Pixel Scroll 2/1/23 By Scrollthar’s Pixel

(1) HUGO I.O.U. The Chengdu Worldcon’s Chinese-language website added a post today with the (computer-translated) headline: “The 2023 Hugo Award call for nominations is opening soon”. But there’s only a headline, no article – plus a playable 15-second audio sound effect.

No corresponding post was made to the convention’s English-language website.

(2) SPSFC UPDATE. Rcade’s Team ScienceFiction.news, in the midst of the second Self-Published Science Fiction Competition, is “Announcing Our SPSFC Semifinalists”. The titles are revealed at the link.

Each of the 10 teams judging the Self Published Science Fiction Competition (SPSFC) chooses three books from their allotments to be semifinalists.

After two months of reading, the ScienceFiction.news team has selected these three books as tribute. They will be sent to the Capitol, where they will engage in ferocious battle against the 27 books chosen by other teams until only one book remains standing.

Even a young adult book can be sent into battle in the SPSFC Games….

(3) TODAY IN HISTORY. The US space shuttle Columbia broke up on its way back to Earth on 1 February 1, 2003. It had been in use since 1981. 

In the BBC’s “Witness History – Columbia space shuttle disaster”, Iain Mackness spoke to Admiral Hal Gehman who was given the job of finding out what went wrong. The admiral’s report led to the ending of the American space shuttle program in 2011. 

The BBC World Service first broadcast this episode in 2019. 

(4) OMERTA IN THE CINEMA. Dayten Rose chronicles the “Spoiler Alert History: No Alarms and No Surprises, Please” at Tedium.

…When “spoiler warnings” got out of hand

Alfred Hitchcock got what he wanted.

On set, he had a reputation as a manipulator. That’s according to Diane Baker, as quoted in Tony Lee Moral’s Hitchcock and the Making of Marnie, alongside other accounts of his abusive relationship with Tippi Hedren.

Out of context, Hitchcock’s obsession with preserving the secrecy of Psycho looks a lot like a publicity stunt. He bought as many copies as he could of the novel he had adapted; he hired the famously non-controversial (sarcasm) Pinkerton security guards to bar late entry to the film; there were no private screenings; there were no pre-release interviews.

In the context of Alfred Hitchcock, his controlling air set a dangerous precedent for the future of Hollywood. The modern media embargo is the crater left behind by his meteoric ego….

(5) DIRECT FROM KRYPTON TO YOUR HEART. “Superman in Starring Role as DC Studios Unveils Strategy” reports the New York Times.

Superman is returning to theaters — only now, along with saving the world, he has to prove that Warner Bros. has finally, without question, it means it this time, found a winning superhero strategy.

DC Studios, a newly formed Warner division dedicated to superhero content, unveiled plans on Tuesday to reboot Superman onscreen for the first time in a generation, tentatively scheduling the yet-to-be-cast “Superman: Legacy” for release in theaters in July 2025. James Gunn, known for “Guardians of the Galaxy,” is writing the screenplay and may also direct the movie, which will focus on Superman balancing his Kryptonian heritage with his human upbringing.

“He is kindness in a world that thinks of kindness as old-fashioned,” said Peter Safran, chief executive of DC Studios, a title he shares with Mr. Gunn.

Moreover, “Superman: Legacy” will begin a story that will unfold (Marvel style) across at least 10 interconnected movies and TV shows and include new versions of Batman, Robin, Supergirl, Swamp Thing and Green Lantern. Those marquee DC Comics characters will be joined by lesser-known personalities from the DC library, including Creature Commandos and Booster Gold, a time traveler. One of the shows will explore Themyscira, the mythical island home of Wonder Woman.

The 10 projects will roll out over four to five years — at which time a second batch of related films and shows will be announced, expanding the “Superman: Legacy” saga to nearly a decade and perhaps helping David Zaslav, the chief executive of Warner Bros. Discovery, to keep a promise to Wall Street about growth….

(6) MIC DROPS OF KNOWLEDGE. Jean-Paul L. Garnier advises writers about “Mic Technique for Live Readings and Panels” at the Dream Foundry.

As an author, you will probably find yourself reading live at events at some time or another and it’s important to make yourself heard by your audience Paying attention to how a microphone works can greatly enhance your performance, and the audibility of your reading. After all, you are there to share your work with an audience, so it is worth doing what you can to make sure that they can hear you well and enjoy the performance without straining. It can be the difference between coming off as a professional rather than an amateur….

(7) MEMORY LANE.

1958 [Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

A bit of bookkeeping: though I called this series First Paragraphs last Scroll, but I’m renaming it Beginnings as I want to quote more than the first paragraph if need be. Such will be the case with the selection tonight if the beginning of Fritz Leiber’s The Big Time

This rather short novel, which is my favorite work by him, won a Hugo at Solacon.  I think it’s the only work I’ve read that takes place in a single location, but it really does strongly resemble a theater piece. 

It was published originally in two parts by Galaxy Magazine in March and April 1958 issues with illustrations by Virgil Finlay. 

Ace Books published the first paperback edition in 1965, and Gregg Press would eventually do a hardcover edition which I know I owned at some point. 

My name is Greta Forzane. Twenty-nine and a party girl would describe me. I was born in Chicago, of Scandinavian parents, but now I operate chiefly outside space and time—not in Heaven or Hell, if there are such places, but not in the cosmos or universe you know either. 

I am not as romantically entrancing as the immortal film star who also bears my first name, but I have a rough-and-ready charm of my own. I need it, for my job is to nurse back to health and kid back to sanity Soldiers badly roughed up in the biggest war going. This war is the Change War, a war of time travelers—in fact, our private name for being in this war is being on the Big Time. Our Soldiers fight by going back to change the past, or even ahead to change the future, in ways to help our side win the final victory a billion or more years from now. A long killing business, believe me. 

You don’t know about the Change War, but it’s influencing your lives all the time and maybe you’ve had hints of it without realizing. 

Have you ever worried about your memory, because it doesn’t seem to be bringing you exactly the same picture of the past from one day to the next? Have you ever been afraid that your personality was changing because of forces beyond your knowledge or control? Have you ever felt sure that sudden death was about to jump you from nowhere? Have you ever been scared of Ghosts—not the storybook kind, but the billions of beings who were once so real and strong it’s hard to believe they’ll just sleep harmlessly forever? Have you ever wondered about those things you may call devils or Demons—spirits able to range through all time and space, through the hot hearts of stars and the cold skeleton of space between the galaxies? Have you ever thought that the whole universe might be a crazy, mixed-up dream? If you have, you’ve had hints of the Change War.

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born February 1, 1884 Yevgeny Zamyatin. Author of We, a dystopian novel. He also translated into Russian a number of H.G. Wells’ works and some critics think We is at least part a polemic against the overly optimistic scientific socialism of Wells. The Wiki writer for the Yevgeny Zamyatin page claims that We directly inspired Nineteen Eighty-FourThe Dispossessed and Brave New World. No idea if this passes the straight face test. What do y’all think of this claim? (Died 1937.)
  • Born February 1, 1908 George Pal. Animator, film director and producer. Let’s see…  Destination MoonWhen Worlds CollideThe War of the WorldsConquest of Space (anyone heard of this one?), The Time MachineAtlantis, the Lost ContinentTom ThumbThe Time MachineAtlantis, the Lost ContinentThe Wonderful World of the Brothers Grimm7 Faces of Dr. Lao and his last film being Doc Savage: The Man of Bronze. Can we hold a George Pal film fest, pretty please? (Died 1980.)
  • Born February 1, 1942 Bibi Besch. Best remembered for portraying Dr. Carol Marcus on The Wrath of Khan. Genre-wise, she’s also been in The Pack (horror), Meteor (SF), The Beast Within (more horror), Date with an Angel (romantic fantasy) and Tremors (SF). She died much, much too young following a long battle with breast cancer. (Died 1996.)
  • Born February 1, 1942 Terry Jones. Co-directed Monty Python and the Holy Grail with Gilliam, and was sole director on two further Python movies, Life of Brian and Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life. His later films include Erik the Viking and The Wind in the Willows. It’s worth noting that he wrote the screenplay for the original Labyrinth screenplay but it’s thought that nothing of that made it to the shooting script. (Died 2020.)
  • Born February 1, 1946 Elizabeth Sladen. Certainly best known for her role as Sarah Jane Smith on Doctor Who. She was a regular cast member from 1973 to 1976, alongside the Third Doctor (Jon Pertwee) and Fourth Doctor (Tom Baker), and reprised her role down the years, both on the series and on its spin-offs, K-9 and Company and The Sarah Jane Adventures. It’s not her actual first SF appearance, that honor goes to her being a character called   Sarah Collins in an episode of the Doomwatch series called “Say Knife, Fat Man”. The creators behind this series had created the cybermen concept for Doctor Who. (Died 2011.)
  • Born February 1, 1954 Bill Mumy, 69. Well I’ll be damned. He’s had a much longer career in the genre than even I knew. His first genre role was at age seven on Twilight Zone, two episodes in the same season (Billy Bayles In “Long Distance Call” and Anthony Fremont in “Its A Good Life”). He makes make it a trifecta appearing a few years later again as Young Pip Phillips in “In Praise of Pip”. Witches are next for him. First in an episode of I Dream of Jeannie he’s Custer In “Whatever Became of Baby Custer?” Then in Bewitched he’s Darrin the Boy  in “Junior Executive”. Ahhh his most famous role is up next as Will Robinson in Lost in Space. It’s got to be thirty years since I’ve seen it but I still remember and like it quite a bit. He manages to show up next on The Munsters as Googie Miller in “Come Back Little Googie” and in Twilight Zone: The Movie In one of the bits as Tim. I saw the film but don’t remember him. He’s got a bunch of DC Comics roles as well — Young General Fleming in Captain America, Roger Braintree on The Flash series and Tommy Puck on Superboy. Ahhh Lennier. One of the most fascinating and annoying characters in all of the Babylon 5 Universe. Enough said. I hadn’t realized it but he showed up on Deep Space Nine as Kellin in the “The Siege of AR-558” episode. Lastly, and before Our Gracious Host starts grinding his teeth at the length of this Birthday entry, I see he’s got a cameo as Dr. Z. Smith in the new Lost in Space series. 
  • Born February 1, 1965 Brandon Lee. Lee started his career with a supporting role in Kung Fu: The Movie, but is obviously known for his breakthrough and fatal acting role as Eric Draven in The Crow, based on James O’Barr’s series. Y’ll know what happened to him so I’ll not go into that here except to say that’s it’s still happening as it just happened again and damn well shouldn’t be happening, should it? (Died 1993.)

(9) THE PITS. SYFY Wire cheers as “NBC Keeps The Sci-Fi Sinkhole Open! Time Travel Mystery Series ‘La Brea’ Renewed For Season 3”.

NBC will once again head down the primordial rabbit hole in a third season of La Brea, the network has announced….

Described by NBC as an “epic family adventure,” La Brea revolves around a group of characters fighting for their survival after a mysterious sinkhole in downtown Los Angeles sends them to a primeval land forgotten by time. A second storyline takes place “above ground,” where those who did not fall into the strange pit attempt to solve the mystery of what caused it to open up in the first place. The story has only gotten more ambitious and sci-fi as its unfolded, with everything from future conspiracies and time travel now playing a part in the narrative.

“This story is about this family that’s been separated. Half the family falls into the sinkhole, while the other half stays behind in modern Los Angeles,” creator and showrunner David Appelbaum told SYFY WIRE after the series premiere. “And what was really important for the storytelling is that you have ways to connect these two stories. Even though they’re separated, we find different ways that we can connect the story. In this search for how do we tell it in a unified story, that was really the genesis of [the series] idea.”…

However, Deadline thinks they might not get a full season: “NBC’s ‘La Brea’ Likely To End With Abbreviated Season 3 As Networks Start Building Strike Contingency”.

… I have learned that the pickup is for six episodes and that it was influenced by the possibility of a writers and/or directors and actors strike, with this likely being the show’s final chapter. Filming is slated to begin in March in Australia.

With the current WGA contract expiring May 1 and the DGA and SAG-AFTRA contracts up June 30, a potential work stoppage could impact the start of production on the new broadcast season, leaving the networks without fresh episodes of scripted series for the first few weeks of the fall.

Possibly with that in mind, I hear NBC approached the cast of La Brea about doing a short third season. Because the series regulars have a 10-episode minimum guarantee (meaning that they have to be paid at least 10 episodic fees a season regardless of how many episodes are produced), the network and sister studio Universal Television asked the cast to reduce their contractual minimum guarantees to six episodes, sources said. In exchange, I hear the actors were offered a release from the show after Season 3 — which they took — making them available to take other jobs. (A typical broadcast series regular contract is for six seasons.)…

(10) RARE EARTHS. In case you weren’t around in 1977 and would like to know… “Star Trek: Leonard Nimoy explains How Television Works – 1977 vintage tech electronics”.

The following film is an excerpt from a rare 1977 documentary on How Television Works, featuring Star Trek’s Leonard Nimoy as the narrator and presenter. The film is in full color with animation and excellent vintage footage of early television technology, including early video tape recording (VTR) machines. The original film is about 22 minutes long. We have obtained a 16mm print and will preserve it. This is a 7 minute excerpt highlighting Leonard Nimoy’s narration of the technology behind early television up to the 1970’s.

(11) WHAT PEOPLE WATCHED IN JANUARY. Here are JustWatch’s Top 10 lists for the month of January.

Rank*MoviesTV shows
1Everything Everywhere All at OnceSeverance
2M3GANThe Peripheral
3NopeThe Rig
4Jurassic World DominionDoctor Who
5AvatarWestworld
6InterstellarStargate SG-1
7Spider-Man: No Way HomeQuantum Leap
8Strange DaysThe X-Files
9Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless MindWar of the Worlds
10VesperThe Handmaid’s Tale

*Based on JustWatch popularity score. Genre data is sourced from themoviedb.org

(12) DARTH’S BROTHER HAL. ScreenRant tempts readers to click through with its take that “2001 As Directed By George Lucas Is A Very Different Movie”.

…In 2001: A Space Odyssey Directed By George Lucas?, Kubrick’s famously glacial and brooding movie about a mission to Jupiter is transformed into a whiz-bang action movie. In this version of 2001, Dave Bowman has commandeered one of the Discovery One’s shuttles for an all-out battle against psychotic computer HAL 9000, climaxing in a moment that would make Luke Skywalker proud….

Made me smile, but not laugh out loud: “’2001: A Space Odyssey’ directed by George Lucas”.

(13) VIDEO OF THE DAY. In Stalled, a man goes to a public restroom — and gets trapped in a time paradox.

[Thanks to Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Danny Sichel, John King Tarpinian, Chris Barkley, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day by Ingvar.]

Pixel Scroll 1/31/23 A Subway Named Moebius, Larryus, And Curlyus

(1) KINDRED CANCELED. Can the news get any worse? The Hollywood Reporter tells us “’Kindred’ Canceled at FX”. The drama was based on Octavia E. Butler’s 1979 novel about a young Black woman who is pulled back and forth in time.

Sources tell The Hollywood Reporter that the Disney-backed basic-cable network has canceled the drama based on Octavia E. Butler’s 1979 novel about a young Black woman who is pulled back and forth in time. Showrunner Branden Jacobs-Jenkins (Watchmen) is expected to shop the drama from FX Productions as he envisioned a multiple-season run for the series.

Reps for FX declined to comment.

Kindred debuted Dec. 13, launching all eight episodes of the drama that starred Mallori Johnson as an L.A. woman who is pulled back in time to the 19th century South.

…The drama, which streamed exclusively on Hulu, currently has a 70 percent score among critics on Rotten Tomatoes and a 51 percent rating among viewers. In his reviewTHR chief TV critic Daniel Fienberg said Kindred was “often effective, but key choices aren’t clicking.” (Hulu does not release traditional viewership data.)…

(2) FUTURE TENSE. The January 2023 entry in the Future Tense Fiction series, “Bigfeet” by Torie Bosch, is a story on “de-extincting a creature that (probably) never existed” —  about a rogue effort to genetically engineer Bigfoot.

It was published along with a response essay, “De-extinction and conservation: When introducing a new species goes wrong” by conservation researcher Challie Facemire.

… This fictional scenario has many real-world counterparts: In the 1920s, sport hunters released a dozen mountain goats on the Olympic Peninsula in western Washington state—the same region where some of the story’s Bigfeet are set loose. Like the Bigfeet, the mountain goat population grew out of control quickly. The goats have caused problems since, from eating sparse alpine plants to trying to lick salt off hikers’ clothes and gear—salt deposits don’t occur naturally in the peninsula, but the goats need it in their diet. As a result, federal and state land managers were forced to carefully devise a multiyear plan to relocate or extirpate the goats (including lifting some by helicopter to more suitable habitats)….

(3) KGB. Fantastic Fiction at KGB reading series hosts Ellen Datlow and Matthew Kressel present Jeffrey Ford and Marie Vibbert in person at the KGB Bar on Feburary 8, beginning at 7:00 Eastern.

Jeffrey Ford

Jeffrey Ford is a New York Times Notable author for his novel The Physiognomy. In addition, his eleven novels and eight collections of stories have garnered multiple genre awards. His short stories have appeared in a myriad of venues within the SFF/H genres and beyond, He has new stories coming out this year from Tor.com, Asimov’s, and a couple of anthologies. He is recently retired from 40 plus years teaching literature and writing. He lives somewhere out in Ohio in a hundred-and twenty-year-old farmhouse with his wife and seven cats, four dogs, and a turtle.

Marie Vibbert

Marie Vibbert is the Hugo-longlisted author of over 80 short stories, translated into four languages, as well as three novels, some poems, comics, and video games. Her first novel, Galactic Hellcats, was longlisted for the BSFA in 2021. Her latest novel is The Gods Awoke.

Where: KGB Bar, 85 East 4th Street, New York, NY 10003 (Just off 2nd Ave, upstairs). When: February 8th, 2023, 7:00 p.m. Eastern.

(4) MONTELEONE INTERVIEW RESURFACES. Hatchet Mouth Episode 158 “Facebook has AIDS w/ Tom Monteleone” seems to have reappeared if you haven’t heard enough toxicity yet today. It includes the insulting anecdotes referenced in yesterday’s Scroll.

(5) HARPERCOLLINS STRIKE. Literary Hub shares “Why I’m Still on Strike: Portraits from the HarperCollins Picket Line”.

…As the only union in the Big 5, we are in the unique position to push the needle forward for all publishing, not just HarperCollins—a weight and opportunity that isn’t lost on any of us. You can feel it in our picket line chants, in our weekly membership meetings, in our Slack conversations. It’s palpable—the outcome of this strike will determine if hundreds of brilliant workers will leave publishing forever, or if people will finally be able to see a future for themselves in an industry desperately in need of change.

We’re on Day 58 of the strike, with no idea of how much longer this will stretch on. I admit it: I’m terrified and exhausted. I also have never believed in our mission more….

(6) HAUNTED HOUSES IN SPACE. [Item by Ben Bird Person.] YouTuber Romancing the Gothic posted this video exploring “Haunted Houses in Space” through the films SolarisAlien, and Event Horizon.

(7) JEOPARDY! Andrew Porter was pleased to see tonight’s episode of Jeopardy! had an entire category, “Sci-Fi and Fantasy”. Some of the entries were too tough for the contestants.

Answer: This Joe Haldeman classic tells of William Mandella, who fights the interstellar Taurans for a really long time.

No one could ask, “What is ‘The Forever War’?”

Answer: A “Star Trek” homage, this colorful John Scalzi title refers to clothing soon-to-die crew members wear.

Wrong question: “What is a red shirt?”

Right question: “What are the red shirts?”

Rich Lynch, who also was watching, adds that “One of the clues was a head shot of GRRM.”

(8) MEMORY LANE.

1948 [Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

In tonight’s Scroll, we debut a new essay series which is First Paragraphs. To start this off, we have the beginning of the Lensmen series by E.E. “ Doc” Smith which was chosen by Mike Glyer who says, “First paragraphs — it’s actually the first line  of E. E. ‘Doc’ Smith’s Triplanetary: A Tale of Cosmic Adventure that I love the most. It really sets the tone for what he turned into a six-book saga.” 

