Alex Ross Depicts Stunning Portraits Of Marvel’s First Family In New Fantastic Four Variant Covers

The Fantastic Four are about to enter an all-new era. The upcoming run by writer Ryan North and artist Iban Coello will be ripe with mystery and overflowing with suspense as it finds the team separated after a devastating incident back in New York. The first three issues will deliver exciting standalone adventures starring Ben Grimm and Alicia, Reed and Sue, and Johnny before the team’s heartbreaking and revelatory reunion in February’s Fantastic Four #4!

In addition to gracing the series with breathtaking main covers, legendary artist Alex Ross will mark this major milestone with a series of variant covers for the opening four issues. Presented in striking black and white and capturing the team’s timeless appeal, the iconic Fantastic Four artist has crafted classic portraits of all four members of the team in these solo variant covers.

Discover what happened to the Fantastic Four and find out what it will take to bring them back together when Ryan North and Iban Coello’s Fantastic Four begins on November 9. For more information, visit Marvel.com.

FANTASTIC FOUR #1: Written by RYAN NORTH; Art by IBAN COELLO; Solo Variant Cover by ALEX ROSS; On Sale 11/9

FANTASTIC FOUR #2: Written by RYAN NORTH; Art by IBAN COELLO; Solo Variant Cover by ALEX ROSS; On Sale 12/7

FANTASTIC FOUR #3: Written by RYAN NORTH; Art by IBAN COELLO; Solo Variant Cover by ALEX ROSS; On Sale 1/4

FANTASTIC FOUR #4: Written by RYAN NORTH; Art by IBAN COELLO; Solo Variant Cover by ALEX ROSS; On Sale 2/15

[Based on a press release.]

Marvel Comics’ New Era of Fantastic Four

The next adventures of Marvel’s first family arrive November 9. Writer Ryan North and artist Iban Coello launch an all-new run of Fantastic Four where they’ll take this beloved team of super hero icons to exciting new places throughout the Marvel Universe and beyond. This bold new era will kick off with the team spread across the country after a devastating event takes place back in New York. North and Coello will craft separate adventures spotlighting each member of the team before bringing in the band back together in epic fashion at the end of the book’s first arc. The debut issue will star Ben Grimm and Alicia Masters as they embark on a road trip that takes a very weird turn…

Something terrible has happened to the Fantastic Four and the Thing and Alicia are traveling across America to leave it behind. But when they stop in a small town for the night and wake up the morning before they arrived, they find themselves caught in a time loop that’s been going on since before they were born… That’s been going on since before they were born… That’s been going on since before they were born…

“I want to do these smaller, self-contained stories in the vein of ’60s Star Trek where they go down to a planet, find a weird thing, fix the weird thing, and move on,” North said of his approach in an interview with Entertainment Weekly. “Having these four weirdos roll into town where there’s a mystery or a problem or some sci-fi thing, solve the problem, and then move on struck me as a very interesting way to position the Fantastic Four and tell stories that would feel fresh and not like a retread of what we’ve seen before.”

Whatever happened to the Fantastic Four? Get your first hints in the all-new interior artwork that follows the jump. For more information, visit Marvel.com.

Continue reading

Pixel Scroll 10/3/22 My Positronic Brain It Teems With Endless Subroutines

(1) FANTASTIC FICTION AT KGB FUNDRAISER. Fantastic Fiction at KGB is a monthly speculative-fiction reading series held on the second Wednesday of every month at the KGB Bar in Manhattan, hosted by Ellen Datlow and Matthew Kressel. Admission is always free. To cover the next round of guest expenses, they have launched their first fundraiser in three years, with a $6,000 goal: “Fantastic Fiction reading series at the KGB Bar Gofundme”.

The monthly series, which has been running since the late 1990s , serves as a salon, where writers, editors, agents, and fans of science fiction, fantasy, and horror can co-mingle in a shared event space. The series also served a vital social function during multiple Covid lockdown periods, when we featured authors from all over the globe on our live YouTube channel, and people who were isolated due to the lockdown could keep in contact with the writing community. We also release a free podcast, where we post audio recordings of the monthly readings.

Running the series costs us money. We pay a stipend to our guests, we pay for their drinks at the bar, and we also take them out to dinner after the readings. At present, the series costs about $2,000 per year to run. Unfortunately, we are almost out of money from our last fundraiser three years ago. We hope to raise at least $6,000, which will fund the series for three more years. It would be great if we could raise more.

(2) BLACK PANTHER. “Show them who we are.” A new trailer for Marvel Studios’ Black Panther: Wakanda Forever dropped today. See it only in theaters beginning November 11.

(3) CALL FOR SUBMISSIONS — JOURNEY PLANET: ANTHROPOCENE RUMINATIONS. [Item by Olav Rokne and Amanda Wakaruk.] When Chris Garcia and James Bacon approached us to guest edit an edition of their Hugo-winning fanzine Journey Planet, they asked us “what subject would you most like to tackle?”

The answer was easy: climate fiction.

Climate change is the defining crisis of our age. Given that the causes of climate change are rooted in technological transformations celebrated by the past century of science fiction, enthusiasts like us have some responsibility to grapple with what it means.

The upcoming “Anthropocene Ruminations” will contain some of the various ways in which SFF fans are grappling with a rapidly heating and chaotic planet: through fiction, through art, through poetry, and through critical discourse. 

We’re hoping to have reviews of books depicting climate change, discussions of historical trends, and examinations of aspects of climate change that may have been neglected by genre fiction. 

We’d love to hear article and art pitches from across the fandom community (that means all y’all). Send us your ideas before October 15 (email BOTH of us at amanda.wakaruk at gmail dot com and olavrokne at gmail dot com). We’re aiming to have the finished works submitted by November 15. 

Will “Anthropocene Ruminations” singlehandedly solve climate change? It’s too early to say for certain. What it’s not too early to say is that it will contain some pieces by Hugo-finalist and Hugo-winning fanwriters.

Drop us a line. Amanda & Olav. Unofficial Hugo Book Club Blog co-editors

(4) KEEPING UP WITH CORA BUHLERT. The alumni newsletter of Bremen University, Kurzmeldungen, listed Cora Buhlert’s Hugo win.

Issue Zero of New Edge Sword & Sorcery Magazine published Cora’s article about C.L. Moore and Jirel of Joiry, as well as fiction and non-fiction by Howard Andrew Jones, Brian Murphy, Milton J. Davis, Nicole Emmelhainz, David C. Smith, Dariel R.A. Quiogue, Remco van Strane and Angeline B. Adams, Bryn Hammond, J.M. Clarke, T.K. Rex, Robin Marx and editor Oliver Brackebury. The digital edition is free, the print editions are fairly cheap.

And Cora has an essay about anime in West Germany in the 1970s and 1980s in Rising Sun Reruns: Memories of Japanese TV Shows from Today’s Grown-Up Kids.

In these pages you will find glowing memories of flights of fancy such as Ultraman, Johnny Sokko and His Flying Robot, Astro Boy, Battle of the Planets, Space Giants, Speed Racer, Robotech, and many, many more—including a few you may never even heard of!

(5) NOBEL PRIZE FOR PHYSIOLOGY OR MEDICINE. “Svante Pääbo Wins Nobel Prize for Unraveling the Mysteries of Neanderthal DNA”Smithsonian Magazine has the story.

The Nobel Committee for Physiology or Medicine awarded the field’s top prize on Monday to Svante Pääbo, a Swedish geneticist who determined how to extract and analyze DNA from 40,000-year-old Neanderthal bones. Pääbo’s decades of research have made it possible for scientists to begin probing differences between today’s modern humans and their ancient ancestors.

Pääbo, who is 67, has spent decades pioneering and perfecting new methods of extracting Neanderthal DNA, an extremely complex and challenging process. Over time, very old DNA degrades and can become polluted with the DNA of bacteria, and modern scientists can also easily contaminate it with their own genetic material.

But time and again, Pääbo found ways around these and other issues. In 2010, after years of painstaking work, Pääbo and his team published the sequenced Neanderthal genome, a feat that at one time was considered impossible, reports the New York Times’ Benjamin Mueller. As Elizabeth Kolbert wrote in her book The Sixth Extinction, the process was like trying to reconstruct a “Manhattan telephone book from pages that have been put through a shredder, mixed with yesterday’s trash, and left to rot in a landfill.”

