Pixel Scroll 2/18/20 They Paved Alpha Ralpha Boulevard And Put Up A Parking Lot

(1) AREN’T THESE LOVELY? “Royal Mail: James Bond stamps released for new movie” – BBC has the story.

Some new stamps have been released by Royal Mail to mark the 25th, and latest, James Bond movie No Time To Die. They’ve all been inspired by the classic opening sequences and feature the six actors who’ve played 007

The Royal Mail is taking orders for the stamps and all kinds of cute Bond collectibles here. For example, the “James Bond Secret Dossier”, “A confidential dossier containing six missions linked to the Special Stamps.”

(2) JOHN SCALZI’S LAST (EMPEROX) TOUR. From coast to coast – and in the middle, too, John Scalzi will be promoting The Last Emperox. Find out when and where: “Tour Dates! Tour Dates! Tour Dates!”.

(3) BANDERSNATCH. Phillip Berry recommends “Surround Yourself With Resonators”. He learned it from a book —

…i recently finished a book called Bandernatch: C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, and the Creative Collaboration of the Inklings that struck me with a surprising insight into peak performance. The book is about the creative collaboration among a group of exceptional English writers in the 1930’s and 1940’s and its amazing results. If you are a Tolkien or Lewis geek like me, you’ll love the book for its insights into the story behind the story of their writing. For purposes of today’s post, I want to focus on a particular concept introduced to me by author Diana Glyer: the resonator.

The resonator is “…anyone who acts as a friendly, interested, supportive audience … they show interest, give feedback, express praise, offer encouragement, contribute practical help, and promote the work to others. … they are enthusiastic about the project, they believe it is worth doing, and they are eager to see it brought to completion. But more importantly, they show interest in the writer — they express confidence in the writer’s talents and show faith in his or her ability to succeed. They understand what the writer is attempting. They catch the vision and then do all they can. Resonators help innovators to make the leap from where they are to where they need to be.”

Of course, right? How else would anyone get anything amazing accomplished? We like to talk a big collaboration game but few of us do it and fewer still are good at it. Peak performance in our world is the lone athlete doing the impossible. The brilliant scientist with a break through in the dark, lonely hours of the night. The deft surgeon making all of the right decisions, and incisions, in the OR. The inspired novelist typing away in insolation as she produces a story that touches everyone. We see our best coming in isolation and, like much of the rest of our lives, we approach our best life, best self, and best performance with a lottery ticket mentality: buy the ticket and hope for the best.

(4) A SIMPLE TEST YOU CAN DO AT HOME. Aidan Moher did the math and was stunned by the answer.

(5) WEIRD TALES COLLECTIBLES. Doug Ellis calls attention to the Robert Weinberg Estate Auction scheduled for April:

Weird Tales was Bob Weinberg’s favorite pulp and besides the pulp itself, he loved to collect ephemera related to it. Among the items that will be in the Robert Weinberg Estate Auction being held at the 2020 Windy City Pulp and Paper Convention (April 17-19, 2020 at the Westin Lombard Yorktown Center) are not only many issues of Weird Tales, but some related items as well. The auction will be held on the evening of Friday, April 17, 2020.

Bob collected many letters from Weird Tales’ editor Farnsworth Wright over the years, including several from the estate of author Greye la Spina. She was one of the pioneering female writers of horror and fantasy for the pulps.

(6) PICARD. Una McCormack is the author of The Last Best Hope, the first novel associated with the Star Trek: Picard television series. It embraces both a big idea and a big ideal: “The Big Idea: Una McCormack”.

…In Star Trek: Picard, we are presented with a future where the powers that be are no longer committed to these great ambitions. Starfleet, it seems, withdrew from the great challenge of its age, the humanitarian project to save the Romulan people from the effects of their sun going supernova, making a distinction between ‘lives’ and ‘Romulan lives’. We see a man whose values are no longer shared by the institutions to which he devoted his whole life, and who is struggling with this misalignment….

(7) DON’T GET RIPPED OFF. Writer Beware poses the question, “Should You Pay To Display Your Book At BookExpo? (Short Answer: No)”.

Solicitations Your May Encounter

1. You may already have received an email from the Combined Book Exhibit’s New Title Showcase. The CBE, an area of standing bookshelves outside the entrance to the BEA display floor, offers display packages for a few hundred dollars. For a few hundred more, you can buy an ad in its catalog; for many hundreds more, you can buy an autographing session.

Your book will be placed on a shelf with hundreds of others, in no particular order: there are no separate areas for genres, for instance. I’ve attended BEA many times, and the CBE is often completely deserted, with not a customer or a staff person in sight. I’ve never seen more than a handful of people browsing it at any one time. There is definitely no handselling involved.

A number of predatory marketing companies re-sell CBE services for enormous markups. The CBE is aware of this, and has posted a warning on its website (it’s no coincidence that all the companies named in the warning appear on the scam list in the sidebar of this blog).

(8) COYNE OBIT. The Rev. George V. Coyne, a Jesuit astrophysicist and the longtime director of the Vatican Observatory, who defended Galileo and Darwin against doctrinaire Roman Catholics, and also challenged atheists by insisting that science and religion could coexist, died on February 18 at the age of 87 The New York Times tribute is here.

…Recognized among astronomers for his research into the birth of stars and his studies of the lunar surface (an asteroid is named after him), Father Coyne was also well known for seeking to reconcile science and religion.

…Brother Guy Consolmagno, the current director of the Vatican Observatory, said in an email that Father Coyne “was notable for publicly engaging with a number of prominent and aggressive opponents of the church who wished to use science as a tool against religion.”

Among those he engaged on the debate stage and in print were Richard Dawkins, the English evolutionary biologist and atheist, and Cardinal Christoph Schönborn of Vienna, who, in an Op-Ed article in The New York Times in 2005, defended the concept that evolution could not have occurred without divine intervention.

During Father Coyne’s tenure, the Vatican publicly acknowledged that Galileo and Darwin might have been correct. Brother Consolmagno said it would be fair to say that Father Coyne had played a role in shifting the Vatican’s position….

