(1) STOP DRAGON THAT STUFF IN HERE. “Dungeons & Dragons tells illustrators to stop using AI to generate artwork” reports AP News.
The Dungeons & Dragons role-playing game franchise says it won’t allow artists to use artificial intelligence technology to draw its cast of sorcerers, druids and other characters and scenery.
D&D art is supposed to be fanciful. But at least one ax-wielding giant seemed too weird for some fans, leading them to take to social media to question if it was human-made.
Hasbro-owned D&D Beyond, which makes online tools and other companion content for the franchise, said it didn’t know until Saturday that an illustrator it has worked with for nearly a decade used AI to create commissioned artwork for an upcoming book. The franchise, run by the Hasbro subsidiary Wizards of the Coast, said in a statement that it has talked to that artist and is clarifying its rules.
“He will not use AI for Wizards’ work moving forward,” said a post from D&D Beyond’s account on X, formerly Twitter. “We are revising our process and updating our artist guidelines to make clear that artists must refrain from using AI art generation as part of their art creation process for developing D&D.”…
(2) WALK RIGHT IN, FALL RIGHT DOWN. Cora Buhlert’s new Masters-of-the-Universe-Piece Theatre story is “The Uninvited Guest”.
…Zodac has always been one of the strangest Masters of the Universe characters. He was there from the very beginning, one of the first eight figures to come out in 1982. Zodac bears a lot of similarities to Metron from Jack Kirby’s New Gods, but then the early Masters of the Universe designs were partly inspired by Jack Kirby’s Fourth World, because Mattel was apparently working on a Fourth World toyline in the late 1970s that never went into production, so a lot of ideas were reused for Masters of the Universe….
(3) TUBE VERSUS TOK. No matter what you may have read — like in yesterday’s Scroll — the Guardian says a “Report finds YouTube more popular than TikTok for young book buyers”. (But wait, it was the Guardian’s own article about BookTok we linked to!)
YouTube trumps TikTok as the most popular online platform for young people to discover new books, according to a report by Nielsen BookData.
Nielsen, which provides data for the Bookseller’s UK Bestsellers chart, conducted a survey in November 2022 that revealed 34% of people aged between 14 and 25 find new reads using the video platform YouTube.
TikTok and Instagram were used by 32% and 27% of participants respectively, and online book retailer websites were visited by 33% of respondents. This data comes after reports that “BookTok” – the corner of TikTok in which creators share book recommendations – is driving sales of particular authors and genres that are popular on the platform. Its YouTube counterpart, BookTube, similarly features videos of users discussing their favourite titles and “hauls” of books they have recently bought….
(4) BEST EVER. ScreenRant picked the “10 Greatest Anthology TV Shows Of All Time, Ranked” and despite the list not being restricted to genre, there are seven sff and horror shows on it. The Twilight Zone is ranked number one.
Although most television series follow a single story over the course of several seasons, there are some shows called anthologies that change up the plot from episode to episode or season to season, and these can be some of the most successful series to date. Anthologies may not be the most popular form of television, but they certainly stand out for their distinct format and ever-changing stories. In fact, some of the most popular and lauded television series from the past to now are anthology series.
The following list offers ten of the best anthology television series to ever appear on-screen. This is a particularly diverse bunch of shows that range in release date, genre, and form. Though they each have the anthology structure in common, each show offers their own unique take on the concept, and more than that, their own important story. Whether it’s a silly comedy, a gruesome horror, or peek into true crime, each of these anthology series is popular in its own right and for good reason. For those interested in diving into anthologies, this is the ultimate place to start.
(5) HISTORY OF THE TOMORROW PEOPLE. It’s hard to imagine a showrunner envying the “big” effects budget of Seventies Doctor Who, but theirs was even smaller: “’It’s hard to keep a straight face opposite a Dalek on Viagra’: how we made The Tomorrow People” in the Guardian.
Roger Price, creator and writer
Working for the BBC in the early 70s, I made a Junior Points of View episode in which kids said they thought most BBC children’s programmes were patronising rubbish. Soon after I was at a get-together for TV people where Monica Sims, the head of BBC children’s programmes, challenged me to do better. I said: “Give me a time slot and budget, and I will.” Lewis Rudd, the Independent Television equivalent, overheard and asked: “Did you mean that?”
