Pixel Scroll 3/3/21 The Pixels Are Due On Scroll Street

(1) TERRY AND THE WIZARD. [Item by rcade.] Twitter user Edgar Allen Doe shares the tale of the day he went to Copperfield’s Books in Petaluma, California, and met the fantasy author Terry Prachett, who met a wizard. Thread starts here.

Doe writes, “I really cannot overstate the ‘full wizard regalia’ element of this person.”

Prepare to take a journey spanning six tweets that does not go the way you think it will, you jaded cynic.

One of the people who saw the tweets also witnessed the meeting, which based on a Petaluma Argus-Courier news search I did likely occurred on Oct. 15, 2006.

(2) THE HORROR. James Davis Nicoll chronicles “Five Fascinating Twists on Cosmic Horror” at Tor.com.

…Now in its seventh edition, Call of Cthulhu is the second most popular roleplaying game on Roll20. It reportedly dominates the roleplaying market in Japan. That’s interesting, because unlike most RPGs, Call of Cthulhu (or CoC for short) is set in a universe where humans are not top dog, where there are vast, incomprehensible entities who refrain from snuffing us out mainly because they’ve never noticed us, where First Contact is often Last Contact. Characters in CoC generally spend the adventure or campaign coming to grips with how out of their depth they are—before going mad. If they are very lucky, they’re eaten first….

What more do you need to cheer yourself up?

(3) THE UNKNOWN PAST. “Doctor Who’s The Timeless Children – Morbius Doctors confirmed”Radio Times knows this is a big deal and makes sure you don’t miss it.

Doctor Who’s series 12 finale The Timeless Children dropped a number of huge reveals – but one of these twists was actually first telegraphed by the show back in 1976.

The episode revealed that the Doctor is not a native Gallifreyan, but the latest incarnation of a mysterious being called the Timeless Child, from parts unknown.

The Child or ‘Foundling’ – the first being to ever regenerate – had many different incarnations, many of which were wiped from their mind by the Time Lords (specifically by a sect of Gallifreyans called The Division).

This means that there were in fact an unknown number of incarnations of the being we now know as the Doctor before the ‘first’ (as played by William Hartnell from 1963-66).

Huge reveal, right? But this twist is not without precedent – as RadioTimes.com previously predicted, The Timeless Children has links to the 1976 Doctor Who story The Brain of Morbius, starring Tom Baker as the Doctor.

And the article goes on to glean details of the 1976 episode.

(4) WHO, RAY? “Who Is R. A. Lafferty? And Is He the Best Sci-Fi Writer Ever?” WIRED reviewer Jason Kehe does all he can to provoke us into reading The Best of R. A. Lafferty, “which Tor published earlier this year to nonexistent fanfare.”

…OK, SO A select few actually have read Lafferty, a secret society of loonies whose names you probably do recognize. Neil Gaiman. Ursula Le Guin. Samuel Delany. Other sci-fi writers, in other words. R. A. Lafferty has always been, then, a sci-fi writer’s sci-fi writer—a blurry, far-out position to find oneself in. When comedians hang out, they famously have to commit acts of borderline criminality, usually involving nudity and great heights, to get each other to bust up. So just think what absurdities a sci-fi writer has to conjure forth to gobsmack his fellow sci-fi writers—sci-fi writers who actually are, by much wider consensus, some of the best in the world.

The descriptor they tend to resort to, as if by no other choice, is sui generis, dusty old Latin for “one of a kind.” It’s probably the most common phrase associated with Lafferty (incidentally a self-taught student of Latin), and it appears not once but twice in The Best of R. A. Lafferty, which Tor published earlier this year to nonexistent fanfare and which, in keeping with the man’s self-aggrandizing sense of humor, should’ve been called The Best (of the Best) of R. A. Lafferty. Each of the 22 short stories is introduced by a writer often far more famous than Lafferty, including Gaiman and Delany, and also John Scalzi, Jeff VanderMeer, Connie Willis, and Harlan Ellison (who’s dead; his piece was originally published in 1967). Ellison—whose fellow Ellison, Ralph, wrote Invisible Man—says this of Lafferty: “He is the invisible man.” Nice….

(5) CAVEAT EMPTOR. Mad Genius Club’s Sarah A. Hoyt, in “Time has come to talk of many things”, says a fashion style in sff book covers will rebound on publishers when readers find the books don’t deliver what’s on their jackets.

I want to talk about a new trend I’ve observed in covers, and how it applies to much of the greater world out there. I.e. how the new trend in covers is just a new way that traditional publishing has come up with to screw itself and the entire field of writing over.

… If you have been alive a long time, or even if you “just” read books for a long time, you’re probably aware that there are trends in covers, as there are in everything else. In covers, though, particularly in the era of mega-chain bookstores, that “look” not only tended/tends to be more uniform, but it changes completely….

And then…. I kept running into more of these covers from other houses. Covers that explicitly try to look like they’re at the latest in the 50s.

Look, as a marketing strategy it’s brilliant. And stupid as heck.

Why?

Well, because now people are getting used to looking at Amazon for books that they remember reading/used to read/etc. they will be drawn to covers that are what they remember when they fell in love with a genre.

The problem is this: for most of the mainstream publishing, the contents won’t match the cover.

And yes, I can see them totally preening and going “if we get the rubes to look at our much superior product, they’ll love it.”

Because, you know, in the industry, it’s never about publishing what people want to read. It’s about “educating” the public. Which has taken them from 100K plus printruns for midlist to 10k printruns for high list….

(6) DR. SEUSS’ WWII POLITICAL CARTOONS. At “Dr. Seuss Went to War”, UC San Diego hosts a searchable gallery of his editorial cartoons from before and during WWII. Having discussed just yesterday the criticisms levied against his imagery of nonwhites, it’s interesting to see that some of these 1940s cartoons go after America’s leading racists of the time such as Gerald L.K. Smith.

Because of the fame of his children’s books (and because we often misunderstand these books) and because his political cartoons have remained largely unknown, we do not think of Dr. Seuss as a political cartoonist. But for two years, 1941-1943, he was the chief editorial cartoonist for the New York newspaper PM (1940-1948), and for that journal he drew over 400 editorial cartoons.

The Dr. Seuss Collection in the Mandeville Special Collections Library at the University of California, San Diego, contains the original drawings and/or newspaper clippings of all of these cartoons. This website makes these cartoons available to all internet users. The cartoons have been scanned from the original newspaper clippings in the UCSD collection.

Dr. Seuss Goes to War by historian Richard H. Minear (The New Press, 1999) reproduced some two hundred of the PM cartoons. That means that two hundred of the cartoons available here have received no airing or study since their original appearance in PM. The cartoons Dr. Seuss published in other journals are even less known; there is no mention of them in Dr. Seuss Goes to War. Dr. Seuss also drew a set of war bonds “cartoons” which appeared in many newspapers as well as in PM

(7) MEDIA BIRTHDAYS.

[Double feature!]

  • March 3, 1965 — On this day in 1965, The Human Duplicators premiered. It was produced and directed by Hugo Grimaldi and Arthur C. Pierce (without a credit for the latter as director). The film stars George Nader, Barbara Nichols, George Macready and Dolores Faith. It was the color feature on a double bill with the black-and-white Mutiny in Outer Space. It wasn’t well received by critics, and Mystery Science Theater 3000 gave it their usual treatment. It currently holds a zero percent audience rating at Rotten Tomatoes. You can see it here. (CE)
  • March 3, 1965 — On this day in 1965, Mutiny in Space premiered. It was, produced, directed and written by Hugo Grimaldi and Arthur C. Pierce (although the latter was not credited as directing). It starred William Leslie, Dolores Faith, Pamela Curran and Richard Garland. The word “meh” would best sum up the reaction critics at the time had to this film. It has no rating at Rotten Tomatoes so you’ll need to watch it here and see what you think of it. (CE)

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]

  • Born March 3, 1863 Arthur Machen. His novella “The Great God Pan” published in 1890 has garnered a reputation as a classic of horror, with Stephen King describing it as “Maybe the best horror story in the English language.” His The Three Impostors; or, The Transmutations 1895 novel is considered a precursor to Lovecraft and was reprinted in paperback by Ballantine Books in the Seventies. (Died 1947.) (CE) 
  • Born March 3, 1920 James Doohan. Montgomery “Scotty” Scott on Trek of course. His first genre appearance was in Outer Limits as Police Lt. Branch followed by being a SDI Agent at Gas Station in The Satan Bug film before getting the Trek gig. He filmed a Man from U.N.C.L.E.film, One of Our Spies Is Missing, in which he played Phillip Bainbridge.  Doohan did nothing that I can find of a genre nature post-Trek. ISFDB notes that he did three Scotty novels co-written with S.M. Stirling. (Died 2005.) (CE) 
  • Born March 3, 1923 – Erik Blegvad.  Illustrated more than a hundred children’s books; as ever, opinions will differ on which we can count.  Apprenticed in a machine shop, left it when the Nazis took Denmark, imprisoned for distributing Danish Resistance literature, eventually translated for the British.  Self-Portrait 1979.  Three of Sharp’s Miss Bianca books (Miss B is a mouse); Bed-Knob and Broomstick – his cover, one of his interiors; his own translation of Hans Andersen. Washington Post appreciation here. (Died 2014) [JH]
  • Born March 3, 1924 Catherine Downs. She’s in four Fifties grade B SF films: The Phantom from 10,000 LeaguesThe She CreatureThe Amazing Colossal Man and Missile to the Moon. All but the first film werewas the subject of a MST3K show. (Died 1976.) (CE) 
  • Born March 3, 1928 – Paul Callé.  (“KAL-lee”.)  Known for NASA work, see this bookhere is an Apollo XI drawing; see more of his Space art here.  It is of course open to the rejoinder Not fiction.  Here is The Legion of Space.  Here is The Star Seekers.  Here is an interior from the Jul 50 Super Science Stories.  He did much with the American West (i.e. U.S. and Canada); see how each person is portrayed here.  His pencil book here.  (Died 2010) [JH]
  • Born March 3, 1936 Donald E. Morse, 85. Author of the single best book done on Holdstock, The Mythic Fantasy of Robert Holdstock: Critical Essays on the Fiction which he co-wrote according to ISFDB with Kalman Matolcsy. I see he also did two books on Kurt Vonnegut and the Anatomy of Science Fiction on the intersection between SF and society at large which sounds fascinating. (CE) 
  • Born March 3, 1938 – Patricia MacLachlan, age 83.  A novel and four shorter stories for us; thirty other books, one winning a Newbery Medal, one about Matisse; still writing, most recently published last June.  [JH]
  • Born March 3, 1945 George Miller, 76. Best known for his Mad Max franchise, The Road Warrior,  Mad Max 2Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome andFury Road.  He also directed The Nightmare at 20,000 Feet segment of the Twilight Zone film, The Witches of EastwickBabe and 40,000 Years of Dreaming. (CE) 
  • Born March 3, 1955 – Greg Feeley, age 66.  Two novels, thirty shorter stories for us.  I keep heaing he’s turned in Hamlet the Magician, but not when we may expect it.  Here is a note on Robinson, Le Guin, Clute, Egan.  Here is a note on Thurber’s “Catbird Seat”.  Here is “Why I Love Laurence Sterne Scholarship”.  Four dozen reviews in FoundationSF Age, and like that.  Interviewed Waldrop for Interzone.  Himself interviewed in Lightspeed.  [JH]
  • Born March 3, 1970 – John Carter Cash, age 51.  Indeed the son of that Cash and that Carter.  While mostly in music outside our field, he’s given us one book.  Website.  [JH]
  • Born March 3, 1982 Jessica Biel, 49. A number of interesting genre films including The Texas Chainsaw MassacreBlade: TrinityStealthThe Illusionist, the remake of Total Recall which I confess I’ve not seen, and theanimatedSpark: A Space Tail. (CE) 
  • Born March 3, 1981 – Kiersten Fay, age 40.  Ten novels, one shorter story, of paranormal romance with demons and vampires.  She’s a USA Today best-selling author.  [JH]

(9) SINCE YOU ASKED. On Drew Barrymore’s show “Stephen King Confesses He Didn’t Like The Shining Movie”. He gives his opinion at about the 1-minute mark.

(10) A CLOSE SHAVE. Amazon’s new icon got an immediate re-iteration because the old “new” made people think of Hitler’s toothbrush mustache. CNN has the story — “Amazon quietly changed its app icon after some unfavorable comparisons”.

… “We designed the new icon to spark anticipation, excitement, and joy when customers start their shopping journey on their phone, just as they do when they see our boxes on their door step,” an Amazon spokesperson said. The app icon was tweaked based on user feedback.

Only iOS users in the United Kingdom, Spain, Italy and Netherlands saw the Hitler-esque logo over the past few weeks. The updated logo rolled out worldwide for iOS users last week. Android users will see the new logo beginning this week.

(11) NAVIGATING LONELINESS. [Item by Michael Toman.] Best Wishes From a Guy Lashed to the Mast of Loneliness, Listening for So Far Silent Sirens — “Kristen Radtke Writes, and Draws, Our Loneliness” at Publishers Weekly.

When Kristen Radtke started writing about loneliness in 2016, she had no idea of what was to come. Writers are famously prescient, but who could have imagined the global pandemic of Covid-19 and the isolation it would generate? Seek You: A Journey Through American Loneliness (Pantheon, July), Radtke’s latest graphic nonfiction book, is a marvelous deep dive into that universal emotion, blending science, memoir, journalism, research, philosophy, and pop culture to explore isolation and our desire to be close to one another….

(12) HOPING TO PREDICT SOLAR WEATHER. “Origin of the Sun’s solar storms discovered in scientific breakthrough” reports Yahoo!

…In 1859, a large solar storm called the Carrington Event caused widespread issues with telegraph systems across Europe and the United States.

A repeat storm of such magnitude today could be far more devastating.

But now researchers at University College London (UCL) and George Mason University in the US believe they have located where on the Sun these particles come from, in a bid to better predict when they might strike again.

Their findings, published in Science Advances journal, indicate that the particles have the same “fingerprint” as plasma located low in the Sun’s corona, close to the middle region of the it’s atmosphere.

“In our study we have observed for the first time exactly where solar energetic particles come from on the Sun,” said co-author Dr Stephanie Yardley, from UCL….

(13) VIDEO OF THE DAY. In “Kill Your Idioms” on Vimeo, Grant Kolton takes aim at well-worn cliches.

[Thanks to Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, Martin Morse Wooster, Michael J. Walsh, John King Tarpinian, JJ, Dave Doering, John Hertz, Cat Eldridge, and Michael Toman for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Paul Weimer.]

Pixel Scroll 2/28/21 Chasing A Blanched Scroll Across The File With A Pixel Fork

(1) THE VOICE OF THE FUTURE. Wil Wheaton has been picked to narrate How to Avoid a Climate Disaster by Bill Gates.

Even Wheaton is impressed.

Did I mention that Bill Gates allegedly chose me, personally? Because holy h*ck he did. He chose me. Personally. Out of everyone in the world who does my job, he picked me. That kinda blows my mind.

(2) WORLDCON HOTEL. DisCon III, the 2021 Worldcon, posted their biweekly hotel update: “2/28 Hotel Update”.

We have retained legal counsel in Delaware, which is the location of the Wardman Park bankruptcy proceedings. We are working with our legal counsel to move closer to a resolution, and we hope to provide you more concrete information as the process progresses.

(3) IGN PREVIEWS DC. IGN Fan Fest 2021 took place today where DC shared clips from Justice Society: World War II and  a premiere clip of The Flash‘s seventh season

  • Justice Society: World War II – Official Exclusive Wonder Woman vs Nazis Clip

In this exclusive sneak peek at Warner Bros. Animation’s latest DC animated movie, Justice Society: World War 2, Wonder Woman faces off with a group of Nazi soldiers. The new film finds modern-day Barry Allen – prior to the formation of the Justice League – discovering he can run even faster than he imagined, and that milestone results in his first encounter with the Speed Force. The Flash is promptly launched into the midst of a raging battle – primarily between Nazis and a team of Golden Age DC Super Heroes known as The Justice Society of America. Led by Wonder Woman, the group includes Hourman, Black Canary, Hawkman, Steve Trevor and the Golden Age Flash, Jay Garrick. The Flash quickly volunteers to assist his fellow heroes in tipping the scales of war in their favor, while the team tries to figure out how to send him home. But it won’t be easy as complications and emotions run deep in this time-skipping World War II thriller. Justice Society: World War II will be available to purchase on Digital starting April 27, 2021, and on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Combo Pack and Blu-ray on May 11, 2021.

  • The Flash: Season 7 Premiere – Official Exclusive Clip

In this exclusive clip from the long-awaited Season 7 premiere of The Flash, Barry races against the clock to stop Mirror Master and rescue Iris before his speed permanently runs out. “All’s Well That Ends Wells” will premiere on The CW on Tuesday, March 2.

(4) I, WITNESS. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] Isaac Asimov’s autobiography In Joy Still Felt, published in 1980, offers his explanation of fanzines and fandom in 1955.  (I’ve omitted the details of the fan feud he was involved in.)

Fan magazines are produced by fans and exist, literally, in the hundreds.  All but a very few are evanescent and exist for only a few issues before the time and the costs become insupportable.

I have no theoretical objection to write an occasional piece for love, but I have always steered clear of the fan magazines. There are so many that to write for one will mark you down as a target for the others and you will be nibbled to death…

…Though I had been an almost lifelong reader of science fiction, though I had written letters to magazines, though I had even involved myself with the Futurians, I had never immersed myself in what was called ‘fandom.’

I had no experience whatsoever with the ferocious single-mindedness with which this handful of people lived their science fiction.  They interpreted literally among us the catchphrase that ‘Fandom is a way of life.’

What ever these enthusiasts could earn in their work they invested in their collections, or in their fan magazines. Their time was entirely devoted to their correspondence and to their meetings. Often, in fact, their fan activities crowded out the basis on which it was all founded–for they were so busy being fans of science fiction, they lacked the time to read science fiction.

Fans knew each other, loved each other, hated each other, formed cliques and threatened lawsuits, and, in short, formed a small subculture to which everything else in the world seemed alien and of no account.

