Pixel Scroll 8/19/21 A Scroll Dinner In Pixelson

(1) OUT OF KABUL. Allyson Reneau, who first met the girls through her work on the board of directors for Explore Mars, helped extract the “Afghan Girls Robotic Team, a group of girls ages 16-18 who have overcome hardship in order to pursue their love of engineering and robotics in Afghanistan.” “Oklahoma mom helps rescue 10 girls on Afghanistan’s robotics team” at Today.

…But it wasn’t as simple as organizing documents and the girls getting on the plane.

“They were in a sea of chaos with eight million people and a city halfway around the world,” Reneau told TODAY, adding that unrest in Kabul worked against the effort. “A lot of the work I’ve done with the embassy has been all night, and I have to work all day. It’s been exhausting.”

“It’s very narrow window of opportunity,” she said of the effort. “I knew that if I didn’t run through that door now — it’s now or never. Sometimes you only get one chance.”

After a cancelled flight, ten girls from the team were successfully evacuated.

“We were able to get them on the U.S. military side (of the airport), so they were protected over there waiting (and) the next text I got was that they were airborne,” Reneau said….

(2) MUCH IS NOT KNOWN. Historian Adrian Goldsworthy also writes books set in the Roman empire. “The Big Idea: Adrian Goldsworthy” at Whatever talks about the challenges.

The Big Idea behind The Fort is trying to understand what the world was like at the beginning of the second century. In my day job I write non fiction history books, and have been studying the Roman empire and the Roman army for all my adult life. So writing a novel in that setting gives me a chance to work out what I have learned from all this about life at the time and then push the evidence as far as it will go. There is so much that we do not know about the ancient world, which means that in a novel you have to imagine and invent to make the world of the story complete and convincing.  

(3) FOUNDATION. Apple TV+ will stream Foundation beginning September 24. Here’s the new trailer.

The fate of an entire galaxy rests on the beliefs of Dr. Hari Seldon (Jared Harris). Will his conviction save humanity or doom it? Based on the award-winning novels by Isaac Asimov, Foundation chronicles a band of exiles on their monumental journey to save humanity and rebuild civilization amid the fall of the Galactic Empire.

(4) BEGINNINGS. Lightspeed Magazine’s Author Spotlight shines on Tobi Ogundiran, whose story “The Tale of Jaja and Canti” is in the new issue.

How did you get into writing genre fiction?

Growing up in Nigeria, I constantly heard tales which would ordinarily seem too far-fetched to be true. But they were true. And this helped shape my understanding of the world, in that the lens through which you view life affects how you experience it. This, coupled with the fact that as a teen I read so much Stephen King and Harry Potter, I guess it was inevitable that when I finally decided to put pen to paper, to craft my own stories, the stories that came were fantastic in nature. The realization that what I wrote was genre only came later.

(5) BRADBURY 100 LIVE THIS WEEKEND. Phil Nichols invites Bradbury fans to view Bradbury 100 LIVE on Saturday, August 21:

On the eve of the 101st anniversary of the birth of Ray Bradbury, Phil Nichols invites you to a livestream of Bradbury 100.

WATCH the livestream, in the Ray Bradbury Fan Club Facebook group, or on the Bradbury 100 Facebook page.

OR:

JOIN IN the discussion, by joining the Zoom meeting (scroll down for Zoom link).

Phil will be joined by writer Steven Paul Leiva, who was the guest on the very first episode of the Bradbury 100 podcast. Steven, you may recall, was the driving force behind “Ray Bradbury Week” in Los Angeles in 2010, when Ray was 90 years old.

The livestream will include some never-before-seen footage from Ray’s 90th birthday party.

Here is the Zoom link.

(6) MS. A year from today the “J.R.R. Tolkien: The Art of the Manuscript” exhibit opens at the Raynor Memorial Libraries at Marquette University. It will run from August 19-December 12, 2022.

Marquette University’s Raynor Memorial Libraries and the Haggerty Museum of Art are pleased to announce an upcoming exhibition of manuscripts from the celebrated author and artist J. R. R. Tolkien (1892-1973), best known for his literary classics The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings.

The exhibition considers Tolkien’s work through the lens of manuscripts, both in terms of the materials he studied as a medieval philologist and the manuscripts he created while developing his legendarium. Professor Tolkien was deeply immersed in the complexities of manuscripts, and this exhibition will illustrate how different aspects of the manuscript tradition found expression within Tolkien’s scholarly life and in his creative writing.

The foundation for this exhibition is Marquette University’s extensive collection of Tolkien manuscripts housed within the library’s Department of Special Collections and University Archives; but it will also include items borrowed from other repositories, including a significant number of Tolkien manuscripts and artwork from the Bodleian Libraries at the University of Oxford.

The exhibition will include over 100 items, many of which have not been exhibited or published.

Additional details are available in a brief FAQ. More information will be made available as the exhibition’s opening approaches!

(7) CHARACTERS IN PAIN. Sarah Chorn draws on personal experience to offer “Ten tips for writing believable pain” at Bookworm Blues.

2. Pain will change your mood. 

When I’m hurting really bad, my entire neighborhood probably knows to stay away from me. Pain tends to change moods, and everyone is different. Some people get really quiet and withdrawn. Some people get angry. I seem to become an absolutely intoxicating blend of both of those. Some people try to power through it by being overly happy. Some get depressed. Regardless, if your character hurts, they will have an altered mood, at least during the most intense part of their pain. Depending on who you are writing, they’ll react differently. I don’t know many people who get hurt, and then keep on going with their mood completely unaffected. Even if they act unaffected, inside, they’re probably screaming, and think of the energy it takes to hide that scream.

The thing to remember is, pain is going to take up part of your headspace. If you had your whole mind focused on defeating the emperor, and then you take an arrow to the shoulder, now 40% of your thoughts are going to be on defeating the emperor, and 60% are going to be focused on the pain you are feeling (Or something. You get the point.). Pain takes up space. It just does. Don’t think of it as something you feel. Think of pain as an uninvited guest, and now you have to make room for it because, depending on the injury and the timeline to healing (if there is a “healing”), that guest isn’t going anywhere. You have to feed your guest. Pain feeds on energy, and energy impacts mood. So keep that in mind when you write your injured character.

(8) MAKE ROOM! In the latest Rite Gud podcast, Raquel S. Benedict is joined by MK Anderson to discuss “This Is My Hole: On Negative Space and Leaving Room for the Reader”.

A story is a type of conversation with the reader. If you don’t leave room for the reader to speak, you’re a terrible conversationalist. This room, this essential emptiness, is called negative space. In this episode of Rite Gud, we discuss why the words you don’t write are just as important as the words you do. 

(9) BANKS ROBBERY. Matt Bell lists his favorite sf and fantasy novels where characters steal things in “Eight Science Fiction and Fantasy Heist Novels” at CrimeReads. One of them is —

Consider Phlebas by Iain M. Banks

In one of the early set pieces of Consider Phlebas, Horza is rescued/captured by the pirate crew of the Clear Air Turbulence (one of Banks’ fantastically named Culture ships), who are on their way to the planet Marjoin to rob the Temple of Light, a target described by the ship’s captain as easy in, easy out: “According to him,” one pirate says, “it’s full of priests and treasure; we shoot the former and grab the latter.” It’s a simple plan, but even the best-laid plans usually go sideways in heist narratives, and this one is no different: the Marjoin monks turn out to be heavily armed, and their temple is a trap made entirely of reflective surfaces that bounce the pirates’ lasers back at them—which means the pirates get to do very little pillaging and a lot of running for their lives.

(10) MEMORY LANE.

  • 1958 – Sixty-three years ago in the August issue of The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, Robert Heinlein’s  Have Spacesuit – Will Travel was first published. (Anthony Boucher will announce his departure as editor in this issue.) The cover illustration is for this novel. Charles Scribner’s Sons will publish it in hardcover the next month. It was nominated at Detention for a Hugo, the year Blish’s A Case of Conscience won. It would be nominated for BSFA’s Fiftieth Anniversary Award: Best Novel of 1958 but that Award instead would go to Brian Aldiss’ Non-Stop.

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born August 19, 1893 Hans Waldemar Wessolowski. An artist best remembered for his cover art for pulp magazines like Amazing StoriesAstounding StoriesClues and Strange Tales.  Wesso was the name most commonly cited wherever his art is given credit. Wesso painted all 34 covers of the Clayton Magazines Astounding Stories from January 1930 to March 1933. He was nominated for a Retro Hugo for Best Professional Artist at Loncon 3. (Died 1947.)
  • Born August 19, 1921 Gene Roddenberry. Oh, you know who he is. But did you know he wrote a lot of scripts for Have Gun – Will Travel? Indeed his script for the show, “Helen of Abajinian” would win the Writer’s Guild of America award for Best Teleplay in 1958. And yes, he would share a Hugo for Star Trek’s  “The City on the Edge of Forever” episode which was awarded at Baycon. (Died 1991.)
  • Born August 19, 1928 Richard N. Farmer. Author of Islandia Revisited, a sequel to Austin Tappan Wright’s Islandia. No idea it was if authorized. It’s not in print in either print or digital editions currently. Anyone here read it? (Died 1987.)
  • Born August 19, 1930 D.G. Compton, 91. SWFA Author Emeritus whose The Steel Crocodile was nominated for the Nebula Award. The Unsleeping EyeThe Continuous Katherine Mortenhoe in the U.K., was filmed as Death Watch which the Audience Reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes actually like giving it a 60% rating. His two Alec Jordan near future police stories are superb. He recently was selected for the Cordwainer Smith Rediscovery Award.
  • Born August 19, 1938 Diana Muldaur, 83. She appeared in the original series in two episodes, first in “Return to Tomorrow” as Dr. Ann Mulhall / Thalassa and then in then in “Is There in Truth No Beauty?”  as Dr. Miranda Jones. She, of course, is up again in Next Gen as Dr. Katherine Pulaski.  She voiced  Dr. Leslie Thompkins in that animated Batman series as well. 
  • Born August 19, 1950 Jill St. John, 71. She’s best remembered as Tiffany Case, the Bond girl in  Diamonds Are Forever. She was the first American to play a Bond girl. She shows in The Batman in “Smack in the Middle” and “Hi Diddle Riddle” as Molly. And she played Jennifer Holmes in the 1960 film version of The Lost World. Even more fascinatingly she’s one of the uncredited dancers on Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In
  • Born August 19, 1950 Mary Doria Russell, 71. The Sparrow series, The Sparrow and its sequel Children of God, are awesome. The Sparrow won the Clarke, BSFA, and Tiptree Awards, and it was the reason she won the Astounding Award for Best New Writer. Though not genre, Doc and its sequel Epitaph are mysteries using the historic character of Doc Holliday. 
  • Born August 19, 1952 Jonathan Frakes, 69. Best known for his portrayal of Commander William T. Riker in Next Gen and I’m fond of his voicing David Xanatos on the Gargoyles series which had at least five Trek actors doing voice work. Interesting bit of trivia: For a time in the Seventies, he worked for Marvel Comics at Cons as Captain America. He has directed more than seventy television episodes, including episodes of myriad Trek series, Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.LeverageThe Librarians and The Orville. 

(12) MOSLEY’S THING. Renowned storyteller Walter Mosley, known for his definitive and bestselling international work in mystery and crime fiction, will be writing a six-issue series of The Thing for Marvel in November 2021.

Written by Mosley and with art by Tom Reilly (X-Men: Marvels Snapshots), the story will range from the urban sprawl of the alleys of Manhattan to the furthest reaches of the cosmos itself. In THE THING, a lonely evening and a chance encounter (or is it?) sends Ben Grimm embarking on a sojourn that will have him confronting—and battling—figures both old and new.

 (13) A COMIC BOOK LIKE YOU’VE NEVER SEEN. Atlas Obscura shows off “The 36-Pound Comic Scrapbook That Chronicles the Great Depression”. This unusual artifact—now housed at the Columbia University Libraries—is part comic collection, part journal of life in the 1930s. 

DEAR FRIENDS OF MINE, Please write a line / In this little Wash Tubbs book of mine. / Help me Keep you in my Mind”

So begins the inscription on the spine of a hulking tome that was once a source of idle amusement for clients at the Bungalow, a barbershop in Fredonia, Kansas. In 1928, the barber, I.A. Persinger, began compiling this collection of “Wash Tubbs” comics, a well-loved daily newspaper strip by artist Roy Crane, whose adventure graphics popularized the visual sound effects—Bam! Pow!—we know so well today. Soon, though, the scrapbook expanded with handwritten insights from Persinger and his customers on life during the Great Depression….

(14) ONLINE PUPPETRY EVENT. There’s a charge to participate in the 2nd Virtual National Capital Puppetry Festival happening from August 19-22, but the trailer is free and fun.

(15) PIECES OF EIGHT. Octothorpe episode 38 is “How the Sausage is Made”, which in lesser hands might be a great argument for dietary restrictions. John Coxon, Alison Scott, and Liz Batty say —

We record around a dining room table using a single mic while our partners and friends were in a brewery without us. As a consequence, it’s a snappy episode this week…

(16) HE-MAN. Netflix dropped a trailer for the new series of “He-Man and the Masters of the Universe”.

He-Man and his powerful friends learn what it means to be a hero while battling the evil forces of Skeletor and his minions.

(17) ETERNALS VIGILANCE. Marvel Studios promises this is the Eternals Final Trailer. I’m going to hold them to it.

(18) VIDEO OF THE DAY. The King of Random explains why it’s really hard to create a Rube Goldberg machine!

[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, Paul Weimer, R.S. Benedict, John Coxon, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, Michael Toman, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to contributing editor of the day Jon Meltzer.]

Pixel Scroll 2/20/21 (I’m Picking Up) Good Vibraniums

(1) A CELEBRATION. N. K. Jemisin and Walter Mosley will be among the participants in “A Celebration of Octavia E. Butler”, a live virtual event at Symphony Space on February 24 starting at 7 p.m. (Eastern). Tickets sold at the link.

Actors and authors come together for an evening of readings and conversation to celebrate the work of the visionary author whose Afrofuturistic feminist novels and short fiction have become even more poignant since her death. Her award-winning novels, including Parable of the SowerKindredDawn, and Wild Seed, have influenced a generation of writers. Playwright Branden Jacobs-Jenkins (An Octoroon) will lead a discussion with authors N. K. Jemisin (How Long ’til Black Future Month?), Walter Mosley (The Awkward Black Man), and Imani Perry (Breathe: A Letter to My Sons); and actors Yetide Badaki (American Gods) and Adepero Oduye (When They See Us) will read selections from Butler’s prolific body of work.

