Pixel Scroll 11/13/21 Mean Ol’ Pixels, Taught Me To Weep And Scroll

(1) RECORDED AT THE DAWN OF THE INTERNET. In January 2000, Robin Williams signed a 3-year contract with Audible to release a new online audio interview every 2 weeks. The Robin Williams Fansite has a list of them that are available on YouTube here. Among them is “Robin Williams & Harlan Ellison”.

Robin is joined by the inimitable, garrulous, and thoroughly entertaining science fiction writer Harlan Ellison for a gabfest, during which the author and the comedian bounce through topics as diverse as Martian gargoyles, computer vampires, little people vs. midgets, soup vs. sex, the genius of Lenny Bruce, and the many, varied attempts on Ellison’s life. With more than 1,700 stories to his credit – including novels, essays, television and film scripts – it’s obvious that Ellison is a brain to be reckoned with, but it’s never been more apparent than in this fascinating give-and-take with Robin, another force to be reckoned with!

Other points of interest include the four things that got the young Ellison kicked out of college, how he sent a woman “out of her Mesopotamian mind,” the writers-night-out drinking and schmoozing society known as the Hydra Club, and the time when Lester Del Rey inspired L. Ron Hubbard to “cobble up” a religion. Then there’s a discussion of Ellison’s parents (“two pandas who gave birth to a wolverine”) and a determination of where ideas come from (“Schenectady”). Ellison even previews his current project: Incognita, Inc., the story of a Dickensian cartographer who maps hidden cities of literature and lore.

(2) USING OUR X-RAY VISION. The Telegraph article about Peter Capaldi is behind a paywall, however, an interesting quote has been tweeted:

(3) TIME TO CATCH UP. “Ms. Marvel: Kamala Khan’s Origin and Powers Explained”IGN has a complete dossier if you need to know more after seeing the teaser trailer for the new Disney+ series starring Iman Vellani as Kamala Khan.

(4) BOOK POLITICS IN TEXAS. Continuing to follow a story that began with a Texas legislator sending a list of 850 books to schools in the state demanding they tell him if they have these books in their libraries and how much they have spent on them, now the Governor of Texas has issued his own requirements: “Greg Abbott tells state agencies to block books with ‘overly sexual’ content” reports the Texas Tribune.

Gov. Greg Abbott on Monday told state education officials to develop statewide standards preventing “pornography” and “other obscene content in Texas public schools,” citing two memoirs about LGBTQ characters which include graphic images and descriptions of sex.

Abbott’s directive to the Texas Education Agency, Texas State Library and Archives Commission and State Board of Education comes days after the governor told another entity — the Texas Association of School Boards — to determine the extent to which “pornography or other inappropriate content” exists in public schools across the state and to remove it if found. But the association told Abbott it had no regulatory authority over school districts and suggested the governor direct his inquiry to TEA or SBOE.

The political back and forth came on the heels of Keller Independent School District removing a book — “Gender Queer: A Memoir” by Maia Kobabe — from one of its high school libraries after some parents raised concerns over the books’s graphic images. Kobabe’s graphic novel is about the author’s own journey with gender identity. At one point, it includes an illustrations of oral sex and other sexual content, along with discussions related to pronouns, acceptance and hormone-blocking drugs.

In his Nov. 8 letter, Abbott mentioned that book along with “In the Dream House” by Carmen Maria Machado, which the governor said “describes overtly sexual and pornographic acts.” That book along with several others, the governor said, was recently removed from classrooms in Leander Independent School District. “In the Dream House” is a memoir that examines an abusive relationship between two women.

Abbott told education officials Monday that the Texas Association of School Boards had “attempted to wash its hands clean of the issue by abdicating any and all responsibility in the matter.”

“Given this negligence, the State of Texas now calls on you to do what the Texas Association of School Boards refuses to do,” Abbott wrote, saying that the standards the entities develop “must ensure transparency about the materials being taught in the classroom and offered in school libraries.”…

(5) TOP SHELF. Meanwhile, Book Riot’s list of “The Best Cities for Book Lovers in 2022” puts Pasadena, CA at the top of the list. There’s also a bottom 10, with two cities in Texas and four in Nevada.

… The study looked at the 200 biggest cities across the United States, comparing access to a wide variety of book acquisition variables. Among them were public libraries, bookstores, Little Free Libraries, book clubs, and events dedicated to books and reading. Another variable they looked at was the availability of books “in the wild,” based on users on BookCrossing who share books they’ve found, released, and tracked via the website.

The company ranked the top 200 cities from best cities for book lovers to worst cities for book lovers, based on overall scores out of 100 possible points. …

(6) OVAL OFFICERS. Let Atlas Obscura acquaint you with “The Long, Strange History of People Filing Flying Saucer Patents”.

Early in the summer of 1947, an amateur pilot from Idaho named Kenneth Arnold spotted something in the Washington skies that kind of blew his mind….

But the guy who got to the U.S. Patent Office first, surprisingly, wasn’t actually inspired by the popular perception of the UFO at all. He had the idea, in fact, years before Kenneth Arnold took his fateful flight.

The Dutch painter and sculpture artist Alexander Weygers, who grew up in the Dutch East Indies—now Indonesia—and spent most of his adult life in the U.S., was something of a 20th-century Leonardo da Vinci. He had both an engineering and artistic background, and his work spanned sculpture, illustrations, photography, and many other fields….

(7) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

1987 — Thirty-four years ago, The Running Man premiered. Though it was said to be rather loosely off the Richard Bachman, the alias of Stephen King at the time, novel of the same name, a lawsuit would later find that the film was plagiarized in large part from the French movie Le prix du danger which was in turn was based off Robert Sheckley’s “The Prize of Peril” short story. No idea if that film plagiarized Sheckley. 

It was directed by Paul Michael Glaser whose only previous film as a director was described as an “action crime neo noir thriller”. Lots of adjectives there, eh? As you know it starred Arnold Schwarzenegger, María Conchita Alonso, Richard Dawson, Yaphet Kotto, and Jesse Ventura. 

All of the critics thought it was at best paper thin though most including Roger Ebert had high praise for Richard Dawson though few were fond of the role Arnold Schwarzenegger had here. It wasn’t a box office success, earning just thirty-seven million against a budget of twenty-seven million. It has a decent but not outstanding rating of sixty percent among audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes. For reasons not entirely clear, it’s being remade. 

