Hergé’s Multi-Layered Worlds

By Sultana Raza: On May 10, 2021 Moulinsart, which manages the Tintin franchise, lost a case to French artist Xavier Marabout. The reason? Marabout had placed Tintin in Hopper-like landscapes with scantily clothed women, a situation not to be found in any of the Tintin albums. The Rennes Court in France deemed Marabout’s art-works to be parodies, thus not violating copyright. Moulinsart is supposed to pay 10,000 euros as compensation to Marabout, unless it decides to appeal against this decision. Moulinsart has announced on its website, that it intends to appeal against this judgement.

If Marabout ultimately wins this case, then it could open the flood-gates to many contemporary and future artists recycling works in their own way from well-known writers/artists, to profit from the exposure of the original art-works. This is a case (no pun intended) in point about the continuing popularity of Tintin and his cronies. However, even in parody, how far away from the creator’s original vision should a recycling artist be allowed to wander away? After making it in international headlines, is Marabout hoping to exploit the shock value of his art-works? Commenting on another artist’s work is one thing, but exploiting it, is another thing altogether.

***

Considered to be a genius by many, not only was Hergé skilled at drawing, he was also good at fascinating his readers with mysteries, and intriguing situations. For example, why was Prof. Calculus going into the heart of a volcano, following the agitated movements of his pendulum, instead of running away, like all the others? Perhaps he was so oblivious to his real surroundings, and was so desperate to find the cause of the wild swinging of his pendulum for the sake of science, that inadvertently, he was willing to risk his very life. Or was he running away from mundane reality? And why did Tintin rush back to save his friend from going deeper in the maze of the mountain? Possibly because that was Tintin’s nature, to rescue not just the innocent people of the world, but it also showed his deep friendship with the absent-minded professor.

What pushes writers/artists to create entirely new worlds, with original characters, who nevertheless manage to creep into the hearts and minds of millions around the world? Could Snowy hold one clue to Tintin’s worldwide popularity? Why spend hours and hours of one’s life bringing these worlds, and characters to life? Possibly because the real world is either too daunting with its myriad of problems, or too boring to lead a humdrum life in it. And one can more or less control the interacting spheres one is creating, unless some characters decide to do the unexpected, such as rushing towards the heart of a volcano, following a pendulum.

This short essay explores the mysteries surrounding Hergé life and works. Are there any correlations between certain aspects of his life and works? Were his main characters influenced by his own life, and people he may have known, who may have escaped in another guise onto the pages of his albums? Various biographers and scholars have expressed their points of view through books, and videos, which are given in the lists at the end of this essay.

The current conditions of partial self-isolation are forcing us to explore various kinds of loneliness. While watching videos related to Georges Prosper Remi, or Hergé, as he’s popularly known, I started exploring the emotional loneliness of Tintin and his friends. They are an assorted bunch, brought together by circumstances. While they may complement each other in various ways, and even get on well with each other, their personal lives seem to be barren emotionally, as they have few family or romantic ties. Sometimes the loneliness of the writer flows into his characters. According to Serge Tisseron, that may have been the case with Hergé.

***

Was this brilliant body of work as a result of escapism on Hergé’s part? Perhaps his emotional life was a bit difficult to handle, and he sought refuge in his own stories. The huge amount of research that he did on various countries and cultures voluntarily must have required hours of absorption, wherein he could have forgotten his quotidian. Also, blowing up bubbles of stories in his mind probably allowed him to escape the daily grind.

Specially, as he paid so much attention to detail, while leaving a judicious amount of blank spaces to be filled in with the reader’s imagination. It’s a fine balancing act between creating enough details to make a fictitious world believable, and not to overcrowd the panels with too many details. Perhaps that’s one of the reasons why these albums are still popular, as every generation can interpret them anew. Hergé didn’t just build his worlds through his images, but also via recurring characters, jokes, and spoofs. For example, Marlinspike Hall often got calls intended for the local butcher, due to errors of the phone company. Though this can be interpreted as a general mix-up of communications, with Thompson and Thomson being the masters of misinterpreting everything repeatedly. In the end, however, either their mistakes were cute, or inadvertently led to further discoveries by the good guys. Though Hergé was supposed to be a workaholic, perhaps like a lot of writers/artists, his fictitious world was more attractive to him than the real one.

***

Not much is known about the early life or the family background of Hergé, the creator of Tintin. In his 2009 book, Tintin et le secret d’Hergé (or Tintin and the Secret of Hergé), Serge Tisseron explores Hergé’s family secrets which permeate the latter’s graphic novels. There is speculation that Hergé himself may have descended from the illegitimate children of a nobleman. Is that why nothing much is known about Tintin’s parents? Also, Captain Haddock, a major character discovers that he is indeed descended from a noble line, which is outlined in The Secret of the Unicorn.

***

In fact, The Secret of the Unicorn (1943) and The Crab with the Golden Claws (1941) and to a smaller extent from Red Rackham’s Treasure (1944) were adapted into a film, The Adventures of Tintin in 2011, produced by Peter Jackson, and directed by Steven Spielberg. A lot of hard work went into the making of this film, with Peter Jackson keeping his online appointments with Spielberg in the wee hours of the morning (due to the time difference) instead of delegating these meetings to other staff members. Unfortunately, this 3D computer-animated film didn’t do as well at the box office as could have been expected. Perhaps the fans didn’t care too much for the differences from the source material, or about computer-animated films in general. While the action sequences were quite spectacular, perhaps their length could have been shortened, because the appeal of these stories lies not just in action, but in the relationships, which are at the heart of all the stories.

***

For example, with Tintin’s help Captain Haddock manages to regain his inheritance in the form of Marlinspike Hall. He lives there with Tintin, Nestor the Butler, and Prof. Calculus, not to mention the nosy Snowy. This anchorage of Captain Haddock in a place he can call his own brings him some emotional stability, and his drinking goes down, even if he remains somewhat prone to irascibility. Perhaps he used to drink to forget his own practical difficulties, and the bleakness of his emotional landscape. Though their friendship helps them get through many escapades, they’re content to remain single, escaping complicated emotional attachments.

***

Funnily enough, unlike the humans inhabiting Tintin’s world, Snowy doesn’t just want to escape into his own world, but is forever ready and eager to engage with any situation and characters he happens to encounter. However, just once, when he got drunk, Snowy did have a good and bad angel in his own image, who were trying to urge him to do the right/wrong thing. No need to guess as to which dog angel won. But it was a hilarious, unique and entertaining concept, nevertheless.

Bothering Captain Haddock is one Biance Castafiore, a famous opera singer, who off-handedly shows Captain Haddock that she wouldn’t be averse to his affections. But he has no inclination of showing them. Possibly Bianca Castafiore’s constant tendency to fuss over her fripperies, and to surround herself with the fluff of flurried borders on elaborate gowns adorned with laces, with an assortment of furs, and scarves are a sort of refuge from any meaningful relationship. Why has her heart become as hard as her famous jewels?

Poor Prof. Calculus has no luck with her, since he’s as maladroit in courting, as he is in everything else in real life, beyond the spheres of his studies and research. Is he secretly relieved that his love for the self-centred Castafiore remains unrequited. Does that push him further into his inner world, which he can control? Though a nerd, almost autistic, he’s endearing as well, with his absent-mindedness and altruistic outlook on life. Perhaps he’s interested in science not just because he has a brilliant mind, but also perhaps drowning himself in theories, diagrams, and formulas enables him to escape to his own domain which is more fun to puzzle out than strange creatures called human beings.

Castafiore’s voice is capable of breaking glass. One can speculate that she is capable of breaking the wall of silence surrounding family secrets (perhaps regarding the nobleman’s name who fathered the illegitimate children of a maid-servant who was Hergé’s ancestor). There is a confusion over the names of Thompson with or without a ‘p.’ Which is strange to say the least, as all twins have the same last name. Therefore, could their names have been fabricated to hide their real names? Though they tend to knock about ineffectually, it’s their good intentions that count.

***

Whether these musings are based on reality or not, these graphic novels, with an adolescent as the main character, have layers of psychological mysteries that go beyond most YA fiction. Serge Tisseron’s speculations on different aspects of Hergé’s life that he may have projected onto his fictitious personages, seem to fit the characters of these graphic novels. Being a brilliant artist and writer, maybe Hergé did feel lonely, for it’s lonely at the top. Is that why his main characters are content to exist in their own emotional bubbles, even as they go run around saving the world? In those days when the visual media was not as extensive as now, his graphic novels went a long way to illustrate faraway places such as China, Tibet, or South America. Not only did his impeccable research bring these cultures to life, but also showed that the values of decent folks were the same all around the world.

Of course, it’s a different question as to why Hergé was so concerned with world problems, and with righting wrongs in his graphic novels. Perhaps some unfair things had been done to the author’s family, and Tintin was forever fighting for truth and justice, supporting the rightful rulers (who’d been overthrown) of various fictitious countries. These graphic novels continue to be popular even today because their messages are about common human decency, which is as relevant today as it was when they were first created in 1929. The world may have changed quite a bit since then, but Tintin and friends continue to delight and inspire a worldwide readership.

For example, a new exhibition, Tintin and Hergé will be hosted at the Power Station of Art in Shanghai from 6 Aug. 2021 till 30 Oct. 2021. It will showcase hitherto unseen photos and drawings by the Belgian master of comic books.

Poster for The Power Station exhibit

LIST OF RESOURCES TO FURTHER EXPLORE THE DIFFERENT LAYERS OF HERGÉ’S WORK.

(Since the resources in this list are in French, a good knowledge of French (B2.2) would be required to understand the videos).

Books

While hundreds of books have been written on Hergé and Tintin, here are four that explore the psychological aspects of Hergé’s creations:

1/ Tintin chez le psychanalyste: Essai sur la création graphique et la mise en scène de ses enjeux dans l’œuvre d’Hergé (Ecrit sur parole) (French Edition) (French) Paperback – 1985

2/ Tintin et le secret d’Hergé (French) Paperback – 4 June 2009 by Serge Tisseron  (Author) points out how Hergé’s family secrets were played out in his graphic novels, giving greater insights into his characters. This has led to speculation on the significance of la Castafiore’s voice breaking the glass (wall of silence).

3/ Tintin And The Secret Of Literature by Tom McCarthy seems to be very interesting as well, and gives an overview of many recurring patterns and their subtexts in Tintin’s tales.

4/ Hergé, le pere de Tintin se raconte, edited by Nicolas Tellop is a collection of essays by and interviews of various experts, including Hergé’s biographers. Published in 2020 as a Hors Serie edition by Vagatour Productions (Paris), it also features lots of photos, and excerpts from graphic novels and films, while exploring Hergé’s influences, career, philosophy, and controversial stance during WWII.

