2024 Colorado Book Awards

The 2024 Colorado Book Awards winners were announced on June 21. Awards are presented in 15 categories by Colorado Humanities to celebrate the accomplishments of Colorado’s outstanding authors, editors, illustrators, and photographers.

Winners of genre interest are —

SCIENCE FICTION/FANTASY

  • Dark Moon Shallow Sea by David R Slayton

SHORT STORY

  • “Uranians” by Theodore McCombs

Pixel Scroll 6/21/24 Asleep At The Wheel Of Time

(1) WOOKIEEPEDIA IS TARGET OF HARASSMENT. ScreenRant tells why “Wookieepedia Under Fire For Changing Ki-Adi-Mundi’s Birth Date After The Acolyte”.

Wookipedia, the official Star Wars wiki, has come under fire after making an edit to Ki-Adi-Mundi’s canon page based on The Acolyte. Jedi Master Ki-Adi-Mundi is hardly the most famous character in the Star Wars franchise; the Cerean Jedi has only a handful of lines, and his most notable moment in canon was ordering a flavorless slushie in John Jackson Miller’s tremendous book The Living Force. But Ki-Adi-Mundi’s cameo in The Acolyte has turned into a source of controversy based on his date of birth.

Wookipedia, the official Star Wars wiki, updated its page on Ki-Adi-Mundi to reflect the fact he’s canonically alive during The Acolyte, 100 years before Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace. The editors on the site were shocked at the strength of the backlash, with some even receiving death threats….

Ki-Adi-Mundi‘s age was previously established in only two sources: a 1999 CD-ROM released after Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace and a 2013 trading card. George Lucas himself contradicted some of the contents of the CD-ROM when he changed Ki-Adi-Mundi’s lightsaber color in later movies, and both were rendered non-canon by Disney in 2014. In canon, Ki-Adi-Mundi’s age has never been specified.

The problem is less with the change of canon than the current backlash against The Acolyte, which has even seen a review-bombing campaign on Rotten Tomatoes. Wookipedia is simply the latest target; all the site’s editors have actually done is update the information on the canon character page, but that simple act has unfortunately received a backlash. Some trolls have taken to sharing images of Ki-Adi-Mundi’s Legends page, carefully edited to remove the “Legends” banner – which certainly illustrates that this whole debate isn’t in good faith.

(2) EXPENSIVE RELIC OF FIRST WORLDCON. Frank R. Paul’s artwork for the first Worldcon program book (1939) was sold for $10,200 today by Heritage Auctions.

Frank R. Paul World Science Fiction Convention – Nycon Program Book Illustration Original Art (Nycon, 1939). From the first ever World Science Fiction Convention (aka Worldcon) in 1939! And the art is by noted sci-fi artist Frank R. Paul, which makes this doubly desirable! The original art for this program banner was created in ink and signed in the lower right of the 20.5″ x 3.25″ image area. UV Glass-front framed to 29″ x 12.75″. Lightly toned, with some minor whiteout art clean-ups. In Very Good condition. From the Roger Hill Collection.

(3) PUBLISHING PENDULUM SWINGING? Book Riot’s Jeff O’Neal asks the question “Has the DEI Backlash Come for Publishing?” and looks for the answer in The Atlantic:

Dan Sinykin and Richard Jean So have some fascinating data in The Atlantic. In looking at the racial breakdown of more than 1700 novels published by major publishers in the last five years (2019 – 2023), Sinykin and So found that the percentage by nonwhite writers doubled, from a meager 8% in 2019 to a better, though still well short of U.S. demographics, 16% in 2023. This is tremendous progress and, anecdotally, feels about right. The framing of the piece is in the context of Lisa Lucas’ firing from Pantheon, which is both relevant as the sharp rise roughly corresponds with the environment Lucas was hired in. And they are right, as is anyone, to mention that there is still work to be done. However, the scale of the increase makes me wonder if we are over-indexing on one or two notable, public names rather than the hundreds and hundreds of books by writers of color that just weren’t being published in the last five years. Do the firing of these editors portend a stagnation, or worse a regression, in these numbers? It’s possible. It is also possible that things really are different now, even as they should be more different still. I look forward to seeing these numbers again in five years…and that the pie is even more equitably sliced then.

(4) EATING THE FANTASTIC. Scott Edelman invites listeners to bite into a burrito with writer Elwin Cotman in Episode 228 of the Eating the Fantastic podcast.

Elwin Cotman

This time around my guest is Elwin Cotman, with whom I slipped away for dinner at the nearby R&R Taqueria.

Cotman’s short story collection Dance on Saturday, published by Small Beer Press, was one of the finalists for the 2021 Philip K. Dick Award. His latest short story collection, Weird Black Girls, was released two months ago as this episode goes live.

He’s also the author of three other books: the poetry collection The Wizard’s Homecoming, plus the short story collections The Jack Daniels Sessions EP and Hard Times Blues. His writing has appeared in GristElectric LitBuzzfeedThe Southwestern Review, and The Offing, plus many others venues. He’s worked as a video game consultant and writer for Square Enix. His debut novel The Age of Ignorance will be published by Scribner in 2025.

We discussed why forcing science fictional elements into non-science fictional stories can weaken them, the interdimensional cross-genre story cycle he hopes to write someday about a wrestling family, the way the novella is his natural length, why he loves Robert E. Howard’s Hyborian Age stories, how to create compelling metaphors and similes, the way rereading Tama Janowitz’s Slaves of New York helped him with the connective tissue of his own sentences, the reason Mary Gaitskill is the world’s greatest living writer, and much more.

(5) STOKER’S FAN LETTER. “’Dracula’ Author Bram Stoker’s Extraordinary Love Letter to Walt Whitman” in The Marginalian. Here is the introduction; the text of both letters is at the link.

A quarter century before his now-classic epistolary novel Dracula catapulted Abraham “Bram” Stoker (November 8, 1847–April 20, 1912) into literary celebrity, the twenty-four-year-old aspiring author used the epistolary form for a masterpiece of a different order. Still months away from his first published short story, he composed a stunning letter of admiration and adoration to his great literary idol: Walt Whitman (May 31, 1819–March 26, 1892).

Long before William James coined the notion of stream of consciousness, Stoker poured forth a long stream of sentiment cascading through various emotions — surging confidence bordering on hubris, delicate self-doubt, absolute artist-to-artist adoration — channeled with the breathless intensity of a love letter, without interruption. He had fallen under Whitman’s spell when Leaves of Grass made its belated debut in England in 1868, with Whitman’s stunning preface to the 1855 edition. Stoker would later recount that ever since that initial enchantment, he had been wishing to pour out his heart in such a way “but was, somehow, ashamed or diffident — the qualities are much alike.” In February of 1872, the time for this effusion of enchantment seemed to have come.

