Pixel Scroll 2/21/24 Born Of Scroll And Pixel?

(1) NOT A NEW PHENOMENON. [Item by Anne Marble.] If the article quoted in Seanan McGuire’s thread is any indication, the people marketing “romantasy” seem to think they’re the first to publish fantasy novels for women. Or maybe they know better — but they don’t care because they’re trying to market romantasy/romantic fantasy.  Bluesky thread starts here.

(2) WELCOME TO DYSTOPIA. Like Abigail Nussbaum says in her headline: “The 2023 Hugo Awards: Somehow, It Got Worse” at Asking the Wrong Questions.

… I’m going to say this again, because it is so shocking that it seems to have taken a lot of people some time to grasp the enormity of it: hundreds, perhaps even thousands of valid, legal nominating ballots were dropped from the final nominating stats, apparently under the pretext of having represented a slate, even though slates are perfectly legal under the Hugo rules. This was done on the orders of the Hugo administrator, with apparently no outside input or discussion, and appears to have elicited so little response from the Hugo team that they are casually mentioning it as if it’s nothing. If these numbers are correct, it’s entirely possible that the whole Hugo ballot should have looked completely different, and that none of the eventual winners in the fiction categories should have even been nominated.

What this means is that the entire 2023 Hugo scandal is something completely different from what we’ve understood it as during the last month. Appalling as it is, the choice to screen English-language nominees for ideological compatibility may, in fact, be a sideshow to the real scandal, which is that hundreds of Chinese voters have been disenfranchised. And—barring even more revelations—this disenfranchisement cannot be blamed on PRC sensibilities and censorship. I truly doubt that it was in the interest of China, or the Chinese business interests who took over Worldcon, to remove Chinese-language nominees from last year’s Hugo ballot. This decision came from the American and Canadian staffers who made up the English-language Hugo team, many of them Worldcon volunteers of long standing.

In this context, it is infuriating to recall just how quickly the response to our original sense of what this scandal was turned to anti-democratic measures and calls to limit the power of rank-and-file Worldcon members. “Elections have consequences!” crowed the people who are still pissed they weren’t allowed to steal the site selection vote in 2021, while others called to limit site selection to those with “skin in the game”—read, those with the wherewithal to travel to US-based conventions. But as it turns out, the call was coming from inside the house. This was never a China problem. It’s an us problem. If the allegations that are now emerging claiming that McCarty has behaved this way in the past, and also harassed other Worldcon staffers, are to be believed (and there is certainly more than enough reason to believe them at this point), it’s a profound failure on the part of Worldcon and its membership to police toxic members, which has now blown up in all our faces….

(3) TCHAIKOVSKY’S STATEMENT ABOUT 2023 HUGO. His Children of Time was announced as winner of the 2023 Best Series Hugo, however, after all the revelations “Adrian Tchaikovsky Will No Longer Cite His 2023 Hugo”.

There are many reasonable points of view about how to deal with the awards. File 770’s goal is to support and respect the recipients’ decisions.

Another author, Samantha Mills, recently made a decision comparable to Tchaikovsky’s, in a blog post titled “’Rabbit Test’ unwins the Hugo”

(4) THE WHOLE WORLD IS WATCHING. The Hugo Awards scandal has even made it into Sweden’s Dagens Nyheter – “Litteraturpris valde bort kinesiska författare”. The article is behind a paywall, though that’s honestly only a problem if you read Swedish.

(5) RAH VS. PKD. Giant Freakin Robot, in “The Sci-Fi Master Whose Work Has Been Ignored By Hollywood, And That Needs To Change”, feels Robert A. Heinlein deserves the kind of cinematic attention given to Philip K. Dick. (Survey says – *bzzzt*! “Wrong!”)

…Hollywood has had an ongoing love affair with the works of Phillip K. Dick for decades now. Sometimes it’s a healthy relationship, giving us masterworks such as Blade Runner. Sometimes it’s downright abusive when it produces flicks like Screamers or Paycheck. And sometimes it splits the difference and serves up enjoyable silliness such as Total Recall.

Still, as many times as the movies have returned to Dick’s catalog, you’d think he was the only SF writer out there. We all know better, of course, and pretty much any SF fan has their dream list of books they’d love to see brought to the silver screen.

If Hollywood really wants to freshen things up, they should take a closer look at the work of Robert A. Heinlein….

(6) BANNED FROM THE HIGHWAY. [Item by Dann.] Remember when non-genre magazines used to publish SFF stories?

Every automobile begins as the sparkle in someone’s eye. In 1981, Neil Peart and his Rush bandmates introduced the world to a Red Barchetta. Saved in an old white-haired uncle’s barn. A relic from before the Motor Law being chased down by gleaming alloy air cars before being saved by a one-lane bridge

But before that, it was an old MGB roadster. Rendered obsolete by wave after wave of modern automobile safety standards had made surviving car crashes not only likely but predictable. The drivers of the newly designed cars expected to walk away from accidents unscathed. As a result, drivers of these Modern Safety Vehicles began targeting older vehicles leaving them in mangled heaps. Those driving older cars were likely to be left in a similarly mangled condition. The price for driving a classic. And so the driver of the old MGB engages in a race for his life pursued by a pair of MSVs.

The story was “A Nice Morning Drive“. It was written by Richard S. Foster and first published in the November 1973 issue of Road & Track magazine. Neil Peart had encountered the story and was inspired to re-tell it in a more distant future where automobiles were banned. It appeared in 1981 on the quintessential RUSH album, Moving Pictures as the second track, “Red Barchetta“.

The band had tried to contact Richard, but R&T no longer had his current address. They did add a credit note referencing the original story in the liner notes.

It was many years later before a friend pointed out that Neil had been inspired by Richard’s story. And it was a few years after that when Richard began corresponding with Neil. The two eventually planned a motorcycle ride along the East Coast. It turns out that they both owned the same model motorcycle, the BMW R1200GS.

As a footnote, Moving Pictures came out in my junior year of high school when I took an advanced composition class. At some point, a red car entered into the zeitgeist of my classmates. The model would shift to suit the moods and tastes of various authors. Sometimes it was only glimpsed under a protective tarp. Other times it would it would fly along country roads kicking up a stream of fall leaves. Our automobile appreciations lasted about a month before our teacher put a firm but kindly end to our vehicular ruminations.

(7) BACK IN ACTION. Nancy Collins’ February 19 update to her GoFundMe backers is good news indeed: “Fundraiser by Nancy Collins : What Doesn’t Kill Me Leaves Me With Medical Bills”.

I want to take a moment to thank all of you once again for the great kindness and generosity you have shown me in the recent weeks and also update you on my current status and plans.

This coming weekend (February 23rd-25th) I will be a guest at Pensacon 2024 in Pensacola, FL. My doctor says I’m in good enough health to travel as long as I continue to pace myself and take my meds and supplements. And, to be blunt, I can’t afford to pass up what is likely my only comic con appearance for the foreseeable future. So if any of you who have donated are at the convention this coming weekend, please stop by so I can thank you in person. My good friend, Adam–who is the one who talked me into going to the ER instead of gutting it out another 24 hours–will be driving me there and back, as well as helping set-up and run my merchandise table for the weekend, so I have reliable support with me.

I have 3 more weeks, more or less, of blood thinners twice a day ahead of me before I get an idea of whether or not the blood clots were a one-off event or a symptom of something more serious. Until I know one way or another, I will be staying close to home. However, I still plan to be at the Outer Dark Writer’s Symposium in Atlanta next month, health permitting.

(8) LEE AND MILLER PHOTO. Following yesterday’s announcement of Steve Miller’s death, Andrew Porter sent File 770 his photo of the Steve and Sharon at Book Expo.

(9) MARK MERLINO DIES. Mark Merlino, one of the early founders of organized Anime and Furry fandoms in North America, died February 20 at age 71. He suffered a stroke in December, then was diagnosed with stage 4 liver cancer about two weeks ago. 

Merlino was known for organizing ConFurence, the very first furry convention, which laid the groundwork for the community’s expansion and visibility. His influential role was also recognized in the documentary feature The Fandom, showcasing his significant contributions.

Mark Merlino in 2006.

(10) RICHARD MATHEWS (1944-2024). Scholar Douglas Anderson pays tribute to a colleague in “R.I.P. Richard Mathews (1944-2024)” at Tolkien and Fantasy.

I just googled to see if my old friend Richard Mathews was still the Director of the University of Tampa Press, only to find out that he died last month.

I met him at the 1987 Mythcon in Milwaukee, where we both appeared on a panel on David Lindsay. We found we had many common interests. Richard had published, with Borgo Press, a short book on Tolkien, Lightning from a Clear Sky (1978), and other short books on William Morris and Brian Aldiss. His most notable work was the Twayne volume Fantasy: The Liberation of Imagination (1997; reissued in 2012), which was filled with insights despite the somewhat odd structure of the book (presumably imposed upon him as part of the series it was in). Richard also contributed introductions to some of the William Morris reprints for the Newcastle fantasy series in the 1970s…. 

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY.

[Written by Cat Eldridge.]

Born February 21, 1946 Alan Rickman. (Died 2016.) The first time I saw Alan Rickman was in the decidedly not-genre role of German terrorist leader Hans Gruber in Die Hard, a film that’s still high on my list of great thriller films. Great role for him, too. It was amazingly his first film role.

He would won a BAFTA Award for Best Actor in a Supporting Role for playing the Sheriff of Nottingham in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves. I actually did see that film. No, I’ll never watch again. Simon R. Green’s publicist tells me he made a lot of money for writing the novelization. 

Rickman went on to play the wizard Severus Snape in the Harry Potter series. I can’t say I cared for the character but I don’t think we were supposed to. I never got beyond a hundred pages in the first novel before I gave up reading it, but loved the films. 

While in the film The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the GalaxyWarwick Davis played Marvin, the android who was clinically depressed and in the novels I thought a royal pain in the ass, it was Alan Rickman who actually voiced the character.

He also voiced Absolem, the Caterpillar in an odd version of Alice in Wonderland. Look it up. Trust me, it’s weird.

And yes, I saved the best first last for last which as you already know is his role in the Hugo Award winning Galaxy Quest which is by far his best genre role. Alexander Dane is a Shakesperean actor who resents his character  Dr. Lazarus, the ship’s science officer. His catch phrase? Oh, you know that by heart.

(12) COMICS SECTION.

  • Macanudo shows who really was entitled to say, “How wude!!”

(13) ALL IN THE FOUND FAMILY. [Item by Steven French.] How the story of the ‘Hopkinsville goblins’ led to ET, Gremlins and a bunch of other movies! “The Long, Surprising Legacy of the Hopkinsville Goblins” at Atlas Obscura.

…THE STORY COMES TO US from the local newspaper Kentucky New Era, which, on August 22, 1955, reported strange goings-on the previous night, eight miles north of Hopkinsville, Kentucky. At about 11:00 pm, two cars arrived at the local police station, blasting out of the night filled with at least five adults and several children, all of whom were highly agitated. “We need help,” they told the police. “We’ve been fighting them for nearly four hours.”

Once they’d calmed down enough to talk, they unfurled a strange story. One of the men, Billy Ray Taylor, had been visiting from Pennsylvania. At one point, he went outside to fetch water from the farm’s well. As he walked through the failing light, he saw a circular-shaped object hover through the air before coming to rest in a nearby gully…

… Concerned, Taylor retreated inside and returned with a shotgun to investigate. As he walked into the gloom, a strange, goblin-like thing with glowing eyes appeared and moved toward him. It had “huge eyes,” and hands out of proportion with its body, and looked to be wearing some kind of “metal plate.” Taylor retreated to the house yet again and grabbed a .22 caliber pistol, while Lucky Sutton grabbed a shotgun and joined him.

A creature—whether it was the same one, they didn’t know—appeared in the window, and Sutton unloaded his shotgun at it, blowing out the window screen. When they went outside to see if they’d hit anything, Taylor felt a “huge hand” reach down from the low roof above and grab his hair….

(14) CARVING OUT A PLACE IN SPACE. “Japan to launch world’s first wooden satellite to combat space pollution” – the Guardian has the story.

The LignoSat probe has been built of magnolia wood, which, in experiments carried out on the International Space Station (ISS), was found to be particularly stable and resistant to cracking. Now plans are being finalised for it to be launched on a US rocket this summer.

The timber satellite has been built by researchers at Kyoto University and the logging company Sumitomo Forestry in order to test the idea of using biodegradable materials such as wood to see if they can act as environmentally friendly alternatives to the metals from which all satellites are currently constructed.

“All the satellites which re-enter the Earth’s atmosphere burn and create tiny alumina particles, which will float in the upper atmosphere for many years,” Takao Doi, a Japanese astronaut and aerospace engineer with Kyoto University, warned recently. “Eventually, it will affect the environment of the Earth.”…

(15) IT’S SUN-GRY. The Guardian reports — “Astronomers discover universe’s brightest object – a quasar powered by a black hole that eats a sun a day”. (“Feed me!”)

The brightest known object in the universe, a quasar 500tn times brighter than our sun, was “hiding in plain sight”, researchers say.

Australian scientists spotted a quasar powered by the fastest growing black hole ever discovered. Its mass is about 17bn times that of our solar system’s sun, and it devours the equivalent of a sun a day.

The light from the celestial object travelled for more than 12bn years to reach Earth….

(16) VIDEO OF THE DAY. Animation Magazine encourages readers: “Watch: Prime Video Sneak Peeks ‘The Second Best Hospital in the Galaxy’ in New Clip”. The series debuts February 23.

…In a new exclusive clip shared with Animation Magazine, we get an advance look at the premiere episode. The excerpt features Dr. Klak (Keke Palmer), Dr. Sleech (Stephanie Hsu), Dr. Vlam (Maya Rudolph) and Dr. Plowp (Kieran Culkin). In Season 1, doctors Sleech and Klak take on a highly dangerous and potentially groundbreaking case and, in doing so, put existence itself in jeopardy. (Although considering their dismal personal lives, oblivion might be an improvement.)…

[Thanks to Andrew Porter, John King Tarpinian, Chris Barkley, Taral Wayne, Rich Lynch, Anne Marble, Cat Eldridge, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Steven French, and Mike Kennedy for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Jeff Jones.]

Pixel Scroll 1/22/24 Encounter at Fargo

(1) KUANG ON BABEL’S HUGO INELIGIBILITY. Rebecca F. Kuang decided that saying nothing isn’t an option. “Rebecca F. Kuang: ‘statement’” at Bluesky.

(2) ANOTHER WAY TO RUN A RAILROAD. Answering some writers’ renewed cry that the Hugo Awards be taken away from the Worldcon, Cheryl Morgan has drafted a proposal. It’s explained in “Decoupling the Hugos” at Cheryl’s Mewsings. Morgan’s draft can be downloaded at “Independent-Hugo-Administration.pdf”.

In amongst all of the discussion as to what to do about the Chengdu Hugo issue has been one suggestion that can actually be implemented, albeit over a number of years. That is decoupling Hugo Award Administration from the host Worldcon, so that the laws of the host country cannot interfere with the voting process….

… WSFS already has an organization called the Mark Protection Committee (MPC), which is responsible for maintaining the service marks that WSFS owns (in particular “Hugo Award” and the logo). I suggest renaming this the Independent Hugo Award Administration Committee (IHAAC) and giving it, rather than Worldcon, the job of administering the voting process. The IHAAC would recruit experienced administrators in much the same way that Worldcon does, but there would be a lot more consistency from year to year.

Worldcon would still have the option of staging a Hugo Award ceremony, and creating a distinctive trophy base, but equally it could decline to do that and pass the job back to the IHAAC.

Kevin [Standlee] and I cannot take this proposal forward ourselves. Kevin is a member of the MPC, and I effectively work for them in maintaining the WSFS websites, so we both have a vested interest. Our involvement could easily be portrayed as a power grab. But we are happy to provide help and advice to anyone who does want to take this forward at Glasgow….

(3) DON’T MAKE CHANGES THAT TAKE VOLUNTEERS FOR GRANTED. Abigail Nussbaum has a remarkably insightful post about the current crisis: “The 2023 Hugo Awards: Now With an Asterisk” at Asking the Wrong Questions.

… Even taking this most charitable view of events, however, there comes a point where honest mistakes corrupt a result too thoroughly to be distinguishable from malice, and that’s before we even get into those three still-unexplained ineligibility rulings. Unless Chengdu steps forward with more information, there is, unfortunately, no avoiding the conclusion that the 2023 Hugo results are irreparably tainted.

On the matter of those three disqualifications, the assumption that many people are making—and which, again, seems like the most plausible conclusion until and unless Chengdu starts answering questions—is that all three were struck off for political reasons. This might mean outright government interference, or someone on the Hugo team complying in advance, or an independent but politically-motivated actor among the award’s administrators striking off work they don’t approve of. This may also explain the silence from the Hugo team, who may fear reprisals towards themselves or their teammates. At this point it is possible that we will never know the whole story of what happened to the 2023 Hugo Awards. Which means the important question before us is how to move forward.

That question is complicated by the erratic, increasingly rickety superstructure of the Hugos and the Worldcon as a whole. Put simply, there is no Worldcon organization. Each convention is its own corporate entity charged with holding the convention and administering the Hugos, and bound only by the WSFS constitution. Said constitution is discussed and amended in the annual Business Meeting, a sclerotic, multi-day affair administered under rules that seem designed to baffle new participants and slow change to a creeping pace. What this means, among other things, is that there is no actual oversight over any individual Worldcon’s behavior, and no mechanism to claw back either the convention or the Hugos if it appears that they are being mismanaged.

It’s not at all surprising that the reaction of many people upon learning these facts, and especially in the present context, is to immediately leap to the conclusion that this entire system should be scrapped and replaced with a centralized authority. This, I think, is to ignore some very basic facts: the Worldcon is a fully volunteer-run organization. The free labor that goes into administering it, and the Hugos specifically, probably runs to tens, perhaps hundreds, of thousands of dollars in value. The idea that one can simply erect a super-organization under those same conditions is hard to imagine….

(4) LECKIE ON THE HUGOS. If you happen to be on Bluesky, Ann Leckie has a thread with a lively discussion. It begins:

(5) MORE CHINESE SOCIAL MEDIA RESPONSES. [Item by Ersatz Culture.] Some more anonymized online reactions to social media posts about the Hugo nomination report, some of which are based on coverage of the continued Anglosphere reactions, such as John Scalzi’s blog post about Babel.

English translations are all via Google Translate unless otherwise indicated, with minor edits or commentary in square parentheses.  Some of the smileys haven’t come through, so bear in mind that some of these should be read in a sarcastic tone.

怎么感觉雨果奖次次都有瓜

Why does it feel like the Hugo’s have a melon every time? [Note: “melon” is Chinese slang – maybe “drama” is a reasonable translation in this context?  Also, this translation is via DeepL; Google Translate comes up with a less literal result, but which I think is incorrect]

2023这次应该是“中国雨果奖”吧。

This time in 2023 it should be the “China Hugo Award”. 

雨果奖到底怎么了

What happened to the Hugo Awards?

看到这新闻心里没有一丝波澜,甚至觉的这事发生在这里太正常辣,出现正面新闻才令人惊讶呢。外国人对真实的种花家还是了解太少

When I saw this news, I didn’t feel any emotion at all. I even thought it was too normal for this to happen here. It was surprising to see positive news. Foreigners still know too little about real flower growers [Note: “flower growers” = China]

太可惜了

What a pity

然而巴别塔还在国内出中译了,就很神奇 很迷惑

However, [Tower of] Babel has been translated into Chinese in China, which is amazing and confusing

到底为什么呀怎么感觉这么大的事情国内平台都没几个声??

Why on earth do you feel that there are not many domestic platforms talking about such a big thing? ?

因为雨果奖怎么样并不算大事,国内的雨果奖获奖作品能给媒体带来多少收入才是大事

[replying to previous comment] Because it’s not a big deal how the Hugo Award is, but how much income the domestic Hugo Award-winning works can bring to the media is a big deal

真实了,我记得之前国内作者获得雨果奖的时候大小媒体都在采访

[A further reply] It’s real. I remember when a domestic author won the Hugo Award, all the media were interviewing him.

我推测并不是CN康的审查而是主办方自身某种私心(虽然我不知道具体是什么动机),要知道《巴别塔》本身有一种强烈的“早产的列宁主义”的意味,在这边不要太正确。当然,我坚决拥护斯卡尔齐老师对办会章程的建议!

I speculate that it is not CN Kang’s censorship but some selfish motives of the organizer (although I don’t know the specific motivation). You must know that “[Tower of] Babel” itself has a strong sense of “premature Leninism”. Don’t be too correct. Of course, I firmly support Mr. Scalzi’s suggestion on the rules of the conference!  [I’m not sure what “CN康” is, Wikipedia says “CN” is “virgin”, but that doesn’t seem to make any sense in this context.]

????所以呢?在其他地方举办世界科幻大会没有按国外的审美标准就是存在疑问及不适合的?

????So what? Is it questionable and inappropriate to hold the World Science Fiction Convention elsewhere if it does not follow foreign aesthetic standards?

