Pixel Scroll 10/23/21 The White Witch Has Made It Always Pixelter But Never Scrollmas

(1) S.L. HUANG ON MOVIE GUN SAFETY. [Item by rcade.] S.L. Huang, who won a 2020 Hugo Award for the short story “As the Last I May Know,” has worked in movies as a stuntwoman, gun trainer and gun safety expert (a job with the title of “film armorer”).

She has posted a Twitter thread on the shooting accident that killed cinematographer Halyna Hutchins this week. Thread starts here. Here are a few excerpts:

(2) UNRAVELED RAPIDLY. [Item by Danny Sichel.] Earlier this week, a group of six popular YA writers announced that they were co-launching a shared world project which would be called “Realm of Ruin”, and which would involve NFTs and reader submissions and quite a lot of details which hadn’t been properly thought out.

By Friday, the project had been canceled.

@BadWritingTakes tracked the details in a thread that begins here.

(3) RUH-ROH! New episodes of Scooby-Doo and Guess Who? started streaming on HBOMax October 1, and they’ve really upgraded the roster of guest stars — Cher, Sean Astin, Jessica Biel, Terry Bradshaw, Lucy Liu, Jason Sudeikis, and Run DMC.

(4) SID KROFFT, INSTAGRAM STAR? “How Sid Krofft, at 92, became an Instagram Live star and why celebs ask to be on his show” at Yahoo! Either he’s worked with them, or they loved his work when they were kids. He did his 75th show October 3.

…[Sid] Krofft is best known through his collaborations with his brother Marty on TV shows like “Land of the Lost,” “Sigmund and the Sea Monsters,” “The Banana Splits Adventure Hour,” “The Brady Bunch Variety Hour” and “H.R. Pufnstuf,” whose 17 episodes from 1969 were a syndication staple through the 1970s and again in the ’90s…. 

Killian says he was 90 at the time, and though they bicker like an old married couple, he reluctantly tried it out. What he found was that his penchant for storytelling helped him connect online like he had with audiences through his puppetry or through TV, and that many people remembered and revered him not only for his work but how it influenced them.

“You just don’t know, after all these years, that the fans still hang out and they know all the songs and everything that you’ve done,” says Krofft.

Those fans include many who are now stars in their own right. Just the other day, according to Krofft, Seth Rogen came to visit him. Why? Because he admired his work.

He says he didn’t know most of the stars he’s interacted with. “They searched me out! A few days ago, Anderson Cooper contacted me. I don’t know Anderson. And Katie Couric. People are reaching out to me that I never knew. I wanted to, but I never met them. Half of the people that I have had on, they reached out to me. I’m floored over that.”…

(5) TRIBUTE TO SF ARTIST POWERS. Scott Robinson’s Higher Powers: a Richard M. Powers Centennial Concert will be staged Saturday, October 30 in Brooklyn, NY.

It is no exaggeration to state that surrealist painter Richard M. Powers (1921-1996) was one of the most startlingly imaginative and prolific artists of the twentieth century. The otherworldly landscapes, perplexing quasi-machines, and extra-dimensional biomorphic forms he produced for countless science fiction book covers of the 1950s and 60s were a powerful early inspiration for composer/multi-instrumentalist Scott Robinson, who brings his “aRT” trio with Pheeroan akLaff and Julian Thayer to Roulette for this centennial multimedia concert event.

The evening will begin with a pre-concert discussion with the artist’s son, writer Richard Gid Powers, and longtime broadcaster David Garland. Robinson’s short award-winning video, “Powers100,” will also be shown. Following an intermission, the aRT trio will then take the stage for the World Premiere of Higher Powers, an improvisational multimedia piece in which live video feed of the performers will be interactively intermixed in real time with Powers imagery chosen from among his vast output…some of it unpublished, never before seen by the public. The use of monitors for the performers, along with computer technology to blend and meld images on the large screen above, is a method that aRT developed in collaboration with sculptor Rob Fisher in 1991 which allows for full, 360° interactivity. The performers literally enter the work, and become it… and vice versa. Extremely rare instruments from Robinson’s arsenal will be seen and heard, including a sub-contrabass sarrusophone, a Model 201 theremin which was Robert Moog’s very first creation (one of only 20 he made), and one of the world’s largest saxophones. Rare footage of the artist at work will also be shown, and there will be a reception following the performance.

(6) TROPE REJECTED. Slate’s Tyler Austin Harper  says Invasion gets one thing right — “Apple TV+’s Invasion, Tomorrow War, Watchmen: Stop with the fantasy that aliens will fix racism”.

…Yet, despite signaling aspirations to tackle big-picture issues from a global perspective, Invasion’s diversity is largely ornamental, a toothless, paint-by-number multiculturalism of the sort you see on college brochures. It’s as though the show’s creators assumed that simply writing in an immigrant or a person with a disability would magically create compelling television in and of itself—no need for intrigue or conflict or any of the flesh-and-blood details that make an audience care about whether or not a character gets sent off to the alien glue factory.

Yet, for all that, Invasion remains an interesting cultural document because it is doing something different from the great bulk of science fiction out there about what happens when creatures from another galaxy show up on our doorsteps. Namely, it presents a world in which the arrival of space invaders does not magically fix race or class divides by uniting the human race against a common enemy, a trope that has now been a staple of science fiction for more than a century….

(7) PAIZO UNION RECOGNIZED BY MANAGEMENT. Bleeding Cool says the recently-announced union has had a breakthrough: “Paizo Announces Recognition Of United Paizo Workers” reports Bleeding Cool.

Last night, Paizo formally announced that they have officially recognized a union of their own staff which has been named the United Paizo Workers. The company issued the statement and quote from their president below, which revealed they had voluntarily recognized the United Paizo Workers union, which is affiliated with the Communications Workers of America (CWA). This is a pretty major step for the company considering their staff announced they were unionizing just a week ago.

Jeff Alvarez, President of Paizo [said:]

“The next steps will involve the United Paizo Workers (UPW) union electing their bargaining representatives and then meeting with Paizo management to negotiate terms for a collective bargaining agreement. We expect this process to take some time, but we are committed to the effort and hope to settle a contract in due course. Until an agreement is reached, the Paizo staff continues to focus on creating amazing Pathfinder and Starfinder products.” 

