Pixel Scroll 2/15/24 I Think There Is A World Market For About Five Pixel Scrolls

(1) INTERNATIONAL REACTION TO HUGO AWARDS CENSORSHIP REPORT. Chris M. Barkley and Jason Sanford’s report “The 2023 Hugo Awards: A Report on Censorship and Exclusion” (also available at Genre Grapevine and as an e-book epub file and as a PDF) has sparked the attention of mass media: .

The Guardian: “Authors ‘excluded from Hugo awards over China concerns’”. In addition to covering the report, the article includes an excellent quote from Chinese social media:

…The incident prompted discussion among the science fiction community in China. One commenter on Weibo wrote: “Diane Lacey’s courage to disclose the truth makes people feel that there is still hope in the world, and not everyone is so shameless … I can understand the concerns of the Hugo award staff, but ‘I honestly think that the Hugo committee are cowards.’”…

BBC Radio 4: Last night’s arts programme Front Row’s third quarter looked at the Hugo Awards debacle. “Ukraine drama A Small Stubborn Town, Emma Rice, The Hugo Awards”. Jonathan Cowie says, “It was a superficial dive. For example, it did not note that the nominating stats literally did not add up, so clear fraud, nor that Glasgow also is ignoring WSFS rules.” (Cowie adds, “Remember to skip to the programme’s final third quarter.”)

In the wake of the Hugo Awards scandal, Gavia Baker-Whitelaw, culture critic and Hugo awards finalist, Han Zhang, editor-at-large at Riverhead Books, focussed on finding works in the Chinese language for translation and publication in the US, and Megan Walsh, author of The Subplot: What China is reading and why it matters, discuss the fallout and what is reveals about the popularity of Sci-Fi in China.

There’s also a paywalled article in New Scientist: “Amid (more) Hugo awards controversy, let’s remember some past greats”.

IT IS a truth universally acknowledged that all awards are total bunk except for the ones you personally have lifted into the air in triumph. That rule doesn’t hold, however, if your prize is in some way sullied later on. This, sadly, is the situation for the winners of the 2023 Hugo awards….

Slashdot has an excerpt of 404 Media’s paywalled article: “Leaked Emails Show Hugo Awards Self-Censoring To Appease China”.

And here are some highlights from the vast social media discussion.

John Scalzi: “The 2023 Hugo Fraud and Where We Go From Here” at Whatever

Cora Buhlert: “The 2023 Hugo Nomination Scandal Gets Worse”

Mary Robinette Kowal’s thread on Bluesky starts with this link.

Neil Gaiman commented on Bluesky: “I’m unsure how comfortable I would be participating if anything I was involved in was nominated for a Hugo in 2024, if there were people involved who had been part of what happened in Chengdu.”

Chuck Tingle’s thread on X.com begins, “this report of leaks regarding what actually happened at hugo awards shows a disgusting way. years of buckaroos working in and around hugo awards popularizing phrases like ‘chuck tingle made the hugos illegitimate’ when the rot was starting with them.”

Courtney Milan, on Bluesky, offers a series of short scripts for how censorship could have been deflected. The first is: “Ways to handle censorship if someone asks you on the DL to censor your award. 1. ‘No, this isn’t in our rules. Is this going to be a problem? I can let the community know that the Hugo rules aren’t going to be applied if so.’”

(2) IT ONLY GETS VERSE. [Item by Jennifer Hawthorne.] A brilliant poem by TrishEM about the Hugo mess: “A Vanilla Villain’s Variant Villanelle” at What’s the Word Now. The first stanza is:

It’s wrong to allege we were mere censors’ tools;
If you knew all the facts, you’d condone our behavior.
I grok Chinese fans, and was their White Savior.
I maintain the Committee just followed the rules.

(3) HOW CENSORSHIP WORKS.  Ada Palmer’s post about censorship and self-censorship comes highly recommended: “Tools for Thinking About Censorship”. It begins:

“Was it a government action, or did they do it themselves because of pressure?”

This is inevitably among our first questions when news breaks that any expressive work (a book, film, news story, blog post etc.) has been censored or suppressed by the company or group trusted with it (a publisher, a film studio, a newspaper, an awards organization etc.)

This is not a direct analysis of the current 2023 Chengdu Hugo Awards controversy. But since I am a scholar in the middle of writing a book about patterns in the history of how censorship operates, I want to put at the service of those thinking about the situation this zoomed-out portrait of a few important features of how censorship tends to work, drawn from my examination of examples from dozens of countries and over many centuries….

(4) ELIGIBILITY UPDATE FOR US NATIONAL BOOK AWARDS. “US National Book Awards: Opening to Non-US Citizens”Publishing Perspectives has the story.

In recent years, as readers of Publishing Perspectives’ coverage of book and publishing awards know, there have been several cases in which higher-profile book and publishing awards programs have decided to broaden their eligibility requirements for authors whose work is submitted.

Today’s (February 15) announcement from the National Book Foundation about the United States’ National Book Awards‘ change in eligibility opens the program to submissions of work by authors who are not citizens of the United States, as long as they “maintain their primary, long-term home in the United States, US territories, or Tribal lands.”

These new updated criteria will be in effect as of March 13, when submissions for the 75th National Book Awards open….

(5) WAYWARD WORMHOLE. Two workshops will be available at “The Rambo Academy Wayward Wormhole – New Mexico 2024”.

The Rambo Academy for Wayward Writers is pleased to announce the second annual Wayward Wormhole, this time in New Mexico. Join us for the short story workshop to study with Arley Sorg and Minister Faust, or the novel workshop with Donald Maass, C.C. Finlay, and Cat Rambo.

Both intensive workshops will be hosted at the Painted Pony ranch in Rodeo, New Mexico. The short story workshop runs November 4-12, 2024, and the novel workshop runs November 15 through 24, 2024.

The Rambo Academy for Wayward Writers has been in existence for thirteen years, serving hundreds of students who have gone on to win awards, honors, and accolades, including Nebula, Hugo, and World Fantasy Awards. “I attended Clarion West, and have taught at multiple workshops now,” says Academy founder Cat Rambo. “While others have delivered the gold standard, I decided to stretch to the platinum level and deliver amazing workshops in equally amazing settings. Last year’s was a castle in Spain, this year a fabulous location in southwestern America. And wait till you hear what we’ve got cooked up for 2025!”

More details about these exciting workshops and how to apply!

(6) CHENGDU WORLDCON ROUNDUP. [Item by Ersatz Culture.]

Photos from the reopened Chengdu Science Fiction Museum

The Chengdu SF Museum reopened to the public a few weeks ago, after an event a few days earlier involving Hai Ya and other authors.  The images I’ve selected here are primarily because of their potential interest to MPC types, but you can click on the following links to see the Xiaohongshu galleries these came from.

As far as I can tell, all of these photos have been taken in the past few weeks; there are none from when the Worldcon was running.

Gallery 1Gallery 2Gallery 3Gallery 4Gallery 5Gallery 6Gallery 7Gallery 8Gallery 9

(7) OCTOTHORPE. Episode 103 of the Octothorpe podcast, “Just This Guy, Y’know?”, is available for listening. John Coxon, Alison Scott, and Liz Batty say:

Octothorpe 103 is here! We discuss a bunch of stuff which isn’t Hugo Award-related before moving onto the bits of the kerfuffle that we couldn’t fit into 102 and hadn’t come out when we recorded.

The words “Octothorpe 103 Hugo Regalia Shop” appear above a selection of costumes. There are small depictions of a clown, a pirate, a panda and a banana above full-length depictions of a member of the Catholic church (with Hugos on their mitre and crosier), a gangster (labelled “boss”, holding a Hugo), Zaphod Beeblebrox (holding three Hugos) and Jesus (with a crown of thorns but made with Hugos).

(8) MOURNING MUSIC. “Matthew” (at Bandcamp) is a tribute song about Matthew Pavletich by his sister, Jo Morgan. Matthew died in January. The lyrics are heart-wrenching – see them at the link.

‘Matthew’ is a touching tribute dedicated to Jo’s beloved brother who passed away after a courageous battle with Motor Neurone Disease. Tenderly capturing the power of familial love, serving as an anthem honouring all the qualities defining him.

Jo says “I wrote this song to celebrate my brother Matthew who passed away from Motor Neurone Disease in January 2024. There are so many wonderful qualities about this beautiful man and I am so blessed to have had him as my brother. He lost so much to this illness, and I want the world to know about this sweet and humble gentle man.”

Jo will be making a donation from some of the proceeds from the song to support MND NZ and animal welfare charities.

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY.

[Written by Cat Eldridge.]

Born February 15, 1945 Jack Dann, 79. It’s been awhile since we’ve done an Australian resident writer, so let’s do Jack Dann tonight. Yes, I know he’s American-born but he’s lived there for the past forty years and yes he’s citizen there.

In 1994 he had moved to Melbourne to join Janeen Webb, a Melbourne based academic, SF critic, and writer, whom he had met at a conference in San Francisco and who he married a year later. Thirty years later they’re still married. 

They would edit together In the Field of Fire, a collection of science fiction and fantasy stories relating to the horrors of the Vietnam War. I’m not aware who anyone else has done one on this subject, so go ahead and tell who else has. 

Jack Dann

He published his first book as an editor, Wandering Stars: An Anthology of Jewish Fantasy and Science Fiction forty years ago, (later followed up by More Wandering Stars: An Anthology of Jewish Fantasy and Science Fiction) and his first novel, Starhiker, several years later. 

His Dreaming Again and Dreaming down-under are excellent anthologies of Australian genre short fiction. The latter, edited with his wife, would win a Ditmar and a World Fantasy Award. Dreaming Again, again edited with his wife, also won a Ditmar. 

With Nick Gever, he won a Shirley Jackson Award for one of my favorite reads, Ghosts by Gaslight: Stories of Steampunk and Supernatural Suspense.

He’s written roughly a hundred pieces of shorter fiction.  I’ve read enough of it to say that he’s quite excellent in that length of fiction.  Recently Centipede Press released in their Masters of Science Fiction, a volume devoted to him. Thirty stories, all quite excellent.

So what is worth reading for novels beyond Starhiker which I like a lot? Well if you’ve not read it, do read The Memory Cathedral: A Secret History of Leonardo da Vinci in which de Vinci actually constructs his creations as it is indeed an amazing story. 

The Rebel: An Imagined Life of James Dean is extraordinary. All I’ll say here is Dean lived, had an amazing life and yes it’s genre. I see PS Publishing filled out the story when they gave us Promised Land.

Those are the three novels of his that I really, really like. 

(10) COMICS SECTION.

(11) EVIL GENIUS GAMES. [Item by Eric Franklin.] Morrus, the owner of ENWorld, posted an article on “The Rise And Fall Of Evil Genius Games” that may be of interest to the gaming contingent of File770’s readership: EGG has produced games for a number of licensed genre properties, including Pacific Rim, Escape from New York, and The Crow. “DriveThruRPG – Evil Genius Games”

How does a company go from over twenty core staff to just six in the space of a few weeks?

In the summer of 2023, Evil Genius Games appeared to be riding high. They’d made about half a million dollars over two Kickstarter campaigns and had raised $1M from several rich investors in the form of technology companies. The company boasted 25-30 core staff, an official tabletop role-playing game for a movie franchise called Rebel Moon was well under development, and EGG standees and window clings representing characters from the d20 Modern-inspired Everyday Heroes could be seen in game stores across America.

By the end of the year, the Rebel Moon game was dead, staff had been asked to work without pay for periods of up to three months, freelancers were struggling to get paid, people were being laid off, and the company’s tech company investors seemed to be having cold feet in the face of escalating expenditure and dwindling resources….

(12) SFF FROM LAGOS. “’Iwájú’ trailer: Disney’s enticing limited series is set in a futuristic Nigeria” says Mashable. Available February 28 on Disney+.

“Iwájú” is an original animated series set in a futuristic Lagos, Nigeria. The exciting coming-of-age story follows Tola, a young girl from the wealthy island, and her best friend, Kole, a self-taught tech expert, as they discover the secrets and dangers hidden in their different worlds. Kugali filmmakers—including director Olufikayo Ziki Adeola, production designer Hamid Ibrahim and cultural consultant Toluwalakin Olowofoyeku—take viewers on a unique journey into the world of “Iwájú,” bursting with unique visual elements and technological advancements inspired by the spirit of Lagos.

(13) NSFF770? [Item by Mike Kennedy.] Star Zendaya walked the red carpet at the Dune Part Two premiere wearing a formfitting silver and translucent robot-inspired outfit. Friendly warning: anyone inclined to over-agitation at such a sight might want to make sure they’ve taken their heart medication before checking out the video. “Zendaya’s Robotic Outfit For The ‘Dune: Part Two’ Premiere Has To Be Seen To Be Believed” at Uproxx. Article includes a roundup of X.com posts with video.

(14) WHAT REALLY MATTERS. “This new map of the Universe suggests dark matter shaped the cosmos” at Nature. See the compilation photo at the link.

Astronomers have reconstructed nearly nine billion years of cosmic evolution by tracing the X-ray glow of distant clusters of galaxies. The analysis supports the standard model of cosmology, according to which the gravitational pull of dark matter — a still-mysterious substance — is the main factor shaping the Universe’s structure.

“We do not see any departures from the standard model of cosmology,” says Esra Bulbul, a senior member of the team and an astrophysicist at the Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics (MPE) in Garching, Germany. The results are described1 in a preprint posted online on 14 February.

The galactic clusters were spotted in the most detailed picture ever taken of the sky using X-rays, which was published late last month. This image revealed around 900,000 X-ray sources, from black holes to the relics of supernova explosions.

The picture was the result of the first six months of operation of eROSITA (Extended Roentgen Survey with an Imaging Telescope Array), one of two X-ray telescopes that were launched into space in July 2019 aboard the Russian spacecraft SRG (Spectrum-Roentgen-Gamma). eROSITA scans the sky as the spacecraft spins, and collects data over wider angles than are possible for most other X-ray observatories. This enables it to slowly sweep the entire sky every six months….

(15) VALENTINE’S DAY IN THE TARDIS. How can you not click when Radio Times offers to tell about “Doctor Who’s four greatest love stories – and why they make the cut”?

The love stories definitely aren’t the main focus in Doctor Who… but they certainly don’t hurt.

From David Tennant’s Ten and Billie Piper’s Rose being ripped away from each other in Doomsday, to Matt Smith’s Eleven and Alex Kingston’s River Song finding their way back to each other through time, some of them are love stories for the ages.

Some of them, perhaps, deserved a little more time (looking at Jodie Whittaker’s Thirteen and Mandip Gill’s Yaz), and some don’t even feature the Doctor at all, with Karen Gillan’s Amy and Arthur Darvill’s Rory melting our hearts….

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Chris Barkley, Cat Eldridge, Jason Sanford, Cat Rambo, Kathy Sullivan, Eric Franklin, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Steven French, Mike Kennedy, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Soon Lee.]

Pixel Scroll 8/2/23 One Scroll To Rule Them All

(1) VICFA TAKING PROPOSALS. The Virtual International Conference on the Fantastic in the Arts (November 5-11) is now accepting proposal submissions. 

Organized by new Virtual Conference Coordinator and Afropantheologist Oghenechovwe Ekpeki and featuring genre-defining Guests of Honor Martha Wells, Steven Barnes, and Annalee Newitz, the week-long Virtual Conference for the Fantastic in the Arts includes the investigative insights of Guest Scholars Alec Nevala-Lee, Wole Talabi, and Jennifer Rhee. 

Whether you are interested in the academic track or the creative track, they welcome your contribution.

The deadline for proposal submissions is September 15th, and acceptance notifications will be sent out on September 30th. For more detailed information, please see the attached CFP or visit the International Association for the Fantastic in the Arts website

The Virtual International Conference on the Fantastic in the Arts (November 5th-11th) is currently accepting proposal submissions! This year, we are excited to convene about the theme: AAAA! – AI, Algorithms, Automata and Art. The International Association for Fantastic in the Arts will be hosting several phenomenal Guests of Honor, including Steven Barnes, Annalee Newitz, and Martha Wells. Additionally, our Guest Scholars are Alec Nevala-Lee, Jennifer Rhee, and Wole Talabi!

To submit your proposals, please see the links below. Please note that there are two links, one for academic track and one for creative track. 

(2) SEND A CARD. Bjo Trimble is turning 90 on August 15! Her daughter Lora reminds anyone who wants to send a card that her address is:

Bjo Trimble
California Veterans Home
700 East Naples Court
Chula Vista CA 91911

(3) KGB. Fantastic Fiction at KGB reading series hosts Ellen Datlow and Matthew Kressel present C.S.E. Cooney and Steve Berman on Wednesday, August 9. Starts 7:00 p.m. EDT at the KGB Bar, 85 East 4th Street, New York, NY 10003. (Just off 2nd Ave, upstairs)

C.S.E. COONEY

C. S. E. Cooney is the World Fantasy Award-winning author of Bone Swans: Stories. Other books include The Twice-Drowned Saint, Saint Death’s Daughter, Dark Breakers, and Desdemona and the Deep. Forthcoming from Outland Entertainment is Negocios Infernales, a TTRPG she co-designed with her husband Carlos Hernandez.

STEVE BERMAN

Steve Berman is the Lambda Literary Award-winning editor of over forty anthologies including His Seed and Burly Tales. He is also author of the Andre Norton Award finalist, Vintage, and four short story collections, the most recent being Fit for Consumption. Most of his work is queer speculative fiction and horror. He resides in Western Massachusetts.

(4) WARNER BROS. NOPOLOGY FOR BARBENHEIMER. Entertainment Weekly headlines its story “Warner Bros. apologizes for Barbenheimer posts amid backlash in Japan” but Google Translate says the release is worded, “We apologize to those who were offended by this series of inconsiderate reactions.” 

Warner Bros. is apologizing after its Japanese branch criticized the company’s decision to publicly support the Barbenheimer craze on social media. 

“Warner Brothers regrets its recent insensitive social media engagement,” the company said in a statement to EW. “The studio offers a sincere apology.”

Its remarks come one day after the Barbie Japan Twitter account posted a statement denouncing the online movement that links Greta Gerwig‘s fun and fashionable Barbie with Christopher Nolan‘s Oppenheimer — which chronicles the creation of the atomic bomb that killed at least 225,000 people in Hiroshima and Nagasaki — amid growing backlash in Japan that the trend trivializes the mass destruction caused by atomic bombs. The hashtag #NoBarbenheimer has recently been trending in Japan as a result….

[Previously] the Barbie U.S. Twitter account positively interacted with several Barbenheimer-inspired posts, including a fan-created poster that featured Barbie star Margot Robbie sitting on Oppenheimer actor Cillian Murphy‘s shoulder in front of a plume of orange smoke. The Barbie account commented on the fan-made image, writing, “It’s going to be a summer to remember.” 

(5) THOUGHTS ABOUT PEMMI-CON. Ralston Stahler’s Pemmi-Con report is a public Facebook post here. Following discussion of many areas of the con, noting the problems and the successes, Stahler concludes:

…All in all it wasn’t the best con, and it wasn’t the worst. I think out of all the NASFiC’s it is the second lowest attended. Maybe covid or being a pretty distant location had something to do with it.

 (6) MAKE THOSE RINGS SING. If File 770 readers happen to be in Berkshire, the Guardian has a recommendation: “The Lord of the Rings: A Musical Tale review – the greatest show on Middle-earth”.

…First seen in the UK in 2007 at London’s Theatre Royal Drury Lane – a 1996-seat theatre – the show is revived at the 220-capacity Watermill. This means that Simon Kenny’s design and Anjali Mehra’s choreography are a theatrical equivalent of stunts designed to find how many people can fit in a Mini.

The creative team ought to be listed in a Guinness book of theatrical records. During the long sections inside the tiny theatre, they cram in battles, orc attacks, treks across land, over mountains or through caves and lavish production numbers involving 20 actors or musicians (several performers also play instruments)….

(7) CRISTINA JURADO DEAL. Apex Book Company has acquired first North America English rights to the novella Chlorophilia by Spanish author Cristina Jurado. The deal was brokered by agent Hannah Bowman of Liza Dawson Associates.