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born November 13, 1887 A. R. Tilburne. Pulp artist who by 1938 was selling cover illustrations to Short Stories and Weird Tales, and in the 1940s he also drew many interior story illustrations for Weird Tales. In 1947 he painted the cover for H. P. Lovecraft’s The Lurking Fear which was published by Avon. (Died 1967.)
  • Born November 13, 1888 Philip Francis Nowlan. He’s best known as the creator of Buck Rogers. The character first appeared in Nowlan’s 1928 novella Armageddon 2419 A.D. as Anthony Rogers. Nowlan and the syndicate John F. Dille Company, later known as the National Newspaper Service syndicate, contracted to adapt the story into a comic strip illustrated by Dick Calkins. The strip made its first newspaper appearance on January 7, 1929. (Died 1940.)
  • Born November 13, 1933 James Daris, 88. He played the role of Creature in the deservedly maligned  “Spock’s Brain” episode. He’d do one-offs in I SpyI Dream of JeannieLand of the GiantsThe Man from U.N.C.L.E. and Mission: Impossible, the latter with Shatner and Nimoy. He retired from after his role in Larva, a horror film.
  • Born November 13, 1934 Garry Marshall. He’s getting Birthday honors for creating along with Dale McRaven and Joe Glauberg the Pam Dawber and Robin Williams-fronted Mork & Mindy series which had a four year run. (I hadn’t realized it was spun off from Happy Days.) And he shows up on Pinky and the Brain twice voicing Mr. Itch – The Devil including in “A Pinky and the Brain Halloween”. (Died 2016.)
  • Born November 13, 1948 John de Lancie, 73. Best known for his role as Q in the Trek multiverse, though I was more fond of him as Janos Barton in Legend which stars Richard Dean Anderson (if you’ve not seen it, go now and watch it).  He was also Jack O’Neill’s enemy Frank Simmons in Stargate SG-1. He has an impressive number of one-offs on genre shows including The Six Million Dollar ManBattlestar Galactica (1978 version), The New Twilight ZoneMacGyverMission: Impossible (the Australian edition which is quite excellent), Get Smart, Again!Batman: The Animated Series, and I’m going to stop there.
  • Born November 13, 1955 Whoopi Goldberg, 66. Best known as Guinan the Barkeep in Ten Forward on Enterprise in Next Gen which she reprised in Generations and Nemesis. Other genre appearances include Ghost, It’s a Very Merry Muppet Christmas Movie, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle to name but a few as she’s very busy performer!
  • Born November 13, 1955 Brenda Clough, 66. She was nominated for a Hugo at ConJosé for her “May Be Some Time” novella. I’m very fond of her fantasy Averidan series. Though very much not genre, I recommend her A Most Dangerous Woman, a sequel to The Woman in White by Wilkie Collin. It’s a serial on, errrr, Serial Box which you can find at the usual suspects. 
  • Born November 13, 1957 Stephen Baxter, 64. Ok I’m going to confess that the only thing I’ve read that he’s written is the Long Earth series with Terry Pratchett.  I’ve only read the first three but they are quite great SF!  Ok I really, really need your help to figure out what else of his that I should consider reading. To say he’s been a prolific writer is somewhat of an understatement and he’s gotten a bonnie bunch of awards as well though no Hugos.  It’s worth noting that Baxter’s story “Last Contact” was nominated for a Hugo for best short story as were quite a number of his other works. 

(9) COMICS UNDER ATTACK. “Ransomware Hits Major US Comic Book Distributor”PCMag has the story.

Maryland-based Diamond Comic Distributors reported it had suffered a ransomware attack that temporarily took down the company’s website and disrupted its ability to process customer orders. 

“Due to the system issues we’re experiencing, some customer shipments of product with an on-sale date of November 10 will be delayed,” the company wrote in an update on Monday. 

(10) 84 SESAME STREET. In the Washington Post, Alexandra Petri asks, “What if Big Bird became Big Brother?” “Big Bird’s vaccine doesn’t make him a communist. This does.”

Big Bird was always watching.

There were fewer puppets on Sesame Street than before, but that was for the best. Not all of them had been loyal. Some of them had objected to the fact that the street formerly known as Sesame Street (it was now Victory Plaza) had been the site of so many public puppet decommissionings. But Big Bird assured them that if they did not get rid of thought traitors, the Paw Patrol would come for them. (They had always been at war with the Paw Patrol.)…

(11) THINKING INSIDE THE BOX. “Gucci made an Xbox Series X for the one percent”Yahoo! described this case of extreme fashion.

…Italian fashion house Gucci has teamed up with the company to release a special edition Xbox Series X that will cost an eye-watering $10,000. The bundle will include the console, two wireless controllers and a very fancy carrying case. Oh, it will also come with Xbox Game Pass Ultimate, in case you were worried….

(12) ADVENTURES WITH A CURSED MERMAN. Albuquerque-based author Zachary Hagen cites as the influences for his first series, The Eternal Chronicles, such writers as Christopher Paolini, J. R. R. Tolkien, and C. S. Lewis. The opening book in the series, Eternity’s Well, was released August 31.

When you lose family, friends, and country, how far is too far?

Elior watched as his twin brother, the only real family he had left run into a building as it disappeared.

Nyx, a cursed merman, watched as his father and best friend were killed in front of him.

Opal’s father died leaving her with a legacy to live up to and a throne to protect.

When they join forces with a wise professor to find the Well of Eternity, can they find answers to their problems? Can the ancient evil lurking in the shadows of society be stopped before it’s too late, or will blood be spilled killing their hope and dooming Lux Terra forever?

Eternity’s Well will hook you from the very beginning and take you on a spellbinding, breathtaking journey through a new world where anything is possible.

(13) RISING TIDE. Chris Rose sent this link with a note: “Given that COP26 just ended (ish)… this feels pretty on topic.” “Everything GREAT About Waterworld!” at CinemaWins.

This is one of those movies from my childhood that I don’t think gets the love it deserves. So here’s everything right with Mad Max 2.5! I mean Waterworld!

(14) GREEN SEASON. “She-Hulk Trailer Reveals Return Of Smart Hulk & Fourth Wall Break”Screen Rant sets the scene:

A new teaser trailer for She-Hulk reveals the return of Smart Hulk to the MCU. She-Hulk is the new Disney+ series starring Tatiana Maslany as Jennifer Walters/She-Hulk, a lawyer by day and She-Hulk when she’s angry. The series showrunner is Jessica Gao and Kat Coiro & Anu Valia serve as directors for the 10-episode series.

Joining Maslany on the show is Tim Roth, once again playing The Abomination/Emil Blonsky, who made his first appearance in 2008’s The Incredible Hulk and recently appeared as the character in Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings. Also joining the cast is Jameela Jamil as She-Hulk villain Titania, as well as Ginger Gonzaga, Josh Segarra, and Renée Elise Goldsberry. Mark Ruffalo is also returning to the show as Bruce Banner/Hulk, although until now it was unclear if he would be in human or Hulk form….

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

Pixel Scroll 1/31/21 The Gripping Hand Is Quicker Than The Eye With A Mote In It

(1) IBA WINNERS. The “Infected by Art 9 Winners” were announced January 18. The jury panel members were Ed Binkley, Tran Nguyen, John Picacio and Dug Stanat. [H/t Locus Online]

Scott Gustafson – St. George and the Dragon

GRAND PRIZE WINNERS

The artworks that won Art Medium Category Honors are listed here.

Hope Doe was also chosen by her peers to win the Body of Work Award for IBA 9.

Out of almost 2,000 pieces submitted to this year’s competition there were 63 artworks that were unanimously selected by the Jury Panel through their rounds of voting which have been given special recognition. What the Jury Panel felt were the best pieces submitted to IBA 9 can be viewed at the link. See all 336 artworks selected for IBA 9 here.

Infected by Art Volume 9 will have 269 artists represented. IBA 9 will go into production in Spring and debut next Fall at IX 2021.

(2) PERPETUAL FAVORITE. In the Washington Post, Danny Freedman discusses The Monster At The End Of This Book, a Sesame Street Little Golden Book which has sold 13 million copies, been turned into a book app and a half-hour animated special on HBO Max, and introduced generations of four-year-olds to metafiction. “’The Monster at the End of this Book’ is still a hit”.

… It’s one of the top-10 selling Little Golden Books of all time. A decade-old interactive app version has been downloaded more than half a million times and is among the most popular book apps. Last fall, HBO Max released an animated special based on the book, giving sales another bump.

All of that has made “The Monster at the End of This Book” an unlikely constant, at a rarefied height, though it still chases the iconic status of picture books such as “The Cat in the Hat,” “Goodnight Moon” and “Where the Wild Things Are.”

