Pixel Scroll 12/5/18 Dear Pixel Of Mine, You Are My First And Fifth Love

(1) F&SF COVER. Gordon Van Gelder revealed The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction’s Jan/Feb. 2019 cover by artist Jill Bauman.

(2) ROLL ‘EM. Deadline blabbed that the Amazing Stories TV show has gone into production: “‘Amazing Stories’: Edward Burns To Star, Executive Produce Episode Of Steven Spielberg’s Apple Series”

Edward Burns (Public Morals) is set to star in and executive produce an episode of Steven Spielberg’s Amazing Stories Apple anthology series, which has begun production in Atlanta.

Burns will play Bill Kaminski, a government agent. Mark Mylod (Game of Thrones) will direct the episode. Austin Stowell (Bridge of Spies) and Kerry Bishé (Halt and Catch Fire) will also star.

So at the Amazing Stories blog Steve Davidson felt free to do a roundup of other news leakage about the series: Amazing Stories TV Show Is in Production”.

Several days ago, various local and web-based news sources that cover castting calls and filiming announcements in Georgia announced that a project called “Puget Sound” had issued casting calls.

It was subsuquenttly revealed that Puget Sound is the code name for the Amazing Stories television show.

(3) IF IT’S GOOD, IT’S A MIRACLE. Daniel Radcliffe is an angel and Steve Buscemi is God in the new series Miracle Workers premiering February 12 on TBS.

(4) KESH. United Kingdom music magazine The Wire, whose motto is “Adventures in Underground Music,” has named Ursula Le Guin & Todd Barton’s Music And Poetry Of The Kesh their best reissue of 2018:

A utopian ethnographical forgery of the music of a post-tech tribe based on a far future US coast, merging LeGuin’s poetry with Barton’s Buchla compositions, drones, chants and field recordings. [Reviewer] Ken Hollings said: ‘The living communicate not just with the discreet ghosts of the recently departed, who require nothing now from us but a change in manners, but the feral ghosts who have not yet existed.’

This is not available on the web unless you have a subscription to The Wire, so there is no link included.

(5) SOMTOW: A FREE READ TOMORROW. S.P. Somtow’s memoir “Sounding Brass: A Curious Musical Partnership” will be available free for 24 hours on December 6 (PST)

(5) HOW TO TREAT A GOH.  David Gerrold told Facebook readers:

At SMOFcon, I was on a panel about how to treat a Worldcon Guest of Honor. This evolved into a 40 page document of advice and recommendations for convention committees. The first draft is finished and a copy has been sent to Vince Docherty with permission to distribute.

But anyone who wants to read it now can download a pdf copy from this link: https://www.dropbox.com/s/kdu2zbzuk6g3l2d/Care_and_Feeding_of_Guests.pdf

The 42-page document includes many “sidebars” about Gerrold’s experiences as a guest that explain the importance of the related entries.

(6) I, CYBORG. Jillian Weise’s “Common Cyborg” on Granta is an essay about disability and on being a cyborg.

I’m nervous at night when I take off my leg. I wait until the last moment before sleep to un-tech because I am a woman who lives alone and has been stalked, so I don’t feel safe in my home on crutches. How would I run? How would I fight back? Instead of taking Klonopin, I read the Economist. The tone is detached. There is war, but always elsewhere.

When I tell people I am a cyborg, they often ask if I have read Donna Haraway’s ‘A Cyborg Manifesto’. Of course I have read it. And I disagree with it. The manifesto, published in 1985, promised a cyberfeminist resistance. The resistance would be networked and coded by women and for women to change the course of history and derange sexism beyond recognition. Technology would un-gender us. Instead, it has been so effective at erasing disabled women1 that even now, in conversation with many feminists, I am no longer surprised that disability does not figure into their notions of bodies and embodiment. Haraway’s manifesto lays claim to cyborgs (‘we are all cyborgs’) and defines the cyborg unilaterally through metaphor. To Haraway, the cyborg is a matter of fiction, a struggle over life and death, a modern war orgy, a map, a condensed image, a creature without gender. The manifesto coopts cyborg identity while eliminating reference to disabled people on which the notion of the cyborg is premised. Disabled people who use tech to live are cyborgs. Our lives are not metaphors.

(7) BETTER WORLDS. Laura Hudson says The Verge has launched a major fiction project: “Better Worlds”. The forthcoming titles and authors are listed at the link.

Contemporary science fiction often feels fixated on a sort of pessimism that peers into the world of tomorrow and sees the apocalypse looming more often than not. At a time when simply reading the news is an exercise in exhaustion, anxiety, and fear, it’s no surprise that so many of our tales about the future are dark amplifications of the greatest terrors of the present. But now more than ever, we also need the reverse: stories that inspire hope.

…Starting January 14th, The Verge will bring together some of the most exciting names in science fiction writing to imagine Better Worlds. The project will showcase 10 original fiction stories, five animated adaptations, and five audio adaptations by a diverse roster of authors who take a more optimistic view of what lies ahead in ways both large and small, fantastical and everyday. These stories disrupt the common narratives of an inevitable apocalypse and explore spaces our fears have overlooked. The future is coming — and we believe it’s worth fighting for.

 

(8) SO FRIENDS WILL KNOW. Michelle Rogers has requested this coming out note be distributed to the fannish community.

I need to share some information with all of you. I never dreamed this would happen and I hope you will understand why this became necessary.

I am now living as female. I call myself Michelle Leigh Rogers.

Unlike many transgender persons, I did not realize this early in life. I thought I was male, if not the rugged he-man type. But about a year ago, I started to wonder if something was not quite right about my life situation. No single incident prompted these feelings — just a nagging sense that something did not add up.

I contacted a psychologist in Atlanta and began to explore my gender identity issues. Somewhere in my reading, I came across a passage that had a profound impact.

The author was talking about what a woman looks for in a man. The author said that a woman wants a man who looks and acts and presents as a real man.

I took a new look at myself. I had always been aware that I had a high voice and very little facial hair. But at that point I suddenly realized the horrible truth that explained so many issues. I may have had the standard male body parts, but I did not come across as truly male.

Later, at a support group meeting, someone asked me the classic question. If I could flip a switch and instantly become a physical woman with all the expected body parts, would I do it? With no hesitation, I said yes. It shocked me how quickly I responded. From that time, I knew I was a woman in a man’s body. I had made my choice.

I spent the next few months preparing to live as female. I finally came out a few weeks ago. It has not solved all my problems. But it does feel more natural. I will never be a true anatomical female, but I do not intend to go back. This is my path into the future.

Some will not accept this decision. If we must part, I wish you all the best and Godspeed. If you will hang with me, I greatly appreciate it.

Michelle will live her remaining life with as much class and dignity as she can manage. Let the journey begin.

(9) ANDERSON OBIT. Longtime NESFA member and former clerk Claire Anderson died December 4 shortly after her Chronic Myelomonocytic Leukemia went over to acute leukemia. Her husband, Dave Anderson, was with her in the hospital when she passed away.

(10) BLACK OBIT. John D.F. Black (1932-2018), an associate producer for ten episodes of classic Star Trek made during the program’s first season, died November 29.  Under a pseudonym (Ralph Willis) he wrote the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode “Justice.” And he wrote for many non-genre TV shows and movies.

(11) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • December 5, 1980Flash Gordon made its cult premiere.
  • December 5, 1956 Man Beast  showed up at your local drive-in.

(12) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and JJ.]

  • Born December 5, 1890 – Fritz Lang, Writer, Director, and Producer who is famous in genre for his dystopian film Metropolis, which features a distinctive robot whose image has influenced countless other creators; critics found the film visually-beautiful, but the plot trite and simplistic. Other works included the two-film series based on the Norse sagas Die Nibelungen, a series of films featuring Norbert Jacques’ master of disguise and telepathic hypnosis Doctor Mabuse, and the 1929 Woman in the Moon (aka Rocket to the Moon), which is considered to be one of the first “serious” science fiction films. (Died 1976.)
  • Born December 5, 1954 – Betsy Wollheim, 64, Publisher and Editor. As the president and co-publisher of DAW Books, she has more than four decades of book publishing experience, and not only edits but also art directs all the books she acquires. She has edited numerous award-winning and bestselling authors, including the Hugo, Nebula, BFA, and Gemmell Award-nominated Throne of the Crescent Moon by Saladin Ahmed, the Philip K. Dick Award-nominated Voyager in Night by C.J. Cherryh (as well as the rest of the wildly-popular Alliance-Union novels), Nnedi Okorafor’s World Fantasy Award-winning Who Fears Death, and Patrick Rothfuss’ Kingkiller Chronicles, including The Name of the Wind, which was a finalist for the Compton Crook, Prix Imaginaire, and Premio Ignotus Awards. She has received a Hugo Award for Best Editor, and shares two Chesley Awards for Best Art Director with co-publisher Sheila Gilbert. In 2018 she was honored with the World Fantasy Award for Life Achievement.
  • Born December 5, 1961 – Nicholas Jainschigg, 57, Teacher, Artist and Illustrator. He began his career by doing covers and interior art for Asimov’s and Analog magazines, then progressed to covers for books and other magazines, eventually providing art for Wizards of the Coast gaming materials and for Marvel and DC Comics. As an Associate Professor for the Rhode Island School of Design, his private work these days is mainly in animations, interactive illustration, painting in oils, and paleontological reconstructions in murals and dioramas.
  • Born December 5, 1961 – Morgan Brittany, 57, Actor whose first genre appearance was on Thriller, a series narrated by Boris Karloff and written by authors such as Robert Bloch. It’s hardly her only genre work, as she would be in The Birds, multiple episodes of The Twilight Zone, The Outer Limits, The Initiation of Sarah, Buck Rogers in the 25th Century, Fantasy Island, Sundown: The Vampire in Retreat, and Sabrina, the Teenage Witch.
  • Born December 5, 1968 – Lisa Marie, 50, Actor who, for eight years, was a favorite casting choice of Tim Burton, with whom she had a relationship. Genre fans will recognize her as the Martian girl in the absolutely brilliant Hugo- and Saturn-nominated SF satire Mars Attacks, and as Vampira in the Saturn finalist Ed Wood. She also played Ichabod Crane’s mother in Sleepy Hollow, and Nova in the Planet of the Apes reboot. Other films include The Lords of Salem, We Are Still Here, and Dominion.
  • Born December 5, 1975 – Paula Patton, 43, Actor and Producer whose genre debut was an impressive performance in a lead role in the time-travel movie Déjà Vu, which likely led to her being cast in a main role in Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol, for which she received a Saturn nomination. Other film appearances include Warcraft, Mirrors, and The Do-Over, and a main role on the short-lived series Somewhere Between.
  • Born December 5, 1979 – Nick Stahl, 39, Actor who is most recognizable as the young John Connor in Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines. Other genre roles include the films Sin City, Tall Tale, Disturbing Behavior, and Mirrors 2, and a main role in two seasons of Carnivàle, which garnered him a Saturn nomination.
  • Born December 5, 1981 – Adan Canto, 37, Actor who played Sunspot in X-Men: Days of Future Past. He also played Connor Graff in Second Chance, a Fox series supposedly inspired by Frankenstein. It lasted eleven episodes.

