Pixel Scroll 11/3/20 I Sing The Pixel Electric, The Files Of Those I Love Scroll Me And I Scroll Them

(1) UK LOCKDOWN BEGINS. “England is going into a month (at least) of hard lockdown,” says Jonathan Cowie – see details at SF2 Concatenation. About that sff/science news publication Cowie reassures:

We have enough articles in and thirty or so book reviews in hand for a spring edition of  SF² Concatenation in January.

If lockdown ends as planned in December, then there’ll also be a pre-Christmas Best of  ‘Futures’ short story.  If not then we’ll roll it into the Spring edition.

(2) ISS AT 20. [Item by Daniel Dern.] Today’s (Tues Nov 3) Science section of the New York Times is mostly about the International Space Station, celebrating “20 years of…”, including a two-page spread with like a dozen short items, three of which are by Mary Robinette Kowal. It looks like these are reprinted.

Here’s the collective link.

And here’s Kowal’s trio:

Andrew Porter also sent a note:

If you can access this, gorgeous photos and historical background. Note to editors: the photos, being from NASA, can be used with credit. “How the Space Station Became a Base to Launch Humanity’s Future “ at the New York Times.

(3) NEW TAFF REPORT PUBLISHED. John Coxon’s 2011 Trans-Atlantic Fan Fund trip report is now available. Covers his perambulations through Canada and the USA, and attending Renovation (the 69th World Science Fiction Convention).

  • In electronic form here (£5.00)
  • Or as a physical book from Lulu (£20.00)

(4) FUTURE WALK. “Cory Doctorow on his drive to inspire positive futures” – an interview at Polygon.

We’ve been talking a lot at Polygon about whether it’s possible for science fiction to model a positive future. Your earliest science fiction books felt utopian, but your recent books, especially the Little Brother series,is much more cynical and concerned about America. Has the way you think about technology and the possibility for a positive future changed since your early books?

I don’t know, Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom is definitely a complicated utopia, because it supposes that a non-monetary mechanism for allocating resources would just become money again, right? That it would just turn into another unequal rich-get-richer society. So it is, in some ways, a critique of the utopian idea of reputation economics.

Walkaway is about utopianism, in the sense that it’s a book in which crises are weathered. One of the things I recognized when I went out on tour with that book and started talking to people about it is that utopianism is not the assumption that nothing will go wrong. Being an engineer who builds a system on the assumption that it won’t break doesn’t make you an optimist, it makes you an asshole. That’s the thing that makes you decide we don’t need lifeboats for the Titanic.

Instead, being hopeful and utopian means believing that when things break down, we can rebuild them. One of the things we’re living through right now is people acting as though we have lost, as a species, the ability to weather big global crises, like we want to build the pyramids with Egyptian technology or something. Like it’s the practice of a lost civilization that we will never recover. To be an optimist, or to be utopian, is to believe that we can rise to challenges.

Not that challenges will be vanquished once and for all — even if you built a stable system where everything worked well, that system would be subjected to exogenous shocks….

(5) THE COMMONWEALTH, ER, FEDERATION OF PLANETS. The Royal Mail is taking pre-orders for their Star Trek Special Stamps.

Our Star Trek Special Stamps and limited edition collectibles celebrate classic characters from the ground-breaking TV series and big-screen blockbusters.

The Royal Mail blurb says of this panel —

Twelve new illustrations celebrate British actors who have boldly explored the final frontier as Starfleet captains or crew members.

(6) HEARD THAT VOICE BEFORE. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] SNL alum Darrell Hammond, who does a GREAT impression of Sean Connery, sent out a tweet with a highlight reel of his Connery dueling on Jeopardy! with Will Farrell as Alex Trebek.

(7) SESSIONS OBIT. John Sessions, an English actor whose genre credits include Gormenghast, The Adventures of Pinocchio, Dr Who, Outlander, and the audiobook versions of Asterix, died November 2. He was 67.

In the 2014 Doctor Who episode “Mummy on the Orient Express,” he provided the voice of Gus, a sentient computer controlling the titular train. He also co-created and starred in the cult ’90s comedy series Stella Street and made TV appearances in Skins, Outlander, and Friday Night Dinner.

His impeccable impression of his late friend Alan Rickman, which you can watch here, proved especially popular over the years.

(8) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

  • November 3, 1967 — “I, Mudd” first aired as the eighth episode of the second season of the original Trek series. Written by Stephen Kandel from a story by Gene Roddenberry, it was directed by Marc Daniels. It reprised the character of Harry Mudd as played Roger C. Carmel who first appeared in “Mudd’s Women”, a season one episode. Although Kandel is the credited writer on the episode, though David Gerrold performed an uncredited extensive rewrite. Carmel was rumored to have been planned to reprise the character on Star Trek: The Next Generation but died before that could happen. He did voice the character in “Mudd’s Passion”, an episode of the animated series. 

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]

  • Born November 3, 1921 Charles Bronson. He didn’t do he a lot of genre acting but I’ve got him in One Step Beyond as Yank Dawson in “The Last Round” and he’s in The Twilight Zone in “Two” as The Man opposite Elizabeth Montgomery as The Women. He was also in Master of The World which is based on the Verne novels Robur the Conqueror and its sequel Master of the World. (Died 2003.) (CE) 
  • Born November 3, 1925 – Monica Hughes, O.C.  Twenty novels, half as many shorter stories, for us, not counting three dozen children’s books of which some are SF; various others.  Dress designer in London and Bulawayo.  Codebreaker in the Women’s Royal Naval Service.  Gardener.  Beachcomber.  Phoenix Award, Hal Clement Award, Vicky Metcalf Award, Alberta Ross Annett Award.  Order of Canada.  (Died 2003) [JH]
  • Born November 3, 1929 Neal Barrett, Jr. Heavily nominated for many awards including a number of Hugos but he never won any. He was Toastmaster at LoneStarCon 2.  He was prolific writing over two dozen novels and some fifty pieces of short fiction including a novelization of the first Dredd film. As good much of his genre work was, I think his finest, best over the top work was the Wiley Moss series which led off with Pink Vodka Blues. He’s generously available at usual digital suspects. (Died 2014.) (CE)
  • Born November 3, 1933 – Jack Harness.  Among much else he was the Fan With Too Many Names; Scribe JH, Jxtn Muir, Hawkman, the Golux; these bred variations, like “Wheet-wheet”.  They all had origins.  He’d been Hawkman in the Chicon III (20th Worldcon) Masquerade.  Thurber’s Golux in The Thirteen Clocks wore an indescribable hat, Jack wore indescribable shirts.  He dreamed up card games, fanart, cooking.  For a while LASFS (L.A. Science Fantasy Society) played strange poker; I believe he invented Soft Shoe, where you could shuffle off to bluff a low.  Once he sat staring upward so long that other players demanded to know what he was doing; he answered “I’m worshiping the ceiling”; this was put into song.  The LASFS Secretary has been the Scribe ever since his term; he wrote, not the minutes, but the Menace of the LASFS; this too stuck.  I could go on, but I won’t.  (Died 2001) [JH]

