Pixel Scroll 9/24/21 Scrolling Pixels Give You So Much More

(1) SUES WHATEVER A SPIDER CAN. The heirs of Steve Ditko filed to reclaim their rights to some well-known Marvel characters – now Marvel is suing to prevent them. The Hollywood Reporter looks over the filings in “Marvel Suing to Keep Rights to ‘Avengers’ Characters”.

Disney’s Marvel unit is suing to hold on to full control of Avengers characters including Iron Man, Spider-Man, Dr. Strange, Ant-Man, Hawkeye, Black Widow, Falcon, Thor and others.

The complaints, which The Hollywood Reporter has obtained, come against the heirs of some late comic book geniuses including Stan Lee, Steve Ditko and Gene Colan. The suits seek declaratory relief that these blockbuster characters are ineligible for copyright termination as works made for hire. If Marvel loses, Disney would have to share ownership of characters worth billions.

In August, the administrator of Ditko’s estate filed a notice of termination on Spider-Man, which first appeared in comic book form in 1962. Under the termination provisions of copyright law, authors or their heirs can reclaim rights once granted to publishers after waiting a statutory set period of time. According to the termination notice, Marvel would have to give up Ditko’s rights to its iconic character in June 2023….

If the plaintiffs win, Disney expects to at least hold on to at least a share of character rights as co-owners. The studio would have to share profits with the others. Additionally, the termination provisions of copyright law only apply in the United States, allowing Disney to continue to control and profit from foreign exploitation.

(2) LIKE PEANUT BUTTER AND CHOCOLATE. Lincoln Michel on why noir blends well with sf, at CrimeReads: “Why Noir and Science Fiction Are Still a Perfect Pairing”.

… I think the answer lies first in the fact that both genres have an inherent critique of the social order. They question the state of the world, refusing to just accept the corruption, inequality, and destruction as “the way things are.” Or at least saying, sure, it’s the way things are, but it’s still screwed up.

While other crime genres are often fundamentally a defense of the status quo—police procedurals focus on petty criminals and heroic cops, spy thrillers defeat threats to the established global order—noir presents the established order as crime. It is the rich and the powerful, and the institutions that serve them, that are the true villains. (Of course this isn’t true of every single noir work, but it is of the ones that influenced SF subgenres like cyberpunk.) Take Dashiell Hammett’s masterpiece Red Harvest, in which a rich man and a corrupt police force collaborate with gangs to crush poor workers. Or Chinatown, in which a business tycoon controls government institutions to choke off water supplies. This critique of the social order is why the prototypical hardboiled (anti)hero exists outside of the official law enforcement structure. They’re not a police officer, FBI agent, or government spy. They’re a private investigator, and sometimes even unlicensed as in the case of Walter Mosley’s Easy Rawlins, and realize that the legal system is as corrupt as the organized crime it is fighting…and often in bed with.

(3) RAUM, THE FINAL FRONTIER. Cora Buhlert describes West German TV’s new (in 1966) space adventure show: “[September 24, 1966] Science Fiction TV from West Germany: Space Patrol: The Fantastic Adventures of the Spaceship Orion: Episode 1: Attack From Space” at Galactic Journey.

…The series has the unwieldy title Raumpatrouille – Die Phantastischen Abenteuer des Raumschiffs Orion (Space Patrol – The Fantastic Adventures of the Spaceship Orion), which viewers have already shortened to Raumpatrouille Orion or just plain Orion.

Like the new US series Star TrekSpace Patrol Orion starts with an opening narration, courtesy of veteran actor Claus Biederstaedt, which promises us a fairy tale from the future. In the year 3000 AD, nation states have been abolished. Humanity has settled the ocean floor and colonised far-flung worlds. Starships, including the titular Orion, hurtle through space at unimaginable speeds.

An impressive title sequence and a spacy and very groovy theme tune follow, courtesy of Peter Thomas, who also supplies the music for the Edgar Wallace and Jerry Cotton movies….

(4) TANKS FOR THE MEMORIES. By George, Steve Davidson makes a good point: “Space Force Uniform Controversy” at Amazing Stories.

The Space Force, America’s latest (and completely unnecessary) military branch unveiled its proposed service uniform.

A lot of fans (and fan-adjacent television watchers) have remarked that the proposed dress uniform greatly resembles those created for the entirely fictional space navy depicted in Battlestar Galactica (the completely unnecessary re-boot, to be precise).

Yes, yes it does.  However, those more familiar with real military history would probably be more inclined to think that the new digs for Space Force look more like General George S. Patton’s tanker’s uniform that the general proposed between world wars one and two; about the only difference between uniforms then and uniforms now is Patton’s addition of a football helmet, while it is very unlikely that Space Force will adopt the recommended propeller beanie….

Comparative photos at the link.

(5) COVER SCORES. The public’s choices for best covers in the Self-Published Science Fiction Competition have been announced – and the outcome was a lot close than expected.

(6) JO WALTON KICKSTARTER. A funding appeal launched at Kickstarter aims to produce a Lifelode Audiobook by Jo Walton.

Lifelode is a Mythopoeic Award winning fantasy novel by Jo Walton that has never had an audiobook. Jack Larsen is a young man from New Zealand who has a wonderful voice for reading aloud and wants to become an audiobook reader. Together, they could be amazing…

Jo Walton writes:

The main point of this is to try to kickstart the audiobook reading career of young New Zealand fan Jack Larsen, whose wonderful reading voice has been a mainstay of the Scintillation community through the pandemic.

