Pixel Scroll 5/17/21 I’m Going To Play Jenga With My Mount-To-Be-Read

(1) HOLMES BOOK BOUND FOR LUNA. Science fiction and fantasy author V.S. Holmes will be one of the authors whose debut novel is getting sent to the moon. The book, appropriately called Travelers, is the first book in Holmes’ archaeological sci-fi series and will be included on the Peregrine Moon Lander as part of the Writers on the Moon Time Capsule launching in the fall of 2021. (See the 125 writers and 8 stowaways on the Manifest.)

Holmes is an archaeologist by day and author by night, They also write with a disability and their works tend to have focus within the LGBTQ community. Despite the challenges, they have become an international bestseller as well as award winner. They also work as an advocate for disabled and queer representation in SFF worlds.

Travelers, first book in the Stars Edge series, tells this story:

No one fights dirtier than an archaeologist. Dr. Nel Bently has barely dug into Chile’s dry earth when her pristine site is vandalized. Her archaeologist’s dream of a ground-breaking project funded by a private patron turns into a nightmare: local activists Los Pobladores take issue with anyone brave–or stubborn–enough to set boots on their land. And foul-mouthed Nel is stubborn as they come. Despite the danger, Nel refuses to surrender her site to vandals. Easier said than done, however, with the greenest crew she’s ever trained, absurd radiocarbon dates, and angry militants who may actually have a point. When Los Pobledores land a blow that turns Nel’s world upside down, she realizes her mysterious benefactor is playing chess with their lives. Grief-stricken and angrier than ever, Nel is ready to fight dirty.

And the fourth novel in Holmes’ Stars Edge series — Heretics – was just released on May 8.

Hot-tempered Dr. Nel Bently is not cut out to save the world. After her last project ended in fire and death, Nel must put aside her distrust of just about everyone and embark on a lo-fi search for a deadly radio transmission.

Earth’s survivors are torn between the austere superpower of IDH and the high-tech grassroots Los Pobledores. At every turn more allies go missing and Nel questions where everyone’s true loyalties lie–and on which side Lin will fall when a line is finally drawn.

They need experts. They need firepower. But it looks like the only thing standing between Earth and devastation is Nel: archaeologist, asshole, and functioning alcoholic with anger issues.

(2) BLACK LITERATURE MATTERS. New York Society Library will host a livestreamed event “Black Literature Matters: 1960-Now” on Thursday, May 20 at 6:00 p.m. Eastern. Free and open to the public – register at the link.

In this original series of live online events, Black writers from the 1700s to the present are re-examined to inspire understanding of race in our country today.

Black Literature Matters celebrates Black writers in four extraordinary evenings. This final event of the series showcases brief excerpts from the work of writers from 1960 to the present including Maya Angelou, Toni Cade Bambara, Octavia Butler (shown here), Pearl Cleague, Ta-Nehisi Coates, Angela Davis, Ernest Gaines, Alex Haley, bell hooks, Audre Lorde, Haki Madhabuti, Terry McMillan, Toni Morrison, Lynn Nottage, Malcolm X, Sonia Sanchez, Gil Scott-Heron, Ntozake Shange, Danez Smith, Derek Walcott, Alice Walker, and August Wilson.

Head Librarian Carolyn Waters and Columbia University’s Dr. Farah Jasmine Griffin introduce the writers, their worlds, and their impact, with dramatic readings by actors Shontelle Thrash and Geoffrey D. Williams.

As New York City’s oldest cultural institution, we are honored to do our part to highlight the thousands of stories by African American writers contained within our building and acquired since the 1700s.

(3) PROFESSOR TIDHAR. Lavie Tidhar announced his new appointment as Visiting Professor and Writer in Residence at Richmond.

It’s official (here’s a short announcement) – I will be a Visiting Professor and Writer in Residence at Richmond, The American International University in London. I look forward to engaging with the university!

(For any Ted Lasso fans out there – yes, it’s that Richmond).

I taught Richmond’s undergraduate British Fantasy Fiction course several times in the past (a steep learning curve! And what led me to eventually write By Force Alone and The Hood) and have been involved in setting up the brand-new MA In Film: Science Fiction and Fantasy, which will run from this year. Depending on demand, I may also run a Creative Writing undergraduate course at some point.

(4) MULTIPLE FUTURES. April Yee’s review article for Salon, “In the latest wave of science fiction, authors of color take space to imagine multiple new societies”, looks at Brenda Peynado’s The Rock Eaters, E.C. Osondu’s Alien Worlds, and Izumi Suzuki’s Terminal Boredom.

Today writers are employing speculative fiction to pick apart the system built on racism – contemporary extractive capitalism – as well as the large-scale displacements resulting from imbalances in the safety and wealth of nations, or what we refer to as immigration. In lieu of epic series, many of these new releases come in the form of short story collections, which allow the imagination of a multiplicity of futures in order to reflect a multiplicity of readers. Three recent collections from writers with roots in Nigeria, Japan, and the Dominican Republic direct their slant lenses toward capitalism, patriarchy, and white supremacy….

