Pixel Scroll 1/11/22 Look At My Fingers: Four Pixels, Four Scrolls. Zero Pixels, Zero Scrolls!

(1) COSINE. COSine is going ahead this weekend (January 14-16) in Colorado Springs, CO. In their latest publicity email, co-chairs Morland Gonsoulin and Arlen Feldman repeated their Covid policy —

Just a reminder – we have had a lot of people concerned about getting together in the era of Omicron and other Greek-lettered invaders. Everyone who comes to the convention must be able to show proof of COVID vaccination (either electronic—myColorado or a photo on your phone, or a paper copy of your COVID vaccination card) or proof of a negative COVID test within forty-eight hours of attending. Click here for information on testing. Also, masks will be required in all convention areas (remember, masks are primarily there to protect other people, not you). We will be giving prizes to people who have the coolest masks (that are also still effective)!

(2) ONCE YOU CAN REMOVE MONEY FROM THE ATMOSPHERE…. “Neal Stephenson Thinks Greed Might Be the Thing That Saves Us” – so he said to a New York Times interviewer.

What about the story we’re telling as a society — beyond art — about climate change? Is there a way we could be talking about it that’s more likely to motivate the kind of mobilization we had, say, during the Second World War? 

The difficulty is that it’s hard to get lots of people to change their minds. The United States did mobilize in a massive way during World War II, but we didn’t start getting serious about it until 1942. There had been a huge war raging since 1939, and the Brits were tearing their hair out waiting for the United States to get more involved, and it wasn’t until Pearl Harbor that there was a tipping point in public opinion that made it possible for America’s political leadership to declare war and to enter into it in a serious way. So the question asks itself: What might be a climate equivalent of Pearl Harbor? We’re already having little regional Pearl Harbors all over the place. We had our heat dome in Seattle over the summer, we had the mega tornado supercell that passed from Arkansas to Kentucky. These little pinprick Pearl Harbor events happen here and there, but it’s difficult to imagine one that would impact an entire country the size of the United States — if it did, it would be a really bad thing. We don’t want to put ourselves in the position of wishing that something terrible would happen. It’s also natural to assume that the CO2 problem is similar to other air-pollution problems we’ve had before. In the ’50s, there was a disaster in London because of too much coal smoke in the air, and they In the ’70s, a lot of the smog problem in L.A. was cleaned up by putting catalytic converters on cars…We’re accustomed to thinking that all we have to do is stop emitting the pollutant, and then nature will clean up the air. But it’s not true in the case of CO2 in the atmosphere. People confuse CO2 emission reduction or elimination with solving the problem. But even if we could stop emitting all CO2, we’d be stuck for hundreds of thousands of years with extremely elevated CO2 levels that nature has no quick way of removing from the air. That’s the key thing that has to be widely understood before we can actually begin envisioning ways to attack the problem….

Do you see a way out of that? 

When people find that they can obtain lots of money and power by believing certain things and following certain ways of thinking, then you can bet that they’ll enthusiastically start doing that. The reason that Enlightenment thinking became popular was that people figured out that it was in their financial best interest to avail themselves of its powers. …

(3) HEAD MASTER. A tribute to Gene Wolfe on the 50th anniversary of the publication of The Fifth Head Of Cerberus in The Spectator World: “’The Fifth Head of Cerberus’ at 50”.

… Ursula K. Le Guin called Gene Wolfe “our Melville.” His meandering plots, odd characters, and surreal scenes are certainly reminiscent of aspects of Melville, but Wolfe, a conservative and a Catholic, was most like the American author in his realistic view of human nature. According to Wolfe, people are capable of great acts of goodness and evil but have a certain facility for the latter, which are done, more often than not, in the name of the former….

(4) THE OTHER OF INVENTION. Camestros Felapton is inaugurating The Museum of Right-Wing Gadgets & Sundry Devices.

 Failed experiments! Miraculous near-inventions! Some things that actually exploded! Ladles and gentlemen, I present to you the Museum of Right-Wing Gadgets & Sundry Devices!

The first inductee is Theodore Beale’s “OOMouse,” better known as the “War Mouse” – “The M of RWG&SD Exhibit 1: The OOMouse”.

…A computer mouse with multiple buttons branded with the logo of the Open Office organisation. Also known as the ‘WarMouse’ — sold with a different colour scheme….

(5) WHAT THEY SHOULD HAVE LOOKED UP.  In the Washington Post, Kate Cohen argues that although Don’t Look Up is trying to be a critique of climate change skepticism but it doesn’t work because “its villains are so villainous, and its science deniers are so dumb” that the film is implausible. “What Netflix’s ‘Don’t Look Up’ gets wrong about climate change”.

… In scene after scene, the movie offers several explanations for our nonresponse:because we’re obsessed with celebrity culture and distrustful of science, because the news media is actually in the entertainment business, because politicians prioritize reelection over problem-solving, and because billionaire geniuses choose profit over everything.

To those, I would add — and this is crucial, I think — because climate change isn’t a comet speeding toward Earth.

Yes, I know, no analogy is perfect. But if writer and director Adam McKay (“The Big Short,” “Vice”) wants to persuade people to “make the climate crisis the No. 1 priority,” as he has said, then the metaphor he chose is perfectly wrong….

(6) SUPER GOOD HABITS. Except for Captain America I never think of superheroes even changing age, much less getting old, but TIME recommends them as role models: “What Marvel Superheroes Can Teach Us About Aging Well”.

It’s not easy being a superhero: They have enemies. They have monumental tasks to accomplish. They’re constantly battered. Beyond those dangers, however, they also practice several healthy behaviors that could carry them well into old age.

That’s what a team of Australian researchers recently discovered, as published in the light-hearted Christmas 2021 issue of the journal The BMJ. During pandemic lockdowns, the researchers immersed themselves in the world of Marvel superheroes. Their goal was to discover what these champions are or are not doing well when it comes to keeping their minds and bodies healthy as they advance toward their senior years—information that we regular mortals can incorporate into our New Year’s resolutions and apply to our own lives, too….

Here’s one example:

Stay away from loud noises

The superheroes’ “exposure to planets colliding and explosions would be a risk for hearing loss,” Hubbard says. “Particularly for older men, having hearing loss and not addressing it through wearing hearing aids is associated with an increased risk of dementia.” Therefore, wear hearing aids if necessary.

(7) SUPER BAD HABITS. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] The dismissal of two LAPD police officers was upheld by an appellate court when it was found that, “Gotta catch ‘em all” does not refer to Pokémon if you’re on duty. “’Aw, screw it’: LAPD cops hunted Pokémon instead of responding to robbery”.

The ruling explained:

Officer Mitchell alerted Lozano that “Snorlax” “just popped up” at “46th and Leimert.” After noting that “Leimert doesn’t go all the way to 46th,” Lozano responded, “Oh, you [know] what I can do? I’ll [go] down 11th and swing up on Crenshaw. I know that way I can get to it.” Mitchell suggested a different route, then told Lozano, “We got four minutes.”

For approximately the next 20 minutes, the DICVS captured petitioners discussing Pokémon as they drove to different locations where the virtual creatures apparently appeared on their mobile phones. On their way to the Snorlax location, Officer Mitchell alerted Officer Lozano that “a Togetic just popped up,” noting it was “[o]n Crenshaw, just south of 50th.” After Mitchell apparently caught the Snorlax— exclaiming, “Got ’em”—petitioners agreed to “[g]o get the Togetic” and drove off. When their car stopped again, the DICVS recorded Mitchell saying, “Don’t run away. Don’t run away,” while Lozano described how he “buried it and ultra-balled” the Togetic before announcing, “Got him.” Mitchell advised he was “[s]till trying to catch it,” adding, “Holy crap, man. This thing is fighting the crap out of me.” Eventually Mitchell exclaimed, “Holy crap. Finally,” apparently in reference to capturing the Togetic, and he remarked, “The[] guys are going to be so jealous.” Petitioners then agreed to return to the 7-Eleven (where Sergeant Gomez later met them) to end their watch. On the way, Mitchell remarked, “I got you a new Pokémon today, dude.”

(8) HOME OF FIGRIN D’AN AND THE MODAL NODES? Hollywood’s Scum and Villainy Cantina is still with us despite Covid. Only In Your State paid it a visit: “There’s A Star Wars-Themed Pub In Southern California, And It’s Enchanting”.

Tucked along Hollywood Boulevard, Scum and Villainy Cantina is a bar unlike any other in Hollywood or all of Southern California for that matter! An ode to all-things-nerdy, it’s a place where geeks unite and all fandoms are welcome….

(9) PANSHIN MEDICAL UPDATE. Alexei Panshin told Facebook followers today, “Friends, I’m home again from the pneumonia and heart attack episode I suffered in early December, but by no means fully functional.”

Alexei (with Mike McInerney) at Tricon, the 1966 Worldcon. Photo by and (c) Andrew Porter.

(10) MIDDLE-EARTH PENMANSHIP. “J.R.R. Tolkien Writes in Elvish” – I didn’t know there was video of this!

(11) BUKATO OBIT. Polish fan Wiktor Bukato died July 26, 2021 reports Scientifiction #70. Bukato was a translator and publisher specializing in sff, who received the “Karel” award (for the best translator) from World SF in 1987. He also won the Big Heart Award in 1987. Bukato chaired the European Science Fiction Society from 1991-1993 and was a vice-chair for two more years.  And he was a past member of SFWA.

(12) MEMORY LANE.

2012 [Item by Cat Eldridge.] A decade ago, Jo Walton’s Among Others wins the Best Novel Hugo at Chicon 7 where John Scalzi was Toastmaster. It was her first Hugo nomination. Other nominated works that year were China Miéville‘s Embassytown, James S. A. Corey‘s Leviathan Wakes (the first in the Expanse series), Mira Grant‘s Deadline and George R. R. Martin’s A Dance With Dragons. It would also win the BFA Robert Holdstock Award for Best Fantasy Novel and a Nebula along with being nominated for both Mythopoeic Fantasy Award for Adult Literature and the World Fantasy Award. 

(13) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born January 11, 1906 John Myers Myers. Ahhh, Silverlock. I read the NESFA Edition which has the Silverlock Companion in it which is very useful as you know the novel’s very meta indeed. If you don’t have this, it was reprinted separately later. Thirty years after Silverlock was published, The Moon’s Fire-Eating Daughter novella came out. Myers claims it’s a sequel to Silverlock. (Died 1988.)
  • Born January 11, 1923 Jerome Bixby. His “It’s a Good Life” story became  the basis for an episode of the original Twilight Zone episode under the same name and which was included in Twilight Zone: The Movie. He also wrote four episodes for the original Star Trek series: “Mirror, Mirror”, “Day of the Dove”, “Requiem for Methuselah”, and “By Any Other Name”. With Otto Klement, he co-wrote the story upon which Fantastic Voyage series is based, and the Isaac Asimov novel were based. Bixby’s final produced or published work so far was the screenplay for The Man from Earth film. (Died 1998.)
  • Born January 11, 1924 William Johnston. A prolific tie-in novelist who did nine Get Smart novels plus ones for BewitchedThe MunstersChitty Chitty Bang BangDick Tracy and five for The Flying Nun series. He did only three non-tie-in novels. (Died 2010.)
  • Born January 11, 1930 Rod Taylor. First SFF role would be as Israel Hands in Long John Silver. He would follow that up with World Without End (which you probably heard of), the Hugo-nominated The Time MachineColossus and the Amazon Queen (Taylor claimed to have rewritten the script though there’s no proof of this), The Birds (I really don’t like it), Gulliver’s Travels, One Hundred and One Dalmatians and last, and certainly least, The Warlord: Battle for the Galaxy. (Died 2015.)
  • Born January 11, 1937 Felix Silla. He played Cousin Itt (sic) on The Addams Family in a role invented for the show. The voice was not done by him but rather provided by sound engineer Tony Magro in post-production. He was also responsible for the physical performance of Twiki on Buck Rogers in the 25th Century though the voice was supplied by Mel Blanc or Bob Elyea. And he played an unnamed Ewok on Return of the Jedi. (Died 2021.)
  • Born January 11, 1952 Diana Gabaldon, 70. I have friends who read her and enjoy immensely her Outlander series. They also avidly look forward to every new episode of the Outlander television series. Any of y’all fans of either? 
  • Born January 11, 1961 Jasper Fforde, 61. I read and thoroughly enjoyed every one of his Thursday Next novels, with their delightfully twisted word play, as I did his Nursery Crimes series. I thought a few years ago when I wrote a Birthday note that I had not read his Shades of Grey books and I was right — I now know that I read the first few chapters of the first one and wasn’t impressed enough to finish it. I do know I’ve not read the Dragonslayer series though I’ve heard Good Things about them. Who’s read them? 
  • Born January 11, 1963 Jason Connery, 59. Son of Sir Sean Connery. He’s best known for appearing in the third series of Robin of Sherwood, a series I loved dearly including the music which was done by Clannad which I’ve got live boots of. He also played Jondar in the Vengeance on Varosstory on Doctor Who during the Sixth Doctor era (my least favorite Doctor). He was Ian Fleming in Spymaker: The Secret Life of Ian Fleming. And he was a young Merlin in Merlin: The Quest Begins.

(14) COMICS SECTION.

  • In PVP, Brent and Jade experience the difficulties associated with modern parenting. Tolkien figures into today’s problem!
  • The Argyle Sweater shows the unsuspected cause of a weather phenomenon.
  • Bizarro has a “walks into a bar” story you won’t have thought of before.

(15) I SAY HELLO AND YOU SAY GOODBYE. Den of Geek’s Andrew Blair shares his opinion about the Doctor Who series’ climactic transitions: “Doctor Who: Ranking the Doctor’s Regenerations”. He like this one the absolute least:

12. Time and the Rani (1987)

Colin Baker to Sylvester McCoy

Time and the Rani’ is all over the place. I wouldn’t say it’s the worst story ever, because while it’s a lacklustre romp remembered mainly for its camp, it isn’t mean-spirited. Its CBBC tone was imposed by the BBC after the excesses of Season 22, but it manages a genuinely good cliffhanger to its first episode, and Sylvester McCoy’s performance – while also all over the place – does contain a few moments that showed where he would later take the character.

However, as a regeneration story it has to be bottom of the list because it’s a complete failure. Even allowing for the version written where Colin Baker appeared in all four episodes and regenerated at the end, he would have sacrificed himself in a similar way to Beyus: waiting behind (unnecessarily as it happens) to make sure some bombs went off and thwart the Rani’s plans.

(16) THE COMING CONCATENATION. [Item by Jonathan Cowie.] SF² Concatenation has just tweeted its final advance post for its spring season edition. This edition sees two conreports: yes, real life, physical cons are slowly coming back. This one is on the 31st Festival of Fantastic Films.

Though this year saw a return of the Fest after last year’s cancellation due to CoVID-19, despite a vaccination programme, CoVID was still with us. As with other conventions, the Fest had to take CoVID into account, but being smaller could get away with a looser arrangement. The Fest’s organisers invited attendees to wear masks/face protection at their own personal choice, and many decided to opt to do so; in addition, a system of coloured wristbands was employed, allowing everyone to select and prominently display their preference (no contact, a measure of personal interaction, or full-on hugs and handshakes). This seemed to operate highly effectively.”

“Another casualty of the circumstances was that Gil’s proposed guest line-up had to be scrapped at the eleventh hour. Half a dozen intended personal appearances/Q&A sessions were abandoned, and Kate was left with the seemingly insurmountable problem of filling the gap. Luckily, the already-booked Frazer Hines confirmed his continued availability; in something of a master stroke, Kate carefully scanned ‘what’s on in Manchester’ and was able to provide a truly stellar surprise second guest in the form of Britt Ekland, who just happened to be in the area at the right time! Britt had been touring the UK as part of an ensemble cast in Bill Kenwright’s stage revival of The Cat and the Canary, the best-known version of which is Bob Hope’s version of John Willard’s venerable warhorse of a thunderstorm mystery, now almost a century old.”

(17) SCIENCE-LIKE FICTION. Joachim Boaz muses about the many examples of “Charts, Diagrams, Forms, and Tables in Science Fiction (John Brunner, Larry Niven, Christopher Priest, John Sladek, et al.)” in Science Fiction and Other Suspect Ruminations (From 2017, but it’s news to me!) Includes lots of examples scanned from book pages.

…As of late I’ve been fascinated by pseudo-knowledge in science fiction and speculative fiction–the scholarly afterward in The Iron Dream (1972), the real medical citations in The Hospital Ship (1976), the invented medical citations in Doctor Rat (1976), and “diagrammatic” SF covers filled with maps or anthropological diagrams.

Whatever form it takes, pseudo-knowledge—perhaps derived from our world or even “real” knowledge in our world modified and inserted into another imaginary one—adds, at the most basic level, a veneer of veracity…. 

(18) GENRE ONSCREEN POPULARITY. JustWatch ranked the Top 10 genre movies and TV shows from December 2021. Genre data is sourced from themoviedb.org.

Top 10 Sci-Fi Movies and TV Shows in the US in December (01.12.-31.12.21)

Rank*MoviesTV shows
1Spider-Man: HomecomingStation Eleven
2Spider-Man: Far From HomeThe Wheel of Time
3The Amazing Spider-ManHawkeye
4Don’t Look UpDoctor Who
5Spider-ManThe Expanse
6Venom: Let There Be CarnageRick and Morty
7DuneLost in Space
8The Amazing Spider-Man 2Resident Alien
9Spider-Man: No Way HomeArcane
10Free GuyOutlander

(19) PARKING SPACE. “Stunning STAR WARS Diorama Features a Floating Millennium Falcon”Nerdist sets the frame.

…So, what exactly went into making this cool Star Wars display piece? For starters, Glen Makes used a Revell Snaptite Build and Play Star Wars: The Last Jedi Millennium Falcon 1:164 scale model. Next, they got themselves a Stirlingkit 1000g DIY Magnetic Levitation Module Floating Display Kit. Some Tap acrylic circles and clear plastic rods. Collectively, it cost around $200 to create. But the final product looks well worth it. Who wouldn’t want a Millenium Falcon as their display centerpiece?

(20) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In “Honest Game Trailers: Halo Infinite,” Fandom Games notes that in the seventh Halo game the bad guys are still trying to destroy the universe by completing the halo, even though they failed at this in the six previous games.  Also, you can play this for free in multiplayer mode and enjoy “causing a mid-life crisis in a frat guy” when you kill off his character.

[Thanks to Andrew Porter, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, Dann, Kate Yeazel, Chris Barkley, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Jamoche.]

Pixel Scroll 12/19/21 Who Put The Clarke In The Rama Lama File Scroll?

(1) THE HUGO RUNOFFS. The Hugo Awards official site has the 2021 voting results online. (But you already know that, right?)

  • Final ballot placements and detailed voting counts are available here (PDF).
  • Nominating details are here (PDF).

(2) CRUNCHING THE NUMBERS. Nicholas Whyte’s “2021 Hugos in detail” gives his analysis of the voting statistics released after last night’s ceremony. Here’s a narrative hook for you –

Four categories saw the total number of votes for finalists other than No Award dip below 30% of the total poll – Best Fan Writer (28.8%), Best Professional Editor (Long Form) (28.2%), Best Fanzine (27.2%), and Best Fancast (26.8%). Best Fancast was within 43 votes of not being awarded at all, due to dropping below the 25% threshold….

His comments on the Best Related Work category include:

Unusually, DisCon 3 published No Award runoff figures for every place in every category (the constitution only specifies that this should be done in determining the winner). The numbers for No Award here were particularly high in the last four places, with 358 preferring No Award to 753 who preferred George R. R. Martin Can Fuck Off Into the Sun….

Pat Cadigan shared her opinion of the result in that category with her Facebook readers.  

Also relieved that the tirade against George RR Martin did not win the Hugo. I am still baffled as to how a screed like that could have been nominated in a category that has included complex, book-length works of biography, scholarship, art, and other far more worthy examples of associated work.

I don’t care what you think of George RR Martin. I don’t care if you think the author was right. That’s not my point. A blog entry or single article is not in any way equivalent to the winner, which is a translation of Beowulf by Maria Dhavana Headley. Translating requires a lot more care, actual knowledge, and hard work than merely venting your spleen.

That would-be polemic was the Donald Trump of Hugo nominations: unworthy.

(3) MASQUERADE PHOTOS. Kevin Roche responded to a request in comments for links to DisCon III Masquerade photos.

