Pixel Scroll 9/13/21 Headcanon: The Universe Will Come To An End Following The Generation Of Nine Billion Pixel Scroll Titles

(1) THE WAY THEY DO IT DOWNTOWN. Nisi Shawl celebrated a rare moment on Facebook:

My name on a book ad in Times Square! I feel like in that Stevie Wonder song: “New York! Just like I pictured it–skyscrapers an everything!” The Black Stars anthology is now blasting way past cool…

(2) GROWING PAINS. Alyx Dellamonica tells how to diagnose “Is my short story really a novel idea?”

Does it make sense to keep working on short fiction, with the idea of developing my writing skills before moving on to a novel? How do you know when one of your own ideas will be a short story or a novel??

These are two great and related questions that I get a lot, and I have a lecture-length answer to should I work on short fiction before tackling novels? at Clarkesworld, home of several of my writing craft essays as well as a novelette called “The Immolation of Kev Magee.”

What about the second question, though–what do you do if you’ve started writing a story, and now you think it might actually be a novel?

This is an issue that comes up a lot when you’re workshopping. What happens in those cases is that your readers notice that you have a lot going on in the story you’ve submitted. Like, a lot: lots of characters, lots of complexity within the world you’ve built, maybe even multiple story threads. You’ve alluded to a dozen or more incredibly interesting things and none of them feels fully realized, and several readers are calling for you to expand each and every one of those elements. But you’re already pushing 7,500 words!…

(3) NOT BURMA BUT TIBET. “Shaving the Yak — such is life. How do you live your truth in a system…” Marianne de Pierres ponders the answer at Medium.

If someone asked me to reflect on my life, I’d probably say something like “yeah, I’m the woman who missed the moments.” I watched Veronica Mars for the first time in 2017, The OC in 2020, drank my first red wine when I was 50, and learned the meaning of “Shaving the Yak” when I was 60.

Being late to the party is kind of my tribute song. Annoyingly, it means there’s no one to hoot and holler with, about what you’re just discovering/crushing on.

Also, I regularly feel slightly… well… dumb.

So this week I heard the expression “shaving the yak” for the first time. A very polite gentleman I was interviewing, explained to me that it meant wanting to solve a problem, but running into a bunch of other problems you have to navigate, to get to the thing you want to do. It first got wings after a Ren and Stimpy show in the early 2000s. And for those of you that prefer a visual cue, here’s Hal doing it in Malcolm in the Middle, circa 2001….

(4) Q&A WITH BETSY WOLLHEIM. On YouTube, “An Interview with Betsy Wollheim: President, co-Publisher, and co-Editor-in-chief of DAW Books.”

Betsy Wollheim gives us insight into her nearly fifty years of experience in the publishing industry, highlighting her work with author Kristen Britain and the “Green Rider” series.

(5) MILES AND MILES. Book Riot’s Laura Sackton uses Bujold’s Vorkosigan series as the text to discuss “What Makes a Great Long-Running Series?”

… At 34, I was a very different reader than I was at 15, when I first read Shards of Honor. Sure, the series has its flaws. The vast majority of sci-fi published the 1980s has flaws. And I’m not going to pretend that I can be objective about it, because I have a deep emotional connection to the world and its characters. But what struck me, on this most recent reread, was how well the series stands up. I was consistently impressed with Bujold’s mastery of the series as a form. I picked up on small details I hadn’t noticed before. I started to paying attention to the way Bujold plots each novel and to how each book connects to the others. I noticed patterns. Certain things started to jump out at me: how the books end, the ways the characters change over time, the many different kinds of stories contained in the series as a whole….

(6) MEMORY LANE.

  • 1974 – Forty-seven years ago this evening on ABC, Kolchak: The Night Stalker first aired. It was preceded by The Night Stalker and The Night Strangler films, both written by Richard Matheson. It was created by Jeff Rice who Mike has some thoughts about here. As you know it has a small cast consisting of Darren McGavin, Simon Oakland, Jack Grinnage and Ruth McDevitt. It has become a cult favorite which currently carries a not surprising ninety-four percent rating among audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes but it was a Nielsen ratings failure and only lasted one season of twenty episodes before being cancelled.  Chris Carter who credits the series as the primary inspiration for The X-Files wanted McGavin to appear as Kolchak in one or more episodes of that series, but McGavin was unwilling to reprise the character for the show. He did appear on the series as retired FBI agent very obviously attired in Kolchak’s trademark seersucker jacket, black knit tie, and straw hat.

(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born September 13, 1916 — Roald Dahl. Did you know he wrote the screenplay for You Only Live Twice? Or did he hosted and wrote for a sf and horror television anthology series called Way Out which aired before The Twilight Zone for a season? He also hosted the UK Roald Dahl’s Tales of the Unexpected.  My favorite Dahl work is The BFG. What’s yours? (Died 1990.)
  • Born September 13, 1931 — Barbara Bain, 90. She’s most remembered for co-starring in the original Mission: Impossible television series in the 1960s as Cinnamon Carter, and Space: 1999 as Doctor Helena Russell.  Her first genre role was as Alma in the “KAOS in CONTROL” episode of Get Smart! She was active as of last year as showed in the Space Command series as Auut Simone in the “Ripple Effect” episode. 
  • Born September 13, 1939 — Richard Kiel. He’s definitely  best remembered  for being the steely mouthed Jaws in The Spy Who Loved Me and Moonraker. Now let’s see what other SFF films he’s been in…  One of his last credits was voicing Vlad in the animated Tangled. He was The Salorite in The Phantom Planet, Eegah in the low budget horror film Eegah,  a giant in House of the Damned, Dr. Kolos in The Human Duplicators, a Psychiatric Hospital Patient in Brainstorm, Bolob in the Italian L’umanoide, internationally released as The Humanoid, and he reprised his Jaws character in Inspector Gadget. Series wise, he’s shown up in The Man from U.N.C.L.E., Twilight Zone, Kolchak: The Night StalkerThe Wild Wild West (where he worked in a recurring role with Michael Dunn as Dr. Miguelito Loveless), I Dream of JeannieGilligan’s IslandLand of The Lost and Superboy. (Died 2014.)
  • Born September 13, 1944 — Jacqueline Bisset, 77. I never pass up a Bond performance and so she’s got on the Birthday Honors by being Giovanna Goodthighs in Casino Royale even though that might have been one of the dumbest character names ever. As near as I can tell, until she shows up in as Charlotte Burton in the “Love the Lie” episode of the Counterpart series that’s her entire encounter with genre acting. Genre adjacent, she appeared in the Albert Finney fronted Murder on the Orient Express as Countess Helena Andrenyi. 
  • Born September 13, 1947 — Mike Grell, 74. He’s best known for his work on books such as Green Lantern/Green ArrowThe Warlord, and Jon Sable FreelanceThe Warlord featuring Travis Morgan is a hollow Earth adventure series set in Skartaris which is a homage to Jules Verne as Grell points out “the name comes from the mountain peak Scartaris that points the way to the passage to the earth’s core in Journey to the Center of the Earth. Theanimated Justice League Unlimited “Chaos at the Earth’s Core“ episode made use of this story. 
  • Born September 13, 1960 — Bob Eggleton, 61. He’s has been honored with the Hugo Award for Best Professional Artist eight times! He was guest of honor at Chicon 2000. There’s a reasonably up to date look at his artwork,  Primal Darkness: The Gothic & Horror Art of Bob Eggleton  which he put together in 2010 and was published by Cartouche Press.
  • Born September 13, 1961 — Tom Holt, 60. Assuming you like comical fantasy, I’d recommend both Faust Among Equals and Who Afraid of Beowulf? as being well worth time. If you madly, deeply into Wagner, you’ll love Expecting Someone Taller; if not, skip it. His only two Awards are a pair of World Fantasy Awards, both for novellas, “A Small Price to Pay for Birdsong” and “Let’s Maps to Others”. And yes, I know that he also publishes under the K. J. Parker name as well but I won’t go into the works he publishes there here. 
  • Born September 13, 1974 — Fiona Avery, 47. Comic book and genre series scriptwriter. While being a reference editor on the final season of Babylon 5, she wrote “The Well of Forever” and “Patterns of the Soul” as well as two that were not produced, “Value Judgements” and “Tried and True”. After work on the Crusade series ended, she turned to comic book writing, working for Marvel and Top Cow with J. Michael Straczynski’s Rising Stars series being another place where her scripts were used. She created the Marvel character Anya Sofia Corazon later named Spider-girl. She did work on Tomb RaiderSpider-ManX-Men and Witchblade as well.

(8) COMICS SECTION.

  • The Far Side shows the Scarecrow’s plans to be another Lincoln will have to be postponed.
  • The Argyle Sweater has an Oz-themed joke of its own involving Dorothy.

(9) SEE YOU AT THE RBEM. Wauke-Con – Waukegan’s First Comic Book Convention — will be at the Ray Bradbury Experience Museum on October 16 and 17 at the Ray Bradbury Experience Museum, located at lucky 13 N. Genesee, from 12-6 both days. Buy a ticket here.

(10) HAWKEYE TRAILER. Disney+ shares a look at Marvel Studios’ Hawkeye.

Disney+ and Marvel Studios invite you on an unexpected holiday getaway, unwrapping a brand-new teaser trailer and poster today for “Hawkeye,” a new series set in post-blip New York City. Former Avenger Clint Barton has a seemingly simple mission: get back to his family for Christmas. Possible? Maybe with the help of Kate Bishop, a 22-year-old archer with dreams of becoming a Super Hero. The two are forced to work together when a presence from Barton’s past threatens to derail far more than the festive spirit.

(11) FORBIDDEN ADDRESS. Powell’s Books presents “Caitlin Starling in Conversation With Wendy N. Wagner” on October 6 at 5:00 p.m. Pacific. Register for the free Zoom webinar here.

From Bram Stoker-nominated Caitlin Starling, author of The Luminous Dead, comes The Death of Jane Lawrence (St. Martin’s), a new gothic fantasy horror novel. Practical, unassuming Jane Shoringfield has done the calculations, and decided that the most secure path forward is this: a husband, in a marriage of convenience, who will allow her to remain independent and occupied with meaningful work. Her first choice, the dashing but reclusive doctor Augustine Lawrence, agrees to her proposal with only one condition: that she must never visit Lindridge Hall, his crumbling family manor outside of town. Yet on their wedding night, an accident strands her at his door in a pitch-black rainstorm, and she finds him changed. Gone is the bold, courageous surgeon, and in his place is a terrified, paranoid man — one who cannot tell reality from nightmare, and fears Jane is an apparition, come to haunt him. By morning, Augustine is himself again, but Jane knows something is deeply wrong at Lindridge Hall, and with the man she has so hastily bound her safety to. Set in a dark-mirror version of post-war England, Starling crafts a new kind of gothic horror from the bones of the beloved canon. This Crimson Peak-inspired story assembles, then upends, every expectation set in place by Shirley Jackson and Rebecca, and will leave readers shaken, desperate to begin again as soon as they are finished. Starling will be joined in conversation by Wendy N. Wagner, editor of Nightmare magazine and author of An Oath of Dogs.

(12) MUCHO MOOLA FOR WOOLLY BULLY. Slashdot reports a “Firm Raises $15 Million To Bring Back Woolly Mammoth From Extinction”. How much to bring back two?

… The scientists have set their initial sights on creating an elephant-mammoth hybrid by making embryos in the laboratory that carry mammoth DNA. The starting point for the project involves taking skin cells from Asian elephants, which are threatened with extinction, and reprogramming them into more versatile stem cells that carry mammoth DNA….

(13) B5 DREAMING. Add this to your list of rumors of SF series reboots/sequels. Make of it what you will.

[Thanks to JJ, Michael Toman, John King Tarpinian, Joyce Scrivner, Dann, Steven H Silver, Marc Criley, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, and Martin Morse Wooster for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to contributing editor of the day Brian Z.]

Pixel Scroll 8/31/21 The Pixelscroll Experiment

(1) FINAL GIRLS CONSIDERED. Stephen Graham Jones cheers on the “final girls” of slasher movies at CrimeReads: “Let’s All Be Final Girls”.

