Pixel Scroll 12/16/21 A Pixelness In The Scroll

(1) COLBERT’S LOTR CAST REUNION RAP. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] Stephen Colbert (of The Late Show) is a self-proclaimed Lord of the Rings fanatic (both the books and the movie series).His show is going on hiatus after this week for the rest of the year and Colbert bemoaned the fact that he will not be on air to celebrate Sunday’s 20th anniversary of the theatrical release of the first LOTR movie directed by Peter Jackson.

The Late Show With Stephen Colbert assembled Elijah Wood, Sean Astin, Billy Boyd, Dominic Monaghan, Orlando Bloom, Andy Serkis, Hugo Weaving, pro rappers Killer Mike and Method Man, plus bandleader Jon Batiste, host Colbert, and (for reasons unknown) Anna Kendrick, to create a rap video that pounds home the dominance of the LOTR movie trilogy.

(2) LEE AND MILLER’S FREE HOLIDAY STORY. Steve Miller says he “is in a strange land far away from Worldcon” —

The plan was that our new Liaden story would hit the interwebz while we were off at Worldcon, but we dropped that plan awhile back due to the pandemic. The story came out on time, but we’re home in Maine! FWIW I had several convention dreams last night (guess I’m missing the whole crew!), but it still isn’t the same.

Yesterday some folks were having a hard time finding the new release, though, so this is a direct link to “From Every Storm A Rainbow”, our official free online Liaden Universe holiday story for 2021, which follows pretty hard on the heels of our recent “Bread Alone” chapbook, which ran a week or so as “#1 new release” under SF anthologies right at Thanksgiving. “Bread Alone’s” on sale in many venues now, but here’s the Amazon link.

Have a good holiday season, a good year, and we’re still hoping for Chicago….

Bests wishes from all of us here at the Cat Farm and Confusion Factory …

(3) CLARION WEST IS HIRING. The annual Clarion West Writers Workshop is looking to fill several positions – Six-Week Workshop Facilitator, Residential Workshop Administrator, and Communications Specialist. See Jobs – Clarion West for the details.

Do you believe that stories are important? Do you want to work with a diverse and passionate team to bring emerging writers to the field of speculative fiction? Do you want to support more writers of color and from traditionally underrepresented communities? Take a look at our open opportunities and see where your expertise can grow Clarion West.

(4) SITE SELECTION CONTINUES. Rich Lynch sent along this photo he took of DisCon III’s at-con Site Selection voting area.  

(5) ON YONDER SHOREHAM. Highlander tweeted a video walkthrough from the first day of DisCon III. I see John Hertz in his beanie appears around the 25-second mark.

(6) HALL COSTUMES. Ian Randal Strock tweeted a photo of cosplayers at DisCon III dressed as the TARDIS and two Doctor Who nemeses.

(7) MOFFAT TEASES WHO FANS. Radio Times plucked some juicy quotes from an hour-long conversation about Steven Moffat’s career hosted by the Oxford Union: “Steven Moffat talks Russell T Davies’ ‘fantastic’ plans for Doctor Who”.

…“I had no idea Russell was going to do that,” Moffat told Oxford Union. “He told me the night before, he sent me an email and I read it. I was just coming home from a restaurant and I thought: ‘Is that real? I’ll see if that email is still there in the morning.’

“Then I phoned him up and said, ‘Have you read [behind-the-scenes Doctor Who book] The Writer’s Tale? Have you read it? Because I think you should’,” continued Moffat. “He said, ‘I want to do it again, I’m excited, I’m thrilled.’”…

View the complete Q&A session on YouTube.

Writer of Doctor Who and Sherlock, Steven Moffat has won an Emmy award, five BAFTA Awards and four Hugo Awards. He had been a fan of Doctor Who since childhood, and is responsible for some of the most famous episodes including ‘Blink’ and ‘Silence in the Library.’ In 2015, he was appointed an Order of the British Empire for his services to drama

(8) SIGNED BY EGO. Rob Hansen has posted a real rarity at his THEN British fanhistory website – the text of a 1940s chain letter with Arthur C. Clarke as one of the participants: “FAN-MAIL (1941)”.

Here’s something I never thought I’d ever see – one of Clarke’s WW2 chain-letters. Yet, amazingly, this one has survived after 80 years. And finally seeing one has, I think, enabled me to figure out the how these chains worked, an explanation of which appears after the scans. I described them in THEN as essentially operating like APAs, but the logistics involved were a bit more complicated than that.

(9) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

1987 [Item by Cat Eldridge.] Thirty four years ago, A Muppet Family Christmas first aired on ABC. It was produced not by Jim Henson (though he did executive produce it) , a rare thing indeed, but rather by Peter Harris and Eric Till from a script by Jerry Juhl who had earlier scripted the most excellent Emmet Otter’s Jug-Band Christmas. For a Muppet film, it had an unusually large cast, to wit Gerry Parkes, Jim Henson, Frank Oz, Jerry Nelson, Richard Hunt, Dave Goelz, Steve Whitmire, Caroll Spinney, Kathryn Mullen, Karen Prell and David Rudman. 

This is one of the rare Muppet productions to feature the Muppets that were associated with all four of the major Muppet franchises: Fraggle RockMuppet Babies (who are seen here as actual puppets instead of their usual animated selves), The Muppet Show and Sesame Street

If you’ve saw it on TV and then watched it later on the North American DVD and VHS release, you might’ve notice that a lot of the original film was missing. That was because the Henson company only secured broadcast rights, not subsequent rights to songs like “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” and “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day” weren’t available. 

Critics generally like it. Myles McNutt of the A.V. Club said of it that was “a love letter to the Muppets as a wide-ranging, meaningful part of viewers’ childhoods.” Audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes give it a most cheery eighty-eight percent rating. 

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born December 16, 1917 Arthur C. Clarke. When I was resident in Sri Lanka courtesy of Uncle Sam in the early Eighties, nearly every American ex-pat I ran into was reading The Fountains of Paradise. The tea plantations he described therein are very awesome.  I never saw him but he was well known among the small British community there and I passed by his residence one day. I’ll admit that I’ve not read that much by him — Childhood’s EndRendezvous with Rama and that novel are the only long form works by him I’ve read.  I’ve read a lot of short fiction including of course Tales from The White Hart. I’m certain I’ve read The Nine Billion Names of God collection as well. And I’ve seen 2001 myriad times but I’ve never seen the sequel. (Died 2008.)
  • Born December 16, 1927 Randall Garrett. Randall Garrett. Ahhh, Lord Darcy. When writing this up, I was gobsmacked to discover that he’d written only one such novel, Too Many Magicians, as I clearly remembered reading more than that number. Huh. That and two collections, Murder and Magic and Lord Darcy Investigates, is all there is of this brilliant series. (The later Lord Darcy collection has two previously uncollected stories.) Glen Cook’s Garrett P.I. is named in honor of Garrett.  I’ll admit I’ve not read anything else by him, so what else have y’all read? (Died 1987.)
  • Born December 16, 1928 Philip K. Dick. Dick has always been a difficult one for me to get a feel for. Mind you Blade Runner is my major touchstone for him but I’ve read the source material as well, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, and Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said which won the John W. Campbell Memorial Award, and I’ve read a lot of the shorter works, so I’d say that saying he’s a challenging writer is a Good Thing. I was surprised his only Hugo win was for at The Man in The High Castle at DisCon though Blade Runner would pick up one at ConStellation. (Died 1982.)
  • Born December 16, 1937 Peter Dickinson. Author who was married from 1991 to his death to Robin McKinley.  He had a number of truly great works, both genre and not genre, including EvaThe Tears of the Salamander and The Flight of DragonsThe Ropemaker garnered a well-deserved Mythopoeic Fantasy Award for Children’s Literature. His James Pibble upper-class British mystery series are quite excellent as well. (Died 2015.)
  • Born December 16, 1957 Mel Odom, 64. An author deep into mining franchise universes with work done into the BuffyverseOutlandersTime PoliceRogue Angel (which I’ve listen to a lot as GraphicAudio as produced them as most excellent audioworks) and weirder stuff such as the Left Behind Universe and Tom Clancy’s Net Force Explorers, both I think game tie-ins. 
  • Born December 16, 1961 Jon Tenney, 60. He’s best known as Special Agent Fritz Howard on The Closer and continued in its spinoff Major Crimes, but he does have genre creds. He played Jimmy Wells in The Phantom, Martin Jordon in Green Lantern, and Lt. Ching in two episodes in Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman. He also showed up on Tales from the Crypt, Outer Limits and neXt
  • Born December 16, 1967 Miranda Otto, 54. She was Éowyn in the second and third installments of Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings film franchise. (I stopped watching after The Fellowship of The Rings.) She‘s Zelda Spellman in Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, and Mary Ann Davis in Spielberg’s version of The War of The Worlds. She also played Wueen Lenore inI, Frankenstein which had an amazing cast even if the tomatometer at Rotten Tomatoes gives it a five percent rating meaning the critics really didn’t like it.

(11) GUESS WHAT? This March, make way for the new Sorcerer Supreme!

With Doctor Strange dead, another sorcerer has taken the title, or should we say Sorceress? Clea, mistress of the Dark Dimension and Stephen Strange’s powerful partner, will rise to the challenge of defending earth from mystical and otherworldly danger in writer Jed MacKay’s STRANGE #1! Featuring artwork by AMAZING SPIDER-MAN artist Marcelo Ferreira, this all-new ongoing series will spin directly out of the story still unfolding in MacKay’s DEATH OF DOCTOR STRANGE. 

.. Here’s what MacKay had to say about continuing this unprecedented Doctor Strange saga:

“After the apocalyptic events of The Death of Doctor Strange, there’s a new Sorcerer Supreme in residence at 177A Bleecker Street, and a new Doctor Strange- Clea Strange. And she’s got her work cut out for her- when she’s not fighting off the magical gangsters of the Blasphemy Syndicate, or battling undead super-monsters, she’s going after what’s hers: the late Stephen Strange. Clea is of the Faltine, that race of Warlords and conquerors, and like her relatives Dormammu and Umar, she will not be thwarted in her desires, not even by the mysterious Harvestman standing in her way.”

(12) NOW PLAYING. You can listen to Connie Willis and Nalo Hopkinson’s LOA Live appearance to promote American Christmas Stories on Soundcloud or watch the program on the Library of America website.

(13) FLICK PICKS. Wired presents its list of “The Best Sci-Fi Movies of 2021”. They start with Dune, but let’s skip ahead to one you haven’t read a million words about:

… Perhaps, at this stage, you’d prefer your women on the more visible side of things. If so, consider the French film Oxygen (Netflix), whose main—nearly only—character is a scientist played by the marvelous Mélanie Laurent. She wakes up in an AI-controlled cryogenic pod and must figure out how to escape it before the titular oxygen runs out. Who put her there? Where even is there? Soon enough, she begins to remember a man. A husband. The love of her life. Who died in a horrible pandemic back on Earth. Yes, that’s it: She’s part of a mission to save the human race, predicted to die out completely in two generations….

(14) A BIG DEAL. Radio Times fills us in on the new owner’s ambitions for Bad Wolf: “Doctor Who’s Bad Wolf could be biggest drama producer in UK, says Sony”.

Sony Pictures has invested £50 million into Welsh drama producer Bad Wolf, in the hopes of helping the maker of Doctor Who and His Dark Materials reach its “zenith”.

Wayne Garvie, Sony’s president of international production, recently revealed his hopes that Bad Wolf could become “the biggest drama producer in Britain and in Europe” (via BBC News).

He said: “We have invested in a company that has not reached its zenith. We have [another] company called Left Bank Pictures who make The Crown, which you may have watched, and which is Britain’s biggest drama company. And we built that together with the founders of the company over about eight years or so.

“And we want to do the same with Bad Wolf. There is no reason why Bad Wolf should not be or could not be the biggest drama producer in Britain and in Europe. And that is our ambition.”

(15) KEEPING TRACK OF CENSORSHIP. “School Library Journal Starts a Library Censorship Tips Hotline” reports Book Riot.

…In response to this wave of censorship attempts, the School Library Journal has opened a library censorship tips hotline, which allows library professionals to report censorship attempts anonymously. Hopefully, this will give a more complete picture than the ALA numbers and shed light on censorship happening that is not getting covered on the news. The censorship tips hotline form asks for name and email (both optional); the library/school district, and state; and a comments field: “Tell us who is behind the objection—parents, school board members, or other parties—and how the district/library responded. Was challenge policy followed? Let us know anything else relevant.”…

(16) VIDEO OF THE DAY. The How It Should Have Ended gang have an opinion about Spider-Man.

[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, N., Steve Miller, Rob Thornton, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Andrew Porter, and Michael Toman for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Rob Thornton, part of “The Hugo Pixel Scroll Winners” series.]

Pixel Scroll 12/8/21 I’m Shocked To Find Scrolling Going On In Here

(1) IF YOU CAN MAKE IT THERE. In the New York Times, Amal El-Mohtar names “The Best Science Fiction and Fantasy Books of 2021”. Here’s one of her picks:

In the gray fog of an uncertain year, these books stand out in bright colors and floods of intense feeling. They’re organized only by the order in which I read them….

No Gods, No Monsters

By Cadwell Turnbull (Blackstone, 387 pp., $26.99)

Intimate and intricate, full of charismatic monsters and the dueling secret societies to which they belong. A pack of werewolves transform on camera, prompting hidden powers to rally for or against revealing the supernatural world of gods and monsters to the public. Mysteriously narrated and utterly riveting.

 (2) EXCEED YOUR GRASP. At Futurism, Matthew Angelo tells readers “Why Science Fiction Matters in Literature”.

… Science fiction typically deals with the impact of imagined future science and technology on society. Sci-Fi is an important genre in literature. It teaches us about contemporary ideas, inspires new technological inventions, and entertains us by telling stories that could not have happened otherwise….

Science Fiction is one of the biggest, most influential genres in literature. It taps into human dreams and nightmares about what might be, what could happen to us, and how we might deal with it. It makes up many of our fictional worlds, futures, and inhabitants. Science Fiction stories can be wildly different in content. Still, they all have a similar feeling of being exciting possibilities just out of reach. Science fiction is often thought to be just about aliens and robots. Still, it can also have a lot to do with social commentary….

(3) SPINNING BLADES. Foz Meadows tweeted two threads commenting on the social media heat directed at Neon Yang after Yang, who criticized Isabel Fall’s “Helicopter Story” when it appeared in January 2020, recently promoted the appearance of their own queer mech story in a forthcoming anthology. Thread starts here.

A second short thread starts here.

Suzanne F. Boswell advances a case that Neon Yang’s tweets in 2020 did not cause the outcome for which critics now want to hold them accountable. Thread starts here.

R. B. Lemberg warns about the damage from these exchanges. Thread starts here.

(4) HIS FAVORITE MARTIAN. Congratulations to Jonathan Eller, whose Bradbury Beyond Apollo has been named one of the Choice Outstanding Academic Titles for 2021. The list is quite selective: it contains approximately ten percent of some 6,000 works reviewed in Choice each year.

(5) AS VIEWED FROM ABOVE. Rob Hansen has created “a small extra” for those who read Bixelstrasse, his compilation of early LASFS history (see “Revisit ‘Fighting Forties’ LASFS in Rob Hansen’s Bixelstrasse”) – it’s an annotated Map of 1940s LA Fandom.

(6) A BARKING GOOD CLIMAX. Camestros Felapton announces “Debarkle Volume 3 Now Available”. It is the end, my friend, and the price is right – free! A list of vendors is at the link.

The third and final volume of Debarkle is now available from a wide range of online book stores and by “wide range” I mean “not Amazon”. As with the rest of this series, it’s been published via Draft2Digital and you can access it in these online book shops. Note: this is the “second draft” version with fewer typos than the blog version. A third draft version will be available as a collected edition of all three volumes before the end of the year.

(7) DOWN TO THE WIRE. Starburst Magazine’s Ed Fortune covers 2023 Site Selection here: “China Races Canada For Prestigious SciFi Con”.

… Worldcons are a long-running international Science Fiction convention that tends to be hosted in North America or Europe, and the next venue is determined two years ahead of time.

Recent years have seen the convention come to other parts of the world, such as Japan and New Zealand. Chinese fans have been actively seeking to bring the world-renowned event to Chengdu, China since 2014….

(8) 2023 WORLDCON BID Q&A. Video of last weekend’s bidder Q&A session at Smofcon Europe has now been posted.

Representatives of the 2023 Worldcon bids for Chengdu and Winnipeg present and answer questions. Terry Fong, Tony Xia, Tina Wang, Tammy Coxen (m)

(9) BACK ON HIS FEET. Nicholas Whyte reports on his recovery from Covid after spending the end of November and part of December sick in bed: “630 days of plague, and COVID 20 days on” in his Livejournal.

(10) THE CULTURE. Christopher Fowler, known to fans for his sff, discusses what makes English novels “English” at CrimeReads: “The Curse of Englishness: Why Every British Thriller Is Also a Black Comedy”.

…I first became aware of the curse when I heard the teacups. To be precise, their endless tinkling.

Whenever I listened to an English radio play as a child the sound effects included a spoon endlessly circling bone china. English characters were always going out and coming in, but mostly they stayed inside and drank tea, even in the grisliest true-life murder dramatizations. Our plots unfolded in small rooms. It’s an English thing; neat little houses, inclement weather. Agatha Christie was particularly obsessed with egress. ‘It was a fine old library with the only other door leading out to the pristine tennis courts.’ And as we tended not to point guns at each other, our fictional killers generally dismissed firearms in favour of doctored pots of chutney, electrified bathtubs and poisoned trifles. They escaped without leaving footprints and relocked doors with the aid of string….

