(1) NEW FUTURE TENSE FICTION PODCAST. The first episode of the Future Tense Fiction podcast series dropped this week. Produced by Slate, it’s hosted by science journalist Maddie Stone, and each episode features a voice actor reading one of the Future Tense stories, followed by a conversation with the author about how their own experiences with technology informed their writing and vision. The first episode features Sturgeon Award–winning story “When Robot and Crow saved East St. Louis,” by Annalee Newitz. The podcast is free and is available through any podcast service that people use (including but not limited to Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, and Radio Public).
(2) THE BIG EUROVISION READ. Catherynne M. Valente ecstatically told Facebook followers:
Decibel Jones and the Absolute Zeroes have finally made it to the blue carpet. WHAT.
I could not possibly be more excited to announce that Space Opera, the literary lovechild of @Eurovision & a drunk thesaurus, is officially part of the #BigEurovisionRead and #Eurofestival, sponsored by @bbcarts and @thereadingagency this year!
From a throwaway joke on Twitter to really being part of actual #Eurovision? Oh. My. God.
It truly isn’t possible to express how thrilling it is for an utterly cringe #Eurovision dork like me to be anywhere near the actual event, let alone a small official part of it. I am so honored, so grateful, and I hope Dess and the gang find a whole new galaxy of friends.
Space Opera has been such a ride, and the sequel is out this fall! Thank you so much to all the librarians that chose this book and everyone who has jumped on Mr. Jones’ Wild Ride over the last five years.
Life is beautiful and life is stupid. Truly.
(3) STARFLEET ACADEMY. “’Star Trek: Starfleet Academy’ Series Ordered at Paramount+” and Variety has details.
“Admission is now open to Starfleet Academy! Explore the galaxy! Captain your destiny! For the first time in over a century, our campus will be re-opened to admit individuals a minimum of 16 Earth years (or species equivalent) who dream of exceeding their physical, mental and spiritual limits, who value friendship, camaraderie, honor and devotion to a cause greater than themselves,” Kurtzman and Landau said. “The coursework will be rigorous, the instructors among the brightest lights in their respective fields, and those accepted will live and study side-by-side with the most diverse population of students ever admitted. Today we encourage all who share our dreams, goals and values to join a new generation of visionary cadets as they take their first steps toward creating a bright future for us all. Apply today! Ex Astris, Scientia!”
The official logline for the series states that it “will introduce us to a young group of cadets who come together to pursue a common dream of hope and optimism. Under the watchful and demanding eyes of their instructors, they will discover what it takes to become Starfleet officers as they navigate blossoming friendships, explosive rivalries, first loves and a new enemy that threatens both the Academy and the Federation itself.”
… Production on “Star Trek: Starfleet Academy” will begin in 2024….
(4) GOODNIGHT MOON. Here’s a strange exercise: “Every Page of Goodnight Moon, Ranked” at McSweeney’s Internet Tendency. This page is ranked next to last – and the commentary is one reason I’m not sure this article succeeds at being funny.
21. And goodnight mouse (Page 16)
Separated from the toy house on page 3, we see this mouse for what it really is: a thinly constructed, two-dimensional character. What had once seemed whimsical now appears in stark reality: a mouse running around a child’s bedroom, the treatment of which should neither be celebrated nor encouraged.
(5) MIKE MIGNOLA’S VISION. On exhibit at the Society of Illustrators through July 8 is “Picturing Pinocchio: Mignola Makes a Marionette”.
Deep in the midst of pandemic lockdowns, a plan was hatched: a new illuminated edition of Carlo Collodi’s Pinocchio, engineered to unDisnify one of the strangest, most startling pieces of fiction ever to be beloved by generations of children worldwide.
The seed was planted by cartoonist and author Mike Mignola (Hellboy), who had been pondering his own take on the puppet for decades. With the world closed up due to COVID, he teamed up with idiosyncratic publisher Beehive Books and holed up in his studio to create a portfolio of over fifty original illustrations re-envisioning Collodi’s tale. When author Lemony Snicket (A Series of Unfortunate Events) got wind of the project, he couldn’t resist joining, offering elaborate hand-typed annotations of his own maddening encounter with this singular text.
