Pixel Scroll 9/16/21 50 Shades Of Scrollcraftian Slashfic

(1) A HEART, HAS CHAMBERS. [Item by Olav Rokne.] In their latest edition, WIRED magazine profiles Becky Chambers and talks about both the philosophical underpinning of her writing, and the context in which she’s publishing. The article may be too much of a hagiography for some, but it does provide some insights into what makes her work appealing. “Is Becky Chambers the Ultimate Hope for Science Fiction?”

In a world numbed by cynicisms and divisions, Chambers’ stories are intended to repair—to warm up our insides and restore feeling. So you might say that Chambers is, herself, the tea of our times, a soothing soothsayer whose well-meaning characters act out a fragrant, curative optimism.

(2) THAT’S SHAT. In “William Shatner Reviews Impressions of WIlliam Shatner” on YouTube, Shat reviews impressions of him for Vanity Fair, including a teenager, Jim Carrey, and Bill Nye before he became The Science Guy.

(3) LATINX. Horror Writers Association Blog kicks off its “Latinx Horror” theme in an “Interview with E. Reyes”.

How do you feel the Latinx community has been represented thus far in the genre and what hopes do you have for representation in the genre going forward?

I feel like the Latinx community has finally knocked down that door and we are now being seen. I see more Latinx voices in horror emerging and I will be right there with them.

Who are some of our favorite Latinx characters in horror?

I need to expand more on my Latinx horror reading and viewing, but I’ll say that Robert Rodriguez directed one of my favorite horror movies ever: From Dusk Till Dawn (1996), and it has very awesome Latinx characters in it.

(4) RETURNING TO A FAVORITE. At The Endless Bookshelf, Henry Wessells rereads “Little, Big by John Crowley”.

John Crowley’s Little, Big is a book which I have read more times than I can count. It is also in that rare category of books which I give away (sometimes even the copy in my hand). Readers of the Endless Bookshelf will have seen allusions to my readings over the years (Appraisal at Edgewood, the summer of 2007, or Chapter XIV in A Conversation larger than the Universe or  “Strange Enough to Be Remembered Forever”). Everything which Hazlitt enumerates applies to re-readings of Little, Big. This year, when I picked up the novel, I paid attention to recurrences of words and parallels. I don’t say repetitions or doublings because the words often function — that is to say, carry meaning — in a new way when they return to the surface later in the book….

(5) JEOPARDY! Variety says that with Mike Richards out, the Jeopardy! hosting gig will be divided between Mayim Bialik and Ken Jennings.

…Bialik will take over hosting duties for the first couple weeks, starting Sept. 20 and running through Nov. 5. She and Jennings will then trade off as their schedules allow. The two of them will tape enough episodes to get “Jeopardy!” through the end of the year….

(6) QED. James Davis Nicoll’s latest Tor.com hors d’ouerve is “I Sing the Body Electric: 5 SF Works About Sex and Technology”.

Unsurprisingly for a species that once dispatched to the stars at great expense a nude selfie with directions to its home, addressed “To Whom It May Concern”, a large fraction of humans (although not all) has an intense, abiding interest in sex. Consequently, any technology that can assist in the quest for or enhancement of sex enjoys a tremendous advantage over technologies lacking such applications.…

Five books later, Nicoll points out –

(It may seem like there’s a pattern here and there is. Anyone who wants to deny conscious partners autonomy provides a demonstration of why autonomy is needed.)

(7) CLASSIC FRANK HERBERT INTERVIEW. [Item by Soon Lee.] I know all the current interest is in the Denis Villeneuve version of Dune, but as I was noodling around, I stumbled across this 1969 Frank Herbert interview where he talks to Willis E. McNelly about the origins of Dune.  Interviewer Willis E. McNelly later wrote the Dune Encyclopedia. It’s a whopping 80 minutes long but fascinating for anyone who is a fan as it is a wide-ranging conversation exploring ecology, sustainability, religion, politics and powers among others. I haven’t finished listening to me but Beverly Herbert also appears in the recording.

(8) BAD LUCK AND TROUBLE, TWO OF MY BEST FRIENDS. Joe Lansdale talks about his Hap and Leonard series and pays tribute to Michael K. Williams who played Leonard Pine in the television adaptation of the series.  A new collection of Hap and Leonard stories is coming from Tachyon in 2022. “Joe R. Lansdale Remembers The Genesis of Hap and Leonard and Pays Tribute to Michael K. Williams” at CrimeReads.

… My subconscious may have created them, but I felt as if Hap and Leonard were friends of mine. I was more like Hap than Leonard, but my inner voice, Leonard, was willing to contest my common viewpoints, and from time to time, teach me something.

When I first wrote about Hap and Leonard, black and white friends existed in fiction and film, but their friendship, I truly believe, was unique for the times. The racism Leonard met head on was real. Folks I knew said, oh, it’s not like that anymore.

That wasn’t what I was seeing….

(9) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

  • 1963 – Fifty eight years ago this evening on ABC, The Outer Limits series premiered. Created and executive produced by Leslie Stevens, who had done nothing of a genre nature before, and directed by far too many to note here. Two episodes, “Demon with a Glass Hand” and “Soldier”, were written by Harlan Ellison, Clifford Simak wrote “The Duplicate Man” episode, and David Duncan penned “The Human Factor”. Eando Binder gets credit for the “I, Robot” episode. Though The Outer Limits achieved cult status it was not long lived, lasting but two seasons and forty-nine episodes. It had a loyal audience but it was programmed against the far more popular Jackie Gleason program and it was cancelled part way through its second season. Thirty-three years later, the rebooted series would run for one hundred and fifty-two episodes. There is rumor of yet another rebooted series in development now. 

There is nothing wrong with your DVD player. Do not attempt to adjust the picture. We are controlling your DVD player. We already control the horizontal and the vertical. We now control the digital. We can change the focus from a soft blur to crystal clarity. Sit quietly and we will control all that you see and hear. You are about to experience the awe and mystery which reaches from the inner mind to… The Outer Limits. — opening narration which was by Vic Perrin

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born September 16, 1898 — Hans Augusto Rey. German-born American illustrator and author best remembered for the beloved Curious George children’s book series that he and his wife Margret Rey created from 1939 to 1966. An Eighties series of five-minute short cartoons starring him was produced by Alan Shalleck, along with Rey — Ken Sobol, scriptwriter of Fantastic Voyage, was the scriptwriter here. A later TV series (2006-2009) had many writers, including Craig Miller. Rey’s interest in astronomy led to him drawing star maps which are still use in such publications as Donald H. Menzel’s A Field Guide to the Stars and Planets. A simpler version for children called Find the Constellations, is still in print as well. (Died 1977.)
  • Born September 16, 1930 — Anne Francis. You’ll remember her best as Altaira “Alta” Morbius on Forbidden Planet. She also appeared twice in The Twilight Zone (“The After Hours” and “Jess-Belle”). She also appeared in multiple episodes of Alfred Hitchcock Presents and The Alfred Hitchcock Hour. She’d even appear twice in The Man from U.N.C.L.E. and played several roles on Fantasy Island as well. (Died 2011.)
  • Born September 16, 1932 — Karen Anderson. She co-wrote two series with her husband, Poul Anderson, King of Ys and The Last Viking, and created the delightful The Unicorn Trade collection with him. Fancyclopedia has her extensive fannish history thisaway, and Mike has her obituary here. (Died 2018.)
  • Born September 16, 1927 — Peter Falk. His best remembered genre role is in The Princess Bride as the Grandfather who narrates the story. (The person who replaced the late Falk in the full cast reading of The Princess Bride for the Wisconsin Democratic fundraiser, Director Rob Reiner, wasn’t nearly as good as he was in that role.) He also plays Ramos Clemente in “The Mirror,” an episode of The Twilight Zone. And he’s Reverend Theo Kerr in the 2001 version of The Lost World. (Died 2011.)
  • Born September 16, 1952 — Lisa Tuttle, 69. Tuttle won the Astounding Award for Best New Writer, received a Nebula Award for Best Short Story for “The Bone Flute,” which she refused, and a BSFA Award for Short Fiction for “In Translation”. My favorite works by her include CatwitchThe Silver Bough and her Ghosts and Other Lovers collection. Her latest novel is The Curious Affair of the Witch at Wayside Cross.
  • Born September 16, 1960 — Mike Mignola, 61. The Hellboy stories, of course, are definitely worth reading, particularly the early on ones. His Batman: Gotham by Gaslight is an amazing What If story which isn’t at all the same as the animated film of that name which is superb on its own footing, and the B.P.R.D. stories  are quite excellent too.  I’m very fond of the first Hellboy film, not so much of the second, and detest the reboot now that I’ve seen it, while the animated films are excellent.
  • Born September 16, 1960 — Kurt Busiek, 61. Writer whose work includes The Marvels limited series, his own outstanding Astro City series, and a very long run on The Avengers. He also worked at Dark Horse where he did Conan #1–28 and Young Indiana Jones Chronicles #1–8. 
  • Born September 16, 1970 — Nick Sagan, 51. Son of Carl Sagan. He’s written scripts for Next Generation and Voyager. Not to mention Space Precinct. He is the author of the three novels, Edenborn, Everfree and Idlewild. 

(11) OCTOTHORPE. Octothorpe episode 40 is “Very Exuberant and Very Dangerous”. John Coxon is listening to podcasts, Alison Scott is reading stories, and Liz Batty is watching TV.

We are pleased to see that Corflu now has something about COVID on their webpage and we discuss the NHS COVID Pass. We also do Picks, in which we (wait for it) talk about science fiction we quite like for a bit.

Also, Octothorpe sent along this nifty art of Woomera by Alison Scott.

(12) WIDESPREAD HARASSMENT OF VIDEO GAME PLAYERS. Deseret News covers the statistics of a new report: “Gamers face online harassment when playing video games, ADL says”.

A new report from the Anti-Defamation League has found that most U.S. teens experience harassment when playing video games online.

The study said 60% of children 13 to 17 years old experience harassment when playing games online.

  • And it doesn’t seem to be catching on with parents. Less than 40% of parents or guardians said they implemented safety controls for online games.
  • And less than 50% of teen gamers said they talk to their parents about their online games.

Overall, gamers experience massive harassment online. The survey found 71% of adults from 18 to 45 years old “experienced severe abuse, including physical threats, stalking and sustained harassment within the first six months of 2021.”…

(13) HE LOVES ME, HE LOVES ME NOT. At CrimeReads, Olivia Rutligliano pays tribute to Pushing Daisies and why it was such a memorable, if weird, show. “Looking Back on the Magical Mystery Series Pushing Daisies”.

Pushing Daisies might be most memorable for its bright, uncanny visuals—a merry, surreal palette of greens, reds, and yellows that don’t veritably exist in nature. The candy-colors of Pushing Daisies reflect its deep thematic investment in artificiality—on a tonal level, the show concerns simulacra of life, rather than life itself. Its characters cannot truly live the lives they want, and this is rather literal. Ned (Lee Pace) is a gentle, bashful entrepreneur (the proprietor and chef of a pie bakery called “The Pie Hole”) guarding a disquieting secret—he has the ability to bring dead things back to life with only a touch. But if he lets these newly animated entities live for longer than a minute or so, another entity of equal mass must die in its place, to restore the balance of the universe. Touching them a second time will return them to death, permanently—which means that if he wants to reconnect with anyone after they have passed, he only has a solitary minute to do so….

(14) BE SEATED. In episode 61 of the Two Chairs Talking podcast, “The joining of three tides”,  David Grigg and Perry Middlemiss discuss their fannish projects outside the podcast: in Perry’s case his sercon genzine The Alien Review; and in David’s case his new fortnightly email newsletter Through the Biblioscope.

They also discuss two of the nominees for Best Novel in this year’s Hugo Awards: The Relentless Moon by Mary Robinette Kowal, and Network Effect by Martha Wells. 

(15) NOW AWAITING COLLECTION. In the latest Nature, “Success! Mars Rover Finally Collects Its First Rock Core”.

…When the rover first attempted the manoeuvre, on 6 August, the rock it was trying to sample crumbled into powder before making it into a sample tube. The second attempt, on 1 September at a different location several hundred metres away, went smoothly: the drill bit pulled a slim cylinder out of a 70-centimetre long rock named Rochette. Engineers then paused the process so that they could photograph the core in its sample tube, to ensure it was intact, before sealing the specimen inside days later….

(16) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In “Honest Trailers: Snake Eyes–G.I. Joe–Origins” on YouTube, the Screen Junkies say, “Don’t care about the G.I. Joe movies?” No one else does,” and adds that the film comes from Paramount, “the studio who came in last at the box office for seven years straight.”  The film features some great martial artists, but is under the direction of R.I.P.D. director Robert Schwentke, who loves his shaky cam, even though shaking a camera to make a film exciting “is like shaking a book to make it exciting.”

[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, James Davis Nicoll, Soon Lee, David K.M. Klaus, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, Michael Toman, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to contributing editor of the day Soon Lee.]

Pixel Scroll 8/30/21 Riding Out On A Scroll In A Pixel-Spangled Rodeo

(1) DRAGON AWARDS DEADLINE. The deadline for requesting a ballot for the Dragon Awards is Friday. Their website says: “You may register to receive a ballot until 11:59 (EDT) on the Friday of Dragon Con”, which is September 3. Voting ends September 4.  The finalists are listed here.

(2) GET THE POINT. At the Maryland Renaissance Festival in Revel Grove, which is running weekends through October 24, the Anne Arundel County Department of Health is encouraging people to get Covid vaccinations by offering a souvenir pin.

HEAR YE! HERE YE! #LimitedEdition#VACCINATED for the Good of the Realm” pins when you get a #COVID19 shot at the Maryland Renaissance Festival in #Crownsville. #GoVAXMaryland

Revelers age12+ can get a #COVIDvaccine at the #Renaissance Festival weekends (through Oct. 24) 10am–6pm. No appointment required. For more vaccination locations, visit: covidvax.maryland.gov

(3) VARLEY HEALTH NEWS. Meanwhile, John Varley told readers of his blog that he and his partner Lee Emmett have contracted COVID-19. (Varley already had another major health issue earlier this year when he was hospitalized for heart bypass surgery.)

You do everything right, and still things go wrong. We are both double vaccinated and we’ve been masking up and social distancing since the pandemic began. Then last week after having lunch at a restaurant here in Vancouver where the vaccination rate is 54 percent we both started feeling very bad. Almost too weak to walk. I’ve been coughing horribly. Lee not so much, but neither of us have hardly been out of bed for almost week.

Went in to get tested, and sure enough. I’m positive for COVID-19. A so-called breakthrough case. They say symptoms will usually be milder. If this is milder, it’s easy to see why people are dying, unable to breathe. This is fucking terrible.

I don’t expect this is likely to kill us, but you never know. This short note is all the energy I have right now. You may not be hearing from us for a while. Wish us luck.

Stay safe and get vaccinated!!

(4) THINGS A CORPORATION CAN’T UNDERSTAND. Hadley Freeman interviews legendary puppeteer Frank Oz for the Guardian. Unsurprisingly, he, too, has issues with Disney: “Frank Oz on life as Fozzie Bear, Miss Piggy and Yoda: ‘I’d love to do the Muppets again but Disney doesn’t want me’”.

…Oz, 77, is talking to me by video from his apartment. It is impossible to talk to him without frequent reference to Henson. When I ask if he lives in New York he says yes, and adds that he’s lived there since he was 19, “ever since Jim [Henson] asked me to come here to work with him on the Muppets”. He talks about himself as Henson’s No2 – the Fozzie Bear to Henson’s Kermit.

Yet is it possible that Oz has made more of an imprint on more people’s imaginations than Henson and the Beatles combined. Even aside from the Muppets and Sesame Street, where he brought to life characters including Cookie Monster, Grover, Fozzie Bear, Animal, Sam the Eagle and Bert, he is also the voice of Yoda, and yes, he coined Yoda’s formal yet convoluted syntax, all “Speak like me, you must not” and so on. “It’s funny you ask about that because I was just looking at the original script of The Empire Strikes Back the other day and there was a bit of that odd syntax in it, but also it had Yoda speaking very colloquially. So I said to George [Lucas]: ‘Can I do the whole thing like this?’ And he said: ‘Sure!’ It just felt so right,” says Oz….

(5) MIGHTY IN THE ANTIPODES. The Guardian spotlights obscure Australian superhero movies: “From Captain Invincible to Cleverman: the weird and wild history of Australian superheroes”.

… The phrase “nobody makes superhero movies like Australia” has, I dare say, never before been written. Our humble government-subsidised film and TV industry is no more than a lemonade stand in the shadow of Hollywood’s arena spectacular, unable to compete budget-wise with the deep pockets of Tinseltown or produce bombast on the scale of American studios.

But scratch the surface of Australian film and TV history and you will find a small but rich vein of super strange locally made superhero productions with their own – forgive me – true blue je ne sais quoi. Their eclecticism and off-kilter energy provides a refreshing counterpoint to the risk-averse kind falling off the Hollywood assembly line.