(4) CAVALCADE OF FORMER CHAIRS. The 2021 Worldcon Chairs Photo Session is online at YouTube. Nearly all of those present at DisCon III made it to the session. Also includes current chair Mary Robinette Kowal, and a Chengdu representative.

The traditional gathering of chairs of the World Science Fiction Convention, held at DisCon III, the 79th World Science Fiction Convention, in Washington DC. Videography by Lisa Hayes.

(5) CORRECTION TO DISCON III ART SHOW SALES. “DisCon III regrets that there was an error in how sales tax was calculated for sales in the Art Show,” says today’s news release:

Instead of the correct 6% rate, it was being calculated as 10%. If you were mischarged, we are providing you two options. 

(1) You can consider the additional 4% as a bonus to the artist. We will pay the correct sales tax amount to the District of Columbia, with all of the remaining amount going to the artist.

(2) You can request a refund of the 4% overcharge by sending an email to finance@discon3.org. Please submit your request by Wednesday, December 29 as we cannot pay the artists for their sales until we know the amount due them. If you have any questions or concerns about this issue, also address them to the Finance team.

(6) THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN. Kevin Standlee reports in “Worldcon 2021 Day 4: Final Business Meeting Results” what the meeting decided about seven new amendments to the WSFS Constitution that were taken up after the Site Selection report was made at Saturday’s business meeting. You can read the text of items F.1 to F.7 in the business meeting Agenda on pages 36-41. See Kevin’s post for his commentary about the proceedings.

  • F.1 One Episode per Series –– failed on a show of hands
  • F.2 30 Days Hath New Business — passed 34-15.
  • F.3 The Statue of Liberty Play — passed on a show of hands.
  • F.4 Shut Up and Take My Money — referred to a special committee 
  • F.5 A Matter of Days — adopted by unanimous consent
  • F.6 Non-transferrability of Voting Rights — adopted on a 35-22 vote
  • F.7 Best Audiobook — referred the proposal to the Hugo Awards Study Committee on a vote by show of hands.

(7) WHICH ONE IS THE FILER? Andrew (not Werdna) assures us, “I’m the non-Narn in this picture.” But he also knew that merely saying we could tell who he was by his distinctive headgear wasn’t going to be enough: “I was right — I ran into another guy with a button covered bucket hat.”

(8) RAYTHEON PRESENCE AT HUGOS. Gizmodo’s Justin Carter used his platform to presume that his opinion represents all fans’ opinions: “The Hugo Awards Face Backlash for Raytheon Sponsorship”.  But it’s true that some are protesting the decision.

…At time of writing, DisCon has yet to speak on the partnership with Raytheon for the event. For now, fans are left feeling soured that a night that should’ve been about a genre they loved had to brush up against a reality they hate.

(9) YOUR TURN IN THE BARREL. Amber Benson advises SFWA Blog readers about “Managing A Creator’s Public Profile and Navigating Audience Entitlement”.

….What happens when you step out of fandom into the pole position? A.k.a., ‘I’ve written a thing and it’s been published and now people are talking about it and me on the internet’?

Well, I’m not going to lie. You may be in for a very overwhelming and unsettling experience. Because all those feelings of ownership you had as a fan, well, they are now going to be applied to you and your work. By people you have never met before who have no compunction about @replying to you on social media in order to say mean things about you.

To a lot of these people, you have ceased to be a real live human being with feelings. You are now a “public figure” and that comes with many caveats, including being physically and emotionally vulnerable in a way that fans, with their ability to remain anonymous, are not. It also means you will be open to ridicule, judgement, and disdain online (and sometimes to your face). In balance, you will also be loved, put on a pedestal, and maybe even called a “genius.”

You and your work now belong to the world at large. And that world contains three kinds of people: fans who love what you create, critics who hate your output—and everyone else in the world who could give a crap that you make art. And between you and me, I’m not sure what’s more painful: the armchair critics who think you stink (at least they’re thinking about you) or the fact that 90 percent of the world, upon hearing your name, will only mutter: Who . . . ?

So how do you handle all of the attention—both positive, negative, and ambivalent—when you finally put your work out into this very complicated world? I have my thoughts on the subject and I will share them with you below….

(10) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

1938 [Item by Cat Eldridge.] Eighty-three years ago, Hercule Poirot’s Christmas was first published by the Collins Crime Club. In the States, it bore first the title of Murder for Christmas and later A Holiday fur Murder when published in paperback.

Critics generally thought it was one of her best mysteries. The New York Times Book Review critic Issac Anderson said of it that “Poirot has solved some puzzling mysteries in his time, but never has his mighty brain functioned more brilliantly than in Murder for Christmas.”

The story was adapted for television in an episode of Agatha Christie’s Poirot starring David Suchet as Hercule Poirot, first aired in the UK on Christmas 1994. The BBC has produced it twice for radio with it first being broadcast on Christmas Eve 1975 with John Moffatt as Hercule Poirot. A second production was broadcast on Christmas Eve 1986 featuring Peter Sallis as Poirot. 

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born December 19, 1902 Sir Ralph Richardson. God in Time Bandits but also Earl of Greystoke in Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan, Lord of the Apes (which gets a remarkably great rating at Rotten Tomatoes in my opinion) and Chief Rabbit in Watership Down. Also the Head Librarian in Rollerball which I’ll admit I’ve never seen and have no desire to do so. And a caterpillar in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. And Satan in the Tales from the Crypt film. Oh, my he has had an interesting genre film career! (Died 1983.)
  • Born December 19, 1952 Linda Woolverton, 69. She’s the first woman to have written a Disney animated feature, Beauty and the Beast, which was the first animated film ever to be nominated for Best Picture at the Academy Awards. She also co-wrote The Lion King screenplay (along with Irene Mecchi and Jonathan Roberts). 
  • Born December 19, 1960 Dave Hutchinson, 61. Best known for his Fractured Europe series which won a BSFA Award for the third novel, Europe in WinterEurope at Midnight was nominated for a John W. Campbell Memorial Award and the Clarke as well. I’ve listened to the entire series and it’s quite fascinating. He’s got some other genre fiction as well but I’ve not delved into any of those yet. 
  • Born December 19, 1961 Matthew Waterhouse, 60. He’s best known as Adric, companion to the Fourth and Fifth Doctors. He was the youngest actor in that role at the time. And yes, he too shows up in The Five(ish) Doctors Reboot. Theatre wise, he’s appeared in productions of Peter PanA Midsummer Night’s Dream (as Puck), The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe and Hamlet. Oddly enough, he’s not, to my knowledge, done any Who work at Big Finish.
  • Born December 19, 1969 Kristy Swanson, 53. Her first starring genre  film role was in Wes Craven’s Deadly Friend, but no doubt her best known genre role was as the original Buffy the Vampire Slayer. She also shows up in Alfred Hitchcock PresentsThe PhantomNot Quite Human and The Black Hole. For the record, I like her version of Buffy the Vampire Slayer! 
  • Born December 19, 1972 Alyssa Milano, 49. Phoebe Halliwell in the long running original Charmed series. Other genre appearances include on Outer Limits, the second Fantasy Island series, Embrace of the VampireDouble Dragon, the Young Justice animated series as the voice of Poison Ivy and more voice work in DC’s The Spectre excellent animated short as a spoiled rich young thing with a murderous vent who comes to a most fitting and quite bloody end.
  • Born December 19, 1975 Brandon Sanderson, 46. He is best known for the Cosmere universe, in which most of his fantasy novels, the Mistborn series and The Stormlight Archive, which was nominatedfor a Best Series Hugo at Worldcon 76, are set. He finished Jordan’s Wheel of Time series. He’s got several Hugos, both at LoneStarCon 3 for his “The Emperor’s Soul” novella and also for a Best Related Work Hugo for Writing Excuses, Season Seven
  • Born December 19, 1979 Robin Sloan, 42. Author of Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore which definitely has fantasy elements in it and is a damn fine read. His second novel which he sent me to consider reviewing, Sourdough or, Lois and Her Adventures in the Underground Market, is also probably genre adjacent but is also weirdly about food as well. And he’s a really nice person.

(12) COMICS SECTION.

(13) YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED. Edd Lai is the guy – “Guy Creates Terrifying Comics That Don’t End as You’d Expect” at Pupperish.

Over the last decade or so there has been a good selection of web comics that tell some brilliant stories in a variety of different art styles. From Shen to Yehuda Devir, these brilliant comics have gained a bunch of recognition. One artist named Edd Lai has made some uplifting comics that set themselves up as horror comics and surprise you with their endings. Here are a selection of these brilliant comics. Let’s give them the recognition they deserve.

(14) WHERE IS IT? We’ve heard of unwritten codes – now Marvel gives us non-written codes. So to speak: “Marvel Comics Overhauls Digital Copy Redemption Program” at CBR.com.

Readers were taken aback this week when Marvel’s new releases did not include the traditional stickers in them that can be removed to reveal a special code that can be used to redeem a digital copy of the issue online using the Marvel Comics app. When someone inquired with Marvel as to whether it was simply a printing error, a Marvel representative revealed that it was not.

The representative explained, “Hi, Chris. It’s not a misprint, but a process update. Please follow the instructions on that code page, they will tell you step-by-step how to get codes for your comics, and any other details you need to know. Thanks!”

…If customers just have to go through a different system to get the same digital copies, this is not that significant, but fans are naturally wondering whether this is the first step towards once again stopping the digital redemption program.

(15) WITHOUT LIMITS. James Davis Nicoll tells Tor.com readers about “5 Stories in Which Great Power Is Not Always Used Responsibly”.

Imagine, if you will, that fate has imbued you with extraordinary power. Would you use that power responsibly? Would you even know what “responsibly” means? It’s easy to set out with the best of intentions, only to discover too late one has fallen into profound error. Consider these five novels.

(16) TIMELESS. [Item by Hampus Eckerman.] Not sure why this movie about a man travelling in time to celebrate Christmas in the year 2020 is listed as a Comedy. A tragedy seems more fitting. IMDb listing for the Hallmark Channel’s A Timeless Christmas.

Charles Whitley travels from 1903 to 2020 where he meets Megan Turner and experiences a 21st Century Christmas.

(17) TOP DOLLAR. An Edward Gorey illustration for a Frank Belknap Long sff collection set an auction record. Goreyana has the story: “A New Record for Gorey Art at Auction”.

…This was followed shortly thereafter by a new record auction price for original artwork by Edward Gorey – $27,500.00 (hammer price plus buyer’s premium) for a 1964  pen & ink book cover design for The Dark Beasts, a paperback collection of stories by Frank Belknap Long (this piece has not been added to my collection)….

(18) LOAD THE CANON. StarWars.com tells comics fans to mark the date: “Marvel’s Han Solo & Chewbacca Series Coming March 2022”.

The galaxy’s greatest smuggler and his Wookiee co-pilot are taking on a new job: starring in their own comic.

Han Solo & Chewbacca, a new series from Marvel, will launch in March 2022, StarWars.com can exclusively reveal. Written by Marc Guggenheim and pencilled by David Messina, the monthly comic follows Han and Chewie a few years before the events of Star Wars: A New Hope, as the duo teams up with Greedo — in better times, apparently — on a heist for Jabba the Hutt….

 The comic’s writer does a Q&A in the post:

…StarWars.com: And Chewie?

Marc Guggenheim: Chewbacca’s been alive hundreds of years longer than Han. He tries to offer Han the benefit of his experience, to offer a more evolved perspective on things, but Han usually goes his own way. And the thing is, Chewie is just fine with that. He’s good to go with the flow and let Han call the shots because he knows that, no matter what, Han’s got his back. Chewie’s an interesting character to write, obviously, because he only speaks Shyriiwook, so a lot of this I have to get out by dint of the circumstances Han and Chewie find themselves in, as well as Han’s reactions to what Chewie is saying.

I’m gonna be doing a future issue exclusively from Chewbacca’s point of view, so that should be a lot of fun. Hopefully, we can get into Chewie’s head in a way we never have seen before….

(19) STARSHIP TITANIC. Michael Palin’s Starship Titanic is available to listen to at BBC Radio 4 beginning today. It will be online for another 29 days.

Michael Palin stars in an exclusive adaptation of Terry Jones’s comic novel. A tale of interstellar skulduggery, romance and unhinged robots based in Douglas Adams’s universe.

Far off in the centre of one of the less well-chartered quadrants of the universe, a vast civilisation is preparing to launch the most technologically advanced starship ever – Starship Titanic While the galaxy’s media looks on, it unfortunately undergoes SMEF (Spontaneous Massive Existence Failure) and disappears. Leovinus, the designer of the ship, uncovers shoddy workmanship, poor cybernetics and a series of increasingly eccentric robots. The owners, Scraliontis and Brobostigan, were intent on destroying the ship and claiming the insurance.

Meanwhile in Oxfordshire, four humans are inspecting a property they intend buying, only to see it crushed under the re-materialising Starship. This disaster is swiftly followed by an invitation from an over-attentive robot to come aboard, and Lucy, Dan and Nettie are catapulted into a series of increasingly bizarre encounters.

Stylistically emulating the work of the great Douglas Adams in Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, the late Terry Jones weaves a fabulously mad and comic tale, adapted by Ian Billings and directed by Dirk Maggs, who also directed the last four editions of the Hitchhiker’s sagas.

VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] Last night’s Saturday Night Live was mostly repeats because of Covid.  They rebroadcast a 1991 holiday special on global warming featuring Tom Hanks as Dean Martin and Mike Myers as Carl Sagan.  The news is that Isaac Asimov was a character, played by Phil Hartman (who arrives at the 5:00-minute mark). I thought George RR Martin was the only sf writer parodied on SNL, but Asimov was caricatured at least once.

[Thanks to JJ, John King Tarpinian, Andrew Porter, Sheila Addison, Dann, Nicholas Whyte, Andrew (not Werdna), Kevin Roche, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, and Martin Morse Wooster for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Jim Janney.]

Pixel Scroll 12/4/21 This Pixel Made The John Kessel Pun In Under Twelve Pure Products

(1) NOT LOOKING GOOD.  “Friends who attended anime convention with man who contracted omicron have tested positive for coronavirus, health official says” reports the Washington Post.

The Minnesota man who contracted the omicron variant of the coronavirus met up with about 35 friends at a New York City anime convention and about half have tested positive for the coronavirus, a state health official said Friday.

Members of the group traveled to New York from a variety of states for the weekend convention that began Nov. 19 and tested positive after their return, said Kris Ehresmann, director of the Infectious Disease Epidemiology, Prevention, and Control Division at the Minnesota Department of Health. It is not known whether they are infected with omicron or another variant.“We don’t know if we’ll see a lot of omicron, or we’ll see a lot of delta,” Ehresmann said in an interview. “But we’re likely to see a lot of covid” out of the convention, which drew 53,000 people and tightly packed crowds from Nov. 19 to 21. The development is not sufficient, by itself, to determine where people were infected, who gave the virus to whom, or to develop a timeline of its spread, Ehresmann said. The man infected with omicron also spent time elsewhere in New York City. New York, Minnesota and other states, as well as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, are investigating the case and have begun tracing the Minnesota man’s contacts….

(2) ANDREW PORTER HEALTH UPDATE. [Item by Andrew Porter.] When I had my annual check-up at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in November—as you might remember, I was successfully operated on for Pancreatic Cancer in 2007—blood tests found an elevated cancer marker. As a result, I had a CT scan there on November 26th—the day after Thanksgiving. 

After having a very dark Thanksgiving, and the days leading up to the results, the news is that I remain cancer-free. The scan found some minor problems, but No Cancer!!!

I’ll expect my usual pixel payment for this.

(3) FAREWELL TOUR. In the Guardian: “Jodie Whittaker on saying goodbye to Doctor Who: ‘I thought, what if I’ve ruined this for actresses?’”

That must have felt like a lot of pressure at times.

The most heightened point of pressure for me was at Madison Square Garden in September 2018, at New York Comic Con. The very first episode was being shown live in front of a massive audience, and I went and sat next to my husband, and I’d absolutely gone. I just thought: “There’s this crowd of Whovians that are really excited and full of love and support.” And I was like: “What if I have pitched this so badly wrong? What if I’ve ruined it for actresses?” Because I know full well that when lads were cast in the part, they weren’t representing men, they were representing their own personal casting. The way it was described in every outlet was not: “Can Jodie Whittaker play the part?”, it was: “It’s a woman!” I suddenly thought: “Have I hindered us? Have I held us back?” Because we’d filmed the first series, and I’d loved it. I really felt confident all the way through. Then there is that moment where you go, oh God …

I don’t think the backlash to the Doctor being a woman was necessarily there in the way that some people anticipated, though.

“No bras in the Tardis” and stuff like that? There’s noise like that about everything, and that’s not the kind of thing that affects me, day to day. As soon as the first episode goes out, it’s either your cup of tea or it’s not. You realise, you’re not representing anyone other than yourself. Then you get the amazing Jo Martin [another incarnation of the Doctor], so then it’s really old news about me. And hopefully, with the next 15 generations of Doctors, we never have to have this chat again. I’m delighted it was mine, but it never has to happen again, thank God.

(4) MIDDLE-EARTH ALL OVER THE WORLD. The British Science Fiction Association’s Vector has posted a written roundtable about the global appeal of Tolkien’s work, based on a Zoom panel involving the same participants, in “Global Tolkien – A Roundtable”.

Following the interest generated by the Tolkien and Diversity Panel at Oxonmoot 2020, (hosted by Sultana Raza), another Panel on Global Tolkien was proposed and accepted by the Tolkien Society for Oxonmoot 2021. The idea for this Panel was formed because of a rising trend in SFF and Tolkien enthusiasts, against diversity in fandoms and interpretations of SFF writers. Luckily, the Tolkien Society doesn’t seem to ascribe to this view, and has been encouraging further dialogue on this topic.

The Panelists included Sultana Raza (also the Moderator), Ali Ghaderi (Iran), María Fernanda Chávez Guiñez (Chile), and Gözde Ersoy (Turkey). Gözde Ersoy (assistant-professor of English Literature at Mu?la S?tk? Koçman University, Turkey) also briefly presented a video of an online event she had organized with school children in Turkey, on the Tolkien Reading Day, where they’d read an excerpt from The Hobbit in Turkish.

Sultana Raza: The huge international success of Tolkien’s novels and adaptations especially The Lord of the Rings (LOTR) prove that the same common human values are prevalent in most cultures globally. Most people can identify with at least one major character from these books, (who also have archetypal qualities), and are eager to follow their journey, experiencing some form of catharsis at the end. In general, the appeal of SFF stories lies in the core of the human story at the centre of the drama, whether it’s unfolding on Arrakis, in Westeros, in Narnia, in Middle-Earth, or in the Undying Lands. 

(5) THE BAEN OF HIS EXISTENCE. Bruce Bethke’s “Files found while looking for something else” at Stupefying Stories Magazine tells why you probably haven’t read his novel Cyberpunk – and never could have.

Well, golly. While looking for the original source for the shareware beta version of Cyberpunk—which I still haven’t found—I found the files for the 2011 version, which was being developed under the working title of Cyberpunk 1989 for a book deal that fell through. I have some affection for the proposed cover art:

Ten years ago it probably would have been considered very edgy, although it looks kind of silly and amateurish now.

Of more interest to me is that the folder contains the prelude and postlude that I wrote specifically to go with that version of the novel, and it contains some things I’d forgotten I’d written. Without further ado, then…

…Twenty-some years later [n.b., 30 now], I still don’t know quite what to think of this one. As a 21st Century bildungsroman, it works fairly well, and there are many things in this book with which I am still quite pleased.

All the same, it’s not the novel that I set out to write, nor is it by any stretch of the imagination a “cyberpunk” novel, in the sense that the term came to be redefined by the flood of Imitation Neuromancer novels that hit the market in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

In the final analysis, it simply is what it is. In my less charitable moments I sometimes call this my Baen-damaged novel, but in my more honest moments I must admit that it’s largely my own fault. I wanted to do whatever it took to get an original novel into print, and willingly went along with every change Jim Baen asked me to make, right up until the moment he told me to end the book with Mikey going on a shooting rampage inside his high school. Even ten years before “Columbine” became a synonym for insane atrocity, I found the idea of writing that ending—and of turning my hero into a mass-murderer—to be abhorrent.

But it was my refusal to bend over and grab my ankles one more time, and to excrete the ending Jim Baen specifically told me to write, that killed this book….

(6) MILES MORALES IS BACK. Sony Pictures has released a first look at Spider-Man: Across The Spider-Verse (Part One).