The magazine version of Triplanetary appeared in 1934 and only later was turned into a fix-up novel, a prequel that begins the series. Four of the Lensmen series as this would known as would be nominated for Retro Hugos though this was not one of them. 

The entire series is available for free from the usual suspects. And, I kid you not at all, there are eleven different audio recordings of Triplanetary

Two thousand million or so years ago two galaxies were colliding; or, rather, were passing through each other. A couple of hundreds of millions of years either way do not matter, since at least that much time was required for the inter-passage. At about that same time—within the same plus-or-minus ten percent margin of error, it is believed—practically all of the suns of both those galaxies became possessed of planets.

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born January 31, 1923Norman Mailer. I never knew he wrote in the genre but he did. Ancient Evenings certainly has the elements of fantasy and The Castle in the Forest is interesting retelling of Adolf Hitler and his last days. (Died 2007.)
  • Born January 31, 1937Philip Glass, 86. 1000 Airplanes on the Roof: A Science Fiction Music-DramaEinstein on the BeachThe Making of the Representative for Planet 8 (with a libretto by Doris Lessing based on her novel of the same name), The marriages between zones three, four, and five (1997, libretto by Doris Lessing, after her second novel from Canopus in Argos), The Witches of Venice and The Juniper Tree would be a fragmentary listing of his works that have a genre bias. 
  • Born January 31, 1947Jonathan Banks, 76. First genre role was as Deputy Brent in Gremlins, a film I adore. In the same year, he’s a Lizardo Hospital Guard in another film I adore, The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension. Ahhh, a good year indeed. Next I see him playing Michelette in Freejack, another better than merely good sf film. The last thing I see him doing film wise is voicing Rick Dicker in the fairly recent Incredibles 2.  Series wise and these are just my highlights, I’ve got him on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine as Shel-la in the “Battle Lines” episode, in Highlander: The Series as Mako in the “Under Colour of Authority” episode and as Kommander Nuveen Kroll in short lived Otherworld series. In SeaQuest 2032 also had for two episodes as Maximillian Scully. 
  • Born January 31, 1960Grant Morrison, 63. If you can find it, their early stuff on such U.K. publishers as Galaxy Media and Harrier Comics is worth searching out. Not your hero in tights materials at all. For their work in that venue, I’d recommend his run on The Resurrection of Ra’s al Ghul, all of his Doom Patrol work (and the HBO series is based on their work and is quite spectacular), Seven Soldiers and The Multiversity which is spectacularly weird.
  • Born January 31, 1962Will McIntosh, 61. Best known for the dozens of short stories he’s written that have been published in magazines including Asimov’s, InterzoneLightspeed and Strange Horizons. He won a Hugo for his short story “Bridesicle“ at Aussiecon 4.
  • Born January 31, 1973Portia de Rossi, 50. She first shows up as Giddy in Sirens which would I’d stretching things to even include as genre adjacent but which is definitely worth watching. For SFF roles, she was in Catholic Church tinged horror film Stigmata, musical Zombie comedy Dead & Breakfast and werewolf horror Cursed. She was Lily Munster in the delightfully weird Mockingbird Lane pilot that never went to series. 
  • Born January 31, 1977Kerry Washington46. Alicia Masters in Fantastic Four and Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer. Also played Medical Officer Marissa Brau in 30,000 Leagues Under the Sea. She voices Natalie Certain in Care 3. She also voices Princess Shuri in a short run Black Panther series. 

(10) COMICS SECTION.

  • Non Sequitur applies logic to the idea of colonizing Mars.

(11) WORD POWER. The Hugo Book Club Blog reviews R. F. Kuang’s Babel in “All Words In All Languages Are Metaphors”.

…This is a novel that uses the form of Regency-era historical fantasy to tackle themes of social justice that are at the forefront of today’s cultural vanguard in science fiction and fantasy. In short, it uses the cultural precepts of England at the peak of its colonial power to disclose and critique the social impacts of those systems.

It’s worth noting that although many American authors have attempted to mimic the style of period British prose, the vast majority have failed, often sounding affected, or pompous, or leaden. But instead of clumsy pastiche, Babel feels like a fantasy that William Makepeace Thackeray might have written. Kuang evokes era-appropriate ambiance and regionally-believable prose and dialogue so skillfully that we double-checked to see if she was born and raised in Hertfordshire or Dorset. (We strongly encourage everyone to read the “Author’s Note on Her Representations of Historical England, and of the University of Oxford in Particular,” which precedes the text of the novel.) It is especially gratifying that a book that is deeply concerned with language as a concept uses it so skillfully….

(12) MARVEL’S THIRD ANNUAL X-MEN ELECTION STARTS TODAY. Make your mutant voice heard! For the third consecutive year, Marvel is putting the fate of the X-Men in the hands of fans The 2023 X-Men election will run from Tuesday, January 31 until Friday, February 3. Participants can vote now at marvel.com/xmenvote. The results, along with the full new X-Men team, will be unveiled during the Hellfire Gala in Marvel comics this July.

For three years, the X-Men election has given True Believers everywhere the opportunity to determine the newest protector of Krakoa. In 2021, Polaris won the first-ever election and was featured in Gerry Duggan and Pepe Larraz’s X-MEN. And in 2022, fan-favorite Firestar was chosen to become the newest member of the X-Men, where she then took on a starring role in Duggan’s second year of X-MEN, with artists C.F. Villa and Joshua Cassara.

Once again, several nominations have been accepted to determine the final member of the new X-team. Only one vote is allowed per person, so read about the nominees below and choose wisely!

2023 X-Men Ballot Nominations:

CANNONBALL: One of the original “New Mutants,” the second class of students in the Xavier School, Sam Guthrie has come a long way. His ability to transform into a human cannonball, propelling himself with great force at high speeds while making himself “nigh invulnerable” has taken him from an awkward lanky teen to a married father who is both a former X-Man and Avenger! Why not rocket him to the front lines again?

DAZZLER: Dazzler first made it to the scene as a pop star, using her secret mutant power to transform sound into light as part of her stage show. Becoming a hero and joining the X-Men never dimmed her star-power, even as she learned to use her ability to dazzle as an offensive weapon. Since then, she’s been a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent, a freedom fighter, mother to a time paradox, and a vampire hunter. Isn’t it time for Alison Blaire to reclaim center stage?

FRENZY: Superhuman strength, speed, stamina, agility, reflexes and durability have made Joanna Cargill a formidable opponent to any who crosses her. From her early days opposed to the X-Men as a member of Apocalypse’s Alliance of Evil, her time as one of Magneto’s Acolytes, and Mister Sinister’s Marauders, to her time on the side of good with the Jean Grey School, and eventually as an intergalactic ambassador with S.W.O.R.D., Frenzy has what it takes to tackle anything!

JUBILEE: Having joined the X-Men as a teenaged runaway, Jubilation Lee had been shooting explosive fireworks out of her hands into the face of evil for many years when she lost her powers in M-Day. Even so, that didn’t stop her from fighting for what’s right—first as a New Warrior using a power suit, and later as a vampire, going against every monstrous urge that came with that transformation. Cured of that curse and with her mutant powers returned, Jubilee deserves to reclaim her spot on the X-team!

JUGGERNAUT: The non-mutant stepbrother of Professor X, Cain Marko long ago claimed the gem of the ancient “god” Cyttorak, transforming him into the unstoppable brute known as Juggernaut. For many years he was a thorn in the X-Men’s side, frequently rampaging through their lives leaving wreckage behind. More recently, however, Cain has shaken off the evil influence of his dark master, claiming the power of Juggernaut under his own terms and making amends for his past deeds.

PRODIGY: Prodigy possesses the power of psychomimetry—a form of telepathy that grants him the skills and knowledge of those in his proximity. This allows him equal mastery of any skill—mental or physical—as those around him. His ability to retain knowledge from those sources makes him an even more formidable mutant – one who is brilliant at biology, computers, martial arts, and strategic planning. David Alleyne may borrow from others, but he is one of a kind.

(13) PLEISTOCENE PARK. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] A Dallas-based company believes it’s well on its way to resurrecting the woolly mammoth. They’ve targeting 2027 to re-introduce this “cold-resistant elephant“ in Siberia. Or, well, maybe somewhere else given the current political situation. “Woolly Mammoth Coming Back to Life by 2027: De-Extinction Details”.

…The woolly mammoth’s DNA is a 99.6 percent match of the Asian elephant, which leads Colossal to believe it’s well on its way toward achieving its goal. “In the minds of many, this creature is gone forever,” the company says. “But not in the minds of our scientists, nor the labs of our company. We’re already in the process of the de-extinction of the Woolly Mammoth. Our teams have collected viable DNA samples and are editing the genes that will allow this wonderful megafauna to once again thunder through the Arctic.”

Through gene editing, Colossal scientists will eventually create an embryo of a woolly mammoth. They will place the embryo in an African elephant to take advantage of its size and allow it to give birth to the new woolly mammoth. The eventual goal is to then repopulate parts of the Arctic with the new woolly mammoth and strengthen local plant life with the migration patterns and dietary habits of the beast….

(14) STEAM THEME. “New Universal Citywalk LA Restaurant Goes Full Steampunk Willy Wonka” reports Eater – LA.

Fresh off the buzz from the Super Mario Brothers-themed Toadstool Cafe, Universal CityWalk opens a new and immersive dining restaurant called Toothsome Chocolate Emporium & Savory Feast Kitchen on Friday, January 27. This new spot took over the former Hard Rock Cafe and feels very much like a merger of steampunk industrialism cobbled together with the Cheesecake Factory — and sprinkled with plenty of Willy Wonka vibes to boot.

This isn’t a new concept for Toothsome Chocolate Emporium, since there are locations in both Orlando and Beijing, but it is new for Los Angeles. The entire full-service space, complete with a bar area and multi-level dining room, runs with its bigger-than-life theme to extremes and even offers an extensive backstory involving two live dolled-up characters named Penelope and Jacques that’ll rove throughout the eatery to interact with the guests….

(15) ON THE WAY FROM DC. In this video James Gunn shares his vision for the future of the DC Universe and the upcoming slate from DC Studios. “Chapter 1 – Gods and Monsters”.

[Thanks to Andrew Porter, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, N., Rich Lynch, Olav Rokne, Ben Bird Person, Mike Kennedy, John King Tarpinian, and Chris Barkley for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]

Pixel Scroll 1/30/23 Many Scrolls And Files Knew What It Was To Be Roasted In The Depths Of The Pixels That Day, I Can Tell You

(1) PUBLISHING CONTROVERSY REVISITED. Pamela Paul, former New York Times Book Review editor, returned to the three-year-old American Dirt controversy in an op-ed for the New York Times: “The Long Shadow of ‘American Dirt’”.

…From the moment Cummins’s agent sent “American Dirt” out to potential publishers, it looked like a winner. The manuscript led to a bidding war among nine publishing imprints, resulting in a game-changing, seven-figure deal for its author. In the run-up to publication, as the editor of The New York Times Book Review, I asked attendees at Book Expo, then the most significant annual publishing conference, which upcoming book they were most excited about. The answer was as unanimous as I’ve ever heard: “American Dirt.” Publishers, editors, booksellers, librarians were all wildly enthusiastic: “American Dirt” wasn’t only a gripping novel — it brought attention to one of the most vexing and heartbreaking issues of our time, the border crisis. This, its champions believed, was one of those rare books that could both enthrall readers and change minds.

But in December 2019, a month before the novel’s release, Myriam Gurba, a Latina writer whose memoir, “Mean,” had been published a couple of years earlier by a small press, posted a piece that Ms. magazine had commissioned as a review of “American Dirt,” and then killed. In her blog post and accompanying review, Gurba characterized the novel as “fake-assed social justice literature,” “toxic heteroromanticism” and “sludge.” It wasn’t just that Gurba despised the book. She insisted that the author had no right to write it.

A central charge was that Cummins, who identifies as white and Latina but is not an immigrant or of Mexican heritage, wasn’t qualified to write an authentic novel about Latin American characters. Another writer soon asserted in an op-ed that the “clumsy, ill-conceived” rollout of Cummins’s novel was proof that American publishing was “broken.” The hype from the publisher, which marketed the book as “one of the most important books for our times,” was viewed as particularly damning. Echoing a number of writers and activists, the op-ed writer said it was incumbent upon Mexican Americans and their “collaborators” to resist the “ever-grinding wheels of the hit-making machine,” charging it was “unethical” to allow Oprah’s Book Club to wield such power. More than 100 writers put their names to a letter scolding Oprah for her choice….

Dana Snitzky takes issue: “This Week in Books: It’s Pamela Paul Week”.

…American Dirt was merely criticized. Criticized, probably most famously (yet not by any means initially) in the pages of the New York Times Book Review. The New York Times Book Review as edited by Pamela Paul. Yes, friends, you heard correctly—as Max Read and others online have pointed out, Pamela Paul’s powers of discourse are such that she has established a vertically integrated outrage machine, seeing the process through from initial cancellation to reactionary backlash…. 

Silvia Moreno-Garcia addressed Paul’s op-ed in an extended Twitter thread that starts here. A few of her comments are:

(2) ELSEWHERE MONTELEONE KEEPS DIGGING THE HOLE DEEPER. It was taken down today, however, yesterday YouTube’s Hatchet Mouth posted their “Tom Monteleone Interview”, an extended opportunity for Monteleone to deliver more remarks in the vein of his now-removed Facebook post. He belittled a past Horror Writers Association award winner in derogatory racial terms (while making every effort to assign the wrong ethnicity to the person being insulted), and gave the same treatment to the woman who called for the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer to be renamed (as it was). Copies of the YouTube auto-generated transcript are floating around. In fact, I made my own if you need to see one…

(3) BACK TO THE DINOSAURS. Apex Publishing’s Jason Sizemore, responding to a particular thread within the Monteleone kerfuffle, told Facebook readers what was wrong with the latest attack on an award-winning story.  

There’s another old white male author who has found offense at the award recognition of non-white, non-male writers by the HWA. It’s been all over my FB feed.

Inevitably, the usual cadre of traditionalists and self-anointed old school sci-fi readers rallied around this writer rehashing the same tired arguments that showcase a poor understanding of capitalism, reality, and the depth of fiction they bemoan.

Apex Magazine was accused of catering to reactionary and psychotic (not my words) people.

“If You Were a Dinosaur, My Love” by Rachel Swirsky was evoked. Again. This story came out in March of 2013….

(4) BUFFY SLAYS TROLLS & SLIMEBALLS. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] Working now from a position of earned respect and power, Sarah Michelle Gellar expressed her opinions on mistreatment of women in visual media. In an interview with the Guardian, she takes shots at both the trolls who sit in front of the screen and certain slimeballs who reside behind the cameras. “’A lot of the demons seem a little cheesy now’: Sarah Michelle Gellar on Buffy, her burnout and her comeback”.

…For all its similarities to Buffy, Wolf Pack has one key difference: this time Gellar is in a position of influence, as an executive producer as well as the lead.

The title can be almost meaningless, a way to sweeten the deal for a star, but Gellar says she told Davis: “I’ve been doing this for 40 years. I have a lot of experience, and I have a lot to bring to the table. If you’re just looking for an actor that just wants to have the credit, I’m not your person. I’m going to have ideas, and I’m going to be vocal about them.”…

(5) IN MEMORIAM 2022. Steven H Silver’s list “In Memoriam: Those We Have Lost in 2022” has been posted at Amazing Stories.

(6) LISA LORING OBITUARY. TV’s original Wednesday Addams, Lisa Loring, died January 30 at age 64 reports the BBC.

…Her daughter, Vanessa Foumberg, told The Hollywood Reporter she died of a stroke caused by high blood pressure.

“She went peacefully with both her daughters holding her hands,” Foumberg said.

The actress had been on life support for three days, her friend Laurie Jacobson posted on Facebook.

“She is embedded in the tapestry that is pop culture and in our hearts always as Wednesday Addams,” she said in her post.

The Addams Family, which was the first adaptation of Charles Addams’ New Yorker cartoons, ran from 1964 to 1966 on ABC.

Ms Loring also appeared in the soap opera “As the World Turns” and the sitcom “The Pruitts of Southampton.”…

(7) MEMORY LANE.

1987 [Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

And now we come to the end of the genre quotes (at least for now) with a most splendid one from Ellen Kushner’s Swordspoint: A Melodrama of Manners novel. As y’all know, it’s the first work of the Riverside series which continues in The Fall of the Kings, was co-written with her wife Delia Sherman, and finished in The Privilege of the Sword.

Yes, it’s one of my favorite novels, and the series as well, to re-read. Preferably on a cold winter’s night. I do think that Swordspoint is the best of the novels though The Privilege of the Sword is quite tasty as well. 

And you have to love a society where chocolate is the drink of choice among everyone. 

BY MIDDAY, MOST OF THE NOBLES ON THE HILL COULD be counted on to be awake. The Hill sat lordly above the rest of the city, honeycombed with mansions, landscaped lawns, elaborate gates, and private docks on the cleanest part of the river. Its streets had been built expressly wide and smooth enough to accommodate the carriages of nobles, shortly after carriages had been invented. Usually, mornings on the Hill were passed in leisurely exchange of notes written on colored, scented, and folded paper, read and composed in various states of dishabille over cups of rich chocolate and crisp little triangles of toast (all the nourishment that ought to be managed after a night’s reveling); but on the morning after the garden duel, with the night’s events ripe for comment, no one had the patience to wait for a reply, so the streets were unusually crowded with carriages and pedestrians of rank.

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born January 30, 1911 Hugh Marlowe. First let me note that he was first to play the title character in the very first radio version of The Adventures of Ellery Queen. No, it’s not even genre adjacent but neat nonetheless. As regards genre roles, he’s Tom Stevens in The Day the Earth Stood Still, and Dr. Russell A. Marvin in Earth vs. the Flying Saucers. He was also Harold McPherson in Seven Days in May if you want to count that as genre which I definitely think you should. (Died 1982.)
  • Born January 30, 1920 Michael Anderson. English Director best remembered for Around the World in 80 Days, Logan’s Run, and perhaps not nearly as much for, Doc Savage: The Man of Bronze. Yes, I saw it. It was, errrr, interesting. He also directed The Martian Chronicles series. (Died 2018.)
  • Born January 30, 1924 Lloyd Alexander. His most well-crafted work is The Chronicles of Prydain. Though drawn off Welsh mythology, they deviate from it in significant ways stripping it of much of its negativity.  To my belief, it is his only genre writing as I don’t hold the Westmark trilogy to actually be fantasy, just an alternative telling of European history. Splitting cats hairs? Maybe. He was also one of the founders of Cricket, an illustrated literary journal for children. The late illustrator Trina Schart Hyman whose art I lust after, errrr, adore was another founder. (Died 2007.)
  • Born January 30, 1926 Peter Brachacki. Set designer for the very first episode of Doctor Who. Everything I’ve been able to read on him says that he was not at all interested in working on the series and did so reluctantly under orders. Doctor Who producer Verity Lambert would later recount that she was impressed with Brachacki’s work on the TARDIS interior even though she personally did not like him at all. His design elements persist throughout the fifty years the series has been produced. His only other genre work that I’ve been able to find was Blake’s 7 and a short series called the The Witch’s Daughter done in the late Seventies. The BBC wasn’t always great at documenting who worked on what series. (Died 1980.)
  • Born January 30, 1941 Gregory Benford, 82. His longest running series is Galactic Center Saga, a series I find a little akin to Saberhagen’s Beserker series. I’ve not read enough of it to form a firm opinion though I know some of you of have done so.  Other novels I’ve read by him include Timescape (superb) and A Darker Geometry: A Man-Kzin Novel which was actually was quite excellent. Yes I do read Baen Books. 
  • Born January 30, 1955 Judith Tarr, 68.  I’m fond of her Richard the Lionheart novels which hew closely to the historical record while introducing just enough magic to make them fantasy. The novels also make good use of her keen knowledge of horsemanship as well. Her Queen of the Amazons pairs the historical Alexander the Great, with a meeting with the beautiful Hippolyta, who is queen of the Amazons. Highly recommended.
  • Born January 30, 1973 Jordan Prentice, 50. Inside every duck is a self-described person of short stature. His words, not mine. In the case of Howard the Duck from the movie of the same name, one of those persons was him. He’s not in a lot of SFF roles after his performing debut there though he shows up next as Fingers Finnian in Wolf Girl, playing Sherrif Shelby in Silent But Deadly, Napoleon in Mirror Mirror and Nigel Thumb in The Night Before the Night Before Christmas.
  • Born January 30, 1974 Christian Bale, 49. First enters our corner of the mediaverse in a Swedish film called Mio in the Land of Faraway where he plays a character named Yum Yum. Note though that he doesn’t speak in this role as his Swedish voice is done by Max Winerdah. So his playing Demetrius in A Midsummer Night’s Dream is his first speaking role. Next up is American Psycho in which he was Patrick Bateman, that was followed by a role in Reign of Fire as Quinn Abercromby. He was John Preston in Equilibrium, and he voiced Howl in Howl’s Moving Castle, a film well worth seeing.  Need I say who he plays in Batman Begins? I thought not. He’d repeat that in The Dark Knight and The Dark Knight Rises. Amidst being Batman, he was also John Connor in Terminator Salvation. His last genre role to date was voicing Bagheera in Mowgli: Legend of the Jungle asked off Kipling’s All the Mowgli Stories. He’s got a television genre credit, to wit Jim Hawkins in Treasure Island off the Robert Louis Stevenson of that name.

