Pixel Scroll 6/8/24 This Is A Test Of The Multiverse Emergency Response System

(1) POWER ON BOARD. MIT Technology Review checks out CATAN: New Energies, an updated version of the popular board game that will be released June 14: “This classic game is taking on climate change”.

…Given Catan’s superstar status, I was intrigued to learn late last year that the studio that makes it had plans in the works to release this new version. I quickly got in touch with the game’s co-creator, Benjamin Teuber, to hear more. 

“The whole idea is that energy comes to Catan,” Teuber told me. “Now the question is, which energy comes to Catan?” Power plants help players develop their society more quickly, amassing more of the points needed to win the game. Players can build fossil-fuel plants, represented by little brown tokens. These are less resource-intensive to build, but they produce pollution. Alternatively, players can elect to build renewable-power plants, signified by green tokens, which are costlier but don’t have the same negative effects in the game. 

As a climate reporter, I feel that some elements of the game setup ring true—for example, as players reach higher levels of pollution, disasters become more likely, but there’s still a strong element of chance involved. 

One aspect of the game that didn’t quite match reality was the cost difference between fossil fuels and renewables. Technologies like solar and wind have plummeted in price over the last decade—today, building new renewable projects is generally cheaper than operating existing coal plants in the US.

I asked if the creators had considered having renewables get cheaper over time in the game, and Teuber said the team had actually built an early version with this idea in place, but the whole thing got too complicated. Keeping things simple enough to be playable is a crucial component of game design, Teuber says….

Åke Schwartz

(2) ONE OF THE ABOVE. Rich Horton shares his ballot in “Hugo Nominees for Best Novel, 2024: review summary” at Strange at Ecbatan.

…As I think my reviews make clear, none of these books are terrible — they all have redeeming values, and I’m glad I read them all. Having said that much, it also might be clear that I’m having a hard time enthusiastically supporting any of them for the Hugo. Is that a statement about the state of SF today, or the state of me as a reader of SF today? Probably both, in all honesty….

…So — in summary, what do I think of these books — how do I rank them? I’ll state my prejudices first. As hinted above, I do prize ambition — both literary ambition (I definitely give extra points for good prose) and thematic ambition — asking difficult questions, and presenting intriguing and original ideas. Especially science fictional ideas: cool extrapolation, and the treatment of technologies or scientific ideas that raise interesting question or that throw light on broader ideas, such as, say,  what does it mean to be intelligent….

(3) THE PIONEER FANZINE THAT “BOMBED” THE RUSSIANS. [Item by Ahrvid Engholm.] Imagine Ray Palmer popped up and told how the very first fanzine, The Comet, May 1930, came about?

A pioneer fanzine maker from 1952, Åke Schwartz, now surfaces after 72 years of silence. Not his fault, others didn’t know about him or Sweden’s first fanzine: Vår Rymd (“Our Space”).

Every issue of my PDFzine Intermission covers sf and fandom history. And Intermission 143.5 has a bombshell, all about the forgotten or lost Vår Rymd, directly from Åke (soon 89). Those pioneer fanzine makers once —

…gathered after lunch in a big room at Åke Henriksson’s on 13B Villa Street and produced it. It took a weekend. I worked the typewriter. I put up the typwriter on a big dining table. It was a bit difficult to write on stencils. If there was a typo you had to smear some substance on it, wait and then type the correction. We began with discussing what ideas each one had and if he had brought the material so it could be written. Then we decided the contents. Sven could draw what he wanted. He was a good artist. Then we began. A lot of milk and buns were consumed during the afternoon. We didn’t drink beer at the time. The next day we took the stencils to dad’s office at the company Gränges on Gustaf Adolf Square to print it.

But this was unexpected:

The Russian Ambassador lived below Henrikssons. Every day he went to the Russian Embassy on Villa Street 17. Once we put explosives in his keyhole. It was a fairly innocent mix called “blast dough”. It was Karl who studied chemistry who made it. When the ambassador put in the key it exploded.

The news on the fanzine dug up after 7+ decades is truly explosive…

(4) MEMORABLE EFFECTS OF LATE NIGHT SNACKS. The Guardian salutes “Gremlins at 40: Joe Dante’s untamed classic is a love letter to chaos”.

…The Peltzers have no business taking care of Gizmo, who must be kept away from bright light and water and must not, under any circumstances, eat after midnight. (The fact that it’s always after midnight is a bit of pedantry that Dante tackles in the sequel.) It takes absolutely no time at all for Billy and the family to violate all those rules, which result in the mogwai first multiplying into mischievous clones and then cocooning like the xenomorphs in Alien, later emerging as scaly, malevolent beasts hellbent on destruction. Credit Dante and his soon-to-be-famous screenwriter, Home Alone’s Chris Columbus, with establishing some key supporting players before things go awry, including Billy’s love interest, Kate (Phoebe Cates), the cantankerous Murray Futterman (Dante mainstay Dick Miller) and Mrs Deagle (Polly Holliday), the town’s miserly widow.

Released just two weeks after Spielberg’s Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, Gremlins cracked open a nationwide conversation about violence in family films and led to the creation of PG-13, intended to covering the wide gulf between all-ages fare and films aimed at adults. How that new rating would reshape American movies is a massive and mostly deflating discussion, but Dante’s willingness to spook his younger audience rather than infantilize it is laudable, because it’s done in the right spirit. …

(5) WALL-TO-WALL MAD. PRINT Magazine alerts readers to the opening of a museum exhibit in “The Daily Heller: MAD and the Usual Gang of Idiots”.

Richard Williams: “Alfred E. Neuman and Norman Rockwell”, 2002
Cover illustration for Mad Art: A Visual Celebration of MAD Magazine and the Idiots Who Create It (Watson Guptill, 2002)

The Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge, MA, has replaced its historic Leo Lionni exhibition with What, Me Worry? The Art and Humor of MAD Magazine, which runs through Oct. 27.

The show covers the full legacy of MAD, from Harvey Kurtzman’s inspired comic book, to Bill Gaines’ outwitting the Comics Code Authority by transitioning from comic book to magazine format, up through the present. The NRM curatorial staff, headed by Stephanie Plunkett, together with guest curator Steve Brodner (assisted by an unusual gang of experts), has brought MAD—which ended newsstand distribution in 2018, continuing in comic book stores and via subscription—back to the fore with a richly filled treasury of printed and original material. I prevailed on Plunkett and Brodner before the opening on June 8 to discuss what and what not to worry about while visiting this MAD wellspring of humor in the jugular vein….

Here’s the direct link to the exhibit: “What, Me Worry? The Art and Humor of MAD Magazine”. The Norman Rockwell Museum has also put together two short videos to go with it.

  • MAD: Making A Magazine
  • What, Me Worry? The Art and Humor of MAD Magazine

(6) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY.

[Compiled by Paul Weimer.]

June 8, 1928 Kate Wilhelm. (Died 2018.)

By Paul Weimer. Even beyond her fiction, Wilhelm’s influence and effect on the field can be best defined with one word: Clarion.

The Clarion Workshop (and its splinter and descendant groups) was the brainchild of herself and Damon Knight, and its influence on the field cannot be underestimated. It remains to this day the premier workshop for science fiction writers, and many of the best writers, past and present either attended Clarion, or have taught at Clarion, or attended a workshop that came out or was inspired by Clarion. Thanks to Wilhelm, Clarion permanently and profoundly changed how science fiction writing is taught. 

Kate Wilhelm

As far as that fiction, the one Wilhelm work that stays with me, and it will be no surprise, is Where Late the Sweet Birds Sang. Part of the round of post-apocalyptic novels and stories that was a strong strain in cinema and in written science fiction in the 1970’s, I think it might have been the first time I had come across the idea of clones. I first read the novel in that first burst of Science fictional reading in the early 1980’s (again, from my older brother’s collection).  I was struck by the setting, the conflict between the clones and those seeking to return to biological means of reproduction, and the slow continued apocalypse of the world. 

A community that had survived the apocalypse and was slowly surviving and outlasting global warming, was nevertheless succumbing, inexorably, to lacking the parts and technology to keep their new clone society alive.  (This would come to mind recently, when I read Walk to the End of the World by Suzy McKee Charnas, which takes this idea as well but in a different direction). It’s a sad and elegiac novel in the end, and very representative in general of her work.

Sadly, a lot of her non-mystery work (her mystery work output being far vaster than her science fiction) is not readily in print, which is, I think, a disservice and a shame.

(7) COMICS SECTION.

(8) COMING TO AN EAR NEAR YOU. The Mary Sue introduces the “Chuck Tingle Bury Your Gays Audiobook Cast”.

…Now our favorite buckaroo is back with a new horror novel—and the audiobook version has a cast that will make speculative fiction fans scream.

Bury Your Gays, coming out on July 9, 2024, is Tingle’s second full-length horror novel. The book tells the story of Misha, a screenwriter in L.A. who’s been nominated for his first Oscar. However, the network executives in charge of Misha’s streaming show are pressuring him to kill off all his gay characters “for the algorithm.” When Misha refuses, he puts himself in mortal danger, while monsters of his own creation begin to stalk him in the hills outside the city.

A slate of beloved authors are in the audiobook’s cast, including Charlie Jane Anders, CJ Leede, Liz Kerin, Mark Oshiro, Sarah Gailey, Stephen Graham Jones, T. Kingfisher, and TJ Klune. The audiobook will be primarily narrated by Andre Santana, with Georgia Bird and Mara Wilson also contributing….

(9) THE SHAPE OF SPACE. Somebody tell Scott Edelman! “’We’re trying to find the shape of space’: scientists wonder if the universe is like a doughnut” – in the Guardian.

We may be living in a doughnut. It sounds like Homer Simpson’s fever dream, but that could be the shape of the entire universe – to be exact, a hyperdimensional doughnut that mathematicians call a 3-torus.

This is just one of the many possibilities for the topology of the cosmos. “We’re trying to find the shape of space,” says Yashar Akrami of the Institute for Theoretical Physics in Madrid, a member of an international partnership called Compact (Collaboration for Observations, Models and Predictions of Anomalies and Cosmic Topology). In May, the Compact team explained that the question of the shape of the universe remains wide open and surveyed the future prospects for pinning it down.

“It’s high-risk, high-reward cosmology,” says team member Andrew Jaffe, a cosmologist at Imperial College London. “I would be very surprised if we find anything, but I’ll be extremely happy if we do.”

…. “Knowing what the curvature is, you know what kinds of topologies are possible,” says Akrami. Flat space could just go on for ever, like an infinite sheet of paper. That’s the most boring, trivial possibility. But a flat geometry also fits with some topologies that cosmologists euphemistically call “nontrivial”, meaning that they’re far more interesting and can get pretty mind-boggling.

There are, for mathematical reasons, precisely 18 possibilities. In general, they correspond to the universe having a finite volume but no edges: if you travel farther than the scale of the universe, you end up back where you started. It’s like the screen of a video game in which a character exiting on the far right reappears on the far left – as though the screen is twisted into a loop. In three dimensions, the simplest of these topologies is the 3-torus: like a box from which, exiting through any face, you re-enter through the opposite face….

(10) SALLY RIDE BIO COMING TO TV. Deadline learns “Kristen Stewart To Play Astronaut Sally Ride In ‘The Challenger’ TV Series”.

 Kristen Stewart will make her TV series-starring debut in The Challenger, a limited series in which she’ll play Sally Ride, the astronaut and physicist who became the first American woman to fly in space. She did this as part of a NASA space shuttle astronaut class of 1978 that was the first to be diversified and not comprised of all white men.…

…The series is based on The New Guys, a book written by Meredith E. Bagby, who partners with Sedgwick and Valerie Stadler in Big Swing. They are also executive producers.

In some ways, this has the tapestry to tell the successor story to The Right Stuff, which was based on Tom Wolfe’s book about the culture clash that occurred when the cockiest world’s best fighter pilots jumped into the space race that America was engaged in with the Russians. Bagby tells the story of a group that was called by their predecessors ‘The F*cking New Guys,’ as NASA sought to diversify its pilots and crew for the space shuttle program. Ride was the first woman and the first member of the LGBTQ+ community to fly into space. Also in that program was the first Black and Asian American astronauts, and a married couple. They passed all the rigorous tests to become top of the class, and egos, ambition and romance were part of the cultural clash. They were also quite brilliant.In 1983, Ride became the first American woman to fly on the space shuttle, and became an instant celebrity. That joy was short-lived, however, when three years later the space shuttle Challenger blew apart 73 seconds into its ascent, killing all seven members of the crew. Ride then became the only astronaut to become part of the Rogers Commission, a presidential commission to investigate the disaster, and it later came out that she pinpointed the problems with O-rings that became stiff at low temperature, and that turned out to be the reason for the explosion. Ride died from cancer at age 61 in 2012, a true American hero.

(11) NASA IS IN TROUBLE. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] Cool Worlds notes that NASA is in deep trouble.

In 2023 Congress spent US$1.5 billion (the same as NASA’s entire astrophysics budget) to buy extra F35 aircraft that the Department of Defense did not request. In terms of total tax revenue NASA’s astrophysics budget is 0.03% of total US tax spent and NASA’s overall budget 0.5% of US tax spent. For this year, NASA, through the White House, had requested US$27.2 billion but Congress only approved US$25.4 billion giving NASA its first budget cut in over a decade. Of course, there have been problems with things like the James Webb Space Telescope being massively over budget.

Cool Worlds suggests that we take NASA’s estimates for the cost of future missions with “a pinch of salt”. For example, will the Habitable Worlds Observatory (working title – bet it’s going to be called the Sagan telescope) really cost US$11 billion and launch in 2040? Cool Worlds also argues that a bigger telescope than that planned is needed as it is likely that the nearest habitable world around a Sun-like star will be further away than proposers think. It also notes that there are competing factors for US tax dollars. In the 1980s decade extreme weather events cost the US US$21.7 billion, but with climate change the half decade to the end of 2023 cost US$122.5 billion.

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

A Fantastic Storm Has Abated: RIP Bertil Falk (1933-2023)

Bertil Falk in 2022. Photo by Ahrvid Engholm.

By Ahrvid Engholm: I have never known anyone with so much energy as author-publisher-reporter-translator-sf-expert-etc Bertil Falk. Now after a long time’s illness this hurricane of a force is no longer with us. It may be of slight consolation that he managed to publish several of his life projects before finishing his 90 years on Terra, ending October 14.

His Swedish translation of James Joyce’s “untranslatable” Finnegans Wake came last year, a work of love taking 60+ years. We also saw his massive, three-volume history of science fiction in Swedish, Faktasin. Unlike earlier sf history works, it covered what’s been written in Swedish only, making it a unique study. And a little earlier came his biography Feroze: The Forgotten Gandhi. Covering Indira Gandhi’s husband, written in English and well received in India, discovering a man that really had been mostly forgotten. An interview about this book is here.

Bertil Falk and Indira Gandhi.

But Bertil Falk did so much more! I first met Bertil on the SF-Kongressen 1977 and was later contacted to help out with a very nice (lots of old-timers showed up!) Spacecon in 1980, where Bertil with companions Anders Palm and Lasse Junell launched a Captain Future pulp-sized novel. Bertil had been a fan of this “Wizard of Science” since crawling out of the cradle, finding him in the 1940’s pulp Jules Verne Magasinet. As a journalist he later met and interviewed Captain F’s author Edmond Hamilton. And when he revived Jules Verne-Magasinet in the late 1960’s he published “The Return of Captain Future”. His interest in good old space adventures made me found Bertil Falk’s Space Opera Prize (RSN winner TBA!). I hope there is enough interest to make it annual.