We had lunch and he said: “We need an answer to Doctor Who.” Twenty years earlier, I’d been enrolled at a boarding school full of German kids. We were all the best of friends, and knowing that only seven or eight years earlier our fathers would have been trying to kill each other in the second world war made me think that we must be the next stage of human evolution. That was the inspiration for the idea I pitched to Lewis – kids who had special powers, but who were unable to use them to kill or do harm.
These “Tomorrow People” were telepathic and telekinetic, and could teleport or “jaunt” from one place to another via hyperspace. They became aware of their abilities after “breaking out” – deliberate shorthand for puberty. I wanted kids watching at home to feel that they too might be a Tomorrow Person, and that it was OK to feel different….
Nicholas Young, played John
…Some of the spacecraft looked quite good even though they were built out of plastic cups from the canteen painted silver. But the aliens were often ridiculous. It’s difficult to act with a straight face against a puppet with an aerial on its head or something that looked like a Dalek on Viagra.
In the early days, when Tomorrow People were seen floating in hyperspace, we’d be standing on one foot in front of a yellow screen – then the yellow would be electronically overlaid with a star field or psychedelic effects. Later, we were hung on wires which could clearly be seen on TV. We looked like Thunderbirds puppets. I said: “Why don’t you paint the wires yellow?” Someone covered them with yellow gaffer tape and bingo! They disappeared….
(6) BOARDGAME OF THE YEAR. [Item by Cora Buhlert.] Spiel des Jahres (Boardgame of the Year) is a huge deal in the boardgame world and the 2023 winners were just announced.
The 2023 Spiel des Jahres is Dorfromantik: Das Brettspiel (Romantic village: The boardgame) by Lukas Zach and Michael Palm, published by Pegasus Spiele.
The 2023 Kinderspiel des Jahres (Children’s Boardgame of the Year) is Mysterium Kids by Antonin Boccara and Yves Hirschfeld.
Radio Bremen interviews of one the winners, Lukas Zach who is a local. (They were not interested in interviewing Germany’s first ever Hugo winner, who also happens to be a local…)
(7) ROBERT OSBAND DIES. The American Space museum announced that long-time volunteer Robert “Ozzie” Osband, a fixture at Space View Park rocket launches for four decades, died August 6 at the age of 72.
He was quite a character, and Osband’s adventures inspired Bill Higgins’ article “Two Vain Guys Named Robert”.
…In 1976, when one of his favorite authors, Robert A. Heinlein, was going to be Guest of Honor at a World Science Fiction Convention, Mr. Osband journeyed to Kansas City.
In his suitcase was his copy of Heinlein’s Have Space Suit, Will Travel—a novel about a teenager who wins a secondhand space suit in a contest—and his ILC Dover suit.
Because if you wanted to get your copy of Have Space Suit, Will Travel autographed, and you happened to own a secondhand space suit, it would be a shame NOT to wear it, right?…
(8) WILLIAM FRIEDKIN (1935-2023). [Item by Dann.] William Friedkin died August 7 of heart failure and pneumonia. He was 87. The director’s most noteworthy genre work was The Exorcist. Other works include an episode of The Alfred Hitchcock Hour, an episode of The Twilight Zone, an episode of Tales from the Crypt, and horror movies The Guardian and Bug. Friedkin also directed The French Connection for which he won an Oscar.
(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
- Born August 7, 1933 — Jerry Pournelle, 1933 – 2017. Some years ago, I got an email from a J. R. Pournelle about an SF novel they wanted Green Man to review. I of course thought it was that Pournelle. No, it was his daughter, Jennifer. And that’s how I came to find out there was a third Motie novel called, errrr, Moties. It’s much better than The Gripping Hand was. His best novel is of course The Mote in God’s Eye which he wrote with Niven. And yes, I’ve read a lot of his military space opera when I was a lot younger. At that age, I liked it. I expect the Suck Fairy with her steel toe boots wouldn’t be kind to it now if I read any of it, so I won’t. He had a number of Hugo nominations starting at Torcon II for “The Mercenary” novella followed by a nomination at DisCon II for his “He Fell into a Dark Hole” novelette. The next year at the first Aussiecon, The Mote in God’s Eye got nominated and his Extreme Prejudice novel also got a nod. MidAmericaCon saw Inferno by him and Niven get nominated and his “Tinker” novelette also was on the ballot. Lucifer’s Hammer with Niven got on the ballot at IgunaCon II and his final nomination was at ConFederation for Footfall with Niven. Oh and at MidAmericaCon II, he got a nomination for Best Editor, Short Form. And yes, I was a devoted reader of his Byte column. (Died 2017.)
