Pixel Scroll 10/20/20 Obi-Wan Said, Padawan, You’re Gonna Drive Me To Stalking If You Don’t Stop Flying That Millennial Falcon

(1) THE DOCTOR AND ROSE. Bustle previews a new installment of David Tennant Does A Podcast With…Billie Piper.

…Tennant met Piper 15 years ago on the set of Doctor Who. He entered in her second series and it’s hard looking back to imagine it as anything other than an immediate success. However, Piper said that when Dr Who was brought back to our screens with Christopher Eccleston in the leading role, that wasn’t the case. “When we started making it, everyone said it was going to be a failure. So you just didn’t imagine it being on for longer than three months,” she said. “Imagining that 15 years later, it’s still probably the biggest job you will have ever done and you’ll still be talking about it and going off and meeting people and, you know, celebrating it… That was a big reach.”

… Thinking about whether the reboot would be popular wasn’t the only thing on Piper’s mind. Doctor Who was the first big acting role she got after leaving the music world. “I wanted to prove myself as an actress; to myself, family, and this dream I had,” she said, “people don’t greet you with open arms when you’re trying new things, especially in this country. The attitude is very much ‘let’s see it then.’” Piper and Tennant made such a lasting impact on the series they’ve bot returned for guest appearances in Doctor Who.

Listen to the full conversation between Tennant and Piper at the link.

(2) THE ANCESTORS. Vulture’s Lila Shapiro profiles Rebecca Roanhorse and challenges to her as an “OwnVoices” writer in “The Sci-Fi Author Reimagining Native History”.

…Roanhorse is speaking from her home in Santa Fe, overlooking the Sun and Moon mountains. She lives there with her husband, a Diné (or Navajo) artist, and their 12-year-old daughter. She rarely speaks with her birth mother. “I’m sure some people may come home and find joy,” she said, “but that has not been my experience.” Her new book, Black Sun, is an epic set in an imaginary world inspired by the indigenous cultures of North America as they were before European explorers invaded the shores of the continent. Her work has been embraced by the literary world and often appears on lists of the best “OwnVoices” fantasy novels. (The phrase, which originated in 2015 as a Twitter hashtag and has since turned into a publicity tool, signifies that the author shares the same background or experiences as the characters they write.) And since entering the scene a few years ago, she’s already received many of the genre’s most prestigious awards. Black Sun, which was published on October 13, was one of the most eagerly anticipated titles of the fall. Some have compared it to the monumental achievements of N.K. Jemisin and George R.R. Martin. Screen adaptations of several projects are already underway.

But within Native communities, the book’s reception has been mixed. Although Roanhorse has many Native fans who have hailed her work as groundbreaking and revelatory, she also has a number of vocal detractors. Not long after her debut, Trail of Lighting, was published, a group of Diné writers released a letter accusing her of cultural appropriation, mischaracterizing Diné spiritual beliefs, and harmful misrepresentation. They took issue with Roanhorse’s decision to write a fantasy inspired by Diné stories, since she is only Diné by marriage, and wondered why she hadn’t written about her “own tribe,” referring to the Ohkay Owingeh people of New Mexico. Some have even expressed doubts about Roanhorse’s Native ancestry and her right to tell Native stories at all.

At a time when the publishing industry is throwing open its doors to authors who traditionally faced barriers to entry, the controversy over Roanhorse’s work reveals a fault line in the OwnVoices movement. Native identity is exceptionally complex. It consists of hundreds of cultures, each of which has its own customs. Further complicating all this is the fact that Roanhose grew up estranged from Native communities, an outsider through no choice of her own. This complexity is reflected in her writing — both her debut and her latest work concern protagonists who are at odds with their communities. “I’m always writing outsiders,” she says. “Their journey is usually about coming home, and sometimes they wished they’d stayed away.”

(3) MEET MR. SCIENCE. At Black Gate, Doug Ellis browses a pamphlet sent to drum up advertising for Analog in the early Sixties: “A Man of Science: A Study of the Readership of Analog Science Fact-Fiction. (Scans of the pamphlet can be read at the link.)

… The report discusses how Mr. Science’s income is about double that of Mr. Average’s, and that 38.4% of Mr. Science have had graduate study, compared to 2.3% of Mr. Average. It discusses various professional societies Mr. Science belongs to, and the credentials of some of its authors. It also spends two pages touting the background and editorship of John Campbell….

(4) A CLOSE SCRAPE. “NASA’s OSIRIS-REx Spacecraft Successfully Touches Asteroid” reports the space agency. Still awaiting word on sample quality as of this PR.

NASA’s Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, Security, Regolith Explorer (OSIRIS-REx) spacecraft unfurled its robotic arm Tuesday, and in a first for the agency, briefly touched an asteroid to collect dust and pebbles from the surface for delivery to Earth in 2023.

This well-preserved, ancient asteroid, known as Bennu, is currently more than 200 million miles (321 million kilometers) from Earth. Bennu offers scientists a window into the early solar system as it was first taking shape billions of years ago and flinging ingredients that could have helped seed life on Earth. If Tuesday’s sample collection event, known as “Touch-And-Go” (TAG), provided enough of a sample, mission teams will command the spacecraft to begin stowing the precious primordial cargo to begin its journey back to Earth in March 2021. Otherwise, they will prepare for another attempt in January.

… All spacecraft telemetry data indicates the TAG event executed as expected. However, it will take about a week for the OSIRIS-REx team to confirm how much sample the spacecraft collected.

(5) LEHRER GOES PUBLIC. [Item by Daniel Dern.] Tom Lehrer has put all his lyrics in the public domain: Songs and Lyrics by Tom Lehrer. The site includes lyrics and sheet music, but, alas, no recordings.

My rough quick count shows about 45 songs I’m familiar with (including several from The Electric Company, of which at least four are on a Lehrer multi-CD compilation and on Spotify), although some posted include revisions and/or private versions (and, according to a separate list poster, not all known revisions/updates). Also about 60 songs that I’ve never heard of.

By the way, the home page advises: “Note: This website will be shut down on December 31, 2024, so if you want to download anything, don’t wait too long.”

As noted, some of the Electric Company songs are on (free) Spotify. And elsewhere, like YouTube (search “Tom Lerher Electric Company”). (And see http://www.tomlehrer.org/covers/electric.html for related info.)

I also recommend the (PBS) Tom Lehrer Live In Copenhagen concert, from decades ago, it shows what a great (IMHO) performer he is – available here at the Internet Archive.

(6) THE VERDICT ON CATS. John Hodgman ruled on a thorny issue in the February 16 New York Times Magazine.

Question: My friend Abby insists that the movie CATS is good.  She has even persuaded our friends to perform a live version of it on her backyard on St. Valentine’s Day.  She says this is not a sarcastic bit.  Please order her to admit that this is some sort of joke.

HODGMAN:  I am truly impartial, as I have never seen either the film or the stage production of CATS.  However, I have processed enough of my friends’ trauma after they watched the recent movie to establish these principles:  1) There is no way Abby can actually replicate the C.G.I. strangeness of that movie unless her backyard is a literal uncanny valley; 2) Thus, Abby is simply putting on the stage version of CATS, which everyone seems to have liked, even without sarcasm; 3) People like what they like, and it’s not your job to police your friends’ Jellicle thoughts.  Happy Valentine’s Day.  Now and forever.

(7) HE’S DEAD, JAMES. ‘Tis the season – so James Davis Nicoll lists “Five SFF Books Built Around Dead People (Or Mostly Dead People)”. Was Miracle Max wrong when he said “If he were all dead, there’s only one thing you can do”?

Inherit the Stars by James P. Hogan (1977)

Charlie is an enigma: a human corpse found in a cave on the Moon. A missing man should be easy to identify, given how few humans have made it out into space. Inexplicably, all of them can be accounted for. So who is the dead man?…

(8) ANOTHER DAM BOOKSTORE. “A Surreal New Bookstore Has Just Opened in China”Architectural Digest takes a look inside.