Audience members will be invited to join the conversation with questions for the panelists.

(2) RED PLANET CLOSEUP. EiderFox Documentaries takes the NASA footage and gives you “Mars In 4K”.

A world first. New footage from Mars rendered in stunning 4K resolution. We also talk about the cameras on board the Martian rovers and how we made the video. The cameras on board the rovers were the height of technology when the respective missions launched. A question often asked is: ‘Why don’t we actually have live video from Mars?’ Although the cameras are high quality, the rate at which the rovers can send data back to earth is the biggest challenge. Curiosity can only send data directly back to earth at 32 kilo-bits per second. Instead, when the rover can connect to the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, we get more favourable speeds of 2 Megabytes per second. However, this link is only available for about 8 minutes each Sol, or Martian day. As you would expect, sending HD video at these speeds would take a long long time. As nothing really moves on Mars, it makes more sense to take and send back images.

(3) WORLDCON FOLKS. Ty Schalter says he doesn’t know anything about the Worldcon, but his questions are good: “Worldcon vs. The World”. (Just the same it brings to mind a line from Field of Dreams: “Oh! You’re from the Sixties! There’s no room for you here in the future!”)

…How many of the people reading, writing, editing and publishing the state of the art in genre fiction also fly out to Worldcon every year? How many of the people who go to Worldcon every year are reading, say, FIYAH Magazine— the kind of bold, original, cutting-edge fantastic literature that’s currently earning Hugo Award nominations and wins?

I’m genuinely asking, because remember: I don’t know what I’m talking about. But from the outside, it sure looks like The SFF Community and Worldcon Folks are two pretty disparate groups of people, who don’t necessarily care for or value each other a whole lot.

I see it when SFF Twitter explodes with shock and outrage every time Worldcon steps on another rake— how did it happen again?! I see it every time Worldcon Folks are mystified that doing things the way they’ve always done them is now not just insufficient but immoral— and who are these people yelling at us, anyway?!

I see it every time I go to church.

Wait, church? Yes, at church — and in family businesses, and on non-profit boards. In Chambers of Commerce and Kiwanis clubs. In all the gray-haired, tuxedoed, former cultural revolutionaries of the Rock And Roll Hall of Fame harrumphing about letting N.W.A. in their storied institution. In every walk of life, everywhere, there are cultural and social organizations caught in an existential battle of whether to preserve their traditions or their values.

As a white guy turning 40 this year, I have an appreciation for the SFF of the 20th century and its associated Baby Boomer fans, slans, SMOFs, etc. In many ways, they’re who I grew up aspiring to be. But now that I’m grown, I can see the cultural blind spots and moral holes in the kind of let’s-just-us-smart-people-get-on-a-rocket-and-let-all-the-dumb-people-die Visions of A Better Future that still entice prominent members of the middle-aged-and-up set….

(4) HUGO DYNAMICS. Eric Flint’s Facebook comments in a discussion about Baen’s Bar include his views about the Hugo Awards and the Sad Puppies slates.

(5) AURORA AWARDS ELIGIBILITY. The Canadian Science Fiction & Fantasy Association is compiling its eligibility lists. Do you know of  work that belongs there? More information at their website.

Just a quick reminder that the Aurora Award Eligibility Lists for works done by Canadians in 2020 are open and awaiting your submissions. The Eligibility Lists will close on February 28th at 11:59 EST.  If you have created, published, read, or know of works or activities that should be on our lists please assist us and submit them. Help us find all the fantastic work done by Canadians in 2020! All works should be submitted to the eligibility lists on our website at www.prixaurorawards.ca 

(6) BE LARRY’S GOOGLE MONKEY. Larry Correia is crowdsourcing the next step in his retaliation against the Worldcon for DisCon III disinviting Toni Weisskopf as a guest of honor. Camestros Felapton has the screencap in his post “More Larry Nonsense”. Correia’s public call says in part —

… I need examples of writers/editors/fans who WorldCon is perfectly comfortable with, and their shitty posts, tweets, memes, of things that aren’t “inclusive”. (advocating violence, shooting cops, killing Trump, celebrating Rush’s death, putting us in reeducation camps, whatever. If it makes you feel not included, I’d like to know)
If you don’t have a screen cap but are going from memory, that’s fine…. 

(7) HORRIBLE FAN BEHAVIOR. Examples of bad behavior in the sff community aren’t hard to come by. Harlan Ellison’s recitation of fannish awfulness, “Xenogenesis,” was probably written off the top of his head. It originated as his 1984 Westercon GoH speech. The Internet Archive has a copy in the transcript of an Asimov’s issue — https://archive.org/stream/Asimovs_v14n08_1990-08/Asimovs_v14n08_1990-08_djvu.txt

Ellison precedes his dossier of criminal acts and psychopathic behavior with this introduction:

… In biology there is a phenomenon known as xenogenesis. It is a pathological state in which the child does not resemble the parent. You may remember a fairly grisly 1975 film by my pal Larry Cohen titled It’s Alive! in which a fanged and taloned baby gnaws its way out of its mother’s womb and slaughters the attending nurses and gynecologist in the delivery room and then leaps straight up through a skylight, smashes out, and for the duration of the film crawls in and out of the frame ripping people’s throats.

Its natural father is a CPA or something similar. Most CPA’s do not, other than symbolically, have fangs and talons. Xenogenesis.

In the subculture of science fiction literature and its umbilically attached aficionados, we have the manifestation of a symbiotic relationship in which the behavior of the children, that is, the fans, does not resemble the noble ideals set forth in the writings and pronouncements of the parents, the writers. For all its apocalyptic doomsaying, its frequent pointing with alarm, its gardyloos of caution, the literature of imagination has ever and always promoted an ethic of good manners and kindness via its viewpoint characters.

The ones we are asked to relate to, in sf and fantasy, the ones we are urged to see as the Good Folks, are usually the ones who say excuse me and thank you, ma’am.

The most efficient narrative shorthand to explain why a particular character is the one struck by cosmic lightning or masticated by some nameless Lovecraftian horror is to paint that character as rude, insensitive, paralogical or slovenly.

Through this free-floating auctorial trope, the canon has promulgated as salutary an image of mannerliness, rectitude and humanism. The smart alecks, slugs, slimeworts and snipers of the universe in these fables unfailingly reap a terrible comeuppance.

That is the attitude of the parents, for the most part.

Yet the children of this ongoing education, the fans who incorporate the canon as a significant part of their world-view, frequently demonstrate a cruelty that would, in the fiction, bring them a reward of Job-like awfulness….

(8) WHO KNEW? Science Sensei regales fans with “40 Times Science Fiction Was Wrong About Predicted Future Events”. Connie Willis’ emcee routines about sf predictions are much funnier, admittedly.

… No matter how accurate some writers are about the future, they are victims of the time they live in. It’s not Verne’s fault that he wrote his books in the 1800s and lacked the knowledge we have today. Yet this is what happens when you write about the future. Those future people can look back to see how accurate you were. Verne is one of many amazing writers who were both right and wrong about his future predictions. Yet some were completely wrong, and this involves far more than books. That is what our article is about, the science fiction out there that ended up getting the future very wrong. Enjoy!

25. Back to the Future Part II (Food Hydrators In 2015)

The original Back to the Future, starring Christopher Lloyd and Michael J. Fox came out in 1985. The movies were all released within 5 years in real-time but they had to always return to the year of the original film, 1985. Instead of the past, the second film focused on the future

In this film, we see a Future 2015, where they have an entire world we almost wish was real. One of the impressive futuristic inventions in the film was a Food Hydrator by Black & Decker. Any food you wanted could be made with it, cooked quickly and ready to go in seconds. We never saw this in 2015, and we’re still upset about it!

(9) THAT JOB IS HELLA HARD. David Gerrold comments on “What Would It Take to Actually Settle an Alien World?” and his writing generally in a new installment of Geek’s Guide to the Galaxy podcast at WIRED.

David Gerrold is the author of dozens of science fiction books, including The Martian Child and The Man Who Folded Himself. His new novel Hella, about a low-gravity planet inhabited by dinosaur-like aliens, was inspired by the 2011 TV series Terra Nova.

“The worldbuilding that they did was very interesting, very exciting, but because I was frustrated that they didn’t go in the direction I wanted to go, I was thinking, ‘Let me do a story where I can actually tackle the worldbuilding problems,’” Gerrold says in Episode 454 of the Geek’s Guide to the Galaxy podcast.

Hella goes into enormous detail about the logistics of settling an alien world, and grapples with questions like: Would it be safe for us to eat alien proteins? Would it be safe for us to breathe alien germs? What effect would plants and animals from Earth have on an alien ecology? It’s a far cry from many science fiction stories which assume that alien planets would be pretty much like Earth. “My theory is that there are no Earthlike planets, there’s just lazy writers,” Gerrold says….

(10) THE WORLD SF MAKES. Sherryl Vint’s Science Fiction is being released by MIT Press this month.

Summary

How science fiction has been a tool for understanding and living through rapid technological change.

…After a brief overview of the genre’s origins, science fiction authority Sherryl Vint considers how and why contemporary science fiction is changing. She explores anxieties in current science fiction over such key sites of technological innovation as artificial intelligence, genomic research and commodified biomedicine, and climate change. Connecting science fiction with speculative design and futurology in the corporate world, she argues that science fiction does not merely reflect these trends, but has a role in directing them.

(11) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

  • February 20, 1955  — On this day in 1955, Tarantula premiered. It was produced by William Alland, directed by Jack Arnold. It stars John Agar, Mara Corday, and Leo G. Carroll. The screenplay by Robert M. Fresco and Martin Berkeley was based on a story by Arnold, which was in turn was based on by Fresco’s script for the Science Fiction Theatre “No Food for Thought” episode  which was also directed by Arnold.  It was a box office success earning more than a million dollars in its first month of release. Critics at the time liked it and even current audiences at Rotten Tomatoes gives at a sterling 92% rating. You can watch it here. (CE)

(12) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]

  • Born February 20, 1925 Robert Altman. I’m going to argue that his very first film in 1947, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, based off the James Thurber short story of the same name, is genre given its premise. Some twenty five years later Images was a full-blown horror film. And of course Popeye is pure comic literature at its very best. (Died 2006.) (CE)
  • Born February 20, 1926 Richard  Matheson. Best known for I Am Legend which has been adapted for the screen four times, as well as the film Somewhere In Time for which he wrote the screenplay based on his novel Bid Time Return. Seven of his novels have been adapted into films. In addition, he  wrote sixteen episodes of The Twilight Zone including “Nightmare at 20,000 Feet” and “Steel”. The former episode of course has William Shatner in it. (Died 2013.)  (CE) 
  • Born February 20, 1926 – Pierre Boulle.  For us, Planet of the Apes and eight more novels, thirty shorter stories; famous for The Bridge on the River Kwai; a dozen other novels.  Knight of the Legion of Honor, Croix de GuerreMédaille de la Resistance, earned during World War II.   (Died 1994) [JH]
  • Born February 20, 1926 – Ed Clinton.  A score of short stories (some as Anthony More).  “Idea Man” essay in the Jan 44 Diablerie.  Review & Comments Editor for Rhodomagnetic Digest.  (Died 2006) [JH]
  • Born February 20, 1943 – Dan Goodman.  Active fan in New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Minneapolis.  Literate, articulate, wry.  Edited and I believe named the Minn-StF clubzine Einblatt.  For a while in The Cult, to which the Fancyclopedia III article hardly does justice, but see Hamlet Act II scene 2 (Folger Shakespeare line 555).  In Lofgeornost at least as recently as 2014.  A story in Tales of the Unanticipated.  A note by me here.  (Died 2020) [JH]
  • Born February 20, 1943 – Suford Lewis, F.N., age 78.  Active in the LASFS (L.A. Science Fantasy Soc.); then NESFA (New England SF Ass’n): a Founding Fellow (service; first year’s Fellow of NESFA awards, 1976), President, chaired Boskone 10, co-chaired B44, edited six Bujold books for NESFA Press, also the excellent Noreascon Two Memory Book (post-con; 38th Worldcon).  Ran the Retrospective-Hugo ceremony for L.A.con III (42nd), the Masquerade (our on-stage costume competition) for Noreascon Three (47th).  Co-ordinated and actually brought into being Bruce Pelz’ Fantasy Showcase Tarot Deck, herself drawing Strength (! – Major Arcana VIII; a dozen-year project; see all the images and BP’s introduction here, PDF), and exhibiting all the original artwork at N2.  Fan Guest of Honor at Windycon VI (with husband Tony Lewis).  That ain’t the half of it.  Big Heart (our highest service award).  [JH]
  • Born February 20, 1943 Diana Paxson, 78. Did you know she’s a founder of the Society for Creative Anachronism? Well she is. Genre wise, she’s best known for her Westria novels, and the later books in the Avalon series, which she first co-wrote with Marion Zimmer Bradley, then – after Bradley’s death, took over sole authorship of. All of her novels are heavily colored with paganism — sometimes it works for me, sometimes it doesn’t. I like her Wodan’s Children series more than the Avalon material. (CE)
  • Born February 20, 1954 Anthony Head, 67. Perhaps best known as as Librarian and Watcher Rupert Giles in Buffy the Vampire Slayer, he also made an impressive Uther Pendragon in Merlin. He also shows up in Repo! The Genetic Operaas Nathan Wallace aka the Repo Man, in Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance as Benedict, and in the awesomely great Batman: Gotham by Gaslight voicing Alfred Pennyworth. (CE)
  • Born February 20, 1964 – Tracey Rolfe, age 57.  Half a dozen novels, as many shorter stories.  Clarion South 2004 (see her among other graduates in Andromeda Spaceways 10).  “How do you deal with writer’s block?” ‘I usually take my dog out for a walk.’ [JH]
  • Born February 20, 1979 Brian James Freeman, 42. Horror author. Novels to date are Blue November StormsThis Painted Darkness and Black Fire (as James Kidman). He’s also done The Illustrated Stephen King Trivia Book (superbly done) which he co-authored with Bev Vincent and which is illustrated by Glenn Chadbourne. He publishes limited edition books here. (CE) 
  • Born February 20, 1989 – Nathália Suellen, age 32.  Digital artist and commercial illustrator.  A score of covers for us, but certainty is elusive at borders.  Here is Above.  Here is Unhinged.  Here is The Gathering Dark (U.K. title).  Here is Henry, the Gaoler.  Here is a self-portrait.  [JH]

(13) EMOTIONAL ROBOTS. On March 10, Writers Bloc presents “Nobel Laureate Kazuo Ishiguro with Westworld’s Lisa Joy”. Book purchase required for access to the livestream.