Edmond Hamilton and Bertil Falk.

I got to know Bertil really well after I in 1982 was engaged in the popular tech/science magazine Tekniknmagasinet. Bertil wrote lots of articles for us and though he lived in the south he often came up before deadlines to help out, beside his then dayjob at the Kvällsposten evening paper. When you heard a typewriter hammer fast, hard and relentlessly you knew that Bertil had arrived to our little office. Though at times breaking even, the lack of astronomical success made our magazine slip to another publisher. But we co-workers kept in touch.

Bertil then crossed the North Sea working for the newly started TV3 satellite channel in 1987. Transmitting from London it challenged and in effect tore down the Swedish government TV monopoly. Bertil made a fine historical report on Jack the Ripper for the station.

He wrote non-fiction on many subjects, especially popular culture history (pulps, crime fiction, comics), as well as hammering out short stories (countless cosy mysteries for the weeklies) and novels (sf and crime). He was also translator and sometimes the publisher of the results through his publishing house Zen Zat.

He was especially interested in “reviving” popular fiction writers from yesteryear, and re-printed stories and books by eg Sture Lönnerstrand, Vladimir Semitjov, August Blanche, Aurora Ljungsted, Ed Hoch, Jacques Futrelle and others. His Swedish Wikipedia entry lists ca 50 “selected writings” (mostly book titles) and 25 “selected translations”, but there’s more than those selections. Of his later production, beside Joyce and Faktasin, he was especially proud of his Viking detective stories about Gardar Gåtlösaren (“Gardar Riddlesolver”).

In Zen Zat’s planetary system of whirling massive objects, every December saw flashing falling stars in the form of Bertil’s small printrun – 100 copies tops – Christmas specials. They would have virtually anything you could wish for, e.g. a reprint of Bertil’s short story debut at age 12, “A Trip in Space” (1946, see here) and debut in longer format, “The Masked Gangleader” (1954).  A. Engholm’s first short story collection Murder on the Moon was more like a tiny asteroid in Bertil’s rich and vivid publishing space…

From the late 1990’s and for several years he continued exploring popular literature history as editor of DAST Magazine, acronym for D)etective A)gent S)cience fiction T)hriller. Bertil was no doubt among our foremost experts on early magazine fiction and the history of the sf genre in general. But it was a broad approach allowing for Joyce and modern poetry beside pulp heroes and locked-room mysteries. I often appeared in DAST (Bertil inspired my interest in genre history) and about the same time he dragged me into the newly founded Short story Masters society. It became a bubbly source of more short stories and anthologies. One example is the probably first anthology of Swedish crime fiction in English, Crime the Swedish Way, with Bertil as a main initiator. He went to the Bouchercon 2008 to hand out and promote the anthology.

“Falk” means Falcon. Bertil flew high and wide, and his sharp Falcon gazed at the the broad horizons of literature.

More:

Pixel Scroll 10/13/23 The NP-Complete Enchanter

(1) HWA 2023 OFFICER AND TRUSTEE ELECTION RESULTS. The Horror Writers Association (HWA) held its annual election in September. The offices of Vice President and Treasurer ran unopposed. 

HWA’s new Vice President is Lisa Wood, and their new Treasurer is Michael Knost.

Lisa Kröger, Brian Matthews, and Angela Yuriko Smith were re-elected as Trustees; Brian Keene is a newly-elected Trustee.

The elected officers hold their respective offices for terms of two years, beginning on October 31 at midnight. (It’s HWA – what other date would they choose than Halloween?)

(2) INTERZONE GOES ON HIATUS. Gareth Jelley, Editor & Publisher of Interzone and IZ Digital, today sent readers an announcement that Interzone will be suspending publication for a period.

Unfortunately, Interzone is going to be on a (hopefully temporary) hiatus for the next few months. I do not know when I will be able to publish Interzone #296.

I have seen some resubscriptions come in, but the vast majority of subscriptions that lapsed with IZ 294 and IZ 295 have not been renewed, yet. I am optimistic in the long-term, and I intend to get Interzone to #300 and beyond. I am optimistic about the future of IZ. But at the moment, looking at the numbers, it simply isn’t possible for me to say when the next 5 to 10 issues will be published.

Many people made huge contributions in July this year, and these contributions helped to get Interzone #295 out into the world. Thank you for that help. The enthusiasm and passion for Interzone I saw then was staggering. Thank you very much, to each and every subscriber.

Interzone #296 will come out, and it will be a brilliant issue. And I hope that Interzones #297, #298, #299, and #300 will follow at roughly two-month intervals. As soon as I have a date for IZ 296, I will let you know.

If you would like to make a one-off donation to Interzone, the IZ Digital Ko-fi is here:

– https://ko-fi.com/izd

You can renew or extend your subscription, or convert your lifetime subscription to a regular subscription) here:

– https://interzone.press

(3) BIGGEST SCANDINAVIAN BOOK FAIR TO SPACE IN 2024. [Item by Ahrvid Engholm.] The yearly Gothenburg book fair is the biggest in Scandinavia and a major one in Europe. Every year has a theme, and in 2024 the fair goes into space! Having space as theme will surely give science fiction a lot of attention. (Most books dealing with space are undoubtedly sf.) Next year’s fair run from September 26-29, 2024. The site is what is called the Swedish Exhibition & Congress Centre.

Secondary 2024 theme is Sapmi. That is the northernmost part of Scandinavia with roaming reindeer herders, known as Sami, who call the land Sapmi.

As if they were anticipating this the cultural section of the major newspaper Aftonbladet just published a “literary manifesto” of interest. Through Google Translate: “Now we are changing our way of monitoring the literature”.

Even if the manifesto wasn’t exactly an A-bomb, it hit culture defense lines like a heavy mortar shell. Competing papers and even TV pundits exploded in comments against the manifesto’s message about reviewing more of what people actually read. It mentions science fiction several times. The critics who are not amused peek over the trenches in fear, as the bunker complexes of the traditional highbrow authors now are threatened. One critic even threw away his arms and retreated from Aftonbadet in protest. This saber-rattling adds an extra spice to the 2024 book fair.

There’s also a natural connection between space and Sapmi. The Swedish Space Corporation has upgraded the launch pads — used for sounding rockets, so far — of the Esrange research base for satellite launches. Esrange is in northern Lapland, a part of Sapmi. It may be the first satellite launch from European soil, not counting Russia. Esrange Space Center, Swedish Space Corporation. The first Sapmi sputniks are expected next year, probably well ahead of the book fair.

There’s a lot happening around space right now! Even the cultural sphere enters orbit.

(4) RUBY SLIPPERS. AP News says the person who stole the ruby slippers changed his plea to guilty today: “Man admits stealing ‘Wizard of Oz’ ruby slippers from museum in 2005, but details remain a mystery”.

A man charged in the museum heist of a pair of ruby slippers that Judy Garland wore in the “The Wizard of Oz” pleaded guilty Friday in a deal that could keep him out of prison due to his failing health, but only cleared up some of the mystery that dates back 18 years.

Terry Jon Martin, 76, pleaded guilty to a single count of theft of a major artwork. The shoes were stolen in 2005 from the Judy Garland Museum in the late actor’s hometown of Grand Rapids, Minnesota, and recovered by the FBI in 2018….

…“Terry has no idea where they were and how they were recovered,” Martin’s attorney, Dane DeKrey, said afterward. “His involvement was that two-day period in 2005.”

Under the plea agreement, DeKrey and federal prosecutor Matt Greenley recommended that Martin not face any time behind bars because of his age and poor health. Martin, who appeared in court in a wheelchair with supplemental oxygen, has advanced chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and struggles to breathe, DeKrey said. The proposed sentence would let Martin die at home, the attorney said….

(5) SANDWORM TEMPO. [Item by Rob Thornton.] Pitchfork did an interview-type article with Toto about doing the soundtrack for Lynch’s adaptation of Dune.

… With A Masterpiece in Disarray, [Max] Evry reevaluates the movie by telling its full story with the help of those who were there, including stars Kyle MacLachlan and Sean Young, and even Lynch himself. Every aspect of Dune is put under the microscope, including its surprisingly quiet and moody score courtesy of the 1980s rock band Toto, best known for their No. 1 hit “Africa.” In the following excerpt, members of Toto recount their experience working with Lynch, Brian Eno’s involvement in the soundtrack, and why they maybe should have just written a song for Footloose instead….

David Paich: I was able to play my main theme for David Lynch. They loved it and hired us on the spot. He had a Walkman, and put this set of phones on me and said, “Tell me if you can make this kind of music for my movie?” He put on two Shostakovich symphonies. He made me listen and said: “I want this music low, and I want it slow.” I thought, Well, I can handle that. This isn’t Star Wars. He’s making the anti-Star Wars movie. He wanted me to avoid anything that’s uplifting, that’s happy, that’s joyous, that’s compelling. He hates popular movies that make people come and eat popcorn and stuff. Super-nice guy, though. He wanted it low and slow….

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

Worldcon train launch, and photos of stations and travel card

The Weibo account of the Chengdu train system has posted several Worldcon-related updates.

A couple of videos and photo galleries showing the local area

In this 4-minute Bilibili video, a local from another district of Chengdu has a walk around the main road to (I think) the south of the con venue.  Amongst other things, you can see Worldcon signage on the block across the road (0’27”) and the school that was mentioned in yesterday’s Scroll (3’00”).  From around 2’40” you can get a feel for the distance between the museum and the Sheraton hotel.

Urban blogger skyxiang1991 posted a new set of photos to Weibo, showing the construction of a sculpture across the lake from the museum.  The post’s text says they have a Three-Body Problem theme; I think they refer to (vague spoilers) something that happens in The Dark Forest, the second book?

This Xiaohongshu video opens with a different view of the topiary that was in a recent Scroll; there seems to be a clock incorporated into the design.  It then moves on to various footage of the interior of the museum.

Miscellaneous videos

Ben Yalow and Carolina Gomez Lagerlof visit the Hua’ai school (video subtitled in English and Chinese)

A six-and-a-half-minute unboxing and taste-test video on Bilibili of the SF World bean paste box-set tie-in that was featured in a Scroll a week or two ago.

(7) CHANGE-UPS. Amal El-Mohtar reviews three new books by Malon Edwards, Melinda Taub and Karen Lord for the New York Times: “P.O.V.: You’re a Jane Austen Character in an Alternate Universe”.

The point-of-view meme has had a steady presence in our social media landscape over the past few years. You’ve probably scrolled past posts that read “P.O.V.: You’re [a specific character doing something wacky],” accompanied by images or videos that supposedly capture said perspective. P.O.V.: You’re a spotted lanternfly sunbathing. (Close-up of shoe tread.) P.O.V.: It’s 1996 and you’re trying to teach kids about irony when Alanis Morissette drops a new single. (Video of cartoon heads exploding.)

In fiction, of course, tinkering with point of view has a long history, as different narration styles have gone in and out of fashion. Here are some recent books where perspective is a site of experiment, subversion and play….

(8) OCTOBER COUNTRY. Meanwhile, Lisa Tuttle reviews Out There Screaming edited by Jordan Peele; A Haunting on the Hill by Elizabeth Hand; Lamb by Matt Hill; and My Brother’s Keeper by Tim Powers for the Guardian: “The best recent science fiction, fantasy and horror – reviews roundup”.

“I view horror as catharsis through entertainment,” says writer-director Peele (Nope, Get Out) in the foreword to this impressive American anthology. The 19 contributing Black authors offer a wide range of literary nightmares, varying in subject from the horrors of slavery and segregation to ancient evil spirits and newly minted monsters…. 

(9) GREG CRONAU DIES. Past ConFusion ConChair Greg Cronau has passed away. Michael McDowell reported on Facebook:

Greg’s mother called me this afternoon to tell me that Greg passed away last weekend in hospital near his home in Irwin, Pennsylvania. He’d been hospitalized for less than a week, but had been ill much longer. The cause of death was complications from an unchecked bone infection.

(10) TIM UNDERWOOD (1948-2023). Publisher Tim Underwood died October 11 from malignant melanoma. Underwood, then a book and art dealer, and used book dealer Chuck Miller, founded the Underwood–Miller small press in 1976. They published works by Jack Vance, Philip K. Dick, Harlan Ellison, Robert Silverberg and Roger Zelazny. In several such cases, the books in question printed recently done stories that either appeared only in magazine form or only in paperback, with no previous hardcover edition. They dissolved the partnership in 1994. That same year Underwood-Miller received a World Fantasy Special Award.

Tim Underwood

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born October 13, 1906 Joseph Samachson. In 1955, he co-created with artist Joe Certa the Martian Manhunter in the pages of Detective Comics #225. Earlier he penned a couple of Captain Future pulp novels around 1940 under a house name. (House names often blur who did what.) He also wrote scripts for Captain Video and His Video Rangers, a late Forties to mid Fifties series. (Died 1980.)
  • Born October 13, 1923 Meyer Dolinsky.  He wrote the script for Star Trek’s “Plato’s Children” plus for Mission: ImpossibleScience Fiction TheaterWorld of Giants (which I never heard of), Men into Space, Invaders, Mission: Impossible and The Outer Limits. (Died 1984.)
  • Born October 13, 1936 Robert Ingpen, 87. Australian graphic designer, illustrator, and writer. Winner of the Ditmar Award for the charmingly named Australian Gnomes. His other work in that series was The Poppykettle Papers with Michael Lawrence.
  • Born October 13, 1956 Chris Carter, 67. Best known for the X-Files and Millennium which I think is far better than X-Files was, but also responsible for Harsh Realm which lasted three episodes before being cancelled. The Lone Gunmen which was a good concept poorly executed managed to last thirteen episodes before poor ratings made them bite the bullet. He retired from doing anything creative after The X-Files: I Want to Believe.
  • Born October 13, 1969 Aaron Rosenberg, 54. Children’s books author and games designer according to Siri. He’s written novels for Star Trek, StarCraft, Warcraft, Exalted, Stargate Atlantis, and Warhammer, as well as other franchises. He’s even written a novel set In the Eureka ‘verse, Eureka: Roads Less Traveled, under the house name of Cris Ramsay. The Eureka novels sound fascinating. 

(12) COMICS SECTION.

  • Mostly Harmless prompts Lise Andreasen to question: “This shows a universal problem? Do we have to change Drake’s equation now?”
  • Bizarro uses ancient art to make a horrible modern pun.
  • Bliss shows what can happen when you least expect it.

(13) THE PROTO-PRO. At Bradbury 100, Phil Nichols looks at an early year of the author’s career: “Chronological Bradbury, 1939”.

Here’s a new episode of my Bradbury 100 podcast – and it’s another in my occasional series, “Chronological Bradbury”. Last time I covered 1938, so this time it’s onward to 1939.

1939 finds Ray Bradbury writing under a variety of names:

(14) NBA SUBSTITUTION. “LeVar Burton replaces Drew Barrymore as National Book Awards host” NPR explains why.

Actor, podcaster, and reading advocate LeVar Burton will be the host of this year’s National Book Awards ceremony.

In a statement Friday, Burton, who also hosted the ceremony in 2019, said, “It’s an honor to return as host of the biggest night for books, especially in a moment when the freedom to read is at risk.”