…For a book lover, stepping into a bookstore is always exciting, but a new bookstore in China makes the experience absolutely spellbinding. Dujiangyan Zhongshuge, located in Chengdu, was designed by Shanghai-based architecture firm X+Living, which has created several locations for Zhongshuge. The two-story space appears cathedral-like, thanks to the mirrored ceilings and gleaming black tile floors which reflect the bookcases, creating a visual effect that feels akin to an M.C. Escher drawing. “The mirror ceiling in the space is the signature of Zhongshuge bookstore,” says Li Xiang, founder of X+Living. “It effectively extends the space by reflection.”

Upon entering, shoppers encounter C-shaped bookcases, which create a series of intimate spaces. In the center of the store, towering arches and columns take advantage of the full height of the space. These bookcases were inspired by the history and topography of the region. “We moved the local landscape into the indoor space,” says Li. “The project is located in Dujiangyan, which is a city with a long history of water conservancy development, so in the main area, you could see the construction of the dam integrated into the bookshelves.”

(9) FUTURE-CON. The success of their first event has encouraged Future-Con’s organizers to keep going. Thread starts here.

(10) MEDIA ANNIVERSARY.

  • 1979 — Forty one years ago, Robert Heinlein’s The Number of The Beast first saw publication as a serial staring with the October issue of Omni magazine which was edited by Ben Bova and Frank Kendig. New English Library would offer the first edition of it, a United Kingdom paperback, the following January. Fawcett Gold Medal / Ballantine would print the first U.S. edition, again a paperback, that summer. There would be no hardcover until twenty-years after it first came out when SFBC did one. It did not make the final voting list for Best Novel Hugo at Noreascon Two. It won no other awards. 

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]

  • Born October 20, 1882 Bela Lugosi. He’s best remembered for portraying Count Dracula in the 1931 film franchise Drácula. He came to hate that he played that character feeling he’d been Typecast. Now tell me what’s your favorite film character that he played? (Died 1956.) (CE)
  • Born October 20, 1905 Frederic Dannay. One half with Manfred Bennington Lee of the writing team who created Ellery Queen.  ISFDB lists two Ellery Queen novels as being genre, And on the Eight Day and The Scrolls of Lysis, plus a single short story, “ A Study in Terror”. (Died 1982.) (CE) 
  • Born October 20, 1906 – Crockett Johnson.  Of this simple genius – that’s praise – I wrote here: Barnaby and Mr. O’Malley, Harold and the purple crayon, the geometricals.  A commenter mentioned Barkis.  Also there’s The Carrot Seed; more.  Fantagraphics’ fourth volume of Barnaby reprints is scheduled for 1 Dec 20.  (Died 1975) [JH]
  • Born October 20, 1923 – Erle M. Korshak, 97.  Sometimes known as “Mel”, hello Andrew Porter.  Here he is with other pioneers at Nycon I the 1st Worldcon.  Committee secretary, Chicon I the 2nd Worldcon.  His Shasta Publishers an early provider of hardback SF 1947-1957; after its end, EMK dormant awhile, then Shasta-Phoenix arose 2009 publishing classic SF art.  First Fandom Hall of Fame.  Barry Levin Lifetime Collector’s Award.  Announced as First Fandom Guest of Honor, Chicon 8 (80th Worldcon, 2022).  [JH]
  • Born October 20, 1934 Michael Dunn. He’s best remembered  for his recurring role on the Wild Wild West as Dr. Miguelito Loveless, attempting to defeat our heroes over and over, but he has had another appearances in genre television. He would be Alexander, a court jester, in the Trek “Plato’s Stepchildren” episode and a killer clown in the Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea “The Wax Men” episode. (Died 1973.) (CE)
  • Born October 20, 1937 – Betsy Haynes, 83.  Eighty novels of history, mystery, comedy, the supernatural.  In The Dog Ate My Homework a girl using a magic word can make things happen; to escape a test she says the school has been taken over by giant termites: suddenly she hears giant crunching steps.  Two dozen Bone Chillers by BH became a television series, some based on her books, some by other authors although BH appeared at the end of each saying Use your imagination.  [JH]
  • Born October 20, 1941 Anneke Wills, 79. She was Polly, a companion to the Second and Third Doctors. She was also in Doctor Who: Devious, a fan film in development since 1991 with live-action scenes mostly completed by 2005 but the film still not released I believe. You can see the first part here. (CE)
  • Born October 20, 1955 – Greg Hemsath, 65.  Active in Los Angeles fandom during the 1980s.  While rooming with local fan Talin, worked on The Faery Tale Adventure, a computer game for the Amiga; here is a map Greg and Bonnie Reid made.  Here is Talin in the “Dream Knight” vacuum-formed fantasy armor Greg helped with.  Remarks from Greg appear in Bill Rotsler fanzines.  Greg told Loscon XXVIII he was a past Guildmaster of the Crafters’ Guild of St. Gregory the Wonderworker.  Applying that title to Greg himself would be disrespectful, so I shan’t.  [JH]
  • Born October 20, 1958 Lynn Flewelling, 61. The lead characters of her Nightrunner series are both bisexual, and she has stated this is so was because of “the near-absence of LGBT characters in the genre and marginalization of existing ones.” (As quoted in Strange Horizon, September 2001) The Tamír Triad series is her companion series to this affair (CE) 
  • Born October 20, 1961 – Kate Mosse, O.B.E., 59.  Author of fiction, some historical; playwright, journalist e.g. The TimesThe GuardianBookseller; broadcaster e.g. Readers’ and Writers’ Roadshow on BBC Four.  For us, three Languedoc novels (she and husband lived there awhile), two more.  Co-founded the Women’s Prize for Fiction.  Officer of the Order of the British Empire.  First female executive director of Chichester Festival Theatre.  [JH]
  • Born October 20, 1966 – Diana Rowland, 54.  Marksmanship award in her Police Academy class.  Black Belt in Hapkido.  Math degree from Georgia Tech but has tried to forget.  Eight novels about Kara Gillian accidentally summoning a demon prince, and then what.  Six about white trash zombies.  A story in Wild Cards 26; half a dozen more.  [JH]
  • Born October 20, 1977 Sam Witwer, 43. He’s had many genre roles — Crashdown in Battlestar Galactica, Aidan Waite in Being Human, Davis Bloome in Smallville, Mr. Hyde in Once Upon a Time and Ben Lockwood in Supergirl. He has voiced Starkiller in Star Wars: The Force Unleashed, The Son in Star Wars: The Clone Wars,  was the Emperor Palpatine in Star Wars Rebels. and also voiced Darth Maul in Star Wars: The Clone WarsStar Wars Rebels and Solo: A Star Wars Story. (CE)

(12) COMICS SECTION.

  • Off The Mark shows why witches prefer cats.
  • Crankshaft knows who to call when you absolutely, positively have to have a facemask right away.

(13) SALADIN AHMED LEAVING MS. MARVEL. In January, writer Saladin Ahmed and artist Minkyu Jung will end their run on Magnificent Ms. Marvel with an oversized finale issue.

Since launching last year, Magnificent Ms. Marvel has been a revolutionary era for Kamala Khan, with surprising developments in both her personal life and burgeoning super hero career. Between saving the alien planet of Saffa to fighting against the mysterious and deadly entity known as Stormranger, Kamala Khan also teamed up with new allies to defend her home of Jersey City.

Ahmed and Jung will end this thrilling journey with an issue that sees Ms. Marvel facing down Stormranger with the help of new hero Amulet, all while confronting the ongoing drama surrounding her family and friends. The special giant-sized issue also happens to the be the 75th issue of Kamala Khan’s solo adventures and will be a worthy capstone to a run that has greatly enhanced the legacy of one of Marvel’s brightest stars.

