Pixel Scroll 2/2/19 Apologies To Voltaire

(1) THE BETTER BATTLE ANGELS OF OUR NATURE. The Hollywood Reporter’s Stephen Dalton makes it sound like the promotional beer (linked here the other day) is better than the movie — “‘Alita: Battle Angel’: Film Review”

…Twenty years in gestation, James Cameron’s long-cherished manga adaptation Alita: Battle Angel finally reaches the big screen with help from director Robert Rodriguez and Peter Jackson’s digital effects team. With that kind of cinematic pedigree, backed by a reported $200 million budget, this kick-ass cyberpunk adventure seems to be aiming for the same blockbusting box office heights as the Hunger Games franchise. But a lumpy script, muddled plot, stock characters and tired genre tropes may dampen its commercial breakout potential beyond its core sci-fi action-fantasy demographic. While not exactly a misfire, Rodriguez and Cameron’s joint effort lacks the zing and originality of their best individual work. Fox is releasing it across much of Europe next week, with a U.S. launch to follow Feb. 14.

(2) GOFUNDME AND CHARITY ANTHOLOGIES BENEFIT ROPES. Splatterpunk writer Christopher Ropes has a serious health problem with his teeth, and the horror-writing community is rallying to make the funds available. First, there’s Ropes’ GoFundMe, “Get Christopher’s Teeth Fixed” with photos that illustrate the problem.

My name is Christopher Ropes. I was born with ameleogenesis imperfecta, a condition that has caused more pain and suffering in my life than any other source, even my fibromyalgia. Essentially, I have teeth that rot and break much more easily than normal because they lack proper enamel protection. I’ve suffered through countless infections that swell up the entirety of my face. And all of this doesn’t even begin to describe the fact that my teeth just make me feel
ugly and unloveable.

I have no dental insurance because I’m on Disability and Medicare doesn’t cover any dental work, no matter how medically necessary.

My problems with my teeth have gotten so bad, I can hardly even chew anything anymore. I got an estimate from the dentist and all the work is going to come to approximately $14,000. I added a little bit to the total to cover any GoFundMe fees, as well as medications and special dietary needs while the work is being done, and the possibility that the estimate is shy of what the actual total will be.

On the same day his GoFundMe launched, two charity anthologies were released, the profits to benefit Christopher Ropes.

Planet X Publications is proud to present this charity anthology, benefitting our friend, horror writer Christopher Ropes. It features stories & poems generously donated from members of the weird fiction & horror communities.

Tables of Contents: Introduction by Nadia Bulkin / 1) Blue Broken Mind by Farah Rose Smith / 2) An Incident on a Cold Winter’s Afternoon by Matthew A. St. Cyr / 3) Fishing Boots by Douglas Draa / 4) Chindi & Night of the Skinwalker by Frank Coffman / 5) How to Live Without Meds? by Norbert Góra / 6) Nothing Else Matters by Calvin Demmer / 7) The Denturist by Jo-Anne Russell / 8) The Tooth by Russell Smeaton / 9) To Anne by Paula Ashe / 10) I Can’t See the Bottom by James Fallweather / 11) Forbidden Knowledge by K.A. Opperman / 12) Outlaws by Bob Pastorella / 13) Project AZAZEL by Christopher Slatsky / 14) Prototype by E.O. Daniels / 15) Eton’s Last Will and Testament by Maxwell Ian Gold / 16) Last Call at the Overlook by Kathleen Kaufman / 17) Reflection in Blood by Scott J. Couturier / 18) Four Ropes by Shayne Keen / 19 Vore by Brian O’Connell / 20) “Hotel California” is the Devil by John Claude Smith / 21) Spare Parts by Jill Hand / 22) Salten by John Boden / 23) The Fever River by Matthew M. Bartlett / 24) Verdure by Brandon Barrows / 25) “INK” by Sarah Walker / 26) Twitching and Chirping by Robert S. Wilson / 27) Denizens of Mortuun by C.P. Dunphey / 28) Hungery by John Linwood Grant / 29) Chrysalises by Jeffrey Thomas / 30) I Keep It in a Little Box by S. L. Edwards / 31) Trace of Presence by Jason A. Wyckoff / 32) Thirty-Two by Donald Armfield / Wisdom Tooth ~ Insanity’s Steed by Frederick J. Mayer / Afterword by Christopher Ropes

Table of Contents: Introduction to Volume Two by Michael Wehunt / 1) “Alouette A La Blanc” by Bob Freville / 2) A Plague Of The Most Beautiful Finery by Kurt Fawver / 3) Believe Me by Ashley Dioses / 4) New Moon in November by K.A. Opperman / 5) That What Was Under The Surface by Norbert Góra / 6) My Valentine’s Day Ball by Donna Marie West / 7) The Last to Die by Jayaprakash Satyamurthy / 8) Hammer Dulcimer by T.M. Morgan / 9) The Ballad Stone by Adam Bolivar / 10) Lost on the Road to Nowhere by Pete Rawlik / 11) The City of Xees by Scott J. Couturier / 12) The View by Philip Fracassi / 13) The Figurehead by A.P Sessler / 14) The Triumph of the Skies by Eric Ruppert / 15) Growth; or, The Transubstantiation of Apartment 3C by Ross T. Byers / 16) Fertility by Brooke Warra / 17) Zugzwang by K. H. Vaughan / 18) On a Bed of Bone by Can Wiggins / 19) Yellow Voices by Luis G. Abbadie / 20) The Outsider by John Paul Fitch / 21) Mutinous Facial Abstractions by John Claude Smith / 22) Of Blood, Oil & Tin by Michael Brueggeman / 23) Cold by Sean M. Thompson / 24) Umbriel is The Darkest Moon by Marguerite Reed / 25) Humlin by Farah Rose Smith / 26) 32 White Horses by Justin Burnett / 27) Convince Me Not to Put a Bell on You by Andrew M. Reichart / 28) A Little Delta of Filth by Jon Padgett / 29) 2.0 by Aaron Besson / 30) We All Make Sacrifices by Jonathan Maberry / 31) Insect Queen by Roy K. Phelps / 32) Last Wraps by Duane Pesice / Afterword by Christopher Ropes

(3) KGB. Fantastic Fiction at KGB reading series hosts Ellen Datlow and Matthew Kressel present F. Brett Cox and Peng Shepherd on Wednesday, February 20 at the KGB Bar in New York.

F. Brett Cox

F. Brett Cox’s debut collection, The End of All Our Exploring: Stories, was published by Fairwood Press in 2018.  His fiction, poetry, plays, articles, and reviews have appeared in numerous magazines and anthologies.  With Andy Duncan, he co-edited the anthology Crossroads: Tales of the Southern Literary Fantastic.  He is a co-founder of the Shirley Jackson Awards and currently serves as Vice-President of the SJA Board of Directors.  A native of North Carolina, Brett is Charles A. Dana Professor of English at Norwich University and lives in Vermont with his wife, playwright Jeanne Beckwith.

Peng Shepherd

Peng Shepherd was born and raised in Phoenix, Arizona, where she rode horses and trained in classical ballet, and has lived in Beijing, Kuala Lumpur, London, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Washington, D.C., and New York. Her debut novel, The Book of M, was chosen as an Amazon “Best Science Fiction and Fantasy Books of the Year,” and has been featured on The Today ShowNPR On Point, and in The Guardianio9, GizmodoSYFY Wire, and Elle Canada. Find her at www.pengshepherd.com or on Twitter @pengshepherd.

Starts 7 p.m. at the KGB Bar, 85 East 4th Street (just off 2nd Ave, upstairs.) New York, NY

(4) GOING FOR BROKE. Locus Online reports the results of a new “Author Income Survey”.

The Authors Guild has released their 2018 Author Income Survey. 5,067 authors participated, and the Guild says the results point to a “crisis of epic proportions for American authors, particularly literary writers.” The median income from writing was $6,080, a decline of 3% from their 2013 survey, and 42% from 2009, a drop the Guild ascribes to declining royalties, “blockbuster mentality” at publishing companies, and the sales practices of Amazon.com.

The Guild’s conclusions, and a PDF with lots of data (and anecdata) is available at the Authors Guild website.

(6) VARIANT HEINLEIN NOVEL “SIX-SIX-SIX” ON THE WAY. Phoenix Pick has announced “A New Robert A. Heinlein Book to be Published Based on Newly Recovered Manuscript”:

Phoenix Pick recently announced that, working with the Heinlein Prize Trust, they have been able to reconstruct the complete text of an unpublished novel written by Robert A. Heinlein in the early eighties.

Heinlein wrote this as an alternate text for “The Number of the Beast.” This text of approximately 185,000 words largely mirrors the first one-third of the published version, but then deviates completely with an entirely different story-line and ending.