毕竟是有关国家信誉的大事,别只写获奖不写争议吧咱就说

After all, it is a major matter related to the credibility of the country. Don’t just write about the awards and not the controversies. Let’s just say  [This comment cced in half-a-dozen news organizations, some of which are ones that I recognize from earlier coverage of the con, I think some of which was linked in prior Scrolls]

《巴别塔》批判殖民主义,还以英国为背景,咋不猜是英国通过某些手段干预了提名[smiley]

“[Tower of] Babel” criticizes colonialism and is set in the United Kingdom. Why don’t you guess that the United Kingdom interfered with the nomination through certain means [smiley]

去年看的巴别塔,前不久看的Yellowface,Rebecca F. Kuang就是很灵秀啊,23年雨果奖怎么搞的评委最清楚啦

I [read] [Tower of] Babel last year and Yellowface not long ago. Rebecca F. Kuang is so smart. The judges of the [2023] Hugo Awards know best

《巴别塔》明明是歌颂中国人民反殖民主义的努力的啊,被雨果奖错过太可惜了

“[Tower of] Babel” obviously praises the Chinese people’s anti-colonial efforts. It would be a pity to miss out on the Hugo Award.

这,别人也倒罢了,她不是参与过联名抵制成都科幻大会吗?现在觉得自己被除名还应该给个具体原因了?

[Re. Xiran Jay Zhao] This is just for others. Didn’t [they] participate in a joint boycott of the Chengdu Science Fiction Conference? Now you feel like you should [be given] a specific reason for being removed?

赵希然,写武则天开机甲的那个华裔女科幻作家。她说唐代是中国的荡妇时代。

Zhao Xiran, the Chinese science fiction writer who wrote about Wu Zetian’s mecha. [They] said that the Tang Dynasty was the era of sluts in China. [referring to this Tweet]

Kuang特别棒 熬夜读完了1/4的巴别塔

Kuang is awesome. I stayed up late and read 1/4 of Tower of Babel.

(6) MAP CANNON. Yesterday’s China roundup by Ersatz Culture included the term “map cannon”, for which made an approximate English translation. Thanks to Gareth Jelley for finding a Baidu Encylopedia article that explains it in detail.

The map cannon originally refers to a map attack type weapon in the “Super Robot Wars” series. It first appeared in the “Second Super Robot Wars” in the Magic Machine God’s Sebastian , and was later used to refer to some mass destruction weapons. weapons or magic. On the Internet, the extended meaning of “map cannon” is the act of verbally attacking a certain group. On the Internet, it often refers to geographical attackers , or the behavior of a few people is used to deny the behavior of a certain group.

Since in many anime works, the map cannon exists as a weapon with great power and large area of ​​destruction, so in some forums (such as NGA), the map cannon is extended to large-scale indiscriminate deletion of posts, banning IDs, and punishing users. Behaviors such as this also often refer to some moderators who often delete and ban people on a large scale and indiscriminately.

It can also express prejudice against certain things. There is often a label that summarizes the whole based on the characteristics of the part. Prejudice against different groups of people will always exist. However, there are also some “facialization” who are willing to be accepted by others – if they think they are at the top of the discrimination chain. The rise of the Internet has redefined the standards of “us” and “them” for the first time.

(7) COMIC RELIEF KERFUFFLE. Doctor Who fandom blew up yesterday. The first one got almost 300K views. The second is one of the more entertaining replies.

(8) YOUR SF TAXONOMY. Horst Smokowski lists “All the Types of Science Fiction”: at McSweeney’s Internet Tendency. There are fifty of them. The first three are:

1. Check this place out, it’s dope

2. Technology solves problems ???? (future good)

3. Technology creates problems ???? (future bad)

(9) EXTREME SUFFRAGE. Looking for more sff awards you can vote for? (Oh, you glutton for punishment!) Rocket Stack Rank has a roundup here: “SF/F Ballots For Stories From 2023”.

Here are links to ballots for various SF/F awards, 5 that are open to all, and 4 that are open to members of a convention or association. Highlighted awards are currently open for voting.

The magazine-specific awards come with a longlist link to all stories published by each magazine, with blurbs to help you remember the ones you’ve read and scores to guide further reading….

(10) FREE READ. Marie Brennan’s “Embers Burning in the Night” is a free-to-read story at Sunday Morning Transport, offered to encourage new subscriptions.

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY.

[Written by Cat Eldridge.]

Born January 22, 1970 Alex Ross, 54. So Alex Ross, eh? A fantastic, in all senses of that word, comic book illustrator and writer whose first work with comic book writer Kurt Busiek, the four-issue The Marvels for, er, Marvel Comics would been a highlight of anyone else’s career.

Not Ross though.  Another four-issue run, Kingdom Come, this time for DC, under their Elseworlds imprint, told of an aleternate DC  universe that might have happened. One of my favorite DC stories. It was written by Mark Waid and him. 

Yes, he can do pulp as he illustrated the John Layman written series, Red Sonja/Claw:  the Unconquered Devil’s Hands,  that  was co-published with Dynamite Entertainment where Red Sonja and Claw, a  cursed warrior I had never heard of before this, had a series of adventures that showed Red Sonja’s assets very well. 

He’s just not interested in the costumed superheroes. Over at his website, you’ll find the prints he’s done for the Universal Monsters – Dracula, Wolf Man and so forth, they’re all there. The prints look fantastic bad they can be yours if your pocket change is deep. 

Here’s my favorite piece of art by him. 

(12) COMICS SECTION.

  • Frazz is for editors.
  • Last Kiss breaks the fourth wall.
  • Annie mentions science fiction, and also might be a reference to this B.C. strip.

(13) THE SGT. MAJOR’S MARSCON REPORT. [Item by Dann.] Mike Burke is a retired US Marine Corps Sergeant Major.  Mike operated under the nom de plume (or perhaps nom de guerre) of “America’s Sergeant Major” for several years.  He has led Marines in peace and in war.  Since his retirement, he has written fiction and nonfiction for the US Naval Institute.  The USNI is a non-profit organization with the purpose of providing an “independent forum for those who dare to read, think, speak, and write in order to advance the professional, literary, and scientific understanding of sea power and other issues critical to global security.”

Sgt. Maj. Burke has started writing on Substack as Spearman Burke and is a self-professed “noob” at the profession of writing.

He recently attended Marscon in Norfolk, VA and has a report from the con.  He was able to meet Ben Yalow, David Weber, Kacey Ezell, and a few other notable authors.  One of Kacey’s stories was what inspired Mike to pursue his next career as a genre author.  He scored a contract to submit a short story for an anthology at the con.

(14) CRIME AND PUNISHMENT. AP News says “Reformed mobster who stole Judy Garland’s ruby slippers from ‘Oz’ wanted one last score”. Now they’re about to drop the big house on him.

The aging reformed mobster who has admitted stealing a pair of ruby slippers that Judy Garland wore in “The Wizard of Oz” gave into the temptation of “one last score” after an old mob associate led him to believe the famous shoes must be adorned with real jewels to justify their $1 million insured value.

Terry Jon Martin’s defense attorney finally revealed the 76-year-old’s motive for the 2005 theft from the Judy Garland Museum in the late actor’s hometown of Grand Rapids, Minnesota, in a new memo filed ahead of his Jan. 29 sentencing in Duluth, Minnesota.

The FBI recovered the shoes in 2018 when someone else tried to claim an insurance reward on them, but Martin wasn’t charged with stealing them until last year….

(15) ROBERT BLOCH WEBSITE UPDATE. Jim Nemeth of the Robert Bloch Official Website announced a major update.

At the (fantastic) suggestion and immense help of Mr. David J Schow (DJS) we now have a new Gallery page, showing just about every/all sides of our beloved Bob.

(16) THE REMNANT OF HUMANITY IS COMING HOME. Friends of Fred Lerner will be excited to hear that his book In Memoriam will be released by Fantastic Books And Gray Rabbit Publications on July 2.

David Bernstein is a 17-year-old member of the Remnant of Terra, the descendants of the 2,000 people who survived the Cataclysm that destroyed human life on Earth. For two centuries the Remnant has lived among the Wyneri, who rescued the few survivors and brought them to their world. Although the Wyneri are physically and psychologically very similar to Terrans, the two species interact only when they must. The Remnant earn their keep among their alien hosts, but otherwise remain apart, devoting themselves to preserving the cultural heritage of Terra.

David, however, is fascinated with the Wyneri and their culture, an interest shared by none of his contemporaries. Attending a Wyneri performance he meets a Wyneri girl his own age, and he and Harari strike up a taboo friendship.

While David learns about his Terran heritage, he feels very much alone in trying to also learn about the history of the Terran-Wyneri relationship. Violent Wyneri xenophobia drives David to intensify his studies, and to dig into the mysteries surrounding the Cataclysm, the rescue, and the ensuing two centuries of cover-ups. He begins to suspect a long-lived cabal that has spent the years working in secret, preparing for a return to Earth.

Harari’s murder crystallizes David’s need to explore the Terran-Wyneri history. Her posthumous message proving that the Cataclysm was caused by rogue Wyneri military personnel leads David to the Remnant’s leaders, who confirm it as genuine. Their conclusion? The time has come for Terrans to separate from the Wyneri. They enlist David’s help to persuade the Remnant to return to Earth, and to encourage the Wyneri to help them.

(17) RED PLANET WINGS. “Nasa plans to fly giant solar-powered Mars plane to look for water on Red Planet” reports The Independent.

Nasa has received its first set of funding to develop a giant airplane that could fly high in the planet’s atmosphere and look for signs of water on the Red Planet.

The solar-powered vehicle, called Mars Aerial and Ground Intelligent Explorer or Maggie, is expected to fly in the Martian atmosphere with vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) capability similar to Nasa’s pioneering Ingenuity Mars helicopter.

With fully charged batteries, the Mars airplane could fly at an altitude of 1,000m for about 180km with its total range over a year on Mars expected to be over 16,000 km, the space agency said earlier this month.

Using the aircraft, Nasa hopes to conduct three studies on the Red Planet’s atmosphere and geophysical features, including the hunt for water, research on the origin of the planet’s weak magnetic field as well as tracing the elusive source of methane signals on Mars….

(18) HIDDEN HISTORY. Constellation comes to Apple TV+ on February 21.

“Constellation” stars Noomi Rapace as Jo — an astronaut who returns to Earth after a disaster in space — only to discover that key pieces of her life seem to be missing. The action-packed space adventure is an exploration of the dark edges of human psychology, and one woman’s desperate quest to expose the truth about the hidden history of space travel and recover all that she has lost.

(19) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] Isaac Arthurs has just had his monthly sci-fi weekend and asks who would win: robot or alien?

We often worry that humanity might be attacked by Aliens or AI, but which is worse and which would win in a battle between them?

[Thanks to Steven French, Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, John King Tarpinian, Andrew (not Werdna), Gareth Jelley, Dann, Rich Lynch, Daniel Dern, Chris Barkley, Cat Eldridge, and SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Jim Henley.]

Pixel Scroll 9/28/23 I’ll Scroll What She’s Scrolling

(1) SFWA GIVERS FUND GRANT DEADLINE OCTOBER 1. During SFWA’s recent annual business meeting, Chief Financial Officer Erin M. Hartshorn gave an update on the current amounts in each of the organization’s benevolent funds: $388,000 for the Emergency Medical Fund, $66,000 for the Legal Fund, and $103,000 for the Givers Fund, which will give away $30,000 worth of grants this fall. Applications for grants from the Givers Fund are due October 1. 

(2) RUSHDIE TO SPEAK. On October 21, Salman Rushdie will make one of his first in-person appearances since being severely injured in a stabbing attack last August, at Frankfurter Buchmesse: “Salman Rushdie Appears at Frankfurt’s Saturday Gala” reports Publishing Perspectives.

…This program, supported by ARD, ZDF, and 3sat, precedes the October 22 presentation to Rushdie of the Peace Prize of the German Book Trade, as Publishing Perspectives readers know. The award carries a purse of €25,000 (US$26,389).

In a statement today, Frankfurt president and CEO Juergen Boos  has said, “I was very moved that Salman Rushdie is not missing the opportunity to meet the audience in Frankfurt in person, in addition to attending the award ceremony for the Peace Prize….

…As you’ll remember, the stabbing attack on Rushdie at the Chautauqua Institution in upstate New York occurred on August 12, 2022. Dealing with severe injuries and the preparation of his new book, Rushdie has made very few public appearances since then, one of them in May in a videotaped message from New York for the British Book Awards….

(3) HOW NETFLIX DVD WORKED. [Item by Dan Bloch.] Tomorrow is, of course, Netflix DVDs last day, and there are of course lots of articles about this, all saying more or less the same thing (“Netflix DVD, we’ll miss you, even though we canceled our subscription a long time ago”). This one is different: “Netflix’s DVD service shuts down: here’s the complex tech behind it” at The Verge. It’s a longish but very interesting article about how the technology in their shipping hubs works.

… Bronway custom-designed a massive disc robot called the “automated rental return machine,” or ARRM 3660. The ARRM, as Netflix employees simply called it, was an assembly-line-sized machine consisting of 6,500 parts total. At its center were two carousels, housed behind glass doors, that were loaded up with incoming mail and then used pneumatic arms to perform all of the things people had done before: slice open returned envelopes, unpack discs, inspect them, clean them, add them to a facility’s inventory system, and get them ready to go out of the door again — basically, every job short of sorting discs and stuffing envelopes for the next customer. 

The robotics company sold 180 of these machines to Netflix in 2010, and they were deployed in stages across all of its hubs. The labor savings alone were enormous. “The hubs were a spectacular number of people,” recalled Johnson. “You could replace about five humans opening the discs with one machine.”

Once a hub was fully automated, it really only required a handful of people to operate. Warehouse workers would arrive at 2AM each day to flip on the machines and process tens of thousands of DVDs in time to deliver them to the Postal Service later that morning. “It was just one person per machine,” Gallion said. “You’d have one person running the stuffer, one person running the sorter, one person running the rental return machine.”

But automation wasn’t just about labor costs alone. Machines were also a lot better at their job, which led to less frustration for Netflix subscribers. Customers who borrowed entire seasons of a TV show would frequently mix up discs — they might put season 7 disc one of The Simpsons in the sleeve for season 7 disc two.

Netflix hub employees were supposed to catch those mix-ups and make sure that the next customer didn’t accidentally receive the wrong disc. “But humans aren’t very good at that,” Johnson said. Machines, on the other hand, aren’t fooled by similar-looking titles. “If barcode A doesn’t match barcode B, then clearly, you’ve got a mismatch,” he said…

(4) PLUMBING THE ABSTRUSE. Timothy B. Lee and Sean Trott promise: “Large language models, explained with a minimum of math and jargon” at Understanding AI.

… If you know anything about this subject, you’ve probably heard that LLMs are trained to “predict the next word,” and that they require huge amounts of text to do this. But that tends to be where the explanation stops. The details of how they predict the next word is often treated as a deep mystery.

One reason for this is the unusual way these systems were developed. Conventional software is created by human programmers who give computers explicit, step-by-step instructions. In contrast, ChatGPT is built on a neural network that was trained using billions of words of ordinary language.

As a result, no one on Earth fully understands the inner workings of LLMs. Researchers are working to gain a better understanding, but this is a slow process that will take years—perhaps decades—to complete.

Still, there’s a lot that experts do understand about how these systems work. The goal of this article is to make a lot of this knowledge accessible to a broad audience. We’ll aim to explain what’s known about the inner workings of these models without resorting to technical jargon or advanced math….

(5) CHENGDU WORLDCON UPDATE. [Item by Ersatz Culture.]

  • Day tickets still not available

After the closure of regular ticket sales – on the con site, and on the damai.cn vendor site – the day tickets that were promised exactly a week ago — https://en.chengduworldcon.com/news3_35_95_32_66_76_50/151.html — have not yet materialized.  Here’s a (Chinese language) Weibo post from File 770 commenter Adaoli summarizing the situation:  https://weibo.com/5726230680/Nllv9A08q

I’m not sure if this is a new announcement, but I don’t recall seeing any mention of it prior to today.  Douban – which can be compared to both IMDB and Goodreads – has a listing for “Stellar Concerto”, which features stories from the three Worldcon GoHs.  The listing indicates there are new stories in this anthology, although I assume that means they are new in translation, but have been previously published in their original language.  The publisher is the Chengdu-based 8 Light Minutes Culture, which has a few staff on the Chengdu concom.

The October issue’s cover feature is about SF, although it doesn’t seem to have an explicit Worldcon connection, on the cover at least.  There are photos of some of the interior content, which seems to involve at least a couple of people on the concom, at this Weibo post: https://weibo.com/1662229842/NlnnPvnGo

The HelloChengdu Weibo account linked to a Sichuan Daily post from a couple of days ago with a 2-minute Worldcon-related video that has CG renderings of the venue that I don’t think I’ve seen before.  Although given that the con is ~20 days away, I’d have thought the time for CG renders over real-world footage should have long passed.

This one is way beyond my negligible language skills – and I think it might be a repost of something previously released – but I believe it goes over the Puppies stuff (29:43 and later), Marko Kloos declining his Hugo nomination (from 36:26) and the resulting elevation of The Three-Body Problem to be a finalist.,  Other people/things shown or namechecked include: VD and LC (30:02, VD numerous times after that), Zoe Quinn (from 32:39), GRRM’s Puppygate blog post (37:33), N. K. Jemisin (40:30), Robert Silverberg (45:24), the “GRRM Can Fuck Off Into the Sun” blog post (48:00).

This isn’t something that most File 770 readers are going to need or want to watch, but I think it’s a good illustration that Chinese fans aren’t ignorant of stuff that happens in the Anglosphere.

(6) SOMETHING MISSING. Abigail Nussbaum voices the opinion that Terry Pratchett: A Life With Footnotes by Rob Wilkins” has a lot of deficiencies as a biography at Asking the Wrong Questions.

…The core problem of A Life With Footnotes is one that felt easy to predict before even turning the first page. Terry Pratchett, to be perfectly blunt, did not live a particularly interesting life. He was the precocious son of working class parents in post-war England, who fell in love with science fiction and fantasy in his teens, fooled around with writing them with only moderate success, did some creative-adjacent salaried work (journalism, then PR), and then hit on a concept that ballooned into a world-class success with remarkable speed, after which he was very rich and very successful for the rest of his life. In other words, the life story of quite a few midcentury authors (give or take the stratospheric success). What set Pratchett apart, like most writers, was what was going on in his head….

But then, one of the most startling choices in A Life With Footnotes is how little it has to say about Pratchett the author….

Wilkins’s focus seems, instead, to be on the business side of things….

While I agree with Nussbaum’s description of what is and isn’t there, Pratchett was unable to complete his autobiography before he died so my own focus is on the book we have thanks to Rob Wilkins’ efforts, not the book we wanted.

(7) FROM PIXELS TO BRICK AND MORTAR. The New York Times says “Instagram’s Favorite Bookseller Is Ready to Go Offline”.

For Idea, a rare-book dealer and publisher in London, the dwindling of print has never been much of an issue. If anything, it has been a boon for the understated business that David Owen and Angela Hill have built, largely on the back of Instagram’s early infrastructure.

But now, Idea is navigating yet another swerve — the death of the Instagram timeline. In 2021 the social media platform moved from a chronological feed to a more opaque algorithm, which boosted videos. That meant less exposure for posts of, for example, vintage fashion books, which in turn made book selling on Instagram something of a slog.

And even though Idea has some 500,000 followers — W magazine called it an “Instagram phenomenon” in 2015 — the company is ready to experiment with a fairly antiquated idea that some may consider riskier than print itself: a physical bookstore.

In late September, Idea will open a store spread over three floors of a brick building on Wardour Street, in the London neighborhood of Soho. (The location is also Mr. Owen and Ms. Hill’s current home — they rent in the building — in a district crowded with David Bowie walking tours and lines for a Supreme store nearby.)

“What it really feels like is the perfect answer to all the frustration we’ve had with Instagram for the last couple of years, compared to the absolute joy and wonder we’ve had with it the eight previous to that,” Mr. Owen said.

When Mr. Owen and Ms. Hill started their Instagram account in 2010, it quickly became a popular feed. Glossy scans of their collection — which included issues of Six, a magazine by Commes des Garçons ($3,050); “Pentax Calendar” by Guy Bourdin ($500); and “Fiorucci: The Book” by Eve Babitz ($365) — popped out against a sea of heavily filtered selfies….

(8) MOTE GETS SHOPPED BY UNTITLED.TV. The Chaos Manor Facebook page announced an interest in making series from two Niven/Pournelle books has been expressed by Untitled.

A shopping agreement for a streaming series based on The Mote in Gods Eye and The Gripping Hand has been secured by Untitled.

With the end of the WGA strike, real work has begun to craft and pitch an expected 24+ episode, 3 year story arc.

Questions abounded on how to both streamline and lengthen the proposed series for streaming audiences. Let’s see how Untitled proceeds, now that the clock has started.

When asked Why 3 Arms? Larry Niven explained yesterday that his approach to the initial alien design was inspired by the dual question of why tool makers would need symmetry in their biology if there was limited-to-no gravity. He also posed: Do we need a spine? What if the spine was an evolutionary mistake?

