Pixel Scroll 5/24/22 Gonna Scroll Them Pixels

(1) FAHRENHEIT – NEVER MIND. The Associated Press reports: “Burn-proof edition of ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ up for auction”.

Margaret Atwood has imagined apocalyptic disaster, Dystopian government and an author faking her own death. But until recently she had spared herself the nightmare of trying to burn one of her own books.

With a flamethrower, no less.

She failed, and that was the point.

On Monday night, timed for PEN America’s annual gala, Atwood and Penguin Random House announced that a one-off, unburnable edition of “The Handmaid’s Tale” would be auctioned through Sotheby’s New York. They launched the initiative with a brief video that shows Atwood attempting in vain to incinerate her classic novel about a totalitarian patriarchy, the Republic of Gilead. Proceeds will be donated to PEN, which advocates for free expression around the world…

…The Gas Company’s principal owner, Doug Laxdal, told the AP that instead of paper, he and his colleagues used Cinefoil, a specially treated aluminum product. The 384-page text, which can be read like an ordinary novel, took more than two months to complete. The Gas Company needed days just to print out the manuscript; the Cinefoil sheets were so thin that some would fall through cracks in the printer and become damaged beyond repair. The manuscript was then sewed together by hand, using nickel copper wire….

(2) THE NEXT UNICORN. “Peter S. Beagle Returns to the World of The Last Unicorn With The Way Home reports Molly Templeton at Tor.com.

…The Way Home, according to a press release, “continues the story of beloved characters unicorn, Molly Grue, and Schmendrick the Magician from the point of view of a young girl named Sooz.” The two works included in the collection are Two Hearts, which won the Hugo and Nebula Awards for Best Novelette in 2006, and Sooz, which has not been previously published. It’s described as “a lyrical story of childhood left behind, dedicated to the love of Beagle’s life, who passed away before it could be published.”

The new edition of The Last Unicorn will be available in July; The Way Home publishes in spring 2023.

(3) THE LONG AND WINDING FILM. “‘Stranger Things’ Is Back, and the Duffer Brothers Made It Big” – and the New York Times knows just how big.

…During the two days I observed them, the Duffers, who continue to direct, write and oversee “Stranger Things,” had enough on their plates just getting things manageable. The pandemic had already caused significant delays, and the new season is five hours longer than any previous one. That was the main reason they had decided to release it in two chunks, Ross said. There was just so much material to get through. Demogorgons needed animating. Run times needed tightening.

“How long is the episode right now?” Ross asked their editor Dean Zimmerman about the episode on the screen. Zimmerman glanced my way.

“You want me to say it out loud?” he asked.

“Yeah.”

“Two and a half hours.”

With episodes like short movies (three of the first four are 75 minutes or more), one might worry that the Duffers have succumbed to excess. For now, they seem content to let the fans decide; Netflix has proved willing to support their expanding vision. Meanwhile, the tone is decidedly shifting this season (think “A Nightmare on Elm Street” and “Hellraiser”), and its young cast has been shaving for at least a few years. (Want to feel old? Caleb McLaughlin and Sadie Sink are 20.) Plenty can change in three years, including viewer attention. Will fans still flock to “Stranger Things”?

(4) TOMORROW THROUGH THE PAST. Jeff VanderMeer needs no predictive powers to speak about “The Annihilation of Florida: An Overlooked National Tragedy” in Current Affairs.

…In his 1944 book That Vanishing Eden: A Naturalist’s Florida, Thomas Barbour bemoaned the environmental damage caused by development to the Miami area and wrote, “Florida … must cease to be purely a region to be exploited and flung aside, having been sucked dry, or a recreation area visited by people who …  feel no sense of responsibility and have no desire to aid and improve the land.”

Even then, a dark vision of Florida’s future was clear.

Most of this harm has been inflicted in the service of unlimited and poorly planned growth, sparked by greed and short-term profit. This murder of the natural world has accelerated in the last decade to depths unheard of. The process has been deliberate, often systemic, and conducted from on-high to down-low, with special interests flooding the state with dark money, given to both state and local politicians in support of projects that bear no relationship to best management of natural resources. These projects typically reinforce income inequality and divert attention and money away from traditionally disadvantaged communities.1

Consider this: several football fields-worth of forest and other valuable habitat is cleared per day2 in Florida, with 26 percent of our canopy cut down in the past twenty years.  According to one study, an average of 25 percent of greenhouse gas emissions come from deforestation worldwide.

