Pixel Scroll 1/18/21 Big Pixel In Little Scroll

(1) COPYRIGHT ALTERNATIVE IN SMALL CLAIMS ENFORCEMENT ACT. Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA) sounds unenthusiastic about the new CASE Act which will apply to copyright infringement claims of up to $30,000 and operate outside of the federal court system: “Legal Affairs Committee Alert: CASE Act on Copyright Small Claims Becomes Law” at the SFWA Blog.

…The Copyright Office will set up the tribunal and determine many details governing its use that were not made explicit in the bill. The bill’s passage is good news in general for creators, but it is not a panacea for pursuing copyright infringement claims. Indeed, for most SFWA members, it will likely be of little use, no matter what procedures the Office establishes. That’s because the copyright infringer must voluntarily participate in the process after being notified of the claim. If the infringer is anonymous or difficult to trace, it may be impossible to serve notice of the claim at all. It also only applies to infringers located in the USA, which means it can’t be used to counteract the vast number of overseas pirating websites.

The tribunal will primarily be used in cases in which the rights holder and the infringer both see the benefit of a relatively low-cost method of resolving their dispute. In some cases, a credible threat of escalating the case to federal court may persuade the infringer to participate in the lower cost tribunal. However, it will still not be cheap. Aside from the fee for initiating a claim, whose amount has yet to be set, consulting with a lawyer to present a compelling case will still be necessary, or at least highly advisable. Several groups are looking at arranging lower cost or pro bono legal advice for these cases, and the law does include an option for law students and student legal clinics to act as representatives.

(2) MORE THAN ELIGIBLE. Nerds of a Feather canvassed its contributors and came up with a high-powered list of sff works and series that should be considered for the Hugo: “2021 Nerds of a Feather Hugo Awards Recommended Reading, Part 1: Fiction Categories”.

…The rules for inclusion were simple–just: (a) meet the eligibility criteria; and (b) be “award worthy” (i.e. good). Given the subjectivity of the latter, it should come as no surprise that the selections on our longlist reflect the spectrum of tastes, tendencies and predilections found among our group of writers. You’ll find selections ranging from the obscure and literary to the unabashedly popular and commercial, and from all corners and subdivisions of the genresphere.

That said, this is not – nor does it intend to be – a comprehensive survey of the field. Some books that are undoubtedly “award worthy,” for example, are absent for the simple reason that we haven’t read them yet. Thus we encourage you to think of this as a list of candidates to consider–alongside others…. 

(3) MACPHEE ESTATE SALE CONTINUES. Doug Ellis has put out Spike MacPhee Catalog #5 – SF & Fantasy Art, Books, Magazines & Ephemera Sale, with over 600 items for sale. It’s part of the Spike MacPhee estate sale of original art, books and other material.

From 1977 to 1989, the Science Fantasy Bookstore operated in Harvard Square in Cambridge. Deb and I hung out there when we were in law school and became friends with the owner, Spike MacPhee. Spike was a member of NESFA and also founded the small press, Paratime Press, which published several checklists in the 1970’s. He was also GoH at the first Arisia convention in 1990.

Besides reading SF, Spike was a devoted science art collector. From the late 1960’s into the 1990’s, Spike attended several SF conventions – among them Boskone, Lunacon, Nycon III, Noreascon, Discon, Torcon and Disclave – where he would often buy art at the art show auction. He also became friends with many SF artists of the 1970’s and bought art directly from them as well. Spike remained a passionate fan until he passed away on November 13, 2019.

The PDF catalog with roughly 250 images can be found at this link until January 24. (41 MB file, 114 pages.)

On Facebook, Ellis has posted an image from the catalog with an interesting history:

Among the art that will be that catalog is this piece, done by artist Rick Sternbach in 1974. It was drawn by him on the outside (left side) and inside (right side) of a pizza box, which apparently had contained a pepperoni-hamburger pizza from Franco Pizza House in Cambridge, MA. As related in the Minicon 15 program book from 1979, where Sternbach was Artist Guest of Honor, comes this: “Yessir, Rick, he surely loved to…do pizza box cover artwork. Spike MacPhee, one of the people living at Terminus (the center of a lot of this activity, and Rick’s hang-out, when he was in town), thought a lot of Rick’s work…and he thought that it was his duty to save all those pizza-box covers…”

Definitely a unique piece of art! The pizza box is now in two pieces, as shown in the scan. Pizza not included.

(4) N3F SHORT STORY CONTEST WINNERS. The National Fantasy Fan Federation (N3F) Short Story Contest Judge Jefferson Swycaffer announced the winners in the January issue of TNFF.

  • First Prize: The Azazel Tree, by Chris Owens, a tale of morality, of absolute good and absolute evil, and one hero who strives to uphold the good, despite the awful cost.
  • Second Prize: The Eternal Secret, by John Yarrow, Heroic Fantasy in the classical mold, a tale that might have been told of Odysseus or Jason, fighting monsters and solving riddles.
  • Third Prize: If Music Be The Fruit of Love, by Jack Mulcahy, a tale of music and love, and how a crisis calls upon us to rise to the level of heroism.
  • Honorable Mention: The Haunting of the Jabberwocky, by Charles Douglas, a truly Carrollian story of wordplay and madness, and how a hero, unarmed, has the greatest weapon of all.

There were twenty-one entries, science fiction and fantasy, mostly from the United States, four from Great Britain.

(5) BE THE FIRST ON YOUR BLOCK. [Item by Danny Sichel.] The Science Museum (UK) has combined their digitized collection with their API and their log of pages that have 0 views to create a web tool that will show each visitor a picture of an image that has never been looked at before. You can be the first person to see an object. “Never Been Seen”.

(I saw a page from a 1780 surgical manual and a seton needle and some 19th-century ebony-and-steel forceps)

(6) GERMANY’S OLDEST BOOKSELLER DIES. [Item by Darrah Chavey.] Of possible interest to File770 readers, since we tend to be bookstore fans. The H. Weyhe Bookstore, founded in 1840, is one of the oldest bookstores in Germany, founded before Germany was a country. It was purchased by Helga Weyhe’s grandfather in 1871, and has been in the family since then. Helga Weyhe worked at, and then ran, the bookstore since 1944. She passed away at the end of December or early Jan. at the age of 98. The New York Times has her story here.

(7) HERNANDEZ OBIT. Lail Montgomery Finlay Hernandez, a GoH of the 2014 World Fantasy Con and the daughter of pulp artist Virgil Finlay, died on January 13 from cancer at the age of 71.

She contributed remembrances to Virgil Finlay Remembered: The Seventh Book Of Virgil Finlay (1981) and Virgil Finlay’s Women Of Ages (1982) (see her foreword here: “Lail Finlay Remembers Her Father”) and was closely involved with the publication of The Collectors’ Book Of Virgil Finlay (2019). 

After her house burned down in November 2019 (killing her musician husband), a GoFundMe appeal was launched to help her and her daughter save what they could of her father’s art and papers. (See Pixel Scroll 11/29/19 The Scrolls of Our Teeth item #5.)

(8) LIGHTLE OBIT. Comics artist Steve Lightle died January 8. Yahoo! News has his profile:

As the artist for the popular comic “Legion of Super-Heroes” in the early 1980s, Steve Lightle made a living dreaming up the future, but his own was cut short by Covid-19.

Lightle, 61, died from cardiac arrest in a Kansas City, Missouri, hospital on Jan. 8, just three days after coming down with what he thought was a head cold and just hours after he was rushed to the hospital.

… Best known for his runs on “Legion” and “Doom Patrol” for DC and “Classic X-Men” covers for Marvel, Lightle became a fixture at conventions, never too busy to mentor the next generation. He came across as larger than life and drew visuals that were just as grand.

(9) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

  • January 18, 1952 –On this day in 1952, Tales of Tomorrow’s Frankenstein first aired on ABC. It would be the sixteenth episode of the first season of the series. It was directed by Don Medford. The episode starred Lon Chaney, Jr. in the role of Frankenstein’s monster and John Newland in the role of Victor Frankenstein. Lon Chaney, Jr. is credited here as Lon Chaney as he was in all his later work. He’s no stranger to playing The Monster as he played the role of The Monster in the Universal Pictures Ghost of Frankenstein a decade earlier. You can watch it here. (CE)

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]

  • Born January 18, 1882 – A.A. Milne.  Talented cricketer; among his teammates Barrie, Conan Doyle (whose surname is really Doyle, not Conan Doyle, but never mind that for now), Wodehouse. Twoscore plays, six novels, poems, nonfiction, besides Winnie the Pooh (two books of stories, and usually including two of poetry although the Pooh characters aren’t in them), which nevertheless remains great fantasy, seems timeless, and shows we can fantasize princes or piglets.  (Died 1956) [JH]
  • January 18, 1920 Constance Moore. She gets Birthday Honors for being in the 1939 movie serial Buck Rogers in which she was Wilma Deering, the only female character in the serial.  Were there ever other female main cast characters in Buck Rogers? (Died 2005.) (CE) 
  • January 18, 1933 John Boorman, 87. Director who’s responsible for one of the best SFF films ever done, Excalibur with Sean Connery, and one of the worst with that also starred Sean Connery, Zardoz. (He wrote the novel for that one as well.)  He also directed the rather nifty Emerald Forest which Holdstock did a far better than merely good job of novelizing.(CE)
  • Born January 18, 1934 – Hank Reinhardt.  Author, editor, armorer, leading U.S. Southern fan.  Co-founded the first Atlanta and Birmingham SF clubs.  Fan Guest of Honor at DeepSouthCon 19, StellarCon 17, Archon 29.  Rebel Award andRubble Award; Georgia Fandom Award, later named for him.  Two short stories, one anthology, posthumous Book of Swords and Book of Knives.  After his first wife died, married fan and pro Toni Weisskopf.  (Died 2007) [JH]
  • Born January 18, 1935 – Eddie Jones.  Fanartist who developed a spectacular pro career.  TAFF delegate. Fan Guest of Honor at St. Louiscon the 27th Worldcon; Official Artist at Boskone 11, Guest of Honor at Mythcon 1982.  Did the Knight of Pentacles for Bruce Pelz’ Fantasy Showcase Tarot Deck (see here; images and BP’s introduction here, scroll down for Pentacles, they come after Cups).  Eight hundred fifty covers, a hundred interiors.  Here is Vector 37.  Here is the Heicon ’70 Program Book (28th Worldcon).  Here is A Gift from Earth.  Here is City.  Here is R is for Rocket.  (Died 1999) [JH]
  • Born January 18, 1936 – Rhoda Lerman.  Two novels for us, four others, nonfiction, television, films.  One-woman play about Eleanor Roosevelt.  Cultural delegate on first U.S. delegation to Tibet.  Bred champion Newfoundlands.  NY Times appreciation (5 Sep 15) said “her imagination was eccentric … her books didn’t resemble one another.”  (Died 2015) [JH]
  • January 18, 1937 Dick Durock. He was best known for playing Swamp Thing in Swamp Thing and The Return of Swamp Thing and the following television series which ran for three seasons. His only other genre appearances were in The Nude Bomb (also known as The Return of Maxwell Smart) and “The First” of The Incredible Hulk. He shows up in Die Hard with a Vengeance in a subway scene. No, it’s not genre, I just like that film. (Died 2009.) (CE) 
  • Born January 18, 1942 – Franz Rottensteiner, Ph.D., age 79.  Publisher, editor, translator, critic.  Edited Quarber Merkur (SF journal named for the Quarb Ravine in Austria; Merkur = Mercury) since 1998.  Kurd Laßwitz Prize.  Translated into German e.g. Abe, Dick, Lem, Cordwainer Smith, the Strugatsky brothers.  Fifty anthologies, e.g. in English Views from Another ShoreThe Best of Austrian SF.  Ninety biographies e.g. Franke, Hodgson, Le Guin, Malory, Robbe-Grillet, for Das Bibliographisches Lexikon der utopisch-phantastischen Literatur.  Published eighteen volumes of Wells.  [JH]
  • January 18, 1953 — Pamela Dean Dyer-Bennet, 68. Her best novel is I think Tam Lin though one could make an argument for Juniper, Gentian, and Rosemary which Windling claims is her favorite fantasy novel. Her Secret Country trilogy is also a great deal of fun to read. Much of her short stories are set in the Liavek shared universe created by Emma Bull and Will Shetterly. All of the Liavek anthologies  are now available on all major digital platforms. According to the files sitting in my Dropbox folder, there’s eight volumes to the series. They’re wonderful reading. End of plug. (CE)
  • January 18, 1960 Mark Rylance, 61. He was in Prospero’s Books, an adaption of The Tempest which I really want to see, The BFG and Ready Player One are the films he’s been in. He’s an active thespian  as well with plays of interest to us that’s he’s been being A Midsummer Night’s Dream at  Royal Opera House, Hamlet at American Repertory Theater and Macbeth at Greenwich Theatre to show but a few of his appearances. (CE) 
  • January 18, 1964 Jane Horrocks, 57. Her first SFF genre role was Pattern in The Wolves of Willoughby Chase, scripted off the Joan Aiken novel. A year later, she showed up in The Witches, scripted off the Raoul Dahl novel playing Miss Susan Irvine. She voices Black Widow / Mrs. Plum in Tim Burton’s The Corpse Bride, and voiced Hannah in the late Ninties Watership Down. (CE)
  • Born January 18, 1984 – C.J. Redwine, age 37.  Seven novels, one shorter story for us; The Shadow Queen NY Times Best-Seller.  “If the villain isn’t worthy of my heroes, then the story no longer matters.”  Has read The Wizard of OzHamlet, a Complete Stories & Poems of Poe (read his essays too, folks), Anne of Green Gables, “The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde”, Gone with the Wind, To Kill a Mockingbird.  [JH]

(11) COMICS SECTION.

  • Blondie has a take on ice cream that I hope is a fantasy.

(12) THE BREW THAT IS TRUE. Or maybe — Eats, Shoots, and Leaves? The Republic of Tea has some specials on offer: “Star Wars: The Mandalorian Teas”.

The Mandalorian and the Child continue their journey, facing enemies and rallying allies as they make their way through a dangerous galaxy in the tumultuous era after the collapse of the Galactic Empire. Sip our exotic, Limited Edition teas on adventures throughout your own galaxy. New Season Now Streaming on Disney+

(13) FIERY METAPHOR. Joseph Loconte considers “J.R.R. Tolkien’s Dragons: Exploration of Good & Evil” at National Review.

For its 1937–38 “Christmas Lectures for Children,” the Natural History Society of Oxfordshire announced forthcoming talks on coral reefs, birds, whales, horses — and dragons. The latter topic was taken up by J.R.R. Tolkien, a professor of English literature who had just published The Hobbit, an immensely popular book involving a dragon. Tolkien’s lecture, before an audience packed with children of all ages, tackled a decidedly adult subject: the problem of evil in the world and the heroism required to combat it.

Tolkien began, disarmingly, with a slide show of prehistoric reptiles, including a Pteranodon in flight, to remind his listeners that “science also fills this past with dreadful monsters — many of the largest and most horrible being of a distinctly lizard-like or dragonish kind.” These ancient creatures, he said, embodied legendary qualities found in dragon mythology. The dragons with whom he had an acquaintance “loved to possess beautiful things.” Greed and hatred motivated them. “And how can you withstand a dragon’s flame, and his venom, and his terrible will and malice, and his great strength?”

It probably was not lost on the children present that Tolkien’s mythical dragons sounded a lot like the people who inhabited the real world. The adults might have discerned a more ominous message. Tolkien delivered his lecture on January 1, 1938. Nearly a year earlier, on January 30, 1937, Adolf Hitler had officially withdrawn Germany from the Treaty of Versailles and demanded that its colonies be returned….

(14) DATA FIGURINE. EXO-6 has created a scale model of Lieutenant Commander Data. Twelve inches tall, $189.95. But do I want that face staring at me from across the room?

EXO-6 is proud to present their first 1:6 scale articulated figure from Star Trek™: First Contact – Lt. Commander Data.

When introduced in Star Trek: The Next Generation, Data was a one-of-a-kind cybernetic organism, an artificial being that wanted nothing more than be just like the imperfect humans he served with aboard the Enterprise. In the film First Contact the Borg Queen gives him an opportunity to be more human than he ever thought possible, yet he rejects that hope in the service of loyalty to his friends and the rest of humanity.

Data is one of the most popular characters in Star Trek, and no other character better expresses the wonder of discovery that is the heart of Star Trek than this android with a soul. The EXO-6 1:6 scale figure of Data will not only embody the hopefulness of the character, but also bring an element of Brent Spiner’s performance into collector’s homes.

(15) GOT TO HAND IT TO THEM. Tadiana Jones and Marion Deeds both weigh in about Garth Nix novel at Fantasy Literature: “The Left-Handed Booksellers of London: Selling books and fighting evil”. Jones’ comments include —

…Nix was inspired to write The Left-Handed Booksellers of London (as he related in his acknowledgements at the end) by a fortuitous comment from a left-handed bookseller in Leith. He pulls on his memories from his first trip to the United Kingdom in 1983 (among other things, he hiked the Old Man of Coniston, a famous mountain in the Lake District) and his past experience working as a bookseller. It was both amusing and engaging as I realized just how many actual British landmarks he has woven into the plot of this novel. And also uniquely British foods — Branston pickle sandwiches were a revelation, and I don’t think I’ll soon recover from checking out pictures of stargazy pie.

(16) BATWOMAN. Did football overshadow the Batlight? “Javicia Leslie’s ‘Batwoman’ Debut Plummets 80% in Ratings From Ruby Rose’s” reports Yahoo!

Javicia Leslie debuted as the new caped crusader on The CW’s “Batwoman” last night, but her start didn’t shine nearly as bright (a Bat signal) as Ruby Rose’s. Sunday primetime was dominated by Fox’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. New Orleans Saints NFL Divisional Playoffs game, which ended just shy of 10 p.m. on the east coast. Due to the nature of live sports, the below Nielsen numbers for Fox should be considered subject to adjustment. Final numbers are expected later today. The new-look “Batwoman” managed just a 0.1 rating last night in the key demo and 663,000 total viewers. Back on Sunday, Oct. 6, 2019, Rose’s “Batwoman” debuted to a 0.5 rating and 1.8 million viewers — meaning last night’s Season 2 premiere was down 80% in the demo from the series debut. 

(17) VIDEO OF THE DAY. In “Star Trek Beyond Pitch Meeting” on ScreenRant, Ryan George says the producers of the third Star Trek Kelvin movie forgot the super blood and Carol Marcus from the second Star Trek Kelvin movie but thought that Starfleet would place a state of the art starbase right next door to an unexplored area teeming with bad guys.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Daniel Dern, John Hertz, JJ, Mike Kennedy, Cat Eldridge, Doug Ellis, Martin Morse Wooster, Andrew Porter, and Michael Toman for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Danny Sichel.]

Pixel Scroll 1/11/21 The
Muppet Pastors

(1) LIGHTS OUT AT PARLER. When Twitter banned President Trump and purged thousands of QAnon-linked accounts that fell under the company’s “coordinated harmful activity” ban (due to concerns about online incitement leading to violence), Parler was one of the alternative social media sites expecting to offer a new home to the traffic — until its tech host, Amazon, pulled the plug: “Parler sues Amazon after pro-Trump site goes dark” in the Washington Post.

Parler filed a lawsuit against Amazon Web Services on Monday, just hours after the social media network was taken offline when Amazon pulled support.

Parler filed the suit against Amazon on Monday in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington. The company alleges in the suit that Amazon breached its contract by not giving it 30 days’ notice before dropping service. Parler also argued that Amazon was being hypocritical by not taking similar action against Twitter, where violent posts can also appear.Big Tech abandoned the social media site, known for allowing unfettered speech on its platform, over the weekend after expressing concern that the site was not properly moderating posts that could incite violence. Google and Apple removed Parler from its app stores, while Amazon — which was hosting the site on its cloud — decided to stop working with it, effectively removing it from the Internet.

…Even after Apple warned Parler that it needed to implement a more thorough content moderation plan or be kicked off the App Store, the social media network spurned the idea.

(2) HOYT. Sarah Hoyt, in “…Book Promo And Some Blather By Sarah” [Internet Archive link], urged people not to make her Amazon sales collateral damage in their reaction to its treatment of Parler.

A lot of you are furious at Amazon for joining the unconscionable censorship of Parler, which btw is still relatively small and all innocuous, other than, you know, allowing Trump a platform (Because as invaders, the left can’t let the president of the US address the nation, of course.) Look, so am I. I’m even more furious because I have no way out of the trap.

Yes, a lot of you — yes, I’m looking at you — have raged at Amazon for years and told us it would come for us and that we should get out now. This was not only misguided (I’ll explain why) but also it’s kind of the equivalent of poking a chained prisoner and saying “run.” He really wants to, but all you’re actually doing is torturing and wounding him.

However, since last night, this has TRULY become an emergency, not because of what Amazon will do or won’t do to ebook fiction (more on that) but because a core of my readers will now refuse to buy from Amazon under any circumstances, which means that I’m going to lose a lot of my income (and Amazon won’t give a flying fig. But I get your outrage, I understand, and yet you’ll only hurt the writers, UNTIL WE HAVE AN ALTERNATIVE.)

(3) CORREIA. Larry Correia’s post “Bow Before Appgooglezon” [Internet Archive link] at Monster Hunter Nation mentions neither Parler nor Amazon, but everyone in comments knows what’s being discussed, and they do name them.

(4) PUNDITRY. Camestros Felapton finds the two prior authors a source of inspiration for his own commentary. Quoted here are the final lines of a pair of his latest posts.

…So there you go, not one red cent apart from any red cents where a proportion of the red cent might go to Sarah Hoyt.

…It is a bit late in the day for Larry to discover that Elizabeth Warren had a point but it is noticeable that the step big tech took that tipped Larry over the edge was them clamping down on speech aimed at inciting violence to over throw an election.