News spread through fandom at the speed of light, even though it might never so much touch the world outside  Any controversy involving fandom or the fan world elicited a joyful response at once as a vast number of fans (well, dozens anyway) plunged into the fray–on either side, it didn’t matter which.

(5) OLD BIRDBATH. And speaking of Fifties fandom…I Remember Me and Other Narratives – Walt Willis in Mimosa compiled by Rich Lynch is now available at Fanac.org. Includes this passage about a 1954 exchange between Willis and then-fanzine-editor Harlan Ellison.

….I did, however, get a letter from Harlan Ellison, about a phone call he made to me, an enterprise which was slightly handicapped by the fact that I didn’t have a phone at the time. He got my father’s house, which was a block away, and my sister didn’t come and get me because it was raining.

[From Ellison’s letter] “To say I’m merely angry or hurt would be a gross understatement. I’m completely devastated. You sent me ‘Mike Hammer at the Philcon,’ and I sent it out to be illustrated. Sure, it took me a year to get to it, but I was suspended with college work. Now when I have it on stencil and run off and announced as in the next issue with illos by Nasman Peterson, I pick up Mari Wolf’s column and see Space Times has already pubbed it. I’m really in a mess with the thing, and personally I think it was both poor taste on your part and a gross injustice not to at least write and tell me what had happened, before you sent a carbon to anyone else…”

I replied as follows. “Dear Harlan, Come now, old Birdbath. In the first place, how do you expect me to know you wanted the MS if you didn’t even acknowledge it? You wrote several times asking me to do something for you, but when I did send it there wasn’t another peep out of you. In fact, you folded your fanzine, retired from fandom, and changed your address. Not that I thought all this was on account of the MS, but in the absence of any acknowledgement or mention of it in any of your blurbs except the last one, how was I to know you were going to publish it?… Chuck Harris was staying with me at the time. The mail had just arrived, he had got five letters and there were none for me, and he was pulling my leg about my fan status having declined. Then my sister came round with the news that there had been a phone call from a Mr. Ellison of Ohio. Thanks, pal. All the best. Walter.”

This was at a time when transatlantic phone calls were almost unheard of in fandom. My recollection is that Chuck asked me, did I often get phone calls from American fans, and I said, “Only when it’s something important.”

(6) STRONACH INTERVIEWS LUCAS. In “An interview with Casey Lucas, moments before the avalanche hits” at The Spinoff, Alexander Stronach interviews the person he’s been friends with the longest, a Wellington science fiction and fantasy writer on the brink of world domination. (Alexander Stronach is Sasha Stronach, 2020 Sir Julius Vogel Winner for Best Novel, and Casey Lucas is the winner of the 2020 Sir Julius Vogel Award for Best Short Story.)

…Casey Lucas is a Swiss army knife. Casey Lucas is six feet tall and extremely bisexual. Casey Lucas is back from the dead (again). Casey Lucas is – finally, after years of dedication and hard work – on the cusp of very big things.

In the last year she’s won one of New Zealand’s highest honours for science fiction and fantasy writing, she’s worked on the wildly popular games Mini Metro and Mini Motorways, she’s run a workshop at Clarion West (possibly the most prestigious SF/F workshop in the world), she’s edited 30 graphic novels, she’s been hired to work on the next block of collectible card game Magic: the Gathering, and now her post-apocalyptic fungal fantasy web serial Into the Mire has picked up a prestigious international agent and is poised to go out to publishers.

Casey Lucas is, for lack of a better word, utterly singular, and today I’m getting deep in the weeds with her about success, trauma, M*A*S*H, and the impossible vastness of stone.

Alex Stronach: So you’re an “overnight success” now. What’s the spell look like? Who do I gotta kill? 

Casey Lucas: Success in publishing is like an avalanche. You only see the snow rushing at you, but it took millions of exhausting years and lots of earthquakes for that mountain to yank itself up out of the sea, and you don’t get the avalanche without a mountain for it to roll down….

(7) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

February 28, 1993 — On this date in 1993, Journey to the Center of the Earth first aired on NBC. It was intended as the pilot for a series but that never happened. It’s based on the novel of the same by Jules Verne. It is one of at least seven adaptations of the Verne novel to date so far. It was by William Dear from the screenplay by David Evans and William Gunter. It starred David Dundara, Farrah Forke, Tim Russ, Jeffrey Nordling and John Neville. No, it was not well received by the audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes where it has a rating of just eighteen percent. And Screen Rant dubbed it the worst adaptation of the novel ever done.

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]

  • Born February 28, 1820 – Sir John Tenniel.  Had he only illustrated Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass, it would have been enough for us.  He also illustrated an edition of the Ingoldsby Legends – so well known in the U.K. that Dorothy L. Sayers has Lord Peter Wimsey quoting them as late as Five Red Herrings (1931) and The Nine Tailors (1934).  JT drew 2,300 cartoons for Punch.  His knighthood (1893) was the first ever given to an illustrator.  (Died 1914) [JH]
  • Born February 28, 1875 – Maurice Renard.  Pioneering SF writer (d’accord, honors to Rosny aîné).  MR’s Dr. Lerne (1908) was a great Mad Scientist.  The Blue Peril is a decade earlier than The Book of the Damned and, I dare say it, kinder.  The Man Who Wanted to Be Invisible doesn’t “ruin” The Invisible Man – MR dedicated Le docteur Lerne to Wells – but faces, you should pardon the expression, the optics.  Half a dozen novels, ninety shorter stories.  (Died 1939) [JH]
  • Born February 28, 1913 John Coleman Burroughs. An illustrator known for his illustrations of the works of his father, Edgar Rice Burroughs. At age 23, he was given the chance to illustrate his father’s book, The Oakdale Affair and the Rider which was published in 1937. He went on to illustrate all of  his father’s books published during the author’s lifetime — a total of over 125 illustrations.  He also illustrated the John Carter Sunday newspaper strip, a David Innes of Pellucidar comic book feature and myriad Big Little Book covers. I remember the latter books — they were always to be found about the house during my childhood. (Died 1979.) (CE)
  • Born February 28, 1928 Walter Tevis. Author of The Man Who Fell to Earth which became the basis of the film of the same name starring David Bowie. There’s apparently a series planned off it. He also two other SF novels, The Steps of The Sun and Mockingbird. All of his work is available from the usual digital sources. (Died 1984.) (CE) 
  • Born February 28, 1942 Terry Jones. Member of Monty Python who was considered the originator of the program’s structure in which sketches flowed from one to the next without the use of punchlines. He made his directorial debut with Monty Python and the Holy Grail, which he co-directed with Gilliam, and also directed Life of Brian and The Meaning of Life. He also wrote an early draft of Jim Henson’s 1986 film Labyrinth, though little of that draft remains in the final version. (Died 2020.) (CE) 
  • Born February 28, 1946 – Leanne Frahm, age 75.  Two Ditmars as Best Fanwriter; two others, and an Aurealis, for fiction.  Seen in SF Commentary (and The Metaphysical Review); Souvenir Book for Aussiecon Three the 57th Worldcon – the year Greg Benford said “Certainly, thank you.  Are you inviting me to be Fan Guest of Honor or Pro Guest of Honor?”  Two dozen short stories (one with Terry Carr! anthologized in Stellar 7; another in TC’s Universe 13).  [JH]
  • Born February 28, 1948 – Donna Jo Napoli, Ph.D., age 73.  Fourscore novels – opinions may differ on what under “children’s” we should count.  Writes for us when not too busy as a linguist, she’s a professor at Swarthmore.  Arabian Nights, Egyptian, Greek, Norse tales for National Geographic.  Golden Kite Award, Sydney Taylor Award, Parents’ Choice Gold and Silver Awards.  Bimodal videobooks which hearing parents can read – I don’t know what else to call it – to deaf children.  [JH]
  • Born February 28, 1957 John Barnes, 64. I read and really liked the four novels in his Thousand Cultures series which are a sort of updated Heinleinian take on the spread of humanity across the Galaxy. What else by him do y’all like? He’s decently stocked by the usual digital suspects. (CE)
  • Born February 28, 1977 Chris Wooding, 44. If you read nothing else by him, do read the four novel series that is the steampunkish Tales of the Ketty Jay. Simply wonderful. The Haunting of Alaizabel Cray plays off the Cthulhu Mythos that certain folk don’t think exist and does a damn fine job of doing so. (CE)
  • Born February 28, 1977 – J.T. Petty, age 44.  Four novels, as many shorter stories, for us; others too.  Motion pictures, videogames.  Interviewed in Lightspeed.  [JH]
  • Born February 28, 1980 – Gareth Worthington, Ph.D., age 41.  Endocrinologist who’s given us six novels.  Studied Jeet Kune Do, which as I understand is the best ever if you happen to be Bruce Lee – no blame, great sages keep telling us It’s simple, see?  Has read Moby-Dick and A Brief History of Time.  [JH]

(9) TRIVIAL TRIVIA.

Dr. Seuss is credited with inventing the word “nerd,” which first appeared in ‘If I Ran the Zoo’ in 1950. Source: Parade Magazine

(10) VOICE FROM THE PAST. NPR reprised a 2000 interview with the author — “Stephen King: The ‘Craft’ Of Writing Horror Stories”.

In an interview on Fresh Air, King described his life-changing accident to Terry Gross but said it didn’t change the way he approached his writing….

On the nurses who took care of him

“You know, they’d all read Misery, and they worked for an outfit called the Bangor Area Visiting Nurses. These are nurses who go into the home and give home care. And I think one of them told me toward the end of the period, where I needed full-time nursing, that they had all read it, and they had all been called into the office by their superior and told in no uncertain terms, ‘You don’t make any Misery jokes.'”

Includes an excerpt from King’s book On Writing with this quote:

…Asteroid Miners (which wasn’t the title, but that’s close enough) was an important book in my life as a reader. Almost everyone can remember losing his or her virginity, and most writers can remember the first book he/she put down thinking: I can do better than this. Hell, I am doing better than this!

What could be more encouraging to the struggling writer than to realize his/her work is unquestionably better than that of someone who actually got paid for his/her stuff?

(11) NAVIGATING TREK NOVELS. The Trek Collective has “Star Trek novel updates: First Coda blurbs, details of next DS9 novel, and audiobook covers”. A forthcoming trilogy is supposed to tie everything together.

More Star Trek novel news! Following the recent reveal of the 2021 line-up of Star Trek novels, Simon and Schuster have now updated their Online Catalog with blurbs for the books coming towards the end of the year, including the first details of the Coda trilogy. Continue below for all the details.

The Coda trilogy is set to tie-up the reality of the Star Trek litverse which has been told over the last couple of decades, but was alas shunted into an alternate timeline by the new canon events of Picard. All three of the new blurbs start with the following intro, which confirms we are getting one last enormous TNG/DS9/Titan/Aventine crossover:

… Temporal Apocalypse!! Blimey. Who is the mysterious old friend, what is the nature of the disaster, how will this all mesh the litverse with the canon reality? I cannot wait to find out!

If you have no idea what the litverse is, check out the Almighty Star Trek Lit-Verse Reading Order Flowchart, compiled by Thrawn and I. You’ve got a few months to get caught up on the dozens of books leading up to this epic closing trilogy (though of course if you’re not caught up I’m sure the authors will make sure it’s entirely accessible to new readers too). 

(12) THE CHART. Indeed, the “Almighty Star Trek Lit-Verse Reading Order Flowchart” deserves an item to itself – you should see it! This is the proposed reading order for Star Trek books created by Thrawn and 8of5 for the period between the end of DS9 (1999) and Star Trek: Picard. (There are, of course, a zillion other Trek books outside this timeframe.)

If you’re a bit lost navigating the sometimes complex web of interconnectivity between the various Star Trek novels in the post-finale continuity, this is the resource you need. TrekBBS user Thrawn found a most elegant solution, with his brilliant Star Trek Lit-Verse Reading Order Flowchart. Now (as of 2020) on the version six, Thrawn and I guide you through the world of Star Trek fiction.

Whether you’re a fan of TNGDS9Voyager, or Enterprise the chart below will show how they spin off into New FrontierTitanIKS GorkonVanguard, or Seekers, and crossover into DestinyTyphon PactThe FallMirror Universe, and more; letting you chart your own path through the Trek-litverse. Once you’ve got to grips with the flow chart you might also find some of my lists a useful reference too.

(13) BLACK SWAN? StarTrek.com analyzes “How The Search For Spock Changed the Way Star Trek Got Made”.

There are several pivotal turning points in the production history of Star Trek. Pinning down the most important ones is tricky — is filming of “The Cage” more impactful than casting the second pilot, “Where No Man Has Gone Before?” What about the writing approach in Season 3 of The Next Generation? Which events truly define how Star Trek was made and why? Among the likely candidates, the moment when Leonard Nimoy took over directorial duties for Star Trek III: The Search For Spock tends to be overlooked. One June 1, 1984, The Search For Spock was released, becoming the very first Trek production crafted by one of the actors. And the way Star Trek was created behind-the-scenes would never be the same.

(14) URBAN LEGENDS. “Mars City design: 6 sci-fi cities that will blow your mind” from Inverse.

6. BRADBURY CITY – MARS TRILOGY

There are several fictional cities in Kim Stanely Robinson’s seminal SF books about the settlement of Mars — Red Mars, Green Mars, and Blue Mars — so it’s hard to pick just one. But, if you have to choose only one Martian metropolis from his books, Bradbury City is the way to go.

Named for Ray Bradbury, who wrote The Martian Chronicles, Robinson’s Bradbury City is designed to recreate a city in Illinois. Bradbury was born in Waukegan, Illinois. The Martian Chronicles features several unlikely Martian cities, some made by humans, some made by Martians. But, in almost all cases, like in “Night Meeting,” these towns and cities often have gas stations and pickup trucks.

(15) YOUTUBER. Dom Noble reviews “Raybearer ~ An African Inspired Fantasy Novel”.

(16) IT HAPPENED TO HIM, TOO? “Kevin Feige Panicking After Mom Throws Out $3.6 Billion Worth Of Superhero Crap” in The Onion. (Too short to excerpt – but I don’t need to talk anyone into reading The Onion, do I?

(17) VIDEO OF THE DAY. “The Underground Comix Movement” on YouTube is an introduction to the great independent comix creators of the late 1960s, including S. Clay Wilson, Peter Bagge, and Gilbert Shelton.

[Thanks to Martin Morse Wooster, Ben Bird Person, John Hertz, JJ, Cat Eldridge, Rich Lynch, Michael J. Walsh, Andrew Porter, Michael Toman, Jennifer Hawthorne, Mike Kennedy, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Anna Nimmhaus.]

Pixel Scroll 2/13/21 I Saw Lon Chaney Jr. Scrolling With The Queen, Filin’ The Pixels Of London

(1) WANDAVISION VIEWS. Camestros Felapton gives plenty of spoiler warning before starting his analysis: “WandaVision: Episode 6 – All-New Halloween Spooktacular! (spoilers)”.

Safe to assume that all WandaVision reviews are spoiler filled. Before the fold, I’ll say that in terms of TV history, the town of Westview (huh…only just noticed that’s WV) has lurched not so much to the 1990s as the 2000’s. I guess the sitcoms of the 1990s are tougher to fit into the model. Roseanne would be the most iconic family-orientated sitcom other than The Simpsons (oh, but a nod to The Simpsons with a Halloween episode and I would have loved a cartoon episode of WandaVision). When I think of 1990s US sitcoms, Friends is the most obvious but that wouldn’t make any sense. Instead the vibe is a bit closer to Malcolm in the Middle with some fourth wall breaking asides to the camera from the kids….

(2) ALTERNATE MOON. A featurette has dropped for Season 2 of For All Mankind.

Leap into the alternate universe of 1983. Go behind the scenes of For All Mankind Season 2. Premieres February 19 on the Apple TV app with an Apple TV+ subscription.

(3) FOUND: A BIG FAN OF SEVENEVES. “Bill Gates Has Always Sought Out New Reading Recommendations – a New York Times Q&A.

What books are on your night stand?

“Infinite Jest.” I’m on a mission to read everything David Foster Wallace wrote, and I’m slowly working my way through everything else before I get to that one. I’ve also got a copy of “The Three-Body Problem,” by Liu Cixin, which I’ve been meaning to read for a while.

What kind of reader were you as a child? Which childhood books and authors stick with you most?

I’ve always liked getting recommendations from other people, even when I was a little kid. I used to ask my teachers what their favorite books were and make my way through the lists they gave me. Our school librarian used to suggest things for me to read, too. She’d often give me books that were supposed to be for kids older than I was, which was very exciting for me. The book I probably read the most growing up was “The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress,” a great science fiction book by Robert Heinlein.

How have your reading tastes changed over time?

I used to read a lot of science fiction when I was a kid, but not so much as an adult (although I rediscovered my love for the genre through Neal Stephenson’s incredible “Seveneves” a few years ago). …

(4) COSMOTECHNICS. In “From Tech Critique to Ways of Living” at The New Atlantis, Alan Jacobs, a humanities professor at Baylor University, analyzes Ursula Le Guin’s Always Coming Home about two-thirds of the way through the piece as part of his essay-review of books critiquing technology.

Always Coming Home illustrates cosmotechnics in a hundred ways. Consider, for instance, information storage and retrieval. At one point we meet the archivist of the Library of the Madrone Lodge in the village of Wakwaha-na. A visitor from our world is horrified to learn that while the library gives certain texts and recordings to the City of Mind, some of their documents they simply destroy. “But that’s the point of information storage and retrieval systems! The material is kept for anyone who wants or needs it. Information is passed on — the central act of human culture.” But that is not how the librarian thinks about it. “Tangible or intangible, either you keep a thing or you give it. We find it safer to give it” — to practice “unhoarding.” She continues,

Giving involves a good deal of discrimination; as a business it requires a more disciplined intelligence than keeping, perhaps. Disciplined people come here … historians, learned people, scribes and reciters and writers, they’re always here, like those four, you see, going through the books, copying out what they want, annotating. Books no one reads go; books people read go after a while. But they all go. Books are mortal. They die. A book is an act; it takes place in time, not just in space. It is not information, but relation.

It is not information, but relation. This too is cosmotechnics….

