Pixel Scroll 8/5/21 You’ve Got To Know When To Hodor’em, Know When To Scroll’em, Know When To White Walker Away

(1) BURTON OUT OF JEOPARDY, UNFORTUNATELY. LeVar Burton won’t succeed the late Alex Trebek as host of the game show Jeopardy! According to Deadline, the show’s executive producer Mike Richards will be taking the job.  

LeVar Burton tweeted today:

I have said many times over these past weeks that no matter the outcome, I’ve won. The outpouring of love and support from family, friends, and fans alike has been incredible! If love is the ultimate blessing and I believe that it is, I am truly blessed beyond measure.

Here’s a look-back at a recent show when LeVar Burton presided over “The Science Fiction Category”.

(2) WHO’S ON FIRST. “Doctor Who’s next showrunner is more important than its next Doctor” insists Radio Times.

…But the showrunner is responsible for literally everything – from the tone of the show to its look, its casting, its music… even, to a lesser degree, its format and structure. Yes, making Doctor Who – and indeed, any show like it – is a massive team effort, but the showrunner picks (or is at least involved in the hiring of) their writers, the composer, the production designer, the make-up artists, the casting director… all those talented folk whose hard work goes into putting the show together.

Think how distinct the Russell T Davies era is from the Steven Moffat era, and how different both are to Chibnall’s show. Bar a few cosmetic changes, Doctor Who starring Christopher Eccleston and Doctor Who starring David Tennant are broadly the same series. But there’d be no mistaking Moffat’s Who for Davies’ – yes, they’re ostensibly the same programme, but the visuals are different, the humour is different, certain of the tropes are different… everything has regenerated, far more dramatically than when the show switches out one lead actor for the next. (That lead actor, of course, is also picked by the showrunner – pending BBC approval.)…

(3) HUGO HISTORY UPDATE. [Item by Kevin Standlee.] Ben Yalow located a copy of the 1993 Hugo Awards Nominating & Final Ballot Details report and I have updated the 1993 Hugo Awards entry at the official Hugo Awards site with a copy of it.

Note that the rules in 1993 were different than they are today, and this report included what was required under the rules as they existed at that time.

[Editor’s egoscanning note: I see File 770 came in second, as it was wont to do in the Nineties.]

(4) ON YOUR MARK. Tenth Letter of the Alphabet has combed through the Official Gazette of the United States Patent Office and assembled a vast collection of “Pulp Fiction Trademarks” like these —

(5) ANOTHER CONLANG. “What Language Does Leeloo Speak In The Fifth Element?” – let Looper tell you.

…A lot of time and effort, including the formation of a special language, went into crafting “The Fifth Element,” with Besson working on the project for around 15 years. What some might not know is that the unique language Leeloo speaks in the film is called the Divine Language, and it’s actually a personal creation of Besson’s, made solely for the movie. 

The Divine Language that was developed for “The Fifth Element” only has around 400 words in total, but that’s certainly enough to carry a conversation. According to an interview with i-D, Jovovich gives Besson complete credit for the language’s creation, stating that “He brought me a dictionary of words. We would write each other letters in the language, so I was getting used to communication and speaking it.”… 

(6) UNDERSTANDING SILKPUNK. BookRiot’s Lyndsie Manusos has some definite opinions about “Silkpunk: What It Is And What It Definitely Is Not”. “Silkpunk does NOT apply to every speculative, science fiction, or fantasy book inspired by Asian history or culture. Here’s what it is.”

…In the long history of speculative and SFF genres, silkpunk is pretty new. It was invented by Ken Liu to describe his 2015 novel The Grace of Kings. Liu coined the term, and wrote a post on his website to delve into its definition. Liu’s post begins with: “No, [silkpunk is] not “Asian-flavored steampunk.” No, it’s not “Asian-influenced fantasy.” No, it’s not…

(7) A PAIR OF ACES. Molly Templeton pointed out to Tor.com readers where they can “Watch Martha Wells and Becky Chambers in Conversation”.

… The two discuss outlining (or not); television watching (Wells, like all wise viewers, enjoys Elementary); how much time Chambers thought about tea while writing Psalm; writing with compassion for your characters; and how excellent it is that more voices are telling their stories in SFF….

(8) TOP 10. ScreenRant shared the list of “The American Film Institute’s 10 Best Sci Fi Movies”. Guess what is only number six!!

6. Blade Runner

A cerebral film with lofty existential themes, Blade Runner is a duly highly regarded sci-fi film and often noted as one of the best of the sci-fi genre. Another Ridley Scott film – one of his best science fiction films – Blade Runner follows an officer and blade runner named Deckard that is tasked with tracking down and destroying four replicants, which are sentient robots that were deemed illegal after a replicant uprising on a faraway planet.

On Deckard’s journey to destroy, or retire, the replicants, he is faced with questions of what it means to be human and the accuracy or inaccuracy of perception of reality. Further, the film paints a bleak portrait of a potential future with animals being extinct and a highly polluted atmosphere, connecting to concerns that modern audiences have for the environment.

(9) STONE SOUP. At “Building Beyond: Leaf Me Alone”, Sarah Gailey is joined by Stephen Rider and Amal El-Mohtar to play with this writing prompt:

The global forest community has decided to cut off all economic and trading ties with the outside world. From now on, forest-based resources are for the forest alone.

(10) MEMORY LANE.

  • 1970 – Fifty one years at Heicon ’70 where John Brunner was the Toastmaster, Ursula Le Guin wins the Hugo for Best Novel for The Left Hand of Darkness. It was first published in 1969 as Ace SF Special, Series 1.  Other nominated works that year were Robert Silverberg’s Up the Line, Piers Anthony‘s Macroscope, Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.’s Slaughterhouse-Five and Norman Spinrad‘s Bug Jack Barron. It would also win a Nebula Award and be nominated for a Ditmar Award as well. 

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born August 5, 1906 John Huston. Yes, the Huston who directed  and wrote The Maltese Falcon graced our community. He was M in Casino Royale, and The Lawgiver in Battle for the Planet of the Apes. He was in Sherlock Holmes in New York as Professor Moriarty, and voiced Gandalf in The Return of The King. (Died 1987.)
  • Born August 5, 1929 Don Matheson. Best remembered for being Mark Wilson in Land of the Giants. He also had roles in Lost in Space (where he played in an alien in one episode and an android in another episode), Voyage to the Bottom of the SeaThe Alfred Hitchcock Hour, an Alice in Wonderland film and Dragonflight. (Died 2014.)
  • Born August 5, 1935 Wanda Ventham, 86. Mother of Benedict Cumberbatch. She’s been on Who three times, in “The Faceless Ones”, a Second Doctor story, in “Image of the Fendahl”, a Fourth Doctor story and finally in “Time and the Rani”, a Seventh Doctor story. She also had roles in The Blood Beast TerrorProject U.F.O and Captain Kronos: Vampire Hunter. She was often on British TV series including Danger ManThe SaintThe Avengers and The Prisoner. And yes, she was on his Sherlock series where she played…his mother.
  • Born August 5, 1940 Natalie Trundy, 81. First, she was one of the Underdwellers, named Albina, in Beneath the Planet of the Apes.  Next, she played Dr. Stephanie Branton, a specialist studying apes from the future who came into our present day in Escape from the Planet of the Apes.  Then in Conquest of the Planet of the Apes and Battle for the Planet of the Apes, she played the chimp Lisa.  As far as I can tell, she’s the only performer to play three different roles in the Apes films. 
  • Born August 5, 1947 Élisabeth Vonarburg, 74. Parisian born, she’s been a Quebec resident for four decades. She was the literary director of the French-Canadian SF magazine Solaris. Her first novel, Le Silence de la Cité, was published in 1981. Since then she’s been a prolific writer of novels and short fiction. I’m pleased to say that the usual suspects is deeply stocked in her works. Her website, in French of course, is here. She’s won ten Prix Aurora Awards for the best Canadian science fiction and fantasy works and activities in English and French. Très, très impressionnant! 
  • Born August 5, 1961 Tawny Kitaen. I first remember her in Hercules and the Circle of Fire as Deianeira, a role remarkable only for the minimalist costume she wore. She repeated the role throughout the series. Her first genre acting was actually in low budget horror flick Witchboard. And other than an appearance in a SF comedy series They Came from Outer Space, that’s it for her. (Died 2021.)
  • Born August 5, 1980 JoSelle Vanderhooft, 41. Former Green Man reviewer with a single novel so far, Ebenezer, and several collections, Steam-Powered: Lesbian Steampunk Stories and Steam-Powered II: More Lesbian Steampunk Stories which the former were nominated for a Lambda Award. She also co-edited with Steve Berman, Heiresses of Russ 2011: The Year’s Best Lesbian Speculative Fiction.

(12) COMICS HISTORY. “Let Otto Binder show you how the mid-’60s comic book sausage was made” at Scott Edelman’s blog.

Two more treasures found in my late sister-in-law Ellen Vartanoff’s collection — mid-’60s scripts by the extremely prolific comics writer Otto Binder. Wikipedia claims he wrote 4,400 stories under his own name — and 160 more under the pen-name Eando Binder…

…His [Otto Binder’s] story in Creepy adapted of one of the 10 stories he wrote for Amazing Stories with his brother Earl Binder (under the pen name Eando Binder) about the intelligent robot Adam Link.

Someday I’ll scan and share the entirety of both scripts, but for now, here’s a comparison of the first page of the Mighty Samson one, as well as the published page, with art by Frank Thorne — who’s perhaps best-known for his work on Marvel’s Red Sonja….

(13) DRAWN THAT WAY. Studio co-founder Alvy Ray Smith tells IEEE Spectrum readers “The Real Story of Pixar” – “How a bad hardware company turned itself into a great movie studio.”

…The story… goes back to a time when I and other researchers in computer graphics scattered around the United States began to see the technology as allowing a new art form: the creation of digitally animated movies. A handful of us began talking about when somebody would make the first one—”The Movie,” we called it—and the massive computing power it would take to pull it off. That kind of computing power was not affordable in the mid-1970s. But with Moore’s Law cranking along at a steady pace, there was every reason to think that the cost of computing power would come down sufficiently within a decade or so. In the meantime, we focused on developing the software that would make The Movie possible.

By definition, The Movie could incorporate no hand drawing. The tools to build it emerged piecemeal. First came the software that enabled computers to create two-dimensional images and, later, virtual 3D objects. Then we figured out how to move those objects, shade them, and light them before rendering them as frames of a movie….

…We kept the possibility of The Movie alive during the next five years with a series of short films, including Luxo Jr. (1986), nominated for an Academy Award; Tin Toy (1988) winner of an Academy Award; Red’s Dream (1987); and Knick Knack (1989). These were four of the sparkling jewels that sustained us during these otherwise tough years.