(5) SCALZI. John Scalzi has written several posts on recent developments, beginning with “Thoughts on Coups and Sedition, 1/8/21”. (His comment on Trump’s Twitter ban is comparatively laconic: “Huh”.)  

Fine. First question: Was what happened on Wednesday an actual coup attempt?

What makes you think that it wasn’t?

I don’t know, I guess maybe I thought a real coup wouldn’t include a guy who looked like a Jamiroquai cosplayer at a Nazi bar karaoke night.

Just because it was a stupid coup attempt doesn’t mean it wasn’t a real coup attempt. Trump plumped for the thing to happen in his nodding and winking way on Twitter, and he incited it and encouraged it in person. The attendees came expecting to take part in one, and had planned their strategy, such as it was, on Parler and other not-exactly-savory portions of the internet. They brought weapons and zip ties. They went looking for congresspeople. They weren’t just there to hang out on the mall, wave their Trump flags, get a churro and go home. They meant business. Fortunately like all Trump business, it went belly up in record time. But that’s neither here nor there for the intent….

(6) JEMISIN. N.K. Jemisin identifies some historical myopia in Arnold Schwarzenegger’s video (linked in yesterday’s Scroll) but adds “I’m mostly fine with Arnold’s message, BTW.”

(7) WATCHING BB. Buckaroo Banzai is the theme of the World Watch One Newsletter for January 10 [PDF file] which contains Steven H Silver’s “The Buckaroo Barrier” (pp. 15-16) where he explains, “I’ve been a fan of the film Buckaroo Banzai ever since I saw it in the theatres. A few years ago, I realized that for a lot of people, the first viewing of the film left them confused and disliking the film. I discuss why a second viewing may be necessary to appreciate it.”

(8) FIVE YEARS. Wil Wheaton shared his sobriety anniversary on Facebook His testimony begins:

Yesterday, I marked the fifth anniversary of my decision to quit drinking alcohol. It was the most consequential choice I have ever made in my life, and I am able to stand before you today only because I made it.

I was slowly and steadily killing myself with booze. I was getting drunk every night, because I couldn’t face the incredible pain and PTSD I had from my childhood, at the hands of my abusive father and manipulative mother.

It was unsustainable, and I knew it was unsustainable, but when you’re an addict, knowing something is unhealthy and choosing to do something about it are two very different things….

(9) SELF-PROPELLED TBR. Most have to go to the mountain, but his Mount TBR came to him, and James Davis Nicoll can even tell you the names of “Five of the Best Books I Never Meant to Read”.

While but a callow youth, I subscribed to the Science Fiction Book Club. The club, wise in the ways of procrastination, would send each month’s selection of books to subscribers UNLESS the subscribers had sent the club a card informing the SFBC that one did not want the books in question. All too often I planned to send the card off, only to realize (once again), when a box of books arrived, that intent is not at all the same thing as action.

Thus, I received books that I would not have chosen but, once in possession, I read and enjoyed them. All praise to the SFBC and the power of procrastination! Here are five of my favorite unintended reading experiences…

(10) MEDIA ANNIVERSARY.

1991 — The Nebula Award for Best Novel went to Ursula K. Le Guin’s Tehanu: The Last Book of Earthsea, the fourth novel of the Earthsea sequence. It published by Atheneum in 1990. It had been twenty years since the last Earthsea novel was published. It would be not the last novel as The Other Wind would follow twenty years later.  It would also win the Locus Award for Best Fantasy Novel.

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]

  • Born January 11, 1886 – Samuel Cahan.  Frequent Argosy interiors for us, e.g. Pirates of Venus and The Synthetic Men of Mars (Burroughs), “The Earth-Shaker” (Leinster).  Outside our field e.g. this fine drawing of Woodrow Wilson.  (Died 1974) [JH]
  • Born January 11, 1906 – John Myers Myers.  A score of books, including historical fiction, nonfiction, poetry; for us marvelously Silverlock – get the NESFA Press edition with songs, a Reader’s Guide, commentary; as the folklorist George Melikis said about something else, “I love studying Macedonia because everybody lives there.”  (Died 1988) [JH]
  • Born January 11, 1923 Jerome Bixby. His “It’s a Good Life” story became the basis for an episode of the original Twilight Zone episode under the same name and which was included in Twilight Zone: The Movie. He also wrote four episodes for the original Star Trek series: “Mirror, Mirror”, “Day of the Dove”, “Requiem for Methuselah”, and “By Any Other Name”. With Otto Klement, he co-wrote the story upon which the Fantastic Voyage series and the Isaac Asimov novel were based. Bixby’s final produced or published work so far was the screenplay for The Man from Earth film. (Died 1998.) (CE) 
  • Born January 11, 1928 – Virgil Burnett.  Author, illustrator, sculptor, Professor of Fine Arts at Univ. Waterloo (Ontario, Canada).  A dozen short stories collected in Towers at the Edge of a World.  Here is a cover for The War of the Worlds.  Here is his frontispiece for Jurgen.  HereThe Rubâ‘îyat [pl. of rubâ‘î , a kind of quatrain] of Omar Khayyam.  Here is his cover for Sir Gawain and the Green Knight.  Here is Alexander the Great.  See this note on a 2013 exhibit by his daughter at Haverford College.  (Died 2012) [JH]
  • Born January 11, 1930 Rod Taylor. First SFF role would be as Israel Hands in Long John Silver. He would follow that up with World Without End (which you probably heard of), the Hugo nominated The Time MachineColossus and the Amazon Queen (Taylor claims to have rewritten the script though there’s no proof of this), The Birds (I really don’t like it), Gulliver’s Travels, One Hundred and One Dalmatians and last, and certainly least, The Warlord: Battle for the Galaxy. (Died 2015.) (CE)
  • Born January 11, 1931 – Mary Rodgers.  Her Freaky Friday and three sequels are ours; I’m unsure about her musical Once Upon a Mattress – is “The Princess and the Pea” fantasy?  She did music and lyrics for Davy Jones’ Locker with the Bill Baird marionettes, also music for a Pinocchio with them.  Daughter of Richard Rodgers.  (Died 2014) [JH]
  • Born January 11, 1937 Felix Silla, 84. He played Cousin Itt (sic) on The Addams Family in a role invented for the show. The voice was not done by him but rather provided by sound engineer Tony Magro in post-production. He was also responsible for the physical performance of Twiki on Buck Rogers in the 25th Century though the voice was supplied by Mel Blanc or Bob Elyea. And he played an unnamed Ewok on Return of the Jedi. (CE)
  • Born January 11, 1961 Jasper Fforde, 60. I read and thoroughly enjoyed every one of his Thursday Next novels with their delightfully twisted word play as I did his Nursery Crimes series. I thought last year when I wrote Birthday note up that I had not read his Shades of Grey books and I was right — I now know that I read the first few chapters of the first one and wasn’t impressed enough to finish it. I do know I’ve not read the Dragonslayer series though I’ve heard Good Things about them. (CE) 
  • Born January 11, 1963 Jason Connery, 58. Son of Sir Sean Connery. He’s best known for appearing in the third series of Robin of Sherwood, a series I loved dearly, including the music done by Clannad which I’ve got live boots of. He also played Jondar in the Vengeance on Varosstory on Doctor Who during the Sixth Doctor era (much least favorite Doctors). He was Ian Fleming in Spymaker: The Secret Life of Ian Fleming. And he was a young Merlin in Merlin: The Quest Begins. (CE)
  • Born January 11, 1972 Tom Ward, 39. He’s Captain Latimer in the Eleventh Doctor’s Christmas Special, “The Snowmen”.  He played H.G. Wells in Hallmark’s The Infinite Worlds of H. G. Wells series, and he’s Edward Goodwin in Harry Price: Ghost Hunter. His latest genre role was as Sir Robert Peel in The Frankenstein Chronicles. (CE) 
  • Born January 11, 1976 – Alethea Kontis, age 45.  A dozen novels for us, four dozen shorter stories.  NY Times and USA Today best-seller.  Keynote address at Lewis Carroll Society’s Alice150 Conference.  “Alethea means truth in Greek, but I was named after an episode from the first season of Kung Fu where Jodie Foster played a little girl named Alethea Ingram….  Our last name was originally Kontaridis, but my grandfather shortened it.”  Makes good baklava, plays bad acoustic guitar.  [JH]
  • Born January 11, 1987 – Wesley King, age 34.  A dozen novels, including two with Kobe Bryant and the possibly well-titled Incredible Space Rangers from Space.  NY Times best-seller.  Has read “Doctor Jekyll and Mr. Hyde”, The Time Machine, four Shakespeare plays, War and PeaceWhere the Wild Things Are.  Lives in Nova Scotia and on a 1967 sailboat.  [JH]

(12) COMICS SECTION.

(13) BUT ON THE EIGHTH LEG. Literary Hub podcast Otherppl with Brad Listi brings us “George Saunders on How You Know When the Talking Spider Belongs in the Story”.

…For me, my intention is I really want all my stories to speak to those moments in our lives when the scrim drops away and we’re confronted with the brutality of this life that we’re living in. And also the beauty. But I want my stories to be comforting in the sense that they won’t be full of shit if you read them at a low moment. That means that I don’t want anything in a story that doesn’t serve that purpose, or another way of saying it is I don’t want anything weird to happen until it’s going to do that kind of emotional work. So my default is there’s no weird shit allowed. I’m basically a realist at heart. But every so often you get to a place where a story is saying, “If you will just let me have the talking spider, I will be more profound.” Or often what it does is it says, “There’s a question that I have to ask here in this story, but I can’t do it without the talking spider. Would you allow it?”

(14) CLASHING SYMBOLS. Mental Floss says the public can “Help Massachusetts Choose a Possible State Dinosaur”.

Massachusetts residents have no shortage of state symbols through which to celebrate their regional devotion….

Now, Massachusetts state legislator Jack Patrick Lewis is lobbying for another one: state dinosaur. As Boston.com reports, Lewis has fostered a passion for prehistoric creatures ever since seeing The Land Before Time (1988) in his youth, and he’s hoping an official state dinosaur will help fellow Bay Staters learn about the area’s early history.

Lewis has chosen two species to consider for the designation. The Podokesaurus holyokensis is a 3-to-6-foot carnivore whose fossils were unearthed around Mount Holyoke in 1910. Mignon Talbot, the woman who made the discovery, was the first woman to ever name a newfound dinosaur. The Podokesaurus’s competition is the Anchisaurus polyzelus, a slightly larger herbivore whose bones were located in Springfield, Massachusetts, more than half a century earlier….

Twelve states and the District of Columbia already have state dinosaurs – and there’s a separate category for state fossils.

(15) DINO NEST. At the Carnegie Museum of Natural History, “Researchers Announce World’s First Dinosaur Preserved Sitting on Nest of Eggs with Fossilized Babies”.

…“This kind of discovery—in essence, fossilized behavior—is the rarest of the rare in dinosaurs,” explains Dr. Lamanna. “Though a few adult oviraptorids have been found on nests of their eggs before, no embryos have ever been found inside those eggs. In the new specimen, the babies were almost ready to hatch, which tells us beyond a doubt that this oviraptorid had tended its nest for quite a long time. This dinosaur was a caring parent that ultimately gave its life while nurturing its young.”
 
The team also conducted oxygen isotope analyses that indicate that the eggs were incubated at high, bird-like temperatures, adding further support to the hypothesis that the adult perished in the act of brooding its nest. Moreover, although all embryos were well-developed, some appear to have been more mature than others, which in turn suggests that oviraptorid eggs in the same clutch might have hatched at slightly different times. This characteristic, known as asynchronous hatching, appears to have evolved independently in oviraptorids and some modern birds.

(16) SHARING EXPERIENCE. The Odyssey Writing Workshop Blog presents “Interview: Graduate & Guest Lecturer Gregory Ashe”.

You’ve published six books in your Hazard and Somerset mysteries. Do you tend to outline your books and series ahead of time, or do you tend to figure things out as you go along? When you started the series, did you know how many books you would write and where your characters would end up?

Although I have become more and more of an outliner, there is still an element of excavation and discovery in each book I write. One challenge I’ve faced as a writer is that I tend to write long books—and if I’m not careful, they become massive. Outlining helps me control the size of the story, as well as ensuring that I hit the right beats and turns when and where I want to. The excavatory and exploratory side of storytelling tends to happen, for me, between those major plot points. I have written quite a few books without an outline at all, but that is less and less the case. The same is true for series. The Hazard and Somerset series essentially took shape as two parts: the first four books, and then the last two. I learned from that, and when I wrote ‘season two,’ Hazard and Somerset: A Union of Swords, I had a fairly comprehensive outline for the five-book series. I now tend to write all of my series this way, with an outline to guide the pacing of the series as well as the individual books.

(17) CAT SCAN. In a video at A.V. Club, “Take a model train tour through a world ruled by giant cats”.

Jonathan Lawton is a visionary artist. His work may seem humble—the West Yorkshire man builds model railways, set in blue-skied little villages, just like so many other people looking for a productive reprieve from their daily lives. But, Lawton’s work extends beyond its genre and into the realm of speculative fiction thanks to his collaborator, a cat named Mittens that towers like a benevolent god in a showcase of his creation….

(18) VIDEO OF THE DAY. In “Power Rangers Pitch Meeting” on YouTube, Ryan George explains that people who see the Power Rangers remake will not enjoy Bryan Cranston’s performance as a 65-million-year-old blue guy or that there’s no Power Rangers action until 90 minutes into the movie.

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

Pixel Scroll 1/4/21 She’s Got
A Pixel To Scroll, And She Don’t Care

(1) KGB. Fantastic Fiction at KGB virtual reading series hosts Ellen Datlow and Matthew Kressel present Lauren Beukes and Usman T. Malik on Wednesday, January 20 at 7 p.m. Eastern. Check back at their website or social media to get the link when it drops.

Lauren Beukes


Lauren Beukes is a South African novelist, ex-journalist and sometime documentary maker who has written five novels, a pop history, a short story collection and New York Times best-selling comics. Her novel Zoo City won the Arthur C Clarke Award, The Shining Girls is soon to be a tv show for Apple with Elisabeth Moss, and won the University of Johannesburg Prize and the Strands Critics Choice Award among others. Her new book Afterland, about a world (almost) without men, is currently in development. She lives in Cape Town with her daughter.

Usman T. Malik
 

Usman T. Malik is a Pakistani-American writer and doctor. His fiction has been reprinted in several year’s best anthologies, including The Best American Science Fiction & Fantasy series, and has won the Bram Stoker Award and the British Fantasy Award. Usman’s debut collection, Midnight Doorways: Fables from Pakistan, will be out in early 2021.

(2) COULD HAVE BEEN A CONTENDER. In search of prospects to nominate for the video game Hugo, Camestros Felapton explores another game he hopes will meet his criteria of “look[ing] like they might be interesting/notable from the perspective of science fiction & fantasy as a broad genre” — “Review: Spiritfarer (Nintendo Switch)”.

…However, the game I will nominate in this category isn’t Hades but a game set in a quite different afterlife: Spiritfarer. The two games couldn’t be more different and yet both borrow Charon the Ferryman and Hades as characters from Greek mythology and both use (different) genres of game play to lead you to interact with a series of characters from whom you learn about their lives (and deaths) and your own characters back story. Spiritfarer has fewer murderous, laser firing crystal things though.

The genre of gameplay is resource management and exploration. You have a ship with a small number of passengers and you sail between islands collecting resources and improving your ship. It’s all presented as 2D animation largely moving horizontally.

(3) ELDRITCH FOR MILLIONS. IGN Southeast Asia tells “How Cosmic Horror Went Mainstream”. (You didn’t know that, did you?)

…Alternately called cosmic horror or Lovecraftian horror, this brand of story is focused on unknowable and ancient terrors. While the genre’s most iconic monster, Cthulhu, slumbers in a lost underwater city, cosmic horror just as often directly lives up to its name and comes from the cold of space or is lurking in isolated areas like Antarctica. The genre has few real heroes, mostly focusing on people who are already deeply flawed or struggling before they confront these horrors. While they may be killed, the protagonists are just as likely to be rendered insane or somehow fundamentally transformed into something as equally unknowable and terrible as the unspeakable creatures they have encountered.

But how did cosmic horror seep into the mainstream of movies, TV, and games? Let’s trace that history from D&D to True Detective to Nicolas Cage and beyond…

(4) ELLISON REFERENCE. In the discussion of other things,Scientific American’s “Hellscapes” column “A Quick Look at Underpaid Female Docs, Unethical Ethicists and Frogs with Intestinal Fortitude” ends with the following:

Speaking of hell, a study in the August 3 issue of the journal Current Biology revealed that the vast majority of members of a species of beetle, Regimbartia attenuata, perform a literally death-defying feat after being swallowed by various species of frogs. The beetle apparently swims its little heart out till it pops out of the frog’s derriere. Because, as another axiom has it, “If you’re going through hell, keep going.”

To find out whether the insect’s passage was active or passive, researchers immobilized some beetles by coating them with wax before going into the mouth of hell, or rather, frog. None of these beetles survived. To paraphrase science-fiction legend Harlan Ellison (who definitely would have come up with this experimental protocol if he’d lived long enough): they really don’t want to open their mouths, and they must scream.

(5) NO FORWARDING ADDRESS. “Is anybody out there? All the intelligent aliens in our galaxy could be dead…”SYFY Wire distills a scientific article about the chances.

…The Milky Way has been around for billions of years. In that time, life has not only had had plenty of time to evolve to an advanced level and achieve heights of technology even our wildest sci-fi dreams couldn’t fathom, but also to destroy itself.

“We found [self-annihilation of complex life] to be the most influential parameter determining the quantity and age of galactic intelligent life,” the physicists said in a study recently published in Astrophysics of Galaxies.

There were three types of limitations for the existence of aliens that the team studied. They considered the possibilities of abiogenesis, how long it might have taken (or be taking) for an intelligent civilization to evolve, and chances of such a civilization crushing itself. Abiogenesis is the idea of life spawning from things that are definitely not alive. 

(6) TODAY’S THING TO WORRY ABOUT. Here’s someone who’s theorizing is not discouraged by the preceding study: “Harvard Professor Says Alien Technology Visited Earth in 2017”Yahoo! has the story.

…Loeb says there are two big details that suggest Oumuamua wasn’t just a comet, but rather a piece of alien technology. The first detail is the object’s dimensions, as it was determined to be “five to 10 times longer than it was wide.” Loeb argues the cigar-like shape isn’t typical for a natural space object.

But the theoretical physicist says the biggest detail that supports his theory is Oumuamua’s movement.

“The excess push away from the sun, that was the thing that broke the camel’s back,” he said.

Loeb explains that the sun’s gravitational force would cause a natural object to move faster as it approaches, and eventually push the object back, causing it to move slower as it moves away. Loeb points out that this didn’t occur with Oumuamua, which accelerated “slightly, but to a highly statistically significant extent” as it moved further and further away.

“If we are not alone, are we the smartest kids on the block?” Loeb asked. “If there was a species that eliminated itself through war or changing the climate, we can get our act together and behave better. Instead, we are wasting a lot of resources on Earth fighting each other and other negative things that are a big waste.”

(7) HEADLONG RETREAT. R.S. Benedict has posted a new episode of the Rite Gud podcast.”I talk to writer/artist Sloane Leong about SFF’s retreat into childhood nostalgia, and the beauty of mature fiction.” Listen here.

As the world looks grimmer and grimmer, Millennials and Gen Xers retreat deeper and deeper into childhood nostalgia. Adults dominate fandoms meant for children, like Steven Universe, Young Adult fiction, and My Little Pony. Within SFF, many writers, readers and editors have begun to treat all media as though it were meant for children: It must be didactic and escapist and safe. But there are still some of us who want art to treat us like adults.

In this episode, writer and artist Sloane Leong joins us to talk about the power of embracing your inner grownup.

(8) ROBERTS STILL ALIVE. People sent links to articles reporting the actress death, however, actress Tanya Roberts is still alive at this writing according to TMZ.

(9) JAEL OBIT. Artist Jael died November 17 reports Locus Online Jael (1937-2020). The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction says Jael did covers for Baen and DAW, as well as magazines. Jael’s work received eight Chesley Award nominations between 1995 and 2002.

(10) SHELLEY OBIT. Hammer Films star Barbara Shelley has died at the age of 88 according to The Sun: ”’Queen of Hammer’ who starred in horror films and Doctor Who dies after surviving Covid”.

She also appeared in the Doctor Who episode Planet Of Fire, starring Peter Davison as the fifth Doctor.

Her agent, Thomas Bowington, said: “She really was Hammer’s number one leading lady and the technicolour queen of Hammer.

…Shelley was also known for TV roles in series including The Saint, The Avengers, The Borgias, Blake’s 7 and Crown Court, and later played Hester Samuels in EastEnders.

Robert J. Sawyer praised Shelley’s performance in Quatermass and the Pit (1967) on Facebook in which she”played a completely professional scientist, paleontologist Barbara Judd, the female lead, in one of the best science-fiction films ever made.”He also posted a great quote from Shelly:

“I adored science fiction. When I was a very little girl my father used to have all these science fiction magazines and we used to go through them together. My mind had been opened up to science fiction by my father so when I got these scripts it wasn’t `What’s this rubbish?’ It was ‘that’s interesting.'”

(11) MEMORY LANE.

1971 — Fifty years ago,  Larry Niven’s Ringworld would win the Hugo for Best Novel at Noreascon I over Poul Anderson’s Tau Zero, Robert Silverberg’s Tower of Glass, Wilson Tucker‘s The Year of the Quiet Sun and Hal Clement’s Star Light. It would also win the Locus, Nebula and Ditmar Awards, and Locus would later include it on its list of All-Time Best SF Novels before 1990.  It would spawn three sequel novels and a prequel series as well which was co-written with Edward M. Lerner. One film and three series have been announced down the decades but none to date have been produced.