(5) IT IS GOOD TO BE KING. “Stephen King is helping a group of elementary students publish a pandemic-themed book”Literary Hub has the story.

It may not be the least bit spooky, but it’s true. The Stephen and Tabitha King Foundation, the non-profit founded by King and his wife to support community projects in Maine, is funding the publication of a manuscript written by group of young students enrolled in the Farwell Elementary School’s Author Studies Program.

The students initially planned to fund their project through a Kickstarter campaign, but when King’s foundation caught wind of it, they stepped in to cover the $6,500 cost of publishing the 290-page manuscript….

(6) CHANGE OF ADDRESS. Steven H Silver’s website has moved. The new URL is:  http://www.stevenhsilver.com,

After 25 years at SF Site, my website has moved to a new url, including Silver Reviews, the Harry Turtledove website, the Murray Leinster website, my various bibliographies (Pluto, Chicago, Baseball, and Jewish SF).  The new url is http://www.stevenhsilver.com.  If people have links to any pages on my old website, they can replace the string sfsite.com/~silverag with stevenhsilver.com and the new link should work.

(7) RINGING IN YOUR EARS. “The Fellowship of the Bands: Nine Artists Inspired By ‘Lord of the Rings’”. Bandcamp Daily scrys the palantir to bring you the best.

… The series resonated with readers of all backgrounds, but especially the artists. Indeed, before Bad Taste was a twinkle in Jackson’s eye, bands were springing up all over the globe who drew on Tolkien’s books for inspiration. By the ’70s, rockers like Led Zeppelin and Rush, jazz musicians like John Sangster, and folkies like Sally Oldfield had all composed music directly inspired by The Lord of the Rings. Ever since, bands have continued to spring up who root their iconography in Tolkien’s works, especially in heavy metal, where acts like Blind Guardian and Summoning have made long careers singing about the trials and tribulations of hobbits and dwarves.

A rigorous exploration of all those bands could fill the Book of Mazarbul, so this piece will have a slightly narrower—and less serious—focus. Consider this a Bandcamp Fellowship of the Bands, made up of artists who take their names from the nine members of the fellowship. How well do these projects line up with their namesakes, and can they complement each other as well as Tolkien’s nine did in ultimately destroying the One Ring in the fires of Mount Doom? Settle down in your hobbit hole with a nice cup of tea and find out….

(8) EYEWITNESS MEMORIES. Cora Buhlert has another article up at Galactic Journey. “This one is about a plane crash that happened in January 1966 approx. 5 kilometres from my home. My Dad actually was an eye witness at the time and I used his memories as well as reports from other witnesses and first responders as the basis for this article. I also Googled every single name on the memorial to find out more about the people who died, because most reports only focus on the celebrity passengers/” “[February 2, 1966] Death in the Fields: The Lufthansa Flight 005 Crash”.

… By daylight, the sight was so horrible that even hardened veteran fire fighters who had lived through World War II were shocked. But the grim work was particularly hard on the young fire fighters and the teenaged volunteers of the West German federal disaster relief organisation THW who had been tasked with recovering the bodies. Even the ladies of the Delmenhorst Red Cross station who had been sent to Bremen to provide the helpers with coffee and sandwiches were not spared the horrible sights, because they had to pass through the makeshift morgue to deliver food to the helpers….

(9) MEDIA ANNIVERSARY.

  • February 13, 2002 Special Unit 2 ends its run. Special Unit 2 was a Chicago-based unit charged with policing the city’s large population of mythological beings which were known as Links.  It ran on UPN for two seasons and nineteen episodes. It was created by Evan Katz, and starring Michael Landes, Alexondra Lee and Danny Woodburn. If you’re interested, the first episode is watchable here. (CE)

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]

  • Born February 13, 1908 Patrick Barr. He appeared in Doctor Who as Hobson in the Second Doctor story,  “The Moonbase”, in the Seventies Randall & Hopkirk (Deceased) “You Can Always Find a Fall Guy” episode and also in The Avengers as Stonehouse in the “Take me to Your Leader” episode. His last genre role was as the British Ambassador in Octopussy. (Died 1985.) (CE) 
  • Born February 13, 1933Patrick Godfrey, 88. His very first acting was as Tor in a First Doctor story, “The Savages. He’d be in a Third Doctor story, “Mind of Evil”, as Major Cotsworth. His last two acting roles have both been genre — one being the voice of a Wolf Elder in Mowgli: Legend of the Jungle; the other Butler in His Dark Materials. (CE) 
  • Born February 13, 1935 – John Holmes.  Twoscore covers for us; thousands of images all told.  Here is The Door Into Summer.  Here is The Man Who Had No Idea.  Here is Nabokov’s Despair.  The Guardian noted his “visual puns … intellectual debates …  disturbing, provocative, witty or lyrical … layered with meaning….  art director at … Ogilvy & Mather….  Detective novels, drama, sociology, astrology books and women’s liberation [“I don’t know if my insensitivity is any worse than their iconoclasm”]….  humming-birds fill the red halo of Beethoven’s deafness….  Laurel and Hardy, together or singly, were favourite subjects.”  (Died 2011)  [JH]
  • Born February 13, 1938Oliver Reed. He first shows up in a genre film uncredited in The Two Faces of Dr. Jekyll. His first credited role is Leon in The Curse of the Werewolf. He was King in The Damned, an SF despite its title, and Z.P.G. saw him cast as Russ McNeil. Next up was him as Athos in the very charming Three Musketeers, a role he reprised in Four Musketeers and Return of the Musketeers. And can we skip past him as Sarm in Gor please? Does Royal Flash count as genre? Kage Baker loved that rogue. Kage also loved The Adventures of Baron Munchausen in which he played Vulcan. Orpheus & Eurydice has him as Narrator, his final film role. (Died 1999.) (CE)
  • Born February 13, 1938 – Joanne Burger.  Active in the N3F (Nat’l Fantasy Fan Fed’n), reviewed fanzines for TNFF (The Nat’l Fantasy Fan), then edited it; produced annual SF Published in – 1967-1979.  Kaymar Award.  Fan Guest of Honor at LoneStarCon the 3rd NASFiC (North America SF Con, since 1975 held when the Worldcon is overseas; LSC II and LSC III were Worldcons).  More here.  (Died 1999) [JH]
  • Born February 13, 1943Leo Frankowski. Probably best known for his Conrad Stargard series featuring the Polish time travelling engineer Conrad Schwartz, but I’m more fond of his stand-alone novels Fata Morgana and Copernick’s Rebellion. (Died 2008.) (CE) 
  • Born February 13, 1954 – Mary GrandPré, age 67.  Two dozen covers, a dozen interiors, for us, many Harry Potter, where she’s most known; this one made the cover of Newsweek.  Here is Fair Peril.  Here is The Eye of the Heron.  Here is A Dragon’s Guide to the Care and Feeding of Humans.  Fine-art paintings too, like this.  Website here.  [JH]
  • Born February 13, 1958 – Alexandra Honigsberg, age 63.  Thomist, violist.  Nine short stories, five poems.  Here she is at MagiCon the 50th Worldcon (Lenny Provenzano photo).  Here she is in 2007 (Scott Edelman photo).  Here is her 2009 review of Logicomix (A. Doxiades, C. Papadimitriou, A. Papadatos, A. DiDonna).  Here (p. 7) she is in 2017 for the Long Island Philosophical Society.  Here are ratings of a 2020 course she taught at St. John’s Univ., Jamaica, NY.  [JH]
  • Born February 13, 1959Maureen F. McHugh, 62. Her first novel, China Mountain Zhang was nominated for both the Hugo and the Nebula Award, and won the Otherwise Award, impressive indeed. Her other novels are Half the Day Is NightMission Child and Nekropolis. Both her novel and impressive short story collections are readily available at the usual digital sources. (CE) 
  • Born February 13, 1960 Matt Salinger, 61. ?Captain America in the 1990 Yugoslavian film of that name which was directed by Albert Pyun as written by Stephen Tolkin and Lawrence J. Block. It’s got a 16% rating among reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes which matches what critics thought of it. As near as I can tell this is only genre role. You can watch the film here.
  • Born February 13, 1960 – Kate Banks, age 61.  Twoscore books, many for us – opinions differ about books said to be children’s.  Boston Globe – Horn Book Award.  Zolotow Award.  Wellesley woman.  Likes “the way in which words and illustrations … create a whole new world in which sometimes real and other times magical and unexpected things … happen.”  [JH]
  • Born February 13, 1972 – Jarvis Sheffield, age 49.  Active with the Black SF Society and Genesis (i.e. the prozine).  Edited the Genesis anthology with Milton Davis; one story of his own in it; here is his cover for G11.  Game design, animation.  Director of the Diversity track at Dragon*Con.  Media Center Co-ordinator at Tennessee State Univ. One of this year’s winners of SFWA’s Kate Wilhelm Solstice Award. [JH]

(11) COMICS SECTION.

(12) NO WONDER. Peter White, in “’Wonder Girl’ TV Series Not Going Forward At The CW” at Deadline, says the CW has decided not to greenlight “Wonder Girl,” which would have been the first Latina superhero series.

…The drama, based on DC characters created by Joëlle Jones, centered on Yara Flor, a Latina Dreamer who was born of an Amazonian Warrior and a Brazilian River God, learns that she is Wonder Girl. With her newfound power must fight the evil forces that would seek to destroy the world…

(13) A TED TALK THAT TURNS INTO AN INTERACTIVE ADVENTURE. “Chaos Theory – A digital experience” will be performed by the Curious Theatre Company in a special two-week digital run Feb. 25 through March 7. Tickets sold at the link.

CHAOS THEORY is a comedic, immersive experience exploring the underlying chaos in our lives. A lecture about chaos theory devolves into a series of interactive games inspired by the science of chaos theory, reality dating shows, middle school crushes, and the butterfly effect to end all butterfly effects: COVID-19. The audience is guided by mathematical scientist, Dr. Genevieve Saoch, whose personal life continually interferes with her ability to be objective about her research as a Chaologist. Through a series of participatory experiments, audience members are invited to embrace their inner chaos agent as they embody facets of chaos theory including deterministic chaos, fractals, self-organization, and strange attractors.

(14) ANOTHER VALUABLE FANZINE. Cora Buhlert interviewed Rachel Cordasco for her continuing series: “Fanzine Spotlight: Speculative Fiction in Translation”.

Tell us about your site or zine.

I started SFinTranslation.com in 2016 when I couldn’t find any websites that focused on   tracking speculative fiction in English translation. Having reviewed a few works of SFT for SF Signal (before it closed a few years ago), I decided to learn more about the science fiction, fantasy, and horror that was being written around the world and then translated for Anglophone  readers. Since 2016, I’ve reviewed several dozen works of short- and long-form SFT (both for my site and for World Literature TodayStrange Horizons, and other publications), written  essays spotlighting regional SFT, and used social media to bring SFT to the attention of more readers. Among other things, I publish a regular “Out this Month” post to help readers find new SFT releases and I update a linked list of SFT that’s freely-available on the web.

(15) WHAT’S THE MATTER? “Scientists have finally studied einsteinium like never before” reports SYFY Wire.

… Unlike its genius namesake, einsteinium has a difficult temperament. Nuclear reactors can only produce microscopic amounts. Artificially created and at the edge of the periodic table, the 99th element is extremely radioactive and has a half-life (the time it takes for half of it to decay) of barely over 20 days. Getting a better look at it has always been just out of reach. Scientists from UC Berkeley and Georgetown University were finally able to create a more stable isotope of it, which stuck around long enough to demystify some of its hidden properties.

Einsteinium is invisible without a microscope, but one of the heaviest elements that exists — or at least can be made to exist. It is an actinide, part of a group of elements that includes uranium, though anything heavier than uranium is not naturally occurring. It’s also the type of radioactive poison that is often portrayed as glowing green sludge in comics and movies. So what would anyone want with this stuff? While it can’t be put to much use outside a research lab yet, it could eventually be used to make advances in technology and radiopharmaceuticals….

(16) THE NEXT CONJUNCTION. Keep watching the skies. Mental Floss says “The Conjunction of Jupiter and Mercury Is Coming in March 2021”.

One of last year’s astronomical highlights occurred on the winter solstice 2020, when Jupiter and Saturn appeared exceptionally close in a historic conjunction. Just a few months after that event, Jupiter will be getting cozy with a different planet in the night sky. Here’s everything you need to know about the conjunction of Jupiter and Mercury on March 5, 2021.

WHAT IS THE JUPITER-MERCURY CONJUNCTION?

A conjunction happens when two celestial bodies appear close together when viewed from Earth. On the morning of March 5, the largest planet in the solar system and the smallest (at least as of 2006) will come within 19.4 arcminutes of each other in the sky’s dome. That distance is roughly two-thirds the width of the moon….

(17) DINO ACHIEVEMENT UNLOCKED. AV Club says “Sad: Only 13 states have voted on an official state dinosaur” – however, Massachusetts has settled on theirs:

…After a month-long online (tax-funded) poll conducted by Massachusetts officials, over 60% of concerned, participating citizens opted for Podokesaurus holyokensis over Anchisaurus polyzelus to be ratified as the commonwealth’s official dinosaur. Last week, stalwart patriot and Massachusetts House Representative, Jack Patrick Lewis, introduced a pair of bills to certify the fair and democratic election of P. holyokensis to join the other dozen dinosaurs on record as official state ambassadors….

(18) ROAMING CHARGES. In “Animal Planet” in the January 17 New York Times Magazine, Sonia Shah notes that ICARUS, developed by the Germans space agency DLR, tracks the movement of thousands of animals  through receivers they carry that transmit signals to the International Space Station.  The study shows that animals migrate far more than has been commonly believed.

… By doing so, ICARUS could fundamentally reshape the way we understand the role of mobility on our changing planet. The scale and meaning of animal movements has been underestimated for decades. Although we share the landscape with wild species, their movements are mostly obscure to us, glimpsed episodically if at all. They leave behind only faint physical traces — a few paw prints in the hardening mud of a jungle path, a quickly fading arc of displaced air in the sky, a dissipating ripple under the water’s surface. But unlike, say, the sequence of the human genome, or the nature of black holes, our lack of knowledge about where our fellow creatures go has not historically been regarded as a particularly pressing gap in scientific understanding. The assumption that animal movements are circumscribed and rare tended to limit scientific interest in the question. The 18th-century Swedish naturalist Carl Linnaeus, imagining nature as an expression of God’s perfection, presumed each species belonged in its own singular locale, a notion embedded in his taxonomic system, which forms the foundation of a wide array of biological sciences to this day. Two centuries later, the zoologist Charles Elton, hailed as the “father of animal ecology,” fixed species into place with his theory that each species nestles into its own peculiar “niche,” like a pearl in a shell. Such concepts, like modern notions of “home ranges” and “territories,” presumed an underlying stationariness in undisturbed ecosystems.

But over the last few decades, new evidence has emerged suggesting that animals move farther, more readily and in more complex ways than previously imagined….

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

2020 Novellapalooza

stack of books ©canstockphoto / olegd

[Editor’s note: be sure to read the comments on this post for more novellas and more Filer reviews.]

By JJ:

TL;DR: Here’s what I thought of the 2020 Novellas. What did you think?

I’m a huge reader of novels, but not that big on short fiction. But the last few years, I’ve done a personal project to read and review as many Novellas as I could (presuming that the story Synopsis had some appeal for me). I ended up reading:

  • 31 of the novellas published in 2015,
  • 35 of the novellas published in 2016,
  • 50 of the novellas published in 2017,
  • 38 of the novellas published in 2018,
  • 57 of the 2019 novellas,
  • and this year I was waiting for access to a few novellas from my library, so I was reading others, and thus my final total crept up to 59!

The result of these reading sprees were

I really felt as though this enabled me to do Hugo nominations for the Novella category in an informed way, and a lot of Filers got involved with their own comments. So I’m doing it again this year.

It is not at all uncommon for me to choose to read a book despite not feeling that the jacket copy makes the book sound as though it is something I would like – and to discover that I really like or love the work anyway. On the other hand, It is not at all uncommon for me to choose to read a book which sounds as though it will be up my alley and to discover that, actually, the book doesn’t really do much for me.

Thus, my opinions on the following novellas vary wildly: stories I thought I would love but didn’t, stories I didn’t expect to love but did, and stories which aligned with my expectations – whether high or low.

Bear in mind that while I enjoy both, I tend to prefer Science Fiction over Fantasy – and that while I enjoy suspense and thrillers, I have very little appreciation for Horror (and to be honest, I think Lovecraft is way overrated). What’s more, I apparently had a defective childhood, and I do not share a lot of peoples’ appreciation for fairytale retellings and portal fantasies. My personal assessments are therefore not intended to be the final word on these stories, but merely a jumping-off point for Filer discussion.

Novellas are listed in two sections below. The first section, those with cover art, are the ones I have read, and they include mini-reviews by me. These are in approximate order from most-favorite to least-favorite (but bear in mind that after around the first dozen listed, there was not a large degree of difference in preference among most of the remainder, with the exception of a handful at the bottom). The second section is those novellas I haven’t read, in alphabetical order by title.

I’ve included plot summaries, and where I could find them, links to either excerpts or the full stories which can be read online for free. Some short novels which fall between 40,000 and 48,000 words (within the Hugo Novella category tolerance) have been included, and in a couple of cases, novelettes which were long enough to be in the Hugo Novella tolerance were also included.

Please feel free to post comments about 2020 novellas which you’ve read, as well. And if I’ve missed your File 770 comment about a novella, or an excerpt for a novella, please point me to it!

If you see something that looks like gibberish, it is text that has been ROT-13’ed to avoid spoilers. (Please be sure to rot-13 any spoilers.)

(fair notice: all Amazon links are referrer URLs which benefit non-profit SFF fan website Worlds Without End)
Continue reading

Pixel Scroll 12/19/20 A Long-Expected Party: Potlatch, Status And Spoons Among Late Third Age Hobbits

(1) THE FUTURE THROUGH YESTERDAY. Nicholas Whyte has put together a video of “The world in 2021, according to science fiction” and started a YouTube channel to host it. At the link is his impressive list of sources.

I’ve spent several weekends working on a presentation of twentieth-century science fiction set in the year 2021, and here is the fruit of my labours, a 21-minute video.