Kirmen is different from everyone else in the Cloister. Due to the doctor’s endless experiments on Kirmen, his skin, his eyes, even his organs are changing. Kirmen wonders if he even belongs with the other inhabitants of the dome that protects the last remnants of humanity from the forever storm raging against the glass. Kirmen’s dreams of love, of acceptance, slip away with every treatment. What will happen when the doctor’s transformations are complete? What will Kirmen be then?

Cristina Jurado is a bilingual author, editor and translator of speculative fiction. In 2019 she became the first female writer to win the Best Novel Ignotus Award (Spain’s top sff Award) for Bionautas. Since 2015 she runs the Spanish multi-awarded magazine SuperSonic. In 2020 she was recognized with the ESFS’s Best SF Promoter Award and started to work as a contributor of the bilingual quarterly Constelación magazine.

(8) CON OR BUST. Applications are being taken for Con or Bust’s Goldman Fund initiative to assist Palestinian creators and fans of speculative fiction in attending the 2024 World Science Fiction Convention.

We’ll be assisting self-identified citizens of Palestine and members of the Palestinian diaspora to pay for travel and membership expenses to five Worldcons beginning in 2024. If you qualify for the Goldman Fund and would like assistance attending 2024’s Worldcon, apply here. The preferred application window runs from 31 July through 5 November, 2023. Applications received after the window closes will be considered for any remaining funds. 

(9) WHERE THE THREE RIVERS MEET. Pulpfest’s Mike Chomko appeared on local CBS affiliate’s TALK Pittsburgh show to provide “An introduction to the 50th anniversary of PulpFest”. The con starts tomorrow. Video at the link.

Mike Chomko, the marketing and programming director of PulpFest, joined the show to talk about the festival’s dedication to a special form of fiction magazines.

(10) MEMORY LANE.

[Written by Cat Eldridge.]

1995 — Our Beginning is taken from Jane Yolen’s The Wild Hunt. It was released as a hardcover edition twenty-eight years ago by Harcourt Brace with copious illustrations and cover art by Francisco Mora, a pupil of Diego Rivera, who was deep into the Mexican political scene making posters for trade unions and government literacy campaigns.

It’s not — if one takes into account the illustrations — a novel really. I’ve got my personally signed copy on hand (yes, she is on the chocolate gifting list. She prefers no more than seventy percent chocolate.) and I’d say it’d be a novella if judged by length alone.

It is that rare wonderful work where the text and the illustrations (see the cover illustration below of The Wild Hunt as a turning clock) are truly intrinsic to each other. I cannot imagine it as just text, though I can imagine it as a spoken work as Yolen’s language here is brilliant.

So let’s have just the introduction to it as our Beginning…

A wild winter storm rages around a large house that is isolated from the rest of the world. Traditionally, the Wild Hunt appeared around the time of Epiphany— January 6 in the Church Calendar—when winter was at its most severe in Northern Europe. No country is specified, but this is, after all, a fantasy world. The house is both a comfortable dwelling with a large library in keeping with Jerold’s quiet personality, and a parallel setting that matches Gerund’s much more active one. A hundred yards from the house is a granite outcrop where the Hunt gathers: “This rock might have been a thousand miles away. Or a thousand years.” 

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born August 2, 1917 Wah Chang. Co-founder in the late 1950s, with Gene Warren and Tim Baar, of the special effects company Project Unlimited Inc. They provided the effects for numerous George Pal productions, including *The Wonderful World of the Brothers Grimm*, *Jack the Giant Killer*, and *The Time Machine* (for which they won an Academy Award, although Chang’s name was erroneously omitted). Wang and his fellow Projects coworkers did essentially all of the effects for the original *Outer Limits* television series. Perhaps most famously, Chang created some of the best-known effects for the original *Star Trek*, including the communicator, the tricorder, the Romulan Bird of Prey, the Tribbles, and numerous aliens, although he did not receive screen credit for any of this work. A talented artist, later in life he gained renown as a wildlife sculptor. (Died 2003.) [PhilRM]
  • Born August 2, 1920 Theodore Marcuse. He was Korob in “Catspaw”, a second season Trek episode written by Robert Bloch that aired just before Halloween aptly enough. He had appearances in The Twilight Zone (“The Trade-Ins” and “To Serve Man”), Time TunnelVoyage to the Bottom of the SeaWild Wild West and The Man from U.N.C.L.E. in the episodes “The Re-collectors Affair”, “The Minus-X Affair”, and “The Pieces of Fate Affair”. (Died 1967.)
  • Born August 2, 1932 Peter O’Toole. I’m tempted to say his first genre role was playing King Henry in A Lion in Winter as it is alternate history. It really is despite some of you saying it isn’t. Actually before that he’s got an uncredited role in Casino Royale as a Scottish piper. Really he does. His first genre role without dispute is as Zaltar in Supergirl followed by being Dr. Harry Wolverine in Creator. He’s Peter Plunkett in the superb High Spirits, he’s in FairyTale: A True Story as a very credible Arthur Conan Doyle, and Stardust as King of Stormhold. Not surprisingly, he played in a version of Midsummer Night’s Dream as Lysander. (Died 2013.)
  • Born August 2, 1948 Robert Holdstock. Another one who died far too young. His Ryhope Wood series is simply amazing with Lavondyss being my favorite volume. And let’s not overlook his Merlin Codex series which is one of the more original takes on that character I’ve read. The Ragthorn, co-written with Garry Kilworth, is interesting as well. (Died 2009.)
  • Born August 2, 1954 Ken MacLeod, 69. Sometimes I don’t realize until I do a Birthday note just how much I’ve read of a certain author. And so it was of this author. I’ve read the entire Fall Revolution series, not quite all of the Engines of Light Trilogy, just the first two of the Corporation Wars but I’ve got it in my to-be-finished queue, and every one of his one-off novels save Descent. His Restoration Game is quite chilling.  I should go find his Giant Lizards from Another Star collection as I’ve not read his short fiction. Damn it’s not available from the usual suspects! Hugo Award wise, he didn’t win any but had some nominations. The Sky Road was nominated at the Millennium Philcon, Cosmonaut Keep at ConJosé and Learning the World at L.A. Con IV. 
  • Born August 2, 1955 Caleb Carr, 68. Ok, I’ll admit that this is another author that ISFDB lists as genre that I don’t think of as being as genre. ISFDB list all four of his novels as being genre including The Alienist and The Angel of Darkness which are not even genre adjacent by my reading. So is there something in those novels that I missed? 
  • Born August 2, 1970 — Kevin Smith, 53. Well-loved comics writer who’s worked for DC, Marvel and other venues. He was involved with both Daredevil and Green Arrow. He directed the pilot for the CW supernatural comedy series Reaper, produced and appeared in a reality television series, Comic Book Men, and appeared as a character in the animated Superman: Doomsday. He’s also the showrunner for Masters of the Universe: Revelation animated series and the sequel Masters of the Universe: Revolution which will stream early next year. 
  • Born August 2, 1976 Emma Newman, 47. Author of quite a few SF novels and a collection of short fiction. Her Planetfall series was nominated for the Best Series Hugo Award 2020. Also of interest to us is that she co-created along with her husband Peter, of the Hugo Award winning podcast Tea and Jeopardy which centers around her hosting another creator for a nice cup of tea and cake, while her scheming butler Latimer (played by Peter) attempts to send them to their deaths at the end of the episode. 

(12) COMICS SECTION.

(13) WILL HER LOVE OF ANIME AND MANGA PROVE CONTAGIOUS? Ada Palmer launches a new column in Strange Horizons with “A Mitfreude of Anime and Manga’s Relationship with Anglophone Science Fiction (Or, This Essay WILL NOT Try to Get You into Anime and Manga!)”

… Once upon a time an atomic-powered robot boy dodged censorship to talk about racism, and fifty years later Japan issued the first legal birth certificate granting citizenship to an AI. Once upon a time in a small Japanese town flourished Earth’s glitteriest, rose-petal-y-est, most gender-bending form of theater, and ninety years later a comics shop owner in Cambridge, Massachusetts, exclaimed to me, “Girls are coming into the store now! There were none before!” And once upon a time kids gathered in the streets of Tokyo to hear a storyteller with hand-drawn illustration cards narrate a battle between a crime boss in a robot suit and a thousand-year-old superhero from Atlantis, and fifty-five years later a Japanese-built surgical robot took life-saving samples of my intestines.

Enjoying anime and manga has a high learning curve: you need to invest time learning their visual vocabulary, and many of the best works depend on knowing earlier tropes and patterns. But anyone can enjoy the history of anime and manga, how these media have shaped science, medicine, genre fiction, gender, and how—as twentieth century English was rising to dominance through music and TV around the globe—anime and manga managed to become the biggest body of modern media that gets translated into English instead of the other way around….

(14) THIS WOULD MAKE ME START WRITING LETTERS AGAIN. “Mr. Spock On A Stamp: Adam Schiff Urges U.S. Postal Service To Honor Leonard Nimoy” reports Deadline.

…In a statement, Schiff called Nimoy, who died in 2015, “an extraordinary activist, actor and friend.”

“Nimoy’s legacy includes his lengthy acting career — including his beloved and iconic role as ‘Spock’ in the Star Trek universe — and his many generous contributions to the arts and sciences, and his beautiful family.”

On Monday, Schiff sent a letter to the Citizens Stamp Advisory Committee, asking them to recommend Nimoy to the Postmaster General. The committee selects individuals who have made “extraordinary and enduring contributions to American society, history, culture or environment.” Living people are not currently eligible, and those who are deceased are considered at least three years after his or hear death. Stamps also are planned two- to three- years in advance….

(15) OVERVIEW OF JOHN WILLIAMS’ COMPOSITIONS FOR CINEMA. Forbes talks to Mike Matessino, one of the foremost experts in the music of John Williams, who has produced numerous Williams soundtrack albums over the years, in “Re-Listening To John Williams, The Maestro Of The Movies”.

What are your thoughts on “How to Steal a Million” — often cited as a highlight of Williams’ ‘60s work?

Mike: If one looks at the earliest feature films John Williams scored, you see some fairly prominent director names that today are mostly known only among cinephiles — Frank Tashlin, Andrew McLaglen — and then Frank Sinatra, for whom John scored the only movie the actor/singer directed, “None But the Brave.”

But then comes “How to Steal a Million” and three-time Oscar winner William Wyler. So this is the first project for a truly A-list director, and it remains, I think, the most sophisticated of the comedies that John Williams scored during that important period where he was based at 20th Century-Fox Studios.

I once asked Ian Fraser, who worked with Williams on “Goodbye, Mr. Chips” a couple years later, if had any sense on that project of just how great a composer Williams would become, and he said, “I knew it when I went to the sessions for ‘How to Steal a Million,’” as Fraser was at 20th at that time working on ‘Doctor Dolittle.’ The “Million” score is a mixture of comedic elements and some terrific half-tongue-in-cheek suspense writing that showed just how versatile John Williams could be. It’s also significant in that it is the first time he was given the opportunity to completely re-record music from the film for his own soundtrack album, so it really was a significant career milestone.

(16) HYVILMA. Gideon Marcus’ new release Hyvilma is celebrated at Queer Sci Fi. Includes an excerpt from the book.

QSFer Gideon Marcus has a new queer YA sci-fi book out (bisexual): Hyvilma.

A damaged ship, a dying shipmate–can she save both?

Under attack! The flight back to Hyvilma should have been the easy part for the crew of the Majera–until a deadly ambush by pirates sends them reeling through hyperspace. Now getting to the planet in time is the only way Captain Kitra Yilmaz can save her dying friend.

But landing at Hyvilma may be impossible: war has broken out on the Frontier.
With illustrations by Hugo Finalist Lorelei Esther.

(17) AI EFFECTIVE IN BREAST CANCER SCREENING. [Item by Steven French.] Good to have some positive news about AI! The Guardian reports “AI use in breast cancer screening as good as two radiologists, study finds”.

…But the latest study, which followed women from Sweden with an average age of 54, compared AI-supported screening directly with standard care.

Half of the scans were assessed by two radiologists, while the other half were assessed by AI-supported screening followed by interpretation by one or two radiologists.

In total, 244 women (28%) recalled from AI-supported screening were found to have cancer compared with 203 women (25%) recalled from standard screening. This resulted in 41 more cancers being detected with the support of AI, of which 19 were invasive and 22 were in situ cancers.

The use of AI did not generate more false positives, where a scan is incorrectly diagnosed as abnormal. The false-positive rate was 1.5% in both groups.

(18) WHAT WERE PEOPLE STREAMING IN JULY? JustWatch offers their monthly Top 10 streaming lists for July 2023.

(19) STORY FEEDBACK IN REALTIME. Apex Magazine presents Snap Judgment Episode 7, their “rapid-fire, live-streaming critique series.” 

Every quarter, industry professionals Jason Sizemore, Lesley Conner, and a special guest offer live feedback on the first page (up to 250 words) of genre short stories or novels. These first pages are read aloud by our talented host and narrator, Aly Grauer.

We are pleased to announce that our special guest editor for this event is author and editor Nick Mamatas! 

HOW IT WORKS. Our host reads the title, genre, and text of the submission aloud without identifying the author. If at any point our panelists feel they would stop reading and reject the piece from their slush pile, they raise their hand. If all three hands are raised, our narrator stops reading.

Each panelist then gives their feedback on the opening: what works for them, what doesn’t, and what could be done to improve it. Don’t expect our panelists to be a mean group, but do expect them to be honest when it comes to assessing the work.

NICK MAMATAS. Special guest editor for this event is author and editor Nick Mamatas! Nick Mamatas is the author of several novels, including I Am Providence and The Second Shooter. His short fiction has appeared or will soon appear in Best American Mystery Stories, Asimov’s Science Fiction, Tor.com, McSweeney’s, and many other venues. Much of it was recently collected in The People’s Republic of Everything. Nick is also an anthologist; his latest book is Wonder and Glory Forever: Awe-Inspiring Lovecraftian Fiction.

(20) VIDEO OF THE DAY (OR POSSIBLY TWO MONTHS AGO). Did we run this before? Well, it’s always news to someone. Karen Gillan shares “A week in the life of playing Nebula in Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol 3”.

Come spend a week with me filming Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 3

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

Pixel Scroll 4/20/23 But You Gotta Make Your Own Kind Of Pixel, Scroll Your Own Special Scroll

(1) PRO TIPS. With in-person cons resuming throughout fandom, Cass Morris has advice for “Giving Good Panel” in her latest newsletter.

Practice (and tailor) your introduction

Introducing yourself at the start of the panel isn’t the time to go into your full CV or publication history. It’s not even the time to recite your full 100 word bio that’s printed in the program.

A good formula? “Hi, I’m [name], I’m the author of [most recent publication or series] and [something else relevant to your writing career]. I’m also [whatever your day job is, or if you don’t have one, mention a hobby].”

Then, if there’s anything particularly relevant to the panel I’m on, I’ll mention that. I tend not to go into my background as a Shakespeare scholar, for instance, because that’s usually not directly relevant — but at RavenCon last April, it was! I was on a panel called “Elements of the Fantastic in Shakespeare,” so it was good to establish my credibility to speak on that particular topic.

Keep the intro to your book or series brief — an apposition, just a short phrase. “I’m the author of the Aven Cycle, historical fantasy set in an alternate ancient Rome” or even just “I’m the author of epic fantasy series the Aven Cycle.”…

(2) X CORP. No, not X-corps (a Heinlein reference). X Corp is the successor to Twitter, Inc. — which “no longer exists.” Slate reports “Twitter Isn’t A Company Anymore”.

In a court filing on Tuesday, April 4, Twitter Inc. quietly revealed a major development: It no longer exists. The company is currently being sued by right-wing provocateur Laura Loomer, who accused it of violating federal racketeering laws when it banned her account in 2019. Loomer has a Twitter account again, and her absurd lawsuit is bound to fail—but until it does, Twitter, as a defendant, must continue to submit corporate disclosure statements to the court. And so, in its most recent filing, the company provided notice that “Twitter, Inc. has been merged into X Corp. and no longer exists.” As the “successor in interest” to Twitter Inc.—that is, the survivor of the merger—X Corp. is now the defendant in Loomer’s suit. Its parent corporation is identified as X Holdings Corp.

(3) BATTLEGROUND LIBRARY. “When the Culture Wars Come for the Public Library” in The New Yorker.

…On a spring day in 2019, Ellie Newell, the youth-services librarian at the main branch, in a historic post office in downtown Kalispell, hosted a special story time for a visiting class of preschoolers. Newell was raised by librarians and had taken the job straight out of graduate school, drawn to Flathead’s reputation for “doing cutting-edge library stuff.” Several years earlier, the library had rebranded to adopt a new name and logo, as well as an updated, possibly foolhardy mission. The Flathead County Library System became the ImagineIF Libraries and set out to use technology and interactive programs to bring together far-flung residents of the county. This new approach earned ImagineIF a John Cotton Dana Award (the equivalent of a library Oscar) and the title of State Library of the Year.

Like most children’s librarians, Newell did a lot of story times and kept a stack of read-aloud books on her desk. She considered it important to mix things up: some books with animals, some with people; some classics, some new releases. At the top of Newell’s pile that day was “Prince & Knight,” a fairy-tale picture book published in 2018. The story features a charismatic dragon, but no lady who wins a warrior’s heart. The romance instead unfolds between the titular prince (a man) and knight (also a man). Newell thought the book was sweet: a bit edgy in its gayness, but still chaste and traditional, culminating in marriage. Her calendar didn’t show any special book requests or even the name of the visiting school, so she grabbed “Prince & Knight” off her desk and went out to read it. She opened her eyes wide behind her glasses and swivelled to connect with every member of her audience. The children giggled and clapped. But, at the end of the reading, their teacher looked upset.

The class had come from a Catholic school, and, a few days later, the teacher wrote to the Daily Inter Lake, a local newspaper, saying how “shocked and grieved” she was by the presentation of a book about “homosexual marriage.” She argued that “such a controversial topic” should not be introduced to “innocent children.”…

…During the pandemic, Flathead became the fastest-growing county in the state, thanks in part to new migration. The arrivals were split between lovers of the outdoors (of various political persuasions) and people in search of a Trumpian refuge from urban ills. The responses to the “Prince & Knight” reading tracked with the county’s divergent politics. Was the story time a sign of open-mindedness or proof that the library was promoting “all these alternative lifestyles,” as one Kalispell man wrote to the Inter Lake? The Catholic schoolteacher filed a formal challenge to “Prince & Knight,” seeking its removal from ImagineIF’s collection. The library director, Connie Behe, recommended that the book be retained because the work as a whole conformed to ImagineIF standards. The final decision was up to the library’s five-member board of trustees….

(4) THEY’VE COME FOR WODEHOUSE! [Item by Dann.] Word minders have come to claim another author.  P.G. Wodehouse. “Penguin Removes ‘Unacceptable’ Words from P. G. Wodehouse Novels, Adds Trigger Warnings for ‘Outdated’ Language” reports National Review. Penguin Random House has edited the works of P.G. Wodehouse to remove “unacceptable” prose. Right Ho, Jeeves and Thank You, Jeeves have both been adjusted.

…The warning on the opening pages of the 2023 reissue of Thank You, Jeeves reads: “Please be aware that this book was published in the 1930s and contains language, themes and characterisations which you may find outdated. In the present edition we have sought to edit, minimally, words that we regard as unacceptable to present-day readers.”

The NR article goes on to state that the changes do not affect the story itself. The 2022 edition of Right Ho, Jeeves has also been edited and features the same disclaimer.

Wodehouse, who died in 1975, is known for authoring over 90 books, his oeuvre often hailed as the funniest in the English language. The Jeeves stories follow the idle upper-class gentleman Bertie Wooster and his resourceful valet Reginald Jeeves. The stories served as the basis for the well-known British comedy Jeeves and Wooster, which starred Stephen Fry and Hugh Laurie. The show was broadcast on ITV in the 1990s.

Racial terminology has been removed throughout the novels. A racial term used to describe a “minstrel of the old school” has been removed in Right Ho, Jeeves. In Thank You, Jeeves, whose plot hinges on the performance of a minstrel troupe, numerous terms have been removed or altered, both in the dialogue between characters and from the first-person narration of Bertie Wooster.