…Part of the final girl’s DNA, after all, is the scream queen, typified in Fay Wray’s performance in King Kong. She wasn’t necessarily the first of her kind, but talkies were relatively new in 1933, so her scream was especially loud—loud enough to carry across the whole century.

However, final girls may come from the tradition of scream queens, but that doesn’t mean scream queens are final girls themselves. Yes, scream queens are menaced by horror, and yes, they survive their ordeals, but what their screams tend to do, actually, is bring the men in to deal with this bully. These scream queens are, after all, “white women in peril,” usually from some “dark” monstrosity—a giant gorilla, say. Their main function in the story is to cringe and run, and be abducted. Scream queens are damsels, perpetually in distress.

The final girl is no damsel. She doesn’t scream to call a man in to help her. No, she takes this lumbering beast down herself….

(2) PAGES MISSING. Dean Wesley Smith’s and Kristine Kathryn Rusch’s WMG Publishing told Facebook readers their website is currently having major problems. Their ISP, Bluehost, is to blame – a company that no longer hosts File 770 I’m relieved to say.  

If you’ve tried going to the WMG website the past week or so, you’ll discover that it seems to no longer have any content. This is a result of an issue with our website hosting platform, Bluehost, that we are still trying to get them to resolve. They accidentally deleted it…all 1,500 or so pages of it (we have backups, of course, but they can’t seem to restore the site even using those…it’s a long, frustrating story). At this point, we have no idea how long our website will be down, so in this newsletter, all of the links we direct you to are external. Please send some positive tech vibes our way that Bluehost resolves this issue soon.

(3) HEARING FROM FRIENDS. Cora Buhlert’s Fancast Spotlight introduces listeners to the “Unknown Worlds of the Merril Collection” podcast hosted by Oliver Brackenbury.

Who are the people behind your podcast or channel?

I host, screenwriter Chris Dickie is the producer, and ultimately the Friends of Merril volunteer group are behind the show. The Friends of Merril are dedicated to spreading awareness of, and otherwise supporting, the Merril Collection of Science Fiction, Speculation & Fantasy – located on the 3rd floor of the Lillian H. Smith branch of the Toronto Public Library system. With over 80,000 spec fic texts going back over two hundred years, it’s a tremendous asset for writers, scholars, and readers, one I’ve benefited from greatly.

Why did you decide to start your podcast or channel?

Well, Chris had just joined the Friends and when I asked him if he had anything specific he’d like to try in promoting the Merril, he said he’d been wanting to try podcasting. I’d been wanting to create some kind of shareable promotional content for the Merril, and had plenty of experience with hosting from my old Youtuber days. So, we figured we’d give it a whirl and see if it helped spread awareness of the Merril!

As far as I can tell, it’s certainly helped spread the good word. But we can always do more!

(4) STRONG MUSEUM’S ERIC CARLE EXHIBIT. Eric Carle: A Very Hungry, Quiet, Lonely, Clumsy, Busy Exhibit opens at The Strong Museum in Rochester, NY on Saturday, September 18 and will be on display through January 2.

Step into the pages of beloved author and illustrator Eric Carle’s Very series of picture books—including the iconic Very Hungry Caterpillar… Co-organized by Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh and The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art in Amherst, MA, Very Eric Carle is the first North American traveling exhibit for children inspired by the work of Eric Carle.

At this play-and-learn exhibit, visitors step into the pages of Eric Carle’s colorful picture books. His classic “Very” series, all illustrated in his hand-painted tissue paper collage technique, introduces five special insects who take journeys of discovery. Each story is a testament to Eric Carle’s love of nature, his respect for the emotional lives of children, and his recurring themes of friendship, creativity, and the power of imagination….

(5) RAY’S HOMETOWN GETS A CONVENTION. Wauke-Con, Waukegan’s First Comic Book Convention, will be held October 16-17 at the Ray Bradbury Experience Museum, located at lucky 13 N. Genesee, from 12-6 p.m. both days. 

(6) STAR SCRIPTURE. “Star Trek Series Bibles Released Through Official Website” reports Gizmodo. Links to the Bibles themselves are here.

Series bibles are a staple of television production. Part early pitch, part worldbuilding exercise, they form the fundamental basis for the earliest concrete visions for a TV show on the road to production. And now you can get a glimpse at the documents behind decades of Star Trek TV, giving access to some truly fascinating behind-the-scenes materials.

The series bibles for TNGDS9Voyager, and Enterprise have been floating around the internet in various iterations for a while, but in a new piece by Rob Wieland today, the official Star Trek website provided a fresh look at the foundations of the first four major Star Trek TV continuations. Thanks to these documents, fans can see how these iconic shows were first imagined, what changed on the road to the small screen, and what ideas were the ones writers decided were the most-thought provoking and exciting to sell these shows on to networks….

(7) PUPPIES: THE NEXT GENERATION. With Debarkle Chapter 60, Camestros Felapton some significant late arrivals to sf’s culture wars, Nick Cole and Jon Del Arroz: “Dramatis Personae — The Next Generation”.

…In February of 2016 former soldier, actor and writer Nick Cole[5] announced that he had been “banned by the publisher”. Cole had already published a few books with Harper Collins including a trilogy of post-apocalyptic books and a novel Soda Pop Soldier in which gamers fight a virtual reality war for corporations. It was the sequel (or rather prequel) to Soda Pop Soldier that led to the dispute. Cole had planned for the story to feature a Terminator-style AI rebellion and for motivation, he had decided that the AI at the source of the rebellion would deduce that humanity would kill it after watching a reality TV show in which a character has an abortion….

(8) FILE 007. The next James Bond movie, No Time To Die, comes to U.S. theaters on October 8.

(9) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

  • 1979 – Forty-two years ago on this date, Time After Time premiered. (It would lose out to Alien for Best Dramatic Presentation at Noreascon Two.)  It was directed by Nicholas Meyer who wrote the screenplay from a story by Karl Alexander and Steve Hayes, and produced by Herb Jaffe. The primary cast was Malcolm McDowell, David Warner and Mary Steenburgen. Reception by critics was unambiguously positive, the box office was good and the audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes currently give it an excellent sixty-eight percent rating. 

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born August 31, 1914 — Richard Basehart. He’s best remembered as Admiral Harriman Nelson in Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea. He also portrayed Wilton Knight in the later Knight Rider series. And he appeared in “Probe 7, Over and Out”, an episode of The Twilight Zone. He showed up on The Island of Dr. Moreau as Sayer of the Law. (Died 1984.)
  • Born August 31, 1933 — Robert Adams. He’s remembered for the Horseclans series, his overall best-known works though he wrote other works. While he never completed the series, he wrote 18 novels in the Horseclans series before his death. (Died 1990.)
  • Born August 31, 1949 — Richard Gere, 72. He was Lancelot in First Knight, which starred Sean Connery as King Arthur, and he was Joe Klein in The Mothman Prophecies. That’s it for genre film work. First Knight for me is more than enough to get Birthday Honors, but he also was in live performances of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead in the Sixties. Though definitely not genre, one of my roles by him was as defense attorney Billy Flynn in Chicago
  • Born August 31, 1958 — Julie Brown, 63. Starred with Geena Davis in the cult SF comedy, Earth Girls Are Easy. She’s been in genre films such as The Incredible Shrinking Woman, Bloody Birthday (a slasher film), Timebomb and Wakko’s Wish. She’s had one-offs in Quantum Leap and The Addams Family. She’s voiced a lot of animated characters included a memorable run doing the ever so sexy Minerva Mink on The Animaniacs. She reprised that role on Pinky and The Brain under the odd character name of Danette Spoonabello Minerva Mink. 
  • Born August 31, 1969 — Jonathan LaPaglia, 52. The lead in Seven Days which I’ve noted before is one of my favorite SF series. Other than playing Prince Seth of Delphi in Gryphon which aired on the Sci-fi channel, that’s his entire genre history as far as I can tell unless you count the Bones series as SF in which he’s in “The Skull in the Sculpture” episode as Anton Deluca.
  • Born August 31, 1971 — Chris Tucker, 50. The way over the top Ruby Rhod in Luc Besson’s The Fifth Element, a film I really, really like. His only other genre credit is as a MC in the Hall in The Meteor Man. 
  • Born August 31, 1982 — G. Willow Wilson, 39. A true genius. There’s her amazing work on the Sasquan Hugo Award-winning Ms. Marvel series starring Kamala Khan which I recommend strongly, and that’s not to say that her superb Air series shouldn’t be on your reading list as well. Oh, and the Cairo graphic novel with its duplicitous djinn is quite the read. The only thing I’ve by her that I’ve not quite liked is her World Fantasy Award winning Alif the Unseen novel.  I’ve not yet read her Wonder Women story but should soon. Her Invisible Kingdom, vol 2: Edge of Everything is nominated at DisCon III for a Best Graphic Story Hugo.
  • Born August 31, 1992 — Holly Early, 29. She was Lily Arwell in the Eleventh Doctor story, “The Doctor, the Widow and the Wardrobe.” She was also Kela in Beowulf: Return to the Shieldlands, Agnes in Humans, and Hermia in A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

(11) HE LOST ON JEOPARDY! “Mike Richards is out as producer of ‘Jeopardy!’ and ‘Wheel’”AP News has the story.

Mike Richards is out as executive producer of “Jeopardy!”, days after he exited as the quiz show’s newly appointed host because of past misogynistic and disparaging comments.

Richards is also no longer executive producer of “Wheel of Fortune,” according to a memo to staff that was confirmed by Sony Pictures Television, which produces both of the shows.

“We had hoped that when Mike stepped down from the host position at Jeopardy! it would have minimized the disruption and internal difficulties we have all experienced these last few weeks. That clearly has not happened,” Suzanne Prete, an executive with the game shows, said in the memo.

…In her memo, Prete said she will work with Richards’ interim replacement, Michael Davies, until further notice. Davies produces ABC’s “Who Wants to Be A Millionaire.”

(12) STAY FROSTY. James Davis Nicoll helps Tor.com readers find “Five Chilly SF Stories to Help Beat the Summer Heat”, including —

Icerigger by Alan Dean Foster (1974)

Interstellar salesman Ethan Frome Fortune made one small mistake when he traveled to the desolate ice-world of Tran-ky-ky. He boarded the same starship as the fantastically wealthy and eminently kidnappable Hellespont du Kane, and du Kane’s daughter Colette. An attempted kidnapping ensues.

The kidnapping fails. A single kidnapper survives. He and his prospective kidnappee and several innocent bystanders (including Fortune) end up marooned on Tran-ky-ky.

The castaways are a diverse lot; at least one of them, adventurer Skua September, is suited to survival on a backward, frozen world. Other off-worlders could save them…if the stolen shuttle had not crashed on the other side of the world from the trading post.

Providentially, a nearby community of indigenes are willing to assist the odd-looking off-worlders. There is just one minor complication. Even now, a nomad horde is bearing down upon the town. Perhaps the off-worlders can help the desperate townsfolk repel the attack. If not, the humans will die alongside the townsfolk.

(13) PORTAL CREATOR. At The Walrus, Jason Guriel makes the case for “Why William Gibson Is a Literary Genius”.

…It’s been four decades since William Gibson’s short story “Johnny Mnemonic” appeared in the May 1981 issue of Omni magazine. He’d already published a couple of pieces, but “Johnny” was a landmark feat of fiction: in a matter of eight magazine pages, Gibson roughed out the contours of an entire world.

The world Gibson was building was a wormhole away from most science fiction—from space-opera optimism and the sort of intergalactic intrigue that’s settled by laser sword. Gibson’s heroes were hustlers, their turf the congested city. They used substances, skirted the law, and self-edited via surgery (see Molly’s nails). He provided more detail, the following year, in the story “Burning Chrome,” which coined the term cyberspace: a boundless 3-D grid, “an abstract representation of the relationships between data systems”—a kind of web. And then, in 1984, he went even deeper with Neuromancer. His zeitgeist-rattling debut novel was about a hacker for hire who navigated cyberspace using a modem and an Ono-Sendai Cyberspace 7 deck, a Gibson confection that rests on his hacker’s lap (and sounds a lot like a modern-day laptop)….