The ecocide happening here is comparable for our size to the destruction of the Amazon, but much less remarked upon. Few of the perpetrators understand how they hurt the quality of life for people living in Florida and hamstring any possibility of climate crisis resiliency. Prodevelopment flacks like to pull out the estimates of the millions who will continue to flock to Florida by 2030 or 2040 to justify rampant development. Even some Florida economists ignore the effects of the climate crisis in their projects for 2049, expecting continued economic growth. but these estimates are just a grim joke, and some of those regurgitating them know that. By 2050, the world likely will be grappling with the fallout from 1.5- to 2-degree temperature rise and it’s unlikely people will be flocking to a state quickly dissolving around all of its edges….

(5) WALDEN WITH AN ELECTRIC SOCKET. And if you need cheering up after that last excerpt – surprisingly, Kim Stanley Robinson is the one about to help you out. “Q&A with Sci-Fi Author Kim Stanley Robinson” in Sactown Magzine.

I hear birds singing in the background. Where are you right now?

I’m outside. My office is my front courtyard on the north side of the house. I’ve got a tarp slung up so that I can be in the shade all the time and see my laptop screen. I also work outside in the rain. I’ve got a waterproof power cord and it powers the laptop and sometimes a little heating pad like you use for your lower back that I throw over my feet. I work all the days of the year out here. In the cold, I wear my winter backpacking gear, including a down hood and [fingerless] wool gloves. I feel like I’m on a little backpacking trip.

My work life has turned into an outdoor adventure. I did this about 15-20 years ago, and it was a great move. I thought I was burning out on writing, but what I was really burning out on was staying indoors all day. When I moved out to this courtyard, the first day that it rained and I slung a tarp up, that was it for me. I have never written a single word of my novels indoors since. I’m looking at white-crowned sparrows now. That’s probably what you’re hearing. And the scrub jays, these are my office mates. I’ve got a couple bird feeders around in this courtyard, and because I’m just sitting here for hours every day, I’m just part of the landscape as far as they’re concerned. I’ve had a scrub jay land on my boot at the end of my footstool and just stare at me like, “Are you alive or dead?”

(6) ACTIVISM. “Workers at an Activision studio vote to unionize, a first for the gaming industry.” The New York Times has the details.

A group of workers at a video game studio that is part of Activision Blizzard has voted to form a union, a first for a major North American video game company.

The vote, which passed 19 to 3, affects 28 quality-assurance employees at Raven Software, the Wisconsin studio that helps to develop the popular Call of Duty game. The workers voted over the past several weeks, and the results were tallied by the National Labor Relations Board on Monday. Activision has one week to formally object if it finds grounds for complaint.

The new union, the Game Workers Alliance, is the culmination of months of labor organizing at Activision, which has faced increasing pressure from employees to improve working conditions after a lawsuit accused the company of having a sexist culture in which women were routinely harassed.

Organizing at Raven in particular increased in intensity in December, when quality-assurance, or Q.A., workers walked out to protest the ending of about a dozen workers’ contracts. The Communications Workers of America, a prominent tech, media and communications union, helped lead the unionization effort….

(7) BRING THE HAMMER.  The trailer for Marvel Studios’ Thor: Love and Thunder dropped today.

“Let me tell you the story of the space viking, Thor Odinson…”

(8) HE MORPHED THOSE CHECKS. The New York Times tells why “A former ‘Power Rangers’ actor is charged with helping steal millions in Covid relief funds.”

The actor who led a team of teenage superheroes on “Mighty Morphin Power Rangers” has been accused of helping steal millions of dollars from the government’s Paycheck Protection Program pandemic relief fund.

Jason Lawrence Geiger, 47, who played the Red Ranger under the stage name Austin St. John, and 17 others were charged with fraud this week in a Texas federal court over what prosecutors described as a conspiracy to illicitly obtain $3.5 million in P.P.P. loans.

Mr. Geiger and the others he is said to have worked in coordination with used a mix of genuine and sham businesses to obtain loans from the relief program, prosecutors said. According to court filings, they fabricated documents and made false claims about sales and payroll to obtain inflated loans, then spent the cash on jewelry, precious metals and cars.

