Pixel Scroll 3/3/20 And Was The Corny Cry Of ‘Fifth’ On The File’s Pleasant Comments Seen?

(1) NEW HORROR “RADIO NETWORK.” Brian Keene announced yesterday on Facebook that The Horror Show with Brian Keene will become the flagship podcast for the new Brian Keene Radio Network, which will also include Defenders Dialogue, Cosmic Shenanigans, and Grindcast. From the statement, it looks like the split from Shelly and Armand Rosamilia is amicable.  They are all still friends.

The Horror Show with Brian Keene started out on the Project iRadio Network. During our second year, we became part of the Project Entertainment Network.

Beginning April 1, (in the midst of our sixth year on the air) The Horror Show with Brian Keene will become the flagship podcast for the new Brian Keene Radio Network,…

Listeners will not be impacted by this change. You’ll still be able to hear episodes of each podcast for free via Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, iHeartRadio, YouTube, Google Play Music, and all other platforms. You’ll also be able to hear them for free on a new 24/7 live-streaming venture (a rebooted and revamped Brian Keene Radio) beginning in April. Old shows will still be accessible, as well. You may notice some changes to the structure of each show — new theme music, new title cards, advertising presented in a different way — but otherwise, it’s business as usual….

(2) DEAR JEFF BEZOS. While Amanda S. Green had some unfortunate problems uploading her new book via Kindle Digital Publishing, thereby missing a deadline and forfeiting pre-orders, she got a hell of a good post out of it for Mad Genius Club: “Not How I Expected Today To Go”. A lot to learn here.

…Lesson #1: Check the Terms of Service on a regular basis.

Amazon has updated the Terms of Service and did so on Feb. 20, 2020. How many of you have read them since then to see if there are any changes you need to be aware of? I hadn’t–at that point. I guarantee you I have since then.

…In the meantime, I have set a recurring alarm on my phone’s calendar to remind me to check the ToS every month. Yes, I’m being obsessive about it. But I am convinced the fact I knew what the ToS said and could prove it was at odds with the FAQs helped me plead my case and get my pre-order privileges restored. (As did being professional in my dealings with Amazon).

This writer will not be the unhappy writer on what should be release day ever again.

Fingers crossed.

(3) ONWARD. Vanity Fair fills readers in about “The Heartbreaking True Story Behind Pixar’s Onward”. Tagline: “A lost father. A found tape. A voice a filmmaker thought he would never hear.”

Dan Scanlon didn’t have a sad childhood; he just grew up with a hole in it.

It was in the shape of his father, who died in 1977 when Scanlon was only one year old. Neither he nor his brother, who is about three years older, remember their dad. They tried to construct some sense of him from pictures, from stories, from glimpses of the few soundless reel-to-reel home movies they had.

That’s what inspired Scanlon, a veteran Pixar creative team member and director of Monsters University, to pitch the idea for Onward, an animated fantasy about two brothers who do the same. These siblings—younger, shy Ian (voiced by Tom Holland) and older, boisterous Barley (Chris Pratt)—are blue-skinned, pointy-eared elves in a suburban sword-and-sorcery world who harness magic to bring their late father back for one single day together. 

(4) LONDON CALLING, FEWER ANSWERING. Coronavirus is taking its toll of book events. Publishers Lunch asserts “Reed Is Holding the London Book Fair, Dubbed ‘The Nightmare of Epidemiologists,’ without All of You”

The UK government is not ready to ban public events of scale yet, and Reed Exhibitions is apparently not ready to face the costs of a voluntary cancellation and continues to vow that the London Book Fair will proceed next week. The show is an increasing outlier, with the big Leipzig Book Fair canceling next week’s show.

More companies have announced that they will skip the fair and protect their employees, now including a number of UK-based companies and divisions. Penguin Random House, which officially had only made the show optional for US employees — most of whom opted out — has followed other large trade publishers in withdrawing entirely. Their spokesperson said, “The London Book Fair is an important moment in the global publishing calendar but given the fast moving situation around the Coronavirus, Penguin Random House has come to the difficult decision to withdraw from the fair in the interest of the health and wellbeing of our employees, authors, and partners.”

The post continues for another couple of paragraphs naming businesses that have pulled out of the London event. Nevertheless, Publishers Weekly says “London Book Fair Will Still Go Ahead”.

(5) CALL FOR ARTICLES. Steven H Silver will be co-editing an issue of Journey Planet and would like contributions that fit in with its theme —

I don’t believe in the supernatural, but when I was walking amongst the ruins of Kenilworth Castle back in 1984, I had the feeling that if ghosts existed, I was about to meet one.

As anyone who knows me can tell you, I’m not much for wandering around outdoors. Allergies have had a tendency to make me favor climate controlled areas, so it came as a huge surprise to Elaine when we saw Thingvellir in Iceland that I commented “I want to come back here and spend three or four days hiking and camping.”

While it is true that travel broadens the mind, it is also true that it opens us up to the magic of the world around us. This year, I’ll be co-editing an issue of the Hugo Award wining fanzine Journey Planet with James Bacon and Christopher J Garcia that looks at “the most magical place you’ve visited.”

We’re leaving it up to the authors and artists whose work will appear in this issue to define what “most magical” means in this context. It could be a place that took your breath away, a place that actually made you believe that magic or ghosts or the supernatural existed, a place that has significant meaning for you, or something else entirely.

Artwork and photos based on the same prompt are also very welcome.

If you are interested in participating, please drop me an e-mail at shsilver@sfsite.com and we can discuss appropriate topics and article length.

The deadline is June 20.

(6) AO3/CHINA UPDATE. Two English-language publications that focus on China have news stories from their perspective.

South China Morning Post: “Archive of Our Own, one of the internet’s biggest fanfiction sites, blocked in China amid new censorship rules”

…Outraged internet users took to social media Weibo to voice their anger, accusing Xiao’s fans of being compliant in China’s censorship machine.

“China has succeeded in getting people accustomed to self-censorship in the past decade, and in using public power to eliminate those with different opinions. The idea has been deeply rooted in everyone’s head,” Weibo user Frunzzi wrote in one of the most popular comments.

Another user with the handle ChaofanDouxiansen wrote: “Why would you hurt the already limited space for creation? Shame on you.”

Also, Radii reported: “A03 Fanfiction Drama Sparks High-Stakes War of Boys’ Love Fandom”

…Some Sean Xiao fans went so far as to organize a coordinated assault against the website, posting a message that encouraged others to report AO3 and LOFTER (China’s equivalent of Tumblr) for unlawful and homoerotic content.

Unfortunately, it seems that the spiteful act has yielded results. AO3 is now blocked in China, leaving a massive base of displaced fanfiction authors and readers. In turn, that community has started to launch similar attacks against Xiao’s fanbase.

The whole thing is a huge and unnecessary mess, and the fan who organized the assault has admitted to working with Sean Xiao’s management team in order to control the situation on Weibo.

(7) KGB. Fantastic Fiction at KGB reading series hosts Ellen Datlow and Matthew Kressel present Daniel Braum and Robert Levy on Wednesday, March 18, 7 p.m. at the KGB Bar (85 East 4th Street, 2nd Floor, New York, NY.)

Daniel Braum

Daniel Braum is the author of the short story collections The Night Marchers and Other Strange Tales, The Wish Mechanics: Stories of the Strange and Fantastic and the Dim Shores Press chapbook Yeti Tiger Dragon. His third collection, Underworld Dreams is forthcoming from Lethe Press in 2020. The Serpent’s Shadow, his first novel, was released from Cemetery Dance eBooks in 2019. He is the editor of the Spirits Unwrapped anthology from Lethe Press.

Robert Levy

Robert Levy’s novel The Glittering World was a finalist for the Lambda Literary Award and the Shirley Jackson Award, while shorter work has appeared in Black Static, Shadows & Tall Trees, The Dark, The Best Horror of the Year, The Year’s Best Gay Speculative Fiction, and more. Anaïs Nin at the Grand Guignol, a speculative novella written in the style of the literary icon’s legendary diaries, was released in October by Lethe Press.

(8) LUNNEY OBIT. Fanzine fan Frank Lunney died February 28 due to a coronary event. Early on, Lunney’s Beabohema was competitive with the very best sercon zines of its day, gaining a Best Fanzine Hugo nomination in 1970 when it shared the ballot with Richard E. Geis’ Science Fiction Review, Charlie Brown’s Locus, Leland Sapiro’s Riverside Quarterly, and Peter Weston’s Speculation. Wikipedia says his contributors included “a then-obscure fan named ‘Gene Klein’ who would later become famous as Gene Simmons of KISS.”

In the early Seventies he switched over to publishing Syndrome, the reasons for which he explained in an interview published by Dan Steffan and Ted White in Blat! (See the full text here.)

…But the real thig that made me decide to change was being at the Boston woldcon in 1971 with the Katzes and the Kunkels. They had some hashish that made me hallucinate. (laughs) And they loaned me A Sense of FAPA with Ah! Sweet Idiocy in it, and I read and I realized that not writing about science fiction was a lot more interesting than being concerned with science fiction at all….

Although he considered what he was doing before to be fannish, from that point on other fans also identified his output as fannish. Or even faannish. In later years he would often attend Corflu. Indeed, Lunney is credited with originating the Corflu practice of paying $20 to have one’s name removed from the choosing hat, taking away any risk of being drafted to give a GoH speech at the Sunday banquet.

(9) TODAY IN HISTORY.

  • March 3, 1965 Mutiny in Outer 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 and see what you think of it.
  • March 3, 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.

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • 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.)
  • 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 in played Phillip Bainbridge, during the first season of Trek.  Doohan did nothing of genre nature post-Trek. ISFDB notes that he did three genre novels co-written with S.M. Stirling. (Died 2005.)
  • Born March 3, 1924 Catherine Downs. She’s in four Fifties grade B SF films: The Phantom from 10,000 Leagues, The She Creature, The Amazing Colossal Man and Missile to the Moon. All but the first film was the subject of a MST3K show. (Died 1976.)
  • Born March 3, 1936 Donald E. Morse, 84. 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.
  • Born March 3, 1945 George Miller, 75. Best known for his Mad Max franchise, The Road WarriorMad 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 Eastwick, Babe and 40,000 Years of Dreaming
  • Born March 3, 1977 Sarah Smart, 43. She’s Jennifer in the two part Eleventh Doctor story, “The Rebel Flesh” and “The Almost People”. She’s Magda Cribden on The Secret of Crickley Hall, and played Carl Gruff in the “Billy Goat” episode of the Fairy Tale series. 
  • Born March 3, 1982 Jessica Biel,  38. A number of interesting genre films including The Texas Chainsaw MassacreBlade: Trinity, StealthThe Illusionist, the remake of Total Recall which I confess I’ve not seen, and the animated Spark: A Space Tail.
  • Born March 3, 1980 Katherine Waterston, 40. She’s Tina Goldstein in the Harry Potter spin-off Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, which she reprised in Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald. And she was Janet “Danny” Daniels in Alien: Covenant. Finally I’ll note that she was Chrisann Brennan in the Steve Jobs film.

(11) COMICS SECTION.

(12) FOWL TRAILER. Artemis Fowl hits U.S. theaters May 29.

Disney’s “Artemis Fowl,” based on the beloved book by Eoin Colfer, is a fantastical, spellbinding adventure that follows the journey of 12-year-old genius Artemis Fowl, a descendant of a long line of criminal masterminds, as he seeks to find his father who has mysteriously disappeared. With the help of his loyal protector Butler, Artemis sets out to find him, and in doing so uncovers an ancient, underground civilization—the amazingly advanced world of fairies. Deducing that his father’s disappearance is somehow connected to the secretive, reclusive fairy world, cunning Artemis concocts a dangerous plan—so dangerous that he ultimately finds himself in a perilous war of wits with the all-powerful fairies.

(13) REALISM. In “How To Write Believable, Realistic, and Responsible Violence” on CrimeReads, Ed Ruggero offers seven tips for making violent scenes in fiction plausible.

1. People have strong reactions to violence.

Here is retired Marine Randy Hoffman describing combat to young men and women in training. “Your heart rate is uncontrollable,” he tells them. “Your pulse goes up so much that your ears kind of stop up. Everything goes kind of in slow motion. Your brain focuses on minute details to help you get through engaging the enemy before he can kill you.” [Wall Street Journal, December 13, 2019]

There are also delayed physiological effects. Here is the late Paul Russell, a combat medic in Vietnam, describing his reaction after he crawled under incoming fire to rescue wounded GIs, an action for which he would be awarded the Silver Star. “I threw my guts up all the next day. Adrenaline.”

(14) PRESSING ON. Galactic Journey’s Gideon Marcus is full of good news about their affiliated venture, Journey Press. He begins the “State of the Press, March 2020 edition” with news that their flagship release, Rediscovery: Science Fiction by Women (1958-1963), is in over 300 bookstores (besides being available as an ebook.) Here’s what else they have coming up —

Old Masters sign on with Journey Press

It is our great honor and privilege to announce that Journey Press will be working with Hugo Finalist and SF veteran Tom Purdom to bring back his classic, I Want the Stars. We chose to bring back this particular book for several reasons. For one, it is a timeless work, with a unique vision of the human condition nearly a thousand years from now. For another, it may well be the first science fiction novel ever to explicitly star a Black man. That’s unusual for today, forget 1964. Finally, it’s just a great book. It comes out in June.