Miles Morales returns for the next chapter of the Oscar®-winning Spider-Verse saga, an epic adventure that will transport Brooklyn’s full-time, friendly neighborhood Spider-Man across the Multiverse to join forces with Gwen Stacy and a new team of Spider-People to face off with a villain more powerful than anything they have ever encountered.

(7) DIANA G. GALLAGHER (1946-2021). Author, filker and fan artist Diana G. Gallagher died December 3. She wrote numerous media tie-in novels for such series as Buffy the Vampire SlayerSabrina the Teenage Witch and Charmed. As a filksong creator she had a number of tapes performing her songs commercially produced in the Eighties, and won a Pegasus Award for Best Original Humorous Song (1986) and Best Children’s Song (1994). She won the Best Fan Artist Hugo in 1989 (as Diana Gallagher Wu). She was married four times, the third time to the writer William F. Wu, ending in 1990, and the fourth time to writer and filker Marty Burke, who died in 2011.

(8) JAMES R. TERRY. A fan who helped start Los Angeles’ Doctor Who-themed convention Gallifrey One, James R. “Jim” Terry Jr., died unexpectedly from complications following heart surgery on December 1.  He was a familiar figure at Southern California cons, often in Starfleet attire. The Gallifrey One Facebook page paid tribute:

…Jim wholeheartedly embraced his geekdom… though he loved Doctor Who, Star Trek was the one thing truly embedded in his blood. Yet that was just one facet of Jim; he was also a kind soul, a loyal friend, never a harsh word for the people he cared about… a list of fellow friends and fans that went on and on. From days of being a regular at LASFS or Time Meddlers of Los Angeles meetings, to fan socials and viewing parties and cons and dinners, so many of us were privileged to know him. His last visit to Gallifrey One was in 2019, joining us to celebrate our 30th anniversary, and he had planned to return this coming February….

(9) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

1985 [Item by Cat Eldridge.] Thirty-six years ago on this date in the United Kingdom, Back to The Future premiered.  It was directed by Robert Zemeckis and produced by Neil Canton and Bob Gale. It was written by Robert Zemeckis and Bob Gale. It starred Michael J. Fox, Christopher Lloyd, Lea Thompson and Crispin Glover.  It would win a Hugo at ConFederation where Bob Shaw was the Toastmaster. The reception for it among critics and audience alike was overwhelmingly positive. Roger Ebert said that it had “a fine comic touch”. It made nearly three hundred and ninety million on a budget of only nineteen million. Audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes give it currently an impressive ninety four percent rating. It would spawn two sequels, of which Back to The Future III would nominated for a Hugo at Chicon V. 

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born December 4, 1939 Jimmy Hunt, 82. He plays Dave MacLean in Invaders from Mars. Some three decades later, he’ll appear in the remake as the Police Chief. He’s an uncredited appearance early in his career in My Brother Talks to Horses which is definitely genre. And he’s in Close Encounters of the 4th Kind: Infestation from Mars though I know nothing of this film. Have any of you seen it? 
  • Born December 4, 1949 Richard Lynch, 72. Writer, Editor, Historian, and Fan who with his wife Nicki produced the long-running fanzine Mimosa from 1982 to 2003, which was nominated fourteen times for the Hugo Award for Best Fanzine, winning six of those years. He has been a member of several fan groups and APAs, chaired a Chattacon, and edited the BucConeer Worldcon Souvenir Program Book. He and Nicki have been Fan Guests of Honor at several conventions, and were honored with the Phoenix Award by Southern Fandom.
  • Born December 4, 1949 Jeff Bridges, 72. I’d say his best genre role was as Starman / Scott Hayden in the film of that name. Other genre work includes King Kong, the voice of Prince Lir in Peter Beagle’s The Last Unicorn, Jack Lucas in The Fisher King, Iron Monger in Iron Man and Kevin Flynn/CLU 2 in Tron: Legacy. He appeared also in a film called R.I.P.D. as Roycephus “Roy” Pulsipher which was either really bad or really, really bad. 
  • Born December 4, 1954 Sally Kobee, 67. Fan, Bookseller, Filker. She has served on the committees for myriad conventions, and chaired both Ohio Valley Filk Fest 4 and OVFF 10, and WFC 2010 and 2016. She was honored as a Fellow of NESFA and as a Guest of Honor at Windycon XXVII. She and her now late husband purchased a bookstore in the nineties. She continues to the day to provide convention bookstores.
  • Born December 4, 1957 Lucy Sussex, 64. Fan, reviewer, author, and editor. Born in New Zealand, resident in Australia, she’s been writing SFF ever since attending a Terry Carr-led workshop. And she’s an editor as well having edited several anthologies such as She’s Fantastical, the first collection of Australian women’s speculative fiction. Sussex has won three Ditmar Awards, an A. Bertram Chandler Award and an Aurealis Award to name some of her awards — impressive indeed!   
  • Born December 4, 1974 Anne KG [Murphy] Gray, 47. Engineer, Physicist, Writer, Editor, Conrunner, and Fan. Known in fandom as Netmouse, she was a member of the Ann Arbor Science Fiction Association, and has served on numerous convention committees and chaired three ConFusions. As a member of Midfan, which ran four Midwest Construction regional conrunner training conventions in the 2000s, she was editor of their publication MidFanzine. She is a past president of the Science Fiction Oral History Association. She is married to Brian Gray, with whom she won the Trans-Atlantic Fan Fund in 2010; they went to Eastercon and Corflu in the UK and produced a TAFF trip report, a piece on the Sherlock Holmes museum, and a photo album.
  • Born December 4, 1988 Natasha Pulley, 33. She’s best known for her debut Victorian steampunk novel, The Watchmaker of Filigree Street winner of the Betty Trask Award given for first novels written by authors under the age of 35 who reside in a current or former Commonwealth nation. She has three other novels. The second was The Bedlam Stacks. Her third, The Lost Future of Pepperharrow, is the sequel to her first novel. Her latest, The Kingdoms, was just published.

(11) COMICS SECTION.

  • Tom Gauld’s new cartoon for the Guardian:

(12) THE SWEAT SPOT. Now You See It explains why the characters in Dune aren’t sweating.

I loved Dune, but one thing about it irked me. On a planet where sweat is so crucial to survival, why do we see so little of it? Let’s take a look at how Dune’s implementation of sweat alters the emotional feeling of the story, the planet, and the characters.

(13) BUSTED. At Kalimac’s Corner, David Bratman once again disputes that Peter Jackson’s departures from Tolkien’s text were imposed by the requirements of moviemaking rather than just unilateral choices: “Contra Jackson”.

…One of my basic points about the Peter Jackson Lord of the Rings movies, dating back to my original article on the subject in 2004, is to dispute the defense of the changes to the story on the grounds that (and here I’m paraphrasing the tone of voice used by those who make this argument) “They haaad to do it that way because it’s a mooooooovie.

In other words, that there are inviolable Laws of Movie-Making that have to be followed by anyone who wishes their blockbuster not to tank at the box office.

…In fact, I am certain that, when Jackson changed Tolkien’s story, it was because he wanted to, not because some mythical Laws of Movie-Making forced him to. And this is because Jackson boldly violated the conventions of movie-making when he wanted to. And he endured criticism for it: the prime example is the supposed “five endings” of The Return of the King when it keeps seeming as if the movie is about to wrap up with a celebration scene and then it keeps going. Here, Jackson is trying to follow Tolkien, but he’s not doing it very well, because Tolkien’s versions of these scenes don’t read like a series of postponed endings (and not because you can see the physical end of the book coming up, because in fact 160 pages, in the paperback, of appendix and index intervene between the end of the story and the end of the book).

One major movie rule-breaking Jackson indulged in was to make a trilogy of movies that were three parts of one story (again copying the books, albeit ignorantly). Series of interconnected movies, as opposed to stand-alone sequels, were (unusual? unknown?) then. They’re common now, of course, but that’s because the rules consist of “whatever worked for the last successful blockbuster” and The Lord of the Rings was certainly a successful blockbuster….

(14) ORDER IN THE GONCOURT. Sarah Lyall’s review of The Anomaly for the New York Times is certainly interesting, so maybe the book is too: “‘The Anomaly,’ Part Airplane Thriller and Part Exploration of Reality, Fate and Free Will”.

…“The Anomaly,” a runaway best seller in France, where it won the Prix Goncourt last year, lies in that exciting Venn diagram where high entertainment meets serious literature. Its plot might have been borrowed from “The Twilight Zone” or “Black Mirror,” but it movingly explores urgent questions about reality, fate and free will. If our lives might not be our own and we end up dying either way, how should we live?

… It’s a measure of Le Tellier’s masterful storytelling that he makes us wait all the way to Page 151 to find out what bizarre thing has befallen the plane in question, Air France Flight 006 from Paris to New York. But before that, we meet some of its passengers and learn about their lives on the ground.

…What do they have in common, besides being on this fateful flight? Who are the shadowy government figures quietly rounding them up? And why does the bulletproof, government-issued cellphone of a nerdy Princeton statistician whose T-shirt says “I love zero, one and Fibonacci” suddenly ring, after 20 years of silence, starting an emergency response plan known as Protocol 42?

 (15) NEW EXOPLANET JUST AN IRON CORE. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] A large but Mercury-like planet has been detected orbiting very close to a small red dwarf. The research has been reported in this week’s Science journal. (Alas it is behind a pay-wall but the abstract is here.)

It is an odd planet of about 0.7 Earth-radii with a very high density suggesting it is largely metallic iron and it orbits close to its star in just 7.7-hours.It is so close to its star that the daytime side will be a furnace heated to 1,400°C, such that even rock would be molten.

The type of planet was able to be determined because its orbit took it between its sun and us and so (from the star’s dimming) its size could be calculated. From its orbit’s period, and its distance from its star, the planet’s mass could be calculated. Linking this into its size enabled its density to be deduced. The planet has a very high density and it thought to largely made of iron and so the best part of it is a planetary core with hardly any mantle. As such, it is much like our own system’s planet Mercury. However, Mercury orbits the Sun every 88 days and despite our Sun being hotter than a red dwarf the daytime bare rock on Mercury is heated only to 430°C. (See Lam, K. W. F. et al (2021) GJ 367b: A dense, ultrashort-period sub-Earth planet transiting a nearby red dwarf star. Science, vol. 374, p1271-1275.)

(16) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] Star Wars fans wonder how they can get their fix of Star Wars music during Christmas.  Well, why not combine Star Wars AND carols?

[Thanks to JJ, John King Tarpinian, Andrew Porter, Sultana Raza, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Chris Barkley, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, and Martin Morse Wooster for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Andrew (not Werdna).]

Pixel Scroll 11/29/21 Will You Still Need Me, Will You Still Read Me, When I Pixel Scroll?

(1) GET AN EARFUL. Today File 770 partnered with AudioFile Magazine to unveil “AudioFile’s 2021 Best Science Fiction & Fantasy Audiobooks”. Here is the link to the complete AudioFile Magazine – Best Of 2021 list.

We love hearing a good story well told, and we know that you do, too: the comfort and intimacy of a voice in your ear, the pleasure of being completely swept up in a narrative. That’s why, every December, we are so glad to celebrate audio excellence by selecting AudioFile’s Best Audiobooks. Thank you to all of the narrators, directors, producers, and publishers who filled our year with good listening.

(2) A PAY SERVICE NIXES DISCON III. “WeChat Restrictions, We Tried, We Really Tried” says DisCon III:  

“We have had to remove WeChat as a payment option. Due to their restrictions on charitable giving, we are unable to use WeChat services at this time. Our tech team is working to find a workaround to help overseas fans who want to pay using WeChat. That said, all of our other avenues are still available, and there’s still time to join us at DisCon III. Please visit our member services page to purchase your membership.” said Mary Robinette Kowal, Chair of DisCon III. 

(3) ON BROADWAY. [Item by Daniel Dern.] The opening of (Marvel) Hawkeye (new TV series) includes Clint “Hawkeye” Barton (and his 3 kids) going to a performance of Rogers The Musical (note that the signage looks very Hamiltonian), and we get to, delightfully, see about half of “I Can Do This All Day” about the NYC invasion, in the first Avengers movie.

Here’s one of many articles on this, including an audio with the full lyrics:  “Hear Hawkeye’s Rogers: The Musical song, and how Marvel pulled it off” at Polygon.

… Written by Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman, who have collaborated on other Broadway musical adaptations like Hairspray and Catch Me If You CanRogers is the MCU’s latest attempt to reminisce over past battles with a wink and nod. A little like the scene in Loki where the God of Mischief finds Infinity stones being used as paperweights, the silliness of Rogers asks the audience if they can remember what all the fuss was about….

(4) HE GAVE IT A SPIN. Camestros Felapton says “The Wheel of Time adaptation is looking good”.

…A strong cast gives the characters more weight and also pushes them closer to how Jordan intended them to be (from context) rather than how they come over in the books. Nynaeve in particular is clearly meant to be a strong-willed character in the books but comes over as just whiny and annoying (your impression may differ) in Jordan’s dialogue. However, the show’s Nynaeve is a really compelling character played by New Zealander Zoë Robins, full of intensity and suspicion of what she (correctly) perceives as a hostile world….

(5) FUTURE TENSE. The November 2021 entry in the Future Tense Fiction series is “Ride,” by Linda Nagata, a story about climate, public transportation, and AI in Hawaii.

 …The boy waved at them, then turned again to Jasmine. “Give it a try,” he exhorted her in a conspiratorial whisper. “Promise you will?”

Those eyes.

Her smile brightened. She didn’t want to disappoint those eyes. So she played along, teasing, “I might.” And maybe she really would. It was just a little game, after all….

It was published along with a response essay by cities and transit journalist Henry Grabar: “What if an All-Knowing Algorithm Ran Traffic and Transit?”

I like to think of myself as deeply skeptical of the many internet algorithms telling me what I want and need. I turn off targeted advertising wherever I can. I use AdBlock to hide what’s left. Most of my YouTube recommendations are for concerts or sports highlights, but I know I’m just a few clicks away from a wild-eyed influencer telling me to gargle turpentine for a sore throat. Twitter trending topics? I regret clicking immediately.

But I make an exception for the sweet, all-knowing embrace of the Spotify algorithm, to whom I surrender my ears several times a day. This software doesn’t just know my taste in music better than my friends; it acts on it, with chains of songs that build off things that I know I like, or forgot I did….

(6) HARLAN IN THE WILDERNESS. Stephen Bowie interviewed Harlan Ellison in 1996 about his early days writing for television: “Harlan Hits Hollywood” at The Classic TV History Blog.

…I was going to ask you if you remembered watching “Memos From Purgatory” when it was first broadcast, but perhaps you don’t, since it wasn’t actually the first one.

It’s a moderately funny story about what happened the night it aired.  I was living in Beverly Glen, in this little treehouse. The television set that I had was a real small TV, with rabbit ears, and the antenna was up the side of the mountain behind the house.  I mean this house, literally and actually, sat half on a rock ledge and the other half sat in the crotch of a gigantic banyan tree. It was raining that night, it was raining terribly. And the antenna, which was up the hill – rabbit ears down in the house and an actual antenna up on the hill; I mean, there was no cable – well, the antenna fell over.  

I had invited all these people to come and see the show, and we couldn’t get any reception.  So a friend of mine volunteered to go up, and he put on my raincoat, and he stood up there in the pounding rain, a really torrential downpour.  He stood up there holding the fuckin’ antenna up. And I was kind of, you know, upset that he was up there, not to mention that there were cougars or mountain cats – really, there were catamounts or cougars or whatever the fuck they are – up there running loose, because it’s all watershed land.  And I was terrified that he was going to get eaten, or washed away, or drowned, or fall off the mountain, or something. So about midway through I went up and I took his place. And I came back drenched, soaking wet, I looked like a drowned rat, and everybody was raving about this thing, and I had only seen about half of it….

(7) DRAGON IT OUT. A new book says “George R.R. Martin flew to New York to ‘beg’ an HBO executive to make ‘Game of Thrones’ 10 seasons long, according to his agent” reports Yahoo!

HBO’s hit series “Game of Thrones” came to an end in 2019 with two shortened seasons, which brought the total to eight seasons and 73 episodes. But the story’s original creator, the author George R.R. Martin, pushed for up to 10 seasons and 100 total episodes, according to a new book.

New accounts of Martin’s wishes can be found in a book titled “Tinderbox: HBO’s Ruthless Pursuit of New Frontiers” by the journalist James Andrew Miller.

Miller, who conducted 757 interviews for the book, spoke with Martin, Martin’s agent, Paul Haas, and Richard Plepler, HBO’s former CEO.

“George would fly to New York to have lunch with Plepler, to beg him to do ten seasons of ten episodes because there was enough material for it and to tell him it would be a more satisfying and more entertaining experience,” Haas told Miller.

(8) IN XANADU. Henry Farrell points to the availability of the video of a panel he was on with Paul Krugman, Ada Palmer, Noah Smith, and Jo Walton. And he has a few more things he’d like to say in his post “The Future Finds Its Own Uses for Things” at Crooked Timber.

So this event on the relationship between social science and science fiction went live late last week. It has Paul Krugman, Ada Palmer, Jo Walton, Noah Smith and … me. I’ve been wanting to say something a little bit more about this relationship for a while. Here is one take, which surely misses out on a lot, but maybe captures some stuff too.

…The Hume quote captures a particular – and very common – way of thinking about the world. It suggests that beneath the vast procession of history, the extraordinary profusion of ways in which human beings organize their society, their politics and their economies, lies a hidden and coherent unity. He emphasizes “the constant principles of human nature” – other social scientists have other notions about what the underlying unity involves and entails. But from this perspective all the ways in which things are different across time and space are really illustrations of how they are really deeply the same. This is a powerful lens for understanding the world and perhaps changing it.

When Marco Polo counters Kublai Khan, he points towards quite the opposite phenomenon; how an apparent unity -an abstract of plane forces – can be opened up to disclose the quiddity of things. A chessboard is a plane divided into sixty-four squares – yet it is also something physical, made out of joined-together pieces of wood, each with its own history. The apparently all encompassing abstract unity conceals a world of variation. Unless you understand how the squares were formed – a year of drought; a frosty night; a caterpillar’s appetite; you cannot understand how the chessboard came to be as it is.

It is a little too simple to say that social science is on Hume’s side of the dialectic, while science fiction is on Marco Polo’s. What makes more sense, I think is that very good social scientists and very good science fiction writers each work the tensions between the two understandings of the world, more from the one side than the other….

(9) NAME YOUR PRICE. Filer Jane Sand’s novelette “Not Poppy Nor Mandragora” is in the newly released Fusion Fragment issue #9. The publishers invite readers to “download Fusion Fragment #9 for free or pay what you want!”

(10) CIRCUMNAVIGATING THE SPOILERS. I say, this Ars Technica article gives away the entire story, never mind spoilers! “David Tennant makes a dashing Phileas Fogg in Around the World in 80 Days preview”. It wasn’t easy to find an excerpt that didn’t blab some important part!

…Verne’s story, in turn, inspired the late 19th-century journalist Nellie Bly to make her own world tour, completing the trip in 72 days. She even met Verne in Amiens and wrote her own bestselling book about her adventures. Monty Python alum Michael Palin made the charming TV travelogue, Around the World in 80 Days with Michael Palin, in 1988, detailing his recreation of Fogg’s journey, without resorting to airplanes….

(11) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

2002 [Item by Cat Eldridge.] Nineteen years ago on NBC, It’s a Very Merry Muppet Christmas Movie first aired. It was the first film to be made for television by The Muppets franchise. It was directed by Kirk R. Thatcher (in his feature directorial debut though he earlier been hired by Nimoy to associate produce the Conspiracy ’87 Hugo-nominated Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home) and written by Tom Martin and Jim Lewis.

It starred the usual Muppet puppeteers (Steve Whitmire, Dave Goelz, Bill Barretta and Eric Jacobson) plus a number of human guests: David Arquette, Joan Cusack, Matthew Lillard, William H. Macy and Whoopi Goldberg. Executive producers Juliet Blake and Brian Henson, though the actual producers were Martin G. Baker and Warren Carr. 

This is also the final Muppets production from the Jim Henson Company, as The Muppets were in their final years of ownership by the Henson family before being sold to Disney in 2004.

Critics were generally very impressed by this film with such comments as the Canadian Movie News saying it “is a medley of familiar Christmas classics such as It’s a Wonderful LifeA Christmas Story and The Grinch, amongst others, with a distinct Muppet spin.” Interestingly audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes were less impressed giving a mediocre fifty-one percent rating. 