Mr. Geiger received a loan of $225,754 in June 2020 for his company St. John Enterprises, which sells Power Rangers memorabilia, such as $60 autographed photos and $100 personalized video messages. Instead of using the money to pay workers — the relief program’s intended purpose — Mr. Geiger funneled most of the money to two of his co-defendants, prosecutors said in court filings….

(9) DENIS MEIKLE (1947-2022). In the Guardian, Jasper Sharp pays tribute to his late friend, film historian Denis Meikle.

…In 1996 Denis’s first book, A History of Horrors: The Rise and Fall of the House of Hammer, was published, after almost six years of writing and intensive research during which time he developed a close friendship with Michael Carreras, the head of the studio in its later years. It is considered the definitive history of Hammer Films.

This was followed by Jack the Ripper: The Murders and the Movies (2001), Vincent Price: The Art of Fear (2003), Johnny Depp: A Kind of Illusion (2004), The Ring Companion (2005) and Roman Polanski: Odd Man Out (2006).

With Jane, in 2007 he founded Hemlock Books, specialising in non-fiction publications on film, horror, mystery and the macabre and actor and director biographies, through which he edited and published the journals The Fantastic Fifties, The Sensational Sixties and The Age of Thrills (1930s and 40s), and published his final work, Mr Murder: The Life and Times of Tod Slaughter (2019), jointly researched with Kip Xool and Doug Young.

This recent Tod Slaughter biography encapsulates Denis’s approach to film writing perfectly: scholarly, fact-driven and intensively researched without being dry, and writerly and critical without thrusting his role as the writer to the fore….

(10) MEMORY LANE.

1964 [By Cat Eldridge.] This is the month that saw the publication of John D. MacDonald’s The Deep Blue Good-by, the first of the Travis McGee novels. (Warning: there’s nothing genre or genre adjacent here. So go away if that’s what you were expecting.) In my opinion, the Travis McGee novels are among the finest mystery series ever done.

I’m listening to them now because Audible dropped the price way, way down on each work. And it’s been at least twenty years since I read them all. So it’s an excellent time to re-experience them. The narrator, Robert Perkoff, is quite excellent, capturing the first person voice of Travis as well as I expect him to. 

This novel was only accepted by in 1964 by Fawcett Publications editor Knox Burger after MacDonald says in a later interview with Ed Gorman: “At the request of Knox Burger, then at Fawcett, I attempted a series character. I took three shots at it to get one book with a character I could stay with. That was in 1964. Once I had the first McGee book, The Deep Blue Good-by, they held it up until I had finished two more, Nightmare in Pink and A Purple Place for Dying, then released one a month for three months. That launched the series.” 

McGee is of an uncertain background, he’s ex-military, but that may be the Korean War or it might be just out of the very early Vietnam War, as MacDonald hints at both. He is a big man and knows how to fight, has a temper, but controls it.  He won the Busted Flush, his house boat, in a card game. Was it a honest game? Who knows? 

The novels really should be read in the order written as both McGee and the America that he’s part of change in a very chronological fashion. Travis has definite strong political opinions and I won’t say I always agree with them, but that’s the character. And no, I won’t say that this character is altogether pleasant as he isn’t as in this novel and in every novel in the series, he will do things that make me cringe. 

If you haven’t read The Deep Blue Good-by, go ahead and read it — if you like it, you’ll like the whole series. The Deep Blue Good-by is reasonably price at the usual suspects for six dollars.

A film version of The Deep Blue Good-by, directed by Oliver Stone, was optioned a decade ago. Christian Bale who is six feet tall to Travis McGee’s stated six feet four was going to the lead. The film was never developed. There’s one film based off a later novel in this series, Darker Than Amber starring Rod Taylor, and one, Travis McGee: The Empty Copper Sea that starred Sam Elliott but which moved McGee to sunny California. McDonald vetoed a television series in the Sixties on the grounds that if it was popular no one would read his novels. 

See? Not a single spoiler! 