  • Born November 3, 1933 Jeremy Brett. Still my favorite Holmes of all time. He played him in four Granada TV series from 1984 to 1994 in a total of 41 stories. One web source said he was cast as Bond at one point, but turned the part down, feeling that playing 007 would harm his career. Lazenby was cast instead. (Died 1995.) (CE)
  • Born November 3, 1942 Martin Cruz Smith, 78. Best remembered for Gorky Park, the Russian political thriller, but he’s also done a number of  genre novels in The Indians Won (alternate history), Gypsy in Amber and Canto for a Gypsy (PI with psychic powers) and two wonderful pulpish novels, The Inca Death Squad and Code Name: Werewolf
  • Born November 3, 1946 – Kathryn Davis, 74.  Two novels, four shorter stories for us.  Six other novels.  Janet Heidinger Kafka PrizeMorton Dauwen Zaubel AwardLannan Award for Fiction.  “When you are lost in the uncanny woods of this astonishing, double-hinged book [Duplex], just keep reading, and remember to look up.  Kathryn Davis knows right where you are”, NY Times 20 Sep 13.  [JH]
  • Born November 3, 1956 Kevin Murphy, 64. Best known as the voice and puppeteer of Tom Servo for nine years on the Mystery Science Theater 3000. He was also the writer for the show for eleven years. I’m surprised the series was never nominated for a Hugo in the Long Form or Shot Form. Does it not qualify? (CE) 
  • Born November 3, 1957 – Dan Hollifield, 63. Editor of Aphelion.  Two short stories there, collection Tales from the Mare Inebrium.  Has read The Past Through TomorrowIshmaelRainbow MarsOne Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Jane Austen, and Dickens.  [JH]
  • Born November 3, 1963 Brian Henson, 57. Son of Jim Henson, he co-owns and runs the Jim Henson Company. Can we all agree that The Happytime Murders should never have been done? Thought so. Wash it out of your consciousness with Muppet Treasure Island or perhaps The Muppet Christmas Carol. If you want something darker, he was a puppeteer on The Witches, and the chief puppeteer on Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. And he voices Hoggle in Labyrinth. (CE) 
  • Born November 3, 1968 – Janni Lee Simner, 52.  Seven novels, thirty shorter stories. “Five Reasons Not to Self-Publish” in Reflection’s Edge, “Folkroots” about Icelandic folklore in Realms of Fantasy after Thief Eyes.  Judy Goddard Award.  Guest of Honor at CopperCon 31, TusCon 41.  [JH]
  • Born November 3, 1995 – Kendall Jenner, 25.  This top model and Kardashian relative wrote two SF novels (with a sister and ghostwriters).  The amazing astounding planetary startling thing is that she did it at all; hard even for us to imagine in 1939.  [JH]

(10) COMICS SECTION.

  • Wondermark’s entry “In which Armageddon awaits” illustrates a plan to unite humanity. But we are dealing with humans, after all. [H/t to David Langford.]
  • The Far Side often has thoughts I’ve never thunk before – this one’s about flying saucers.

(11) PHILADELPHIA FREEDOM. In “Honest Trailers: National Treasure” on YouTube, the Screen Junkies say if you like historical mysteries, National Treasure “places the setting on ‘easy’ for a scavenger hunt anyone can figure out –even kids and Americans!”

(12) PREFERRED FUTURE. Sf writer Ariel S. Winter’s CrimeReads article “In A Pandemic World, We’re All Engaging In Speculative Fiction” says the speculative future we’re thinking about now is one where we can see our friends, not socially distance, and not wear face masks.

… “Wearing surgical face masks was [Laughton’s] least favorite part of being in a hospital. He hated the warm, damp feeling of his own breath coating his cheeks and nose, but it was the law.”

When I wrote that scene, the idea that I would be legally required to wear my own face mask in the months before the novel came out was impossible. The future I was writing towards was focused on humanoid, self-aware, artificial intelligences rather than the fictional pandemic that had given rise to the AI’s power. Artificial intelligence was the part of my novel that I envisioned for the future, not a plague.

While all fiction writing could be called a thought experiment, writing about the future is a special kind of thought experiment that doesn’t just ask how particular events affect particular people, but how collective historic events affect the way all people live. If one thing changes—technology, biology, history—what does life look like then?

(13) REACTIONS PREFERRED. In “Honest Game Trailers:  Amnesia:  Rebirth,” Fandom Games says this is a game for gamers who like solving “puzzles prepared for learning-impaired monkeys” with characters who chug far too much laudanum.

[Thanks to SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, John King Tarpinian, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ. Cat Eldridge, John Hertz, Lise Andreasen, Daniel Dern, Michael Toman, John Coxon, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day johnstick.]

No TAFF Race For 2021

Trans-Atlantic Fan Fund administrators Johan Anglemark, Geri Sullivan and Mike Lowrey say “After much thought and consideration, [we] have come to the conclusion that we need to postpone the 2021 TAFF race due to the coronavirus pandemic.”

The TAFF race for 2021 was intended to go East to West, from Europe to DisCon III. They will now wait until 2022, and instead have a race from Europe to Chicon 8, the 80th Worldcon.

The administrators explained the reasoning behind the delay:

The general expectation of expert epidemiologists is that the pandemic will continue to rage well into 2021. For example, the British government has announced that they expect severe restrictions, including the bans on public events, to be in place for another half year. We think that DisCon III likely will be one of the first large conventions after the pandemic has been successfully beaten back or we have learnt how to live with it. Our concern is with having a TAFF race in the midst of the pandemic, without any physical conventions to attend. It would be much more difficult to enthuse people and get them to vote and to donate.

Postponing the race reduces the uncertainty for the eventual westbound TAFF delegate, and it greatly increases the probability that Michael Lowrey — this year’s TAFF winner — will get to take his postponed trip first.

“We don’t want to increase the inventory of TAFF delegates waiting to travel,” say the administrators. “And it’s not just TAFF and Mike Lowrey. Fandom has two more fan fund delegates waiting to take their trips: Alison Scott (GUFF) and Erin Underwood (DUFF). We think there will be a lot more excitement for another race once we start having in-person conventions again.”

[Based on a press release.]

New Volume from Ansible Editions Completes Bob Shaw Collection

Slow Pint Glass, the final volume of Bob Shaw’s collected fanwriting compiled by Rob Jackson and David Langford for Ansible Editions, is available today as a free download in multiple formats at the Trans-Atlantic Fan Fund website (where they hope you’ll make a little donation to the fund if you please.) Find it here.

The cover art is by Jim Barker, a July 2020 reworking of his memorial piece for Bob Shaw first published in Tyne Capsule (March 2015; TAFF ebook September 2019).

Slow Pint Glass contains 167,000 words of Bob Shaw’s other fan and fan-adjacent writing not already included in The Enchanted Duplicator (1954 with Walt Willis; much reprinted; TAFF ebook May 2015), The Serious Scientific Talks (TAFF ebook November 2019) and The Full Glass Bushel (TAFF ebook June 2020). Together these volumes represent Shaw’s complete fanwriting.

And Langford’s Introduction shows what fans will get with Slow Pint Glass:

Most of the humorists for which Bob shows admiration in the articles that follow – Patrick Campbell, Stephen Leacock, S.J. Perelman, James Thurber, Mark Twain – cultivated an air of bemusement at the vagaries of the weird world we live in. This was an attitude that Bob himself could always carry off brilliantly. What other writer, struggling with deadlines, would find himself fatally distracted by a noisy invasion of hot air balloons? Or be a fascinated eye-witness on the utterly memorable night when Brian Aldiss broke the bed? Or, in a perfectly ordinary visit to the loo at an SF convention, become entangled in the embarrassing toils of the Penis Fly Trap? See “The Writer’s Year”, “Once Upon a Tyne” and “Wetfoot in the Head” respectively.