This newly reconstructed text also pays extensive homage to two authors Heinlein himself admired: Edgar Rice Burroughs and E. E. “Doc” Smith, who became a good friend. Heinlein dedicated his book “Methuselah’s Children” to Smith, and partially dedicated “Friday” to Smith’s daughter, Verna.

The alternate text, especially the ending, is much more in line with more traditional Heinlein books, and moves away from many of the controversial aspects of the published version.

There has been speculation over the years about a possible alternate text, and the reason it was written, particularly since one version is not just a redo of the other ? these are two completely different books.

It is possible that Heinlein was having fun with the text as “The Number of the Beast” and the new book both deal with parallel universes. Given his sense of humor, it would not be surprising for Heinlein to have written two parallel texts for a book about parallel universes.

The new book was pieced together from notes and typed manuscript pages left behind by the author. It is currently under editorial review by award-winning editor, Patrick LoBrutto .

Phoenix Pick expects to publish both The Number of the Beast and the new book, tentatively titled ”Six-Six-Six,” just ahead of this year’s holiday season.

(7) UMBRELLA UMBRAGE. Alexander Lu reviews Netflix’s The Umbrella Academy:

…So on the one hand, I’m overjoyed to say that Netflix’s The Umbrella Academy adaptation has all the absurdity and chaos of the source material. On the other hand, I’m bummed because it feels like some of the comic’s inherent joy was lost in the jump between the page and the screen…

In contrast, Alex Abad-Santos likes Umbrella Academy—at least mostly so (Vox: “Netflix’s Umbrella Academy is as good as it is weird. It’s very weird.”) The article is subtitled, “The show weaves a brutal family portrait into a save-the-world adventure. It also has Mary J. Blige as a time-traveling assassin named Cha-Cha.”

…Portraying the rough parts of being a superhero has been a little bit harder, mainly because it’s so hard to believe that superhero lives could ever be that terrible. 

[…] Making the rotten part of being a superhero as essential as the good parts is where Netflix’s The Umbrella Academy begins. The stylish and crackling new series — written by Steve Blackman and developed by Jeremy Slater — is based on the Eisner Award-winning comic book by Gerard Way (who is also the frontman for the band My Chemical Romance, and serves as the Netflix show’s co-executive producer) and artist Gabriel Ba (also a co-executive producer).

[…] The basic premise revolves around the parasol protégés: seven kids born to different mothers who are brought together as young children a man named Sir Reginald Hargreeves (Colm Feore) who becomes their adopted “dad.” He assembles them into a makeshift family, helps them hone their powers, and turns them into an efficient and successful teenage superhero squad known as the Umbrella Academy. 

[…] Style and doomsday aside, it’s in these pockets of emotion that The Umbrella Academy flashes its true beauty and intent. The show may be wrapped in superheroics and action, but it’s really about a group of people who have to work through their painful pasts and realize that forgiving one another is far tougher than the bigger task (saving the world, I guess) at hand. 

(8) BATTU? NOT MUCH, WHAT’ BATTU WITH YOU? The new Star Wars parks to be part of Disneyland and Disney World are being tied in to the SW novels (StarWars.com: “Step into Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge with new books, comics, and fables”). Six titles of the new series have been announced.

As we prepare to make our first pilgrimage to the fringes of Wild Space and journey to the planet of Batuu, when Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge opens at Disneyland Resort and Walt Disney World Resort later this year, there’s a galaxy of books and comics coming to shelves featuring stories that intersect with the inhabitants of the far-flung world.

Meet Dok-Ondar, the infamous Ithorian who deals in rare antiquities, find out why General Leia Organa takes an interest in Black Spire Outpost, and indulge in myths and fables from a galaxy far, far away, plus other stories set on the Outer Rim locale.

(9) VIDEO OF THE DAY. In “Things Used To Be Hidden” on Vimeo, Tara Mercedes Wood looks at what happens if people could see -everything- other people were trying to hide.

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born February 2, 1905 Ayn Rand.  Best known for The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged which is ISFDB lists as genre though I personally think they’re just pieces of badly written political shit. Her works have made into films many times starting with The Night of January 16th based on a play by her in the early Forties to an animated series based off her Anthem novella. No, I really don’t care who John Galt is. (Died 1982.)
  • Born February 2, 1933 Tony Jay. Ok I most remember him as Paracelcus in the superb Beauty and the Beast series even it turns out he was only in for a handful of episodes. Other genre endeavours include, and this is lest OGH strangle me only the Choice Bits, included voicing The Supreme Being In Time Bandits, an appearance on Star Trek: The Next Generation as Third Minister Campio In “Cost of Living”, being in The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr. (and yes I loved the series) as Judge Silot Gato in “Brisco for the Defense” and Dougie Milford In Twin Peaks. (Died 2006.)
  • Born February 2, 1940 Thomas Disch.  Camp Concentration, The Genocides, 334 and On Wings of Song are among the best New Wave novels ever done. He was a superb poet as well though I don’t think any of it was germane to our community. He won the Nonfiction Hugo for The Dreams Our Stuff Is Made Of, a critical but loving look on the impact of SF on our culture. (Died 2008.)
  • Born February 2, 1949 Brent Spiner, 70.  Data on more Trek shows and films than I’ll bother listing here. I’ll leave it up to all of you to list your favorite moments of him as Data. He also played Dr. Brackish Okun in Independence Day, a role he reprised in Independence Day: Resurgence, a film I’ve not seen. He also played Dr. Arik Soong/Lt. Commander Data in four episodes of Enterprise. Over the years, he’s had roles in Twilight Zone, Outer LimitsTales from the DarksideGargoylesYoung JusticeThe Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest HeroesWarehouse 13 and had a lead role in the thirteen-episode run of Threshold
  • Born February 2, 1949 Jack McGee, 70. Ok so how many of us remember him as Doc Kreuger on the Space Rangers series? Six episodes all told. Not as short as The Nightmare Cafe I grant you but pretty short. I’ve also got him as Bronto Crane Examiner in The Flintstones in Viva Rock Vegas, as a Deputy in Stardust, Mike Lutz in seaQuest, Doug Perren in Buffy the Vampire Slayer and a Police Officer Person of Interest, to name some of his genre roles.
  • Born February 2, 1986 Gemma Arterton, 33. She’s best known for playing Io in Clash of the Titans, Princess Tamina In Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time, Strawberry Fields in Quantum of Solace, and as Gretel in Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters. She also voiced Clover in the current Watership Down series. 

(11) COMICS SECTION.

(12) DISCOVERY RECAP. Camestros Felapton enthuses about “Star Trek Discovery: A Point of Light (S2:E3)”.

Old-style Discovery comes roaring back with a vengeance and a bloody bat’leth. Spore drive, parasites, Klingon man-buns, Ash Tyler, black-ops Star Fleet, hallucinating Tilly, grimdark space-opera — its a week for the weird and wacky on Discovery and I love it.

It’s all story arc this week. Michael is looking for Spock and in a twist so is Spock’s mum. Meanwhile, Ash Tyler is starring in Game of Thrones: The Klingon Years as he struggles with his new reality and seeks to support L’rell as she attempts to unite the now much hairier Klingons. Meanwhile, meanwhile, Tilly is being harassed by the annoying ghost of a former school mate.

(13) COLLECTIBLES AUCTION. Prop Store (offices in London & LA) has an upcoming auction of vintage toys & collectables. Dozens of TV series and movies/series are represented, with the large majority of them genre. The full catalog is online as a PDF. A quick perusal of that reveals pre-auction estimates ranging from $100 (US) to at least $20,000.

Prop Store is pleased to announce its first Toys & Collectibles auction, to be held as a live-auction on Thursday February 28, and Friday March 1, 2019. The auction will include high-quality production toys, preproduction items, international collectables, store displays & marketing materials, bootlegs, posters, press kits, cast and crew items, and more.

(14) VERSE OF THE DAY. From John Hertz:

Each day we scroll up every pixel.
Their coruscant electronic tricks’ll
Make the Filers smile.
If we miss some, those five or six’ll
Set off commenters, whose kicks’ll
Busy us for a while;
Call OGH: he in the mix’ll
Let things run, unless a nix’ll
Scatter a dog-pile.
And never fear for Oz.  Your clicks’ll
Safely mispronounce “Pyrzqxgl”,
Not in dangerous style.

(15) LEARN FROM GAIMAN ONLINE. Just like Margaret Atwood, linked here the other day, Neil Gaiman also has a course available through Masterclass:

Award-winning author Neil Gaiman has spent more than a quarter of a century crafting vivid, absorbing fiction. Now, the author of Stardust, Coraline, and The Sandman teaches his approach to imaginative storytelling. Learn how to find your unique voice, develop original ideas, and breathe life into your characters. Discover Neil’s philosophy on what drives a story—and open new windows to the stories inside you.