(12) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born November 29, 1898 C S Lewis. I first encountered him when reading The Screwtape Letters in University. I later read of course The Chronicles of Narnia which I found most excellent though I’ll admit that I’ve not read his Space Trilogy. (Died 1963.)
  • Born November 29, 1910 Kendell Foster Crossen. He was the creator and writer of the Green Lama stories.  The character was a Buddhist crime fighter whose powers were activated upon the recitation of the Tibetan chant om mani padme hum. He also wrote Manning Draco series, an intergalactic insurance investigator, four of which are can be found in Once Upon a Star: A Novel of the Future. The usual suspects has a really deep catalog of his genre work, and the Green Lama stories have been made into audio works as well. (Died 1981.)
  • Born November 29, 1918 Madeleine L’Engle. Writer whose genre work included the splendid YA sequence starting off with A Wrinkle in Time and its sequels: A Wind in the DoorA Swiftly Tilting PlanetMany Waters, and An Acceptable Time. One of her non-genre works that I recommend strongly is the Katherine Forrester Vigneras series. She has a World Fantasy Award for Life Achievement. (Died 2007.)
  • Born November 29, 1950 Peter Hooten, 71. He played the title character in the late Seveties Dr. Strange film, well before the present MCU film reality existed. His other genre appearances are all in definitely low-grade horror films such as OrcaHouse of Blood and Souleater. And one Italian film that had so many name changes that I’d accused it of name laundering, including 2020 Texas Gladiators
  • Born November 29, 1955 Howie Mandel, 66. He was the voice of Gizmo in Gremlins and Gremlins 2: The New Batch. His longest voice acting gig was on the Muppet Babies where he did a lot of different voices, and he voiced Sam-I-Am in In Search of Dr. Seuss which is not nearly as serious as it sounds.
  • Born November 29, 1969 Greg Rucka, 52. Comic book writer and novelist, known for his work on Action ComicsBatwoman and Detective Comics. If you’ve not read it, I recommend reading Gotham Central which he co-created with Ed Brubaker, and over at Marvel, the four-issue Ultimate Daredevil and Elektra which he wrote is quite excellent as well. I’ve read none of his novels, so will leave y’all to comment on those. He’s a character in the CSI comic book Dying in the Gutters miniseries as someone who accidentally killed a comics gossip columnist while attempting to kill Joe Quesada over his perceived role in the cancellation of Gotham Central.
  • Born November 29, 1976 Chadwick Boseman. Another death that damn near broke my heart. The Black Panther alias Challa in the Marvel metaverse. The same year that he was first this being, he was Thoth in Gods of Egypt. (If you’ve not heard of this, no one else did either as it bombed quite nicely at the box office.) He was Sergeant McNair on Persons Unknown which is at least genre adjacent I would say.  And he even appeared on Fringe in the “Subject 9” episode as Mark Little / Cameron James. (Died 2020.)

(13) IT’S NOT SURPRISING. “‘The Simpsons’ Tiananmen Square Episode Missing From Disney+ Hong Kong; Discovery Leads to Censorship Concerns” reports Deadline.

An episode of The Simpsons during which the family visits Tiananmen Square is missing from Disney+’s Hong Kong platform.

Episode 12 of season 16 was found today to be absent from the streamer’s catalogue in the nation, having launched in Hong Kong earlier this month.

The episode features the family going to China to try to adopt a baby. At one point, they visit Tiananmen Square, which was the site of a deadly crackdown in 1989 against democracy protestors. A satirical sign in the cartoon square reads “On this site, in 1989, nothing happened.”

At time of publication, it is not clear whether Disney+ removed the episode or was ordered to by the authorities and Disney has not responded to requests for comment.

The discovery will lead to further concerns over censorship in Hong Kong….

(14) D&D DIVERSITY. “‘A safe haven’: how Dungeons & Dragons is slaying social anxiety” – the Guardian runs the numbers.

… Since its inception in the mid-1970s, the tabletop role-playing game Dungeons & Dragons (D&D) has brought together a far more diverse array of players than its stereotypes suggest. Earlier this year, the game’s publisher, Wizards of the Coast, released a report showing that, of its estimated 50 million players, 54% were younger than 30 and 40% identified as female. What it didn’t reveal was the rise in visibility of queer and neurodiverse players.

…For people such as Shadia Hancock, the founder of advocacy group Autism Actually and Dungeon Master to a group of young neurodiverse players, the therapeutic potential of the game has always been clear.

“It’s about creating a sense of community,” Hancock says. “I work out the players’ expectations at the beginning of a game. Some get really into creating their characters, some are more interested in finding items and exploring the world, others are really interested in how the characters met. We all have a mutual love of gaming, but we all want something different from the session.”

Some characteristics expressed by some of Hancock’s players – social anxiety, increased empathy, difficulty adapting to change, feeling overwhelmed in noisy environments – have become familiar to many Australians in the wake of lockdowns. Studies cited by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare found reported levels of social anxiety increased over the past two years among all age groups, with young neurodiverse Australians even more likely to have experienced a decline in wellbeing.

“While other people are excited about going out, I’m filled with dread,” Hancock tells me. “With Covid, we [autistic communities] had all these sudden changes, often with short notice, and there was this need to constantly adapt to new rules. Not knowing what is coming up is really anxiety-inducing. During the pandemic, that became a shared experience.”

(15) NEXT TIME, TAKE THE TRAIN. John Holbo’s “The Ones Who Take the Train to Omelas” is adorned with a big Omelas-themed travel poster (which you can see at the link.)

*Confused? This page contains a parody of a famous story, “The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas”, by Ursula K. Le Guin. I’d point you to it, but there are no versions legally free on the web. Buy a book! Read Wikipedia. If you are somehow here about the BTS song – sorry, I don’t know about that. (But with half a billion hits, somebody probably does.)

I’ve written notes on my take on Le Guin. An essay! That’s here

Also, once I made the graphics I tossed ’em on Redbubble. Forgive me. It seemed funny.

“I incline to think that people from towns up and down the coast have been coming in to Omelas during the last days before the Festival on very fast little trains and double-decked trams.”

– Ursula K. Le Guin, “The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas”

(16) DS9 ON NFT. Voice actor Joshua Martin put together a parody video where Deep Space Nine’s “Quark and Odo discuss NFTs and Crypto Currency”. There’s also a Twitter thread that starts here.

(17) I SCREAM, YOU SCREAM. SlashFilm reveals “This Is What You’re Really Hearing When R2-D2 Screams In Star Wars”.

…One fateful moment of stress managed to help define a character through more than four decades and nine movies in the Skywalker saga — and counting.

(18) STAND BY TO ENTER HYPE-SPACE. Gizmodo’s Rob Bricken pans Disney World’s effort to sell people on its new theme hotel: “Star Wars Galactic Starcruiser Hotel Preview Looks Unimpressive”.

If you’ve been slavering for your chance to spend thousands upon thousands of dollars to head to Walt Disney World’s upcoming Star Wars Galactic Starcruiser experience, might I suggest you towel off your chin for the time being? Disney has released a video preview of some of what awaits families who come aboard the Halcyon, and it doesn’t look particularly enticing.

The first thing you should know about this video is that it stars Disney Parks Imagineer Ann Morrow Johnson and The Goldbergs’ sitcom actor Sean Giambrone. The two take a very short tour of the Starcruiser, but instead of them just talking like normal people about what people who come to the Halcyon can expect, it’s scripted and painfully unfunny. You’ve been warned. But this video also raises an important question, which is: Disney wants $6,000 for this?

[Thanks to Andrew Porter, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, Danny Sichel, Jayn, Bill, Joey Eschrich, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Joe H.]

Pixel Scroll 11/22/21 There’ll Be Time Enough To File When The Clicking’s Done

(1) WORLDCON PROGRAM. DisCon III has posted a basic outline of the times programming will take place – on their website here. They’ve also included specific times on significant events and for important DisCon III locations, such as Registration and the Exhibit Hall.

(2) OP-ED. Nicholas Whyte writes about the “2021 Worldcon Business Meeting agenda: my comments” at his LiveJournal, From the Heart of Europe. Here’s an excerpt:

A.3.2: Hugo Awards Study Committee – I was one of the original proposers of this committee. I am very disappointed with the results. The only concrete output that it has achieved in four years of existence is the addition of the words “or Comic” to the category title of “Best Graphic Story”. In the meantime other proposed changes have been killed off by referring them to this committee, which has then failed to consider them. I would not support the continuation of this committee’s mandate. I do not blame anyone, especially in the circumstances of the last two years, but I think we have proved that this is not a format that will deliver change.

On the other hand, if it is renewed, I would prefer to continue as a member, and I strongly urge (yet again!) that it takes the reform of the Best Artist categories as a priority. This was the main motivation for my proposing the committee in the first place. It is the single issue that has caused most headaches in my four years of Hugo administration. The Artist category definitions are very out of date, and present a risk to the future reputation of the awards because it would be very easy to make a public and embarrassing mistake. A bit more on this further down….

(3) C.J. CHERRYH HEALTH UPDATE. In a public Facebook post, C.J. Cherryh discusses the effects of her chemotherapy.

Coming to grips with chemo and change…

I’ve decided to go with the Gandalf look. I had reconciled myself to the Yul Brynner or Zhaan look, but I didn’t lose the hair with chemo. It just went snow-white and brittle. It’s not bad, now that I’m not trying to be Cher. I think I’ll let it grow and see if I can rock the look. I have a light hat I can wear when the wind’s blowing, so I don’t look like sfx surround me—it’s super light, and doesn’t stay put.

Complexion—well, that’s aged a whole lot. Dropping 40 sudden pounds will do that to you: I am developing…character. That’s my take on it. Always wondered where the lines would go. Not too bad.

Strength: that’s the big one. I don’t have much stamina for standing upright—or for walking very far…

She is getting a portable powered scooter and plans to attend cons as they continue to open up again.

(4) ROWLING DOXXED? “J.K. Rowling condemns activists for posting her address to Twitter” reports Yahoo!

…[On] on Friday, …activist-performers Holly Stars, Georgia Frost and Richard Energy held a protest ahead of Saturday’s Trans Day of Remembrance in front of Rowling’s Scotland home to protest what many see as the author’s anti-trans viewpoints. They held signs that read “Don’t Be a Cissy” and ‘Trans Liberation Now” and, while there, took a photo in front of Rowling’s house in which the address was visible, then posted it on Twitter.

Rowling’s thread starts here.

Rowling’s response included the Twitter URLs of the three who had tweeted the picture – they have since deleted their accounts.

Forbes has subsequent developments: “J.K. Rowling Slams ‘Activist Actors’ Who Doxxed Her During Trans Rights Protest”.

… According to Pink News, their demonstration outside Rowling’s home in Edinburgh, Scotland, was in support of the International Transgender Day of Remembrance, an annual event to memorialize the scores of trans and gender nonconforming people murdered every year.

The Post Millennial reported Stars, Frost and Energy stood by their tweeting of the photo, but Stars tweeted they made the decision to delete it after a backlash from Rowling supporters:

“Yesterday we posted a picture we took at JK Rowling’s house. While we stand by the photo, since posting it we have received an overwhelming amount of serious and threatening transphobic messages so have decided to take the photo down. Love to our trans siblings.”

(5) PLAYING MONOPOLY. Kristine Kathryn Rusch thinks about what-might-have-been if the DOJ had been on the job sooner: “Business Musings: The If-Only Lawsuit”.

The United States Justice Department is suing to stop the big merger of Penguin Random House and Simon & Schuster. That I can write about without a lot of research, because I’ve been following this merger for a long time….

All the promises in the world mean nothing when large companies merge.

I read the complaint for the suit the day the suit was announced. The complaint is worth reading because, if nothing else, it’s a what-if. What if the DOJ had been on this as the mergers started twenty years ago? What would the traditional publishing landscape look like now?

I can tell you: It would look completely different. Instead of the traditional part of the industry being dominated by five large conglomerates, the traditional part of the industry would look the same or better than it did in the early 1990s. There would be a lot of publishing houses, a lot of working editors, a lot of imprints, and a lot of competition….

(6) DC METRO NEWS. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] This article about the problems of the Washington Metro is important because it’s going to affect DisCon III attendees.  The short version: one of the 7000 series of Metrorail cars derailed on October 12 and Metro pulled these cars out of service.  They haven’t brought them back yet. So Discon attendees should factor in extra time when using the troubled Washington D.C. subway. “Metro extends limited rail service through December”.

Metro will operate with reduced rail service through the end of the year as it works to return its 7000-series rail cars to the tracks, the transit agency announced Monday.

The trains, the newest in Metro’s inventory, make up 60 percent of the transit agency’s fleet but have been sidelined since the October derailment of a Blue Line train near the Arlington Cemetery station….

[Manager Paul J. Wiedefeld] said a more likely scenario would be a gradual ramp-up of service as trains are cleared to resume carrying passengers. In all, Metro has 748 rail cars in the series. The transit agency is operating with about 45 trains using its older 2000-, 3000- and 6000-series rail cars.

Wiedefeld said rail ridership, which had been around 30 percent of pre-pandemic levels, has dipped to about 28 percent in recent weeks.

No one was injured in the Oct. 12 incident, but an initial investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board found defects in the trains’ wheelsets that could make them more prone to derailment. 

(7) OKORAFOR IN THE NEWS. In the Chicago Tribune, an article (which you may find blocked by a paywall) refers to fantasy writer Nnedi Okorafor in reporting on Black residents who have moved out of the Chicago area. “Black residents leaving Chicago with few regrets”. Here are the paragraphs about her:

Award-winning fantasy writer Nnedi Okorafor said she moved from the south suburbs to Phoenix earlier this year, drawn there by its year-round warmth. The author of 19 books, Okorafor said her resolve to stay in the Southwest grew after her daughter, Anyaugo, was accepted at Arizona State University.

“Each time I’ve gone (to Arizona), I’ve gradually fallen in love with the area because I love heat and the desert,” she told the Tribune. “Once (my daughter) got into ASU, it all just lined up and made sense.”

(8) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

1996 — Twenty-five years ago, Star Trek: First Contact premiered. It was the eighth film of the Trek films, and the second of the Next Gen films following Star Trek Generations. It was directed by Jonathan Frakes from the screenplay by Brannon Braga and Ronald D. Moore. The story was written by Rick Berman, Brannon Braga and Ronald D. Moore.  It of course starred the Nex Gen cast plus guest stars Alfre Woodard, James Cromwell and Alice Krige, the latter as the Borg Queen. 

First Contact received generally positive reviews upon release. The Independent said “For the first time, a Star Trek movie actually looks like something more ambitious than an extended TV show.”  And the Los Angeles Times exclaimed, “First Contact does everything you’d want a Star Trek film to do, and it does it with cheerfulness and style.” It did very well at the box office making one hundred fifty million against a budget of fifty million. Audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes currently give it a most excellent rating of ninety percent. 

It was nominated for a Hugo at LoneStarCon 2, the year that Babylon 5’s “Severed Dreams” won. 

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born November 22, 1932 Robert Vaughn. His best-known genre work was as Napoleon Solo in The Man from U.N.C.L.E. with other genre work being in Teenage Caveman, Starship InvasionsThe Lucifer ComplexVirusHangar 18Battle Beyond the StarsSuperman III C.H.U.D. II: Bud the C.H.U.D. (seriously who penned that awful title?), Transylvania Twist and Witch Academy. Oh, and he wrote the introduction to The Man from U.N.C.L.E. series companion that came out a generation after the series aired. (Died 2016.)
  • Born November 22, 1940 Terry Gilliam, 81. He’s directed many films of which the vast majority are firmly genre. I think I’ve seen most of them though I though I’ve not seen The Man Who Killed Don QuixoteTidelandThe Zero Theorem or The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus. I’ve seen everything else.  Yes, I skipped past his start as the animator for Monty Python’s Flying Circus which grew out of his work for the children’s series Do Not Adjust Your Set which had the staff of Eric Idle, Terry Jones, and Michael Palin. Though he largely was the animator in the series and the films, he did occasionally take acting roles according to his autobiography, particularly roles no one else wanted such those requiring extensive makeup.  He’s also co-directed a number of scenes. Awards? Of course. Twelve Monkeys is the most decorated followed by Brazil with two and Time Bandits and The Fisher King which each have but one.  He’s not won any Hugos though he has been nominated for four — Monty Python and the Holy GrailTime BanditsBrazil and Twelve Monkeys. My favorite films by him? Oh, the one I’ve watched the most is The Adventures of Baron Munchausen followed by Time Bandits.
  • Born November 22, 1943 William Kotzwinkle, 78. Fata Morgana might be in my opinion his best novel though Doctor Rat which he won the World Fantasy Award for is in the running for that honor as well. And his short stories of which there are many are quite excellent too.  Did you know Kotzwinkle wrote the novelization of the screenplay for E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial? The usual digital suspects are well stocked with his books.
  • Born November 22, 1949 John Grant. He’d make the Birthday list solely for being involved in the stellar Encyclopedia of Fantasy which won a Hugo at BucConeer.  And he did win another well-deserved Hugo at Noreascon 4 for Best Related Work for The Chesley Awards for Science Fiction and Fantasy Art: A Retrospective.  Most of His short fiction has been set in the Lone Wolf universe though I see that he did a Judge Dredd novel too. (Died 2020.)
  • Born November 22, 1957 Kim Yale. Married to John Ostrander until 1993 when she died of breast cancer, she was a writer whose first work was in the New America series, a spin-off of Truman’s Scout series. With Truman, she developed the Barbara Gordon Oracle character, created the Manhunter series, worked on Suicide Squad, and was an editor at D.C. where she oversaw such licenses as Star Trek: The Next Generation. For First Comics, she co-wrote much of the amazing Grimjack with her husband.
  • Born November 22, 1958 Jamie Lee Curtis, 63. Can we agree that she was the best Scream Queen for her film debut in the 1978 Halloween film in which she played the role of Laurie Strode? No? Well, that’s my claim. She followed up with yet more horror films, The Fog and Prom Night. In all, she’s the only character that survives.  She would reprise the role of Laurie in six sequels, including Halloween H20Halloween: ResurrectionHalloween II and Halloween III: Season of the WitchHalloween (a direct sequel to the first Halloween) and Halloween Kills.  She shows up in one of my fav SF films, The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension as Sandra Banzai but you’ll need to see the director’s extended version as she’s only there in that version. Is True Lies genre? Probably not, but for her performance, Curtis won the Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy and the Saturn Award for Best Actress. Damn impressive I’d say.  No, I’m not listing all her films here as OGH would likely start growling. Suffice to say she’s had a very impressive career. 
  • Born November 22, 1979 Leeanna Walsman, 42. Spoiler alert. She’s best known as the assassin Zam Wesell from Attack of The Clones.  Being Australian, she’s shown up on Farscape, a Hercules series (but not that series), the BeastMaster and Thunderstone series, and Spellbinder: Land of the Dragon Lord
  • Born November 22, 1984 Scarlett Johansson, 37. Best known perhaps for her role as the Black Widow in the MCU films including the present Black Widow film but she has other genre appearances including playing Motoko Kusanagi in Ghost in the Shell which was controversial for whitewashing the cast, particularly her character who was supposed to be Japanese. 

(10) REUBEN WINNER. In the Washington Post, Michael Cavna has a profile of Ray Billingsley, creator of “Curtis,” who is the first Black winner of the Reuben Award, given by the National Cartoonists Society for best cartoonist of the year. “Cartoonist Ray Billingsley has been portraying Black family life for decades — and now he’s getting his due”.

Ray Billingsley didn’t much like his second-floor Harlem home on Bradhurst Avenue back then. It was affordable — this being the mid-’80s — but he felt isolated, and he knew crime was a threat: “One evening while in bed with the window open, I actually heard three guys planning on burglarizing my apartment.”Yet this setting was also where, later that night after going to bed, Billingsley drew inspiration. He awoke with a creative burst. “I had a vision of these two kids. I sketched them down in the dark and went back to sleep. That morning, I found the first images of Curtis and Barry.”

There they were, two cartoon brothers — the taller one wearing Curtis’s signature ball cap, the shorter one in suspenders. With minimal line work, he had rendered his future….

(11) TAKE A BOW (WOW). “League of Super-Pets: John Krasinski Teases Role as Superman” at Comicbook.com.