(9) COMICS SECTION.

  • Candorville shows a dad telling his shrink about trying to get his kid to watch Star Trek.
  • Foxtrot’s “Goodnight Doom” adapts the verses of a children’s book to a kid’s computer.

(10) ALTERNATE OVAL OFFICES. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] Welcome to an alternate universe. Actually, six different ones.

Have you ever wondered what the White House Oval Office would look like if it were outfitted completely in IKEA furniture? Or perhaps another home furnishing brand? House Fresh will be glad to show you.

Some of the choices are breathtaking; albeit perhaps not in the way a President might desire. “If 6 Iconic Home Brands Redesigned The Oval Office” at HouseFresh.

Consider the Pottery Barn version….

(11) THE BIRD HAS THE WORD. “’An Ostrich Told Me the World Was Fake’ Director Discusses Oscar Nom” in Variety.

…The short film follows a young telemarketer named Neil who is confronted by a mysterious talking ostrich who tells him that the universe is actually stop-motion animation. Neil, voiced by Pendragon, then tries to convince his colleagues about the discovery….

Let’s talk about “An Ostrich Told Me the World Was Fake” and its journey. Where did it begin?

It was part of a doctorate in visual arts program at film school. It had to come from a research perspective. The project needed to have a level of innovation and something that you were doing differently that you could write about and talk about. I wanted to do something on stop-motion because it’s something that I love doing, but I hadn’t thought too much about it yet. There was so much potential about what could be done and explored.

I wanted to look at the handmade quality of stop-motion animation and ensure they were as apparent as possible. That led me down this path of doing something that breaks the fourth wall and deconstructs it, so that the audience could be watching the behind-the-scenes as they were watching the film. I thought it was entertaining because it would show all that goes into making this kind of film. But then on the other side, it’s like, how do I make sure that it’s not too distracting that you can still connect with these characters? Finding that balance was difficult….

(12) VIDEO OF THE DAY. “Honest Trailers – Snakes on a Plane” shows that if you steal ideas from enough different places it’s not plagiarism. But first, you also have to steal enough special effects snakes.

[Thanks to Chris Barkley, Andrew Porter, Michael Toman, Daniel Dern, Cat Rambo, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, John King Tarpinian, for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Bill.]

Pixel Scroll 1/29/23 Have Spindizzy, Will Travel

(1) LOST HISTORY, LOST FUTURE. None of the participants in the recent Facebook kerfuffle are mentioned by name, however, have no doubt that is what’s on Brian Keene’s mind in his latest newsletter: “Letters From the Labyrinth 318”.

…I don’t like what social media is doing to us, as a community. I don’t like watching authors and editors in their seventies who once contributed so many important things to our industry now destroying their legacies because their valid fears of being forgotten by the genre’s historical memory have led to misplaced anger due to generational views and the toxic stew of false logic they got from sketchy Facebook posts and talk radio. I don’t like watching writers in their thirties who have inherited this industry dispensing mob justice at the click of a button without pausing to think how it might hurt others who are listening. Speaking truth to power is something that should always be done. But that truth gets muted when everyone is speaking at once, and it’s hard to hear or discern wisdom in the midst of collective braying. I don’t like promising writers in their teens and early twenties, brimming with talent, that the sky is still the limit and yes, if they keep writing and keep submitting, they, too, can have this career… because I no longer believe that is true. They are entering the field at a time when, thanks to social media and technology, every single person in the world is a published writer, and not only do they have to compete with the entire population, they’ll now have to compete with A.I. as well.

So many people seem to have lost their empathy. So many people seem unable to pause, or just walk away. Everyone has to get that last post or Tweet or shot in, and for someone sitting here in the middle of it all, it’s just so very exhausting….

(2) COMICS BC. [Item by Soon Lee.] Colleen Doran who adapted the lovely Neil Gaiman short story “Chivalry” to comics has written a wonderful article about the process of turning the prose story into a graphic novel. Doran shares shoutouts in the graphic novel to the predecessors of modern Western comics. “Sequential art predates Action Comics #1.” The Bayeux Tapestry being an example of this. “Neil Gaiman’s CHIVALRY: From Illuminated Manuscripts to Comics”.

Action Comics popularized sequential art book storytelling that had already appeared in other forms in fits and starts throughout history. Comic books didn’t take off as a popular medium for several reasons, not least of which was the necessary printing process hadn’t been invented yet and it’s hard to popularize – and commercialize – something most people can never see. 

You find sequential art in cave paintings and in Egyptian hieroglyphics. I’ve read that comics (manga) were invented by the Japanese in 12th century scrolls….

(3) MILLIONS OF VOICES SUDDENLY CRIED OUT. “World of Warcraft to go offline in China, leaving millions of gamers bereft” reports the Guardian.

Millions of Chinese players of the roleplaying epic World of Warcraft (WoW) will bid a sad farewell to the land of Azeroth, with the game set to go offline after a dispute between the US developer Blizzard and its local partner NetEase.

Massively popular worldwide, particularly in the 2000s, WoW is an online multiplayer role-playing game set in a fantasy medieval world. It is known for being immersive and addictive, and players can rack up hundreds of hours of game time.

Blizzard’s games have been available in China since 2008 through collaboration with NetEase. Under local law, foreign developers are required to partner with Chinese firms to enter the market.

But after 14 years and millions of players in China, the two firms announced in November that talks over renewing their operating contract had failed to lead to an agreement. As a result, WoW’s Chinese servers will go offline at midnight local time on Tuesday.

Other popular titles by the Californian developer – one of the world’s biggest – will experience the same fate, including OverwatchDiablo III and Hearthstone.

“It’s the end,” wrote one Weibo user, accompanied by crying emojis.

“It was not just a game. It was also the memories of a whole generation” of young Chinese, another wrote.

“The two companies have taken players hostage,” said Wu, a 30-year-old doctoral student and a longtime fan….

(4) WANTS TO CUT THE FLOW OF $$$ TO ROWLING. InThem’s view “Hogwarts Legacy Continues to Make Enemies in the Gaming World”.

With two weeks still to go before the release of Hogwarts Legacy, the controversial video game is getting even more derision in gamer circles, both for making J.K. Rowling richer, and for looking like crap in the process.

On January 22, moderators on the gaming forum ResetEra announced that going forward, no discussion of Hogwarts Legacy would be permitted on the site. The forum previously barred “promotional” discussion of the game in 2021, but mods explained that they decided to implement a blanket ban after assessing the full situation.

“After continued internal discussion, we began to start outlining the issues put forth by Rowling and the game in question and each time, and as we discussed it all, we kept coming back to the simple fact that Rowling is not only a bigot but is actively pushing, in her position as a wealthy and famous individual, for legislation that will hurt trans people,” wrote site moderator B-Dubs in the announcement post. “Therefore, the mod team has decided to expand our prior ban on promotion for the Hogwarts game to include the game itself.”….

(5) WILL MEN BLOW A FUSE? “Toni Collette’s new Prime Video thriller series sounds electrifying” says TechRadar.

…Starring Toni Collette (Knives Out, Hereditary), Auli’i Cravalho (Moana), and Toheeb Jimoh (Ted Lasso season 3), the forthcoming Prime Video thriller series will aim to shock audiences with a worldwide tale based around gender imbalance and a single superpower.

Based on Naomi Alderman’s best-selling novel of the same name, The Power takes place in a world not unlike our own. However, one fateful day, teenage girls across the globe suddenly develop the ability to electrocute people at will. This nature-based power is hereditary, there’s no ‘cure’ for it and, most important of all, wielders can awaken the same power in their older mothers, sisters, cousins, and grandmothers.

Unsurprisingly, the emergence of this superpower leads to complete reversal of gender-based power balance in the world. Soon enough, the sparks of revolution are ignited, and men are quickly viewed as the lesser of humankind’s genders. The fallout that follows, then, will be as dramatic, suspense-filled, and electrifying as you can imagine….

(6) TRADITION DEFENDED. Ahrvid Engholm protests Chicon 8’s apology for their having initially called a panel “The Fannish Inquisition”. (Swedish, followed by English translation.) “The new heights of stupidity”.

…This “complaint” from only one (“the member who brought it to our attention”) reaches stratospheric heights in humorlessness and intolerance in claiming to be sensitive to the use of a simple word like “inquisition”. Have a look at HC Andersen’s story about The Princess and the Pea..  

If a tiny articulation of claimed uneasiness may decide what others can express, freedom of speech is in grave danger, and obviously once language is put  in a cage freedom of thought hangs loose.

We must stop this trend that anyone, who states feeling “uncomfortable” with what others say, have the right to silence them.

A well known historical institution, hundreds of years ago (are you going to tear out those pages in history books?), used as a cheerful gag would “understandably” (no, no one understands!) be “offensive” (no, it’s an innocent joke!)…

(7) WESCHING OBITUARY. Actress Annie Wersching has died of cancer at the age of 45 reports Collider.

Annie Wersching, the actress who brought to life a number of fan-favorite TV characters has sadly passed away today. Wersching most recently appeared as the villainous Borg Queen in Season 2 of Star Trek: Picard, a role that saw her return to the Star Trek franchise in a much bigger capacity a decade after initially making her Star Trek debut in a guest role in Star Trek: Enterprise. Wersching also had roles in popular TV shows such as 24Bosch, and The Vampire Diaries. Away from TV, Wersching was a big part of the fast-rising The Last of Us franchise. She lent her voice and performed motion capture for the beloved role of non-player character Tess who was recently brought to live action on the HBO series by Anna Torv. Wersching was 45 years old at the time of her death.

(8) MEMORY LANE.

2019 [Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

Neil Gaiman’s The Ocean at the End of the Lane is about a man who’s never named who returns to his hometown for a funeral and remembers events that began forty years earlier. The remembrance of those events triggers something in the present of a horrific nature, and I’ll say no more in case some Filers here haven’t read it. 

The illustrated edition of the work was published in 2019, featuring the artwork of Australian Elise Hurst, a fine artist and author, specialising in children’s books.

Dinner was wonderful. There was a joint of beef, with roast potatoes, golden-crisp on the outside and soft and white inside, buttered greens I did not recognize, although I think now that they might have been nettles, toasted carrots all blackened and sweet (I did not think that I liked cooked carrots, so I nearly did not eat one but I was brave, and I tried it, and I liked it, and was disappointed in boiled carrots for the rest of my childhood.) For dessert there was the pie, stuffed with apples and with swollen raisins and crushed nuts, all topped with a thick yellow custard, creamier and richer than anything I had ever tasted at school or at home.

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born January 29, 1913 Victor Mature. He’s best remembered for his first leading role, as a fur-clad caveman in One Million B.C., and until he showed up on Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea as Sparks in the “Deadly Creatures Below!” episode, which I’m reasonably sure is his only genre role. (Died 1999.)
  • Born January 29, 1918 Robert Pastene. He played the title role in the first televised Buck Rogers series on ABC that also had Kem Dibbs and Eric Hammond in that role. 35 episodes were made, none survive. As near as I can tell, his only other SFF performance was on the Out There and Lights Out series. (Died 1991.)
  • Born January 29, 1923 Paddy Chayefsky. In our circles known as the writer of the Altered States novel that he also wrote the screenplay for. He is the only person to have won three solo Academy Awards for Best Screenplay. The other winners of three Awards shared theirs. He did not win for Altered States though he did win for Network which I adore and might well be genre. (Died 1981.)
  • Born January 29, 1940 Katharine Ross, 83. Her first genre work was as Joanna Eberhart in The Stepford Wives, scary film that. She shows up next as Helena in The Swarm and plays Margaret Walsh in The Legacy, both horror films. The Final Countdown sees her in the character of Laurel Scott.  And Dr. Lilian Thurman is her character in the cult favorite Donnie Darko. I’m fairly sure that the only genre series she’s done is on The Wild Wild West as Sheila Parnell in “The Night of the Double-Edged Knife”, and she did an episode of Alfred Hitchcock Presents as well. 
  • Born January 29, 1945 Tom Selleck, 78. Setting aside the matter of if Magnum P.I. is genre which some of you hold to be true, he was Sgt. Jack R. Ramsay in Runaway which is most definitely SF.  He recently did some voice acting by being Cornelius, Lewis’ older self, in the animated Meet the Robinsons film, and he showed up as himself in the “What Do You Want to Be When You Grow Up?” of the Muppet Babies nearly forty years ago. And now in his thirteenth year as Commissioner Frank Reagan on the Blue Bloods series on Paramount+. 
  • Born January 29, 1958 Jeph Loeb, 64. His first comic writing work was on the Challengers of the Unknown vol. 2 #1 in 1991 with Tim Sale. He’d go on to win three Eisners for his work for Batman/The Spirit #1, Batman: The Long Halloween and Batman: Dark Victory. And he’s also a producer/writer on such genre series such as SmallvilleLostHeroes and Teen Wolf.
  • Born January 29, 1970 Heather Graham, 53. Best known SF role was no doubt Dr. Judy Robinson on the Lost on Space film. She played also Felicity Shagwell that year in Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me. And she was Annie Blackburn on Twin Peaks.
  • Born January 29, 1988 Catrin Stewart, 35. Jenny Flint in five episodes of Doctor Who. She was the wife of Madame Vastra and the friend of Strax (informally known as the Paternoster Gang) who appeared first during the Eleventh Doctor and last during the Twelfth Doctor. Big Finish has continued them in their audiobooks. She also played Stella in two episodes of the Misfits series, and was Julia in a performance of 1984 done at London Playhouse a few years back.

(10) COMICS SECTION.

  • Lio makes the scene with a frozen Gort.
  • Dick Tracy is starting another (or repeat?) Little Orphan Annie arc.
  • The Far Side has some genre career counseling.
  • Tom Gauld is keeping busy.

(11) FREE READ. Sunday Morning Transport shares “Tears Waiting to Be Diamonds: Part Two” by Sarah Rees Brennan.

Sarah Rees Brennan’s “Tears Waiting to Be Diamonds, Part One,” our first story of January 2023, brought us news from the Other Lands and absolutely blew our socks off. Now, as January comes to a close, we hope you enjoy Part Two of “Tears Waiting to Be Diamonds,” with all the joys and surprises that entails. ~ Julian and Fran, January 29, 2023

(12) YEAR ENDS WITH A BANG. Joe Stech of Compelling Science Fiction shares his picks for the “Top science fiction short stories published in December”. At number one:

The top story for the month of December (and therefore our t-shirt winner!) is Murder by Pixel: Crime and Responsibility in the Digital Darkness by S.L. Huang. The story is a fun and insightful piece of fictitious journalism. It’s rare that I see near-future AI stories that really feel true-to-life and are also page-turners, Huang knocked this one out of the park.

(13) BRINGING IN THE NEW YEAR. The new episode of the Anime Explorations Podcast is up, where in honor of Lunar New Year, they discuss a Japanese/Taiwanese co-production with the first season and movie of Thunderbolt Fantasy. “Thunderbolt Fantasy Season 1 + The Blade of Life & Death”.

This month, David, Tora and Alexander Case are taking a look at the first season & film of Thunderbolt Fantasy for Lunar New Year.

Thunderbolt Fantasy is available on Crunchyroll: https://www.crunchyroll.com/series/GY75KE906/thunderbolt-fantasy

(14) REMEMBERING AN ICONIC GAME CONSOLE. Lego supplies 2,532 pieces that add up to a replica of the Atari 2600 and some of the paraphernalia.

Take a trip back to the 1980s with this LEGO Atari 2600 (10306) building set for adults. Enjoy a rewarding project creating all the details of this replica console, replica game ‘cartridges’ and joystick. Gaming fans will love the 3 mini builds depicting themes from 3 popular Atari games. There’s even a hidden 1980s scene to build for total nostalgia overload. Rediscover 3 of the most popular Atari games: Asteroids, Adventure and Centipede. There’s a replica ‘cartridge’ for each, plus 3 scenes to build capturing the story of each game. The games slot into the vintage-style console and can be stored in the cartridge holder. Check out the artwork, inspired by the original Atari designs plus a touch of LEGO spirit. This collectible building set makes an immersive project for you or a top gift idea for gamers.

(15) TERMINATOR GENESIS? CNN has video of the earliest ancestor of the T-1000 “Liquid Metal” bot. At the link: “Video: This tiny shape-shifting robot can melt its way out of a cage”.

Researchers took gallium, a metal with a low melting point, and embedded it with magnetic particles to create a robot that can melt and move. Their inspiration? A sea cucumber.

(16) COMPATIBLE QUARTERS FOR NOVELISTS. A Penguin blogger evaluates “The best places to write your novel according to authors: tried and tested”. For some, a hotel is perfect.

…Agatha Christie ostensibly wrote Murder on the Orient Express at the Pera Palace Hotel in Istanbul, while Maya Angelou used to write on hotel beds for months at a time. Ashdown Park Hotel is set right on the edge of the forest where Winnie the Pooh himself was born, and there are some cute nods to the Bear of Very Little Brain outside the hotel’s restaurant. Pooh and Angelou: I was in good company…

(17) VIDEO OF THE DAY. The Season 3 official trailer forStar Trek: Picard dropped today.

The stakes have never been higher as Star Trek: Picard boldly goes into its third and final season. Jonathan Frakes, Brent Spiner, LeVar Burton, Gates McFadden, Marina Sirtis, and Michael Dorn of Star Trek: The Next Generation join series star Patrick Stewart for an epic adventure.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Chris Barkley, Andrew Porter, Soon Lee, Todd Mason, Daniel Dern, Alexander Case, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, and Mike Kennedy for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]

Pixel Scroll 1/28/23 But Oh, Saberish Padawan, Beware Of The Day, If Your Scroll Be A Pixel

(1) COLUMBIA SHUTTLE TRAGEDY ANNIVERSARY. NPR is “Remembering the Space Shuttle Columbia tragedy 20 years on”.

…SIMON: Twenty years later, what have we learned about that day? What happened there in the sky? And what might have prevented it?

DUGGINS: Well, you know, it’s funny. I mean, if you talk to historians, who are much better at this than I am, they’ll say, you know, the Titanic, it can’t sink. Challenger – routine launch and landing, no problems there. And that hubris always seems to catch up with us. And with Columbia, it was the piece of falling foam that hit the vehicle. And NASA asked the engineers, do you know it’s a problem? And they said, well, we can’t be sure. And so the manager said, fine, we’ll just keep going with the mission and not tell anybody about it. And it wasn’t until the very end that they informed the astronauts ’cause they figured it was going to come up in a press conference. And that was what ultimately doomed the crew….

(2) LE GUIN POETRY VOLUME COMING. The Library of America edition of Ursula K. Le Guin: Collected Poems will be released April 23.  See a PDF of the Table of Contents.