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born February 18, 1908 Angelo Rossitto. A dwarf actor and voice artist with his first genre role being in 1929’s The Mysterious Island as an uncredited Underwater Creature. His last major role was as The Master in Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome. He showed up in Galaxina, The Incredible Hulk, Jason of Star Command, Bakshi’s Lord of The Rings, Adult Fairytales, Clones, Dracula v. Frankenstein and a lot more. (Died 1991.)
  • Born February 18, 1919 Jack Palance. His first SF film is H. G. Wells’ The Shape of Things to Come which bears little resemblance to that novel. (He plays Omus.) Next up he’s Voltan in Hawk the Slayer followed by being Xenos in two Gor films. (Oh, the horror!) He played Carl Grissom in Burton’s Batman, and Travis in Solar Crisis along with being Mercy in Cyborg 2. ABC in the Sixties did The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde in which he played the lead dual roles, and he had a nice turn as Louis Strago in The Man from U.N.C.L.E. which is worth seeing. (Died 2006.)
  • Born February 18, 1929 Len Deighton, 91. Author of possibly the most brilliant alternative novels in which Germany won the Second World War, SS-GB. Itdeals with the occupation of Britain. A BBC One series was broadcast several years back.
  • Born February 18, 1930 Gahan Wilson. Author, cartoonist and illustrator known for his cartoons depicting horror-fantasy situations. Though the world at large might know him for his Playboy illustrations, I’m going to single him out for his brilliant and possibly insane work with Zelazny on A Night in the Lonesome October which is their delightful take on All Hallows’ Eve. (Died 2019.)
  • Born February 18, 1954 John Travolta, 66. Ahhhh, Battlefield Earth. Travolta, a Scientologist, had sought for years to make a film of the novel by Hubbard, the founder of Scientology. Given it is now generally considered one of the worst SF films ever, I do wonder what he thinks of it now. I can almost forgive him for it as he went on to become involved in Chicago which is one of the finest musicals ever filmed. 
  • Born February 18, 1968 Molly Ringwald, 52. One of her was first acting roles was Nikki in Spacehunter: Adventures in the Forbidden Zone. She’ll later have the lead role of Frannie Goldsmith in Stephen King’ The Stand series. And does the Riverdale series count at least as genre adjacent? If so, she’s got the recurring role of Mary Andrews there. 

(10) IT’S NOT EASY BEING GREEN. In “Love and Loss in the Time of Swamp Monsters” on CrimeReads, Andy Davidson recalls his three favorite Swamp Thing stories, and explains Swamp Thing’s romantic problems because “it can’t be easy falling in love with a vegetable.”

From his first appearance in 1971 in DC’s House of Secrets #92, Len Wein and Berni Wrightson’s Swamp Thing seemed doomed to be the monster lurking beyond the darkened pane.

By the time Swamp Thing #1 hit spinner racks a year later, Wein and Wrightson’s series had revamped and fleshed out the story of Dr. Alec Holland, a research scientist murdered, along with his wife, for his “bio-restorative formula.” Horribly burned in an explosion that destroys his lab, Holland flees into the swamp, where he succumbs to his injuries, only to be miraculously reborn from the bog, “a muck-encrusted, shambling mockery of life.”

(11) WHO SAYS YOU CAN’T PICK YOUR PARENTS? Takayuki Tatsumi, a Keio University English professor and an expert on cyberpunk who has been a frequent panelist at Worldcons, was interviewed by Elif Batuman in a piece that appeared in the April 30, 2018 New Yorker on the Japanese practice of “rental relatives,” where companies rent out actors who pretend to be a client’s spouse, children, or parents. “Japan’s Rent-a-Family Industry”

Rental relatives have inspired a substantial literary corpus.  In Tokyo, I met with the critic Takayuki Tatsumi, who, in the nineties, wrote a survey of the genre.  He explained that postmodern and queer novelists had used rental relatives to represent the ‘virtual family,’ an idea he traced back to the -ie- of the Meiji period, where adoption of family members was common and biological lineage was subordinated to the integrity of the household.  ‘According to Foucault, everything is constructed, not essentially determined,’ Tatsumi said.  ‘What matters is the function.’

(12) JEOPARDY! Andrew Porter was perched in front of the TV tonight when all the contestants whiffled on this Jeopardy! answer:

Category: Speaking Volumes.

Answer: Here’s a revelation — it’s the seventh and “last” book in the Narnia series.

No one got, “What is ‘The Last Battle’?”

(13) MAN’S BEST FRIEND. Brad Torgersen recently was a convention GoH. Guess which of his good friends praised the choice in these terms:

The very best part of Brad being GoH however was that it caused several of the Shrieking Harpies of Tolerance to throw a temper tantrum and declare that they were going to boycott the event (and they did, yet absolutely nobody missed them). Upon hearing that I asked if they could make Brad emeritus GoH every year forever, because that’s like putting a tick collar on a dog.

To think he used to be the Sad Puppies’ lead dog. Now he’s just the collar.

(14) MISSED MANNERS. The Genre Traveler calls your attention to “10 Things Not to Do at a Science Fiction Convention”. Uh, yeah?

6. Take flirtation too seriously.

Con-goers flirt a lot, it is part of the fun of the event … and is really meant to be light-hearted, not a promise of a serious relationship.

5. Point and stare at people in costume…

…even if you’re one of them. It may look exotic and strange to you, but for a con, costumes are quite common at science fiction conventions. That said, if you like someone’s costume, you can always compliment. Just be sure it is a costume…

(15) PRACTICING? In the Washington Post, Rick Noack and Stefano Petrilli discuss how the spread of the corona virus has increased interest in plague-related video games, with “Plague Inc.” and “Pandemic” racking up sales around the world. “Virus games are going viral as the coronavirus spreads”.

The popularity of games centered on the proliferation of pathogens has surged in recent weeks.

As officials and experts worked to stem the global spread of the novel coronavirus that originated in Wuhan, China, and has left more than 1,500 people dead, gamers have turned their attention to parallel, imaginary struggles.Foremost among them: Plague Inc., a strategy game that rose to the top of Apple Store charts in China, the United States, and elsewhere as coronavirus fears mounted. First released by U.K.-based studio Ndemic Creations in 2012, the game, of which there are a handful of variants, asks players to take the part of a pathogen, helping it evolve to wipe out humanity.

