Pixel Scroll 10/6/23 When You’re Dune And Tribbled, And Need A Gripping Hand…

(1) ARE THESE YOUR FAVORITE SPOILERS? “Doctor Who’s Alex Kingston on hiding River Song’s biggest spoiler” at Radio Times. Beware spoilers. Further warning: the one excerpted below is not the “biggest spoiler” referred to in the headline.

“She’s not a companion, she’s a wife!” Alex Kingston is quick to correct about her beloved Doctor Who character River Song.

And she’s completely right. River Song is unlike any other Doctor Who character, first introduced in 2008’s Silence in the Library and spanning multiple eras in one of the most complex and glorious timelines to ever grace the show.

“She’s the most incredible character to play, and certainly when the role was offered to me, I had obviously no idea of the journey that both she and I would be undertaking – because obviously in the very first Silence in the Library story, she dies,” Kingston exclusively tells RadioTimes.com….

(2) TEXAS BOOK RATING LAW REMAINS IN EFFECT PENDING HEARING. “Appeals Court Lets Texas Book Rating Law Take Effect, Orders Expedited Hearing” reports Publishers Weekly.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit will let Texas’s controversial new book rating law, HB 900, take effect while an “expedited” appeals process plays out—despite a district court finding the law to be “a web of unconstitutionally vague requirements.”

In a two-line decision issued on October 5, the Fifth Circuit said it would not hear the state’s emergency motion for a stay separately and will instead carry the motion to be heard with the state’s challenge of judge Alan D. Albright’s preliminary injunction on the merits. The court also ordered the appeal to be “expedited to the next available oral argument panel.”

But the appeals court also declined to lift an administrative stay placed on Albright’s order…

Signed by Texas governor Greg Abbott on June 12, HB 900 requires book vendors, at their own expense, to review and rate books for sexual content under a vaguely articulated standard as a condition of doing business with Texas public schools. The law includes both the thousands of books previously sold to schools and any new books. Furthermore, the law gives the state the unchecked power to change the rating on any book, which vendors would then have to accept as their own or be barred from doing business with Texas public schools….

(3) WHERE, OH WHERE IS THE CHENGDU WORLDCON BUSINESS MEETING AGENDA? No link — with less than two weeks until the Chengdu Worldcon business meeting agenda still hasn’t been released.

People want the agenda posted so they can read what business is coming before the meeting and think about the inevitable assortment of proposed rules changes. The rule requiring the agenda to be available 30 days ahead of the meeting is so that the movers don’t have the advantage of being able to organize in favor while depriving potential opposition of the same advantage.

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

Welcome to the hotel confusion-ia

This item is based on a Kevin Standlee blog post “More Worldcon Travel Plans”, and subsequent Mastodon exchange.

Some of the guests whose accommodation has been arranged by the con have been told they are staying in the “Chengdu Tianfu Hengbang Sheraton”.  However, it seems that this is a direct translation of the Chinese name of the hotel near the con venue (成都恒邦天府喜来登酒店), but it actually uses a different English name “Sheraton Chengdu Pidu”. (Compare http://www.sheraton-chengdu.com/ to http://www.sheraton-chengdu.com/en?pc )

Thus when searching Google for the first name, people are getting results for a Sheraton in the Tianfu area, which is roughly the opposite side of Chengdu from the Pidu district where the con is actually taking place, which resulted in this.

Per Kevin’s comments on Mastodon, some people have been told that they’ll be staying at the “Sheraton Lidu Pidu”, which does seem to be a different hotel from either of the two previously mentioned.

Here’s a Xiaohongsu post from a week ago showing views of the con venue from the Sheraton Chengdu Pidu: http://xhslink.com/HINobv

Video featuring the “Kormo” con mascot https://weibo.com/5516881774/Nly3wqo4Y

This 90-second video posted by the GoChengdu Weibo account is a week old, but I only came across it today.  Content-wise, it has only minimal connection to the Worldcon – it focuses more on the mid-Autumn festival that’s just gone by – but “stars” the Kormo con mascot.

(5) A HISTORY OF PEE-WEE HERMAN PRODUCTS. The Comics Journal continues a conversation: “The Artists and Cartoonists Who Designed Pee-wee Herman’s World – Part Two”.

…But by season two in 1987, by which time production of the show itself had moved from New York City to Los Angeles, any number of Pee-wee related products—toys, dolls, bed sheets, sweaters, pajamas, t-shirts, stickers, trading cards—were available for purchase. And like the Playhouse show itself, these products were chiefly designed by a group of young NYC artists under the direction of Gary Panter and Reubens himself. Cartoonists and illustrators working on Playhouse merchandise included Ric Heitzman, Mark Newgarden, Kaz, Charles Burns, J.D. King, Richard McGuire, Stephen Kroninger, Tomas Bunk, Norman Hathaway and others. When Reubens died of acute hypoxic respiratory failure on July 30th of this year, I reached out to a number of people involved in shaping the Pee-wee empire. In Part One of this series, I spoke with a number of artists who designed the visual aesthetic of the successful television program; in this second and final part, the focus will be on the many functional and ridiculous products created in its wake, including some that never made it to stores….

… The cartoonist Kaz, another frequent RAW contributor, was brought in early on.

“I can’t remember what came first for me, but I’d been visiting Gary Panter in his various studios around Brooklyn for quite a while,” Kaz said. “Seeing his paintings, sculptures and sketchbooks was always inspiring, and he was one of the sweetest guys and very generous with his time and ideas. I love the guy! So, at some point he asked me to help out with art on some of the Pee-wee licensing that was coming in hot and hard. I just aped his Pee-wee art style (which was not as easy as it looked). I did all the flat art on the inside of the Playhouse Playset. I did some art when they expanded the Pee-wee Colorforms set by adding two wings, thereby making it ‘Deluxe.’ A keen eye will see my cartoon character, Little Bastard, sitting on Pee-wee’s bed on that art.”

“In 1987, through Gary Panter and Mark Newgarden, I worked with Mark on the Topps Chewing Gum’s ‘Pee-wee’s Playhouse Fun Pak’,” Kaz continued. “I remember going into Topps’ offices every day for a few weeks. At the time, Topps was in a grimy industrial waterfront neighborhood in Brooklyn that was not a good place to be after dark. Mark did the bulk of the writing and editing on the “Fun Pak” as well as drawing. I wrote and did a bunch of drawings (in the Panter style). There was a lot to do, so some of the art was freelanced out to other cartoonists. Trivia: I got my full Lithuanian first name [Kazimieras] on the back of one card!”…

(6) PAEAN TO LOST. “Six Part Fan-Made Lost Documentary 815 Explores the Complicated Production of the J.J. Abrams-Directed Pilot Episode”Movieweb has the story.

Released in 2004 and created by J. J. Abrams and Damon Lindelof, Lost has become not only one of the most popular series of all time, but also a role model for many other shows. Its complicated and mysterious story, along with its constant reinvention and plots full of suspense, provided its viewers with a unique experience. Its unexpected twists and strange elements that appeared without any apparent explanation, turned it a legend.

The series follows the experiences of a group of survivors of a plane crash on what appears to be a deserted island. However, as they struggle to live with each other, it becomes apparent that the island is far from a safe place, and they are not the only ones inhabiting the place.

The pilot episode, directed by Abrams and filmed in Oahu, Hawaii, was at the time the most expensive in history, a title it held for a long time. For this reason, YouTuber and Lost fan kuhpunkt (who’s real name is Stefan Lensa) took the time to collect hours of video content about the making of the show’s pilot, transforming it into a six-part documentary titled 815, the number of the flight where the protagonists were traveling…

(7) NATO IN TIMES TO COME. In 2024, NATO will celebrate its 75th anniversary. The NATO Defence College asks writers, especially science fiction writers, for 1500 words on what NATO will look like in 2099. More details at the link. €500 if you are selected. “NATO 2099: A Graphic Novel”.

…Science fiction, while often discredited by dint of its creative and at times outrageous character, holds real added value for research purposes. Not only does science fiction influence the present by projecting inventions (i.e. headsets, mobile phones and tablets), science fiction can leverage the wisdom of the crowd effect: when several authors “see” a similar future, such a future becomes more likely. As such, science fiction has the power of making ideas acceptable. It can entertain a wider public, which under normal circumstances, might not entertain certain ideas, thereby broadening mindsets and fostering critical thinking. Of course, the precondition to this is that science fiction be not fantastical, but is rooted in evidence. (Hence the term FICINT, fictional intelligence.)

Harnessing these benefits, science fiction has been instrumentalized by military organizations in the United States and France to increase preparedness, train critical thinking, and even spot trends in technology and geopolitics. (For example, the idea of Russia attacking Ukraine appeared in Russian science fiction in the 1990s).

Your mission, should you accept it…

The year is 2099, NATO will be celebrating its 150th anniversary. For this reason, sci-fi and fictional intelligence authors are being asked to contribute about 1500 words on what this future might look like. Authors are asked to describe the end state, i.e. 2099, but are free to describe how we got there.

…The compilation of 32 written pieces will be transformed and published into a graphic novel or comic book that narrates a holistic story entitled, “NATO 2099”.

(8) MICHIGAN FAKE ELECTORS CASE. “Michigan judge rules defendants accused in false elector scheme will not have charges dropped” reports the Associated Press. We’re following this story because Michele Lundgren, wife of sff artist Carl Lundgren, is one of the sixteen charged, although she was not a maker of the motion covered here.

Michigan defendants accused of participating in a fake elector scheme will not have their charges dropped after the state attorney general said the group was “brainwashed” into believing former President Donald Trump won the 2020 election, a judge ruled Friday morning.

The decision comes after motions to dismiss charges were filed last week by two defendants, Clifford Frost and Mari-Ann Henry. The two defendants are part of a group of 16 Michigan Republicans who investigators say met following the 2020 election and signed a document falsely stating they were the state’s “duly elected and qualified electors.” Each of the 16 faces eight criminal charges, including multiple counts of forgery….

(9) STARLING HOUSE. At NPR: “Book review: Alix E. Harrow’s ‘Starling House’ Gothic fantasy novel”.

In Eden, Kentucky, the air is thick with dust.

The dying coal town is the fictional setting of Alix E. Harrow’s “Starling House,” and the smog of fading power and bad luck is enough to suffocate its residents, most of whom live in abject poverty.

For Harrow, writing a book about Kentucky was a long time coming.

“This is the first book that I set fully in, like committed to writing about Kentucky,” Harrow says. “One of the reasons that I had found that difficult to do before is because I find it to be a place of very mixed experiences that I love very, very, very much, and which has just an incredible violence and terror to it.”…

(10) CHRIS HADFIELD COMMENTS ON ‘FOR ALL MANKIND’. “Apple TV+ series For All Mankind Depicts Realistic Death in Space According to Renowned Astronaut” at Movieweb.

…Navigating through this cosmic portrayal, Chris Hadfield, an astronaut with feet firmly planted in both scientific and storytelling worlds, lent his expert gaze to scrutinize a particularly grim depiction of death in the aforementioned series. Hadfield, experienced in the authentic silence of the cosmos, put under the microscope a scene from For All Mankind in a special breakdown for Vanity Fair, where an American astronaut fiercely ends a Soviet astronaut’s lunar expedition—with a gun.

