Pixel Scroll 12/3/21 Galaxies In My Trousers Like A Scroll In My Pixel!

(1) INTRUDER ALERT. A week ago, Canadian sff writer Candas Jane Dorsey came home and discovered a break-in in progress. The police were called. All of what happened next is in this Facebook post.

Last Thursday we had a lovely dinner out with our friend Jane B., and came home to do some more work, and just as I was getting ready for bed I heard some thumping and then the alarm went off, saying there was an issue in the basement. Timothy went outside to look through the windows and there was indeed an intruder, who turned and pointed something black at him. Was it a gun? In Canada, that’s not common, though the police have been finding more guns among the criminals in town, so… Anyway, it looked like maybe…

Police were already being called, but adding the words “he might have a gun” rather sharpened the response time–and the scale of the response. Soon we were waiting up on the second floor while SWAT tactical vehicles and people with guns (I was going to say “guys with guns” but there was no way of knowing if they were guy-guys or generic-guys so I’m going with people, or police officers) and Colt Carbines and other people in squad cars and other people in unmarked white SUVs blocked streets and surrounded our house, and the police helicopter looked down on us with infrared scopes, and it was Uncle Tom Cobbley and all around here for the next nine hours, as the intruder hunkered down and refused to come out….

(2) DIAGRAM PRIZE WINNER. The Guardian reports Is Superman Circumcised? wins oddest book title of the year award”

The Diagram prize, which is run by The Bookseller magazine and voted for by the public, pitted six titles against each other this year, from Curves for the Mathematically Curious to Hats: A Very Unnatural History. Despite competition from second-placed The Life Cycle of Russian Things: From Fish Guts to Fabergé, Is Superman Circumcised? took 51% of the public vote to win the award. More than 11,000 people cast a vote in this year’s competition.

The title, which follows in the footsteps of former winners including How to Avoid Huge Ships and The Big Book of Lesbian Horse Stories, sees author Roy Schwartz explore the creation of the “Mensch of Steel” by Jewish immigrants Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster. Schwartz argues that Superman’s origin story is based “on Moses, his strength on Samson, his mission on the golem, and his nebbish secret identity on themselves”, and that Krypton’s society is based on Jewish culture.

(3) FIVE BEST. Adam Roberts picks “Five of the best science fiction and fantasy books of 2021” in the Guardian. First on the list:

Far from the Light of Heaven
by Tade Thompson (Orbit)
Space is vast but spaceships are by nature claustrophobic: Thompson plays cannily on that contrast. Passengers aboard the starship Ragtime are in suspended animation on their way to the distant planet Bloodroot, but 30 people have been murdered in their sleep. Thompson’s tale is cleverly plotted and tensely told as the investigating captain must work against her own crew, bio-contagion, violent robots and a demonic AI to uncover the murderer’s identity. The book does more than the description “locked-room mystery in space” suggests: not only wrong-footing the reader as its mystery unfolds, but creating a series of believable, compelling worlds with some genuinely alien aliens.

(4) BEAR MEDICAL UPDATE. Elizabeth Bear posted a public “cancer stuff update” on her Livejournal.

Just wanted to check in and let you all know that things are finally moving again here. I got some good news on Monday, which is to say that my oncotype came back and there’s no indication that chemo will reduce the chances of a recurrence, so I am off the hook for that (and enormously relieved, honestly). And the Infamous Seroma has healed enough that unless there’s some kind of additional complication, I will FINALLY be having my radiation setup, CT, and simulation on Monday morning….

(5) PRIME TIME FOR KIWI SFF. The Aotearoa New Zealand Festival of the Arts, happening in Wellington next February/March, has numerous items of genre interest. SFFANZ News compiled this list of links:  

(6) NFT ABUSE OVERWHELMS ARTISTS. Artists are burdened by having to generate DMCA takedown notices to keep their work from being thieved by NFT creators.

(7) ASIMOV RARITIES. Heritage Auctions has a set of the Gnome Press edition of the Foundation Trilogy on the block right now (Lot #45145). These books were published in 1951-1953. The bidding is up to $6,250.

(8) FIRST FANDOM ANNUAL 2021. Now available is the fanhistory tribute volume Remembering Erle M. Korshak (1923-2021) edited by John L. Coker III and Jon D. Swartz.

This is a tribute to legendary SF enthusiast Erle Melvin Korshak, remembered as a renowned book-seller, conventioneer, art collector and publisher. In several conversations, Erle recalls the early days of fandom, the first two worldcons, publishing articles in fanzines and the pulps, and some friends he made along the way. A new article about the history of Shasta Publishers is accompanied by Erle’s reflections on his days as a pioneering specialty press book publisher.

Other highlights include appreciations by several of Erle’s long-time friends, a gallery of First Fandom photos and an 8-page bibliography prepared by SF historian Christopher M. O’Brien.

60 pages, limited ed. (50 #’d copies) Laser printed on 28# quality paper Photographs and interior illustrations Gloss covers, 81?2 x 11, saddle-stitched. To order, send a check for $35 payable to John L. Coker III (includes packing, USPS Priority Mail, insurance, and tracking) to John at 4813 Lighthouse Road, Orlando, FL – 32808.

(9) ELIGIBILITY, YOU KNOW. Tor.com would not want you to overlook “All of Tor.com’s Original Short Fiction Published in 2021” which is linked from this post.

Since launching in 2008, Tor.com’s short fiction program has been producing touching, funny, and thought-provoking stories, and this year was no different! In 2021, we published 15 original short stories, another 15 novelettes, plus one novella. These ran the gamut from hard science fiction to epic fantasy, from horror to dystopia, from fairy tales to space opera. We’ve rounded them all up below…

(10) RETELLINGS CONSIDERED. In the Rite Gud podcast, Raquel S. Benedict contends a popular story form has some shortcomings: “#Girlboss: The Problem With ‘Feminist’ Fairytale Adaptations”.

We like folklore, and we like feminism. So why not combine them? A lot of writers do. Feminist retellings of old fairy tales are very popular. We have girlboss Cinderella starting her own business, rebellious Belle teaching girls to read in Beauty and the Beast, Snow White leading an army into battle. And why not? What’s wrong with updating folklore for a more enlightened age? We all like to see strong women kicking ass, don’t we?

But sometimes, despite our good intentions, these updates lose something in translation.

(11) MEMORY LANE.

2007 [Item by Cat Eldridge.] Fourteen years ago, The Demon Barber of Fleet Street premiered. It was directed by Tim Burton. It is an adaptation of Stephen Sondheim and Hugh Wheeler’s Tony Award-winning 1979 musical of the same name. In turn it is obviously based off of the Victorian Penny dreadful Sweeney Todd, the Demon Barber of Fleet Street. It starred Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham Carter, Alan Rickman, Timothy Spall and Sacha Baron Cohen. Critics really like it with the Christian Science Monitor saying “A considerable achievement even if, on balance, it’s more of a Tim Burton phantasmagoria than a Sondheim fantasia.” And the Independent declared that “Relentlessly morose and courageously just, Tim Burton’s “Sweeney Todd” is a maniacal near masterpiece.” It was a box office success making two hundred million on a budget of fifty million. And audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes currently give it a superb eighty-one percent. 

(12) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born December 3, 1918 Polly Freas. Fan and wife of SFF artist Frank Kelly Freas with whom she had three children; she was much loved in fandom. She and Kelly co-edited Wonderworks: Science Fiction and Fantasy Art by Michael Whalen, which was a Hugo finalist for Best Nonfiction Book. She was Guest of Honor at numerous conventions, and was given a Special Award by Southern Fandom. (Died 1987.)
  • Born December 3, 1922 Donald H. Tuck. Engineer, Writer, Editor, and Fan from Tasmania, Australia who discovered SF very young. By the time he was 18, he had co-edited three issues of the fanzine Profan, which included author bios and bibliographies. Considering the logistical difficulties of the time in terms of communication by snail mail – especially given the added difficulty due to WWII and the distance of Australia from the U.S. – his feat in amassing a huge collection, and a file of index cards with the details of hundreds of SFF works, was impressive. In 1954, he collected those index cards into A Handbook of Science Fiction and Fantasy, a 151-page bibliography of the field; in 1959 he released a greatly-expanded and updated version, at 396 pages. He was given a Worldcon Special Award for this work. He continued to refine this over the years, and in 1974 produced the first volume of The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction and Fantasy through 1968: Who’s Who, for surnames starting A to L, followed four years later by Volume 2, for M to Z, and was recognized for this work with a World Fantasy Special Award. The third volume, a bibliography to accompany the two-volume encyclopedia of authors, editors, and artists, won a Hugo Award. He was to be Guest of Honor at the first Australian Worldcon; when he couldn’t attend, a group of fans went to visit him at his home. In 1985, he was given Fandom’s Big Heart Award. (Died 2010.)
  • Born December 3, 1937 Morgan Llywelyn, 84. Writer and Equestrian born in the U.S. who, after missing out on the Olympic dressage team by a minuscule fraction of a percentage point, turned to researching her Irish roots, and began to write historical fantasy, fiction, and nonfiction based on Celtic history and traditions. After her husband’s untimely early death, she moved to Ireland and is now a citizen residing near Dublin. Her first genre novel, Lion of Ireland, was nominated for a Mythopoeic Award. Her short genre fiction has been published in the collection The Earth Is Made of Stardust.
  • Born December 3, 1949 Malcolm Edwards, 72. Writer, Editor, and Critic from England who is considered one of the field’s great editors. Early in his career, he joined the British Science Fiction Association, and served as editor of its journal Vector. He was extremely active in British fandom in the 60s and 70s, producing several fanzines, and was one of the co-founders of the semiprozine Interzone. In the 80s, he co-wrote several SFF nonfiction reference works. His work has influenced many fans’ reading: as SF editor for Gollancz, he launched the SF Masterworks series. He was Deputy CEO of the Orion Publishing Group until 2019. Although he is best known as an editor, his short story “After-Images” won a British Science Fiction Award, and has been included in five different anthologies. He was Guest of Honor at Worldcon in London in 2014.
  • Born December 3, 1958 Terri Windling, 63. Author of The Wood Wife, winner of the Mythopoeic Award for Novel of the Year. She has deservedly won has won nine World Fantasy Awards, the Mythopoeic Fantasy Award, and the Bram Stoker Award. The Armless Maiden collection was on the short-list for the then-named James Tiptree, Jr. Award. Along with Ellen Datlow, Windling edited sixteen volumes of the Year’s Best Fantasy and Horror  from 1986–2003. (Yes, the first volume is actually called Year’s Best Fantasy. I do have a full set here so I know that.) She is one of the core creative forces behind the mythic fiction emergence that began in the early Eighties through her work as an editor for the Ace and Tor Books fantasy lines, and they also edited a number of anthologies such as the superb Snow White, Blood Red series which collected the very best in contemporary fantasy. These are available at the usual suspects at very reasonable prices. I’m very fond of her work with Illustrator Wendy Froud, wife of Brian Froud, on the Old Oak Wood series about faeries living in the Old Oak Wood.  She interviewed one of them, Sneezlewort Rootmuster Rowanberry Boggs the Seventh, for Green Man here.
  • Born December 3, 1960 Daryl Hannah, 61. She made her genre debut in Brian De Palma’s The Fury, though she’s better known as Pris in Blade Runner. And she was the mermaid Madison in Splash. In a decidedly unfashionable role, she was Ayala in The Clan of The Cave Bear before being Mary Plunkett Brogan in High Spirits where she was nominated for a Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Supporting Actress. Was she really that bad in it? Her last genre role I think was in the Sense8 series as Angelica Turing, though she had a cameo as herself in this year’s Cosmic Radio.
  • Born December 3, 1968 Brendan Fraser, 53. The Mummy and The Mummy Returns are enough to get him Birthday Honors. (Let’s not mention the third Mummy film.) Though he’s been in Monkeybone based on Kaja Blackley’s graphic novel Dark TownSinbad: Beyond the Veil of MistsLooney Tunes: Back in ActionJourney to the Center of the EarthG.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra and being Robotman on the Doom Patrol series that now airs on HBO Max.
  • Born December 3, 1985 Amanda Seyfried, 36. She play Ed Zoe, the lead Megan’s best friend in Solstice, a horror film. Another horror film, Jennifer’s Body, shortly thereafter, finds here playing Anita “Needy” Lesnicki. Red Riding Hood, yes, another horror film, had her cast has as Valerie. She plays Sylvia Weis, a role within In Time in a dystopian SF film next and voices Mary Katherine, Professor Bomba’s 17-year-old daughter in Epic which is at genre adjacent. She’s Mary in an animated Pan, a prequel to Peter Pan which sounds delightful. Lastly, she has a recurring role as Becky Burnett on Twin Peaks. And did we decide Veronica Mars was at least genre adjacent? If so, she has a recurring role as Mary on it. 

(13) COMICS SECTION.

  • Bizarro shows why you don’t let psychiatrists interview your favorite cartoon characters.

(14) KGB. Fantastic Fiction at KGB reading series hosts Ellen Datlow and Matthew Kressel present N.K. Jemisin and David Leo Rice at the KGB Bar on Wednesday, December 15 at 7:00 p.m. EDT. (Proof of COVID-19 vaccination is required to enter the KGB Bar. Face masks required when not seated.)

N. K. Jemisin

N. K. Jemisin is a New York Times-bestselling author of speculative fiction short stories and novels. In 2018, she became the first author to win three Best Novel Hugos in a row, for the Broken Earth trilogy, currently in film development. She has also won a Nebula Award, two Locus Awards, and is a recipient of the MacArthur “Genius” Fellowship.

David Leo Rice

David Leo Rice is an author from Northampton, MA, currently living in NYC. His books include A Room in Dodge City, A Room in Dodge City: Vol. 2, Angel House, and Drifter: Stories. His novels The New House and A Room in Dodge City: Vol. 3 are forthcoming in 2022. He currently teaches at Parsons School of Design and FIT.

(15) MIGHT NEED A SPIN DOCTOR. Fantasy Literature’s reviewer Bill Capossere finds the series all too familiar: “The Wheel of Time: The wheel spins a little too slowly”.

…The show also isn’t helped, at least early on, by its characterization or its dialogue. The younger main characters have been aged up (if I’m remembering correctly — it’s been a long time), mostly it seems so they can have (undepicted) sex, which seems an odd reason. Otherwise, they feel at this point bland, unformed, and indistinguishable beyond their stock type (roguish irresponsible one, brooding pining one, grieving simmering one, bitter angry one, etc.). Honestly, they look and feel like they could have accidentally walked off the set of any CW show and into this one while the cameras were rolling. The older characters, Moiraine and the “gleeman” Thom fare better as characters, but Moiraine is saddled with a lot of expository and/or portentous monologuing (and not in a good, fun way)….