Economics author and Washington Post columnist Megan McArdle has declared that she is abandoning the purchase of classics on Kindle as a result.

Another National Review article has declared such efforts to be the work of a “cabal of history vandals” that bear a strong resemblance to the clueless elites that populate Wodehouse’s works. “The Literature Vandals Don’t Know When to Stop”.

It is an impossible coincidence that the people endorsing retroactive edits to the works of P. G. Wodehouse are the very types of thickheaded dilettantes Wodehouse spent most of his 90 years lampooning.

Other, one presumes more faithful, electronic editions are available via Project Gutenberg and Archive,org.

(5) LANSDALE’S TIPS. The Horror Writers Association blog brings us “Nuts and Bolts: Writing Tips From Master of Horror Joe R. Lansdale”.

On writing action sequences and fight scenes:

“I’m not proud of it,” Joe R. Lansdale said in a recent phone interview, “but I’ve been in a lot of fights. You start to learn what’s real and what isn’t.”

He draws on his background as a martial artist, bouncer, and bodyguard from a rough part of East Texas when writing his fight scenes. Most real fights are over fast, he said, and it’s possible to reflect that in your writing while still giving them impact.

“I always think less is more,” he said. “To make it seem like you’ve given a lot of description, but you haven’t. You’ve chosen the right words. You have to write like a cinematographer. I’ve always found that the greatest thing outside experience is stopping and thinking about it from an observational standpoint. The more you do it, the more you’re able to envision that action sequence.”

For action sequences, he recommends short sentences and paragraphs. Another way of injecting a sense of immediacy is to give it a stream-of-consciousness structure, as in: “I spin and dodge his fist, then hit him with …” 

“Some people will say that’s a run-on sentence,” he said. “It isn’t, if it’s done right.”

(6) OF INTEREST TO TOLKIEN AND SFF SCHOLARS. Robin A. Reid has assembled a list of hybrid and virtual conferences of interest to those working in Tolkien studies. The first edition is available at “The Online Conference Project”.

After seeing outstanding presentations at the 2021-22 Virtual PCA conferences by a significant number of Tolkien scholars who had never been able to attend the f2f PCA in the past, and who will not be able to attend future f2f PCA conferences because of the various barriers, I started the Online Conference Project.

My goal is to collect and share information about conferences that are either hybrid (meaning allowing for both virtual and in-person presentations and attendance) or virtual (meaning completely online), especially those of interest to those of us working in Tolkien studies and fantasy/speculative fiction studies generally

… In the list below, I provide basic information: conference name/theme, organization or institution organizing it; proposal submission deadline; delivery mode (hybrid, meaning an online track added to a f2f conference; or virtual, meaning entirely online); registration fee (if available); dates of conference…

(7) SUMMER IN NYC WILL FEATURE BUTLER THEMED OPERA. “Lincoln Center Revives Summer for the City, Hoping to Draw New Fans” – the New York Times says an Octavia Butler-inspired opera will be one of the offerings.  

Lincoln Center will bring back its Summer for the City festival this year, the organization announced on Monday, continuing its efforts to attract new audiences by embracing a wide variety of genres, including pop and classical music, social dance and comedy.

An opera based on Octavia E. Butler’s novel “Parable of the Sower,” by the folk and blues musician Toshi Reagon and the composer Bernice Johnson Reagon, will get its New York City premiere at Geffen Hall on July 14.

John Mansfield in 2015. Photo taken by and (c) Andrew Porter.

(8) PAST WORLDCON CHAIR DIES. John Mansfield, chair of the 1994 Worldcon in Winnipeg, died April 19. He was to be fan guest of honor at this year’s NASFiC, Pemmi-Con, also in Winnipeg.

Mansfield co-founded the Ontario Science Fiction Club (OSFiC) in 1966 with other Toronto locals he’d met at that year’s Worldcon, Peter Gill, Mike Glicksohn, Ken Smookler, and Maureen Bournes. Mansfield had decided to attend the Worldcon after reading a series of articles about fandom in If written by Lin Carter.

Mansfield also had a connection to early Star Trek fandom, contributing an article to the 1968 Comerford/Langsam fanzine Spockananalia 2, “Communication From Starfleet Intelligence”, about Klingon military techniques for interrogating Vulcans:

… Since the prisoner will show no emotion, it will be very hard to determine his mental state as he tries to adapt to captivity. They are a proud race, and consider many of the other Galactic races below them. We have found that if one breaks, he will break completely, and all the past frustrations and emotions will pour out. Experienced interrogators describe this as a rather long and sometimes boring experience….

Mansfield served in the Canadian Armed Forces for 25 years, retiring in 1990. While stationed in New Brunswick, he chaired OromoctoCon in 1970, with attendance of about 30, including some fans who drove up from Boston.

He and his wife, Linda Ross-Mansfield, ran the Pendragon Games specialty store at various locations in Winnipeg over the decades. His influence in gaming fandom is reflected in the fact that the Origins Awards, presented at the Origins Game Fair, are referred to as his “brainchild” in the official history.

He helped develop Winnipeg’s regional Keycon. Beginning in 1989 he published Con­TRACT, a zine for Canadian conrunners, continuing until 2002. In the last issue he delivered this snapshot of his life at the time:

Here in Winnipeg, I get to do lots. …I’m part of a Media con and a Horror con, with more possibilities to come. I have the chance to promote some 20 movies a year. I am responsible for promoting various game companies via tournaments from Thunder Bay to Alberta. I’m still running the second largest Game store in Canada, that continues to grow in sales ever since our start in 1982. I know that I am only held back by my imagination and the time I wish to commit to my world.

When he led the 1994 Worldcon (ConAdian) committee, knowing that attendance would be sparse in comparison to Worldcons held in cities many times larger than Winnipeg, he showed a degree of commercial ingenuity that may be common among trade shows but had never been equaled by any previous Worldcon. He courted dozens sponsors and advertisers to gain new sources of revenue at the same time he unsentimentally cut expenses. At opening ceremonies the Mayor of Winnipeg said ConAdian would be the largest conference gathering in Winnipeg this year — the audience buzzed with interest when they heard that.

By then, I was already chair of the forthcoming 1996 Worldcon (L.A.con III), and I was deeply appreciative for all the times John sat with me to share his knowledge and experience.

He would have liked to bring the Worldcon back to Winnipeg for 2003, and started a bid, but the Toronto bid for that year became the unified Canadian entry, winning over a bid for Cancun.  

He co-chaired the 2005 Westercon in Calgary. In 2012 he helped start the short-lived A.E. Van Vogt Award for Canadian science fiction on behalf of the Winnipeg Science Fiction Association (WINSFA), Conadian, and Science Fiction Winnipeg (SFW).

He is survived by his wife, Linda Ross-Mansfield, NASFiC co-chair.

(9) MEMORY LANE.

2016[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

The entire Terra Ignota series was nominated at Chicon 9 for a Hugo Award for Best Series. It was also nominated for an Otherwise Award,

The first work was Too Like The Lightning was published by Tor Books seven years ago. It was rapidly joined by the rest of the quartet, Seven Surrenders (2017), The Will to Battle, (2017) and finally Perhaps the Stars (2021). 

I think it’s a brilliant if somewhat flawed series and that is all I’ll say here.

Now shall we read the Beginning of Too Like The Lightning? Of course we will…

A Prayer to the Reader

You will criticize me, reader, for writing in a style six hundred years removed from the events I describe, but you came to me for explanation of those days of transformation which left your world the world it is, and since it was the philosophy of the Eighteenth Century, heavy with optimism and ambition, whose abrupt revival birthed the recent revolution, so it is only in the language of the Enlightenment, rich with opinion and sentiment, that those days can be described. You must forgive me my ‘thee’s and ‘thou’s and ‘he’s and ‘she’s, my lack of modern words and modern objectivity. It will be hard at first, but whether you are my contemporary still awed by the new order, or an historian gazing back at my Twenty-Fifth Century as remotely as I gaze back on the Eighteenth, you will find yourself more fluent in the language of the past than you imagined; we all are. 

I wondered once why authors of ancient days so often prostrate themselves before their audience, apologize, beg favors, pray to the reader as to an Emperor as they explain their faults and failings; yet, with my work barely begun, I find myself already in need of such obsequies. If I am properly to follow the style I have chosen, I must, at the book’s outset, describe myself, my background and qualifications, and tell you by what chance or Providence it is that the answers you seek are in my hands. I beg you, gentle reader, master, tyrant, grant me the privilege of silence on this count. Those of you who know the name of Mycroft Canner may now set this book aside. Those who do not, I beg you, let me make you trust me for a few dozen pages, since the tale will give you time enough to hate me in its own right.

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born April 20, 1908 Donald Wandrei. Writer who had sixteen stories in Astounding Stories and fourteen stories in Weird Tales, plus a smattering elsewhere, all in the Twenties and Thirties. The Web of Easter Island is his only novel. He was the co-founder with August Derleth of Arkham House. He has World Fantasy Award for Lifetime Achievement, and he’s a member of First Fandom Hall of Fame. Only his “Raiders of The Universe“ short story and his story in  Famous Fantastic Mysteries (October 1939 issue) are available at the usual digital suspects. (Died 1987.)
  • Born April 20, 1937 George Takei, 86. Hikaru Sulu on the original Trek. And yes, I know that Vonda McIntyre wouldn’t coin the first name until a decade later in her Entropy Effect novel.  Post-Trek, he would write Mirror Friend, Mirror Foe with Robert Asprin. By the way, his first genre roles were actually dubbing the English voices of Professor Kashiwagi of Rodan! The Flying Monster and the same of the Commander of Landing Craft of Godzilla Raids Again
  • Born April 20, 1939 Peter S. Beagle, 84. I’ve known him for about twenty years now, met him but once in that time. He’s quite charming. (I had dinner with him here once some years back.)  My favorite works? TamsinSummerlong and In Calabria. He won the Novelette Hugo at L.A. Con IV for “Two Hearts”. And he has a World Fantasy Award for Lifetime Achievement.
  • Born April 20, 1943 Ian Watson, 80. He’s won the BSFA Award twice, first for his novel, The Jonah Kit, and for his short story, “The Beloved Time of Their Lives“. He also got a BSFA nomination for the charmingly titled “The World Science Fiction Convention of 2080”.  He has written in Warhammer 40,000 universe including The Inquisition War trilogy.
  • Born April 20, 1949 John Ostrander, 74. Writer of comic books, including GrimjackSuicide Squad and Star Wars: Legacy. Well those are the titles he most frequently gets noted for but I’ll add in the Spectre, Martian Manhunter and the late Eighties Manhunter as well. 
  • Born April 20, 1959 Clint Howard, 64. So the most interesting connection that he has to the genre is playing Balok, the strange childlike alien, in Star Trek’s “The Corbomite Maneuver” which I remember clearly decades after last seeing it. He’s also John Dexter in Cocoon, and Mark in The Rocketeer as well as Jason Ritter in the Austin Powers franchise. He’s got a minor role in Solo: A Star Wars Story as a character named Ralakili.
  • Born April 20, 1964 Sean A. Moore. He wrote three Conan pastiches, Conan the HunterConan and the Grim Grey God and Conan and the Shaman’s Curse. He also wrote the screenplay for Kull the Conqueror, and the novelization of it. All were published by Tor. He was active in Colorado fandom. He died in car crash in Boulder. (Died 1998.)

(11) JEOPARDY! Neal Stephenson figured in the climactic round of tonight’s Jeopardy! episode. Andrew Porter was watching.

Final Jeopardy: Modern Words

Answer: Neal Stephenson coined this word in his 1992 novel “Snow Crash”; it was later shortened by a company to become its new name

All three contestants got it wrong, with “What is powder?” “What is uber?” and “What is avalanche?”

Correct question: “What is Metaverse?”

(12) OLD TECH HAS NEW FANS. “‘Such a fun way to consume music’: why sales of the ‘obsolete’ cassette are soaring” in the Guardian. “With more cassette tapes being bought than since 2003, readers tell why they prefer them to modern music players.”

“Buying a cassette direct from an independent artist on platforms such as Bandcamp is such a fun way to consume music. Often produced in very small runs, it is nice to receive something though the post that is relatively scarce. In these days of Spotify funnelling payments only to the superstars, it feels good to support small artists and labels. I love vinyl, too, but the magic of a cassette is that you have no way to skip tracks; you press ‘play’ and listen from start to finish with only the satisfying thud of one side ending to interrupt the experience. The noisy, tactile controls of a cassette player are the perfect tonic to the ways most of us consume media throughout the day, making it more of a special event and something to look forward to.” Dan White, 40, Norwich

(13) RECORD STORE RESOURCE. April 22 is “Record Store Day”. This link will take you to any store participating, anywhere, plus lots of other information.

This is a day for the people who make up the world of the record store—the staff, the customers, and the artists—to come together and celebrate the unique culture of a record store and the special role they play in their communities. Special vinyl and CD releases and various promotional products are made exclusively for the day. Festivities include performances, cook-outs, body painting, meet & greets with artists, parades, DJs spinning records, and on and on. In 2008 a small list of titles was released on Record Store Day and that list has grown to include artists and labels both large and small, in every genre and price point. 

(14) FAILURE OR SUCCESS? “Unmanned Starship explodes over gulf after liftoff” reports MSN.com.

SpaceX’s Starship lifted off the pad in Southern Texas and cleared the launchpad, its first milestone, but then began tumbling as it was preparing for stage separation and the vehicle came apart some four minutes into flight.

… SpaceX’s Kate Tice said it was unclear what caused the rocket to come apart. She said that “teams will continue to review the data and work toward our next flight test.”

Still, since it was a test, SpaceX hailed the flight as a success because it would provide the company new information about how the vehicle performs in real life that will help them on future flights. And it did not damage the launchpad, a risk SpaceX CEO Elon Musk had said was his greatest worry….

(15) CRASH COURSE. [SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] This week’s Nature cover story “DART’s data verify its smashing success at deflecting asteroid moon Dimorphos” looks at four NASA DART papers…

Although currently there is no known threat to Earth from asteroids, strategies to protect the planet from a collision are being explored. On 26 September 2022, NASA and the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory successfully tested one such approach: the Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) spacecraft was deliberately crashed into Dimorphos, a moon orbiting the small asteroid Didymos, resulting in a change in the moon’s orbit. In this week’s issue, five papers explore the test and the effects of the collision. “Successful kinetic impact into an asteroid” reconstructs the impact; a second looks at the change to Dimorphos’s orbit caused by the impact. A third paper reports observations from the Hubble Space Telescope of the material ejected during the collision. A fourth paper uses modelling to characterize the transfer of momentum that resulted from the impact. And the final paper reports on citizen science observations before, during and after the collision.

[Thanks to Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Lloyd & Yvonne Penney, Moshe Feder, Danny Sichel, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Rich Lynch, Andrew Porter, John King Tarpinian, and Chris Barkley for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Andrew (not Werdna).]

Pixel Scroll 2/11/22 They’re Creepy And They’re Scrolly, The Pixel Family

(1) EMPOWERING LIBRARIES. “Texas Book Ban Prompts School Librarians to Launch #FReadom Fighters” reports Publishers Weekly.  (The #FReadom website is here.)

In response to Texas Rep. Matt Krause’s published list of 850 books on race and sexuality that he targeted for their subject matter —many of which were pulled from school library shelves—a group of Texas school librarians has decided to push back. Last November, they orchestrated #FReadom Fighters, a social media campaign with the goal of supporting authors, teachers, librarians, and students in their pursuit of intellectual freedom. In a matter of months, the organization’s work has amassed thousands of supporters, both at the state level and across the country, and incited other likeminded groups to take action.

… On launch day, November 4, 2021, #FReadom Fighters garnered 13,000 tweets, much to the organizers’ surprise. “We had planned all this in secret, so we were amazed that this was happening even before starting a Twitter account,” Foote said. “We saw ourselves as a guerilla effort, serving as a rapid response team.” The @FReadomFighters Twitter account and website soon followed, updated with weekly and monthly action plans to support fellow librarians in their day-to-day operations. Ideas for #FReadom Fridays varied, from inviting authors to show letters they had received from readers about why their books were so powerful, to asking people to share books that had had an impact on them. A more recent prompt focuses on celebrating wins: sharing success stories of books that have been put back on shelves….

(2) THE BUZZ. Lightyear opens June 17.

“Lightyear” is the definitive origin story of Buzz Lightyear—the hero who inspired the toy—follows the legendary Space Ranger on an intergalactic adventure. “Buzz’s world was always something I was excited about,” said director Angus MacLane. “In ‘Toy Story,’ there seemed to be this incredible backstory to him being a Space Ranger that’s only touched upon, and I always wanted to explore that world further. So my ‘Lighytear’ pitch was, ‘What was the movie that Andy saw that made him want a Buzz Lightyear toy?’ I wanted to see that movie. And now I’m lucky enough to get to make it.”

(3) BRADBURY’S SUPER BOWL CONNECTION. A newspaper pitched Ray to contribute to its Super Bowl XXXV (2001) special section. Did he do it?

(4) HORROR THEATER 3000. Ursula Vernon livetweeted her experience watching the horror movie Midsommar. Thread starts here.

(5) THE OFFICE. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In the Washington Post, Adela Suliman says Britain’s Science Museum has opened an exhibit called “Stephen Hawking At Work,” which features a preserved doodle-covered blackboard and the case that held his voice synthesizer. “’Stephen Hawking at Work’ exhibition in London displays his blackboard, glasses and other belongings”.

Hawking’s daughter, Lucy, said it was “wonderful to see my father’s working environment recreated.”

“It was such a unique and fascinating environment, and I am delighted his office has been recreated in order to inspire scientists of the future,” she said in a statement.

The blackboard in the exhibit illustrates Hawking’s playful sense of humor and was used during a “Superspace and Supergravity” conference in 1980. Delegates covered it in equations, cartoons and jokes about one another. Hawking had the souvenir framed and hung in his office.

Because even small vibrations could cause the blackboard to lose chalk, Juan-Andres Leon, curator of Stephen Hawking’s Office, said in an email, “the museum applied a starch-based material to stabilise the chalk dust and enclosed it in a frame.”

(6) RIGHTS AND WRONGS. Want to own the rights to The Lord of the Rings? Can you outspend Jeff Bezos? Meanwhile, other legal shenanigans are in progress reports Yahoo! “Lord Of The Rings Mod Hit With Takedown Just As Series’ Rights Are Up For Sale”.

The bigger news first: the Saul Zantz company has owned most of the rights to Tolkien’s works since the 1970s. Almost everything that has been made based on the books in the fields of “film, video games, merchandising, live events and theme parks” has had to be negotiated and paid for accordingly. Variety reported this week though that the company is moving to sell those rights, for a sum that’s expected to be around the $2 billion mark, with Amazon expected to be front of the line to make the purchase, which seems like an absolute worst-case scenario.

So it’s weird, then, that given the timing of that sale, Warner Bros.—who currently licenses the rights to Lord of the Rings video games—have chosen February 2022 to go after a prominent and highly-anticipated mod for the Total War series called Rise of Mordor.

This mod has been around for yearswe wrote about it in 2018!—and has quietly gone about its business with the assumption that, like its popular predecessor Third Age, nobody really cared. Only now somebody clearly does, because Rise of Mordor’s Mod DB page has been hit with a takedown notice (Third Age’s, however, remains)….

(7) MAIL FROM HELL. Yesterday, Brenton Dickieson celebrated “The 80th Anniversary of C.S. Lewis’ The Screwtape Letters” at A Pilgrim in Narnia.

… As I discuss it in detail here, it is a shocking beginning for the unprepared. Who is Screwtape? Who is Wormwood? Why is Wormwood being commended for encouraging connections with materialists (atheists? naturalist? worldly people?)? Why is he rebuked for using argument as a foundation for action?

The original Screwtape Letters were an extreme use of in medias res with the potential to leave the reader completely befuddled. We all “get” Screwtape now because the genre of demonic epistolary fiction is something we might expect. It is part of pop culture. Back then, though, it was entirely new. While the editor’s little note may prepare regular readers to expect a Christian academic, readers not expecting a new, satirical genre may well be surprised….