Internet article:

Bianca Castafiore:

https://fr.tintin.com/personnages/show/id/4/page/0/0/bianca-castafiore

Tintin Catalogue:

https://www.tintin.com/tintin/actus/actus/001066/Piasa_fr.pdf

The catalogue was prepared by Piasa (an auction house) in cooperation with Moulinsart (the company managing Hergé’s estate,). In it are also Hergé’s b&w sketches, and sometimes plates without any dialogue in it. This could help provide insights into his creative process, and perhaps into how his mind worked, and what his vision was meant to be. I suppose unfolding the creative process of the source material could be interesting to any researcher, future artist, or readers wishing to delve more deeply into Tintin’s world. The catalogue is in French, and some parts are also in English.

Videos:

Quite a few videos in French give further insights into Hergé’s psychological make-up.

This is a non-exhaustive list of interesting videos on Hergé and Tintin:

-22 septembre 2016 – Integrale – Spéciale Tintin et Hergé, avec Michel Serres

-Serge Tisseron “La Castafiore et la psychanalyse de Hergé” | Archive INA

-13h15 le samedi: Hergé : une étoile si mystérieuse

-Hergé chez les initiés: La réalisation du Moi (a bit wonky, but shows the depths of Hergé’s work)

Conclusion

Due to his bubbling creativity, mysterious background, and incalculable talent, Hergé and his work continue to intrigue readers and researchers alike. These graphic novels illustrate (no pun intended) how art can help people bridge the cultural gap, and identify common humane values. Long before the Black Lives Matter exploded on the scene, and expanded into how all lives of ‘colored’ people matter, Hergé had already showed us a more compassionate approach to multi-cultural encounters in some of his works. As the world shrinks to become a global village, perhaps it’s time we learned how to get on with each other, instead of countries wasting huge budgets on funding weapons for (the prevention of) war. Diplomacy could achieve more, given the chance. Perhaps the biggest lesson given by Tintin are his humanitarian values, and his never-ending quest for justice (according to his worldview) in all aspects of life. Hopefully, he’ll continue to inspire new generations to come.

Postscript

I was wandering around in Brugges, Belgium and I came upon this shop by chance, where some of our friends were prominently displayed. Here is a slideshow of my photos taken there.

BIO: Of Indian origin, Sultana Raza’s poems have appeared in 90+ journals, with SFF work in Entropy, Columbia Journal, Star*line, Bewildering Stories, spillwords, Unlikely Stories Mark V, The Peacock Journal, Antipodean SF and impspired.

Her fiction received an Honorable Mention in Glimmer Train Review, and has been published in Coldnoon Journal, and Entropy. She’s read her fiction/poems in Switzerland, France, Luxembourg, England, Ireland, the USA, and at WorldCon 2018, and CoNZealand 2019.

Her creative non-fiction has appeared in Literary Yard, Litro, impspired, etc. An independent scholar, Sultana Raza has presented papers related to Romanticism (Keats) and Fantasy (Tolkien) in international conferences.

Pixel Scroll 5/12/21 Yeah, I Got It Wrong. But I Get Silverlock Into The Apology!

(1) WISHING STEVE DAVIDSON WELL. This Thursday, Amazing Stories’ “Steve Davidson Undergoes His Own Fantastic Voyage” – open heart surgery. As he told Facebook readers earlier in the week:

scheduled for open heart surgery this coming thursday.

i will be happy to autograph selfies of my zipper scar when i have one.

everyone is telling me recovery can be a bitch, but I can expect to be feeling a LOT better once i recover.

My general feeling of malaise over the past few months may have been due more to the growing arterial blockages than anything else going on.

nor am I entirely surprised that this happened during such a time of numerous stressors happening all at once.

now I just want to get this over with.

One very interesting note: I have NO damage to my heart. “very strong” says the doc. good shape.

so, clear the pipes and I should be good to go for another 62 years, right?

Today Steve shared a diagram of his arterial blockages.

So be afraid you all, I’ve only been operating at between 10 and 30 percent capacity this past 18 months and will soon be restored to at least 100 percent functionality.

Ruh ro!

(2) BARROWMAN DROPPED. BBC News reports “John Barrowman video removed from Doctor Who theatre show”.

A video featuring John Barrowman is to be removed from an immersive Doctor Who theatre show following allegations about the actor’s past conduct.

He is accused of repeatedly exposing himself while filming the BBC show.

Mr Barrowman was to have been seen as his Captain Jack Harkness character in a pre-recorded video to be shown during the Doctor Who: Time Fracture show.

Mr Barrowman has previously apologised for his behaviour but has not responded to the show’s decision to drop him.

In a message on its website, the show’s producers said it had “taken the decision to remove this pre-record”.

(3) REPLACEMENT PLAYER. Yahoo! Entertainment finds out “How Tig Notaro Digitally Replaced Chris D’Elia in Zack Snyder’s ‘Army of the Dead’”.

“I really thought there was going to be a backlash from me replacing Chris. I didn’t think I was going to be trending for being a badass,” comedian says

After comedian Chris D’Elia was accused of sexual misconduct, Zack Snyder made the decision to digitally replace his role in “Army of the Dead” with an unusual choice: Tig Notaro.

Notaro had never done major stunt work before (she’s done some light action scenes on “Star Trek: Discovery”). But she found herself pretending she was piloting a helicopter while evading a zombie as well as learning how to handle a prop machine gun in Snyder’s film. And because she was digitally replacing another actor who shot his footage months earlier, she had to act largely on her own in front of green screens and without any other actors.

Both Notaro and Snyder in an interview with Vulture detailed the elaborate work it took to sub Notaro into “Army of the Dead.” And it was a choice that paid off, because Tig found herself trending on Twitter after images of her chomping on a cigarillo and decked out in military garb went viral.

(4) KONG IN THE BEGINNING. Here’s the first trailer for a brand new, feature length documentary film concerning the life, death, and Legend of King Kong. Premieres in November. Our own Steve Vertlieb is one of the interviewees!

(5) OMEGA SCI-FI AWARDS. The Roswell Award & Women Hold Up Half the Sky Virtual Celebrity Readings & Awards on May 22 at 11:00 a.m. Pacific will feature sci-fi and fantasy actors David Blue, Ruth Connell, LaMonica Garrett, Phil Lamarr, Tiffany Lonsdale-Hands, Nana Visitor, and Kari Wahlgren.

Pre-registration is required! Event registration and replay access is FREE. Register for the Zoom webinar here.

(6) THE BIRDS. In “Building Beyond: A Birds-Eye View”, Sarah Gailey presents a writing prompt to Mar Stratford and J.M. Coster, and also takes up the challenge.

At 12:00pm Central European Time on Wednesday, May 12th, 2021, the Global Raptor Alliance (formerly the Hawk And Falcon Cooperative) will announce the opening of the Avian Museum of Human History. This museum will feature a bird’s-eye view (literally) of human civilization.

Mar Stratford is a writer from the Mid-Atlantic and friend to all animals. Find zir online at mar-stratford.com or on Twitter.

Gailey: What are a couple of highlights of the avian narrative of human civilization? What kind of artifacts will be featured in the museum?…

(7) MAKE A WISH. Netflix dropped a trailer for Wish Dragon, an animated comedy coming on June 11.

Determined teen Din is longing to reconnect with his childhood best friend when he meets a wish-granting dragon that leads him on an adventure a thousand years in the making.

(8) MEDIA ANNIVERSARY.

May 12, 1989 — On this day in 1989, The Return Of Swamp Thing premiered.  The follow-up to Swamp Thing, it was directed by Jim Wynorski,  with production by Benjamin Melniker and Michael E. Uslan. The story was written by Neil Cuthbert and Grant Morris.  It starred Dick Durock and Heather Locklear who replaced Adrienne Barbeau as the female lead who was in Swamp Thing.  Louis Jourdan also returns as a spot-on Anton Arcane. The audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes currently give it a middling fifty five percent rating thought the  original Swamp Thing series which also stars Durock in contrast has an eighty three percent rating among audience reviewers there! 

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]

  • Born May 12, 1812 – Edward Lear.  Famous in his day as a painter and illustrator.  First major bird artist to draw from live birds; look at this parrot.  Here are some Albanians.  Here’s Masada.  His musical settings for Tennyson’s poems were the only ones Tennyson approved of.  Known today as a writer of nonsense.  We may never see an owl dancing with a pussycat, but they do in his creation – in a hundred languages.  (Died 1888) [JH]
  • Born May 12, 1828 – Dante Gabriel Rossetti.  He was Gabriel Charles Dante Rossetti, but put his third name first in honor of The Divine Comedy.  Founded the Pre-Raphaelite school of art because he thought Raphael (1483-1520) had ruined things; see how this led DGR to imagine Proserpine.  His poetry too was fantastic.  He is credited with the word yesteryear.  He loved wombats.  (Died 1882) [JH]
  • Born May 12, 1902 – Philip Wylie.  A dozen novels, as many shorter stories for us; hundreds of works all told.  Gladiator was an inspiration for Superman.  When Worlds Collide (with Edwin Balmer) inspired Alex Raymond’s Flash Gordon.  Columnist, editor, screenwriter, adviser to the chairman of the Joint Congressional Committee for Atomic Energy, vice-president of the Int’l Game Fish Ass’n. Wrote “Anyone Can Raise Orchids” for The Saturday Evening Post.  In The Disappearance a cosmic blink forces all men to get along without women, all women without men.  (Died 1971) [JH]
  • Born May 12, 1907 Leslie Charteris. I really hadn’t thought of the Simon Templar aka The Saint series as being genre but both ISFDB and ESF list the series with the latter noting that “Several short stories featuring Templar are sf or fantasy, typically dealing with odd Inventions or Monsters (including the Loch Ness Monster and Caribbean Zombies.” (Died 1993.) (CE)
  • Born May 12, 1928 Robert “Buck” Coulson. Writer, well-known fan, filk songwriter and fanzine editor. He and his wife, writer and fellow filker Juanita Coulson, edited the fanzine Yandro which they produced on a mimeograph machine, and which was nominated for the Hugo Award ten years running right through 1968, and won in 1965. Yandro was particularly strong on reviewing other fanzines. Characters modeled on and named after him appear in two novels by Wilson Tucker, Resurrection Days and To the Tombaugh Station. (Died 1999.) (CE) 
  • Born May 12, 1937 – Betsy Lewin, age 84.  Illustrated twoscore books, some ours.  Here is Click, Clack, Moo (Caldecott Honor).  Here is Penny.  Here is No Such Thing.  Here is a note on BL and her husband Ted.  [JH]
  • Born May 12, 1938 David Pelham, 83. Artist and Art Director at Penguin Books from 1968 to 1979 who was responsible for some of the most recognizable cover art in genre books to date. He did the cog-eyed droog for Anthony Burgess’s novel A Clockwork Orange in 1972. There’s a great interview with him here. (CE)
  • Born May 12, 1942 Barry Longyear, 79. Best known for the Hugo- and Nebula Award–winning novella Enemy Mine, which became a film by that name as well. Gerrold would later novelize it. An expanded version of the original novella as well as two novels completing the trilogy, The Tomorrow Testament and The Last Enemy make up The Enemy Papers. I’m very fond of his Circus World series, less so of his Infinity Hold series. (CE)
  • Born May 12, 1950 Bruce Boxleitner, 71. His greatest genre role was obviously Captain John Sheridan on Babylon 5. (Yes, I loved the show.) Other genre appearances being Alan T. Bradley in Tron, Tron: Legacy, and voicing that character in the Tron: Uprising series. He has a recurring role on Supergirl as President Baker. (CE) 
  • Born May 12, 1958 – Patricia Finney, age 63.  Five novels for us, of which three are told by a dog in Doglish; her first was published before she was 18.  A dozen others (some under different names); a radio play.  Higham Award.  “When I was seven I had to write a story about anything for school.  Naturally I wrote about spacemen exploring other galaxies and outwitting jelly aliens….  I got A minus for it (untidy writing, I’m afraid).”  Avocations karate, embroidery, folk music.  Website.  [JH]
  • Born May 12, 1966 – Gilles Francescano, age 55.  A hundred twenty covers, some for work available in English.  Here is L’ère du spathiopithèque.  Here is Roll Over, Amundsen!  Here is Galaxies 3.  Here is The Night Orchid.  Here is The Master of Light.  [JH]
  • Born May 12, 1968 Catherine Tate, 53. Donna Noble, Companion to the Eleventh Doctor. She has extended the role by doing the Doctor Who: The Tenth Doctor Adventures on Big Finish. She also played Inquisitor Greyfax in Our Martyred Lady, a Warhammer 40,000 audio drama, something I did not know existed until now. (CE) 