They will have Jack read the book in a professional studio and have it professionally edited (which is the part which costs all the money) and then sell it where all good audiobooks are sold. 

At the Kickstarter site you can listen to Jack read the first chapter — click on the video there (which is just audio). Bear in mind, Jack did this demo on his phone.

As of today’s writing the appeal has raised $2,457 of its $7,891 goal.

(7) FOUNDATION LAYS ITS CORNERSTONE. Camestros Felapton supplies detailed comments about the beginning of the new series: “Review: Foundation Episode 1 (Apple TV)”.

2021 for all its faults, is offering fans of classic science fiction two (potential) treats: a new movie version of Dune and a TV adaptation of Isaac Asimov’s Foundation series. It’s interesting that of these two highly influential stories that with first you can make a good guess about what specific scenes will appear and in the second I’ve no idea what we will be getting….

Warning, it’s spoilers all the way down from there.

(8) PARTS IS PARTS. In contrast, Rolling Stone’s Alan Sepinwall isn’t a believer. “New Formula for ‘Foundation’ Doesn’t Add Up”.

…Like psycho-history itself, all of these changes make sense in theory. But none of them quite accomplish what the show’s creative team needs them to. This Foundation is, like the clones’ palace on the capitol planet of Trantor, stunning to look at(*) but ultimately cold and sterile. Despite the cast and crew’s best efforts — and what appears to be an unlimited budget, even by Apple’s lavish standards — this Foundation remains an assemblage of concepts in search of a compelling TV show….

(9) LANGDON JONES (1942-2021). Author, editor and musician Langdon Jones, whose short fiction primarily appeared in New Worlds, beginning with “Storm Water Tunnel” in 1964, has died, Michael Moorcock reported on Facebook.

One of my closest, longest and best friendships was with Lang Jones, a talented composer, editor and writer, one of the most modest people I have ever known, with the sweetest nature of almost any human being I’ve met. He was Assistant Editor of New Worlds. He restored Titus Alone by Mervyn Peake to the edition you probably read and wrote the music for The Rhyme of the Flying Bomb.  You can hear his lively piano on The Entropy Tango.  His own collection of stories The Great Clock, remains his only published fiction.  I last saw him about two years ago, at the wonderful wedding of his daughter Isobel to Jason Nickolds, for whom he was extremely happy, and he said he had stopped writing and composing and had never felt better.  He leaves a son, Damon, as well as his daughter.  One of the few people of whom it’s possible to write: Loved by all.

(10) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

1964 – Fifty-seven years ago, Mary Poppins had its New York City premiere. (Yes, it’s genre as a flying nanny is surely within our realm.) It was directed by Robert Stevenson from the screenplay by Bill Walsh and Don DaGradi as based off P. L. Travers’s Mary Poppins series. It was produced by Walt Disney and starred Julie Andrews in her first screen acting role. Principal other cast were Dick Van Dyke, David Tomlinson and Glynis Johns. The film was shot entirely at the Walt Disney Studios in Burbank, California, using painted London background scenes.  

It won’t surprise you that the film received universal acclaim from film critics, and that Julie Andrews and Dick Van Dyke got lavish praise. Box office wise, it earned some forty five million dollars on an estimated budget of four or so million dollars (Disney never released the budget officially) and it’s had at least another hundred million in box office rentals as well since then.

Audience reviewers currently at Rotten Tomatoes give it an excellent eighty-eight percent rating. A sequel, Mary Poppins Returns, was recently released and it too rates high among audience reviewers currently at Rotten Tomatoes with a sixty five percent rating. Dick Van Dyke has a new role in it. 

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born September 24, 1922 — Bert Gordon, 99. Film director most remembered for such SF and horror films as The Amazing Colossal ManVillage of the Giants and The Food of the Gods (based of course on the H.G. Wells’ novel The Food of the Gods and How It Came to Earth).  His nickname “Mister B.I.G.” was a reference both to his initials and to his preference for directing movies featuring super-sized creatures. 
  • Born September 24, 1934 — John Brunner. My favorite works by him? The Shockwave RiderStand on Zanzibar which won a Hugo at St. Louiscon and The Sheep Look Up. I’m also fond of The Squares of The City which was nominated for a Hugo at Tricon. That was easy. What’s your favorite works by him? (Died 1995.)
  • Born September 24, 1936 — Jim Henson. As much as I love The Muppet Show, and I’ve watched every show at least twice, I think The Storyteller is his best work. That’s not to overlook Labyrinth, The Witches and The Dark Crystal and the first two Muppets films which are also excellent. Warning note: the three newest takes done on The Muppets suck beyond belief. Disney should be ashamed. (Died 1990.)
  • Born September 24, 1945 — David Drake, 76. Writer with his best-known solo work being the Hammer’s Slammers series of military science fiction which are space operas inspired by the Aubrey–Maturin novels. He has also drafted story ideas that were then finished off by co-authors such as Karl Edward Wagner, S.M. Stirling, and Eric Flint. He’s very, very well stocked at the usual suspects. 
  • Born September 24, 1945 — Ian Stewart, 76. Mathematician and  writer. He makes the Birthday Honors for the four volumes in The Science of Discworld series he wrote with Jack Cohen and Terry Pratchett. It was nominated for a Hugo at Chicon 2000. Each of the books alternates between the usually absurd Discworld story and serious scientific exposition. (All four volumes are available from the usual suspects.) He would write a number of genre novels, none of which I’m familiar with. Anybody here read his works? 
  • Born September 24, 1951 — David Banks, 70. During the Eighties, he was the Cyberleader on Doctor Who in all the stories featuring the Cybermen — Earthshock (Fifth Doctor story), The Five DoctorsAttack of the Cybermen (Sixth Doctor story), and Silver Nemesis (Seventh Doctor story). In 1989, he played the part of Karl the Mercenary in the Doctor Who: The Ultimate Adventure stage play. There were two performances where he appeared as The Doctor as he replaced Jon Pertwee who had fallen ill.
  • Born September 24, 1957 — Brad Bird, 64. Animator, director, screenwriter, producer, and occasionally even a voice actor whom I’m going to praise for directing The Iron Giant (nominated for a Hugo at Chicon 2000), The Incredibles (winner of Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form at Interaction), Incredibles 2 and Tomorrowland. He’s the voice of Edna Mode in both the Incredibles films. 
  • Born September 24, 1965 — Richard K. Morgan, 56. The Takeshi Kovacs novels are an awesome series  which are why I haven’t watched the Netflix series. His fantasy series, A Land Fit For Heroes, is on my TBR, well my To Be Listened To pile now. And yes I read Thin Air, the sequel first and it’s quite excellent. 