(14) DOUBLING DOWN. In “Tales Twice Told”, episode 60 of the Two Chairs Talking podcast, Perry Middlemiss and David Grigg discuss recent award winners, the nominees for the Short Story category of this year’s Hugos, and the books they’ve been reading. 

David was particularly impressed by “The End of the World is Bigger Than Love” by Davina Bell, winner of this year’s Children’s Book Council of Australia Book of the Year for Older Readers: “Probably the best piece of SF I’ve read all year”.

(15) OLDER THAN YOU THINK. Smithsonian Magazine says archeologists have established “King Arthur’s Stone Is Older Than Stonehenge”.

Arthur’s Stone, an enigmatic rock burial in Herefordshire, England, is one of the United Kingdom’s most famous Stone Age monuments. Now, reports Carly Cassella for Science Alert, excavations carried out near the tomb—named for its supposed ties to King Arthur—have shed light on its beginnings, revealing that Neolithic people built it as part of an intricate ceremonial landscape.

“Although Arthur’s Stone is an iconic … monument of international importance, its origins had been unclear until now,” says dig leader Julian Thomas, an archaeologist at the University of Manchester, in a statement. “Being able to shine a light on this astonishing 5,700-year-old tomb is exciting and helps to tell the story of our origins.”

(16) METAVERSE. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In the Washington Post, Dalvin Brown says for a Ready Player One-style metaverse to happen, tech companies not known for cooperation will have to work together and virtual reality headsets will have to be much more popular than they are now (the Entertainment Software Association says only 29 percent of America’s 169 million gamers have a virtual reality system). “What is the metaverse? Microsoft, Facebook want to build next version of the Internet”.

What is the metaverse?

The term was coined by writer Neal Stephenson in the 1992 dystopian novel “Snow Crash.” In it, the metaverse refers to an immersive digital environment where people interact as avatars. The prefix “meta” means beyond and “verse” refers to the universe. Tech companies use the word to describe what comes after the Internet, which may or may not be reliant on VR glasses.

Think of it as an embodied Internet that you’re inside of rather than looking at. This digital realm wouldn’t be limited to devices: Avatars could walk around in cyberspace similar to how people maneuver the physical world, allowing users to interact with people on the other side of the planet as if they’re in the same room.… But for a robust virtual universe, everyone needs to want and afford VR headsets. The technology would need to be stylish and minimal enough to interest more people and sophisticated enough to work seamlessly. That hasn’t happened yet.

Nimble wireless headsets, like Facebook’s Oculus Quest 2, take a hit on image quality, while bulky VR goggles, like the HTC Vive Pro 2, enable more computing power with their wires. Facebook’s Oculus Quest 2 is among the most affordable at $299, while the HTC Vive Pro 2 headset starts at $799 plus the cost of controllers.

(17) ANOTHER VERSE. When you’re a fan, it’s important to be able to tell your multiverse from your metaverse. “Marvel Comics Reveals 8 New Tentpole Titles”.

In celebration of Marvel’s Birthday today, Marvel Comics revealed its first look at eight new tentpole titles that will shape the future of the Marvel Universe in the months to come.

Here’s one of them —

Marvel Comics’ Avengers Forever pulls together archaeologist Tony Stark aka the Invincible Ant-Man and Avengers from across the multiverse to bring order to timelines where ‘hope’ is a four letter word. Jason Aaron and Aaron Kuder present an all-new series that will redefine the Avengers as…the Multiverse’s Mightiest Heroes.

(18) VIDEO OF THE DAY. Brian And Charles is a short film about a lonely farmer who decides to build a robot to be his friend and what happens when the robot starts having issues.

[Thanks to Michael Toman, John King Tarpinian, Cat Eldridge, Cora Buhlert, Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, Martin Morse Wooster, and JJ for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to contributing editor of the day Jack Lint.]

A Bradbury Multimedia Roundup

(1) WHO RAY LEARNED FROM. The Ray Bradbury Experience Museum invites you to “Meet Ray Bradbury’s Greatest Writing Mentor: Leigh Douglass Brackett”.

Leigh Brackett

…“Her stories were very simple, and well-plotted, and very beautiful. I learned from her how to pare my stories down and how to plot,” Bradbury said. —Sam Weller in The Bradbury Chronicles.

Brackett was a masterful storyteller of limitless imagination, exquisite writing skills and quite an impressive range. She was ahead of her time just as she was ahead of most of her colleagues, Sven Mikulec reports in Cinephilia Beyond. She was known as the “Queen of Space Opera.”…

(2) WALKING WAUKEGAN. Also, the “Ray Bradbury museum offers virtual tour of his life in Waukegan” – and the Chicago Tribune took it.

…As the pandemic continues, the museum is offering online experiences such as the virtual tour and the “I Met Ray” video project, also in the News & Media tab. The virtual tour, paid for with a grant from Chicago-based nonprofit Illinois Humanities, focus a great deal on the library, one of Bradbury’s favorite places, according to Sandra Petroshius, committee chair of the museum. “Bradbury just loved the library,” said Petroshius, who grew up in Waukegan and lives in Lake Forest. “He showed that in his writings,” she said.

Bradbury’s book, “Something Wicked This Way Comes,” is set in the library, and one of the characters works at a library, she said….

(3) PANDEMIC TIMES. Bradbury biographer Sam Weller looks back at “Ray Bradbury and the Last Global Pandemic” in the LA Review of Books.

…For all the years I spent with him (12 in total, five during which I saw him every two weeks, flying from Chicago to Los Angeles as I was writing his authorized biography), he would often speak about the 1918 virus, the so-called “Spanish flu.” This was in the early 2000s, when few understood the damage a pandemic could wreak. Pandemics were the stuff of a Michael Crichton novel, not our own reality.

Bradbury was dumbfounded that the 1918 tragedy had faded from our cultural consciousness. “Nobody talks about it anymore,” he said with remorse. The 1918 pandemic claimed at least 50 million lives around the world; in the United States, the death toll is estimated to be near 675,000.

…Bradbury lost two family members to the 1918 pandemic. These deaths, with their associated grief, imbue much of his oeuvre. Mortality, loneliness, letting go were the central motifs to Bradbury’s first book, Dark Carnival (1947), published when he was only 27 years old, and dubbed by Stephen King as the “Dubliners of American Gothic.”

Ray Bradbury was born on August 22, 1920, after the flu pandemic had ended. The virus had taken a devastating toll on his family. I have spent two decades delving into Bradbury’s genealogy, combing through lost records, staring blurry-eyed at microfiche screens, trying to understand and fully appreciate how Bradbury’s formative years (what he called his “root system”) shaped him as a writer….

(4) BEWARE PIRATES. Barry Hoffman, Publisher, Gauntlet Press sent out this warning to his list on April 28:

Have you ever come across a deal that seemed too good to pass up? A customer wrote to me asking if a 3000 copy edition of Ray Bradbury’s Dark Carnival being offered by Dragon Books was a scam. The offer seemed to be too good to be true … and in fact, it was an illegal sale of the title.

When Ray Bradbury agreed to let us publish his first short story collection as a signed limited his agent, Don Congdon, told me it would be the only printing of the book, after which it would go back into the vault. But here was a listing of the book for $3.99 with a bookplate signed by Bradbury (with the cover art of our version). It made no sense. Bradbury, of course, has passed away. He agreed with his agent that after our release of the book there should be no other. And, where would the publisher get 3000 bookplates SIGNED by Bradbury? To offer a SIGNED version of Bradbury’s acclaimed first book for less than $4 was ludicrous.
 
I contacted Bradbury’s agent Michael Congdon (son of Don) who sent Dragon Books a cease and desist letter. They agreed and the listing has been removed….
 
It has always been our goal to protect the legacy of authors we have published. Ray Bradbury and Richard Matheson can no longer protect their work. However, both still have agents who will take action when an illegal version of their writing is offered. If you see Bradbury or Matheson books (especially signed versions) being offered (other than on legitimate secondary markets like eBay and Abe.com) please contact me at gauntlet66@aol.com and I will look into the offering and, if necessary, contact their agent.

(5) THE SPACE BETWEEN THE WORDS. In “A Science Fiction Author’s Pointers for Worldbuilding with Negative Space” on CrimeReads, Stina Leicht cites classics by Bradbury, Le Guin, and Butler as examples of how it’s what you don’t show in worldbuilding that is as important as what you do show.

…It might be easier to imagine world-building as an iceberg floating in the sea of plot. The reader only sees a small percentage of it. The rest is deep beneath the water and affects everything in the water—visibly and invisibly. That said, communicating with the empty spaces takes a deft hand because the border between too little and just right is quite thin. In addition, Americans in particular are often socially conditioned to say more and listen less. That’s why world building in the blank spaces is an advanced technique most often employed by authors with experience and skill.

A great deal of worldbuilding can happen with what is left unsaid….

(6) A WIDE FANBASE. The “Ray Bradbury: Inextinguishable” virtual exhibit at the American Writers Museum includes a treasured letter. (Click for larger image.)

One of the letters that Ray received in 2003 was of particular significance. It was from Thomas Steinbeck, the son of Ray’s childhood literary hero John Steinbeck.

In the letter, Thomas told Ray that the entire family had been fans of him for years. John would read to the children, and would often choose Ray’s stories. This in turn inspired Thomas to become a writer when he got older. It is amazing that Ray inspired the son of a writer that inspired him so much, and shows the enduring legacy of his writing and personality.

The File 770 post “Bradbury at Big Read” includes a photo of Ray and Thomas at an encounter in Santa Barbara in 2009.

(7) CLIFTON’S CAFETERIA. The eatery hosted LASFS gatherings in the Thirties, and Ray held court there may times in later years. This is/was the dedicated Ray Bradbury booth at Clifton’s in the Gothic Bar room. Photo by Steve Leiva.

(8) LANSDALE ON BRADBURY. Joe R. Lansdale joined a RBEM Virtual Session to talk about Hap & Leonard, Batman and Ray Bradbury.

(9) THE ORIGINAL 451. Christie Hefner will discuss Playboy Magazine and Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 in a free livestream on May 25, 6:30 Central. Register at Eventbrite: “Playboy and Fahrenheit 451: A Program with Christie Hefner”.

In 1954, when Playboy magazine was in its infancy, it published a three-part serialized novel about the perils of censorship and the seductive lure of anti-intellectual movements. The magazine introduced thousands of readers unfamiliar with science fiction to the genre’s masterwork and helped make it a classic. Former Chairman, CEO Playboy Enterprises Christie Hefner talks about the landmark publication and its influence.

This program is made possible by NEA Big Read. NEA Big Read is a program of the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) designed to broaden our understanding of our world, our communities, and ourselves through the joy of sharing a good book. The American Writers Museum is one of 78 not-for-profit organizations to receive a grant to host an NEA Big Read project between September 2019 and December 2021. The NEA presents NEA Big Read in partnership with Arts Midwest.

(10) THE HEADLINER. Franco Laguna Correa discusses “Ray Bradbury on War, Recycling, and Artificial Intelligence” at Public Books.

One of the roles of science fiction is to provide readers with a glimpse of how the future could be.1 Ray Bradbury didn’t get everything about the future right. We haven’t yet seen books and reading made illegal (as in his 1953 Fahrenheit 451),2 just as we haven’t yet discovered another planet ready for American colonizers (as in his 1950 The Martian Chronicles). And yet, the themes he explored in those books—mass media and censorship, colonization and environmental change—are more relevant than ever. Even in his lesser-known works—such as the 1951 sci-fi collection The Illustrated Man, Bradbury tackles a surprising array of issues that feel as if they were ripped from today’s headlines….

(11) RAY TALKS ABOUT DISNEY. In “The Optimistic Futurist” Leonard Maltin interviews Ray Bradbury about Walt Disney.

From the Walt Disney Treasures DVDs, this is an interview about Walt Disney. It is a bonus feature from the set, and here it is meant to shed light on the genius of Walt Disney.