(10) AND THE TAXI YOU RODE IN ON. “Tintin heirs lose legal battle over artist’s Edward Hopper mashups”The Guardian has the final score.

The French artist who was sued by the Tintin creator Hergé’s heirs over his paintings that place the boy adventurer in romantic encounters has won his case after a court deemed them parodies.

Xavier Marabout’s dreamy artworks imagine Tintin into the landscapes of Edward Hopper, including a take on Queensborough Bridge, 1913, or talking with a less-clothed version of Hopper’s Chop Suey.

Earlier this year, the Breton artist was sued for infringement by Moulinsart, which manages the Tintin business. Moulinsart’s lawyer argued that “taking advantage of the reputation of a character to immerse him in an erotic universe has nothing to do with humour”. Marabout’s lawyer argued that the paintings were parody.

On Monday, Moulinsart’s complaint was rejected by the court in Rennes. “The court recognised the parody exception and the humorous intention expressed by my client,” Marabout’s lawyer, Bertrand Ermeneux, said.

The Rennes court also said that Moulinsart had “denigrated” Marabout by contacting galleries showing his work to say that it was infringing, Huffington Post France reported, adding €10,000 (£8,500) in damages for Marabout and €20,000 in legal fees to its ruling.

Taxi pour noctambules (2014)

(11) IN JOY STILL FELT. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] Isaac Asimov, in his autobiography In Joy Still Felt, discusses the 1971 Hugo Awards at Noreascon I.

The Hugo awards banquet on September 5 (my mother’s seventy-sixth birthday) was the high point of the convention.   I sat on the dais, for I was going to hand out the Hugos, and Bob Silverberg was the toastmaster (and an excellent one–no one is better than he at sardonic humor).

Robyn (Asimov’s daughter), radiantly beautiful, was at my side, knitting calmly.  Good old Cliff Simak, now sixty-seven, was guest of honor and, in the course of his talk, he introduced his children, who were in the audience, Robyn whispered to me, ‘You’re not going to introduce me, are you, Dad?’

I whispered back, ‘Not if you don’t want me to, Robyn.’

‘I don’t.’  She knitted a while, then said, ‘Of course, if you want to refer casually to your beautiful, blue-eyed, blond-haired daughter, you may do that.‘  So I did.

Bob Silverberg made frequent reference to the argument that had been made at St. Louis in 1968 [sic; actually 1969], when Harlan Ellison had taken up a collection to pay for some damage inadvertently done to hotel property, and, on collecting more than the required sum, had calmly assigned the excess to his own pet project, a science-fiction class at Clarion College.

Bob therefore made frequent mock announcements of various objects that would be ‘donated to Clarion’ and got a laugh each time.

When it came time to stand up and give out the awards, I couldn’t resist invading Bob’s turf by singing a limerick I had hastily constructed while listening to the toastmastering.  It read:

There was a young woman named Marion
Who did hump and did grind and carry on
The result of her joy
Was a fine bastard boy
Which she promptly donated to Clarion.

The audience saw where it was going halfway through the last line and the roar of laughter drowned out the final three words.

In the course of the banquet Lester (del Rey) presented a moving encomium on John Campbell. He is excellent at that sort of thing and constantly threatens to deliver one on me if it becomes necessary; and that does give me a marvelous incentive to outlive him if I can.”

(12) PHONE HOME? “Voyager spacecraft detects ‘persistent hum’ beyond our solar system” reports CNN. I don’t suppose it’s a dial tone.

…”It’s very faint and monotone, because it is in a narrow frequency bandwidth,” Stella Koch Ocker, a Cornell University doctoral student in astronomy, said in a statement. “We’re detecting the faint, persistent hum of interstellar gas.”

NASA’s Voyager 1 spacecraft flew by Jupiter in 1979, and by Saturn in 1980, before crossing the heliopause in August 2012.

(13) STILL GETTING THERE. Jeff Foust reviews Test Gods for The Space Review.

When Virgin Galactic first announced its suborbital spaceflight plans in 2004, working in cooperation with Scaled Composites just as that company’s SpaceShipOne was on the cusp of winning the $10 million Ansari X PRIZE, it said it would begin commercial service as soon as late 2007. It’s 2021, and the company has yet to take a paying customer to the edge of space. SpaceShipTwo hasn’t made a trip to suborbital space since February 2019, and a flight in December 2020 was aborted just as its hybrid engine ignited because of a computer malfunction that’s taken months to correct.

Virgin Galactic’s delays and setbacks have been well-chronicled here and elsewhere, but not to the same level of detail as in Nicholas Schmidle’s new book, Test Gods. Schmidle was embedded for several years in Virgin Galactic, starting not long after the October 2014 accident that destroyed the first SpaceShipTwo and killed its co-pilot, Mike Alsbury. He was such a frequent visitor to the company’s Mojave facilities, sitting in on meetings and interviewing people, that one new hire thought he was a fellow employee.

Schmidle tells the story of Virgin Galactic largely through one of its pilots, Mark Stucky, with whom he spent much of his time while at the company…. 

(14) VERSUS LONELINESS. SOLOS premieres May 21 in the US and select territories and June 25 worldwide on Amazon Prime Video. Io9 warms up the audience in “Amazon Sci-Fi Anthology Solos”

“We all feel alone in different ways,” says Morgan Freeman in this new trailer for Solos. “In feeling alone, we are somehow all together.” That seems as perfect a thesis statement for Amazon Prime’s upcoming TV series as possible.

The show, from Hunters creator David Well, is not the stealth sequel to Solo, but it does give us two Anthony Mackies having a heart to heart, as well as Dame Helen Mirren on a lonely space voyage, Legion’s Dan Stevens hugging Freeman, and a lot more. See for yourself:

(15) VIDEO OF THE DAY. In “Honest Game Trailers:  Nier Replicant” on YouTube, Fandom Games says that this Americanized version is :a master class in feeling sadness and is a game for people who “love to cry about robots” and give up fighting for long sessions of video garning and “searching for household fruits.”

[Thanks to JJ, Michael Toman, John King Tarpinian, Steve Vertlieb, Cat Eldridge, John Hertz, Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, and Martin Morse Wooster for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day James Reynolds with an assist from Anna Nimmahus.]

Pixel Scroll 1/14/21 The Unpleasant Pixel Of Jonathan Scroll

(1) COSMIC RAY. The Waukegan Public Library is taking submissions to its Cosmic Bradbury Writing Contest through January 29. Complete guidelines at the link. The winning submission will be awarded a $50 Amazon gift card and will be formally recognized on the library website.

…Venture into the deep expanses of space and the planets it contains. Show off your imagination and creativity by writing an original short story with the theme of space and space travel.

Does your universe have alien life forms or is it slowly being colonized by a vastly expanding human race? If you impress the judges and make Ray Bradbury proud, you will be beamed a $50 Amazon gift card!

Submission Deadline is January 29, 2021. For writers 14 years and older. Submissions limited to 5 pages (single-spaced, 12-point font).

(2) ANOTHER AGE. James Davis Nicoll’s Young People Read Old SFF reaches the end of its run through Journey Press’ Rediscovery anthology with Pauline Ashwell’s “Unwillingly to School.” 

Ashwell is an author whose work I have read before Rediscovery Vol 1. Less than entirely usefully, the sole work of hers I have read was 1992’s Unwillingly to Earth, which collects the Lizzie Lee stories, of which Unwilling to School is the first. I do not, therefore, have much sense of her skills outside this particular series. Unwillingly to Earth struck me a bit old-fashioned in 1992. Since the first instalment was written in 1958, that’s not terribly surprising.

Still, readers nominated Ashwell’s fiction enough to nominate her for the ?“Best New Author” Hugo. Twice. Not only that but twice in the same year, courtesy of a pen-name and the difficulty fans had discovering that Pauline Ashwell and Paul Ash were the same person. Will my Young People think as highly of her story? Let’s find out.

(3) MAKING CHANGE. Sarah Gailey talks about worldbuilding – building the one we’re in — at Here’s the Thing. “Building Beyond”.

Humans are built to imagine. That, to me, is one of our best qualities: the ability to hypothesize, to wonder, to create whole universes out of nothing at all. Whether or not you think of yourself as a writer, you can generate a world with your mind. Isn’t that just fucking amazing?