The popularity of such games makes sense amid efforts to cope with the coronavirus and the fears it has sown, researchers and game developers said.

(16) EX-TERMINATE! Fabrice Mathieu’s new mashup is Terminators:

Several T-800 are sent back in time by Skynet. But their mission is scrambled. And now they are all targeting each other!

(17) DEM BONES. In Iraq, “Neanderthal ‘skeleton’ is first found in a decade”.

Researchers have described the first “articulated” remains of a Neanderthal to be discovered in a decade.

An articulated skeleton is one where the bones are still arranged in their original positions.

The new specimen was uncovered at Shanidar Cave in Iraq and consists of the upper torso and crushed skull of a middle-aged to older adult.

Excavations at Shanidar in the 1950s and 60s unearthed partial remains of 10 Neanderthal men, women and children.

During these earlier excavations, archaeologists found that some of the burials were clustered together, with clumps of pollen surrounding one of the skeletons.

The researcher who led those original investigations, Ralph Solecki from Columbia University in New York, claimed it was evidence that Neanderthals had buried their dead with flowers.

This “flower burial” captured the imagination of the public and kicked off a decades-long controversy. The floral interpretation suggested our evolutionary relatives were capable of cultural sophistication, challenging the view – prevalent at the time – that Neanderthals were unintelligent and animalistic.

(18) FRENCH VIDEO OF THE DAY. “Dans La Nuit” by Agathe Simoulin on Vimeo is a creepy story about ghosts in a graveyard adapted from a story by Guy de Maupassant.

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

Pixel Scroll 4/25/19 When Other Pixels Have Been Fifthgot, Ours Will Still Scroll Hot

(1) A CLOCKWORK REWIND. After Aldous Huxley wrote Brave New World (1932), he wrote a book of essays about issues raised in the novel, Brave New World Revisited (1958). Anthony Burgess planned to do the same for his novel A Clockwork Orange (1962) in A Clockwork Condition. Burgess evidently decided he was a better novelist than a philosopher and never published his 200-page typescript, which now has been rediscovered by The Anthony Burgess Foundation: “Unseen Clockwork Orange ‘follow-up’ by Anthony Burgess unearthed”.

A previously unseen manuscript for a follow-up to writer Anthony Burgess’s novel A Clockwork Orange has been unearthed in his archive.

A Clockwork Condition, which runs to 200 pages, is a collection of Burgess’ thoughts on the human condition and develops the themes from his 1962 book.

The novel told the story of the state’s attempt to cure a teenage delinquent.

The unfinished non-fiction follow-up is described as “part philosophical reflection and part autobiography”….

He then published a short autobiographical novel tackling some of the same themes, The Clockwork Testament, in 1974.

On Friday, the Design Museum in London launches a major Stanley Kubrick exhibition, which will include material from his Clockwork Orange film.

(2) COSPLAY: A HISTORY. Andrew Liptak has one on the way to the press says SYFY Wire. “First Look: Cosplay expert Andrew Liptak examines fandom fashion in Cosplay: A History”.

Cosplay: A History is a deluxe upcoming release from Saga Press celebrating the colorful kingdom of cosplay being compiled by writer/historian Andrew Liptak

Inspiration to craft this upcoming book came from his interest in the history of the 501st Legion. At the same time, he was working closely with The Verge colleague Bryan Bishop and realized that costumers working today occupy a fascinating place between the intersection of fandom, entertainment, and technology.

Liptak’s own press release says –

Seth Fishman at the Gernert Company brokered the deal with Joe Monti of Saga Press. The initial goal as it stands right now is to have it turned in by next March, with it to hit stores in 2021. I’ll be doing quite a bit of research and writing in the coming months, and expect to see more about cosplay as I write. 

The book is going to cover the broad history of cosplay and the state of the field. I’m looking at a lot of things: renaissance fairs, masquerade balls at science fiction conventions, groups like the 501st Legion, 405th Infantry Division, historical reenactors, protestors, and more. 

The goal is to talk about why people dress up in costumes, and how they interact with the story that they’re reimagining. It’s a wonderful popular culture phenomenon, and there’s a lot to delve into with the intersections of fandom, the making and entertainment communities, and technology. 

(3) SWAMP THING TEASER. A new original series DC Universe Swamp Thing premieres May 31.

SWAMP THING follows Abby Arcane as she investigates what seems to be a deadly swamp-born virus in a small town in Louisiana but soon discovers that the swamp holds mystical and terrifying secrets. When unexplainable and chilling horrors emerge from the murky marsh, no one is safe. Based on the DC characters originally written and drawn by Len Wein and Bernie Wrightson.

(4) SF CONCATENATION. The summer edition of the SF2 Concatenation is now up, with its seasonal summary of SF news as well as a survey of the primary research journals, for science philes, plus forthcoming SF/F and non-fiction book releases from the major British Isles SF imprints.

And the regular articles include film charts and Gaia for this season, another in the series of scientist-turned-SF-authors inspiring scientists, a swathe of standalone fiction and non-fiction reviews. The next seasonal edition will appear in September.

(5) PACKET ITEM AVAILABLE. Bogi Takács has released eir Hugo Voter’s Packet for Best Fan Writer – the material is at this link: “Hugo award voter packet 2019 (works from 2018)”.

I successfully produced my Hugo award voter packet! ….I hope. It features some highlights from 2018, but I had a lot more stuff in 2018, so please feel free to browse around.

The packet only has reviews and other forms of fan writing, because it is for the Fan Writer category. So no original fiction or poetry!…

(6) TICKETS TO RIDE. There’s an Omaze fundraiser for The Planetary Society — “Win a One-of-a-Kind 1958 VW® Bug Powered by Tesla® Batteries”. Buy tickets for a chance to win at the link.