And the book’s long tail of influence is out of proportion with its 24 pages and its cardboard cover devoid of medallions. It’s come to be regarded as an evolutionary step in children’s metafiction, nudging further the creation of stories that “demystify bookmaking for children and invite them to sort of get their hands dirty,” says children’s book historian Leonard Marcus.

(3) WISCON 2021. Due to the pandemic there will not be a full-scale WisCon in 2021, only a small event sufficient to honor the hotel contract. The guests of honor have once again been rolled forward to the next in-person WisCon in 2022: Rebecca Roanhorse and Yoon Ha Lee, who were originally invited to attend WisCon 44 in 2020; as well as Sheree Renée Thomas and Zen Cho, who were originally invited to attend WisCon 45 in 2021.

What will happen instead?
Firstly, we are in the process of planning a much smaller in-person event to occur at the Concourse Hotel in May in order to fulfill the contract we signed with them. This would look something like an intensive workshop event, rather than a convention, and the Workshops department has been looking into how it could work. The number of attendees would also be vastly reduced, in compliance with whatever guidance Public Health Madison & Dane County has in place at the time. We’ll be talking again with the Concourse Hotel this month and probably again later to revisit these plans.

The group would also like to plan another WisCONline to occur in 2021 if they can get enough help.

(4) THE MILENNIUM APPROACHES. James Davis Nicoll is making a list and checking it twice – of the number of works he’s reviewed on his blog. James says, “I have just discovered I am 4 1/2 books away from having reviewed an even one thousand books by women.”

Grand Total to Date
1770 works reviewed. 994.5 by women (56%), 738.5 by men (42%), 21 by non-binary authors (1%), 15 by gender unknown (1%), 488.75 by POC (28%)

(5) MEET THE FANEDS. Cora Buhlert has two more Fanzine Spotlight posts, one for Runalong the Shelves, a UK book blog by “Runalong Womble”, and the other for Warp Speed Odyssey, a Canadian SFF site.

Tell us about your site or zine.

Runalong The Shelves is now in its fourth year and is very much a book blog with a big focus on reviewing science fiction and fantasy but also interested in horror and the occasional thriller. You may find me interviewing authors on recent works; answering the odd book tag and taking part in a small annual blogger jury award named Subjective Chaos Kind of Award which is a lot of fun debating books with different bloggers. I try to be diverse both in the types of books I review but also increasingly promoting the diverse voices creating them which I think is a wonderful move for our genre (and way overdue)

Who are the people behind your site or zine?

I [Steven Morrissette] started by myself slowly but then I met Jean-Paul Garnier from Space Cowboy Books who was of tremendous help and also became the first contributing author, reviewing some books and conducting some interviews for Warp Speed Odyssey. Furthermore, Robin Rose Graves who is a friend of Jean-Paul became the second contributing author submitting book reviews and interviews as well. And Finally, there is my sister Jessica who started translating some of the articles into french.

(6) DE FOREST OBIT. The Space Review reported the death of Kellam de Forest (1926–2021) on January 19 from complications due to COVID-19: “Kellam de Forest, who gave us Stardates and the Gorn”.

…De Forest was one of two technical advisors that Gene Roddenberry employed during the production of the original Star Trek television series….

With a degree in American history from Yale, de Forest made many major contributions to the original television series created by Gene Roddenberry including developing the idea of the Stardate, which he supplied for Star Trek’s second pilot, “Where No Man Has Gone Before.”

(7) TODAY’S DAY.

January 31 Gorilla Suit Day

Mad Magazine artist Don Martin created the idea of Gorilla Suit Day for a 1963 comic strip in which a character mocks the holiday and is then assaulted by gorillas and people in gorilla suits. 

(8) MEDIA ANNIVERSARIES.

  • 1981 — Forty years ago, Clifford D. Simak’s “Grotto of the Dancing Deer” wins the Hugo Award for Short Story at Denvention Two. It would also win a Nebula, and both Locus and Analog Science Fiction/Science Fact would make it their first place pick that year. It was originally published in Analog Science Fiction/Science Fact in the April 1980 issue.
  • January 31, 1993 Space Rangers came to a quick end on CBS, airing its fouth of sixth episodes, “To Be … Or Not To Be”. (The final two episodes aired later.) It was created by Pat Densham, and it starred a cast that arguably was larger than the length of the series: Jeff Kaake, Jack McGee, Marjorie Monaghan, Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa, Danny Quinn, Clint Howard, Linda Hunt and Gottfried John. The series is available on DVD which is out of print at this point. 

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]

  • Born January 31, 1901 – Maria Luise Kaschnitz.  Highly regarded as a poet; also prose fiction, essays.  A novel and a few shorter stories for us; «Gespenster» is in English as “Ghosts!”  Outside our field, see The House of ChildhoodCirce’s Mountain and Long Shadows (shorter stories); Whether or Not (tr. of memoir Steht noch dahin, more literally Still there); Selected Later Poems.  Büchner Prize, Roswitha Prize.  Kaschnitz Prize named for her.  (Died 1974) [JH]
  • Born January 31, 1927 —  Norm Prescott. Co-founder and executive producer at Filmation Associates, an animation studio he created with veteran animator Lou Scheimer. The studio is responsible for such productions as The New Adventures of SupermanFantastic VoyageThe Batman/Superman Hour and Star Trek: The Animated Series. (Died 2005.) (CE) 
  • Born January 31, 1937 —  Philip Glass, 84. 1000 Airplanes on the Roof: A Science Fiction Music-DramaEinstein on the BeachThe Making of the Representative for Planet 8 (with a libretto by Doris Lessing based on her novel of the same name), The marriages between zones three, four, and five (1997, libretto by Doris Lessing, after her second novel from Canopus in Argos), The Witches of Venice and The Juniper Tree would be a very fragmentary listing of his works that have a genre underpinning.  (CE) 
  • Born January 31, 1934 – Gene DeWeese.  Fan and pro. Thirty novels, as many shorter stories, some with Buck Coulson; almost three hundred reviews in “Once Over Lightly” for SF Review.  Now You See It/Him/Them and Charles Fort Never Mentioned Wombats, both with Buck, are classic faan fiction, i.e. fiction by fans about fans; Now is set at Discon II the 32nd Worldcon and has more or less recognizably e.g. Dean Grennell, George Scithers, Buck’s wife Juanita; Charles is a sequel set in Sydney just before Aussiecon I the 32nd Worldcon with e.g. Rusty Hevelin, Denny Lien, Bob Tucker.  (Died 2012) [JH]
  • Born January 31, 1941 —  Jonathan Banks, 80. First genre role was as Deputy Brent in Gremlins, a film I adore. In the same year, he’s a Lizardo Hospital Guard in another film I adore, The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension. Ahhh, a good year indeed. Next I see him playing Michelette in Freejack, another better than merely good sf film. The last thing I see him doing film wise is voicing Rick Dicker in the fairly recent Incredibles 2.  Series wise and these are just my highlights, I’ve got him on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine as Shel-la in the “Battle Lines” episode, in Highlander: The Series as Mako in the “Under Colour of Authority” episode and as Kommander Nuveen Kroll in short lived Otherworld series. In SeaQuest 2032 also had for two episodes as Maximillian Scully. (CE)
  • Born January 31, 1959 – Laura Lippman, age 62.  Three short stories for us and, little as I like titles with colonitis, “In a Strange City: Baltimore and the Poe Toaster”.  Next door in detective fiction she has won the Agatha, Anthony, Barry, Edgar, Gumshoe, Nero, and Shamus Awards. Three NY Times Best-Sellers that I know of.  Writes in a neighborhood coffee shop.  Teaches at Goucher College.  [JH]
  • Born January 31, 1960 —  Grant Morrison, 61. If you can find it, his early stuff on such U.K. publishers as Galaxy Media and Harrier Comics is worth searching out. Not your hero in tights materials at all. For his work in that venue, I’d recommend his run on The Resurrection of Ra’s al Ghul, all of his Doom Patrol work (and the HBO series is based on his work and is quite spectacular), Seven Soldiers and The Multiversity which is spectacularly weird. (CE) 
  • Born January 31, 1963 – Jeffrey Scott Savage, age 58.  A dozen novels for us, half a dozen others.  Has been a plumber and a French chef.  To “What is your favorite book that you didn’t write?” he answered “I am always discovering new books that I love.  But if I had to pick my very favorite of all time, it would probably be Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.”  [JH]
  • Born January 31, 1967 Sam Weller, 54. Author of Ray Bradbury: The Last InterviewShadow Show: All New Stories in Celebration of Ray Bradbury (co-edited with Mort Castle), The Bradbury Chronicles: The Life of Ray Bradbury and Listen to the Echoes: The Ray Bradbury Interviews. He also recently published his first collection of short fiction, Dark Black. (CE) 
  • Born January 31, 1975 – Krista McGee, age 46.  Three novels for us, as many others. Said C.S. Lewis’ Space trilogy “is … fantastic … underappreciated…. a brilliant work of science fiction, well worth the time and effort it takes to read.”  [JH]
  • Born January 3, 1981 – Chris McCoy, age 40.  Has a wicked tennis serve.  Went via a writing scholarship to Australia, New Zealand, Fiji.  First novel for us actually called Scurvy Goonda.  Although, in case you couldn’t tell, I don’t always agree with Kirkus, its reviewer said “imaginary friends – no, ‘Abstract Companions’ – are … manufactured … in Orion’s Belt….  all … vanish suddenly … recruited into an army of Ab-Coms….  [In] a climactic battle … a gigantic slab of bacon and melted-down video games figure prominently.”  Next, The Prom-Goer’s Interstellar Excursion.  [JH]
  • Born January 31, 1987 Sabaa Tahir, 34. Pakistani-American YA writer best known for her NYT-bestselling An Ember in the Ashes series and its sequels.  An Ember in the Ashes, the first novel in the now four novels deep series, was nominated for the David Gemmell Awards for Fantasy.(CE) 