Here’s what Saladin had to say about closing out his tenure on the title:

“Forget super heroes, Kamala Khan is just plain one of the most important fictional characters of her generation. I knew that was true even before I came to write comics. But meeting and hearing from fans since launching The Magnificent Ms. Marvel has made it clearer and clearer. Kamala means so much to so many! Muslim readers. South Asian readers. But also people of all ages and cultures from all over the world who want to root for a selfless, kindhearted (possibly slightly dorky) hero in this grim, stingy era.

“Minkyu Jung’s pencils and designs went effortlessly from the streets of Jersey City to the alien plains of Saffa to night sky battles, always maintaining the human emotion that drives this book. From homicidal battlesuits to awkward conversations, he constantly pushed our story in new visual directions. I can’t imagine a more perfect artist for this run, and I’m so happy we got to work together.

“Of course a hero’s myth becomes most fully realized when it is passed between storytellers, changing with each telling. We’ve brought Kamala face to face with new enemies and to new places in her personal life, sent her to space and to the edge of the law. Now others will tell her story their way. I can’t wait to see what that looks like.”

(14) LIVING IN THE PRESENT. In the Washington Post, David Betancourt interviews Star Trek: Discovery star Sonequa Martin-Green, who says she gave birth to her second child in July.  She promotes the series (where filming wrapped in March) as well as her appearance in the forthcoming Space Jam 2. “Sonequa Martin-Green stars in a future she hopes one day can be a reality”.

 .. The year 2020 and all that has come with it has been a monumental one for Martin-Green, who has become the face of the next generation of “Star Trek” storytelling while also strengthening her voice in support of the Black Lives Matter movement in a moment of American social awakening. She and her husband, “Walking Dead” actor Kenric Green, welcomed their second child, Saraiyah Chaunté Green, on July 19 (via a home birth that was planned pre-pandemic). Martin-Green describes 2020 as a “doozy” but says that, despite all its difficulties, it will always be highlighted by the birth of her daughter.

This year’s racial reckoning in America has weighed heavily on Martin-Green, an Alabama native, who says she is keenly aware of the “new” and in some cases “old” world that awaits her Black children.

“Being Black in America, but also being raised in the South — where racism is quite in your face, it’s not so subtle down there — I feel like this is a time of exposure and a time of enlightenment,” Martin-Green said.

(15) TAKE COVER. “Wear a Mask” parodies the “Be Our Guest” number from Beauty and the Beast.

(16) SPIRITS QUEST. Richard Foss will offer a free virtual talk for the Palos Verdes Library called “Imbibing LA: Boozing it Up in the City of Angels” on October 29 at 7 p.m. reports EasyReader News.

In the talk he explores the history of alcohol in Los Angeles, which the library describes as a “historical center of winemaking and brewing, a region where cocktails were celebrated by movie stars and hunted down by prohibitionists, and a place where finely balanced drinks and abysmal concoctions were crafted by bartenders and celebrities. This talk explores that lively history from the first Spaniards to the end of Prohibition.”

Foss says if you want to appreciate the skill and the artistry of a chef or a bartender or anyone else who is in the restaurant industry, “it helps to know the cultural background, and that’s one of the things that I try to do with this particular talk. It’s about the history of drinking in Los Angeles from the time of the Spanish on to the current era.”

…When not reviewing restaurants or giving talks about food history, Foss is busy curating an exhibition for the Autry Museum of the American West called “Cooking up a New West.”

It’s about the waves of immigration that came to California and how it changed the way America eats. “At the time I proposed this I didn’t think of it as remotely political but in the current environment anything that you do about the value immigrants have added to our culture has suddenly become more political than it used to be.”

The exhibit is expected to open in 2021.

Readers can register for “Imbibing LA: Boozing it Up in the City of Angels” here.

(17) SETTING THE BAR WHERE IT BELONGS. [Item by Dann.] I came across this via Grimdark Magazine: “Five Things Netflix Must Get Right For Conan”. I didn’t see any mention of this development until recently. FWIW, I think their points are pretty good. I would summarize them as:

  • Conan should be a character that demonstrates violence
  • Conan is more than a brooding hulk of muscles.  Get the character right by reflecting his humor and intelligence.
  • Get the casting right.  The lead actor has to be a physical specimen capable of presenting a broad array of emotions.
  • Respect and represent the source material.
  • This isn’t generic fantasy.  RE Howard created a complete alternative history and mythos.  Use that creation to tell better stories.

I’ve got a Kindle edition of the complete Conan stories by RE Howard.  I’ll read a story or two in between novels.  Too many times, it turns into a story or ten!

(18) HARRY POTTER AND THE LIBERATED TOME. MailOnline is hot on the trail: “Harry Potter and the £40k lost library book: Bosses at British reading centre want to reclaim book that went missing two decades ago… before selling for a fortune at US auction”.

… The book was one of three original editions of JK Rowling’s debut purchased by the city’s library in 1997. Only 500 hardbacks were ever printed.

In 2004, two were sold to raise extra money. It was then that staff discovered that the third was missing.

Its whereabouts remained a mystery until it appeared at Heritage Auctions in Dallas, Texas, being sold by a Californian owner. A Portsmouth City Library stamp inside the book appears to be from August 1997.

It went on to sell for $55,000 (£42,500), nearly three times its $20,000 estimate.

Portsmouth City Council library service says the book in question was not officially checked out.

Eric Bradley, Heritage Auctions’ public relations director, told the BBC: ‘If the Portsmouth library was interested in getting it back… I think it would set a precedent, because I think it would be the first time a library took a serious case to reclaim a Harry Potter book.’

(19) SECRET HISTORY. Is this how Europe got fractured?

(20) VIDEO OF THE DAY. In “The Hobbit:  The Desolation of Smaug Pitch Meeting” on ScreenRant, Ryan George explains the reason the hobbits can float down a raging river on barrels without the barrels filling up with water is that they’re on the river of questionable physics.”

[Thanks to Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, Jeffrey Smith, Dann, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, John Hertz, Michael Toman, John King Tarpinian, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel “Confuse The Force, Luke” Dern.]

Pixel Scroll 7/21/2017 It’s 1500 Miles To Helsinki, We’ve Got A Full Tank Of Pixels, Half A Pack Of Scrolls, It’s Dark, And We’re Wearing Peril-Sensitive Sunglasses. Hit It!

(1) EATING THE FANTASTIC. Scott Edelman invites everyone to “Down drunken noodles with George R. R. Martin in Episode 43 of Eating the Fantastic”.

Some of might know him from the superhero short stories such as “Manta Ray Meets the Executioner” he was publishing in the ’60s in one of the greatest fanzines of all time, Star Studded Comics (which is where, as a young teen, I first encountered him), or as the creator and editor of the long-running Wild Cards series of mosaic, multi-author novels, some may know him better from such award-winning short fiction as “Sandkings” and “The Pear-Shaped Man,” or novels like Fevre Dream and The Armageddon Rag, while still others might know him best from his TV work … like … you know … The Twilight Zone and Beauty and the Beast—and don’t forget Max Headroom!

We discussed why he was annoyed Marvel Comics printed his letters but DC never did, the reason Gardner Dozois was responsible for his first science fiction short story sale, how the rock ‘n’ roll novel Armageddon Rag got him a job on the rebooted Twilight Zone, what he learned from the arc of Stephen R. Donaldson’s career, how losing the John W. Campbell Memorial Award got him his first editing gig, why he almost became a realtor, the time Harlan Ellison convinced him to apply to be the editor of Analog, and more. PLUS: Hear a snippet from an interview I did back in 1993 in which he makes an amusing admission about “a fantasy novel I’ve been working on off and on for awhile.”

(2) GOODBYE AND HELLO. Bence Pintér has sadly announced the closure of the Hungarian sf site Mandiner.sci-fi after two years of operation.

He is making up for it by writing a blog that will be partly in English, Spekulatív Zóna. Here’s the first post in English.

The rise of speculative fiction is a global phenomenon, but all of the important stuff are happening in English. Dealing with this topic, as a news editor, I followed the news in English and provided the news in Hungarian to the readers of mSF. But this was a one way road. In this blog I am mostly planning to write about the new releases in US and UK in English, while I also feel the need to talk to you about good Hungarian speculative books in English, because nobody else seems to be doing that. I want to channel what is happening in this tiny part of Central European fandom.