(16) COVID FRONT LINES. “Violence Against Australian Booksellers” is Shelf Awareness’ report about an incident that occurred when employees tried to get customer compliance with local Covid rules.

In Australia, the Dymocks bookstore on Collins St. in the CBD in Melbourne has been forced to hire security guards “after employees were attacked by customers refusing to follow Victoria’s Covid-19 rules, with one worker being pushed down an escalator,” the Age reported. The store’s owners said the move would cost hundreds of dollars a day, but safety of staff was paramount. The incidents are being investigated by police.

“We, as small business owners never thought that making our staff do this Covid marshaling checking would result in this kind of violence,” co-owner Melissa Traverso said, adding that just hours before one employee was assaulted, another staff member had been slapped by a woman who refused to give her personal details. The Age noted that “later on Friday, a third worker was tackled by an angry customer who did not provide a valid proof of vaccination, but managed to steady himself and avoid falling down the escalator.”…

(17) RO-MAN. [Item by Ben Bird Person.] Artist/illustrator Jacob Paik did this piece based on the 1953 movie Robot Monster:

(18) IT’S A THEORY. “Returned asteroid samples suggest missing source of Earth’s water: the solar wind”Daily Kos tells why.

One puzzle about Earth’s formation is that our planet shouldn’t have nearly as much water as it does.  Asteroids that formed closer to the Sun, such as those in the inner asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, have very little water, while those that formed farther out have much more.  So that implies that Earth, which formed even closer to the Sun than those asteroids, started out pretty dry and must have gotten its water from some far-out source.  But what could that source be?

Much of Earth’s water could very well have come from carbonaceous chondrite meteorites, flung to Earth from asteroids that formed far from the Sun, out around Jupiter/Saturn and beyond.  Those weren’t exposed to much heat when they formed, and so their volatile components like water could stay put.  Carbonaceous chondrite meteorites can contain up to 20% water. 

It would take a whole lot of hits by these kinds of meteorites to produce our oceans, but even if we grant that possibility, when you take them as a whole, their water doesn’t quite match Earth’s water in one important way: it’s too heavy.

“Heavy” water is not H2O but rather D2O.  Its hydrogen atoms are replaced by deuterium atoms.  A hydrogen atom is simply a proton and an electron, but a deuterium atom is that plus a neutron, so it’s heavier. 

On Earth we’ve got water with about 150 parts per million deuterium, but the average for those asteroids is more like 190.  So we seem to be missing a significant source of lighter water to make all of this add up.

Enter the solar wind!…

[Thanks to Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Ben Bird Person, Olav Rokne, StephenfromOttawa, Daniel Dern, Andrew Porter, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, and Mike Kennedy for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Bonnie McDaniel.]

Pixel Scroll 11/29/21 Will You Still Need Me, Will You Still Read Me, When I Pixel Scroll?

(1) GET AN EARFUL. Today File 770 partnered with AudioFile Magazine to unveil “AudioFile’s 2021 Best Science Fiction & Fantasy Audiobooks”. Here is the link to the complete AudioFile Magazine – Best Of 2021 list.

We love hearing a good story well told, and we know that you do, too: the comfort and intimacy of a voice in your ear, the pleasure of being completely swept up in a narrative. That’s why, every December, we are so glad to celebrate audio excellence by selecting AudioFile’s Best Audiobooks. Thank you to all of the narrators, directors, producers, and publishers who filled our year with good listening.

(2) A PAY SERVICE NIXES DISCON III. “WeChat Restrictions, We Tried, We Really Tried” says DisCon III:  

“We have had to remove WeChat as a payment option. Due to their restrictions on charitable giving, we are unable to use WeChat services at this time. Our tech team is working to find a workaround to help overseas fans who want to pay using WeChat. That said, all of our other avenues are still available, and there’s still time to join us at DisCon III. Please visit our member services page to purchase your membership.” said Mary Robinette Kowal, Chair of DisCon III. 

(3) ON BROADWAY. [Item by Daniel Dern.] The opening of (Marvel) Hawkeye (new TV series) includes Clint “Hawkeye” Barton (and his 3 kids) going to a performance of Rogers The Musical (note that the signage looks very Hamiltonian), and we get to, delightfully, see about half of “I Can Do This All Day” about the NYC invasion, in the first Avengers movie.

Here’s one of many articles on this, including an audio with the full lyrics:  “Hear Hawkeye’s Rogers: The Musical song, and how Marvel pulled it off” at Polygon.

… Written by Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman, who have collaborated on other Broadway musical adaptations like Hairspray and Catch Me If You CanRogers is the MCU’s latest attempt to reminisce over past battles with a wink and nod. A little like the scene in Loki where the God of Mischief finds Infinity stones being used as paperweights, the silliness of Rogers asks the audience if they can remember what all the fuss was about….

(4) HE GAVE IT A SPIN. Camestros Felapton says “The Wheel of Time adaptation is looking good”.

…A strong cast gives the characters more weight and also pushes them closer to how Jordan intended them to be (from context) rather than how they come over in the books. Nynaeve in particular is clearly meant to be a strong-willed character in the books but comes over as just whiny and annoying (your impression may differ) in Jordan’s dialogue. However, the show’s Nynaeve is a really compelling character played by New Zealander Zoë Robins, full of intensity and suspicion of what she (correctly) perceives as a hostile world….

(5) FUTURE TENSE. The November 2021 entry in the Future Tense Fiction series is “Ride,” by Linda Nagata, a story about climate, public transportation, and AI in Hawaii.

 …The boy waved at them, then turned again to Jasmine. “Give it a try,” he exhorted her in a conspiratorial whisper. “Promise you will?”

Those eyes.

Her smile brightened. She didn’t want to disappoint those eyes. So she played along, teasing, “I might.” And maybe she really would. It was just a little game, after all….

It was published along with a response essay by cities and transit journalist Henry Grabar: “What if an All-Knowing Algorithm Ran Traffic and Transit?”

I like to think of myself as deeply skeptical of the many internet algorithms telling me what I want and need. I turn off targeted advertising wherever I can. I use AdBlock to hide what’s left. Most of my YouTube recommendations are for concerts or sports highlights, but I know I’m just a few clicks away from a wild-eyed influencer telling me to gargle turpentine for a sore throat. Twitter trending topics? I regret clicking immediately.

But I make an exception for the sweet, all-knowing embrace of the Spotify algorithm, to whom I surrender my ears several times a day. This software doesn’t just know my taste in music better than my friends; it acts on it, with chains of songs that build off things that I know I like, or forgot I did….

(6) HARLAN IN THE WILDERNESS. Stephen Bowie interviewed Harlan Ellison in 1996 about his early days writing for television: “Harlan Hits Hollywood” at The Classic TV History Blog.

…I was going to ask you if you remembered watching “Memos From Purgatory” when it was first broadcast, but perhaps you don’t, since it wasn’t actually the first one.

It’s a moderately funny story about what happened the night it aired.  I was living in Beverly Glen, in this little treehouse. The television set that I had was a real small TV, with rabbit ears, and the antenna was up the side of the mountain behind the house.  I mean this house, literally and actually, sat half on a rock ledge and the other half sat in the crotch of a gigantic banyan tree. It was raining that night, it was raining terribly. And the antenna, which was up the hill – rabbit ears down in the house and an actual antenna up on the hill; I mean, there was no cable – well, the antenna fell over.  

I had invited all these people to come and see the show, and we couldn’t get any reception.  So a friend of mine volunteered to go up, and he put on my raincoat, and he stood up there in the pounding rain, a really torrential downpour.  He stood up there holding the fuckin’ antenna up. And I was kind of, you know, upset that he was up there, not to mention that there were cougars or mountain cats – really, there were catamounts or cougars or whatever the fuck they are – up there running loose, because it’s all watershed land.  And I was terrified that he was going to get eaten, or washed away, or drowned, or fall off the mountain, or something. So about midway through I went up and I took his place. And I came back drenched, soaking wet, I looked like a drowned rat, and everybody was raving about this thing, and I had only seen about half of it….

(7) DRAGON IT OUT. A new book says “George R.R. Martin flew to New York to ‘beg’ an HBO executive to make ‘Game of Thrones’ 10 seasons long, according to his agent” reports Yahoo!

HBO’s hit series “Game of Thrones” came to an end in 2019 with two shortened seasons, which brought the total to eight seasons and 73 episodes. But the story’s original creator, the author George R.R. Martin, pushed for up to 10 seasons and 100 total episodes, according to a new book.

New accounts of Martin’s wishes can be found in a book titled “Tinderbox: HBO’s Ruthless Pursuit of New Frontiers” by the journalist James Andrew Miller.

Miller, who conducted 757 interviews for the book, spoke with Martin, Martin’s agent, Paul Haas, and Richard Plepler, HBO’s former CEO.

“George would fly to New York to have lunch with Plepler, to beg him to do ten seasons of ten episodes because there was enough material for it and to tell him it would be a more satisfying and more entertaining experience,” Haas told Miller.

(8) IN XANADU. Henry Farrell points to the availability of the video of a panel he was on with Paul Krugman, Ada Palmer, Noah Smith, and Jo Walton. And he has a few more things he’d like to say in his post “The Future Finds Its Own Uses for Things” at Crooked Timber.

So this event on the relationship between social science and science fiction went live late last week. It has Paul Krugman, Ada Palmer, Jo Walton, Noah Smith and … me. I’ve been wanting to say something a little bit more about this relationship for a while. Here is one take, which surely misses out on a lot, but maybe captures some stuff too.

…The Hume quote captures a particular – and very common – way of thinking about the world. It suggests that beneath the vast procession of history, the extraordinary profusion of ways in which human beings organize their society, their politics and their economies, lies a hidden and coherent unity. He emphasizes “the constant principles of human nature” – other social scientists have other notions about what the underlying unity involves and entails. But from this perspective all the ways in which things are different across time and space are really illustrations of how they are really deeply the same. This is a powerful lens for understanding the world and perhaps changing it.

When Marco Polo counters Kublai Khan, he points towards quite the opposite phenomenon; how an apparent unity -an abstract of plane forces – can be opened up to disclose the quiddity of things. A chessboard is a plane divided into sixty-four squares – yet it is also something physical, made out of joined-together pieces of wood, each with its own history. The apparently all encompassing abstract unity conceals a world of variation. Unless you understand how the squares were formed – a year of drought; a frosty night; a caterpillar’s appetite; you cannot understand how the chessboard came to be as it is.

It is a little too simple to say that social science is on Hume’s side of the dialectic, while science fiction is on Marco Polo’s. What makes more sense, I think is that very good social scientists and very good science fiction writers each work the tensions between the two understandings of the world, more from the one side than the other….

(9) NAME YOUR PRICE. Filer Jane Sand’s novelette “Not Poppy Nor Mandragora” is in the newly released Fusion Fragment issue #9. The publishers invite readers to “download Fusion Fragment #9 for free or pay what you want!”

(10) CIRCUMNAVIGATING THE SPOILERS. I say, this Ars Technica article gives away the entire story, never mind spoilers! “David Tennant makes a dashing Phileas Fogg in Around the World in 80 Days preview”. It wasn’t easy to find an excerpt that didn’t blab some important part!

…Verne’s story, in turn, inspired the late 19th-century journalist Nellie Bly to make her own world tour, completing the trip in 72 days. She even met Verne in Amiens and wrote her own bestselling book about her adventures. Monty Python alum Michael Palin made the charming TV travelogue, Around the World in 80 Days with Michael Palin, in 1988, detailing his recreation of Fogg’s journey, without resorting to airplanes….

(11) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

2002 [Item by Cat Eldridge.] Nineteen years ago on NBC, It’s a Very Merry Muppet Christmas Movie first aired. It was the first film to be made for television by The Muppets franchise. It was directed by Kirk R. Thatcher (in his feature directorial debut though he earlier been hired by Nimoy to associate produce the Conspiracy ’87 Hugo-nominated Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home) and written by Tom Martin and Jim Lewis.

It starred the usual Muppet puppeteers (Steve Whitmire, Dave Goelz, Bill Barretta and Eric Jacobson) plus a number of human guests: David Arquette, Joan Cusack, Matthew Lillard, William H. Macy and Whoopi Goldberg. Executive producers Juliet Blake and Brian Henson, though the actual producers were Martin G. Baker and Warren Carr. 

This is also the final Muppets production from the Jim Henson Company, as The Muppets were in their final years of ownership by the Henson family before being sold to Disney in 2004.

Critics were generally very impressed by this film with such comments as the Canadian Movie News saying it “is a medley of familiar Christmas classics such as It’s a Wonderful LifeA Christmas Story and The Grinch, amongst others, with a distinct Muppet spin.” Interestingly audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes were less impressed giving a mediocre fifty-one percent rating. 

(12) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born November 29, 1898 C S Lewis. I first encountered him when reading The Screwtape Letters in University. I later read of course The Chronicles of Narnia which I found most excellent though I’ll admit that I’ve not read his Space Trilogy. (Died 1963.)
  • Born November 29, 1910 Kendell Foster Crossen. He was the creator and writer of the Green Lama stories.  The character was a Buddhist crime fighter whose powers were activated upon the recitation of the Tibetan chant om mani padme hum. He also wrote Manning Draco series, an intergalactic insurance investigator, four of which are can be found in Once Upon a Star: A Novel of the Future. The usual suspects has a really deep catalog of his genre work, and the Green Lama stories have been made into audio works as well. (Died 1981.)
  • Born November 29, 1918 Madeleine L’Engle. Writer whose genre work included the splendid YA sequence starting off with A Wrinkle in Time and its sequels: A Wind in the DoorA Swiftly Tilting PlanetMany Waters, and An Acceptable Time. One of her non-genre works that I recommend strongly is the Katherine Forrester Vigneras series. She has a World Fantasy Award for Life Achievement. (Died 2007.)
  • Born November 29, 1950 Peter Hooten, 71. He played the title character in the late Seveties Dr. Strange film, well before the present MCU film reality existed. His other genre appearances are all in definitely low-grade horror films such as OrcaHouse of Blood and Souleater. And one Italian film that had so many name changes that I’d accused it of name laundering, including 2020 Texas Gladiators
  • Born November 29, 1955 Howie Mandel, 66. He was the voice of Gizmo in Gremlins and Gremlins 2: The New Batch. His longest voice acting gig was on the Muppet Babies where he did a lot of different voices, and he voiced Sam-I-Am in In Search of Dr. Seuss which is not nearly as serious as it sounds.
  • Born November 29, 1969 Greg Rucka, 52. Comic book writer and novelist, known for his work on Action ComicsBatwoman and Detective Comics. If you’ve not read it, I recommend reading Gotham Central which he co-created with Ed Brubaker, and over at Marvel, the four-issue Ultimate Daredevil and Elektra which he wrote is quite excellent as well. I’ve read none of his novels, so will leave y’all to comment on those. He’s a character in the CSI comic book Dying in the Gutters miniseries as someone who accidentally killed a comics gossip columnist while attempting to kill Joe Quesada over his perceived role in the cancellation of Gotham Central.
  • Born November 29, 1976 Chadwick Boseman. Another death that damn near broke my heart. The Black Panther alias Challa in the Marvel metaverse. The same year that he was first this being, he was Thoth in Gods of Egypt. (If you’ve not heard of this, no one else did either as it bombed quite nicely at the box office.) He was Sergeant McNair on Persons Unknown which is at least genre adjacent I would say.  And he even appeared on Fringe in the “Subject 9” episode as Mark Little / Cameron James. (Died 2020.)