The first port of call is the riotously entertaining 1983 action-comedy The Return of Captain Invincible, a stupendously odd and original movie that proved ahead of the curve in many respects. From Mad Dog Morgan director Philippe Mora, and co-writer Steven E. de Souza (who co-wrote Die Hard) the film stars Alan Arkin as the eponymous, ridiculous, frequently sozzled hero, drawn out of retirement to combat his nefarious super-villain nemesis (the great Christopher Lee) who has stolen a “hypno-ray” with which he can take over the world….

(6) TRILOGY CELEBRATED. Howard Andrew Jones continues his When The Goddess Wakes online book tour on Oliver Brackenbury’s So I’m Writing A Novel podcast (which Cora Buhlert recently featured in her Fancast Spotlight) — “Interview with Howard Andrew Jones”.

Author of the recently concluded Ring-Sworn trilogy, editor of the most excellent sword & sorcery magazine Tales of the Magician’s Skull, and teacher of a heroic fantasy writing class Oliver recently attended (the next session just opened to registration), Howard Andrew Jones has been a source of inspiration, knowledge, and encouragement for Oliver while our earnest podcast host has worked on his book.

(7) AGAINST ALL BOOKS. James Davis Nicoll tells Tor.com readers about “Five Works About Preserving or Destroying Books”. First on the list: Fahrenheit 451.

Recently, news went out that the Waterloo Undergraduate Student Association is determined to reallocate the room currently occupied by the Clubs Library. Among the collections housed there: WatSFiC’s extensive science fiction and fantasy library, portions of which date back to the 1970s. One hopes that the library will find another home, or that other accommodations can be made before the collection is broken up or lost.

…Here are five works about books and libraries, their friends, and their bitter enemies.

This hits close to home because, says James, “I was watsfic treasurer for six terms.”

(8) HE DREW FROM THE WELL. Jack Chalker is remembered in this article at the Southern Maryland News: “Chalker literary career provided sci-fi fun”.

Sample reading list: “Well of Souls” series including “Midnight at the Well of Souls,” “Exiles at the Well of Souls,” “Quest for the Well of Souls,” “The Return of Nathan Brazil” and “Changewinds” books including “When the Changewinds Blow,” “Riders of the Winds” and “War of the Maelstrom.”

…His work won several Sci-Fi awards beginning with the Hamilton-Brackett Memorial Award in 1979, a Skylark Award (1980), a Daedalus Award (1983), and The Gold Medal of the West Coast Review of Books (1984).

While Chalker loved Sci-Fi, he also had a great interest in ferryboats; so much so that he was married on the Roaring Bull boat, part of the Millersburg Ferry, in the middle of the Susquehanna River and then after his death had his ashes scattered off a ferry near Hong Kong, a ferry in Vietnam, and White’s Ferry on the Potomac River. His fans follow each other www.facebook.com/JackLChalker.

(9) GETTING READY. You could hardly ask for a more prepared Guest of Honor!

(10) MEMORY LANE.

  • 1982 – Thirty-nine years ago, Raiders of The Lost Ark wins the Hugo for Best Dramatic Presentation at Chicon IV where Marta Randall was Toastmaster.  It was, I think, a great year for Hugo nominated films as the other nominations were Dragonslayer, Excalibur, Outland and Time Bandits.  It would be the first of the two films in the franchise to win a Hugo as Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade would also win at ConFiction. 

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born August 30, 1797 – Mary Shelley. Author of Frankenstein, or The Modern Prometheus (1818), her first novel. Another of Shelley’s novels, The Last Man (1826), concerns Europe in the late 21st century, ravaged by a mysterious pandemic illness that rapidly sweeps across the entire globe, ultimately resulting in the near-extinction of humanity. Scholars call it one of the first pieces of dystopian fiction published. (Died 1851) (OGH)
  • Born August 30, 1896 Raymond Massey. In 1936, he starred in Things to Come, a film adaptation by H.G. Wells of his own novel The Shape of Things to Come. Other than several appearances on Night Gallery forty years later, that’s it for genre appearances. (Died 1983.)
  • Born August 30, 1942 Judith Moffett, 78. She won the first Theodore Sturgeon Award with her story “Surviving” and the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer at Nolacon II. Asimov wrote an introduction for her book Pennterra and published it under his Isaac Asimov Presents series. Her Holy Ground series of The Ragged World: A Novel of the Hefn on EarthTime, Like an Ever-Rolling Stream: A Sequel to the Ragged World and The Bird Shaman are her other genre novels. The Bear’s Babys And Other Stories collects her genre short stories. All of her works are surprisingly available at the usual digital suspects.
  • Born August 30, 1943 Robert Crumb, 78. He’s here because ISFDB lists him as the illustrator of The Religious Experience of Philip K. Dick which is likely they say an interview that Dick did with Gregg Rickman and published in Rickman’s The Last Testament. They’re also listing the cover art for Edward Abby’s The Monkey Wrench Gang as genre but that’s a very generous definition of genre.
  • Born August 30, 1955 Mark Kelly. He maintains the indispensable Science Fiction Awards Database, which we consult almost daily. He wrote reviews for Locus in the Nineties, then founded the Locus Online website in 1997 and ran it single-handedly for 20 years, along the way winning the Best Website Hugo (2002). Recently he’s devised a way to use his awards data to rank the all-time “Top SF/F/H Short Stories” and “Top SF/F/H Novelettes”. Kelly’s explanation of how the numbers are crunched is here. (OGH)
  • Born August 30, 1955 Jeannette Holloman. She was one of the founding members of the Greater Columbia Costumers Guild and she was a participant at masquerades at Worldcon, CostumeCon, and other conventions. Her costumes were featured in The Costume Makers Art and Threads magazine. (Died 2019.)
  • Born August 30, 1963 Michael Chiklis, 58. He was The Thing in two first Fantastic Four films, and Jim Powell on the the No Ordinary Family series which I’ve never heard of.  He was on American Horror Story for its fourth season, American Horror Story: Freak Show as Dell Toledo. The following year he was cast as Nathaniel Barnes, in the second season of Gotham, in a recurring role. And he voiced Lt. Jan Agusta in Heavy Gear: The Animated Series
  • Born August 30, 1965 Laeta Kalogridis, 56. She was an executive producer of the short-lived Birds of Prey series and she co-wrote the screenplays for Terminator Genisys and Alita: Battle Angel. She recently was the creator and executive producer of Altered Carbon. She also has a screenwriting credit for Lara Croft: Tomb Raider, a film the fanboys hate but which I really like. 
  • Born August 30, 1972 Cameron Diaz, 49. She first shows as Tina Carlyle in The Mask, an amazing film. She voices Princess Fiona in the Shrek franchise. While dating Tom Cruise, she was cast as an uncredited Bus passenger in Minority Report. (CE)
  • Born August 30, 1980 Angel Coulby, 41. She is best remembered for her recurring role as Gwen (Guinevere) in the BBC’s Merlin. She also shows up in Doctor Who as Katherine in the “The Girl in the Fireplace”, a Tenth Doctor story. She also voices Tanusha ‘Kayo’ Kyrano in the revived animated Thunderbirds Are Go series.

(12) COMICS SECTION.

(13) DEADLY CONSEQUENCES. “Kim Stanley Robinson, The Ministry for the Future, and 2021’s extreme heat”, Rebecca Onion’s Q&A with the author starts with his book’s intense beginning.

“I feel like my circles have divided between those who’ve read the opening chapter of The Ministry for the Future and those who haven’t,” wrote novelist Monica Byrne on Twitter earlier this month. This book, by beloved science fiction author Kim Stanley Robinson, came out in 2020, and has haunted my summer in 2021. Ministry opens in a small city in Uttar Pradesh, India, where the character Frank May, an American who works for an unidentified NGO, just barely survives an extreme heat wave that kills millions of people in the country. This opening is so viscerally upsetting that, for days after reading it, I worried at it in my mind, turning it over, trying—and failing—to get it to go away.

Rebecca Onion: This opening brutalized me. (And I know I’m not alone.) I read it without any preparation—I hadn’t been warned—and it gave me insomnia, dominated my thoughts, and led me to put the book down for a few months. Then I picked it back up and found that the remainder of it is actually quite optimistic, for a book about a rolling series of disasters! What were you aiming for, when it comes to readerly emotional response, in starting the book this way?

Kim Stanley Robinson: I wanted pretty much the response you described. Fiction can put people through powerful imaginative experiences; it generates real feelings. So I knew the opening scene would be hard to read, and it was hard to write. It wasn’t a casual decision to try it. I felt that this kind of catastrophe is all too likely to happen in the near future. That prospect frightens me, and I wanted people to understand the danger….

Robinson also tried a different approach, the carrot instead of the stick, in this TED Talk in July: “Kim Stanley Robinson: Remembering climate change … a message from the year 2071”.

Coming to us from 50 years in the future, legendary sci-fi writer Kim Stanley Robinson tells the “history” of how humanity ended the climate crisis and restored the damage done to Earth’s biosphere. A rousing vision of how we might unite to overcome the greatest challenge of our time.

(14) SAND, NOT DUNE. Nerds of a Feather’s Paul Weimer checks out “6 Books with John Appel”, author of Assassin’s Orbit.

4. A book that you love and wish that you yourself had written.

I’d give up a redundant organ to have written Roger Zelazny’s Doorways in the Sand, about a young man named Fred Cassidy whose uncle left him a generous stipend as long as he pursues a college degree – a process which Fred has stretched out for over a decade. Fred gets caught up in the disappearance of an alien artifact on loan to Earth as part of a cultural exchange and hijinks ensue. Fred’s narration of events is done with incredibly deadpan hilariousness and at times a Douglas Adams-esque absurdity, and Zelazny’s usual brilliant touch with language and imagery. 

(15) MANIFEST’S DESTINY. Whacked by NBC, the show will get to finish its story elsewhere reports USA Today. “’Manifest’: Netflix revives drama for fourth and final season”.

We haven’t heard the last of the passengers of Flight 828. 

Netflix announced the popular TV series “Manifest” will return for its fourth and final season. The news came Saturday (8/28) in a nod at the show’s plot which centers around the mysterious Montego Air Flight 828. 

The drama follows a group of passengers who land on what seems like a routine flight from Jamaica back to the states. However, once the wheels touch the tarmac the travelers deplane into a world that has aged five years since when they first boarded. 

(16) CHINA CUTS DOWN VIDEO GAMING. Not quite a Prohibition yet: “Three hours a week: Play time’s over for China’s young video gamers”Reuters has the story.

China has forbidden under-18s from playing video games for more than three hours a week, a stringent social intervention that it said was needed to pull the plug on a growing addiction to what it once described as “spiritual opium”.

The new rules, published on Monday, are part of a major shift by Beijing to strengthen control over its society and key sectors of its economy, including tech, education and property, after years of runaway growth.

The restrictions, which apply to any devices including phones, are a body blow to a global gaming industry that caters to tens of millions of young players in the world’s most lucrative market….

[Thanks to JJ, Michael Toman, John King Tarpinian, Cora Buhlert, Dann, Mlex, Red Panda Fraction, Michael J. Walsh, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, Martin Morse Wooster for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to contributing editor of the day Dann.]

Pixel Scroll 8/8/21 It Is Pitch Black. You Are Likely To Be Pixeled By A Scroll

(1) EMERGENCY HOLOGRAPHIC CAPTAIN. Slashfilm rounds up everything they can find out about Nickolodeon’s “’Star Trek: Prodigy’ Season 1: Release Date, Cast and More”.

…Prodigy will be a kids-oriented show revolving around a group of alien teens who attempt to get away with stealing a Starfleet vessel of their very own, the U.S.S. Protostar. In a fun surprise for older fans, Captain Janeway from the Star Trek: Voyager series will appear as a hologram throughout this show, guiding the teens along their many adventures to the stars….

Pictured: Art for Star Trek: Prodigy . Photo Cr: Nickelodeon/Paramount+ ©2021, All Rights Reserved.

(2) STEER CLEAR. A Starfleet Academy series is also in development. Fansided’s Chad Porto is adamant that “Star Trek series based around Starfleet Academy should avoid these ideas”. From the middle of his list —

The third idea is about Worf. Dang-it. Walked into that one. Do you want to see more Worf? You do? Do you want to see more Worf but not played by Michael Dorn!? Wait, where did everyone go!? No one wants to see it. Don’t do it. No more prequels. I feel like Edna Mode in The Incredibles. No prequels!

(3) HOLLYWOOD AUTO CREATOR GOING AWAY. “Holy hot wheels, Batman! Iconic auto shop site is for sale” reports the LA Times.

A foundation stone of Southern California car culture is about to be dislodged: The North Hollywood home of Barris Kustom Industries — birthplace of the Batmobile, the Munster Koach and a thousand other custom cars — is for sale.

The 10,000-square-foot commercial property, on an 18,000-square-foot corner lot, is offered at $3.995 million and is almost certainly destined for redevelopment.

The package includes the showroom that still houses a Batmobile; the garages where brothers George and Sam Barris did custom body work for celebrities including Elvis Presley, Elton John and Cassandra Peterson, a.k.a. Elvira, Mistress of the Dark; and even the spray booth where “kustom kolors” concocted by George were applied to cars driven by James Dean, John Wayne and ventriloquist Jeff Dunham, for whom Barris built a Bat Smart Car….

(4) IS IT A HOARD? Even if it is, calling the lot a collection sounds like good customer relations. Chuck Rozanki of Denver’s MileHiComics announced he has acquired another mountain of inventory. You should see the pictures: “Chuck Buys Another Huge Collection!”

I have just left California, and entered Nevada through Reno. I spent all day yesterday hauling 400 cases of toys, books, comics, and all sorts of pop-culture collectibles from a huge house on top of a mountain in Oroville, California. When you take a look at the sheer mass of material that I picked up, this ends up being the largest private collection that I have ever purchased. Of even greater importance is that this collection is incredibly diverse, as the gentleman who put it together was a thrift store devotee for the past 40 years, shopping pretty much every day on his lunch break. He picked up an amazing array of fun pop culture collectibles.

In case you are wondering, yes, this is the same collection that I mentioned back in June that I was going to return to pick up in California. There was so much material that it took six weeks for it to all get packed up. When I finished unpacking my two truckloads, I ended up with 13 full pallets out at FedEx, which is about 20,000 pounds. I have at least another thousand pounds in my cargo van, including a mint-in-box customized bicycle that was painted by the same guys who do the custom motorcycles down in LA. The last one sold on eBay for $4000…

(5) MARKIE POST (1950-2021). Actress Markie Post died August 7 reports Deadline.  

…Her first acting credits came in 1979, with appearances on episodes of … The Incredible HulkThe Lazarus SyndromeBuck Rogers in the 25th Century… 

She’d later appear in series such as The Love Boat, … Fantasy Island and The A-Team, before landing the role of bail bondswoman Terri Michaels in ABC’s The Fall Guy. She appeared in 65 episodes of that action drama between 1982 and 1985. Post was also a series regular on NBC’s Night Court, portraying public defender Christine Sullivan for 159 episodes between 1985 and 1992. 

(6) BRAD ALLAN OBIT. Stuntman Brad Allan, who worked on Wonder Woman and the Kingsman series, died August 7: “Brad Allan, Stuntman and Jackie Chan Protege, Dies at 48”. (msn.com).

Allan eventually carved out a space in Hollywood as one of the best in his craft. After serving as both a stunt actor and coordinator on a string of movies with Chan, including “Shanghai Noon” and “Rush Hour 2,” he went on to design action scenes for movies like, “Scott Pilgrim vs. the World,” “Wonder Woman,” “Solo: A Star Wars Story” and the “Kingsman” series. 

By the time of his death, Allan had also completed work on “The King’s Man” and Marvel’s “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings,” which hits theaters next month. 

(7) MEMORY LANE.

  • 1988 – Thirty-three years ago at Nolacon II, Ursula K. Le Guin would win the Best Novelette Hugo for “Buffalo Gals, Won’t You Come Out Tonight.” Other nominated works that year were “Rachel in Love” by Pat Murphy, “Dinosaurs” by Walter Jon Williams, “Flowers of Edo” by Bruce Sterling and “Dream Baby” by Bruce McAllister.  

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born August 8, 1919 Dino De Laurentiis. Responsible for Dune obviously but less obviously also a lot of other genre including Conan the BarbarianFlash GordonKing KongHalloween II and Halloween IIIDead Zone and The Last Legion. His company even made Army of Darkness! (Died 2010.)
  • Born August 8, 1930 Terry Nation. Best known as scriptwriter for Doctor Who and creator of the Daleks. He later created Blake’s 7. He would also write scripts for Department SThe Avengers, The Champions and MacGyver. (Died 1997.)
  • Born August 8, 1935 Donald P. Bellisario, 86. His genre shows include Tales of the Gold MonkeyAirwolf, Magnum P.I. (according to some of you) and of course that truly amazing show Quantum Leap. He was a writer and producer on the original Battlestar Galactica.
  • Born August 8, 1937 Dustin Hoffman, 84. Ahhh — Captian Hook, the man who got swallowed by the vast crocodile in Hook. Yeah, I like that film a lot. By no means his only genre appearance, as he was Mumbles, Caprice’s fast-talking henchman in Dick Tracy (not a film I love), Mr. Edward Magorium in Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium and the voice of Master Shifu in Kung Fu Panda.
  • Born August 8, 1943 Terry J. Erdmann, 78. He ran the media campaigns for such films as Star Trek V: The Final Frontier, (where he was credited as the film’s publicist). He’s also written such books as the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion, which he co-wrote with Paula Block, his wife who works as a Trek publicist, and The Magic of Tribbles: The Making of Trials and Tribble-ations.
  • Born August 8, 1949 Keith Carradine, 72. Genre roles include Special Report: Journey to MarsStar Trek: Enterprise, Kung Fu, voice work on the animated Spider-Man series, Dollhouse and The Big Bang Theory
  • Born August 8, 1993 Kawennáhere Devery Jacobs, 28. She’s a Kahnawake Mohawk. Why I mention that will be apparent in a moment. Her most recent role is recurring one as Sam Black Crow on now-cancelled American Gods but she has a very long genre history starting with being Monique on the Stephen King’s Dead Zone series. From there, she was Claudia Auditore in Assassin’s Creed: Lineage, a series of three short films based on the Assassin’s Creed II video game before showing up as Ali’s in Rhymes for Young Ghouls which is notable for its handling of First Nations issues. She’s Daisy in Another WolfCop (oh guess which monster), an unnamed bar waitress in Being Human, Nourhan in Exploding Sun and Sam in the The Walking Dead: Michonne video game. Her latest genre role is Blood Quantum about a zombie uprising on a First Nations homeland.