Also, we are bowled over with delight to announce our collaboration with Robin Brown, son of the late, great Rosel George Brown. Ms. Brown was one of science fiction’s brightest lights from the mid ’50s until her untimely death in 1967 (two of her best stories are in Rediscovery). Just before she passed away, she wrote Sibyl Sue Blue, the novel that features the first galactic woman space cop. If ever there were a genre we need to have more books in, it’s that one!

Look for Sibyl Sue Blue next year, timed to coincide with coverage of the book at Galactic Journey.

New Talent on the Horizon

In less than two weeks, we will be releasing Kitra, our first work of new fiction. It’s already gotten some great advance reviews, and we think it’ll be a hit. Well, we hope so: there are nine more planned books in the series! Don’t worry, though. Kitra stands alone.

We’re particularly excited about this release, not only because it’s a revival of the space adventure yarns of the mid-20th Century (think Robert Heinlein and Andre Norton), but it also features illustrations by the talented Lorelei E. Marcus. Last, but certainly not least, Kitra has a queer woman of color as its protagonist — again, something we think there should be more of!

(15) WATERWORLD IS REAL. Or at least it Was. Maybe. According to Futurism com: ”Scientists Say Ancient Earth Was Completely Covered In Water”.

Scientists at Iowa State and the University of Colorado say they’ve found compelling new evidence that the ancient Earth was an unbroken expanse of water, without a single continent. Yes: “Waterworld.”

The research, published this week in the journal Nature Geoscience, examined ancient samples of sea floor found in Australia and found chemical clues that Earth used to be a completely blue planet — a discovery, the scientists say, that could have deep implications for the history of life itself.

(16) GAME TECH. “Half-Life: Alyx – Hands on with Valve’s virtual reality game-changer”, a BBC video.

In 1998, Half Life changed first-person shooters forever.

It combined cinematic storytelling, taut and tense combat and extra-dimensional bad guys.

A successful sequel followed, but it’s been nearly 13 years since the last release.

Now the series has returned in the form of a virtual reality title.

BBC Click’s Marc Cieslak was one of the first people in the world to play it, and he suggests it could be VR’s first killer app.

(17) PLOT POINT. “Mulan: Disney drop character following #MeToo movement” – BBC has the story.

A Disney producer says the character Li Shang is missing from the live-action remake of Mulan, as his storyline is not “appropriate” in the #MeToo era.

The film tells of a woman who disguises herself as a man to fight in place of her father in China’s imperial army.

In the 1998 animated original, based on the Chinese legend of Hua Mulan, General Li Shang developed a bond with Mulan’s male warrior alter-ego Ping.

After her true identity was revealed, she and Li Shang have dinner together.

Given recent revelations in Hollywood, however, producer Jason Reed confirmed they were uncomfortable with the power dynamics in their relationship.

“I think particularly in the time of the #MeToo movement, having a commanding officer that is also the sexual love interest was very uncomfortable and we didn’t think it was appropriate,” Reed told Collider.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, JJ, Chip Hitchcock, Cat Eldridge, Dann, Mike Kennedy, Michael Toman, Martin Morse Wooster, Brian Z., and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Camestros Felapton.]

JeddiCon’s Yasser Bahjatt at Worldcon 76

The bid committee to bring the Worldcon to Jeddah, Saudi Arabia in 2022 (JeddiCon) styles itself The Jeddi High Council.  The Master of The Order – bid chair — is Yasser Bahjatt. He’s been to Worldcons, and Olav Rokne forwarded several photos he took of Bahjatt on a panel at the San Jose Worldcon of 2018. (Thanks to Steven H Silver for the panelist identifications.)

This was the alternate history panel “If This, Then What?” The panelists in order from left to right: Kaja Foglio, Steven H Silver, Yasser Bahjatt, Kay Kenyon, Harry Turtledove. (Foglio only appears in the last picture.)

Left to right: Steven H Silver, Yasser Bahjatt, Kay Kenyon, Harry Turtledove. Photo by Olav Rokne.
Left to right: Steven H Silver, Yasser Bahjatt, Kay Kenyon, Harry Turtledove. Photo by Olav Rokne.
Left to right: Kaja Foglio, Steven H Silver, Yasser Bahjatt, Kay Kenyon, Harry Turtledove. Photo by Olav Rokne.

Museum Moves Towards Bradbury Centennial

By Steven H Silver: On August 22, 1920, Esther and Leonard Bradbury became parents to a son they named Ray Douglas Bradbury in Waukegan, Illinois. A century later, the city of Waukegan is preparing to remember this child who grew up to write the novels Dandelion Wine, Something Wicked This Way Comes, and Farewell Summer, all of which take their inspiration from his childhood in Waukegan, which he called Green Town in many of his writings, by opening a museum, The Ray Bradbury Experience Museum (RBEM).

On January 9, 2020, I attended an event thrown by the committee behind the museum. Held in a storefront at 13 N. Genessee Street, a block east of the Lake County courthouse and a block south from the Genesee Theatre, this storefront is in the process of being transformed into the museum, with the intention of phase one being ready for the public in time for the centennial of Ray Bradbury’s birth.

Bradbury’s childhood home at 11 S. James St.

At the moment, the building isn’t much to look at. Signs in the window announce the imminence of the museum, along with a poster that outlines the way Bradbury has been honored throughout the solar system. The interior of the building is currently even less impressive than the exterior: a mostly empty warren of halls and rooms that are undergoing construction, awaiting the installation of exhibits.

The front room was filled with rows of chairs, a large monitor, a podium, and a variety of displays related to Bradbury’s career and his life in Waukegan. One wall included framed magazines that included Bradbury’s work including the original serialization of Fahrenheit 451, another wall had posters describing his ties to Waukegan, including a picture of his childhood home at 11 S. James Street, about half a mile from the museum.

I was greeted at the door by Sandy Petroshius, the Chair of RBEM. She asked about me and the next thing I knew I was being introduced to Michael Stoltz, a member of the Mars Society who had joined the RBEM board to help run their publicity. We chatted for a while and I made my way around the room, looking at the displays.

We were asked to sit down and Petroshius took to the podium and welcomed us all. She pointed out that Waukegan has already embraced Bradbury and that last year Ray Bradbury Park was named a national literary landmark and a sculpture showing Bradbury riding a rocket was installed outside the Waukegan Public Library. Finally, she introduced Sam Cunningham, the mayor of Waukegan.

Cunningham pointed out that Waukegan was also represented by several of their alderman, the city clerk, and other dignitaries. He spoke about what Bradbury’s pride in Waukegan and what the author means to the city, and spoke of how the RBEM would assist in making the community of Waukegan into a destination. Cunningham also announced that although the plans weren’t finalized yet, Waukegan was planning a massive celebration in August to coincide with the centennial.

Other members of the RBEM committee also spoke. Vance D. Wyatt discussed the importance of showcasing Bradbury’s books and his tie to Waukegan to help inspire local students. Living in a city in which a quarter of the population lives below the poverty line and unemployment has fluctuated in the last year between 4.2% and 9.5%, it is important for them to see that people from Waukegan can, and have succeeded.

Wyatt was followed by Pat O’Keefe who has traveled around the world and spoken to people about Ray Bradbury’s influence on their lives and their reading. O’Keefe talked about the awards Bradbury has won, and those named in his honor, the adaptations of his work for film, television, and radio, and showed some artifacts of Bradbury’s career. When I was speaking to him after the presentations, I learned he had never seen the Ray Bradbury Award he had mentioned. Since I had some pictures of it on my phone from the last Nebula Conference, I showed them to him.

Pat O’Keefe

Michael Edgar, the President of the Greater Waukegan Development Coalition, took the podium next. As noted above, Waukegan suffers from unemployment and poverty. The RBEM is part of a multi-year renovation project the city is undergoing. Edgar discussed the ways Waukegan is working to support and attract businesses to Waukegan and spoke about RBEM’s role in boosting Waukegan’s downtown.

The next speaker was Mikayla Khramov, who is a film documentarian who did her Master’s thesis on Bradbury’s Green Town and is currently working on a documentary entitled Dear Ray Bradbury. She previewed the opening of the film, which she expects to finish in time for the centennial and which will be a feature length film. She also showed a short film that she’s working on called “I Met Ray,” which has short interviews with people who have come into contact with Bradbury, either directly or through his works. In addition to featuring several citizens of Waukegan, the film also featured actor Joe Mantegna, who starred in The Wonderful Ice Cream Suit and who co-produced the 2013 documentary Live Forever: The Ray Bradbury Odyssey.

Mikayla Khramov

While the event so far had been entertaining and informative, the real purpose of the evening was about to happen, although it was also the part that was least connected directly to Bradbury. Local H&R Block franchisees Feroze and Samia Hanif had been selected as an H&R Block Franchisee of the Year. They were lauded by Karen Orosco, a Senior Vice President of the firm who had flown in from their Kansas City headquarters to recognize the Hanifs and present them with a check for $10,000. The Hanifs, in turn presented a check for $10,000 to RBEM to help with their efforts to complete the first phase of the museum.

The museum’s exhibits are being designed by Chicago Exhibit Productions, with a team headed by Keith Michalek. Michalek stepped in front of the audience with the meatiest part of the evening. He explained the difference between an experiential museum and a display museum. The goal of the RBEM would be to take whatever image a visitor had of Bradbury and his work when they entered the museum and to transform it before they left through hands-on, interactive exhibits that would not remain static, but would change.

Keith Michalek

The museum would have seven rooms, with each room having a different focus. The room we were all sitting in, the Martian Chronicle room, would focus on space exploration. Other rooms would include a biographical exhibit about Bradbury, the Fahrenheit 451 room which would aim to explore freedom of expression, censorship, and creativity. The Something Wicked room wood look at horror, fantasy, and circuses. The Dandelion Wine room would be devoted to libraries, books, and the tie between Bradbury and Waukegan. The remaining rooms would focus on tributes to Bradbury by other creatives and a viewing room where films and television shows based on Bradbury’s works and documentaries about Bradbury could be screened.

The organization clearly has detailed plans for the museum and the images Michalek showed of the concepts for their exhibits appear well thought out. In addition to the interactive exhibits, the museum plans on holding a variety of events to inform and interact with the public.

And I did find my visit transformative, even if the displays are not installed yet. I walked into the event to learn about what the museum was going to have to offer and perhaps get a sneak preview of their exhibits. By the time I left, I had made plans to talk to various members of the board to find out what I could do to help bring the museum and their vision to fruition.

Pixel Scroll 11/10/19 Let’s Build Robots With Genuine Pixel Personalities, They Said

(1) FORWARD MOMENTUM. Odyssey Writing Workshop’s Jeanne Cavelos works on “Uncovering the Mysteries of Flow in the Opening of Stephen King’s 11/22/63 in a new post:

…As the director of the Odyssey Writing Workshops Charitable Trust, I’m constantly critiquing fiction in our online classes or in-person workshops, and I’ve come to realize how important flow is to a story. A story may have an exciting plot, compelling characters, a fascinating world, and a clear style, but without flow, we’ll be struggling to reach the end.

What is flow? The Oxford English Dictionary tells us that, when applied to composition or speech, to flow is “To glide along smoothly, like a river.” So a story with flow is one that carries the reader ahead smoothly and effortlessly. That describes the sensation we may feel when reading a story with flow, but what techniques can we use to write stories with flow?

This article was inspired by two interesting blog posts by V. Moody analyzing the opening of Stephen King’s novel 11/22/63, and the openings of Stephen King novels in general.

(2) ON THE COVER. Steven H Silver’s latest feature for Black Gate pays tribute to a superb sff artist: “The Golden Age of Science Fiction: Joan Hanke-Woods”. And Richard Chwedyk contributes a section about her life nearly all of which was new to me. 

…She loved SF. She loved fandom. But there were a lot of folks in fandom who could make her regret her passion. This isn’t to say there weren’t good people around, trying to help her whenever they could. Kelly-Freas once told her, “It’s a CRIME you’re not working as a pro!” But for most of her professional years she worked as a legal secretary or administrative assistant in various law offices.

(3) SOUL. Disney Pixar just dropped a teaser trailer for Soul, to be released next June.

“Soul” introduces Joe Gardner, a middle-school band teacher whose true passion is playing jazz. “I think Joe is having that crisis that all artists have,” says Powers. “He’s increasingly feeling like his lifelong dream of being a jazz musician is not going to pan out and he’s asking himself ‘Why am I here? What am I meant to be doing?’ Joe personifies those questions.” In the film, just when Joe thinks his dream might be in reach, a single unexpected step sends him to a fantastical place where he’s is forced to think again about what it truly means to have soul. That’s where he meets and ultimately teams up with 22, a soul who doesn’t think life on Earth is all it’s cracked up to be. Jamie Foxx lends his voice to Joe, while Tina Fey voices 22. “The comedy comes naturally,” says Murray. “But the subtle emotion that reveals the truth to the characters is really something special.”