[Thanks to David Langford for the story.]

Bob Madle’s 100th Birthday
— A Request

Bob Madle (left) and Curt Phillips (right) in 2019.

By Curt Phillips: Bob Madle will celebrate his 100th birthday on June 2, 2020. Originally there was to be a fairly lavish birthday party at Bob’s home in Rockville, MD, but now for obvious reasons that can’t happen. So I have a favor to ask of every Fan reading this message, no matter where you are. Would you please join me in sending Bob Madle a birthday card?

Bob was one of the original members of the fandom we’re all part of today, and is almost the last living link we have with our earliest history. He was an original member of the Philadelphia SF Society and the Science Fiction League. He was at the 1936 Philadelphia SF Conference, and was at the first Worldcon in 1939. He served in WWII, came home and became a specialty SF book dealer and still operates that business. He wrote the column Inside Science Fiction for the Columbia pulps in the 50’s, was the TAFF delegate in 1957, and was for many years a fixture in convention dealer’s rooms everywhere. He’s a very knowledgeable and passionate science fiction fan and nearly all of his contemporaries are gone now. Please join me in sending Bob a birthday card for his 100th birthday, just to let him know that Fandom remembers and appreciates his lifetime of devotion to science fiction. Bob is a good friend whom I last saw about a year ago when I visited him in Rockville, and I deeply wish that I could be there in person to wish him a happy birthday this year. I would love it if the Post Office delivers a sack full of birthday cards to his home this year, and that’s why I’m asking your help. Please take a moment to find a birthday card, or write a note, and drop it in the mail to:

Robert A. Madle
4406 Bestor Drive
Rockville, MD 20853-2137
Tel: (301) 460-4712

Bob doesn’t have an email address, and doesn’t use a computer so an old fashioned birthday card is the way to go. It will be very easy for each of you to let this request slip by, but I’m asking you to help make Bob’s 100th birthday a little happier by sending that card or note.

And please help spread the word to every fan and fannish group you know. No matter what your fannish interests are, no matter what area of fandom you might inhabit, comics fan, Star Trek fan, gamer, filker, cosplayer, fanzine fan, convention fan, or a book & magazine collector; it all traces back to the fandom of the 1930’s and Bob Madle is right at the heart of it. He was there in the beginning and he’s still here with us. This may be your only chance to ever tell him “thanks” for helping to get Fandom going and for helping to keep it alive for all of us today.

Please copy this request to any fans or fannish groups you can think of. Convention mailing lists, clubs, what have you. This is a once in a lifetime event that we all can share in.  If you live outside the US and don’t think you can get a card in the mail in time, you can also email me your greetings for Bob which I’ll print out and promptly mail to him.

Curt Phillips — Absarka_prime@comcast.net

My personal thanks to all who help celebrate the 100th birthday of our friend, Bob Madle.

Shredded Orange TAFFeta: A Journal of the Plague Year

By Michael J. “Orange Mike” Lowrey: As the 2020 TAFF delegate, I was booked to begin next week with Fantastika 2020, the Swecon (Swedish national SF/F convention), then going on to Turku and Helsinki in Finland; Warsaw, Katowice and Krakow in Poland, and Madrid and Barcelona, before carrying on to London, parts unknown in the UK, and eventually Birmingham for Eastercon (the British national con). Less than 24 hours ago, I posted a defiant determination to be fandom’s delegate across the Great Water.

Now Fantastika has been cancelled/postponed, and Eastercon may follow. All the meetings and stayovers and gatherings in between? They may be banned, or fans may simply consider it prudent to avoid such assemblies for now.  

I am sorry if anybody perceived my previous attitude as one of irresponsibility; I thought of it rather as steadfast determination to fulfill the obligation I had undertaken to serve as fandom’s ambassador. I had all these invites from eager fans (they FELT like they were younger and more enthusiastic than the Old Fans and Tired I usually hang with) in places like Helsinki and Katowice and Barcelona, boldly seizing a chance to connect with the broader fannish world. I was looking forward to crashing on sofas in Krakow and Madrid and Turku. And now….

My heart is breaking as I face the probability that all this planning, all this enthusiasm, will prove to have been for naught. I am hoping that something can be salvaged from the wreckage, and in the meantime I thank all of fandom for their input, even those who criticized me most harshly.

Jeanne Gomoll Publishes Her TAFF Report

Jeanne Gomoll has released her TAFForensic Report: A cold-case investigation – about her journey to the UK as a TAFF delegate over three decades ago.

She told Facebook readers today:

As winner of the 1987 Trans-Atlantic Fan Fund (TAFF) Race, I traveled for 3 weeks in England, Scotland and Ireland, visiting with UK science fiction fans and attending the 45th world science fiction convention, Conspiracy 87, in Brighton. This is my much-belated trip report — written and published 33 years after I returned home, reconstructed from audio tapes and photographs. Highlights include tales of my convention experiences, visits with Chuck Harris, Vincent Clarke, Walt Willis, James White, David Langford and Greg and Linda Pickersgill.

The report can be ordered through Lulu. Page count: 96 pages. All proceeds of this publication will be donated to TAFF

  • Printed version (with B&W photos) $15; Order paperback here.
  • PDF version (with color photos) $8.99. Order PDF here.

[Thanks to JJ for the story.]

Pixel Scroll 1/23/20 No-One Expects The Scrollish Pixelation!

(1) THE DOCTOR IS STILL IN. Entertainment Weekly confirms “Doctor Who star Jodie Whittaker will play time traveler for at least one more season”.

… “I’ve seen loads of fan art, which I always love,” she says. “But it’s never been that great for me to immerse myself in noise that you can’t control, good or bad. I think both are a rabbit hole that you shouldn’t necessarily go down. We know that we work really hard for the show to be the best it can be in this moment. Once it’s out in the ether, how people feel, in a way, is kind of irrelevant.”

But Whittaker isn’t going anywhere. The length of time an actor has played the Doctor has varied over the years — back in the ’70s and ’80s, Tom Baker’s Fourth Doctor piloted the TARDIS for seven seasons; in the aughts, Christopher Eccleston’s Ninth Doctor survived just one. So, will Whittaker return for a third run of shows? “Yes, I’m doing another season,” she confirms. “That might be a massive exclusive that I’m not supposed to say, but it’s unhelpful for me to say [I don’t know] because it would be a massive lie! [Laughs] I absolutely adore it. At some point, these shoes are going to be handed on, but it’s not yet. I’m clinging on tight!”

(2) GUINAN. Patrick Stewart, while appearing on The View, extended an invitation to host Whoopi Goldberg to appear in Picard’s second season. See 4-minutue video here. Stewart said —

“I’m here with a formal invitation, and it’s for you, Whoopi.  Alex Kurtzman, who is the senior executive producer of Star Trek: Picard, and all his colleagues, of which I am one, want to invite you into the second season.”

The crowd delivered a standing ovation as Goldberg and Stewart hugged, and Goldberg replied, “Yes, yes, yes!” 

(3) THE PEOPLE ALL RIDE IN A WORMHOLE IN THE GROUND. The New York Post tells readers “Here’s where to get ‘Star Trek: Picard’ MetroCards featuring Patrick Stewart”.

“Star Trek: Picard” is beaming to a subway station near you.