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born May 24, 1925 Carmine Infantino. Comics artist and editor, mostly for DC Comics, during the late 1950s known as the Silver Age of Comics. He created the Silver Age version of the Flash (with writer Robert Kanigher), Deadman with writer Arnold Drake and the Elongated Man (with John Broome). He also introduced Barbara Gordon as a new version of Batgirl. Infantino wrote or contributed to two books about his life and career: The Amazing World of Carmine Infantino (Vanguard Productions and Carmine Infantino: Penciler, Publisher, Provocateur. (Died 2013.)
  • Born May 24, 1945 Graham Williams. He produced three seasons of Doctor Who during Tom Baker’s era as the Fourth Doctor. He’d write a novelization of his story, The Nightmare Fair, developed as a Sixth Doctor story but never filmed when Colin Baker’s contract was terminated. He would die at home of an accidental gunshot wound. (Died 1990.)
  • Born May 24, 1952 Sybil Danning, 70. Her rise to fame began with her role in Roger Corman’s space opera cult classic, Battle Beyond the Stars which he billed as his Star Wars. (No kidding.) She went on to star in HerculesHowling II: Your Sister Is a Werewolf (which bears the charming alternative title of Howling II: Stirba – Werewolf Bitch), a faux trailer directed by Rob Zombie titled Werewolf Women of the SS for Quentin Tarantino’s Grindhouse (I couldn’t make this stuff up!), the Halloween remake and finally she as in a horror film called Virus X. Series. She appeared in recurring roles of the The Lair as a vampire out for revenge.
  • Born May 24, 1953 Alfred Molina, 69. His film debut was on Raiders of The Lost Ark as Satipo. He was an amazing Doctor Octopus on Spider-Man 2 and inSpider-Man: No Way Home, and he also provided the voice of the villain Ares on the outstanding 2009 animated  Wonder Woman. Oh, and he was a most excellent Hercule Poirot in the modern day version of Murder on the Orient Express. I know, not genre, but one of my favorite films no matter who’s playing the character. 
  • Born May 24, 1960 Doug Jones, 62. I first saw him as Abe Sapien on Hellboy, an amazing role indeed. To pick a few of my favorite roles by him, he’s in Pan’s Labyrinth as The Faun and The Pale Man (creepy film), a clown in Batman Returns, the Lead Gentleman in the “Hush” episode of Buffy and Commander Saru on Discovery
  • Born May 24, 1963 Michael Chabon, 59. Author of what I consider the single best fantasy novel about baseball, Summerland, which won a Mythopoeic Fantasy Award for Children’s Literature. His other two genre novels, Gentlemen of the Road and The Yiddish Policemen’s Union, winner of Best Novel at Denvention 3, are stellar works in themselves. He was Showrunner for the first season of Picard but was Executive Producer for the just concluded season.
  • Born May 24, 1965 John C. Reilly, 57. I honor him for just his performance as Amos Hart in Chicago but as that film is hardly genre I’d better go on and list genre appearances, shouldn’t I? (Chicago is streaming on Paramount +.) He’s Lefty in A Prairie Home Companion which we’ve established is genre followed by being Crepsley in Cirque du Freak: The Vampire’s Assistant and he shows up in the Guardians of the Galaxy as Corpsman Dey. He’s Hank Marlow in Kong: Skull Island. He was Dr. Watson in the film everyone wants to forget, Holmes & Watson. His last genre role that I’m aware of was playing Cap in the Moonbase 8 comedy series. 

(12) KAMALA KHAN. Marvel Studios’ Ms. Marvel starts streaming June 8 on Disney+.

Good is not a thing you are, it’s a thing you do.

(13) MADE (UP) MAN. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] I listened to this podcast that Leonard and Jessie Maltin did with Ron Perlman.  Perlman is of interest to us because nearly all of his work has been genre-related, beginning with his debut in Quest For Fire.  Perlman says he got his job in the first Beauty and the Beast because makeup artist Rick Baker said Perlman worked well with prosthetics.  Perlman also discusses his long-running collaboration with Guillermo del Toro; Perlman worked on del Toro’s first film, Cronos, and has collaborated with Del Toro on seven other projects, including the forthcoming Pinocchio.  Perlman also discusses what actors do during a daily four-hour stint in the makeup chair and his extensive voice work, including playing Optimus Prime in two Transformers movies. “Maltin on Movies: Ron Perlman”.