(9) LIGHTEN UP.  John King Tarpinian swears he had none of these. Especially if it had anything to do with disco. “5 of the wildest pieces of vintage Star Trek merch” at Heroes & Icons.

THIS LIGHT-UP JACKET THAT’S PERFECT FOR DISCOS, CONVENTIONS, SF PARTIES AND SCHOOL ACTIVITIES

Sure, a replica of the actual Starfleet uniform is rad, but not as rad as a shiny jacket that “lights up,” “flashes” and “creates a sensation,” with the Enterprise emblazoned on the back. This 1978 official licensed jacket surely would have impressed everyone at school and at the disco.

(10) ABANDONED STARSHIPS. Heroes & Icons also knows about “9 abandoned Star Trek series that never made it to the TV screen”. Some of these I’ve heard about, but not this one!

2. THE HARRY MUDD SHOW

Harcourt Fenton Mudd remains one of the most beloved rogues in the Star Trek universe, even appearing in the new Discovery series, as played by Rainn Wilson of The Office. Roger Carmel, also a delightful Batman villain, originated the role. He was the only character aside from the Enterprise crew to appear in more than one episode (“Mudd’s Woman” and “I, Mudd). No wonder NBC hoped to give him a spin-off. As Carmel himself recalled, “Gene Roddenberry was there and we started talking and Gene said, ‘It’s a shame that series thing for you never worked out.’ I said, ‘What series thing?’ He said, ‘Oh, didn’t you know? Well, after the successful Harry Mudd episodes, NBC wanted to know if I would develop a spin-off series for you starring the Harry Mudd character. A space pirate, intergalactic con-man kind of thing.'” A flabberghasted Carmel asked, “‘My God, Gene, I didn’t know anything about that. What happened?’ He said, ‘Well, the artists didn’t have enough time to develop it.'” Arg! 

(11) TWELVE IS NOT FIVE BY FIVE. Did Capaldi talk himself out of a job? “Doctor Who Is Canceling One Of Its Former Stars”Giant Freakin Robot has the story.

It’s in the area of voice work, in fact, where Capaldi recently may have gotten in a little bit of trouble. As Cinema Blend reported on Thursday, Capaldi was expected to play the Doctor for the Big Finish Doctor Who audio drama Timejacked. However, rather than Capaldi, the Twelfth Doctor will now be voiced by Jacob Dudman, who has done voice work on previous Doctor Who audio dramas.

While it hasn’t been confirmed, there’s a lot of speculation that Capaldi’s recent interview on The Chris Moyles Show may be to blame for his replacement in the Doctor Who audio drama. Capaldi appeared on the show while doing press for The Suicide Squad. During the interview, after Capaldi mentions he’d like to be DJ, he’s asked if he’s ever worked in radio. The actor answers he’s done radio plays, and what he says about them isn’t very complimentary. Capaldi says he finds making them “quite dreary” and that they’re made “in the basement of the BBC with all the pipes and stuff.” He goes on to call it “an absolutely glamor free zone.” 

(12) FANTASTIC PLASTIC. I’d almost forgotten these (and now I’ll have to start all over again!) “It’s the 50th anniversary of the most horrific kids’ toys ever” reminds Input.

…Nabisco, the cookie and cracker conglomerate that bought Aurora soon after these kits were released, found itself in a world of pain after horrified parents, op-ed writers, and boisterous protesters decried the toys as misogynistic and grotesque — and wholly inappropriate for kids. This year marks the 50th anniversary of the torture-toy scandal, during which public outcry led to not only the discontinuation of an outrageously successful toy line, but also to the passage of legislation that would keep similarly objectionable toys off store shelves, at least in California.

But a half-century later, these kits still thrive, thanks, of course, to the internet…. 

(13) MIND ON THE GAME. In the Washington Post, Shannon Liao reviews the about to be released video game Psychonauts 2, a sequel to the 2005 Psychonauts, which was one of the first video games to address mental health issues.  She talks to game designers who explain how they tried to have a good story while trying to improve gamers’ mental health. “’Psychonauts 2’ preview: Double Fine discusses game’s bosses, mental health”.

…To undo the mistake he made, Raz must venture back into his mentor’s mind, but this time, it’s transformed into a fantastical level that’s part hospital, part casino. Eventually, he’s able to undo the bad mental connections he made in Hollis’s mind, undo other mental connections she’s formed such as “defiance is useless” and get her to recognize better connections such as “wisdom = decisions.” It’s clear throughout this level that Raz is genuinely feeling regret and guilt for messing with Hollis’s mind without consent. He reflects on what he did wrong, and apologizes to Hollis.

“It’s a small change between the first and second games,” Schafer said. “I noticed in the first game, Raz just kind of pops into everyone’s mind willy nilly. He’s like, ‘hey!’ And so in every level on ‘Psychonauts 2,’ except for some near the end where it’s an emergency situation, in every brain you go into, there is a moment of actually getting consent from the person’s brain that you’re going into, because it is an invasive process going into someone’s brain. There’s a lot more dialogue about that, which we try to be careful about in the second game.”…

(14) VIDEO OF THE DAY. We ran the trailer, now see the whole short film: Forsaken Mandalorian And The Drunken Jedi Master – A Star Wars Fan Film.

A Forsaken Mandalorian hunts down a Hutt Courier to recover an asset that unexpectedly leads him to team up with an outcast Drunken Jedi Master to fulfill his sworn duty.

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

Pixel Scroll 8/6/21 Mrs. Scroll, We’re Pixeled

(1) BRIANNA WU’S REVELATION. The Brianna Wu tweet below led the Washington Post to interview her about the significance of the apologies, and what forgiveness does and doesn’t entail.

Read the Washington Post article here: “GamerGaters inundated Brianna Wu with death threats. Now some are apologizing — and she forgives them”.

…In the years since GamerGate, Wu said she has received more than 100 apologies from the trolls and harassers who fixated on her. And though the apologies are outpaced 10-to-1 by insults and continued harassment, she says she nearly always forgives those who apologize.

She wants to be clear: Many people involved in GamerGate have not learned and don’t deserve forgiveness. But some, she says, truly did and do. And when she hears their stories, she generally can’t help but tell them she accepts their apologies.

Wu said she gets a message about once a week along these lines: Hey, you don’t know me, but I wanted reach out to you and apologize. I was part of the people sending you death threats and things during GamerGate. I was egged on by my friends, I was dealing with depression, I was in the closet, my parents were getting divorced, something like that. And I look back at that and I feel a deep sense of shame, and I’m very sorry.

She said her conviction to forgive GamerGaters began after the first time she met one in 2015. She had just given a talk at a college, and he approached her afterward to explain why he had supported the movement.

“I’m not talking to a monster, I’m talking to someone that is under-socialized and lonely and is looking for respect, which I think is something all of us as humans understand,” she said. “It was such a lightbulb moment, that these aren’t people I should be angry with as much as people I should try to have empathy for.”..

The reaction to the Washington Post article shows there remain many unrepentant abusers.

(2) VALUE OF TRIGGER WARNINGS. Queer Sci Fi’s J. Scott Coatsworth announced in “FOR READERS: Trigger Warnings” a public Facebook group discussion: “Trigger warnings – we’ve all seen them. When are they useful to you? When are they not?” There are several dozen responses.

(3) PROPOSED HEART TEST. Kharma Kelley reacted to the controversy over one of the RWA’s Vivian Award winners (see a roundup here) by proposing a screening test. Thread starts here.

(4) FRAZETTA, THE NEXT GENERATION. The Rogues in the House podcast hears from Sara Frazetta, granddaughter of Frank: “Sara Frazetta Interview”.

The Rogues are thrilled to host Sara Frazetta from Frazetta Girls. Tune in as we discuss her grandfather’s legacy, her business approach to bringing that legacy to a new audience of sword and sorcery fans, and her own journey of discovery in the S&S genre.

(5) GET UPSIDE DOWN AGAIN. “Stranger Things 4 confirms 2022 release with teaser footage”SYFY Wire analyzes the video for clues.

… Among the never-before-seen snippets, you can see Eleven (Millie Bobby Brown) being detained by what looks like shady government agents, Hopper (David Harbour) entering a room with an active flamethrower (à la Kurt Russell in The Thing), a high school cheerleading squad, and a group of core characters (Steve, Dustin, Nancy, Max, Lucas, and Robin) exploring a creepy old house. Even with these small flashes, you can tell that our young heroes are maturing along with the overall scope….

(6) THERE WILL BE WARHAMMER. The Scroll linked to Cory Doctorow’s post “Games Workshop declares war on its customers (again)” two days ago. Now, in “Warhammer 40k Fans in Revolt Over ‘Zero Tolerance’ Fan Animation Policy”, Vice reports from the rebellion’s front line.

In the grim darkness of the far future there is only war between fan communities and the corporations that own the intellectual property they love. The Warhammer 40k community is furious at Games Workshop, the tabletop game’s creator, because of new “zero tolerance” policies about fan-made animation videos. 

….At issue is an update to Games Workshop’s intellectual property guidelines. The new policies explicitly laid out the dos and don’ts of how the company wants fans to handle Warhammer 40K and its other universes. At the bottom, it detailed a list of infringements it has a “zero tolerance” policy towards. It includes pirating books, using a 3D printer to make copies of their models, and a ban on fan animations.

“Individuals must not create fan films or animations based on our settings and characters,” the guidelines said. “These are only to be created under licence from Games Workshop.”

… GW is a notoriously litigious company so it’s no shock that Alfabusa and others are packing it in ahead of possible litigation. It has repeatedly attempted to enforce a trademark on the words “Space Marines” with mixed results and gone to legal war with a company that was manufacturing miniatures of characters it had never made.

On August 25, GW will launch Warhammer Plus—a subscription service for Warhammer fans that includes access to several planned animated series, which may in the community say must be the impetus for the new policy. One of those series is Astartes, which began life as an unlicensed fan-made YouTube show by creator Syama Pedersen. It caught caught GWs attention and it offered Pedersen a job. This is the exact kind of thing GW’s new policy seeks to eliminate….

(7) RIDING THE EARWORMS. “Arrakis Rippers: A Guide to ‘Dune’-Inspired Metal” at Bandcamp Daily. List five bands, with introductions and sample tracks.

…It goes without saying that Scottish progressive post-metal quintet DVNE have been heavily influenced by Frank Herbert’s work. Starting out as an instrumental three piece, the band were trying to figure out what message they wanted to get across through their music, while coming up with their name. “It felt like we were trying to tell a story, and the best kind of story with us would be something out-of-this-world,” explains singer Victor Vicart, recounting the band’s beginnings….

…. Big fans of the Dune saga, Seattle-based doom rockers Sandrider ended up naming themselves after the Fremen wormriders of Arrakis, whom they felt embodied the heavy direction of their music. “Thematically, a little desert warrior surfing a massive sand worm fits the sound of the band pretty well,” says singer Jon Weisnewski….

(8) THE POINT. “With billions in federal funding at stake, library leaders must see this moment for what it is: a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to truly transform the future of libraries,” says Sari Feldman in “An Inflection Point for Libraries” at Publishers Weekly. (The title prompted Michael Toman “to wonder if anyone has ever written a “Jonbar Point for Libraries” (featuring Benjamin Franklin?) story?”

… The last 18 months with Covid-19 has been a historically difficult period. But with the rollout of safe and incredibly effective vaccines, we can now see the way forward. And if there is a silver lining as we prepare to hopefully come out of this pandemic, it is that the important work of libraries has once again gained the attention of Congress.

In 2020, lawmakers appropriated an additional $50 million in relief funding to be distributed to libraries via the IMLS through the CARES Act (Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act). And in March of 2021, IMLS received another $200 million boost to distribute via the American Rescue Plan Act the largest single investment in the agency’s 25-year history.

Building on that support, Congress last month approved significant increases in annual federal library funding in the FY2022 budget, including a $25 million increase for the IMLS that includes a $9 million increase for the LSTA (the Library Services and Technology Act); a $3 million increase in IAL funding (Innovative Approaches to Literacy); an additional $37 million for the Library of Congress, and new funding for Native American libraries, as well as other institutions that serve diverse populations, including historically black colleges and universities….

(9) ASTEROID BELT AND SUSPENDERS. Bill Capossere reviews a compelling book titled “Asteroids: How Love, Fear, And Greed Will Determine Our Future in Space” at Fantasy Literature.

Asteroids: How Love, Fear, And Greed Will Determine Our Future in Space (2021), by Martin Elvis, is a thorough and wonderfully detailed exploration not of asteroids as objects (which he does do to some extent), but of the possibility of our interacting with them in order to a) prevent them from killing us off as one did (maybe) to the dinosaurs, b) exploit them for resources, and c) use them as a stepping stone for further exploitation of space. If you thought the idea of asteroid mining belongs only in the realm of science fiction, Elvis will (probably) convince you otherwise….

(10) ADDITION BY SUBTRACTION. At Nerds of a Feather Arturo Serrano has an interesting take on Masters of the Universe: Revelation, unfortunately with a spoiler in the title, thus we’ll just say the link is here.

When your character is defined plainly as “the most powerful man in the universe,” there’s no such thing as narrative stakes. In any episode of the classic He-Man show, which ran from 1983 to 1985, there’s never any question that the hero will win. He’s beyond Superman syndrome, beyond Dragon Ball syndrome: he simply can’t be beaten. Whereas Superman syndrome was addressed early in his stories with the addition of kryptonite, and Dragon Ball syndrome can be temporarily patched with yet another escalation, He-Man syndrome has no solution… 

(11) ANIMANIACS SEASON 2. Come join the Warner Brothers and the Warner Sister Dot as they announce that Season 2 of Animaniacs with 13 new episodes will premiere on November 5 on Hulu. Narf!

(12) MEMORY LANE.

  • 2000 – Twenty-one years ago at Chicon 2000 where Harry Turtledove was the Toastmaster, Galaxy Quest would win the Best Dramatic Presentation Hugo. It would also win the Nebula Award for Best Script.  It was directed by Dean Parisot with the screenplay by David Howard and Robert Gordon; the story was written by David Howard. The other Hugo finalists were The Matrix (which was just three votes behind it in the final count), The Sixth SenseBeing John Malkovich and The Iron Giant

(13) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born August 6, 1911 Lucille Ball. She became the first woman to run a major television studio, Desilu Productions, which is where Star Trek was produced. Her support of the series kept it from being terminated by the financial backers even after it went way over budget in the first pilot. (Died 1989.)
  • Born August 6, 1926 Janet Asimov. Author of some half dozen novels and a fair amount of short fiction on her own, mostly as J.O. Jeppson; co-author with her husband, Isaac, of the Norby Chronicles. Her memoir, Notes for a Memoir: On Isaac Asimov, Life, and Writing, came out thirteen years ago. (Died 2019.)
  • Born August 6, 1956 Ian R. MacLeod,  65. Another author I need to read more of. I’ve read the first two in what’s called the Aether Universe series, The Light Ages and The House of Storms, but there are other novels I’m intrigued by, including Song of Time and The Great Wheel. He’s won some impressive Awards including three Sidewise Awards for The Summer Isles (short and long forms) and for Wake Up and Dream novel. He also won a World Fantasy Award for “The Chop Shop” short story. 
  • Born August 6, 1960 Leland Orser, 61. If you look closely, you’ll spot him in Escape from L.A. as Test Tube and in Independence Day in the dual roles of the Day Tech and a Medical Assistant.  He’s in Daredevil as Wesley Owen Welch, Kingpin’s right hand man. And someone at Trek casting liked him as he was on Deep Space NineVoyager and Enterprise. All different roles. 
  • Born August 6, 1962 Michelle Yeoh, 59. Her first meaningful genre roles was as Wai Lin in Tomorrow Never Dies and Yu Shu Lien in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. I actually remember her as Zi Yuan in The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor, the first film of a since cancelled franchise. And then there’s her dual roles in the Trek universe where she’s Captain Philippa Georgiou and Emperor Philippa Georgiou. She’s attached to the Section 31 Star Trek series announced in 2019 as being in development. 
  • Born August 6, 1972 Paolo Bacigalupi, 49. I remember the book group I was part of some years ago having a spirited debate over The Windup Girl (which won a Hugo at Aussiecon 4 and a Nebula as well) over the believability of the central character. I think he did a better job with characters in his next novels, Ship Breaker and The Drowned Cities, but he’s really not about characters anyways. 