I have been reading in English for exactly a decade now. The first English book I read was Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows in 2007, because I could not wait until the Hungarian translation’s publication in a few months (I bought the translated version as well, of course.) Ever since my fianceé at the time, now my wife, bought me a Kindle from the US in 2012, I have been reading methodically in English, eyeing for the new releases as well as genre classics which were not published in Hungary. (There are a lot of them.) Now, that mSF is gone and I can choose to read what I want, I plan to read even more in English. And to write about them. New releases, and also authors, sub-genres and the topics I have always wanted to examine more profoundly.

(3) SUMMER TV. Glenn Garvin, in “Vampires and Spies Dominate Frothy Fun Television Choices” at Reason.com, reviews Midnight, Texas.

It’s the time of the television year, safely past the May upfronts where all of next season’s advertising is sold and just before the big promotional push for the fall shows begins, when all the TV bosses flee for a few weeks to Malibu or the Hamptons or wherever it is that wealthy, imperious swine go to exchange tips on the most satisfying ways to whip the household help. And while the cat’s away, the junior programmers will play, unleashing hordes of vampires, spies and what-have-you who would never see the airwaves if the grownups were around.

The result is usually shows that are kind of fun if not necessarily any good. Which is a pretty fair summary of the week’s premieres: NBC’s pleasingly trashy spook opera Midnight, Texas; and the CNN spy documentary Declassified: Untold Stories of American Spies, which is either a carefully coded revelation about American espionage or mammothly incompetent documentary filmmaking, take your pick.

Midnight, Texas, is based on a series of books by Charlaine Harris, who authored the vampire novels that became HBO’s epic True Blood. But if you’re expecting a True Blood clone, you’re going to be wildly disappointed; the two series of books are completely different.

(4) MUSK. More Elon Musk blue-skying: “Elon Musk Says He Has ‘Verbal’ OK To Build N.Y.-D.C. Hyperloop”.

A plan to build an ultrafast Hyperloop tube train has been given “verbal [government] approval” to connect large cities on the East Coast, tech entrepreneur Elon Musk says. He adds that the system would whisk passengers from New York to Washington, D.C., in 29 minutes.

After his tweet about the plan set off intense interest, Musk added a clarification, stating, “Still a lot of work needed to receive formal approval, but am optimistic that will occur rapidly.”

Chip Hitchcock observes, “I remember this idea in Scientific American over 50 years ago, and in L. Neil Smith 40 years ago — but we still don’t have cheap tunneling as in Oath of Fealty (30 years ago).”

(5) CONFLICTING DIAGNOSES. Peter Davison puts his foot in his mouth over the new Doctor: “Two former Doctors clash over Jodie Whittaker casting”.

Peter Davison, who played the Doctor from 1981 to 1984, said he “liked the idea” of a male Doctor and that he felt “a bit sad” the character might no longer be “a role model for boys”.

His comments were promptly dubbed “rubbish” by his successor Colin Baker.

“You don’t have to be of a gender to be a role model,” said the actor, who portrayed the Doctor from 1984 to 1986.

“Can’t you be a role model as people?”

(6) COMIC-CON IN THE NEWS. BBC wrap-up of the first day of SDCC: “What happened on the first day of Comic-Con?”

  • The cast of Kingsman: The Golden Circle tweeted a picture of themselves on stage after they discussed the new film and showed footage of the action spy comedy.
  • Halle Berry stole the show though after she appeared to down half a pint of whiskey on stage.
  • But there was disappointment from fans that 20th Century Fox’s presentation didn’t include anything about the eagerly anticipated Deadpool 2 – especially as the first film was launched at Comic-Con in 2015….

(7) THEY ARE THERE. Galactic Journey covers a 1962 sci-fi movie release in real time: “[July 21, 1962] The Human Soul In A Robot’s Hand (Movie Review: The Creation of the Humanoids)”

The complex range of anger, fear, acceptance and love that characterize the relationship humans have with robotic life is hardly new ground for science fiction. You have stories that explore societies controlled by artificial intelligence like in Jack Williamson’s With Folded Hands, stories in which robotic life works in service to their human superiors in accordance with Isaac Asimov’s Three Laws of Robotics, and stories that span every possible combination.

The newest addition to the science fiction sub-genre dealing with the evolution of humanity and its integration with robots came out this month in the form of the movie The Creation of the Humanoids. Following its premier in Los Angeles on July 3rd, this intriguing film made its way into theaters across America, including the theater in my city. It suffers from several weaknesses, but more than makes up for them with solid dialogue, interesting characters and a plot that makes the audience think.

(8) TODAY’S DAY

Junk Food Day

How to Celebrate Junk Food Day

Celebrate this wonderful day by eating any sweet or salty treats you want! Bake cupcakes, make cookies, heat up some popcorn, buy some of your favorite candies. Invite friends over and have them bring in their favorites and make a junk food buffet and spend the rest of the day watching movies. You can always go get some fast food for fun. Take a cheat day from your diet and have dessert for dinner.

(9) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • July 21, 2007 – The seventh and final Harry Potter novel, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, is released.
  • July 21, 2011 — NASA’s space shuttle program completes its final, and 135th, mission, when the shuttle Atlantis lands at Kennedy.

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY GIRL

  • Born July 21 – Geri Sullivan

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY ROBOT

  • Born July 21, 1951 — Perennial funnyman Robin Williams. In 1999’s Bicentennial Man he starred as a robot trying to grow more and more human as he pursued and acquired emotions.

(12) AIRPLANE FOOD. Fans have had all kinds of experiences eating airplane meals. But only culinary historian (and sf writer) Richard Foss can take you back to the dawn of dining in the skies: “What Airplane Food Looked Like Through the Decades”.

Travel + Leisure spoke to culinary historian and author of “Food in the Air and Space: The Surprising History of Food and Drink in the Skies,” Richard Foss, to delve into the fascinating history of in-flight food and how much it’s changed over the decades.

The 1920s:

During the 1920s, there was a great deal of focus on the weight you could have onboard, with passengers often getting weighed before boarding, Foss said.

Engines were also feeble at this time, and since there was not as much freedom to divert energy from the engine to other sources, like heat, cold food was the norm.

Selections typically included cold fried chicken, fruit salads, and elegantly composed sandwiches, served in wicker baskets on the lightest chinawear servers could find, according to Foss.

(13) IRON FISTS AT COMIC-CON. During yesterday’s Next Big Thing Panel at Comic-Con International San Diego, Marvel Entertainment unveiled that it is joining forces with comiXology, Amazon’s premier digital comic shopping & reading service, for a line of exclusive digital comics. Available free to comiXology Unlimited subscribers and only available through comiXology and Kindle these comics will be part of the comiXology Originals line of exclusive digital content.

Marvel and comiXology’s team-up kicks off with Immortal Iron Fists, a 6-issue bi-weekly series written by Kaare Andrews with art by Afu Chan. Immortal Iron Fists is on sale today for $2.99 on comiXology and Kindle or free to comiXology Unlimited subscribers as part of their subscription. New users to comiXology’s popular subscription service can also access Immortal Iron Fists for free as part of their 30-day free trial. Additional exclusive series will be announced soon.

A unique entry-point that’s perfect for new fans and longtime readers alike, Immortal Iron Fists tells the tale of Pei, a young female monk from K’un-Lun and the youngest person to ever bear the mark of the Iron Fist. While Pei tackles the trials of high school, Danny Rand, the Immortal Iron Fist, faces his greatest challenge yet: training the inexperienced Pei. All the while, a growing threat appears that will take more than one pair of Iron Fists to defeat!

(14) COMFORT FOOD. C,J, Cherryh told her Facebook readers about a favorite food.

A confession: I am very fond of roast beef sandwiches with pickle and Miracle Whip. This from childhood. No, it is not a sophisticated taste. I also like bacon sandwiches with Miracle Whip. Mayo for other things. But these are my two favorite sandwiches.