(16) TRANSFORMERS. Will our future homes build themselves? A BBC video shows how it could be done — mostly blue-sky and simulations at this point, but some interesting ideas.

At the touch of a button, these incredible homes of the future can self-deploy and build themselves in less than 10 minutes, transforming from a box into a building eight to ten times its original size. Ten Fold Engineering’s David Martyn explains the surprisingly simple design concept that makes this possible.

(17) BABY, IT’S (REALLY) COLD OUTSIDE. Wake up sleepy head! The Chinese lander on the back side of the Moon is once again in daylight and has been back in touch with Earth after a 2-week slumber (Wired:China’s Moon Lander Wakes Up From Its Long, Ultra-Cold Night; partial paywall”).

We already know it’s chilly on the moon. A lunar night lasts 14 Earth days, and its temperatures can dip into a cold so punishing it makes the polar vortex look like a hot tub. But yesterday, China’s space agency announced that the frigidity of the lunar night is even more intense than we’d thought: The country’s Chang’e 4 spacecraft recorded an icy low of –310 degrees Fahrenheit (–190 degrees Celsius).

Consisting of a stationary lander and a six-wheeled rover named Yutu-2, Chang’e 4 landed on the far side of the moon earlier this [year]—a first for any spacecraft. During its first lunar night, Chang’e 4 went into hibernation, relying on internal heat sources to survive.

[…] With both the lander and rover awake, the rover should soon begin its task of exploring and analyzing the 115-mile-wide Von Kármán crater. Exploring the moon’s far side comes with many challenges: The lunar surface is exposed to more impacts from cosmic debris, so the rover will need to carefully watch the terrain (it has already beamed backed a panorama of its surroundings). […]

(18) READY FOR YOUR CLOSE-UP? The subject line “Press Release: Former TAFF delegate found brutally murdered (NSFW?)” was pretty scary ‘til I found out the email press release was about Steve Green’s appearance in a horror movie:

British science fiction fan Steve Green, former editor of the newszine Critical Wave and European TAFF delegate to the 2009 Worldcon in Montreal, has been found brutally murdered in the isolated English village Bell’s End… or at least, his character has, in a pastiche movie trailer currently in production from indie team Vamporama Films.

Terror at Bell’s End is an homage to the 1980s giallo slashers directed by the likes of Lucio Fulci (The Black Cat), Riccardo Freda (Iguana in a Woman’s Skin) and Luciano Ercoli (Forbidden Photos of a Woman Under Suspicion — the new Blu-ray release of which includes a 44-minute documentary from Vamporama Films among the extras). Steve, who’s producing the short, was persuaded by writer-director Chrissie Harper to make a grisly cameo as the mysterious killer’s first on-screen victim.

“It’s very tongue-in-cheek,” Steve explains, “only we’re not quite sure where the tongue came from and precisely whose cheek it’s been left in. My character gets murdered with his own pipe, which I guess underlines the health risks of smoking.”

Meanwhile, Vamporama Films is also seeking festivals and conventions interested in screening its latest horror short Monsters, described by former Giallo Pages editor John Martin as “a chilling glimpse into our future that looks like it was shot by the ghost of Mario Bava”.

(19) DO YOU WANT TO PLAY  GAME? The robots are taking to another human game, though this time not (yet) up to a championship level (TechCrunch: “MIT researchers are training a robot arm to play Jenga”).

Turns out training a robotic arm to play Jenga is a surprisingly complex task. There are, so to speak, a lot of moving parts. Researchers at MIT are putting a modified ABB IRB 120 to work with the familiar tabletop game, utilizing a soft gripper, force-sensing wrist joint and external camera to design a bot that can remove a block without toppling the tower. 

[…] “Unlike in more purely cognitive tasks or games such as chess or Go, playing the game of Jenga also requires mastery of physical skills such as probing, pushing, pulling, placing and aligning pieces. It requires interactive perception and manipulation, where you have to go and touch the tower to learn how and when to move blocks,” says MIT assistant professor Alberto Rodriguez. “This is very difficult to simulate, so the robot has to learn in the real world, by interacting with the real Jenga tower. The key challenge is to learn from a relatively small number of experiments by exploiting common sense about objects and physics.”

(20) SIL RETURNS. An old and much-missed Doctor Who villain is returning — but not in the current iteration of “NuWHO”. The original creator of the evil alien Sil, Philip Martin, and the original actor, Nabil Shaban, are reuniting in Devil Seeds of Arodor, which is being produced independently of the BBC. The DVD’s due out in November. Full details here.

An original drama from the world of BBCtv’s DOCTOR WHO, featuring SIL, the ruthless alien entrepreneur from planet Thoros Beta, played by NABIL SHABAN.

SIL is worried, very worried, which doesn’t keep his reptilian skin in the best condition! Confined in a cold detention cell on the moon, awaiting a deportation hearing for trial on drugs offences on Earth, he faces a death sentence if the application is successful and he is found guilty.

And his employers at the Universal Monetary Fund aren’t pleased either. Not at all.

As time runs out and friends desert him, SIL must use all of his devious, vile, underhanded, ruthless, and amoral business acumen to survive.

Can he possibly slime his way out of this one?

(21) ANOTHER DOCTOR WHO REFERENCE. This tweet went viral yesterday —

[Thanks to JJ, Chip Hitchcock, Martin Morse Wooster, Andrew, Robert Adam Gilmour, Steve Green. Lise Andresen, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, John King Tarpinian, James Davis Nicoll, Carl Slaughter, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Steve Davidson.]

Pixel Scroll 1/19/19 Pixelation, Mr. AllScroll, Is What We Are Put In This File To Rise Above

(1) ARISIA. As of Friday at 11 p.m. Boston sff convention Arisia reported 2,873 members.

The Arisia 2019 Souvenir Book is available online, and includes Jenn Jumper’s heartwarming writeup about Fan GoH’s Bjo and John Trimble.

(2) DRESSING UP THE LOCATIONS IN GEORGIA. Amazing Stories’ Steve Davidson has been scanning the media for news of Spielberg’s namesake TV show which is now in production.  He found this report in a in the Morgan County (GA) Citizen: “Hollywood sets eyes on Bostwick”

A new filming project is sweeping through Morgan County this week for a reboot television series of Steven Spielberg’s sci-fi/horror “Amazing Stories,” with shooting locations in Rutledge, Bostwick and right outside of Madison. 

Filming begin on Monday, Jan 14 off Highway 83 outside of Madison and then moved to Bostwick, behind the Cotton Jin on Mayor John Bostwick’s farm. Downtown Rutledge is getting a full makeover this week for the filming project, which will shoot on Friday, Jan 18 and run into the wee hours of Saturday, Jan 19. Rutledge’s iconic gazebo underwent a paint job for the filming, and on Wednesday, Jan. 16, crews began covering the intersection of Fairplay Road and Main Street with dirt. 

(3) GETTING BETTER. The second story in The Verge’s “Better Worlds” project has been posted — “Online Reunion” by Leigh Alexander.

As an alternative to the text, you can listen to the audio adaptation of “Online Reunion” at Apple PodcastsPocket Casts, or Spotify.

The Verge also has “A Q&A with the author” where “Leigh Alexander discusses the world of ‘Online Reunion’ and the ‘compelling, fascinating, beautiful, terrifying car crash of humanity and technology.’”

In “Online Reunion,” author Leigh Alexander imagines a world in which a young journalist is struggling with a compulsive “time sickness,” so she sets out to write a tearjerker about a widow reconnecting with her dead husband’s e-pet — but she finds something very different waiting for her in the internet ether. A self-described “recovering journalist” with a decade of experience writing about video games and technology, Alexander has since branched out into fiction, including an official Netrunner book, Monitor, and narrative design work for games like Reigns: Her Majesty and Reigns: Game of Thrones.

The Verge spoke with Alexander about finding joy and connection online, preserving digital history, and seeing the mystical in the technological.

(4) FANTASTIC FICTION AT KGB. Ellen Datlow has posted her photos from the series’ January 16 event.

Victor LaValle and Julie C. Day entertained a huge audience with their readings. Victor read from a new novella and Julie read two of her short stories.

(5) THE FIRST DOESN’T LAST. Critics say they made Mars boring: “‘The First’ Canceled at Hulu After One Season”.

In his review for Variety, Daniel D’Addario wrote:

“After the initial statement of purpose, though, the show falls victim to both pacing problems and a certain lopsidedness. A show like this, with title and premise centered around what it would mean to be a pioneer on a new planet, encourages an excited sort of stargazing; that quite so much of it is spent exploring Hagerty’s family crisis saps the energy and spirit from a show that should have both in spades.”

(6) BRADBURY OBIT. Bettina Bradbury, Ray Bradbury’s daughter, died January 13 at the age of 64 announced the Ray Bradbury Experience Museum on Facebook.