Each one of these pieces represented continued improvements in the underlying in-house technologies. Luxo Jr., for example, incorporated the first articulated objects that self-shadowed themselves from multiple light sources. Red’s Dream showed off our Pixar Image Computer: the principal background for the piece, a bicycle shop, was the most complex computer graphics scene ever rendered at the time….

(14) THEY’RE COMING TO TAKE ME AWAY. “R2-D2 is now a Tamagotchi you’ll forget about” predicts Engadget. (See demos at the company’s own interactive info page: Star Wars R2-D2 Tamagotchi.)

Disney and Bandai have teamed up to bring Artoo to the pockets of fans who don’t mind training, cleaning and looking after a needy, digital version of the droid wherever they are. …As you might expect from a Tamagotchi, you’ll interact with the toy using three physical buttons.

There are 19 skills for Artoo to learn. You’ll need to keep him charged and clean. Unlike with other Tamagotchis, you won’t have to clear up any poop from R2-D2 (he’s a droid, after all). A Lucasfilm spokesperson told Engadget that if R2-D2 sits for too long, he’ll accumulate dust. You can clean that away with the press of a button.

There are nine mini-games you can play with him, including firefighting and Star Wars staple Dejarik (or holochess). If you don’t keep the droid happy, some Jawas might arrive to take him away….

(15) FROM OUTSIDE OF TIME. Episode 37 of Octothorpe 37, a podcast about science fiction and SF fandom from John Coxon, Alison Scott, and Liz Batty, is available here.

 We didn’t record this week so this is the fabled EPISODE X, part of the SUMMER OF FUN (summer of fun). We discuss the Retro Hugo Awards and reading old books from a time when Graham Linehan was still on Twitter. Crazy.

(16) MINUS MEN. Y: The Last Man premieres September 13 — on FX on Hulu.

Based on DC Comics’ acclaimed series by Brian K. Vaughan and Pia Guerra, Y: The Last Man traverses a post-apocalyptic world in which a cataclysmic event decimates every mammal with a Y chromosome but for one cisgender man and his pet monkey. The series follows the survivors in this new world as they struggle with their efforts to restore what was lost and the opportunity to build something better.

(17) THE STARS BYE DESTINATION. Gizmodo knows why “This Blasted Star Is Getting the Hell Out of the Milky Way”.

Careening through the Milky Way at nearly 2 million miles per hour, the star LP 40–365 shows no signs of stopping. A team of astronomers recently figured out that the star was propelled into its current speedrun by a supernova explosion millions of years ago.

LP 40–365 is unusual. It’s a white dwarf, a small, compact star at the end of its life, and it’s very rich in metals. LP 40–365 also has own atmosphere, which is mostly composed of oxygen and neon. But most important to this story is that the star is a runaway from a huge stellar explosion, which set in motion its dash out of the galaxy….

(18) VIDEO OF THE DAY. In “Honest Game Trailers: Mario Golf”,  Fandom Games says this Mario Bros. line extension “turns the fusty game of golf into the PGA version of Death Race.”

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

Pixel Scroll 4/18/21 We Were Somewhere Around Scrollstow On The Edge Of Fandom When The Files Began To Take Hold

(1) HISTORY-MAKING NOVELETTES. At the SF Award Database, Mark Kelly has released his list of the Top 100 Novelettes in sff history, with the first 20 annotated: “Top SF/F/H Novelettes”.

On top: “Nightfall” by Isaac Asimov (1941). Here’s the link to his “Short Fiction Ranking Introduction and Methodology”.

Kelly posted the “Top SF/F/H Short Stories” a few months ago. “Bears Discover Fire” by Terry Bisson headed that list. Pages for other categories are in process.

(2) YOUR NEW FAVORITE PROF. N.K. Jemisin has joined the ranks of Master Class instructors.

(3) ESSENCE OF WONDER. Essence of Wonder with Gadi Evron is hosting a two-part panels on “Exploring Chinese Science Fiction Multi-dimensionally: Fiction, Translation, Fandom, Industry, and More” on Saturday, April 24 at 3 p.m. Eastern. Register at the link.

Join us for two panels on Chinese science fiction explored from multiple outlooks, from the fiction itself, through the translation and the fans, and all the way to the industry. The show is co-hosted by Regina Kanyu Wang and Yen Ooi, with our panelists: Chen Qiufan, Fend Chang, Emily Xueni Jin, Christine Ni, Angus Stewart, and Guangzhao Lyu. More details below.

There will be a segment on Asia and another on Europe.

(4) KICKS IN SIXTY-SIX. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] Isaac Asimov, in his autobiography In Joy Still Felt, discusses how he was master of ceremonies at the 1966 Worldcon.  He was also nominated for a special Hugo for “Best All-Time Novel Series,” where he competed against The Lord Of The Rings and series by Edgar Rice Burroughs, Robert A. Heinlein, and E.E. Smith.  Hugos then were given at a banquet.

I felt Tolkien was certain to win, and fairly so, and that Heinlein, Smith, and Burroughs all had enough devotees among the young fans attending the convention (and who did the voting) to give each a good shot at second place.  Foundation, I felt, would finish in last place, and I grieved at being the sacrificial lamb.  I was reconciled at losing, but hoped against hope that Burroughs or Smith would place fifth.  I would be delighted to place fourth.

When it came to hand out that award, however, the organizer of the convention hastily whispered to me that Harlan (Ellison) wanted to handle the novel item and said, in a shamefaced manner, ‘We had better let him. You know Harlan.’

I certainly knew that Harlan was capable of making a giant-size fuss if he didn’t have his way, and I didn’t want him spoiling the banquet, so with what grace I could muster I gave way.

Harlan came dancing up, made a few rapid remarks that had everyone laughing, and then announced the nominees and omitted the Foundation series.

I called out from my seat, in real outrage, ‘Hey, Harlan, at least mention the Foundation series.’

Harlan didn’t hear me, or at least he made no sign that he had.  He reached for the envelope, tore it open, waited the inevitable heartbeat for the sake of suspense, and said, ‘And the winner:  Isaac Asimov for the Foundation series.’

I thought it was Harlan’s idea of a joke and sat there without moving and rather annoyed until everyone started laughing, and I gather I really won.  And there were Gertrude and the children beaming, and everyone still laughing and applauding, and I got up to accept my Hugo, thoroughly and utterly speechless.

I don’t think the organizers of the convention thought anyone would take the award away from Tolkien, and it was the first indication I had, the first really convincing indication, since the first of the Foundation series appeared twenty-four years before, that the series was so popular. In fact, I realized that just as ‘Nightfall’ was the most highly regarded piece among the shorter lengths, The Foundation Trilogy was the most highly-regarded science-fiction item among the longer lengths.

(5) BOMBS, BOOKS, AND BOWIE. [Item by rcade.] The chemical/biological/radiological/nukes/explosives expert and electronic musician Andy Oppenheimer is tacking on a new job title — science fiction author.

Oppenheimer, who has written the indie novels Fields of Orion: An Odyssey and Fields of Orion: The Mission, describes the books and upcoming sequels in a guest post on the SFF book database Risingshadow. “Guest post by Andy Oppenheimer”.

In the two decades before I started writing science fiction, I wrote and lectured about defence, weapons of mass destruction (nuclear, bio, chemical), and counter-terrorism. Before that, I worked in publishing – starting with a job at an American futuristic science magazine, Omni, which also published science fiction. I went to the big conventions in the USA and here in Britain, and met many famous authors.

I wonder if I should have started writing sci-fi back then. But during my time at Omni I was more involved in the London nightclub scene as a DJ and part-time synth-pop singer.

He calls David Bowie, who he used to cosplay at nightclubs and science fiction cons, a major influence on both his music and fiction. Oppenheimer told Altvenger Magazine how he was hired by Omni in 1978: “Thin White Nuke by Andy Oppenheimer”.

When I ask my boss why I got the job over others with science degrees, he says: “You looked and acted the part for a futuristic magazine – and the others were boring.”

He later became a specialist on nuclear, biological and chemical weapons for the publication Jane’s Terrorism and Security Monitor. There’s no word on whether he looked the part.

(6) NO TRICKLE-DOWN. “Winter Soldier Creator Ed Brubaker on Lack of MCU Profits” at The Mary Sue.

The global success of the Marvel Cinematic Universe has earned Marvel and Disney billions of dollars over the past decade. But does any of that money trickle down to the writers and artists who created these beloved characters and stories? Not much, according to writer Ed Brubaker. Brubaker discussed his relationship with the MCU during an appearance on Kevin Smith and Marc Bernardin’s Fatman Beyond podcast, where he delved into his history with Marvel.

Brubaker, along with artist Steve Epting, resurrected the character of Bucky Barnes and transformed him into the Winter Soldier in 2004. What followed was a highly successful comics run that garnered Brubaker multiple Eisner awards and nominations for Captain America…. 

Brubaker highlighted the salary discrepancy for comics creators and artists by noting that he earned more money for his cameo performance in The Winter Soldier than for his creation of the character itself. “It’s ridiculous that like being a co-creator of The Winter Soldier … I should not have to be worried about providing for my wife if I die. Like right now, I don’t live a high life … I do well … it started to feel like this kind of hurts a little bit. To be overlooked this way. I know that they’ve made deals with other people that have had less input on what they do. And I just kind of felt like, it just sucks,” Brubaker told Smith and Bernardin….

(7) YOU’LL WANT TO SHELL OUT. Let Kotaku encourage you to “Drink Up This Ghost In The Shell Japanese Booze”.

Joining the likes of other geeky sake comes a line of Ghost in the Shell-themed stuff. Kanpai!

Previously, there has been Pac-Man, Yakzua, and Final Fantasy branded sake. Now, three bottles, each with characters from Ghost in the Shell, will be released in Japan.

According to Kurand (via Grape and PR Times), there is a light and dry-tasting Motoko Kusanagi branded release from Arinokawa Sake Brewery….

(8) FLETCHER OBIT. Costume designer Robert Fletcher, who worked on the original four Star Trek films, died April 5 at age 98. The Wrap has details: “Robert Fletcher, ‘Star Trek’ Film Costume Designer, Dies at 98”.

…Robert “Bob” Fletcher worked as a costume designer for over six decades, crafting the iconic look of the Klingons and the Vulcans in the original “Star Trek” movies, starting with “Star Trek: The Motion Picture” in 1979. His last feature film was “Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home” in 1986, and he’s credited with imagining the “monster maroon” Starfleet uniforms worn by William Shatner and company….

(9) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

  • April 18, 1938 –Superman first appeared in Action Comics #1, a comic book published on April 18, 1938 by National Allied Publications even though the cover said June. The character was created by writer Jerry Siegel and artist Joe Shuster. This was actually an anthology, and contained eleven features with the Superman feature being the first thirteen inside pages. Five years ago, a pristine copy  of this comic sold for a record $3,207,852 on an eBay auction. It was one of two hundred thousand that were printed. 