  • Score a rare, custom Zelectric 1958 Classic VW Bug with an electric motor and Tesla batteries (the only one of its kind!)
  • Enjoy 102 HP thanks to its electric motor and a nearly 100 mile range battery that’ll keep you moving
  • Rock this car’s classic style and upgraded perks like new leather seats, high-quality flooring, ragtop sunroof and more
  • Support The Planetary Society’s work to advance space science and exploration

(7) NICK TREK. The Hollywood Reporter informs fans — “‘Star Trek’ Animated Series Gets Green Light at Nickelodeon”.

The cable network has given a series order to an animated Trek show from Emmy-winning writers Kevin and Dan Hageman and Star Trek franchise captain Alex Kurtzman. The untitled, CG-animated series will follow a group of teenagers who discover a derelict Starfleet ship and use it to search for adventure, meaning and salvation.

(8) MORE ON MCINTYRE. Kate Schaefer sent a roundup of time-sensitive Vonda McIntyre news.

Vonda N. McIntyre’s memorial will be held Sunday afternoon on June 9 at The Mountaineers Goodman Auditorium at 7700 Sand Point Way NE in Seattle, Washington.

Doors will open at 1:45, an event will start at 2:30, and the memorial will end at 4:30pm.

After short introductory remarks, we’ll have a microphone to pass around so that folks can share brief reminiscences of Vonda.

Further information about the memorial will be posted on Vonda’s CaringBridge page at https://www.caringbridge.org/visit/vondanmcintyre/journal.

Also — Jeanne Gomoll and Stephanie Ann Smith are still collecting memories of Vonda for a tribute book to be distributed both as a free electronic document and as a print-on-demand physical book. Send your memories to Jeanne at jg@unionstreetdesign.com before May 11.

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born April 25, 1897 Fletcher Pratt. Pratt is best known for his  collaborations with de Camp, the most well-known of which is the Harold Shea series which is collected as The Complete Enchanter. His solo fantasy novels The Well of the Unicorn and The Blue Star are also superb. Pratt established the literary dining club known as the Trap Door Spiders in 1944. The club would later fictionalized as the Black Widowers in a series of mystery stories by Asimov. Pratt would be fictionalized in one story, “To the Barest”, as the Widowers’ founder, Ralph Ottur. (Died 1956.)
  • Born April 25, 1925 Richard Deming. Ok, I think that all of the Man from U.N.C.L.E. novellas, or in this case the Girl from U.N.C.L.E. novellas, in the digest-sized Man from U.N.C.L.E. Magazine, were listed under the house name of Robert Hart Davis. Deming was only one of a very long list of writers (I know of Richard Curtis, Richard Deming, I. G. Edmonds, John Jakes, Frank Belknap Long, Dennis Lynds, Talmage Powell, Bill Pronzini, Charles Ventura and Harry Whittington) that were the writers who penned novellas in the twin U.N.C.L.E. series. (Died 1983.)
  • Born April 25, 1929 Robert A. Collins. Scholar of science fiction who founded the International Conference for the Fantastic in the Arts. Editor of the Fantasy Newsletter & Fantasy Review from 1978 to 1987, and editor of the IAFA Newsletter from 1988 to 1993. Editor, The Scope of the Fantastic: Selected Essays from the First International Conference on the Fantastic in Literature and Film and Modes of the Fantastic: Selected Essays from the Twelfth Annual International Conference for the Fantastic in the Arts. (Died 2009.)
  • Born April 25, 1939 Rex Miller. Horror writer with a hand in many pies, bloody ones at that. (Sorry couldn’t resist.) The Chaingang series featured Daniel Bunkowski, a half-ton killing-machine. Definitely genre. He contributed to some thirty anthologies including Hotter Blood: More Tales of Erotic HorrorFrankenstein: The Monster WakesDick Tracy: The Secret Files and The Crow: Shattered Lives and Broken Dreams. (Died 2005.)
  • Born April 25, 1950 Peter Jurasik, 69. Ambassador Londo Mollari on Babylon 5 who would be Emperor one day and die for his sins. (Yes spoiler.) He has also very short genre credits other than Babylon 5 — Doctor Oberon Geiger for several episodes on Sliders and Crom, the timid and pudgy compound interest program, in the Tron film. 
  • Born April 25, 1952 Peter Lauritson, 67. Long involved with the Trek franchise starting with Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. He became the producer of Star Trek: The Next Generation, and supervising producer for Deep Space Nine, Voyager and Enterprise. He directed three episodes of those series, including the Hugo Award-winning “The Inner Light”, as well as being second unit director for two Star Trek films.
  • Born April 25, 1969 Gina Torres, 50. The first thing I remember seeing her in was Cleopatra 2525 where she was Helen ‘Hel’ Carter. Her first genre was in the M.A.N.T.I.S. pilot as Dr. Amy Ellis, and she actually was in The Matrix Reloaded and The Matrix Revolutions as a character named Cas but I’ll frankly admit I remember almost nothing of those films. She’s had a number of DC voice roles including a recurring Justice League Unlimited run as Vixen / Mari McCabe. And, of course, Zoe in the Firefly verse. Lastly anyone remember her on the Angel series as Jasmine?

(10) ACONYTE. Asmodee is a leading global games publisher and distributor. Its game brands include Catan, Ticket to Ride, Pandemic, Arkham Horror, and Legend of the Five Rings. More recent hits have included the innovative fantasy card game KeyForge and the co-operative zombie survival missions of Dead of Winter.

Asmodee Entertainment has created their own fiction imprint — Aconyte, it will be publishing novels based on many of Asmodee’s best game properties. Aconyte are also actively pursuing licenses for third-party tie-in fiction, with the first of these at the contract stage. Aconyte will start a monthly publication schedule from early summer 2020, producing paperbacks and ebooks for the US, UK and export trade.

To helm the imprint, Asmodee has appointed Marc Gascoigne, lately publisher & MD of award-winning global scifi imprint Angry Robot. He’s hired assistant editor, Lottie Llewelyn-Wells, and publishing coordinator, Nick Tyler, to join him in new offices in Nottingham.

(11) PEAK GEEK. Vox suspects “Geek culture may never again be as all-consuming as it is right now”. “Avengers: Endgame and Game of Thrones make this moment feel like a series finale for geek pop culture too.”