(14) COMICS SECTION.

(15) DISCOVER MANHWA. Publishers Weekly tells why “Korean Comics Gain Popularity in North America”.

There’s more to Korean comics than webtoons. While vertical-scroll digital comics have surged in popularity among English speakers since the Netcomics, Webtoon, and Tapas Media platforms started publishing Korean comics in English, the growth in popularity of print manhwa (the Korean term for comics) in North America has been more of a slow burn.

While manhwa overall remains a small category in the print comics world, the category is growing in the North American marketplace. Drawn and Quarterly has published several manhwa a year since 2017, and their 2019 manhwa, Grass by Keum Suk Gendry-Kim, a powerful story of sexual slavery during WWII, won the Cartoonist Studio Prize for Best Print Comic of the Year and was nominated for two Eisner awards. Chugong’s Solo Leveling, an action fantasy manhwa that started out as an online webtoon, has been a bestseller in print for Yen Press. Banned Book Club by Kim Hyun Sook and Ryan Estrada with art by Hyung-Ju Ko, a memoir of Sook’s college years under a repressive Korean government, was published by Iron Circus Comics and nominated for an Eisner Award this year. And in August, Ablaze Comics will publish the first volume of the action manhwa The Breakers, by Jeon Guk-jin and Kamaro, as a 400-page omnibus….

(16) EXPLAINING THE WORLD. James Davis Nicoll looks far south to find “Five Fantasy Stories Inspired by Mesoamerican History and Folklore”.

… The world is a very large and old place, however, and there is no compelling reason for authors to reject alternative inspirations. These five authors, for example, turned to Mesoamerican history and folklore to produce five very different works….

Servant of the Underworld by Aliette de Bodard (2010)

Death is natural, an unavoidable part of the world. Accordingly, God of death Mictlantecuhtli commands cautious respect as one who rules a fundamental aspect of existence. Acatl, Mictlantecuhtli’s priest, has many duties that demand daily attention. Being drawn into the role of amateur detective should not be one of them.

Priestess Eleuia has vanished. Perhaps she absconded under her own power but the fact her room is painted with blood suggests otherwise. The signs suggest she has carried off by some occult means. Whodunnit? Acatl is tasked to find out.

The list of people who wanted Eleuia dead is short. Near the top of the list is Acatl’s warrior brother, Neutemoc. With authorities more concerned with finding someone to blame than with finding the correct person to blame, either Acatl clears his brother or Neutemoc is doomed. And there is no guarantee Neutemoc is innocent.

(17) OLD TIME RELIGION. The initial tweet inspired some artists to respond with drawings of characters based on the discovery.  Thread starts here.

(18) TEETHING. Nothing is certain but death and taxonomy. This spoiler-filled featurette explains the human-animal hybrids in Sweet Tooth.

(19) CLAYMATION BULLET TIME. io9 has three more 15-second videos to close out the series: “Sci-Fi Claymation: 2001, The Matrix, Alien for Dust”.

Over the past few weeks, you may have noticed an uptick in io9 posts featuring short claymation scenes recreating iconic moments from famous sci-fi movies. We shared Star Trek II and Terminator 2: Judgment Day, and now we’ve reached the grand finale. Not one, not two, but three all-time sci-fi classics2001: A Space Odyssey, The Matrix, and Alien.

These little slices of clay-recreated heaven come from artist Joseph Brett, who did them to commemorate the fifth anniversary of online sci-fi platform Dust….

(20) BUG HUNT WARNING. YouTuber Kyle Kallgren has posted the third part in his series on Heinlein and Vanderhoven’s Starship Troopers. It comes with bonus mentions of a wide variety of other SFF-nal names and topics, mixed in with a lot of discussion of fascism.

[Thanks to Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, Rob Thornton, Jennifer Hawthorne, Michael J. Walsh, Cora Buhlert, Michael Toman, John King Tarpinian, and Cat Eldridge for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to contributing editor of the day Jon Meltzer.]

Pixel Scroll 7/31/21 So You Want To Be An Orc’n’Scroll Star

(1) RETURN OF A MAN CALLED CHUCK. Chuck Tingle’s Twitter account has been restored. He tweeted thanks to some who helped him along the way.

(2) SMITHSONIAN FUTURES EXHIBIT. Octavia Butler, one of her typewriters, and some newly commissioned art, will be part of the Smithsonian’s “Futures That Unite” exhibit that opens in November reports Smithsonian Magazine: “The Pioneering Sci-Fi Writer Octavia E. Butler Joins a Pantheon of Celebrated Futurists”. The complete set of Nettrice Gaskins’ images can be viewed here.

…In developing science fiction writing as her craft, after disparaging a campy sci-fi flick, Butler became a master storyteller whose unique works revealed how members of the African diaspora could use their own power to shape alternative futures. Butler is one of the futurists who will be honored in the Smithsonian’s expansive “Futures” exhibition, which will mark the Institution’s 175th anniversary and will debut in the Arts and Industries Building late this year.

“Anchoring her in the exhibition in the hall that we call ‘Futures That Unite’ is really important because her books have united people across time and space and ages and identities,” says Monica Montgomery, the exhibition team’s social justice curator. While many of Butler’s works are dystopian in nature, “We know that ultimately, her work aims to unite and go from what does the future of sorrow look like to what does the future of strength look like.”…

A Smithsonian artifact—an Olivetti typewriter—from the collections of the Anacostia Community Museum will represent Butler’s life in the “Futures” show. The museum received it directly from Butler in 2004, when it went on view in the exhibition, “All the Stories Are True,” explains Jennifer Sieck, the museum’s collections researcher. “Octavia Butler was one of the invited authors, and not only did she generously share her presence, but she also donated the typewriter to the museum, along with the ribbons.”

…In addition to the typewriter, Butler will be represented by a newly commissioned work of art by digital artist Nettrice Gaskins, who uses algorithms meant to be employed in machine learning to produce artworks. She will provide a series of portraits of featured futurists, including herself. Others include author and disability rights advocate Helen Keller, American sculptor and political activist Isamu Noguchi, and National Farmworkers Association co-founders Dolores Huerta and Cesar Chavez, inventor Alexander Graham Bell, frontline researchers in the global race for a Covid vaccine Barney Graham and Kizzmekia Corbett, computer scientist Margaret Hamilton, non-binary professional skateboarder Leo Baker, the multi-disciplinary educator Buckminster Fuller and the civil rights activist Floyd McKissick.

“I used styles that corresponded with each futurist,” Gaskins says. “When I created the futurist portraits, I collaborated with the A.I. [artificial intelligence] and fed the machine different styles to see what the results would be, then I chose the ones that captured what I imagined.” Mirroring characters in Butler’s Parables series, “I’m finding ways to use A.I. to recognize my own power to affect and direct change or chance,” she says….

(3) 2022 WORLDCON HIKING MEMBERSHIP RATE. Chicon 8, the 2022 Worldcon, is raising its attending membership rate to $190 on August 1. So if you want to beat the deadline, click here: Memberships – Chicon 8. The new rate will be good until December 20, 2021.

(4) SELF-PUBLISHING DURING THE PANDEMIC. Mike Allen is interviewed by Melanie Stormm at the SPECPO blog: “The Uncertain Journey of Shirley Jackson Finalist, Aftermath…”

…“I came to horror as a way of wrestling with the darkness in human nature, the darkness in my own nature,” Mike said, speaking to the autobiographical quality of some of his poems. “I had to make peace with my understanding of the world. The fact that the things Edgar Allen Poe was writing about were not alien, but part of the human experience.”

When he announced this, it hit me and made things plain. I understood my own tendency to like dark things: they seemed to tell the truth and I turn to fiction and poetry as much for truth as I do for adventure. These sorts of work found all the things our minds want to reject as part of life and wove them into the narrative. It’s about acceptance and not only thrill. I found myself reflecting internally on the kind of catharsis that comes from reading work like Aftermath and on my own desire to escape the Jeremiad news cycle. And yet, in the middle of the pandemic, life had been stressful for me, but I found that I wasn’t suffering from the same psychological horror that others I cared about suffered from. I felt strangely spared the extent of shock and sleepless nights others had, spared the existential crisis, the headlines (and very real events) created in others. Not because I was brighter or wiser or more resilient. In fact, it felt as though the level of peace I had was gifted to me.

As though reading the new question in my mind, Mike said: “In a way, horror inoculates you. There’s an addictive quality to it as it produces a lot of chemical activity in your brain, but it also inoculates you.” Mike paused, wondering whether ‘inoculate’ was the best word given the situation the world faced. Then, after a moment, he nodded. “Yeah, it inoculates you. You come to accept that the worse can happen, and that idea maybe shocks you less than it does other people.”…

(5) STAN’S ORIGIN STORY. J. Hoberman chronicles “Marvel’s Ringmaster” at the New York Review of Books. “Under Stan Lee’s guidance, Marvel marketed not only its characters but also the men who created them.” The first part of the article is open, but the rest is behind a paywall.

…The comic book industry was largely created by first-generation Americans. Lee’s Romanian immigrant father was a fabric cutter in New York City’s garment industry; the family struggled during the Great Depression. Skipping grades, the faster to finish his education and get a job, Lee attended DeWitt Clinton, a huge all-boys public high school in the Bronx that produced many distinguished alumni. Lionel Trilling, Irving Howe, A.M. Rosenthal, and William Kunstler were graduates. Lee’s classmates might have included the future playwright Paddy Chayefsky, the disgraced studio boss David Begelman, the Get Smart actor Don Adams, and (before he dropped out) the champion boxer Sugar Ray Robinson, as well as Richard Avedon and James Baldwin. Lee worked on the school literary magazine, less as a writer or editor than a self-appointed publicity director….

(6) LEARNING FROM WRONG GUESSES. Simon Evans discusses “What Sci Fi novels can teach us about uncertainty” in The Spectator.

…Literature has no single golden age, but some genre fiction does, and Science Fiction had a long one, stretching from the mid-30s all the way up to the mid 50s – up, perhaps, to Crick and Watson and the genuinely astounding discovery of DNA with which it briefly struggled to compete. Soon, we’d been to the moon too, and the race to speculate before science could accumulate became a lot tighter. 

Sci-Fi thrives off society’s sense of the unknown. The fiction of this era is worth reading as much to register the blind spots, as to applaud the bulls’ eyes. These are generally by way of under estimating the societal changes which were to sweep across the West after WW2. Many authors anticipate nuclear annihilation, and subsequent genetic mutation, but there does not appear to be a single one who saw feminism coming. 

Instead, stories by Asimov, Heinlein and the like bristle with square jawed 21st century heroes, wise cracking journalists, distracted academics and Blondes, Blondes, Blondes. Some of the predicted innovations in tech are hauntingly accurate, but the action remains firmly rooted in a social milieu Raymond Chandler would recognise. But this is instructive in itself and tells us something about the business of understanding what can, and cannot change, and how quickly. Many people envisaged the rise of a global pandemic at some point in the future but not many paused to consider its social implications – plus ça change. …

(7) VAMPIRE CLEARANCE SALE. FX dropped this trailer for season 3 of What We Do In The Shadows.

An evil bucket that’s great for collecting evil. See how the vampires are decluttering for the all-new season premiering Sept 2nd on FX.

(8) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

July 31, 1992 – Twenty-nine years ago the Buffy the Vampire Slayer film premiered. Written by Joss Whedon, it was directed by Fran Rubel Kuzui and produced by Howard Rosenman and Kaz Kuzui. The cast was Kristy Swanson, Donald Sutherland, Paul Reubens, Rutger Hauer and Luke Perry. It got middling reviews from the critics and currently holds a rating of just forty-three percent at Rotten Tomatoes. It neither made nor lost money at the box office.

It of course would spawn the later Buffy the Vampire Slayer and the Angel series as well. The former was both a critical and rating success. The Buffy the Vampire Slayer series would win a Hugo at Torcon 3. 

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born July 31, 1932 Ted Cassidy. He’s best known for the role of Lurch on The Addams Family in the mid-1960s. If you’ve got a good ear, you’ll recall that he narrated The Incredible Hulk series. And he played the part of the android Ruk in the episode “What Are Little Girls Made Of?” on Trek, and provided the voices of the more strident version of Balok in the “The Corbomite Maneuver” episode and the Gorn in the “Arena” episode. In The Man from U.N.C.L.E. “The Napoleon’s Tomb Affair” episode, he was Edgar, who kidnapped, tortured, and repeatedly attempted to kill Napoleon and Illya. And failed magnificently. (Died 1979.)
  • Born July 31, 1951 Jo Bannister, 70. Though best known as a most excellent British crime fiction novelist, she has three SF novels to her credit, all written in the early Eighties — The MatrixThe Winter Plain and A Cactus Garden. ISFDB lists one short story by her as genre, “Howler”, but I wasn’t at all aware that Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine printed genre fiction which is where it appeared first though y’all corrected me when I ran this Birthday note first several years back. 
  • Born July 31, 1955 Daniel M. Kimmel, 66. His essays on classic genre films were being published in The Internet Review of Science Fiction from 2005–2010 and are now in the Space and Time magazine. He is the 2018 recipient of the Skylark Award given by the New England Science Fiction Association.
  • Born July 31, 1956 Michael Biehn, 65. Best known in genre circles as Sgt. Kyle Reese in The Terminator and Terminator 2: Judgment Day, Cpl. Dwayne Hicks in Aliens and Lt. Coffey in The Abyss. He was also The Sandman in a single episode of Logan’s Run. Though not even genre adjacent, he was Johnny Ringo in the magnitude Tombstone film. Likewise he was in The Magnificent Seven series as Chris Larabee.
  • Born July 31, 1959 Kim Newman, 62. Though best known for his Anno Dracula series, I’d like to single him out for his early work, Nightmare Movies: A critical history of the horror film, 1968–88,  a very serious history of horror films. It was followed up with the equally great Wild West Movies: Or How the West Was Found, Won, Lost, Lied About, Filmed and Forgotten. He’s also a prolific genre writer and his first published novel, The Night Mayor, sounds very intriguing. (CE)
  • Born July 31, 1962 Wesley Snipes, 59. The first actor to be Blade in the Blade film franchise where I thought he made the perfect Blade. (There’s a new Blade actor though they name escapes right now.) I also like him as Simon Phoenix in Demolition Man. And he was Aman in Gallowwalkers, a Western horror film that is really, really bad. How bad? It gets an eleven percent rating by audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes.
  • Born July 31, 1976 John Joseph Adams, 45. Anthologist of whom I’m very fond of The Improbable Adventures of Sherlock Holmes and Dead Man’s Hand: An Anthology of the Weird West which he did. He was the Assistant Editor at The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction for nearly a decade, and he’s been editing both Lightspeed and Fantasy magazines since the early part of the previous decade.

(10) COMICS SECTION.

  • Alley Oop isn’t ready for this cosmic discovery.

(11) HAMILTON DROPS OUT OF THE TREES. Netflix dropped a trailer for the animated movie Vivo. Arrives August 6.

A one-of-kind kinkajou (voiced by Lin-Manuel Miranda), embarks on an unforgettable, musical adventure to deliver a love song to Marta (voiced by Gloria Estefan) on behalf of his owner Andrés (Buena Vista Social Club’s Juan De Marcos).

VIVO is an exhilarating story about gathering your courage, finding family in unlikely friends, and the belief that music can open you to new worlds.

(12) WELL, THAT WAS EXCITING. That new Russian module at the International Space Station got a little rowdy. The maneuvering thrusters fired accidentally, pushing the whole station out of position. The mis-orientation was bad enough that the ISS lost radio communication with ground controllers for about 11 minutes. One thinks that Roscosmos will have some explaining to do. “International Space Station briefly loses control after new Russian module misfires” at CNN.

An unusual and potentially dangerous situation unfolded Thursday at the International Space Station, as the newly-docked Russian Nauka module inadvertently fired its thrusters causing a “tug of war” with the space station and briefly pushing it out of position, according to NASA flight controllers.

Nauka — a long-delayed laboratory module that Russian space agency Roscosmos’ launched to the International Space Station last week — inadvertently fired its thrusters after docking with the International Space Station Thursday morning.

NASA officials declared it a “spacecraft emergency” as the space station experienced a loss of attitude (the angle at which the ISS is supposed to remain oriented) control for nearly one hour, and ground controllers lost communications with the seven astronauts currently aboard the ISS for 11 minutes during the ordeal. A joint investigation between NASA and the Russian space agency Roscosmos is now ongoing.

(13) HE CALLED IT. It always gives John King Tarpinian a warm feeling inside whenever Einstein is proved right. Yahoo! has the latest instance: “Einstein right, again: Researchers see light ‘echo’ around black hole”.

For the first time ever, scientists have seen the light from behind a black hole.

Black holes are regions in space-time where gravity’s pull is so powerful that not even light can escape its grasp. However, while light cannot escape a black hole, its extreme gravity warps space around it, which allows light to “echo,” bending around the back of the object. Thanks to this strange phenomenon, astronomers have, for the first time, observed the light from behind a black hole.