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]

  • Born April 18, 1884 – Frank Paul.  After FP had been contributing to Gernsback’s Electrical Experimenter awhile, G recruited him to help start Amazing; FP did every cover 1926-1929.  Then Air WonderScience WonderScientific DetectiveWonderFantasticScience Fiction; eventually Amazing again.  Here is Ralph 124C41+.  Here is the Aug 27 Amazing.  Here is the Clevention Program Book (13th Worldcon).  Here is the Dec 57 Satellite.  Two hundred twenty covers, fourteen hundred forty interiors.  Guest of Honor at the first Worldcon.  Two posthumous artbooks.  (Died 1963) [JH]
  • Born April 18, 1907 – Gertrude Carr.  Charter member of the Nameless Ones.  Correspondent of TrumpetVega, and like that; member of various apas e.g. FAPASAPSN’APA.  Active in Star Trek fandom during its first decades.  See here.  (Died 2005) [JH]
  • Born April 18, 1952 – Martin Hoare.  Physicist and beer connoisseur.  Co-chaired Eastercon 35 and 53, a suitable numerical coincidence.  Doc Weir Award (service).  Regularly attended U.S. Worldcons during the long run of Dave Langford’s Best-Fanwriter Hugos, gleefully announced telephoning with the news at 3 a.m. DL’s time.  (Died 2019) [JH]
  • Born April 18, 1946 Janet Kagan. “The Nutcracker Coup” was nominated for both the Hugo Award for Best Novelette and the Nebula Award for Best Novelette, winning the Hugo at ConFrancisco. She has but two novels, one being Uhura’s Song, a Trek novel, and quite a bit short fiction which is out in The Complete Kagan from Bean Books and is available from the usual digital suspects. (Died 2008.) (CE)
  • Born April 18, 1965 Stephen Player, 56. Some birthday honor folks are elusive. He came up via one of the sites JJ gave me but little is on him on the web. What I did find is awesome as he’s deep in the Pratchett’s Discworld and the fandom that sprung up around it. He illustrated the first two Discworld Maps, and quite a number of the books including the 25th Anniversary Edition of The Light Fantastic and The Illustrated Wee Free Men. Oh, but that’s just a mere wee taste of he’s done as he did the production design for the Sky One production of Hogfather and The Colour of Magic. He did box art and card illustrations for Guards! Guards! A Discworld Boardgame. Finally he contributed to some Discworld Calendars, games books, money for the Discworld convention. I want that money. (CE)
  • Born April 18, 1965 – Stephen Player, age 56.  Thirty covers, a dozen interiors.  Here is an Oxford ed’n of Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?  Associated with Terry Pratchett; here is The Discworld Mapphere is The Illustrated “Wee Free Men”.  Website.  [JH]
  • Born April 18, 1969 Keith R. A. DeCandido, 52. I found him with working in these genre media franchises: such as Supernatural, AndromedaFarscapeFireflyAliensStar Trek In its various permutations, Buffy the Vampire SlayerDoctor WhoSpider-ManX-MenHerculesThorSleepy Hollow,and Stargate SG-1. (He has also written works that were not media tie-ins.) (CE) 
  • Born April 18, 1971 David Tennant, 50. Eleventh Doctor and my favorite of the modern Doctors along with Thirteen whom I’m also very fond of. There are some episodes such as the “The Unicorn and The Wasp” that I’ve watched repeatedly.  He’s also done other spectacular genre work such as the downright creepy Kilgrave in Jessica Jones, and and Barty Crouch, Jr. in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. He’s also in the Beeb’s remake of the The Quatermass Experiment as Dr. Gordon Briscoe. (CE) 
  • Born April 18, 1973 Cora Buhlert, 48. With Jessica Rydill, she edits the Speculative Fiction Showcase, a most excellent site. She has a generous handful of short fiction professionally published, and she’s was a finalist again for the Best Fan Writer Hugo this year. I’ve got her Paris Green: A Helen Shepherd Mystery in my reading list. (CE) 
  • Born April 18, 1994 – Alexandra Adornetto, age 27.  Eight novels.  Her first was published when she was 13; “The shadow represents individuality and colour and a person’s spirit, really.”  Won a State public-speaking competition.  Commuted between Australia and Ole Miss.  Besides writing, likes “old-style country music, theology, singing.”  [JH]
  • Born April 18 – Cheryl Morgan.  Her Emerald City won a Best-Fanzine Hugo (I contributed to it); CM later won Best Fanwriter, joined in earning two Best-Semiprozine Hugos while at Clarkesworld, now edits Salon Futura,owns Wizard’s Tower Press.  Guest of Honor at Eurocon 34.  I’d call her an idiosyncratic critic but around here that wouldn’t indicate she was unusual.  [JH]

(11) COMICS SECTION.

  • Get Fuzzy has a lot of funny-horrible puns mashing up Star Wars and Canada. 
  • Bizarro does justice to superhero cuisine.

(12) BAUM’S AWAY.PBS’ American Experience series premieres American Oz: The True Wizard Behind The Curtain on April 19.

Explore the life and times of author L. Frank Baum, the creator of one of the most beloved, enduring and classic American narratives. By 1900, when The Wonderful Wizard of Oz was published, Baum was 44 years old and had spent much of his life in restless pursuit of success. With mixed results he dove into a string of jobs  — chicken breeder, actor, marketer of petroleum products, shopkeeper, newspaperman and traveling salesman — Baum continued to reinvent himself, reflecting a uniquely American brand of confidence, imagination and innovation. During his travels to the Great Plains and on to Chicago during the American frontier’s final days, he witnessed a nation coming to terms with the economic uncertainty of the Gilded Age. But he never lost his childlike sense of wonder and eventually crafted his observations into a magical tale of survival, adventure and self-discovery, reinterpreted through the generations in films, books and musicals.

(13) THE EARTH IS FLAT, HOW BOW DAT. [Item by rcade.] If you’re looking for the kind of definitive proof that only a random Internet search can provide, Getty Images has a series titled “Flat Earth from Space.” Here’s a lovely shot of the Antarctica-ringed planet we call home perched on its stabilizing stalactite: “Flat Earth From Space Stock Photo”

The images are by iStock contributor Cokada from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, who has a portfolio of more than 8,800 images that include a lot of science fictional elements. “Cokada Stock Image and Video Portfolio”.

(14) IN SPACE, NO ONE CAN COMPLAIN TO OSHA. The Guardian is inspired by Stowaway to survey the field: “Sitting in a tin can: why sci-fi films are finally telling astronaut life like it is”

Anybody who fancies watching a new science fiction film this month can count their lucky stars. A Netflix drama, Stowaway, features Anna Kendrick, Toni Collette and Daniel Dae Kim as a trio of astronauts who are on their way to Mars when they discover that an unfortunate launch-plan engineer, Shamier Anderson, is still onboard. The trouble is, there is only enough oxygen for three of them. American viewers can also see Voyagers (due for release in Britain in July), in which 30 hormonal starship passengers are preparing to colonise another world. The trouble is, something goes wrong on their mission, too, and the trip turns into an interplanetary Lord of the Flies. The moral of both stories is that you should probably push “astronaut” a few slots down your list of dream jobs. But if you’ve caught any other science fiction films recently, it’s bound to be quite far down the list, anyway.

Again and again over the past decade, cinema has warned us that venturing beyond the Earth’s atmosphere is uncomfortable, dangerous, exhaustingly difficult, frequently tedious, and almost certain to involve interplanetary angst and asphyxiation…. 

(15) FRANKENSTEIN’S DROID. This happened at an auction in 2017, but it’s news to me. An “R2-D2 unit from ‘Star Wars’ sells for $2.75 million” reported CNN, the prop assembled from genuine bits and pieces.

A complete R2-D2 unit sold for $2.75 million Wednesday at a California auction, according to the Los Angeles-area auction house Profiles in History.

Luke Skywalker’s 43-inch tall sidekick was assembled from components from the original “Star Wars” trilogy as well as “Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace” and “Star Wars: Episode II: Attack of the Clones,” according to the auction catalog. The films were made between 1977 and 2002.

Unfortunately, this R2-D2 won’t interact with you. “No internal mechanics or workings are present,” the auction house said.

The droid is constructed of aluminum, steel and fiberglass, and is believed to be the only complete R2-D2 unit in the public domain, according to Profiles in History’s auction catalog. The auction house called it “one of the most instantly recognizable pieces of pop culture in existence.”

The dome in the droid dates to the original 1977 film when it was used by actor Kenny Baker.

The auction catalog said R2-D2 units were upgraded as more films were made, with older components being retired….

(16) TRAILER TIME. The WB dropped a trailer for the animated Batman: The Long Halloween, Part One.

(17) VIDEO OF THE DAY. “Star Trek:  First Contact 25th Anniversary/First Contact Day” on YouTube is a panel sponsored by Paramount Plus for the 25th anniversary of Star Trek:  First Contact that was moderated by Wil Wheaton and included Sir Patrick Stewart, Brent Spiner, Alice Krige, and Jonathan Frakes, who starred in the film and directed it,  Topics included Krige’s preparation for her work as the Borg Queen, how Spiner felt his work as Data changed with the introduction of the emotion chip, and why Frakes as a director became known as “Two-Takes Frakes,”

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

Pixel Scroll 5/17/20 Quit Airing Those Gripping Hands Through The Zoom

(1) TIME TO BOW OUT. Bruce Sterling’s blog at WIRED, which he’s been writing since 2003, is ending: “Farewell to Beyond the Beyond”.

…If there are no big events due to pandemic, and nobody’s shopping much, either, then it’s mighty hard to keep a magazine empire afloat in midair. Instead, you’ve gotta fire staffers, shut down software, hunt new business models, re-organize and remove loose ends. There is probably no looser-end in the entire WIRED domain than this weblog.

…Although I wrote tons of “original content” elsewhere, long text-form essays like this were vanishingly rare on “Beyond the Beyond.” The blog never trolled for any viral hits, or tried to please any patrons. Also, I never got paid anything for my blogging, which was probably the key to the blog’s longevity. This blog persisted with such ease, because there was so much that I didn’t have to do.

…Also, the ideal “Beyond the Beyond” reader was never any fan of mine, or even a steady reader of the blog itself. I envisioned him or her as some nameless, unlikely character who darted in orthogonally, saw a link to some odd phenomenon unheard-of to him or her, and then careened off at a new angle, having made that novelty part of his life. They didn’t have to read the byline, or admire the writer’s literary skill, or pony up any money for enlightenment or entertainment. Maybe they would discover some small yet glimmering birthday-candle to set their life alight.

