Pixel Scroll 6/17/21 Had We Scrolls Enough, And Time, These Pixels, Filer, Were No Crime

(1) STATHOPOULOS ON TV. The Age’s reviewer Debi Enker manages to put Nick Stathopoulos’ TV appearance in a good light in an otherwise snarky piece: “Three-part documentary Finding the Archibald and weekly magazine show Art Works can’t fix ABC TV’s coverage of the arts”. Nick is a past Hugo, BSFA Award, and Chesley nominee who’s won Australia’s Ditmar Award 10 times. He also designed the Aussiecon 4 (2010) Hugo base.  

Actor and presenter Rachel Griffiths, Nick Stathopoulos and Deng Adut in Finding The Archibald. ABC

… The series about “the Archie” arrives in the popular prize’s centenary year. Producer, writer and director Griffiths endeavours to establish her cred as host by telling us that she is the daughter of an art teacher and the wife of a painter, as well as “an actor who’s spent her whole life trying to understand the human condition”.

Apparently, a survey of the Archibald’s history and consideration of what it might reflect about our country isn’t sufficient: the production requires some tricking up. So Griffiths embarks on a mission to select a single portrait that she believes “captures the changing face of Australia and will stand the test of time”.

She interviews a range of artists who have submitted portraits to the prize, as well as people who have posed for them, and ponders the question of what makes a great portrait. She also poses for one herself.

Meanwhile, the series also follows Natalie Wilson as she curates an exhibition of 100 portraits to accompany the NSW Art Gallery’s display of this year’s entrants. Her search involves thousands of emails sent in an effort to locate past Archibald entries. Fortunately, Sherlock Griffiths is on hand to help her find the one of Molly Meldrum, which is hanging in the first place that anyone might look for it: his house….

(2) EARNING PENNIES FROM A DEAD MAN’S EYES. The Rite Gud podcast wonders aloud: “H.P. Lovecraft: Why We Can Stop Flogging His Dead Bloated Corpse”.

In today’s sci-fi/ fantasy community, it’s fashionable to dig up H.P. Lovecraft and put him on trial as the avatar of everything wrong with speculative fiction. While we won’t defend Lovecraft’s abhorrent social values, we have to ask: what is the point of this? What do we gain by canceling a man who is now a dusty skeleton mouldering in the dirt? Are we really reckoning with genre fiction’s bigoted past, or are we just looking for a way to distract from our contemporary problems?

In this episode, Karlo Yeager Rodríguez joins us to talk about horror, colonialism, and Captain Picard’s dangerous space dumps.

(3) BLUE PLATE SPECIALS REMAIN ON MENU. “English Heritage recognises Blyton and Kipling’s racism – but blue plaques to stay” reports The Guardian.

English Heritage has acknowledged the “racism, xenophobia and lack of literary merit” in Enid Blyton’s writing, and the “racist and imperialist sentiments” of Rudyard Kipling, as part of its ongoing efforts to better reflect today’s values in its blue plaques.

While English Heritage’s blue plaques commemorating both authors remain unchanged, the charity’s online information about both now goes into detail about the problematic aspects of their writing and views.

English Heritage notes online how in 1960, Macmillan refused to publish Blyton’s children’s novel The Mystery That Never Was, noting her “faint but unattractive touch of old-fashioned xenophobia”. It would go on to be published by William Collins….

English Heritage has also noted the views of Kipling, who is still commemorated with a blue plaque at 43 Villiers St in London where he lived between 1889 and 1891.

English Heritage’s online information for Kipling now highlights how his political views “have been widely criticised for their racist and imperialist sentiments”. It points in particular to works such as The White Man’s Burden “with its offensive description of ‘new-caught, sullen peoples, half devil and half child’” which “sought to portray imperialism as a mission of civilisation”.

It also highlights that “George Orwell found Kipling’s attitude to instances of colonial brutality ‘morally insensitive and aesthetically disgusting’, but admitted the importance of his work to him in his younger life.”

(4) STATION-TO-STATION. Abigail Nussbaum is a big fan of this, as shown by her “Five Comments on The Underground Railroad at Asking the Wrong Questions.

The Underground Railroad is a stone cold masterpiece, one that not only shoulders the challenging task of adapting the novel it was based on with seeming ease, but that breaks new ground in terms of what television can be and how it can achieve its effect. It deserves sustained, continued discussion and exploration. So this post isn’t a review—I’m not sure I feel equal to that—so much as a series of observations, ones that will hopefully get more people to watch the show, and talk about it….

(5) BROMANCE, ROMANCE, NUANCE. In “Anthony Mackie on Sam & Bucky’s ‘Bromance’ on Falcon & Winter Soldier” in Variety, the new Captain America tells things from his perspective.

…So getting to wear the costume, hold the shield, and call himself Captain America — as Wilson does in the Marvel comics — was somewhat overwhelming for Mackie.

“Having if not one of my bucket lists, the bucket list moment happen, is not so much about becoming Captain America — it’s about having my dreams realized,” he says. “It’s very humbling when, you know, you get the opportunity that you’ve always dreamed of.”

The other half of Sam’s journey on the show is the transformation of his relationship with Bucky Barnes (Sebastian Stan) from simmering resentment to a lasting and profound friendship. That translated into several scenes of emotional and physical familiarity between Sam and Bucky that some fans interpreted as a budding romance — similar to how some Marvel fans desired Bucky and the first Captain America, Chris Evans’ Steve Rogers, to be a couple.