(12) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]

  • Born January 4, 1882 – P.J. Monahan.  Newspaper cartoonist, illustrator in the “pulp” days (when our and other magazines were printed on cheap pulp paper).  Thirty covers, twenty interiors.  Here is Semi Dual, the Occult Detector.  Here is Thuvia.  Here is the 26 Jun 20 All-Story Weekly – weekly!  How’d you like to be the editor of that?  To show PJM’s range, here is the 1 Sep 12 Leslie’s, and here is a portrait of Pope Pius X.  (Died 1931) [JH]
  • Born January 4, 1882 – Violet Van der Elst.  Twoscore short stories, half a dozen collections, for us.  Starting as a scullery maid, she developed cosmetics including the first brushless shaving cream – don’t say we’ve made no progress – and grew rich; fought against the death penalty, threw her money and her mind into it, lost both, barely lived to see it abolished.  (Died 1966) [JH]
  • Born January 4, 1890 Malcolm Wheeler-Nicholson. Creator of the modern comic book by publishing original material in the early Thirties instead of reprints of newspaper comic strips. Some years later, he founded Wheeler-Nicholson’s National Allied Publications which would eventually become DC Comics. (Died 1965.) (CE)
  • Born January 4, 1904 – Dale Ulrey.  Four covers, a dozen interiors.  Also a comic-strip artist, notably Apple Mary, famous during the Depression, still running today as Mary Worth.  Here is her Wizard of Oz.  Here is an interior for Jaglon and the Tiger Fairies.  (Died 1989) [JH]
  • Born January 4, 1927 Barbara Rush, 94. She won a Golden Globe Award as the most promising female newcomer for being Ellen Fields in It Came From Outer Space. She portrayed Nora Clavicle in Batman, and was found in other genre programs such as the revival version of Outer LimitsNight GalleryThe Bionic Woman and The Twilight Zone. (CE)
  • Born January 4, 1930 – Ruth Kyle.  Founding member of the Lunarians (New York club, famous in song and story).  Hard-working Secretary of NYCon II the 14th Worldcon; married its chairman Dave Kyle; his tale of their honeymoon flight to Loncon I the 15th is here.  Good cook, gracious hostess.  Part of an adventure I had with Dave, see here (bottom of three).  (Died 2011) [JH]  
  • Born January 4, 1933 – Phyllis Naylor, age 88.  A dozen novels for us; a hundred thirty all told; some 2,000 articles.  Newbery Medal.  Sequoyah Children’s Book Award.  Mark Twain Readers Award.  William Allen White Children’s Book Award.  Kerlan Award.  “What spare time?  If I’m not writing, I’m thinking about writing.”  [JH]
  • Born January 4, 1946 Ramsey Campbell, 75. My favorite novel by him is without doubt The Darkest Part of the Woods which has a quietly building horror to it. I know he’s better known for his sprawling (pun full intended) Cthulhu mythology writings but I never got into those preferring his other novels such as his Solomon Kane movie novelization which is quite superb. (CE) 
  • Born January 4, 1958 Matt Frewer, 63. His greatest role has to be as Max Headroom on the short-lived series of the same name. Amazingly I think it still stands thirty-five years later as SF well crafted. Just a taste of his later series SF appearances include playing Jim Taggart, scientist and dog catcher on Eureka, Pestilence in Supernatural, Dr. Kirschner in 12 Monkeys and Carnage in Altered Carbon.  His film genre appearance list is just as impressive but I’ll single out Supergirl,  Honey, I Shrunk the KidsThe StandMonty Python’s The Meaning of Life (oh do guess where he is in it) and lastly Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb, a series of films that I really like. (CE) 
  • Born January 4, 1960 Michael Stipe, 61. Lead singer of R.E.M. which has done a few songs that I could argue are genre adjacent such as “Losing My Religion”. But no, I’ve got him here for being involved in a delightful project called Stay Awake: Various Interpretations of Music from Vintage Disney Films. Lots of great songs given interesting new recordings. His contribution was “Little April Shower” from Bambi which he covered along with Natalie Merchant, Michael Stipe, Mark Bingham and The Roches. Fun stuff indeed! (CE)
  • Born January 4, 1981 – Sarah Crossan, age 40.  Two books for us, seven others.  Has read four each by Jane Austen and Virginia Woolf, two by George Eliot.  [JH]
  • Born January 4, 1985 Lenora Crichlow, 36. She played Cheen on “Gridlock”, a Tenth Doctor story. She also played Annie Sawyer on the BBC version of Being Human from 2009 to 2012, and she appeared as Victoria Skillane in the “White Bear” episode of Black Mirror. (CE)
  • Born January 4, 1985 – Lorenz Hideyoshi Ruwwe, age 36.  A dozen covers.  Here is Desert Stars.  Here is The Sentinel.  Here is Omni.  Here is his page at ArtStation.  [JH]

(13) THE SIGN OF THE Z. In the Washington Post, Michael Sragow notes the centennial of THE MARK OF ZORRO, the first Zorro movie.  He notes that both Batman creators Bob Kane and Bill Finger and Superman creators Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster say that Zorro’s twin identity as the masked crimefighter and the foppish Don Diego as a precursor to Batman and Bruce Wayne and Superman and Clark Kent.  In addition, Sragow sees Zorro’s secret lair as a precursor of the Batcave and Lolita Pulido’s ditching Don Diego for Zorro as Lois Lane favoring Superman over Clark Kent. “On Zorro’s 100th birthday, the father of swashbucklers and superhero movies is still relevant”

…Like Tennyson’s Sir Galahad, Zorro has the strength of 10 because his heart is pure. He’s also irreverent and mischievous. His sparkle exudes hipness: He embraces the New World’s egalitarian ethos while his enemies defend the feudal past.

Zorro lifted spirits in the 1920s. In the 2020s, his ebullience can generate ecstatic highs.

During Fairbanks’s previous run as the parody hero of contemporary action comedies like “His Picture in the Papers,” fans came to think of him as “Doug,” a tribute to his offhand elegance — like Fred Astaire’s, a triumph of talent and willpower. Doug transports this knockabout grace into “The Mark of Zorro.” With his light heart and “can-do” demeanor — qualities the world embraced as quintessentially American — Zorro soon dominated action-film iconography. Cinema would never be the same.

(14) ZOOMIN’ DOWN THE ROAD. “Movin’ Right Along With Kermit The Frog and Fozzie Bear” on YouTube has Kermit and Fozzie welcoming the new year with dreams of a road trip and showing they know how to use Zoom.

(15) THANKS, MY GOOD COUNTRYMAN. James Davis Nicoll surveys “Canadians in SF as Written by Non-Canadians” at Tor.com. (Is that allowed?)

Canada! Perhaps best known to fans of British soap operas, for whom it serves as that mysterious land to the west to which characters vanish after their purpose on the show has been served. Of course, all that is needed to learn far more about Canada than you would ever need or want to know is to get trapped in a conversation with a Canadian, uninvited exposition concerning their homeland being as natural to the average Canadian as it is any given inhabitant of a fictional utopia confronted by a woken sleeper from the pre-utopian past.

One might reasonably expect that most SF touching on Canada was written by Canadians and the Canadian-adjacent. Perhaps it is. Quite a lot of it is not. Here are five examples of Canada and Canadians in science fiction, as seen by foreign eyes.

First on the list is Bob Shaw, who’s challenging because he lived and worked in Canada for a period.

(16) HOPE HE GETS HIS MD. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] The first baby of 2021 in one Alabama town has a possibly-unique name, Anakyn Gene Strange. Yeah, they changed the spelling of the first name a bit, but wouldn’t it be lovely if the young lad went into medicine. Think of it  — Dr. Anakyn Strange. “‘The Force is Strong’ with Florence’s first baby in 2021”

Star Wars fans immediately know the reference when hearing the name Anakyn.

While it may not be spelled the same as it was in the series, Hope and Dusty Strange used the name on Florence’s first birth of 2021. Anakyn Gene Strange was born at 1:04 a.m. on January 1 at North Alabama Medical Center.

According to our news partners at the Times Daily, Anakyn was 5 pounds, 12 ounces and was 19 3/4 inches long with brown eyes and curly brown hair.

“There actually was a feeling of relief because 2020 was a horrible and challenging year,” she said. “It was the most pure way to start out the year.”…

(17) RAVENCON ANTHOLOGY KICKSTARTER. Michael D. Pederson, RavenCon 2022 chair, explains:

Being an April convention, we were forced to announce this year’s [2020] cancellation three weeks before the convention. Needless to say, after having spent 11 months buying supplies and paying fees for the con we didn’t have much (read: any) capital left after refunding the vendors. And we still needed to refund about a third of our attendees that wanted money. And now that we’ve had to cancel for 2021 as well, we’re really stuck for funds. So, we created an anthology, with story donations coming from many of our regular programming guests as well as a few of my old Nth Degree contributors. We’re using the anthology to raise funds through Kickstarter. We funded the entire project on our first day and hit our first stretch goal a week later. We’re working on a second stretch goal and expect to announce a third stretch goal later this week.

You can find the fundraiser at: CORVID-19 — Kickstarter. The stories in CORVID-19: A RavenCon Anthology are:

  • “Windows to the Soul” by Danielle Ackley-McPhail
  • “Raven’s Sacrifice” by Heather Ewings
  • “The Cruelest Team Will Win” by Mike Allen
  • “Jenny” by Debbie Manber Kupfer
  • “Daughter of the Birds” by Maya Preisler
  • “Kvetina and the Crows” by Rhys Schrock
  • “Corvus Monitus” by Cass Morris
  • “If the Moon is Real” by Samantha Bryant
  • “Life in a Moment” by James Maxey
  • “Crows’ Feet” by Diana Bastine
  • “A Warning of Crows” by Jennifer R. Povey
  • “Wet Birds” by Elizabeth Massie
  • “Heart Truth” by Jenna Hamrick
  • “Table for One” by Joan Wendland
  • “Dominion” by Margaret Karmazin
  • “The Gore-Crow” by Meryl Yourish
  • “The Song of the Raven” by Toi Thomas
  • “Fledging” by Kathryn Sullivan
  • “Feather Fall” by Kara Dennison

(18) ESCHEW SURPLUS CONSONANTS. A whole collection of tweets from people who seem qualified to join File 770’s crack proofreading staff: “People Who Don’t Know How to Spell ‘Cologne’ Are Hiralous” at Sad and Useless.

Who would have thought that “cologne” is such a complicated word to spell correctly? Or it just might be that many people really are enjoying the smell of large intestine…

(19) LONG PLAYING. And long ago. This interesting discovery is available at Archive.org – “A Child’s Introduction To Outer Space: Jim Timmens” (1959) – with songs performed by The Satellite Singers, and dramatic readings, and a credit on the album cover to Scientific Advisor Willy Ley who won one of the first Hugos in 1953.  

(20) VIDEO OF THE DAY. In “Wonder Woman 1984 Pitch Meeting” on Screen Rant, Ryan George says that the reasons why Steve Trevor appears in Wonder Woman 1984 have really creepy implications and that it’s highly unlikely that Wonder Woman could make an escape from the Smithsonian by stealing a fully fueled airplane from the Air and Space Museum.

[Thanks to John Hertz, JJ, Cat Eldridge, Michael Toman, Martin Morse Wooster, John King Tarpinian, Mike Kennedy, Jeff Smith, Darrah Chavey, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Anna Nimmhaus.]

Pixel Scroll 12/25/20 We Wish You A Merry Pixel And A Happy
Scroll File

(1) JEMISIN’S LATEST MILESTONE. [Item by Rob Thornton.] N.K. Jemisin received an interesting present for Christmas when she learned that The City We Became was chosen as a Book Of The Month.

(2) AWARDED SFF BY POC. [Item by Eric Wong.] Rocket Stack Rank’s  annual Outstanding SF/F by People of Color 2019, with 67 stories by 60 authors that were that were finalists for major SF/F awards, included in “year’s best” SF/F anthologies, or recommended by prolific reviewers in short fiction.

Included are some observations obtained from highlighting specific recommenders and pivoting the table by publication, author, awards, year’s best anthologies, and reviewers.

(3) CALL FOR REVIEWERS. If you’re interested in reviewing PDFs of either of these for File 770, contact me at mikeglyer (at) cs (dot) com.

FIREFLY: THE ARTBOOK
An original glossy coffee table book bursting with brand new and exclusive art, includes over 120 pieces by professional artists, illustrators, concept artists, comics artists and graphic designers.

RIVERS OF LONDON BODY WORKS DELUXE WRITERS’ EDITION
CSI meets Harry Potter in this fantastic DELUXE WRITERS’ EDITION graphic novel from Ben Aaronovitch, writer of the bestselling Rivers of London supernatural police procedural crime novel series! Presents the full script of the graphic novel along with the unlettered, full-color artwork, allowing the reader to read the original script and see the artwork side-by-side.

(4) EXTRA SPACE FOR DOOHAN’S ASHES. [Item by Steven H Silver.] Richard Garriott smuggled James Doohan’s ashes onto the International Space Station during his 2012 and is revealing it now.“Ashes of Star Trek’s Scotty smuggled on to International Space Station” in The Times (UK).

As one of Star Trek’s most beloved characters, Montgomery “Scotty” Scott spent a lifetime exploring the galaxy on the USS Enterprise, boldly going beyond the final frontier.

Now it can be revealed that in death the actor who played the starship’s chief engineer has travelled nearly 1.7 billion miles through space, orbiting Earth more than 70,000 times, after his ashes were hidden secretly on the International Space Station.

A note.  In 2012, it was also announced that some of James Doohan’s ashes were being launched into space on a Falcon 9 flight that would put them in orbit for about two years.  That was known, but not the same as Richard Garriott carrying his ashes aboard a Soyuz to place them on the ISS, which was not previously known.

(5) WW84 REVIEW. Here’s Leonard Maltin’s take on “WW84 (WONDER WOMAN 1984)”  — BEWARE SPOILERS.

WW84 starts on a promising note, taking a page from the Superman playbook: Wonder Woman sweeps into a shopping mall and dispatches a gang of crooks while saving imperiled children, even sharing a knowing wink with one of them. It’s a moment of pure fun that leaves you with a smile on your face and shows our heroine actually enjoying her superpowers.

From that point on, the movie struggles to be relevant and serious, but in a superficial, cartoony way. It drones on for two and a half hours but it hasn’t got a lot to say, and sputters whenever it’s trying to convey a message. A prologue on Paradise Island only makes one wish they made more use of that setting and its strong female characters….

(6) ALWAYS TO CALL IT RESEARCH. Complex sets the scene in “Mark Hamill Clowns Space Force for Copying Marvel, ‘Star Wars’ and ‘Star Trek'”.

…Responding to a tweet from Guardians of the Galaxy director James Gunn, Hamill laid out the full extent of the Space Force’s thievery.

(7) BIG GAME HUNTER. Camestros Felapton continues to assist Hugo voters with a new compilation of possible nominees: “Thirteen Notable Video Games of 2020 (maybe?)”

The other week I linked to a few “best of…” lists for 2020. On Twitter, Hampus also suggested another round-up source here https://www.cbr.com/best-video-games-2020/ I’ve since collated those lists along with the video games already listed on the Hugo Sheet of Doom. I’ll confess that I have taken a scattershot approach to deciding whether games are SFF or not. It isn’t always easy! Does a historical game count as alternate-history if you can reshape events (eg Crusader Kings III)? Is Call of Duty SFF because there is a zombie option? I don’t know! 

(8) GUNN OBIT. SFWA Grand Master James Gunn died December 23. Colleague Kij Johnson has a tribute: “With great sadness”.

This morning, James Gunn passed on at the age of 97. We’re not sure of what, but it probably was congestive heart failure. He went into the ER on Saturday morning, where they were not able to regulate his heartbeat. There will be official announcements and eventually a memorial.

One of many Gunn profiles is here at The Hollywood Reporter.

Gunn’s leadership in the field of sff studies at the University of Kansas is commemorated by the Center there that bears his name. His academic work included a series of filmed interviews with leading creators in 1970, including Rod Serling.

(9) MEMORY LANE.

  • In 1958 at Solacon held at South Gate, California, Fritz Leiber would win the first of ten Hugos that he would garner to date (counting Retros), for The Big TimeThe Big Time was published originally in Galaxy Magazine‘s March and April 1958 issues as illustrated by Virgil Finlay who has multiple Retro Hugos as an artist. In 2012, it was selected for inclusion in the Library of America’s two-volume American Science Fiction: Nine Classic Novels of the 1950s.

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]

  • Born December 25, 1890 – Robert Ripley.  Dropping out of high school to help his family after his father’s death, he worked as a cartoonist, invented Ripley’s Believe It or Not! and became world-famous.  Said he documented everything.  Invited readers’ contributions, was read by eighty million, may have received more mail than the U.S. President.  Short cinema features, radio, television, visited 200 countries.  When R noted that in fact the U.S. had no national anthem, John Philip Sousa applauded “The Star-Spangled Banner” – which everyone had been singing – and it was finally adopted.  Also NY State handball champion.  Not in touch with us during his life (though he did interview Maud Baum) – he didn’t want fiction; the continuing R enterprise runs museums, publishes books: in RBI (R’s Bu. of Investigation) #2 The Dragon’s Teeth teen agents have special gifts.  (Died 1949) [JH]
  • Born December 25, 1915 – Dora Pantell.  Teacher, author of textbooks and manuals (many on English as a second language), she continued the Miss Pickerell books of Ellen MacGregor (1906-1954) about a New England spinster (as such were known until quite recently) with a good mind who takes technological adventures and applies science.  EM left copious notes, DP wrote a dozen Pickerell books (MP on the MoonMP and the Weather Satellite) and as many shorter stories.  (Died 1996) [JH]
  • Born December 25, 1924 Rod Serling. Best remembered for the original and certainly superior Twilight Zone and Night Gallery with the former winning an impressive three Hugos. He’s also the screenwriter or a co-screenwriter for Seven Days in May, a very scary film indeed, as well as The New People series, The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. HydeA Town Has Turned to Dust, UFOs: Past, Present, and Future and Planet of the Apes. ISDB lists a lot of published scripts and stories by him. (Died 1975.) (CE) 
  • Born December 25, 1928 Dick Miller. He’s appeared in over a hundred films including every film directed by Joe Dante. You’ve seen him in both GremlinsThe Little Shop of HorrorsTerminatorThe HowlingSmall SoldiersTwilight Zone: The Movie, Amazon Women on the Moon, Batman: Mask of the Phantasm where he voiced the gravelly voiced Chuckie Sol and Oberon in the excellent  “The Ties That Bind” episode of Justice League Unlimited. (Died 2019.) (CE)
  • Born December 25, 1939 Royce D. Applegate. His best known role was that of Chief Petty Officer Manilow Crocker on the first season of seaQuest DSV. He’s got appearances in Quantum LeapTwin Peaks (where he played Rev. Clarence Brocklehurst), Tales of the Unexpected  and Supertrain. (Died 2003.) (CE)
  • Born December 25, 1945 Rick Berman, 75. Loved and loathed in equal measures, he’s known for his work as the executive producer of Next GenDeep Space NineVoyager and Enterprise which he co-created with Brannon Braga. He’d be lead producer on the four Next Generation films: GenerationsFirst Contact (which I like), Insurrection  and Nemesis. (CE) 
  • Born December 25, 1947 – Bill Fesselmeyer.  Active U.S. Midwest fan, worked on MidAmeriCon I the 34th Worldcon, satirized our Worldcon Business Meetings – so hard that we don’t always do them well – in “How the Grinch Stole Worldcon”, as you can read here, thanks again to Leah Zeldes Smith.  Earned a barony in the Society for Creative Anachronism.  With wife Sherry, Fan Guests of Honor at BYOB-Con 7.  (Died 1984) [JH]
  • Born December 25, 1948 –Kathleen Meyer.  Chaired Windycon XI-XII and XV; Fan Guest of Honor at Capricon 8.  Ran Membership Services at Chicon IV the 40th Worldcon; chaired Chicon V the 49th; survived to run  Events at Chicon 2000 the 58th.  Twenty-five years Treasurer of parent ISFiC (Illinois SF in Chicago).  I knew her, Horatio.  (Died 2016) [JH] 
  • Born December 25, 1952 CCH Pounder, 68. She’s had one very juicy voice role running through the DC Universe from since Justice League Unlimited in 2006. If you’ve not heard her do this role, it worth seeing the animated Assault on Arkham Asylum which is far superior to the live action Suicide Squad film to hear her character. She also had a recurring role as Mrs. Irene Frederic on Warehouse 13 as well.  She’s also been in X-Files, Quantum Leap, White Dwarf (horrid series), GargoylesMillenniumHouse of Frankenstein and Outer Limits.  Film-wise, she shows up in Robocop 3Tales from the Crypt presents Demon KnightThe Mortal Instruments: City of Bones and several of the forthcoming Avatar films. (CE)
  • Born December 25, 1969 – Holly Phillips, age 51.  Reared in Trail and other small towns in British Columbia.  Sunburst Award for collection In the Palace of Repose.  Anthology Tesseracts 11 with Cory Doctorow.  Two novels, three dozen shorter stories, half a dozen poems.  “As weird as I try to make my fiction, it’s never as weird as the real world.”  [JH]
  • Born December 25, 1969 – Christopher Rowe, age 51.  Three novels, thirty shorter stories.  Co-author of Wild Cards 25, entitled Low Chicago.  Extended chapbook  Say…. into a small-press magazine for five years.  Has read The Last Great WalkLolita, two Jane Austen novels, one Dickens and one Dumas, The Hunt for “Red October”, one Shakespeare.  Website.  [JH]
  • Born December 25, 1984 Georgia Moffett, 36.  She’s  the daughter of actor Peter Davison, the man who was Fifth Doctor and she’s married to David Tennant who was the Tenth Doctor.  She played opposite the Tenth Doctor as Jenny in “The Doctor’s Daughter” and in she voiced ‘Cassie’ in the animated Doctor Who: Dreamland which is now on iTunes and Amazon. And yes she’s in The Five(ish) Doctors Reboot as herself. (CE)

(11) COMICS SECTION.