(10) COMICS SECTION.

  • Tom Gauld: “Waiting for Godot to Join the Zoom Meeting”

(11) ON THE SPINNER RACK. Cora Buhlert reaches back to the Sixties to review a then-new paperback for Galactic Journey: “[January 22, 1966] Monks, Demi-Gods and Cat People: The Sword of Lankor by Howard L. Cory”.

The Sword of Lankor by Howard L. Cory plunges us right in medias res with our hero, the mercenary Thuron of Ulmekoor embroiled in a tavern brawl in the city of Taveeshe on the planet of Lankor. Thuron is certainly the perfect protagonist, because – so the author assures us – “adventure followed him around like a friendly puppy”. He’s also tall, strong and a skilled swordsman.

During the tavern brawl, Thuron saves the life of Gaar, a member of a race of furry cat people called Kend. As a result, Gaar is now Thuron’s servant for a year and a day, as the customs of his people demand. But Gaar brings other skills to the partnership as well, for he is an oracle, conjurer and pickpocket. Gaar is also the brains of the duo, while Thuron is the brawn.

If you are reminded at this point of Fritz Leiber’s Fafhrd and Gray Mouser stories, you are not alone. And indeed the Burroughs comparison on the backcover is misleading, for there are many authors that The Sword of Lankor is more reminiscent of than Burroughs.

(12) BABYLON 5 VISUALS UPGRADED. Engadget delivers the good news that “’Babylon 5 Remastered’ now available to buy or stream on HBO Max”.

Nearly thirty years after its first broadcast and close to twenty since its troubled DVD release, Babylon 5 is finally getting a polish. From today, Warner Bros. is launching Babylon 5 Remastered both as a digital download (from iTunes and Amazon where available globally) and on HBO Max. It might not be the perfect version of the show that its creators had intended, but it’s likely the best we’re gonna get. 

A Warner Bros. spokesperson told Engadget that Babylon 5 Remastered has been scanned from the original camera negative. The film sequences were scanned in 4K and then “finished,” or downscaled, back to HD, with a dirt and scratch clean-up, as well as color correction. The show’s CGI and composite sequences, meanwhile, have been digitally upscaled to HD with only some minor tweaks where absolutely necessary.

In order to maintain visual quality and fidelity between the show’s filmed and effects-heavy sequences, the new version is only available in 4:3. That’s the same format that the show was originally broadcast in, rather than the widescreen DVD releases….

(13) THAT’S HEDLEY. The Reprobate tells how Warner went through the charade of producing a Blazing Saddles TV series to hold onto its rights to make a sequel to Mel Brooks’ movie: “Black Bart – The Buried TV Sequel To Blazing Saddles”. I must have blinked and missed the pilot when it aired in 1975. The IMDB listing is here.

….But perhaps the most absurd of these contractual obligation projects came with Blazing Saddles, which was adapted into a TV series that ran for four seasons – which would suggest a major hit show by 1970s television standards, except for the fact that it never aired. Not a single episode beyond the pilot was shown on TV anywhere.

…What the cast and crew thought of all this is hard to gauge – Gossett has talked about the weirdness of it all, but you have to wonder just how anyone managed to drum up any enthusiasm once it became clear that the show would never air. Ironically, the plans for a Blazing Saddles sequel ultimately went nowhere – by 1979, it was clear that the moment had passed and audience tastes had changed. The sequel was shelved, and the series was finally cancelled. The pilot episode has since turned up on the Blazing Saddles DVD and blu-ray, but the other episodes have yet to be seen. It’s entirely possible that they were never even completed beyond the ones shown to Brooks, and may have been trashed

(14) BRIDGE OVER TROUBLED WATERS. “Army robots made of robots? New LEGO-like method could make it happen” reports Army Times.

…“Robots rearranging to form a bridge made of robots, similar to ants, is one embodiment of our concept of structural robotics, which blur the line between active and passive elements and feature reconfigurability. It is still a motivating use case for the system, but we are looking at broader implications for ground robotics which are adaptable, reconfigurable, and resilient,” said Dr. Christopher Cameron, an Army researcher.

Researchers are also interested in building those impact-absorbing materials for similar robots. Using the LEGO-lattice configuration paired with injection molding helps for rapid assembly. And they don’t have to do just one thing.

That method of building the structures could give them a combination of characteristics such as becoming thicker when force is applied, getting stiff or flexible, depending on the need or reaction. And by using these materials in these ways, researchers said that larger structures can be put together than with conventional materials used in robots today.

(15) CRIME’S A WASTIN’. [Item by Cora Buhlert.] This is hilarious: “Midsomer Murders ‘Series Finale’: Finally An Explanation for all Those Murders” at Mystery Tribune.

DCI Barnaby looked down at the body and then at me. “Everyone else is dead or in jail. So, I’m going to guess you’re the murderer.”…

(16) VIDEO OF THE DAY. Thomas J. Yagodinski created “Jawa Plays Eruption: A Stop Motion Tribute to the Great Edward Van Halen”.