Mackie points out that he’s played in these kinds of waters before, in an episode of “Black Mirror” in which he and Yahya Abdul-Mateen II star as best friends who play an immersive, virtual reality video game that allows them to simulate being a man and woman in a sexual relationship. But he resists an interpretation that Sam and Bucky are sexually or romantically attracted to each other.

“So many things are twisted and convoluted. There’s so many things that people latch on to with their own devices to make themselves relevant and rational,” he says. “The idea of two guys being friends and loving each other in 2021 is a problem because of the exploitation of homosexuality. It used to be guys can be friends, we can hang out, and it was cool. You would always meet your friends at the bar, you know. You can’t do that anymore, because something as pure and beautiful as homosexuality has been exploited by people who are trying to rationalize themselves. So something that’s always been very important to me is showing a sensitive masculine figure. There’s nothing more masculine than being a superhero and flying around and beating people up. But there’s nothing more sensitive than having emotional conversations and a kindred spirit friendship with someone that you care about and love.”

“Sam and Steve had a relationship where they admired, appreciated and loved each other,” Mackie continues. “Bucky and Sam have a relationship where they learn how to accept, appreciate and love each other. You’d call it a bromance, but it’s literally just two guys who have each other’s backs.”…

(6) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

  • June 17, 1960 –  The Twilight Zone’s “The Mighty Casey.”

What you’re looking at is a ghost, once alive but now deceased. Once upon a time, it was a baseball stadium that housed a major league ball club known as the Hoboken Zephyrs. Now it houses nothing but memories and a wind that stirs in the high grass of what was once an outfield, a wind that sometimes bears a faint, ghostly resemblance to the roar of a crowd that once sat here. We’re back in time now, when the Hoboken Zephyrs were still a part of the National League, and this mausoleum of memories was an honest-to-Pete stadium. But since this is strictly a story of make believe, it has to start this way: once upon a time, in Hoboken, New Jersey, it was tryout day. And though he’s not yet on the field, you’re about to meet a most unusual fella, a left-handed pitcher named Casey. — Opening narration 

It’s almost summer, so let’s have a baseball story. On this day in 1960, The Twilight Zone first aired “The Mighty Casey” in which a down-and-out baseball team’s fortunes are lifted by a mysterious but seemingly unbeatable young player. It was directed by Robert Parrish and Alvin Ganzer, and of course written by Rod Serling. Cast was Jack Warden as McGarry, Robert Sorrells as Casey and Abraham Sofaer as Dr. Stillman. 

(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born June 17, 1898 — M. C. Escher. Dutch artist whose work was widely used to illustrate genre works such as the 1967 Harper & Row hardcover of Kate Wilhelm’s Where Late the Sweet Birds Sang, or Berkley Books 1996 cover of Clive Barker’s Athens Damnation Game. (Died 1972.)
  • Born June 17, 1903 — William Bogart. Pulp fiction writer. He is best remembered for writing several Doc Savage novels using the pseudonym Kenneth Robeson. Actually he’s responsible for thirteen of the novels, a goodly share of the number done. It’s suggested that most of his short stories were Doc Savage pastiches. (Died 1977.)
  • Born June 17, 1927 — Wally Wood. Comic book writer, artist and independent publisher, best known for his work on EC Comics’ Mad magazine, Marvel’s Daredevil, and Topps’s landmark Mars Attacks set. He was the inaugural inductee into the comic book industry’s Jack Kirby Hall of Fame, and was later inducted into the Will Eisner Comic Book Hall of Fame. (Died 1981.)
  • Born June 17, 1931 — Dean Ing. I reasonably sure the first thing I read by him was Soft Targets and I know I read all of his Man-Kzin Wars stories as I went through a phase of reading all that popcorn literature set in Niven’s universe. His “Devil You Don’t Know” novelette was nominated at Seacon ‘79. I also liked  his L-5 Community series. (Died 2020.)
  • Born June 17, 1941 — William Lucking, 80. Here because he played Renny in Doc Savage: Man of Bronze. (I know I’ve seen it, but I’ll be damn if I remember much about it.)  He’s also had one-offs in Mission: ImpossibleThe Incredible HulkThe American HeroThe QuestVoyagersX-FilesThe Lazarus ManMilleniumDeep Space Nine and Night Stalker
  • Born June 17, 1953 — Phyllis Weinberg, 68. She’s a fan who was married to fellow fan Robert E. Weinberg. She co-edited the first issue of The Weird Tales Collector. She co-chaired World Fantasy Convention 1996. 
  • Born June 17, 1982 — Arthur Darvill, 39. Actor who has had two great roles. The first was playing Rory Williams, one of the Eleventh Doctor’s companions. The second, and to my mind the more interesting of the two, was playing the time-traveler Rip Hunter in the Legends of Tomorrow. He also played Seymour Krelborn in The Little Shop of Horrors at the Midlands Arts Centre, and Mephistopheles in Doctor Faustus at Shakespeare’s Globe.  
  • Born June 17, 1982 — Jodie Whittaker, 39. The Thirteenth Doctor now in her third series and hopefully not final one. She played Ffion Foxwell in the Black Mirror‘s “The Entire History of You”, and was Samantha Adams in Attack the Block, a horror SF film. 

(7A) NUTS. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] This is from a review by Robert Armstrong of Charlie Brown’s America: The Popular Politics of Peanuts by Blake Scott Ball in the June 12 Financial Times.  Armstrong notes that Charles Schultz was a World War II veteran.