But is the rendering of a bullet speeding through the weightlessness and silence of the moon’s environment precise? Hadfield nods in unsettling agreement.

What permeates this acknowledgment is the recognition of the horrifying reality of how gunfire operates in the vacuum of the moon. Unlike its earthly counterpart, a bullet on the moon, devoid of air and oxygen to disrupt its trajectory, travels with haunting precision, straighter and farther into the abyss. The portrayal of such a scenario in For All Mankind doesn’t simply draw from a well of imagined horrors, but rather bathes in a chilling accuracy that aligns with the physical realities of our universe.

Moreover, the aftermath of such a bullet puncturing a spacesuit, according to Hadfield, is equally petrifying and authentic. A spacesuit, cushioning its inhabitant with a hundred percent oxygen, can turn into an infernal chamber when breached. History has witnessed this, as Hadfield recalls an incident during a test at the Johnson Space Center, where even aluminum, veiled in flames, narrated the horrors of what could transpire inside a suit, albeit thankfully unoccupied by a human during the incident. Oxygen, the life-giving force, transforms into a silent executioner in the blink of an eye when exposed to a spark in such an environment….

(11) START THE PARTY. Today is Francis Hamit’s 79th birthday and he’s celebrating at Amazing Stories by posting a 15,000-word excerpt from his novel: “Excerpt: STARMEN by Francis Hamit: Support the Kickstarter”.

Today is  Francis Hamit’s Birthday.  (Happy Birthday, Francis!)  He also informs us that the Kickstarter for his forthcoming “genre experiment” novel – STARMEN – closes on October 10th.  As his Birthday gift to all of our readers, he wants to make sure that you know that EVERYONE contributing to the project will be able to purchase the E-book edition of this 190,000-word epic for just one dollar ($1.00)….

“My mixed genre novel STARMEN is an embarrassment of riches when it comes to excerpts.  It’s about 190,000 words long and incorporates alternative post Civil War history, quantum mechanics, Apache Indian myths and some rather nasty Aliens.  It begins in 1875 El Paso, Texas at the Pinkerton National Detective Agency.  Some of the detectives are witches.  So are some of the Apaches.  There are also some romance elements. And politics.”

(12) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born October 6, 1911 Flann O’Brien. Irish novelist, playwright and satirist. He wrote three novels, At Swim-Two-BirdsThe Dalkey Archive and The Third Policeman. Though The Dalkey Archive was published before The Third Policeman, it was written after that novelso entire sections of The Third Policeman are recycled almost word for word in it, mostly the atomic theory and the character De Selby. (Died 1966.)
  • Born October 6, 1950 David Brin, 73. Author of several series including Existence (which I do not recognize), the Postman novel, and the Uplift series which began with Startide Rising, a most excellent book and a Hugo-winner at L.A. Con II.  I’ll admit that the book he co-wrote with Leah Wilson, King Kong Is Back! An Unauthorized Look at One Humongous Ape, tickles me to no end if only for its title. So who’s read Castaways of New Mohave, that he wrote with Jeff Carlson?
  • Born October 6, 1952 Lorna Toolis. Librarian, editor, and fan Lorna was the long-time head of the Merril Collection of Science Fiction, Speculation, and Fantasy at the Toronto Public Library and a significant influence on the Canadian SF community. She founded the SF collection with a donation from Judith Merril. She was a founding member of SFCanada, and won an Aurora Award for co-editing Tesseracts 4 with Michael Skeet. (Died 2021.)
  • Born October 6, 1955 Donna White, 68. Academic who has written several works worth you knowing about — Dancing with Dragons: Ursula K. LeGuin and the Critics and Diana Wynne Jones: An Exciting and Exacting Wisdom. She’s also the author of the densely-written but worth reading A Century of Welsh Myth in Children’s Literature
  • Born October 6, 1955 Ellen Kushner, 68. If you’ve not read it, do so now, as her sprawling Riverside series is stellar. And there’s cups of hot chocolate. I’ve read all of it. And during the High Holy Days, do be sure to read The Golden Dreydl as it’s quite wonderful. As it’s Autumn and this being when I read it, I’d be remiss not to recommend her Thomas the Rhymer novel which won both the World Fantasy Award and the Mythopoeic Award. 
  • Born October 6, 1967 Joshua Glenn, 56. Publisher who re-issued a lot of the scientific romances from the beginning of last century like J D Beresford’s Goslings, The Edward Shanks’ People of the Runs and E V Odle’s The Clockwork Man. He’s edited two anthologies, Voices from the Radium Age and More Voices from the Radium Age.

(13) CONNECTING SFF AND SCIENCE. The U.S. State Department website is hosting “From Science Fiction to Science Fact”. It begins with a video introduction by Mark Hamill.

About 400 kilometers above the Earth, the International Space Station orbits at 28,000 kilometers an hour. It’s the single largest structure humans have ever put in space and a football-field-size symbol of diplomatic cooperation.

Built over a decade with U.S. and Russian spacecraft, the station has been continuously occupied by an international crew since November 2000. The station isn’t owned by any one nation, but rather operates as a partnership among five space agencies — the U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration, or NASA; the Russian State Space Corporation “Roscosmos”; the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA); the European Space Agency; and the Canadian Space Agency. There are regular crew handovers whereby some astronauts leave and new ones come aboard. Two hundred seventy-three astronauts from 21 countries have worked on the station….

DETECTING MICROBES

In the popular 1960s television show Star Trek, the starship Enterprise crew members depend on handheld tricorders. The devices seem to magically detect everything from unknown life forms to the nature of a crew member’s illness.

While the TV version seems fantastical, a real — if nascent — tricorder has been developed on the International Space Station. What’s more, the research that built it is already supporting human health here on Earth.

The impetus was NASA’s efforts to sequence DNA. Scientists aimed to simplify the multistep DNA sequencing process so that one device on the space station could handle it, working to move the tricorder from the realm of science fiction to real life.

Today NASA is looking at hand-held devices made by a U.S. company and a U.K.-based company that can amplify and sequence DNA. The devices identify microbes — bacteria, viruses, fungi and other organisms too small to be seen with the naked eye — growing throughout the International Space Station. The crew can monitor what microbes are on board, how the space environment shapes microbial behavior, and how that might affect astronaut health during long missions to the Moon or Mars.

Crew members gather microbes to sequence by rubbing swabs around the space station’s interior. They then process the genetic material by inserting the swabs into a hand-held device called a miniPCR, which makes copies of a targeted microbial DNA sequence. The copies are fed into another hand-held device called the MinION, which sequences the DNA.

(14) DOUBLE YOUR TIANGONG, DOUBLE YOUR FUN. “China to double size of space station, touts alternative to NASA-led ISS”Reuters has details.

China plans to expand its space station to six modules from three in coming years, offering astronauts from other nations an alternative platform for near-Earth missions as the NASA-led International Space Station (ISS) nears the end of its lifespan.

The operational lifetime of the Chinese space station will be more than 15 years, the China Academy of Space Technology (CAST), a unit of China’s main space contractor, said at the 74th International Astronautical Congress in Baku, Azerbaijan, on Wednesday….

… China’s self-built space station, also known as Tiangong, or Celestial Palace in Chinese, has been fully operational since late 2022, hosting a maximum of three astronauts at an orbital altitude of up to 450 km (280 miles).

At 180 metric tons after its expansion to six modules, Tiangong is still just 40% of the mass of the ISS, which can hold a crew of seven astronauts. But the ISS, in orbit for more than two decades, is expected to be decommissioned after 2030, about the same time China has said it expects to become “a major space power”.

Chinese state media said last year as Tiangong became fully operational that China would be no “slouch” as the ISS headed toward retirement, adding that “several countries” had asked to send their astronauts to the Chinese station.

But in a blow to China’s aspirations for space diplomacy, the European Space Agency (ESA) said this year it did not have the budgetary or “political” green light to participate in Tiangong, shelving a years-long plan for a visit by European astronauts.

“Giving up cooperation with China in the manned space domain is clearly short-sighted, which reveals that the U.S.-led camp confrontation has led to a new space race,” the Global Times, a nationalist Chinese tabloid, wrote at the time.

Tiangong has become an emblem of China’s growing clout and confidence in its space endeavours, and a challenger to the United States in the domain after being isolated from the ISS. It is banned by U.S. law from any collaboration, direct or indirect, with NASA….

(15) WHAT IS IMAGINATION? The Arthur C. Clarke Center for Human Imagination will host an in-person event “Imagine Otherwise: Featuring Stephen T. Asma” Tickets, Fri, Oct 20, 2023 at 6:00 PM | Eventbrite on October 20 at 6:00 p.m. at UC San Diego. Free registration and full information at the link.

Imagination is touted as a gift for artists or a vital skill for visionary thinkers and scientists. But what do we mean by the term “imagination,” and what has science revealed about the diversity of ways it shows itself in human minds?

In a conversation with Stephen T. Asma, philosopher and author of The Evolution of Imagination, Erik Viirre and Cassandra Vieten will explore the history of our understanding of imagination, how science has attempted to advance our understanding of it, and what is at stake for the future of imagination studies and the pathways it may open to advancing the imagination’s power for transformative change.

This event will take place at the Great Hall at UC San Diego and is free and open to the public. Light refreshments will be provided. RSVP required.

(16) UP ALL NIGHT. “The ‘Ghost Hunting Gays of Ohio’ find queer community in the search for the supernatural” at WVXU.

A small group of people huddled around Mirror Lake on Ohio State University’s campus on a September evening. Their black attire matched the night sky that stretched over the splashing fountain.

Nick Post stood at the center of the group. He leaned in as he told a ghost story about the so-called ‘Lady of the Lake.’

“On cold wintry nights she can sometimes be seen skating across the ice, warming her hands and wearing outdated clothing,” Post said. “Some reports say she wears white, others say she wears pink. But none have gotten close enough to see her face.”

This is just one of many apparitions that supposedly stalk OSU’s dorms and classrooms at night. Its these legends that brought ten members of the Ghost Hunting Gays of Ohio, the state’s newest paranormal investigators, to campus on a Sunday night….

…“I’ve always been obsessed with ghost-hunting shows and all of that good stuff, so I was like, what if we just go check out some haunted places?” he said.

Post said looking to the supernatural was only natural for him, and he thinks that’s true for a lot of queer people. He said the paranormal holds a special appeal to many in the gay community.

“When you are misunderstood your entire life, it intrigues you to understand other things that are misunderstood,” Post said….

(17) PAUL BUCKLEY’S GREATEST HITS. Steven Heller talks about “Layoffs in the Publishing Industry Sting” at PRINT Magazine, and the loss of one design director in particular.

When the latest round of publishing industry buyouts and layoffs were announced in mid-July, I was surprised to see a few friends and acquaintances on the hit list. Buyouts are the humane way to let go of employees, and some can be generous. But while many buyouts come at the end of careers, layoffs can particularly sting while in mid-stride.