(8) SAND DOLLARS. Dune set a studio opening day record reports Deadline.

Dune posted the best opening day for a Warner Bros. theatrical/HBO Max day and date title with $17.5M. While Warners is calling the weekend currently at $33M, rivals believes it’s higher, in the high $30Ms range, which would also indicate a record weekend for a Warner/HBO Max title and filmmaker Denis Villeneuve as well.

The industry estimate for Saturday’s drop is around -30%. Hopefully, the HBO Max of it all doesn’t drag the movie further down, as US folks with HBO subscriptions discover they can watch Dune at home for free. Between Thursday and Friday, there was a significant amount of moviegoers who decided to see Dune at the last minute, with 67% of the crowd either buying their tickets the day of, or the day before.

Dune‘s Friday is bigger than that of Villeneuve’s previous sci-fi reboot, Blade Runner 2049, which saw a Friday of $12.6M, and also that of Legendary and Warner Bros. previous reteaming, Godzilla vs. Kong, which saw a Friday of $11.8M, that being the first of the studio’s tentpoles on HBO Max at Easter….

(9) WINDYCON DEAL. Chicago’s annual Windycon is on the brink, financially, and is offering incentives to make its room block:

Windycon is giving away convention memberships with hotel room bookings, if you book a room for two nights by October 25.

Want to see Carlos Hernandez or Seanan McGuire in person? Come to suburban Chicago November 12-14! Help save a venerable fan-run SF convention that, I promise, is taking Covid precautions VERY seriously!

Per the press release:

We all know the last few years have been rough. We had to go virtual with Breezycon last year, and this year we are struggling to provide a safe environment for us to gather. In order to help keep Windycon going, we need to make our room block. We’ve extended our room block deadline to Monday, October 25 but we are still low.

Because of this shortfall we are offering free registration for the hotel reservations that meet these qualifications

If you don’t have a room yet and book 2 nights, or more, you will receive a free registration for Windycon 2022. Book 4 or more and get 2 free registrations for Windycon 2022

If you already have a reservation but extend it for a 3rd night, or more, you will receive a free registration for Windycon 2022. Extend it for 4 and get 2 free registrations for Windycon 2022

If you have booked your room and it’s for 2 nights we will put your name in a drawing for 10 registrations. Plus, as a reward for already booking early, you will qualify for a $10 reduction of your Windycon registration fee next year.

(10) ANOTHER CALL FOR ASSISTANCE. “StarShipSofa Is In Desperate Need of Funds” says Tony C. Smith. Obviously, it has evolved to have a very different model than when it won the Best Fanzine Hugo in 2010.

There’s no getting away from it… StarShipSofa needs a little help in funding. We have been going 16 years now (wow) and I have had this silent goal to take SSS to 20 years, say goodbye one last time then bow out and walk away… or better still – drift into the deep universe and beyond.

Truth is… we won’t get there if our funding keeps reclining. We have lost nearly 200 Patreon supporters since we started and now are stuck financially, scraping together enough funds each month to put out only two shows.

This is such a shame.

Please support via Patreon. Monthly donations are the perfect cure to help me achieve my goal. Let me get to 20 years of StarShipSofa – after that who knows.

(11) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

1959 – “Picture of a woman looking at a picture. Movie great of another time, once-brilliant star in a firmament no longer a part of the sky, eclipsed by the movement of earth and time. Barbara Jean Trenton, whose world is a projection room, whose dreams are made out of celluloid. Barbara Jean Trenton, struck down by hit-and-run years and lying on the unhappy pavement, trying desperately to get the license number of fleeting fame.”

Sixty two years ago, Twilight Zone’s “The Sixteen-Millimeter Shrine” first aired on CBS. It starred Ida Lupino who was the only individual to have worked as both actress and though she was uncredited at the time as a director in the same episode of The Twilight Zone.  She will be credited with directing of “The Masks” which she appeared in. She was thereby the only woman to direct an episode of The Twilight Zone

(12) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born October 23, 1880 Una O’Connor. Actress who appeared in the 1930s The Invisible Man as Jenny Hall. She had a bit part in Bride of Frankenstein, and a supporting role in the genre-adjacent The Adventures of Robin Hood. Though not even genre adjacent, she was Mrs. Peters in the film adaptation of Graham Greene’s Stamboul. Great novel, I’ll need to see if I can find this film.She’s in The Canterville Ghost, and shows up twice in TV’s Tales of Tomorrow anthology series. And that’s it. (Died 1959.)
  • Born October 23, 1935 Bruce Mars, 86. He was on Trek three times, one uncredited, with his best remembered being in the most excellent Shore Leave episode as Finnegan, the man Kirk fights with. He also had one-offs in The Time Tunnel, Voyage to the Bottom of The Sea, and Mission: Impossible.  He is now Brother Paramananda with the Self-Realization Fellowship in Los Angeles which he joined shortly after ending his acting career in 1969. 
  • Born October 23, 1953 Ira Steven Behr, 68. Best remembered for his work on the Trek franchise, particularly Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, on which he served as showrunner and executive producer. As writer and or producer, he has been in involved in Beyond RealityDark AngelThe Twilight ZoneThe 4400Alphas, and Outlander
  • Born October 23, 1955 Graeme Reavlle, 66. New Zealand composer responsible for such genre soundtracks as  The CrowFrom Dusk Till DawnThe Saint (the 1997 version), Titan A.E.Lara Croft: Tomb RaiderDaredevil and Sin City.
  • Born October 23, 1959 Sam Raimi, 62. Responsible for, and this is not a complete listing, the Darkman franchise , M.A.N.T.I.S., the Jack of All Trades series that Kage loved, the Cleopatra 2525 series, Hercules: The Legendary Journeys and Xena: Warrior Princess series and the Spider-Man trilogy. 
  • Born October 23, 1969 Trudy Canavan, 52. Australian writer who’s won two Ditmars for her Thief’s Magic and A Room for Improvement novels and two Aurealis Awards as well, one for her “Whispers of the Mist Children” short story, and one for The Magician’s Apprentice novel.  It’s worth noting that she’s picked up two Ditmar nominations for her artwork as well. 
  • Born October 23, 1986 Emilia Clarke, 35. She’ll be most remembered as Daenerys Targaryen on the Game of Thrones. Her genre film roles include Sarah Connor in Terminator Genisys and Kira in Solo: A Star Wars Story. She was also Verena in Voice from the Stone, a horror film. Not to mention Savannah Roundtree in Triassic Attack, a network film clearly ripping off Jurrasic Park.
  • Born October 23, 2007 Lilly Aspell, 14. She’s a Scottish-born performer best known so far for portraying the young Diana in Wonder Woman and its sequel. She voiced the role on DC Super Hero Girls. She was Newschild in Holmes & Watson, and Megan in the alien invasion flick Extinction

(13) COMICS SECTION.