Part of why I love this ability we all share is because it can be used to change the shape of reality. When we let ourselves imagine new worlds, we start to realize that the world we live in is just as mutable as the worlds we imagine. When we start to believe that change is possible at all, all the doors fly open, and we start to believe that we can make change happen.

I think we could all use some of that belief right now, in a world where things are different. In a world we can build, together….

(4) READ AGAIN. Silvia Moreno-Garcia and Lavie Tidhar signal boost several authors whose novels deserve a new look in “Let’s talk about fantasy and science fiction books that have fallen off the radar” at the Washington Post.

…Tanith Lee was a literary great: She was the first woman to win the British Fantasy Award for a novel. I loved her Secret Books of Paradys, a series of Gothic, interlinked stories set in an alternate Paris, but she worked in all kinds of modes. Alas, she eventually had trouble selling her work. Her titles came out from smaller and smaller presses and were difficult to find. Lee died in 2015 and recently DAW/Penguin began reissuing her catalogue. You can now find titles such as “The Birthgrave,” “Electric Forest” and “Sabella.”

(5) WORLDCON LAWSUIT UPDATE. Jon Del Arroz today reported he gave a deposition in his lawsuit against Worldcon 76’s parent corporation.

In February 2019, the court tossed four of the five causes of action, the case continues on the fifth complaint, defamation. (Not libel.)

(6) STATE HAS EYE ON AMAZON. “Connecticut probes Amazon’s e-book business” according to The Hill.

Connecticut is probing Amazon’s e-book distribution for potential anticompetitive behavior, according to the state’s attorney general. 

“Connecticut has an active and ongoing antitrust investigation into Amazon regarding potentially anticompetitive terms in their e-book distribution agreements with certain publishers,” Connecticut Attorney General William Tong (D) said in a statement. 

Tong noted that Connecticut has previously taken action to protect competition in e-book sales. 

When the Justice Department sued Apple in 2012 alleging it conspired with major publishers to raise the price of e-books, Connecticut was among states that filed their own lawsuit against Apple, The Wall Street Journal noted. The Journal was the first to report on Connecticut’s Amazon probe…

(7) BE ON THE LOOKOUT. In “Nine Great Science Fiction Thrillers” on CrimeReads, Nick Petrie recommends novels by Heinlein, Dick, and Leckie that are based on crimes.

The Gone World, by Tom Sweterlitsch (2018)

The Gone World was recommended to me by my local indie bookseller and I was immediately smitten.  The protagonist is Naval investigator Shannon Moss, who is chasing the killers of a Navy Seal’s family and trying to find his missing teenage daughter. 

The wrinkle is here is a secret Navy program sending astronauts forward in time to solve the riddle of the impending end of the world that gets closer with each attempt to solve the problem. The storytelling is complex, lyrical, and metaphysical without sacrificing intensity—I could not turn the pages fast enough.  Sweterlitsch is very, very good and I can’t wait for his next book.

(8) REACHING THE END OF THE UNIVERSE. The Horn Book has “Five questions for Megan Whalen Turner” who’s wrapping up a series.

Megan Whalen Turner’s The Thief (with that never-to-be-bettered twist at the end!) was published in 1996. Now, after six books set in that unforgettably detailed world, full of political machinations, double crosses, dubious motivations, and familial obligations, the series comes to a close with Return of the Thief (Greenwillow, 12 years and up).

1. You’ve spent almost twenty-five years in the universe of Attolia. What will you miss most about writing about it?

Megan Whalen Turner: This has been such a bewildering year, I’m not sure of my own feelings anymore, but I think the answer is…nothing? I know that other authors have gotten to the end of their long-running series and felt a sense of loss, but I don’t. Very much to the contrary. I feel like I hooked a whale twenty-five years ago, and after playing the line for so long, I’ve finally landed it — maybe because, for me, finishing this book doesn’t mean shutting the door on the whole world. There’s room left for more storytelling — if I ever want to go back and write about Sophos’s sisters and their mother, or to follow up any number of loose threads left to the imagination. It’s this one narrative arc that has finally reached its conclusion, and that’s just immensely satisfying.

(9) MARVEL PRIMER. Vanity Fair tutors readers in “WandaVision: A Complete Beginner’s Guide to the New Marvel Show”. Useful for people like me who mostly know about the kind of comics found on tables at the barber shop. (Need to know anything about Sgt. Rock?)

Who Is Wanda? Wanda Maximoff, a.k.a. Scarlet Witch, has a long history in Marvel comics. She officially joined the film franchise in 2015, with Avengers: Age of Ultron. As you may or may not recall, that movie was a Joss Whedon joint—so if you’re a fan of his non-Marvel work, like Buffy the Vampire Slayer or Firefly, it may come as no surprise that his version of Wanda was an angsty, troubled, superpowered teen girl with a tragic backstory. Think of her as Buffy Summers meets River Tam meets Willow Rosenberg. She also sported an outrageous Eastern European accent, which the MCU, in its infinite wisdom, decided to randomly drop without ever really mentioning it again. 

So yes: Wanda hails from a fictional Eastern European country called Sokovia. In much of her time in the comics she’s a mutant, like the X-Men (you know, Wolverine, etc?). But because Marvel Studios did not, at the time of her film debut, own the rights to the X-Men, the films instead called her—vaguely—a “miracle.” (More on that in a bit.) Wanda had a twin brother named Pietro, a.k.a. Quicksilver (Aaron Taylor-Johnson), who could run very fast—but died, tragically, in Ultron…. 

(10) SPREADING THE WORD. E. Everett Evans, for whom the Big Heart Award was originally named, was responsible for what may have been the first appearance of the word “fanzine” in a newspaper, when he was interviewed for this Battle Creek [Mich.] Enquirer article published on October 5, 1941 (p.26) about the “Galactic Roamers” organization. The word had been coined only a year earlier by Louis Russell Chauvenet in the October 1940 issue of his fanzine, Detours

(11) MEDIA BIRTHDAYS.

  • January 14, 1981 Scanners premiered. Directed by David Cronenberg and produced by Claude Héroux, it starred Jennifer O’Neill, Stephen Lack, Patrick McGoohan, Lawrence Dane and Michael Ironside. Reviewers, with the exception of Roger Ebert who despised it with all of his soul, generally liked it, and reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes currently give it a healthy 64% rating. 
  • January 14, 2007 — The animated Flatland film was released on DVD.  It was directed by Ladd Ehlinger Jr., the animated feature was an adaptation of the Edwin A. Abbott novel, Flatland: A Romance of Many Dimensions. The screenplay was written by author Tom Whalen with music was composed by Mark Slater.  It starred Chris Carter, Megan Colleen and Ladd Ehlinger Jr.  It was well received by critics snd currently has a rating of seventy percent among audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes. 

(12) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]

  • Born January 14, 1915 – Lou Tabakow.  Founding Secretary-Treasurer of the Cincinnati Fantasy Group, then its long-time head (“Dictator”).  Co-founded Midwestcon, chaired many, also Octocon (the Ohio one, not e.g. the Irish one).  Fan Guest of Honor at Windycon I, Dubuqon II, Rivercon V.  Big Heart (our highest service award).  At SunCon the 35th Worldcon entered the Masquerade (our costume competition) with Joan Bledig as “TAFF and DUFF, visitors from the planet FIAWOL”, winning Best Aliens and Best Presentation.  Wrote “The Astonishing Adventures of Isaac Intrepid” stories with Mike Resnick; MR’s appreciation here.  (Died 1981) [JH]
  • Born January 14, 1921 – Ken Bulmer.  First (honorary) President of British Fantasy Society. Guest of Honor at Eastercon 19, Novacon 3, SfanCon 5, Shoestringcon I, BECCON ’83, Cymrucon 1984.  TAFF delegate.  Fanzines e.g. Steam and the legendary Nirvana.  A hundred novels, as many shorter stories; eighty “Kenneth Johns” science essays with John Newman; historical fiction.  Edited Foundation and New Writings in SF.  (Died 2005) [JH]
  • Born January 14, 1921 – Don Ford.  Chaired Cinvention the 7th Worldcon.  Co-founded Midwestcon and chaired the first one.  Collector.  CFG long celebrated the Tabakow-Ford birthday.  TAFF delegate; first U.S. TAFF Administrator.  Ron Bennett’s appreciation here – note, Skyrack the RB fanzine is skyr ack the shire oak.  (Died 1965) [JH]
  • Born January 14, 1924 Guy Williams. Most remembered as Professor John Robinson on Lost in Space though some of you may remember him as Don Diego de la Vega and his masked alter ego Zorro in the earlier Zorro series.  (Is it genre? You decide. I think it is.) He filmed two European genre films, Il tiranno di Siracusa (Damon and Pythias) and Captain Sinbad as well. (Died 1989.) (CE) 
  • Born January 14, 1931 – Joe Green, age 90; hello, Joe.  Guest of Honor at Palm Beach Con, Necronomicon ’97.  Phoenix Award.  Opened his home to pilgrim fans watching the Apollo launches.  Eight novels, five dozen shorter stories (two with Shelby Vick, two with daughter Rosy Lillian a second-generation fan, one in Last Dangerous Visions).  Appreciation of Ray Lafferty in Feast of Laughter 4.  [JH]
  • Born January 14, 1948 Carl Weathers, 73. Most likely best remembered among genre fans as Al Dillon in Predator, but he has some other SFF creds as well. He was a MP officer in Close Encounters of the Third Kind, General Skyler in Alien Siege, Dr. Artimus Snodgrass in the very silly The Sasquatch Gang comedy and he voiced Combat Carl in Toy Story 4. And no, I’m not forgetting he’s currently playing Greef Karga on The Mandalorian series. I still think his best role ever was Adam Beaudreaux on Street Justice but that’s very, very not genre. (CE) 
  • Born January 14, 1949 Lawrence Kasdan, 72. Director, screenwriter, and producer. He’s best known early on as co-writer of The Empire Strikes BackRaiders of the Lost Ark and Return of the Jedi. He also wrote The Art of Return of the Jedi with George Lucas which is quite superb. He’s also one of the writers lately of Star Wars: The Force Awakens and Solo: A Star Wars Story. (CE) 
  • Born January 14, 1950 – Arthur Byron Cover, age 71.  Fifteen novels, a score of shorter stories including one for Wild Cards, one in LDV; also television.  Long career with the Dangerous Visions bookshop in Los Angeles.  Interviewed Dick, Ellison, Spinrad for Vertex.  Essays, review, letters in Delap’sNY Rev SFOmniSF Eye.  [JH]
  • Born January 14, 1962 Jemma Redgrave, 59. Her first genre role was as Violette Charbonneau in the “A Time to Die” episode of  Tales of the Unexpected which was also her first acting role. Later genre roles are scant but include a memorable turn as Kate Lethbridge-Stewart, daughter of Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart on Doctor Who. Not at all surprisingly,she has also appeared as Stewart as the lead in myriad UNIT adventures for Big Finish Productions. (CE) 
  • Born January 14, 1964 Mark Addy, 57. He’s got a long history in genre films showing up first as Mac MacArthur in Jack Frost, followed by the lead in The Flintstones in Viva Rock Vegas (why did anyone make this?), Roland in A Knight’s Tale (now that’s a film), Friar Tuck In Ridley Scott’s Robin Hood (has anyone seen this?) and voicing Clyde the Horse in the just released Mary Poppins Returns. Television work includes Robert Baratheon on Games of Thrones, Paltraki on a episode on Doctor Who, “The Battle of Ranskoor Av Kolos”, and he was Hercules on a UK series called Atlantis. (CE) 
  • Born January 14, 1967 Emily Watson, 54. Her first genre appearance is in Equilibrium as Mary O’Brien before voicing Victoria Everglot in Tim Burton’s Corpse Bride. Next is she’s Anne MacMorrow is in the Celtic fantasy The Water Horse: Legend of the Deep. She appeared apparently in a Nineties radio production of The Wolves of Willoughby Chase but I’ve no information on it. (CE) 
  • Born January 14, 1973 – Jessica Andersen, Ph.D., age 48.  A dozen novels for us, twoscore all told.  Landscaper, horse trainer.  Has read a score of books by L. McMaster Bujold.  [JH]