At Penguin Random House, the biggest book publisher in the United States, veteran editors who have worked with many of the biggest authors in fiction and nonfiction are leaving the company. It is a changing of the guard. The New York Times reported that Penguin Random House lost both its global and U.S. chief executives in the past seven months alone.

Until this latest upheaval, 58 year old Paul Buckley was the longest serving (34 years) design director of Penguin Books. His layoff was a shock to those, like me, who greatly admired his work. If he of all people is this vulnerable, what about others who are not yet ready to take retirement?

Buckley leaves behind an incredible legacy of iconic, smart, clever and damn beautiful work. So upon hearing the sad news, I asked him to select 10 projects out of the thousands he’s created for Penguin that give him the most pride. It’s better to see and read about them now than in a later postmortem/historical reprise….

(18) QUANTUM PAULI ENGINE. [Item by Steven French.] “No-heat quantum engine makes its debut” at Physics World.

“All particles known to science fall into one of two categories: bosons or fermions. While bosons cluster in the same quantum state, fermions obey the Pauli exclusion principle, meaning no two fermions can share the same state. This doesn’t matter much at room temperature when particles are flying about at high speeds. Cool those particles down to just shy of absolute zero, though, and the difference becomes vast: the bosons pile into the lowest available energy state, while fermions stack on top of each other in a “ladder” of states. At such low temperatures, a collection of fermions will thus have much more energy than a collection of bosons.”

Until recently that energy difference couldn’t be accessed but in the early 2000s  a way was found to form bosons molecules from fermionic atoms which means you could switch from one form of statistics to another. Now researchers have used this to construct a ‘proof-of-principle’ quantum Pauli engine which offers an entirely different way of charging quantum batteries and powering quantum computers. 

That may be some years off yet but this is still very cool!

[Thanks to Chris Barkley, Cat Eldridge, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Nicholas Whyte, JeffWarner, Steven French, 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 6/1/23 Three Little Muad’Dibs From Sand Are We

(1) FORD PERFECT. Ryan D’Agostino has a tremendously entertaining profile of “Harrison Ford on ‘Indiana Jones,’ ‘Star Wars,’ Career” in Esquire.

….What you don’t know is what happens when they mess up Harrison Ford’s eggs. The plates come, two Farmer’s Breakfasts. Mine’s good: over easy. As Ford cuts into his first poached egg, I’m asking, “So would you say the character of Indiana Jones has some of your own boyhood—”

He lays down his fork and knife. His shoulders droop in defeat.

The egg white is rubbery, the yolk chalky. He looks up at me.

“You couldn’t have been clearer,” I say.

The waiter, seeing a problem, scurries over, eager and recoiling at the same time. Ford just looks up at the poor guy, not with anger but with something worse: disappointment. It’s not a mean look. It’s a look that says, “We can do better, friend.”

The waiter is smiling and trying to speak, and he looks as if he might cry. “Are they . . . not soft?” He slinks away. Ford tries to refocus….

(2) INDY BEGINNING. And if you have Disney+, Slashfilm says these are “The Essential Young Indiana Jones Episodes You Need To Stream On Disney+”.

…Since these revised mini-Indy movies are appearing on Disney+ for the first time, we picked out the six most important episodes you might want to watch as you count down to “Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny” … though it must be said that every episode is worth your time…

Their list begins with —

My First Adventure

Exactly as the title says, “My First Adventure” is the first adventure of the young Henry Jones, Jr. It begins with a nine-year-old Indy living at Princeton with his parents when his life gets turned upside down when he has to accompany them on a journey around the world. The family heads to Oxford first, where Indy picks up his tutor, Ms. Seymour. They find themselves in Egypt and Indiana Jones helps T.E. Lawrence (yes, the “Lawrence of Arabia”) solve a murder mystery. Then, they travel to Africa, where Indy learns a lot about colonialism, slavery, and languages. It’s a good taste of what the younger side of Indy’s adventures will hold for audiences and an essential introduction to the series.

(3) ANOTHER FIRST FOR EKPEKI. Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki is the first Black winner of the Asimov’s Science Fiction Readers Award editor Sheila Williams told him today. Part of the reason, she adds, is that they published Octavia Butler’s stories, which won major awards, before the Asimov’s SF Readers Award was created.

(4) IT’S REAL! I’M ABSOLUTELY CERTAIN OF IT! [Item by Mike Kennedy.] Prepare for a barrage of proclamations that this is a real ET message, and the government is just covering things up by pretending it’s a test. Pfffft!

In what may be the first piece of interplanetary performance art, a message crafted by an artist to look like an extra terrestrial broadcast is coming from a Mars orbiter. Now people are trying to decipher it. “The Race Is On to Crack an Artist’s ‘Test’ Signal From Aliens” in WIRED.

For decades, a dedicated international band of researchers has searched the skies in the hopes of finding some sign that humanity is not alone in the universe. They’re engaged in SETI, the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence. So far, the hunt for an alien signal has turned up only false positives. But that hasn’t stopped anyone from speculating about how people might respond to a real communication attempt. Now, Daniela de Paulis, an artist in residence at the SETI Institute in Mountain View, California, is simulating just such an alien message to see how humans react and whether they can figure out how to decipher it. 

Her group’s project, A Sign in Space, began last week by transmitting a mysterious radio signal from the Trace Gas Orbiter, a European Space Agency craft that’s orbiting Mars. Participating astronomers at the Green Bank Observatory in West Virginia, the Allen Telescope Array in California, and the Medicina Radio Astronomical Station in Italy received the signal, removed the telemetry data, and posted the remaining encoded message on the project’s website for anyone to download. Now it’s up to the people of Earth to crack the code, interpret the message, and—de Paulis hopes—make some art. She and her colleagues are leading a series of online workshops to encourage people to discuss the concept of alien communication, including an event she hosted yesterday at which people shared thoughts and artwork inspired by the project so far….

(5) THE MAN FROM GONDOR. A classic fanfic is now available on the ConChord website, The Tenth Nazgul Affair by William Baker Glass, with illustrations by Richard Paul Glass. Barry Gold has made it available in HTML and EPUB formats.

Napoleon and Illya are engaged in a firefight with several T.H.R.U.S.H. agents when Illya is struck by lightning and ends up in Middle Earth. He helps King Elessar Telcontar (aka Strider) fight off Shelob and one extra Nazgul that somehow survived the destruction of the One Ring.

(6) SOMETHING NICE TO SAY ABOUT AI. Rob Hansen says he’s recently begun using A.I. for extrapolated reconstruction of old photos and sent links to work done on pictures of Forties LASFS members. Bill Burns found the online site to do this and produced this enhanced Tigrina image. Then Hansen  followed with Art Joquel and Sam Russell.

Rob adds, “These are extrapolations rather than reconstructions, of course, but I think the results are pretty remarkable. Using A.I. for good; who’da thunk it?”

(7) EARLIEST RAY. Phil Nichols has launched a “Chronological Bradbury!” sequence with the latest episode of his Bradbury 100 podcast.

The idea is to work through Ray Bradbury’s fiction output in the order of publication, discussing each item as we go.

In this first “Chronological Bradbury”, I start right at the beginning, with a discussion of Ray’s earliest published works, which appeared in amateur magazines in 1938.

(8) FUTURE TENSE. The May 2023 entry in the Future Tense Fiction series from Future Tense and Arizona State University’s Center for Science and the Imagination is Tara Isabella Burton’s “I Know Thy Works”, about an AI designed to compute and uphold our preferred moral systems.

Harry wasn’t a bad person. You just couldn’t take him too seriously, that’s all. Whatever Harry said, whatever Harry did, whatever Harry put down as his meta-ethic, this week, on his Arete profile, be it the ends justify the means or the greatest happiness for the greatest number or do what thou wilt be the whole of the law, Harry never meant a word. Harry changed his meta-ethic more often than he changed his clothes….

It was published along with a response essay “Why it’s so hard to compute ethics” by computer scientist Suren Jayasuriya.

…There’s debate over whether the trolley problem is really the right framing to interrogate ethical choices (specifically whether decisions made in the simulation really reflect what you would choose in real life), and the experiment itself has also been criticized for both its setup and assumptions. But the Moral Machine does provide a fascinating example of an algorithm that observes your ability to make decisions in a handful of tense driving situations, and then spits out a bulleted list of your preferences for saving babies over dogs, and how that compares with the rest of the world (or at least the rest of the people who have taken the test)….

(9) TOOLS FOR FORESIGHT. On Wednesday, June 14 from 12-1 p.m. Eastern, ASU’s Center for Science and the Imagination will be hosting a free virtual event, “Reimagining the Future of [X],” exploring how to build collective visions of the future using science fiction and foresight tools.

The event is the fourth and final in the series for the Applied Sci-Fi Project, which seeks to understand the influence of science fiction on technology and the people who build it, and to study the ways that sci-fi storytelling can a tool for innovation and foresight.

We’ll be joined by our opening speaker, science fiction and nonfiction author Annalee Newitz (The TerraformersFour Lost Cities) and four special guests: sci-fi author and futurist Tobias Buckell (Arctic Rising, “Zen and the Art of Starship Maintenance”); policy expert, foresight consultant and sci-fi author August Cole (Ghost FleetBurn-In); anthropologist Amy Johnson, who researches the use of speculative futures techniques at Harvard’s Berkman Klein Center; and Tory Stephens, climate fiction editor at Grist Magazine. The panel will be moderated by CSI’s managing editor Joey Eschrich, who will also share his perspective on CSI’s own “Future of X” book anthologies, contests, and other projects. 

(10) MEMORY LANE.

1998[Written by Cat Eldridge from a choice by Mike Glyer.]

Tricia Sullivan is the writer responsible for our Beginning this time. 

A US-born author who moved to the United Kingdom in 1995. Four years later, she won the Arthur C. Clarke Award for her novel Dreaming in Smoke which is where we get this Beginning. To date, it’s her one Award won. 

She writes SF under her own name and fantasy as Valery Leith. She is a very prolific novelist, writing thirteen novels over a period of twenty-two years.

She’s written a double handful of fiction. Interestingly she stopped getting published six years ago. And she stopped updating her blog seven years ago. There’s a story there, isn’t there? 

Dreaming in Smoke is a Meredith Moment at the usual suspects.

So here’s our Beginning…

my man’s gone now

The night Kalypso Deed vowed to stop Dreaming was the same night a four-dimensional snake with a Canadian accent, eleven heads and attitude employed a Diriangen function to rip out all her veins, then swiftly crocheted them into a harp that could only play a medley of Miles Davis tunes transposed (to their detriment) into the key of G. As she contemplated the loss of all blood supply to her vital organs it seemed to her that no amount of Picasso’s Blue, bonus alcohol rations, or access privileges to the penis of Tehar the witch doctor could compensate for having to ride shotgun to Azamat Marcsson on one of his statistical sprees with the AI Ganesh. She intended to tell him so–as soon as she could find her lungs. Ganesh was murmuring through her interface. 

KALYPSO, IT’S GETTING TOO LOOSE AND KINKY IN HERE.