(9) WHAT SIR PAT READS. The New York Times asks the actor about his reading habits in “The Most Novelistic Part That Patrick Stewart Ever Played”. But first – the hook!

“I acted Macbeth for exactly 365 days,” says the actor, whose new memoir is “Making It So.” “The role got into me so deeply it dominated my life at the time and caused me to drink too much alcohol after the performance was over. No other role I have played has affected me so profoundly.”…

…Describe your ideal reading experience (when, where, what, how).

Immediately on waking up I make a cup of Yorkshire Gold with a chocolate digestive and read in bed for half an hour, or more. Always a book. Never a script or emails. This not only wakes me up, it puts me back in the world we are living in and who we are today. Unless there is an urgent reason I do not look at newspaper headlines, or listen to the news until halfway through the morning.

What’s your favorite book no one else has heard of?

You know, I haven’t heard of it either….

(10) MICHAEL GAMBON (1940-2023). Actor Michael Gambon died September 27. Variety profiles his career in its obituary: “Michael Gambon Dies: Harry Potter’s Dumbledore Was 82”.

Michael Gambon, the Irish-English actor best known for his role as Hogwarts headmaster Albus Dumbledore in six of the “Harry Potter” movies, has died, Variety has confirmed. He was 82.

“We are devastated to announce the loss of Sir Michael Gambon,” his family said in a statement. “Beloved husband and father, Michael died peacefully in hospital with his wife Anne and son Fergus at his bedside, following a bout of pneumonia.”

While it is easier for a character actor, often working in supporting roles, to rack up a large number of credits than it is for lead actors, Gambon was enormously prolific, with over 150 TV or film credits in an era when half that number would be impressive and unusual — and this for a man whose body of stage work was also prodigious.

He played two real kings of England: King Edward VII in “The Lost Prince” (2003) and his son, King George V, in “The King’s Speech” (2010); Winston Churchill in his later years in the 2015 ITV/PBS “Masterpiece” telepic “Churchill’s Secret”; U.S. President Lyndon Johnson in John Frankenheimer’s 2002 HBO telepic “Path to War,” for which he was Emmy-nominated; and a fictional British prime minister in “Ali G Indahouse,” also in 2002. And as Hogwarts headmaster in the “Harry Potter” movies, he presided over the proceedings therein. In 2016, he served as the narrator for the Coen brothers’ paean to golden-age Hollywood, “Hail! Caesar.”…

And you can see a photo of Michael Gambon, circa 1970, from when he was invited by producer Cubby Broccoli to test for James Bond at the Tim Burton Wiki.

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born September 28, 1913 Ellis Peters. Nom de plume of the writer of The Cadfael Chronicles,which I’ll admit I broke my rule of never watching a video adaption of a print series that I like. Derek Jacobi as Cadfael was damn perfect. She is here because she was the writer of two excellent ghost novels, The City Lies Four-Square and By This Strange Fire, under her real name of Edith Pargeter. (Died 1995.)
  • Born September 28, 1932 Michael G. Coney. British-born writer who spent the last half of his life in Canada. He’s best remembered for his Hello Summer, Goodbye novelI’m very fond of The Celestial Steam Locomotive and Gods of the Greataway which might be set on what could be Vancouver Island. His only Award was from the BSFA for Brontomek!, one of his Amorphs Universe works, although he was a 1996 Nebula nominee for his “Tea and Hamsters” novelette, and a five-time finalist for the Aurora Award. (Died 2005.)
  • Born September 28, 1938 Ron Ellik. Writer and Editor, a well-known SF fan who was a co-editor with Terry Carr of the Hugo winning fanzine, Fanac, in the late 1950s. Ellik was also the co-author of The Universes of E.E. Smith with Bill Evans, which was largely a concordance of characters and the like. Fancyclopedia 3 notes that “He also had some fiction published professionally, and co-authored a Man from U.N.C.L.E. novelization.” The Encyclopaedia of Science Fiction says he died in an auto accident the day before his wedding. (Died 1968.)
  • Born September 28, 1950 John Sayles, 73. I really hadn’t considered him a major player in genre films but he is. He’s writer and director The Brother from Another Planet and The Secret of Roan Inish; and he wrote the scripts of PiranhaAlligatorBattle Beyond the StarsThe HowlingE.T. the Extra-TerrestrialThe Clan of the Cave Bear and The Spiderwick Chronicles.
  • Born September 28, 1963 Greg Weisman, 60. Writer who’s best remembered for Gargoyles, Spectacular Spider-Man and Young Justice. He also scripted some of Men in Black: The Series and Roughnecks: Starship Troopers Chronicles. He also wrote children’s novel World of Warcraft: Traveler, followed by a sequel, World of Warcraft: Traveler – The Spiral Path. Children’s novels in the Warcraft universe? Hmmm… 
  • Born September 28, 1982 Tendai Huchu, 41. Zimbabwean author who’s the editor along with Raman Mundair and Noel Chidwick of the Shores of Infinity zine. He’s also written a generous number of African centric stories of which “The Marriage Plot” won an African Speculative Fiction Society Nommo Award for African Speculative Fiction for Best Short Story.
  • Born September 28, 1986 Laurie Penny, 37. They are the writer of one genre novella to date, “Everything Belongs to the Future“, published at Tor.com, and a generous number of genre short stories. They were a finalist for the Astounding Award for Best New Writer at Worldcon 75 won by Ada Palmer.  “Vector at Nine Worlds: Laurie Penny”, an interview with them by Jo Walton is in Vector 288.

(12) COMIC SECTION.

  • The Far Side shows something that might be a case for an insurance company. But is it an act of God? 

(13) FIFTY CALIBER. Congratulations to Michaele Jordan on her appearance in 50 Give or Take!

(14) CHOPPED. “Now that Winnie-the-Pooh is in the public domain, it’s a free-for-all.” NPR tells how “Winnie-the-Pooh is now being used to raise awareness about deforestation”. [Click for larger image.]

Winnie-the-Pooh: The Deforested Edition is a reimagining of the A.A. Milne classic created by the toilet paper company Who Gives A Crap.

There is just one, stark difference: There are no trees.

The Hundred Acre Wood? Gone.

Piglet’s “house in the middle of a beech-tree” is no longer “grand.”

Six Pine Trees is six pine stumps.

Yes, this is imaginative PR (a free eBook is available on the Who Gives A Crap website; a hardcover was available for purchase but is now sold out). But the company’s co-founder, Danny Alexander, said the goal is to raise awareness about deforestation. Who Gives A Crap prides itself on “creating toilet paper from 100% recycled paper or bamboo,” he said….

… Alexander said Who Gives A Crap has tried to spread the word that “over a million trees are cut down every single day just to make traditional toilet paper,” according to a study the company commissioned….

(15) OCTOTHORPE. Episode 93 of the Octothorpe podcast “The Good Thing About the Hugos” is now up.

John Coxon is husky, Alison Scott is a dingo, and Liz Batty is a ridgeback.

We discuss Chengdu, our impact on Chinese fandom, Glasgow, its impact on Glaswegian fandom, and then all the Hugo categories bar one (foreshadowing). Or four, depending on how you count.

(16) PROTON ART. “Painting with protons: treatment beams recreate works of art” at Physics World.

Intensity-modulated proton therapy (IMPT) is an advanced cancer treatment technique that uses narrow pencil-like beams of protons – painted spot-by-spot and layer-by-layer within the patient – to deliver radiation in highly complex dose patterns. Combined with sophisticated treatment planning techniques, IMPT can shape the proton dose to match the targeted tumour with unprecedented accuracy, maximizing the destruction of cancer cells while minimizing damage to nearby healthy tissue.

Looking to showcase the impressive power of IMPT to create intricate dose distributions, medical physicist Lee Xu from the New York Proton Center came up with an unusual approach – he used proton pencil beams to recreate a series of well-known paintings as treatment plans, effectively using the protons as a paintbrush….

(17) DISKWORLDS. In this week’s Nature: “How worlds are born: JWST reveals exotic chemistry of planetary nurseries”, “The telescope is delivering a cascade of insights about the ‘protoplanetary’ disks where planets take shape.”

 The James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) is aweing scientists and the public alike with its spectacular images of distant galaxies and its discoveries of dozens of new black holes. Yet JWST is also rewriting scientists’ understanding of objects on a slightly smaller, more relatable scale: how planets form from swirls of gas and dust around young stars. Such ‘protoplanetary’ disks are what the environs of the Sun would have been like 4.6 billion years ago, with planets coalescing from the whirling material around an infant star.

JWST is revealing how water is delivered to rocky planets taking shape in such disks. It’s providing clues to the exotic chemistry in these planetary nurseries. And it has even found fresh evidence for a cosmic hit-and-run in one of the most famous debris disks, encircling the star Beta Pictoris…

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Chris Barkley, Cat Eldridge, Steven French, Lise Andreasen, Jeff Smith, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Dan Bloch, Bill, Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, and Ersatz Culture for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]

Pixel Scroll 8/10/23 Pick A Peck Of Pixels

(1) MICHELE LUNDGREN ARRAIGNED. Nine of the 16 Michigan Fake Trump electors were arraigned today on felony charges including Michele Lundgren, wife of sff artist Carl Lundgren. The other seven have already been in court, and all 16 now have entered not guilty pleas. CNN covered today’s proceedings: “Michigan’s fake GOP electors arraigned on state charges”.

The 16 Michigan Republicans who served as fake electors in 2020 have pleaded not guilty to the first-of-their-kind felony charges stemming from the Trump-backed election subversion plot.

Nine of the defendants were arraigned on the state charges Thursday at a virtual court hearing in Lansing. The other seven defendants already pleaded not guilty in the past few weeks.

The group of GOP activists were hit with state charges last month over their role former President Donald Trump’s seven-state plan to subvert the Electoral College and overturn the 2020 election results by supplanting lawful Democratic electors with fake Republican electors.

Each of the fake Michigan electors were charged with eight state felonies, including forgery, conspiracy to commit election law forgery, and publishing a counterfeit record. Some of their defense attorneys have already said they’ll challenge the novel prosecution and will try to get the charges dropped. The case is unfolding in Ingham County District Court.

The defendants were released on a $1,000 bond, after state judges determined that they weren’t a danger to the community and didn’t pose a flight risk. The next hearing in the case is scheduled for August 18, where prosecutors will need to show probable cause of the crimes….

Today’s arraignment was livestreamed from the judge’s courtroom, with some persons participating remotely. You can see Michele Lundgren’s appearance starting at about 43 minutes into this video.

Carl Lundgren left this comment about the charges on File 770 on August 7. (His identity was verified before it was posted.)

Hello, to all my former friends in science fiction.

I guess we forget that there are two sides to every story.

I’ve been with my wife Michele, through all of this, and I know that she did nothing wrong. (Outside of being a camera hog).

Two sets of 3 FBI Agents (One a member of the National Archives). Came to the house and spent two hours each interviewing her a couple of years ago.

They went through all of her correspondence found that she committed no crime.

The AG in Michigan has other ideas, seemingly political.

Michele has a brain condition called CAA and her mental functions are deteriorating, but I know that she did nothing wrong.

Thanks for listening, and stop believing the commie news.

(2) STRIKE’S HUNDREDTH DAY. They reached the century mark on August 9. Someone told The Hollywood Reporter “’Picketing Disney Is More Fun Than Writing a ‘Star Wars’ Movie’: Scribes Mark 100 Days of the Strike”.

…referring to the so-called “talks about talking” meeting Friday between the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers and the Writers Guild executives to discuss if there was a path back to restart negotiations […the] WGA said in a briefing to members afterward that the AMPTP is offering the 11,000-member WGA the same deal that the DGA ratified on pattern issues and increases on a few writer-specific TV minimums. Scribes have since voiced their frustration with the AMPTP’s unwillingness to engage on such core issues as the minimum size of writers rooms or success-based residuals, among other topics. (The AMPTP has not commented on the meeting.)

Showrunner Damon Lindelof walked the humid picket line outside Disney in Burbank with Justin Britt-Gibson — the two were recently fired off a Star Wars movie they had been scripting for Disney-owned Lucasfilm — and shared that they both feel a new sense of resolve. “Ninety-nine days of steps under my belt and I don’t know if there’s any end in sight, but I’m feeling good, strong, convinced and unified,” said Lindelof. “Justin and I wrote a Star Wars movie together and picketing Disney is a lot more fun than writing a Star Wars movie,” said the Lost and Watchmen creator. Added Britt-Gibson: “This will not be in vain. This will be done so we have a better future for writers, for actors, for everybody out here on the line. … Strike the Empire back!”

(3) BEATLES CONSPIRACY THEORIST. Connie Willis reminded fans that August 8 is the anniversary of the day the four Beatles walked across the road at an Abbey Road zebra crossing. But was Paul actually dead? “The Abbey Road Zebra Crossing Today” at Facebook.

…Back when my daughter was in high school, she went to see a Beatles cover band and became obsessed with the Beatles. She and her friends dubbed themselves the Fab Four, and she began reading all about the Beatles. One day she came to me and said, “Did you know that there’s a rumor that Paul’s dead?”

“Are you KIDDING?” I said, incensed. “I was there when that rumor started. I helped SPREAD that rumor!”…

(4) IS THE CORPSE NO LONGER THE GUEST OF HONOR AT ITS OWN PARTY? New York Times essayist Amor Towles mourns that “Once at the center of the murder mystery, the cadaver has become increasingly incidental to the action and now figures as little more than a prop” in “The Corpse in the Library” .

…But in the golden age, the cadaver didn’t simply get things going. It maintained its position at the center of the story from the moment of its discovery until the denouement. As Hercule Poirot often pointed out, it was the psychology of the victim that was paramount. In life, was the cadaver lascivious? Unscrupulous? Greedy? To understand who had most likely monkeyed with the brakes of her car or poisoned her cup of tea, one first had to understand whom she had loved and whom she had spurned; whom she had enriched and whom she had cheated.

In the golden age, while the cadaver gave its life fairly early in the story, it could take comfort that it would remain of primary concern to the writer and reader until the book’s very last pages. This was no small consolation. As Lord Henry observed in Oscar Wilde’s “The Picture of Dorian Gray, “There is only one thing in the world worse than being talked about, and that is not being talked about.”

BUT TIME MOVES on. In the years before World War II, a new kind of mystery, spearheaded by Dashiell Hammett and refined by Raymond Chandler, rose to prominence: the hard-boiled detective story.

Unlike the detectives of the golden age, who were often aristocratic in bearing and schooled in etiquette, the hard-boiled detectives were men who disdained artifice and favored plain speaking. They hung their hats in shabby offices, gathered information in flophouses and bars, and went home to one-bedroom apartments. Leading rugged lives, earning meager livings, prepared to expect the worst of everyone, the hard-boiled detectives were consummate professionals in the most world-weary of industries.

But when Hammett and Chandler opted to foreground the gritty, quotidian life of the detective-for-hire, one consequence was that the role of the cadaver shrank in importance. For these detectives were not hired to solve murders (that task was the purview of the police). Instead, they were hired to solve messy domestic problems….

(5) SVENGOOLIE AND JOE BOB TOGETHER. [Item by Michael Toman.] This certainly brings back a lot of Good Memories of Seeing Bad Movies. “Svengoolie and Joe Bob Briggs’ panel at Flashback Weekend ’23 pt. 1” at MeTV.

… the highlight of the event, the crown jewel of Flashback Weekend, was a panel hosted by horror legends Svengoolie and Joe Bob Briggs. Together, the hosts regaled guests with tales of TV, from their onscreen lives to their hopes for the future of horror hosts. With attendance limited to seating capacity, the intimate conversation will be fondly remembered by everyone in the room…. 

Joe Bob: I’m the spokesperson for the 90th birthday of the drive-in!

Sven: I also think it’s the 90th anniversary of somebody driving off with the speaker still attached to their window.

Joe Bob: I’m sure it is! Although, at the very first drive-in, in Camden, New Jersey, in 1933, the owner, Richard Hollingshead, thought he could just put up a big screen, park the cars in front of the screen, and get the most powerful speaker he could find — some kind of military-grade, industrial speaker, and put it by the screen and just shoot it out at the cars. That was actually what they did for the first — I don’t know — at least the first year. And then they went, “Now we’re gonna have to try some other solution, this is not working with the romantic comedies.”…

(6) WEAR YOUR DUDS WITHOUT BEING A DUD. Today Scott Edelman reminded people about David Hartwell’s classic “Three Laws of Fashion”.

His Three Laws are:

1. To dress in ignorance of fashion is to dress badly.

2. To dress knowingly in fashion is to be invisible.

3. To dress knowingly in opposition to fashion is to have your own style.

(7) ON BOARD THE TARDIS. The Companions of Doctor Who, edited by David Bushman (Conversations with Mark Frost) and Ken Deep (Showrunner of L.I Doctor Who con), is coming in February 2024. Preorder here.

Gallifrey One’s Shaun Lyon wrote the article on Donna Noble. (Yay Shaun!)

The Doctor should never be alone. With companions like these, why would he? The follow up to The Villains of Doctor Who essay book is right here. Donna, Clara, Amy, Rose, Ace, Sarah Jane and more are waiting for you in this sequel book which covers a diverse group of author’s take on the ones who travel alongside of The Doctor

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born August 10, 1896 John Gloag. His first SF novel, Tomorrow’s Yesterday, depicts a race of cat people from the distant future observing human society. It was one of five SF novels and a double handful of short stories he wrote in the Thirties and Forties. Kindle has almost all of his non-fiction. Really they do. Alas the SF no one has. (Died 1981.)
  • Born August 10, 1902 Curt Siodmak. He is known for his work in genre films for The Wolf Man and Donovan’s Brain, the latter from his own novel. ISFDB notes the latter was part of his Dr. Patrick Cory series, and he wrote quite a few other genre novels as well. Donovan’s Brain and a very few other works are available from the usual suspects. (Died 2000.)
  • Born August 10, 1903 Ward Moore. Author of Bring the Jubilee which everyone knows and several novels more that I’m fairly sure almost no one knows. More interestingly to me was that he was a keen writer of recipes as ISFDB documents four of his appeared in Anne McCaffrey’s Cooking Out of This World. Kidneys anyone? Or tripe anyone?  (Shudder.) (Died 1978.)
  • Born August 10, 1932 Alexis A. Gilliland, 92. He won the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer in 1982, edging out Brin and Swanwick for the honor. Gilliland also won four Hugo Awards for Best Fan Artist in the early Eighties and won the Tucker Award for Excellence in Partying in the late Eighties. What the Hell is that?  He’s got two series, Rosinante and Wizenbeak.
  • Born August 10, 1944 Barbara Erskine, 79. I’m including her because I’ve got a bit of a mystery. ISFDB lists her as writing over a dozen genre novels and her wiki page says she has a fascination with the supernatural but neither indicates what manner of genre fiction she wrote. I’m guessing romance or gothic tinged with the supernatural based on the covers but that’s just a guess. What do y’all know about her?
  • Born August 10, 1952 David C. Smith, 71. He is best known for his fantasy novels, particularly those co-authored with Richard L. Tierney, featuring characters created by Robert E. Howard, most notably the six novels which involved Red Sonja. Those novels are available on iBooks but not on Kindle. 
  • Born August 10, 1955 Eddie Campbell, 68. Best known as the illustrator and publisher of From Hell (written by Alan Moore), and Bacchus, a series about the few Greek gods who have made it to our time. Though not genre, I highly recommend The Black Diamond Detective Agency which he did. It’s an adaptation of a most likely never to be made screenplay by C. Gaby Mitchell. 
  • Born August 10, 1955 Tom Kidd, 68. Genre illustrator, he’s won an impressive seven Chelsey Awards. Though he didn’t win a Hugo for Best Professional Artist, he was nominated  at Aussiecon Two, Nolacon, Conspiracy ‘87 and ConFiction. Since I’m fond of this Poul Anderson series, I’m giving you his cover for Maurai & Kith.

(9) FANDOMS – SF/F AND BEYOND. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] This week’s BBC Radio 4 edition of Word of Mouth discusses fandoms writ large.  It looks at things like fan fic – its origins seem close to Sherlock Holmes over a century ago – cosplay, cons etc.  “Fandom”.

You can download the 28-minute episode here and you do not have to have a BBC Sounds account to download.

(10) MAKE YOUR PITCH. “’Stray Gods: The Roleplaying Musical’ lets players perform an interactive Broadway show” on WBUR. The audio recording of the 8-minute news item can he heard at the link.

Video games stories often shift and splinter based on a player’s unique actions.

But “Stray Gods: The Roleplaying Musical” goes a step further: Not only does it present branching paths through an urban fantasy, but it’s also bursting with interactive music.

Unlike other games that focus on shooting, spells or swordplay, “Stray Gods” is all about singing. Forced to clear her name after being accused of murder, protagonist Grace has to use her newfound powers as a muse to investigate the game’s modern-day Greek gods, swapping styles depending on the player’s approach. You can sing compassionately in one verse then get angrier in the next. Each choice will solicit divergent reactions and progress the story differently.