(13) IT’S NOT SURPRISING. “‘The Simpsons’ Tiananmen Square Episode Missing From Disney+ Hong Kong; Discovery Leads to Censorship Concerns” reports Deadline.

An episode of The Simpsons during which the family visits Tiananmen Square is missing from Disney+’s Hong Kong platform.

Episode 12 of season 16 was found today to be absent from the streamer’s catalogue in the nation, having launched in Hong Kong earlier this month.

The episode features the family going to China to try to adopt a baby. At one point, they visit Tiananmen Square, which was the site of a deadly crackdown in 1989 against democracy protestors. A satirical sign in the cartoon square reads “On this site, in 1989, nothing happened.”

At time of publication, it is not clear whether Disney+ removed the episode or was ordered to by the authorities and Disney has not responded to requests for comment.

The discovery will lead to further concerns over censorship in Hong Kong….

(14) D&D DIVERSITY. “‘A safe haven’: how Dungeons & Dragons is slaying social anxiety” – the Guardian runs the numbers.

… Since its inception in the mid-1970s, the tabletop role-playing game Dungeons & Dragons (D&D) has brought together a far more diverse array of players than its stereotypes suggest. Earlier this year, the game’s publisher, Wizards of the Coast, released a report showing that, of its estimated 50 million players, 54% were younger than 30 and 40% identified as female. What it didn’t reveal was the rise in visibility of queer and neurodiverse players.

…For people such as Shadia Hancock, the founder of advocacy group Autism Actually and Dungeon Master to a group of young neurodiverse players, the therapeutic potential of the game has always been clear.

“It’s about creating a sense of community,” Hancock says. “I work out the players’ expectations at the beginning of a game. Some get really into creating their characters, some are more interested in finding items and exploring the world, others are really interested in how the characters met. We all have a mutual love of gaming, but we all want something different from the session.”

Some characteristics expressed by some of Hancock’s players – social anxiety, increased empathy, difficulty adapting to change, feeling overwhelmed in noisy environments – have become familiar to many Australians in the wake of lockdowns. Studies cited by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare found reported levels of social anxiety increased over the past two years among all age groups, with young neurodiverse Australians even more likely to have experienced a decline in wellbeing.

“While other people are excited about going out, I’m filled with dread,” Hancock tells me. “With Covid, we [autistic communities] had all these sudden changes, often with short notice, and there was this need to constantly adapt to new rules. Not knowing what is coming up is really anxiety-inducing. During the pandemic, that became a shared experience.”

(15) NEXT TIME, TAKE THE TRAIN. John Holbo’s “The Ones Who Take the Train to Omelas” is adorned with a big Omelas-themed travel poster (which you can see at the link.)

*Confused? This page contains a parody of a famous story, “The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas”, by Ursula K. Le Guin. I’d point you to it, but there are no versions legally free on the web. Buy a book! Read Wikipedia. If you are somehow here about the BTS song – sorry, I don’t know about that. (But with half a billion hits, somebody probably does.)

I’ve written notes on my take on Le Guin. An essay! That’s here

Also, once I made the graphics I tossed ’em on Redbubble. Forgive me. It seemed funny.

“I incline to think that people from towns up and down the coast have been coming in to Omelas during the last days before the Festival on very fast little trains and double-decked trams.”

– Ursula K. Le Guin, “The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas”

(16) DS9 ON NFT. Voice actor Joshua Martin put together a parody video where Deep Space Nine’s “Quark and Odo discuss NFTs and Crypto Currency”. There’s also a Twitter thread that starts here.

(17) I SCREAM, YOU SCREAM. SlashFilm reveals “This Is What You’re Really Hearing When R2-D2 Screams In Star Wars”.

…One fateful moment of stress managed to help define a character through more than four decades and nine movies in the Skywalker saga — and counting.

(18) STAND BY TO ENTER HYPE-SPACE. Gizmodo’s Rob Bricken pans Disney World’s effort to sell people on its new theme hotel: “Star Wars Galactic Starcruiser Hotel Preview Looks Unimpressive”.

If you’ve been slavering for your chance to spend thousands upon thousands of dollars to head to Walt Disney World’s upcoming Star Wars Galactic Starcruiser experience, might I suggest you towel off your chin for the time being? Disney has released a video preview of some of what awaits families who come aboard the Halcyon, and it doesn’t look particularly enticing.

The first thing you should know about this video is that it stars Disney Parks Imagineer Ann Morrow Johnson and The Goldbergs’ sitcom actor Sean Giambrone. The two take a very short tour of the Starcruiser, but instead of them just talking like normal people about what people who come to the Halcyon can expect, it’s scripted and painfully unfunny. You’ve been warned. But this video also raises an important question, which is: Disney wants $6,000 for this?

[Thanks to Andrew Porter, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, Danny Sichel, Jayn, Bill, Joey Eschrich, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Joe H.]

Pixel Scroll 11/15/21 The Ones Who Stalk Away From Scrollmelas

(1) GOT THAT RIGHT. The imminent Hugo voting deadline – November 19 – caused Camestros Felapton to call forth a special GIF: “Deep from within the sarcophagi of time, a preternatural force awakens!” Remember what the Robot on the original Lost In Space said: “When in trouble, when in doubt, run in circles, scream and shout!”

(2) I SEE BY YOUR OUTFIT THAT YOU ARE A COWBOY. Christina Tucker tells Slate readers there’s a lot wrong with the new version: “Netflix Cowboy Bebop review: Another underwhelming live-action anime adaptation”.

Cowboy Bebop, directed by Shinichiro Watanabe, remains one of the most iconic anime of all time. Lauded by mainstream critics and anime fans alike for its visual style, Yoko Kanno’s soundtrack, and its explorations of mortality, nihilism, and identity, Cowboy Bebop has enjoyed an excellent reputation since its 1998 premiere. And stateside, it is especially renowned for being many Americans’ first experience with anime, first airing in English on Cartoon Network in 2001 as part of the nascent Adult Swim programming block. All told, it remains one of the most beloved anime by new and old fans, who still praise it as a must-watch and a modern classic.

This legacy, however, is something of an albatross around the neck of Netflix’s 2021 live-action adaptation of Cowboy Bebop. Netflix’s take on the show has a love-hate relationship with its source material, retaining the premise and almost every single character from the original and re-creating and referencing memorable shots and scenes, but adding original elements like comically trite dialogue, embarrassing dramatic turns, and an original and unengaging plotline that only pull focus from the core story it’s trying to adapt. The result only creates unfavorable comparisons with the original and is likely to turn off both fans of the original and newcomers. If this Cowboy Bebop accomplishes anything, it’s to highlight the quality of the original series, justifying many anime fans’ belief that trying to translate anime series from one medium to another never works out….

(3) VISIT WITH THE EATON COLLECTION. Space Cowboy Books of Joshua Tree, CA will have an online “Spotlight on the Eaton Science Fiction Library” on Tuesday, November 30 at 4:00 p.m. Pacific.

Join us for an in depth interview about the behind the scenes at one of the world’s largest public collections of science fiction. Sandy Enriquez and Andrew Lippert of the Eaton library will share how you can utilize the collection and some of the many treasures contained within. Learn about SF from an academic perspective.

Register for free here at Eventbrite

(4) SIMULTANEOUS TIMES. Also available is Space Cowboy Books’ podcast “Simultaneous Times” featuring readings of “Tips for Living Out-of-Synch for the Frequent Time Traveler” by A.C. Wise (read by Jean-Paul Garnier) and “Premium Resurrection Pack $99” by by Renan Bernardo (read by Jean-Paul Garnier & Zara Kand).

(5) NEW STOKERCON GOH. StokerCon2022 has added Jennifer McMahon as its sixth GOH. The convention takes place in Denver from May 12-15 next year.

Jennifer McMahon is the author of The Children on the Hill and ten other novels, including the New York Times bestsellers Promise Not to Tell and The Winter People. She lives in Vermont with her partner, Drea, and their daughter, Zella. Visit her at Jennifer-McMahon.com or connect with her on Instagram @JenniferMcMahonWrites and Facebook @JenniferMcMahonBooks.com.

She joins a GoH lineup that includes John Edward Lawson, Sheree Renée Thomas, Ernest Roscoe Dickerson A.S.C., Gemma Files, and Brian Keene.

(6) FOR YOUR STOCKING. Is this the first time that the Library of America has offered this kind of a deal on a book edited by an SFWA Grandmaster? American Christmas Stories:

Library of America and Connie Willis present 150 years of diverse, ingenious, and uniquely American Christmas stories

Ghost stories and crime stories, science fiction, fantasy, westerns, humor, and horror; tales of Christmas morning, trees, gifts, wise men, and family dinners everywhere from New York to Texas to outer space: this anthology is an epiphany, revealing the ways Christmas has evolved over time—and how the spirit of the holiday has remained the same. Ranging from the advent of the American tradition of holiday storytelling in the wake of the Civil War to today, this is the best and widest-ranging anthology of American Christmas stories ever assembled.

…Available now. Clothbound 467 pages. List price: $29.95. Web Store price: $22.50 | With coupon code LIB2021: $19.12 .

(7) CELEBRITY CRUSH. Adam Driver told Graham Norton Show viewers why he will never go to Comic-Con again.

… The Oscar nominee then elaborated, describing his experience at SDCC as more than a little constricting. “I didn’t know the rules of Comic-Con,” he said. “I got in at the hotel at 2 in the morning… and I’m like, ‘Maybe tomorrow I’ll go get a coffee.’ And they’re like, ‘Oh no, you can’t get a coffee.’ I’m like, ‘Well, maybe I’ll get a coffee in the hotel.’ They’re like, ‘No, you can’t get a coffee in the hotel.'”

Driver went on to explain that he was given the option of wearing either an Iron Man mask or a Darth Vader mask in order to leave. “‘If you want to go outside,’ they’re like, ‘Put a mask on so nobody knows who you are.'”

This doesn’t happen only to Star Wars actors. John King Tarpinian remembers being one of Ray Bradbury’s five escorts at Comic-Con and “that was a pain traversing the hall.” And if they wanted to give a Darth Vader mask to Adam Driver, what mask would they have had Ray put on? 

(8) ROLL ON IN. Billy Todd touts Wheel of Time fandom in “Welcome to the Family: An Open Letter to Old and New Fans of The Wheel of Time” at Tor.com.

…Worrying about new fans—and any talk of gatekeeping around the series—is historically out of character for the Wheel of Time fandom. I’ve participated in many sci-fi and fantasy franchise fandoms in the past 40 years, and I remain amazed at how open, inclusive, and downright familial the Wheel of Time fanbase is. I have been an active fan since cramming pages between junior high classes in 1992. After I finished my friend’s copy of The Shadow Rising, our friend group fell into a hole of geeking out over these books. I never made it out of that hole. Shortly thereafter, in the days before the World Wide Web, I discovered the Robert Jordan USENET newsgroup and its population of Darkfriends who modeled rational, good-natured, respectful debate online.

It took many years before I realized this was not how the rest of the Internet was going to turn out….

(9) PRE-PREDATOR ON THE WAY. “Predator Prequel Starring Indigenous Actress Amber Midthunder Reveals Title Prey , Summer 2022 Release Date” reports Yahoo!

Amber Midthunder is making her mark on the Predator franchise with its next installment.

Entitled Prey, the upcoming prequel will premiere on Hulu in summer 2022, it was announced Friday during Disney+ Day.

“Set in the world of the Comanche Nation 300 years ago, the action-thriller follows Naru, the skilled warrior who fiercely protects her tribe against a highly evolved alien predator,” a plot summary from Disney reads.

Midthunder, 24, celebrated the news on Instagram, sharing an image of herself in the film with the franchise’s extraterrestrial villain lurking behind her in the shadows.

(10) DREAM TIME. By the way, Melanie Stormm is very inventive but she didn’t have to make up the two tweets she included in today’s “Emails From Lake Woe-Is-Me — Fit the Fourteenth”:

(11) NEW BUCKELL COLLECTION ANNOUNCED. Apex Publications has acquired a new short story collection from Tobias S. Buckell titled Zen and the Art of Starship Maintenance and Other Stories. It’s scheduled to come out next year. Apex has also acquired the trade paperback rights to his four-book Xenowealth series (Crystal RainRagamuffinSly Mongoose, and The Apocalypse Ocean).

Tobias S. Buckell

Tobias S. Buckell is a New York Times Bestselling and World Fantasy Award-winning author born in the Caribbean. He grew up in Grenada and spent time in the British and US Virgin Islands, which influence much of his work.

Zen and the Art of Starship Maintenance and Other Stories is Tobias S. Buckell’s seventh short fiction collection and is comprised of 15 stories, several of which are original to the collection or were previously only available through his Patreon.

(12) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

1968 — Fifty-three years ago on NBC, Star Trek’s “The Tholian Web” first aired on this date. It was written by Judy Burns, her first professional script, and Chet Richards, his only such script. She would later write scripts for myriad genre series including Mission: ImpossibleThe Six Million Dollar Man and Fantasy Island

Primary guest cast was Sean Morgan as Lt. O’Neil, Barbara Babcock as the voice of Loskene who was the Tholian commander and Paul Baxley as Captain of the Defiant. It is considered by critics and fans alike to be one of the best Trek episodes done though it did not get a Hugo nomination unlike a lot of other Trek episodes. 

In a two-part episode of Enterprise, “In a Mirror, Darkly”, it is told that the Defiant has reappeared in the Mirror Universe of Archer’s time, where it is salvaged by the Tholians and later stolen from them by the Terran Empire. 