(12) HISTORIC INFLUENCE. Dana Gioia calls it the “Ray Bradbury’s Butterfly Effect”:

…Was Bradbury really a major writer? Or was he simply the amiable pioneer of a dynamic popular genre? The question persists, so let me offer what I believe will be Bradbury’s particular claim to literary posterity. For one astonishingly productive decade—from 1950 to 1960—Ray Bradbury was probably the most influential fiction writer in the English language. Please note that I’m not claiming he was the best writer or that he exerted the most influence on his fellow writers. In strictly literary terms, Bradbury was not remotely the equal of Flannery O’Connor, Graham Greene, Chinua Achebe, John Cheever, or a dozen other of his Anglophonic contemporaries. Bradbury’s enormous impact was felt mostly outside the literary world—on scientists, filmmakers, architects, engineers, journalists, librarians, artists, and entrepreneurs. Above all, his influence was felt on the young, the generation of adolescents who would shape the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries. Bradbury’s impact is still evident from Disneyland to Cape Canaveral, from Hollywood to Silicon Valley. It is even evident on other planets. When the Mars rover Curiosity touched down two months after the author’s death, NASA scientists named the spot Bradbury Landing. He was the paperback bard of book burning, the Butterfly Effect, virtual reality, and the full-body tattoo. Bradbury’s dreams and nightmares of space travel, nuclear holocaust, interactive media, robotics, censorship, mass illiteracy, and environmental payback provided the mythic structure for millions of other dreamers in science, entertainment, and technology.

(13) RAY BRADBURY & COMICS. The staff from the Ray Bradbury Experience Museum share behind-the-scenes views of the museum and stories of Bradbury’s love of comics in this 90-minute video.

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

Bradbury Centennial Weekend
Is Here at Last

Get ready for Ray Bradbury’s hundred candle blowout on Saturday!

(1) FIRED UP FOR THE READ-A-THON. The “First Annual Ray Bradbury Read-A-Thon” is a national reading of Fahrenheit 451 that begins at 4:30 p.m. Eastern on August 22, 2020 to mark the 100th anniversary of Ray Bradbury’s birth. View the entire reading on: RayBradburyReadAThon.com

Readers young and old from across the nation will gather by their TV sets, computers, tablets, and phones to watch a historic reading of Ray Bradbury’s classic novel Fahrenheit 451 streamed over YouTube, Facebook, and Instagram. The Library of Congress, the Los Angeles Public Library, and the Alliance for Young Artists & Writers, along with other public and university libraries nationwide have joined together to bring Bradbury’s classic novel to today’s audiences.

Carla Hayden, the Librarian of Congress, will introduce each of the three parts of Bradbury’s book, while John Szabo (Los Angeles Public Library), Rachel Bloom (actress), Charles F. Bolden Jr. (12th NASA Administrator), and Ann Druyan (writer/producer/director) will offer additional introductions.

Readers from across the United States will join William Shatner (actor), Neil Gaiman (author), Marlon James (author), Marjorie Liu (author), P. Djèlí Clark (author), Dr. Brenda Greene (author), Alley Mills Bean (actress), James Reynolds (actor), Tananarive Due (author), and Steven Barnes (author) to bring this relevant work to social media. Susan Orlean (author) provides an afterword. 

(2) SEE RAY’S TYPEWRITER. The American Writers Museum in Chicago will admit visitors free on Bradbury’s 100th birthday.

The American Writers Museum (AWM) welcomed visitors back one month ago with new safety measures including providing gloves and styluses to promote safe interaction with museum exhibits. On Saturday, August 22, the AWM will open its doors for free to mark the Centennial of Ray Bradbury’s birth, giving visitors a chance to get an up-close look at Bradbury’s typewriter that is on display in the Tools of the Trade exhibit and learn more about the upcoming exhibit Ray Bradbury: Inextinguishable, set to open in early 2021. 

(3) MARTIAN TAPESTRY. The Los Angeles Public Library kicked off the week with this brief biography — “A Week to Remember: Ray Bradbury”.

…Bradbury was trying to get the second volume of stories published in 1949, but every publisher he approached told him they were looking for novels. He met at Doubleday with editor Walter Bradbury (no relation), who asked if his existing stories about the first human colony on Mars could be tied together into a novel; Walter even suggested a name: The Martian Chronicles. Ray wrote an outline for the connective material overnight, and Walter bought what was now a novel the next day.

The novel was a great success, in part because of another lucky accident. Bradbury happened to meet Christopher Isherwood in a bookstore shortly after the book was published. He gave Isherwood a copy, and Isherwood’s glowing review of The Martian Chronicles helped bring the book to the attention of readers who might otherwise have ignored it. The book was so popular that Broadway composers Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick Loewe wanted to turn it into a musical. Bradbury declined, but did approve an operatic version several decades later.

(4) MASKED MAN. In the town where Ray was born – Waukegan, IL – the Ray Bradbury Experiene Museum is celebrating.

They’re raising money, too, with RBEM logo masks.

(5) WAUKEGAN ACQUIRES CARNEGIE LIBRARY. And the officials of the City of Waukegan have a few things lined up: “Ray Bradbury Centennial”. For example, they announced on August 13 –

In partnership with the Waukegan Historical Society, the Waukegan Park District is excited to announce that it has officially acquired the historic Carnegie Library from the City of Waukegan. The Carnegie Library, located at 1 N. Sheridan Road, was made famous by Ray Bradbury in a variety of stories, possibly most especially in Something Wicked This Way Comes. Designated as a Waukegan Historic Landmark and listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the Carnegie Library will become the new site for the Waukegan Historical Society’s expanded history programming, archives, collections, exhibits, and research library. The building will also be used by the Waukegan Park District for programs, classes, events, and registrations.

(6) SEEING RED. John Grant, geologist at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, reflects on Bradbury’s impact on his career studying Mars: “Gaining Inspiration from The Martian Chronicles.

That I am a Martian is thanks in no small part to Ray Bradbury. As a child growing up in northern NY, I spent many nights reading and rereading his books. From Fahrenheit 451 to Something Wicked This Way Comes to The Illustrated Man and everything in between. But it was the Martian Chronicles that really captured my attention. After reading it multiple times, I’d play outside and imagine ancient Martian civilizations living on a drying Red Planet long before humans appeared on the Earth. 

This all happened at about the same time I was eagerly waiting for first the Mariner 9 and then Viking missions to reach Mars. Although prior missions had flown by the planet, these missions were the first to go into orbit and, in the case of Viking, successfully land on the surface of Mars. When Mariner 9 arrived at Mars, a global dust storm was largely obscuring the surface from view. As the dust slowly cleared and Mars was unveiled, a diverse landscape was revealed that included not only impact craters, but also giant volcanoes, ice caps, and even ancient water-carved channels. The Viking orbiters followed this up with even better and broader resolution images of surface features and the Viking landers revealed a landscape that to me looked somewhat similar to deserts on the Earth, sans vegetation of course. 

(7) RAY’S OLD HOME BY THE BEACH. The Friends of Venice (CA) Library are “Celebrating Bradbury’s 100th Birthday” online – register at the link. This year’s annual meeting will honor Ray Bradbury’s Centennial with a showing of the classic Twilight Zone episode “I Sing the Body Electric,” written by Bradbury. In addition, a visit by the LA Book Bike, and a joint display with the Venice Heritage Foundation will focus on Bradbury’s life in Venice.

Venice news outlet The Argonaut explores his local roots in “Happy Birthday, Ray Bradbury!”

…Many may not be aware that Bradbury’s life as a writer began in Venice. In 1942, he moved to a small house at 670 Venice Boulevard where he sat in a one-car garage and wrote short stories like “The Lake” and “The Wind” as well as the famed “Martian Chronicles.” From “The Fog Horn” inspired by the shattered remains of the Venice Pier roller coaster to the decaying Venice Canals that set the scene for “Death Is a Lonely Business,” Venice had a large influence on the stories he told.

(8) RAY’S FAMILY TREE. An article in Spanish at El Universal’s Confablario“Ray Bradbury, el hijo de Julio Verne” – “hijo” means “son” so you can figure out that part easily enough. It starts out quoting Ray’s whole family tree —

En su prólogo a S is for Space Ray Douglas Bradbury escribió lo siguiente: “Julio Verne fue mi padre. H. G.Wells fue mi tío sabio. Edgar Allan Poe era el primo con alas de murciélago que guardábamos en lo alto del desván. Flash Gordon y Buck Rogers fueron mis hermanos y amigos. Ahí tienen mi linaje. Añadiendo, por supuesto, el hecho de que muy probablemente, Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley, la autora de Frankenstein, era mi madre”.

(9) HERE’S A HEAD START ON THE BRADBURY READING. In 2018, LeVar Burton Reads gave fans “’The Great Wide World Over There’ by Ray Bradbury”.

A visitor’s arrival delivers both wonder and heartache to a rural community. This story appears in Ray Bradbury’s collection THE GOLDEN APPLES OF THE SUN. 

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

Pixel Scroll 7/30/20 Can I Scroll There By Pixel-Light? Yes, And Back Again

(1) TAKING NOTES. I’d love to see more panel reports of this kind.

(2) FAN FUNDS AUCTION. Alison Scott announced that today’s CoNZealand Fan Funds auction raised 2190$NZD for GUFF, TAFF, DUFF and FFANZ.

(3) YOU GOT YOUR POLITICS IN MY FICTION! This happened to a CoNZealand panel participant yesterday.

Schluessel also reports getting dinged for having a Black Lives Matter background. Which is pretty bizarre, because there’s a Black Lives Matter banner in CoNZealand’s virtual Exhibit Hall, as seen in the screencap below. However,  Schluessel says “CoNZealand has extended me a full apology, which I have accepted.”

(4) ROTSLER AWARD EXHIBIT. CoNZealand’s virtual exhibit hall includes many things, such as the Rotsler Award exhibit (membership required to access) with artwork from each year’s award winner. Click the link, select “Boldy Go,” select Exhibits, and once there, click on Displays. The Rotsler link is last on the bottom right.

(5) PLEASE UNSIGN THEM. When she saw her sff group’s name listed as a signer of the Open Letter to WSFS about the Saudi Arabia Worldcon bid, Fran Dowd, “Sofa” of the Sheffield Science Fiction and Fantasy society posted a denial on the group’s Facebook page.

I’d like to put it on record that I have no idea how this group appeared as a signatory to the Jeddah letter. Whatever our personal feelings might be, I would not expect anyone to sign such a statement on our behalf without consultation at the least. 

I have spent this morning, when I would actually rather be at the current Worldcon, trying to spread the word. Apologies have been given to the NZ Chairs and to Kevin Standlee. Given the spread of social media, getting a retraction would be meaningless. 

I apologise to any members of the group who have been dragged into this. If it is of any help, please point people to this statement. 

Signed by me in my capacity as Chair When We Need One.

(6) RETRO SPLASHDOWN. Cora Buhlert takes stock of yesterday’s awards. Did they stick the landing? “Some Thoughts on the 1945 Retro Hugo Winners”.

Best Novelette

The 1945 Retro Hugo for Best Novelette goes to “City” by Clifford D. Simak. This isn’t a huge surprise, because the City cycle is well regarded, still in print and Clifford D. Simak was one of the best writers of the Golden Age. “City” is a pretty good story, too, though not the best City story of 1944 or even the best City novelette, because “Census”, which didn’t make the ballot, is better.

That said, this was not the category I wanted to see Simak win. In fact, I was hoping that C.L. Moore, either with or without Henry Kuttner, would win Best Novelette, because both “No Woman Born” (which finished second) and “The Children’s Hour” (which finished unfairly in sixth place) are great stories.

Though I’m glad that “Arena” by Fredric Brown was its “Genocide is good” message didn’t win, because I feared that it might.

(7) MORE OR LESS RETRO-HUGOS? Charles Stross thinks pausing the Retro-Hugos for about a quarter century might address some of the competing values now in conflict. Thread starts here.

Alasdair Stuart laments the Campbell and Lovecraft Retro wins. Thread starts here.

(8) PERSERVERANCE IS ON ITS WAY. “Nasa Mars rover: Perseverance robot launches to detect life on Red Plane” – BBC story includes video.

The US space agency’s Perseverance robot has left Earth on a mission to try to detect life on Mars.