For three weeks starting Thursday, when the show premieres on CBS All Access, the series will be promoted on special MetroCards available at six MTA stations in Manhattan.

In the drama, Sir Patrick Stewart, 79, reprises his “Star Trek: The Next Generation” role of Jean-Luc Picard, the retired Starfleet admiral and former captain of the Starship Enterprise who is living out his latter days on his family’s vineyard in France. Fittingly, the subway promotion will showcase two different cards — one featuring Picard on the front and his family’s sweeping vineyard on the back, the other with Picard’s dog, No. 1, on the front and several planets on the flip side.

(4) IS PICARD MESSAGE-HEAVY? The Daily Beast argues “‘Star Trek: Picard,’ With Its Refugee Crisis and Anti-Trump Messaging, May Be the Most Political Show on TV”.

…At the crux of the Picard premiere is a devastating monologue Stewart delivers recounting a catastrophic event that happened years before, triggering a refugee crisis and driving Picard to quit his position in the Starfleet, disgusted by what the organization and the Federation now stood for. 

It might sound in the weeds if you’re not a Trekkie, but the basics of the plot are refreshingly simple. 

A supernova blast threatened the planet Romulus. Despite their antagonistic relationship, the Federation agreed to rescue the Romulan people. But in the midst of the rescue mission, synthetic lifeforms like Data, who helped Picard pilot his ship, went rogue and destroyed the Federation’s base on Mars, killing over 90,000 people. In the wake of the incident, synthetic lifeforms were banned, a decision that appalled Picard and caused him to quit before he carried out his Romulan rescue mission. 

“It has always been part of the content of Star Trek that it will be attempting to create a better future with the certain belief that a better future is possible if the right kind of work and the right kind of people are engaged in that,” Stewart told reporters. “And my feeling was, as I look all around our world today, there has never been a more important moment when entertainment and show business can address some of the issues that are potentially damaging our world today.” 

(5) CLONE WARS TRAILER. The final season of Star Wars: The Clone Wars starts streaming Feb. 21 on DisneyPlus.

One of the most critically-acclaimed entries in the Star Wars saga will be returning for its epic conclusion with twelve all-new episodes on Disney+ beginning Friday, February 21. From Dave Filoni, director and executive producer of “The Mandalorian,” the new Clone Wars episodes will continue the storylines introduced in the original series, exploring the events leading up to Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith.

(6) HAVE SPACEWORTHY 3D PRINTER, WILL TRAVEL. Daniel Dern looks into “NASA’s 3D Printing Space Initiatives” in an article for GrabCAD.

…The SLS [Space Launch System] is intended to be the primary launch vehicle of NASA’s deep space. By manufacturing as many of the engine’s parts as possible (like the fuel injectors, turbo pumps, valves, and main injectors) with 3D printing, NASA can significantly reduce time and money spent.

“NASA is on track to reduce the number of individual parts by an order of magnitude — from hundreds to tens — and reduce the cost of the entire engine by 30% and later by 50%, and the build time by 50%,” John explains.

Dern notes, “This is the 3rd or 4th NASA-related article I’ve gotten to do over the past six months. I had a lot of fun researching and writing this, and hope find more assignments on this stuff over the coming year.”

(7) WHAT IT TAKES. “Oscar-nominated filmmaker Chris Butler’s top animation tips” – BBC video.

Film writer and director Chris Butler, who has been nominated for an Oscar, has said anyone who wants to be an animator needs to be prepared for “hard work”.

His film Missing Link is up against Toy Story 4 in the Animated Feature category, but Butler, from Maghull, Merseyside, has already beaten it – and Frozen II – to a Golden Globe.

He said he was “shell-shocked” when it was announced as the winner earlier this month – so much so that he cannot remember going on stage to collect the award.

Butler said making animated films was “not easy” and warned that budding filmmakers have to “put in long hours” to make it in the industry.

(8) STONE AGE. First Fandom Experience not only remembers when — “In 1939, Lithography Came To Fanzines — But Why?”. Zine scans at the link.

Beginning in 1932, Conrad H. Ruppert reshaped the world of fan publications with the printing press he bought with money saved by working in his father’s bakery. He printed issues of the most prominent fanzines of the period, including The Time Traveller, Science Fiction Digest, and Charles D. Hornig’s The Fantasy Fan. It’s not unreasonable to assert that the professional appearance of Hornig’s leaflet-sized ‘zine contributed to his ascension to the editorship of Wonder Stories at the age of 17….

(9) THOSE DARN FANS. RS Benedict posted a new episode of the Rite Gud podcast — “This is the first of a two-part series about the dark side of fandom. Why does fandom turn toxic? Can over-investment in fandom stunt your social and artistic growth?” The first episode is here: “The Dark Side of Fandom, Part 1: Have You Accepted Spider-Man as Your Lord and Savior?”

Tim Heiderich of Have You Seen This took the time to talk to us about the creative perils of fandom. Fandom can be fun, but it can also turn ugly too, or it can keep us so busy focusing on someone else’s work that we fail to develop our own talents.

This was a huge conversation, so we split it into two parts. In the first installment, we talk about toxic fandom, simulacra, and the siren song of nostalgia.

(10) EXTRA, EXTRA, READ ALL ABOUT IT. “Orange Mike” Lowrey’s TAFF win attracted local media attention: “From Chester County High School to Stockholm and Birmingham (England)” in the Chester County Independent.

…Lowrey has been attending these conventions since 1975 and loves it. He said he loves how the conventions are filled with interesting, intelligent people. The interaction of science fiction fans overseas is awesome as well he said.
“I got people I consider good friends that I never met before,” he said.
He actually met the woman whom he would spend his life with and marry, C.K. “Cicatrice” Hinchliffe of Bertram, Iowa, at the local Milwaukee science fiction convention in 1981.
Lowrey graduated from Chester County High School in 1971 and earned a magna cum laude degree in history from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. In addition to his job with the State of Wisconsin, he’s been working as a writer and editor since 1984.
He is also a bookseller, serves as a local president and state executive board member of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, and acts as a volunteer administrator for Wikipedia. He has had book reviews published and also Dungeon and Dragon articles published in Dragon magazine.

(11) KARLEN OBIT. John Karlen , the actor who played multiple roles (Willie Loomis, Carl Collins, William H. Loomis, Desmond Collins, Alex Jenkins and Kendrick Young) on the ABC serial Dark Shadows died January 22 at the age of 86.

(12) TODAY IN HISTORY.

  • January 23, 1954Killers From Space made it to your local drive-in. It was produced and directed by W. Lee Wilder, brother of Billy Wilder. It has a cast of Peter Graves, Barbara Bestar and James Seay. We should note that Killers From Space came about as a commissioned screenplay from Wilder’s son Myles Wilder and their regular collaborator William Raynor. How was it received? Not well. There was, in the opinion of critics, way too much too talk, too little action, poor production values… you get the idea. Though they liked Graves. Who doesn’t? Reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes give it a decidedly unfavourable rating of just 24%. 
  • January 23, 1974 The Questor Tapes first aired on NBC. Created and written by Roddenberry himself with Gene L Coon as co-writer, it was by Richard Colla. It starred Robert Foxworth, Mike Farrell and John Vernon. (Fontana’s novelisation would be dedicated to Coon who died before it aired.) though it was intended to be a pilot fir a series, conflict between Roddenberry and the network doomed the series. It would place fifth in the final Hugo balloting the following year at Aussiecon One with Young Frankenstein being the Hugo winner.
  • January 23, 1985 — The Rankin-Bass version of ThunderCats premiered in syndication. Leonard Starr was the primary writer with the animation contracted to the Japanese studio Pacific Animation Corporation, with Masaki Iizuka as the production manager. It would run for four years and one and thirty episodes. Need we note that a vast media empire of future series, films, comics, t-shirts, statues, action figures and so forth have developed since then?

