizes: the captain of the starship USS Enterprise-D, Jean-Luc Picard.

Bezos is unabashed in his fanaticism for -Star Trek- and its many spin-offs.  He has a holding company called Zefram, which honors  the character who invented warp drive.  He persuaded the makers of the film Star Trek Beyond to give him a cameo as a Starfleet official.  He named his dog Kamala, after a woman who appears in an episode as Picard’s ‘perfect’ but unattainable mate.  As time has passes, Bezos and Picard have physically converged.  Like the interstellar explorer, played by Patrick Stewart, Bezos shaved he remnant strands on his high-gloss pate and acquired a cast-iron physique.  A friend once said that Bezos adopted his strenuous fitness regime in anticipation of the day that he, too, would journey to the heavens.

(5) WAITING FOR THE LIGHT TO TURN GREEN. Kevin Polowy, in the Yahoo Entertainment story “‘Deadpool 3’ is ‘still in the works’: Writers give us MCU update, envision ‘Pool opposite Peter Parker” has an interview with Deadpool screenwriters Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick (who also wrote Zombieland: Double Tap) who say that Deadpool 3 has not been greenlit but they have hopes of working within the MCU eventually.

“It still is,” Reese, who with his writing partner has another new sequel, Zombieland: Double Tap, currently in theaters. “We sat with [Marvel Chief Creative Officer] Kevin Feige before the merger and we’re not allowed to talk to him about it. I think Ryan sat down with him more recently. But it’s still in the works. … They’re trying to work something out and then hopefully we can come through with something cool.”

“I think the promise is that Deadpool will live in his R-rated universe that he was living in at Fox,” Wernick added. “And then over time hopefully we can play with some of those MCU toys in the sandbox, and bring that into his world and have him brought into their world. So we’ll see, it’s a fun, exciting time.”

(6) ATTENTION FUTURE ASTRONOMERS. The Planetary Society is encouraging people to support the Kickstarter for The Search for Planet X game. The makers have reached their funding goal but there are fun stretch goals and rewards in store (especially for Society members). The campaign ends on 30 October.

Inspired by Mike Brown and Konstantin Batygin’s “Planet Nine” hypothesis, Foxtrot Games has created a game capturing the thrill of discovery and the puzzling process of astronomical investigation.

You’ll play the role of an astronomer making observations and using deduction to determine the location of a hypothetical planet. The board game uses a companion app to randomly determine the location of the objects each game, and players interact with the app during the game to conduct their research.

Our partners at Foxtrot Games are committed to providing engaging, interpersonal experiences through beautiful and approachable tabletop games that celebrate what’s good in the world(s).

(7) TODAY IN HISTORY.

  • October 24, 1997 Gattaca premiered. Starring Ethan Hawke and Uma Thurman, it was written, directed and co-produced by Andrew Niccol who did the same for The Truman Show save directing it. It did exceptionally well with audiences and reviewers rating 82% at Rotten Tomatoes. It lost to Contact in the Best Dramatic Presentation Award at the 1998 Hugo Awards given out at BucConeer. 

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born October 24, 1915 Bob Kane. Writer and artist co-creator with Bill Finger of Batman. Member of both the Jack Kirby Hall of Fame and the Will Eisner Comic Book Hall of Fame. (Died 1998.)
  • Born October 24, 1939 F. Murray Abraham, 80. Setting aside Star Trek: Insurrection which you know he’s been in, he’s had a fair amount of other work as well appearing in SlipstreamBeyond the StarsLast Action HeroMimicMuppets from SpaceThe All New Adventures of Laurel & Hardy in For Love or MummyThirteen Ghosts and Robin Hood.
  • Born October 24, 1952 ?David Weber, 67. Without doubt, best known for the Honor Harrington series which is most excellent. I really can’t say I’m familiar with his other work, so do chime in and tell what I’ve been missing. 
  • Born October 24, 1955 ?Jack Skillingstead, 64. Husband of Nancy Kress, he’s had three excellent novels (HarbingerLife on the Preservation and The Chaos Function) in just a decade. I’ve not read the new one yet but I’ve no reason not to assume that it’s not as good as his first two works. He’s due for another story collections as his only one, Are You There and Other Stories, is a decade old.
  • Born October 24, 1958 Liz Mortensen, 61. An LA con-runner fan. Chair of Loscon XXV.  She’s been involved in many LA area conventions. She’s a member of LASFS and SCIFI.  She was one of the organizers of the Roswell in 2002 hoax Worldcon bid. LASFS awarded her the Evans-Freehafer Trophy in 1998 and she was the Artist Guest of Honor at, and I kid you not, Fa-La-La-La-La-La-La-La Con, #7, a relaxacon.
  • Born October 24, 1971 ?Dervla Kirwan, 48. Miss Hartigan in “The Next Doctor”,  a Tenth Doctor story.  She’s Maeve Sullivan in the Shades series, and she played Petra Williams in the “Painkillers” episode of Randall & Hopkirk (Deceased).
  • Born October 24, 1971 Sofia Samatar, 48. She’s the author of the novels A Stranger in Olondria, winner of William L. Crawford Award, British Fantasy Award and the World Fantasy Award, and The Winged HistoriesTender (short stories)and Monster Portraits, a collaboration with her brother, the artist Del Samatar. 
  • Born October 24, 1972 Raelee Hill, 47. Sikozu Svala Shanti Sugaysi Shanu (called Sikozu) on Farscape. Genre wise, she’s also been on The Lost World series, Superman Returns, BeastMaster and Event Zero.

(9) COMICS SECTION.

  • The Lone Ranger and Tonto have an unexpected conversation in Bizarro.

(10) DRAWN THAT WAY. SYFY Wire tries to untangle “The complicated legacy of Batman co-creator Bob Kane”.

Should October 24 be a day of celebration in the comics world?

That happens to be the birthday of Bob Kane, the co-creator of Batman. Kane, who died in 1998, helped bring to life one of the most popular characters in popular culture. That type of achievement should merit an annual parade being thrown in one’s honor.

Except that according to nearly all accounts, the man who reaped the greatest rewards for the creation of the Dark Knight did so at the expense of others. To say Kane’s legacy is complicated is to massively understate things.

…Kane’s early vision of the character included red tights and a winged costume. It was Bill Finger, who worked at Kane’s studio as a ghostwriter, who would help create the visual aesthetic that would define Batman for all time. The cowl, the cape, and the darker color scheme for the costume all came from Finger. He came up with Gotham City, the Batcave, and the Batmobile, as well as Robin, Catwoman, and Commissioner Gordon. Finger even came up with the origin story of Bruce Wayne.

You tell me: Remove all those elements, and is the Bat-Man still Batman? …

(11) HOW DO YOU GET THIS OUT OF SECOND GEAR? Connor Hoffman, in “Porsche ad Star Wars Teaming To Build Taycan-Inspired Starship” in Car and Driver says that Porsche engineers are teaming with Star Wars to come up with a Porsche-inspired starship that will both be in The Rise of Skywalker and a subtle product placement for the Porsche Taycan, an electric sedan.

Lucasfilm creative director Doug Chiang says that the design will be a recipe featuring ingredients from the X-wing, Y-wing, and U-wing starships from the Star Wars movies, combined with pieces of Taycan design. The designers were given specific instructions: there must be two front entries, a large rear cargo door, and room for two pilots and a maximum of five crew members. It also needs to have a minimum of two and a maximum of four engines, the company said.

The spaceship will be shown off at the Star Wars: Rise of Skywalker premiere in December alongside Porsche’s very own spaceship: the 2020 Taycan.

(12) READ IT BEFORE IT FADES AWAY. Fanac.org has started uploading issues of my ancient genzine Prehensile. Say, Issue 9 has some awfully funny bits! And plenty of other bits! Read at your own peril, especially “Dark Alleys of Fanhistory” by Dan Goodman.  

(13) LAST NIGHT ON JEOPARDY! Andrew Porter tuned into Jeopardy! yesterday in time to watch the contestants bomb again.

Final Jeopardy: 1930s Novel Characters.

Answer: Prior to a murder in a 1934 book, he says he hasn’t been a detective since 1927 & that his wife inherited a lumber mill.

Wrong questions: “Who is Sam Spade?” and “Who is Dick Tracy?”

No one got it right: “Who is Nick Charles?”

(14) ALL TOGETHER NOW. “Bezos floats ‘national team’ to build Moon lander”.

Jeff Bezos has announced the formation of a “national team” that will aim to build the lander that will take astronauts back to the Moon in 2024.

Bezos’ space company Blue Origin has teamed up with aerospace giants Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman and Draper to bid for the landing system.

The White House has set the ambitious goal of sending a man and a woman to the lunar South Pole within five years.

Bezos outlined the plan at a meeting in Washington DC.

The Amazon founder called the partnership “a national team for a national priority”.

Nasa had originally planned to mount the Moon return mission in 2028. But earlier this year, Vice President Mike Pence announced the administration’s plan to accelerate that timeline by four years.

(15) GOING DARK. “BBC News launches ‘dark web’ Tor mirror”.

The BBC has made its international news website available via the Tor network, in a bid to thwart censorship attempts.

The Tor browser is privacy-focused software used to access the dark web.

The browser can obscure who is using it and what data is being accessed, which can help people avoid government surveillance and censorship.

Countries including China, Iran and Vietnam are among those who have tried to block access to the BBC News website or programmes.

(16) 007 LICENSE TO DRIVE. The annual Nieman Marcus fantasy catalog offers seven Aston Martin DBS Superleggeras each personally designed by Daniel Craig, each for $700,007.  But with the car you get an edition of an Omega Seamaster limited to seven copies with 007 stuff on the watch case, two tickets to the premiere of No Time To Die in London along with airfare and hotel, and airfare (and nothing else).

[Thanks to Martin Morse Wooster, Chip Hitchcock, Contrarius, Cat Eldridge, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Mike Kennedy, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Andrew.]

Pixel Scroll 9/8/19 To Be Placed On Our “Do Not Teleport” List, Please Press 1

(1) WRITTEN AS A WARNING. Margaret Atwood was featured today on CBS Sunday Morning: “’The Handmaid’s Tale’ author Margaret Atwood: ‘I have never believed it can’t happen here’”.

…When asked her inspiration for the handmaids’ outfits, Atwood replied, “The concealment of the body, number one, and the limitation of the body, number 2, so other people can’t see you, but you also can’t see other people.

“So, that, and the Old Dutch Cleanser package from the 1940s,” she added. “A vision from my childhood.”

Outside the church, Atwood is recognized by teenagers attending day camp. At 79, she is Canada’s most famous living writer. She’s published 60 books, but “The Handmaid’s Tale” has overshadowed the others. In English, it’s sold more than eight million copies.

She began the book in West Berlin in 1984: “A symbolic year because of Orwell, and how could I be so corny as to have begun ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ in that year?  I couldn’t help it!”

(2) NO AWARD. David Pomerico was incensed that Anne Groell finished behind No Award in the Best Professional Editor, Long Form Hugo category. While some of these tweets are a bit overwrought (“Of course, maybe Anne wronged 97 of you somehow, but knowing her like do, I find that hard to believe”), it’s very fair to say most voters have only a very general idea what an editor does, and to wonder how they decided to fill out their ballots. Thread starts here.

I have observed in the fan categories that No Award votes can function as a protest against the existence of a category. If something similar is at work here, it would only be unfortunate collateral damage that a person received fewer votes than No Award on the first ballot. Note that although she wasn’t the first choice of very many voters, the sixth place runoff shows 446 people ranked Groell ahead of No Award.

(3) PKD’S FINAL RESTING PLACE. “Arts and Entertainment: Community celebrates Philip K. Dick” — The Fort Morgan (CO) Times covers a local PKD festival. Why Fort Morgan? For a couple of good reasons:

…PKD died in Santa Ana, California, on March 2, 1982, at the age of 53. After his death, Hollywood would make some of his work popular with films such as “Blade Runner” (based on his short story “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep”); “Total Recall” (based on “We can Remember it Wholesale”); “Minority Report” and “The Adjustment Bureau.”

Dick is buried at the Fort Morgan cemetery next to his twin sister, Jane, who died at 6 weeks old. That grave is a popular draw for fans of the prolific science fiction author from all over the world, with cemetery workers often seeing little trinkets related to his tales left on the stone.

Another connection to Fort Morgan with the late author is that his father’s family was from Fort Morgan.

Two years ago, an expert on author Philip K. Dick who goes by Lord Running Clam (aka David Hyde) saw his dream of having a PKD Festival held in Fort Morgan come true.

And this year, the second version of that every-two-years festival was held.

… One of the big events at this year’s PKD Festival was a panel discussion about “The Man In The High Castle.”

“The Man in the High Castle” is what many consider to be Dick’s first masterpiece, but not everyone feels that way. The panel consisted of Ted Hand, Dr. Andrew Butler, Tessa Dick and Frank Hollander.

(4) CLINGERMAN APPRECIATION. The Library of America’s “Story of the Week is “Mr. Sakrison’s Halt” by Mildred Clingerman (1918–1997), originally published in 1956 by Anthony Boucher in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, and recently anthologized in The Future Is Female! 25 Classic Science Fiction Stories by Women.

During the last couple of decades the name Mildred Clingerman has popped up in prominent spots around the science fiction universe. Her works have been included in several significant anthologies and even in textbooks; indeed, her story “Wild Wood” is one of the more memorable entries in the late David G. Hartwell’s landmark collection of Christmas fantasy tales. In 2014 she received a posthumous Cordwainer Smith Rediscovery Award, joining such previous honorees as R. A. Lafferty, Leigh Brackett, and the collaborative team Henry Kuttner and C. L. Moore. And two years ago her family assembled The Clingerman Files, a book collecting most of the science fiction stories that appeared during her lifetime, along with two dozen unpublished tales found in her papers.