(4) WORTHY OF THEIR HIRE. Ann VanderMeer exhorts people to “Pay the writer” (and other creatives). Thread starts here.

(5) CONQUER THAT BLANK PAGE. Servicescape has published “660 Science Fiction Writing Prompts That Will Get You Writing at Warp Speed” in a wide variety of subgenres, from Nanopunk and Time Travel to Utopia and Slipstream. Their  new writing guide “aims to help Sci-Fi writers find creative inspiration, get past writer’s block, and discover new story ideas and starters.”

(6) SCIENCE MEETS POETRY. Brain Picking’s Maria Popova introduces  “In Transit: Neil Gaiman Reads His Touching Tribute to the Lonely Genius Arthur Eddington, Who Confirmed Einstein’s Relativity”.

“You have got a boy mixed of most kindly elements, as perhaps Shakespeare might say. His rapidly and clearly working mind has not in the least spoiled his character,” a school principal wrote at the end of the nineteenth century to the mother of a lanky quiet teenager who would grow up to be the great English astronomer Sir Arthur Stanley Eddington (December 28, 1882–November 22, 1944) and who would catapult Albert Einstein into celebrity by confirming his relativity theory in his historic eclipse expedition of May 29, 1919….

(7) TODAY IN HISTORY.

  • November 10, 1919 — National Book Week was first observed in the United States.
  • November 10, 1966 Star Trek’s “The Corbomite Manuever” first aired. It was written by Jerry Sohl who also wrote who wrote for The Twilight Zone, Alfred Hitchcock Presents and The Outer Limits.  It starred Clint Howard as Balok, Walker Edmiston as the voice of Balok and Ted Cassidy (Lurch) as the voice of the Balok puppet. 

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born November 10, 1889 Claude Rains. Though you’ll likely remember him for another film, he did a lot of genre acting  with his first feature role was being  that of Dr. Jack Griffin, better known as The Invisible Man.  He also was in The Wolf Man, Phantom of the Opera, ScroogeThe Adventures of Robin Hood,The Lost World, and Battle of the Worlds. (Died 1967.)
  • Born November 10, 1924 Russell Johnson. Best known in what is surely genre for being Professor Roy Hinkley in Gilligan’s Island. His genre career started off with four Fifties films, It Came from Outer Space, This Island Earth, Attack of the Crab Monsters and The Space Children. He would later appear in both the Twilight Zone and Outer Limits. On ALF, he would appear as Professor Roy Hinkley in “Somewhere Over the Rerun”. (Died 2014.)
  • Born November 10, 1932 Roy Scheider. First genre role was as Dr. Heywood R. Floyd in 2010, the sequel to 2001: A Space Odyssey. His other major genre performance was as Captain Nathan Bridger in the SeaQuest DSV series. He also has roles in The Curse of the Living Corpse (his first acting role, a very low budget horror film), one of The Punisher films, Dracula III: Legacy and Naked Lunch which may or may not be genre.  The Jaws films are obviously genre as well. (Died 2008.)
  • Born November 10, 1943 Milt Stevens. Today is indeed his Birthday. On the day that he announced Milt’s unexpected passing, OGH did a wonderful post and y’all did splendid commentary about him, so I’ll just send you over there. (Died 2017.)
  • Born November 10, 1946 Jack Ketchum. Winner of four Bram Stoker Awards, he was made a World Horror Convention Grand Master Award for outstanding contribution to the horror genre. Oh, and he wrote the screenplays for a number of his novels, all of which he quite naturally performed in. (Died 2018.)
  • Born November 10, 1948 Steven Utley. Best known for his short stories of which he had two series, the first being his Silurian tales (collected in two volumes,  The 400-Million-Year Itch and Invisible Kingdoms),  and his time travel stories have been collected in Where or When. The Silurian tales Are available on iBooks and Kindle, Where or When isn’t either place. (Died 2013.)
  • Born November 10, 1955 Roland Emmerich, 64. Usually I don’t touch upon SJW affairs here but he’s very strong campaigner for the LGBT community, and is openly gay so bravo for him! Now back to his genre credits.  The Noah’s Ark Principle was in ‘84 by him written and directed by Roland Emmerich as his thesis after seeing Star Wars at the Hochschule für Fernsehen und Film München. Moon 44 followed which likely most of you haven’t seen but now we get to his Hollywood films, to wit Universal Soldier, The High Crusade (yes the Poul Anderson novel), Stargate, Independence Day.. no, I’m going to stop there. Suffice it to say he’s created a lot of genre film. And oh he directed Stonewall, the 2015 look at historic event. 
  • Born November 10, 1955 Clare Higgins, 64. Her genre film appearances include Hellraiser, Hellbound: Hellraiser II and The Golden Compass. She was Miss Cackle on the Worst Witch series, and had a memorable role on Doctor Who as Ohila, the High Priestess of the Sisterhood of Karn, that started off with the War Doctor and the Eighth Doctor going through the Twelfth Doctor. 
  • Born November 10, 1960 Neil Gaiman, 59. Summarizing him is nigh unto impossible so I won’t beyond saying that his works include Neverwhere, Anansi Boys, the Sandman series, Stardust, American Gods, Coraline, and The Graveyard Book. As for film, I think the finest script he did is his “Day of The Dead” one for Babylon 5, not  his Doctor Who scripts. The animated Coraline is I think the most faithful work of one of his novels, the Neverwhere series needs to be remade with decent CGI and the less said about Stardust the better. My first encounter with him was reading the BBC trade paper edition of Neverwhere followed by pretty much everything else he did until the last decade or so when I admit I stopped reading him, but I still remember those early novels with great fondness. I even read the Good Omens film script that he and Pratchett wrote.
  • Born November 10, 1963 Hugh Bonneville, 56. He’s here because he was Captain Avery in two Eleventh Doctor stories, “The Curse of the Black Spot” and “A Good Man Goes to War”. Which is not to say that he hasn’t done other genre work as he has as he’s got appearances on Da Vinci’s DemonsBonekickers, Bugs and The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes. 
  • Born November 10, 1971 Holly Black, 48. Best known for her Spiderwick Chronicles, which were created with fellow writer & illustrator Tony DiTerlizzi, and for the Modern Faerie Tales YA trilogy. Her first novel was Tithe: A Modern Faerie Tale. (It’s very good.) There have been two sequels set in the same universe. The first, Valiant, won the first Andre Norton Award for Young Adult Science Fiction and Fantasy.  Doll Bones which is really, really creepy was awarded a Newbery Honor and a Mythopoeic Fantasy Award. Suffice it to say if you like horror, you’ll love her. 

(9) TIPPING — FOR SCIENCE! “Boston Dynamics boss learned by unbalancing toddler” — note also cooperative robot behavior 1:00 into video.

The boss of robotics company Boston Dynamics has confessed he once nudged his one-year-old daughter over to work out how people balance.

A YouTube video of Marc Raibert’s humanoid robot Atlas remaining upright while being poked with hockey sticks has 34 million views.

He no longer knocked his robots over just to show people they could get themselves back up again, he said.

But when he had done so, it was because he had felt like a “proud parent”.

“In fact, I have video of pushing on my daughter when she was one year old, knocking her over, getting some grief,” he told BBC News, at Web Summit in Lisbon.

“She was teetering and tottering and learning to balance and I just wanted to see what would happen. But we’re still good pals.”

(10) THAT STAR WARS ICE CREAM. Martin Morse Wooster writes, “I had the Star Wars Breyers ice cream.  Silly me.  It combines generic vanilla, generic chocolate and some sort of crumble in the chocolate.  It’s not very good.”

(11) YOU ARE FALSE DATA. BBC reports “Apple’s ‘sexist’ credit card investigated by US regulator”.

A US financial regulator has opened an investigation into claims Apple’s credit card offered different credit limits for men and women.

It follows complaints – including from Apple’s co-founder Steve Wozniak – that algorithms used to set limits might be inherently biased against women.

New York’s Department of Financial Services (DFS) has contacted Goldman Sachs, which runs the Apple Card.

Any discrimination, intentional or not, “violates New York law”, the DFS said.

The Bloomberg news agency reported on Saturday that tech entrepreneur David Heinemeier Hansson had complained that the Apple Card gave him 20 times the credit limit that his wife got.

In a tweet, Mr Hansson said the disparity was despite his wife having a better credit score.

Later, Mr Wozniak, who founded Apple with Steve Jobs, tweeted that the same thing happened to him and his wife despite their having no separate bank accounts or separate assets.

(12) A SNITCH IN TIME…FOR CHRISTMAS. Own Harry Potter’s Golden Snitch Drone for $39.95.

Ideal for Seekers in training, this is the golden snitch drone based on the classic Quidditch ball from the Harry Potter series. Just like its film counterpart, it can hover in place and flies away if you try to catch it via built-in proximity sensors that detect motion from a hand or foot. The heliball can also be controlled using an included remote that lets you set the speed and altitude. Copter charges via included USB cable; remote uses one button cell battery (included). Ages 8 and up.

(13) UP YOU LIGHTEN. There’s also a Yoda Table Lamp to chase away the dark side….

This is the lamp that illuminates a room with Jedi Master wisdom. Its cold-cast bronze base captures a meticulously detailed sculpture of Yoda—emblematic of his pose displayed in The Empire Strikes Back as he imparted his knowledge of the Force to an impatient and ambitious Luke Skywalker. A textured cloth lampshade enhanced with golden lining displays the classic quote “Do, or do not there is no try” bisected by the Jedi Order logo. Ideal for padawans and Jedi Knights alike, the lamp saves one from the dark side with an included energy efficient bulb.

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

Pixel Scroll 10/13/19 And Where’s Charles Laughton, Anyway?

(1) WORLD TURNED UPSIDE DOWN. David Harbour’s opening monologue on Saturday Night Live made Stranger Things jokes.

Also terrifically funny is the “Grouch (Joker Parody)” which began with the premise, “What if the people behind Joker did a dark origin story for Sesame Street’s Oscar the Grouch?”

(2) PNH HEALTH UPDATE. Yesterday, Patrick Nielsen Hayden was hospitalized while attending a convention in Montreal. The symptoms sounded quite alarming to begin with, fortunately the diagnosis is not as bad as first feared.

(3) FIFTY-FIVE YEARS AGO. John Boston reviews the latest (in 1964) issue of Amazing at Galactic Journey: “[October 12, 1964] Slow Cruising (November 1964 Amazing)”

The November 1964 Amazing is distinguished by being the second consecutive issue with a cover depicting a guy in a flying chair, calling to mind the observation of the Hon. Jimmy Walker, erstwhile Mayor of New York City, before fleeing the country to avoid a corruption prosecution: “Never follow a banjo act with another banjo act.” Alex Schomburg’s rather static and solemn depiction of the device contrasts amusingly with Virgil Finlay’s interior illustration, which attempts to imbue the same gadget with all the energy and drama that the cover picture lacks.  Can we say Apollonian versus Dionysian?  I thought not.  Forget I mentioned it.

(4) SFF IN ENGLISH. Enjoy Robert Quaglia’s video of the “Writing in English as a foreign language” panel at the 2010 Eastercon in the UK.

(5) IMAGINED LANDS. Scott Bradfield’s first Oz book came as a Christmas present, and by now these tales have merged with his family DNA: “The End of Oz: Reflections on the Centenary of L. Frank Baum’s Death” at the LA Review of Books.

… I found myself immersed in a panoply of voices, and as they chattered, they carried me into fantastically believable landscapes. First, there was the colorful young Munchkin, Ojo the Unlucky, and his soon-to-be-turned-to-stone Unc Nunkie. Or the Crooked (in body, not in mind) Magician, Dr. Pipt, and his devoted wife, Margolotte. Or the magically animated glass cat, Bungle, who constantly alerted everyone to the fact that her brains were remarkably pink — “you can see them work.” But best of all was the optimist of all optimists, the Patchwork Girl herself, who adopted the name Scraps, since she was sewn together from remnants like a mad quilt, and never tired of admiring her own beauty and cleverness. “I hate dignity,” Scraps liked to say. And giving yourself over to a discordant, undignified mess of landscapes and personalities is a large part of what reading the Oz books is all about.

…For me, the most significant aspect of every Oz book I ever read as a child — or later reread to my son several decades later — was never simply the stories and characters they conveyed. Rather, they resounded with visions of my mother’s childhood in San Francisco, a landscape as far away and interesting to my youthful imagination as the color-coordinated kingdoms of the Winkies, Quadlings, Gillikins, and Munchkins.

(6) IT’S OFFICIAL? Interesting NZ Official Information Act request.

New Zealand publication Stuff inquires: “Is the Department of Internal Affairs being trolled, or do ghosts roam its halls?”

Scientific study, or a troll of Wellington’s halls of power? Either way, one government department is being grilled over its connection to the paranormal. 

The Department of Internal Affairs (DIA) has been tasked with helping investigators discover if its Wellington headquarters is haunted. This request under the Official Information Act includes two years of air conditioning sensor readings, “in absolute detail”. It was also asked whether it had plans in place to alleviate paranormal incidents.