…When DC’s League of Super-Pets comes to theaters next year, fans will get an odd pairing as Superman and Lex Luthor: facing off against Marc Maron’s scheming Luthor will be a Man of Steel voiced by The Office star John Krasinski. Sharing a still from the upcoming, animated movie, Krasinski revealed not only that he is Superman, but what his Superman will look like. The costume owes a debt to the one from the Max Fleischer cartoons of the 1940s — a look that recently popped back up again in flashbacks of Tyler Hoechlin’s character on Superman & Lois.

While the Super-Pets getting their own feature film may seem strange, the movie has an absolutely stacked cast providing the voices for its characters. Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson is starring in the film as Krypto the Superdog, the canine pal of one Superman. Kevin Hart, Johnson’s friend and frequent collaborator, will be voicing Batman’s four-legged friend, Ace the Bat-Hound….

(12) FAMOUS LIGHTSABERS AND WANDS. Julien’s Auctions “Icons And Idols: Hollywood” auction starts December 2. “I am almost grateful that I don’t have unlimited funds,” says John King Tarpinian, who sent links to such items as this lightsaber.

Collectors Hype ran a feature about some items on their “Original Movie Prop and Costume Blog”:

From the Harry Potter franchise: David Thewlis’ wand in his role as Professor Remus Lupin from the 2004 installment Harry Potter & The Prisoner of Azkaban ($5,000-$7,000), a wand used by Death Eater “Alecto Carrow” in the 2011 film Harry Potter & The Deathly Hallows and Rupert Grint’s hero wand in his role as “Ron Weasley” from the same film as well as signed stamp sheets by the cast members, Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, and Rupert Grint, call sheets and Hogwarts acceptance letter;

Julien’s is also hawking “Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck voice artist Mel Blanc’s personal memorabilia” according to the Daily Mail.

Also included in the collection is a signed animation cel from 1958 featuring five of Blanc’s famous characters, Porky Pig, Tweety Bird, Bugs Bunny, Sylvester the Cat, and Daffy Duck. 

The cel is inscribed in black fountain pen ink on the background page, which reads, ‘For Pat/ with love from/ ‘Uncle’ Mel Blanc/ 4/8/58.’

(13) FIRST BLACK VOICES MATTER ACQUISITION. Angry Robot Books has officially announced their first signing through the Black Voices Matter unagented submissions.

Denise Crittendon

Denise Crittendon is a former editor of NAACP’s The Crisis, and her debut Where it Rains in Colour infuses romance, mystery and the mythology of the Dogon tribe of Mali, West Africa in a magical mythological retelling. Significantly inspired by her time in Zimbabwe, Crittendon questions and plays with universal beauty standards, and challenges the structure and system in which they live. Where it Rains in Colour will be published in December 2022.

Launched as an open submissions program for sff novels by Black authors in the wake of the Black Lives Matter protests last year, this window was originally meant to run from July to September 2020, but Angry Robot Books has since announced it would be extended indefinitely. For more details, click through here.

(14) ZERO GRAVITY NEWS. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In the Washington Post, Christian Davenport talks about how he experienced weightlessness for only $7,500 on a Zero-G flight from Dulles Airport, as he talks about adapting to weightlessness and how these flights give a lot of encouragement to disabled people who get to stand for the first time in years. “You don’t have to go to space to experience weightlessness”.

… I did the flips, flew arms wide like Superman, did the Spider-Man crawl along the ceiling, all in an airplane with a couple dozen others as part of a flight organized by Zero Gravity Corp. (Zero-G) that flew out of Dulles Airport in Northern Virginia earlier this month.

For years, the company has been able to create an experience for customers that mimics the weightless experience of going to space by flying in parabolic arcs. The plane flies up on a pitched ascent, and then crests over like a roller coaster into a steep dive that allows passengers to float for about 30 seconds at a time.

In a hollowed-out cabin of a 727 jet, with padding all around, your body rises involuntarily, and you float, effortlessly, as if you were a molecule in a state of matter that suddenly went from a solid to freewheeling gas, pinging around with abandon….

(15) ACRONYMS IN SPACE. “The Search for Life Around Alpha Centauri Just Took a Major Leap Forward”Gizmodo tells how.

Our nearest neighbor, Alpha Centauri, is 4.37 light-years from Earth, which is super close from a cosmological perspective but achingly far from a human point of view. A new telescope promises to bring this intriguing star system, and any habitable planets it holds, into closer view.

The new mission, called TOLIMAN, was announced today in a press release. TOLIMAN is the ancient Arabic name for Alpha Centauri—the closest star system to Earth—but it’s also an acronym for Telescope for Orbit Locus Interferometric Monitoring of our Astronomical Neighbourhood. Once in space, astronomers will use the orbital observatory to search for potentially habitable exoplanets around Alpha Centauri.

The international collaboration includes teams from the University of Sydney, Breakthrough Initiatives, Saber Astronautics, and NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Peter Tuthill from the Sydney Institute for Astronomy at the University of Sydney will lead the project.

(16) PUSHBACK. NPR tells how“NASA’s DART spacecraft will smash into asteroid to test planetary defense tool”.

…In the first real-world test of a technique that could someday be used to protect Earth from a threatening space rock, a spacecraft is scheduled to blast off from Vandenberg Space Force Base in California on Tuesday at 10:20 p.m. PST.

The golf-cart-size spacecraft will travel to an asteroid that’s more than 6 million miles away — and poses no danger to Earth — and ram into it. Scientists will then watch to see how the asteroid’s trajectory changes.

NASA has identified and tracked almost all of the nearby asteroids of a size that would cause world-altering damage if they ever struck Earth. For the foreseeable future, none that big are headed our way. But there are plenty of smaller asteroids, the size that could take out a city, that still haven’t been found and tracked.

It’s a space rock of that smaller size that the DART mission — short for Double Asteroid Redirection Test — will take head-on…

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

Pixel Scroll 11/9/21 She Walks These Files In A Long, Black Scroll

(1) THE INSIDE STORY. Slashfilm boasts an exclusive preview: “The History Of Science Fiction Traces The Genre In Comic Book Form”.

“The History of Science Fiction,” a forthcoming illustrated book written by author/historian Xavier Dollo (“Under the Shadow of the Stars”) with illustrations by Djibril Morissette-Phan (“All-New Wolverine”), aims to be a comprehensive look at the origins of the now-beloved genre, and we have a few preview pages to exclusively debut for you. Here’s a glimpse at what you’ll see in the new book when it hits stores later this month.

… Here’s the eleventh page of the book, which touches on the massive influence Arthur C. Clarke had on the genre – and subsequently, the real world.

Got to love that exchange – did you know as a young fan Arthur C. Clarke’s nickname was “Ego”?

(2) A STROKE OF (DRAGON) GENIUS. [Item by Soon Lee.] Painting dragons in one stroke? Impossible you say? Okay, how about painting the body of a dragon in one stroke?

Ippitsu Ryu or Hitofude Ryu is the Japanese technique of painting dragons in one-stroke. It’s mesmerizing to watch. And the paintings are supposed to bring good luck too. “The Traditional Japanese Art ‘Hitofude-Ryu’” at Cool Japan Videos.

(3) SCOTIABANK GILLER PRIZE. Omar El Akkad has won the 2021 Scotiabank Giller Prize for his non-genre novel What Strange Paradise. The win is noted here because El Akkad’s first novel was sff, American War.

He’ll receive $100,000 for the win. Four other shortlisted writers will receive $10,000, including Angélique Lalonde, whose story collection Glorious Frazzled Beings is of genre interest.

(4) SLF RECEIVES GRANT. The Speculative Literature Foundation has received a grant from the Illinois Arts Council Agency. SLF’s press release explained:

IACA General Operating Support Grants are offered to established not-for-profit organizations that make a significant local, regional, or statewide impact on the quality of life in Illinois. Grants recognize arts programming of high quality that is appropriate to and reflective of the communities served and that broaden opportunities for the public to participate in the arts. The $2,500 grant will allow the SLF to revitalize and expand to meet the needs of the speculative literature field in 2022.

The main objective of the SLF is to continue to grow newly established programs while maintaining our previous resources. We launched the Portolan Project in 2020, an online educational resource for writers that offers free, accessible content for people all over the world. Its first iteration includes interviews with authors at various points in their careers, discussing the art and business of craft as well as making connections within the speculative literature community

(5) THEY BROKE IT. SFF author Nick Mamatas also has “An Appreciation of Genre-Breaking Mysteries” which he shares at CrimeReads. There’s even a Philip K. Dick novel lurking on his list.

… Crime fiction is far more capacious than people who don’t read the genre give it credit for. The field of play is so wide that it is difficult to transcend the genre, but it is possible to break it. A relative handful of exciting books are mysteries, are entirely in sync with the protocols of the genre and, and then at some point all of it falls away and the book is something else. Of course, the book doesn’t become something other than a mystery or crime novel—the third act of any book exists before the reader gets to it—it is that the writer broke the tropes of mystery, and created something that feels very familiar until a page turns and then it isn’t.  Here are just a few examples….

(6) A VIEW OF SF IN CHINA. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In the November 6 Financial Times behind a paywall, Madhamita Murgia has an interview with Chen Qiufan.

Chen, who has worked in the marketing teams of Chinese search giant Baidu and Google, says the Chinese government has started promoting science fiction as a tool to popularise science and technology among youth, an idea borrowed from the former Soviet Union.

‘In recent years, China is undergoing a transition; we used to be a country with a lot of low-cost labour, old-fashioned manufacturing, but (now) the government is trying to catch up on chips and AI and material science and quantum computing,’ Chen says.  Science fiction has become a way to ‘educate the younger generation and ignite their passion’ for these fields.

(7) GRANDMASTER’S LATEST BOOK. Just named as the 2021 SFWA Grandmaster, Mercedes Lackey has a new fantasy novel out – Briarheart – “a fresh feminist retelling of Sleeping Beauty about one girl destined for greatness—and the powerful sister ready to protect her by any means necessary.”

Miriam may be the daughter of Queen Alethia of Tirendell, but she’s not a princess. She’s the child of Alethia and her previous husband, the King’s Champion, who died fighting for the king, and she has no ambitions to rule. When her new baby sister Aurora, heir to the throne, is born, she’s ecstatic. She adores the baby, who seems perfect in every way. But on the day of Aurora’s christening, an uninvited Dark Fae arrives, prepared to curse her, and Miriam discovers she possesses impossible power.

Soon, Miriam is charged with being trained in both magic and combat to act as chief protector to her sister. But shadowy threats are moving closer and closer to their kingdom, and Miriam’s dark power may not be enough to save everyone she loves, let alone herself.

Available on Kindle from Amazon.com or Amazon.ca.

(8) DEAN STOCKWELL OBIT. Actor Dean Stockwell, whose over 200 career credits include a couple dozen sff roles, died November 7 at the age of 85 reports Variety.

He was Quantum Leap’s, Admiral ‘Al’ Calavicci, the “womanizing, larger than life character [who] was the foil for Scott Bakula’s role as Dr. Sam Beckett, a physicist who engaged in space time experiments.” The show debuted in 1989 and ran five seasons. Stockwell’s performance earned four Primetime Emmy nominations and a Golden Globe win (1990).

Dean Stockwell started as a child actor, in films including the Rudyard Kipling adaptation Kim (1950). As an adult he had a dual role in a 1961 episode of Twilight Zone, “A Quality of Mercy,” in which he “starred an American officer ordered to lead a charge against the Japanese but is then transported back in time and transformed into a Japanese officer in an analogous situation, ultimately gaining a perspective he hadn’t had before.”

He starred in the Roger Corman-produced Lovecraftian horror film The Dunwich Horror (and also appeared in the 2009 TV remake). In David Lynch’s Dune (1984) he played the treacherous Dr. Yueh. In the new Battlestar Galactica (2006-09) he was the Cylon known as Number One or John Cavil.

He was an Oscar nominee for a non-genre supporting role in the 1988 comedy Married to the Mob. Stockwell was honored with a star on Hollywood’s Walk of Fame in 1992.

(9) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

1966 — Fifty-five years ago, Dr. Goldfoot And The Girl Bombs premiered. It was considered a sequel for reasons I can’t figure out to two unrelated films, Dr. Goldfoot and the Bikini Machine and Two Mafiosi Against Goldginger. It was actually paid for and produced with both Italian and American backing so it also has the charming name of Le spie vengono dal semifreddo, lit (The spies who came in from the cool).  It is getting a write-up here because it starred Vincent Price in the dual roles of Dr. Goldfoot and General Willis. And he’s oh-so-genre. 

The production itself was somewhat difficult as the filming had to satisfy both the American and Italian backers, so scenes had to shot in both countries, and it was required they emphasize brunettes in the Italian version of the film and blondes in the American version. Price had but a minor role In the Italian version, but was the star in the American version. He later said that the film was “the most dreadful movie I’ve ever been in. Just about everything that could go wrong, did.” 

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born November 9, 1924 Larry T. Shaw. A Hugo Award-winning fan, author, editor and literary agent. In the Forties and Fifties, Larry Shaw edited Nebula, Infinity Science Fiction and Science Fiction Adventures. He received a Special Committee Award during the 1984 Worldcon for lifetime achievement as an editor. His award at L.A. Con II cited him as “One of the early unsung editors in the field”. (Died 1985.)
  • Born November 9, 1938 Carol Carr. Fan and writer of note. Her participation in the so-called secret APA Lilapa and articles in the InnuendoLighthouse and Trap Door fanzines is notable. She wrote a handful of genre fiction, collected in Carol Carr: The Collected Writings. Mike has an obit here (Died 2021.)
  • Born November 9, 1947 Robert David Hall, 74. Best known as coroner Dr. Albert Robbins M.D. on CSI, but he has quite as few genre credits. He voiced Dinky Little in the animated Here Come the Littles, both the film and the series, the cyborg Recruiting Sargent in Starship Troopers,  voice of Colonel Sharp in the G.I. Joe series, Abraham in The Gene Generation, a biopunk film, and numerous voice roles in myriad DCU animated series. He was the voice of Colonel Sharp in the G.I. Joe series, Abraham in The Gene Generation, a biopunk film, and numerous voice roles in myriad DCU animated series. Interesting note: in Starship Troopers he has no right arm, but in real life he lost both of his legs at age thirty-one when they had to be amputated as a result of an accident in which an 18-wheeler truck crushed his car.  
  • Born November 9, 1954 Rob Hansen, 67. British fan, active since the Seventies who has edited and co-edited numerous fanzines including his debut production Epsilon. He was the 1984 Trans-Atlantic Fan Fund delegate. His nonfiction works such as Then: Science Fiction Fandom in the UK: 1930-1980, last updated just a few years ago, are invaluable. 
  • Born November 9, 1971 Jamie Bishop. The son of Michael Bishop, he was among those killed in the Virginia Tech shooting. He did the cover illustrations for a number of genre undertakings including Subterranean Online, Winter 2008 and Aberrant Dreams, #9 Autumn 2006. The annual “Jamie Bishop Memorial Award for an Essay Not in English” was established as a memorial by the International Association for the Fantastic in the Arts. (Died 2007.)
  • Born November 9, 1974 Ian Hallard, 47. He lives with his husband, the actor and screenwriter Mark Gatiss, in London. He appeared as Alan-a-Dale in Twelfth Doctor story, “Robot of Sherwood”, and in Sherlock as Mr Crayhill in “The Reichenbach Fall”.  He played Richard Martin, one of the original directors of Doctor Who in An Adventure in Space and Time. Genre adjacent, he co-wrote “The Big Four” with his husband for Agatha Christie: Poirot
  • Born November 9, 1988 Tahereh Mafi, 33. Iranian-American whose Furthermore is a YA novel about a pale girl living in a world of both color and magic of which she has neither; I highly recommend it. Whichwood is a companion novel to this work. She also has a young adult dystopian thriller series. 
  • Born November 9, 1989 Alix E Harrow, 32. May I note that her short story with one of the coolest titles ever, “Witch’s Guide to Escape: A Practical Compendium of Portal Fantasies”, won a Hugo at Dublin 2019. Well I will. And of course her latest novel, The Once and Future Witches, has a equally cool title. It won the BFA Robert Holdstock Award for Best Fantasy Novel. 

(11) COMICS SECTION.

  • Lio knows one product this particular home owner definitely doesn’t want.

(12) HISTORY OF BEANO. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In the Financial Times behind a paywall, Arwa Haider discusses an exhibit at Somerset House in London on The Beano, a comic book which has been published weekly in Britain since 1938.

The Beano was never pitched as explicitly political, though exceptions were made during the second world war, when strips would feature fascists being outwitted by kid characters including Pansy Potter, the Strongman’s Daughter. Pansy, introduced in issue 21, also heralded The Beano‘s strong and increasingly diverse tradition of female rebels, any of whom are now likely to be cover stars:  Minnie the Minx, created by Leo Baxendale in 1951 and currently drawn by the comic’s first regular female artist, Laura Howell, and relative newcomers such as sporty JJ, tech whizz and wheelchair user Rubi, and prank supremo Harsha Chandra.

As the exhibition highlights, The Beano has always made subversive digs at social inequalities.  The characters ‘ traditional reward of a ‘slap-up feed’ reflected the postwar scarcity of food (sweets were rationed in Britain until 1953).  Nowadays, the Bash Street Kids’ rival group is Posh Street (which includes one snorting, mop-haired character called Boris) and Dennis’s longtime adversary, Walter, is no longer a ‘softie’ but the bullish son of Beanotown’s rich mayor.  The ‘good guys’ are everyday kids rather than superheroes.

(13) GOING GREEN. [Item by Daniel Dern.] In addition to being available as a physical book to buy (or request/borrow from one’s public library), N.K.Jemisin’s 12-issue Far Sector Green Lantern series is e-available (e-vailable?), in particular, on Hoopla (includes a dozen or so pages at the end of variant covers, art sketches, etc.) [See James Bacon’s interview of N.K. Jemisin about her work on the comic, posted today.]

Hoopla is free — you just need to have a library card from a library that offers Hoopla as (one of its) digital services. (If your library doesn’t, you may be able to also get a card at one that does.)

Far Sector is also nearly-all available via DC’s streaming subscription service (1-11 are up now, so #12 hopefully Real Soon Now.)

Note, Jemisin’s Sojourner “Jo” Mullein also appears in DC’s new Green Lantern series, also including Teen Lantern Keli Quintela (first seen in Brian Bendis’ Young Justice run over the past year or so.

(14) BLAME JULIE SCHWARTZ? “DC Comics Used To Add Gorillas To Their Covers To Increase Sales”. We’re not kidding  – ScreenRant has the details.

… If there was an editor who became prolific for gimmicks, it was Julius Schwartz, and the gimmick of Strange Adventures #8 from May 1951 would prove to be one of the most successful and often used gimmicks in comic history. Strange Adventures (which was rebooted for DC’s Black Label in 2020) was originally edited by Schwartz, and the eighth issue featured a cover by Win Mortimer for the story “Evolution Plus: The Incredible Story of an Ape with a Human Brain!” which featured an ape in a cage holding a note claiming to be the victim of a “terrible scientific experiment.” This issue quickly became one of the highest selling issues of Strange Adventures to date….

(15) EARWORMS AND OTHERS. “Re-Ragging in Red: Murder Ballads and Dirty Cops” is Candas Jane Dorsey’s exploration of song lyrics at CrimeReads.

…[This] happened when a folklorist friend asked online what our favorite murder ballads were, and I realized that I knew SO MANY MURDER BALLADS REALLY SO MANY!

…But for some reason “King Brady” infested, earworm-style, for a whole week. One day when I should have been writing, I upped-fluffy-tail and dived down the Internet rabbit hole—and am still chasing phantasms down little twisty corridors.

*

I started with the lyrics. Everyone who has researched song lyrics online knows that they are full of errors. People write them down as they imperfectly heard them, then other people cut and paste, and suddenly the “canon” version of a ballad has a great big malapropism right in the middle of it, creating a cascading generation error that upsets purists and detail freaks, but also means that all over the world, people are singing the wrong lyrics to a lot of folk songs. Which is pretty hard to do when the prevailing wisdom of folklorists is that there are no wrong lyrics, there are just variations, but thanks to the magic of the Internet, it’s now possible.

But never mind that now. We’re at “Brady, Brady, Brady don’t you know you done wrong…”, which is how I learned the song, almost 60 years ago when I was a kid….