But it was a fleeting moment of courage — Stoker couldn’t bring himself to mail his extraordinary letter. For four years, it haunted his desk, part muse and part goblin….

(6) RUSS AND HACKER CORRESPONDENCE. “Intelligent, Attractive, Powerful Lesbians Conquering the World” quotes The Paris Review.

The following correspondence between Joanna Russ and Marilyn Hacker is drawn from a new edition of Russ’s On Strike Against God (1980), edited by Alec Pollak, to be published by Feminist Press in July. You can read Pollak’s introduction to the work of Joanna Russ on the Daily here.

Here’s an excerpt from the Russ letter:

…Suppose, for example, in The Left Hand of Darkness, Estraven hadn’t died? What a bloody moral mess Le Guin would have on her (I almost wrote “his”) hands! Here we have an alien hermaphrodite and a male human (who’s not quite real) in bed together. Worse still, living together. Could they live happily ever after? What would the real quality of their feeling for each other be? Could they get along? (Probably not.) Would they end up quarreling? (Their heat periods don’t match, let alone culture shock.) So the great old Western Tragic Love Story is called in to wipe out all the very human, very real questions, and we can luxuriate in passion without having to really explore the relationship. You see what I mean….

And The Paris Review has an additional, separate article “On Joanna Russ”.

Bury Your Gays: the latest tongue-in-cheek name for authors’ tendency to end queer relationships by killing somebody off, or having someone revert to heterosexuality, or introducing something that abruptly ends a queer storyline. The message: queer love is doomed, fated for tragedy. The trope has existed for decades, and although there are plenty of books and movies and television shows now that aren’t guilty of it, Bury Your Gays is by no means a thing of the past. In 2016, the death of The 100 character Lexa reintroduced Bury Your Gays to a whole new generation and reminded seasoned viewers—who could recall the infamous death of the character Tara Maclay on Buffy the Vampire Slayer—that the trope was alive and well. More recently, Killing Eve’s series finale reminded viewers yet again.  

Joanna Russ (1937–2011), who wrote genre-bending feminist fiction throughout the seventies and whose The Female Man (1975) catapulted her to fame at the height of the women’s movement, agonized over Bury Your Gays. In 1973, Russ was writing On Strike Against God (1980), an explicitly lesbian campus novel about feminist self-discovery and coming out. But her head was, in her words, “full of heterosexual channeling.” She felt constrained—enraged, often—by the limited possibilities for how to write queer life, but she struggled to imagine otherwise. “How can you write about what really hasn’t happened?” Russ appealed to her friend, the poet Marilyn Hacker, as she pondered the relationship between life and literature for people whose identities, desires, and ambitions were erased and denounced by mainstream culture….

(7) MEMORY LANE.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

June 21, 1991 The Rocketeer. There are some films that I just like without reservation. One of these is The Rocketeer, released internationally as The Adventures of the Rocketeer, that premiered on this date in the States thirty-three years ago. I’ve seen this one at least three or four times. It’s proof that the Disney can actually be creative unlike the Marvel films which have all the weakness of a franchise undertaking. (End of rant. I promise.)

It was directed by Joe Johnston whose only previous genre film was Honey, I Shrunk the Kids and produced by the trio of Charles Gordon, Lawrence Gordon and Lloyd Levin. None had done anything that suggested they’d be up to this level of excellence. (Yes, my bias is showing.) The script was by Danny Bilson and Paul De Meo who did the most excellent Trancers. Bilson wrote the story along with Paul De Meo and William Dear.

Now the source material was the stellar Rocketeer graphic novel series that the late Dave Steven was responsible for. If you’ve not read it, why not?

The cast of Bill Campbell, Alan Arkin, Jennifer Connelly, Paul Sorvino and Timothy Dalton was just damn perfect. And there wasn’t anything in the film from the design of the Rocketeer outfit itself to the creation of the Nazi Zeppelin which was a thirty-two-foot-long model that isn’t spot on. Cool, very cool. The visual effects were designed and done by George Lucas’ ILM. 

Disney being Disney never did actually release an actual production budget but Variety figured that it cost at least forty million, if not much more. It certainly didn’t make much as it only grossed forty seven million at the very best. 

So what did critics at the time think of this stellar film? 

Well, Ebert of Chicago Sun-Times liked it: “The movie lacks the wit and self-mocking irony of the Indiana Jones movies, and instead seems like a throwback to the simple-minded, clean-cut sensibility of a less complicated time.” 

Pete Travers  of the Rolling Stone was equally upbeat: “But then the film is awash in all kinds of surprises that are too juicy to reveal. The Rocketeer is more than one of the best films of the summer; it’s the kind of movie magic that we don’t see much anymore — the kind that charms us, rather than bullying us, into suspending disbelief.” 

Audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes give it an excellent sixty-seven percent rating.  It is of course streaming on Disney +. 

It was nominated for a Hugo at MagicCon, the year Terminator 2: Judgment Day got the Hugo. 

(8) COMICS SECTION.

  • Bliss requires knowledge of furniture and mushrooms with changed spelling.
  • Close to Home appeals to an unusual customer.
  • Non Sequitur adds other travelers to a familiar story.
  • Reality Check verbs a superhero’s name.

(9) MALCOLM REYNOLDS IN THE BEGINNING. “Firefly Prequel Series Announced” reports Comicbook.com.

Firefly‘s Captain Malcolm Reynolds is finally getting an origin story. Boom! Studios has announced Firefly: Malcolm Reynolds Year One, a new Firefly prequel series telling of Mal’s earliest adventures. Sam Humphries, writer of the Firefly: The Fall Guys miniseries, is writing the new prequel. Artist Giovanni Fabiano is making their comics debut on the series, colored by Gloria Martinelli, who also worked on Firefly: The Fall Guys. Here’s the series description provided by Boom via a press release: “Despite starting from an unlikely place, Malcolm Reynolds has always been a troublemaker. Becoming a Browncoat was always meant to be. But what unexpected obstacles lie on that path to him becoming the Captain that fans know and love? To him assembling and leading the crew of the spaceship Serenity?”

Those questions will seemingly be answered as Firefly: Malcolm Reynolds Year One progresses. The series is set in the early days of the Unification War, the conflict in which the Browncoats fought a losing battle against consolidated rule by the Alliance, previously touched upon by Boom’s first Firefly series….

(10) GOING, GOING… TVLine’s “Best TV Series Finales of All Time, Ranked” includes many genre shows. Spoilers, I guess. One iteration of Star Trek finished well, at least.

12. Star Trek: The Next Generation

What better way to wrap the sci-fi franchise’s first offshoot than with a throwback to TNG‘s premiere? Captain Picard time-jumped among three distinct eras of his life, only to realize that humanity’s trial — which Q kicked off in the series’ premiere, “Encounter at Farpoint” — was still underway. Of course, Jean-Luc came out on top, avoiding the Enterprise’s eventual destruction and even fitting in a poker game with his crew before the credits rolled.