(2) BEEP BEEP, BEEP BEEP. Phil Plait, in a “Bad Astronomy” entry at SYFY Wire, reports that “Alien hunters detect a signal from Proxima Centauri, the closest star, but it’s likely human in origin”.

…A standard radio astronomy technique to make sure that what you see is coming from the object you’re observing is to move the telescope back and forth a bit to point to a different part of the sky and see if the signal persists (perhaps leaking into the dish from a source nearby); this is called “nodding” because it’s like a head nodding. When they did this, the signal went away, then came back when they repointed at Proxima.

So it appears to be coming from the star, or at least form very nearby it in the sky. It also appears to have a very narrow frequency range. Not only that, but another characteristic you might expect from an intelligent signal is that, over time, the frequency itself will shift a bit — if aliens are transmitting from a planetary surface, as that planet rotates it causes a Doppler shift in the signal. A shift was seen in the signal, which is interesting….

(3) GOTHIC YEAR. Molly Odintz’ choices of “The Best Gothic Fiction of 2020” for CrimeReads is full of familiar names, including —

Sam J. Miller, The Blade Between (Ecco)

2020 brought a plethora of new additions to the gentrification noir canon, but Sam J. Miller’s The Blade Between stands out for its heroes’ plan to raise sinister supernatural forces in defense of their city. Ever since H.P. Lovecraft first drew attention to the plight of New England architecture by filling his fictional decaying homes with hideous monstrosities, Gothic fiction has been a surprisingly partisan force for housing preservation (Jane Eyre and Rebecca notwithstanding). In The Blade Between, the relationship reaches its zenith, as a photographer and his two childhood besties attempt to save their beloved city of Hudson from corporations and yuppies, only to find themselves instead awakening an ancient force bent on vengeance. Also, since this is Sam Miller, be warned: there will be whales. 

(4) STANDARD BEARER. Sean T. Collins shows how popular culture has connected The Stand with newsmaking crises over the years: “‘The Stand’: Tracing the Stephen King Epic Through Its Many Mutations” in the New York Times.

Take a pandemic. Add the paranormal. Make it a uniquely American story of survival horror. The result: “The Stand,” Stephen King’s epic post-apocalyptic novel from 1978, a new mini-series adaptation of which debuted Thursday on CBS All Access.

Conceived in the pre-Covid era, the show has taken on new resonance since, telling the story of a weaponized virus that wipes out 99 percent of the population. But that’s only the beginning. The real battle happens afterward as supernatural forces of darkness and light — embodied by the demonic dictator Randall Flagg (Alexander Skarsgard) and the holy woman Mother Abagail (Whoopi Goldberg) — duel for the souls of the plague’s survivors.

Since the original novel’s original release, King’s saga has entered the pop-culture consciousness in many different incarnations, including an expanded edition of the book and an earlier mini-series adaptation. In anticipation of the show’s arrival, we’re tracing the story from its point of origin to its latest mutation.

The Allegory

The opening act of King’s novel is an eerily plausible account of the complete collapse of human society after the “Captain Trips” superflu is unleashed upon the world. That aspect has found relevance across the decades since the novel’s publication, in the Cold War nuclear arms race, through the peak of the AIDS epidemic in the United States, to the events of 2020.

But that’s only the first part. Flagg is presented as an even worse plague upon the living — a grinning dictator who builds a new society based on human drivers like greed, pride, lust and wrath and who exploits the virus for the sake of his own power. Are there lessons to be applied in the real world? Successive generations have thought so….

(5) DOWN MEMORY LANE.

  • 1953  — At the 11th Worldcon in 1953, Alfred Bester’s The Demolished Man wins the very first Hugo for Best Novel. It had been published in Galaxy in January, February and March of the previous year. It would also be nominated for the International Fantasy Award, an award that would exist only in the Fifties. This would be the only Hugo that Bester would win though he would be awarded a SFWA Grand Master Award and Prometheus Hall of Fame Award for The Stars My Destination. It, like most of his works, is available from the usual digital suspects.

(6) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]

  • Born December 19, 1897 – Lucia Trent.  Book reviewer for The Nation.  President of the Western Poets’ Congress.  Called the best woman reader of poetry.  Got a poem into Fire and Sleet and Candlelight (A. Derleth ed. 1961).  Seven books of them, some with husband Ralph Cheyney.  (Died 1977) [JH]
  • 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 and Chief Rabbit in Watership Down. Also the Head Librarian in Rollerball which I’ll admit I’ve never seenAnd a caterpillar in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. And Satan in the Tales from the Crypt film. Oh, my he had an interesting genre film career! (Died 1983.) (CE)
  • Born December 19, 1922 – Harry Warner, Jr.  Two indispensable books of fanhistory, All Our Yesterdays (fandom in the 1940s) and A Wealth of Fable (1950s).  Quite possibly the best letters-of-comment author we’ve ever known; it seemed he read and wrote to every fanzine, his letters were short and they were good.  Three Hugos, four FAAn (Fan Activity Achievement) Awards.  Fan Guest of Honor at Noreascon I the 29th Worldcon.  Big Heart (our highest service award).  His own fanzines HorizonsSpaceways.  First Fandom Hall of Fame.  More here. (Died 2003) [JH]
  • Born December 19, 1949 – Lee Pelton. Active in Minn-stf and Minneapa.  Co-edited Rune with Carol Kennedy.  Often head of film program at Minicon.  Younger brother played baseball with John Purcell, as a result of which Purcell went Askew.  (Died 1994) [JH]
  • Born December 19, 1952 Linda Woolverton, 68. 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). (CE)
  • Born December 19, 1958 – Laura Whitcomb, age 62.  Three novels for us.  Won three Kay Snow awards, later served a term as a judge.  Sings madrigals.  [JH]
  • Born December 19, 1960 Dave Hutchinson, 60. Best known for his Fractured Europe series which won a BSFA Award for the third novel, Europe in Winter. Europe at Midnight was a finalist for the John W. Campbell Memorial Award. I’ve listened to  the entire series and it’s quite fascinating. He’s got a lot of other genre fiction as well but I’ve not delved into any of those yet. (CE) 
  • Born December 19, 1961 Matthew Waterhouse, 59. 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. (CE)
  • Born December 19, 1970 – Tanigawa Nagaru, age 50.  (Personal name last, Japanese style.)  Famous for a dozen light novels about Suzumiya Haruhi, which earned TN the grand prize at the 8th Sneaker Awards and became television and film animé, video games, manga, audio dramas, and original Net animation.  I’ll actually refer you to the SF Encyclopedia.  [JH]
  • Born December 19, 1972 Alyssa Milano, 48. 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 end. (CE)
  • Born December 19, 1975 – Brandon Sanderson, age 45.  Thirty novels, three dozen shorter stories.  Concluded Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time.  Proposed a theory of hard and soft magic.  Two Hugos, one being for a season of Writing Excuses podcast (with Kowal, Tayler, Wells, J. Sanderson).  Fifteen NY Times Best-Sellers.  A Geffen last year.  Interviewed in FantasyLightspeedSpace and TimeSuperSonic.  Launched by Hambly’s Dragonsbane.  [JH]
  • Born December 19, 1979 Robin Sloan, 41. 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. (CE)

(7) COMICS SECTION.

(8) COME TO PAPA. Literary Hub’s Robert K. Elder contemplates “Why Ernest Hemingway Makes a Great Subject for Comic Book Artists”).Michael Toman surmises, “He was also one of Harlan Ellison’s favorite authors, as shown by HE’s naming of his ‘Kilimanjaro Corporation.’” (Could Ellison also have been paying a homage to Bradbury’s 1965 story with a Hemingway connection?)

…Celebrity appearances aren’t new to comic books. Both Stephen Colbert and President Barack Obama got guest shots with Spider-Man, and Eminem got a two-issue series with the Punisher. Orson Welles helped Superman foil a Martian invasion, and President John F. Kennedy helped the Man of Steel keep his secret identity. Even David Letterman got a studio visit from the Avengers. But, using the crowd-sourced Comic Book Database and my own research, I’ve discovered that Hemingway by far exceeds other authors in number of appearances (Shakespeare: 22, Mark Twain: 13). As historical figures go, only Abraham Lincoln comes close to touching him, with roughly 122 appearances in comics (and counting). 

(9) BATWHEELS. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] Batman/The Batmobile on YouTube is a 2012 documentary, directed by Roko Belic, all about the Batmobile.  Although Batman always had a car, the Batmobile was really invented by George Barris for the 1966 TV series, Barris was interviewed for the documentary, and discussed how he bought a Ford Futura concept car and turned it into the Batmobile Adam West drove.  West is also interviewed, as is Christian Bale, Tim Burton, Joel Schumacher, and Christopher Nolan.  But the film is really for people who (like me) enjoy watching car designers talk about their work.  This film is pretty geeky but worth an hour.

Fun fact:  H.R. Giger was hired to design a Batmobile for BATMAN FOREVER but the car he drew looked like “a tarantula with four legs” and was unfilmable.

(10) PERSONAL PORTAL. Unmapped Chronicles series author Abi Elphinstone tells Guardian readers “I found my own Narnia behind a blue door in Scotland”.

…As a child, I watched salmon leap from the brilliantly named fishing pools beyond the blue door (Kitbog, Witch’s, Badger) and played hide-and-seek inside Doulie Tower (a folly built around 1780, when Lord Adam Gordon, commander-in-chief of the army in Scotland, acquired the estate and turned it from “the wildest state of barrenness” into woods filled with Scots pines, oaks, rowans and silver birches). I watched dippers gliding through the Rocks of Solitude (a picturesque narrow stretch of the North Esk) and I listened to my father’s stories about trolls who lived beneath the gnarled roots of beech trees. It felt impossible that all this should exist on the other side of that little blue door, yet it did.

(11) IN THE TWENTY-FOURTH-AND-A-HALF CENTURY. “Legendary’s BUCK ROGERS Sci-Fi Series Will Be Written by Brian K. Vaughan” reports GeekTyrant.

Comic book and TV writer Brian K. Vaughan has been hired to write Legendary’s television series adaptation of classic pulp hero Buck Rogers. Vaughan has worked on a ton of projects over the years, and he seems like a solid choice to take on the material. Some of his previous TV projects include Lost, Under the Dome, Y: The Last Man, Runaways, and more.

(12) THE TWELVE DAYS OF 770. Applause to Bruce D, Arthurs for his seasonal parody (left as a comment.)

Because I was avoiding stuff I should actually be working on this morning, I produced the following instead:

On the twelfth day of Christmas
My bookstore shipped to me
All twelve Maradaine books,
Eleven Pipers viking,
Ten Leibers mousing,
Nine Gideons boning,
Eight Correias shooting
Seven Besters jaunting,
Six Star Trek tie-ins,
F-i-i-i-i-ve Mu-r-r-r-de-r-r-r-r-bots!,
Four Asimovs,
Three Jules Verne,
Two Turtledoves,

And a one-volume Lord of the Rings!

(13) VIDEO OF THE DAY. Kaya Torres is circling a black hole in a pod, with no one coming, no one to help. She’s Alone. Mind Matters adds —

…As Torres is “marooned on my lifepod” as the only survivor of the DSV Intrepid, she is able to contact an “interstellar penpal” to keep her company via occasional messages until her food runs out and she dies. Unless…

[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, JJ, John Hertz, John King Tarpinian, Michael Toman, Martin Morse Wooster, Mike Kennedy, Nicholas Whyte, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Andrew (not Werdna).]

Pixel Scroll 12/16/20 She’s Got A Pixel To File

(1) PAY THE WRITER. In “Star Wars novelist Alan Dean Foster’s Disney royalties issue, explained” at Polygon, Andrew Liptak examines the terrain of what is likely to be an uphill struggle, documents the increasing number of writers with the same grievance, and gives an overview of what some have heard from lawyers.

…Still, after the success of Star Wars, Foster found himself a go-to person for movie novelizations. Over the years, he’s penned dozens of novelizations for franchises like AliensStar TrekDark Star, The Black Hole, Clash of the Titans, Outland, The Thing, Krull, The Last Starfighter, Starman, The Chronicles of Riddick, and others. They were all written in addition to his own original novels.

The nature of a work-for-hire contract means an author who’s written a tie-in novel will have little control over where their story ends up; how characters, situations, or details are used after they turn in their manuscript; and even the copyright of the work itself. It’s a tradeoff: Foster might not own the book, but the product may provide a steady revenue stream for years, especially if the franchise is popular with audiences. Write enough of them, and those tributaries will feed a healthy river.

Shortly after Disney acquired 20th Century Fox last year, Foster says that his royalties for his Alien novels stopped coming. He and his agent first attempted to resolve the issue with the book’s publisher, Warner Books. According to Foster’s agent Vaughn Hansen, while Foster and the organization [SFWA] were working to uncover the provenance of those rights, it became clear there were also missing payments for his Star Wars novels….

Unpaid royalties appear to be an issue that affects other writers. Four additional authors have come forward to Polygon to confirm that they haven’t been paid royalties for work now owned by Disney, for works that appear to have been transferred to other publishers: Rob MacGregor, who wrote the tie-in novel for Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, as well as several additional tie-in novels; Donald Glut, author of the Empire Strikes Back novelization; James Kahn, author Return of the Jedi and Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom novelizations; and Michael A. Stackpole, author of the X-Wing comics, Star Wars: Union, and Star Wars: Mara Jade — By the Emperor’s Hand. Without seeing contracts or the full details of the nature of the transfer of property from Lucasfilm to Disney, it’s hard to know if each author falls into the same situation as Foster, but the result appears to be the same: They haven’t received money that they feel entitled to for the work that they published….

(2) A NOBEL PURSUIT. The Arthur C. Clarke Center for Human Imagination’s Into the Impossible podcast has reached its milestone 100th episode: “100: Barry Barish – Black Holes, Nobel Prizes & The Imposter Syndrome”

Barry Barish is an emeritus professor at Caltech, where he has worked since 1963. He became director of the LIGO (Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory) project in 1997, which led to his Nobel Prize in 2017. He has many other awards and is a fellow of the National Academy of Sciences and American Physical Society, of which he was also president.

Barry joins our Nobel Minds playlist on the INTO THE IMPOSSIBLE podcast. He shared the 2017 Nobel Prize in Physics with Rai Weiss and Kip Thorne “for decisive contributions to the LIGO detector and the observation of gravitational waves.” We discuss Barry’s long and remarkable career that covers many disciplines within physics. It’s not the standard model, but he has a confidence about himself, and his contributions that make it seem perfectly natural to have been part of such varied, noteworthy projects during his career. Despite that, Barry also admits to feeling like an imposter at times, especially when singing the same Nobel register as Einstein. What a moment!

(3) A LEAGUE OF THEIR OWN. Not Pulp Covers is the place to admire Alphonse de Neuville’s engravings for 20000 Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne.

(4) SCREEN TIME. Kellie Doherty analyzes the experience of “Being a Panelist in a Virtual World” at Fantasy-Faction.

As an author, one key thing I always need to be doing is marketing, and events are wonderful marketing tools. Events allow us authors and other creatives to reach a new audience base, network with fellow creatives, and get our names out there. It allows people to gush about what they love while also opening doors for others who are looking to get into those fields. It even helps to demystify the careers of creatives. Plus, events are great for selling—vendor tables are usually bustling, and panels/workshops are key places to chat about all the creative endeavors.

But what about virtual events? Is it still a great experience for the panelists?…

(5) DON’T TOUCH THAT DIAL. “Stephen King Has Thoughts About Stephen King TV Shows” – and the New York Times takes notes as he shares them. For example —

‘It’

1990

This two-part ABC mini-series, an adaptation of King’s sprawling 1986 novel about a child-murdering monster in small-town Maine, is perhaps best remembered for Tim Curry’s frightening performance as Pennywise the Clown.

“I liked that series a lot, and I thought Tim Curry made a great Pennywise,” King said. “It scared the [expletive] out of a lot of kids at that time.”

In fact, King credits the impact of the series on children with the later success of the film version, which starred Bill Skarsgard as the diabolical clown and was a box-office sensation in 2017. (A 2019 sequel, based on the second half of the novel, was similarly successful.)

“One of the reasons the movie was a big hit was because kids remembered seeing it on TV,” King said. “So they went to see it.”

(6) POINT OF NO RETURN. “‘Heroes’ Was Supposed to Be Leonard Roberts’ Big Break. Instead, It Nearly Broke Him” – the actor tells Variety readers about the end of his time on the once-popular show.

As he details in his account below, he experienced immediate friction with his main co-star Ali Larter — and perceived indifference from creator and showrunner Tim Kring — that led him to feel singled out as a Black actor, a feeling that only grew more intense after he was fired from the show after its first season.

…As the first season played out, I learned two other non-white lead characters would be killed off and I started to wonder whether D.L. would suffer the same fate. His presence on the show kept getting smaller, and by the mid-season finale he had been shot more times than 2Pac. I even had my management inquire about the possibility of me being killed off. While I was initially thankful for the opportunity, the experience had become creatively unfulfilling and I thought moving on might be best for everyone. I was told, however, that the production’s response was “We love Leonard.” And in March 2007, while filming the penultimate episode of the season, a producer told me that I was indeed returning for Season 2. I took it as a positive sign, and looked forward to new possibilities.

One of our last publicity obligations that first season involved a photoshoot for Entertainment Weekly, in which cast members, based on their characters’ relationship on the show, were featured on collector’s edition covers. The release of the covers was to coincide with the network’s upfront presentation for the 2007-2008 season in New York.

Upon arriving backstage at Radio City Music Hall for a rehearsal, I caught my co-star’s eye. “I’m hearing our cover is selling the least of all of them,” she told me. It was the first and only thing she said to me that night and I believed the subtext was clear: I was tarnishing her brand….

(7) ANOTHER REASON TO BEWARE. Longshot Press owner Daniel Scott White, publisher of Unfit and Unreal magazines, doubles down on his unhinged strategy of making enemies of SFWA writers.

Two of his magazines were the subject of complaints last February, covered by File 770’s roundup: “Is This Practice Unreal or Unfit? It’s Both”. Then two weeks ago White called for submissions to the magazines, but added “Tip: SFWA members not eligible” (see here, item #2.)