(13) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born November 15, 1877 William Hope Hodgson. By far, his best known character is Thomas Carnacki, featured in several of his most famous stories and at least partly based upon Algernon Blackwood’s occult detective John Silence. (Simon R. Green will make use of him in his Ghost Finders series.)  Two of his later novels, The House on the Borderland and The Night Land would be lavishly praised by H.P. Lovecraft.  It is said that his horror writing influenced many later writers such as China Miéville, Tim Lebbon and Greg Bear but I cannot find a definitive source for that claim. (Died 1918.)
  • Born November 15, 1929 Ed Asner. Genre work includes roles on Alfred Hitchcock PresentsThe Outer Limits,  Voyage to the Bottom of the SeaThe Girl from U.N.C.L.E.The InvadersThe Wild Wild WestMission: ImpossibleShelley Duvall’s Tall Tales & LegendsBatman: The Animated Series and I’ll stop there as the list goes on for quite some while. What’s your favorite genre role by him? (Died 2021.)
  • Born November 15, 1933 Theodore Roszak. Winner of the Tiptree Award for The Memoirs of Elizabeth Frankenstein, and the rather excellent Flicker which is well worth reading. Flicker is available at the usual suspects,  though no other fiction by him other than his Japanese folktales is. Odd. (Died 2011.)
  • Born November 15, 1939 Yaphet Kotto. If we count the Bond films as genre, and I do, his first genre performance was as Dr. Kananga / Mr. Big in Live and Let Die. Later performances included Parker in Alien, William Laughlin in The Running Man, Doc in Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare, Ressler in The Puppet Masters adapted from Heinlein’s 1951 novel of the same name and a horrid film that it is, and he played a character named Captain Jack Clayton on SeaQuest DSV. (Died 2021.)
  • Born November 15, 1942 Ruth Berman, 79. She’s a writer of mostly speculative poetry. In 2003, she won the Rhysling Award for Best Short Poem for “Potherb Gardening “, and in 2016 for “Time Travel Vocabulary Problems”.  She was the winner of the 2006 Dwarf Stars Award for her poem “Knowledge Of”.  She’s also written one YA fantasy novel, Bradamant’s quest. In 1973, she was a finalist for the first Astounding Award for Best New Writer. She edited the Dunkiton Press genre zine for a decade or so.  She was nominated for Best Fan Writer Hugo at Baycon (1968). Impressive indeed. 
  • Born November 15, 1972 Jonny Lee Miller, 49. British actor and director who played Sherlock Holmes on the exemplary Elementary series, but his first genre role was as a  nine year-old with the Fifth Doctor story, “Kinda”. While he’s had a fairly steady stage, film, and TV career across the pond since then, it’s only in the last decade that he’s become well-known in the States – unless, like JJ, you remember that twenty-three years ago he appeared in a shoddy technothriller called Hackers, with another unknown young actor named Angelina Jolie (to whom he ended up married, until they separated eighteen months months later). Other genre appearances include a trio of vampire films, Dracula 2000Dark Shadows, and Byzantium, the live-action Æon Flux movie, and the lead in the pseudo-fantasy TV series Eli Stone

(14) COMICS SECTION.

  • Bizarro has a hilarious Zoom panel.

(15) A SHOW RECAP. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] Last night on Bob’s Burgers, a group of teenagers came in to the burger joint and asked to play a game which was clearly Dungeons and Dragons but which was called something else.  The dungeon master got Bob’s attention because she ordered the Burger of the Day when everyone else was getting plain old cheeseburgers.  The dungeon master made a move where she turned everyone into goblins and they played goblin characters instead of their regular characters.  Bob saw that she was being creative and explained to her his creative outlet was creating the Burger of the Day every day.  The gamers played very late but ordered big breakfasts before they left so Bob was tired but happy after meeting gamers.

(16) FERAL STATES. “Neal Stephenson Predicted the Metaverse. His New Book Imagines Something Even Stranger.” Laura Miller reviews Termination Shock at Slate.

A maestro of the dramatic opener, Neal Stephenson began his 2015 novel, Seveneves, with the line “The moon blew up without warning and for no apparent reason.” That’s a hard act to follow, but he gives it the old college try in his latest, Termination Shock, heralded, when first announced, as the celebrated science-fiction author “finally” taking on the subject of global warning. Termination Shock begins with the queen of the Netherlands piloting a business jet in an emergency landing at the Waco airport, a maneuver that goes terribly wrong when her plane’s landing gear collides with a herd of feral hogs that, chased by an oversize alligator, swarm the airstrip.

Like a lot of plot twists in Termination Shock, this scenario is not as outlandish as it seems. Frederika Mathilde Louisa Saskia, a fictional character, is apparently the daughter of the real-life King Willem-Alexander, who in 2017 revealed that he had been moonlighting as a commercial airline pilot for more than 20 years. (He said that he found it a “relaxing” hobby.) Saskia, as the queen—who is one of the novel’s central characters—calls herself, has inherited a taste for this pastime from her father. As for the feral swine, they are partly an allusion to a viral tweet defending private ownership of assault rifles in the event that “30-50 feral hogs” run into a yard in which small children are playing. The internet found this argument hilarious, but feral hogs are in fact a dangerous and destructive invasive species in many parts of the U.S. The novel’s second central character, Rufus, a former farmer turned professional hog exterminator, knows this all too well….

(17) GAS SITUATION. CNBC also has an interview with the author: “Neal Stephenson on ‘Termination Shock,’ geoengineering, metaverse”.

How did you get interested in this subject and become fascinated with it enough to base a novel on it?

I’ve been hearing about the idea for a number of years. I’m interested in history. I’m interested in science and the physics of the planet. And so, the idea that a volcano could erupt somewhere and affect temperatures all over the planet is a natural, fascinating topic for me. Over the last decade or two, it’s become increasingly clear that the CO2 content in the atmosphere is a huge problem, and that it’s getting worse fast, and we’re not really being very effective. Despite efforts by a number of people to draw attention to the problem and and push for emissions reductions, that number is still climbing rather rapidly and probably will keep climbing for a while. So rolling that together in the brain of the science fiction novelist, that looks like the basis for a story that that’s got that technical angle to it, but that’s also got a strong geopolitical and personal storytelling basis.

(18) OUT OF THE WILDERNESS AT LAST. The Guardian’s David Smith profiles the new Vonnegut documentary: “Unstuck in Time: the Kurt Vonnegut documentary 40 years in the making”.

… In 1994 Weide took the author back to his childhood home in Indianapolis. Vonnegut is seen touching imprints of his child-size hand, and the hands of of other family members, that remain in concrete poured in the 1920s. The project received a boost when Vonnegut’s brother, Bernie, handed over some 16mm home movies that had been gathering dust in a closet.

But the memories also carried pain. In 1958 his beloved sister, Alice, died of breast cancer days after her husband drowned in a train accident. Weide reflects: “He would say how much he missed his her and how ‘she taught me what was funny; she imbued my sense of humour; we thought the same things were funny’.

“A lot of what they thought was funny had to do with a lot of good comedy, which is a tragedy befalling other people. If they saw somebody fall down on the street in Indianapolis, they’d laugh about it for years sometimes. He talked a lot about his sister in very fond terms. He never was that vocal specifically about how her death affected him but his daughter says in the film all these years later, ‘I don’t think he can even now get his arms around it’.”…

(19) FAMILIAR PLAYBOOK. Yes, John Scalzi has seen these plays run before on social media.

(20) DOO DOO OVER. James Davis Nicoll tells Tor.com readers about “Five Time Travel Stories Where Things Get Rather Messy”.

Who among us has not dreamed over getting a do-over? Perhaps this time around, one could defer the two-hour discourse on the history of stirrups until the second date, leave the nearly-red hot frying pan to cool a little longer, or at the very least, take steps to ensure that some major historical debacle never happens, changing the course of human events for the good of all. Armed with knowledge of how things played out in the original timeline, surely one could shape a more perfect history!

That’s in reality. In fiction, of course, there’s no plot if everything goes as expected. Thus, these five works about altering timelines that did not, alas, work out entirely to plan….

(21) GENRE ADJACENT NEWS. “’It’s like hunting aliens’: inside the town besieged by armadillos” – the Guardian says North Carolina is not welcoming their new overlords.

….“It’s like hunting aliens,” said Bullard, who is more used to hunting feral pigs. “We know nothing about them. We can’t seem to kill them easily. They show up unexpectedly. And their numbers have just exploded.”

…An emerging theory for this advance of armadillos is the climate crisis. The animals dislike freezing conditions and global heating is making winters milder, turning northern parts of the US more armadillo-friendly. Around Sapphire [NC], the armadillos happily root around in the dirt with their snouts and claws, feasting on insects at elevations above 4,000ft. “We just don’t have those really cold winters any more and I’m sure that’s helped them,” said Olfenbuttel.

The armadillos have made it into Missouri, Iowa and even the southern reaches of Nebraska. Barriers such as rivers aren’t a problem – the animals can hold their breath for up to six minutes and walk on the riverbed, or even inflate their intestines to float across to the other side….

(22) ROBOTS UNDERGROUND. In the Washington Post Magazine, David Montgomery reports on the DARPA Subterranean Challenge, held in a giant cavern in Louisville, in which robots competed to see how many “humans” (mannequins with sensors) they could rescue in a simulated underground disaster.

…In this scenario, meticulously constructed for the finale of the DARPA Subterranean Challenge — an elaborate three-year, $82 million Pentagon robotics competition — something bad has happened to humans underground, and the robots are coming to the rescue. Spot and its robo-teammates and competitors — dozens of walking, driving and flying robots — were on a scavenger hunt for “survivors” (mannequins giving off body heat and vocal sounds) and objects such as cellphones, backpacks and helmets. The robots scored points by sending the objects’ locations back to their human teammates. Finding all the objects meant exploring a trap-filled labyrinth with a half-mile of passages, featuring three made-from-scratch environments: urban, with a subway, storeroom and offices; a tunnel (a mock mine shaft); and a cave, a claustrophobic mash-up of spelunking’s greatest hits….

(23) WEIRD WEST. [Item by Ben Bird Person.] Here’s an art collage piece by Lauren Fox (@LaurenFoxWrites):

(24) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Jennifer Hawthorne.] This video isn’t short but it’s good. It does a thorough breakdown of both the Starship Troopers book and the film, plots and themes both, and toward the end compares them to Haldeman’s Forever War. “If Veterans Ruled the World”.

[Thanks to Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Alan Baumler, Steven French, Jennifer Hawthorne, Ben Bird Person, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, John King Tarpinian, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Jayn.]

Pixel Scroll 10/29/21 On The Screen My Pixel Files, Streaming, Scrolled And Read

(1) EATING THE FANTASTIC. Scott Edelman invites listeners to feast on kabobs with E. Lily Yu in episode 157 of the Eating the Fantastic podcast.

E. Lily Yu

[Because Readercon went virtual] the award-winning E. Lily Yu and I each ordered kabob from local restaurants, and nibbled our take-out remotely as I questioned her about how she spins magic out of her words.

E. Lily Yu won the Astounding Award for Best New Writer in 2012. Her short story “The Cartographer Wasps and the Anarchist Bees” was published in Clarkesworld in 2011, and was nominated for the Hugo Award for Best Short Story and the World Fantasy Award for Best Short Fiction. Her short fiction has appeared in Fantasy and Science FictionUncannyApexLightspeed, and many other venues. Her work has been reprinted in twelve best-of-the-year anthologies, including The Year’s Best Science FictionThe Best Science Fiction and Fantasy of the YearThe Best Dark Fantasy and Horror, and The Best American Science Fiction and Fantasy. Her first novel, On Fragile Waves, was published in February by Erewhon Books.

We discussed why she was glad that when she first came up with the idea for her novel On Fragile Waves she had no idea how long it would take to complete, what she learned through each successive draft of the novel before she was satisfied, why it can be exhausting to see people as they are rather than as you want them to be, the effort required to make the effortful appears effortless, the reasons rejection can be a blessing (especially during the early part of your career), what she learned reading slush for Fantasy magazine, how writing interactive video games helped her write better short stories, and much more.

(2) MONEY TO BURN. GQ invites fans “Inside ‘Wheel of Time,’ Amazon’s Huge Gamble on the Next ‘Game of Thrones’”, where each episode has a $10M budget.

… The town’s inn, an intricately rendered two-story building, is now blackened, its left side plunged into spiky rubble: Smoke machines give the impression that it is still smoldering. There are holes in roofs, artfully destroyed beams. Every house—interior and exterior—has been charred enough so that it shows on camera. The actors who wander the Two Rivers are made up to match. Rosamund Pike, who starred in Gone Girl, is smudged with soot….

…It’s November 2019, and the production—comprising hundreds of, and on some days nearly a thousand, people—is filming the end of the first episode of what everyone hopes will be a television show that runs for, well: six seasons? Eight? A show that will be as epic and sensational and ubiquitous as Game of Thrones once was. On one side of the green, a camera sits on a long dolly track; another camera operator stalks the scene, taking various close-ups. The episode’s veteran television director, Uta Briesewitz, is arranging four of the show’s main cast of relatively unknown young actors in a moment of reckoning: Pike’s character, a woman with mysterious powers, has arrived to awaken them and set them on their way. “Your life isn’t going to be what you thought,” Pike intones, as various cameras circle her. Pike runs through her speech, which is heavy with exposition for both the characters and the audience, a few times. “Can I do one more?” she asks Briesewitz, while apologizing to the extras scattered about. “I think that one got a bit phony.”

Finally, Briesewitz calls “cut.” Pike retreats from the weather into a nearby tent. “It’s not like working with David Fincher,” she says to me, referring to the Gone Girl director’s penchant for shooting 70 takes of a scene. The production is huge and moving at warp speed. Pike has to know things backward and forward. She has to get her lines out as dozens of crew members and background actors get soaked in the cold rain and actual living horses wander around while makeup women with transparent plastic bags dart in and out to touch up extras and guys with smoke canisters paddle mist into the edges of shots. This set they’re on—not just a few hollow façades set up to create the impression of reality, but real buildings, in every direction—is giant, immersive, and won’t last past this episode….

(3) SPACE FOR EVERYONE. UCSD’s article “Making Space Travel Inclusive for All” reports on the initial zero-gravity flight of disabled volunteers.

In a weightless, microgravity environment like space, what do ability and disability look like? How can someone with partial sight or impaired mobility navigate in a confined space like the space station? As scientists and innovators continue to push the boundaries of spaceflight and the possibility of human life on other planets, how can we build space infrastructure that is inclusive of all humans?