Kazuo Ishiguro, winner of the 2017 Nobel Prize in Literature, seduces us with his storytelling. His novels (The Remains of the DayNever Let Me Go; and others) draw us in and we are powerless to leave the page. His novels are deceptive–while he lulls us into his gorgeous and straightforward prose, he presents us with profound observations of human behavior, and explorations of love, duty, and identity. In his new novel, Klara and the Sun, Ishiguro introduces us to Klara, an artificial object who watches the world from her perch in a shop. She watches the comings and goings of those who enter the shop, and those who merely pass by. She hopes that someone will choose her. and that she can be loved. Magnificent.

In conversation with Lisa Joy. Lisa Joy is one of the creators and writers of the acclaimed HBO series, Westworld. A dystopic genre-bending series, Westworld explores the fraught relationship between humans and human-looking robots at an amusement park. What happens when artificial intelligence interferes with the people who employ them? What happens when artificial intelligence breaks its own boundaries and those robots start to feel, to love, to cause harm? Westworld has won countless prestigious awards.

(14) ELUSIVE APPOINTMENTS. “How some frustrated COVID-19 vaccine hunters are trying to fix a broken system”The Seattle Times has the story.

That pretty much said it all, the other day, when a 90-year-old remarked in a Seattle Times story that the easy part of navigating our COVID-19 vaccine system was when she had to walk 6 miles through the snow to get the shot.

George Hu is only 52, but he can sympathize. When the former Microsoft developer tried to find appointments online for his 80-year-old in-laws, he was dumbfounded how primitive it all was.

“All tech people who see this setup are horrified,” Hu says.

That was my experience trying to nab a slot for my 91-year-old father. As everyone discovers, there isn’t one or a couple of places to hunt vaccine, but rather … hundreds, many with their own interfaces. I ran into one vaccine provider that was using Doodle for its vaccine appointment scheduling, another using Sign-Up Genius, another with a “don’t call us, we’ll text you back sometime” online form.

Rather than a global health emergency, it felt more like when the PTA is signing parents up for a bake sale.

“It’s whack-a-mole, except there are 300 holes,” Hu says. “And also you have no clue if the mole is ever going to pop up in any of them.”

(15) WHAT A BUNCH OF SCHIST. The headline made me click – “The missing continent it took 375 years to find” at BBC Future. Maybe your power to resist will be greater!

It took scientists 375 years to discover the eighth continent of the world, which has been hiding in plain sight all along. But mysteries still remain….

Zealandia was originally part of the ancient supercontinent of Gondwana, which was formed about 550 million years ago and essentially lumped together all the land in the southern hemisphere. It occupied a corner on the eastern side, where it bordered several others, including half of West Antarctica and all of eastern Australia.

Then around 105 million years ago, “due to a process which we don’t completely understand yet, Zealandia started to be pulled away”, says Tulloch.

Continental crust is usually around 40km deep – significantly thicker than oceanic crust, which tends to be around 10km. As it was strained, Zealandia ended up being stretched so much that its crust now only extends 20km (12.4 miles) down. Eventually, the wafter-thin continent sank – though not quite to the level of normal oceanic crust – and disappeared under the sea.

Despite being thin and submerged, geologists know that Zealandia is a continent because of the kinds of rocks found there. Continental crust tends to be made up of igneous, metamorphic and sedimentary rocks – like granite, schist and limestone, while the ocean floor is usually just made of igneous ones such as basalt.

But there are still many unknowns. The unusual origins of the eighth continent make it particularly intriguing to geologists, and more than a little baffling. For example, it’s still not clear how Zealandia managed to stay together when it’s so thin and not disintegrate into tiny micro-continents.

Another mystery is exactly when Zealandia ended up underwater – and whether it has ever, in fact, consisted of dry land. The parts that are currently above sea level are ridges that formed as the Pacific and Australian tectonic plates crumpled together. Tulloch says opinion is split as to whether it was always submerged apart from a few small islands, or once entirely dry land….

(16) THE BUZZ. Mental Floss assures us that Wasps Are Ridding Anne Boleyn’s Birthplace of Moth Infestation”.

…Now, however, it’s home to common clothes moths that could wreak havoc on rugs, clothing, and other vulnerable artifacts—including a rare 18th-century canopy bed and a tapestry that Catherine the Great bestowed upon the household in the 1760s. The moths have had much freer rein throughout Blickling Hall in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, and periodic pest counts have proved that the population has grown considerably over the past year.

“There’s no doubt lockdown suited our resident bugs,” assistant national conservator Hilary Jarvis said in a press release. “The relative quiet, darkness, and absence of disruption from visitors and staff provided perfect conditions for larvae and adults alike from March onwards.”

To curb further spawning, the National Trust has enlisted the help of an unlikely ally: microscopic parasitoid wasps (Trichogramma evanescens). In 11 especially moth-ridden locations within the hall, staff members will plant dispensers that hold around 2400 wasps each, which will destroy moth eggs by laying their own eggs inside them. Though it seems like Blickling Hall will have simply swapped out one infestation for another, the wasps pose no threat to the upholstery or anything else—they’ll eventually die and “disappear inconspicuously into house dust,” if all goes according to plan….

(17) TENET COMMENTARY. CinemaWins tells you “Everything GREAT About Tenet!” There must have been more good stuff in there than I suspected.

  • Everything GREAT About Tenet! PART 0 (Plot Breakdown):
  • Everything GREAT About Tenet! PART 1: 
  • Everything GREAT About Tenet! PART 2: 

(18) VIDEO OF THE DAY. “Jim Henson Introduces Kermit The Frog to Dick” on YouTube is a November 1971 clip from The Dick Cavett Show with both Jim Henson and Kermit as guests where you can clearly see how Henson changed his voice to be Kermit.

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

Pixel Scroll 9/20/20 I Have Come Here To Chew Bubblegum And Scroll Pixels… And I’m All Out Of Bubblegum

(1) UP AND COMERS. In the Washington Post, Christian Davenport surveys the new class of astronauts (chosen from 18,000 applicants) and says while some traditions haven’t changed (the process of picking an astronaut remains mysterious) the new astronauts will now have the option of going to the International Space Station via two commercial spacecraft and possibly may fly back to the Moon in a few years. “As the possibility of going to space grows, U.S. astronauts still don’t know how they get picked to fly”.

…Now there is an array of flying options coming to fruition, all launching from Cape Canaveral, that could provide astronauts a variety of flight opportunities not seen in decades. There’s SpaceX’s Dragon spacecraft, which in May became the first spacecraft to launch NASA astronauts from United States soil in nearly a decade. Boeing is also working to get its Starliner capsule ready, with a first crewed flight set for sometime next year. And NASA hopes Lockheed Martin’s Orion spacecraft will fly astronauts on a trip around the moon by 2023.

All of which means it’s an exciting time to be an astronaut, especially as the highly coveted assignments for the 48-member NASA astronaut corps in Houston are being handed out. It’s also a chance for NASA to showcase its astronauts and attempt to rekindle the national enthusiasm they once inspired. In the decades since Apollo, when astronauts were household names and revered as heroes, they are now largely anonymous.

(2) IN THE NEXT ROW. At LitHub: “Walter Mosley: When I’m Telling a Story I Imagine the Eavesdropper Over My Shoulder”.

Who do you most wish would read your book?
I once explained my audience by saying that I imagined being on a train or a bus sitting side by side with my favorite older cousin, Alberta Jackson. I’d be telling her stories about Easy Rawlins or his murderous friend Mouse. She’d be all excited and worried about Easy.

Sitting behind us is some person we don’t know and aren’t thinking about. That unknown person is my audience. They’re eavesdropping on my story and responding in ways I have no idea of. That way my writing, storytelling cannot be swayed by opinions external to the world I’m talking about.

(3) COMPARING VIRTUAL CONS ACROSS GENRES. Cora Buhlert has written a con report about the virtual Bloody Scotland crime fiction festival and how different it was from the SFF cons she’s attended: “Notes on the Virtual Bloody Scotland Festival and the Differences Between SFF and Crime Fiction Cons”

… Part of the reason for the lack of Discord chats, kaffeeklatsches and a dealers room may be that crime fiction festivals seem to be more focussed on listening to well-known writers speak and read than on interacting with fellow members. And indeed, there were fewer themed panels and a lot more of “See these cool authors talking about their writing and life”. It reminds more of literary festivals than SFF cons. Crime fiction cons also seem to be geared towards writers – the various British ones are often called “crime writing festivals”, hence the masterclasses. It’s simply a different con culture.

(4) IF YOU CAN MAKE IT THERE. Publishers Weekly examines how industry giant ReedPop is overcoming the learning curve to present virtual events in “New York Comic Con Goes Metaverse”.

…ReedPop has been “pivoting into what all of this stuff will look like digitally,” Armstrong says. “The Metaverse was our attempt to bring some content to fans, but also to figure this whole thing out a little bit. I don’t think anybody has perfected it.”

ReedPop event director and NYCC Metaverse showrunner Kristina Rogers agrees. She says the August event was a chance to see what worked and what would allow fans to get the most out of the event. “We said, ‘Let’s figure out how to get our content out there and see what the fans are really passionate about.’ It feels like needs are all changing constantly, because everything moves very quickly.”

One of the most popular features of the August Metaverse was live chat, Rogers says, noting that some of the panels were presented with live feedback on YouTube. “Fans told us they love being able to catch up with each other, and talking about a panel as it’s happening and right after.” Metaverse even included a “professional online con,” an online meeting between publishers and retailers, which was hailed as a huge success by participants.

NYCC Metaverse will have much of the traditional content of NYCC’s IRL editions, including media panels from CBS, FX, Hulu, and Star Trek and a significant amount of anime programming via anime distributor Funimation and manga publisher Viz Media. Traditional book publishers will be represented as usual, including Disney, Macmillan and its graphic novel imprint First Second Books, and Penguin Random House, with an emphasis on providing sneak peeks at trailers and covers, exclusive content, and author workshops, which are very popular with fans.

Looking to avoid still more talking heads on a computer screen, Rogers is searching for ways to offer conversations on fresh topics by dynamic participants. “We’ve seen a lot of iterations, and we’re still trying to figure out what’s actually going break through the noise,” she says.

(5) MAN UNDERBOARD. A veteran stunt man and stunt coordinator, “Ernie Orsatti, Stuntman Who Took Quite the Fall in ‘The Poseidon Adventure,’ Dies at 80”. The Hollywood Reporter profiled his most famous stunt.

…Ernie Orsatti portrayed Terry, the boyfriend of Pamela Sue Martin’s character, in The Poseidon Adventure, produced by “Master of Disaster” Irwin Allen and directed by Ronald Neame.

On the day before the stunt was scheduled, Orsatti was informed that Allen “wanted him to do the fall. The actor replied, “‘I’m not a stuntman. You want me to do that fall?'” he recalled in the 2006 video short The Poseidon Adventure: Falling Up With Ernie.

The stunt called for someone to cling to the edge of an upside-down table, let go and plunge 32 feet to land on his back onto a skylight in the doomed ocean liner’s inverted ballroom. After some apprehension, Orsatti agreed to do it.

Stunt coordinator Paul Stader told him, “‘Do not lean your head back, you’ll break your neck. Pick a point, look at it and let go,'” he remembered. “I picked my feet up into what you call an ‘L’ so I would be falling straight away from the camera with my hands out — and then it knocked me colder than a cucumber.”

They got the shot in one take. “They wanted me to register terror, and they surely must have gotten it,” he once said. “I was scared to death.

“The actors who were off that day, like Gene Hackman and Ernie Borgnine, showed up with their families to watch the shooting. I asked Gene what he was doing here and he smiled and said, ‘We’ve all come to watch you die.’ He took pictures and everything.”

(6) TODAY’S EASTER EGG.

Go to Google

Search for WIZARD OF OZ

Click on the ruby slippers to the right.

Then click on the tornado.

(7) MEDIA ANNIVERSARY.

  • September 1996 — The BBC Books edition of Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere was published. It was based off the BBC Neverwhere series, and it would be nominated for both the Mythopoeic Fantasy Award for Adult Literature and the Stoker Award for Superior Achievement in a Novel but would win neither. It would not be on the Hugo ballot for either the series or the novel. It would be the only version of the novel until William Morrow published Neverwhere: The Author’s Preferred Text in 2015. This version was supposed to have been first published by Hill House who did other Gaiman works such as the Good Omens screenplay and American Gods: Author’s Preferred Text  but they went out of business before doing so. Neverwhere has been done in as least two audio dramas, a comic books series, several theater productions and one delightfully illustrated edition of the novel. The Jim Henson Company optioned Neverwhere but never exercised that option.