Her son, Danny Karapetian, wrote on Facebook 1/13/19, “It is my very sad duty to report that my Mom Bettina passed away this morning. “She was an indefatigable force of nature, a talented and decorated writer, and a loving mother, sister, and friend to everyone she knew. I know how much she cared about all of you, and how much you all loved her.”

Quoting Jonathan Eller, Ph.D., Center for Ray Bradbury Studies, “Bettina was herself a successful writer, achieving great success on daytime TV dramas Santa Barbara (1987-1993), All My Children (1995-2003), Days of Our Lives (2007), and others. She won several Emmy Awards and Writers Guild of America Awards, and earned yet more nominations.”

SoapHub paid tribute: “Longtime Soap Opera Scribe Dies At 64”.

…Daughter of famed science fiction writer Ray Bradbury, known mostly for his stunning novel Fahrenheit 451, and Marguerite McClure, Bradbury proved that the writing gene can be passed down. She studied Film/History at USC School of Cinematic Arts

NBC’s Santa Barbara was her first soap writing team in the early 1990s. She also wrote for both All My Children (and won three Daytime Emmys) and One Life to Live on ABC and later worked on Days of Our Lives, also for NBC.

(7) DAVIES OBIT. [By Steve Green.] Windsor Davies (1930-2019): British actor, died January 17, aged 88. Genre appearances include The Corridor People (one episode, 1966), Adam Adamant Lives! (one episode, 1967), Doctor Who (three episodes, 1967),  Frankenstein Must Be Destroyed (1969), UFO (one episode, 1970), The Guardians (one episode, 1971), The Donation Conspiracy (two episodes, 1973), Alice in Wonderland (one episode, 1985), Terrahawks (voice role, 39 episodes, 1983-86), Rupert and the Frog Song (1985), Gormenghast (two episodes, 2000).

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born January 19, 1809Edgar Allan Poe. I’ve got several several sources that cite him as a early root of SF. Anyone care to figure that out? Be that as it may, he certainly wrote some damn scary horror — ones that I still remember are “The Murders in the Rue Morgue,” “The Tell-Tale Heart,” and “The Masque of the Red Death.” (Died 1849.)
  • Born January 19, 1930 Tippi Hedren, 89. Melanie Daniels In Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds which scared the shit out of me when I saw it a long time ago. She had a minor role as Helen in The Birds II: Land’s End, a televised sequel done thirty years on. No idea how bad or good it was. Other genre appearances were in such films and shows as Satan’s HarvestTales from the DarksideThe Bionic Woman, the new version of Alfred Hitchcock Presents and Batman: The Animated Series
  • Born January 19, 1932 Richard Lester, 87. Director best known for his 1980s Superman films. He’s got a number of other genre films including the exceedingly silly The Mouse on the MoonRobin and Marian which may be my favorite Robin Hood film ever, and an entire excellent series of Musketeers films. He also directed Royal Flash based on George MacDonald Fraser’s Flashman novel of that name. 
  • Born January 19, 1981Bitsie Tulloch, 38. Her main role of interest to us was as Juliette Silverton/Eve in Grimm. She also has played Lois Lane in the recent Elseworlds episodes of this Arrowverse season. However I also found her in R2-D2: Beneath the Dome, a fan made film that use fake interviews, fake archive photos, film clips, and behind-the-scenes footage to tell early life of that droid. You can see it and her in it here.

(9) DRAWN TO POE. Crimereads celebrates the author’s birthday with “The 25 Most Terrifyingly Beautiful Edgar Allan Poe Illustrations”. Harry Clarke and Gustav Doré are heavily represented.

Since it’s the season for basking in all things dreadful, we decided to round up twenty-five of the greatest illustrations ever made for Poe’s work. Some are more terrifying, others more beautiful, but all fall somewhere on the spectrum of terrifyingly beautiful, and we can’t stop looking at them, just as we can’t stop reading the works of the great Edgar Allan Poe.

(10) FAUX POES. Emily Temple undertakes “A Brief and Incomplete Survey of Edgar Allan Poes in Pop Culture” for LitHub readers.

What’s the first image that pops into your head when you think of Edgar Allan Poe? Is it this ubiquitous one? Maybe it’s that snapshot of your old roommate from Halloween 2011, when she tied a fake bird to her arm and knocked everyone’s champagne glasses over with it. (Just me?) Or is it an image of Poe in one of his many pop culture incarnations? You wouldn’t be alone.

After all, Poe pops up frequently in contemporary culture—somewhat more frequently than you might expect for someone who, during his lifetime, was mostly known as a caustic literary critic, even if he did turn out to be massively influential. I mean, it’s not like you see a ton of Miltons or Eliots running around. So today, on the 210th anniversary of Poe’s birth, I have compiled a brief and wildly incomplete selection of these appearances. Note that I’ve eliminated adaptations of Poe’s works, and focused on cameos and what we’ll call “faux Poes.” Turns out it isn’t just my old roommate—lots of people really love to dress up as Edgar Allan Poe.

First on the list:

1949: Ray Bradbury, “The Exiles,” published in The Illustrated Man

As you probably know, Poe’s work has been massively influential on American literature. In a 1909 speech at the Author’s Club in London, Arthur Conan Doyle observed that “his tales were one of the great landmarks and starting points in the literature of the last century . . . each is a root from which a whole literature has developed. . . Where was the detective story until Poe breathed the breath of life into it?” But it’s not just his work—Poe as a figure has infiltrated a number of literary works, including this early Bradbury story, in which Poe (along with Algernon Blackwood, Ambrose Bierce, Charles Dickens, and William Shakespeare) is living on Mars, and slowly withering away as humans on Earth burn his books. The symbolism isn’t exactly subtle, but hey.

(11) SHUFFLING OFF THIS MORTAL COIL. Here’s something to play on a cold winter’s night — Arkham Horror: The Card Game.

The boundaries between worlds have drawn perilously thin…

Arkham Horror: The Card Game is a cooperative Living Card Game® set amid a backdrop of Lovecraftian horror. As the Ancient Ones seek entry to our world, one to two investigators (or up to four with two Core Sets) work to unravel arcane mysteries and conspiracies.

Their efforts determine not only the course of your game, but carry forward throughout whole campaigns, challenging them to overcome their personal demons even as Arkham Horror: The Card Game blurs the distinction between the card game and roleplaying experiences.

(12) NO APRIL FOOLIN’. There’s a trailer out for Paramount’s Pet Sematary remake —

Sometimes dead is better…. In theatres April 5, 2019. Based on the seminal horror novel by Stephen King, Pet Sematary follows Dr. Louis Creed (Jason Clarke), who, after relocating with his wife Rachel (Amy Seimetz) and their two young children from Boston to rural Maine, discovers a mysterious burial ground hidden deep in the woods near the family’s new home. When tragedy strikes, Louis turns to his unusual neighbor, Jud Crandall (John Lithgow), setting off a perilous chain reaction that unleashes an unfathomable evil with horrific consequences.

(13) 1943 RETRO HUGO ADVICE. DB has written a post on works by Mervyn Peake, Lord Dunsany, C.S. Lewis, and Charles WIlliams eligible for the Retros this year. It begins with an illustration —

This is Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s Ancient Mariner, as drawn by Mervyn Peake. Vivid, isn’t it? Peake’s illustrated edition of the Coleridge poem The Rime of the Ancient Mariner was published by Chatto and Windus in 1943, and is the first reason you should consider nominating Peake for Best Professional Artist of 1943,1 for the Retro-Hugos 1944 (works of 1943) are being presented by this year’s World SF Convention in Dublin. (The book might also be eligible for the special category of Best Art Book, for while it’s not completely a collection of visual art, the illustrations were the point of this new edition of the classic poem.)

Though remembered now mostly for his Gormenghast novels, Peake was primarily an artist. He had in fact 3 illustrated books published in 1943, and all three of them were arguably fantasy or sf.2

(14) F&SF FICTION TO LOVE. Standback took to Twitter to cheer on F&SF with a round-up of his favorite stories from the magazine in 2018. The thread starts here.

(15) RARE BOOKS LA. Collectors will swarm to Pasadena on February 1-2 for this event —

Rare Books LA is a book fair that features more than 100 leading specialists in rare books, fine prints, photography, ephemera, maps, and more from throughout the United States, Europe, and Asia. This prestigious event takes place at the Pasadena Convention Center.

Exhibitors

Rare Books LA will compromise of numerous exhibitors. There will be 60+ exhibitors that come from around the world to showcase their rare books. Expect to discover exhibitors who also showcase photography and fine prints. To view the list of exhibitors, click here.

(16) ORIGINAL SWINGERS. CNN reports “‘Missing link’ in human history confirmed after long debate”.

Early humans were still swinging from trees two million years ago, scientists have said, after confirming a set of contentious fossils represents a “missing link” in humanity’s family tree.