(14) FRIENDLY NEIGHBORHOOD HELL. Randee Dawn continues the “Halloween Haunts” series at the Horror Writers Association Blog with “Suburbia is Hell” – just as Pohl and Kornbluth foretold.

Suburbs are hell.

This said by someone who grew up on cul-de-sacs, down streets named after Ivy League universities, on parcels of farmland carved up into intentionally bland, vaguely descriptive development names, on land that was almost certainly stolen from the original inhabitants, then re-distributed and tamed. Or attempted to be tamed….

(15) MAKING MAGIC. The CBS Saturday Morning show a few weeks ago featured “Zach King on how his magic tricks reach millions”. Watch the video at the link.

At 31 years old Zach King has already amassed an extensive catalog of accomplishments and compiled a massive catalog of accomplishments. His magic trick videos have reached millions and millions on several different social media platforms. King opens up to Dana Jacobson about how the fun isn’t just making the magic, it can also be found when revealing the illusion.

(16) COUNTING THE DAYS. There’s more than one reason not to let this collectible come in contact with water. “Gremlins Countdown Calendar review” at OAFE.

One of the oddest trends in 2020 was the rise of the geeky advent calendar. You may recall we reviewed the one from Boss Fight Studio, but it was far from the only one available – many were even in normal stores, like Walmart or Target. They began showing up on shelves in late October, which in at least one case was a problem.

This set is based on a horror movie. And it’s got 31 days, not 24 – so obviously this was not meant to be a Christmas calendar, but a Halloween calendar. Not much use on October 20th. But hey, there’s nothing saying it’s only good for a specific year, right? So buy one on post-holiday clearance, and store it away for next October!

(17) ZOOM WITH GRADY HENDRIX ABOUT HAUNTING. Northern Illinois University’s “Future Telling” webinar series features “The Haunted Mind,” a free virtual presentation with Grady Hendrix, author (Horrorstör, My Best Friend’s Exorcism) and Konrad Stump, Local History Associate, Springfield-Green County Library, on Wednesday, October 27, at 6:00 p.m. Central. Register here.

Why do some people believe they have experienced a haunting? Understand the science behind environmental and neurological conditions that shape people’s belief in ghosts or their tendency to experience delusions. Join host Gillian King-Cargile as she talks with author Grady Hendrix (The Final Girl Support Group, The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires, Horrorstör), librarian Konrad Stump, a local history expert and co-chair of Horror Writers Association Library Committee, and other experts in psychology and neurology. Don’t miss this spirited discussion on spooky science.

The goal of the “Future Telling” webinar series is to “introduce writers to bleeding-edge concepts, to invigorate STEM experts with mind-bending views of the future, and to celebrate the connections between STEM and storytelling.”

(18) CINEMATIC INSPIRATION. [Item by Ben Bird Person.] Artist Bugboss did this piece based on the 1973 movie Fantastic Planet

(19) NETFLIX ALL-TIME MOST-WATCHED SHOWS. [Item by David Doering.] More evidence we won the Culture War: Netflix announced last week their All-Time most watched shows. Their #2 and #3 shows globally were SF/F. “’Bridgerton’ tops Netflix’s list of most watched TV shows ever, while ‘Extraction’ leads among movies”.

“Bridgerton,” a period piece about 19th century British royalty produced by Shonda Rhimes, premiered in December. French series “Lupin: Part 1? and season one of “The Witcher,” a fantasy series starring Henry Cavill, tied for second on the list, with 76 million accounts.

Naturally, as an anime fan I consider “Lupin” part of our genre. Some could even argue that Bridgerton has an element of “fantasy” to it as well.

(20) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In “Honest Game Trailers:  Diablo II Resurrected,” Fandom Games says this game is a barely revised version of Diablo, but Blizzard Games didn’t want to face “the righteous anger of one billion nerds” by offering something gamers wouldn’t already be used to.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Andrew Porter, Michael Toman, rcade, Cassy B., Rob Thornton, Rich Lynch, Chris Barkley, Nancy Sauer, Ben Bird Person, David Doering, Danny Sichel, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, and JJ for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Andrew (not Werdna).]

Himebaugh Steps Up As New StarShipSofa Editor

Tony C. Smith, Host/Producer of the Hugo Award winning StarShipSofa podcast, today announced that Fred Himebaugh is their new fiction editor.

Fred Himebaugh will be the new editor of StarShipSofa once Gary Dowell has officially stepped down from the role. I want to welcome Fred onboard the Sofa. It will be great to journey with him to see and hear what great stories he finds.

Smith told his mailing list last Friday that a search for a new editor was under way.

Himebaugh takes over from Gary Dowell, who succeeded Jeremy Szal when he stepped down in January 2020. Dowell was StarShipSofa’s fiction editor for just 10 months.  

Himebaugh tweeted a comment about his selection:  

Thrilled to join (rejoin, really) the District of Wonders team. StarShipSofa will always be the ur-podcast of the sci-fi universe to me. Thanks to Tony C. Smith for hiring me and I look forward to renewed closeness in our old friendship.

[Thanks to JJ for the story.]

Pixel Scroll 1/20/20 The Filers Scroll Round And Round, And They Come Out Here

(1) DREAMER’S BIOGRAPHY. “N. K. Jemisin’s Dream Worlds” in The New Yorker is Raffi Khatchadourian’s profile of the extraordinary author.