(16) RINGS MORE THAN A BELL. [Item by Rob Thornton.] I found a Black Metal band named VORGA and that name sounded very familiar, of course. So I looked at the track list and found a song named “Stars My Destination.” It’s from their album Striving Toward Oblivion which will be released in January.

(17) TWO CHAIRS TALKING. In the latest episode of their Two Chairs Talking podcast, David Grigg and Perry Middlemiss discuss a number of recent award winners and take the Hugo Time Machine zooming back to the year of 1967, the year Heinlein’s The Moon is a Harsh Mistress won the Best Novel Award.

(18) SOLD! In case you want to know, Screen Rant says “Captain Kirk’s Phaser Rifle Used In One Episode Sells For $615k” through Heritage Auctions.

The Phaser Rifle was used in the second pilot episode, entitled “Where No Man Has Gone Before,” which effectively launched the show as fans know it. And, because the episode was the first to replace Christopher Pike with James T. Kirk, the prop accompanied Shatner as he made his Star Trek debut.

(19) DON’T WANT TO RUN INTO ONE OF THOSE. “Rolls-Royce Gets Funding To Develop Mini Nuclear Reactors”Slashdot has the story.

Rolls-Royce has been backed by a consortium of private investors and the UK government to develop small nuclear reactors to generate cleaner energy. The creation of the Rolls-Royce Small Modular Reactor (SMR) business was announced following a [195 million pound] cash injection from private firms and a [210 million pound] grant from the government. It is hoped the new company could create up to 40,000 jobs by 2050. However, critics say the focus should be on renewable power, not new nuclear.

(20) BUILD YOUR OWN. Probably don’t want to collide with one of these, either. Not even the LEGO Star Wars AT-AT Model — it has 6,785 pieces!

…Extensive is certainly the best way to describe this set, as this intricate replica is made up of 6,785 pieces, falling about 800 bricks short of LEGO’s similarly complex Millennium Falcon. Nevertheless, that is an exhausting amount, all of which come together to construct a painstakingly detailed display that fans will inherently admire. As expected, the four-legged tank from the films boasts authenticity in every which way, featuring rotating cannons, a pair of speeder bikes, and a strikingly large interior that’s capable of housing up to 40 other LEGO minifigures you want to take along for the ride….

Damn, for a moment I thought they were going for a “few bricks shy of a load” reference.

(21) VIDEO OF THE DAY. In “Honest Trailers: Hackers” on YouTube, the Screen Junkies take on this 1995 film which was Angelina Jolie’s first.  The film shows such antique skills as getting calls from a pay phone for free. And half the characters are so clueless about computers that when someone mentions “an uncorrupted hard drive” they’re told, “speak In English.”  But being a hacker means you rollerblade everywhere and get to scream “hack the planet!” when you’re hacking!

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

Pixel Scroll 11/5/21 If You Wish To Scroll, Turn To Page 18. If You Wish To Pixel, Turn To Page 45

(1) IMAGINARY WORLD INSIDE A GAME. [Item by Soon Lee.]  Ursula Vernon’s been playing Townscaper, an open-ended game/thingy where you build towns on water, and has taken to it so much that, well, would you just look at this gorgeous fan comic that’s come out of Ursula’s wonderful creativity? Thread starts here.

(2) LOCAL STAR. Transforming Edmonton’s series “The Writers’ Block” begins with “Chapter 1: Scientist and rising Edmonton author Premee Mohamed explores dichotomies”.

…Edmonton is a frequent backdrop in Mohamed’s science fiction, which often deals with calamities—whether caused by ancient monsters or climate disasters. 

 “I don’t think it’s realistic to write anything set in the future on Earth and NOT mention climate change,” says the Clareview resident.

Mohamed used to take classes in “BioSci”—she’s a scientist with degrees in molecular genetics and environmental science. She currently works for the Alberta government, devising guidelines for the clean-up of industrial activities such as factories, oil and gas wells, gravel pits and fertilizer plants. 

Science was an early passion for Mohamed. While many four-year-olds are obsessed with cars or dolls, she was fascinated with microbes—tiny organisms that you can’t see without a microscope, let alone dress up or play with in a sandbox…. 

(3) DIAGRAM PRIZE SHORTLIST. The Guardian calls “Is Superman Circumcised? favourite to win Oddest book title of the year”.

An examination of the Jewish origins of the Man of Steel, Is Superman Circumcised?, is vying with an up-to-date look at camel milk and related camel goods, Handbook of Research on Health and Environmental Benefits of Camel Products, for the dubious honour of the oddest book title of the year….

These six books are in the running for the 43rd Diagram Prize, nominated by members of the book trade:

  • Curves for the Mathematically Curious
  • Handbook of Research on Health and Environmental Benefits of Camel Products
  • Hats: A Very Unnatural History
  • Is Superman Circumcised?
  • The Life Cycle of Russian Things: From Fish Guts to Fabergé
  • Miss, I Don’t Give a Shit: Engaging with Challenging Behaviour in Schools

(4) ETERNALS. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In the November 2 Financial Times behind a paywall, Danny Leigh interviews Kumail Nanjiani about his role in Eternals.

Nanjiani begins at a pitch of red-carpet enthusiasm.  ‘Honestly,’ he says, ‘it’s easy to talk about the movie because I’m so excited.  I genuinely, genuinely love it.’  He says he is a life-long fan of comic books and Marvel films  His character, Kimgo, is a Bollywood leading man who is also an immortal superhero.  An action figure is available.  At home in Los Angeles, Nanjiani says, he has shelves already filled with models of Batman, Hellboy, and more  His own tiny likeness now stands among them.. ‘They minimised my eyebrows to be sensitive to my feelings, but I’m like, ‘No!  Use more black paint!’…

…’What helped’ him make Eternals ‘was a lifetime watching superheroes.’  But other influences are in play, too.  We meet Kingo in the vivid middle of a Bollywood dance number.  Growing up in Karachi, Nanjiani saw as much Bollywood as Hollywood.  Getting the details and spirit right in Eternals mattered to him.  ‘American audiences might see a Bollywood movie as ironic.  But it’s hyper sincere. That’s the beauty of it.’

Then, in the Washington Post, Ann Hornaday interviews director Chloe Zhao about Eternals and the continuity Zhao sees between her Marvel project and Nomadland. “Chloe Zhao’s ‘Eternals’ is a Marvel movie made her own way”.

… Zhao’s fans will surely recognize some of her signatures in “Eternals,” including a hat-tip to South Dakota, where she filmed her first two films, as well as portions of “Nomadland.” (The state is played by England in “Eternals,” with the help of some subtle visual effects.) Zhao insisted on practical locations when at all possible, giving “Eternals” a more organic, natural feel than most Marvel movies. When she pitched Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige on her concept for the film, she referred to the poem “Auguries of Innocence,” by William Blake.

“?‘To see a World in a Grain of Sand/And Heaven in a Wild Flower/Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand/and Eternity in an hour.’ .?.?. I think of that with ‘Nomadland’ quite a bit,” Zhao said. “And that’s Fern’s journey, in a way — going into nature and a community to be part of something bigger, and therefore heal from that process. With ‘Eternals’ it’s very much a bigger call to that — to humanity, in a way, understanding our place in the universe, our relationship with our planet, and therefore with ourselves. These are the bigger themes Jack Kirby had explored in his comics, and we were fortunate enough to [explore] in this film.”…

The New York Times gives the film a positive review: “‘Eternals’ Review: When Super Franchises Walk the Earth!”

Throughout “Eternals,” the latest — though certainly not the last! — from Marvel Studios, you can see the director Chloé Zhao fighting to cut this industrial-strength spectacle down to human size. Her efforts are mostly evident in the sincerity of the performances, and in the heartfelt moments that punctuate the movie, creating pinpricks of warming light. But it’s a titanic struggle. And as Zhao keeps lubricating the machinery with feeling and tears, her efforts seem to mirror the battle that her likable superheroes are waging against a force seeking to thoroughly control their destinies….

(5) STRANGER THINGS POP UPS. New York and Los Angeles will be the sites of two temporary pop-ups, the Stranger Things: The Official Store. They open tomorrow, for a limited time. It’s a 30-minute experience. Reservations available at the link.

…Embark on an interactive journey filled with photo moments and fun easter eggs, as you explore Hawkins and settings like Joyce’s House, Palace Arcade and Starcourt Mall. You will be able to interact with friends and foes from Hawkins. Get up close to the Russian Guards, hang out with Scoops Ahoy employees, and much more!

(6) LOST BUT NOT FORGOTTEN. Angela Cartwright and Bill Mumy (Penny and Will Robinson from the original Lost in Space) have issued a revised version of their book about the show: “Lost (and Found) in Space 2: Blast Off into the Expanded Edition”.  

And Heritage Auctions Hollywood & Entertainment Signature® Auction now in progress includes some of the costumes. Amid all this activity, another cast member gave an interview to Fox: “’Lost in Space’ star Marta Kristen recalls moment she heard ‘60s series was ending: ‘No one really knew why’”.

Fox News: How did you cope when the show ended?
Kristen: Oh, I remember that moment vividly. I was at my house and I received a phone call. I learned it was canceled. I was speechless. No one really knew why. Later on, we found out that it was possibly Irwin’s battle with CBS at the time. He wasn’t giving the scripts that CBS demanded. And they wanted six of them, apparently, or something like that.

I think everyone has a different version of the story. But at that time, Irwin just had so many projects. And I guess he just thought it wasn’t worth the fight. So it was canceled. And it was unusual because we were doing very well in the ratings. We had a very large fan base even then. But it was an expensive show.

(7) CAMILE SAVIOLA OBIT. Actress Camille Saviola, who had over 40 film and TV roles and is remembered by fans for a short run on Deep Space Nine, died October 28 at the age of 71. The full New York Times obituary is here.

…She endeared herself to a different group of fans when she was cast in “Deep Space Nine” as Kai Opaka, a spiritual leader on the planet Bajor. Though she appeared in only four episodes, from 1993 to 1996, Ms. Saviola was well known to followers of the franchise, many of whom posted about her death on social media.

In a 1995 interview with a “Deep Space Nine” fan magazine that is quoted on the website Memory Alpha, Ms. Saviola talked about how she got the part.

“I went in — every character actress was there — and did a little reading, the real thing,” she said, referring not to a script reading but to a tarot card reading. “My grandmother read cards and tea leaves down in Greenwich Village — she never charged people money — and I have a little bit of that gift.”

(8) BOB BAKER 1939-2021. Bob Baker, who co-wrote several Third and Fourth Doctor Who serials with his writing partner Dave Martin, has died reports Gizmodo. Bob Baker was also known for being a co-writer of the Wallace and Gromit films The Wrong TrousersA Close Shave and Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit and A Matter of Loaf and Death. 

…But perhaps most famous of all is “The Invisible Enemy,” which introduced the robot dog K-9. Originally intended to be a one-off appearance, K-9 was instead entrusted to the Fourth Doctor at the end of the story and became a regular companion alongside Leela and Romana. After exiting the show four years later, Baker’s legacy in K-9 would continue with K-9 and Company, a planned spinoff with Sladen that didn’t make it past the original pilot, and of course, K-9’s brief return to Doctor Who’s post-2005 era with the episode “School Reunion.” The character also had regular appearances in Sladen’s children-focused BBC spinoff The Sarah Jane Adventures, until her passing in 2011…. 

(9) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

1993 – Twenty-eight years ago, Robocop 3 premiered. It was the first in the franchise in which Peter Weller did not play the lead role but instead Robert Burke assumed that role. It was directed by Fred Dekker, the third director in the franchise.  The screenplay was written by him and Frank Miller from a story by the latter. Its primary cast was Robert Burke, Nancy Allen, Rip Torn, Jill Hennessy, Remy Ryan and Mako. So what did critics think of it? Well they didn’t like it. Roger Ebert said, “Why do they persist in making these retreads?” And the absence of Peter Weller in the title role really, really annoyed most of the critics. (I didn’t think the change in performers was that noticeable with that costume.) Box office wise it barely broke even doing forty-seven million dollars on a budget of twenty-two million. Audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes really don’t like it currently giving a pathetic fifteen percent rating after Robocop 2 scored a thirty-six percent rating and the original had a most excellent eighty-four percent rating. Ouch. Needless to say there was not a Robocop 4.

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born November 5, 1903 H. Warner Munn. Writer and Poet known in genre for his early stories in Weird Tales in the 20s and 30s, his Atlantean/Arthurian fantasy saga, and his later stories about The Werewolf Clan. After making two mistakes in his first published genre story, he compensated by becoming a meticulous researcher and intricate plotter. His work became popular again in the 70s after Donald Wollheim and Lin Carter sought him out to write sequels to the first novel in his Merlin’s Godson series, which had been serialized in Weird Tales in 1939, and they published those novels as part of their Ballantine and Del Rey adult fantasy lines. The third novel in the series received World Fantasy and Mythopoeic Award nominations, he himself was nominated three times for the World Fantasy Award for Life Achievement, and he was Guest of Honor at the 1978 World Fantasy Convention. He won the Balrog Award for Poet twice in the 80s, and received the Clark Ashton Smith Award for Poetry. (Died 1981.)
  • Born November 5, 1938 James Steranko, 83. Artist, Illustrator, Writer, Publisher, and Magician who is noted for his work in the comic book and graphic novel industry. His breakthough was the Nick Fury, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. feature in Marvel Comics’ Strange Tales, and the subsequent series, in the 60s. His design sensibility would become widespread within and without the comics industry, affecting even Raiders of the Lost Ark and Bram Stoker’s Dracula, for which he created conceptual art and character designs. He also produced several dozen covers and illustrations for genre novels and anthologies in the 60s and 70s. His two-volume history of the birth and early years of comic books established him as a historian of the field. He received and Inkpot Award and Dragon Con’s Julie Award, and was inducted into the Will Eisner Comic Book Hall of Fame in 2006.
  • Born November 5, 1940 Butch Honeck, 81. Sculptor and Fan who learned mechanics, welding, machining, and metal finishing as a teenager, then went on to build a foundry and teach himself to cast bronze so he could create shapes that were too complex for welding. His bronze fantasy sculptures, which depict dragons, mythical creatures, wizards, and other fantasy-oriented themes, use the lost wax method with ceramic shell molds and are characterized by intricate details, mechanical components, humor, and surprise. He has been Artist Guest of Honor at several conventions, was named to Archon’s Hall of Fame, and won a Chesley Award for Best Three-Dimensional Art.
  • Born November 5, 1942 Frank Gasperik. The inspiration for characters in several novels including Lucifer’s Hammer as Mark Czescu, and into Footfall as Harry Reddington aka Hairy Red,  and in Fallen Angels, all by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle. He was a close friend of both and assisted Pournelle on his Byte column. To my knowledge, he has but two writing credits which are he co-wrote a story, “Janesfort War”, with Leslie Fish that was published in Pournelle’s War World collection, CoDominium: Revolt on War World, and “To Win the Peace” co-written with Leslie Fish which was published in John F. Carr’s War World: Takeover. He was a filk singer including here doing “The Green Hills of Earth”. (Died 2007.)
  • Born November 5, 1944 Carole Nelson Douglas. Although she has two inarguably genre series In the Delilah Street, Paranormal Investigator and the Sword and Circlet novels, I’m here to pitch to you her Social Justice Warrior credential series instead (and dissenters can now go elsewhere) in the form of her Midnight Louie series.  Each novel is told in part from the point of view of Midnight Louie, the cat himself in a style some say is like that of a Damon Runyon character. Great characters, lovely premise. (Died 2021.)
  • Born November 5, 1960 Tilda Swinton, 61. Her take as Rosetta/Ruby/Marinne/Olive in Teknolust might be the most weird genre role she’s done but I think her take as The White Witch in The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe is her best role to date. Mind you her Gabriel in Constantine was just frelling strange…
  • Born November 5, 1968 Sam Rockwell, 53. First in our area of interest, he’s the Head Thug in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. I’ve got him next being Francis Flute in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, not a role I knew. And Guy Fleegman on Galaxy Quest which of course won a Hugo at Chicon 2000. And lastly he was Zaphod Beeblebroxin The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. I’ve not seen it yet. Worth seeing? The radio series is so damn good.
  • Born November 5, 1971 Rana Dasgupta, 50. British Indian novelist and essayist. Tokyo Cancelled is definitely genre and is most excellent. He’s written a lot on Dehli including “Capital: A Portrait of Twenty-First Century Delhi” which reads like science fiction.

(11) NEXT BIG THING. League of Comic Geeks previews a bestselling author’s work on The Thing #1.

Renowned storyteller Walter Mosley brings his signature style to a sweeping saga of Yancy Street’s favorite son that will range from the urban sprawl of the back alleys of Manhattan to the farthest reaches of the cosmos itself! A lonely evening and a chance encounter (or is it?) sends Ben Grimm embarking on a sojourn that will have him encountering—and battling—figures both old and new. Featuring guest appearances from figures drawn from throughout the Marvel Universe as well as precision artwork by Tom Reilly…

(12) THE CHILLS ARE ALIVE. Buffy the Vampire Slayer’s musical episode “Once More, With Feeling,” a 2002 Hugo nominee, is remembered fondly by the participants in an LA Times roundtable, “’Buffy’s’ musical episode keeps slaying”.

Ashley Lee: I can’t believe it’s been 20 years since this episode first aired! I must confess that, in those 20 years, I had never seen it, or any other episode of “Buffy.” Watching it for the first time the other day — the series is available to stream on Hulu and Amazon Prime Video — I was floored. This episode f— slaps. I am low-key pissed that I wasn’t allowed to watch this show as a kid because this would have radicalized me. What was it like for a devout “Buffy” fan to see this back then?

Jevon Phillips: Fans knew that Whedon had wanted to do a musical episode for a while. We knew Anthony Stewart Head, who plays Giles, and James Marsters, who plays Spike, could sing. We had heard glowing reviews of Amber Benson’s voice, so Tara was set too. But what about the rest of the cast?

Dawn Burkes: It really was a capital-E Event for “Buffy” fans. And it came during a time when people were still reeling from the show changing networks and well-loved characters changing too. “Where Do We Go From Here,” indeed. (And now I’m singing the entire soundtrack, of which I own a hard copy.)

Tracy Brown: It’s not hyperbole to say that I’ve probably seen “Once More, With Feeling” more times than any single episode — a tally mostly racked up when DVD boxed sets were the only way to revisit your favorite TV. This was before “Glee” or “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend,” so the only real frame of reference for “musical episode” I had at the time was, like, “Xena: Warrior Princess.” (“Bitter Suite” remains a favorite.) And itwent on to be shown in theaters for fan-driven, interactive sing-along events, at least for a while….

(13) DICTIONARY DEFINITION. In case you didn’t already know the meaning of this word, Lise Andreasen explains it in a tweet:

(14) USE THE CARD, LUKE. CNET’s Bridget Carey previews the Disney World LARP/”indoor cruise” Galactic Starcruiser, opening in March 2022, and “only” costing $6,000 for a family of four. Disney, says Carey, “puts the hype in hyperspace.”

(15) GOLDEN ARCHES AND A GREEN ALIEN. This place has been around a long time – but it’s news to me. “The World’s Only UFO-Themed McDonald’s is In Roswell”NewMexi.co has the story.

…The space-themed McDonald’s in Roswell was built in the 90’s. The design makes it look like a shiny metal saucer during the day and glow like a red and yellow spaceship in the dark. Dominated by a massive indoor galactic Play Place and fascinating works of art, the Roswell McDonald’s is the only space-themed McDonald’s in the world….

(16) ANTICIPATION. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] A week or two ago File 770 provided news of a preprint of Martian research from the latest lander.

File 770 is clearly ahead of the game as only now, this week, has the research been formally published in Science where it made the front cover.

(17) BRICK BY BRICK. A new Lego commercial has lots of genre callbacks: “Rebuild the world! Anything is possible with LEGO® sets”.

LEGO® sets take kids to a creative world where no rules apply. A fire-fighting dragon; a car on a carousel; clothes on a cactus; giant bees chasing Star Wars™ Stormtroopers… Anything is possible in the vast and diverse LEGO universe. And, because kids can continuously build, rebuild, reconfigure and combine, the developmental play never stops!

(18) TIME PASSAGES. Another commercial’s extrapolation from today to the Christmases of the future is also a trip from cliché to absurdity. “Lidl GB I Big on a Christmas you can ALWAYS believe in”.

If you’re watching this in 2021, or 2041, then you’ll know that we’re always be BIG on a Christmas you can believe in, to help keep your favourite festive traditions going on and on (and on!)