(12) COMICS SECTION.

A meeting with the shrink is the subject of today’s Wulffmorgenthaler-239 at Politiken. Lise Andreasen supplies the translation from Danish:

So … You left him, you killed his aunt and uncle, you blew up his sister’s planet, you chopped his hand off … and NOW you want him to consider you a father figure and join you “on the dark side”. How do you think Luke feels about it?

(13) TRUTH OR CONSEQUENCES. Or both… Shat might be on his way to space after all these years — “Beam me up? TMZ says William Shatner will take Blue Origin suborbital space trip”.

The next crewed suborbital spaceflight planned by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin space venture — which could launch as early as next month — is due to carry Star Trek captain William Shatner, according to the TMZ celebrity news site.

If the report based on unnamed sources is true, that would make Shatner the oldest person to fly in space at the age of 90, besting the record set by 82-year-old aviation pioneer Wally Funk during the first crewed flight of Blue Origin’s New Shepard suborbital spacecraft in July….

(14) THE WARMED-UP EQUATIONS. “’Astronauts check our scripts!’: inside the new age of sumptuous sci-fi TV”. The Guardian tells how we got here.

…The current renaissance can be traced to Moore’s groundbreaking 2004 reimagining of hokey 70s space odyssey Battlestar Galactica. Updating the premise for a post-9/11 TV landscape, he turned a niche sci-fi story into mainstream watercooler TV. “Whether you liked sci-fi or not, you found yourself binging all these seasons,” says Ben Nedivi, one of Moore’s co-creators on For All Mankind. 

While Star Trek, too, is thriving in the current sci-fi landscape, with no less than five series currently in production, it seems unlikely to cross the final frontier into the halls of prestige sci-fi. For Nunn, this comes down to one thing: aliens. 

While the golden age shows of the 90s relied heavily on prosthetics – and, in the case of Farscape, puppets – to present characters from other worlds, today’s sombre offerings dwell solely on human problems. “With Battlestar Galactica, you’ve got robots, but you haven’t got aliens,” Nunn points out. “And The Expanse is similar. So they can be read as science fiction but also dystopias, whereas Star Trek and Babylon 5 and Farscape, even Stargate, all had alien life-forms at their core.”…

… For Shankar, a great strength of The Expanse is that it uses space as more than just a backdrop. “This is a show that turns space into a character,” he says. With a PhD in applied physics, he served as Next Generation’s official science adviser. “On Star Trek it was really about maintaining continuity with the fake science, making sure you used the phasers when you were supposed to, and not the photon torpedoes,” he says. “The technical manual [for the Enterprise] was quite detailed, but it wasn’t real. In The Expanse we use real physics to create drama. There’s a sequence in the first season where the ships are turning their engines on and off so you’re shifting from having weight to weightlessness. Two characters suddenly lose gravity and can’t get back to where they need to be, and the solution is conservation of momentum.”

This absolute commitment to accuracy is shared by the team behind For All Mankind. “We have an astronaut who reads our scripts,” explains co-creator Matt Wolpert. “He’ll tell us when we come up with ideas that are against the laws of physics.”…

(15) TED TALK. Ted White has two books out – one fiction, one non-…. Both were designed by John D. Berry, and published with the assistance of Michal Dobson’s Dobson Books. White is former editor of Amazing® and Heavy Metal® magazines and a past Best Fan Writer Hugo winner.

He’d been set up. Someone (and “independent consultant” Ray Phoenix was pretty sure who) had filed a phony stolen car report. When a freak bus accident allows him to escape into the woods, Ray lands in an entirely new world of trouble – small-town cocaine dealing, counterfeit money, and a web of strange and violent relationships that will take all of Ray’s considerable skills to unravel.

In 1986, legendary science fiction writer and editor Ted White went to jail for possession and sale of marijuana. A prolific correspondent, Ted kept up a steady stream of letters during his confinement that vividly and powerfully detail everyday life behind bars, from relationships with other prisoners and guards to living in cells and common rooms – not to mention the fine jailhouse cuisine. (Seriously, don’t mention it.) Ted White’s letters make you feel like you’re really in jail…and really glad you’re not.