The Mission: AstroAccess project aims to answer these questions, starting with a historic parabolic flight that took off from Long Beach on Oct. 17, 2021. A group of 12 disabled scientists, veterans, students, athletes and artists launched into a zero-gravity environment as a first step toward understanding what is needed to make space inclusive for all.… The 12 AstroAccess Ambassadors selected for this first microgravity flight included four blind or low-vision Ambassadors; two deaf or hard-of-hearing Ambassadors; and six Ambassadors with mobility disabilities, all carrying out a variety of tasks and challenges in the weightless environment. One of the challenges was seeing whether all crew members could perform basic safety and operational tasks, like navigating to oxygen masks. The crew also tested a procedure to see whether sound beacons can be used for blind members to orient themselves, and the effectiveness of haptic devices in communicating commands. They’re also investigating how American Sign Language will be impacted by microgravity….

(4) NASA ANALYSIS. University of Arizona English professor Christopher Cokinos calls for artists to work with NASA to celebrate spaceflight. “Engineering the arts for space: developing the concept of ‘mission laureates’” at The Space Review.

…In the coming months, I hope to address more aspects of a vigorous, wide, multidisciplinary arts/space effort, including a call for all-artist analogue missions. (I’ve even submitted, and received an enthusiastic reply, for just such a mission proposal to an analogue facility being developed at Biosphere 2.) But here I want to concentrate on one specific suggestion for increased systematic arts engagement in space activities: mission laureates.

Mission laureates

The term “laureate,” of course, refers to someone who receives an honor, deriving from the ancient Greek tradition of placing a laurel wreath on the head of the honoree. The laurel tree was sacred to the god Apollo, patron deity of poets. In more recent history, countries such as Great Britain and the United States have had offices of poet laureates, a tradition that has spread to states, cities, and towns. The poets are asked to engage the public by presenting outward-facing work for non-literary audiences.

Here I want to argue for a new kind of laureate, one attached not to a region but to a mission, specifically missions to space. In brief, mission laureates would create work inspired by missions—robotic and crewed—for wider public engagement.

I am not calling for art that is propaganda—a danger with laureates in the past—but, rather, work that provides new and exciting perspectives that can link a mission to wider currents in human affairs. It’s likely that artists interested in this opportunity will be pro-space but they surely will bring the nuance and complexity that we all need in confronting the paradoxes, promises, and perils of the human endeavor in space….

(5) THEY TOOK A SHINE TO IT. This product is cleaning up in the marketplace: “Apple’s Most Back-Ordered New Product Is Not What You Expect” says the New York Times. “It’s a $19 cloth.”

…Charging $19 for a piece of cloth about the size of two stacked dollar bills is bold even by Apple’s standards, a company whose legions of loyal customers are conditioned to stomach steep prices. An Apple-branded set of four wheels to “improve mobility” for the Mac Pro, the company’s most expensive desktop computer, is priced at $699, for instance.

But the Polishing Cloth stands out because it is far more expensive than widely available alternatives. MagicFiber, a popular brand of microfiber cloth that uses ultrafine fibers to clean glass without scratching the surface, offers a pack of six for $9 on Amazon.

“You have to give them credit for the chutzpah to charge $19,” Walter Gonzalez, president and founder of Goja, the parent company of MagicFiber, said of Apple….

(6) SJW CREDENTIAL OWNERS ALERT. New York Review of Books is marketing On Cats with a Margaret Atwood introduction.

In 2019, Notting Hill Editions published an anthology about canines, On Dogs. Now on its tail comes a companion edition for ailurophiles, On Cats, which includes an introduction by Margaret Atwood and more than two dozen essays, stories, and excerpts about the peculiar, sometimes affectionate, and often fickle character of our feline friends.

(7) FINE-GRAINED SIMULATION. A meteorologist and some climate modelers decided to find out if Frank Herbert’s imagined world was plausible, and for a change were not party poopers: “The climate on the Dune world of Arrakis, simulated” in Popular Science. The accompanying graphics are stellar.

Dune, the epic series of sci-fi books by Frank Herbert, now turned into a movie of the same name, is set in the far future on the desert planet of Arrakis. Herbert outlined a richly-detailed world that, at first glance, seems so real we could imagine ourselves within it.

However, if such a world did exist, what would it actually be like?

We are scientists with specific expertise in climate modelling, so we simulated the climate of Arrakis to find out. We wanted to know if the physics and environment of such a world would stack up against a real climate model.

(9) IMAGINARY FRIENDS. Screen Rant wrote up the “8 Best Fictional Bookstores We Wish Were Real”. There were a couple here that were new to me.

…Be it magical stores with books floating from shelf to shelf, comic book stores owned by supernatural beings, or picturesque but ordinary little shops, fictional bookstores like these make fans and viewers wish that they were real….

(10) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

1993 – Twenty-eight years ago, The Nightmare Before Christmas premiered. It was directed by Henry Selick (in his feature directorial debut), and produced by Denise Di Novi and Tim Burton. The screenplay by Caroline Thompson from the poem by Tim Burton. Yes, poem. Danny Elfman wrote the songs and score, and provided the singing voice of Jack. The principal voice cast also includes Ed Ivory, Chris Sarandon, Catherine O’Hara, William Hickey, Ken Page, Paul Reubens and Glenn Shadix. Critics loved it though the NAACP condemned Oogie Boogie as a racist stereotype. The Box Office was excellent for it as it earned over a hundred million on a budget of eighteen million. And it has a stellar ninety-one percent rating among audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes. It was nominated for a Hugo at ConAdian, the year that Jurassic Park won.

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born October 29, 1906 Fredric Brown. Author of Martians, Go Home  which would made into a  movie of the same name. He received compensation and credit from NBC as their Trek episode “Arena” had more than a passing similarity to his novelette which was nominated for Retro Hugo at CoNZealand. Interestingly, a whole lot of his Edgar Award-winning mysteries are being released on the usual suspects in December. (Died 1972.)
  • Born October 29, 1928 Benjamin F. Chapman, Jr. He play the Gill-man in the land takes in Creature from the Black Lagoon. Ricou Browning did the water takes. His only other genre appearance was in Jungle Moon Men, a Johnny Weissmuller film. His entire acting career was only eleven years long and had but eight acting credits. (Died 2008.)
  • Born October 29, 1935 Shelia Finch, 86. She is best remembered for her stories about the Guild of Xenolinguists  which aptly enough are collected in The Guild of Xenolinguists story collection. She first used it her 1986 Triad novel. The term would later be used to describe the character Uhura in the rebooted Trek film. Her Reading the Bones novel, part of the Guild of Xenolinguists series would win a Nebula. 
  • Born October 29, 1938 Ralph Bakshi, 83. Started as low-level worker at Terrytoons, studio of characters such as Heckle and Jeckle and Mighty Mouse which I adore. His first major break would be on CBS as creative director of Mighty Mouse and the Mighty Heroes. Fast forwarding to Fritz the Cat which may or may not be genre but it’s got a foul-mouthed talking cat when should make it genre, yes? Genre wise, I’d say Wizards which features voice work by Mark Hamill and whose final name was Wizards so it wouldn’t be confused with you know what film. It was nominated for a Hugo at IguanaCon II when Star Wars won. Next up was The Lord of the Rings, a very odd affair. That was followed by Fire and Ice, a collaboration with Frank Frazetta. Then came what I considered his finest work, the Mighty Mouse: The New Adventures series!  Then there’s Cool World
  • Born October 29, 1947 Richard Dreyfuss, 74. Roy Neary in Close Encounters of the Third Kind. And The Player in Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead. Not to mention the voice of Mister Centipede in the ever so James and the Giant Peach. And yes, he’s Hooper in Jaws that we declared was genre sometime back. 
  • Born October 29, 1954 Kathleen O’Neal Gear, 67. Archaeologist and writer. I highly recommend the three Anasazi Mysteries that she co-wrote with W. Michael Gear. She’s a historian of note so she’s done a lot of interesting work in that area such as Viking Warrior Women: Did ‘Shieldmaidens’ like Lagertha Really Exist?  And should you decide you want to keep buffalo, she’s the expert on doing so. Really. Truly, she is. 
  • Born October 29, 1954 Paul Di Filippo, 67. Ciphers: a post-Shannon rock-n-roll mystery was his first work. He is, I’d say, an acquired taste. I like him. I’d suggest first reading you don’t know him should be The Steampunk Trilogy and go from there.  His “A Year in the Linear City” novella was nominated at Torcon 3 for Best Novella, and won the 2003 World Fantasy Award and the 2003 Theodore Sturgeon Award. Oh, and he’s one of our stellar reviewers having reviewed at one time or another for Asimov’s Science FictionThe Magazine of Fantasy and Science FictionScience Fiction EyeThe New York Review of Science FictionInterzoneNova Express and Science Fiction Weekly
  • Born October 29, 1971 Winona Ryder, 50. Beetlejuice of course but also Edward Scissorhands and Bram Stoker’s Dracula. Not to mention Alien Resurrection and Star Trek as Spock’s human mother Amanda Grayson. Which brings me to Being John Malkovich which might be the coolest genre film of all time if not the strangest one. 

(12) COMICS SECTION.

  • Questionable Content this week has been guest-starring (or would this be a cameo) a familiar, um, figure (all week, so click some “Next”s). Note, QC already has its share of SF-y characters, namely robots and AIs, along with one character’s mom living in an orbital space station.
  • Over in Dustin, the titular teenager and one of the younger kids — presumably (info via Wikipedia) “Hayden, a precocious seven-year-old kid and next-door neighbor,” have chosen familiar and we-still-miss-’em Halloween costumes this week.
  • Sally Forth hints at another reason to wear Halloween costumes.

(13) WONG TAKES ON IRON FIST. Writer Alyssa Wong and artist Michael YG introduce a new Iron Fist to the Marvel Universe on February 16 when a new hero claims the power of K’un-Lun.

Award winning writer Alyssa Wong, known for her outstanding work on Doctor Aphra, will team up with artist Michael YG, an extraordinary artist making his Marvel Comics debut, in Iron Fist. The five-issue limited series will see the legendary mantle of Iron Fist passed on to a new hero in a revolutionary transformation of one of Marvel’s most fascinating mystical mythologies. 

After giving up his power to save the world earlier this year in IRON FIST: HEART OF THE DRAGON, Danny Rand believes he’s seen the last of the Iron Fist. But when demons begin to attack cities around the world, a new hero appears, hands blazing with the Chi of Shou-Lao the Undying! Who is this new Iron Fist? And does his power really come from the Dragon of K’un-Lun… Or from something far more sinister? Fans will have to wait until the first issue to discover his identity but they can see him now on the stunning cover for IRON FIST #1 showcasing a brand-new costume design by superstar artist Jim Cheung!

Here’s what Wong had to say this upcoming series:

“It’s an incredible honor to introduce a new Iron Fist to the Marvel Universe. I’m excited to delve into the comic’s rich mythos and build on it. What does it mean for someone to take up the mantle of the Iron Fist right now, today? As a newcomer, how does one interact with legacy, and how does one honor it while forging a new path?”

(14) THE GAME’S AFOOT. “Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy Rickrolls Players With Rick Astley” at Screen Rant.

A new promotional video for Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy sees various streamers getting “rickrolled,” with singer Rick Astley himself joining in on the fun. The recently-released sci-fi superhero title, developed by Eidos-Montreal, seeks to capture the spirit of the team’s live-action films while also embracing the characters’ comic book roots. Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy‘s 80’s soundtrack helps to inform the backstory of protagonist Star-Lord while also playing a role in combat.

(15) FOR THE RECORD. The old crew’s sign-off strip is followed by the announcement that “Dick Tracy comic strip to have first female lead artist in 90 years”.

… The latest artist, Joe Staton along with the entire Dick Tracy team has brought innovation to the Dick Tracy world, incorporating a bevy of crossovers such as The Green Hornet, The Spirit and a villain named the Jumbler, who gives Jumble puzzles as clues to the police.

Now Staton has passed his two-way wrist radio, Detective Tracy’s trademark yellow trench coat and fedora over to his long-time Dick Tracy teammate, Shelley Pleger.

For the last 10 years, Pleger has inked and lettered Dick Tracy. Now she takes the helm as the first female lead artist Dick Tracy has ever had….

(16) NOT THE END, MY FRIEND. Netflix dropped this trailer for season 2 of The Witcher today.

(17) SPEAKING OF WITCHES. This Twix commercial has caused major conniptions on the right. RT USA News’ overview of the commercial is followed by a roundup of social media reactions: “The Witch & the Wardrobe change: Twix blasted for ‘woke’ Halloween ad with boy wearing princess dress, but no holiday… or candy”. “‘New Nanny’ is part of a collection of short films created by 18 young filmmakers from various backgrounds, produced by 20th Digital Studio.” 

A Halloween-themed ad from Twix has critics accusing the candy manufacturer of ‘ruining’ the holiday with a woke and confusing message on boys wearing dresses that has little to do with the celebration – or the product advertised.

In the ‘bite-size Halloween’ commercial, a young boy wearing a princess dress is defended from bullies by a witch nanny, who arrives at his house unannounced in a minivan while the child appears to be unattended. The nanny says she was hired by the child’s parents and she goes on to casually threaten two children questioning why the boy is dressed up when it’s not Halloween. In the last scene of the ad, a boy is making fun of the princess-dress-wearing boy at a park – the synopsis for the ad refers to him as ‘non-binary’ – and the witch makes him disappear. She says he will “probably” come back….

(18) DEAR DEPARTED. Cat Eldridge recommends the article’s photo gallery: “Ben & Jerry’s Flavor Graveyard” at Gastro Obscura.

BEN & JERRY MIGHT BE a couple of ice cream tycoons, but they’ve remained true to their roots. Case in point: the deliciously somber Flavor Graveyard located on the grounds of their factory in Waterbury, Vermont.

Opened in 1997, the memorial to bygone flavors was originally an online-only affair, until a handful of resin headstones were mocked up and planted on a hill behind the factory….

[Thanks to JJ, John King Tarpinian, Andrew Porter, Daniel Dern, Chris Barkley, Jennifer Hawthorne, StephenfromOttawa, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, and Martin Morse Wooster for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Jayn.]

Pixel Scroll 9/2/21 Who Knows Where The Springers’ Space-Time Goes

(1) FUTURE-CON ONLINE, FREE. Starting tomorrow, Future-Con runs from September 3-5 online, free. On Discord and YouTube with speakers from many parts of the world such as Aliette de Bodard, Cristina Jurado, Francesco Verso, Fábio Fernandes, Rachel Cordasco, Emily Jin etc. (Language of communication: English)  Among the highlights, the first panel will focus on African SFF.

UNITED FUTURES OF AFRICA: A Whole Continent Rising to the Global Conversation. Themes and elements of contemporary Science Fiction from African countries. Panelists: Cheryl S. Ntumy (Ghana/ Botswana); Dilman Dila (Uganda); Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki (Nigeria); Mame Bougouma Diene (US/Senegal/France); Tlotlo Tsamaase (Botswana); Fábio Fernandes (Brazil, host).