… I don’t know anyone who has catalogued the breadth of influence that Screwtape has had within popular culture as a whole. That Monty Python’s John Cleese narrated a Grammy-nominated audiobook of The Screwtape Letters is some indication of its impact….

(8) TWO DOZEN STORIES. [Item by Daniel Dern.] A free download of 24 stories is available: “Some of the Best From Tor.com 2021 Is Out Now!” Yes, you could find these one-by-one at Tor.com. This is easier.

This anthology features twenty-four of our favorite original stories published on the site in the past year.

Of course, you can always read these—and all other—Tor.com stories  for free whenever you’d like, but starting today they will be available world-wide as a single, easy-to-read, FREE ebook, available from all your favorite vendors.

(9) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

1970 [Item by Cat Eldridge]  Fifty-two years ago, Hammer Films’ Frankenstein Must Be Destroyed premiered. It was the fifth Hammer film that featured Baron Frankenstein. It was directed by Terrence Fisher from the screenplay by Bert Batt as taken from the story written by Anthony Nelson and Batt. It starred Peter Cushing, Freddie Jones, Veronica Carlson and Simon Ward. 

Critics say that it is one of the better Hammer films in quite some time with Variety saying that  it had “a minimum of artless dialogue, good lensing by Arthur Grant and a solid all round cast”, and Slant Magazine holding it to be “One of the finest of the seven entries in Hammer’s Frankenstein cycle.”

It holds a sixty-eight percent rating among the nearly three thousand who rated it over at Rotten Tomatoes. You can watch it here.

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born February 11, 1908 Tevis Clyde Smith, Jr. He did several short stories with Robert E. Howard — “Diogenes of today”, “ Eighttoes makes a play” and “Red Blades of Black Cathay”. Donald M. Grant would publish them together in the Red Blades of Black Cathay collection. The title story originally appeared in Oriental Stories, an offshoot of Weird Tales. (Died 1984.)
  • Born February 11, 1910 L. T. C. Rolt. English writer whose enthusiasm for heritage railways is writ large in his 1948 Sleep No More collection of supernatural horror stories which tend to be set in rural railways. (Simon R. Green may be influenced by him in his Ghost Finders series which often uses these railways as a setting.) Some of these stories were adapted as radio dramas.  Sleep No More is available from the usual digital suspects. (Died 1974.)
  • Born February 11, 1926 Leslie Nielsen. I know, the comic, bumbling fool who delighted generations of film goers. But his first starring role was as Commander John J. Adams in one of the finest SF films of all time Forbidden Planet. I am most decidedly not a fan of his later films, but I think he’s brilliant here. (Died 2010.)
  • Born February 11, 1939 Jane Yolen, 83. Jane Yolen loves not-so-dark chocolate, so I send her some from time to time. She wrote me into a novel as a character, an ethnomusicologist in One-Armed Queen to be precise, in exchange for finding her a fairytale collection she wanted. Don’t remember now what it was other than it was very old and very rare. My favorite book by her is The Wild Hunt which she’s signed a copy for me, and I love that she financed the production of Boiled of Lead’s Antler Dance which Adam Stemple was lead vocalist on.
  • Born February 11, 1948 Robert Reginald. He’s here because of two Phantom Detective novels he wrote late in his career which are mostly popcorn literature. (The Phantom Detective series started in 1936 so he used the Robert Wallace house name.) He has two series of some length, the Nova Europa Fantasy Saga and War of Two Worlds. Much of what he wrote is available from the usual digital sources. (Died 2013.)
  • Born February 11, 1950 Alain Bergeron, 70. He received an Aurora Award for Best Short Story for “Les Crabes de Vénus regardent le ciel” published In Solaris number 73, and a Sideways Award for Alternate History for “Le huitième registre” (translated in English as “The Eighth Register” by Howard Scott).
  • Born February 11, 1953 Wayne Hammond, 69. He’s married to fellow Tolkien scholar Christina Scull. Together they’ve done some of the finest work on Tolkien that’s been done, including J. R. R. Tolkien: Artist and Illustrator, The Lord of the Rings: A Reader’s CompanionThe Adventures of Tom Bombadil and Other Verses from the Red Book and The J. R. R. Tolkien Companion and Guide
  • Born February 11, 1982 Natalie Dormer, 40. Best known as being in Game of Thrones as Margaery Tyrell, though I’m more interested in the fact that she was in Elementary over three seasons as both Jamie Moriarty and Irene Adler. Anyone here watch this series? I’ve not but this sounds fascinating! 

(11) TRIVIAL TRIVIA. Thomas Edison was born this day in 1847. Edison’s film company produced the very first known feature adaptation of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein.

(12) A WEBB FIRST. “James Webb Space Telescope captures its first images of a star” and Yahoo! has a copy — see the image at the link.

The James Webb Space Telescope has finally captured its first image of a star — or rather, images. NASA has shared a mosaic of pictures (shown above) of a star taken using the primary mirror’s 18 segments. It looks like a seemingly random collection of blurry dots, but that’s precisely what the mission team was expecting. The imagery will help scientists finish the lengthy mirror alignment process using the telescope’s Near Infrared Camera, or NIRCam. The first phase is nearly complete as of this writing.

(13) HEVELIN FANZINES. A couple of years ago, Atlas Obscura signal-boosted a call for help with a fanzine transcription project: “Even More Ways to Help Librarians and Archivists From Home”. What’s their status today? They say they are 100% done!

First the 2020 excerpt:

What better time to zip into a happily unfamiliar realm? The DIY History project at the University of Iowa Library, which invites people to help transcribe digitized objects from the library’s special collections and other holdings, could use your help with its massive trove of science-fiction zines. Some date back to the 1930s; all were collected by the late James L. “Rusty” Hevelin. More than 10,780 pages of the Hevelin Fanzines collection have been transcribed so far, but there are still around 500 left to go. If you need a mental break from this planet and its familiar troubles, pop into this project and spend a little time somewhere else.

David Doering was one of the volunteers, so I checked with him and this is what I learned:

We completed the transcription of Rusty’s collection about two years ago. I don’t see any new additions to that collection. (And the numbers match what this article says: There’s 11285 pages transcribed. Which is 500 more than the articles 10,780.)

Now there are other (non-SF) works to possibly transcribe. You can find the landing page here: https://diyhistory.lib.uiowa.edu/

To be fair, there were pages that were not transcribed because the pages were (almost) unreadable due to mimeo ink fading.  I tried to noodle out the contents and made some progress, but some I just couldn’t get enough of an image to read the text. So if there’s someone out there who has great image restoration skills, there are probably a couple of hundred pages that were skipped due to readability.

Unfortunately, the software the U of Iowa used for this project would count a page as transcribed even if you wrote the obligatory note “Not transcribed due to legibility issues.” So all the zines show 100% transcribed when some were not.

(14) FYI. Behind a paywall, WIRED presents “Ada Palmer and the Weird Hand of Progress”: “The sci-fi author writes about the 25th century and teaches college students about the 15th. The past we think we know is wrong, she says—and so is the future.”

(15) ATTENTION SJW CREDENTAL OWNERS. Andrew Porter witnessed Jeopardy! contestants stumped by a science fictional item on tonight’s episode.

Category: I’m too sexy: a lyrical potpourri

Answer: …for this animal “who walks through walls” in a Robert A. Heinlein title.

No one could answer: What is a cat?

(16) FOURWARD MARCH. DC tells us about the four movies they’re bringing out this coming year: “DC – The World Needs Heroes”.

(17) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In “Honest Game Trallers: Tom Clancy’s Ranbow Six Extraction,” Fandom Games notes that this series is sf, because special forces are blasting “alien goo-boys.”  And if the going gets tough, the narrator reminds us that “There may be no ‘I’ in ‘team’, but there is an i in ‘I’m departing from this field immediately.’”

[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, Cliff, Hampus Eckerman, David Doering,Bonnie Warford, Daniel Dern, Michael J. Walsh, John King Tarpinian, Andrew Porter, and Michael Toman for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Jon Meltzer.]

Pixel Scroll 11/4/21 Last Scroll Of The Planet Fileton, Pix-El (The Cousin Clark Doesn’t Talk About)

(1) DOCTOR WHO SEASON BEGINS. Plenty of Radio Timesy-Wimey stuff to start today’s Scroll. First — “Doctor Who series 13 episode 1 review ‘The Halloween Apocalypse’”Radio Times does an episode recap, and beyond this excerpt it’s rather spoilery:

…Flux – Chapter One: The Halloween Apocalypse gets off to a rollicking start. Mid escapade. High peril. No hanging about. Well, unless you’re Yaz and the Doctor, who, as we join them, are dangling from a “gravity bar” over an ocean of roiling acid. The pace is set for a fast, fun-packed opener, impressively achieved by Chibnall and his team in the face of COVID.

Shorn of former sidekicks Ryan and Graham, the Doctor (Jodie Whittaker) and Yaz (Mandip Gill) make good sparring partners, fielding a balance of amity and antagonism, and falling into the trad pattern in which the Time Lord withholds vital information, imperilling the companion’s life, who in turn proves to be plucky and resourceful….

(2) BOX SCORE. And how many watched the kickoff of Season 13? Let Radio Times tell you: “Doctor Who overnight ratings revealed for The Halloween Apocalypse”.

The overnight viewing figures for yesterday’s episode of Doctor Who are in, with the series 13 premiere drawing in almost 4.5 million viewers.

BBC News entertainment correspondent Lizo Mzimba shared the audience statistics on Twitter, writing that an audience of 4.43 million watched series 13’s first episode – Chapter One: The Halloween Apocalypse.

While the figures are higher than most of series 12’s overnight statistics, they are lower than those for last season’s premiere, which was watched by 4.88 million.

(3) RAMPANT SPECULATION. Don’t read this if you’re avoiding spoilers: Radio Times returns with the gossip being shared around the TARDIS’ water-cooler: “Swarm Doctor Who regeneration theories – is Swarm a Time Lord?”

… Obviously, there’s a lot to dissect from the episode – but one of the most striking moments had to be the introduction of new (or possibly old) baddie Swarm, who claims to be an ancient foe of the Doctor now wiped from her memory (thanks to events glimpsed in series 12 finale The Timeless Children)….

(4) WORK OF A LIFETIME. Artist James A. Owen has launched a Kickstarter appeal to fund an art book retrospective/meditation/collection of illustration, comics, pop culture, and stories celebrating his career: “Illustrations & Illuminations by James A. Owen”. As of this writing, it’s raised $13,421 of the $30,000 goal.

…I envisioned this book as the place where I could collect and display the very best of that work: the color covers and best pages from STARCHILD; the line art, color covers, and process drawings for illustrations from the IMAGINARIUM GEOGRAPHICA books; the drawings I made of J.R.R. TOLKIEN, C.S. LEWIS, and the other Inklings of Oxford from Diana Glyer’s book BANDERSNATCH; the lost graphic novel proposal for Peter Beagle’s THE LAST UNICORN; covers for books by Jeff VanderMeer & Cat Rambo, and Alma Alexander, and Catherynne Valente; illustrations and covers for the emagazine THE INTERGALACTIC MEDICINE SHOW; comics adaptations of a song by TORI AMOS and a story by F. PAUL WILSON; unseen art for LOST TREASURES OF THE PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN; the covers from my periodical WORDS & PICTURES; designs for the magazines ARGOSY and INTERNATIONAL STUDIO; spot illustrations and pinups from every era of my career; and much, much more….

(5) A FINE ROMANCE, WITH NO KISSES. Deadline reports “’Eternals’ Banned In Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait, Bahrain & Oman”.

Eternals was originally scheduled to open in the region on Nov. 11.

While official reasons weren’t provided by either the studio or the local territories, here’s our understanding of what went down:

In Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Oman, the censors were seeking further cuts beyond any scenes of intimacy and that Disney opted not to make the edits, hence distribution certificates weren’t issued.

Meanwhile in Kuwait and Qatar, the Chloe Zhao-directed super-gods movie was blocked. The issue, we hear, may not solely be the same-sex kiss, but rather that overall these markets have historically had a problem with the depiction of gods and prophets, something they consider blasphemous.

In the United Arab Emirates, Jordan, Lebanon and Egypt we understand that a version of the film will be released that removes all scenes of intimacy — be they heterosexual or homosexual. This is generally normal practice for these markets…

(6) ALL THE ANGLES. At A Pilgrim in Narnia, Brenton Dickieson provides a fascinating in-depth review of a recent book about Tolkien’s Chaucer scholarship: “The Doom and Destiny of Tolkien’s Chaucer Research: A Note on John M. Bowers, Tolkien’s Lost Chaucer (2019)”.

Tolkien’s Lost Chaucer is a book about a book that was doomed from the start….

… However, the entire book is really about how the fertile imagination and poetry of Chaucer provides an unceasingly rich bed for Tolkien’s scholarship and mythopoeic work. Tolkien’s Lost Chaucer really does reveal Tolkien’s thinking about words, accents, language development, regional dialects, poetic beauty, storytelling, character development, and moral and creative rooting. It is also an excellent book for showing Tolkien’s process as a thinker and editor. Readers of the Middle-earth histories and other Tolkien archival collections (like Christopher Tolkien’s publication of Beowulf) will recognize the patterns of intensive work, attention to detail, harried productivity, and chronic procrastination endemic to Tolkien’s lifetime at the desk.

When I mention “parallels” between Chaucer and Tolkien, I really mean that this is what the book is about. These parallels are often striking, sometimes surprising, and almost always thoughtful (even when they are peculiar). I wish, as I always do of writers about intertextual influence, that Bowers would have better distinguished the different kinds of probability of influence on a case-by-case basis. Usually, though, the reader can make that decision, deciding if this is a Chaucerian moment in Tolkien or merely a striking coincidence….

(7) MODEL LYRICS. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In the Financial Times behind a paywall, Helen Brown says that Gilbert and Sullivan’s “The Major General’s Song” from The Pirates of Penzance (you know, “I am the very model of a modern major general”) has surprising sf resonances because of Tom Lehrer.

The smart-alecky language and precision-engineered rhyme scheme of (W.S.) Gilbert’s original lyrics made their way, via (Tom) Lehrer, into 20th-century science-fiction nerd culture, which made the song a perfect fit for tv shows.  On a 1978 episode of the BBC’s Dr. Who written by Douglas Adams (The Pirate Planet) Tom Baker’s incarnation of the Time Lord sang, ‘I am the very model of a Gallifreyan Buccaneer.’  The song was also sung in episodes of Star Trek:  The Next Generation (1992), Babylon 5 (1997), and Star Trek:  Discovery  (2019)… In 2017, the adorably chaotic minions from Universal’s animated film Despicable Me 3 turned the song into giddy gibberish as “Papa Mamma Loca Pipa.” As their helium-high voices tear into lines like ‘toka bocca pissa lalasagnaa,’ you can imagine Gilbert laughing from beyond the grave.

(8) KRUGMAN, PALMER, WALTON & MORE. City University of New York will present “Imagining the Future: Science Fiction and Social Science”, a free virtual event, on November 10 at 7:30 p.m. Eastern. Reservations required — register on Zoom. (The event will be available a few days later on their YouTube channel.)

What do science fiction and social science have in common? Much in the way economists and political scientists forecast the results of social and economic structures, science-fiction writers envision future civilizations, both utopian and dystopian, through systematic world-building. Paul Krugman, distinguished professor of economics at the CUNY Graduate Center, joins in a conversation about the connection between the social sciences and fantasy fiction, and how they often inspire each other. The panel, including sci-fi novelists and social scientists who often refer to fiction in their writing and interviews, includes: Henry Farrell, a professor working on democracy and international affairs at Johns Hopkins University and editor-in-chief of the Monkey Cage blog at The Washington PostAda Palmer, author of the Terra Ignota series and associate professor of history at the University of Chicago; Noah Smith, who writes about economics at Noahpinion and is a former Bloomberg columnist and assistant professor at Stony Brook University; and Jo Walton, whose many books include Tooth and ClawHa’Penney, and the recent Or What You Will.

(9) SLIME TIME. “Ghostbusters Confidential: Inside The Original Ghost Shop” is an in-person Artist Talk being presented at the Museum of Neon Art in Glendale, CA on Saturday, November 20 at 5:00 p.m. Pacific. If you’re going to be in the neighborhood, tickets are available for $10 at the link. 

To celebrate the release of Ghostbusters: Afterlife, neon and kinetic sculptor Stuart Ziff returns to MONA to share an entertaining, behind-the-scenes glimpse of the creatures in the original 1984 Ghostbusters movie. As “Head of Ghost Shop,” Stuart managed over 50 artists and technicians to create the film’s iconic monsters and creatures. Stuart will explain the creature-creation process–from concept drawings to filming on set– for fan-favorite creatures including “Slimer”, “Terror Dogs”, and The “Stay Puft Marshmallow Man.” 

(10) ONCE A FANNISH MECCA. Daytonian in Manhattan profiles “The Doomed 1919 Hotel Pennsylvania”, a famous NYC hotel remembered by fans like Andrew Porter under its operating name the Statler-Hilton as the site of the 1967 Worldcon, NyCon 3, and other sff events. Porter commented there:

In 1966, a bunch of science fiction fans, myself included, checked out holding our annual World Science Ficrtion Convention at the then-Statler-Hilton. I remember being shown around. Sights included the enormous drained swimming pools, over which were built office space, as well as all the function rooms, some of which no longer exist. We did indeed hold the convention there, with numerous problems, including that the elevator operators were on strike because they were being automated out of existence. I remember the hotel rooms had window air conditioners, but also had hot, cold, and ice water faucets in the bathrooms, from the days before air conditioning was installed. Over the 1960s to 1990s, numerous science fiction, comics and Star Trek conventions were held in the hotel, and I have numerous photos with those facilities behind the people. Or just Google “1967 World Science Fiction Convention” to see reports, photos, etc.

All the hotel fittings were auctioned in September, and the building is expected to be demolished .

(11) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

1996 – Twenty-five years ago, DS9’s “Trials and Tribble-ations” first aired in syndication. A most delightful episode, it blended footage from the original “The Trouble with Tribbles” into the new episode in a manner that allowed the characters from DS9 to appear to interact with the original Trek crew. The story was by Ira Steven Behr, Hans Beimler and Robert Hewitt Wolfe with Ronald D. Moore and René Echevarria writing the actual script.

Paramount promoted the episode by arranging the placement of around a quarter million tribbles in subways and buses across the United States. Huh. Critics loved it. Really. Truly. They all turned into fanboys.  And everyone loved that they brought Charlie Brill back to film new scenes. It was nominated for a Hugo at LoneStarCon 2 but lost out to Babylon 5’s “Severed Dreams”. I personally think it should’ve won. 