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]

  • Born September 20, 1886 – Charles Williams.   His seven novels, many of his plays and poems, having essentially spiritual elements, are in our realm.  David Bratman edited the three Masques of Amen House in 2000.  Note also CW’s two books of Arthurian poetry, Taliessin through Logres and The Region of the Summer Stars.  Moving to Oxford during World War II he became an Inkling.  Dorothy L. Sayers called him the Master of the Images (in Dante’s Divine Comedy).  (Died 1945) [JH]
  • Born September 20, 1888 – Margery Stocking.  By 1914, writing and illustrating her own feature column in syndicated newspapers; in 1922, first woman to receive the Beaux Arts Medal from the Yale School of Architecture.  Fourteen years illustrating for Blue Book.  One of only four women who did pulp-magazine covers; Margaret Brundage was another.  MS’ forty-five covers for the best-selling Ranch Romances are beyond us, but here is a mermaid; here is hunting a saber-tooth tiger; here are some nymphs, here a satyr; here is “Moonlight Fantasy”.  (Died 1993) [JH]
  • Born September 20, 1935 Keith Roberts. Author of Pavane, an amazing novel. I’ll admit that I’ve not read anything else by him, so do tell me about other works please. I’ve just downloaded his collection of ghost stories, Winterwood and Other Hauntings, with an introduction by Robert Holdstock, from one of the usual digital suspects where he’s very well stocked.  (Died 2000.) (CE)
  • Born September 20, 1940 Jonathan Hardy. He was the voice of Dominar Rygel XVI, called simply Rygel, once the royal ruler of the Hynerian Empire, on Farscape.  He was also Police Commissioner Labatouche in Mad Max, and he had a one-off in the Mission: Impossible series that was produced in his native Australia in the “Submarine” episode as Etienne Reynard. (Died 2012.) (CE) 
  • Born September 20, 1948 – George R.R. Martin, 72.  First Hugo 1975, four more; two Nebulas; one Stoker; one coveted Balrog (the only kind that can be coveted, aiee); Skylark; two Geffens (Israel), four Ignotuses (Spain); Phantastik Preis (Germany); Seiun (Japan); World Fantasy Award for lifetime achievement.  His multi-author, multi-volume Wild Cards, and his Song of Ice and Fire, were well under way when he was Pro Guest of Honour at Torcon 3 the 61st Worldcon (and there was a fine “Winter is Coming” in the Masquerade), but no one dreamed of Ice and Fire’s fantastic success on television.  Now that he has pleased millions a misdeed looses lightnings.  [JH]
  • Born September 20, 1955 David Haig, 65. He played Pangol in “The Leisure Hive” a Fourth Doctor story. He also showed up on Blake’s 7  in “Rumours of Death” as Forres, and was Colonel Bonnet in The Adventures of Young Indiana Jones: Tales of Innocence. He’s also General Vandenberg in the 2006 film remake of A for Andromeda. Finally I should note he’s The Player in Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead done at The Old Vic a few years back. (CE)
  • Born September 20, 1950 James Blaylock, 70. One of my favorite writers. I’d recommend the the Ghosts trilogy, the Christian trilogy and The Adventures of Langdon St. Ives whichcollects all of the Langdon St. Ives adventures together as his best writing, but anything by him is worth reading. (CE) 
  • Born September 20, 1963 – Elise Broach, 57.  Two E.B. White Read Aloud Awards, two Amer. Lib’y Ass’n Notable Children’s Books.  When Dinosaurs Came With Everything was a Time #1 Children’s Book of the Year; Masterpiece a New York Times Best Seller, five sequels.  Six more novels, nine more picture books. Yale alumna, three degrees including M.Phil. History.  “I can draw most animals, and I can tell the color of an M&M by its taste….  We had to drive a rental truck 3,000 miles across country….  I had an excellent record on greens and browns.”
  • Born September 20, 1974 Owen Sheers, 46. His first novel, Resistance, tells the story of the inhabitants of a valley near Abergavenny in Wales in the Forties shortly after the failure of Operation Overlord and a successful German takeover of Britain. It’s been made into a film.  He also wrote the “White Ravens”, a contemporary take off the myth of Branwen Daughter of Llyr, found in the New Stories from the Mabinogion series. (CE) 
  • Born September 20, 1978 – Tiphanie Yanique, 42.  Nat’l Book Foundation “5 Under 35” honoree, 2010.  Distinguished Teaching Award at the New School, 2015.  Now at Emory.  Amer. Acad. Poets Prize, Felix Dennis Prize for Best First Collection.  Boston Review Fiction Prize, Kore Press Short Fiction Award, Pushcart Prize, Bocas Prize for Caribbean Literature (fiction).  Land of Love and Drowning, which is ours, won the Center for Fiction First Novel Prize and the Phyllis Wheatley Award.  [JH]
  • Born September 20, 1982 – Emilia Dziubak, 38.  Here is her cover for A Tale Magnolious.  Here is The House of Lost and Found.  Here is Where Are You, Mama? (in Polish).  Here is Gogi’s Gambit.  Here is Two Options (in Polish).  [JH]
  • Born September 20, 1986 Aldis Hodge, 34. He played Alec Hardison on the Leverage series. Ok, I know it’s not precisely genre but if there’s a spiritual descendant of Mission: Impossible, this series is it. Both the cast and their use are technology of that series are keeping with the MI spirit. He’s also had one-offs on CharmedBuffy the Vampire SlayerSupernaturalThe Walking DeadStar Trek Discovery’s Short Takes and Bones (which given that it crossed over with Sleepy Hollow…) (CE) 

(9) COMICS SECTION.

  • Incidental Comics’ Grant Snider offers this advice:

(10) ANIMATION AHOY. “Sailor Moon’s impact on modern American animation remains undeniable” asserts A.V.Club.

Twenty-five years after its U.S. television premiere, the impact of Sailor Moon on Japanese and Western animation remains undeniable. With its distinct visual vocabulary, story structure, and defined character archetypes, the series not only served as the blueprint for the many Japanese magical girl anime series that would follow it, but also established a visual aesthetic so iconic, we see references, parodies, and direct homages to the series throughout various Western television series—including transformation sequences in Teen Titans Go! and Star Vs. The Forces of EvilLisa Simpson dressed as Sailor Moon in The Simpsonsand even an episode of South Park, where Kenny receives a Sailor Moon brooch from the CEO of Sony that turns him into “Princess Kenny,” a play on Princess Serenity. Cartoon Network has even posted a video compiling multiple Sailor Moon references that have appeared across the various series that air on the network. The tropes established by Sailor Moon soon became common features of the magical girl genre: cute, talking guide animals, everyday objects that secretly double as magical transformation amulets, and a tight-knit group of friends represented by different colors and elements….

(11) CAN’T DRAG HIM OUT OF THE DUNGEON. “This game of Dungeons & Dragons has been going on for 38 years” reports CNN.

Stay-at-home orders due to the ongoing pandemic have upended a lot of plans—weddings have been postponed, concerts have been canceled, vacations have been pushed aside. But one thing that can’t be kept down? Robert Wardhaugh’s game of Dungeons & Dragons.

For the past 38 years, Wardhaugh has been playing the same game of Dungeons & Dragons in Canada. Dungeons & Dragons is a fantasy tabletop role-playing game that usually involves lots of miniatures, lots of imaginary worlds, and lots of high adventure. Starting in 1982, that might make it the longest continuously running Dungeons & Dragons campaign, ever. Or, at least the longest Wardhaugh has ever heard of….

(12) HE HUFFED AND HE PUFFED. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson—who has been cast to play DC villain Black Adam—apparently got a little peeved when his front gate wouldn’t open during a power outage. He was late to work, so he did what any super-strong villain would do. He ripped the gate off the brick columns & threw it aside: “The Rock Goes Full ‘Black Adam’ On Gate During Power Outage, ROCK SMASH!”

“I pushed, pulled and ripped the gate completely off myself,” Johnson said.

“Ripped it completely out of the brick wall, severed the steel hydraulics and threw it on the grass.”

“My security team was able to meet the gate technician and welders about an hour later — and they were apparently, ‘in disbelief and equally scared’ as to how I ripped it off”

(13) MAGIC METAL. “Metalhead’s Mulligan: Seven Heavy Records Inspired By ‘Magic: The Gathering” at Bandcamp.

…Of course, like most forms of geekery and high fantasy, the game’s spurred some pretty kick-ass metal, largely thanks to the art, which presents an abundance of aesthetic comfort food: zombies, skeletons, demons, blood sacrifice, and the like. “Fantasy literature, swords and sorcery/barbaric pulp and films, and tabletop/role-playing games have had a strong impact on metal music’s aesthetic direction since the genre’s nascent stages, so it only makes sense that someone fascinated with metal album covers would be interested in immersive gaming experiences that provide a similar art direction, and vice versa,” says Jake Rogers, lead singer of Visigoth and lifelong Magic player. “If you’re someone who grew up playing games such as Magic: The Gathering, Dungeons & Dragons, or Warhammer, and then discover Michael Whelan’s art adorning a Cirith Ungol album, or happen across Omen’s Battle Cry—the art for which looks like it could have been taken from an early Magic: The Gathering set—it only makes sense that your interest in the music would be piqued.” With that in mind, here are seven metal albums that pay homage, both directly and indirectly, to the first and best trading card game ever made.

(14) CATCHING UP WITH THE DINOSAURS. Although this Smasher--made Jurassic World 3: Dominion trailer dropped in June, I don’t seem to have linked to it yet. The film is now scheduled for release in June 2021.

(15) VIDEO OF THE DAY. In Write Your Story on Vimeo, Willy Hajli and William Kirn explain what happens when an employee rebels against her AI overlords.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, JJ, Martin Morse Wooster, John Hertz, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Michael Toman, Contrarius, N., Rob Thornton, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories.  Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Patrick Morris Miller.]

Pixel Scroll 9/10/20 The Pixelways Will Scroll

(1) SOUNDING OFF. John Scalzi’s new novella in The Dispatcher series debuted today as an audiobook narrated by Zachary Quinto. You can hear the two of them discuss it via Whatever: “Here’s Me and Zachary Quinto Interviewing Each Other About ‘Murder By Other Means’”.

(2) THE SOUND AND THE FURRY. Maria Poletta, in the Arizona Republic story “On Cameo, Joe Arpaio welcomed a furry convention to Arizona. Hours later, he learned what it was”, says that Sheriff Joe Arpaio (famously pardoned by President Trump) recorded a message on Cameo welcoming a furry convention to Arizona although it’s not clear he knew what furries were(he pronounced furry “fury.”)

It seems former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio has found a new gig after another unsuccessful bid for public office.

Unsurprisingly, it’s in front of the camera. 

For $30.99, users of Cameo — an app where singers, actors and other public figures record custom video messages for a fee — can request a personalized clip of the divisive figure saying whatever they want.

And supporters and critics alike are seizing the opportunity. 

Most of Arpaio’s Cameo videos appear to be standard fare, such as birthday greetings, thank-you messages, congratulatory comments. But one that began circulating on social media on Tuesday evening, an encouraging message for the organizers of an upcoming event, raised eyebrows. 

“Hey, good luck organizing the Arizona Furry convention,” Arpaio begins, though he pronounces it “Fury,” suggesting he’s not totally certain what he’s been asked to talk about. It’s “for animal lovers,” he adds by way of explanation.

“I’ve always loved animals, fought those that abused animals and will continue to do so,” he continues. “In any event, have a great convention.”

…Many members of the subculture have defined it as one dedicated to artistic expression and helping people come out of their shells, but they’ve long had to endure jokes from people who mock “fur-suiting” as a sexual fetish. 

Judging by the requester listed on Arpaio’s Cameo, the person who ordered the video may be one of them. The username: Sir Yiffs A Lot.

“Yiff” refers to furry-related sexual content or activity, which made Arpaio’s sign-off all the more cringeworthy. 

“As far as what animal I would like to be, I’m kind of partial to dogs,” he says after a pause, as if responding to a question included in the video request. “But I love all animals. Thanks.”

(3) LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD FOR MOSLEY. Walter Mosley will be presented the  National Book Foundation’s Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters, presented by Edwidge Danticat. Winners of the award receive $10,000 and a solid brass medal.

“Mosley is a master of craft and narrative, and through his incredibly vibrant and diverse body of work, our literary heritage has truly been enriched,” said David Steinberger, chair of the NBA board of directors, in the release. “From mysteries to literary fiction to nonfiction, Mosley’s talent and memorable characters have captivated readers everywhere, and the Foundation is proud to honor such an illustrious voice whose work will be enjoyed for years to come.”

(4) MORE ROCK THAN ROLL. “Lafawndah’s The Fifth Season by Lily Sperry” profiles an album that draws on N.K. Jemisin’s trilogy.

At first glance, what surprises about Lafawndah’s new album, The Fifth Season, is the absence of her image on the cover. Instead of the regal, sometimes confrontational gazes adorning past works, such as Ancestor Boy (2019) and “Tan” (2016), here the listener is greeted with the empty eyes of an amorphous stone figure, kneeling, palms extended, on what seems to be the edge of the Earth. It’s unclear if this character is meant to represent Lafawndah herself, or something else entirely—but upon listening to the album, it almost doesn’t matter. As an artist who self-identifies as a “creative orphan,” shapeshifting is written into Lafawndah’s DNA. It’s only appropriate that her latest release takes it as its central mode.

Its core subject, however, marks a decisive break from past projects. Rather than looking inward, Lafawndah instead extends outward, drawing on the emotionally charged myths of N.K. Jemisin’s Broken Earth trilogy to guide her. Set in a far-future Earth rife with conflict and periodic disasters (“Seasons”) that threaten to destroy all human life, Jemisin’s Afrofuturist series tells tales of heartbreak, strife, and conflict from the perspectives of three different women. It’s only at the end the reader realizes that each character is the same person, at different points in her life….

(5) SUGGESTIONS NEEDED. “So what should do I with a half dozen signed limited edition posters by Charles Vess? Can you think of a worthy fan cause?” Cat Eldridge looks to Filers for suggestions.

“No, I don’t know why he sent them.” says Cat. “I think they’re twenty years old now but they’re in excellent shape.”

(6) VIBRANT VAMPIRES. “There Are Real Vampires in Texas. We Interviewed Them.” Fodors has the story.

The best little vampire court in Texas.

Everything’s bigger in Texas—even the vampire scene. Television and film have catapulted vampires into the mainstream, cementing vampirism into pop culture. From the cult classic Interview with the Vampire to FXX series What We Do in the Shadows, there’s no shortage of fictional portrayals of vampire life and the people who crave to be like them. Life can be stranger than fiction, and real-life vampires exist. While they tend to have an affinity for the occult, they’ve sunk their fangs into philanthropy and social good during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Texas is one of many states that boasts of vibrant vampire communities, known as courts. Self-identifying vampires can apply for membership in their city. To an outsider, these vampire courts may sound eerie. For the vampires, the courts are a place they can find belonging….

(7) ON THE FRONT. Lauren Panepinto examines “Book Cover Trends Thru Time (Via Dune)” at Muddy Colors.

…One of my favorite ways to visualize how much book cover design has changed over the years is to track one classic book that tends to get redesigned every few years and see how the designs have evolved. Honestly the entire Penguin Classics imprint survives on this as an entire business model. There have been entire academic studies and books published on the design history of books like Lolita. But this is a SciFi Fantasy Art blog and it just so happens that the new Dune trailer finally came out today, so we’re going to be looking at the last few decades of book cover design through the lens of Dune by Frank Herbert….

PRE-BOOK HISTORY

The stories that would become Dune were first serialized in Analog Magazine starting in December 1963. John Schoenherr was commissioned on August 7, 1963 (great backstory on the blog kept by his son Ian Schoenherr here) to create images for the covers and interiors for “Dune World” 1, 2, and 3.

(8) PARDUE OBIT. Filker Naomi Pardue took her own life reports Tom Smith who said, “She had been very depressed for awhile now, after the death of a close friend.”

(9) MEDIA ANNIVERSARY.

September 1990 — The 1991 World Fantasy Award for Best Short Fiction Would go to Neil Gaiman’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” which was published thirty years ago this month in the nineteenth issue of Sandman. It features the beginning of Morpheus’ creative partnership with William Shakespeare, and is the only comic book to date to win a World Fantasy Award. It was drawn by Charles Vess and colored by Steve Oliff. The final issue of Sandman, number seventy five, “The Tempest”,  concerns the second of the two plays commissioned by Morpheus.