(13) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born January 23, 1923 Walter M. Miller Jr. He’s best remembered  for A Canticle for Leibowitz, the only novel he published in his lifetime. Terry Bisson would finish off the completed draft that he left of Saint Leibowitz and the Wild Horse Woman, a sequel of sorts to the first novel. He did a fair amount of short fiction as well. He’s poorly represented both digitally and in the dead tree sense as well beyond A Canticle for Leibowitz. (Died 1996.)
  • Born January 23, 1932 Bart LaRue. He was the voice of The Guardian  of  Forever in the “City on the Edge of Forever” episode of Trek as well as doing voice roles in “Bread and Circuses” (on-screen too) “The Gamesters of Triskelion” as Provider 1 (uncredited) “Patterns of Force” as an Ekosian newscaster (Both voice and on-screen) and “The Savage Curtain” as Yarnek. He did similar work for Time Tunnel, Mission Impossible, Voyage to The Bottom of The Sea, The Andromeda StrainWild Wild West, Land of Giants and Lost in Space. (Died 1990.)
  • Born January 23, 1939 Greg and Tim Hildebrandt. Greg’s aged eighty one years, and Tim passed in 2006. I’d say best known for their very popular and ubiquitous Lord of the Rings calendar illustrations, also for illustrating comics for Marvel Comics and DC Comics. They also did a lot of genre covers so I went to ISFDB and checked to see if I recognized any. I certainly did. There was Zelazny’s cover of My Name is Legion, Tolkien’s Smith of Wootton Major and Farmer Giles of Ham and Poul Anderson’s  A Knight of Ghosts and Shadows. Nice.
  • Born January 23, 1942 Brian Coucher, 78. He appeared in three genre series — first  the second actor to portray Travis in Blake’s 7 and also as Borg in the Fourth Doctor story, “The Robots of Death”. Finally genre wise he appeared in a Doctor Who spin-off that I’ve never heard existed, Shakedown: Return of the Sontarans. No Who characters appeared though Sophie Alfred played someone other than Ace here. 
  • Born January 23, 1943 Gil Gerard, 77. Captain William “Buck” Rogers in Buck Rogers in the 25th Century which I fondly remember as a really a truly great SF series even if it really wasn’t that great. He also shows up in the very short lived E.A.R.T.H. Force as Dr. John Harding, and he’s General Morgenstern in Reptisaurus, a movie title that proves someone had a serious lack of imagination regarding titles that day. In Bone Eater, a monster film that Bruce Boxleitner also shows up in as Sheriff Steve Evans, he plays Big Jim Burns, the Big Bad. Lastly I’d like to note that he got to play Admiral Sheehan in the “Kitumba” episode of fan created Star Trek: New Voyages. 
  • Born January 23, 1950 Richard Dean Anderson, 70. Unless you count MacGyver as genre which I can say is open to debate, his main and rather enduring SF role was as Jack O’Neill in the many Stargate Universe series. Well Stargate SG-1 really as he only briefly showed up on Stargate Universe and Stargate Atlantis whereas he did one hundred and seventy-three episodes of SG-1. Wow. Now his only other SF role lasted, err, twelve episodes in which he played Enerst Pratt alias Nicodemus Legend in the most excellent Legend co-starring John de Lancie. Yeah, I really liked it. And damn it should’ve caught on. 
  • Born January 23, 1976 Tiffani Thiessen, 44. Better known by far by me at least her role as Elizabeth Burke on the White Collar series which might be genre adjacent, she did end up in three films of genre interest: From Dusk Till Dawn 2: Texas Blood Money, Shriek If You Know What I Did Last Friday the 13th (a parade of the Friday the 13th films) and Cyborg Soldier. They’re average rating at Rotten Tomatoes among reviewers is fifteen percent in case you were wondering how good they were. 
  • Born January 23, 1973 Lanei Chapman, 47. She’s most remembered as Lt. Vanessa Damphousse on Space: Above and Beyond, a series that ended well before it should’ve ended. She made her genre debut on Next Gen as Ensign Sariel Rager, a recurring character who was a conn officer. 
  • Born January 23, 1977 Sonita Henry, 43. Her very first was as President’s Aide on Fifth Element. She was a Kelvin Doctor in the rebooted Star Trek film, and she’s Colonel Meme I the Eleventh Doctor story, “The Time of The Doctor”.  Her latest is playing Raika on Krypton.

(14) COMICS SECTION.

(15) AND SPREAD HIM OUT THIN. Adweek says “Rest in Peace, Mr. Peanut—Planters Kills Off Iconic Mascot in Lead-Up to Super Bowl”.  

… In a shocking move, Planters, the Kraft-Heinz-owned snack brand, has killed off its iconic mascot in a teaser for its Big Game spot. Mr. Peanut’s untimely demise began with a Nutmobile crash, followed by falling off a cliff and ending in an explosion.

… And when will the classic mascot be memorialized? During Super Bowl 2020, naturally.

…The loss of Mr. Peanut is a major moment for the brand. Planters first introduced Mr. Peanut to audiences in 1916, meaning that the mascot has been around since the midst of World War I, making him of the longest-standing brand mascots of all time.

The spot, which will air during the third quarter of the Big Game on Feb. 2, was produced by VaynerMedia. Planters also has several promotions and activations to honor Mr. Peanut’s life, including commemorative pins for fans who spot the Nutmobile on the streets and a hashtag, #RIPeanut, for fans to share their sympathies.

(16) POMPEII AND CIRCUMSTANCE. “Mount Vesuvius eruption: Extreme heat ‘turned man’s brain to glass'” – BBC has the story.

Extreme heat from the Mount Vesuvius eruption in Italy was so immense it turned one victim’s brain into glass, a study has suggested.

The volcano erupted in 79 AD, killing thousands and destroying Roman settlements near modern-day Naples.

The town of Herculaneum was buried by volcanic matter, entombing some of its residents.

A team of researchers has been studying the remains of one victim, unearthed at the town in the 1960s.

A study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine on Thursday, said fragments of a glassy, black material were extracted from the victim’s skull.

Researchers behind the study believe the black material is the vitrified remains of the man’s brain.

(17) YOUR PAL IN SPACE. “Meet Vyom – India’s first robot ‘astronaut'” – BBC video.

India’s space agency has unveiled a robot that will travel to space later this year as part of an unmanned mission

Scientists hope that it will be able to later assist astronauts in a manned space mission called Gaganyaan, which is scheduled for December 2021.

Isro will conduct two unmanned missions – one in December this year and another in June 2021 – before the Gaganyaan mission.

The robot, which has been named Vyom Mitra (which translates from the Sanskrit to friend in space) is designed to perform a number of functions including responding to astronaut’s questions and performing life support operations.

(18) DO IT FOR SCIENCE. Public spirited citizens arise! “Wanted – volunteers to monitor Britain’s growing slug population”.

Citizen scientists are being sought to help carry out the first survey in decades of Britain’s slug populations.