The department says its OIA response will cover many of these questions.

(7) ATTEMPTED HUMOR. NPR’s Andrew Lapin finds that “‘Jexi’ Is Siri-Ously Bad”:

In Jexi, Adam DeVine’s life partner calls him an idiot, a “little bitch,” and many other, less printable things. The abuse is near-constant. The person heaping it on him is his phone.

A would-be satire of millenial tech obsession, Jexi is like if the AI in Her were raised on Don Rickles. The phone (voiced by Rose Byrne in a weary-sounding Siri imitation) belittles DeVine’s Phil for being an antisocial loner, too quick to give up on his professional dreams, too cowardly to make friends or ask a girl on a date. Because this is an R-rated comedy made by Jon Lucas and Scott Moore, the guys behind the Hangover and Bad Moms movies, Jexi also makes fun of Phil’s penis.

It seems likely, based on the laziness of the concept and this film’s generic male-ness, that Lucas and Moore didn’t put a lot of thought into the specific nature of Jexi’s behavior. But funny enough, they’ve hit on something real here. Our devices do abuse us, a little more every day, barking out instructions on where to go, what food to eat, and what music to listen to, all while siphoning away more of our attention and making money off our data. We insist we are competent, independent adults, and yet we’d be lost without them, so we take whatever they dish out, even when they invade our privacy or laugh at us….

(8) OH, SNAP. NPR’s Danny Hensen is underwhelmed: “‘The Addams Family’ Isn’t Sufficiently Creepy, Kooky, Mysterious Or Spooky”.

Do you feel that chill? It’s the beginning of October, when store shelves are lined with Halloween products branded with the latest theatrically bound IP. This year, a cotton-candy funhouse animated version of The Addams Family hits theaters, returning the long-running franchise to something closer to its original form — cartoons in The New Yorker.

In this newest version, which often feels de-clawed, we see the marriage between Gomez and Morticia Addams, voiced by a maniacal Oscar Isaac and a quietly authoritative Charlize Theron, and their subsequent move to New Jersey, having been driven out of town by an angry mob none too pleased with their sundry differences in appearances and behavior….

Meanwhile, in what feels like 21st century homage to Edward Scissorhands, a pastel-tinted planned community develops in the valley adjacent to the mansion, and the town leader, Margaux Needler, the host of a home & garden reality television show, attempts to remodel the mansion and rid the town of the family. Voiced by Allison Janney, Needler looks like a boardwalk caricature drawing of Farrah Fawcett.

Fortunately, the film offers more than just a retread of its forebears, the Tim Burton movie included. Though at times clumsy, the film’s firm placement in the present allows for an only slightly exaggerated Nextdoor parody: Needler spies on her neighbors using an app. While intriguing in theory, the execution offers only vague, toothless commentary.

(9) MOORE OBIT. The unforgettable voice belonged to actor Stephen Moore, who died October 4:

Stephen Moore – known as the voice of Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy’s Marvin the Paranoid Android – has died aged 81.

He also played Adrian Mole’s father on TV, and the dad to Harry Enfield’s grumpy teenager Kevin.

Hitchhiker’s producer and director Dirk Maggs said Moore was the “most sweet, charming and affable of men”….

(10) TODAY IN HISTORY.

  • October 13, 1966  — The Trek episode of “Mudd’s Women” first aired. Starring Roger C. Carmel as Harry Mudd and  his ‘cargo’ as played by Eve McHuron, Magda Kovacs, and Ruth Bonaventure. Memory Alpha notes that Roddenberry had planned for this to possibly be the pilot at one point.
  • October 13, 2016  — Zapped premiered in the United Kingdom. It lasted for three series and fifteen episodes. Set in two universes, most stories. are mostly set in and around the town pub.  You can see the first episode here.

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born October 13, 1906 Joseph Samachson. In 1955, he co-created with artist Joe Certa the Martian Manhunter in the pages of Detective Comics #225. Earlier he penned a couple of Captain Future pulp novels around 1940 under a house name. (House names often blur who did what.) He also wrote scripts for Captain Video and His Video Rangers, a late Forties to mid Fifties series. (Died 1980.)
  • Born October 13, 1914 Walter Brooke. You know him for muttering a certain word in The Graduate but he’s earlier noteworthy for being General T. Merrit in Conquest of Space, a Fifties SF film, one of many genre roles he did including The Wonderful World of the Brothers GrimmThe MunstersMaroonedThe Return of Count Yorga and The Nude Bomb (also known as The Return of Maxwell Smart). (Died 1986.)
  • Born October 13, 1923 Cyril Shaps. He appears in a number of  Doctor Who stories,  to wit The Tomb of the CybermenThe Ambassadors of DeathPlanet of the Spiders and The Androids of Tara which means he’s appeared with the Second, Third and Fourth Doctors. He was also Mr. Pinkus in The Spy Who Loved Me, and he was in Sherlock Holmes and the Leading Lady as Emperor Franz Josef. The latter stars Christopher Lee and Patrick Macnee as Holmes and Watson. (Died 2003.)
  • Born October 13, 1952 John Lone, 67. He played the villainous Shiwan Khan in The Shadow, and he was the revived ice man Charlie in the Iceman. His first film role ever was Andy the Cook in the Seventies King Kong.
  • Born October 13, 1956 Chris Carter, 63. Best known for the X-Files and Millennium but also responsible for Harsh Realm which lasted three episodes before being cancelled.
  • Born October 13, 1959 Wayne Pygram, 60. His most SFish role was as Scorpius on Farscape and he has a cameo as Grand Moff Tarkin in Revenge of the Sith because he’s a close facial resemblance to Peter Cushing. He’s likely best recognized as himself for his appearance on Lost as a faith healer named Isaac of Uluru.
  • Born October 13, 1969 Tushka Bergen, 50. She first shows in Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome as The Guardian at the age of sixteen. She’s got one-offs in the Fantasy IslandAngelFreakyLinks and The Others series, and an appearance in the Journey to the Center of the Earth series. The FreakyLinks episode is titled “Subject: Edith Keeler Must Die”.
  • Born October 13, 1976 Jennifer Sky, 43. Lead character conveniently named Cleopatra in Sam Raimi’s Cleopatra 2525 series. (Opening theme “In the Year 2525” is performed by Gina Torres who’s also a cast member.) She’s had guest roles on Seaquest DSVXenaCharmed and Buffy the Vampire Slayer. And she was Lola in The Helix…Loaded, a parody of The Matrix which scored 14% at Rotten Tomatoes. 
  • Born October 13, 1983 Katia Winter, 36. She’s best known for being Katrina Crane on Sleepy Hollow, and Freydis Eriksdottir on Legends of Tomorrow. She also was Swede in Malice in Wonderland which is very loosely based off its source material. She’s currently Gwen Karlsson in Blood & Treasure which might be genre.

(12) FUTURE WAR. Australian sff writer Russell Blackford’s post “Science Fiction as a Lens into Future War” is the written version of his panel presentation “Science Fiction and Futurism – Philosophy and Ethics for a Global Era” at the Australian Defence College’s Profession of Arms seminar held in Canberra on October e.

There are limits to what we should expect of these narratives. Generally speaking, they cannot replace ethical and philosophical argument about the traditional questions of jus ad bellum and jus in bello, and that is not their purpose. There are some clearly pacifist science fiction novels, such as Joan Slonczewsk’s A Door into Ocean (1987). Overall, however, it is not the job of novelists to teach ethical theories.

Consider The War in the Air again. If we knew nothing else about Wells, we’d see that he despises naïve ideas of war that make it seem like an adventure, and likewise he has no time for the idea of military glory. But we’d not be able to tell whether he is against these things from, say, a pacifist perspective, a just war perspective, or a perspective based on realism in international relations. All of these schools of thought emphasise the cost and tragedy of war.

Nor can a book like The War in the Air predict the detail of what it warns about. In 1908, Wells portrayed large-scale aerial bombardment, capturing much of its power and terror, but not exactly what it would be like in practice. The same applies to other works by Wells, such as The World Set Free (1914), which memorably describes atomic bombs, although real ones turned out to be rather different. A more recent novel, such as Ghost Fleet, by P.W. Singer and August Cole (2015), depicts what high-tech non-nuclear warfare between great powers – including cyberwarfare, advanced stealth technology, and operations in space – might be like, but the reality would probably look rather different if such a war actually happened.

(13) BREAKTHROUGH. In the Washington City Paper, Kayla Randall profiles Elizabeth Montague, who at 23 is probably the first African-American woman to sell a cartoon to The New Yorker: “How Local Cartoonist Elizabeth Montague Creates Accessible, Reflective Art”.

Every morning, after waking up at 6:30 a.m., Elizabeth Montague creates a cartoon. They’re rough pencil drawings which take less than five minutes to complete at her Kalorama apartment work desk—little meditations that help keep her skills sharp and open up her day. 

For her day job, digital storyteller and design associate for the Aga Khan Foundation, she visually depicts various global issues, focusing on underrepresented narratives. Recently she visited Tajikistan for work, seeing firsthand how a community adapts to climate change.

But her own work is more personal. Aside from early morning sketches, she creates fully formed cartoons for her “Liz at Large” series, which is available on her Instagram and website….

 (14) TIME’S UP. Countdown on YouTube is a trailer for a horror movie released next week about an app that allegedly can predict the exact time when a person will die. In theaters October 25.

In COUNTDOWN, when a young nurse (Elizabeth Lail) downloads an app that claims to predict exactly when a person is going to die, it tells her she only has three days to live. With time ticking away and death closing in, she must find a way to save her life before time runs out.

(15) IRON VET. [Item by Daniel Dern.] io9 invites you to “Watch the Trailer for Robert Downey, Jr.’s Next Big Role, Which for Some Reason Is Doolittle. Like the musical, this movie is based on the original book(s) rather than simply moving the gimmick (“talk with the animals”) to contemporary times, like other DL books over the past decade or 3.

Live action (though no doubt lots of the critters aren’t). Lots of other big names. And looks like it’s being done largely as an “action flick.”

(Would I have preferred Hugh Jackson in the title role? I guess that depends on whether there’s any singing…)

(16) OLD GOLD. At Black Gate, Steven H Silver avails himself of Fanac.org’s online fanzine library to find the subject for his latest column:  “Golden Age of Science Fiction: Scientifriction #11, edited by Mike Glyer” (a 1979 issue.)

…Glyer also published his own article on the game Hell is High, which he would later rework for the second issue of my own fanzine, Argentus, published 23 years later. Glyer’s description of the game mechanics, camaraderie, and rivalry make the evenings spent playing Hell Is High sound like a wonderful place and time to have been able to experience….

(17) WILD ABOUT HARRY. Alexandra Pecci in the Washington Post has a travel piece comparing “The Wizarding World of Harry Potter” at Universal Orlando with The Warner Bros. Studio Experience in London which includes tours of Harry Potter sets.  She finds that the Wizarding World has really cool things (when you buy a wand there and point it at objects, special things happen) but is really expensive particularly if you buy a pass for the two Harry Potter worlds at two Universal theme parks.  She thinks the London experience is a much better value — “Whether in Orlando or London, Harry Potter tourist attractions cast a magical spell”

…“Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone,” the first installment in J.K. Rowling’s seven-book juggernaut, might be more than two decades old, but in many ways, the world of Harry Potter fandom seems more fevered than ever before.

One word helps explain why: immersion.

Fans (which, remember, is short for fanatic) want to do more than passively watch movies or read books. Instead, Potterheads long to taste Bertie Bott’s Every Flavour Beans, ride a broomstick, cast magic spells and get sorted into their Hogwarts house (I’m a Hufflepuff; Chloe is a Gryffindor).

(18) RECENTLY ON JEOPARDY! Andrew Porter witnessed this misplay not long ago —

The category: 20th Century Novels.

Answer: Nadsat, the fictional language in this book, is from the Russian suffix that means “teen.”

Wrong question: “What is 1984?”

Correct question: What is “A Clockwork Orange?”

(19) REALITY IS WORSE. Chris Yogerst argues “Why We Shouldn’t Fear Joker at the LA Review of Books blog.

At an early age most of us are taught not to judge a book by its cover. That’s exactly what happened this summer, when the Universal/Blumhouse release of The Hunt was shut down following political pushback. The film is based on an updated version of The Most Dangerous Game that gave some, including President Trump, discomfort with its political implications without having watched the movie. It has become far too common for people to jump to conclusions based on a film’s synopsis or advertising. The most recent controversy follows Joker, a film based in the Gotham City universe, that has led some to feel the story will inspire real-world killers. The problem, of course, is that a film about an unhinged murderer isn’t any more likely to provoke imposters than the news coverage of the same events in real life.

[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, JJ, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, Jeff Jones, John King Tarpinian, Chip Hitchcock, Errolwi, Michael Toman, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Kurt Busiek, with an assist from Anna Nimmhaus.]

Pixel Scroll 9/2/19 File Me A Scroll, You’re The Pixel Man

(1) ASTOUNDING AWARD. CoNZealand will use the new name immediately. (At least one very well-known business meeting regular has been trying behind the scenes to convince other conrunners they don’t have the authority to make the change, and failed.)