Latin American SFF, Arab SFF will be on special panels. Chinese SFF will be discussed in the 1st panel on Sunday (On Friday, Xia Jia will also be on board the second panel about languages; Saturday, Chen Qiufan will be in the 2nd panel and Gu Shi in the 3rd one. Recommended reading: A Summer beyond your reach Xia Jia anthology and Vector, spring 2021 magazine of BSFA about Chinese SF in addition to everything that was published since the 1989 anthology by Dingbo Wu and P.D. Murphy). 

More general themes such as translations, posthumanism, architecture, will also be discussed. Check the full program here

(2) OUT FOR A SPIN. The Wheel Of Time – Official Teaser Trailer dropped today. The show arrives on Prime Video November 19, 2021.

(3) RESISTANCE IS FUTILE, RECURRING IS LUCRATIVE. We’ll see the Borg Queen in the next season of Picard. “‘Star Trek: Picard’: Annie Wersching To Recur As Borg Queen For Season 2 Of Paramount+ Series”Deadline has the story.

Star Trek: Picard Season 2 follows its titular character (Stewart) into the next chapter of his life. Season 2 also touts the return of John de Lancie’s Q.

Wersching will recur as the Borg Queen. Alice Krige played the Borg Queen in Star Trek: First Contact and VOY: Endgame. Susanna Thompson also took on the character in Star Trek: Voyager.

(4) EMERGENCY HOLOGRAPHIC SWEDES. “ABBA Announce First Album in 40 Years, Share New Songs: Listen”Pitchfork offers a preview.

Swedish pop icons ABBA have shared two new songs, the previously teased “I Still Have Faith in You” and “Don’t Shut Me Down.” The tracks will be included on Voyage, the band’s first new album since 1981. The record is out November 5…. 

Since at least 2016, ABBA have been teasing a digitally-aided return. And, finally, on May 27, 2022, the quartet will perform the ABBA Voyage concert with a 10-piece band at London’s Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. The original members—Benny Anderson, Anni-Frid Lyngstad, Agnetha Fältskog, and Björn Kristian Ulvaeus—will be performing as digital versions of themselves, which are previewed in the “I Still Have Faith in You” visual. It took “weeks and months of motion-capture and performance techniques” to create the hologram artists, according to a press release.

YouTube has “I Still Have Faith In You” and a lyrics video of “Don’t Shut Me Down”.

(5) FIRST SIGHT OF STATEN ISLAND. The New York Times’ Alexis Soloski asks: “Does Harvey Guillén, of ‘What We Do in the Shadows,’ Look Familiar?”

“I’m not waiting for people’s permission to be comfortable in my body, in my queerness, in my brownness,” said Harvey Guillén, who was discouraged from acting early on….

On a blistering August afternoon, the actor Harvey Guillén bounced onto the grounds of Staten Island’s Snug Harbor.

For the past three years, Guillén has inhabited a fictional Staten Island as a star of “What We Do in the Shadows,” FX’s wackadoo vampire comedy. But “Shadows” shoots in Toronto. And Guillén had never before visited the actual New York borough, which he reached via ferry. (A movie musical devotee, he sneaked in a quick tribute to Barbra Streisand in “Funny Girl” on the way.) Snug Harbor, a former home for retired sailors and reputedly one of Staten Island’s most haunted places, seemed like a good place to start.

“It’s actually very pretty,” he said.

A local pointed out a nearby building where a grisly murder had purportedly taken place. “What kind of a murder?” Guillén asked, inflection rising like a party balloon.

An actor of effortless sweetness, he has infused shows like “Shadows,” “The Magicians” and “Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist” with kindness and deep humanity. (In many episodes of “Shadows,” he plays the only human.) What is he like offscreen? Let’s just say I had never met a man who seemed so immediately deserving of a lollipop…

(6) CAROLYN SHOEMAKER (1929-2021). If you remember comet Shoemaker-Levy 9, she’s one of the reasons for its name: “Carolyn Shoemaker, Hunter of Comets and Asteroids, Dies at 92”. The New York Times profiled the late skywatcher.  

Carolyn Shoemaker, who for more than a decade managed a telescopic camera with her husband from a high-altitude observatory in California and became widely regarded, without academic training, as the world’s foremost detector of comets and asteroids, died on Aug. 13 at a hospital in Flagstaff, Ariz. She was 92.

Her health had deteriorated after a fall a week earlier, her daughter Linda Salazar said.

Ms. Shoemaker’s career as a professional stargazer began when she was around 50, after Ms. Salazar, her youngest child, left for college. 

… One comet, known as Shoemaker-Levy 9 (named in part for their associate David Levy), had stood out from the rest. Rather than making a lonely journey through the cosmic vacuum, Shoemaker-Levy 9 was on a collision course with Jupiter. By detecting the comet shortly before impact, Ms. Shoemaker gave scientists an opportunity to examine whether or not comets slamming into planets represented major astronomical events — and to test the hypotheses of her husband’s work.

The result had all the drama the Shoemakers might have imagined: whirling fire balls, a plume of hot gas as tall as 360 Mount Everests and a series of huge wounds that appeared in Jupiter’s atmosphere. Amateur astronomers could witness much of it with store-bought telescopes….

(7) SAUNDERS REMEMBERED. A memorial was held for Charles R. Saunders on August 28. A replay of the livestream is available here. Cora Buhlert sent the link with a note, “Considering how vastly underrated Saunders was in life, I’m glad that he at least gets some recognition in death.” Charles Saunders (1946-2020), author of Imaro and Dossouye and creator of Sword and Soul, died in May 2020.

(8) MEMORY LANE.

  • 1955 – Sixty-six years ago at Clevention the Hugo Awards become a permanent part of the Worldcon. The first Hugo Awards had been held two years previously at the 11th Worldcon but the next Worldcon, SFCon, didn’t award them. The Toastmaster that year was Anthony Boucher with the Guests of Honor of being Isaac Asimov (Pro) and Sam Moskowitz (Special Mystery Guest). The identity of the latter was not revealed (even to the honoree) until the first night of the convention.

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born September 2, 1899 — Martin Miller. He played Kublai Khan in the completed but erased by the BBC First Doctor story, “Marco Polo.” He’s in the first Pink Panther film as Pierre Luigi, a photographer, and has roles in Danger ManDepartment SThe Avengers and The Prisoner. In the latter, he was number fifty-four in “It’s Your Funeral.” The Gamma People in which he played Lochner is I think his only true genre film though I’m obviously open to being told I’m wrong. (Died 1969.)
  • Born September 2, 1909 — David Stern III. Creator of the Francis the Talking Mule character who became the star of seven popular Universal-International film comedies. Stern adapted his own script for the first entry, simply titled Francis. Talking mules are genre, aren’t they? (Died 2003.)
  • Born September 2, 1911 — Eileen Way. She shows up on Doctor Who twice, first as Old Mother in the First Doctor story,  “The Forest of Fear” and later in a major role as Karela in the Fourth Doctor story, “The Creature from the Pit”. She’d also shows up on the non-canon Daleks’ Invasion Earth 2150 A.D. as simply Old Woman at the age of fifty five. Other genre appearances I think are limited to an appearance on Alcoa Presents: One Step Beyond. Well unless you count The Saint which is at best genre adjacent. (Died 1994.)
  • Born September 2, 1915 — Meinhardt Raabe. He was the last surviving Oz cast member with any dialogue in the film. He portrayed the coroner who certified the death of the Wicked Witch of the East. This film was his entire acting career. (Died 2010.)
  • Born September 2, 1936 — Gwyn Thomas. Welsh poet and academic who translated Tales from the Mabinogion with Kevin Crossley-Holland. “Chwedl Taliesin”, “The Tale of Taliesin”, was a short story by them as well. By the way my SJW credit is named Taliesin. And he tells a lot of tales.  (Died 2016.)
  • Born September 2, 1966 — Salma Hayek, 55. Her performance as Santanico Pandemoniumin From Dusk till Dawn is quite excellent. I can’t say the same for her performance as Rita Escobar in Wild Wild Wild West which got her nominated for a Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Supporting Actress. (The film currently has a twenty-eight percent rating among audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes.)  I really like her as Francesca Giggles in Spy Kids 3-D: Game Over. She’s Ajak in the forthcoming Eternals film based on the Jack Kirby comics.
  • Born September 2, 1968 — Kristen Cloke, 53. Captain Shane Vansen in the unfortunately short-loved Space: Above and Beyond, a damn fine series. She has one-offs in Quantum LeapThe X-FilesMillennium and The  Others. She co-wrote with Shannon Hamblin an episode of The X-Files, “Rm9sbG93ZXJz” which is base64 code for “Followers”. 

(10) COMICS SECTION.

  • Bizarro show somebody who should have paid more attention to his mother.

(11) CAT SCRATCH FEVER. This Kentucky high school has a ban on hats and Budweiser shirts, but furry garb meets the dress code? “Teen Furries Reportedly Taking Over Kentucky High School” reports Jezebel.

It’s back-to-school time all across the country, and in Kentucky, one district has an unexpected challenge in one of its high schools. WLKY-TV reported that high school students in the Meade County school district are attending school dressed as and acting like … cats.

One grandmother is upset. “Apparently, from what I understand, they’re called ‘furries,'” she said. “They identify with animals. These people will hiss at you or scratch at you if they don’t like something you’re doing. The students are told they can’t wear hats or Budweiser shirts in school, but they can wear cat ears, cat tails, masks, leashes. It doesn’t make sense.”

…Last week, someone identifying themselves only as an “MCHS student” started [a] Change.org petition that has so far garnered almost 1,000 signatures, calling out Meade County School District for hypocrisy…

Here’s the text of the petition: “Allow Hat Or Remove Animal Behavior/Clothing”.

Meade County School District decided to 100% ban hats and headwear. But it had come to the attention of many that furries/People who wish to be animals can still wear these animals ears, tail, and in a lot of cases even have each other on leashes. And this supports their behavior of these “furries” taking the actions of growling, hissing, or even scratching and biting at other people yet staff members seem to think it is okay. Yet when someone of non-authorities tells them to not do that that said person gets in trouble for nothing when this “furry” was making animal noises and actions towards them.

(12) WITH SHARP, POINTY TEETH. “’God of Death’ Whale Was Scourge of Land and Sea 43 Million Years Ago” says Smithsonian Magazine. Would you expect to find whale bones in the Egyptian desert? Apparently you should.

A 43-million-year-old fossil of prehistoric whale with four legs and very sharp teeth has been found in the Egyptian desert. Named after Anubis the god of death, this previously unknown amphibious species was about ten feet long with an impressive jaw that indicates a raptor-like feeding style, according to a new study published in the peer-reviewed journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B.

“We discovered how fierce and deadly its powerful jaws are capable of tearing a wide range of prey … this whale was a god of death to most of the animals that lived in its area,” lead author Abdullah Gohar, a Cetacean paleobiologist at Mansoura University in Egypt, tells Matthew Low of Insider

(13) WHAT THE EARLY BIRD GETS. An article in Astronomy & Astrophysics tells why gassy planets are bigger around more-massive stars: “Why do more massive stars host larger planets?”

Planets that form around more-massive stars can efficiently wrap themselves in a blanket of gas — making them larger than planets around less-massive stars.

More than 4,400 planets are confirmed to exist outside the Solar System. Among parent stars that have a mass lower than that of the Sun, comparably more-massive stars tend to host larger planets than do lower-mass stars. Astronomers have puzzled over why this might be.

Michael Lozovsky at the University of Zurich in Switzerland and his colleagues analyzed data from NASA’s database of exoplanets, and modeled what planets of different sizes and masses might be made of.

The authors’ calculations suggest that planets around relatively massive stars are more efficient at accreting hydrogen and helium gas from the swirling disks of gas and dust from which they form. These planets grow more quickly and so grow larger before the disk runs out of material and dissipates.

(14) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In “James Bond: Quantum of Solace”  on Screen Rant, Ryan George says Bond is battling Quantum, which is “a completely different organization with the exact same concept” as Spectre because they haven’t been able to resolve the rights issue over “Spectre.”  Also the villain is “a short little guy from France” and the producer notes that “James Bond fighting a tiny Frenchman” isn’t the big fight scene fans have come to expect.

[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, Liley Flor, David Doering, Jeffrey Smith, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, Michael Toman, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]

Pixel Scroll 9/1/21 Pixel At The Well Of Scrolls

(1) LIADEN UNIVERSE BULLETIN. Sharon Lee and Steve Miller report from the wilds of Maine on what’s upcoming.

  • Their fifth Liaden Universe Collection, Liaden Universe Constellation V, will be published February 1, 2022.
  • A mass market 30th anniversary reprint of Local Custom, a Liaden Universe® novel by Sharon Lee and Steve Miller, is coming  November 30, 2021. 
  • A Sharon Lee and Steve Miller Liaden holiday story is slated for mid-November at Baen.com, title and exact release date TBD.
  • Sooner than that: The mass-market version of Trader’s Leap by Sharon Lee and Steve Miller will be released September 28, 2021 — it is currently available in hardback and ebook. 
  • Sharon Lee and Steve Miller are the Guests of Honor at Albacon 2021 in September — held over from last year. This year it’ll be a virtual con held September 17-18.
  • Their chapbook Bad Actors, was published July 31, 2021 from the authors’ Pinbeam Books imprint and is widely available in ebook and paper. That’s their 33rd “Adventures in the Liaden Universe” chapbook. 
  • Also, on July 26, Sharon Lee and Steve Miller turned in Fair Trade, a Liaden Universe novel (#24), which is due to be published next year by Baen. The follow-up novel is under contract and started, due to be turned in next year. Two more Liaden novels are under contract thereafter.

(2) ADAPT & IMPROVE. Charlie Jane Anders’ newsletter discusses “Everything I Learned From Working on Season One of Y: The Last Man”.

Working on season one of Y: The Last Man was one of the coolest experiences of my life. I got to be in a writer’s room with some of the smartest minds in the biz, and learned a ton about story structure  — and how to think on your feet when your episode has to change completely for the ninth time, because we rethought the endgame of the season. But I also got a crash course in how to adapt and update a beloved classic. 

In Y: The Last Man, a mysterious event kills every mammal with a Y chromosome, except for one dude named Yorick Brown, and his pet monkey Ampersand. This is the setup for an epic journey across a shattered United States with the mysterious Agent 355 and the brilliant scientist Dr. Allison Mann. It’s also a vehicle for talking about what a world without patriarchy would look like, and how the survivors would rebuild, and expand to fill the spaces left by cis men. I love the comic’s playful approach to genre and the madcap verve with which it keeps reinventing itself, and I’m here for the “found family” aspect with the central trio. This is the comic that made me a fan of both writer Brian K. Vaughan and artist Pia Guerra.