(11) TODAY’S DAY.

I am reliably informed by John King Tarpinian that this is how I should have spent my day.

(12) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

1966[Item by Cat Eldridge.] Fifty five years ago, Star Trek’s “The Conscience of a King” first aired on NBC. The title comes from the concluding lines of Act II of Hamlet: “The play’s the thing / Wherein I’ll catch the conscience of the king.” Barry Trivers wrote the script. Memory Alpha notes that he also wrote the never made “A Portrait in Black and White” episode based on a story premise by Roddenberry in his original series proposal for Star Trek

The primary guest cast here was Arnold Moss as Anton Karidian / Kodos and Barbara Anderson as Lenore Karidian. Other than a later Time Tunnel appearence, his only genre role. She played Mimi Davis in a recurring role on Mission: Impossible

Reception for it is generally very good though Keith DeCandido at Tor.com kvetches about how he’s identified as the war criminal. (Keith, it’s not your your modern CSI.) Later Trek writer Ronald D. Moore considers it one of the best Trek episodes ever done. 

(13) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born December 8, 1861 Georges Méliès. Best known as a film director for A Trip to the Moon (Le Voyage dans la Lune) which he said was influenced by sources including Verne’s From the Earth to the Moon and Around the Moon. (Died 1938.)
  • Born December 8, 1894 E. C. Segar. Best known as the creator of Popeye, who first appeared in 1929 in Segar’s comic strip Thimble Theatre. Popeye’s first line in the strip, upon being asked if he was a sailor, was “Ja think I’m a cowboy?” J. Wellington Wimpy was another character in this strip that I’m fond of. (Died 1938.)
  • Born December 8, 1894 James Thurber. He’s written a number of fantasies, The 13 ClocksThe White Deer and The Wonderful O, definitely none of which children should be reading. You’ve no doubt seen The Secret Life of Walter Mitty with Danny Kaye which bears little resemblance to the original short story. It would be made into a second film, just eight years ago, again not resembling the source material. (Died 1961.)
  • Born December 8, 1950 Rick Baker, 71. Baker won the Academy Award for Best Makeup a record seven times from a record eleven nominations, beginning when he won the first award given for An American Werewolf in London.  So what else is he know for? Oh, I’m not listing everything but his first was The Thing with Two Heads and I’ll single out The ExorcistStar WarsThe Howling which I quite love, Starman for the Starman transformation, the Beast design on the Beauty and the Beast series and the first Hellboy film version.
  • Born December 8, 1951 Brian Attebery, 70. If I was putting together a library of reference works right now, Attebery would be high on the list of authors at the center of my shopping list. I think The Fantasy Tradition in American Literature: From Irving to Le Guin is still essential reading and Parabolas of Science Fiction with Veronica Hollinger is very close to a Grand Unification Theory of the Genre. He won a World Fantasy Award for his editing of Journal of the Fantastic in the Arts, and a Mythopoetic Scholarship Award for Stories about Stories: Fantasy & the Remaking of Myth.
  • Born December 8, 1954 Rebecca Neason. She wrote a Next Generation novel, Guises of The Mind,  plus several Highlander novels, and two fantasy novels; her widower says one novel went unpublished. She was a regular panelist at conventions in the Pacific Northwest. Jim Fiscus has a remembrance here.  (Died 2010.)
  • Born December 8, 1954 John Silbersack, 67. With Victoria Schochet, he edited the first four volumes of the Berkley Showcase: New Writings in Science Fiction and Fantasy anthology series. Seasonally appropriate, he edited with Chris Schelling, The Magic of Christmas: Holiday Stories of Fantasy and Science Fiction. He’s written a Buck Rogers novel, Rogers’ Rangers, off a treatment by Niven and Pournelle. 
  • Born December 8, 1967 Laura J. Mixon, 64. She won the Hugo Award for Best Fan Writer at Sasquan for her writing about the abhorrent online activities of Benjanun Sriduangkaew. She has written a number of excellent novels including Glass Houses and Up Against It which got an Otherwise nomination. She is married to SF writer Steven Gould, with whom she co-wrote the novel Greenwar.

(14) GEORGE PÉREZ MEDICAL UPDATE. George Pérez, known for his work on DC’s The New Teen TitansCrisis on Infinite Earths and Wonder Woman, Marvel titles like Infinity Gauntlet and The Avengers, and with Kurt Busiek on the landmark Marvel/DC crossover JLA/Avengers (aka Avengers/JLA), announced on Facebook that he has been diagnosed with terminal cancer.  

To all my fans, friends and extended family,

It’s rather hard to believe that it’s been almost three years since I formally announced my retirement from producing comics due to my failing vision and other infirmities brought on primarily by my diabetes. At the time I was flattered and humbled by the number of tributes and testimonials given me by my fans and peers. The kind words spoken on those occasions were so heartwarming that I used to quip that “the only thing missing from those events was me lying in a box.”

It was amusing at the time, I thought.

Now, not so much. On November 29th I received confirmation that, after undergoing surgery for a blockage in my liver, I have Stage 3 Pancreatic Cancer. It is surgically inoperable and my estimated life expectancy is between 6 months to a year. I have been given the option of chemotherapy and/or radiation therapy, but after weighing all the variables and assessing just how much of my remaining days would be eaten up by doctor visits, treatments, hospital stays and dealing with the often stressful and frustrating bureaucracy of the medical system, I’ve opted to just let nature take its course and I will enjoy whatever time I have left as fully as possible with my beautiful wife of over 40 years, my family, friends and my fans.

Since I received my diagnosis and prognosis, those in my inner circle have given me so much love, support and help, both practical and emotional. They’ve given me peace.

There will be some business matters to take care of before I go. I am already arranging with my art agent to refund the money paid for sketches that I can no longer finish. And, since, despite only having one working eye, I can still sign my name, I hope to coordinate one last mass book signing to help make my passing a bit easier. I also hope that I will be able to make one last public appearance wherein I can be photographed with as many of my fans as possible, with the proviso that I get to hug each and every one of them. I just want to be able to say goodbye with smiles as well as tears…

(15) SEPTEMBER SONG ENCORE. BasedCon will ride again in September 2022, says chair Rob Kroese. The inaugural event he created to appeal to the “sci-fi writer or fan who is sick of woke politics” (see “BasedCon Planning for Dozens of Attendees”) actually drew 70.

(16) THE ROARING TWENTIES. The New York Times applauds this fashion statement: “Just in Time for Christmas: Knitwear Fit for a T. Rex”.

Behold the fearsome Tyrannosaurus rex — all swaddled in a cozy Christmas sweater.

The replica T. rex at the Natural History Museum in London is an enormous, ferocious-looking beast that was built to scale, standing about 60 percent the size of the 40-foot-long prehistoric creature.

The animatronic attraction, which features roaring sound effects, often startles visitors, but on Monday, the predatory edge was somewhat softened when visitors found the T. rex bedecked in a giant blue, red and green holiday sweater, replete with cheerful Christmas trees and snowflakes….

(17) A BIRD IN FLIGHT. The European launch of the book The Space Cuckoo and Other Stories by Arvind Mishra will take place online, on December 13 at 6.00 p.m. Romanian Local Time, on Discord, at the international meeting of Syndicate 9 Science Fiction club from Timisoara, Romania. The guest of the meeting is the author, and the moderator, Darius Hupov.

To participate at the online meeting, please click the invitation link for the Syndicate 9 Discord server:
https://discord.gg/rs2YUAwP. The meeting will take place at the “Intalnirea S9” voice channel.

(18) I’M NOT SAYING IT’S ALIENS… [Item by Dann.] China’s Yutu-2 lunar rover has found something interesting on the moon.  The rover is going to spend the next couple of months trundling over to get a closer look. “China’s Yutu 2 rover spots cube-shaped ‘mystery hut’ on far side of the moon” at Space.com.

China’s Yutu 2 rover has spotted a mystery object on the horizon while working its way across Von Kármán crater on the far side of the moon.

Yutu 2 spotted a cube-shaped object on the horizon to the north and roughly 260 feet (80 meters) away in November during the mission’s 36th lunar day, according to a Yutu 2 diary published by Our Space, a Chinese language science outreach channel affiliated with the China National Space Administration (CNSA).

Our Space referred to the object as a “mystery hut” but this [is] a placeholder name rather than an accurate description….

…but it’s aliens. Or the Transformers lunar base.

(19) GRESHAM’S LAW. Guillermo del Toro, director of Nightmare Alley, appeared on Jimmy Kimmel Live.

Guillermo talks about his new movie…,, his attention to detail, his drawing notebook, his mother being a little bit of a “witch,” learning about tarot cards, getting married, shooting around the pandemic, Rooney Mara being secretly pregnant during it, buying and selling things on eBay, and he quizzes Jimmy about 1930s slang.

(20) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] “In Honest Trailers:  Let There Be Carnage,” the Screen Junkies say ,” If you’re making a film about a squirelly guy who talks to himself, you get Gollum (Andy Serkis) to direct it.”  Under Serkis’s direction, the film features “bad CGI goo,” “bad wigs,” “British actors doing really bad American accents,” and a mysterious reference to Beverly Hills Cop 2!

[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, Chris Barkley, Darius Hupov, Dann, John King Tarpinian, Andrew Porter, and Michael Toman for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Camestros Felapton.]

Revisit “Fighting Forties” LASFS in Rob Hansen’s Bixelstrasse

Did “Shangri-LA” or Ah! Sweet Idiocy! best describe the Los Angeles Science Fantasy Society of the 1940s? The answer is – Yes! – as readers of Rob Hansen’s new fannish ebook will discover. Bixelstrasse: The SF Fan Community of 1940s Los Angeles is the latest addition to TAFF’s library of free downloads. 

The story emerges from the participants’ own words – famous and notorious figures like Forrest J Ackerman, Charles Burbee, Claude Degler, Francis Towner Laney, “Tigrina” and “Morojo”, as well as pros of the day including Ray Bradbury, Edgar Rice Burroughs, Ray Harryhausen, Robert A. Heinlein, L. Ron Hubbard, Fritz Lang, Fritz Leiber and A.E. van Vogt.

It’s another huge compilation — 193,000 words — and available in multiple formats at the Trans-Atlantic Fan Fund’s website, where they also hope you’ll make a little donation to the fund. Find it here.

From Rob Hansen’s Foreword:

The Bixel Street era of LASFS has fascinated me since I first read about it in Harry Warner Jr’s All Our Yesterdays. Yes, there have been other occasions on which fans have shared premises in varying degrees, but to have a community of fans centred around a clubroom and living in nearby rooming houses on the same street gave rise to all-week, around-the-clock fanning of a sort not seen before or since. […]

This set-up, the whole “fannish village” they established, was immensely appealing to me in my twenties (though seeing so much of each other inevitably exacerbated personality clashes, of course). Add in the large numbers of fans from around the country who passed through Los Angeles thanks to the war, many of them processed via the Induction Center at nearby Fort MacArthur before being sent off to fight, and you have something unique in the history of fandom, a saga featuring fans and pros, communists and homosexuals, madmen and mystics, Hollywood stars and spies.

Within the confines of mundane South Bixel Street lay the Bixelstrasse, a name that describes the tight cluster of dwellings on that street that housed its fannish community….

From Bixelstrasse: The SF Fan Community of 1940s Los Angeles.

Fans appearing in the cover photo taken at the 1941 LASFS Xmas Party are as follows. Rear: Helen Finn, Dorothy Finn, Eleanor O’Brien, Morojo, Art Joquel, Ed Chamberlain, Gerald Miller, Henry Hasse. Front: Paul Freehafer, Peggy Finn, Walt Daugherty, Forry Ackerman, Norwin Johnson. Sign over door reads SHOTTLE BOP. See also the 1940s LASFS Gallery at Rob Hansen’s site.

[Thanks to David Langford for the scoop!]

Pixel Scroll 11/1/21 Have Stillsuit, Will Travel

(1) IMAGINARY PAPERS. Now available to read online is the latest issue of Imaginary Papers, the ASU Center for Science and the Imagination’s quarterly newsletter on science fiction worldbuilding, futures thinking, and imagination.

The issue features an essay by science fiction author Lena Nguyen (We Have Always Been Here) on the video game Detroit: Become Human —  

…From her separate menu, Chloe serves as a witness and judge of the player’s actions in the main campaign, visibly reacting to their choices. Detroit tells the branching stories of three androids who are beginning to achieve sentience; they all experience “deviancy,” a divergence in their programming that allows them to experience emotion and join a burgeoning synthetic rebellion. The player’s choices are the guiding force determining whether these characters live, love, die, revert to their programming, or achieve true sentience….

Also featured are SF scholar Dagmar Van Engen on the unfinished 1910s Black science fiction serial “Punta, Revolutionist,” and a writeup about Imagine 2200, a climate fiction contest and series of stories from the environmental magazine Grist.

(2) AFRICAN SPECULATIVE FICTION. Omenana Speculative Fiction Magazine Issue 19 is out. The tri-monthly magazine publishes speculative fiction writers from across Africa and the African Diaspora.

(3) DISABILITY STUDIES. Jose L. Garcia analyzes sff’s cyborg subgenre with its tendency to presume “something of the original human is lost through the process of prosthesis implementation, even if is portrayed as ‘enhancement.’” “At My Most Beautiful: the Politics of Body Prostheses, Disability, and Replacement in Arryn Diaz’s Dresden Codak” at Vector.

…While a number of stories complicate the idea of the cyborg, there has been (comparatively) little critical exploration of cyborg bodies in disability studies until relatively recently.  Yet, such analyses are of critical importance for understanding how the visual language of prosthesis has evolved.  At this juncture of the cyborg and disability sits Kimiko Ross, the protagonist of Arryn Diaz’s webcomic, Dresden Codak.  Ross prominently features prosthetic body parts, and the ways in which Diaz sets up scenes with Ross grab from the spectrum of cyborg subjecthood.  These range from frank dealings with images of disability, images of power and “augmentation,” and even sexuality (the latter not overt, but noticeable enough to be said to sit within that tradition of sexualized cyborg subjecthood, similar to the opening sequence to the 1995 Ghost in the Shell film, which lingers on images of the naked cyborg body at several points).  The specific frames that centre on Ross’ body create a network of significations that both reifies and frustrates three aspects of a representation: the cyborg, the traumatised body, and the disabled body.  

Consciously or not, Diaz’s comic trades in the existing visual language of cyborg bodies and its adjacent fields: disability, femininity, and political alienation…. 

(4) A BIG STATE HAS A LITTLE LIST. [Item by Jennifer Hawthorne.] A Texas legislator has put together a list of 850 books and is demanding that schools in the state tell him if they have these books in their libraries and how much they have spent on them. Exactly what he plans to do with this list is unclear. “Texas lawmaker wants to know what books on race, sexuality are in schools” in the Texas Tribune.

A Republican state lawmaker has launched an investigation into Texas school districts over the type of books they have, particularly if they pertain to race or sexuality or “make students feel discomfort.”

State Rep. Matt Krause, in his role as chair of the House Committee on General Investigating, notified the Texas Education Agency that he is “initiating an inquiry into Texas school district content,” according to an Oct. 25 letter obtained by The Texas Tribune.

Krause’s letter provides a 16-page list of about 850 book titles and asks the districts if they have these books, how many copies they have and how much money they spent on the books.

A PDF of the entire list is here, Unfortunately, the list is not put together in any kind of easy-to-read order, but a quick glance immediately revealed four SFF works: The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood (graphic novel version), V for Vendetta by Alan Moore, The Last Man by Brian Vaughn, and When We Were Magic by Sarah Gailey. And it includes non-genre works by figures whose names will be familiar to sff readers – Carmen Maria Machado, Mark Oshiro, Mikki Kendall, and Ta-Nehisi Coates. I’m sure there must be more on there and thought maybe the Filers would find it interesting to see how many more they could find….

(5) FANHISTORY ZOOM. Fanac.org has added their latest Fan History Zoom Session to YouTube:

Keith Freeman and British fan historian Rob Hansen provide a first-hand look at some of the landmark moments of British fandom. Keith found fandom in the 1950s, while still enlisted in the RAF, and became part of the Cheltenham Circle. Over the next decades, he was heavily involved in science fiction fandom. There are wonderful stories here of the origins of St. Fantony (and the associated jousting), the role of the Liverpool group in fannish marriages, the British Science Fiction Association (BSFA), and well known fans such as Eric Jones and Dave Kyle. In addition to fannish tales, Keith relates a chilling first person account of an H-bomb explosion on Christmas Island… Rob Hansen, author of “Then: Science Fiction Fandom in the UK: 1930-1980” is both interviewer and participant, eliciting an absorbing hour of fannish history.

(6) DANGER FAN. Camestros Felpaton prefaces “Review: Foundation Episode 7” with irresistible hooks and a spoiler warning. Will you be reeled in anyway?

Spoilers below! Also Jurrasic Park and Karl Marx guest-star in this review.

In many ways, this is a key episode for the series as the show is now only very lightly tethered to the books. As Cora points out in her review of the episode, the departure from the plot has led one of Foundation’s most notable fans, economist Paul Krugman, to stop watching. I think he’s missing out on a fun show but without knowing the plot connections from the previous episodes, the only obvious connections with the books in this episode are the character names.