The one-tonne, six-wheeled rover was launched out of Florida by an Atlas rocket on a path to intercept the Red Planet in February next year.

When it lands, the Nasa robot will also gather rock and soil samples to be sent home later this decade.

Perseverance is the third mission despatched to Mars inside 11 days, after launches by the UAE and China.

Lift-off from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station occurred at 07:50 local time (12:50 BST; 11:50 GMT).

Nasa made this mission one of its absolute priorities when the coronavirus crisis struck, establishing special work practices to ensure Perseverance met its launch deadline.

“I’m not going to lie, it’s a challenge, it’s very stressful, but look – the teams made it happen and I’ll tell you, we could not be more proud of what this integrated team was able to pull off here, so it’s very, very exciting,” Administrator Jim Bridenstine told reporters.

(9) SPEAK UP, MARS. NPR tells how “Microphone Aboard NASA’s Rover Aims To Pick Up Sounds From Mars”.

…BRENDAN BYRNE, BYLINE: When the Perseverance rover lands on Mars in February, it will unpack a suite of scientific experiments to help uncover ancient signs of life on the red planet – high-tech cameras, spectrometers, sensors and…

ROGER WIENS: This is the voice of Roger Wiens speaking to you through the Mars microphone on SuperCam.

BYRNE: Roger Wiens is the principal investigator of the rover SuperCam, a slew of instruments, including a camera, laser and spectrometer, that will examine the rocks and soil of Mars for organic compounds, a hint that there might be further evidence of past life. Tucked away inside the SuperCam is the Mars microphone.

WIENS: And so it is there to listen to anything interesting, first of all, on Mars. And so we should hear wind sounds. We should hear sounds of the rover. We might hear things that we never expected to hear. And so that’s going to be interesting to find out.

BYRNE: The mic will also listen as Perseverance’s onboard laser blasts nearby rocks.

ADDIE DOVE: You might think we’re going to hear, like, pew pew, but we probably won’t.

BYRNE: University of Central Florida planetary scientist Addie Dove says the sounds of Martian rock blasts will help scientists determine if they might contain organic material, evidence of life on Mars. But it will actually sound more like this.

(SOUNDBITE OF ROCK BLASTS)

(10) JOSE SARAMAGO NEWS. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In the July 24 Financial Times, Sarah Hemming discusses a new adaptation of Nobel Laureate Jose Saramago’s sf novel Blindness at the Donmar Warehouse in London (donmarwarehouse.com).  Donmar’s director, Michael Longhurst says the production will be a hybrid of theatre and “sound installation” that will let the theatre hold four shows a day.  I can’t tell from the review how much actual theatre there is in the production.  The only Donmar production I’ve seen was an all-female Julius Caesar on PBS that had an impressive performance by Dame Harriet Walter as Brutus.

Lockdown has emphasised the importance of sound for many of us from that early experience of hearing birdsong in unusually quiet city centres, to a keener awareness, prompted by physical separation, of the way we listen.  And several online drama offerings, such as Simon McBurney’s The Encounter and Sound&Fury’s wartime meditation Charlie Ward At Home, have used sophisticated recording to steep their homebound audiences in other worlds and prompt reflection. 

Blindness, in a sense, builds on that (there will be a digital download for those unable to get to the theatre).  So why attend in person?  Longhurst suggests the very act of being in a space will change the quality of listening–and reflect the way we have all had individual journeys through the collective experience of lockdown.  And while this is a one-off piece about a society in an epidemic, created for an industry in a pandemic, that physical presence marks a move towards full performance.

(11) MEDIA ANNIVERSARY.

  • July 1987 — Emma Bull’s War for The Oaks was published by Ace Books. This urban fantasy would get its own trailer courtesy of Will Shetterly who financed it instead of running for Governor. You’ll no doubt recognize many of the performers here.  Decades later, it was scheduled to have a hardcover edition from Tor Books but it got canceled after the books were printed. And the music in War for The Oaks would later be done by Cats Laughing, a band that includes Emma Bull and other members of Minneapolis fandom. 

(12) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]

  • Born July 30, 1800 – Aleksandr Veltman.  Order of St. Vladimir (bravery) while in the Russian army, eventually Director of the Museum of Armaments.  Poetry praised by Pushkin, second wife’s novel praised by Gorky.  The Wanderer in an imaginary journey parodies travel notes.  Koshchei the Deathless parodies historical adventures.  The Year 3448 is supposedly by Martin Zadek (who also finds his way into Pushkin and Zamyatin).  The Forebears of Kalimeros has time-travel (by riding a hippogriff; “Kalimeros”, a nudge at Napoleon, is the Greek equivalent of Buonaparte) to meet Alexander and Aristotle.  Tolstoy and Dostoevskyapplauded AV too.  (Died 1870) [JH]
  • Born July 30, 1873 – Curtis Senf.  Four dozen covers and hundreds of interiors for Weird Tales, after which what the Field Guide to Wild American Pulp Artists modestly calls “a more lucrative career as a commercial artist in the Chicago advertising industry”.  Here is the Oct 27 WT; here is the Jan 30; here is the Mar 32.  (Died 1949) [JH]
  • Born July 30, 1911 Reginald Bretnor. Author of many genre short stories involving Ferdinand Feghoot, a comical figure indeed. It looks like all of these are available in digital form on iBooks and Kindle. He was a consummate SJW. He translated Les Chats, the first known book about cats which was written by Augustin Paradis de Moncrif in 1727. He also wrote myriad articles about cats, was of course a companion to cats, and considered himself to have a psychic connection to cats. Of course most of us do. (Did 1992.) (CE)
  • Born July 30, 1927 Victor Wong. I remember him best as the Chinese sorcerer Egg Shen in John Carpenter’s Big Trouble in Little China. He was also The Old Man in The Golden Child, Walter Chang in Tremors, Dr. Wong in the “China Moon” episode of the Beauty and the Beast series and Lee Tzin-Soong in the “Fox Spirit” episode  of Poltergeist: The Legacy. (Died 2001.) (CE)
  • Born July 30, 1947 – John Stith, 73.  Eight novels, a dozen shorter stories, translated into French, German, Italian, Japanese, Portuguese, Russian.  Wrote about John Kennedy (i.e. our JK; indeed John R.; 1945-2009) in 1992 (for the limited ed’n of “Nova in a Bottle” bound with “Encore”), interviewed by him in 1993 (SF Chronicle 164).  Did his own cover for a reprinting of Death Tolls.  [JH]
  • Born July 30, 1948 Carel Struycken, 72. I remember him best as the gong ringing Mr. Holm on Next Gen, companion to Deanna Troi’s mother. He was also Lurch in The Addams FamilyAddams Family Values and the Addams Family Reunion. He’s listed as being Fidel in The Witches of Eastwick but I’ll be damned if I remembered his role in that film. And he’s in Ewoks: The Battle for Endor which I’ve never seen… (CE)
  • Born July 30, 1961 Laurence Fishburne, 59. In The Matrix films. His voice work as Thrax in Osmosis Jones on the other hand is outstanding as is his role as Bill Foster in Ant-Man. (CE)
  • Born July 30, 1966 Jess Nevins, 54. Author of the superlative Encyclopedia of Fantastic Victorian and the equally great Heroes & Monsters: The Unofficial Companion to the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen which is far better than the film ever could be. I didn’t know he was an author ‘til now but he has two genre novels, The Road to Prester John and The Datong Incident. (CE)
  • Born July 30, 1967 – Ann Brashares, 53. Famous for The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants (that’s the U.S. meaning of “pants”, in this case a magical pair of blue jeans), a NY Times Best-Seller, and its sequels, films, companions.  Two more novels for us, one other.  Indies Choice Book Award, Quill Award.  Philosophy major (yay!) at Barnard, 1989.  [JH]
  • Born July 30, 1971 – Kristie Cook, 49.  Nine novels, a dozen shorter stories (some with co-authors; publishes Havenwood Falls shared-world stories, some wholly by others).  Loves cheese, chocolate, coffee, husband, sons, motorcycle.  “No, I’m not crazy.  I’m just a writer.”  [JH]
  • Born July 30, 1974 – Jacek Dukaj, 46.  Ten novels, half a dozen shorter stories, translated into Bulgarian, Czech, English (he’s a Pole), German, Hungarian, Italian, Macedonian, Russian, Slovak.  Six Zajdel Awards.  EU Prize for Literature.  Another writer with a Philosophy degree, from Jagiellonian University even.  His Culture.pl page (in English) is here.  [JH]
  • Born July 30, 1975 Cherie Priest, 45. Her southern gothic Eden Moore series is kickass good and Clockwork Universe series isa refreshing take on steampunk which has been turned into full cast audiobooks by GraphicAudio. I’ve not read Cheshire Red Reports novels so have no idea how they are. Anyone read these? (CE)

(13) NOW WITH MORE MASK. Ray’s playing it safe, I see. Incidentally, the Ray Bradbury Experience Museum is accepting RSVP’s here for entry during RBEM’s Ray Bradbury Centennial Celebration on August 22, 2020.

(14) OOPS. Marc Zicree has issued a video “Apology to the Science Fiction Writers of America,” for using their membership list to publicize Space Command.

(15) A DISSATISFIED CUSTOMER. And not only that, we line up for the opportunity!

(16) BACURAU. The Criterior Channel’s August lineup includes Bacurau on August 20, an exclusive streaming premiere, featuring an interview with directors Kleber Mendonça Filho and Juliano Dornelles.

(17) SHELFISHNESS. The Washington Post’s Michael Dirda finds it’s not that easy: “In turbulent times, culling my book collection gave me the illusion of control. Then the dilemmas began multiplying.”

… After all, who doesn’t periodically yearn to flee the nightmarish world we now live in? A persistent feeling of helplessness, frustration, anger and mild despair has emerged as the “New Normal” — which is one reason my recent reviews and essays tend to emphasize escapism, often into books from the past. A similar impulse lies behind the pruning of my basement hoard. Going through my many boxes, I am no longer the plaything of forces beyond my control. I have, to use a vogue term, agency. I alone decide which books to keep, which to let go.

However, making these decisions has turned out to be harder than I expected.

Here’s an example of what I mean. I’m fond of a slightly overwritten travel book called “A Time of Gifts” by English writer Patrick Leigh Fermor. It recounts in striking detail a walk across half of Europe undertaken by the young Leigh Fermor in 1933. Somehow, I possess four copies of this minor classic: a Penguin paperback that I read and marked up, an elegant Folio Society edition bought at the Friends of the Montgomery County Library bookstore, a later issue of the original John Murray hardback, and a first American edition in a very good dust jacket acquired for a bargain price at the Second Story Books warehouse. Given the space-saving principle of eliminating duplicates, I should keep just one copy. Which one?

(18) WIZARDS OF THE COST. NPR finds that “In The Pandemic Era, This ‘Gathering’ Has Lost Some Of Its Magic”.

You draw seven cards. You look at your hand. It would be perfect if you had that one card.

Too bad it costs $50. And your local game store is closed anyway.

Depending on where you lie on the nerd spectrum, you may or may not have heard of Magic: The Gathering. It’s a trading card game that’s been in production for almost three decades. Even if you haven’t heard of it or played it, you probably know someone who has. It’s one of the most popular trading card games of all time, and that isn’t an exaggeration; there are millions of Magic: The Gathering players worldwide.

…Before COVID-19 hit the Magic community, players packed into local game stores to sling spells and blow off steam. Now, as players move toward the online versions, there are additional financial hurdles to clear.

There’s a reason it’s called Magic: The Gathering. Most of the fun comes from squaring off against other players, catching the clandestine tells of your opponent as they draw powerful spells. Game stores across the country offer opportunities to play; they host tournaments, stock up on new cards and teach new wizards how to play.

But even if veteran players and shop owners welcome new Planeswalkers with open arms, how accessible is Magic: The Gathering?

Players can craft a variety of decks, and if they’re playing the more common formats of the game, a deck can cost anywhere from about $275 to $834 or more. Not only are full decks expensive, but so are individual cards. The card Thoughtseize, for instance, has a current value of around $25 per copy. If a deck contains four copies of a single card (the maximum), just that one card would bring the price of a deck up by $100. And there are much more expensive cards on the market.

