Pixel Scroll 5/4/24 Pixels On The Storm

(1) KUANG Q&A. In the Guardian: “Rebecca F Kuang: ‘I like to write to my friends in the style of Joan Didion’”.

And cancel culture? Does it exist?
I find a lot of this so disingenuous. The shape of an internet takedown would go something like this: somebody would err, and often there would be pretty genuine complaints about their conduct. But there’s also a really big spectrum of what counts [as bad behaviour]. It could be something quite egregious and harmful, and it could also be something as silly as misrecognising a breakfast cereal. We conflate all of these scales of harm. Anyway, someone would air this complaint, and then there would be a back and forth with that complaint, and then, very quickly, it would spread to the corners of the internet, and those with no stake in it at all would spread disinformation. Nobody would ever seem interested in the truth, or in reparations, or in genuinely understanding what happened. It’s so self-serving and frivolous…

What are you working on now?
My next book is set in the 80s. It’s a fantasy novel, but it’s very different from The Poppy War trilogy. It’s Neil Gaiman meets… Lewis Carroll. There’ll be a big emphasis on nonsense and riddles and mysteries. It’s an entirely new genre. I like to feel like I’m moving forward. I get bored very easily.

(2) CRIMINALIZED WRITING. “Record Number of Writers Jailed Worldwide in 2023” says PEN America annual report.

PEN America today released its annual Freedom to Write Index, recording the highest number of jailed writers around the globe since the Index launched five years ago. There were 339 writers from 33 countries jailed in 2023, an increase of 62 writers compared to 2022 and 101 more than in 2019….

The top ten jailers of writers in 2023 are China (including autonomous regions) with 107, Iran 49, Saudi Arabia and Vietnam each with 19, Israel (including the Occupied Palestinian Territory) with 17, Belarus and Russia each with 16, Türkiye 14, Myanmar 12, and Eritrea seven. 

PEN America spends the entire year researching news and verifying accounts of writers jailed for their speech–and held for a minimum of 48 hours –anywhere in the world (see more on our methodology here). In addition to the Freedom to Write Index, PEN America maintains and updates a Writers at Risk Database throughout the year, providing insights into the wide array of threats that writers face. There are currently 923 active cases of writers at risk in 88 countries in the database….

(3) FEARLESS OCTAGENARIAN. “’I can say things other people are afraid to’: Margaret Atwood on censorship, literary feuds and Trump” in the Guardian.

…Questions of freedom of expression are “front and centre” right now, she believes, with both left and right turning to censorship. “‘You have to take this book out of the school because it hurts my child’s feelings,’ says one hand, and the other hand says ‘Well this other book hurts my child’s feelings, so you have to take it out.’ And that goes on until there aren’t any books left. If you go too far down the road in either direction, you shut down political speech.” While she doesn’t think this is likely to happen in Britain any time soon – “the British are quite mouthy, you may have noticed” – it is happening in parts of America.

When Atwood speaks the world listens, with good reason: the financial crash, the rise of the extreme right and the infringement of women’s freedoms in recent years have all been anticipated in her work. “I just pay attention,” she likes to say. Her status as an international treasure and seer means she is frequently sought out for her opinions on the hottest issues of the day, as well as panel discussions and events.

“I’m a kind of walking opinion poll,” she says. “I can tell by the questions that people ask me what’s on their minds. What is the thing they’re obsessing about at the moment.” The backwards turn of women’s rights, with the ruling just this month that the 1864 total ban on abortion be enforced in Arizona, for example, is high on the list. But as always she is careful to stress that there is no one answer to questions about the future for women. “I have to ask which women? How old? What country? There are many different variations of women.”

She attributes her outspokenness to the fact that she doesn’t have a job: “You can say things that other people might be afraid to because they will lose their job or get cancelled.”… 

(4) WATER WAITERS. Animation Magazine signal boosts a “Dreamy Chinese Animated Feature ‘Deep Sea’ Now Streaming on Peacock”.