Drew Barrymore was originally slated to host the awards show – commonly referred to as the Academy Awards for literature. That offer was rescinded by the National Book Foundation after she announced she’d return to doing her talk show during the Writers Guild of America’s strike. She eventually reversed that position after strike supporters picketed her show, but not before losing out on the hosting job….

(15) THEY SNAPPED. “‘Goosebumps’ Is Back on TV. Here’s What to Know” says the New York Times.

“Say cheese!” a boy shouts in the first episode of “Goosebumps,” a new series on Disney+ and Hulu, jumping out of a closet as he snaps a Polaroid photo of his friend’s startled face.

The image is familiar to anyone who has read — or just seen the cover — of “Say Cheese and Die!,” one of the most beloved of R.L. Stine’s “Goosebumps” books. The best-selling children’s horror book series, first published in 1992 and still regularly rolling out, follows the adventures of tweens and teens who find themselves in supernatural circumstances.

But now there are a few differences: Unlike in the novels, in which almost every single essential character is white, the boy is Black. The characters are in high school, not middle school. The series is set in the present, not the 1990s. (There’s a “Hamilton” reference in the pilot.)

“We want to make sure the show appeals to the widest audience possible,” said Rob Letterman, who directed the 2015 “Goosebumps” film and created the new show with Nicholas Stoller. (They previously collaborated on the film adaptation of “Captain Underpants.”) The first half of the new 10-episode series premieres, appropriately, on Friday the 13th. (New episodes will arrive every Friday through Nov. 17.)

The first season is based largely on five of the books, including “Say Cheese and Die!”Scholastic Inc….

[Thanks to Chris Barkley, Cat Eldridge, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Rob Thornton, Arnie Fenner, Kathy Sullivan, Ahrvid Engholm, Lise Andreasen, Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, Ersatz Culture, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]

Pixel Scroll 10/5/23 The Fan-Kzin Scrolls

(1) NICOLA GRIFFITH Q&A. “’Hild’ sequel author Nicola Griffith talks about ‘Menewood’” in the Christian Science Monitor.

When did you first learn about the real Hild?

I love old abbeys, old castles, all that kind of thing. But I had never been to [the ruins of Whitby] Abbey until I was in my early 20s. I crossed the threshold of the abbey, and it was like stepping into Narnia. The world just changed. You know when some people talk about the skin of the Earth being thin in some places, this sense of immanence? It was like that for me. 

I read in a tourist pamphlet about St. Hilda of Whitby, who founded the abbey, and I wanted to learn more, but there were no books about her. 

My question was, why is this woman, from a time when we’re told that women had no power, no influence, no significance whatsoever, still remembered 1,400 years later? Nobody could tell me. I was on fire to find out; I thought what we knew of history must be wrong. This could not have happened if what we think of as history is actually true. So I basically started this enormous controlled experiment. I rebuilt the seventh century. I mean, I researched before I even wrote a word.

I’d been researching that book [“Hild”] for 20 years. I’d been reading everything you could possibly think of, all the medieval plants, everybody’s lists of grave goods. I followed all the archeology magazines and blogs and journals, and I read about the weather. I researched the flora, fauna, jewelry, making textiles. And then the day before my birthday, I thought, I cannot start another year without having done this book. So I sat down and said, I’m going to write one paragraph. And so I did. And there was Hild. And she was 3 years old and sitting under a tree. And I thought, that’s how I’m going to do it. She’s going to learn the world along with the reader.

(2) LE GUIN VIDEOS PART FOUR. The Journey That Matters is a series of six short videos from Arwen Curry, the director and producer of Worlds of Ursula K. Le Guin, a Hugo Award-nominated 2018 feature documentary about the iconic author.

In the fourth of the series, Khadija Abdalla Bajaber introduces “There I Am on the Page,” in which Ursula and other writers—including Nisi Shawl and adrienne maree brown—reflect on Ursula’s decision to make many of her characters people of color. Watch  “Ursula K. Le Guin on Writing Characters of Color” at Literary Hub.

(3) KGB. Fantastic Fiction at KGB reading series hosts Ellen Datlow and Matthew Kressel present David D. Levine and Robert Levy on Wednesday, October 11 at 7:00 p.m. Eastern. Where: KGB Bar, 85 East 4th Street, New York, NY 10003 (Just off 2nd Ave, upstairs)

DAVID D. LEVINE

David D. Levine is the author of Andre Norton Nebula Award winning novel Arabella of Mars, sequels Arabella and the Battle of Venus and Arabella the Traitor of Mars, and over fifty SF and fantasy stories, some collected in the award-winning Space Magic. His story “Tk’Tk’Tk” won the Hugo, and he has been shortlisted for awards including the Hugo, Nebula, Campbell, and Sturgeon. His latest novel is The Kuiper Belt Job.

ROBERT LEVY

Robert Levy’s novel The Glittering World was nominated for the Shirley Jackson Award and the Lambda Literary Award. Shorter work has appeared in The Magazine of Fantasy & Science FictionNightmareBlack Static, and The Best Horror of the Year. He teaches at the Stonecoast MFA Program, and his collection No One Dies from Love: Dark Tales of Loss and Longing is out now from Word Horde.

(4) NOBEL PRIZE FOR LITERATURE. Jon Fosse has won the 2023 Nobel Prize for Literature “for his innovative plays and prose which give voice to the unsayable.”

(5) LAURIE HALSE ANDERSON DONATES $100K TO PEN AMERICA’S FIGHT AGAINST BOOK BANS. The 2023 Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award laureate, American writer Laurie Halse Anderson, is donating $100,000 of her prize money to PEN America’s fight against book bans.

…Many of Laurie Halse Anderson’s books are frequently found on lists of banned books: books that, in some states or districts in the United States, are not allowed to be read in schools or bought by public libraries because of their subject matter or plot. Earlier this year, Anderson received the Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award, the world’s largest award for children’s and YA literature. The prestigious award comes with a cash prize of SEK 5 million ($452,000).

“Public libraries and schools have a duty to offer a broad range of books to the communities that they serve. People who find a book that they don’t like don’t have to read it. They do not have the right to dictate what books other people, or other people’s children, can read. I am proud to support PEN America and their fight against book banners and others bent on destroying our freedom to read. Remember: censorship is the child of fear and the father of ignorance”, says Laurie Halse Anderson….

(6) THEY WENT APE. Matthew Hays recalls how “50 Years Ago, One of the Gutsiest, Strangest Sci-Fi Movie Franchises Came to a Close with Battle for the Planet of the Apes” at Literary Hub.

When Planet of the Apes opened in cinemas in 1968, its box-office success was surprising even to the filmmakers themselves. After all, the film featured an astronaut survivor named Taylor (played by Oscar winner Charlton Heston) facing off against a planet of actors wearing elaborate ape makeup.

The possibility that the film would seem a giant joke to audiences had already crossed the minds of the suits at 20th Century Fox. The studio had set up an audience screening before they greenlit the project. Producer Arthur Jacobs was commissioned to film a 15-minute short film that would include some actors in ape makeup; if one person in the audience laughed, there would be no movie. No one laughed, and a legendary science fiction film was born.

To kids (I first saw the film at age six), Planet of the Apes seemed a basic movie about an astronaut landing on a planet run by a different species. But when the film arrived, many adults got the film’s multilayered jokes and running commentary: screenwriters Rod Serling and Michael Wilson (adapting Pierre Boulle’s novel) packed every imaginable bit of baggage that would fit into their carefully crafted Trojan horse. As New Yorker critic Pauline Kael immediately intuited, Planet of the Apes was a hate letter to America, full of commentary about slavery, manifest destiny, religious fundamentalism, creationism versus evolution, colorism and racism generally. The extensive medical experimentation done on the humans by apes is a clear reference to the Tuskegee Experiments. That some thought the apes were meant to represent Black Americans was a fundamental misreading of the film; the ape society is clearly a parody of American society, with all of its contradictions (especially the purported separation of church and state).

(7) WRITING POEMS, AND WAITING TO BE ARRESTED. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] With Chengdu Worldcon in mind, it is worth checking out today’s BBC World Service programme on the life of a Uyghur artist (poet, film and documentary maker) in China.

The programme is very Orwellian.

Tahir Izgil is one of the most highly respected living Uyghur poets. Tahir was born near Kashgar, in Xinjiang province, and from an early age he was immersed in the poetry of his culture. When the Chinese state clamped down on the Uyghur community, he lived under constant threat of arrest, and says he couldn’t even perform his poems. So he decided to try and escape his homeland…

You can listen to it here: “Writing poems, and waiting to be arrested”.

(8) 24TH FANTASIC SHORT STORY CONTEST. [Item by Ahrvid Engholm, contest administrator.] Results are in for the “24th Fantastic Short Story Contest” or “Fantastiknovelltävlingen”, probably the oldest running writing contest in Sweden, organized by writing E-mail list SKRIVA. (The term “fantastik” is here often used for sf, fantasy and horror, the “fantastic” genres.)

1st prize: “Der Berliner Underwellen”, by Kristian Schultz

2nd prize: “Cladosporium¨, by Isak Laestander

3rd prize: “The Cleaning Day”, by Kristian Schulz

There also were five “honorable mentions”.

A total of ca €200 is handed out in prize money plus a diploma and a secret prize… The Google English translation version of the result announcement

The winner 2023 Kristin Schultz also grabbed 3rd place, and despite having a German sounding title — it’s set in Berlin — the short story was in Swedish. An edited summary of the jury’s comments, authors P Lindestrand, K Bjällersted-Mickos and N Krog:

“…well-balanced description of a relationship in disintegration…Very eerie environments and Lovecraftian abominations that dwell in dark cellars…exciting and evocative story about…an underground tunnel populated by a hungry monster. The ending is dramatic, well written and classic…Wonderfully well-written and well-thought-out story about a Mathias and Klara who go on group sightseeing in the Berlin underground…Soon total chaos breaks out. The short story is well structured…A pleasure to read.”

Next contest starts in spring 2024. It will be the 25th and a silver jubilee!

(9) FAN HISTORY ZOOM: EVOLUTION OF FAN ART. The Fan History Project has another great FANAC Fan History Zoom session coming up coordinated by webmaster Edie Stern.

  • Evolution of Fan Art with legendary fan artists Grant Canfield, Tim Kirk, Jim Shull and Dan Steffan.

Sunday, October 15, 2023. Time: 4 pm EDT, 1 pm PDT, 9 pm BST (UK) and 7 am (Oct. 16, Melbourne, AU)

To attend, please send a note to [email protected]

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born October 5, 1945 Judith Kerman, 78. Can we call her a polymath? She’s a translator, publisher, academic, anthologist and poet.  All of her poetry, collected in Uncommonplaces: Poems of the Fantastic, is well worth your time. She did two non-fiction works of which I’m recommending one, “Retrofitting Blade Runner: Issues in Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner and Phillip K. Dick’s Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep”, as I’ve a Jones for that literature.
  • Born October 5, 1949 Peter Ackroyd, 74. His best known genre work is likely Hawksmoor which tells the tale of a London architect building a church and a contemporary detective investigating horrific murderers involving that church. Highly recommended. The House of Doctor Dee is genre fiction as is The Limehouse Golem and The Casebook of Victor Frankenstein.  I thought Hawksmoor had been turned into a film but it has not. But he has a credit for The Limehouse Golem which is his film work. 
  • Born October 5, 1952 Clive Barker, 71. Horror writer, series include the Hellraiser and the Book of Art, which is not to overlook The Abarat Quintet which is quite superb. Though not recent, The Essential Clive Barker: Selected Fiction published some twenty years ago contains more than seventy excerpts from novels and plays and four full-length short stories. His Imaginer series collects his decidedly strange art.  There has been a multitude of comic books, both by him and by others based on his ideas.  My personal fave work by him is the Weaveworld novel.
  • Born October 5, 1959 Rich Horton, 64. Editor of three anthology series — Fantasy: Best of The Year and Science Fiction: Best of The Year, merged into The Year’s Best Science Fiction & Fantasy in 2010. He wrote a review column for Locus for twenty years, signing off this past February. His Strange at Ecbatan blog includes reviews, criticism, and a well-received series that proposes Hugo finalists to fill in the old years when only winners were announced, or even before the award was created.
  • Born October 5, 1971 — Paul Weimer, 52. Writer, Reviewer, and Podcaster, also known as @PrinceJvstin. An ex-pat New Yorker living in Minnesota, he has been reading science fiction and fantasy for over 40 years and exploring the world of roleplaying games for more than 35 years. A three-time Hugo finalist for Best Fan Writer (2020-2022), he is a prolific reviewer for Nerds of a Feather and contributes elsewhere, including Tor.com, The Skiffy and Fanty Show, A Green Man Review, and here at File 770. He also contributes to the Hugo-nominated fancast The Skiffy and Fanty Show and the SFF Audio podcasts. He was the 2017 Down Under Fan Fund delegate to the Australia and New Zealand National Conventions, and his e-book DUFF trip report, consisting of more than 300 pages of travel stories and stunning photographs, is still available here.
  •  Born October 5, 1974 Colin Meloy, 49. He’s best known as the frontman of the The Decemberists, a band that makes use of folklore quite a bit,  but he has also written the neat and charmingly weird children’s  fantasy Wildwood chronicles which is illustrated by his wife, Carson Ellis.

(11) COMICS SECTION.

(12) GET READY FOR LIFE DAY. Marvel comics will publish four Life Day variant covers in November – in time for the Wookiee celebration of Life Day on November 17.  

Each November, the galaxy far, far away celebrates family, joy, and harmony on Life Day, and this year, Marvel Comics will commemorate this longstanding Wookiee tradition by reflecting these values in all-new variant covers!

 Gracing the covers of STAR Wars, Star Wars: Darth Vader, Star Wars: Doctor Aphra, and Star Wars: Bounty Hunters, the four new Life Day Variant Covers come from artists Mike Del Mundo and Rod Reis and feature characters from throughout various eras of Star Wars storytelling, including nods to the original Star Wars Holiday Special. Fans can enjoy heartwarming moments like young Anakin Skywalker sharing a meal with his mother Shmi, Han Solo and Chewie decorating, Chef Gormaanda whipping up a delicious feast, and Doctor Aphra and Krrsantan reuniting for the season!

(13) EATING THE FANTASTIC. Scott Edelman invites listeners to relive Capclaves past and present during Eating the Fantastic’s lightning-round Capclave Donut Carnival.

I love Eating the Fantastic’s lightning-round donut episodes, for which I park myself in a heavily trafficked area of a con with a dozen donuts and chat with anybody who’s up for trading five minutes of talk for a freebie. It’s a fun contrast to my usual well-researched one-on-one conversations, in that it’s completely spontaneous, since I never know the identities of my guests until their eyes alight on my donuts and they choose themselves.

In 2016, listeners were able to eavesdrop on the Readercon Donut Spectacular, then in 2017 the Balticon Donut Extravaganza, in 2018 the Nebula Awards Donut Jamboree, and in 2019 — before the pandemic forced me to take a break from such things — the StokerCon Donut Spooktacular.

Because Capclave — which ended the day before yesterday as this episode goes live — not only has a patio, but this year, unlike last, had weather warm enough for us to gather there, I was able to bring back that tradition. On Saturday afternoon, I sat down out on the patio with two boxes of donuts from Donut King in Kensington, Maryland, and waited for potential guests to materialize.