(11) AGE SPOTS. Mashable checks in as “Scientists discover how old Jupiter’s Great Red Spot really is”.

…Centuries ago, a huge red spot on Jupiter vanished. But years later, a new one was born.

Today we know this conspicuous feature as the “Great Red Spot,” a swirling storm wider than Earth. Curiously, earlier astronomers, like Giovanni Domenico Cassini in 1665, also observed a colossal red storm at the same latitude on Jupiter — raising the possibility that they’re actually the same storm.

In newly published research, however, astronomers sleuthed through historical drawings and early telescope observations of Jupiter to conclude that today’s spot is indeed a separate storm from its predecessor, unfittingly known as the “Permanent Spot.” It likely disappeared between the mid-18th and 19th centuries.

“What is certain is that no astronomer of the time reported any spot at that latitude for 118 years,” Agustín Sánchez-Lavega, a planetary scientist at the University of the Basque Country in Spain, told Mashable.

Then, in 1831, astronomers started seeing a conspicuous red spot again. The new research, published in Geophysical Research Letters, concludes this latest spot is at least 190 years old….

 [Thanks to Andrew Porter, John King Tarpinian, Chris Barkley, Cat Eldridge, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Steven French, Teddy Harvia, Kathy Sullivan, and Mike Kennedy for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern, who took his inspiration from the great, Grammy-winning Western Swing band Asleep At The Wheel.]

Denise Dutton Review: Folkmanis Baby Dutch Rabbit Puppet

Review by Denise Kitashima Dutton: Unlike Buffy the Vampire Slayer’s Anya, I absolutely adore bunnies. Tiny widdle noses, adorable fluffy tails. The look they always seem to have, as though they’ve judged you and found you wanting…but they’re cool with you anyway. Bunnies are fantastic. So when this little fluffball dropped into my lap, it was love at first sight. 

Speaking of sight, if this cutie looks familiar to you, you probably watch the Academy Awards on the regular. Because this puppet took the stage with Melissa McCarthy, in her fun, over-the-top cosplay of The Favorite during 2019’s show. And my little guy looks exactly like the one who stole the show that evening. Well okay; I’m a bit biased, but mine is cuter. Something in the eyes, perhaps. A soulful wisdom? Okay, sure.

Folkmanis never skimps on the craftsmanship of their puppets, and this baby rabbit is sturdily stitched, with beautiful furred fabric and shiny large-pupilled eyes. There’s grey velvet lining the ears that I can’t seem to stop touching; I’m a sucker for velvet. The fur is soft, with parts that have a nice brindle/ look to it. The other color is a nice cream, and for the life of me it looks like this little guy is gonna go full Velveteen and turn real at any moment.

But the most important part? He’s absolutely the best dancer. He can dab!  He can waltz!  He can shimmy! And it’s so much fun popping him onto my hand and letting him go wild with his bad self. Yes, he’s adorable, but a puppet wouldn’t be so great if he wasn’t fun to play with. And this little guy is a blast. Dig bunnies? Hop to it and grab yourself one. Not mine though. You can’t have him.


Denise Kitashima Dutton has been a reviewer since 2003, and hopes to get the hang of things any moment now. She believes that bluegrass is not hell in music form, and that beer is better when it’s a nitro pour. Besides GMR, you can find her at Atomic FangirlMovie-Blogger.com, or at that end seat at the bar, multi-tasking with her Kindle.

Cats Sleep on SFF: Farewell to Mooglie

Patricia Bryan wanted to make sure we said goodbye to Mooglie, who we featured in January.

Mooglie was euthanized after a rather stressful couple of months, really, with diverse illnesses from his feral days.

I miss him terribly but will get a new model after Easter and hope he or she will enjoy sci-fi as much as my boy did.

Note: Patricia did in fact get a new cat, Ollie in April – photo at the link.


Photos of your felines (or whatever you’ve got!) resting on genre works are welcome. Send to mikeglyer (at) cs (dot) com

Pixel Scroll 6/20/24 Brush Up Your ScrollSpeare, Start Pixeling Now

(1) THIS WAY TO THE EGRESS. “Fairy Doors are Popping Up all Around Brooklyn Heights. Why?” asks La Voce di New York.

Brooklyn Heights is beginning to look like something out of a storybook, as there have been numerous sightings of fairy doors throughout the neighborhood.

More than a dozen of these tiny doors, made in different sizes, decorations, and colors, have been found on trees on Pineapple, Willow, Cranberry, and Middagh streets, in addition to others.

According to experts, fairy doors are actually portals to the fairy dimension, and some friendly artistic humans have been known to construct these gateways.

In a survey conducted by the Brooklyn Eagle’s Magic and Enhancements Bureau, 100% of the neighborhood respondents said they welcomed the fairies.

“We are thrilled, but not surprised, that the fairy folk have decided that Brooklyn Heights is a great place to make home,” Lara Birnback, executive director of the Brooklyn Heights Association, told the Eagle. “Please let them know that if they have any questions about landmarking permits or where to find the best Negroni in the neighborhood, they should give the BHA a call.”

Some long-time residents of Brooklyn Heights said they’ve never seen so many fairies in the neighborhood.

“I’m extremely happy they’ve arrived- and in force,” Dr. Jon Berall, a physician and inventor, told the Eagle. “These are tricky times and we need all the help we can get.”

While numerous people have said they have spotted the doors, only a few have been lucky enough to spot the fairies themselves….

(2) TEDDY HARVIA CARTOON. Teddy is keeping the aarrgh in Argus.

(3) OCTOTHORPE. In Episode 112 of the Octothorpe podcast, “Ceilidhs I Have Been to Are Not, Generally Speaking, Competitive”, hosts John Coxon, Alison Scott, and Liz Batty beam down for a look at the financial report from Levitation (Eastercon 2024) before talking about FunCon, the UK Games Expo, and the upcoming Glasgow Worldcon. An uncorrected transcript is available here.

Octothorpe 112 is beaming down to a planet near you! In this episode we look at the financial report from Levitation (Eastercon 2024) before talking about FunCon, the UK Games Expo, and the upcoming Glasgow Worldcon.

Artwork is by Hugo Award Finalist, España Sheriff.

John, Alison and Liz stand in the transporter on a Constitution-class Federation starship. They are mid-transportation, made of sparkles instead of fully fleshed out. The words “Octothorpe 112” appear beneath them.

(4) FATAL TITANTIC DIVE. WIRED has obtained copies of internal documentation to use as the basis of its story: “The Titan Submersible Disaster Shocked the World. The Exclusive Inside Story Is More Disturbing Than Anyone Imagined”

…The model had imploded thousands of meters short of the safety margin OceanGate had designed for.