(2) ANTICLICK BAIT, BUT DON’T BLAME THE PARK SERVICE. Does Gizmodo think putting the President’s name in this headline generates more clicks? If so, they’re wrong . I only looked because Daniel Dern recommended the link. “These Social Distancing Posters Are the Best Thing the Trump Administration Has Done for Parks”. Very clever stuff! Then I went to the National Park Service’s Twitter feed and found the source art.

The posters have an important mission: promote social distancing in parks during the covid-19 pandemic, reduce the spread of disease in parks, and promote virtual opportunities and experiences at parks. To be fair, the posters have been around for a few weeks now, but these gems clearly haven’t received the attention they deserve….

And that’s not the only clever thing with a genre twist that they’ve posted. Another is:

(3) RESOURCES FOR THE SUMMER SCARES PROGRAM. The Summer Scares 2020 reading list has been augmented by an array of videos:

A playlist of videos about the Summer Scares program, including resources for libraries to use to promote horror at their own libraries. Summer Scares is brought to you by the Horror Writers Association, Book Riot, Library Journal/School Library Journal, and United for Libraries.

Here’s the one from Stephen Graham Jones:

(4) VOYAGE TO THE BOTTOM OF THE SEA. SF Geeks go where only two men have gone before: “Thirty-six Thousand Feet”, in The New Yorker.

…Most submarines go down several hundred metres, then across; this one was designed to sink like a stone. It was the shape of a bulging briefcase, with a protruding bulb at the bottom. This was the pressure hull—a titanium sphere, five feet in diameter, which was sealed off from the rest of the submersible and housed the pilot and all his controls. Under the passenger seat was a tuna-fish sandwich, the pilot’s lunch. He gazed out of one of the viewports, into the blue. It would take nearly four hours to reach the bottom.

…The submarine touched the silty bottom, and the pilot, a fifty-three-year-old Texan named Victor Vescovo, became the first living creature with blood and bones to reach the deepest point in the Tonga Trench. He was piloting the only submersible that can bring a human to that depth: his own.

For the next hour, he explored the featureless beige sediment, and tried to find and collect a rock sample. Then the lights flickered, and an alarm went off. Vescovo checked his systems—there was a catastrophic failure in battery one. Water had seeped into the electronics, bringing about a less welcome superlative: the deepest-ever artificial explosion was taking place a few feet from his head.

If there were oxygen at that depth, there could have been a raging fire. Instead, a battery junction box melted, burning a hole through its external shell without ever showing a flame. Any instinct to panic was suppressed by the impossibility of rescue. Vescovo would have to come up on his own.

(5) MCWHORTER OBIT. Noted Burroughs collector George McWhorter (1931-2020), whose work in the sff field came after a long and fruitful career in music, died April 25. Legacy has details of both careers, as well as his family history.

…George’s most celebrated collection is the Edgar Rice Burroughs Memorial Collection, which he developed as a tribute to his mother Nell Dismukes McWhorter, who taught him to read when he was just five years old. “She tried everything,” George recalls, “Dickens, Dumas… but when she got to Burroughs, I was hooked!” The largest institutional collection of Burroughs in the world, this vast and comprehensive collection of rare editions, toys, posters, games, photographs, and film has attracted scholars and fans to the University of Louisville for more than thirty years.

In 1986 George was named Curator of the Edgar Rice Burroughs Collection, a fitting title for a man who has furthered scholarship, preserved unique treasures, and brought worldwide attention to Burroughs. Looking toward the future, George has established an endowment to provide continuous support for the Edgar Rice Burroughs Memorial Collection. In 2008, he designated a bequest for an endowed chair and curatorship. He also has been working with Burroughs Bibliophiles on their own gifts and bequests.

(6) TODAY IN HISTORY.

  • May 17, 1987 The Return Of The Six Million Dollar Man And The Bionic Woman first aired. The series were loosely based off on Cyborg by Martin Caidin and The Bionic Woman by Kenneth Johnson. Michael Sloan wrote the screenplay which was based on the story he and Bruce Lansbury wrote. Lee Majors co-stars here with Lindsay Wagner. Martin Landau, Lee Major II  and Gary Lockwood guest star. It was the fourth highest rate show of genre week, and holds a 82% approval rating among the audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes.

(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]

  • Born May 17, 1913 Peter B. Germano. Though neither of his SF novels was of great distinction, The Interplanetary Adventures and  The Pyramids from Space (written as Jack Berlin), his scriptwriter duties are as he did work on The Time TunnelVoyage to the Bottom of the Sea, Land of the Lost, Battle of the Planets and the revival version of The Next Step Beyond, do warrant his being noted here. (Died 1983.) (CE)
  • Born May 17, 1918 – Darrell Richardson.  Baptist minister, authority on Frederick Faust (who wrote as “Max Brand”) and Edgar Burroughs, collector (30,000 books, 20,000 pulps).  Early member of Cincinnati Fantasy Group.  Co-founded Memphis SF Ass’n, who named their Darrell Award for Mid-South regional work after him.  Served as a director of the Nat’l Fantasy Fan Federation; compiled An Index of the Works of Various Fantasy Authors 1947-1948 and An Index of Various Fantasy Publications 1947-1948.  Member of First Fandom.  Big Heart, Lamont, Phoenix awards.  (Died 2006) [JH]
  • Born May 17, 1919 – Ronald Cassill.  Lieutenant in U.S. Army; two exhibits of his artwork in Chicago; two stories reprinted in The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction.  Atlantic Monthly “first” prize, O. Henry short-story prize, American Academy of Arts & Letters Award for Literature; Fulbright, Guggenheim fellowships; Rockefeller grant; Professor of English, Brown University.  (Died 2002) [JH]
  • Born May 17, 1926 – Ludvík Soucek.  Probably still the best-known Czech SF author.  Wrote also about puppet theater, photography, book printing.  A dozen books, as many collections.  (Died 1978) [JH]
  • Born May 17, 1946 – F. Paul Wilson.  Sold to Analog while still in medical school, now an osteopath.  Medical thrillers, interactive scripts e.g. FTL Newsfeed.  Urban mercenary Repairman Jack first appeared in N.Y. Times best-seller The Tomb.  Three Prometheus Awards, including the first (1979), most recently Lifetime Achievement (2015).  Fifty novels in our field, sixty shorter stories, letters & reviews in JanusSF ReviewN.Y. Review of SF.  [JH]
  • Born May 17, 1948 – Amanda Cockrell.  Professor at Hollins University.  Historical and other fiction for adults, young adults, children, under her own name and pseudonyms.  Among us, novels about deer dancers (Daughter of the Sky, two more), goddesses (Persephone, Aphrodite, Athena), horse catchers (When the Horses Came, two more); six others; What We Keep Is Not Always What Will Stay named one of the best children’s books of 2011 by The Boston Globe.  [JH]
  • Born May 17, 1954 Colin Greenland, 66. His partner is the Susanna Clarke, with whom he has lived since 1996. The Entropy Exhibition: Michael Moorcock and the British ‘New Wave’ in Science Fiction study is based on his PhD thesis. His most successful fictional work is the Plenty series that starts with Take Back Plenty and continues with Seasons of PlentyThe Plenty Principle and wraps up with Mother of Plenty. In the Eighties and Ninties, he was involved in the editorial work ofFoundation: The Review of Science Fiction and Interzone. (CE)
  • Born May 17, 1958 – Dave Sim.  Perpetrator of Cerebus the Aardvark.  Twenty covers and interiors for Phantasy DigestDark FantasyBorealis.  Harvey Award; Canadian Comic Book Creator Hall of Fame.  [JH]

(8) COMICS SECTION.

(9) ANOTHER ENTRY FOR YOUR HVP. Cora Buhlert, 2020 Best Fan Writer Hugo finalist, has put her Hugo Voter Packet online as well. Here is a link where you can download it in the e-book format of your choice here.

(10) MORE LAUGHS. NPR takes notes as “Greg Daniels Moves His Comedic Spotlight To Absurdity In The Afterlife”.

For more than 30 years, Emmy Award-winning television writer, director and producer Greg Daniels has spun comedy from the threads of ordinary life, turning its frustrations and awkward moments into such hit shows as The Office, Parks And Recreation, and King of the Hill.

Now he’s reflecting on these notions again in Upload, a futuristic comedy on Amazon Prime — but this time they play out in the afterlife too. He’s also behind the upcoming Netflix satire Space Force, launching May 29, starring Steve Carell.

Greg Daniels’ humor has all the makings of the British comedies he reveres, including Fawlty Towers and the original, British version of The Office.

“There’s something wonderful about the awkwardness of it and their kind of enjoyment of a pathetic situation that always appealed to me,” Daniels says.

…The problems in Daniels’ upcoming Netflix show Space Force include a military leader who doesn’t listen to the scientists around him. His new sci-fi comedy Upload explores the inequalities — and inhumanity — that emerges as advanced, expensive, digital technologies hit the market.

“These technologies are introduced and they all seem great. And then, you know, the law of unintended consequences kicks in and they are kind of flawed or sometimes outright evil when they’re actually executed,” Daniels says.

In Upload, only the wealthy get to experience an idyllic afterlife in the expensive, leafy resort called “Lakeview.” Even the commercial for Lakeview feels eerily familiar.

(11) LIGHT OF OTHER DAYS. Disney Parks posted a video flashback to Halloween 2019: “Jack Skellington reigns at Disney’s Not-So-Spooky Spectacular!”

Because we are halfway to Halloween, we are traveling back in time to last fall when Magic Kingdom Park was in the skeletal hands of the Pumpkin King. Join him in front of Cinderella Castle for a frightfully mischievous night of fireworks and creeps during Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party.

(12) HER REAL CHILDREN. NPR’s Lulu Garcia-Navarro interviews author Curtis Sittenfield: “Hillary Without Bill? ‘Rodham’ Imagines What Could Have Been”.

A young Hillary Rodham, madly in love with the man she met at Yale Law School, abandons her own path and heads to Arkansas. Slowly she starts to uncover Bill Clinton’s many infidelities and makes a choice.

What would have happened if Hillary Rodham had never married Bill Clinton?

“So in real life, Bill Clinton proposed to Hillary Rodham twice and she said no. Both times. And then he proposed a third time and she said yes,” says author Curtis Sittenfeld. “And in my version, she says no. The third time, too. And she goes her own way.” Sittenfeld’s new book Rodham follows Hillary as she goes on to become a law professor, and then a politician.

Interview Highlights

On wanting to write speculative fiction about someone who’s been written about so much already

Well, doesn’t everyone? Isn’t it a totally natural impulse? So actually, it’s funny because I agree with you that so much has been written about Hillary. And it was sort of in reaction to that that I think I wrote this book. So in the lead-up to the 2016 election, I was invited to write essays about Hillary, and I would decline because I felt like every possible thing there was to say about Hillary had been said. She had been analyzed from every angle.