“I would say it’s hundreds or maybe thousands of really noticeably discrete versions, and then it gets into the millions once you start getting into the more subtle variations of this instrument versus that instrument,” says “Stray Gods” composer Austin Wintory…

(11) MARK YOUR CALENDAR. “Star Wars: Ahsoka Streaming Schedule Released”. Here is the essence of Comicbook.com’s post:

…According to the official Star Wars social media accounts, Ahsoka will be released every Wednesday, starting with two episodes on August 23rd. The series will feature eight episodes and span seven weeks into October. You can check out the full schedule announcement below.

(12) PROMISES, PROMISES. Abigail Nussbaum reviews “The Saint of Bright Doors by Vajra Chandrasekera” at Asking the Wrong Questions.

“The moment Fetter is born, Mother-of-Glory pins his shadow to the earth with a large brass nail and tears it from him. This is his first memory, the seed of many hours of therapy to come.” So begins Vajra Chandrasekera’s remarkable debut novel The Saint of Bright Doors. It’s a good beginning, full of promise. The shock of that sudden violence. The strangeness of the fantastical act. The lurch towards modernity right at the end. It is also, however, an opening whose promises—including one that we are not even aware is being made—the novel will spend most of its length breaking…

(13) THE MARTIAN SKY’S THE LIMIT. Gizmodo draws our attention to the good news on Mars: “NASA’s Mars Helicopter Resumes Flights After Untimely Landing”.

NASA’s Ingenuity helicopter has had a rough few months, first losing communication with its home planet and later suffering a glitch that interrupted its flight. But you can’t keep a good chopper down. Ingenuity soared above the Martian terrain once again as its team on Earth tries to figure out what went wrong with its previous flight.

The Mars helicopter briefly flew for a 25-second hop on August 3, logging in its 54th flight above the planet’s surface to provide data that could help determine why its 53rd flight ended prematurely, NASA revealed this week….

The space agency has full details: “NASA’s Ingenuity Mars Helicopter Flies Again”.

Flight 53 was planned as a 136-second scouting flight dedicated to collecting imagery of the planet’s surface for the Perseverance Mars rover science team. The complicated flight profile included flying north 666 feet (203 meters) at an altitude of 16 feet (5 meters) and a speed of 5.6 mph (2.5 meters per second), then descending vertically to 8 feet (2.5 meters), where it would hover and obtain imagery of a rocky outcrop. Ingenuity would then climb straight up to 33 feet (10 meters) to allow its hazard divert system to initiate before descending vertically to touch down.

Instead, the helicopter executed the first half of its autonomous journey, flying north at an altitude of 16 feet (5 meters) for 466 feet (142 meters). Then a flight-contingency program was triggered, and Ingenuity automatically landed. The total flight time was 74 seconds.

“Since the very first flight we have included a program called ‘LAND_NOW’ that was designed to put the helicopter on the surface as soon as possible if any one of a few dozen off-nominal scenarios was encountered,” said Teddy Tzanetos, team lead emeritus for Ingenuity at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California…

The Ingenuity team is confident that the early landing was triggered when image frames from the helicopter’s navigation camera didn’t sync up as expected with data from the rotorcraft’s inertial measurement unit. The unit measures Ingenuity’s acceleration and rotational rates – data that makes it possible to estimate where the helicopter is, how fast it is moving, and how it is oriented in space. This was not the first occasion on which image frames were dropped by the helicopter’s Navcam during a flight. Back on May 22, 2021, multiple image frames were dropped, resulting in excessive pitching and rolling near the end of Flight 6.

After Flight 6, the team updated the flight software to help mitigate the impact of dropped images, and the fix worked well for the subsequent 46 flights. However, on Flight 53 the quantity of dropped navigation images exceeded what the software patch allows.

“While we hoped to never trigger a LAND_NOW, this flight is a valuable case study that will benefit future aircraft operating on other worlds,” said Tzanetos. “The team is working to better understand what occurred in Flight 53, and with Flight 54’s success we’re confident that our baby is ready to keep soaring ahead on Mars.”

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

Pixel Scroll 6/19/23 Frenemy Mine

(1) BIOLOGY LESSON. We can learn along with Matt Wallace:

(2) KGB. Ellen Datlow has shared her photos from the Fantastic Fiction at KGB reading on June 14 where “Nathan Ballingrud read from his novel The Strange and Dale Bailey read from his story ‘I Married a Monster from Outer Space’ and both made the crowd very happy.”

(3) COVER ART UNCOVERED. Alex Shvartsman has revealed the cover for The Digital Aesthete. See preorder information at the link.

We now have a cover for the anthology of stories about artificial minds interacting with art. The stories and the art are created by humans (the cover is drawn and designed by the spectacular K.A. Teryna!)

(4) NO, NO, IT WOULD BE A LITERARY SOCIETY. Norman Spinrad’s first attempt to explain his idea was completely successful. Everybody knew exactly what he meant. Now he tries to remedy that with a cagier post, “SFS and SFWA”.

I think I should this make this clear. SFWA means Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers Association. SFS means Speculative Fiction Society. SFWA has existed for a long time and I was elected its president three times. Speculative Fiction Society is something that does not yet exist, it is something that may or may not exist in a possible future, it is, well, speculative fiction.

SFS is not an enemy of SFWA nor would it be mean to replace it. SFS is not a new invention. SFWA was born as society of speculative fiction writers. Damon Knight and Kate Wilhelm invited writers of their choice to their large house in Milford annually to meet each other and bring stories of theirs to read his small society. Stories of which they were proud, stories they felt had literary problems, and to some extent, stories that they had trouble finding proper publication.

Although we all well knew that the price of liberty was taking care of business, this was primerily a literary society. The core was to help each other create better literature. But business being what it was, Damon said that we should create something that could also help writers take care of business. Not quite a union like the Screen Writers of America, but something that could act like one when called to, a Science Fiction Writers of America.

The SFWA.

The SFWA, now calls itself the Science Fiction and Fantacy Writers Association. As such, it sometimes does act like a union when it comes to the rights and economic problems of its members. But it no longer functions as a literary society devoted to the literary health and evolution of speculative fiction.

Indeed it has now become a legally non-profit corporation, whose bottom line is not literature, but the bottom line, dedicated to maximum numbers of various levels of memberships, selling various fandom goods like baseball or soccer teams, behaving more like the Science Fiction and Fantasy Fandom Association.

An SFS, a Speculative Fiction Society, could never take the place of this Science Fiction and Fantasy Fandom Associaton. It could not do it, it would not want to do it, it would not want to destroy it. It would not be a corporation, not-profit or not.

The literary concept of speculative fiction is at least as ancient as Plato’s REPUBLIC and it was captured as “science fiction,” “sci-fi,” and yes, SF, by publishing fluke, and the purpose of a Speculative Fiction Society would be to rescue what should be a central literature of any dynamic society.

A famous and almost you might say snotty French publisher that calls itself “Less Belles Lettres” wanted to publish a book celebrating its hundredth birthday. They wanted to publish a book called “Les Futures des Belles Lettres,” a double meaning in French, the future of the publisher and the future of serious literature.

They asked me to write whatever I wanted to as long as the story I did that. I wrote a story called BELLES LETTRES AD ASTRA. A hundred years in the future the central literature would have to be be speculative fiction

(5) HOWDY. Literary Hub delivers a post “In Praise of Sci-Fi Legend Connie Willis’s Cinematic Universe” inspired by her new book Roswell.

…Centered on Francie, a young woman traveling to New Mexico to stop her college roommate’s UFO-themed wedding, Roswell is a kind of self-learning punchline algorithm. A skeptic regarding all things flying saucer, Francie is of course abducted. From there on out, the novel’s escalation through repetition is unceasing. The way Monument Valley has been mislocated in old western films, the way playing solitaire invites unsolicited advice, the way language empties itself semiotically if explained for too many hours to a cute, terrifying little alien: all turn the plot forward like fine teeth in a gearbox.

Francie eventually helps her captor, a pretty decent non-humanoid fellow, learn English thanks to the aforementioned western films. “I AINT NEVER GULLED A PARDNER,” the alien initially repeats without understanding; astute readers will hear another turn of the machine. The idea of “PARDNERS” becomes vital not only for surviving Las Vegas hotels and an Elvis-themed wedding, but essential to Francie saving her friends and at least one planet….

(6) ABOUT GOLIATH. Abigail Nussbaum is one of the participants in a “Roundtable on Goliath by Tochi Onyebuchi at Strange Horizons” which she discusses at Lawyers, Guns and Money:

I mentioned Tochi Onyebuchi’s Goliath in my Hugo ballot post, and reviewed it on my blog. But the further I get away from it, the more convinced I become that this is one of the major science fiction novels of 2022, and that neither I nor the fandom as a whole have done enough to promote or discuss it. I was therefore thrilled when Strange Horizons reviews editor Dan Hartland proposed a roundtable discussion of the novel. Along with A.S. Lewis, Archita Mittra, and Jonah Sutton-Morse, it was a thrill to go deep into this remarkable, challenging book….

And here’s the link: “Tochi Onyebuchi’s Goliath: A Roundtable By Dan Hartland, A. S. Lewis, Archita Mittra, Abigail Nussbaum, and Jonah Sutton-Morse”:

Jonah Sutton-Morse: Thanks for gathering us—I’m really looking forward to this.

I have, I think, an answer to what the book is “about,” and moreso to “where did your focus wind up landing,” but I’m not sure they’re particularly satisfying, so I’m looking forward to reading other answers to this.

My focus in Goliath wound up landing on the moments and edges outside the stories that the book tells. There’s a way that Goliath is straightforwardly a story about ecological collapse, capitalism scavenging on leftover fragments, and the destructive impulses of gentrification and racism that we can see in national US news stories every day. But it struck me that, while the book was aware of that story, and expected the reader to be able to follow it (and this is a book that I found hard to follow), my focus kept falling on the pieces outside that story. The impulse to scavenge the remnants of a city is less interesting than the people who do the basic manual work of hammering the bricks. The people who leave ecological collapse are less interesting than those who remain—and even among those who left, the most interesting are those at the margins who eventually return. The mechanics of living in climate collapse, and enduring the policing that comes with the intrusion of wealth, are acknowledged but less interesting than an adventure collecting wild horses, or a group of people playing Spades and talking trash.

I don’t really like saying that this novel is “about” the lives and details around the edge of the destructive forces that regularly lead my national headlines (and I realize that the “Winter” section that Dan puts at the heart of the book at least partly complicates my reading), but it is those lives and details that my focus landed on….

(7) MEMORY LANE.

2011[Written by Cat Eldridge from a choice by Mike Glyer.]

The author of tonight’s Beginning, Saladin Ahmed is an Eisner Award-winning comic book writer for the debut of the Black Bolt series. He also wrote the Miles Morales: Spider-Man series. He is currently writing Miles Morales: Spider-Man and Exiles. Finally in this vein, I want to note his work on The Magnificent Ms. Marvel series.

His only novel, Throne of the Crescent Moon, where our Beginning is from, was nominated for a Hugo at Chicon 7. Dublin 2019 saw him pick up a Best Graphic Story nomination for Abbot.

He’s written but a double handful of short fiction sff stories, six of which are collected in Engraved on the Eye: Short Fantasy & Science Fiction.

And now his Beginning…

NINE DAYS. 

Beneficent God, I beg you, let this be the day I die!

The guardsman’s spine and neck were warped and bent but still he lived. 

He’d been locked in the red lacquered box for nine days. 

He’d seen the days’ light come and go through the lid-crack. Nine days. He held them close as a handful of dinars. Counted them over and over. Nine days. Nine days. Nine days. If he could remember this until he died he could keep his soul whole for God’s sheltering embrace. 

He had given up on remembering his name.

The guardsman heard soft footsteps approach, and he began to cry. Every day for nine days the gaunt, black-bearded man in the dirty white kaftan had appeared. Every day he cut the guardsman, or burned him. But worst was when the guardsman was made to taste the others’ pain.

The gaunt man had flayed a young marsh girl, pinning the guardsman’s eyes open so he had to see the girl’s skin curl out under the knife. He’d burned a Badawi boy alive and held back the guardsman’s head so the choking smoke would enter his nostrils. The guardsman had been forced to watch the broken and burned bodies being ripped apart as the gaunt man’s ghuls fed on heart-flesh. He’d watched as the gaunt man’s servant-creature, that thing made of shadows and jackal skin, had sucked something shimmering from those freshly dead corpses, leaving them with their hearts torn out and their empty eyes glowing red.

These things had almost shaken the guardsman’s mind loose. Almost. But he would remember. Nine days. Nine…. All-Merciful God, take me from this world!

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born June 19, 1915 Julius Schwartz. He’s best known as a longtime editor at DC Comics, where at various times he was primary editor for the Superman and Batman lines. Just as interestingly, he founded the Solar Sales Service literary agency (1934–1944) where Schwartz represented such writers as  Bradbury, Bester,  Bloch, Weinbaum, and Lovecraft which included some of Bradbury’s very first published work and Lovecraft’s last such work. He also published Time Traveller, one of the first fanzines along with Mort Weisinger and Forrest J Ackerman. (Died 2004.)
  • Born June 19, 1921 Louis JourdanFear No Evil and Ritual of Evil, two TV horror films in the late Sixties, appear to be his first venture into our realm. He’d play Count Dracula in, errr, Count Dracula a few years later. And then came the role you most likely remember him for, Dr. Anton Arcane in Swamp Thing which he reprised in The Return of Swamp Thing. Definitely popcorn films. Oh, and let’s not forget he was Kamal Khan, the villain in Octopussy! (Died 2015.)
  • Born June 19, 1926 Josef Nesvadba. A Czech writer, best known for his SF short stories, many of which have appeared in English translation. ISFDB lists a number of stories as appearing in English and two collections of his translated stories were published, In The Footsteps of the Abominable Snowman: Stories of Science and Fantasy and Vampires Ltd. : Stories of Science and Fantasy. Neither’s available in digital format. (Died 2005.)
  • Born June 19, 1947 Salman Rushdie, 78. Everything he does has some elements of magic realism in it. (Let the arguments begin on that statement.) So which of his novels are really genre? I’d say The Ground Beneath Her FeetGrimus (his first and largely forgotten sf novel), Two Years Eight Months and Twenty-Eight Nights and Haroun and the Sea of Stories. If you’ve not read anything by him, I’d start with The Ground Beneath Her Feet which is by far both one of his best works and one of his most understandable ones as well.
  • Born June 19, 1952 Virginia Hey, 71. Best known for her role as Pa’u Zotoh Zhaan in the fabulous Farscape, series and playing the Warrior Woman in Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior. She’s also Rubavitch, the mistress of KGB Head, General Pushkin, in The Living Daylights. She also had a brief appearance as a beautician in The Return of Captain Invincible, an Australian musical comedy superhero film.
  • Born June 19, 1954 Kathleen Turner, 69. One of her earliest roles was in The Man with Two Brains as Dolores Benedict. Somewhat of a Fifties retro feel with that title. Of course, she voiced sultry Jessica Rabbit in Who Framed Roger Rabbit, one of my favorite all time films. I still haven’t seen all of the Roger Rabbit short films that were done. She voiced Constance in Monster House a few years later, and was in Cinderella, a television film where she was the lead of the Wicked Stepmother Claudette.
  • Born June 19, 1957 Jean Rabe, 66. She’s a genre author and editor who has worked on the DragonlanceForgotten RealmsRogue Angel and BattleTech series, as well as many others. Ok, I admit to a degree of fascination with such writers as I’m a devotee of the Rogue Angel audiobooks that GraphicAudio does and she’s written according to ISFDB five of the source novels under the house name of Alex Archer.  
  • Born June 19, 1978 Zoe Saldana, 45.  She was born with the lovely birth name of Zoë Yadira Saldaña Nazario. First genre role was Anamaria in Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl. She’s Nyota Uhura in the new Trek series and she’s also Neytiri in the Avatar franchise. She portrays Gamora in the MCU, beginning with Guardians of the Galaxy, a truly great film. I’ll confess that I’ve not yet seen the other Guardians of the Galaxy films. Should I? 

(9) THEY’RE NOT LOSING AN X-MAN, THEY’RE GAINING AN AVENGER. This September, Tony Stark and Emma Frost tie the knot in the X-Men #26 and Invincible Iron Man #10 crossover event.

Today IGN exclusively revealed the upcoming connecting covers for X-MEN #26 and INVINCIBLE IRON MAN #10, which feature the long awaited wedding between Emma Frost and Tony Stark. Debuting in September, both issues are written by Gerry Duggan with art by Stefano Caselli (X-MEN #26), Juan Frigeri (INVINCIBLE IRON MAN #10), and stunning covers by Lucas Werneck.

 First, in X-MEN #26, the moment we swore would never happen—heck, the moment EMMA FROST swore would never happen—is here at last! As the Frost/Stark knot is tied, Emma’s mutant family reacts to this surprise news! Then, readers are cordially invited to the wedding of Anthony Edward Stark and Emma Grace Frost in INVINCIBLE IRON MAN #10. Come join the lucky couple as they exchange vows. Attire is Hellfire formal. Orchis raid to follow. Plus some exclusive wedding extras!

(10) ROMITA JR. Q&A. “’The greatest man I’ve met’: iconic comics artist John Romita Sr. remembered by his son” at the Gothamist.

To many of our listeners, your dad was an artist who created and designed characters at both Marvel and DC. He’s best known for drawing Spider-Man in the ’60s and ’70s. He had a hand in creating Wolverine, the Punisher and Luke Cage, among others. But who was he to you?

He’s the guy who taught me how to hit a curve ball, and that was almost as [important] to me as learning how to draw Spider-Man’s eyes properly. It was so much more than just the art. I was talking to my brother about the fact that when it rained on the weekends in the summertime, we would watch old movies together and he would tell us what was about to happen. And the scenes in “On the Waterfront” have stuck with me forever since. That’s the part I remember, is how much time he spent with us.

And then he taught us so many things. It was more than just the art mentor to me – and yet he never forced anything on me, as far as art went. He told me, “I’m not gonna tell you what to do. You come to me and ask me a question. If you do something wrong, I’ll proactively act that way.” So the man just did everything right with my brother and me. It was fantastic.

Like I said, as much as he helped with my art-world life, he was that way with all aspects of our lives. He was a brilliant man….

(11) IN ANOTHER FATHER’S DAY. [Item by Cora Buhlert.] Here’s an interesting video about the cargo vessel MS München, which vanished in December 1978 and is believed to have been sunk by a rogue wave:  I remember this case very well, though I was only five when it happened. But my Dad worked for Hapag Lloyd, the shipping company which owned the München, at the time and so the search for the missing vessel was a big topic in our home. I’m not sure if my Dad helped to design the München — he was a naval architect for Hapag Lloyd —  but he definitely knew some of those who were lost and attended the memorial service for the crew and passengers.The loss of the München also overshadowed the launch celebration for the new Hapag Lloyd cruise liner MS Europa only 8 days after the München vanished. My Mom and many other women opted to wear black evening gowns for the launch banquet.

(12) COMING ATTRACTION. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] I had only just alerted Filers as to Matt O’Dowd’s safe distance from a supernova (see (16) in the June 15 Scroll) in his PBS Space-Time video when new research indicates that the Red Giant Betelgeuse is in the late stage of core carbon burning, and a good candidate for the next Galactic supernova. It had been thought it might be many centuries away but it could be as close as a few decades. Fortunately Betelgeuse is hundreds of light years away.  Nonetheless it should be visible in the day time and maybe some Filers who are on the young side might just witness it.  In fact it may have already exploded just that the light has not reached us…! (See the pre-print Saio, H. et al (2023) “The evolutionary stage of Betelgeuse inferred from its pulsation periods”. Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.)

(13) DOUBLE YOUR PLEASURE. The Smithsonian Magazine says “Cats May Have Been Domesticated Twice”. You know, given the independent nature of cats that just sounds so likely. However, the headline meant something different than what I first assumed.

Whether they were being worshipped as gods or transformed into memes, the relationship between cats and humans goes back a long ways. There are more than 500 million domestic house cats around the world, all of which are descended from a single subspecies of wildcat. But according to new research, there might have been a second, more recent (and unrelated) instance of cats becoming domesticated in China.

Most archaeologists believe that cats probably domesticated themselves more than 10,000 years ago when the fluffy little murderbeasts realized they could get an easy meal by staking out Neolithic storerooms and farms for the rats and mice that were attracted to human settlements. More cats meant fewer rodents, which meant more crops for the hard-working humans. Over time, our ancestors started taking care of the felines, leading to the modern house cat, Grennan Milliken writes for Popular Science.

But this story of a second line began a few years ago, when researchers uncovered several cat bones near Quanhucun, an early farming village in central China. The bones were about 5,300 years old and analysis of their chemistry showed these felines likely survived on a diet of grain-fed rodents, suggesting they at least hunted for dinner near the town’s millet stores.

The scientists found a few indications of domestication, according to the study recently published the journal PLOS One. First, based on the wear of its teeth, the remains of one of the cats seemed much older than the others, perhaps suggesting that someone took care of the cat as it got older, writes David Grimm for Science. These cats also were all slightly smaller than their wild counterparts, and one was even buried as a complete skeleton.

“That’s evidence of special treatment,” study author Jean-Denis Vigne tells Grimm. “Even if what we’re seeing here is not full domestication, it’s an intensification of the relationship between cats and humans.”