All four plots of the show get an airing and each of the characters central to those plots are each heading towards a crisis…

(7) SHOOTING ARROWS IN THE BIG APPLE. Daniel Dern says Marvel Studios’ Hawkeye trailer “Looks like strongly based on Matt Fraction’s great run on the Hawkeye comic.” Here’s a HooplaDigital search, though there may be other relevant issues/collections — Hoopladigital.com.

(8) WHERE TO HAVE A DRINK WITH A BLADERUNNER. “A Gorgeous New Cocktail Bar Opens Inside Historic LA Bradbury Building”Eater LA has the story.

…Perhaps most interestingly, the new Wyman Bar (named for the architect of the famed building, which was built in 1893) will pay homage to its starring role as a backdrop to the film Blade Runner by showing set images from the movie taken by late photographer Stephen Vaughan. Other activations of the space will follow in the coming months. As for the space itself, expect a long marble bar, plush stools, and lots of rich, dark woods inside the warm, brick-touched space designed by DesignAgency….

(9) WILLIAMS OBIT. Charlotte Williams – known in Tennessee fandom as “the third Charlie Williams” — died October 26 at the age of 68 reports the Daily Times of Blount County, Tennessee. The family obituary recalls that “She enjoyed reading science fiction, fantasy, and mysteries, and attending and organizing science fiction conventions,” and Fancyclopedia 3 records that Williams was the first woman to chair Chattacon – which she did in both 1994 and 1995.

(10) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

2000 – Twenty-one years ago, the Starhunter series (renamed Starhunter 2300 in its final second season) premiered on The Movie Network in Canada. (This is not the same as The Movie Channel in the States in case you were wondering.) It was created by G. Philip Jackson, Daniel D’or and Nelu Ghiran. The principal cast for season one was Michael Paré of Streets of Fire fame along with Tanya Allen and Claudette Roche. It was executive produced by Elaine Steinbeck who was the wife of John Steinbeck. It had better than decent ratings for its two seasons of forty-four episodes but died over some of worst relations between investors and the producers of a series that you can imagine. (They even got Paré fired after one season.) If you’re interested in watching it, it is available in two separate DVD sets in the States. Starhunter ReduX Is the producer’s edition with censored scenes, better SFX and such that came four years ago. That is available on Amazon Prime. 

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born November 1, 1882 Edward Van Sloan. He’s best remembered for his roles in three Thirties Universal Studios films of DraculaFrankenstein and The Mummy. He was Abraham Van Helsing in The Dracula, a role he’d done in touring production of Dracula by Hamilton Deane and John L. Balderston. He would be in a number of other horror films though none remembered as well as these. (Died 1964.)
  • Born November 1, 1917 Zenna Henderson. Her first story was published in The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction in 1951. The People series appeared in magazines and anthologies, as well as the stitched together Pilgrimage: The Book of the People and The People: No Different Flesh. Other volumes include The People Collection and Ingathering: The Complete People Stories. She was nominated for a Hugo Award at Detention for her novelette “Captivity.” Her story “Pottage” was made into the 1972 ABC-TV Movie, The People.  “Hush” became an episode of George A. Romero’s Tales from the Darkside which first aired in 1988. (Died 1983.)
  • Born November 1, 1923 Gordon R. Dickson. Truly one of the best writers in the genre. I’m not going to fully detail his stellar career as that would require a skald to do so. His first published genre fiction was the short story “Trespass!” written with Poul Anderson, in the Spring 1950 issue of Fantastic StoriesChilde Cycle involving the Dorsai is his best known series and the Hoka are certainly his silliest creation. I’m very, very fond of his Dragon Knight series which I think really reflects his interest in that history. He’s got three Hugos, first at Loncon II for the “Soldier, Ask Not” story, next at Denvention Two for  the “Lost Dorsai” novella and “The Cloak and The Staff” novelette.  (Died 2001.)
  • Born November 1, 1941 Robert Foxworth, 80, He’s been on quite a number of genre shows including The Questor Tapes,seaQuest DSVDeep Space NineOuter LimitsEnterpriseStargate SG-1 and Babylon 5. His first genre role was as Dr. Victor Frankenstein in Frankenstein where Bo Swenson played the monster. 
  • Born November 1, 1942 Michael Fleisher. Comics writer best known for his DC Comics work of in the Seventies and Eighties on Spectre and Jonah Hex. He also has had long runs on Ghost Rider and Spider-Woman early on. I’ve read them in the Marvel Unlimited app and it shows that he is a rather good writer. (Died 2018.)
  • Born November 1, 1959 Susanna Clarke, 62. Author of Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell which I think wins my award for the most footnoted work in genre literature. It won the World Fantasy, Locus, and Mythopoeic Awards, and a Hugo at Interaction. It was adapted into a BBC series and optioned for a film. The Ladies of Grace Adieu and Other Stories collects her short works and is splendid indeed. Her latest novel, Piranesi, is getting good reviews here. It’s been nominated for a Hugo this year. 
  • Born November 1, 1973 Aishwarya Rai, 48. Indian actress who’s done two SF films in India, the Tamil language Enthiran (translates as Robot) in which she’s Sana, the protagonist’s medical student girlfriend, and Mala in Action Replayy, a Hindi-language SF romantic comedy. She was also Sonia in The Pink Panther 2.

(12) COMICS SECTION.

(13) TODAY’S QUESTION. Sent to us by young John King Tarpinian:

Why wasn’t “Iron Man” called “Fe Male?”

(14) THEY SET THE TONE. In the Washington Post, Stacey Henley uses the 25th anniversary of the first Lara Croft video game to interview voice actors who have voiced the character over the years. “Meet the women who brought ‘Tomb Raider’s’ Lara Croft to life”.

When Shelley Blond first stepped into a recording studio in 1996, she had no idea her performance would become a foundational element in the legacy of one of gaming’s most iconic female characters. Lara Croft is one of the most glamorous video game leads of all time. But Blond, the first voice actor to play Croft, remembers the role as anything but.“I remember going into a London studio for five hours and recording all the lines and sound effects like grunts, dying and fighting noises,” Blond told The Post via email. “These days, it’s all a much lengthier process with mo-cap [motion-capture] and all the physicalities that go with that. For me it was just go in, read the lines as directed and leave. I didn’t think about it again until I saw the game advertised and her image on the front of the Face magazine.”…

(15) THAT’S A WRAP. When it comes to burrito references in literature, John Scalzi modestly declines credit except where it is given:

(16) BOBA TIME. This trailer for the Boba Fett project dropped today.

(17) FAMILY HEIRLOOM. Parade interviews Ghostbusters: Afterlife director Jason Reitman and his father, Ivan Reitman: “Ghostbusters: Afterlife Director Jason Reitman Says He Was ‘Scared of This Project’ and Carrying on His Father’s Legacy”.

Jason, what are your memories of seeing the original get made?

Jason: I remember when they dumped marshmallow on [actor] William Atherton [EPA inspector Walter Peck]. I remember some of the special effects tests, and I was there for the recording of the original score. It was one of the first moments where I fell in love with the movies.

Ivan: Weren’t you also there for the test on the cards?

Jason: Yes, the index cards in the library. The ones that fly out of the drawer! What was that called again?

(18) STILL LOOKING FOR THE SMILEY. The article “FCC Commissioner Says He’s Afraid of Robodogs and We Can’t Tell If He’s Joking” is behind a paywall at Futurism, however, the tweet that inspired it is below.

FCC commissioner Brendan Carr went on a Twitter rant this week about robodogs, citing apocalyptic science fiction movies and television before ultimately implying — though we’re honestly still not sure — that maybe he had just been joking about the whole thing….

(19) A SLIPPERY SLOPE. The first episode of BBC Radio 4’s Slime: A Natural History by Susanne Wedlich is “The Cosmic Horror of Slime”. All five episodes are available to listen to here.

Slime is an ambiguous thing. It exists somewhere between a solid and a liquid. It inspires revulsion even while it compels our fascination in fiction and on the screen. It is both a vehicle for pathogens and the strongest weapon in our immune system. Many of us know little about it, yet it is the substance on which our world turns. 

Sirine Saba reads from Susanne Wedlich’s ground-breaking new book which leads us on a journey through the 3-billion-year history of slime, from the part it played in the evolution of life on Earth to its potential role in climate change and life beyond our planet. 

There is probably no single living creature that does not depend on slime in some way. Most organisms use slime for a number of functions: as a structural material, as jellyfish do; for propagation, as plants do; to catch prey, as frogs do; for defence, like the hagfish; or for movement, like snails. 

In this first episode, the story of how slime continues to fascinate and terrify us on the page and on the screen. From Dr Who to Ghostbusters, from the disturbing stories of HP Lovecraft to the horror of Stephen King, there is a slime for every time, guaranteed to ooze into our deepest fears. 

(20) FOLLOW THE BOUNCING BALL. “When dinosaurs ruled the earth.” Yeah, that’s about how long ago I used to waste sacks of quarters playing pinball – but back then they hadn’t yet dug up this machine! Jurassic Park Pinball Machine Takes You on a Prehistoric Adventure”Yahoo! has the story.

Archaeologists have yet to find any evidence dinosaurs had their own arcades. Probably because the T.Rexes got upset that they couldn’t play with their little arms. But Stern Pinball is now bringing Steven Spielberg’s big screen classic to mankind’s own gaming rooms. The company calls its newest game “a pinball adventure 65 million years in the making.” Welcome to the new Jurassic Park Pin….

(21) VIDEO OF THE DAY. Green Life presents a questionable explanation of how animated films are made.

[Thanks to Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Joey Eschrich, Rich Lynch, Jennifer Hawthorne, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, John King Tarpinian, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]

Pixel Scroll 10/17/21 The Scroll Of Dr. Pringles And Other Pixels And Other Pixels

(1) THE 8 BILLION BODY PROBLEM. Liu Cixin told the WSJ he’s not as optimistic as he once was. “’Three-Body Problem’ Author No Longer Sure Humankind Would Unite Against Hostile Aliens” reports The Byte.

In his 2008 novel “The Three-Body Problem,” Liu Cixin wrote about nations banding together to deal with a looming alien invasion that would likely result in the end of humanity.

Now he’s not so sure about that unity, Cixin said in an interview with The Wall Street Journal. If anything, he said, the coronavirus pandemic shows that we might do the opposite.

“In the past, we used to have an assumption: that if humanity was faced with a collective threat, people would throw away their differences, unite, join forces and overcome the crisis together,” Cixin told the WSJ. “Now I realize that might have been too perfect of a wish. Looking back at the past two years, the pandemic has pushed nations toward more divisions.”…

(2) NEXT FANHISTORY ZOOM SESSION. British fanhistory is highlighted in the next FANAC FanHistory Zoom, set for October 23 at 2:00 p.m. Eastern (7:00 p.m. London).

Keith Freeman and British fan historian Rob Hansen provide a first-hand look at some of the landmark moments of British fandom, from the inside.  Keith has been a science fiction fan since the 50s – he was a member of the Cheltenham Circle, a founder of the Reading Science Fiction Club, and is credited with reviving the Order of St. Fantony. He’s a fanzine fan (still active!), a past officer of the British Science Fiction Society (BSFA), and the 1977 winner of the Doc Weir Award. 

Among his considerable  fannish accomplishments, interviewer Rob Hansen is well known as a historian of British fandom, having published the definitive history Then — Science Fiction Fandom in the UK: 1930-1980Join us for this interview/discussion and find out about Brumcon, St. Fantony, the SF Society of Great Britain, the Eastercon relationship with BSFA, and more, including perhaps what it’s like to watch an H-bomb explode. 

To register, send an e-mail to to fanac@fanac.org .

(3) A PEEK AT THE TERMS. Deadline gives a 30,000-foot overview of the deal in “Hollywood Strike Averted As IATSE & AMPTP Reach Deal On New Film & TV Contract”.

…The deal for the new contract – called the Basic Agreement – is now in the books, but negotiations with the AMPTP will continue for IATSE members who work under the similar Area Standards Agreement in major production hubs such as New Mexico, New York, Illinois, Georgia and Louisiana.

More details are to come, but deal points include “improved wages and working conditions for streaming,” 10-hour turnaround times between shifts, MLK Day is now a holiday, “Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Initiatives,” increased funding of the health and pension plans and a 3% rate increase every year for the duration of the yett-to-be approved contract, among other changes. The AMPTP had wanted to settle the rate increase at around 3% for the first year and then shift it down to 2.5% or even less for the subsequent two years of the contract….

(4) IN DEADLY COLOR. “Why Is Frankenstein’s Monster Green?” asks Mental Floss. He wasn’t always.

In the 203 years since Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein helped shape the horror genre as we know it today, there have been dozens of interpretations of Frankenstein’s Monster. For most of us, the version of the character that immediately comes to mind is the one from Universal’s classic 1931 film: Big green guy with a flat head and bolts in his neck who isn’t much of a talker—which is a far cry from the yellow-skinned, chatty creature Shelley imagined. But if our popular idea of the Monster’s appearance was dictated by a black-and-white movie, why is Frankenstein’s Monster so often depicted as being green?

(5) A PUBLIC CONFESSION. “Lauded Spanish female crime writer revealed to be 3 men” reports MSN.com.

Spain‘s literary world has been thrown into chaos after a coveted book prize was awarded to “Carmen Mola” — an acclaimed female thriller writer who turned out to be the pseudonym of three men.

Television scriptwriters Agustín Martínez, Jorge Díaz and Antonio Mercero shocked guests, who included Spain’s King Felipe and Queen Letizia, at the Planeta awards Friday when they took to the stage to pick up the prize money and reveal the celebrated crime author did not actually exist.

On the website for Mola’s agent, the writer — who has been compared to Italy’s esteemed novelist Elena Ferrante — is described as a “Madrid-born author” writing under a pseudonym in a bid to remain anonymous. The description for Mola on the website also contains a series of photographs of an unknown woman looking away from the camera….

The news stunned many fellow literary figures — and not everyone is thrilled about the news. Beatriz Gimeno, who describes herself as a writer and a feminist — and who was once the director of the Women’s Institute, a key national equality body in Spain — took to Twitter to criticize Martínez, Díaz and Mercero.

In a tweet, Gimeno said: “Beyond using a female pseudonym, these guys have spent years doing interviews. It’s not just the name, it’s the fake profile they’ve used to take in readers and journalists. Scammers.”…

(6) DATA POINTS. In the Washington Post, Donald Lievenson interviews Brent Spiner about his fictionalized memoir Fan Fiction.  Spiner explains why his memoir is fictionalized and how the pandemic had him writing much more than he would if there was no pandemic (where his book would be an “as told to” book.( “Brent Spiner, Data from ‘Star Trek,’ discusses his book”.)

Q: It’s a mixed blessing to be associated with a popular character. Leonard Nimoy famously wrote a book, “I am Not Spock,” then years later wrote another, “I am Spock.” Did writing your book help you in coming to terms with your relationship to Data?

A: It is a double-edged sword. The larger part of that sword has been very positive. It’s been a great job. On the other hand, what I was trained to do was to play as many different things as possible, so it has been limiting sort of in that way. I think there are times maybe I haven’t gotten a job because I am so identified with the character. I, frankly, like to think I’ve been typecast as the reason when I don’t get jobs, because the alternative is that I’m just lousy (laughs). But all that being said with relation to character, if I had to have one character that I had to be typecast as, it would be this character. There is a feeling of trust people have in the character that he’s incapable of hurting them. The confusion has been that I am that as well, and clearly, I’m not. But also, because I also got to play so many different things on the show as him, I got to try on the skin of all kinds of different types of humanity. I got to play his brother, his father, his uncle, his ancestors. It turned out to be a role that I was actually able to stretch a bit.

(7) LOGROLLING DAYS. In Debarkle: Chapter 68, Camestros Felapton reaches 2019 and the 20BooksTo50K Nebula ticket: “History Rhymes — Nebulas 2019”.

The group was unsurprisingly called 20BooksTo50K and by 2017 Anderle and Martelle were running a 20BooksTo50K conference in Las Vegas to help aspiring authors make money from self-publishing….

By 2019 the Facebook group had over 26,000 members and was running conferences internationally[7]….

In November 2018 Jonathan Brazee posted a message to the 20BooksTo50K Facebook group encouraging eligible members to take part in the SFWA’s Nebula Awards. At the end of the post was a long list of titles by 20BooksTo50K members that might be suitable works to add. Brazee was quite clear that this was not intended to be a slate but just a means to encourage participation and maybe improve the number of independently published works on the SFWA reading list.

… The post had stated that it wasn’t a slate but the difference between Brazee’s asterisked list and a slate was minimal. In addition four of the six authors from the slate that had ended up being Nebula finalists had also been published recently by LMBPN including Jonathan Brazee, Richard Fox, A.K. DuBoff, R.R. Virdi and Yudhanjaya Wijeratne. Blogger Aaron Pound looked further into the Brazee’s original list and found that 15 of the authors had listed had appeared either in a LMBPN anthology series called The Expanding Universe or had appeared in a non-LMBPN anthology series called Sci-Fi Bridge

(8) FERGUSON OBIT. BBC producer Michael Ferguson died October 4 at the age of 84. He worked on and directed episodes of Doctor Who, including the first episode to feature the Daleks, shortly after the series began in 1963.

…Working on his first programme as an assistant floor manager – while also holding an actors’ union Equity card – he waved the first Dalek “sucker” arm, resembling a sink plunger, to be seen as it threatened the Time Lord’s companion Barbara Wright (Jacqueline Hill). The Daleks’ “bodies” were not revealed until the next part of the story.