White’s latest assault is against Benjamin C. Kinney, first person to put his name to the complaints brought out in February. Thread starts here.

And White is also working on a Nixonian enemies list.

(8) MEDIA ANNIVERSARY.

  • 2008 — Twelve years ago, Catherynne M. Valente had the unusual honor of winning the Mythopoeic Fantasy Award for Adult Literature for not one novel but for two novels in the same series, The Orphan’s Tales: In The Night Garden and  its sequel, The Orphan’s Tales: In the Cities of Coin and Spice. It is the only time that this has happened as far as we can determine. An Otherwise Award would also go to The Orphan’s Tales: In The Night Garden

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]

  • Born December 16, 1880 – Anna Alice Chapin.  Children’s book from the Victor Herbert operetta Babes in Toyland with its libretticist Glen MacDonough.  Half a dozen more fantasies; ten other books; shorter stories for magazines and newspapers; a play with her husband, and three more stories, made into films.  (Died 1920) [JH]  
  • Born December 16, 1917 Arthur C. Clarke. When I was resident in Sri Lanka courtesy of Uncle Sam in the early Eighties, nearly every American ex-pat I ran into was reading The Fountains of Paradise. The tea plantations he described therein are very awesome.  I never saw him but he was well known among the small British community there and I passed by his residence one day. I’ll admit that I’ve not read that much by him — Childhood’s EndRendezvous with Rama and that novel are the only long form works by him I’ve read.  I’ve read a lot of short fiction including of course Tales from The White Hart. I’m certain I’ve read The Nine Billion Names of God collection as well. And I’ve seen 2001 myriad times but I’ve never seen the sequel. (Died 2008.) (CE) 
  • Born December 16, 1927 Randall Garrett. Randall Garrett. Ahhh, Lord Darcy. When writing this up, I was gobsmacked to discover that he’d written only one such novel, Too Many Magicians, as I clearly remembered reading more than that number. Huh. That and two collections, Murder and Magic and Lord Darcy Investigates, is all there is of this brilliant series. (The later Lord Darcy collection has two previously uncollected stories.) Glen Cook’s Garrett P.I. is named in honor of Garrett.  I’ll admit I’ve not read anything else by him, so what else have y’all read? (Died 1987.) (CE):
  • Born December 16, 1937 Peter Dickinson. Author who was married from 1991 to his death to Robin McKinley.  He had a number of truly  great works, both genre and not genre, including EvaThe Tears of the Salamander and The Flight of DragonsThe Ropemaker garnered a well-deserved Mythopoeic Fantasy Award for Children’s Literature. His James Pibble upper class British mystery series are quite excellent as well. (Died 2015.) (CE)
  • Born December 16, 1928 – Philip K. Dick.  Four dozen novels, ten dozen shorter stories, half a dozen poems; letters in The Alien Critic and PsychoticRiverside QuarterlySF Commentary.  A Hugo for The Man in the High Castle; Campbell Memorial Award for Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said; British SF Ass’n Award for A Scanner Darkly; Kurd Laßwitz Prize for VALIS.  SF Hall of Fame.  See too The Shifting Realities of PKD (L. Sutin ed. 1995).  Curiouser and curiouser.  (Died 1982) [JH]
  • Born December 16, 1937 – Norm Metcalf.  His Index of SF Magazines 1951-1965 followed Day’s Index to the SF Magazines 1926-1950.  His fanzine New Frontiers drew contributions from fannish pros e.g. Poul Anderson, Tony Boucher, Sprague de Camp.  Active in many apas, e.g. FAPA (fifty years), IPSOOMPASAPS (forty years), SFPAThe Cult.  (Died 2019) [JH]  
  • Born December 16, 1948 – Steve Forty, age 72.  Indispensable Vancouver fan.  Served as President of BCSFA (British Columbia SF Ass’n – to bring in a Tom Digby joke, not its real name, which is West Coast SF Ass’n), editor of BCSFAzine, chair of VCON 20, perhaps inevitably Fan Guest of Honour at VCON 40.  BCSFAzine was printed by Gestetner mimeograph until the late 1980s; S.40 had at least six Gestetners, each carrying a different colour ink (note spelling, these are Canadians), so as to manage multi-color covers.  BCSFA’s VCON Ambassador for Life.  Aptly a steel-burnisher by trade.  To us in the States he is the North Forty, but what do we know?  [JH]
  • Born December 16, 1956 – Alexander Bouchard, age 64.  Fanzines Scopus:3007Lightning Round.  Podcaster, costumer, conner (we have filkers, costumers –).  Fanwriting at least as early as “Asimov, the Foundation of SF” in Lan’s Lantern 34.  I’ve heard of but not seen the vegan electric-pressure-cooker recipe book over this name so can’t say if his, but you probably know fans who’re vegan electric pressure cookers.  [JH]
  • Born December 16, 1957 Mel Odom, 63. An author deep into mining franchise universes with work done into the BuffyverseOutlandersTime PoliceRogue Angel (which I’ve listen to a lot as GraphicAudio as produced them as most excellent audioworks) and weirder stuff such as the Left Behind Universe and Tom Clancy’s Net Force Explorers, both I think game tie-ins. (CE) 
  • Born December 16, 1967 Miranda Otto, 53. She was Éowyn in the second and third installments of Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings film franchise. (I stopped watching after The Fellowship of The Rings.) She‘s Zelda Spellman in Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, and Mary Ann Davis in Spielberg’s version of The War of The Worlds. She also played Wueen Lenore inI, Frankenstein which had an an amazing cast even if the Tomatometer gives it’s 5% rating. (CE)
  • Born December 16, 1971 – Roz Clarke, age 49.  Three anthologies with Joanne Hall (2 vols. of Airship Shape and Bristol FashionFight Like a Girl); four short stories.  “Haunt-Type Experience” reprinted in Stories for Chip (i.e. S.R. Delany; tribute anthology).  [JH]

(10) THE WATCH. A trailer is out for The Watch Season 1. Premieres January 3.

Anyone can be a hero. ‘The Watch’, an all-new series inspired by characters created by Sir Terry Pratchett stars Richard Dormer as Vimes and Lara Rossi as Lady Sybil Ramkin.

(11) ON THE BOTTOM. John Picacio tweeted photos of his 2020 Hugo which features something I’ve never seen on the trophy before – writing on the bottom of the base. The text explains the design elements.

(12) TIME CONSIDERED. “Christopher Nolan On Why Time Is A Recurring Theme In His Movies”: NPR’s “All Things Considered” interviewed the filmmaker. Audio and a transcript at the link.

CHRISTOPHER NOLAN: Time is the most cinematic of subjects because before the movie camera came along, human beings had no way of seeing time backwards, slowed down, sped up. And I think that went some way to sort of explain to me why I’ve been interested in exploring it in movies because I think there’s a really productive relationship. And I had this visual notion of a bullet that’s in a wall, being sucked out of the wall and into the barrel of the gun it was fired from. And I put the image in “Memento,” my early film, as a…

(13) AN EXPANSIVE LETTER TO THE EDITOR. [Item by Daniel P. Dern] “Catching Up to ‘The Expanse,’ the Space Opera You Love” is a review by Mike Hale at the New York Times.

“The undisputed heir to ‘Battlestar Galactica’ begins its fifth (and next to last) season on Amazon Prime Video.”

DPD comments (note, I’m also submitting a shortened-for-length-restrictions version of this to the NYTimes online comments to the review, which already has a modest but informed discussion going):

While this is basically a favorable-enough review of the TV series, I want to pick a few nits, from the perspective who

a) is a life-long sf fan — written, also comics, movies and TV

b) has read all the Expanse books (and some of the novellas/stories) and is current watching the previous seasons

c) Never watched the original Battlestar G; watched maybe 2-3 eps of the 2004 reboot.

1) Hale says, with respect to The Expanse (show), “The series capably fulfills the basic requirement of speculative science-fiction: It keeps you guessing about where the journey’s going to end.”

Huh? This makes me wonder how much Hale knows about science fiction as a genre, as opposed to having watched a bunch. Discuss amongst yourselves.

2) “With regard to the show’s intensely devoted following, a binge only confirms what was obvious from the first few episodes. ‘The Expanse’ is the natural heir to the cult-favorite ‘Battlestar Galactica’ (2004-9); it’s another old-fashioned, hard-core space adventure set within an up-to-date clash-of-civilizations political allegory. It was an easy move for the ‘Galactica’ faithful.”

Since, like I said above, I haven’t watched (enough) B/G, I can’t agree or disagree with the “natural heir” point, nor whether B/G faithful found it an “easy move.” I will challenge “allegory” (and I’m dubious about “civilizations”).

3) “’The Expanse’ operates on a smaller, more intimate scale than ‘Galactica,’ …it doesn’t imagine ships zapping among star clusters. It’s contained within our solar system.” Hello? Venus whack? Galactic gateway? I’m not convinced Hale has watched the most recent two seasons. Or wasn’t paying attention.

4) “’The Expanse’ builds its future world in a schematic way that provides an efficient framework for plot and, I’m guessing, appeals to viewers who like their science-fiction highly diagramed.”

I’m not sure what Hale means by “schematic,” much less “highly diagrammed,” and even if I did, I don’t think I’d agree, assuming I could figure out what he meant. I mean, you could make similar claims about Game of Thrones, no?

5) “Into this setup, the show introduced a golem-like alien substance (called, with a notable lack of imagination, the protomolecule)”

“Notable lack of imagination”? Talk about setting phrasers to “Snark!”

“In its facelessness and inexorability, it was a decent stand-in for the cylons of ‘Galactica.’””

First, isn’t Cylon a proper noun, worth of initial-capping?

Arguably, also, the p-mol isn’t completely faceless, e.g., using the appearance (and perhaps more) of Detective Miller at times, to manifest to James “F***ing” Holden.

Like I said, Hale’s review is basically positive, but the off-notes irk me. Again, my theory is that Hale’s watched his share of TV/movie sf, but hasn’t read a significant amount of it.

Anyhoo, I’m looking forward to the new season.

(14) DRAWN THAT WAY. Publishers Weekly asked critics to name the year’s best graphic novels. Not too much genre on their list, unless you’re coming from a place that all graphic novels check that box: ‘”Kent State’ On Top of PW’s 2020 Graphic Novel Critics Poll”.

Released in September during the 50th anniversary year of the 1970 tragedy, Kent State: Four Dead in Ohio (Abrams ComicArts) by veteran comics journalist Derf Backderf garnered the majority of votes in PW’s annual Graphic Novel Critic’s Poll, receiving eight votes from a panel of 14 comics critics.

The PW Graphic Novel Critics Poll is compiled by asking participating critics to list up to 10 trade book releases they consider the best graphic novel and comics works of the year. The book receiving the most votes wins; and we share the remaining top vote-recipients. Titles listed as Honorable Mentions each received a single vote. Taking part in this year’s poll are PW graphic novel reviewers Gilcy Aquino, Chris Barsanti, Maurice Boyer, Rob Clough, John DiBello, Glen Downey, Shaenon Garrity, Rob Kirby, Cheryl Klein, Maia Kobabe, Sarah Mirk, and Samantha Riedel. Also participating are PW Graphic Novels Reviews editor Meg Lemke and PW senior news editor Calvin Reid.

(15) VIDEO OF YESTERDAY. Family Planning (1968) on YouTube is a 1968 Disney cartoon, featuring Donald Duck, done in cooperation with the Population Council.

(16) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] “Shazam!  The History of Shazam!” on YouTube is a 2019 documentary, narrated by Cooper Andrews, about the character originally known as Captain Marvel and, from 2011 onwards, completely known as Shazam.  It’s of course tied in to the 2019 movie Shazam, and we learn that the reason Billy Batson in the movie is part of a foster family was because of a 2012 revision of the character by Geoff Johns.  I think the lawsuits over whether Captain Marvel was a Superman knockoff are more interesting than the character itself.  It’s primarily comics-oriented because the only filmed appearances of the character until 2019 were in a 1940s serial and what looks like a cheezy 1970s Saturday morning series,  I think the most fun facts in the documentary are a visit to the DC archive (known as the Vault) and learning that one of the chief enemies of Captain Marvel, Dr. Sivana, was modeled after co-creator C.C. Beck’s dentist. I did think it was worth an hour.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, JJ, Daniel Dern, Cat Eldridge, Martin Morse Wooster, Michael Toman, John Hertz, Mike Kennedy, Andrew Liptak, Trey Palmer, Rich Lynch, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Jayn.]

A Bradbury Centennial-and-a-Half

A roundup of Ray Bradbury links.

(1) PUBLIC RADIO. Morning Edition has clips from last month’s Read-A-Thon in “Marking The Centennial Of Author Ray Bradbury’s Birth”.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

This month marks the 100th anniversary of the birth of science fiction writer Ray Bradbury. Oh, I remember reading “The Illustrated Man” when I was a kid in school. NPR’s Petra Mayer reports on his legacy.

PETRA MAYER, BYLINE: Ray Bradbury is sometimes called the poet of science fiction. His words demand to be read aloud.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

MARJORIE LIU: (Reading) He opened the bedroom door. It was like coming into the cold marble room of the mausoleum after the moon has set.

MAYER: That’s author and comics creator Marjorie Liu taking part in a massive online read-a-thon of Bradbury’s classic “Fahrenheit 451,” held to mark his hundredth birthday. This is the moment where Montag, the hero, finds his wife overdosed on sleeping pills.

(2) A HALF-CENTENNIAL. At the Soho Photo Gallery — “Elizabeth Nahum-Albright – I Saw it at Ray’s House”.  

I Saw it at Ray’s House is a photographic journey through more than 70 images that captures moments of magic and gentle decline in the house of Science Fiction giant, Ray Bradbury (1920-2012). Many of the photos were taken the year after he passed away, as books and objects that defined his seventy-year career were staged and packed for preservation. Some were taken while he still lived and wrote in the house; I had a unique and deeply personal connection to the author, allowing me unique access to the space where he lived for more than half a century. These photographs have become a study of a person who was deeply engaged in many aspects of American culture. They are the last photos of the house as it was when Bradbury occupied it, and together they offer points for reflection on the themes of collection, as well as what a person’s possessions say about who they were and what they valued. The project is a study in how we touch everyone we’re close to–– when we pass on we leave something behind, whether it be physical objects or memories that continue to live with those we cared about. 

(3) FEARSOME COMICS. “Seasons Of Terror Brings Stephen King and Ray Bradbury Comics”Bleeding Cool has the lowdown.

Seasons of Terror is a graphic anthology that features four stories adapted to comic books by Richard Chizmar. The stories are by Ray Bradbury, Shirley Jackson, Stephen King, and Robert McCammon. Each story is illustrated by a different artist, Dennis Calero, Ray Fawkes, Francois Vaillancourt and Steve Wands.

(4) DON’T EXPECT TO READ IT. The new issue of The American Scholar has an unpublished Ray Bradbury story, “The Joke” – which you have to be a subscriber to read (so why am I linking to it?)

Although best known for his 1953 novel Fahrenheit 451, Ray Bradbury was also a prolific writer of short stories, having published his first while still a teenager. This previously unpublished story likely dates to 1950, the year The Martian Chronicles appeared. Bradbury brought a fertile imagination to bear on his works of fantasy, horror, and science fiction—some of the most popular of the last century. As his close friend and bibliographer Donn Albright remembers, that imagination kept firing even while the writer was asleep. “Ray woke in middle of the night,” Albright recalls, “and would write dreams down, then later go back and ‘finish’ them. It’s the case here and in many of his stories.” Bradbury, however, never quite finished “The Joke.” According to the scholar Jonathan Eller, the writer meant to compose one additional scene, in which the protagonist, a young writer named Charlie, meets his friend Hank at a bar, on the night of his 30th birthday. Bradbury sketched the scene out in three sentences, which we include here in italics. —Ed.

(5) DOGGING IT. Episode 6 of Jeffrey Kahan’s Mentors and Role Models Podcast has a Bradbury angle: “Phil Nichols and I talk Bradbury, Bloch, and Pink’s Hotdogs!”

Along the way they reference this video of Harlan Ellison reading.

(6) BRADBURY IN THE PULPS. The latest issue of The Pulpster features coverage of the Ray Bradbury centennial.

…It won’t be a regular edition. Think of it as THE PULPSTER ANNUAL. While not Sears Roebuck catalog thick like an AMAZING STORIES ANNUAL, number 29 of THE PULPSTER will be almost twice as large as last year’s edition, coming in at 84 pages plus covers.

And a lot of great content will be filling those pages!

THE PULPSTER has two major themes this year: the 100th anniversary of the birth of author Ray Bradbury, and the 100th anniversary of the debut of BLACK MASK.

(7) TRILOGY COMPLETED. Steven Paul Leiva reviews the third and final book in Jonathan R. Eller’s Bradbury biography: “With Bradbury Beyond Apollo A Clear-Eyed And Penetrating Bio Is Concluded”.

With the publication of Bradbury Beyond Apollo (University of Illinois Press), Jonathan R. Eller has completed his three-volume self-designated “biography of a mind” of the author of Fahrenheit 451, The Martian Chronicles, Something Wicked This Way Comes, Dandelion Wine, and hundreds of published short stories. Eller began with Becoming Ray Bradbury in 2011, followed that up with Ray Bradbury Unbound in 2014, and it has been six long years for this conclusion to reach us. Although the book’s publication date of August 22, 2020, the centenary of Bradbury’s birth, is so appropriate, it is easy to forgive Eller. 

The obvious question then is, was it worth the wait? I suppose each reader must answer that for themselves, but it was for me.

… I have a particular affection for this third volume, as it includes the years I knew Bradbury as a colleague and friend from 1977 to the end of his life. Indeed, I come in as a minor character in Bradbury’s story when Eller writes about our work together on a film project (unfulfilled and unsatisfactory for us both) in 1982-83. And my organizing of a series of city-wide events celebrating Bradbury’s 90th birthday in 2010, Ray Bradbury Week in Los Angeles. But affection is not assessment, and in assessing this volume, I was struck not only by Eller’s compassionate if still objective eye on Bradbury but by just how fine a writer Eller is himself.