…On Monday morning, Pääbo was just finishing a cup of tea when he got a call from Sweden. He assumed the call was bad news about his family’s summer home in Sweden and was instead surprised to learn he’d won the Nobel Prize. When asked whether he ever envisioned winning science’s most prestigious prize, Pääbo humbly replied that he “somehow did not think that this really would… qualify for a Nobel Prize,” per an interview posted on the Nobel Prize website….

Here’s a further excerpt from the Nobel’s “Svante Pääbo – Interview”.

…AS: Your work is of course on the sequencing of these early hominins. What does our knowledge, your knowledge of the genetic makeup of those species tell us about our relationship with them.

SP: Well, it does tell us that we are very closely related, first of all, and we’re actually so closely related that they have contributed quite directly, 50, 60 thousand years ago, DNA to the ancestors of most people today, those who have their roots outside Africa. And that variation that, sort of, those variants do have an influence, and influence many things in our physiology today.

AS: Do you think that changes our view of ourselves, knowing that?

SP: In some sense, I do think it does so, the sort of realisation that until quite recently, maybe 14 hundred generations or so ago there were other forms of humans around and they mixed with our ancestors and have contributed to us today. The fact that the last 40 thousand years is quite unique in human history, in that we are the only form of humans around. Until that time, there were almost always other types of humans that existed.

(6) A MOMENT IN SFF HISTORY. “Science Fiction In Communist Bloc Changed Forever 40 Years Ago” writes Jaroslav Olsa Jr., the Consul General of the Czech Consulate in Los Angeles.

In October 1982, the first issue of FANTASTYKA, Polish science fiction monthly reached its first readers. This was the first real science fiction magazine in the former Soviet bloc! And it had an enormous impact on science fiction in other neighbouring countries as the situation in Eastern Europe was significantly different than in Western Europe as all publishing business in Soviet bloc was under strict control of each state and its leading (often Communist) party. The publishing houses were operated and owned predominantely by state ministries or its subsidiaries, controlled more or less visibly by various types of censorship bodies and though in some Soviet bloc countries in different times publishing was allowed greater freedom (e. g. Yugoslavia, Hungary and/or 1980s Poland), there was never allowed a free press.

And thus even publishing SF fanzines was a sort of risky adventure…

Thank you late Adam Hollanek, late Maciej Parowski, late Andrzej Krzepkowski, Jacek Rodek, Andrzej Wójcik and many many others, who gave us Fantastyka, and who helped us to open the window to science fiction in the West and internationalize science fiction – something then a real novelty….

(7) MICKEY MOUSE CAPITALISM. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In the Financial Times behind a paywall, Elaine Moore discusses how Disney CEO Bob Chapek is concerned that people who show up at a Disney park every week are crowding out the occasional visitor who will spend a lot of money on stuff.

The problem is that super fans don’t spend as much per visit as occasional park visitors.  There are only so many Minnie Mouse headbands a person can wear.  For some, the annual pass that allows buyers to visit Disney parks throughout the year is extremely good value too.  A one day trip to Disney World in Florida is $109.  The annual Incredi Pass is $1,299 plus tax. Visit once a month and you break even.  Go every week and you’d save over $4,000.  The mismatch has shades of the MoviePass debacle, in which subscribers paid less than $10 per month for multiple cinema trips.  MoviePass guessed they might visit once or twice a month.  But their willingness to go day after day left the company bankrupt…

…At the recent D23 Expo there were complaints that passes were still suspended.  Unluckily for them, Chapek used to run the parks division.  He knows that demand is far higher than supply and is sufficiently unsentimental to take advantage.  Prices would double and visitors would pay them.  Disney fans may moan but they will still keep coming back.”

(8) ANTI-MUSLIM SENTIMENTS. The culture war is engulfing Bollywood reports the Guardian: “Bollywood under siege as rightwing social media boycotts start to bite”.

…For decades, India’s Hindi film industry, known as Bollywood, has been one of the country’s most popular products, for Indians themselves and the world at large. But the consolidation of Hindu nationalism under the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), has marked a cultural shift.

Laal Singh Chaddha stars, and is produced by, Aamir Khan, one of Hindi cinema’s trio of superstar Khans (Shahrukh and Salman are the other two, all unrelated). On its release, social-media platforms witnessed a tidal wave of targeted attacks calling for a boycott of the movie. The resurfacing of remarks made by Khan on the rise of “intolerance” in India in 2015, as well as clips from his 2014 film PK (which criticised blind-faith belief) were coupled with targeted tweets. Laal Singh Chaddha has fared poorly at the box office, but the calls for a boycott have not stopped. Other movies, such as Vikram Vedha, Dobaara, Shamshera and Brahmastra, are also in the line of fire, the last two owing to the recirculation of 11-year-old remarks by the lead actor, Ranbir Kapoor, on eating beef….

(9) SALES FIGURES. In the Washington Post, David Betancourt looks at the process that Hasbro uses to make 32-inch action figures that cost $399,99.  (The latest, Galactus, will be “a towering 32-inch monstrosity of plastic articulation.”)  Betancourt says Hasbro uses a crowdfunding method of deciding which giant action figures to make; they greenlit the huge Galactus last summer after 14,000 people agreed to buy it.) “Would you buy a $400 Marvel action figure? Thousands of people can’t wait.”

In comic books,Galactus is known as the devourer of worlds. When it comes to action figures, Galactus is now the destroyer of wallets.

Hasbro decided that its newest figure depicting the giant planet eater from Marvel’s Fantastic Four wouldn’t be the typical six-inch toy that retails inthe $20 to $30 range and decorates work desks and bookshelves. This Galactus,with a design based on the art of famed Marvel writer-artist John Byrne, would be a towering 32-inch-tall monstrosity of plastic articulation. The figure, scheduled for release some timethis fall, is the biggest toy Hasbro has ever built for its Marvel line, which is fitting, given Galactus’s gigantic stature….

(10) A FREE-TO-READ STORY. Sunday Morning Transport presents “A Hole in the Light” by Annalee Newitz, “an astounding new world wrapped around a stellar story of grief and growth.”

Arch had never been to a ritual of dissolution for someone who mattered.

Of course, there were distant kin who had died. But when they dissolved, it felt like they had moved to the next village: poignant, but not a disaster. The artificiality of the ritual made her more uncomfortable than their loss. Well, perhaps that wasn’t quite true. She had genuinely suffered when her physics teacher had died, and she could no longer ask questions about what lay beyond the village of Slope-Toward-Sea, on the planet Skiff, wrapped in the mottled glow of the eroding firmament. Even when her teacher dissolved, though, the ritual had seemed absurd….

(11) MEMORY LANE.  

2016 [By Cat Eldridge.] Six years ago on NBC the Timeless series debuted. (Yes, I do delve into the recent past on occasion). It would last but two seasons. (Yes, two seasons. Read below for why it was only two seasons, really.)

Not terribly original in concept, it involved a group that attempts to stop a mysterious organization from changing the course of history through time travel. 

It was created by Eric Kripke who of Supernatural series fame along with the later The Boys, and Shawn Ryan who’s done nothing else they genre wise but has created S.W.A.T. that I love and Lie to Me, a rather odd crime drama series I also like a lot. Yes, I have odd tastes.

Project Lifeboat, among its members, had a history professor, a Delta forces soldier, a computer programmer and a creator of the Lifeboat time machines. Ok I did say it wasn’t a terribly original concept, didn’t I so guess what? NBC got sued by the Spanish series El ministerio del tiempo (The Ministry of Time), which follows the adventures of a three-person team made up of two men and a woman who travel to the past with a view to preserving past events.  

It went to court but eventually “their attorneys of record hereby stipulate that the entire civil action may be and hereby is dismissed with prejudice, with each party bearing that party’s fees and costs of suit.” One assumes that large sums of money were involved. Isn’t there always money involved when such things need to be settled?

Getting back to the series, it was cancelled after the second season but a massive, and I do mean massive, fan campaign sort of saved it, so it got a special two-part finale. It originally didn’t make the cut for the next fall season but when they started getting a pushback from fans, NBC responded saying “And then we woke up the next morning, heard the outcry (from fans). We went back to the drawing board, with our partners at Sony, and we found a way to bring it back. It’s extraordinarily well produced and deserved to come back.”