Pinocchio, though one of the most popular literary works of all time, is somewhat paradoxically ill-remembered. Collodi originally published the story as serialized installments in a children’s magazine. The original series ended with Pinocchio hung from a tree, dead by the hands of assassins, and was continued only because of an outcry from readers who couldn’t stand to see such a beloved character reach such a dismal end. This is the true nature of Collodi’s tale — who better than Mike Mignola to illustrate the unremitting darkness and strange whimsy that characterized this bizarre children’s classic?
This exhibition will feature his full portfolio of yet-to-be-published Pinocchio illustrations, including drawings, paintings, process work and other ephemera of Mignola’s pandemic Pinocchio project. The Land of Toys, the City of Catchfools, the Blue Fairy, Fire Eater, the feline Assassins – as seen through the eyes of a modern master of illustration and storytelling.
(6) SMALL WONDERS KICKSTARTER FUNDS. Stephen Granade reports that the “Small Wonders Magazine: Year One” Kickstarter has funded! As a result, he says, all of their Issue 0 stories and poems, including Beth Cato’s “She Seeks a Home” and Premee Mohamed’s “From the Journal of Sawyer L. Gibbs, Hero, Aged 13 1/2” are available on the Small Wonders website. They will be opening for story and poem submissions on April 1, no joke.
(7) JOE GIELLA (1928-2023). Comics artist Joe Giella died March 21 at the age of 94 reports Heritage Auctions.
Joe Giella is best known for his work at DC in the 1950s and 60s as an inker. But his career spanned 60 years! He studied art at three different schools before his first gig at age 17 in 1946 where he did “Captain Codfish” for Hillman. After some free-lance at Fawcett, former classmate Mike Sekowsky helped him land a job at Timely as an inker. He met Frank Giacoia there and went with Frank when he took a job at DC in 1949. Over the next two decades, at one time or another, Joe inked nearly every feature that Julius Schwartz edited.
By 1970, Joe had started working with the syndicates and drew or inked Batman, Flash Gordon, the Phantom, while still doing occasional work for DC. In 1991, he took over the Mary Worth strip, where he continued to work until his retirement in 2016. Joe passed away at age 94 on March 21, 2023.
(8) MEMORY LANE.
1972 – [Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Clifford Simak’s A Choice of Gods was published fifty-one years ago by G.P. Putnam & Sons with a simultaneous edition done by SFBC. The superb cover art was by Michael Hinge.
Sixty years ago at Torcon II, it would be nominated for Best Novel though Isaac Asimov’s The Gods Themselves would take home the Hugo that year.
Without being explicit, I will say that I think it shares some similarity in themes to City.
I think A Choice of Gods has one of the finest Beginnings that I’ve ever had the pleasure to read, so without further commentary on my part, here it is…
Aug. 1, 2185: So we begin again. Actually, we began again fifty years ago, but did not know it then. There was hope, for a time, that there were more people left and that we could pick up where we had left off. We thought, somehow, that we could hang onto what we had, once the shock was over and we could think more clearly and plan more cleverly. By the end of the first year we should have known that it was impossible; by the end of five we should have been willing to admit it, but we weren’t. At first we refused to face the fact and once we had to face it we became stubborn with a senseless sort of faith. The old way of life could not be revived; there were too few of us and none with special knowledge and the old technology was gone beyond all restoration. The technology had been too complex and too specialized and too regimented to be picked up and carried on without a large work force equipped with appropriate skills and knowledge that were necessary not only to operate the technology itself, but to produce the energy that went into it. We are now no more than scavengers feeding on the carcass of the past and some day we’ll be down to the bare bones of it and will be finally on our own. But over the years we have been recovering or rediscovering, whichever it may be, some of the older and more basic technology geared to a simpler way of life and these basic rudimentary skills should keep us from sinking into utter savagery.