Further analysis showed that these cats did not descend from the same subspecies as the modern house cat, but actually belonged to a species known as “leopard cats,” Grimm reports. This means that the leopard cat lineage is genetically distinct from our modern fuzz balls….

(14) BUSINESS IS BOOMING. Apparently this “New England theater one of just 30 in the world to see this Hollywood blockbuster as intended”.

…When Nolan’s ‘Oppenheimer’ hits theaters in July, the Providence Place Cinemas 16 in Rhode Island will present the $100 million epic in IMAX 70mm film, one of just 30 movie theaters in the world to do so.

Without getting too technical, 70mm is regarded as the best possible projection for films. Frames are more than three times larger than a typical celluloid, allowing for a much richer and fuller picture than is typically found in modern theaters….

…In addition to the upscale picture, portions of ‘Oppenheimer’ were filmed in black and white, meaning Nolan had to practically invent a new format of film.

The film about J. Robert Oppenheimer, the theoretical physicist who oversaw the development of first atomic bomb during World War II, drops on July 21. The pristine film formats will be especially pivotal in viewing the Trinity Test, the first detonation of a nuclear weapon.

“We knew that this had to be the showstopper. We’re able to do things with picture now that before we were really only able to do with sound in terms of an oversize impact for the audience, an almost physical sense of response to the film,” said Nolan in a recent interview.

(15) VIDEOS OF THE DAY. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] Media Death Cult’s Moid Moidelhoff has just made three mini-documentaries on science fiction.  There is nothing really new here for the seasoned SF fan but some of these were shot on location.  The first video looks at SF’s origins and includes a trip to Mary Shelly’s grave and Woking’s Martian tripod.

The second video examines SF’s Golden Era with the rise of the classic pulp magazines and the big three – Asimov, Clarke and Heinlein – before moving on to Wyndham.

 He ends with the interest in dystopias, autocratic dictatorships and mutually assured destruction.  Could Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 dumbed-down world ever come about? In part, shot on location at the Jodrell Bank radio telescope and an English village that could be Midwich… The final video ponders on SF’s present-day state. There was the rise of the new wave with Moorcock and then in the US with Ellison. And we also got Dick and cyberpunk before cyberpunk, and Gibson. Could we be about to embark on the most exciting period of science fiction?

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

Pixel Scroll 5/19/23 I’m Still Big; It’s The Pixels That Got Small

(1) EXPECT HUGO BALLOT IN “EARLY JUNE”. The Chengdu Worldcon committee today told Facebook readers when to look for the 2023 Hugo ballot:

The 2023 Chengdu Worldcon Hugo Awards nomination was officially closed on April 30th, and the shortlist will be out early June. Big thank you to all members who spent your valuable time to make the nominations.

(2) TAKE TWO. Cass Morris was very sorry to hear that Disney is closing the Galactic Starcruiser. And not for any abstract reasons – she was planning to go next year. However, the attraction’s inability to stay in business prompted Morris to embark on a vast thought experiment about the kind of Disney Star Wars immersive hotel experience which could work, and her results are quite entertaining. “Galactic Travels” at Scribendi.

…Unfortunately, while this news is terribly sad, it’s also not wholly unexpected. The Starcruiser has had trouble ever since it opened. The high price point, unusual conceit, and level of fannish commitment required for full enjoyment seem to have kept it operating at low capacity.

So, last night as I was nursing my sadness about probably never getting to go, I started thinking… 

If I were going to design a Star Wars hotel for Disney World, one that might stand a better chance of succeeding… what would I do?…

(3) MINDFULNESS ABOUT VIRTUAL GOHS. Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki has an idea for using virtual cons in a progressive way – involving international, disabled, and otherwise nontraveling creators — which he has shared with Facebook readers:

…Something I learnt along the way, from my first con I participated in, was that virtual cons are important. Having people of diverse backgrounds & voices be able to attend, contribute to the general pool of knowledge & discussions. I believe diversity, multiple viewpoints and experiences taking into account, people working together, will solve many world problems, including the recent AI scourge of the arts. twitter.com/Penprince_/sta

Sure, running virtual components isnt always possible. Funding, the tech issues, etc. It’s understandable when cons can’t have them. But when they do have them, it’s imperative, almost compulsory they have both virtual attendees and guests of honour like CanConSF & ICFA did. It gives a platform to allow people with the experience and expertise to contribute on a larger scale to genre development and history, the change to. As ICFA guest of honour, the first ever African born, Black writer to be, I created the genre #Afropantheology, which I believe hope, & plan will contribute and richly influence genre & storytelling generally. The GoH platform was very helpful in that. …

(4) IT’S BIG. Max Gladstone tells how his vacation was interrupted by word about the apotheosis of his writing career in “Big Bigolas Energy” at The Third Place.

…It unfolded for me in fits and starts, and almost out of order, as one would expect of a book about time travel.

While we were in transit, a friend who often texts us about Time War sitings in the wilds of social media sent my partner a screenshot of The Bigolas Tweet, which at that time had 12,000 likes.

I thought, how wonderful! Nice note to start the vacation. And also: what a great screen name. My brain was in vacation mode already, so I didn’t think about the numbers too much. As I’ve been told many times, Twitter Doesn’t Sell Books. 

Later that evening, Amal (that’s my New York Times Bestselling co-author Amal El-Mohtar, to be clear, though at this point we were neither of us New York Times Bestselling co-authors) sent me a screenshot of the same tweet; the numbers were much bigger (Bigolas-er?). I thought: wow! It’s really taking off. But still: Twitter Doesn’t Sell Books.

As they say: lol….

(5) INNOCENT BYSTANDER. Google Bard, another of these AI language models, has somehow managed to pull Nnedi Okorafor into the latest row about BasedCon.

(6) EATING THE FANTASTIC. Scott Edelman invites listeners to munch on mahi mahi with L. Marie Wood in Episode 198 of the Eating the Fantastic podcast.

L. Marie Wood

I knew L. Marie Wood for a decade or more before I learned at the last in-person Balticon before the pandemic that we’re basically neighbors, but never knew it. So after an earlier lunch during which we tried to figure out how we’ve somehow managed to avoid each other all these years, we got together at Brix 27 in downtown Martinsburg, West Virginia so I could learn more about who she is and how she came to be.

L. Marie Wood is a writer of psychological horror, supernatural suspense, and dark fiction of all kinds who’s been a professionally published writer for 20 years, ever since her first novel Crescendo and first short story “The Dance” were published in 2003. Her novels since then include The Promise KeeperCacophonyAccursed, and others, plus multiple short story collections, including Anathema and Phantasma. She’s also a screenwriter who’s a three-time winner of Best Horror Screenplay at the NOVA International Film Festival, Best Psychological Horror Short Script at Hollywood Horrorfest, and on and on. Her most recent publications are the novel The Open Book, accompanied by the related short story collection The Tales of Time, which contains the short stories being read by — and feared by — the characters in that first book.

We discussed the way she began her writing career selling poetry in parking lots, our differing experiences with hand selling our own books, the fears which keep horror writers up at night, the many misconceptions she had about the writing life back when he began, the uncomfortable novella she wrote when she was five, what our parents made of our horrific scribblings, the ever-present problem of dealing with rejection, our mutual love of pantsing, what should become of our papers, and much more.

(7) WHEN THEY WERE THE FUTURE. Fanac.org has posted video of a panel from this year’s Eastercon: “Conversation 2023 – The Third Row w/ John Coxon, Niall Harrison, Emily January & Abigail Nussbaum”.

At the 2023 Eastercon (Conversation), Guest of Honor Niall Harrison, and fellow “Third Row” fans John Coxon, Emily January and Abigail Nussbaum sat down for a discussion on the future of fandom (circa 2004). 

Moderated by Meg MacDonald,  the panel hilariously tells the story of Third Row Fandom, named and brought into being accidentally by Greg Pickersgill during a “Future of Fandom” panel at the 2004 Eastercon. 

Themselves dubbed “the future of fandom” by Greg, the fans seated in the third row at that panel have made good on the title, pulling others into their orbit and having an outsized influence on science fiction and science fiction fandom over the last 20 years.

Illustrated with powerpoint slides to map out their impact, this fascinating panel tells the story of a cohort of young fans maturing into movers and shakers in the field, as writers, reviewers, editors, award judges and convention organizers.

Many thanks to Conversation 2023 for providing this recording, and particularly to Alison Scott for her assistance.

(8) WORRA Q&A. The Horror Writers Association blog continues its series: “Asian Heritage in Horror: Interview with Bryan Thao Worra”.

What inspired you to start writing? 

These days I think a poet has a thousand beginnings. Sometimes I trace it back to an old encyclopedia with gorgons and dinosaurs, another, a 3rd-grade role-playing game almost no one remembers. Others it feels like an unrequited crush on a classmate, a fortune teller’s prediction about me shared to my grandmother, a ghost in an attic, or just the absence of seeing stories like my own in the news, in movies and novels, and especially poetry. Each moment was liberating in its own way….

(9) KNOW YOUR CONTRACT. “Editing Clauses in Publishing Contracts: What to Watch For” — Victoria Strauss issues warnings at Writer Beware.

Editing Clauses of Concern

Here’s an example of an editing clause that should be a dealbreaker (this and other clauses quoted below are taken from actual contracts in my possession):

“Publisher shall have the right to edit and revise the Work for any and all uses contemplated under this Agreement.”

What’s missing here? Any obligation on the publisher’s part to seek your approval before making the edits and revisions–or even allow you to see them before publication. A clause like this enables the publisher to edit at will without consulting or even informing you, and, if you do have the opportunity to see the edits, to unilaterally reject your concerns. If you sign a contract with this kind of language, you are at the mercy of the publisher and its editors. You shouldn’t be surprised if the publisher takes advantage of it.

(10) SPFBO 9. Right now Mark Lawrence’s Self-Published Fantasy Blog-Off judges are picking their favorite covers from among the 300 entrants. See them here: “SPFBO 9 – The Cover Contest!”

(11) MEMORY LANE.

1996[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

Mary Doria Russell’s The Sparrow is one of those novels that treats the Catholic Church with respect and is also a true SF novel at the same time, a very neat trick indeed. 

It was published by Villard twenty seven years ago, and was honored with an Arthur C. Clarke Award, the Otherwise Award, and a BSFA Award. It has a sequel, Children of God, published two years afterwards.

The Sparrow has one of the most perfect Beginnings I’ve ever read which you can see below if by any slim chance you’ve not read it yet. 

It was predictable, in hindsight. Everything about the history of the Society of Jesus bespoke deft and efficient action, exploration and research. During what Europeans were pleased to call the Age of Discovery, Jesuit priests were never more than a year or two behind the men who made initial contact with previously unknown peoples; indeed, Jesuits were often the vanguard of exploration. 

The United Nations required years to come to a decision that the Society of Jesus reached in ten days. In New York, diplomats debated long and hard, with many recesses and tablings of the issue, whether and why human resources should be expended in an attempt to contact the world that would become known as Rakhat when there were so many pressing needs on Earth. In Rome, the questions were not whether or why but how soon the mission could be attempted and whom to send. 

The Society asked leave of no temporal government. It acted on its own principles, with its own assets, on Papal authority. The mission to Rakhat was undertaken not so much secretly as privately—a fine distinction but one that the Society felt no compulsion to explain or justify when the news broke several years later. 

The Jesuit scientists went to learn, not to proselytize. They went so that they might come to know and love God’s other children. They went for the reason Jesuits have always gone to the farthest frontiers of human exploration. They went ad majorem Dei gloriam: for the greater glory of God. 

They meant no harm.

(12) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born May 19, 1937 Pat Roach. He was cast in the first three Indy Jones films as a decided Bad Person though he never had a name. His first genre appearance was in A Clockwork Orange as a Milkbar bouncer but his first named role was being Hephaestus in Clash of Titans. He was of an unusually stocky nature, so he got cast as a Man Ape in Conan the Destroyer, and as Bretagne the Barbarian in Red Sonja. And of course he had such a role as Zulcki in Kull the Desttoyer. Oh, and he played a very large and mostly naked Executioner in the George MacDonald Fraser scripted The Return of The Musketeers. (Died 2004.)
  • Born May 19, 1944 Peter Mayhew. Chewbacca from the beginning to The Force Awakens before his retirement from the role. The same year he first did Chewy, he had an uncredited role as the Minotaur in Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger. He also shows in the Dark Towers series as The Tall Knight.  Can we say he earned a Hugo at IguanaCon II? I know I’m stretching it there. (Died 2019.)
  • Born May 19, 1946 Andre the Giant. Fezzik in The Princess Bride, one of my all-time favorite films. Also, an uncredited role as Dagoth in Conan the Destroyer. He’s actually did a number of genre roles such as The Greatest American Hero with his American acting debut playing a Bigfoot in a two-part episode aired in 1976 on The Six Million Dollar Man titled “The Secret of Bigfoot”. He died of cardiac arrest, not at all surprising given his size and weight of over five hundred pounds. (Died 1993.)
  • Born May 19, 1948 Grace Jones, 75. First genre appearance was as Stryx in Rumstryx, an Italian TV series. Her next was Zulu in Conan the Destroyer followed by being May Day in A View to Kill and Katrina in Vamp. She was Masako Yokohama in Cyber Bandits which also starred Adam Ant. Her last several genre roles to date were Christoph/Christine in Wolf Girl, and Death aka The Devil in Gutterdammerung, a film that also featured Henry Rollins, Slash and Iggy Pop! 
  • Born May 19, 1966 Jodi Picoult, 57. Her Wonder Women work is exemplary (collected in Wonder Women, Volume 3 and Wonder Woman: Love and Murder).  She also has a most excellent two-volume YA series called the Between the Lines Universe which she wrote with Samantha van Leer. ISFDB lists her Second Glance novel as genre but I’d say it’s genre adjacent at best. Her latest work though marketed as a mainstream novel, Between the Lines Musical, is actually genre.
  • Born May 19, 1966 Polly Walker, 57. She appeared in Syfy’s Caprica, Sanctuary and Warehouse 13, as well as performing voice work in John Carter.
  • Born May 19, 1996 Sarah Grey, 27. Before DC Universe cast the present Stargirl in Brec Bassinger for that series, Legends of Tomorrow cast their Stargirl as this actress for a run of three episodes.  The episodes (“Out of Time”, “Justice Society of America” and “Camelot 3000”) are superb. I’ve not seen her as Alyssa Drake in The Order but I’ve heard Good Things about that series.

(13) COMICS SECTION.

  • Speed Bump shows even the ultimate Creator needs prompts.
  • The Far Side, on the other hand, shares an idea about Hell.  
  • The Far Side also imagined how this Star Trek personality would spend his time in Hell.

(14) KAIJU IN TRANSLATION. Never before available in English it says here. Now’s your chance to read the original Godzilla stories: “Godzilla and Godzilla Raids Again” coming from the University of Minnesota Press in October 2023.

The first English translations of the original novellas about the iconic kaijū Godzilla

Although the Godzilla films have been analyzed in detail by cultural historians, film scholars, and generations of fans, Shigeru Kayama’s two Godzilla novellas—both classics of Japanese young-adult science fiction—have never been available in English. This book finally provides English-speaking fans and critics the original texts with these first-ever English-language translations of Godzilla and Godzilla Raids Again. As human activity continues to cause mass extinctions and rapid climatic change, Godzilla provides a fable for the Anthropocene, powerfully reminding us that nature will fight back against humanity’s onslaught in unpredictable and devastating ways.

(15) IMAGINARY PAPERS. ASU’s Center for Science and the Imagination has published Imaginary Papers, Issue 14, their latest quarterly newsletter on science fiction worldbuilding, futures thinking, and imagination.

 In this issue, medievalist and SF writer Erin K. Wagner writes about C. S. Lewis’ science fiction novel That Hideous Strength, communication studies scholar and SF writer Jenna N. Hanchey considers the Africanfuturist film Neptune Frost, and we offer a brief reflection on the new essay collection Ex Marginalia, edited by Chinelo Onwualu.

(16) WHERE THE SKELETONS ARE. Ranker takes up “The Story of Theodore Rex, The Bizarre Whoopi Goldberg Dinosaur Film”.

Theodore Rex, the weirdest of weird ’90s movies, is a $33 million direct-to-video buddy cop movie starring Whoopi Goldberg and a wisecracking dinosaur. (Take as much time as you need to wrap your brain around that sentence. We understand.)

Theodore Rex wasn’t an attempt to tie into the dino-fever that swept the nation’s youth in the early ’90s; it was a genuine attempt at making a gritty sci-fi film about a detective and her dinosaur partner. That’s right. Legendary EGOT-winner Whoopi Goldberg and a Talking Man-Sized Dinosaur teamed up for a cop film and they demanded to be taken seriously. (The 90s were a very strange time.)

Even though the film is a complete nightmare, things behind the scenes of Theodore Rex were much worse. As weird as it sounds, we can’t stress this enough: nobody had fun on this Whoopi Goldberg/Dinosaur joint.

Ranker’s first little-known fact is –

Whoopi Goldberg Was Forced By Law To Be In This Movie

Whoopi Goldberg did, at one time, want to be in Theodore Rex and agreed to play the lead for $5 million and a share of the profits, but she quickly changed her mind and tried to back out (good instincts, Whoopi!). Goldberg had to learn the hard way that it’s just not that easy to simply walk away from expensive movies starring talking dinosaurs (a lesson we all could learn from). Because she had agreed to do the movie, the producers sued her for $20 million when she tried to back out. After an answering machine recording of Goldberg surfaced where she said she was “100% committed” to the project, she was forced to choose between appearing in the film or paying out the nose for a dinosaur detective movie that she agreed to appear in. There’s a famous saying in Hollywood: “The only thing worse than appearing in a terrible dinosaur movie is paying $20 million NOT to appear in a terrible dinosaur movie,” so Whoopi opted to appear in the terrible dinosaur movie.

(17) CASE SOLVED? “Who Stole Dorothy’s Ruby Slippers? A Minnesota Man Is Charged.” reports the New York Times.

A Minnesota man has been indicted on charges that he stole a pair of the famed ruby slippers worn by Judy Garland in “The Wizard of Oz” from the Judy Garland Museum in Grand Rapids, Minn., the actress’s hometown, nearly 18 years ago.

The red-sequined pumps were recovered in a sting operation that ended in Minneapolis in 2018, but the authorities said at the time that their investigation was continuing and they did not name any suspects.

On Tuesday, a federal indictment in U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota charged Terry Jon Martin of Minnesota with stealing an authentic pair of the slippers, which officials estimated have a market value of $3.5 million, from the museum sometime between Aug. 27 and Aug. 28 of 2005. Mr. Martin was indicted on one count of theft of a major artwork….

Interesting – I recently corresponded with someone from this museum. They’re always looking for things related to cousin Judy, and I’m told some of my other cousins may be making donations. (I have nothing, myself, and never met her.)

(18) AU REVOIR. Deadline has posted a list of what’s being pulled: “Disney To Remove Dozens Of Series, Including ‘Big Shot’, ‘Willow’, ‘Y’ & ‘Dollface’”.

Big Shot [Disney+]
Turner & Hooch [Disney+]
The Mysterious Benedict Society [Disney+]
The Mighty Ducks: Game Changers [Disney+]
Willow [Disney+]
The Making Of Willow [Disney+]
Diary of a Future President [Disney+]
Just Beyond [Disney+]
The World According to Jeff Goldblum [Disney+]
Marvel’s Project Hero [Disney+]
Marvel’s MPower [Disney+]
Marvel’s Voices Rising: The Music of Wakanda Forever [Disney+]
Cheaper by the Dozen remake [Disney+]
The One and Only Ivan [Disney+]
Stargirl [Disney+]
Artemis Fowl [Disney+]
The Princess [Disney+]
Encore! [Disney+]
A Spark Story [Disney+]
Black Beauty [Disney+]
Clouds [Disney+]
America the Beautiful [Disney+]
Better Nate Than Ever [Disney+]
Weird but True! [Disney+]
Timmy Failure [Disney+]
Be Our Chef [Disney+]
Magic Camp [Disney+]
Howard [Disney+]
Earth to Ned [Disney+]
Foodtastic [Disney+]
Stuntman [Disney+]
Disney Fairy Tale Weddings [Disney+]
Wolfgang [Disney+]
It’s a Dog’s Life with Bill Farmer [Disney+]
The Real Right Stuff [Disney+]
The Big Fib [Disney+]
Rogue Trip [Disney+]
More Than Robots [Disney+]
Shop Class [Disney+]
Pick the Litter [Disney+]
Own the Room [Disney+]
Among the Stars [Disney+]
Harmonious Live! [Disney+]
Pentatonix: Around the World for the Holidays [Disney+]
Y: The Last Man [FX/Hulu]
Pistol [FX/Hulu]
Little Demon [FX/Hulu]
Maggie [Hulu]
Dollface [Hulu]
The Hot Zone [Nat Geo/Hulu]
The Premise [Hulu]
Love in the Time of Corona [Hulu]
Everything’s Trash [Hulu]
Best in Snow [Hulu]
Best in Dough [Hulu]
Darby and the Dead [Hulu]
The Quest [Hulu]
Rosaline [Hulu]

(19) DISORIENTING. Steven Heller interviews Hungarian artist István Orosz in “Illusions From a Visual Magician” at Print Magazine. Includes a gallery of images like the one below.