Unlike many similar series, it was allowed a proper wrap-up. Fandango noted, “A fitting farewell, Timeless wraps with a fun, festive finale that ties up loose ends and provides enough fan service to satisfy.”

It carries a most excellent seventy-seven percent rating among audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes. It does not appear to be streaming for free anywhere. 

(12) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born October 3, 1933 Norman Adams. The SF Encyclopedia says genre wise that “Adams may be best known for his cover for the first edition of Larry’s Niven’s World of Ptavvs” on Ballantine Books in 1966.  I must say having looked at his ISFDB listings that their assessment is absolutely right. (Died 2014.)
  • Born October 3, 1927 Don Bensen. Best-known for his novel And Having Writ… which is not in print in form digitally or in hard copy — damn it. Indeed, nothing by him is. Huh. (Died 1997.)
  • Born October 3, 1931 Ray Nelson, 91. SF writer best known for his short story “Eight O’Clock in the Morning” which was the basis of John Carpenter’s They Live.  He later collaborated with Philip K. Dick on The Ganymede Takeover. In the 1940s Nelson appropriated the propeller beanie as a symbol of science fiction fandom. His fannish cartoons were recognized with the Rotsler Award in 2003. He was inducted to the First Fandom Hall of Fame in 2019.
  • Born October 3, 1935 Madlyn Rhue. She on Trek’s “Space Seed” as Lt. Marla McGivers, Khan Noonien Singh’s (Ricardo Montalbán) love interest. Other genre appearances included being on the original Fantasy Island as Lillie Langtry in “Legends,” and Maria in the “Firefall” episode of Kolchak: The Night. (Died 2003.)
  • Born October 3, 1944 Katharine Kerr, 78. Ok I’m going to confess that I’ve not read her Deverry series so please tell me how they are. Usually I do read such Celtic tinged series so I don’t know how I missed them.
  • Born October 3, 1964 Clive Owen, 58. First role I saw him in was the title role of Stephen Crane in the Chancer series. Not genre, but fascinating none the less. He’s been King Arthur in film of the same name where Keira Knightley was Guinevere. He’s also was in Sin City as Dwight McCarthy, and in The Pink Panther (though weirdly uncredited) as Nigel Boswell/Agent 006. I’ll also single him out for being Commander Arun Filitt in Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets.
  • Born October 3, 1973 Lena Headey, 49. Many of you will know her as Cersei Lannister on Game of Thrones, but I liked her sociopathic Madeline “Ma-Ma” Madrigal on Dredd better.  She was also Angelika in The Brothers Grimm, a film I’m sure I’ve seen but remember nothing about. 

(13) COMICS SECTION.

(14) SURPRISE BEGINNING. John Grayshaw of the Middletown PA Public Library arranged for questions about Murray Leinster to be answered for his Online Science Fiction Book Club by Steven H Silver and the author’s daughter, Billee Stallings. See the Q&A here: “Interview about Murray Leinster”. Note: Murray Leinster was the pen name of Will Jenkins, but I never knew til now that H.L. Mencken was behind his decision to use one.

Damo Mac Choiligh: A trivial question perhaps, but where did he get the pseudonym ‘Leinster’? The word is the English version of the name of a region of Ireland, well known to any Rugby fans.

Billee: When Will was published in Smart Set magazine in his teens, H. L. Mencken put down the other magazines he was selling to and said he should use a pen name and save his own for the “good stuff” (ie; Smart Set). Dad selected Murray from his mother’s maiden name (Murry. Wyndham Martyn, an English writer for the magazine, suggested Leinster. Martyn (known for the Anthony Trent novels) told him the Fitzgeralds (Dad’s middle name) were descended from the Dukes of Leinster.

(15) A DIFFERENT KIND OF TIMELESS NEWS. In 2020, Alex Ross crafted over 30 extraordinary depictions of Marvel’s most beloved super heroes in a beautiful art piece known as Timeless. This iconic imagery was used to produce a best-selling variant cover program and now… it’s the villains turn.

The legendary artist’s newest art piece deviously unites 37 of Marvel’s classic villains! Capturing the menace, danger, and allure of characters like Green Goblin, Doctor Doom, and Thanos, this stunning group shot represents the definitive takes on Marvel’s deadliest foes straight from one the industry’s most revered talents! Look for this beautifully painted artwork to be used for a new series of variant covers starting in March 2023.

“The passion I held for illustrating many of Marvel’s heroes in a timeless representation was easily matched by the passion I felt for illustrating the villains,” Ross said. “Marvel clearly has some of the greatest concepts in the realm of supervillains as well as heroes.”

Find more information about Alex Ross’ new piece including which titles it’ll grace the covers of at Marvel.com.

(16) HERE THEY COME AGAIN. “’The Rings of Power’ Season 2 Has Started Filming” in the UK says The Hollywood Reporter.

The news follows the first official Nielsen ratings being released Thursday for the Prime Video series, showing The Rings of Power topped the streaming charts for its debut week with 1.3 billion minutes viewed (likely an Amazon series record given that only two hours were released).

The first season of the show was filmed in New Zealand over an epic stretch of 18 months during the pandemic. For season two, which will consist of eight episodes, Amazon switched the show’s production to the U.K., which is considered more economical and is also where the company is establishing a multishow hub….

(17) SCREEN TIME. Here are JustWatch’s September’s Sci-Fi Top 10 lists:

Rank*MoviesTV shows
1NopeQuantum Leap
2Everything Everywhere All at OnceThe Handmaid’s Tale
3Jurassic World DominionSeverance
4MoonfallWar of the Worlds
5AvatarThe Twilight Zone
6PreyOrphan Black
7Jurassic World: Fallen KingdomDoctor Who
8The ThingLa Brea
9Jurassic WorldThe X-Files
10Crimes of the FutureMoonhaven

*Based on JustWatch popularity score. Genre data is sourced from themoviedb.org

(18) MORE HOLLYWOOD BUZZ. The teaser trailer for the new Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania movie dropped Friday.

[Thanks to Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Olav Rokne, Kate Yeazel, Kathy Sullivan, Andrew Porter, Chris Barkley, Michael Toman, and Cat Eldridge for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]

Pixel Scroll 9/7/22 The File Is In The Mail

(1) FILER SUMMIT MEETING. I got to meet Steve Vertlieb and his brother Erwin for the first time today! Steve was visiting from the East Coast. His earliest contributions to File 770 date to 2009. I’m glad we finally got together.

(2) GILLER PRIZE. The 2022 Scotiabank Giller Prize longlist was released September 6. The Prize is a celebration of Canadian literary talent. There are two works of genre interest:

  • Kim Fu’s story collection Lesser Known Monsters of the 21st Century
  • Sheila Heti’s Pure Colour

The complete longlist is here.

(3) KGB. Fantastic Fiction at KGB reading series hosts Ellen Datlow and Matthew Kressel present Nicholas Kaufmann and Naseem Jamnia in-person at the KGB Bar on Wednesday, September 14 at 7:00 p.m. Eastern.

Nicholas Kaufmann

Nicholas Kaufmann is a Bram Stoker Award-nominated, Thriller Award-nominated, Shirley Jackson Award-nominated, and Dragon Award-nominated author. He’s written numerous works of horror and fantasy, including the bestsellers 100 Fathoms Below (written with Steven L. Kent) and The Hungry Earth. His short fiction has appeared in Cemetery Dance, Black Static, Nightmare Magazine, Interzone, and others. In addition to his own original work, he has written for such properties as Zombies vs. Robots, The Rocketeer, and Warhammer. He and his wife Alexa live in Brooklyn, NY.

Naseem Jamnia

Naseem Jamnia is the author of The Bruising of Qilwa (Tachyon Publications), which introduces their queernormative, Persian-inspired world. Their work has appeared in The Washington Post, Cosmopolitan, The Writer’s Chronicle, The Rumpus, and other venues. They’ve also received fellowships from Lambda Literary, Bitch Media, and Otherwise, and were named the inaugural Samuel R. Delany fellow. A Persian-Chicagoan, Naseem now lives in Reno with their husband, dog, and two cats.

At the KGB Bar, 85 East 4th Street, New York, NY 10003 (Just off 2nd Ave, upstairs) on September 14 at  7:00 p.m. Eastern.