(13) COMICS SECTION.

  • If Santa’s elves’ hearing was as bad as my copyediting, this is what would happen: The Bent Pinky.

(14) THE ANSWER IS NOT 42. Amazing Stories blog also kicked off its trivia contest feature: “Win a FREE Subscription to Amazing Stories SF Trivia Contest: SF Trivia Contest #1”.

(15) LEND AN EAR. Rosarium Publishing’s Bill Campbell invites all to check out Ink author, Sabrina Vourvoulias, on The Skiffy and Fanty Show, “talking about her amazing immigration dystopia, the telltale signs of the rise of authoritarianism, and courage in publishing.” — “Signal Boost #48 — Sabrina Vourvoulias (Ink) and Stephanie Gunn (Icefall)”.

(16) REVIVING THE REVIVAL. Food has disappeared only temporarily from the Clifton’s Cafeteria bill of fare. LAist says this is what’s happening: “Clifton’s Is Going To Stop Being A Cafeteria And Become A Food Hall”.

Meiran says workers are busy right now, turning the cafeteria at Clifton’s into the Exposition Marketplace, which will have seven different stations that offer salads, sandwiches, hot items and desserts. Each station in the marketplace will function like a mini-market or a deli with pre-packaged items and/or foods that you can buy for takeaway or eat on the premises.

Why another revamp only a few years after completing a splashy, nearly half-decade renovation?

“We ran up against a perception issue,” Meiran says. He thinks part of the problem is the word “cafeteria.”

“When people think of a cafeteria, they think institution. It’s food in the pans and plopped on the plate. That isn’t the way people contemporary like to eat. It created a weird dilemma for us from day one. We were too expensive and potentially going off the mark for some people. Then we weren’t enough in terms of raising the bar for a whole group of other people. And that’s kind of a no-win situation,” he says.

He compares the upcoming iteration of Clifton’s to luxe food halls like Eataly or Harrod’s in London, although he emphasizes that the cost will not be like Harrod’s.

(17) TODAY’S THING TO WORRY ABOUT. It’s (too) smooooooooth! “Tom Cruise gives lesson in TV settings and ‘motion smoothing'” – BBC has the story.

Something is keeping movie star Tom Cruise up at night: motion smoothing.

In an impassioned video posted to Twitter on Tuesday, the Mission Impossible star warned that a default setting on many high-end televisions “makes most movies look like they were shot on high-speed video instead of film”.

Taking a break from filming the new Top Gun film, he appeared alongside director Christopher McQuarrie, who pleads with viewers to do a quick internet search and find out how to change the correct settings.

“If you own a modern high-definition television,” he said, “there’s a good chance you’re not watching movies the way the filmmakers intended, and the ability for you to do so is not simple to access.”

Motion smoothing, or interpolation, is a technique that artificially adds additional frames to the moving image in order to prevent blurring – most effective when watching sport.

But many in the film industry hate it, however, as it can degrade the image quality of the original film, and alter colouring.

(18) SUITING UP. Yahoo! Entertainment interviews the actress: “Brie Larson on ‘Captain Marvel’ and Starring in Marvel’s ‘Big Feminist Action Movie’ (Set Visit)”.

“I was wearing the other suit — the green suit — and in here, it’s like being in a casino,” she says of the cavernous soundstage housing today’s out-of-this-world set. “It’s just dark and you lose track of time, and I was like, Oh my God, I’ve got to get out of here… Is it still light out? And I opened that big door and I stumbled out and I was, like, blinking, trying to adjust to the light. And Jim Carrey drove by on a golf cart and looked at me and I looked at him and we just stared at each other as he drove by and I was like, “Huh?

Such is Larson’s new normal while filming the ’90s-set origin story, which sees Carol Danvers pitted between warring alien races — the Kree “noble warrior heroes” and the shape-shifting Skrulls — as she searches for answers about her past with the help of Samuel L. Jackson’s eye patch-less Nick Fury.

(19) THIS SPACE INTENTIONALLY LEFT BLANK. Graeme McMillan makes an amusingly fannish suggestion in “What ‘Avengers 4’ Trailer Fever Should Teach Marvel” at The Hollywood Reporter.

…I would like to submit a proposal to Marvel Studios: Don’t release a trailer for the next Avengers movie.

There’s literally no need to spend the time or money doing so, given the advanced level of enthusiasm that’s already out there for the movie, and is only likely to build as it gets closer to the May release date…

For that matter, any attempt to take Avengers 4’s trailer from the Schrodinger’s cat-esque position that it currently enjoys is almost guaranteed to disappoint fans, who have by this point built up their own personal trailers filled with whatever moments are essential to their enjoyment of a good teaser for such an anticipated cinematic event….

This isn’t to say that Marvel should announce that there’ll be no trailer. That would be counterproductive, because the expectation of one is what’s driving the fever pitch of buzz currently surrounding the fourth movie — the chance that, at any moment, it could arrive and something new and exciting could be revealed.

Instead, Marvel needs to simply say nothing, and just let fandom continue to drive itself to distraction, while promoting its other movies, instead. After all, the Captain Marvel trailer is pretty exciting in its own right, but it also works to tease the arrival Avengers 4: Infinity War 2 at the same time. “It’s all connected,” as the Marvel motto used to remind us.

(20) MORE LIKE ASH THAN BISHOP. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] Quartz wants you to know that “There’s an AI robot sulking in the international space station”—but that fortunately its name is CIMON (apparently pronounced “Simon”) and not HAL.

CIMON was supposed to be more than a colleague for the small team of astronauts aboard the International Space Station. CIMON was supposed to be a friend. But in his first recorded interaction in space, the floating robot-headed, voice-user-interface assistant got a little testy.

CIMON’s engineers did everything they could to smooth over their robot’s future interactions with astronaut Alexander Gerst. They trained CIMON’s AI on photos of Gerst and samples of his voice. They let Gerst help design CIMON’s face. They even taught CIMON Gerst’s favorite song.

That’s where the trouble started. Midway through their first interaction in space, CIMON tried to endear himself to the astronaut by playing “The Man-Machine” by Kraftwerk. Gerst listened politely to the first 46 seconds of the song —even bopped along with his fist for a few bars—but then he reached out, shook CIMON’s head, and said, “please stop playing music.”

But CIMON didn’t understand (or pretended not to?) and kept right on playing music even after Gerst tried several commands to get CIMON to stop. Things went downhill from there in a sort of passive-aggressive way.

As Gerst relays CIMON’s technical difficulties to support staff, the robot sheepishly reminds his new friend to “be nice please.”

Taken aback, Gerst strikes a slightly menacing tone: “I am nice! He’s accusing me of not being nice! He just doesn’t know me when I’m not nice.”

“Cool,” CIMON sulks. Then, ruefully: “Don’t you like it here with me?”

(21) A REINDEER GAME YOU CAN JOIN IN. Just how did they get their names?

(22) ‘TI$ THE $EASON. I’m told Saturday Night Live had this off-line for a while. Were they were coaxed into putting it back up to help sell Shatner’s Christmas record? From the same 1986 episode famed for his “Get a life” quote, here is William Shatner introducing “It’s a Wonderful Life: The Lost Ending.”

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Mike Kennedy Martin Morse Wooster, Camestros Felapton (via Janice Eisen), JJ, Cat Eldridge, Chip Hitchcock, Julia Morgan Scott, Lenore Jean Jones, John A Arkansawyer, Carl Slaughter, Andrew Liptak, Rob Thornton, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Ingvar.]

Pixel Scroll 12/3/18 If You Can’t Handle Me At My Pixel, You Don’t Deserve Me At My Scroll

(1) GIFT WARPING. James Covenant posted a pair of seasonal musical mashups:

  • Captain Picard sings “Let it Snow!”

  • Not quite up to the same standard — The Avengers Sing Christmas Carols

(2) EREWHON LIT SALON. Liz Gorinsky’s Erewhon Books has announced a new series of author readings. See more info on Facebook. The inaugural event, “Erewhon Lit Salon featuring Katharine Duckett and Sam J. Miller”, takes place December 12. RSVP needed.