(13) COMICS SECTION.

  • xkcd has rules for living in a 1/10,000th scale world. Very helpful for people who are taller than Godzilla.

(14) TINTIN ON THE BLOCK. If the late Fred Patten had a few million Euros to spare he’d have bought this. “Tintin cover art sells for record breaking €3.2m”The Guardian tells why it went for so much.

A rejected Tintin cover illustrated by Hergé that was gifted to a child and kept in a drawer for decades has set a new world record as the most expensive comic book artwork, selling at auction for €3.2m (£2.8m) on Thursday.

Le Lotus Bleu was created in 1936 by the Belgian artist, born Georges Remi, using Indian ink, gouache and watercolour. It had been intended for the eponymous cover of his fifth Tintin title, which sees the boy reporter head to China in order to dismantle an opium trafficking ring.

Hergé was told the painting would be too expensive to mass produce because it featured too many colours, so he painted another version with a black dragon and a blank red background, which became the cover. He then gave the first artwork to Jean-Paul Casterman, the seven-year-old son of his editor, Louis Casterman. It was folded in six and put in a drawer, where it stayed until 1981, when Jean-Paul asked Hergé to sign it….

(15) POWDER MAGE. [Item by Paul Weimer.] I’ve read and really enjoyed these novels, so I do hope this come to fruition. “Joseph Mallozzi To Adapt Fantasy Novel ‘Powder Mage’ As TV Series”Deadline has the details.

…The drama series will take place in the Nine Nations, a fictional world in which magic collides with 18th century technology against the backdrop of political and social revolution. At the heart of the story are Powder Mages, unique individuals who gain magical abilities from common gunpowder.

The series is a fight for survival as mythical gods return to battle for a world that has changed in their absence. It will feature epic battles, gritty magic, heart-stopping duels, cunning political maneuvers, intrepid investigators, and shocking betrayals.

The Powder Mage trilogy was first published in 2013 and has sold over 700,000 copies. Mallozzi will exec produce with No Equal’s J.B. Sugar, Frantic’s Jamie Brown, and McClellan….

(16) DRILL ENDS. Part of NASA’s InSight lander was unable to perform its mission: “RIP: Mars digger bites the dust after 2 years on red planet”.

NASA declared the Mars digger dead Thursday after failing to burrow deep into the red planet to take its temperature.

Scientists in Germany spent two years trying to get their heat probe, dubbed the mole, to drill into the Martian crust. But the 16-inch-long (40-centimeter) device that is part of NASA’s InSight lander couldn’t gain enough friction in the red dirt. It was supposed to bury 16 feet (5 meters) into Mars, but only drilled down a couple of feet (about a half meter).

Following one last unsuccessful attempt to hammer itself down over the weekend with 500 strokes, the team called it quits.

… The mole’s design was based on Martian soil examined by previous spacecraft. That turned out nothing like the clumpy dirt encountered this time.

InSight’s French seismometer, meanwhile, has recorded nearly 500 Marsquakes, while the lander’s weather station is providing daily reports. On Tuesday, the high was 17 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 8 degrees Celsius) and the low was minus 56 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 49 degrees Celsius) at Mars’ Elysium Planitia, an equatorial plain.

The lander recently was granted a two-year extension for scientific work, now lasting until the end of 2022.

(17) NUMBER NINE. Running online from February 13-18, the “I Heart Pluto Festival 2021 – Celebrating the 91st anniversary of Pluto’s discovery” is organized by the Home of Pluto, Lowell Observatory.

The I Heart Pluto Festival is going virtual! Show your love for our frosty ninth planet that was discovered in cold and snowy Flagstaff, Arizona by Clyde Tombaugh 91 years ago on February 18, 1930.

(18) THE NEW NUMBER ONE. In “Video games have replaced music as the most important aspect of youth culture” at The Guardian, Mike Monahan argues that video games are as central to the lives of today’s teenagers as music was to earlier generations.

It would be incorrect to say video games went mainstream in 2020. They’ve been mainstream for decades. But their place in pop culture feels far more central – to gamers and non-gamers alike – than ever before. In part, this is due to desperate marketers hunting for eyeballs in a Covid landscape of cancelled events. Coachella wasn’t happening, but Animal Crossing was open was for business. Politicians eager to “Rock the Vote” looked to video games to reach young voters. (See: Joe and Kamala’s virtual HQ and AOC streaming herself playing Among Us.) The time-honored tradition of older politicians trying to seem young and hip at a music venue has been replaced by older politicians trying to seem young and hip playing a video game. Yes, quarantine was part of this. But, like so many trends during the pandemic, Covid didn’t spark this particular trajectory so much as intensify it. Long before the lockdowns, video games had triumphed as the most popular form of entertainment among young people.

(19) STEP IN TIME. Dick Van Dyke is one of the “2021 Kennedy Center Honorees”NPR has the story.

…Master of pratfalls, goofy facial expressions and other forms of physical humor, 95 year old Dick Van Dyke danced on rooftops in Mary Poppins, tripped over the ottoman on The Dick Van Dyke Show and wise-cracked with his fellow security guards in the Night At the Museum movies “with a charm that has made him one of the most cherished performers in show business history, says Kennedy Center President Deborah Rutter. To join the “illustrious group” of just over 200 artists who’ve received Kennedy Center Honors, says Van Dyke in a statement, “is the thrill of my life.”

(20) BIT OF A MYSTERY. Keith Thompson, a longtime 770 subscriber, says he got a strange result when he searched for Chuck Tingle’s new book.

(21) VIDEO OF THE DAY. In his latest appearance on Late Night with Seth Meyers, Neil Gaiman explained

that a previous appearance’s aphorism that “Writers need to find their way to boredom to inspire creativity,” only applies if you’re not actively terrified at the same time. Calling living under stifling COVID precautions like “being locked in the cellar with a bomb—and several poisonous snakes,” Gaiman said that he’d been talking more about being stuck on the tube when the world isn’t embroiled in self-devouring madness so that your creative mind can wander, happily untroubled that it might be killed at any moment.

[Thanks to Martin Morse Wooster, John Hertz, JJ, Cat Eldridge, Michael Toman, Mike Kennedy, John King Tarpinian, Dann, Paul Weimer, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Joe H.]

Pixel Scroll 4/21/19 A Scroll Without A Pixel Is Like A Walrus Without An Antenna

(1) LITERARY DIVE. Juliette Wade and her Dive Into Worldbuilding team interview “Caroline Ratajski”. There’s a detailed synopsis you can read at the link, and a video recording you can see on YouTube.

…We asked how writing a chapter every two weeks for an audience affects her writing process. It does put certain limits on her. She can’t revise anything that came before. She needs to give events a runway, wants to avoid writing a specific year when events occurred, etc. She has an outline, and she has an outline of how the characters should interact and grow over time. She also has a sense of how she wants the garden to develop, and what she wants the climax to look like.

Carrie [Caroline] described this as the “fanfic model of writing.” She used to write fanfic, so it works for her. The response of the audience buoys her. She says this has all the advantages of fanfic, and also The Secret Garden is out of copyright, so that saves a lot of trouble. Patreon is a good vehicle for serial storytelling. Carrie said she wasn’t reinventing anything. The original book was also a serial that was collected into a book. Carrie explained that she is not echoing the chapter structure, but following the narrative beats pretty closely. Lennox does meet her cousin in secret. She does have a somewhat combative relationship with her maid, though in the retelling, the maid is not Dickon’s sister.

(2) PRE-WEDDING ALBUM. Kurt Erichsen, 2002 Rotsler Award winner, has published a collection of his strips in Murphy’s Manor – the 30-Year Wedding.

Of all the cartoon projects I’ve drawn, by far the biggest is my LGBT comic strip, Murphy’s Manor. It was syndicated in local Gay and Lesbian newspapers from 1981 to 2008 – 1,183 comic strips total.

I’m happy to announce a new collection of Murphy’s Manor comic strips in a self-pub book, distributed through Amazon. The title is Murphy’s Manor – the 30-Year Wedding. It includes cartoons about gay relationships, ultimately leading to marriage, with or without approval of the government. All told, there are 120 comic strips: 98 from the strip’s original run, and 22 new ones. Front and back covers are in color; the interior comic strips are black and white.

In 2015 when John and I were able to get married legally, I decided to proceed with the book. It was slow going – can you believe it took me nearly 4 years to put it together?? Most of which was in production of the new cartoons. I used to produce 4 strips a month!

Click on this link: Murphy’s Manor – the 30 Year Wedding. I am also working on an eBook (Kindle) version. This is a new format for me, and working out all the kinks could take a bit of time. Hopefully not another four years.

(3) TINTINNABULATION. Open Culture reveals“How Andy Warhol and Tintin Creator Hergé Mutually Admired and Influenced One Another”. Bet you didn’t know about that.