The fossils of Australopithecus sediba have fueled scientific debate since they were found at the Malapa Fossil Site in South Africa 10 years ago.

And now researchers have established that they are closely linked to the Homo genus, representing a bridging species between early humans and their predecessors, proving that early humans were still swinging from trees 2 million years ago.

(17) MOON PICTURES. The Farmer’s Almanac will show you “The Oldest Moon Photo”.

On the night of September 1, 1849, the nearly full Moon appeared over the town of Canandaigua, New York. At 10:30 P.M., Samuel D. Humphrey slid a highly polished, silver-plated copper sheet measuring 2–¾x1–¾ inches into his camera, which was pointed at the Moon.

Humphrey then exposed the light-sensitive plate to the shining Moon nine times, varying the length of exposure from 0.5 seconds to 2 minutes. After developing the plate with mercury vapor, he sent his daguerreotype to Harvard College.

Louis Daguerre, the Frenchman who explained the secret of the world’s first photographic technique in 1839, had daguerreotyped a faint image of the Moon, but the plate was soon lost in a fire. John W. Draper of New York City is credited with making the first clear daguerreotype of the Moon in March 1840, but this also was destroyed in a fire.

(18) THE LONG AND GRINDING ROAD. In “NASA eyes gaping holes in Mars Curiosity wheel” Cnet shares the images.

The rough and rocky landscape of Mars continues to take a toll on the wheels of NASA’s Curiosity rover. As part of a routine checkup, Curiosity snapped some new images of its wheels this week. 

Most of the photos don’t look too alarming, but one in particular shows some dramatic holes and cracks in the aluminum. 

(19) GLASS EXIT. If you left the theater in a haze, Looper wants to help you out:

[Thanks to Standback, JJ, Mike Kennedy, Chip Hitchcock, Michael Toman, Carl Slaughter, Andrew Porter, John King Tarpinian, Steve Green, Cat Eldridge and Martin Morse Wooster for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Andrew.]

Carol Channing (1921-2019)

Fanny

By Steve Green: Carol Channing (1921-2019): US actress and singer, died January 15, aged 97. Genre roles included: Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (1978), Alice in Wonderland (1985), Where’s Waldo? (voice roles, 13 episodes, 1991), The Addams Family (voice role as Grandmama Addams, 15 episodes, 1992-93), Thumbelina (1994), The Magic School Bus (voice role, one episode, 1994), Touched by an Angel (as herself, one episode, 1997), The Brave Little Toaster Goes to Mars (voice of “Fanny,” 1998).

Pixel Scroll 12/10/18 This Is A Song Called Alice’s Pixel Scroll But Alice’s Pixel Scroll Is Not The Name Of The Pixel Scroll That’s Just The Name Of The Song

(1) SFWA AND THE WRITERS OF THE FUTURE CONTEST. SFWA member and former Greivance Committee member Eric James Stone, whose wife Darci Stone won the Writers of the Future Contest 2018 grand prize Golden Pen Award, has shared his correspondence with the SFWA Board in a blog post where he strongly disagrees with the organization’s actions against the Writers of the Future Contest. Says Stone, “In short, I feel the SFWA Board has acted incompetently and/or unethically.” — “SFWA and the Writers of the Future Contest”.

2. Even if you agree with WOTF being de-listed, I think you should be concerned about the process implemented by the Board. Imagine that one of your favorite publications was being targeted for de-listing, and the SFWA Board acted to de-list before even communicating with the editors about any concerns or complaints. Would you consider that a fair process? If it wouldn’t have been a fair process for Clarkesworld or Asimov’s or Strange Horizons, then it was not a fair process for Writers of the Future.

3. I think that any reasonable person who actually wanted to “…ensur[e] that these concerns [about WOTF] are meaningfully addressed…” would have contacted the WOTF Contest administrators to discuss the concerns before taking the action of de-listing the contest as a qualifying market. The only reasonable excuse for not doing so would be some sort of urgent need to act immediately in order to prevent harm, but since the Board voted in August and failed to make it known until December, that excuse doesn’t seem to apply here. Since it is a stated goal of the Board to see that the concerns are meaningfully addressed, the fact that they do not appear to have exercised reasonable care in attempting to carry out that goal could mean they have violated their fiduciary duty as Board members.

4. None of the members of the Board has answered the charge that the website gave pretexts for the Board’s action in removing contest publications as qualifying markets, while the real goal was to de-list Writers of the Future specifically. The Board’s actions don’t make sense if the objective was to get the contest to address concerns, but they make perfect sense if the objective was to de-list WOTF. Why would they have that specific goal? When I wrote to the Board originally, I was worried that some people might be targeting the contest because of its association with the Church of Scientology. If that was, in fact, the case, and the members of the Board were either in agreement with such an objective or willing to cater to such people, it would explain why the Board would de-list the contest before even going through the motions of resolving concerns about it, and it would also explain why they disguised the motives for their action in the explanation offered on the website.

(2) FIFTH SEASON OR ELEVENTH SEASON? In “Doctor Who: The Battle of Ranskoor av Kolos”, Camestros Felapton reviews the last episode of Season 11.

 I don’t know if anybody else got a bit of a Fifth Season vibe from the beginning of this episode. I did, which got my hopes up but overall this was an episode of unexplored ideas. Not terrible but it felt oddly sketched out with hints of something better.

Take for example the idea of this mind altering planet, it gives one character a reason why they can’t initially explain what is going on but otherwise the idea goes nowhere. Which is doubly odd, because it is a concept that could be done really well with a smart script and clever acting.

(3) WHO’S NUMBERS. Yahoo! Finance’s Stewart Clarke, in “Jodie Whittaker to Return as ‘Doctor Who’ in 2020 Amid Strong U.S. Ratings”, says that this year’s series of Doctor Who held up in ratings in both the U.S. and Britain, and Jodie Whittaker drew about as many viewers as Peter Capaldi did in his last season.

British viewers tuned in in droves to the first episode of the current season. With 11 million viewers (consolidated),it was the second-biggest drama audience of the year and the best launch for “Doctor Who” in a decade in the U.K.

Overnight ratings declined steadily over the course of the series,  falling to 5 million for the ninth episode (7 million consolidated). Sunday’s finale delivered 5.3 million viewers. British tabloids have suggested that viewers tuned out because the new season was too “politically correct,” but the fall in overnight ratings is not unusual and follows that of earlier seasons.

It also reflects modern viewing patterns, with many fans and, notably, younger viewers watching the show on catch-up. The BBC said the average consolidated audience through the first eight episodes was 8.4million, significantly above the last season of “Doctor Who,” starring Peter Capaldi, whose average was below 6 million. The current season was the second most-requested series on the BBC’s iPlayer in October, the busiest month ever for the catch-up service.

In the U.S., Whittaker and her team notched a ratings win for BBC America, which said it was the fastest-growing scripted show of the year. Ahead of Sunday’s final episode, BBC America reported that the show was up 47% season-on-season, with young  female viewers driving the growth. The show averaged 1.6 million viewers through its first eight episodes in the U.S.

(4) RECORDS SET. Variety’s “‘Avengers: Endgame’ Trailer Smashes 24-Hour Video Views Record” by Todd Spangler says that 289 million people saw the trailer for Avengers: Endgame in the first 24 hours after it was released, which is a record, and 599,000 people tweeted about it, another record.

(5) CLASS HIGHLIGHTS. Cat Rambo shares tweets about Seanan McGuire’s class:

(6) THE DEFORESTATION OF MIDDLE-EARTH. From 2003, but maybe it’s news to you, too! McSweeny’s magazine imagines a DVD commentary for Lord Of The Rings as done by leftist academics Howard Zinn and Noam Chomsky: “Unused Audio Commentary By Howard Zinn and Noam Chomsky, Recorded Summer 2002 For The Fellowship Of The Ring (Platinum Series Extended Edition) DVD, Part One”.

CHOMSKY: The film opens with Galadriel speaking. “The world has changed,” she tells us, “I can feel it in the water.” She’s actually stealing a line from the non-human Treebeard. He says this to Merry and Pippin in The Two Towers, the novel. Already we can see who is going to be privileged by this narrative and who is not.

ZINN: Of course. “The world has changed.” I would argue that the main thing one learns when one watches this film is that the world hasn’t changed. Not at all.

CHOMSKY: We should examine carefully what’s being established here in the prologue. For one, the point is clearly made that the “master ring,” the so-called “one ring to rule them all,” is actually a rather elaborate justification for preemptive war on Mordor.

ZINN: I think that’s correct. Tolkien makes no attempt to hide the fact that rings are wielded by every other ethnic enclave in Middle Earth. The Dwarves have seven rings, the Elves have three. The race of Man has nine rings, for God’s sake. There are at least 19 rings floating around out there in Middle Earth, and yet Sauron’s ring is supposedly so terrible that no one can be allowed to wield it. Why?