(4) 3DOA. Austin McConnell looks at the 2004 Indian film Aabra Ka Daabra, a Harry Potter imitation that featured 3D gimmicks, dancing, and some incredibly intrusive product placements and bombed spectacularly.“Why Bollywood’s Harry Potter Was A Box Office Bomb”.

(5) STRAUB’S DAUGHTER PAYS TRIBUTE. [Item by Andrew Porter.] Emma Straub wrote about her father on Twitter. Includes never-before-seen by us photos. Thread starts here.

Emma Straub will be one of the many writers at the Brooklyn Book Festival 2022 to be held from September 25 through October 3. She and A. M. Holmes will be on the “Alternative Histories” panel on October 2.

(6) PHILLIP MANN (1942-2022). New Zealand sff author Phillip Mann died September 1. His first science fiction novel, The Eye of the Queen appeared in 1982. His novel The Disestablishment of Paradise was a 2014 finalist for the Arthur C. Clarke Award and John W. Campbell Memorial Award.

Her wrote four novels in the A Land Fit for Heroes series, and two in the Gardener series.

He celebrated his 80th birthday last month at the launch of his most recent novel Chevalier & Gawayn: The Ballad of the Dreamer with family, friends, colleagues and former students.

He won the Sir Julius Vogel Award for services to science fiction, fantasy and horror in 2010. In 2017, he was made a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to theatre and literature.

(7) MEMORY LANE.  

1985 [By Cat Eldridge.] Star Wars Ewoks (1985 – 1987)

The Star Wars video universe is vast and full of series that likely you didn’t know existed. Such is the case with the animated Star Wars Ewoks series that lasted but two years thirty-seven years ago. Panned by many critics at the time as excessively cute, and well it was, it was a children’s show after all.

The press kit at the time described it thusly: “A stand-alone collection of stories, Star Wars Ewoks focuses on the fur-balls from Return of the Jedi and their many misadventures into the unknown, the magical and downright absurd. So is the life of an Ewok.”

It was released the same time as Star Wars Droids which I think was better series but – alas — lasted but a single season. 

It featured the characters introduced in Return of the Jedi (yes, I won’t used the revisionist titles later introduced) and further known through Caravan of Courage: An Ewok Adventure and its sequel Ewoks: The Battle for Endor

I was surprised to discover Paul Dini along with Bob Carrau were involved in this project and Star Wars Droids was his only work in this universe.  It had an extensive voice cast with Cree Summer who I recognize from Batman: The Animated Series work being the only one knew.

Critics either were hostile or just didn’t like it. Syfy thought it was a market scheme to sell toys, toys and more toys. Well if it was meant to do that it failed as the ratings were poor and it was cancelled after two seasons. Oh, and ironically it was later broadcast in reruns on Sci-Fi Channel’s Cartoon Quest where it was used to sell product. 

Was it any good? Really? You’re asking me? I’m not the right person to ask that but yes, I’ll say that they did a reasonable job with storytelling here. 

It lasted two seasons and twenty-six episodes. It is now on Disney + as is all is all such material.

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born September 7, 1795 John William Polidori. His most remembered work was “The Vampyre”, the first modern vampire story published in 1819. Although originally and erroneously accredited to Lord Byron, both Byron and Polidori affirmed that the story was his. Because of this work, he is credited by several as the creator of the vampire genre of fantasy fiction. (Died 1821.)
  • Born September 7, 1937 John Phillip Law. He’s probably best remembered as the blind angel Pygar in the cult film Barbarella which featured Jane Fonda in that bikini. He shows up in Tarzan, the Ape Man as Harry Holt, and he’s in a South African SF film, Space Mutiny, as Flight Commander Elijah Kalgan, that’s set on a generation ship. Look actual SF!  (Died 2008.)
  • Born September 7, 1955 Mira Furlan. Another one who died far, far too young. She’s best known for her role as the Minbari Ambassador Delenn on the entire run of Babylon 5, and also as Danielle Rousseau on Lost. She’s reunited with Bill Mumy and Bruce Boxleitner at least briefly in Marc Zicree’s Space Command. She had a recurring role as The Traveller in Just Add Magic YA series. (Died 2021.)
  • Born September 7, 1960 Christopher Villiers, 62. He was Professor Moorhouse in “Mummy on the Orient Express”, a Twelfth Doctor story. It’s one of the better tales of the very uneven Capaldi run. He’s also Sir Kay in First Knight and is an unnamed officer in From Time to Time which based on Lucy M. Boston’s The Chimneys of Green Knowe.
  • Born September 7, 1966 Toby Jones, 56. He appeared in “Amy’s Choice”, an Eleventh Doctor story, as the Dream Lord. In Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, he voiced Dobby the house elf. And in Finding Neverland, Mr. Smee, Captain Hook’s bo’sun. Guess what work that film was based on. Finally, I’ll note that he was — using motion capture — Aristides Silk in The Adventures of Tintin. 
  • Born September 7, 1973 Alex Kurtzman, 49. Ok, a number of sites claim he destroyed Trek. Why the hatred for him? Mind you I’m more interested that he and Roberto Orci created the superb Fringe series, and that alone redeems them for me. Fringe is streaming now on Amazon Prime and HBO Max
  • Born September 7, 1974 Noah Huntley, 48. He has appeared in films such as 28 Days LaterThe Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (excellent film), Snow White and the Huntsman (a truly great film), Event Horizon (surely you’ve something else to do) and Dracula Untold (woo, not so great). He’s Gawain in The Mists of Avalon series (ok, so he’s got a truly mixed track record) and shows up as Donovan Osborn in the CW series Pandora which, I’m not kidding, got a Rotten Tomatoes zero percent approval rating, a phenomenal thing to do. Ouch. 
  • Born September 7, 1993 Taylor Gray, 29. He’s best known for voicing Ezra Bridger on the animated Star Wars Rebels which I highly recommend if you’re into Star Wars at all as it’s most excellent.  He also played Friz Freleng in Walt Before Mickey

(9) COMICS SECTION.

Headline: Not at all costs. 

Text: I still think it’s a good idea that we insisted that climate projects shouldn’t decrease the level of jobs and welfare.

(10) FANTASTIC FOUR. This month, Ross returns to the Marvel comics universe with Fantastic Four: Full Circle, a long-awaited passion project. Publishers Weekly interviewed him about it: “Alex Ross Comes Full Circle”.

Why was it important for you to be the artist as well as the writer for this work?

For one main reason: Jack Kirby. Jack plotted his comics and did not work from full scripts for the majority of his career, but he wasn’t able to get that autonomy of single-creator status on the Fantastic Four because he did develop it with Stan Lee and it became identified with Stan’s style of voice. He yearned to take the reins of everything, and it didn’t happen on that book, despite the fact that the creative contribution he gave to it was so extensive and unfortunately underappreciated. It’s his work history and example that drove me to make sure that the work I do here and all storytelling I personally draw in the future benefits from his experience. I will still collaborate with others, but my fully drawn works need to be just me so there is no confusion as to whom to attribute the effort.

(11) WE’RE NOT EVOLVED TO LIVE IN SPACE. Which you already know. Space.com reports “Astronauts’ blood shows signs of DNA mutations due to spaceflight”.

Astronaut cancer risk needs careful monitoring, concludes a study that stored spaceflyer blood for 20 years.

All fourteen astronauts in the study, from NASA’s space shuttle program, had DNA mutations in blood-forming stem cells, a Nature Communications Biology study(opens in new tab) Aug. 31 concluded. The mutations, though unusually high considering the astronauts’ age, was below a key threshold of concern, however.

While the study is unique for keeping astronaut blood around for so long, the results are not show-stopping. Rather, the researchers suggest that astronauts should be subject to periodic blood screening to keep an eye on possible mutations. (And it should be considered in context; another 2019 study, for example, found that astronauts are not dying from cancer due to ionizing space radiation.)…

(12) ROARING OTTER. Did we hunt these guys out of existence, too? “In Ethiopia, scientists identify a fossil otter the size of a lion”Phys.org has the specifications.

Scientists have identified a new species of long-extinct otter in Ethiopia that was the size of a modern lion. Weighing an estimated 200 kilograms, or 440 pounds, it is the largest otter ever described; it would have rubbed elbows, and possibly competed for food, with our much smaller ancestors when it lived alongside them 3.5 million to 2.5 million years ago. A paper describing the animal just appeared in the French scientific journal Comptes Rendus Palevol.