(15) SHAZAM! Marcus Errico of Yahoo! Movies reports “Dwayne Johnson Won’t Be In DC’s SHAZAM! Movie”, which will be directed by David F. Sandberg and released in 2019.  (“Shazam!” is the guy formerly known as Captain Marvel.)

News broke at Comic-Con this week that the next hero up in DC’s movie universe is Shazam!, a story about an orphan who gains near-godlike powers. However, in his initial outing, Shazam won’t be facing his greatest foe.

Geoff Johns, the chief creative officer of DC and, with Jon Berg, architect of the DC Extended Universe, told Yahoo Movies on Thursday that Dwayne Johnson’s Black Adam will be MIA from Shazam!

“We haven’t announced any casting yet,” Johns said. “But Dwayne isn’t going to be in this movie. He’s still doing Black Adam, but he won’t be in Shazam!

Johnson and DC will be developing Black Adam concurrent with Shazam!, with the idea that the two will eventually face off onscreen.

(16) BURNING MEMORY. Tor.com has the picture – “The Firemen Start the Fires in the First Look at HBO’s Fahrenheit 451”.

HBO Films has shared the first official photo from Fahrenheit 451, its forthcoming adaptation of Ray Bradbury’s classic dystopian novel set in a future where reading is outlawed and books are burned. It’s, appropriately, an action shot of firefighter Guy Montag (Michael B. Jordan) letting the flames fly on some contraband reading, while his superior Beatty (Michael Shannon) looks on approvingly.

(17) MORE TO PUT ON YOUR THIGHS. Adweek says more food pr0n is on the way — “McDonald’s Apparel Is Here, So Make Room in Your Closet Next to Your KFC and Pizza Hut Swag”. “Wear the fries you’re jogging for.”

Joining brands like Pizza Hut and KFC, McDonald’s is unveiling its own line of apparel and goods: The McDelivery Collection, in celebration of Global Delivery Day on July 26.

The collection is available via the UberEATS app in select countries. And while it’s a limited-edition set, don’t expect to find anything as vainglorious as a burger-shaped meteorite (à la KFC). Items include a World Famous Fries jogging suit, a Big Mac onesie—wonderful for ironic winks back to youth, though unclear whether it has a handy butt flap—and slippers that read “World Famous.”

On July 26 only, fans can score a single McDelivery Collection item on-demand, delivered with their UberEATS orders. Participating cities around the world will be unveiled on July 25 on McDeliveryatMcDonalds.com. And if you’re lucky enough to live in China or Japan, you might even be able to get them in-store!

(18) THE DEFENDERS. Stan Lee & Punisher trailer Seson 1.

(19) THE LOST VERSES. The Big Bang Theory cast sang previously unknown verses of “Soft Kitty” during their appearance at Comic-Con today.

[Thanks to Martin Morse Wooster, John King Tarpinian, Carl Slaughter, JJ, Cat Eldridge, Chip Hitchcock, and Bence Pintér for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day John Seavey.]

Pixel Scroll 12/17/16 Side Effects Include Pixels, Pixellation, Scrolls, Curled Edges And, In Extreme Cases, Death. Ask Your Medical Provider.

(1) WHEATON COSPLAYS HIMSELF. Wil Wheaton was about to leave the house for Rogue One when an idea occurred to him — “ICYMI: A tiny bit of trolling”.

It was raining and what passes for cold, here in Los Angeles, so I went to my closet to grab a scarf, and I realized that I could do a tiny bit of silly trolling, inspired by the Big Bang Theory version of myself:

One guy walked up to me and said, “that’s the wrong franchise, buddy,” to which I replied, “Oh … is it?”

(2) YAKKETY CAT. Something in the air has caused Camestros Felapton to bring us “The Cat Equations”.

Camestros was not alone.

There was nothing to indicate the fact but the small alert tab in the corner of his customised Tiffany iPad. The drawing room was empty but for himself; there was no sound other than the murmur of the drives — but the alert tab was flashing. It had been showing nothing but a reminder of the upcoming village fete when the little drawing room had been launched from the surface of the planet; now, an hour later, it was modestly attempting to get his attention. There was something in the broom closet across the room, it was saying, some kind of a body that radiated heat.

It could be but one kind of a body — a living, talking, cat body….

(3) LEAVING CALIFORNIA ROLL BEHIND. Learn from the best: “A sushi master alights in Redondo Beach” is Richard Foss’ latest culinary profile.

In 1996 Kuri-san was looking for new challenges just as a genius was looking for staff. Nobu Matsuhisa emigrated from Japan to Peru in the early 1970s and when he couldn’t find Japanese ingredients he substituted what was available. Over time he created a new style of sushi that became hugely popular and was widely imitated. He opened his restaurant Matsuhisa in Beverly Hills in 1977 and it became a celebrity hangout. Matsuhisa was one of the hottest places in LA in the ‘90s, and a friend of Kuri-san’s let him know that a coveted position was just about to become available because one of Nobu’s chefs was leaving to start his own restaurant. Kuri-san applied, was accepted, and found himself in a different world.

“He was using all these things I had never seen on sushi before, jalapeno, cilantro, wow. There was something different every day,” he remembered. “At first I didn’t like some things, the flavor of cilantro, but it was very interesting and certainly I was learning. Japanese people and Americans both came in and I had to explain things to them. Americans didn’t want to try sea urchin and things Japanese people think is normal, Japanese didn’t want to try jalapenos.”

American customers see Kuri-san cutting fish and think that’s the most important part of his skill. It is at least as important that he procure the best quality seafood, and much of his day is spent doing exactly that. Some species he buys through specialty seafood companies that he has developed a relationship with, but others require a trip to the downtown LA fish market. He needs to see the large fish like tuna, to look at the eye to see how clear it is, a certain sign of freshness. At other times he deals with fish brokers face-to-face and interrogates them about exactly when and where their products were caught. There are many liars in the seafood industry who try to pass of inferior fish as wild, but Kuri-san is one of the few who knows the look and scent of the authentic fish and can detect the fakers. 

(4) NOT QUITE THE END OF THE WORLD…YET. Michael Stipe and Stephen Colbert recapped 2016’s most depressing moments with a parody of R.E.M.’s “It’s the End of the World as We Know It (And I Feel Fine)”

Colbert sang a hilarious spoof of year’s biggest, worst headlines, like: “Oh, great, it starts with an outbreak, Zika, and Harambe,” mimicking Stipe’s trademark rapid fire delivery.

 

(5) HUGH CASEY FUNDRAISER. Philadelphia fans will hold HughCon on January 29 to raise money and will help cancer patient Hugh Casey defray his expenses.

hughcon

Hugh Casey has given a lot to the Philly fan community over the years, and now it’s time to give something back, now that he needs it the most as he recoveres from cancer surgery. Thus came the idea for “HughCon”. The Rotunda has donated their space, Star Trek-themed band The Roddenberries have donated their time and talent, a number of makers and vendors have donated items for our silent auction, and a lots of people have donated their time and effort in order to bring to you a celebration of fandom and geekiness. Any revenue raised will be donated directly to Hugh to help him with his expenses. So come support Hugh, as he’s supported us for all these years! $15 online, $20 at door.

TICKETS AVAILABLE AT http://hughcon.brownpapertickets.com/

This is an all-ages show, but minors must be accompanied by a legal guardian. This also means no alcohol on the premises, but there are plenty of restaurants and bars in the area that you can go to

(6) HOLIDAY GOODIES. Puns are a necessary ingredient for the Orbit Books Bake-off.

(7) HINES BENEFIT AUCTION #19. The nineteenth of Jim C. Hines’ 24 Transgender Michigan Fundraiser auctions is for an autographed set of the three Necromancer Chronicles books by Amanda Downum, along with either a print or audio book of DREAMS OF SHREDS & TATTERS.