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]

  • Born September 10, 1860 – Margaret Armour.  Novelist, poet, translator.  Translated the Nibelungenlied into English prose (1887), then Wagner’s four Nibelungen operas The Rhine Gold and The ValkyrieSiegfried and Twilight of the Gods, illustrated by Arthur Rackham (1912); also Legerlotz’ Gudrun (1932).  Outside our field, tr. Heine with Leland and Brooksbank; and her own works. (Died 1943) [JH]
  • Born September 10, 1905 – Jay Jackson.  A hundred interiors for AmazingFantasticGolden FleeceWeird Tales.  Here is Robert Bloch’s “Secret of the Observatory”.  Here is “The Space Pirate”.  Here is “Planet of the Gods”.  Also outside our field: here is an image for World War II bonds.  He appears to have been the first black SF artist.  See this from the Chicago Defender.  (Died 1954) [JH]
  • Born September 10, 1911 – William Crawford.  Published and edited Fantasy Book (as Garret Ford; with wife Margaret Crawford), Marvel TalesUnusualSpaceway (i.e. not Harry Warner’s fanzine Spaceways).  Early LASFS (L.A. Science Fantasy Soc.) member.  Seven anthologies, some uncredited.  Started SF conventions.  Seen in Locus as late as 1981.  Helped many; received the Big Heart, our highest service award.  (Died 1984) [JH]
  • Born September 10, 1914 Robert Wise. Film director, producer, and editor. Among his accomplishments are directing The Curse of The Cat PeopleThe Day the Earth Stood StillThe HauntingThe Andromeda Strain and Star Trek: The Motion Picture. Though not at all genre, he also directed West Side Story and edited Citizen Kane. (Died 2005.) (CE) 
  • Born September 10, 1927 – Betty Levin, 93.  Ten novels for us; several others outside our field e.g. Starshine and Sunglow (“Grace and subtle humor” – Kirkus), Thorn (“Strongly lyrical writing, unusual & provocative themes” – Kirkus).  Judy Lopez Award, Hope Dean Award.  [JH]
  • Born September 10, 1952 Gerry Conway, 68. Writer who’s best known for co-creating with John Romita Sr. and Ross Andru the Punisher character and scripting the death of Gwen Stacy during his long run on The Amazing Spider-Man. I’m also fond of his work on Weird Western Tales at DC. (CE) 
  • Born September 10, 1953 Pat Cadigan, 67. Tea from an Empty Cup and Dervish is Digital are both amazing works. And I’m fascinated that she has co-written with Paul Dini, creator of Batman: The Animated Series, a DCU novel called Harley Quinn: Mad Love. (CE)
  • Born September 10, 1955 Victoria Strauss, 65. Author of the Burning Land trilogy, she should be praised unto high for being founder along with AC Crispin of the Committee on Writing Scams. She maintains the Writer Beware website and blog. (CE) 
  • Born September 10, 1959 Tara Ward, 61. She played Preston in the “Warriors of the Deep”, a Third Doctor story.  After Doctor Who, she shows up in one-offs in Star Cops and Dark Realm, the Eric Roberts as the Host with vampire teeth horror anthology series,beforehaving a very minor role in the Justice League film. (CE)
  • Born September 10, 1959 Nancy A. Collins, 61. Author of the Sonja Blue vampire novels, some of the best of that genre I’ve ever had the pleasure to read. She had a long run on Swamp Thing from issues #110 to #138, and it is generally considered a very good period in that narrative.  She also wrote Vampirella, the Forrest J Ackerman and Trina Robbins creation, for awhile. (CE)
  • Born September 10, 1964 – Chip Kidd, 56.  Some say he does 75 covers a year.  “Designing books is no laughing matter.  Okay, it is.”   Here is Jurassic Park.  Here is Was.  Here is The Elephant Vanishes.  Here is Loop.  Infinity Award for Design (Int’l Center of Photography), Nat’l Design Award for Communication, AIGA (Am. Inst. Graphic Arts) Medal.  “I’m very much against the idea that the cover will sell the book.  Marketing departments of publishing houses tend to latch onto this concept and they can’t let go.  But it’s about whether the book itself really connects with the public, and the cover is only a small part of that.”  [JH]
  • Born September 10, 1977 – Emily Snyder, 43.  Directed eleven Shakespeare plays, performed in twenty-five, including Brutus in Julius Caesar and Prospero in The Tempest.  Love and Death trilogy in blank verse Persephone Rises, The Seduction of Adonis and Cupid and Psyche.  Matter of Arthur plays The Table Round and The Siege Perilous.  Novels for us Niamh and the Hermit, Charming the Moon.  Feminist and Catholic.  [JH]

(11) COMICS SECTION.

(12) WONDERBEASTS. [Item by N.] Cartoon Kipo and the Age of Wonderbeasts premieres its third (three seasons in a single year!!) and as of this writing final season on October 12.

(13) CAN YOU DIG IT? An archeology-inspired adventure is the big idea at Whatever today: “The Big Idea: Dan Hanks”.

“It belongs in a museum.”

That’s the quote we all know and love, uttered as the bad guys try to steal the priceless artifact away from Indiana Jones. And when he says it, the audience is usually cheering him on. He’s the scientist with the archaeological smarts after all. He knows how much these artifacts could benefit the world, so he’s going to risk his life to give us the chance to see them. Pretty damn noble if you ask me.

Except.

That’s not really the whole story, is it? 

Captain Moxley and the Embers of the Empire, was always meant to be a fast, fun, action-packed adventure in the Indiana Jones style. An entertaining beach read (or, I guess, ‘pandemic read’ now). However, it was also important to me to address some serious archaeological issues, in particular the colonial elements of these types of stories. I wanted to pull that aspect into the torch light and inspect it properly (while hoping it didn’t set off a trap). 

The big idea here is that the famous “it belongs in a museum” line is only half complete. In a world where archaeologists and museums are being nudged to move beyond their colonial past, it deserves a follow-up: 

Whose?

(14) ANGER BENEATH THE WHIMSY. In an essay for the New York Times, James Traub contends “Doctor Dolittle’s Talking Animals Still Have Much to Say”.

…No one could say that the books have grown quaint or stale; just ask my third graders. Nor was Walpole indulging in hyperbole. Doctor Dolittle is a wonderful creation: a Victorian eccentric from the pages of Dickens; a perpetual bachelor who drives conventional humans from his life but is much loved by the poor and the marginal; a gentleman whose exquisite politesse never falters, even before sharks and pirates; a peace-loving naturalist prepared to wage war to defend his friends from evil depredations. Only by the standards of the world of grown-ups does he “do little.”

… Lofting really was a genius of children’s literature. But he was also a product of the British Empire. When Doctor Dolittle goes to Africa to cure the monkeys, he stumbles into the Kingdom of Jolliginki. Prince Bumpo, the heir to the throne, is a mooncalf who mistakes fairy tales for real life, speaks in Elizabethan periphrasis and murmurs to himself: “If only I were a white prince!” In the pencil sketches with which Lofting illustrates his texts, Prince Bumpo looks like the missing link between man and ape. Lofting’s biographer, Gary D. Schmidt, defensively notes that Doctor Dolittle himself rarely utters a bigoted word. But the doctor is only a character; the narrator and the illustrator are none other than our author. While Lofting never fails to give his Africans a measure of nobility, he is also quite certain of their savagery.

… The edition I read was probably published in 1950, three years after Lofting’s death. By the 1970s, he had gone into eclipse. Over the years, new editions appeared that attempted to address the racism, including one in 1988 from which all pictures of Prince Bumpo and his parents had been removed, along with all references to their skin color, not to mention their wish to change it. “If this verbal and visual caution occasionally seems almost craven,” a reviewer for The New York Times Book Review wrote, the blind spots for which it sought to compensate were real.

(15) SET DECORATION BY NATURE. Yeah, this is how San Francisco looked yesterday.

(16) BOOKS ON TAP. Baen Books authors will make two livestreaming appearances Publishers Weekly’s Books on Tap LIVE series in the coming months.  The authors will be interviewed with the opportunity to answer questions at the end of the segment.

The first, featuring Larry Correia, will air on Wednesday, September 23rd at 4:00 PM EDT. Larry Correia is the bestselling author of the Monster Hunter International urban fantasy series, the Grimnoir trilogy, and the Saga of the Forgotten Warrior military epic fantasy series with the latest novel Destroyer of Worlds, on sale September 1st.

David Weber & Jacob Holo will be teaming up for an event on Wednesday, October 7th at 4:00 PM EDT to celebrate the release of The Valkyrie Protocol, the second book in their Gordian Division time travel adventure series. David Weber is a multiple New York Times best-selling author, the creator of the Honor Harrington military science fiction series, as well as Path of the Fury, the Hell’s Gate multiverse series, the Dahak Saga, and many more. The Valkyrie Protocol is on sale October 6th.

The authors are known for lively dialogue, interesting backstories, and enjoying interaction with guests.  These events are free to the public.  To sign up for these special events go here September 23rd at 4:00 for Larry Correia; and a link will be forthcoming for the event on October 7th at 4:00 for David Weber and Jacob Holo.

(17) MALTIN ON MOVIES. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] I listened to a 2019 podcast Leonard and Jessie Maltin did with Phil Lord and Chris Miller.

Lord and Miller met at Dartmouth, where they wrote a comic strip about a chain-smoking squirrel that was turned into a feature in the Dartmouth alumni magazine.  That magazine ended up on Disney CEO Michael Eisner’s corporate jet, which led to a phone call the undergraduates got asking them to come to Hollywood and take a meeting, which they declined because they were doing mid-term exams. 

After they were graduated, Disney hired them but their first great success came with the MTV series “Clone High,” which was banned in India because Gandhi was one of the clones.  Most of the podcast includes discussion of the Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs movies and The Lego Movie.  The podcast was produced before The Lego Movie 2 came out.  There is much discussion about why it’s so much harder to come up with a good script for an animated film than for a feature film, with Leonard Maltin noting that Walt Disney threw out six months’ work on Pinocchio.

There was one question about SOLO, the Star Wars project that Lord and Miller were sacked from.

(18) RICK AND MORTY CUISINE. “Pringles Has Brought Back Its Pickle Rick Chips, and Launched Two New ‘Rick and Morty’ Flavors” – let Yahoo! Life tell you all about it.

Earlier this year, we were introduced to the Pringles and Rick and Morty collaboration that resulted in Pickle Rick pickle-flavored chips. Not only are the chips — which were released in honor of the Super Bowl — available again, but there are two new varieties that were inspired by the Adult Swim series.

The special-edition Pickle Rick flavor is joined by Honey Mustard Morty and Look at Me! I’m Cheddar & Sour Cream. While the flavors are self-explanatory (hello, honey mustard-flavored and cheddar-and-sour-cream-flavored chips!), there’s a reason these three were chosen. Stacking Pringles flavors, which fit so perfectly together, has been gaining popularity over the past couple of years, according to the brand. The idea here is that you take one of each chip and eat them together for an insane flavor combination….

[Thanks to Andrew Porter, N., Daniel Dern, Bill, Michael Toman, Lise Andreasen, John King Tarpinian, JJ, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, John Hertz, Rob Thornton, and Cat Eldridge for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Rob Thornton.]

2020 Strand Critics Awards

The Strand Magazine has announced the winners of its 2020 Strand Critics Awards recognizing excellence in the field of mystery fiction and publishing.

Best Mystery Novel (2019)

  • The Sentence is Death by Anthony Horowitz (Harper)

Best Debut Novel (2019)

  • Miracle Creek by Angie Kim (Sarah Crichton Books, FSG)

Publisher of the Year Award

  • Bronwen Hruska, publisher of Soho Press.

Lifetime Achievement Awards

  • Tess Gerritsen
  • Walter Mosley

The annual Strand Critics Awards are judged by a select group of book critics and journalists. This year’s judges include talent from NPR, USA Today, LA Times, and The Washington Post.

Los Angeles Times 2019 Book Prizes

Marlon James won the new Ray Bradbury Prize for Science Fiction, Fantasy & Speculative Fiction, and Walter Mosley was honored with the Robert Kirsch Award for lifetime achievement when the 40th annual Los Angeles Times Book Prizes were awarded today on The Times’ Books Twitter feed.

Following each prize announcement, a video of the winner’s speech was shared on Twitter, with all videos now compiled on The Times’ YouTube page.

The Book Prizes recognized outstanding literary works in 12 categories.

2019 Book Prizes Winners

Art Seidenbaum Award for First Fiction

  • Namwali Serpell, The Old Drift: A Novel, Hogarth

Biography

  • George Packer, Our Man: Richard Holbrooke and the End of the American Century, Knopf

Christopher Isherwood Prize for Autobiographical Prose

  • Emily Bernard, Black Is the Body: Stories from My Grandmother’s Time, My Mother’s Time, and Mine, Knopf

Current Interest

  • Emily Bazelon, Charged: The New Movement to Transform American Prosecution and End Mass Incarceration, Random House

Fiction

  • Ben Lerner, The Topeka School: A Novel, Farrar, Straus, Giroux

Graphic Novel/Comics

  • Eleanor Davis, The Hard Tomorrow, Drawn & Quarterly

History

  • Stephanie E. Jones-Rogers, They Were Her Property: White Women as Slave Owners in the American South, Yale University Press

Mystery/Thriller

  • Steph Cha, Your House Will Pay: A Novel, Ecco

Poetry

  • Ilya Kaminsky, Deaf Republic: Poems, Graywolf Press

Ray Bradbury Prize for Science Fiction, Fantasy & Speculative Fiction

  • Marlon James, Black Leopard, Red Wolf (The Dark Star Trilogy Book 1), Riverhead

Science & Technology

  • Maria Popova, Figuring, Knopf

Young Adult Literature

  • Malla Nunn, When the Ground is Hard, G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers
Marlon James

Bradbury Prize winner Marlon James said in his acceptance remarks:

Well, you know, there is something kind of ironic about winning an award in tribute to the creator of the original American dystopia when we are in a kind of dystopia. You know, I I think kind of it makes me think even more about Ray Bradbury and more about how we look at his dystopia as a possible future not realizing in a way it has happened. You know, we’re not burning books but we’re burning intelligence, we are burning expertise, we are burning the simple privilege of knowing, and we’re seeing the consequences of that. But let’s not deal too much with the bad because this is a great occasion and I’m so incredibly honored and so incredibly humbled by winning this the inaugural Ray Bradbury prize for science fiction fantasy and speculative fiction…

Walter Mosley’s acceptance video:

The complete list of 2019 Book Prizes finalists and previous winners is available at latimes.com/BookPrizes, as is eligibility and judging information

The Book Prizes awards ceremony usually takes place at the LA Times Festival of Books in the spring, but the event was cancelled due to the coronavirus outbreak, and rescheduled to October 3-4 at USC.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian and Michael Toman for the story.]