So join us during the lightning-round Capclave Donut Carnival, where you’ll hear R. Z. Held and me bond over rejection, David Hacker explain his love of listening to writers read, Michael Dirda recall why Orson Scott Card once kneeled before him on an elevator, James Morrow share his fascination with Charles Darwin, how Katy Lewis found her husband through Dungeons and Dragons, Michael Walsh’s favorite moment as a con chair (which involved Howard Waldrop, Gardner Dozois, and George R. R. Martin), Bill Lawhorn clarify the creation of the bronze dodo, Sarah Pinsker reveal how and why her first science fiction convention was Capclave, Adeena Mignogna explain why space is cool but space travel gets really hot, Mike Zipzer’s memories of Terry Pratchett’s surprise visit, Sarah Mitchell’s arranging of a secret con wedding, Sunny Moraine opine on how the world’s response to COVID-19 changes our ideas of what would happen in a real-world zombie apocalypse, John Pomeranz chat about how the infamous Disclave Great Flood thrust him into being a hotel liaison — and much more!

(14) WOOF 2023. [Item by Rich Lynch.] WOOF(the Worldcon Order Of Faneditors) will have a collation at the upcoming Worldcon in Chengdu.  This year’s Official Editor (OE) is Don Eastlake. 

WOOF is an amateur press association (apa) that has been a feature of Worldcons since 1976 thanks to its originator, the late Bruce Pelz.  For those who will be attending this year’s Worldcon, there will be a WOOF collection box at the Worldcon for printed fanzines.  Alternatively, you can email your WOOFzine as a PDF to <[email protected]>. Your contribution must be received by October 22, Chengdu time. After the deadline passes, the OE will collate all fanzines received into a single PDF document and this assembled mailing will then be made available for download and viewing at efanzines.com, where several previous mailings of WOOF are now archived.  (It’s not yet known if there will be any printed copies.)

(15) CHENGDU WORLDCON ROUNDUP. [By Ersatz Culture.]

Procedure for Chengdu bid supporters to be able to enter the lottery https://weibo.com/5726230680/NmqACu8fo

Following on from recent items, File 770 commenter Adaoli has documented the process that (Chinese?) supporters of the Chengdu site selection bid have to go through, in order to enter the lottery to attend any of the main ceremonies.  (I don’t think this particular quirk was mentioned in those earlier updates, because I didn’t — and still don’t — fully grok all the details.)  In my understanding, anyone who had Chengdu membership through supporting that bid — as opposed to buying a new membership or ticket — doesn’t have the purchase number that is necessary to fill in the lottery application, and so they have to go through this process.  Amongst other things, this involves calling a telephone helpline.

Some initial Weibo comments about the apparent lack of foreign/Western guests

Via Google Translate.  Poster’s identities have been removed, as have the names of authors, which has involved some minor editing for readability.  There are multiple comments from certain posters, so I wouldn’t claim that this is a representative sample of Chinese fandom by any means.

  • Guest of honor Lukyanenko did not appear (understandably). The willingness of foreign science fiction people to participate in the conference is indeed too low (visible to the naked eye).  (I suspect that last bit would be more accurately translated as “invisible to the naked eye”.)
  • Many authors who have been inactive for many years have been brought up to make up the number. Foreign guests invited many cartoonists and artists who are not well-known in China. There were only four well-known foreign writers. Yes, this is really embarrassing.
  • There is no publicity outside. When I helped distribute flyers at the Japan Science Fiction Convention in August, many people who sold doujinshi didn’t know it was held in Chengdu.  (FWIW, this poster has Korean hangul characters in their username, and Weibo indicates they posted that comment from a Japanese IP address.)
  • [In] 1991, there were 45 foreign guests at the WSF conference in Chengdu.
  • Let’s not talk about European and American writers. I didn’t see the writers from neighboring Japan, [Names of 8 Japanese writers omitted.]  It feels not much different from domestic science fiction conventions.
  • I checked that there were probably more than 120 foreign guests attending the event in Yokohama 2007. There were approximately 1,210 foreign participants at that conference (the total number of participants was 2,788) 

At time of submitting this item, I’ve not seen any general reaction to the schedule – although as the announcement on Weibo went out at 22:52 local time, I’m hoping there’ll be more commentary tomorrow.

Video posted showing the interior of the con site https://weibo.com/6088652407/4952842881735936

Chengdu-based KanDu News posted this 2:42″ video to Weibo, which is the best look yet at the interior of the con venue.  The opening captions indicate it was filmed yesterday (October 3rd), and there’s clearly a lot of interior construction work still underway.

From 0:30 to 0:55 shows the “Hugo Hall”, which is 4000 square meters. The guy talking indicates there’s something special about the video wall; it looks to be translucent and/or visible from both sides?  The area shown between 0:55 – 01:10 is (I think) the area for the press and media, and is 1000 square meters.  

 The structure shown between 1:35 and 2:20 seems like it’s a reproduction of something from the Wandering Earth 2 film, although I haven’t seen that, so I’m unclear what exactly it is. 

That organization also posted a video yesterday composed of night drone shots of the exterior — https://weibo.com/6088652407/NmaFNiigG.

Tibet Airlines magazine interview https://weibo.com/6045346855/NlSyioyiG

Via the Weibo account of Chengdu SF publisher 8 Light Minutes, (what I assume is) the October issue of the in-flight magazine of Tibet Airlines has a 6-page interview with Best Editor (Short Form) finalist Yang Feng, with various photos relating to the history of Chinese SF and the upcoming Worldcon

(16) WE APOLOGISE FOR ANY INCONVENIENCE. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] A time-loop, Groundhog Day-type audio play on BBC Radio 4, “We Apologise for Any Inconvenience.”

The being-trapped-in-a-repeating-time-loop trope has an early exemplar film in Groundhog Day (1993) but that was decidedly fantasy.

The SF version was 12:01 (1993) in which the loop was caused by technology. However, the trope’s provenance does not begin there: there was the earlier, Oscar short-listed, short film, 12:01 (1990) which in turn was based on the short story ’12:01 P.M.’ (1973) by Dick Lupoff (who sadly died in 2020).

Alas, challenging Hollywood as to potential plagiarism is arguably hard: it has deep pockets. But you can’t keep a good trope treatment down, and the idea of being stuck in a recurring time loop has been used in a fairly recent Star Trek series as well as an episode of Stargate as well as elsewhere.

And now the BBC has just gotten in on the act with a play on Radio 4 this week: We Apologise for Any Inconvenience, only this time, the principal protagonists are not those actually stuck in the loop themselves but others who happen to encounter the hapless looper that day… 

Sebastian Baczkiewicz’s drama takes us to an anonymous northern station at the heart of the rail network on the day everything grinds to a halt. Hundreds of lives go into limbo but one person claims to have been stuck there longer than anyone else. Will his groundhog day ever end? 

You can listen to it here.

(17) TOP STREAMING. JustWatch lists the top 10 most streamed movies and TV shows for the month of September.

(18) OVER 20K YEARS OLD. A U.S. Geological Survey “Study confirms age of oldest fossil human footprints in North America”.

In September 2021, U.S. Geological Survey researchers and an international team of scientists announced that ancient human footprints discovered in White Sands National Park were between 21,000 and 23,000 years old. This discovery pushed the known date of human presence in North America back by thousands of years and implied that early inhabitants and megafauna co-existed for several millennia before the terminal Pleistocene extinction event. In a follow-up study, published today in Science, researchers used two new independent approaches to date the footprints, both of which resulted in the same age range as the original estimate. 

The 2021 results began a global conversation that sparked public imagination and incited dissenting commentary throughout the scientific community as to the accuracy of the ages. 

“The immediate reaction in some circles of the archeological community was that the accuracy of our dating was insufficient to make the extraordinary claim that humans were present in North America during the Last Glacial Maximum. But our targeted methodology in this current research really paid off,” said Jeff Pigati, USGS research geologist and co-lead author of a newly published study that confirms the age of the White Sands footprints….

In addition to the pollen samples, the team used a different type of dating called optically stimulated luminescence, which dates the last time quartz grains were exposed to sunlight. Using this method, they found that quartz samples collected within the footprint-bearing layers had a minimum age of ~21,500 years, providing further support to the radiocarbon results…

(19) VIDEO OF THE DAY. Ryan George is there when “The Eggplant Emoji Finds Out” what everybody uses it for.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Chris Barkley, Cat Eldridge, Kathy Sullivan, Scott Edelman, Joe Siclari, Rich Lynch, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, and Ersatz Culture for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Soon Lee.]

Ralph Lundsten (1936-2023): Cosmic Composer

Ralph Lundsten

By Ahrvid Engholm: I think the cosmic composer, friend of fandom, Ralph Lundsten was more appreciated abroad than in Sweden. For instance, folks of the national radio were sour when he hosted the popular “Summer” show and broke an unwritten rule by playing only his own songs… He never hid his talent under the bushel and that won’t go down well in the Jante Law land.*

Ralph Lundsten was born far up north, from which he acquired the calm, common sense and love of nature of the northerners. But deciding to move to Stockholm at young age 15, he also showed initiative and being enterprising.

The first time he heard a violin concert on radio, he said in an interview, he immediately bought musical note paper and began writing his own concert… His first electronic music was made with a tape recorder on which he recorded strange sounds and then cut and glued with small tape pieces. He helped creating the famous Electronic Music Studio (EMS) in Stockholm reflected in his debut on record, EMS Nr 1 (1966, see also “Elektron Musik Studion, Dokumentation 1-4”, 1966-1973). And he was early with building his own electronic instruments and synthesizers, being much of a pioneer. The better equipment he acquired the less “concrete and dissonant” his music became and he developed a style of a broad “sound carpet” of soft meditative thoughtfulness, often inspired by nature and love.

I first met Ralph when a local sf club was invited to make a much-appreciated visit to his magnificent home Villa Frankenburg around 1980, his pink “castle of wood” just east of Stockholm. It was a dump when he took over and he spent many years renovating it to a magnificent site of cosmic dreams and fantasy, which included his own advanced electronic Andromeda Studio. I remember between sipping tea we could try his Andromatic love synthesizer, which produced sounds as we touched each other. I know he loved science fiction. He had shelves of skiffy books and named albums after A. E. Van Vogt, Cordwainer Smith and others. We also had Ralph guesting at conventions a few times.

Art magazines and TV shows would make colorful reports from his cosmic castle. He often talked about space and liked to call himself an ambassador of Andromeda. If someone had a cosmic mind, it was Ralph Lundsten!

And he had his own fan club, Andromeda Fan Society, which every summer was invited to a big gathering at Ralph’s with music, ballet (he wrote many ballet pieces), cakes, and relaxation. Ralph Lundsten also entered the Guinness Book of Records as composer of history’s most played “jingle”. A piece of his “Out in the Wide World” was for decades played hundreds of times every hour as the intermission signal of Radio Sweden’s international broadcasts – a total of over 4 million times!

There is a lot of Ralph Lundsten’s music on e.g. Youtube. Just enter him into the search box.

I think I’ve cracked his secret: despite seeming so relaxed and easy going, when nobody watched — he was a workaholic! Over 100 records (in all different editions), 700 opuses, dozens of films (often experimental, some award winning), years creating his Frankenburg home, exhibitions, time for his fan club and much more — it all speaks for itself. This busy bee became 86 years young, beginning his trip to space July 5th.

And BTW, he was a reader of my fanzine. I note a LoC from him, April 2019, though only saying “Thanks!” it sufficient for a message from a galaxy far, far away…

* Law of Jante: “You’re not to think you are anything special” etc. 


More about Ralph Lundsten (in English):

RIP: Hans Sidén, Gothenburg Fandom Founder, Mingled With The Stars

Hans Sidén in the Sixties.

By Ahrvid Engholm: Maths Claesson hardly had time to get below 37C when we had more sad news: one of the founders of Swedish fandom, journalist Hans Sidén (1935-2023) went to the eternal Gafia on June 24, aged 87. Our historical trufandom slowly dies as the fen who created it kick the rocket-bucket one by one.

An 18-year-old Hans Sidén was one of the founders of our fifth oldest sf club, the only one still active, Gothenburg’s Club Cosmos launched in 1954. (#1 was Atom-Noak 1945, #2 Strate Organisation 1949, #3 was Futura 1950, #4 was club Meteor 1952).

He, Lars-Erik Helin and Gabriel Setterborg co-edited Sweden’s #2 fanzine Cosmos News (1954, #1 was Vår Rymd 1952). He wrote a lot about sf and fandom in the papers, a few books, and generally covered modern culture, especially rock music, movies, comics and popular literature.

Mr Sidén was there as it happened, as stated in his photo book The Boy With the Paisley Shirt (2021 in English with a vinyl single, available on Amazon):

Beatles, Stones, Who, Kinks, Hendrix, Dusty and Tages – the music explosion of the 60’s in Gothenburg seen through the lens of Hans Sidén’s camera. He sat so close to the band that he could’ve leaned forward and touched Lennon’s shoes when The Beatles played Cirkus in October 1963. He bantered with Rolling Stones in a hotel room, went to the discoteque with The Who and had dinner with The Troggs. He hitched a ride with Tages to Stockholm and with The Hep Stars to Borås, served Cat Stevens home made pizza, lent stacks of Tamla Motown and Stax singles to English DJ Clem Dalton and hung around every soundcheck when the stars came to town. Journalist, illustrator and author Hans Sidén had front row tickets to the music scene in Gothenburg, Sweden all through the sixties and happened to bring his cameras.

That beats touching Erik Andersson’s shoes when he filked or drinking tea as Steve Sem-Sandberg howled and owled!

A younger Hans Sidén poses with a prop from the film “This Island Earth”

I met Sidén a few times. A nice fellow how knew a lot about popular culture. Though he wasn’t too fanactive in older days, earlier he was often one of rather few to report from out conventions to outsiders. An example from Göteborgs Handels och Sjöfartstidning Sep 23 1967.

Science Fiction Meet

Around 40 sf aficionados from the whole Nordic area gathers this spring in Gothenburg for a convention. It’ll be the 12th convention of its kind and it’s arranged by the supporters of the field in Gothenburg, who call the event Götcon 1, as it’s the first time Gothenburg has this honour. Among the topics of the convention we note sf (science fiction) subjects in today’s culture, sf Vs fantasy (scientifically impossible fiction), information on foreign sf and fandom (sf fans). Films are shown and records are played, among them Orson Welles’ War of the Worlds. An award, Alvar, is also handed out. The adventures take place in the Björngårds Villa and visits of several famous friends of sf are expected.

Gabriel Setterborg here covers how Club Cosmos was founded, noting eg how the young Hans Sidén at that time already “subscribed to several American sf magazines”. Subscribing to foreign mags was rather advanced for a boy hardly out of high school. For one thing there was currency export restrictions.

Hans Sidén was a legend!

Bertil Falk’s Space Opera Prize

Bertil Falk. Photo by Ahrvid Engholm.

By Ahrvid Engholm: As our greatest advocate of space opera turns 90 years old today, May 21 (when writing this) — talking about Bertil Falk, of course —  writer, reporter, editor, scholar, translator — I’ve taken the initiative to announce a space opera prize named in his honor.

It’s aimed at Swedish writers, but here’s an idea for others: run your amazing space opera story through a translation service, those are getting very good these days with AI help! It’d be interesting if someone would experiment with it. (It won’t be disqualified.)