“The peculiar thing, in addition to its massive size, is that [isotopes] in its teeth suggest it was not aquatic, like all modern otters,” said study coauthor Kevin Uno, a geochemist at the Columbia Climate School’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory. “We found it had a diet of terrestrial animals, also differing from modern otters.”

(13) FORWARD, MARCH! [Item by Daniel Dern.] Another “I’ll take ‘What could possibly go wrong?’ for $200…” “Scientists Create Cyborg Cockroaches Controlled By Solar-Powered Backpacks”Slashdot restrains its enthusiasm.

An anonymous reader quotes a report from CNET:

In a new study, published Monday in the journal npj Flexible Electronics, an international team of researchers revealed it has engineered a system to remotely control the legs of cockroaches from afar. The system, which is basically a cockroach backpack wired into the creature’s nervous system, has a power output about 50 times higher than previous devices and is built with an ultrathin and flexible solar cell that doesn’t hinder the roach’s movement. Pressing a button sends a shock to the backpack that tricks the roach into moving a certain direction.

Cockroach cyborgs are not a new idea. Back in 2012, researchers at North Carolina State University were experimenting with Madagascar hissing cockroaches and wireless backpacks, showing the critters could be remotely controlled to walk along a track….

(14) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In “Honest Game Trailers:  Cult of the Lamb,” Fandom Games says this “well-crafted Indy” begins with the premise:  what happens if cuddly animal characters were bloodthirsty advocated of evil?   The characters are “adorable idiots you can manipulate” So in one game you can have huggable characters and grisly human sacrifice.

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

Pixel Scroll 12/13/21 It’s A Big Time For A Case Of Pixels

(1) LODESTAR BASE. Sara Felix today previewed the spectacular base she’s created for the 2021 Lodestar Award, and the pins for finalists.

(2) NIGHT OF THE COOTERS. A minute-long snip from the project is available on YouTube.

George RR Martin Presents – Howard Waldrop’s Night of the Cooters. Lumenscapes and Trioscope Studios have teamed up to present Vincent D’onofrio’s film adaptation of the classic short story in glorious “Trioscope”. NIGHT OF THE COOTERS tells the tale of townsfolk in Pachuco Texas in the 1800’s rallying around one cause, survival against the unwelcome visitors from “up there”. Join the townsfolk on their journey to figure out what the hell is going on in the big hole at the edge of town. With a screenplay by the one and only Joe Lansdale, and music by the prolific Ramin Djwadi get ready for a ride like no other through the mind of the great Howard Waldrop.

(Clarkesworld hosts Waldrop’s story if you haven’t read it yet.)

(3) OCTAVIA BUTLER. According to The Portalist, “These Are All the Octavia Butler Adaptations Currently in Development”. One movie, four TV series, and a graphic novel.

 Octavia Butler was a science fiction writer like no other. Her works are essential for their prescient, intricate worldbuilding, empathy, and gripping characters. It’s no surprise that more and more adaptations of her novels have moved ahead in recent years. From a soaring opera to bestselling graphic novel retellings, her work continues to find new fans through diverse mediums. 

But what of the adaptations to come? 

(4) HOMAGE. Vanity Fair’s Cassie Da Costa give a fuller overview of this new wave of adaptations in “The Second Coming of Octavia E. Butler”.

…It’s a tremendous amount of interpretation by an impressive slate of Black talent, a gift that seems to have fallen from the heavens. Merrilee Heifetz, Butler’s former agent and current literary executor from Writers House, handles the options for Butler’s oeuvre alongside the author’s cousin Ernestine Walker. When I ask what she expects from all these adaptations, she says, “All you can do is try to bring it to people whose vision you feel you can trust. And you look at someone like Janicza [Bravo], her visual style is incredible. I can’t wait to see what she does.” Years ago, when Heifetz saw that Jacobs-Jenkins was interested in writing a Kindred adaptation, she went to see his play Everybody at the Signature Theatre in New York and was impressed. Jacobs-Jenkins, who worked on the HBO miniseries Watchmen, became a huge Butler fan in high school, and when Breaking Bad was in its heyday, he realized Kindred would make a great show. He told his agent he wanted the rights….

(5) 1884. That’s when Zamyatin was born – and the last two digits seem prescient. The New Yorker’s Masha Gessen revisits We, “The Russian Novel That Foresaw—but Underestimated—Totalitarianism”.

…Every year when I read Yevgeny Zamyatin’s “We” with my students, I wish the psychiatric-ward schedule were hanging in the classroom, because Zamyatin’s novel imagined a regimented way of life, and because it, too, seemed to subvert the flow of time. Born in 1884, Zamyatin was a revolutionary, indeed a Bolshevik; he was imprisoned and sent into internal exile in the tsar’s Russia, and then moved for a time to England, returning just a month before the Bolsheviks came to power. Three years later, he wrote his dystopia, possibly revising it in 1921 or 1922. By the time he had completed a final draft, the Bolsheviks had already imposed censorship and created the secret police. It took them a few years to establish Soviet rule over most of what had been the Russian Empire, to expropriate most property and to build its first concentration camp, and it took longer to establish a reign of terror. But Zamyatin had already written a novel that described many of the specifics of that terror, and of other terrors to come in the twentieth century….

(6) 1940. First Fandom Experience has published a 52-page digital sampler for Volume Two of The Visual History of Science Fiction Fandom. See it at the link. The full book is over 450 pages.

As 1940 dawned, America was recovering, poised between the Great Depression and entry into World War II. Science fiction fandom was growing up.

With maturity came new levels of confidence and accomplishment. Fans asked profound questions of themselves and their peers: Are we special in some way, smarter or more perceptive than others? If so, what does that mean for our role in society? How should we respond to the troubles in Europe? Should we unite under a single banner? 

Fans traveled more often, and farther. The central event of the year – the 1940 World Science Fiction Convention in Chicago – spurred sojourns from both coasts and across mid-America. Fans gathered and traditions that persist to modern times were established.

All of this comes to life through the words of fans as they wrote them at the time, the passions and fears and aspirations they voiced, the images they drew and the journeys they described. As rich a year in the life of fandom as ever there was, and as richly told by those who lived it.

(7) SOCIAL MEDIA V. BOOK SALES. Interesting publishing industry info here, but no sff names in the New York Times article “Millions of Followers? For Book Sales, ‘It’s Unreliable.’”

… It’s difficult to predict whether a book will be a hit. A jar of tomato sauce doesn’t change that much from year to year, making demand reasonably predictable. But every book is different, an individual work of art or culture, so when the publishing industry tries to forecast demand for new titles, it is, however thoughtfully, guessing. Because there are so few reliable metrics to look at, social-media followings have become some of the main data points publishers use to try to make their guesses more educated.

An author’s following has become a standard part of the equation when publishers are deciding whether to acquire a book. Followings can affect who gets a book deal and how big an advance that author is paid, especially when it comes to nonfiction. But despite their importance, they are increasingly seen as unpredictable gauges of how well a book is actually going to sell.

Even having one of the biggest social-media followings in the world is not a guarantee.

“The only reliable part about it,” said Shannon DeVito, director of books at Barnes & Noble, “is that it’s unreliable.”…

(8) ANNE RICE. Andrew Porter shared his photos of Anne Rice taken at the 1988 American Booksellers Association Convention. Rice died December 11 (NPR’s tribute is here.)

(9) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

1985 [Item by Cat Eldridge.] On this date thirty-six years ago, Clue premiered. It was directed by Jonathan Lynn from the screenplay he wrote based on his story off from the Clue game created in 1943 by British board game designer Anthony E. Pratt. (It’s called Cluedo – or Murder at Tudor Close in Britain.) It was produced by Debra Hill, best known for producing various works of John Carpenter.  It had a stellar cast of Tim Curry, Madeline Kahn, Christopher Lloyd, Michael McKean, Martin Mull. Lesley Ann Warren and Eileen Brennan. Tim Curry played The Butler. 

Most critics did not like it, with both Siskel and Ebert dissing it. Most particularly hated the three alternative endings. It barely broken even at the Box Office despite costing only fifteen million to make. 

It was novelized as Clue The Novel, written by Michael McDowell. It includes the three endings from the movie, plus a fourth ending not in the movie.