Throughout a celebrated career that spanned five decades and multiple genres, Ursula K. Le Guin was first and last a poet. This sixth volume in the definitive Library of America edition of Le Guin’s work presents for the first time an authoritative gathering of her poetry—from the earliest collection, 1974’s Wild Angels, through her final publication, So Far So Good, which she delivered to her editor a week before her death in 2018. It reveals the full formal range and visionary breadth of a major American poet.

Le Guin’s poems engage with themes that resonate throughout her fiction but find their most refined expression here: exploration as a metaphor for both human bravery and creativity, the mystery and fragility of nature and the impact of humankind on the environment, the Tao Te Ching, marriage, aging, and womanhood. Often traditional in form but never in style, her verse is earthy and playful, surprising and lyrical.

This volume features a new introduction by editor Harold Bloom, written shortly before his own death in 2019, in which he reflects on his late-in-life friendship with Le Guin and the power of her poetic gift. “For many years I have wondered why her poetry is relatively neglected,” he writes. “Her lyrics and reflections are American originals. Sometimes I hear in them the accent of William Butler Yeats and occasionally a touch of Robinson Jeffers, yet her voicing is inimitably individual.” The book also presents sixty-eight uncollected poems, a generous selection of Le Guin’s introductions to and reflections on her poetry, including a rare interview, and a chronology of her life and career.

(3) OH GOODY. Futurism assures readers, “By 2030, You’ll Be Living in a World That’s Run by Google”.

…By 2030, Google will have that World Brain in existence, and it will look after all of us. And that’s quite possibly both the best and worst thing that could happen to humanity.

To explain that claim, let me tell you a story of how your day is going to unfold in 2030.

You wake up in the morning, January 1st, 2030. It’s freezing outside, but you’re warm in your room. Why? Because Nest – your AI-based air conditioner – knows exactly when you need to wake up, and warms the room you’re in so that you enjoy the perfect temperature for waking up.

And who acquired Nest three years ago for $3.2 billion USD? Google did.

You go out to the street and order an autonomous taxi to take you to your workplace. Who programmed that autonomous car? Google did. Who acquired Waze – a crowdsourcing navigation app? That’s right: Google did….

(4) WISH WE COULD BE THERE. Dr. Phil Nichols will speak about “Literacy, Censorship and Burning Books: Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451” at the Wolverhampton Literature Festival on February 3.

Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451, the classic dystopian novel of book-burning firemen, is as relevant today as when it debuted seventy years ago. Its insights into censorship, television, drug abuse and the fall and rise of civilisation retain a freshness and plausibility rarely seen in other science fiction of that era.

Fahrenheit 451 is Ray Bradbury’s most successful novel. Ironically for a book which rages against censorship, it frequently shows up on lists of “banned books”. Adapted for the stage by Bradbury himself and twice filmed, it somehow doesn’t date, despite being seventy years old in 2023.

Phil Nichols is the editor of The New Ray Bradbury Review and Senior Consultant to the Ray Bradbury Centre at Indiana University. In this extensively illustrated talk, he explains the curious history of this classic science fiction dystopia. It’s a tale of diverse influences (Huxley and Koestler; but surprisingly not Orwell) and extensive re-writing, resulting in a work which Neil Gaiman calls “a love letter to books . . . a love letter to people.”

(5) DEFINITELY BELONGS TO THE SCIENCE FICTION CANNON. ScreenRant celebrates that “The First Science Fiction Movie Is Over 120 Years Old” and they’ll fight anyone who says it isn’t genre.

A Trip to the Moon is considered the first science fiction movie by most – but some say it is not science fiction, because it is not based on any realistic form of science, classing it more as a space fantasy. A Trip to the Moon features classic elements of the current sci-fi genre, such as aliens and sleek rockets, that would now be considered sci-fi because of how the genre has developed. However, some people do not classify films such as Star Wars as sci-fi because the science in it lacks plausibility, the same way A Trip to the Moon is not realistic with its science – highlighting how differently the genre is considered amongst audiences, as many would consider it a quintessential sci-fi series….

(6) QUITE A BUNCH OF CHARACTERS. Fonts In Use unravels “The Mystery of the Dune Font” and how devotees are keeping it alive.

… The liaison between Dune and Davison Art Nouveau started in September 1975, when the typeface was used by Berkley Medallion for a paperback edition of the first two novels. At the time, the Berkley imprint was owned by New York-based publisher G.P. Putnam’s Sons. When Berkley Putnam published the first hardcover edition of the third novel, Children of Dune, in 1976, the new typographic identity was applied there, too. Later on, Putnam used the typeface on the jackets for hardback editions of other, unrelated books authored (or coauthored) by Frank Herbert…

 … In 2009, a Dune aficionado who goes by the moniker DuneFish (DFUK) and/or MEP made a digital font called Orthodox Herbertarian, “painstakingly traced from scans of the typeface that was used on the American Ace editions […] of Dune and many other Frank Herbert books”. This amateur digitization is freely available at kullwahad.com. The font is caps only (A–Z), with a basic set of punctuation characters and scaled-down caps in the lowercase. Because it’s based on the book covers (as opposed to the original typeface), it naturally adopts the narrowed proportions. Orthodox Herbertarian is a laudable effort, but it doesn’t include any of the alternates or the numerals. In 2020, Reddit user purgruv added lowercase letters and numerals to this freebie and offered it for download as Extended Herbertarian. The additions aren’t faithful to the original and unfortunately aren’t well drawn, either….

(7) MEMORY LANE.

1923 [Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

Following up on my essay yesterday, the quote tonight is from Agatha Christie’s “The Disappearance of Mr. Davenheim”.  

It was first published in March of 1923 in Britain in the Sketch. The story was published in the States in the Blue Book Magazine in December of 1923 as “Mr Davenby Disappears”.  In 1924, the story appeared as part of the Poirot Investigates anthology. 

And yes, David Suchet got to perform the story here in which is Poirot wagers Chief Inspector Japp that he can solve the mystery of a missing banker without leaving his flat. 

And here’s the quote now…

Poirot and I were expecting our old friend Inspector Japp of Scotland Yard to tea. We were sitting round the tea-table awaiting his arrival. Poirot had just finished carefully straightening the cups and saucers which our landlady was in the habit of throwing, rather than placing, on the table. He had also breathed heavily on the metal teapot, and polished it with a silk handkerchief. The kettle was on the boil, and a small enamel saucepan beside it contained some thick, sweet chocolate which was more to Poirot’s palate than what he described as ‘your English poison’. 

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born January 28, 1910 Arnold Moss. Anton Karidian a.k.a. Kodos the Executioner in the most excellent “The Conscience of the King” episode of Trek. It wasn’t his only SFF role as he’d show up in Tales of TomorrowThe Man from U.N.C.L.E. and The Girl from U.N.C.L.E.The Alfred Hitchcock HourTime Tunnel and Fantasy Island. (Died 1989.)
  • Born January 28, 1920 Lewis Wilson. Genre wise, he’s remembered for being the first actor to play Batman on screen in the 1943 Batman, a 15-chapter theatrical serial from Columbia Pictures. A sequel to the serial was made in 1949, but Robert Lowery replaced Wilson as Batman. (Died 2000.)
  • Born January 28, 1929 Parke Godwin. I’ve read a number of his novels and I fondly remember in particular Sherwood and Robin and the King. If you’ve not read his excellent Firelord series, I do recommend you do so. So who has read his Beowulf series? (Died 2013.)
  • Born January 28, 1965 Lynda Boyd, 58. Let’s start off with she’s a singer who starred in productions The Little Shop of Horrors and The Rocky Horror Picture Show. Film-wise, she had roles in Final Destination 2, The Invader, Mission to Mars and Hot Tub Time Machine. She’s had one-offs in X-Files, Highlander, Strange Luck, Millennium, The Sentinel, The Crow: Stairway to Heaven (where she had a recurring role as Darla Mohr), Outer Limits, Twilight Zone and Smallville.
  • Born January 28, 1981 Elijah Wood, 42. His first genre role was Video-Game Boy #2 in Back to the Future Part II. He next shows up as Nat Cooper in Forever Young followed by playing Leo Biederman in Deep Impact. Up next was his performance as Frodo Baggins In The Lord of The Rings and The Hobbit films. Confession time: I watched the very first of these. Wasn’t impressed. He’s done some other genre work as well including playing Todd Brotzman in the Beeb superb production of Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency
  • Born January 28, 1986 Shruti Haasan, 37. Indian film actress known for the Telugu fantasy film Anaganaga O Dheerudu, and the Tamil science fiction thriller 7aum Arivu. She voiced Queen Elsa in the Tamil-dubbed version of Frozen II.
  • Born January 28, 1998 Ariel Winter, 25. Voice actress who’s shown up in such productions as Mr. Peabody & Sherman as Penny Peterson, Horton Hears a Who!DC Showcase: Green Arrow as Princess Perdita and Batman: The Dark Knight Returns as Carrie Kelly (Robin). She’s got several one-off live performances on genre series, The Haunting Hour: The Series and Ghost Whisperer.

(9) COMICS SECTION.

  • Six Chix shows how hardcover books have learned to play rough at the airport.

(10) CATZILLAS. “The Army Corps of Engineers Made a Glorious 2023 Cat Calendar” and Gizmodo has a slideshow of the whole thing.

It’s hard to believe that the mighty, stone-faced U.S. Army would ever adapt adorable cat babies as its representatives, but this is the internet in the year of our lord 2023. Anything is possible.

That’s certainly what I thought when I stumbled upon this glorious 2023 cat calendar made by the Portland District of U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. While it’s not the product of a Photoshop wizard, the calendar earnestly features gigantic cats being their amazing furry selves. They play, they scratch, they think about life, and they stretch—all the while interacting with the Army Corps’ various dams, jetties, and heavy machinery….

(11) PLAUDITS FOR NEWITZ. Paul Di Filippo reviews The Terraformers by Annalee Newitz in the Washington Post [Archive.is link].

… This generously overstuffed tale has enough ideas and incidents to populate half a dozen lesser science fiction books. But the reading experience is never clotted or tedious, never plagued by extraneous detours. The story — which begins nearly 60,000 years in the future and unfolds over more than a millennium — rollicks along at a brisk clip while allowing Newitz space to dig into characters and milieu, and pile on startling speculative elements….

(12) NUKE THE MOON. In the New York Times: “‘The Wandering Earth II’ Review: It Wanders Too Far”

Upon its release, “The Wandering Earth,” Frant Gwo’s 2019 film about a dystopia in which Earth is perilously pushed through space, was minted as China’s first substantial, domestic sci-fi blockbuster, with the box office returns to prove it.

The film was entertaining enough, but its ambitious scope had something of an empty gloss to it, partly because the story’s drama wasn’t grounded in anything beyond the showy cataclysm. Its audaciously messy sequel, “The Wandering Earth II,” seems to have taken note and sprinted, aimlessly, entirely in the other direction. Losing all of the glee of its predecessor, the movie instead offers nearly three hours of convoluted story lines, undercooked themes and a tangle of confused, glaringly state-approved political subtext….

(13) KEEP YOUR DRAWERS ON. The Takeout tells how “Fox News Fell for an A&W Joke About Its Pantsless Mascot”.

…As you can see, the A&W tweet is simply parroting M&M’s tweet closely (the internet age is weird, everyone) and riding the same jokey wave. Rooty, typically pantsless, will wear jeans now. Funny gag! However, Fox News took A&W’s post as an opportunity to wage a culture war.

At first the outlet reported A&W’s Rooty announcement as a serious matter….

“First it was an M&M’s, now a bear has to wear [pants],” noted Fox Business anchor Cheryl Casone. “This is the woke police. Cancel culture has gone—ridiculous.”

Later, however, after all that lamentation, Fox realized the error, clarifying that A&W followed up its original tweet with another one that said, “Is now a good time to mention that this is a joke?”

(14) IT COULD HAPPEN ANYWHERE. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] It’s Saturday, I’m up early, had croissant and coffee and done work chores for today already 10.20. (I’m so hot it’s untrue…) So here is an extra from today’s Science. “Earth-like planets should readily form around other stars, meteorites suggest”.

Samples from space rocks suggest water and light elements are present in warm inner part of planet-forming disks

How hard is it to give birth to an Earth? To assemble the right mix of rock, metal, and water, in a balmy spot not too far from a star? For a long time, planetary scientists have thought Earth was a lucky accident, enriched with water and lighter “volatile” elements—such as nitrogen and carbon—by asteroids that had strayed in from the outer edges of the early Solar System, where those materials were abundant. But a series of new studies, including two published today in Science, suggests all the ingredients were much closer at hand when Earth was born…

Also Matt over at PBS Space Time contemplates Silicon based aliens

(15) VIDEO OF THE DAY. Everything’s up to date on Ukraine’s farms.

[Thanks to Mike Kennedy, John King Tarpinian, Chris Barkley, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Andrew Porter, Michael Toman, and Cat Eldridge for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editors of the day Andrew (not Werdna).]

Pixel Scroll 1/27/23 Gully File Is My Name, And The Scroll’s My Destination

(1) 2023 SMOFCON NEWS. MCFI president Rick Kovalcik has announced new discount rates for Smofcon40, being held December 1-3, 2023 at the Marriott Downtown, Providence, RI, USA. 

There is now a $40 (attending) rate for First Smofcon Attendees, Young Adult (Under 33 Years Old / Born After 1 December 1990), or Unwaged / Retired / Hardship. We expect these rates to be good at least through the end of pre-registration. We trust people not to abuse the Unwaged / Retired / Hardship rate. Unfortunately, we will not be refunding $10 to anyone who already bought at the $50 rate. The $50 full attending rate is good at least through 28 February 2023.

We have been working on our official website at smofcon40.org and expect to have an integrated membership / payment system up shortly. In the meantime, memberships may still be bought by filling out the form at  https:tinyurl.com/Smofcon40Membership and paying by PayPal to [email protected] or mailing a check to MCFI at PO Box 1010, Framingham, MA 01701 USA.

Gay Ellen Dennett has been chosen as Smofcon40 Chair and can be reached at [email protected].

The committee has a signed contract with the hotel. They expect to publish a link for room reservations in the late spring. Any additional questions may be sent to [email protected].

(2) BOOK SHOPPING IN MONGOLIA. [Item by Mikael Thompson.] Here are two recent translations I saw in Mongolian bookstores recently. First is Howl’s Moving Castle (literally, “Howl’s habitually-nomadizing castle”–nüü- meaning ‘to move, shift pastures, nomadize’ and -deg indicating habitual aspect). Second is the just-released translation of The Man Who Fell to Earth.   

(3) EKPEKI WILL VISIT ASU IN MARCH. Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki has been named a 2023 Visiting Fellow of the Future of Being Human initiative, in collaboration with the Arizona State University Center for Science and the Imagination.

Oghenechovwe will be visiting the ASU Tempe campus at the end of March, where he will be engaging with initiative communities, participating in meetups, and talking about his work and it’s connection to how we think about being human in a technologically advances future in a number of venues.

(4) AUTHOR WEBSITES. Michael Burton-Murphy has set up his own, but is looking around the field to decide how to use it: “Author Websites: A Survey of Sorts”   (Via Cat Rambo.)

… I’m not really a good hand for visuals, so I usually have a hard time figuring out what I want to do with a new website like this. I decided I’d take a survey of the sites put up by some of the authors whose work I’ve enjoyed over the years, and see what I could infer from them.

Ugly On Purpose

Let’s start with a couple of sites that aren’t formatted for visual appeal.

Charlie Stross is a writer of deep, complex, even mind-bending fiction. He’s also a veteran of multiple tech startups. His author website is spartan….

(5) EATING THE FANTASTIC. Scott Edelman invites listeners to lunch on Laotian food with Cory Doctorow in Episode 190 of the Eating the Fantastic podcast.

Cory Doctorow

Cory is a science fiction writer, journalist and technology activist who in 2020, was inducted into the Canadian Science Fiction and Fantasy Hall of Fame. In the years since I published his first professional fiction sale in Science Fiction Age magazine (though I didn’t buy his first professionally sold short story, a distinction we get into during our chat), he’s won the Locus, Prometheus, Copper Cylinder, White Pine and Sunburst Awards, and been nominated for the Hugo, Nebula and British Science Fiction Awards.

His novels include Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom (2003), Eastern Standard Tribe (2004), Someone Comes to Town, Someone Leaves Town (2005), Little Brother (2008), his most recent, Walkaway (2017), and others. His most recent short story collection is Radicalized (2019). He’s also a special consultant to the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a non-profit civil liberties group that defends freedom in technology law, policy, standards and treaties.

We discussed how different D.C. seems to him now that he’s a U.S. citizen, the way his remarkable evening hanging with both David Byrne and Spider Robinson put things in perspective, the lessons we learned (both good and bad) from Harlan Ellison, our differing levels of hope and despair at the current state of the world, the major effect Judith Merril had on the direction of his life, how an ongoing column he wrote for Science Fiction Age magazine predicted the next 20 years of his life, our differing opinions as to what it means when we say stories are didactic, how to continue on in the face of rejection — and then once we do, how not to become parodies of ourselves, the best piece of advice he didn’t follow, our differing views on spoilers, what he recently came to understand about the reactionary message of traditional hardboiled fiction — and how he used that in his upcoming trilogy, knowing when to break the rules of writing, and much more.

(6) A STOPPED CLOCK TELLS THE RIGHT TIME. Camestros Felapton initially discusses a point made by Larry Correia that he agrees with – how did that happen? But they soon part company again in “Guns & Nonsense: Part 5, Defence in Depth”.

…However, Correia is apparently naïve enough to think that gun control must be perfect before it can be an additional layer of security. The opposite is obviously true. Making it harder for people who wish to hurt others to get access to guns is an additional layer of security. It’s not a perfect layer but as demonstrated in multiple wealthy nations, it is a very effective layer.

Of course, if Correia conceded that gun control is an effective layer in a model of “defence in depth” then a rather alarming conclusion would logically follow: gun control is part of self-defence. Ah. The implication of that is both huge but also demonstrable. A right to protect yourself from harm applied equitably i.e. a right that makes it easier for everybody is the opposite of tyranny….

(7) MEMORY LANE.

1968 [Compiled by Cat Eldridge.] Agatha Christie’s At Bertram’s Hotel

Food has an important role in Christie’s fiction. (And yes, I adore her detectives, all of them. That’s why you will see more culinary quotes from her fiction.) Hercule Poirot and his oh so perfect breakfast,  or the quote this time from At Bertram’s Hotel, a Miss Marple novel (she is taking a two-week holiday in London at this hotel though she doesn’t figure into our quote, though she loved breakfast here, “Miss Marple inserted a knife gingerly but with confidence. She was not disappointed. Rich deep yellow yolk oozed out, thick and creamy. Proper eggs! “) The manager is telling one of the guests what an English breakfast once was like, and what he can have there now.

‘Eggs and bacon?’

‘As you say—but a good deal more than that if you want it. Kippers, kidneys and bacon, cold grouse, York ham, Oxford marmalade.’

‘I must remember to get all that… don’t get that sort of a thing any more at home.’

Humfries smiled. ‘Most gentlemen only ask for eggs and bacon. They’ve—well, they’ve got out of the way of thinking about the things there used to be.’

‘Yes, yes… I remember when I was a child. … Sideboards groaning with hot dishes. Yes, it was a luxurious way of life.’