(5) TRUE CONFESSION. Cat Rambo is taking inventory:

(6) Q&A. Odyssey Writing Workshops taps into the experience of a successful grad — “Interview: Graduate Erin Roberts”.

Your story “Thanks for the Memories,” an interactive story about a woman piecing her life together one memory at a time, came out in Sub-Q in December 2018. What were some of the challenges in writing a story structured that way?

I had so much fun writing “Thanks for the Memories,” and it’s based on a story I wrote for my last week of Odyssey. I could never make it quite work in prose, but making it interactive and letting the player/reader experience the feeling of trying to work out the main character’s past from within her shoes, using her memories, was the perfect fit of story and format. The hardest part of doing it, other than learning a new coding language to write the piece, was figuring out how to make the piece non-linear (so you could experience the memories in any order), but also structured (so there was a set beginning, middle, and end to drive the story). My solution was to create a frame narrative with a ticking clock and key moments that always happened when the player got through a certain number of memories. That way their experience of the memories could always be different, but the story would still have a shape and forward plot momentum. I like to think it worked out in the end.

(7) HINTS OFFERED. At Writer’s Digest, Robert Lee Brewer has curated a list of links to other WD articles that will show you “How to Write a Science Fiction Novel”.

Whether you want to write about peace-loving aliens or a heartbreaking dystopian future, there are a number of practical strategies for starting your novel, building your world, and landing a satisfying finish. In this post, learn how to write a science fiction novel using some of the best advice on WritersDigest.com.

(8) A HISTORIC CONNECTION. Actor Robert Picardo celebrates Star Trek’s premiere 53 years ago today by sharing Trek-related things found in storage boxes at The Planetary Society’s headquarters. One is a signed letter from Gene Roddenberry encouraging the Star Trek community to join the Society.

Star Trek: Voyager’s holographic doctor, Robert Picardo, also serves on The Planetary Society Board of Directors. However, he is not the first connection between Star Trek and The Planetary Society. In 1980, the creator of Star Trek, Gene Roddenberry, wrote a letter and sent it out to a Star Trek fans mailing list. In the letter, Gene invited his fans to join us on our mission to explore the cosmos. Hear the letter as read by Robert Picardo, listen to his Jean-Luc Picard impression, and see inside Bill Nye’s office for more Star Trek artifacts on hand at The Planetary Society.

(9) TODAY IN HISTORY.

  • September 8, 1966 Star Trek’s first aired episode, “The Man Trap,” was written by George Clayton Johnson.
  • September 8, 1973 Star Trek: The Animated Series premiered on this day.

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born September 8, 1911 William Morrow. He’s the first original Trek Admiral appearing as an Admiral in two episodes, Admiral Komack, in “Amok Time” and as Admiral Westervliet “For the World is Hollow and I Have Touched the Sky”.  Other genre appearances include Cyborg 2087, Mission ImpossibleColossus: The Forbin ProjectPanic in Year Zero!The Resurrection of Zachary Wheeler, Rollerball and Fantasy Island. (Died 2006.)
  • Born September 8, 1925 Peter Sellers. Chief Inspector Clouseau in the Pink Panther films which are surely genre, aren’t they? Of course, he had the tour de force acting experience of being Group Captain Lionel Mandrake and President Merkin Muffley and Dr. Strangelove in Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb. He also took multiple roles (even the Queen) in The Mouse That Roared. Amusingly he was involved in another of folk tale production over various mediums (film, radio, stage) including Cinderella, Tom Thumb, Mother Goose and Jack and The Beanstalk. (Died 1980.)
  • Born September 8, 1945 Willard Huyck, 74. He’s got a long relationship with Lucas first writing American Graffiti and being the script doctor on Star Wars before writing Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. And he was the writer and director on Howard the Duck which, yes, is a Lucasfilm. It’s the lowest rated on Rotten Tomatoes Lucasfilm production ever at 15% followed by Radioland Murders, the last script he’d write for Lucasfilm which would be a not quite so dismal 24%. 
  • Born September 8, 1948 Michael Hague, 71. I’m very fond of East of the Sun and West of the Moon retold by he and his wife Kathleen. Not to be missed are his Wind in The Willows and The Hobbit which are both lovely takes on those tales. 
  • Born September 8, 1954 Mark Lindsay Chapman, 65. Sorry DCU but the best Swamp Thing series was done nearly thirty years ago and starred the late Dick Durock as Swamp Thing and this actor as his chief antagonist, Dr. Anton Arcane. Short on CGI, but the scripts were brilliant. Chapman has also shown up in Poltergeist: The Legacy, The New Adventures of SupermanThe Langoliers and Max Headroom to name a few of his genre appearances.
  • Born September 8, 1965 Matt Ruff, 54. I think that his second book Sewer, Gas & Electric: The Public Works Trilogy is his best work to date though I do like Fool on The Hill a lot. Any others of his I should think about reading? 
  • Born September 8, 1966 Gordon Van Gelder, 54. From 1997 until 2014, he was editor and later publisher of The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, for which he was awarded twice, and quite well deserved they were, the Hugo for Best Editor Short Form. He was also a managing editor of The New York Review of Science Fiction from 1988 to 1993, for which he was nominated for the Hugo a number of times. 
  • Born September 8, 1971 Martin Freeman, 48. I’m not a fan of Peter Jackson’s Hobbit films but I really do think he made a very fine Bilbo Baggins. Now I will say that I never warmed to Sherlock with him and Benedict Cumberbatch. Elementary with Jonny Lee Miller and Lucy Liu works better for me.  
  • Born September 8, 1975 C. Robert Cargill, 44. He, along with Scott Derrickson and Jon Spaihts, worked on the script for Doctor Strange. More intriguingly they’re writing the script for The Outer Limits, a movie based on the television show. The film, produced by MGM, will be adapted from just the “Demon with a Glass Hand” episode begging the question of what they’re writing for a script given that Ellison did write the Writers Guild of America Awards Outstanding Script for a Television Anthology script. 

(11) COMICS SECTION.

(12) LOOK OUT BELOW. Speakers’ Corner finds an author who did a literal book launch: “Science Fiction Should Be Re-Named Science Prediction: Q&A With Sarah Cruddas”.

What inspired you to pick up a pen and write a book for children?

The Space Race: The Journey to the Moon and Beyond – which was released this May – is my third children’s book. Although I don’t see it as just a children’s book. Nearly all of us have a child like wonder about space, and I want to inspire as many people as possible about why space matters and how it is shaping our lives. What inspired me to write this book is that I wanted to inspire as many people as possible about why space matters. I even launched the book to the edge of space (using a balloon) to help showcase just how close space really is.

Wait, hang on – you actually launched your book into space?

Haha yes!

I launched my book to space using a special type of balloon filled with hydrogen gas. The science behind it is relatively simple, the gas in the balloon weighs less than the air around it, so that causes it to rise. The balloon continues to rise and expand until the air that surrounds is equal in pressure – at the edge of space at an altitude which in this case was 33.1km. It then pops and falls to the Earth by parachute.

However it’s also complicated in the sense, you have to notify the CAA and also track the balloon and predict rough landing sight using weather patterns. But it shows that space is truly not far away.

(13) GOOD AS GOLD. Somewhat unexpectedly, Joker has taken top prize at the Venice Film festival. Slate has the story: Joker Steals Golden Lion at Venice Film Festival!”.

               The Joker, that caliph of clowns, that prince of pranksters, that malevolent mischief-maker whose cunning capers continually confound the courageous crimefighters of Gotham City, has struck again! This time, the caped crusaders’ archest arch-nemesis has left Gotham for bella Italia—ancestral home of local heiress J. Pauline Spaghetti—to pull off his most daring, dastardly deed to date: Stealing the Golden Lion, the top prize at this year’s Venice Film festival, and awarding it to Joker, screenwriter and director Todd Phillips’ critically-acclaimed meditation on poverty, grief, and the myriad ways the social and economic forces of the Reagan era turned decent people into Clown Princes of Crime.

               The Joker’s fiendish feat of film flimflammery is a festival first: According to the Cinematic Milestone Bat-Disclosure Unit, Joker is the first superhero movie to win the Golden Lion. The festival jury, headed by Argentinean director Lucrecia Martel, has not commented on its role in the Joker’s scheme, but Commissioner Gordon believes that an empty box of “Joker Brand Film Festival Jury Hypnotic Gas Pellets (Italian Formulation)” found in the gondola where deliberations were held may hold a clue to the mystery. Authorities acknowledge, however, that their theory that the festival jury was biased in favor of supervillains is not entirely consistent with the fact that they awarded the festival’s next highest award, the Grand Jury Prize, to a small-time sex offender named Roman Polanski for An Officer and a Spy, a movie about the Dreyfus affair. Holy Ham-Handed Historical Analogy, Batman!

(14) NAVIGATING OZ. Daniel Tures looks back at the books and 1939 movie in “Dorothy, the Scarecrow, the Tin Man, the Lion, Oh My!” at the Los Angeles Public Library blog.

…As one of the cultural touchstones of the 20th century, almost any look into the history or production of The Wizard of Oz will spin the reader down endless rabbit holes of film criticism and intellectual wandering. From Judy Garland’s ruby slippers, silver shoes in Baum’s original book, illustrated by W.W. Denslow, to E. “Yip” Harburg and Harold Arlen’s iconic songs, and with heirs from The Wiz to the films of David Lynch, it stands at the crux of Hollywood history.

We tend to think of the books as being written in one place, and the movies based on them being made in another—yet strangely enough L. Frank Baum and his wife Maud Gage actually lived in the town of Hollywood from 1910 to 1919, at the end of his life, just as it was being transformed from a little-known agricultural paradise to a world-famous moviemaking one.

(15) KYLO REN IS DONE WITH IT. “Darth Vader’s Screen-Used Helmet From Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back Goes up for Auction”: ComicBook.com says you’ll need a wheelbarrow full of cash.

Are you a Star Wars fan with $250,000 to spend? If so, iCollector has an item for you! The online collectibles auction is boasting a Darth Vader helmet worn onscreen by David Prowse in Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back.

(16) HISTORY OF SF FILMS. Mr. Sci-Fi, Marc Scott Zicree, has been doing a History of Science Fiction, and in the third installment covers 1955 to 1959. He hopes viewers will support his efforts at www.patreon.com/marczicree.

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

Pixel Scroll 6/30/19 The Scroller I File, The Pixel I Get

(1) AVOIDING THE HIT PARADE. The Planetary Society welcomes you to enroll in “Asteroid Defense 101” “A short course introduction to asteroid impact and what we can do to prevent it.” It’s free.

In this course, you’ll learn about the threat of asteroid impact, the history of asteroid impacts on Earth, asteroids and comets in general, and The Planetary Society’s 5 step plan to prevent asteroid impact. At the end of the course you’ll be presented with resources to learn more, and encouraged to share what you’ve learned with others. The entire course can be completed in about an hour or a little bit more. See below to learn about the instructor and see the curriculum. Let’s save the world!

(2) HE’S IN THE BOOK. Henry Lien celebrated his discovery that he’s the subject of a Wikipedia article. “Achievement Unlocked,” he called it. The entry begins —

Lien is originally from Taiwan and lives in Hollywood, California. He has been an attorney, a teacher at UCLC Extension, and an art dealer in Los Angeles, representing artists from the Americas and Eurasia. He has also served as president of the West Hollywood Fine Art Dealers’ Association and on the board of the West Hollywood Avenues of Art and Design.

(3) ONE TO BEAM DOWN. The latest gatekeeping controversy inspired Kiya Nicoll to explain “I Was Born To Be A Fake Fan”.

…My first serious fannish activity was writing Star Trek: The Next Generation fanfic, largely focusing on my two favorite/self-insert characters: Data and Wesley Crusher.

My first social fanac was half-assedly joining a play-by-mail Starfleet simulation RPG.

My first “no shit there I was” fan story was giving a homemade snickerdoodle cookie to Brent Spiner.

You don’t get my fandom experience without Tolkien, for sure; but you damn sure don’t get it without Star Trek, either. Star Trek is where I start doing fandom, as a social thing broader than the scope of my family, rather than merely reading my father’s shelves ravenously. (Though of course my immediate social circle of fic writers included at least one person who sneered at anything involving Wesley Crusher positively, and I came away with the impression that she did it to fit in and I would be expected to do the same. So I stopped sharing my fic.)

I used to comment about the watershed of the post-Star Wars fandom experience; I am pretty sure that the post-Harry Potter fandom experience has only increased this phenomenon. Older fen I saw talk about being teased or bullied for liking science fiction and fantasy; I got a bit of that for reading, generally, but it was a given that I would read genre. Everyone did genre, at least people who actually read.

I was… sometime in my teens before I learned that there was stuff out there that wasn’t genre. It was the Doonesbury sequence on The Bridges of Madison County that did it. This wasn’t something that was explained to me – or remotely apparent to me – before then. Everything I read, I read as Strange People In Unfamiliar Situations, and the same principles applied that to Dickens and Robert Louis Stevenson and whatever nonsense was assigned in English class, where it worked just as well as it did on Niven and my beloved Cherryh.

One of my first encounters with old-school convention/zine fandom was being indirectly mocked for saying “sci-fi”, the way my father did, the way everyone I knew did. It was made clear to me that this was the mark of an Outsider, possibly an Interloper, certainly not someone who was qualified to be welcomed into the inner circles….

(4) BACK TO THE FUTURE. Gene Kranz, famed as the voice of Mission Control, helped celebrate the restoration of the historic facility: “NASA Reopens Apollo Mission Control Room That Once Landed Men on Moon” in the New York Times.