And then an editor at Esquire magazine invited me to write a short story from Hillary’s perspective. And I accepted, and writing that story was this kind of strange exercise where I realized that the question was not, what do the American people think of Hillary Clinton, but what does Hillary Clinton think of the American people? And it turned out that that I had 400 pages worth of thoughts to say on that. So it was actually trying to sort of flip the narrative, and instead of making her the one who’s scrutinized, like giving her a voice — which, of course, is a totally fictionalized voice, like she did not write this book. I wrote this book.

(13) HE’S A CRITIC. [Item by Daniel Dern.] And I’ll say it in case nobody else will (although I’m sure they will), “This robot really sucks.” “An R2-D2 Robot Vacuum Is Exactly the Chore Droid I’m Looking For”. Be sure to watch the video!

(14) THEY’RE CRITICS TOO. “Coronavirus: Author Neil Gaiman’s 11,000-mile lockdown trip to Scottish isle” – BBC says a local politician is outraged.

The SNP’s Westminster leader Ian Blackford, who is the MP for the island, told the Sunday Times the author’s journey was unacceptable.

He said: “What is it about people, when they know we are in the middle of lockdown that they think they can come here from the other side of the planet, in turn endangering local people from exposure to this infection that they could have picked up at any step of the way?”

Mr Gaiman – whose main family home is in Woodstock in the USA – has owned the house on Skye for more than 10 years.

(15) THE MASTER SPACE. The Iron Sky “Dictator’s Cut” is online.

(16) BACK TO THE FUTURE REUNION. Josh Gad’s stay-at-home show Reunited Apart summons Christopher Lloyd, Michael J. Fox, Lea Thompson and even Huey Lewis to reminisce about the 1985 movie.

Great Scott! Things get heavy during Episode Two of “Reunited Apart” as Josh is joined by the creative geniuses behind the Back to the Future trilogy.

(17) VIDEO OF THE DAY. Something sure to please that little bit of pyromania in everyone.

Match Chain Reaction – Space Rocket built with Matches TAKES OFF 1 Million matches is a lot of matches, which means lighting them all together is a lot of fire. The way it burns is crazy to watch. It took me a lot of hard work and time to make this rocket.

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

Pixel Scroll 1/31/20 The Cat That Scrolled Through Pixels

(1) NEW FAN FUND. Marcin Klak writes about efforts to bring the European Fan Fund to life in “European Fan Fund – update”.

…Right now the fund has €367.00 and £84.00. It is both a lot and not so much. It will be enough for the airfare for sure, but may not be enough for accommodation on top of the plane tickets. We also need to gather the money for the years to come. Still, this amount means that we can do it and EFF may start – maybe this year, maybe next, but we should manage to have it working and for that I am really grateful to all the fans who helped.

Future plans

The first thing ahead of us is to ensure we will have proper funds to start the race. If this happens, we will hold a race and choose a candidate that will travel to Eurocon. If this is possible to happen this year, we will have the first EFF delegate at Futuricon in Rijeka (Croatia). This would be really awesome. Then we need to remember that just a few months after Futuricon there will be a Eurocon in Fiugii (Italy). Having two trips within half a year would be challenging but maybe not impossible….

(2) RING IN THE NEW YEAR. On The Blerdgurl Podcast, “N. K. Jemisin and Jamal Campbell describe the world of a powerful new Green Lantern”.

Happy Holidays everyone! Today’s episode features the award-winning writer N.K. Jemisin and the incredible artist Jamal Campbell who I spoke to recently about their new comic book Far Sector on the DC Young Animal Imprint. The comic introduces us to a brand new member of the Green Lantern Corp. Sojourner “Jo” Mullein. The first black woman to wield a Power Ring.

(3) HARLAN WOULD BE SO PROUD. Yahoo! Movies has “The most disturbing talking animals in film – ranked!” BEWARE SPOILERS!

9. Blood – A Boy and His Dog (1975)

If you have children and A Boy and His Dog appear on any streaming services, don’t watch it. At first glance, it looks like the sort of earnestly dumb Disney movie that Kurt Russell would have made in the 70s, but it is not that at all. A Boy and His Dog takes place in the aftermath of nuclear war, as a young man scavenges for food with a dog of contemptible character. Voiced by Tim McIntire, Blood’s one job is to find post-apocalyptic women for Don Johnson to have sex with in return for food. They eat a woman at the end. Like I said, not for kids.

After reading that description you might ask, “How in hell is that movie not Number One on the list?” But after you read what Yahoo! has in first place, your question will be answered —

1. Jennyanydots – Cats (2019)

You will have noticed by now that the top 5 of this Ranked! are all cats. That’s because I saw Cats at the cinema and I now hate cats. Picking a weirdest cat from the Cats lineup is almost impossible (the railway cat? The cat with boobs? Jason Derulo’s Towie cat? The suicidal cat?) and yet Rebel Wilson’s Jennyanydots makes the choice a little easier. Because Jennanydots is the masturbating cat who unzips her own skin and eats mice that for some reason have the voice of screaming children. I hate cats now.

(4) BOOKS IS EVERYWHERE. [Item by Daniel Dern.] While reserving more Bujold (see my Arisia 2020 report), I noticed this unexpected field in the library network’s REFINE BY choices. (See pic.)

Interestingly, it seems to only appear except when I’ve done some choices of criteria. I’m still experimenting, and haven’t yet gone to chat with the library.

Stay tuned!

(5) AMAZING! So Steve Davidson really answers Amazing Stories’ spam? A 10-point declaration: “Not That It Will Do Any Good, But….”

To all content mills, web-marketing firms, SEO factories and anyone else who thinks that having an article with your “do follow” links in them published on the Amazing Stories website will help your/your client’s business, or that our website is in desperate need of your technical know-how designed to increase our traffic or raise our internet profile:

1.  WE. ARE. NOT. INTERESTED.  That’s blanket and across the board.

…BONUS:  This post was written so I can reduce my correspondence with the SEO mills by simply sending them a link.

(6) ASIMOV CENTENNIAL. Yosef Lindell skeptically inspects “Isaac Asimov’s Throwback Vision of the Future” for The Atlantic.

When Isaac Asimov’s Foundation trilogy won the Hugo Award for best all-time science-fiction series, in 1966, no one was more surprised than the author. The books contained “no action,” Asimov complained years later, adding, “I kept waiting for something to happen, and nothing ever did.” As a young reader, I devoured the Foundation books, the short-story collection I, Robot, and other works by Asimov. Though these tales entranced me with their bold strokes of imagination, when I revisit them as an adult, their flaws stand out more than their virtues. It’s not so much that nothing happens, but that the reader doesn’t get to see anything happen. Asimov’s stories are dialogue-driven; the action happens off-stage while men (and, less frequently, women) huddle to debate the significance of what occurred or what ought to be done in the best Socratic fashion.

Asimov was aware of these quirks. “I don’t see things when I write,” he once apologized. “I hear, and for the most part, what my characters talk about are ideas.” Still, his stories often evoke the smoke-filled corporate boardrooms of the past century more than a progressive tomorrow. And his writing is striking for its optimism, betraying a faith in technology and humanity that seems especially naive and out of place today. When considering Asimov’s tales now, I’m reminded of what another famous science-fiction author, Neil Gaiman, once cautioned about rereading older works in the genre: “Nothing dates harder and faster and more strangely than the future.” (It doesn’t help Asimov’s case that he was known for groping women, an aspect of the author’s legacy that Alec Nevala-Lee wrote about in depth for Public Books earlier this month.)

(7) MYSTERIOUS NEW LOCATION. “Independent bookstore Mysterious Galaxy opening in Point Loma”sdnews.com has the story.

Despite changing locales and ownership, patrons of iconic independent bookstore Mysterious Galaxy can expect the same incomparable service and variety.

Patrons-turned-booksellers, couple Matthew Berger and Jennifer Marchisotto were regular patrons of Mysterious for six years after moving to San Diego. Of the timing of their acquiring the 27-year-old bookstore specializing in science fiction, fantasy, mystery, young adult, romance, Berger said, “That’s something I always wanted to do.” 

Though they didn’t expect to be in retail so soon, Berger noted, “When that opportunity arises, how can you say no?,” while describing Mysterious as our “favorite bookstore in the world. I’ve been familiar with Mysterious Galaxy since I was a kid when I used to go with my dad to book signings,” said Berger who, along with Marchisotto and newborn child, acquired the store Jan. 3 moving it after its lease in Clairemont had expired, into its new 5,650-square-foot space at 3555 Rosecrans St., Suite 107, in Point Loma. 

(8) TODAY IN HISTORY.

  • January 31, 1936The Green Hornet made its radio debut.
  • January 31, 1986 Eliminators premiered. It was directed by Peter Manoogian who did such horror films as Demonic Toys, and was involved in Metalstorm: The Destruction of Jared-Sy.  It had a cast of Andrew Prine, Denise Crosby and Patrick Reynolds. It bombed upon its release, and the Rotten Tomatoes of 35% reflects that. It is unfortunately not available fir viewing online.
  • January 31, 1993 Space Rangers aired its final episode. Only six episodes were made of this series which starred Jeff Kaake, Jack McGee, Marjorie Monaghan, Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa, Danny Quinn,  Clint Howard,  Linda Hunt and  Gottfried John. It was created by Pen Denshem who wrote and produced such series such as The Outer Limits and Poltergeist. (Well of Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves as well.) There’s no rating at Rotten Tomatoes but all the critics hated it with a passion calling it cliched, predictable and lame. There’s not much on the series on the net but Starlog did a very nice piece you can read here.
  • January 31, 1997 Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope: The Special Edition premiered. A New Hope was re-released along with The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi, under the campaign title The Star Wars Trilogy: Special Edition.  It has a number of minor changes from the the original print, an enhanced Mos Eisley spaceport For one, and major ones such as Greedo shooting first and the CGI Jabba the Hut. The changes made many fans unhappy inspiring such things as the t-shirt’s that said “Han shot first.” Currently it holds a stellar 93% rating among reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes. You can see the trailer here.