The field of Tintin enthusiasts (in their most dedicated form, “Tintinologists”) includes some of the best-known modern artists in history. Roy Lichtenstein, he of the zoomed-in comic-book aesthetic, once made Tintin his subject, and Tintin’s creator Hergé, who cultivated a love for modern art from the 1960s onward, hung a suite of Lichtenstein prints in his office. As Andy Warhol once put it, “Hergé has influenced my work in the same way as Walt Disney. For me, Hergé was more than a comic strip artist.” And for Hergé, Warhol seems to have been more than a fashionable American painter: in 1979, Hergé commissioned Warhol to paint his portrait, and Warhol came up with a series of four images in a style reminiscent of the one he’d used to paint Jackie Onassis and Marilyn Monroe.

(4) <ROLLEYES>. Dear Simon & Schuster, There is no such thing as a Hugo Award for Best New Writer.

(5) PULP BOWIE. “Artist Reimagines David Bowie Songs as Old Pulp Fiction Book Covers” at My Modern Met.

When LA-based screenwriter Todd Alcott isn’t writing for feature films, he’s working on his artistic side project. He merges his love of pulp fiction with music to create David Bowie-inspired vintage comic book covers.

Alcott uses pre-existing vintage paperbacks as his starting point, before digitally altering the text and parts of the image to create his mashup prints. These once loved, now tattered and worn books have been given a new lease on life, and Alcott has chosen no better subject to grace their covers than the equally beloved Starman. And best of all, Bowie’s fascination with sci-fi, his outlandish fashion, and his love of the antihero make him a natural fit as a graphic novel protagonist.

(6) A COMING OF AGE STORY. Middle age, that is. Past TAFF winner Jim Mowatt’s confession begins —

My wife often teases me about my being associated (married) with a woman who has attended an Oxbridge institution, is the daughter of a civil servant and eats avocado. A fruit that has become so closely associated with privileged millennials. To provide his wife with the foodstuffs she desires, working class Jim from Leeds has to creep into a supermarket, buy an avocado and escape from the store without been seen in the possession of this pompous fruit.

However, I now wonder whether I am reaching the stage where I must embrace the fact that I’m no longer Jim from the block and that I have reached that rather unnerving state of being that enables me to buy ridiculous fruit, not always worry about the price of things and enjoy gentle middle England humour. It’s a terrifying thought but maybe I should just relax and drown in the crocheted gentility of it all.

(7) D&D. In “How Dungeons & Dragons somehow became more popular than ever”, Washington Post writer Gendy Alimurung discusses how Dungeons and Dragons has evolved to attract Millennials, including finding other players through Meetup groups, and having the fifth edition of the D&D manual in 2014 attract more women by being less sexist (women’s strength is no longer always less than men’s and no “sexist artwork–no more armored bikinis, no more monsters with breasts, no more topless ladies (unless her character really, really calls for it” that ensures that 38 percent of D&D players are now women.

(8) BOWEN OBIT. The English writer John Bowen (1924-2019) reportedly died April 18 at the age of 94. Matthew Davis sent this tribute:

Bowen wrote numerous offbeat thrillers (in a territory between Angus Wilson and Patricia Highsmith), and “After the Rain” (1958) is about an apocalyptic flood, but he has a small cult reputation in British fantasy and science fiction television. His 1970 TV play “Robin Redbreast” has been rediscovered and championed as a contemporary folk horror equal to “The Wicker Man”. He wrote half of the episodes of the outstanding 1971 Orwellian dystopian TV series “The Guardians”, and also contributed several fine ghost stories during the form’s 1970s TV heyday. Not Sfnal at all are the episodes he wrote of the TV mystery series “Hetty Wainthrop Investigates” – the original book was written by his partner David Cook

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born April 21, 1928 Dee Hartford, 91. Miss Iceland, companion of Mister Freeze in two episodes of the Sixties Batman show.  Also had appearances on Time Tunnel, Lost in Space, Land of The Giants, The Man from U.N.C.L.E., The Twilight Zone, The Outer Limits and The Alfred Hitchcock Hour. Yes, she was very pretty and that really counted in that time.
  • Born April 21, 1939 John Bangsund, 80. Prominent Australian fan in the Sixties through Eighties. A major force with Andrew I. Porter behind Australia winning the right to host the 1975 Aussiecon, and he was Toastmaster at the Hugo Award ceremony at that convention.
  • Born April 21, 1945 Takao Koyama, 74. Japanese anime scriptwriter. He is one of the most influential individuals in anime, due to his seminal scripts and his teaching of the next generation of writers. Works that he’s done scripts for which are available with subtitles include The Slayers, Dragon Ball Z and Spirit Hero Wataru.
  • Born April 21, 1954 James Morrison, 65. Lt. Col. Tyrus Cassius ‘T.C.’ McQueen on the short-lived but much remembered Space: Above and Beyond series. Starship Troopers without the politics. He also appeared as Warden Dwight Murphy in the third season of Twin Peaks.  He’s got far too many one-off genre appearances to list here, so do your favorite.
  • Born April 21, 1965 Fiona Kelleghan, 54. Author of the critical anthology The Savage Humanists In which she identifies a secular, satiric literary movement within the genre. She also did Mike Resnick: An Annotated Bibliography and Guide to His Work. A work in progress by her is Alfred Bester, Grand Master: An Annotated Bibliography.
  • Born April 21, 1979 James McAvoy, 40. In the Frank Herbert’s Children of Dune series, he was Duke Leto II Atreides. Later roles included Mr. Tumnus in The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, Professor Charles Xavier in X-Men film franchise, Victor Frankensteinin Victor Frankenstein and Bill Denbrough in It – Chapter Two

(10) COMICS SECTION.

  • Free Range has Scully and Mulder pursuing the truth about Easter.

(11) A CAT NAMED GOOSE. Dana Marquez tells Sideshow readers “Everything You Need to Know About Captain Marvel’s Cat”. Feel free to eavesdrop.

So what’s up with the Goose the cat anyway? Unless you’ve followed the comics, the film may have lost you there when it introduced the flerken’s surprise powers and alien backstory. She’s not just Nick Fury’s soft spot; she’s a beast- literally! Read along for more information on Goose’s true comic origin and to find out just what the heck a flerken really is.

(12) BAY WATCH. BayCon 2019 is a month away:

(13) LAW ENFORCEMENT ACTIVITY. This crimebreaking headline comes from SYFY Wire: “Norwegian police ‘arrest’ Night King on grounds of animal cruelty and destruction of property”.

In a parody Facebook post from a few days back, the upstanding police officers of Trondheim, Norway proudly announced that they had apprehended the White Walker leader on grounds of animal cruelty and appalling rumors of wall destruction. These are obvious references to the villain’s actions in Season 7, where he killed one of Dany’s dragons (before turning it into an ice zombie) and destroyed The Wall, allowing his undead army to march into the territory of living humans.

“This particular post was meant to be funny; these kind of posts generate a lot of attention and new followers for us. That’s useful when we later ask for help i.e. solving crime or search for missing persons,” the Trondheim police told SYFY Wire in a statement. “Behind the mask is one of our younger officers, handpicked for the job.”

In addition, the post included photos of the Night King (dressed in an orange prison jumpsuit, of course) posing for a mugshot and being led into a solitary jail cell. The arresting officers, jokingly referred to as Trondheim’s night’s watchmen, also accused the Night King of turning once-fruitful regions into desolate wastelands.

(14) HUGO REVIEWS. Steve J. Wright has completed his Hugo Short Story Finalist reviews (and they are excellent reviews, as usual).

(15) NOT COMPLETELY FORGOTTEN. Todd Mason sends along  “Friday’s ‘Forgotten’ Books and More: the links to the reviews: 19 April 2019” – you’ll find links to all these reviews in his post (reviewer’s name first, title and author/editor’s name last).

This week’s books and more, unfairly (or sometimes fairly) neglected, or simply those the reviewers below think you might find of some interest (or, infrequently, you should be warned away from); certainly, most weeks we have a few not at all forgotten titles…

  • Patricia Abbott: News of the World by Paulette Jiles
  • Barbara Barrett: The Edge of Tomorrow by Howard Fast
  • Joachim Boaz: New Worlds SF, April 1964, edited by John Carnel
  • John Boston: Amazing: Fact and Science Fiction Stories,  May 1964, edited by Cele Goldsmith Lalli
  • Ben Boulden: “Hawksbill Station” (novella version) by Robert Silverberg
  • Brian Busby: The March of the White Guard by Gilbert Parker
  • Susanna Calkins: Death and the Joyful Woman by “Ellis Peters” (Edith Pargeter)
  • Martin Edwards: Marion aka Murder Off the Record by John Bingham
  • Peter Enfantino: (Proto-Marvel) Atlas Horror Comics, March 1952
  • Will Errickson: Dead White by Alan Ryan
  • José Ignacio Escribano: La berlina de Prim (“Prim’s Carriage”) by Ian Gibson
  • Curtis Evans: The Cases of Lieutenant Timothy Trant by “Q. Patrick” (Richard Webb and Hugh Wheeler); “Mrs. B’s Black Sheep” by “Q. Patrick”; Speaker of Mandarin by Ruth Rendell
  • Olman Feelyus: Frankincense and Murder by Baynard Kendrick
  • Paul Fraser: Astounding Science-Fiction, September 1943, edited by John W. Campbell, Jr. 
  • John Grant: A Line of Blood by Ben McPherson
  • Aubrey Hamilton: The Dogs of War by Frederick Forsyth
  • Rich Horton: Take a Girl Like You by Kingsley Amis; The Story of Doctor Dolittle by Hugh Lofting; Reduction in Arms and The Barons of Behavior by Tom Purdom; Rachel Swirsky’s short fiction; The Stepsister Scheme by Jim C. Hines; Gene Wolfe, 1931-2019; Fandom Harvest and other fannish writing by Terry Carr
  • Jerry House: The Vanguard of Venus by Landell Bartlett; Eh!, November-December 1954 (Charlton Comics’ first imitation of Mad)
  • Kate Jackson: The Noonday Devil by Ursula Curtiss; Love Lies Bleeding by Edmund Crispin
  • Tracy K.: The Shortest Way to Hades by Sarah Caudwell; Entry Island by Peter May
  • Colman Keane: Deep Cover and Recoil by Brian Garfield
  • George Kelley: The Best of Li’l Abner by Al Capp
  • Joe Kenney: The Great God Now by Edward S. Hanlon; American Avenger #1: Beat a Distant Drum by “Robert Emmett” (Robert L. Waters)
  • Rob Kitchin: IQ by Joe Ide
  • B. V. Lawson: Death on Remand by “Michael Underwood” (John Michael Evelyn)
  • Evan Lewis: “The Ghost of Dutch Emil”  and “Right Hook to Tokyo” by Ed Lacy (prose content in Rangers Comics August 1946 and December 1945 respectively)
  • Steve Lewis: “Murder, 1986” by P. D. James (Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine, October 1970, edited by Frederic Dannay); “A Madonna of the Machine” by Tanith Lee (Other Edens II edited by Christopher Evans and Robert Holdstock); Spit in the Ocean by Shelley Singer; “Long Shot” by Vernor Vinge (Analog Science Fiction/Science Fact, August 1972, edited by Ben Bova); The Saint in New York by Leslie Charteris; Spider-Woman, June 1978, written and illustrated by Marv Wolfman, Carmine Infantino and Tony DeZuniga; “Skin Deep” by Kristin Kathryn Rusch (Amazing Stories, January 1988, edited by Patrick Price)
  • Lawrence Maddox: the Assignment: novels by Edward S. Aarons
  • John F. Norris: Dangerous to Me by “Rae Foley” (Elinore Denniston)
  • John O’Neill: The Nightmare and Other Stories of Dark Fantasy by “Francis Stevens” (Gertrude Barrows Bennett)
  • Matt Paust: Smoke Detector by Eric Wright 
  • James Reasoner: Captain Shark #2: Jaws of Death by “Richard Silver” (Kenneth Bulmer)
  • Richard Robinson: G Stands for Glory: The G-Man Stories by Norvell Page  
  • Gerard Saylor: Directorate S by Steve Coll
  • Jack Seabrook and Peter Enfantino: DC War Comics, October 1974
  • Steven Silver: “Build Your Own A-Bomb and Wake Up the Neighborhood” by George W. Harper (Analog Science Fiction/Science Fact, April 1979, edited by Stanley Schmidt)
  • Victoria Silverwolf: Worlds of Tomorrow, April 1964, edited by Frederik Pohl
  • Dan Stumpf: The Screaming Mimi by Fredric Brown
  • Kevin Tipple: …A Dangerous Thing by Bill Crider, “TomCat”: The Complete Cases of Inspector Allhoff, V. 1 by D. L. Champion; “An Urban Legend Puzzle” by Rintaro Norizuki (translation by Beth Cary), Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine, January 2004, edited by Janet Hutchings; The 3-13 Murders by Thomas B. Black