(16) DISCONTENT. [Item by David Doering.] I caught this piece on TechDirt today. It appears that Sony’s art department enjoyed this fan artist’s rendering of She-Venom so much they included it in their official poster. Too bad they didn’t acknowledge that or offer to pay for it.  I certainly see more than just coincidence here. Even if Sony/others have the rights to the character, the similarities are too striking to not say the Sony version owes something to the fan artist. The comments debate both sides. “Sony Pictures, Defenders Of The Creative Industry, Appears To Be Using Fan Art Without Giving Credit”

… You can say the images don’t match up precisely if you like, but they’re certainly very damned close. As mentioned about similar past cases, this likely isn’t a copyright infringement issue; the fan artist doesn’t own any rights to the character he drew. But, again, if the copyright industries are going to do their maximalist routine under the guise of protecting those that create content, well, fan art is content…. 

(17) EVADING THE SURVEILLANCE SOCIETY. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] BBC Radio 4’s The Digital Human episode “Faceless” notes that it’s becoming harder to hide from facial recognition technology and asks what does this means for people who protest against political systems … So we are SF fans and know all about Orwell’s 1984, William Gibson’s novels etc.  Or do we?  It looks like things are getting worse, but there are ways to fight back…. Digital Human looks at the issues with examples from a non-political English teacher becoming a wanted terrorist on the run in 12 days, to counter-measures.

Johnathan Hirshon works in PR and marketing and describes himself as ‘The Faceless man’ because he’s managed to keep his face off the internet for over twenty years. This may seem extreme but Neda Soltani explains how one online photo of her face, meant she had to leave her family, country and profession. Artist and curator, Bogomir Doringer whose archived and curated thousands of faceless images off the internet talks about how technology is not only choreographing the way we use our faces but persuading us to hand over our biometric data with our use of apps that change the way we look. .

Artist Zach Blas is interested in queer culture and has created masks using biometric data from minority groups, to push back on the possibility of people being categorised by biometrics. Zach uses masks to show that facial recognition technology can be disrupted. Stephen has been trying to do just that. Stephen is from Hong Kong and spent the summer protesting against the Extradition bill. He and his fellow protesters wore masks to evade identification from the police and Hong Kong’s smart lamp posts. The remit of the protest grew when the wearing of masks by protesters was banned. Stephen believes that by using facial recognition technology on the streets of Hong Kong the authorities in Hong Kong and China are creating a sense of ‘white terror’. Stephen is now protesting in the UK but still feels this ‘white terror’. While protesting people from mainland China have been taking photos of him and other protesters. He knows that photos can go global and by using facial recognition tech he could be easily identified. Is it becoming impossible to escape recognition even when we would like to hide?

(18) HE BLABBED. Tom Hiddleston tells Loki stories: Untold: Tom Hiddleston.

(19) AN ADVENTURE WITH COMPANIONS. Yes! Another excuse to watch David Tennant! “Around the World in 80 Days” will air on PBS.

David Tennant stars as literature’s greatest explorer Phileas Fogg in a thrilling new adaptation of Jules Verne’s classic adventure novel coming to MASTERPIECE on PBS. (Air date to be announced.)

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

Public’s Choices for Best Covers in the Self-Published Science Fiction Competition 2021

The publicly-chosen winning book cover and the rest of the top 10 finishers in the Self-Published Science Fiction Competition 2021 Cover Contest were revealed on September 23.

The SPSFC judges initially narrowed the field of 300 entries to 100 before opening up voting to the public. Nearly 1,000 votes were cast over a three-week span.

The 2021 SPSFC Best Cover and Top 10 are:

#1 ARvekt by Craig Lea Gordon. Cover Artist: Rashed AlAkroka

#2 The Lost Signal by J.S. Fernández Morales. Cover Artist: Diéresis Brand Consulting

#3 The Narrows by Travis M. Riddle. Cover Artist: Luke Valentine

#4 The Immortality Game by Ted Cross. Cover Artist:  Stephan Martiniere

 #5 Refraction by Wick Welker. Cover Artist: Damonza.com

#6 God in the Machine by Cole Martyn. Cover Artist: Rashed AlAkroka

 #7 Bloodlines by Peter Hartog. Cover Artist: Lance Buckley

#8 Ghosts of Tomorrow by Michael R. Fletcher. Cover Artist:  John Anthony Di Giovanni

#9 Dog Country by Malcolm F. Cross. Cover Artist: Pye

#10 The Star Collector by Matthew William. Cover Artist: Image is a photo from https://anea.co.za/

SPSFC Cover Contest: Help Rate the Top 100

While the Self-Published Science Fiction Competition teams are judging the books, you can help judge the covers. Vote in the SPSFC Cover Contest Top 100 – People’s Choice Poll.

The teams scored the covers of the 30 books assigned to each of them and picked their top ten, for a total of 100 covers.

You will be asked to give each cover from 0 – 10 points.

Covers are displayed in batches of 10 and their order is randomized for each viewer.

The poll is open until September 9. When it’s finished, we’ll find out which SPSFC contestant’s cover people think is the best.

SPSFC art by Tithi LuadthongLogos designed by Scott (@book_invasion)

See All 300 Self-Published Science Fiction Contest Book Covers

All three hundred covers of the books accepted by the inaugural Self-Published Science Fiction Contest can be viewed on the Pinterest board created by Fantasy-Faction

Eight out of the ten teams have also put up posts or videos about their assignments.

1 – Team Tar Vol OnTeam Tar Vol On SPSFC Round One Entries

2 – Team Fantasy-FactionThe 1st Annual Self-Published Science Fiction Contest – Introductions & Book List

3 – Team At Boundary’s EdgeOn book selections and how reading works in SPSFC; SPSFC At Boundary’s Edge: Meet The Contestants

4 – Team Red StarsTime To Read For SPSFC!