In his earliest screen appearances (remember Quest for Fire?) Ron Perlman was buried under a ton of makeup and prosthetics. That’s also how he became the Emmy-winning star of television’s Beauty and the Beast. Since then he’s shown his versatility, especially in his collaborations with the gifted filmmaker Guillermo del Toro like Hellboy and the forthcoming Pinocchio. His new film The Last Victim, casts him as a weary sheriff in the modern-day West. As Leonard and Jessie quickly discovered, Ron has the soul of a poet and the heart of a movie buff. Wait till you hear him singing the praises of Gary Cooper!

(14) I GUESS WE DO TALK ABOUT HIM. Tonight Andrew Porter witnessed another item that stumped Jeopardy! contestants.

Category: Bruno

Answer: “Sylvie and Bruno” was a dreamy 1889 children’s book by this Brit who was comfortable with fantasy worlds.

Wrong questions: “Who was Barrie?” and “Who was Tolkien?”

Right question: “Who was Lewis Carroll?”

(15) GENUINE TRIVIA. It doesn’t get much more obscure than this: “10 actors from The Andy Griffith Show who voiced major cartoon characters” at MeTV.

The Andy Griffith Show hired a sprawling cast to play all the quirky citizens of Mayberry. Many of those actors were skilled at performing in amusing voices. No wonder they tended to have careers in cartoons, too.

Many of the faces from Mayberry were notable animation voice-over artists. Here are some of our favorite that might surprise you.

1. Arlene Gorlonka

Speed Buggy was one of several successful Hanna-Barbera clones of its hit Scooby-Doo. Substitute the Great Dane with a talking anthropomorphic dune buggy and it’s essentially the same show. “Tinker” looked and acted a whole lot like Shaggy. And then there was Debbie, the Daphne, if you will. The mystery-solving teen was voiced by none other than Howard Sprague’s girlfriend, Millie!

(16) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In “Honest Trailers: Morbius,” the Screen Junkies say that “Michael Morbius is a doctor living a serious challenge: being Jared Leto.”  Dr. Morbius chugs enough blood at blood banks that the narrator says it reminds him “of the time at camp when we found the Capri Suns.” Also Matt Smith (speaking of doctors) “acts with the freedom of someone who knows he’s in a train wreck.”

[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, Christian Brunschen, 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 Paul Weimer.]

34 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 5/24/22 Gonna Scroll Them Pixels

  1. Battle Beyond the Stars – a really good movie, far more than it would seem. But then, it was yet another remake of the Magnificent Seven remake of Seven Samurai. And Robert Vaughn, in it, where he practically didn’t need to learn any lines he hadn’t learned when he played the exact same character, with almost the same clothes, in Magnificent Seven.

  2. (12) I’ve read the first few Ms Marvel graphic novels and really enjoyed them. I hope the series keeps intact the personalities of her parents, who are annoying to teen-age Kamala but who genuinely love her and are doing their best to be good parents.

  3. 10) ISTR that in one of the latter installments of Spider Robinson’s Callahan’s series, the gang pass through Fort Lauderdale and some of them cannot resist looking for Slip F18, Bahia Mar Marina. Suffice it to say that Spider gives us a wistful bit of ambiguity as to who is or is not living in those parts.

  4. (9) That Tod Slaughter book is incredible! I’d love to order more of those Denis Meikle Hemlock Books titles. I’ll have to look around and see if there’s a U.S. distributor…

    I also have a plus sign in my name now…

  5. (10) Michael Chabon. Although ISFDB has it as “non-genre”, you can’t leave out “The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay”. I argue that it is genre, and a classic to boot.

  6. @Nancy Sauer : I also hope Kamala’s brother is portrayed correctly

  7. Oh Hey a title credit!

    In re Summerland, I am not the person to be a panel on it, but I would love to see genre baseball enthusiasts (like Anne Leonard, Guy Gavriel Kay, etc) do a panel on baseball in SFF novels. Michael Bishop’s Brittle Innings comes to mind.

  8. 1) A dystopian commercial gimmick for an existing dystopian society where someone on the far right has actually suggested burning books! /s

    4) And then, fires swept over the land, and millions of acres of habitat were lost, and not only in the Florida Everglades, but in the western forests, in New Mexico, the midwest, flooding in the east and drought in the west. Humans need to get a clue! Desertification is forever. Example: NASA did a survey of what is under the surface of the Middle East. It used to be lush and green, as so also was the Australian continent before the intrusion of man.