- Born August 7, 1936 — Richard L. Tierney. A Lovecraftian scholar. Coauthored with David C. Smith, a series of Red Sonja novels which have Boris Vallejo cover art. Some of his standalone novels riff off the Cthulhu Mythos. Unless you read German like Cora does, he’s not available digitally on at the usual suspects. (Died 2022.)
- Born August 7, 1957 — Paul Dini, 66. First, he is largely responsible for the existence of Batman: The Animated Series, Superman: The Animated Series, The New Batman/Superman Adventures, Batman Beyond, and yes Duck Dodgers And Tiny Toons as well. He’s recently been writing for the Ultimate Spider-Man series which is quite good. He co-authored with Pat Cadigan, Harley Quinn: Mad Love. He’s responsible for the single best animated Batman film, Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker, as he wrote it. If you see it, see the R rated version.
- Born August 7, 1957 — Lis Carey, 66. A prolific reader whose reviews fill the shelves at Lis Carey’s Library. She is also a frequent Filer, contributor of numerous cat photos and even more book reviews. She is a longtime member of NESFA, and chaired Boskone 46 in 2009. (OGH)
- Born August 7, 1960 — Melissa Scott, 63. I think the first work I read by her was Trouble and Her Friends which holds up well even now. I’m also fond of Night Sky Mine and The Jazz. I see that she has an entire series set in the Stargate Atlantis universe. She won the Astounding Award for Best New Writer, and four Lambda Awards, the first for Trouble and Her Friends, a second for Shadow Man, a third for Point of Dreams and a fourth for Death by Silver.
(10) COMICS SECTION.
- Eek! shows an unexpected fan of a well known sff movie franchise.
- Speed Bump is there when a librarian fields a controversial request.
- Tom Gauld knows the corporate mindset very well.
(11) MASS QUANTITIES. The New York Times looks into “The Complicated Estates of Obsessive Collectors”. “When collectors die, their families face a lot of decisions, including what to do with a hundred Superman figurines.” Some familiar names quoted here.
“More times than I can remember, a spouse or child has said to me, ‘If he wasn’t dead, I’d kill him all over again for leaving me with this mess,’” said Greg Rohan, the president of Heritage Auctions.
Most people tend to know what to do with traditional investments after someone dies, he said, but when it comes to baseball cards, first-edition books, coins and other collectibles, the loved ones dealing with the estate can be stumped (and annoyed).
If some collectors of, say, vinyl figurines, seem to have a gene that spurs them to dedicate entire rooms of their home to inanimate rubbery friends, they are also, in many ways, just like everyone else. “People don’t want to think about dying,” said Maggie Thompson, 80, a former senior editor of Comic Buyer’s Guide, which was a newsmagazine that covered the comic book industry. “I realize as I look around my rooms, my family is not going to know what things are.”…
(12) FREE READ. Cora Buhlert has a story called “Rest My Weary Bones” in the July 2023 issue of Swords and Sorcery Magazine.
It seems I’ve barely rested at all when the call comes… again.
Rise and shine, sunshine. Time for battle, time for war, time to smite the enemy and hear the lamentations of their women… if I could still hear properly, that is. ‘Cause hearing doesn’t work very well, when you’re essentially a skeleton.
For that’s exactly what I am these days: A skeleton….
…More than 600 women involved in the cooperative are leaders of their own farms, heads of households or in managegment with our organiztion. Geek Grind is strongly focused on promoting women in leadership, ownership and success in coffee. We do this because of the need….
(14) TRIVIAL TRIVIA. [Item by John King Tarpinian.]
Truman Capote is at the same cemetery as Ray.
Non-genre trivia is that the crypt that Truman is in was originally for Johnny Carson. In his final years Truman Capote lived at the Malibu home of Joanne Carson who was one of Johnny’s ex-wives.
(15) VIDEO OF THE DAY. A fan video from Andrew Loves Sci-Fi — Friends intro but it’s Star Trek. [Click the link to see it.]
What if the original Star Trek was a comedy? Or, better yet, what if the intro for this comedy was set to the theme song to Friends? This intro re-imagines one of the world’s top science-fiction shows as one of the hottest comedies on television. Captain Kirk, Mr. Spock, and Dr. McCoy will always be there for you!
[Thanks to Chris Barkley, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, Daniel Dern, Dann, Peer, Bill Higgins, Cora Buhlert, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Andrew (not Werdna).]