(12) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born November 4, 1912 Wendayne Ackerman. Was the translator-in-chief of 137 novels of the German space opera series Perry Rhodan, the majority published by Ace Books. She left Germany before WWII to escape anti-Semitism, working as a nurse in France and London. After the war she emigrated to Israel where she married her first husband and had a son. Following their divorce she moved to LA in 1948, and soon met and married Forrest J Ackerman. (Died 1990.)
  • Born November 4, 1917 Babette Rosmond. She worked at magazine publisher Street & Smith, editing Doc Savage and The Shadow in the late Forties. Rosmond’s first story, co-written by Leonard M. Lake, “Are You Run-Down, Tired-“ was published in the October 1942 issue of Unknown WorldsError Hurled was her only genre novel and she only wrote three short genre pieces. She’s not available at the usual suspects. (Died 1997.)
  • Born November 4, 1920 Sydney Bounds. Writer, Editor, and Fan from Britain who was a prolific author of short fiction, and novels — not just science fiction, but also horror, Westerns, mysteries, and juvenile fiction — from 1946 until his death in 2006. He was an early fan who joined Britain’s Science Fiction Association in 1937. He worked as an electrician on the Enigma machine during World War II, and while in the service, he started publishing the fanzine Cosmic Cuts. The film The Last Days on Mars (an adaptation of “The Animators”) and the Tales of the Darkside episode “The Circus” are based on stories by him. In 2005, two collections of his fiction were released under the title The Best of Sydney J. Bounds: Strange Portrait and Other Stories, and The Wayward Ship and other Stories. In 2007, the British Fantasy Society honored him by renaming their award for best new writer after him. (Died 2006.)
  • Born November 4, 1934 Gregg Calkins. Gregg Calkins, Writer, Editor, and Fan. Mike Glyer’s tribute to him reads: “Longtime fan Gregg Calkins died July 31, 2017 after suffering a fall. He was 82. Gregg got active in fandom in the Fifties and his fanzine Oopsla (1952-1961) is fondly remembered. He was living in the Bay Area and serving as the Official Editor of FAPA when I applied to join its waitlist in the Seventies. He was Fan GoH at the 1976 Westercon. Calkins later moved to Costa Rica. In contrast to most of his generation, he was highly active in social media, frequently posting on Facebook where it was his pleasure to carry the conservative side of debates. He is survived by his wife, Carol.”
  • Born November 4, 1953 Kara Dalkey, 68. Writer of YA fiction and historical fantasy. She is a member of the Pre-Joycean Fellowship (which if memory serves me right includes both Emma Bull and Stephen Brust) and the Scribblies. Her works include The Sword of SagamoreSteel RoseLittle Sister and The Nightingale. And her Water trilogy blends together Atlantean and Arthurian mythologies. She’s been nominated for the Mythopoeic and Otherwise Awards. 
  • Born November 4, 1953 Stephen Jones, 68. Editor, and that is putting quite mildly, as he went well over the century mark in edited anthologies edited quite some time ago. The Mammoth Book of Best New Horror accounts for eighteen volumes by itself and The Mammoth Book of (Pick A Title) runs for at least another for another dozen. He also, no surprise, to me, has authored a number of horror reference works such as The Art of Horror Movies: An Illustrated HistoryBasil Copper: A Life in Books and H. P. Lovecraft in Britain. He’s also done hundreds of essays, con reports, obituaries and such showing up, well, just about everywhere. He’s won a number of World Fantasy Awards and far too many BFAs to count. 
  • Born November 4, 1955 Lani Tupu, 66. He’d be here just for being Crais and the voice of the Pilot on the Farscape series but he’s actually been in several other genre undertakings including the 1989 Punisher as Laccone, and Gordon Standish in Robotropolis. He also had roles in Tales of the South SeasTime Trax and The Lost World. All of which we can guess were filmed in Australia. Lastly he appears in the Australian remake of the Mission: Impossible series which if you haven’t seen it is quite excellent. I just found it in DVD format several years back. 
  • Born November 4, 1960 James Vickery, 61. In Babylon 5, he played Neroon which is where I remember him from as he was a Right Bastard there. His major Trek universe role was as Rusot, a member of Damar’s Cardassian resistance group, appearing in the DS9 episodes “The Changing Face of Evil”, “When It Rains…” and “Tacking Into the Wind”.  He also played a Betazoid in Next Gen’s “Night Terrors” and a Klingon in Enterprise‘s “Judgment” episode. And he voiced the character Legolas in a radio adaptation of The Lord of the Rings.

(13) COMICS SECTION.

(14) REUBEN AWARD. Ray Billingsley, creator of the comic strip Curtis, won the Reuben Award for Outstanding Cartoonist from the National Cartoonists Society on October 17. Billingsley is the first Black person to win in the 75-year history of the award. A video of his acceptance speech is here. SVA profiled him in February: “’Curtis’ Creator and SVA Alumnus Ray Billingsley on His Career, His Influences and Representation in Comics”.

(15) STUFFING YOUR CHRISTMAS SCOFFING. The Guardian’s Stuart Heritage enjoys a snarkfest at the expense of an annual UK TV tradition: “John Lewis Christmas advert 2021: this alien girl is here to ravage our planet”.

There are plenty of theories why the John Lewis Christmas ad no longer hits as hard as it once did. You could look at the fortunes of John Lewis itself, which has spent the last couple of years locked in a nightmare of plunging revenues and store closures. You could look at how aggressively every other retailer has attempted to rip off the tear-jerky John Lewis Christmas ad formula, to the extent that sitting through an ITV commercial break in November or December is now exactly the same as suffering through the first 10 minutes of Up on a neverending loop in an abandoned corn silo full of crying children.

But judging by this year’s offering, you might also suggest that John Lewis has run out of ideas. Because this year’s ad is such a straight-down-the-line John Lewis Christmas advert that you can only imagine it was assembled by tombola.

Sweet children? Check. Bittersweet ending? Check. Maudlin cover version of a song you once liked? Check, in this case a version of Together in Electric Dreams that sounds like it was performed by someone who has tumbled down a well and just realised nobody is coming to rescue her…. 

(16) REN FAIRES. Maryland’s NPR outlet produced a segment about “The Timeless Endurance Of Renaissance Faires”. Listen to it at the link. The guests are Eleanor Janega, a guest teacher in women’s history at the London School of Economics and Political Science; host, “Going Medieval;” author, “The Middle Ages: A Graphic History”; Kevin Patterson, executive director, Red Barn Productions; son of the founders of the original Renaissance Faire; and Rachel Lee Rubin, professor and chair of American Studies, University of Massachusetts-Boston; author, “Well Met: Renaissance Faires and the American Counterculture.” There’s also a sizable photo gallery.

The modern Renaissance Faire blossomed from a children’s arts education program in Agoura, California, in 1963.

Now, almost 60 years later, it’s a nationwide industry.

More than 200 festivals operate around the country — complete with jousters, performers, carnival games, vendors selling bespoke costume pieces, and various meats on a stick.

So why has the Renaissance Faire endured, nay, proliferated, all these years later?

(17) VIDEO OF THE DAY. An Audi is such a powerful car that it lets customers buy scary houses!

[Thanks to Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Andrew Porter, John A Arkansawyer, Bill, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, and Mike Kennedy for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Andrew (not Werdna) riffing off an idea by Jon Meltzer.]

Pixel Scroll 9/11/21 TribblePlusUnGood

(1) THE BRONZE TROUSERS. “’Cheese!’: Bronze statue of iconic duo Wallace and Gromit unveiled in Preston by creator Nick Park” reports ITV News Granada.

Wallace and Gromit creator Nick Park unveils the new statue in Preston. Photo credit: PA

A large bronze statue of the iconic, cheese-loving duo Wallace and Gromit has been unveiled in Lancashire.

The bench sculpture is based on the inventor and his loyal pooch as they appeared in short-film ‘The Wrong Trousers’, and now sits pride of place outside Preston Markets.

(2) WORDSMITH. John Scalzi celebrates “30 Years of Being a Professional Writer” with a not-very- shocking admission:

…Thirty years on I do not have the writing career I thought I would have when I started out. I’ve said this before and I think people disbelieve me, but: I had no intention of being a novelist, or, at the very least, I assumed that if I were to write novels, that they would be a nice occasional side hustle. What I hoped for at the time — and what I assumed would be the case — is that I would write for newspapers all my life. The gig at the Fresno Bee would lead to gigs at other newspapers, and eventually I would land up at the New York Times/Washington Post/Los Angeles Times/Chicago Tribune as a daily columnist, riffing off local and world events like idols such as Mike Royko or Molly Ivins. Twenty-two-year-old me fully expected an entire career of daily deadlines and 800-word bursts of opinion.

And, I’m not going to lie, part of me is sad I didn’t get that life. Not too sad, because, well. Hello, welcome to Whatever, which I have been writing at for twenty-three years come Monday…. 

(3) NOUGHTS & CROSSES AUTHOR. Guardian reporter Sian Cain interviews YA SFF writer Malorie Blackman: “‘Hope is the spark’”.

…The last 18 months, however, have been a significant challenge. Having been classed as extremely vulnerable due to a health condition, Blackman has been isolating for most of the pandemic – and it is clear that, as she puts it, she “loves a chat”. “It has been a very strange time,” she says. “I was getting government letters saying: ‘Don’t go out.’ I was trying to live as normal a life as possible, knowing full well it was extraordinary circumstances. But you do what you can, so I focused on my writing. Endgame was a good thing because it felt like I was doing something. I wasn’t saving lives, but I was doing something.

What she was doing is probably the hardest thing an author can do: writing the ending. After 20 years, six books and three novellas, Noughts & Crosses, Blackman’s most famous series, is finished. It is set in Albion, an alternative Britain that was colonised by Africa, where the black population call themselves Crosses (as they are closer to God), while the white are Noughts (poorer, institutionally discriminated against)….

(4) IT’S TIME TO BE SIMULTANEOUS. The good folks at Space Cowboy Books have released Simultaneous Times, Vol. 2.5, a free ebook anthology of stories featured at the Simultaneous Times podcast. One of them is by Cora Buhlert. Here is a book trailer for the anthology: 

(5) KRUGMAN, PALMER & WALTON. CUNY will host “Imagining the Future: Economics and Science Fiction” on November 10 at 7:30 p.m. Eastern. Register for Zoom webinar access at the link.

What do economics and science fiction have in common? Much in the way economists forecast the results of social and economic structures, science-fiction writers envision future civilizations, both utopian and dystopian, through systematic world-building. Paul Krugman, distinguished professor of economics at the CUNY Graduate Center, joins in a conversation about the connection between the social sciences and fantasy fiction, and how they often inspire each other. Featuring: Ada Palmer, author of the Terra Ignota series and associate professor of history at the University of Chicago; Jo Walton, whose many books include Tooth and Claw, Ha’Penney, and the recent Or What You Will; and others.

(6) FRAMING TOOL. Maybe an algorithm will help make that blank screen less empty: “New tool could help authors bust writer’s block in novel-length works” reports Penn State News.

… Researchers at the Penn State College of Information Sciences and Technology recently introduced a new technology that forecasts the future development of an ongoing written story. In their approach, researchers first characterize the narrative world using over 1,000 different “semantic frames,” where each frame represents a cluster of concepts and related knowledge. A predictive algorithm then looks at the preceding story and predicts the semantic frames that might occur in the next 10, 100, or even 1,000 sentences in an ongoing story….

The researchers’ framework, called semantic frame forecast, breaks a long narrative down into a sequence of text blocks with each containing a fixed number of sentences. The frequency of the occurrence of each semantic frame is then calculated. Then, the text is converted to a vector — numerical data understood by a machine — where each dimension denotes the frequency of one frame. It is then computed to quantify the number of times a semantic frame appears and signifies its importance. Finally, the model inputs a fixed number of text blocks and predicts the semantic frame for the forthcoming block.

…Authors could use the tool by feeding a part of their already-written text into the system to generate a set of word clouds with suggested nouns, verbs and adjectives to inspire them when crafting the next part of their story.

(7) MEMORY LANE.

  • 1979 – Forty-two years ago on this date, Wonder Woman put away her lasso for the last time as her series came to end after three seasons. The show’s first season aired under the name of Wonder Woman on ABC and is set in the 1940s, during World War II. The last two seasons aired on CBS and was set in the then-current day late Seventies, with the title changed to The New Adventures of Wonder Woman. It starred Lynda Carter as Wonder Woman / Diana Prince and Lyle Waggoner as Steve Trevor Sr. There would be fifty-nine episodes and a movie before it ended. Currently you can find it on HBO Max along with everything Wonder Woman that Warner Media has done. Audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes currently give it an excellent eighty percent rating.

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born September 11, 1934 — Ian Abercrombie. He played a most excellent and proper Alfred Pennyworth on the terribly well done Birds of Prey, a certain Professor Crumbs in Wizards of Waverly Place, he was Wiseman in Army of Darkness andvoiced Palpatine in Star Wars: The Clone Wars. (Died 2012.)
  • Born September 11, 1940 — Brian De Palma, 81. Though not a lot of genre work, he has done some significant work including Carrie. Other films he’s done of interest to us are The Fury which most likely you’ve never heard of, and the first Mission: Impossible film along with Mission to Mars. Not genre, but I find it fascinating that he directed Bruce Springsteen’s Dancing in the Dark video which has a genre connection as actress Courtney Cox would be in the Misfits of Science series and the Scream horror franchise as well.
  • Born September 11, 1941 — Kirby McCauley. Literary agent and editor who represented authors such as Stephen King, George R.R. Martin and Roger Zelazny. And McCauley chaired the first World Fantasy Convention, an event he conceived with T. E. D. Klein and several others. As Editor, his works include Night Chills: Stories of Suspense, FrightsFrights 2, and Night Chills. (Died 2014.)
  • Born September 11, 1948 — Michael Sacks, 73. He’s best remembered as Billy Pilgrim in Slaughterhouse Five. Given how short his film career was, as it lasted but little over a decade, that’s no surprise. His only other genre role was as Jeff in The Amityville Horror. He’s now in the financial services sector. 
  • Born September 11, 1951 — Michael Goodwin, 69. Ahhh, Alan Dean Foster’s Commonwealth series. I know that I’ve read at least a half dozen of the novels in that series and really enjoyed them, so it doesn’t surprise that someone wrote a guide to it which is how we have Goodwin’s (with the assistance of co-writer Robert Teague) A Guide to the Commonwealth: The Official Guide to Alan Dean Foster’s Humanx Commonwealth Universe. Unfortunately like so many of these guides, it was done once part way through the series and never updated. 
  • Born September 11, 1952 — Sharon Lee, 69. She is the co-author with Steve Miller of the Liaden universe novels and stories which are quite excellent reading with the latest being Neogenesis. They won Edward E. Smith Memorial Award for significant contribution to SF in the spirit of the writer E.E. “Doc” Smith, and they won The Golden Duck, the Hal Clement Young Adult Award, for their Balance of Trade novel.  They are deeply stocked at the usual digital suspects.
  • Born September 11, 1958 — Roxann Dawson, 63. Best remembered for being B’Elanna Torres on Voyager. She’s also a published genre author having written the Tenebrea trilogy with Daniel Graham. This space opera series is available from the usual digital suspects. She’s got two genre film creds, Angela Rooker in Darkman III: Die Darkman Die, and Elizabeth Summerlee in the 1998 version of The Lost World. She’s the voice of The Repair Station computer on the “Dead Stop” episode of Enterprise. Oh and she popped up once on the Seven Days series. She’s long since retired from acting. 
  • Born September 11, 1965 — Cat Sparks, 56. Winner of an astounding fourteen Ditmar Awards for writing, editing and artwork, her most recent was in 2019 when she garnered one for “The 21st Century Catastrophe: Hyper-capitalism and Severe Climate Change in Science Fiction.” She has just one published novel to date, Lotus Blue, though there’s an unpublished one, Effigy, listed at ISFDB. She has an amazing amount of short stories all of which are quite stellar. Lotus Blue and The Bride Price collection are both available at the usual digital suspects. (CE) 

(9) NEAR TO THE MADDING CROWD. The DickHeads Podcast – so-called for their interest in Philip K. Dick – makes a side excursion to discuss someone who once gave an opinion about a PKD story: “Judith Merril Roundtable”.

Dick Adjacent is back. And it’s a good one too. The story goes that after David finished reading some of Judith Merril’s stories, he found a scathing review she wrote of PKD’s story Roog, and with that connection made, it seemed only appropriate to gather a panel of experts together and discuss her place in the science fiction universe. Considered a feminist force, she had to bully her way through a male-dominated business to make her voice heard. Incredible person. Incredible story. And a truly accredited panel. So listen in on David, Lisa Yazek, Gideon Marcus, Ritchie Calvin, and Kathryn Heffner as they discuss the legacy of Judith Merril.

(10) FLICKS BY THE BRIDGE. The Brooklyn SciFi Film Festival is back for 2021 with 160 sff films from 18 countries. All film selections will be available to stream online September 20-26 with live, in-person screenings to be held in Brooklyn at the Wythe Hotel Screening Room on September 25. Tickets available here. Special recognition in eight categories will be awarded by a panel of jurors and industry professionals on September 25.

This year, the BSFFF will feature all-new exclusive online events, screening parties, and filmmaker commentary. Another addition is the “The Future Sounds of Brooklyn,” which is a compilation of SciFi-inspired music from musicians across the globe. The popular  The Sixth Borough, a curated, BSFFF-developed series, which presents three fantastic science fiction short films united by a common theme each day of the festival, will return for the second year.

(11) A DIFFERENT WAY. Sebastien de Castell’s new YA fantasy Way Of The Argosi is pitched as “The Alchemist meets The Three Musketeers — with card tricks.”

A merciless band of mages murdered her parents, massacred her tribe and branded her with mystical sigils that left her a reviled outcast. They should have killed her instead.

Stealing, swindling, and gambling with her own life just to survive, Ferius will risk anything to avenge herself on the zealous young mage who haunts her every waking hour. But then she meets the incomparable Durral Brown, a wandering philosopher gifted in the arts of violence who instead overcomes his opponents with shrewdness and compassion. Does this charismatic and infuriating man hold the key to defeating her enemies, or will he lead her down a path that will destroy her very soul?

Through this outstanding tale of swashbuckling action, magical intrigue and dazzling wit, follow Ferius along the Way of the Argosi and enter a world of magic and mystery unlike any other.

(12) SAY AGAIN? [Item by David Doering.] Just the thing for the WSFS Business Meeting:

— Which the US Navy is also working on: “A New Navy Weapon Actually Stops You From Talking”. Like having that annoying kid who keeps repeating everything you say…on-demand!

The U.S. Navy has successfully invented a special electronic device that is designed to stop people from talking. A form of non-lethal weapon, the new electronic device effectively repeats a speaker’s own voice back at them, and only them, while they attempt to talk. 

It was developed, and patented back in 2019 but has only recently been discovered, according to a report by the New Scientist

The main idea of the weapon is to disorientate a target so much that they will be unable to communicate effectively with other people. 

Called acoustic hailing and disruption (AHAD), the weapon is able to record speech and instantly broadcast it at a target in milliseconds. Much like an annoying sibling, this action will disrupt the target’s concentration, and, in theory, discourage them from continuing to speak. …

(13) VIDEO OF THE DAY. First Fandom Experience tells “The Tale of Aubrey MacDermott”, who claimed to be the first active sff fan.

Aubrey McDermott was born in 1909 and grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area and claims to be the first active science-fiction fan. We’ll let Aubrey tell his own story through a letter that he sent to Andrew Porter around 1990…

[Thanks to Andrew Porter, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, Cora Buhlert, Denny Lien, Todd Mason, Michael Toman, John King Tarpinian, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]

Pixel Scroll 10/12/20 Petronius Tiberius Tirebiter

(1) ASU CSI PODCAST. The initial episode of the second season of The Imagination Desk podcast from the Center for Science and the Imagination at Arizona State University is live now, featuring an interview with Ytasha Womack, author of the book Afrofuturism: The World of Black Sci-Fi and Fantasy Culture. The next episode will be with sff author and editor Troy L. Wiggins

The Imagination Desk is a series of interviews with authors, scholars, and technologists about how we can harness creativity and imaginative thinking to inspire new work and build better futures. As this long, strange year wanes, we’re launching new set of podcast episodes featuring deep conversations with fascinating collaborators to think about ways we can move forward together.

For the first installment of Season 2, we sat down with Ytasha L. Womack. Ytasha is a Chicago-based filmmaker, dancer, fiction writer, scholar, and the author of the 2013 book Afrofuturism: The World of Black Sci-Fi and Fantasy Culture. In this chat, CSI’s Joey Eschrich and Ytasha discuss how culture, art, and storytelling help us to understand the complexity of Black life in the present, as well as transformative prospects for the future.

This conversation with Ytasha is part of our observance of Black Speculative Fiction Month, which takes place every October. Started by authors Balogun Ojetade and Milton Davis, Black Speculative Fiction Month honors the role that Black people have played in shaping the culture of speculative fiction and charting the course toward vibrant and equitable futures. We’ll continue to explore these themes in future events and upcoming episodes of The Imagination Desk. Follow along on our website and subscribe to the show on SpotifyApple Podcasts, or RadioPublic.