(5) AT&T AND DISCOVERY MERGER PLANS. AT&T and Discovery Inc. have made it official, unveiling their plan to merge their media and entertainment assets in a deal that will bring together TV channels like CNN, TBS, TNT, HGTV, Food Network and Discovery Channel, the Warner Bros. film studio, and streaming services HBO Max and Discovery+. Details in The Hollywood Reporter: “WarnerMedia-Discovery Merger: AT&T and Discovery Detail Merger Terms”.

(6) A POWELL’S CONVERSATION. Powell’s Books presents Suyi Davies Okungbowa in conversation with S. A. Chakraborty on May 18 at 05:00 p.m. Pacific. Zoom webinar registration at the link.

From Suyi Davies Okungbowa, one of the most exciting new storytellers in epic fantasy, comes Son of the Storm (Orbit), a sweeping tale of violent conquest and forgotten magic set in a world inspired by the precolonial empires of West Africa. In the ancient city of Bassa, Danso is a clever scholar on the cusp of achieving greatness — only he doesn’t want it. Instead, he prefers to chase forbidden stories about what lies outside the city walls. The Bassai elite claim there is nothing of interest. The city’s immigrants are sworn to secrecy. But when Danso stumbles across a warrior wielding magic that shouldn’t exist, he’s put on a collision course with Bassa’s darkest secrets. Drawn into the city’s hidden history, he sets out on a journey beyond its borders. And the chaos left in the wake of his discovery threatens to destroy the empire. Okungbowa will be joined in conversation by S. A. Chakraborty, author of The Daevabad Trilogy.

(7) A LOOK AT LOKI. Disney + dropped this excerpt from Loki today: “’Introducing Agent Mobius’ Clip”.

(8) KAYE OBIT. Marvin Kaye (1938-2021), a mystery, fantasy, science fiction, and horror author and editor, died May 13. He was a World Fantasy Award winner and was a past editor of Weird Tales Magazine. His daughter, Terry Kaye, made this statement:

Well, there are really no words that I can put together at this moment in time, so this will be a relatively short post. More later as the memories come and the brain starts functioning again. It may be a while.

My dad, Marvin Kaye, passed away last night about 8:35 pm. He was in hospice care, calm and not suffering, and I will always be grateful that my vaccination date and subsequent cross-country slog got me to New York in time to see him, have him see me, and make a few final memories before his disease completely overtook him and his body shut down.

We will have a small ceremony for close/local friends this Sunday and then a larger, hybrid in-person and zoom memorial in the next several weeks. I will post more info about that as we know more.

I am beyond grateful for the love and support of my family and friends here in NYC, in LA, and everywhere in between. I’m not going to list all the names but you know. It’s like I am surrounded in a huge hug from all sides. I feel it all.

(8) MEMORY LANE.

1981 — In 1981 at Devention Two, The Empire Strikes Back which was released the previous year by Lucasfilm won the Hugo for Best Dramatic Presentation. Other nominated works were Lathe of Heaven, the Cosmos series, The Martian Chronicles and Flash Gordon.  It was directed by Irvin Kershner from the screenplay by Leigh Brackett and Lawrence Kasdan with story by being George Lucas. 

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]