Snoopy’s alternative identity as a first world war flying ace–with his dog-house propeller plane–was a childhood favourite.  It never occurred to me to read the strips as commentaries on the Vietnam War.  Yet they were.  It is telling that Snoopy never defeated the Red Baron, and equally notable that the strips became more bleak as the war went on.’I’m exhausted,’ Snoopy complains in 1971. ‘this stupid war is too much.’  Readers got the message:  Schultz supported the fighting man, but not the war.  The soldiers in Asia got it too.

(8) STRACZYNSKI BOOK LAUNCH. J. Michael Straczynski will do a Zoom book launch for his new non-sf novel Together We Will Go on Tuesday, July 6 at 5:30 p.m. Central. Free to attend, registration required. Register here.

Known for his groundbreaking work across television, comics, films, and more, award-winning and bestselling author J. Michael Straczynski joins us to celebrate the publication day of Together We Will Go (Gallery/Scout Press), his stirring first foray into literary fiction. A powerful tale of a struggling young writer who assembles a busload of fellow disheartened people on a journey toward death, Together We Will Go grapples with the biggest questions of existence while finding small moments of the beauty in this world that often goes unnoticed. As Straczynski’s travelers cross state lines and complications to the initial plan arise, it becomes clear that this novel is as much about the will to live as the choice to end it—and that it’s a book readers will remember for a lifetime.

(9) THREE TAIKONAUTS REACH CHINA’S SPACE STATION. AP News covers the moment as “Chinese crew enters new space station on 3-month mission”.

Three Chinese astronauts arrived Thursday at China’s new space station at the start of a three-month mission, marking another milestone in the country’s ambitious space program.

Their Shenzhou-12 craft connected with the space station module about six hours after taking off from the Jiuquan launch center on the edge of the Gobi Desert.

About three hours later, commander Nie Haisheng, 56, followed by Liu Boming, 54, and space rookie Tang Hongbo, 45, opened the hatches and floated into the Tianhe-1 core living module. Pictures showed them busy at work unpacking equipment.

“This represents the first time Chinese have entered their own space station,” state broadcaster CCTV said on its nightly news broadcast.

The crew will carry out experiments, test equipment, conduct maintenance and prepare the station for receiving two laboratory modules next year. The mission brings to 14 the number of astronauts China has launched into space since 2003, becoming only the third country after the former Soviet Union and the United States to do so on its own.

(10) MORE POWER. Netflix dropped a trailer for How I Became a Superhero. Airs July 9.

Who are the real superheroes? In a world where humans and superheroes coexist, a lone wolf cop teams up with a brilliant detective to dismantle a dark organization trafficking superpowers.

(11) REH IN THE COMICS. The Cromcast: A Weird Fiction Podcast lets you listen in to a panel from the recent get-together in Cross Plains: “Howard Days 2021 – REH in the Comics!”

This conversation from Friday, June 11th, at the First United Methodist Church in Cross Plains, Texas. The panel focuses on the history of Robert E. Howard’s characters and stories presented in a comic book format. Mark Finn moderates Roy Thomas, Fred Blosser, Patrice Louinet, and Jay Zetterberg. 

(12) REBORN SERIES CONTINUES. Jenna Greene is a teacher and author whose novel, Reborn, won the 2019 Moonbeam Children’s Book award. She is the co-host of Quill & Ink: A Podcast for Book Lovers.

In Reborn, a character tries to escape her fate:

The marks on Lexil’s skin state she is a Reborn – someone who has lived before. As such, she must toil in service to those who have only one chance at life. Sold at auction, she is fearful but accepting of her new life. Everything changes when she must save a young child from a fate worse than death.

With the help of a new ally named Finn, she flees to the Wastelands. There she struggles to survive, while discovering more about herself, the world, and what it truly means to be Reborn.

Now, in the series’ second book, Renew, Lexil and Finn are forced to venture back into the Wastelands:

The Unclaimed Cities are not the idyllic setting Lexil, Finn, and Ceera thought it would be. This new land has challenges of its own – which they soon discover.

When Lexil and Finn return to the Wastelands, they are accompanied by Kaylen, someone they can’t decide is a friend or foe.

(13) MEMORY JOGGER. B-Side Books from Columbia University Press has some writers you’ve heard of advocating for books they hope you’ll love, too. Got to love this cover, anyway!

…What do you do when a book that you love has been neglected or dismissed by everyone else? In B-Side Books, leading writers, critics, and scholars show why their favorite forgotten books deserve a new audience. From dusty westerns and far-out science fiction to obscure Czech novelists and romance-novel precursors, the contributors advocate for the unsung virtues of overlooked books. They write about unheralded novels, poetry collections, memoirs, and more with understanding, respect, passion, and love.

In these thoughtful, often personal essays, contributors—including Stephanie Burt, Caleb Crain, Merve Emre, Ursula K. Le Guin, Carlo Rotella, and Namwali Serpell—read books by writers such as Helen DeWitt, Shirley Jackson, Stanislaw Lem, Dambudzo Marechera, Paule Marshall, and Charles Portis.

(14) BIG FANS OF BUGS. “Entomologists discover dozens of new beetle species—and name some after iconic sci-fi heroines”Phys.org has the story.

… Fast forward to now and there are thousands of ambrosia beetle species, including more than 70 of the Coptoborus genus—and counting. In christening the new beetles, Smith and Cognato got some inspiration by finding similarities between the beetle and its namesake.