…But if this moment in pop culture started around 10 years ago, it’s coming to some sort of peak now, as two massively beloved pop culture properties reach endpoints. And there’s a definite finality to it. Here’s the curious thing about this moment: So much of this geek culture apotheosis revolves around the question of which of our favorite fictional characters are going to die. Call it geekpocalypse now….

(12) PAST ITS PEAK. From Wisecrack — “Harry Potter & The Plague of Twitter: Why JK Rowling Should Leave Harry Alone.”

JK Rowling has been regularly updating the Harry Potter lore; not through more books, not through movies, but through twitter. Fans voraciously consume extra-textual canon on works like Harry Potter, Star Wars and much more. But does this desire for an all-encompassing knowledge of how fictional worlds tell us something about our own anxieties? In this Wisecrack Edition, we’ll dive in to the works of philosopher Martin Heidegger to discover why people are so consumed by the desire to understand the nitty gritty details of fictional worlds, and to how it reflects an essential element of our humanity.

(13) SHELVES FULL OF BOOKS. Laura Lee expounds on “Women’s Bookshelves and Clutter”.

I don’t have strong feelings about Marie Kondo and her theories of decluttering. I know a number of people who have found her “does this object spark joy” way of relating to stuff to be meaningful and if feeling overwhelmed by too many possessions is an issue for you then it might be just what the doctor ordered. I have no problem with Kondo giving this advice, take it or leave it…

I did, however, have some opinions on the Electric Lit article defending Kondo and decrying “bookishness.” The background is that in an episode of Kondo’s TV series she suggested that people get rid of books that do not “spark joy” and book lovers began to write think pieces about whether or not books are clutter. Some people had strong feelings on the subject.

Book buying, and book writing, have long been feminine activities. As I have pointed out here a number of times, in Victorian England female authors outsold their male counterparts, but their works were not deemed worthy of serious study and the memory of many once influential women has not found its way down to us. (A number of scholars are now trying to recover these “lost” works and bring them to our attention.) Books by women or which women appreciated have consistently been written off as fluffy, sentimental, non-intellectual and unimportant. If Egginton is correct, women were not only major consumers of popular literature, they were also creating “serious” libraries and archives to rival men’s, but their efforts, like their books, were denigrated.

It is interesting then to see a feminist writer contrasting the masculine “highly discriminating form of curated library collection” with the feminine “highly personalized, almost fannish, engagement with books.” Then following this with an argument that the feminized form of consumption led to the emotional engagement with middlebrow literature that book blogs now celebrate.

…Is it at all possible a century of being judged by the cleanliness of their homes, being told that this was more important than their intellects, and that their taste in literature is trivial might have colored their reactions to an authority suggesting their books might be clutter?

(14) COMING TO A BOIL. Here’s the new poster for GeyserCon, the 40th New Zealand National Convention happening in another six weeks:

(15) OUR MARCHING ORDERS. In “Timothy’s Hugo Picks”, Timothy the Talking Cat’s recommendations bear all the marks of a slate – because he put them there.

I’m going to come right out and say it: this is a slate. Vote for each of these in this order or else.

(16) NEUTRON LONGEVITY. Nature reports “Physicists close in on neutron puzzle” [PDF file].

Physicists are drawing nearer to answering a long-standing mystery of the Universe: how long a neutron lives. Neutrons are electrically neutral particles the nucleus of atoms.

Some neutrons are not bound up in atoms; these free-floating neutrons decay radioactively into other particles in minutes. But physicists can’t agree on precisely how long it takes a neutron to die. Using one laboratory approach, they measure the average neutron lifetime as 14 minutes 39 seconds. Using a different approach, they get 8 seconds longer!

Pinpointing the lifetime of a neutron is important for understanding how much hydrogen, helium and other light elements formed in the first few minutes after the Universe was born 13.8 billion years ago. 

(17) BEEN TO SEE THE DRAGON. Doctor Science is right, there aren’t too many eyewitness accounts like this — “A first-hand description of a dragon”.

The observations were made by the Chinese scholar Xie Zhaozhe (1567–1624)…

Obviously this account is extremely useful for writers of fantasy and science fiction. I don’t know if the (vast) Chinese literature contains any other first-person accounts of dragons, much less ones recorded by such a careful and specific observer. I’m pretty sure there are no good first-person descriptions from the other end of Eurasia.

Then there’s the question of what Xie Zhaozhe “actually” saw….

 (18) BEHIND THE SCENES WITH HALDEMAN. The Partially Examined Life podcast talks to one of the field’s greats: “Constellary Tales #7: Interview with Author Joe Haldeman”.

SFWA Grand Master Joe Haldeman takes Brian and Ken behind the scenes of his storied career in an exclusive interview. Among other conversation topics…

  • How “I of Newton” went from the page to The Twilight Zone
  • The unusual origins of Hugo Award–winning short story “Tricentennial”
  • Getting The Forever War published (and bootlegging the stage production)
  • Details about Joe’s new novel in the works (!!!)

(19) MAD, I TELL YOU. A TED-Ed presentation written and narrated by Silvia Moreno-Garcia: “Titan of terror: the dark imagination of H.P. Lovecraft.”

Dive into the stories of horror savant H.P. Lovecraft, whose fantastical tales, such as “The Call of Cthulhu,” created a new era of Gothic horror

Arcane books of forbidden lore, disturbing secrets in the family bloodline, and terrors so unspeakable the very thought of them might drive you mad. These have become standard elements in modern horror stories. But they were largely popularized by a single author: H.P. Lovecraft, whose name has become synonymous with the terror he inspired. Silvia Moreno-García dissects the “Lovecraftian” legacy.

[Thanks to Martin Morse Wooster, Paul Weimer, Carl Slaughter, Andrew Liptak, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Andrew Porter, JJ, Mlex, Cat Eldridge, ULTRAGOTHA, Doctor Science, Alan Baumler, Mike Kennedy, John King Tarpinian, John A Arkansawyer, and Chip Hitchcock for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Andrew.]

Pixel Scroll 11/6/18 Scroll it, Jake. It’s Pixeltown.