  • Born May 17, 1918 – Darrell Richardson.  Baptist minister, authority on Frederick Faust (who wrote as “Max Brand”) and Edgar Burroughs, collector (30,000 books, 20,000 pulps).  Early member of Cincinnati Fantasy Group.  Co-founded Memphis SF Ass’n, who named their Darrell Award for Mid-South regional work after him.  Served as a director of the Nat’l Fantasy Fan Fed’n; compiled two 1947-1948 indexes, one of authors, one of publications. Member of First Fandom.  Lamont, Phoenix awards.  Big Heart (our highest service award).  (Died 2006) [JH]
  • Born May 17, 1919 – Ronald Cassill. Professor at Brown University.  Two exhibits of his artwork in Chicago; two stories reprinted in The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction.  O. Henry short-story prize, American Academy of Arts & Letters Award for Literature. Edited a Norton Anthology of Contemporary Fiction (2nd ed’n 1997), included Ursula LeGuin, Gabriel García Márquez, other SF. (Died 2002) [JH]
  • Born May 17, 1936 – Lars Gustafsson, Ph.D.  Ahrvid Engholm thinks LG’s novel Bernard Foy’s Third Castling is SF, and AE is often right.  I haven’t found The Strange Animal From the Northin English; half a dozen others, as many books of poetry, are, though not SF.  Prix Int’l Charles Veillon des Essais, Gerard-Bonnier Prize, Goethe Medal, Thomas Mann Prize, Nonino Prize, Zbigniew Herbert Award.  See here.  (Died 2016) [JH]
  • Born May 17, 1936 Dennis Hopper. I think his genre film would be Tarzan and Jane Regained… Sort of, an Andy Warhol film. Queen of Blood, a vampire thinly disguised as SF film, was his next genre film. My Science Project was his next outing before he took part in The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2. And now we get to the Super Mario Bros. where he played King Koopa. What a weird film that was! Of he followed that by being Deacon on Waterworld… And then doing Space Truckers. Ouch. He’s El Niño in The Crow: Wicked Prayer, a film I barely remember. His final role was voicing one of the animated wolves in Alpha and Omega. He was also in Blue Velvet but I’ll be damned if I can figure out how to call that genre. (Died 2010.) (CE) 
  • Born May 17, 1946 F. Paul Wilson, 75. I’ve read, let me check, oh, about half I see of the Repairman Jack novels. Anyone finished them off and should I do so? What else by him is worth my time? (CE) 
  • Born May 17, 1948 – Amanda Cockrell, age 73.  Professor at Hollins University.  Nine novels for us, about deer dancers, goddesses, horse catchers.  What We Keep Is Not Always What Will Stay named one of the best children’s books of 2011 by The Boston Globe.  [JH]
  • Born May 17, 1950 Mark Leeper, 71. As Mark says on his site, “In and out of science fiction circles Mark and Evelyn Leeper are one of the best known writing couples on the Internet. Mark became an avid science fiction fan at age six with TV’s “Commando Cody.” Both went to the University of Massachusetts in 1968.” And as OGH says here, their MT VOID fanzine is one of the longest published ones still going. (CE) 
  • Born May 17, 1954 Bryce Zabel, 67. A producer, director and writer. Genre wise, he’s been involved as a producer or director with M.A.N.T.I.S.Dark SkiesBlackbeardLois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman and The Crow: Stairway to Heaven. Writing wise, he written for most of these shows plus the Mortal Kombat: Annihilation and Atlantis: The Lost Empire screenplays. (CE) 
  • Born May 17, 1954 Colin Greenland, 67. His partner is the Susanna Clarke, with whom he has lived since 1996. The Entropy Exhibition: Michael Moorcock and the British ‘New Wave’ in Science Fiction study is based on his PhD thesis. His most successful fictional work is the Plenty series that starts with Take Back Plenty and continues with Seasons of PlentyThe Plenty Principle and wraps up with Mother of Plenty. In the Eighties and Ninties, he was involved in the editorial work of Foundation: The Review of Science Fiction and Interzone. (CE)
  • Born May 17, 1958 – Dave Sim, age 63.  Perpetrator of Cerebus the Aardvark.  Three short stories, one cover, twenty interiors.  Harvey Award.  Canadian Comic Book Creator Hall of Fame.  [JH]
  • Born May 17, 1974 – Grace Lin, age 47.  Five novels for us, many others, aimed at children, which often happens with fantasy.  GL has helpfully been including Chinese matter – or energy – hmm – in English-language writing.  Graphics are easier – maybe – and you’ll see some at her Website; as it happens she is also a graphic artist.  She’s managed to make her signature block look like Chinese seal-writing; of course there are clouds and a dragon.  [JH]

(10) JEOPARDY! On tonight’s Jeopardy!, Andrew Porter saw a contestant have problems with this one:

Category: Essays

Answer: An essay that she wrote about marine life called “World of Waters” was published in 1937 as “Undersea.”

Wrong question: Who is Ursula Le Guin?

Correct question: Who is Rachel Carson?

(11) CHECK IT OUT. “First Look: DC’s Newest Library Is a Stunner” says Washingtonian.

The DC Public Library system has garnered a reputation for creating functional public buildings that are also beautiful spaces. The Southwest Library will join DCPL’s collection of recently revamped facilities, reopening on Saturday, May 15, with an $18 million building.

…Planked ceilings pay homage to the wooden canopy at nearby theater Arena Stage. A massive photo spanning the library’s two floors depicts the Potomac River in 1885, and it’s functional, too: Made of perforated metal with felt backing, the artwork helps absorb sound in the open space.

(12) TRYING TO IDENTIFY. CBS News’ Sunday Morning show did a segment on “UFO studies and the possibility of alien origin”; video at the link.

We’ve always been fascinated by aliens, and that’s putting it mildly. And mathematically speaking, aliens should exist.

“There are two trillion other galaxies we can see, each with a 100 billion Earth-like worlds,” said Seth Shostak , the senior astronomer at the SETI Institute. [SETI stands for the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence.] “100 billion, OK? It’s hard to believe they’re all sterile.”

Correspondent David Pogue asked, “I happen to know that this is sort of a trick question when people say, ‘Do UFOs exist?'”

“Well, I mean, obviously UFOs exist, ’cause that just means unidentified flying objects,” Shostak said. “But the real issue here is not that you see things in the sky, it’s what you claim they might be.”

Author and investigative journalist Leslie Kean said, “You just can’t assume if you see something in the sky that looks a little weird that it’s some kind of alien thing, which is what a lot of people assume. Most sightings that people have – Oh, I see something in the sky! – those kinds of sightings can usually be explained: The planet Venus, airplanes, comets, shooting stars, birds. Let’s say five to ten percent are the cases that any conventional explanation can be ruled out; those are the cases that are of interest.”

In 2017, Kean coauthored a New York Times story that revealed the existence of, believe it or not, a secret Pentagon program devoted to studying UFO sightings….

60 Minutes also did its own UFO segment: “UFOs regularly spotted in restricted U.S. airspace, report on the phenomena due next month”.

We have tackled many strange stories on 60 Minutes, but perhaps none like this. It’s the story of the U.S. government’s grudging acknowledgment of unidentified aerial phenomena— UAP—more commonly known as UFOs. After decades of public denial the Pentagon now admits there’s something out there, and the U.S. Senate wants to know what it is. The intelligence committee has ordered the director of national intelligence and the secretary of defense to deliver a report on the mysterious sightings by next month.