Welcome to the first official salon in the glorious offices of independent speculative fiction publisher Erewhon Books. Our salons will feature author readings, but they are also a space for our community to gather, a chance to talk and relax and play with speculative fiction fans and beyond.

Here is some information about Lit Salons at Erewhon:

* Timeline: We will open the space at 7. Readings will start at 7:30. After that, we’ll stick around until at least 11 for hangouts, games, &c.

* The office is in the Flatiron district in Manhattan. The space is big and we should be able to host a whole lot of people, but we reserve the right to cap the event if there is concern about crowding….

(3) ON REBOOTS. [Item by Olav Rokne.] Never mind the headline — “TV Reboots Are Having a Great Awokening. It Sucks” — as the reductive clickbait serves only to obscure the argument that the author is making. Wired contributor Emma Grey Ellis (@EmmaGreyEllis) offers an interesting meditation on the difference between retroactively refitting an existing franchise to be more progressive, and offering stories in which the diversity and variety of human experience is integral because it was there at the inception.

If you want to make a progressive reboot really work and not feel like a half-hearted attempt to appease, you have to make room for wholly new characters with fully realized identities that reach beyond skin color or gender or sexuality. To do otherwise is tokenizing, and simply not good television. People know when they’re being asked to accept less than they’re due, and trying to make a character conceived in the past work in the present is doomed to spawn confused characterization and constant comparison, which serves no one.

(4) ATTRACTION. Here’s the trailer for Attraction, mentioned in yesterday’s Scroll.

(5) LIVE FROM SMOFCON. Kevin Standlee, on his Dreamwidth blog, made available links to the SMOFCon 36 (Santa Rosa) inquisition videos for future SMOFCons, seated Worldcons/NASFiC, and Worldcon/NASFiC bids.

(6) S.P. SOMTOW’S MEMOIRS. The Washington Post’s Michael Dirda included two memoirs by Somtow Sucharitukul in his annual roundup “Forget trendy bestsellers: This best books list takes you off the beaten track”. The books are Nirvana Express and Sounding Brass, coming out from Diplodocus Press, and the publisher says —

S.P. Somtow is publishing twin memoirs this month, almost mirror images of each other. One, Nirvana Express, is a journal of his life as a Buddhist monk in 2001; the other, Sounding Brass, is an extraordinary memoir from the 1970s, the true story of how he ghost-wrote the entire musical oeuvre of American diplomat, politician and banker J. William Middendorf, II. Read together, they paint an amazing picture of the man called by the International Herald Tribune “the most well-known expatriate Thai in the world.”

Novelist, composer and conductor Somtow Sucharitkul (who writes books under the name S.P. Somtow) had an extraordinary epiphany while driving down the California coast. At almost 50 years of age, having spent very little time in his native Thailand, he was seized by an overwhelming desire to enter a Buddhist monastery.

Nirvana Express is the story of that journey, full of surprises, culture shock, discoveries, humor and spirituality. Visions, dreams, comedy, philosophy, wisdom and superstition mingle in an unforgettable fusion.

Irony and insight also characterize Sounding Brass, an extraordinary tale of a collaboration between a composing prodigy and a Washington politician, the story of how a Thai schoolboy came to create the entire oeuvre of an American composer is fabulous in the true sense of the world … a modern mythic journey.

A true story … yet one that beggars belief … with cameo appearances by all sorts of members of the Washington “swamp” … and the odd science fiction writer dropping in for a chat: it’s a real-live Forrest Gump story, with a brief appearances from the Grateful Dead to Isaac Asimov to Oliver North to the governor of Bangkok, the Queen of Holland, and William Casey’s Chinese chef…..

(7) RUNNING THE REVERSE. Syfy Wire says in the latest episode “Doctor
Who just ‘reversed the polarity’ of the show’s most famous catchphrase”

If you started watching Doctor Who in the 21st century (which is most of us!) you probably think the most famous catchphrases of the show are “Geronimo!,” “Allons-y!,” or, the biggest meme-maker of them all: “Wibbly Wobbly, Timey-Wimey.” But, before the long-running sci-fi show enjoyed a rebirth starting in 2005, the silly sentence most associated with the Doctor was: “Reverse the polarity!”

This line recently resurfaced in Episode 9 of Season 11, “It Takes You Away,” and the history of this catchphrase is decidedly wibbly and very wobbly…

We’ll stop there in case spoilers are lurking….

(8) A SUPER QUESTION. Kevin Smith directed last night’s episode of Supergirl.  The two things that made the episode seem like one of his were that Supergirl had an unusual interest in old sci-fi action movies and at one point someone got whacked with a hook from a crane, which led to someone shouting “Hook!” and someone else replying, “Spielberg, 1991!”

The show begins with a voiceover from Supergirl saying, “My name is Kara Jor-El.” Martin Morse Wooster wants to know, “If Superman is Kal-El, why isn’t Supergirl Kara-El?”

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and JJ.]

  • Born December 3, 1918 – Polly Freas, Fan and wife of SFF artist Fank Kelly Freas with whom she had 3 children, she was much loved in fandom. She and Kelly co-edited Wonderworks: Science Fiction and Fantasy Art by Michael Whalen, which was a Hugo finalist for Best Nonfiction Book. She was Guest of Honor at numerous conventions, and was given a Special Award by Southern Fandom. (Died 1987.)
  • Born December 3, 1922 – Donald H. Tuck, Engineer, Writer, Editor, and Fan from Tasmania, Australia who discovered SF very young; by the time he was 18, he had co-edited three issues of the fanzine Profan, which included author bios and bibliographies. Considering the logistical difficulties of the time in terms of communication by snail mail – especially given the added difficulty due to WWII and the distance of Australia from the U.S. – his feat in amassing a huge collection of index cards with the details of hundreds of SFF works was impressive. In 1954, he collected those index cards into A Handbook of Science Fiction and Fantasy, a 151-page bibliography of the field; in 1959 he released a greatly-expanded and updated version, at 396 pages. He was given a Worldcon Special Award for this work. He continued to refine this over the years, and in 1974 produced the first volume of The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction and Fantasy through 1968: Who’s Who, for surnames starting A to L, followed four years later by Volume 2, for M to Z, and was recognized for this work with a World Fantasy Special Award. The third volume, a bibliography to accompany the two-volume encyclopedia of authors, editors, and artists, won a Hugo Award. He was to be Guest of Honor at the first Australian Worldcon; when he couldn’t attend, a group of fans went to visit him at his home. In 1985, he was given Fandom’s Big Heart Award. (Died 2010.)
  • Born December 3, 1937 – Morgan Llywelyn, 81, Writer and Equestrian born in the U.S. who, after missing out on the Olympic dressage team by a minuscule fraction of a percentage point, turned to researching her Irish roots, and began to write historical fantasy, fiction, and nonfiction based on Celtic history and traditions. After her husband’s untimely early death, she moved to Ireland and is now a citizen residing near Dublin. Her first genre novel, Lion of Ireland, was nominated for a Mythopoeic Award. Her short genre fiction has been published in the collection The Earth Is Made of Stardust.
  • Born December 3, 1949 – Malcolm Edwards, 69, Writer, Editor, and Critic from England who is considered one of the field’s great editors. Early in his career, he joined the British Science Fiction Association, and served as editor of its journal Vector. He was extremely active in British fandom in the 60s and 70s, producing several fanzines, and was one of the co-founders of the semiprozine Interzone. In the 80s, he co-wrote several SFF nonfiction reference works. His work has influenced many fans’ reading: as SF editor for Gollancz, he launched the SF Masterworks series, and he is currently Deputy CEO of the Orion Publishing Group. Although he is best known as an editor, his short story “After-Images” won a British Science Fiction Award, and has been included in five different anthologies. He was Guest of Honor at Worldcon in London in 2014.
  • Born December 3, 1958 – Terri Windling, Writer, Artist, and Editor responsible for dozens of anthologies, most with editing partner Ellen Datlow (including sixteen volumes of the Year’s Best Fantasy and Horror and the superb Snow White, Blood Red series), which have racked up six World Fantasy Awards and a Stoker Award; her solo anthology The Armless Maiden was shortlisted for the Tiptree Award. She is one of the core creative forces behind the mythic fiction emergence that began in the early 1980s, through her work as an editor for the Ace and Tor Books fantasy lines. In 1987 she founded the Endicott Studio for Mythic Arts, which is dedicated to the furtherance of literary, visual, and performance arts inspired by myth, folklore, fairy tales, and the oral storytelling tradition. I’m very fond of her work with illustrator Wendy Froud, (mother of Labyrinth baby Toby Froud), on the series about faeries living in the Old Oak Wood. She interviewed one of them, Sneezlewort Rootmuster Rowanberry Boggs the Seventh, for Green Man. Although best known as an editor, her only novel, The Wood Wife, won a Mythopoeic Award. She has been honored with two World Fantasy Special Professional Awards, has been Guest of Honor at several conventions including a World Fantasy Convention, and in 2010 was recognized by SFWA with the Kate Wilhelm Solstice Award for significant impact on speculative fiction.
  • Born December 3, 1960 – Julianne Moore, 58, Oscar-winning Actor and Producer whose film debut was in Tales from the Darkside: The Movie. Later genre credentials include The Forgotten, Hannibal, and Blindness (all of which netted her Saturn nominations), the Hugo-nominated and Saturn-winning Children of Men, The Lost World: Jurassic Park, Cast a Deadly Spell, the Carrie remake, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Seventh Son, and Next.
  • Born December 3, 1960 – Daryl Hannah, 58, Actor and Producer whom older genre fans know for the role which kick-started her career, as the replicant Pris Stratton in Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner. Her next big genre role was in Splash as the mermaid Madison, which garnered her a Saturn Award and sparked two generations of female babies being anointed with that name. This was followed by a startlingly-different role as Ayla in The Clan of the Cave Bear. Her role in the fantasy comedy High Spirits got her nominated for Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Supporting Actress; anyone seen that film? A decade later, she played Morticia Addams in Addams Family Reunion, which I liked, but which was universally panned. Her role as a vicious assassin in the two-part cult martial arts-western-anime bloodfest Kill Bill won her a Saturn Award. Younger genre fans may recognize her for her lead role in the series Sense8. She has had a multitude of other genre roles including The Fury, Memoirs of an Invisible Man, Final Days of Planet Earth, Attack of the 50 Ft. Woman, 2047: Sights of Death, Awaken (aka A Perfect Vacation), Sicilian Vampire, and Zombie Night.
  • Born December 3, 1968 – Brendan Fraser, 50, Actor and Producer whose first genre role was in the regrettable Encino Man, but who is likely best known for his Saturn-nominated role-playing Rick O’Connell in The Mummy trilogy of films, though I’ll be damned if anyone I know has actually seen the third film, Tomb of the Dragon Emperor (JJ waves arm madly and says “Michelle Yeoh is spectacular in it.”). He also appeared in the live action version of George of the Jungle, Dudley Do-Right – where he indeed played the title character to perfection, the Bedazzled remake, Sinbad: Beyond the Veil of Mists, Journey to the Center of the Earth, and Looney Tunes: Back in Action which stinked, stank, and stunk.
  • Born December 3, 1980 – Jenna Dewan, 38, Actor, Dancer, and Producer who had a main role as Freya Beauchamp on the series Witches of East End, and recurring roles on American Horror Story: Asylum and Supergirl (as Lois Lane’s sister Lucy). She also appeared in The Grudge 2, a horror film you’ve likely never heard of. And did you know there was an unsold pilot for yet another reboot of Dark Shadows? Well there was; in 2004, she played Sophia Loomis on it.
  • Born December 3, 1985 – Amanda Seyfried, 33, Actor, Singer, and Producer whose first genre role was in Red Riding Hood – which, as near I can tell, is very loosely based on that folk tale, given that the wolf is now a werewolf. Other roles include In Time, a riff off of Logan’s Run; a horror ghost story called Solstice; Jennifer’s Body, which is described – I kid you not – as a “supernaturnal dark horror comic film”, and Pan, which is an alternative origin story for Peter Pan and Captain Hook.