For instance, the C. uhura was given its name because its reddish color, reminiscent of the uniform worn by Nichelle Nichols’s Uhura character in the original “Star Trek” TV series.

And Sigourney Weaver’s Ellen Ripley character in the “Alien” film franchise had a shaved head in the movie “Alien 3.” One of the beetles, now named C. ripley, was also glabrous, or without hair.

Other names were selected because the duo just liked the characters and found them inspiring. For example, the C. scully beetle was named after Dana Scully, Gillian Anderson’s character on “The X-Files.”

The character is also behind what’s known as the “Scully Effect.” By showing a successful female scientist on TV, the show helped raise awareness of science, technology, engineering and mathematics—or STEM—professions among young women.

In their paper, Smith and Cognato wrote, “We believe in the ‘Scully Effect’ and hope future female scientists, real and fictional, continue to inspire children and young adults to pursue STEM careers.”…

(15) VIDEO OF THE DAY. And here’s “How The Falcon And The Winter Soldier Should Have Ended”.

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

2021 Prometheus Hall of Fame Finalists

The Libertarian Futurist Society has selected five finalists for the 2021 Prometheus Hall of Fame Award for Best Classic Fiction.

  • The Winter of the World, a 1975 novel by Poul Anderson
  • “As Easy as A.B.C.,” a 1912 novelette by Rudyard Kipling
  • “The Trees,” a 1978 song by Rush (recorded as part of the rock group’s 1978 album “Hemispheres”)
  • Emphyrio, a 1969 novel by Jack Vance
  • “Lipidleggin’,” a 1979 short story by F. Paul Wilson

The Prometheus Awards ballot will be emailed to LFS members at the usual time next May, The Prometheus Award, sponsored by the Libertarian Futurist Society (LFS), was established and first presented in 1979, making it one of the most enduring awards after the Nebula and Hugo awards, and one of the oldest fan-based awards currently in sf. Presented annually since 1982 at the World Science Fiction Convention, the Prometheus Awards include gold coins and plaques for the winners for Best Novel, Best Classic Fiction (Hall of Fame), and occasional Special Awards.

Pixel Scroll 1/27/19 My Daddy Was A Pixel – I’m A Son Of A Dot!

(1) ANDREW CARNEGIE MEDALS. No genre works were on the shortlist, so needless to say today’s Andrew Carnegie Medal winners were all non-genre books. The omnivorous readers among you might like to know what they are anyway:

(2) ST:D PREMIERE FREE FOR A SHORT TIME. Thanks to The Verge I learned: “You can now watch Star Trek: Discovery’s season 2 premiere on YouTube”.

According to ComicBook.com, the episode will be available for the next two weeks, long enough to serve as a reminder that the series is back,

(3) OUTSPOKEN AI. Tansy Rayner Roberts and Rivqa Rafael listed “5 Books that Give Voice to Artificial Intelligence” for Tor.com readers. Among their picks is —

The Tea Master & the Detective by Aliette de Bodard

The trouble with reading SFF is that you end up with amazing life goals that probably will not be attained during your own lifetime. It’s bad enough when a favourite book leaves you wanting a dragon librarian to be your best friend, or a magic school to invite you in when you turn eleven… and now I need a spaceship who brews tea in my life.

A really good cozy mystery balances rich characters with charmingly creepy murders, and de Bodard hits all the right notes in this wonderful, warm homage to Sherlock Holmes in which our detective is Long Chau, an angry and traumatised scholar, and her Watson is a calm, tea-brewing shipmind.

As with the original Watson, Long Chau’s story is told from the point of view of the detective’s friend, which allows a contrast between the detective’s technical brilliance, and our narrator’s emotional intelligence. Yes, the emotional work in the story is largely done by the spaceship. That’s how great it is. –Tansy

(4) HEMMING DEADLINE. If you’re going to nominate for the Norma K. Hemming Award, you need to get it done by January 31. Details at the website.

Designed to recognise excellence in the exploration of themes of race, gender, sexuality, class or disability in a published speculative fiction work, the Norma K Hemming award is open to short fiction, novellas, novels, anthologies, collections, graphic novels and stage plays, and makes allowances for serialised work.

Entry is free for all works, and entries may be provided to the judges in print or digital format.

Nominations are open to all relevant and eligible Australian work produced in 2018

(5) FOOD REVELATIONS. Fran Wilde did a class about “Fantastic Worldbuilding.” Cat Rambo tweeted the highlights.

Fran Wilde’s online writing class talks about how to build a vivid, compelling world in the context of writing about an event set in that world. For other Rambo Academy live classes, see http://www.kittywumpus.net/blog/upcoming-online-classes/

(6) BASED ON CIXIN LIU STORY. A trailer for The Wandering Earth has shown up on The Verge (“A new trailer for The Wandering Earth shows off a desperate plan to save the planet”). The film is slated for a limited release starting on February 8.

A new trailer for The Wandering Earth — described as China’s biggest science fiction movie ever — landed earlier this week, showing off an ambitious adventure that follows the efforts to save Earth after scientists discover that the sun is about to go out. 

The movie is based on a story by Chinese author Cixin Liu — who’s best known for his Three-Body Problem trilogy and last year’s Ball Lightning. While those books are huge, epic stories, The Wandering Earth is no less ambitious: when scientists realize that the sun will go out in a couple of decades, they hatch a desperate plan: to move the planet to Proxima Centauri. The construct thousands of giant engines to move the planet out of orbit, where it can then slingshot post Jupiter and out of the Solar System. 