In the high-stakes, high-cost world of crewed submersibles, most engineering teams would have gone back to the drawing board, or at least ordered more models to test. Rush’s company didn’t do either of those things. Instead, within months, OceanGate began building a full-scale Cyclops 2 based on the imploded model. This submersible design, later renamed Titan, eventually made it down to the Titanic in 2021. It even returned to the site for expeditions the next two years. But nearly one year ago, on June 18, 2023, Titan dove to the infamous wreck and imploded, instantly killing all five people onboard, including Rush himself.

The disaster captivated and horrified the world. Deep-sea experts criticized OceanGate’s choices, from Titan’s carbon-fiber construction to Rush’s public disdain for industry regulations, which he believed stifled innovation. Organizations that had worked with OceanGate, including the University of Washington as well as the Boeing Company, released statements denying that they contributed to Titan.

A trove of tens of thousands of internal OceanGate emails, documents, and photographs provided exclusively to WIRED by anonymous sources sheds new light on Titan’s development, from its initial design and manufacture through its first deep-sea operations. The documents, validated by interviews with two third-party suppliers and several former OceanGate employees with intimate knowledge of Titan, reveal never-before-reported details about the design and testing of the submersible. They show that Boeing and the University of Washington were both involved in the early stages of OceanGate’s carbon-fiber sub project, although their work did not make it into the final Titan design. The trove also reveals a company culture in which employees who questioned their bosses’ high-speed approach and decisions were dismissed as overly cautious or even fired. (The former employees who spoke to WIRED have asked not to be named for fear of being sued by the families of those who died aboard the vessel.) Most of all, the documents show how Rush, blinkered by his own ambition to be the Elon Musk of the deep seas, repeatedly overstated OceanGate’s progress and, on at least one occasion, outright lied about significant problems with Titan’s hull, which has not been previously reported.

A representative for OceanGate, which ceased all operations last summer, declined to comment on WIRED’s findings….

(5) DONALD SUTHERLAND (1935-2024). [Item by Mike Kennedy.] Actor Donald Sutherland died June 20. His son, Kiefer Sutherland, made the announcement on X.com:

“With a heavy heart, I tell you that my father, Donald Sutherland, has passed away. I personally think one of the most important actors in the history of film. Never daunted by a role, good, bad or ugly. He loved what he did and did what he loved, and one can never ask for more.”

Though not known primarily for his sfnal work, with about 200 credits to his name Sutherland did have quite a few notable genre appearances. He would probably be best known in that respect for his role as President Snow in the Hunger Games movies, playing Merrick in the Buffy the Vampire Slayer movie, and being the lead in the 1978 remake of Invasion of the Body Snatchers. He also had a lead role in 1994‘s adaptation of Heinlein’s The Puppet Masters.

… “It’s characters who make pictures,” he told The Times in 1995. “Essentially my job is to provide information about them.” 

Deep in his career, as he shifted between leading and character parts, Sutherland thrived in smaller roles that ordinarily called for an older actor who’d long ago been typecast as a villain or a kooky sidekick. But Sutherland had the winning ability to transform those small roles into complex characters who often helped elevate the film….

(6) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

June 20, 1928 Martin Landau. (Died 2017.) Martin Landau’s first genre adjacent role I discovered was a quite minor one as a character named Leonard in Alfred Hitchcock’s North by Northwest.  

His first actual genre role was on The Twilight Zone as the character Dan Hotaling. “Mr. Denton on Doomsday”. The town drunk Al Denton (played by Dan Duryea whose final role was the Cold War propaganda SF film The Bamboo Saucer — please don’t ask), once a feared gunslinger but now an object of pity and scorn, is forced to draw against a sadistic bully (the Martin Landau character). This being The Twilight Zone I think you can guess what deservedly happens. 

He’d have one more appearance in The Twilight Zone as Major Ivan Kuchenko in “The Jeopardy Room” where as an escaped political prisoner who is attempting to defect, he is trapped inside a hotel room in an unnamed, neutral country. He is told the room is, in various ways deadly to him and he cannot leave. His captors have him as their victim, or so it seems? Remember this is The Twilight Zone

Martin Landau in 1968.

From there he moves on to The Outer Limits, where he was the featured performer in two episodes. The first was “The Man Who Was Never Born” (originally titled “Cry of the Unborn”) in which he was Andro, one of the few survivors of a biological disaster brought on by an ambitious scientist who isolated and developed a viral symbiont from an interstellar microbe. The story from there is about love and time travel and, well, that’s enough in case that some here decades on hasn’t seen it.

The second story has him playing Richard Bellero in “The Bellero Shield”, which takes its plot possibly from MacBeth notes more than one reviewer largely because of Richard’s conniving wife, Judith.  The story, however, has to do with technology gone awry, an alien who offers redemption and, well I’m stopping there.

He is as brilliant in both roles that he did for The Outer Limits as he was in his two Twilight Zone roles. For the moment setting aside his Mission: Impossible role, any other genre performances?

He was much in demanding in the Sixties, so he made one-off appearances on I-Spy as Danny Preston in “Danny Was a Million Laughs”;  as George Grimm in The Wild Wild West in “The Night of the Red Eyed Madman”, a juicy role for him as our agents find a militant group planning to overthrow the federal government, led by the insane General Grimm played by, oh guess; again in The Man from U.N.C.L.E., he was the lead villain role of Count Zark in “The Bat Cave Affair” a Thrush agent, operating out of Transylvania who has developed a worldwide menace involving bats. His role on Get Smart is as Max’s new face in “Pheasant Under Glass”. Max needs a new face to be part of the secret rescue plan after letting his photograph be published. Landau provides that face but was uncredited in the episode. 

Now let’s talk about hisother two major roles. He played Rollin Hand, which the Mission: Impossible fandom wiki describes as “an actor, a magician, and a master of disguises and voices who billed himself as ‘The Man Of A Million Faces’ and ‘The World’s Greatest Impersonator’. It goes on to call him a grifter, a term I don’t remember from that series but which was used to describe Sophie Devereux on Leverage.  He had a wonderful intensity to him in that role. 

To achieve many of Rollin’s acts of impersonation, some of the characters he imitated were played by him in a double role under extensive make-up. This technique is used prominently in the first episode of the series, where Landau plays dictator similar to Castro whom Rollin must impersonate during a national broadcast. When Landau and his wife at that time, Barbara Bain, left the show after the third season, and Leonard Nimoy joined the series as The Great Paris which was essentially the same role as Rollin.

His other major series role was John Koenig, the ninth and, as far as is known, last Commander of Moonbase Alpha. I’d like to say I’ve a clear picture of him in that role but I don’t think that I’ve seen more than a handful of episodes of the Moonbase Alpha series.

I’m stopping now before this Birthday gets any longer. Really I am. 

(7) COMICS SECTION.

(8) N3F LAUREATE AWARDS. The National Fantasy Fan Federation decided to squander a 2024 Laureate Award on an exhibition of schadenfreude at the expense of the Hugos.