The Bertil Falk’s Space Opera Prize offers eternal glory, a diploma and an as yet unknown cash prize. (The prize will be crowdfunded. Another experiment…)

Bertil has done just about everything since, but had his first story published in the Stockholms-Tidningen newspaper in 1946 when he was 12! His “Trip to Space” is available here in Swedish and also in English translation: “Bertil Falk: From ‘A Space Hobo’ to ‘Finnegans Wake’”.

Besides translating the “untranslatable” James Joyce classic Finnegans Wake, he’s written a heap of books (recently a huge 3-volume history of Swedish sf), worked as publisher, magazine editor (JVM, DAST Magazine), journalist and more. 

But his first love as a little boy was those silly, daydreaming — as school teachers complained loudly! — space stories in our local pulp Jules Verne Magasinet, especially the colorful adventures of Captain Future. In later years he visited Leigh Brackett (herself a master of space opera!) and Edmond Hamilton (the main culprit behind Captain Future) and published Hamilton’s space hero in JVM and in a separate volume.

 An additional reason for a space fiction prize is that so much is happening in space right now! NASA returns to the Moon. SpaceX builds the biggest rocket in history (also reusable) ultimately aiming for Mars. Europe builds a new telescope with an eye big as a hockey rink, meanwhile the Webb space telescope takes the sharpest pictures ever. China builds a space station, and also aims for the Moon (with India, Japan and others to follow). We have rovers on Mars, take pictures of Black Holes, crash into comets, see Captain Kirk take a real space jump, have AIs to find ET phoning home. Even little Sweden now builds a launch pad for satellites, with first shot expected within a year.

The space fiction of yesterday is becoming real!

To enter Bertil Falk’s Space Opera Prize contest, send your space opera story (simply defined as a science fiction story set in space) nomination to [email protected] no later than September 21. Any length admissible. It must have been published in 2022, but yet unpublished work may also be nominated — in that case you must attach it. A jury will be formed, and it will also look on its own accord for stories that may be awarded.

You can also apply for a jury job at the E-address. Recap your connection to space and if you have been into writing space fiction yourself. At the same time all space fans are urged to make a small donation to (though I believe it’ll be more complicated or foreigners) my Handelsbanken account 330 334 578 and tell [email protected] that. Donors will be officially thanked, but you may be anonymous if you wish.

And Bertil, congratulations!

Your space dreams from boyhood are turning real.

Bicycles, Fans and a Propeller: Memories of Maths Claesson (1959-2023)

By Ahrvid Engholm: I’ve known Maths Claesson for — if I calculate it correctly — 43 years. He was an energetic fan, a BNF if there ever was one, a major fanzine publisher cranking the Värnamo (his original hometown) fandom Khuken Olsson mimeo, long time SF-Bookstore pillar (the last few years the chain’s CEO) and also author of the YA book series about a boy named Linux longing for riding a rocket to space.

But some my adventures with him was on bicycle. Out of many episodes, here are two.

The first time I met him was when he and fannish friends Glenn and Thomas took their Volvo to an sf con in Stockholm, August 1980. As the fannish tradition is to find non-locals free crash space (it’s a proud, lonely and economically challenging thing to be a fan…) I could arrange for our bunch to stay the night in the SFSF HQ, at legendary 45 Pioneer Street, also housing the first SF Bookstore. I was on bicycle and they followed in their car. I rode the wheels like a rocket and Maths complained they had a hard time keep up! I had a beanie and they could see its propeller spinning wildly at a distance…

Another memory. Sweden has a state-owned alcohol monopoly. At the time their shops closed at 6pm and it was closed during weekends. If you missed the hours, you were out of luck. We a group of fen planned a weekend sailing excursion in the Stockholm archipelago. Friday at ten to six we found that the Hornstull blog shop to our horror had a computer error and couldn’t sell us the hot dog grilling accessories! Me and Maths hit our bikes for a Tour de Fans dash to save the weekend! We reached it 5:59 breathing heavily. I remember having some Hungarian Tokaj as the sun set on the island and the fire glowed and crackled.

His demise of cancer at the much too young age of 64 (May 7, survived by wife and two genetical offsprings) was deemed important enough for national TV’s “Culture News” to cover it (circa 5 minutes in; use a VPN).

Just a short note: Maths did a lot for sf and fandom, but the SF Bookstore he didn’t found. It started already in 1977 by the Scandinavian SF Association (involving e.g. Stieg Larsson!) on Pioneer Street, the legendary place of fannish lore, where we headef that August evening…

Pixel Scroll 1/29/23 Have Spindizzy, Will Travel

(1) LOST HISTORY, LOST FUTURE. None of the participants in the recent Facebook kerfuffle are mentioned by name, however, have no doubt that is what’s on Brian Keene’s mind in his latest newsletter: “Letters From the Labyrinth 318”.

…I don’t like what social media is doing to us, as a community. I don’t like watching authors and editors in their seventies who once contributed so many important things to our industry now destroying their legacies because their valid fears of being forgotten by the genre’s historical memory have led to misplaced anger due to generational views and the toxic stew of false logic they got from sketchy Facebook posts and talk radio. I don’t like watching writers in their thirties who have inherited this industry dispensing mob justice at the click of a button without pausing to think how it might hurt others who are listening. Speaking truth to power is something that should always be done. But that truth gets muted when everyone is speaking at once, and it’s hard to hear or discern wisdom in the midst of collective braying. I don’t like promising writers in their teens and early twenties, brimming with talent, that the sky is still the limit and yes, if they keep writing and keep submitting, they, too, can have this career… because I no longer believe that is true. They are entering the field at a time when, thanks to social media and technology, every single person in the world is a published writer, and not only do they have to compete with the entire population, they’ll now have to compete with A.I. as well.

So many people seem to have lost their empathy. So many people seem unable to pause, or just walk away. Everyone has to get that last post or Tweet or shot in, and for someone sitting here in the middle of it all, it’s just so very exhausting….

(2) COMICS BC. [Item by Soon Lee.] Colleen Doran who adapted the lovely Neil Gaiman short story “Chivalry” to comics has written a wonderful article about the process of turning the prose story into a graphic novel. Doran shares shoutouts in the graphic novel to the predecessors of modern Western comics. “Sequential art predates Action Comics #1.” The Bayeux Tapestry being an example of this. “Neil Gaiman’s CHIVALRY: From Illuminated Manuscripts to Comics”.

Action Comics popularized sequential art book storytelling that had already appeared in other forms in fits and starts throughout history. Comic books didn’t take off as a popular medium for several reasons, not least of which was the necessary printing process hadn’t been invented yet and it’s hard to popularize – and commercialize – something most people can never see. 

You find sequential art in cave paintings and in Egyptian hieroglyphics. I’ve read that comics (manga) were invented by the Japanese in 12th century scrolls….

(3) MILLIONS OF VOICES SUDDENLY CRIED OUT. “World of Warcraft to go offline in China, leaving millions of gamers bereft” reports the Guardian.

Millions of Chinese players of the roleplaying epic World of Warcraft (WoW) will bid a sad farewell to the land of Azeroth, with the game set to go offline after a dispute between the US developer Blizzard and its local partner NetEase.

Massively popular worldwide, particularly in the 2000s, WoW is an online multiplayer role-playing game set in a fantasy medieval world. It is known for being immersive and addictive, and players can rack up hundreds of hours of game time.

Blizzard’s games have been available in China since 2008 through collaboration with NetEase. Under local law, foreign developers are required to partner with Chinese firms to enter the market.

But after 14 years and millions of players in China, the two firms announced in November that talks over renewing their operating contract had failed to lead to an agreement. As a result, WoW’s Chinese servers will go offline at midnight local time on Tuesday.

Other popular titles by the Californian developer – one of the world’s biggest – will experience the same fate, including OverwatchDiablo III and Hearthstone.

“It’s the end,” wrote one Weibo user, accompanied by crying emojis.

“It was not just a game. It was also the memories of a whole generation” of young Chinese, another wrote.

“The two companies have taken players hostage,” said Wu, a 30-year-old doctoral student and a longtime fan….

(4) WANTS TO CUT THE FLOW OF $$$ TO ROWLING. InThem’s view “Hogwarts Legacy Continues to Make Enemies in the Gaming World”.

With two weeks still to go before the release of Hogwarts Legacy, the controversial video game is getting even more derision in gamer circles, both for making J.K. Rowling richer, and for looking like crap in the process.

On January 22, moderators on the gaming forum ResetEra announced that going forward, no discussion of Hogwarts Legacy would be permitted on the site. The forum previously barred “promotional” discussion of the game in 2021, but mods explained that they decided to implement a blanket ban after assessing the full situation.

“After continued internal discussion, we began to start outlining the issues put forth by Rowling and the game in question and each time, and as we discussed it all, we kept coming back to the simple fact that Rowling is not only a bigot but is actively pushing, in her position as a wealthy and famous individual, for legislation that will hurt trans people,” wrote site moderator B-Dubs in the announcement post. “Therefore, the mod team has decided to expand our prior ban on promotion for the Hogwarts game to include the game itself.”….

(5) WILL MEN BLOW A FUSE? “Toni Collette’s new Prime Video thriller series sounds electrifying” says TechRadar.

…Starring Toni Collette (Knives Out, Hereditary), Auli’i Cravalho (Moana), and Toheeb Jimoh (Ted Lasso season 3), the forthcoming Prime Video thriller series will aim to shock audiences with a worldwide tale based around gender imbalance and a single superpower.

Based on Naomi Alderman’s best-selling novel of the same name, The Power takes place in a world not unlike our own. However, one fateful day, teenage girls across the globe suddenly develop the ability to electrocute people at will. This nature-based power is hereditary, there’s no ‘cure’ for it and, most important of all, wielders can awaken the same power in their older mothers, sisters, cousins, and grandmothers.

Unsurprisingly, the emergence of this superpower leads to complete reversal of gender-based power balance in the world. Soon enough, the sparks of revolution are ignited, and men are quickly viewed as the lesser of humankind’s genders. The fallout that follows, then, will be as dramatic, suspense-filled, and electrifying as you can imagine….

(6) TRADITION DEFENDED. Ahrvid Engholm protests Chicon 8’s apology for their having initially called a panel “The Fannish Inquisition”. (Swedish, followed by English translation.) “The new heights of stupidity”.

…This “complaint” from only one (“the member who brought it to our attention”) reaches stratospheric heights in humorlessness and intolerance in claiming to be sensitive to the use of a simple word like “inquisition”. Have a look at HC Andersen’s story about The Princess and the Pea..  

If a tiny articulation of claimed uneasiness may decide what others can express, freedom of speech is in grave danger, and obviously once language is put  in a cage freedom of thought hangs loose.

We must stop this trend that anyone, who states feeling “uncomfortable” with what others say, have the right to silence them.

A well known historical institution, hundreds of years ago (are you going to tear out those pages in history books?), used as a cheerful gag would “understandably” (no, no one understands!) be “offensive” (no, it’s an innocent joke!)…

(7) WESCHING OBITUARY. Actress Annie Wersching has died of cancer at the age of 45 reports Collider.

Annie Wersching, the actress who brought to life a number of fan-favorite TV characters has sadly passed away today. Wersching most recently appeared as the villainous Borg Queen in Season 2 of Star Trek: Picard, a role that saw her return to the Star Trek franchise in a much bigger capacity a decade after initially making her Star Trek debut in a guest role in Star Trek: Enterprise. Wersching also had roles in popular TV shows such as 24Bosch, and The Vampire Diaries. Away from TV, Wersching was a big part of the fast-rising The Last of Us franchise. She lent her voice and performed motion capture for the beloved role of non-player character Tess who was recently brought to live action on the HBO series by Anna Torv. Wersching was 45 years old at the time of her death.

(8) MEMORY LANE.

2019 [Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

Neil Gaiman’s The Ocean at the End of the Lane is about a man who’s never named who returns to his hometown for a funeral and remembers events that began forty years earlier. The remembrance of those events triggers something in the present of a horrific nature, and I’ll say no more in case some Filers here haven’t read it. 

The illustrated edition of the work was published in 2019, featuring the artwork of Australian Elise Hurst, a fine artist and author, specialising in children’s books.

Dinner was wonderful. There was a joint of beef, with roast potatoes, golden-crisp on the outside and soft and white inside, buttered greens I did not recognize, although I think now that they might have been nettles, toasted carrots all blackened and sweet (I did not think that I liked cooked carrots, so I nearly did not eat one but I was brave, and I tried it, and I liked it, and was disappointed in boiled carrots for the rest of my childhood.) For dessert there was the pie, stuffed with apples and with swollen raisins and crushed nuts, all topped with a thick yellow custard, creamier and richer than anything I had ever tasted at school or at home.

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born January 29, 1913 Victor Mature. He’s best remembered for his first leading role, as a fur-clad caveman in One Million B.C., and until he showed up on Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea as Sparks in the “Deadly Creatures Below!” episode, which I’m reasonably sure is his only genre role. (Died 1999.)
  • Born January 29, 1918 Robert Pastene. He played the title role in the first televised Buck Rogers series on ABC that also had Kem Dibbs and Eric Hammond in that role. 35 episodes were made, none survive. As near as I can tell, his only other SFF performance was on the Out There and Lights Out series. (Died 1991.)
  • Born January 29, 1923 Paddy Chayefsky. In our circles known as the writer of the Altered States novel that he also wrote the screenplay for. He is the only person to have won three solo Academy Awards for Best Screenplay. The other winners of three Awards shared theirs. He did not win for Altered States though he did win for Network which I adore and might well be genre. (Died 1981.)
  • Born January 29, 1940 Katharine Ross, 83. Her first genre work was as Joanna Eberhart in The Stepford Wives, scary film that. She shows up next as Helena in The Swarm and plays Margaret Walsh in The Legacy, both horror films. The Final Countdown sees her in the character of Laurel Scott.  And Dr. Lilian Thurman is her character in the cult favorite Donnie Darko. I’m fairly sure that the only genre series she’s done is on The Wild Wild West as Sheila Parnell in “The Night of the Double-Edged Knife”, and she did an episode of Alfred Hitchcock Presents as well. 
  • Born January 29, 1945 Tom Selleck, 78. Setting aside the matter of if Magnum P.I. is genre which some of you hold to be true, he was Sgt. Jack R. Ramsay in Runaway which is most definitely SF.  He recently did some voice acting by being Cornelius, Lewis’ older self, in the animated Meet the Robinsons film, and he showed up as himself in the “What Do You Want to Be When You Grow Up?” of the Muppet Babies nearly forty years ago. And now in his thirteenth year as Commissioner Frank Reagan on the Blue Bloods series on Paramount+. 
  • Born January 29, 1958 Jeph Loeb, 64. His first comic writing work was on the Challengers of the Unknown vol. 2 #1 in 1991 with Tim Sale. He’d go on to win three Eisners for his work for Batman/The Spirit #1, Batman: The Long Halloween and Batman: Dark Victory. And he’s also a producer/writer on such genre series such as SmallvilleLostHeroes and Teen Wolf.
  • Born January 29, 1970 Heather Graham, 53. Best known SF role was no doubt Dr. Judy Robinson on the Lost on Space film. She played also Felicity Shagwell that year in Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me. And she was Annie Blackburn on Twin Peaks.
  • Born January 29, 1988 Catrin Stewart, 35. Jenny Flint in five episodes of Doctor Who. She was the wife of Madame Vastra and the friend of Strax (informally known as the Paternoster Gang) who appeared first during the Eleventh Doctor and last during the Twelfth Doctor. Big Finish has continued them in their audiobooks. She also played Stella in two episodes of the Misfits series, and was Julia in a performance of 1984 done at London Playhouse a few years back.