(8) LYRICAL BRADBURY TRIBUTE. Today’s roundup concludes with a Filer’s verse left as a comment in 2018.


By Peer

Now I feelpressure inside the mountain
I feel pressure, burning the peers
And I feel pressure, hollowing souls
And I feel pressure, filing the peer
And I hope you remember thee

Oh, should my pixels scroll
Then surely I’ll do the same
Confined in ticked boxes
We got too close to the Baen
Calling out Ray hold fast and we will
Watch the books burn on and on the martian side
Dandelion comes upon the wine

(With pressure from Ed Sheeran)


[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Dennis Howard, and Martin Morse Wooster for some of these stories.]

Pixel Scroll 8/31/20 Inspired By Cordwainer Smith And Seeing
A Sign Backwards

(1) THE BROTHERS STRUGATSKY. “Striving to become: how a former officer changed Russian science fiction” at Pledge Times.

,,,,But it was Arkady Strugatsky who was the first to understand that if they really want to “break out, break through, ah,” then the last thing they need to do for this is to become normal good science fiction writers.

He formulates the credo of the Strugatsky writers back in 1959: “Our works should be entertaining, not only and not so much in their idea – even if the idea has been sucked by fools ten times before – but in a) the breadth and ease of presentation of scientific material; “Down with Zhulvernovshchina”, we must look for very precise, short, clever formulations designed for a developed student of the tenth grade; b) according to the good language of the author and the diverse language of the heroes; c) by the reasonable courage of introducing into the narrative the assumptions “on the verge of the possible” in the field of nature and technology and by the strictest realism in the actions and behavior of the heroes; d) by a bold, bold and once again bold appeal to any genres that seem acceptable in the course of the story for a better depiction of a particular situation. Not to be afraid of light sentimentality in one place, rude adventurism in another, a little philosophizing in the third, amorous shamelessness in the fourth, etc. Such a mixture of genres should give things an even greater flavor of the extraordinary. Isn’t the extraordinary our main theme? “

(2) MAGICAL POWERS. James Davis Nicoll asks the Young People Read Old SFF panel what they think about “The Putnam Tradition” by Sonya Hess Dorman.

Sonya Hess Dorman’s science fiction career lasted about a generation and produced enough short pieces to fill a collection, as a well as a fix-up. I first encountered Dorman via her ?“When I Was Miss Dow”, reprinted in Pamela Sargent’s ground-breaking Women of Wonder (as well as many other anthologies). ?“When I Was Miss Dow” was considered for a Nebula, although it didn’t make the finalist list, and it won a retrospective Tiptree. Odds on the favourite for inclusion in Rediscovery. That is not the call Journey Press made. Journey Press eschews the easy choices.

One wonders, therefore, what my Young People will make of the Dorman Journey did select.

(3) STAND AND DELIVERY DATE. ScreenRant looks for clues to the forthcoming series: “The Stand Trailer Teases the Aftermath of the Modern-Day Plague”. The limited weekly show will debut on CBS All-Access on December 17, 2020. ScreenRant adds:

King has reportedly written a new ending for The Stand, which isn’t surprising considering he has released multiple versions of the novel since its initial release in 1978.

(4) SFF EXHIBIT ARCHIVED ONLINE. “A Conversation larger than the Universe: science fiction and the literature of the fantastic” is a website that provides an illustrated record of the books and other materials displayed at the Grolier Club in New York City from January to March 2018. 

It suggests, among other things, a history of science fiction from its Gothic roots to the present. Items are arranged here chronologically and the labels are keyed to numbers in the exhibition checklist included in A Conversation larger than the Universe. Readings in Science Fiction and the Fantastic 1762-2017, published by the Grolier Club (and available here). 

In the original exhibition, the entries were grouped in four broad periods: from 1762 to 1912 (nos. 1-14); the interwar years (nos. 15-27); the late 1940s through 1980 (nos. 28-49); and from 1981 to the present (nos. 50-70); there are seven chronological headings here, and three additional headings offer new ways of making connections between the works. A very few items displayed at the Grolier Club are not reproduced on this website.

(5) IF YOU EVER ASKED, “WHERE IS MY FLYING CAR?” CNN reports “Japanese company successfully tests a manned flying car for the first time”.

A Japanese company has announced the successful test drive of a flying car.

Sky Drive Inc. conducted the public demonstration on August 25, the company said in a news release, at the Toyota Test Field, one of the largest in Japan and home to the car company’s development base. It was the first public demonstration for a flying car in Japanese history.

The car, named SD-03, manned with a pilot, took off and circled the field for about four minutes.

“We are extremely excited to have achieved Japan’s first-ever manned flight of a flying car in the two years since we founded SkyDrive… with the goal of commercializing such aircraft,” CEO Tomohiro Fukuzawa said in a statement.

(6) IN THE TRASH. Alan Stewart’s report of site selection voting in CoNZealand Progess Report #4, released today,prompted a critical response from Cade. Thread starts here.

(7) SOMETHING NEW. As Variety notes, it may not be big as Hollywood measures things, it’s just the biggest thing going: “Box Office: ‘New Mutants’ Lands $7 Million Debut”

Superhero thriller “The New Mutants,” one of the first major movies to open since coronavirus forced theaters to close in March, launched to $7 million over the weekend. Though ticket sales were on the lower end of expectations, the Disney and 20th Century Studios title marks the biggest debut yet for a new release during the pandemic.

Around 60-70% of theaters have reopened across the U.S. and Canada, according to Disney. However, some of the biggest moviegoing markets, including Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle, Washington DC, New Jersey and New York, still remain closed. In parts of the country where theaters have resumed business, venues are capping capacity and keeping space between seats to comply with social distancing measures. “The New Mutants” played in 2,412 theaters, making it the widest release in months.

(8) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

  • August 31, 1979 Time After Time premiered. (It would lose out to Alien for Best Dramatic Presentation at Noreascon Two.)  It was directed by Nicholas Meyer who wrote the screenplay from a story by Karl Alexander and Steve Hayes, and produced by Herb Jaffe. The primary cast was Malcolm McDowell, David Warner and Mary Steenburgen. Reception by critics was unambiguously positive, the box office was good and the audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes currently give it a 72% rating. 

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]

  • Born August 31, 1908 – William Saroyan.  This remarkable Armenian American gave us a short novel Tracy’s Tiger and a handful of short stories.  One was in Unknown Worlds!  Outside our field his play The Time of Your Life won a Pulitzer Prize, which he refused, saying commerce should not judge the arts; his screenplay for The Human Comedy, rejected as too long, he made into a novel and won an Academy Award for Best Story.  In 1991 the U.S.A. and U.S.S.R. jointly issued postage stamps honoring him.  (Died 1981) [JH]
  • Born August 31, 1914 Richard Basehart. He’s best remembered as Admiral Harriman Nelson in Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea. He also portrayed Wilton Knight in the later Knight Rider series. And he appeared in “Probe 7, Over and Out”, an episode of The Twilight Zone. (Died 1984.) (CE) 
  • Born August 31, 1927 – Ted Coconis, 93.  Illustrates children’s books e.g. Newbery Award winner The Summer of the Swans.  For us, here is Camber of Culdi.  Here is Labyrinth.  Here is A Matter of Time.  Here is Dorian Gray.  Here is Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 14.  [JH]
  • Born August 31, 1941 – Larry Schwinger, 79.  Six dozen covers, a handful of interiors.  Here is The Owl Service.  Here is Star Rangers.  Here is On Basilisk Station.  Here is the Jul 95 Burroughs Bulletin.  Here is Kindred.  [JH]
  • Born August 31, 1942 – Alan J. Lewis, 78.  Member of the leading apas of his day, FAPAOMPASAPS, he famously in the mid-1960s organized the Fanzine Foundation which shipped a ton of fanzines – really; more than 2,800 pounds – to Bruce Pelz, where they became part of his elephantine collection; this at BP’s death went to Univ. California at Riverside.  [JH]
  • Born August 31, 1949 Richard Gere, 71. He was Lancelot in First Knight starring Sean Connery as King Arthur, and  he was Joe Klein in The Mothman Prophecies. That’s it for genre video work. First Knight for me is more than enough to get Birthday Honors, but he also was in live performances of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead in the Sixties. (CE) 
  • Born August 31, 1968 – Néné Thomas, 52.  As it happens she was Graphic Artist Guest of Honor at InCon the year I was Fan Guest of Honor; since then, Loscon 29, Windycon 37, MidSouthCon 29, ConQuesT 46.  Artbooks Parting the VeilThe Unwinding Path.  Here is Aveliad: the Forest done as a 1,000-piece puzzle.  Also she makes cross-stitch charts and decorative resin butterflies.  [JH]
  • Born August 31, 1969 Jonathan LaPaglia, 51. The lead in Seven Days which I’ve noted before is one of my favorite SF series. Other than playing Prince Seth of Delphi in a really bad film called Gryphon which aired on the Sci-fi channel, that’s his entire genre history as far as I can tell unless you count the Bones series as SF in which he’s in “The Skull in the Sculpture” episode as Anton Deluca. (CE)
  • Born August 31, 1974 Marc Webb, 46. Director of The Amazing Spider-Man and The Amazing Spider-Man 2, as well as the forthcoming Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. He’s also directed over ninety music videos over the past several decades with the first being Blues Traveler’s “Canadian Rose”.  (CE) 
  • Born August 31, 1982 G. Willow Wilson, 38. A true genius. There’s her amazing work on the Hugo Award winning Ms. Marvel series starring Kamala Khan which I recommend strongly, and that’s not to say that her superb Air series shouldn’t be on your reading list as well. Oh, and the Cairo graphic novel with its duplicitous djinn is quite the read. The only thing I’ve by her that I’ve not quite liked is her World Fantasy Award winning Alif the Unseen novel.  I’ve not yet read her Wonder Women story: should I? (CE)
  • Born August 31, 1984 – Cassandra Khaw, 36.  Her work is horrible – I mean, on purpose.  Or we could call it horrific.  She knows and includes Southeast Asian images.  Hammers on Bone is one of four Re-imagining Lovecraft novellas.  Fifty short stories, half a dozen poems, in ApexDaily SFGamutThe Magazine of Fantasy & Science FictionUncanny; interviewed in LightspeedMithila ReviewNightmare.  Ranks Oor Wombat’s Castle Hangnail above Lukyankenko’s Night Watch and Pratchett’s too.  [JH]
  • Born August 31, 1992 Holly Earl, 28. English actress who was Kela in Beowulf: Return to the Shieldlands, and Agnes in Humans. She also played the young Kristine Kochanski in Red Dwarf in the “Pete, Part One” as well as Lily Arwell in the most excellent Eleventh Doctor story, “The Doctor, the Widow and the Wardrobe.“ She was Céline in the “Musketeers Don’t Die Easily” episode of Musketeers, and played Hermia in the ‘18 A Midsummer Night’s Dream film. (CE) 

(10) COMICS SECTION.

(11) DC IGNORES COMICS SHOPS. Cliff Biggers, owner of Dr. No’s Comics in Marietta, GA told Facebook followers today:

DC’s latest slap in the face to comic shops: in all their promotional information about Batman Day, they don’t mention anything about comic shops or what they intend to do for our market (probably because, as in years past, they don’t intend to do ANYTHING for our market). Short of beating us up and stealing our lunch money, there isn’t much more that DC can do to show their contempt for comic shops that would surprise me any more.

(12) BATMAN NEWS. This is from U.S. News: “Batman Prowls Streets of Santiago Delivering Food to Homeless”

There is a masked crusader on the streets of Santiago, Chile this summer.  But rather than fighting criminals, Solidarity Batman delivers hot meals.  Months of lockdown have caused hardship in Chile, where unemployment has reached a record 12 percent.  Recently, an unidentified man has been donning a full Batman suit, plus a surgical mask for coronavirus protection, and travelling through the capital city sharing sympathy and plates of food.  Almost anybody can be like him, the everyday superhero says.  ‘Look around you, see if you can dedicate a little time, a little food, a little shelter, a word sometimes of encouragement to those who need it.

(13) NUMBER FIVE, NUMBER FIVE. James Davis Nicoll counts up ”Five SFF Stories Featuring Truly Terrible Parents”.

Parents! Pesky narrative roadblocks when writing books centred on young people. Common, garden-variety parents want to make sure their offspring are healthy and happy, which is a problem for writers who want to send young protagonists off into danger. Authors can, of course, dispatch parents to a location too distant for them to interfere or simply kill them off—both very popular choices—but there is another alternative: Simply have the parents themselves (or their equivalent) be part of the problem….

(14) STRANGE AUCTION ITEM: Heritage Auctions is taking bids on a fragment salvaged from the Hindenburg wreckage. Current bid is $5,000.

Graf Zeppelin Hindenburg: Large Section of Aluminum Framework. 28″ long section of the strut or framework used to construct the famous dirigible Hindenburg, destroyed in a catastrophic & dramatic explosion on May 6, 1937, while attempting to dock at the Naval Air Station in Lakehurst, New Jersey. The scene was captured on film and broadcast live via radio. The reason for the explosion remains elusive and controversial, even to this day. It is thought that a spark of static electricity might have ignited the flammable outer skin. Various relics from the event come on the market from time to time, but none are as sought-after as sections of the strut work. This example is covered in deep emerald and black carbon deposits. It is accompanied by a July 14, 2020 Letter of Provenance that indicates a workman in the clean-up crew, Harry Manyc, was permitted to take home a large section of the “ribbing” as a souvenir, from which pieces, like this, were parceled out over the years.

(15) WHERE HE GOT HIS LICENSE. At BBC Sounds, a 9-minute “Witness History” segment: “Inventing James Bond”.

The author Ian Fleming created the fictional super-spy, James Bond, in the 1950s. Fleming, a former journalist and stockbroker, had served in British naval intelligence during the Second World War. Using interviews with Fleming and his friends from the BBC archive, Alex Last explores how elements of James Bond were drawn from Ian Fleming’s own adventurous life.

(16) BE THE ENTRÉE. We ran an item before about what visitors can eat here – now read about something there that’s ready to swallow them: “Godzilla Museum Allows You to Zipline Into the Kaiju’s Mouth”.

The Godzilla Museum located in Japan is now open. The Attraction features tons of Godzilla memorabilia, interactive sections and a themed menu. Most notably, the upcoming giant true-to-size statue that allows you to zipline into Godzilla’s mouth to perform a mission.

(17) UPSTAIRS, DOWNSTAIRS. In these homes, it’s not the staff you’ll find below stairs: “Truly, madly, deeply: meet the people turning their basements into secret fantasy worlds” in The Guardian.

…Shron needed the perfect basement because, for nearly 30 years, he had dreamed of building a life-size replica of a 1970s Canadian VIA Rail railway carriage inside his house, the exact train that took him from Toronto to Montreal to visit his grandmother when he was a little boy.

Step inside Shron’s basement today and you will be greeted by a 200lb blue-and-yellow train door. As you pass through it, an MP3 player will hiss the sounds of air circulation accompanied by the squeaking of gangway connections. Inside the carriage there are rows of vintage reclinable red-and-orange-striped seats, luggage racks, a real VIA garbage can removed from a scrapped train and a metal sign instructing passengers that smoking is indeed permitted. What Shron couldn’t find on the scrap heap, he made. He printed out orange litter bags, custom-printed napkins and engraved wine glasses.

“The great thing was it ended up looking exactly as I’d envisioned it,” the 45-year-old says of his basement train, which took him four-and-a-half years to build and cost $10,000 (the scrapped carriage alone cost $5,000). “I fell in love with VIA trains from the age of two – I became madly obsessed, it’s all I would talk about, all I wanted.” Shron recreated the train that he took to visit family to tap into “that very warm, comfortable, positive energy” he felt as a child. “I get a little bit of that every time I go down to the train.”

Shron’s basement is an unusual thing, but it is perhaps a little more common than you’d expect. A number of people have created their own “worlds” underneath their homes. In late May, the listing for a Maryland mansion went viral after a Twitter user discovered a fake town inside the basement. The basement features cobbled streets, 15 shopfronts, fake flowers and real vintage cars. But even this isn’t unusual. More than a decade ago, a YouTube video documented the basement of John Scapes, an Illinois man who had built an 1890s street under his home.

[Thanks to Andrew Porter, John King Tarpinian, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, John Hertz, Cat Eldridge, Michael Toman, James Davis Nicoll, and Mike Kennedy for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day James Moar.]

Pixel Scroll 7/24/20 Khrushchev’s Due At Tralfamadore. File 770, Where Are You?

(1) COMIC-CON STREAM IS LEGAL, GETS BLOCKED ANYWAY. “Cartoon Network and Star Trek Panels at San Diego Comic-Con Were Blocked by Youtube’s ContentID” – which reminded The Digital Reader of what happened to the Hugo Awards livestream in 2012.

Alas, no one was paying attention to Youtube’s ContentID copyright bot yesterday until after it shut down a couple officially sponsored livestreams from San Diego Comic-con. The first to get the boot was a Star Trek panel, and then a couple hours later Cartoon Network’s panel was also cut off.

Here’s why this is newsworthy: Both of these panels were blocked by Youtube the networks were streaming content that belonged to the networks.

Ars Technica reported “CBS’ overzealous copyright bots hit Star Trek virtual Comic-Con panel”

ViacomCBS kicked things off today with an hour-long panel showing off its slew of current and upcoming Star Trek projects: DiscoveryPicardLower Decks, and Strange New Worlds.

The panel included the cast and producers of Discovery doing a read-through of the first act of the season 2 finale, “Such Sweet Sorrow, Part 2.” The “enhanced” read-through included sound effects, effects shots, and storyboard images meant to bolster the actors as they delivered lines from their living rooms and home offices.

Even if the presentation didn’t look like a real episode of Discovery to the home viewer, it apparently sounded close enough: after the Star Trek Universe virtual panel began viewers began to lose access to the stream. In place of the video, YouTube displayed a content ID warning reading: “Video unavailable: This video contains content from CBS CID, who has blocked it on copyright grounds.”

After being blacked out for about 20 minutes, the panel was restored, and the recording of the virtual panel has no gaps in playback.

The Digital Reader reminded everyone: 

This is not the first time that livestreams have been blocked when they were legally using content; I am reminded of the  Worldcon awards dinner livestream that was shut down because someone played a Doctor Who clip. The video had been provided by the BBC (the show had won an award that year) but apparently no one told Ustream’s bot.