5 – Team Book InvasionMeet Team Book Invasion! Judges and Book List for the Self Published Science Fiction Competition [YouTube]

6 – Team FanFiAddictFanFiAddict – [No book post yet]

7 – Team Fantasy Book CriticFantasy Book Critic – [No book post yet]

8 – Team File 770Team File 770’s 30 Books for the Self-Published Science Fiction Contest

9 – Team MeteorMETEOR REVIEWS

10 – Team Space LasagnaAnd here we go! (#SPSFC); SPSFC Team Space Lasagna – Pirate Twinkie Reads (wordpress.com)

Team File 770’s 30 Books for the Self-Published Science Fiction Contest

The inaugural Self Published Science Fiction Competition (SPSFC) judging teams have now been assigned their books — here are the titles, authors and covers of the works that will be judged in the first round by Team File 770 – Cora Buhlert, Rogers Cadenhead, Sarah Duck-Mayr, and Mike Glyer:

SPSFC art by Tithi LuadthongLogos designed by Scott (@book_invasion)

Self-Published Science Fiction Contest Update

The submissions to the Self-Published Science Fiction Competition (SPSFC) have been screened for eligibility and the 300 books that have been accepted will soon be announced.

The contest, created by Hugh Howey and Duncan Swan, is modeled after Mark Lawrence’s Self-Published Fantasy Blog-Off, which just named its sixth winner in May, and has his blessing.

Duncan Swan tweeted this thread about the screening process:

SPSFC art by Tithi LuadthongLogos designed by Scott (@book_invasion)

Self-Published Science Fiction Competition Is Filling Fast

Hugh Howey’s Self-Published Science Fiction Competition (SPSFC) is now taking submissions. Are you an indie science fiction writer looking for a wider audience? Check the guidelines here – the slots are filling fast. Earlier today, Howey tweeted: “We have blown past the 300 submissions we were looking for. Once we get to 400, we will close the window and begin sorting these amazing books for the review teams.”

The contest is modeled after Mark Lawrence’s Self-Published Fantasy Blog-Off, which just named its sixth winner in May, and has his blessing.

File 770 is one of the 10 reviewing teams that will participate in the judging. Our team members are:

Cora Buhlert was born and bred in Bremen, North Germany, where she still lives today – after time spent in London, Singapore, Rotterdam and Mississippi. Cora has been a science fiction fan for as long as she can remember and a File 770 commenter and occasional contributor since 2015. Cora is a two-time Hugo finalist for Best Fan Writer and blogs about old and new SFF at www.corabuhlert.com, at Galactic Journey and elsewhere. When Cora is not writing or blogging, she works as a translator and teacher. She also edits the Speculative Fiction Showcase blog. Twitter: @CoraBuhlert

Rogers Cadenhead is a computer book author, ServiceNow software developer, science fiction fan and popesquatter. He’s voted in the Hugo Awards for over a decade, been a member of FAPA and Capa Alpha, and contributes news to File 770. He blogs at Workbench. Twitter: @rcade

Sarah Duck-Mayr says: “I have always been a bookworm, fell into book reviews from a lucky tweet that gained traction. Been riding that high for almost 2 years. I hope to do this for as many as I can.” See Sarah’s reviews here at Goodreads. Twitter: @DedDuckie

Mike Glyer edits the fan newzine File 770, winner of eight Hugos as Best Fanzine. He also has won four Hugos as Best Fan Writer. As a book reader, he looks to sf writers for clues to the changes that are coming, other ways to look at life, and better ideas for facing the future. Twitter: @File_770

SPSFC art by Tithi Luadthong. Logos designed by Scott (@book_invasion)

Pixel Scroll 5/29/21 I’m Worth A Scrillion In Pixels

(1) TO THE VICTOR. Hugh Howey, sponsor of the first annual Self-Published Science Fiction Competition (SPSFC), displayed the trophy that will be sent to the inaugural winner. He added there will be slightly different trophies every year, but they’ll all be in the same vein.

It’s not only — this thing is so heavy, this is so robust, but you’re gonna have an award that people can actually pick up and play with. You can like run around the house and say pew pew to people with this. Um, of course, all of our blasters are set to stunning…

(2) PUT IN A GOOD WORD. Nominations are being taken for the 2021 Good Furry Award at Ask Papabear. Voting is being done here.

The Good Furry Award is an annual award that debuted in 2019. Each year, the award will be presented to one furry (or group of furries) to recognize them for outstanding spirit in the furry community. The winner will receive a check for $500 and a crystal trophy of recognition. The award money can be used at the winner’s discretion, although we would not be surprised if it is used to attend a convention or buy something furry….

Why are you doing this?

It seems to me that every time something negative happens in the fandom, people focus on that too much to the point of giving the entire fandom a bad reputation. Rather than paying attention to the few furries who cause trouble, I would like us all to focus on furries who do good things and are good people. Let’s give those furries some attention instead! The vast majority of furries are good people, and I want us all to start talking about them and thinking about them. My hope is to uplift this community. It’s not so much about the final award (although that is important); it is about taking serious time to bring good furries to light.

(3) FANTASY AFRICA. Eugen Bacon, the African Australian writer and editor, lends her voice to one of the stories featured on the Australian Broadcasting Company program “Reading Western Sydney, a hot country town & fantasy Africa remade”.

…And entire new worlds are created, drawing upon West African mythology and the layers of colonialism, in Suyi Davies Okungbowa’s epic fantasy, Son of the Storm (read by speculative fiction writer Eugen Bacon).

(4) MUSIC FOR THE SPHERES. Bandcamp Daily “Lost in Space Music: Records That Explore the Outer Limits”.