(7) LOOKING FOR AVRAM DAVDISON LETTERS. Danny Sichel encouraged me to give this Locus Online item a signal boost: “Davidson Letters Sought”.

Editor Henry Wes­sels invites “any persons holding correspondence from Avram Davidson to send legible photocopies or scans of interesting or notable letters” to his at­tention, for a volume of Davidson’s selected letters to be published next year by The Nutmeg Point District Mail for the Avram Davidson Society. Material may be sent to Henry Wessells, PO Box 43072,Upper Montclair NJ 07043; <wessells@aol.com>

(8) WILLIS AND SNODGRASS INTERVIEW. Lorene Mills’ next Report From Santa Fe features award-winning authors Connie Willis and Melinda Snodgrass.

Connie Willis has been inducted into the Science Fiction Hall of Fame and awarded the title of Grand Master by the Science Fiction/Fantasy Writers of America. Her work has won eleven Hugos and seven Nebula awards.

Melinda Snodgrass is an award-winning screenwriter (she wrote Star Trek Next Gen’s popular episode “The Measure of a Man” among others) and author of the popular “Edge” Series, the “Imperials Saga,” and creator/editor (with George RR Martin) of the”Wild Cards” anthologies.

The show will air on various local stations in New Mexico between December 15-17, 2018. See the site for exact times.

(9) STRANGER THINGS. This is called a “title tease” – I’m guessing they’re the titles of Season 3 episodes.

In the summer of 1985, the adventure continues.

(10) BAVE OBIT. [Item by Steve Green.] Terry Bave (1931-2018): British comics artist, died December 6. Freelanced for Odhams, IPC and DC Thomson, on such fantasy strips as Sammy Shrink, Jimmy Jeckle and Master Hyde, Me and My Shadow; many of these were written by his wife Shiela*.  He retired in 2007, publishing his autobiography Cartoons and Comic Strips six years later.

*That is the correct spelling, I understand.

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born December 10, 1815Ada Lovelace. English mathematician and writer, principally known for her work on Charles Babbage’s proposed mechanical general-purpose computer, the Analytical Engine. Genre usage includes William Gibson and Bruce Sterling’s The Difference Engine and S.M. Stirling’s The Peshawar Lancers. (Died 1852.)
  • Born December 10, 1824George MacDonald. Scottish author I think best known for Phantastes:A Faerie Romance for Men and Women and The Princess and The Goblin. His writings have been cited as a major literary influence by many notable authors including C. S. Lewis, J. R. R. Tolkien,G. K. Chesterton and Madeleine L’Engle to name but a few who mention him. The Waterboys titled their Room to Roam album after a passage in Phantastes. (Died 1905.)
  • Born December 10, 1903Mary Norton. Author of The Borrowers which won the 1952 Carnegie Medal from the Library Association, recognizing the novel as the year’s outstanding children’s book by a British author. She would continue to write these novels for three decades with Hallmark turning it into a film in the early seventies. Her novels The Magic Bed Knob; or, How to Become a Witch in Ten Easy Lessons and Bonfires and Broomsticks would be adapted into the Disney film Bedknobs and Broomsticks in the same period. (Died 1992.)
  • Born December 10, 1907Graves Gladney. An illustrator known for his cover paintings for Street & Smith pulp magazines, especially The Shadow. He produced all the covers from April 1939 to the end of 1941.
  • It’s worth noting that when he replaced The Shadow‘s cover artist George Rozen who did a more fantastical approach to the covers, Gladney depicted an actual scene that Walter Gibson had written in a story inside. (Died 1976.)
  • Born December 10, 1957Michael Clarke Duncan. Certainly best known as John Coffey in Stephen King’s The Green Mile film nearly twenty years ago. He also had roles in Planet of the Apes, Sin City, voice work in The Land Before Time XI: Invasion of the TinysaurusesGeorge and the Dragon and The Scorpion King. He played Kingpin in the Ben Affleck-led version of Daredevil. (Died 2012.)
  • Born December 10, 1960 Kenneth Branagh, 58. Oh Branagh, I feel obligated to start with your worst film, Wild Wild West, which, well, had you no shame? Fortunately there’s much better genre work from you as an actor including as Victor Frankenstein in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein and Gilderoy Lockhart in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. As a Director, I’m only seeing Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein and Thor — Anyone know of anything else genre related?

(12) COMICS SECTION.

  • Close To Home predicts a near-future name change for a planet in our Solar System.

(13) GHOST WITH THE MOST. The New York Times’ rundown of the latest Saturday Night Live includes this segment: “‘Game of Thrones’ Parody of the Week”.

If you’ve been hard up for “Game of Thrones” content since the most recent season ended in 2017, you could do worse than “Khal Drogo’s Ghost Dojo,” a public access TV show where “we talk with some of the hundreds of characters from ‘Game of Thrones’ who have been killed off the show,” as Thompson, a co-host, explained.

The sketch was mostly an excuse to let this week’s guest host,  Jason Momoa, reprise his “Game of Thrones” role as the warrior Khal Drogo and to let cast members impersonate “Thrones” characters. It also included an exchange between Momoa and Heidi Gardner, playing Brienne of Tarth, that referenced the recent troubles of Kevin Hart, who withdrew as host of the Academy Awards after refusing to apologize for anti-gay jokes.

In his Dothraki language (translated by subtitles), Momoa said of Gardner, “If this man wants to fight, I’ll give him what he wants.”

Gardner replied incredulously: “Man? Wow, you have a lot to learn about identity politics.”

“You’re right,” a chastened Momoa said in broken English. “Khal need to learn from Khal’s mistakes or Khal never win Oscar. Never host Oscar.”

Taking in the scene, Thompson said, “Wow, what a teachable moment.”

(14) GOT THAT RIGHT. If only I hadn’t thrown away my mimeograph years ago! Oh, noes!

(15) NO SURPRISE. The film did everything he predicted. Camestros Felapton loved it anyway: “Review: Bohemian Rhapsody”.

…The trick is the cliches don’t matter in most respects. Queen were a band that was always a bit corny but just kept pushing through that and unironically owning the grandiosity of their songs, arrangements and Freddie Mercury’s presence.

So the film makes them the greatest rock band ever who pushed more boundaries and crossed more genres and styles and broke more conventions of pop music. Which is nonsense but with the grain of truth that they were a band that are hard to classify. Flamboyant camp nerdry which required a braggadocio approach….

(16) CREEPY OR FUNNY? You decide! The Hollywood Reporter introduces the video —  “Andy Serkis Revives Gollum to Mock U.K.’s Brexit Negotiations”.

“Oh precious, our agreement, this is it, our deal, yessss, yesss,” hisses the actor while dressed up as British leader Theresa May.

Gollum has a Brexit plan, kind of. 

The U.K.’s ongoing and increasingly fraught attempts to negotiate its departure from the European Union were given some much-needed comic relief over the weekend thanks to some expert trolling by Andy Serkis. 

(17) SPIDER-VERSE. This clip introduces Spider-Gwen.

Hailee Steinfeld is Spider-Gwen. She’s from another, another dimension.

Miles and Peter swing out of danger in this clip:

(18) REALLY OLD SILICA MEMORIES. In “The key to cracking long-dead languages?” it’s explained how digitizing, computerized decryption and summarizing could speed access to the text in ancient tablets.

They chronicle the rise of fall of Akkad, Assyria and Babylonia, the world’s first empires. An estimated half a million of them have been excavated, and more are still buried in the ground.

However, since cuneiform was first deciphered by scholars around 150 years ago, the script has only yielded its secrets to a small group of people who can read it. Some 90% of cuneiform texts remain untranslated.

That could change thanks to a very modern helper: machine translation.

(19) WAVE BYE-BYE. BBC takes note as “Nasa’s Voyager 2 probe ‘leaves the Solar System'”.

The Voyager 2 probe, which left Earth in 1977, has become the second human-made object to leave our Solar System.

It was launched 16 days before its twin craft, Voyager 1, but that probe’s faster trajectory meant that it was in “the space between the stars” six years before Voyager 2.

The news was revealed at the American Geophysical Union (AGU) meeting in Washington.

And chief scientist on the mission, Prof Edward Stone, confirmed it.

He said both probes had now “made it into interstellar space” and that Voyager 2’s date of departure from the Solar System was 5 November 2018.

On that date, the steady stream of particles emitted from the Sun that were being detected by the probe suddenly dipped. This indicated that it had crossed the “heliopause” – the term for the outer edge of the Sun’s protective bubble of particles and magnetic field.

(20) BENEATH THE SURFACE. In a hole in the ground there lived – a hell of a lot of stuff! “Amount of deep life on Earth quantified”.

Scientists have estimated the total amount of life on Earth that exists below ground – and it is vast.

You would need a microscope to see this subterranean biosphere, however.