…In 2018, she released “How Long ’til Black Future Month?,” a collection of short stories. She also completed her next novel, “The City We Became,” the first installment of another trilogy, which is due out this March. Submitting the novel to her editor, a few hours before midnight on New Year’s Eve, she felt depleted; for more than a decade, she had been writing nearly a book a year. She resolved to take 2019 off, but she couldn’t stay idle. She sketched out the new trilogy’s second installment, while also navigating calls from Hollywood, speaking engagements, side gigs. Marvel Comics invited her to guest-write a series—an offer she declined, because she had already agreed with DC Comics to create a “Green Lantern” spinoff. As we sat in her office, the first issue of her comic was slated for release in a few weeks. “This is an unusual year for me,” she said. “Usually, I have only one thing to concentrate on.”

Above her desk she had hung family photos: glimpses of a truncated generational story. “Like most black Americans descended from slaves, it basically stops,” she told me. She once wrote about this loss—not merely the erasure of a backstory but also the absence of all that a person builds upon it; as she put it, the “strange emptiness to life without myths.” She had considered pursuing genealogy, “the search for the traces of myself in moldering old sale documents and scanned images on microfiche.” But ultimately she decided that she had no interest in what the records might say. “They’ll tell me where I came from, but not what I really want to know: where I’m going. To figure that out, I make shit up.”

(2) DROPPING THE PILOT. Jeremy Szal’s tenure at StarShip Sofa has run its course: “All Good Things Must End: A statement from Jeremy Szal”.

As of today, 20th of January 2020, I am stepping down from being the fiction editor-in-chief and producer of StarShipSofa.

I delayed stepping down this as long as I could. For almost two years, in fact, but it’s come to this inevitable write-up.

…See, I was never an editor at heart. I am and always will be a writer. I spent years and years handling other people’s writing and enjoyed it immensely. But it wasn’t what I ultimately wanted to do. And being an editor, particularly for audio format, is hard. It’s time-consuming. It’s exhausting. It’s draining. Not going to run through the process and all its shenanigans. Take my word for it that it’s nothing less than a part time job. And I did it because I loved it.

But I love writing more….

(3) THE ISABEL FALL STORY. Doris V. Sutherland, self-described “tubular transdudette”, weighs in with “Copter Crash: Isabel Fall and the Transgender SF Debate” at Women Write About Comics. The in-depth summary and analysis of the issues ends —

…Meanwhile, Isabel Fall has maintained her justifiably low profile. Even during the height of the controversy, she issued statements through mediators — first “Pip,” then Neil Clarke — rather than take a public platform herself. It remains to be seen what paths her creative career will take after her needlessly hostile reception this month.

Another concern is the lasting effect that the controversy will have on trans authors as a whole. The affair of “I Sexually Identify as an Attack Helicopter” makes plain a dilemma for contemporary transgender literature: fiction that is personal and boundary-pushing, that takes insults and abuse and turns them on the head to create something new, clearly runs the risk of being wildly misinterpreted and misrepresented. But the alternative — of creating only art that conforms to a narrow notion of “proper” transgender experience, that strives to avoid even the hypothetical possibility of causing offence or discomfort — is hardly appealing.

If transgender fiction is to soar, then it cannot afford for people like Isabel Fall to be bullied off the launchpad.

(4) OSHIRO RETURNS. Mark Oshiro recently announced plans to resume work. Thread starts here.

(5) LET ROVER COME OVER. Future Engineers’ student contest to Name the Rover announced the semifinalists on January 13. There are over 150 – see them all in this gallery.

The finalists will be announced January 21, and the winning name on February 18.

(6) TRAINS IN SPACE. Featured in the 2020 Lionel Train Catalog are Star Trek trains. New: Tribble Transport Car; Romulan Ale Tank Car; Capt. Kirk Boxcar; Capt. Picard Boxcar… (They also have trains from other shows and movies – Thomas the Tank Engine, Toy Story, Frozen II, and other Pixar productions, Scooby-Doo, and Harry Potter.

Batman looks pretty wild, too,

(7) MAYBE THERE’S A PONY UNDERNEATH. At Young People Read Old SFF, James Davis Nicoll unleashes the panel on “The White Pony” by Jane Rice.

Jane Rice is an author familiar to me solely though this story. Everyone gets to be one of the ten thousand sooner or later. She was a respected author of science fiction, fantasy, and horror. If this story is an example of her skill, I can see why her fans followed Rice. This meet-cute gone wrong is engaging enough for me to seek out more of Rice’s writing1. But what will my Young People think?

(8) RIDE AT GALAXY’S EDGE. When LAist made it to the head of the line, here is what they experienced: “We Traipsed Around A Star Destroyer: Your Guide To Disneyland’s ‘Star Wars: Rise Of The Resistance'”. Lots of detail and photos, without spoiling the dramatic conclusion.

…As the transport’s doors open, actual humans playing First Order villains usher you out of the ship for you to be interrogated. They’re empowered to be a little strict with you — we witnessed one of them putting their evil fascist power to use in shushing someone who dared to speak during a speech they were giving to visitors.

“I know growing up, all I wanted to do was run around the corridors of a Star Destroyer — so hey, why not do it for real?” Imagineer John Larena said.

But as Imagineer Scott Trowbridge noted, “It turns out that it’s actually hard to make those experiences that we saw on the massive screen, to bring those to life with that sense of epic scale.” The ride was notably delayed from initial plans to open it alongside the rest of Galaxy’s Edge.

But looking around the ride, it feels like they actually did it. It may not feel quite as massive as some of the scenes from the Star Wars films, but there is a real sense of scale as you walk around what feel like movie sets….

(9) ASK THE FANTASY WRITERS. Be one of today’s lucky 10,000! View this old episode of the BBC quiz show Only Connect featuring a team of fantasy writers composed of Geoff Ryman, Paul Cornell, and Liz Williams. In the series, teams compete in a tournament of finding connections between seemingly unrelated clues. The show ran from 2008 til 2014.

(10) TODAY IN HISTORY.

  • January 20, 1936 Cosmic Voyage Is remembered as being one of the first films to depict spaceflight, including weightlessness in realistic terms. It was shot as a silent film and had only a short release window being banned by Soviet censors until the collapse of the USSR. And yes you, can indeed see it here.
  • January 20, 1972 — The first Star Trek convention took place in New York City from this day for two very full days.  Memory Alpha notes that “Although the original estimate of attendees was only a few hundred, several thousand had turned up before the end of the convention, which featured a program of events of an art show, costume contest, a display provided by NASA and a dealers room.“ Gene Roddenberry, Majel Barrett, D.C. Fontana and Isaac Asimov were among the SFF community members who showed up.