And now the change has been covered by the New York Times. “John W. Campbell Award Is Renamed After Winner Criticizes Him”

Ng, who wrote the fantasy novel “Under the Pendulum Sun,” said in an interview on Wednesday that she was delighted by the decision. “It’s a good move away from honoring a completely obnoxious man who kept a lot of people out of the genre, who kept a lot of people from writing, who shaped the genre to his own image.” Thanks to the change, she added, “we’re now celebrating a little more neutrally a piece of history that’s not attached to his name.”

(2) CONGRATULATIONS! Andrew Liptak’s book column has a new home: Polygon“13 New science fiction and fantasy books to check out this September”. The September 3rd entry is —

To Be Taught, If Fortunate by Becky Chambers

Becky Chambers just earned a Hugo Award for her blisteringly optimistic Wayfarers trilogy, and coming off that win, she’s shifting gears with a new, standalone novella, To Be Taught, If Fortunate. In the 22nd century, scientists make a big breakthrough that will help astronauts adapt to the harsh realities of space, opening up distant destinations in the cosmos to human explorers.

One team of astronauts ventures out to a solar system 15 light years away, and as they transform and adapt to their new home, so too is Earth. Publishers Weekly gave the book a starred review, saying that “Chambers packs an immense amount of story into a novella worthy of full-length praise.”

(3) WORLDCON TAKEAWAYS. Eric Wong and Greg Hullender cover their Ireland tour and Dublin 2019 in “Dublin 2019 Recap “. Says Greg, “Yeah, it had a few issues, but we had fun.”

New Fanzines

Greg was on the “Fanzines Now!” panel, and that was the only panel we participated in this year. This panel was a discussion about the state of fanzines today. We had a good mix of people doing online fanzines (Rocket Stack Rank, Journey Planet, and Nerds of a Feather Flock Together) as well as Joe Siclari, who runs the Fanac History Project.

As usual for fanzine panels, the audience included lots of people involved with the traditional paper-based fanzines. Somewhat to our surprise, they were broadly supportive of modern online efforts. Joe remarked at one point that he had thought he’d be the conservative one on the panel, but he found himself standing up for the idea that “a blog is a fanzine, even if it only has one contributor, and even if no one ever comments on it.”

(4) CLASSIC EDITIONS. Steven H Silver profiles a small press publisher at Black Gate: “The Golden Age of Science Fiction: Donald M. Grant”.

In 1979, the year before he was awarded the World Fantasy Professional Award, DMG published Acts of Providence, The Road of Azrael, Lack Colossus, The Black Wolf, Tales of the Werewolf Clan, Jewels of Gwahlur, Lovecraft’s Providence and Adjacent Parts, Mayhem on Bear Creek, and Hawks of Outremer.

The year after Grant won the award, Stephen King approached him with the rights to publish the first edition of any and all books in the Dark Tower series. King didn’t believe they would have a wide appeal among his general audience.

(5) TIPTREE DISCUSSION. Geoff Ryman’s thoughts about the call to rename the award (which the Motherboard today declined to do) is here on Facebook and attracted comments from writers including David Gerrold, Nisi Shawl and Eileen Gunn.

(6) MONGOLIAN HANDMAID. Ferret Bueller checks in from a Mongolian bookstore once again. (Eat your heart out Locus!)

I don’t think I’ve had free time to visit File770 more than three times the past several months, but I saw the newest Mongolian SFF translation at the bookstore near my office today and immediately thought I’d pass on a picture if anyone was interested?. First is the full view and then the picture cropped to give a good look at the book at the top left, Margaret Atwood’s Handmaid’s Tale (the translation of the title is exact). It’s next to Michelle Obama’s Becoming and Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s Love in a Time of Cholera (though that title is rendered in Mongolian as Love in a Time of Plague), both of which were released about a month or two ago, maybe longer.

(7) DICKS OBIT. Perhaps the most prolific contributor to Doctor Who, Terence Dicks (1935-2019) died August 29. Working as a writer and also serving as the program’s script editor from 1968 to 1974, he was credited in 156 episodes of Doctor Who. He wrote several Doctor Who serials and scores of novelizations. His final short story Save Yourself will be published next month in BBC Books’ Doctor Who: The Target Storybook. He wrote for TV’s The Avengers, the soap opera Crossroads, and co-created and wrote for the series Moonbase 3. He also worked as a producer on Sunday Classics. He authored several children’s series, including about a cat call Magnificent Max and, his longest running, another about a golden retriever The Adventures of Goliath. He received the 2015 Scribe Grandmaster career award for tie-in works.

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born September 2, 1899 Martin Miller. He’s in Doctor Who with the First Doctor as Kublai Khan in “Mighty Kublai Khan” and “Assassin at Peking”. He’s Professor Spencer in The Avengers in “The Master Minds” and he shows up in The Prisoner as Number Fifty Four in “It’s Your Funeral”.  He also showed up as Dutrov in Department S in the series finale, “The Perfect Operation”. (Died 1969)
  • Born September 2, 1909 David Stern III. Creator of the Francis the Talking Mule character that became the star of seven popular Universal-International film comedies. Stern adapting his own script for the first entry, simply titled Francis. (Died 2003.)
  • Born September 2, 1911 Eileen  Way. She appeared on Doctor Who in An Unearthly Child, a First Doctor story, as Old Mother Karela  the series first on-screen death,  and in The Creature from the Pit, a Fourth Doctor story, as Karela. She would appear yet again in the 1966 Peter Cushing film Daleks’ Invasion Earth 2150 A.D. (as Old Woman), based on the serial The Dalek Invasion of Earth. (Died 1994.)
  • Born September 2, 1936 Gwyn Thomas. Welsh poet and academic who translated Tales from the Mabinogion with Kevin Crossley-Holland. “Chwedl Taliesin”, “The Tale of Taliesin” was a short story by them as well. By the way my SJW credit is named Taliesin. And he tells a lots of tales. (Died 2016.)
  • Born September 2, 1964 Keanu Reeves, 55. Ok Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure is a lot better film than its sequel. And I find the Matrix franchiseto be a pretentious mess that almost works. And let’s not talk about Johnny Mnemonic which bore little resemblance to the brilliant Gibson story.
  • Born September 2, 1966 Salma Hayek, 53. Her performance as Santanico Pandemonium in From Dusk till Dawn is quite excellent. I can’t say the same for her performance as Rita Escobar in Wild Wild Wild West which got her nominated for a Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Supporting Actress.  I do like her as Francesca Giggles in Spy Kids 3-D: Game Over
  • Born September 2, 1968 Kristen Cloke, 51. Captain Shane Vansen in the unfortunately short-lived Space: Above and Beyond, a damn fine series. She has one-offs in Quantum LeapThe X-FilesMillennium and The  Others. She co-wrote with Shannon Hamblin an episode of The X-Files, “Rm9sbG93ZXJz” which is base64 code for “Followers”. 

(9) COMICS SECTION.

(10) NO JOKE. The BBC’s Nicholas Barber reports on Joker from the Venice Film Festival.

Joaquin Phoenix stars as Batman’s arch-nemesis in a new origin-story movie. But is this dark, dingy drama any better than any of the other supervillain films?

Now that Hollywood studios are running out of superheroes to make films about, they’re turning to supervillains instead, starting with Suicide Squad and Venom, and moving onto Batman’s smiley-faced arch enemy, the Joker. Todd Phillips’ revisionist origin story is different from those other entries in the bad-guy sub-genre, though. Devoid of fist fights and bank robberies, Batcaves and Batmobiles, Joker is a dark, dingy drama about urban decay, alienation, and anti-capitalist protests, with a distinctive retro vision and a riveting central performance by Joaquin Phoenix. Whether these differences make it much better than other supervillain movies, however, is open to question.

The film doesn’t specify when it is set, but its Gotham City is modelled on the graffiti-sprayed, litter-strewn pre-gentrification New York of Taxi Driver and Midnight Cowboy. This is the home of Arthur Fleck, played by Phoenix as a greasy, disturbingly emaciated figure with ribs and vertebrae poking out at all angles. No male actor has been this skinny since Christian Bale – yes, Batman himself – starved himself to stick-insect proportions for The Machinist.

…The film traces his gradual uncovering of family secrets, and his slow descent into homicidal mania – and I do mean slow. Joker doesn’t have much of a plot, let alone any subplots, so there are only a couple of major sequences that haven’t already been in the trailers. Phoenix is a magnificent presence – always believable, how outrageous he becomes – and I was quite happy to sit and watch him skipping around in his outsized shoes and striking balletic poses on beautifully grimy staircases. But, however unusual its grungy 70s styling may be, Joker is ultimately nothing but a flimsy, two-hour supervillain origin movie, so the viewer is just waiting for Arthur to become the fully-fledged Clown Prince of Crime. If it had been chopped down to an hour and then intercut with a Batman plot, what a film that might have been.

(11) OTHER ASSESSMENTS. BBC does a roundup — “Joker film: ‘daring’ yet ‘pernicious’ origin story divides critics”.

A new film exploring the origins of DC comic book villain The Joker has left many critics grinning from ear to ear – but not all of them are amused.

The Guardian called Joker “gloriously daring”, while Total Film said it was “challenging [and] subversive”.

Joaquin Phoenix’s lead performance has been variously described as “fearsome”, “astonishing” and “mesmerising”.

According to another reviewer, though, the film is guilty of “aggressive and possibly irresponsible idiocy”.

Director Todd Phillips, writes Time magazine’s Stephanie Zacharek, “may want us to think he’s giving us a movie all about the emptiness of our culture”.

“But really,” she continues, “he’s just offering a prime example of it”.

(12) TIME PASSAGES. Campbell told a friend how he became editor of Astounding in 1937 in a letter that has been preserved. First Fandom Experience recently posted a scan of the letter with detailed commentary: “A Remarkable Letter — John W. Campbell’s 1937 Job Search”.

In May 1937, John W. Campbell, Jr. was looking for work. He was in good company — the unemployment rate in the United States was fluctuating around 15%, reflecting the lingering economic malaise of the Great Depression. Despite his degree in Physics and some success as a writer of science fiction stories, Campbell hadn’t found a steady gig.

This was to change in the Fall of that year when Campbell was hired as the Editor of Astounding Stories, where he reigned until his death in 1971….

The bottom of this page begins a critical passage that relates Campbell’s relationship with Mort Weisinger, a former editor of Science Fiction Digest / Fantasy Manazine, the most prominent fanzine of the mid-1930s. At the time of this letter, Weisinger had crossed into the professional ranks as Editor of Thrilling Wonder Stories.

This page essentially says that Weisinger taught Campbell how to be an editor, and wrote a letter of recommendation for him in that vein. It seems likely that both the advice and the reference played key roles in Campbell acquiring his job at Astounding. This is a tremendous testament to the role that prominent fans played in establishing science fiction as an industry during this period.

(13) ETERNAL LIFE. Gizmodo invites experts to address the question, “What’s My Best Chance of Living Forever?

               What do hideous mall t-shirts, emo bands from the mid-aughts, and gorgeously-wrought realist novels about dissolving marriages have in common? Simply this assertion: Life Sucks. And it does suck, undoubtedly, even for the happiest and/or richest among us, not one of whom is immune from heartbreak, hemorrhoids, or getting mercilessly ridiculed online.

               Still, at certain points in life’s parade of humiliation and physical decay almost all of us feel a longing—sometimes fleeting, sometimes sustained—for it to never actually end. The live-forever impulse is, we know, driving all manner of frantic, crackpot-ish behavior in the fringier corners of the tech-world; but will the nerds really pull through for us on this one? What are our actual chances, at this moment in time, of living forever? For this week’s Giz Asks, we spoke with a number of experts to find out.

Answers are essayed by Alice Parker (“Dean’s Professor, Electrical and Computer Engineering, University of Southern California, whose research focuses on reverse-engineering the human brain, among other things”), Lindsay Wu (“Senior Research Fellow and Co-Head of the Laboratory for Ageing Research at the University of New South Wales, Sydney”), David Sinclair (“Professor of Genetics and co-Director of the Paul F. Glenn Center for the Biology of Aging at Harvard Medical School, whose research focuses on why we age and how to slow its effects”), and Mark McCormick (“Assistant Professor, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center”).

(14) LOTS OF FACTS. Snopes.com has run an AP service news story profiling the “Strange Twists” in the Ed Kramer story. Snopes?“Possibly worth linking in Pixel Scroll is Snopes.com survey of the “Strange Twists” in the Ed Kramer story:”.

In the nearly two decades since a co-founder of Dragon Con was accused of molesting teenage boys, a strange legal odyssey has unfolded, including a proposed move to Israel, a trial delay because of a presidential election and an extradition by air ambulance.

Now, Ed Kramer faces new charges that could send him to prison for the rest of his life.

(15) B.O. The movie is only 13th on the domestic record chart but is now #7 worldwideL “The Lion King Topples Marvel’s The Avengers on All-Time Box Office Chart”.

As one Disney movie continues succeeding at the box office, another falls another spot down on the all-time charts. Thanks to another steady weekend at the box office, The Lion King hyper-realistic reimagining has passed Joss Whedon’s fan-favorite The Avengers on the worldwide all-time box office chart. The Lion King is now seventh on the chart with $1.56 billion while the Marvel Studios hit drops to eighth with $1.52b.