There is no one who knows what really happened, which does not, of course, deter some of us from formulating theories that might explain it all. The trouble is that all the theories boil down to simple guesses, in which all kinds of metaphysical misconceptions play a part. There are no facts other than two very simple facts and the first of these is that fifty years ago last month the greater fraction of the human race either went somewhere or was taken somewhere. Out of more than eight billion of us, which was certainly far too many of us, there are now, at most, a few hundred left. In this house in which I sit to write these words, there are sixty-seven humans, and only that many because on the night it happened we had invited some young guests to help us celebrate the coming of age of our twin grandsons, John and Jason Whitney. Of the Leech Lake Indians there may be as many as three hundred, although we now see little of them, for they have taken up again, quite happily and to their great advantage, or so it would seem to me, their old tribal wanderings. At times rumors reach us of other little pockets of humanity still surviving (the rumors chiefly brought by some loose-footed robot), but when we’ve gone to hunt for them, they are never there, nor is there anything to indicate they ever had been there. This, of course, proves nothing. It stands to reason that elsewhere on the Earth there must be others left, although we have no idea where. We hunt for them no longer, even when the rumors come, for it seems to us that we no longer have any need of them. In the intervening years we have become content, settling down into the routine of a bucolic life.
The robots still are with us and we have no idea how many there may be. All the robots that were ever in existence must still remain. They did not go or were not taken as was the human race. Over the years a number of them have come to settle in with us, doing all the work and chores necessary for our comfortable existence, becoming, in all truth, a part of our community. Some of them at times may leave and go elsewhere for a while and there are occasions when new ones float in and stay, either for good or for varying periods. It might seem to someone unacquainted with the situation that in the robots we had the labor force we needed to keep at least a small sector of the more vital parts of the old technology alive. It is possible the robots could have been taught the necessary skills, but the rub here is that we had no one who was equipped to teach them. Even if we’d had, I have some well-founded doubt that it would have worked. The robots are not technologically minded. They were not built to be. They were built to bolster human vanity and pride, to meet a strange longing that seems to be built into the human ego—the need to have other humans (or a reasonable facsimile of other humans) to minister to our wants and needs, human slaves to be dominated, human beings over which a man or woman (or a child) can assert authority, thus building up a false feeling of superiority. They were built to serve as cooks, gardeners, butlers, maids, footmen (I have never got quite straight in mind what a footman is)—servants of all kinds. They were the flunkeys and the inferior companions, the yea-sayers, the slaves. In a manner of speaking, in their services to us, I suppose they still are slaves. Although I doubt the robots think of it as slavery; their values, while supplied by human agency, are not entirely human values. They serve us most willingly; thankful of a chance to serve, they press their services upon us, apparently glad to find new masters to replace the old. This is the situation as it applies to us; with the Indians it is different. The robots do not feel at ease with the Indians and the Indians, in turn, regard them with an emotion that borders upon loathing. They are a part of the white man’s culture and are readily acceptable to us upon the basis of our onetime preoccupation with machines. To the Indians they are unclean, something that is repulsively foul and alien. They will have no part of them. Any robot stumbling into an Indian camp is summarily hustled off. A few of the robots serve us. There must be many thousands more. Those that are not with us we have fallen into the habit of calling wild robots, although I doubt they, in any sense, are wild. Often, from our windows or while sitting on the patio, or while out walking, we see bands of wild robots hurrying along as if they had an urgent destination or were involved in some great purpose. We have never been able to determine where the destination or what might be the purpose. There are certain stories of them that we hear at times, but nothing more than stories and with no evidence, and not worth repeating here.
(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
- Born March 30, 1904 — Herbert van Thal. Editor of the Pan Book of Horror Stories series, twenty-four volumes that appeared from 1959 to 1983. Back From the Dead: The Legacy of the Pan Book of Horror Stories is a look at the series and it contains Lest You Should Suffer Nightmares, the first biography of him written by Pan Book of Horror Stories expert Johnny Mains. (Died 1983.)
- Born March 30, 1928 — Chad Oliver. Writer of both Westerns and SF, a not uncommon occupation at that time. He considered himself an anthropological science fiction writer whose training as an academic informed his fiction, an early Le Guin if you will. Not a terribly prolific writer with just nine novels and two collections to his name over a forty-year span. Mists of Dawn, his first novel, is a YA novel which I’d recommend as it reads similarly to Heinlein. (Died 1993.)