…This is music that’s literally about outer space itself: its nature and substance, the experience of being in it, its effect on human beings, and the ways we interact with it. The stylistic range of this music is immense; it includes records made by Sun Ra as well as records made by NASA, which not only compiled music to be sent into space (the 1977 Voyager spacecrafts’ Golden Records), but also released the album Symphonies of the Planet, which features sounds captured by the Voyager probes. (Sounds in space? Yes, they’re there.)

There’s even more to explore on this list, which features music about the infinite breadth and depth of outer space, music about crossing almost incomprehensible interstellar distances, romantic narratives about space flight, the ominous power of the universe, and more….

One of these works has the intriguing title Music for Black Holes. Does the tune escape? Or is this what’s on the radio while you’re being pulled in?

(5) PULPS GO FOR RECORD PRICE. The copy of The Shadow #1 (1931) highlighted in Heritage Auction’s The Intelligent Collector ended up selling for $156,000, setting a world record as the most expensive pulp magazine ever sold. 

The character soon was given his own pulp magazine, with the first issue hitting newsstands in 1931. It was an instant hit, with the series running for 325 issues over 18 years. Batman co-creator Bill Finger later acknowledged that his first Batman script was a takeoff on a Shadow story.

Over the decades, the Shadow spawned television shows, movies and comic books. The caped crimefighter would also inspire other pop-culture favorites: Alan Moore’s V for Vendetta, Disney’s Darkwing Duck, and the crime-fighting hero Silver Shroud in the Fallout 4 videogame.

The auction set several other auction records for pulp magazine titles.

  • A 1923 first edition, second-state copy of Weird Tales sold for a record $36,000. The rare variant second-state copy, in attractive Very-Good plus condition, is one of the longest-running and considered among the most influential pulp horror titles ever published.
  • A 1933 first edition of Doc Savage, offered in very good/fine condition, sold for $33,600, shattering the previous auction record paid for the magazine. The copy is the nicest of the five Heritage experts have seen to date, only three of which are unrestored. The previous auction record for a first edition of the title was set by Heritage in December 2020 when a copy sold for $22,800.

(6) IN PIECES. Leonard Maltin pronounces “A Quiet Place Part Ii: A Solid Sequel”.

Sequels don’t usually get my juices going but this follow-up to the 2018 hit movie makes all the right moves. Writer-director John Krasinski wastes no time in revealing the spindly alien creatures who caused such havoc last time… and gives us ample time to examine the disgusting details of their anatomy.

But it’s the human factor–amazing ingenuity and a dogged refusal to surrender—that again takes center stage. Calm and cool-headed as ever, even without her husband to protect her and her family, Emily Blunt sets a great example for her children, an adolescent son (Noah Jupe) who’s braver then he realizes and a daughter (Millicent Simmonds) who refuses to treat her deafness as a shortcoming….

(7) SPOT ON. And he follows up with his view of Cruella: The Devil You Say” at Leonard Maltin’s Movie Crazy.

It says something about our times that a story that once featured cute, heroic dalmatians now focuses on their adversary, a larger-than-life villain (just as Sleeping Beauty has morphed into the saga of Maleficent). Parents should note the PG-13 rating on Cruella, which is earned through a series of nightmarish scenes involving death, abandonment, and revenge. Some children may absorb all of this as make-believe but others might have a different reaction to so much dark matter. I fall into the latter category; I was aghast….

(8) MACLEOD OBIT. Gavin MacLeod, best known as the Captain of The Love Boat and as Murray, a WJM newswriter on The Mary Tyler Moore Show, died May 29 at the age of 90. Before then he worked on a lot of TV shows, and his genre credits included episodes of Men Into Space (1959), The Munsters (1964), The Man from U.N.C.L.E. (1965), My Favorite Martian (twice, 1965 and 1966), and Wonder Woman (1978).

(9) SCAMMELL OBIT. Stuntman Roy Scammell died May 15 – The Guardian has a tribute. He worked on many genre films.

…He worked on several James Bond films and for Stanley Kubrick on the stylised and brutal violence of A Clockwork Orange (1971) and later Barry Lyndon (1975). He also worked on Rollerball (1975), Midnight Express (1978), Alien (1979), Saturn 3 (1980), Flash Gordon (1980, appearing as one of the Hawkmen, hanging from wires for hours in order to achieve the film’s flying sequences), Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan, Lord of the Apes (1984, working with a live panther while dressed as an ape) and Willow (1988).

(10) MEMORY LANE.

  • 1957 — In 1957, J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of The Rings wins the final International Fantasy Award that will be given out. The International Fantasy Award was one of the first awards created to honor works of SF and fantasy as it preceded the Hugos by two years being created in 1951 with its first winner being Earth Abides by George R. Stewart. (It was preceded by both the N3F Laureates and the Invisible Little Man Award.)  It was a British Award in origin having been originally created and promoted by G. Ken Chapman, John Wyndham, Frank Cooper, and Leslie Flood. It gave out six fiction and three non-fiction Awards in total. 