Pixel Scroll 9/7/19 Two Thousand Million Or So Years Ago Two Pixels Were Scrolling

(1) MOSLEY QUITS STAR TREK: DISCOVERY. Walter Mosley tells “Why I Quit the Writers’ Room” in an op-ed for the New York Times. His piece doesn’t name the show he quit. The Hollywood Reporter does: “Author Walter Mosley Quits ‘Star Trek: Discovery’ After Using N-Word in Writers Room”. Mosley writes —  

Earlier this year, I had just finished with the “Snowfall” writers’ room for the season when I took a similar job on a different show at a different network. I’d been in the new room for a few weeks when I got the call from Human Resources. A pleasant-sounding young man said, “Mr. Mosley, it has been reported that you used the N-word in the writers’ room.”

I replied, “I am the N-word in the writers’ room.”

He said, very nicely, that I could not use that word except in a script. I could write it but I could not say it. Me. A man whose people in America have been, among other things, slandered by many words. But I could no longer use that particular word to describe the environs of my experience.

…I do not believe that it should be the object of our political culture to silence those things said that make some people uncomfortable. Of course I’m not talking about verbal attacks or harassment. But if I have an opinion, a history, a word that explains better than anything how I feel, then I also have the right to express that feeling or that word without the threat of losing my job. And furthermore, I do not believe that it is the province of H.R. to make the decision to keep my accusers’ identities secret. If I’ve said or done something bad enough to cause people to fear me, they should call the police.

My answer to H.R. was to resign and move on. I was in a writers’ room trying to be creative while at the same time being surveilled by unknown critics who would snitch on me to a disembodied voice over the phone. My every word would be scrutinized. Sooner or later I’d be fired or worse — silenced….

The Hollywood Reporter solicited CBS’ take on Mosley’s departure –

CBS TV Studios responded to Mosley’s op-ed on Friday in a statement provided to The Hollywood Reporter: “We have the greatest admiration for Mr. Mosley’s writing talents and were excited to have him join Star Trek: Discovery. While we cannot comment on the specifics of confidential employee matters, we are committed to supporting a workplace where employees feel free to express concerns and where they feel comfortable performing their best work. We wish Mr. Mosley much continued success.”

(2) CHANDRAYAAN-2. The lander and rover apparently didn’t make it: “‘We Came Very Close:’ Indian Prime Minister Modi Lauds Chandrayaan-2 Team After Moon Lander Goes Silent”.

India’s space program will bounce back strong from the apparent failure of Friday’s (Sept. 6) lunar landing attempt, Prime Minister Narendra Modi stressed.

The nation’s Chandrayaan-2 moon orbiter dropped a lander called Vikram toward the lunar surface Friday afternoon. Everything went well for a while, but mission controllers lost contact with Vikram when the craft was just 1.3 miles (2.1 kilometers) above the gray dirt.

As of this writing, the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) had still not officially declared Vikram lost; the latest ISRO update stated that descent data are still being analyzed. But Modi’s comments strongly suggest that Vikram and Pragyan, the rover that was supposed to deploy from the lander, are dead.

…Indeed, India plans to develop a Chandrayaan-3 moon mission in the coming years, and the nation also intends to put humans on the lunar surface at some point. ISRO is working to send a second orbiter to Mars in the mid-2020s as well. (The nation’s first Red Planet probe, Mangalyaan, has been studying Mars from orbit since September 2014.)

And there’s still the other half of Chandrayaan-2 to consider. The mission’s orbiter, which arrived at the moon last month, is scheduled to operate for at least a year. The spacecraft is using eight science instruments to study the moon in a variety of ways — creating detailed maps of the lunar surface, for example, and gauging the presence and abundance of water ice, especially in the south polar region.

(3) TIME FOR THE TESTAMENTS. NPR has the answer to “Why Margaret Atwood Said ‘No’ To A ‘Handmaid’s Tale’ Sequel — Until Now”.

…Atwood says it just seemed like the time for a sequel. “People had been asking me to write a sequel for a long time, and I always said no, because I thought they meant the continuation of the story of Offred which I couldn’t do,” she says. “But then I thought, what if somebody else were telling the story? And what if it were 15 or 16 years later? And it was also time, because for a while we thought we were moving away from The Handmaid’s Tale. And then we turned around and started going back toward it, ominously close in many parts of the world. And I felt it was possibly time to revisit the question of, how do regimes like Gilead end? Because we know from The Handmaid’s Tale that it did end.”

(4) DANCING MARVELS. Popsugar features some amazingly skilled kids – who apparently are their high school’s counterparts to my daughter’s colorguard team. “Oh, Snap: This High School Dance Team’s Avengers Routine Is Pretty Freakin’ Marvelous”.

A year after their viral Harry Potter dance routine, the students of Arizona’s Walden Grove high school are at it again with some incredible Avengers-themed homecoming choreography. The talented PAC dance team put their own twist on Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and brought the beloved superheroes back to life — with some badass moves.

The full routine is an intergalatic trip through the Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame storylines. […]

(5) WITH RECEIPTS. Mimi Mondal is “Rewriting the history of science fantasy fiction” in the Hindustani Times.

…In 2016, a bust of HP Lovecraft was removed as the trophy for the World Fantasy Award, but the change had caused so much debate that a new trophy — a twisted tree girdling a full moon — wasn’t released till the next year. Last year, after the death of Harlan Ellison, obituaries from grieving fans were mixed with accounts of his serial sexual harassments, including of women author peers. Two months later, NK Jemisin made history by winning her third consecutive Hugo Award for the best novel. Veteran author Robert Silverberg denounced her acceptance speech as “graceless and vulgar” for having passionately spoken against the obstacles faced by black women writers in SFF, again to the thundering applause of the auditorium in San Jose, which I was present to witness. Jemisin’s speech was in more than one way a precursor to Ng’s.

The change in our genre is a reflection of the change that’s happening in the world. As a genre, SFF is fairly new — barely a century old — and, while science fiction in particular (less so fantasy and horror) has always worn a progressive veneer, the stories of progress have always belonged to a small, privileged group of people. But SFF is also a hugely popular and consumer-facing genre, which means trends are driven by those who consume the stories. Changes in SFF are a direct result of the changing reader and buyer demographic, which no longer simply constitutes white men in the West….

(6) YOU’RE GETTING COLDER. “Was Walt Disney Frozen?” Snopes says nope. Is there nothing left for us to believe in?

Half a century onwards, the rumor that Walt Disney’s body was put in cryonic storage remains one of the most enduring legends about the entertainment giant.

(7) LYNLEY OBIT. Actress Carol Lynley died September 3 of a heart attack reports the New York Times. She was 77. Her genre appearances included The Man From U.N.C.L.E., Night Gallery, and Tales of the Unexpected, She was in the feature films Beware! The Blob and Future Cop, and the TV movies that gave rise to series Kolchak: The Night Stalker and Fantasy Island.

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born September 7, 1795 John William Polidori. His most remembered work was “The Vampyre”, the first published modern vampire story published in 1819. Although originally and erroneously accredited to Lord Byron, both Byron and Polidori affirmed that the story is his. Because of this work, he is credited by several as the creator of the vampire genre of fantasy fiction. (Died 1821.)
  • Born September 7, 1937 John Phillip Law. He’s probably best remembered as the blind angel Pygar in the cult  film Barbarella which featured Jane Fonda in that bikini. He shows up in Tarzan, the Ape Man as Harry Holt, and he’s in a South African SF film, Space Mutiny, as Flight Commander Elijah Kalgan, that’s set on a generation ship. Look actual SF! (Died 2008.)
  • Born September 7, 1955 Mira Furlan, 64. She’s best known for her role as the Minbari Ambassador Delenn on entire run of Babylon 5, and also as Danielle Rousseau on Lost, a series I did not watch. She’s reunited with Bill Mumy and Bruce Boxleitner at least briefly in Marc Zicree’s Space Command.
  • Born September 7, 1960 Christopher Villiers, 59. He was Professor Moorhouse in “Mummy on the Orient Express”, a Twelfth Doctor story. It’s one of the better tales of the very uneven Calpadi run. He’s also Sir Kay in First Knight and is an unnamed officer in From Time to Time which based on Lucy M. Boston’s The Chimneys of Green Knowe.
  • Born September 7, 1966 Toby Jones, 53. He appeared in “Amy’s Choice”, an Eleventh Doctor story, as the Dream Lord. In Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, he voiced Dobby the house elf. And in 
  • Finding Neverland, Mr. Smee, Captain Hook’s bo’sun. Guess what work that film was based on. Finally I’ll note that he was — using motion capture — Aristides Silk in The Adventures of Tintin. 
  • Born September 7, 1973 Alex Kurtzman, 46. Ok, a number of sites claim he destroyed Trek. Why the hatred for him? Mind you I’m more interested that he and Roberto Orci created the superb Fringe series, and that alone redeems them for me.
  • Born September 7, 1974 Noah Huntley, 45. He has appeared in films such as 28 Days Later, The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (excellent film), Snow White and the Huntsman (great film), Event Horizon (surely you’ve something else to do) and Dracula Untold (woo, not so great). He’s Gawain in The Mists of Avalon series and shows up as Donovan Osborn in the CW series Pandora which, I’m not kidding, got a Rotten Tomatoes zero percent approval rating. Ouch. 
  • Born September 7, 1993 Taylor Gray, 26. He’s best known for voicing Ezra Bridger on the animated Star Wars Rebels which I highly recommend if you’re into Star Wars at all as it’s most excellent.  He also played Friz Freleng in Walt Before Mickey

(9) MIGNOGNA SUIT WHITTLED DOWN. A Texas state judge delivered a setback to Vic Mignogna, who has brought suit to stifle some of the public #MeToo charges voiced against him. The Dallas News has the story: “In anime’s #MeToo moment, Vic Mignogna a no-show at Tarrant County hearing and his case is mostly an unholy mess”.

State District Judge John Chupp dismissed a number of the claims by Mignogna’s attorney and promised to rule on the remainder in the next 30 days.

…Friday was a significant milestone in a civil lawsuit brought by local anime voice actor Vic Mignogna against two of his Dallas-area colleagues, the fiance of one of the women, and a company that cut ties with him. Mignogna says their statements about his inappropriate behavior with women amount to an unfair campaign to destroy his career. His accusers say his lawsuit is aimed at silencing them.

After three hours of arguments between a tightly scripted defense team and Mignogna’s astonishingly unorganized — and at times ill-prepared and illogical — attorney, Chupp dismissed a number of the claims and promised to rule on the remainder in the next 30 days.

…January’s record-breaking opening of Broly also set off another round of accusations and stories on social media about the 56-year-old actor’s long-rumored inappropriate behavior with women — which allegedly has included aggressive kisses, hugs and unwanted sexual advances.

Online, thousands of anime fans rushed to pick a side in the warfare hashtagged #kickvic and #IStandWithVic. Mignogna repeatedly, and sometimes in great detail, denied all the allegations.

Amid the outcry, Flower Mound-based Funimation Productions, which dubs and distributes anime shows, including much of the Dragon Ball franchise, announced in February that it had severed ties with Mignogna after an internal investigation.

Mignogna’s lawsuit, filed April 18, alleged defamation, tortious interference, conspiracy and other charges against Funimation, voice actors Jamie Marchi and Monica Rial, and Rial’s fiance, Ron Toye. The lawsuit painted the company and three individuals as a band of conspirators leading the charge to reduce Mignogna to ruins.

Friday the 141st District Court’s gallery was packed with interested parties, and many of them were there to support Rial and Marchi.  But Mignogna was nowhere to be found. Perhaps that was for the best, given the often befuddled oral arguments of his Tyler-based attorney, Ty Beard….

And the many worldwide Mignogna fans who have contributed to the massive GoFundMe for his legal fees, a war chest which now stands at more than $242,000,  might well have wanted their money back if they had been in the courtroom today.

…At the end of the proceedings — which went an hour longer than the court had allocated — Chupp dismissed all claims against Marchi, all except defamation against Funimation and all except defamation and conspiracy against Rial and Toye.

Those outstanding claims are weighty ones — Funimation, Rial and Toye are still on a sharp hook. I suspect Chupp needed to give more consideration and study to each before making his ruling. Or maybe the amateurish performance of the plaintiff’s legal team had just worn on his last nerve to the point that the extremely patient judge  needed a break.

(10) A TOAST GOODBYE. Food & Wine says “An Official ‘Mr. Robot’ Beer Will Premiere Along with the Final Season”. Doesn’t it make you wonder what alcoholic beverages should have accompanied the cancellation of The Original Star Trek (Saurian brandy!) or Agent Carter (Crown Russe Vodka?).

All good things come to an end. Including TV shows. (Except maybe The Simpsons.) But for fans of USA Network’s critically-acclaimed hacker drama Mr. Robot, at least they’ll have a beer to toast when the series premieres its fourth and final season on October 6.

In an official collaboration, USA Network has enlisted New York’s Coney Island Brewery to produce fsociety IPA — a hazy IPA inspired by Mr. Robot. Though the connection between television show and branded beer can often feel tenuous, working with the Coney Island-based brand is actually an inspired choice since the beachy New York City neighborhood serves as a significant setting in the show.

(11) THE VEGETARIAN GODZILLA. “Japanese scientists find new dinosaur species”: Yahoo! has photos.

Japanese scientists have identified a new species of dinosaur from a nearly complete skeleton that was the largest ever discovered in the country, measuring eight metres (26 feet) long.

After analysing hundreds of bones dating back 72 million years, the team led by Hokkaido University concluded the skeleton once belonged to a new species of hadrosaurid dinosaur, a herbivorous beast that roamed the Earth in the late Cretaceous period.

A partial tail was first found in northern Japan in 2013 and later excavations revealed the entire skeleton.

The team named the dinosaur “Kamuysaurus japonicus,” which means “Japanese dragon god,” according to a statement issued by the university.

(12) ANOTHER CON REPORT. Emily Stein in CrimeReads offers “An Ode To Podcasts:  Dispatches From Podcon 2019” as a report from a podcasting convention in Seattle that won’t be held again because of financial trouble.