Bill Whitaker: So what you are telling me is that UFOs, unidentified flying objects, are real?

Lue Elizondo: Bill, I think we’re beyond that already. The government has already stated for the record that they’re real. I’m not telling you that. The United States government is telling you that. 

Luis Elizondo spent 20 years running military intelligence operations worldwide: in Afghanistan, the Middle East and Guantanamo. He hadn’t given UFOs a second thought until 2008. That’s when he was asked to join something at the Pentagon called the Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program, or “AATIP.”…

(13) A QUARTER CENTURY OF POKÉMON. The Week reports “Katy Perry released a new music video starring … Pikachu”.

In January, The Pokémon Company announced that it was teaming up with Universal Music Group artists to celebrate its 25th anniversary.

…On Friday, Katy Perry shared her own contribution to the anniversary celebrations: a video for her new single “Electric,” in which she travels back in time with her Pikachu to make her younger self enter a talent show. Though the song sounds like it belongs on a TJ Maxx playlist (“there’s no reason that this life can’t be electric!”), it’s at least more on-brand for Pokémon than Hootie and the Blowfish.

(14) VIDEO OF THE DAY. “In Pirates of the Caribbean At World’s End Pitch Meeting” on Screen Rant, Ryan George says that “physics and probability aren’t the thing” in this Pirates movie because “every time Jack Sparrow gets on a rope, he turns into Spider-Man.”

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

Pixel Scroll 4/22/21 Do Jedi Name Their Lightsabers?

(1) FREE ON EARTH DAY. Yes, it’s F.O.E. Arizona State University’s Center for Science and the Imagination, in honor of Earth Day, has published Everything Change, Volume III, a free digital anthology of climate fiction featuring the winner and finalists of their 2020 global climate fiction contest. Edited by Angie Dell and Joey Eschrich, the book is available in a variety of digital formats. View the 10 original illustrations created by Brazilian artist João Queiroz at the book’s webpage (scroll down).

The title Everything Change is drawn from a quote by Margaret Atwood, our first Imagination and Climate Futures lecturer in 2014. The contest and anthology are presented by the Imagination and Climate Futures Initiative at Arizona State University, a partnership of the Center for Science and the Imagination and the Virginia G. Piper Center for Creative Writing.

Stories by: Barakat Akinsiku, Amanda Baldeneaux, J.R. Burgmann, Mason Carr, Scott Dorsch, Sigrid Marianne Gayangos, Kathryn E. Hill, Jules Hogan, Anya Ow, Natasha Seymour

(2) PENNSIC WAR DELAYED AGAIN. The Society for Creative Anachronism’s Pennsic War will not happen again in 2021, however, a non-SCA event called Armistice will be run at the same site. Here are excerpts from the official explanations:

From the Mayor: Pennsic War 49

G’Day Everyone When taking office in the position of Mayor for Pennsic 49 I made a promise to everyone. That promise was that above all else, I would endeavour to run a fiscally responsible and safe Pennsic 49. It was my dear friend and mentor Viscount Sir Edward that said to me “The people that attend this event are Pennsic, take care of them.” I promised him I would. Then COVID 19 hit and the entire world was plunged into a crisis, the like of which we have not witnessed in our lifetimes. Over the past few months, I have been in constant discussions with The Pennsic Seneschals Group (PSG), The President of the SCA Inc, Coopers Lake Management and my Pennsic Senior Executive Group. In addition, I have seen the comments from many of you and listened to the comments from my Deputy Mayors and their staff. I have kept you all updated as much as possible so that you all understand my decision-making process and so that you understand the path I am walking when I make decisions. Although change is happening and things are getting better, I must deal with the now, rather than what I think it may be like in 3 months’ time and unfortunately our vendors needs for commitment and certainty are requiring us to make commitments earlier than we originally intended. As Mayor of Pennsic 49, I was entrusted with, the welfare and safety of the entire Pennsic Family. It is therefore with great sadness that I must inform you today that, I have decided to Postpone Pennsic 49 for another 12 months to 2022. The new dates for Pennsic 49 will be 29 July 2022 – 14 August 2022. This has been an exceedingly difficult decision to make but I trust you understand the reasoning behind it.
…Yours in Service, Sir Gregory of Loch Swan Mayor Pennsic 49

To explain a little further, I just want to put a couple of ‘Myths” that are circulating to bed and for people to clearly understand a few things that have and are happening behind the scenes.

Please understand that SCA, Pennsic staff, and Coopers management are jointly working together to find a solution. A separate, non-SCA event Armistice was the best joint solution that solved the issues of liability, allowed the business to survive, and provided an event for folks.

1. We needed to make a decision earlier because as PA (Just talking about our PA based Support services) started to emerge from the pandemic and slowly ramp up their businesses to pre-pandemic levels over the next 6 months, vendors need some certainty about their future commitment for everything from Portaloos to Waste Disposal bookings. We could not commit to that as the Pennsic War considering the current rules the SCA has in place today for SCA events. That was one consideration in our decision.