(12) UNDERSTANDING THE CRIMINAL MIND. Amanda Weaver finds the motive lacking for two recent newsmaking capers.

(13) GOLDEN GLOBES CHALLENGED. Although the specific film at issue is not genre, File 770 does follow the Golden Globes, and this eligibility question is of interest. “Golden Globes: What the HFPA Needs to Do to Fix the ‘Minari’ Debacle” in Variety.

The Hollywood Foreign Press has come under fire again for the rule that disallows “Minari,” the story of a Korean immigrant family struggling to build a better life in Arkansas, from competing in the Golden Globes race for best drama or musical/comedy. As the entertainment industry faces pressure to become more diverse and inclusive, both in the stories it tells and in terms of the actors and filmmakers it champions, the HFPA should have foreseen the outcry from Hollywood.

The rules around Golden Globes eligibility for best picture categories are outdated and need to be overhauled — fast.

“Minari,” which stars an American, is directed by an American and produced, financed, and distributed by U.S. companies, is ineligible in the best picture categories and must compete in the foreign language category. The problem was also faced by last year by “The Farewell,” Lulu Wang’s acclaimed dramedy, in 2019, which, like “Minari,” was forced into the foreign language race and excluded from competing for the Globes’ top prizes.

(14) SEEING VS. BELIEVING. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In the December 19 Financial Times, Raphael Abraham interviews Soul director Pete Docter about how the Pixar crew filming Soul discussed how to depict a soul.

Having consulted clinical psychologists for Inside Out, which made manifest a teenage girl’s emotional inner workings, this time Docter and his team turned to spiritual advisers for guidance  ‘We did a lot of research, talking with priests and rabbis, looking at Hinduism, Buddhism, all sorts of different traditions to see what they could teach about the nature of the soul,’ he says.  However, when it came to visual representation, they came to a dead end,  ‘Largely, it was not too helpful because it said they’re non-visible. And we thought:  well, great, but we’ve got to film something!’

Looking within themselves instead, the animators devised a solution that has the film flirting with abstraction as the action moves from the temporal world to the ethereal landscapes of ‘The Great Beyond,’ ‘The Great Before,’ and the ‘Counsellors’ who inhabit them.

Here they turned to art history for inspiration.  ‘We looked at a lot of modernist sculpture, Picasso wire sculptures, Alexander Calder.  We thought of the Counsellors as the universe dumbing itself down so that the humans and souls could understand it.’

(15) READ BEFORE YOU WRAP. Have you been influenced by any of these “20 Traditional Gift-Giving Superstitions” listed by Mental Floss?

5. CATS

In Sicily, it’s said you should never give a gift in the shape of a cat to someone who is engaged to be married, as this foretells sudden and violent death. However, in other cultures, if your partner gives you an actual cat as a present, it means you will never be parted.

(16) GHASTLY IMAGININGS OF THE SEASON. Dean Koontz’ holiday newsletter (available to subscribers) begins —

Tis the season to be jolly. That’s better than a season to be angry and mean. However, I find something unsettling about too much jolliness, especially when the jolly one is a snowman that has been brought to life by the magic in “an old black hat.” Whose hat was it? Huh? Did it belong to a serial killer, and did he die wearing it, and is his hideous, corrupted soul in that hat?

Frosty’s button nose is okay, but I’m creeped out by those two eyes made out of coal. We can often read other people’s intentions in their eyes, but NOT IN EYES MADE OUT OF COAL! The teeth in his grin are made of coal, too, and he’s always grinning, which suggests he’s psychotic…

(17) YESTERDAY’S MEDIA BIRTHDAY. This one is too good to skip. On December 24, 1916 the silent film 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, directed and written by Stuart Paton, premiered. Starring Allen Holubar and Jane Gail, Carl Laemmle, later to be founder of what would become Universal Pictures, produced it. Paton used most of Verne’s 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea novel and elements of Mysterious Island as well. Yes it’s in the National Film Registry as it should be. Indeed it was a box office success as it made eight million on a budget of two hundred thousand. You can watch it here.

(18) A DIY PROJECT FOR THOSE WHO HAVE A ZILLION DOLLAR LAB. Left over from Gizmodo’s 2019 “Fake Week” but news to me — “How to Make a Black Hole in a Science Lab”.

… “Black hole radiation is one of the perhaps most peculiar processes,” Weinfurtner told Gizmodo. Thanks to her experiment, “you can reproduce this process in the lab.”

More complex dumb holes followed; Weinfurtner eventually went on to lead her own group, now at the University of Nottingham in the United Kingdom, which devised a black hole analog from a vortex produced by a draining, rotating fluid. The vortex amplified waves traveling over the liquid that bounced into it, and the experiment became a first observation of a process called superradiance in the lab—an analogy to the Penrose process, where spinning black holes turbocharge the particles in the space around them….

(19) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In “The Polar Express Pitch Meeting” on Screen Rant, Ryan George explains the premise of The Polar Express is that when a kid “gets into a stranger’s vehicle in the middle of the night, his life is going to change,” but don’t worry, the vehicle is The Polar Express, so this is supposed to be a fun Christmas movie, even if the motion-capture animation leads to “dead eye characters and uncanny valley vibes.”

[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, Rob Thornton, Eric Wong, James Davis Nicoll, Mike Kennedy, John Hertz, John King Tarpinian, Michael Toman, JJ, Martin Morse Wooster, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Anne Sheller.]

Pixel Scroll 12/21/20 I Saw Mommy Kzin Santa Claus

(1) BAKE AND SHAKE. Fan Dave Rowe, who lives on the Big Island, reassured his friends today:

Last night (Sunday 20th) Halema’uma’u magma chamber caused an eruption at Kilauea Volcano (it’s already stopped), that’s about twenty miles from here, and an hour later there was an earthquake which we experienced.  No damage to us or our home. The lava flow went south-west, well away from us.

(2) PAY THE WRITER, REDUX. Inside the Magic, which specializes in covering Disney properties, quotes a less intransigent response to the unpaid royalty issue raised by Alan Dean Foster, SFWA, and others than the company originally gave:  “More Writers Report Missing Royalty Payments From Disney”.

…Disney initially responded by saying that it purchased the rights of the novels when it acquired the parent properties Lucasfilm and 20th Century and no longer needed to pay royalties. But a Disney spokesman has since come forward, and said, “We are carefully reviewing whether any royalty payments may have been missed as a result of acquisition integration and will take appropriate remedial steps if that is the case.”

While the royalty payments are expected to be a small percentage of Disney’s profits — especially with Lucasfilm’s properties — the more daunting task appears to be calculating how much Disney owes its writers over the past six years. That requires tracking down the sales of every book under every author’s name in every market around the world.

Foster’s agent estimates that he “had made more than $50,000 in royalties on the original Star Wars novelization alone before the checks stopped in 2012.”…

(3) ISS MAS. The stockings were hung by the bulkhead with care. “Starry Night: A History of Celebrating Christmas in Space” at Mental Floss.

…No American had an overlapping space mission with Christmas again until 1996, when John Blaha was on board Russia’s Mir space station. Blaha and the crew received a delivery from the Progress spacecraft, which was full of presents, cards, and food. “It was a shining star, rising toward us at great speed from beneath the horizon,” Blaha later recalled of the Progress. “All of a sudden, the light from the Progress extinguished as we passed into the shade of the Earth. Five seconds later, four lights on the Progress were turned on. I watched the remainder of the rendezvous through a tiny window in the aft end of the Kvant module.”

Opening the packages from Progress, he added, was “like Christmas and your birthday, all rolled together, when you are 5 years old.” What might become routine to Earthbound observers took on a new and special meaning in the vastness of space.

(4) DEGREE OF DIFFICULTY. Cliff sent me the link to “Goodreads’ 200 Most Difficult Novels”. I’m no fan of difficult novels, which accounts for my score of 13 read. In contrast, Cliff scored 45/200. But should any Neil Gaiman novel be on a “most difficult” list, let alone half a dozen of them? It’s also not clear what Stephen Hawking’s A Brief History of Time is doing on a list of novels although I shouldn’t complain, since I got a point for reading it.

(5) ET BLOWN HOME. [Item by James Davis Nicoll.] From a paper at arXiv.org: Model suggests absence of ET is one part we’re late to the party, one part we’re in the wrong neighborhood, and one part most technological species kill themselves off comparatively quickly. “A Statistical Estimation of the Occurrence of Extraterrestrial Intelligence in the Milky Way Galaxy”.

In the field of Astrobiology, the precise location, prevalence and age of potential extraterrestrial intelligence (ETI) have not been explicitly explored. Here, we address these inquiries using an empirical galactic simulation model to analyze the spatial-temporal variations and the prevalence of potential ETI within the Galaxy. This model estimates the occurrence of ETI, providing guidance on where to look for intelligent life in the Search for ETI (SETI) with a set of criteria, including well-established astrophysical properties of the Milky Way. Further, typically overlooked factors such as the process of abiogenesis, different evolutionary timescales and potential self-annihilation are incorporated to explore the growth propensity of ETI. We examine three major parameters: 1) the likelihood rate of abiogenesis ({\lambda}A); 2) evolutionary timescales (Tevo); and 3) probability of self-annihilation of complex life (Pann). We found Pann to be the most influential parameter determining the quantity and age of galactic intelligent life. Our model simulation also identified a peak location for ETI at an annular region approximately 4 kpc from the Galactic center around 8 billion years (Gyrs), with complex life decreasing temporally and spatially from the peak point, asserting a high likelihood of intelligent life in the galactic inner disk. The simulated age distributions also suggest that most of the intelligent life in our galaxy are young, thus making observation or detection difficult.

(6) GILER OBIT. David Giler, who won a Hugo as the producer of Aliens, died on October 19 in Bangkok, from cancer. Deadline recaps his career. These are just a few of his genre credits —

…Giler’s screenwriting credits include The Parallax View (1974), Fun With Dick And Jane (1977) and The Money Pit (1986). He has writing or story credits for both Aliens (1986) and Aliens 3 (1992), and was a producer of the original Alien (1979) and its seven sequels, up to 2017’s Alien: Covenant (though his and Hill’s involvement lessened in the later sequels).

…In television, Giler wrote scripts for ’60s series Burke’s Law, The Man From U.N.C.L.E. and The Girl From U.N.C.L.E. In 1970, at 25 years old, Giler took on Gore Vidal’s Myra Breckinridge, his battles with director Michael Sarne becoming nearly as infamous as the legendary Raquel Welch-Rex Reed flop itself. One significant outlier: Vidal himself, who praised Giler’s original draft and became a lifelong friend….

(7) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

  • December 21, 1937 –On this day 83 years ago, Walt Disney released Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, one of the earliest full-length animated films. It premiered at the Carthay Circle Theatre in Los Angeles, California. It was the first full-length cel animated feature film and the earliest Disney animated feature film.  It was a critical and commercial success and, with international earnings of more than eight million dollars during its initial release, (compared to its 1.5 million dollar budget), it briefly held the record of highest-grossing sound film at the time.  He took out a mortgage on his house to help finance the film. 

(7b) MEDIA ANNIVESARY.

1958 — At Solacon in South Gate, California, the first Hugo for Outstanding Movie would be awarded. It would go to Richard Matheson for The Incredible Shrinking Man, a Universal Film which had premiered the previous year for which he had written the screenplay based off his novel The Shrinking Man. It had been published by Gold Medal Books / Fawcett two years previously in paperback for thirty five cents. It would be his only Hugo. 

(8) TODAY’S DAY.

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]

  • Born December 21, 1892 – Dame Rebecca West.  Immortal for Black Lamb and Grey Falcon (1941; get an edition with her husband’s photos), she wrote us a novel and two shorter stories.  Feminist and idiosyncratic.  (Died 1983) [JH]
  • Born December 21, 1898 – Hubert Rogers.  One of our greatest artists, whom we naturally honored with not one Hugo or Chesley.  Five dozen covers, three hundred interiors.  Here is the Aug 40 Astounding.  Here is the Aug 49.  Here is the Jan 52.  Here is The Man Who Sold the Moon.  Here is an interior for “Children of the Lens”.  See Di Fate’s treatment in Infinite Worlds.  (Died 1982) [JH]
  • December 21, 1929 James Cawthorn. An illustrator, comics artist and writer who worked predominantly with Michael Moorcock. He had met him through their involvement in fandom. They would co-write The Land that Time Forgot film, and he drew “The Sonic Assassins” strip which was based on Hawkwind that ran in Frendz. He also did interior and cover art for a number of publications from the Fifties onwards including (but not limited to) Vector 3New Worlds SFScience Fantasy and Yandro. (Died 2008.) (CE) 
  • December 21, 1937 Jane Fonda, 83. I’m sure everyone here has seen her in Barbarella. Her only other genre appearances are apparently by voice work as Shuriki in the animated Elena of Avalor series, and in the Spirits of the Dead, a 1968 anthology film based on the work of Poe. She was the Contessa Frederique de Metzengerstein in the “Metzengerstein” segment of the film.  (CE) 
  • December 21, 1943 John Nance. Let’s just say he and David Lynch were rather connected. He’s Henry Spencer in Eraserhead, he had a small role as the Harkonnen Captain Iakin Nefud in Dune and he’s Pete Martell in Twin Peaks. He had a supporting role as Paul, a friend of Dennis Hopper’s villain character in Blue Velvet but even I couldn’t stretch that film to be genre adjacent. (Died 1996.) (CE)
  • Born December 21, 1944 – James Sallis, age 76.  For us a novel, a hundred twenty shorter stories, half a dozen poems, a hundred book reviews in The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, a stint co-editing New Worlds, two anthologies, Ash of Stars on Samuel Delany; also crime fiction (Grand Prix de Littérature policière, Hammett Award, Bouchercon lifetime achievement award), music including as a teacher and musicologist, translator e.g. Queneau’s Saint Glinglin.  [JH]
  • Born December 21, 1946 – Lenny Bailes, age 74.  San Francisco Bay Area fan, ornament (that’s applause, Lenny) to FAPAOMPASFPA.  Fanzines Ink Gun BluesWhistlestar.  Guest of Honor at Minicon 35.  [JH]
  • December 21, 1948 Samuel L. Jackson,  72. Where to start? Did you know that with his permission, his likeness was used for the Ultimates version of the Nick Fury? It’s a great series btw. He has also played Fury in the Iron ManIron Man 2, Thor, Captain America: The First AvengerThe AvengersCaptain America: The Winter SoldierAvengers: Age of Ultron and Avengers: Infinity War and showed up on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. too! He voiced Lucius Best (a.k.a. Frozone) in the Incredibles franchise, Mace Windu in The Phantom Menace and The Clone Wars, the Afro Samurai character in the anime series of the same name and more other genre work than can be listed here comfortably so go ahead and add your favorite role by him. (CE) 
  • Born December 21, 1963 – Mandy Slater, age 57.  A dozen short stories.  Interviewed Bob Eggleton for Secret City.  Worked on Program Ops (or “Oops”) at candidate-for-best-ever-Worldcon (the 47th) Noreascon 3.  [JH]
  • December 21, 1966 Michelle Hurd, 54. She currently portrays Raffi Musiker in Picard. (I weirdly thought she’d been on Trek before but she hadn’t.) She was in a twenty year old Justice League of America pilot as B.B. DaCosta / Fire, and one-offs in Beyond Belief: Fact or FictionLeap YearsCharmedFlashForward, and Witches of East End. She had recurring roles inAsh vs. Evil Dead as Linda Bates Emery and Daredevil asSamantha Reyes. (CE) 
  • December 21, 1966 Kiefer Sutherland, 54. My he’s been in a lot of genre undertakings! I think that The Lost Boys was his first such of many to come including FlatlinersTwin Peaks: Fire Walk with MeThe Three Musketeers, voice work in Armitage: Poly-MatrixDark City, more voice work in The Land Before Time X: The Great Longneck Migration, Marmaduke and Dragonlance: Dragons of Autumn TwilightMirrors, and yes, he’s in the second Flatliners as a new character. (CE)
  • Born December 21, 1982 – Eliza Wheeler, age 38.  Author and illustrator.  Here is Doll Bones.  Here is The Left-Handed Fate.  Here is “Sky Sailing”.  Here is Cornelius the Grudge Keeper.  In this interview after winning the SCBWI (Soc. of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators) portfolio-showcase grand prize she shows how she built a picture and includes a few others like this.  [JH]

(10) COMICS SECTION.

  • Brewster Rockit’s idea for a 2020 holiday souvenir makes me think the strip should have ended with someone keeling over and saying, “Rosebud.”

(11) THE BURBANK LETTERS. At Black Gate, Bob Byrne reacquaints fans with Groucho Marx’s “The Casablanca Letters”. (And for a much fuller explanation, consult Snopes.)

I think that Groucho Marx was one of the funniest men who ever lived. And I laugh out loud a the movies he made with his brothers. Well, most of them, anyways. I strongly recommend his book. The Groucho Letters. When word was making the rounds around 1944 that the boys were going to make a movie called A Night in Casablanca, Warner Brothers threatened legal action.…

(12) ALIAS MOOSE AND SQUIRREL. The Smithsonian Magazine explores “How Bullwinkle Taught Kids Sophisticated Political Satire”.

Mr. Chairman, I am against all foreign aid, especially to places like Hawaii and Alaska,” says Senator Fussmussen from the floor of a cartoon Senate in 1962. In the visitors’ gallery, Russian agents Boris Badenov and Natasha Fatale are deciding whether to use their secret “Goof Gas” gun to turn the Congress stupid, as they did to all the rocket scientists and professors in the last episode of “Bullwinkle.”

Another senator wants to raise taxes on everyone under the age of 67. He, of course, is 68. Yet a third stands up to demand, “We’ve got to get the government out of government!” The Pottsylvanian spies decide their weapon is unnecessary: Congress is already ignorant, corrupt and feckless.

(13) ONE TO BEAM DOWN. In the Washington Post, Dalvin Brown discusses “immersive technology start-up Blank XR,” which plans to use virtual reality to beam holograms of performers into people’s homes, thanks to a $3500 headset that “projects 3-D images that respond to your voice and gestures” so you can immerse yourself in a concert at home. “BLANK XR has plans for mixed-reality concert platform”.

…Live-streaming performances and music downloads brought in some revenue, but those experiences aren’t as captivating or money-generating as in-person concerts. That’s where innovative tech offerings like holograms and personalized digital concerts fit in, according to Denise White, CEO of BLANK XR and former director of direct-to-consumer technologies at the Walt Disney Company.

“From our point of view, the new normal is holographic,” White said. “What that will enable you to do is put on a headset and actually have a conversation with your favorite artists.”

Digitizing musicians and capturing their likeness involves a two-step process…

(14) SOME RARE GOOD NEWS. And are you ready to hear it? “Holiday Special with Dwayne Johnson: Some Good News with John Krasinski”.

John Krasinski highlights some good news around the world, including weather from George Clooney, a message from Justin Timberlake, and John’s friend Dwanta Claus, aka Dwayne Johnson, joins to spread some holiday cheer for the end of 2020.

(15) VIDEO OF THE DAY. Ryan George, in “TENET Pitch Meeting” on ScreenRant, says that TENET “is so confusing and hard to hear that people will have to see it several times” to figure out what the film is all about.

[Thanks to Michael Toman, Trey Palmer, JJ, Cat Eldridge, John Hertz, Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, John King Tarpinian, Stephen H Silver, Rich Lynch, and Martin Morse Wooster for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]

Pixel Scroll 12/13/20 It’s The Pixel To Scroll When You’re Scrolling More Than One

(1) THE VALUE IN EXPERIMENTING. Nino Cipri offers some sff writing pointers. Thread starts here.

(2) BABY FOOD. Beware spoilers – but not spoilage: ‘The Mandalorian’ Season 2: A Baby Yoda food diary”) in the LA Times.

Babies have to eat — and Grogu is no different.

During the second season of “The Mandalorian,” Grogu, long referred to by fans as Baby Yoda, has been shown eating everything from a froglike alien’s eggs to fancy blue cookies. The popular Disney+ series could easily spawn a spinoff called “The Best Thing Baby Yoda Ever Ate.”

As of the seventh episode of Season 2, titled “The Believer,” Baby Yoda remains a captive of Moff Gideon and his Imperial forces. Hopefully, the Empire remembers to feed its prisoners, because Grogu is one hungry baby, if previous episodes are anything to go by.

Until Mando and Baby Yoda are reunited (and hopefully throw a celebratory feast), here’s a look back at everything Baby Yoda has been seen eating during the show so far.

(3) DINO TIMES. The Los Angeles Public Library did an “Interview With an Author: David Gerrold” about his new novel Hella.

How did the novel evolve and change as you wrote and revised it? Are there any characters or scenes that were lost in the process that you wish had made it to the published version?

I had a first draft that sat on my computer for a couple of years. It wasn’t bad, but it needed a polish. And the ending was unsatisfying. I offered it to Betsy Wollheim at DAW. I really admire her. She understands the genre better than most because she grew up in it. Her dad, Donald A. Wollheim, was one of the most underrated movers and shakers in the field. She suggested that I rethink the ending and I came up with a much stronger resolution, one that was a much better payoff. So I have to give her the credit for making Hella a better book.

(4) PRO TIP. In Isaac Asimov’s autobiography In Memory Yet Green he discusses how he continued to write letters in the pages of science fiction magazines even after he became a professional.

I began to enjoy less the writing of letters.  Yet I did write them, and often quarreled with writers who objected to something or other in one of my stories–until I received a letter from the writer Nelson S. Bond (whom I met briefly at the World Convention in 1939, and never again), saying that now that I was a professional, I should stop slugging it out in fan columns.  I took that seriously and from the moment I received that letter, I stopped writing letters to the magazines, except for very occasional ones that did not involve fannish comments.  I have always been grateful to Bond for this word in season.

(5) TWO FIFTHS. Thanks to Jim Henley for this fine example of a File 770 trope – double fifths!

(6) ANOTHER FIVE. Speaking of the magic number, James Davis Nicoll knows “Five Novels About the World After the End of the World”.