    And soon, the Elves will have no forests to inhabit. They’ll have to move in with us in urban settings, and humans will forget what our green world used to look like.

    13) What a shame the production company trashed “Beauty and the Beast.” I lost a lot of respect for them over that. They could have simply ceased to produce the show rather than trash it. But Hollywood is that artificial land in which dreams are forced through a sieve of production layers, and writers are often surprised to see their work eviscerated or twisted.

  9. @Will R. KSR drinks his morning tea while loading the books he imagines he’ll need most for today’s research into a huge camping rucksack, walks out the door, closes the door, unloads the books under a very long tarp, places on the most relevant pages heavy weights he couldn’t possibly actually imagine taking on an actual camping trip, and later reverses the process when putting them back on their proper shelves. Assuming he has no strong winds to contend with. Or dogs. Or printouts. And still spends most of the day walking back and forth to his shelves to hunt for what he didn’t know he needed.

  10. 11) John C. Reilly ruled as the voice of the title character in Wreck-It Ralph and the sequel Ralph Breaks The Internet.
    I also remember him from Magnolia which can’t really be genre, just borderline weird.

  11. Carl Andor says And then, fires swept over the land, and millions of acres of habitat were lost, and not only in the Florida Everglades, but in the western forests, in New Mexico, the midwest, flooding in the east and drought in the west. Humans need to get a clue! Desertification is forever. Example: NASA did a survey of what is under the surface of the Middle East. It used to be lush and green, as so also was the Australian continent before the intrusion of man.

    Oh you’re getting away with that statement.

    Australia has had the present ecosystem for at least eight hundred thousand years. Well that was the belief among environmental scientists until rather recently. It turns out that they were wrong. Australia’s deserts are only one point five million years old, making them among the world’s youngest. Yeah they ain’t that old by desert standards says scientists but they predate the coming of humanity to Australia by a long time as the aboriginal culture as the oldest aboriginals arrived there sixty five thousand years ago and maybe as late as forty thousand years ago.

    I don’t know how many aboriginals there were at the height of their culture but they aren’t responsible for the desertification of an entire continent.

  12. There’s more than enough real reasons to worry about climate change (90% of the Great Barrier Reef has suffered bleaching) without inventing fictions about Australia.

  13. David E. Hook said he’s willing to argue that “The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay” is genre, but it really only qualifies by a hair’s breadth at best.

  14. I seem to recall that North Africa was desert when the Egyptians were building pyramids. It was wetter 50,000 years ago…before many people lived there.

  15. (11) Alfred Molina played another dodgy scientist on the trail of fugitive alien hybrid Natasha Henstridge in Species, a 1995 Roger Corman body shock horror.

  16. @Jee Jay: I’d say Magnolia is Fortean enough to be genre adjacent.

  17. P J Evans says I seem to recall that North Africa was desert when the Egyptians were building pyramids. It was wetter 50,000 years ago…before many people lived there.

    It was actually green until relatively recently, around 6000 BCE, when the monsoon cycle started the process that started the drying out of the entire region by greatly reducing the amount of water available. And it is now thought that humans greatly accelerated the drying-out period by overgrazing available grassland.

    Now listening to The Galaxy, and The Ground Within

  18. David E. Hook said he’s willing to argue that “The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay” is genre, but it really only qualifies by a hair’s breadth at best.

    It never occurred to me that it wasn’t genre.

    But it does remind me that I want to read it again, now that I’m retiring next week and will have more free time.

  19. @Cat Eldridge
    They’re having some success in replanting along the margins, especially where they can fence areas to keep out cattle.

  20. (10) In my opinion, the John D. MacDonald novels are among the finest American fiction of the 20th century (at least the short one). There is much that hasn’t aged well, just like the realities he chronicled, but much more great writing. So thanks for the reminder, Cat – I’ll toast him, and you, with whatever it was he liked (or rather whatever I can find; but there should be some whisk/e/y, though not bourbon.) And he was a SF writer, after all (isn’t there even a positive mention of SF somewhere in the McGee corpus?).

    I just disagree that “the novels really should be read in the order written” is the only, or even best, way. The Deep Blue is not a bad opening; but, as noted for example in The Endless Rainbow Snark, the following ones suffer somewhat from JDM trying for variety too much, before he found the best template for the series (I’m a bit reminded of LMB when she was starting her career and was not sure what sub-series might be successful and what might bomb).