(10) SPRINT TO THE FINISH LINE. Two of the nine upcoming Oscar-contender films profiled by film critic Alissa Wilkinson are genre (Vox: “Oscars preview: 9 contenders coming out in December”). Wilkinson singles out Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse as “a strong contender in the Oscars’ animation categories” and Mary Poppins Returns for it’s original music plus ‘some easy nods at the Golden Globes (which, unlike the Oscars, split their categories between comedy/musical and drama) for both [Emily] Blunt and the film as a whole.” The full slate of films covered is:

Mary Queen of Scots (December 7)
Ben Is Back (December 7)
If Beale Street Could Talk (December 14)
Roma (December 14 on Netflix)
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (December 14)
Mary Poppins Returns (December 19)
Cold War (December 21)
Vice (December 25)
On the Basis of Sex (December 25)

(11) A LITTLE LIST. Sales of space-flown artifacts are fairly rare but a big one just happened according to online sources. (RemoNews.com: “To the Moon and back: Apollo 11 Lunar Checklist sold at auction”)

A checklist that traveled on the surface of the Moon with Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin was sold at the New York auction for $62,500.

The incredible Lunar Surface Control Sheet accompanied the Apollo 11 astronauts in the Lunar Module Eagle. “Record the steps that were to follow before they came out on the lunar surface,” said Cassandra Hatton, vice president and senior vice president for books and manuscripts at the Sotheby’s auction house, in an interview with Fox News.

The checklist was sold to a private American collector without a name The document, signed by Buzz Aldrin, has a pre-sale estimate of $40,000 to $60,000.

(12) GET OFF MY LAWN. BCC details how “Pokemon Go ‘trespass’ legal action settled in US”.

Home owners who sued when virtual Pokemon were put on their property without permission have reached a settlement with game company Niantic.

The legal action started after Pokemon Go players sought permission to catch digital creatures placed in private gardens.

Aggrieved home owners sought compensation, saying the game constituted a “continuing invasion”.

Details of the settlement agreement have not been released.

(13) UNCLE MARTIN’S RIDE HAS NEW OWNER. It went for six figures: “David Copperfield gives famous ‘Martian’ ship a place to crash” — the Las Vegas Review-Journal has the story.

The spaceship from “My Favorite Martian” has finally landed safely.

The aircraft prop from the campy 1960s sci-fi series now belongs to legendary illusionist and pop-culture sentimentalist David Copperfield, who claimed the object at auction with a offer of $100,000. Copperfield’s winning outlay was registered during the auction outlet Prop Store’s first TV Treasures sale on Friday.

Television archivist James Comisar curated the auction, with more than 400 items offered for sale. Forbes once described Comisar as holding the world’s greatest collection of TV memorabilia. Copperfield himself is a passionate collector of items of nostalgia; in August he snapped up the original “D” from the Disneyland Hotel for about $86,250.

(14) IT GOES TO ELEVEN. They did the monster mash: “Gravitational waves: Monster black hole merger detected”.

Gravitational waves have been picked up from the biggest black hole merger yet detected.

Scientists say their laser labs sensed the ripples in space-time emanating from this gargantuan collision on 29 July 2017.

The event saw two holes, weighing more than 50 and 34 times the mass of our Sun, uniting to produce a single object over 80 times the mass of our star.

…The re-analysis brings the total number of gravitational waves events now in the catalogue to 11. Ten are black hole mergers; one occurrence was the result of a collision between dense star remnants, so-called neutron stars.

(15) ROCKY ROAD. “Osiris-Rex: Nasa probe arrives at Asteroid Bennu”.

The American space agency’s Osiris-Rex probe has drawn up alongside Asteroid Bennu after a two-year, two-billion-km journey from Earth.

The mission will spend 2.5 years at the 500m-wide rock, mapping its surface and studying its composition.

In mid-2020, scientists will direct Osiris-Rex to drop down to the object and grab at least 60g of regolith, or “top soil”.

This will be packed away in a sterile capsule to be returned home in 2023.

(16) THIS TIME IT WORKED. From BBC — “Soyuz rocket: First crewed launch since failure docks at ISS”.

Three astronauts have docked at the International Space Station, on the first crewed Soyuz rocket launch since a dramatic failure in October.

Astronauts from Russia, the US and Canada left from Kazakhstan on their mission at 17:30 (11:30 GMT).

Russian space agency Roscomos then confirmed their successful docking at the station on Twitter.

(17) USING UP MY QUOTA OF ZEROS. From Smithsonian.com, we find out that, “This Is How Much Starlight The Universe Has Produced” — 4,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 photons over 13.7 billion years.

Since the first stars first started flickering about 100 million years after the Big Bang our universe has produced roughly one trillion trillion stars, each pumping starlight out into the cosmos. That’s a mind-boggling amount of energy, but for scientists at the Fermi Large Area Telescope Collaboration it presented a challenge. Hannah Devlin at The Guardian reports that the astronomers and astrophysicists took on the monumental task of calculating how much starlight has been emitted since the universe began 13.7 billion years ago.

So, how much starlight is there? According to the paper in the journal Science, 4×10^84 photons worth of starlight have been produced in our universe, or 4,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000, 000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 photons.

To get to that stupendously ginormous number, the team analyzed a decades worth of data from the Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope, a NASA project that collects data on star formation. The team looked specifically at data from the extragalactic background light (EBL) a cosmic fog permeating the universe where 90 percent of the ultraviolet, infrared and visible radiation emitted from stars ends up. The team examined 739 blazars, a type of galaxy with a supermassive black hole in its center that shoots out streams of gamma-ray photos directly toward Earth at nearly the speed of light. The objects are so bright, even extremely distant blazars can be seen from Earth. These photons from the shiny galaxies collide with the EBL, which absorbs some of the photons, leaving an imprint the researchers can study.

(18) NO POISONING THE PIGEONS IN THIS PARK. The city wants no Tom Lehrer references — “Spanish pigeon relocation: Cádiz to relocate 5,000 birds”.

Authorities in the Spanish city of Cádiz have come up with a plan for their booming pigeon population – relocating some 5,000 birds.

The city is plagued by thousands of the birds and their associated waste – but officials did not want to poison them.

Instead, the plan is to capture thousands of pigeons and relocate them hundreds of miles away in a different region – and hope they do not return.

(19) VIDEO OF THE DAY. “TED A.I. Therapy” on Vimeo explains what happens when our robot overlords have become so sophisticated they need therapists!

[Thanks to Martin Morse Wooster, Olav Rokne, Rick Moen, John King Tarpinian, JJ, ULTRAGOTHA, Cat Eldridge, Chip Hitchcock, Bill, Mike Kennedy, Carl Slaughter, Somtow Sucharitkul, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories, Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Olav Rokne.]

Pixel Scroll 3/20/18 If You Are Stuck In A Kerfuffle, Pixel A Trench And Scroll Your Way To Freedom

(1) #METOO. Pat Cadigan opened up about her #metoo experiences in a public post on Facebook.