While nostalgia has had a place in tabletop roleplaying games ever since the field was old enough to have second editions—remember when tabletop roleplaying game nostalgia was new?—the recent Twilight 2000 Kickstarter is remarkable for the speed at which the project hit its funding goals: just seven minutes, a bit longer than it would take missiles launched from the Soviet Union to reach Britain.

First published in 1984, Twilight 2000 took as its background a mid-1990s Soviet-Chinese conflict that spiraled into a global war when East and West Germany tried to use Soviet distraction to reunify. By 2000 all sides are too exhausted to continue. Most campaigns begin as the war stumbles to a chaotic, exhausted halt.

T:2000 might seem to be an odd game to be nostalgic about. Perhaps it is a reflection of the Jason Mendoza principle: “Anytime I had a problem and I threw a Molotov cocktail, boom! Right away, I had a different problem.” …

(7) CHINA’S COSPLAY RESTRICTIONS. “China cracks down on cleavage at cosplay convention”CNN has the story.

Organizers of Asia’s largest digital entertainment expo — where scantily clad models usually dress up as characters from comic books, movies and video games — say they will levy a fine of $800 on women who reveal “more than two centimeters of cleavage.”

Men are not exempt from the crackdown on exposed flesh.

They will face the same penalty if they wear low-hanging pants or expose their underwear. If models are caught dancing in cages or around a pole they will be fined a whopping $1,600, as will anyone caught striking vulgar poses.

It’s the latest example of what appears to be a government campaign for stricter morality in China.

A New York Times story on December 11 collected other examples in “Two soccer teams showed up to play. One lost because of hair dye” (repeated here by the South Florida Sun-Sentinel):

Under China’s top leader, Xi Jinping, the Communist Party’s creeping interference on the smallest details of Chinese life is being felt more and more. Censors have blurred the bejeweled earlobes of young male pop stars on television and the internet so that, in their mind, the piercings and jewelry don’t set a bad example for boys. Women in costumes at a video game convention were told to raise their necklines.

(8) BATMAN ’66 AND OTHER VINTAGE TV OPINIONS. [Item by Todd Mason.]  From 1966: “At Issue; 65; What’s Happening to Television?” This episode of the monthly series from National Educational Television makes its points, sometimes less tellingly than its creators think it does, but writer Morton Silverstein and some of those interviewed sure get their boots in on Batman, the ABC series, to a remarkable degree. Also, the blithe use of “drama” to refer only to anthology series that don’t have a slant toward one established program category or another beyond that concept. Interesting to those who are students of popular culture and news medium self-justification.

“What’s Happening to Television?” is the topic explored by no fewer than twenty-two top personalities allied to the television industry. This hour program in National Educational Television’s “At Issue” series presents timely and critical observations on daily programs, news, TV ratings, government regulations and the role of advertising. “What’s Happening to Television?” is analyzed by network executives, news commentators, advertising people, writers and critics. They comment on the growth of television, from its infant days to its present giant development, when more than 35 million Americans watch their sets for some 3 hours daily. “What’s Happening to Television?” looks back into TV history, analyzing some of the early successes, commenting on present programs, and giving the viewer a glimpse of next fall’s offerings. Some of the questions discussed include: Will television ever live up to its potential? What is the real purpose? Who determines which programs are dropped? What is the role of the program sponsors? Is the public interest being protected? Is educational television the answer to more worthy programs? What can the viewer do to control the quality of programs coming into the family living room? 

(9) GALANTER OBIT. Star Trek author Dave Galanter (1969-2020) died of cancer on December 12. Galanter has authored (or coauthored with collaborator Greg Brodeur) such Star Trek projects as Voyager: Battle Lines, the Next Generation duology Maximum WarpThe Original Series novels Crisis of Consciousness and Troublesome Minds, and numerous works of short Star Trek fiction.

(10) LE CARRE OBIT. The author of the George Smiley novels has fallen to pneumonia: “John le Carre, who probed murky world of spies, dies at 89” reports the AP News. He died December 12.

“John le Carre has passed at the age of 89. This terrible year has claimed a literary giant and a humanitarian spirit,” tweeted novelist Stephen King. Margaret Atwood said: “Very sorry to hear this. His Smiley novels are key to understanding the mid-20th century.”

…After university, which was interrupted by his father’s bankruptcy, he taught at the prestigious boarding school Eton before joining the foreign service.

Officially a diplomat, he was in fact a “lowly” operative with the domestic intelligence service MI5 —he’d started as a student at Oxford — and then its overseas counterpart MI6, serving in Germany, on the Cold War front line, under the cover of second secretary at the British Embassy.

His first three novels were written while he was a spy, and his employers required him to publish under a pseudonym. He remained “le Carre” for his entire career. He said he chose the name — square in French — simply because he liked the vaguely mysterious, European sound of it….

(11) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

  • December 13, 2002 — On this date in 2002, Star Trek: Nemesis premiered. It directed by Stuart Baird and produced by Rick Berman from the screenplay by John Logan as developed from the story by John Logan, Rick Berman and Brent Spiner. It was the fourth and final film to feature the Next Generation cast. It received decidedly mixed reviews, was a full-blown box disaster but currently has a decent fifty percent rating among audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes.

(12) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]

  • Born December 13, 1909 – Alan Barclay.  Five novels, two dozen shorter stories; essays “Interplanetary Navigation” in New Worlds SF, “The Bow” in SF Adventures.  “The Scapegoat” is in New Worlds SF 105 which has this neato Sydney Jordan cover.  (Died 1991) [JH]
  • Born December 13, 1923 – Faith Jaques.  Six covers, eight interiors for us.  Here is Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator and here is an interior.  Here is “The Flirtation of Two Mice”.  Outside our field I know her for this; and here are some Christmas Waits.  (Died 1997) [JH]
  • Born December 13, 1929 Christopher Plummer, 91. Let’s see… Does Rudyard Kipling in The Man Who Would Be King count? If not, The Return of the Pink Panther does. That was followed by Starcrash, a space opera I suspect hardly anyone saw which was also the case with Somewhere in Time.  Now Dreamscape was fun and well received.   Skipping now to General Chang in Star Trek: The Undiscovered Country. Opinions everyone? I know I’ve mixed feelings on Chang.  I see he’s in Twelve Monkeys which I’m not a fan of and I’ve not seen The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus yet. (CE) 
  • Born December 13, 1940 – Ken Mitchell, age 80.  Co-founded the Saskatchewan Writers’ Guild and the S Playwrights Center.  A novel, a shorter story, two covers for us (here is The Tomorrow Connection); six other novels, a dozen plays.  Retired from the Univ. Regina English Department, tours as a cowboy poet.  Order of Canada.  Saskatchewan Order of Merit.  [JH]
  • Born December 13, 1945 – Drew Mendelson, age 75.  Two novels, half a dozen shorter stories.  Maybe Cora Buhlert can explain why “Once I Built a Railroad” was translated as »Einst baute ich eine Eisenbahn« which means Once I built a railroad but Pilgrimage was translated as Die vergessenen Zonen der Stadt which isn’t a bad title for it but doesn’t mean Pilgrimage.  [JH]
  • Born December 13, 1949 R.A. MacAvoy, 71. Winner of the Astounding Award for Best New Writer. I’m very, very fond of her Black Dragon series, Tea with the Black Dragon and Twisting the Rope. The only other thing I’ve read of hers is The Book of Kells so, do tell me about her other works. (CE) 
  • Born December 13, 1954 Tamora Pierce, 66. Her first book series, The Song of the Lioness, took her character Alanna through the trials of training as a knight; it sold very well and was well received by readers. She would win in 2005 the Edward E. Smith Memorial Award for Imaginative Fiction, a rare honor indeed. (CE)
  • Born December 13, 1954 Emma Bull, 66. Writer of three of the best genre novels ever, Bone Dance: A Fantasy for TechnophilesFinder: A Novel of The Borderlands and War for The Oaks. Will Shetterly, her husband and author of a lot of really cool genre works, decided to make a trailer which you can download if you want. Just ask me.  She’s also been in in a number of neat bands, one that has genre significance that being Cat Laughing which has Stephen Brust, Adam Stemple, son of Jane Yolen, and John M. Ford either as musicians or lyricists. They came back together after a long hiatus at MiniCon 50. Again just ask me and I’ll make this music available along with that of Flash Girls which she was also in. (CE) 
  • Born December 13, 1960 – José Eduardo Agalusa Alves da Cunha, age 60.  (Agalusa the maternal, Alves da Cunha the paternal surname, Portuguese style.)  Two novels for us: The Society of Reluctant Dreamers just appeared in English, 2019; The Book of Chameleons won the Independent Foreign Fiction prize); a dozen others, shorter stories, plays, poetry, journalism, radio.  Int’l Dublin Literary Award.  [JH]
  • Born December 13, 1969 Tony Curran, 51. Vincent van Gogh in two Eleventh Doctor stories, “Vincent and the Doctor” and “The Pandorica Opens”, the latter as a cameo. He’s had vampire roles in Blade II as Priest and Underworld: Evolution as Markus, and was Lt. Delcourt in The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn to name but a few of his myriad genre roles. (CE) 
  • Born December 13, 1978 – Lee Isserow, age 42.  A score of novels, a dozen shorter stories for us; screenwriting; and the terrifying ABAM project, which means – yes – A Book A Month.  Has read not only Breakfast of Champions but The Master and Margarita.  [JH]
  • Born December 13, 1984 Amal El-Mohtar, 36. Canadian editor and writer. Winner of Hugo Awards for Best Short Story for “Seasons of Glass and Iron” at WorldCon 75 and  Best Novella for “This Is How You Lose the Time War” at CoNZealand (with Max Gladstone). (The latter got a BSFA and a Nebula as well.) She’s also garnered a Nebula Award  for “Madeleine“, a World Fantasy Award for “Pockets” and a World Fantasy Award for “Seasons of Glass and Iron”. Impressive. She has edited the fantastic poetry quarterly Goblin Fruit magazine for the past four years. (CE) 

(13) COMICS SECTION.

  • In The Far Side, it looks like the coroner’s office has already picked up this extra sized decedent.
  • And in another entry of The Far Side, they also walk dogs.

(14) IMAGINARY GIFT SHOP. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] The Washington Post had a short feature where they asked writers to “dream up the presents that they’d love to parcel out this year but don’t exist.”  Ken Liu says he wants a phone-sized device he can point at tweeters to see whether they are arguing in good faith or just being a troll.  Ted Chiang says he wished the Web had evolved into a subscription-based servie where people paid for sites they visited with money instead of personal data. “A guide to gifts that don’t exist but should”.

(15) THE ANSWER IS BOOKS. Of more practical use, “A gift guide for the fans of science fiction, fantasy and horror books in your life” by Silvia Moreno-Garcia and Lavie Tidhar in the Washington Post.

It’s that time of the year when the nights grow long, the air grows cold, the festive lights go up and the year’s best books lists are sprouting like mushrooms after the rain. But will any of them help you find that perfect book-gift for your friends who love science fiction, fantasy and horror? If not, we’re here to help….

(16) THE HIGH AND THE MIGHTY. Camestros Felapton is highly entertaining with “My new pointless Star Wars theory”.

The issue that had been bugging me was the inconsistent way of travelling between planets. In the films but also in The Mandalorian (less so in cartoons), characters fly in space ships between planets in two ways:

  • Using hyperspace as faster than light travel.
  • Using sub-light speed engines….

But now he has it all figured out!

(17) YES, VIRGINIA, THERE WAS A WRITER NAMED G. K. CHESTERTON? At CrimeReads, Olivia Rutigliano contends “Famed mystery writer G.K. Chesterton proudly, sincerely believed in Santa Claus”.

… Chesterton’s applied his penchant for logic in this article on “Santa Claus.” Along with providing a short history of the figure of Santa Claus in popular culture (particularly his origins, as the gift-wielding St. Nicholas of Bari in Medieval iconography), Chesterton offered a simple proposition: that a child’s ultimately ceasing to believe in Santa Claus, justified by the fact that Santa Claus is not real, is a precursor to that child’s ceasing to believe in God. And this, Chesterton explained, was a terrible phenomenon.

And then he admitted a surprising detail: “I startled some honest Protestants lately by telling them that, though I am (unfortunately) no longer a child, I do most definitely believe in Santa Claus.”

Elaborating on this decidedly ‘hot take,’ Chesterton stressed that he felt it was critical for children to believe in Santa Claus even after Santa Claus has been debunked as a real, flesh-and-blood man, because the Santa Claus that children know is ultimately a caricature of an actual saint; just because, Chesterton argued, he is not real to their eyes does not mean that he is not a genuine, spiritual entity….

(18) FIREFLY CHARACTER AS ILLUSTRATION OF PTSD. “SERENITY and Coping with Trauma” from Cinema Therapy on YouTube.

What happens when you’re kidnapped from your family, tortured, and conditioned into being an assassin? You get River Tam. And also Alan, apparently. Therapist Jonathan Decker and filmmaker Alan Seawright discuss what we can learn about coping with trauma from Summer Glau’s character River in Serenity and Firefly. They break down some of the symptoms of PTSD she exhibits, and some of the things that help her work through them and start healing. Even though most of us don’t live in a sci-fi future with space ships, space zombies, and space cowboys (along with psychics and lots of other fun), we can still learn a thing or two about how to heal from and deal with the trauma we do face in real life.

(19) ZOOMING THROUGH FANHISTORY. Fanac.org is planning a series of Zoom Interactive Fan History Sessions.

For our first session, Rob Hansen is going to give us an historic tour of fannish Holborn, London. Rob is probably the most accomplished fan historian writing these days. As most of you know, he has written the history of British fandom, Then and has put together a number of books covering various aspects of British fandom. Find many of them here. Reserve the date: Saturday, December 19, 2020 at 11AM EDT.

Despite the pandemic, Rob has done video recordings around London, and with historic photos and live description will give us a tour that covers some household fannish names and places. He has worked with Edie [Stern] over the past several months to provide an interesting and fairly detailed coverage of London’s fan heritage. This one-hour session is based on tours which Rob has given to individual fans and also developed as a group tour after the last London Worldcon. Even if you have been on one of these tours, you will find some fresh sights and insights. Of course, Rob will be live on Zoom with additional material and to answer questions.  Please send your RSVP to fanac@fanac.org as our Zoom service is limited to 100 participants.

(20) BEYOND INFINITY. Disney+ dropped a trailer for What if….? an alternate-universe animated series.

(21) MARTIANS AT THE NEW YORK TIMES. [Item by David Goldfarb.] The New York Times puzzle page has a game called “Letter Boxed”, in which you make words out of letters arranged around a square. The idea is to use all the letters with as few words as possible: there is always a two-word solution. The two-word solution for Saturday 12/12 was “Visualizing – Grok”.

(22) EDUCATE YOURSELF. Ursula Vernon ladles out more life experience. Thread starts here.

(23) RUN TO DAYLIGHT. SYFY Wire learned that “Spiders get thrown off spinning webs in zero-G…unless they have light”.

It’s one small step for insects, eight steps for spider-kind.

“Arachnauts” flown to the ISS have revealed their secret backup plan when they can’t use gravity to figure out where they are when spinning their webs. Earth’s gravity is what normally helps them make a web optimal for catching dinner—and position themselves in it. Lamps accidentally placed above the spider experiment showed that when the arachnids lose their orientation in microgravity, they use light to find their way again….  

(24) VIDEO OF THE DAY. In “Hulk (2003) Pitch Meeting” on Screen Rant, Ryan George says that people who watched the 2003 Hulk expecting that Hulk would smash things will be disappointed by the first 45 minutes, which consist of nothing but brooding and that few people will be excited by the scenes where Hulk beats up a Hulkified French poodle.

[Thanks to Jim Henley, David Goldfarb, Martin Morse Wooster, John Hertz, John King Tarpinian, Contrarius, JJ, Cat Eldridge, Michael Toman, Mike Kennedy, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Bill.]

Pixel Scroll 11/30/20 The Apotheosis Of Mayor Amalfi Considered As An Uphill Pixel Scroll

(1) THE SQUEEZE IS ON. NPR’s Morning Edition explores why “Critics Oppose Penguin Random House Acquiring Simon & Schuster”.

LULU GARCIA-NAVARRO, HOST:

It is the blockbuster that has the literary world talking – the potential merger of the huge Simon & Schuster with Penguin Random House, the largest publishing company in the country. But the Authors Guild, the world’s largest organization for writers, have released a statement opposing the deal. Laura Zats is a literary agent and the host of the podcast “Print Run,” and she joins us now to explain why the joining of these two companies might be a cause for concern….

ZATS: Well, I think the big thing to understand is that it’s not just that they’re going to have so much of a market share. But what happens when a single company has a market share is that there’s less competition for who can publish the books, which is really bad for agents – which is what I am – and really bad for writers.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: How so?

ZATS: There are a – as an agent, I submit to a lot of different imprints, a lot of different editors. And, currently, for example, when Penguin and Random House merged in 2013, you could go to auction with those. You could submit, and you could drive up advances, and you could get better terms and – for your writers.

(2) DREAMHAVEN UPDATE. Greg Ketter can still use help, as he noted in a message to a recent donor to the DreamHaven Restoration GoFundMe. (See the November 9 story “DreamHaven Books Owner and Employee Robbed, Beaten”.)

Thank you so much for thinking of us when there are so many people hurting these days.  It’s nice to know people are concerned for us.  It has been a rough year with the riot/break-in, Covid shutdowns, the assault and robbery, but, all-in-all, we’re in much better shape than most.  At least we’re still here.

The easiest ways to help are either ordering books from our website or there is a GoFundMe campaign under “DreamHaven Restoration”.  I actually thought it had ended but when we had the robbery a number of new donations showed up and made me cry all over again.  I’m not used to asking for or accepting help.  But I have learned to be terribly grateful for it once it’s offered.

(3) A HORROR MENTOR. A lot is explained in Odyssey Podcast #133 featuring JG Faherty.

A life-long resident of New York’s haunted Hudson Valley, JG is the author of seven novels, ten novellas, and more than seventy-five short stories, and he’s been a finalist for both the Bram Stoker Award (The Cure, Ghosts of Coronado Bay) and ITW Thriller Award (The Burning Time). He writes adult and YA horror, science fiction, dark fantasy, and paranormal romance, and his works range from quiet, dark suspense to over-the-top comic gruesomeness.

Since 2011, JG has been a Board Trustee for the Horror Writers Association (HWA) and a Mentor. He launched their Young Adult program, and also their Library & Literacy program, which he still runs. Recently, he co-founded the HWA’s Summer Scares reading initiative in conjunction with Becky Spratford and several library organization, and he teaches local teen writing programs at libraries. In 2019, he was recognized with the Mentor of the Year Award by the HWA.

As a child, his favorite playground was a seventeenth-century cemetery, which many people feel explains a lot.

(4) TWO COMPANIONS OUT. Io9 learned that Doctor Who’s Tosin Cole and Bradley Walsh Are Leaving the Show”.

…Whittaker also confirmed the news, saying she was “devastated” to lose Cole and Walsh as costars: “On a personal note, absolutely devastated. Both of them had to carry me to my trailer. I haven’t cried like that for such a long time. Brad couldn’t cope with it at all. Tosin was like, ‘I really can’t cope with you getting this upset.’”

As of now, it’s unclear whether Doctor Who will return to its more traditional pattern of “one Doctor, one companion,” or if new cast members will be added to the series. But for now, it will be a sad but sweet goodbye to one of the show’s greatest father-son teams. Doctor Who’s “Revolution of the Daleks” arrives on January 1, 2021. In addition, the series is entering production for its 13th season, which is set to have eight episodes.

(5) TOP FIVE. Here are The Guardian’s “Best science fiction and fantasy books of 2020”. Some are definitely less jolly than others.

Mordew
by Alex Pheby, Galley Beggar
The Gormenghastly city of Mordew is built on living mud – we discover it’s God’s body, not quite dead – that teems with grotesque and fantastical life. Pheby’s protagonist Nathan rises from the slums to meet a special destiny. It may sound like a cliched storyline, but the relentless inventiveness and verve of Pheby’s imagination make this book stand alone. Startling, baroque, sometimes revolting – but always amazing.

(6) THEY’RE DOOMED. Does James Davis Nicoll have more pitch ideas than Ryan George? I think so… “Four Stories That Subvert the Cosy Catastrophe Genre” at Tor.com.

Given our recent discussion of such tales, I should note that I quite dislike one particular subset of lifeboat stories: the ones in which a small group of plucky pioneers somehow escape the dying Earth and reach a new world they can call their own. But in the meantime, the unlucky masses who could not make their way onto the flotilla die with their homeworld.

Why this distaste? Well…

(7) MEDIA ANNIVERSARY.