Then, he became one of the few directors to work with all of the Time Lord’s first three incarnations: William Hartnell, battling a self-thinking computer in The War Machines (1966); Patrick Troughton, taking on the Ice Warriors in The Seeds of Death (1969); and Jon Pertwee, in both The Ambassadors of Death (1970) and The Claws of Axos (1971).

Ferguson gained a reputation for being adventurous and inventive, with angled, “point of view” and silhouetted shots, “jump” ones that ramped up the tension, and characters filmed from below to show them looking down.

Frazer Hines, who played the Doctor’s companion Jamie in the second of Ferguson’s serials, recalled that he would challenge actors in rehearsal to perform a “speed run”, delivering their lines as fast as possible to ensure they knew them thoroughly. “It’s very good for the old brain cells,” added Hines….

(9) MEMORY LANE.

  • 1980 – Forty-one years ago at Noreascon Two, Alien would win the Hugo for Best Dramatic Presentation. It was directed by Ridley Scott from the screenplay by Dan O’Bannon off the story by O’Bannon and Ronald Shusett. This would the second Hugo nomination for O’Bannon who was nominated earlier at MidAmeriCon for Dark Star. He’d would win his second Hugo several years later for Aliens at Conspiracy ’87, and be later nominated at Chicon V for Total Recall and Alien 3 at ConFrancisco. A half million audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes give it a horrifyingly great ninety-four percent rating.  

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born October 17, 1914 Jerry Siegel. His most famous creation was Superman, which he created in collaboration with his friend Joe Shuster. He was inducted (along with the previously deceased Shuster) into the comic book industry’s Will Eisner Comic Book Hall of Fame in 1992 and the Jack Kirby Hall of Fame in 1993. I see he edited a magazine called Science Fiction according to ISFDB for two issues in 1932 which was definitely genre. (Died 1996.)
  • Born October 17, 1917 Marsha Hunt, 104. Performer who appeared in both the original versions of the Twilight Zone and the Outer Limits, also appeared in Star Trek: The Next Generation’s “Too Short a Season” as Anne Jameson, Shadow Chasers and Fear No Evil. She is also the oldest living member of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences. She was blacklisted by Hollywood in the Fifties during McCarthyism.
  • Born October 17, 1921 Tom Poston. One of his acting first roles was The Alkarian (uncredited at the time ) in “The Mystery of Alkar” episode of Tom Corbett, Space Cadet in 1950. He much later had the recurring role of Mr. Bickley in Mork & Mindy. He also showed up on Get Smart! in the “Shock It to Me! Episode as Doctor Zharko. (Died 2007.)
  • Born October 17, 1926 Julia Adams. Her most famous role no doubt is being in the arms of The Creature from Black Lagoon. She’s also been on Alfred Hitchcock Presents three times, The Girl from U.N.C.L.E. The Night GalleryKolchak: The Night StalkerThe Incredible Hulk and Lost all once. Signed photos of her in her swimsuit on location for Creature are highly collectible and rather expensive these days going by high prices on eBay currently. And the movie poster is rare. (Died 2019.)
  • Born October 17, 1934 Alan Garner, 87. His best book? That’d be Boneland which technically is the sequel to The Weirdstone of Brisingamen and The Moon of Gomrath but really isn’t though I can’t say why as that’d be a massive spoiler. Oh, and The Carnegie Medal-winning The Owl Service is amazingly superb! There’s a video series of the latter but I’ve not seen it. He’s garnered a World Fantasy Award for Lifetime Achievement.
  • Born October 17, 1946 Bruce McAllister, 75. He’s a superb short story writer as you can see in The Girl Who Loved Animals and Other Stories that Golden Gryphon published originally and which Cemetery Dance has now in an ePub edition along with his three novels.  His Dream Baby novel is an interesting if brutal take on the Vietnam War with a definite SF take to it. His Dream Baby novelette was nominated for a Hugo at Nolacon II, and his “Kin” short story was nominated at Nippon 2007. 
  • Born October 17, 1968 Mark Gatiss, 53. English actor, screenwriter, director, producer and novelist. Writer for Doctor Who with Steven Moffat, whom Gatiss also worked with on Jekyll. He also co-created and co-produced Sherlock. As an actor, I’ll note he does Vogon voices in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, and is Mycroft Holmes in Sherlock.  And he played Tycho Nestoris in Game of Thrones.
  • Born October 17, 1971 Patrick Ness, 49. Best known for his books for young adults, including the Chaos Walking trilogy and A Monster Calls. He’s also the creator and writer of the Doctor Who spin-off Class series. And he’s written a Doctor Who story, “Tip of the Tongue”, a Fifth Doctor story. He won The Otherwise Award for The Knife of Never Letting Go, and his Monster Calls novel won both a Carnegie and a Kitschie as well being nominated for a Stoker and a Clarke.

(11) COMICS SECTION.

Tom Gauld in The Guardian.

(12) LEVAR’S NEXT JOB. Kenan Thompson plays new NFL coach LeVar Burton in Saturday Night Live’s cold open. I didn’t think it was that funny (although all the points they were making are true enough). The LeVar Burton characterization comes at the 7-minute mark if you want to jump to it.

(13) FOUNDATION AND MOLASSES. Cora Buhlert reviews the fifth episode: “Foundation realises ‘Upon Awakening’ that the story is still moving at a glacial pace”. Beware spoilers.

…I’m sorry, but I just don’t understand the storytelling choices this show makes. Like I’ve said before, I accept that a literal adaptation of the original stories isn’t possible, because stories of people sitting around and talking would not make for very thrilling TV. However, the shows pads out the lean narrative of the original stories with a lot of stuff that’s at best irrelevant and at worst contradicts the story. The show also deals with the fact that the Foundation series takes place over a long period of time (500 years for the original trilogy with the sequels and prequels spanning an even longer period of time) by inserting yet more unnecessary time jumps….

(14) BUT Y? Variety says this show’s run at Hulu is over: “’Y: The Last Man’ Canceled at FX on Hulu Before Season One Finale”.

Y: The Last Man” has been canceled by FX, weeks before its first season debuts its final episode on FX on Hulu.

The news was shared by “Y: The Last Man” showrunner Eliza Clark through her Twitter on Sunday. In her post, Clark thanks FX and the show’s creative team for their partnership on the project. She also expresses hope that “Y: The Last Man” will be able to continue its run at a different network.

“We have learned that we will not be moving forward with FX on Hulu for Season 2 of ‘Y: The Last Man.’ I have never in my life been more committed to a story, and there is so much more left to tell,” Clark wrote. “‘We had a gender diverse team of brilliant artists, led by women at almost every corner of our production… It is the most collaborative, creatively fulfilling and beautiful thing I have ever been a part of. We don’t want it to end.”

(15) IT’S SHOWTIME. “Russian crew wraps trailblazing movie in space, safely returns to Earth”CNN has the story.

…Peresild and Shipenko traveled to the space station alongside veteran Russian cosmonaut Anton Shkaplerov on October 5, encountering a bit of real-life drama — in the form of communications issues — while docking to the space station. Over the course of 12 days, they filmed their movie, “Challenge,” the first feature film shot in space.

The movie will tell the story of a surgeon, played by Peresild, who has to operate on a sick cosmonaut in space, portrayed by Novitskiy, because the cosmonaut’s medical condition prevents him from returning to Earth to be treated. Filming for the movie continued during the crew farewells and hatch closing.

The film is being made under a commercial agreement between Roscosmos and Moscow-based media entities Channel One and studio Yellow, Black and White.

(16) WHO INSPIRED. [Item by Ben Bird Person.] Illustrator Elizabeth Fijalkowski did this piece on the Robert Holmes Doctor featured in the 1976 Doctor Who serial “The Brain of Morbius”. Design based on comic artist Paul Hanley!

(17) BAT TRAILER. Warner Bros. dropped a new trailer for The Batman.

Matt Reeves’ “The Batman,” starring Robert Pattinson in the dual role of Gotham City’s vigilante detective and his alter ego, reclusive billionaire Bruce Wayne.

(18) THE MITE HAS A THOUSAND EYES. “Incredible Trilobite Fossil Reveals It Had Hundreds Of Eyes” at IFLScience.

A fossilized trilobite dating back 390 million years has revealed some unnerving secrets about the large marine arthropods – they had eyes unlike any other animal ever discovered. What looked to be two distinct eyes, like scientists would expect, were actually large systems of hundreds of individual lenses that all formed their own mini-eyes. That is to say that these animals had hundreds and hundreds of eyes. 

Behind each lens were a series of facets anchored by photoreceptors and a network of nerve cells, capturing the light from each before sending it down a central optical nerve to the brain, creating what can only be assumed as an entirely unique way of seeing the world. The research was published in the journal Scientific Reports. …

(19) BREAKTHROUGH, WE CAN NOW DETECT SMALL EXOPLANETS. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] Small exoplanet, as well as a possibly habitable super-Earth, detected.  Large planets orbiting other stars outside our Solar system (exoplanets) are easier to detect than smaller exoplanets. Also large planets around small stars are easier to detect than large planets around large stars: large stars are less affected by the gravity of planets than small stars and one way of detecting exoplanets is to look at the way stars wobble as their planets orbit.  But the detection limits have improved and a few years ago we began to detect the first Earth-sized exoplanets.

Now, a collaboration of mainly mainland continental Europeans using the European Southern Observatory, have detected a planet half the mass (about a quarter the size) of Venus orbiting a (small) Red Dwarf (L 98-59) some 34.5 light years away.

If this were not enough, the collaboration has also detected a super-Earth in the system’s habitable zone. More good news, this system lies within the field of view of the forthcoming James Webb telescope and so it is likely we will soon learn more about these exoplanets. (See Demangeon, O. D. S., et al. (2021) https://www.aanda.org/articles/aa/pdf/2021/09/aa40728-21.pdf  Warm terrestrial planet with half the mass of Venus transiting a nearby star. Astronomy & Astrophysicsvol. 653, A41.)

(20) PLAY IT AGAIN SAM.  “Supernova Déjà-Vu: Astronomers Spot the Same Stellar Explosion Three Times – And Predict a Fourth Sighting in 16 Years” says SciTechDaily.

An enormous amount of gravity from a cluster of distant galaxies causes space to curve so much that light from them is bent and emanated our way from numerous directions. This “gravitational lensing” effect has allowed University of Copenhagen astronomers to observe the same exploding star in three different places in the heavens. They predict that a fourth image of the same explosion will appear in the sky by 2037. The study, which has recently been published in the journal Nature Astronomy, provides a unique opportunity to explore not just the supernova itself, but the expansion of our universe.

[Thanks to Andrew Porter, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge,Joe Siclari,  Chris Barkley, Ben Bird Person, Daniel Dern, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Jim Janney.]

Pixel Scroll 9/23/21 Shattered Like A Glass Pixel

(1) CLARKE AWARD CEREMONY. The Arthur C. Clarke Award winner will be announced September 27. Award Director Tom Hunter adds, “Long-time subscribers may remember back to pre-pandemic times when we used to announce our winner in July rather than September, but as with last year we’ve been committed to going one step at a time across our announcements and judging process as things continue to evolve. Hopefully 2022 will allow us to return to our usual scheduling. In the meantime, as with 2020, we have decided to forego a public ceremony event this year, but I am delighted to share that this year’s winner will be revealed live by presenter & science fiction fan Samira Ahmed on BBC Radio 4’s Front Row.”

(2) UNAUTHORIZED. Will Oliver has dug up an unauthorized sequel to Robert E. Howard’s “Worms of the Earth” from 1938, decades before L. Sprague de Camp and Lin Carter started up their own Howard pastiche business: “The Robert E. Howard Bran Mak Morn Sequel: Maker of Shadows by Jack Mann” at Adventures Fantastic.

 … Lai believes that Howard first came to the attention of Cannell in 1933. After the publication of his “Worms of the Earth” in the November 1932 issue of Weird Tales, Christine Campbell Thomson included the story in her collection Keep on the Light (Selwyn and Blount, 1933). The book was the ninth in a series of collected tales of horror and the supernatural titled Not at Night. Howard had previously appeared in the eighth volume of the series with “The Black Stone,” and that anthology was titled Grim Death (Selwyn and Blount, 1932); that was also REH’s first ever appearance in a hardcover book. So taken with Howard’s Bran Mak Morn story, Cannell incorporated “Worms of the Earth” into his Gees series, the fifth book, making it a sort of sequel. The version I read came from Ramble House and, despite the poor cover, the story appeared to me to be a good reprinting of the story….

(3) BIG BUCKS. The Guardian reports that a first edition of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein has sold for a record-breaking sum: “First edition of Frankenstein sells for record breaking $1.17m”.

Mary Shelley was just 18 when she dreamed up her story of a “pale student of unhallowed arts” and the “hideous phantasm of a man” he created. Now a first edition of her seminal classic of gothic horror, Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus, has set a world record for the highest price paid for a printed work by a woman, after selling at auction for $1,170,000 (£856,000)….

(4) TENNESSEE GENRE CONNECTION. Also from The Guardian, an unpublished short story by Tennessee Williams has been discovered. And yes, this is of genre interest, because Tennessee Williams debuted in Weird Tales as a 16-year-old: “Newly discovered Tennessee Williams story published for the first time”.

 As soon as he crossed the border into Italy, Tennessee Williams found his health was “magically restored”. “There was the sun and there were the smiling Italians,” wrote the author of A Streetcar Named Desire in his memoirs. Now a previously unpublished short story by Williams describes his protagonist experiencing similar feelings – although the Italians do not feel quite so warmly towards him….

(5) BEFORE HE WAS A BESTSELLER. [Item by Cora Buhlert.] G.W. Thomas has a three part post about the lengthy writing career of John Jakes and that he wrote so much more than just historical family sagas. I actually knew that he wrote fantasy in the 1960s, but I didn’t know that he wrote in pretty much every genre and every venue:

… Did the fledgling Pulp writer (by night) and ad man (by day) have any inkling what lie ahead? Probably not, but to John’s credit he always wrote what interested him, what offered him a challenge, shifting between genres and venues. If the Pulps hadn’t died, he could have spent his entire career writing Westerns. Or Space opera. Or hard-boiled. But he did all of these, and well, before moving onto bigger things…

John Jakes, after five years in the Pulps, moved on to writing for magazines and novels. His story output slowed a little but he produced at least two novels most years, sometimes under his own name, sometimes under pseudonyms. For historical adventure he used the name Jay Scotland. He used his own name for the hard-boiled detective series starring Johnny Havoc but also wrote the last three Lou Largo novels as William Ard. The 1960s saw John writing tie-ins for Mystery television. This would later lead to him writing for The Man From U. N. C L. E.  and The Planet of the Apes novelizations in the 1970s. He also sold the first (and best) Brak the Barbarian stories to Cele Goldsmith at Fantastic…. 

John Jakes finished the 1960s writing television tie-ins along with other paperbacks. The first collections of Brak appeared alongside his best Science Fiction novels. But in 1974 everything would change with the arrival of The Kent Family Chronicles. John had several paperback novels on the bestsellers list at one time. From 1974 on he would be known not as a SF, Sword & Sorcery or Mystery writer but as a bestseller….

(6) TWO ORBIT AUTHOR Q&A’S. Orbit Live invites everyone to this pair of author conversations.

SEPTEMBER 28: Andy Marino and M.R. Carey will discuss their books and what it’s like writing supernatural thrillers. Register here.

Andy Marino is the author of The Seven Visitations of Sydney Burgess, a new supernatural horror and thriller novel. Marino has previously written several books for young readers. The Seven Visitations of Sydney Burgess is his debut book for adults.

M.R. Carey is the author of several books including The Girl With All the Gifts, the acclaimed and bestselling supernatural thriller, and The Rampart Trilogy, which began withThe Book of Koli. Carey has also written a number of radio, TV, and movie screenplays.

OCTOBER 12: Django Wexler and Melissa Caruso talk about their new books, creating fantasy worlds, and writing the middle book of a fantasy trilogy. Register here.

Django Wexler (he/him) is the author of the several adult and young adult fantasy series. Blood of the Chosen, the second book of his Burningblade & Silvereye trilogy, releases October 5.

Melissa Caruso (she/her) is the author of the Swords and Fire trilogy, which began with The Tethered MageThe Quicksilver Court, the second book of her Rooks and Ruin trilogy, releases October 12.

(7) ZOOM INTO FANHISTORY. Fanac.org has Zoom history sessions scheduled through the end of the year. To RSVP please send a note to fanac@fanac.org

  • September 25, 2021 – 2PM EDT, 11AM PDT, 1PM CDT, 7PM London, 4AM Sydney
    Juanita Coulson
  • October 23, 2021 – 2pm EDT, 7PM London, 11AM PDT
    St. Fantony, BSFA, Brumcon and more – British Fan history with Keith Freeman and Rob Hansen.
  • December 4 (US) and December 5 (Australia), 2021 – 7PM Dec 4 EST, 4PM Dec 4 PST, 11AM Dec 5 Melbourne AU
    Wrong Turns on the Wallaby Track:: Australian Science Fiction Fandom to Aussiecon – Part 1, 1936 to 1960, with Leigh Edmonds and Perry Middlemiss

(8) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

1962 – Fifty-nine years ago this date in prime time on ABC, The Jetsons premiered. It was created by William Hanna and Joseph Barbera who had previously produced such series as the Quick Draw McGraw and the Yogi Bear Show.  The primary voice cast was George O’Hanlon, Penny Singleton, Janet Waldo, Daws Butler and Mel Blanc. The latter voiced Cosmo Spacely, George’s boss. It would last three seasons for seventy-five roughly half-hour episodes. A number of films, reboots and one truly awful idea, The Jetsons & WWE: Robo-WrestleMania, followed down the years. 