And there was a previous trailer in December.

(7) THEY’D RATHER PLAY SOMEONE ELSE. Travis M. Andrews in the Washington Post tells about actors who really didn’t like their roles. People know Harrison Ford doesn’t like Han Solo, and Robert Pattinson apparently won’t like you if you tell him you really loved Twilight: “Penn Badgley thinks his ‘You’ character is a creep. Here are 5 other actors who hated the people they played.”

Robert Pattinson despises his iconic “Twilight” character, Edward Cullen, with a fury unlike any other. Pattinson has complained throughout so many interviews about Edward, the century-old telepathic vampire who falls for Kristen Stewart’s Bella (a witch or something), that there’s an entire Tumblr feed dedicated to his most (self-) scathing comments.

Among his harshest words: He has said “Twilight” “seemed like a book that shouldn’t be published.” That “if Edward was not a fictional character, and you just met him in reality — you know, he’s one of those guys who would be an ax murderer.” He called his performance “a mixture of looking slightly constipated and stoned.”

(8) OBSCURE AWARD. The Society of Camera Operators’ awards were presented January 26, and if you scan The Hollywood Reporter article closely enough you’ll be able to discover the single winner of genre note: “‘A Star Is Born’ Camera Operator Tops SOC Awards”.

Movie category had no genre nominees

Movie category winner

* P. Scott Sakamoto for A Star Is Born

TV category winner

* Chris Haarhoff and Steven Matzinger for Westworld

Other awards presented

* Jane Fonda — Governor’s Award

* Harrison Ford— President’s Award

* “Lifetime Achievement award recipients were Dave Emmerichs, camera operator; Hector Ramirez, camera operator (live and non-scripted); Jimmy Jensen, camera technician; John Man, mobile camera platform operator, and Peter Iovino, still photographer.”

* Technical achievement award — makers of the Cinemoves Matrix 4 axis stabilized gimbal

(9) HARPAZ OBIT. Former Israel Air Force Pilot Colonel (Res.) Rami Harpaz passed away January 24 at the age of 80: “Father of iconic ‘Hebrew Pilots’ translation of Tolkien dies” in the Jerusalem Post (behind a paywall).

Rami Harpaz lead a group of IAF pilots in Egyptian captivity to translate the iconic fantasy work into Hebrew while in prison, the book introduced Tolkien to Israeli readers and remains iconic.

…He was captured by the Egyptians during the War of Attrition, while in captivity he was given a copy of the Hobbit, the famous fantasy book by J.R.R. Tolkien, by his brother who was able to deliver the book to him via the Red Cross. 

Prison conditions were harsh and the Egyptians tortured the Israeli prisoners, yet despite of this, Harpaz and his fellow  prisoners began to translate the book into Hebrew. The initial motivation was to allow Israelis who could not read English well to enjoy the book in Hebrew. 

The translation was done in pairs with one person reading in English and speaking it out in Hebrew and the translation partner writing it down in Hebrew and editing it. Harpaz and three other captured pilots were the translators of what became known as ‘the pilots translation’ of the Hobbit. The final product was seven notebooks written by hand, the book was published in 1977 with funding provided by the IAF.   

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born January 27, 1832 Lewis Carroll. Writer of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and its sequel Through the Looking-Glass. In 1876, he also  produced  his work, “The Hunting of the Snark”, a fantastical nonsense poem exploring the adventures of a very, very bizarre crew of nine tradesmen and a beaver who set off to find the snark. (Died 1898.)
  • Born January 27, 1940 James Cromwell, 79. I think we best know him as Doctor Zefram Cochrane In Star Trek: First Contact  which was re-used in the Enterprise episode “In a Mirror, Darkly (Part I)”.  He’s been in other genre films including Species IIDeep ImpactThe Green MileSpace CowboysI, RobotSpider-Man 3 and Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom. He played characters on three Trek series, Prime Minister Nayrok on “The Hunted” episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation and Jaglom Shrek in the two part “Birthright” story, Hanok on the “Starship Down” episode of Deep Space Nine and Zefram Cochrane once as noted before on Enterprise
  • Born January 27, 1957 Frank Miller, 62. If you’re not a comic reader, you first encountered him in the form of Robocop 2 which I think is a quite decent film. His other films include Robocop 3, Sin City, 300, Spirit (fun) and various Batman animated films that you’ll either like or loathe depending on your ability to tolerate extreme violence. Oh, but his comics. Setting aside his Batman work all of which is a must read, I’d recommend his Daredevil, especially the Frank Miller & Klaus Janson Omnibus which gives you everything by him you need, Elektra by Frank Miller & Bill Sienkiewicz, all of his Sin City work and RoboCop vs. The Terminator #1–4 with Walt Simonson. 
  • Born January 27, 1963 Alan Cumming, 56. His film roles include his performances as Boris Grishenko in GoldenEye, Fegan Floop In the Spy Kids trilogy, Loki, god of Mischief in Son of the Mask (a really horrid film), Nightcrawler In X2 and Judas Caretaker in Riverworld (anyone know this got made?). 
  • Born January 27, 1970 Irene Gallo, 49. Associate Publisher of Tor.com and Creative Director of Tor Books. Editor of Worlds Seen in Passing: Ten Years of Tor.com Short Fiction. Interestingly she won all but one of the Chesley Award for Best Art Director that were given out between 2004 and 2012. 