(2) TIME IS DRAGON ALONG. The Dragon Award nominations closed July 17, so what better day for their site to make its first post in over a year? Er, wait, it’s July 24! Makes a good reason to call it “A Blast from the Past (Winners) – Part 1”:

…Now in its sixth year, the Dragon Con hosted Dragon Awards has proven to be the defining “must” list for the greatest in genre novels, media, comics, and games. While the world is locked inside, members and fans have turned to past award winners to build their reading lists.

We reached out to eight winners and asked them to talk about their award-winning novels, their other works, the Dragon Awards ceremony, and what they have coming up that they would like to share….

This is your chance say as much as you want right now to tell all the fans what they should know about you as a person and author, your work, and your career.

…Harry Turtledove: It’s all L. Sprague de Camp’s fault. I found his Lest Darkness Fall in a secondhand bookstore when I was about 15, and started trying to find out how much he was making up (very little) and how much was real (most). And so, after flunking out of Caltech the end of my freshman year (calculus was much tougher than I was), I wound up studying Byzantine history at UCLA. I got my PhD in 1977. If I hadn’t found that book then, I wouldn’t have written most of what I’ve written. I would have written something–I already had the bug–but it wouldn’t be alternate history. I wouldn’t be married to my wife; I met her when I was teaching at UCLA while my professor had a guest appointment in Greece. I wouldn’t have the kids and grandkids I have. I wouldn’t be living where I’m living. Other than that, it didn’t change my life a bit. Imagining me without reading Lest Darkness Fall is alternate history on the micro-historical level.

(3) FAN RESOURCES. Congratulations to Fanac.org for reaching new milestones in preserving fanhistory.

FANAC by the Numbers. Numbers can be misleading, but they do give us some idea of the progress we are making in documenting our fan history. As of today, we have 11,526 fanzine issues consisting of more than 179,423 pages. This is up from the 10,000 fanzine issues and 150,000 pages reported in our April update. Our YouTube channel is now at 621 subscribers, and 90,356 views, up from last time’s 500 and 75,000. Fancyclopedia 3 has exceeded 32,000 items.

(4) TIED UP AT THE DOCK. Next year’s JoCo Cruise, technically a Jonathan Coulton fan cruise but really a week-long ocean cruise of all sorts of nerdery, science fiction fandom, and boardgaming, has been postponed a year to March 5-12, 2022. John Scalzi, a regular participant, also wrote a post about the announcement.

(5) COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT SUIT UPDATE. Publishers Weekly reports on the defendants’ appeal in the media: “Internet Archive to Publishers: Drop ‘Needless’ Copyright Lawsuit and Work with Us”

During a 30-minute Zoom press conference on July 22, Internet Archive founder Brewster Kahle urged the four major publishers suing over the organization’s book scanning efforts to consider settling the dispute in the boardroom rather than the courtroom.

“Librarians, publishers, authors, all of us should be working together during this pandemic to help teachers, parents, and especially students,” Kahle implored. “I call on the executives of Hachette, HarperCollins, Wiley, and Penguin Random House to come together with us to help solve the challenging problems of access to knowledge during this pandemic, and to please drop this needless lawsuit.”

Kahle’s remarks came as part of a panel, which featured a range of speakers explaining and defending the practice of Controlled Digital Lending (CDL), the legal theory under which the Internet Archive has scanned and is making available for borrowing a library of some 1.4 million mostly 20th century books….

But the practice of CDL has long rankled author and publisher groups—and those tensions came to a head in late March when the IA unilaterally announced its now closed National Emergency Library initiative, which temporarily removed access restrictions for its scans of books, making the books available for multiple users to borrow during the Covid-19 outbreak. On June 1, Hachette, HarperCollins, John Wiley & Sons, and Penguin Random House filed a copyright infringement lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.

In a press release announcing the suit, executives at the Association of American Publishers said the Internet Archive’s scanning program was not a public service, but an attempt “to bludgeon the legal framework that governs copyright investments and transactions in the modern world,” and compared it to the “largest known book pirate sites in the world.”..

(6) GEEK PARTNERSHIP SOCIETY FUNDRAISER. At least four Minneapolis-St. Paul conventions call the Geek Partnership Society’s office space home, and a host of other groups use it, too (listed below). The facility may not be able to afford to stay open, and after three weeks the GPS GoFundMe has raised only $13,010 of its $40,000 goal.

Geek Partnership Society may not be able to honor the terms of its lease and could face permanent closure if funds cannot be raised by end of July, 2020.

Please act now to support our facility, our community programs, and the resources we strive to provide to all geeks in the Twin Cities. 

So, what happened?

-Clubs and individuals canceled their rentals  of GPS’s venue spaces as people complied with sheltering orders and tried to maintain social distance.

-GPS Charity Auction events that we rely on for income were canceled as local conventions were canceled or postponed.

-Some of our large annual contributors are also having financial difficulties. because their conventions were postponed/cancelled for 2020. 

What needs to happen now?

We need your help to keep GPS running through the end of the year. This will provide the time needed to plan a more flexible revenue model going into 2021. Our goal is to raise $40,000.

The GPS blog has more information: “GoFundme Launched – Save Your Geek Partnership Society”.

Here are some groups and programs who rely on GPS’ support.

  • Crafty Geek / Make It Sew
  • Creative Night, the Group!
  • Echo Base Lightsaber Building Club
  • Geek Physique
  • Geeks Read Book Club
  • GPS Photography Club
  • GPS Movie Appreciation Posse
  • Tsuinshi Anime Club
  • United Geeks of Gaming
  • Annual Volunteer Appreciation Party (community wide)
  • Geek presence at Art-A-Whirl
  • Holiday Emporium
  • Scavenger Hunt

(7) THE REDISCOVERED COUNTRY. 1000 Women in Horror author says book could have been ten times longer”: Entertainment Weekly interviews author Alexandra Heller-Nicholas. 

The history of the horror genre is routinely told via the careers of male directors such as James Whale, Alfred Hitchcock, George Romero, John Carpenter, and Wes Craven. Author Alexandra Heller-Nicholas‘ just-published book 1000 Women in Horror: 1895-2018, takes a very different approach, showcasing the contributions of women directors and actors as well as those who have toiled, often unsung, in other capacities. “When we think of women in horror, we default to Janet Leigh or Texas Chain Saw Massacre, those really iconic images from horror films,” says Heller-Nicholas, who has previously written books on Dario Argento’s Suspiria and Abel Ferrara’s Ms. 45.  “We think of terror as being embodied through women’s bodies — screaming and running. I really wanted to explode that a little bit and say the person at the editing deck might be a woman, the person in the director’s chair might be a woman, the cinematographer might be a woman. If we move outside of the ‘single male genius’ who else is working on this stuff? And it turns out there’s actually some pretty amazing people, and some of them are women. There’s a lot more going on that women embody in horror than screaming. Not that there’s anything wrong with screaming. It’s hard work!”

Heller-Nicholas was inspired to have 1895 be the chronological starting point for her collection of mini-biographies after seeing a film from that year titled The Execution of Mary Stuart. “It’s a very very early example of special effects,” says the writer. “It’s Mary going up to the guillotine and having her head chopped off and her head being picked up, that’s the end of the film. I was first drawn to this because Mary is played by ‘Mrs Robert Thomas.’ I was fascinated by ‘Mrs Robert Thomas.’ Seemingly it’s a woman, but she’s defined through her relationship to a man. But I did some digging around and apparently it was actually played by a man. There was something about it, a little it of playfulness and the idea that gender and identity is slippery even in 1895.”

(8) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

  • July 24, 1952 Blackhawk: Fearless Champion of Freedom serial premiered. This was a fifteen-chapter black-and-white movie serial from Columbia Pictures, based on the Blackhawk comic book, first published by Quality Comics, but later owned by DC Comics. The latter company would re-use the name in several versions of the group. It was directed by Spencer Gordon Bennet (as Spencer Bennet) Fred F. Sears and produced by Sam Katzman. It was written by George H. Plympton, Royal K. Cole and Sherman L. Lowe. It starred Kirk Alyn, Carol Forman and John Crawford. Despite being very well received, the Blackhawk serial was the last film serial shown on air flights. 

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]

  • Born July 24, 1802 – Alexandre Dumas.  Published work amounts to over 100,000 pages, translated into a hundred languages, inspiring two hundred motion pictures.  Born on Haiti (as it now is); father, a general and the son of a marquis; grandmother, a black slave; Dumas, the name he used, was hers.  His Nutcracker, a version of Hoffmann’s, is the basis of Tchaikovsky’s.  The Wolf-Leader, an early werewolf novel; The Marriages of Father Olifus, just (2017) re-translated as The Man Who Married a MermaidThe Count of Monte Cristo, a root of The Stars My Destination.  (Died 1870) [JH]
  • Born July 24, 1878 – Edward Plunkett, 18th Baron Dunsany.  Chess and pistol-shooting champion of Ireland.  Fifty Tales of Pegana with its own history, geography, gods.  Ten dozen unlikely tales told by Joseph Jorkins to anyone buying him a whiskey at their club.  Clute and Langford say D’s prose has muscular delicacy.  In Fitzgerald’s This Side of Paradise Blaine and D’Invilliers recite D’s poetry.  Translated into Czech, Dutch, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Russian, Spanish, Turkish.  (Died 1957) [JH]
  • Born July 24, 1895 Robert Graves. Poet, mythologist, historical novelist, critic. Author of, among other works, The White Goddess (a very strange book which Yolen quotes from in The Wild Hunt), two volumes called The Greek MythsSeven Days in New Crete which Pringle has on his Best Hundred Fantasy Novels list, and more short fiction than really bears thinking about. (Died 1985.) (CE)
  • Born July 24, 1916 – John D. MacDonald.  While the score of books (I warned you about these puns) featuring salvage consultant Travis McGee and his friend Meyer are favorites of many, JDM is here for three SF novels, five dozen shorter stories, he wrote until the end.  Wine of the Dreamers has been translated into Dutch, French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Spanish, Swedish; its title if not already meaning something else might name fan activity or SF – or if not unfair to nondrinkers.  (Died 1986) [JH]
  • Born July 24, 1936 Phyllis Douglas. She also appeared in two episodes of the Trek series in “The Galileo Seven” and “The Way to Eden”  and in a two-parter of  Batman (“The Joker’s Last Laugh“ and “The Joker’s Epitaph”) where she was Josie. She was in an uncredited role in Atlantis: The Lost Continent, and her very first role was at age two in Gone with The Wind. (Died 2010.) (CE)
  • Born July 24, 1936 Mark Goddard, 84. Major Don West, the adversary of Dr. Zachary Smith, on Lost in Space. Other genre appearances were scant. He played an unnamed Detective in the early Eighties Strange Invaders and he showed up on an episode of The Next Step Beyond which investigated supposed hauntings as Larry Hollis in “Sins of Omission”. Oh, and he was an unnamed General in the Lost in Space film. (CE)
  • Born July 24, 1945 – Gordon Eklund, 75.  Some are fans, some are pros, some are both; GE won a Nebula co-authoring with Greg Benford, another: they have written two novels (including If the Stars Are Gods, expanded from the novelette), half a dozen shorter stories, together.  Three decades after Stars GE won a FAAn (Fan Activity Achievement) Award as Best Fanwriter.  Twenty novels, six dozen shorter stories, translated into Croatian, Dutch, French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Serbian, including two early Star Trek novels, of which one has a Dyson sphere.  Recent collection, Stalking the Sun.  [JH]
  • Born July 24, 1946 – Tom Barber, 74.  Three dozen covers for books and magazines, a dozen interiors.  Here is the May 79 Galileo.  Here is The Men in the Jungle (in German as The Brotherhood of Pain).  Here is the Mar 76 Amazinghere is the Mar 19; the magazine itself is well-named.  [JH]
  • Born July 24, 1950 – Bob Fowke, 70.  Two dozen covers, a dozen interiors.  Here is The Golden Apples of the Sun.  Here is Connoisseur’s SF.  Here is King Creature, Come.  Here is La flamme des cités perdues; not all who wander are lost, but here is The Lost Star.  [JH]
  • Born July 24, 1951 Lynda Carter, 69. Wonder Woman of course. But also Principal Powers, the headmistress of a school for superheroes in Sky High; Colonel Jessica Weaver in the vampire film Slayer; Moira Sullivan, Chloe Sullivan’s Kryptonite-empowered mother in the “Prodigy” episode of Smallville; and President Olivia Marsdin In Supergirl. (CE)
  • Born July 24, 1959 – Zdrvaka Evtimova, 61.  Author and translator.  Nine short stories for us in or translated into English, much more outside our field.  Besides Bulgaria and Anglophonia, published in France, Germany, Iran, Japan, Poland, Russia, Spain, Vietnam – two dozen countries.  Six Bulgarian awards.  Member of the Bulgarian Writers’ Union and the UK Writers’ League.  See her here (Contemporary Bulgarian Writers; in English, with a photo, book covers and excerpts, links to online stories in English).  [JH]
  • Born July 24, 1964 Colleen Doran, 56. Comics artist and writer. She’s done includes Warren Ellis’ Orbiter graphic novel, Wonder WomanLegion of SuperheroesTeen Titans, “Troll Bridge”:by Neil Gaiman and her space opera series, A Distant Soil. She also did portions of The Sandman, in the “Dream Country” and “A Game of You”. She’s tuckerized Into Sandman as the character Thessaly is based on Doran. (CE)
  • Born July 24, 1981 Summer Glau, 39.  An impressive run in genre roles as she was River Tam in the Firefly series and of course the Serenity film, followed by these performances: Tess Doerner in The 4400, as Cameron in Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, Bennett Halverson in Dollhouse (is this worth seeing seeing?), Skylar Adams in Alphas and lastly Isabel Rochev who is The Ravager in Arrow. (CE)

(10) COMICS SECTION.

  • The Far Side shows that somebody needs a manual for first contact. (Fist contact?)
  • And ever is heard a discouraging word — Dilbert shows it’s tough to be a beginning writer.

(11) PILING ON. James Davis Nicoll finds “Five More Massive Works of SFF to Add to Your Must-Read Pile”.

Are we having fun with the lockdown yet? Some of you may live, like me, in a region where our pal COVID-19 seems to be under control—or you may be trapped in some dire realm where it is not. Yet, for even those of us who are momentarily spared, respite may prove temporary—it’s always best to stay safe and plan for the possibility of continued isolation. That suggests that it would be prudent to add to your personal Mount Tsundoku, preferably with tomes weighty enough to keep one occupied through weeks of isolation and tedium.  Omnibuses could be the very thing!  Below are five examples…

(12) READ SANDERSON CHAPTERS. As they’ve done with previous books in the Stormlight Archive, Tor.com will be releasing one chapter from Brandon Sanderson’s upcoming novel Rhythm of War each week from now through its release in November. “Read Rhythm of War by Brandon Sanderson: Prologue and Chapter One”.

(13) REAL PERSEVERANCE. In The Guardian, Alison Flood interviews Brandon Sanderson, who discusses the long struggle he had to become a successful fantasy novelist. “Brandon Sanderson: ‘After a dozen rejected novels, you think maybe this isn’t for you'”.

Watching the numbers tick up on Brandon Sanderson’s Kickstarter is a remarkable way to pass the time. The fantasy author initially set out to raise $250,000 (£198,500) to release a 10th anniversary, leather-bound edition of his doorstopper novel, The Way of Kings. In less than 10 minutes, it became the most-funded publishing project of all time when it topped $1m. With 15 days still to go, he’s raised more than $5.6m. All this for a book that was just one of 13 Sanderson wrote before he’d even landed a publishing deal.

Most writers have novels that never see the light of day. But 13? That’s serious dedication. The books were written over a decade while Sanderson was working as a night clerk at a hotel – a job chosen specifically because as long as he stayed awake, his bosses didn’t mind if he wrote between midnight and 5am. But publishers kept telling him that his epic fantasies were too long, that he should try being darker or “more like George RR Martin” (it was the late 90s, and A Song of Ice and Fire was topping bestseller charts). His attempts to write grittier books were terrible, he says, so he became “kind of depressed”….

(14) PRESSED OWN AND OVERFLOWING. Alasdair Stuart’s The Full Lid 24th July 2020opens with a tour of duty with Matt Wallace’s Savage Legion. TheSin Du Jour author has turned in his first epic fantasy novel and it’s fiercely intelligent, uniquely perceptive and exactly what the genre needs.

After that, I take a look at the March trilogy of graphic novels. Covering the life of Rep. John Lewis, they’re engrossing, pragmatic, inspiring and horrific. They’re also by some distance some of the best graphic storytelling I’ve ever read.

Our interstitials this week feature the men of The Witcher doing things. Well, attempting things. Well, in the case of baking, being present while it notionally occurs…

This week’s playout is a unique and wonderful version of The Cure’s The Lovecats by the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain. Enjoy! I did.

The Full Lid is published every Friday at 5pm BST. It’s free, and you can find both sign up links and an archive of the last six months at the link above.

(15) KING REVIEWS BEUKES. [Item by Rob Thornton] In the upcoming issue of the New York Times Book Review, Stephen King has great things to say about Lauren Beukes’ post-apocalyptic novel “Afterland,” which is described by King as “science fiction” at one point and a “neo-noir” at another. Everybody gets into the naming game: “Stephen King on Lauren Beukes’s ‘Splendid’ New Thriller”.

…The flap copy on my advance edition declares that “Afterland” is a “high-concept feminist thriller that Lauren Beukes fans have been waiting for.” It is a thriller, I grant you that, and feminist in the sense that most of the men have been erased by a flu virus that develops into prostate cancer, but Beukes is too wise and story-oriented to wham away at ideas that have been thoroughly explored, sometimes at tedious length, on cable news and social media. She lets her tale do the talking, and the results are quite splendid.

This is your basic neo-noir, coast-to-coast chase novel, and Beukes, who is from South Africa, sees America with the fresh eyes of an outsider. …

(16) UNHAPPY HOLIDAYS. “Blocked Busters: Disney Pushes 17 Movie Release Dates” – NPR assesses the damage.