 The 2024 Laureate Awards

  • Best Fan Writer: Heath Row
  • Best Fan Editor: Janice L. Newman
  • Best Non-N3F Fan Publication: Spartacus
  • Best N3F Fanzine: Tightbeam
  • Best Fan Web Site: galacticjourney.org/
  • Best Novel: To Spy a Star by Jonathan Nevair
  • Best Shorter Work or Anthology: Simultaneous Times, Vol. 3, ed. Jean-Paul L. Garnier
  • Best Editor: (a tie) Lida Quillen (Twilight Times Books) / Jean-Paul L. Garnier (Space Cowboy Books)
  • Best History of SF Work: 2023 First Fandom Annual “First Fandom Conversations”
  • Best None of the Above: Best example of how not to run fan awards: The 2023 Hugo Awards

 (9) BRIDGERTON INTEREST SAGS. JustWatch analyzed the split-season model and found that interest in Bridgerton Season 3 Part 2 dropped by 48.9%.

They created this report by pulling data from the week following the release of Bridgerton, and compared it to the previous two seasons. JustWatch Streaming Charts are calculated by user activity, including: clicking on a streaming offer, adding a title to a watchlist, and marking a title as ‘seen’. This data is collected from >40 million movie & TV show fans per month. It is updated daily for 140 countries and 4,500 streaming services.

(10) VIDEO OF THE DAY. From Gizmodo we learn that “The Penguin’s New Trailer Teases the Crimes That Come After The Batman”.

Max has released a second trailer for The Penguin, its upcoming spinoff of Matt Reeves’ The Batman starring Colin Farrell as crime lord Oswald Cobblepott….

[Thanks to, Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, John King Tarpinian, Jean-Paul L. Garnier, Chris Barkley, Cat Eldridge, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Steven French, Teddy Harvia, and Kathy Sullivan for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Andrew (not Werdna).]

2024 Yoto Carnegie Medals Awarded

The winners of the UK’s longest-running book awards for children and young people, The Yoto Carnegies, were announced today.

For the first time, the Yoto Carnegie Medal for Writing is awarded to a Black British author, and the current Children’s Laureate – Joseph Coelho – for his “beautifully descriptive” novel in verse The Boy Lost in the Maze illustrated by Kate Milner (Otter-Barry Books). The story portrays a boy’s journey into manhood and “cleverly integrates” the ancient legacy of the Minotaur with the contemporary journey of a teenager searching for his biological father.  

Coelho’s win is a fitting tribute to an award that is uniquely judged by librarians and to his outgoing tenure as Waterstones Children’s Laureate (2022-2024) where he launched the “library marathon” project – a personal mission which saw him visit and join a library in every region of the UK, a total of 213 nationwide, to highlight their importance and show the support they provide to local communities.  

The winner of the Yoto Carnegie Medal for Illustration is Aaron Becker for his “beautifully crafted” and “universal” wordless picture book The Tree and the River (Walker Books). Looking at the evolution of human impact on the natural environment through the fate of a lone tree and an enduring river, the timely story gives “a sense of hope”, with Becker’s use of color to depict the seasons “transformative” and use of light “exceptional.” 

The Yoto Carnegies celebrate achievement in children’s writing and illustration and are unique in being judged by an expert panel of children’s and youth librarians, including 12 librarians from CILIP: the library and information association’s Youth Libraries Group. The winning titles were selected from a shortlist of eight books in each category with the judges praising the “timeless storytelling” and “cyclical nature” of the winning author’s and illustrator’s work, allowing them to be “enjoyed in perpetuity”.  

Each year thousands of reading groups in schools and libraries in the UK and around the world get involved in the Awards, with children and young people ‘shadowing’ the judging process, debating and choosing their own winners. They have voted for their favourites from this year’s shortlist with Aaron Becker’s The Tree and the River scooping a coveted double-win. He adds the Yoto Carnegie Shadowers’ Choice Medal for Illustration to his Yoto Carnegie Medal for Illustration.  

The winner of the Yoto Carnegie Shadowers’ Choice Medal for Writing is announced as Tia Fisher for her powerful debut novel told in verse, Crossing the Line (Bonnier Books UK). Based on a true story about teenagers swept up into county lines, this ‘innovative and engaging’ story shows the power of poetry to convey difficult truths in a way that engages and excites young minds.  

The winners will each receive a specially commissioned golden medal and a £5,000 Colin Mears Award cash prize. The winners of the Shadowers’ Choice Medals – voted for and awarded by the children and young people – receive a golden medal and, for the first time this year, £500 worth of books to donate to a library of their choice. 

[Based on a press release.]

Glasgow 2024 Revisits Membership Rate Changes as of July 1

Glasgow 2024, a Worldcon for Our Futures has cancelled the rate increases they previously announced on June 4 that were due to take effect from July 1. And they are reducing the prices of Day and Weekend Tickets.

The committee explained:

We are deeply aware of the ongoing cost of living pressures in Scotland and the wider UK and beyond, especially in the context of our commitment to a convention which is accessible, inclusive and diverse. We are particularly aware that Day Ticket purchasers are typically local residents who are experiencing fandom and SF conventions for the first time. We are keen to ensure that everyone who wants to can participate in this unique experience.
 
In the light of these considerations, we have therefore cancelled the rate rise planned for 1 July, and will instead be holding our current full and concession attending rates for all age groups through to the convention and at the door. A full list of attending rates can be found on our website.

Day and Weekend Tickets: Glasgow 2024 is reducing the prices of Day and Weekend Tickets. As noted above these Tickets are typically purchased by people who are new to the community. The committee says they want to ensure that the opportunity to experience Worldcon is available to everyone.
 
Day and Weekend Tickets are available in two forms: one for those aged 16 and over including access to the online convention, and one for younger fans covering physical attendance only. (Please note that Day and Weekend Tickets do not include WSFS rights; a separate WSFS Only Membership will be required for individuals who wish to participate in the Hugo Awards, Site Selection and Business Meeting.)
 
The revised Day / Weekend ticket rates, effective immediately, are as follows:

DayAdult (over 16)Under 16
Thursday 8 Aug£25£10
Friday 9 Aug£35£15
Saturday 10 Aug£55£25
Sunday 11 Aug£55£25
Monday 12 Aug£15£5
Weekend 10 and 11 Aug£100£45

Existing Ticket Holders who purchased Day or Weekend Tickets at the previous (higher) rates have already been contacted and offered rebates to bring them into line with new purchasers.

[Based on a press release.]

Xanadu: A Castle in the Clouds: The Life of Orson Welles

By Steve Vertlieb: An elderly man sits alone in a room, contemplating the years of his life. He is large of form. His belly hangs loosely over his belt. His hair has grown gray. He has known the enormity of success, and the emptiness of failure. He has known great wealth, and has had to beg for loans. He has experienced international success and fame, and succumbed to the torment of obscurity.