    Take A Purple #3: Dropping McGee in the middle of a desert (after #2 in NYC!) is not a bad move in itself, the story works pretty well (until it bogs too much in the Latino cliches), and the passage “While I was engaged in such frivolities and pseudo-sex-play in the perfumed world of woman’s wear, *** *** was busily engaged in what is sometimes termed shuffling the mortal coil. He made hard work of it. From what I learned later, I was able to reconstruct it.” has stuck in my mind until, likely, there is anything left of it (I mean, “They gathered at a safe distance and stared blankly at his agony.”!), but the final duel and its solution with a *** on a *** was just way too much.

    As it happens, I first read McGee in a translated omnibus of a famous massmarket “3x” line, and still think they did a great work of a representative cross-cut:
    Darker Than Amber # 7 – early-phase McGee after the initial bugs were fixed: A great taut lean fast-paced perfectly-plotted clockwork-ticking thriller, with Meyer, the Busted Flush and the Caribbean. (Yeah, the chapter on the Race Question was not his proudest moment.)
    The Long Lavender Look #12 – a more classical mystery, with a murder, false accusation, red herrings, denouements, and a GRIPPING final action scene.
    Cinnamon Skin #20 – late, a bit sprawling, more interested in showing (and complaining about the decline of) The Matter of America, and the somewhat magical-orientalised Mexico.

    My first English-language one was A Deadly Shade of Gold #5 ; I remember only how it blew my mind (and that the 1956 Hungary emigré was pretty convincing); must re-read it soon.

    So I would rather recommend to sample several (based on reviews) and go for the complete set only later.

  21. Currently listening to Crosstime, by Andre Norton. Comfort listening.

    There I was, fully recovered, feeling good…

    And I went and gave blood.

    Drove home, and could barely manage to get out of the car. Took me awhile. Made it to the foot of the outside steps.

    Took quite a while before I could get up them. Then needed to get the outside door open. Once inside, getting to my apartment door wasn’t too bad–and then I just slid to the floor.

    Cider does wonders for me, but weighs less than twelve pounds, and is not a mobility assistance dog. I just sat there, till I heard the building handyman coming in. Called him, and he helped me get up and get inside.

    We will not discuss how long I lay on the floor before getting up and making my way to my bed, to collapse more comfortably.

    It’s been three weeks. Much better now, but I am not to give blood again. Doctor’s orders, and the Red Cross has taken me off the call list.

    Twenty years is a pretty good run.

  22. MeTV got it wrong. Arlene Golonka’s Millie was not Howard Sprague’s girlfriend. She was Sam Jones’ (Ken Berry) girlfriend. The shocking revelation in the original article was finding out Otis the town drunk was the voice of the dog Goliath in the Lutheran Church’s Davy and Goliath series, wonderfully lampooned by the series Moral Oral.

  23. (11) The Carmine Infantino entry is a paradigmatic demonstration of why one shouldn’t rely uncritically on Wikipedia. Infantino was a Golden Age comics artist, beginning at Timely [Marvel] in the early 1940s. He eventually moved to DC after WWII, working on, among other features, the original Flash. He was a star artist for DC in the late 1950s, but was prominent through the late 1960s, when he became DC’s editorial director, then publisher. His regime lasted only about five years, doomed in part by catastrophic corporate decisions at the beginning of the 1970s, when DC allowed Marvel to become dominant through savvy manipulation of its wholesale and retail pricing. He resumed his successful career as an artist at Marvel and eventually returned to DC.

  24. re: Lenora Rose:
    What arid regions that were in Australia long ago have been expanded due to the removal of resources by man (there is archeological evidence of ancient man being there) in ADDITION to Global Warming, which, in the recent past, has led to horrendous fires and high winds, creating even more and broader deserts. Below are links to back this up.

    re: PJ Evans:
    One of the Great Wonders of the World were the “Hanging Gardens of Babylon.” Those same gardens could not survive in today’s climate.
    Google “Dr. Stephanie Dalley” and “The Hanging Gardens of Babylon”

    https://mars.nasa.gov/resources/24694/mars-science-teams-investigate-ancient-life-in-australia/