In a new study, researchers, led by Dan Wilkins, an astrophysicist at Stanford University in California, used the European Space Agency’s XMM-Newton and NASA’s NuSTAR space telescopes to observe the light from behind a black hole that’s 10 million times more massive than our sun and lies 800 million light-years away in the spiral galaxy I Zwicky 1, according to a statement from ESA.

The light “echo” was first predicted by Albert Einstein in his general theory of relativity, published in 1916….

(14) STRAY CAT STRUT. Nerdist says we have something to look forward to: “STRAY The Sci-Fi Game About a Stray Cat Debuts Early 2022”.

…In Stray, you play as an injured cat who has been separated from his family. He’s searching for a way back to them through the winding alleys of a decaying “cybercity.” Humanoid robots that lend an air of melancholy to the neon-lit streets are the only residents of this strange city. On his journey, the cat will find and befriend a small drone named B-12. They’ll work together to survive and get back home….

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

Pixel Scroll 7/16/21 All Scrollnanas Make A Pixel, And So Do Many More

(1) NEW PANEL FOR CORDWAINER SMITH REDISCOVERY AWARD. [Item by Steven H Silver.] Robert J. Sawyer and Barry Malzberg have retired as judges for the Cordwainer Smith Rediscovery Award. A new panel has been created to select the honorees.  The new panel includes Rich Horton, Steven H Silver, and Grant Thiessen.  The new panel’s first selection will be announced at Readercon the weekend of August 13-15.

(2) EATING THE FANTASTIC. Scott Edelman declares “It’s pure pandemonium — peanut butter pandemonium! — with John Wiswell” in Episode 149 of his Eating the Fantastic podcast.

John Wiswell

Over the past year, you joined me as I’ve baked and shared homemade scones and pizza, or ordered takeout weiner schnitzel and sushi, my guests and I doing our best to seize those moments of community COVID-19 tried to steal from us. In this case, John Wiswell and I pretended we were sitting across the table from each other during the Nebula Awards weekend.

John Wiswell won a Nebula Award earlier this month for the short story “Open House on Haunted Hill,” which had been published last year by Diabolical Plots. He’s also appeared in NatureUncannyWeird TalesFiresideDaily Science FictionFlash Fiction OnlineCast of WondersPodcastle, and Pseudopod. In an astonishing show of prolificacy, he managed to posted fiction on his blog every day for six straight years, which I find astonishing. I found his Nebula acceptance speech astonishing as well; it was one of the best I’ve ever heard.

John and I were supposed to enjoy specialty hamburgers together this time around, only … something went wrong, as you shall hear. Why did I end up eating a chuck roast, brisket, and short rib burger while John only got to nibble on ice cream and carrots? For the answer to that question, well … you’ll have to listen.

We discussed his motivation for giving one of the greatest acceptance speeches ever, how he learned to build meaning out of strangeness, the way writing novels taught him to make his short stories better, his dual story generation modes of confrontation vs. escape, why what we think we know about the Marshmallow Test is wrong, the reason we’re both open online about our rejections, how the love of wallpaper led to him becoming a writer, why we’ve each destroyed our early writing from time to time, what he learned writing a story a day for six years, and much more.

(3) GARCIA APPEARANCES. Chris Garcia will be doing presentations at two Mystical Minds convention gatherings in the coming year.

Mystical Minds is a new Pagan, Paranormal, and Metaphysical convention created to expand our minds as well as our networks! 

Witches, Pagans, Paranormal investigators, psychics, mediums, metaphysical practitioners, UFO experts, cryptozoologists, mystics, and other free-thinking spiritual seekers will come together in person this fall and spring for two conventions in the beautiful Bay area of Northern California! 

For the Fall Gathering / Mystical Minds convention this October in Dublin, CA he’ll present:

History of Paranormal Research in the Bay Area

Before Ghost HuntersMost Haunted, or even Ghostbusters, San Francisco and the Bay has been home to research into the unknown. From occultists and de-bunkers in the early 20th century, to TV personalities in the 70s and 80s, to hard core particle physicists, research into the paranormal has happened here! Join Chris Garcia as he tells their stories! 

At the Spring Gathering / Mystical Minds convention next February in San Jose, CA he’ll speak about —

The Winchester House

An architectural marvel, containing a story of American eccentricity, and a debate over the potential paranormal aspects. We will look at the history of the House, the stories surrounding its building, the recounting of what people have experienced, and how development in the area may have something to do with all the fuss… both before and after Sarah Winchester showed up!  

(4) HARD DRIVES OF IF. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster, Designated Financial Times Reader.] In the July 16 Financial Times, Tom Faber discusses “interactive fiction” or IF, a genre between a video game and a novel.

After a few wilderness years (around 2000), IF re-emerged among a niche community of writers and intellectuals who organised around the annual Interactive Fiction Competition, founded in1995.  This renaissance as partially triggered by  progress in technology.  Writers developed methods for inactivity such as multiple choice as an alternative to the intimidating grammar rules of the text parser. New tools such as Twine, ChoiceScript and Inklewriter empowered those without coding skills to create their own games.  This contributed to a diversification of the creator pool, particularly encouraging queer writers who have broached provocative topics not tackled in the gaming mainstream, ranging from gender dysphoria to clinical depression to unconventional kinks…

…One of the most remarkable IF writers is Porpentine, author of the vivid story With Those We Love Alive.  On this tale of an artist enslaved by an insectoid empress, you roam an alien world of ‘glass flowers on iron stalks. Canopy of leafbone.  Statues sunk into the earth.’  Porpentine asks you to swap words out, wipe them away, and — most intimately — to draw symbols on your arm which represent emotional responses to the narrative.

(5) FREE DOWNLOAD FROM TAFF. Willis Discovers America and other fan fiction by Walt Willis is the latest addition to the selection of free ebook downloads at David Langford’s unofficial Trans-Atlantic Fan Fund site, where they hope you’ll make a little donation to the fund if you please. Here’s the download page.

An attempt to collect all Walt Willis’s short fan fiction, in the old sense of invented stories about real-life fans and fandom. This omits the long and much-reprinted The Enchanted Duplicator (1954 with Bob Shaw) and its sequel Beyond the Enchanted Duplicator… To the Enchanted Convention, both already in the TAFF ebook library.

The title piece is a wildly silly imagining of Walt’s first trip to the USA in 1952, written and serialized in multiple fanzines before he actually began the journey; the text used here is from the collected edition of 1955, which included a new preface and annotations explaining some of the more arcane in-jokes. Further items range from scripts for two recorded “taperas” or tape operas that had fans rolling in the aisles at 1950s conventions, to a 1987 recasting of The Enchanted Duplicator as a computer text-Adventure game. Most of this material has never before been collected.

Edited by David Langford, who has added a few more explanatory notes; research work by Rob Hansen and others; proofreading by Pat Charnock. Cover artwork by Bob Shaw, drawn on to stencil for the collected Willis Discovers America (1955). 45,000 words.

(6) YOU COULD LOOK IT UP. John Scalzi tweeted this response to an item screencapped here the other day:

(7) ELVISH. The On fairy-stories website interviews Elvish linguistic scholar Carl F. Hostetter, editor of The Nature of Middle-Earth, a new J.R.R. Tolkien book: “From Linguistics to Metaphysics”. The book proposal with many of the edited texts was seen and approved by Christopher Tolkien, who passed away last year.

In your opinion, why did Tolkien not develop completely the Elvish languages?

For much the same reason that he never completed The Silmarillion: at first, because things grew and changed in his imagination and their expression on paper, and then, after the intervention and completion of The Lord of the Rings, because he had to revise everything to make it consistent with the published book and the thousands of years of “new history” that the introduction of the Second and Third Ages required, a task he was never able to achieve. With the languages, this was because whenever he attempted to make “definitive” decision on some point of phonology or grammar, he would almost inevitably start revising the whole system, which makes sense since any language is a complexly intertwined system, such that a change in one feature or detail can and almost always does affect other aspects. Nor, I think, was it ever Tolkien’s intention to make the Elvish languages “complete” or “finished”: they were primarily an expression of his linguistic aesthetic, and its changes over time. Unlike, say, with Zamenhof and Esperanto, Tolkien had no utilitarian purpose in mind for his languages.

(8) THINKING ABOUT THE FUTURE. ASU’s Center for Science and the Imagination has published the latest issue of Imaginary Papers, their quarterly newsletter on science fiction worldbuilding, futures thinking, and imagination. Issue 7 features a piece on The Expanse by science, technology, and society scholar Damien P. Williams, and a piece on “Sultana’s Dream,” a 1905 Bengali feminist utopian speculative fiction story, by musicologist and media scholar Nilanjana Bhattacharjya.

One of the most engrossing things about the small-screen adaptation of The Expanse is how viscerally it examines the human costs of life in space. After being exposed to a massive dose of radiation, starship captain James Holden gets a permanent anticancer implant, like a far-future successor of a Port-A-Cath. And from the first episode, we’re made to understand that the Belters—descendants of humans who have worked, lived, and started societies on asteroids or the moons of other planets in our solar system—have different physiologies than the humans who still call Earth home. Gravity weighs heavier on Belters: it constricts their blood vessels, strains their hearts, and cracks their bones….

(9) HENDRIX INTERVIEW. See Kevin Kennel’s video interview of author Grady Hendrix on Facebook.

Author Grady Hendrix (‘Horrorstör’, ‘We Sold Our Souls’ and more!) graciously took time out of his busy schedule for an interview with our very own library staff member Kevin Kennel, to discuss his new book, ‘The Final Girl Support Group’ and his experiences as a writer and author. …Please note: this video contains adult content and is an interview about an adult horror novel.

(10) VISITING UTOPIA. Kim Stanley Robinson explains the usefulness of “The Novel Solutions of Utopian Fiction” in The Nation.

… But in this world, we are never going to get the chance to start over. This was one of the reasons Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels objected to 19th-century utopias like that of Charles Fourier, the French designer of small communes living in perfect harmony: They were fantasy solutions that served only to distract people from the real work of politics and revolution. They were also in competition with Marx and Engels’s own ideas, so there was the usual left infighting. But it was a legitimate complaint: If utopia isn’t a political program, then what is it for?

The answer should be obvious. Utopias exist to remind us that there could be a better social order than the one we are in. Our present system is the result of a centuries-old power struggle, and it is devastating people and the biosphere. We must change it—and fast. But to what?

Utopias are thought experiments. Imagine if things ran like this: Wouldn’t that be good? Well, maybe…let’s live in it fictionally for a while. What problems crop up in this system? Can we solve them? What if we tweak things this way, or that? Let’s tell this story and then that story, and see how plausible they feel after we spend some imaginative time in them….

(11) STEPHEN HICKMAN (1949-2021). Famed sff artist Stephen Hickman died July 16 reported his friend and colleague Ron Miller on Facebook: “Lost one of my best friends, Steve Hickman, this morning and the world lost one of its best artists and finest human beings.” Hickman had over 350 book and magazine covers to his credit. He won the 1994 Best Original Artwork Hugo for his Space Fantasy Commemorative Stamp Booklet. He was a six-time Chesley Award winner.

(12) JUDI B CASTRO OBIT. Judi Beth Castro died July 15 of a sudden illness. She was 58. Her husband, author Adam-Troy Castro, announced her passing on Facebook.

The love of my life, Judi Beth Castro, lost her fight for life at 10:50 PM Thursday night. The illness was sudden, and she was always in critical danger, but between Tuesday night and Wednesday evening her numbers were improving at such a steady rate that we thought there was hope. Alas, the decline began on Thursday morning and by afternoon there was no doubt….

Her genre credits include Atlanta Nights (2005; a parody which she contributed to with many other co-authors), and the short fiction “Unfamiliar Gods” co-authored with Adam-Troy Castro.

(13) MEMORY LANE.

  • 1953 – Sixty-eight years ago, Commando Cody: Sky Marshal of the Universe premiered as a black-and-white movie serial from Republic Pictures. It was originally going to be a syndicated television series. It was directed by Harry Keller, Franklin Adreon and Fred C. Brannon as written by Ronald Davidson and Barry Shipman. Its cast was Judd Holdren, Aline Towne, Gregory Gaye and Craig Kelly.  It would last but one season of twelve twenty-five minute episodes. And yes, it was syndicated to television on NBC in 1955. Some sources say Dave Steven based his Rocketeer character off of Commando Cody. And there’s a clone trooper named Commander Cody who serves under Jedi general Obi-Wan Kenobi, an homage that Lucas has openly acknowledged as he watched the series as a child. 

(14) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born July 16, 1928 Robert Sheckley. I knew that his  short story “Seventh Victim” was the basis of The 10th Victim film but I hadn’t known ‘til now that Freejack was sort of based of his Immortality, Inc. novel.  I’ve read a lot by him with Bring Me the Head of Prince Charming (written with Zelazny) being my favorite work by him. Sheckley is very well stocked on the usual suspects. (Died 2005.)
  • Born July 16, 1929 Sheri S. Tepper. Nominated for an Austounding Award way back when, she had a long career, so I’m going to single out BeautyThe Gate to Women’s CountrySix Moon Dance and The Companions as my favorites knowing very well that yours won’t be the same. (Died 2016.)
  • Born July 16, 1951 Esther Friesner, 70. She’s won the Nebula Award for Best Short Story twice with “Death and the Librarian” and “A Birthday”.  I’m particularly fond of The Sherwood Game and E.Godz which she did with Robert Asprin. She won the 1994 Edward E. Smith Memorial Award for Imaginative Fiction, for lifetime contributions to science fiction, “both through work in the field and by exemplifying the personal qualities which made the late ‘Doc’ Smith well-loved by those who knew him,” presented by the New England Science Fiction Association. She’s well stocked at the usual suspects. 
  • Born July 16, 1956 Jerry Doyle. Now this one is depressing. Dead of acute alcoholism at sixty, his character Michael Garibaldi was portrayed as an alcoholic, sometimes recovering and sometimes not on Babylon 5. Damn. (Died 2016.)
  • Born July 16, 1963 Phoebe Cates, 58. Ok, so her entire genre appearance credit is as Kate Beringer in Gremlins and  Gremlins 2: The New Batch. Yes, I’ll admit that they’re two films that I have an inordinate fondness for that the Suck Fairy cannot have any effect upon them what-so-ever. Update: I’ve discovered since I last noted her Birthday that she was in Drop Dead Fred, a dark fantasy. She also stopped acting six years ago. 
  • Born July 16, 1965 Daryl “Chill” Mitchell, 56. Best remembered genre wise as Tommy Webber in the much beloved Galaxy Quest though his longest acting role was Patton Plame on the cancelled NCIS: New Orleans
  • Born July 16, 1966 Scott Derrickson, 55. Director and Writer of Doctor Strange who also had a hand in The Day the Earth Stood Still (as Director), The Exorcism of Emily Rose (Director and Writer), Urban Legends: Final Cut (Director and Producer) and the forthcoming Labyrinth sequel (Director and Writer). 
  • Born July 16, 1967 Will Ferrell, 54. His last genre film was Holmes & Watson in which he played Holmes. It won Worst Picture, Worst Director, Worst Screen Combo and, my absolute favourite Award,  Worst Prequel, Remake, Rip-off or Sequel. Wow. He was also in Land of the Lost which, errrr, also got negative reviews. Elf however got a great response from viewers and critics alike. He also was in two of the Austin Powers films as well. Oh, and he voices Ted / The Man with the Yellow Hat, a tour guide at the Bloomsberry Museum in Curious George.

(15) BANNED FROM ARGO. Larry Correia told Monster Hunter Nation readers that he’s gotten his “7th or 8th” 30-day ban from Facebook. He posted screenshots from his appeal to FB’s Oversight Board in “Fun With The Oversight Board -Or- Better Sign Up For The Newsletter Before I Get Perma-Banned” [Internet Archive link].

…Facebook is a time suck garbage site that exists as the propaganda arm of the DNC/Corpo-Uni-Party, to spy on you to sell to advertisers, and to steal everyone’s personal information. After bamboozling all the content creators to go over there to build “community” they now hold them hostage because the content creators are scared to leave because they’ll take a financial hit (The Oatmeal’s got a great cartoon about it)….

(16) WE INTERRUPT THIS PROGRAM. FOREVER. Hackaday memorializes the “End Of An Era: NTSC Finally Goes Dark In America”.

A significant event in the history of technology happened yesterday, and it passed so quietly that we almost missed it. The last few remaining NTSC transmitters in the USA finally came off air, marking the end of over seven decades of continuous 525-line American analogue TV broadcasts. We’ve previously reported on the output of these channels, largely the so-called “FrankenFM” stations left over after the 2009 digital switchover whose sound carrier lay at the bottom of the FM dial as radio stations, and noted their impending demise. We’ve even reported on some of the intricacies of the NTSC system, but we’ve never taken a look at what will replace these last few FrankenFM stations….

(17) SUSTAINABLE USE OF SPACE. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] In this week’s Science:

Last month, at the G7 Leaders’ Summit in Cornwall, United Kingdom, the leading industrial nations addressed the sustainable and safe use of space, making space debris a priority and calling on other nations to follow suit. This is good news because space is becoming increasingly congested, and strong political will is needed for the international space community to start using space sustainably and preserve the orbital environment for the space activities of future generations.