He knew blinding respect and, later, endured the humiliation of ridicule. He savored the delicate passions of some of the world’s most beautiful women and, for this particular moment, suffered unimaginable loneliness. Somewhere in the night, he expired. Frustrated, spent, he considered his life a grand exercise in futility. And yet, for a time, he had wielded power and fame like no one before him.

Orson Welles

No, he wasn’t Charles Foster Kane. Rather, he was the actor who portrayed him. At the end, in one of life’s innumerable and cruel ironies, the controversial story of the greatest film ever made seemed to resemble less the life of the newspaper czar it was inspired by, than by the cocky, self-assured wunderkind who filmed it. Long after the influence and memory of William Randolph Hearst had passed into history, Citizen Welles had drafted the tragic screenplay of his own demise.

Some years earlier in another lonely hotel room, the legendary filmmaker had entertained his friend, Peter Bogdanovich. Welles sat in his great chair, seemingly transfixed by the image on the small television screen. A local station had been airing his version of The Magnificent Ambersons. The younger director noticed that Welles had been crying. “Orson,” he asked, “What’s the matter?” The older man, tears streaming down his cheeks, replied “It’s over–it’s all in the past.” Bogdanovich stared quietly at his friend. There was nothing, after all, that he could say.

George Orson Welles was born on May 6, 1915, in Kenosha, Wisconsin. He weighed ten pounds at birth. His imposing size and larger-than-life demeanor precluded the company of friends. He wasn’t particularly liked by the other children, and seemed to enjoy being a loner.

His parents regarded their son with the same awe as the neighborhood children. Richard Welles and Beatrice Ives had married in November, 1903. Beatrice had been a concert pianist until hard times forced her into more mundane work. Richard pictured himself a struggling inventor, although he invented little. Both Richard and Beatrice realized early on that George Orson was a specially gifted child. As such, he was given free reign of his existence and rarely admonished or controlled. At times, it seemed that he had become the parent, while they obeyed and adhered to his every wish.

His dreams flourished with the passing years. As far as his parents were concerned, their son was a genius and could do no wrong. Whatever he desired was given freely and with devout encouragement. From his earliest years, the boy was told that he could do virtually anything…that he was a genius. The continuing idolatry by his parents gave the boy a feeling of weightlessness, of superhuman destiny.

His gifts, he learned, were virtually without limit and he was nourished and nurtured as one might paint and develop a delicate portrait. The enormity of his talents and massive intellect were stimulated beyond imagining by this unfettered environment. The results of such pampering would both bless and curse him in later years when exposure to the elements of societal pressures would scar and diminish him. The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune would not suffer genius easily.

[The rest of the article follows the jump.]

Continue reading

Pixel Scroll 6/19/24 No Scroll Comes Between Me And My Pixel

(1) RELIC OF FIRST WORLDCON. You have one day left to bid on Frank R. Paul’s artwork for the first Worldcon program book (1939) at Heritage Auctions. It was going for $925 when I looked earlier.

Frank R. Paul World Science Fiction Convention – Nycon Program Book Illustration Original Art (Nycon, 1939). From the first ever World Science Fiction Convention (aka Worldcon) in 1939! And the art is by noted sci-fi artist Frank R. Paul, which makes this doubly desirable! The original art for this program banner was created in ink and signed in the lower right of the 20.5″ x 3.25″ image area. UV Glass-front framed to 29″ x 12.75″. Lightly toned, with some minor whiteout art clean-ups. In Very Good condition.
From the Roger Hill Collection.

(2) WATERSTONES DEBUT FICTION PRIZE. The Ministry of Time by Kaliane Bradley is the only genre work among six novels that have been shortlisted for Waterstones Debut Fiction Prize. The complete list of finalists is at the link. The marketing copy for Bradley’s book says:

A boy meets a girl. The past meets the future. A finger meets a trigger. The beginning meets the end. England is forever. England must fall.

In the near future, a disaffected civil servant is offered a lucrative job in a mysterious new government ministry gathering ‘expats’ from across history to test the limits of time-travel.

Her role is to work as a ‘bridge’: living with, assisting and monitoring the expat known as ‘1847’ – Commander Graham Gore. As far as history is concerned, Commander Gore died on Sir John Franklin’s doomed expedition to the Arctic, so he’s a little disoriented to find himself alive and surrounded by outlandish concepts such as ‘washing machine’, ‘Spotify’ and ‘the collapse of the British Empire’…. 

(3) HOLD ‘EM BY THE NOSE AND KICK ‘EM IN THE ASS. At Fantasy Author’s Handbook, Philip Athans has an idea: “Let’s Reject Rejections”.

Your query to an agent has been rejected. Your short story was rejected by a magazine. You are a potato and are starting to show roots so the chef rejected you.

Aside from the potato thing, this happens so often to literally every writer, how does this not make us all feel like rejects?

And no one should feel like a reject.

But then, no agent can represent all the authors. No publisher can publish all the books. That means we have to figure out how to deal with rejection. The good news is that’s super easy. All you have to do is develop a thick skin. I heard skin thickening is offered by a sanitarium in the Swiss Alps for as little as €400,000 per treatment. It requires only one treatment per rejection letter, so most trillionaire authors should be able to soak that up. The rest of us will have to remain entirely human.

And no human wants to be, likes to be, feels they should be or deserve to be, rejected.

But then there’s that reality again: No agent can represent all the authors. No publisher can publish all the books.

We have to figure out not how to render ourselves immune to normal, healthy human emotional responses, but to, for lack of a better term, roll with it….

(4) THERE’S NO PLACE LIKE HOME. “The stolen ruby slippers will be up for auction. Minnesota wants them back” reports NPR.

This weekend, Grand Rapids, Minnesota will honor its best-known former resident — Judy Garland.

And at its annual Judy Garland Festival, the city will fundraise to bring back a prized prop that the actress made famous. But, it won’t be an easy stroll down the Yellow Brick Road.

Minnesota lawmakers set aside $100,000 this year to help the Judy Garland Museum purchase the coveted ruby slippers of “The Wizard of Oz” fame. Experts expect the shoes could sell for a much higher price.

“They could sell for $1 million, they could sell for $10 million. They’re priceless,” says Joe Maddalena, Heritage Auctions executive vice president.

The ruby slippers are one of four sets remaining.

This pair’s unique story

The shoes were on display at Garland’s namesake museum in Grand Rapids in the summer of 2005 when a burglar struck. John Kelsch, the museum director at the time, says a man broke in through the back door and snatched the slippers….

(5) BICYCLE THIEF. [Item by Eric Hildeman.] Carl Klinger of the Milwaukee Steampunk Society had his penny farthing stolen and smashed. Fortunately, a fundraiser to get him a new one was successful. “Starship Fonzie #40 – Transcript”.