What you see is never what you really see. It is neither real nor surreal, it is art—the result of precision drafting and intricate mathematical logic. Hungarian illustrator, animated film director and poster artist István Orosz basks in the mystique of his ambitious visual contortions, implausible objects and incredible optical illusions. He is a visual punster on the highest plane who is happiest when making confounding images and anamorphoses relying on forced perspective that echo, not coincidentally, his famous mathematics teacher (and inventor of the Rubik’s cube) Ernő Rubif….

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

Pixel Scroll 4/23/23 File The Pixels, Lest They Squeak Or Scroll

(1) ICG LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD. Congratulations to John and Christine O’Halloran, who were presented with this year’s International Costumers Guild Lifetime Achievement Award at Costume-Con 39 on April 22.

(2) AUDIOPYROMATRONICS. Maleficent Dragon caught fire during last night’s performance of Fantasmic! at Disneyland.

(3) FUNNY BUSINESS DATABASE. “Fictional Brands Archive” is just what it says it is.

Fictional Brands Archive is a collection of many fictional brands found in films, series and video games. It is structured according to the principles of brand identity design and aims to provide a comprehensive view of each fictional brand, framing them in their own fictional context and documenting their use and execution in the source work.

This website was developed as part of a Master’s thesis in Communication Design at Politecnico di Milano, supervised by Professor Francesco E. Guida, titled Fictional Brand Design.

The Research section contains the theoretical foundations upon which the project is based: it is a summary of several chapters of the thesis and is intended to serve as an informative compendium for anyone interested in learning more about fictional branding.

For example:

ACME
Name: ACME
Featured in: Looney Toons
Sector: Private
Category: Manufacturing
Medium: Series, Animated
Genre: Comedy
Year: 1920

The Acme corporation spans across several TV series, cartoons and films. The company is perhaps best-known for its appearance in the Looney Tunes universe. Its name is derived from the Greek word “acm”, which means peak or prime, but also refers to a common practice, in the era of the yellow pages that were written alphabetically, of naming companies with the initial “A” to make it appear at the top of lists. Acme seems to be a conglomerate which makes incredibly dangerous products that are known to fail at the worst of times.

Acme doesn’t have a consistent branding system, it’s logo appears in a multitude of serif, sans serif and stencil typefaces.

(4) ADVENTURES IN BOOKSELLING. In addition to everything else, Don Blyly has to combat the elements to keep Uncle Hugo’s & Uncle Edgar’s Bookstores open as he explained in his latest “How’s Business?” newsletter.

…People have been asking about the flood I wrote about last time.  When this building was built in the 1920s, Minneapolis had a single sewer system for both sanitary sewage and storm sewage, and the roof of the building was slanted so that all the rain water flowed to the center of the roof and then down through a large pipe to the sewer pipe in the basement.  With the single sewer system, every major summer rain storm effectively “flushed” the entire sewer system, resulting in untreated sewage flowing into the Mississippi and into some basements.  About 40-45 years ago Minneapolis created a second sewer system to handle only storm sewage (primarily dumping the rain water into the city lakes instead of taking it to the sanitary sewage treatment plant), and all buildings were forced to divert the rain water from their roofs away from

the sanitary sewage system.  For this building, all the water still collected in the center of the roof, but then went through a cast iron pipe around 6 inches in diameter across the ceiling of the first floor, through the side of the building, and dumped into the alley to make it to the storm sewer system on the street.  The part of the pipe outside the building is wrapped with electrical thermal tape, and then wrapped in fiber glass insulation, which is then wrapped with an aluminum-foil like coating.  This system had kept the outside pipe from freezing through all of the below zero days all winter long, but the insulation blanket had slipped down a couple of inches over the winter, so that the water no longer dripped directly onto the alley–it instead sprayed onto the bottom of the fiber glass, froze over night in the fiber glass, and then the ice started creeping up the pipe.    At the time the flood took place, there was a column of ice reaching down to the alley and reaching up the pipe for an unknown distance.  I knock away the column of ice, and nothing happened.  I then got a hammer and chisel and started breaking off pieces of ice within the pipe.  Eventually, water started dripping from the bottom of the pipe.  After more chiseling, all the ice came out of the pipe and water started gushing into the alley and stopped coming through the ceiling.  I removed the fiber glass that had slipped down over the end of the pipe, and we’ve had no water problems since.    Of course, there have been insurance problems.    When I reported the flood, I was promised that I would be contacted by an adjuster within 2 days.  Two weeks later I called again, talked to somebody who tried to claim that the water pouring through the ceiling had to have been caused by a sewer backup in the basement.    An on-site adjuster came out a few days later, did a good examination of the situation, took lots of photos of the floor, the section where part of the ceiling fell, and the water-damaged books, and agreed with me that the sewer in the basement had nothing to do with the ice dam in the alley.  A few weeks later I received a check for part of the estimated cost of repairing the floor, but nothing for repairing the ceiling.  The insurance company also wants a title-by-title inventory of every book that got wet, and I haven’t had time to do that yet….

(5) KEEP ON TREKKIN’. The Star Trek: Strange New Worlds second season teaser trailer is online.

The crew of the U.S.S. Enterprise boldly returns for new adventures full of new life and new civilizations, and, of course, exploring strange new worlds.

(6) TODAY’S THOUGHT EXPERIMENT. CBR.com asks “What if Treebeard Found Sauron’s Ring in Lord of the Rings?”

… After Sauron lost his Ring, it came into contact with a number of powerful figures. Gandalf, Elrond and Galadriel could have claimed the One Ring as their own, and each of those hypothetical situations would have ended badly. Their natural power — combined with the power of the One Ring — may not have been enough to conquer Sauron, but it would have doomed Middle-earth. But what would happen if Treebeard had happened upon the One Ring? Would it have corrupted him too, or would he have been oblivious to its effects like the powerful Tom Bombadil?…

(7) CELEBRITY BRUSH. “Students dressed as Gandalf on pub crawl meet Burnley’s Ian McKellen”. The video can be viewed at the Lancashire Telegraph link.

A hilarious video has emerged of the moment students on a Lord of the Rings pub crawl bumped into an East Lancashire actor who starred in the real movies.

22-year-old student, Ben Coyles, was dressed as Lord of the Rings character Gandalf for his birthday pub crawl in Bristol, on April 13.

Little did he know that he would end up bumping into the Burnley-born actor who played Gandalf in the movies, Sir Ian McKellen.

In the video, which has been viewed more than 3.5million times on video sharing platform TikTok, Ben can be seen posing for a picture and chatting with the legendary actor.

Scarlet Learmonth, who posted the video and was on the pub crawl, said: “It was such a shock but also a beautiful and magical moment….

(8) COSTUMERS MEMORIAL VIDEO. The Costuming Community Memorial 2023 video was shown this weekend at Costume-Con 39.

(9) MEMORY LANE.

1976[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

This is the Beginning of Bob Tucker’s “The Survey” that he wrote for  Science Fiction Five-Yearly in their sixth issue which was in 1976.

Wilson “Bob” Tucker was a member of First Fandom, coined the term space opera, and lent his name to the practice of tuckerization.   

He won the Heicon ’70 Best Fan Writer Hugo and the 1954 Best Fan Writer Retro Hugo, and was nominated for the 1951 Best Fan Writer Retro Hugo and the 1946 Best Fan Writer Retro Hugo.

And now for your considerable amusement is the Beginning of “The Survey”…

I have a weakness for fan history, and somebody made a joke about rubber chicken. It may have been Robert Bloch because he has this weakness for chickens. Preferably chicks in showers.

I wondered if it were true that all fan convention banquets served rubber chicken? For many years the allegations were rife, the references many, the jokes extensile. Were fan banquets all rubber chicken banquets? The question itself was enough to light a mental fire, enough to cause me to spring from my rocking chair and dash quickly to the bookcase to consult Harry Warner. (The elapsed time from rocking-chair-spring to bookshelf arrival was thirty-five minutes, but then this is a wide room and I did become entangled between feet and beard on the first upward spring.

I was astonished and disappointed at what I did not find in Warner’s All Our Yesterdays. I realized at once the omissions were the fault of Ed Wood and George Price, who labored many hours extracting the index which appears at the back of the book, but nevertheless Warner must share in the guilt, if only by association. The index does not have an entry “Rubber Chicken.” Nor does it have a “Chicken, rubber.” There isn’t so much as a “Banquet” entry. I know very well the fans who attended conventions in the 1940s ate something, because I was among them and I remember eating — but here, in supposedly living history, was no mention of that fact.

Still unbelieving, I turned to the text itself and discovered that Harry had mentioned worldcon banquets but did not often reproduce the menus. Of Chicago, 1940, he said: “They got free meeting rooms (in the hotel) in return for staging a banquet at which they needed to guarantee only fifty dinners at one dollar each.” And later: “The banquet that night had food in quantities approximating the cost of the meal.” Nothing about chicken, rubber.

I was at that banquet but creeping senility has long since robbed me of the memory of what was served. (However, I doubt that it was hamburgers or hotdogs.)

Of the 1941 Denver worldcon, Warner reported that bread was the banquet entree: “There were forty fans on hand for the banquet. After the breaking of bread, there were many informal talks.” It should be noted that again, Wood and Price failed to include an entry for “bread” in the index, and I’m not aware of any stale jokes about rubber bread in fandom — not even from Bloch.

But now, at last, a partial success! The Pacificon, 1946, served chicken. Yes, they did. Read Warner on page 262: “More than ninety fans and pros ate thin soup and halves of chicken, and mulled a lot of statistics that Don Day gave …” Note that. The first admission of chicken appears in history, together with a convention menu: thin soup, halved chicken, mulled statistics. No doubt a satisfactory meal for the $2.50 fee charged in that year. (Also please note the alarming rate of inflation: the official banquet had rocketed from only one dollar per person in 1940, to two and one-half in 1946. Remember this when someone blames Nixon for inflationary pressures.) I shouldn’t have to state at this point that Wood and Price are again remiss. The index carries no mention of soup, chicken, statistics….

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born April 23, 1879 Talbot Mundy. English-born, but based for most of his life in the United States, he also wrote under the pseudonym of Walter Galt. Best known as the author of King of the Khyber Rifles which is not really genre and the Jimgrim series which is genre, much of his work was published in pulp magazines. (Died 1940.)
  • Born April 23, 1923 Avram Davidson. Equally at home writing mystery, fantasy or science fiction, he wrote two splendid Ellery Queen mysteries, And on the Eighth Day and The Fourth Side of the Triangle. I’m fond of his Vergil Magus series if only for the names of the novels, like The Phoenix and the Mirror or, The Enigmatic Speculum. There was a 2020 audiobook edition of The Avram Davidson Treasury: A Tribute Collection edited by Robert Silverberg and Grania Davis, first published in 1998, with afterwords by Ray Bradbury and Harlan Ellison, and intros by many other sff writers. (Died 1993.)
  • Born April 23, 1935 Tom Doherty, 88. Once publisher of Ace Books who left that in 1980 to found Tor Books. Tor became a subsidiary of St. Martin’s Press in 1987; it became part of the Holtzbrinck group, now part of Macmillan in the U.S. Doherty was awarded a World Fantasy Award in the Lifetime Achievement category at the 2005 World Fantasy Convention for his contributions to the fantasy field.
  • Born April 23, 1946 Blair Brown, 77. Emily Jessup In Altered States (based on the Paddy Chayefsky novel) was her first genre role. Later roles include Nina Sharp, the executive director of Massive Dynamic, on Fringe, an amazing role indeed, and Elizabeth Collins Stoddard in the 2004 television remake of Dark Shadows. Her last genre role I think was Kate Durning on Elementary.
  • Born April 23, 1955 Paul J. McAuley, 68. Four Hundred Billion Stars, his first novel, won the Philip K. Dick Award, Fairyland which I adore won an Arthur C. Clarke Award and a John W. Campbell Memorial Award for Best SF Novel. His short story, “The Choice”, won a Sturgeon Award, and “Pasquale’s Angel” won a Sideways Award. He was Toastmaster along Kim Newman at Interaction.
  • Born April 23, 1962 John Hannah, 61. Here for being Jonathan Carnahan in The MummyThe Mummy Returns, and there was apparently a third film as well though let’s not talk about it please, The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor. In a more meaty role, he was the title characters in Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, and of late he’s been Holden Radcliffe on Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. series. Though not even remotely genre adjacent, he was Rebus in the BBC adaptation of the Ian Rankin series. 
  • Born April 23, 1973 Naomi Kritzer, 50. I saw that her 2015 short story “Cat Pictures Please” had been a Hugo Award winner at MidAmeriCon II, so I went and purchased Cat Pictures Please and Other Stories off Apple Books so I could read it. It’s since been expanded continued in two more novels, Catfishing on CatNet, which won the Lodestar Award, and the Chaos on Catnet. DisCon III saw her nominated for two Hugos, one for her “Monster” novelette and one for her most excellent “Little Free Library” short story. She also picked up a nomination at Dublin 2019 for her “The Thing About Ghost Stories” novelette. 
  • Born April 23, 1985 Angel Locsin, 38. She starred as the superhero in the epic 170-episode Darna series on her country’s television. Her character looks suspiciously like Wonder Woman. 

(11) COMICS SECTION.

  • Close to Home shows The Wizard of Oz gang examining one character’s Ancestry.com results.

(12) A CRITIC’S CHOICE. Abigail Nussbaum shared “The 2023 Hugo Awards: My Hugo Ballot” at Asking the Wrong Questions. Makes a good reading list.

The deadline for nominating work for the 2023 Hugo awards is a week away. If you’re eligible to nominate, you should have received an email from the Chengdu Worldcon (if not, you can query them here). This year’s nominations are likely to be unusual due to the high number of Chinese Worldcon members—it’s entirely possible, and even likely, that the ballot will include Chinese-language work that hasn’t received an English translation, which will render the voting phase somewhat tricky. Still, it’s not as if I’m used to seeing my taste reflected perfectly by this award even in years when there is no language barrier, so I see no reason not to continue as I’ve always done, nominating the things I thought were excellent last year, and calling attention to them in the hopes that others, too, find them worthy. 

In compiling my nominations this year, I made great use of two tremendous resources, the Locus Recommended Reading List and the Hugo Spreadsheet of Doom. I also appreciated all the authors and critics who have posted their own award recommendations on their blogs and on twitter. The conversation about awards eligibility posts was settled long ago on the “pro” side, and I have no problem with people who try to promote their own work. But I always pay more attention to (and get more utility out of) the people who recommend the things they loved and would like to see nominated as well as the things they’ve published….

(13) VIDEO’S FOREVER HOME. Polygon shows that “Anime Blu-rays and DvDs are more popular than ever”. “Blu-rays are great collectibles — and you never have to worry about your favorites disappearing from streaming”

… Calculating anime home video sales is complicated. The market for it in Japan has been declining almost yearly for the past decade — coinciding with the worldwide move to digital platforms — but specific releases, like the first Demon Slayer film, can inspire greater interest. That movie has both the highest box office in Japanese history, and sold over a million copies on Blu-ray and DVD within the first three days of its release. To put that kind of success in perspective, only three American blockbuster films in 2022 sold more than a million copies throughout the entire year.

But the hunger for anime has only grown in the U.S., to the extent that in August 2022, Sony acquired Right Stuf Anime, a distributor established in 1987 that expanded into selling anime, live-action releases, toys, manga, and all manner of collectibles. (Sony also owns Crunchyroll, an anime streaming service.) In an era where anime home video was far from ubiquitous — one might find an ad in the back of a magazine here, a vendor with a massive collection at a convention there, and a smattering of opportunities among message boards — Right Stuf’s mission was to give the anime consumer “everything in one place” and a trusted system of delivering it to them. It was a fruitful operation. At this point, Right Stuf says it’s the largest online seller of anime in North America….

(14) HEADED FOR TOUCHDOWN. “A daring company is about to try landing on the moon. You can watch it.” Mashable tells how.

Other space ventures and spacefaring nations have tried and failed before.

Undeterred by previous flops, a Japanese company will attempt to land a robotic spacecraft on the moon. If it succeeds, ispace could claim the first commercial lunar landing in history.

The company will broadcast the event live at 11:40 a.m. ET April 25, 2023, giving viewers a peek behind the curtains at mission control in Tokyo as engineers oversee the challenging feat. Lunar landings are rare in and of themselves, let alone opportunities for the public to watch them unfold in real time.

The mission, known as HAKUTO-R(opens in a new tab), is one of several commercial lunar missions happening soon. Others in the pipeline are an outgrowth of NASA‘s Commercial Lunar Payload Services Program, established in 2018 to recruit the private sector(opens in a new tab) to help deliver cargo to the moon. ispace(opens in a new tab), a startup specializing in landing vehicles, couldn’t directly participate in the NASA program because it isn’t an American company, but it is collaborating on a contract led by Draper Technologies based in Massachusetts to land on the moon in 2025….

(15) CLEANING UP AFTER. Here is more about the local impact of the other day’s Starship explosion. “SpaceX’s Starship went down in a blaze of glory—and left a mess for locals who warned about the impact” at Yahoo!

…It resulted in an explosion that caused residents near the launch site in South Texas to notice ashy particulates falling from the sky and vibrations in their classrooms and homes.

The city of Port Isabel said there is no immediate concern for people’s health and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk declared the fireworks show a victory, saying SpaceX “learned a lot for the next test launch in a few months.”

But for the community near the site, it will take time to clean up from this one—a nearby road was covered in debris and temporarily closed and teams dedicated to protecting the bays and estuaries of the Texas coastal bend are busy surveying the damage. It’s an area where shorebirds have had their habitat disrupted from prototypes that exploded after previous test launches, and at least two species have stopped or reduced nesting in recent years, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

It’s these concerns that drew residents to release a statement before the launch, blasting SpaceX and elected officials for declining to meet about Starship and often cutting off their access to the beach.

“Whenever Elon Musk and his accomplices, the Cameron County Commissioners and Texas General Land Office, close Boca Chica beach for his pet project SpaceX, they destroy our native life ways.” wrote Juan B. Mancias, Carrizo Comecrudo Tribal Chairman.

The local community’s clash with SpaceX to protect and access their beach and wildlife represents a striking contrast to the company’s grand vision for the future. SpaceX wants to make humans a multi-planetary society, and Musk has shared his thoughts that getting humans to Mars and the “greater Solar System” could protect us if large-scale devastation happened like an asteroid hitting Earth….

(16) VIDEO OF THE DAY. New and improved! Someone has figured out “How Ant-Man and the Wasp Quantumania Should Have Ended”.

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

Pixel Scroll 2/16/23 My AI Is Up Here

(1) MISPLACED FEAR. Behind a paywall in The Atlantic, Margaret Atwood tells the answer to “Who’s Afraid of The Handmaid’s Tale?” Chosen as the magazine’s “One Story to Read Today”, her piece was given this introduction:

A Virginia school board recently demanded the removal of The Handmaid’s Tale from school-library shelves. Its author, Margaret Atwood, replied in the form of an Atlantic essay this past weekend, arguing that trying to stop young people from reading something will only make them want to read it more. “Has sex become too readily available?” she writes. “Banal, even? A boring chore? If so, what better way to make it fascinating again than to prohibit all mention of it?”

The article begins:

It’s shunning time in Madison County, Virginia, where the school board recently banished my novel The Handmaid’s Tale from the shelves of the high-school library. I have been rendered “unacceptable.” Governor Glenn Youngkin enabled such censorship last year when he signed legislation allowing parents to veto teaching materials they perceive as sexually explicit.

This episode is perplexing to me, in part because my book is much less sexually explicit than the Bible, and I doubt the school board has ordered the expulsion of that. Possibly, the real motive lies elsewhere. The conservative Christian group Focus on the Family generated the list of “unacceptable” books that reportedly inspired the school board’s action, and at least one member of the public felt the school board was trying to “limit what kids can read” based on religious views. Could it be that the board acted under the mistaken belief that The Handmaid’s Tale is anti-Christian?…

(2) IMAGINARY PAPERS. Today the ASU Center for Science and the Imagination published the latest issue of Imaginary Papers, their quarterly newsletter on science fiction worldbuilding, futures thinking, and imagination.

In this issue, environmental humanities scholar Pamela Carralero writes about the Scottish climate fiction graphic novel IDP: 2043, computer scientist Judy Goldsmith writes about ethics-focused approaches to E. M. Forster’s “The Machine Stops,” and futurist Suzette Brooks Masters writes about a new report on imagining better futures for democracy.

(3) SPEAK SOFTLY. “Michael Dorn trolled Star Trek haters with Worf voice in elevator” at EW.

Dorn — who, as Klingon character Worf, had to routinely endure hours of prosthetic makeup — recalled the interaction Thursday as part of The View‘s special Star Trek: The Next Generation cast reunion. The reunion was hosted by Whoopi Goldberg, who reprised her role as Guinan from the series as the ABC set transformed into the sci-fi show’s Ten Forward lounge….