It however has a stellar rating among audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes of eighty-eight percent. Clue is currently airing on Paramount+. You can purchase it at Amazon and iTunes for six dollars right now. I think it’s a fine holiday film, and an equally excellent film to watch any time of year. 

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born December 13, 1915 Ross Macdonald. He who writes the most excellent hard boiled deceive novels is here because ISFDB lists three of his short stories as being genre: “The Bearded Lady”, “Gone Girl” and “Guilt-Edged Blonde”. Now I’m seriously doubting that Macdonald wrote any genre, but I’m hoping one of y’all has read them and can confirm, whether or not they are genre. And yes, I’m a big fan of his Lew Archer novels. (Died 1983.)
  • Born December 13, 1929 Christopher Plummer. Let’s see… Does Rudyard Kipling in The Man Who Would Be King count? If not, The Return of the Pink Panther does. That was followed by Starcrash, a space opera I suspect hardly anyone saw, which was also the case with Somewhere in Time. Now Dreamscape was fun and well received.  Skipping his role as General Chang in The Undiscovered Country. Opinions everyone? I know I’ve mixed feelings on Chang. I see Plummer’s in Twelve Monkeys and I’ve not seen The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus yet. (Died 2021.)
  • Born December 13, 1935 Gary Combs, 86. Though originally uncredited, he was the Gorn Captain in the “Arena” episode of Trek. As a stunt double for Shatner, he appeared on “Operation – Annihilate!”, “Space Seed” and “The Galileo Seven”. He did stunts on The Wrath of Khan as well. He eventually rose to become a stunt coordinator on such films as The Hollow Man.
  • Born December 13, 1925 Dick Van Dyke, 96. Bert/Mr. Dawes Sr. in Mary Poppins followed shortly by being Caractacus Pott in the film adaptation in Ian Fleming’s novel Chitty-Chitty-Bang-Bang. (No it’s not the same character as he is in the book.)  He voices the lead character in the animated Tubby the Tuba film and plays D.A. Fletcher in Dick Tracy. He narrates Walt: The Man Behind the Myth whose subject matter you can guess. Played Commissioner Gordon in Batman: New Times as well. Shows up in both of the Night at the Museum films which sort of interest me. And yes, he has a role as Mr. Dawes Jr. in Mary Poppins Returns.
  • Born December 13, 1949 R. A. MacAvoy, 72. Winner of the Astounding Award for Best New Writer. I’m very, very fond of her Black Dragon series, Tea with the Black Dragon and Twisting the Rope.  (Tea with the Black Dragon was nominated for a Hugo at L.A. Con II, the year David Brin’s Startide Rising won.) The only other thing I’ve read of hers is The Book of Kells, so do tell me about her other works. 
  • Born December 13, 1954 Tamora Pierce, 67. Her first book series, The Song of the Lioness, about her character Alanna going through the trials of training as a knight, sold very well and was well received by readers. That series is set in Tortall, a world akin to the European Middle Ages. What I’ve read of it I like a lot. She won the Edward E. Smith Memorial Award for Imaginative Fiction in 2005, a rare honor indeed. 
  • Born December 13, 1954 Emma Bull, 67. Writer of three of the best genre novels ever, Bone Dance: A Fantasy for TechnophilesFinder: A Novel of The Borderlands and War for The Oaks. Will Shetterly, her husband and author of a lot of really cool genre works, decided to make a trailer which you can download if you want. Just ask me.  She’s also been in a number of neat bands, one that has genre significance that being Cats Laughing which has Stephen Brust, Adam Stemple, son of Jane Yolen, and John M. Ford either as musicians or lyricists. They came back together after a long hiatus at MiniCon 50. Again just ask me and I’ll make this music available along with that of Flash Girls which she was also in. And she’s on the dark chocolate gifting list. 
  • Born December 13, 1984 Amal El-Mohtar, 37. Canadian edition and writer. She won Hugo Awards for Best Short Story for “Seasons of Glass and Iron” at WorldCon 75 and Best Novella for “This Is How You Lose the Time War” at CoNZealand (with Max Gladstone). (The latter got a BSFA, an Aurora and a Nebula as well.) She’s also garnered a Nebula Award  for “Madeleine“, a World Fantasy Award for “Pockets” and a World Fantasy Award for “Seasons of Glass and Iron”. Very impressive. She has edited the fantastic poetry quarterly Goblin Fruit magazine for the past five years. 

(11) BIG COMICS NEWS. “Alex Ross Writes and Illustrates First Graphic Novel, Fantastic Four: Full Circle (Exclusive)“ reports Comicbook.com.

…”This is the Fantastic Four story I have been wanting to tell for years, and visually it is one of the greatest artistic experiments I have attempted,” says Alex Ross. “I’m excited to share this work with everyone, as it unites the two great publishing forces of Marvel and Abrams ComicArts in a bold new collaboration.”…

(12) MARKETING FACTS. Seanan McGuire hopes readers will pick up the latest book in the InCryptid series despite its appearing as a trade paperback. She was concerned by something she read online that people might hold back. Thread starts here.  

(13) WHAT’S SUPE. The Washington Post’s David Betancourt says these are the “10 best Christmas superhero movies and shows you can stream”.

Even a superhero can’t escape the holidays.

As masks, capes and interconnected universes have become more mainstream, so too have the number of superheroofferingsthat include Christmas tree decor and Santa Claus hats. Animation, network television, streaming andeven the Marvel Cinematic Universe have all made room for the spirit of the winter season….

(14) VIRTUALLY PIXELLATED. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] Can we create a perfect virtual reality? Or are we living in one?

BBC Radio 4’s Start the Week has explored the questions arising out of virtual reality technology. The programme can be listened to or downloaded for a month after broadcast. See the programme episode page here.

Living in the Matrix

What if virtual worlds become indistinguishable from the real one? In 1999 the science fiction film, The Matrix, depicted a dystopian future in which people are unknowingly trapped inside a simulated reality, run by intelligent machines. As the fourth film, The Matrix Resurrections, is about to be released, the writer Naomi Alderman considers the influence this movie franchise has had in the last two decades, and how far virtual reality has become part of everyday life.

The philosopher, David J Chalmers, proposes that the Matrix scenario could be the future, but that rather than trapped, humanity can lead a meaningful life in virtual reality. Chalmers is one of the leading thinkers on consciousness. In his latest book, Reality+ he provocatively argues that VR is not escapism. And that we may even be living in a computer simulation already – and if that is true, it’s not so bad.

Philippa Garety is Professor of Clinical Psychology at Kings College London and has been at the forefront of treatments for problems associated with psychosis, including hearing voices and hallucinations. She is currently working on innovative treatments using digital technology, including avatars and virtual reality, to alleviate suffering. In a clinical setting VR can be managed as a safe environment for patients who struggle in the real world, as a place they can confront and understand their delusions.

All of which is reminiscent of a neat little ultra-short SF film mentioned on File 770 over the summer (but worth a view if you missed it first time around):

Meanwhile, Isaac Arthur recently used virtual realities as an explanation for the Fermi Paradox

Many believe the future of humanity is to go Digital, uploading our minds to computers, living in virtual worlds that are vastly more efficient and compact. If we might do this, might distant alien empires too? And if so, might this be the reason we don’t see them?

(15) HE KNOWS THE ANSWER. Yahoo! sets the frame for The Batman starring Robert Pattinson: “The Riddler Unmasks Batman In Upcoming Film’s New International Trailer”.

The Riddler has unmasked the Caped Crusader in the upcoming The Batman‘s latest international trailer.

With his ominous voice booming through the entirety of the trailer, we hear Paul Dano‘s Riddler proclaiming that he’s “here to unmask the truth about this city,” before a long sequence of violence and villainy from the troublemaker. Just as the trailer ends, we find out that Edward Nashton ultimately discovers who the man behind the cowl is, calling Bruce Wayne out by name.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Andrew Porter, Michael Toman, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, and JJ for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Steve Davidson, part of “The Hugo Pixel Scroll Winners” series.]

Pixel Scroll 7/27/20 Sir! I’ve Isolated The Reverse Pixel Flux Coupling!