…This was an extremely FUN way to pay respects to a musical Legend and to also challenge myself to recreate Eddie’s amazing solo, frame by frame via stop motion animation. Is it perfect? Of course not, that’s impossible and nothing ever is 🙂 The Jawa is a stop motion puppet I fabricated and the guitar is the 1:4 scale (16inch) Mini Guitar (#EVH?-004) that I further customized.

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

Pixel Scroll 12/8/19 Why The Pixel Shudders When It Perceives The Scroll

(1) MCINTYRE BEQUEST. Clarion West announced in August that they are the recipient of the literary assets of Vonda N. McIntyre, who wished that the organization manage her literary copyrights in perpetuity. Locus Online in an article today reported —  

She also left a bequest of $387,129 to the program, the largest single financial gift in the organization’s history: “The bequest will bolster the Clarion West endowment, strengthening our mission and ensuring our financial stability for years. Vonda’s extraordinary generosity will allow Clarion West to continue to support emerging writers for generations to come.” Janna Silverstein has joined as literary contract manager, and will advise Clarion West on how to manage “all copyright materials.”

(2) A BORROWER AND A LENDER BE. In the Washington Post, Heather Kelly looks at dedicated e-book patrons who sign up with multiple library systems (including out of state ones) because e-book sales to libraries are rationed and signing up for multiple libraries is the only way to quickly check out popular e-book titles: “E-books at libraries are a huge hit, leading to long waits, reader hacks and worried publishers”.

…And while there are technically an infinite number of copies of digital files, e-books also work differently. When a library wants to buy a physical book, it pays the list price of about $12 to $14, or less if buying in bulk, plus for services like maintenance. An e-book, however, tends to be far more expensive because it’s licensed from a publisher instead of purchased outright, and the higher price typically only covers a set number of years or reads.

That means Prince’s recently released memoir “The Beautiful Ones” recently had a four-week wait for the e-book in San Francisco. Library-goers in Ohio’s Cuyahoga County were waiting 13 weeks to download Jia Tolentino’s book of essays, “Trick Mirror.”

Library e-book waits, now often longer than for hard copies, have prompted some to take their memberships to a new extreme, collecting library cards or card numbers to enable them to find the rarest or most popular books, with the shortest wait.

(3) CLARION WEST SCHOLARSHIP CREATED. With a gift of $1,000, Blue Corn Creations, a publishing firm undertaking a variety of Native American-themed projects, has launched a scholarship for writers of Native American descent at the Clarion West Writers Workshop: “Blue Corn Creations Sponsors Scholarship for Native American Writers”

 “We’re excited about developing the next generation of Native superhero, science fiction, and action/adventure stories,” said Rob Schmidt, owner of Blue Corn Creations. “To do that, we also need to develop the next generation of Native writers. This scholarship will help accomplish that.”

Clarion West has helped emerging writers reach for their dreams of professional careers in speculative fiction since 1971. Every summer, aspiring science fiction and fantasy writers attend the Clarion West Writers Workshop, a six-week intensive whose instructors include the best and brightest in the genre. Attendees benefit from the opportunity to hone their craft with the guidance of successful writers.

“Historically the field has reflected the same prejudices found in the culture around it, leading to proportionately fewer successful writers of color,” according to Clarion West’s vision statement. That’s why the Blue Corn Creations scholarship is a great fit with Clarion West’s mission, said Schmidt. “With it the workshop can serve another group with untapped potential: Native Americans.”

The Blue Corn Creations Scholarship for students of Native descent will help cover tuition, fees, and lodging for one student in 2020. The winner will be awarded in a blind judging to those indicating an interest on the application form. 

…Blue Corn Creations and Clarion West encourage others to contribute to the scholarship fund. The goal is to establish a permanent full scholarship for students of Native American descent.

(4) BAIZE WHITE MOURNED. Mark Oshiro is going on immediate hiatus while he deals with the sudden death of his partner Baize White.

The pair figured in an important story about Code of Conduct enforcement in 2016 when they surfaced issues of mistreatment at a midwestern con: “Mark Oshiro Says ConQuesT Didn’t Act On His Harassment Complaints”.

(5) SPINNEY OBIT. Sesame Street’s Caroll Spinney died December 8 reports the New York Times:

Sometimes he stood 8 feet 2 inches tall. Sometimes he lived in a garbage can. He often cited numbers and letters of the alphabet, and for nearly a half century on “Sesame Street” he was Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch, opening magic doors for children on the secrets of growing up and the gentle arts of friendship.

His name was Caroll Spinney — not that many people would know it — and he was the comfortably anonymous whole-body puppeteer who, since the 1969 inception of the public television show that has nurtured untold millions of children, had portrayed the sweet-natured, canary-yellow giant bird and the misanthropic, furry-green bellyacher in the trash can outside 123 Sesame Street.

…Big Bird appeared in “The Muppet Movie” (1979) and “The Muppets Take Manhattan” (1984), and in 1985 starred in “Sesame Street Presents: Follow That Bird,” in which a meddlesome social worker sends him to live with “his own kind,” a family of dodos in “darkest Illinois.” He runs away, and has a cross-country adventure.

…With the impending 50th anniversary of “Sesame Street” in October 2018, Mr. Spinney left the show after his own remarkable half-century run as the embodiment of two of the most beloved characters on television and one of the last surviving staff members who had been with the show from its beginning.

(6) AUBERJONOIS OBIT. René Auberjonois, known to fans as Star Trek: Deep Space Nine’s shapeshifting Odo, died December 8. Variety noted his famous roles in and out of genre: “René Auberjonois, ‘Star Trek’ and ‘Boston Legal’ Actor, Dies at 79”.

Auberjonois was a prolific television actor, appearing as Paul Lewiston in 71 episodes of “Boston Legal” and as Clayton Runnymede Endicott III in ABC’s long-running sitcom “Benson” — a role that earned him an Emmy nomination for best supporting actor in a comedy in 1984. He played shape-shifter Changeling Odo in “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine,” and carried that role into video games, voicing Odo in “Harbinger” and “The Fallen.” His appearance as Judge Mantz in ABC’s “The Practice” earned him another Emmy nod for guest actor in a drama in 2001.

… Other film credits include Roy Bagley in 1976’s “King Kong” and Reverend Oliver in “The Patriot,” as well as parts in “Batman Forever,” “Eyes of Laura Mars” and “Walker.”

…Auberjonois was also known for his voice roles, particularly in 1989’s Disney Renaissance hit “The Little Mermaid,” in which he voices Chef Louis and sang the memorable “Les Poissons.” Fans of “The Princess Diaries” would recognize him as the voice of Mia Thermopolis’ father, Prince Philippe Renaldi, in an uncredited role.

(7) TODAY IN HISTORY.