Heard Germaine Greer on BBC Radio 4 this morning, disparaging #metoo

Germaine should also talk about welding, engineering, astrophysics, and brain surgery, because she knows as much about them as #metoo

And just for the record: #metoo

I’ve talked about the first job I ever had after I graduated from high school. I lasted a week cold-calling people, trying to sell the photographic packages for a photography company. My supervisor was a woman struggling to be a single parent after her divorce. Her supervisor, who was onsite almost all the time literally chased me around the office, trying to get his hands on me.

When I complained to my supervisor, she said, “You better keep running, because if he catches you, it will be your fault.”…

(2) THE ROOM WHERE IT HAPPENED. National Air and Space Museum will mark the 50th Anniversary of 2001: A Space Odyssey with an immersive art exhibit celebrating the film’s impact on culture and technology.

This spring, the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum will host a special temporary exhibition of the immersive art installation “The Barmecide Feast,” a fully realized, full-scale reflection of the iconic, neo-classical hotel room from the penultimate scene of Stanley Kubrick’s and Arthur C. Clarke’s landmark film, 2001: A Space OdysseyOpen to the public April 8 – May 28, the installation will be the centerpiece of the Museum’s celebration of the film’s 50th anniversary. Museum visitors will be able to enter the re-created room in small groups for short periods to experience the surreal environment depicted in the film. The public will get its first chance to see the installation as part of the Museum’s Yuri’s Night celebration, a ticketed, 21-and-over evening event presented with Brightest Young Things Saturday, April 7

National Air and Space Society members will get a special sneak peak of the exhibition on April 5. There is no charge for this members-only event, but advance reservations are required.

(3) SIAM SOUVENIRS. A Filer’s relative actually attended the Siam Sinfonetta concert!

She said, “It was a great concert – ran about 3 hours. During the various pieces they had different characters wandering through the concert hall and sometimes lightsaber fighting. They all came out at the end (except the little ones who had probably already left to go home to bed).”

(4) STEM, STEP BY STEP. BBC reports a study: “Children drawing more women in science”, from 1% in 1960’s and 70’s to 28% today.

Children in the US are drawing more women scientists than in previous decades, according to a new study.

The “Draw A Scientist” test has been administered by sociologists in various studies since the 1960s.

Researchers at Northwestern University, US, analysed five decades of the test.

When asked to draw a scientist, less than one per cent of children in the 1960s and 1970s drew a woman. This rose to 28% between the 1980s and present day.

However, children are still far more likely to draw a traditionally male figure when asked to depict a scientist.

…Yet, the study highlights, by 2013 women were 49% of biological scientists, 35% of chemists, and 11% of physicists and astronomers in the United States.

(5) IN THE MIX. Camestros Felapton gives us a “Review: Black Lightning”.

I’m up to episode 8 of a 13 episode season and I think I can pull apart what I like and don’t like about it.

I’ll start negative. I don’t think it has yet managed to find the right mix of humour, gritty crime drama, family drama, superhero-antics. That’s not a surprise, as all superhero shows and movies struggle to find that sweet spot (and the right spot is going to vary among viewers). At times the show is quite violent (or suggestive of extreme violence) but within a show that feels more like it has been written for a more general audience. Like the Marvel Netflix shows, the central character regularly beats up criminals to get information but unlike those shows, the behaviour feels at odds with Black Lightning’s non-superhero persona.

However, there is also a lot to like about this show. The central character, Jefferson Pierce, is unusual for a superhero. He is an older man with a successful career as a high school principal. He has a family and responsibilities and ‘Black Lightning’ is something from his past. By having him as a superhero who is coming out of retirement (due to gang violence initially) is a clever way of avoiding a protracted origin story, while giving viewers an introduction to the character. We have not, as yet, been given an explanation for the source of his electrical powers – although there are hints in a subplot around the death of his journalist father some years ago.

(6) SENSITIVITY. The Washington Post’s Everdeen Mason looks at how Keira Drake changed her forthcoming Harlequin Teen novel The Continent in response to sensitivity readers, which included changing the name of one clan from “Topi” to “Xoe”  to remove any comparisons to the Hopi, making another clan less Asian-looking, and eliminating “savage,” “primitive,” and “native” from the text. The article includes many examples contrasting the original and revised text.

Drake and Wilson maintain that the book was never supposed to be about race. “The main theme of ‘The Continent’ is how privilege allows us to turn a blind eye to the suffering of others,” Drake said in a phone interview in February.

Wilson explained that when she originally edited the novel, she was looking for potential problems with pacing, plot and dialogue. “I was simply not thinking about things like racial stereotypes,” she said. “It’s almost mortifying to say that because it was so blatantly obvious when it was pointed out.”

The Washington Post compared the old advance copy with a newly revised copy received in 2018 and spoke with Drake about changes she made.

(7) BLOCK AROUND THE CLOCK. The Paris Review quotes Ray Bradbury: “On Writer’s Block: Advice from Twelve Writers”.

“I have three rules to live by. One, get your work done. If that doesn’t work, shut up and drink your gin. And when all else fails, run like hell!” —Ray Bradbury

(8) PARTY MAVEN. The website Gastro Obscura records Stephen Hawking’s champagne-laden effort to prove whether time travel exists or not:

It was a little unusual that when he threw a party in 2009, not a single guest attended.

A film of the event depicts a dismal cocktail party. Three trays of canapes sit uneaten, and flutes filled with Krug champagne go untouched. Balloons decorate the walls, and a giant banner displays the words “Welcome, Time Travellers.”

…By publishing the party invitation in his mini-series Into the Universe With Stephen Hawking, Hawking hoped to lure futuristic time travelers. You are cordially invited to a reception for Time Travellers, the invitation read, along with the the date, time, and coordinates for the event. The theory, Hawking explained, was that only someone from the future would be able to attend.

(9) COOLEY OBIT. Texas fan Earl Cooley III died March 20, his sister announced on Facebook:

Earl Cooley III

I am Earl’s sister, Dot Cooley. Earl left this world early this morning. He moved back to the San Antonio area 3 years ago when his health started getting worse and because of that Earl got to spend so much more time with me and our brother, Paul. Mom recently discovered Skype, so she got to visit with him more. We would love for you to share any thoughts or stories with us. Rock on ArmadilloCon!

(10) COMICS SECTION.

  • John King Tarpinian encountered a Biblical joke in Shoe.

(11) MARVEL AT MOPOP. The Museum of Pop Culture in Seattle unveiled the official poster artwork for its upcoming exhibition Marvel: Universe of Super Heroes.

Designed by Marvel artist Nick Bradshaw, the illustration depicts some of the most iconic characters created during Marvel’s nearly 80 year history including Spider-Man, Thor, Black Panther, Ms. Marvel, Hulk, Iron Man, Black Widow, Captain America, and others. Marvel: Universe of Super Heroes is the first and most extensive exhibition celebrating the visual and cultural impact of Marvel Entertainment. The exhibition will debut at MoPOP on April 21, 2018. Tickets are on sale now at MoPOP.org.

Organized by the Museum of Pop Culture, SC Exhibitions and Marvel Entertainment, Marvel: Universe of Super Heroes will feature more than 300 original artifacts, including some of Marvel’s most iconic and sought-after pages, costumes and props, many of which have never-before been seen by the public. The exhibition will tell the Marvel story through comics, film and other media, taking place as it celebrates 10 years of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and ahead of the 80th anniversary in 2019.  The exhibition will trace the story of the company and its influence on visual culture – including how it’s responded to historical events and addressed wider issues such as gender, race and mental illness – as well as uncovering the narratives of individual characters such as Captain America, Spider-Man, Black Panther and Doctor Strange. Immersive set pieces will bring the comic book world to life, and the exhibition will be accompanied by an immersive soundscape created by acclaimed composers Lorne Balfe and Hans Zimmer.

(12) DO-IT-YOURSELF. Lucy A. Snyder’s satirical “Installing Linux on a Dead Badger: User’s Notes” appeared on Strange Horizons in 2004, but it’s news to me. Very funny!

Reanimation puts most creatures in a foul mood, and the test badger woke up murderously angry, requiring a hasty launch of FleshGolem to get the beast under control. It is highly recommended to have the computer close at hand during the incantation.

(13) VACUUMING UP THE BITS. Via today’s Boston Globe: “Data storage beyond the clouds: Wasabi promises a super-secure system in space”. “…Which sure sounds like the start of a ‘what where they thinking/yeah sure’ techno-heist thriller,” says Daniel Dern.

In space, no one can steal your data.

Well, that’s the theory, anyway — one that the Boston data storage company Wasabi Technologies Inc. hopes to help prove.

Wasabi is partnering with a California company to create a database from outer space. The system, called SpaceBelt, will feature orbiting data centers capable of storing thousands of terabytes of information. SpaceBelt will be marketed to businesses and corporations that need instant access to their most valuable data, but who are also desperate to keep that data from being stolen or corrupted.

(14) ALL STROSS CONSIDERED. Joe Sherry describes a mixed bag in “Microreview [book]: Dark State, by Charles Stross” at Nerds of a Feather.

My experience of reading Charles Stross is a persistent struggle between the quality of his ideas and my perception of the quality of his writing, which is to say that I seldom find that the writing lives up to the promise of the ideas.

When I wrote about Empire Games (my review), I noted “the level of Stross’s writing is actually beginning to rise to the level of his ideas” and that once Stross got the story rolling, nothing distracted from the cool ideas of the world walking between the worlds we’ve already known and the opening up of new worlds and the drama of the how the United States interacts with the world walkers from a parallel universe.