About THE DROWNING CITY (Book one of the Necromancer Chronicles):

Symir — the Drowning City. home to exiles and expatriates, pirates and smugglers. And violent revolutionaries who will stop at nothing to overthrow the corrupt Imperial government.

For Isyllt Iskaldur, necromancer and spy, the brewing revolution is a chance to prove herself to her crown. All she has to do is find and finance the revolutionaries, and help topple the palaces of Symir. But she is torn between her new friends and her duties, and the longer she stays in this monsoon-drenched city, the more intrigue she uncovers — even the dead are plotting.

As the waters rise and the dams crack, Isyllt must choose between her mission and the city she came to save.

(8) THE EXPANSE, SEASON 2. Here’s trailer #3.

Earth. Mars. The Asteroid Belt. It’s time to pick a side. The Expanse returns February 1st on Syfy. More about ‘The Expanse’: This hour-long, ten episode series is based on the popular New York Times bestselling book series collectively known as The Expanse, written by Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck (under the pen name James S. A. Corey). Abraham and Franck will be show producers. The multi-installment, best-selling book series is published in 17 countries, including China, France, Japan, Australia, Canada, Germany and the United Kingdom. One in the series, Leviathan Wakes, was nominated for a Hugo Award as well as a Locus Award, while “Caliban’s War” was nominated for a Locus Award.

 

(9) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • December 17, 1843 – Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol is published.
  • December 17, 1969 — A program dedicated to the investigation of UFOs (called Project Blue Book) was terminated. For more than 20 years, the U.S. Air Force had examined 12,618 sightings. Most of these were found to be caused by man-made objects such as balloons, satellites, and aircraft; natural or astronomical phenomena; weather; and hoaxes. Today, 701 remain unexplained

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY GIRL

  • Born December 17, 1975 — Milla Jovovich

(11) TOUGH TRIVIA. Playbuzz presents “The Ultimate 2016 SFF Quiz from Orbit Books”. Note: this is mostly a TV, film, and video game quiz.

I scored 17 out of 40 – and three of the ones I got right were random guesses. Surely you can do better!

(12) A BIDDER IN MOTION TENDS TO REMAIN IN MOTION. The Smithsonian says at auction this book wildly exceeded its predicted sale price — “Most Expensive Science Book Sells for $3.7 Million”.

There are plenty of awesome, new science books to keep geeks happy this Christmas. But one anonymous science-lover recently received the ultimate stocking stuffer—Laura Geggel at LiveScience reports that the most expensive printed science book was recently sold at Christie’s in New York. An anonymous buyer purchased a rare first edition of Sir Isaac Newton’s Philosophiæ Naturalis Principia Mathematica for $3.7 million.

According to Jasper Jackson at The Guardian, the auction house believed the book would sell for $1 to $1.5 million. The most recent sale surpasses an English-language edition of the Principia which was presented to King James II which sold in 2013 for $2.5 million.

If there’s any science book that deserves to set a sales record, it’s the Principia. Published in 1687, the book sets out for the first time Newton’s three laws of motion, which shaped the course of modern physics. Geggel reports that Einstein called the book “perhaps the greatest intellectual stride that it has ever been granted to any man to make.”

(13) REMEMBER THE VIRTUAL GOLDFISH? This seems like a logical (if potentially creepy) extrapolation of the Siri concept — Azuma Hikari, the “Virtual Home Robot”, your waifu in a bottle.

Right now, only a Japanese-speaking version is available:

Q : Will Azuma Hikari be able to speak English? Or will she be able to speak English in the future?

A : Azuma Hikari can only speak Japanese. For other languages, we are still studying it based on the status of the current limited pre-order.

(14) A DEEPNESS IN THE SKY. Space.com hosts a gallery of “26 Cosmic Photos from the Hubble Space Telescope’s Ultra Deep Field”.

NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope holds the world record for peering farther into deep space than any other telescope of its time. It has imaged some of the most distant galaxies ever observed, allowing the telescope to look back in time to when the universe was in its infancy. This image, called the Hubble Ultra Deep Field, offers a core sample of the deep universe with diverse galaxies of various ages, sizes, shapes and colors.

(15) MAGIC BOOKS. Adrian Liang interviews Brandon Sanderson for Omnivoracious, the Amazon Book Review.

Amazon Book Review: Tell me about your latest book.

Brandon Sanderson: My latest book is Arcanum UnboundedArcanum Unbounded is a collection of my short fiction from the shared universe that all my fantasy books take place in. About half of the stories are expansions on the books. I’ll often take a character and do a side story with them that just didn’t fit in the book, but I knew what happened with them and I write that out. About half of the stories are standalone stories on new worlds with new magics, exploring what it’s like to live in the Cosmere. One of the stories won a Hugo. They’ve all been, individually, bestsellers on their own, and this is the opportunity to get them all together, with a new Stormlight Archive story that is a big chunk of the book. We’ve tried to make it super nice. For people who already have the stories, we’ve tried to make this hardcover be the book you have on your shelf and that you loan to your friends. The hardcover has illustrations too for each story; one is a map of the solar system—it’s an old Da Vinci-style drawing of someone imagining what the solar system is like. Each story also has an in-world foreword by a character who is studying each of the planets, and an afterword by me—not in-world—about how I wrote it and why.

(16) AD ASTRA. New York’s Hayden Planetarium will present the Frontiers Lecture: Can We Reach The Stars? on January 23.

Professor of physics Greg Matloff discusses recent developments that have advanced the possibility of interstellar travel for robots and humans, from the discovery of a potentially habitable planet orbiting Proxima Centauri, the star closest to the Sun, to the announcement of an interstellar probe called Project Starshot. Learn how advances in photon sailing, nano-spacecrafts, and high-powered lasers may bring the stars within reach.

(17) DON GLUT’S MONSTER MUSEUM.  Don Glut guides you on a video tour of his Monster Museum – just watch out when he offers to shake hands.

Karlos Borloff pays a visit to Donald F Glut’s home Monster museum in Burbank, Ca. for a guided tour of his vintage & rare artifacts & creations !! As seen on TV !!

 

(18) WHO IS NUMBER ONE? Here is Rolling Stone’s selection of the “40 Best Science Fiction TV Shows of All Time”. Babylon 5 is only #20. The Twilight Zone is #2. Who is #1? (Not The Prisoner – he’s #5…)

It’s odd to think that, once upon a time, a TV show set in space — one that declared, in its opening narration, as the cosmos being the “final frontier” — was considered the pop-cultural equivalent of an unwanted party-crasher. Yes, a concept like Star Trek was both of its time and clearly ahead of it; history has more than vindicated Gene Rodenberry’s notion of boldly going where no man had gone before. But given the number of top-notch shows set in the far reaches of the galaxy and that used genre for pulpy and profound purposes over the last 30 or so years, it seems crazy to think that one of the most groundbreaking SF series was a network pariah and a ratings dud. Today, there’s an entire cable network devoted to this kind of programming. You can’t turn on your TV/Roku/cut-cord viewing device without bumping into spaceships, alien invasion and wonky sci-fi food-for-thought.

Science fiction has been around in one form or another since the early-ish days of television, both here and abroad, and its legacy now looms larger than ever. So what better time to count down the 40 best sci-fi TV shows of all time? From anime classics to outer-space soap operas, spooky British anthology shows to worst-case-scenario postapocalyptic dramas, primetime pop hits to obscure but beloved cult classics, here are our choices for the best the television genre has to offer — submitted, for your approval.

(19) FRITZ LANG REBOOT. According to The Verge, “The creator of Mr. Robot is adapting sci-fi masterpiece Metropolis as a miniseries”.

Sam Esmail, the celebrated auteur behind the cybersecurity drama Mr. Robot, is working to adapt the 1927 Fritz Lang film Metropolis as a miniseries, according to a report from The Hollywood Reporter. The project is in the very early stages of development, the report says, and it’s unclear what role Esmail will play in the finished project. It’s not expected to hit screens for another two or three years, which likely means Esmail will first finish out his four- to five-season roadmap for Mr. Robot before turning his focus on the adaptation. Season three of Mr. Robot is set to debut some time in 2017

(20) SWEET EMOTION. Hum stars a robot and a hummingbird and a sink full of dirty dishes.