 ‘Did you hear that, Azamat? Keep it off my wave!’ she sent, annoyed at being reduced to verbing. She simply didn’t have the resources to image him, for by now the snake had decomposed into a flight of simian, transgressive bees, which were in the process of liquefying her perception of left and right. Everything seen through her right eye became negative and sideways. The alarming part was that it didn’t seem to make any difference.

Marcsson’s response came back as a series of pyrotechnical arrays, which, loosely translated, meant, ‘Relax. It’s only math.’ 

I DON’T WANT TO BE YOUR ABACUS, said Ganesh. KALYPSO, GET YOUR DOZE UNDER CONTROL OR I WILL. 

The AI had a point. Kalypso mustered her wits and started cutting sensory intake to the Dreamer, feeling a little defensive about Miles Davis. Maybe she shouldn’t have been listening to the jazz Archives; maybe if she’d endured the boredom of monitoring the feeds between Ganesh and Marcsson she could have cut off the sudden explosion of parameters in the Dream the instant it began. But she had been shotgunning Marcsson for a long time, and he had always been safe. Marcsson had been Dreaming since before Kalypso was even born–he knew what he was doing with the AI, which could take data and weave them into Marcsson’s sensory awareness while he floated in a state of semi-conscious, lucid thought. He could immerse himself in literalized math through Dreams that improved a hundred-fold on the raw visions that humanity had experienced in its sleep for eons. He could be secure in his own safety because he had technique.

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born June 1, 1914 George Sayer. His Jack: C. S. Lewis and His Times won a Mythopoeic Scholarship Award for Inkling Studies and is considered one of the best looks at that author. He also wrote the liner notes for the J. R. R. Tolkien Soundbook, a Cadmeon release of Christopher Tolkien reading from excerpts from The SilmarillionThe Hobbit and The Lord of The Rings. (Died 2005.)
  • Born June 1, 1926 Andy Griffith. His most notable SFF genre credit is as Harry Broderick on the late Seventies Salvage I which lasted for two short seasons. Actually that was it, other than a one-off on The Bionic Woman. It’s streaming for free on Crackle whatever the Frelling that is. (Died 2012.)
  • Born June 1, 1928 Janet Grahame Johnstone, and Anne Grahame Johnstone. British twin sisters who were children’s book illustrators best remembered for their prolific artwork and for illustrating Dodie Smith’s The Hundred and One Dalmatians. They were always more popular with the public than they were with the critics who consider them twee. (Janet died 1979. Anne died 1988.)
  • Born June 1, 1940 René Auberjonois. Odo on DS9. He’s shown up on a number of genre productions including Wonder WomanThe Outer LimitsNight GalleryThe Bionic WomanBatman Forever, King Kong, Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered CountryEnterpriseStargate SG-1 and Warehouse 13He’s lent both his voice and likeness to gaming productions, and has done voice work for the animated Green Lantern and Justice League series. He directed eight episodes of DS9. And he wrote a lot of novels, none of which I’ve read. Has anyone here read any of them? (Died 2019.)
  • Born June 1, 1947 Jonathan Pryce, 76. I remember him best as the unnamed bureaucrat in The Adventures of Baron Munchausen. He’s had a long career in genre works including Brazil, Something Wicked This Way Comes as Mr. Dark himself, Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl and Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End as Governor Weatherby Swann, The Brothers Grimm, in the G.I. Joe films as the U.S. President and most recently in The Man Who Killed Don Quixote as Don Quixote. 
  • Born June 1, 1950 Michael McDowell. Screenwriter and novelist whose most well-known work is the screenplay for Tim Burton’s Beetlejuice. He also did work on Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas though he’s not listed as the scriptwriter. He wrote eleven scripts for Tales from the Darkside, more than anyone else. And he wrote a lot of horror which Stephen King likes quite a bit. (Died 1999.)
  • Born June 1, 1965 Tim Eldred, 58. Author and illustrator of Grease Monkey, a most excellent humorous take on space operas and uplifting species.  As an illustrator alone, he was involved in Daniel Quinn’s superb The Man Who Grew Young
  • Born June 1, 1966 David Dean Oberhelman. Mike has an appreciation of him here.  The Intersection of Fantasy and Native America: From H.P. Lovecraft to Leslie Marmon Silko which he co-wrote with Amy H. Sturgis was published by The Mythopoeic Press. ISFDB lists just one genre essay by him, “From Iberian to Ibran and Catholic to Quintarian”, printed in Lois McMaster Bujold: Essays on a Modern Master of Science Fiction and Fantasy. (Died 2018.)

(12) COMICS SECTION.

  • Poorly Drawn Lines’ Astronaut Bill shows friendship is the best. (And if you go to the link, preceding this date are four or five really great cartoons about various other characters.)

(13) MARRIAGE IS WHAT BRINGS US TOGETHER. Actor Alex Kingston remembers her time on Doctor Who as the Doctor’s enigmatic time-travelling wife in “Alex Kingston on 15 Years of River Song”, a feature in the new issue of Doctor Who Magazine. This excerpt appears at the link.

“I spoke to Steven [Moffat] on the phone and he said, ‘I’ve got this idea and I need to know if you’re available for it, because if you’re not I can’t write this.’ I let him know when I was available and he told me the outline, but I had to swear not to tell anyone. I’m very good at keeping secrets. Matt, Karen and Arthur had guessed I knew something and tried to persuade me to tell them, but I wouldn’t! Even when we had the script for that episode, the reveal wasn’t in it. They kept those pages out so the crew didn’t know. The actors were given the single pages – I’m not even sure when. And even on shooting day, the pages weren’t there and it was only then, at the last minute, that the crew saw the reveal. They managed to keep the secret and avoid any leaks at all. That takes a lot of doing.”

The season climaxed with THE WEDDING OF RIVER SONG (2011), a game-changer that, despite its title, left the status of the relationship between the Doctor and River up to the viewer’s interpretation. “I still get people going, ‘You’re not really married to him because he was a Teselecta!’” Alex laughs, referring to the shape-shifting craft that had taken on the Eleventh Doctor’s form. “I’m like, ‘Thank you very much, I was married to him. I’m his wife!’”

(14) CLIMBING MT. TBR. Lifehacker advises on “How to Actually Read the Books You Buy”. It may be something you already do or it may be news to you. (The actual advice is at the link. Fair is fair.)

…The problem with all of these items is that they are quick to purchase, but take a long time to use. You can add a game to your Steam collection in minutes, but chances are most will take you 20 hours or more to play. (Howlongtobeat.com says Tears of the Kingdom takes 52 hours for the main story alone.)

How many more games will you impulse-buy before you’ve finished that one? How many skeins of yarn will you snap up (they were on sale! And so soft!) before you’ve finished the sweater you’re currently knitting? It’s the same problem as the TBR pile, really. And I promise, there is a solution…

(15) BEFORE 1984. The Guardian reviews Orwell by DJ Taylor review – a very English socialist”.

…The key to his reading of Orwell is what happened to him in Spain. Though married to Eileen only six months before, he was determined to fight for the Republican cause (“Good chaps, the Spaniards, can’t let them down”) and on his return became far more politically engaged: “at last [I] really believe in Socialism, which I never did before”. But he’d seen bullying and infighting too. For the rest of his life and in his two great novels, this was the war he fought, on behalf of a wholesome, English, sweetly C of E brand of socialism, as opposed to Stalinist totalitarianism….

(16) STRIKES HINDER SCI-FI LONDON. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] Sci-Fi-London film fest is now go… But sadly rails strikes made its opening day Wednesday difficult for fans to attend except by bus. Rail strike also on Saturday. Nonetheless hoping to make Sunday’s two sessions of shorts and there’s a free cyber tech exhibition and demonstration there too…. 2023-Hackstock.

(17) JAWS: THE OVERBITE. Check out the WTF! photo of a Goblin Shark at the National Geographic.

Swishing through the deep sea, a goblin shark notices a small, yummy-looking squid. The animal inches toward its prey. But as the fish closes in, the snack starts to dart away. So the shark thrusts its jaw three inches out of its mouth! (The jaw is connected to three-inch-long flaps of skin that can unfold from its snout.) The predator then grabs the squid in its teeth. After scarfing down the meal, the shark fits its jaw back into its mouth and swims off….

(18) TURKISH DELIGHT. “Superman towers over the Kremlin: Reiner Riedler’s best photograph” – see it in the Guardian.

…This photo is part of my Fake Holidays series. At the beginning of the project, more than 15 years ago, I went to Lara Beach in Antalya, Turkey, where there is one luxury five-star hotel after another, all along the coastline. On the other side of the road were the tents of the workers who had built the hotels. Luxury hotels are like little ghettoes. You take your plane and your taxi, then you are in the middle of an isolated luxury area.

The Kremlin Palace hotel, where this photo was taken, has an exact copy of Saint Basil’s Cathedral in Red Square, Moscow. I have been to Moscow and seen the original church, which is a focal point – all tourists take a picture there. But here in Turkey, there is a swimming pool in front of the cathedral. I was fascinated. There were many Russian tourists.

I saw a weird guy, an astronaut, walking around the pool. “What’s happening here?” I asked. It turned out the hotel had a huge room with costumes for the entertainers who perform for the tourists. Superman was one of them. I found him by the pool and immediately asked to take his picture. I took about three shots. I chose the photo point, in front of the church with the pool between us, then asked Superman to jump. It was a very childish approach, perhaps, but he did it. The way he jumped was perfect. I felt in the moment: “That’s the picture.”…

(19) IT’S A GUSHER. “James Webb telescope: Icy moon Enceladus spews massive water plume” and BBC News has the photos.

…The new super-plume was spied by the James Webb Space Telescope. Previous observations had tracked vapour emissions extending for hundreds of kilometres, but this geyser is on a different scale.

The European Space Agency (Esa) calculated the rate at which the water was gushing out at about 300 litres per second. This would be sufficient to fill an Olympic-sized swimming pool in just a few hours, Esa said.

Webb was able to map the plume’s properties using its extremely sensitive Near-Infrared Spectrograph (NIRSpec) instrument.

The instrument showed how much of the ejected vapour (about 30%) feeds a fuzzy torus of water co-located with one of Saturn’s famous rings – its so-called E-ring.

“The temperature on the surface of Enceladus is minus 200 degrees Celsius. It’s freezing cold,” commented Prof Catherine Heymans, Astronomer Royal for Scotland.

“But at the core of the moon, we think it’s hot enough to heat up this water. And that’s what’s causing these plumes to come out.

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

Pixel Scroll 2/19/21 Why, I Sweep My Scroll With A Geiger Counter Every Day, And Nary A Pixel!

(1) DISCON III REACTIONS. Today’s decision by the 2021 Worldcon committee to remove Toni Weisskopf as a GoH (“DisCon III Removes Weisskopf as a Guest of Honor”) is being widely discussed.

Toni Weisskopf posted a concise response on Facebook.

The committee of Discon III approached me this week to discuss the allegations about Baen’s Bar that were posted at Patreon. Baen is conducting a thorough investigation, which we feel we cannot rush, and has taken down the Bar while we conduct the investigation.