It is made up mostly of microbes, such as bacteria and their evolutionary cousins, the archaea.

Nonetheless, it represents a lot of carbon – about 15 to 23 billion tonnes of it. That is hundreds of times more carbon than is woven into all the humans on the planet.

“Something like 70% of the total number of microbes on Earth are below our feet,” said Karen Lloyd from the University of Tennessee at Knoxville, US.

“So, this changes our perception of where we find life on Earth, from mostly on the surface in things like trees and whales and dolphins, to most of it actually being underground,” she told BBC News.

(21) SHE’S POSSIBLE. The live-action Kim Possible movie premieres in the U.S. on February 15, 2019.

Everyday teen hero Kim Possible (Sadie Stanley) and her best friend Ron Stoppable (Sean Giambrone) embark on their freshman year of high school, all while saving the world from evil villains. While Kim and Ron have always been one step ahead of their opponents, navigating the social hierarchy of high school is more challenging than the action-heroes ever imagined. With Drakken (Todd Stashwick) and Shego (Taylor Ortega) lurking in the wings, Kim must rely on her family and friends on Team Possible—Ron, tech-genius Wade (Issac Ryan Brown), new friend Athena (Ciara Wilson), and Rufus, a Naked mole-rat—to stop these super villains!

[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, Carl Slaughter, Danny Sichel, Olav Rokne, Chip Hitchcock, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Andrew Porter, Martin Morse Wooster, Eric James Stone, Steve Green, and Mike Kennedy for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Matthew Johnson.]

Burt Reynolds (1936-2018)

Burt Reynolds and John Williams in a scene from the Twilight Zone episode “The Bard”.

By Steve Green: Burt Reynolds (1936-2018): US actor, died September 6, aged 82. Genre appearances include The Twilight Zone (one episode, 1963, “The Bard”), Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex * But Were Afraid to Ask (1972), Frankenstein and Me (1996), Universal Soldier II, Universal Soldier III (both 1998), The X-Files (one episode, 2002, as God).

Reynolds appeared in more than 90 feature films – most notably, Deliverance, The Longest Yard and Smokey and the Bandit – and 300 television episodes (Darren McGavin’s sidekick in Riverboat, 50 episodes as Gunsmoke’s blacksmith, and the lead in Evening Shade).

The Hollywood Reporter’s obit also reveals this bit of showbiz lore, that he rejected a role that would have changed science fiction history:

Reynolds’ career also is marked by the movies he didn’t make. Harrison Ford, Jack Nicholson and Bruce Willis surely were grateful after he turned down the roles of Han Solo, retired astronaut Garrett Breedlove and cop John McClane in Star Wars, Terms of Endearment and Die Hard, respectively

Jacqueline Pearce (1943-2018)

Jacqueline Pearce as Servalan

By Steve Green: Jacqueline Pearce (1943-2018): British actress, died September 3, 2018 aged 74. Most famous for playing the villainous Servalan in 29 episodes of Blake’s 7 (1978-81). She also appeared in The Plague of the Zombies and The Reptile (filmed back-to-back) and one episode of The Avengers (all 1966), one episode each in the anthology series Haunted (1967), Dead of Night (1972), Leap in the Dark (1977) and Shadows (1978), plus three episodes apiece of Doctor Who (1985) and Dark Season (1991), as well as providing a voice for a 2001 episode of the audio webcast Doctor Who: Death Comes to Time.

There was allegedly a plan at one point for her and Paul Darrow to cameo in Doctor Who as two unnamed characters who would clearly be Servalan and Avon from Blake’s 7. For her appearance in the CD mini-series The Actor Speaks, she performed a piece written for her by Tanith Lee.

Pixel Scroll 6/12/18 Your Mother Was A Scrollster And Your Father Smelt Of Pixelberries! I File In Your General Direction!

(1) ON WITH THE SHOW, THIS IS IT. Deadline learns “‘Looney Tunes’ Getting Short-Form Revival At WB Animation”.

Warner Bros Animation is creating a new series of short-form cartoons based on the studio’s iconic Looney Tunes Cartoons franchise featuring the likes of Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck and the gang that will harken to the original Looney Tunes theatrical shorts. The studio said today multiple artists will produce 1-6 minute shorts “written” and drawn by the cartoonists allowing their own personality and style to come through.

The plan is to produce 1,000 minutes each season, with the content to be distributed across multiple platforms including digital, mobile and broadcast…

(2) ADVANCE WORD. “How incredible is Incredibles 2? The critics give their verdicts” in a BBC roundup.

Fourteen years on from The Incredibles, a sequel to Pixar’s hit animation has arrived – and it’s “worth the wait”.

That’s the verdict of the Hollywood Reporter, which praises its “engaging” characters and “deep supply of wit“.

Screen International lauds the film’s “kinetic elan“, while Forbes called it “funny, thoughtful and thrilling”….

(3) GOOD POINT. Concern for passing on a legacy is surprisingly absent from many corners of fandom.

(4) BULLIED. ScreenRant tells the story of “5 Actors Who Were Bullied Off Social Media By Angry Fans.”

Let’s kick this whole thing off with a very obvious and very simple fact that shouldn’t even need stating: Actors are NOT the same as the characters they play. When they’re in movies or television shows, they’re ACTING (the clue is in the word “actor”). And if you’ve ever bullied an actor because of something their CHARACTER did – online or otherwise – you really do need to take a long hard look at yourself! That being said, sadly, cowardly bullying of that nature happens all the time in the modern world – it’s particularly easy to do from behind a computer screen when you have a picture of a cat as your profile picture – and, rather unsurprisingly, the actors on the receiving end don’t like it very it much. In this video, we’ll take a look at five actors who were ruthlessly and senselessly bullied off social media (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram etc) by angry so-called “fans” of their movies and TV shows who simply didn’t think before they spoke (N.B. You’re absolutely NOT a fan if you’ve ever done this). The actors in question are; the Star Wars sequel trilogy’s Daisy Ridley, Star Wars: The Last Jedi’s Kelly Marie Tran, Ghostbusters’ Leslie Jones, The Walking Dead’s Josh McDermitt and Game of Thrones’ Faye Marsay.

 

(5) JACKPOT HGHWAY. What do you get when you combine Heinlein’s “Let There Be Light” with “The Roads Must Roll” (give or take a few details)? Roads paved with solar panels! The New York Times has the story — “Free Power From Freeways? China Is Testing Roads Paved With Solar Panels”.

On a smoggy afternoon, huge log carriers and oil tankers thundered down a highway and hurtled around a curve at the bottom of a hill. Only a single, unreinforced guardrail stood between the traffic and a ravine.

The route could make for tough driving under any conditions. But experts are watching it for one feature in particular: The highway curve is paved with solar panels.

“If it can pass this test, it can fit all conditions,” said Li Wu, the chairman of Shandong Pavenergy, the company that made the plastic-covered solar panels that carpet the road. If his product fares well, it could have a major impact on the renewable energy sector, and on the driving experience, too.

(6) EMERGENCY BACKUP SIXTH ITEM. (Someone noticed I left a gap in the numbering.) Syfy Wire calls these The 13 best friendships in sci-fi & fantasy.

As we alluded to earlier, it was Sam who literally carried Frodo at a critical point in The Lord of the Rings trilogy. But Frodo would have been lost to the ring long before that if his best friend hadn’t accompanied him. In terms of trios, Harry Potter, Hermione Granger, and Ron Weasley could face almost anything together. The original Star Trek also had a core trio of friends: Kirk, Spock, and McCoy.

 

(7) ALTERNATE UNIVERSE NEWS. Kevin Lincoln, in “What If Star Wars Never Happened?” at Polygon, has an alternative universe where George Lucas passes on Star Wars to direct Apocalypse Now (which comes out in 1976), which begins a chain of events including the election of Al Gore in 2000 and the non-existence of Netflix.

The 1970s

Hot off the runaway success of 1973’s American Graffiti, which becomes one of the most profitable movies ever made, 29-year-old George Lucas tries to write a script about a moral, expansive universe filled with mysterious power and mythological heroes and villains. The first treatment he produces is, by many accounts, incoherent. Discouraged by the negative response, he decides to take up his friend Francis Ford Coppola’s offer to direct a Vietnam War movie called Apocalypse Now, written by their other friend, John Milius.

Lucas brings the film in on time and just barely over budget, delivering a well-reviewed movie shot in cinema-verite style that draws comparisons to The Battle of Algiers and Z. But audiences are tired of the Vietnam War, which had finally ended in 1975, and when the movie comes out in 1976, it’s a modest success rather than a breakout hit like Graffiti. However, combined with the success of The Godfather II in 1974, it’s enough to impress the holders of the rights to Flash Gordon, who earlier refused Lucas’ offer to adapt the property. They agree to allow him to make a movie based on the character, produced by Coppola.