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born January 27, 1940 James Cromwell, 83. I think we best know him as Doctor Zefram Cochrane In Star Trek: First Contact which was re-used in the Enterprise episode “In a Mirror, Darkly (Part I)”.  He’s been in other genre films including Species IIDeep ImpactThe Green MileSpace CowboysI, Robot, Spider-Man 3 and Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom. He played characters on three Trek series, Prime Minister Nayrok on “The Hunted” episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation and Jaglom Shrek in the two part “Birthright” story, Hanok on the “Starship Down” episode of Deep Space Nine and Zefram Cochrane once as noted before on Enterprise
  • Born January 27, 1950 Michaela Roessner, 73. She won the Astounding Award for Best New Writer after writing Walkabout Woman. Though not genre, her two historical novels, The Stars Dispose and The Stars Compel, about Catherine de Medici are excellent.  ISFDB lists another novel of genre status, Vanishing Point. None of her fiction is available digitally, alas. 
  • Born January 27, 1953 Joe Bob Briggs, 70. Writer, actor, and comic performer. Host of the TNT MonsterVision series, and the ongoing The Last Drive-in with Joe Bob Briggs on Shudder from 2018–present. The author of a number of nonfiction review books including Profoundly Disturbing: Shocking Movies that Changed History!  And he’s written one genre novel, Iron Joe Bob. My favorite quote by him is that after contracting Covid and keeping private that he had, he said later that “Many people have had COVID-19 and most of them were much worse off than me. I wish everybody thought it was a death sentence, because then everyone would wear the f*cking mask and then we would get rid of it.”
  • Born January 27, 1956 Mimi Rogers, 67. Her best known SFF role is Professor Maureen Robinson in the Lost in Space film which I did see in a theatre I just realized. She’s also Mrs. Marie Kensington in Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery, and she’s Orianna Volkes in the Penny Dreadful hitchhiker horror film. She’s got one-offs in Tales from The CryptThe X-FilesWhere Are You Scooby Doo? and Ash v. Evil Dead.
  • Born January 27, 1957 Frank Miller, 66. He’s both an artist and writer so I’m not going to untangle which is which here. What’s good by him? Oh, I love The Dark Knight Returns, both the original comic series and the animated film, though the same not no true of Sin City where I prefer the original series much more. Hmmm… What else? His runs on Daredevil and Electra of course. That should do. 
  • Born January 27, 1965 Alan Cumming, 58. I’m now watching The Good Wife where plays Eli Gold, the ultimate crisis manager. His film roles include performances as Boris Grishenko in GoldenEye, Fegan Floop In the Spy Kids trilogy, Loki, god of Mischief in Son of the Mask, Nightcrawler In X2 and Judas Caretaker in Riverworld (anyone know this got made?). 
  • Born January 27, 1966 Tamlyn Tomita, 57. I’m fairly sure I first saw her in a genre role on the Babylon 5 film The Gathering as Lt. Cmdr. Laurel Takashima. Or it might have been on The Burning Zone as Dr. Kimberly Shiroma. And she had a recurring late on Eureka in Kate Anderson, and Ishi Nakamura on Heroes? She’s been in a number of SFF series in one-off roles including HighlanderQuantum LeapThe SentinelSeven DaysFreakyLinks, Stargate SG-1 and a recurring as late as Tamiko Watanabe in The Man in The High Castle.
  • Born January 27, 1970 Irene Gallo, 53. Creative Director for Tor.com and Tor Books. She’s won an amazing thirteen Chelsey Awards, and two World Fantasy Awards, as art director of Tor.com and for the Worlds Seen in Passing: Ten Years of Tor.com Short Fiction anthology. She also co-wrote Revolution: The Art of Jon Foster with Jon Foster and Cathy & Arnie Fenner.

(9) IF YOU CAN MAKE IT THERE. FANAC.org’s next FanHistory Project Zoom Session will be “New York Fandom in the 70s with Moshe Feder, Andy Porter, Steve Rosenstein and Jerry Kaufman”. Catch it live on February 11, 2023 at 4:00 p.m. Eastern

The story of New York fandom is fascinating. From the worldcon in the 60s to fragmentation and multiple fannish groups in the 70s, there’s a real story to tell. How did NY fandom come to break apart? What were the fannish clubs and how were they different? Who were the movers and shakers? How did the emergence of Star Trek and Star Trek conventions affect NY fandom? Did moving Lunacon out of the city have a big effect? What were the highlights and heartbreaks? Join four of the stalwarts of 70s New York fandom, as they revisit those days.

(10) JEOPARDY! SF QUESTIONS 2023-01-26 [Item by David Goldfarb.] Troy Meyer continues to extend his winning streak. On Thursday’s Jeopardy! episode there were two clues with SF content, both in the Double Jeopardy round.

Line in the Sand, $1600: A passage in this novel relays: “Gurney saw Fremen spread out across the sand there in the path of the worm”

Emma Moore responded correctly.

“B” Movies [i.e., movies whose titles began with the letter B], $2000: This Terry Gilliam fantasy features a futuristic bureaucracy

Troy Meyer responded correctly.

(11) FOUNDATIONS OF MIDDLE-EARTH. Austin Gilkeson delves into “The Lore of the Rings” at the New York Review of Books.

One September day in 1914, a young J.R.R. Tolkien, in his final undergraduate year at Oxford, came across an Old English advent poem called “Christ A.” Part of it reads, “Éalá Éarendel engla beorhtast/ofer middangeard monnum sended,” which he later rendered: “Hail Éarendel, brightest of angels/above the middle-earth sent unto men!” Safe in his aunt’s house in Nottinghamshire while battles raged on the continent, Tolkien took inspiration from this ode to the morning and evening star and wrote his own poem in modern English, “Éarendel the Mariner.” That poem was not published in his lifetime, but after it came the stories that would become The SilmarillionThe Hobbit, and The Lord of the Rings, which in turn inspired, to varying degrees, EarthseaStar Wars, Dungeons & Dragons, Harry PotterThe Wheel of TimeThe WitcherGame of Thrones, and so on, an apostolic succession of fantasy.

The latest in the line is The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power. Amazon Studios does not have the rights to The Silmarillion, the posthumous collection of Tolkien’s mythology that serves as a sort of bible for Middle-earth, nor is it adapting The Lord of the Rings, Tolkien’s 1954 novel about the hobbit Frodo’s quest to save Middle-earth by destroying the One Ring, which holds the power of the Dark Lord Sauron. Peter Jackson’s film trilogy still looms too large. Instead, the showrunners, J.D. Payne and Patrick McKay, have crafted a prequel, set thousands of years before the events of the three-volume novel and drawn from bits of lore in its prologue, “Concerning Hobbits,” and extensive appendices on Middle-earth history and culture. It’s an undertaking not dissimilar from Tolkien’s own reworking of “Christ A,” spinning out a narrative from a few textual scraps—the kind of academic exercise an Oxford professor of Old English could appreciate….

(12) SUN DIALS ARE RIGHT OUT. “What time is it on the Moon?” in Nature. “Satellite navigation systems for lunar settlements will require local atomic clocks. Scientists are working out what time they will keep.” SF authors and Andy Weir take note…

The coming decade will see a resurgence in lunar exploration — including dozens of missions and plans to establish permanent bases on the Moon. The endeavours pose myriad challenges. Among them is a subtle, but fundamental, question that meteorologists worldwide are working to answer: what time is it on the Moon?… 

The Moon doesn’t currently have an independent time. Each lunar mission uses its own timescale that is linked, through its handlers on Earth, to coordinated universal time, or UTc — the standard against which the planet’s clocks are set. But this method is relatively imprecise and spacecraft exploring the Moon don’t synchronize the time with each other. The approach works when the Moon hosts a handful of independent missions, but it will be a problem when there are multiple craft working together. Space agencies will also want to track them using satellite navigation, which relies on precise timing signals.

It’s not obvious what form a universal lunar time would take. Clocks on Earth and the Moon naturally tick at different speeds, because of the differing gravitational fields of the two bodies. Official lunar time could be based on a clock system designed to synchronize with UTC, or it could be independent of Earth time….

(13) HWA KERFUFFLE. Tom Monteleone, alleging that “gatekeepers” at the Horror Writers Association websites were keeping his post from appearing, took to Facebook to nominate David Schiff for an HWA Lifetime Achievement Award.  But before sharing the reasons Schiff should receive the recognition, Monteleone made known his real agenda:

…That said, and despite the last few LAA years looking very much like a very obvious DEI project, I am compelled to nominate a smart, old white guy: Stu Schiff…

Since then people have left over 500 comments, some applauding what he said and adding their own feelings about “virtue signaling” and “wokeness”, while others have called for him to apologize. He has made additional comments which others are engaging. The worthiness of some of the 2017 LAA winners has also been denigrated.

Former HWA president John Palisano chimed in:

As the person who was president of the HWA when these LAA awards were selected and given, I stood behind them then, and I stand behind them today. And I also stand behind Kevin Wetmore and the LAA committee who made these selections.

I’m more than disappointed their names have been attacked. I have zero tolerance for the transphobia and hateful comments spewed forth.

For the record? They were chosen on merit, period. Anyone who thinks otherwise is dead wrong. I was there. Their Race, gender, sexuality. Etc. we’re not the defining factors.

Also? SCHIFF’s validation and consideration will not be based negatively based upon this hurtful thread.

Even though I’m not president now, I know my colleagues in the HWA will not hold this against a candidate. In fact? Proof of such can be seen in the fact that many people who’ve been very critical against the HWA in the past have been brought in as GOH and in other capacities. There’s always room for growth and learning…

Brian Keene finally decided he needed to come off the sidelines and wrote a long comment that includes this quote:

… But now, with this second topic, there *are* people speaking up directly, and telling you [Monteleone] that some of the things you’re saying here are hurtful. They’re not going through me to do it. They’re saying it right here, directly to you. Maybe you’re not hearing them, so let me try saying it instead.

You’re publishing Mary’s collection of Edward Lucas White stories. She turned that in to you two days ago. That night, she said to me, quote: “Back in the day, Tom was the first editor in this business to treat me like a colleague and not like a groupie.” End quote. Today she saw your trans comments elsewhere in this thread. As the mother of a trans daughter, she was incredibly hurt by them. She’s downstairs right now, trying to reconcile all this. As the soon-to-be step-father to a trans-daughter, and as someone who has known that child since she was 4 years old, and has seen her struggle first hand, I’m hurt by them, too. You have always been kind and generous and supportive of Mary and I both, but what are we supposed to do at the wedding reception? Stick you at a back table like “that one uncle”? Because that’s how it’s coming across to us both…

[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, John King Tarpinian, Mikael Thompson, David Goldfarb, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Chris Barkley, Andrew Porter, and Michael Toman  for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editors of the day Jayn and David Goldfarb.]

Pixel Scroll 1/26/23 First, They Came For The Pixels, But I Was Not A Pixel, So I Scrolled Nothing

(1) REVISED 2025 WORLDCON BID DEADLINE. The Chengdu Worldcon has recalculated the deadline for 2025 Worldcon bids to file in order to appear on the printed ballot. They tweeted:

According to Section 4.6.3 of the WSFS Constitution, the new deadline for any bidding party to have its name appearing on the printed ballot for the 2025 Worldcon Site Selection is April 21, 2023. For any inquiry, please contact [email protected]

(2) TWO DC TV SERIES WHACKED. “Doom Patrol, Titans canceled at HBO Max after four seasons” reports SYFY Wire.

The DC TV slate is getting thinner by the day. Both Doom Patrol and Titans have been canceled at HBO Max, with each DC-based series set to end for good when their current seasons are done. 

Reported at the same time, news of each cancelation on Wednesday elicited a rapid followup tweet from James Gunn, the recently-hired co-CEO (alongside Peter Safran) of the rebranded DC Studios. Gunn clarified that the move to end both Doom Patrol and Titans was decided before he was elevated to the studio’s top position, while Deadline reported that each show is building toward planned ending episodes aimed at delivering series finales that won’t close things out with any cliffhangers….

(3) EKPEKI Q&A. Kristy Anne Cox, in Strange Horizon’s “Writing While Disabled” column, speaks with Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki: “Writing While Disabled By Kristy Anne Cox, By Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki”.

KAC:  So, how do you fit into the Disabled community? 

ODE:  I only started to refer to myself as Disabled after publishing my novelette “O2 Arena,” so I’m approaching the Disabled community in baby steps. Though, I’ve been Disabled all my life. Regarding speculative fiction, my current story, which was nominated for the Hugo Award, the Nebula, and the BSFA, is the first where I’ve identified as Disabled.

KAC:  Yeah. I mean, that’s common for Disabled people like us, right? Some of us use the word Neurodiverse instead. You may not even understand you are Disabled until you get your diagnosis—and depending on which disability you have, you may or may not have access to a Disabled community. 

Chovwe, do you mind if I ask you what disabilities you have? I do that so our Disabled and Neurodiverse readers can relate their experiences to yours.

ODE:  Sure. Since birth, I have had chronic sinusitis—it’s a respiratory illness. I have perforated ear drums from the sinusitis infection, which means I’m hearing impaired. It’s all connected, like a network of disabilities springing from one. 

That’s respiratory and hearing. Then, because of my chronic sinusitis, I am more susceptible to respiratory illnesses, so I had pneumonia and tuberculosis somewhere along the line. It sort of leaves your lungs a little scarred, you know? I have weaker lungs, and an entire network of respiratory problems.

From my tuberculosis, I got damage to my spine, so I have chronic back pain, too. Chronic sinusitis, hearing loss, chronic back pain, and general breathing difficulties—that’s about it for now.

KAC:  I mean, that’s enough, right? Well, I welcome you into my Disabled communities….

(4) HARPERCOLLINS STRIKE NEWS. “HarperCollins, HarperUnion Move to Solve Labor Dispute with Independent Mediator” – details at Publishers Weekly.

In a company-wide memo sent on January 25, HarperCollins announced that it has reached an agreement with its employee union to have a mutually-agreed-upon independent mediator take over labor negotiations. With more than 200 union employees on strike since November 10, the company said that it hopes a mediator will be able to clear “a path forward” for employees to return to work.

“We entered negotiations eager to find common ground, and we have remained committed to achieving a fair and reasonable contract throughout this process,” reads the memo from HC’s v-p of human resources, Zandra Magariño. “We are optimistic that a mutually agreed upon mediator can help find the solutions that have eluded us so far.”

The memo seemed to strike a different tone than the open letter from CEO Brian Murray published early last month, in which he argued that the union’s demands for livable wages “failed to account for the market dynamics of the publishing industry” and the company’s “responsibility to meet the financial demands” of its business stakeholders. In contrast, Magariño’s memo said that HarperCollins is “optimistic that a mutually agreed upon mediator can help find the solutions that have eluded us so far. HarperCollins has had a union for 80 years, with a long history of successful and fair contract negotiations. The company has the exact same goal now, and is actively working to achieve it.”

The union confirmed the mediator on Twitter, and in its own press release, this morning. “We are hopeful the company will use this opportunity to settle fairly and reset our relationship,” it wrote, adding: “This means our pressure campaign is working. The strike will continue until we reach a fair contract agreement. Please continue to hold the line.”

(5) A DUEL OF WITS WITH AN UNARMED OPPONENT. Camestros Felapton continues his explorations of Larry Correia’s In Defense of the Second Amendment.

…Larry Correia will get to the “tired proposals” that he believes can’t work in Chapter 4 but logic is not going to play a big role.

Chapter 1 “Guns and Vultures” sets out Correia’s broad argument and covers briefly several of the themes that he will discuss at greater length in later chapters. Numerous points are made but I think it is reasonable to say that the overarching theme of the chapter is about who the true victims of American gun violence are from Correia’s perspective….

Which is to say, gun owners.

Imagine a public debate on transport policy, with a focus on increased pedestrianisation of town centres. Fewer cars, fewer accidents, safer streets and a more congenial place to shop or visit a library. Not everybody will be in favour of such a plan and maybe a guy write a book about why we should actually have more cars in town. After all, you can’t get run over by a car when crossing the road if you are already in a car! We’ll call this author Lorry Career….

(6) IS THE ORVILLE MEETING A MALIGN FATE? In ScreenRant’s news about the series, never is said an encouraging word: “The Orville Season 4 Gets Bleak Update From Hulu Exec”

…Hulu Originals and ABC Entertainment president Craig Erwich gave a bleak update for The Orville season 4. The popular Star Trek-inspired science-fiction comedy follows Captain Ed Mercer (Seth MacFarlane) as he leads the crew of USS Orville on adventures across the galaxy. Although season 1 faltered, garnering middling reviews from critics and audiences alike, The Orville rebounded with season 2 and 3, both scoring 100% Fresh ratings on Rotten Tomatoes.

Erwich recently spoke to TVLine and gave a bleak update regarding The Orville season 4. The executive did not share any new details, avoiding any confirmation that The Orville will return. Instead, Erwich praised the work MacFarlane had done on the latest season. Read all of what Erwich said below:

We don’t have anything to share right now. It’s a great show and I know that the fans loved having it back in their lives. And Seth [MacFarlane] did a great job, uniquely as he can, in front of and behind the camera. But we don’t have anything to share right now.

CinemaBlend says another cast member finds waiting is hard: “The Orville’s Penny Johnson Drops Humorously Relatable Video About Waiting For Season 4 Renewal At Hulu”.

Meanwhile, Seth MacFarlane has been building up his positive karma: “Seth MacFarlane adopts the rescue cat Arthur after feline was dumped at a shelter with a broken leg” at Daily Mail Online.

… ‘POV: you are a black cat with a broken leg dumped at a vet clinic to be euthanized but you were finally rescued by the amazing team @perrys_place-la. Then you waited 7 months to find your forever home and now you live with the legend @macfarlaneseth.’  …

(7) WASH ME. RadioTimes did a roundup about “Doctor Who fans think they’ve spotted a key change to the TARDIS”.

Doctor Who fans are always searching for clues about possible developments in the Whoniverse – and it looks like some eagle-eyed viewers have spotted a change to the TARDIS during filming for the show’s 14th season.

Yesterday (Tuesday 24th January) Twitter user Darren Griffiths posted some snaps he had taken when he stumbled upon the set of the sci-fi show while “wandering along a coastal path in Welsh Wales”, and other fans were quick to point out some interesting alterations to the iconic Police Box.

One commenter noted that “the windows are dirty at the bottom”, while Griffiths himself added that “the Police Box sign at the top was also dulled down”. Meanwhile, fan page The Post Monument wrote, “I like how they’ve aged the TARDIS.”

Quite why the TARDIS has been given a new weathered look is not immediately clear – and it remains to be seen whether this will be a specific plot point or just an altogether new look for the Doctor’s trusty vehicle – but it is sure to cause all sorts of speculation amongst the fanbase as they wait for the show to return for its 6oth anniversary celebrations later this year.

(8) AFTER THE AFTERLIFE. “Bill Murray, Sigourney Weaver, Dan Aykroyd set for roles in Ghostbusters: Afterlife sequel” reports Yahoo!

…A source told The Sun newspaper’s Bizarre column: “Studio bosses are taking a classic franchise, setting it in a new location but keeping the magic of the original. It’s going to be brilliant.

“’Ghostbusters’ has always been synonymous with New York, but to mix things up this time the team was thinking of other great cities with a haunted history.

“London is perfect. It gives so much license to look back at classic landmarks and British history, but still in an urban setting.

“The plans look very cool, and getting the original stars interested wasn’t difficult. They all love the movies and look back at them very fondly.”

The news comes a month after it was announced Gil Kenan will be directing the sequel, with ‘Ghostbusters Afterlife’ filmmaker moving into a writer-producer role….

(9) SAL PIRO OBITUARY. The president of the Rocky Horror Picture Show Fan Club died January 24. Deadline paid tribute: “Sal Piro Dies: Original ‘Rocky Horror’ Role-Playing Superfan And Subject Of Upcoming Movie Was 71”.

Sal Piro, who played a pivotal role in creating the audience participation routines that turned The Rocky Horror Picture Show into a multi-decade, world-wide phenomenon, died at his home in New York City Jan 21.

His death was announced by The Rocky Horror Picture Show Fan Club, which he founded in 1977 and served as its president until his death, becoming a major figure in creating the movie’s cult classic status.

“Sal was the defacto face of Rocky Horror fandom for decades,” the fan club said in a tweeted statement. “He will be sorely missed.”

Opening to terrible reviews in 1975, The Rocky Horror Picture Show soon became a staple of the midnight movie screenings at New York City’s Waverly Theater in Greenwich Village. Surprisingly, the film quickly drew the devotion of young fans, including Piro, who shouted humorous responses to much of the film’s dialogue. As the responses became more elaborate into a sort of viewing ritual, Piro helped shape a floor show of audience members playing out the movie beneath the screen….

(10) MEMORY LANE.