(1) CAN VIRTUAL CONS BE MADE BETTER? In “What Lessons Can Future Conventions Learn From Virtual San Diego Comic-Con?”, Io9 staffers Beth Elderkin, Jill Pantozzi, Cheryl Eddy, James Whitbrook, Charles Pulliam-Moore, and Germain Lussier assess what didn’t work about SDCC 2020, “from a lack of support for the artists and vendors who would usually be on the show floor, to the lack of fan involvement, to how to create a sense of energy that the convention’s swath of ‘family Zoom call’ style pre-recorded panels were lacking.” 

(2) LOVECRAFT COUNTRY. HBO showed its Lovecraft Country trailer to San Diego Comic-Con’s @Home audience.

(3) TRAILER PARK. Ars Technica offers “An Ars roundup of the many trailers unveiled this weekend during Comic-Con@Home” where you can see all the others.

People might not be able to flock to San Diego Comic Con this year in person, but the virtual convention, Comic-Con@Home, has been running all weekend, with countless panels, sneak peeks, and teasers and trailers for upcoming TV shows—but not many films, because let’s be honest: it’s not looking so good for major theatrical film releases in the fall. On Thursday alone, we got the full trailer for Bill and Ted Face the Music, a teaser for the Simon Pegg/Nick Frost horror comedy Truth Seekers, and the first trailer for S2 of HBO’s His Dark Materials. Rather than continue to cover each individually, we decided to compile the remaining trailers of interest into a single roundup post.

(4) A CAUTIONARY TALE. Linda D. Addison offers her experience with Covid-19 as a warning in this public Facebook post.

I’m sharing what my life has been like since June 8 because I’ve seen too many people not taking Covid-19 serious. This virus is real. If sharing this wakes even one person up, it’s worth it.

I’ve been as safe as possible, going to the supermarket every two weeks for supplies, wearing a mask, sanitizing everything, however, 7 weeks ago I got very sick for 9 days with symptoms of mild coronavirus, talked to my doctor and stayed in self isolation for more than 2 weeks. I was fortunate that my temp never went high enough or my breathing bad enough that I had to go to the hospital. Since then, I’ve lived with continued cough, fatigue, shortness of breath (using inhaler from doctor helps).

This is happening to many people in recovery (look up Covid Long Haulers). So I’m sleeping a lot, healing will come, but this is so new there’s not much the medical field can do at this point. I’m ok. My friend, Jill, lives around the corner and has been helping by dropping off stuff.

PLEASE, wear a mask (if not for yourself, for anyone who crosses your path)!

(5) TANGLED UP IN BLUE. Vulture’s Mark Harris, in “The Neverending Story of Those Neverappearing Avatar Sequels”, contends that although James Cameron says Avatar 2 has been delayed because of the coronavirus, the guy is suh a perfectionist that it’s highlyunlikely we will see Avatar 3,4, or 5.

…The wait for more Avatar has become something of a running joke, so much so that a Twitter thread I started when it was already a running joke is now well into its sixth year. The first sequel was originally announced almost a decade ago, in October 2010, with a projected release date of December 2014. Since then, its opening date has, at regular intervals, been moved back one year at a time — except once, in 2017, when it moved back two years. But the film has also morphed from a two-sequel series into a four-sequel series, with a lingering sense that the mountain was being made bigger as a way of justifying the length of the climb. 

(6) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

  • July 27, 1997 Stargate SG-1 premiered on Showtime where it would run for its first five seasons. The show which was created by Brad Wright and Jonathan Glassner. It’s based rather loosely off the Stargate film. The initial core cast was Richard Dean Anderson, Michael Shanks, Amanda Tapping and Christopher Judge.  It would run for a decade with the last five years being on Sci Fi. Two spinoff series, Stargate Atlantis which would run five seasons, and Stargate Universe which would last two seasons. Audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes currently give it a stellar 91% rating. (CE)

(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]

  • Born July 27, 1870 – Hilaire Belloc.  Orator, poet,correspondent,sailor, satirist, soldier, activist.  Cautionary Tales for Children includes “Jim, who ran away from his nurse, and was eaten by a lion” and “Rebecca, who slammed doors for fun and perished miserably”; 1907 readers would quickly recognize the parody.  A hundred fifty books; we can claim half a dozen novels (illustrated by G.K.Chesterton!), as many shorter stories.  (Died 1953) [JH] 
  • Born July 27, 1874 Frank Shannon. He’s best remembered now as the scientist Dr. Alexis Zarkov in the three Flash Gordon serials starring Buster Crabbe between 1936 and 1940.  The serials themselves were Flash GordonFlash Gordon’s Trip to Mars and Flash Gordon Conquers the Universe. (Died 1959.) (CE)
  • Born July 27, 1891 – Ruth Plumly Thompson.  Following Frank Baum’s death, she wrote two dozen Oz books.  Three other novels, six dozen shorter stories, ten dozen poems.  Also wrote for The Smart SetThe Saturday Evening PostLadies Home JournalJack and Jill.  Many regard her as a worthy successor.  (Died 1976) [JH]
  • Born July 27, 1908 – W.I. Van der Poel, Jr.  Art director for Galaxy 1950-1960.  A score of covers – but not, it seems, appearing there.  He is however on this famous 1952 Emshwiller cover – see the key here.  Look at The Unpleasant Profession of Jonathan Hoag.  (Died 1987) [JH]
  • Born July 27, 1927 – Mel Hunter.  A hundred book and magazine covers, eight dozen interiors.  Here is the May 53 Galaxy.  Here is The End of Eternity.  Here is Double Star – the Great Lorenzo at right.  Here is the Jun 58 If.  Here is the Mar 61 F & SF.  (Died 2004) [JH]
  • Born July 27, 1938 Gary Gygax. Game designer and author best-known for co-creating  Dungeons & Dragons with Dave Arneson. In addition to the almost-beyond-counting gaming modules he wrote, he wrote the Greyhawk Adventure series and the Dangerous Journeys novels. (Died 2008.) (CE)
  • Born July 27, 1939 Sydney J. van Scyoc, 81. Her first published story was “Shatter the Wall” in Galaxy in 1962. She continued to write short stories throughout the Sixties and Seventies, and published Saltflower, her first novel in the early Seventies. Over the next twenty years, she published a dozen novels and likewise number of short stories. For all practice purposes, she’s not available in digital format. (CE)
  • Born July 27, 1948 Juliet Marillier, 72. She’s a New Zealand born and Western Australian resident fantasy writer focusing entirely on historical fantasy. She has a number of series including Blackthorn & Grim which at two volumes is a good introduction to her, and Sevenwaters which at seven volumes is a serious reading commitment. She’s a regular contributor to the fiction writing blog, Writer Unboxed.
  • Born July 27, 1949 – Cora Lee Healy, 71.  Fanartist, has done some pro work.  Here is a cover for Algol.  Here is “Starward”.  Here is another astronomical.  She has been in Energumen and Granfalloon; she did the Ace of Cups in the Fantasy Showcase Tarot Deck (see this review by a Tarot collector; although the reviewer says the Deck is out of print; copies can still be obtained; if all else fails, ask me, John Hertz, 236 S. Coronado St., No. 409, Los Angeles, CA 90057).  [JH]
  • Born July 27, 1950 Simon Jones, 70. He’s well known for his portrayals of Arthur Dent, protagonist of Douglas Adams’ The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. He first portrayed the character on radio for the BBC and again on television for BBC Two. Jones also featured in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy film in a cameo role. He’s in Monty Python’s The Meaning of LifeBrazil and 12 Monkeys as well.  (CE) 
  • Born July 27, 1952 – Bud Webster.  Our Gracious Host has done better than I could.  (Died 2016) [JH] 
  • Born July 27, 1958 – Kate Elliott, 62.  Two dozen novels (some under another name), a dozen shorter stories; interviewed in ApexLightspeedLocusMindsparks.  “The Sword of Heaven [in two parts, An Earthly Crown and His Conquering Sword] I call my Mozart novel because of the speed it flowed out of me….  my Beethoven novel The Law of Becoming was like hacking through the jungle into unknown country….  Being a parent has made me a better writer.”  Unconquerable Sun just released this month.  Mills College woman.  [JH]
  • Born July 27, 1968 Farah Mendlesohn, 52. She’s an historian and prolific writer on genre literature, and an active fan. Best works by her? I really like her newest work on Heinlein which I’m reading now, The Pleasant Profession of Robert A. Heinlein which is up for a Hugo next week. Her work Diana Wynne Jones: Children’s Literature and the Fantastic Tradition is a fascinating read. And I highly recommend her Rhetorics of Fantasy as we don’t get many good theoretical looks at fantasy. (CE)
  • Born July 27, 1979 – Alvaro Zinos-Amaro, 41. Three dozen short stories; poems; essays, reviews, interviews, in AnalogClarkesworldFoundationNY Review of SFStrange Horizons.  Anthology (with Robert Silverberg), When the Blue Shift Comes.  Traveler of Worlds, conversations with Silverberg.  Good moderator of the Asimov centenary panel at Loscon 46.
  • Born July 27, 1984 – Hao Jingfang, Ph.D., 36.  Vagabonds just appeared in English and Spanish this year.  A score of shorter stories; Best-Novelette Hugo for “Folding Beijing”, first won by a Chinese woman.  Translated into English, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Polish, Russian, Spanish.  Interviewed in LightspeedMonde chinois (in French).  [JH]

(8) COMICS SECTION.