There are more than 28,000 routinely tracked objects orbiting Earth. The vast majority (85%) are space debris that no longer serve a purpose. These debris objects are dominated by fragments from the approximately 560 known breakups, explosions, and collisions of satellites or rocket bodies. These have left behind an estimated 900,000 objects larger than 1 cm and a staggering 130 million objects larger than 1 mm in commercially and scientifically valuable Earth orbits.

(18) SUPERPRANKSTERS? Isaac Arthur’s video “Annoying Aliens” contends, “Fictional portrayals of alien invasion or reports of alien sightings and abductions often imply motives which on inspection make little sense… unless perhaps the true purpose was mischief.”

(19) DISCWORLD COMMENTARY. YouTuber Dominic Noble says he has finally overcome his “sense of loss and deep sadness at the tragically too early passing of the author [Terry Pratchett] due to Alzheimer’s disease” and  is planning to do videos on the Discworld books. He begins with this overview of Discworld and his appreciation for it and for Pratchett.

(20) POTTER IN PERSPECTIVE. YouTuber Eyebrow Cinema considers“Harry Potter – 10 Years Later”.

It’s been a decade since Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part Two arrived in theaters and brought an end to JK Rowling’s saga of witches and wizards. Like most 90s kids, I too read all the books and saw all the movies as a kid and teenager but have completely left the series behind since. Ten years later, how does Harry Potter hold up? In this video essay, I try to get to the heart of Harry Potter as while as examine my own relationship to the series.

No official works cited for this video, though I imagine my criticisms of Rowling’s transphobia will draw some ire. I have no intention of arguing the ethics or legitimacy of Rowling’s claims….

[Thanks to Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, Martin Morse Wooster, Joey Eschrich, Chris M. Barkley, Jennifer Hawthorne, Steven H Silver, StephenfromOttawa, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, N., Daniel Dern, JJ, Michael Toman, John King Tarpinian, and Cat Eldridge for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to contributing editor of the day Camestros Felapton.]

Pixel Scroll 7/13/21 They Scrolled In Through The ‘Fresher Portal

(1) BETTER: LATE OR NEVER? Barbara Hambly talks about “One of the problems I’ve had in writing historicals” at her LiveJournal.

One of the problems I’ve had in writing historicals – particularly earlier on, when I was researching from libraries rather than the Internet – is when after the book came out (usually about a year after), a book that would have been REALLY REALLY USEFUL for my research on a particular topic will appear, and cause me to say, Grrr, dammit… In one case the discrepancy was great enough that I phoned the editor and asked that a couple of paragraphs be changed in the next printing… I don’t know if they ever did that or not…. 

(2) THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN ZEROS. How can I not link to something with this title? “Is This The End of Our Hero, Coke Zero, Part III: The Final Zeronation” – by John Scalzi at Whatever. The subject turns out to be less mysterious than one might expect.

…As with last time the formula was tweaked, people are wondering what I, who basically lives on Coke Zero (not because I have fragile masculinity I SWEAR but because I prefer the taste to Diet Coke), thinks of the plan to fiddle with the taste profile. My response is basically the same as last time: If it ends up tasting more like regular Coke, great, because that’s what I want; if it goes horribly wrong and I hate it, well, then, it’s a very fine time for me to give up my cola addiction, which as a 52-year-old man is probably doing neither my pancreas or my kidneys any favors. That said, the last time Coke tweaked the Zero formula, I was perfectly fine with it; it was only subtly different….

(3) LIBERTYCON WILL HOST DEEPSOUTHCON 61. Newly-elected Southern Fandom Confederation President Randy Boyd Cleary announced that next year’s DeepSouthCon will be hosted as part of LibertyCon in Chattanooga, Tennessee in 2023. [After the Scroll was posted, Cleary has issued a correction that 2023 is the year DSC and LibertyCon will be jointly held.]

LibertyCon has a membership ceiling – recently raised from 750 to 1000 paid attendees – and the available memberships for the 2022 convention go on sale July 23 at Noon Eastern time.

(4) TEEN LIFE IS UNBEARABLE. Disney and Pixar’s Turning Red releases March 11, 2022.

Growing up is a beast. …Mei Lee [is] a 13-year-old who suddenly “poofs” into a giant red panda when she gets too excited (which is practically ALWAYS). Sandra Oh voices Mei Lee’s protective, if not slightly overbearing mother, Ming, who is never far from her daughter—an unfortunate reality for the teenager….

(5) HEAD’S UP. [Item by Meredith.] YouTube’s making a change to their rules which will render a lot of linked videos inaccessible, but people can opt out if they know about it.

(6) A LITTLE DIP. Shat showed up on Shark Week! Let Yahoo! tell you about it: “90-year-old William Shatner conquers his fear of sharks by swimming with them”.

As Discovery’s Shark Week swims on, Monday’s special called Expedition Unknown: Shark Trek, featured Captain Kirk himself, William Shatner, trying to conquer his fear of sharks by boldly going and jumping into the water with them.

“I am deathly afraid of sharks,” Shatner told the show’s host, Josh Gates. “I really am.”

So to ease the Star Trek actor into things, Gates started by taking Shatner through a couple of relatively safe visits with hammerhead and reef sharks, neither of which are known to eat or attack humans. But those were just the appetizer courses, the main course was swimming with potentially deadly tiger sharks, and hoping not to become the main course….

(7) QUIZ TIME. Heroes & Icons challenges viewers: “How well do you remember the colors of ‘Star Trek’?” I only scored 4 out of 8 and was derisively told “You’ve either never seen Star Trek, or you’re color blind.” Surely you can do better!

(8) SCANNERS LIVE. Stuff reports New Zealand’s “National Library signs ‘historic’ agreement to donate 600,000 books to online archive” Cat Eldridge, who sent the link, wonders how that’s supposed to work because, “Errr, they don’t own the copyright to those books.”

The National Library will donate 600,000 books that it was planning to cull from its overseas collection to a United States-based internet archive that will make digital copies of the works freely available online.

National Librarian Rachel Esson announced the “historic” agreement on Monday, saying books left at the end of the library’s review process would be donated to the Internet Archive, a digital library with the self-stated mission of universal access to all knowledge.

“This is a great outcome for us,” Esson said…

(9) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

July 13, 1984 – Thirty-seven years ago, The Last Starfighter premiered. It was produced by Gary Adelson and directed by Nick Castle and Edward O. Denault. It was written by Jonathan R. Betuel who would later write and direct Theodore Rex. It starred Lance Guest, Dan O’Herlihy, Robert Preston and Catherine Mary Stewart. It was nominated for a Hugo at Aussiecon Two which was the year 2010: Odyssey Two won. Reception among critics was remarkably middlin’ for it with even Ebert neither really liking or not liking it. The Box Office likewise was just OK with it breaking even. The audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes currently give it a excellent rating of seventy percent. 

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born July 13, 1904 — Norvell W. Page. Chief writer of The Spider pulp series as Grant Stockbridge. He started out by writing a backup story in the first issue of The Spider pulp: “Murder Undercover” and by the third issue was writing the main Spider stories which he did for some seventy stories. He also wrote The Black Bat and The Phantom Detective pulps. (Died 1961.)
  • Born July 13, 1926 — Robert H. Justman. Producer and director who worked on many a genre series including Adventures of SupermanThe Outer LimitsStar TrekMission: ImpossibleMan from Atlantis and Star Trek: The Next Generation.  He was the assistant director for the first two Star Trek episodes: “The Cage” and “Where No Man Has Gone Before”. (Died 2008.)
  • Born July 13, 1937 — Jack Purvis. He appeared in three of director Terry Gilliam’s early fantasy films, with roles in Time BanditsThe Adventures of Baron Munchausen and Brazil. He’s in three of the Star Wars films, the only actor who claims to have played three different roles, and he’s also in Wombling Free (based on The Womblies, a UK Children’s series), The Dark Crystal and Willow. (Died 1997.)
  • Born July 13, 1940 — Sir Patrick Stewart OBE, 81. Jean-Luc Picard starting with being Captain of the USS Enterprise (NCC-1701-D) on Star Trek: The Next Generation up through the current Star Trek: Picard. (They’re filming two seasons of Picard back to back.) Also had some minor role in the MCU as Professor Charles Xavier, and played Leodegrance in Excalibur. Though only slightly genre adjacent, I’m fond of his role as King Henry II in the second version of The Lion in Winter
  • Born July 13, 1942 — Harrison Ford, 79. Three  great roles of course, the first being Dr. Henry Walton “Indiana” Jones, Jr. in the Indiana Jones franchise which is four films deep with a fifth on the way. The second of course being Han Solo in the Star Wars franchise, a role he’s done four times plus a brief cameo in The Rise of Skywalker. And the third being Rick Deckard in Blade Runner, a role he reprised for Blade Runner 2049. Oh, and he played the older Indy at age fifty in the Young Indiana Jones Chronicles in the “Young Indiana Jones and the Mystery of the Blues” episode. 
  • Born July 13, 1955 — David J. Schow, 66. Writer of splatterpunk horror novels, short stories, and screenplays. (He’s oft times credited with coining the splatterpunk term.) His screenplays include The Crow and Leatherface: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre III. He’s also done scripts for Masters of HorrorPerversions of Science and The Outer Limits. As an editor, he did the very impressive three-volume collection of Robert Bloch fiction, The Lost Bloch.
  • Born July 13, 1981 — Monica Byrne, 40. Her debut novel The Girl in the Road which is stellar won the Otherwise Award and was nominated for the Locus and Kitschies awards. The Actual Novel, her next novel, is due out in September. She’s written a generous handful of short fiction which you can find some of at her excellent website.
  • Born July 13, 1985 — Holly Lyn Walrath, 36. I don’t acknowledge SFF genre poetry nearly enough here, so let’s do it now. Her Glimmerglass Girl collection won the Elgin Award given by the Science Fiction Poetry Association. She’s also been a four-time finalist for the Rhysling Award which is given by the same group for the best genre poem of the year. Now who’s calling to tell me who these Awards are named after?

(11) COMICS SECTION.

  • Speed Bump shows a traffic encounter with some clever wordplay.

(12) KRAFTWERK. The Takeout’s reviewers actually loved it — “Taste Test: Kraft Macaroni & Cheese Ice Cream (yes, it’s real)”.

Look, you’re about to read a lot about bright orange, macaroni-and-cheese-flavored ice cream. If that’s objectionable to you, we completely understand. It wasn’t something we expected to find information about in our own inboxes, either. But find it we did, and according to a press release, Kraft Macaroni & Cheese Ice Cream is, in fact, an intentional product and not some horrible mistake….

The reviewers trade comments in realtime –

MS: It’s kind of… noodly. I’m getting the starchy noodle flavor as much as the cheese.

LS: It actually tastes startlingly like Kraft mac and cheese. [laughing]

MS: Have you ever had goat cheese ice cream? It tasted a lot like that on the front end. I wonder if I would have tasted “mac and cheese” if it wasn’t orange, and if it didn’t say Kraft right on it….

(13) FEELING BETTER. There’s a saying about the permanence of LASFS membership, “Death will not release you. Even if you die!” It came to mind when I saw the trailer for Risen.

Disaster unfolds when a meteor strikes a small town, turning the environment uninhabitable and killing everything in the surrounding area. Exobiologist Lauren Stone is called to find answers to the unearthly event. As she begins to uncover the truth, imminent danger awakens and it becomes a race against time to save mankind.

(14) SEVENTIES TV. CrimeReads shows that in the early 1970s TV movies often focused on sf, fantasy, and horror. “In 1970s America, Bizarre TV Movie Thrillers Were All the Rage”. Although I mainly remember reading the TV listings for these and thinking, “There’s something I won’t have to watch.”

The series of movies was promoted as “an original motion picture produced especially for the Movie of the Week.” The use of the phrase “motion picture” seemed to imply class, of course.

The anthology film series began on September 23, 1969 with the airing of “Seven in Darkness,” about a plane crash whose seven survivors are all blind and must make their way out of the wilderness together. It starred old-school comedian Milton Berle, so perhaps there were bugs to be worked out of the prestige made-for-TV movie machine.

The first year’s worth of TV movies were dominated by thrillers starring the likes of Christopher George in the pilot for “The Immortal,” a TV series that I previously wrote about for CrimeReads, as well as films starring Eva Gabor, Sammy Davis Jr., Larry Hagman and Karen Valentine as the new Gidget. That movie, “Gidget Grows Up,” was a pilot for a TV series, a practice to be repeated many times during the 1970s TV-movie era.

The second season of the ABC movie anthology gave viewers more dynamic thrillers, though. “How Awful about Allan” starred Anthony Perkins. James Franciscus of “Longstreet” and Leslie Nielsen starred in “Night Slaves.” “The House That Would Not Die” featured Barbara Stanwyck….

(15) SUPER MARIO GOES FOR SUPER PRICE. “’Super Mario’ cartridge sold for video game record $1.5 million” reports Yahoo! Presumably the buyer isn’t going to take it out of the package.

A cartridge of Nintendo’s classic video game “Super Mario 64” set a world record Sunday, selling at auction for $1.56 million.

The sale, the first ever of a game cartridge to surpass $1 million, came just two days after a sealed copy of “The Legend of Zelda” — made for the old Nintendo NES console — sold for a then-record of $870,000.

Dallas-based Heritage Auctions, which handled both sales, has not identified the buyers. Before Friday, the record for a video game auction was the sale in April of a 1986 “Super Mario Bros.” cartridge: it went for $660,000….

(16) FOLLOW THE BOUNCING APPLE. Daniel Dern has decided, “Rather than wait until late Sept (when Foundation starts) — we’re turning in for… Schmigadoon!” “Apple’s musical comedy series ‘Schmigadoon!’ breaks into song with new trailer”.

… Apple TV+ today released the trailer for its new musical comedy series “Schmigadoon!,” executive produced by Lorne Michaels and starring Emmy Award nominee Cecily Strong and Emmy Award winner Keegan-Michael Key. The first two episodes will premiere globally on Friday, July 16, 2021 exclusively on Apple TV+, followed by one new episode weekly every Friday.

A parody of iconic Golden Age musicals, “Schmigadoon!” stars Strong and Key as a couple on a backpacking trip designed to reinvigorate their relationship who discover a magical town living in a 1940s musical. They then learn that they can’t leave until they find “true love.” The six-episode season also stars Alan Cumming, Kristin Chenoweth, Aaron Tveit, Dove Cameron, Ariana DeBose, Fred Armisen, Jaime Camil, Jane Krakowski and Ann Harada. Martin Short guest stars….

(17) VIDEO OF THE DAY. In the Honest Game Trailers “World of Warcraft:  the Burning Crusade Classic,” Fandom Games says in this reissue of a 2008 expansion.”Everyone playing it is at least 30, so you can discuss your burgeoning health problems!”

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

Pixel Scroll 7/9/21 Someday We’ll Find It, The Scrolling Convention

(1) CLARION ONLINE EVENTS. Each year Clarion West brings the Write-a-thon to the global community. This is the second year it’s been presented virtually. Check out the free virtual panels and readings coming your way.

Register at the link for “Uncovering Cover Art” featuring Grace P. Fong, Sloane Leong, Aimee Fleck, and John Jennings, on Monday, July 12 at 6:30 p.m. Pacific.

While books capture our hearts, covers are what call to readers from the shelves. What makes an eye-catching, imagination-sparking cover? What do authors need to know about the process? Come learn the answers from some of the hottest artists and book designers in the industry.

You also can register at this link for “Mental Health & Writing” with Susan Palwick, Chaplain, Cassie Alexander, ICU RN, and Justin C. Key, MD on Monday, July 19 at 6:30 p.m. Pacific.

Authors and other artists are often stereotyped as struggling with our mental health. With increased emphasis in media and culture toward understanding and promoting mental health, writers have more resources and self-care tools than ever before. Learn about establishing healthy writing habits and writing about difficult subjects from a panel of authors who are also professionals in fields related to health and wellness.

(2) MEET THE NEW BOSS. James Davis Nicoll, for one, is happy to welcome our “Alien Overlords: Five SF Futures Where Humans Are No Longer in Charge” at Tor.com. (OK, not really, but the line begs to be used here.)

Humans are accustomed to seeing ourselves as the rulers of creation, apex beings with the right to rearrange the world for our convenience. For many people this is a central tenet of faith, little challenged by the occasional pandemic or environmental collapse. SF authors, however, are willing to consider that this just might be wrong. Many works have explored what it would be like if we were one day to discover that superior entities now ruled our world. Humans would be domestic animals, mere puppies of Terra…

Consider the following five works that challenge human supremacy….

(3) MORDOR ON THE RIVIERA. “An Enduring Fellowship” in Deadline Disruptors+Cannes on pages 34-41 can be read magazine-style at Issuu.

In 2001, a lavish Cannes part, and 26 minutes of footage changed the course of film history. As Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings approaches its 20th anniversary, Mike Fleming Jr. gathers key players to look back at a breathtaking gamble.

(4) VIDEO GAME LEGENDS. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster, Designated Reader, Financial Times.] In the July 7 Financial Times, Tom Faber discusses urban legends about games that drove users mad (mad, I tell you, mad!)