(4) FOSTER Q&A. Media Death Cult’s Moid Moidelhoff conducts “The Big Interview” with Alan Dean Foster.

Alan Dean Foster is a living legend of science fiction and fantasy. He has written over 60 novels across multiple original series but is perhaps best known for his novelisations of film scripts including Star Trek, The Thing, Alien, and of course, he was the ghostwriter for the original Star Wars novel.

(5) SIMULTANEOUS TIMES. Space Cowboy Books in Joshua Tree, CA has released episode 60 of Simultaneous Times on all streaming services including Podomatic. Stories featured in this episode:

  • “Turf War 2200” by Matthew Sanborn Smith – with music by Phog Masheeen. Read by Jean-Paul Garnier
  • “Dinosaur Personal Ads” by Sarina Dorie – with music by Fall Precauxions. Read by Jean-Paul Garnier

(6) MEMORY LANE.

1908[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

There are classics in children’s literature, and Kenneth Grahame’s The Wind in the Willows is definitely one of them. 

It was first published by Methuen in 1908. Most of you probably know the Arthur Rackham illustrated version but that isn’t the quoted edition as that was the Limited Editions Club in 1940 which was, errr, a limited edition with a slipcase. This has a frontpiece illustrated by Graham Robertson as shown below. No other illustrations.

No, I don’t know what young children or Eden have to do with The Wind in the Willows but it’s been a long time since I read it.

I think that it’s a quintessential English novel of manners with animals representing the various English human characters you’d find in other novels. The closet comparison I think of oddly enough is the Lord Peter Wimsey mysteries. Not sure why. 

I’ve read it a number of times and it’s always a delight. The characters are well drawn, the setting is fun and the situations are humorous to say the least. 

And now the Beginning…

THE Mole had been working very hard all the morning, spring-cleaning his little home. First with brooms, then with dusters; then on ladders and steps and chairs, with a brush and a pail of whitewash; till he had dust in his throat and eyes, and splashes of whitewash all over his black fur, and an aching back and weary arms. Spring was moving in the air above and in the earth below and around him, penetrating even his dark and lowly little house with its spirit of divine discontent and longing. It was small wonder, then, that he suddenly flung down his brush on the floor, said, “Bother!” and “O blow!” and also “Hang spring-cleaning!” and bolted out of the house without even waiting to put on his coat. Something up above was calling him imperiously, and he made for the steep little tunnel which answered in his case to the gravelled carriage-drive owned by animals whose residences are nearer to the sun and air. So he scraped and scratched and scrabbled and scrooged, and then he scrooged again and scrabbled and scratched and scraped, working busily with his little paws and muttering to himself, “Up we go! Up we go!” till at last, pop! his snout came out into the sunlight and he found himself rolling in the warm grass of a great meadow.

“This is fine!” he said to himself. “This is better than whitewashing!” The sunshine struck hot on his fur, soft breezes caressed his heated brow, and after the seclusion of the cellarage he had lived in so long the carol of happy birds fell on his dulled hearing almost like a shout. Jumping off all his four legs at once, in the joy of living and the delight of spring without its cleaning, he pursued his way across the meadow till he reached the hedge on the further side.

(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born February 16, 1938 Chuck Crayne. An important conrunner who died before his time. (I’m quoting Mike there, so please don’t complain.) He was a LASFS member who was most active during the Sixties and Seventies. You can read Mike’s full post on him here. (Died 2009.)
  • Born February 16, 1953 Mike Glyer, 70. I decide to let one of y’all give him Birthday greeting so let’s hear Paul Weimer do it: “I first became of the inestimable Mr. Glyer because of seeing his name in Locus, multiple times, for something called File 770. When I found it online and started to read the blog, I only stepped in the middle of a stream of decades long science fiction fandom that has been his pole star. Mr. Glyer’s fandom has been an inspiration and model for myself, and doubtless, many others. I am glad that I have helped in my own small way to help with the edifice of SF fandom that he has created and in a very real way, embodies. Although I still have not yet managed to meet him in person, I am proud to call him a friend. Happy Birthday Mike!”
  • Born February 16, 1954 Iain M. Banks. I’m certain I’ve read the entire Culture series even though I certainly didn’t read them in the order they were written. My favorites? The Hydrogen Sonata was bittersweet for being the last ever, Use of Weapons and the very first, Consider Phlebas, are also my favs. And though not genre, I’m still going to make a plug for Raw Spirit: In Search of the Perfect Dram. It’s about whisky, good food and his love of sports cars. (Died 2013.)
  • Born February 16, 1957 Ardwight Chamberlain, 66. The voice of Kosh on Babylon 5. And that tickles me, as I don’t think they credited it during the series, did they? Most of his other voice work English dubbing versions of Japanese anime including Digimon: Digital Monsters and The Swiss Family Robinson: Flone of the Mysterious Island.
  • Born February 16, 1964 Christopher Eccleston, 59. The Ninth Doctor who’s my third favorite among the new ones behind David Tennant and Jodie Whittaker. Other genre work includes 28 Days LaterThe SeekerG.I. Joe: The Rise of CobraThor: The Dark WorldThe LeftoversThe Second Coming and The Borrowers. He also played Macbeth at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre and the Barbican Theatre

(8) COMICS SECTION.

(9) BELATED BIRTHDAY WISHES. [Item by Daniel Dern.] A few more “Happy 100th, Charles Schultz” comic strips that I’m told were not in the Schulz Museum tribute list previously linked.

(10) IT COULD BE SFF. [Item by Alan Baumler.] A snippet from a review by Abigail Nussbaum which made me, at least, want to read the book. “Telluria by Vladimir Sorokin” at Lawyers, Guns & Money.

I’ve been waiting a while for Strange Horizons to run my review of Vladimir Sorokin’s 2013 novel Telluria, published last year by NYRB Classics with a translation by Max Lawton. I wasn’t familiar with Sorokin, a Russian writer who began his career poking at the foibles of the Soviet Union, and has continued to do the same with Putin’s Russia, before picking up this book. But the premise intrigued me, not least because it seemed to intersect with science fiction. Telluria is part of a loose sequence of novels which all take place in a post-post-Soviet setting which Sorokin has dubbed the New Middle Ages, in which familiar geopolitical entities have fractured and new battle lines have been drawn. In this novel, Sorokin introduces the titular drug, which produces euphoria by transporting users to a world where their deepest desires are realized—desires that can be political or ideological as well as personal.

(11) GOOD ITALIAN WOOD, GOOD ITALIAN IRON. “Factory Photos Show Fully Private Space Station Under Construction” at Futurism.

Space startup Axiom Space is making significant progress on its all-private space station dubbed Axiom Station, which it claims will be “the successor to the International Space Station.”

Images shared by former NASA astronaut Micahel López-Alegría, who was part of the startup’s first all-private astronaut mission to the ISS last April, show massive segments of the Axiom Station being fabricated at a factory in Italy….

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

Pixel Scroll 11/29/22 Hush, Little Pixel, Don’t You Cry; Papa’s Going To Sing You A Scroll

(1) FUTURE TENSE. The November 2022 entry in the Future Tense Fiction series is “Universal Waste” by Palmer Holton, a story about a small-town cop, a murder, and a massive futuristic recycling operation.

It was published along with a response essay, “The Laws of Thermodynamics Will Not Bend for Landfills” by Josh Lepawsky, a researcher on pollution and waste at Memorial University in Canada.

(2) WISCON 2023. Kit Stubbs, Treasurer of SF3, WisCon’s parent not-for-profit organization, rallies everyone with the hashtag Let’s #RebuildWisCon!

WisCon 46 in 2023 is happening!
We are thrilled to announce that Gillian Sochor (she/her, G is soft like “giraffe”, Sochor like “super soaker”) is joining Lindsey and Sherry as our third co-chair. This means we are going ahead with an in-person con for 2023!…

Finances
Thanks to everyone who donated and offered matching gifts last year, we were able to cover the cost of our 2022 hotel contract. We are now looking to raise $30,000 in this year’s annual fundraiser which will allow us to do all kinds of awesome things for WisCon 46 in May 2023, including:

Offset the cost of hotel rooms for members who need to isolate due to COVID-19 and who otherwise might not be able to due to the financial burden

Purchase more high-quality air filters for con spaces and masks for members

Expand the meal voucher program, introduced last year, which enables members in need to eat for free at local restaurants

Continue to offer CART services for transcription, now that the state of Wisconsin is no longer providing funds to offset that cost

And part of that $30,000 will go towards rebuilding WisCon’s savings after last year.

If you weren’t aware, WisCon can’t pay for itself with registrations alone. We try to keep the cost of registration down to make our con as affordable as possible. But what that means is that we’re counting on the members of our community who can chip in extra to do so! Please donate today to help #RebuildWisCon!…

WisCon Member Assistance Fund
This year we’re also looking to raise $3,000 for our WisCon Member Assistance Fund! The WMAF is a specially designated fund that can only be used to provide travel grants to help members attend WisCon. Please consider making a donation via PayPal.

(3) THIS COULD BE YOUR BIG BREAK! Daniel Dern says he won’t be covering Arisia 2023, and suggests I ask another Filer would be interested in getting a press credential to attend and reporting on the convention The upcoming Arisia will be held from January 13-16, 2023, at the Westin Boston Seaport hotel. Vaccination Verification required. If you’re game, email me at mikeglyer (at) cs (dot) com and I will put you in touch with the con. 

(4) GOTHAM AWARDS. Everything Everywhere All at Once, the multiverse-spanning adventure, won Best Feature at the Gotham Awards 2022 reports Variety. And cast member Ke Huy Quan won Best Supporting Performance.   I don’t know why I’ve never heard of the Gotham Awards before, but if they keep going to sff movies I’ll be talking about them in the Scroll again.

(5) NEXT YEAR’S LOSCON. Loscon 49 will be held over Thanksgiving Weekend in 2023. The theme: “Enchanted Loscon”. Guests of Honor — Writer: Peter S. Beagle; Artist: Echo Chernik; Fan: Elayne Pelz. At the LAX Marriott Hotel from November 24-26, 2023. More information at: www.loscon.org.

(6) ZOOMIN’ ABOUT PITTSBURGH. The last FANAC Fan History Zoom of 2022 will be on December 10, about the major fannish breakout in Pittsburgh in the late Sixties and Seventies. Write to [email protected] if you want to get on the list to see it live.

(7) THE BARD IS OPEN. CrimeReads hears from Mary Robinette Kowal “On Writing a New Take on The Thin Man, Set in Space”, about the experience of creating her latest novel.

…Science fiction and fantasy, on the other hand, are driven by the aesthetic. They are about the look and feel. The sense of wonder. They don’t have an inherent plot structure. 

This means that you can map Science Fiction onto a Mystery structure easily. 

When I decided I wanted to do “The Thin Man in space,” I needed to understand the structure of the Nick and Nora movies specifically. So I began by watching all six of the films. This was a great hardship, as I’m sure you can imagine.  Here are some of the beats that are in all of the films: A happily married couple and their small dog solve crime while engaging in banter and drinking too much. Interestingly, they also contain the element that Nick does not want to investigate and Nora really wants him to.  Nick almost always gets along well with law enforcement. He has an uneasy relationship with the wealth of Nora’s family. There’s always a scene in which he goes off sleuthing on his own and carefully looks over a crime scene. More than one murder. 

From there, I started building the world of the novel. THAT is the hallmark of science-fiction and fantasy. We engage in worldbuilding in which we think about how changing an element or introducing a technology has ripple effects. For this, I knew I wanted to be on a cruise ship in space. There’s a writing workshop that my podcast, Writing Excuses, runs every year on a cruise ship. I based my ship, the ISS Lindgren on the types of things that happen on those and extrapolated for the future…. 

(8) UNDER THE HAMMER: GRRM SIGNED MSS. Heritage Auctions is taking bids the rest of the day on “George R. R. Martin. Two Signed Early Partial Manuscripts of Game of Thrones”. Bidding was up to $10,500 when last checked.

George R. R. Martin. Two Signed Early Partial Manuscripts of Game of Thrones. Includes: 1 box, 384 leaves. Typed, dated November 1994. Boldly signed on the cover page in blue sharpie. [Together with]: 3 boxes, 888 leaves. Typed, dated July 1995. Boldly signed on the cover page in blue sharpie.

Two early drafts of the first book from A Song of Ice and Fire, the hit HBO series and international phenomenon.

The impact that A Game of Thrones has had on the fantasy genre, both as a novel and a television series, is almost impossible to exaggerate. Named to the BBC list of “100 ‘most inspiring’ novels” in 2019 alongside C.S. Lewis’s The Chronicles of Narnia, Frank Herbert’s Dune, and Ursula K. Le Guin’s Earthsea trilogy, it almost single-handedly cemented “grimdark” as a fantasy subgenre and helped inspire the likes of Joe Abercrombie and Marlon James, both masters of fantasy in their own right. The overwhelming success of the HBO show redefined fantasy for the general public and has been lauded by both authors and publishers as responsible for boosted sales in fantasy and science fiction….

…As is his typical process, Martin created five copies of each draft of Game of Thrones. Two were kept for his personal files; one was sent to his editor; a fourth was given to Texas A&M University where the archive of Martin’s oeuvre resides; and this, the fifth and final copy, was initially donated to a ConQuesT charity auction, held annually in Kansas City. Parris McBride, Martin’s wife, hoped the charity would get “a few bucks for them;” alas, no one bid on the items. They were then picked up by one of the original book researchers for A Song of Ice and Fire, and from there found their way to Heritage….

(9) AMAZING STORIES KICKSTARTER FINAL WEEK ANNOUNCEMENT. Amazing Stories is in the FINAL week of raising funds through its Kickstarter for “Amazing Stories Annual Special: SOL SYSTEM by Steve Davidson”.

Our annual special issue – Amazing Stories: SOL SYSTEM – a double-sized issue, both in digital and print, of Amazing Stories. It will be chock full of stories set in exciting futures within our solar system. The publication is set for April 2023.

We’re also planning an online convention for April 2023 to celebrate this issue as well. Most of the contributing authors will be there!

We’re really excited about this and we know you’ll love it. Backers of our Kickstarter can choose digital copies of the magazine, print copies, convention memberships, and many more bonus add-ons as well.

(10) THE WATTYS. The winners of Wattpad’s 2022 Watty Awards have posted. The Grand Prize Winner, worth $5,000, is Nichole Cava’s The Vampire Always Bites Twice.

There are also Category Award winners for Fantasy, Science Fiction, Horror, Paranormal, and Fanfiction, to name a few. The website’s format makes it hard to distinguish the shortlist and the winner – more work than I was willing to invest. If you want to try, they’re all at the link.

– Wattpad, the global entertainment company and leading webnovel platform, announced the 2022 Watty Award winners! With over 500 winners across nine languages, the 2022 Watty Awards were the biggest edition yet. This year’s USD $5,000 English-language grand prize went to Nichole Cava for The Vampire Always Bites Twice (55.1K reads), which follows a criminal necromancer and vampire private eye that unexpectedly team up to solve the case of a missing barista. 

In addition to cash prizes, 2022 Watty Award prizes included multiple publishing and entertainment adaptation opportunities from Wattpad WEBTOON Studios and the Wattpad WEBTOON Book Group. Among the more than 30,000 entries for the 2022 Watty Awards, these winning stories were selected…

(11) PYUN OBITUARY. Albert Pyun, director of Cyborg, Interstellar Civil War, Tales of an Ancient Empire,  the Saturn-winning The Sword and the Sorceror and the 1990 version of Captain America, has died November 26 at 69, after several years of dementia and multiple sclerosis.

(12) MEMORY LANE.

2007 [By Cat Eldridge.] Dorothy and Toto in Oz Park (2007)

Fifteen years ago, a very special statue went up in Oz. No, not that Oz, but the park in Chicago, so first let’s talk about that park. It had been developed as part of the Lincoln Park Urban Renewal Area during the Seventies, and this park was formally named the Oz Park in 1976 to honor Baum who settled in Chicago in 1891 in an area west of the park. 

During the Nineties, the Oz Park Advisory Council and Lincoln Park Chamber of Commerce hired Chicago artist John Kearney to do all the figures for the Park. 

He first created a sculpture of the Tin Man which he fashioned out of chrome bumpers. It was his last such sculpture done that way as the bumpers of chrome were increasingly scarce and thus way too expensive.

Next came the Cowardly Lion which was cast in bronze. Take a look at the detail in the fur — quite amazing, isn’t it? 

Next is the rather colorful Scarecrow that is a seven-foot-tall sculpture, cast in an amazing twenty-two separate pieces in Kearney’s own foundry on Cape Cod.  

Now we come to the last statue, Dorothy and Toto. This final statue to be completed was Dorothy and Toto, using the so-called lost wax technique which you can see an example of here being done. Kearney added paint for the blue dress and the iconic ruby red shoes. The final statue was installed fifteen years ago. 

(13) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born November 29, 1910 Kendell Foster Crossen. He was the creator and writer of the Green Lama stories.  The character was a Buddhist crime fighter whose powers were activated upon the recitation of the Tibetan chant om mani padme hum. He also wrote Manning Draco series, an intergalactic insurance investigator, four of which are can be found in Once Upon a Star: A Novel of the Future. The usual suspects has a really deep catalog of his genre work, and the Green Lama stories have been made into audio works as well. (Died 1981.)
  • Born November 29, 1918 Madeleine L’Engle. Writer whose genre work included the splendid YA sequence starting off with A Wrinkle in Time, which won the Newbery Medal and a host of other awards, and has been made into a 2003 television film and a theatrical film directed by Ava DuVernay. She produced numerous loosely-linked sequels, including A Wind in the Door, A Swiftly Tilting Planet, Many Waters, and An Acceptable Time. In addition to her fiction, she wrote poetry and nonfiction, much of which related to her universalist form of Christian faith. She was honored with a World Fantasy Award for Life Achievement in 1997. In 2013, Crater L’Engle on Mercury was named for her. (Died 2007.) (JJ)
  • Born November 29, 1925 Leigh Couch. Science Teacher and Member of First Fandom. Active in fandom, along with her husband and children, during the 1960s and 70s, she was a member of the Ozark Science Fiction Association and one of the editors of its fanzine Sirruish. She was on the committee for the bid to host Worldcon in Hawaii in 1981. She was honored for her contributions as Fan Guest of Honor at the first Archon, the long-running regional convention which grew out of that early St. Louis-area fandom. (Died 1998.) (JJ)
  • Born November 29, 1942 Maggie Thompson, 80. Librarian, Editor, and Fan who, with her husband Don, edited from the 1960s to the 90s the fanzines Harbinger, Comic Art, Rainy Days, and Newfangles, and wrote a column for The Buyer’s Guide for Comic Fandom. When this became the professional publication Comic Buyer’s Guide in 1983, because of their extensive knowledge of comics, she and her husband were hired as editors; after he died in 1994, she continued as editor until it ceased publication in 2013. Under their editorial auspices, it won two Eisner Awards and the Jack Kirby Award. Together they were honored with the Inkpot Award, and twice with the Comic Fan Art Award for Favorite Fan Writers.
  • Born November 29, 1950 Kevin O’Donnell Jr. Writer who produced a number of genre novels and more than 70 short fiction works. He was chair of the Nebula Award Committee for nearly a decade, and business manager for the SFWA Bulletin for several years; he also chaired for 7 years SFWA’s Grievance Committee, which advocates for authors who experience difficulties in dealing with editors, publishers, agents, and other entities. He received the Service to SFWA Award in 2005, and after his death, the award was renamed in his honor. (Died 2012.)
  • Born November 29, 1969 Greg Rucka, 53. Comic book writer and novelist, known for his work on Action ComicsBatwoman and Detective Comics. If you’ve not read it, I recommend reading Gotham Central which he co-created with Ed Brubaker, and over at Marvel, the four-issue Ultimate Daredevil and Elektra which he wrote is quite excellent as well. I’ve read none of his novels, so will leave y’all to comment on those. He’s a character in the CSI comic book Dying in the Gutters miniseries as someone who accidentally killed a comics gossip columnist while attempting to kill Joe Quesada over his perceived role in the cancellation of Gotham Central.
  • Born November 29, 1976 Chadwick Boseman. Another death that damn near broke my heart. The Black Panther / T’Challa in the Marvel metaverse. The same year that he was first this being, he was Thoth in Gods of Egypt. (If you’ve not heard of this, no one else did either as it bombed quite nicely at the box office.) He was Sergeant McNair on Persons Unknown which is at least genre adjacent I would say.  And he even appeared on Fringe in the “Subject 9” episode as Mark Little / Cameron James.  I understand they did a stellar tribute to him in the new Black Panther film.  His Black Panther was nominated at Dublin 2019 for a Hugo but lost to another exemplary film, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse. (Died 2020.)

(14) COMICS SECTION.

(15) CHRISTOPHER TOLKIEN PANEL. The 2023 Oxford Literary Festival will host “The Great Tales Never End: in Memory of Christopher Tolkien” on March 28. Tickets available at the link.

The Bodleian’s Tolkien archivist Catherine McIlwaine, writer John Garth and academic Stuart Lee discuss the role of JRR Tolkien’s son, Christopher, in promoting the works of his father and furthering understanding about them.