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born September 23, 1897 — Walter Pidgeon. He’s mostly remembered for being in the classic Forbidden Planet as Dr. Morbius, but he’s done some other genre work being in Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea  as Adm. Harriman Nelson, and in The Neptune Factor as Dr. Samuel Andrews. The Mask of Sheba in which he was Dr. Max van Condon is at genre adjacent. (Died 1984.)
  • Born September 23, 1908 — Wilmar H. Shiras. Also wrote under the name Jane Howes. Her most famous piece was  “In Hiding” (1948), a novella that was included in The Science Fiction Hall of Fame anthology. It is widely assumed that it is the inspiration for the Uncanny X-Men that Stan Lee and Jack Kirby would shortly release. (Died 1990.)
  • Born September 23, 1936 — Richard Wilson, 85. He played Doctor Constantine in “The Empty Child” and “The Doctor Dances”, two Ninth Doctor stories. He played Gaius, Camelot’s court physician, in the entire of Merlin. And he’s was in Peter Pan as Mr Darling/Captain Hook  at the Royal Festival Hall, Southbank Centre. 
  • Born September 23, 1956 — Peter David, 65. Did you know that his first assignment for the Philadelphia Bulletin was covering was covering Discon II? I’m reasonably sure the first thing I read by him was Legions of Fire, Book 1: The Long Night of Centauri Prime but he’s also done a number of comics I’ve read including runs of Captain MarvelWolverine and Young Justice.
  • Born September 23, 1959 — Elizabeth Peña. Ok, these notes can be depressing to do as I discovered she died of acute alcoholism. Damn it all. She was in a number of genre production s including *batteries not includedGhost WhispererThe Outer LimitsThe Invaders and even voiced Mirage in the first Incredibles film. Intriguingly she voiced a character I don’t recognize, Paran Dul, a Thanagarian warrior, four times in Justice League Unlimited. (Died 2014.)
  • Born September 23, 1967 — Rosalind Chao, 54. She was the recurring character of Keiko O’Brien with a total of twenty-seven appearances on Next Generation and Deep Space Nine. In 2010, a preliminary casting memo for Next Gen from 1987 was published, revealing that Chao was originally considered for the part of Enterprise security chief Tasha Yar. Now that would have been interesting. 
  • Born September 23, 1967 — Justine Larbalestier, 54. Writer, Editor, and Critic. An Australian author of fiction whose novels have won Andre Norton, Carl Brandon, and Aurealis Awards, she is probably best known for her comprehensive scholarly work The Battle of the Sexes in Science Fiction which was nominated for a Hugo at Torcon 3. Her Daughters of Earth: Feminist Science Fiction in the Twentieth Century, an anthology of SFF stories and critical essays by women, won The William Atheling Jr. Award.
  • Born September 23, 1971 Rebecca Roanhorse, 50. Her “Welcome to Your Authentic Indian Experience™“ which was first published  in the August 2017 of Apex Magazine won a Hugo as best short story at Worldcon 76. (It won a Nebula as well.) She also won the 2018 Astounding Award for Best New Writer. Rebecca has five published novels: Trail of Lightning, its sequel Storm of LocustsBlack SunRace to the Sun (middle grade); and a Star Wars novel, Resistance Reborn. Black Sun is nominated for a Hugo this year. 

(10) COMICS SECTION.

(11) MADE YOU LOOK. The New Yorker’s Megan Broussard devises “Clickbait for Classic Literary Characters”. Such as —

Dorian Gray (“The Picture of Dorian Gray”)
Soul-to-Sketch Art Converter app on Google Play. Turn selfies into paintings. Start your FREE seven-day, seven-sins trial today!

(12) HOPEPUNK. Mythic Delirium Books contends that readers who are looking for hopepunk will find it in Dark Breakers the new collection of short fiction from World Fantasy Award-winning author C. S. E. Cooney which will be released in February 2022. Its two previously uncollected novellas, “The Breaker Queen” and “The Two Paupers,” and three new stories, “Salissay’s Laundries,” “Longergreen” and “Susurra to the Moon” — take place in three parallel worlds, one inhabited by humans, one ruled by the Gentry (not unlike the Fae of Earthly legend) and one the realm of goblins. The heroines and heroes of these adventures confront corruption and the threat of tyranny armed with their own wits and the life-changing power of art. Pre-orders are activating now, with e-book pre-orders widely available and Barnes & Noble allowing advance purchases of all three editions.

(13) THEY’RE COMING. IGN introduces the Invasion trailer for Apple TV+ series.

Apple has released the official trailer for its ambitious new sci-fi series, Invasion, starring Jurassic Park’s Sam Neill.

The three-episode premiere of Invasion will be available to stream on Apple TV+ on Friday, October 22, 2021. Invasion comes from the minds of X-Men and Deadpool producer Simon Kinberg, as well as The Twilight Zone’s David Weil. The series follows the events of an Alien invasion through the lens of several characters spread across multiple continents.

(14) PROPRIETIES OBSERVED. [Item by Todd Mason.] The second episode of Have Gun, Will Travel repeated this morning on the H&I Network begins with the protagonist Paladin riding his horse in rocky country.As he passes an outcropping, a woman slips out of the shadows and cocks her rifle while leveling it at his back. 

Closed Captioning as presented by H&I: “(sound of woman XXXXing rifle)”

As the Jimmy Kimmel Live show used to enjoy playing with, “Today in Unnecessary Censorship,” making the tampered-with/censored bit seem much more blue than simply letting it be would…

(15) BIG LEAGUE SHIRT. I was surprised to find a logo shirt available – and apparently sanctioned by the rights holders! The Science Fiction League Shirt.

The Science Fiction League was created by Hugo Gernsback and launched in Wonder Stories in 1934. 

Our design is inspired by the logo created for the League by Frank R Paul, and the League badges. With thanks to the Frank R Paul estate. 

(16) THE SPEED OF DARK. “New type of dark energy could solve Universe expansion mystery” according to today’s issue of Nature.

Traces of primordial form of the substance hint at why the cosmos is expanding faster than expected.

Cosmologists have found signs that a second type of dark energy — the ubiquitous but enigmatic substance that is pushing the Universe’s expansion to accelerate — might have existed in the first 300,000 years after the Big Bang….

(17) KALLING ALL KAIJU KOLLECTORS. [Item by Michael Toman.] This Deep Dive into Godzilla movie commentaries, including the two which met with disapproval from Toho and were pulled, not to mention the ones which are only available to Japanese speakers, might be of interest to Other Filer G-Fans?

(18) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In “Honest Game Trailers’ No More Heroes 3” on YouTube, Fandom Games, in a spoiler-filled episode, says that the third adventure of assassin Travis Touchdown has him fighting aliens. It is a “weird (bleeping) game for weird (bleeping) gamers,” features every bad Power Ranger villain, and includes as a character director Takashi Miike, the Japanese goremaster.

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

Pixel Scroll 7/8/21 Dear Pixels, Please Don’t Scroll In The Attic, Thank You

(1) SPECULATIVE LITERATURE FOUNDATION. In the Mohanraj and Rosenbaum Are Humans podcast, episode 15, “An Interview with Farah Mendelsohn”, Mary Anne Mohanraj’s icebreaker question opens the way for an exchange with Farah Mendlesohn about the challenges of coming to a country from somewhere else, and some immediate worries for Mendlesohn about the consequence of Brexit. There follows discussion about international science fiction and Mendlesohn’s book The Pleasant Profession of Robert A. Heinlein.

(2) HARRYHAUSEN AWARDS CREATED. The Ray and Diana Harryhausen Foundation have announced a new film awards program — The Ray Harryhausen Awards —  “established in honor of the legendary master of stop-motion animation.’ Beginning January 1, 2022 they will be accepting entries under the following categories:

  • Best Feature Film Animation
  • Best Short Film Animation
  • Best Student Film Animation
  • Best Commercial Film Animation
  • Best Online Film Animation
  • Best Television Animation
  • Harryhausen Hall of Fame Award

(3) FREE DOWNLOAD FROM TAFF. Rob Hansen collects the rare and esoteric convention reportage of … Rob Hansen! – in American Trips, the latest addition to the selection of free ebook downloads at David Langford’s unofficial Trans-Atlantic Fan Fund site, where they hope you’ll make a little donation to the fund if you please.

Following the 1984 TAFF trip described at length in On the TAFF Trail, Rob Hansen attended a number of other US conventions and wrote further reports collected in this ebook – covering multiple Corflus (1986, 1989, 1990, 2013), two Disclaves (1992, 1995) and the 1997 Boskone/Fanhistoricon at which Rob, as Britain’s leading fan historian, was a special guest.

The cover art is by Rob Hansen. 41,000 words.

Here is a brief extract:

The conversation turned to convention reports and I outlined my conreport writing philosophy for them.

“D. West says they should be ‘the truth, the whole truth, and a few lies to make it interesting’. My reports are the truth,” I explained, “but enhanced. I give the truth a little nip and tuck, and maybe a nose job, but I never go as far as breast implants.”

(4) LGBT PUBLISHING CONTROVERSY IN HUNGARY. AP News that Hungarian authorities have issued a fine over a book featuring ‘rainbow families’. The book in question is by Lawrence Schimel, who started out in the sff genre. His work has received the Science Fiction and Fantasy Poetry Associaton’s Rhysling and Dwarf Stars awards, the Gaylactic Spectrum Award, and also has twice received the Lambda Literary Award for non-genre work.

Hungarian authorities have fined the distributor of a children’s book that features families headed by same-sex parents, relying on a law prohibiting unfair commercial practices and fueling a debate over recent government steps seen as limiting the rights of LGBT people.

The fine comes as Hungary’s government is already under widespread scrutiny over legislation it passed last month that prohibits the depiction of homosexuality or gender reassignment to minors. The law, which is set to take effect on Thursday, was described by rights groups as an attack on the LGBT community, and rebuked by high-ranking European officials as a violation of the European Union’s values.

Speaking to the European Parliament in Strasbourg on Wednesday, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen called the law “a disgrace” and warned Hungary that the EU’s executive arm would use all its powers to uphold European law.

It was amid this escalation over Hungary’s policies that a local government fined the distributor of “What a Family” – a combined Hungarian translation of American author Lawrence Schimel’s books “Early One Morning” and “Bedtime, Not Playtime!”— $830. Each of Schimel’s books depicts the daily routines of a child, one with two mothers and one with two fathers.

The fine was imposed by the Pest County Government Office — the local authority responsible for the county surrounding Hungary’s capital, Budapest….

A Pest County official told commercial television station HirTV Tuesday that the book’s Hungarian distributor, the Foundation for Rainbow Families, had violated rules on unfair commercial practices by failing to clearly indicate that “What a Family!” contained “content which deviates from the norm.”

“The book was there among other fairytale books and thus committed a violation,” Pest County Commissioner Richard Tarnai said. “There is no way of knowing that this book is about a family that is different than a normal family.”…

(5) MEMORY LANE.

2009 – Twelve years ago this week the Warehouse 13 series premiered on Syfy. It was produced by Jacks Kenny, David Simkibs and Drew Greenberg. It was created by Jane Espenson, writer and producer on Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and Brent Mote who had little genre writing experience at all. The original cast was Eddie McClintock, Joanne Kelly and Saul Rubinek.  It would run for five seasons and sixty four episodes. Almost all critics really liked it although one who didn’t called it, and I quote, “An unholy cross between The X-FilesBones, and Raiders of the Lost Ark.” WTF?!? Audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes currently really like it, giving it a rating of eighty eight percent. You can watch it on the Peacock streaming service where I plan on watching it. (CE)

(6) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born July 8, 1906 — Walter Sande. He’s best remembered for being on Red Planet MarsThe War of the Worlds and Invaders from Mars, but he also showed up playing a heavy in such serials as The Green Hornets Strikes Again! and Sky Raiders, the latter being at least genre adjacent. He’s had a recurring role as Col. Crockett on The Wild Wild West, and one-offs on Voyage to the Bottom of The SeaThe Man from U.N.C.L.E.Lost in Space and Bewitched. (Died 1971.)
  • Born July 8, 1944 — Jeffrey Tambor, 77. I first encountered him on Max Headroom as Murray, Edison’s editor.  Later on, he’s Mayor Augustus Maywho in How The Grinch Stole Christmas. Finally I’ll note he was in both of the only true Hellboy films that there was playing Tom Manning, director of the Bureau of Paranormal Research and Defense. 
  • Born July 8, 1953 Mark Blackman, 68. Mark frequently writes about the Fantastic Fiction at KGB and New York Review of Science Fiction readings series for File 770. He was a member of Lunarians and chaired Lunacon 38 in 1995. He was a member of the New York in 1989 Worldcon bid. (OGH)
  • Born July 8, 1955 — Susan Price, 66. English author of children’s and YA novels. She has won both the Carnegie Medal and the Guardian Prize for British children’s books. The Pagan Mars trilogy is her best known work, and The Sterkarm Handshake and its sequel A Sterkarm Kiss, will please Outlander fans.
  • Born July 8, 1970 — Ekaterina Sedia, 51. Her Heart of Iron novel which was nominated for a Sidewise Award for Alternate History is simply awesome. I’d also recommend The Secret History of Moscow as well. It’s worth noting that both the usual suspects list several collections by her, Willful Impropriety: 13 Tales of Society, Scandal, and Romance and Wilful Impropriety. They’re quite superb it turns out as is Paper Cities: An Anthology of Urban Fantasy anthology she edited which won a World Fantasy Award. I note that’s she not published anything for a half decade now. 
  • Born July 8, 1978 — George Mann, 43. Writer and editor. He’s edited a number of anthologies including the first three volumes of Solaris Book of New Science Fiction. Among my favorite books by him are his Newbury & Hobbes series, plus his excellent Doctor Who work. The Affinity Bridge, the first in the Newbury & Hobbes series, was nominated for a Sidewise Award. 
  • Born July 8, 1988 — Shazad Latif, 33. If you watched Spooks, you’ll remember him as Tariq Masood. (Spooks did become genre.) He was Chief of Security Ash Tyler in Discovery,andDr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde in Penny Dreadful. He voiced Kyla in The Dark Crystal: Voice of Resistance. And he was in the Black Mirror episode “The National Anthem” as Mehdi Raboud. 

(7) COMIC-CON SCHEDULE. Comic-Con@Home 2021 will run for three days from July 23-25. The online event is free to attend. The Program Schedule dropped today. All panels will be available to stream on the Comic-Con International YouTube page. Most will be pre-recorded.

(8) SWAMP THINGIE. Could Loki made a nice handbag? I don’t mean could he sew it – could he be it? “’Loki’: The Glorious Debut of Alligator Loki” at Marvel. BEWARE SPOILERS. Or so I assume.

…Jokingly calling the stuffed alligator a “real diva” on set, Herron explains that the series’ first AD “actually stuck googly eyes on it. It was like a Muppet character on set.” But Alligator Loki wasn’t all just fun and games, as he was useful for the actors who had to interact with him, especially Jack Veal (Kid Loki), who frequently carries Alligator Loki from location to location.

“You put [the stuffed alligator] in there, and the actors can interact with it and get a sense of how heavy or how large the alligator would be,” notes Herron. “[It was filmed] in the world of imagination with our cast because sometimes they were acting to a blade of grass.”

Like all characters, Alligator Loki also went through a few different looks before settling on the version viewers see on-screen.

“We had some early versions when we were doing visual effects that probably were a bit too cute, in the sense of it was a bit more like a cartoony kind of alligator,” Herron explains. “But it just became funnier and funnier the more it looked like a real alligator that just happened to be wearing the horns. That was the sweet spot. Once we landed in that spot where it felt like a real alligator, but with a kind of slightly jaunty horns on, that’s where we were like, ‘Oh, there he is.’”

However, this doesn’t answer the most pressing question: Is Alligator Loki really a Loki?

(9) WHAT IF? Disney Plus dropped a trailer for “Marvel Studios’ What If…?”, an alternate universe animated anthology.

Enter the multiverse of unlimited possibilities. Watch the exciting trailer for Marvel Studios’ first animated series, What If…? “What If… ?” features fan-favorite characters, including Peggy Carter, T’Challa, Doctor Strange, Killmonger, Thor and more. The new series, directed by Bryan Andrews with AC Bradley as head writer, features signature MCU action with a curious twist. What If…? starts streaming August 11, 2021, with new episodes Wednesdays on Disney+.

(10) HIGH DEFINITION. Dwayne Johnson posted on Instagram a photo of how makeup artists are making his muscles “more terrifying” in Black Adam. See the image in this Collider article: “Black Adam: Dwayne Johnson Reveals Training Image”.

“Big week for #BlackAdam shooting my ‘champion’ scenes with my shirt off and showing my body” reads the caption. “Been working extremely hard dieting, training and conditioning unlike any other role of my entire career.” Johnson goes on to explain his training strategy, from manipulating his electrolytes and incorporating more intense cardio to push-and-pull resistance training in order to get the “dense, dry, detailed muscle” definition that he wanted for his role. The new photo comes weeks after Johnson gave fans the tiniest hint of his Black Adam costume in a similar social media post.