…On Friday, Mr. Kranz and Jim Bridenstine, the NASA administrator, cut a ribbon marking the official reopening of the restored Apollo Mission Control Center. It was a three-year, $5 million project, and every inch of the famed heart of America’s lunar aspirations was repaired and refurbished. Its reopening comes three weeks before the 50th anniversary of Neil Armstrong’s giant leap for mankind, and helps to kick off Apollo festivities across the country.

Apollo mission control had been abandoned in 1992, with all operations moved to a modernized mission control center elsewhere in the building. Center employees, friends, family — and anyone, really, who had access to Building 30 — could walk in, take a seat, take a lunch break and take pictures.

While they were there, they might take a button from one of the computer consoles. Or a switch or dial, anything small — a personal memento from an ancient American achievement. The furniture fabric and carpet underfoot grew threadbare. The room was dark; none of the equipment had power. Wires hung where rotary phones had once sat. The giant overhead screens in front of the room were damaged, and the room smelled of mildew. Yellow duct tape held carpet together in places….

(5) IT GETS WORSE. The Guardian tells us “German sci-fi fans lap up dystopian tales of Brexit Britain”.

“One basic rule of dystopian fiction is that the future should be worse than the present,” said the German novelist [Tom Hillenbrand]. “But in this case it turns out I was a bit too optimistic.

“In my book Britain has actually worked out how it wants to leave and the EU is preparing a new constitution as a result. The real Brexit is actually much more dystopian.”

Since Drone State was published in Germany to critical acclaim in 2014, two years before the EU referendum on EU membership, a new micro-genre has flourished in the country’s publishing industry: dystopian fiction about Brexit Britain.

(6) KGB. Fantastic Fiction at KGB reading series hosts Ellen Datlow and Matthew Kressel present Theodora Goss and Cadwell Turnbull on Wednesday, July 17, 7 p.m. at the KGB Bar.

Theodora Goss

Theodora Goss is the World Fantasy and Locus Award-winning author of novels, short stories, essays, and poetry, including debut novel The Strange Case of the Alchemist’s Daughter and sequel European Travel for the Monstrous Gentlewoman. She has been a finalist for the Nebula, Crawford, Seiun, and Mythopoeic Awards, as well as on the Tiptree Award Honor List, and her work has been translated into twelve languages. She teaches literature and writing at Boston University and in the Stonecoast MFA Program.

Cadwell Turnbull

Cadwell Turnbull is the author of the The Lesson. His short fiction has appeared in The Verge, Lightspeed, Nightmare, Asimov’s Science Fiction, The Best American Science Fiction and Fantasy 2018, and The Year’s Best Science Fiction and Fantasy 2019 (forthcoming). He lives with his wife in Somerville, Massachusetts. 

KGB Bar: 85 East 4th Street (just off 2nd Ave, upstairs.) New York, NY

(7) TODAY IN HISTORY.

  • June 30, 1971 Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory was released on this day

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born June 30, 1902 Lovat Dickson. Australian-born publisher and author who was half-brother of Gordon R Dickson. He wrote the biography H G Wells: His Turbulent Life and Times. (Died 1987.)
  • Born June 30, 1905 Nestor Paiva. Sometimes it only takes one film or series for a performer to get a Birthday write-up from me. Paiva makes it for Lucas the boat captain in The Creature from the Black Lagoon and its oft-forgotten sequel Revenge of the Creature. Though that was hardly his only genre role as his first role was in the early Forties as an uncredited prison guard in Tarzan’s Desert Mystery and he’d be in many a genre film and series over the decades as Prof. Etienne Lafarge in The Mole People, as the saloon owner in (I kid you not!) Jesse James Meets Frankenstein’s Daughter, Felicity’s Father in The Spirit Is Willing, Captain Grimby in “The Great Treasure Hunt” of The Adams Family and a Doorman in the “Our Man in Leotards” episode of Get Smart. (Died 1966.)
  • Born June 30, 1920 Sam Moskowitz. SF writer, critic, and historian. Chair of the very first World Science Fiction Convention held in NYC in 1939. He barred several Futurians from the con because they threatened to disrupt it in which was later called the Great Exclusion Act. In the Fifties, He edited Science-Fiction Plus, a short-lived genre magazine owned by Hugo Gernsback, and would edit several dozen anthologies, and a few single-author collections, most published in the Sixties and early Seventies. His most enduring legacy was as a historian of the genre with such works as Under the Moons of Mars: A History and Anthology of “The Scientific Romance” in the Munsey Magazines, 1912–1920 and Hugo Gernsback: Father of Science Fiction. (Died 1997.)
  • Born June 30, 1959 Vincent D’Onofrio, 60. Not Kingpin in that not terribly good or bad Daredevil film, but rather in the Daredevil series, Edgar the Bug in the only truly great Men in Black film and Vic Hoskins in Jurassic World. He also was Jason Whitney / Jerry Ashton in The Thirteenth Floor, loosely based upon  Simulacron-3, a early Sixties novel by Daniel F. Galouye. 
  • Born June 30, 1961 Diane Purkiss, 58. I’ve not read her Corydon Trilogy she wrote with Michael Dowling, her son, but I can say that  At the Bottom of the Garden: A Dark History of Fairies, Hobgoblins, Nymphs, and Other Troublesome Things is as splendid as the title suggests it is. She’s also written Fairies and Fairy Stories: A History.
  • Born June 30, 1966 Peter Outerbridge, 53. Dr. David Sandström in what I think is the underrated ReGenesis series as well as being Henrik “Hank” Johanssen in Orphan Black anda recurring role on Millennium as Special Agent Barry Baldwin. He’s currently in two series, The Umbrella Academy with a recurring role as The Conductor, and as Calix Niklosin in V-Wars, yet another Netflix SF series. 
  • Born June 30, 1972 Molly Parker, 46. Maureen Robinson on the current Lost in Space series. One-offs in Nightmare Cafe, The Outer Limits, The SentinelHighlander: The SeriesPoltergeist: The LegacyHuman Target and she appeared in The Wicker Man asSister Rose / Sister Thorn.

(9) COMICS SECTION.

(10) WILL YOU SEE IT AGAIN? Emergency Awesome gives a rundown of the extras tacked onto the end of the Avengers: Endgame re-release, done in hopes of topping Avatar’s box office record.

Covering new Avengers Endgame Post Credit Scene with Hulk from Endgame Re Release. Special Stan Lee Cameo Scene and Avengers Endgame Spider-Man Far From Home Post Credit Scene. New Footage, Deleted Scenes and Bonus Features. Most of which will be on the Avengers Endgame Blu Ray later this year.

(11) COURT IS IN SESSION. At Legal Eagle, “Real Lawyer Reacts to Daredevil (The Trial of Frank Castle).”

Is Frank Castle a hero or a villain? Is Matt Murdock a good lawyer or a bad one?

A legal analysis of Frank Castle’s trial from season 2 episode 7 and 8 of Marvel’s Daredevil. As Vulture eloquently put it: “In the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the “trial of the century” does not concern O.J. Simpson, but Frank Castle. It’s finally time for the Punisher to stand trial, and thanks to just about every imaginable thing going wrong, Nelson and Murdock must defend him against District Attorney Reyes, who has a stacked deck and enough clout to steamroll our favorite tiny firm with ease.”

(12) HUGO’S GREATEST MOMENTS. This is probably well-intended, but my goodness!

Translation: HUGO AWARD 2018: SCIENCE FICTION and FANTASY AWARD – SUMMARY WITH THE BEST MOMENTS http://www.

(13) SHOOTING SPARKS. The Monica Bellucci sf movie Nekrotronic has dropped its official trailer.

(14) NERO. Congratulations to fanartist Taral Wayne (creator of the File 770 masthead), who also is a coin collector and just acquired a fabulous Roman aureus.

To my surprise, the number quoted was not remotely as high as that. Just HOW high, I asked? He did a few calculations about his costs, and compared examples on line, and gave me a number that led me to swallow and say, “I can do that!” Mind you, I will be scraping together everything I can spare for the next three months, along with everything else I had already spend at the show, but I CAN do it. It will be the most expensive coin I have ever bought in the past, or am ever likely to buy in the future, and it was more expensive than anything else of any kind that I have ever bought, but IT IS MINE! I now own a gold aureus by the emperor Nero, roughly 54 to 68 AD. I think I have experienced an epiphany of sorts.

(15) BEST NEW WRITER. Bonnie McDaniel has posted her assessment of the Campbell Finalists. From the middle of her ballot —

3) S.A. Chakraborty (my review of her novel here).

This is an Arabic-inspired fantasy, set in the secret magical land of the daeva, or djinn. This world is well built, with a great weight of history and backstory conveyed without infodumping. There’s also some meaty themes of discrimination and oppression.

(16) RETRO HUGO NOMINEE DECODED. [Item by Cora Buhlert.] For all of us Retro Hugo voters who are confused by the rather incoherent horror film The Seventh Victim, here is an older article from Vice which explains why the movie is so strange: “The 1940s Horror Movie That Embraced Lesbianism and Satanism” (2017).

 The signs are plentiful. Jacqueline has recently married a lawyer Gregory Ward (Hugh Beaumont), yet shows no signs of wanting to take his name or be with him romantically. Ward reveals to Mary, “There’s something about your sister a man can never quite get hold of.” Jacqueline is also “miserable” with her life, necessitating regular visits to psychiatrist Dr Louis Judd. (The doctor is played sarcastically by Tom Conway, who reprises the same character from Lewton’s similarly odd 1942 masterpiece Cat People—a film that also tackles repressed sexuality.) It turns out that Jacqueline has fallen in with the secretive cult and is now wanted dead by its members, who fear that she has told her psychiatrist about them.

In short, the missing women everybody is looking for is a lesbian and because society doesn’t accept her, she becomes depressed and commits suicide. But Jacques Tourneur and Val Lewton weren’t allowed to do more than vaguely hint at the character’s sexual orientation, so they shoehorned in a plot about Satanists, since Satanists are apparently less scary than lesbians.The article certainly caused me to reevaluate the movie, since a) it’s now even less SFF than before, and b) equating lesbians with Satanists is pretty offensive.

(17) ALTERNATE MUSICAL HISTORY. Whether it’s sff or not isn’t something Leonard Maltin is concerned about – it’s the disappointing execution: Yesterday: What A Letdown”.

A good idea is a rare and precious gift. Screenwriter Richard Curtis has had many of them, leading to such films as Four Weddings and a Funeral, Love Actually and Notting Hill. He and Jack Barth had another good one: What if a time warp erased the whole world’s memory of The Beatles, and a struggling singer presented their songs as his own? They brought this concept to director Danny Boyle, whose enthusiasm led to Yesterday.

An idea, however, is not the same thing as a story. This film is an unfortunate example of a premise that doesn’t blossom into a full-fledged screenplay. The cast is engaging enough, with Himesh Patel as a hard-luck guy who has greatness thrust upon him and Lily James as his platonic pal. They’ve been like brother and sister since childhood, always there for each other, but neither one can admit that they are truly in love. This relationship, fraught with hesitations and crises, becomes repetitious and tiresome.

(18) PAPER ART. Colossal’s gallery shows how “Quilled Paper Sculptures by Sena Runa Embellish the Natural Forms of Everyday Objects and Animals”. Some sff images among them —  

Sena Runa (previously) twists, folds, and stacks layers of thick paper to create dynamic paper sculptures. The Turkish artist uses a wide range of hues to create chromatic elephants with a rainbow of shades, or work all of the brilliant blues of the ocean into a single sea turtle.

(19) KURTZMAN DEFROCKED. Midnight’s Edge explains why Alex Kurtzman can’t be fired but has been sidelined as the maven of all things Star Trek at CBS.

On June 27, CBS officially confirmed what Midnight’s Edge revealed almost two weeks earlier: that Michael Chabon is the new showrunner of Star Trek Picard. In this video, we will begin by going through what this implies about Alex Kurtzman and his current role, before moving on to what Chabon might bring to Picard.

(20) RE-VERSE. A visit to Bonnie McDaniel’s blog led me to rediscover this wonderful verse Stoic Cynic posted in comments in 2016 (it was a very good year!)

A fragmented excerpt from The Filer and the Astronaut by Louise Carol:

‘The time has come,’ the Filer said,
‘To talk of many things:
Of pups — and picks — and palimpsests —
Of Cadigan — and King —
And why this movie, cult is not —
And whether trolls believe.’

‘But scroll a bit,’ the Pixels cried,
‘Before you have your chat;
For some of us are full of links,
Oh do not rush so fast!’
‘No hurry!’ said the Astronaut.
They thanked him much for that.

‘A post of fifth,’ the Filer said
‘Is what we chiefly need:
Filking and Punnery besides
Are very good indeed —
Now, if you’re ready, Pixels dear,
We can begin to read.’

‘O Pixels,’ said the Astronaut,
‘You’ve had a pleasant run!
Shall we be posting here again?’
But answer came there none —
And this was scarcely odd, because
They’d scrolled up every one.

[Thanks to mlex, Carl Slaughter, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, John King Tarpinian, JJ, Bruce D. Arthurs, P J Evans, Cat Eldridge, Andrew Porter, Alan Baumler, and Chip Hitchcock for some of these stories, Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day GSLamb.]

Pixel Scroll 4/25/19 When Other Pixels Have Been Fifthgot, Ours Will Still Scroll Hot

(1) A CLOCKWORK REWIND. After Aldous Huxley wrote Brave New World (1932), he wrote a book of essays about issues raised in the novel, Brave New World Revisited (1958). Anthony Burgess planned to do the same for his novel A Clockwork Orange (1962) in A Clockwork Condition. Burgess evidently decided he was a better novelist than a philosopher and never published his 200-page typescript, which now has been rediscovered by The Anthony Burgess Foundation: “Unseen Clockwork Orange ‘follow-up’ by Anthony Burgess unearthed”.