1996 [Compiled by Cat Eldridge.] Terri Windling’s The Wood Wife

Terri Windling’s The Wood Wife which won the Mythopoeic Award for Novel of the Year is without doubt one of my favorite novels. 

It was supposed to be based off one of Brian Froud’s faerie paintings which is on the British cover of the first edition of the novel, as opposed to the Susan Sedden Boulet art for the American first edition. What you see below is Froud’s original artwork.

Of the books that wound up comprising Froud’s Faerieland series—Charles de Lint’s The Wild Wood, Patricia A. McKillip’s Something Rich and Strange, and Midori Snyder’s Hannah’s Garden, the first two, plus this in the British edition, got his artwork. 

Maggie Black is the artist who’s the central character in this novel and an amazing woman she is. She’s a poet, who comes to the Southwest desert upon learning that a friend, Cooper, has left his estate to her. I won’t say more as some of you may not have read it yet.

Here’s my extended quote from The Wood Wife as she prepares breakfast shortly after getting there. 

Maggie woke early, with a wrenching sense of dislocation. She stared at the water-stained ceiling above her and tried to recall just where she was. On a mountainside, in Davis Cooper’s house. The sky outside was a shade of violet that she’d never quite seen before.

She got up, washed, put her bathrobe on and padded into the kitchen. She’d always been an early riser; she felt cheated if she slept too late and missed the rising sun. She cherished the silver morning light, the stillness, the morning rituals: water in the kettle, bitter coffee grounds, a warm mug held between cold hands, the scent of a day unfolding before her, pungent with possibility.

As the water heated, Maggie unpacked the bag of provisions she’d brought along: dark Dutch coffee, bread, muesli, vegetables, garlic, a bottle of wine. In the small refrigerator were eggs, cheese, fresh pasta from Los Angeles, green corn tamales from downtown Tucson. The only strange thing about the unfamiliarity of this kitchen was the knowledge that it was hers now, these pans, these plates, this old dented kettle, this mug decorated with petroglyph paintings. For years she’d been travelling light and making herself at home in other people’s houses. Having an entire house of her own was going to take some getting used to.

She made the coffee, grilled some toast, and sat down at the kitchen table with yesterday’s edition of the Arizona Daily Star, too unsettled to actually read it. Davis’s kitchen was the heart of the house, with a rough wood table in the center that could have easily seated a family of twelve and not just one elderly poet. The kitchen hearth held a woodstove—the winter nights were probably cold up here. Fat wicker rockers were pulled close to it, covered by faded old serapes. The walls were a mottled tea-colored adobe with shades of some brighter tone showing through and wainscotting up to waist-height stained or aged to a woodsy green. The window frames were painted violet, the doors were a rich but weathered shade of blue. Mexican saints in beaten tin frames hung among Davis’s pots and pans; folk art and dusty tin milagros hung among strings of red chili peppers, garlic, and desert herbs. The windowsills were crowded with were crowded with stones, geodes, fossils, clumps of smoky quartz, and Indian pottery shards.

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born January 26, 1918 Philip Jose Farmer.  I know I’ve read at least the first three Riverworld novels (To Your Scattered Bodies GoThe Fabulous Riverboat and The Dark Design which are all stellar) but I’ll be damned if I recognize the latter ones. Great novels those are. And I’ll admit that I’m not familiar at all with the World of Tiers or Dayworld series. Anyone read them? I know, silly question. I do remember his Doc Savage novel Escape from Loki as being a highly entertaining read, and I see he’s done a number of Tarzan novels as well which I admit I’ve not read. Who here has? (Died 2009.)
  • Born January 26, 1923 Anne Jeffreys. Her first role in our end of things was as a young woman on the early Forties film Tarzan’s New York Adventure. She’s Jean Le Danse (note the name) around the same time in the comedy Zombies on Broadway (film geeks here — is this the earliest zombie film?). And no, I’ve not forgotten she had the lead role as Marion Kerby in the Topper series. She also had one-offs in The Man from U.N.C.L.E.Fantasy Island and Battlestar Galactica. (Died 2017.)
  • Born January 26, 1928 Roger Vadim. Director, Barbarbella. That alone gets a Birthday Honor. But he was one of three directors of Spirits of the Dead, a horror anthology film. (Louis Malle and Federico Fellini were the others.) And not to stop there, he directed another horror film, Blood and Roses (Et mourir de plaisir) and even was involved in The Hitchhiker horror anthology series. And Don Juan, or If Don Juan Were a Woman is at least genre adjacent… (Died 2000.)
  • Born January 26, 1929 Jules Feiffer, 94. On the Birthday list as he’s the illustrator of The Phantom Tollbooth. Well, and that he’s also illustrated Eisner’s Spirit which helped get him into the Comic Book Hall of Fame. Let’s not overlook that he wrote The Great Comic Book Heroes in the Sixties which made it the first history of the superheroes of the late Thirties and Forties and their creators. 
  • Born January 26, 1943 Judy-Lynn Del Rey. After first starting at Galaxy Magazine became an editor at Ballantine Books, and eventuallywas given her own imprint, Del Rey Books, Dick and Asimov were two of her clients who considered her the best editor they’d worked with. Wife of Lester del Rey. She suffered a brain hemorrhage in October 1985 and died several months later. Though she was awarded a Hugo Award for Best Professional Editor after her death, her widower turned it down on the grounds that it only been awarded because of her death. (Died 1986.)
  • Born January 26, 1949 Jonathan Carroll, 74. I think his best work by far is The Crane’s View Trilogy consisting of Kissing the Beehive, The Marriage of Sticks and The Wooden Sea. I know de Lint liked these novels though mainstream critics were less than thrilled. White Apples I thought was a well crafted novel and The Crow’s Dinner is his wide ranging look at life in general, not genre at all but fascinating.
  • Born January 26, 1966 Stephen Cox, 57. Pop culture writer who has written a number of books on genre subjects including The Munchkins Remember: The Wizard of Oz and BeyondThe Addams Chronicles: Everything You Ever Wanted to Know about the Addams FamilyDreaming of Jeannie: TV’s Primetime in a Bottle and The Munsters: A Trip Down Mockingbird Lane. I’ll admit to being puzzled by his Cooking in Oz that he did with Elaine Willingham as I didn’t remember that much for food in the Oz book until I started doing the current essays on food in genre literature and discovered there indeed was! 

(12) WHO NOVELS IN 2023. “Doctor Who Target books add 5 new novelisations for 2023” noted RadioTimes.

…Each of the authors for the 2023 Target books are the original screenwriters of the TV episodes so fans can expand their Doctor Who collections with these new, iconic novelisations….

(13) ONLINE ECONOMICS DISTILLED. Cory Doctorow calls it “The ‘Enshittification’ of TikTok” at WIRED.

… This is enshittification: Surpluses are first directed to users; then, once they’re locked in, surpluses go to suppliers; then once they’re locked in, the surplus is handed to shareholders and the platform becomes a useless pile of shit. From mobile app stores to Steam, from Facebook to Twitter, this is the enshittification lifecycle.

This is why—as Cat Valente wrote in her magisterial pre-Christmas essay—platforms like Prodigy transformed themselves overnight, from a place where you went for social connection to a place where you were expected to “stop talking to each other and start buying things.”…

… By making good-faith recommendations of things it thought its users would like, TikTok built a mass audience, larger than many thought possible, given the death grip of its competitors, like YouTube and Instagram. Now that TikTok has the audience, it is consolidating its gains and seeking to lure away the media companies and creators who are still stubbornly attached to YouTube and Insta.

Yesterday, Forbes’s Emily Baker-White broke a fantastic story about how that actually works inside of ByteDance, TikTok’s parent company, citing multiple internal sources, revealing the existence of a “heating tool” that TikTok employees use to push videos from select accounts into millions of viewers’ feeds.

These videos go into TikTok users’ For You feeds, which TikTok misleadingly describes as being populated by videos “ranked by an algorithm that predicts your interests based on your behavior in the app.” In reality, For You is only sometimes composed of videos that TikTok thinks will add value to your experience—the rest of the time, it’s full of videos that TikTok has inserted in order to make creators think that TikTok is a great place to reach an audience….

(14) CRIMINAL CHARGES AGAINST A ‘RICK AND MORTY’ PRODUCER. “Adult Swim Severs Ties With ‘Rick And Morty’ Co-Creator Justin Roiland After Domestic Violence Charges; Voice Roles Will Be Recast”Deadline tells about the case and his fate.

Justin Roiland, co-creator, executive producer and star of Adult Swim’s flagship animated series Rick and Mortyis no longer in business with the Warner Bros Discovery brand on the heel of serious domestic violence allegations against him coming to light earlier this month.

“Adult Swim has ended its association with Justin Roiland,” a spokesperson said in a statement Tuesday.

Following Roiland’s exit, Rick and Morty will continue, with the title roles, which had been voiced by Roiland, recast.

Co-created by Roiland and Dan Harmon, the hit series received a massive 70-episode order in 2018 when Adult Swim also signed new long-term deals with Roiland and Harmon. The show, which has been renewed through Season 10, has completed six seasons, with four more to go as part of the pickup.

Roiland is also co-creator/executive producer and voice cast member of Hulu’s animated series Solar Opposites as well as a performer on the streamer’s animated comedy Koala Man. News on his involvement in those shows would be coming shortly, I hear.

Roiland has been charged with one felony count of domestic battery with corporal injury and one felony count of false imprisonment by menace, violence, fraud and/or deceit by the Orange County District Attorney’s office. The incident in question against a Jane Doe allegedly occurred in January 2020, according to a May 2020 complaint. He pleaded not guilty to the charges in October 2020. The semi-sealed case was kept out of the public until a hearing January 12, 2023. Roiland, who was present, also is required to attend a scheduled April 27 hearing….

(15) COLLABORATIVE MEAL. Kelsea Yu, a Taiwanese Chinese American writer, posts abut food in “Huǒguō” at Sarah Gailey’s Stone Soup.

…It’s loud and chaotic. Everyone talks over one another. Spoons cross, sauces are passed around, broth occasionally splashes out, and at any given time, some people are eating while others are serving food or adding ingredients to the pot.

It’s the kind of meal that requires participation, collaboration, consideration. The kind you can’t have alone, because then it would just be soup. It’s like stone soup, except no one’s reluctant to share.

It’s the kind of meal that helped me learn the value of how we care for each other….

(16) VIDEO OF THE DAY. SYFY released a sneak peek of the first five minutes of its forthcoming series The Ark.

The Ark takes place 100 years into the future when humans must go on missions to colonize other planets. But what would you do if you woke up from cryogenic sleep to your spaceship suffering disaster? Watch the first five minutes of the premiere episode of The Ark. Watch the premiere of The Ark, February 1 at 10/9c on SYFY.

(17) VIDEO OF LAST WEEK. “Kenan Thompson Does an Interview as Science Fiction Writer Pernice Lafonk” on Late Night with Seth Meyers.

Kenan Thompson talks about former Saturday Night Live intern Aubrey Plaza returning to host the show before leaving the set and coming back as his alter ego, science fiction writer Pernice Lafonk.

[Thanks to Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, John A Arkansawyer, John King Tarpinian, Chris Barkley, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Xtifr.]

Pixel Scroll 1/25/23 The Demolished Music Man

(1) CANADA READS SFF. Silvia Moreno-Garcia’s Mexican Gothic is a finalist in the 2023 CBC Canada Reads competition. She told her newsletter readers today:

Canada Reads is a literary battle, with panelists championing five books. Each day, they vote to eliminate one book, until a single title is chosen as the book the whole country should read this year. 

 The champion for my novel is TikTok creator and nursing student Tasnim Geedi, known as groovytas. The debates will take place March 27-30, 2023. They will be hosted by Ali Hassan and will be broadcast on CBC Radio One, CBC TV, CBC Gem and on CBC Books. 

(2) SF RELATED CONTENT ON JEOPARDY! 2023-01-24. [Item by David Goldfarb.] The current Jeopardy! champion is four-time LearnedLeague champion Troy Meyer. On Tuesday’s episode he faced some SF-related clues.

In the first round, one of the categories was “Finding Nimoy”. At the $1000 level:

This remake about a pod people takeover moved the action from a small town to San Francisco, with Leonard as a famous psychologist.

Troy Meyer correctly responded, “What is Invasion of the Body Snatchers?”

At the $400 level:

Nimoy’s plentiful voice-over work included the evil robot Galvatron in the cartoon movie version of this TV show.

Joe Incollingo responded, “What is Transformers?”

At the $200 level:

Nimoy appeared in other TV series with this “Star Trek” co-star, including “The Man From U.N.C.L.E.” and “T.J. Hooker”.

Troy Meyer responded, “Who is William Shatner?”

In the Double Jeopardy round, one of the categories was “Pop Culture Goes to Mars”. This category was actually majority mundane, cluing things like “Veronica Mars” and the rock band “30 Seconds to Mars”, but there were two actual SF clues:

$1200: Jack Nicholson was the President & Glenn Close, the First Lady in this 1996 Tim Burton film.

Troy Meyer responded, “What is Mars Attacks?”

$400: “Mars ain’t the kind of place to raise your kids, in fact it’s cold as hell”, sang Elton John in this hit.

Troy Meyer responded, “What is Rocket Man?”

(3) ROME PLUS MAGIC. At Speculative Fiction Showcase, an “Interview with Cass Morris, author of The Bloodstained Shade, Book 3 of The Aven Cycle”.

… Where Aven differs from the Rome of antiquity is that, in this version of the world, magic has shaped the course of history as much as war, politics, law, and religion. Adding that additional lever of power complicates both interpersonal and geopolitical relationships in ways that I adore playing with.

You co-host the Hugo Award Finalist podcast Worldbuilding for Masochists. Why ‘for masochists’?

It’s a teasing way of referring to those of us with a tendency to go way overboard in our worldbuilding. The “iceberg principle” of worldbuilding says that there’s far more below the surface than makes it onto the page of the finished product. My cohosts and I are people who have really, really big icebergs, and the way we create them can sometimes seem like self-torture….

(4) STRONG Q&A. Karen Strong, editor of the young adult anthology Cool. Awkward. Black, answers questions about books she’s read in “Shelf Awareness for Wednesday, January 25, 2023”.

Handsell readers your book in 25 words or less:

CoolAwkwardBlack. is a multi-genre anthology that centers Black teens who celebrate their nerdy passions of cosplay, manga, STEM, gaming and the arts….

Favorite line from a book:

“In her spare time, she looked to books or the stars for company.” —Gods of Jade and Shadow by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

I read so many books and have many favorite lines but this particular one has stayed with me. I truly believe books and stars can be great company.

(5) MELTS IN YOUR BRAINS, NOT IN YOUR HANDS. “M&M’s Replaces ‘Spokescandies’ With Maya Rudolph”The Takeout has the story.

In news that has arrived suspiciously close to Super Bowl Sunday, M&M’s announced today that the brand’s “beloved spokescandies” would be placed on “indefinite pause” for being ostensibly divisive. The spokescandies will be replaced by comedian Maya Rudolph, who will be tasked with “champion[ing] the power of fun.”…

In the past year, M&M’s changes to the personalities and likenesses of its candy characters have stoked the ire of conservatives, who facilitated a minor uproar against the brand for being too “woke” as it made such minor adjustments as redesigning some M&M’s shoes and removing titles like “Mr.” and “Mrs.” from certain candies.

(6) IN PASSING: MICHAEL DOUGAN. Cartoonist Michael Dougan died recently. Specifics about exactly when are scarce, however, there are two solid tributes.

The Editors of The Comics Journal: “Remembering Michael Dougan”.

… Michael was so well-rounded; he was at times a cartoonist, a newspaperman, a barista, a restauranteur, a tv writer, and a great conversationalist, to name a few. His work is not as well-remembered as it should be, although his best book, I Can’t Tell You Anything, was released by Penguin in 1993 and still holds up as some of the best autobiographical work of its era. Part of Michael’s obscurity is because in 2006 a fire destroyed his house in Seattle, taking all of his art and archives—and in some ways his comics career—with it. He seemed to process what was a cartoonist’s Worst Case Scenario better than most could have, but it also seemed to fuel a desire to move forward rather than look backward. He spent a couple of years in LA writing for television. Whenever I brought up doing a collection of his work, he was interested but ultimately dismissed it as being too much of an “epic undertaking” to find the time for…. 

Robert Boyd: “In memoriam Michael Dougan” at The Great God Pan Is Dead.

I first became aware of Michael Dougan in the mid-80s from his work in Weirdo. The first story of his that I can remember was “Dennis the Sullen Menace”, written by Dennis P. Eicchorn. This issue (no. 19) was edited by Aline Kominsky-Crumb, who took over the editorship of the magazine after Peter Bagge moved on. Bagge had been the editor until issue 17, and his tastes still informed the contents of Weirdo. In addition to Michael Dougan and Dennis P. EicchornWeirdo No, 19 had Mark Zingarelli and Bagge himself. Bagge knew all of the aforementioned cartoonists because they were all Seattle homers. Bagge got a bunch of his fellow Seattlites to contribute. Therefore, when I moved to Seattle in 1989, I got to know those guys, as well as other cartoonists from the region in Bagge’s artistic and social circle….

(7) MEMORY LANE.

1958 [Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

Poul Anderson loved beer. In fact, he was the first writer to imagine a spaceship powered by beer in the Bicycle Built for Brew novel published in Astounding Science Fiction sixty-five years ago.  It’s available from the usual suspects in The Makeshift Rocket.

It wasn’t unusual for his characters to hoist a brew or two as I experienced when listening to some of the Nicholas Van Rijn stories recently. 

So I leave you with a quote from “The Innocent Arrival” which is collected in Karin and Poul Anderson’s The Unicorn Trade (highly recommend and available from the usual suspects as a Meredith Moment): 

“I see. Well, what are you having to drink?”

“Beer,” said Matheny without hesitation.

“Huh? Look, pal, this is on me.”

“The only beer on Mars comes forty million miles, with interplanetary freight charges tacked on,” said Matheny. “Tuborg!”

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born January 25, 1905 Margery Sharp. Her best remembered work is The Rescuers series which concerns a mouse by the name of Miss Bianca. They were later adapted in two Disney animated films, The Rescuers and The Rescuers Down Under. I’m reasonably sure I’ve seen the first one a very long time ago. Her genre novel, The Stone of Chastity, is according to her website, based on English folklore. Other than the first volume of The Rescuer series, she’s not really available digitally though she is mostly in print in the dead tree format. (Died 1991.)
  • Born January 25, 1918 King Donovan. His first SF films has him as Dr. Dan Forbes in the 1953 The Magnetic Monster and as Dr. Ingersoll In The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms. The very next year, he plays James O’Herli in Riders to the Stars. And now we get to the film that you know him from — Invasion of the Body Snatchers in which he plays Jack Belicec. After that, I show him only in Nothing Lasts Forever which has never been released here in the States. (Died 1987.)
  • Born January 25, 1920 Bruce Cassiday.Under two different pen names, Con Steffanson and Carson Bingham , he wrote three Flash Gordon novels (The Trap of Ming XIIThe Witch Queen of Mongo and The War of the Cybernauts) and he also wrote several pieces of non-fiction worth noting, The Illustrated History of Science Fiction, co-written with Dieter Wuckel, and Modern Mystery, Fantasy and Science Fiction Writers. The latter done in ‘93 is rather out of date and out of print as well. Checking the usual suspects shows nothing’s available by him for this genre though some of his pulp novels are available with appropriately lurid covers such as The Corpse in the Picture Window. (Died 2005.)
  • Born January 25, 1943 Tobe Hooper. Director of such genre films as The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (the original of course), Poltergeist (damn scary film) Invaders from Mars and Djinn, his final film. He directed a smattering of television episodes including the “Miss Stardust” of Amazing Stories, “No More Mr. Nice Guy” of Freddy’s Nightmares, “Dead Wait” of Tales from the Crypt and the entire Salem’s Lot miniseries. He also wrote a horror novel with Alan Goldsher,  Midnight Movie: A Novel, that has himself in it at a speaking engagement. (Died 2017.)
  • Born January 25, 1958 Peter Watts, 65. Author of the most excellent Firefall series which I read and enjoyed immensely. I’ve not read the Rifters trilogy so would welcome opinions on it. And his Sunflower-linked short stories sound intriguing. He won a Hugo for Best Novelette at Aussiecon 4 for “The Island”.
  • Born January 25, 1973 Geoff Johns, 50. Where to begin? Though he’s done some work outside of DC, he is intrinsically linked to that company having working for them for twenty years. My favorite work by him is on Batman: Gotham KnightsJustice League of America #1–7 (2013) and 52 which I grant which was way overly ambitious but really fun. Oh, and I’d be remiss not to note his decade long run on the Green Lantern books. He’s the writer and producer on the most excellent Stargirl that streamed on HBO Max. Johns is producing the Green Lantern series that will stream on HBO Max.
  • Born January 25, 1975 Mia Kirshner, 48. She was Amanda Grayson in Star Trek: Discovery. Her first genre was in the really not great The Crow: City of Angels as Sarah Mohr. (I editorialize, it is what I do. It’s like cats playing with string.) She had another run as Isobel Flemming in The Vampire Diaries and one-offs in The War of The WorldsDracula: The SeriesAre You Afraid of the Dark? and Wolf Lake. She had a plum role in Defiance as Kenya Rosewater. 