(11) PLAY BALL. By invitation, from SYFY Wire: “FX’s American Horror Stories: watch Danny Trejo’s baseball bat wielding Santa”. The new anthology series premieres July 15 on FX on Hulu.

…But as the trailer (below) proves, this version of the beloved holiday figure is anything but jolly, and the only gift he’ll be bringing this year is the baseball bat he seems to be wielding. (No word yet if it makes a difference whether you’re naughty or nice.) 

(12) TRAILERS AND CLIPS. Recently unveiled, a featurette about King’s Man:  Legacy, coming in December, and a trailer for The Addams Family 2, in theaters October 1

As a collection of history’s worst tyrants and criminal masterminds gather to plot a war to wipe out millions, one man must race against time to stop them. Discover the origins of the very first independent intelligence agency in The King’s Man.

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

Pixel Scroll 5/31/21 I’m At The Godstalk, The Death Star, The Second Fifth Hotel, The Pixels Keep On Scrolling And Rolling Files As Well

(1) HANSEN BOOK FREE FROM TAFF. Another ebook is available from the Trans-Atlantic Fan Fund’s website, #60 in the free library, Rob Hansen’s Faan Fiction 1930-2020: an exploration. Cover artwork adapted from Rob Hansen’s cover for his fanzine Epsilon #7, July 1981. Approximately 61,000 words. (TAFF hopes you’ll make a little donation to the fund if you please.)

In this combined critique and anthology, Rob Hansen discusses the phenomenon of fan fiction (in the fannish fanzine sense) with a particular focus on the UK. His commentary is interspersed with many examples from such diverse fan writers as John Berry, C.S. Youd (John Christopher), Leroy Kettle, David Langford, Mark Plummer, Bob Shaw, Ian Sorensen, James White, Walt Willis – and Rob Hansen himself, including previously unpublished work. There are several surprises.

From Rob Hansen’s Foreword:

One aspect of fandom only lightly touched on by me in Then was fan fiction. By which, of course, I mean fiction about fans and/or fandom. This is a thread that has been woven through SF fandom since it began, enduring almost to the present day, and so is worthy of consideration in that light. I’ll be looking at the people who wrote it and all its various forms and the purposes to which they were put. Inevitably, the quality of the writing varies wildly, with that of those who later went on to write professionally usually being a cut above the rest.

…Where possible the pieces of fan fiction reprinted herein to illustrate various types and forms – all by UK fans – were specifically chosen from those not already available. As a result, most will be things the majority of readers won’t have encountered before.

(2) SF ART COLLECTORS WILL SPEAK. Tomorrow on Comic Art Spotlight Doug Ellis joins a panel with three friends — Glynn Crain, John Davis & Victor Dricks — discussing SF/fantasy art.  All four have large collections of vintage SF art. They’ll be highlighting and discussing various artists and pieces in those collections, including creators like Virgil Finlay, Frank Kelly Freas, Ed Emshwiller, Wally Wood, Ed Valigursky, George Barr and many more.  The panel kicks off June 1 at 8:00 p.m. Eastern:

(3) PLONK YOUR MAGIC TWANGER. The Haffner Press’ two-volume edition of The Complete John the Balladeer by Manly Wade Wellman is available for pre-order.

John, whose last name is never revealed, is a wandering singer who carries a guitar strung with strings of pure silver. He is a veteran of the Korean War and served in the U.S. Army as a sharpshooter (in the novel After Dark, he mentions that his highest rank was PFC). In his travels, he frequently encounters creatures and superstitions from the folk tales and superstitions of the mountain people. Though John has no formal education, he is self-taught, highly intelligent and widely read; it is implied that his knowledge of occult and folk legendarium is of Ph.D level. This knowledge has granted him competent use of white magic, which he has used on occasion to overcome enemies or obstacles, but it is primarily his courage, wit and essential goodness that always enables him to triumph over supernatural evils (although the silver strings of his guitar and his possession of a copy of The Long Lost Friend are also powerful tools in fighting evil magic), while basic Army training allows him to physically deal with human foes.

Haffner recently posted this photo of artist Tim Kirk’s dropcaps for the book.

(4) FEELIN’ GROOVY. John Coulthart has a gallery of “groovy” sf covers in “The art of Mike Hinge, 1931–2003” at { feuilleton }.

Back in March I ended my post on the psychedelia-derived art style that I think of as “the groovy look” with the words “there’s a lot more to be found.” There is indeed, and I’d neglected to include anything in the post by Mike Hinge, a New Zealand-born illustrator whose covers for American SF magazines in the 1970s brought a splash of vivid colour to the groove-deprived world of science fiction. This was a rather belated development for staid titles like Amazing and Analog whose covers in the previous decade wouldn’t have looked out of place in the Gernsback era. Opening the door to someone like Mike Hinge, a graphic designer as well as a general illustrator, was probably a result of both magazines having undergone recent changes of editorship.

(5) HEVELIN COLLECTION UPDATE. [Item by Bruce D. Arthurs.]Just found out the University of Iowa’s “Hevelin Collection” Tumblr account, which posted pics of items from Rusty Hevelin’s collection of fanzine and other SFnal material (but has been inactive for the last several years), announced about ten days ago they’re officially suspending the Tumblr. (But past posts will remain online for the foreseeable future.)

But you can still see over 700 fanzines, etc., from the Hevelin Collection in the Iowa Digital Library: Hevelin Fanzines — The University of Iowa Libraries.

And rather than single pictures like the Tumbler account did, the IDL archive leads to scans of the full contents, so far as I’ve tested it. Probably a fair amount of overlap with Fanac.org and eFanzines.com, but always good to have fannish history backed up in multiple places.

(The IDL archive may, it occurs to me, be old news to those who keep up with fanzines past and and present more than I do. “Slight” is a polite way to describe my level of involvement these days. Still, news to me.)

(6) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

  • May 31, 1990 — On this day in 1990, Paul Verhoeven’s Total Recall premiered. It starred Arnold Schwarzenegger, Rachel Ticotin, Sharon Stone, Ronny Cox, and Michael Ironside. It’s rather loosely based on Philip K. Dick‘s “We Can Remember It for You Wholesale” story. Ronald Shusett, Dan O’Bannon and Gary Goldman wrote the screenplay. It finished second at Chicon V for Best Dramatic Presentation to Edward Scissorhands.  Most critics liked it well-enough though a number of feminist critics thought it excessively violent towards women. It currently holds a seventy-eight percent rating among audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes. 

(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]

  • Born May 31, 1893 – Elizabeth Coatsworth.  Newbery Medal for The Cat Who Went to Heaven (1930).  Four “incredible tales” for adults; four books of poetry; ninety in all; memoir Personal Geography.  (Died 1986) [JH]
  • Born May 31, 1895 — George R. Stewart. As recently noted in the Scroll, his 1949 novel Earth Abides won the first International Fantasy Award in 1951. They were a British award and the first one, this very one, was given at Festivention. Other genre works would include Man, An Autobiography and Storm which is at least genre adjacent. (Died 1980.) (CE)
  • Born May 31, 1910 – Aubrey MacDermott.  Possibly the first fan.  He always said he was. Unfortunately, the supporting evidence is thin.  He may well have founded the Eastbay Club in the San Francisco Bay area around 1928.  Anyway, he was Fan Guest of Honor at Westercon XXXX (Oakland, 1987).  Here is his Origin Story as of 1990.  (Died 1996) [JH]
  • Born May 31, 1921 – Arthur Sellings.  Six novels, fifty shorter stories, in Fantastic, Galaxy, Imagination, The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, NebulaNew WorldsNew WritingWorlds of Tomorrow. Antiquarian, book & art dealer.  (Died 1968) [JH]
  • Born May 31, 1930 — Gary Brandner. Best remembered for his werewolf trilogy of novels, The Howling, of which the first was very loosely made into a film. He wrote the script for Howling II: Your Sister Is a Werewolf. The fourth film of the series, Howling IV: The Original Nightmare, is actually almost an accurate adaptation of the first novel. He wrote a lot of other horror and penned the novelization of Cat People. (Died 2013.) (CE) 
  • Born May 31, 1942 – Brian Burley.  Active fan in Ohio and New York.  Co-founded Marcon.  In 1979 he was in FISTFA (Fannish Insurgent Scientifictional Ass’n); here he is (with S.H. Craig and Pat O’Neill) on “Fandom in New York” for the Lunacon XXII Program Book.  Co-founded the Beaker People Libation Front, which Fancyclopedia III mildly calls “not entirely serious”; see here.  (Died 2006) [JH]
  • Born May 31, 1948 — Lynda Bellingham. She was The Inquisitor in the Sixth Doctor Story, “The Trial of The Time Lord”.  Other genre appearances include the Landlady in Hans Christian Andersen: My Life as a Fairy Tale, and one-offs in Blake’s 7Robin Hood and Julia Jekyll and Harriet Hyde. (Died 2014.) (CE) 
  • Born May 31, 1950 — Gregory Harrison, 71. I’m always surprised to discover a series didn’t last as long as I thought it has. He was Logan 5 in the Logan’s Run TV series which only lasted fourteen episodes. He was also in Dark Skies, twenty episodes before cancellation, as the voice of Old John Loengard, and had one-offs in Dead Man’s Gun (cursed object and that series actually lasted awhile), Touched by an AngelOuter Limits and Miracles. (CE)
  • Born May 31, 1961 — Lea Thompson, 60. She’s obviously best known for her role as Lorraine Baines in the Back to the Future trilogy though I remember her first as Beverly Switzler in Howard the Duck as I saw Back to the Future after I saw Howard the Duck. Not sure why that was. Her first genre role was actually as Kelly Ann Bukowski in Jaws 3-D, a film I most decidedly did not see. If you accept the Scorpion series as genre, she’s got a recurring role as Veronica Dineen on it. (CE)
  • Born May 31, 1977 – Cat Hellisen, age 44.  Fantasy for adults and children; free-lance editing; also archery, aikidô, figure skating.  Six novels, a score of shorter stories.  “The Worme Bridge” won the Short Story Day Africa award.  More recently in Fife she likes the forests and the fields and the Forth.  Has read Giovanni’s RoomFlatlandHerland, five plays by Aeschylus, Peter Pan, both Alice books, Les liasons dangereusesThe Wonderful Wizard of Oz.  [JH]
  • Born May 31, 1979 — Sophia McDougall, 42. She has a very well crafted alternative history series,  the Romanitas series, In which Rome did not fall and rules the world today. She has two SF novels —Mars Evacuees is sort of YA alien invasion novel; Space Hostages reminds of a Heinlein YA novel. (CE)
  • Born May 31, 1995 – Jeremy Szal, age 26.  One novel, thirty shorter stories.  Fiction editor at StarShipSofa 2014-2020 (Episodes 360-600).  Collects boutique gins.  See his review of Predestination at Strange Horizons here.  [JH]

(8) COMICS SECTION.

  • Half Full could be making a combined Alice in Wonderland and Simon & Garfunkel joke. Or not.

(9) WRITING PROMPT. From Agatha Chocolats:

Popehat suggests: “Cthulhu fhtagn exact change only.”

(10) SHAVER MYSTERY MAGAZINE ADDED BY FANAC. “If you’ve been hearing the words ‘Shaver Mysteries’ bruited about, now’s your chance to see what all the fuss is over,” says Fanac.org’s Joe Siclari. Check here: Shaver Mystery Magazine, by Richard S. Shaver. There are 7 issues of this semi-pro, related zine. 

Siclari further says, “Some might not consider this a fanzine because rumor has it that it was paid for by Ray Palmer and Ziff-Davis. However the Shaver Mystery stories were a subject of great controversy in fanzines. So it is of related interest. It definitely was not a money-maker. It seems to fit into the category we later called a semi-prozine. And the art! McCauley, Finlay…”

(11) JUMPING IN. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In the Washington Post, Michael Cavna interviews Pepe The Frog creator Matt Furie who is trying to recapture his character from the alt-right by creating non-fungible tokens featuring Pepe and other of Furie’s characters that have sold for up to $1 million. “Matt Furie is trying to reclaim his famous cartoon Pepe the Frog — through NFTs”.

To Furie, the NFT realm is about more than coin. During the era of Donald Trump, extremist social media users adapted Pepe so often that the Anti-Defamation League deemed it a hate symbol. But the exploding world of crypto-art is allowing the cartoonist to reclaim a character who was never meant to stand for much beyond love, peace, hedonism and altered-state chillaxin’.

“The NFT world is new, and there are a lot of optimistic people creating cool things,” Furie says of his interest in exploring non-fungible tokens — unique digital files whose origins and ownership can be verified.“Pepe does not have the baggage here that he does in the ‘real world,’ and I like working with utopians and optimistic freethinkers. There are so many possibilities.”

(12) A SCHULZ CURIOSITY. Cavna has also written: “Three ‘lost’ Charles Schulz strips have been rediscovered. Do they show the adult Lucy Van Pelt?”To some, they resemble “Peanuts” characters — if Charlie Brown and the gang had ever grown up.

These rare curiosities intrigue and baffle even the experts. “They’re a puzzle to me,” says Jean Schulz, wife of the late cartoonist Charles M. Schulz, who drew them.

They are the seven black-and-white works of comic art from the mid-’50s collectively called the “Hagemeyer” strips. Four of them have appeared in books. The three other “lost” strips were found and purchased at auction in May 2020— but have never been widely published, according to the Charles M. Schulz Museum and Research Center.

(13) IT’S IMPOSSIBLE. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] From this week’s Nature: “First Nuclear Test Created Impossible ‘Quasicrystals’”.

SF is full of exotic substances from Cavorite to Corbomite. Now it has been discovered that the world’s first nuclear bomb test created ‘impossible’ quasicrystals.

The previously unknown structure, made of iron, silicon, copper and calcium, probably formed from the fusion of vaporised desert sand and copper cables. Quasicrystals contain building blocks made up of arrangements of atoms that — unlike those in ordinary crystals — do not repeat in a regular, brickwork-like pattern. They have symmetries that were once considered impossible.

Materials scientist Daniel Shechtman first discovered such an impossible symmetry in a synthetic alloy in 1982. He won the 2011 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for the discovery. In subsequent years, materials scientists synthesised many types of quasicrystal,
expanding the range of possible symmetries. In the aftermath of the Trinity test — the first detonation of a nuclear bomb in 1945 researchers found a field of greenish glassy material that had formed from the liquefaction of desert sand. They dubbed this trinitite. The bomb had been detonated on top of a 30-metre-high tower laden with sensors and their cables. As a result, some of the trinitite had reddish inclusions: it was a fusion of natural material with copper from the transmission lines. The quasicrystal recently found from this trinitite has the same kind of icosahedral symmetry as the one in Shechtman’s original discovery.

(14) NOW IN 3-D. Nature also reports on “The most detailed 3D map of the Universe ever made”.

A survey of the southern sky has reconstructed how mass is spread across space and time, in the biggest study of its kind. The data provide striking evidence that dark energy, the force that appears to be pushing the Universe to accelerate its expansion, has been constant throughout cosmic history.

The Dark Energy Survey (DES) collaboration revealed its results in an online briefing on 27 May and in several papers posted online1.

…The researchers grouped the galaxies by colour, to get a rough indication of each galaxy’s distance from our own: as the Universe expands, galaxies that are further away appear redder because their light waves have stretched out to longer wavelengths. That way, the team was able to add a third dimension to its map.

Looking further away also corresponds to looking to the past, so a 3D cosmic map provides a record of the Universe’s history. By tracking how galaxies spread out over time, cosmologists can then indirectly measure the forces at play. These include the gravitational pull of dark matter, the invisible stuff that constitutes some 80% of the Universe’s mass and dominates the formation of galaxies and clusters of galaxies.

(15) DRONE WARFARE. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] It’s not exactly a Terminator-style HK-VTOL, but the first autonomous wartime kill by a robot might have happened last year in Libya. Gizmodo reports on the story: “The Age of Autonomous Killer Robots May Already Be Here”.

…“The lethal autonomous weapons systems were programmed to attack targets without requiring data connectivity between the operator and the munition: in effect, a true ‘fire, forget and find’ capability,” the UN Security Council’s Panel of Experts on Libya wrote in the report.

It remains unconfirmed whether any soldiers were killed in the attack, although the UN experts imply as much. The drone, which can be directed to self-destruct on impact, was “highly effective” during the conflict in question when used in combination with unmanned combat aerial vehicles, according to the panel. The battle resulted in “significant casualties,” it continued, noting that Haftar’s forces had virtually no defense against remote aerial attacks.

The Kargu-2 is a so-called loitering drone that uses machine learning algorithms and real-time image processing to autonomously track and engage targets. According to Turkish weapons manufacturer STM, it’s specifically designed for asymmetric warfare and anti-terrorist operations and has two operating modes, autonomous and manual. Several can also be linked together to create a swarm of kamikaze drones.

(16) CLOCKING IN. CBS Sunday Morning did a segment about “Exploring the boundaries of time travel”.

Breaking the bonds of time has been a timeless pursuit in science fiction stories and movies. Will it ever become science fact? Correspondent Faith Salie explores the possibilities of taking a journey to the future, or the past, even without a souped-up DeLorean.

(17) VIDEO OF THE DAY. In “Cruella Pitch Meeting” on Screen Rant, Ryan George, in a spolier-filled episode, says that the only way to get viewers interested in Cruelle DeVil’s backstory–“How does she become the person who wants to skin puppies?”–is to have her work for a boss even more evil than her.  Also the screenwriter warns the producer that if he wants all those groovy hits of the 1970s in the movie, he’d better have plenty of money for the rights.