A previously unseen manuscript for a follow-up to writer Anthony Burgess’s novel A Clockwork Orange has been unearthed in his archive.

A Clockwork Condition, which runs to 200 pages, is a collection of Burgess’ thoughts on the human condition and develops the themes from his 1962 book.

The novel told the story of the state’s attempt to cure a teenage delinquent.

The unfinished non-fiction follow-up is described as “part philosophical reflection and part autobiography”….

He then published a short autobiographical novel tackling some of the same themes, The Clockwork Testament, in 1974.

On Friday, the Design Museum in London launches a major Stanley Kubrick exhibition, which will include material from his Clockwork Orange film.

(2) COSPLAY: A HISTORY. Andrew Liptak has one on the way to the press says SYFY Wire. “First Look: Cosplay expert Andrew Liptak examines fandom fashion in Cosplay: A History”.

Cosplay: A History is a deluxe upcoming release from Saga Press celebrating the colorful kingdom of cosplay being compiled by writer/historian Andrew Liptak

Inspiration to craft this upcoming book came from his interest in the history of the 501st Legion. At the same time, he was working closely with The Verge colleague Bryan Bishop and realized that costumers working today occupy a fascinating place between the intersection of fandom, entertainment, and technology.

Liptak’s own press release says –

Seth Fishman at the Gernert Company brokered the deal with Joe Monti of Saga Press. The initial goal as it stands right now is to have it turned in by next March, with it to hit stores in 2021. I’ll be doing quite a bit of research and writing in the coming months, and expect to see more about cosplay as I write. 

The book is going to cover the broad history of cosplay and the state of the field. I’m looking at a lot of things: renaissance fairs, masquerade balls at science fiction conventions, groups like the 501st Legion, 405th Infantry Division, historical reenactors, protestors, and more. 

The goal is to talk about why people dress up in costumes, and how they interact with the story that they’re reimagining. It’s a wonderful popular culture phenomenon, and there’s a lot to delve into with the intersections of fandom, the making and entertainment communities, and technology. 

(3) SWAMP THING TEASER. A new original series DC Universe Swamp Thing premieres May 31.

SWAMP THING follows Abby Arcane as she investigates what seems to be a deadly swamp-born virus in a small town in Louisiana but soon discovers that the swamp holds mystical and terrifying secrets. When unexplainable and chilling horrors emerge from the murky marsh, no one is safe. Based on the DC characters originally written and drawn by Len Wein and Bernie Wrightson.

(4) SF CONCATENATION. The summer edition of the SF2 Concatenation is now up, with its seasonal summary of SF news as well as a survey of the primary research journals, for science philes, plus forthcoming SF/F and non-fiction book releases from the major British Isles SF imprints.

And the regular articles include film charts and Gaia for this season, another in the series of scientist-turned-SF-authors inspiring scientists, a swathe of standalone fiction and non-fiction reviews. The next seasonal edition will appear in September.

(5) PACKET ITEM AVAILABLE. Bogi Takács has released eir Hugo Voter’s Packet for Best Fan Writer – the material is at this link: “Hugo award voter packet 2019 (works from 2018)”.

I successfully produced my Hugo award voter packet! ….I hope. It features some highlights from 2018, but I had a lot more stuff in 2018, so please feel free to browse around.

The packet only has reviews and other forms of fan writing, because it is for the Fan Writer category. So no original fiction or poetry!…

(6) TICKETS TO RIDE. There’s an Omaze fundraiser for The Planetary Society — “Win a One-of-a-Kind 1958 VW® Bug Powered by Tesla® Batteries”. Buy tickets for a chance to win at the link.

  • Score a rare, custom Zelectric 1958 Classic VW Bug with an electric motor and Tesla batteries (the only one of its kind!)
  • Enjoy 102 HP thanks to its electric motor and a nearly 100 mile range battery that’ll keep you moving
  • Rock this car’s classic style and upgraded perks like new leather seats, high-quality flooring, ragtop sunroof and more
  • Support The Planetary Society’s work to advance space science and exploration

(7) NICK TREK. The Hollywood Reporter informs fans — “‘Star Trek’ Animated Series Gets Green Light at Nickelodeon”.

The cable network has given a series order to an animated Trek show from Emmy-winning writers Kevin and Dan Hageman and Star Trek franchise captain Alex Kurtzman. The untitled, CG-animated series will follow a group of teenagers who discover a derelict Starfleet ship and use it to search for adventure, meaning and salvation.

(8) MORE ON MCINTYRE. Kate Schaefer sent a roundup of time-sensitive Vonda McIntyre news.

Vonda N. McIntyre’s memorial will be held Sunday afternoon on June 9 at The Mountaineers Goodman Auditorium at 7700 Sand Point Way NE in Seattle, Washington.

Doors will open at 1:45, an event will start at 2:30, and the memorial will end at 4:30pm.

After short introductory remarks, we’ll have a microphone to pass around so that folks can share brief reminiscences of Vonda.

Further information about the memorial will be posted on Vonda’s CaringBridge page at https://www.caringbridge.org/visit/vondanmcintyre/journal.

Also — Jeanne Gomoll and Stephanie Ann Smith are still collecting memories of Vonda for a tribute book to be distributed both as a free electronic document and as a print-on-demand physical book. Send your memories to Jeanne at jg@unionstreetdesign.com before May 11.

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born April 25, 1897 Fletcher Pratt. Pratt is best known for his  collaborations with de Camp, the most well-known of which is the Harold Shea series which is collected as The Complete Enchanter. His solo fantasy novels The Well of the Unicorn and The Blue Star are also superb. Pratt established the literary dining club known as the Trap Door Spiders in 1944. The club would later fictionalized as the Black Widowers in a series of mystery stories by Asimov. Pratt would be fictionalized in one story, “To the Barest”, as the Widowers’ founder, Ralph Ottur. (Died 1956.)
  • Born April 25, 1925 Richard Deming. Ok, I think that all of the Man from U.N.C.L.E. novellas, or in this case the Girl from U.N.C.L.E. novellas, in the digest-sized Man from U.N.C.L.E. Magazine, were listed under the house name of Robert Hart Davis. Deming was only one of a very long list of writers (I know of Richard Curtis, Richard Deming, I. G. Edmonds, John Jakes, Frank Belknap Long, Dennis Lynds, Talmage Powell, Bill Pronzini, Charles Ventura and Harry Whittington) that were the writers who penned novellas in the twin U.N.C.L.E. series. (Died 1983.)
  • Born April 25, 1929 Robert A. Collins. Scholar of science fiction who founded the International Conference for the Fantastic in the Arts. Editor of the Fantasy Newsletter & Fantasy Review from 1978 to 1987, and editor of the IAFA Newsletter from 1988 to 1993. Editor, The Scope of the Fantastic: Selected Essays from the First International Conference on the Fantastic in Literature and Film and Modes of the Fantastic: Selected Essays from the Twelfth Annual International Conference for the Fantastic in the Arts. (Died 2009.)
  • Born April 25, 1939 Rex Miller. Horror writer with a hand in many pies, bloody ones at that. (Sorry couldn’t resist.) The Chaingang series featured Daniel Bunkowski, a half-ton killing-machine. Definitely genre. He contributed to some thirty anthologies including Hotter Blood: More Tales of Erotic HorrorFrankenstein: The Monster WakesDick Tracy: The Secret Files and The Crow: Shattered Lives and Broken Dreams. (Died 2005.)
  • Born April 25, 1950 Peter Jurasik, 69. Ambassador Londo Mollari on Babylon 5 who would be Emperor one day and die for his sins. (Yes spoiler.) He has also very short genre credits other than Babylon 5 — Doctor Oberon Geiger for several episodes on Sliders and Crom, the timid and pudgy compound interest program, in the Tron film. 
  • Born April 25, 1952 Peter Lauritson, 67. Long involved with the Trek franchise starting with Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. He became the producer of Star Trek: The Next Generation, and supervising producer for Deep Space Nine, Voyager and Enterprise. He directed three episodes of those series, including the Hugo Award-winning “The Inner Light”, as well as being second unit director for two Star Trek films.
  • Born April 25, 1969 Gina Torres, 50. The first thing I remember seeing her in was Cleopatra 2525 where she was Helen ‘Hel’ Carter. Her first genre was in the M.A.N.T.I.S. pilot as Dr. Amy Ellis, and she actually was in The Matrix Reloaded and The Matrix Revolutions as a character named Cas but I’ll frankly admit I remember almost nothing of those films. She’s had a number of DC voice roles including a recurring Justice League Unlimited run as Vixen / Mari McCabe. And, of course, Zoe in the Firefly verse. Lastly anyone remember her on the Angel series as Jasmine?

(10) ACONYTE. Asmodee is a leading global games publisher and distributor. Its game brands include Catan, Ticket to Ride, Pandemic, Arkham Horror, and Legend of the Five Rings. More recent hits have included the innovative fantasy card game KeyForge and the co-operative zombie survival missions of Dead of Winter.

Asmodee Entertainment has created their own fiction imprint — Aconyte, it will be publishing novels based on many of Asmodee’s best game properties. Aconyte are also actively pursuing licenses for third-party tie-in fiction, with the first of these at the contract stage. Aconyte will start a monthly publication schedule from early summer 2020, producing paperbacks and ebooks for the US, UK and export trade.

To helm the imprint, Asmodee has appointed Marc Gascoigne, lately publisher & MD of award-winning global scifi imprint Angry Robot. He’s hired assistant editor, Lottie Llewelyn-Wells, and publishing coordinator, Nick Tyler, to join him in new offices in Nottingham.

(11) PEAK GEEK. Vox suspects “Geek culture may never again be as all-consuming as it is right now”. “Avengers: Endgame and Game of Thrones make this moment feel like a series finale for geek pop culture too.”

…But if this moment in pop culture started around 10 years ago, it’s coming to some sort of peak now, as two massively beloved pop culture properties reach endpoints. And there’s a definite finality to it. Here’s the curious thing about this moment: So much of this geek culture apotheosis revolves around the question of which of our favorite fictional characters are going to die. Call it geekpocalypse now….

(12) PAST ITS PEAK. From Wisecrack — “Harry Potter & The Plague of Twitter: Why JK Rowling Should Leave Harry Alone.”

JK Rowling has been regularly updating the Harry Potter lore; not through more books, not through movies, but through twitter. Fans voraciously consume extra-textual canon on works like Harry Potter, Star Wars and much more. But does this desire for an all-encompassing knowledge of how fictional worlds tell us something about our own anxieties? In this Wisecrack Edition, we’ll dive in to the works of philosopher Martin Heidegger to discover why people are so consumed by the desire to understand the nitty gritty details of fictional worlds, and to how it reflects an essential element of our humanity.

(13) SHELVES FULL OF BOOKS. Laura Lee expounds on “Women’s Bookshelves and Clutter”.

I don’t have strong feelings about Marie Kondo and her theories of decluttering. I know a number of people who have found her “does this object spark joy” way of relating to stuff to be meaningful and if feeling overwhelmed by too many possessions is an issue for you then it might be just what the doctor ordered. I have no problem with Kondo giving this advice, take it or leave it…

I did, however, have some opinions on the Electric Lit article defending Kondo and decrying “bookishness.” The background is that in an episode of Kondo’s TV series she suggested that people get rid of books that do not “spark joy” and book lovers began to write think pieces about whether or not books are clutter. Some people had strong feelings on the subject.

Book buying, and book writing, have long been feminine activities. As I have pointed out here a number of times, in Victorian England female authors outsold their male counterparts, but their works were not deemed worthy of serious study and the memory of many once influential women has not found its way down to us. (A number of scholars are now trying to recover these “lost” works and bring them to our attention.) Books by women or which women appreciated have consistently been written off as fluffy, sentimental, non-intellectual and unimportant. If Egginton is correct, women were not only major consumers of popular literature, they were also creating “serious” libraries and archives to rival men’s, but their efforts, like their books, were denigrated.

It is interesting then to see a feminist writer contrasting the masculine “highly discriminating form of curated library collection” with the feminine “highly personalized, almost fannish, engagement with books.” Then following this with an argument that the feminized form of consumption led to the emotional engagement with middlebrow literature that book blogs now celebrate.

…Is it at all possible a century of being judged by the cleanliness of their homes, being told that this was more important than their intellects, and that their taste in literature is trivial might have colored their reactions to an authority suggesting their books might be clutter?

(14) COMING TO A BOIL. Here’s the new poster for GeyserCon, the 40th New Zealand National Convention happening in another six weeks:

(15) OUR MARCHING ORDERS. In “Timothy’s Hugo Picks”, Timothy the Talking Cat’s recommendations bear all the marks of a slate – because he put them there.

I’m going to come right out and say it: this is a slate. Vote for each of these in this order or else.

(16) NEUTRON LONGEVITY. Nature reports “Physicists close in on neutron puzzle” [PDF file].

Physicists are drawing nearer to answering a long-standing mystery of the Universe: how long a neutron lives. Neutrons are electrically neutral particles the nucleus of atoms.

Some neutrons are not bound up in atoms; these free-floating neutrons decay radioactively into other particles in minutes. But physicists can’t agree on precisely how long it takes a neutron to die. Using one laboratory approach, they measure the average neutron lifetime as 14 minutes 39 seconds. Using a different approach, they get 8 seconds longer!

Pinpointing the lifetime of a neutron is important for understanding how much hydrogen, helium and other light elements formed in the first few minutes after the Universe was born 13.8 billion years ago. 