  • 2000 — Twenty years ago, Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling would win the World Fantasy Award for their Silver Birch, Blood Moon anthology, the fifth in their Fairy Tale series. (Datlow would later garner a World Fantasy Award for Lifetime Achievement.) If you’re familiar with the work they did with the Year’s Best Fantasy & Horror Anthology series, then you know what to expect here. It’s fine Autumnal reading from the likes of Neil Gaiman, Delia Sherman, Nola Hopkinson, Patricia McKillip and many, many more exemplary writers. Tom Canty provided the cover illustration here as he did for so many of their anthologies. All of the Fairy Tale series are now available from the usual digital suspects. (CE)

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]

  • Born November 30, 1667 – Jonathan Swift.  Timeless for Gulliver’s Travels – because cutting the sharp nasty parts makes it seem a children’s book?  Because readers think it satirizes those stupid people over there?  Anyway, great.  Other work also worth reading.  (Died 1745) [JH]
  • Born November 30, 1893 – E. Everett Evans.  “Triple E” was so big-hearted and so actively that he was loved by fans and pros, large and small.  Four novels, two dozen shorter stories; The Planet Mappers won the annual Boys’ Clubs of America award for most enjoyable book.  Helped found the N3F (Nat’l Fantasy Fed’n), served a term as its President, founding editor of The Nat’l Fantasy Fan.  Co-edited Le Zombie with Tucker – what a combination.  Chaired the first Westercon.  The Big Heart (our highest service award) established at his death, for years bore his name.  (Died 1958) [JH]
  • Born November 30, 1906 John Dickson Carr,. Author of the Gideon Fell detective stories, some of which were decidedly genre adjacent. The Burning Court with Fell is on this list as is his vampire mythos backstoried novels, Three Coffins and He Who Whispers. And I really should note his Sir Henry Merrivale character has at one genre outing in Reader is Warned. (Died 1977.) (CE) 
  • Born November 30, 1937 Ridley Scott, 83. Alien: Covenant which did surprisingly well at the Box Office and has a sixty-five rating among audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes is his most recent genre work of note but he’s got a long and distinguished list that includes the most excellent Blade Runner, Alien, the 1984 Apple advert, Exodus: Gods and Kings , Legend,  Prometheus and yes, Robin Hood. I’ve watched Blade Runner sans the narration and I’ll say I still do prefer the original version. (CE)
  • Born November 30, 1944 – Susan Gubar, Ph.D., age 76.  Leading feminist interested in SF among much else.  Several important essays, some with Susan Gilbert; their Norton Anthology of Literature by Women put them among Ms. magazine’s Women of the Year.  Recently, see SG’s “C.L. Moore and the Conventions of Women’s SF”.  Sandrof Life Achievement Award.  [JH]
  • Born November 30, 1945 Billy Drago. Best remember I think as the evil John Bly in The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr.  He was certainly booked a lot in genre roles as he has appearances in Cyborg 2, Sci-Fighters,  Supernatural and X-Files. He also played the demon Barbas in the original Charmed series. And he was in Tremors 4: The Legend Begins, a film I’m sure no one was begging for. Finally, I note that he was in the Masters of Horror “Imprint” episode, which Showtime pulled due to “disturbing content” which you can read about here. (Died 2019.) (CE) 
  • Born November 30, 1947 David Mamet, 73. Playwright with an interesting genre history. He wrote and produced Frog Prince based off that folktale, and later did a contemporary version of the Faust legend. Not to forget the comic weirdness of The Revenge of the Space Pandas, or Binky Rudich and the Two-Speed Clock. (CE) 
  • Born November 30, 1952 – Jill Eastlake, F.N., age 68.  She and her husband Donald E. Eastlake III are Founding Fellows of NESFA (New England SF Ass’n; service).  Co-chaired Boskone 11, chaired Boskone 15.  Guest of Honor at Rivercon IX.  Reliable, responsible at many tasks.  Her help with costuming earned her the Int’l Costumers Guild Life Achievement Award.  For one Worldcon she telephoned me about judging the Masquerade (our onstage competition); she was the Masq Director; I said “Sure, Jill.”  She said “I want you for one of my Workmanship Judges.”  I said “Jill, I’m not competent to do that.”  She said “Which one of us is running this Masquerade, you or me?”  I think that was the year I crawled underneath two monsters to see how their pipe-frames were fastened.  The other judges said I was okay.  [JH]
  • Born November 30, 1955 Andy Robertson. A fan and editor who worked as an assistant editor on Interzone and contributed myriad reviews and interviews. He published some fiction and edited two anthologies based on the works of William Hope Hodgson’s Night Lands, Volume 1: Eternal Love, featuring tales set in Hodgson’s world, and William Hope Hodgson’s Night Lands Volume 2: Nightmares of the Fall. Alas they were never made into digital editions. (Died 2014.) (CE) 
  • Born November 30, 1955 —  Kevin Conroy, 65. Without doubt, best known for voicing Batman on Batman: The Animated Series which is my Batman. Justice League Action saw him reprise that role with the other characters often noting his stoic personality.  I’ve not seen it, but on Batwoman, he plays Bruce Wayne in the “Crisis on Infinite Earths: Part Two” episode.  Bruce Timm likes his work in the Batman 75th Anniversary Short Batman: Strange Days which is interesting as he only says one word though he grunts nicely.  (CE)
  • Born November 30, 1957 – Martin Morse Wooster, age 63.  Articulate critic and commenter, often seen here and in Banana WingsFantasy ReviewInterzoneMimosa, NY Review of SFQuantumSF Book ReviewSF CommentarySF ReviewThrust.  Contributor to e.g. Magill’s Guide to SF.  Outside our field, see e.g. Angry Classrooms, Empty Minds.  [JH]
  • Born November 30, 1982 – Zach Fehst, age 38.  American Magic was a Library Journal Summer Best Book.  Outside our field, has traveled to three dozen countries, hosted Discovery Channel’s Ultimate Guide to the Awesome; plays electric mandolin, skis on snow and sand.  “Sometimes when I’m feeling hopeless I ask myself what someone with hope would do, and try to do that.”  [JH

(9) COMICS SECTION.

(10) DOONESBURY. In the Washington Post, Michael Cavna uses the occasion of Doonesbury’s 50th anniversary to interview Garry Trudeau about the ten greatest strips of the past 50 years. “As ‘Doonesbury’ turns 50, Garry Trudeau picks his 10 defining strips”. On the list is —

PALM BEACH CARD CONTROVERSY (June 21, 1985)

Palm Beach, Fla., ordinance requires low-wage service employees to register with police and carry ID cards.

Trudeau: The legendary Mary McGrory told me that in all her years of writing columns, she wasn’t sure a single one of them had changed anything. That’s not a bar that cartoonists generally set for themselves, but in the case of my story arc about racist Palm Beach pass cards, the strip did have an impact. Exposure of the apartheid-like ordinance proved so embarrassing to Florida that the state legislature passed a law banning it. It was called the “Doonesbury Bill,” and the governor sent me the signing pen. Still, that’s the exception. Most of the time, expecting satire to make a difference is purely aspirational.

(11) FLAME ON. Hero Within offers a “Comic Con Scented Candle”. Don’t you think everybody on your gift list deserves one?

Are you missing the sights, sounds and experiences of comic cons? How about the smell? To reflect the worst year ever, the world’s worst product of 2020, the Comic Con Scented Candle. Our Hero Within scientist* secretly spent 2019 at conventions collecting the essence of fans and distilled this blend of body odor, old comic books and stale hot dogs into a horrible candle. While not for the faint of heart, it will remind you of being surrounded by a thousand sweaty fans. Makes for a perfect gift but a terrible candle. Order at your own risk.

(12) YOUR CULTURAL COMMENTATOR. [Item by Daniel Dern.] If Bertold Bretcht’s Threepenny Opera were in Klingon, we’d have the song:

“Mek’Leth The Knife”

(13) DOGGING IT. “In the Footprints of the Hound: Why The Hound of the Baskervilles Still Haunts” on CrimeReads, sf writer James Lovegrove, author of the Holmes pastiche The Beast Of The Stapletons explains why The Hound Of The Baskervilles remains one of the scariest novels ever written.

…Yet, as Sherlock Holmes’s closest brush with the supernatural, The Hound of the Baskervilles demonstrates that the Great Detective’s powers are equal to any task, even combating forces that are seemingly beyond our ken. The Hound itself is no common blackmailer or thief or assassin. It is a thing of nightmares, so frightening that the sight of it alone can induce a fatal heart attack in one victim and send another hurtling to his death off a rocky outcrop while fleeing it. It is designed to scare not just characters in the novel but readers too, and when Holmes and Watson at last overcome it, and the artifice behind it stands revealed, our fears are not entirely allayed. This is no Scooby-Doo unmasking moment, when we can laugh as we understand that there was nothing to be afraid of, that the horror was all in our minds. We can’t help but remember that the Hound was trained, and tricked out in phosphorescent paint, and kept half-starved by its owner, for no reason other than to terrify and pursue and kill. It is an embodiment of evil. It is Stapleton’s jealousy, resentment and cruelty made flesh, a canine avatar of avarice.

(14) READ THREE. Camestros Felapton makes me want to read this book! “Review: City of Brass by by S.A. Chakraborty”.

…I’m a bit late starting S.A. Chakraborty’s 2017 fantasy series or, on the otherhand, I’m just in time as the third part of what is now a trilogy was published this year. The novel follows Nahri from Cairo to the magical city of Daevabad where a second point-of-view character awaits, the djinn prince Ali. Pious and idealistic, Ali is second in line to the throne but is torn between his familial duty and his concern for the shafit under-class of the city — the half-human/half-djinn people who are treated unjustly by ruling families. Nor is this the only fracture point in the city…. 

(15) SURVEILLANCE SOCIETY. Archie McPhee calls your attention to the “Lucky Yodelling Christmas Pickle Ornament”, an insidious technology that even Philip K. Dick forgot to predict.

This Yodelling Pickle Ornament yodels when you walk past. That means it’s either a bright, cheerful reminder of pickles and Christmas or an alarm that lets you know when snoopers are investigating their presents. Either way, you need one!

(16) ANOTHER POINTY THING. Damn, they’re breaking out all over the place! “Utah monolith sighting followed in Romania by similar mystery metal object”SYFY Wire has he latest.

Only days after the now-famous first metal monolith was discovered hiding out in the Utah desert, another gleaming slab has now been spotted lurking near an ancient archaeological site in Romania. Early reports don’t reveal much, but British tabloid Daily Mail led the charge today in revealing an early look at the newly-discovered 13-foot obelisk, which reportedly was found on Nov. 26 near an ancient Dacian fortress.

(17) VIDEO OF THE DAY. In “The New Mutants Pitch Meeting” on Screen Rant, Ryan George explains that The New Mutants is a film where one mutant’s chief personality trait is his love of doing dishes and the mutants are in a school “run by one woman with zero security guards.”

[Thanks to Elspeth Kovar, JJ, John Hertz, Mike Kennedy, Cat Eldridge, Andrew Porter, Martin Morse Wooster, Michael Toman,StephenfromOttawa, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day David Shallcross.]

Pixel Scroll 11/23/20 Not One Of These Pixels Will Scry For Me

(1) YOU CONTROL THE HORIZONTAL, YOU CONTROL THE VERTICAL. Adam Whitehead has commentary on the newly announced 2021 Best Video Game Hugo in “Hugo Awards add a video game category for 2021” at The Wertzone. Includes a list of eligible prospects.

…Many, if not most, video games fall into the science fiction or fantasy. Seven years ago, I made a post about video games that engage with their SFF themes in a bit more detail (it’s probably about time I did a follow-up). With video games having been commercially available for forty-five years, and having been more popular than either the film or music mediums for more than twenty years, it is probably past time this move was made. I suspect far more people voting in the Hugos have played an eligible video game in any given year than have read a semiprozine or read a novelette, for example.

Assuming normal rules of eligibility, the following video games would be among those eligible for the award in 2021…

For the announcement, see File 770’s post “Ready Nominator One: Best Video Game Special Hugo Award Category Announced for 2021”.

(2) UNDERAPPRECIATED ARTWORK. Doug Ellis has launched a new series on the art of the Science Fiction Book Club’s bulletin Things to Comeat Black Gate: “The Art of Things to Come, Part 1: 1953-1957”.

… Like tens of thousands of science fiction fans before and after me, I was at one time a member of the Science Fiction Book Club (or SFBC for short). I joined just as I entered my teen years, in the fall of 1976, shortly after I discovered the wonder of science fiction digests.

I remember the bulletin of the SFBC, Things to Come, arriving in our mailbox every month, and eagerly perusing the offerings to see if I wanted grab any of the featured selections or alternates, or something from the backlist. The SFBC purchase I most vividly recall reading was the Isaac Asimov edited anthology, Before the Golden Age, which was filled with great stories as well as fascinating biographical material by Asimov on his early days as a fan. Other favorite volumes include Leigh Brackett’s The Book of Skaith, Damon Knight’s Science Fiction of the Thirties and The Futurians, Frederik Pohl’s The Early Pohl, Frank Herbert’s Duneseries and Edgar Rice Burroughs’ Mars books, among many others. I remained a member through college before finally letting my membership lapse.

One of the benefits of being a member of the SFBC was receiving their bulletin, Things to Come. While the art inside sometimes just reproduced the dust jacket art, in many cases the art was created solely for the bulletin, and was not used in the book or anywhere else. Because one can never collect enough things, I gradually started collecting back issues of Things to Come for the art, particularly for the art of Virgil Finlay which began appearing in the bulletin in 1959. In 2005, I gathered those Finlay illos from the bulletins that I’d collected and published a small press booklet, Virgil Finlay: The Art of Things to Come.

(3) CONSENSUS 2019 HIGH FANTASY. [Item by Eric Wong.] Rocket Stack Rank has posted its annual Outstanding High Fantasy of 2019, with 35 stories that were that were finalists for major SF/F awards, included in “year’s best” SF/F anthologies, or recommended by prolific reviewers in short fiction.

Included are some observations obtained from highlighting specific recommenders and pivoting the table by publication, author, awards, year’s best anthologies, and reviewers.

As for RSR, we recommended 13 stories (2 award worthy), were neutral on 17 stories, and only recommended against 5 stories (view by RSR rating).

(4) STATE OF THE ART. “Sci-fi’s Elizabeth Bear on Diversity, Mental Health, and Queers in Space” in a wide-ranging PopMatters interview.

…Bear is attentive to gender diversity in her work, incorporating not only female-identified protagonists but also gender fluid and non-binary characters. Given the fuss that contemporary politicians still make against efforts to render public discourse more inclusive in that respect, Bear’s efforts are especially useful in revealing how easy and natural the incorporation of non-binary pronouns and ideas can be. (See “Can a Bill Have a Gender? Feminine Wording Exposes a Rift”, by Christopher F. SchuetzeThe New York Times, 15 October 2020.)

“The first author who I ever consciously was aware of putting a non-gendered character into their books was Vonda McIntyre in Dreamsnake [1978]. Vonda did it by just never using pronouns for that character. I didn’t realize it until the third or fourth time I reread the book! I went like, ‘Wait a minute. Oh!’

“And then I started thinking about that. I have friends who identify as non-binary, I have trans friends, and it’s just common politeness. It’s like using somebody’s preferred form of their name. I mean obviously everybody makes mistakes, sometimes you don’t know what a person’s pronouns are. I’ve been trying to default to neutral pronouns until I know what the preferred ones are, which also offends some people, but you got to pick a hill to die on, I guess. Again, it’s a thing that just reflects the world as it is, rather than reflecting the world through a series of stereotypes that we’ve been told to expect as normal.

“I grew up in a queer family, steeped in the queer culture of the 1980s which was very gendered and not particularly trans-friendly, so I guess I started interrogating a lot of that at an earlier age than a lot of my peers. The first time I was consciously aware of having a friend who was trans was in my mid-twenties, I had a friend who transitioned. The thing happened that I think happens to everyone when a friend comes out to them–they realize that it’s not a big deal. I mean you can be a horrible bigot and make it a big deal, but that person is still your friend, or your relative, or your child, or your parent, or whatever it is that they are.

“What I realized at that point was that we as a culture were incredibly hung up on gender and enforcing gender stereotypes on people. This would have been in the mid-’90s, when everything was frickin’ pink and blue. In the ’70s and ’80s, when I was a kid, stuff was much less gendered. Everybody played with the same Legos and the same Lincoln Logs. There were some girl toys and some boy toys, but mostly there were just toys. By the time my friends were having kids, it was all either girl toys or boy toys. So that extreme gendering of things–it’s a natural reaction to push back against that.

“The real strength of my generation of science fiction writers, and the current generation of science fiction writers…is that we are much more diverse. And much more global. A lot of that is technology, obviously. I can text a friend in Paris, France and have an hour-long conversation with them for free and only pay for it by putting up with advertising, you know? So those connections are much stronger. That diversity of voices is incredibly, incredibly useful and is creating a much broader and more heterogeneous field than we previously had.”

(5) ALSO SPRACH UTAH. “Helicopter pilot finds ‘strange’ monolith in remote part of Utah”Yahoo! News has the story.

A mysterious monolith has been discovered in a remote part of Utah, after being spotted by state employees counting sheep from a helicopter.

The structure, estimated at between 10ft and 12ft high (about 3 metres), appeared to be planted in the ground. It was made from some sort of metal, its shine in sharp contrast to the enormous red rocks which surrounded it.

…Hutchings said the object looked manmade and appeared to have been firmly planted in the ground, not dropped from the sky.

“I’m assuming it’s some new wave artist or something or, you know, somebody that was a big 2001: A Space Odyssey fan,” Hutchings said.

(6) AI AI OH! [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In the November 14 Financial Times, Tom Faber profiles multimedia artist Lawrence Lek, whose work includes sf tropes.

The first film in the (Sinofuturism) series was showing that night (in 2017) at Corsica Studios.  Made in 2016, Sinofuturism (1839-2046 AD) draws parallels between western stereotypes of Chinese culture (such as computing, copying, and cheap labour) and our anxieties about the rise of artificial intelligence.  Its 2017 follow-up, Geomancer, uses game-like digital simulation to spin a wilder narrative about a sentient weather satellite about a sentient weather satellite which longs to be an artist.

With his newest work AIDOL (a play on “AI” and “Idol”) which debuted at Gallery Sadie Coles HQ last year, Lek sets his sights on the music industry.  The year is 2065, and in Malaysia waning pop star Diva enlists an AI ghostwriter to help her mount a comeback show at the eSports video game Olympics.

(7) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

  • November 23, 1963 Doctor Who premiered with “An Unearthly Child”.  Starring William Hartnell as the First Doctor plus His Companions played by Carole Ann Ford as Susan Foreman, Jacqueline Hill as Barbara Wright and William Russell as Ian Chesterton. It was directed by Waris Hussein, with Verity Lambert and Mervyn Pinfield as producers. The story was written by Anthony Coburn and C. E. Webber. Most contemporary critics were pleased by “An Unearthly Child” but Variety oddly thought it had to be more realistic.  It has a respectable seventy percent rating among audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes. (CE)

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]

  • Born November 23, 1863 – Katharine Pyle.  Author, illustrator, poet.  A dozen books for us; at least fifty in all, some children’s.  Collected and retold fairy tales.  Poems and drawings for The Wonder Clock by her brother Howard.  Local history for children, Once Upon a Time in Delaware.  Here is The Counterpane Fairy.  This is for Granny’s Wonderful Chair.  This is for As the Goose Flies.  For Tales from Norse Mythology see here.  (Died 1938) [JH]
  • Born November 23, 1908 – Nelson Bond.  Four novels, a hundred fifty shorter stories – at which he was masterly: not least Lancelot Biggs, Spaceman; Meg, the priestess who rebelled; Pat Pending, who – yes.  Also radio & television.  Philatelist.  Rare-book dealer.  Correspondent of James Branch Cabell(“Tell the rabble my name is Cabell”).  Nebula Author Emeritus.  (Died 2006) [JH]
  • Born November 23, 1914 – Wilson “Bob” Tucker.  Mostly Wilson to the world – two dozen novels, as many shorter stories – mostly Bob to us.  Among our great fanwriters.  Le Zombie (so named after several Tucker Death Hoaxes) and then e-Zombie ran fifty years.  Fan Guest of Honor at Torcon I the 6th Worldcon and NyCon 3 the 25th.  A Hugo and a Retrospective Hugo as Best Fanwriter.  Often a toastmaster.  Coined “space opera”.  Tuckerization, putting into fiction the names (or nearly, like “Mike Glider”) or descriptions of people the author knows, or who won the privilege in some fannish fund-raiser, is named for him.  You can see four editions of his Neo-Fan’s Guide here, including one Our Gracious Host helped produce.  SF Commentary 43 (PDF) is the Tucker Issue; No. 79 (PDF) is the Tucker Issue, Second Edition; No. 80 (PDF) has many appreciations including mine.  (Died 2006) [JH]
  • Born November 23, 1916 Michael Gough. Best known for his roles in the Hammer Horror Films from the late Fifties and for his recurring role as Alfred Pennyworth in all four films of the Tim Burton / Joel Schumacher Batman series. His Hammer Horror Films saw him cast usually as the evil, and I mean EVIL! Not to mention SLIMY, villain in such films as Horrors of the Black MuseumThe Phantom of the OperaThe Corpse and Horror Hospital, not to overlook Satan’s Slave. In Doctor Who, Gough appeared as the villain in “The Celestial Toymaker” (1966) and then again as Councilor Hedin in “Arc of Infinity” (1983). He also played Dr. Armstrong in “The Cybernauts” in The Avengers (1965) returning the very next season as the Russian spymaster Nutski in “The Correct Way to Kill”. Gough worked for Tim Burton again in 1999’s Sleepy Hollow and later voice Elder Gutknecht in Corpse Bride. He would mostly retire that year from performing though he would voice later that Corpse Bride role and the Dodo in Burton’s Alice in Winderland. (Died 2011.) (CE) 
  • Born November 23, 1927 – Guy Davenport, Ph.D.  His being given the Introduction to Davidson’s unparalleled “Or All the Seas With Oysters” in The Avram Davidson Treasury will give you a clue.  His dissertation, on Ezra Pound – there’s a complicated man – was published as Cities on Hills.  While a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford, studied Old English under Tolkien.  Translated Heraclitus, Diogenes, Sappho, Anacreon.  About his collection Tatlin! (which he illustrated; no, not gossip, this one) see here.  (Died 2005) [JH]
  • Born November 23, 1951 David Rappaport. I remember him best as Randall, the leader of the gang of comically inept dwarves in Time Bandits who steal the map to Universe. I’m reasonably sure that it’s the only thing he’ll be remembered for of a genre nature having looked up his other works and found them to be decidedly minor in nature. Most of them such as The Bride, a low budget horror film, were artistic and commercial disasters. It is said that his death by suicide in 1990 is one of the reasons cited by Gilliam for there not being a sequel to Time Bandits. (Died 1990.) (CE) 
  • Born November 23, 1955 Steven Brust, 65. Of Hungarian descendant, something that figures into his fiction which he says is neither fantasy nor SF. He is perhaps best known for his novels about the assassin Vlad Taltos, one of a scorned group of humans living on a world called Dragaera. All are great reads.  His recent novels also include The Incrementalists and its sequel The Skill of Our Hands, with co-author Skyler White. Both are superb. His finest novel? Brokedown Palace. Oh, just go read it. It’s amazing. And no, I don’t love everything he’s done. I wrote a scathing scathing reviewing of Cowboy Feng’s Space Bar and Grille and he told us at Green Man that he might be the only person who liked the novel. Freedom & Necessity with Emma Bull is decidedly different but good none the less and his Firefly novel, My Own Kind of Freedom, stays true to that series. He’s quite the musician too with two albums with Cats Laughing, a band that includes Emma Bull, Jane Yolen (lyrics) and others. The band in turn shows up in Marvel comics. A Rose For Iconoclastes is his solo album and “The title, for those who don’t know, is a play off the brilliant story by Roger Zelazny, “A Rose For Ecclesiastes,” which you should read if you haven’t yet. Quoting him again, “’Songs From The Gypsy’ is the recording of a cycle of songs I wrote with ex-Boiled-in-Lead guitarist Adam Stemple, which cycle turned into a novel I wrote with Megan Lindholm, one of my favorite writers.” The album and book are quite amazing! (CE) 
  • Born November 23, 1960 – John Bunnell, 60.  Nine short stories.  Book reviews in three incarnations of Amazing; also Dragon.  When the English translation of The Name of the Rose came out, he told role-playing gamers “For all its erudite trappings and intimidating size… a tension-filled tale of precisely the sort that referees are so fond of weaving into gaming campaigns.”  True.  [JH]
  • Born November 23, 1966 Michelle Gomez, 54. Best known genre role is as playing Missy, a female version of The Master on Doctor Who from 2014 to 2017, for which she was nominated for the 2016 BAFTA TV Award for Best Supporting Actress. I admit having grown up with Roger Delgado as The Master so later performers playing this role took a bit of getting used to but she made a fine one.  She is also Mary Wardwell in The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, and she plays Talia Bauerin in Highlander: The Raven which apparently is a very short-live spinoff from the Highlander series. Finally, she shows up in the Gotham series for two episodes simply as The Lady. (CE) 
  • Born November 23, 1967 Salli Richardson-Whitfield, 53. Best known genre role is as Dr. Allison Blake on Eureka which apparently in syndication is now called A Town Called Eureka. H’h? I’m reasonably sure her first genre role was as Fenna / Nidell in the “Second Sight” of Deep Space Nine but charmingly voiced Eliza Mazda,  the main human character, on the Gargoyles series!  She’s shows up as character named Dray’auc in “Bloodlines” on Stargate Sg-1 and had a role on a series called Secret Agent Man that may or may have existed. She’s was Maggie Baptiste in Stitchers, a series that lasted longer than I expected it would. (CE)
  • Born November 23, 1970 Oded Fehr, 50. Actor from Israel whose most well-known genre roles are as the mysterious warrior Ardeth Bay in The Mummy and The Mummy Returns, and as Carlos Oliveira (or his clone) in three of the Resident Evil films: ApocalypseExtinction, and Retribution. (His Mummy roles no doubt led to his casting in voice roles in Scooby-Doo in Where’s My Mummy? and as The Living Mummy in the animated Ultimate Spider-Man and Hulk and the Agents of S.M.A.S.H.) On Charmed, he played the demon Zankou, the main villain of the show’s seventh season. He’s had an impressively long list of appearances on TV series, including recurring roles on Once Upon A Time, StitchersV, and The First, a series about the first mission to Mars. He has also voiced characters on numerous other animated features and series. (CE) 
  • Born November 23, 1979 – Rachel Hawkins, 41.  Nine novels, two shorter stories.  “Taught high school English for three years, and … still capable of teaching you The Canterbury Tales if you’re into that kind of thing.”  Married to a geologist.  [JH]