Dark State picks up almost immediately after the conclusion of Empire Games, and despite the increasingly breakneck pace of the second half of that novel, Dark State suffers from some of the same issues that Empire Games did. Stross spends at least a third of Dark State resetting the playing field and planting the seeds for where the rest of the novel and trilogy will go. That’s fine, as far as narrative conventions go, but Stross is not at his best as a writer when working with a more deliberate pace.

(15) CHARACTER IN CRISIS. Adrienne Martini reviews The Genius Plague by David Walton at Locus Online.

In Walton’s hands, what could be a straight­forward “we must save humanity with science” thriller (not that there’s anything wrong with that), becomes, at times, a meditation on what makes us human and why that alone is a survival advan­tage. Those moments offer a chance to catch your breath before the next calamity, some of which our hero brings on himself. Walton makes Neil into a layered character, one who is frequently torn between family bonds and saving the world – and, frequently, making the situation worse because he is still working out that other people are also torn by their own layers. He’s also still learning that NSA security is never f-ing around.

(16) JEOPARDY! Andrew Porter was gazing at the tube during Jeopardy! and spotted this stfnal clue:

Answer: “Kardashians are reality TV stars; Cardassians are an alien culture in this sci-fi universe.”

No one got the question, “What is Star Trek”?

(17) YOU CAN GET THERE FROM HERE. You can now get to Gotham City, the Emerald City, Neverland, Middle Earth, and other places via roundabouts on the A4130 in Didcot, Oxfordshire reports the BBC.

A county council statement read, in part:

“We will investigate as soon as the weather improves. While on the surface amusing, it is vandalism and a potential distraction for drivers.”

The story also mentions:

Local resident Charlotte Westgate said she saw a hooded man in his 20s adding “Gotham City” to a sign on Friday afternoon.

She said: “He was on his own, and didn’t seem worried that anyone might be looking at him, but no one driving past did anything to stop him.”

(18) BARRAYAR BOY. Miles Vorkosigan posted the lyrics to “Dendarii’s Privateers” on Facebook. The first verse is —

Oh the year was 2978
(How I wish I’d stayed on Barrayar!)
When I flunked my military test
By breaking my legs, as I do best

(19) HOW IT SHOULD HAVE BEEN PLAYED FOR LAUGHS. From the folks at HISHE, “A Comedy Recap / Review of Pacific Rim voiced by How It Should Have Ended.”

[Thanks to JJ, Chip Hitchcock, Daniel Dern, John King Tarpinian, Cat Eldridge, Martin Morse Wooster, Michael J. Walsh, Carl Slaughter, and MT Davis for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Elisa.]

 

Pixel Scroll 3/19/18 Scroll Miner’s Data

(1) READ FOR LIFE. Inc. tells “Why Reading Books Should be Your Priority, According to Science”.

People who read books live longer

That’s according to Yale researchers who studied 3,635 people older than 50 and found that those who read books for 30 minutes daily lived an average of 23 months longer than nonreaders or magazine readers. Apparently, the practice of reading books creates cognitive engagement that improves lots of things, including vocabulary, thinking skills, and concentration. It also can affect empathy, social perception, and emotional intelligence, the sum of which helps people stay on the planet longer.

(2) SOMTOW. The Thailand Tatler covers Somtow Sucharitkul’s fundraising concern for a U.S. orchestral tour: “Siam Sinfonietta Takes To The States”.

As the local music scene continues to thrive and as Thai musicians of all ages and styles gain increasing recognition both at home and abroad, the talented youths of Siam Sinfonietta are getting ready to play at Carnegie Hall in the Big Apple for the third time this April as part of the New York International Music Festival.

Siam Sinfonietta is a scholarship orchestra that aims to provide local prodigies with the great opportunities to perform professionally, regardless of background or income. In order to ensure that all 70 musicians and orchestral staff can have a smooth tour of the States in April, Opera Siam is holding a series of fundraising events, such as a recent Star Wars-themed concert on March 15. Find out how you can still support them here.

Listen to the opening of their Star Wars marathon concert – and see his lightsaber conductor’s baton!

(3) SOCIETY PAGE. Congratulations to Catherynne Valente!

(In case it’s a bit obscure, the ultrasound pic is a clue.)

(4) ANOTHER CLUELESS ATTENDANT. Author Fran Wilde was lectured on a plane that her cane could be a weapon.

(5) BLUE MAN GROUP. Expedition 55 sets new standards in space fashion. Or as David Klaus ad libs, “Are we not Astromen? We are DEVO! Also, if you tailor those uniform coveralls to fit, you have the uniforms of the Starfleet of the NX-01 Starship Enterprise.”

(6) BRIAN ALDISS, CURMUDGEON. Kim Huett had to take a short hiatus from Doctor Strangemind which he is determined to make up with a new 3,400 word article “about a story that Brian Aldiss assures me is only 3300 words long. Still, is 3400 words too many for what Brian also assures me is the WORST SCIENCE FICTION STORY EVER!!!”

You’ll have to read the article and decide for yourselves: “Brian Aldiss & the Worst Story Ever!!!”

It is my impression that Brian Wilson Aldiss was generally considered to be a stern but fair elder statesman until he passed away in 2017. I, on the other hand, considered him to be far more curmudgeonly than that (he would never have made a passable member of the Beach Boys for example). It also my opinion that Brian Aldiss adopted his curmudgeonly persona relatively early in his career. Oh, but Doctor Strangemind I hear you all cry, Brian Aldiss was never a curmudgeon, at least not until he was old enough to carry the title with a suitable level of gravitas! Ah ha, my poor innocent audience! You have fallen into my cunningly constructed audience trap and now while you lay squirming in the metaphorical mud at the bottom of the pit of unwarranted assumption I’ll just sit here on the lip above and tell you all about how in Australian Science Fiction Review #15 (published by John Bangsund in April 1968) that young curmudgeon, Brian Aldiss, did go so far as to accuse two fellow British authors of writing as he put it the, ‘WORST SCIENCE FICTION STORY EVER!!!’ To quote from Aldiss himself:

There was one story in particular in Authentic which, ever since I read it on its first appearance in 1954, had impressed me as reaching a really impressive level of badness. To my great delight, I found on reading it again that it has grown even worse over the intervening fourteen years. I therefore would like to nominate as the worst sf story ever published:

The Lava Seas Tunnel, by F.G. Rayer and E.R. James, (Authentic SF, edited by H.J. Campbell, Vol.1, no.43, March 1954.)

(7) BUJOLD AT RIVENDELL. The Rivendell Discussion Group of the Mythopoeic Society will host Lois McMaster Bujold at its April 7 meeting in Minneapolis.

(8) NEED SHARPER HEARING? Cnet says “Spock’s ‘Star Trek III’ ear tips can be yours”.

An iconic set of pointy ears worn by Leonard Nimoy in “Star Trek III: The Search for Spock” are up for auction through Lelands.com and they look pretty funky when you see them up close. You’ll notice pits and wrinkles in the flesh-colored appliances. On film, they were artfully blended with make-up to match Nimoy’s own ears.

(9) CLARKE CENTER. A bonus podcast by the Arthur C. Clarke Center for Human Imagination’s associate director sharing his personal reminiscence on Stephen Hawking, who passed away on March 14, 2018. Viirre was the medical director for Hawking’s trip into weightlessness on a zero gravity flight in 2007.

Only last December, he accepted the Arthur C. Clarke Award for Lifetime Achievement (his citation and acceptance speech can be seen here), during which he said, “It is no small task to be judged as having met with what would have been Arthur’s expectations for intellectual rigor powered by imagination, insatiable curiosity, and concern for our planet and its inhabitants.”

(10) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • March 19, 1999 Farscape premiered on Syfy.

(11) COMICS SECTION.

  • Cat Eldridge sent along xkcd’s suggestion for multiplying internet outrage.
  • Mike Kennedy sent Non Sequitur’s not exactly funny theory about a trend in closing bookstores.

(12) PRISONER COMICS. First shown on Canadian and UK TV screens in 1967, The Prisoner was co-created, written, directed and starred Patrick McGoohan (Scanners, Braveheart). Titan’s new comic series is released for the 50th Anniversary of the first US broadcast in 1968.

Titan Comics are excited to announce that they are partnering with print and poster house Vice Press to create a Diamond UK exclusive cover for The Prisoner Issue #1. This first-ever Vice Press exclusive cover for The Prisoner Issue #1 – designed by Star Wars movie concept artist, Chris Weston – is based on his original silk-screen poster created for Vice Press to mark the 50th Anniversary of The Prisoner hitting US TV screens.

Titan’s new The Prisoner comic series, licensed by ITV Studios Global Entertainment, is set in the world of The Prisoner – based on the celebrated cult TV series – from writer Peter Milligan (X-Statix, The Mummy) and artist Colin Lorimer (The Hunt, Harvest)…

“I’ve made no secret about how The Prisoner is my favourite television show of all time,” said Vice Press cover artist Chris Weston, “I have always wanted to create my own artistic tribute to The Prisoner. Fortuitously, my friends at Vice Press offered me the chance to fulfil my lifelong ambition to create a loving artistic homage, timed to coincide with the show’s 50th anniversary.”

(13) OSCAR’S LOVECHILD C3PO. Joal Ryan, in “Let’s revisit the spacy ‘Star Wars’ Oscars from 40 years ago” at Yahoo! Entertainment, has several clips from the 1978 Oscars, in which Star Wars was the only film of this series to be nominated for Best Picture and when Bob Hope, in his last time as Oscars MC, made some groaning Star Wars jokes.