Having made a striking visual impression upon audiences at prestige film festivals in Berlin, Tribeca, Annecy and Tokyo, the innovative CG-animated feature Deep Sea has made its exclusive streaming debut on Peacock. Written and directed by Tian Xiaopeng (Monkey King: Hero Is Back), the film is produced by China’s October Media and Enlight Pictures, and had a limited U.S. theatrical release through Viva Pictures in November.

Synopsis: A young girl named Shenxiu is unexpectedly swept into the sea during a family cruise and stumbles upon a mysterious restaurant under the waves. There, she meets the scheming head chef Nanhe, and his ragtag crew of adorable otters and sarcastic walruses. They join forces to save the restaurant and reunite Shenxiu with her long-lost mother in a kaleidoscopic, dreamlike world of swirling color and dazzling views….

(5) A TRAILER PARK FAR, FAR AWAY. Animation World Network is tuned in when “Disney+ Drops New ‘Star Wars: The Acolyte’ Trailer”.

To celebrate Star Wars Days, Disney+ has just dropped a second trailer and batch of images for Star Wars: The Acolyte, which debuts with the first two episodes on June 4.

The newest Star Wars offering, the mystery-thriller takes viewers into a galaxy of shadowy secrets and emerging dark-side powers in the final days of the High Republic era. A former Padawan reunites with her Jedi Master to investigate a shocking crime spree, but as more clues emerge, they travel down a dark path where the forces they confront are more sinister than they ever anticipated.

(6) SANFORD (SANDY) ZANE MESCHKOW (1941-2024). By Nigel Rowe: Sandy (Sanford) Meschkow passed away on January 28, 2024 in Bryn Mawr, Montgomery, Pennsylvania. He was 83.

He grew up in the Catskill Mountains area of New York State, and was a longtime SF fan and onetime roommate and best friend of artist Mike Hinge. As President of the Philadelphia Science Fiction Society early in the 1970s Sandy commissioned Kelly Freas to do a portrait of Keith Laumer for a PSFS program book. An engineer and editor/writer by trade who worked at NASA for a time in the Sixties. James Blish has Sandy to thank for helping him move out of his apartment when he was moving to England.

Back in early 2022, he wrote saying, “My wife died in January of 2019 and I moved into this large retirement facility that July. I just turned 81and while I have some cardiac and dfiabetic problems I’m not using a walker yet! I wrote an SF novel I can’t seem to sell, but I’ll e-mail it to you for comments if you want to see it. I keep in close contact with an old girlfriend who also knew Mike and we keep each other from getting depressed.  We are in anti-COVID-19 lockdown here. Only one resident and seven staffers have caught the new variant lately.”

He never did send the story along, but we wrote a few more times, sharing memories about Mike and what Sandy was up to. Sandy was Mike’s executor and had packed up all his personal items for me to transport back to New Zealand along with his ashes. A task I carried out the year after he passed. A memorial for Mike was dutifully held in NZ with Mike’s brother Noel and several old time New Zealand 50’s fans present.

Sandy’s fannish memories about his early days in fandom are available in his blog from 2009: Fanograph.

Sadly, we never did meet up in person, but I’ll miss those occasional chatty emails.

(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY.

[Written by Cat Eldridge.]

Born May 4, 1976 Gail Carriger, 48. Steampunk and mannerpunk , it’s time to talk about both, specifically that as written by our birthday author, Gail Carriger.  

Where to start? Her first novel, Soulless, set in an alternate version of Victorian era Britain where werewolves and vampires are members of proper society. Alexia Tarabotti is a wonderful created character that anyone would love to have an adventure with, as well as sit down with to high tea in the afternoon. 

It begins the Parasol Protectorate series centered around her, which as of now goes on to have Changeless, Blameless, oh guess, Heartless and Timeless in it, plus one short story, “Meat Cute”. Why the latter broke the naming convention I know not. 

Gail Carriger. Photo by Vanessa Applegate.

Wait, wait, don’t tell me! — she’s done more mannerpunk. Indeed she has. There is Custard Protocol series (Prudence ImprudenceCompetence and Reticence), also set in Parasol Protectorate universe. When Prudence “Rue” Alessandra Maccon Akeldama , a young woman with metahuman abilities, is left an unexpected dirigible in a will , she does what any sensible (ha!) alternative Victorian Era female would do — she names it the Spotted Custard and floats off to India. Need I say adventures of a most unusual kind follow? I really love this series and not just for the name of the series. It’s just fun. Really fun.