Much gaming creepypasta revolves around video games for children such as Pokemon and Mario. There is the story of Herobrine, a misty-eyed character who stalks Minecraft, only glimpsed in the distance or through fog.   Another concerns a mod for fantasy adventure Morrowwind named “Jvk1166z.esp’ which causes characters to stare blankly at the sky while a figure with long, spidery limbs haunts the edges of your screen.  Neither myth has been substantiated.

Some popular legends concern haunted games that probably never existed. Polybius was supposedly a 1980s arcade game, created as part of a US government experiment, that induced psychoactive reactions in players.  More recently, a YouTube video emerged called ‘Sad Satan’ that showed a creepy corridor in a mysterious game apparently downloaded on the dark web,  Online commented eager jumped on these, untangling references to serial killers and psy-ops, but both are likely hoaxes dreamt up by horror fans.

(5) TSR’S CHESHIRE CAT IMITATION. En World tries to follow the bouncing brand in the face of a new press release from TSR: “ Just when you thought it was all over…. now there’s a fourth TSR!”

In the story that will never end, after having this week turned itself into Wonderfilled, Inc, and deleted its Twitter account, TSR is BACK AGAIN! Like again, again, again, again. Complete with old-school logo! And Michael appears to actually exist!

Michael K. Hovermale says in a press release that an unnamed individual (I’m guessing Stephen Dinehart) apparently ran all the social media accounts for TSR, Dungeon Hobby Shop Museum, Ernie Gygax, Justin LaNasa, and Giantlands. He goes on to say that this person has been replaced, and that all posts on those social media accounts are “invalid”. There’s no mention of Stephen Dinehart’s social media accounts though.

…The existing (TSR3} website still says it’s WONDERFILED (sic), Inc. However there’s now a NEW one at TSR Hobbies. We’ll call that TSR3.5 for now. I’m struggling to distinguish TSRs from tribbles at this point. They just keep on coming!

Here’s the text of the TSR press release at PR.com: “TSR Appoints New Public Relations Officer; Responds to Social Media Mismanagement”.

TSR has replaced the individual that was serving as both social media manager and information technology manager for TSR and The Dungeon Hobby Shop Museum. This individual was also the social media manager for Giantlands, Justin LaNasa, and Ernie Gygax.

All posts on all social media accounts for TSR and Dungeon Hobby Shop Museum should be considered invalid.

All posts on all social media accounts of Justin LaNasa and Ernie Gygax should be considered invalid.

TSR is in the process of recovering the social media accounts of TSR, The Dungeon Hobby Shop Museum, and the personal Twitter accounts of Justin LaNasa and Ernie Gygax….

Ernie Gygax:
“I wish to speak directly to the transgender community regarding this incident. The individual who was speaking to you on Twitter does not represent me or TSR in any way. Trans people are always welcome to play with us. Everyone is welcome at our table.”

(6) THE MARS MY DESTINATION. Dwayne Day discusses a 1969 proposed NASA Mars rocket that inspired Gordy Dickson, Stephen Baxter and Lego builders today in “Flights to Mars, real and LEGO” in The Space Review.

…Boeing’s design [submitted in 1968] has shown remarkable staying power and still appears in artwork decades later. Now, Boeing’s design has been recreated in LEGO form, in three-dimensional plastic glory that you can build yourself….

The political winds had shifted against expensive human space exploration long before the summer of 1969 and the Mars mission, which was only supposed to be the capstone at the top of NASA’s ambitious plans, never had a chance for approval. NASA officials soon found themselves scrambling to justify any human spaceflight activity at all, let alone the exquisite program they had envisioned.

But by this time, the Mars spaceship design had gone public. Marshall Space Flight Center artists had produced artwork showing the multiple phases of the Mars mission and that artwork was soon published in many places, such as books about future spaceflight. The Apollo-shaped MEM also became iconic and was also illustrated by numerous artists. Although the public knew that a future Mars mission had not been approved, they could reasonably expect that if it eventually happened, this was what it would look like.

In 1978, Canadian-American science fiction author Gordon Dickson published the novel The Far Call, about a mission to Mars which employed a spacecraft similar to the one outlined in 1969. It also appeared in Allen Drury’s heavy-handed 1971 book The Throne of Saturn. In 1996, Stephen Baxter published Voyage, which also used a similar spacecraft, although an accident involving a nuclear propulsion stage has tragic consequences. (See: “Space alternate history before For All Mankind: Stephen Baxter’s NASA trilogy,” The Space Review, June 8, 2020.)

(7) PATTY JENKINS AND STAR WARS. “Patty Jenkins says she’s ‘free’ to create the Star Wars story she wants” notes Fansided. Patty Jenkins, director of two Wonder Woman movies, was announced by Disney in late 2020 to be helming the next Star Wars feature film, Star Wars: Rogue Squadron. 

The Hollywood Reporter’s Chris Gardner included Star Wars questions in a recent interview: “Patty Jenkins Thinks Streaming’s Day-and-Date Strategy Won’t Last”.

You had one of the best announcements of the pandemic, in my opinion, when you suited up and revealed that you are directing Star Wars: Rogue Squadron. How is development going?

It’s going amazing. I had been on it already for six months before I even announced that, so we’re pretty deep into it. We’re finishing a script, crewing up, and it’s all going wonderful. I’m so excited about the story and excited that we’re the next chapter of Star Wars, which is such a responsibility and such an opportunity to really start some new things. It’s really exciting in that way.

What is the consulting process like with the Star Wars brain trust?

There’s plenty of it. It’s an entirely different way of working. I’m on the phone with all of them and doing Zoom meetings with everybody involved in Star Wars all the time. I’m fairly free to do the story that we want to do, but you really need to know who’s done what, who’s doing what, where it goes and how it works, and what designs have been done before. It’s a whole other way of working that I’m getting up to speed on.

(8) WILLIAM SMITH (1933-2021). Actor William Smith, famous as the opponent of Clint Eastwood’s Philo Beddoe in the climactic bare-knuckle fight that ends  Any Which Way You Can (1980), but whose 274 career credits includes many genre productions, died July 5 at the age of 88. The Hollywood Reporter profile mentioned these sff TV and movie appearances:

An inductee into the Muscle Beach Venice Bodybuilding Hall of Fame, Smith was perfect for the role as Adonis, a henchman for Zsa Zsa Gabor’s evil Minerva on Batman. On the ABC show’s final episode in 1968, he was on the receiving end of a Whamm!!, Zowie!, Splatt!, Crash! and Sock! from Batman, Robin and Batgirl.

…He also played the father of the title character in Conan the Barbarian [1982], writing his own lines for his monologue that opens the film. “No one, no one in this world can you trust … not men, not women, not beasts … this you can trust,” he says pointing to the movie’s iconic steel sword.

…Smith appeared in the cult movies Piranha (1972), where he said his stunt with a very large anaconda almost cost him his life, as an FBI agent in Invasion of the Bee Girls (1973), and as a drag racer in David Cronenberg’s Fast Company (1979).

(9) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

  • July 9, 1982 – Thirty-nine years ago, Tron premiered. The producer was Donald Kushner. It was written and directed by Steven Lisberger from the story by himself and Bonnie MacBird. The cast was Jeff Bridges, Bruce Boxleitner, David Warner, Cindy Morgan and Barnard Hughes. The film was well received by critics with Ebert in particular loving it. However it did poorly at the Box Office and the studio wrote it off as a loss. (The sequel, Tron: Legacy, was a box office success.) Audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes currently give it a decent rating of sixty-nine percent. 

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born July 9, 1911 — Mervyn Peake. Best remembered for the Gormenghast series which is quite delightfully weird. Most fans hold that there are but there novels in the series (Titus GroanGormenghast and Titus Alone) though there’s a novella, “Boy in Darkness”, that is a part of it. It has been adapted for radio three times and television once, and Gaiman is writing the script for a forthcoming series which as now isn’t out. (Died 1968.)
  • Born July 9, 1938 — Brian Dennehy. He was Walter in the Cocoon films, and, though it’s more genre adjacent than actually genre, Lt. Leo McCarthy in F/X and F/X 2. He also voiced Django in  Ratatouille. His very last performance was as Jerome Townsend in the “Sing, Sing, Sing” episode of Penny Dreadful: City of Angels series. (Died 2020.)
  • Born July 9, 1944 — Glen Cook, 77. With the exception of the new novel which is still on my To Be Read list, I’ve read his entire excellent Black Company series. I’ve also mostly liked his far lighter Garrett P.I. series (though not the last novel for reasons I’ll not discuss here) which it seems unfortunately he’s abandoned. And I should read the Instrumentalities of the Night as I’ve heard good things about it. 
  • Born July 9, 1945 Dean Koontz, 76. The genres of of mystery. horror, fantasy and  science fiction are all home to him. Author of over a hundred novels, his first novel was SF — it being Star Quest (not in print) published as an Ace Double with with Doom of the Green Planet by Emil Petaja. ISFDB claims over half of his output is genre, I’d say that a low estimate. 
  • Born July 9, 1954 — Ellen Klages, 67. Her novelette “Basement Magic” won a Nebula Award for Best Novelette. I strongly recommend Portable Childhoods, a collection of her short fiction, which published by Tachyon Publications, my favorite publisher of fantasy. They released another collection from her, Wicked Wonders, which is equally wonderful. Passing Strange, her 1940 set San Francisco novel, which won a BSFA Award and a World Fantasy Award, is also really great. Ok, I really like her.
  • Born July 9, 1971 — Scott Grimes, 50. He’s Lieutenant Gordon Malloy on The Orville. He did show up once in the Trek verse, playing Eric in the “Evolution“ episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation. And you might recognize him as Bradley Brown in the first two Critters films. 
  • Born July 9, 1978 — Linda Park, 43. Best known for her portrayal of communications officer Hoshi Sato on the Enterprise. Her first genre role was Hannah in Jurassic Park III, and she was Renee Hansen in the Spectres filmwhich Marina Sirtis was also in. Her latest genre role was in For All Mankind as Amy Chang in the “Pathfinder” episode. 
  • Born July 9, 1995 — Georgina Henley, 26. English actress, best remembered  for her portrayal of Lucy Pevensie throughout the Chronicles of Narnia film franchise from age ten to age fifteen.  She’s listed as having an unspecified role in an untitled Game of Throne prequel series but given the number of those proposed, this may or may not exist. Actually I’d bet on it not happening. 

(11) COMICS SECTION.

(12) HERE’S INVESTIGATIVE REPORTING FOR YA. Texas Monthly checked in with the artists who did the comic book that adorns the lawsuit filing: “Houston Comic Book Store Filed a Lawsuit in Comic Form”. (See the images in the June 30 Pixel Scroll, item #12).

They filed the lawsuit as … a comic book?

Sure enough. Artists Michael Charles, Maurice Terry Jr., Michael Brooks, and Benjamin Carbonero of Bad Cog Studios illustrated the 24-page comic at the request of Third Planet owner T.J. Johnson and his attorney, Cris Feldman. “I was really intrigued by it because, first of all, I got a lawyer calling me to do a creative project,” Charles told the Chronicle. The full-color comic shows the store staff fending off an onslaught of ceramic plates, lit cigarette butts that they allege have twice caused fires, and no fewer than fourteen fire extinguishers tossed from hotel balconies onto the store’s roof. One panel depicts store employees using buckets to collect water as rain leaks through the damaged roof onto the shelves.

Is this legal?

It is, in fact! It’s unconventional, but the law doesn’t require that pleadings in civil cases be black-and-white typed documents formatted in any particular way. Still, there are good reasons why most lawsuits look the same: one judge might be amused by an unusual pleading, while another may consider it beneath the dignity of the court; a gimmicky pleading might undermine the gravity of the case; and, of course, not every suit lends itself to creative storytelling. The pleading from Third Planet is a unique case. It’s a third amended petition, which means that the parties involved are already in the middle of the legal process. The store and its attorneys know who the judge reviewing the claim is, and whether he’s the sort to hold this gimmick against them. Also, according to the pleading, lawyers for the defendant claimed that they didn’t understand the previous petition, which meant that filing it as an easy-to-comprehend comic book fits the time-honored legal tradition of being snarky to opposing counsel.

(13) NONE SO BLIND. The Hollywood Reporter’s kerfuffle coverage, “Dean Cain Lambastes ‘Woke’ Captain America Comic; Gets Roasted on Twitter in Return”, includes Cain’s admission that he didn’t read the issue. (But James Bacon did, and recently reviewed it for File 770: “Captain America of the Railways and Joe Gomez”.)

Dean Cain was still trending Friday on Twitter after criticisms he made about the new Captain America comic series earlier in the week on Fox & Friends.

The former Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman star and Donald Trump supporter, bashed The United States of Captain America comic series due to a line in the first issue in which Cap says the American dream for some “isn’t real.”

Cain took issue with that notion, saying everyone in the country should support the U.S.A.

“I love the concept of Captain America, but I am so tired of this wokeness and anti-Americanism,” Cain said on the Fox News Channel program. “In my opinion, America is the greatest country in history. It’s not perfect. We are constantly striving for a more perfect union, but I believe she’s the most fair, equitable country anyone’s ever seen, and that’s why people are clamoring to get here from all over the globe.”

Calling himself a “revolutionary” for supporting America these days, Cain added, “Do these people ever travel outside of America? Do they go to other countries where they have to deal with governments who aren’t anywhere near as fair as the United States? I don’t think they do. I do it all the time, and I kiss the soil when I get back.”

Needless to say, his comments did not go over well with most, a lion’s share of the reaction on social media blasting Cain for his short-sightedness.

Cain later admitted that he had not actually read the comic, he was just responding to a conservative outlet that reported on one line in the book to which ultra Right-wingers then dug in their claws….

(14) HE’S DEAD, JIM. When Loki visits The Simpsons, Stan Lee won’t be with him: “Marvel Blocks Stan Lee Cameo in ‘The Simpsons’-‘Loki’ Crossover Short”.

The long-standing tradition of Stan Lee appearing in every Marvel Comics film, television show and video game has come to an end – “The Simpsons” showrunner, Al Jean, says Marvel prevented them from adding a cameo appearance of the comic book legend in their new animated short, “The Good, the Bart, and the Loki.”

In the short, Tom Hiddleston, as Loki, makes his debut appearance in “The Simpsons” universe for a cartoon that makes an array of allusions to other MCU prominent characters. But there is no sign of Lee.

Jean told ComicBook.com that he and his team considered inserting a tribute to Lee upon discovering unused audio files of the creative genius from a prior engagement with the show.

“It wasn’t a joke,” Jean said. “We just thought, ‘Oh, we have Stan Lee audio from when he was on our show. Could we cameo him in?’”

However, Marvel summarily nixed the plan due to a new policy they have established concerning the beloved author.

“They said that their policy is he doesn’t cameo now that he’s passed away. Which is a completely understandable policy,” Jean explained. “That was their only note and that was, of course, easily done.”

(15) AGAINST THE GRAINS. “World’s biggest sandcastle constructed in Denmark” reports The Guardian. At 21.16 metres in height, it is more than 3 metres taller than the previous holder, says Guinness World Records.

Its Dutch creator, Wilfred Stijger, was assisted by 30 of the world’s best sand sculptors. He said he wanted the castle to represent the power the coronavirus has had over the world since the beginning of the pandemic. On top of the sandcastle is a model of the virus wearing a crown.

“It’s ruling our lives everywhere,” Stijger said. “It tells you what to do … It tells you to stay away from your family and not go to nice places. Don’t do activities, stay home.”

To make it more cohesive, the sand contains approximately 10% clay and a layer of glue was applied after it was completed so that it could stand up to the chilly and windy conditions of the autumn and winter.

Blokhus residents have been delighted to see local features incorporated into the sandcastle, such as beach houses and lighthouses, as well as depictions of popular activities such as windsurfing and kitesurfing.

The castle is expected to stand until the heavy frost sets in, probably next February or March.

(16) KHAN! Io9 debuted DUST’s “Star Trek Khan William Shatner Scream in Claymation”. The whole thing is 10 seconds long. The lip-quiver preceding the scream is what makes it great.

(17) VIDEO OF THE DAY. The Danish Road Safety Council reminds people that if you’re going to invade another country you should wear a helmet!

[Thanks to Andrew Porter, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, James Davis Nicoll, Rich Horton, John A Arkansawyer, Michael Toman, Rich Lynch, John King Tarpinian, Cat Eldridge, and Mike Kennedy for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to contributing editor of the day Jon Meltzer.]

Pixel Bunker Retro Arcade

By James Bacon: Pixel Bunker is retro arcade in Central Milton Keynes, England, and has opened with the end of the Covid lockdown. With over 100 arcade machines, they operate on a pay-once-to-enter and no further charges model, so a three-hour visit is £12, an absolute bargain when I think of how much I spent in so little time any time I could get to an arcade! 

With Covid-Safe precautions, there’s tight control and pre-booking required, and there is a max capacity of 70 in the 2000 sq ft space — it felt spacious and uncramped. With a number of games for two players, there was never a wait to get onto favourite machines.

Which, let’s be honest, is a new experience. 

The variety of machines, is amazing, Outrun, Time Crisis 2, which was always very popular, Tron, Afterburner, Donkey Kong – well, they have 100 machines! 