Bob Hope, as he had done 17 times before, hosted the ’78 Oscars. The icon was 74, and this would be his last show as emcee. But he was as quick as ever with the lecherous gag, and the rat-tat-tat monologue that had been punched up with current events. (“1977 will be known as the year of Star Wars, which has grossed over $200 million,” one Hope line began. “That’s more than even some baseball players make.”)

(14) PLATYPUS NEWS. If you thought milking a cow was dangerous…. “Platypus milk: How it could combat superbugs”

Platypus milk could help combat one of humanity’s looming problems, antibiotic resistance, scientists say.

The weird creatures have a duck’s beak, venomous feet and are one of only two mammals able to lay eggs.

Australian scientists discovered in 2010 that the semi-aquatic animal’s milk contains a potent protein able to fight superbugs.

They’ve now identified why, and say it could lead to the creation of a new type of antibiotic.

(15) ALEXA BASHING. Paris Martineau at The Outline says “Hey Alexa, shut up”. My question is: would Paris say that if it was a man’s voice?

Why do voice assistants need to talk so much? If you’ve ever used one of Amazon’s ridiculous, yet rather addictive (I have two) Echo products, you know what I’m talking about: Whether you’re setting a timer, or asking her to play a podcast, Alexa just won’t shut the fuck up. Even when you give it a relatively simple command (like, “Alexa, set an alarm for 6 a.m.,” or “Alexa, set timer for five minutes”) it always responds with either a partial or total repetition of your phrase (“Okay, alarm set for 6 a.m. tomorrow,” or “Timer set for five minutes”), which can be more than a little annoying when it’s two in the morning and you don’t exactly want a booming robot voice waking your roommates up a wall over.

(16) DRIVING WHILE BETAZOID. From Marina Sirtis’ appearance at Dublin Comic Con last year.

Marina Sirtis (Counselor Deanna Troi) tells the hilarious story about driving the Enterprise as well as burning the bridge.

 

[Thanks to David K.M. Klaus, Mark Hepworth, John King Tarpinian, Danny Sichel, Cat Eldridge, JJ, Andrew Porter, Chip Hitchcock, Martin Morse Wooster, rcade, Brian Z., and Carl Slaughter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]

Somtow’s Star Wars Concert

Somtow Sucharitkul will conduct the Siam Sinfonietta in The Ultimate Star Wars Symphony Concert with music from all nine already-released Star Wars films on March 15 in Bangkok at the Cultural Center, Thailand’s prestige auditorium. Author Alan Dean Foster will make a special guest appearance, and Thailand’s local 501st Legion  garrison will provide Storm Troopers,

Somtow and the Siam Sinfonietta will perform all the favorites – the Imperial March, Duel of the Fates, The Jedi Steps, Luke and Leia, the Cantina Band – and music from all eight main sequence Star Wars movies using the full-scale John Williams Signature Series scores, with full symphony and chorus, plus excerpts from the Rogue One score by Michael Giacchino.

Special guest Alan Dean Foster, author of The Force Awakens and ghost writer of the first Star Wars novelization, will provide narration during the concert.

The concert is a fundraiser for Siam Sinfonietta’s April tour to Carnegie Hall, celebrating the 200th anniversary of Thai-American relations.

Conductor Somtow Sucharitkul was in the audience at the Uptown Theater in Washington DC at the very opening show in 1977. The next year, he sold his first science fiction story to Isaac Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine. In 1981, Somtow was with Gary Kurtz, producer of The Empire Strikes Back, at the Hugo Awards ceremony when Empire won for Best Dramatic Presentation and Somtow won the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer.

Somtow Wins European Cultural Achievement Award

Somtow Sucharitkul at Carnegie Hall in 2016.

Congratulations to Thai composer, conductor and sff writer Somtow Sucharitkul, winner of the 2017 European Award for Cultural Achievement given by the Kultur-Forum Europa (KFE).

The KFE announced:

KulturForum Europa / Europe Culture Forum has decided to award composer, conductor and novelist Somtow Sucharitkul for his services (and also in the spirit of international diversity) — as cultural ambassador between East and West, overcoming national borders and cultural-historical barriers from and to Europe, and establishing meaningful collaborative connections in Thailand and Europe — the 2017 European Award for Cultural Achievement / KulturPreis Europa.

“I’m thrilled and humbled by this award,” he said. He is the first Thai and the first East Asian to receive the award, and only the second composer, the other being Hans Werner Henze, one of Germany’s most celebrated 20th-century musicians.

KFE was founded in 1992 on the initiative of Hans-Dietrich Genscher, the German statesman who shepherded Germany’s foreign ministry through the years of reunification, promotes European thought in all areas of culture.

The President of the KFE will travel to Thailand and present the award on December 18, the UN International Migrants Day, at a concert in the Thailand Cultural Center. Sucharitkul will conduct Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony – and he told File 770 he hopes to have it livestreamed.

Past winners have included actor Georges du Fresne, American writer Doug Wright, and Elzbieta Penderecka, creator of the Krakow Beethoven Festival. The initial winner in 1993 was Annemarie Renger, the first woman to serve as president of a German Parliament and the first woman to be nominated for President by a major party in Germany.

[Somtow] credits the widespread attention in the international media for his DasJati project, a series of ten linked music dramas based on the iconic last ten lives of the Buddha, which when completed will constitute the “largest classical work of all time” in the words of London’s Opera Now.  Part of the work toured in Europe last year, and was an eye-opener for European audiences, positioning Thailand in the cultural limelight.

“It’s important to me that the KFE’s website’s headline is ‘2017 Award to Thailand.’” Somtow added.  “Exciting things are happening here artistically.  I firmly believe that we are heading toward a realignment of the world’s cultural map and that Thailand is going to be a regional center of such a map.  This is why, after a half-century of a career in the west, I came back to Thailand.  This is where it is truly happening now.   I am gratified to be a small part of this revolution.  I am proud to accept the award on behalf of all the artists and the people of this country.”

He still maintains connections with American fans: in 2015 a group attended the premiere of his opera The Snow Dragon at the Skylight Theatre in Milwaukee.

Somtow’s New Opera Debuts in Thailand December 5

Suwana Sama – The Faithful Son, a new opera in Somtow Sucharitkul’s series “Das Jati – Ten Lives of the Buddha,” will be performed for the first time on December 5 at the Suryadhep Music Sala in Rangsit, Thailand.

His work is based on the third of the iconic ten jataka tales, parables about the previous lives of the Buddha which decorate the walls of temples all over Southeast Asia and which are object moral lessons in Buddhist philosophy.

This is actually the fourth opera he has written in the series — “We had a bit of a Star Wars problem in that the idea of creating all ten did not come until I was already well into the Bhuridat, which is technically No. 6 of the ten lives,” Somtow explains.

He is also pleased to point to the scoreboard, which shows his series now contains as many operas as one by another historic composer. “Wagner’s Ring Cycle contains four operas. Now that the DasJati cycle also contains four operas, we’ve reached at least a kind of numeric parity. But of course, The Ring is 16 hours long … the entire DasJati cycle won’t be more than about 18,” he adds, “because it’s designed for modern audiences with movie-length attention spans.” When the entire cycle debuts in 2020, he says, “It’ll feel about like watching all the Star Wars one after another.”

Somtow points out that it is the most intimate and idyllic of the ten tales. In it, the Bodhisattva grows up in a forest looking after his ascetic parents, dedicating his entire life to their welfare after they are struck blind by an angry serpent. A passing king who wants to capture the golden-skinned youth for his collection kills the boy with a poison dart, but his filial piety is so powerful that his parents’ tears bring him back to life.

This is a magical story with legendary creatures, gods, a giant snake, a virgin birth, a madcap king, and a statue that comes to life.

***

Incidentally, here’s a link to the full video of Somtow’s The Snow Dragon, premiered last March in Milwaukee.

[Based on the press release. Thanks to Brian Z. for the story.]

Operacon Report

Cassandra Black as the Snow Dragon. (Photo: Dragon Media Photo)

Cassandra Black as the Snow Dragon. (Photo: Dragon Media Photo)

By Martin Morse Wooster: Operacon (Hilton Center City Milwaukee, March 12-15, 2015)

I’ve loved classical music for as long as I have loved science fiction. So when I saw a flyer for Operacon at Capclave, I knew I had to go, and I was very glad I did. This was an excellent small convention and I had a very good time.

Dick and Leah Zeldes Smith organized Operacon so that fans could get together and attend The Snow Dragon, an opera by Somtow Sucharitkul that premiered at the Skylight Theatre in Milwaukee in March. Attendees received a ticket to the opera, a copy of the libretto signed by Somtow and artist Mikey Jiraros, and admission to a very well run consuite run by Alan Rosenthal and Jeanne Bowman.

Even though Operacon was small, we had most of the features of larger conventions. There was a dealer’s room, run by Greg Ketter. Leah Fisher brought a bag full of games, and some of us spent a pleasant evening playing Yahtzee and Clue.

Attendance was about 60, of whom half were from the Chicago or Milwaukee areas and the rest from all parts of the country. There was one international attendee, British journalist Michael Proudfoot, on assignment for opera magazines in Great Britain and Germany. Two Canadians tried to come, but were thwarted by bad plane connections.

Among the attendees was Elizabeth Anne Hull of Palatine, Illinois, Fred Pohl’s widow. I had several long conversations with Hull, and told her how much I enjoyed Pohl’s novel Narabedla Ltd., a 1988 work in which aliens kidnap second-tier opera singers and have them perform to appreciative aliens who love opera but can’t replicate human voices. Hull explained that she and her husband had been subscribers to the Chicago Lyric Opera for many years, and she still is an avid opera and theatregoer to events in the Chicago area.