The Finishing School series is set in Parasol Protectorate universe. Again she has a delightful manner in naming her tales, Etiquette & EspionageCurtsies & ConspiraciesWaistcoats & Weaponry and Manners & Mutiny. Go ahead, I think you can figure what this series is about without me telling you. It’s delightful of course.

So I’m not that familiar with her other writing. It appears the two Delightfully Deadly novellas might have a tinge of romance in them though at least one also has dead husbands, four to be precise, lobsters and of course high society. Lobsters? 

The Claw & Courtship novellas are standalone stories set in the Parasol Protectorate universe. So far there’s just “How to Marry a Werewolf (In 10 Easy Steps)”, though she says there’ll be more.

Finally, I’ll note she did a SF series, the Tinkered Stars Universe series — how can this possibly be? — which she describes on her website as “a sexy alien police procedural on a space station”. Oh, that sounds so good. It consists of Divinity 36Demigod 22Dome 6Crudat and The 5th Gender

Did she do short stories? Just four, of which I really want to read one — “The Curious Case of the Werewolf that Wasn’t, The Mummy that Was and the Cat in the Jar”.

(8) COMICS SECTION.

(9) OUTRÉ TECH. Gizmodo has a slideshow of “7 Extremely Weird Inventions From the Grandfather of Science Fiction” – ideas conceived by Hugo Gernsback.

…In 1913, he started The Electrical Experimenter, which would become known as Science and Invention in the 1920s. And in 1919 he founded Radio News, with Television News launched in 1928, just a couple of years after the first experimental tests of TV. That doesn’t even include the sci-fi titles he started like Amazing Stories.

All of these serious-minded tech magazines had at least one article in every issue by Gernsback, and they often included ideas for futuristic inventions. They’re simply some of the most interesting old ideas for the future from a century ago….

(10) YE KEN NOW. Apparently it booked up last year, however, you can still take a virtual tour of “Barbie’s Malibu DreamHouse, Ken’s Way in Malibu, California, United States” on Airbnb. (Was this a real property? Hard to tell.)

Welcome to my Kendom! While Barbie is away, she has handed over the keys to her Malibu DreamHouse this summer and my room could be yours for the night. I’ve added a few touches to bring some much-needed Kenergy to the newly renovated and iconic Malibu DreamHouse. Placed perfectly above the beach with panoramic views, this life-size toy pink mansion is a dream come true!

Booking opens at 10 a.m. PT on Monday, July 17 for two, one-night stays for up to two guests on July 21 and July 22, 2023.

What you’ll do
Situated along the stunning, photogenic coastline, the Malibu DreamHouse is a sunny surfer’s sanctuary surrounded by beach, beach and more beach – just the way I like it.

I’ve decked out the place with a little more…well, me! I’m more than just beach! My cowboy stuff is great. And horses! Guitars, games and more. And of course, rollerblades, because I literally go nowhere without them. Now, guests can live it up Ken-style for a neon night in Barbie Land – six-pack not included.

– During your stay, you will have the opportunity to live in technicolor by:
– Taking a spin through my awesome wardrobe to find your best beach fit. Look out Barbie, I’ve got quite the closet too!
– Channeling your inner cowboy and learning a line dance or two on my outdoor disco dance floor or performing a sunset serenade on my guitar
– Challenging your fellow guests to a “beach off” with plenty of sunbathing and chillaxing by the infinity pool
– Taking home a piece of my Kendom with your very own set of yellow-and-pink Impala skates and surfboard

(11) THE SHIP OF ISHTAR. Grammaticus Books looks at an early 20th century classic.

An in-depth review of A. Merritt’s high fantasy novel, ‘The Ship of Ishtar’. Originally published in serialize form in 1924. And an influence for future fantasy authors such as Michael Moorcock.