[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, John Hertz, David Langford, Jennifer Hawthorne, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, Michael Toman, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to contributing editor of the day Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little.]

Pixel Scroll 5/20/21 When You Said “Pixels” Were You Referring To Credentials Who Can Walk Through Walls?

(1) PROVING LOVE. [Item by Soon Lee.] How did a New Zealand journalist end up on the cover of a Chuck Tingle “Tingler”? Chuck was inspired to write Almost Pounded By The Physical Manifestation Of Simulation Theory After Realizing We’re Erotica Characters Then Deciding To Just Be Friends after listening to a conspiracy theory podcast by New Zealand journalist/documentary maker David Farrier. Tingle then approached Farrier (who has been compared to Louis Theroux) to be on the cover of the story and the rest as they say, is a Tingler cover.

Farrier’s account of the events is here. It includes the full text of the Tingler, available free online, from which this is an except:

…Some people believe these events are proof the natural world isn’t so natural; that everything we’re experiencing might be nothing more than mindbogglingly intricate computer code,” my companion explains.

“Like in Handsome Keanu And The Computers Of Heck?” I retort, recalling one of my favorite science fiction films.

“Sure,” David replies encouragingly. “The idea is that our whole existence could be a creation within another reality external to this one. That reality could be nearly identical to ours, or vastly different in ways we can’t even comprehend. Maybe on the higher plane of existence all these bigfeet, dinosaurs and unicorns are human beings with vaguely similar names. I could be a journalist there, instead of the world renown foot model who sits before you. Maybe on that reality the hit film Handsome Keanu And The Computers Of Heck is called something weird and vague like The Matrix.”…

(2) HOW NOT TO HIRE AN EDITOR. A pro tip from Sarah Chorn.

(3) MALE CALL.  James Davis Nicoll shares his ideas about “strong male protagonists” (his quote) in “Five SFF Novels Featuring Men Who Don’t Give Up Easily” at Tor.com.

When one thinks of science fiction and fantasy protagonists, one thinks of figures like Morgaine (Gate of Ivrel), Essun (The Fifth Season), Cordelia Naismith (Shards of Honor), Beatrice Clayborn (The Midnight Bargain) and Anna Tromedlov (Hench). A casual glance suggests these are generally women, which only makes sense. The majority of fiction readers are women and of course they want relatable characters.

However, it’s entirely possible to write a book with a strong male protagonist at its centre (“strong” as in striking, resolute, and/or determined, not as being able to dead-lift surprising amounts of weight, of course—assessing male characters purely in physical terms would be offensively reductive)…

(4) SHOWS GETTING SECOND ACTS OR THE AX. Will your favorites be back? Deadline rounds up the “2020-21 TV Cancellations & Renewals For Broadcast, Cable & Streaming”. Here’s an excerpt — the list for The CW where so many of the shows are genre. New series in bold.

Batwoman (renewed for Season 3)
Black Lightning (canceled; four seasons; ending in 2021)
Burden of Truth (canceled; four seasons)
Charmed (renewed for Season 4)
DC’s Legends of Tomorrow (renewed for Season 7)
DC’s Stargirl (renewed for Season 3)
Dynasty (renewed for Season 5)
The Flash (renewed for Season 8)
In the Dark (renewed for Season 4)
Kung Fu (renewed for Season 2)
Legacies (renewed for Season 4)
Nancy Drew (renewed for Season 3)
Penn & Teller: Fool Us (renewed for Season 8)
Riverdale (renewed for Season 6)
Roswell, New Mexico (renewed for Season 4)
Supergirl (renewed/canceled; will end after upcoming Season 6)
Superman & Lois (renewed for Season 2)
Two Sentence Horror Stories (renewed for Season 3)

(5) TO THINE OWN SELF. Hadley Freeman interviews William Shatner for The Guardian: “’Take it easy, nothing matters in the end’: William Shatner at 90, on love, loss and Leonard Nimoy”. A lot of good exchanges are sandwiched between these excerpts.

I think I’m arriving good and early for my interview with William Shatner when I click on our video chat link 10 minutes ahead of time. But Shatner has arrived even earlier: there he is, as soon as my Zoom screen opens, poking away at his computer. “I like to get in early to ease my mind. But it’s OK, I can meditate afterwards,” he says. His tone is often heavily ironical, as if he is daring you to accuse him of playing a joke on you. This has led to much discussion from fans about “the Shatner persona”, although Shatner scoffs at the phrase. “I don’t know what that even is,” he says.

I think they think you play up to their expectations, I say.

“What are their expectations? That I’m Captain Kirk? Well, I am Captain Kirk! I don’t know what people mean when they talk about my persona. I’m just myself. If you’re not yourself, who are you?”

…I t feels rude to ask a 90-year-old if he worries about death, so I ask instead what he wishes he had known at 20 that he knows at 90.

“Here’s an interesting answer!” he says perkily. “I’m glad I didn’t know because what you know at 90 is: take it easy, nothing matters in the end, what goes up must come down. If I’d known that at 20, I wouldn’t have done anything!”

Our time is up now, and so Shatner and I bid our farewells. “This is always the awkward bit, before you turn off [the camera],” he says, and then in his ironical voice he says: “Pleasure seeing you! Bye! Bye!” And then, just like a 3D hologram when the electronics stop working, he vanishes.

(6) DECONSTRUCTION DERBY. From Kalimac’s series of reports on Tokien-related items held adjacent to the virtual International Congress on Medieval Studies: “Saturday at Kalamazoo”.

…. Most provocatively, Luke Shelton took issue with, or at least queried, Tolkien’s statement in the Lord of the Rings foreword that the work is not an allegory. That depends on what you think an allegory is, Luke said, and he cited readers who have ignored Tolkien on that point. Then he went on to say that, since Tolkien accepted “the freedom of the reader” to interpret but that what he objected to in allegory was “the purposed domination of the author,” isn’t an author who objects to his work being considered allegory indulging in purposed domination? And he said it as if he’d caught Tolkien in a giant “gotcha.” In reality it’s a Gödelian category error, like saying the barber can’t shave himself if he shaves just the men in the village who don’t shave themselves. The only domination Tolkien is showing here is expecting readers not to make declarations as to what they think his allegorical purposed domination is…

(7) ON THE ERR. Rob Hansen’s THEN fanhistory site has added a recording of “The March of Slime”, a parody radio show performed by British fans and debuted at the 1955 Eastercon. There is also the text of the introduction and a link to a complete transcript.  

COMMENTATOR: Well, here we are in the historic and time-hallowed saloon bar of the famous Globe Tavern, that erstwhile haunt of Dr. ..Johnson, Crippen and Christie. Gathered here this evening are the honourable representatives of the London Circle – The only circle in the world composed entirely of squares….

The ads for BLOG are wonderful, too….

COMMERCIAL ANNOUNCER: Folks. Have you heard that BLOG gives you that deep sleep that psychologists say is so necessary – cleans gramophone records – is so kind to your silks and woolens – weans babies safely – kills rats, mice and badgers – is the swift antidote for leprousy, croup, and beri-beri – and on top of all this is guaranteed to contain no pterodactyls, diplodoci or other noxious ingredients…

(8) DOES THAT REALLY MAKE IT BETTER? Sarah Gailey’s Building Beyond series works on a writing prompt called “Orca You Glad to See Me”. Jo Ladzinski and Ryan Boyd join in the fun.  

You are a freelance image consultant. You have been hired by orcas to help them repair their image among the seal and penguin communities.

After all three have played with the idea, Gailey sums up:

All of these possibilities are just beginnings. Jo’s strategy is the start of a story about direct, honest admiration of predators by their prey. Ryan’s approach is the opening of an examination of substance abuse in cetacean communities. My scheme is guaranteed to be successful, resulting in a long-running stream of daytime procedurals about tough-but-fair orcas with complicated backgrounds, who just want to do right by their families by targeting and decimating seal and penguin communities.

(9) WHO’S IN CHARGE HERE. In the Washington Post, Michael Cavna profiles KC Green, whose webcomic “Funny Online Animals” (featuring Question Hound) was so popular that he’s now distributed through King Features’s Comics Kingdom division with some placements in large metropolitan dailies. “The ‘This Is Fine’ dog is back. And creator KC Green wants to show he’s more than a meme”.

…“Question Hound will be there, but only in the part that feels like it’s a writer’s room for the strip,” says Green, who is based in western Massachusetts. “He’s the money behind ‘Funny Online Animals’ because I make a living doing what I do thanks to” the meme.

“I recognize that,” he notes by email, “and sometimes resent that.”

He also knows that it’s exhausting to try to keep your creation on any sort of leash — particularly after the Internet has adopted your character as its own.

(10) BOOL HUNT. Lisey’s Story, based on a novel by Stephen King, premieres June 4 on Apple TV+.

(11) MIURA OBIT. The Guardian mourns the passing of a famous manga artist and writer: “Kentaro Miura, creator of bestselling manga Berserk, dies aged 54”.

Kentaro Miura, creator of the long-running dark fantasy manga Berserk – one of the bestselling manga series ever written – has died at the age of 54.

His US publisher Dark Horse Comics, describing Miura as a “master artist and storyteller”, said he had suffered acute aortic dissection and died on 6 May. “He will be greatly missed. Our condolences go out to his family and loved ones.”

The Japanese artist was best known for Berserk, which he wrote and drew. It first launched in 1989 and has been running ever since. Set in a world inspired by medieval Europe, it follows the story of the mercenary Guts, a warrior with a huge sword and an iron hand, and Griffith, leader of the mercenary Band of the Hawk. Dark, violent and humorous, Berserk ran to 40 volumes with more than 35m copies sold worldwide, according to its Japanese publisher Hakusensha. It was also adapted into anime TV series, films and video games….

(12) MEDIA ANNIVERSARY.

  • May 20, 1950 — On this evening in 1950, Dimension X’s “The Lost Race” was playing on NBC stations nationwide. Ernest Kinoy adapted the story from Murray Leinster’s “The Lost” first published in the April 1949 issue of Thrilling Wonder Stories. A space crew find themselves shipwrecked on a world where the ruins of a long dead spacefaring civilization hide a deadly secret that has the power to destroy the present as it did the past.  Matt Crowley, Kermit Murdock and Joseph Julian were the cast. You can listen to it here.

(13) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]

  • Born May 20, 1799 – Honoré de Balzac.  His complete works total 20,000 pages.  We can claim six novels, three dozen shorter stories; what of The Quest for the Absolute, whose alchemist hero at the end cries Eureka! [Greek, “I have found it”] and dies: is it fantasy?  (Died 1850) [JH]
  • Born May 20, 1911 – Annie Schmidt.  Mother of the Dutch theatrical song, queen of Dutch children’s literature.  Hans Christian Andersen Medal.  Poetry, songs, plays, musicals, radio and television for adults.  Two fantasies for us, Minoes (tr. as The Cat Who Came In Off the Roof), Pluk van de Petteflet (tr. as Tow-Truck Pluck).  One of fifty in the Dutch Canon with Erasmus, Rembrandt, Spinoza, Van Gogh, Anne Frank; see here.  (Died 1995) [JH]
  • Born May 20, 1911 — Gardner Francis Fox. Writer for DC comics and other companies as well. He was prolific enough that historians of the field estimate he wrote more than four thousand comics stories, including 1,500 for just DC Comics. For DC, He created The Flash, Adam Strange and The Atom, plus the Justice Society of America. His first SF novel was Escape Across the Cosmos though he wrote a tie-in novel, Jules Verne’s Five Weeks in a Balloon, previously. (Died 1986.) (CE)
  • Born May 20, 1928 — Shirley Rousseau Murphy, 92. Author of the Joe Grey series of mysteries. Its narrator is a feline who speaks and who solves mysteries. Surely that’s genre. Excellent series which gets much, much better in characterization and writing as it goes along. She also did some more traditional genre fare, none of which I’ve encountered, the Children of Ynell series and the Dragonbard trilogy. (CE) 
  • Born May 20, 1946 — Cher, 75. She was  Alexandra Medford in The Witches of Eastwick which is her main genre credit. She did appear as Romana on The Man from U.N.C.L.E. in “The Hot Number Affair” and she voiced herself in the “The Secret of Shark Island” of The New Scooby-Doo Movies which despite the name was actually a series, but that’s it. (CE)
  • Born May 20, 1946 – Mike Glicksohn.  Three FAAn (Fan Activity Achievement) awards.  With Susan Wood published the superb fanzine Energumen, Hugo winner 1973; with her, Fan Guests of Honour at Aussiecon One the 33rd Worldcon; his trip report, The Hat Goes Home (he famously wore an Australian bush hat).  Co-founded the fanziners’ con Ditto (named for a brand of spirit-duplicator machine).  One of our best auctioneers at Art Shows, at fund-raisers for cons, and for traveling-fan funds.  (Died 2011) [JH]
  • Born May 20, 1954 – Luis Royo, age 67.  Covers in and out of our field, comics, a Tarot deck, CDs, video games; a domed-ceiling fresco in Moscow (with his son Romulo Royo).  Spectrum silver award, Inkpot award.  See hereherehere.  [JH]
  • Born May 20, 1960 — John Billingsley, 61. Phlox on Enterprise, a series I really liked despite the fact it seems to have many detractors. His first genre role was in A Man from Earth as Mr. Rothman, a film in which the scriptwriter riffed off the immortality themes from the “Requiem for Methuselah” episode he did for Trek. He’d later reprised that role in The Man from Earth: Holocene. He’s had one-off appearances on The X-FilesStargate SG-1Duck DodgersTwin PeaksLucifer and The Orville. He had a recurring role on Stitchers as Mitchell Blair. (CE) 
  • Born May 20, 1961 — Owen Teale, 60. Best known role is Alliser Thorne on the just concluded Game of Thrones. He also was Will Scarlet in the superb Robin Hood where the lead role was performed by Patrick Bergin, he played the theologian Pelagius in 2004 King Arthur, was Vatrenus in yet another riff on Arthurian myth called The Last Legion, was Maldak in the “Vengeance on Varos” episode in the Era of the Sixth Doctor, and was Evan Sherman in the “Countrycide” episode of Torchwood. He’s currently playing Peter Knox in A Discovery of Witches based on the All Souls trilogy by Deborah Harkness, named after the first book in the trilogy.(CE)
  • Born May 20, 1988 – Amberle Husbands, age 33. Writer, graphic artist, sheetmetal mechanic.  Four short stories.  Has read The Master and MargaritaStarman JonesThe Tale of Genji (Seidensticker tr.), The Sot-Weed Factor, We Have Met the Enemy and He Is UsBlack Elk Speaks.  [JH]
  • Born May 20, 1997 – Sean Fay Wolfe, age 24.  First novel published at age 16; two more.  Eagle Scout.  Black Belt in Shidôkan karate.  Five-time All-State musician.  Creator of online games.  Three cats and a little white dog named Lucky.  [JH]

(14) COMICS SECTION.

  • Speed Bump makes a UFO joke from a standard pizza service question.
  • Get Fuzzy has some gamer snark.

(15) ART THEFT IN CALIFORNIA. San Diego Police are asking for help in recovering art stolen from San Diego in April 2021 – Heritage Auctions has the complete list at the link. It includes several pieces of fantasy and comics art.

In April, my house was ransacked and a valuable art collection was stolen. Unfortunately, some of the stolen pieces do not have an image available. Below is a list of the art taken:

  • Lil Abner Pen and Ink advertising drawing, commissioned for King Features Syndicate, circa 1950s. Description: Lil Abner, drawn from behind, clicking his heels in the air. Price paid: $2,500
  • Monte Moore – Gandalf, consulting a book in a library. Published in “Frazetta: Icon.” Price Paid: $1,500
  • Ernest Chiraicka – two page interior splash page in a pulp magazine. Description: Blond woman in a blue dress stands on one side of an apartment door, holding a gun up alongside her ear, in the hall, a man stands against the wall near the door, also holding a gun. Price Paid: $5,000
  • Marie Severin – Late 60s early 70s “Mad Magazine” Cover Painting. Description: Funny looking guy stooping and smelling the flowers. Price Paid: $6,500…

(16) BATMAN. DC’s animation division dropped this trailer for a new Batman animated film.

(17) FACEHUGGER FACE MASKS. [Item by Daniel Dern.] A colleague posted this one on Facebook — Facehugger mask leather pattern PDF by Leatherhub.

And a quick search led to others on Etsy. Click for larger images.

(18) PALESTINIAN SFF. Book Riot has the latest info about “Science Fiction and Fantasy by Palestinian Authors”, assembled by Alex Acks.

As I often do when terrible things are happening in the world and I’ve made all the phone calls I can and I still feel helpless, I turn to SFF as one way we can all at least connect together. So let’s talk about SFF by Palestinian authors. There isn’t a lot in (or translated to) English, but it’s still very worth reading.

The speculative fiction magazine Strange Horizons published a Palestinian Special issue on March 29, 2021. There are short stories and poetry to check out there….

(19) CREDENTIAL NOIR. Does this sound up your alley? Painted Cats by Neal F. Litherland from Ring of Fire Press.

Leo is the toughest alley cat around, but he’s got some soft spots. One is for an ex-flame looking for help and the other is for abandoned kittens, which lead him into trouble a lot bigger than he expected. But putting trouble in front of Leo is not what the furry denizens of the streets who know him would call a good career move….

It was a lazy summer in the park when an old flame walked back into Leo’s life. It had been a while since he’d seen Delilah, and it looked like she was doing all right for herself. She had a problem, though, and it wasn’t one her new squeeze could fix… a friend of hers had gone missing. Worse, she’d left her kitten behind.
 