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born January 20, 1884 A. Merritt. His first fantasy story was published in 1917, “Through the Dragon Glass” in the November 14 issue of All-Story Weekly. His SFF career would eventually consist of eight novels and fifteen (I think) short stories. I’m sure that I’ve read The Moon Pool, his novel, and much of that short fiction, but can’t recall the other novels as being read by me. In the digital release, Apple Books is clearly the better place to find his work as they’ve got everything he published whereas Kindle and Kobo are spotty. (Died 1943.)
  • Born January 20, 1934 Tom Baker, 86. The Fourth Doctor of course and the longest serving one to date with a seven-year run. My favorite story of his? “The Talons of Weng Chiang”. He wrote an autobiography, Who on Earth Is Tom Baker?, and just did his first Doctor Who novel, Scratchman, co-written with James Goss. 
  • Born January 20, 1958 Kij Johnson, 62. Writer and associate director of The Center for the Study of Science Fiction the University of Kansas English Department which is I must say a cool genre thing to be doing indeed. If you not read her Japanese mythology based The Fox Woman, do so now as it’s superb. The sequel, Fudoki, is just as interesting. The Dream-Quest of Vellitt Boe is a novella taking a classic Lovecraftian tale and giving a nice twist. Finally, I’ll recommend her short story collection, At the Mouth of the River of Bees: Stories
  • Born January 20, 1981 Izabella Miko, 39. OK, she was in The Clash of Titans as Athens. Why Goddess tell would anyone remake such a perfect film? She also had a recurring role on the very short lived The Cape series as Raia, and she had a recurring role as Carrie on Deadwood
  • Born January 20, 1983 Svetlana Viktorovna Khodchenkova, 37. I think her only SFF role was in the most excellent  Hugh Jackman led The Wolverine in which she had the dual role of Dr. Green who becomes The Viper. Marvels fans will recognise that this is a new version of the character. But most of her career involves Russian titled productions so I’m not sure…

(12) COMICS SECTION.

  • Non Sequitur finds two guys who are unprepared for a UFO to land in their bar, but not for the reason you might expect.

(13) N3F SHORT STORY CONTEST WINNERS. The winners of the National Fantasy Fan Federation’s 2019 Short Story Contest were announced in TNFF.

First Prize: “As Day Follows Night” by Karen L. Kobylarz, a tale of heroic fantasy, highly embla-zoned with both heroism and fantasy, a “quest” story following a magic student on a harrowing journey into myth and sacrifice.

Second Prize: “The Safety of Thick Walls” by Gus-tavo Bondoni, a tale of the Roman Republic…with zombies!

Third Prize: “Where You G-O-H When You Die” by Adam R. Goss, following a fallen space hero in his astonishing afterlife, more fantastic than he could possibly have imagined.

Honorable Mention: “The Captain” by Michael Simon, a three-time loser is sentenced to serve as the captain of a spaceship: does the punishment really fit the crime?

(14) INSIDE DIVERSITY. Whether Tim Waggoner’s advice proves valuable to the reader, it does surface a lot of good questions for writers to think about: “Mix it Up! Handling Diversity in Your Fiction”.

…I understand the basic idea of staying in your lane when it comes to diversity in fiction, and to a certain extent, I support it. I think writers shouldn’t try to tell a story meant to illuminate important aspects of another group’s experience. Only a person who was raised in and still is steeped in a culture/race/gender/etc. can ever know it well enough to write in-depth fiction exploring the issues that group faces. No amount of research can ever give you as authoritative an experience as someone who actually belongs a group other than your own, and you will never do as good a job as a writer from that group would at telling those stories. That said, I think if your story isn’t about the African-American experience or the gay experience, or the fill-in-the-blank experience, you can write from the point of view of a character unlike yourself if their racial/gender/cultural identity isn’t central to the story. Men in Black is a good example. Agents J and K could be people of any race, gender, or sexuality without having an appreciable impact on the film’s plot. (One does need to be older than the other, though.) Some character bits, such as J’s jokes which arise from his race would change, but the characters’ essential personalities and how they solve problems would remain the same. The story isn’t about J being black and K being white. It’s about the weird aspects of their job and saving the world. I’m perfectly comfortable writing from the point of view of someone with a different racial/ethnic/gender/sexual orientation background than myself in this circumstance. I focus on the character’s personality, and while their backgrounds will affect the expression of their character to a certain extent, I don’t attempt to delve very deep into their race, gender, sexuality, religion, etc. And if I do go a little deeper than usual, it’s because I have close relationships with people from those backgrounds, and I’m comfortable asking them if I misrepresented the group they belong to (or rather one of their groups, since we all belong to multiple ones).

(15) STREAMING GHIBLI. If you’re paying for the right streaming service, you’re in for a treat: “Studio Ghibli: Netflix buys rights to iconic animated films”.

Next month 21 films from the legendary Studio Ghibli are coming to Netflix.

It means new people will be introduced to “the ultimate escapism” of Studio Ghibli’s films – up until now they’ve only been available on DVD or illegally.

Some of its most famous films include the Oscar-winning Spirited Away, My Neighbour Totoro, and Howl’s Moving Castle.

“It will really give people the chance to enjoy a lot of classics that they may not know about but are famous in the anime world,” says Sarah Taylor, whose heart has “been with Ghibli” since she was 16 years old.

(16) WHAT GOES UP. BBC says “Barometric pressure in London ‘highest in 300 years’ at least” but no one’s head exploded.

The weather forecasters have just given us an impressive display of their skill by predicting the scale of the current high pressure zone over the UK.

Overnight, Sunday into Monday, London’s Heathrow Airport recorded a barometric pressure of 1,049.6 millibars (mbar).

It’s very likely the highest pressure ever recorded in London, with records dating back to 1692.

But the UK Met Office and the European Centre for Medium Range Forecasts had seen it coming well ahead of time.