(17) BEEN TO SEE THE DRAGON. Doctor Science is right, there aren’t too many eyewitness accounts like this — “A first-hand description of a dragon”.

The observations were made by the Chinese scholar Xie Zhaozhe (1567–1624)…

Obviously this account is extremely useful for writers of fantasy and science fiction. I don’t know if the (vast) Chinese literature contains any other first-person accounts of dragons, much less ones recorded by such a careful and specific observer. I’m pretty sure there are no good first-person descriptions from the other end of Eurasia.

Then there’s the question of what Xie Zhaozhe “actually” saw….

 (18) BEHIND THE SCENES WITH HALDEMAN. The Partially Examined Life podcast talks to one of the field’s greats: “Constellary Tales #7: Interview with Author Joe Haldeman”.

SFWA Grand Master Joe Haldeman takes Brian and Ken behind the scenes of his storied career in an exclusive interview. Among other conversation topics…

  • How “I of Newton” went from the page to The Twilight Zone
  • The unusual origins of Hugo Award–winning short story “Tricentennial”
  • Getting The Forever War published (and bootlegging the stage production)
  • Details about Joe’s new novel in the works (!!!)

(19) MAD, I TELL YOU. A TED-Ed presentation written and narrated by Silvia Moreno-Garcia: “Titan of terror: the dark imagination of H.P. Lovecraft.”

Dive into the stories of horror savant H.P. Lovecraft, whose fantastical tales, such as “The Call of Cthulhu,” created a new era of Gothic horror

Arcane books of forbidden lore, disturbing secrets in the family bloodline, and terrors so unspeakable the very thought of them might drive you mad. These have become standard elements in modern horror stories. But they were largely popularized by a single author: H.P. Lovecraft, whose name has become synonymous with the terror he inspired. Silvia Moreno-García dissects the “Lovecraftian” legacy.

[Thanks to Martin Morse Wooster, Paul Weimer, Carl Slaughter, Andrew Liptak, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Andrew Porter, JJ, Mlex, Cat Eldridge, ULTRAGOTHA, Doctor Science, Alan Baumler, Mike Kennedy, John King Tarpinian, John A Arkansawyer, and Chip Hitchcock for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Andrew.]

Pixel Scroll 4/2/19 Get Me Pixels! Pixels Of Scroller-Man!

(1) HUGO FOR A WAR YEAR. Cora Buhlert provides a very fine walkthrough of today’s Retro nominees in “Some Thoughts on the Hugo Award Finalists, Part I: The 1944 Retro Hugo Awards”.

The most remarkable thing about the 1944 Retro Hugos is that there is no Heinlein. Not a single Heinlein story was nominated for the Retro Hugos this year, not because fandom has suddenly lost its taste for Heinlein, but because Heinlein was too busy in 1943 testing military equipment at the Navy Yard* to write science fiction. Also notable by his absence (except for one fairly obscure story) is Isaac Asimov, who was also too busy testing military equipment at the Navy Yard to write, though unlike Heinlein, Asimov didn’t have a choice, because he was at danger of being drafted and expected (not without justification) that he’d be killed if he were ever taken prisoner, as Alex Nevala-Lee describes in his (excellent) chronicle of the Golden Age and what followed Astounding.

World War II also took other Golden Age stalwarts such as Lester Del Rey (also busily doing something at the Navy Yard) and L. Ron Hubbard (busily shooting at phantom subs off the Mexican coast) out of the game, leaving the field open for other voices and the 1944 Retro Hugo finalists certainly reflect that. This is a good thing, because it means that writers who are not normally recognised by the Retro Hugo Awards (though some of them have been recognised by the regular Hugos) finally get their dues.

(2) CURRENT EVENTS. Then Buhlert follows with extensive analysis of the 2019 Hugo ballot — “Some Thoughts on the Hugo Award Finalists, Part II: The 2019 Hugo Awards”. These include comments and concerns about the Best Series category. (How’s it working for you?)

Best Series

This is the third year of the Best Series category and personally, I’m getting really frustrated with it, even though I initially supported the idea. But the way I viewed the Best Series Hugo (and the way it was originally sold) was as a way to award the sort of extremely popular SFF series that are beloved by fans and regularly hit bestseller lists, but whose individual volumes are almost never recognised by the Hugos, because the whole is often greater than the sum of its parts (see Wheel of Time, which was obviously misclassified in Best Novel, but would have been a natural for this category). When the category was announced, I assumed we’d see finalists like the Dresden Files by Jim Butcher (which might have been nominated, except that the series hasn’t had a new book in years, because Jim Butcher is apparently ill), the Kate Daniels series by Ilona Andrews (which actually ended in 2018 and really would have deserved a nod), the Mercy Thompson and Alpha and Omega series by Patricia Briggs, the Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon, the Honor Harrington series by David Weber (not to my taste, but obviously beloved by many), etc… But that’s not what we’re seeing in this category. Instead, we’re getting the same finalists we’re seeing elsewhere on the ballot. Perhaps the Hugo electorate aren’t really series readers to the degree initially assumed. Or maybe they just have a really weird taste in series.

(3) CLARIFYING TWEET. Archive of Our Own is up for the Best Related Work Hugo. The facility of the site, not the individual works of fanfic. Did someone need that explained, or were they only amusing themselves? Just in case, someone explained it:

(4) MARK YOUR CALENDAR. The dates for the next two LA Vintage Paperback Shows have been set — March 8, 2020 and March 28, 2021.

(5) STRONG WILL. Red Wombat needs to get something done before heading to China:

(6) HEINLEIN BOOK PUBDATE PUSHED BACK. The publisher of the recently recovered Robert A. Heinlein novel titled Six-Six-Six has put out a newsletter with more information about the project:

Work on the new Heinlein work continues, but we are experiencing some production delays and so may have to postpone the release from November, to Spring of 2020…. 

Some questions on the new Heinlein answered:

1. Is Spider Robinson completing an unfinished work by Heinlein? NO. Neither Spider Robinson, nor anyone else has been tasked with completing the book. The book is complete. It did survive in fragments, but the fragments contain the complete book. It is being edited (as is every published book) to eliminate errors, inconsistencies, etc. But the work is 100% Heinlein.

2. Is this the rumored alternate text to The Number of the Beast? Yes. This is the alternate text that Heinlein wrote. There are many reasons that have been suggested as to why this was never published, including certain copyright issues that may have existed at that time (the book uses the characters created by other authors, and the book acts as a homage to a couple of authors Heinlein admired).

3. Is the unpublished version similar to the published version? No, though it largely shares the first one-third of the book, it then becomes a completely different book in every way. In the published version the villains are largely forgotten as the novel evolves into something else completely. The unpublished version is much more of a traditional Heinlein book, with a much more traditional storyline and ending.

4. What is the release date? We are trying to publish it by November, but it appears we may have to delay it till Spring 2020 due to a number of reasons

(7) MCINTYRE TRIBUTE. SFWA grieves for one of sff’s finest people — “In Memoriam – Vonda N. McIntyre”.

SFWA President Cat Rambo noted, “Vonda was one of our best and brightest, and she had three times the heart of most of the people I know. I’m so glad she managed to finish the book she was working on, but her loss hits so many of us who loved her and her words with a hardness that is tough to bear. Be kind to each other today in her honor; I can’t think of any way that would be better to celebrate the goodness and grandeur that she was.”

(8) ON THE FRONT. Joachim Boaz posted an array of McIntyre’s book covers at Science Fiction and Other Suspect Ruminations: “Updates: Vonda N. McIntyre (August 28, 1948 – April 1, 2019)”.

(9) LEARNING TERRIBLE SECRETS. Kat Hooper reviews Aliette de Bodard at Fantasy Literature: In the Vanisher’s Palace: A fascinating world”.

The best part of In the Vanisher’s Palace is de Bodard’s fascinating world. I want to know more about the Vanishers and how they destroyed Yên’s society. I’d gladly read other stories set in this world. I also loved the “non Euclidean” and “escherscape” palace which at first makes Yên nauseated.

(10) IN COUNTRY. Elitist Book Review’s Vanessa got a kick out of No Country for Old Gnomes by Delilah S. Dawson and Kevin Hearne.

If you read KILL THE FARM BOY, then NO COUNTRY FOR OLD GNOMES is the same in tone, silliness, puns, wordplay, and corny jokes. Except this time we don’t see much of Gustave, Grinda the Sand Witch, Fia, and the others; no, this is about the gnomes Offi and Kirsi and their new friends whose quest to stop the halflings turns into a journey fraught with danger.

(11) THE FUTURE OF INFIDELITY. Abigail Nussbaum’s first Strange Horizons review of the year discusses Theory of Bastards by Audrey Schulman”.

Theory of Bastards is set in the near future, and Schulman does an impressive job (especially for a newcomer to the genre) of constructing a plausible and thought-out portrait of life in the coming decades. She casually drops into the narrative such ideas as a future type of internet in which computer-generated avatars present the news, or a combination implant and gene therapy that turns the deaf bonobo keeper’s mouth into another ear, able to perceive vibrations and translate them into sound. But for the most part, the picture she paints is not encouraging.

(12) HAUNTED PAST. Leslie S. Klinger and Lisa Morton trace “The Birth of the Modern Ghost Story” at CrimeReads.

In December of 1847, John D. Fox moved his family to a house in Hydesville, New York. Although the house had an odd reputation (the previous tenant had vacated because of mysterious sounds), it wasn’t until March of the following year that the family’s troubles began. Before long, daughters Kate and Margaret claimed to be communicating with the spirit of a peddler who had been murdered in the house. The communications took the form of rapping noises in answer to questions asked aloud.

The Fox sisters (along with a third sister, Leah, who acted as their manager) soon parlayed their rapping skills into celebrity. The young ladies held public séances, underwent “tests,” and inspired copycat mediums around the world. By the time the Foxes were debunked, they’d helped to inspire a new religion, Spiritualism, which was popular in both America and Great Britain, that held as its central tenet that the spirits of the dead continued to exist on another plane and could be contacted by human mediums. The Spiritualist movement had no less a figure as its international spokesperson than Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, whose wife Jean was also a medium.

It’s no coincidence that the ghost story experienced a rebirth of popularity at about the same time….

(13) REMAINS OF JANRAE FRANK. The Worcester (MA) Telegraph includes Andrew Porter’s photo of the late author in its coverage: “Daughter claims ashes of mother thought buried in pauper’s grave”.

Janice Frank’s body was often a burden to her, and she likely would be unfazed by the fact that her cremated remains have been lying, unclaimed, in a funeral parlor since her untimely death in 2014 at 59.

But the news that she was there stunned her daughter, Sovay Fox, and her daughter’s partner, Hallie Hauer, who both thought she’d been given a pauper’s burial and had given up on ever having possession of her ashes.

Ms. Frank, born in 1954, contracted polio from the vaccine that was designed to prevent it. She was 8 years old, and the disease left her with a deformed leg. She walked her whole life with a cane.

A journalist and author, she told other writers that the best of their craft would come from tapping into their own pain, and it seemed she had a bottomless well of suffering from which she often wrote.

(14) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born April 2, 1914 Alec Guinness. Obi-Wan Kenobi in the Star Wars trilogy. (What? There were more movies after them? No!)  That’s it for filmed genre roles but theatre is another matter altogether. He played Osric first in Hamlet in the early Thirties in what was then the New Theatre, Old Thorney in The Witch of Edmonton at The Old Vic and the title role of Macbeth of course at Sheffield. (Died 2000.)
  • Born April 2, 1933 Murray Tinkelman. Illustrator of genre covers during the Seventies. Glyer has a most excellent look at him here in his obituary posting. I’m very fond of his cool, diffuse style of illustration that made it seem as if the subject of the cover was just coming into focus as you looked at them. (Died 2016.)
  • Born April 2, 1939 Elliot K. Shorter. Fan, bookseller, and Locus co-editor once upon a time. He was attending conventions by the early Sixties and was a major figure in Sixties and Seventies fandom, and involved in a number of APAs. And as Glyer notes, he spread his larger than life enthusiasm wide as he ‘belonged to the Tolkien Society of America, Hyborean Legion, the City College of New York SF Club, ESFA, Lunarians, Fanoclasts and NESFA.’ He was involved in the Worldcon bid and helped run Suncon, the 1977 Worldcon which came out of the bid. All of this is particularly remarkable as he was one of the very few African-Americans in Sixties fandom. (Died 2013.)
  • Born April 2, 1975 Adam Rodriguez, 44. His first genre role is on All Souls, the haunted hospital drama, as Patrick Fortado. He’s also in season three of Roswell as Jesse Esteban Ramirez. 
  • Born April 2, 1978 Scott Lynch, 41. Author of Gentleman Bastard series of novels which is to my utter surprise now at seven with the forthcoming one. I know I read The Lies of Locke Lamora  but who here has read the entire series to date?  And I see he was writing Queen of the Iron Sands, an online serial novel for awhile. May I note he’s married to Elizabeth Bear, one of my favorite authors? 

(15) STAND BY FOR SADDLE SORES. Who needs to work, anyway? The Wrap gets fans excited to hear that “AMC to Host 59-Hour, 22-Film Marvel Movie Marathon Ahead of ‘Avengers: Endgame’”. So excited they crashed the site trying to get tickets.

Are you devoted enough to watching “Avengers: Endgame” that you’re willing to sacrifice two-and-a-half days of your life hyping up for it?

AMC is hosting yet another Marvel movie marathon leading up to “Endgame,” a 22-film marathon saga that covers every MCU dating back to 2008’s “Iron Man” and concludes with “Endgame.” And just … why? Does anyone honestly need this?