There’s just one problem: the comic largely ignores the existence of trans people (and when it does mention us, the treatment is much worse than I had remembered.) Like many other classics, Y: The Last Man reflects the time when it was created — and when we adapt the things we love, we also have an obligation to update and improve them, especially where they have the potential to do harm to a marginalized community here and now….

(3) MOVING RIGHT ALONG. In conjunction with the new Amazon Prime TV show, Orbit UK is releasing the entire set of The Wheel of Time books in paperback with new covers, all of them showcased in a nifty animated GIF (which I’ll link to rather than embed so the strobe effect won’t drive us all to distraction.)

There’s also an Instagram video version with musical accompaniment. Design by Duncan Spilling. The books go on sale September 16 in the UK, just in time for folks to read The Eye of the World before the TV show is released in November

(4) A FOCUS ON NATURE. The South Pasadena (CA) Public Library is calling for patrons to Vote for One City One Story. This year’s theme is “Navigating Nature.” Two of the five titles proposed by the staff are genre. A video about the program is here. Voting ends at midnight on September 10, 2021. The winning title will be announced on September 27, 2021.

  • Entangled Life: How Fungi Make Our Worlds, Change Our Minds & Shape Our Futures by Merlin Sheldrake
  • The Hidden Life of Trees by Peter Wohlleben
  • Dune by Frank Herbert
  • Parable of the Sower by Octavia E. Butler
  • Salvage the Bones by Jesmyn Ward

(5) NO SECOND FIFTH. Chapter 61 of Camestros Felapton’s Debarkle is called “The Sad Demise of the SP5” but I remember laughing more than crying. Because when Declan Finn tried to commandeer the Sad Puppy steering wheel, Sarah Hoyt and Amanda Green smacked him with a rolled-up internet.

…While not mentioning Declan Finn by name, the post title identified his post as the issue. By using the name “Sad Puppies” Finn had apparently crossed a line, even though his open campaigning during Sad Puppies 4 had not visibly caused offence.

Green was clear though. Sad Puppies 5 was coming soon….

Green was also clear that she would be helping Hoyt with SP5 and also be taking over the reins (leads?) for SP6.

Facing a sudden and unexpected backlash to his list Declan Finn came to the only possible conclusion he could make. The negative reaction he was receiving must be coming from the comment section of the popular fanzine File 770!… 

(6) AN OUNCE OF PREVENTION. R. Talsorian Games is bowing out of Gen Con, which is happening September 16-19: “RTG Exiting Gen Con 2021”.

After considerable internal discussion, R. Talsorian Games has decided to exit Gen Con 2021. We don’t do this lightly. We had planned on our biggest Gen Con yet this year, with more events than ever, more booth space than ever, and a larger crew than ever.

And that’s why, in good conscience, we cannot attend the convention. The health and safety of our crew comes first and the numbers in Indiana are abysmal. The vaccination rates are too low, the positivity rates and new case rates too high, and the social mandates designed to protect people too few. If even one member of our crew caught COVID-19 while attending Gen Con or carried it home to their loved ones and their local community, that would be one too many.

At R. Talsorian Games, we write about Dark Futures for fun, but we also believe we have a responsibility to try and prevent them from happening.

We want to make it clear, we do not blame the staff of Gen Con 2021 or the Indiana Convention Center in any way. 

(7) AUREALIS AWARDS NEWS. The 2021 Aurealis Awards are open for entry through December 14.

The Aurealis Awards, Australia’s premier awards for speculative fiction, are for works created by an Australian citizen or permanent resident, and published for the first time between 1 January 2021 and 31 December 2021.

Full Award Rules and FAQ can be found on the Aurealis Awards website.

The Aurealis Awards judges welcome electronic entries in all categories, including novels, short stories, novellas, illustrated work / graphic novels, collections, anthologies, children’s and young adult fiction.

Finalists of all award categories will be announced early in 2022 and winners announced at a ceremony to take place in the first half of the year. For more information on the awards or for the entry form, visit the Aurealis Awards website at https://aurealisawards.org/.

The Convenors’ Award for Excellence is also open to entries.

This is awarded at the discretion of the convenors for a particular achievement in speculative fiction or related areas in the year that cannot otherwise be judged for the Aurealis Awards.

(8) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

  • 1974 – Forty-seven years ago today, Jefferson Starship’s Dragon Fly was released on Grunt Records, a vanity label founded in 1971 by themselves. It was the debut album for the recently renamed Jefferson Airplane. The entire album is somewhat SF in nature, particularly  “All Fly Away” and “Hyperdrive”.  Two years later, the latter song would be used in the opening ceremonies at MidAmeriCon.

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born September 1, 1875 — Edgar Rice Burroughs. Bradbury declared him “the most influential writer in the entire history of the world.” Now I’d not necessarily disagree or agree with that statement but I said last year that he has largely fallen out of public notice and I’ll stand by that claim. So what’s your favorite works by him? The Barsoom stories are mine. (Died 1950.)
  • Born September 1, 1942 — C. J. Cherryh, 79. I certainly think the Hugo Award-winning Downbelow Station and Cyteen are amazing works but I think my favorite works by her are the Merchanter novels such as Rimrunners. Anyone familiar with “Cassandra“, the short story she won a Hugo for at Seacon ‘79? What’s it part of? 
  • Born September 1, 1943 — Erwin Strauss, 79. I’m not sure I can do him justice. Uberfan, noted member of the MITSFS, and filk musician. He frequently is known by the nickname “Filthy Pierre” which I’m sure is a story in itself that one of you will no doubt tell me. Created the Voodoo message board system used at a number of cons and published an APA, The Connection, that ran for at least thirty years. Do tell me about him. 
  • Born September 1, 1952 — Timothy Zahn, 69. Apparently he’s known more these days for the Thrawn series of Star Wars novels, but oh, ok, so it is perhaps better written and more interesting than his mainstream genre sf. His sole Hugo Award was at L.A.Con II for his “Cascade Point” novella, and he get a nomination at Aussiecon Two for “Return to the Fold” novelette. 
  • Born September 1, 1952 — Brad Linaweaver. Alternate history Moon of Ice is one of his better works and it won the Prometheus Award for Best Libertarian SF Novel. It was nominated for a Nebula though oddly as a novella which it was originally published as. He owned the brass cannon which was the property of the Heinleins and which Virginia bequeathed to him in her will. (Died 2019.)
  • Born September 1, 1964 — Martha Wells, 57. She’s won two Nebula Awards, three Locus Awards, and two Hugo Awards.  Impressive. And she was toastmaster of the World Fantasy Convention in 2017 where she delivered a speech called “Unbury the Future”. Need I note the Muderbot Diaries are truly amazing reading?
  • Born September 1, 1967 — Steve Pemberton, 54. He’s on the Birthday List for being Strackman Lux in the most excellent Eleventh Doctor stories of “Silence in the Library” and “Forest of the Dead” but he has other genre credits including being Drumknott in Terry Pratchett’s Going Postal, Professor Mule in the Gormenghast series and Harmony in the Good Omens series as well.
  • Born September 1, 1968 — Zak Penn, 53. He wrote the script for The Incredible Hulk, co-wrote the scripts for X2X-Men: The Last Stand, and the story but not the script for The Avengers. With Michael Karnow, Penn is the co-creator of the Alphas series. He contributed to the script of The Men in Black. 

(10) INSIDE LYNCH’S DUNE. At Deadline, “‘Dune’ 1984: Francesca Annis, The Original Lady Jessica, Lifts The Lid On Life Behind The Scenes Of David Lynch’s Epic, The ‘Heaven’s Gate’ Of Sci-Fi”. The interviewer is the actress’ son.

…It’s kind of funny. You were well known for doing a lot of well-received classical and period film, TV and stage work. But just before Dune, you’d also done Peter Yates’ Krull, which was another massive-budget sci-fi adventure movie. People don’t know the movie well these days but it was a big production. And sadly, another big flop…

Yes, it’s been a shame for me — or maybe it was a hidden blessing — that the few very big-budget things I’ve done didn’t take off, otherwise I would have risen with them…

When you first read the script for Dune did it seem complicated or convoluted? People have always said how difficult the novels would be to adapt…

I’ll tell you, when I first went to see the film at the premiere — and I’ve only seen it once – as soon as Princess Irulan started to talk in voice-over at the beginning, explaining the story, I thought “Uh oh, this film is in trouble.” Any Hollywood film that has to explain itself in detail at the beginning is in trouble…

My experience of working on Dune was that if David Lynch had been able to make his own film, it would have been brilliant, but unfortunately Dino oversaw every single tiny thing. Dino was already thinking about the video sales. David had wanted to make the scenes very dark, all the underworlds very dark and look very sinister. Dino wouldn’t allow it. It had to be lit brightly so that it would transfer well to video, where I think at that time things went down a shade. David and DoP Freddie Francis were constantly being hamstrung and I don’t think David made the film he wanted to make.

I was a big David Lynch fan. I thought he was terrific. But Dino was a huge personality. He had tapped David to do multiple films….

(11) SCOTS WITCH HISTORY. “Double, double toil and trouble: New exhibition uncovers the dark history of witchcraft in Scotland” reports The Press and Journal.

The exhibition is aptly named “Toil & Trouble” as a homage to a poem spoken by the witches in William Shakespeare’s Macbeth, which was first performed in 1606 – a time when accusations of witchcraft were rife.

Examining and compiling the dark history of witchcraft into an online experience, the students focused specifically on the period between the 16th and 18th centuries.

The exhibition has launched this week, just as Holyrood heard a plea for the Queen to pardon thousands of Scottish women brutally killed in witch trials.

The online exhibit can be accessed here: “Toil and Trouble · Toil and Trouble: Witchcraft in Scotland”.

(12) VISIT THE CONCATE-NATION. SF² Concatenation has just Tweeted an advance alert of an article ahead of their seasonal edition.

In 2017 an oddly-shaped object whizzed through the Solar system.

Astronomer and SF author Duncan Lunan looks at some exotic, some positively SFnal, explanations.

(13) HAIR TODAY, GONE TOMORROW. Heroes & Icons tells “The Story of the Signature Star Trek Sideburn”.

…The origin of the distinct sideburn pointiness came after filming the second pilot for the series, Where No Man Has Gone Before, which is the last episode you can find of Kirk and the crew sporting normal sidebdurns. “Normal” being a lot bushier for the 60’s mind you.

With the series being picked up, Gene Roddenberry wanted the cast to commit to having a futuristic hairstyle going forward. For the sole reason of wanting a social life outside the set without having to look like men of the future, the cast disagreed….

(14) HONEST GAME TRAILERS. Fandom Games says “NEO: The World Begins With You” lets you reenter a world where “Spiky-haired protagonists with terrible fashion sense” enter “history’s hippest purgatory.”

(15) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In “The Marvel Leak Protection Tutorial” on Screen Rant and written by Seb Decter, Jack Eastcott plays C.I  Foreman., MCU Leak preventer, who warns “those nerds are everywhere” and if you see an MCU actor on the set squirming, it’s because this guy has cue cards telling the guy not to leak.(This dropped today and Ryan George doesn’t have anything to do with this one.)

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Jeffrey Smith, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, James Davis Nicoll, Steve Miller, Andrew Porter, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, and Michael Toman for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to contributing editor of the day Jon Meltzer.]

Pixel Scroll 12/31/19 God Stalk Ye Merry Gentle Kzin

(1) PREACH IT! As the decade comes to an end, Cat Rambo comments on the writers driving the changes she aspires to keep pace with — “The New Rude Masters of Fantasy & Science Fiction – and Romance”.  One segment addresses “The Weaponization of Civility” —

As I’ve said, one cudgel used in this fight is a demand for civility, and I’m seeing it raised again in the debate surrounding the RWA ejecting Courtney Milan for speaking up. Courtesy becomes weaponized, a way of silencing. A way of forcing others to wait for the conversational turn that never gets ceded. Note Silverberg calling Jemisin’s speech “graceless and vulgar” and Spinrad weighing in to call Ng “swinish.” I cannot help but think that these men are less upset by what was said, than that it was not delivered with the deference that they felt Campbell, a proxy for themselves, deserved.

Hegemonic structures replicate themselves, continually pretending to reinvent and innovate but doing so in the same old forms. Traditional publishing is as prone to this as any other social structure. Indie writers get treated as though they were the nouveau riche, obsessed with money, when many of them are actually making a living at writing in a way our forebears—Chaucer, Shakespeare, Gilman—would have totally approved of. The truth is being a New York Times best-selling author doesn’t mean one is rolling around on moneypiles like Scrooge McDuck unless you’re part of a very very small group. For things to truly change, publishing must bring in new voices and not just allow them, but encourage them to speak.

Those voices are a diverse group, but one thing they often share is a lack of economic privilege, the sort that allows one to work as an unpaid intern, or pay for the grad school that gives one time enough to write or resources for focusing on craft rather than survival. That’s part of the undercurrent in those cries about vulgarity: an unease with people who haven’t undergone the same social shaping features, who may not have been signed off on by society with a standardized degree. To ignore the ways otherness has been used to justify discouraging those others is to be complicit in that act of silencing. And that, I would argue, is about as rude as it gets.

(2) SHORT STORY MARKET. Heather Rose Jones’ Lesbian Historic Motif Podcast will be open for short story submissions for audio publication during the month of January 2020.

Stories should be set in an identifiable pre-1900 time and place but may include fantastic elements that are either consistent with the setting or with the literature of that setting. And, of course, stories should center on a female character whose primary emotional orientation within the context of the story is toward other women.

Payment is the current SWFA rate of $0.08 per word. For full details, see the “Call for Submissions”.

(3) BE ON THE LOOKOUT. At Dragonmount: A Wheel of Time Community, JenniferL gets the logs rolling with “How Wheel of Time can Win a Hugo Award”.

Wheel of Time’s last chance

Despite its popularity and far-reaching impact on the fantasy genre, Robert Jordan and The Wheel of Time have never won a Hugo Award. 

In 2014 the entire WoT series was nominated for (but did not win) the “Best Novel” award. The “Best Series” category did not exist at the time. WoT’s nomination caused a controversial stir, as some people didn’t feel it was appropriate to consider the entire 15-book Wheel of Time series as one single work. This helped prompt the World Science Fiction Society, which awards the Hugos, to add a new category in 2017, the “Best Series” award. 

At the time, it didn’t mean much for The Wheel of Time, but it did enable several other long-running and popular series (including Brandon Sanderson’s Stormlight Archive) to be recognized with nominations and awards. 

And now The Wheel of Time will have one more chance to potentially earn a Hugo Award. 