2. …All these decisions were made in concert with the SCA, the Pennsic Financial Committee, and the Coopers management working together to determine the best path forward for this summer.

3. For the Pennsic War to survive for another 20+ years, we need to support the main business that has supported us over these many years, Cooper’s Lake Campground and many of the smaller businesses and merchants that rely on Pennsic for part of their yearly income.  They have survived 18 months of no business income and forced closure. That is tough for any business, let alone one, like Coopers Lake,  that solely depends on campers and events. To that end we have been in discussions with the Coopers Lake Management for weeks about their options to survive. Armistice is that option.

4. Armistice “IS NOT” taking over from the Pennsic War. The Coopers Lake Management don’t want that at all. This is a one off event to help them through another tough year and is supported by Pennsic War and many Pennsic staff will be working to make Armistice event successful. It’s an option that gives those that wish to camp and relax with friends in PA, under PA health Guidelines the option to do so in a relaxed medieval environment.

5. We are all adults. Many have asked how to support the Coopers, well I’d suggest that this is a way of doing that, even if you can’t attend the event. I registered even though it is likely I won’t be able to attend, given current international travel rules.

6. This “Is Not” an SCA event. It is a Coopers Lake event run under their rules and insurance.

I hope that clears up some of the questions. Simple language, we knew about this alternate event, were consulted and even offered our expertise to support it. I know, there will be those that want to see some hidden secret SMOF type agenda, but those that know me, know that isn’t the case….  

(3) TONY STARK, COME FORTH. “Marvel Fans Rent Billboard Campaigning For Iron Man To Be Brought Back To Life”CinemaBlend has the story.

…The above image comes to us from a now-deleted Twitter post, which was shared a few hundred times ahead of its mysterious disappearance. Both the social media account and said billboard encourage Marvel fans to use the hashtag #BringBackTonyStarkToLife on April 24th, marks the two-year anniversary of Avengers: Endgame.

…It seems the Marvel fans behind the campaign want to see Iron Man/Tony Stark get a happy ending in the MCU. A number of characters fell throughout Infinity War and Endgame, including Black Widow. But Tony’s death hit especially hard, and his funeral scene was an emotional one considering Pepper Potts and their daughter Morgan.

While both Natasha and Tony died in Avengers: Endgame, Captain America was given a chance at a happy ending. After returning the Infinity Stones to their proper place in the timeline, Steve went back and lived his happy ending with Peggy Carter. It’s likely due to this that fans want to see Iron Man get the same treatment.

Still, it seems unlikely that Tony Stark would somehow be brought back to life in the MCU. The Russo Brothers have spoken about the importance of real stakes, and that includes death scenes. Tony Stark’s death wrapped up the character’s arc, and showed the real sacrifices that come with saving the galaxy.

(4) FIYAHCON PLANS. FIYAHCON 2021, a virtual convention centering the perspectives and celebrating the contributions of BIPOC in speculative fiction, will be held September 16-19.

…The event is hosted by FIYAH Literary Magazine and carries a variety of entertaining and educational content surrounding the business, craft, and community of speculative literature. The inaugural event took place in October of 2020 to great acclaim, and we look forward to doing it all again this year!

Get ready for three-point-five days of dynamic, entertaining content with BIPOC at the center of speculative literature discourse! The event takes place September 16-19, 2021 and includes panels, presentations, games, office hours, write-ins, workshops, kickbacks, and more.

Where the magazine is focused specifically on the elevation of Black voices in short speculative fiction, FIYAHCON seeks to center the perspectives and experiences of BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color). The reasoning is that Black voices are not the least represented in the field, and we don’t want to exclude groups who are already systemically excluded from other spaces….

(5) THE THAWED LEFTOVER EQUATIONS. [Item by Cliff.] The premise for this movie sounds strangely familiar…. “Stowaway review – a devastating dilemma drives tense Netflix sci-fi” in the Guardian.

Ever since Sandra Bullock MacGyver’d her way from mid-orbit chaos back down to earth in Alfonso Cuarón’s show-stopping thriller Gravity, we’ve seen a rise in briskly efficient sci-fi competency porn. It’s a subgenre of films working off the thrill of watching high-stakes problem-solving, of professionals using their reality-rooted smarts to deal with fantastical situations. We’ve since seen Matt Damon use botany in The Martian, Amy Adams use linguistics in Arrival, Natalie Portman use cellular biology in Annihilation and Chris Pratt use Jennifer Lawrence in the unintentionally creepy Passengers. Just a few months after Netflix ventured into similar territory with George Clooney’s business first, emotion later drama The Midnight Sky, they’re taking us up into the stars with Stowaway, a late-stage acquisition title that should scratch that itch a little more successfully….

(6) TUBERS. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In the April 21 Financial Times, gaming columnist Tom Faber discusses the rise of virtual YouTubers, or “VTubers.”

CodeMiko is a video game character without a game.  The pink-haired avatar lives on Twitch, the live streaming platform owned by Amazon, where she chats with her half-million fans and interviews internet personalities in a signature style marked by absurdist humour and non sequiturs.  Her videos are immensely enjoyable, and they might just signal the next frontier of digital entertainment.