(1) KAIJU INSTANT CLASSIC. Adam Roberts spent the morning on a retelling of the story of Godzilla in the style of Pope’s Homer: The Godziliad.

It beginneth thus:

Book 1
Godzilla’s wrath, to Earth the direful spring
Of woes unnumber’d, heavenly goddess, sing!
What grudge could light the fierce atomic breath
That burnt so many citizens to death?
What move four mighty limbs to crush and tear
Whole city blocks and scatter them to air?

(2) STORYBOARDING PARTY. If you’d been at last weekend’s World Fantasy Convention you’d have seen a selection of original art from GoH Scott Edelman’s comics writing. He says, “I gave a docent tour for one hour during the con, and then talked endlessly about the pieces during the Art Reception.”

(3) DEADPOOL SAYS “FUDGE CANCER.” Why so restrained? Because charity will benefit from a cleaned-up re-release of Deadpool 2 — “‘Once Upon A Deadpool’: Ryan Reynolds (and Fred Savage) On Franchise’s PG-13 Plunge”.

All Fox wants for Christmas are 12 more days of Deadpool — that’s certainly one valid interpretation of the studio’s plan to revamp, rename and re-release the year’s biggest R-rated hit, Deadpool 2, as a PG-13 film called Once Upon A Deadpool. There’s more to it than that, however. Deadline has all the details about the studio’s unconventional plan — a plan that may have intriguing relevance when viewed through the prism of the Disney-Fox merger and the future of the red-hot Deadpool franchise.

First some of those details: Once Upon a Deadpool will have a limited-engagement that begins Dec. 12 and concludes on Christmas Eve, positioning it as a box-office play aimed at young teens on holiday break from school. The lion’s share of Once Upon Deadpool  is footage from Deadpool 2 that has been edited to meet PG-13 thresholds of violence and language. There’s also new footage in the form of a framing sequence that was conceived by Deadpool star Ryan Reynolds and writers Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick. Working with a small film crew, Reynolds and his cohorts filmed all the framing scenes in a single hectic day of guerrilla-style filmmaking.

There’s a major charity component to the limited-engagement release, too, as Reynolds explained to Deadline that for every ticket sold $1 will go to the audaciously named F-ck Cancer campaign, which will be temporarily renamed “Fudge Cancer” for the purpose of tie-in fundraising effort….

(4) VOYNICH SPECULATIONS. Monica Valentinelli has a theory: “Why I Believe the Voynich Manuscript was Created by a Woman”.

I have a facsimile of the folios, and after reviewing all the theories I’ve realized the Voynich Manuscript may have been written by a woman.

For background, the vellum has been carbon-dated to the early 1400s, and illustrations potentially place its author in Northern Italy. Okay, so what was happening in Northern Italy at that time? The Italian Renaissance was flourishing despite the long shadow of the Holy Roman Empire and the established patriarchy. While it’s true that belief in witches during this time period was present, primarily among peasants and commoners, keep in mind the hysteria not peak until much later following the publication of the international best-seller Malleus Maleficarum in 1486.

Why write an untranslatable book about women’s health during the Italian Renaissance? One that has no overtly Christian or Catholic-specific symbols in it, either? On the one hand, you have an age of discovery and a period of enlightenment. On the other, you have the establishment of the Church and its political might. In between, however, you also have the birth of an Italian feminist movement that began in the late 14th century. Several Italian women of privilege were not only literate, they also taught at university, published books, and participated in the Italian Renaissance as thinkers of their age. Dorotea Bucca was a professor of health and medicine in Bologna, for example, for forty years from 1390-1430. As another example, Christine di Pizan challenged the idea that women were inferior to men by publishing the City of Ladies in 1404.

This, dear reader, points to my “who”. Who would be interested in writing a book that emphasized women’s health?…

(5) SKEIN POWER. Mary Robinette Kowal exercises hypnotic powers in this tweet –

(6) LLAMA LLAMA DUCK. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] Did you get your flu shot yet this year? If not, stop reading this and go get it… but even when you do, each year’s shot is tailored to provide protection from a few strains of the influenza virus that scientific consensus says are probably going to be the ones going around. And sometimes they are wrong. Ars Technica has a story about antibodies that don’t have to be tailored to specific influenza strains and they depend on, of all things, llamas (“Llama ‘nanobodies’ might grant universal flu protection”).

Llama antibodies are different from ours. Our antibodies are a mix of two pairs of proteins, heavy and light, wrapped around each other. Llamas, camels, and sharks all use only a pair of heavy chains. Because they are smaller, they can wedge into molecular crevices that our larger antibodies can’t access. Perhaps that’s why scientists based at The Scripps Institute decided to use them as a basis for flu protection.

[…] Current flu vaccines generate antibodies to the head of the hemagglutinin protein [on the flue virus], which is highly variable. This is why we need to get a new shot every year: it ensures we make antibodies that bind to and counteract the strain in circulation that year. Broadly neutralizing antibodies that recognize all forms of hemagglutinin have been made and tested, but they don’t combat [some types of] influenza [at all], and they don’t last for very long in our upper airways.

[…] Each [of four llama] antibod[ies] neutralized a group of flu viruses, not just one; but the groups of viruses did not overlap. So the scientists made a composite antibody by fusing parts of different llama antibodies with a human antibody base (the parts are termed “nanobodies” and targeted two different regions on the hemagglutinin stem). In a test tube, the resulting fusion antibodies could neutralize flu strains that neither of their single constituents could alone. When given to mice intravenously a day before the mice were infected with flu, the fusion antibodies were protective against a panel of 60 different flu viruses. And when administered to the mice intranasally a month before infection, they were also able to confer protection.

(7) DESK SET. In “In Disney’s Golden Age, a Modernist Pioneer Designed the Perfect Animator’s Desk” by Ben Marks in Collectors Weekly, Marks looks at the animator’s desks designed by Kem Weber in 1939 and how they enabled Disney animators to do good work for nearly 50 years.