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born January 31, 1921 John Agar. Between the early Fifties and the Sixties, he appeared in many SFF films such as The Rocket Man, Revenge of the Creature, Tarantula, The Mole People, Attack of the Puppet People, Invisible Invaders, Destination Space, Journey to the Seventh Planet, Curse of the Swamp Creature, Zontar: The Thing from Venus,  Women of the Prehistoric Planet and E.T.N.: The Extraterrestrial Nastie. (Died 2002.)
  • Born January 31, 1922 William Sylvester. He’s remembered as Dr. Heywood Floyd in Kubrick’s 2001 A Space Odyssey. Genre, he later shows up in The Hand of Night (horror), Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark (dark fantasy) and Heaven Can Wait (fantasy) but none gain him the fame of 2001. (Died 1995.)
  • Born January 31, 1937 Philip Glass, 83. 1000 Airplanes on the Roof: A Science Fiction Music-DramaEinstein on the BeachThe Making of the Representative for Planet 8 (with a libretto by Doris Lessing based on her novel of the same name), The marriages between zones three, four, and five (1997, libretto by Doris Lessing, after her second novel from Canopus in Argos), The Witches of Venice and The Juniper Tree would be a fragmentary listing of his works that have a SFF underpinning.   
  • Born January 31, 1941 Jonathan Banks, 79. First genre role was as Deputy Brent in Gremlins, a film I adore. In the same year, he’s a Lizardo Hospital Guard in another film I adore, The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension. Ahhh, a good year indeed. Next I see him playing Michelette in Freejack, another better that merely good sf film. The last thing I see him doing film wise is voicing Rick Dicker in the fairly recent Incredibles 2. Series wise and these are just my highlights, I’ve got him on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine as Shel-la in the “Battle Lines” episode, in Highlander: The Series as Mako in the “Under Colour of Authority” episode and as Kommander Nuveen Kroll in short lived Otherworld series. SeaQuest 2032 also had him for two episodes as Maximillian Scully. 
  • Born January 31, 1960 Grant Morrison, 60. If you can find it, his early stuff on such U.K. publishers as Galaxy Media and Harrier Comics is worth searching out. Not your hero in tights materials at all. For his work in that venue, I’d recommend his run on The Resurrection of Ra’s al Ghul, all of his Doom Patrol work (and the DC Universe series that started this past fall is based on his work and is quite spectacular), Seven Soldiers and his very weird The Multiversity
  • Born January 31, 1968 Matt King, 52. He’s Peter Streete in the most excellent Tenth Doctor story, “The Shakespeare Code”. His other genre performances are Freeman in the superb Jekyll, Cockerell in Inkheart based off Caroline Funke’s novel of that name, the ghost Henry Mallet in Spirited andClyde in the recent maligned Doolittle.
  • Born January 31, 1970 Minnie Driver, 50. She’s Irina in the seventeenth Bond film GoldenEye. Later on she’s voices Lady Eboshi in the English language version of Princess Mononoke, does the same for Jane Porter in Tarzan, and is Mandy in Ella Enchanted.  She was Lara Croft in the animated Revisioned: Tomb Raider series was distributed through the online video game service GameTap. 
  • Born January 31, 1973 Portia de Rossi, 47. She first shows up as Giddy in Sirens which would be stretching things to even include as genre adjacent but is definitely worth watching. For SFF roles, she was in Catholic Church tinged horror film Stigmata, music Zombie comedy Dead & Breakfast and werewolf horror Cursed. She was Lily Munster in the deli weird Mockingbird Lane pilot that never went to series. 

(10) IS THE BOOK BETTER THAN THE MOVIE? Either way, Gallup’s survey shows “In U.S., Library Visits Outpaced Trips to Movies in 2019”.

Visiting the library remains the most common cultural activity Americans engage in, by far. The average 10.5 trips to the library U.S. adults report taking in 2019 exceeds their participation in eight other common leisure activities. Americans attend live music or theatrical events and visit national or historic parks roughly four times a year on average and visit museums and gambling casinos 2.5 times annually. Trips to amusement or theme parks (1.5) and zoos (.9) are the least common activities among this list.

(11) ACTOR IN THE FAMILY. William Ketter, son of well-known book dealer Greg Ketter, will perform in an off-Broadway production of Animal Farm in February.

The animals on a farm drive out their master and take over and run the farm for themselves. The experiment is successful, except that someone has to take the deposed farmer’s place. Leadership devolves upon the pigs, which are cleverer than the rest of the animals. Unfortunately, their character is not equal to their intelligence. This dramatization remains faithful to the book’s plot and intent and retains both its affection for the animals and the incisiveness of its message.

(12) JOCULARITY. McSweeney’s Carlos Greaves declares “As a 28-Year-Old Latino, I’m Shocked My New Novel, Memoirs of a Middle-Aged White Lady, Has Been So Poorly Received”.

…When I set out to write this novel, which takes place in Iowa and centers around 46-year-old Meradyth Spensir and her 8-year-old son Chab, my goal was to shed light on the struggles that white middle-aged women in America face — struggles that I, a 28-year-old Latino man, don’t know much about but I would imagine are pretty tough. And as far as I’m concerned, I freaking nailed it….

(13) WHEN MOVIES WERE SMOKIN’. From “Who’s There?” by Dan Chiasson, in the April 23, 2018 New Yorker, in a piece on the 50th anniversary of 2001:

Hippies may have saved 2001. ‘Stoned audiences’ flocked to the movie.  David Bowie took a few drops of cannabis tincture before watching, and countless others dropped acid.  According to one report, a young man at a showing in Los Angeles plunged through the movie screen. shouting, ‘It’s God! It’s God!’  John Lennon said he saw the film ‘every week.’  2001 initially opened in limited release, shown only in 70mm on curved Cinerama screens,  M-G-M thought it had on its hands a second DOCTOR ZHIVAGO (1965) or BEN-HUR (1959),or perhaps another Spartacus (1960), the splashy studio hit that Kubrick, low on funds, had directed about a decade before.  But instead the theatres were filling up with fans of cult films like Roger Corman’s The Trip, or Psych-Out, the early Jack Nicholson flick with music by the Strawberry Alarm Clock.  These movies, though cheesy, found a new use for editing and special effects:  to mimic psychedelic visions.  The iconic Star Gate sequence in 2001, when Dave Bowman, the film’s protagonist, hurtles in his space pod through a corridor of swimming kaleidoscopic colors, could even be times, with sufficient practice, to crest with the viewer’s own hallucinations.  The studio soon caught on, and a new tagline was added to the movie’s redesigned posters:  ‘The ultimate trip’….

…For the final section of the film, ‘Jupiter and Beyond The Infinite, (Frederick) Ordway, the film’s scientific consultant, read up on a doctoral thesis on psychedelics advised by Timothy Leary.  Theology students had taken psilocybin, then attended a service at Boston University’s Marsh Chapel to see if they’d be hit with religious revelations.  They dutifully reported their findings: most of the participants had indeed touched God.  Such wide-ranging research was characteristic of Clarke and Kubrick’s approach, although the two men, both self-professed squares, might have saved time had they been willing to try hallucinogens themselves.

(14) LIFE SIZE? At $350, “The Child” is a heckuva lot better than a garden gnome. Of course, you may never see another frog in your backyard.

Sideshow presents The Child Life-Size Figure, created in partnership with Legacy Effects to bring you the galaxy’s most sought-after bounty. 

Lovingly referred to by audiences as ‘Baby Yoda’, the mysterious alien known as The Child has quickly become the breakout fan-favorite of Star Wars™: The Mandalorian on Disney+. Now eager collectors can become a clan of two and bring home the asset as an incredible 1:1 scale Star Wars collectible, no tracking fob needed.

The Child Life-Size Figure measures 16.5” tall, standing on a simple ship deck base that lets this adorable alien steal all of the focus- along with the Mandalorian’s ship parts. Inspired by its unique onscreen appearance, this mixed media statue features a tan fabric coat swaddling The Child as it gazes up with charming wide eyes, hiding the silver shift knob from the Razor Crest™ in its right hand. 

(15) DYSTROPES. Dwight Garner reviews Gish Jen’s The Resisters for the New York Times: “In a New Dystopian Novel, the Country is AutoAmerica, but Baseball Is Still Its Pastime”.

The best thing about being God, Iris Murdoch wrote, would be making the heads. The best thing about writing speculative or dystopian fiction, surely, is updating human language, pushing strange new words into a reader’s mind.

Gish Jen’s densely imagined if static new novel, “The Resisters,” is set in a future surveillance state known as AutoAmerica. The ice caps have melted, and much of the land is underwater. A racial and class divide has cleaved the population.

The “Netted” have jobs, plush amenities and well-zoned houses on dry land. The “Surplus,” most of whom live on houseboats in “Flotsam Towns,” have scratchy blankets, thought control and degradation. Members of this underclass have not begun to grow gills, like the buff men and women in Kevin Costner’s “Waterworld,” but that may not be far off.

(16) CITIZEN SCIENCE. “A New Form Of Northern Lights Discovered In Finland – By Amateur Sky Watchers” — includes video.

People in northern climes have long gazed at the wonder that is the aurora borealis: the northern lights.

Those celestial streaks of light and color are often seen on clear nights in Finland, where they’re so admired that a Finnish-language Facebook group dedicated to finding and photographing them has more than 11,000 members.

There aurora aficionados gather to discuss subjects like space weather forecasts and the best equipment to capture the northern lights.

Among its members is Minna Palmroth. She’s a physicist and professor at the University of Helsinki, where she leads a research group that studies the space weather that causes auroral emissions.

When members of the group posted photos of the auroras they’d seen and wanting to learn more, Palmroth would often reply with the aurora’s type and the scientific explanation for its form. The discussions led Palmroth and two collaborators to publish a field guide to the northern lights.

But even after the book came out, some questions remained unanswered. A few of the citizens’ photos showed a form of aurora that didn’t fit into any of the known categories. It had green, horizontal waves running in parallel. Its undulations reminding some observers of sand formations, and it was christened “the dunes.”

(17) ROLLING OUT THE DOUGH. Delish brings word that “Pillsbury Is Selling The Cutest Ready-To-Bake R2-D2 Sugar Cookies”.

And while you may look at the adorable packaging and think you’re getting cookies with different Star Wars characters on each of them, this is really just for R2-D2 die-hards as that’s the only design included. That said, @Pillsbury, I’m fully expecting a roll-out of BB-8 cookies now, as R2-D2 is fantastic and all, but my heart belongs to that tiny round bb always. Actually, I’d take some C-3PO-topped desserts, too. Can we just get all of them ASAP, please? TYSM!

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

Pixel Scroll 12/25/17 When All Of A Sudden There Arose Such a Pixel

(1) STAR EXPLAINER. The New York Times profiles sf fan favorite Brother Guy Consolmagno in “Searching for the (Star) Light at the Vatican Observatory”.

Some 2,000 years ago, a celestial phenomenon is believed to have lit up the sky. Guiding the wise men of New Testament lore to the birthplace of Jesus, the star of Bethlehem has since become a planetarium and Christmas carol favorite.

What that star might have been — a comet, supernova, or the conjunction of planets, let alone whether it ever existed — is one of the recurring questions that Brother Guy Consolmagno is called on to answer even though, he noted dryly, “it has nothing to do with our work as scientists at the Vatican Observatory.”

“Too often people get distracted by the Star and forget to look at the Child! And yet I also have to admit I feel a certain joy in the story, and a joy that this story has been so popular for so many people over the centuries,” said Brother Consolmagno, since 2015, the director of La Specola Vaticana (which translates as Vatican Observatory). “Of course, we have no idea what Matthew was writing about. It doesn’t matter!”