…What’s a penny farthing? It’s that old-timey sort of bicycle with the enormously huge wheel in front and a much smaller wheel in back. You know, the sort that Passpartout rode in the opening scenes of the 1956 film “Around the World in 80 Days,” starring David Niven. There’s also one on display in the Streets of Old Milwaukee exhibit in the Milwaukee Public Museum.

Well, who knows why it was stolen, but it was, and police were notified. Usually when a bike is stolen it’s never recovered, but this is a very unusual bicycle. Very tricky to ride, very obvious to spot. So the guy who’d stolen it noticed the news story regarding the theft, saw his own image caught on security camera, and apparently panicked. I guess he had a rap sheet as long as his arm regarding other charges the law wanted to nab him on. So he was living in hiding, the thief I mean. Why someone like that would steal an item so obvious to spot is beyond me. But when he saw the news story regarding the theft, he got afraid that his cover might be blown and, not wanting the law to come after him, he smashed the bicycle, dumped it somewhere where it would be found, and then fled out of state….

So Carl was out a very unique, very expensive steampunk-themed bicycle. And we were all bummed about this. Well, Carl put out a fundraiser to get him a new penny farthing, and the fundraiser, I’m pleased to say, was successful. He needed about $2000 for a new one, his fundraiser garnered $3,000. Karl will have a new bike, and he’ll likely ride it around at the Steampunk Picnic this year.

So, a happy ending to that particular thievery story. We love our friends at the Milwaukee Steampunk Society.

Fox6Now interviewed victim Carl Klinger about the crime: “West Allis high-wheel bike found damaged; Oklahoma man arrested”.

A unique bike stolen from outside a West Allis bar was recently found – badly damaged.

Video captures a guy nabbing it, crashing it and running away with it.

“It’s absolutely not rideable,” said Carl Klinger, the bike theft victim. “It’s not even fixable.”

Those words were not what Klinger expected to hear when West Allis police found his treasured bike.

“When I got there, it was just laying on the ground and it was just completely demolished,” he said.

The unique, old-time high-wheel bike was stolen more than two weeks ago as it was parked outside of a bar. Police knew who they were looking for after seeing surveillance video.

Wesley Yoakum was found more than 600 miles away, in Newton County, Missouri.

…Nearly every part of the bike was damaged. The seat was torn off, the tire bent, even the stitches were torn out of the tool case.

His friends have started a GoFundMe to help him buy a new bike so he can get back to riding again…

(6) ORYCON 44. [Item by Michael Pinnick.] Orycon 44 is being held October 18-20 this year at the DoubleTree Hotel Portland. Orycon is Oregon’s oldest literary and creative science fiction convention. Our Writer GoH is David D. Levine, our Artist GoH is Jennie Breeden, and our Media GoH is Victoria Price. Website: https://orycontemp.tezhme.net/

Writer GoH David D. Levine; Artist GoH Jennie Breeden; Media GoH Victoria Price.

(7) ELIZABETH BEAR Q&A. Long Lost Friends has a two-part interview with author Elizabeth Bear.

(8) …THE MORE THINGS STAY THE SAME. The Guardian’s Keza MacDonald notes “The disturbing online misogyny of Gamergate has returned – if it ever went away”.

…This reactionary under layer of gaming’s enthusiast media, which makes its home mostly on X and YouTube, does not actually have the slightest impact on how games are made, or indeed which games are made. Look at Gamergate: what did it actually achieve? Games are more diverse than they were 10 years ago, not less; I saw more non-white male faces and characters in this year’s spate of Summer Game Fest trailers and demos than at any previous time in the almost 20 years I’ve been covering games. But they can still make people’s online lives hell for a while. I know this because I’ve been through it, several times.

I was running the UK branch of Kotaku when Gamergate kicked off, and so I had a front-row seat for their harassment tactics, which included sending the most disgusting threats imaginable through all the online channels available to them, trying to get me fired by emailing game publishers and my bosses with dossiers of my professional misdeeds and journalistic failings (read: writing about video games from a feminist perspective), searching for my and my colleagues’ real addresses and phone numbers and family members (and posting those details to their subreddits if they found them), and putting together unhinged Google Docs with links drawn between “SJW” journalists and developers. One of these mad documents appeared briefly in a recent Netflix documentary about 4chan, prompting several of my friends to text me a screenshot asking me if I knew that I was a figure in old “alt-right” conspiracy theories. Unfortunately, yes, I did.

It’s happened again a few times since, for various reasons. Unfortunately, dealing with online mobs is a part of the job for many journalists and indeed game developers these days, and despite all the shit I’ve dealt with over the years as a woman covering video games, I’m still rather glad I don’t write about politics. But I know exactly how awful it can feel when they mobilise against you, especially if it’s the first time. They’ll search for whatever they think is the least flattering image of you on Google Images, use it as a cutout for a YouTube thumbnail image, and then rant for 10 minutes over screenshots of your articles. They’ll tweet prominent people in games, trying to get them to publicly discredit you. They’ll set their followers on you. It’s hard not to meet their manufactured rage with a lot of genuine rage of your own.

It’s tempting to dunk on these people endlessly, but outrage fuels outrage – especially now, when there is literal money to be made posting inflammatory nonsense on X or YouTube. If Gamergate proved anything, it’s that nobody has to pander to rage-baiting toxic gamers, or even listen to them. That said, I still don’t think there’s been enough public pushback against this flavour of online abuse from the biggest publishers in games over the past few months, when the consultancies they work with, the journalists and critics who cover them, and even some of their own developers have been caught in an online shitstorm. Take it from me: vocal support means a lot….

(9) MEMORY LANE.

[Compiled by Paul Weimer.]

June 19, 1946 Salman Rushdie, 78.

By Paul Weimer: It was senior year in high school that I first heard of Salman Rushdie, and yes, it was the fatwa issued against him for The Satanic Verses.  As a result, he first came onto my radar, but I didn’t pick up a copy at that point.  Coming from a conservative family, even with all the SF I had read to that point, a book named “The Satanic Verses” would be a bridge too far.  I already had had to deal with my mother coming to terms with Dungeons and Dragons.  But one day, after Chemistry class, I noticed my teacher was in fact, reading the book.  I asked him about it, asked him what it was like, and if it was any good.  (This was also the conversation where I learned that ennui was not pronounced en-you-eye, although my teacher thought I was just messing with him). In any event, I waited for the book to hit paperback, by which time I was commuting to Brooklyn College, and so I could read it on the subway in surety and safety.  

Salman Rushdie in 2023.

The Satanic Verses, brilliant, strong and vibrant, was probably my first real contact with magic realism and was perhaps the most “literary” novel I attempted reading that wasn’t assigned in school. I am pretty sure that 19-year-old me didn’t grok the half of the book. Or maybe even that much. But it stunned me all the same. 