[Thanks to JJ, John King Tarpinian, Andrew Porter, Olav Rokne, Lise Andreasen, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, and Martin Morse Wooster for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Paul Weimer.]

Pixel Scroll 10/15/21 I Know What Pixel You Scrolled Last Summer

(1) ORAL HISTORY OF SMALLVILLE. “‘We Had Freedom to Change the Mythology:’ An Oral History of ‘Smallville’” in The Hollywood Reporter.

Here, the key players look back, with those sharing memories including Welling and the creators, as well as Michael Rosenbaum, Kristin Kreuk, John Schneider, Annette O’Toole, John Glover and Erica Durance.

GOUGH There weren’t any comics on [Clark Kent’s teen years]. It was a blank slate. Jenette Kahn, who was the publisher of DC Comics at the time, said, “Clark is who he is because of his parents. If he had landed in a different cornfield and been raised by different people, he would have been a different person.” That was something that really struck us.

MILLAR We had the freedom to change the mythology, to really make it our own, with Lex losing his hair in the meteor shower — even the meteor shower itself, which was a new development. Anyone approaching that similar story today would not be allowed the freedom that we had, because at that point no one cared….

ROSENBAUM  [Lex Luthor] The casting director is like, “Sit here,” and I go, “Naw, Lex wouldn’t do that.” And she’s like, “Well I have to relight,” and I go, “Would you mind?” And she relit the room and I had to wait outside. I came back in and kind of just took over the room. I go, “What are 700 other guys doing wrong that you are auditioning?” And they said, “Well, we want a sense of charisma, we want a sense of danger, we want a sense of comedic timing.” I only had three pages to work with. I circled, “I’ll be dangerous here, I’ll be funny here, I’ll be charming here.”

GOUGH Lex was the last role we cast. It was a week before we started shooting. Miles was in Vancouver with David Nutter and I was still in Los Angeles with some of the other producers. Michael came in in Los Angeles. We videotaped it and he was just fantastic. He literally hit all the right notes and he was perfect. I remember we somehow got it up to Miles and David in Vancouver.

ROSENBAUM My agent called. “They want to screen test you.” I said, “I’ll never have an audition as good as I just had. Tell them to rewind the tape.” So he goes, “You’re going to lose this role. You know that.” I don’t recommend this to any other actor, and I would never do it again, but I said, “Rewind the tape.”

WELLING “Lex Luthor does not come back for a second audition, OK?”

ROSENBAUM Exactly. He just wouldn’t do it. It’s out of character….

(2) WATCH THE AURORA AWARDS CEREMONY. The winners of the Aurora Awards will be revealed on Saturday, October 16 at 7:00 p.m. Eastern (4:00 p.m. Pacific.) Can*Con will be present awards in a virtual ceremony accessible via their YouTube channel here.

(3) INDIGENOUS FUTURISTS. On October 5 Apex Magazine released its Indigenous Futurists issue, a bonus issue featuring the work of Indigenous genre creators. The issue, guest-edited by Allison Mills, features the work of Pamela Rentz, Kevin Wabaunsee, Tiffany Morris, Sloane Leong, Rebecca Roanhorse, Norris Black, and Theodore Van Alst, Jr. Cover art by Megan Feheley. Read it at the link.

(4) THREE HEARTS. The Poul Anderson Facebook page posted a photo from the Anderson family motorcycle trip in Europe in the Fifties. See it at the link.

We’re going through an album of photos that Poul made in the late 1940s and into the late 1950s, and we’ll be sharing some images from it. For starters, here’s a picture of Poul’s brother, John Anderson, his mother, Astrid Anderson, and Poul, with the motorcycle and sidecar they toured Europe with in 1953. This was taken somewhere in Holland.

(5) NZ FIRE OFFICIAL WIZARD. [Item by Tom Whitmore.] I don’t recall seeing anything about this character around CoNZealand — how did we miss that the country had an official wizard? And doesn’t firing the wizard usually result in bad things for the kingdom? The Guardian reports “New Zealand council ends contract with wizard after two decades of service”.

… The Wizard is a well-known face to Christchurch residents, but in recent years, his presence has diminished, and sightings have become rare. He says that is because the council has made him invisible and would not respond to his suggestions to improve tourism.

“But when they cancelled this honorarium, everyone got furious, they have awakened a hornet’s nest here, it’s hilarious. The next few months are going to be real fun.”

The Wizard said he would keep up his regular appearances at Christchurch’s Arts Centre, chatting to tourists and locals. The centre is hosting an exhibition of his life this month, which is supported by the council.

When asked if he would curse the council over its decision, he said he preferred to give blessings.

“I give children happy dreams, general good health, and I want to make bureaucrats become more human.”

(6) AFRICAN LITERARY PRIZE SHORTLIST. South African author Mandisi Nkomo’s Should have Listened to Mother, a work of genre interest, is one of six shortlisted for the Toyin Falola Prize 2021.

The Toyin Fálolá Prize is an award from Nigerian-based Lunaris aimed at honouring distinguished African scholar and foremost historian, Prof Toyin Fálolá, whose contributions to the field of African history and culture have continued to place Africa on the map and accord it its deserved recognition. The prize honours his endeavours and contributions to the advancement of African cultures, peoples, myths, and histories. The first winner of the award set up in 2020 was Fayssal Bensalah.

The award organizers announced the 11-story longlist from the 495 eligible submissions, 11 stories on September 20.

(7) JUST ARRIVED.  [Item by Daniel Dern.] As seen in the updates from Bud Plant. I haven’t looked at this, I plan to see about getting it through my library. It’s a 2021 Locus Award winner.  The Art Of Nasa: The Illustrations That Sold the Missions.

By Piers Bizony. Art by Robert McCall, Ron Miller, Robert Watts, Paul Calle, David Hardy et al. From space suits to capsules, from landing modules to the Space Shuttle, the International Space Station, and more recent concepts for space planes, 60 years of American space exploration in an unprecedented fashion. All the landmark early missions are represented in detail — Gemini, Mercury, Apollo — as are post-Space Race accomplishments, like the mission to Mars and other deep-space explorations….

From space suits to capsules, from landing modules to the Space Shuttle, the International Space Station, and more recent concepts for space planes, 60 years of American space exploration in an unprecedented fashion. All the landmark early missions are represented in detail — Gemini, Mercury, Apollo — as are post-Space Race accomplishments, like the mission to Mars and other deep-space explorations.

Ultra-rare artworks illustrate a unique history of NASA hardware and missions from 1958 to today, giving readers an unprecedented look at how spacecraft, equipment, and missions evolved — and how they might have evolved. Formed in 1958, NASA has long maintained a department of visual artists to depict the concepts and technologies created in humankind’s quest to explore the final frontier. Culled from a carefully chosen reserve of approximately 3,000 files deep in the NASA archives, the 200 artworks presented in this large-format edition provide a glimpse of NASA history like no other.

(8) CONTRARY TO WHAT SCOTTY SAYS. James Davis Nicoll touts “Five Stories in Which Changing the Laws of Physics Leads to Bigger Problems” at Tor.com.

The laws of physics are forever confounding perfectly reasonable schemes. Whether riding gracefully on the running board of a racing car, adroitly handling semi-molten glass, or gliding lightly down from a roof to the embrace of the sidewalk whilst borne up by what intuition said was a sufficiently large bath towel, the laws of physics are forever barging in to insist that, no, things do not work that way.

What if the laws of physics were altered? …

One of James’ examples is —

A Wizard’s Henchman by Matthew Hughes (2016)

Troubleshooter Erm Kaslo specializes in solving the problems of the rich and powerful. There are enough of those, spread across the Spray’s ten thousand worlds, to keep Kaslo busy and affluent. All he asks of his clients is that they pay his fees promptly. If their demands are immoral or insane? No problem.

One of his rich clients believes that the world is about to transition from an era of technology and enlightenment to one of magic and chaos. Kaslo is willing to do as the client asks, even while he believes that the client is nuts. It’s a surprise when the client turns out to be right.

But a change in the basis of power, from technology and commerce to dark magical arts, means that there will still be powerful folks with problems. Problems Kaslo is happy to handle. The universe may have been upended, but Kaslo will prevail.

(9) SABLE REVIEW. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In the Financial Times behind a paywall, Tom Faber reviews Sable, a new video game featuring nomads on a desert planet, which Faber says “Is drawn in a thrillingly unique style.”

‘Drawn’ is really the word. Playing Sable is like living in a graphic novel by Jean ‘Moebius’ Giraud, the influential artist who pioneered a surrealistic sci-fi style.  From the opening vista we see scrap metal villages and wind-sculpted mesas drawn in fine black lines, their flat textures and minimal shading drawing attention to a stunning pastel colour palette–one of the most artful I’ve ever seen in a game–of tawny desert, powder-blue sky and distant mountains a muted lilac…

…The fable-like qualities of the narrative are lent depth and fragrance by Meg Jayanth, the writer behind the superb interactive novel 80 Days.  Language here bears the plain-spoken profiundity of myth.  A machinist asking you to repair a malfunctioning wind tower says, ‘Go there, mend what is broken or sooth what is hurt, and I will give you what you seek…a direction.’  This abstraction is undercut by precise character writing, particularly in Sable herself, who is far from a blank slate — she is anxious, spunky, and completely relatable.  Conversations with other nomads offer spare but evocative fragments to explain the history of the world, allowing players to fill in the gaps themselves.

(10) A SCARY PROFESSION. CrimeReads’ Celia Mattison looks at horror films about books: “Publishing Is a Nightmare: 31 Horror Films about Writing, Reading, and the Book Business”.

The business of writing and reading pops up all the time in horror films. Maybe it’s that screenwriters understand better than anyone the terror of creation. Maybe it’s that long, late hours spent alone in an office juxtaposes nicely on screen against glamorous events hosted by the literati. Or perhaps we’ve all just had a traumatic childhood experience in a library. Either way, here are 31 films guaranteed to give you an October that’s equal parts eerie and erudite….

(11) TAPPING INTO MEMORY. Strange Horizons presents an interview with Chandler Davis by Gautam Bhatia, “Across fracture lines”.

…Science fiction is not a monolith: even as racism, colonialism, and sexism played a dominant role in SF-production through the long 20th century, there were always writers and texts that questions, challenged, and subverted that dominant paradigm. The contrapuntal canon, or the hidden transcript, as it were.

At Strange Horizons, we see ourselves as committed to a plural and diverse vision of SFF, and therefore, as a continuation of this older – and sometimes submerged – tradition of against-the-grain writing. To know – and understand – more about our forebears, for this Fund Drive Special Issue, we decided to interview Chandler “Chan” Davis, one of the most outstanding exponents of the contrapuntal canon, at a time at which the dominant, regressive tendencies of science fiction were at their apogee: the 1940s and the 1950s.

…CD: One striking example of my writing responding to the preoccupations of the time is my responding to the threat of nuclear weapons. All of us in the science-fiction gang who learned of the Manhattan Project only in August 1945 felt at least a momentary joy of vindication: we had been saying this might happen, the general population didn’t know, and lo! we were in the right. But most of us soon realized, “Hey! this is a calamity, an atrocity” (and to think it was done in the name of the American people). Some of the authors sounded the alarm. I cite especially [Theodore] Sturgeon’s “Memorial”, my “The Nightmare”, and Sturgeon’s “Thunder and Roses”, but there were several others. We put it before our audience a rather large and international audience– that if your country is the target of nuclear attack, then it is up to you not to strike back but to do everything to RESTRAIN your country from striking back. We were right, but our message didn’t stick, in the USA or anywhere….

(12) AAHZ MARUCH (1967-2021). [Item by James Davis Nicoll.] Python programmer, whose fannish activities date back at least as far as classic USENET (alt.poly and other groups), died October 14 following several years of ill health. Survived by partner Steph Maruch.

Editor’s postscript: Alan Prince Winston earlier this year described him as “an unstoppable-seeming guy” who “became a contra and square dance caller and choreographer despite really severe hearing impairment.”

(13) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

  • 1954 – Sixty-seven years ago this day, the first Flash Gordon television series as distributed by the DuMont Television Network premiered in syndication.  Its cast was Steve Holland as Flash Gordon, Irene Champlin as Dale Arden and Joseph Nash as Hans Zarkov. It immediately ran into criticism from some reviewers and fans as, well, how dare they cast a Flash Gordon who wasn’t Buster Crabbe. However it was very popular with almost everyone else and continued to run in syndication into the Sixties despite running for only one season of thirty-nine episodes. Only fourteen episodes survive and are all in the public domain, so here’s the pilot.

(14) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born October 15, 1911 James H. Schmitz. Writer of short fiction in a space opera setting, sold primarily to Galaxy Science Fiction and Astounding Science-Fiction. His “Lion Loose” was nominated for a Short Fiction Hugo at Chicon III, and The Witches of Karres was nominated for Best Novel at NyCon 3. Sources laud him for his intelligent female characters. His collections and novels are available at the usual suspects. (Died 1981.)
  • Born October 15, 1919 E.C. Tubb. A writer of at least one hundred forty novels and two hundred twenty short stories and novellas, he’s best remembered I think for the Dumarest Saga. His other long-running series was the Cap Kennedy stories. And his short story “Little Girl Lost” which was originally published in New Worlds magazine became a story on Night Gallery. He novelized a number of the Space: 1999 episodes. Somewhat surprisingly he’s never been nominated for or won any awards. (Died 2010.)
  • Born October 15, 1924 Mark Lenard. Sarek, father of Spock in the Trek franchise, showing up in that role in “Journey to Babel”.  (The role got reprised in the animated series, as well as three films and two episodes of The Next Generation.) Surprisingly he also played a Klingon in Star Trek: The Motion Picture, and a Romulan in an earlier episode of Star Trek. He also had one-offs on Mission ImpossibleWild Wild West, Otherworld, The Secret EmpireThe Increible Hulk, and Buck Rogers in the 25th Century. He had a recurring role on the Planet of The Apes as Urko. (Died 1996.)
  • Born October 15, 1923 Italo Calvino. Writer and Journalist who was born in Cuba, but grew up in Italy. His works range widely across the literary spectrum, across realism, surrealism, and absurdism. As a genre writer he is best known for his “cosmicomics”, linked stories which explore fantastical speculations about subjects such as mathematics, evolution, and human perception. At the time of his death in 1985, he was the most-translated Italian author, and he was recognized with a World Fantasy Award for Life Achievement. (Died 1985.)
  • Born October 15, 1926 Ed McBain. Huh, I never knew he ventured beyond his mystery novels but he published approximately twenty-four genre stories and six SF novels between 1951 and 1971 under the names S. A. Lombino, Evan Hunter, Richard Marsten, D. A. Addams, and Ted Taine. ISFDB has a list and I can’t say I know any of them. Any of y’all read them? (Died 2005.)
  • Born October 15, 1953 Walter Jon Williams, 68. The last thing I read by him was his most excellent Dagmar Shaw series which I highly recommend, but Fleet Elements is in my TBR list.  I also like his Metropolitan novels, be they SF or fantasy, as well as his Hardwired series. I’m surprised how few awards that he’s won, just three with two being Nebulas, both for shorter works, “Daddy’s World” and “The Green Leopard Plaque”, plus a Sidewise Award for “Foreign Devils”.  Damn it, where is his Hugo? 
  • Born October 15, 1955 Tanya Roberts. Stacey Sutton in the fourteenth Bond film, A View to Kill. Quite the opposite of her role as Kiri in The Beastmaster. And let’s not forget her in the title role of Sheena: Queen of the Jungle. (Died 2021.)
  • Born October 15, 1969 Dominic West, 52. Jigsaw in that most dreadful Punisher film, Punisher: War Zone. His first SFF role was as Lysander in A Midsummer Night’s Dream which is the same year he shows up as Jerus Jannick in The Phantom Menace, and he was Sab Than on the rather excellent John Carter. One of his recent latest SFF roles was as Lord Richard Croft in the Tomb Raider reboot.

(15) COMICS SECTION.

(16) MOVIE MEMORABILIA. Heritage Auction’s Hollywood & Entertainment Memorabilia Auction runs November 4-7. Some of the monster-themed items are on this page. The publicity poster is arresting, to say the least.

(17) MANIFESTATIONS. The Paris Review on what life might be like as a ghost: “All You Have to Do Is Die” by Rowan Hisayo Buchanan.

…I’ve never seen a soul move through the air. I am not sure that we are anything more than a skin-bag of electrical impulses. But ghosts are different from the other uncanny citizens. They are only one step away from the known. To become a ghost, you don’t have to be bitten by a vampire or receive a curse or encounter a mad scientist or fall under the spell of a full moon. All you have to do is die.

Still, I imagine the first days of ghosthood would be tricky. There are so many different hauntings, so many ways to do it. In a way, it reminds me of puberty. The unpredictable shifts….

(18) SIGN OF THE TIMES. “Portland removes ‘Merge Simpson’ sign from NW Portland freeway ramp” says The Oregonian.

Many Portlanders just thought it was neat, but city officials didn’t feel the same way about a “Merge Simpson” sign that appeared in Northwest Portland earlier this week. Transportation workers took the “Simpsons”-inspired sign down Thursday afternoon, citing driving safety concerns.

An anonymous artist put up a homemade sign near an on-ramp to Interstate 405 North. The artist covered up a pedestrian crosswalk sign with a sign reading “Merge Simpson,” and drew a portrait of TV cartoon mom Marge Simpson. The artist painted her face strategically below a tall, round column of foliage in place of her iconic beehive hairstyle….

(19) COOL STAR WARS PAINTINGS. For your viewing pleasure, Naci Caba’s Star Wars Paintings at the link.

The artist also does other genre subjects  (click “Paintings” on the sidebar).

(20) HOW SAFE WAS IT TO SQUASH SHATNER? CNN answers the question “How space researchers knew that 90-year-old William Shatner didn’t have to worry about his age”.

…A series of studies in the 2010s sought to answer such question. Researchers put people with pre-existing medical conditions, including elderly men with heart conditions, into a spinning centrifuge to simulate the g-forces the body is subjected to during a trip to space.

Subjects were strapped into a small capsule attached to a massive metal arm that can swing the capsule around in a circle. That faster it spins, the higher the g-forces pressing into the passenger grow, much like the carnival rides that pin passengers to the wall of a spinning circle by rotating the circle at high speeds. When the centrifuge is stopped, passengers inside could be said to be experiencing 1G, or normal gravity on Earth.

At 2G, they feel like they weigh twice their body weight. At 5G, a 200-pound person feels like they weigh 1,000 pounds.

Donoviel pointed to three specific studies that saw people — with a broad range of ages, physical conditions and ailments — endure up to 6G.

“They were fine, they were perfectly fine,” Donoviel said. “The only thing… that was of concern when they did those studies was really anxiety and definitely claustrophobia.”

… For its part, Blue Origin does put some limitations on who can fly aboard New Shepard, its suborbital space tourism rocket, including an age requirement that tourists be 18 years or older, be between 5’0″ and 6’4″ and 110 pounds and 223 pounds, and be in good enough physical shape to climb seven flights of stairs in a minute and a half.

The stair climb is no joke: Blue Origin passengers must rapidly climb what’s called the gantry, a tower that allows the crew to access their capsule as the 60-foot-tall rocket sits on the launch pad, brimming with fuel and ready to blast off.

Shatner quipped about scaling the tower after his flight, saying “good lord, just getting up the bloody gantry.”

(21) COSMIC HOME DELIVERY. “Meteorite Crashes Through Ceiling and Lands on Woman’s Bed” – the New York Times has the story.

Ruth Hamilton was fast asleep in her home in British Columbia when she awoke to the sound of her dog barking, followed by “an explosion.” She jumped up and turned on the light, only to see a hole in the ceiling. Her clock said 11:35 p.m.

At first, Ms. Hamilton, 66, thought that a tree had fallen on her house. But, no, all the trees were there. She called 911 and, while on the phone with an operator, noticed a large charcoal gray object between her two floral pillows.

“Oh, my gosh,” she recalled telling the operator, “there’s a rock in my bed.”

A meteorite, she later learned.

The 2.8-pound rock the size of a large man’s fist had barely missed Ms. Hamilton’s head, leaving “drywall debris all over my face,” she said. Her close encounter on the night of Oct. 3 left her rattled, but it captivated the internet and handed scientists an unusual chance to study a space rock that had crashed to Earth….

(22) VIDEO OF THE DAY. “Bohemian Catsody” a parody song of the Queen classic, “Bohemian Rhapsody,” this time, all about SJW credentials!