The observatory is the only Vatican institution that does scientific research, and Brother Consolmagno, a former physics professor and later-in-life Jesuit, is the public face of an institution whose work “is to show the world that the church supports science.”

(2) UP ABOVE THE WORLD SO HIGH. And here’s what you can look forward to if you keep watching the skies – “Astronomy Calendar For 2018”

(3) TRACKING SANTA. It wasn’t an unlisted number after this happened: “NORAD’s Santa Tracker Began With A Typo And A Good Sport”.

This Christmas Eve people all over the world will log on to the official Santa Tracker to follow his progress through U.S. military radar. This all started in 1955, with a misprint in a Colorado Springs newspaper and a call to Col. Harry Shoup’s secret hotline at the Continental Air Defense Command, now known as NORAD.

Shoup’s children, Terri Van Keuren, 65, Rick Shoup, 59, and Pam Farrell, 70, recently visited StoryCorps to talk about how the tradition began.

Terri remembers her dad had two phones on his desk, including a red one. “Only a four-star general at the Pentagon and my dad had the number,” she says.

“This was the ’50s, this was the Cold War, and he would have been the first one to know if there was an attack on the United States,” Rick says.

The red phone rang one day in December 1955, and Shoup answered it, Pam says. “And then there was a small voice that just asked, ‘Is this Santa Claus?’ ”

His children remember Shoup as straight-laced and disciplined, and he was annoyed and upset by the call and thought it was a joke — but then, Terri says, the little voice started crying.

“And Dad realized that it wasn’t a joke,” her sister says. “So he talked to him, ho-ho-ho’d and asked if he had been a good boy and, ‘May I talk to your mother?’ And the mother got on and said, ‘You haven’t seen the paper yet? There’s a phone number to call Santa. It’s in the Sears ad.’ Dad looked it up, and there it was, his red phone number. And they had children calling one after another, so he put a couple of airmen on the phones to act like Santa Claus.”

(4) DIAGNOSIS GRINCH. The Washington Post’s Susan Svrluga, in “The Grinch needs a good cardiologist, and other holiday stories explained by scientists”, interviews area scientists who answer scientific questions posed by fictional works, such as why Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer’s nose glows.  (It could be because Santa’s sleigh crash-landed into the Red Sea and Rudolph got doused in glowing coral.)  Among the scientists interviewed was Johns Hopkins medical school cardiologist Dr. David Kass, who argues the reason why the Grinch’s heart grows three sizes in a day after he pigs out on Whoville food is that the Grinch is a snake and snake’s hearts expand after big meals.

(5) THE PERMANENT CAMPAIGN. Charles Stross, jockeying to keep his series eligible for a future year where he thinks there will be more UK voters to back him, asks —

Please do not nominate the Laundry Files for the best series Hugo award in 2018.

(Explanation below the cut.)

The rules for the best series Hugo award stipulate:

Previous losing finalists in the Best Series category shall beeligible only upon the publication of at least two (2) additional installments consisting in total of at least 240,000 words after they qualified for their last appearance on the final ballot and by the close of the previous calendar year.

This means that if series X is shortlisted in 2018 and loses, it won’t be eligible again until two more installments amounting to 240,000 words have been published in a subsequent year.

There is a significantly better chance of either series winning the award at a British—or Irish—worldcon, such as the one in Dublin in 2019, simply because the worldcon attendees will include more of my UK readers. However, a nomination in 2018 would probably lose (there are plenty of very good series works by American authors: consider Max Gladstone or Seanan McGuire, for example) and thereby disqualify me from eligibility in 2019.

(6) NOT TOO LATE. If you didn’t already get the gift you wanted this holiday season, maybe you can fill the void with the “Star Wars R2-D2 Coffee Press”. Or not – I keep visualizing giving R2 a sinus headache every time…

(7) OBITUARY.  Heather Menzies-Urich (1949-2017), best known for portraying Louisa von Trapp in the 1965 film The Sound of Music, died December 24 at the age of 68. Her main genre credit was starring as Jessica 6 in the TV series Logan’s Run (1977-78). She had an uncredited role in The Computer Wore Tennis Shoes (1969); other genre appearances include Sssssss (1973), The Six Million Dollar Man (one episode, 1977), Piranha (1978), Captain America (1979), Endangered Species (1982).

(8) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • December 25, 1980 Altered States first premiered in theatres.
  • December 25, 1999 Galaxy Quest opened.

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOY

  • December 25, 1924 – Rod Serling

(10) COMICS SECTION.

(11) NAUGHTY. The Guardian’s research shows Home Alone atop the pyramid — “Data sketch: the most pirated Christmas movies”. It’s A Wonderful Life is listed, too – I thought it was in public domain now?

(12) CHIANG OP-ED REBUTTED. Tech Crunch’s Jon Evans mounts a defense: “Ted Chiang is a genius, but he’s wrong about Silicon Valley”.

Ted Chiang isn’t just one of the greatest science-fiction writers alive — he’s one of the greatest writers alive full stop. Which is why I was so saddened and disappointed by his recent excoriation of Silicon Valley in BuzzFeed. As the tech industry grows ever more powerful, we need brilliant minds critiquing and dissecting its many flaws. Instead we got a trenchant takedown of a Valley that only exists in the minds of especially shallow journalists.

To be clear, his larger point is dead on: that being that the worry about an AI which maximizes for the wrong thing, most famously one which is told to make paperclips and responds by turning the entire planet into paperclips, is a worry which applies perfectly and exactly to capitalism itself.

…But the thing Chiang doesn’t get is: Silicon Valley is actually not a home of paperclip capitalism. That’s Wall Street. That’s Confessions of an Economic Hit Man-style neoliberal globalization. That’s not the tech industry. The Valley is a flawed and sometimes terrible place, true, but it’s a nuanced sometimes flawed and terrible place.

(13) WATER IS COMING. I don’t know if it would melt the Wall, but it wouldn’t do any good to the rest of the world — “This is what global warming would do to the ‘Game of Thrones’ planet”.

The warring inhabitants of Westeros — one of the four known continents in the Game of Thrones world — dread the planet’s long, unforgiving winters. But a global warming event there, stoked by an influx of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, would likely be even more dire.

Earlier this week, University of Bristol climate scientist Dan Lunt published a study that modeled the doubling of carbon dioxide on the Game of Thrones fantasy world. His results show that if these levels doubled over the course of a century, the average temperature on the planet would warm by over 2 degrees Celsius, or about 3.5 Fahrenheit. This climatic shift would make some areas nearly uninhabitable and unleash devastating natural disasters.

(14) A TOM LEHRER HOLIDAY. Mr. Sci-Fi renders the Science Fiction Christmas Song (recorded in 2014.)

Sci-Fi Ubergeek Marc Zicree sings Tom Lehrer’s Christmas song as great science fiction Christmas images from 1950s Galaxy Magazine and other sources flash by. Marc just recorded this song for Coast to Coast AM’s Christmas Album, with proceeds going to charity.

 

(15) THE DARTH VADER YULE LOG. A seasonal tradition (since 2015).

Gather the younglings for a centuries old family tradition the Darth Vader Yule Log. Sith Lords will be roasting on an open fire, as you sit back an enjoy some holiday classics.

 

[Thanks to Carl Slaughter, JJ, Andrew Porter, Martin Morse Wooster, Cat Eldridge, Chip Hitchcock, Daniel Dern, and Steve Green for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day OGH.]

Swarovski Crystal Star Wars Figures

John King Tarpinian snapped this photo of Swarovski’s window display at his local mall.

Just won the lottery and need the right holiday gift for the Star Wars fan in your life? That’s the price level we’re talking about, for the big guy, anyway…


Star Wars – Darth Vader, Limited Edition 2017

$ 10,250.00

Limited to 300 pieces worldwide, this unique masterpiece is only crafted on demand and comes with a certificate of authenticity. An exclusive design showing Darth Vader, one of the most popular and iconic characters from the Star Wars movie series, with over 29’000 hand-set crystals. Authentic and detailed, this stunning Limited Edition showcases Swarovski’s expertise in the Pointiage® technique, and each piece takes over 120 hours to complete. Each one is engraved with its own edition number on the granite base, and delivered in a premium blue suitcase. The shipping procedure includes insurance and a delivery notice. Find out more about this procedure under Online Shop Assistant – Order Process. Decoration object. Not a toy. Not suitable for children under 15.

  • Size: 10 3/4 x 5 1/2 x 3 7/8 inches

Star Wars – R2-D2

$ 239.00

Fans of Star Wars: The Force Awakens can find a home for iconic droid R2-D2. The lovable character has been expertly crafted in crystal and features 446 luminous facets and detailed prints. Sure to amuse and impress, it’s a must-have for any aficionado. Decoration object. Not a toy. Not suitable for children under 15.

  • Size: 2 5/8 x 1 3/4 x 1 5/8 inches

Star Wars – C-3PO

$ 325.00

From a galaxy far, far away to your own home, with this stunning depiction of C-3PO. Exquisitely crafted in golden and red crystal, it boasts black detailing and a white crystal base. In all, the ever-helpful droid, which featured in Star Wars: The Force Awakens, features 537 sparkling facets. The perfect present for those who follow the Star Wars franchise. Decoration object. Not a toy. Not suitable for children under 15.

  • Size: 4 3/8 x 2 1/8 x 1 7/8 inches

Star Wars – BB-8

$ 129.00

Bring the excitement of Star Wars into your home with this exquisite depiction of BB-8. Instantly recognizable from his turn in 2015’s Star Wars: The Force Awakens, everyone’s new favorite droid has been expertly crafted in crystal with 226 sparkling facets and detailed prints. A must for any Star Wars fan. Decoration object. Not a toy. Not suitable for children under 15.

  • Size: 1 7/8 x 1 1/4 x 1 1/4 inches

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian for the story.]

Pixel Scroll 3/4/16 Mellon Scrollie and the Infinite Sadness

(1) ABCD16 AWARDS. Ben Summers’ cover design for Lavie Tidhar’s novel A Man Lies Dreaming has won an Academy of British Cover Design Award in the Sci-Fi/Fantasy category.

a-man-lies-dreaming

The complete shortlist with images of all the covers is at ABCD16 Shortlist and Winners. There are more sf/fantasy books among the finalists in other marketing categories.

(2) MAC II LEADERSHIP REORGANIZES. The 2016 Worldcon decided its communications will be better with a single voice at the top and replaced its three-co-chair structure (“Team LOL”) with a single chairperson, Ruth Lichtwardt.

Diane Lacey, another of the co-chairs, will become a Vice-Chair, and the third, Jeff Orth, is said to be deciding among several options for continuing his work on the con. The decision was shared with the division heads at a meeting last weekend.