(9) COMICS SECTION.

  • Blondie copes with cats’ wedding ideas.

(10) INSTANT RED PLANET LIBRARY. Manhattan Rare Books has an online preview of the specialty collection it is offering for $975,000: “Mars and the Imagination: A Record of Our Relationship with the Red Planet”.

Background

Mars and the Imagination was conceived and assembled by the experienced collector David Wenner – whose comprehensive collection on the history of physics now resides at the Niels Bohr Library of the American Institute of Physics – and represents much more than a “collection” of works. Through his years of research and study, Wenner was able to unearth important and previously unrecognized literary and historical texts, making new connections among them. Contextualized in such a way, the items in Mars and the Imagination collectively tell an illuminating story through primary sources that to our knowledge has not been previously attempted. It is the story of our fascination with the Red Planet, a story of our wonder about something that is just out of reach, a story that has revealed as much about us as it has about Mars.

Fiction and Non-Fiction

For hundreds of years, Mars has been observed by scientists, but lurked tantalizingly on the edge of our ability to truly understand the nature of the planet. It thus became a perfect template for speculation: What are the conditions on Mars? Is it hospitable to life? Are there, or have there ever been, living beings on Mars and if so, are they like us? Superior to us? Threatening to us? Will we ever be able to visit Mars?

The approaches to answering these questions have been varied, with both scientific inquiry and imaginative fiction in a continual dialogue of influence on each other. Mars and the Imagination, therefore includes texts by such scientific giants such as Kepler, Huygens, Hooke, and Cassini, but also fiction by literary masters such as Swift, Wells, Asimov, Bradbury, and Clarke.

(11) A KLINGON SCREWDRIVER. Or more like a Swiss Army knife, except these aliens aren’t neutrals: “Star Trek Klingon Bat’leth 6-In-1 Multitool Kit”.

Tools Of Honor: No Klingon ever breaks his word. Shaped like the traditional Klingon Bat’leth weapon, this 6-in-1 multitool will help you tackle a variety of daily tasks. Perfect for when you’re exploring the universe, hiking, or camping.

(12) NOT ICE NINE. BBC News covers how the “Webb telescope hunts life’s icy chemical origins”.

The new super space telescope James Webb has ventured into the freezer.

It’s been probing some of the darkest, coldest regions in space for clues about the chemistry that goes into making planets, and perhaps even life.

This newly released image shows a segment of the Chameleon I molecular cloud, some 630 light years from Earth.

It’s here, at temperatures down to about -260C, that Webb is detecting types of ice grains not previously observed….

[Thanks to Andrew Porter, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, David Goldfarb, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Mike Kennedy, John King Tarpinian, and Chris Barkley for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]

Pixel Scroll 1/24/23 Reverse The Scrollarity Of The Pixel Flow

(1) CHICON 8 SHARES FEEDBACK. Chicon 8 chair Helen Montgomery today published the latest of her “Messages from the Chair” dealing with some postcon housekeeping, and with a long passage apologizing for or explaining some decisions that were made. Here are two of the most significant items.

Credit for Hugo Awards Finalists (Translators and Colorists)

S. Qiouyi Lu brought to our attention the exclusion of translators’ names from the written works in the “long listed” works in the detailed results for the 2022 Hugo Awards, explaining the importance of proper credit for translators in a Twitter thread here: https://twitter.com/sqiouyilu/status/1566762259187060736. We have posted a corrected set of detailed results at https://chicon.org/home/whats-happening/hugo-awards/, in which we have included the translators for the written works and colorists for the graphic novels. 

As part of the administration of the Hugo Awards, we endeavor to list all relevant creators on the final ballot presented to voters, and this includes confirming the correct ballot citations with Finalists themselves. The long list in the detailed results released after the Hugo Award ceremony is a different matter: it is required by the WSFS Constitution primarily for transparency into our processes, and has the side benefit of pointing folks to works that garnered significant community interest so they can go seek them out on their own. As noted in the detailed results, we do not vet the long list for eligibility and because the primary function of the long list is transparency into the process (which requires a table that is easy to parse), we do not list out full citations with all associated names, publishers, etc. We truncate references to all the works on the long list, listing authors for the written works, author/artist for the graphic stories, and no names at all for the Best Dramatic Presentations and magazines. 

Taking into account feedback from S. Qiouyi Lu and other members of the community, we have come to understand that the work of translators of written works is as fundamental to the work as the authors, and that where one is listed, both should be. We have made corrections to the translated long list works in the 2022 detailed results accordingly. For similar reasons, we are also adding the colorists and cover artists, where they are cited, to the graphic novel listings in the 2022 long list works. 

Thank you to S. Qiouyi Lu and everyone else in the community who has worked with us on this issue.

Hugo Awards Ceremony

We would like to discuss two incidents that occurred during the Hugo Awards Ceremony.

First, we would like to apologize to Marguerite Kenner, Finalist in the Best Fanzine category for The Full Lid, whose name was not read aloud during the ceremony. This was simply a mis-read by our ceremony hosts, who did immediately reach out personally to Ms. Kenner after the ceremony to apologize as well.

Second, there were concerns raised online during the Best Semiprozine category presentation when the audience laughed at the discrepancy between the slide listing the names of the Strange Horizons team and what was said aloud. While we spoke with all Finalists and agreed upon the language to be used on the slides and in the presentation, we acknowledge that we did not properly explain to the audience the context and conversation around not reading out the names of everyone on the Strange Horizons team. We also did not properly support our hosts by putting them in this situation. We will be speaking to future Worldcons to pass on our advice and experience in the hope to avoid similar situations in the future. 

Other items include: an apology for the original name given to the “Future Worldcon Q&A Session” (“The Fannish Inquisition”), correction of errors in Hugo Awards list in the printed Souvenir Book (names misspelled, Astounding Award 2022 winner name listed); omissions of some credits for  the Hugo Awards Ceremony and Opening Ceremony; follow-up with the Airmeet team; Art Show feedback; complaints about badge lanyards; and reasons for having an electronic-only Pocket Program Guide.

(2) FIFTH SEASON RPG CROWDFUNDING. [Item by Eric Franklin.] Green Ronin has launched a Backerkit campaign for the Fifth Season RPG, using their tried-and-tested AGE system (which was also used in the Expanse RPG). “The Fifth Season Roleplaying Game”.

…You and your fellow players take the roles of members of such a community, working to overcome internal difficulties and external threats, in order to be ready when that inevitable Fifth Season comes. Are you a lifelong native of this place, someone everyone has recognized from childhood? Maybe you’re a more recent addition to the comm, someone who’s come from a distance, contributing something to the comm that makes the possibility of your secrets and past catching up to you worth it. Or perhaps you are an orogene, one who was born to sess the movements of the tectonic plates, gifted with a forbidden power to still the shaking earth and bleed heat in your environs away until frost coats everything in a perfect circle around you….

To let you know how it’s all going to work they’ve created “The Fifth Season Roleplaying Quickstart”, a free 45-page download at the link.

If you’re wondering what The Fifth Season RPG is like, you can find out right now. We’ve got a free PDF Quickstart that has an introduction to the Stillness, basic rules to play, pre-generated characters, and a complete adventure. Reading it, or better yet playing it, will give the best introduction to what The Fifth Season RPG is all about…

(3) WHERE ARE THE WATCHMEN? “Doomsday Clock moves to 90 seconds to midnight, signaling more peril than ever” reports NPR.

The world is closer to catastrophe than ever: the Doomsday Clock, the metaphorical measure of challenges to humanity, was reset to 90 seconds before midnight on Tuesday.

The science and security board of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists said the move — the closest to widespread calamity humanity has ever been judged to be — was “largely, though not exclusively” due to the war in Ukraine.

The scientific body evaluates the clock each January. This is the first full update since Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine began last February, triggering a war in Europe and a new flood of refugees….

(4) LIVE FROM DEVELOPMENT HELL. Eva Green was cast for A Patriot, a science fiction movie about “a Border Corps captain in an authoritarian futuristic state”, a movie that’s not getting made while she and the producers are suing each other: “‘Evil’, ‘peasants’ and ‘vomit’ – Eva Green’s WhatsApp messages exude star quality” in the Guardian.

A lot of Eva Green’s success is down to her sense of unknowable mystique. This is a woman who steers clear of the celebrity circuit, who isn’t given to blurting her every waking thought on social media. Interviewers perennially struggle to get to her core. Since her breakthrough in Bertolucci’s The Dreamers almost two decades ago, Green has preferred to let her work speak on behalf of her. She is an enigma, an image on a screen upon which we can project our own feelings.

Or at least she was, because loads of Eva Green’s WhatsApp messages have been read out in court, and hoo boy!

Let’s deal with the court case briefly. In 2019, Green signed up for A Patriot, a science fiction movie that would also star Charles Dance and Helen Hunt. The film – about a Border Corps captain in an authoritarian futuristic state – was never made. When the production hit the skids, Green sued producers for her £830,000 fee (almost a quarter of the film’s total budget). And this caused the producers to countersue, claiming that the reason the film was never made was because Eva Green tried to sabotage it. She argues that she did everything that she could to fulfil the terms of her contract and denies “in its entirety” the allegation that she did not want the project to succeed….

(5) ROOM FOR DOUBT. Call Lincoln Michel a skeptic: “Maybe the Book Doesn’t Need to Be ‘Disrupted’ in the First Place?” at Counter Craft.

…In the intervening years, I’ve seen countless versions of enhanced books hyped. Last year, there were articles about how “web 3” and crypto would completely change publishing by [something something string of jargon] block chain! All the magazines publishing daily articles on Web 3 and NFTs have stopped talking about them, seemingly in embarrassment as the crypto space has been exposed as a series of Ponzi schemes. (The crypto crowd is too busy focusing on “disrupting” the legal system to keep themselves out of jail to innovate the novel, I guess.) So naturally everyone who, last year, was declaring crypto would revolutionize every aspect of life have pivoted to saying “A.I.” will revolutionize every aspect of life. And, like the tweet above, that means lots of predictions about how the book will be disrupted. (Commenters to the above tweet also suggested putting books in the “metaverse” so you can “live” books instead of read them, whatever that means…)

I’m on the record as a bit of an “A.I” skeptic. And I’m putting A.I. in scare quotes because a computer program that spits out text it doesn’t understand is not an “intelligence” really. (Renaming “software” as “A.I.” was a very clever marketing coup. People freak out when they hear an “A.I.” did something like win a spelling bee even though no one would be terribly impressed to hear a computer program with a built-in dictionary did that.) …

(6) LIKE A VIRGIN. Leonard Maltin is ecstatic about “My First-Ever Oscar Vote”.

I’ve been watching the Oscars since I was a kid, and writing about them for decades, but this year I did something I never dreamt of during all that time: I cast a vote.

Last year, I was admitted to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, in the At-Large category. (There is no branch representing authors, critics, or preservationists.) As awards season began it dawned on me that I was actually going to participate in this year’s Oscars.

My invitation to vote came about two weeks ago, with a deadline of January 17. As I continued to catch up with foreign-language films, indies, and documentaries I put off voting until Monday, one full day before deadline. The deed didn’t take long, as I was only qualified to cast one vote: for Best Picture.

In the first stage of the awards process, members of the Academy’s branches determine the nominees in each specialized category. Only writers nominate writers, only makeup artists nominate makeup artists, and so on….

(7) FIVE TOP CATS. [Item by Nina Shepardson.] Tor.com has an article about cats in fantasy. Given that File770 has a feature called “Cats Sleep on SFF”, I figured Filers might be interested…. “Admiring Five of Fantasy’s Best Cats” by Cole Rush.

I’ve always thought cats are the perfect companion for the bookish. You never have to put down your book to take a cat for a walk. Instead, our feline friends will curl up on our laps while we dive into our latest fantasy obsessions, as though they’re tiny, fuzzy dragons lounging atop their hoard.

While I have nothing but love and respect for dogs—whether they’re real-life canines or fictional good boys—I feel a special kind of appreciation when a fantasy story contains a cat. Below, I’ll list five of my favorite fantasy felines and briefly discuss whether they’d make good real-world pets….

(8) MEMORY LANE.

2004 [Compiled by Cat Eldridge.] Medicine Road by Charles de Lint

Ok, I’ll admit, it is not about food, but it’s a bar which is sort of related to food, isn’t it? Ok I’m stretching things this time. I’ll admit though The Hole does have food and de Lint (with permission of course) borrowed it from Terri Windling’s The Wood Wife.

The quote this time is from Charles de Lint’s Medicine Road which involves the grown up versions of the Dillard Sisters who we last encountered in his children’s book, A Circle of Cats. Here they are folk singers touring the Southwest when they encounter the more mythic aspects of that region. 

Medicine Road was one of a series of shorter novels by de Lint that were  illustrated by Charles Vess which published by Subterranean Press. Seven Wild Sisters, in which we first met Bess and Laurel, who are another of his sister characters.  Both are lovely books as objects and damn fine reads as well. 

Here’s my chosen quote. 

We’d just finished playing our first set at the Hole, in Tucson, Arizona, and were getting ready to take our break. The place was properly called the Hole in the Wall, but when we asked directions to the Barrio Historica at the front desk of our hotel, the guy with the purple hair told us everyone just calls it the Hole. He also told us that it’s a pretty much a dive, but he should see the roadhouses back home in the Kickaha Mountains. This old adobe building, right on the edge of the barrio, is like a palace compared to some of the places we’ve played in Tyson County.

And it’s trés cool, as Frenchy’d say.

You come in off the street into a warren of rooms with saguaro rib ceilings, thick adobe walls, beautifully carved oak doors, and weathered wood plank floors. It smells of mesquite and beer, cigarette smoke and salsa. The band posters on the walls advertise everything from Tex-Mex and Cajun to bluegrass, reggae and plain old rock ‘n’ roll.

But the best part is that once you’ve threaded your way through the maze of little inner rooms you come out into a central courtyard, open to the sky. Clematis vines crawl up the walls. Mismatched tables are scattered across a cracked tile floor. And there, under the spreading branches of a mesquite tree, is the stage where we’ve been playing.

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born January 24, 1911 C. L. Moore. Author and wife of Henry Kuttner until his death in 1958. Their collaboration resulted in such delightful works as “Mimsy Were the Borogoves” and “Vintage Season”, both of which were turned into films which weren’t as good as the stories. She had a strong writing career prior to her marriage as well with such fiction as “Shambleau” which involves her most famous character Northwest Smith. I’d also single out “Nymph of Darkness” which she wrote with Forrest J Ackerman. I’ll not overlook her Jirel of Joiry, one of the first female sword and sorcery characters, and the “Black God’s Kiss” story is the first tale she wrote of her adventures. She retired from writing genre fiction after Kuttner died, writing only scripts for writing episodes of SugarfootMaverickThe Alaskans and 77 Sunset Strip, in the late Fifties and early Sixties. Checking the usual suspects, Deversion Books offers a nearly eleven-hundred page collection of their fiction for a mere three bucks. (Died 1987.)
  • Born January 24, 1917 Ernest Borgnine. I think his first genre role was Al Martin in Willard but if y’all know of something earlier I’m sure you’ll tell me. He’s Harry Booth in The Black Hole, a film whose charms still escape me entirely. Next up for him is the cabbie in the superb Escape from New York. In the same year, he was nominated for a Razzie Award for Worst Supporting Actor as Isaiah Schmidt in the horror film Deadly Blessing. A few years late, he’s The Lion in a version of Alice in WonderlandMerlin’s Shop of Mystical Wonders is horror and his Grandfather isn’t that kindly. He voices Kip Killigan in Small Soldiers which I liked, and I think his last role was voicing Command in Enemy Mind. Series wise let’s see…  it’s possible that his first SF role was as Nargola on Captain Video and His Video Rangers way back in 1951. After that he shows up in, and I’ll just list the series for the sake of brevity, Get SmartFuture CopThe Ghost of Flight 401Airwolf where of course he’s regular cast, Treasure Island in Outer Space and Touched by an Angel. (Died 2012.)
  • Born January 24, 1937 Julie Gregg. A performer that showed up in a lot of SFF series though never in a primary role. She was in Batman: The Movie as a Nightclub Singer (uncredited) in her first genre role, followed by three appearances on the series itself, two as the Finella character; one-offs on I Dream of GenieBewitchedThe Flying NunMission: ImpossibleKolchak: The Night Stalker and Incredible Hulk followed. Her only lead role was as Maggie Spencer in Mobile One which can’t even be stretched to be considered genre adjacent. (Died 2016.)
  • Born January 24, 1941 Gary K. Wolf, 82. He is best known as the author of Who Censored Roger Rabbit? which was adapted into Who Framed Roger Rabbit. It bears very little resemblance to the film. Who P-P-P-Plugged Roger Rabbit? which was written later hews much closer to the characters and realties of the film. He has written a number of other novels such as Amityville House of Pancakes Vol 3 which I suggest you avoid at all costs. Yes they are that awful. 
  • Born January 24, 1944 David Gerrold, 79. Let’s see… He of course scripted the Hugo nominated “The Trouble With Tribbles” which I absolutely love, wrote the amazing patch-up novel When HARLIE Was One, has his ongoing War Against the Chtorr series and wrote, with Robert J. Sawyer, Boarding the Enterprise: Transporters, Tribbles, and the Vulcan Death Grip in Gene Roddenberry’s Star Trek. Besides his work as a novel writer, he’s been a screenwriter for Star Trek, Star Trek: The Animated Series, Land of the Lost, Logan’s Run (the series), Superboy, Babylon 5, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Sliders, Star Trek New Voyages: Phase II, and Axanar. Very, very impressive.
  • Born January 24, 1949 John Belushi. No, he was not in a single SFF series or film that I can mention here though he did voice work on one such undertaking early in his career that I’ll not mention here as it’s clearly pornographic in nature. No, he’s here for his brilliant parody of Shatner as Captain Kirk which he did on Saturday Night Live which you can watch here. (Died 1982.)
  • Born January 24, 1984 Remi Ryan, 39. You most likely remember as her as ever-so-cute hacker urchin in RoboCop 3 who saves the day at the end of that film. She actually had her start in acting in Beauty and the Beast at four and was in The Flash a year later. At twelve, she’s in Mann & Machine. A year later is when she’s that urchin. Her last genre undertaking was in The Lost Room a decade ago and she retired from acting not long after.

(10) COMICS SECTION.

  • From Tom Gauld.

(11) JUST A SECOND. “Guns and Nonsense: Part 2” is today’s installment of Camestros Felapton’s analysis of Larry Correia’s newly released nonfiction book In Defense of the 2nd Amendment.

… It is reasonable to say that Larry Correia uses biting sarcasm, opinions differ on whether his wit is incisive and I’ve always found that what logic he uses is supremely vincible. Maybe that’s me. However, [Nick] Searcy [author of the Foreword] does focus on the central quality of Correia’s approach to examining topics of the day: mockery. Michael Moore is a large man and hence somebody who can be mocked and once mocked his opinions can be dismissed. In reality, Moore is far from infallible and his documentaries are far from flawless but engaging with them takes effort and it is so much easier to make a quick dig about over-eating and be done.