A solitary dish washing robot living out his life in the back room of a restaurant is enlightened to the world that exists beyond his four walls, with the help of a small friend he breaks free of confinement to pursue his dream of exploration.

Hum was the film we created for our junior year advanced production class in 2015 while attending Chapman’s Dodge College of Film and Media Arts. The film was created over one semester (February 2015 – May 2015) with a budget of $2000. We hope you enjoy the film and are compelled to share it with your friends and family, you are what motivates to continue telling stories.

 

[Thanks to Mark-kitteh, Andrew Porter, Dawn Incognito, JJ, Camestros Felapton, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Steve Davidson.]

Pixel Scroll 6/7/16 Pixel Sally, Guess You Better Scroll That Pixel Down

(1) THE WAY TO LIVE IN FANDOM. In “A few post-Wiscon thoughts on being an ally” Sigrid Ellis covers several topics, and this segment speaks to fans far beyond the environs of WisCon.

Here’s the thing: if the fates are kind, all of us will one day be old in fandom. Two, three, four generations will pile in after us, building on what we have fostered. We, too, will be pushed to the margins and passed by.

Yet my heart and head are with the youth. With the future. I cannot bring myself to condemn change that spreads power among more people. I cannot argue against hearing more people tell their own stories. I cannot stand against representation, inclusion.

And yet, and yet, and yet …

What I want, what a crave, is for people to LISTEN to each other. To empathize. I want the young’ns to thank those who came before for their victories, however incremental. I want the founders and established folks to respect the anger and impatient demands for change. I want the next generation to not throw out everything just because it was done before. I want the previous generation to avoid “because we always do it this way” as a reason.

When I hear some Old Fart say something dismissive and intolerant, I wince. I want to prevent my respected elders from showing their ass in public, I want to cover for them, I want to protect them from being overheard.

When I hear some Young Turk calling to burn it all to the ground and start again, I wince. I want to run interference, I want to soften their demands, I want to compromise and meet them halfway.

(2) WHAT IT’S ABOUT. In a piece for Bloomberg, “’Star Wars’ Is Really About Feminism. And Jefferson. And Jesus”,  Cass Sunstein has excerpts from his book The World According to Star Wars.

….Like a great novel or poem, Star Wars doesn’t tell you what to think. You can understand it in different, even contradictory ways. Here are six of those ways.

Feminism

From the feminist point of view, is Star Wars awful and kind of embarrassing, or actually terrific and inspiring? No one can doubt that “The Force Awakens” strikes a strong blow for sex equality: Rey is the unambiguous hero (the new Luke!), and she gets to kick some Dark Side butt. Just look at the expression on her face when she has a go at Kylo Ren.

By contrast, the original trilogy and the prequels are easily taken as male fantasies about both men and women. The tough guys? The guys. When you feel the Force, you get stronger, and you get to choke people, and you can shoot or kill them, preferably with a lightsaber (which looks, well, more than a little phallic — the longer, the better).

But there’s another view. Leia is the leader of the rebellion. She’s a terrific fighter, and she knows what she’s doing. She’s brave, and she’s tough, and she’s good with a gun. By contrast, the men are a bit clueless. She does wear a skimpy costume, and she gets enslaved, kind of, by Jabba the Hutt. But isn’t everything redeemed, because she gets to strangle her captor with the very chain with which he bound her? Isn’t that the real redemption scene in the series?

(3) SISMAN OBIT. Publisher and novelist Robyn Sisman (1955-2016) died May 20 of cancer reports The Bookseller.

She began her career in publishing at Oxford University Press where she worked her way up to become an editor.

She later became an editorial director at J M Dent and created two publishing imprints – Everyman Fiction, a list of contemporary fiction; and a classic crime line, which included writers such as Nicholas Blake (Cecil Day-Lewis), Margery Allingham, and Kingsley Amis.

Malcolm Edwards believes she commissioned the first Interzone anthology at Dent.

Sisman then joined Hutchinson, part of the Random House group, via a stint at the newly established UK arm of Simon & Schuster.

She oversaw publication of Robert Harris’ wartime novel Fatherland, but also such books as Kim Newman’s The Night Mayor and Brian Stableford’s Empire of Fear brought to her attention by an sf advisor.

Sisman’s career as a writer began with her debut novel, Special Relationship, published in 1995 by Heinemann. She wrote five other romantic comedies, Just Friends (Penguin), Perfect Strangers (Penguin), Weekend in Paris (Penguin), A Hollywood Ending (Orion) and The Perfect Couple? (Orion).

She was married to author Adam Sisman.

(4) TOP DRONE. I don’t know what Luke will go shooting womp-rats with now – “The U.S. Air Force May Have Just Built Its Last Fighter Jet” reports The Daily Beast.

In the direst scenario, Air Force fighters simply won’t survive over enemy territory long enough to make any difference during a major war. In that case, the penetrating counterair system, or PCA, might not be a fighter jet as we currently understand it.

Instead, it could be a radar-evading drone whose main job is to slip undetected into enemy air space and use sophisticated sensors to detect enemy planes—and then pass that targeting data via satellite back to other U.S. forces. “A node in the network,” is how the strategy document describes the penetrating system’s main job.

The Air Force could start work on the penetrating counterair system in 2017, according to the new air-superiority plan. The document proposes that this possible stealth drone could team up with an “arsenal plane”—an old bomber or transport plane modified to carry potentially hundreds of long-range missiles

(5) AERIAL SNACKAGE. Richard Foss was up early to guest on a TV show called Food: Fact or Fiction and wrote a great post about his experiences.

One segment was about the history of food aboard commercial aircraft, the other about food in space, and each had their humorous moments. As part of one I had to eat some airline peanuts, and unfortunately they had brought the sweet kind that I detest. I managed to fake enjoyment when the camera was on, but must have made an interesting face as soon as it stopped, because the cameraman asked if I was choking. When I told him the situation, he complimented me on my acting, because he had thought I loved peanuts as long as the camera was on. The annoying part? They had to shoot the scene three times, so I ate a whole bag of the nasty things.

(6) UP THE AMAZON. John Scalzi delivered “A Tweet Spree on Amazon Authors and Envy” — 17 tweets and a kitten picture. Here’s number 6.

(7) AUGUST BRADBURY SHINDIG. Steven Paul Leiva signal boosted a call for submissions for this summer’s Ray Bradbury Read in LA.

On August 22, 2016, in celebration of the ninety-sixth anniversary of the birth of American and Angeleno literary great Ray Bradbury, the Ray Bradbury Read will take place in downtown Los Angeles from twelve noon to three p.m.

The Ray Bradbury Read will feature three hours of short readings from the works of Ray Bradbury; from his short stories, novels, poems, and essays…

The readers of Bradbury’s work will be members of the public selected by the process described below. There will also be guest celebrity readers….

To be considered as a reader you must submit a proposal for a reading of a five-minute-or-under excerpt from one of Bradbury’s many works. The excerpt can come from any of Ray’s published prose and verse writings and should have a central theme, coherence, and completeness about it. More than one excerpt or poem can be read, as long as their reading time does not exceed five minutes. Excerpts from plays and screenplays will not be accepted.

Ray Bradbury Read 8 22

(8) WALK THROUGH MGM. Marc Scott Zicree, Mr. Sci-Fi, visits the former MGM, where Twilight Zone was shot.

(9) DO ANYTHING ELSE IF YOU CAN. William F. Nolan wrote on Facebook:

A major misconception: that all famous, successful writers find it easy to bring in vast amounts of money and have always enjoyed big bucks, right from the start of their fabled careers. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Stephen King had his phone cut off for non-payment and had to use a gas station phone to receive calls while sweating for low pay in an industrial laundry. Ray Bradbury lived on tomato soup for years as his stories were rejected. Charles Beaumont had to hock his typewriter for food. Richard Matheson nearly starved trying to live on random, penny-a-word sales. Just a few examples from many. It takes talent, hard work and a LOT of years to “make it big” as a writer. And most writers never do. A tough game, people. Very, very tough indeed. Write if you must — but ONLY if you must.