Those who do brave the experience will get special marathon collectibles, content, concession offers and will get to see “Avengers: Endgame” at 5 p.m. local time on April 26, one hour earlier than regular public show times.

(16) CLASSIC ILLUSTRATIONS. The Society of Illustrators in New York hosts its “Masters of the Fantastic” exhibit through June 8. Includes work by many artists including Winsor McCay, Kinuko Y. Craft, Leo and Diane Dillon, Vincent Di  Fate, Ed Emshwiller, Hannes Bok, Virgil Finlay, and Frank Frazetta.

The art of the fantastic gives vision to our dreaded nightmares and our most fervent hopes. Stories of fantasy and science fiction have risen from the quaint traditions of the tribal storyteller through children’s fables and pulp magazines to dominate today’s cultural mainstream. Through their use on the covers of bestselling books, to their appearance in blockbuster movies, TV shows and videogames, illustrative images play a central role in the appeal and popular acceptance of the fantastic narrative and the Society of Illustrators is pleased to celebrate this rite of passage with an exhibition of more than 100 examples of the genre’s finest artistic works. MASTERS OF THE FANTASIC encompasses a full range of otherworldly images—from dragons, specters and demons, to the far reaches of deep space—in the form of paintings, drawings and sculpture, highlighting the works of the artistic innovators who have given shape and substance to the world’s most imaginative kinds of storytelling.

(17) TO THE MOON. In the March 29 Financial Times, Jan Dalley reviews a virtual reality voyage to the moon by performance artist Laurie Anderson collaborating with Taiwanese artist Hsin-Chien Huang, in an installation currently at Art Basel Hong Kong.

The hateful headset is instantly forgotten as, with gut-lurching suddenness, the ‘floor’ shatters beneath you and you are cast off, a weightless space traveller in the wonder of the galaxy.  And quickly dumped on the surface of the moon, quaking (in my case), to face and explore a series of visions and adventures:  ghost dinosaurs composed of mathematical symbols splinter into nothing as you navigate yourself toward them (one is replaced by a phantom Cadillac); a glittering diamond-shaped mountain sucks you on high among its giant peaks, perilously close; a plethora of swirling, hideous space junk crashes into your visor before you realise you have grown an immensely long pair of arms with which, presumably, to fend off the aggressions of this man-made trash, while behind looms the immense, terrifyingly beautiful sight of Earthrise.  A fathomlessly deep stone rose (remember Saint-Exupéry’s The Little Prince?), still and lovely, is vast enough to be slowly circled by its own eerie moons.  Later you lose your body completely; suddenly you’re on a donkey ride; an entire galaxy explodes into a vast cosmic firework display.

(18) TWO HEADS ARE BETTER. Bill Nye and Bob Picardo talk all about how advocating for space really works in the February edition of The Planetary Post.

(19) WHAT A JOB. NPR investigates new frontiers in homeowners insurance: “Step 1: Build A House. Step 2: Set It On Fire”.

An hour south of Charlotte, N.C., two forks in the road beyond suburbia, a freshly constructed house sits in a wind tunnel waiting to be set on fire.

To the left of the house is a brick wall with a hole in the middle, made by a 2-by-4 propelled at 70 miles per hour.

In front of the house is a metal staircase five stories tall. At the top are the hail guns.

More than 100 fans begin to turn, slowly at first and then faster. The ember generators flicker on. The fire is about to begin.

The past two years have been particularly costly for insurance companies that are on the hook for billions of dollars in damage done by hurricanes, wildfires, floods and other disasters. As these disasters become more frequent and expensive, in part because of climate change, insurers are investing more in this research facility that studies how to protect homes and businesses from destructive wind, water and embers.

The facility in rural South Carolina is run by the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety, a nonprofit research organization funded by U.S. insurance companies….

(20) HOW TO FAIL PHYSICS. “NASA: India’s satellite destruction could endanger ISS”. Chip Hitchcock’s summary: “The perfectly safe test wasn’t. Follow-on to links you didn’t use last week; now there’s hard evidence — but somebody should have figured that a blowup in LEO would send debris up, not just down and sideways.”

Nasa has called India’s destruction of a satellite a “terrible thing” that could threaten the International Space Station (ISS).

The space agency’s chief, Jim Bridenstine, said that the risk of debris colliding with the ISS had risen by 44% over 10 days due to the test.

However he said: “The international space station is still safe. If we need to manoeuvre it we will.”

India is the fourth country to have carried out such a test.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the test – Mission Shakti – with great fanfare on 27 March, saying it had established India as a “space power”.

In an address to employees, Mr Bridenstine sharply criticised the testing of such anti-satellite (ASAT) weapons.

He said that Nasa had identified 400 pieces of orbital debris and was tracking 60 pieces larger than 10cm in diameter. Twenty-four of those pieces pose a potential risk to the ISS, he said.

…Delhi has insisted it carried out the test in low-earth orbit, at an altitude of 300km (186 miles), to not leave space debris that could collide with the ISS or satellites.

(21) HEAVE AWAY, MR. RICO. As the world of robotics continues to evolve, we’ll soon be seeing more “physically augmented” employees in the workplace: “Exoskeleton Prototypes Sent to U.S. Navy, Special Command”

Sarcos Robotics is responsible for some incredible technology. Last July, we introduced you to the company’s Guardian S, the 4-foot-long inspection robot that uses magnetic tracks to inch along everything from metal walls to oil pipelines.

The Salt Lake City-based company is also responsible for the Guardian GT robot, which allows an operator to remotely control two massive robotic arms on a tracked (or wheeled) robot to perform dangerous inspection and maintenance tasks in the nuclear, oil and gas, and construction industries.

The company also designed a powerful robotic exoskeleton, the Guardian XO, a smooth, battery-powered exoskeleton initially designed to give industrial workers the ability to repeatedly lift 200 pounds without any physical exertion.

As we’ve seen continued industry buy-in, as well as ongoing innovation, Sarcos has started to land some big contracts that could increase the amount of physically augmented workers in the workforce.

In early March, Sarcos partnered with the U.S. Navy to evaluate how workers at naval shipyards could benefit from exoskeletons. Through the deal, shipyard workers could one day use the XO to work with heavy payloads and use power tools. The deal also calls for the Guardian S to potentially inspect confined spaces — for example, in submarines as they are modernized or retired.

(22) WASTE NOT. “NASA Announces Winners of Recycling in Space Challenge”.

Figuring out how to repurpose food packaging, plastic, paper, fabric and other types of waste without gravity to work with is difficult. That’s why NASA, in partnership with NineSigma, created the Recycling in Space Challenge.

The purpose of the challenge is to engage the public to develop methods of processing and feeding trash into a high-temperature reactor. This will help NASA’s Advanced Exploration Systems and space technology programs develop trash-to-gas technology that can recycle waste into useful gases.

The NASA Tournament Lab (NTL) crowdsourcing challenge received submissions from participants around the world. A panel of judges evaluated the solutions and selected one first place and two second place winners.

The award recipients are:

·        Aurelian Zapciu, Romania – $10,000 for first place, Waste Pre-Processing Unit

·        Derek McFall, United States – $2,500 for second place, Microgravity Waste Management System

·        Ayman Ragab Ahmed Hamdallah, Egypt – $2,500 for second place, Trash-Gun (T-Gun)

The three winners brought a variety of approaches to the table for the challenge. Zapciu’s submission proposed incorporating space savings features and cam actuated ejectors to move trash through the system, before bringing it to another mechanism to complete the feed into the reactor. McFall’s submission indicated it would use a hopper for solid waste and managed air streams for liquids and gaseous waste. Hamdallah proposed using air jets to compress the trash and cycle it through the system instead of gravity.

 (23) ZOMBIE ALL-STARS. The Dead Don’t Die promises —

— the greatest zombie cast ever disassembled starring Bill Murray, Adam Driver, Tilda Swinton, Chloë Sevigny, Steve Buscemi, Danny Glover, Caleb Landry Jones, Rosie Perez, Iggy Pop, Sara Driver, RZA, Selena Gomez, Carol Kane, Austin Butler, Luka Sabbat and Tom Waits. Written and directed by Jim Jarmusch. In Theaters June 14th.

[Thanks to Martin Morse Wooster, John King Tarpinian, Daniel Dern, Cat Eldridge, JJ, Andrew Porter, Mike Kennedy, Chip Hitchcock, Michael Toman, and Carl Slaughter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Matthew Johnson.]

Pixel Scroll 3/5/19 Surely You Know, Philately Will Get You Nowhere

(1) THE DEATH OF TRUTH. Brianna Wu is one of the featured victims in The Guardian’s article “Trapped in a hoax: survivors of conspiracy theories speak out “.

Conspiracy theories used to be seen as bizarre expressions of harmless eccentrics. Not any more. Gone are the days of outlandish theories about Roswell’s UFOs, the “hoax” moon landings or grassy knolls. Instead, today’s iterations have morphed into political weapons. Turbocharged by social media, they spread with astonishing speed, using death threats as currency.

…Their growing reach and scale is astonishing. A University of Chicago study estimated in 2014 that half of the American public consistently endorses at least one conspiracy theory. When they repeated the survey last November, the proportion had risen to 61%. The startling finding was echoed by a recent study from the University of Cambridge that found 60% of Britons are wedded to a false narrative.

The segment on Brianna Wu begins:

An accurate floor plan of her house was assembled and published online, along with her address and pictures of her car and license plate. And then there were the death threats – up to 300 by her estimate. One message on Twitter threatened to cut off her husband’s “tiny Asian penis”. The couple evacuated their house and took refuge with friends and in hotels.

Wu now devotes her time to running for Congress from her home in Dedham, Massachusetts. She sees her candidacy as a way of pressing federal authorities to take the problem of online conspiracy theories and harassment seriously. “The FBI employs about 30,000 agents in the US. As best as I can tell there’s no division that is specifically tasked with prosecuting extreme threats online – it’s simply not a priority for them,” she says.

(2) SPACE ADVOCACY. On March 4 representatives of The Planetary Society visited Congressional offices in Washington: “100 Planetary Society Members. 25 States. 1 Day of Action.”

Yesterday, 100 passionate Planetary Society members joined us on Capitol Hill for our Day of Action. They discussed the importance of space science and exploration with their congressional representatives and advocated for NASA’s continued growth. It was a huge success!

Through their efforts, we reached more than 127 congressional offices in 25 different states. We are grateful for the passion and dedication of these members.

(3) A LOT TO LIVE UP TO. Shana O’Neil declares “Captain Marvel meets some of the highest expectations yet for a Marvel movie” in a review for The Verge.

…After all of that, Captain Marvel is in the unenviable position of having to introduce a new character to the MCU, lay out her origin story, tie her in with the current MCU timeline, create backstories for several previously established characters, and set up even more significant elements for Avengers: Endgame. But Captain Marvel mostly bears the weight of those expectations. It rises to the occasion with strong performances and with its directors’ willingness to slow down and take their story seriously, balancing humor, action, and exposition in a carefully calibrated package.

Captain Marvel (Brie Larson) is initially introduced as Vers, a Starforce Agent for the alien Kree race. Vers isn’t a character from the original Captain Marvel comics, but Marvel readers may recognize her fellow Starforce members: Korath the Pursuer (Djimon Hounsou, Guardians of the Galaxy), Minn-Erva (Gemma Chan, Crazy Rich Asians), Bron-Char (Rune Temte, The Last Kingdom), Att-Lass (Algenis Pérez Soto, Sugar), and their leader Yon-Rogg (Jude Law). Vers has powerful Kree abilities: super strength, physical endurance, and the ability to shoot blasts of energy from her fingertips. But she can’t remember how she got those powers, or what her life was like before the Kree found her and brought her to their homeworld of Hala.

(4) BAKER’S DOZEN. Sarah Mangiola posted this last year at The Portalist — “13 Must-Read Hugo Award-Winning Books”. Some of these are short story collections where the title story was the Hugo winner.

Ill Met in Lankhmar and Ship of Shadows

By Fritz Leiber

The 1971 Hugo Award winner for Best Novella, “Ill Met in Lankhmar” recounts the meeting and teaming up of Fafhrd and the Grey Mouser—serving as a prequel of sorts to Leiber’s The Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser book series. Featured alongside four other stories in Swords and Deviltry, “Ill Met in Lankhmar” starts when Gray Mouser and Fafhrd simultaneously ambush the Thieves’ Guild and steal valuable jewels that they themselves had just stolen. Realizing they make a good team, Gray Mouser and Fafhrd join forces and attempt to infiltrate the headquarters of the Thieves’ Guild. 

(5) CREATURE CREATOR. In “The Big Idea: Mallory O’Meara” at Whatever, O’Meara explains the origins of her book The Lady from the Black Lagoon:

…This book started out simply as a biography of Milicent Patrick, an influential artist whose legacy has been purposely obfuscated for decades. She was an illustrator, a concept artist, one of the first female animators at Disney and the designer of the iconic monster from the 1954 science fiction film CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON.

The press and attention that Milicent got as the designer of the Creature was the pinnacle of her career. It also caused her downfall. Her boss at the time was so jealous of her being in the limelight with the Creature that he fired her. Milicent never worked behind the scenes in Hollywood again and no one knew what became of her.

While I was researching and investigating her life, it became clear to me that I couldn’t write about what happened to Milicent Patrick without writing about why it happened to her. It’s easy to hear a sad story about a woman dealing with sexism in the 1950s and think, “Man, what a bummer. That’s just how things were back then!”

But it wasn’t just how things were back then. What happened to Milicent Patrick is still happening. It’s happening right now….

(6) LITIGIOUS LOUT. The Sydney Morning Herald invites you to “Meet Nick Rodwell, Tintin heir and least popular man in Belgium”.