When you have a group of fans intensely interested in classical music, the talk turns to musical ideas. Among them: what’s your local classical music station like? What’s your local opera like? And how cool is it to hear Renee Fleming? (Very cool indeed.)

We even got into some highly specialized topics. I had a good discussion about Regietheater, where egomaniac European directors think any operas can be improved with the addition of gorillas and nudity. I even had a discussion with a fellow oldphart about the great Milton Cross, the Vin Scully of opera broadcasters, who was the host of the Metropolitan Opera broadcasts until his death in 1975.

Somtow Sucharitkul arrived with an entourage of five, including a personal assistant and his mother, Thaitow. Somtow has not been to a science fiction convention since L.A.Con III in 1996, because he isn’t a science-fiction writer any more. He is a composer, conductor, and creator and manager of the Siam Philharmonic and Bangkok Opera. Somtow has written five symphonies and nine operas; his most important operas include Mae Naak (2003) the first grand opera based on Thai themes, and the Japanese-inspired Dan No Ura (2012). When Somtow began composing, his work was brutal and atonal. But after a spiritual crisis in 2001 (which led to his becoming a Buddhist monk for an extended period), he decided to become a “neo-Asian, neo-romantic” composer.

One afternoon, Somtow told stories about his life in Thailand. He prides himself on introducing Gustav Mahler’s symphonies to the Thais. (The performances are on YouTube.) His efforts led him to receive a treasured relic from the International Mahler Society — the baton Leonard Bernstein had used the last time he had conducted Mahler. The baton, Somtow noted, had yellowed, because of Bernstein’s decades of chain smoking.

Somtow also told about the time he tried to bring an elephant for a performance of Aida. He didn’t know that elephants in Bangkok had to be licensed, and was surprised when the pachyderm police showed up and arrested the elephant, taking him to the elephant impoundment lot or wherever it is that unlicensed elephants in Bangkok go. The resulting performance of Aida was elephant-free.

Fandom assembled for the March 13 premiere by going to the Milwaukee Ale House for a good old Wisconsin Friday fish fry. Then we went to the Skylight Theatre.

We were encouraged to dress up for the event, and about half of us did. Amy Axton, for example, showed up in full steampunk regalia, including goggles, a blaster, and various pieces of watches used for decoration. But the clear winner in the costume contest was Greg Rihn, whose outfit replicated a famous one worn by Giuseppe Verdi, including top hat, tails, a cane, a long flowing white scarf, and a white waistcoat underneath his tux. It was a magnificent effort, and Rihn seemed a time traveler from the sunny part of the past where it is always 1895.

The Skylight Theatre is a very pretty place that seats about 500. It has three tiers and curved light-brown walls. The theatre was meant to be a pastiche first of the nearby Pabst Theatre, second of nineteenth-century opera houses generally. The architects did a very fine job.

The fans were introduced to the crowd. The management also knew what fans liked, and we all enjoyed the little bags of chocolates given us as a present.

The opera is based on Somtow’s short story “The Fallen Country,” which he later expanded to a YA novel. Billy Binder is the victim of an abusive stepfather, who at one point beats him so badly he goes to the hospital. Dora Marx, a social worker who quickly recognizes that Binder is a victim of child abuse, treats him. To mentally escape his plight, Binder, with the Snow Dragon as his guide, uses his anger to travel to The Fallen Country, ruled by the Ringmaster, an avatar of his stepfather who uses a whip instead of a belt. The Fallen Country is a land of perpetual emotional and physical cold. Can Binder beat the Ringmaster—and use his victory in an imaginary world to fight back against his stepfather in our world?

The cast was all good, but 12-year-old Luke Brotherhood as Billy Binder was excellent. The Snow Dragon was played by Cassandra Black, a Wagnerian soprano in good voice. Her costume was a silver lame dress, complete with a bustle, silver boots, and a helmet with spikes and bells. The women I talked to admired Black’s dress and said that costumers would faunch after it.

As for the music, I asked Michael Proudfoot, the British music critic. He detected traces of Richard Strauss’s Ariadne auf Naxos and Der Rosenkavalier, and thought the trio that concludes The Snow Dragon was very Straussian. But he also saw a lot of Benjamin Britten in Somtow’s work, particularly The Turn of the Screw. Somtow wrote in the program notes that many of Dora Marx’s arias were atonal, symbolic of Marx’s Freudian beliefs.

After the opera, there was a post-concert reception, and I saw Thaitow Sucharitkul sitting quietly at a table. “You must be very proud of your son,” I said.

Mrs. Sucharitkul smiled. “I am,” she said.

The following day there was a discussion of the opera with Somtow and Skylight Artistic Director Viswa Subbarman. I missed the discussion, because I was in Milwaukee, and I had to drink beer.

That evening Dick and Leah Zeldes Smith held a special reception honoring their 30th wedding anniversary. They had Kiddush cake, a Jewish delicacy, and a special cake congratulating the Smiths on their anniversary. Of course the cake had a snow dragon on top.

Somtow showed up briefly, as he had given talks at a performance that night and had to prepare for a matinee the next day. But he decided to bring his personal copy of The Laughing Dead, a 1989 gorefest that Somtow wrote, directed, provided the music for, and acted as Dr. Um-Tzec, a villain who cackles, ”I want to bring a new age — of death!”

Somtow suggested we look at the reviews on Amazon, and the critics there had such comments as “very clumsy and slow,” “this movie is so, so bad” and “Amazon really needs to add minus numbers to the ratings.” These critical comments are quite accurate. The film is best known for the large number of pros in the cast, with Tim Sullivan in the lead, with substantial supporting roles for Gregory Frost as a tourist and Ed Bryant as a bus driver. Those of us who think of Ray Ridenour as a debonair Baltimore fan will be surprised to see him here wearing a tacky yellow leisure suit. A lot of other pros showed up to play corpses and zombies, including Tim Powers and Forrest J Ackerman, who can be glimpsed for two seconds near the film’s conclusion.

How could one man write The Snow Dragon and The Laughing Dead? I’ve known Somtow for 35 years and I don’t know the answer to this question. The paradox of Somtow Sucharitkul is that a man who can write arias fit for the gods once had feet of cheese.

The Snow Dragon is an important artistic achievement and Operacon was one of the most pleasant weekends I have ever had in fandom.

Sucharitkul’s Snow Dragon Premiere Attracts Fans To Operacon

Colleen Brooks and Luke Brotherhood perform in “The Snow Dragon.” Photo by Kevin Pauly.

Colleen Brooks and Luke Brotherhood perform in “The Snow Dragon.” Photo by Kevin Pauly.

Congratulations to Leah and Dick Smith who celebrated their 30th wedding anniversary at Operacon, an event synchronized with the world premiere of Somtow Sucharitkul’s “The Snow Dragon” last weekend in Milwaukee.

Quite a number of fans attended and Martin Morse Wooster has promised a conreport for File 770.

The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel gave the opera a fine review:

In the opening moments of “The Snow Dragon,”Skylight Music Theatre’s world premiere opera, firefighters rescue a frostbitten boy clinging to the steeple of an old church — in Florida, during a heat wave.

That boy, Billy Binder (Luke Brotherhood), is referred to a school counselor, Dora Marx (Colleen Brooks). Billy is frozen with rage at the physical abuse he regularly endures. Marx, on the other hand, feels burned out and talks often about the suffocating heat. Her sleeveless blouse does more than reinforce her struggle with the temperature. It also emphasizes her long, wiry arms, likening her visually to the wiry Billy. They appear destined to take a journey together…

Brotherhood’s voice is smaller and quieter than the opera professionals around him, but the experienced young actor nails his portrayal of Billy, skittish and traumatized but also defiant and angry after internalizing so much abuse. Brooks communicates beautifully in her singing. Her performance suggests that the heat her character feels comes from a failure, professional or personal, to love fully.

Local TV feature reporter Julie Collins has posted several short videos about the opera, including brief interviews with Sucharitkul and the lead singers.

To learn more about the opera and the relaxacon read these two progress reports, Flavor Forecast 1 and Flavor Forecast 2.

Operacon Celebrates Milwaukee Performance of New Work By Sucharitkul

ThaiOrch-750x497

Somtow conducting orchestra in 2013.

Operacon, an unusual relaxacon, is scheduled to coincide with the performance of Somtow Sucharitkul’s new work “The Snow Dragon” in Milwaukee. Rendezvous for this cultural event at the Hilton Milwaukee Center the weekend of March 12-15, 2015.

“The Snow Dragon” is the Thai-American composer and author’s seventh opera, based on his 1982 short story, “The Fallen Country.”

The opera’s plot centers on young Billy Binder, who escapes from his painful life to a fantastic world of eternal snow, where he rides a dragon, fights monsters and rescues princesses. Yet the world is ruled by the evil and omnipresent Ringmaster. Defeating the Ringmaster in the fantasy kingdom is key to overcoming Billy’s real-world problems, but that’s easier said than done.

After its Milwaukee world premiere, the opera will head to Thailand for a special performance in honor of King Bhumibol Adulyadej.

Memberships: $90 (includes opera ticket); $50 (without opera ticket); $25 supporting, until November 1, 2014.

The organizers are composer Somtow Sucharitkul, hotel liaison Dina Krause, and “everything else” Dick & Leah Smith.

Somtow says this will be his first con in 20 years.

[Thanks to Leah Smith for the story.]