Controlling Miko is a human actress and programmer wearing a motion capture suit, known only as ‘The Technician.’  When The Technician moves or speaks, the Miko avatar mimics her precisely on screen.  This set up is a variation on the virtual YouTuber, or VTuber, a phenomenon where live streamers host videos as fictional characters, masked behind cutesy anime avatars..  As of last October, VTuber streams on YouTube were wracking up more than 1.5bn views a month.  It may seem curious that audiences choose animated figures over real humans, but the VTuber concept offers striking advantages to both streamers and viewers.

(7) THE PRESSURE IS ON. James Wallace Harris asks “Will Climate Change Crush Our Science Fictional Dreams?” at Classics of Science Fiction.

… Elon Musk might get people to Mars but we’ll discover two things. Living on Mars will not be the romantic fantasy that science fiction fans have always dreamed, and leaving Earth won’t save us. We’ll probably also return to the Moon, but we’ll discover trying to colonize it will be nearly impossible and we’ll learn the true value of the Earth and its biosystem that was so perfect for us.

As the years progress and the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere increases and the percentage of habitable land decreases I believe our desire for space travel will wane. We won’t have to wait for dramatic sea level rise for everyone to be convinced, heat waves will start to kill millions. Just read the first chapter of The Ministry for the Future to understand. I expect events like it will come true sometime this decade. We won’t need to see drowned cities to know the disciples of Ayn Rand have doomed us. Increasing weather catastrophes, declining food production, and mass migrations of refuges will make it plain enough we made the wrong decisions and believed the wrong people….

(8) CON WILL REQUIRE ATTENDEES BE VACCINATED. Blerdcon, to be held July 16-18 in Washington, D.C., announced on Facebook they have decided to make Blerdcon 2021 “a vaccine mandated event (even if you HAD covid and recovered).”

…Only those having received their completed vaccine regiment and showing their Covid-19 Vaccination Record Card at registration will be admitted into the convention. This extends to all staff, volunteers, vendors, contractors and sponsors.

The community simply has too much to lose and nothing to gain by taking on any unnecessary risks, even as we anticipate low infection/high vaccination rates for mid-July. So we are adding this to our other anti-covid measures: outdoor parties and events, spaced seating in all panel rooms, mask mandate for all indoor spaces, sanitation stations, nightly cleaning.

(9) CAPTAIN JACK IS IMMORTAL – YOU ARE NOT. Radio Times thinks they have found some Secret Information in the advertising for a comic book: “Doctor Who leaks | Will time windows and Captain Jack be in series 13?” If you don’t want to know a possible spoiler – don’t blink click!

… The synopsis was originally found on the official Penguin Random House website, and while it has since been removed it is still publicly available to view on other sites. When contacted by RadioTimes.com, the BBC declined to comment on “speculation.”

(10) POWELL OBIT. Costume designer Anthony Powell died April 18 at the age of 85 reports Deadline. Powell won multiple awards for non-genre productions — a Tony Award for the costumes of 1963’s School for Scandal, and Oscars in 1972 for Travels with My Aunt  1978 for Death on the Nile and in 1979 for Tess. He received the Costume Designers Guild’s Career Achievement Award in 2000. For genre work he earned Academy Award nominations for Pirates (1986), Hook (1991) and 102 Dalmatians (2000) (for the costumes of Glenn Close’s Cruella de Vil). His other credits included Sorcerer, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom and Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, 101 DalmatiansThe AvengersThe Ninth Gate and Miss Potter, the 2006 Beatrix Potter biopic.

(11) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

  • April 22, 2005 — On this day in 2005, Star Trek: Enterprise went where the original series and Deep Space Nine had gone before as they ventured into the Mirror Universe with “In A Mirror Darkly”  with the first part of a two-part adventure in the program’s fourth season. (Star Trek: Discovery would later retcon itself into this universe.)  It was written by Mike Sussman who got his start on Star Trek: Voyager and wrote nearly thirty Trek episodes across the two series.

(12) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]