It all started when a circle of Tintin fans in the Netherlands, de Herge Genooschap, ran a few strips in their internal newsletter. They were dragged to court, facing a penalty of up to €100,000 ($154,000).

They are only the latest party to have fallen foul of Nick Rodwell, self-proclaimed “the least popular man in Belgium”.

Mr Rodwell is the British-born manager of Moulinsart, the company that holds the rights to the Herge estate. Students, scholars, admirers and collectors alike have been harshly prosecuted at the faintest sign of a Tintin drawing, with Moulinsart demanding arrests, confiscations and colossal sums out of all proportion with the alleged offences.

(7) OGDEN OBIT. Fanzine fan Steve Ogden died March 1. Rick Bradford paid tribute at the Poopsheet Foundation:

My friend, longtime fan, author, fanzine publisher and comics researcher Steven Ogden died on March 1st, 2019 after a lengthy battle with leukemia and everything that goes along with its treatment.

Steve – along with his wife, Vicki – published fanzines and mini-comics through Spotted Zebra Press/New Spotted Zebra Press since the ’80s (or perhaps slightly earlier). Publications included Ouroborus, the mammoth Brad W. Foster Checklist of Published Works from the 20th Century (1972-2000), Edgar’s Journal, Metaphysical Pornographic Funnies and many others. He was also a longtime member of FAPA (The Fantasy Amateur Press Association).

His wife Vicki asks that instead of flowers donations be made to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society:

(8) TODAY IN HISTORY.

March 5, 1944Captain America premiered theatrically in theaters as a serial.

TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born March 5, 1874 Henry Travers. Only two genre roles to my knowledge, he appeared in The Invisible Man as Dr. Cranley and he was in Death Takes a Holiday as Baron Cesarea. (Died 1965.)
  • Born March 5, 1894 Henry Daniell. His most famous role is SF film was as a Morgana in From the Earth to the Moon. He has more obscure roles over the decades in films such as playing William Easter in Sherlock Holmes in Washington or Dr. Wolfe ‘Toddy’ MacFarlane in The Body Snatcher where he’d have been upstaged by it being the last film of both Karloff and Lugosi. (Died 1963.)
  • Born March 5, 1936 Dean Stockwell, 83. I remember him best as Admiral Al Calavicci, the hologram that advised Sam Beckett on Quantum Leap. Other genre roles included being in The Dunwich Horror as Wilbur Whateley, in The Time Guardian as simply Boss, Doctor Wellington Yueh In Dune, a role I had completely forgotten, and voiced Tim Drake in the excellent  Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker. Series work beyond Quantum Leap includes Twilight ZoneAlfred Hitchcock PresentsMission: Impossible, Night GalleryQuinn Martin’s Tales of the Unexpected (pay attention class, this has showed up before), Star Trek: EnterpriseBattlestar Galactica and Stargate SG-1. 
  • Born March 5, 1942 Mike Resnick, 77. It’s worth noting that he’s has been nominated for 37 Hugo Awards which is a record for writers and won five times. Somewhat ironically nothing I’ve really enjoyed by him has won those Hugos. The novels making my list are Stalking the UnicornThe Red Tape War (with Jack L. Chalker & George Alec Effinger), Stalking the Dragon and, yes, it’s not genre, Cat on a Cold Tin Roof.
  • Born March 5, 1952 Robin Hobb, 67. Whose full legal name is the lovely Margaret Astrid Lindholm Ogden hence her two pen names. I reasonably sure the first thing I read and enjoyed by her was Wizard of the Pigeons, but The Gypsy with Steven Brust was equally enjoyable and had the added bonus of a Boiled in Lead soundtrack. 
  • Born March 5, 1955 Penn Jillette, 64. Performed on Babylon 5 in the episode scripted by Neil Gaiman titled “Day of The Dead” as part of Penn & Teller who portrayed comedians Rebo and Zooty. It’s one of my favorite episodes of the series. Also he had a recurring role on Sabrina the Teenage Witch as Drell, the head of the Witches’ Council. He’s been in Fantasia 2000Toy StoryFuturama: Into the Wild Green YonderSharknado 3: Oh Hell No!Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of SupermanVR.5Space Ghost Coast to Coast and most recently Black Mirror. 
  • Born March 5, 1975 Jolene Blalock, 44. Best known for playing  T’Pol on  Enterprise.  Genre wise, she’s also been in Jason and the Argonauts as Medea, Stargate SG-1 as Ishta, Starship Troopers 3: Marauder as Captain Lola Beck and as the Legend of the Seeker as Sister Nicci.

(9) COMICS SECTION.

  • It’s not only authors who want to GET PAID, so do devices — Bizarro.
  • Garfield is about a fellow who will never have a Mount TBR.

(10) IN CHARACTER. SYFY Wire shares the fun when “J.K. Simmons revives J. Jonah Jameson in Spidey-hating Avengers: Endgame spoof”.

… How would Simmons’ Jameson react to the dusty ending of Avengers: Infinity War? How would he potentially act, if he was to survive, during Avengers: Endgame? Would he finally cut Spider-Man some slack? Would the web-slinger finally earn his respect? 

Thanks to a new spoof made by Lights, Camera, Pod, we don’t have to just sit and wonder. J.K. Simmons himself returned to voice Jameson for this animated video, and, well, see for yourself: 

(11) A CONSTRUCTIVE RESPONSE. Greg Hullender tells how Rocket Stack Rank weathered a storm of public criticism two years ago in this comment at Mad Genius Club. (For background, see “Rocket Stack Rank Issues Apology, Hullender Off Locus Panel”.)

…The way they managed to get us was that we had promised that RSR would be politics-free: focused on the stories alone. But I had been using my reviews to express my annoyance with the use of “non-binary ‘they’” in stories and making it fairly clear I didn’t take the whole non-binary thing seriously. As a long-standing member of the LGBT community, I certainly have the right to voice my opinion of the non-binary movement (although it quickly became clear that I was very out-of-date and should have at least talked to a few non-binary people), but RSR was not the place to have that discussion. Worse, the first my husband (and co-editor) learned of this was when our enemies produced a horrendous “open letter” that was a mix of half-truths and outrageous lies but supported with links to my own reviews. He was, understandably, rather upset with me.

Most embarrassing was that Locus asked me to withdraw from the panel that selects their annual recommended reading list, and issued a press release about it.

We recognized that our enemies wouldn’t be satisfied by anything we did. “If we committed suicide, they’d just say we did it wrong.” So we apologized to our readers for what we genuinely believed I had done wrong, and I went through the old reviews and comments and carefully removed everything that we agreed shouldn’t be there, based on our own principles. They made fun of our apology, of course, but we didn’t care; we didn’t do it for them.

Then we waited to see what happened. We agreed that if volume to the site fell in half, we’d shut it down and find something else to do. It had been a miserable, humiliating experience, and it’s not like we make any money from Rocket Stack Rank. (We brag that we change no fees, run no ads, use no affiliate codes, and never beg for donations.) We think of it as our gift to fandom, and if fans didn’t want it, we wouldn’t keep doing it.

But, volume increased.

During the hullabaloo, volume more than doubled (by all measures) for about a month, based on year-on-year comparisons. But the next few months showed that we kept 20% of that. If we lost any readers, they were more than made up for by the ones who learned about us through this thing. (Maybe it really is true that all publicity is good publicity.) Year-on-year growth has continued, and we’re now actually bigger than some of the semiprozines that Locus reports on (although nowhere near the size of the ones we actually review).

(12) HAGER WINS AGAIN. Storylines Margaret Mahy Medal and Lecture Award for 2019 goes to Mandy Hager for life-time achievement and a distinguished contribution to New Zealand’s literature for young people. Her Singing Home the Whale, about a teenaged boy who befriends a baby orca, won the 2015 New Zealand Book Awards’  Margaret Mahy Book of the Year (see a review here.) Her near-future dystopia The Nature of Ash won the 2013 LIANZA YA Fiction Award (Library and Information Association of New Zealand Aotearoa).

(13) CONTENT WARNING FOR THIS ITEM. Polygon says a “Steam game about raping women will test Valve’s hands-off approach”.

Valve did not immediately respond to a request for comment, but on the game’s website, the developer seems aware that its creation is controversial.

“You can’t reasonable [sic] consider banning rape in fiction without banning murder and torture,” the developer says.

“Most people can separate fiction from reality pretty well, and those that can’t shouldn’t be playing video games,” the developer continues.

Technically, Rape Day does not appear to violate Steam’s current content rules, but the developer appears unsure if the game will make it to the final release without getting banned off the platform. Already, the game has been modified to avoid potential content issues — in one news update, the creator says they got rid of a “baby killing scene” in case it gets marked as child exploitation. Rape Day’s website also lists out a couple of plans of action for what may happen to the game, and the developer, should anything get taken down.

“I have not broken any rules, so I don’t see how my game could get banned unless Steam changes their policies,” the developer wrote. “My game was properly marked as adult and with a thorough description of all of the potentially offensive content before the coming soon page went live on Steam.”

(14) DISPLACED. At The Verge, Andrew Liptak says “Famous Men Who Never Lived is a powerful novel about alternate worlds and the plights of refugees”.

In K. Chess’ debut novel, Famous Men Who Never Lived, at some point in the past, reality diverged, and an alternate timeline played out alongside our own. Then, that world was devastated by a nuclear attack, and extradimensional refugees started showing up in our own reality. As Chess follows the lives of refugees from that alternate world, she delivers a story about immigration and how those who lose everything they’ve ever known are able to cope with their new reality.

(15) SERIAL BOX. Adri Joy finds you can’t improve on four aces: “Microreview [Book]: The Vela, by Yoon Ha Lee, Becky Chambers, Rivers Solomon and S.L. Huang” at Nerds of a Feather.

Serial Box’s new space opera is an action-packed, politically-driven adventure written by an impressive author lineup.

…Together, they take on a space opera that touches on the strengths of all four of these works, while being something very different. Welcome to the system home to Khayyam, Gan-de and Hypatia, where the careless extraction of hydrogen by wealthy inner planets is causing the slow collapse of the sun and the death, over centuries, of all inhabitable worlds – beginning, of course, with the blameless, impoverished outer worlds. Mix in a hardened soldier-for-hire who is herself an escapee from the dying worlds, and her naive non-binary sidekick, and you’ve got an indisputable recipe for success, right?

(16) JUDGMENT RENDERED. Brian Hubbard, in “Microreview [book]: JUDGES Volume 1 by Michael Carroll, Charles J. Eskew, and George Mann” at Nerds of a Feather, wishes the authors didn’t assume the readers already have a lot of knowledge about this series.

How does the world get from the police we know today to Judge Dredd? JUDGES Volume 1 brings us closer to the answer with a trio of short stories set in the Judge Dredd universe. It doesn’t quite reach the bombast of that source material though.

…But if you’re not familiar with the Judges program or the Judge Dredd world, these stories aren’t going to do you a lot of favors in the way of building this world.

(17) IN ONE VOLUME. Rob Bedford assesses “BINTI: The Complete Trilogy by Nnedi Okorafor” at SFFWorld.

To say that the saga of Binti is a modern masterwork is obvious.  Despite the tragedy throughout the series, the physical tragedies, the emotional baggage Binti brought with her when we first met her to the profound affect those physical tragedies had on Binti, one thing was even more clear. Hope. This is very much a forward-thinking series with a charmingly brilliant and empathetic protagonist. Okorafor impressively packs these short novels/novellas with an incredible amount of emotion, fantastical ideas, and philosophical ideals in and of themselves. That the trilogy (plus short story) is under 400 pages and is so powerful is a marvel of storytelling.

(18) THE VERDICT. Camestros Felapton wrote individual reviews of the six 2018 Nebula Awards short story nominees, and now deals with how they work collectively on the literary award’s ballot: “Nebula Shorts: Summing Up”.

I’d contend that there are three clearly exceptional short stories in the Nebula short story finalists. There is a fourth I can see an argument for, there is another that I don’t get but others clearly did and there’s a sixth which, while having many positive qualities, probably shouldn’t be a finalist.

(19) MANY MONSTERS. Ultraman is coming to Netflix (like everything else!)

Years ago, the famous giant of light Ultraman worked to protect peace on Earth. Now, a new champion arises: Shinjiro Hayata, a high-school student who must don the Ultra Suit and the worries that come with it. The son of the former Ultraman, he will become this generation’s new hero! Netflix Original Anime Ultraman starts streaming worldwide April 1st, only on Netflix.

(20) GENRE PLAT. Matthew Johnson left another masterwork in comments today:

All books can be SFnal books, though recent books are bolder
You never know when Dick and Jane might meet with a Beholder
The correct double entrendre
Can make anything genre
You can give a ray gun to Atticus Finch
Let Lennie and George cast a spell in a pinch.

[Thanks to JJ, rcade, John King Tarpinian, Cat Eldridge, Chip Hitchcock, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, Hampus Eckerman, Carl Slaughter, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Matthew Johnson.]

Pixel Scroll 8/3/18 That’s The Pixel Scroll Eraser Button, You Fool!

(1) EATING THE FANTASTIC. Scott Edelman serves up a Sunday brunch with JY Yang in Episode 73 of his Eating the Fantastic podcast.

JY Yang is the author of the Tensorate series of novellas from Tor.Com Publishing, which so far includes The Red Threads of Fortune, The Black Tides of Heaven, and The Descent of Monsters, with a fourth still to come. Their short fiction has been published in more than a dozen venues, including Uncanny Magazine, Lightspeed, and Clarkesworld. And not only had The Black Tides of Heaven been on the Nebula Awards ballot that weekend, but it’s also on this year’s Hugo Awards and World Fantasy Awards ballots as well.