“Computerised forecast models run by the Met Office and the ECMWF predicted this development with near pinpoint precision, forecasting the eventual position and intensity of the high pressure area several days in advance, before it had even begun to form,” said Stephen Burt, a visiting fellow at Reading University’s department of meteorology.

…”The reason for the extremely high pressure can be traced back to the rapid development of an intense low-pressure area off the eastern seaboard of the United States a few days previously (this is the storm that dumped around 75cm of snow in Newfoundland),” he explained.

(17) COULD CARRY ASTRONAUTS THIS YEAR. “SpaceX Celebrates Test Of Crew Dragon Capsule That Will Carry NASA Astronauts”, following up yesterday’s Pixel.

…With Sunday’s successful test, Musk, the CEO of SpaceX, said it is now “probable” that the first mission with astronauts on board could happen as early as the second quarter of 2020. He told reporters the test “went as well as one could possibly expect.”

(18) WHERE’S THE BEEF? Something else to do around CoNZealand:“‘Earth sandwich’ made by two men 20,000km apart”.

Two men in New Zealand and Spain have created an “Earth sandwich” – by placing slices of bread on precise points, either side of the planet.

The man behind the sandwich, Etienne Naude from Auckland, told the BBC he wanted to make one for “years”, but had struggled to find someone in Spain, on the other side of the globe.

He finally found someone after posting on the online message board, Reddit.

The men used longitude and latitude to make sure they were precisely opposite.

That meant there was around 12,724km (7,917 miles) of Earth packed between the slices – and some 20,000km between the men, for those forced to travel the conventional route.

…Mr Naude only had to travel a few hundred metres to find a suitable public spot on his side of the world. His Spanish counterpart had to travel 11 km (6.8 miles).

“It’s quite tough to find a spot which isn’t water on the New Zealand end – and where public roads or paths intersect in both sides,” Mr Naude said.

As if he hadn’t gone to enough effort, Mr Naude – a computer science student at Auckland University – made specially-decorated white bread for the occasion.

(19) VIDEO OF THE DAY. “Horror Musical Instrument — The Apprehension Engine” on YouTube shows off a machine that comes up with the electronic scary music used in horror movies.

[Thanks to N., Michael Toman, Chip Hitchcock, JJ, Martin Morse Wooster, Danny Sichel, Giant Panda, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, John King Tarpinian, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Ann Nimmhaus.]

Pixel Scroll 8/30/17 Two Little Pixels Sitting In A Tree, S-C-R-O-L-L-I-N-G…

(1) GONE IN 60 SECONDS. They did the Monster Mash on Terry Pratchett’s hard drive, fulfilling his request that his unfinished work be destroyed: “Terry Pratchett’s unfinished novels destroyed by steamroller”.

The unfinished books of Sir Terry Pratchett have been destroyed by a steamroller, following the late fantasy novelist’s wishes.

Pratchett’s hard drive was crushed by a vintage John Fowler & Co steamroller named Lord Jericho at the Great Dorset Steam Fair, ahead of the opening of a new exhibition about the author’s life and work.

…The hard drive will go on display as part of a major exhibition about the author’s life and work, Terry Pratchett: HisWorld, which opens at the Salisbury museum in September.

(2) FIFTH HUNDREDTH. StarShipSofa posted its 500th show today, a reading of Harlan Ellison’s Nebula-winning story “How Interesting: A Tiny Man” by George Hrab.

10 years young, StarShipSofa features the best of speculative fiction and fact articles, delivered weekly by host and editor Tony C. Smith, fiction editor Jeremy Szal, and authors, narrators, and contributors from all over the world. Born from the most humble beginnings, StarShipSofa has gone on to present works by legends and rising stars in the field, as well as showcasing new or lesser known voices, diverse authors and stories, and works in translation. Among many highlights over the last decade, StarShipSofa has presented exclusive interviews including Pat Cadigan, Ted Chiang, Ursula K. LeGuin, Samuel R. Delany, and the late Ray Bradbury.

Last week, Show 499 featured Joe Haldeman (Aug 23), and next week Show 501 will air a story by Robert Silverberg (Sept 6).

(3) SERRIED RANKS. Vox Day, in a post otherwise spent cutting down the Game of Thrones TV show and the writing of George R.R. Martin, “Compression and decompression”, includes an irresistible list that ranks the top epic fantasy authors. Does your mileage vary?

Here is how I rank the writers of epic fantasy:

  1. JRR Tolkien
  2. Stephen Donaldson (Covenant)
  3. Margaret Weis & Terry Hickman (Dragonlance)
  4. David Eddings (Belgariad)
  5. Glen Cook
  6. Steven Erikson
  7. Raymond Feist
  8. George RR Martin
  9. Joe Abercrombie
  10. CS Friedman
  11. Tad Williams
  12. Daniel Abraham
  13. Brandon Sanderson
  14. R. Scott Bakker
  15. Mark Lawrence
  16. Terry Brooks
  17. Robert Jordan
  18. Terry Goodkind

Obviously, your mileage may vary, as may what you consider to be “epic fantasy”. I would have Susan Cooper, Lloyd Alexander, Tanith Lee, and Anne McCaffrey all ranked above Dragonlance, but their work is better categorized in other categories.

(4) IT’S A THEORY. Dragon Con advocates make their case: “5 Reasons You Should Attend Dragon*Con This Year”.

After 31 years, it’s safe to say that Dragon*Con is not a fad. Last Labor Day weekend saw a record 77,000+ attendees roar into the streets of Atlanta, which beat the previous high from 2015. 2017 is on track to break the record yet again, with 82,000+ people expected to attend. By comparison, the Chick-Fil-A kickoff game between Georgia and North Carolina, which was at the Georgia Dome the same weekend last year, drew 75,000 people. It’s no secret that college football in the south is like a religion. Dragon*Con has officially become the go-to place for gamers, sci-fi, fantasy and pop culture fans to convene in the Southeast. Here are 5 reasons why you should attend this year.