(11) KIPLING, SFF AUTHOR? Fred Lerner’s well-regarded essay “A Master of our Art: Rudyard Kipling considered as a Science Fiction writer” addresses a topic that surfaced in comments the other day.

…Like Verne and Wells, Kipling wrote stories whose subject-matter is explicitly science-fictional. “With the Night Mail: A Story of 2000 A.D.” portrays futuristic aviation in a journalistic present-tense that recalls Kipling’s years as a teenaged subeditor on Anglo-Indian newspapers. “The Eye of Allah” deals with the introduction of advanced technology into a mediaeval society that may not be ready for it.

But it is not this explicit use of science and technology in some of his stories that makes Kipling so important to modern science fiction. Many of Kipling’s contemporaries and predecessors wrote scientific fiction. Nathaniel Hawthorne and Herman Melville, Mark Twain and Conan Doyle are among them. Yet echoes of their work are seldom seen in today’s science fiction. Kipling’s appeal to modern readers lies instead in his approach and his technique.

The real subject-matter of Rudyard Kipling’s writing is the world’s work and the men and women and machines who do it. Whether that work be manual or intellectual, creative or administrative, the performance of his work is the most important thing in a person’s life. As Disko Troop says in Captains Courageous, “the most interesting thing in the world is to find out how the next man gets his vittles”….

(12) PACIFIC INKLINGS FESTIVAL. Sørina Higgins, Editor of The Inklings and King Arthur, will be the featured speaker when The Southern California C.S. Lewis Society presents The Pacific Inklings Festival and General Meeting on March 9.

(13) NOT A STAN FAN. HuffPost reports “Bill Maher Doubles Down On Trashing Stan Lee Fans, Adults Who Like Comics”.

His latest was supposed to address a controversial blog post from shortly after Stan Lee’s death. Address it, yeah. Back down from it? Not at all.

Bill Maher is not backing down when it comes to criticizing fans of Marvel giant Stan Lee, and fans of comic books in general.

On Friday’s “Real Time With Bill Maher,” the host insisted that he had nothing against the late Lee, but that adult fans of comics simply need to “grow up.”

“I’m not glad Stan Lee is dead, I’m sad you’re alive,” Maher said.

But the head of Marvel did not respond as you might have predicted SYFY Wire learned: “Bill Maher receives high-profile invite to Stan Lee tribute event after controversial comic book remarks”.

Bill Maher received an invite to the Stan Lee tribute event in Los Angeles this coming Wednesday from none other than Marvel‘s Chief Creative Officer, Joe Quesada.

This came after Maher found himself in hot water once again after doubling down on his controversial comments about how comic books cannot be considered “literature” and how superhero movies are not “great cinema.” Moreover, he said that people who think otherwise “are stuck in an everlasting childhood.”

Maher played himself in a deleted scene in Iron Man 3, where he blames America for creating The Mandarin

(14) NEEDS SOME LUCK. Paul Weimer says this epic fantasy novel is well worth your time and attention in a review for Nerds of a Feather: “Microreview [book]: The Ruin of Kings by Jenn Lyons”

Kihrin is a thief, an apprentice musician, and a resident of the Capital. He’s also possesses a rather powerful artifact whose provenance he does not quite understand, one that is difficult to take from him except by his free will. Even more than this, Kihrin and his artifact are pawns in a long simmering plot that would see him as key to the destruction of an empire. Instead of being a prophesied hero come to save the world, Kihrin’s role is seemingly destined for a much darker fate, unless his patron goddess, the goddess of luck, Taja, really IS on his side.

(15) MORE GOOD REVIEWS. Lady Business links to selected reviews around a theme — “Eight Book Minimum: Bring me queer ladies or bring me death!”

1. Somebody’s Trying to Kill Me and I Think It’s My Husband by Joanna Russ [Top]
Someone’s Trying to Kill Me and I Think It’s My Husband is Joanna Russ talking about the narrative tropes of gothic fiction from the late sixties and early seventies. The essay itself was originally published in 1973; I first read it in the collection To Write Like A Woman, which is great if you have a chance to read it. I found Somebody’s Trying to Kill Me at work though, and ah, it’s good to have it back.

The premise of this essay is that Joanna Russ, faced with the new wave of gothic fiction, had a publisher friend send her some of the most representative examples of the genre and broke down all of the common elements and analysed them as expressions of the “traditional feminine situation.” I would argue that regardless of how representative those books were, that’s a very small sample size (she mentions about half a dozen titles, and I’m just trying to picture the reaction today if someone tried this with, say, romantic suspense books). But her analysis is interesting? She’s analysing it, justifiably, as an incredibly popular genre with female readers, and picking out the elements that might be contributing to that (“‘Occupation: housewife’ is simultaneously avoided, glamorised, and vindicated” is one of the stand-out points for me, especially when coupled with the observation that the everyday skills of reading people’s feelings and faces are often the only thing keeping the heroine alive), but it’s a little strange to read. It’s interesting, and I can definitely relate some of her points to female-led genres today (I’m mainly thinking of things like cozy mysteries), but it is definitely an outsider to a genre picking apart its building blocks. So, interesting as a dissection of those specific titles and tropes, but maybe not representative of the wider genre.

(16) HOURS OF WITCHING. Phoebe Wagner checks in about the first season of a TV reboot: “Microreview [TV Series]: The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina” at Nerds of a Feather.