It appears that’s the highest Jon Favreau’s remake will go on the worldwide charts as Jurassic World is sixth with a hefty $1.67b.

(16) THAT’S A WRAP. BBC is there when “‘Mission Jurassic’ fossil dinosaur dig closes for winter”.

Three full truck loads of dinosaur fossils were shipped out of the “Mission Jurassic” dig site in North Wyoming as scientists brought the 80-day excavation season to an end.

The specimens included skeletal parts from giant herbivorous sauropods and meat-eating theropods.

The fossils will now be cleaned to see precisely which species they represent.

Mission Jurassic is a major undertaking involving researchers from the US, the UK and the Netherlands.

It is led by The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis (TCMI) which has taken out a 20-year lease on a square mile (260 hectares) of ranch land.

The BBC was given special access to the site in July.

The fossil beds exposed at the secret location in the Big Horn Basin record dinosaur activity around 150 million years ago – and the summer’s work confirms the site is particularly rich.

One three-tonne block of rock lifted on the final day last week was embedded with multiple remains all stacked one on top of the other.

“Overall we must have moved something like 500-600 bones; it’s just a huge amount of material we’ve been able to shift in one year,” said Prof Phil Manning, a University of Manchester palaeontologist and TCMI scientist in residence.

(17) IRON MAN BRANCHES OUT. Marvel killed off the character, but remember actors, there’s always good work at the post office. “British inventor flies letter to Isle of Wight”. [Video.]

A British inventor has taken up the challenge to deliver a letter across open water through donning a jet engine-powered suit, 85 years after the idea of rocket post failed.

Richard Browning has followed in the footsteps of German entrepreneur Gerhard Zucker, who tried to send mail by rocket to the Isle of Wight, in 1934.

The distance from Hurst Castle in Lymington to Fort Albert in Freshwater is 1.3 km, and is the furthest Richard has ever flown.

(18) MEANWHILE, IN THE REAL WORLD. BBC reminds everyone about “The ‘ghost work’ powering tech magic”. Chip Hitchcock notes, “It’s ironic that Amazon’s collaborative tool is named Mechanical Turk, considering the fraud behind the original.”

Armies of workers help power the technological wizardry that is reshaping our lives – but they are invisible and their jobs are precarious.

Next time you ask Alexa a question, your voice might fly halfway round the world to Chennai, India, where human workers toil away to fine tune her artificial intelligence- (AI-) powered responses.

In nine-hour shifts workers transcribe audio, classify words and phrases into categories, and evaluate responses from Amazon’s digital assistant. It’s one of many Amazon centres around the world where “data associates” prepare millions of chunks of data to train Alexa’s AI.

The work can be relentless, says a former employee. He was crunching roughly 700 Alexa questions a day with strict benchmarks for how long each should take. Workers’ performance figures were circulated daily and targets crept up over the time he spent there. The work was monotonous, but the volume and pace were mentally exhausting, and he eventually quit.

“It’s not possible to work like a machine every day,” he says. “The system is built in such a way that every time you have to give 100%. From the point of a human, it’s not possible.”

To users, digital assistants, search engines, social media and streaming services seem like software wizardry, but their smooth running relies on armies of humans whose contribution often goes unrecognised.

(19) WIKIPEDIA TODAY. When he saw the Wikipedia had selected “the Nebula Award for Best Short story” for on Today’s Featured Article, John King Tarpinian snapped his screen. So to speak.

(20) NEWS TO ME. Io9’s 2014 article tells you about “31 Essential Science Fiction Terms And Where They Came From”

There are so many words and phrases that we use in science fiction—and even science—without giving it much thought. But where did we get terms like “death ray,” “terraforming,” “hive mind,” “telepathy,” and “parallel universe”?

…Key sources for this post include Jeff Prucher’s wonderful Brave New Words: The Oxford Dictionary of Science Fiction

(21) VIDEO OF THE DAY. “The Egg” on YouTube is an animated adaptation of a short story by Andy Weir about the meaning of life

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Rich Horton, Mike Kennedy, JJ, Chip Hitchcock, Martin Morse Wooster, Darrah Chavey, Cat Eldridge, Hampus Eckerman, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Contrarius.]

Journey Planet Has a Moon

Journey Planet 46 marks the 50th anniversary of the Moon Landing. Editors, Chris Garcia and James Bacon welcomed Steven H Silver as guest editor on this special issue. Download the 144-page fanzine here.  

With contributions from Regina Kanyu Wang, Allen M. Steele, Gregory Benford, John Scalzi, Patty Wells and Jack Clemons, there is a wide variety of subjects covered -all connected with the Moon Landing.   

Articles include:

  • “Walter, Frank, Jules, My Grandfather and Me” by David M. Stein
  • “Apollo 11 and the Volvo” by Jack Clemons, Images courtesy Jack Clemons
  • “Moon Shots—Words and Pictures” by John Scalzi
  • “The Hasselblad and the Space Program” by Richard Man
  • “The First Time All Over Again” by Alma Alexander
  • “Waiting for Someone From China… or Maybe California” by Allen M. Steele
  • “Apollo 11 Reminiscences” by Bryan A. Palaszewski
  • The Apollo Art of David Hardy
  • “Church and Space” by Nancy Jane Moore
  • “Coolock is Full of Spacers” by Pádraig Ó Méalóid
  • “Passing the Torch” by Brenda W. Clough  
  • “Knowing Buzz” by Gregory Benford

The issue includes art and cartoons by Ed Hengeveld, Kurt Erichsen, Tim Gagnon, and Teddy Harvia.   

Work on the fanzine began last year, and it is notable that co-editor James Bacon, after making much mention of his pleasure at meeting Nasa Astronauts, said “I will hope that Norah Patten, Ireland’s astronaut scientist, achieves her dreams, and gains entry into the elusive and exclusive club of people who have travelled into space, and I wish that she gets to watch the silent stars go by” — perhaps he will say that in person at Dublin 2019. 

P.S. John Scalzi’s blog post “Taking Pictures of the Moon” tells what his contribution is about:

Whenever I take pictures of the moon, I get asked how I did it and what equipment I use. So I wrote a piece about that in the current issue of the fanzine Journey Planet

Pixel Scroll 3/30/19 ///Pixel.Scroll.Comment Is In The Middle Of Nowhere In Australia

(1) CATS SLEEP ON $FF. Cat Rambo issues a warning about “Writing Contests and Fees”, and rebuts several arguments she’s heard trying to justify them.

Here’s one of her answers:

Charging a fee means better submissions. Great reason for editors and magazines; meaningless to writers and in fact, means people that self-reject will be even more likely to do so. It also ensures economically disadvantaged people don’t get to participate. The price of a latte for one person may be the next person’s daily food budget.

(2) PROBLEMS FOR JUDGE WHO ENGAGED KRAMER’S COMPUTER SERVICES. More revelations about the judge, from the Gwinett Daily Post. Recent news proves that not only did the judge know about Kramer, but that she was in phone contact with him. She currently is being asked to recuse herself following making false statements and recording the DA during a meeting without his permission or knowledge. “Gwinnett DA files motion for Superior Court judge to recuse herself from all criminal cases”.

Just days after a court filing alleged that Gwinnett County Superior Court Judge Kathryn Schrader expressly gave a convicted sex offender access to the county’s computer network, Gwinnett County District Attorney Danny Porter is calling for her to recuse herself from all criminal cases.

…In Friday’s filing, which included an affidavit, Porter said he confronted the judge about her computer being monitored, but “at no time during this meeting did Judge Schrader disclose that she had any direct knowledge of this monitoring, or that she had hired Ward, Karic and Kramer to do so.”

The judge also recorded the meeting “through a video on her phone without (Porter’s) knowledge or consent,” Porter wrote in the affidavit.

On March 15, when the GBI interviewed Schrader, she accused Porter of hacking her computer, Porter’s affidavit said.

“Because Judge Schrader has alleged that I committed a criminal offense against her, I have grounds to reasonably question her impartiality in any criminal case that my office handles before her,” Porter’s affidavit said. “This is further supported by the fact that Judge Schrader has surreptitiously recorded our private conversations without my knowledge or consent, while feigning ignorance of the very individuals she had employed and allowed to access the entire Gwinnett County Computer network.”

(3) AGED, BUT NOT GOLDEN. Is reviewer Christopher Priest so eager to lash out at a writer who died 30 years ago, or was this an irresistible opportunity to downcheck a favorite of some of his living American colleagues? He reviews Farah Mendlesohn’s The Pleasant Profession of Robert A. Heinlein for The Spectator: “Robert A. Heinlein: the ‘giant of SF’ was sexist, racist — and certainly no stylist”.  

…Mendlesohn describes how Heinlein, who when younger had made a well-earned name for himself as an author of serious and innovative speculative fiction, became a rotten writer in the second half of his career. He always told stories well, but his style was execrable. From Starship Troopers (1959) onwards, his books had an endlessly hectoring, lecturing tone, almost always phrased in long and unconvincing conversations full of paternalistic advice, sexual remarks, libertarian dogma and folksy slang. Reading one of his later novels produced the weird effect of meaningless receptivity: you could get through 20 pages at a gallop, but at the end you couldn’t remember anything that had been said, by whom or for what reason. The next 20 pages would be the same (but seemed longer).

… At the end of the war he began a series of juvenile novels, aimed unerringly at young readers but told in the same didactic voice. These novels, not published in the UK until years later when Heinlein was famous, had a profound effect on their American readers. There is still today a generation of middle- aged and elderly American science fiction writers for whom Heinlein is in a position of seminal influence, similar to Hemingway in other literary circles. Heinlein’s influence on modern American science fiction is not universal, but still detectable….

(4) SWATTER GETS 20 YEARS. On December 28, 2017 Andrew “Andy” Finch was killed when police officers in Wichita, Kansas responded to a 911 call about a hostage/murder situation. Tyler Barriss, who made the call, has now been convicted and sentenced: “20 years for man behind hoax call that led to fatal shooting”.

A California man was sentenced Friday to 20 years in prison for making bogus emergency calls to authorities across the U.S., including one that led police to fatally shoot a Kansas man following a dispute between two online players over a $1.50 bet in the Call of Duty: WWII video game.

U.S. District Judge Eric Melgren sentenced Tyler R. Barriss, 26, under a deal in which he pleaded guilty in November to a total of 51 federal charges related to fake calls and threats. The plea agreement called for a sentence of at least 20 years — well over the 10 years recommended under sentencing guidelines. Prosecutors believe it is the longest prison sentence ever imposed for the practice of “swatting,” a form of retaliation in which someone reports a false emergency to get authorities, particularly a SWAT team, to descend on an address.

(5) LIKE A JAWA MARRIOTT. Take one look at the picture and you can have no doubts: “The upside down hotel said to have inspired Star Wars faces demolition”.

Much of the shooting for the original Star Wars movies took place in Tunisia, and legend has it that one local landmark made a powerful impression on its creator, George Lucas.

The influence of Hotel du Lac in Tunis, shaped like an upside-down pyramid with serrated edges, would later be seen in the fictional Sandcrawler vehicle used by the Jawas of the Tatooine desert planet in the film.

(6) WOMEN AT THE FOREFRONT. The Bustle lists “12 Female-Driven Sci-Fi & Fantasy Novels That You Definitely Don’t Want To Miss”. One of them is —

‘The Priory of the Orange Tree’ by Samantha Shannon

A millennium ago, a powerful, evil dragon, known only as the Nameless One, was locked away in the Abyss. The people of three nations want to keep the dragon sealed away, but fear that his return is imminent. In Samantha Shannon’s sweeping new fantasy novel, three women, one from each nation, must join forces if they want to keep their world safe.

(7) ADVANCED DEGREES. As Women’s History Month winds up, Yahoo! Entertainment explores the “Six Degrees of Peggy Carter: Why the S.H.I.E.L.D. Founder Is the Lynchpin of the Entire MCU”.

While there may not be direct links from Peggy to every single Avenger, her status as a founding member of S.H.I.E.L.D. links her intrinsically to the heroic group and their efforts to save the world from evil time and time again. So here is a very unofficial, fan-centric look at the impact Peggy Carter has had on the MCU, and the ways in which she helped bring Earth’s mightiest heroes together as a team. “All we can do is our best,” after all….

2. Iron Man

A “self-made man” in the same way that Kylie Jenner is a self-made billionaire, Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) likely spent his childhood years on the receiving end of some very disapproving glances from his father’s friend and close confidante. Howard’s working relationship with Peggy — sans fondue, of course — is established in The First Avenger, but their friendship is explored even further in Agent Carter’sstellar two-season run on ABC. The pair teamed up to save the world more than a few times, forging a bond so strong, it’s impossible to believe that Peggy wasn’t a part of young Tony’s life — and that she didn’t have an impact on the hero he grew up to be.

And besides that, if Howard had died in Agent Carter’s season one finale, as he came very close to doing, Tony would have gotten scrubbed from the timeline, Marty McFly-style. Thanks, Aunt Peggy.