  1. Fan-Centric

Unlike other big conventions around the nation (Comic Con, Wonder Con, etc), Dragon*Con remains the last big “fan-driven” con. Usually corporations sense the success of any event and put their grubby little hands all over it. Then, instead of enjoying yourself, it begins to feel like you’re walking in an ad. Dragon*Con’s popularity has done nothing but balloon over the last few years, but it still feels as fan-centric as when it started. It says a lot when you’re surrounded by 70,000+ other people and yet you still feel the intimacy and care put into each detail of the entire weekend. This factor is crucial for the first time con-goer, because it keeps everything from feeling as overwhelming as it could get.

(5) TESTING, TESTING. Coast-to-coast in half-an-hour? That’s the goal: “Anyone for the Hyperloop? Testing high-speed pods in a vacuum tube”.

“Guys, this is getting awkward,” billionaire Elon Musk told a group of students from Switzerland as they struggled to control their Hyperloop pod.

If all goes well, their pod would eventually travel at more than 700mph (1,120km/h), propelling people between Los Angeles and San Francisco in half an hour, instead of six hours in a car or an hour-long flight.

But this is early days and the students are testing their pod for the first time on a nearly mile-long vacuum tube track outside Mr Musk’s office in Hawthorne near Los Angeles.

They’d lost connectivity. The vacuum needs to be unsealed and the pod fiddled with. Then the vacuum must be resealed and all the air inside pumped out. Revolutionising transport takes time

… None went even close to 700mph, but the winners, German’s Warr team from the Technical University of Munich, blew away the competition.

“Congratulations to the Warr team,” Mr Musk said as the crowd of students applauded. “That was an amazing job. That pod just went 324km/h, over 200mph.”

(6) SOMETHING OLD, SOMETHING NEW. The BBC says “Cassini hints at young age for Saturn’s rings”.

The spectacular rings of Saturn may be relatively young, perhaps just 100 million years or so old.

This is the early interpretation of data gathered by the Cassini spacecraft on its final orbits of the giant world.

The same article includes the precise time the probe is expected to break up. A little over two weeks from now.

Cassini is scheduled to make only two more close-in passes before driving itself to destruction in Saturn’s atmosphere on 15 September.

The probe is being disposed of in this way because it will soon run out of fuel. That would render it uncontrollable, and mission managers at the US space agency Nasa do not want it crashing into – and contaminating – moons that could conceivably host microbial lifeforms.

Cassini will melt and be torn apart as it dives into the planet’s gases at over 120,000km/h. Controllers will know the probe has been destroyed when Earth antennas lose radio contact, which is expected to occur at 11:54 GMT (12:54 BST; 07:54 EDT; 04:54 PDT) on Friday 15 September.

(7) TODAY’S DAYS

Frankenstein Day

The crackle of electricity, and the patter of rain drops on the stone walls and terracotta roof give an eerie feeling when combined with the dank laboratory that houses various experiments. Give yourself a bit of liquid courage, and step forward to embrace a little bit of darkness in Frankenstein Day.

Slinky Day

The Slinky was originally designed and sold in the 1940s. The inventor had accidentally knocked a spring off the shelf, and watched it ‘walk’ down a series of books, to a tabletop, and then to the floor where it neatly coiled itself. The creator, Richard James, had gone home to his wife Betty and said “I think if I got the right property of steel and the right tension, I could make it walk. ” It took the better part of a year, but he had done it. Making 400 Slinky units with a five hundred dollar loan, James and his wife had founded a company to make, and sell, this unique toy to the masses.

(8) TIPTREE FELLOWSHIPS. Applications are being taken for this year’s Tiptree Fellowships until September 15. The $500 grants are given to emerging creators “who are changing the way we think about gender through speculative narrative.”

Tiptree Fellows can be writers, artists, scholars, media makers, remix artists, performers, musicians, or something else entirely; so far our Fellows have been creators of visual art, poetry, fiction, and games.

The Tiptree Fellowship is designed to provide support and recognition for the new voices who are making visible the forces that are changing our view of gender today. The Fellowship Committee particularly encourages applications from members of communities that have been historically underrepresented in the science fiction and fantasy genre and from creators who are creating speculative narratives in media other than traditional fiction

Applicants will need to write short responses to two questions and to share a sample of their work. The guidelines are at this link.

The 2017 Tiptree Fellowships selection committee is Gretchen Treu (chair), Mia Sereno, Porpentine Charity Heartscape, and Pat Schmatz.

(9) OTHER COVENANTS. ChiZine Publications has opened a call for submissions for Other Covenants: Alternate Histories of the Jewish People, by award-winning writers and editors Andrea D. Lobel and Mark Shainblum. Contributors already confirmed include science fiction grand masters Harry Turtledove and Jack Dann.

Boy Eating

Other Covenants is now open to submissions of short fiction, through Sunday, Feb. 4, 2018, at 11:59 PM Eastern Time. Submissions must be between 1,000 and 10,000 words in length, and may be in English or French (the book will be published in English and authors will be responsible for translations). Original stories are preferred, but the editors will consider reprints of significant works on a case-by-case basis. Payment will be 8 cents (Canadian funds) per word. Authors may be from anywhere in the world and do not need to be Jewish.

Full submission guidelines and the online submission system are here.

(10) TEQUILA! He knows how to set up the perfect shot – whether in the studio or at the bar:  “Film Director Guillermo del Toro’s Exclusive Tequila Project”.

Patrón Tequila just released a special edition that you helped create. Can you tell me about the project?

“The idea was to create a centerpiece and make the tequila the centerpiece of the centerpiece. It’s a shrine. And I think it looks beautiful as the centerpiece of any bar.”

How long did it take you to design the intricate bottle and case?

“You know we went through many permutations. In total, the whole adventure took three and a half years. First the idea was a reliquary but reliquary for me is too European and I thought altar. And we started thinking of a journey narratively for the box. First and foremost, the box is covered in a black suede with a silver skull. You start with black and then you open it and you see the box, which depicts all the stages of the processing of tequila, which is being done by skeletons to signal the ancestral tradition. Then all of a sudden you go from black to that beautiful two-dimensional box and then you open the wings and you reveal huge color and three-dimensions. You end up having a journey. You have votive candles that you can light. It’s a very beautiful piece.”

The maker’s website has a photo-filled display about how Del Toro came up with the design, and how all the components look, both in and out of the box.

 

(11) FANDOM AT THE GALLOP. The 18th issue of Rich Lynch’s personal fanthology My Back Pages is now online at the efanzines.com website.