To take part, all that’s required is curiosity, a garden, and a willingness to go out after dark to search for the likes of the great grey or yellow slug.

The year-long research project will identify different slug species and the features that tempt them into gardens.

The last study conducted in English gardens in the 1940s found high numbers of just nine species of slug.

Many more have arrived in recent years, including the Spanish slug, which is thought to have come in on salad leaves. Less than half of the UK’s 40 or more slug species are now considered native.

(19) TRANSMUTING GOLD TO LEAD. Iron Man never had days like this. GQ asks “Does Dolittle’s Box Office Flop Spell Trouble for Robert Downey Jr.?”

For over a decade, Robert Downey Jr. played MCU pillar Tony Stark, a billionaire superhero who would almost certainly consider Dolittle’s abysmal opening weekend earnings to be little more than pocket change.

Despite opening on a holiday weekend, RDJ’s Dolittle made just $29.5 million over the four-day period, and only an additional $17 million internationally. Dolittle cost a jaw-dropping $175 million to make, so those box office numbers are kind of catastrophic, with Universal expected to lose $100 million on the movie, according to The Wrap. Universal, it should be noted, also took a bath last month when the furry fever dream that is Cats flopped, but at least Cats only cost $90 million to make, so the loss isn’t quite as terrible.

The only slim hope for Dolittle’s prospects is a higher than expected haul in the international markets where it hasn’t opened yet—including China—but maybe don’t hold your breath.

It took the strain of wielding all six Infinity Stones to kill him in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, so Robert Downey Jr. will probably survive Dolittle’s bomb. Still… yikes.

(20) I SPY, AGAIN. “Twitter demands AI company stops ‘collecting faces'”

Twitter has demanded an AI company stop taking images from its website.

Clearview has already amassed more than three billion photographs from sites including Facebook and Twitter.

They are used by the FBI and Department of Homeland Security and more than 600 other law-enforcement agencies around the world to identify suspects.

In a cease-and-desist letter sent on Tuesday, Twitter said its policies had been violated and requested the deletion of any collected data.

…US senator Ron Wyden said on Twitter Clearview’s activities were “extremely troubling”.

“Americans have a right to know whether their personal photos are secretly being sucked into a private facial-recognition database,” he said.

“Every day, we witness a growing need for strong federal laws to protect privacy.”

(21) PYTHON PASSPORT. [Item by Hampus Eckerman.] A fitting (and unintentional) tribute to Terry Jones. I’d vote for a Brexit for this one if I could.

Original:

Sad to say, the Express graphic is fixed now — “Britons will fly to 2020 summer holiday destinations on classic BLUE passport”.

(22) VIDEO OF THE DAY. In “Model Citizen” on YouTube, David James Armsby portrays what seems to be the perfect nuclear family–but why is it controlled by evil robots?

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

2020 Trans-Atlantic Fan Fund Delegate Announced

“Orange Mike” Lowrey

By Geri Sullivan and Johan Anglemark: We, the administrators of the 2020 TAFF race, are pleased to announce that Michael Lowrey will be the 2020 TAFF Delegate. He will attend Concentric: Eastercon 2020 to be held in Birmingham, UK on April 10–13, 2020 (see their website at www.concentric2020.uk), and he plans to travel to Swecon (the Swedish national convention), continental Europe, and maybe Ireland before arriving in the UK.           

From TAFFish #1, here is some biographical information about “Orange Mike”:

“I stumbled onto the early-1970s version of the U. of Chicago SF club (there have been several over the eons) through the SCA in 1971, and thus learned about fandom. When I returned to Tennessee, I joined the good ol’, much-maligned N3F, which for this country boy was a lifeline to the broader world of fandom, including my first exposure to fanzines. When I got to Nashville, I discovered the local SCA and through them the Nashville SF club. Through the SCA I discovered D&D (thanx, Daishi-san!) and through the Nashville club I learned that there were SF cons I could go to! That first con (it was a Midwestcon) was a glorious revelation: this was my tribe, these were my people! I’ve been to well over a couple of hundred cons since then, and my opinion has not changed. It was in those Nashville years that I fell into the habit of wearing head-to-toe orange.”

Following his return home, Mike will become the next North American administrator of TAFF, and will conduct the 2021 TAFF race in association with Johan Anglemark, who has to suffer through yet another year of adminship.

Fans throughout Europe who may be interested in standing for TAFF in 2021 should make a point of talking with Mike and Johan at Swecon, Eastercon, or elsewhere on Mike’s trip, if at all possible, to begin the process of becoming involved in one of the best experiences a fan can have. The 2021 TAFF race will be westbound, going to Discon III, the 79th Worldcon.

And do not forget to attend the Fan Fund auction at Eastercon where you will find a wealth of fannish and sf-ish loot from across time and space. All proceeds benefit the fan funds. For more information about the Trans-Atlantic Fan Fund – past, present, and future – please visit David Langford’s excellent TAFF website at www.taff.org.uk.

Here is the breakdown of the voting results by first preference. As you can see, Mike won by simple majority in the first round of counting.

RESULTS

Candidate                          NA+RoW  Europe      Total

Michael Lowrey   56    27    83
Ann Totusek     3      2      5
Hold Over Funds     4      0      4
No Preference     6      5    11
         Total votes    69    34  103

We wish to thank Mike and Ann for a fun TAFF campaign, and hope that Ann stands again in the future. Our most sincere thanks to all who voted in, contributed to, or otherwise supported the 2020 TAFF campaign. See you in Birmingham!

The fund received $866.55, £232.05, and €176.14 in donations (before deducting Paypal fees).

Lowrey Wins TAFF

Trans-Atlantic Fan Fund administrators Johan Anglemark and Geri Sullivan announced today:

These are the preliminary results. A final announcement with full voting results with be made shortly, but given the magnitude of the win, we’re able to confidently announce the 2020 TAFF delegate today.

103 votes were cast: 67 in North America, 34 in Europe, and 2 in the rest of the world. 

Of the votes cast, 11 were for No Preference. Of the remaining 92, 83 votes were cast for Michael “Orange Mike” Lowrey, who won this race with a simple majority in the first round of voting. We, the administrators, wish to congratulate Mike on his win!

We would also like to thank everyone who voted, everyone who donated money to TAFF, everyone who shared our announcements, and most of all, Ann Totusek who ran against Mike. Thank you all!

Pixel Scroll 12/27/19 With Slow Glass Pixels, It Will Take Ten Years To Scroll

(1) WELCOME WAGON. SFWA President Mary Robinette Kowal responded to the Romance Writers of America meltdown by tweeting, “As president of SFWA, please accept my invitation to consider our organization if you feel your work has a kinship with SFF, even a tenuous tie.” Thread starts here.

Many interesting replies. A couple of them are –

(2) STAR POWER. Thomas Disch dominated the Galactic Stars awards presented by Galactic Journey for the best sff of 1964: [December 25, 1964] Stars of Bethlehem and Galactic Journey (Galactic Stars 1964).

Best author(s)

Tom Disch

This Cele Lalli discovery, just 24 years old, garnered three Galactic Stars this year.

He narrowly beats out Harry Harrison (and Harrison might have been on top, but he came out with clunkers as well as masterpieces this year).

And bless the Journey staff for recognizing newzines in this category —

Best Fanzine

Starspinkle gave up the ghost last month, though it has a lookalike sequel, Ratatosk.  They were/are both nice little gossip biweeklies.