…Earlier this year, I traveled to Seattle to attend PodCon, an annual conference celebrating all things podcasts. While many kinds of podcasts were represented, PodCon has always had a special fondness for audio dramas, or fiction podcasts, and the fervent fandom they inspire. (Have I stayed up until midnight to hear the mind-blowing 50th episode of The Bright Sessions the second it dropped? Maybe! Did I co-create a Facebook group for listeners of I Am In Eskew to trade their nerdy fan theories? Who’s to say? Might I have joined a Discord server just to talk about Debbie’s mysterious notebook in King Falls AM? Yes, I might have. I did.)…

Four months after PodCon 2 came to a close, conference co-founder Hank Green announced that PodCon would not be returning. A variety of financial and logistical challenges had converged to make the event unsustainable, though Green expressed optimism that another conference might develop solutions to the issues they’d found insurmountable. As beloved as many podcasts are, in many ways, the medium is still finding its footing in today’s entertainment landscape. For every My Favorite Murder or Reply All, there’s a multitude of indie podcasts fighting for a wider audience, even as some bask in the glow of a small but fiercely loyal following—a coven of people who’ve found the same secret, whose days all light up when a new episode hits their feed.

(13) ACROSS A SEA OF PAPER. Polygon’s Isabella Kapur acquaints readers with the historic role of the fanzine Futurian War Digest: “Fandom under fire: how fanzines helped sci-fi survive the Blitz and beyond”.

…For the past six months, as part of the exhibition As If: Alternative Histories from Then to Now at The Drawing Center, a small art museum in New York City, I have explored illustration, novels, and posters as well as fanzine materials from as far back as the 1940s. Zines were hard for fans to get their hands on, as they were printed and collated in school clubs or at the dining room table, sometimes mailed out to subscribers and contributors one by one. And yet, these publications formed the backbone of what would become modern fan culture, not just a reflection of media but a reimagining of reality.

The cost of a mimeograph machine may have been high, but the cost of not talking to each other was higher — even in some of the most dire moments of the 20th century. The oldest zine included in As If is also the longest running fanzine to remain in distribution in Britain throughout the course of the second World War: Futurian War Digest, or FIDO, which printed from October 1940 until March 1945.

FIDO reviewed science fiction works and reflected on the fragile state of the fan community in the United Kingdom during wartime. The first issue of the zine, which was published and distributed less than a month after the start of the London bombing raids known as The Blitz, made a point of announcing the conscription of fan William F. Temple and the death on active duty of sci-fi enthusiast Edward Wade. These sombre announcements ran alongside musings about John Carter of Mars.

In a time of great uncertainty, publisher J. Michael Rosenblum said in the pages of FIDO that his self-avowed goal was to “a) to give news of and to fandom, b) to keep burning those bright mental constellations possessed by all fans.” The publication was created just as much to be an archive and time capsule as a source of entertainment, news, and distraction. By publishing the fanzine, Rosenblum recorded the history of a subculture of science fiction enthusiasts, and helped to keep a community that was being actively ripped apart together.

… The physical evidence of this transatlantic fan solidarity can be seen in the unusual shape and size of Futurian War Digest Vol. 1 #9, which was printed on four packages of paper donated by U.S. fan Forrest J. Ackerman. Ackerman, who became a pioneer in his own right, helped fund publications and initiatives similar to FIDO in the United States, contributing to Le Zombie fanzine. Le Zombie, which began production in December 1938, likewise included a “War Department” section which organized to provide fanzines to American fans who had enlisted, in order to help them maintain some level of connection and normalcy under the pressures of war.

(14) THE HARRYHAUSEN WE MISSED. Episode 27 of the Ray Harryhausen Podcast celebrates “Ray Harryhausen’s ‘Lost Movies'” (Part I).

The first of two podcasts exploring Ray Harryhausen’s unmade films, this episode features interviews with contributors to upcoming Titan Books publication, ‘Harryhausen: The Lost Movies’. The book examines Harryhausen’s unrealised films, including unused ideas, projects he turned down and scenes that ended up on the cutting room floor. This book includes never-been-seen-before artwork, sketches, photos and test footage from the Harryhausen Foundation archives.

(15) FAMILIAR FACE. Hayley Atwood will be in the next Mission: Impossible film. More details in The Hollywood Reporter.

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@wellhayley Should you choose to accept…

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

Pixel Scroll 9/7/18 Pixel Yourself On A Spinning Space Station, With Alien Porters With Arthropod Eyes

(1) HAPPENS TO THE BEST OF US. Kristine Kathryn Rusch writes about battling website and ISP) problems in “Business Musings: Website Issues”. The post begins —

It’s tough to write my blog when my website is down…for the second time in two weeks. Both times had nothing to do with me and everything to do with the website hosting service, which is so monumentally incompetent that I’m speechless.

I learned a lesson during this incident. A big important lesson.

And it ends —

…And as I (and the kind folks at WMG) rebuild, we will be doing so with an eye to a 2018 website, not a 2010 website. We’ll make information easy to find. The weekly features will remain as well.

It’s going to take a bit of time, but it was something I needed to do. Bluehost forced me into it.

They also taught me a valuable lesson. Every few years, I need to re-evaluate every service that I hire to help with my business, not just to see if the service is doing well, but also to make sure the service itself is the same company that I hired a few years before.

Things change quickly in this modern world, and I really need to incorporate that awareness of change into my own business planning…

In between, Rusch explains how she learned the lesson the hard way.

(2) ABOUT GRIMDARK. Paul Weimer analyzes “The Fugue of Fantasy and the Grimdark Interregnum” at Nerds of a Feather.

…In the history of epic fantasy, following this analogy and paradigm, there has always been a voice in a minor key, a strain of fantasy with antiheroes, shades of dark grey and darkness, worlds where hope and optimism are not valued or are even punished. Violence is the name of the game, dystopic amorality the norm and the worlds are often the successor states or the  ruins of another, brighter time. The classical Western European model of the first few centuries after Rome fell is the historical ur-model, and indeed, many novels use thinly disguised or even explicitly set in that time period. The latest iteration of this minor-key fantasy, which had in recent years become a dominant theme in epic fantasy, is what we call Grimdark….

(3) EATING THE FANTASTIC. Scott Edelman invites you to share a steak dinner with legendary comics creator Don McGregor in episode 76 of the Eating the Fantastic podcast.

I reached out to Dauntless Don — we all had nicknames back them; he was Dauntless, I was Sparkling — and said, hey, how about if when I’m on the way back to the airport at the end of Readercon, I swoop down, take you out for dinner, and we chew over the old times. And that’s exactly what we did, at the Safehouse in East Greenwich, Rhode Island, along with Dauntless Don’s wife, the Marvelous Marsha, whose voice you’ll occasionally hear in the background of this episode.

Don started out his career in comics by writing some of the best horror stories to appear in the pages of Creepy and Eerie — and I remember well reading the first of them in the early ’70s. When he moved on to Marvel Comics, he did groundbreaking work with such characters as Black Panther, Killraven, and Luke Cage. In fact, his two-year “Panther’s Rage” arc was ranked as the third most important Marvel Comics storyline of the ’70s by Comics Bulletin. In 2015, he was awarded the Bill Finger Award for Excellence in Comic Book Writing at San Diego Comic-Con International.

We discussed how meeting Jim Steranko led to him selling his first comics story, why when he was 13 years old, he wanted to be Efrem Zimbalist Jr., what he learned from Naked City creator Stirling Silliphant, how his first meeting with future Black Panther artist Billy Graham could have been disastrous, why the comics he wrote in the ’70s wouldn’t have been able to exist two years later, the reasons Archie Goodwin was such a great editor, how he convinced Stan Lee to allow the first interracial kiss in mainstream comics, what life lessons he took from Westerns in general and Hopalong Cassidy in particular, why he almost stopped writing Lady Rawhide, and much more.

(4) ALIEN ENCOUNTER NUMBER CRUNCHING. James Davis Nicoll discourages the idea that we’ll be meeting aliens in reality: “Doing the Math: Aliens and Advanced Tech in Science Fiction”. After reading Liu Cixin’s Three-Body Problem, maybe that’s a relief?

Everyone loves them some aliens. But …if the encounter is to work out to the satisfaction of all concerned, it is best if the aliens not be too advanced (because they could brush us aside like ants) or too primitive (we might brush them aside like ants). No, there’s a Goldilocks zone for aliens, in which they are close to the same tech level as humans … and can interact peaceably with us.

Which leads me to wonder: just how likely is it that two unconnected civilizations could reach the same technological level (roughly) at the same time?

Time for some large, round numbers….

(5) EXCEEDING THE READ LIMIT. Walter Mosley declares, “Enough with the Victors Writing History”, at LitHub.

I have studied the great powers that vie to control what they want us to believe about the past; but I don’t identify with them. I identify with the librarians who, when asked by GW Bush to report on their visitors’ reading habits, held up a hand and said, “First Amendment.” I identify with outsider artists and labor organizers and autodidacts who either refuse to or are unable to believe in the lies foisted upon us by the conquerors. I identify with the belief that there exists a history out there just beyond the reach of our powers of cognition. And I believe that a lie is a lie; that if you coexist with a population that helped to build your house, your culture, your music, a population that helped to raise your children and fine-tune your language, and you deny that culture’s impact on who you are… then your knowledge of history will fail you and the past will devour you and your children.

If you deny your past your future will be a detour around your fondest hopes and dreams…

Daniel Dern sent the link with a note, “While best known for his detective fiction, Mosley has written a handful of sf… and is a big sf fan… I’ve got a photo from Millennial PhilCon (Worldcon 2001) of him and Orson Scott Card, just after they met and near-simultaneously said to the other ‘I’m a huge fan.’”

(6) WOMBAT TO RETURN TO ALBUQUERQUE. Kevin Sonney boosts the signal –

(7) A MARTIAN ODYSSEY. Chabeli Herrera in the Orlando Sentinel reports that the Kennedy Space Center has opened up the Astronaut Training Experience, which simulates a trip to Mars by having visitors “strap onto a microgravity simulator: and then carry out a repair on the space station.  There’s also a simulation of Mars Base 1, where visitors can “work together to solve various technical problems” including “programming a team of robots to clean dust off the base’s solar panels.” — “Like real astronaut training, Kennedy Space Center’s new simulators let you work in zero gravity, drive Mars rover”.

Like a scene from “The Martian,” the botany lab in Mars Base 1 at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex grows vegetables under the glow of fluorescent purple lights.

But it’s not all potatoes like in the 2015 film. This room can grow anything from cress to tomatoes, and all of the crops are planted and harvested by guests playing astronaut for the day.

The botany room is one of several new features at Kennedy Space Center’s Astronaut Training Experience Center, a two-year project designed to simulate astronaut training and work on Mars. The attraction opened in February, but officials gathered Thursday to officially kick off the opening of the ATX with representatives from its sponsor, aerospace company Lockheed Martin.

(8) SPEAK MEMORY. Hear the Harlan Ellison Memorial Panel at Worldcon 76:

(9) SHELLEY OBIT. Actress Carole Shelley (1939-2018), who appeared on stage in The Odd Couple and Wicked, and voiced characters in the Disney animated movies The Aristocats (1970) and Robin Hood (1973), died August 31 reports the New York Times:

A new generation of theatergoers knew Ms. Shelley for originating a less sympathetic character in the musical “Wicked,” a prequel of sorts to L. Frank Baum’s novel “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.”

The show opened in 2003 with Kristin Chenoweth as Glinda, the putatively good witch, and Idina Menzel as Elphaba, who becomes the Wicked Witch of the West. (“Wicked” was still running on Broadway, with a different cast, when Ms. Shelley died.)

Ms. Shelley played Madame Morrible, a college official who pairs Glinda and Elphaba as roommates. She later helps arrange a series of events that push Elphaba toward wickedness.

(10) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • September 7, 1958  — Queen of Outer Space premiered.
  • September 7, 2017 – Jerry Pournelle died. Cat Eldridge notes: “Author, The Mote in God’s Eye with Larry Niven, numerous other works including the Janissary series, and superb tech commentary writer as well. His Byte column was something I very much looked forward to reading every month.”

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born September 7 – Karen Frenkel, 63. Author, Robots: Machines in Man’s Image (1985) with Isaac Asimov. Available on her website.

(12) COMICS SECTION.

  • A Hollywood in-joke you’ll all get – Long Story Short.
  • Scene from a comic con by Nigel Auchterlounie —

(13) HIGH CONCEPT. This December in Infinity Wars: Fallen Guardian #1.

(14) CATS IN THE VICINITY OF SFF. David D. Levine made a fan —

(15) ONE RING TO RULE THEM ALL. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] Data from the Chandra X-ray telescope has been combined with optical data to image a distant galaxy that seems to be encircled by black holes and/or neutron stars (International Business Times: “Ring Made Of Black Holes? Massive Cosmic Structure Found Encircling Distant Galaxy”). Galaxy AM 0644-741 was involved in a recent (astronomically speaking) collision with another galaxy that boosted star formation. The most massive of those stars had a very short life and have since gone supernova, leaving behind black holes and neutron stars.

Out of the newborn baby stars, the most massive ones probably led a short life, spanning on the scale of millions of years. They lost their nuclear fuel with time and exploded as supernovae, where the majority of the stellar material is blown away, leaving black holes 5 to 20 times heavier than the sun or dense neutron stars carrying approximately same mass as the sun.

This indicates the ring is either made from stellar-mass black holes or neutron stars that are accompanied by close companion stars. The dense objects are drawing gas from their stellar counterparts, forming a super-hot spinning disk which acts as a detectable X-ray source for Chandra.

Though the researchers behind the discovery — a team from INAF-Osservatorio Astronomico di Brera, Italy — couldn’t confirm the identity of individual sources making up the ring, they believe this could either be a case of all black holes or all neutron stars, or a mix of both.

The NASA website (“Cosmic Collision Forges Galactic One Ring—in X-rays”) that AM 0644-741 is only one of several galaxies with such X-ray rings and adds a link to the pre-print article on the arXiv service.

The paper describing the study of AM 0644 and its sister ring galaxies appeared in the August 10, 2018 issue of the Astrophysical Journal and is available online. The co-authors of the paper are Antonella Fruscione from the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in Cambridge, Mass., and Michela Mapelli from INAF-Osservatorio Astronomico di Padova in Padova, Italy.

(16) PULPFEST DATES IN 2019. The dates for PulpFest 2019 are the same weekend at the Dublin 2019 Worldcon but that may not represent an actual conflict for more than a few fans.