I do understand the immediate appeal of Discon III wishing to act quickly to respond to their community. Today they informed me of their official decision to remove me as their Editor Guest of Honor.

While I strongly disagree with the committee’s decision, I will regretfully accede to their wishes.

These excerpts for the Scroll are primarily by authors who condemned the decision (except for the final one).

David Weber responded on Facebook.

So Toni Weisskopf has been formally disinvited by WorldCon and DisCon. Can’t say it was a surprise. I will however remind people of the personal policy I adopted years ago and reiterated in the case of ConCarolina and John Ringo. I will not attend a con which has disinvited a guest. You are always free to invite —or not—anyone you like. Any con which disinvites someone after the invitation has been issued and accepted, especially when they do so under pressure, however, does not deserve to be trusted by future guests.

He said more in the comments on his post, including —

Bob Eggleton made this comment —

Chuck Gannon also made a comment on Weber’s post, repeating one of his quotes linked here yesterday and extending it as follows:

…So Toni Weisskopf activated the most proactive, realistic option available to her: she closed the Bar, thereby ending any possibility that it might do further ostensible injury.

36 hours later, however, she was disinvited without any additional cause.

You will note, however, that no one asserted that she did not respond quickly enough. In fact, in disinviting her, there were no further/new discoveries added to those put forth in Mr. Sanford’s essay.

So what had changed? If the concom believes that 36 hours is enough time for her to resolve the matter completely, I once again point out that

a) any business person operating in the real world would *know* that is not enough time to conduct anything like a thorough review

b) in order to ensure that what Mr. Sanford reported could not expand or remain as a potential threat, SHE CLOSED THE WHOLE BAR DOWN.

If she had meant to stonewall, or not actually investigate the matter, she would not have taken the step of closing the Bar.

Do I repeat myself in this post? Assuredly so . . . because these are salient points which are being repeatedly, perhaps purposively, overlooked.

For anyone familiar with the musical Hamilton, cue “The Room Where It Happened” as we ponder “so what changed in 36 hours?”

Larry Correia shames the SMoFs in “An Open Letter To The Old Time Fans at WorldCon” [Internet Archive link].

…Then several years later, after the old controversy I caused had died off and most of us barbaric outsiders had said screw cheesy WorldCon and moved on with our lives, some of you still felt guilty for how you’d treated Toni, so you extended an olive branch. You offered her the Guest of Honor spot at your little convention. How nice. How fucking magnanimous.

Toni, being a far better human being than any of you could ever aspire to be, thought the offer over. She knew there was risks. She knew that she’d take heat from people on the right (and she has). Morons on my side of the political would call her a sell-out, quisling, traitor, boot licker, so on and so forth, and they did. She got attacked by the useless grifters on both sides, looking for hate clicks. But unlike you, Toni ignores the baying mob and always does what she thinks is the right thing to do.  She looked at your peace offering, and said fine, If you want to try and mend fences, okay, I’ll take the heat, I’ll be your guest of honor. She was the bigger person.

She talked to me about her decision. I told her I understood, I wouldn’t do it, but I respected her call, but that she’d surely get yelled at by the idiots on both sides. She already knew, but she thought it was the right thing to do anyway. Because unlike you, Toni actually has a moral compass. Your moral compass is a windsock. Her one mistake in all this was assuming that any of you old time Smofs would have a spine….

A very large number of people today are reaching for rhetorical flourishes to complain about what happened. RS Benedict made this connection. (If you don’t recognize Isabel Fall’s name, run a search here. Also let it be noted that Weisskopf has been removed as GoH, not banned from attending.)

Mike VanHelder, an experienced conrunner, tried to understand the decision from a convention running perspective. As part of that he wrote this How It Should Have Ended scenario, in addition to other insights. Thread starts here.

(2) NO ONE TO FOLLOW. While we’re at it, let WIRED’s Angela Wattercutter tell you about “The Crushing Disappointment of Fandom”.

…When we really, truly admire someone, whether they’re an Avenger or Anthony Fauci, there’s a tendency to mimic their personality, even their morality. Media theorists call these bonds “parasocial relationships”; parents of kids with one too many Star Wars posters (probably) call it “over the top.” But the people in it, the ones who write fic and spend days making cosplay before the next convention, call it part of their identity, the fabric of who they are.

Until it’s not. Earlier this week, actress Gina Carano lost her job playing Cara Dune on The Mandalorian. The former MMA fighter had been facing criticism for months for her anti-science views on mask-wearing, mocking transgender-sensitive pronouns, and tweets about voter fraud. Then, on Wednesday, after she shared an Instagram story that suggested having differing political views was akin to being Jewish during the Holocaust, the hashtag #FireGinaCarano began to trend on Twitter. That night, Lucasfilm issued the following statement: “Gina Carano is not currently employed by Lucasfilm and there are no plans for her to be in the future. Nevertheless, her social media posts denigrating people based on their cultural and religious identities are abhorrent and unacceptable.”

Carano’s comments are harmful for a lot of reasons, but they seem to carry an additional weight for fans. Cara Dune was a hero, someone who fought for people, a tough, competent female warrior in a genre often dominated by men. Fans looked up to Cara, and by extension Carano, but the actor’s comments on social media left one of those things harder to do….

(3) BY POPULAR DEMAND. The UK’s Daily Mail proclaims: “WandaVision: Fans CRASH Disney+ to stream latest episode”.

Viewers of WandaVision crashed Disney+ on Friday morning as the latest installment dropped on the streaming service.

There was a brief 10-minute outage in the early hours of Friday as episode seven of the Marvel Cinematic Universe-based series was made available, PEOPLE reports.

Fans expressed their frustration on social media after experiencing issues as they signed on in droves to catch the latest installment of Wanda and Vision’s Westview adventures.

(4) RECOVERED. Claire O’Dell has released a second edition of her award-winning River of Souls trilogy with new covers and updated text: River of Souls Series. The author blogged about the books here.

…Once Tor returned the rights to me, I decided to release a second edition, with new covers and updated text. I commissioned new artwork from the amazing Jessica Shirley. I badgered my long-suffering spouse into designing new covers. And I spent several months editing and proofreading the manuscripts. The e-books are now available at my on-line bookstore (here), individually or as a bundle, and will appear at all the usual vendor sites later this week….

(5) PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT. James Davis Nicoll helps us keep these two things straight: “Five SF Works Featuring Dyson Shells (and Not Dyson Swarms)” at Tor.com.

…There are at least two kinds of Dyson Sphere. The first—the one Dyson intended—is made up of a myriad of independently orbiting objects. While this presents an interesting traffic control challenge, the Dyson Swarm has the advantage that not only can it be built incrementally over a very long period, but the components are gravitationally coupled to the star in question.

The second option is a solid shell with the star in the middle….

Here’s one of James’ picks:

“Back to Myan” by Regina Kanyu Wang (2017)

Retrieved by the Union from certain extinction on the ice-encrusted world Myan, Kaya is somewhat less than entirely grateful. After all, the reason Myan was freezing in the first place was Project Saion, the Union’s vast energy-gathering structure blocking Myan from its star, Saion. While the Union did belatedly notice the Myan natives and rescue them, this didn’t come to pass until 997 out of every 1000 of Kaya’s species had perished in the cold. Still, the Union is very, very powerful, while the handful of Myans are not. There is nothing Kaya can do to save her home world. At least, that’s what the Union believes…

(6) GREG BEAR INTERVIEWED. Frank Catalano, who was SFWA Secretary back when Greg Bear was SFWA President, pointed out a good profile of Greg Bear in the Seattle Times today, including his thinking that his newest novel may be his last one, and the trouble he had in finding a publisher for it: “Lynnwood’s Greg Bear, stalwart of modern science fiction, starts writing his life story”.

The 69-year-old Lynnwood-based author and first-class raconteur still has a lot to say. He’s published four novels since aortic dissection surgery left him with a titanium heart valve six years ago and has plans for more. But he’s just not sure he wants to deal with the business of fiction publishing anymore after having a hard time finding a buyer for “The Unfinished Land,” eventually published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt imprint John Joseph Adams Books.

“If I had written it and no one wanted to publish it, what would I do right at that point?” Bear said. “I considered just retiring. And I think I’m still making that decision at this point.”

Catalano reacts: “It’s end-of-days when Greg Bear can’t find a publisher. Ack.”

(7) ENDLESS RIVER. “Doctor Who’s River Song Alex Kingston writes new novel”Radio Times has the story.

… Alex Kingston is releasing a brand new River Song novel, taking the popular companion on a brand new adventure.

The book, entitled The Ruby’s Curse, promises to tell a thrilling story set in New York in 1939, featuring both River Song and her alter-ego Melody Malone. It is Alex Kingston’s first foray into writing Doctor Who fiction, following in the footsteps of Tom Baker, whose story Scratchman follows the escapades of the Fourth Doctor….

“Having absolutely no idea of the journey I would be taking with River Song when I first uttered those words, “Hello Sweetie,” I cannot begin to express how excited I am to be able to continue not only River, but Melody’s adventures on the written page,” she says.

(8) MEMORY LANE.

  • 1961 — Sixty years ago at Seacon in Seattle, A Canticle for Leibowitz, a fix-up of three short stories published in The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, written by Walter M. Miller, Jr. wins the Hugo for Best Novel. It was published by J. B. Lippincott. Other nominees that year were The High Crusade by Poul Anderson, Rogue Moon by Algis Budrys, Deathworld by Harry Harrison and Venus Plus X by Theodore Sturgeon. Surprisingly this is the only award this novel won.  

(9) BLACKBURN OBIT. Graphic designer “Bruce Blackburn, Designer of Ubiquitous NASA Logo, Dies at 82” reports the New York Times. He died February 1 at the age of 82,

…In 1975, NASA introduced the worm, a sleek sequence of winding red letters, and the logo quickly became a tangible symbol of a boundless space age that lay ahead.

“We did get what we set out to accomplish,” Mr. Blackburn said. “Anybody we showed it to immediately said, ‘Oh I know what that is. I know them. They’re really great. They’re right on the leading edge of everything.’”

But in 1992, a few years after the Challenger explosion, NASA dropped the worm and revived the meatball in a decision that was said to be intended to improve company morale.

Mr. Blackburn and other designers lamented the choice. “They said, ‘This is a crime. You cannot do this,’” he said. “‘This is a national treasure and you’re throwing it in the trash bin.”