(12) RECOGNIZE THIS ROCK? “After Star Trek Symbol Was Spotted By NASA’s Mars Rover, We’re Getting Serious ‘Strange New Worlds’ Vibes”. See the video at the link.

Fans are experiencing a bit of a lull due to the fact that upcoming Star Trek shows are still months off. However, fortunately, NASA’s Mars rover is keeping fans entertained in a surprising way. The Curiosity happened to photograph a rock that strongly resembles an iconic symbol from the franchise and, with that, we’re now getting serious Strange New Worlds Season 2 vibes after seeing it. NASA has made cool shoutouts to The Orville and other sci-fi shows, and one gets the feeling that there are also some Trekkies working at the space-centric organization. The official account for Curiosity confirmed that there were team members delighted when an X user scanning publicly available raw images from the rover noticed a rock that looked like the Delta sigil commonly seen on a comm badge.

(13) WHAT HAPPENS IF YOU JUMP INTO A BLACK HOLE? [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] This week physicist Matt O’Dowd over at PBS Space Time asks what happens if we jump into a singularity…

Meet Alice and Bob, famous explorers of the abstract landscape of theoretical physics. Heroes of the gerdankenexperiment—the thought experiment—whose life mission is to find contradictions in the deepest layers of our theories. Today our intrepid pair are jumping into a black hole. Again. Why? Well, to determine the fundamental structure of spacetime and its connection to quantum entanglement of course.

[Thanks to Teddy Harvia, Kathy Sullivan, Mike Kennedy, Nigel Rowe, JJ, Andrew Porter, John King Tarpinian, Chris Barkley, Cat Eldridge, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, and Steven French for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Jeff Smith.]

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.]

Pixel Scroll 8/12/19 Far From The Files We Know, Where The Pixels Flow

Editor’s Note: My mother’s pacemaker update went very smoothly. Her tech is good for years to come. Thanks for all the good wishes – which I relayed to her and she was pleased. And voilà, there’s a Scroll today after all.

(1) VERBAL KNIT. The official site says there will be text-based coverage of the Hugos and Retro Hugos: “Live Coverage of Hugo Award Ceremonies”. Details to come.

As usual we will be providing live, text-based coverage of this year’s Hugo Award Ceremony, which takes place at 8:00pm on Sunday evening, Dublin time.

This year we also plan to bring you live, text-based coverage of the Retro-Hugo Award Ceremony, which will take place as part of the Worldcon Opening Ceremonies at 8:00pm on Thursday evening, Dublin time.

(2) ST:TOS DID IT RIGHT. Next Big Future declares “Old Star Trek Was Right As US Navy Returns to Manual Switches”. So says the headline they’ve unrolled above a story ganked from the USNI News (“Navy Reverting DDGs Back to Physical Throttles, After Fleet Rejects Touchscreen Controls”).

The Navy will begin reverting destroyers back to a physical throttle and traditional helm control system in the next 18 to 24 months, after the fleet overwhelmingly said they prefer mechanical controls to touchscreen systems in the aftermath of the fatal USS John S. McCain (DDG-56) collision.

The investigation into the collision showed that a touchscreen system that was complex and that sailors had been poorly trained to use contributed to a loss of control of the ship just before it crossed paths with a merchant ship in the Singapore Strait. After the Navy released a Comprehensive Review related to the McCain and the USS Fitzgerald (DDG-62) collisions, Naval Sea Systems Command conducted fleet surveys regarding some of the engineering recommendations, Program Executive Officer for Ships Rear Adm. Bill Galinis said.

In the same vein, Elissa tells why she prefers sci-fi shows with physical ship controls. Thread starts here.

https://twitter.com/expectproblems/status/1160698282525380608

(3) FLAME ON. Alan Weisman takes two books with dire warnings about climate change as his texts for “Burning Down The House” in New York Review of Books.

David Wallace-Wells’s The Uninhabitable Earth expands on his 2017 article of the same name in New York, where he’s deputy editor. It quickly became that magazine’s most viewed article ever. Some accused Wallace-Wells of sensationalism for focusing on the most extreme possibilities of what may come if we keep spewing carbon compounds skyward (as suggested by his title and his ominous opening line, the answer “is, I promise, worse than you think”). Whatever the article’s lurid appeal, I felt at the time of its publication that its detractors were mainly evading the message by maligning the messenger.