(9) SOME FREE READS. Marvel is ramping up to a December release — encouraging some pre-reading by making it free reading.

Starting today, Marvel Unlimited, Marvel’s award-winning digital comics subscription service, is preparing for the King In Black! To celebrate the highly anticipated arrival of Marvel’s next epic comic event in December, Marvel Unlimited is unlocking access to the first five issues of Venom and the first two issues of Absolute Carnage – all FREE for fans everywhere, no subscription required.

To read these free issues, fans only need to download the Marvel Unlimited app, available on iPhone®iPad® and select Android™ devices, and dive right in. Venom #1-5 (2018) and Absolute Carnage #1-2 (2019) will be available today through December 14. Download the app and enjoy these issues today!

… A threat years in the making, Knull’s death march across the galaxy finally hits Earth in KING IN BLACK—with an army of thousands of symbiote dragons at his beck and call. Eddie Brock, AKA Venom, has seen firsthand the chaos that even one of Knull’s symbiotic monsters can wreak—will he survive an encounter with the God of the Abyss himself?

(10) FOSTER, A FURRY INSPIRATION. Patch O’Furr looks into a special corner of the big story — furry fan ties with Alan Dean Foster’s loved original series Spellsinger, and how it was optioned for a movie: “#DisneyMustPay Alan Dean Foster — A fight with furry fandom influence” at Dogpatch Press.

First published in 1983-1987, Alan Dean Foster’s Spellsinger fantasy series struck a chord for a burgeoning fandom. It features a law student, Jon-Tom, with janitor work and rock and roll dreams. He wakes up in a strange land after smoking something weird to escape mundanity, where he meets a rabble-rousing otter (Mudge) and turtle wizard (Clothahump). His new talking-animal world sets a stage for learning to channel magic with music… but only once per song. Playing Pink Floyd’s Money on his “Duar” guitar can solve a problem once… if he even gets it right.

Loaded with epic fantasy, humor, cartoonish characters, and even moments to make an imaginative reader read extra hard (hot tiger-women and gay unicorns!) — It was the right kind of story that reached the right fans at the right time. The animals weren’t just for kids; they drank, stabbed, screwed, and swore! It made me a 90’s furry before I knew there was a fandom for it.

Foster’s writing was pure fun, spiked with a threat of apocalyptic invasion and a race to defeat it in classic quest mode. I’d assume this was mid-list bookstore fare; not bestselling but solid original work for a productive author. Bigger pay would come with franchise adaptations — his novels for Star Wars, the Aliens movies, and Star Trek.

Making canon work for such big properties should earn secure income for a challenging career of genre writing. That is, if Disney would honor what Lucasfilm agreed to owe, after they acquired the company in 2012 for several billion dollars….

(11) UP ABOVE THE WORLD SO HIGH. “Bruce” the fiberglass shark from Jaws is now a museum exhibit – although floating on air he looks more like a tribute to Sharknado.

 The Academy Museum of Motion Pictures completed installation of one of the most iconic objects from its permanent collection, the only surviving full scale shark model from the 1975 Oscar®-winning film Jaws. This moment signals exciting momentum toward the Academy Museum’s much-anticipated opening on April 30,2021, where the 25-foot model (nicknamed “Bruce the Shark”) will be on view, free to the public. Jaws, directed by Steven Spielberg, won Oscars® for Film Editing, Sound and Original Score, and was nominated for Best Picture at the 48th Academy Awards® in 1976. 

… The monumental model is the fourth, final, and only surviving version of the shark model derived from the original Jaws mold. The creation of the infamous mechanical shark—which Spielberg is rumored to have named “Bruce” after his lawyer—was tasked to art director Joe Alves, whose original schematics depict the 25-foot long body, 400-pound head, and jaws nearly five feet wide. The three screen-used production molds cast in latex and rubber rotted and were destroyed. The Academy Museum’s version, cast in fiberglass for photo opportunities at Universal Studios Hollywood surrounding the film’s 1975 release, survived at Universal until 1990 when it found its way to Nathan Adlen’s family’s junkyard business in Sun Valley, California. In 2010, it was authenticated by Roy Arbogast, a member of the original Jaws film’s special effects crew, and in 2016, the Academy Museum acquired the shark model through a contribution by Nathan Adlen. The museum worked with special effects and make-up artist Greg Nicotero, co-founder of KNB EFX, to meticulously restore the fiberglass shark which had deteriorated from being outdoors for 25 years. 

(12) BUT LEADING UP TO WHAT? “Trader Joe’s Is Selling an Advent Calendar for Cats This Year”Taste of Home is sure this product will give your cat a religious experience.

…You will find 25 soft treats for your feline friend. The snacks are made of antibiotic-free Atlantic salmon and dried seaweed, according to the packaging. You can rest assured knowing that your cat will be enjoying high-quality ingredients. Plus, the drawings on the front of the calendar are just too cute.

(13) VIDEO OF THE DAY. In “Back To The Future Pitch Meeting” on ScreenRant, Ryan George says this is a special episode because his whole idea for pitch meetings happened because of a sketch by John Mulaney about how wild a pitch meeting for Back To The Future would be.

[Thanks to Martin Morse Wooster, Cat Eldridge, JJ, Doug Ellis, Michael Toman, Mike Kennedy, John King Tarpinian, Andrew Porter, Patch O’Furr, and John Hertz for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]

Pixel Scroll 11/16/20 The Sith Who Sang

(1) UNPREDICTABLE QUESTIONS. On the 50th anniversary of the Merril Collection of Science Fiction, Speculation & Fantasy, the Toronto Public Library blog quizzes a trio of workers about their favorite memories: “Merril Collection at 50: Stories from the Spaced Out Library”. This is a wonderful Q&A.

The year 2020 will go down in history for many reasons. It also happens to be a major milestone for Toronto Public Library’s most far-out collection. In 1970, science-fiction author and editor Judith Merril donated 5,000 books to TPL to found the “Spaced Out Library.”

…To help mark the 50th anniversary of the Merril Collection, I asked Lorna Toolis (former Collection Head), Annette Mocek (Services Specialist) and Kimberly Hull (Librarian) to reflect on their favourite items and stories from the stacks. Together, they have 88.5 years of experience working with the collection! … 

What is the strangest or most memorable patron request you ever received?

Lorna: On my first day of work, a patron ran in and demanded “that book you have on UFOs, with the chart so that people can distinguish between the ones with round lights and the ones with square lights.” Other memorable questions included the Madonna of Lourdes as a UFO phenomenon, the possibility of pregnancy for vampires, Victorian era fiction involving carnivorous plants, transhumanism, etc. A recurring favourite question was the quest for H.P. Lovecraft’s Necronomicon. Apocryphal books were always in demand. 

People tend not to remember the authors or titles of short stories. More patrons than I could count over the years wanted to know the title of the short story where someone travels back in time to hunt a dinosaur and kills a butterfly and everything changes. “The Sound of Thunder” by Ray Bradbury was probably the most requested short story ever. 

(2) YOUR TV GUIDE. [Item by Daniel Dern.] Season 2 of HBO’s His Dark Materials starts tonight, Monday November 16.

I liked Season 1. My question: Will Lin-Manuel Miranda, playing rifle-packing aeronaut/balloonist Lee Scoreseby, get to sing, or at least say that he is not going to miss his shot?

(3) PKD THOUGHTS AND THEMES. Arthur B. analyzes the final novels and stories [Philip K.] Dick wrote from 1967 until “his transformative 2-3-74 experience” in “A Maze of Dick” at Fake Geek Boy. Quite interesting.

…This does not include A Scanner Darkly, which is properly placed among the novels written after 2-3-74; although begun in 1972, Dick would make extensive revisions to it until it was finally in a state he was satisfied with in 1976, and among those revisions were a number of additions and tweaks which worked in themes and imagery related to 2-3-74.

The Exegesis makes this explicit: Dick breaks down particular, identifiable scenes from A Scanner Darkly and directly says that he included them as a result of the experience, rather than those scenes informing the experience, and included them in a manner which was conscious and deliberate, as opposed to the inadvertent subconscious inclusion of such themes in pre-2-3-74 fiction which he occasionally believed had happened. (Those of us with more conventional understandings of cause and effect may instead conclude that the 2-3-74 experience, being a neurological incident produced by Dick’s mind, naturally ended up reflecting the themes and concepts that Dick had been thinking extensively about over his lifetime.)…

(4) BISHOP MEDICAL UPDATE. Michael Bishop shared about his cancer treatment in a public Facebook post on November 13. Much more at the link.

Had my first immunotherapy infusion yesterday at Emory University Hospital Midtown. No side effects yet, and I feel better this morning than I did yesterday morning. Even if it’s my imagination, I’m grateful….

One predictable side effect of my therapy, Dr. Read had told us, is a palpable energy deficit, and although it seemed too early for any such effect to kick in, I was totally dragged out by the time we got home. So I hit our bed upstairs and slept for almost two hours. All in all, a happy 75th birthday indeed.

(5) IN WORK TO COME. Editor Diana M. Pho introduces a WIRED Magazine series in “6 Sci-Fi Writers Imagine the Beguiling, Troubling Future of Work”.

…Today’s collaborative tension between humans and machines is not a binary divide between master and servant—who overthrows whom—but a question of integration and its social and ethical implications. Instead of creating robots to perform human labor, people build apps to mechanize human abilities. Working from anywhere, we are peppered with bite-sized names that fit our lives into bite-sized bursts of productivity. Zoom. Slack. Discord. Airtable. Notion. Clubhouse. Collaboration means floating heads, pop-up windows, chat threads. While apps give us more freedom and variety in how we manage our time, they also seem to reduce our personalities to calculations divided across various digital platforms. We run the risk of collaborating ourselves into auto-automatons.

First up, “‘Work Ethics,’ by Yudhanjaya Wijeratne”.

“SO YOU’RE TELLING me we’re going to be automated out of existence,” Romesh said. “I’m telling you that what you’re doing is wrong, wrong, wrong, and if you had any morals you’d shoot yourself.”

The complaint was made in a bar that was mostly cigarette smoke by this point, and to a circle of friends that, having gathered for their quarterly let’s-meet-up-and-catch-up thing, had found each other just as tiresome as before. Outside, the city of Colombo was coming to a crawl of traffic lights and halogen, the shops winking out, one by one, as curfew regulations loomed. Thus the drunken ruminations of Romesh Algama began to seem fundamentally less interesting….

(6) SUPPORT SUSAN PETREY SCHOLARSHIPS. Organizers Debbie Cross and Paul M. Wrigley are holding a fundraiser through eBay for the Susan Petrey Clarion Scholarship Fund, which has been helping people attend Clarion and the Clarion West Writer’s Workshops since 1982.

At present we award two scholarships & one fellowship annually. Our biggest fund raiser is at the OryCon science fiction convention which should have been held this past weekend. Instead we are running an Ebay auction with books, glass & jewelry,  many quilted items & artwork. The link is below, the auction runs through  Friday. We’ll ship everything but pickup in Troutdale is available.

100% goes to the charity.

 (7) MEET MARVEL’S CREATORS. Marvel’s Storyboards season 2 premieres today on their YouTube channel.

Marvel’s Storyboards is a 12-episode non-fiction series following Joe Quesada, EVP, Creative Director of Marvel Entertainment, as he explores the origin stories and inspirations of storytellers of all mediums, backgrounds, and experiences at their favorite spots throughout New York City and beyond. The series aired its first six-episode season this past summer, and continuing this second season, will showcase a variety of visionary, critically acclaimed storytellers including Sasheer Zamata (actress, stand-up comedian and former SNL), Ed Viesturs (high-altitude mountaineer), Nelson Figueroa (former MLB pitcher for the New York Mets), Gillian Jacobs (Community, Love), Samhita Mukhopadhyay (Executive Editor, Teen Vogue), and Taboo (Black Eyed Peas), adding to the first season’s featured guests Natalia Cordova-Buckley (Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.), Bobby Lopez (EGOT winning songwriter, Frozen, Avenue Q), Johnny Weir (former Olympic figure skater), Christian Borle (Something Rotten, Smash), Margaret Stohl (Life of Captain Marvel), and Hugh Jackman (Wolverine).

Marvel’s Storyboards Season 2 Episode Release Schedule:

  • Monday, November 16: Episode 1 feat. Gillian Jacobs
  • Friday, November 20: Episode 2 feat. Sasheer Zamata
  • Tuesday, November 24: Episode 3 feat. Samhita Mukhopadhyay
  • Tuesday, December 1: Episode 4 feat. Nelson Figueroa
  • Tuesday, December 8: Episode 5 feat. Taboo
  • Tuesday, December 15: Episode 6 feat. Ed Viesturs

(8) MEDIA ANNIVERSARY.

  • 1975 — Forty five years ago, Patricia McKillip’s Forgotten Beasts of Eld would win the World Fantasy Award over Poul Anderson’s A Midsummer Tempest and H. Warner Munn‘s Merlin’s Ring.  It would the nominated for the Locus Best SF Novel and the Mythopoeic Fantasy Award as well. The wrap-around cover art was by Peter Schaumann. (CE)

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]

  • Born November 16, 1862 – Edith Ogden Harrison.  Five novels, half a dozen collections, of fairy tales and other fantasy; retold Bible stories; travel; recollections.  Wife of five-term Chicago mayor, illustrated his memoirs.  The Lady of the Snows illustrated by J. Allen St. John.  (Died 1955) [JH]
  • Born November 16, 1907 Burgess Meredith. Brief though his visit to genre be, he had two significant roles. The first was in Twilight Zone: The Movie as Narrator although initially he was uncredited. One of his other genre roles was a delightful take as The Penguin in original Batman series. He also shows up in Tales of Tomorrow, an anthology sf series that was performed and broadcast live on ABC from 1951 to 1953, and on The InvadersThe Twilight ZoneFaerie Tale Theatre: Thumbelina (with Carrie Fisher!) and The Wild Wild West. Did I mention he he voiced Puff the Magic Dragon in a series of the same name? Well he did.  Ok, so his visit to genre wasn’t so brief after all… (Died 1997.) (CE)
  • Born November 16, 1942 – Milt Stevens.  Co-chaired L.A.con II the 42nd Worldcon, Westercon 33, and the first Loscon.  Fan Guest of Honor at Loscon 9, Westercon 61.  Among our finest fanwriters, in his own zine The Passing Parade and many letters of comment.  Our Gracious Host’s appreciation here.  Mine here (PDF; p. 7).  (Died 2017) [JH]
  • Born November 16, 1950 – P.J. Evans, 70.  A frequent Filer (which tested my typo-avoiding powers).  Her adventures on an electric bendy-bus have been reported elsewhere.  Her many other adventures in fandom I have not found documented, and I won’t rely on memory.  I think they included Reynolds Rat and Rat Masterson.  [JH]
  • Born November 16, 1952 Candas Jane Dorsey, 68. Canadian writer who’s the winner of the Prix Aurora Award and the Otherwise Award for Genre Bending SF for her Black Wine novel. She’s also won a Prix Aurora Award for her short story, “Sleeping in a Box”.  She’s one of the founders of SF Canada which was founded as an authors collective in the late Eighties as Canada’s National Association of Speculative Fiction Professionals. At the present time, she appears to have little available from the usual digital suspects. (CE) 
  • Born November 16, 1958 Marg Helgenberger, 61. She’s best remembered no doubt as Catherine Willows on CSI which might be treated as genre. She was Hera in the recent Wonder Woman, and also appeared in Conan: Red Nail which doesn’t even get ratings on Rotten Tomatoes, Species and Species II, not to mention Tales from the Crypt. Oh, and two Stephen King series as well, The Tommyknockers and Under the Dome. (CE) 
  • Born November 16, 1972 Missi Pyle, 48. Laliari in Galaxy Quest which is one of my fav SF films of all time. Let’s hope that a series never comes to be.  She’s also has been in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Percy Jackson: Sea of MonstersA Haunted House 2Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle, Star Trek: The Next Generation,  RoswellThe TickPushing Daisies and Z Nation. (CE) 
  • Born November 16, 1959 – Jessica Rydill, 61.  Five novels, three shorter stories.  Here is her own cover for Malarat (there are other editions too).  In Winterbloom actual historical figures appear, including John Dee, whom I’ve always thought more interesting than Aleister Crowley, but what do I know?  With Cora Buhlert, edits Speculative Fiction Showcase.  [JH]
  • Born November 16, 1972 – Tobe Sunaho, 48.  (Her personal name last, Japanese style.)  Illustrator and character designer.  Here is Yurusa reshi itsuwari (“Forgiven and False”).  Here is Riviera.  Here are some images from Yggdra Unison (or Union).  Here is a Halloween greeting.  Here is an image from Shiueru’s Web.  [JH]
  • Born November 16, 1976 Lavie Tidhar, 44. The first work I read by him was Central Station which was the2017 John W. Campbell Memorial Award for Best Science Fiction Novel winner. It certainly deserved that accolade! The next work by him I experienced was The Bookman Histories in which Mycroft Holmes is murdered and, well, everything of a pulp nature gets tossed into alternate history England.  Both brilliant and annoying at times. I’ve just read Unholy Land, his telling of the founding of a Jewish homeland long ago in Africa, and I’ve got By Force Alone, his profane Arthurian retelling, on my TBR list. (CE) 
  • Born November 16, 1977 Gigi Edgley, 43. Though her genre experiences are varied, I think she’ll be only remembered for her role as Chiana, a Nebari who was a member of Moya’s crew on Farscape. Other genre appearances include BeastmasterThe Lost WorldQuantum Apocalypse and she has a role in the video fanfic Star Trek Continues in the “Come Not Between the Dragons” episode. (CE) 
  • Born November 16, 1988 – Samantha Bailly, 32.  Six novels for us, three shorter stories; nine other novels, three collections, manga.  Imaginales de Lycéens prize for her first novel Oraisons (French, “prayers”) at age 19.  [JH]

(10) COMICS SECTION.

  • Broom Hilda almost immolates some visitors to a small planet.

(11) TA-NEHISI COATES’ BLACK PANTHER RUN RETURNS. Ta-Nehisi Coates resumes his run on Black Panther in February. Featuring outstanding art by Daniel Acuña and Ryan Bodenheim, Black Panther #23 will continue to reveal Coates’ grand vision for the character of King T’Challa and the Kingdom of Wakanda.