McIlwaine is co-editor with Bodley’s Librarian Richard Ovenden of The Great Tales Never End: Essays in Memory of Christopher Tolkien, while Garth and Lee have both contributed essays. Christopher was his father’s literary executor and published 24 volumes of his father’s work over four decades, more than Tolkien published during his lifetime. The collection of essays includes reflections on Christopher’s work by world-renowned scholars and reminiscences by family members.

McIlwaine is the Tolkien archivist at the Bodleian Libraries. Garth is an author and freelance writer and editor. He is author of The Worlds of J.R.R. Tolkien: The Places that Inspired Middle-earth and Tolkien and the Great War: The Threshold of Middle-earth. Lee is an English lecturer at the University of Oxford who lectures on fantasy literature with a focus on Tolkien. Discussions are chaired by Grace Khuri, a DPhil candidate at Oxford and the first Oxford postgraduate to write a PhD solely on Tolkien.

(16) HOW TO CONTACT THE CHENGDU WORLDCON. The Chengdu Worldcon posted this list of its “working emails”:

(17) DOING RESEARCH AND ASKING EXPERTS. Gideon P. Smith steers writers toward resources for “Writing the Science Right” at the SFWA Blog.

Getting the science right in SF can make the difference between writing cute stories and great science fiction. If you are a non-scientist writing SF and want to know how to do that, then this blog post is for you….

(18) LA ARTIST & WRITER. Some of you already know him, and All About Jazz invites the rest of you to “Meet Tony Gleeson”.

Tell Us A Bit About Yourself.

I’m an artist by vocation and a musician by avocation (I’ve played guitar all my life and picked up keyboards a couple of decades back). Music of all kinds has always been a major part of my life, but early on I made the choice to pursue the visual arts as my career. I spent my so-called formative years on the east coast, in upstate New York, Washington DC, and New York City. When I attended art school in Los Angeles, I fell in love with southern California and after a few years back in Manhattan, I persuaded my wife Annie to move there— quite an adventurous step for her as she’d never been on the West Coast. We’ve been Angelenos since 1977. We have three grown kids pursuing their own lives and adventures, but the house is hardly empty or still with our two cats, Django and Mingus, and our bird Charlie.

Annie’s been an NICU RN and I’ve run an illustration and design studio ever since we got here. I figure I’ve had around a thousand illustrations published: magazines, newspapers, book covers, catalogues and product illustrations. I’ve also done concept art for film, TV, advertising, and toy and product design.

I was a bookseller for several years early in the new millennium. I’m also a writer, with ten crime novels published in Britain and the United States. The most recent, A Different Kind of Dead, was released in the U.S. by Wildside in 2021. The new one, Find the Money, also by Wildside, is due for release before this year’s end. I’m kind of a polymath with a lot of interests (including film, baseball, classic mysteries, science fiction, and comic art) that tend to veer into obsessions….

(19) TAKEN BY SURPRISE, IN A GOOD WAY. “Slip Through Your Fingers: Thoughts on Andor by Abigail Nussbaum at Asking the Wrong Questions.

Look, I was not expecting this. Two years and more than a dozen shows into the Disney+ experiment, I think we’ve all developed a decent enough sense of what to expect from the television incarnations of the two biggest entertainment franchises on the planet. And for the most part, these shows have been fine. Some fun moments. Some actors who are better than their material. Maybe a hint of a political idea. There was no reason for Andor—a prequel to a prequel whose original premise was already quite dodgy—to be any better.

And then it turned out to be good. Not just good for Star Wars, but just plain good. Best TV of the year good. I have to admit that I went a bit Kübler-Ross about this. First there was Anger—this show is too good to be Star Wars. No way does a story this smart, this thoughtful about the compromises of life under fascism, and the costs of rising up to resist it, exist only as a lead-in to a floppy-haired teenager doing an amusement park ride….

(20) FONT FOLLY. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] A memorable Saturday Night Live skit from 2017 poked a lot of fun at the “lazy choice“ of the font Papyrus for the mega-blockbuster movie Avatar. (You may not be familiar with the controversy, but it’s a real thing.)

The font designer — who was shortly out of school decades ago when he created the font — responded in good humor. Now director James Cameron finally has, too, and Slashfilm is there taking notes: “Avatar Director And Font Connoisseur James Cameron Finally Responds To SNL’s Papyrus Sketch”.

“Saturday Night Live” can be very hit or miss when it comes to their sketches, but it should come as no surprise that “Papyrus” will go down as one of their best. The bit features Ryan Gosling as a man who has disassociated from the world around him because he remembered that James Cameron’s mega-blockbuster “Avatar” used a variation of the Papyrus font for its logo. It’s the kind of thing you may think about for a second or two before moving on with your life, but the sketch from former “SNL” writer Julio Torres dedicates itself to making Gosling’s breakdown look as dramatic as possible.

Like the “Potato Chip” segment, it’s the kind of “SNL” bit that makes you laugh at how seriously everyone is playing their part with something so silly and bizarre. It’s just a logo, and yet Gosling plays it as if the material is worthy of a conspiracy thriller. Since the 2017 sketch, Cameron has given the “Avatar” logo a typeface facelift that gives the series more of an identity, although it’s not that different. It honestly looks as if the graphic designer took the modified Papyrus logo as is, and filled it with air.

The “Terminator 2” filmmaker can change the logo all he wants, but if the internet has taught me anything, it’s that it never forgets. For five years, Cameron has remained silent on the whole Papyrus conversation … until now. With the long-awaited “Avatar: The Way of Water” only weeks away, the blockbuster mastermind is finally breaking his silence.

In the January 2023 issue of Empire, James Cameron finally faces the logo demons that have been haunting him for minutes, as he jokes about how the graphic design choice got in the way of getting even more money. “Just think of how much we could have grossed if it wasn’t for that damn font,” says Cameron…

[Thanks to Mike Kennedy, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Jeffrey Smith, Danny Sichel, Daniel Dern, Scott Edelman, Joey Eschrich, Cora Buhlert, Rich Lynch, Chris Barkley, Andrew Porter, Michael Toman, and Cat Eldridge for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Cat Eldridge.]

Pixel Scroll 8/12/22 The Hamster, My Friend, Is Scrolling In The Solar Wind

(1) RUSHDIE HOSPITALIZED AFTER ATTACK. Salman Ruhdie was attacked and stabbed at least twice while speaking onstage this morning in upstate New York. He was airlifted to a hospital and taken to surgery. The CNN story says:

The suspect jumped onto the stage and stabbed Rushdie at least once in the neck and at least once in the abdomen, state police said. Staff and audience members rushed the suspect and put him on the ground before a state trooper took the attacked into custody, police said.

… Henry Reese, co-founder of the Pittsburgh nonprofit City of Asylum, who was scheduled to join Rushdie in discussion, was taken to a hospital and treated for a facial injury and released, state police said. The organization was founded to “provide sanctuary in Pittsburgh to writers exiled under threat of persecution,” according to the Chautauqua Institution’s website.

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul told reporters Friday a state trooper “stood up and saved (Rushdie’s) life and protected him as well as the moderator who was attacked as well.

The story did not have an update about Rushdie’s condition.

There is now an update from Publishing Perspectives:

Salman Rushdie’s agent, Andrew Wylie, has told The New York Times’ Elizabeth A. Harris, “The news is not good. Salman will likely lose one eye; the nerves in his arm were severed; and his liver was stabbed and damaged.”

Wylie’s information, emailed to Harris, is the first description of the condition of the author following surgery….

Meanwhile, the New York Times reports “Stabbing sends ripples of ‘shock and horror’ through the literary world.”

Literary figures and public officials said that they were shocked by the news that the author Salman Rushdie had been stabbed in the neck on Friday morning while onstage to give a lecture at the Chautauqua Institute in western New York.

“We cannot immediately think of any comparable incident of a public violent attack on a writer during a literary event here in the United States,” said Suzanne Nossel, the chief executive officer of the nonprofit literary organization PEN America, who noted that the motivations for the attack and Mr. Rushdie’s current condition were unknown as of Friday late morning.

Mr. Rushdie is a former president of PEN America, which advocates for writers’ freedom of expression around the world.

She said in a statement that the organization’s members were “reeling from shock and horror.”

Here is Neil Gaiman’s response on Twitter.

(2) PINCH-HITTER. Congratulations to Abigail Nussbaum, who was invited to cover for the Guardian‘s regular SFF columnist, Lisa Tuttle. You can see her reviews here at the Guardian.

…I was a bit nervous about the experience—five books is a big commitment of time and energy, and readers of this blog know that I’m not accustomed to summing up my thoughts on anything in 200 words or less. But I ended up having a lot of fun, mainly because the books discussed were a varied bunch, several of which weren’t even on my radar before the column’s editor, Justine Jordan, suggested them.

The column discusses The Book Eaters by Sunyi Dean, a twist on the vampire story that has more than a little of The Handmaid’s Tale in its DNA. The Pallbearers Club by Paul Tremblay, a horror author whom I’ve been hearing good things about for years, so it was great to have an opportunity to sample his stuff. Extinction by Bradley Somer, part of the rising tide of climate fiction we’ve been seeing in recent years, but with a very interesting and original approach. The Women Could Fly by Megan Giddings, a story about witches that combines a magical realist tone with pressing social issues. And The Moonday Letters by Emmi Itäranta, a whirlwind tour of the solar system reminiscent of Kim Stanley Robinson’s 2312 but with a slant all its own. I’ll have more to say about that last book in the near future, but all five are worth a look….

(3) OVERDRAWN AT THE BLUE CHECKMARK. From one of my favorite authors, Robert Crais:

(4) 2022 WORLDCON ADDS MONKEYPOX POLICY. In addition to its COVID-19 Policy, Chicon 8 now has issued a Monkeypox Policy. More details at the link.

On Aug. 1, 2022, Illinois Governor JB Pritzker declared Monkeypox a public health emergency in the state of Illinois, in order to rapidly mobilize all available public health resources to prevent and treat Monkeypox and ensure smooth coordination at all levels of government….

(5) CATHEDRALS OF BOOKS. With the help of DALL-E, Joe Stech is designing “Future Libraries”. He shares many examples in his latest Compelling Science Fiction Newsletter.

Many years ago I spent some time learning to paint and sketch, and got halfway decent (to the point where I could at least convey a little bit of what was in my head, albeit clumsily). The amount of time it took me to draw something halfway decent was fairly incredible, and after I stopped drawing regularly my meager skillset deteriorated. I still remember how it felt to finish a sketch though, and generative art models like DALL-E 2 have helped me recapture that joy with a much smaller time investment….

(6) DOINK-DOINK. Meanwhile, back on the courthouse steps in New York: “Frank Miller Sues Widow of Comics Magazine Editor for the Return of Artworks”.

The comic writer and artist Frank Miller is suing the widow and the estate of a comics magazine founder over two pieces of promotional art he created that she was trying to sell at auction. The art, which appeared on covers of David Anthony Kraft’s magazine Comics Interview in the 1980s, includes an early depiction of Batman and a female Robin — from the 1986 The Dark Knight Returns series — and is potentially a valuable collectible.

The lawsuit seeks the return of the Batman piece, which was used on the cover of Comics Interview No. 31 in 1986, as well as art depicting the title character of Miller’s 1983 Ronin series. He had sent both to Kraft for his use in the publication; the Ronin artwork was used as the cover of Comics Interview No. 2 in 1983. Miller contended in the court papers that he and Kraft agreed they were on loan, citing “custom and usage in the trade at the time,” and that he made repeated requests for their return….

(7) SEEKING FANHISTORIC PHOTOS. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] This year’s DeepSouthCon is working on a project to create a photo gallery of past winners of the Rebel and Phoenix Awards.

We are looking for contributions from anyone who may have such photos. Digital files are preferred, obviously. We’d rather not be responsible for receiving your one-of-a-kind print photo and getting it back to you in one piece. The mail and other delivery services are more than capable of ripping any given package to shreds.

The gold standard would be a photo of the person holding the award at time of presentation or shortly after. We’re also happy to take more contemporary photos taken months, days, years, or decades later. If no such photo is available, we’re also happy to take photos of the winners themselves, just the award, or one of each.

Mike Kennedy, Co-chair, DeepSouthCon 60

(8) ON THE SCALES. Cora Buhlert has a rundown on the creators and works on the latest Dragon Awards ballot: “The 2022 Dragon Award Finalists Look Really Good… With One Odd Exception”.

…Anyway, the finalists for the 2022 Dragon Awards were announced today and the ballot looks really good with only a single WTF? finalist (more on that later) and a lot of popular and well regarded works on the ballot. This confirms a trend that we’ve seen in the past three years, namely that the Dragon Awards are steadily moving towards the award for widely popular SFF works that they were initially conceived to be, as the voter base broadens and more people become aware of the award, nominate and vote for their favourites. It’s a far cry from the early years of the Dragon Awards, where the finalists were dominated by Sad and Rabid Puppies, avid self-promoters and Kindle Unlimited content mills with a few broadly popular books mixed in….

(9) MEMORY LANE.  

2006 [By Cat Eldridge.]ONCE THERE WAS A CHILD WHOSE FACE WAS LIKE THE NEW MOON SHINING on cypress trees and the feathers of waterbirds. She was a strange child, full of secrets. She would sit alone in the great Palace Garden on winter nights, pressing her hands into the snow and watching it melt under her heat. She wore a crown of garlic greens and wisteria; she drank from the silver fountains studded with lapis; she ate cold pears under a canopy of pines on rainy afternoons.” — First words of The Orphan’s Tales: in the Night Garden

There are works that I fall in love from the first words. Catherine Valente’s The Orphan’s Tales: In the Night Garden is one of those works. Well actually it was from the cover art by Michael Kaluta that I fell in love. 

I don’t remember if it came out before or after I had coffee with her in a coffeehouse in the east coast Portland where we both live. (I was married and living on the mainland. She was single and living on Peaks Island. I’m now single and still living on the mainland; she’s married and on Peaks as far I know with her first child. It was an interesting conversation.)

I do remember that she got an iMac that I was no longer using as a result of that meeting, one of the aquarium style ones. Blue I think. I’m sure you’ve read fiction that was written on it.

Now back to the books. It stunned me of the non-linear nature of them which was quire thrilling. Living  in a palace garden, a young girl keeps telling stories to a inquisitive prince: impossible feats and unknown-to-him histories of peoples long gone which weave through each other again and again and again, meeting only in the telling of her stories. Inked on her tattooed eyelids, each of these tales is a intriguing piece in the puzzle of the girl’s own lost history.

I can’t call either a novel in the traditional sense as they really aren’t. They’re something much more complex. What they are is Valente’s take off the 1001 nights but keep in mind that the 1001 nights stories weren’t connected to each other and these are, and so it is a spectacular undertaking of that concept, weaving stories within stories within stories myriad times over. It takes careful paying attention to catch all the connections. 

So what we have here is quite delightful and they are matched up very up by well by the artwork by Michael Kaluta. The cover art for both is by him so that gives you an ample idea of what he does on the inside though those are all black and white. There are hundreds of drawings within, each appropriate to the story you are reading. One of my favorite illustrations is in the prelude of a gaggle of geese. Simple but very cute.

They both won the Mythopoetic Award and the first an Otherwise Award.

I’ve spent many a Winter night reading these. They are wonderful and I really wish they’d been made into an audiobook as they’d be perfect that way. And they really, really do deserve for some specialty press like Subterranean to publish a hardcover edition of them, though I expect getting the rights to the illustrations from Random House could be difficult to say the least. 

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born August 12, 1881 Cecil B. DeMille. Yes, you think of him for such films as Cleopatra and The Ten Commandments, but he actually did some important work in our genre. When Worlds Collide and War of The Worlds were films which he executive produced. (Died 1959.)
  • 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 eight volumes on Hermes Press collects these strips.  They’re one hundred and fifty dollars a volume. (Died 1962.)
  • Born August 12, 1929 John Bluthal. He was Von Neidel in The Mouse on the Moon which sounds silly and fun. He’s in Casino Royale as both a Casino Doorman and a MI5 Man. (Why pay the Union salaries?) He had roles in films best forgotten such as Digby, the Biggest Dog in the World. (Really. Don’t ask.) And he did play a blind beggar in The Return of the Pink Panther as well, and his last genre role was as Professor Pacoli in the beloved Fifth Element. Lest I forget, he voiced Commander Wilbur Zero, Jock Campbell and other characters in Fireball XL5. (Died 2018.)
  • Born August 12, 1931 William Goldman. Writer of The Princess Bride which won a Hugo at Nolacon II and which he adapted for the film. He also wrote Magic, a deliciously chilling horror novel. He wrote the original Stepford Wives script as well as Steven King’s King’s Hearts in Atlantis and Misery as well. He was hired to adapt “Flowers for Algernon” as a screenplay but the story goes that Cliff Robertson intensely disliked his screenplay and it was discarded for one by Stirling Silliphant that became Charly. (Died 2018.)
  • Born August 12, 1947 John Nathan-Turner. He produced Doctor Who from 1980 until it was cancelled in 1989. He finished as the longest-serving Doctor Who producer. He cast Peter Davison, Colin Baker and Sylvester McCoy as the Fifth, Sixth and Seventh Doctors. Other than Doctor Who, he had a single production credit, the K-9 and Company: A Girl’s Best Friend film which you can currently find on BritBox which definitely makes sense. He wrote two books, Doctor Who – The TARDIS Inside Out and Doctor Who: The Companions. He would die of a massive infection just a year before the announcement the show was being revived. The Universe often sucks.  (Died 2002.)
  • Born August 12, 1960 Brenda Cooper, 62. Best known for her YA Silver Ship series of which The Silver Ship and the Sea won an Endeavour Award, and her Edge of Dark novel won another such Award. She co-authored Building Harlequin’s Moon with Larry Niven, and a fair amount of short fiction with him. She has a lot of short fiction, much collected in Beyond the Waterfall Door: Stories of the High Hills and Cracking the Sky. She’s well-stocked at the usual suspects.
  • Born August 12, 1966 Brian Evenson, 56. Ok, I consider him a horror writer (go ahead, disagree) and his Song for the Unraveling of the World collection did win a Shirley Jackson Award though it also won a World Fantasy Award as well. He received an International Horror Guild Award for his Wavering Knife collection. He even co-authored a novel with Rob Zombie, The Lords of Salem. Which definitely puts him on the horror side of things, doesn’t it?
  • Born August 12, 1992 Cara Jocelyn Delevingne, 30. Her first genre role was as a mermaid in Pan. She then shows up in James Gunn’s rather excellent Suicide Squad as June Moone / Enchantress, and in the (oh god why did they make this) Valerian and in the City of a Thousand Planets as Laureline. She was also in Carnival Row as Vignette Stonemoss. It was a fantasy noir series on Amazon Prime which sounds like it has the potential to be interesting.

(11) LEARN FROM AN EXPERT. Here is Cat Rambo’s advice about using social media. Thread starts here.

At the end of the list:

(12) THEY DID THE MONSTER CA$H. NPR is there when “General Mills brings back Franken Berry, Count Chocula, Boo Berry, Frute Brute”.

General Mills is releasing four limited-edition Monster Cereals boxes as part of a new collaboration with pop artist KAWS.

Franken Berry, Count Chocula, Boo Berry and Frute Brute are back for this year’s seasonal release. Fans are particularly excited about the appearance of Frute Brute, which is available for the first time since 2013.

…Franken Berry and Count Chocula now bear the bone-shaped ears seen in many of KAWS’ works. They also have KAWS’ signature Xed-out eyes, as do Boo Berry and Frute Brute. The boxes have been reimagined following the same design as the original boxes, with an illustration of each character and a photo of the cereal in a bowl, all set on a blank white background….

(13) BIGGER THAN SATURN. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.]  In today’s Science: “Starship will be the biggest rocket ever. Are space scientists ready to take advantage of it?”

Jennifer Heldmann, a planetary scien-tist at NASA’s Ames Research Centre…   wants to send another rocket to probe lunar ice—but not on a one-way trip. She has her eye on Starship, a behemoth under development by private rocket company SpaceX that would be the largest flying object the world has ever seen. With Starship, Heldmann could send 100 tons to the Moon, more than twice the lunar payload of the Saturn V, the work-horse of the Apollo missions.

(14) FAN-MADE FF TRAILER. “Fantastic Four: Krasinski, Blunt and Efron stun in jaw-dropping trailer” declares Fansided.

…This awesome fan-made concept trailer from Stryder HD imagines what a Fantastic Four movie in the Marvel Cinematic Universe could be about, showcasing how Reed Richards, Sue Storm, Johnny Storm and Ben Grimm all become their heroic alter-egos….

(15) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In “The Book of Boba Fett Pitch Meeting,” Ryan George says in The Book of Boba Fett that Boba Fett is the worst crime boss in the galaxy.  But the writer explains he got bored and wrote a couple of episodes of The Mandalorian instead.  The producer gets excited when he hears Baby Yoda is in it, because Baby Yoda is “my little green money baby.”  But then we go back to Baba Fett and how he fights someone who fans of The Clone Wars will recognize while everyone else will be confused.  So the producer concludes, “at least we have some content.”

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