…In addition to balancing the magical aspects of the show, multiple episodes explore issues of feminism, smashing the patriarchy, race, sexual orientation, disability, and bullying. Through Sabrina, these becomes issues of her world rather than political statements. While TV shows at times have issue-driven episodes that seem to be responding to the political climate of the previous six months, The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina focuses on the lives of the characters, and since this is part of their lives, of course Sabrina is going to help them. That being said, especially early in the season, it at times felt a little white-savior as Sabrina works behind the scenes with magic to help her friends….

(17) THAT LEAKY WARDROBE. In this Saturday Night Live sketch, Mr. Tumnus (James McAvoy, reprising a character he played in a movie) meets several women who have recently arrived in Narnia.

(18) REVIEW OF “I AM MOTHER”. Variety: “Sundance Film Review: ‘I Am Mother’”. “After a mass extinction, a robot raises a little girl in a handsome, if derivative sci-fi thriller that salutes its own parentage.” The review gives much of this female-cast-led gerne film generally good marks, though significant issues are also pointed out. Bottom line:

What really presses [Director Grant] Sputore’s buttons is proving that he can make an expensive-looking flick for relative peanuts. If this were his job application for a blockbuster gig, he’d get the job. Though hopefully he and [Screenwriter Michael Lloyd] Green realize that the best sci-fi thrillers don’t just focus on solving the mystery of what happened — they explore what it all means. Sputore is clearly an intelligent life form. But as even his robot creator knows, “Mothers need to learn.”

  • Cast: Clara Rugaard, Rose Byrne (voice), Hilary Swank, Luke Hawker (motion capture), Tahlia Sturzaker.

(19) SPONSOR WILL DROP MAN BOOKER. BBC reveals that the sponsoring hedge fund feels “underappreciated” — “Man Booker loses £1.6m hedge fund sponsor amid talk of tension”.

Britain’s most famous literary award is looking for a new sponsor after hedge fund Man Group said it would end its support after 18 years.

The UK-based financial giant said its annual £1.6m backing of this year’s Man Booker Prize would be its last.

The link between the hedge fund and the literary world has not always been a smooth, with novelist Sebastian Faulks last year calling the firm “the enemy”.

Man Group said in a statement it had been a privilege to sponsor the prize.

But the BBC’s arts editor, Will Gompertz, said relations between Man Group and Booker organisers had been strained for some time, with a company source suggesting they felt underappreciated.

(20) DID IT MAKE A SOUND? A celebrity tree is no more: “Game of Thrones: Dark Hedges tree falls in high winds”.

A tree made famous by the TV fantasy drama Game of Thrones has fallen in strong winds.

Gale force winds of up to 60 mph hit Northern Ireland overnight on Saturday.

The Dark Hedges are a tunnel of beech trees on the Bregagh Road near Armoy that have become an an international tourist attraction since featuring in the hit series.

(21) OVER THE TOP. Let Quinn Curio tell you “The Dumbest Things About Gotham.”

What are the dumbest things that have ever happened on Fox’s Gotham show? Welcome to the party. The pain party.

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

Wandering Through the Public Domain #3

A regular exploration of public domain genre works available through Project Gutenberg, Internet Archive, and Librivox.

By Colleen McMahon: Fans of the public domain have been looking forward to 2019 for a very long time — 20 years to be exact! This is because on January 1, 2019, new works will enter the public domain in the United States for the first time since 1998. In this edition of “Wandering Through the Public Domain,” I want to take a brief look at how the “public domain freeze” happened.

In 1998, the Copyright Term Extension Act (CTEA) was passed by Congress. For copyrights owned by an individual, the term was extended to life of the creator plus 70 years. For copyrights owned by corporations, the term was extended to 95 years from publication or first use.

The previous update to copyright law in 1976 had done away with the need to renew copyrights for 28-year terms. The 1976 law set the term for individual copyright at life plus 50 years, or 75 years for corporate copyrights, and the implications of this latter term is what set the stage for the 1998 changes.

Under the 1976 law, Disney faced the possibility of Mickey Mouse moving into the public domain in 2003, 75 years after the release of the first Mickey Mouse cartoon, “Steamboat Willie.” Beginning in the early 1990s, Disney heavily lobbied Congress to lengthen the copyright term, joined by other large corporations like Time Warner.

Republican Congressman Sonny Bono was a vocal supporter and sponsor of copyright extension legislation in the 1990s, and his unfortunate death in a ski accident in early 1998 created additional momentum for passage of the new law. Mary Bono, the late Congressman’s widow, was appointed to finish Sonny’s term and took up the copyright cause. The CTEA was renamed “TheSonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act” and passage of the law was promoted as a way to memorialize a popular Congressman and celebrity. The law was passed by both houses of Congress and was signed into law by President Clinton in October 1998.

Up until the law was passed, works had been passing into the public domain each January as the 75-year mark was reached. Under the 75-year term, works copyrighted in 1923 would have moved into the public domain on January 1, 1999, but the 20-year extension meant that the new expiration date for 1923 works moved to 2019. The public domain limit that has been frozen at 1922 for two decades will at last begin moving again in just a few weeks.

I’ve been looking at 1923 publications and have not found much in the F/SF realm as yet. The one exception so far is H.G. Wells’ Men Like Gods, a “scientific fantasy” about a utopian society in a parallel universe. There is more to come just over the horizon, as the earliest science fiction magazines began publishing in the late1920s.