Since taking over as writer in 2016, the acclaimed author has taken Black Panther and Wakanda to the stars and beyond. Across the multiverse, T’Challa discovered an alternate Wakanda, one ruled far differently than his own. Having abandoned their once peaceful ways, this Intergalactic Empire of Wakanda will stop at nothing to rule all of the cosmos. After initially being enslaved by the empire and then joining a rebellion against it, T’Challa has finally made his way back to Earth, but this twisted reflection of Wakanda is not far behind…

…Said editor Wil Moss, “I promise, these last three issues will be worth the wait — Ta-Nehisi and Daniel have been building to this finale for over two years now, and the ensuing battle between the forces of T’Challa’s Wakanda and Emperor N’Jadaka’s Intergalactic Empire is going to knock your socks off! Just wait’ll you see who shows up to help defend Wakanda…”

(12) NOT MANDALORIAN RFD. Yahoo! Life invites everyone to “Watch Bryce Dallas Howard’s sweet homage to her dad in last week’s Mandolorian”. (Luckily my first thought was wrong, that we were going to see a green Opie.)

This weekend, Baby Yoda wasn’t the only endearing Child of a doting father to turn up on The Mandalorian. Episode director Bryce Dallas Howard took the opportunity to remind the world—well, at least to remind Apollo 13 fans—that she, like Baby “The Child” Yoda, has a dad.

…Given the opportunity to pay a little homage to one of her dad’s better-known flicks, it seems that Bryce Dallas Howard couldn’t resist. And yes, technically this is her second go-round as one of The Mandolorian’s directors, but here she was given a chance to nod to Apollo 13 in a way that’s absolutely suited to the story she was telling. Miss the reference and it’s still a cool sequence.

(13) GIVE OR TAKE A COUPLE YEARS. Jacke Wilson’s The History of Literature podcast arrives at last at “The Real Golden Age of Science Fiction”.

In Part Two of our look at great literary genres, Jacke probes the development of science fiction, from ancient Greek travels to the moon to the amazing stories of the 20th century. Along the way, he chooses four candidates for the Mount Rushmore of Science Fiction, reads a passage from science fiction’s O.G., and sees if there is a secret to science fiction that he can discover.

Jacke Wilson: …[Hugo Gernsback] had a tumultuous career as a publisher and a lousy reputation in the industry. Writers couldn’t stand him. They thought he ripped them off. They thought he was a crook. He was a little sleazy. He didn’t pay writers well and he stole their rights. He himself tried writing stories and the results were not good. But his magazine, that first magazine especially, Amazing Stories, was transformative. There’s no denying that the stories in the magazine are what launched the genre as we know it today. These magazine stories led to the Golden Age of Science Fiction. They were there for a whole generation of young people to discover.

That’s sort of the joke about the Golden Age of Science Fiction. They say, what’s the Golden Age of Science Fiction? Answer: 14. Get it? We call the ’30s and ’40s and ’50s the Golden Age as magazines thrilled readers with stories about space travel and time travel and nuclear power and everything else. And this was the era of World War II and the Cold War, and we had Sputnik and all of that to fill the need of science, fill the gap that that our confusion and fear about the world was putting into place thanks to our existential threat. Well, science was there to fill that gap, and science stories were there, too.

But 14 is the Golden Age. That’s what people say when they tell this joke. The Golden Age is that these stories hit you when you’re 14, when you’re looking for answers, looking to absorb reality, looking to make sense of it, and looking for something else, too—which is what I’ll save until the end.

(14) STATION-TO-STATION. “SpaceX launches 2nd crew, regular station crew flights begin” – the AP has the story.

SpaceX launched four astronauts to the International Space Station on Sunday on the first full-fledged taxi flight for NASA by a private company.

The Falcon rocket thundered into the night from Kennedy Space Center with three Americans and one Japanese, the second crew to be launched by SpaceX. The Dragon capsule on top — named Resilience by its crew in light of this year’s many challenges, most notably COVID-19 — reached orbit nine minutes later. It is due to reach the space station late Monday and remain there until spring.

(15) NEW WONDER. Maria Andreeva, in the Deadline story “‘Wonder Girl’ TV Series With Latina Lead From Dailyn Rodriguez & Berlanti Productions In Works At the CW” says that “Wonder Girl,” based on characters developed by Joelle Jones for DC Comics, is currently in development at the CW.,

…This would mark the first Latina superhero title character of a DC TV series. Rodriguez, who is the daughter of Cuban immigrants, is executive producing with Berlanti Prods.’ Greg Berlanti, Sarah Schechter and David Madden. Berlanti Productions produces in association with Warner Bros. Television.

The series tells the backstory/origin story of the DC Comics character of Yara Flor, who was recently revealed as a new Wonder Woman. Yara will make her comic book appearance this January in Future State: Wonder Woman, part of DC’s Future State event written and drawn by Jones.

(16) GENE-IUS. “Uh-Oh, Scientists Used Human Genes to Make Monkey Brains Bigger” reports Yahoo! Finance.

In an experiment that could portend a real-life Planet of the Apes situation, scientists spliced human genes into the fetus of a monkey to substantially increase the size of the primate’s brain. And it worked.

Researchers from Germany’s Max Planck Institute of Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics in Germany and Japan’s Central Institute for Experimental Animals introduced a specifically human gene, ARHGAP11B, into the fetus of a common marmoset monkey, causing the enlargement of its brain’s neocortex. The scientists reported their findings in Science.

The neocortex is the newest part of the brain to evolve. It’s in the name—“neo” meaning new, and “cortex” meaning, well, the bark of a tree. This outer shell makes up more than 75 percent of the human brain and is responsible for many of the perks and quirks that make us uniquely human, including reasoning and complex language.

(17) VIDEO OF THE DAY. In “Star Trek:  Into Darkness Pitch Meeting” on Screen Rant, Ryan George explains the reason Spock throws a cold-fusion machine into a volcano early in the film “was because it has ‘cold’ in the title.”

[Thanks to Andrew Porter, Michael Toman, Mike Kennedy, John Hertz, Martin Morse Wooster, Cat Eldridge, John King Tarpinian, Daniel Dern, and JJ for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Andrew (not Werdna).]

Pixel Scroll 11/9/20 I Get These Ideas In Scroll-Title Cookies

(1) BLOB THEATER NEEDS HELP. A GoFundMe appeal has been launched to “Keep the Arts Alive at the Colonial Theatre!” The iconic movie house featured fleeing patrons in the 1958 movie The Blob, a scene fans have reenacted over the years:

Friday Night Runout at Blobfest.

The Colonial Theatre (aka Home of The Blob) is facing an unusually challenging winter: one in which we’re nearly 100% dependent on donations for survival. This is why we’ve launched this (first ever) GoFundMe campaign. 

While many other theaters across the nation were making agonizing choices in the springtime, an outpouring of donations (thank you!!), the Payroll Protection Program, and emergency grants made it possible for us to delay messages like these. 

By December 31st, we’ve got to raise $150,000 to meet our financial obligations and we’re banking on your help to raise at least a third of that total…

At this writing, supporters of The Colonial have given $15,025 of its $50,000 GoFundMe target.

(2) SUPERCROONERS. [Item by Daniel Dern.] io9 recommends “20 Superheroes Who Should Star in a Comic Book Musical”.

I’m particularly impressed by Patrick Wilson from Aquaman (singing with Kellie O’Hara, who’s a known and respected Broadway star, although Tom Hiddleston’s not shabby either, to name just a few.

I’m surprised the clip selected for Melissa Benoist (Supergirl) from The Flash, versus her (from that season’s musical crossover) Moon River, You’re My Superfriend, or Put A Little Love In Your Heart – see my 2017 File 770 post “In Case You Didn’t Watch The Flash Musical Episode…” for links. (Unfortunately, 2 of those links are now dead.)

(3) BROOKS AT THE FINISH. “As the Shannara Saga Ends, Terry Brooks Looks Back…and Forward”, a Publishers Weekly interview.

How did you decide to end the series with your latest, The Fall of Shannara: The Last Druid?

If you’re not energized, when you go into a 500 page book, you are in big trouble. It’s so hard to write a good book if you don’t love it from the beginning and all the way through, and you’re not working with a certain amount of energy every time you sit down. As things wore on into this last decade, I told myself, “There’s two things that are gonna happen here: Either you’re going to die, and somebody else is going to finish this series for you—probably Brandon Sanderson—or you’re gonna force yourself to write the ending now, and deal with the consequences.”

I always knew what the ending was I wanted, which also helped persuade me not to just abandon this thing. I knew what I wanted to write, I knew this was always a circular story about how one kind of power replaces another. Nature abhors a vacuum, and if science no longer exists in the world, and there is magic, then magic will be the power until it falls out of favor, which it will, because it’s elitist. And then science starts to reemerge because we’re an evolving society, and so would this one be. This book was always going to be about whether the Druid order, which has been there through all these 30 books, was going to continue to survive, or if it would fall apart at the end, as really everything eventually does. And I wrote it to answer that question. I’m at peace with it right now. I think I ended it the way I wanted to—and I can always go back to it if I choose to.

(4) ROW VS. WADE. James Davis Nicoll selects a fistful of authors who have answered the question: “Who Gets in the Lifeboat? Five Classic SF Survival Stories”. First into boat – Kal-El.

Superman by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster (1938 – present)

Superman’s origin story introduces a convenient way to sort people into survivors and the dead without forcing the protagonist into the ethically dubious position of being the one to choose. Brilliant scientist Jor-El foresees the planet Krypton’s imminent doom. Unfortunately for the people of Krypton, he is unable to convince that world’s government that the crisis is real or that steps must be taken to save the general population.  At least in some versions of the story, he can’t flee himself, lest he provoke a general panic. In the end, he is able to save just one person: his infant son Kal-El, whom he dispatches to distant Earth.  Too bad for the billions who die on Krypton, but hey, neither Jor-El nor Kal-El is responsible for the mass death.

(5) XENOGENESIS. GalleriesWest says of The Otolith Group: Xenogenesis

Xenogenesis is the first large scale exhibition of The Otolith Group presented in Canada… Showing at the Southern Art Gallery in Lethbridge, Alberta until November 15.

Xenogenesis is named after Octavia Butlers’ Xenogenesis Trilogy, which consists of Dawn. Xenogenesis: 1Adulthood Rites. Xenogenesis: 2, and Imago. Xenogenesis: 3. As a pioneering African American female science fiction novelist, Butlers’ award-winning novels investigated questions of human extinction, racial distinction, planetary transformation, enforced mutation, generative alienation and altered kinship. From her first novel Patternmaster, 1976, to her final novel Fledgling, 2005, Butler challenged the questions of science fiction in ways that transformed the cultural imagination of futurity for generations of feminist thinkers, artists and philosophers from Donna Haraway to Denise Ferreira da Silva to the Black Quantum Futurists. Butlers’ fictions of xenogenesis, which are narrated as processes of alien becoming or becoming alien, have informed and continue to inform the movement of thought of The Otolith Group’s work.

(6) LOTS TO OVERCOME. “What It’s Like To Open A Bookstore During The COVID-19 Pandemic”Forbes asked a couple who did it. (And in my brother’s hometown, Ventua.)

…That enthusiasm extended to their opening day, which they said was “so much better than we could’ve imagined.” Though the store’s social distancing rules limit capacity to eight people inside at one time, they were pleased to see that everyone was respectful, with a line to the end of the block for most of the day. Masks are required while inside, and they sanitize all surfaces frequently. “People seemed grateful to have a space to come browse bookshelves, and so many commented that they are reading much more right now and are excited to have an independent bookshop to visit,” said the couple.

(7) BARR OBIT. Ken Barr has died reports the Gallifrey One FB group.

With great sadness, Gallifrey One must share the news that a dear and longtime member of our family, Ken Barr, passed away over the weekend after a long illness. Ken’s involvement in our foundation and development as a convention cannot be overstated; we owe so much of our success to him, his ownership and operation of his longtime West L.A. specialty bookstore Ambrosia Comics & Collectibles, and his mail-order business Ken’s Korner USA….

(8) MEDIA ANNIVERSARY.

  • November 1988 — On this month in 1988, Jane Yolen’s The One-Armed Queen was published by Tor Books completing The Great Alta trilogy which started with Sister Light, Sister Dark and continued with White Jenna. SFBC would publish The Books of Great Alta several years later. The series would be nominated for a Mythopoeic Fantasy Award but that would go to Ellen Kushner’s Thomas the Rhymer that year. It’s available at a reasonable price from the usual digital suspects. 

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]

  • Born November 9, 1921 – Alfred Coppel.  Under his Anglicized name (originally Alfredo Jose de Arana-Marini Coppel) and others he was a prolific pulp author: a score of novels, five dozen stories for us; much else.  His “Read This” in the Jul 93 NY Rev SF was joined by one from Benford, one from Williamson.  (Died 2004) [JH] 
  • Born November 9, 1924 – Larry Shaw.  Active fan and pro.  A Fanarchist and Fanoclast; among his fanzines AxeDestiny’s Child; served a term as Official Editor of FAPA.  Editor of IfInfinitySF Adventures, published Harlan Ellison’s first magazine story.  Two anthologies; one novelette of his own, four short stories.  Special Committee Award from L.A.con II the 42nd Worldcon.  See here; Len Moffatt’s File 770appreciation here.  (Died 1985) [JH]
  • Born November 9, 1934 – Carl Sagan, Ph.D.  His Contact won the Best First Novel Locus Award; nonfiction The Cosmic Connection, the Campbell Memorial Award, Cosmos, the Best Nonfiction Hugo (later amended to Best Related Work); he won the Solstice Award; Pulitzer Prize, Peabody, two Emmys, NASA (U.S. Nat’l Aeronautics & Space Adm’n) Distinguished Public Service Medal.  Professor of Astronomy & Space Sciences at Cornell.  Assembled the Pioneer plaques and Voyager Golden Records.  (Died 1996) [JH]
  • Born November 9, 1946 – Dame Marina Warner, 74.  For us, one novel, one novelette, half a dozen books on myth and fairy tale; three dozen books all told.  Feminist and historian.  Nine honorary doctorates; Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, later its first woman President; Chevalier de l’Orde des Arts et des Lettres; Sheikh Zayed Book Award; Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire; British Academy Medal, World Fantasy Award, for life achievement.  [JH]
  • Born November 9, 1947 Robert David Hall, 73. Best known as coroner Dr. Albert Robbins M.D. on CSI, but he does have quite as few genre credits. He voiced Dinky Little in the animated Here Come the Littles, both the film and the series, the cyborg Recruiting Sargent in Starship Troopers,  voice of Colonel Sharp in the G.I. Joe series, Abraham in The Gene Generation, a biopunk film, and numerous voice roles in myriad DCU animated series. (CE) 
  • Born November 9, 1954 Rob Hansen, 66. British fan, active since the Seventies who has edited and co-edited numerous fanzines including his debut production Epsilon. And he was the 1984 Trans-Atlantic Fan Fund delegate. His nonfiction works such as Then: Science Fiction Fandom in the UK: 1930-1980, last updated just a few years ago, are invaluable. (CE) 
  • Born November 9, 1971 Jamie Bishop. The son of Michael Bishop, he was among those killed in the Virginia Tech shooting. He did the cover illustrations for a number of genre undertakings including Subterranean Online, Winter 2008 and Aberrant Dreams, #9 Autumn 2006. The annual “Jamie Bishop Memorial Award for an Essay Not in English” was established by the International Association for the Fantastic in the Arts as a prize for an essay on the subject of science fiction or speculative fiction not written in English. (Died 2007.) (CE) 
  • Born November 9, 1974 Ian Hallard, 46. He lives with his husband, the actor and screenwriter Mark Gatiss. He appeared as Alan-a-Dale in Twelfth Doctor story, “Robot of Sherwood”, and in Sherlock as Mr Crayhill in “The Reichenbach Fall”.  He played Richard Martin, one of the original directors of Doctor Who in An Adventure in Space and Time. Genre adjacent, he co-wrote The Big Four with his husband for Agatha Christie: Poirot. (CE) 
  • Born November 9, 1950 – Pat Cummings, 70.  Author & illustrator of children’s books.  Recent juvenile for us, Trace.  Coretta Scott King Award for illustrating My Mama Needs Me.  Horn Book – Boston Globe Award.  Orbis Pictus Award.  Nat’l Secretary of the Authors Guild.  [JH]
  • Born November 9, 1988 Tahereh Mafi, 32. Iranian-American whose Furthermore, a YA novel about a pale girl living in a world of both color and magic of which she has neither, I highly recommended it. Whichwood is a companion novel to this work. She also has a young adult dystopian thriller series. (CE) 
  • Born November 9, 1989 Alix E. Harrow, 31. Winner at Dublin 2019 of the Best Short Story Hugo for “Witch’s Guide to Escape: A Practical Compendium of Portal Fantasies” which was nominated for a BSFA and Nebula Award. She has two excellent novels to date, The Ten Thousand Doors of January and The Once and Future Witches which was nominated for but didn’t win a WFA this year.  She has a double handful of short stories not yet collected anywhere. (CE) 
  • Born November 9, 1990 – Rinsai Rossetti, 30.  One novel so far, The Girl with Borrowed Wings, a Kirkus and Booklist Best Book.  More, please.  [JH]

(10) COMICS SECTION.

  • Frank and Ernest meet monsters who want to start political careers.
  • Tom Gauld takes a look at vampire scientists:

(11) ANOTHER CANON IN THE BATTERY. John Wiswell contributes his experience to the series about works that mattered to people: “Personal Canons: Dragon Ball”.

Is this where I confess to piracy?

In the mid-90s I was a sickly teenager with little money and even less access to anything from Japan. Dragon Ball (and its edgier sequel Dragon Ball Z) had some buzz from the rich kids in my school as this mind-blowing martial arts epic. Those kids paid 30+ bucks per badly subtitled tape of the anime, usually with two episodes per tape. It would’ve cost more than my best friend’s car to get the entire show.

One sage stoner said the show was based on a manga by Akira Toriyama. These books were even less accessible — it would be years before a publisher licensed it for distribution in the U.S.

But fans work faster than capitalism.

Fans hand-scanned pages from the books, using MSPaint to translate the dialogue into other languages. Since manga is usually colorless, they flattened the image quality down to pure black and white, so that a standard crappy internet connection could download them. Downloading a chapter of the story took all afternoon – so I spent every afternoon hungry for the next page.

(12) I SEE WHAT YOU DID THERE. Joe R. Christopher’s 2005 review “Hobbits In The National Parks” covers a mystery writer’s Tolkien references.

Nevada Barr is known, among readers of mysteries, for her novels about Anna Pigeon, a National Park Ranger whose assignments usually take her to a different national park in each book.  She began in Texas, in the Guadalupe National Park, in Track of the Cat (1993).  The stories are told in the third person, in a manner that easily slides from giving Pigeon’s thoughts to objective descriptions and records of conversations and actions.

… This use of reference to Middle-Earth as an enlivening device prepares for most of the allusions that appear in the mysteries.  What follows is, at least in intention and perhaps in reality, a complete survey of those references.

    In A Superior Death (1994), set on Isle Royale National Park (in a northern area of Lake Superior), at one point four Park Rangers have to do a “bounce dive” down to an old, deeply sunken shipwreck.  (The “bounce” means in this case that they have only twenty-two minutes at the bottom.)  The Tolkienian comparison occurs just after they enter the cold water of the lake.  Anna Pigeon looks at one of her fellow Rangers:

“Tattinger floated into view.  With the regulator stretching his rubbery lips and the mask maximizing his watery eyes, he put Anna in mind of Gollum, the pale underearth creature that gave Bilbo Baggins the willies.”  (p. 136)

The emphasis on Gollum’s paleness may tie to the first description of Jim Tattinger in the book as one who spent his time on computers and seldom dove the wrecks himself (p. 39) — in other words, an indoors office type. …

(13) UNFORGOTTEN. “Benjamin Ross Hayden explores Indigenous Sci-Fi in ‘Parallel Minds’”—a Canadian radio interview with the director:  

Parallel Minds is a new film from Calgary-based director, Benjamin Ross Hayden. The film opened the Calgary International Film Festival last month to a sold-out audience. Parallel Minds is set for theatrical release in 16 cities across Canada.

A synopsis of the film:

On the verge of the release of Red Eye 2, a revolutionary contact lens that can record data and resurface buried memories, Margo, a Metis researcher in the Department of Memory discovers Red Eye’s head programmer murdered. Margo teams up with Thomas, a police detective running from his past, to uncover what happened to her friend and explore just how deep the revolutionary rabbit hole goes in this futuristic Indigenous thriller

(14) INVISIBLE FRIENDS. In “Seven Novels Featuring Fictional Characters With Even More Fictional Companions” on CrimeReads, Evie Green recommends novels by John Wyndham, Helen Oyeyemi, and Matthew Green for people who want stories about imaginary friends.

The Icarus Girl by Helen Oyeyemi

Eight year old Jessamy lives in London with her Nigerian mother and British father. On a visit to her mother’s family in Nigeria she meets her first real friend, a girl she calls TillyTilly. TillyTilly takes Jess to forbidden, impossible places and makes her see the things differently. Jess goes home to London: a little while later TillyTilly turns up saying she’s just moved in nearby. It takes Jess a while to realize that no one else can see her new friend, and she struggles to resist acting on TillyTilly’s more destructive ideas. Through her new friend Jess discovers a truth about herself that she had never consciously known before, but which, perhaps, has been at the root of her anxiety all along. Sinister and scary, this is a gripping read all the more impressive because of the fact that it was written while the author was still at school.

(15) VIDEO OF THE DAY. In “The Hobbit:  The Battle of the Five Armies Pitch Meeting” on Screen Rant, Ryan George says the third Hobbit movie has “amazing action sequences” written by “people who failed physics in high school.”

[Thanks to Mike Kennedy, Michael Toman, John King Tarpinian, Cath Jackel, Andrew Porter, JJ, Cat Eldridge, John Hertz, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]