…There is an online version of the game, but Magic Online isn’t cheap either. And while it isn’t as expensive as its cardboard counterpart, a player still has to buy new digital versions of physical cards they already own. On top of that, a Magic Online account costs $10 just to set up. And while a Magic veteran might jump at the opportunity to play online, a new player may feel less inclined to pay the fee when there are other online deck-building games, like Hearthstone, that are free to try.

In 2018, Magic’s publisher Wizards of the Coast released a free, digital version of the game called Magic: The Gathering Arena. It’s a more kid-friendly online option for new Planeswalkers, but it still has the same Magic charm for older players. Arena does include in-game purchases, but players can obtain better cards by grinding out a lot of games instead of spending extra money. And while Arena can be a great way to introduce a new player to the online format, if they don’t want to empty their wallets, they’ll have to get used to losing for a while.

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

Pixel Scroll 4/19/20 If You Like My File And You Think I’m Pixely, Come On Baby Let Me Scroll

(1) ’45 CALIBER. Ian Moore’s “Where to find the 1945 Retro Hugo Awards finalists” on Secret Panda is a Homeric compilation of publicly available material and alternative sources for learning about the Retro nominees. And it ends with a great cat photo.

…But what of the 1945 Retro Hugo Awards finalists? There is unlikely to be a Voter Packet for these, so how are Hugo Awards voters to go about making an informed choice here? Fortunately, many of the works that will be on the ballot are available online, either on the Internet Archive or elsewhere. Below I have compiled links to as many of these as I could find, and provided information about whether items are in print or otherwise…. 

(2) RESIZING THE FELLOWSHIP OF THE RING. The Hard Times reports “Middle Earth Temporarily Bans Fellowships of More Than Five”.

MINAS TIRITH — The White Council of the Wise issued a decree today that all fellowships in Middle Earth shall be no larger than five companions for at least the next quarter-age to help slow the spread of the Samund-01 curse that has already killed over 30,000 elves, dwarves, and men.

(3) BLACKOUT. Connie Willis blogged her “Journal Of The Coronavirus Year III”.

…It does feel like we’re living through another Black Death.

But in recent days, as the horrors of the coronavirus pandemic have begun to unfold,
I’ve also been reminded of similarities of this pandemic to the Blitz:

1. The disruption of our daily lives.
The orderly schedules of the British people was completely upended by the Blitz. People found themselves sleeping under the kitchen table or in basements or tube shelters. They went to work in the morning after a sleepless night with bombs falling overhead, only to find that their place of work was closed or bombed out, and when they went home, they found that had been bombed out, too. Everything changed in an instant. Theaters and museums were closed, and the way of life they’d always known disappeared overnight as if it had never been….

She comes up with three more parallels before concluding –

Everybody’s rising to the occasion, and, in spite of my having occasional worried thoughts about all of us becoming the crazy characters in Shirley Jackson’s WE HAVE ALWAYS LIVED IN THE CASTLE, we’re doing great. When this is all over, we’re going to be able to say, just like the British, “This was their finest hour.”

(4) SEEKING DONATIONS. The Ray Bradbury Experience Museum (RBEM) asks for help to open ‘The Martian Chronicles’ exhibit area for the Ray Bradbury Centennial celebration in “Green Town” in 2020. The donation link is here.

(5) WHO MEMORIAL. “Farewell, Sarah Jane” on the official Doctor Who YouTube channel.

Today marks the anniversary of the passing of Elisabeth Sladen, who played the Doctor’s friend Sarah Jane Smith. In a new video, scripted by Russell T Davies and narrated by Jacob Dudman, Sarah Jane Smith’s closest friends come together to say “Farewell, Sarah Jane”.

(6) MORE SARAH JANE. Coincidentally, SYFY Wire ran this story a couple of days ago — “Wire Buzz: Elizabeth Sladen’s Daughter In Doctor Who Radio Drama”.

Doctor Who is keeping it in the family.

Sadie Miller, the actress daughter of the late Elizabeth Sladen, is boarding the TARDIS in the role her mother made famous on the iconic BBC sci-fi series — that of intrepid investigative reporter Sarah Jane Smith — in Big Finish‘s highly anticipated audio drama Doctor Who: Return of the Cybermen.

(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born April 19, 1907 Alan Wheatley. Best remembered  for being the Sheriff of Nottingham in The Adventures of Robin Hood TV series, with Richard Greene playing Robin Hood. In 1951, he had played Sherlock Holmes in the first series about him, but no recordings of it are known to exist. And he was in Two First Doctor stories as Temmosus, “The Escape” and “The Ambush” where he was the person killed on screen by Daleks. (Died 1991.)
  • Born April 19, 1925 Hugh O’Brian. He was Harry Chamberlain in Rocketship X-M which you can see here. (It was nominated in the 1951 Retro Hugo Awards given at The Millennium Philcon but lost out to Destination Moon.)  He would later play Hugh Lockwood in Probe, the pilot for Search, and Search itself, an SF series. His only other genre appearance I think was playing five different roles on Fantasy Island. (Died 2016.)
  • Born April 19, 1933 W.R. Cole. Author of A Checklist of Science Fiction Anthologies, self-published In 1964. Ok, I’m including him today because I’m puzzled. SFE said of this work that ‘Though it has now been superseded and updated by William Contento’s indexes of Anthologies, it is remembered as one the essential pioneering efforts in Bibliography undertaken by sf Fandom.’  Was this really the first time someone compiled an index of anthologies? I seem to remember earlier efforts though I can’t remember precisely who. (Died 2002.)
  • Born April 19, 1935 Herman Zimmerman, 84. He was the art director and production designer who worked between 1987 and 2005 for the Trek franchise. Excepting Voyager, he worked on all other live-action productions including the first season of Next Gen, the entire runs of Deep Space Nine and Enterprise, as well as six Trek films. As Memory Alpha notes, “Together with Rick Sternbach he designed the space station Deep Space 9, with John Eaves the USS Enterprise-B and the USS Enterprise-E. His most recognizable work though, have been his (co-)designs for nearly all of the standing sets, those of the bridge, Main Engineering (co-designed with Andrew Probert) and Ten Forward for the USS Enterprise-D in particular.” Not surprisingly, he co-wrote the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Technical Manual with Rick Sternbach and Doug Drexler.
  • Born April 19, 1936 Tom Purdom, 84. There’s very little on him on the web, so I’ll let Michael Swanwick speak for him in the introduction to his Lovers & Fighters, Starships & Dragons collection: ‘How highly do I regard Tom’s fiction?  So highly that I wrote the introduction to the collection — and I hate writing introductions.  They’re a lot of work.  But these stories deserve enormous praise, so I was glad to do it.’  He’s written five novels and has either one or two collections of his stories. He’s deeply stocked at the usual digital suspects. 
  • Born April 19, 1946 Tim Curry, 74. Dr. Frank-N-Furter in The Rocky Horror Picture Show of course, but it’s not his first genre appearance as he’d appeared a year earlier at the Scottish Opera in A Midsummer Night’s Dream as Puck. And yes I know that he appeared in the live show which was at the Chelsea Classic Cinema and other venues before the film was done. Other genre appearances include playing Darkness in Legend, an outstanding Cardinal Richelieu  in The Three Musketeers, Farley Claymore in The Shadow (great role), another superb performance playing Long John Silver in Muppet Treasure Island and in Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead as The Player.
  • Born April 19, 1952 Mark E. Rogers. Best remembered for the Samurai Cat series which in the first book, The Adventures of Samurai Cat, lampooned Tolkien, Lovecraft and Howard. Indiana Jones. Burroughs’ Barsoom and Star Wars would also get their due. (Died 2014.)
  • Born April 19, 1967 Steven H Silver, 53. Fan and publisher, author, and editor. He has been nominated for the Hugo Award for Best Fan Writer twelve times and Best Fanzine four times.  He’s a longtime contributing editor to SF Site and has written that site’s news page since its beginning. Over twenty years ago, he founded the Sidewise Award for Alternate History and has served as a judge ever since. He publishes his own fanzine, Argentus, and is a Hugo nominee this year for his work on Journey Planet.
  • Born April 19, 1968 Ashley Judd, 52. Best known genre wise for playing Natalie Prior in the Divergent film franchise. She was also Carly Harris-Thompson in the Tooth Fairy film, and was Ensign Robin Lefler in a few episodes of Next Gen. She played Beverly Paige on several episodes of Twin Peaks as well. 

(8) GAULD Q&A. On NPR: “Scientists Are Human, Too: Questions For Cartoonist Tom Gauld”.

As a sci-fi and fantasy nerd, of course I love the cartoon of the scientist being tempted by science fiction. Where did that one come from?

I think the scientist character in that cartoon is a bit like me when I’m making these cartoons, because I have to resist the temptation to draw silly robots and over-the-top science fiction technology every week. I am a SF/F nerd myself and while that’s one of the things that draws me to science, I have to remind myself to look in all the different areas of science to find cartoon themes.

(9) MARLOWE AND THE QUEEN. Francis Hamit, who frequently shared with File 770 readers his experience as a writer publishing via early indie platforms, and has spent years trying to get a movie made, sends this update.

I dissolved the Kit Marlowe Film Co, Ltd in February after five years and one month of trying to get CHRISTOPHER MARLOWE produced.  My recent surgery for spinal stenosis, (the first of two with the second on hold now because of the pandemic) makes it impossible for me to produce anything, even if our great producer Gary Kurtz hadn’t died in September, 2018, the HMRC had not changed the EIS rules and Brexit had not changed all of the assumptions we had when we started the company in 2014.   I’m an old poker player.  I know when to fold a losing hand.  Rising from the ashes, however, is the five-time award-winning screenplay and the curious fact that BFI says our letter of comfort for the film tax relief can be used by any UK film production company.  That’s a twenty percent rebate on the spend in the UK.  But coronoavirus has shut down the entire industry in the USA and UK.  Except for “development” and I have that script and two others out for consideration.  (Details on Facebook). 

I also have a few hundred copies of The Shenandoah Spy and The Queen of Washington left in the distributor’s warehouse.  I am reducing the retail price to $12.95 and $14.95 respectfully.  This is slightly below my break-even point but will free up cash to get another book to market.  Regular publishing has ls shut down so it may be DIY for the one I’m working on now STARMEN, a multi-genre romp that begins in El Paso, Texas in 1875 with the Pinkertons, who investigated all sorts of strange things.  I might also do some crowd-funding. 

Anyway those who would like to buy a copy of either book should call Pathway Book Service at 1-800-345-6665.  The Shenandoah Spy is $12.95 plus shipping and handling and they take credit cards.  The Queen of Washington is  a hardbound at $14.95 plus shipping and handling.  Amazon has a few copies at the old prices but has stopped taking third party distributors’ books to deal with the emergency.  Both books are in e-book at $9.99 on Amazon Kindle and as audiobooks at  Audible, Amazon and iTunes, sometimes for free. 

Anyone who wants a signed copy should contact me directly. (francishamit@earthlink.net). (My other books are also available but not discounted.)

Direct sales will be $27.50 per book, $50 for two plus $5.00 shipping each and these will be signed.  I’m running out of copies here and will have to order some from Pathway, which costs me for shipping.  If they are able. In the current emergency.  We can’t be sure.   On the other hand they will be signed.

Gail Shalan and I are converting The Shenanoah Spy audiobook to a Young Adult title.  That simply means we are going to cut the more graphic sexual content. Probably less than a thousand words that won’t be missed.  Times have changed since 2008 when the book was first published and we don’t want to provide “triggers” that get some readers upset and detract from the story. That means the sexual content is still there but more is left to the imagination.  Gail’s performance will be intact.  BTW the audiobook is “free” if it is a title used to sign up for Audible and Gail and I split a nice bonus.

(10) RABBIT TRACKS. Up for sale are “Charming letters and early drawings by a young Beatrix Potter showing Peter Rabbit from the 1890s”Daily Mail has the story

An archive of early drawings and letters by children’s author Beatrix Potter have emerged for sale for £250,000.

The charming illustrations date from the 1890s when the writer was honing her craft and had not yet become a household name.