(10) COMICS SECTION.

  • Lio makes the scene with a frozen Gort.
  • Dick Tracy is starting another (or repeat?) Little Orphan Annie arc.
  • The Far Side has some genre career counseling.
  • Tom Gauld is keeping busy.

(11) FREE READ. Sunday Morning Transport shares “Tears Waiting to Be Diamonds: Part Two” by Sarah Rees Brennan.

Sarah Rees Brennan’s “Tears Waiting to Be Diamonds, Part One,” our first story of January 2023, brought us news from the Other Lands and absolutely blew our socks off. Now, as January comes to a close, we hope you enjoy Part Two of “Tears Waiting to Be Diamonds,” with all the joys and surprises that entails. ~ Julian and Fran, January 29, 2023

(12) YEAR ENDS WITH A BANG. Joe Stech of Compelling Science Fiction shares his picks for the “Top science fiction short stories published in December”. At number one:

The top story for the month of December (and therefore our t-shirt winner!) is Murder by Pixel: Crime and Responsibility in the Digital Darkness by S.L. Huang. The story is a fun and insightful piece of fictitious journalism. It’s rare that I see near-future AI stories that really feel true-to-life and are also page-turners, Huang knocked this one out of the park.

(13) BRINGING IN THE NEW YEAR. The new episode of the Anime Explorations Podcast is up, where in honor of Lunar New Year, they discuss a Japanese/Taiwanese co-production with the first season and movie of Thunderbolt Fantasy. “Thunderbolt Fantasy Season 1 + The Blade of Life & Death”.

This month, David, Tora and Alexander Case are taking a look at the first season & film of Thunderbolt Fantasy for Lunar New Year.

Thunderbolt Fantasy is available on Crunchyroll: https://www.crunchyroll.com/series/GY75KE906/thunderbolt-fantasy

(14) REMEMBERING AN ICONIC GAME CONSOLE. Lego supplies 2,532 pieces that add up to a replica of the Atari 2600 and some of the paraphernalia.

Take a trip back to the 1980s with this LEGO Atari 2600 (10306) building set for adults. Enjoy a rewarding project creating all the details of this replica console, replica game ‘cartridges’ and joystick. Gaming fans will love the 3 mini builds depicting themes from 3 popular Atari games. There’s even a hidden 1980s scene to build for total nostalgia overload. Rediscover 3 of the most popular Atari games: Asteroids, Adventure and Centipede. There’s a replica ‘cartridge’ for each, plus 3 scenes to build capturing the story of each game. The games slot into the vintage-style console and can be stored in the cartridge holder. Check out the artwork, inspired by the original Atari designs plus a touch of LEGO spirit. This collectible building set makes an immersive project for you or a top gift idea for gamers.

(15) TERMINATOR GENESIS? CNN has video of the earliest ancestor of the T-1000 “Liquid Metal” bot. At the link: “Video: This tiny shape-shifting robot can melt its way out of a cage”.

Researchers took gallium, a metal with a low melting point, and embedded it with magnetic particles to create a robot that can melt and move. Their inspiration? A sea cucumber.

(16) COMPATIBLE QUARTERS FOR NOVELISTS. A Penguin blogger evaluates “The best places to write your novel according to authors: tried and tested”. For some, a hotel is perfect.

…Agatha Christie ostensibly wrote Murder on the Orient Express at the Pera Palace Hotel in Istanbul, while Maya Angelou used to write on hotel beds for months at a time. Ashdown Park Hotel is set right on the edge of the forest where Winnie the Pooh himself was born, and there are some cute nods to the Bear of Very Little Brain outside the hotel’s restaurant. Pooh and Angelou: I was in good company…

(17) VIDEO OF THE DAY. The Season 3 official trailer forStar Trek: Picard dropped today.

The stakes have never been higher as Star Trek: Picard boldly goes into its third and final season. Jonathan Frakes, Brent Spiner, LeVar Burton, Gates McFadden, Marina Sirtis, and Michael Dorn of Star Trek: The Next Generation join series star Patrick Stewart for an epic adventure.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Chris Barkley, Andrew Porter, Soon Lee, Todd Mason, Daniel Dern, Alexander Case, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, and Mike Kennedy for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]

Never Mind The News – File 770’s Best Feature Articles of 2022

People writing about the issues they care about is what keeps this community going. It’s a gift and privilege for me to be continually allowed to publish so many entertaining posts rich in creativity, humor, and shared adventures. Thanks to all of you who contributed to File 770 in 2022!

FEATURES

Melanie Stormm — Emails From Lake Woe-Is-Me: Links To Every Installment

Stormm continued her humorous series about the misdirected emails she gets from Writer X throughout 2022, braiding together comedy, horror, and the pitfalls of being a writer.

Jeffrey Smith — A Bibliography of Jules Verne Translations

…Thinking about Jules Verne, with the new TV version of Around the World in Eighty Days about to start, I just bought the Wesleyan edition of Five Weeks in a Balloon, translated by Frederick Paul Walter – after researching what the good modern translations of Verne are. Verne has been abysmally translated into English over the years, but there’s been a push to correct that….

Joel Zakem Religious Aspects of DisCon III’s Opening Ceremonies

…  It was on FaceBook where I first saw friends’ posting about Opening Ceremonies. According to what was posted, some of the musical selections performed by students from the Duke Ellington School spotlighted the religious aspects of the Christmas holiday.

My immediate reaction was that this was not an appropriate part of Opening Ceremonies, especially since, as far as I know, the religious aspect of the performance was not contained in the descriptions in any convention publication. The online description of Opening Ceremonies says, in its entirety: “Welcome to the convention. We will present the First Fandom and Big Heart awards, as well as remarks from the Chair.” The December 9, 2021, news release about the choir’s participation did not mention that there would be a religious component to the performance….

Walt Boyes Grantville Gazette Publishes 100th Issue

Whew! We made it. We made it to Issue 100 of the Grantville Gazette. This is an incredible feat by a large group of stakeholders. Thank you, everyone.

I don’t think Eric Flint had any idea what he’d created when he sent Jim Baen the manuscript for 1632. In the intervening two-plus decades, the book he intended to be a one-shot novel has grown like the marshmallow man in Ghostbusters to encompass books from two publishing houses, a magazine (this one, that you are holding in your metaphorical hands) and allowed over 165 new authors to see their first published story in print. The Ring of Fire Universe, or the 1632 Universe, has more than twelve million words published….

Anonymous Note from a Fan in Moscow

This message was written by a fan in Moscow 48 hours ago. It is unsigned but was relayed by a trustworthy source who confirms the writer is happy for it to be published by File 770. It’s a fan’s perspective, a voice we may not hear much….

Borys Sydiuk SFWA Rejects Call to Join Boycott of Russia: A Guest Post by Borys Sydiuk

Right now, when I’m sitting at my desktop and writing this text, a cannonade nearby doesn’t stop. The previous night was scary in Kyiv. Evidently, Russians are going to start demolishing Ukrainian capital like they are doing with Kharkiv, Sumy, Chernihiv, Mariupol.

The Ukrainian SFF Community joined the efforts to isolate Russia, the nazi-country of the 21st century, to force them to stop the war. The boycott by American authors we asked for is also doing the job. Many leading writers and artists of the great United States already joined the campaign.

We appealed to SFWA to also join the campaign, and here is what they replied…

(Two days later the organization issued a SFWA Stands With Ukraine statement.)

Daniel Dern Reading Daily Comic Strips Online

Fortunately, comic-carrying newspapers are, of course, all (also or only) online these days, but even then, some require subscriptions (fair enough), and to get all the ones you want. For example, online, the Washington Post, has about 90, while the Boston Globe is just shy of a paltry one-score-and-ten. And (at least in Firefox), they don’t seem to be visible in all-on-one-page mode, much less customize-a-page-of.

So, for several years now, I’ve been going to the source — two  “syndicates” that sell/redistribute many popular strips to newspapers….

Michaele Jordan Squid Game and Beyond

There’s been a lot of excitement about Squid Game. Everybody’s talking about how clever, original, and utterly skiffy it is. I watched it, too, eagerly and faithfully. But I wasn’t as surprised by it as some. I expected it to be good. I’ve been watching Korean video for ten years, and have only grown more addicted every year.  And yet I just can’t convince many people to watch it with me….

Rich Lynch A Day at the Museum

Let me tell you about my favorite building in Washington, D.C.  It’s the staid old Arts and Industries Building, the second-oldest of all the Smithsonian Institution buildings, which dates back to the very early 1880s and owes its existence to the Smithsonian’s then urgent need for a place where parts of its collection could go on public display….

Mike Glyer What the Heinleins Told the 1950 Census

When we last left the Heinleins (“What the Heinleins Told the 1940 Census”), a woman answering the door at 8777 Lookout Mountain – Leslyn Heinlein, presumably — had just finished telling the 1940 census taker a breathtaking raft of misinformation. Including that her name was Sigred, her husband’s was Richard, that the couple had been born in Germany, and they had a young son named Rolf.

Ten years have passed since then, and the archives of the 1950 U.S. Census were opened to the public on April 1. There’s a new Mrs. Heinlein – Virginia. The 8777 Lookout Mountain house in L.A. has been sold. They’re living in Colorado Springs. What did the Heinleins tell the census taker this time?…

John A Arkansawyer Laser Cats

“In the future, there was a nuclear war. And because of all the radiation, cats developed the ability to shoot lasers out of their mouths.”

On this dubious premise, Laser Cats was founded. By its seventh and final episode, the great action stars and directors of the day had contributed their considerable talents to this highly entertaining, yet frankly ridiculous enterprise. From James Cameron to Lindsey Lohan, Josh Brolin to Steve Martin, Laser Cats attracted the best in the business.

Being part of Saturday Night Live undoubtedly helped….

Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki Announcing the Emeka Walter Dinjos Memorial Award For Disability In Speculative Fiction

The Emeka Walter Dinjos Memorial Award For Disability In Speculative Fiction aims to award disability in speculative fiction in two ways. One, by awarding a writer of speculative fiction for their representation or portrayal of disability in a world of speculative fiction, whatever their health status; and two, by awarding a disabled writer for a work of speculative fiction in general, whatever the focus of the work may be….

Bill Higgins Two Vain Guys Named Robert

Robert Osband, Florida fan, really loves space. All his life he has been learning about spaceflight. And reading stories about spaceflight, in science fiction.

So after NASA’s Apollo program was over, the company that made Apollo space suits held a garage sale, and Ozzie showed up. He bought a “training liner” from ILC Dover, a coverall-like portion of a pressure suit, with rings at the wrists and neck to attach gloves and helmet.

And another time, in 1976, when one of his favorite authors, Robert A. Heinlein, was going to be Guest of Honor at a World Science Fiction Convention, Mr. Osband journeyed to Kansas City.

In his suitcase was his copy of Heinlein’s Have Space Suit, Will Travel—a novel about a teenager who wins a secondhand space suit in a contest—and his ILC Dover suit.

Because if you wanted to get your copy of Have Space Suit, Will Travel autographed, and you happened to own a secondhand space suit, it would be a shame NOT to wear it, right?…

Rich Lynch Remembering Bruce Pelz

… I’m sure that our first face-to-face meeting was in 1979, when my job in industry took me from Chattanooga all the way out to Los Angeles for some much-needed training in electrochemistry.  I didn’t really know anybody in L.A. fandom back then but I did know the address of the LASFS clubhouse, so on my next-to-last evening in town I dropped in on a meeting.  And it was there that I found Bruce mostly surrounded by other fans while they all expounded on fandom as it existed back then and what it might be like a few years down the road.  It was like a jazz jam session, but all words and no music.  I settled back into the periphery, enjoying all the back-and-forth, and when there eventually came a lull in the conversations I took the opportunity to introduce myself.  And then Bruce said something to me that I found very surprising: “Dick Lynch!  I’ve heard of you!”…

Rich Lynch It’s About Time

It was back in 2014 that a student filmmaker at Stephen F. Austin State University, Ricky Kennedy, created an extraordinary short movie titled The History of Time Travel.  Exploration of “what ifs” is central to good storytelling in the science fiction genre and this little production is one of the better examples of how to do it the right way.

Dale Skran Reforming the Short Form Hugo: A Guest Post by Dale Skran

 For a long time, I’ve felt the Short Form Hugo for Best Dramatic Presentation was not properly organized to give an award to the best “Television” SF of the previous year….  

Paul Weimer Review: Neom by Lavie Tidhar

Lavie Tidhar’s Neom is a stunning return to his world of Central Station, twinning the fates of humans and robots alike at a futuristic city on the edge of the Red Sea…. 

Mike Glyer Iron Truth Review

… It is through Joy and Cassimer’s eyes we experience S.A. Tholin’s Iron Truth, a finalist of the Self-Published Science Fiction Competition. If there was ever a case of the cream rising to the top this book is one….

Lis Carey Review of Rocket to the Morgue

… A couple of odd things, though. He had $300 on him, that wasn’t stolen, and an unusual rosary, with what seems to be the wrong number of beads. It’s a puzzle….

Mike Glyer Review: In the Orbit of Sirens

In T. A. Bruno’s In the Orbit of Sirens, a Self-Published Science Fiction Competition finalist, the remnants of the human race have fled the solar system ahead of an alien culture that is assimilating everyone in reach. Loaded aboard a vast colony ship they’re headed for a distant refuge, prepared to pioneer a new world, but unprepared to meet new threats there to human survival that are as great as the ones they left behind.

Mike Glyer Review: Monster of the Dark

On the morning of Carmen Grey’s sixth birthday an armed team arrives to take her from her parents and remove her to the underground facility where Clairvoyants — like her — are held captive and trained for years to access their abilities. So begins Monster of the Dark by K. T. Belt, a finalist in the Self-Published Science Fiction Competition….

Jonathan Cowie Jurassic World Dominion Ultra-Mini-Review

Jurassic World Dominion is another breathless, relentless Hollywood offering: the action and/or special effects never let up…. 

Mike Glyer Review: Duckett and Dyer: Dicks for Hire

G.M. Nair begins Duckett and Dyer: Dicks for Hire by making a surprising choice. His introductory scene explicitly reveals to readers the true nature of the mysterious events that the protagonists themselves uncover only very slowly throughout the first half of the book. The introduction might even be the penultimate scene in the book — which would make sense in a story that is partly about time travel loops. Good idea or bad idea?…

Rogers Cadenhead Review: Captain Wu: Starship Nameless #1

… What sounds like Firefly also describes the SPSFC finalist novel Captain Wu: Starship Nameless #1, a space opera by authors Patrice Fitzgerald and Jack Lyster. I love Firefly so it wasn’t a big leap to climb aboard this vessel….

Olav Rokne Hugo Voting Threshold Reform Proposal

…. It would be exceptionally embarrassing for a Worldcon to have to explain why a finalist would have won the Hugo except for — oops! — this bit of outdated fine print. The best course of action is to eliminate that fine print before such a circumstance arises….

Mike Glyer Review: A Star Named Vega

The social media of the 30th century doesn’t seem so different: teenagers anonymously perform acts of civil disobedience and vandalism to score points and raise their ranking in an internet app. That’s where Aster Vale leads a secret life as the Wildflower, a street artist and tagger, in A Star Named Vega by Benjamin J. Roberts, a Self-Published Science Fiction competition finalist…..