Two years later, those critics have largely been subdued by infernos that have laid waste to huge swaths of California; successive, monstrous hurricanes—Harvey, Irma, and Maria—that devastated Texas, Florida, and Puerto Rico in 2017; serial cyclone bombs exploding in America’s heartland; so-called thousand-year floods that recur every two years; polar ice shelves fracturing; and refugees pouring from desiccated East and North Africa and the Middle East, where temperatures have approached 130 degrees Fahrenheit, and from Central America, where alternating periods of drought and floods have now largely replaced normal rainfall.

The Uninhabitable Earth, which has become a best seller, taps into the underlying emotion of the day: fear. This book is meant to scare the hell out of us, because the alarm sounded by NASA’s Jim Hansen in his electrifying 1988 congressional testimony on how we’ve trashed the atmosphere still hasn’t sufficiently registered.

(4) FOLLOWING IN HIS FOOTPRINTS. Doug Ellis told Facebook readers that his company, Adventure Pulp LLC, has acquired the rights to the works of A. Merritt.

I’m already chatting with some folks regarding a few possible projects, and I hope to have some exciting Merritt publishing news soon!

Along with the rights, I acquired the remaining papers and art owned by the Merritt estate. Argosy reprinted Merritt’s classic “Seven Footprints to Satan” in five installments in 1939, starting with the June 24, 1939 issue. Merritt insisted that they use Virgil Finlay (with whom Merritt was working at American Weekly) to provide the illustrations for the story. This was Finlay’s entry into the Munsey pulps, and besides further work for Argosy, he would shortly be turning out great work for the Munsey pulps Famous Fantastic Mysteries and Fantastic Novels. All five Finlay originals for this story were among the art I acquired.

(5) BIRD BRAINS. NPR’s Ilana Masad says “Humans Are Gone In ‘Hollow Kingdom,’ So It’s Up To The Crows”.

Plague, virus, and zombie apocalypse narratives tend to share a few common threads: Often, humanity brings such terrors upon itself; usually, survivors or those with immunity come together in ragtag groups and attempt to find a cure and/or fight their way through to where the other healthy people are; and, almost always, humanity survives — perhaps in drastically reduced numbers, sans modern technology — and must learn to rebuild itself anew. The central metaphor in these narratives tends to be that humanity is really quite an awful, violent species that wars with itself constantly, and that our boundless curiosity and hubris — whether that involves scientific research gone awry or meddling with forces beyond our ken — ultimately lead to our own near-complete destruction.

This metaphor is definitely present in Kira Jane Buxton’s debut novel, Hollow Kingdom, but luckily for anyone drawn to its gorgeous cover (it’s an eye-catcher, a bright, near-neon green with a black and purple crow staring intensely from behind the white font), Buxton takes a joyfully original approach to apocalyptic fiction. See, instead of us humans being the focal point in the story of our own extinction, it’s the plethora of life that we leave behind that takes center stage.

The novel is largely narrated by a domesticated crow named S.T. — short for something unprintable — who has spent his life with a beer-drinking, junk-food-eating, sports-loving, breast-obsessed man named Big Jim, who raised S.T. from a hatchling. A dopey, lazy dog named Dennis rounds out their little Seattle-based family. When Big Jim’s eye unexpectedly falls out of his head, S.T. knows something is very wrong, but it takes him a good long while before he gives up on his beloved MoFo — S.T.’s term for humans, learned at Big Jim’s bosom — and leaves home, accompanied by Dennis.

(6) EATING THE FANTASTIC. While Scott Edelman’s flying to Dublin he invites you to listen to the new episode of Eating the Fantastic, and “Bite into a burger with P. Djeli Clark”.

P. Djèlí Clark won both the Nebula Award and the Locus Award for Best Short Story earlier this year for “The Secret Lives of the Nine Negro Teeth of George Washington” — and is currently up for a Hugo Award not just for that, but for his novella “The Black God’s Drums” as well. His fiction has appeared online at Tor.com, Lightspeed, Fireside Fiction, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, and elsewhere, and in print anthologies such as Hidden Youth and Clockwork Cairo. He is founding member of FIYAH Literary Magazine.