(3) CLASSIC IRISH FANWRITING. The Willis Papers by Walt Willis is the latest free download produced by David Langford in hopes of inspiring donations to the Trans-Atlantic Fan Fund.

A collection covering the first decade (and a bit) of Walt Willis’s fanzine writing, from his 1948 debut in Slant to 1959, edited by George W. Field and published by Ted Johnstone in August 1961. As well as twenty-two classic Willis articles, there are Prefaces by both editor and publisher, while Vin¢ Clarke and John Berry provide not entirely serious tributes to the great man.

The text of The Willis Papers was long ago transcribed into HTML by Judy Bemis for Fanac.org, and this Ansible Editions ebook is gratefully based on that version. The cover photograph of Walt Willis at the 1957 London Worldcon was taken by Peter West. (From the Ethel Lindsay photo archive, courtesy of Rob Hansen.) Ebook released on 25 December 2019. 31,500 words.

Walt Willis was born in October 1919, and his centenary in 2019 has been little remarked in science fiction fandom.

One small gesture is the simultaneous ebook release of Beyond the Enchanted Duplicator and The Willis Papers as a 2019 Christmas treat for fans.

(4) CASUALTY LIST. “China Blocks American Books as Trade War Simmers” — the New York Times has the story.

…Publishers inside and outside China say the release of American books has come to a virtual standstill, cutting them off from a big market of voracious readers.

“American writers and scholars are very important in every sector,” said Sophie Lin, an editor at a private publishing company in Beijing. “It has had a tremendous impact on us and on the industry.” After new titles failed to gain approval, she said, her company stopped editing and translating about a dozen pending books to cut costs.

The Chinese book world is cautiously optimistic that the partial trade truce reached this month between Beijing and Washington will break the logjam, according to book editors and others in the publishing industry who spoke to The New York Times.

… Still, publishing industry insiders describe a near freeze of regulatory approvals, one that could make the publishing industry reluctant to buy the rights to sell American books in China.

“Chinese publishers will definitely change their focus,” said Andy Liu, an editor at a Beijing publishing company, adding that the United States was one of China’s most frequent and profitable sources of books.

“Publishing American books is now a risky business,” he said. “It’s shaking the very premise of trying to introduce foreign books” as a business.

While China is known for its censorship, it is also a huge market for books, including international ones. It has become the world’s second-largest publishing market after the United States, according to the International Publishers Association, as an increasingly educated and affluent country looks for something engrossing to curl up with.

(5) EATING THE FANTASTIC. Scott Edelman invites listeners to chow down on cannoli with author Bob Proeh in Episode 112 of his Eating the Fantastic podcast.

Bob Proehl

This time around, you get to take a seat at the table with Bob Proehl, who published his first novel in in 2016. A Hundred Thousand Worlds is about the star of a cult sci-fi TV show and her nine-year-old son making a cross-country road trip with many stops at comic book conventions along the way, and was named a Booklist best book of the year.

His latest novel, The Nobody People, about the emergence of super-powered beings who’ve been living among us, came out earlier this year…

We slipped away to Sabatino’s Italian restaurant …where we chatted over orders of veal parmigiana and eggplant parmigiana. (I’ll leave it to you to guess which of us was the carnivore, though I suspect that if you’re a regular listener, you’ll already know.)

We discussed how it really all began for him with poetry, the way giving a non-comics reader Watchmen for their first comic is like giving a non-novel reader Ulysses as their first novel, why discovering Sandman was a lifesaver, the reason the Flying Burrito Brothers 1968 debut album The Gilded Palace of Sin matters so much to him, why he had a case of Imposter Syndrome over his first book and how he survived it, the reasons he’s so offended by The Big Bang Theory, what he meant when he said “I actually like boring books,” his love for The X-Files, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and the X-Men, whether it’s hard to get a beer in New York at six o’clock in the morning, why he wasn’t disappointed in the Lost finale, and much more.

(6) HECK YEAH. The DisINSIDER says “‘Crazy Rich Asians’ Director Wants To Tackle A Rose Tico Series on Disney+”.

…Of course the tweet is simply just that a tweet, and doesn’t mean anything will come it. However, Chu is a hot name in the industry after directing the 2018 hit Crazy Rich Asians, he would be a fantastic choice to develop a Rose Tico series. Chu is currently working on the film adaptation of In The Heights based on the hit broadway musical, and will return to direct China Rich Girlfriend.

(7) INSIDE SFF HISTORY. Jonathan Lethem interviews M. John Harrison at Literatura Inglesa. The English language version follows the long Spanish language one — scroll down. “Derribando los pilares de la ficción: una entrevista con M. John Harrison.”

You also mentioned that your time at New Worlds was an exciting one as it provided you with the possibility to read the manuscripts of Ballard’s stories even before they were printed. What’s interesting to me is that, while writers like Aldiss or Moorcock, who loved SF and fantasy genre and helped revitalize it (although Aldiss later disowned his participation in the new wave “movement”), Ballard seemed to quickly abandon the genre (except, maybe, for Hello America).

I think it took Ballard a long time to “abandon” the genre, if he can be said to have done that, and that the process began much earlier than people admit. From the beginning his relationship to science fiction was modified by his personality, his needs as a writer, and his many cultural influences outside SF. So from the outset of his career he was working his way towards the idiopathic manner we associate with short stories like “The Terminal Beach” and novels like The Drought and The Atrocity Exhibition. It was not so much an “abandonment” as a steady evolutionary process. This happens with writers. They develop.

(8) SUPERCOLLABORATOR. CBR.com looks back on “When Superman Helped Kurt Vonnegut Write a Novel!”.

Today, based on a suggestion from reader Stephen R., we take a look at the time that Clark Kent had to help Kurt Vonnegut finish a novel!

The story appeared in 1974’s Superman #274 by Gerry Conway, Curt Swan and Vince Colletta, where Clark Kent and Kurt Vonnegut are both on a talk show together…

The “Wade Halibut” name is a reference to Vonnegut’s famous fictional writer, Kilgore Trout, who appeared in many of Vonnegut’s classic works, like Breakfast of Champions and Slaughterhouse Five

(9) TODAY IN HISTORY.

  • December 27, 1904 –J. M. Barrie’s play Peter Pan premiered in London.
  • December 27, 1951 Captain Video: Master of the Stratosphere premiered on film screens. It was directed by Spencer Gordon Bennet and Wallace A. Grissel with a script by Royal G. Cole, Sherman I. Lowe and Joseph F. Poland. Judd Holdren, in what was only his second starring screen role, plays Captain Video, the leader of a group of crime-fighters known as the Video Rangers.  This fifteen-part movie serial is unusual as it’s based off a tv series, Captain Video and His Video Rangers. Like most similar series, critical reviews are scant and there is no rating at Rotten Tomatoes. It was popular enough that it aired repeatedly until the early Sixties. There’s a few episodes up on YouTube – here’s one.
  • December 27, 1995 —  Timemaster premiered on this date. It was directed by James Glickenhaus and starred his son Jesse Cameron-Glickenhaus, Pat Morita and Duncan Regehr. It also features Michelle Williams in one of her first film roles, something she now calls one of the worst experiences of her acting career. The film got universally negative, if not actively hostile, reviews and has a 0% rating among reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes.