In previous incarnations, they’ve been a molecular biologist; a writer for animation, comics and games; a journalist for one of Singapore’s major papers, and a science communicator with Singapore’s Agency for Science, Technology and Research.

We met for Sunday brunch that weekend at Casbah, which offered a Mediterranean-inspired menu filled with comfort food. I’d heard good things about those Sunday brunches, and what I’d heard turned out to be true, because that morning’s braised lamb and eggs was the most umami-filled meal I had all weekend, and probably my favorite dish while in Pittsburgh.

We discussed why they consider themselves “a master of hermitry,” the catalyst that gave birth to their award-nominated Tensorate Universe, why they think of themselves as terrible at world-building, how their dislike of the Matt Damon movie The Great Wall gave them an idea for a novel, the surprising results after they polled fans on which of their works was most award-worthy, their beginnings writing Star Trek and Star Wars fan fiction, why they never played video games until their 30s, the Samuel R. Delany writing advice they hesitated to share, and much more.

(2) UNTOLD AI. At Medium.com there’s an interview with Chris Noessel, creator of the “What Stories aren’t we Telling Ourselves About AI” info graphic, which analyzed the themes of a large number of movies and shows about AI — “Untold AI?—?A conversation with Chris Noessel of SciFi Interfaces”

It goes quite a bit into the process behind creating the poster, “Untold AI: Poster”.

The AP: This was a pretty massive project, what was the scope and parameters of what you were going to look at?

CN: Oh my yes it was. It took nights and weekends for several months after Juvet. (And it’s still going!)

The scope was big by design. I wanted it to be pretty comprehensive. My authority and expertise in this domain is built on screen sci-fi, since you need to see a thing in use before you can evaluate it. That means movies and TV shows. There’s a lot of sci-fi literature that investigates AI (for instance, I’m reading the Culture series right now by Ian Banks, and it’s got AI baked deep into its worldbuilding), but I just don’t have authority in that domain. But still, screen sci-fi is massive, and I like to be as comprehensive as possible. So I looked back through all the movies and TV shows I could find that had an AI component: A robot, a spaceship AI, a disembodied one. I looked at lists people had collected online. I looked for keywords on IMDb. I don’t think I got them all, but I think I got most.

I’d have liked to include more narrow AI, but that would have expanded the survey of shows by an order of magnitude, and ultimately, the purpose of the project is to help guide sci-fi to be in-line with the science so we hedge our bets in the right way. Narrow AI is already here in the world around us (and less of an existential threat) so there’s not as much need to address it at scope.

(3) CREWED TALK. On Twitter, Karen James, a biologist, points out that instead of saying space missions are manned, one should say “crewed”, as outlined in NASA’s actual style guide: “All references referring to the space program should be non-gender specific (e.g. human, piloted, un-piloted, robotic).”

Unsurprisingly, she gets a lot of pushback in the comments. She does have Phil Plait and Elizabeth Moon weighing in on her side. The thread starts here.

The Planetary Society wrote about non-gendered nomenclature in 2015: “Finding new language for space missions that fly without humans”:

Historically, human spaceflight was described using the words “manned” and “unmanned,” but NASA has shifted to using gender-neutral words to describe human space exploration. Since 2006, the NASA History Program Office Style Guide has stated:

All references referring to the space program should be non-gender specific (e.g. human, piloted, un-piloted, robotic). The exception to the rule is when referring to the Manned Spacecraft Center, the predecessor to the Johnson Space Center in Houston, or any other official program name or title that included “manned” (e.g. Associate Administrator for Manned Spaceflight).

(4) POOH CRACKDOWN. Winnie’s a controversial bear there: “Disney’s ‘Christopher Robin’ Won’t Get China Release Amid Pooh Crackdown”.

For only the second time this year, a Disney movie has been denied release in China. Christopher Robin, a live-action/CGI family film that stars Ewan McGregor, received a no-go from the country’s film authorities.

No reason was given for the denial, but a source pinned the blame on China’s crackdown on images of the Winnie the Pooh character, which is featured in a central role in Christopher Robin. Last summer, authorities began blocking pictures of Winnie the Pooh on social media given that the character has become a symbol of the resistance in China with foes of the ruling Communist Party, namely Chinese leader Xi Jinping. Bloggers have drawn comparisons between the pudgy bear and Xi, which has put the country’s censors in overdrive. In June, Chinese authorities blocked HBO after Last Week Tonight host John Oliver mocked Xi’s sensitivity over being compared to Winnie the Pooh.

But an insider counters that the decision likely has to do with the size and scope of the film given the foreign film quota and the fact that there are several new Hollywood tentpoles in the Chinese market right now.

The New York Times explains the political significance of Pooh in this February 2018 article — “China’s Censors Ban Winnie the Pooh and the Letter ‘N’ After Xi’s Power Grab”.

…But the move to abolish term limits, announced on Sunday, has resurrected deeper fears in Chinese society, where memories remain of the personality cult of China’s founding father, Mao Zedong, and the fevered emotions and chaos that it conjured.

Anxious to suppress criticism, and maintain an appearance of mass support, the Communist Party’s censors have scoured the internet and social media for content deemed subversive. The sanitizing has included many images of Winnie the Pooh — Mr. Xi is sometimes likened to the cartoon bear — and search terms like “my emperor,” “lifelong” and “shameless.”

For a short time, even the English letter “N” was censored, according to Victor Mair, a University of Pennsylvania professor, apparently to pre-empt social scientists from expressing dissent mathematically: N > 2, with “N” being the number of Mr. Xi’s terms in office.

(5) CON MARKETING. Savan Gupta can’t stand it anymore [Facebook link].

Okay. I am going to give away some advice that I usually charge HARD CASH for, as part of my consulting services, as I need to stop seeing such mediocrity glut my feed….

Branding – This is key. There are certain universal standards, of clean design. Your branding should reflect your event, your values, and your overall identity. It’s so much more than ‘just grab a font you like’. And yes, all of us have had a learning curve with this. Hell, I keep copies of my older foibles in my wallet, to remind me of where I’ve been, and the constant quest for improvement. The Key here is, you have to LOVE it. You and your team. Not ‘like’ it, LOVE it. To pine and suffer and STRIVE to bear that standard through thick and thin, and hold it above the dirt-and-water line, brandishing it. Without that, you WILL be surpassed by some upstart that simply CARES more about these things, and is willing to learn faster. Clean design be damned, speaking as that upstart that has repeatedly surpassed my contemporaries. Hell, we’ve seen “Fuzzy McDumpTruck” and his five-ring-Latrine fire parade march some EGREGIOUS HORSE SHIT, that disrespected his endeavors, his performers, and his vendors. To the point of getting names and web URLs wrong (having skipped and skimped on hiring the usual professionals who prevented him from looking *quite* like a bag of ass). And yet, the band played on, and he continued to fail upwards, due to some reject OSHO grade Cult-Leadership skills, and being zealously in love with every derpy idea his pop-rocks-and-soda brain excreted. Because yes, you can actually polish a turd with Heat and Pressure. It won’t be a diamond. But it will not longer be a turd.

I don’t know how much of this will be new to you, but it’s very lively writing….

(6) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS

  • Born August 3, 1904 – Clifford D. Simak
  • Born August 3 — Martin Sheen, 78. Uncle Ben in both the of The Amazing Spider-Man films. Roles also in Total Recall 2070Babylon 5: The River of Souls, The Outer Limits, The Dead ZoneBeyond the Stars (another riff on the Apollo mission), Spawn and voice work in the animated Captain Planet and the Planeteers series.
  • Born August 3 — John Landis, 68. Extensive genre work as producer or executive producer including the Michael Jackson ‘Thriller’ video, Twilight Zone: The Movie, some episodes of the Honey, I Shrunk the KidsWeird Science and Sliders series, a one-off Munsters Christmas special, The Lost Worldgilm and series which are not related to each other and the forthcoming An American Werewolf in London. Oh and Clue which I adore even if it’s not genre.
  • Born August 3 — John C. McGinley, 59. Extensive voice work in such animated productions as Spider-Man, Justice League UnlimitedSuperman/Batman: Public Enemies and Justice League; live work in Highlander II: The QuickeningIt’s a Very Merry Muppet Christmas Movie and the current demon hunting entered Stan Against Evil.
  • Born August 3 — Michael Ealy, 45. Dorian, an android police officer, in the short-lived Almost Human series, Leo the equally short-lived FlashForward series and the Underworld Awakening film in which vampires and werewolves team up to destroy humanity.
  • Born August 3 — Evangeline Lilly, 39. MCU films such as Ant-Man and the Wasp as The Wasp, two of the Hobbit films as Tauriel, and in the Lost series as Katherine ‘Kate’ Austen. Also in Freddy vs. Jason and in multiple nameless roles in the Smallville series.
  • Born August 3 — Hannah Simone, 38. A role in the film remake of The Greatest American Hero, The H+ series in which humanity is nearly wiped and addicted to the internet and host for several seasons of the WCG Ultimate Gamer series.
  • Born August 3 — Max Landis, 33. Son of Joe Landis. Wrote a run of Superman comics called ‘Superman: American Alien’, writer of the Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency series.

(7) COMICS SECTION.

(8) THIRTEENTH DOCTOR LOOT. The Time Ladies will tell you about it: “Merchandise of the Thirteenth Doctor”. For example –

Titan Kawaii Thirteenth Doctor

If the adventure doll isn’t quite for you, then how about a cutesy, kawaii version of our first female Doctor? The Kawaii Thirteenth Doctor Titan figure is ADORABLE and brightens any shelf. With her huge painted eyes and exaggerated features, we couldn’t help but pop her straight into our basket. The 6” figure launched at SDCC a few weeks ago but is available to order from Forbidden Planet now.

Order Titan’s Kawaii Thirteenth Doctor figure here

(9) BEDROCK CONFIDENTIAL. NPR’s Mallory Yu reviews a comic-book reboot: “Yabbadabba-What? These Aren’t The Flintstones You Remember”.

…But before he could tackle that dark comedy, Russell says, he “really wanted to start with the characters and make them relatable and sympathetic, because they’re basically just living their lives.” He credits artist Steve Pugh with bringing humanity to his characters: “You can see the personalities, really, in their design. Fred’s a big beefy guy, looks like he played football in high school and has kind of let himself go since then, but he’s got a lot of love and sadness in his face.”

Fred’s an Everyman in Russell’s Bedrock, a veteran who’s haunted by his actions during the “Paleolithic Wars.” And remember his famous “Yabbadabbadoo?” Russell “sort of turned it into a nonsense mantra to help them deal with PTSD and stress of everyday life.”

Russell says he was able to bend and twist the Flintstones’ world because he didn’t have a lot of childhood nostalgia for the cartoons. “Nothing was sacred, in fact, that was kind of my mission. This was not going to be some reverential homage to The Flintstones.” So Fred works for a terrible boss at a terrible job, trying to make just enough money to afford the latest household appliance. Or, as Russell calls it, “the exploitation of animals as free labor, which to me it’s like they’re the interns of the prehistoric world.”

(10) HEAD SPACE. “Asgardia: the problems in building a space society” — liberal and not-so-liberal rules.

…The constitution also contains some other red flags for utopians:

“To ensure information security, the Government regulates the circulation of certain types of information”.

Asgardia’s “legal instruments” include not only “referendum decisions” and “Acts of Parliament”, but also “decrees of the head of nation”.

Also, Asgardia’s head of nation has the constitutional power to nominate his successor “on the basis of genealogy or on any other basis”. Candidates may also be nominated by the parliament and the Supreme Space Council”, but it’s the Head of Nation who appoints the Chairman of the Space Council, which “is a special governance body” that reports to, guess who, the Head of Nation.

The head of nation also “appoints and removes” the supreme justice of the court and the prosecutor general. Additionally, he or she “has the right to veto candidates” for other top positions, including the National Bank of Asgardia and justices of the court. And to “dissolve Parliament”.

(11) MORE FROM THE SHIRE. More from the Shire: “Small height evolved twice on ‘Hobbit’ island of Flores” – the island’s current short inhabitants are not descended from branch recently discovered.

Scientists decoded the DNA of modern-day “pygmy” people to find out if they might be partly descended from the extinct Hobbit species.

The remains of these Hobbits were found during an archaeological dig on Flores 15 years ago.

The new analysis, published in the journal Science, found no trace of the Hobbit’s DNA in the present-day people.

This is important because some scientists had wondered whether modern humans (Homo sapiens) could have mixed with the Hobbit population when they first arrived on the island thousands of years ago. In theory, this could have led to Hobbit genes being passed down into living people on the island.

(12) THUNDER TOES. Nature found a big foot, so to speak “A dinosaur that stomped the Jurassic scene on size XXXXL feet”.

Large reptile had bigger clodhoppers than any other dinosaur of its kind.

Enormous toe bones excavated in Wyoming belonged to a dinosaur whose feet were more than 1 metre wide — probably a record for dinosaur foot size.

The owner of the gargantuan feet was a sauropod, a group that includes the biggest known dinosaurs. No other known sauropod foot is bigger than the Wyoming animal’s, say Anthony Maltese at the Rocky Mountain Dinosaur Resource Center in Woodland Park, Colorado, Emanuel Tschopp at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City and their colleagues. The fossils bear similarities to those of sauropods called brachiosaurs, which could measure 25 metres long.

The dinosaur, which lived roughly 150 million to 160 million years ago, walked on four legs, but the authors whimsically nicknamed it “the real Bigfoot”.

[Thanks to JJ, Chip Hitchcock, Martin Morse Wooster, Carl Slaughter, Mike Kennedy, John King Tarpinian, Cat Eldridge, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Brian Z.]