  • December 8, 1954 The Atomic Kid premiered.  It was produced by Maurice Duke and Mickey Rooney, and directed by Leslie H. Martinson. It stars Mickey Rooney, Elaine Devry and Robert Strauss. This is the film showing in 1955 at the Town Theater in Back to the Future

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born December 8, 1861 Georges Méliès. Best known as a film director for A Trip to the Moon (Le Voyage dans la Lune) which he said was influenced by sources including Verne’s From the Earth to the Moon and Around the Moon. (Died 1938.)
  • Born December 8, 1894 E. C Segar. Best known as the creator of Popeye who first appeared in 1929 in Segar’s comic strip Thimble Theatre. Popeye’s first line in the strip, upon being asked if he was a sailor, was “Ja think I’m a cowboy?” J. Wellington Wimpy was another character in this strip that I’m fond of.  (Died 1938.)
  • Born December 8, 1916 Richard Fleischer. Starting in the early Fifties, he’s got he an impressive string of genre films as a Director — 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea, Fantastic Voyage (which came in second to Star Trek’s “The Menagerie” at NyCon 3 in that Hugo category), Doctor DoolittleSoylent Green (placed third in Hugo voting), Conan The Destroyer and Red Sonja during the thirty year run of his career. (Died 2006.)
  • Born December 8, 1939 Jennie Linden, 80. She’s here for being Barbara in Dr. Who and the Daleks, the 1965 non-canon film. Her next genre forays were both horror comedies, she was in A Severed Head as Georgie Hands, and she’d later be in Vampira as Angela. She’d show up in Sherlock Holmes and The Saint as well. 
  • Born December 8, 1950 Rick Baker, 69. Baker won the Academy Award for Best Makeup a record seven times from a record eleven nominations, beginning when he won the first award given for An American Werewolf in London.  So what else is he known for? Oh, I’m not listing everything, but his first was The Thing with Two Heads and I’ll single out The Exorcist, Star Wars, The Howling which I quite love, Starman for the Starman transformation, Beast design on the  Beauty and the Beast series and the first Hellboy film version.
  • Born December 8, 1951 Brian Attebery, 68. If I was putting together a library of reference works right now, Attebery would be high on the list of authors at the center of my shopping list. I think The Fantasy Tradition in American Literature: From Irving to Le Guin is still essential reading and Parabolas of Science Fiction with Veronica Hollinger is very close to a Grand Unification Theory of the Genre. 
  • Born December 8, 1953 Kim Basinger, 66. She was the of Bond girl Domino Petachi in Never Say Never Again. After that, it’s Vicki Vale in Burton’s Batman as far as we’re tracking her. (We’re pretending My Stepmother Is an Alien never happened.) Ahhhh, Holli Would In Cool World… there’s an odd film.

(9) COMICS SECTION.

  • Non Sequitur has Alexa working on helping you to become a better writer.

(10) 124C2020. Nicholas Whyte is able to tell us all about the coming year because he’s been reading its history for years: “Life in 2020, as portrayed in science fiction”. Here’s what one author has in store for us:

In 1907, the gloriously named Horace Newte published The master beast : being a true account of the ruthless tyranny inflicted on the British people by socialism A. D. 1888-2020, republished in 1919 as The Red Fury: Britain Under Bolshevism. Unlike the other two, Bellamy isn’t mentioned explicitly but it’s clearly a response all the same. Newte’s hero is dismayed to see socialists come to power in Britain at the start of the twentieth century, followed of course by a successful German invasion. He then sleeps from 1911 to 2020, and awakes to find a morally degenerate country where women behave with dreadful freedom. But England is then invaded again, this time by African and Chinese forces, and he escapes to France. It’s online here.

(11) A SEASON FOR GIVING. Nerds of a Feather helps fans with their holiday shopping in a series of posts about gift suggestions, such as — “Holiday Gift Guide: Games (All Kinds!)”. Adri Joy’s enthusiasm about the Goose Game is contagious.

Untitled Goose Game (Recommended by Adri)

It will come as a surprise to nobody that Untitled Goose Game is my pick for a video game gift this year. This year’s most memeable game, from indie developer House House, combines elaborate stealth-based mechanics with the aesthetics of a rural English village, and puts you in the shoes (well, the webbed feet) of a horrible goose completing a number of tasks to mess with a series of villagers. Featuring four main areas for mischief which open up into an increasingly elaborate world, its a game whose puzzles are satisfying and unrepentantly sadistic, with a great flow through the “level-based” tasks and into more elaborate post-game tests. There’s also plenty of fun to be have in tasks which serve no in-game purpose apart from the pure-hearted joy of being a goose, and while this isn’t quite Breath of the Wild levels of “exploring the world because its there” content, it’s still a diversion that can be returned to even once your goose to-do is all crossed off.

(12) BREAKING IN. The Odyssey Writing Workshop posted an interview with Guest Lecturer JG Faherty.

Once you started writing seriously, how long did it take you to sell your first piece? What were you doing wrong in your writing in those early days?

I started writing fiction in 2004, but prior to that I had been writing non-fiction for a long time. Laboratory manuals and procedures, business documents, etc. Then I got a part-time gig writing elementary school test preparation guides for The Princeton Review. That required writing fictional reading passages. I found I liked it, and here’s where real serendipity enters the equation. Makes you wonder if Fate really exists. I wanted to write horror and sci-fi, so I attended a convention (LunaCon) in New York, where I met Odyssey Director Jeanne Cavelos. We talked, and she said I should submit something to an anthology she was working on. I had two days before the deadline. I went home and wrote like a fiend. Finished my first-ever short story and sent it to her, unedited, unproofed.

It got rejected, of course.

But she sent it back with a note saying I almost made it in, I had real talent, and I should keep writing. So I did. And a year later I made my first professional sale, a short story. The year after that, it was two pieces of flash fiction and some poems. Then another couple of short stories. I went on like that for five years, all while also working on my first novel, which was published in 2010.

In those days, I’d have to say I was doing EVERYTHING wrong! I didn’t know about using editors or beta readers. I thought you just proofed your work and the publishers edited it. I didn’t know about first or third drafts. I didn’t know how to write a cover letter. I didn’t know anyone in the business except Jeanne. Over time, I attended more conventions. Met people. Joined the Horror Writers Association and the Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America. Took some classes. Learned how to edit properly.

And gradually, the quality of my work improved.

(13) BUT WAIT, THERE’S MORE. In “The Hugo Initiative: They’d Rather Be Right (1955, Best Novel)”, after mustering all the possible explanations for the book’s unlikely victory, Nerds of a Feather’s Joe Sherry drops this bomb:

Is They’d Rather Be Right the worst Hugo Award winning novel of all time? I’m in the minority of readers who hated The Three-Body Problem, so that will always be in contention for my personal Worst Hugo Winner of All Time category.

(14) BONES. The New York Review of Books’ Verlyn Klinkenborg dismisses their own question “What Were Dinosaurs For?” while covering a selection of dino books.

…As I was reading some recent books on dinosaurs, I kept wondering, “What were dinosaurs for?” It’s a ridiculous question, and I wondered why I was wondering it. After all, dinosaurs were “for” exactly what we are “for,” what every organism has been “for” since life began. Every species that has ever lived is a successful experiment in the enterprise of living, and every species is closely kinned at the genetic level with all other species. This is harder to grasp than it seems, partly because the logic of that Satanic preposition—“for”—is so insidious, so woven through the problem of time. Teleology is the moralizing of chronology, and nowadays science tries to keep watch for even the slightest trace of it, any suggestion that evolution has a direction tending to culminate in us or in what we like to call intelligence or in any other presumably desirable end point.

(15) LEGACY. PopHorror interviewed the actor about his myriad projects including his one-man Ray Bradbury show: “He’s No Dummy – Actor Bill Oberst, Jr. Talks ‘Handy Dandy,’ Ray Bradbury And Bill Moseley’s Beard”.

PopHorror: Are you still touring with Ray Bradbury Forever (Live)?

Bill Oberst, Jr.: Yes. I’ve got a show in Atlanta next year and then I’m going to Walla Walla, Washington. I wanted to go there just so I could say Walla Walla. It’s fun. And then I’ll be performing at some libraries next year because it will be the 100th anniversary of Ray’s birth. We did it on Broadway, and we did it in Los Angeles. We did about ten performances last year, so I learned what worked and what didn’t work. My goal is to get it to the point where people who know nothing at all about Ray Bradbury, people who have never read a word of his, can say, “Wow, I got something out of that.” I’m not interested in the Wikipedia info, where he was born and what he wrote and all that.