(3) AMAZING CELE. Mike Ashley chronicles the reign of Amazing editor Cele Goldsmith in “The AMAZING Story: The Sixties – The Goose-Flesh Factor”. Pulpfest is serializing Ashley’s history of the magazine, first published in its pages in 1992.

[Cele] Goldsmith chose all the material, edited everything, selected the title and blurb typefaces and dummied the monthly magazines by herself. [Norman] Lobsenz, who arrived for an editorial conference usually once a week, penned the editorials, read her choices, and wrote the blurbs for the stories. They did cover blurbs together, and Goldsmith assigned both interior and cover art.

Goldsmith had no scientific background but had a sound judgment of story content and development, and this was the key to her success. She accepted stories on their value as fiction rather than as science fiction. “When I read something I didn’t understand, but intuitively knew was good,” she said, “I’d get ‘goose flesh’ and never doubt we had a winner.” That “goose flesh” was transmitted to the readers. I know when I encountered the Goldsmith AMAZING and FANTASTIC in the early 1960s, I got goose flesh because of the power and originality of their content. As I look now at the 150 or more total issues of those two magazines that Cele Goldsmith edited, that thrill is still there.

Other installments already online are:

(4) JAR JAR JERSEYS. The Altoona Curve minor league baseball team will host another Star Wars night – if the team isn’t too embarrassed to take the field….

Last year, the team wore these beautiful Jabba the Hutt jerseys. For our Star Wars Night, we’re following that up with a jersey featuring another controversial Star Wars character, Jar Jar Binks. Like last season, we will have appearances by the Garrison Cardida of the 501st Legion.

 

Meanwhile, the Birmingham Barons have enlisted fans to pick the Star Wars-themed jersey their players will wear during a game this season.

(5) GREAT POWERS. An interview with Tim Powers conducted by Nick Givers has been posted at PS Publishing.

NICK GEVERS: In your new novel, Medusa’s Web, you set out a very interesting and mesmerizingly complex metaphysical scheme, of spider images that draw human minds up and down the corridors of time. What first suggested this scenario to you?

TIM POWERS: I thought it would be fun to play around with two-dimensional adversaries after reading Cordwainer Smith’s short story, “The Game of Rat and Dragon.” I decided that since such creatures would be dimensionally handicapped by definition, why not have them be fourth-dimensionally handicapped too? I.e. they don’t perceive time, and therefore every encounter these creatures have with humans is, from the creature’s point of view, the same event. So by riding along on the point of view of one of them, you can briefly inhabit whatever other encounters it’s had with humans, regardless of when those encounters happened or will happen.

This seemed like an opportunity for lots of dramatic developments, and even one very intriguing paradox for our protagonist to blunder through.

(6) A MOVIE RECOMMENDATION. Zootopia is getting a lot of buzz, and Max Florschutz agrees it’s a winner in a review at Unusual Things.

First, a quick summary for those of you who just want the yay or nay: Zootopia is an excellent, wonderful film with a lot of heart, a lot of adventure, and a wonderful moral at its core that wraps up everything in a fantastic way. Put it on your list.

Now, the longer explanation….

(7) TIM BURTON PROJECT. Entertainment Weekly has a report on “Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children (film)”, due in theaters September 30.

In Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, the latest fantasy from director Tim Burton, Asa Butterfield plays Jake, a 16-year-old plagued by nightmares following a family tragedy.

On the advice of his therapist, the teen embarks on an overseas journey to find the abandoned orphanage where his late grandfather claims to have once lived. Not only does the place turn out to be real, it also serves as the gateway to an alternate realm where children with strange powers are looked after by a magical guardian (Penny Dreadful star Eva Green) and time moves of its own accord.

 

(8) POLITICAL SCIENCE FICTION. At the B&N Sci-Fi & Fantasy Blog, Andrew Liptak names “6 Political SF Novels as Bingeable as House of Cards”. One of them is –

Jennifer Government, by Max Barry

Max Barry’s second novel is a fantastic satire of globalized trade and the deregulation of industry. In this alternate future, the United States has taken over much of north and south America, with government and its services privatized. Citizens take on the names of their employers, and the titular Jennifer Government is an agent tasked with tracking down the perpetrators of a series of murders . The crime turns out to be an attempt by Nike to drum up notoriety for a new line of shoes, but the plot quickly escalated beyond what anyone planned. It’s a ridiculous, often funny book that shows off a very different, but scarily plausible, hyper-commercial world.

(9) ONCE MORE INTO THE SPEECH. MD Jackson touts favorite examples of “The Rousing Speech” at Amazing Stories.

There’s always a rousing speech.

When the odds are against you, when the forces of darkness, or the alien invaders, or the giant lizards have gathered and your pitifully small band of heroes stand against them, the single vanguard against annihilation, what does your leader do?

Well, if he’s any kind of leader he starts talking.

Motivational speeches keep your team together and focused. Rousing speeches keep your smallish army from losing soldiers due to desertion rather than the upcoming decimation. And it’s got to be a doozy of a speech in order to make otherwise sensible men and women stand with you against almost certain death….

One of my favorite rousing speeches comes from an episode of Star Trek. In Return to Tomorrow, a second season episode from 1968, William Shatner throws all the weight of his dramatic acting into a rousing speech: The infamous “Risk is our business…” speech. It doesn’t come before a battle, but before three of the crew, including Kirk, decide to have ancient powerful aliens take over their bodies. Despite the context and the odd placement of the speech which doesn’t really further the plot, the speech has become iconic for its application to the entire Star Trek universe through all the series and movies. It kind of sums up what Star Trek is all about.

Risk. Risk is our business. That’s what this starship is all about. That’s why we’re aboard her.

And with Shatner`s just-shy-of-bombast delivery, the speech is kind of powerful.

(10) TONY DYSON OBIT. The builder of the original R2-D2, Tony Dyson, died March 4 reports the BBC.

The 68-year-old Briton was found by police after a neighbour called them, concerned his door was open.

He is thought to have died of natural causes. A post-mortem is being carried out to determine cause of death.

Dyson was commissioned to make eight R2-D2 robots for the film series. He said working on it was “one of the most exciting periods of my life”.

The look of R2-D2 was created by the conceptual designer Ralph McQuarrie who also created Darth Vader, Chewbacca and C-3PO.

Prof Dyson, who owned The White Horse Toy Company, was commissioned to make eight models plus the master moulds and an additional head.

He made four remote control units – two units for the actor Kenny Baker to sit in with a seat fitted inside and two throw away units to be used in a bog scene in Empire Strikes Back where a monster spits out the droid onto dry land, from the middle of the swamp.

(11) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • March 4, 1967 — Neal Hefti won a Grammy for our favorite song, the “Batman Theme.”

(12) YO, GROOT! According to the Daily News, Sylvester Stallone has joined the cast of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

Who might Stallone be playing? Perhaps, Peter Quill’s (Pratt) father. We know that coveted role will appear in the sequel. However, most people assume Kurt Russell already snagged that part and a source for the Daily News says Stallone’s role is just a cameo.

(13) KRYPTON ENNOBLED. As Yahoo! News tells the story, “Polish chemists tried to make kryptonite and failed, but then made a huge discovery”.

Avert your eyes, Superman, because according to news out of Poland this morning, a team of chemists just got awfully close to actually creating the fictional substance of kryptonite. Don’t sweat too much though, Clark — the scientists were only able to bond the element of krypton with oxygen (as opposed to nitrogen) which wound up creating krypton monoxide. Inability to create real kryptonite notwithstanding, the fact the chemists successfully bonded krypton with anything is a revelatory achievement for an element previously known to be entirely unreactive. In light of the success, krypton (which is a noble gas like helium and neon) is no longer considered inert.

Conducted at the Polish Academy of Sciences, a team of chemists ran krypton through a series of various tests to build off a previous study positing that the chemical may react with hydrogen or carbon under extreme conditions. What they discovered — and subsequently published in Scientific Reports — was that krypton, while under severe pressure, also has the ability to form krypton oxides after bonding with oxygen. Thing is, the chemists didn’t actually see the reaction happen, but rather, used genetic algorithms to theorize its likelihood.

(14) GUESS WHY ZINES ARE COMING BACK? News from Australia — “Sticky Institute: Internet trolls sparks resurgence of zines ahead of Festival of the Photocopier”.

Photocopied zines are making a comeback, with some young self-publishers keen to escape the attention of online trolls.

While the internet has democratised publishing, allowing anyone to potentially reach a global audience with the click of a button, vitriolic internet comments are pushing some writers back to a medium last popular in the 1990s.

Zines, or fanzines, are self-published, handmade magazines usually produced in short runs on photocopiers or home printers.

Thomas Blatchford volunteers at Melbourne zine store Sticky Institute, which is preparing for its annual Festival of the Photocopier later this month….

While unsure of the exact reason for the resurgence of zines, Mr Blatchford said it was more than just a “weird nostalgia thing”.

He said some zine-makers had been scared away from online publishing because of unkind comments from people on the internet.

“There’s some horrible people on there,” he said.

(15) BATTLE OF THE BURRITO. John Scalzi is engaged in a culinary duel with Wil Wheaton.

Some of you may be aware of the existential battle that Wil Wheaton and I are currently engaged in, involving burritos. I am of the opinion that anything you place into a tortilla, if it is then folded into a burrito shape, is a burrito of some description; Wil, on the other hand, maintains that if it is not a “traditional” burrito, with ingredients prepared as they were in the burrito’s ancestral home of Mexico, is merely a “wrap.”

Expect someone to write a post soon complaining that Scalzi is doing to Mexican food what he did to sf, by which I mean someone longing for the days when you could tell what you were buying by looking at the tortilla cover…

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Brian Z., Martin Morse Wooster, Andrew Porter, and Chip Hitchcock for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Soon Lee.]

Fly R2-D2

sw r2d2 plane 2Luke Skywalker felt safer when R2-D2 was flying behind him and All Nippon Airways (ANA) hopes passengers will feel the same way when it introduces Star Wars livery, with the iconic R2-D2, on its newest aircraft, the 787-9 Dreamliner, as announced at the Star Wars Celebration in Anaheim in April.

“The R2-D2 motif works well with ANA’s blue logo design on the aircraft’s fuselage, and many people associate R2-D2 with competent and reliable service-also hallmarks of ANA’s 5-star service,” said Takashi Shiki, ANA Executive Vice President, Sales & Marketing.

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This will be the first time a Star Wars character will appear on the exterior of a commercial aircraft, and marks the beginning of a five-year ANA Star Wars™ Project and agreement with The Walt Disney Company (Japan) Ltd.

The design will appear on one of ANA’s Dreamliners this fall, though the carrier has not yet determined what routes it will fly.

(To see an extensive photo collection of aircraft in advertising livery, click here.)