Issue #18 notes my absence from both this year’s Worldcon and NASFiC, and has essays involving colonial debates, rescued conventions, curated fanzine collections, golden domes, long escalators, large aquariums, famous domiciles, notable science fiction fans, extinct stadiums, lingering controversies, divine ideas, memorable encounters, autographed books, enigmatic composers, 50-year reunions, fuel-efficient vehicles, personal records, motorcycle rallies, art museums, scenic sunsets, medieval cathedrals, and lots of snow-covered mountainous terrain.

(12) WHAT GOES UP. Another theory to explain dinosaur extinction: a “reverse gravitational event.” Proposed by James Propp at BAHFest East 2017.

(13) MUST COME DOWN. The Hollywood Reporter remembers “That Time on ‘Batman’ When Alfred Fought the Joker”.

And with it being made clear in the new Justice League trailer (which already has more than 23 million views on YouTube) that Jeremy Irons’ incarnation will once again take a more hands-on role with Batman’s adventures, it is time to look back at the heroics of the first live-action Alfred, played by Alan Napier.

Napier, who died in 1988 at the age 85, appeared as Alfred in all 120 episodes of the 1960s Batman television series.

And of all that character’s most memorable moments, the top one has to be when he fought The Joker (Cesar Romero), who forced his way into Wayne Manor with a hostage in the season two episode, “Flop Goes The Joker.” The best part of the three-minute clip is when Alfred and The Joker sword fight with fire[place] pokers.

 

[Thanks to JJ, John King Tarpinian, Cat Eldridge, Daniel Dern, Mark-kitteh, IanP, Rich Lynch, and Alan Baumler for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Soon Lee.]

Thanks For Playing

Shaun Duke’s fame is spreading across the internet today thanks to his post “2012 Hugo Nominations: Preliminary Thoughts”, replete with gems of wisdom like —

StarShipSofa is not a fancast.  It is an audio fiction magazine like EscapePod, etc.  It does not produce fan content.  It produces magazine content.  Stop putting it alongside podcasts which actually produce fan content…

I love reading someone adamantly declare a nominee is ineligible for the Hugo category deliberately created to house it.

Craig Miller said it best: “A lack of actual information has frequently not hindered fans from holding and expressing strong opinions on a subject.”

Occam’s Starship

On February 16, Matthew Sanborn Smith ignited a controversy by advocating that people nominate StarShipSofa for the Best Fanzine Hugo:

Because of a rewording of the rules, The StarShipSofa podcast could be eligible for nomination for the Best Fanzine Hugo. Wait. Could be? The truth is, we can’t know for sure until we get in somebody’s face and force the issue by actually scoring nominations from lots and lots of people. You happen to be one of lots and lots of people.

The idea stirred up resistance in some familiar corners of fandom, partly because unlike most fanzines StarShipSofa presents fiction, making it comparable to last year’s winner Electric Velocipede, and partly because StarShipSofa is done as an audio podcast, therefore (of course) is not in the form of text.

The idea also has its defenders. On Cheryl Morgan’s site both sides got a thorough airing.

Their discussion interested me quite a bit. In one of the exchanges Chris Garcia commented, “But still, I can’t think of any way in which a Podcast isn’t a dramatic presentation or that a Podcast IS a fanzine.” And Cheryl Morgan, defending the eligibility of a podcast magazine for Best Fanzine, tried to convince Chris to rethink his argument by challenging him with this extrapolation: “And what would [you] say if Tony used a speech-to-text converter to put transcripts of Star Ship Sofa episodes online as text? Would that suddenly make it a fanzine?” I was fascinated by the whole philosophy-of-fanzines debate.

But when I’d finished reading I wondered if something important had been overlooked. Matthew Sanborn Smith’s fervently desired constitutional crisis can’t possibly arise because Hugo Administrator Vincent Docherty won’t be forced to decide if a podcast is eligible. Here’s why.

People who nominate StarShipSofa are simply writing down “StarShipSofa” on their ballots. They are not writing down “StarShipSofa — only the podcast, nothing else.” Where the podcasts are posted is http://www.starshipsofa.com/, an extensive, regularly updated website — which seems unquestionably eligible for the Best Fanzine Hugo under the new rules. Even if Vincent Docherty has a problem with the eligibility of a podcast (no way of knowing) he has no reason to let the existence of the podcast prevent him from attributing the nominating votes to the perfectly eligible same-named website.

Invisible Ansible

Cheryl Morgan’s indignant post “Now I’m Invisible” shamed Starship Sofa guest editorialist Jason Sanford into announcing that he would make a “correction” to identify Emerald City as the first winner of the Best Fanzine Hugo to be primarily published online, and not Electric Velocipede as he had said.

The problem is that neither fanzine with a dog in the fight is entitled to claim that distinction.

It belongs to Ansible.

I could get a copy of Ansible e-mailed to me at least as long ago as January 1995, before Emerald City ever started publishing. In time, Ansible also could be retrieved by FTP, read on newsgroups and accessed on the web.

Not that it’s clear to me the distinction “primarily published online” is worth losing any sleep over. All three fanzines are/were distributed in more than one medium and it’s rather arbitrary to pick one as being “primary.” Electric Velocipede (2009) and Emerald City (2004) were both (at the time they won) fanzines with paper and web editions. (It is beyond counting how many times Cheryl Morgan has scolded inkstained trufen not to forget the existence of those paper copies of Emerald City.) And while Ansible distributed large numbers of paper copies, the electronic version, relayed by a variety of technologies, became the predominant source of sf news for a large and ever-growing online readership.

But any glory in owning this title properly belongs to Ansible.

Amy Sturgis Gives Voice to Science Fiction

Amy H. Sturgis has begun narrating contemporary science fiction stories for the U. K. audio science fiction magazine StarShipSofa. Her first assignment is Elizabeth Bear’s “And The Deep Blue Sea.”

She’s also become a monthly contributor to StarShipSofa’s “Aural Delights” Wednesday program, providing commentary about science fiction topics. You’ll find her first installment here approximately 10 minutes into the podcast.

[Thanks to Andrew Porter for the link, via the Middle Tennessee Science Fiction Club newsletter.]