    Discusses the discovery that the Australian Outback shows signs of life in the ancient past, and that they will use this as a research tool for exploring any former life on Mars. The life in the desert Outback is described as having evidence of the earliest life on Earth – specifically.” So, the area was not always desert.

    https://www.cambridge.org/core/books/archaeology-of-australias-deserts/archaeology-of-deserts-australia-in-context/4CBFB29551BD97814802540CCF28A4BF
    “Any archaeology of Australia’s deserts is necessarily also a cultural history….Archaeological research now complicates this picture by showing that these desert societies have their own histories, and that late Pleistocene societies were not cast in the ethnographic mould.”

    https://www.science.org/content/article/humans-braved-australia-s-hostile-desert-interior-thousands-years-earlier-thought

     https://www.prb.org/resources/whats-behind-desertification/

     https://www.carbonbrief.org/explainer-desertification-and-the-role-of-climate-change/

    https://www.vox.com/2019/12/30/21039298/40-celsius-australia-fires-2019-heatwave-climate-change

  25. Carl, I don’t know what archaeological evidence you found that states early man came to Australia in time to impact desertification but it’s plain false. The earliest humanity arrived there was no more than sixty five thousand years ago, well after the one point five million established date now accepted for most of Australia save the continental fringe as being desert.

    (And please note the aboriginal culture never had the sheer numbers to cause desertification. It was a limited scale hunter-gather society that was nomadic in nature. You need to know your Australian history.)

    Yes, the coastal ecosystem no doubt suffered badly from colonists — that is established but stop arguing that Australians created those deserts as they didn’t. They didn’t, and really couldn’t have.

  26. PJ Evans: The Sahara has always been, but desertification in the middle East is definitely at least partly man made, some of it since Roman and Egyptian times (look up the cedars of Lebanon). And there are still areas in the Middle East which are green and full of groves, they’re just the minority.

    But Australian Aborigines did not, to the best of my knowledge, contribute to desertification there, though the current population there and everywhere is definitely causing trouble.

    Although I do wonder about “Desertification is forever”; do we have evidence no desert’s human-caused expansion has ever been reversed, either naturally or by human assistance?

    That would disappoint a lot of fans of Dune…

  27. @Lenora Rose
    Yes, and Cyprus. They are working on it in Africa: planting trees and shrubs, and using fencing to protect the new areas from wandering cattle. And also education so people don’t cut everything down again.

  28. @Cat Eldridge:

    “Carl, I don’t know what archaeological evidence you found that states early man came to Australia in time to impact desertification but it’s plain false.”

    So you didn’t read the links I provided? The historical record gives evidence of humans taking advantage of wet periods in the climate history in what is now desert land. Man is, right now, and since the colonists came, impacting the existing green lands in a huge way, and expanding the size of the desert lands.

    “Yes, the coastal ecosystem no doubt suffered badly from colonists — that is established but stop arguing that Australians created those deserts as they didn’t. They didn’t, and really couldn’t have.”

    Where did I state “the Australians created the deserts or that they were the SOLE cause of desertificaton?”

    I didn’t! I said the encroachment of humans was causing desertification, by which I mean that the green spaces, forests, and other ecosystems are severely threatened both by man and by global warming. Now, with weather changes, vast fires driven by strong winds cannot be fought in conventional ways. All people can do is get out of the way and watch as their homes, farms, and the forests burn, and become another section of desert.

    While I realize that PARTS of Australia tended toward arid spaces, there were times these same spaces supported life (pond scum, at least , according to one of the reports I cited), so they were not barren and lifeless deserts. Also, vast forests and several different ecosystems have been under threat within the last two centuries, and are continuing to be threatened…BY MAN.

    It’s FAR easier to save what is left than to let it die and make some small attempt to plant in the margins. It would take centuries, and humankind doesn’t have centuries.

    The Great Barrier Reef, once teeming with life, is now severely threatened by acidification and warming of the ocean. It was not a desert, but is fast becoming one.

    https://oceanservice.noaa.gov/facts/coral_medicine.html

    “Coral reefs are sometimes considered the medicine cabinets of the 21st century. Coral reef plants and animals are important sources of new medicines being developed to treat cancer, arthritis, human bacterial infections, Alzheimer’s disease, heart disease, viruses, and other diseases.”

    So we turn their underwater habitats into deserts?

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