When Warner Brothers pulled Christopher Nolan’s $200-million thriller, Tenet, from its release schedule earlier this week, industry analysts expected a domino effect, and Disney announced this afternoon that the first 17 dominos have fallen.

The Mouse House’s live-action remake of Mulan, the last big-budget Hollywood blockbuster scheduled for August, is now “unset,” on the company’s release schedule.

And the studio has pushed back or cancelled the release of another 16 Disney and Fox films, in a ripple-effect that will affect movie releases for years.

One Searchlight film, The Personal History of David Copperfield, is still scheduled for summer, though pushed back two weeks to August 28. But such other Fox films as Kenneth Branagh’s Agatha Christie remake Death on the Nile, and the supernatural thriller film The Empty Man have been delayed to later in the fall, while Wes Anderson’s The French Dispatch, which was to have opened in October, has been postponed indefinitely.

Other films, including Ridley Scott’s historical thriller The Last Duel, and the supernatural horror film Antlers have been moved to 2021.

And in perhaps the most telling shift, three Star Wars pictures and four Avatar sequels, originally scheduled to alternate as Christmas releases starting next year, have all been moved back a full year, meaning the pandemic will affect film releases through Christmas of 2028.

(17) GOOSEBUMPS. Not the series, the Harvard study: “Getting to the bottom of goosebumps”

Harvard scientists find that the same cell types that cause goosebumps are responsible for controlling hair growth

If you’ve ever wondered why we get goosebumps, you’re in good company — so did Charles Darwin, who mused about them in his writings on evolution. Goosebumps might protect animals with thick fur from the cold, but we humans don’t seem to benefit from the reaction much — so why has it been preserved during evolution all this time?

In a new study, Harvard University scientists have discovered the reason: the cell types that cause goosebumps are also important for regulating the stem cells that regenerate the hair follicle and hair. Underneath the skin, the muscle that contracts to create goosebumps is necessary to bridge the sympathetic nerve’s connection to hair follicle stem cells. The sympathetic nerve reacts to cold by contracting the muscle and causing goosebumps in the short term, and by driving hair follicle stem cell activation and new hair growth over the long term.

Published in the journal Cell, these findings in mice give researchers a better understanding of how different cell types interact to link stem cell activity with changes in the outside environment.

(18) FIAT LUX. CNN delivers “11 billion years of history in one map: Astrophysicists reveal largest 3D model of the universe ever created”.

A global consortium of astrophysicists have created the world’s largest three-dimensional map of the universe, a project 20 years in the making that researchers say helps better explain the history of the cosmos.

The Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS), a project involving hundreds of scientists at dozens of institutions worldwide, collected decades of data and mapped the universe with telescopes. With these measurements, spanning more than 2 million galaxies and quasars formed over 11 billion years, scientists can now better understand how the universe developed.

“We know both the ancient history of the Universe and its recent expansion history fairly well, but there’s a troublesome gap in the middle 11 billion years,” cosmologist Kyle Dawson of the University of Utah, who led the team that announced the SDSS findings on Sunday.

“For five years, we have worked to fill in that gap, and we are using that information to provide some of the most substantial advances in cosmology in the last decade,” Dawson said in a statement.

[Thanks to Nina Shepardson, Errolwi, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Lise Andreasen, Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, Martin Morse Wooster, Josh Hesse, Michael Toman, John Hertz, Cat Eldridge, Cally Soukup, James Davis Nicoll, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Andrew.]

Pixel Scroll 6/29/20 Three Arms Good, Four Arms Better

(1) NEW BOB SHAW EBOOK. Rob Jackson and David Langford’s new Ansible Press edition The Full Glass Bushel by Bob Shaw is now available as a free download in multiple formats at the Trans-Atlantic Fan Fund website (where they hope you’ll make a little donation to the fund if you please.) The official release date is June 30 but Langford gave File 770 permission to jump the gun.

Bob Shaw’s column “The Glass Bushel” in the legendary fanzine Hyphen has never until now been collected in full. Thirteen of these columns – selected by Bob himself – were brought together as the printed booklet The Best of the Bushel (1979) edited by Rob Jackson, introduced by Walt Willis and illustrated by Jim Barker – who has recreated his cover illustration for this ebook. A different though partly overlapping selection of fourteen columns appeared as 14 Bob the Bushel (1995) edited by Bruce Pelz.

The Full Glass Bushel includes the entire text of The Best of the Bushel and adds the remaining seventeen “Bushel” instalments from Hyphen, plus six non-Bushel pieces that Bob Shaw also published in Hyphen and two further columns from Science Fiction Review, where “The Glass Bushel” was briefly revived in 1984. All in all, it’s a huge feast of wit, wisdom and autobiography by one of our greatest fanwriters.

This collection complements The Serious Scientific Talks, issued as a TAFF ebook in November 2019. A third and even larger ebook of Bob Shaw’s other fanzine writings is in preparation, tentatively titled Slow Pint Glass.

New cover art and layout by Jim Barker, plus selected interior art by Jim from The Best of the Bushel. Edited by Rob Jackson (who has contributed a new introduction) and David Langford. 81,000 words.

Langford adds, “The page mentions a third Bob Shaw ebook still under construction, which currently contains nearly 80 articles — more than 120,000 words.”

(2) SLF SEEKS JURORS. The Speculative Literature Foundation is looking for people to read applications for their grants. More information on Facebook. There’s a $25 honorarium for serving.

The Speculative Literature Foundation needs jurors to read applications for the Diverse Writers and Diverse Worlds Grants, and the AC Bose Grant for South Asian Speculative Literature. Ideally, we’re looking for people who are well read in science fiction, fantasy and horror, but we’d also like a mix of readers, writers, librarians, teachers, editors, etc. who are capable of judging literary quality in a work. Please note: we’d love to have South Asian and South Asian diaspora jurors for the AC Bose Grant, but it’s not a requirement.

Jurors will probably read 25-50 applications, which includes a writing sample of no more than 5,000 words. Jurors will have about six weeks to read applications, select finalists, and choose a winner or winners for the grants, as can be seen in more detail below…
If interested, please send a brief note to Malon Edwards at malon@speculativeliterature.org with the subject line: JUROR. Please include the grant you wish to be a juror for and a paragraph about what your qualifying background is to serve as a juror: for example, your interest in / connection to the field. (i.e., “I’m an ardent reader!” or “I’ve been writing SF/F for seven years…”). Please feel free to ask any questions you may have as well.

(3) JULY BOOKS. [Item by Chip Hitchcock.] The New York Times list of books to watch for next month leads off with genre:

‘Afterland,’ by Lauren Beukes (Mulholland, July 28)

After the “Manfall” pandemic wipes out most of the men on the planet, Cole disguises her son — one of the last males on Earth — as a girl and tries to get him to safety before the government can snatch him. Their cross-country journey is treacherous, as they evade not only the Department of Men but also Cole’s sister, Billie, who is determined to separate mother and son. Beukes’s imagined world — complete with bootleg sperm and faux baby bumps — is a thrilling setting for an examination of maternal love.

Full list is probably paywalled. No other real genre cites, but #2 is Jeopardy! host Alex Trebek’s memoir, and deep in the list is a discussion of popular superstitions like the “devil” of the New Jersey Barrens.

(4) FROM VALLEY FORGE TO THE WINTER SOLDIER. Daniel D’Addario, in “Anthony Mackie and Daveed Diggs on Black Lives Matter, Marvel, and Hamilton” on Variety, has Mackie and Diggs interview each other, including promotion of Diggs’s role in Hamilton and Mackie’s in The Falcon and the Winter Soldier. “Anthony Mackie and Daveed Diggs on Black Lives Matter, Marvel and ‘Hamilton’”

Daveed Diggs: Congratulations on jumping into “Altered Carbon.” Are you a sci-fi head? Because I am, and you do an awful lot of sci-fi stuff.

Anthony Mackie: I’m not a big sci-fi person. I grew up on “Star Wars,” but I never got into anything futuristic. When I was in high school, there was this movie called “Starship Troopers.”

Diggs: Familiar.

Mackie: In New Orleans we had huge cockroaches. “Starship Troopers” freaked me out. I can’t do it, man. My imagination is too vivid. But “Altered Carbon” was great. If you look at the “Avengers” movies, I’ve never been the lead, or had to do that much action. It became a painstaking weekly hustle to finish that show.

(5) AS YOU WISH. “Watch the Celebrity-Filled Fan-Film Version of The Princess Bride”. Tagline: “A-list actors worked secretly in quarantine to create a rough-hewn, homemade version of the classic film and raise $1 million for charity. Vanity Fair has the exclusive look at three clips from the series, which will start showing this Monday on Quibi.”

Jeffrey Katzenberg loved the concept and was moved by the charitable effort, so Quibi made a $1 million donation to World Central Kitchen, which equates to approximately 100,000 meals, in order to distribute the handmade project.

The creators hope the footage can also provide some laughter to viewers in a time of hardship. Their scrappy version of The Princess Bride leans into its continuity lapses, utilizes absurd household props and back-of-the-closet costumes, and deploys multiple castings of the same roles to show that in a true fantasy, anyone can play anything.

Before we go any further, just watch some. It’ll be easier to explain after that.

That’s Josh Gad playing the little boy with a cold who is reluctantly told the swashbuckling story by his grandfather. If you’re wondering what the director of the original movie, Rob Reiner, thinks of this riff on his work—that’s him playing the grandfather in this sequence.

(6) HARRYHAUSEN CENTENARY. SYFY Wire identifies “5 Franchises That Owe Ray Harryhausen A Kraken-Size Debt On His 100th Birthday”. One of them is —

Jurassic Park

[Film Historian Bruce] Crawford: When they made the first Jurassic Park (1993), originally the full-body shots of the dinosaurs were to be realized through a form of stop-motion animation called go-motion, to be done by Phil Tippett. And even though they ended up using CGI instead, Tippett stayed on as one of the lead technicians, and many people on the crew, including Dennis Murren at Industrial Light & Magic — not to mention director Steven Spielberg — are huge admirers of Ray’s. Many of them cite movies like One Million Years B.C. (1966) and The Valley of Gwangi (1969) as the most inspirational dinosaur films ever made. That shows in the film. For example, the scene where the T. rex attacks the Gallimimus was modeled specifically after a key moment in The Valley of Gwangi.

Also, remember when the T. rex eats the lawyer? Well, the lawyer survived in the book. But in the movie, the T. rex bites him from the head down and lifts him up in his mouth — very much like that scene in The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms (1953), where the Rhedosaurus is rampaging around the city and snatches up a police officer. It’s one of the most iconic scenes in monster movie history, and Ray recognized that moment in Jurassic Park as an homage to his work. He was really touched by that.

(7) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

  • June 29, 1979 Moonraker premiered. It was directed by Lewis Gilbert, and  produced by Albert R. Broccoli.  Screenplay was by Christopher Wood off the  Moonraker novel by Ian Fleming. It was the fourth Bond film to star Roger Moore. Supporting cast was Lois Chiles, Michael Lonsdale,  Richard Kiel and Corinne Cléry. Broccoli had originally intended to make For Your Eyes Only, but chose Moonraker because of the popularity of Star Wars. Some critics really liked it, some really hated it. (Connery thought it was crap.) Audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes give it a mediocre 43% rating. (CE)

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]

  • Born June 29, 1900 – Antoine de Saint-Exupéry.  Author, aviator, illustrator, journalist.  His novella The Little Prince (1943) won the Retrospective Hugo and has been translated into 300 languages.  He was a viscount, a pioneer of international postal flight, a pilot in and out of war with 13,000 flying hours; his complicated heroic life and his works outside SF are worth study, as is LP which may be even more than it seems.  Prix FeminaPrix des AmbassadeursGrand Prix du roman de l’Académie française; inscribed in the Panthéon, Paris; Officer of the Legion of Honor; Croix de Guerre with Palm; U.S. Nat’l Book Award.  (Died 1944, maybe) [JH]
  • Born June 29, 1919 Slim Pickens. Surely you remember his memorable scene as Major T. J. “King” Kong in Dr. Strangelove? I certainly do. And. of course, he shows up in Blazing Saddles as Taggart. He’s the uncredited voice of B.O.B in The Black Hole and he’s Sam Newfield in The Howling. He’s got some series genre work including several appearances on Alfred Hitchcock Presents, plus work on The Man from U.N.C.L.E. and Night Gallery. (Died 1983.) (CE)
  • Born June 29, 1935 – Richard Harter, F.N.  In his words, “a collector who prizes his mint copy of Dick and Jane meet Robby Robot, a club fan who is … also a diamond fan and a spade fan, a fanzine fan whose multitudinous publications, if not always award winning, certainly ought to be, and a convention fan noted for attending conventions that no one else attended.”  Fellow of NESFA (New England SF Ass’n; a service honor); six entries in the history section of the NESFA Website.  Proposed the NESFA Hymnal.  Upon retirement, moved back to South Dakota, from which he remained active.  Always a Marine.  (Died 2012) [JH]
  • Born June 29, 1940 – Joe Sanders, 80.  Reviewer for AlgolDelap’sFantasy ReviewInt’l Ass’n for Fantasy in the Arts NewsletterLocusNY Review of SFSF Book ReviewSF ChronicleSF CommentaryStarlingStarship.  Wrote Roger Zelazny, a Primary & Secondary Bibliography (1980: who’ll do a 2nd ed’n?); E.E. “Doc” SmithScience Fiction FandomThe “Sandman” PapersThe Heritage of Heinlein (with T. Clareson).  Clareson Award after C died.  Professor emeritus, Lakeland Community College, Ohio.  [JH]
  • Born June 29, 1950 – Michael Whelan, 70.  Seven artbooks, from Wonderworks (edited by Kelly & Polly Freas) through Beyond Science Fiction with this exhibit.  Fifteen Hugos.  Fourteen Chesleys, recently for “In a World of Her Own”, which was made the Beyond cover.  Spectrum Award; SF Hall of Fame; 370 book and magazine covers, plus interiors.  Many times Guest of Honor including 56th and 65th Worldcons.  Among the very best.  [JH]
  • Born June 29, 1956 – David Mattingly, 64.  Hundreds of book and magazine covers for us, two thousand in all, plus interiors;  Chesley for the Amazing Sep 91 cover; two Magazine & Bookseller Best Cover of the Year awards.  Here is the Aug 81 Asimov’s.  Here is A Rising Thunder.  Guest of Honor at Boskone 25, Con*Stellation XX (some use Roman numerals, some don’t), Lunacon 49, Bubonicon 36 & 38, Canvention 38, Loscon 42.  [JH]
  • Born June 29, 1957 – Fred Duarte, Jr.  Chaired Fandom Ass’n of Central Texas; member of NESFA.  Chaired ArmadilloCon 9-10, 14, 17, Fan Guest of Honor at ArmadilloCon 33.  Co-chaired Westercon 49.  Chaired World Fantasy Con in 2000, 2006.  Chaired Smofcon 13.  Copperhead Award.  OGH’s appreciation is here.  (Died 2015) [JH]

(9) JUST NEEDS SOME BIPLANES PILOTED BY MICE. Mlex asks, “Does this count as genre?  I was thinking: King-Kong-esque.”

(10) LESS SUPER. “Betelgeuse: Nearby ‘supernova’ star’s dimming explained”. BBC will tell you all about it.

Astronomers say big cool patches on a “supergiant” star close to Earth were behind its surprise dimming last year.

Red giant stars like Betelgeuse frequently undergo changes in brightness, but the drop to 40% of its normal value between October 2019 and April 2020 surprised astronomers.

Researchers now say this was caused by gigantic cool areas similar to the sunspots seen on our own parent star.

There had been speculation that Betelgeuse was about to go supernova.

But the star instead began to recover and by May 2020 it was back at its original brightness.

Betelgeuse, which is about 500 light-years from Earth, is reaching the end of its life. But it’s not known precisely when it will explode; it could take as long as hundreds of thousands of years or even a million years.

When the giant star does run out of fuel, however, it will first collapse and then rebound in a spectacular explosion. There is no risk to Earth, but Betelgeuse will brighten enormously for a few weeks or months.

(11) ROWLING REITERATES. Incredibly, J.K. Rowling was back for another round on Twitter this weekend. Thread starts here:

And near the end:

Stephen King retweeted Rowling’s thread. He did not say why. Shortly afterward, another Twitter user told King: “You should address the TERF tweet. By telling us constant readers if you believe trans women are women.” He responded: “Yes. Trans women are women.”

(12) PUPPY ACTS OUT. P. Alexander, publisher of Cirsova, a 2017 Hugo nominee courtesy of the Rabid Puppies slate, today proclaimed “SFWA is a Terrorist Organization” [Internet Archive copy] due to its statement in support of Black Lives Matter.

…And it is for this reason that Cirsova Publishing has officially adopted the policy of recognizing the SFWA as a terrorist organization.

We strongly recommend any authors with good conscience leave this malign organization.

We strongly recommend any authors considering membership to avoid it.

While we will not make it a policy to ask, Cirsova Publishing will no longer consider submissions from new authors with SFWA credentials in the bio materials that they send us until the organization takes a real stand against racism and disavows and ceases supporting domestic terrorist groups.

(13) YOU WILL BELIEVE A MAN CAN FLY. They think this Hollywood artifact might go for $40,000. “Christopher Reeve’s Superman Cape Can Be Yours—For a Sky-High Price” – at Mental Floss.

…The cape appeared in 1978’s Superman: The Movie, 1980’s Superman II, and possibly 1983’s Superman III. According to Julien’s Auctions, the trademark red cape was used to film Reeve while he was mounted on a wire harness, for both blue screen and front projection work, to make it appear as though he was flying. Slits in the fabric accommodated the wires. There are also pockets at the bottom of the cape so rods could be inserted to make it seem as though it were flapping in the air.

(14) VIDEO OF THE DAY. In “The Last Airbender Pitch Meeting” on YouTube, Ryan George explains why boiling down hours of anime into a 90-minute movie doesn’t work.

[Thanks to John Hertz, JJ, Chip Hitchcock, Cat Eldridge, Michael Toman, Martin Morse Wooster, Andrew Porter, Mike Kennedy, Mlex, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title cedit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Anna Nimmhaus.]