“His design sensibility was offended by what happened,” his daughter said. “He thought the meatball was clumsy and sloppy and not representative of the future.”…

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]

  • Born February 19, 1923 – Alan Hunter.  Fan and pro artist; founded the Fantasy Art Society (U.K.); fifty covers, three hundred fifty interiors, for Banana Wings, DreamFantasy TalesMatrixNebulaNew Worlds, SF ChronicleVector, the Millennium Philcon Program Book (59th Worldcon), the LoneStarCon 3 Program Book (71st Worldcon).  Artist Guest at Fantasycon 1981.  Here is the Spring 53 Nebula.  Here is an interior from the Mar 53 New Worlds.  Here is an interior from Dream.  Here is the Oct 86 SF Chronicle.  Here is Vector 112.  Here is Banana Wings 38.  Our Gracious Host’s appreciation here.  (Died 2012) [JH]
  • Born February 19, 1937  Terry Carr. Well-known and loved fan, author, editor, and writing instructor. I usually don’t list awards both won and nominated for but his are damned impressed so I will. He was nominated five times for Hugos for Best Fanzine (1959–1961, 1967–1968), winning in 1959, was nominated three times for Best Fan Writer (1971–1973), winning in 1973, and he was Fan Guest of Honor at ConFederation in 1986. Wow. He worked at Ace Books before going freelance where he edited an original story anthology series called Universe, and The Best Science Fiction of the Year anthologies that ran from 1972 until his early death in 1987. Back to Awards again. He was nominated for the Hugo for Best Editor thirteen times (1973–1975, 1977–1979, 1981–1987), winning twice (1985 and 1987). His win in 1985 was the first time a freelance editor had won. Wow indeed. Novelist as well. Just three novels but all are still in print today though I don’t think his collections are and none of his anthologies seem to be currently either. A final note. An original anthology of science fiction, Terry’s Universe, was published the year after his death with all proceeds went to his widow. (Died 1987.) (CE) 
  • Born February 19, 1963 Laurell K. Hamilton, 58. She is best known as the author of two series of stories. One is the Anita Blake: Vampire Hunter of which I’ll confess I’ve read but several novels, the other is the Merry Gentry series which held my interest rather longer but which I lost in somewhere around the sixth or seventh novel when the sex became really repetitive. (CE) 
  • Born February 19, 1946 – Rosemary Ullyot, age 75.  Early member of the Ontario SF Club.  Fanzine Kevas & Trillium with Alicia Austin and Maureen Bournes.  “Kumquat May” column in Energumen.  Twice finalist for Best Fanwriter.  [JH]
  • Born February 19, 1957 – Jim Rittenhouse, age 64.  Founded Point of Divergence, alternative-history apa.  Guest of Honor at DucKon 12, Windycon 32.  Judge of the Sidewise Award.  Has read As I Lay DyingUncle Tom’s Cabin, Suetonius’ Twelve Caesars, Adam BedeLolitaOne Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.  “Why do I like fountain pens?  The smoothness and ease of writing, the clarity and solidity of the line, the profound coloring and the strong saturation of the ink.”  [JH]
  • Born February 19, 1964 Jonathan Lethem, 57. His first novel, Gun, with Occasional Music, a weird mix of SF and detective fiction, is fantastic in more ways that I can detail briefly here. I confess that I lost track of him after that novel so I’d be interested in hearing what y’all think of his later genre work particularly his latest, The Arrest. (CE)
  • Born February 19, 1966 Claude Lalumière, 55. I met him once here in Portland at a used book store in the the SFF section, and his wife wrote reviews for Green Man once upon a year. Author, book reviewer and editor who has edited numerous anthologies including two volumes of the excellent Tesseracts series.  Amazing writer of short dark fantasy stories collected in three volumes so far, Objects of WorshipThe Door to Lost Pages and Nocturnes and Other Nocturnes. Tachyon published his latest anthology, Super Stories of Heroes & Villains. (CE) 
  • Born February 19, 1968 Benicio del Toro, 53. Originally cast as Khan in that Trek film but unable to perform the role as he was committed to another film. He’s been The Collector in the Marvel film franchise, Lawrence Talbot in the 2010 remake of The Wolfman, and codebreaker DJ in Star Wars: The Last Jedi.  Let’s not forget that he was in Big Top Pee-wee as Duke, the Dog-Faced Boy followed by being in Terry Gilliam’s Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas as Dr. Gonzo which damn well should count as genre even if it isn’t. (CE) 
  • Born February 19, 1970 – Victor Ehikhamenor, age 51.  Writer, visual artist including photography and sculpture.  Exhibited in the first Nigerian pavilion at the Venice Biennale (57th Biennale, 2017).  Here is I Am Ogiso, the King of Heaven.  Here is The Unknowable (enamel & steel), Norval Foundation, Cape Town.  Here is Hypnotic Lover.  Here is Wealth of Nations, Nat’l Museum of African Art, Smithsonian Institution.  Website.  [JH]
  • Born February 19, 1973 – Nikki Alfar, age 49.  A score of short stories.  Three Palanca Awards.  Manila Critics’ Circle Nat’l Book Award.  Co-editor, Philippine Speculative Fiction.  Interviewed in Fantasy.  [JH]
  • Born February 19, 1984 – Marissa Meyer, age 37.  Re-told CinderellaLittle Red Riding HoodRapunzel, and Snow White in the Lunar Chronicles; the first, Cinder, MM’s début, was a NY Times Best-Seller; later Fairest, a prequel.  Heartless has the Queen of Hearts from Alice in Wonderland.  Half a dozen more novels, a dozen shorter stories.  Introduction to Yolen’s How to Fracture a Fairy Tale.  Has confessed to writing (under another name) twoscore pieces of Sailor Moon fanfiction.  [JH]

(11) COMICS SECTION.

  • Lio is always bizarre – this time it’s even funny.
  • Non Sequitur chronicles the Alexa / Siri conspiracy.
  • The Flying McCoys reveals that Superman buys outfits off the rack! (When they’re in stock.)

(12) HE’LL BE REMEMBERED. Milton Davis reports the GoFundMe was successful and that the headstone and monument for Charles R. Saunders’ grave have arrived.  The grave of famous fantasy writer Charles R. Saunders was without a headstone until friends raised money for it.

(13) REPURPOSED AND FUNNY. [Item by rcade.] The paranormal fantasy novelist Richard Kadrey has been reading some obscure science fiction paperbacks from the golden age of the lurid cover. Authors include Supernova Jackson, Cliff Zoom and Brawny Magnum.

The titles of Kadrey’s novels in his Sandman Slim series would be right at home on a shelf with these classics. They include Kill The Dead, Aloha from Hell, Ballistic Kiss and King Bullet, which comes out in August.

He’s also the founder with cyberpunk author Bruce Sterling of the Dead Media Project, which sought to save obsolete and forgotten forms of media. But it died.

(14) NOT A FAN. Variety’s Caroline Framke is not amused: “’Superman and Lois’ Brings The CW Superhero Brand Back Down to Boring Earth: TV Review”.

…It makes sense on paper for a new show about Superman to fast forward through the stuff that’s been done to death in order to find some new way into the man, the myth, the legend. Why not make him a harried dad juggling apocalyptic threats with teenage boys, one of whom might have the same kind of powers as he does? The CW’s dads are already supernaturally hot, so hey, might as well lean into the brand. (Hoechlin, like Tom Welling before him, does not at all have a Christopher Reeve level of charisma to bring to the role — but to be fair, who does?)

But for all the logical storylines and character journeys that “Superman and Lois” includes, it nonetheless lacks the spark to make any of it very interesting. Despite solid efforts from Tulloch, Garfin, and especially Elsass to bring life to their stiff scenes, these Kents feel more stuck than striking

(15) DO YOU REMEMBER. [Item by Mike Kennedy.[ Hugh freakin’ Jackman does the “announcer guy“ voiceover for a movie teaser… Io9 points to “Reminiscence First Look: The Sci-Fi Mystery Romance Is Out 9/3”. The clip is in Hugh Jackman’s tweet:

[Thanks to Michael Toman, rcade, James Davis Nicoll, John Hertz, Danny Sichel, Jeffrey Jones, Andrew Porter, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Martin Morse Wooster, Steven H Silver, Frank Catalano, Cat Eldridge, and Mike Kennedy for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Chris R.]

Pixel Scroll 10/31/17 Here’s Harry Mudd In Your AI

(1) HALLOWEEN VIGIL. John King Tarpinian commemorated his annual Halloween visit to Ray Bradbury’s gravesite with this photo.

(2) THE MOST GHOSTS. Halloween is a good day to be publicizing books newly available for sale from Richard Dalby’s Library.

One of the largest collections of rare and antiquarian supernatural and ghost books. If you’re looking for something special, unique and rare we might just have the book for you.

Richard Dalby was an editor and literary researcher noted for his anthologies of ghost stories. He was also an avid book collector and scholar. He sadly died in April 2017.

Read more about Richard Dalby in this article written by Brian Showers of Swan River Press, “Remembering Richard Dalby”:

 I first met Richard in Brighton at the World Horror Convention on 27 March 2010. Thinking back now, we certainly must have corresponded before 2010 as conversation was immediately familiar and friendly. I don’t think I’d ever seen a photograph of Richard prior to meeting him in Brighton, so was struck by his boyish appearance. It conflicted with the fact that his publication history goes right the way back. Jesus, how old was this guy? Not that old at all as it turned out.

But Richard wasn’t just boyish in appearance; he had something of that youthful manner about him too. Maybe curiosity is a better word for it. He was inquisitive. After brief salutations and nice-to-finally-meet-yous, Richard immediately launched into questions. I’d been working on Stoker a lot in those days, and he wanted to know what I knew about “X” edition, or if I had ever been able to track down the exact publication date of “Y”. Of course I hadn’t. Sure, I know more than the average person does about Stoker, but Richard’s knowledge far exceeded mine and by no small amount. And yet he asked me questions anyway because that’s how Richard seemed to work. He probed, asked questions, compiled, collected, and collated. I think that’s one of the key qualities Richard possessed that made him such a good researcher, bibliographer, and anthologist.

(3) MIND MELD. The B&N Sci-Fi & Fantasy Blog has assembled a “Mind Meld” for the holiday: “Mind Meld: Monster Mayhem—Vampires and Everything Else”. The question is:

What are your favorite books or stories featuring vampires or anything uncategorizable?

And the panelists are: Gareth L. Powell, Stina Leicht, Zachary Jernigan, Jason Sizemore, Mary Robinette Kowal, Jennifer Brozek, Christopher Golden, T. Frohock, Rachel Swirsky, Jason Arnopp, Dr Gillian Polack, Jeffrey Ford, Paul Cornell, Paul Jessup, Lara Elena Donnelly, Kristine Smith, Carrie Cuinn, Beth Cato, Brea Grant and Mallory O’Meara, Jaym Gates, Gail Z. Martin, Tracy Fahey, Jaime Lee Moyer, and Tracy Townsend.

(4) LOUD OUT THERE.  Who says they can’t hear screaming in space? Mike Chua of MikeShouts says “NASA’s Playlist Of Sounds From Space Is Apt For Sci-Fi-themed Halloween Party”.

Are you going to have a sci-fi-themed Halloween party? Well, if so, you will want these spooky sounds recorded in space by NASA as your soundtrack. Like, seriously. Be warned though, these sounds are really, really spooky. The level of spookiness cannot be overstated. I have listened to all the tracks in the playlist and all I can say that they sound more paranormal than space-ish. Aptly entitled Spooky Sounds from Across the Space, the playlist on Soundcloud includes 22 tracks pulled from NASA’s archive of sounds recorded in outer space by the various probes and orbiters, and therefore do not expect sweet, varying mood, orchestrated music from Contact.