- Born March 30, 1930 — John Astin, 93. He is best known for playing Gomez Addams in Addams Family, reprising it on the Halloween with the New Addams Family film and the Addams Family animated series. A memorable later role would be as Professor Wickwire in The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr., and I’d like single out his delightfully weird appearance on The Wild Wild West as Count Nikolai Sazanov in “The Night of the Tartar” episode. Years later I remember that episode and him in it.
- Born March 30, 1934 — Dennis Etchison. As an editor, he received two World Fantasy Awards for Best Anthology, MetaHorror and The Museum of Horrors. As a writer, he’s best remembered as a short story writer of quite tasty horror. Talking in the Dark Is his personally selected collection of his stories. (Died 2019.)
- Born March 30, 1948 — Jeanne Robinson. She co-wrote the Stardance Saga with her husband Spider Robinson. To my knowledge, her only other piece of writing was ‘Serendipity: Do, Some Thoughts About Collaborative Writing‘ which was published in the MagiCon Program. (Died 2010.)
- Born March 30, 1950 — Robbie Coltrane. I first saw him playing Dr. Eddie “Fitz” Fitzgerald on Cracker way back in the Ninties. Not genre, but an amazing role none-the-less. He was Valentin Dmitrovich Zhukovsky in GoldenEye and The World Is Not Enough, with a much less prominent role as a man at an airfield in Flash Gordon being his first genre role. Being Rubeus Hagrid in the Potter franchise was his longest running genre gig. He’s also voiced both Mr. Hyde in the Van Helsing film and Gregory, a mouse, in The Tale of Despereaux film. (Died 2022.)
- Born March 30, 1965 — Maurice LaMarche, 58. Voice actor primarily for such roles as Pinky and The Brain (both of which Stross makes use of in The Laundry series) with Pinky modeled off Orson Welles, near as I can tell the entire cast of Futurama, the villain Sylar on Heroes, the voice of Orson Welles in Ed Wood, a less serious Pepé Le Pew in Space Jam, and, though maybe not genre, he’s voiced Kellogg’s Froot Loops spokesbird Toucan Sam and the animated Willy Wonka character in Nestlé’s Willy Wonka Candy Company commercials.
(10) COMICS SECTION.
- Sheldon shows that the Vanishing Cabinet from Harry Potter may have had other uses of interest to Valdemort.
- Sheldon, again, depicts Pippin explaining so clearly and simply why it’s time for another meal that even a future King should be able to understand.
- Order of the Stick has a magic trap that makes it a bit difficult to determine when the trap has been tripped.
(11) CAT CHAT. Did we do this before? Well, if so, let’s do it again. CatGPT. It seems to be a one-joke idea, so I won’t excerpt the answer I received to my question “What makes a good social justice credential?”
(12) MASSACRE IN THE EXECUTIVE SUITE. With great power comes sudden unemployment.“Marvel Entertainment Chairman Ike Perlmutter Out at Disney” reports Yahoo! and so are some other top Marvel brass.
Isaac “Ike” Perlmutter, chairman of Marvel Entertainment, has been laid off at Disney. Marvel Entertainment will be folded into the larger Disney business units, a Disney spokesperson confirmed.
The move comes as Disney looks to eliminate 7,000 jobs in multiple rounds of layoffs that kicked off this week, in what CEO Bob Iger calls part of a “strategic realignment.”
Rob Grosser, a longtime third-party Marvel security consultant who is also considered to be Perlmutter’s fixer, is also out, according to two insiders with knowledge of the situation. In addition, Disney has terminated the employment of Rob Steffens, who served as co-president of Marvel Entertainment, and John Turitzin, who held the position of chief counsel for the same division….
(13) KICKED OUT THE DOOR TO THE REAL WORLD. Another casualty of cutbacks is Disney’s metaverse division. TechCrunch has the story: “Disney cuts metaverse division as part of broader restructuring”.