(10) NOT A STRANGER. ScienceFiction.com shares “Strange Opinion: Bob Gale Of ‘Back To The Future’ Is Not Happy About ‘Doctor Strange’”.

In a recent interview with MoviePilot, Bob Gale let his opinion be known about Marvel’s upcoming ‘Doctor Strange’ movie, a film that he is not looking forward to. While you might think “Who the hell is Bob Gale?” and “Why does his opinion matter on this?” let me tell you, I had similar thoughts. I knew he was a writer/producer on the ‘Back to the Future‘ movies back in the 80?s (and has done little else since, except for ‘Back to the Future’ video games and promos, and the ride at Universal Studios), and I thought it was very strange that years later the man would pop up again with comments on a Marvel movie. However, Bob Gale having an opinion on the matter is not as strange as I originally thought, as it turns out that back in the 80s (at the height of his relevancy) the man wrote a screenplay for ‘Doctor Strange,’ which unfortunately never got made. Apparently Bob Gale is a huge ‘Doctor Strange’ fan and an expert on the character, which is why he tried to get his movie made, and also why he feels so strongly about Marvel’s upcoming film featuring the character.

Of course I’d listen to Bob Gale’s opinion. He majored in film at USC. More important, that’s how he happened to take me (a fellow USC student) to the first LASFS event I ever attended, the club’s 1970 anniversary dinner, where Harlan Ellison read aloud “Beast That Shouted Love at the Heart of the World.” He can say anything he likes about Doctor Strange as far as I’m concerned. 😉

(11) FANTASY TOURISM. The B&N Sci-Fi & Fantasy Blog has “Rough Guides to Getting Around Single-Climate Planets”.

Ursa Beta Minor (The Restaurant at the End of the Universe, by Douglas Adams) Introduction: The Pleasure Planet Ursa Beta Minor was designed, manufactured, and terraformed to be the ultimate vacation destination. The planet is comprised completely of warm oceans and thin strips of beach front. It is always Saturday afternoon, and the bars are always open. In fact, as you read this, you’re wondering why anyone would travel to any other single-climate planet, and frankly we have to agree with you.

Where to Go: Aside from the beaches and the bars, there is only one other destination: Light City, the capital city. While in Light City, visit the headquarters of the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, which will be very disappointing, but afterwards you can stroll down Life Boulevard and walk past the shops that literally no one is wealthy enough to afford.

Getting There and Getting Around: You’ll need a ship equipped with some sort of Infinite Improbability Drive, or at least a Bistromatic Drive. Once in orbit, you can only arrive by air, as the owners really want you to see Light City from up there, or else the whole trip is a waste.

(12) APPERTAIN YOURSELF A LIBATION. Stoic Cynic in a comment:

Apropos of nothing in this thread (yet), and with apologies to Johnny Mandel, Mike Altman, the cast of MASH, and various posters toasting world peace:

Through early morning fog I see
Another troll post on the screen
Their words that are meant to rile me
I realize and I can see

That scrolling past is painless
It brings on many changes
And I can take or leave it
If I please

Games of trolls are a loss to play
Not gonna feed it today
That losing card I’ll some day lay
But right now though I have to say

That scrolling past is painless
It brings on many changes
And I can take or leave it
If I please

Their words are time we’ll not see again
It doesn’t hurt when it begins
But engage and get all drawn in
The loss grows stronger, watch it grin

Scrolling past is painless
It brings on many changes
And I can take or leave it
If I please

Sea Lions once demanded me
To answer questions they thought key
Is it to be, or not to be?
And I replied, oh why ask me?

Scrolling past is painless
It brings on many changes
And I can take or leave it
If I please

And you can do the same thing
If you please

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Martin Morse Wooster, Andrew Porter, Stoic Cynic, and David K.M. Klaus for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Niall McAuley.]

Foss on Food In The Skies

2001-a-space-odysseyWhile I don’t know what they served for dinner on the fictional Pan Am passenger rocket in 2001, the year the movie was released Pan Am was serving lobster thermidor aboard 747’s in the upstairs dining room. When it comes to meals real people have eaten anywhere from zeppelins to the International Space Station, Richard Foss’ Food in the Air and Space: The Surprising History of Food and Drink in the Skies can tell me anything I want to know.

This book is the first to chart that history worldwide, exploring the intricacies of inflight dining from 1783 to the present day, aboard balloons, zeppelins, land-based aircraft and flying boats, jets, and spacecraft. It charts the ways in which commercial travelers were lured to try flying with the promise of familiar foods, explains the problems of each aerial environment and how chefs, engineers, and flight crew adapted to them, and tells the stories of pioneers in the field. Hygiene and sanitation were often difficult, and cultural norms and religious practices had to be taken into account.

Author Richard Foss at high altitude.

Author Richard Foss at high altitude.

Foss’ command of details and gifts as a raconteur are also on exhibit in a related blog filled with the interesting information that didn’t fit in his book.

That’s where fans of steampunk will go to mine authentic details about dining on zeppelins or aboard WWI biplane bombers converted to passenger service after the war. What may surprise them most, though, is Foss’ revelation that in the Sixties an airline created a whole proto-steampunk marketing strategy

In my book I mentioned a promotion that was a triumph of making lemonade when life gives you lemons – the period from 1960 to 1962 when New York-based Mohawk Airlines was flying from Albany to Buffalo with DC-3s that really should have been in museums. After passengers complained about the outdated aircraft, some marketing genius decided that if they were struck with old airplanes, they might as well decorate them to look even older. Someone looked at pictures of old railroad cars, measured the aircraft for lace headrest covers, gold-filigreed wallpaper, and Victorian curtains, and “Gaslight Service” was born.

The theme was applied brilliantly – Stewardesses dressed like dance hall ladies passed out cigars, pretzels, and beer, and the airline schedules carried the warning that passengers should close the windows when going through tunnels. It was a wonderfully silly promotion that worked brilliantly; suddenly passengers wanted to fly the previously scorned airplanes instead of their faster rivals.

The Sixties were the pinnacle of passenger airline dining and naturally more fun to read about than the practices of today’s cattle car airlines, although Foss covers that trend, too. Here are some facts he mentioned when interviewed by Easy Reader News.

Robert Crandall, the president of American Airlines, in a decision that became known as “Crandall’s olive,” ordered a reduction in the number of olives in the airline’s salads, for an annual savings of $40,000.

United followed by removing beverage garnishes ($50,000 in annual savings), Delta removed strawberries from its first class salads ($210,000 in annual savings) and Continental stopped serving pretzels ($2.5 million in annual savings).

Foss on Easy ReaderGone is the TWA Banana Brunch Cake. And gone, too, is the early Space Age which gave us Astronaut Fruitcake and Tang and Cool Whip Pie. However, you can make them yourself by following the recipes in the back of Food in the Air and Space.

Foss will be signing his book January 29 (tomorrow) at Pages Bookstore in Manhattan Beach at 6:30 p.m. He’ll follow with a talk about airline food. Pages is located at 904 Manhattan Beach Boulevard.

Foss Fiction and Nonfiction Online

LASFSian Richard Foss displays his versatile writing talent online at two great venues this month.

The November 19 edition of LA CityBeat has his nonfiction article “Angels and Aliens, How science fiction slays the city“:

In this litany of books about disaster, disorder, dysfunction, and dystopia, are there any that portray an unreservedly sunny portrait of a future L.A.? Alas, no. Utopias are boring, and whatever Los Angeles is, has been, or might become, it is not dull. If someone writes a book where it is, that would be fantasy.

Also, Foss’ novelette “To Leap the Highest Wall” is in the current issue of Analog.

[Via Locus Online]