Paul Weimer Review: Babel

R F Kuang’s Babel is an audacious and unrelenting look at colonialism, seen through the lens of an alternate 19th century Britain where translation is the key to magic. Kuang’s novel is as sharp and perceptive as it is well written, deep, and bears reflection upon, after reading, for today’s world….

Paul Weimer Inside the New Uncle Hugo’s: Photos by Paul Weimer 

Paul Weimer went to donate some books at Don Blyly’s new location for Uncle Hugo’s and Uncle Edgar’s bookstores. While he was inside Paul shot these photographs of the bookshelves being stocked and other work in progress.

Michaele Jordan Jordan: Comments on the 2022 Best Novel Hugo Finalists: Part 1 and Jordan: Hugo Finalists for Best Novel, Part 2

Rob Thornton A World of Afrofuturism: Meet Nicole Michell’s “Xenogenesis Suite” (Part I) and A World of Afrofuturism: Creating Nicole Michell’s “Xenogenesis Suite” (Part II)

… Another contributor to the Afrofuturist tradition is Nicole Mitchell, a noted avant-jazz composer and flutist. She chose to take on Octavia Butler’s most challenging works, the Xenogenesis Trilogy, and create the Xenogenesis Suite, a collection of dark and disturbing compositions that reflect the trilogy’s turbulent and complicated spirit….

J. Franklin March Hidden Talents: A Story

Anna carefully arranged the necessary objects around her desktop computer into a pentagon: sharpened pencils, a legal pad, a half-empty coffee cup, and a copy of Science Without Sorcery, with the chair at the fifth point. This done, she intoned the spell that would open the channel to her muse for long enough to write the final pages of her work-in-progress. Then she could get ready for the convention….

Nicholas Whyte Whyte: Comments on the 2022 Hugo Awards Study Committee Report

… In the last five years, the [Hugo Awards Study Committee] [HASC] has changed precisely two words of the Constitution. (Since you asked: adding the words “or Comic” to the title of the “Best Graphic Story” category.) The HASC’s defenders will complain that we had two years of pandemic, and that the committee switched to Discord rather than email only this year, and that there are lots of proposals this year. But the fact remains that so far the practical impact has been slower than I imagined when I first proposed the Committee…..

Michaele Jordan Jordan: 2022 Hugo Finalists for Best Novella

In Michaele Jordan’s overview, she comments on the novellas by Aliette de Bodard, Becky Chambers, Alix E. Harrow, Seanan McGuire, Adrian Tchaikovsky, and Catherynne M. Valente that are up for the 2022 Hugo.

John Hertz Tim Powers Makes Stolen Skies Sweet

… Once we had a lot of science fiction, little fantasy; lately we’ve had a lot of fantasy; so Powers’ writing fantasy does not seem particularly defiant.

His fantasy has generally been — to use a word which may provoke defiance — rigorous. Supernatural phenomena occur, may be predicted, aroused, avoided, as meticulously — a word whose root means fear — as we in our world start an automobile engine or put up an umbrella. Some say this has made his writing distinctive….

Mike Glyer Will E Pluribus Hugo Survive Re-Ratification?

The day of reckoning is here for E Pluribus Hugo.  The change in the way Hugo Awards nominations are counted was passed in 2015 and ratified in 2016 to counter how Sad and Rabid Puppies’ slates dictated most of finalists on the Hugo ballots in those years. It came with a 2022 sunset clause attached, and E Pluribus Hugo must be re-ratified this year in order to remain part of the WSFS Constitution….

Michaele Jordan They’re Back!

Who’s back?” you ask. Spear and Fang, of course! But perhaps you have not heard of Genddy Tartakovsky’s Primal?…

Rich Lynch The Fan Who Had a Disease Named After Him

… His name is Joel Nydahl, and back about the time of that Chicon he was a 14-year-old neofan who lived with his parents on a farm near Marquette, Michigan.  He was an avid science fiction reader and at some point in 1952 decided to publish a fanzine.  It was a good one….

Melanie Stormm Supercharge Your SFF Career With These Ten Tips from Writer X

[Infographic at the link]

Borys Sydiuk Guest Post: Ukrainian Fandom At Chicon 8 [PIC Borys-Sydiuk-584×777]

Friends, on behalf of the Ukrainian Fandom I would like to thank everyone who supports us at this time…

Lis Carey Review: What Abigail Did That Summer (Rivers of London #5.83), by Ben Aaronovitch

… Abigail Kamara, younger cousin of police constable and apprentice wizard Peter Grant, has been left largely unsupervised while he’s off in the sticks on a case. This leaves Abigail making her own decisions when she notices that kids roughly her age are disappearing–but not staying missing long enough for the police to care….

Michaele Jordan Review: Extraordinary Attorney Woo

Friends, let me tell you about one of my favorite TV shows. But I must admit to you up front that it’s not SF/F. Extraordinary Attorney Woo is, as I assume you’ve deduced from the title, a lawyer show. But it’s a KOREAN lawyer show, which should indicate that is NOT run of the mill…. 

Lis Carey Review: Romance of the Grail: The Magic and Mystery of Arthurian Myth by Joseph Campbell

Joseph Campbell was a professor of literature at Sarah Lawrence College, and wrote extensively about comparative mythology. His “hero’s journey” theory has been extremely influential….

Lee Weinstein Gene Autry and The Phantom Empire

The Phantom Empire, a twelve-chapter Mascot serial, was originally released in February, 1935. A strange concoction for a serial, it is at once science fiction film, a Western, and strangely enough, a musical. It was the first real science fiction sound serial and its popularity soon inspired other serials about fantastic worlds….

Kevin Standlee Guest Post: Standlee on the Future of Worldcon Governance

… I find myself explaining the changes to membership in the World Science Fiction Society (WSFS) and the conditions for attending the World Science Fiction Convention that were ratified this year in Chicago (and thus are now in effect, because this was the second vote on the changes)…

Tammy Coxen How the Chicago Worldcon Community Fund Helped People Attend Chicon 8

Chicon 8’s Chicago Worldcon Community Fund (CWCF) program offered both memberships and financial stipends. It was established with the goal of helping defray the expenses of attending Chicon 8 for the following groups of people:

    • Non-white fans or program participants
      • LGBTQIA+ fans or program participants
      • Local Chicago area fans of limited means…

Lis Carey The Furthest Station (Rivers of London #5.5), by Ben Aaronovitch

The London Underground has ghosts. Well, the London Underground always has ghosts, but usually they’re gentle, sad creatures. Lately there’s been an outbreak of more aggressive ghosts….

Sultana Raza Utopias

As environmental problems caused by industrialisation and post-industrialisation continue to increase, the public is looking for ecological solutions. As pandemics, economic crises, and wars plague our society in different ways, thoughts turn to the good old times. But were they really all that good? People are escaping increasingly into fantastical stories in order to find a quantum of solace. But at what point was there a utopia in our society. If so, at what or whose cost did it exist? Whether or not we ever experience living in a utopia, the idea of finally finding one drives us to continue seeking ideal living conditions….

Rich Lynch Three Weeks in October

… Capclave appeared to be equally star-crossed in its next iteration. It was held over the weekend of October 18-20, 2002, and once again the attendees were brought closer together by an event taking place in the outside world. The word had spread quickly through all the Saturday night room parties: “There’s been another shooting.” Another victim of the D.C. Sniper….

Michaele Jordan My Journey to She-Hulk, Attorney at Law

… Why such mixed feelings? On the one hand, I am a huge admirer of Tatiana Maslany. On the other hand, I truly loathe The Hulk….

Daniel Dern — Stephen King’s Fairy Tale: Worth The Read. Another Dern Not-Quite-A-Review

… In Fairy Tale, his newest novel, Stephen King delivers a, cough, grimm contemporary story, explicitly incorporating horror in the, cough, spirit of Lovecraft (King also explicitly namedrops, in the text, August Derleth, and Henry Kuttner), in which high-schooler Charlie Reade becomes involved in things — and challenges — that, as the book and plot progress, stray beyond the mundane….

Lee Weinstein Review: Across the Universe: Tales of Alternative Beatles

The idea of an anthology of science fiction and fantasy stories about the Beatles seems like a natural. I’ve been told the two editors, each unbeknownst to the other, both presented the idea to the publisher around the same time…

Jonathan Cowie SF Museum Exhibition  

The Science Museum (that’s the world famous one in Kensington, London) has just launched a new exhibit on what Carl Sagan once mused (though not mentioned in the exhibit itself) science fiction and science’s ‘dance’. SF2 Concatenation reprographic supremo Tony Bailey and I were invited by the Museum to have a look on the exhibition’s first day. (The exhibition runs to Star Wars day 2023, May the Fourth.) Having braved Dalek extermination at the Museum’s entrance, we made our way to the exhibition’s foyer – decorated with adverts to travel to Gallifrey – to board our shuttle….

Mark Roth-Whitworth KSR and F. Scott Fitzgerald

I was at the 2022 F. Scott Fitzgerald Literary Festival in Rockville, MD today. If you’re wondering why the festival is there, that’s where Fitzgerald and his wife are buried. Now, I’d never read any of Fitzgerald`s writing, so I spent the evening before reading the first three chapters of The Great Gatsby (copyright having expired last year, it’s online). So far, I’ve yet to find anyone in it that I want to spend any time with, including the narrator.

However, the reason I attended was to see Kim Stanley Robinson, who was the special guest at the Festival. The end of the morning’s big event was a conversation between Stan and Richard Powers. Then there was lunch, and a keynote speaker, then Stan introducing Powers to receive an award from the society that throws the annual Festival….

Jonathan Cowie How Long Does It Take an SF Award to Reach Its Recipients?

A recent possible record could be the SF2 Concatenation’s website 2012 Eurocon Award voted on by those at the European SF Society’s convention which, that year, was held in Croatia….

Lis Carey A Night in the Lonesome October by Roger Zelazny: An Audiobook Review

 Snuff is our narrator, here, and he’s a smart, interesting, likable dog. He’s the friend and partner of a man called Jack, and they are preparing for a major event….

A.K. Mulford The Hobbit: A Guest Post by A.K. Mulford

…As a child, I kept a notebook filled with my favorite quotes. (How did I not know I was going to be an author?) The first quote? “Not all who wander are lost.” There was everything from 90s rom com lines to Wordsworth poems in that notebook, but Tolkien filled the most pages….

Lis Carey Review: The October Man by Ben Aaronovitch

This entry in Rivers of London is, for variety, set in Germany, and involves a German river. Or two. And river goddesses….

Lis Carey Review: Ringworld Audiobook

Louis Wu is 200 years old, and he’s bored. It’s his 200th birthday, and he’s using transfer booths to extend the celebration of it for a full twenty-four hours, and he’s really bored….

Michaele Jordan Korean Frights

How can Halloween be over already? We barely had time to watch thirty horror movies –and those mostly classics, which are less than half our (horror) collection!

Paul Weimer Review: The Spare Man

There is a fundamental implausibility to easy manned interstellar (or even interplanetary) space travel that nonetheless remains a seductive idea even in our wiser and more cynical and weary 21st century. …

Lis Carey Review: Alif the Unseen

Alif is a young man, a “gray hat” hacker, selling his skills to provide cybersecurity to anyone who needs that protection from the government. He lives in an unnamed city-state in the Middle East, referred to throughout simply as the City. He’s nonideological; he’ll sell his services to Islamists, communists, anyone….

Ahrvid Engholm Bertil Falk: From “A Space Hobo” to “Finnegans Wake”

Journalist, author, genre historian (and fan, certainly, from the 1940s and on!) Bertil Falk is acclaimed for performing the “impossible” task of translating Finnegans Wake to Swedish, the modernist classic by James Joyce, under the title Finnegans likvaka….

Lis Carey Review: Isle of the Dead / Eye of Cat, by Roger Zelazny

The protagonist of the first short novel in this omnibus — which is in fact Eye of Cat — is William Blackhorse Singer, a Navajo born in the 20th century, and still alive, and fit and healthy, almost two centuries later…. 

Lis Carey Review: Whispers Under Ground (Rivers of London #3)

One fine Monday morning, Peter Grant is summoned to Baker Street Station on the London Underground, to assess whether there was anything “odd,” i.e., involving magic, about the death of a young man on the tracks…. 

Michaele Jordan Again, with the Animé?

…If you’re not a fan, then there’s a real chance you have no idea how much range animé encompasses. And I’m not even talking about the entire range of kid shows, sit-coms and drama. (I’m aware there may be limits to your tolerance. I’m talking about the range within SF/F. Let’s consider just three examples….

Daniel Dern What’s Not Up, Doc (Savage)?

While I subscribe to the practice that, as a rule, reviews and review-like write-ups, if not intended as a piece of critical/criticism, should stick to books the reviewer feels are worth the readers reading, sometimes (I) want to, like Jerry Pournelle’s “We makes these mistakes and do this stuff so you dont have to” techno-wrangling Chaos Manor columns, give a maybe-not-your-cup-of-paint-remover head’s-up. This is one of those….

Rich Lynch Remembering Roger Weddall

It’s been 30 years since the passing of my friend Roger Weddall.  I doubt very many of you reading this had ever met him and I wouldn’t be surprised, actually, if most of you haven’t even heard of him.  Thirty years is a long time and the demographics of fandom has changed a lot.  So let me tell you a little bit about him….

Lis Carey Review: Broken Homes (Rivers of London #4)

Peter Grant and partner Lesley May are at the Folly practicing their magic skills and researching an Oxford dining club called the Little Crocodiles….

Mark Roth-Whitworth Artemis I: A Hugo Contender?

I expect a lot of File 770’s readers watched, as we did, as the Orion capsule returned to Terra. I’m older than some of you, and it’s been decades since I watched a capsule re-entry and landing in the ocean. What had me in tears is that finally, after fifty years, we’re planning to go back… and stay….

Lis Carey Review: The Complete Psychotechnic League, Volume 1

Poul Anderson began writing his own “future history” in the 1950s, with its starting point being that there would be a limited nuclear war at some point in the 1950s. From that point would develop a secret effort to build a new social structure that could permanently prevent war….

Rich Lynch A Genre-Adjacent Essay Appropriate for Today

As the Peanuts cartoon in the newspaper reminds us, today is Ludwig von Beethoven’s birthday…. 

Craig Miller Review: Avatar: The Way of Water

…As with AvatarAvatar: The Way of Water is a visual feast. Unlike the first film, there aren’t long sweeping pans lingering over beautiful, otherworldly vistas. The “beautiful” and the “otherworldly” are still there, but we’re seeing them incorporated into the action and storytelling….

Rich Lynch Remembering Harry

Today we celebrate what would have been the 100th birthday of Harry Warner, Jr., who was perhaps the best-known stay-at-home science fiction fan of all time….

Melanie Stormm On Rambo’s Academy For Wayward Writers (Feat. A Trip in Melanie’s Time Machine)

… I took two classes at The Rambo Academy For Wayward Writers this week, and I’d like to do something a little different.

You see, I’ve got things on my mind that I think you might identify with. You may find it helpful. 

I’d like to tell you exactly why you need to jump over to Cat Rambo’s Patreon & website and sign up right away for everything that looks shiny….