In the meantime, we can still enjoy the many pre-1923 works as well as later ones where the copyright was not renewed while we look forward to a new burst of public domain access each January — at least until Congress decides to change the laws again. Mickey Mouse is back on the expiration schedule for 2023, so Disney is probably revving up their lobbying efforts even as I write this….

On to this week’s finds:

Lester Del Rey (1915-1993) is best remembered these days as an editor, particularly of the publishing imprint that still bears his name, but he was also a prolific author of science fiction in earlier years. Project Gutenberg has three Lester Del Rey novels, all of which have also been recorded through Librivox:

I’m not sure this is really science fiction, but Atom Mystery by Charles Coombs (1914-1994) is a fun kid/YA book with a trope you don’t see anymore — finding a uranium mine as a ticket to riches!

Recent Librivox releases:

The Note-Books of Samuel Butler by Samuel Butler (1851-1928) and Henry Festing Jones (1835-1902)

A collection of unpublished writings of Samuel Butler, edited after his death by Henry Festing Jones. Musings on writing, art, and philosophy, including thoughts about Erewhon and Erewhon Revisited, which are often categorized as early F/SF.

[Full disclosure: I worked on this project, recording two of the chapters!]

Mowgli: All of the Mowgli Stories from the Jungle Books by Rudyard Kipling (1868-1936)

In the Jungle Books, Kipling tells 9 wonderful and exciting tales about Mowgli, the human baby raised by a pack of wolves in the jungles of India. His exploits and adventures are many and varied especially his dealing with the other animals such as his wolf mother and father and brother wolves, Baloo the wise bear who teaches him the Law of the Jungle, and in his life long battle with Shere-Kahn, the lame human-killing tiger. This edition collects all the Mowgli stories from both Jungle Book volumes and places them in chronological order.

The Castle of the Carpathians by Jules Verne (1828-1905)

The Castle stood above the quiet little town for as long as folks remembered: barren, deserted, lonely and frightening to the townsfolk. Until one day, smoke began to ascend from the dunjon. They were warned not to go near, and when intrepid souls dared to venture to uncover the mystery of the ruined castle, they learned firsthand what supernatural terrors await inside The Castle of the Carpathians.

Short Science Fiction Collection 059 by Various

20 short science fiction stories by various authors. This volume includes stories by Lester Del Rey, H.Beam Piper, Robert Silverberg, Miriam Allen DeFord, Philip K.Dick, and others. 

Shortlist Announced for Libertarian Futurist Society’s 2016 Hall of Fame Award

The Libertarian Futurist Society has selected five finalists for the 2016 Hall of Fame Award, given in recognition of a classic work of science fiction or fantasy with libertarian themes.

The descriptions of the works and their themes come from the Society’s press release.

  • Manna, by Lee Correy (published 1984)

A novel about the economic development of space in the twenty-first century, and about competing economic philosophies that shape it. One of its most interesting aspects is the setting: the United Mitanni Commonwealth, an imaginary small East African country founded on a distinctive vision of personal freedom of choice. Correy’s hero, a former American aerospace officer, is drawn into the Mitanni struggle both for a vision of the future and for simple survival, while discovering the customs of his new homeland.

  • Courtship Rite, by Donald M. Kingsbury (published 1982)

A novel set on a planet in a remote solar system, where human colonists struggle with a harsh environment. The author, a mathematician, explores the mathematical concept of optimization in biological evolution, in political institutions, in culture, and in personal ethics—through linked dramatic struggles over political ambition and the creation of a family.

  • “As Easy as A.B.C.,” by Rudyard Kipling (published 1912)

One of Kipling’s two “airship utopia” stories, set in the year 2065—but the utopia is an ambiguous one. Striking for its vision of a future that looks back in horror at the lynchings and racism of Kipling’s own time. Compact and evocatively written.

  • The Island Worlds, by Eric Kotani and John Maddox Roberts (published 1987)

A novel of asteroidal rebellion against a corrupt and oligopolistic Earth. Unusual in its portrayal of an internally divided liberation movement with conflicting ethical and strategic beliefs.

  • A Mirror for Observers, by Edgar Pangborn (published 1954)

A novel of conflicting factions of Martian refugees working in secret to influence humanity toward enlightenment and self-destruction. Notable for its vision of a future United States with two entirely new leading political parties—a constitutionalist party and a fascistic Organic Unity Party—and of its reaction to an engineered plague. Pangborn offers no radical solutions; he focuses on personal ethics, and he shows reasons for despair and then turns back to hope.

Fourteen nominees were considered for the award. Those not making the shortlist were: Firesign Theater’s “I Think We’re All Bozos on This Bus,” James P. Hogan’s The Mirror Maze, Murray Leinster’s “Exploration Team,” C.S. Lewis’s That Hideous Strength, O.T. Nelson’s The Girl Who Owned a City, Rush’s 2112, Robert Silverberg’s A Time of Changes, T.H. White’s The Book of Merlyn, and F. Paul Wilson’s Hosts.

Hall of Fame candidates are nominated by the members of the Libertarian Futurist Society. Any work first published more than five years ago is eligible. The finalists have been selected by a committee of judges. The winners will be determined by a vote of all members.

Last Year’s Hall of Fame Winner: Harlan Ellison recorded a short video accepting the 2015 LFS Hall of Fame award for “‘Repent, Harlequin!’ Said the Ticktockman.”