(16) POWERS NOT USED FOR NICENESS. The Boys premieres on Amazon July 26, 2019.

THE BOYS is an irreverent take on what happens when superheroes, who are as popular as celebrities, as influential as politicians and as revered as Gods, abuse their superpowers rather than use them for good. Subscribe to tvpromosdb on Youtube for more The Boys season 1 promos in HD!

[Thanks to JJ, Martin Morse Wooster, Bonnie McDaniel, Matthew Davis, Chip Hitchcock, Rich Lynch, Hampus Eckerman, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, John King Tarpinian, Todd Mason, Carl Slaughter, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Kip WIlliams.]

Pixel Scroll 3/5/19 Surely You Know, Philately Will Get You Nowhere

(1) THE DEATH OF TRUTH. Brianna Wu is one of the featured victims in The Guardian’s article “Trapped in a hoax: survivors of conspiracy theories speak out “.

Conspiracy theories used to be seen as bizarre expressions of harmless eccentrics. Not any more. Gone are the days of outlandish theories about Roswell’s UFOs, the “hoax” moon landings or grassy knolls. Instead, today’s iterations have morphed into political weapons. Turbocharged by social media, they spread with astonishing speed, using death threats as currency.

…Their growing reach and scale is astonishing. A University of Chicago study estimated in 2014 that half of the American public consistently endorses at least one conspiracy theory. When they repeated the survey last November, the proportion had risen to 61%. The startling finding was echoed by a recent study from the University of Cambridge that found 60% of Britons are wedded to a false narrative.

The segment on Brianna Wu begins:

An accurate floor plan of her house was assembled and published online, along with her address and pictures of her car and license plate. And then there were the death threats – up to 300 by her estimate. One message on Twitter threatened to cut off her husband’s “tiny Asian penis”. The couple evacuated their house and took refuge with friends and in hotels.

Wu now devotes her time to running for Congress from her home in Dedham, Massachusetts. She sees her candidacy as a way of pressing federal authorities to take the problem of online conspiracy theories and harassment seriously. “The FBI employs about 30,000 agents in the US. As best as I can tell there’s no division that is specifically tasked with prosecuting extreme threats online – it’s simply not a priority for them,” she says.

(2) SPACE ADVOCACY. On March 4 representatives of The Planetary Society visited Congressional offices in Washington: “100 Planetary Society Members. 25 States. 1 Day of Action.”

Yesterday, 100 passionate Planetary Society members joined us on Capitol Hill for our Day of Action. They discussed the importance of space science and exploration with their congressional representatives and advocated for NASA’s continued growth. It was a huge success!

Through their efforts, we reached more than 127 congressional offices in 25 different states. We are grateful for the passion and dedication of these members.

(3) A LOT TO LIVE UP TO. Shana O’Neil declares “Captain Marvel meets some of the highest expectations yet for a Marvel movie” in a review for The Verge.

…After all of that, Captain Marvel is in the unenviable position of having to introduce a new character to the MCU, lay out her origin story, tie her in with the current MCU timeline, create backstories for several previously established characters, and set up even more significant elements for Avengers: Endgame. But Captain Marvel mostly bears the weight of those expectations. It rises to the occasion with strong performances and with its directors’ willingness to slow down and take their story seriously, balancing humor, action, and exposition in a carefully calibrated package.

Captain Marvel (Brie Larson) is initially introduced as Vers, a Starforce Agent for the alien Kree race. Vers isn’t a character from the original Captain Marvel comics, but Marvel readers may recognize her fellow Starforce members: Korath the Pursuer (Djimon Hounsou, Guardians of the Galaxy), Minn-Erva (Gemma Chan, Crazy Rich Asians), Bron-Char (Rune Temte, The Last Kingdom), Att-Lass (Algenis Pérez Soto, Sugar), and their leader Yon-Rogg (Jude Law). Vers has powerful Kree abilities: super strength, physical endurance, and the ability to shoot blasts of energy from her fingertips. But she can’t remember how she got those powers, or what her life was like before the Kree found her and brought her to their homeworld of Hala.

(4) BAKER’S DOZEN. Sarah Mangiola posted this last year at The Portalist — “13 Must-Read Hugo Award-Winning Books”. Some of these are short story collections where the title story was the Hugo winner.

Ill Met in Lankhmar and Ship of Shadows

By Fritz Leiber

The 1971 Hugo Award winner for Best Novella, “Ill Met in Lankhmar” recounts the meeting and teaming up of Fafhrd and the Grey Mouser—serving as a prequel of sorts to Leiber’s The Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser book series. Featured alongside four other stories in Swords and Deviltry, “Ill Met in Lankhmar” starts when Gray Mouser and Fafhrd simultaneously ambush the Thieves’ Guild and steal valuable jewels that they themselves had just stolen. Realizing they make a good team, Gray Mouser and Fafhrd join forces and attempt to infiltrate the headquarters of the Thieves’ Guild. 

(5) CREATURE CREATOR. In “The Big Idea: Mallory O’Meara” at Whatever, O’Meara explains the origins of her book The Lady from the Black Lagoon:

…This book started out simply as a biography of Milicent Patrick, an influential artist whose legacy has been purposely obfuscated for decades. She was an illustrator, a concept artist, one of the first female animators at Disney and the designer of the iconic monster from the 1954 science fiction film CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON.

The press and attention that Milicent got as the designer of the Creature was the pinnacle of her career. It also caused her downfall. Her boss at the time was so jealous of her being in the limelight with the Creature that he fired her. Milicent never worked behind the scenes in Hollywood again and no one knew what became of her.

While I was researching and investigating her life, it became clear to me that I couldn’t write about what happened to Milicent Patrick without writing about why it happened to her. It’s easy to hear a sad story about a woman dealing with sexism in the 1950s and think, “Man, what a bummer. That’s just how things were back then!”

But it wasn’t just how things were back then. What happened to Milicent Patrick is still happening. It’s happening right now….

(6) LITIGIOUS LOUT. The Sydney Morning Herald invites you to “Meet Nick Rodwell, Tintin heir and least popular man in Belgium”.

It all started when a circle of Tintin fans in the Netherlands, de Herge Genooschap, ran a few strips in their internal newsletter. They were dragged to court, facing a penalty of up to €100,000 ($154,000).

They are only the latest party to have fallen foul of Nick Rodwell, self-proclaimed “the least popular man in Belgium”.

Mr Rodwell is the British-born manager of Moulinsart, the company that holds the rights to the Herge estate. Students, scholars, admirers and collectors alike have been harshly prosecuted at the faintest sign of a Tintin drawing, with Moulinsart demanding arrests, confiscations and colossal sums out of all proportion with the alleged offences.

(7) OGDEN OBIT. Fanzine fan Steve Ogden died March 1. Rick Bradford paid tribute at the Poopsheet Foundation:

My friend, longtime fan, author, fanzine publisher and comics researcher Steven Ogden died on March 1st, 2019 after a lengthy battle with leukemia and everything that goes along with its treatment.

Steve – along with his wife, Vicki – published fanzines and mini-comics through Spotted Zebra Press/New Spotted Zebra Press since the ’80s (or perhaps slightly earlier). Publications included Ouroborus, the mammoth Brad W. Foster Checklist of Published Works from the 20th Century (1972-2000), Edgar’s Journal, Metaphysical Pornographic Funnies and many others. He was also a longtime member of FAPA (The Fantasy Amateur Press Association).

His wife Vicki asks that instead of flowers donations be made to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society:

(8) TODAY IN HISTORY.

March 5, 1944Captain America premiered theatrically in theaters as a serial.

TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born March 5, 1874 Henry Travers. Only two genre roles to my knowledge, he appeared in The Invisible Man as Dr. Cranley and he was in Death Takes a Holiday as Baron Cesarea. (Died 1965.)
  • Born March 5, 1894 Henry Daniell. His most famous role is SF film was as a Morgana in From the Earth to the Moon. He has more obscure roles over the decades in films such as playing William Easter in Sherlock Holmes in Washington or Dr. Wolfe ‘Toddy’ MacFarlane in The Body Snatcher where he’d have been upstaged by it being the last film of both Karloff and Lugosi. (Died 1963.)
  • Born March 5, 1936 Dean Stockwell, 83. I remember him best as Admiral Al Calavicci, the hologram that advised Sam Beckett on Quantum Leap. Other genre roles included being in The Dunwich Horror as Wilbur Whateley, in The Time Guardian as simply Boss, Doctor Wellington Yueh In Dune, a role I had completely forgotten, and voiced Tim Drake in the excellent  Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker. Series work beyond Quantum Leap includes Twilight ZoneAlfred Hitchcock PresentsMission: Impossible, Night GalleryQuinn Martin’s Tales of the Unexpected (pay attention class, this has showed up before), Star Trek: EnterpriseBattlestar Galactica and Stargate SG-1. 
  • Born March 5, 1942 Mike Resnick, 77. It’s worth noting that he’s has been nominated for 37 Hugo Awards which is a record for writers and won five times. Somewhat ironically nothing I’ve really enjoyed by him has won those Hugos. The novels making my list are Stalking the UnicornThe Red Tape War (with Jack L. Chalker & George Alec Effinger), Stalking the Dragon and, yes, it’s not genre, Cat on a Cold Tin Roof.
  • Born March 5, 1952 Robin Hobb, 67. Whose full legal name is the lovely Margaret Astrid Lindholm Ogden hence her two pen names. I reasonably sure the first thing I read and enjoyed by her was Wizard of the Pigeons, but The Gypsy with Steven Brust was equally enjoyable and had the added bonus of a Boiled in Lead soundtrack. 
  • Born March 5, 1955 Penn Jillette, 64. Performed on Babylon 5 in the episode scripted by Neil Gaiman titled “Day of The Dead” as part of Penn & Teller who portrayed comedians Rebo and Zooty. It’s one of my favorite episodes of the series. Also he had a recurring role on Sabrina the Teenage Witch as Drell, the head of the Witches’ Council. He’s been in Fantasia 2000Toy StoryFuturama: Into the Wild Green YonderSharknado 3: Oh Hell No!Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of SupermanVR.5Space Ghost Coast to Coast and most recently Black Mirror. 
  • Born March 5, 1975 Jolene Blalock, 44. Best known for playing  T’Pol on  Enterprise.  Genre wise, she’s also been in Jason and the Argonauts as Medea, Stargate SG-1 as Ishta, Starship Troopers 3: Marauder as Captain Lola Beck and as the Legend of the Seeker as Sister Nicci.

(9) COMICS SECTION.

  • It’s not only authors who want to GET PAID, so do devices — Bizarro.
  • Garfield is about a fellow who will never have a Mount TBR.

(10) IN CHARACTER. SYFY Wire shares the fun when “J.K. Simmons revives J. Jonah Jameson in Spidey-hating Avengers: Endgame spoof”.

… How would Simmons’ Jameson react to the dusty ending of Avengers: Infinity War? How would he potentially act, if he was to survive, during Avengers: Endgame? Would he finally cut Spider-Man some slack? Would the web-slinger finally earn his respect? 

Thanks to a new spoof made by Lights, Camera, Pod, we don’t have to just sit and wonder. J.K. Simmons himself returned to voice Jameson for this animated video, and, well, see for yourself: 

(11) A CONSTRUCTIVE RESPONSE. Greg Hullender tells how Rocket Stack Rank weathered a storm of public criticism two years ago in this comment at Mad Genius Club. (For background, see “Rocket Stack Rank Issues Apology, Hullender Off Locus Panel”.)

…The way they managed to get us was that we had promised that RSR would be politics-free: focused on the stories alone. But I had been using my reviews to express my annoyance with the use of “non-binary ‘they’” in stories and making it fairly clear I didn’t take the whole non-binary thing seriously. As a long-standing member of the LGBT community, I certainly have the right to voice my opinion of the non-binary movement (although it quickly became clear that I was very out-of-date and should have at least talked to a few non-binary people), but RSR was not the place to have that discussion. Worse, the first my husband (and co-editor) learned of this was when our enemies produced a horrendous “open letter” that was a mix of half-truths and outrageous lies but supported with links to my own reviews. He was, understandably, rather upset with me.

Most embarrassing was that Locus asked me to withdraw from the panel that selects their annual recommended reading list, and issued a press release about it.

We recognized that our enemies wouldn’t be satisfied by anything we did. “If we committed suicide, they’d just say we did it wrong.” So we apologized to our readers for what we genuinely believed I had done wrong, and I went through the old reviews and comments and carefully removed everything that we agreed shouldn’t be there, based on our own principles. They made fun of our apology, of course, but we didn’t care; we didn’t do it for them.

Then we waited to see what happened. We agreed that if volume to the site fell in half, we’d shut it down and find something else to do. It had been a miserable, humiliating experience, and it’s not like we make any money from Rocket Stack Rank. (We brag that we change no fees, run no ads, use no affiliate codes, and never beg for donations.) We think of it as our gift to fandom, and if fans didn’t want it, we wouldn’t keep doing it.

But, volume increased.

During the hullabaloo, volume more than doubled (by all measures) for about a month, based on year-on-year comparisons. But the next few months showed that we kept 20% of that. If we lost any readers, they were more than made up for by the ones who learned about us through this thing. (Maybe it really is true that all publicity is good publicity.) Year-on-year growth has continued, and we’re now actually bigger than some of the semiprozines that Locus reports on (although nowhere near the size of the ones we actually review).

(12) HAGER WINS AGAIN. Storylines Margaret Mahy Medal and Lecture Award for 2019 goes to Mandy Hager for life-time achievement and a distinguished contribution to New Zealand’s literature for young people. Her Singing Home the Whale, about a teenaged boy who befriends a baby orca, won the 2015 New Zealand Book Awards’  Margaret Mahy Book of the Year (see a review here.) Her near-future dystopia The Nature of Ash won the 2013 LIANZA YA Fiction Award (Library and Information Association of New Zealand Aotearoa).

(13) CONTENT WARNING FOR THIS ITEM. Polygon says a “Steam game about raping women will test Valve’s hands-off approach”.

Valve did not immediately respond to a request for comment, but on the game’s website, the developer seems aware that its creation is controversial.

“You can’t reasonable [sic] consider banning rape in fiction without banning murder and torture,” the developer says.

“Most people can separate fiction from reality pretty well, and those that can’t shouldn’t be playing video games,” the developer continues.

Technically, Rape Day does not appear to violate Steam’s current content rules, but the developer appears unsure if the game will make it to the final release without getting banned off the platform. Already, the game has been modified to avoid potential content issues — in one news update, the creator says they got rid of a “baby killing scene” in case it gets marked as child exploitation. Rape Day’s website also lists out a couple of plans of action for what may happen to the game, and the developer, should anything get taken down.

“I have not broken any rules, so I don’t see how my game could get banned unless Steam changes their policies,” the developer wrote. “My game was properly marked as adult and with a thorough description of all of the potentially offensive content before the coming soon page went live on Steam.”

(14) DISPLACED. At The Verge, Andrew Liptak says “Famous Men Who Never Lived is a powerful novel about alternate worlds and the plights of refugees”.

In K. Chess’ debut novel, Famous Men Who Never Lived, at some point in the past, reality diverged, and an alternate timeline played out alongside our own. Then, that world was devastated by a nuclear attack, and extradimensional refugees started showing up in our own reality. As Chess follows the lives of refugees from that alternate world, she delivers a story about immigration and how those who lose everything they’ve ever known are able to cope with their new reality.

(15) SERIAL BOX. Adri Joy finds you can’t improve on four aces: “Microreview [Book]: The Vela, by Yoon Ha Lee, Becky Chambers, Rivers Solomon and S.L. Huang” at Nerds of a Feather.

Serial Box’s new space opera is an action-packed, politically-driven adventure written by an impressive author lineup.

…Together, they take on a space opera that touches on the strengths of all four of these works, while being something very different. Welcome to the system home to Khayyam, Gan-de and Hypatia, where the careless extraction of hydrogen by wealthy inner planets is causing the slow collapse of the sun and the death, over centuries, of all inhabitable worlds – beginning, of course, with the blameless, impoverished outer worlds. Mix in a hardened soldier-for-hire who is herself an escapee from the dying worlds, and her naive non-binary sidekick, and you’ve got an indisputable recipe for success, right?

(16) JUDGMENT RENDERED. Brian Hubbard, in “Microreview [book]: JUDGES Volume 1 by Michael Carroll, Charles J. Eskew, and George Mann” at Nerds of a Feather, wishes the authors didn’t assume the readers already have a lot of knowledge about this series.

How does the world get from the police we know today to Judge Dredd? JUDGES Volume 1 brings us closer to the answer with a trio of short stories set in the Judge Dredd universe. It doesn’t quite reach the bombast of that source material though.

…But if you’re not familiar with the Judges program or the Judge Dredd world, these stories aren’t going to do you a lot of favors in the way of building this world.

(17) IN ONE VOLUME. Rob Bedford assesses “BINTI: The Complete Trilogy by Nnedi Okorafor” at SFFWorld.

To say that the saga of Binti is a modern masterwork is obvious.  Despite the tragedy throughout the series, the physical tragedies, the emotional baggage Binti brought with her when we first met her to the profound affect those physical tragedies had on Binti, one thing was even more clear. Hope. This is very much a forward-thinking series with a charmingly brilliant and empathetic protagonist. Okorafor impressively packs these short novels/novellas with an incredible amount of emotion, fantastical ideas, and philosophical ideals in and of themselves. That the trilogy (plus short story) is under 400 pages and is so powerful is a marvel of storytelling.

(18) THE VERDICT. Camestros Felapton wrote individual reviews of the six 2018 Nebula Awards short story nominees, and now deals with how they work collectively on the literary award’s ballot: “Nebula Shorts: Summing Up”.

I’d contend that there are three clearly exceptional short stories in the Nebula short story finalists. There is a fourth I can see an argument for, there is another that I don’t get but others clearly did and there’s a sixth which, while having many positive qualities, probably shouldn’t be a finalist.

(19) MANY MONSTERS. Ultraman is coming to Netflix (like everything else!)

Years ago, the famous giant of light Ultraman worked to protect peace on Earth. Now, a new champion arises: Shinjiro Hayata, a high-school student who must don the Ultra Suit and the worries that come with it. The son of the former Ultraman, he will become this generation’s new hero! Netflix Original Anime Ultraman starts streaming worldwide April 1st, only on Netflix.

(20) GENRE PLAT. Matthew Johnson left another masterwork in comments today:

All books can be SFnal books, though recent books are bolder
You never know when Dick and Jane might meet with a Beholder
The correct double entrendre
Can make anything genre
You can give a ray gun to Atticus Finch
Let Lennie and George cast a spell in a pinch.

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