(2) SHOSHANA EDWARDS Q&A. Conducted by Cat Rambo:

I interviewed Shoshana Edwards, author of Death Lives in the Water: A Harper’s Landing Story from Ring of Fire Press and A Roman Wilderness of Pain. We talk about her writing, neurolinguistics, and current political rhetoric. Shoshana Edwards was born in rural Oregon, attended Portland State University and California State University, Los Angeles. She later earned advanced degrees in English and Rhetoric. Now retired, she lives near Portland, Oregon where she continues to write.

(3) ADA PALMER’S EXOTERRA GAME CRITICIZED. Ashlyn Sparrow’s op-ed “A Game that Threatens Student Intellectual Property”, in the Chicago Maroon, the independent newspaper of the University of Chicago, contends “Ada Palmer’s ExoTerra game has colonial themes and undermines students’ creative freedom.”

During the 2020 fall quarter, Ada Palmer (Associate Professor of History at the University of Chicago) launched ExoTerra. The WordPress website for this project describes ExoTerra as “an online collaborative research role-playing game (RPG) community, in which students from all disciplines, from physics to literature, pool their expertise to design a new world.” The game incorporates students via several university courses, including “Self, Culture, and Society 1,” “America in World Civilization I,” and “Europe’s Intellectual Transformations.” What appears like a well-intentioned pedagogical experiment, however, turns out to make lazy narrative choices and, more importantly, undermines the creative labor and intellectual property of University of Chicago undergraduate students.

ExoTerra is a game where “participating students play the crew of a space colony ship traveling from Earth to a newly-terraformed exoplanet.” Sparrow thinks narratives should focus on improving the Earth.

… But as I looked closer at ExoTerra and began to discuss it with colleagues, I grew increasingly concerned. Some of my initial concerns had to do with a narrative frame that focuses on a colonization narrative at a historical moment when Black and Brown people continue to be exploited in the aftermath of global empire in so many ways. In focusing on the creation of a “new civilization,” this game rests on a colonization and Earth escape fantasy that is being celebrated by tech billionaires such as Elon Musk. Rather than improving the Earth, such a narrative takes us further from facing the ills of climate change, unprecedented income inequality, systemic racism, and global pandemic. This is problematic even at an allegorical level or via the cognitive estrangement characteristic of the science fiction genre. There are so many better narrative arcs and fresher sub-genres from which to choose, especially in our current world.

Sparrow points out that participants sign away to Palmer the rights to what they create in the game.

…Palmer (who is also a published science fiction novelist) reserves the right to take any intellectual property that students might contribute to this allegedly collective storytelling game and use it for her own purposes, including fiction she publishes in the future. To be clear, this is not a video game that students play. It is instead a roleplaying and world building game that they are creating together. Yet the material benefits of this shared effort return to a single person: Ada Palmer.

(4) WHAT SPACE LETS CREATORS DO. Dwayne Day reviews the second season of For All Mankind at The Space Review. “In the paler moonlight: the future’s past in ‘For All Mankind’”.

…Setting a program in the near future restricts the writers and what they can do. In contrast, as Hale noted, setting a science fiction show in the far future (or, alternatively, “a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away”) can free up the writers from having to reference—and be limited by—historical or current events that the audience is familiar with. Setting a story in a far distant future can be liberating in terms of storytelling. But it also restricts the writers’ ability to use the show to make social commentary, and their ability to use familiar historical and cultural reference points in their storytelling.

“For All Mankind” has a different set of challenges in terms of storytelling—it is both about our past, and our future, while also inevitably being a commentary about the present. The show’s setting in the 1960s and, for season two, the 1980s, represents a time decades in our past, but still within the living memory of many people. Yet the stories depict a space program that never happened, but still might happen in some way. The Jamestown lunar base in the show is not that different from concepts NASA and its contractors are currently studying. Perhaps in the coming decades, NASA could build something that looks a lot like Jamestown….

(5) WALT WILLIS’ TASFIC SPEECH. Fanac.org announced on FB that thanks to the fan history researches of Rob Hansen in Vince Clarke’s papers, they can present the final draft typescript of Walt Willis’s speech at the 1952 Worldcon, which Willis was able to attend because of the “WAW with the Crew in ’52” fan fund started by Shelby Vick. Here is Joe Siclari’s introduction to the speech:

Although Walt Willis was prolific, the quality of his writing remained very high because he was diligent. In several articles, Walt Willis described some of his writing procedures. Despite what so many people thought was his facile and relaxed style, he worried over pieces and rewrote them. See Warhoon 12, p 22.

Walt’s quality writing was why Shelby Vick created the first really successful campaign to bring a foreign fan to a US Worldcon, “WAW with the Crew in ’52”. You can imagine the excitement when this was successful. You might also imagine the stress when Walt realized that he would have to speak at the TASFiC/Chicon II.

So it seems he wrote a speech beforehand. Not only did he work on it in advance and rewrite and edit it, but it seems he sent it to at least one friend. During his research into Vince Clarke’s papers, Rob Hansen discovered this presentation that you are about to read. It’s probably the closest we will get to what Walt Willis said at the TASFiC. As Rob indicated in a note: “What *isn’t* included, obviously, is whatever off-the-cuff thanks he added after he’d finished reading.”

Not seen in close to 70 years, here is what Rob has called: “The Harp Speaks”

(6) MEDIA ANNIVERSARY.

  • 1987 — Thirty-three years ago, the Mythopoeic Award for Adult Novel went to Peter Beagle‘s The Folk of the Air which had been published that year by Ballantine Del Rey. The main character is Joe Farrell, who first appeared as the hero of a short story called “Lila the Werewolf”, making a sequel of sorts to that story. The League for Archaic Pleasures, here described as a group dedicated to the pleasures of the medieval period, is very obviously modelled after the SCA. Thirteen years later, Tamsin would garner him a second Mythopoeic Award, and The New Voices of Fantasy anthology three years ago would get him his third. He also received their Lifetime Achievement Award as well. 

(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]

  • Born October 12, 1904 Lester Dent. Pulp-fiction author who was best known as the creator and main author of the series of novels chronicling Doc Savage. Of the one hundred and eighty-one Doc Savage novels published by Street and Smith, one hundred and seventy-nine were credited to Kenneth Robeson; and all but twenty were written by Dent. (Died 1959.) (CE)
  • Born October 12, 1905 – William Kolliker.  Moved from Switzerland to New York at 16.  Illustrated for newspapers e.g. NY AmericanBaltimore News & American.  Art director & editor of The American Weekly 25 years.  Moved to Texas, resigned from business, taught at El Paso Museum of Art; Conquistador Award from El Paso 1963.  A hundred twenty interiors for us.  Here is an interior for “The Weapon Shop” (Astounding, Dec 42).  Here is one for “Mimsy Were the Borogoves”.  Here is one for “The Sorcerer of Rhiannon”.  Here is a 1979 etching “The Graduate”.  Here is a mid-1970s abstract landscape.   (Died 1995) [JH]
  • Born October 12, 1943 – Daphne Patai, Ph.D., 77.  Feminist dissenter, see e.g. What Price Utopia? (2008); Oral History, Feminism, and Politics (2010, in Portuguese).  Outstanding to us for discovering that the author of Swastika Night, published under a pseudonym 1930, was Englishwoman Katherine Burdekin.  [JH]
  • Born October 12, 1949 – Barclay Shaw, 71.  A hundred twenty covers, thirty interiors.  Here is The Glass Teathere is I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream.  Here is The Shockwave Rider.  Here is The Ringworld Throne.  Here is the Mar 01 F&SF.  Chesley for three-dimensional Wonderland.  Artbooks The Art of Barclay ShawElectric Dreams.  Website here (includes 3D animation).  [JH]
  • Born October 12, 1951 – Taral Wayne, 69.  Fanartist, pro artist, fanwriter.  Many covers and interiors for fanzines; here is Torus 2; here is File 770 116 (PDF); see more in the cover gallery at his efanzines.com page.  Here is his logograph for IguanaCon II the 36th Worldcon; Fan Guest of Honor at Anticipation the 67th.  Co-founded Ditto (fanziners’ convention, named for a brand of spirit-duplicator copying machine); Special Guest at Ditto 8.  Toastmaster at Corflu 4 (fanziners’ con, named for mimeograph correction fluid).  CUFF (Canadian Unity Fan Fund) delegate; his CUFF history here.  Numismatist.  Collections Old ToysThe Great White Zine.  Eleven-time Hugo finalist.  FAAn (Fan Activity Achievement) award.  Rotsler Award.  [JH]
  • Born October 12, 1956 Storm Constantine, 63. Writer with her longest-running series being the Wraeththu Universe which has at least four separate series within all of which are known for their themes of alternative sexuality and gender. She has also written a number of non-fiction (I think they are) works such as Sekhem Heka: A Natural Healing and Self Development System and The Grimoire of Deharan Magick: Kaimana. (CE) 
  • Born October 12, 1961 – Susan Power, 59.  Enrolled member of the Standing Rock Tribe (Dakota).  Law degree from Harvard.  Hemingway/PEN Award for first novel The Grass Dancer (ours); several more novels; shorter fiction in The Atlantic MonthlyParis ReviewPloughsharesStory, a dozen for us in collection Roofwalker.  Voices from the Gaps interview with her here (PDF).  [JH]
  • Born October 12, 1965 Dan Abnett, 55. His earlier work was actually on Doctor Who Magazine,  but I’ll single out his co-writing Guardians of the Galaxy #1–6 with Andy Lanning, The Authority: Rule Britannia and his Border Princes novel he did in the Tirchworch universe as great looks at him as a writer. (CE) 
  • Born October 12, 1966 Sandra McDonald, 54. Author of some sixty genre short stories, some of which are collected in Diana Comet and Other Improbable Stories (which won a Lambda Award for LGBT SF, Fantasy and Horror Works) and Lovely Little Planet: Stories of the Apocalypse.  Outback Stars is her space opera-ish trilogy. (CE)
  • Born October 12, 1968 Hugh Jackman, 52. Obviously Wolverine in the Marvel film franchise. He’s also been the lead character in Van Helsing as well as voicing him in the animated prequel Van Helsing: The London Assignment. One of his most charming roles was voicing The Easter Bunny in The Rise of The Guardians. And he played Robert Angier in The Prestige based off the World Fantasy Award winning novel written by the real Christopher Priest. (CE)
  • Born October 12, 1974 Kate Beahan, 46. Her best remembered role is as Sister Willow Woodward in the remake of The Wicker Man. In the same year, she was Michell in The Return, a horror film. She showed up on Farscape as Hubero in “Fractures”, and on Lucifer as Justine Doble in “All About Her”. (CE) 
  • Born October 12, 1992 – Melanie Vogltanz, 28.  Austrian author and translator.  European SF Society Encouragement Award, 2016; shortlisted for several prizes e.g. Kurd Laßwitz.  Five novels, plus six in a Black Blood series; shorter stories collected in On Dark Wings (in German).  I have not yet found translations into English.  [JH]

(8) COMICS SECTION.

(9) WHAT CHILD IS THIS. Disney released posters for season 2 of The Mandalorian, including a sad Baby Yoda!

(10) DISNEY DISAPPOINTS EURO MOVIE HOUSES. Naman Ramachandran, in the Variety story “Disney’s ‘Soul’ Decision Upsets European Cinemas” says the European trade association the International Union of Cinemas is mad at Disney because they say they operate safe cinemas and would love to have exhibited Soul.

…“There is compelling evidence that where audiences have returned, they have found the experience both safe and enjoyable,” the UNIC statement said. “But it is also clear that it is the release of new films that will make all the difference in encouraging people back to the big screen.”

“Indeed, across Europe, many cinemas have — since re-opening successfully — screened countless local releases, underlining that first-run titles are now more important than ever.”

(11) SAINTHOOD FOR J.R.R.? Daniel Cote Davis, a promoter of J.R.R. Tolkien Cause for Canonization, will speak in New Zealand on October 31 reports the Tolkien sainthood Facebook group. (See more information about the movement in “Tolkien: An Unexpected Sainthood”.)

Should J.R.R. Tolkien be made a Saint? In this film we explore the Catholic virtue of one of England’s most renowned authors and look beyond the trolls and goblins at what the Lord of the Rings is really trying to say.

(12) IT ALL GOES AROUND. CrowdScience answers the question “Why do planets spin?” in an episode available at the BBC Sounds archive.

Crowdscience solves a range of listeners’ cosmic mysteries, from the reason we only ever see one side of the moon, to why planets spin, and discover the answer can be found in the formation of the solar system. We talk to astronomer Dr Carolin Crawford to understand how stars are made, and investigate the art of astronomy with journalist Jo Marchant, hearing how the ancient Greeks came up with a zodiac long before the invention of a telescope, revealing an intimate relationship between humans and the night sky.

(13) WOMEN OF SFF IN THE SIXTIES. Fanac.org has posted to its YouTube channel a recording from Boskone 6 in 1969, “The Feminine Viewpoint,” moderated by Hal Clement, with Anne McCaffrey, Marion Zimmer Bradley, and Larry Niven. NESFA and Rick Kovalcik provided the recording.

Moderated by Hal Clement, this audio recording (illustrated with dozens of images) is a 1960s view of feminism and the female viewpoint in SF by two of SF’s most successful women writers of the day. It is uncomfortable in parts by today’s standards, with comments like “you can’t be a feminist if you like being a woman”, and remarks about fanzines that discount female writers solely because of their sex. Hal Clement is the neutral moderator, and Larry Niven provides a male perspective. This panel is dominated by MZB and Anne McCaffrey, who express their views on women in the field, on the differences in fiction written by woman and men, and on the disadvantages attendant on being a female science fiction writer. Remember, Anne McCaffrey was born in 1926 and MZB in 1930. Their opinions were shaped by the times. It’s a fascinating snapshot of the times.

The audio recording is accompanied by contemporary photos, including one of Walter Breen and MZB, just so you know.

[Thanks to JJ, Cat Eldridge, John King Tarpinian, Michael Toman, Martin Morse Wooster, John Hertz, Mike Kennedy, Joey Eschrich, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]

Pixel Scroll 7/7/20 I Know This Defies The Law Of Pixel Scrolling, But I Never Studied Law

(1) CLARKE AWARD GOES GREEN. Well, the reverse idea worked when Lucky Strike went to war… The Clarke Award has unveiled a logo redesign on Twitter via @clarkeaward.

(2) PRATCHETT’S GENESIS. “Final Terry Pratchett stories to be published in September” reports The Guardian. The stories in The Time-travelling Caveman were written for newspapers in the Sixties and Seventies. One of them, “The Tropnecian Invasion of Great Britain,” appears at the end of the article.

The final collection of early stories from the late Terry Pratchett, written while the Discworld creator was a young reporter, will be published in September. The tales in The Time-travelling Caveman, many of them never released in book form before, range from a steam-powered rocket’s flight to Mars to a Welsh shepherd’s discovery of the resting place of King Arthur. “Bedwyr was the handsomest of all the shepherds, and his dog, Bedwetter, the finest sheepdog in all Wales,” writes the young Pratchett, with typical flourish….

(3) SFF NOT QUITE IN TRANSLATION. Ann Leckie wryly announced she is —

(4) THE LID IS UP. Today Camestros Felapton advocates for another finalist in “Hugo Fan Writer: Why you should vote for…Alasdair Stuart”.

… Stuart manages very well to shift the distance in his writing from the observational to the personal. Character is, I’d contend, a underestimated aspect of fan-writing. Yes, fan-writing does cover the kind of community journalism style writing, as well as descriptive reviews (both valuable – I’m not knocking them) but fan-writers are by title fans and it is the personal engagement with fandom and stories that drives the world of fan-writing. You can’t genuinely know people from what they write but good fan-writing should, over the course of many examples, give a sense of a person and a perspective. I think it is something that Alasdair Stuart does very well. I’ve never met him (and it’s unlikely I will anytime soon) but his writing conveys character in a way that is very personally engaging. Yes, yes, that’s an illusion of sorts but that illusion is something I enjoy in good writing.

(5) TWO TOPICS WITH ADA PALMER. In “Uncanny Censorship Essay & Writing POV” on Ex Urbe, Ada Palmer discusses her article in Uncanny Magazine about censorship and summarizes a panel she was on at Balticon about writing point-of-view in fiction.

…Black Lives Matter has momentum now around the world, a call for change that can’t be silenced; the hate it battles also has momentum, and amid their clash another wave is gaining momentum, as it does in every information revolution: the wave of those in power (politicians, corporations, alarmed elites) wanting to silence the uncomfortable voices empowered by the new medium.  We need to fight this battle too, a battle to find a balance between protecting the new ability of radical voices to speak while also protecting against hate speech, misinformation, and other forms of communication toxic to peace and democracy.  As I explain in my essay, genre fiction, we who read it, we who write it, have a lot of power to affect the battle over censorship.  These days are hard; as someone both disabled and immunocompromised I can’t go join the protests in the streets, not without both endangering fellow protesters by getting in their way, and the risk of this one moment of resistance destroying my ability to be here helping with the next one, and the next.  But I can help on the home front as it were, working to protect the tools of free expression which those out on the streets depend on every minute, every protest, every video exposing cruel realities.  Everything we do to strengthen speech and battle censorship protects our best tool, not just for this resistance, but for the next one, and the next….

The second section of the post, about writing POV begins:

Question: What I don’t get is why they tell new writers to not have multiple POVs in a novel. I mean, if the story calls for it, and you’re clear on the change, why not?

Jo Walton: Minimizing POVs is good discipline because it’s very easy to get sloppy. So it’s one of those things that’s good advice when you’re starting out, but not a law.

Ada Palmer: I agree that minimizing POVs is often wise.  Whenever I find myself wanting a scene to be in a different POV I think really hard about it. Sometimes it’s the right answer, but the fail condition is that you have too many POVs and the reader expects each of them to have follow-through and they don’t….

(6) HAVE YOU READ THESE? Goodreads has posted “The 100 Most Popular Sci-Fi Books on Goodreads”. I’ve read 54 of them – much better than I usually do with book lists, but barely over 50% even so.

Dystopias, alien invasions, regenerated dinosaurs, space operas, multiverses, and more, the realm of science fiction takes readers out of this world to tackle all-too-real issues, including oppression, bigotry, censorship, and the horrors of war. To celebrate the most inventive of genres, we’re exploring readers’ 100 most popular science fiction novels of all time on Goodreads.

As all good sci-fi readers know, the science behind the story is half the fun. To create our list, we ran the data to reveal the most reviewed books on our site. Additionally, each title needed at least a 3.5-star rating from your fellow readers to join this list. And, since science fiction is known for its continuing voyages, in the case of multiple titles from the same series, we chose the one with the most reviews.

Here are the top science fiction novels on Goodreads, listed from 1 to 100. We hope you discover a book or two you’ll want to read in this lineup, whether it’s a classic of the genre or one of the newer entries to sci-fi.

The top four books on the list are:

(7) PANTHER’S PRIEST. [Item by Olav Rokne.] One of the most important comic creators you may never have heard interviewed dropped in to Marvel creative director Joe Quesada’s YouTube channel. The somewhat reclusive and iconoclastic Christopher Priest opened up about his creative process with regards to Black Panther, as well as some of the challenges he faced as the first African American to be a full-time writer in mainstream comic books. For the record, there would never have been a Black Panther movie without Christopher Priest’s stellar run on the book. 

(8) MEDIA ANNIVERSARY.

July 1988 — Bruce Sterling’s Islands in The Net was published by Arbor House, an imprint of William Morrow. This hardcover edition went for $18.95 and was 394 pages in length. It would win the John W. Campbell Memorial Award for Best Science Fiction Novel. It was nominated for Hugo, Ditmar and Locus Awards that same year. It would lose out to C. J. Cherryh’s Cyteen at Noreascon 3. 