Mockery is a recurring rhetorical device in Correia’s style of argumentation and it is what his readership enjoys. He does attempt some arguments of substance but the overall thrust of his approach is not to show that an opinion is incorrect but that it is an opinion that can be mocked or dismissed. To this extent, Searcy is accurately getting to the guts of this book. The point is not to show gun control adherents as wrong but as foolish and contemptible….

(12) I SING THE LYRIC ELECTRIC. Rich Lynch took ChatGPT for a “test drive” and sent File 770 a screencap of the results.

(13) DOWNLOAD THE BIG BUCKS. Meanwhile, Microsoft has moved from the test drive stage to the heavy investor stage. “Microsoft to Invest $10 Billion in OpenAI, the Creator of ChatGPT” reports the New York Times.

Microsoft said on Monday that it was making a “multiyear, multibillion-dollar” investment in OpenAI, the San Francisco artificial intelligence lab behind the experimental online chatbot ChatGPT.

The companies did not disclose the specific financial terms of the deal, but a person familiar with the matter said Microsoft would invest $10 billion in OpenAI.

Microsoft had already invested more than $3 billion in OpenAI, and the new deal is a clear indication of the importance of OpenAI’s technology to the future of Microsoft and its competition with other big tech companies like Google, Meta and Apple.

With Microsoft’s deep pockets and OpenAI’s cutting-edge artificial intelligence, the companies hope to remain at the forefront of generative artificial intelligence — technologies that can generate text, images and other media in response to short prompts. After its surprise release at the end of November, ChatGPT — a chatbot that answers questions in clear, well-punctuated prose — became the symbol of a new and more powerful wave of A.I….

(14) DRONES SHOT DOWN? “Amazon drone unit hit with layoffs as long-awaited program launches”CNBC has the story.

In 2013, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos appeared on CBS’ “60 Minutes” to reveal a futuristic plan his company had been secretly pursuing to deliver packages by drone in 30 minutes. 

A pre-recorded demo showed an Amazon-branded “octocopter” carrying a small package off a conveyor belt and into the skies to a customer’s home, landing smoothly in the backyard, dropping off the item and then whizzing away. Bezos predicted a fleet of Amazon drones could take to the skies within five years and said, “it’s going to be a lot of fun.”

A decade later, Amazon is finally starting to launch drone deliveries in two small markets through a program called Prime Air. But just as it’s finally getting off the ground, the drone program is running squarely into a sputtering economy and CEO Andy Jassy’s widespread cost-cutting efforts.

CNBC has learned that, as part of Amazon’s plan to slash 18,000 jobs, its biggest headcount reduction in history, Prime Air is losing a significant number of employees…. 

(15) GOOD DEED FOR THE DAY. Ready to move on from fandom? This sounds like a great substitute. “A ‘Big Night’ for Newts, and for a California Newt Brigade” in the New York Times.

…What the newts need now is a safe way to get to their rendezvous points. In many places, busy roads lie between newts and their breeding grounds. In Petaluma and other parts of the San Francisco Bay Area, thousands of newts are killed by cars each year as they try to cross these roads. The carnage in Petaluma is so severe that a group of local residents has taken it upon themselves to stop it.

For the past four years, volunteers have spent their winter nights shepherding newts across a one-mile stretch of Chileno Valley Road, a winding country road in the hills of Petaluma. They call themselves the Chileno Valley Newt Brigade, and their founder, Sally Gale, says they will keep showing up until the newts no longer need them.

On a warm, wet evening in early December, Ms. Gale and her fellow brigaders gathered to do what they do best: save newts. Wearing reflective vests and armed with flashlights and buckets, Ms. Gale and her brigaders split up into groups and began scouring Chileno Valley Road. The conditions were perfect for newts. It had just rained and the temperature was a brisk 55 degrees.

“That’s their sweet spot,” Ms. Gale said.

…On busy nights, as many as 24 volunteers gather on the road to spend their evening shepherding newts to safety.

“It’s such a huge cross-section of people, and we haven’t met a bad one yet,” said Katie Brammer, a graphic designer and newt brigade captain. Among her fellow volunteers are schoolteachers, students, naturalists, business owners and retirees.

Ms. Brammer and her husband, Rick Stubblefield, have been newt brigade captains for just over a year. They say it’s the charisma of the newts that got them hooked on helping.

“California newts are quite endearing,” Ms. Brammer said. “They hold onto your hand as you’re carrying them across the road.”…

(16) VIDEO OF THE DAY. This has been out for awhile, however, it may not have been linked here before. “Marvel Studios’ Ant-Man and The Wasp: Quantumania”. To be released February 17.

[Thanks to Chris Barkley, Andrew Porter, Michael Toman, Nina Shepardson, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Amdrew (not Werdna).]

Pixel Scroll 1/23/23 You Can Make The Scene On The Mezzanine, But Don’t Scroll In The Pixels

Android Jones. Photo by Greg Preston. From Jones’ appearance at Spectrum Fantastic Art Live! in 2012.

(1) HELP ARTIST RECOVER FROM STUDIO FIRE. [Item by Arnie Fenner.] Artist Andrew “Android” Jones’ studio burned down on January 18. I posted a little about it on Muddy Colors, “Android Jones Fundraiser”, and you can see some photos of his studio (before and after) in his GoFundMe page.

Several days ago a distinguished member of our art family experienced every artists’ nightmare: Andrew “Android” Jones’ studio burnt to the ground in a devastating fire. The studio, built by Andrew’s father, was separate from his home and contained all of his computers, back-up files, printers, sketchbooks, business records, traditional paintings and drawings, and his library. Thankfully Andrew and his family are safe, but everything in the studio was lost.

As one of the world’s most innovative artists—someone who was a leader of the “immersive experience” so popular today with his projections on the Empire State Building, the Sydney Opera House and at Burning Man, someone whose innovations with Painter and Photoshop pushed the boundaries and possibilities of digital art—Android’s loss is a loss for us all.

GoFundMe: “Fundraiser by Andrew Jones : Android Jones Studio Fire”.

Here’s a bit from his bio:

Best described as a “digital painter,” Jones has created an immense body of work. He has become well known for his many layered, psychedelic works and live performances using a custom built digital set up. He participated in the Grateful Dead Fare Thee Well Tour and his work has been projected on the Sydney Opera House and the Empire State Building. A long time member of the Burning Man community, Android has traveled the world exhibiting his work and has contributed to events on 6 continents.

Andrew’s art appeared on the cover of Spectrum #14 and was featured in a show at the Smithsonian: “Android Jones” at Smithsonian American Art Museum.

(2) COZY. [Item by Cora Buhlert.] My Semiprozine Spotlight project never really took off the way the other spotlights did, but I just posted another one today, featuring Wyngraf Magazine of Cozy Fantasy.

Tell us about your magazine.

Wyngraf is a magazine of cozy fantasy short fiction—as far as I know, the first of its kind. Cozy fantasy focuses on low-stakes stories, often with themes of home and community. They can be simple slice-of-life tales or feature some conflict, but they’re never about toppling kingdoms or preventing the world from ending and they’re rarely solved with violence. They’re often set at home, though when they go off wandering we call that “backpack fantasy” and still count it. Our stories always give readers worlds they’d love to live in and endings that leave them feeling warm and, well, cozy!

(3) EARLY HORROR AFICIANADO. Bobby Derie has dug up an 18th century piece of horror criticism: “’On the Pleasure derived from Objects of Terror; with Sir Bertrand, a Fragment’ (1773) by Anna Laetitia Aikin & John Aikin” – Deep Cuts in a Lovecraftian Vein at Deep Cuts in a Lovecraftian Vein.

Anna Laetitia Aikin was born in 1743; her father was a Presbyterian minister and the headmaster of a boy’s school, and both Anna and her brother John Aikin received solid educations, which led to their careers in letters—Anna being noted for working in multiple genres, and earned a reputation as a poet and author. One of her earliest publications was Miscellaneous Pieces in Prose (1773), published jointly with her brother. Among the contents of this volume is “On the Pleasure derived from Objects of Terror; with Sir Bertrand, a Fragment.”

The essay is one of the early English works on the subject of the horror story, and much of it is as insightful today as it was two and a half centuries ago…

(4) JMS ON B5. J. Michael Straczynski has released another Babylon 5 episode commentary track on YouTube: “Babylon 5: Severed Dreams”

A new sync-up commentary sponsored by my Patrons (if you’d like to lend your support you can do so the Patreon page noted above) for Severed Dreams, the third episode of the Messages from Earth trilogy. Best listened to by playing this on your iphone or tablet while the episode unspools on the TV in front of you.

(5) LOCUS GETS GRANT. “CLMP Names US Literary Publishers’ ‘Capacity-Building’ Grants” reports Publishing Perspectives. Locus Magazine is one of the grant recipients.

CLMP, the nonprofit Community of Literary Magazines and Presses in the United States, has announced extensive funding to 43 independent nonprofit literary magazines and presses. Each of these grantees has been chosen to receive two-year “capacity-building” grants of US$2,500 to $25,000 per year, meaning that each company listed will get, in total, between $5,000 and $50,000….

(6) MEMORY LANE.

1991 [Compiled by Cat Eldridge.] Emma Bull’s Bone Dance

There’s a nice riff on gardening, on growing food, in Emma Bull’s Bone Dance when Sparrow is in a community outside the city. 

I used to read, when I could still read novels, this Hugo-nominated work at least every few years as it’s one of my favorite novels. It’s got great characters, especially the gender ambiguous Sparrow, a fascinating setting that’s based according to her on our Minneapolis and an absolutely stellar story. 

I do have a signed copy of it as I do Finder and two copies of War for The Oaks, one just after her unfortunate accident and one much later one. And yes, she is on the chocolate gifting list. Surely you aren’t at all surprised by that. 

Here’s the quote. 

As my endurance came back, and my flexibility, I began to walk instead of sit. Outside the second ring of houses (my estimate had been low; there were thirty-nine), I found barns and sheds and stables and workshops. Beyond those were pastureland and cultivated fields. Grain did its foot-rooted wind dance there; corn thrashed its jungle leaves; beans waggled long green or purple or yellow fingers; summer squash ripened furiously in a pinwheel of tropical-looking vegetation. Here, too, there were always people, cultivating, hoeing weeds, spreading things, raking things, trimming, harvesting. It all seemed as ritual as a pre-Bang Catholic mass, and as intelligible to outsiders.

Work 

One morning, when I’d gone farther than I had before and was feeling the effects, I sat down in the shade of a tree next to a field. Five people were hoeing up and down the rows of something I didn’t recognize. One of them reached the end of the row nearest me, looked up, smiled, and came over.

“Hi,” she said, dropping down onto the grass. “Sparrow, isn’t it? I’m Kris.” She pulled her straw hat off to reveal a brush of hair the color of the hat. She tugged a bandanna out of her pocket and wiped her face with it; then she unclipped a flask from her belt and poured some of the contents over the bandanna. She draped that over her head like a veil and jammed the hat back on. “Funny-looking,” she said with a grin, when she saw me watching the process. “But it does the trick. The evaporating water keeps your head cool.”

“Looks like hard work,” I said, nodding back out into the sun.

“Goddess, it is. Especially this part of the year. Harvesting isn’t any easier, but it’s more fun, and you have something to show for it right away. Every year about now I start wishing it was winter.”

This was a reasonable line of conversation, not too personal. “What is that out there?”

“Sugar beets. We voted to do ’em this year instead of tobacco, thank Goddess. Don’t get me wrong—I love to smoke. But I’ll pay for my tobacco and be glad to. It’s a good cash crop, but the hand labor is murder, and no matter how careful we are, we always have trouble with the tomatoes when we grow it. Turns out we’ll make as much on the beets, anyway, so I can afford to buy my smokes.”

(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born January 23, 1923 Walter M. Miller Jr. He’s best remembered for A Canticle for Leibowitz, the only novel he published in his lifetime. Terry Bisson would finish off the completed draft that he left of Saint Leibowitz and the Wild Horse Woman, a sequel of sorts to the first novel. He did a fair amount of short fiction as well. He’s poorly represented both from the usual suspects and in the dead tree sense as well beyond A Canticle for Leibowitz. (Died 1996.)
  • Born January 23, 1933 Emily Banks, 90. She played Yeoman Tonia Barrows in the absolutely splendid “Shore Leave”.  Though her acting career was brief, ending twenty years later, she shows up on Mr. Terrific, a series I’ve never heard of, Fantasy IslandThe Wild Wild WestBewitched, the original Knight Rider, Highway to Heaven and Air Wolf.
  • Born January 23, 1939 Greg and Tim Hildebrandt. Greg is aged 84, but Tim passed seventeen years ago. I’d say best known for their very popular and ubiquitous Lord of the Rings calendar illustrations, also for illustrating comics for Marvel Comics and DC Comics. They also did a lot of genre covers so I went to ISFDB and checked to see if I recognized any. I certainly did. There was Zelazny’s cover of My Name is Legion, Tolkien’s Smith of Wooton Major and Farmer Giles of Ham and Poul Anderson’s A Knight of Ghosts and Shadows. Nice. (Tim Hildebrandt died 2006.)
  • Born January 23, 1943 Gil Gerard, 80. Captain William “Buck” Rogers in Buck Rogers in the 25th Century which I fondly remember as a really truly great SF series even if it really wasn’t that great. He also shows up in the very short lived E.A.R.T.H. Force as Dr. John Harding, and he’s General Morgenstern in Reptisaurus, a movie title that proves someone had a serious lack of imagination that day. In Bone Eater, a monster film that Bruce Boxleitner also shows up in as Sheriff Steve Evans, he plays Big Jim Burns, the Big Bad. Lastly, I’d like to note that he got to play Admiral Sheehan in the “Kitumba” episode of fan created Star Trek: New Voyages.
  • Born January 23, 1944 Rutger Hauer. Roy Batty In Blade Runner of course but did you know he was Lothos In Buffy the Vampire Slayer? That I’d forgotten. He’s also William Earle in Batman Begins, Count Dracula himself in Dracula III: Legacy, Captain Etienne Navarre in Ladyhawke, the vey evil John Ryder in The Hitcher, Abraham Van Helsing in Dracula 3D, King Zakour in, and no I didn’t know they’d done this film, The Scorpion King 4: Quest for Power and finally let’s note his involvement in Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets as President of the World State Federation. (Died 2019.)
  • Born January 23, 1950 Richard Dean Anderson, 73. Yes I am counting MacGyver as genre you can say it is open to debate if you want. His main and rather enduring SF role was as Jack O’Neill in the many Stargate small universe series. Well Stargate SG-1 really as he only briefly showed up on Stargate Universe and Stargate Atlantis whereas he did one hundred and seventy-three episodes of SG-1. Wow. Now his only other SF role lasted, err, twelve episodes in which he played Enerst Pratt alias Nicodemus Legend in the most excellent Legend co-starring John de Lancie. Yeah, I really liked it. Too bad it got cancelled so fast. 
  • Born January 23, 1950 David Feldman, 73. Before authoring the “Imponderables” series, David Feldman taught the first-ever college course on soap operas at Bowling Green State University (OH), at that time the only school in the world with a postgraduate degree in popular culture. That’s where Mike Glyer met him. After Feldman took his talents to the University of Maryland in pursuit of a Ph.D., where the soap opera class blew up into a 350-student draw, he worked in New York in the programming department of NBC, in both daytime and primetime programming until he decided writing books was a more attractive idea. Imponderables, the first in the 11-book series, came out in 1986. And once upon a time, he even ran Wolfman Jack’s campaign for president. (OGH)
  • Born January 23, 1954 – Craig Miller, age 67.  Ray Bradbury suggested he join LASFS (Los Angeles Science Fantasy Society).  Of course I put that first, what Website do you think this is?  CM soon earned the LASFS’ Evans-Freehafer Award (service).  Co-chaired Equicon ’74, Westercon 28, L.A.con II the 42nd Worldcon; chaired Loscon 12.  Fan Guest of Honor, Westercon 41, Loscon 27 (with wife Genny Dazzo), Baycon 2006, Boskone 55.  With Marv Wolfman co-created and produced Pocket Dragon Adventures.  Memoir of work with Lucasfilms Star Wars Adventures.  Three hundred television writer and producer credits.  Writers Guild of America West’s Animation Writers Caucus Animation Writing Award.  [JH]
  • Born January 23, 1964 Mariska Hargitay, 59. First, I must note she is the lead cast member as Olivia Benson of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, now in its twenty-fourth season, the longest running scripted series currently on television. Did you know she’s the daughter of Jayne Mansfield? I certainly didn’t. Her first film appearance was as Donna in Ghoulies which is a seriously fun film. Later genre creds are limited but include playing Marsha Wildmon in the Freddy’s Nightmares – A Nightmare on Elm Street: The Series. She also plays Myra Okubo in the Lake Placid film and voices Tenar in the not very good, indeed truly awful, Tales from Earthsea. Bad, bad idea. 

(8) REVISITING APPENDIX N. [Item by Cora Buhlert.] The good folks of Goodman Games are profiling more early 20th century SFF authors who appear in Appendix N of the original D&D Dungeon Master handbook:

 James Maliszewski profiles Abraham Merritt: “Adventures in Fiction: Abraham Merritt”.

Of all the literary influences on D&D and DCC RPG, Abraham Merritt is perhaps the “most-influential of the least-known.” His work is rarely read in this modern time, yet he is named by Gary Gygax as one of “the most immediate influences on AD&D. Today, on January 20, 2020, the 136th anniversary of his birth, we provide a little more insight into this little-read but well-deserving author. You can also learn about all the Appendix N authors by listening to the Appendix N Book Club. For Merritt in particular, his most famous work, The Moon Pool, was recently covered in a special session on the Appendix N Podcast in which Joseph Goodman participated. You can find more about it HERE.

Michael Curtis profiles Clark Ashton Smith: “Appendix N Archaeology: Clark Ashton Smith”.

…While we cannot fault Gygax for not including certain names, we can, however, dig deeper into the authors he does list and examine where they drew their influences from. In the process, we discover that some of the names that people grumble about over their absence, are in fact representative in the works of those that are present. One of these influencers of the influencers is the third name from “the big three of Weird Tales”—Clark Ashton Smith….

Ngo Vinh-Hoi profiles John Bellairs: “Adventures in Fiction: John Bellairs”.

…Many years later a fan asked Bellairs about his time in England only to have him reply “I lived for a year in Bristol [England], and it was the most miserable year of my life.” Bellairs’s misery was everyone else’s good fortune though, as this is when he wrote The Face in the Frost….

(9) COMPARE AND CONTRAST. Also at Goodman Games, Bill Ward contrasts those archetypical adventurers Conan and Elric: “Archetypes of Adventure: Conan and Elric”.

Few characters in fantasy are as iconic as Conan the Cimmerian: black-haired barbarian warrior with the deadly grace of a panther and the impressive physique of a prize fighter, a wanderer, a reaver, and a king by his own hand. Michael Moorcock’s Elric of Melnibone perhaps rivals Conan in terms of iconic status (if not exactly in market saturation), perhaps in part due to his deliberate inversion of many of Conan’s characteristics….

(10) SHE KNOWS. “We Think Rian Johnson’s Poker Face Is a Superhero Show, and He’s OK With That” says Gizmodo at the top of its interview with the director.

Columbo. Kojak. Murder, She Wrote. These are the shows most commonly mentioned when describing Peacock’s new show, Poker Face. And, it being from Rian Johnson, the mastermind behind the Knives Out films (as well as The Last Jedi), the comparisons are accurate and logical. Poker Face is, at its core, about a woman named Charlie (Natasha Lyonne) who travels the country and solves murders.

But there’s a twist. Charlie is a human lie detector. She can instinctively tell, for a fact, if a person is lying about something. So if you step back and describe that in a different way you might say she has an innate, unexplained power that makes her superior to others. Or, in other words, a superpower….

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Chris Barkley, Andrew Porter, Arnie Fenner, John Hertz, Daniel Dern, Cora Buhlert, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, and Mike Kennedy for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Jim Janney.]