One drawing from 1894 shows Peter Rabbit seven years before the first of his famous tales was published.

(11) A MONSTROUS REGIMENT. JDA shares another secret of his success.

(12) A WELL-DONE ENDING. Richard Paolinelli auditions as a script doctor.

(13) MIDDLE-EARTH’S BOTTOM LINE. “Here’s how much money the Lord of the Rings franchise has made”Looper added it up. (If only they’d had a good script doctor!)

.. The first three films in Jackson’s Middle-earth franchise raked in nearly $3 billion worldwide. And no, that number doesn’t account for DVD or memorabilia sales, or the sale of the trilogy’s television broadcast rights.

(14) SFF ART ON THE BLOCK. Heritage Auctions’ 2020 April 24 Illustration Art Signature Auction online sale includes two cover paintings for Weird Tales: Virgil Finlay’s ‘The Thief of Forthe’ (July 1937) and Lee Brown Coye’s ‘The Vampire’ (July 1947).

(15) FROST READS. The editors of the Beatles-themed anthology Across the Universe, Michael A. Ventrella and Randee Dawn, are posting videos of various authors in the anthology reading from their work. Here, Gregory Frost reads “A Hard Day’s Night at the Opera.”

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

Pixel Scroll 2/26/20 The Scroll Goes Ever On And On, Down From The Pixel Where It Began

(1) AT LONG LAST. “‘Last and First Men’ Exclusive Trailer: Jóhann Jóhannsson’s Gorgeous First and Last Directorial Feature”

One the most emotional world premieres at the upcoming 2020 Berlin International Film Festival is bound to be “Last and First Men,” the directorial feature debut of the late Icelandic composer Jóhann Jóhannsson. The musician died in February 2018 at the age of 48 amid an acclaimed career that saw him score back-to-back Oscar nominations for Best Original Score in 2015 and 2016 thanks to his work on “The Theory of Everything” and “Sicario.” The latter was one of several collaborations between Jóhannsson and Denis Villeneuve. Jóhannsson’s other score credits include Villeneuve’s “Prisoners” and “Arrival,” plus “Mandy” and “The Mercy.” Jóhannsson served as a mentor to Hildur Guðnádottir, who recently won the Oscar for her “Joker” original score.

Jóhannsson’s only directorial feature, “Last and First Men” is an adaptation of his touring multimedia project of the same name. The movie — shot on 16mm black-and-white film with “Victoria” and “Rams” cinematographer Sturla Brandth Grøvlen — played in concert halls, accompanied by Jóhannsson’s score with a live orchestra. The feature film playing at Berlin includes the composer’s original score and narration from Tilda Swinton….

The Hollywood Reporter’s review of the film has this to say — 

Long considered one of the most unfilmable classics of science fiction, Last And First Men has been adapted to the screen by Oscar-nominated Icelandic composer Johann Johannsson. The results are being lauded as “dazzling” and “visionary. This might be one of the films I’m most anticipating this year. 

“Halfway between fiction and documentary, Last and First Men is a visionary work about the final days of humankind that stretches the audience’s ability to imagine not only an immense time frame reaching over billions of years, but huge steps in human evolution.”

(2) SOCIAL MEDIA NEVER FAILS TO GET WORSE. A Twitter thread contends Bronys (My Little Pony fandom) has been co-opted by white nationalists. Wootmaster’s thread starts here. Warning about the images, which is why the tweets are not fully reproduced here.

For many years the pony fandom has been a decidedly neutral, “apolitical” one. Even with its origins on 4chan, there was a sort of innocence and naivete that pervaded the fandom, and even the internet as a whole. Hell, even the 4chan of 2010 hardly resembled the 4chan of today….

Then in 2016 something happened that would transform both 4chan and the fandom forever, even if most bronies wouldn’t realize it for years. The polarization of politics reached its peak with the election of Donald Trump. Right-wing populism entered its heyday, with 4chan in tow….

Only a year later another event happened, almost in tandem with the first. For April Fool’s 2017 4chan’s then admin moot thought it’d be hilarious to combine several boards together. As a cheap joke, he combined My Little Pony and the political board into one entity. /mlpol/…

It was supposed to be a joke. The two communities should have hated each other. A fandom of full of guys who idolized a girl’s cartoon show, and community of far-right fascists LARPers who idolized hitler and wanted to massacre jews. But a strange thing happened. They got along.

(3) BRADBURY POSTERS. Three poster sets are being published by the Ray Bradbury Experience Museum (RBEM) through an Illinois Humanities grant. The poster sets are free for schools, libraries, and other public display.

Poster Set 1 currently available now: “How did I get from Waukegan to Red Planet Mars?” highlights places named for Ray Bradbury in Waukegan, Hollywood, on the Moon and, yes, even on Mars. Click here for full information.  Sets 2 and 3 will be available this spring.

How To Obtain   Download Poster Set 1 below! Limited additional poster sets are available. For more information, contact us or email terry@rbemuseum.org.

(4) MOOSE & SQUIRREL BACK IN TOWN. The City of West Hollywood will celebrate the permanent installation of the “Rocky & Bullwinkle” statue on the Sunset Strip at the intersection of Sunset Boulevard and Holloway Drive on March 28 at 10:00 a.m. “Rocky & Bullwinkle” Statue Unveiling.  Los Angeles Magazine traced the history of the icon last August: “WeHo Has Strong Feelings About a Rotating Moose Returning to the Sunset Strip”

He’s 14 feet tall, 700 pounds and, some would say, a bit of an icon.

A beloved spinning statue of Bullwinkle holding his friend Rocky was first installed outside Jay Ward Productions’ animations studios on the Sunset Strip in 1961, across the street from the Chateau Marmont. Meant to parody a twirling showgirl advertising the Sahara Hotel, Bullwinkle’s outfit would change colors whenever hers did, injecting a dose of silliness and whimsy into the Strip’s capitalist jousting.

The statue was hoisted away in 2013 to the lament of neighbors and fans, many of whom made their voices heard at a recent, bizarre West Hollywood city council meeting. The night’s agenda? Re-anointing the moose on a traffic island where Holloway and Sunset meet….

(5) CUSSLER OBIT. Dirk Pitt’s creator author Clive Cussler, who also funded searches for historic wrecks, died February 24. The New York Times traces his career: “Clive Cussler, Best-Selling Author and Adventurer, Is Dead at 88”.  (The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction has an entry about his work here.)

… Despite an improbable plot and negative reviews, “Raise the Titanic!” sold 150,000 copies, was a Times best seller for six months and became a 1980 film starring Richard Jordan and Jason Robards Jr.

While Dirk Pitt books appeared throughout his career, Mr. Cussler also wrote other series: “The NUMA Files,” featuring the hero Kurt Austin and written with Graham Brown or Paul Kemprecos; “The Fargo Adventures,” about husband-and-wife treasure hunters, written with Grant Blackwood or Thomas Perry; “The Oregon Files,” set on a high-tech spy ship disguised as a freighter, written with Jack DuBrul or Mr. Dirgo; and “The Isaac Bell Adventures,” about an early-20th-century detective, written with Justin Scott.

…With Mr. Cussler leading expeditions and joining dives, the organization eventually located some 60 wrecks. Among them were the Cunard steamship Carpathia, first to reach survivors of the lost Titanic on April 15, 1912, then itself sunk by German torpedoes off Ireland in 1918; Commodore Cornelius Vanderbilt’s coastal steamer Lexington, which caught fire and went down in Long Island Sound in 1840; and Manassas, the Confederacy’s first Civil War ironclad, sunk in battle in the Lower Mississippi in 1862.

(6) TODAY’S DAY.

What were once oral histories, myths, and legends retold around the fire or by traveling storytellers, have been written down and become known the world over as fairy tales.

The origins of most fairy tales were unseemly and would not be approved or rated as appropriate for children by the Association of Fairy Tales by today’s standards. Most were told as a way to make children behave, teach a lesson or pass the time much like ghost stories around a campfire today.

Many of the stories have some basis in truth. For example, some believe the story of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs is inspired by the real-life of Margarete von Waldeck, the daughter of the 16th century Count of Waldeck. The area of Germany where the family lived was known for mining. Some of the tunnels were so tight they had to use children – or small people such as dwarfs – to work the mines.

(7) TODAY IN HISTORY.

  • February 26, 1988 The Alien From L.A. premiered. directed by Albert Pyun. It was produced by Menahem Golan and Yoram Globus from a story written  by Regina Davis,  Albert Pyun and Debra Ricci.  It starred Kathy Ireland in what was supposed to be a break-out role for her. William Mose and Richard Haines also had lead roles with the latter playing Arnold Saknussemm, a reference to Arne Saknussemm in Verne’s Journey to the Center of the Earth. How it was received is best judged by it being featured in an episode of Mystery Science Theater 3000. Band the audience rating at Rotten Tomatoes is 4%.  You can see it here.
  • February 26, 1977 Doctor Who’s “The Talons Of Weng-Chiang, Part 1” first aired. It featured Tom Baker, one of the most liked of all the actors who’ve played The Doctor, and Leela, the archetypal savage that British Empire both adored and despised, played by Louise Jameson. The villain was most likely a not accidental take-off of Fu Manchu. You can see the first part here with links to the rest of the story there as well. 

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born February 26, 1921 Bill Evans. First Fandom member who wrote a number of important works, With Bob Pavlat, Evans edited/published the Evans-Pavlat Fanzine Index during the Fifties which he followed up with Index of Science Fiction Magazines 1926 – 1948 that Bob Petersen co-wrote. With Francis T. Laney, Evans published Howard Philips Lovecraft (1890-1937): A Tentative Bibliography. His final work was with Ron Ellik, The Universes of E. E. Smith. (Died 1985.)
  • Born February 26, 1918 Theodore Sturgeon. Damn, I hadn’t realized that he’d only written six novels! More Than Human is brilliant and I assumed that he’d written a lot more long form fiction but it was short form where he excelled with more than two hundred such stories. I did read over the years a number of his reviews — he was quite good at it. (Died 1985.) 
  • Born February 26, 1945 Marta Kristen, 75. Kristen is best known for her role as Judy Robinson, one of Professor John and Maureen Robinson’s daughters, in Lost in Space. And yes, I watched the entire series. Good stuff it was. She has a cameo in the Lost in Space film as Reporter Number One. None of her other genre credits are really that interesting, just the standard stuff you’d expect such as an appearance on The Man from U.N.C.L.E. and Alfred Hitchcock Presents
  • Born February 26, 1948 Sharyn McCrumb, 72. ISFDB lists all of her Ballad novels as genre but that’s a wee bit deceptive as how genre strong they are depends upon the novel. Oh, Nora Bonesteel, she who sees Death, is in every novel but only some novels such as the Ghost Riders explicitly contain fantasy elements.  If you like mysteries, all of them are highly recommended.  Now the Jay Omega novels, Bimbos of the Death Sun and Zombies of the Gene Pool are genre, are great fun and well worth reading. They are in print which is interesting as I know she took out of print for awhile.
  • Born February 26, 1957 John Jude Palencar, 63. Illustrator whose artwork graces over a hundred genre covers. In my collection, he’s on the covers of de Lint’s The Onion Girl and Forests of the Heart (one of my top ten novels of SFF), Priest’s Four & Twenty Blackbirds and Le Guin’s Tehanu: The Last Book of EarthseaOrigins: The Art of John Jude Palencar is a perfect look at his work and marvelous eye candy as well. 
  • Born February 26, 1963 Chase Masterson, 57. Fans are fond of saying that she spent five years portraying the Bajoran Dabo entertainer Leeta on Deep Space Nine which means she was in the background of Quark’s bar a lot though she hardly had lines. Her post-DS9 genre career is pretty much non-existent save one-off appearances on Sliders, the current incarnation of The Flash and Star Trek: Of Gods and Men, a very unofficial Tim Russ project. She has done some voice work for Big Finish Productions as of late. The series features as Vienna Salvatori, an “impossibly glamorous bounty hunter” as the publicity material puts it. 
  • Born February 26, 1965 Liz Williams, 55. For my money, her best writing by far is her Detective Inspector Chen series about the futuristic Chinese city Singapore Three, its favourite paranormal police officer Chen and his squabbles with Heaven and Hell. I’ve read most of them and recommend them highly. I’m curious to see what else y’all have read of her and suggest that I read.
  • Born February 26, 1977 Ingrid Oliver, 43. She’s played the rare secondary character in the Who verse who had a recurring presence as she was around for quite awhile and I’m going to let Doctor Who Online tell her tale: “She appeared in the 50th anniversary special of Doctor Who, ‘The Day of The Doctor’, as Osgood. She was seen wearing the Fourth Doctor’s iconic scarf. In November 2014 she appeared again as Osgood in the series finale of Peter Capaldi’s first series, dressed as The Doctor, this time mimicking Matt Smith’s 11th Doctor (shirt and red bow tie) as well as David Tennant’s 10th Doctor (blue trousers and red Converse shoes) as they faced the Cybermen, where she is vaporized by Missy.” 