  • Born April 22, 1887 – Kurt Wiese.  A score of covers, many interiors for Walter Brooks’ Freddy the Pigbooks.  Among much else, here is Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea; Caldecott Honor for You Can Write Chinese.  (Died 1974) [JH]
  • Born April 22, 1899 – Vladimir Nabokov.  Scientist, poet, translator, critic, teacher, fiction author, memoirist.  Said he didn’t like SF but wrote some anyway, e.g. “Lance”.  Superb treatment of “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde” and “Metamorphosis” in Lectures on Literature.  (Died 1977) [JH]
  • Born April 21, 1902 Philip Latham. Name used by Robert Shirley Richardson on his genre work. His novels were largely first published in Astounding starting in the Forties, with the exception of his children’s SF novels that were published in Space Science Fiction Magazine. He also wrote a few scripts for Captain Video, the predecessor of Captain Video and his Video Rangers. His Comback novel starts this way: ‘ When Parkhurst heard the announcement that climaxed the science fiction convention, he found that he’d been right, years ago when he had faith in science-fictionists’ dreams. But, in another way, he’d been wrong . . .’ It’s available at the usual digital suspects for a buck. (Died 1981.) (CE) 
  • Born April 22, 1928 – Robert Schulz.   Two dozen covers.  Here is The Sword of Rhiannon.  Here is The Caves of Steel.  Here is Space Tug.  Here is Beyond Time and Space.  (Died 1978) [JH] 
  • Born April 21, 1937 Jack Nicholson, 84. I think my favorite role for him in a genre film was as Daryl Van Horne in The Witches of Eastwick. Other genre roles include Jack Torrance in The Shining, Wilbur Force in The Little Shop of Horrors, Rexford Bedlo in The Raven, Andre Duvalier in The Terror, (previous three films are all Roger Corman productions), Will Randall in Wolf, President James Dale / Art Land in Mars Attacks! and Jack Napier aka The Joker in Tim  Burton’s The Batman. (CE) 
  • Born April 21, 1977 Kate Baker, 44. Editor along with with Neil Clarke and Sean Wallace of the last two print issues of Clarkesworld .  She won the Hugo Award for Best Semiprozine twice, and the World Fantasy Award (Special Award: Non Professional in 2014, all alongside the editorial staff of Clarkesworld . She’s a writer of three short genre stories, the latest of which, “No Matter Where; Of Comfort No One Speak”, you can hear it here. Warning it has as subject matters abuse and suicide. (CE)
  • Born April 21, 1984 Michelle Ryan, 37. She had the odd honor of being a Companion to the Tenth Doctor as Lady Christina de Souza for just one story, “Planet of the Dead”.  She had a somewhat longer genre run as the rebooted Bionic Woman that lasted eight episodes, and early in her career, she appeared as the sorceress Nimueh in BBC’s Merlin. Finally I’ll note she played Helena from A Midsummer Night’s Dream in BBC’s Learning project, Off By Heart Shakespeare. (CE) 
  • Born April 22, 1943 – Louise Glück, age 78.  Her poem “Circe’s Power” is anthologized here.  In The Wild Iris flowers talk with a gardener and an “unreachable father”.  Pulitzer Prize, William Carlos Williams Award, Bollingen Prize, U.S. Poet Laureate 2003-2004, Nat’l Humanities Medal, Nobel Prize.  Professor at Yale.  [JH]
  • Born April 21, 1944 Damien Broderick, 77. Australian writer of over seventy genre novels. It is said that The Judas Mandala novel contains the first appearance of the term “virtual reality” in SF. He’s won five Ditmar Awards, a remarkable achievement. I know I’ve read several novels by him including Godplayers and K-Machines which are quite good. (CE) 
  • Born April 22, 1966 – Marie Javins, age 55.  Editor-in-chief at DC Comics.  Has done Marvel too, e.g. prose adaptation of graphic novel Iron Man: In extremis; with James Gunn, The Art of “Guardians of the Galaxy”.  Colorist.  Travel writer.  Website.  [JH]
  • Born April 22, 1989 – Catherine Banner, age 32.  Three novels for us, the first when she was 19; another outside our field well received.  Lives in Turin.  “I underwent a shift, as all writers who continue writing beyond adolescence probably do, from thinking ‘What story shall I write?’ to asking, instead, the more pertinent question, the one which can sustain a lifetime of work: ‘How can I do justice to this story I feel I must tell?’”  [JH]

(13) COMICS SECTION.

  • Bizarro reveals the surprise ending to a crime story.

(14) THE HOSTS WITH THE MOST. “’Jeopardy!’: Robin Roberts, LeVar Burton & George Stephanopoulos To Guest Host” says Deadline. A different source reports LeVar Burton’s episodes will air July 26-30.

Jeopardy! has unveiled the final group of season 37 guest hosts, with Robin RobertsLeVar Burton and George Stephanopoulous among the TV personalities set to lead the  popular trivia game.

Executive producer Mike Richards revealed that David Faber, who is a former Celebrity Jeopardy! champion,  and Joe Buck will also step up to the lectern to wrap up the game show’s 37th season. Previous season 37 guest hosts, who have stepped in for the late longtime host Alex Trebek, include Anderson Cooper, Dr. Mehmet Oz, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Savannah Guthrie, Bill Whitaker, Mayim Bialik, Katie Couric and Aaron Rodgers.

(15) RITE GUD. Raquel S. Benedict has released more Rite Gud podcast episodes. (Previously identified in this space by her initials, she is now going by her full name.)  

What makes a writer? Is it coffee and cats? Is it a good author photo? Is it having a screenname like @JaneDoeWrites? Is it in your soul, in your bones, in your DNA? Is it collecting photos of books and sharing writing memes and penning endless posts about writing (specifically, about how much you hate it)?
In this episode, Carmilla Mary Morrell joins us to talk about the dark secret of being a writer: you have to fucking write. We also discuss the problem of defining people by rigid identities and the Doctrine of Dog Cum.

If you’ve spent any time talking about geek culture, you’ve probably seen one word come up over and over again: gatekeeper. To be a gatekeeper is bad. To be a gatekeeper is exclusionary and harmful and discriminatory.

The internet was supposed to get rid of gatekeepers and usher in a new, democratic era of content, an era free of inequality or bias or those evil old boogeymen called gatekeepers. But is it really? Are we really getting rid of gatekeepers, or are we just replacing the old gatekeepers with new ones?