[Thanks to JJ, John King Tarpinian, Andrew Porter, Michael Toman, Olav Rokne, Lise Andresen, Annalee Newitz, James Davis Nicoll, Bill, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, and Martin Morse Wooster for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Cora Buhlert.]

Hallmark Rolls Out 2021 Ornaments

Right after the Fourth of July might not be when I shop for Christmas ornaments, but somebody does, because that’s when Hallmark runs its Keepsake Ornament Premiere.

If the timing is for the convenience of retailers, there is also a certain logic in picking a spot on the calendar that is as far away as you can get from a date associated with Christmas trees. It’s plain some of these ornaments are intended for a Halloween or Thanksgiving tree, while others probably are destined never to decorate a tree at all but to remain pristine in their original wrapping on collectors’ shelves.

Although this first one has nothing to do with the Christmas season other than that’s when four of the Harry Potter movies came out, if you believe there’s an omniscient Santa Claus who knows when you’ve been bad or good, then this might work for you, too:

“There’s nothing hidden in your head the Sorting Hat can’t see…” Relive the Sorting Ceremony, one of the most eagerly anticipated traditions for first-year students at the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. This Christmas tree ornament features the famous Hogwarts Sorting Hat, which moves and says lines about each house: Gryffindor, Slytherin, Ravenclaw and Hufflepuff (battery-operated).

And Hallmark also caters to a sort of counter-Christmas clientele with these next two items.

Be sure to give Old Man Parker’s “major award” a glorious spot on the tree this year! With its lampshade fringe and fishnet stockings, this premium porcelain Christmas tree ornament will have you reminiscing about the hit holiday movie “A Christmas Story” all season long. Year dated 2021.

Or to be even more frank about it:

Spread the spirit of Halloween Town to even the smallest of Christmas trees with this miniature ornament. The stylized design features Sally holding one of her potion ingredient jars. For a spooktacular display, pair it with our coordinating Lil’ Jack and Lil’ Oogie Boogie mini ornaments (each sold separately).

Then, if you call yours a Halloween or Thanksgiving tree, Hallmark has you covered.

Make it a Halloween of legendary proportions when you display this cute ornament! The diorama-style jack-o’-lantern design features an adorable Bigfoot creature with its iconic pose wandering in front of a moonlit forest.

Yes, it’s hard to imagine a more sacred holiday memory than this —

Relive one of the most hilarious moments from “Friends” when you display this Christmas tree ornament. In an effort to cheer up Chandler, Monica wears a turkey on her head—complete with a fez and sunglasses. When you press the button to play the audio clip from the show, you’re sure to proclaim your love…just as Chandler did on that fateful Thanksgiving Day.

But it’s a complete mystery what occasion Hallmark thinks people are celebrating when they buy creeptastic ornaments like these two:

After her sister’s demise, the Wicked Witch of the West harbored villainous hope for getting her hands on the Ruby Slippers. Relive the climactic scene inside her castle as the Wicked Witch of the West demands that a frightened Dorothy turn over the enchanted footwear. Fans of the classic movie “The Wizard of Oz” will love adding this Christmas tree ornament to their collection.

And I think the most suitable tree for decorating with the next ornament would be something like Old Man Willow, who tried to turn the hobbits into mulch.

Considered one of the most powerful Disney villains, the dark and sinister Chernabog first reared its wicked head in the classic 1940 film “Fantasia.” Pay tribute to good versus evil with this striking likeness of the menacing character ferociously emerging from Bald Mountain with his giant wings extended. Insert the bulb of a standard miniature light string through the rubber grommet on the ornament to create a special lighting effect.

Otherwise there are literally dozens of Keepsake Ornaments that commemorate popular movies and TV shows.

If they’re serious about selling these, quit fooling around, call him “Baby Yoda.”

The legend continues with The Child named Grogu (often called “Baby Yoda” by fans) from the Disney+ original series The Mandalorian. This Christmas tree ornament features the mysterious Force-sensitive alien playing with a shifter knob—from Din Djarin’s ship, The Razor Crest—as he sits atop a Stormtrooper helmet from remnants of the Galactic Empire.

Ordinarily, when I see a robot it’s not my first response that “He needs a few square meals under his belt” like I do with this one:

Loyal to the Rebel Alliance, K-2SO carried the markings of his former programming as an Imperial security droid, allowing him to effectively infiltrate Imperial installations and outposts. Rebellion hero Cassian Andor undertook the difficult task of reformatting K-2SO’s personality, leaving him with a blunt disposition that cemented his place as a favorite character. Fans of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story will love displaying this metal Christmas tree ornament of the versatile droid.

There are quite a few sci-fi TV shows with ornaments. There’s even an entire series of alternate-universe crew from Star Trek: TOS’ “Mirror, Mirror” episode, including the iconic Spock.

A striking departure from his prime-universe self, Spock’s discipline toward logic and science not only made him an inscrutable presence aboard the I.S.S. Enterprise but also led him to discern Captain Kirk’s most dangerous secret. Plug the ornament into Hallmark’s Keepsake Power Cord (sold separately) for constant illumination, then press the button to start a sound and light show based on the classic original Star Trek series episode “Mirror, Mirror.” Connect all of the Star Trek Storytellers ornaments—Captain James T. Kirk, Lieutenant Hikaru Sulu, Lieutenant Nyota Uhura, First Officer Spock and Ensign Pavel Chekov—and the U.S.S. Enterprise Tree Topper (each sold separately) to unlock additional interactive performances.

Likewise, many movies and other characters. I think it’s the inclusion of the comic book that I like best about this one.

Eighty years ago, “Man’s World” changed forever with the first appearance of Wonder Woman. This Christmas tree ornament celebrates the legacy of one of DC Comics’ most powerful and beloved Super Heroes—a steadfast symbol of truth, justice and equality—alongside cover art from the Wonder Woman No. 1 comic book.

Want to bet there are a couple of Filers who will soon own this item?

Originally constructed from a single enchanted stone in the shape of a giant Power Skull, Castle Grayskull protects the hidden power of the Universe and the secrets of Eternia. He-Man and his foes struggle to hold the mysterious, timeless powers of the mighty fortress. This Christmas tree ornament is a nostalgic tribute to “He-Man and the Masters of the Universe” for fans of all ages.

In the end I admit that this ornament, which relates to no holiday and needs no tree to justify its existence, affords me so much amusement that if I’m not careful I’ll wind up owning it.

He’s not Sheldon Cooper, he’s The Flash! Relive the hilarious events as the gang dresses up like the Justice League of America for a New Year’s Eve costume party with this Christmas tree ornament. Press the button to play some of Sheldon’s phrases from that unforgettable episode of “The Big Bang Theory” (battery-operated).

Pixel Scroll 9/20/21 Something Is Pixelling But You Don’t Know What It Is, Do You, Mr. Scroll?

(1) SOMTOW’S FILM WINS AWARD. This past weekend Somtow Sucharitkul and an orchestra flew in to do a concert at the Oldenburg International Film Festival — the biggest indie fest in Europe, “Sundance of Europe.” The music selected for the occasion, he says, “included all sorts of great music appropriate to our field including the 1922 score from Nosferatu and the ‘classic’ overture to Piranha II.”

The festival audience also witnessed the premiere of The Maestro, a film made with director Paul Spurrier, with Somtow’s score and onscreen performance.  (See File 770’s post about the making of The Maestro.)

In the video below you can watch the entire concert of film music at the Oldenburg Festival — followed by Somtow’s surprise at receiving the Spirit of Cinema Award 2021 for The Maestro.

Oldenburg Festival founder and director Torsten Neumann (left) Somtow Sucharitkul (right)

(2) NO EMMYS FOR SFF SHOWS. The Primetime Emmy Awards aired last night but I don’t have a post up about them because “Sci-fi and fantasy shows completely shut out of Primetime Emmys”, as explained at Winter Is Coming.

… And while series like WandaVision and The Mandalorian cleaned up at the Creative Arts Emmys, which awards more technical categories like production design and costuming, they came up empty at the Primetime Emmys, which rightly or wrongly are considered to be more prestigious….

(3) NEW LEM TRANSLATION. Stanislaw Lem’s 1964 story, published in English for the first time, tells the tale of a scientist in an insane asylum theorizing that the sun is alive. “The Truth, by Stanislaw Lem”, translated by Antonia Lloyd-Jones, is part of a new collection and a free read at The MIT Press Reader.

Here I sit writing in a locked room, where the door has no handle and the windows can’t be opened. They’re made of unbreakable glass. I tried. Not out of a wish to escape or out of rabid fury, I just wanted to be sure. I’m writing at a walnut table. I have plenty of paper. I’m allowed to write. Except no one will ever read it. But I’m writing anyway. I don’t want to be alone, and I can’t read. Everything they give me to read is a lie, the letters start to jump before my eyes and I lose patience. None of what’s in them has been of the least concern to me ever since I realized how things really are….

(4) MARCIA LUCAS’ OPINION ABOUT SW SEQUELS. From Marcia Lucas’ foreword in a new biography about Howard Kazanjian.

IGN continues, in “Marcia Lucas Was ‘Furious’ Over Star Wars Sequel Trilogy: ‘They Don’t Get It’”.

…And perhaps to set the record straight, Lucas also directs her wrath at her ex-husband’s prequel trilogy, revealing her disappointment in Episode I literally brought her to tears in 1999.

“I remember going out to the parking lot, sitting in my car and crying,” Lucas writes. “I cried. I cried because I didn’t think it was very good. And I thought [George] had such a rich vein to mine, a rich palette to tell stories with… There were things I didn’t like about the casting, and things I didn’t like about the story, and things I didn’t like — it was a lot of eye candy. CG.”…

(5) DUNE, ON THE BIG AND BIGGER SCREEN. “’Dune’ Earns $36.8M in Overseas Debut”The Hollywood Reporter has a breakdown.

The highly anticipated Legendary/Warner Bros. movie opened overseas to $36.8 million across 24 markets and 7,819 screens. Russia led international tickets sales with $7.6 million, followed by France ($7.5 million), Germany ($4.9 million) and Italy ($2.6 million).

Dune‘s giant-format ticket sales were a particular stand-out, with the movie earning $3.6 million in Imax ticket sales from 142 screens, making its per-screen Imax average an astounding $25,000. The Imax ticket sales made up 10 percent of the movie’s total international take. The movie was shot for large-format viewing, with the Imax version featuring an exclusive expanded aspect ratio….

(6) IN CASE YOU WANT TO KNOW. Deadline has a vast calendar of when shows will begin airing: “Fall TV Premiere Dates 2021: New and Returning Series”.

Deadline’s comprehensive annual list of fall premiere dates for new series and new seasons of returning series. It covers more than 450 broadcast, cable and streaming shows bowing from September 1 through December 31

(7) SOUNDS OF SILENCE. I’m gradually working my way through SF Signal’s blogroll. It was compiled years ago and many of the authors have in the interim changed to another platform or dropped blogging for other alternatives. Justine Larbalastier explains why she moved on from Twitter in “Why I Left Twitter, or, the Last Day of 2019”, and left  blogging in “The Importance of Masks”, posted in July 2020.

…I haven’t been blogging because I missed the community that used to be here. When this was a regular blog there was a wonderful conversation in response to almost every post. I’m finding blogging here to silence soul sucking.

I miss the community of the old days but I accept those days are gone. The conversations now unfold on social media.

I have found an engaged community on Instagram ready and willing to discuss the intersections of fashion and politics during this pandemic and there are no trolls. I’m loving it. So I post my mini essays there. I will continue to post longer essays here and will soon be updating this site with my fashion research.

I don’t foresee returning to Twitter anytime soon. It was too depressing. I miss those of you I no longer interact with, but my mental health is so much better since I left. So . . .

(8) RUNNING FOR PRESIDENT IN 1840. Barbara Hambly, who is still at it, recently migrated her blogging activity to Barbarahambly.blogspot.com as she notes in “Experimental Post #2”.

And here we are, at my new blog. The website is yet to come, and for the first couple of weeks I’ll be buried in a deadline: Benjamin January # 19, Death and Hard Cider, which takes place against the background of the 1840 Presidential election. I thought about calling it, “Tippecanoe and Murder, Too,” but realized that a lot of people won’t understand the reference to the campaign of William Henry Harrison. That was the first “modern” style Presidential campaign, with songs, rallies, women’s auxiliary organizations (even though women couldn’t vote – the guys found them convenient for providing refreshments at the rallies, and Harrison’s opponents railed against those hussies for handing out leaflets and reading newspapers and having opinions about the politics of their betters)….

(9) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

  • 1979 – Forty-two years ago on this evening, Buck Rogers in the 25th Century first aired on NBC. It was developed by Glen Larson who created Battlestar Galactica and Leslie Stevens who created Outer Limits. It is of course based on characters created by Philip Francis Nowlan. The only cast that counts was Gil Gerard as Captain William “Buck” Rogers and Erin Gray as Colonel Wilma Deering. Oh, and Mel Blanc in the first season voicing Twiki. It lasted but two seasons of thirty-seven episodes. Buster Crabbe who played Buck Rogers in the original thirties Buck Rogers film serial would play Brigadier Gordon in an episode here. It’s worth noting that the series re-used most of the props, star fighters, stages, some of the effects film and even costumes from Battlestar Galactica. 

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born September 20, 1935 — Keith Roberts. Author of Pavane, an amazing novel.  I’ve also read his collection of ghost stories, Winterwood and Other Hauntings, with an introduction by Robert Holdstock. Interestingly he has four BSFA Awards including ones for the artwork for the cover of his own first edition of Kaeti & Company. (Died 2000.)
  • Born September 20, 1940 — Jonathan Hardy. He was the voice of Dominar Rygel XVI, called simply Rygel, once the royal ruler of the Hynerian Empire, on Farscape.  He was also Police Commissioner Labatouche in Mad Max, and he had a one-off in the Mission: Impossible series that was produced in his native Australia in the “Submarine” episode as Etienne Reynard. (Died 2012.)
  • Born September 20, 1950 — James Blaylock, 71. One of my favorite writers. I’d recommend the Ghosts trilogy, the Christian trilogy and The Adventures of Langdon St. Ives whichcollects all of the Langdon St. Ives adventures together as his best writing, but anything by him is worth reading. I see the usual suspects don’t have much by him but they do have two Langdon St. Ives tales, Homunclus and Beneath London.
  • Born September 20, 1951 — JoAnna Cameron, 70. I’ve previously mentioned in passing Shazam!, a Seventies children’s series done by Filmation. Well she was the lead on Isis, another Filmation children’s series done at the same time. Her only genre appearance was a brief one in the Amazing Spider-Man series. Anyone here seen it? I don’t remember seeing it. 
  • Born September 20, 1955 — David Haig, 66. He played Pangol in “The Leisure Hive” a Fourth Doctor story. He also showed up on Blake’s 7 in “Rumours of Death” as Forres, and was Colonel Bonnet inThe Adventures of Young Indiana Jones: Tales of Innocence. He’s also General Vandenberg in the film remake of A for Andromeda. Finally I should I should he’s The Player in Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead done at The Old Vic a few years back.
  • Born September 20, 1974 — Owen Sheers, 47. His first novel, Resistance, tells the story of the inhabitants of a valley near Abergavenny in Wales in  the Forties shortly after the failure of Operation Overlord and a successful German takeover of Britain. It’s been made into a film.  He also wrote the “White Ravens”, a contemporary take off the myth of Branwen Daughter of Llyr, found in the New Stories from the Mabinogion series.
  • Born September 20, 1986 — Aldis Hodge, 35. He played Alec Hardison on the Leverage series which just got a reboot. Ok, I know it’s not precisely genre but if there’s a spiritual descendant of Mission: Impossible, this series is it. Both the cast and their use of technology in that series are keeping with the MI spirit. He’s also had one-offs on CharmedBuffy the Vampire SlayerSupernaturalThe Walking DeadStar Trek: Discovery’s Short Takes and Bones (which given that it crossed over with Sleepy Hollow…)

(11) COMICS SECTION.

(12) FROM THE NEIGHBORHOOD. “Whistle, Gotham City’s latest superhero, is Jewish. It’s a full-circle moment for the comics industry” reports the Jewish Telegraphic Agency.

It turns out that Batman’s hometown of Gotham City has a historically Jewish neighborhood, complete with a synagogue. And for this year’s High Holidays, at least one masked superhero will be worshipping there. 

Her name is Whistle, a.k.a. Willow Zimmerman, and she’s a Jewish superhero — DC Comics’ first to be explicitly created as Jewish in 44 years. She’s an activist-turned-masked-crusader who draws inspiration from Jewish teachings; she develops the ability to talk to dogs; and she’s making her debut this month in “Whistle: A New Gotham City Superhero,” a graphic novel geared to young adults.

“There’s a long and fascinating history of Jewish creators in comics,” the book’s author and character creator, E. Lockhart, told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency. “Superman, Batman and Spider-Man were all invented by Jewish men, and scholars have interpreted them through a variety of lenses that take that into account. But while there have certainly been Jewish superheroes before, Whistle is the first Jewish hero to originate as Jewish from DC Comics since 1977.”

Lockhart was referring to Seraph, a superhero from Israel who helped Superman in “Super Friends #7? before immediately falling out of the public eye. 

(13) TWENTY ACROSS. Catherynne M. Valente celebrated on Facebook her appearance as a clue in a Washington Post crossword puzzle.

(14) NEIGHBORHOOD READY TO BEAM UP. Janice L. Newman tells Galactic Journey readers about their new (in 1966) television-watching tradition: “[September 20, 1966] In the hands of an adolescent (Star Trek’s ‘Charlie X’)”.

….It’s official, we now have a “Star Trek” night at our house each week, when we gather our friends and watch the latest episode. Though we’ve only watched two episodes so far, the show is off to an interesting start! This week we saw “Charlie X”, which had thematic similarities to both of the pilots we saw at Tricon….

(Tricon was “this year’s” Worldcon in Cleveland.)

(15) LIKE THE TUNGUSKA EVENT? It’s a theory. “A giant space rock demolished an ancient Middle Eastern city and everyone in it – possibly inspiring the Biblical story of Sodom” reports Yahoo!

…Experiments with laboratory furnaces showed that the bubbled pottery and mudbricks at Tall el-Hammam liquefied at temperatures above 2,700 F (1,500 C). That’s hot enough to melt an automobile within minutes.

The destruction layer also contains tiny balls of melted material smaller than airborne dust particles. Called spherules, they are made of vaporized iron and sand that melted at about 2,900 F (1,590 C).

In addition, the surfaces of the pottery and meltglass are speckled with tiny melted metallic grains, including iridium with a melting point of 4,435 F (2,466 C), platinum that melts at 3,215 F (1,768 C) and zirconium silicate at 2,800 F (1,540 C).

Together, all this evidence shows that temperatures in the city rose higher than those of volcanoes, warfare and normal city fires. The only natural process left is a cosmic impact….

(16) JEOPARDY! Andrew Porter was tuned in to tonight’s episode of Jeopardy! where contestants had trouble connecting this chemistry lesson with a famous film.

Final Jeopardy: 1980s Movies

Answer: The dip used to kill characters in this 1988 film consisted of Acetone, Benzene & Turpentine, ingredients in paint thinner.

Wrong questions: What is “Dune?” and “What is Raiders of the Lost Ark?”

Right question: What is, “Who Framed Roger Rabbit?”

(17) MOVIE HISTORY UP FOR BIDDING. Heritage Auction’s “Monsters & Friends: Featuring The Kevin Burns Collection” event November 5-7 will include many prime items, including these two:

First, Producer Stanley Bergerman’s Personal Copy of the Universal Pictures Script for Frankenstein (1931). A vintage studio bound and bradded, 99-page screenplay for the Classic Horror movie, Frankenstein. Stanley Bergerman was Universal Studios head, Carl Laemmle’s, son-in-law and a Producer. The oversized script is filled with the content that became one of the greatest monster movies of all time. Second, The Wizard of Oz Metro Goldwyn Mayer Clapperboard (1938). A large vintage wooden clapperboard with metal-hinged clapstick, hand lettered in white on the black painted front face, “Metro Goldwyn Mayer, Wizard Of Oz, Director – Victor Fleming, Camera – Harold Rosson,” and dated, at the bottom of the board, “11-6-1938.” 

[Thanks to JJ, Michael Toman, John King Tarpinian, Lise Andreasen, Will R., Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, and Martin Morse Wooster for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to contributing editor of the day Randall M.]