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]

  • Born May 29, 1874 – G.K. Chesterton.  Wrote essays, fiction, poems (is poetry fiction?), plays, biography, criticism; illustrator, journalist, radio broadcaster.  Half a dozen of his eighty books are ours, famously The Napoleon of Notting Hill and The Man Who Was Thursday; eighty of his two hundred shorter stories.  Events in his Father Brown stories turn out not to be fantasy.  But GKC was the prince of paradox.  (Died 1936) [JH]
  • Born May 29, 1901 – Ken Fagg.  A dozen covers for If and a few others; co-creator of world’s largest geophysical relief globe; illustrator for LifeHolidaySaturday Evening Post; art director for 20th Century Fox.  See three of his If wrap-arounds hereherehere.  Here is A Volcanic Eruption on Titan, Sixth Moon of Saturn.  (Died 1980) [JH]
  • Born May 29, 1906 – T.H. White.  We can claim six of his novels (counting The Once and Future King as one – although its publication history made its first part “The Sword in the Stone” eligible for a Retro-Hugo, which we gave it), twenty shorter stories.  He lived to see Once & Future made into the Lerner & Loewe musical Camelot, which L&L told each other was impossible, and they were right, but luckily that didn’t matter.  He translated a Bestiary, called non-fiction, which is like calling Once & Future a children’s story.  (Died 1964) [JH]
  • Born May 29, 1909 — Neil R. Jones. It is thought that “The Death’s Head Meteor”, his first story, which was published in Air Wonder Stories in 1930, could be the first use of “astronaut” in fiction. He also created the use of a future history before either Robert A. Heinlein or Cordwainer Smith did so. They’re collected in The Planet of the Double SunThe Sunless World and a number of other overlapping collections.   He’s a member of the First Fandom Hall of Fame. (Died 1988.) (CE) 
  • Born May 29, 1923 — Genevieve Linebarger. Widow of Cordwainer Smith. She completed several stories after his death in The Instrumentality of Mankind series, to wit “Golden the Ship Was — Oh! Oh! Oh!”, “The Lady Who Sailed the Soul”, “Down to a Sunless Sea” and “Himself in Anachron“.  She shares co-authorship with him on these. (Died 1981.) (CE) 
  • Born May 29, 1930 – Richard Clifton-Dey.  Five dozen covers for us; a hundred total, Westerns, war books, advertising, romance; a few interiors; much unsigned, identified by his widow.  See here (Fritz Leiber), here (Tim Powers), here (H.G. Wells).  (Died 1997) [JH]
  • Born May 29, 1942 — Kevin Conway. His first genre role was as Roland Weary in Slaughterhouse-Five with later roles in Lawnmower Man 2: Beyond Cyberspace and Black Knight, neither of which I suspect many of you have seen. You will likely have seen him in The Lathe of Heaven as Dr. William Haber.  He played Khalistan on “The Rightful Heir” episode of Next Generation, and had one-offs on Dark Angel, Life on Mars and Person of Interest. (Died 2020.) (CE) 
  • Born May 29, 1948 – Larry Kresek, age 74.  Thirty covers for us.  First chair of illustration dep’t, Ringling School of Art & Design; movie posters, record albums, national ads, pharmaceutical illustrations; adviser to education committee, N.Y. Society of Illustrators; professor, Rocky Mountain College of Art & Design; various projects with wife Joan Kresek.  See here (Spider & Jeanne Robinson), here (Theodore Sturgeon), here.  [JH]
  • Born May 29, 1952 – Louise Cooper.  Eighty novels for us: a dozen Time Master novels, also CreaturesDark EnchantmentIndigoMermaid CurseMirror, MirrorSea Horses; a dozen stand-alone novels, another dozen shorter stories.  She and husband Cas Shandall sang with the shanty group Falmouth Shout.  (Died 2009) [JH]
  • Born May 29, 1960 — Adrian Paul, 61. Duncan MacLeod on Highlander. And yes, I watched the whole bloody series though none of the films. His first appearance in genre circles was as Dmitri Benko in the “Ashes, Ashes” episode of the Beauty and the Beast series. He shows up next as Prospero in Masque of the Red Death. He’s got several series before HighlanderWar of the Worlds (not bad at all) where he was John Kincaid, a short lived role as Jeremiah Collins on Dark Shadows and an even shorted lived rolled on Tarzán as Jack Traverse. His first post-Highlander Sf series is Tracker where he plays alien shapeshifter Cole / Daggon.  A decade ago, he returned to a familiar role in Highlander: The Source. His last series role was playing Dante on Arrow.  Note: this is not a complete list. (CE) 
  • Born May 29, 1970 – Erin Healy, age 51.  Three novels for us; half a dozen others, two nonfiction anthologies.  Descended from a brother of Daniel Boone, so he is her great (great-great-great-great-great-great) uncle.  “I thought I’d be a politician, but God used an English professor to save me from that disastrous choice.”  [JH]
  • Born May 29, 1987 — Pearl Mackie, 34. Companion to Twelfth Doctor. The actress was the first openly LGBTQ performer and companion cast in a regular role in Doctor Who. Mackie, says Moffatt, was so chosen as being non-white was not enough. Her other notable genre role was playing Mika Chantry in the audiowork of The Conception of Terror: Tales Inspired by M. R. James. (CE) 
  • Born May 29, 1996 — R. F. Kuang, 25. She’s an award-winning Chinese-American fantasy writer. The Poppy War series, so- called grimdark fantasy, consists of The Poppy War which won the Compton Crook Award for Best First Novel, and The Dragon Republic and The Burning God. She won the 2020 Astounding Award for Best New Writer. (CE) 

(12) COMICS SECTION.

  • Close to Home introduces someone who helps give Hell the reputation it enjoys today.

(13) REMIND YOU OF INDIANA WHOSIS? The movie adaptation of Disney’s Jungle Cruise comes to theaters July 30.