(5) COSTUME OF THE DAY. Never thought of that wordplay before —

(6) THE FIRST ONE IS FREE. YouTube Red is airing Lifeline, produced by Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson’s Seven Bucks Digital Studios and Studio 71.

The series stars Zach Gilford (Friday Night Lights) and Sydney Park (The Walking Dead), and tells the story of a life insurance company that sends its agents into the future to prevent the accidental deaths of its clients.

 

(7) A VISIT TO THE REAL WORLD. Maggie Stiefvater: “I’ve decided to tell you guys a story about piracy”. Piracy not only costs sales, it kills series.

…There was another new phenomenon with Blue Lily, Lily Blue, too — one that started before it was published. Like many novels, it was available to early reviewers and booksellers in advanced form (ARCs: advanced reader copies). Traditionally these have been cheaply printed paperback versions of the book. Recently, e-ARCs have become common, available on locked sites from publishers.

BLLB’s e-arc escaped the site, made it to the internet, and began circulating busily among fans long before the book had even hit shelves. Piracy is a thing authors have been told to live with, it’s not hurting you, it’s like the mites in your pillow, and so I didn’t think too hard about it until I got that royalty statement with BLLB’s e-sales cut in half.

Strange, I thought. Particularly as it seemed on the internet and at my booming real-life book tours that interest in the Raven Cycle in general was growing, not shrinking. Meanwhile, floating about in the forums and on Tumblr as a creator, it was not difficult to see fans sharing the pdfs of the books back and forth. For awhile, I paid for a service that went through piracy sites and took down illegal pdfs, but it was pointless. There were too many. And as long as even one was left up, that was all that was needed for sharing.

I asked my publisher to make sure there were no e-ARCs available of book four, the Raven King, explaining that I felt piracy was a real issue with this series in a way it hadn’t been for any of my others. They replied with the old adage that piracy didn’t really do anything, but yes, they’d make sure there was no e-ARCs if that made me happy.

Then they told me that they were cutting the print run of The Raven King to less than half of the print run for Blue Lily, Lily Blue. No hard feelings, understand, they told me, it’s just that the sales for Blue Lily didn’t justify printing any more copies. The series was in decline, they were so proud of me, it had 19 starred reviews from pro journals and was the most starred YA series ever written, but that just didn’t equal sales. They still loved me.

This, my friends, is a real world consequence.

… The Ronan trilogy nearly didn’t exist because of piracy. And already I can see in the tags how Tumblr users are talking about how they intend to pirate book one of the new trilogy for any number of reasons, because I am terrible or because they would ‘rather die than pay for a book’. As an author, I can’t stop that. But pirating book one means that publishing cancels book two. This ain’t 2004 anymore. A pirated copy isn’t ‘good advertising’ or ‘great word of mouth’ or ‘not really a lost sale.’

It was preceded by this twitter thread:

And this post about why not every author can give away stuff for free:

Today on Twitter and Tumblr, I posted about piracy and the effect it had had on the publishing side of the Raven Cycle. Several readers lashed out at me and asked why I did not merely release an 11,000 word story for free if the publisher had decided not to release it — further, they noted, other “big name authors” released “loads” of free content and since I didn’t release “loads” of things for free, surely this meant I just was in it for the money.

…And I’m not going to speak to the giving away art for free business. The internet has discussed this a lot already, and the fact is that if you take away a paying-for-art model, you end up only getting art from people who can afford to work in their spare time or art that is supported by patrons — both models that we have seen before, both models that end up giving you art produced by and for a homogenous and upper class group. So moving on.

What I will speak to is the “loads” of free content business, because I haven’t addressed this before. I know there are authors who do release loads of free content. Stories of all lengths. Still other authors release loads of extra content available for a low cost, stories and novellas, etc. I can very much see how this is thrilling to readers. However, this will never be me, for four reasons:…

(8) NO OASIS IN 2018. The Orlando Area Science Fiction Society has announced they need more help to continue putting on the annual OASIS convention, and until they find it they’re skipping a year.

OASIS 29 revealed a need for restructuring our future conventions. As a result, we must regretfully announce that there will not be an OASIS convention in 2018.

We hope to present the next OASIS convention in 2019. We’ll provide the latest updates of our progress through Twitter, Facebook and the OASFiS web page.

However, that progress depends on you. Yes, you.

Each convention, we’ve asked people who love fandom to join OASFiS and help us build future conventions and events. In this critical time, we need you more than ever. It might be fun to watch fan activities from an audience seat, but it’s more fulfilling to make them happen and bring your own ideas to the world.

We want to bring greater events beyond the convention, involving all of Central Florida’s fan communities, but that requires the involvement of your minds, bodies and souls. Come to our monthly meetings – which we’re planning to move to a comfortable location in downtown Orlando, to be announced soon – and talk to us. As we’ve discovered, it’s good to have some friends. But it’s better to have more friends.

(9) JULIAN MAY. Here’s the Chicago Sun-Times’ obituary, published today: “Julian May, who weaved worlds in sci-fi, fantasy novels, dead at 86”

Julian May’s Christmas tree was bedecked with a flying-dinosaur ornament handcrafted by someone better known for writing “I, Robot” and other sci-fi classics — Isaac Asimov. Author Ray Bradbury used to bounce her son on his knee.

Before becoming a popular science-fiction writer herself, Ms. May grew up in a Cape Cod home in Elmwood Park, attended Trinity High School in River Forest and landed her first job at Burny Brothers bakery at 2445 N. Harlem.

Her books included two sprawling sci-fi sagas: the four “Saga of Pliocene Exile” novels and the six-book “Galactic Milieu” series. They incorporate aliens, barbarians, time travel, swordplay and paleontology, with elements of Carl Jung and Celtic and Norse mythology.

Ms. May, who wrote 19 science-fiction and fantasy novels and more than 250 young-adult nonfiction books, died of a heart attack Oct. 17 at Overlake Hospital in Bellevue, Wash. She was 86….

(10) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • October 31, 1926 – Harry Houdini died.

(11) COMICS SECTION.

  • John King Tarpinian encountered a question about Dracula’s sartorial splendor in today’s Shoe.

(12) MANUFACTURER’S RECALL. If you rushed to buy the new Penric novella on the first day, Lois McMaster Bujold says you need to check whether you received a corrupted edition.

I would advise Kindle customers to give up waiting on the “manage your content and devices” page and go straight to the chat solution, as explained.

… The problem should only apply to customers who bought on the first days, Friday Oct. 27 and most of Saturday Oct. 28.  (The corrected file went up Saturday afternoon/evening.)  Files sold from Sunday Oct. 30 onward should be updated and complete.  Do please pass the word, as I doubt all the first-day purchasers read my blog (although, happily, it seems many do.)

To see if you have a good copy (or not), do the “Limnos corrections cross-check”:

As discussed (at length) in the prior post, the file uploaded on Friday of “The Prisoner of Limnos” was corrupted due to a formatting glitch — 14 out of its 18 chapters were missing their final paragraphs. We caught up with the problem on Saturday afternoon, and a fresh and supposedly corrected file was uploaded at the three vendors.

Bujold concludes, “For all the aggravation, I do have to admit this beats binning a multi-thousand-copy bad paper print run.”

(13) WITCHES UNFAMILIAR. Jamie at Pornokitsch turns the pages of several recent comic books in “Hubble, bubble, toil and feminism: Witches in comics”.

The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina also takes the form of a coming-of-age horror. While Harrow County has a positive message about female friendship, Chilling Adventures tells a much muddier story.

Written by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa and illustrated by Robert Hack, Chilling Adventures is part of the Archie Comics horror line and sends Sabrina back to a 1960s setting. Using this historical time period –  a decade of changing attitudes – helps polarise Sabrina’s position not only as a girl halfway between the worlds of the witches and regular humans, between girlhood and womanhood, but also between the old and new ways of thinking. The old hidebound rules of the witches represent the old way, the coven standing in for the stratified social systems of family and motherhood that constrained women for so long.

Sabrina’s time in the human world – a normal teenage girl in high school – shows all the new attitudes of the 1960s. There, Sabrina is dating a football player, studying In Cold Blood and trying to get the big role in the school adaptation of Bye Bye Birdie. She looks up to the new drama teacher, Ms. Porter who, unfortunately, turns out to be a long-thought-dead witch with a grudge against the Spellman family.  Ms. Porter (a.k.a. Madam Satan) is herself something of a dichotomy. In her mortal guise she is a sympathetic confidante, a no-nonsense woman with the tell-tale ‘Ms.’.  When we see her in her witchy moments, however, she’s driven by jealousy, lust and vanity, a trio of sins classically assigned to ‘witchy’ women. In Chilling Adventures, Sabrina’s attempts to move away from this outdated view of femininity that provides so much of the comic’s thematic tension and makes its witches so compelling.

(14) GOBLIN UP THE SHORT FICTION. Jason has devoured October’s short fiction and has recommendations on the tastiest treats in the “Summation of Online Fiction: October 2017” at Featured Futures.

September was the scary month with few great or even particularly good stories but October rebounded resoundingly with several remarkable tales (out of only thirty-four read of 157K words), and from relatively unusual venues. Flash Fiction Online produced an excellent Valloween issue combining Valentine relationships with Halloween darkness. Uncanny and Apex also had stories above the usual fare. While Nature produced no recs this month, it produced a double-honorable-mention and got into the Halloween spirit with both, one of which would have fit into the FFO issue and one of which was outright horror. Plus there was a trio of quite remarkable near-misses of fantasy from a trio of other sources, at least a couple of which also fit the season and one of which was a rare webzine novella. For those not in the Halloween mood, there were still a few good tales that weren’t so dark. Speaking of scary, though, Tor.com published only one story in September and posted only two original ones in October. Here’s hoping they get back on track.

(15) STRANGER CONOISSEUR. Camestros Felapton is on duty beside the TV, giving us “Review: Stranger Things 2 (spoilers avoided)”:

The hyper genre-aware Netlfix show is back with another nine hour marathon wearing the early 1980’s as a halloween costume. If you didn’t like the first series, fair enough – tastes very and I’ll discuss one of the biggest issues I have with the show below. If you did like the first series then you’ll like this one also. Essentially while the characters have grown and the plot advances, the core features of the show are the same. Personally, I was absolutely riveted.

…The strength of the show remains with a great cast with strong characters. Wynona Ryder as Joyce Byers gets to be less frantic for more of the show but still conveys an electric mix of nervous energy and fierce determination to protect her family against absolutely ANYTHING. Above all she is a wonderful antidote to the cliche of the disbelieving adult – as with the first series, she follows the internal logic of the crazy situation with a compassionate ruthlessness.

The younger cast remain brilliant and charming and plausible. The addition of Max, a skateboarding new kid from out of town, broadens the gender mix of the core gang. While among the adults, Sean Astin plays Wynona Ryder’s romantic interest as an adult nerd – which is a handy trait in a show where being a nerd is often a handy superpower….

(16) ANOTHER ENTRY IN THE LITTLE BLUE BOOK. Doctor Who News predicts there will be a close encounter of the fourth kind — specifically, “River Song to Meet Fourth Doctor”.