PulpFest 2019 will take place from Thursday, August 15, through Sunday, August 18. We’ll be returning to the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Pittsburgh – Cranberry, just north of Pennsylvania’s “Steel City.” PulpFest will be joined by FarmerCon. Hopefully, they’re not too hung over from this year’s Philip José Farmer centennial.

Start making your plans for the 48th convening of PulpFest and its celebration of mystery, adventure, science fiction, and more. Join us for “Children of the Pulps and Other Stories” at “Summer’s Great Pulp Con.” Please bring your friends!

(17) ALMOST. James Davis Nicoll credits John Varley for showing us “How to Make a Near-Utopia Interesting: John Varley’s Eight World Stories” at Tor.com.

Peace and prosperity sound like they’re good things, but perhaps not for authors. What kind of plots can be imagined if the standard plot drivers are off the table? How does one tell stories in a setting that, while not a utopia, can see utopia at a distance ? The premise seems unpromising, but thirteen stories and a novel argue that one can write absorbing narratives in just such a setting. So how did Varley square this particular circle?

(18) AN OSCAR ON HOLD. About that new “popular film” Oscar? Like the Magic Eight-Ball says – “Ask again later” — “Oscars postpone plans for new popular film category”.

…The award, which could have recognised films popular with audiences but not critics, was only announced last month.

In a statement, the Academy’s CEO said she had “recognised the need for further discussion” with its members about the proposal first.

…In previous years, films which have done well at the box office with audiences – including Mamma Mia, Avatar and the Mission Impossible franchise – have been snubbed by the Academy.

The Oscars’ organisers did not elaborate in their August announcement how eligibility for the new category would have been established.

Some Hollywood critics suggested the new category’s “popular” tag was confusing and could risk creating a two-tier system among films.

It was feared films praised by critics and audiences alike, such as Dunkirk and Get Out, would risk being relegated to the new category rather than standing a chance in the prestigious Best Film award category.

(19) MORE RUBY SLIPPER NEWS. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] Smithsonian has a little more info, including how the recovered shoes were authenticated, as well as more info about the ownership of this pair and the others pairs still extant: “After 13-Year Chase, F.B.I. Nabs Pair of Dorothy’s Ruby Slippers”.

…The slippers, it turns out, were not actually owned by the Judy Garland Museum. Instead, they were property of a collector named Michael Shaw, who purchased them in 1970 for a mere $2,000, reports Jennifer Medina for The New York Times. Shaw, who also owns one of Dorothy’s dresses, a witch’s hat and a munchkin outfit from the 1939 movie, was in the habit of loaning out the slippers to museums around the country, donating his display fee to children’s charities. The slippers were on display as part of a 10-week traveling tour when they were stolen on the night of August 28. According to a press release from the Grand Rapids police, a thief or thieves broke into the museum’s back door and smashed open the plexiglass case. There were no cameras on the premises and the museum’s alarm failed to sound.

…After the shoes were apprehended, the F.B.I. brought them to the Smithsonian, which owns another pair of slippers used in the filming, to confirm their ruby slippers were the real deal. For the last two years, Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History has been analyzing and conserving a different pair of slippers donated to the museum in the late 1970s as part of a Kickstarter campaign. The F.B.I. brought the purloined pair to objects conservator Dawn Wallace for a look.

“We were able to spend two days looking at them and doing close examination as well as some analysis,” Wallace tells Smithsonian.com. “Not only did we have a physical examination, but we were able to conduct some technical analysis of the material to confirm that they were in fact consistent.”

Wallace says two other details cinched the case: First, it’s difficult to fake 80 years of aging on a pair of shoes. Second, the pair in the Smithsonian’s collection is actually a mismatched pair of ruby slippers, with the left sized “5C” and the right sized “5BC.” The pair recovered by the F.B.I. turned out to be the mates of the museum’s shoes (which are set to go back on display in a climate-controlled case on October 19)….

Since Mr. Shaw had received an $800,000 insurance settlement quite some time ago, the shoes belong to the insurance company now.

(20) FOYLES SOLD:BBC reports “Waterstones buys Foyles to defend bookshops against Amazon” – the Foyles Charing Cross Road location hosted this year’s Clarke Award announcement.

Waterstones is buying the 115 year-old family-owned chain Foyles, saying the deal will help to “champion” real bookshops in the face of online rivals.

The sale includes Foyles’ well-known Charing Cross Road store in central London, which was relocated to larger premises in 2014.

Waterstones said the deal would help booksellers fight back against Amazon’s “siren call”.

The larger chain has 283 bookshops across the UK and northern Europe.

[Thanks to Scott Edelman, Mike Kennedy, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Cat Eldridge, Chip Hitchcock, Martin Morse Wooster, James Davis Nicoll, Carl Slaughter, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day jayn.]

Pixel Scroll 2/2/16 A Spoonful Of Pixels Helps The Medicine Scroll Down

(1) ALTERNATIVE FUTURISM AT UCR. Despite everything else that’s happened to sf studies there, the sun still rose over Riverside this morning and the University of California Riverside announced new events in its continuing Alternative Futurisms Series. The series is funded by a $175,000 Sawyer Seminar grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

Authors Daniel José Older and Walter Mosley will speak on Wednesday, Feb. 3, followed on March 3 by a panel of award-winning authors discussing the expectations of science fiction and fantasy produced by Caribbean writers….

“Throughout 2015-2016, the Sawyer Seminar on Alternative Futurisms is helping to build bridges amongst the various zones of scholarship and creation in people-of-color futurisms and fantastical narratives,” said Nalo Hopkinson, co-organizer of the yearlong seminar, a professor of creative writing and an award-winning author of science fiction and fantasy. “Following a successful fall quarter, which included a conference, film screenings and panel discussions, the winter quarter is focusing on creators of people-of-color science fiction and fantasy.”

… “The Sawyer Seminar has brought together faculty, students and the larger community around the important question of imagining a diverse future,” said Milagros Peña, dean of the College of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences (CHASS). “I am proud of CHASS’s continuing commitment to science fiction studies.”

Events scheduled this month and in the spring include:

Thursday, March 3, 3:30 p.m. Interdisciplinary 1113 – Panel discussion on Caribbean science fiction and fantasy. Panelists are: with Karen Lord, an award-winning Barbadian author (“Redemption in Indigo,” “The Best of All Possible Worlds”) and research consultant; Karin Lowachee, an award-winning author (“Warchild,” “Cagebird”) who was born in South America, grew up in Canada, and worked in the Arctic; Nalo Hopkinson, award-winning author (“Midnight Robber,” “Falling in Love With Hominids”) who was born in Jamaica and teaches creative writing at UCR with a focus on the literatures of the fantastic such as science fiction, fantasy and magical realism; and Tobias Buckell, a best-selling author who grew up in Grenada and whose work (the “Xenowealth” series, “Hurricane Fever”) has been nominated for numerous awards.

Monday, April 11, 4 p.m. (location tbd) – Readings by Ted Chiang, whose work (“Tower of Babylon,” “Exhalation,” “The Lifecycle of Software Objects”) has won numerous awards; and Charles Yu, whose debut novel “How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe” was a runner-up for the Campbell Memorial Award.

(2) EARTHSEA OF GREEN. The Kickstarter appeal for Worlds of Ursula K. Le Guin raised its target amount of $80,000 on the very first day. A total of $83,268 has been pledged by 1,164 backers as of this writing.

(3) RABID PUPPIES. Vox Day’s daily slate revelation was “Rabid Puppies 2016: Best Fan Artist”, with picks Karezoid, rgus, Matthew Callahan, Disse86, and Darkcloud013.

(4) DAY VERSUS DAVIDSON. Vox Day also reacted to Steve Davidson’s attempt to get Andy Weir to repudiate slates: “SJW attempts to block Weir nomination”.

As for why I did not recommend Mr. Weir as Best New Writer last year, it was for a very simple and straightforward reason. I had not read his novel. Unlike so many of the SJWs, I do not recommend novels I have not read, writers whose books I have not read, or artists whose work I have not seen. Those who have not brought their works to my attention have only themselves, and their publishers to blame, if I remain unfamiliar with them. I am but a mere superintelligence, I am not omniscient.

It is perhaps worth noting, again, that I do not care in the least what a writer or an artist happens to think about being recommended; die Gedanken sind frei. People can recuse themselves, publicly repudiate, or virtue-signal, or perform interpretive dance to express the depth of their feelings about Rabid Puppies. It makes no difference to me.

That being said, it appears Marc Miller is not eligible for Best New Writer despite having published his debut novel in 2015. I shall have to revisit that category at a later date.

Although it really doesn’t have any implications for the current discussion, it’s an interesting bit of trivia that Bryan Thomas Schmidt, who was on both the Sad and Rabid slates last year as a short fiction editor, was the person who edited Weir’s novel The Martian.

(5) BIGGER ISSUE. David J. Peterson argues that Puppy drama is overshadowing a really important issue – the lack of a YA Hugo.

No, to my mind the real injustice in the Hugo Awards is the lack of a separate award for YA fiction. More than anywhere else, YA is drawing new readers to science-fiction and fantasy. Yes, right now HBO’s Game of Thrones is huge, and it’s based on a very adult series of fantasy novels by George R. R. Martin, but beyond, what else is big—and I mean big big—in SFF? A few series come to mind: Harry Potter, The Hunger Games, Divergent, The Mortal Instruments. I’m sure you can think of others (oh, duh, Twilight, whatever you think of it). All of these are very successful YA series (all by female authors, incidentally), and all of them have been made into movies that range from moderately successful, to wildly, outrageously successful. Generally, though, unless it’s world-shatteringly successful, YA novels don’t stand a chance of being nominated for a Hugo, let alone winning (of all the books listed above, only two were nominated for best novel—Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban and Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire—with the latter winning)….

Writing YA fiction is a different endeavor than writing adult fiction. There are different rules in play; a different audience to consider. It’s a different approach altogether. Different. Not better. Not worse. But different. Think of your favorite YA novel and your favorite adult novel (two that jump to mind immediately for me are Matilda and The Great Gatsby). Can you rank one over the other? I can’t. It’s not because I can’t decide which one is better: It’s because they’re not even playing by the same rules….

And that’s my point with YA and the Hugos. YA is underrepresented, but it’s not because readers are ignoring it or anything like that: It’s because it’s competing in a category it shouldn’t be. Right now, enormous YA works are grabbing new readers by the truckload and essentially delivering them into SFF fandom, but they don’t have a seat at the table. This is an issue that has been raised before, but I think the whole Sad Puppy thing has really shoved it to the side, and that, to me, is a real shame.

(6) SEEKS LOVE. Meantime, James Troughton just cuts to the chase —

(7) FINDS LOVE. Congratulations Laura Resnick on the film option offered on one of your romance novels!

The deposit has cleared, which means it’s time to announce: I’ve been offered a film option deal for my romance novel, FALLEN FROM GRACE. This means I’ve licensed the right for a filmmaker to apply for development money from (of all things) the National Film Board in South Africa (where the story would be relocated and the movie made, if it’s made). It’s a multi-stage process and may never get beyond this point (or may never get beyond the next point, “development,” etc.), but I’m still excited. I’ve had an initial approach 2-3 times before about film adaptations (though not for this book), but no one has ever before pursued it beyond the initial “are these rights available?”

(8) BLUE TWO. The New Zealand Herald reports “First Avatar sequel to start shooting in NZ this April”.

The follow-up to the blockbuster hit Avatar will start production in New Zealand this year.

Director James Cameron is set to start filming the first of three Avatar sequels in April, which are scheduled to be released one year after the other.

The first sequel was supposed to come out in cinemas later this year, but delays have forced the release date to the end of 2017.

According to My Entertainment World, the film will start shooting in California’s Manhattan Beach and New Zealand.

The website also reveals the premise for the film, saying “Jake Sully (Sam Worthington) permanently transfers his consciousness to his Na’vi avatar and begins a new life with Princess Neytiri (Zoe Saldana) after they defeat the human colonisers.”

(9) DRAWERS IN A MANUSCRIPT. M. Harold Page recommends a book about period costumes at Black Gate: “Pulp-era Gumshoes and Queen Victoria’s Underwear: Stitches in Time: The Story of the Clothes We Wear by Lucy Addlington”.

It puts us in the shoes (and unmentionables) of the people we read about — the Pulp-era gumshoes and flappers, the Victorian Steam Punk inventors, the swashbuckling musketeers. They all feel a bit more real when we know how they dress in the morning, how they manage the call of nature, what fashion bloopers they worry about, how their clothes force them to walk or sit.

It also helps us decode some of the nuances. For example, men’s shirts were actually regarded as underwear until well past the Victorian period. If you took off your jacket, you’d immediately don a dressing gown. To be in your shirtsleeves was to be not entirely decent. The color of your shirt reflected your class and… and it’s a rabbit hole of nuance and snobbery. You just have to read it.

(10) X-FILES. If you’re in the market for a spoiler-filled recap of the latest X-Files episode, click Mashable’s “’The X-Files’ Episode 3 was a silly hour of TV that couldn’t have been better”.

(11) TOO MUCH LAVA. Open Culture today highlighted this eight-minute animation of the destruction of Pompeii from 2013. Well worth the eight minutes.

A good disaster story never fails to fascinate — and, given that it actually happened, the story of Pompeii especially so. Buried and thus frozen in time by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD, the ancient Roman town of 11,000 has provided an object of great historical interest ever since its rediscovery in 1599. Baths, houses, tools and other possessions (including plenty of wine bottles), frescoes, graffiti, an ampitheater, an aqueduct, the “Villa of the Mysteries“: Pompeii has it all, as far as the stuff of first-century Roman life goes.

 

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, and JJ for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 commenter of the day IanP.]

Walter Mosley… And Arthur C. Clarke

Walter Mosley

Walter Mosley

By James H. Burns: I’d like to think I would have gotten a kick out of this item in Sunday’s New York Post, even if sports media columnist Phil Mushnick hadn’t quoted me in his column, in the same edition! But my ego aside…  On Sundays, the Post runs a nice feature, entitled “In My Library.” Sunday’s celebrant Walter Mosley led off his four choices with Arthur C. Clarke’s The City and the Stars, saying:

I forget exactly when he wrote it, but this is one of Clarke’s first books and it’s brilliant. He had the whole history of the human race in his mind, then projected a million years into the future. The writing’s beautiful, but the ability to see the future? That’s extraordinary. His was a spectacular imagination. As a novelist, that gave me hope.

Mosley’s other three selected books (in the article by Barbara Hoffman), were One Hundred Years of Solitude by?Gabriel García Márquez, The Principles of History by?R.G. Collingwood, and The Third Policeman by?Flann O’Brien.