…The metaverse division is headed by Mike White, who was promoted to the role from SVP of consumer experiences and platforms in February 2022 and charged with getting Disney deeper into the web3 space. The unit aimed to find ways to tell more interactive stories in immersive formats using Disney’s extensive library of intellectual property, according to WSJ. Aside from the Disney we all know and love, that extensive library includes Pixar, Marvel and all of the Star Wars movies and shows.
All 50 or so members of the team have lost their jobs, sources told WSJ. White will remain at the company, but it’s not clear in what capacity….
(14) WJW INTERVIEW. A 90-minute video interview with Walter Jon Williams has been posted on Tubi by the program “About the Authors TV”. The Q&A is conducted by author and biographer Jake Brown.
Williams posted the link along with a self-deprecating comment: “I’ve viewed only a few minutes of the interview, enough to be amused by the way Zoom’s filters kept making parts of my anatomy appear and disappear. If you’re looking for inadvertent hilarity, or possibly an epileptic seizure, this is the place for you!”
(15) RAISING THE BAR. “Man proposes to girlfriend using a personal version of ‘Everything Everywhere’ in viral TikTok” at NBC News. The TikTok video can be viewed at the link.
A wedding proposal in a movie theater went viral on TikTok for a creator’s rendition of A24’s “Everything Everywhere All at Once,” and viewers say they’re in awe of the effort.
“I rented out a theater room, did some photoshop, brought her inside, edited a fake video with trailers in the beginning,” TikTok user Daniel Le, who goes by @danyo_le, wrote.
The TikTok, which garnered over 2 million views and included a film Le named “Anniething Anniewhere All at Once” after his girlfriend, showed clips from the acclaimed film and parody versions edited in by Le….
(16) JEOPARDY! Andrew Porter did not touch that dial while contestant flailed on tonight’s episode of Jeopardy!
Category: Quoth the title
Answer: Philip Pullman quoted Milton, “Unless the Almighty Maker them ordain” these “to create more worlds”
Wrong questions: “What are men?” and “What are children of men?”
Correct question: “What is ‘His Dark Materials’?”
Answer: The title of this “Hainting” Noel Coward comedy comes from Shelley’s “To a Skylark”
No one could ask, “Shelley wrote, ‘Hail to thee, “Blithe Spirit’.”
(17) OCTOTHORPE. The eightieth episode of the Octothorpe podcast, “Four Constituent Blobs”, is now up!
John Coxon is jetlagged, Alison Scott is working, and Liz Batty is under pressure. We get excited about the upcoming Eastercon, barely even mention Chengdu at all, talk a bit about science fiction, and round it all out with Gaming Corner, sponsored by Mark Plummer. Art by the fabulous Sue Mason.
[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Dann, Joey Eschrich, Stephen Granade, John King Tarpinian, Chris Barkley, Andrew Porter, and Michael Toman, for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Cat Eldridge.]
(2) Congratulations to Cat Valente!
(9) Astin was also in a memorable recurring role on “Eerie, Indiana” – a show I loved.
Many thanks for the piece on Simak’s A Choice of Gods. I have it on my shelf, although I haven’t yet read it. I also love the cover artwork by Michael Hinge (and similar artwork from that era).
(14) WJW INTERVIEW. He can joke about epileptic seizures but for those of us that have them, they are not ever a joke. I’m on three anti-seizure medications, all of which have serious side-effects including one that causes nausea serious enough that that I take an anti-nausea medication used by patients undergoing chemotherapy and radiation therapy. So I don’t find joking about epileptic seizures at all funny.
Among Maurice LaMarche’s many other voice parts was that of the narrator in the English dub of the Studio Ghibli film Pom Poko, which I think I can safely call genre, as it’s about shape-shifting talking tanuki (raccoon-dogs), and is one of his more memorable performances. I’ve enjoyed hearing his voice pretty much everywhere I’ve recognized it.