As a filmmaker, Disney always had big plans. As a builder, though, Walt Disney may have been even more ambitious, spending much of 1938 and ’39 consulting with his new studio’s architect, Kem Weber. Together, they created a work environment that was designed expressly for animators. Weber’s low-rise buildings, which quickly filled with the company’s roughly 800 employees, were sited to maximize northern exposure, ensuring optimal natural light for Disney’s small army of animators. Even the birch plywood desks these animators sat at were customized for their tasks, whether they were sketching storyboards, executing the entry-level grunt work of the “inbetweener,” or painting backgrounds.

(8) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • November 6, 1981 Time Bandits was released

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and JJ.]

  • November 6, 1907 – Catherine Crook de Camp, Writer, Editor, Teacher, and Member of First Fandom. Most of her fiction, nonfiction, and anthology editing work was done in collaboration with her husband of 60 years, L. Sprague de Camp, but she was also a member of SFWA and an author in her own right, producing a number of genre short stories and poems, and editing the anthology Creatures of the Cosmos. She attended dozens of SF conventions, and in later years was Guest of Honor at a significant number of them. One of the people to whom Heinlein dedicated his novel Friday, she was nominated for a World Fantasy Special Award for Professional Achievement, and honored with the Raymond Z. Gallun Award for outstanding contributions to the genre of science fiction.
  • November 6, 1910 – Sarban (John William Wall), Diplomat and Writer from England whose writing career was early and brief, but he is notable for his 1952 novel The Sound of His Horn, one of the earliest alt-history stories describing a world where the Nazis won World War II, 10 years before Philip K. Dick’s The Man in the High Castle.
  • November 6, 1947 – Carolyn Seymour, 71, Actor from England who is likely to be best known to genre fans for her roles as Romulans in episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation; she also played a member of an alien race in another TNG episode, and a holodeck character in Voyager. Other genre roles in TV series include a main role in the BBC’s Survivors, a recurring role on Quantum Leap, and guest appearances on Babylon 5, The Greatest American Hero, Otherworld, Alfred Hitchcock Presents, The (new) Twilight Zone, Tales from the Darkside, and Blue Thunder, parts in the films The Return of the Man from U.N.C.L.E. and Mortal Kombat: Annihilation, and numerous voice roles in animated series and videogames, including Star Wars, Mass Effect, and Gears of War.
  • November 6, 1948 – Michael Dirda, 70, Pulitzer Prize-winning Writer, Journalist, and Critic, currently reviewing books for The Washington Post. He has numerous connections to genre, including providing the Introduction to the omnibus of Asimov’s Foundation series, an essay on Gene Wolfe in the Nebula Awards Showcase 2014 anthology, an Appreciation of Elizabeth Hand in the Readercon 20 Souvenir Book, and a ghost story in All Hallows magazine. On Conan Doyle; or, The Whole Art of Storytelling, won an Edgar Award for Best Critical / Biographical Works. Also worth bringing to your attention is Browsings: A Year of Reading, Collecting, and Living with Books, which y’all should naturally be interested in reading.
  • November 6, 1955 – Dr. Catherine Asaro, 63, Physicist, Mathematcian, Writer, Poet, Dancer, Singer, and Fan who started out with her own fanzine in the early 90s  After having one short work published in 1993, she burst onto the SFF scene in 1995 with Primary Inversion, a Compton Crook finalist and the first of at least 16 novels and many shorter works in what was to become the acclaimed Skolian War Saga. Her works have accumulated numerous Hugo and Nebula nominations, and she has taken two of those lucite trophies home. She is popular with fans, and has been Guest of Honor at nearly two dozen conventions (and JJ caught her working enthusiastically at the New Zealand in 2020 promotional table at Worldcon 76).
  • November 6, 1961 – Kim Huett, 57, Writer, Editor, and Fan from Australia who has been editor of, and contributor to, numerous fanzines and apazines, as well as occasional posts for File 770. Although he has mostly gafiated from fandom, he blogs at Doctor Strangemind about forgotten stories of fantastic literature and those who have written it.
  • November 6, 1966 – Peter DeLuise, 52, Actor, Writer, Director, and Producer. After early genre appearances in Solarbabies, Children of the Night, and Bloodsuckers, and guest roles on TV series Supernatural, Highlander, Andromeda, SeaQuest DSV, Third Rock from the Sun, The New Outer Limits, and Stargate SG-1, he began working as producer, writer, director, and creative consultant for SG-1, and went on to do the same for Stargate Atlantis and Stargate Universe. Among his numerous other directing credits are the series jPod and the fantasy film Beyond Sherwood Forest.
  • November 6, 1970 – Ethan Hawke, 48, Oscar-nominated Actor, Writer, and Director who is best known to genre fans for lead roles in the Hugo- and Saturn-nominated Gattaca and Predestination, the adaptation of Heinlein’s “All You Zombies –”, as well as The Woman in the Fifth, Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets, Explorers, and Sinister (his scenes in the Total Recall remake ended up on the cutting room floor).
  • November 6, 1971 – P. Djèlí Clark, 47, Historian, Critic and Afro-Caribbean-American Writer of speculative fiction who has produced numerous works of short fiction in the last seven years, including the particularly acclaimed novella The Black God’s Drums and the novelette “A Dead Djinn in Cairo”. His work has been published in Strange Horizons, FIYAH, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Tor.com, and various anthologies.
  • November 6, 1972 – Rebecca Romijn, 46, Actor who played Mystique in the X-Men films, but my favorite role for her is as Eve Baird, The Guardian of the Library that crosses all realities in The Librarians series. She also was a regular on Eastwick, yet another riff the John Updike novel about modern-day witches, she voiced Lois Lane in the animated The Death of Superman, and appeared in the Rollerball remake and S1m0ne. She has been cast as Number One in the second season of Star Trek: Discovery.
  • November 6, 1972 – Thandie Newton, 46, Actor and Producer who has been playing a main role in the Saturn-winning TV series Westworld, for which she also received a Saturn nomination. She has also appeared in genre films Solo: A Star Wars Story, Mission: Impossible 2, The Chronicles of Riddick, the Hugo finalist Interview with the Vampire, Beloved, Vanishing on 7th Street, and 2012: We Were Warned.

(10) COMICS SECTION.

  • Half Full concocts a holiday nightmare from leftover pumpkins.