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born December 27, 1888 Thea von Harbou. She penned the novel Metropolis based upon her uncredited screenplay of that film for husband Fritz Lang. She also collaborated with him on other projects, none of which save her 1922 Phantom screenplay appear to be genre. (Died 1954.)
  • Born December 27, 1917 Ken Slater. In 1947, while serving in the British Army, he started Operation Fantast, a network of fans which had eight hundred members around the world by the early Fifties though it folded a few years later. Through Operation Fantast, he was a major importer of American SFF books and magazines into the U.K. – an undertaking which he continued, after it ceased to exist, through his company Fantast up to the time of his passing.  He was a founding member of the British Science Fiction Association in 1958. (Died 2008.)
  • Born December 27, 1938 Jean Hale, 81. If you’ve watched Sixties genre television, you’ve likely seen her as she showed up on My Favorite Martian, In Like Flint (at least genre adjacent), Alfred Hitchcock Presents, My Brother the AngelWild Wild West, Batman and Tarzan.
  • Born December 27, 1948 Gerard Depardieu, 71. He’s in Kenneth Branagh’s Hamlet which we all agree (I think we agree) is genre. He plays Obélix in the French film Asterix & Obélix and Asterix at the Olympic Games: Mission Cleopatra and is Cardinal Mazarin in La Femme Musketeer. 
  • Born December 27, 1951 Robbie Bourget, 68. She started out as an Ottawa area fan, where she became involved in a local Who club and the OSFS before moving to LA and becoming deeply involved in LASFS. She was a key member of many a Worldcon and Who convention over the years (she was the co-DUFF winner with Marty Cantor for Aussiecon) before she moved to London in the late Nineties.
  • Born December 27, 1951 Charles Band, 68. ExploItation film maker who’s here because some of his source material is SFF in origin. Arena was scripted off the Fredric Brown “Arena” short story which first ran in the June 1944 Astounding, and From Beyond which was based on H P Lovecraft’s short story of the same name, first published in June 1934 issue of The Fantasy Fan
  • Born December 27, 1960 Maryam d’Abo, 59. She’s best known as Kara Milovy in The Living Daylights. Her first genre role was her screen debut in the very low-budget SF horror film Xtro, an Alien rip-off. She was Ta’Ra in Something Is Out There, a miniseries that was well received and but got piss poor ratings. Did you know there was a live Mowgli: The New Adventures of the Jungle Book? I didn’t. She was Elaine Bendel, a recurring role in it. 
  • Born December 27, 1969 Sarah Jane Vowell, 50. She’s a author, journalist, essayist, historian, podcaster,  social commentator and actress. Impressive, but she gets Birthday Honors for being the voice of Violet Parr in the Incredibles franchise. I say franchise as I’ve no doubt that a third film is already bring scripted.
  • Born December 27, 1977 Sinead Keenan, 42. She’s in the Eleventh Doctor story “The End of Time” as Addams, but her full face make-up guarantees that you won’t recognize her. If you want to see her, she’s a Who fan in The Five(ish) Doctors Reboot. Her final Who work is a Big Finish audio drama, Iterations of I, a Fifth Doctor story. And she played Nina Pickering, a werewolf, in Being Human for quite a long time.
  • Born December 27, 1987 Lily Cole, 32. Been awhile since I found a Who performer and so let’s have another now. She played The Siren in the Eleventh Doctor story, “The Curse of The Black Spot”. She’s also in some obscure film called Star Wars: The Last Jedi as a character named Lovey. And she shows up in the important role of Valentina in The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus. Not mention she’s in Snow White and The Huntsman as Greta, a great film indeed.
  • Born December 27, 1995 Timothée Chalamet, 24. First SF role was as the young Tom Cooper in the well received Interstellar. To date, his only other genre role has been as Zac in One & Two but I’m strongly intrigued that he’s set to play Paul Atreides In Director Denis Villeneuve forthcoming Dune. Villeneuve is doing it as a set of films instead of just one film which will either work well or terribly go wrong.

(11) HEARING FROM THE EXPANSE. The Guardian books podcasts asks the authors of The Expanse, “When imagining our future, what can sci-fi teach us?”

This week, Richard sits down with duo Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck, who write science fiction together under the name James SA Corey. Their bestselling space-opera series, The Expanse, which started in 2012 and is due to end in 2021, is set in the middle of the 24th century, when humanity has colonised the solar system. Human society is now beyond race and gender, and is instead divided on a planetary level: those living on Earth, on Mars and on various asteroids, moons and space stations called Belters.

The eighth book in the series, Tiamat’s Wrath, is the latest, while the fourth season of the award-winning TV adaptation [is] on Amazon Prime on 13 December.

And Claire, Richard and Sian discuss the 20 books up for the 2019 Costa awards shortlists.

(12) A RECORD RECORD. As Bruce Sterling said, new technologies don’t replace old technologies. But how many of the old ones hang onto life so tenaciously — Billboard’s numbers show “Harry Styles, Billie Eilish & The Beatles Help Vinyl Album Sales Hit Record Week in U.S.”

Vinyl album sales hit yet another record week in the U.S., according to Nielsen Music.

In the week ending Dec. 19, the data tracking firm reports 973,000 vinyl albums were sold in the U.S. — marking the single biggest week for vinyl album sales since the company began electronically tracking music sales in 1991.  

(13) NIGHT BLIGHT. “Satellite constellations: Astronomers warn of threat to view of Universe” – the Dave Clements mentioned in BBC’s report is an SF fan.

From next week, a campaign to launch thousands of new satellites will begin in earnest, offering high-speed internet access from space.

But the first fleets of these spacecraft, which have already been sent into orbit by US company SpaceX, are affecting images of the night sky.

They are appearing as bright white streaks, so dazzling that they are competing with the stars.

Scientists are worried that future “mega-constellations” of satellites could obscure images from optical telescopes and interfere with radio astronomy observations.

Dr Dave Clements, an astrophysicist from Imperial College London, told BBC News: “The night sky is a commons – and what we have here is a tragedy of the commons.”

The companies involved said they were working with astronomers to minimise the impact of the satellites.

And Clements occasionally writes sff – his story “Last of the Guerrilla Gardeners” originally appeared in Nature.

(14) OUT OF CHARACTER. Ganrielle Russon, in the Orlando Sentinel story “The Disney employees behind Mickey Mouse, Minnie and Donald Duck were violated by tourists”, says that three Walt Disney World employees say they were inappropriately touched while in costume at Walt Disney World and have filed grievances.

…Another incident happened that same day at the Magic Kingdom, the world’s busiest theme park.

It started innocently when a 36-year-old Disney employee who portrays Minnie Mouse posed for pictures with a man and his wife from Minnesota in the park’s circus-themed meet-and-greet area.

Afterward, Minnie Mouse gave the man a hug. Then without saying a word, he groped her chest three times, according to the sheriff’s incident report.

The employee alerted her supervisors. On Dec. 6, she identified pictures of the 61-year-old man from Brewster, Minn.

She decided against pressing charges.

It wasn’t the first time the man had done something wrong at Disney World on his trip.

The man also had “an inappropriate interaction with a cast member” Dec. 5 at the Magic Kingdom, according to the sheriff’s office incident report that didn’t provide any additional details on what happened. Disney declined to elaborate.

(15) RAPPED GIFT. Bad Lip Reading dropped a bizarre “A Bad Lip Reading of The Last Jedi” on Christmas.

[Thanks to JJ, Chip Hitchcock, Hampus Eckerman, Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Martin Morse Wooster, Cat Eldridge, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Robert Whitaker Sirignano.]