9) John Astin: Happy Birthday to Mr Astin!! With the passing of Lisa Loring (Wednesday Friday Addams) in Jan of this year he’s the last surviving cast member of the original “The Addams Family”
Astin is alive and well and living in Baltimore, not far from his beloved Johns Hopkins University. He was hilarious in the 1972 Western Spoof “Evil Roy Slade”
I fondly remember his appearances on “Night Court” as Harry’s father Buddy who had spent time in a mental hospital but was “much better now”
Here’s a link to The A V Club interview with Mr Astin:
Also of possible interest: Jill Lepore has an article in this week’s New Yorker on the long history of speculation and hype involving AI and big data. The online version (at https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2023/04/03/the-data-delusion ) is titled “The Data Delusion” and the print version is titled “Data Driven”. She opens her article with a recap of David H. Keller’s science fiction story “The Cerebral Library”, published in the May 1931 issue of Amazing Stories. That story (and the issue) is in the public domain (because the copyrights were not renewed), and can be read online here: https://archive.org/details/Amazing_Stories_v06n02_1931-05_Missing_ibcbc_cape1736/page/n21/mode/1up )
(2) Excellent! What fun! (As is the book.)
(3) Could be fun. If it ever happens, we’ll find out.
9) Robbie Coltrane was also in a couple of Blackadder episodes, most notably playing the Spirit of Christmas in Blackadder’s Christmas Carol.
(2) That’s terrific news!
(15) Wholesome & lovely.
I am finding Cat’s Beginnings inspiring, either dredging up (relatively) ancient memories or alerting me to Things I’d Missed.
Persuant to that and ChatGPT, I discovered whilst Chatting that it often provides Beginnings. Except that when we moved to Theodore Sturgeon, it refused to excerpt or even discuss (“As an AI language model, I cannot…”) a novel published in various versions circa 1958/59, ostensibly because it contained controversial sexual themes. Apparently that’s the road we’re on?
It’s all together ooky, the Pixel Scrollery.
Artist Mike Hinge was never ever credited as “Michael Hinge.” Once again, formalization has hit the pages of Michael Glyer’s File770.com.
@John Mark Ockerbloom: Yes, a very interesting article.
Andrew I. Porter: Cat’s research is correct. Your fifty-year-old memory is wrong. I expect an apology. And I am serious.
(14) Video compression is basically about looking for different parts of a picture that are enough like each other that you can just reuse one of them multiple times without anyone noticing. In this case, that shirt and that background image led the Zoom compression algorithm to make some unfortunate choices about what is noticeable. It’s all talking anyway, so I just turned my tablet upside down.
@Andrew I. Porter, @Mike (or Michael, in this case?) Glyer:
Many instances where the artist is credited Michael Hinge.
I decided a long time ago that it isn’t prudent to say that something on the internet is the first, or doesn’t exist, or never happens. Even if you are right today, there’s new internet all the time, and you could be wrong tomorrow.
(a site search on fanac.org also shows a number of examples of “Michael Hinge”).
Mike vs Michael Hinge: that credit was the publisher’s doing. I’m sure Mike was just happy to have the work. I notice the works “bill” (who?) links to do NOT include any of the covers or interiors that I published—none of which were credited to “Michael”. I’ve also sent you a photo of the Hinge artwork in my apartment, none of which is signed as by “Michael” Hinge.
(8) A different and very minor quibble, but the (retired) bookseller/editor/proofreader in me winced.
The publisher/imprint was/is “G. P. Putnam’s Sons” (not “& Sons”), having been changed from “G. P. Putnam & Co.” following the death of George P. Putnam in 1872 and his leaving the firm to his three adult sons.
Andrew Porter: Cat is doing this series called Beginnings and he pulls up the first edition cover or binding to go with it. He looks at the cover of the Simak book and really likes it and wants to be sure to mention the artist. So he looks it up on ISFDB and it says Michael Hinge. Which of course it also says on the jacket because that’s how ISFDB checks the credit. It doesn’t matter that Hinge went by Mike a hundred other times — Cat was trying to praise the guy’s work and didn’t deserve your verbal scorn for the effort.
Man up and apologize.
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Just to let you know, Herbert van Thal died in 1983, not 1994.