(8) CLASSIC TREK CONTRIBUTOR At Den of Geek, “Star Trek’s D.C. Fontana Talks the Origin of Spock’s Family”.

… For fans of Star Trek: Discovery, specifically, Fontana’s script for the animated episode “Yesteryear,” has been the visual and thematic backbone of nearly all of Discovery Vulcan-centric flashbacks in the second season, which has informed this version of Spock’s character. And, for those who love Spock parent’s— Amanda Grayson and Sarek—Fontana is the person who straight-up invented them.

…In The Original Series, Amanda and Sarek only appeared in “Journey to Babel,” written by Fontana. But, because that episode also featured a huge diplomatic summit on the Enterprise, this also means she created several of the big classic Trek aliens, too, including the Andorians and the Tellarites, who have both made huge appearances in Discovery first two seasons.

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born March 30, 1904 Herbert van Thal. Editor of the Pan Book of Horror Stories series ran twenty four  volumes from 1959 to 1983. Back From the Dead: The Legacy of the Pan Book of Horror Stories is a look at the series and it contains Lest You Should Suffer Nightmares, the first biography of him written by Pan Book of Horror Stories expert Johnny Mains. (Died 1983.)
  • Born March 30, 1928 Chad Oliver. Writer of both Westerns and SF, a not uncommon occupation at that time. He considered himself an anthropological science fiction writer whose training as an academic informed his fiction, an early Le Guin if you will. Not a terribly prolific writer with just nine novels and two collections to his name over a forty year span. Mists of Dawn, his first novel, is a YA novel which I’d recommend as it reads similarly to Heinlein. (Died 1993.)
  • Born March 30, 1930 John Astin, 89. He is best known for playing as Gomez Addams in Addams Family, reprising it on the Halloween with the New Addams Family film and the Addams Family animated series. A memorable later role would be as Professor Wickwire in The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr., and I’d like single out his delightfully weird appearance on The Wild Wild West as Count Nikolai Sazanov in “The Night of the Tartar” episode. 
  • Born March 30, 1948 Jeanne Robinson. She co-wrote the Stardance Saga with her husband Spider Robinson. To my knowledge, her only other piece of writing was ‘Serendipity: Do, Some Thoughts About Collaborative Writing ‘ which was published in the MagiCon Program. (Died 2010.)
  • Born March 30, 1950 Robbie Coltrane, 69. I first saw him playing Dr. Eddie “Fitz” Fitzgerald on Cracker way back in the Ninties. Not genre, but an amazing role none-the-less. He was Valentin Dmitrovich Zhukovsky in GoldenEye and The World Is Not Enough, with a much less prominent role as a man at the airfield in Flash Gordon being his first genre role. Being Rubeus Hagrid in the Potter franchise was his longest running genre gig. He’s also voiced both Mr. Hyde in the Van Helsing film and Gregory, a mouse, in The Tale of Despereaux film.
  • Born March 30, 1958 Maurice LaMarche, 61. Voice actor primarily known for such roles as Pinky and The Brain (both of which Stross makes use of) with Pinky modelled off Orson Welles, the entire cast as near as I can tell of Futurama, the villain Sylar on Heroes, the voice of Orson Welles in Ed Wood, a less serious Pepé Le Pew in Space Jam, and, though maybe not genre, he’s voiced Kellogg’s Froot Loops spokesbird Toucan Sam and  the animated Willy Wonka character in Nestlé’s Willy Wonka Candy Company commercials. 
  • Born March 30, 1990 Cassie Scerbo, 20. She’s only here because in researching Birthdays for this date, one site listed her as being a member of the cast of Star Trek: Progeny, yet another of those video Trek fanfics. Though IMDB has a cast listed for it, that’s about all I could find on it. If I was betting a cask of Romulan ale, I’d wager this was one of the productions that Paramount got shut down three years back. 

(10) IN THE ZONE Some TV history leading up to the Jordan Peele reboot, in the New York Times: “‘The Twilight Zone’: Here’s Why We Still Care”.

Today we live in a world where the words “Twilight Zone” are used as an adjective whenever anyone wants to describe stories (or real-life events) that are fearless, insightful, ironic and just a little bit spooky. And that theme song was killer too.

(11) FLIGHTS OF FANTASY. NPR’s Etelka Lehoczky analyzes a new graphic novel: “In ‘She Could Fly,’ A Teen Wrestles With A Host Of Psychological Mysteries”.

“Would you rather be able to fly or turn invisible?” It’s the archetypal party question. It was already popular way back in 2001, when This American Life addressed it, and the years haven’t lessened its appeal. As recently as 2015, Forbes posed the question to 7,065 “business and professional leaders … across the globe” and Vulture brought it up with the stars of Ant-Man.

Fly, or turn invisible? The question’s popularity is probably due to its uncanny psychological subtext. The two powers don’t seem to conflict at first, but a closer look reveals that they represent opposing tendencies. To fly is to be triumphant, dominant, powerful. To be invisible is to recede, to hide.

Christopher Cantwell nods to this duality in She Could Fly, a graphic novel whose protagonist wishes she could fly and feels like she’s invisible…
Luna seems to be suffering from a particularly intense form of obsessive-compulsive disorder, but she hasn’t been diagnosed or received any treatment. Taking it for granted that there’s no help for her, she shuts out such well-meaning people as the aforementioned guidance counselor. Luna has only one source of hope, and it’s a doozy: A mysterious woman spotted flying, superhero-style, around the skies of Chicago.

(12) MODERN MILSF. Andrew Liptak intends this as a compliment, I wonder if Hurley takes it as one? In The Verge: “The Light Brigade is a worthy successor to Starship Troopers”.

The world Hurley presents in The Light Brigade is a feudalistic nightmare, and makes a sharp commentary on the growing influence and dangers of a world ruled by corporations. Corporations control all aspects of the lives of the citizens, from the information they have access to, to how they’re educated and where they live, their lives given up to supporting whatever unknowable corporate goals their overlords have planned. It’s a perverse twist on Heinlein’s arguments about serving to earn citizenship, which implied that one has to earn their freedom through service. In Hurley’s world, freedom is an illusion. It doesn’t matter what you do, you end up serving your host corporation.

(13) THEY’LL SCARE THE CHOCOLATE OUT OF YOU. If you thought this happened only in Monty Python, not so, says Open Culture: “Killer Rabbits in Medieval Manuscripts: Why So Many Drawings in the Margins Depict Bunnies Going Bad”.

In all the kingdom of nature, does any creature threaten us less than the gentle rabbit? Though the question may sound entirely rhetorical today, our medieval ancestors took it more seriously — especially if they could read illuminated manuscripts, and even more so if they drew in the margins of those manuscripts themselves. “Often, in medieval manuscripts’ marginalia we find odd images with all sorts of monsters, half man-beasts, monkeys, and more,” writes Sexy Codicology’s Marjolein de Vos. “Even in religious books the margins sometimes have drawings that simply are making fun of monks, nuns and bishops.” And then there are the killer bunnies.

Hunting scenes, de Vos adds, also commonly appear in medieval marginalia, and “this usually means that the bunny is the hunted; however, as we discovered, often the illuminators decided to change the roles around.”…

Numerous illustrations at the link.

(14) SURVIVAL AT STAKE. “Tasmanian devils ‘adapting to coexist with cancer'” – BBC has the story.

There’s fresh hope for the survival of endangered Tasmanian devils after large numbers were killed off by facial tumours.

The world’s largest carnivorous marsupials have been battling Devil Facial Tumour Disease (DFTD) for over 20 years.

But researchers have found the animals’ immune system to be modifying to combat the assault.

And according to an international team of scientists from Australia, UK, US and France, the future for the devils is now looking brighter.

“In the past, we were managing devil populations to avoid extinction. Now, we are progressively moving to an adaptive management strategy, enhancing those selective adaptations for the evolution of devil/DFTD coexistence,” explains Dr Rodrigo Hamede, from the University of Tasmania.

First discovered in north-eastern Tasmania in 1996, the disease has since spread across 95% of the species’ range, with local population losses of over 90%.

(15) CAMELIDS VISIT COMIC CON. Two events in the same facility find they are unexpectedly compatible.

(16) PLATE SPECIAL. AMC’s series based on the novel by Joe Hill premieres June 2. Here’s the NOS4A2 “A Fight For Their Souls” official trailer.

[Thanks to Nancy A. Collins, JJ, Mlex, Steven H Silver, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, Cat Eldridge, Chip Hitchcock, John King Tarpinian, Carl Slaughter, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Soon Lee.]

Barkley — So Glad You (Didn’t) Ask: A Column of Unsolicited Opinions #37

Bill Higgins (left) and Steven H Silver (right), photo by Chris M. Barkley at Capricon 39, 16 February 2019

Capricon 39: Information PLEASE!

By Chris M. Barkley: When I was attending Worldcon 76 at San Jose, Chicago area fan writer and editor Steven H Silver approached me with an unusual proposition: would I be interested in participating in a fantasy and sf version of an old radio show Information Please.

I had been a radio talk show host myself, which was called Bad Moon Rising and was broadcast on a public access radio station from the summer of 1976 through the spring of 1983. As an aficionado of old-time radio shows, I knew about Information Please but I had never heard an episode. But I knew about the basic premise and format and was sufficiently intrigued to agree.

According to its Wikipedia entry:

Information Please was an American radio quiz show, created by Dan Golenpaul, which aired on NBC from May 17, 1938 to April 22, 1951. The title was the contemporary phrase used to request from telephone operators what was then called “information” but is now called “directory assistance”.

The series was moderated by Clifton Fadiman. A panel of experts would attempt to answer questions submitted by listeners. For the first few shows, a listener was paid $2 for a question that was used, and $5 more if the experts could not answer it correctly. When the show got its first sponsor (Canada Dry), the total amounts were increased to $5 and $10 respectively. A complete Encyclopædia Britannica was later added to the prize for questions that stumped the panel. The amounts went up to $10 and $25 when Lucky Strike took over sponsorship of the program.”

Mr. Silver’s idea was to present this show in a panel format at sf conventions on a regular basis. Steve Davidson, the current publisher of Amazing Stories, agreed to be the sponsor these contests and eventually offer prizes of subscriptions to winners who submitted questions that stumped the panel.

Since it was not widely publicized, there was a lack of audience material to work with and as a result, Mr. Silver wrote all of the questions himself.

Besides myself, Steven also invited Rich Horton and Bill Higgins of General Technics to participate as future hosts or participants.

There was no room on the 2018 Windycon programming schedule so it was mutually agreed that the pilot episode of “F&SF Information Please” would be held this weekend at Capricon 39.

Mr. Silver was our host and seated to his right were myself, Mr. Higgins, Chicago fan David Hirsch and Capricon 39 Author Guest of Honor Seanan MCGuire.

Unlike Jeopardy! or other quiz shows, you can’t really study for it; the questions are so arcanely phrased that you have to rely on all of the inherent knowledge you possess plus and improvisational comedy skills you can muster. And believe me, had there been an audio recording of the panel, you would have gotten an earful of both.

Mr. Silver began with a series of common knowledge questions regarding Hugo Award winners, Harry Potter characters and fan related items of interest. (I am being deliberately vague here because the questions that were used may turn up at future conventions.)

The questions became harder and more perplexing as the panel progressed, much to the delight of the 40 plus members of the audience attending. In fact, several members of the audience knew some of the tougher entries involving Disney movies, fantasy characters from novels, spaceship names and sf convention history.

At one remarkable point in the proceedings, we were all treated to the splendid singing voices of Ms. McGuire and Mr. Higgins, who both sang filk songs from memory.

I must say that I modestly held my own during the proceedings with a few swift answers and some snappy repartee. And I also also admit I laughed so hard that afterwards I thought that I had stressed my vocal chords.

Alas, all of this has been mostly lost to history because I did not think of setting up my smartphone to record the panel.

I think that this particular game show would be a welcome addition to local and regional conventions and I am urging everyone reading this to participate if and when this may show up on a programming schedule.

I can say with some certainty that Information Please will be performed at Windycon 47 this coming November (where, coincidentally, I am the Fan Guest of Honor.) I am hopeful that other venues around the country will be announced as well.

If you would like to participate and have a chance to win a subscription to Amazing Stories, please send your questions to Steven H. Silver at: infopleasesf@gmail.com 

Let the flow of knowledge, and hilarity, ensue!

Pixel Scroll 1/14/19 Baby, It’s Cthulhu Outside

(1) MICHELLE YEOH TREK SPINOFF. The Hollywood Reporter brings us additional details on one of the several Star Trek spinoffs (the existence of which leaked as far back as November) in the works (“‘Star Trek’: Michelle Yeoh-Led ‘Discovery’ Spinoff Details Revealed”).

Riding the high of a Critics’ Choice Award win for best comedy, Michelle Yeoh has further reason to celebrate Monday.

CBS All Access has officially tapped Yeoh to captain a Star Trek series of her own: a black ops-themed spinoff of Discovery in which the actress will reprise her role and explore the next chapter in the life of Capt. Philippa Georgiou. The untitled drama will further explore Starfleet’s Section 31 division, a shadow organization within the Federation featured on Star Trek: Discovery.