In this episode, Colin Broadmoor joins us to talk about fandom, The Monk, and why fiction should hurt.

If you’re into science fiction and fantasy, you might have heard of something called hopepunk. Hopepunk, according to its supporters, is a creative movement that believes that producing and consuming optimistic fiction will make the world a better place. But does hopepunk really offer meaningful hope and revolution, or is it just a way to numb yourself and hide from the world?

In this episode, Sid Oozeley gets on the mic to talk about how all fiction is escapist: the only question is, what are you escaping from?

(16) PINBALL WIZARDRY. SYFY Wire tells what players what to expect when “Star Wars Pinball, Resident Evil go VR in Oculus virtual reality gaming showcase”.

With Baby Yoda and Din Djarin as ringside spectators, you might think there’d be galactic levels of pressure not to foul up a task — even if it’s something as casual as a game of Star Wars Pinball. But in Oculus’ big quest (pun intended) to bring the galaxy far, far away and other big-name game franchises to its family of VR platforms, it all actually ends up feeling pretty fun….

For its VR upgrade, Star Wars Pinball isn’t just replaying the classics, it’s also roping in newcomers to Lucasfilm’s ever-expanding galaxy. In addition to familiar tables based on the original films, watch for a pair of new themes created specifically for VR, as well as franchise newcomers straight out of The Mandalorian. While Oculus unveiled the new look, its Quest platforms aren’t the only place you’ll be able to hone your virtual skills; in addition to Oculus Quest 1 & 2, Star Wars Pinball is also headed to Steam VR and PlayStation VR on April 29….

(17) BUTLER RESEARCHER. In “How Octavia Butler Created Her SciFi Worlds” at Jezebel. Joyzel Acevedo interviews Lynell George, author of A Handful of Earth, A Handful of Sky: The World of Octavia E. Butler.

Originally, it was Lynell George’s mother who was the Octavia Butler fan. A Los Angeles-based English teacher for 30 years, George’s mother would hand Butler’s books to students who didn’t like reading; “‘What are you interested in? Who are you? Oh, here, this is for you’,” she recalls. Once, she brought George along to a Butler reading in Pasadena, California, and George describes the awe she felt seeing Butler in person for the first time: “There was something very powerful about this tall, Black woman walking to the bookstore and sitting inches away from me—it was a small store—to talk about her work, to talk about writing.”…

(18) ZOOM WITH OKUNGBOWA. Powell’s Books presents Suyi Davies Okungbowa in conversation with S. A. Chakraborty on May 18, at 5:00 PM Pacific. Register for the Zoom webinar here.

From Suyi Davies Okungbowa, one of the most exciting new storytellers in epic fantasy, comes Son of the Storm (Orbit), a sweeping tale of violent conquest and forgotten magic set in a world inspired by the precolonial empires of West Africa. In the ancient city of Bassa, Danso is a clever scholar on the cusp of achieving greatness — only he doesn’t want it. Instead, he prefers to chase forbidden stories about what lies outside the city walls. The Bassai elite claim there is nothing of interest. The city’s immigrants are sworn to secrecy. But when Danso stumbles across a warrior wielding magic that shouldn’t exist, he’s put on a collision course with Bassa’s darkest secrets. Drawn into the city’s hidden history, he sets out on a journey beyond its borders. And the chaos left in the wake of his discovery threatens to destroy the empire. Okungbowa will be joined in conversation by S. A. Chakraborty, author of The Daevabad Trilogy.

(19) CAN’T BEAT THAT. The Guardian’s Alison Flood celebrates a new edition of the author’s first book in “Terry Pratchett’s debut turns 50: ‘At 17 he showed promise of a brilliant mind’”. There’s a 2-minute audio clip at the link.

In November 1971, a debut novel from a young author was published, to a small but not insignificant splash. Set in a world of tiny people who live in a carpet, it was described by the book trade journal Smith’s Trade News as “one of the most original tots’ tomes to hit the bookshops for many a decade”, while Teachers’ News called it a story of “quite extraordinary quality”.

The unknown author was Terry Pratchett, and the book was The Carpet People. This week, publisher Penguin Random House Children’s is releasing a 50th-anniversary edition, with Doctor Who and Good Omens star David Tennant reading the new audiobook.

“Terry would have loved knowing that David was going to do it,” said Rob Wilkins, Pratchett’s former assistant and friend who now manages the Pratchett estate. “David was a Doctor Who that really mattered in the Pratchett household, so he would have been so thrilled.”…

(20) VENISON WITH A VENGEANCE. The Late Show with Stephen Colbert shows what happens when you mess with nature in “Bambi Returns: The Clone Wars”.

(21) VIDEO OF THE DAY. In “How WandaVision Should Have Ended” on YouTube, the How It Should Have Ended Team thinks WandaVision would be better with the addition of several DC superheroes, Mel Gibson, and Keanu Reeves! QUITE POSSIBLY SPOILERS.

[Thanks to Peer, John Hertz, Cat Eldridge, Martin Morse Wooster, N., Andrew Porter, Cliff, John King Tarpinian, Michael Toman, JJ, Raquel S. Benedict, IanP, and Mike Kennedy for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]