Earlier this year, in 2019, Brandon Sanderson published “A Fire Within the Ways”, a short story that was included in the Unfettered III anthology from Grim Oaks Press. This written sequence contained a lng set of “deleted scenes” from A Memory of Light. With Harriet’s permission, the scenes were lightly edited and submitted for publication in the Unfettered III anthology, with proceeds going to support health care needs for writers in need.  According to the WSFS bylaws, any new installment to a written series, regardless of length, makes The Wheel of Time eligible for the Best Series award. Therefore, A Fire Within the Ways makes WoT eligible for the first–and likely only–time.

(4) AUSTRALIAN FIRES CLAIM FAN’S HOME. BBC has been reporting all day on the fate of the Australian resort town of Mallacoota as the east Victoria bush fires overtook it. Moshe Feder reports, “I just heard from Carey Handfield that longtime fan Don Ashby has lost his home to the fire.”

(5) CHANGE BACK FROM YOUR DECADE. Andrew Liptak’s “Reading List, December 30th, 2019” sums up the decade in 8 news stories.

…Plus, I think that there’s a better way to look at the decade: how did science fiction and fantasy storytelling change in the last ten years? Why? After consulting with a number of authors, editors, and agents, it’s clear that the entertainment industry and SF/F have experienced major changes in the last ten years, from the introduction of streaming services, to Disney’s franchise domination, gender and politics within SF/F, self-publishing, and a growing acceptance of SF/F content within mainstream culture. This list is broken down into those categories, with a representative example or two from each section.

Here’s how the decade changed in 8 stories.

(6) FUTURE TENSE. Slate has put up a list of the sff stories they published this year as part of the Future Tense Fiction series: “All of the Sci-Fi Stories We Published This Year”.

Future Tense started experimenting with publishing science fiction in 2016 and 2017, but we really invested in it in 2018, publishing one story each month. That year was capped off by Annalee Newitz’s quirky and urgent “When Robot and Crow Saved East St. Louis,” which won the Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award for the best short science fiction of the year. Our hope was that these glimpses into possible futures could provide a thought-provoking parallel to our coverage of emerging technology, policy, and society today, inviting us to imagine how the decisions we’re making today might shape the way we live tomorrow, illuminating key decision points and issues that we might not be giving enough attention.

(7) MEN IN THE RED. “The greatest work of science fiction I’ve ever been involved with – my Men in Black profit statement” — “1997 hit ‘Men In Black’ is still yet to make a profit says screenwriter”.

Men In Black, the 1997 sci-fi comedy starring Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones, remains in the red despite making $589 million (£448 million) at the global box office over 20 years ago. Adjusted for inflation, that translates to $944 million (£718 million) in 2019 money, not taking into account extra ticket prices for 3D or IMAX.

This is according to the film’s screenwriter Ed Solomon, who adapted Lowell Cunningham’s comic book seriews for Sony Pictures, who then turned it into a mega-blockbuster with a $90 million (£68 million) budget that spawned three sequels and an animated series, not to mention shifting piles of merchandise.

Solomon, who also wrote all three Bill & Ted films, Now You See Me, and Charlie’s Angels (2000), shared on Twitter that he had received his “Men In Black profit statement” from the studio over the festive period which said that the film had lost “6x what it lost last period”, linking back to a previous tweet from June this year that said the film was “STILL in the red”….

(8) MEAD OBIT. In sadder news, Syd Mead, an artist who worked on Blade Runner, Aliens, and Star Trek: The Motion Picture, has passed away. Variety has the story.

…Mead started his design career in the auto, electronics and steel industries working for Ford Motor Co., Sony, U.S. Steel and Phillips Electronics. He then transitioned to film. His career began as a production illustrator working with director Robert Wise (“West Side Story”) to create Earth’s nemesis V’Ger in the 1979 “Star Trek: The Motion Picture.”

He continued fusing technology with creativity, bringing to life some of the biggest films in science fiction. In 1982, he served as a visual futurist on “Blade Runner,” before collaborating as a conceptional artist with director Steven Lisberger  on the 1982 “Tron.”

He explained his inspiration for “Blade Runner” to Curbed in 2015, “For a city in 2019, which isn’t that far from now, I used the model of Western cities like New York or Chicago that were laid out after the invention of mass transit and automobiles, with grids and linear transport. I thought, we’re at 2,500 feet now, let’s boost it to 3,000 feet, and then pretend the city has an upper city and lower city. The street level becomes the basement, and decent people just don’t want to go there. In my mind, all the tall buildings have a sky lobby, and nobody goes below the 30th floor, and that’s the way life would be organized,” Mead said.

(9) INNES OBIT. Neil Innes, best known for his work with the Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band, The Rutles and in collaboration with Monty Python, has died at the age of 75.

…A spokesperson for the Innes family said he had not been suffering from any illness and had passed away unexpectedly on Sunday night.

…In the 1970s, Innes became closely associated with British comedy collective Monty Python, contributing sketches and songs like Knights of the Round Table and Brave Sir Robin, as well as appearing in their classic films The Holy Grail and Life of Brian.

He wrote and performed sketches for their final TV series in 1974 after John Cleese temporarily left, and was one of only two non-Pythons to be credited as a writer, alongside The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy author Douglas Adams.

A film about Innes called The Seventh Python was made in 2008.

(10) TODAY IN HISTORY.

  • December 31, 1958 The Crawling Eye premiered. In the U.K, it was called The Trollenberg Terror. Directed by Quentin Lawrence, it stars Forrest Tucker, Laurence Payne, Jennifer Jayne, and Janet Munro. Les Bowiec who worked on Submarine X-1 did the special effects. The film is considered to be one of the inspirations for Carpenter’s The Fog. Critics found it to be inoffensive and over at Rotten Tomatoes, it currently a thirty percent rating among reviewers. 

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born December 31, 1937 Anthony Hopkins, 82. I think one of his most impressive roles was as Richard in The Lion in Winter but we can’t even call that genre adjacent, can we? He was, during that period, also King Claudius in Hamlet. I’ll say playing Ian McCandless in Freejack is his true genre role, and being Professor Abraham Van Helsing In Bram Stoker’s Dracula is a plum of a genre role. It’s a better role than he as Odin has the MCU film franchise. What else have I missed that I should note? 
  • Born December 31, 1943 Ben Kingsley, 76. Speaking of Kipling, he voiced Bagherra in the live action adaptation that Disney did of The Jungle Book. He was also in Iron Man 3 as Trevor Slattery, a casting not well received. He’s The Hood in Thunderbirds (directed by Frakes btw), Charles Hatton in A Sound of Thunder and Merenkahre in Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb, the third of three great popcorn films.
  • Born December 31, 1945 Connie Willis, 74. She has won eleven Hugo Awards and seven Nebula Awards for her work, a feat that impresses even me, someone who isn’t generally impressed as you know by Awards! Of her works, I’m most pleased by To Say Nothing of the Dog, Doomsday Book and Bellwether, an offbeat novel look at chaos theory. I’ve not read enough of her shorter work to give an informed opinion of it, so do tell me what’s good there.
  • Born December 31, 1945 Barbara Carrera, 74. She is known for being the SPECTRE assassin Fatima Blush in Never Say Never Again, and as Maria in The Island of Dr. Moreau. And she was Victoria Spencer in the really awful Embryo, a film that that over five hundred review reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes give a sixteen percent rating. 
  • Born December 31, 1949 Ellen Datlow, 70. Let’s start this Birthday note by saying I own a complete set of The Year’s Best Fantasy & Horror which yes , I know it was titled The Year’s Best Fantasy for the first year. And I still read stories for them from time to time. If that was all she had done, she’d have been one of our all-time anthologists but she also, again with Terri Windling, did the Fairy Tale and Mythic Fiction series, both of which I highly recommend. On her own, she has the ongoing Best Horror of Year, now a decade old, and the Tor.com anthologies which I’ve not read but I assume collect the fiction from the site. Speaking of Tor.com, she’s an editor there, something she’s also done at Nightmare MagazineOmni, the hard copy magazine and online, and Subterranean Magazine. 
  • Born December 31, 1953 Jane Badler,  66. I first encountered her on the Australian-produced Mission Impossible where she played Shannon Reed for the two seasons of that superb series. She’s apparently best known as Diana, the main antagonist on V, but I never saw any of that series being overseas at the time. She shows up in the classic Fantasy Island, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Lost World, Bitch, Popcorn & Blood and Virtual Revolution.
  • Born December 31, 1958 Bebe Neuwirth, 61. She’s had but one television SF credit to her name which is playing a character named Lanel in the “First Contact” episode of the Next Gen series during season four, but I found a delightful genre credential for her. From April 2010 to December 2011, she was Morticia Addams in the Broadway production of The Addams Family musical! The show itself is apparently still ongoing. 
  • Born December 31, 1959 Val Kilmer,  60. Lead role in Batman Forever where I fought he did a decent job, Madmartigan in Willow, Montgomery in The Island of Dr. Moreau, voiced both Moses and God in The Prince of Egypt, uncredited role as El Cabillo in George and the Dragon and voiced KITT in the not terribly we’ll conceived reboot of Knight Rider. Best role? Ahhh, that’d be Doc Holliday in Tombstone.
  • Born December 31, 1971 Camilla Larsson, 48. Therese in the first series of Real Humans on Swedish television. She was Jenny in the Mormors magiska vind series which is definitely genre given it’s got a ghost and pirate parrots in it! 

(12) COMICS SECTION.

  • Lio warns us that pocket universes can pop up unexpectedly.
  • Scroll down to the third cartoon – a classic from The Far Side as cops deduce what killed these cats…

(13) THE LONELINESS OF GENERAL HUX. [Item by Olav Rokne.] Nobody really understands the motivations of General Hux in the most recent Star Wars movie, so Slate Magazine’s Dan Kois (@DanKois) gets into Hux’ head with excerpts from the General’s private diaries: “The Lost Diaries of General Hux”. The results are laugh-out-loud funny: 

Kylo Ren loves making little comments about Starkiller Base. “I sense a great regret in your heart about the failure of your planet-sized death machine,” he says. It hurts my feelings. I spent years managing that project, prime years of my career, and I only got to blow up one star system before the whole thing was destroyed. Which, incidentally, was the fault of those horrid contractors, not me. I can’t complain to Ren, obviously. I wish there was someone I could talk to! I ordered a therapist droid from the medical bay but Snoke had them all reprogrammed to say “Your problems are inconsequential, focus only on crushing the Resistance.” No one knows how to reboot them. It’s too bad—therapy is supposed to be covered in the medical plan, and a lot of our nameless young stormtroopers could stand to talk things out about their kidnapping, parents being killed, etc.

(14) BACKSTAGE. NPR’s Petra Mayer finds out that “‘Harry Potter And The Cursed Child’ Makes Its Magic The Old-Fashioned Way”.

When the creators of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child were working on adapting the wizarding world for the stage, they knew a lot of people have seen the Harry Potter movies. And they didn’t want to reproduce the things most people have already seen.

The result is a spectacle that relies much more on human-powered magic than special effects trickery. And the show’s creators have documented that process in a lavish new coffee-table book, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child: The Journey. So I went on my own journey, backstage at the current Broadway production, to see how that magic is made.

Around and under the stage of Manhattan’s Lyric Theater, there’s a warren of corridors and staircases so complex you almost expect to pop out in Hogsmeade. But instead, I end up in a rubber-floored workout room where today’s cast is warming up for the show, directed by movement captain James Brown III (who also plays the magisterially surly Bane the Centaur).

It’s pretty intense. There’s yoga, stretching, and some hard-core calisthenics. Grunts and groans ripple around the room as Brown leads everyone through their paces. This isn’t usual for a Broadway show, but then not that many shows are this physical. The actors in Cursed Child create effects that would have been done digitally onscreen with their own bodies, and with the help of some special crew members.

(15) PAST GAS. BBC posted its collection of “The best space images of 2019”.

With some blockbuster space missions under way, 2019 saw some amazing images beamed back to Earth from around the Solar System. Meanwhile, some of our most powerful telescopes were trained on the Universe’s most fascinating targets. Here are a few of the best.

Up in the clouds

Nasa’s Juno spacecraft has been sending back stunning images of Jupiter’s clouds since it arrived in orbit around the giant planet in 2016. This amazing, colour-enhanced view shows patterns that look like they were created by paper marbling. The picture was compiled from four separate images taken by the spacecraft on 29 May.

(16) FOR YOUR LISTENING PLEASURE. Oscar and Grammy-winning film composer Hans Zimmer wrote the theme music for the BBC podcast 13 Minutes to the Moon. He shares how Nasa’s historic Apollo 11 mission influenced his work in the BBC video “Hans Zimmer: What inspired 13 Minutes to the Moon’s music?”

“The problem is when you write about space, [as] we all know, there is no sound in space.”

Click the link to hear the full theme music from 13 Minutes to the Moon.

(17) UNDEAD SUPERHEROES. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] The LARGE majority of this list had me mentally screaming, “Noooooooo.“ In my very loudest mental voice. I’ve left out the reasons cited for wanting to bring each of them back in reproducing the list below. It’s kinder that way. CBR.com lists “10 Saturday Morning Cartoon Superheroes That Need To Be Resurrected”

Saturday morning cartoons. Before the advent of 24-hour cartoon networks and streaming services, this was the only way for kids to get their fill of both animated fare and sugary cereals. It was a Golden Age filled with characters that ran or drove past the same scene several times, animals that talked, and scrappy puppies that saved older cartoon franchises.

In the 1960s and 70s, it was also the place where superheroes came to life. Not only familiar ones like Superman, Batman, Spider-Man, and the Fantastic Four. But also ones created for that precious five hours of time on Saturday’s. Some would continue on beyond this era. Others would vanish around the same time they premiered. Yet, they all have a space in our dusty and aging hearts. To honor these pioneers, here are 10 Saturday morning cartoon superheroes that need to be resurrected.

10 Captain Caveman

9 Superstretch and Microwoman

8 Frankenstein, Jr.

7 Web Woman

6 The Galaxy Trio

5 Freedom Force

4 Blue Falcon

3 Super President

2 Birdman

1 Space Ghost

(18) THIS IS THE CARD YOU’RE LOOKING FOR. Baby Yoda’s trading card — “Star Wars: The Mandalorian TOPPS NOW” — you have only five days left to order it.

TOPPS NOW celebrates the greatest moments… as they happen!

(19) CLEVER COMMERCIAL. “Not genre but will put a smile on your face,” promises John King Tarpinian.

[Thanks to Michael Toman, Andrew Porter, Cat Eldridge, Martin Morse Wooster, John King Tarpinian, Olav Rokne, Darrah Chavey, Mike Kennedy, N., Heather Rose Jones, Nina Shepardson, Chip Hitchcock, Moshe Feder, and JJ for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]