[…] “Michelle has shattered ceilings, broken boundaries and astonished us with her grace and gravitas for decades. As a human, I adore her. As an actor, I revere her,” [producer Alex] Kurtzman said. “Erika [Lippoldt] and [Bo Yeon Kim] are remarkable, exciting writers who bring a fresh perspective to the world of Star Trek, and we’re all thrilled to explore the next wild chapter in the life of Captain Philippa Georgiou.”

(2) SMOKE GETS IN YOUR EYES. Kotaku covers the auto arsonist who struck at Anime Los Angeles this weekend: “Suspected Cosplay Stalker Destroys Seven Cars During Anime Con”.

A suspected arson attack, allegedly carried out by an “obsessed stalker”, has torched seven cars in the parking lot of a hotel where Anime Los Angeles attendees have been staying over the weekend.

The incident took place early on Sunday morning, just before 2am. The night manager of the Azure Hotel & Suites in Ontario, California told ABC News that surveillance footage “showed a man walk up to the main vehicle, pour two cans of gasoline all over it and then [flick] a match on it”.

That car belonged to cosplayer Julia Moreno Jenkins, who says her vehicle was “targeted and set on fire by an obsessed stalker”. Once it was in flames, the fire then spread to nearby cars. As a precaution, the hotel was evacuated….

(3) YOU DON’T SPIT INTO THE WIND. Maybe they won’t be suing Cory Doctorow after all — “Start-up Bird backs down in electric scooter legal row”.

A scooter firm has apologised after issuing a journalist with legal threats over a blogpost about its scooters.

Start-up Bird offers electric scooters in around 40 US cities, which are hired via an app.

Bird accused Cory Doctorow of copyright infringement for linking to a forum about a device which enables abandoned scooters, bought at auction, to be fitted with a new motherboard.

This means they can then be used without the Bird app.

Mr Doctorow’s blogpost, published on the website Boing Boing, was about the number of Bird scooters that are being abandoned or badly parked, then removed by local authorities and legitimately sold.

It described a $30 (£23) motherboard which replaces the scooters’ existing hardware but does not alter either the hardware or software installed by Bird.

A spokesperson told the BBC Bird’s legal team had “overstretched” in issuing a takedown request.

Doctorow posted Bird’s lawyer letter at the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

(4) FIFTIETH ANNIVERSARY. Neil Clarke unveiled Mack Sztaba’s cover and the table of contents for his The Eagle Has Landed collection, to be released in July.

On July 20, 1969, mankind made what had only years earlier seemed like an impossible leap forward: when Apollo 11 became the first manned mission to land on the moon, and Neil Armstrong the first person to step foot on the lunar surface.

The Eagle Has Landed collects the best stories written in the fifty years since mankind first stepped foot on the lunar surface, serving as a shining reminder that the moon is and always has been our most visible and constant example of all the infinite possibility of the wider universe.

Table of Contents

  • Introduction
  • Bagatelle by John Varley
  • The Eve of the Last Apollo by Carter Scholz
  • The Lunatics by Kim Stanley Robinson
  • Griffin’s Egg by Michael Swanwick
  • A Walk in the Sun by Geoffrey A. Landis
  • Waging Good by Robert Reed
  • How We Lost the Moon by Paul McAuley
  • People Came From Earth by Stephen Baxter
  • Ashes and Tombstones by Brian Stableford
  • Sunday Night Yams at Minnie and Earl’s by Adam Troy Castro
  • Stories for Men by John Kessel
  • The Clear Blue Seas of Luna by Gregory Benford
  • You Will Go to the Moon by William Preston
  • SeniorSource by Kristine Kathryn Rusch
  • The Economy of Vacuum by Sarah Thomas
  • The Cassandra Project by Jack McDevitt
  • Fly Me to the Moon by Marianne J. Dyson
  • Tyche and the Ants by Hannu Rajaniemi
  • The Moon Belongs to Everyone by Michael Alexander and K.C. Ball
  • The Fifth Dragon by Ian McDonald
  • Let Baser Things Devise by Berrien C. Henderson
  • The Moon is Not a Battlefield by Indrapramit Das
  • Every Hour of Light and Dark by Nancy Kress
  • In Event of Moon Disaster by Rich Larson

(5) FANHISTORY. Steven H Silver reminisces about “The Golden Age of Science Fiction: Lou Tabakow” at Black Gate, a long resume of the conventions he founded. I’d also like to mention what impressed me about Lou Tabakow. By the time I encountered him in the mid-1970s yes, he was a vaunted fanpolitician and Secret Master of Fandom, yet he was always interested in how to bring more people into fandom and share what was going on. That not as common a trait as you’d expect among fans.

(6) TODAY IN HISTORY.

  • January 14, 1959 Journey to the Center of the Earth premiered.
  • January 14, 2005 — The first probe to land on Saturn’s moon, Titan, signaled it survived its descent. The Huygens space probe was designed to last only minutes on Titan’s surface, but surpassed the expectations of mission managers. Huygens descended the atmosphere, contacted the surface, and transmitted for at least an hour and a half.

(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born January 14, 1921Kenneth Bulmer. Oh my god. I couldn’t possibly summarise him if I tried. Looking through his list of writing that I know that I have read some Astor New Writings in SF and I reasonably sure that those Antares novels sound awfully familiar. So what have y’all read of him? (Died 2005.)
  • Born January 14, 1949 Lawrence Kasdan, 70. Screenwriter, director and producer. He is best known as co-writer of The Empire Strikes Back, Raiders of the Lost Ark (one of my favorite films of all time), Return of the Jedi, Star Wars: The Force Awakens, and Solo: A Star Wars Story. He directed SF horror film  Dreamcatcher which was based on a novel by Stephen King and by a William Goldman screenplay. 
  • Born January 14, 1962Jemma Redgrave, 57. Her her first genre role was as Violette Charbonneau in the “A Time to Die” episode of Tales of the Unexpected which was also her first acting role. Later genre roles are scant but include a memorable turn as Kate Lethbridge-Stewart, daughter of Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart on Doctor Who. 
  • Born January 14, 1964 Mark Addy, 55. He got a long history in genre films showing up first as Mac MacArthur in Jack Frost  followed by by the lead in The Flintstones in Viva Rock Vegas (why did anyone make this?), Roland in A Knight’s Tale (now that’s a film), Friar Tuck In Ridley Scott’s Robin Hood (has anyone seen this?) and voicing Clyde the Horse in the just released Mary Poppins Returns. Television work includes Robert Baratheon on Game of Thornes, Paltraki on a episode on Doctor Who, “The Battle of Ranskoor Av Kolos”, and he was Hercules on a UK series called Atlantis. 
  • Born January 14, 1974Kevin Durand, 45. Jason Woodrue In the forthcoming live Swamp Thing series on the DC Universe service (that’s me jumping up and down!). Previous genre roles include as The Blob in X-Men Origins: Wolverine, Little John In Robin Hood, Mogadorian Commander In I am Number Four, Ricky in Real Steel, Emil Pangborn In The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones, Cesar Tan In Winter’s Tale
  • Born January 14, 1990Grant Gustin, 29. Actor, known as The Flash in the Arrowverse. I’ve got him as a boyfriend on an episode of A Haunting, one of those ghost hunter shows early in his career. Later on, well that’s it as Arrowverse has kept him rather busy.

(8) COMICS SECTION.

  • Yoda offers some seasonal advice at Half Full.

(9) IS HOMER IN THE MCU NOW? Thanos paid a visit to The Simpsons with predictable—yet unpredictable—results (Inverse: “Only One ‘Simpsons’ Character Survived Thanos on Sunday”). The Big Guy added a new “stone” to his gauntlet and used it to lay low most of the Simpson family in the introduction to the episode.

Thanos wants to wipe out half the known universe in the pursuit of perfect balance, but he has a (very toxic) soft spot. In a guest appearance on The Simpsons on Sunday, the villain of Avengers: Infinity War used the Infinity Stones to wipe away most of the Simpsons family, except for one.

In the “couch gag” for the Sunday premiere of Season 30, Episode 12 of The Simpsons, Jim Starlin’s Thanos occupies the Simpsons family couch and uses his Infinity Gauntlet to wipe out most the Simpsons family.

(10) A LIST TO THINK ABOUT. Nerds of a Feather’s contributors have assembled the “2019 Nerds of a Feather Hugo Awards Longlist, Part 1: Fiction Categories”. A nice set of cover galleries accompany the picks.

…The rules for inclusion were simple–just: (a) meet the eligibility criteria; and (b) be “award worthy” (i.e. good). Given the subjectivity of the latter, it should come as no surprise that the selections on our longlist reflect the spectrum of tastes, tendencies and predilections found among our group of writers. You’ll find selections ranging from the obscure and literary to the unabashedly popular and commercial, and from all corners and subdivisions of the genresphere.

That said, this is not nor intends to be a comprehensive survey of the field. Some books that are undoubtedly “award worthy,” for example, are absent for the simple reason that we haven’t read them yet. Thus we encourage you to think of this as a list of candidates to consider–alongside others…. 

(11) R.O.U.S. Ars Technica: “Rodents of Unusual Size—Meet the invasive, orange-toothed pests of coastal erosion”. A new nature documentary makes a callback to The Princess Bride—in its title, at least. Nutria. They’re not just for breakfast anymore.

…Back in the early 20th century long before environmental changes imminently threatened the state’s natural resources, Louisiana still needed more industry. So businessmen like EA McIlhenny (of the Tabasco family, yes) had an idea. Argentina has this abundance of these large, furry creatures called nutria, what if we acquired some?

The concept seemed solid: raise ‘em on a fur farm, skin ‘em for the pelts, and then export hats, jackets, and other fine furs to make a pretty penny. And for a long time, the scheme worked—even Sophia Loren once wore nutria, and the industry for Louisiana trappers peaked around $15 million in annual revenue. But as animal rights became more of a mainstream concept, the popularity of fur drastically decreased. Suddenly, folks in Southern Louisiana didn’t have the same motivation, and nutria quietly built out a larger population within their new habitat.

This, to put it lightly, had consequences. In the ’70s and ’80s when the fur game started drying up, Rodents of Unusual Size estimates 25 million invasive nutria occupied Southern Louisiana. Unfortunately, the rats tend to devastate their immediate environment, eating anything green in sight and uprooting plants in the process, which makes a plot of land more at risk to the natural forces of coastal erosion….

(12) SHORT FICTION REVIEWS. Charles Payseur catches up with “Quick Sips – Anathema #6”:

So I might have missed when this latest issue of Anathema dropped on the last day of the year. My apologies! I’m super glad I caught it, though, because it’s an amazing bunch of stories, featuring six different works that explore grief, loss, and a palpable powerlessness. The characters are dealing with things that cannot be changed (or that seem like they cannot be changed) and finding out what they can do about it. That sometimes means learning how to accept things and try to move on, though that’s complicated by grief, by pain, and by the fear of losing more. It’s an emotional and often devastating read, and I’ll get right to those reviews!

(13) OUT OF THE MAZE AND INTO THE BOX. “Rosa Salazar: From ‘Abbreviated’ ‘Bird Box’ Role to James Cameron’s ‘Alita'”The Hollywood Reporter has the story.

The apocalypse has been good to Rosa Salazar.

After dystopic turns in the Divergent and Maze Runner franchises, the 33-year-old actress was most recently seen in Bird Box, Netflix’s foray into the end times. While the movie has since reached hit status (more than 45 million views in its first week, according to the streamer), she was hesitant to sign on.

“I felt like I had been there and done that,” she explains. But Bird Box was an opportunity to work with some of her “idols,” like star Sandra Bullock, and Salazar ultimately joined after director Susanne Bier offered to add more of a backstory for her character, who was not in the original Josh Malerman novel.

(14) A STORY ABOUT RAY BRADBURY. Mr. Sci-Fi shares a story Ray Bradbury told him personally — about the time he met Laurel and Hardy. And Space Command is off to London to meet with Netflix!

(15) SPILL THE BEANS. Supermarket News says “Giant/Martin’s, Stop & Shop begin robot rollout”.

Ahold Delhaize USA plans to deploy robots to nearly 500 Giant Food Stores, Martin’s and Stop & Shop locations to help improve in-store efficiencies and safety.

The company’s Retail Business Services (RBS) arm said Monday that the rollout, slated to continue through the early part of 2019, comes after successful store pilots of the technology. The initiative stems from a partnership between RBS and retail automation and robotics provider Badger Technologies, a division of Jabil.

Named “Marty,” the robots are being used to flag hazards — such as liquid, powder and bulk food-item spills — and report when corrective action is needed. RBS said the robots help stores reduce the risk caused by such spills, freeing up store associates to spend more time serving customers.

(16) VIDEO OF THE DAY. In “If You Can” on Vimeo, Hanna Rybak animates an inspiring quote by WInston Churchill.

[Thanks to Mike Kennedy, Cora Buhlert, JJ, Cat Eldridge, David Doering, John King Tarpinian, Chip Hitchcock, Martin Morse Wooster, Michael J. Walsh, Carl Slaughter, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]