(8) SNAP, CRACKLE AND PLOT. Atlas Obscura tells about the importance of some low-tech effects: “Why Foley Artists Use Cabbage and Celery to Create Hollywood’s Distinctive Sounds”.

In one of the final scenes of James Cameron’s Titanic, Rose (played by Kate Winslet) clings to a floating headboard, a piece of debris from the shipwreck that claimed over 1500 lives. A delirious Rose, adrift in the freezing ocean, sees a rescue team in the distance and moves her head. As she lifts her frozen hair off the wood, it crackles audibly.

But Rose’s hair never actually crackled, and the sound wasn’t made by hair at all: It was the sound of frozen lettuce being peeled by Foley artists in a studio. While subtle to the ear, and almost unnoticeable amidst the dialogue, score, and other sound effects, the crackle is critical to amplifying the scene’s drama. And it’s the responsibility of Foley artists to forge these unique sounds in post-production, often from lettuce heads, coconuts, and other foods.

It’s an uncharacteristically overcast May day in Culver City, California—an enclave within Los Angeles where many production studios are found. I’m at Sony Pictures, where two of the studio’s resident Foley artists, Robin Harlan and Sarah Monat-Jacobs, recount the struggle to make Rose’s frozen hair sound like frozen hair. First they tried freezing a wig, but that didn’t work. Velcro didn’t do the trick, either. Later, Harlan was at home and, while making herself a sandwich, found that a head of lettuce’s crackle worked perfectly. “They really wanted to hear the sound of frozen hair pulling off of this wood bedstead, but I mean, you can’t really freeze your own head,” says Harlan.

(9) PETERS OBIT. Only just announced… Luan Peters (1946-2017): Actress and singer, died December 24, 2017, aged 71. Genre appearances include Doctor Who (two episodes, 1967 and 1973), Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased) (aka My Partner the Ghost, one episode, 1969), Lust for a Vampire, Twins of Evil  (both 1971), The Flesh and Blood Show (1972), Vampira (aka Old Dracula, 1974), Land of the Minotaur (aka The Devil’s Men. 1976).

(10) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • June 12, 1987 Predator premiered on this day
  • June 12, 2012 — Ray Bradbury’s Kaleidoscope went into general release.
  • June 12, 2015 Jurassic World debuted

(11) COMICS SECTION.

  • Frazz discusses an application of Sturgeon’s Law but Mike Kennedy doesn’t think the math works.
  • Lise Andreasen asks if you can pass all four of the Turing Tests posed in Tom Gauld’s comic?

(12) POINT OF EXCLAMATION. Do not miss Camestros Felapton’s “Beard Subgenres (Crossover event!)” unless you have something important scheduled, like sorting your sock drawer. Just kidding!

Combining our occasional series of pointless infographics, with our occasional series of misclassifying mundane things by sub-genres of SFF and our occasional series of pictures of beards, Felapton Towers presents: beards by subgenres!

(I have no idea how I am going to justify linking to this. There’s not even a cat this time.)

(13) LEVEL-HEADED. This amazing movie technology advance is still news to me – million dollar idea:

instead of spending thousands of dollars on steady-cam equipment, filmmakers should just attach a camera to the head of a chicken and carry the chicken around as you film.

(14) ERRANT PEDANTRY. Marko Kloos volunteered these examples –

(15) TIDHAR. Jonathan Thornton reviews Candy by Lavie Tidhar” at Fantasy-Faction.

Candy is Lavie Tidhar’s first book for children. It is a perfectly pitched noir take on Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (1964). Its delightful premise following a twelve-year-old private detective in a city where chocolate, candy and sweets are banned. As such the book is both fun and amusing. However, as with Tidhar’s earlier work, his playful approach to genre is in service to the story’s hidden depths. He uses the trappings of noir detective tales to tell a subversive children’s story about corruption, the exploitation of vulnerable communities, and the limits of justice. The end result is a novel that for all its joyous sense of fun still packs a surprising emotional and philosophical punch.

(16) OUTCOME OF SENSITIVITY READ. At The Book Smugglers: “Between the Coats: A Sensitivity Read Changed my Life – an Essay by Sarah Gailey”.

I’m queer, which is why I always thought I’d be dead by now….

… I was a new writer, alien to the writing community, completely unaware of the conversations about queer representation that had been developing for years before I’d thought to write a single word of my story. It didn’t occur to me that queer tragedies like that are part of an agenda, and that the agenda had been working on me for a long time. That agenda had succeeded at keeping me quiet and scared and lonely in ways that I thought were fine, just fine, thanks, how are you? That agenda had succeeded at making me hold my breath. Because of that agenda, I spent my days hoping that no one ever noticed me.

None of that entered my mind, not even once. I thought I was writing in-genre. Fantasy stories have magic. Science fiction stories have rules that I don’t always understand because I somehow got through high school without taking a physics class. Queer stories have death.

And then I got some feedback on the story from a sensitivity reader. They had volunteered to make sure I wasn’t screwing up on a particular point of representation — but they took issue with the story as a whole. They told me emphatically that I should reconsider writing a queer tragedy; that it was a trope, that it was harmful to readers, that it was overused and dangerous. I took the feedback with mortifyingly poor grace. I was lucky enough to be quickly corrected on my behavior. In the wake of that correction, trying to figure out which way was up, I asked friends for help processing the critique.

My straight friends said it was bullshit. They said there was nothing wrong with queer tragedies — that queer people dying again and again was fine. Queer people are just people, and people die, they said. That’s just how it is. Really, it’s best not to overthink it. Go ahead and Forget.

My queer friends didn’t tell me that. Instead, they pointed me to articles and blog posts and callouts pointed at the Bury Your Gays trope. They talked to me about representation with more patience than I deserved. Many of them said that it was okay that I didn’t know, because a lot of straight writers don’t think about these things….

(17) HORRIFIC SCENARIO. In “‘Rosemary’s Baby’ at 50: How the horror classic is more relevant than ever in the #MeToo era”, Yahoo! Entertainment writer Nick Chasger looks at Rosemary’s Baby on its 50th anniversary in the wake of both director Roman Polanski and star Mia Farrow’s role in the #MeToo movement.

Focused on a powerless (and physically slight) female who’s marginalized, assaulted, and controlled in equal measure, Rosemary’s Baby soon becomes a terrifying tale about misogyny’s many guises. As the thing growing in her womb makes her sicker and sicker, her face so ashen that friends can’t help but remark upon it, Rosemary is made to feel crazy as well as helpless. That’s most evident when, after getting into an argument with Guy over her description of Sapirstein as “that nut,” she makes sure to assuage her husband that she’s not going to have an abortion — an option that, it’s clear, she doesn’t have the right to choose, even if she wanted.

(18) VOICE OF COMMAND. A new scheme for playing video games….

For the very first time ever, take your rightful place as the Dragonborn of legend (again) and explore Skyrim using the power of your own voice…your Thu’um!

 

[Thanks to Martin Morse Wooster, ULTRAGOTHA, Steve Green, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Lise Andreasen, Cat Eldridge, Chip Hitchcock, Mike Kennedy, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day jayn.]

Verne Troyer (1969-2018)

Verne Troyer as Mini-Me in Austin Powers

By Steve Green: Verne Troyer, U.S. actor, died April 21, aged 49. Genre roles include Pinocchio’s Revenge, Jingle All the Way (both 1996), Men in Black, Wishmaster (both 1997), Young Hercules (one episode, 1998), Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me (1999), How the Grinch Stole Christmas (2000), Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (2001), Austin Powers in Goldmember (2002), Sabrina the Teenage Witch (one episode, 2002), The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus (2009), Gnome Alone (2015). Hipsters, Gangsters, Aliens and Geeks is due out next year.

David Fisher (1929-2018)

David Fisher

By Steve Green: David Fisher, a British writer who scripted four Doctor Who serials, died January 10, aged 88.

He wrote “The Stones of Blood” and “The Androids of Tara”, both 1978; “The Creature from the Pit”, 1979; “The Leisure Hive”, 1980, and produced the original storyline for 1979’s “The City of Death” (rewritten by Douglas Adams under the pseudonym “David Agnew”).

Other genre work included one episode of Hammer House of Horror (“Guardian of the Abyss”, 1980) and two of Fox Mystery Theater (“The Corvini Inheritance” and “The Late Nancy Irving”, both 1984).

Suzanna Leigh (1945-2017)

By Steve Green: Suzanna Leigh, British actress, died December 12, aged 72. God-daughter of Vivien Leigh, from whom she gained her stage surname. Genre appearances included Tom Thumb (1963), It Happened Like This (one episode, 1963), The Deadly Bees (1966), The Lost Continent (1968), Journey to the Unknown (one episode, 1968), Lust for a Vampire (1971), Beware My Brethren (1972), Son of Dracula (1974).