River Song as played by Alex Kingston, is to meet the Fourth Doctor, played by Tom Baker, in a new set of audio adventures released by Big Finish. Series Four of The Diary of River Song, to be released in August 2018, will see the archaeologist encounter Doctor Number Four, in a set of new adventures alongside the longest serving Doctor. Meanwhile Series Three of the Diary of River Song will released in January 2018, and will feature the Fifth Doctor, as played by Peter Davison, battling against the most evil midwife in Doctor Who history, Madame Kovarian, played by Frances Barber.

(17) TAKE THREE AND CALL ME IN THE MORNING. BigThink takes the piss out of Pythagoras: “Scientists Discover the Purpose of a Mysterious 3700-Year-Old Babylonian Tablet” .

The tablet has 15 rows of numbers written in cuneiform over four columns. It uses a base 60 numeral system (called “sexagesimal”), which originated with ancient Sumerians. What was the tablet used for? The scientists think it might have been an invaluable aid in the construction of palaces, temples and canals. Before pocket calculators, trigonometric tables were used widely in a variety of fields. They let you use one known ratio of the sides of a right-angle triangle to figure out the other two unknown ratios.

One of the study’s authors, Dr. Daniel Mansfield from the UNSW School of Mathematics and Statistics, explained why the tablet held such mystery –

“Plimpton 322 has puzzled mathematicians for more than 70 years, since it was realised it contains a special pattern of numbers called Pythagorean triples. The huge mystery, until now, was its purpose – why the ancient scribes carried out the complex task of generating and sorting the numbers on the tablet,” said Mansfield. “Our research reveals that Plimpton 322 describes the shapes of right-angle triangles using a novel kind of trigonometry based on ratios, not angles and circles.”

He also called the tablet “a fascinating mathematical work that demonstrates undoubted genius.” Mansfield said the mathematics on the tablet are advanced even for our modern trigonometry. Plimpton 322 also shows the Babylonians proved the famous Pythagorean theorem a thousand years before Greek mathematician Pythagoras was born.

Interestingly, not only is this the world’s oldest trigonometric table, it’s also “the only completely accurate” one because of its reliance on the potentially more precise base 60.

(18) JAUNTY ALOUETTE. The Traveler at Galactic Journey keeps watching the skies: “[October 31, 1962] Trick and Treat! (A Halloween candy wrap-up of the Space Race)”.

Typically, a Thor Agena B launch from Southern California means yet another Air Force “Discoverer” spy sat has gone up; such flights are now weekly occurrences.  But the flight that went up September 29 actually carried a civilian payload into polar orbit: Alouette 1, the first Canadian satellite.

Alouette is designed to study the ionosphere, that charged layer of the atmosphere hundreds of miles up.  But unlike the sounding rockets routinely sent into the zone, Alouette will survey (or “sound”) the ionosphere from above.  Canada is particularly interested in understanding how and when the sun disrupts the region, interrupting radio communications.  Our neighbor to the north is a big country, after all, and it is the Northern Hemisphere’s first line of defense against Soviet missiles and bombers.  Radio is, therefore, vital to both defense and civilian interests.

According to early data, it looks like the highest “F2” layer of the ionosphere is as reflective to radio waves from the top as the bottom.  Alouette has also, by beaming multiple frequencies down to Earth, helped scientists determine what radio wavelengths aren’t blocked by the ionosphere.

(19) A MUCH DIFFERENT BOY AND HIS DOG. From Deadline: “Amblin Entertainment Acquires Tom Hanks Sci-Fi Package ‘Bios’”.

Writers are Craig Luck and Ivor Powell. The story is about a robot on an a post-apocalyptic Earth who was programmed to protect his creator’s dog. Through that, the robot learns about love, friendship and the meaning of life. Producing will be ImageMovers Jack Rapke and Jackie Levine along with writer Powell. Bob Zemeckis, Luck and Sapochnik will be executive producer.

(20) NOW ON THE SHELVES. The Archie McPhee catalog acknowledges our debt to these unsung professionals with their new LIBRARIAN ACTION FIGURE!

What’s that in the sky? It’s our new super-powered Librarian Action Figure! We need heroes right now who can help us navigate information, point us to reliable sources and recommend books that help us grow in our understanding of our fellow humans. In other words, move over Captain America, it’s time for the librarians. Based on Seattle librarian Nancy Pearl, this action figure has a removable cape and a deep knowledge of how knowledge is organized. Celebrate an everyday hero!

[Thanks to Meredith, ULTRAGOTHA, Carl Slaughter, John King Tarpinian, JJ, Cat Eldridge, Andrew Porter, Juan Sanmiguel, and Wendy Gale for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]

2016 Saturn Awards

Saturn 1The Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror Films announced the 2016 Saturn Award winners on June 22 in Burbank.

John Barrowman, the awards host, is shown here in a photo with Alex Kingston, on hand to pick up the award for Doctor Who’s “The Husbands of River Song,” and Buffy veteran Clare Kramer.

2016 Saturn Winners

Best Science Fiction Film: Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens

Best Comic-to-Film Motion Picture: Ant-Man

Best Fantasy Film: Cinderella

Best Horror Film: Crimson Peak

Best Action / Adventure Film: Furious 7

Best Thriller Film: Bridge of Spies

Best Actor in a Film: Harrison Ford (Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens)

Best Actress in a Film: Charlize Theron (Mad Max: Fury Road)

Best Supporting Actor in a Film: Adam Driver (Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens)

Best Supporting Actress in a Film: Jessica Chastain (Crimson Peak)

Best Performance by a Younger Actor: Ty Simpkins (Jurassic World)

Best Director: Ridley Scott (The Martian)

Best Writing: Lawrence Kasdan, J.J. Abrams, Michael Arndt (Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens)

Best Production Design: Thomas E. Sanders (Crimson Peak)

Best Editing: Maryann Brandon, Mary Jo Markey (Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens)

Best Music: John Williams (Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens)

Best Costume: Alexandra Byrne (Avengers: Age of Ultron)

Best Make-Up: Neal Scanlan (Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens)

Best Special Effects: Roger Guyett, Patrick Tubach, Neal Scanlan, Chris Corbould (Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens)

Best Independent Film Release: Room

Best International Film Release: Turbo Kid

Best Animated Film: Inside Out

Best Science Fiction Television Series: Continuum

Best Fantasy Television SeriesOutlander

Best Horror Television Series: The Walking Dead

Best Action / Thriller Television Series: Hannibal

Best Superhero Adaptation Television Series: The Flash

Best New Media Television Series: Marvel’s Daredevil

Best Television Presentation: Doctor Who: The Husbands of River Song

Best Actor on Television: Bruce Campbell (Ash vs. Evil Dead)

Best Actress on Television: Caitriona Balfe (Outlander)

Best Supporting Actor on Television: Richard Armitage (Hannibal)

Best Supporting Actress on Television: Danai Gurira (The Walking Dead)

Best Performance by a Younger Actor: Chandler Riggs (The Walking Dead)

Best Guest Star on Television: William Shatner (Haven)

Best DVD / BD Release: Burying The Ex

Best DVD / BD Classic Film Release: Miracle Mile

Best DVD / BD Collection Release: The Frank Darabont Collection

Best DVD / BD Television Series Release: The X-Files: Collector’s Set

Best DVD / BD Special Edition Release: X-Men: Days of Future Past (Rogue Cut)

Best Local Live Stage ProductionTarzan (3D Theatricals)

The Lifetime Achievement Award: Nichelle Nichols

The George Pal Memorial Award: Simon Kinberg

The President’s Award: Television’s Haven

The Spotlight Award: Better Call Saul

The Dan Curtis Legacy Award: Eric Kripke

The Special Recognition Award: Brannon Braga

The Breakthrough Performance Award: Melissa Benoist

Space City Comic Con Disappoints Some, Wows Others

One of the drawing cards for Houston’s Space City Comic Con, held this weekend, was the Sons of Anarchy cast reunion.

Charlie Hunnam, star of the biker drama aired for seven seasons on FX, was advertised as appearing the entire weekend. But he left after Friday, with social media passing rumors that he and other actors had not been paid. The response on Facebook was heated.

“Those of you jealous over those of us who got VIPs for the Space City Comic Con – don’t feel bad. Our passes were worthless. Seriously. Actors checked bounced, many are leaving tonight. ”

“Glad Im not the only one who got screwed over today, thnx Space City Comic Con, Ill be waiting for my refund.”

“the celebs are very upset and leaving tonight. “

The Houston Press quizzed SCCC co-owner Johnny Steverson:

Steverson went into strict no comment mode when asked about reports of bounced checks including one to Sons of Anarchy’s Charlie Hunnam who was reported to have been at the event Saturday morning but left. Steverson also said no comment when asked if any VIP ticket purchasers had requested their money back. There were reports Saturday that not all pre-paid celebrity autographs were being honored.

Other Sons of Anarchy actors — Ron Perlman, Chris Reed, Timothy Murphy and Kenny Johnson – fulfilled their panel assignments on Saturday. Danny Trejo was there, too. For those signing on Saturday, however, the arrangements were different, reports My Own Little Shadow:

And early indications of Fallout from yesterday’s Sons of Anarchy walkout are evident on the signs posted on all of the Sons of Anarchy cast signing tables.

They say that they will not accept the pre-purchase tickets for autographs or photo ops. They are now running a cash-only business.

The convention staff did its best to avoid controversy the rest of the weekend.

In contrast, fans who went to SCCC mainly to see Star Trek legend William Shatner, or Doctor Who actresses Alex Kingston and Billie Piper, went away happy. The payment arrangement for autographs was cleared up, as the Houston Press reported: “Sunday, a representative for Alex Kingston confirmed that con officials told them to stop taking autograph vouchers, then told them to start taking them again.”

(One of last year’s Worldcon GoHs, NASA astronaut Kjell Lindgren, also put in an appearance.)

Alex Kingston and Billie Piper at SCCC. Via Riversongbadass-Whovian-Overload Tumblr.

Alex Kingston and Billie Piper at SCCC. Via Riversongbadass-Whovian-Overload Tumblr.

The SoA reunion was not the only drama played out at SCCC.

Bleeding Cool learned that a notorious art pirate had his wares for sale at SCCC via a proxy, and gave its story this convoluted headline — “Filter Swiper Joseph Bayer, Banned From MomoCon, But At Space City Comic Con Via Cosplayer Spock Vegas”.

Virginia-based Joseph Bayer is one of those folk who takes artwork from others, puts a filter on it and sells them as original prints. You can read Bleeding Cool’s expose on him last month here.

He was recently identified and called out on Imgur after an appearance at an east coast comic con which got quite a lot of attention….

This weekend, Johnny Segura discovered that the cosplayer Spock Vegas (prints seen in the photo above by Jason Scholte.) had set up at Space City Comic Con in Houston this weekend, selling these prints. Spock Vegas is a guest at the show. He also has a reputation for charging for any photos taken of him.

Spock Vegas told Segura that he gets them from a friend in Virginia (which is how he figured out it was Bayer) and that they split the profits.

[Thanks to David Doering for the story.]