(9) SCALING UP. George R.R. Martin is delighted by this news about “Real Life Prehistoric Dragons”.

This is really too cool.

A new genus of pteradon has been discovered, and named after the dragons of House Targaryen.

https://www.iflscience.com/plants-and-animals/soaring-dragonlike-dinosaur-named-for-game-of-thrones-house-targaryen/

I am delighted, needless to say.   Especially by the kind words of the discoverer, paleontologist Rodrigo Pegas, who is solidly on my side about dragons having two legs, not four, and pfui on those medieval heralds with their wyvern talk.

(10) ACQUISITION NEWS. Riverdale Avenue Books has acquired the assets of sff publisher Circlet Press, which specializes in science fiction erotica. They will continue to publish Circlet’s over 170-title catalog under a new Circlet imprint. Founder Cecilia Tan will remain on staff to edit upcoming titles.

Cecilia Tan. Photo by and © Andrew Porter

(11) NOT-SO-HIDDEN FIGURE. “This NASA Engineer Is Bringing Math And Science To Hip Hop” — transcript of NPR’s interview.

… DAJAE WILLIAMS: Mmm hmm. So I get to get in the cleanroom every day and do a lot of inspections on how tight a screw is being tight or how – are we keeping this hardware clean so that we don’t get our germs into space? We make sure this thing actually works once it is launched.

NADIA SOFIA, HOST: She loves her job, but it didn’t start that way. When Dajae got to NASA in 2018, just out of college…

WILLIAMS: It was very exciting, a little bit overwhelming. I suffered from a little bit of imposter syndrome, for sure – and a bit confusing, I will be honest.

SOFIA: What do you mean by a bit confusing?

WILLIAMS: There’s no women in my group. There are only a few African Americans in my group or people of color, for that matter. So nobody looks like me. No one acted like me. So it was definitely different, and I did not fit in.

SOFIA: That feeling of not fitting in at a place like NASA is something that Dajae is working to change. And she’s doing it in kind of an awesome way, a way that helped her fall in love with math and science when she was a teenager.

WILLIAMS: (Singing) Energy of force, mathematics, studying the Big Bang. I’m observing something, and it may be nothing. A hypothesis could change the game, OK.

(12) SURGIN’ VIRGIN. We’re not quite at the stage of “Requiem”, the Heinlein story in which people can take short rocket rides at county fairs, but “Virgin Galactic sees demand for space travel surge”.

Virgin Galactic has said it will release more tickets for flights into space amid surging demand.

Sir Richard Branson’s firm, which completed its first sub-orbital test flight in 2018, said it had received almost 8,000 registrations of interest for future commercial flights.

That is more than double the amount it recorded at the end of September 2019.

The firm has so far sold 600 tickets for its inaugural flights, scheduled for later this year.

(13) NOSTALGIA. They’re obsolete but coming back — “Solari boards: The disappearing sound of airports”?

As day turns to night in Singapore’s Changi Airport, a queue of people wait patiently for a picture with an old star.

They leave their bags by a bench, turn their cameras on themselves, and pose for a photo.

Some smile; some jump like starfish; one even dances. As they upload to Instagram, the old star watches on, unmoved.

And then – a noise. The moment they’ve been waiting for. The travellers turn their cameras round, and the star begins one last turn.

In a blur of rotation, Kuala Lumpur becomes Colombo; Brunei turns into Tokyo; and a dozen other cities whirr into somewhere else.

Two people taking photos, Eileen Lim and Nicole Lee, aren’t even flying. They have come especially to see the departures board.

“It’s therapeutic to see the names turn round,” says Eileen, a teacher in Singapore. “And that sound – I love it.”

Every time she comes to Terminal 2, Eileen takes a photo with the board. But now, she is saying goodbye.

In less than three hours, the hoardings will come up, and the sign will come down. Changi Airport, like hundreds of others already, will whirr, spin, and flap for the final time.

…Solari di Udine, as it is now known, was founded in 1725 – more than 250 years before Changi Airport opened – in a small town in northern Italy. It specialised in clocks for towers.

After World War Two, the company began working with designer Gino Valle. He and Remigio Solari developed a sign with four flaps, each containing ten digits – perfect for telling the time.

The now-familiar design, with white numbers on black flaps, won the prestigious Compasso D’Oro award in 1956. In the same year, Solari sold its first moving sign to Liege railway station in Belgium.

…In 2013, six engineers who worked together at Drexel University, Philadelphia, formed Oat Foundry – a company that built “cool mechanical things for brands and companies”.

Three years later, they were approached by a “fast-casual” restaurant who wanted to display orders in a “non-digital way…without guests bathing in that blue light glow”.

The client suggested “an old-school train departure board”, and, after four months of research, they had a prototype.

The product was a mixture of old – they tested a number of materials “to get that iconic sound of 1960s airports and stations” – and new: it was integrated with an iPad point of sales system.

[Thanks to Rob Thornton, Olav Rokne, JJ, Cat Eldridge, Martin Morse Wooster, Chip Hitchcock, Mike Kennedy, John King Tarpinian, Steven H Silver, Michael Toman, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Xtifr.]

Museum Moves Towards Bradbury Centennial

By Steven H Silver: On August 22, 1920, Esther and Leonard Bradbury became parents to a son they named Ray Douglas Bradbury in Waukegan, Illinois. A century later, the city of Waukegan is preparing to remember this child who grew up to write the novels Dandelion Wine, Something Wicked This Way Comes, and Farewell Summer, all of which take their inspiration from his childhood in Waukegan, which he called Green Town in many of his writings, by opening a museum, The Ray Bradbury Experience Museum (RBEM).

On January 9, 2020, I attended an event thrown by the committee behind the museum. Held in a storefront at 13 N. Genessee Street, a block east of the Lake County courthouse and a block south from the Genesee Theatre, this storefront is in the process of being transformed into the museum, with the intention of phase one being ready for the public in time for the centennial of Ray Bradbury’s birth.

Bradbury’s childhood home at 11 S. James St.

At the moment, the building isn’t much to look at. Signs in the window announce the imminence of the museum, along with a poster that outlines the way Bradbury has been honored throughout the solar system. The interior of the building is currently even less impressive than the exterior: a mostly empty warren of halls and rooms that are undergoing construction, awaiting the installation of exhibits.

The front room was filled with rows of chairs, a large monitor, a podium, and a variety of displays related to Bradbury’s career and his life in Waukegan. One wall included framed magazines that included Bradbury’s work including the original serialization of Fahrenheit 451, another wall had posters describing his ties to Waukegan, including a picture of his childhood home at 11 S. James Street, about half a mile from the museum.

I was greeted at the door by Sandy Petroshius, the Chair of RBEM. She asked about me and the next thing I knew I was being introduced to Michael Stoltz, a member of the Mars Society who had joined the RBEM board to help run their publicity. We chatted for a while and I made my way around the room, looking at the displays.

We were asked to sit down and Petroshius took to the podium and welcomed us all. She pointed out that Waukegan has already embraced Bradbury and that last year Ray Bradbury Park was named a national literary landmark and a sculpture showing Bradbury riding a rocket was installed outside the Waukegan Public Library. Finally, she introduced Sam Cunningham, the mayor of Waukegan.

Cunningham pointed out that Waukegan was also represented by several of their alderman, the city clerk, and other dignitaries. He spoke about what Bradbury’s pride in Waukegan and what the author means to the city, and spoke of how the RBEM would assist in making the community of Waukegan into a destination. Cunningham also announced that although the plans weren’t finalized yet, Waukegan was planning a massive celebration in August to coincide with the centennial.

Other members of the RBEM committee also spoke. Vance D. Wyatt discussed the importance of showcasing Bradbury’s books and his tie to Waukegan to help inspire local students. Living in a city in which a quarter of the population lives below the poverty line and unemployment has fluctuated in the last year between 4.2% and 9.5%, it is important for them to see that people from Waukegan can, and have succeeded.

Wyatt was followed by Pat O’Keefe who has traveled around the world and spoken to people about Ray Bradbury’s influence on their lives and their reading. O’Keefe talked about the awards Bradbury has won, and those named in his honor, the adaptations of his work for film, television, and radio, and showed some artifacts of Bradbury’s career. When I was speaking to him after the presentations, I learned he had never seen the Ray Bradbury Award he had mentioned. Since I had some pictures of it on my phone from the last Nebula Conference, I showed them to him.

Pat O’Keefe

Michael Edgar, the President of the Greater Waukegan Development Coalition, took the podium next. As noted above, Waukegan suffers from unemployment and poverty. The RBEM is part of a multi-year renovation project the city is undergoing. Edgar discussed the ways Waukegan is working to support and attract businesses to Waukegan and spoke about RBEM’s role in boosting Waukegan’s downtown.

The next speaker was Mikayla Khramov, who is a film documentarian who did her Master’s thesis on Bradbury’s Green Town and is currently working on a documentary entitled Dear Ray Bradbury. She previewed the opening of the film, which she expects to finish in time for the centennial and which will be a feature length film. She also showed a short film that she’s working on called “I Met Ray,” which has short interviews with people who have come into contact with Bradbury, either directly or through his works. In addition to featuring several citizens of Waukegan, the film also featured actor Joe Mantegna, who starred in The Wonderful Ice Cream Suit and who co-produced the 2013 documentary Live Forever: The Ray Bradbury Odyssey.

Mikayla Khramov

While the event so far had been entertaining and informative, the real purpose of the evening was about to happen, although it was also the part that was least connected directly to Bradbury. Local H&R Block franchisees Feroze and Samia Hanif had been selected as an H&R Block Franchisee of the Year. They were lauded by Karen Orosco, a Senior Vice President of the firm who had flown in from their Kansas City headquarters to recognize the Hanifs and present them with a check for $10,000. The Hanifs, in turn presented a check for $10,000 to RBEM to help with their efforts to complete the first phase of the museum.

The museum’s exhibits are being designed by Chicago Exhibit Productions, with a team headed by Keith Michalek. Michalek stepped in front of the audience with the meatiest part of the evening. He explained the difference between an experiential museum and a display museum. The goal of the RBEM would be to take whatever image a visitor had of Bradbury and his work when they entered the museum and to transform it before they left through hands-on, interactive exhibits that would not remain static, but would change.

Keith Michalek

The museum would have seven rooms, with each room having a different focus. The room we were all sitting in, the Martian Chronicle room, would focus on space exploration. Other rooms would include a biographical exhibit about Bradbury, the Fahrenheit 451 room which would aim to explore freedom of expression, censorship, and creativity. The Something Wicked room wood look at horror, fantasy, and circuses. The Dandelion Wine room would be devoted to libraries, books, and the tie between Bradbury and Waukegan. The remaining rooms would focus on tributes to Bradbury by other creatives and a viewing room where films and television shows based on Bradbury’s works and documentaries about Bradbury could be screened.

The organization clearly has detailed plans for the museum and the images Michalek showed of the concepts for their exhibits appear well thought out. In addition to the interactive exhibits, the museum plans on holding a variety of events to inform and interact with the public.

And I did find my visit transformative, even if the displays are not installed yet. I walked into the event to learn about what the museum was going to have to offer and perhaps get a sneak preview of their exhibits. By the time I left, I had made plans to talk to various members of the board to find out what I could do to help bring the museum and their vision to fruition.