We got together for dinner Friday of [Readercon] at Quincy’s Fat Cat Restaurant, which specializes in comfort food like nachos, wings, mac and cheese, and ribs, though they also serve higher end items like duck and ribeye steaks. But our tastes were not quite so upscale that night, so we stuck to chicken quesadillas and burgers.

We discussed his upcoming first novel (the sale of which was announced only days before we spoke), the background which gave birth to his award-winning story “The Secret Lives of the Nine Negro Teeth of George Washington,” the reason The Black God’s Drums switched point-of-view character during his writing of it, what he learned about New Orleans due to an unfortunate encounter with the local police department, ….and much, much more.

(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born August 12, 1894 Dick Calkins. He’s best remembered for being the first artist to draw the Buck Rogers comic strip. He also wrote scripts for the Buck Rogers radio program. Buck Rogers in the 25th Century, The Complete Newspaper Dailies in three volumes on Hermes Press collects these strips. (Died 1962.)
  • Born August 12, 1903 J O Bailey. ESF says that “his Pilgrims through Space and Time: Trends and Patterns in Scientific and Utopian Fiction (1947) was the first academic study of sf, which it analyses primarily on a thematic basis, and without ever using the term ‘science fiction’, referring instead to ‘scientific fiction’ and the Scientific Romance.” (Died 1979.)
  • Born August 12, 1910 Jane Wyatt. Spock’s mother of course. She also was In Frank Capra’s Lost Horizon. (Died 2006.)
  • Born August 12, 1921 Matt Jefferies. He’s best known for his work on the original Trek where he designed much of the sets and props  including the Starship Enterprise, the Klingon logo, and the bridge and sick bay. The Jefferies tubes are named after him. (Died 2003.)
  • Born August 12, 1931 William Goldman. Writer of The Princess Bride which he adapted for the film. Wrote The Stepford Wives script and King’s Hearts in Atlantis and Misery as well. (Died 2018.)
  • Born August 12, 1947 John Nathan-Turner. He produced the series from 1980 until it was cancelled in 1989. He finished having become the longest-serving Doctor Who producer and cast Peter Davison, Colin Baker and Sylvester McCoy as the Fifth, Sixth and Seventh Doctors. (Died 2002.)
  • Born August 12, 1954 Sam J. Jones,  65. Flash Gordon in the 1980 version of that story. Very, very campy. A few years later, he played the lead role in a TV adaptation of Will Eisner’s The Spirit.
  • Born August 12, 1992 Cara Delevingne, 27. She shows up in the Suicide Squad as June Moone aka The Enchantress, and in Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets as Laureline. I adore The Fifth Element, should I see this film? 

(8) COMICS SECTION.

Two SJW Credential comics today.

(9) POINT AND CLICK. A Polaroid camera revival, thanks to Stranger Things — “The OneStep 2 Starter Set – Stranger Things Edition”.

Polaroid Originals is also releasing collectable special edition film, perfect for super fans to capture their stranger moments. As a further ode to the Stranger Things universe, each pack of 8 will include 16 graphic design prints, which will transport you back to the summer of 1985 in Hawkins, discovering Scoops Ahoy at the town’s new Starcourt Mall and back to the flashing lights of Joyce Byer’s living room.

Stranger Things is renowned for re-imagining the early 80s, and is infused with popular culture from the period, from walkie-talkies and Fabergé Organic big hair to Dungeons and Dragons. Retro Polaroid cameras pop up throughout the series, capturing moments from the Hawkins middle school’s Snow Ball to the gang’s iconic Ghostbuster Halloween costumes. After all what would the 80s be without a Polaroid snap?

(10) DIGITAL CHARACTERS, GENUINE PATHOS. “Digital Fur, Digital Folks: Reality Is Starting to Feel Overrated” according to the New York Times.