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]

  • Born July 7, 1851 – Kate Prichard.  With her son Hesketh, whom she outlived, a dozen pioneering stories of Flaxman Low, possibly the first psychic detective in literature.  Six are at Project Gutenberg Australia (as by E. & H. Heron, pseudonyms used by the authors) here.  (Died 1935) [JH]
  • Born July 7, 1907 Robert A. Heinlein. I find RAH to be a complicated writer when it comes to assessing him. Is Starship Troopers a fascist novel? Is The Number of The Beast as bad as it seems? (Yes.) What do I really like by him?  The Cat Who Walks Through Walls (though I despise its sequel To Sail Beyond the Sunset), The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress and The Rolling Stones. Lots of his short fiction such as as “…All You Zombies“ is just amazing.  And only he knows why he wrote Time Enough for Love. John has an interesting take on him here. (Died 1988.) (CE)
  • Born July 7, 1919 Jon Pertwee. The Third Doctor and one that I’ll admit I like a lot. He returned to the role of the Doctor in The Five Doctors and the charity special Dimensions in Time for Children in Need. He also portrayed the Doctor in the stage play Doctor Who – The Ultimate Adventure.  After a four-year run there, he was the lead on Worzel Gummidge where he was, errr, a scarecrow. And I must note that one of his first roles was as The Judge in the film of Toad of Toad Hall by A. A. Milne. (Died 1996.) (CE)
  • Born July 7, 1926 – Tom Beecham.  Five dozen interiors for Amazing, FantasticFutureGalaxyIfSF Quarterly.  Here is his illustration for “A Saucer of Loneliness”.  Here, “Weak on Square Roots”.  Here is a spaceship cover for Fury magazine.  Later well-known for Westerns, wildlife in landscape; President, Soc. American Historical Artists; 360 paintings.  (Died 2000) [JH]
  • Born July 7, 1948 – Paul Doherty, Ph.D.  Fifty science columns in The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction with noted student of ’Pataphysics and co-founder of the Tiptree Award (as it then was) Pat Murphy.  Popped corn in David Letterman’s hand with a Van deGraaff generator.  Rock climber who climbed the face of El Capitan.  Taught with the Exploratorium, also the Science Circle which established a Paul Doherty educators’ award.  Named Best Science Demonstrator, World Congress of Museums, 1996.  His Exploratorium Teacher Institute Website is here.  (Died 2017) [JH]
  • Born July 7, 1959 Billy Campbell, 61. There are some films so good in my memory that even the Suck Fairy can’t spoil them and The Rocketeer in which he played stunt pilot Cliff Secord is one of them. By the way, IDW published a hardcover edition called Dave Stevens’ The Rocketeer: The Complete Adventures and Amazon has it for a mere twenty bucks! (CE)
  • Born July 7, 1962 Akiva J. Goldsman, 58. Screenwriter whose most notable accomplishment was that he wrote a dozen episodes of Fringe; he also wrote the screenplays for Batman Forever and its sequel Batman & RobinI, RobotI Am LegendPractical MagicWinter’s Tale (his first directing gig) and Lost in Space. (CE)
  • Born July 7, 1964 – Kôsuke Fujishima, 56.  Famous for Oh, My Goddess! manga, with video animation, games, and like that; Kodansha Manga Award.  Of course college sophomore Keiichi Morisato calls a wrong number and reaches the Goddess Help Line.  Of course when a Norn answers and says KM gets one wish, KM thinks it’s a practical joke and tells Verthandi (which Fujishima renders “Belldandy”, not too bad) KM wants her to stay with him forever.  They have to leave KM’s dormitory.  Today is the author’s fourth wedding anniversary; he married the famous 20-year-old cosplayer Nekomu Otogi on July 7, 2016 (or at least that’s when he confirmed it on Twitter).  [JH]
  • Born July 7, 1968 – Tricia Sullivan, 52.  A dozen novels, as many shorter stories.  Translated into French, German, Portuguese.  Clarke Award for Dreaming Into Smoke.  She says “Occupy Me [2016] … is the work that means the most to me….  I have a B.A. in Music … M.Sc. in Astrophysics…. working on a Ph.D…. machine learning in astronomy, which means coding most days.  I balance out this madness by talking to my vegetable garden, sometimes even as I eat bits of it.”  [JH]
  • Born July 7, 1980 – Elena Vizerskaya, 40.  Illustrator; she says “surrealist photographer”, which is true.  Here is her cover for Permeable Borders.  Here is Flying in the Heart of the Lafayette Escadrille (nominated for a Chesley); Brenda Cooper said “Get it in physical form, the cover is worth having.”  Here is Amaryllis.  Here is “Find new ways to change”.  Try this Website.  [JH]
  • Born July 7, 1987 V. E. Schwab, 33. I’m very pleased with her A Darker Shade of Magic which explores magicians in a parallel universe London. It’s part of her Shades of Magic series. Highly recommended. Her Cassidy Blake series is also good provided you’re a Potter fan because she makes a lot of references to that series. (CE)

(10) COMICS SECTION.

  • Death takes a holiday in Bizarro.
  • Despite the pandemic, Moderately Confused is off to see the Wizard.
  • Lio shows how to become a proper superhero.
  • And here’s some welcome news –

(11) PROTECTING COPYRIGHT. The SFWA Blog reports “Copyright Registration Rule Change Allows Flat Fee Registration of Short Textual Works Published Online”. (A complete explanation of the rule can be read here in the Federal Register.)

Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA) is extremely pleased that the U.S. Copyright Office has issued a new copyright registration rule that will allow authors to register up to fifty short textual works published online for a single flat fee. 

SFWA, along with the National Writers Union, Horror Writers Association, and American Society of Journalists and Authors, first requested the creation of such a group registration option in January 2017.  In 2018, a productive round table between authors’ groups and the Copyright Office was held, and subsequent comments from SFWA and other groups were fully integrated into the final rule. 

The rule, which takes effect on August 17, 2020, specifies that each work must be between fifty and 17,500 words in length, must have been published in the same 90-day period, and be written by the same single author or collaboration. For works that qualify, a single fee of $65 will cover the registration of up to fifty individual works…. 

(12) LEGO PORTRAITS. “Lego debuts new sets for the young at heart featuring Marilyn Monroe, The Beatles, Star Wars and Iron Man”CNN has photos.

Lego announced a new line of “Lego Art” — a higher-end building set geared towards adult fans.

The line, available for purchase September 1st, will launch with four themes: Andy Warhol’s Marilyn Monroe, Marvel Studios Iron Man, Star Wars “The Sith” and The Beatles.

The pieces, once they are completed, form beautiful mosaics worthy of permanent display.

(13) K/S. “How Slash Fiction Saved Star Trek” has a title with a clickbait claim that tends to overshadow the video’s nuanced account of early Trek fanhistory and about a strong facet of fannish interest in the show’s characters.

Slash fiction and fan fiction in general has always been a derided part of the fandom community. But without the pioneering efforts of many fan fiction and slash fiction writers, we wouldn’t have Star Trek or science fiction as we know it today! So let’s dive into the complex relationship between slash fiction and Star Trek.

(14) SILLY SEASON. “Doncaster baby owl webcam ‘banned by Facebook over sex and nudity rule'”.

Video of nesting baby owls was temporarily removed by Facebook for apparently breaking rules on nudity and sexual activity, the page’s owner said.

The live stream was set up by Graham Moss, who started sharing cute pictures of the owls in his Doncaster garden during the coronavirus lockdown.

He claimed his Brockholes Wildlife Diary’s (sic) page was blocked despite having no inappropriate content.

While the page has been reinstated Mr Moss has yet to receive an explanation.

Facebook has been contacted by the BBC for a comment.

(15) ROYALTY QUESTION. Marissa Doyle inquires “Have You Upped a Swan Lately?” at Book View Café. I must admit I have not. But I learned that because of the pandemic, neither has anybody else.

Swan Upping is the traditional census-taking of Mute Swans on the River Thames, wherein swans are rounded up, checked for bands or banded, and released. The king or queen of England, by ancient law and custom dating back to the middle ages, owns all unmarked swans in England. And since the twelfth century or so, the swans who live on the Thames have been counted and marked by the Royal Swan Upper to enforce that ownership (though two ancient groups, the Worshipful Company of Vintners and the equally Worshipful Company of Dyers also have some swan-related rights and participate as well.) Swans were once reckoned something of a delicacy, after all, and having one on your banquet table was something of a status symbol that the Crown thought ought to mostly belong to it.

(16) GET IN LINE. BBC tells how “Esa and Nasa line up satellites to measure Antarctic sea-ice”.

US and European scientists are about to get a unique view of polar ice as their respective space agencies line up two satellites in the sky.

Authorisation was given on Tuesday for Europe’s Cryosat-2 spacecraft to raise its orbit by just under one kilometre.

This will hugely increase the number of coincident observations it can make with the Americans’ Icesat-2 mission.

One outcome from this new strategy will be the first ever reliable maps of Antarctic sea-ice thickness.

Currently, the floes in the far south befuddle efforts to measure their vertical dimension.

Heavy snow can pile on top of the floating ice, hiding its true thickness. Indeed, significant loading can even push Antarctic sea-ice under the water.

But researchers believe the different instruments on the two satellites working in tandem can help them tease apart this complexity.

Nasa’s Icesat-2, which orbits the globe at about 500km in altitude, uses a laser to measure the distance to the Earth’s surface – and hence the height of objects. This light beam reflects directly off the top of the snow.

Esa’s Cryosat-2, on the other hand, at around 720km in altitude, uses radar as its height tool, and this penetrates much more deeply into the snow cover before bouncing back.

(17) ALONG CAME JONES. In “Honest Trailers–Indiana Jones Trilogy” the Screen Junkies look at the first three Indiana Jones movies and conclude that Jones “isn’t just a terrible professor–he’s a terrible archeologist!”

[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, Chip Hitchcock, JJ, John Hertz, John King Tarpinian, Martin Morse Wooster, Mike Kennedy, Michael Toman, Darrah Chavey, Olav Rokne, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Jack Lint.]

Pixel Scroll 8/19/19 Click, Click, Click Went The Pixel, Post, Post, Post Went The Scroll

The Dublin 2019 juggernaut coasted slowly to a stop today. Here is a sampling of people’s farewell tweets.

(1) PROGRAMMING.

(2) RIBBONS.

(3) MEDALS.

(4) T-SHIRT.

(5) FEEDBACK SESSION.

(6) OOK OOK. Something from the HOAX daily newzine:

(7) CLOSING CEREMONIES.

(8) SLOW GETAWAY.

(9) COMPLETE AND UNINTERRUPTED. Ada Palmer, whose Campbell presenter speech was interrupted by absurdities appearing in the closed captioning behind her, has posted the text online: “2019 Campbell Speech + Refugee Charity Fundraiser”. This excerpt comes from the post’s introduction –

…I hope I find a video somewhere so I too can enjoy such disasters as “dog mechanism” for “dogmatic” and “Bored of the Rings and Cream of Thrown” for Lord of the Rings & Game of Thrones. More seriously, it was a great honor to speak again at this year’s Worldcon, and I couldn’t be more proud of Jeannette Ng‘s courageous acceptance speech, bringing attention to the crisis and violence happening right now in her home city of Hong Kong, and to the great responsibility we in the science fiction and fantasy community have to make sure that the theme of empire–which has numerous positive depictions in genre literature from space empires to the returns of kings–does not end up celebrating the dangerous, colonial, and autocratic faces of empire, and that as we explore empire in our work (including in my own work) we do so in ways which examine empire’s problems and advance versions of empire which reverse or rehabilitate it, and which affirm the greater values of free-determination, autonomy, and human dignity.

(10) GROWING UP. In an article for the September WIRED, “We Can Be Heroes: How the Nerds Are Reinventing Pop Culture”, Laurie Penny discusses how fandom–and, specifically, writing Harry Potter fan fiction–led her to a writing career, including stints as a writer for Joss Whedon’s HBO show “the Nevers” and “The Haunting of Bly Manor.”

But fandom also helped me meet people unlike myself, and that was just as important.  There comes a time in the life of very lonely, misunderstood, intelligent child of privilege when they must confront the fact that being intelligent, lonely, and misunderstood is not the worst thing that can befall a person, that some people have a great deal more to contend with on top of being an unsalvageable dweeb.  I was and remain a clueless Caucasian shut-in with a lot to learn, but that part of my education started when I began following fans and creators of color.  My first real friends who weren’t white lived thousands of miles away, and I knew them through jerky avatars and punnish screen names and an exhaustive knowledge of Tolkien lore.  I educated myself with the articles and books they linked to.  There were long, torturous flame wars.  I listened.  I took notes.”

(11) MORE ABOUT HUGO LOSERS PARTY. Marguerite Kenner pursued more information about why there were problems (Hugo finalists who couldn’t get in when they arrived). Thread starts here.

Ada Palmer also pointed out the effect on people with accessibility needs:

(12) ADMIRING UNCANNY. Their local newspaper covered the Hugo won by Lynne and Michael Thomas’ Uncanny Magazine in the Semiprozine category: “Urbana-based Uncanny Magazine lands another rocket at Hugo Awards”. Jim Meadows sent the link with a note: “Of course, you already know who the Hugo winners are, but I thought I’d pass along the local coverage from the Champaign-Urbana area, where the Thomases now live. Uncanny has received local coverage before, and I’m impressed by the degree of media support it gets in the area. I don’t think this would have happened to this degree a few decades ago, but even a print version of Uncanny would have been more difficult to do a few decades ago.” The article appeared on the website of the (Champaign, IL) News-Gazette on Sunday evening, and appeared on the front page (below the fold) of the paper’s print edition on Monday morning.

(13) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born August 19, 1807 Jane C. Loudon. A very early SF writer as her novel, The Mummy!: A Tale of the Twenty-Second Century, was published in 1827. If you’d like to read it, the Internet Archive has it available. (Died 1858.)
  • Born August 19, 1893 Hans Waldemar Wessolowski. An artist best remembered for his cover art for pulp magazines like Amazing Stories, Astounding Stories, Clues and Strange Tales. Wesso was the name most commonly cited wherever his art is given credit. Wesso painted all 34 covers of the Clayton Magazines Astounding Stories from January 1930 to March 1933.  (Died 1947.)
  • Born August 19, 1921 Gene Roddenberry. Oh, you know who he is. But did you know he wrote a lot of scripts for Have Gun – Will Travel? Indeed, his script for the show, “Helen of Abajinian” would win the Writer’s Guild of America award for Best Teleplay in 1958. (Died 1991.)
  • Born August 19, 1950 Mary Doria Russell, 69. The Sparrow series, The Sparrow and its sequel Children of God, are awesome. The Sparrow won the Arthur C. Clarke, BSFA, and Tiptree Awards, and it was the reason she won the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer. 
  • Born August 19, 1950 Jill St. John, 69. She’s best remembered as Tiffany Case, the Bond girl in  Diamonds Are Forever. She was the first American to play a Bond girl. She shows in The Batman in “Smack in the Middle” and “Hi Diddle Riddle” as Molly. And she played Jennifer Holmes in the 1960 film version of The Lost World. Fascinatingly, she’s an uncredited  dancer on Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In
  • Born August 19, 1952 Jonathan Frakes, 67. Best known for his portrayal of Commander William T. Riker in  Next Gen though I’m fond of his voicing David Xanatos on the Gargoyles series. Interesting bit of trivia: For a time in the Seventies, he worked for Marvel Comics at cons as Captain America.
  • Born August 19, 1988 Veronica Roth, 31. She’s best known for her Divergent trilogy, consisting of Divergent, Insurgent, and Allegiant; and also  Four: A Divergent Collection. The first two were made into films, a proposed series was cancelled.

(14) HIVES. LAist’s selections as “LA’s Coolest, Weirdest, Most Immersive Themed Bars” tilts heavily towards genre. For example —

Scum & Villainy

Theme: A Star Wars-inspired bar for geeks

Obi-Wan Kenobi promised a young Luke Skywalker that he would “never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy” than the Mos Eisley Spaceport. This Hollywood Boulevard bar does its best to top the cantina where Han shot first, complete with war room-style maps and customers milling about in their best First Order cosplay. It wouldn’t be accurate to say Scum & Villainy is only a Star Wars bar. All fandoms are welcome at weekly game nights, karaoke, trivia contests and occasional cosplay evenings. Leading up to the final season of Game of Thrones, it transformed into Fire & Ice Tavern, with a sad-faced Weirwood tree, an Iron Throne and Stark and Targaryen sigils. As for the menu, expect beer, themed cocktails and bar bites such as quesadillas, tots and chicken fingers, which were one of Greedo’s favorite snacks, as any real Star Wars fan knows.
6377 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood. 424-501-4229.

(15) LUNCHTIME, AND YOU’RE IT. A Yahoo! reporter shares “What it’s like to see a blinking, breathing ‘Jurassic World’ dinosaur up close” on the Jurassic World Live Tour.

It’s actually not the teeth that get your attention first. 

It’s the eyes.

The velociraptor’s yellow eyeballs don’t exactly look at you but through you, a soul-piercing kind of stare that suggests she’s wondering just how salty your skin tastes.

At least that’s how I feel when I’m stalked by one of the dinosaur puppets from the Jurassic World Live Tour, a traveling stage show that arrives in dozens of U.S. arenas starting Sept. 26 in Columbus, Ohio, and runs through 2020. 

My raptor encounter takes place in a nondescript building that looks like a dentist’s office and smells like freshly baked bread. The first clue that I’m in the right location (which is located next to a bakery): A sign on a door that reads “DINOSAUR CROSSING.” I walk inside, and it turns out to be a portal to the Jurassic era where dinosaurs roam.

(16) VERSUS TROLLS. NPR tells how “Trolled Online, Women In Politics Fight To Hold Big Tech Accountable In The U.K.”

Lisa Cameron is a member of the British Parliament. She’s also a victim, and survivor, of online trolls.

Cameron was new to politics in 2015, when she was elected in East Kilbride, Scotland. She’d been a clinical psychologist, a wife, a mom, and a trade union representative — the kind of political newcomer democracies want to run for office.

But the sludge of the Internet began to attack her — and not just for her policy stances. Her inbox, Facebook and Twitter accounts filled with insults about her appearance, rape fantasies, pictures of decapitated bodies, threats to her family, and anti-Semitic slurs (Cameron is Jewish).

Cameron’s #MeToo story — and those of her female colleagues in Parliament — has helped usher in a new era in the United Kingdom: digital assault is understood as a real threat, one that is pushing the government to hold tech giants accountable for their role as hosts to these attacks.

Cameron says the ugliness got to her. “It makes you question whether you are doing something wrong in your job, whether politics is right for you.” She also wondered if running was unfair to her two children.

Then, a horrific attack — not against her, but against a female colleague who was sworn into Parliament in the same class — changed the conversation for Cameron, and for the entire country.

In 2016, Member of Parliament Jo Cox was gunned down and stabbed on the streets by a white supremacist. According to prosecutors, he was radicalized on the Internet, where he viewed Nazi materials and, on the eve of the attack, researched right-wing politicians and the Ku Klux Klan. The motive appeared to be policy-oriented. The killer was pro-Brexit. And Cox, a member of the Labour Party, wanted Britain to stay in the European Union. But some believed she was targeted because she was a woman.

The Prime Minister’s office reached out to men and women in Parliament to ask if they had been intimidated online. The final report, published in December 2017, coincided with the rise of the #MeToo movement in the United States. U.K. regulators didn’t set out to spotlight female leaders. But they did, because women had horrific anecdotes to share.

(17) SUPER-RESISTANCE. Art Spiegelman, in “Art Spiegelman: golden age superheroes were shaped by the rise of fascism” in The Guardian, is a discussion about the rise of superheroes in the late 1930s. 

…In late 1940, over a year before Pearl Harbor, while the Nazis were Blitzkrieging London, Simon, an entrepreneurial freelancer for Funnies, Inc, was hired by Goodman to write, draw and edit for him directly. Simon showed him the cover concept for a new superhero that he and Kirby had dreamed up – a hero dressed like an American flag with giant biceps and abs of steel has just burst into Nazi headquarters and knocked Hitler over with a haymaker to the jaw. Goodman began to tremble, knowing what an impact this book would make and remained anxious until the first issue of Captain America, dated March 1941, landed on the stands. Goodman had been terrified that someone might assassinate Hitler before the comic book came out!

Captain America was a recruiting poster, battling against the real Nazi super-villains while Superman was still fighting cheap gunsels, strike breakers, greedy landlords and Lex Luthor – and America was still equivocating about entering the conflict at all. No wonder Simon and Kirby’s comic book became an enormous hit, selling close to a million copies a month throughout the war….