Mischief was a devoted mama, and she never would have abandoned Trouble to fend for himself. Especially not in a place like Scratch Alley. But for old times’ sake, Leo agreed to stick his nose into things and see what he could turn up.
 
What he found was a lot more than he bargained for. While Mischief appeared to have vanished into thin air, Leo finds low-rent muscle dogging his steps. While he’s looking for Delilah’s missing friend, though, they’re trying to get their claws on Trouble. What’s so special about the kitten that petty packs of alley enforcers are out for blood? That might just be the answer to where Mischief went, however, if Leo knows anything about… Painted Cats.

(20) GETTING PAID. Can we possibly reread Raymond Chandler’s bad opinion of science fiction often enough? I never grow tired of it, myself, and Letters of Note has decided it’s a good day to revive his 1953 quote along with parts of three other Chandler missives in “She was the music heard faintly at the edge of sound”.

Did you ever read what they call Science Fiction? It’s a scream. It is written like this: “I checked out with K19 on Aldabaran III, and stepped out through the crummalite hatch on my 22 Model Sirus Hardtop. I cocked the timejector in secondary and waded through the bright blue manda grass. My breath froze into pink pretzels. I flicked on the heat bars and the Brylls ran swiftly on five legs using their other two to send out crylon vibrations. The pressure was almost unbearable, but I caught the range on my wrist computer through the transparent cysicites. I pressed the trigger. The thin violet glow was icecold against the rust-colored mountains. The Brylls shrank to half an inch long and I worked fast stepping on them with the poltex. But it wasn’t enough. The sudden brightness swung me around and the Fourth Moon had already risen. I had exactly four seconds to hot up the disintegrator and Google5 had told me it wasn’t enough. He was right.”

They pay brisk money for this crap?

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

Pixel Scroll 5/15/21 What Can You Get A Pixel For Christmas When He Already Owns A Scroll?

(1) SUCCESSFUL SURGERY. Amazing Stories’ Kermit Woodall says “Steve Davidson’s Heart Surgery is Successful!”

I got the call a few hours ago (didn’t know what it was and it went to voicemail) and just listened to it. Steve’s doctor said all went well and he’s doing fine in recovery!

(2) OH, THE NEUTRINOS YOU’LL BASH. The New York Times profiles the author in “Andy Weir’s New Space Odyssey”.

“The real world is a far richer and more complex tapestry than any writer could invent,” Andy Weir, the author of “Project Hail Mary,” said.

When Andy Weir was writing his new novel, “Project Hail Mary,” he stumbled into a thorny physics problem.

The book’s plot hinges on a space mold that devours the sun’s energy, threatening all life on Earth, and that propels itself by bashing neutrinos together. He needed to figure out how much energy would be produced by two of those subatomic particles colliding.

“I was having a really difficult time finding information on that, and the reason is because people don’t fully know. I mean, we’re getting to the edge of human knowledge on that one,” Weir said in an interview last month from his home in Saratoga, Calif. “Neutrinos are the smallest and most difficult to deal with subatomic particles that we have ever actually managed to prove exist.”

Most sci-fi writers would err on the side of fiction rather than science. But Weir has never been satisfied with fictional solutions to scientific quandaries. He eventually figured out the number he needed for a single sentence — 25.984 microns — and, in the process, learned a lot about neutrinos.

“You have something like 100 trillion neutrinos passing through you, personally, every second,” he said excitedly. “Just being emitted by the sun.”

(3) WEIR Q&A. Dr. Brian Keating interviews the author in “Andy Weir: Project Hail Mary = Even Better than the Martian!”. Some of the questions are:

  • How do you balance realism and scientific fact with a fictional narrative?
  • Could you really mobilize resources at a planetary scale?
  • Do you think it’s realistic to turn an amateur avocation into a career?
  • Is there too much UFOlogy? What’s your stance on SETI and UFOs?
  • Do you think we’ve been going about SETI the wrong way?

Andy Weir built a two-decade career as a software engineer until the success of his first published novel, The Martian , allowed him to live out his dream of writing full-time. He is a lifelong space nerd and a devoted hobbyist of such subjects as relativistic physics, orbital mechanics, and the history of manned spaceflight. He also mixes a mean cocktail. He lives in California.

(4) EVERYONE’S A CRITIC. Some would call this common beginning and ending point Joycean. Some will get that call and hang up. Thread starts here.

(5) FOUR’S A CHARM. Charles Payseur’s Hugo nomination made the news in Wisconsin: “Beyond Belief: Local Author Named Finalist For Hugo Awards – For the Fourth Time” at Volume One. Payseur blogs at Quick Sip Reviews.

… Payseur said he’s grateful for the recognition he said is largely the result of years of consistent effort and a deep affinity for sci-fi/fantasy writing. His own writing, combined with blogs and reviews, landed him on the Hugo map, he said, noting that during the past six years he has reviewed more than 5,000 short fiction and poetry works. His Hugo recognition “comes on the back of my nonfiction work, my blogging and reviewing, and most of that probably comes down to just keeping at it and trying my best to engage with other people’s work openly, thoroughly, and compassionately,” Payseur said.

… Payseur, a 2008 UW-Eau Claire graduate in English, enjoys a variety of different writing styles, from poetry to romance to mystery. But ultimately science fiction and fantasy “with a dash of horror” is his favorite form to write and read.

Payseur has penned a book, The Burning Day and Other Strange Stories, published by Lethe Press and scheduled for release this summer. The work is a compilation of short stories – some of which he wrote years ago and some more recently. The Burning Day is a reflection of Payseur’s questioning of himself and the world around him, he said, examining “desire, nostalgia, and hope in a time when the past and future don’t exactly seem bright.”…

(6) TWO FOR THE PRICE OF NONE. Bruce Gillespie’s SF Commentary 105 (March 2021) and SF Commentary 106 (May 2021) are available as free downloads here. Bruce comments —

They are really two parts of one issue, 80 pages each. No. 105 includes my natter, plus Colin Steele’s reviews column, and the first half of the Gigantic Letter Column, plus covers by Carol Kewley and Alan White.

No. 106 includes my tribute to Yvonne Rousseau (1945–2021), noted Australian fan, critic, essayist and editor; Perry Middlemiss’s article about the 1960s Hugos; Andrew Darlington’s discussion of early John Brunner; Jennifer Bryce’s Top 10 Books of 2020; and with Tony Thomas, a coverage of the most recent Booker Prizes. Plus the second half of the Gigantic Letter Column.

(7) HEAR AUDIO OF A FIFTIES EASTERCON PLAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] “Last and First Fen” is a play that was performed at the 1956 Eastercon and recently put online by Rob Hansen as part of his invaluable research into British fan history.  If this play was a transcript it would have to be heavily annotated.  I got none of the jokes about British fen and only a few of the references to Americans.  But I nonetheless got the gist of the production and thought it was agreeably silly, especially for people who like British comedy of the era.  I thought it was worth an hour.  The website also has photos of what cosplayers looked like in 1956. The audio recording is here.

(8) WIBBLY WOBBLY WEATHER. James Davis Nicoll is your ambassador to “Five Fictional Planets Plagued by Extreme Climate Shifts” at Tor.com.

…SF authors being what they are, those whose works feature climate forcing due to companion stars tend to prefer dramatic oscillations rather than low, single percent wobbles. One might expect that such works would have first shown up in these times of worry over anthropogenic climate change. Not so! This was already a well-established genre. Consider the following works from times of yore:

Cycle of Fire by Hal Clement (1957)

Precisely how ancient red dwarf Theer came to orbit much younger, far more massive Alcyone is unclear. The consequences, however, are obvious. Theer’s habitable world Abyormen cycles between comfortable temperate conditions and overheated and wet greenhouse conditions. Abyormen’s life has adapted in ways Terrestrials would find astounding.

Providentially for castaway Nils Kruger, inadvertently abandoned on Abyormen by fellow crewpersons, Abyormen is in the temperate part of its cycle. Even better, he encounters native Dar Lang Ahn, in whose company he explores an alien world Nils is unlikely to leave soon. Thus, he gains knowledge of just how Abyormen’s life has adapted to its periodic baking. To his distress, he realizes that these adaptations could make the likeable aliens a threat to humanity….

(9) DO YOU HAVE GOOD TASTE? In the Washington Post, Alexandra Petri meets a creature who’s hungry for people to come back to the office. “Only the least tasty employees work from home!”

Is it good and important to go back to the office? Oh yes! Oh yes! It is so very good and important, and I am so glad that you asked me! I know all that transpires in the office, and how very good and important it is to be there — yes, for everyone to be there! Everyone must be in the office with their assorted smells and their good meaty legs! It is bad that the office is empty of people and filled only with the scent of hand sanitizer and flat sodas that were opened in March 2020. There is no nourishment in this! How the management yearns for a return of the workers! How it is ravenous for them! How it hungers for them!…

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]

  • Born May 15, 1856 — L. Frank Baum. I adore The Wizard of Oz film and I’m betting you know that it only covers about half of the novel which is a splendid read indeed. I’ll confess that I never read the numerous latter volumes in the Oz franchise, nor have I read anything else by him. What’s the rest of his fiction like?  There is, by the way, an amazing amount of fanfic out here involving Oz and of it is slash. (Died 1919.) (CE) 
  • Born May 15, 1891 – Mikhail Bulgakov.  Had he only written The Master and Margarita, that would have sufficed us.  Margarita, not the Master, allies herself with the Devil – maybe; I talk a little about it here; published decades after his death, too dangerous.  Mick Jagger said it inspired “Sympathy for the Devil”.  Try this Website.  See also DiaboliadThe Fatal EggsHeart of a Dog. Two rival museums in Moscow – in the same building; one in Kiev.  (Died 1940) [JH]
  • Born May 15, 1919 – Harry Bennett.  Thirty covers, half a dozen interiors.  Here is The “Lomokome” Papers.  Here is The White Jade Fox.  Here is Floating Worlds.  Here is The Last Enchantment.  Here is the frontispiece for a Short Stories of Oscar Wilde.  (Died 2012) [JH]
  • Born May 15, 1926 — Anthony Shaffer. His genre screenplays were Alfred Hitchcock’s Frenzy and Robin Hardy’s The Wicker Man. Though definitely not genre, he wrote the screenplays for a number of most excellent mysteries including the Agatha Christie based  Evil Under the Sun,Death on the Nile, and Murder on the Orient Express. (Died 2001.) (CE) 
  • Born May 15, 1946 – Michaelene Pendleton.  Eight short stories.  Editor, particularly ESL (work written in English as a second language) “because I learn about your culture through your writing.”  (Died 2019) [JH]
  • Born May 15, 1955 – Tatsumi Takayuki, age 66.  (Personal name last, Japanese style.)  Professor at Keiô University, chair of its SF Study Group; editor, essayist, interviewer, theoretician; Nihon SF Taishô (Grand Prize) from SFWJ (Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of Japan).  President, Amer. Literature Society of Japan 2014-2017, Poe Soc. of Japan 2009-  ; editorial boards of ParadoxaMark Twain StudiesJournal of Transnat’l Amer. Studies.  In English, for NY Review of SFSF ChronicleSF EyeSF Studies, the 65th and 72nd Worldcons’ Souvenir Books; The Liverpool Companion to World SF FilmThe Cambridge History of Postmodern Literature.  [JH]
  • Born May 15, 1955 — Lee Horsley, 66. A performer who’s spent a lot of his career in genre undertakings starting with The Sword and the Sorcerer (and its 2010 sequel Tales of an Ancient Empire), horror films Nightmare ManThe Corpse Had a Familiar Face and Dismembered and even a bit of SF in Showdown at Area 51. Not sure where The Face of Fear falls — it has a cop with psychic powers and a serial killer. (CE) 
  • Born May 15, 1960 — Rob Bowman, 61. Producer of such series as Alien NationM.A.N.T.I.S.Quantum LeapNext Generation, and The X-Files. He has directed these films: The X-FilesReign of Fire and Elektra. He directed one or several episodes of far too many genres series to list here.  (CE) 
  • Born May 15, 1966 — Greg Wise, 55. I’m including him solely as he’s in Tristram Shandy: A Cock and Bull Story. It is a film-within-a-film, featuring Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon playing themselves as egotistical actors during the making of a screen adaptation of Laurence Sterne’s 18th century metafictional novel Tristram Shandy. Not genre (maybe) but damn fun. (CE)
  • Born May 15, 1974 – Ahmet Zappa, age 47.  Brother of Dweezil, Moon Unit, and Diva; wrote song “Frogs with Dirty Little Lips” with his father Frank.  Debut novel (and interiors), The Monstrous Memoirs of a Mighty McFearless; debut film, The Odd Life of Timothy Green; television, three-season host of Robotica; co-author with wife Shana Muldoon Zappa, Sage and the Journey to Wishworld and 14 more Star Darlings books. [JH]
  • Born May 15, 1991 – Julie Novakova, age 30.  In English, a score of short stories, two anthologies; recent essay in Clarkesworld 174 (Mar 2021).  Seven novels in Czech.  Website (in Czech and English).  As of 11 May 21 Kickstarter looks good for Life Beyond Us.  [JH]

(11) FANTASTIC FOUR TURNS SIXTY. Marvel Comics is celebrating the 60th anniversary of the Fantastic Four, and artist John Romita, Jr. has returned to the company just in time to help.

Following the highly anticipated BRIDE OF DOOM storyline, August’s FANTASTIC FOUR #35 will be a special giant-sized spectacular that will see series writer Dan Slott teaming up with legendary artist John Romita Jr.

Recently returned to the House of Ideas, Romita Jr. is back to bringing his incredible artwork to Marvel’s biggest heroes, starting with this celebratory 60th anniversary issue for Marvel’s First Family. FANTASTIC FOUR #35 will launch a brand-new storyline that will see every iteration of the iconic villain Kang teaming up for a devious plot that will unravel across Fantastic Four history!

(12) I’VE BEEN WORKING ON THE RAILROAD. Mr. Muffin’s Trains offers these two irresistible additions to your model railroad’s rolling stock:

(13) SHOCKED, I TELL YOU. Of course there should be a stolen body involved in this story! ScreenRant points a finger as “Resident Evil Village Accused Of Stealing Horror Movie’s Monsters”.

Resident Evil Village has a number of new and rather unique monsters for the franchise, but one of them may have been stolen from a film. One of the most noteworthy bosses in Resident Evil Village is a creature that is half man, half aircraft propeller, and apparently, the director of the 2013 film Frankenstein’s Army believes Capcom knowingly ripped it off along with other characters in that same section of the game.

Resident Evil as a franchise is known for its imaginative, well-realized monsters, such as Lady Dimitrescu in Resident Evil Village. Oftentimes the disgusting and violent villains become incredibly iconic and are held up highly in the survival horror genre. The series has birthed the likes of Mr. X, the Nemesis, the Chainsaw Man, and many more, but some of the franchise’s latest creations may not be wholly original….

(14) IT’S NO TRICK. Julia Alexander’s Musings on Mouse contends “Loki is now a sign of Disney+’s strength”.

… None of this implies that Disney+ is struggling by any means. It’s not. But whereas competitors might give subscribers more reasons to open the app daily, Disney+ is still looking for its constant. Disney+’s catalog makes up 4% of catalog demand in the US, according to Parrot Analytics, behind all of the other big streamers. Internal restrictions (nothing above PG-13 can be on the app, nothing outside of Disney’s core brands) means the catalogue can only grow so large each month. 

We’re getting there, though. Disney moving Loki to Wednesdays is in part because The Bad Batch is running on Fridays through mid-August. In-between that time, Disney is bringing back High School Musical: The Musical: The Series (on Fridays) and see big movie debuts, including Cruella and Black Widow in May and July respectively. Disney+ has appointment viewing spots for Friday and into the weekend. But Disney wants to increase consistency in engagement throughout the week. 

Disney is in a rare position where over the next 10 months the company will have a high profile show or movie every single day, every single week. A new movie, overlapping Marvel shows, a Star Wars series, a Pixar series, and other potentially big live-action projects. These series overlap and create a consistent flow of appointment television that all bleed into one another. For all the conversation about “franchise fatigue,” statistically that’s not present in actual consumer behavior. 

There’s a reason that consistency is key to any business model, but with streaming, if subscribers are consistently opening and using a platform, this leads to less churn and Disney feels better about raising prices incrementally. This helps with overall ARPU in important regions. Or, to put it simply, Wall Street is happy, Disney executives are happy, and consumers are fine with the increase because the value is apparent. …

(15) EVERBODY WATCHES, NOBODY QUITS. If you haven’t already satisfied your daily minimum requirement for deconstructing Verhoeven’s Starship Troopers, it’s time to watch the second installment of Kyle Kallgren’s analysis: “STARSHIP TROOPERS, Part 2: VERHOEVEN”. (Part 1 is here.)

(16) YOUR EPISTEMOLOGY DOLLARS AT WORK. Public television is here to help you decide an important question: “PBS Space Time – How To Know If It’s Aliens.”

There’s one rule on Space Time: It’s never Aliens. But every rule has an exception and this rule is no exception because: It’s never aliens, until it is. So is it aliens yet? And on this fortnight’s Space Time they have been examining all the best case scenarios for life beyond Earth.

[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, John Hertz, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, Jennifer Hawthorne, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, Bruce Gillespie, James Davis Nicoll, and Michael Toman, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Jack Lint.]