If the historians of the future try to pinpoint the exact moment when the term “digital fur” became ubiquitous in our culture, they might eventually identify the evening of July 18, when the “Cats” trailer premiered online just as the first public screenings of Disney’s “The Lion King” remake were unspooling across the country.

Here were two state-of-the-art endeavors, using computer-generated fur — by all accounts an enormously difficult and time-consuming special effects undertaking — toward extremely different ends.

(11) EARHART’S PLANE? Dr. Robert Ballard is on his way to the site – he hopes. The New York Times has the story: “Finding Amelia Earhart’s Plane Seemed Impossible. Then Came a Startling Clue.”

…Dr. Ballard has always wanted to find the remains of the plane Amelia Earhart was flying when she disappeared in 1937. But he feared the hunt would be yet another in a long line of futile searches.

“You have it in a holding pattern in your head,” said Dr. Ballard, founder of the Ocean Exploration Trust. “You’re still saying, ‘No, no, it’s too big a search area.’”

Then, a few years ago, another group of explorers found clues so compelling that Dr. Ballard changed his mind. Now, not only is he certain he knows where the plane is, he has set course for a remote atoll in the Pacific island nation of Kiribati to recover it.

If his expedition succeeds, he’ll not only solve one of the enduring mysteries of the 20th century. The 77-year-old explorer will also be transferring his legacy of discovery to a new generation of oceanic detectives.

Until recently, Dr. Ballard accepted the Navy’s version of Earhart’s fate: On July 2, 1937, near the end of their round-the-world flight, the aviator and her navigator, Fred Noonan, vanished over the Pacific. After a lengthy and costly search, the Navy concluded on July 18, 1937, that the two died shortly after crashing into the ocean.

But in 2012, an old friend presented Dr. Ballard with a startling alternative….

(12) HERE WE GO AGAIN. NPR explains how “With Congressional Blessing, Space Force Is Closer To Launch”.

It started as a joke.

Early last year, President Trump riffed on an idea he called “Space Force” before a crowd of Marines in San Diego.

It drew laughs, but the moment was a breakthrough for a plan that had languished for nearly 20 years.

“I said maybe we need a new force, we’ll call it the Space Force,” Trump said at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar in March 2018. “And I was not really serious. Then I said, ‘What a great idea, maybe we’ll have to do that.'”

But now, under a new name and with Congress’ support, Space Force is closer to becoming a new military reality. It would be the first new military service in more than 70 years.

In January 2001, a special commission chaired by former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said space needed to become a top national security priority. But the 9/11 terrorist attacks derailed those plans.

Since that time, military leaders, lawmakers and experts have warned that new resources were needed in space to get ahead of a potential, hostile nation setting out to destroy a U.S. satellite. Such a move could threaten our everyday lives, from our cell phones to the electric grid to the military’s ability to launch nuclear weapons.

As a result, proponents argue that the U.S. has fallen behind and needs to upgrade an existing Air Force office focused on space to become an official service.

(13) “BIRDS DO IT…” BBC reports “Berlin gay penguins adopt abandoned egg”.

Two male penguins at Berlin Zoo have been caring for an abandoned egg since July in their long quest to become parents.

The same-sex couple, Skipper and Ping, are keen to have a chick of their own, and have even been known to “try to hatch fish and stones”, spokesman Maximilian Jäger told the Berliner Zeitung newspaper.

He said the two king penguins adopted the egg, which had been abandoned by the sole female of the species at the zoo, and are “behaving like model parents, taking turns to keep the egg warm” by nestling it on their feet under a flap of belly skin.

The are now doing their best to protect their precious charge from jealous rivals, after a little encouragement from their human guardians.

(14) CONIC SECTION. Got to love the new art for next year’s Gallifrey One convention. Baskin-Robbins meets the TARDIS!

(15) GEICO’S EXCELLENT ADVENTURE. A time portal-themed commercial for GEICO insurance.

For her science fair project, Sophie creates a wormhole which release figures from the past like Abraham Lincoln.

[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, Chip Hitchcock, Errolwi, John King Tarpinian, Michael Toman, Martin Morse Wooster, Mike Kennedy, JJ, Carl Slaughter, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Rob Thornton.]