A related article explains that this piece was originally written as an introduction to a Folio Society collection of classic Marvel comics but Spiegelman withdrew it because he had a reference to “an Orange Skull haunts America” in a discussion of the Red Skull and Marvel found this unacceptable.(“Spiegelman’s Marvel essay ‘refused publication for Orange Skull Trump dig’”).

(18) KILLING JOKE. The BBC covers “Edinburgh Fringe funniest joke: Vegetable gag wins top prize” and the also-rans. No, I don’t know what “florets” is a sound-alike to; anyone alse to enlighten me?

A joke about vegetables has made it to the top of the menu as this year’s funniest at the Edinburgh Fringe.

Swedish comedian Olaf Falafel has won Dave’s “Funniest Joke of The Fringe” award with the niche culinary pun.

He took the title with the gag: “I keep randomly shouting out ‘Broccoli’ and ‘Cauliflower’ – I think I might have florets”.

It is from Falafel’s show It’s One Giant Leek For Mankind at the Pear Tree.

In its 12th year, the prize rewards the funniest one-liner to grace the venues of the festival and celebrates the pool of talent the Fringe has to offer.

(19) TALK TO ABOUT THE HAND. Something CoNZealand-goers won’t have to travel to see: “‘Nightmare’ hand statue looms over New Zealand city”.

A giant hand which has been described as a “Lovecraftian nightmare come to life” has been lifted into place atop Wellington’s City Gallery in New Zealand.

Ronnie van Hout’s “Quasi” installation was carried by helicopter to its new home on Monday overlooking the city’s civic centre.

The artwork, which was created in 2016, originally stood on top of the Christchurch Art Gallery. It is on loan to Wellington, where it will stand for the next three to four years.

The operation has cost NZ$74,000 (US$47,000; £39,000), which includes transportation, designing the hoist, and “Wellington-proofing” the hand against the local elements, Stuff news website reports.

The relocation of the five-metre tall (16 feet) sculpture, which weighs 400kg (880 pounds), has stirred up a mixture of revulsion and civic pride in New Zealand’s capital.

[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, JJ, Hampus Eckerman, Chip Hitchcock, John King Tarpinian, Martin Morse Wooster, Mike Kennedy, Jim Meadows, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Andrew.]

Pixel Scroll 7/9/19 With Mullets Towards None

(1) THOUGHTS ON A PROPOSED HUGO CATEGORY. Neil Clarke explains why he opposes “Hugo Proposal for Best Translated Novel”

…The biggest problem I have with this proposal is the message it sends not only to domestic readers, but foreign authors, editors, and publishers: translated works are not as good as ours, so we’re making a special category for you so you can get awards too. I don’t believe that’s the intention of those who drafted this proposal. I think they approached it with the best of intentions, but simply got it wrong. For years now, I have been making the case that we should be treating translated and international works as equals: stories worthy of standing alongside those we have routinely seen published. This proposal sends the opposite message, and on those grounds intend to vote no.

Translated works are capable of winning the Hugo without any special treatment. As they point out in their own commentary, three translated works have won since 2015, despite the relatively low number of translations published among a wide sea of domestic releases….

(2) ‘TOPIARY. Juliette Wade’s Dive Into Worldbuilding encounters winner of the John W. Campbell Memorial Award and Nebula nominee “Sam J. Miller and Blackfish City”. Read the synopsis at the link, and/or watch the video:

…There are some utopian elements in the story as well as dystopian ones. A lot of energy problems can be solved. The city uses methane generators to produce light. They also don’t need militarized police. Sam remarked how any place can have both utopian and dystopian elements depending on who you are. To the people who live in the Capital, the Hunger Games world is a utopia.

I asked if this book was strictly speaking science fiction or whether it had fantastical elements. He explained that it is a science fiction story, but that he uses nanites to do things that might seem magical. The nanites allow some humans to bond with animals. That bond could seem fantastical but it has technological underpinnings.

There are people called orcamancers. Sam explained that the origins of the orcamancers are  with illegal pharmaceutical testing that happened in the period between the present and the time period of the novel. Rival drugs were tested on people at different times. This accidentally led to a form of bonding with animals that Sam compared to the daemons in The Golden Compass. He explained that cultural practices regulate why you would bond with particular animals….

(3) CICERO – NOT ILLINOIS. Ada Palmer dives into “Stoicism’s Appeal to the Rich and Powerful” at Ex Urbe

I was recently interviewed for a piece in the Times on why the philosophy of stoicism has become very popular in the Silicon Valley tech crowd. Only a sliver of my thoughts made it into the article, but the question from Nellie Bowles was very stimulating so I wanted to share more of my thoughts.

To begin with, like any ancient philosophy, stoicism has a physics and metaphysics–how it thinks the universe works–and separately an ethics–how it advises one to live, and judge good and bad action. The ethics is based on the physics and metaphysics, but can be divorced from it, and the ethics has long been far more popular than the metaphysics.  This is a big part of why stoic texts surviving from antiquity focus on the ethics; people transcribing manuscripts cared more about these than about the others.  And this is why thinkers from Cicero to Petrarch to today have celebrated stoicism’s moral and ethical advice while following utterly different cosmologies and metaphysicses.  (For serious engagement with stoic ontology & metaphysics you want Spinoza.)  The current fad for stoicism, like all past fads for stoicism (except Spinoza) focuses on the ethics.

(4) DRAGON TRAINER NOW LAUREATE. “How to Train Your Dragon author Cressida Cowell named new children’s laureate”The Guardian has the story.

Cressida Cowell has become the new UK Children’s Laureate.

The author of How To Train Your Dragon, and the Wizards of Once will take over from previous laureate, Lauren Childs..

She said: “Books and reading are magic, and this magic must be available to absolutely everyone. I’m honoured to be chosen to be the eleventh Waterstones Children’s Laureate. I will be a laureate who fights for books and children’s interests with passion, conviction and action. Practical magic, empathy and creative intelligence, is the plan.”

Cressida has also revealed a ‘giant to-do list’ to help make sure that books and reading are available to everyone. It says that every child has the right to:

  1. Read for the joy of it.
  2. Access NEW books in schools, libraries and bookshops.
  3. Have advice from a trained librarian or bookseller.
  4. Own their OWN book.
  5. See themselves reflected in a book.
  6. Be read aloud to.
  7. Have some choice in what they read.
  8. Be creative for at least 15 minutes a week.
  9. See an author event at least ONCE.
  10. Have a planet to read on.

(5) GEEKY GETAWAYS. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] For your vacationing pleasure, SYFY Wire has lists and descriptions of 10 hotels “Geek Road Trip: 10 nerdy hotels that’ll turn vacation into a fandom pilgrimage” and 6 Airbnbs “Geek Road Trip: 6 extra-nerdy Airbnb to book for your next vacation” with fan welcoming accommodations. The latter include a Harry Potter themed apartment in Atlanta GA, an ’80s throwback gaming room in Lisbon, Portugal (& other themed rooms in the same building), a Marvel-ous studio apartment in Manila Philippines, a Star Wars suite in Melbourne Australia, a riverside Hobbit hole in Orondo, WA and Pixar paradise (with differently-themed rooms) in Anaheim CA.

(6) NAMELESS DREAD. The series doesn’t have a title yet, but it does have characters: “George RR Martin Says ‘Game of Thrones’ Prequel Includes the Starks, Direwolves and White Walkers”.

HBO’s untitled Naomi Watts-led “Game of Thrones” prequel pilot may not have Targaryens and dragons — but it does have Starks, direwolves and, of course, White Walkers.

“The Starks will definitely be there,” George R.R. Martin, co-creator and executive producer on the project alongside showrunner Jane Goldman, told Entertainment Weekly in an interview published Tuesday.

“Obviously the White Walkers are here — or as they’re called in my books, The Others — and that will be an aspect of it,” the “A Song of Ice and Fire” author said, adding: “There are things like direwolves and mammoths.”

The appearance of the Starks, descendants of the First Men, shouldn’t be a shock to fans who remember the prequel — which is reportedly currently filming in North Ireland — takes place roughly 5,000 years before the events of HBO’s “Game of Thrones.”

(7) THE REEL DEAL. Yahoo! Finance expects big bucks to change hands: “‘Lost’ tapes of first moonwalk to be sold; former NASA intern may make millions”.

A former intern at NASA may become a millionaire when he sells three metal reels that contain original videotape recordings of man’s first steps on the moon.  

The videotapes will be offered in a live auction on July 20th at Sotheby’s New York, but interested parties are able to place bids now at Sothebys.com. The sale coincides with the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 mission. The price could reach $2 million.

According to the auction site, Gary George was awarded a cooperative work internship at the NASA Johnson Space Center in June 1973. Three years later, he bought more than 1,100 reels at a government surplus auction for $218, Reuters reported.

(8) GAIMAN’S STUDY. Variety’s photo essay takes you “Inside Neil Gaiman’s Rural Writing Retreat”. (Hey, we have the same interior decorator!)

Although Gaiman has won multiple Hugo Awards, he only keeps one in his office; the others are in his house in Wisconsin. The one he earned in 2016 for “The Sandman: Overture” receives extra special placement not only because of his long history with the franchise (“It had a ‘you can go home again’ quality to it,” he says) but also because “there is something magical in knowing I was awarded it for a graphic novel. I remember I was there, not too long ago, fighting for whether comics could get awards and things like that. But people loved it; it got its audience; it got awards; people cared.”

(9) NATIVE TONGUE TRILOGY EVENT. On Thursday, July 18, there will be a panel discussion on feminist sci-fi with Rebecca Romney, Jennifer Marie Brissett, Bethany C. Morrow, and moderated by Eliza Cushman Rose focusing on “The Legacy of Suzette Haden Elgin’s Native Tongue Trilogy”. This event is hosted by The Feminist Press and will be held at Books are Magic, 225 Smith Street, Brooklyn, NY

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born July 9, 1911 Mervyn Peake. Ok I’ll admit I’ve not read the Gormenghast novels, nor have I seen the various video adaptations. Please tell me what I’ve been missing. (Died 1968.)
  • Born July 9, 1944 Glen Cook, 75. With the exception of the new novel which I need to read, I’ve read his entire excellent Black Company series. I’ve also his far lighter Garrett P.I. Which unfortunately he’s abandoned. And I should read the Instrumentalities of the Night as I’ve heard good things about it.
  • Born July 9, 1945 Dean Koontz, 74. The genres of of mystery. horror, fantasy and science fiction are all home to him. Author of over a hundred novels, his first novel was SF — it being Star Quest (not in print) published as an Ace Double with Doom of the Green Planet by Emil Petaja. ISFDB claims over half of his output is genre, I’d say that a low estimate. 
  • Born July 9, 1954 Ellen Klages, 65. Her novelette “Basement Magic” won a Nebula Award for Best Novelette. I strongly recommend Portable Childhoods, a collection of her short fiction, which published by Tachyon Publications, my boutique favorite publisher of fantasy. Passing Strange, her 1940 set San Francisco novel is really great.
  • Born July 9, 1970 Ekaterina Sedia, 49. Her Heart of Iron novel is simply awesome. I’d also recommend The Secret History of Moscow as well. It’s worth noting that both iBooks and Kindle list several collections by her, Willful Impropriety: 13 Tales of Society, Scandal, and Romance and Wilful Impropriety that ISFDB doesn’t list. I’m off to buy them now. 
  • Born July 9, 1978 Linda Park, 41. Best known for her portrayal of communications officer character Hoshi Sato on the Enterprise. Her first genre role was Hannah in Jurassic Park III, she was Renee Hansen in Spectres which Marina Sirtis is also in. She was in some called Star Trek: Captain Pike three years back as Captain Grace Shintal. 

(11) DISTURBING TREND? Yesterday, “Jar Jar Binks spent the day trending on Twitter, baffling Star Wars fans” says SYFY Wire.

Earlier this morning, Jar Jar Binks was inexplicably one of the trending topics on Twitter. No one seemed to understand why, although there have been some theories. The Tampa Bay Times looked into the matter, which traced it back to a meme that predicts your Star Wars fate. While the image had been making the rounds online, it was shared by Mark Hamill earlier this morning, giving it some serious traction. 

(12) VINTAGE 2018 FINNCON. Karl-Johan Norén’s report on his 2018 Nordic Fan Fund trip to Finncon 2018 is up on eFanzines in both epub (preferred) and PDF formats.

…Meanwhile, Hulda and Therese participated in the Klingon language workshop, where they learnt some helpful Klingon phrases and Hulda impressed by showing a basic knowledge of the IPA symbols. Later on, when Hulda accidentally tickled Therese, Therese gave off a very Klingon-like sound, leading Hulda to ask if Klingons are ticklish. That gave rise to a very spirited discussion, including if Klingons would admit that they could possibly be ticklish, and if empirical research was advised…

(13) BUSTED. The Daily Beast reports on Streamliner Lines’ inaugural run through western Nevada: “Redditors Say This Is a Nazi Bus. The Owner Says It’s a Misunderstanding.”

It bans “social justice warriors” and drives across Nevada with a logo that looks suspiciously like a Nazi flag. It’s Reno’s new bus line and the owner says the racist reputation is all just a misunderstanding.

On Friday, Streamliner Lines launched its maiden bus run from Reno to Las Vegas. Streamliner president John Wang told The Daily Beast it ran a little behind schedule (traffic), and sold few tickets (the Nazi reputation). Still, the trip was the first victory for Streamliner, which previously failed inspection on its only bus and has spent the past month embroiled in spats with Redditors over the company’s logo and its ban on some left-wing passengers.

(14) BLADE RUNNER. Titan Comics advertises Blade Runner 2019 as “the first comic to tell new stories set in the Blade Runner universe!”

(15) KORNBLUTH TRIBUTE. Andrew Porter passed along a scanned clipping of Cyril Kornbluth’s obituary in a 1958 New York Times.

(16) UMM, YUM? Gastro Obscura calls her ‘Annabel Lecter’ because “These Made-to-Order Cakes Look Like Beautiful Nightmares”.

English pastry chef Annabel de Vetten crafts what may be the world’s most fantastically morbid confections. Her Birmingham studio and cooking space, the Conjurer’s Kitchen, is filled with feasts of macabre eye candy rendered with ghoulish precision.

Here is a plate heaped with thumb-sized maggots and grubs. There a bloodied human heart lies in a pool of green, molar-strewn slime. A stainless-steel coroner’s table hosts the disemboweled upper-torso of a corpse. It’s flanked by a four-foot statue of a saint, his face melting away to bone. On the counter, the neck of a deer’s partially fleshless head sinks its roots into a bisected flowerpot; a sapling bursts from its skull like a unicorn horn.

(17) THE ART OF FILLING OUT THE HUGO BALLOT. Steve J. Wright moves on to review “Hugo Category: Best Art Book”.

…Taking a look at this year’s offerings – well, the Hugo voters’ packet contains partial content (the images, really) from three of the six, and the full text and images from a fourth, which last was something I really didn’t expect.  I bought one of the remaining two myself… but the last one, Julie Dillon’s Daydreamer’s Journey, is a self-published job funded by a Kickstarter project and put together using indie tools, and the ultimate result was, I figured I could just about afford the book, but then I looked at the cost of overseas shipping, and my wallet instinctively snapped shut.  Pity, really.  Julie Dillon is a familiar name from recent Pro Artist final lists, and a book of her artwork (with accompanying descriptions of her creative process for each piece) would be a very nice thing to have.  The Kickstarter makes it look very enticing indeed….

(18) THEY CAME FROM SPACE. NPR finds that “Moon Rocks Still Awe, And Scientists Hope To Get Their Hands On More”

Darby Dyar says that as a kid, whenever Apollo astronauts returned from the moon, she and her classmates would get ushered into the school library to watch it on TV.

She remembers seeing the space capsules bobbing in the ocean as the astronauts emerged. “They climbed out and then they very carefully took the lunar samples and put them in the little rubber boat,” Dyar says, recalling that the storage box looked like an ice chest.

Nearly a half-ton of moon rocks were collected by the six Apollo missions to the lunar surface. And as the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 first landing mission approaches, NASA has decided to open up a still-sealed, never-studied moon rock sample that has been carefully saved for decades, waiting for technology to advance.

(19) I PRAY FOR ONE FIRST LANDING. Even if it’s not one of Glyer’s Chinese ‘bots I’m sure you’ll cheer when “AI pilot ‘sees’ runway and lands automatically”.

An automatic pilot has landed a plane using image-recognition artificial intelligence to locate the runway.

At large airports, systems on the ground beam up the position of the runway to guide automatic systems.

But in late May a new AI tool landed a small plane carrying passengers, by “sight” alone at Austria’s Diamond Aircraft airfield.

One expert said it could potentially improve flight safety.

The new system, developed by researchers at the technical universities of Braunschweig and Munich, processes visual data of the runway and then adjusts the plane’s flight controls, without human assistance.

Because it can detect both infrared light as well as the normal visible spectrum, it can handle weather conditions such as fog that might make it difficult for the human pilot to make out the landing strip.

Another advantage of the technology is it does not rely on the radio signals provided by the existing Instrument Landing System (ILS). Smaller airports often cannot justify the cost of this equipment and it can suffer from interference.

(20) LE GUIN ON PBS.  THIRTEEN’s American Masters presents the U.S. broadcast premiere of the “Worlds of Ursula K. Le Guin” documentary on August 2.

Produced with Le Guin’s participation over the course of a decade, American Masters – Worlds of Ursula K. Le Guin tells the intimate coming-of-age story of the Portland, Oregon, housewife and mother of three who forever transformed American literature by bringing science fiction into the literary mainstream. Through her influential work, Le Guin opened doors for generations of younger writers like Neil Gaiman, Margaret Atwood, Michael Chabon and David Mitchell — all of whom appear in the film — to explore fantastic elements in their writing.

The film explores the personal and professional life of the notoriously private author through revealing conversations with Le Guin as well as her family, friends and the generations of renowned writers she influenced. Visually rich, Worlds of Ursula K. Le Guin illustrates the dramatic real-world settings that shaped Le Guin’s invented places using lush original animations over her own readings of her work to provide a firsthand experience of her fantastic worlds.

(21) TOUGH TIME AT NASFiC. Artist Newton Ewell had a terrible experience at SpikeCon and wrote about it on Facebook. Friends of his told me he’s okay with sharing it on File 770. (I’m adding this at the last minute, in preference to waiting for tomorrow’s Scroll.)

Have you ever been invited to a convention, only to be treated like you don’t belong there? I have.

Thursday was really hard on me. I felt very unwelcome at Spikecon, and have realized that driving an hour one-way, being shoved off into an unlit corner and having to confront people who hate me just really isn’t my thing.

Frankly, I’m afraid to come back to the convention. Libertarian Loudmouth Guy came by the table yesterday evening to drone on at me like a broken record about the same crap (his skewed politics) as usual. Being buttonholed by wackos who see my skin color and use it as a pretext to spew hateful talk at me does not make a good convention experience. Racist DrawGirl’s grudge against me was on full display. I’m not there to compete with anyone, nor am I there to be hated on by weirdos with strange fetishy grudges. Right-Wing Space Guy still can’t grasp that I don’t want to talk to him either, because of the Trump fanaticism displayed toward me.

I have friends there, but I was isolated from them, making the whole experience into an ordeal for me. I wanted to bring my large pieces, but something said, “don’t”. I’m glad I listened to that inner voice, because if I’d brought them, they’d have been ruined by the rain. I was supposed to have an electrical outlet for my drawing light, but all the outlets were taken up by the USS Dildo-prise people.

I don’t have money to afford driving back out there, let alone commuting back-and-forth, food etc. Being placed into a hostile working environment is too much pain for too little reward.

I realized that being presented with a symbol of racial oppression and corporate greed (a plastic golden spike) really hurt. All I feel from that is the pain and death dealt out to the people who worked so hard to join the two railroads, and it makes me sad. I’m hurt that my art is on all the con badges, but once I get there I’m made into a problem, a bothersome individual who’s not worth having the space I contracted for….

[Thanks to Martin Morse Wooster, Andrew Porter, Cat Eldridge, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Contrarius, Robin A. Reid, Trisha Lynn, Mike Kennedy, Chip Hitchcock, and Carl Slaughter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]