In the meantime, I’ve enjoyed a number of other works of his, particularly in audio (a couple of them read by Rushdie himself), like Midnight’s ChildrenThe Enchantress of FlorenceThe Ground Beneath her Feet, and Haroun and the Sea of Stories. In all of this and throughout all of these books, including The Satanic Verses, there is a strong and abiding interest in the nature and the use of stories. I know there is plenty to untangle in terms of immigration, East-West Relations, history, mythology, and faith. Salman Rushdie’s work is a seemingly bottomless well for exploring and investigating these themes. 

Does he consider himself a SFF writer? I’m not sure, but if he isn’t, he has a house on the borderlands, ready to provoke and evoke thought in readers.

(10) COMICS SECTION.

(11) DC’S UNEXPECTED TEAM-UP. “Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman Unite with Bugs Bunny in MultiVersus” at CBR.com.

Covers for DC’s MultiVersus: Collision Detected were revealed in DC’s Sept. 2024 solicitations, ahead of the story’s release and show DC’s holy trinity paired up with a variety of MultiVersus characters from franchises that include Adventure TimeSteven UniverseScooby-Doo and more….

…DC’s full description of MultiVersus: Collision Detected reads: “Bruce Wayne, Diana Prince, and Clark Kent each wake in a cold sweat, troubled by strange dreams they’ve had about ‘the rabbit,’ ‘the star child,’ and ‘the witch.’ Their investigation into these enigmatic visions brings them to unexpected locales and unusual characters, but none more unusual than the mysterious “rabbit” from their dreams as they find themselves face-to-face with the one and only Bugs Bunny. What the heck is going on here? And who in the name of the Multiverse are ‘the star child’ and ‘the witch’? The hit video game spills from your screen and into the DCU, and it’s bringing a whole lot of friends from some of your favorite universes with it!”

(12) NOT IN OUR FUTURE AFTER ALL. The New Yorker is proud to share “Six Eerie Predictions That Early Sci-Fi Authors Got Completely Wrong”.

Since the genre’s inception, science-fiction writers have imagined what the future might hold for Earth and beyond. While their stories are often fantastical, many of them anticipated technologies that actually exist today, such as television and artificial intelligence. However, countless more made predictions that were absolute whiffs.

Here’s the first of their half-dozen duds.

1. Nuclear-Powered Soap Dispenser

While many sci-fi authors envisioned the possibilities of nuclear power, Philip K. Dick’s “The Land That Time Remembered” got specifically stuck on the idea of a society where humans washed their hands with “soap dispensers powered by the almighty atom,” and where “torrents of soap spurted forth by means of the forces that birthed the universe.”

(13) DISCWORLD JIGSAW PUZZLE COMING. Paul Kidby’s character art in the form of a puzzle is available for preorder. “The World of Terry Pratchett: A 1000-Piece Discworld Jigsaw Puzzle by Paul Kidby”.

This stunning jigsaw puzzle features glorious artwork from Paul Kidby, Sir Terry Pratchett’s artist of choice, depicting all the favourite Discworld characters. Paul Kidby provided the illustrations for The Last Hero, designed the covers for the Discworld novels since 2002, and is the author of the bestselling The Art of Discworld. This expanded artwork is available for the first time in jigsaw puzzle format in a deluxe gift box with an accompanying booklet identifying each of the characters along with quotes, trivia and more.

(14) MCDONALD’S KILLING AI DRIVE-THROUGH. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] Let’s just hope that the AI doesn’t try to kill McDonald’s back. Or worse, take it out on us.

Anyway, you’re not free and clear yet. McDonald’s makes it clear they’re going to try again later, apparently hoping the technology will improve enough to not dish out ice cream cones with bacon on top. (Wait! Where’s the problem there?)  “McDonald’s kills AI drive-thru ordering after mistakes” at Axios.

Friction point: Customers had reported a slew of AI ordering blunders.

One posted video of the system incorrectly believing she’d ordered hundreds of dollars of chicken McNuggets, the Today Show reported.

In another case, a customer was given an ice cream cone topped with bacon, the New York Post reported….

(15) IRRESISTIBLE: YES, NO? “Doctor Who ‘Pyramids of Mars’ 5″ Action Figure Box Set” from Oriental Trading.

Recreate the classic Doctor Who adventure “Pyramids of Mars” from 1975 featuring the Fourth Doctor! This Doctor Who Pyramids of Mars Priory Collector’s Playset features an opening and closing pyramid along with detailed set pieces like a Sarcophagus and Egyptian urns. Complete with 5-inch scale action figures of Sutekh and Marcus Scarman, you’ll be able to make your very own adventure with the Pyramids of Mars!

(16) RED PLANET, GREEN AURORAS. From Smithsonian Magazine we learn, “Mars Was Hit With a Solar Storm Days After Earth’s Aurora Light Show, NASA Says”.

Days after solar storms spurred widespread sightings of auroras across Earth in early May, a new bout of eruptions on the sun brought glowing skies to another planet: Mars.

From pole to pole, Mars was hit by a barrage of gamma rays and X-rays, followed by charged particles from a coronal mass ejection. These led to auroras that would have appeared, if any viewers were on its surface, as a deep green color, reports the New York Times Robin George Andrews.

(17) VIDEO OF THE DAY. The latest Pitch Meeting is Superman (1978), for some reason.

[Thanks to Kathy Sullivan, Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, Paul Weimer, Scott Edelman, Daniel Dern, Michael Pinnick, John King Tarpinian, Chris Barkley, Cat Eldridge, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Steven French, and Teddy Harvia for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Mark and Ellen.]

Self-Published Science Fiction Competition 3 Won by Dave Dobson

Dave Dobson’s novel Kenai is the winner of the third Self-Published Science Fiction Competition.

The Self-Published Science Fiction Competition, created by Hugh Howey and Duncan Swan, is modeled after Mark Lawrence’s Self-Published Fantasy Blog-Off, and has his blessing. The contest started with 300 novels and ten teams of book bloggers who read and scored the books through several elimination rounds.

Tar Vol On reviewer “Dave” summed up the winner’s virtues:

I found “Kenai” to be a captivating sci-fi adventure that offers a fresh perspective on the genre. Dobson’s skillful storytelling, coupled with the compelling character of Jess Amiko, makes for an engaging read that will appeal to fans of speculative science fiction. While suspension of disbelief is required, the immersive alien world and thought-provoking themes make “Kenai” a standout novel deserving of 5 stars.

Dave Dobson tweeted this acceptance: “I am speechless, and honored, and so grateful to all the judges who ran the contest and all the authors who put their work and their hopes on the line.”

RUNNER-UP

Tim Hawken’s Thrill Switch was named the runner-up.

THIRD PLACE

Three Grams of Elsewhere by Andy Giesler

FOURTH PLACE

Gold Record: Memoirs of a Synth by Leigh Saunders

FIFTH PLACE

Children of the Black by W J Long III

SIXTH PLACE

Dark Theory by Wick Welker