(11) ANOTHER GHOST OF HALLOWEEN PAST. Here’s a relic. The episode of Route 66 aired October 26, 1962 featured guest stars Boris Karloff, Peter Lorre, and Lon Chaney, Jr.

As first broadcast on October 26th, 1962, here’s the famous Halloween episode of ROUTE 66, complete with original network commercials, just as it was seen a half-century ago.

 

(12) WET AND WILD. Apparently, it takes two to tango; if you tango in a swamp (Deadline:‘Swamp Thing’ Finds Its Swamp Thing, Sets Derek Mears & Andy Bean For Roles”). The “DC Universe” streaming service is casting two actors to play the titular character in Swamp Thing—one wearing the suit and one not.

DC Universe’s upcoming Swamp Thing series is continuing to cast up, setting Power‘s Andy Bean to play biologist Alec Holland, who in the DC mythology as created by Len Wein and Bernie Wrightson transforms into the titular creature. Derek Mears, who played another horror icon Jason Voorhees in the Friday the 13th reboot, will play the bog monster.

The streaming series, which hails from James Wan’s Atomic Monster in association with Warner Bros Television, is set to premiere in 2019 on the DC Universe digital subscription service.

(13) MARTIAN CHRONICLE. Did you know that Google has now mapped Mars? And more than that, Google Mars performs an assortment of special searches – like the one that pinpoints where all the spacecraft on the planet’s surface currently are.

(14) DOG TREK. “Live Long And Paws-Per”  came out in 2016 but it’s news to me!

(15) FASHION STATEMENT. This could be the perfect gift for someone you know: Star Trek Airlock t-shirt.

(16) WORM RUNNERS. NPR inquires: “These Flatworms Can Regrow A Body From A Fragment. How Do They Do It And Could We?” Chip Hitchcock comments, “Older fans may remember The Worm Runners Digest, a mix of oddball humor and serious articles about the possibility that memory could be transmitted by consuming RNA — since disproved, but the basis of Niven’s ‘The Fourth Profession.’ Now flatworms might show us something usable.”

Other animals like starfish, salamanders and crabs can regrow a tail or a leg. Some planarians, on the other hand, can regrow their entire bodies — even their heads, which only a few animals can do.

Key to planarians’ regenerative ability are powerful cells called pluripotent stem cells, which make up one-fifth of their bodies and can grow into every new body part. Humans only have pluripotent stem cells during the embryonic stage, before birth. After that, we mostly lose our ability to sprout new organs.

(17) POWERING UP. Beyond “slow glass”: “How the humble lamp-post could help power our cities”. A new material can be both structural and photoelectric; another doesn’t require the processing that silicon does.

New materials certainly show promise. Cement mixtures made from power station waste could turn buildings in to batteries, for example.

These potassium-geopolymetric (KGP) composites are cheaper than ordinary cement and can store electricity. A six-metre tall lamp-post made from KGP and equipped with a small solar panel could hold enough energy to power itself throughout the evening, researchers say.

(18) DAM NUISANCES. Researchers say “Large hydropower dams ‘not sustainable’ in the developing world”; based on a paper here).

A new study says that many large-scale hydropower projects in Europe and the US have been disastrous for the environment.

Dozens of these dams are being removed every year, with many considered dangerous and uneconomic.

But the authors fear that the unsustainable nature of these projects has not been recognised in the developing world.

Thousands of new dams are now being planned for rivers in Africa and Asia….

The problem, say the authors of this new paper, is that governments were blindsided by the prospect of cheap electricity without taking into account the full environmental and social costs of these installations.

More than 90% of dams built since the 1930s were more expensive than anticipated. They have damaged river ecology, displaced millions of people and have contributed to climate change by releasing greenhouse gases from the decomposition of flooded lands and forests.

…”Large hydropower doesn’t have a future, that is our blunt conclusion,” said Prof Moran.”

(19) MR. DATA, WOULD IT BE POSSIBLE? More foaming at the mouth about this drive-by asteroid: “Scientists say mysterious ‘Oumuamua’ object could be an alien spacecraft”.

Now a pair of Harvard researchers are raising the possibility that Oumuamua is an alien spacecraft. As they say in a paper to be published Nov. 12 in The Astrophysical Journal Letters, the object “may be a fully operational probe sent intentionally to Earth vicinity by an alien civilization.”

The researchers aren’t claiming outright that aliens sent Oumuamua. But after a careful mathematical analysis of the way the interstellar object sped up as it shot past the sun, they say Oumuamua could be a spacecraft pushed through space by light falling on its surface — or, as they put it in the paper, a “lightsail of artificial origin.”

Who would have sent such a spacecraft our way — and why?

“It is impossible to guess the purpose behind Oumuamua without more data,” Avi Loeb, chairman of Harvard’s astronomy department and a co-author of the paper, told NBC News MACH in an email. If Oumuamua is a lightsail, he added, one possibility is that it was floating in interstellar space when our solar system ran into it, “like a ship bumping into a buoy on the surface of the ocean.”

…But Loeb called the conjecture “purely scientific and evidence-based,” adding, “I follow the maxim of Sherlock Holmes: When you have excluded the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.”

(20) DINOCHROME. BBC discusses “Dinosaur world ‘more colourful than we thought'”.

…”We think that camouflage is one of the main drivers.”

Researchers detected the same two pigments that are present in colourful birds eggs in a group of dinosaurs called eumaniraptorans.

Comparisons with the eggs of modern birds suggest the clawed predator Deinonychus laid a blue egg with brown blotches.

The birdlike feathered Oviraptor had eggs that were a dark blue-green, like an emu.

(21) VIDEO OF THE DAY. In “Dr. Evil Runs for Congress” on YouTube, Dr. Evil showed up on Fallon and says he is running for Congress on the Eviltarian Party to “Make America Evil Again.”

[Thanks to Bruce Arthurs, John King Tarpinian, JJ, Olav Rokne, Cat Eldridge, Martin Morse Wooster, Chip Hitchcock, Mike Kennedy, Carl Slaughter, Brian Z.. and Andrew Porter as the Beaver for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Rick Moen.]