Lis Carey Review: Juniper Wiles and the Ghost Girls

…But having learned that she can see and talk to ghosts, and that they all have unresolved problems they want to solve, she can’t always say no when they ask her for help…. 

Lis Carey Review: Red Scholar’s Wake, by Aliette de Bodard

…Xich Si is a tech scavenger, living in Triệu Hoà Port, and scavenging tech to sell and support herself and her daughter, when she’s captured by pirates. ….

CHRIS BARKLEY

Barkley — So Glad You (Didn’t) Ask: A Column of Unsolicited Opinions #63

My 2022 Hugo Awards Nomination Ballot for the Best Dramatic Presentation Long and Short Form Categories 

Barkley — So Glad You (Didn’t) Ask: A Column of Unsolicited Opinions #65

… When I was growing up, children like myself were taught, no, more like indoctrinated, to think the United States was the BEST place to grow up, that our country was ALWAYS in the right and that our institutions were, for the most part, unassailable and impervious to criticism from anyone, especially foreigners.

I grew up in Ohio in the 1960’s and despite what I was being taught in a parochial Catholic grade school (at great expense, I might add, by my hard-working parents), certain things I was experiencing did not add up. News of the violence and casualties during the Vietnam War was inescapable. I remember watching the evening network news broadcasts and being horrified by the number of people (on all sides of the conflict) being wounded or killed on a daily basis.

As the years went on, it became harder to reconcile all of the violence, terrorism, public assassinations and the racism I was experiencing with the education I was receiving. The Pentagon Papers and the Watergate break-ins coincided with my high school years and the beginnings of my political awakening.

When I look back on those formative days of my life, I see myself as a small child, set out upon a sea of prejudice and whiteness, in a boat of hetero-normaltity, destination unknown….

Barkley — So Glad You (Didn’t) Ask: A Column of Unsolicited Opinions #66

Interrogatives Without Answers: Mercedes Lackey and Stephanie Burke     

Barkley — So Glad You (Didn’t) Ask #68: Two 2022 Hugo Award Finalists Walk Into a Bookstore…

… After I introduced myself to Mr. Weir and Mr. Bell, I said, “You and I have something in common.”

“Oh really? What’s that?”

“You and I are the only 2022 Hugo Award nominees within a hundred-mile radius of this bookstore.” (I stated that because I know that our fellow nominee, Jason Sanford, lives in Columbus, Ohio, hence the reference to the mileage.)…

Barkley — So Glad You (Didn’t) Ask #69

Fandom and the Pendulum: The Astronomicon 13 Fan Guest of Honor Speech

Barkley — So Glad You (Didn’t) Ask #70

Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, A (Spoiler Free) Review 

JAMES BACON

Cosmonaut Solidarity

Despite some very harsh comments from Dmitry Rogozin, the director general of Roscosmos, threatening that “If you block cooperation with us, who will save the ISS from an uncontrolled deorbit and fall into the United States or Europe?” spacefarers seem to have a different perspective and understanding of the importance of international cooperation, respect and solidarity. This appears to have been demonstrated today when three cosmonauts arrived at the International Space Station….  

45 Years of 2000AD

Forty-five years ago or thereabouts, on February  26, 1977, the first ‘prog’ of 2000AD was released by IPC magazines. The second issue dated March 5 a week later saw the debut of Judge Dredd. Since then, Rogue Trooper, Nemesis the Warlock, Halo Jones, Sláine, Judge Anderson, Strontium Dog, Roxy and Skizz, The ABC Warriors, Bad Company and Proteus Vex are just some of the characters and stories that have emanated from the comic that was started by Pat Mills and John Wagner. Some have gone on to be in computer games, especially as the comic was purchased by Rebellion developments in 2000, and Judge Dredd has been brought to the silver screen twice. 

Addictive and enjoyable stories of the fantastic, written and drawn by some of the greatest comic creators of the latter part of the 20th century, they often related to the current, utilizing Science Fiction to obscure issues about violence or subversiveness, but reflecting metaphorically about the now of the time…. 

Fight With Art

“Fight With Art” is an exhibition of Ukrainian Contemporary Art created under exceptional circumstances taking place now in Kraków at the Manggha Museum until April 30. 

We reached out to curator Artur Wabik to learn more of this topical exhibition…

Steve Vertlieb, William Shatner, and Erwin Vertlieb.

STEVE VERTLIEB

The Greatest Motion Picture Scores Of All Time

Traditionally, the start of a new year is a time when film critics begin assembling their lists of the best films, actors, writers, composers, and directors of the past year. What follows, then, while honoring that long-held tradition, is a comprehensive compilation and deeply personal look at the finest film scores of the past nearly one hundred years….

“Don’t Look Up” …Down …Or Around

The frenzy of joyous controversy swirling over director Adam McKay’s new film Don’t Look Up has stirred a healthy, if frenetic debate over the meaning and symbology of this bonkers dramedy. On its surface a cautionary satire about the impending destruction of the planet, Don’t Look Up is a deceptively simplistic tale of moronic leadership refusing to accept a grim, unpleasant reality smacking it in its face. 

Remembering Veronica Carlson (1944-2022)

What follows is truly one of the most personally heartfelt, poignant, and heartbreaking remembrances that I’ve ever felt compelled to write.

Veronica Carlson was a dear, close, cherished friend for over thirty years. I learned just now that this dear sweet soul passed away today. I am shocked and saddened beyond words. May God rest her beautiful soul.

“The Man Who Would Be Kirk” — Celebrating William Shatner’s 91st Birthday

After interviewing William Shatner for the British magazine L’Incroyable Cinema during the torrid Summer of 1969 at “The Playhouse In The Park,” just outside of Philadelphia, while Star Trek was still in the final days of its original network run on NBC, my old friend Allan Asherman, who joined my brother Erwin and I for this once-in-a-lifetime meeting with Captain James Tiberius Kirk, astutely commented that I had now met and befriended all three of our legendary boyhood “Captains,” which included Jim Kirk (William Shatner), Flash Gordon/Buck Rogers (Larry “Buster” Crabbe), and Buzz Corry (Edward Kemmer), Commander of the Space Patrol….

King Kong Opens in Los Angeles on March 24, 1933

Today is the 89th anniversary of the “Hollywood Premiere” of King Kong in Los Angeles on March 24, 1933…

Elmer Bernstein at 100

… The first of the most important music modernists, however, in the post war era and “Silver Age” of film composers was Elmer Bernstein who would, had he lived, be turning one hundred years old on April 4th, 2022.  Although he would subsequently prove himself as able as classic “Golden Age” composers of writing traditional big screen symphonic scores, with his gloriously triumphant music for Cecil B De Mille’s 1956 extravaganza, The Ten Commandments….

R.M.S. Titanic … “A Night To Remember”

… She was just four days into her maiden voyage from Southhampton to New York City when this “Unsinkable” vessel met disaster and finality, sailing into history, unspeakable tragedy, and maritime immortality. May God Rest Her Eternal Soul … the souls of the men, women, and children who sailed and perished during those nightmarish hours, and to all those who go courageously “Down to The Sea in Ships.”  This horrifying remembrance remains among the most profoundly significant of my own seventy-six years….

Seth Macfarlane and “The Orville: New Horizons”

… It is true that Seth MacFarlane, the veteran satirist who both created and stars in the science fiction series, originally envisioned [The Orville] as a semi-comedic tribute to Gene Roddenberry’s venerable Star Trek. However, the show grew more dramatic in its second season on Fox, while it became obvious that MacFarlane wished to grow outside the satirical box and expand his dimensional horizons and ambitions….

A Photographic Memory

…  I was born in the closing weeks of 1945, and grasped at my tentative surroundings with uncertain hands.  It wasn’t until 1950 when I was four years old that my father purchased a strange magical box that would transform and define my life.  The box sat in our living room and waited to come alive.  Three letters seemed to identify its persona and bring definition to its existence.  Its name appeared to be RCA, and its identity was known as television….

I Sing Bradbury Electric: A Loving, Personal Remembrance 

He was a kindly, gentle soul who lived among us for a seeming eternity. But even eternity is finite. He was justifiably numbered among the most influential writers of the twentieth century. Among the limitless vistas of science fiction and fantasy he was, perhaps, second only in literary significance to H.G. Wells who briefly shared the last century with him. Ray Bradbury was, above all else, the poet laureate of speculative fiction….

Celebrating “E.T.” On His 40th Birthday

On June 11, 1982, America and the world received the joyous gift of one of the screen’s most beloved fantasy film classics and, during that memorable Summer, a young aspiring television film critic reviewed a new film from director Steven Spielberg called E.T….

Steve Vertlieb is “Back From The Suture”

…Before I realized it, tables and chairs were being moved and I felt the hands of paramedics lifting me to the floor of the restaurant. Les was attempting to perform CPR on me, and I was drifting off into unconciousness. I awoke to find myself in an ambulance with assorted paramedics pounding my chest, while attempting to verbally communicate with me. I was aware of their presence, but found myself unable to speak….

Rhapsodies “Across The Stars” …Celebrating John Williams

After nearly dying a little more than a decade ago during and just after major open heart surgery, I fulfilled one of the major dreams of my life…meeting the man who would become my last living life long hero. I’d adored him as far back as 1959 when first hearing the dramatic strains of the theme from Checkmate on CBS Television. That feeling solidified a year later in 1960 with the rich, sweet strains of ABC Television’s Alcoa Premiere, hosted by Fred Astaire, followed by Wide Country on NBC….

Reviving “The Music Man” On Broadway

…When Jack Warner was casting the film version of the smash hit, he considered performers such as Cary Grant, James Cagney, or Frank Sinatra for the lead. Meredith Willson, the show’s composer, however, demanded that Robert Preston star in the movie version of his play, or he’d withdraw the contracts and licensing. The film version of The Music Man, produced for Warner Brothers, and starring Robert Preston and Shirley Jones, opened to rave reviews on movie screens across the country in 1962. Robert Preston, like Rex Harrison in Lerner and Lowe’s My Fair Lady, had proven that older, seasoned film stars could propel both Broadway and big screen musicals to enormous artistic success….

Remembering Frank Sinatra

On the evening of May 14, 1998, following the airing over NBC Television of the series finale of Seinfeld, the world and I received the terrible news of the passing of the most beloved entertainer of the twentieth century. It has been twenty-four years since he left this mortal realm, but the joy, the music, and the memories are as fresh and as vital today as when they were born….

Dr. Van Helsing And Victor Frankenstein: A Peter Cushing Remembrance

I had the honor and distinct pleasure of both knowing and sharing correspondence with British actor Peter Cushing for several years during the late Sixties and early Seventies….

“12 O’clock High” Legendary Soundtrack Release By Composer Dominic Frontiere

Very exciting news. The long awaited CD soundtrack release of 12 O’Clock High is now available for purchase through La-La Land Records and is a major restoration of precious original tracks from Quinn Martin’s beloved television series….

Remembering Camelot’s Prince

That terrible day in Dallas, Texas on November 22, 1963 remains one of the most significantly traumatic days of my life. I was just seventeen years old. I was nearing the end of my high school classes at Northeast High School in Philadelphia when word started spreading through the hallways and corridors that JFK had been shot. I listened in disbelief, praying that it wasn’t true … but it was….

Vertlieb: I Am A Jew!

I recently watched a somber new three part documentary by film maker Ken Burns that is among the most sobering, heartbreaking, and horrifying indictments of humanity that I have ever encountered. It was extremely difficult to watch but, as an American Jew, I remain struck by the similarities between the rise in Fascism in the early nineteen thirties, leading to the beginnings of Nazism in Germany, and the attempted decimation of the Jewish people in Europe and throughout the world, with the repellant echoes of both racial and religious intolerance, and the mounting hatred and suspicion of the Jewish communities and population residing presently in my own country of birth, these United States….

Remembering Hugo Friedhofer

I’ve read with interest some of the recent discussions concerning the measure of Hugo Friedhofer’s importance as a composer, and it set my memory sailing back to another time in a musical galaxy long ago and far away. I have always considered Maestro Friedhofer among the most important, if underrated, composers of Hollywood’s golden era….

“The Fabelmans” — A Review Of The Film

…Steven Spielberg’s reverent semi-autobiographical story of youthful dreams and aspirations is, for me, the finest, most emotionally enriching film of the year, filled with photographic memories, and indelible recollections shared both by myself and by the film maker….

A Magical Philadelphia Christmas Tradition

These photographs are of an annual Christmas tradition at American Heritage Federal Credit Union located at Red Lion and Jamison Roads in Northeast Philadelphia…. 

Remembering Frank Capra

…This was the man who brought such incalculable joy and hope to so many millions of filmgoers with his quintessential Christmas classic, It’s A Wonderful Life. …

Martin Morse Wooster

MARTIN MORSE WOOSTER

Review of Moonfall

My friend Adam Spector tells me that when Ernest Lehman was asked to write the script for North by Northwest, he tried to turn out the most “Hotchcocky” script he could, with all of Hitchcock’s obsessions in one great motion picture.

Moonfall is the most “Emmerichian” film Roland Emmerich is made.  Like his earlier films, it has flatulent melodrama interlaced with completely daft science.  But everything here is much more intense than his earlier work.  But the only sense of wonder you’ll get from this film is wondering why the script got greenlit….

Review of Becoming Superman

… Having a long career in Hollywood is a lot harder than in other forms of publishing; you’ve got to have the relentless drive to pursue your vision and keep making sales.  To an outsider, what is astonishing about J. Michael Straczynski’s career is that it has had a third act and may well be in the middle of a fourth.  His career could have faded after Babylon 5.  The roars that greeted him at the 1996 Los Angeles Worldcon (where, it seemed, every conversation had to include the words, “Where’s JMS?”) would have faded and he could have scratched out a living signing autographs at media conventions….

Review of “The Book of Dust” Stage Play

When I read in the Financial Times about how Britain’s National Theatre was adapting Sir Philip Pullman’s La Belle Sauvage, the first volume of his Book of Dust trilogy, I told myself, “That’s a play for me!  I’ll just fly over to London and see it!  OGH is made of money, and he’ll happily pay my expenses!”

Fortunately, I didn’t have to go to London, because the theatre came to me, with a screening of the National Theatre Live production playing at the American Film Institute.  So, I spent a pleasant Saturday afternoon seeing it….

Review: A Monster Calls at Kennedy Center

… Stories matter more in the theatre than in film because far more of a play is in our imagination than in a film.  Stripped of CGI and rewrites by multiple people, what plays offer at their best is one person’s offering us something where, if it works, we tell ourselves, “Yes, that was a good evening in the theatre,” and if it doesn’t, we gnash our teeth and feel miserable until we get home…

Review of “Under The Sea With Dredgie McGee”

As Anton Ego told us in Ratatouille, the goal of a critic today is to be the first person to offer praise to a rising artist. It’s not the tenth novel that deserves our attention but the first or second. In the theatre, the people who need the most attention are the ones who are being established, not the ones that build on earlier successes.

So I’m happy to report that Matthew Aldwin McGee, author, star, and chief puppeteer of Under the Sea with Dredgie McGee is a talented guy who has a great deal of potential.  You should be watching him….

Review: Maple and Vine

I once read an article about a guy who was determined to live life in 1912.  He lived in a shack in the woods, bought a lot of old clothes, a Victrola, and a slew of old books and magazines.  I don’t remember how he made a living, but the article made clear that he was happy….

TRIGGER SNOWFLAKE

By Ingvar

CATS SLEEP ON SFF

OBITUARIES

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