Think about it: after we’re all gone and all the people who have known us are gone, what’s left of Tracy and Bill? What were our lives lived for? What did we stand for? What is it about us that future people can say, “Well, I don’t know anything about Tracy or Bill, but this thing they did could apply to my life.” That’s the test. In 100 years, who is going to remember you unless you have some legacy, some mark.

[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, John King Tarpinian, JJ, Darrah Chavey, Chip Hitchcock, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, Danny Sichel, Nicholas Whyte, Michael Toman, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day David Shallcross.]

Pixel Scroll 9/24/19 Scroll If You Must This Old Great Head, But Dare Not Say Aught Bad About Cheesecake

(1) LE GUIN FELLOWSHIP. Shelley Streeby is the 2019 winner of the Le Guin Feminist Science Fiction Fellowship sponsored by UO Libraries’ Special Collections and University Archives at the University of Oregon. [Via Locus Online.]

The intention of the Le Guin Feminist Science Fiction Fellowship is to encourage research within collections in the area of feminist science fiction. The UO Libraries Special Collections and University Archives (SCUA) houses the papers of authors Ursula K. Le Guin, Joanna Russ, James Tiptree, Jr., Kate Wilhelm, Suzette Haden Elgin, Sally Miller Gearhart, Kate Elliot, Molly Gloss, Laurie Marks, and Jessica Salmonson, along with Damon Knight…

This award supports travel for the purpose of research on, and work with, the papers of feminist science fiction authors housed in SCUA. These short-term research fellowships are open to undergraduates, master’s and doctoral students, postdoctoral scholars, college and university faculty at every rank, and independent scholars working in feminist science fiction. In 2019, $2,000 will be awarded to conduct research within these collections.

(2) FOR THE COOKIE MONSTER WHO LIVES WITH YOU. Bustle tells how Trader Joe’s Haunted House Chocolate Cookie Kit bridges the holidays.

Just in case you missed it, all of Trader Joe’s Halloween and pumpkin products have officially hit shelves for 2019, so autumn is finally in full delicious swing. Joining all of our spooky favorites in this year’s lineup is the Trader Joe’s Haunted House Chocolate Cookie Kit, a crowd-pleaser and returner from last year that will tide you over until gingerbread house season finally arrives. (Although this is arguably much better — what gingerbread house can also boast that it’s haunted?)

As usual, Joe is nothing if not prepared — the kit comes ready with everything your spooky little HGTV-loving heart desires. It contains six different chocolate cookie pieces to make up the house, plus an extra cookie ghost for spooky ambiance.

(3) BAD CHECK TREK. John G. Hertzler, who played Martok on Star Trek: Deep Space 9, has written a Facebook post about his bad experience with Jerry Silber of NE Trek Con in Albany, NY in 2016.

…Just as he did with Aron [Eisenberg] and Bob [O’Reilly], at the conclusion of the convention, Mr. Silber looked me straight in the eye and handed me a bad check that he not only failed to write a number that agreed with the alphabetical amount but he post dated it for nearly a week in the future. He knew what he was doing! I didn’t notice because I trusted him. Bob trusted him. Aron trusted him. Mike Friedman trusted him. Garrett Wang, Max Grodenchik, Chris Abbott trusted him. All were handed bad checks. All were stiffed at the end of the weekend during which we all gave 110% of our ability to entertain and inspire the fans of Star Trek. Aron gave perhaps a little more…like 150%…but he always did. It’s not the money….it’s the betrayal of trust and then the dishonesty. Because I live in New York state, it was fairly simple for me to sue Mr. Silber in small claims court to make good on his check. The judge listened to both sides of the issue and found in my favor in approximately 5 minutes. A judgement was made against Mr. Silber that would follow him about for 20 years or until paid. In two days, it was paid. Somehow he found the money! That was great for me but there were my friends and colleagues who were still left with nothing….

(4) SUPERSTINKERS. James Davis Nicoll makes it sound like you want to be careful not to create any gaps in your urban ecology, because who knows what will move into it: “The Care and Feeding of Supervillains” at Tor.com.

…After all, it’s a lot easier to track down people in bright, garish costumes whose mental quirks compel them to leave riddles, jokes, maps, and large billboards hinting at crimes to come. This is the moment where our roof-runner should stop and think.

Mishandling these eccentrics means the difference between living somewhere like the Silver Age Central City, where rogues were willing to follow rules of engagement, or living somewhere more like the Punisher’s New York, where every encounter is going to end with a corpse….

(5) TODAY IN HISTORY.

  • September 24, 1956 — The world’s first transatlantic telephone cable, from Clarenville, Newfoundland, to Oban, Scotland, began operation.
  • September 24, 1995Space: Above and Beyond with debut the first two episodes, “Pilot” and “Omega Squadron” airing as a single film. It would last a single season.
  • September 24, 2007 — The Journeyman series debuted. Marketed as a “time travel science fiction romance” series, NBC didn’t renew it after the run of its first thirteen episodes was done.
  • Septembr 24, 2009 FlashForward first aired.  Adapted for television by Brannon Braga and David S. Goyer, it was based on the novel Flashforward by Robert J. Sawyer. It lasted for one season. 
  • September 24, 2013 — Marvel’s Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. first aired on the ABC Network.  Six seasons later, it’s still going strong. 

(6) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born September 24, 1922 Bert Gordon, 97. Film director most famous for such science fiction 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, 1930 Jack Gaughan. Artist and illustrator who won the Hugo several times including once for Best Professional Artist and Best Fan Artist in the same year. Most of his from 1970 onward was for Ace and DAW. He illustrated the covers and hand-lettered title pages for the unauthorized first paperback edition of The Lord of the Rings which Ace released in 1965. (Died 1985.)
  • Born September 24, 1934 John Brunner. Favorite works? The Shockwave Rider, the Hugo Award winning Stand on Zanzibar and The Sheep Look Up. 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, I think The Storyteller is his best work. That’s not to overlook Labyrinth and The Dark Crystal which are also excellent.  (Died 1990.)
  • Born September 24, 1945 Ian Stewart, 74. 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. Each segment of the book alternates between the usually absurd Discworld story and serious scientific exposition. He did write two novels with Jack Cohen, Wheelers and Heaven
  • Born September 24, 1951 David Banks, 68. During the Eighties, he was the Cyberleader on Doctor Who in all stories featuring the Cybermen — Earthshock, The Five Doctors, Attack of the Cybermen and Silver Nemesis. 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, 62. Animator, director, screenwriter, producer, and occasionally even a voice actor whom I’m going praise directing for The Iron Giant, The IncrediblesIncredibles 2 and Tomorrowland. He’s the voice of Edna Mode in both the Incredibles films. 
  • Born September 24, 1965 Richard K. Morgan, 54. The Takeshi Kovacs novels are an awesome series  which is why I haven’t watch the video series. His fantasy series, A Land Fit For Heroes, is on my TBR, well, my To Be Listened To pile now. 
  • Born September 24, 1979 Justin Bruening, 40. Seriously who really thought did we needed a reboot of the Knight Rider series? I know it was one where he played Mike Traceur, the son of character Michael Knight, but still… it lasted a pilot film plus eighteen episodes. He went one to to cast as Benjamin Price in  Ravenswood, a supernatural drama that got cancelled after one season. And intriguingly he was cast as Steve Trevor in Wonder Woman, a never-broadcast television pilot. 