I was impressed to find Return of the Jedi and even more so, the sit-down X-Wing Star Wars machine which was utterly fabulous. The sounds, the visuals, linear and basic, and such an immersive machine where one can escape. And if you get blasted, just press Start.  

I got a chance to speak to Jason Joiner, who is currently developing The National Film and Sci-Fi Museum where the arcade is situated. He explained that the Museum had some machines but another business rented them out to him for large events. This business was in trouble during Covid, so an accommodation was made to buy the machines, all of which are fully restored and maintained and the same team continues to maintain them — a collobarative success in time of crisis. 

More machines have been acquired, and they cycle games in and out. 

These are unique and fascinating moments in history. I was minded of the Pinball Machine museum near Oakland, the old games on the pier at San Francisco, both of which I enjoyed, but these are the electronic machines I grew up with, and do much Science Fiction, Aliens, RoboCop, Battlezone, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and many more. 

The collection is growing and there were Star Trek II, Willow and Empire Strikes Back machines awaiting cycling into use.

I loved it. I went to Sega World in the Trocadero many years ago and loved it, I think the pay in once model really helps, and although they did not have Gauntlet or the Sega R360 After Burner game, I cannot complain and really enjoyed it. 

Click for details of the Pixel Bunker and National Film and Sci-Fi Museum.

Pixel Bunker tickets are available here from Eventbrite.

The National Film & Sci-fi Museum is in central Milton Keynes at 34 Secklow Gate West, MK9 3AT.

[We’ll send James back to the National Film & Sci-fi Museum when its 20,000 sq foot museum opens and get a full report.]

Pixel Scroll 5/15/21 What Can You Get A Pixel For Christmas When He Already Owns A Scroll?

(1) SUCCESSFUL SURGERY. Amazing Stories’ Kermit Woodall says “Steve Davidson’s Heart Surgery is Successful!”

I got the call a few hours ago (didn’t know what it was and it went to voicemail) and just listened to it. Steve’s doctor said all went well and he’s doing fine in recovery!

(2) OH, THE NEUTRINOS YOU’LL BASH. The New York Times profiles the author in “Andy Weir’s New Space Odyssey”.

“The real world is a far richer and more complex tapestry than any writer could invent,” Andy Weir, the author of “Project Hail Mary,” said.

When Andy Weir was writing his new novel, “Project Hail Mary,” he stumbled into a thorny physics problem.

The book’s plot hinges on a space mold that devours the sun’s energy, threatening all life on Earth, and that propels itself by bashing neutrinos together. He needed to figure out how much energy would be produced by two of those subatomic particles colliding.

“I was having a really difficult time finding information on that, and the reason is because people don’t fully know. I mean, we’re getting to the edge of human knowledge on that one,” Weir said in an interview last month from his home in Saratoga, Calif. “Neutrinos are the smallest and most difficult to deal with subatomic particles that we have ever actually managed to prove exist.”

Most sci-fi writers would err on the side of fiction rather than science. But Weir has never been satisfied with fictional solutions to scientific quandaries. He eventually figured out the number he needed for a single sentence — 25.984 microns — and, in the process, learned a lot about neutrinos.

“You have something like 100 trillion neutrinos passing through you, personally, every second,” he said excitedly. “Just being emitted by the sun.”

(3) WEIR Q&A. Dr. Brian Keating interviews the author in “Andy Weir: Project Hail Mary = Even Better than the Martian!”. Some of the questions are:

  • How do you balance realism and scientific fact with a fictional narrative?
  • Could you really mobilize resources at a planetary scale?
  • Do you think it’s realistic to turn an amateur avocation into a career?
  • Is there too much UFOlogy? What’s your stance on SETI and UFOs?
  • Do you think we’ve been going about SETI the wrong way?

Andy Weir built a two-decade career as a software engineer until the success of his first published novel, The Martian , allowed him to live out his dream of writing full-time. He is a lifelong space nerd and a devoted hobbyist of such subjects as relativistic physics, orbital mechanics, and the history of manned spaceflight. He also mixes a mean cocktail. He lives in California.

(4) EVERYONE’S A CRITIC. Some would call this common beginning and ending point Joycean. Some will get that call and hang up. Thread starts here.

(5) FOUR’S A CHARM. Charles Payseur’s Hugo nomination made the news in Wisconsin: “Beyond Belief: Local Author Named Finalist For Hugo Awards – For the Fourth Time” at Volume One. Payseur blogs at Quick Sip Reviews.

… Payseur said he’s grateful for the recognition he said is largely the result of years of consistent effort and a deep affinity for sci-fi/fantasy writing. His own writing, combined with blogs and reviews, landed him on the Hugo map, he said, noting that during the past six years he has reviewed more than 5,000 short fiction and poetry works. His Hugo recognition “comes on the back of my nonfiction work, my blogging and reviewing, and most of that probably comes down to just keeping at it and trying my best to engage with other people’s work openly, thoroughly, and compassionately,” Payseur said.

… Payseur, a 2008 UW-Eau Claire graduate in English, enjoys a variety of different writing styles, from poetry to romance to mystery. But ultimately science fiction and fantasy “with a dash of horror” is his favorite form to write and read.

Payseur has penned a book, The Burning Day and Other Strange Stories, published by Lethe Press and scheduled for release this summer. The work is a compilation of short stories – some of which he wrote years ago and some more recently. The Burning Day is a reflection of Payseur’s questioning of himself and the world around him, he said, examining “desire, nostalgia, and hope in a time when the past and future don’t exactly seem bright.”…

(6) TWO FOR THE PRICE OF NONE. Bruce Gillespie’s SF Commentary 105 (March 2021) and SF Commentary 106 (May 2021) are available as free downloads here. Bruce comments —

They are really two parts of one issue, 80 pages each. No. 105 includes my natter, plus Colin Steele’s reviews column, and the first half of the Gigantic Letter Column, plus covers by Carol Kewley and Alan White.

No. 106 includes my tribute to Yvonne Rousseau (1945–2021), noted Australian fan, critic, essayist and editor; Perry Middlemiss’s article about the 1960s Hugos; Andrew Darlington’s discussion of early John Brunner; Jennifer Bryce’s Top 10 Books of 2020; and with Tony Thomas, a coverage of the most recent Booker Prizes. Plus the second half of the Gigantic Letter Column.

(7) HEAR AUDIO OF A FIFTIES EASTERCON PLAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] “Last and First Fen” is a play that was performed at the 1956 Eastercon and recently put online by Rob Hansen as part of his invaluable research into British fan history.  If this play was a transcript it would have to be heavily annotated.  I got none of the jokes about British fen and only a few of the references to Americans.  But I nonetheless got the gist of the production and thought it was agreeably silly, especially for people who like British comedy of the era.  I thought it was worth an hour.  The website also has photos of what cosplayers looked like in 1956. The audio recording is here.

(8) WIBBLY WOBBLY WEATHER. James Davis Nicoll is your ambassador to “Five Fictional Planets Plagued by Extreme Climate Shifts” at Tor.com.

…SF authors being what they are, those whose works feature climate forcing due to companion stars tend to prefer dramatic oscillations rather than low, single percent wobbles. One might expect that such works would have first shown up in these times of worry over anthropogenic climate change. Not so! This was already a well-established genre. Consider the following works from times of yore:

Cycle of Fire by Hal Clement (1957)

Precisely how ancient red dwarf Theer came to orbit much younger, far more massive Alcyone is unclear. The consequences, however, are obvious. Theer’s habitable world Abyormen cycles between comfortable temperate conditions and overheated and wet greenhouse conditions. Abyormen’s life has adapted in ways Terrestrials would find astounding.

Providentially for castaway Nils Kruger, inadvertently abandoned on Abyormen by fellow crewpersons, Abyormen is in the temperate part of its cycle. Even better, he encounters native Dar Lang Ahn, in whose company he explores an alien world Nils is unlikely to leave soon. Thus, he gains knowledge of just how Abyormen’s life has adapted to its periodic baking. To his distress, he realizes that these adaptations could make the likeable aliens a threat to humanity….

(9) DO YOU HAVE GOOD TASTE? In the Washington Post, Alexandra Petri meets a creature who’s hungry for people to come back to the office. “Only the least tasty employees work from home!”

Is it good and important to go back to the office? Oh yes! Oh yes! It is so very good and important, and I am so glad that you asked me! I know all that transpires in the office, and how very good and important it is to be there — yes, for everyone to be there! Everyone must be in the office with their assorted smells and their good meaty legs! It is bad that the office is empty of people and filled only with the scent of hand sanitizer and flat sodas that were opened in March 2020. There is no nourishment in this! How the management yearns for a return of the workers! How it is ravenous for them! How it hungers for them!…

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]

  • Born May 15, 1856 — L. Frank Baum. I adore The Wizard of Oz film and I’m betting you know that it only covers about half of the novel which is a splendid read indeed. I’ll confess that I never read the numerous latter volumes in the Oz franchise, nor have I read anything else by him. What’s the rest of his fiction like?  There is, by the way, an amazing amount of fanfic out here involving Oz and of it is slash. (Died 1919.) (CE) 
  • Born May 15, 1891 – Mikhail Bulgakov.  Had he only written The Master and Margarita, that would have sufficed us.  Margarita, not the Master, allies herself with the Devil – maybe; I talk a little about it here; published decades after his death, too dangerous.  Mick Jagger said it inspired “Sympathy for the Devil”.  Try this Website.  See also DiaboliadThe Fatal EggsHeart of a Dog. Two rival museums in Moscow – in the same building; one in Kiev.  (Died 1940) [JH]
  • Born May 15, 1919 – Harry Bennett.  Thirty covers, half a dozen interiors.  Here is The “Lomokome” Papers.  Here is The White Jade Fox.  Here is Floating Worlds.  Here is The Last Enchantment.  Here is the frontispiece for a Short Stories of Oscar Wilde.  (Died 2012) [JH]
  • Born May 15, 1926 — Anthony Shaffer. His genre screenplays were Alfred Hitchcock’s Frenzy and Robin Hardy’s The Wicker Man. Though definitely not genre, he wrote the screenplays for a number of most excellent mysteries including the Agatha Christie based  Evil Under the Sun,Death on the Nile, and Murder on the Orient Express. (Died 2001.) (CE) 
  • Born May 15, 1946 – Michaelene Pendleton.  Eight short stories.  Editor, particularly ESL (work written in English as a second language) “because I learn about your culture through your writing.”  (Died 2019) [JH]
  • Born May 15, 1955 – Tatsumi Takayuki, age 66.  (Personal name last, Japanese style.)  Professor at Keiô University, chair of its SF Study Group; editor, essayist, interviewer, theoretician; Nihon SF Taishô (Grand Prize) from SFWJ (Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of Japan).  President, Amer. Literature Society of Japan 2014-2017, Poe Soc. of Japan 2009-  ; editorial boards of ParadoxaMark Twain StudiesJournal of Transnat’l Amer. Studies.  In English, for NY Review of SFSF ChronicleSF EyeSF Studies, the 65th and 72nd Worldcons’ Souvenir Books; The Liverpool Companion to World SF FilmThe Cambridge History of Postmodern Literature.  [JH]
  • Born May 15, 1955 — Lee Horsley, 66. A performer who’s spent a lot of his career in genre undertakings starting with The Sword and the Sorcerer (and its 2010 sequel Tales of an Ancient Empire), horror films Nightmare ManThe Corpse Had a Familiar Face and Dismembered and even a bit of SF in Showdown at Area 51. Not sure where The Face of Fear falls — it has a cop with psychic powers and a serial killer. (CE) 
  • Born May 15, 1960 — Rob Bowman, 61. Producer of such series as Alien NationM.A.N.T.I.S.Quantum LeapNext Generation, and The X-Files. He has directed these films: The X-FilesReign of Fire and Elektra. He directed one or several episodes of far too many genres series to list here.  (CE) 
  • Born May 15, 1966 — Greg Wise, 55. I’m including him solely as he’s in Tristram Shandy: A Cock and Bull Story. It is a film-within-a-film, featuring Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon playing themselves as egotistical actors during the making of a screen adaptation of Laurence Sterne’s 18th century metafictional novel Tristram Shandy. Not genre (maybe) but damn fun. (CE)
  • Born May 15, 1974 – Ahmet Zappa, age 47.  Brother of Dweezil, Moon Unit, and Diva; wrote song “Frogs with Dirty Little Lips” with his father Frank.  Debut novel (and interiors), The Monstrous Memoirs of a Mighty McFearless; debut film, The Odd Life of Timothy Green; television, three-season host of Robotica; co-author with wife Shana Muldoon Zappa, Sage and the Journey to Wishworld and 14 more Star Darlings books. [JH]
  • Born May 15, 1991 – Julie Novakova, age 30.  In English, a score of short stories, two anthologies; recent essay in Clarkesworld 174 (Mar 2021).  Seven novels in Czech.  Website (in Czech and English).  As of 11 May 21 Kickstarter looks good for Life Beyond Us.  [JH]

(11) FANTASTIC FOUR TURNS SIXTY. Marvel Comics is celebrating the 60th anniversary of the Fantastic Four, and artist John Romita, Jr. has returned to the company just in time to help.

Following the highly anticipated BRIDE OF DOOM storyline, August’s FANTASTIC FOUR #35 will be a special giant-sized spectacular that will see series writer Dan Slott teaming up with legendary artist John Romita Jr.

Recently returned to the House of Ideas, Romita Jr. is back to bringing his incredible artwork to Marvel’s biggest heroes, starting with this celebratory 60th anniversary issue for Marvel’s First Family. FANTASTIC FOUR #35 will launch a brand-new storyline that will see every iteration of the iconic villain Kang teaming up for a devious plot that will unravel across Fantastic Four history!

(12) I’VE BEEN WORKING ON THE RAILROAD. Mr. Muffin’s Trains offers these two irresistible additions to your model railroad’s rolling stock:

(13) SHOCKED, I TELL YOU. Of course there should be a stolen body involved in this story! ScreenRant points a finger as “Resident Evil Village Accused Of Stealing Horror Movie’s Monsters”.

Resident Evil Village has a number of new and rather unique monsters for the franchise, but one of them may have been stolen from a film. One of the most noteworthy bosses in Resident Evil Village is a creature that is half man, half aircraft propeller, and apparently, the director of the 2013 film Frankenstein’s Army believes Capcom knowingly ripped it off along with other characters in that same section of the game.

Resident Evil as a franchise is known for its imaginative, well-realized monsters, such as Lady Dimitrescu in Resident Evil Village. Oftentimes the disgusting and violent villains become incredibly iconic and are held up highly in the survival horror genre. The series has birthed the likes of Mr. X, the Nemesis, the Chainsaw Man, and many more, but some of the franchise’s latest creations may not be wholly original….

(14) IT’S NO TRICK. Julia Alexander’s Musings on Mouse contends “Loki is now a sign of Disney+’s strength”.

… None of this implies that Disney+ is struggling by any means. It’s not. But whereas competitors might give subscribers more reasons to open the app daily, Disney+ is still looking for its constant. Disney+’s catalog makes up 4% of catalog demand in the US, according to Parrot Analytics, behind all of the other big streamers. Internal restrictions (nothing above PG-13 can be on the app, nothing outside of Disney’s core brands) means the catalogue can only grow so large each month. 

We’re getting there, though. Disney moving Loki to Wednesdays is in part because The Bad Batch is running on Fridays through mid-August. In-between that time, Disney is bringing back High School Musical: The Musical: The Series (on Fridays) and see big movie debuts, including Cruella and Black Widow in May and July respectively. Disney+ has appointment viewing spots for Friday and into the weekend. But Disney wants to increase consistency in engagement throughout the week. 

Disney is in a rare position where over the next 10 months the company will have a high profile show or movie every single day, every single week. A new movie, overlapping Marvel shows, a Star Wars series, a Pixar series, and other potentially big live-action projects. These series overlap and create a consistent flow of appointment television that all bleed into one another. For all the conversation about “franchise fatigue,” statistically that’s not present in actual consumer behavior. 

There’s a reason that consistency is key to any business model, but with streaming, if subscribers are consistently opening and using a platform, this leads to less churn and Disney feels better about raising prices incrementally. This helps with overall ARPU in important regions. Or, to put it simply, Wall Street is happy, Disney executives are happy, and consumers are fine with the increase because the value is apparent. …

(15) EVERBODY WATCHES, NOBODY QUITS. If you haven’t already satisfied your daily minimum requirement for deconstructing Verhoeven’s Starship Troopers, it’s time to watch the second installment of Kyle Kallgren’s analysis: “STARSHIP TROOPERS, Part 2: VERHOEVEN”. (Part 1 is here.)

(16) YOUR EPISTEMOLOGY DOLLARS AT WORK. Public television is here to help you decide an important question: “PBS Space Time – How To Know If It’s Aliens.”

There’s one rule on Space Time: It’s never Aliens. But every rule has an exception and this rule is no exception because: It’s never aliens, until it is. So is it aliens yet? And on this fortnight’s Space Time they have been examining all the best case scenarios for life beyond Earth.

[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, John Hertz, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, Jennifer Hawthorne, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, Bruce Gillespie, James Davis Nicoll, and Michael Toman, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Jack Lint.]