Inspired by the famous Disneyland theme park ride, Disney’s “Jungle Cruise” is an adventure-filled, rollicking thrill-ride down the Amazon with wisecracking skipper Frank Wolff and intrepid researcher Dr. Lily Houghton. Lily travels from London, England to the Amazon jungle and enlists Frank’s questionable services to guide her downriver on La Quila—his ramshackle-but-charming boat. Lily is determined to uncover an ancient tree with unparalleled healing abilities—possessing the power to change the future of medicine. Thrust on this epic quest together, the unlikely duo encounters innumerable dangers and supernatural forces, all lurking in the deceptive beauty of the lush rainforest. But as the secrets of the lost tree unfold, the stakes reach even higher for Lily and Frank and their fate—and mankind’s—hangs in the balance.

 (14) FATED CAST. Learn more about the forthcoming movie Infinite in this Q&A with director Antoine Fuqua at IGN: “Infinite Trailer: Exclusive First Look Photo From the Mark Wahlberg Sci-Fi Action Film”.

What Makes Mark Wahlberg Right for Infinite

Making Infinite feel grounded amidst all the fantastical elements is also the reason why Mark Wahlberg was cast in the lead role of Evan McCauley. “One of Mark’s great qualities is that there’s a sense of authenticity to who he is and there’s a basic decency and sort of a grounding that makes him extremely relatable,” di Bonaventura said. Having an everyman like Wahlberg being the audience’s guide through this heightened world also makes Evan’s skepticism about what he’s discovering mirror the audience’s own gradual suspension of disbelief.

As di Bonaventura put it, “You want a guy that’s saying, ‘Really? You’re going to try to convince me of this. Really? I’m reincarnated?’ And Mark’s great for that. And then, of course, you want him to rise to being the hero, which Mark is very good at. So he fits what we were hoping for out of that character.”

Chiwetel Ejiofor Plays Infinite’s “Tragic Villain”

Every hero needs a strong antagonist and Chiwetel Ejiofor’s character Bathurst is “a tragic villain,” according to Fuqua. “He was once an Infinite that possibly still believed in other things, whether it be God or other things in life. He’s been in constant search of that God, of that spirit, and all he keeps getting is reborn, reborn, reborn, without being enlightened, if you will, so that for him, it’s just becoming darker and darker and more tortured.”…

(15) A TIME FOR EVERY PURPOSE. Amazon Prime dropped a trailer for The Tomorrow War. Available July 2.

In The TOMORROW WAR, the world is stunned when a group of time travelers arrive from the year 2051 to deliver an urgent message: Thirty years in the future mankind is losing a global war against a deadly alien species. The only hope for survival is for soldiers and civilians from the present to be transported to the future and join the fight. Among those recruited is high school teacher and family man Dan Forester (Chris Pratt). Determined to save the world for his young daughter, Dan teams up with a brilliant scientist (Yvonne Strahovski) and his estranged father (J.K. Simmons) in a desperate quest to rewrite the fate of the planet.

(16) BRAIN UPGRADE. Arturo Serrano highlights author Sarah Pinsker’s skillful storytelling in “Review: We Are Satellites” at Nerds of a Feather.

…After David’s implant is revealed to have sensory processing issues, we are carried through a deeply detailed plot of corporate irresponsibility, medical neglect, political opportunism, workplace discrimination, sibling envy, systemic ableism, and the many ways the external world can invade our private choices.

All four family members get first-person chapters, but David’s are the most engaging. The long train of sentences does a great job of conveying his mind’s permanent state of panicked hyperawareness. For example, “He could describe the location of every fly on every wall in a room full of flies but he didn’t notice his body’s reactions until he counterreacted to them.” If the delight of science fiction is making unreal worlds feel close to us, this novel does one better: it makes us live a mental state that has never existed….

(17) ALWAYS LISTEN TO YOUR EDITOR. In the Washington Post, Alexandra Petri says John Steinbeck’s editor told him his stories were great, as long as he took out the werewolves! “John Steinbeck’s editor removes all the werewolves from his work”.

… But I had one question: Why are there so many werewolves?

Just a few instances, going through your work —

“Of Mice and Men and Werewolves”: I don’t think Lennie needs to be a werewolf for this story to work! I think he could just be a guy, although I did like the sad part at the end where George has to load a silver bullet into his gun while telling Lennie to think about rabbits….

[Thanks to Michael Toman, Rob Thornton, John King Tarpinian, Cat Eldridge, John Hertz, Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, Martin Morse Wooster, and JJ for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to contributing editor of the day John A Arkansawyer.]

Hugh Howey Launches Self-Published Science Fiction Competition

Hugh Howey of Wool fame has decided to form the Self-Published Science Fiction Competition (SPSFC).  The contest is modeled after Mark Lawrence’s Self-Published Fantasy Blog-Off, which just named its sixth winner, and has his blessing.

Howey says the SPSFC will run the same way:

Ten book bloggers, up to 300 science fiction novels, a year of reading and reviewing. We will end up with ten finalists and one winner. Next year, we will do it all over again.

The winner gets a badge and a blaster set to “stunning.” Most importantly, they get heaps of recognition and bragging rights. All the finalists and many of the entries will naturally get more eyeballs on their books, which is what authors and eye-eating aliens crave the most.

Right now Howey is taking applications from the bloggers interested in becoming one of the contest’s ten reviewers. To put in your name, click here and fill out the form.

On June 30, the competition will open to submissions from authors who want their books considered. The requirements are:

1) Your book must be a standalone or the first in a series.
2) One book per author. So send your best!
3) It must be a novel, not an anthology.
4) The book must be self-published and available for purchase now.
5) Works must be at least 50,000 words.

[Thanks to Dann for the story.]