(7) COMICS SECTION.

  • Maria Scrivan delivers a Star Wars chicken joke.
  • The Flying McCoys matches up Bigfoot with another well-known reference and winds up with a pretty funny cartoon.

(8) SCI-FI STANDBY. Titan Comics is reissuing the first two years of adventures from the iconic, British classic Dan Dare written and drawn by David Motton and Keith Watson — reprinted for the first time ever.

(9) HARD-WORKING BIDDER. Hampus Eckerman was amazed at what he received from the Glasgow in 2024 bid chair: “They’re sending out handwritten letters and pins!!”

(10) NO MATTER WHAT YOU MAY HAVE HEARD. “Cats are just as loyal to their owners as dogs, study finds” – an article in the Independent.

…Dr Kristyn Vitale, lead author of the study, said: “Cats that are insecure can be likely to run and hide or seem to act aloof.

“There’s long been a biased way of thinking that all cats behave in this way but the majority of cats use their owner as a source of security.”

Vitale continued: “Your cat is depending on you to feel secure when they are stressed.”

For the study, the team of researchers replicated situation tests that were originally designed in the 1970s to help evaluate the parent-infant bond.

But, instead of parents and infants, the scientists tested the relationship between 108 cats – including 70 kittens and 38 adult felines – and their owners.

(11) REPRESENTATION CONTROVERSY. In the Washington Post, Lindsey Beyer says that there is a conflict between Autism Speaks and the Autistic Self Advocacy Network over the character of Julia, an autistic character who has been part of the Muppet cast since 2017. “How a ‘Sesame Street’ Muppet became embroiled in a controversy over autism”.

… An autistic “Sesame Street” Muppet is caught in a conflict between the most prominent autism organization in the United States advocating for early intervention, and autistic adults who see the condition as a difference, not a disease needing to be cured….

The Autistic Self Advocacy Network (ASAN), an organization run by and for autistic people, announced it had cut ties with “Sesame Street” after the children’s program partnered with Autism Speaks to make the Muppet the face of a public service campaign encouraging early screening and diagnosis of autism. ASAN has accused Autism Speaks of using “language of acceptance and understanding to push resources that further stigmatize and treat autistic people as burdens on our families.” It contends that resource materials from Autism Speaks encourage parents “to view autism as a terrible disease from which their child can ‘get better.’ ”

(12) LIPS ARE SEALED, EVEN IF ISS ISN’T. Newsweek reports that “Russia Refuses to Tell NASA What Caused Mystery Leak on ISS”.

Russia has said it knows what caused the air leak on board the International Space Station in 2018 but intends to keep it a secret, with its space agency head Dmitry Rogozin stating: “We won’t tell you anything.”

The leak, which caused a drop in pressure, took place on 29 August, 2018. After investigating the cause, the crew found a small hole—0.07 inches in diameter—and fixed it using heat-resistant tape. It was in a Russian Soyuz spacecraft docked at the ISS and it posed no threat to any of the astronauts on board.

(13) DESSERT TOPPING? FLOOR WAX? BBC tells how “Nasa’s IceSat space laser tracks water depths from orbit”.

Scientists say one of the US space agency’s (Nasa) new Earth observers is going to have a transformative impact in an unexpected area.

The IceSat-2 laser mission was launched a year ago to measure the shape of Antarctica and Greenland, and to track the thickness of Arctic sea-ice.

But early results show a remarkable capability also to sense water depths.

IceSat’s laser light penetrates up to 40m in the clearest conditions, opening up a raft of new applications.

“As much as people think all areas on Earth have been reasonably well mapped, it’s really not true when you start looking at shallow water areas,” said Dr Christopher Parrish from Oregon State University.

“We’ve got huge data voids from the shoreline out to about 5m water depth.

“This hinders our ability to study things like inundation, the effects of major storms, and the changes to coral reef habitat.”

A project has already started to map the seafloor around low-lying Pacific islands and atolls, which will assist tsunami preparedness for example.

The capability should also enable scientists to work out the volumes of inland water bodies to help quantify Earth’s global freshwater reserves.

(14) NO BALONEY SHORTAGE. “Snopes: How do you survive 25 years debunking fake news?”

…Snopes began as a forum for sharing and investigating urban legends and cool folklore.

But in a world where “fake news” dominates, where disinformation is a part of the political sphere and misinformation touches every single corner of the internet, what is it about this online encyclopaedia which has made it become the go-to bible for many fact-checkers?

And how is it evolving to deal with the current landscape?

…David Mikkelson, the co-founder of Snopes, says: “People come to look up things they’ve encountered on the internet and find out whether they are true or not.

…”The standards we use for fact-checking are about going after what most people are questioning or asking about.

“We don’t make any judgments about what’s too silly or obvious or frivolous or not important enough.”

However he added that sometimes he found it disconcerting what the audience considered to be important and how it was sometimes very different to what his team would consider reporting.

“There may be rumours of a chemical attack against civilians in Syria and all sorts of rumours about whether that happened and who was involved. There are questions around did the government do it; was it an outside force etc and that doesn’t get much interest.

“But then you might have a ridiculous story about something like a woman giving birth in an elevator and it gets millions of views.”

(15) STORM SNOOPERS. An amusing account of the mass storming of Area 51 in the Guardian: “I ‘stormed’ Area 51 and it was even weirder than I imagined”.

…My neighbors at the parking lot-slash-campsite were a punk band called Foreign Life Form. They weren’t part of the planned music lineup, one Life Form explained as he ate Chef Boyardee room-temperature from a can, but when they heard about Alienstock, it seemed like fate.

My other neighbor, an erudite, joint-smoking history podcaster from Oregon, wore a T-shirt that said “Take me to your dealer”. He and his son had had the shirts custom-made; the Life Forms were disappointed they couldn’t buy some….

(16) BOT TO TROT. On eBay, bidding is up to $50,100 for this “15-Ton 2-Story Tall Gasoline Powered Car-Smashing Piloted Giant Battle Robot”. Or is that 12 tons? Opinions differ. “This giant 12-ton fighting robot is on sale for $1” says the New York Post.

One man’s 12-ton, 16-foot-tall fighting robot is another man’s treasure.

Eagle Prime, the crown jewel of MegaBots Inc.’s fleet of sci-fi-inspired piloted robots, is being sold on eBay with bids starting at a single dollar. Founded by Gui Cavalcanti, Matt Oehrlein and Andrew Stroup, the company is shuttering operations amid money trouble. Their latest high jinks, a futuristic bot battle between the US and Canada, drew thin crowds online.

“It was meant to be monster trucks meets UFC with a hint of WWE,” Oehrlein tells The Post. “The goal was to build a multibillion-dollar sports league of robots fighting in stadiums.”

(17) GETTING IN THE MOOD FOR HALLOWEEN. The Valley Relic Museum in Los Angeles has lined up a scary panel event.

“For the last twenty years, I have been fascinated with the ghost stories of Los Angeles. One of my favorite pastimes is to explore historical and haunted locations in the area. This past year I’ve turned my hobby into a podcast and I have been interviewing people about their personal ghost stories as well as exploring haunted locations in Los Angeles and beyond for my podcast Ghost Magnet, from the Playboy Mansion to the house on Cielo Drive (associated with the Sharon Tate Murder) there is no shortage of ghost stories or paranormal activity,” says Bridget Marquardt.

[Thanks to Hampus Eckerman, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, John King Tarpinian, JJ, bill, James Davis Nicoll, Cat Eldridge, Chip Hitchcock, mlex, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Andrew.]