(9) NEW TUNES TOON. SYFY Wire’s points out you can watch the new cartoon as part of this Comic-Con@Home video panel: “Boo! Looney Tunes Cartoons Debuts New Porky And Daffy Short At Comic-Con@Home”,

“We wanted to tap into the zany energy of the 1940s stuff,” added supervising producer Alex Kirwan. “That was our favorite era of the shorts and we just wanted more of that. We didn’t want to set out to reinvent it and we didn’t want to set out to put new sensibilities on it … What we love about the shorts is that they’re wonderful slapstick humor and we just wanted to get back to [that] and be really true to the way they paired the characters and the way they built comedy dynamics.”

(10) WATCH ALEX ROSS AT WORK. Over the last two months, Marvel has revealed 28 “Timeless” variant covers created by Alex Ross, which will begin to hit local comic shops in September. See Ross craft his iconic painted covers, and see how his timeless imagery was made into a magnificent mural in Marvel’s NYC offices in this video.

(11) FROM BACK STORY TO NO STORY. “Peter Shinkoda says Marvel exec claimed ‘nobody cares’ about Asian people” – BBC has the story.

Daredevil actor Peter Shinkoda says his storyline was cut after a Marvel executive said “nobody cares about” Asian characters.

Shinkoda played Nobu in the Marvel Netflix series, which was cancelled at the end of 2018.

But he says his character’s “back story was dropped” on orders from former Marvel Television head Jeph Loeb.

“I’m kind of reluctant to say this, but… I’m going to take this moment,” Shinkoda said during a virtual talk.

“Jeph Loeb told the writers’ room not to write for Nobu and Gao – and this was reiterated many times by many of the writers and show runners – that nobody cares about Chinese people and Asian people,” he alleged.

The Canadian actor, who was taking part in a #SaveDaredevil roundtable discussion with actors from the show, said a storyline about Nobu’s journey to America ended up being dropped.

(12) THE SUN SHINES ON EVERYBODY. And some take more advantage of that than others:“What the heroin industry can teach us about solar power”

If you have ever doubted whether solar power can be a transformative technology, read on.

This is a story about how it has proved its worth in the toughest environment possible.

The market I’m talking about is perhaps the purest example of capitalism on the planet.

There are no subsidies here. Nobody is thinking about climate change – or any other ethical consideration, for that matter.

This is about small-scale entrepreneurs trying to make a profit.

It is the story of how Afghan opium growers have switched to solar power, and significantly increased the world supply of heroin.

(13) RETURN TO SENDER. “Nasa Mars rover: Meteorite to head home to Red Planet”.

A small chunk of Mars will be heading home when the US space agency launches its latest rover mission on Thursday.

Nasa’s Perseverance robot will carry with it a meteorite that originated on the Red Planet and which, until now, has been lodged in the collection of London’s Natural History Museum (NHM).

The rock’s known properties will act as a calibration target to benchmark the workings of a rover instrument.

It will give added confidence to any discoveries the robot might make.

This will be particularly important if Perseverance stumbles across something that hints at the presence of past life on the planet – one of the mission’s great quests.

“This little rock’s got quite a life story,” explained Prof Caroline Smith, head of Earth sciences collections at the NHM and a member of the Perseverance science team.

“It formed about 450 million years ago, got blasted off Mars by an asteroid or comet roughly 600,000-700,000 years ago, and then landed on Earth; we don’t know precisely when but perhaps 1,000 years ago. And now it’s going back to Mars,” she told BBC News.

(14) I FIND YOUR LACK OF FAITH DISTURBING. NPR reports “Lottery Winner In Jamaica Avoids The Spotlight Dressed As Darth Vader”.

It’s not uncommon for lottery winners to want to avoid the spotlight, right? But showing up dressed as Darth Vader to collect your check is a new one. It happened in a galaxy not so far away, in May Pen, Jamaica, when a man claimed his $95 million prize in a dark lord of the Sith costume. 

(15) VIDEO OF THE DAY. In “The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring Pitch Meeting” on ScreenRant, Ryan George explains that Saruman is spinning Gandalf around, he “forces Gandalf to learn breakdancing against his will.”

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

Marvels Epilogue Sneak Peek

Hitting comic shops this July – an all-new addition to the classic Marvels graphic novel written by Kurt Busiek and fully painted by Alex Ross. And it’s a “Marvels” look at the “all-new, all-different” X-Men of the 1970s!

In this 16-page story, Alex and Kurt bring Marvel’s world to brilliant, realistic life one last time, as the now-retired Phil Sheldon and his daughters, in Manhattan to see the Christmas lights, find themselves in the middle of a clash between the outsider heroes and the deadly Sentinels, giving them a close-up perspective on the mutant experience. Also featuring a behind-the-scenes look at the making of this special story, and other bonus features.

For more information on Marvels Epilogue, visit Marvel.com.

Pixel Scroll 12/24/18 One For My Pixel And One More For The Scroll

(1) A NEW YORK MIDDLE AGES MINUTE. The New York Time discovers the Society for Creative Anachronism: “The Weekend Warriors of the Crown Province of Ostgardr (Otherwise Known as New York City)”.

King Wilhelm and Queen Vienna — a Connecticut couple whose real names are Jackie and Brian Van Ostenbridge — reign over the East Kingdom, which encompasses the Northeast and parts of Canada.

It is one of the society’s 20 kingdoms in North America, each of which is subdivided into provinces, baronies and shires. There is the Crown Province of Ostgardr, which includes all five New York City boroughs and several surrounding counties, many of which also have their own medieval names.

Manhattan is known as Whyt Whey, a reference to Broadway’s White Way. Brooklyn is Brokenbridge, a reference to the Brooklyn Bridge. Westchester County is known as Northpas, and Nassau County is Lions End. Southwest Connecticut is the Barony of Dragonship Haven, while the rest of the state is the Barony Beyond the Mountain.

(2) INTRO TO ART. The Washington Post’s Philip Kennicott discusses Saul Steinberg’s The Labyrinth, reprinted by the New York Review of Books, which he thinks is an ideal introduction to the complexities of art: “Think you don’t understand art? This is the one book you’ll need.”

“The Labyrinth” has been republished by the New York Review of Books press, and looking back into it is a revelation. The book opens with an extended, tour-de-force version of a Steinberg classic, the Line, seven pages unified by a single horizontal line that functions in myriad ways, as a timeline of history, a horizon line, the line dividing water from land, the edge of a table, the top of a bridge, a topographical mark and a clothesline (with socks, towels and shirts appended). From there, the book unfolds as a set of interlocking mini-essays on Steinberg’s favorite and recurring subjects: music and musicians, architecture, the chatter of socialites, the vanity of power and ambition, and the iconography of mid-century America.

(3) LIT HISTORY. Princess Weekes draws her own “A (Brief) Timeline of Female Authors’ Influence on Sci-Fi and Fantasy” at The Mary Sue.

However, it’s because of the works of Leigh Brackett, who was the first woman to be shortlisted for a Hugo and worked on the original screenplay for The Empire Strikes Back, that we have certain concepts of the Space Opera in both literature and film.

Pop culture has downplayed a lot of Brackett’s additions to the Star Wars storyline, since George Lucas apparently didn’t like that screenplay, but as io9?s co-founder and award-winning author Charlie Jane Anders brought up years ago, “the basic story beats are the same,” and Brackett came up with the concept of Luke Skywalker having a twin sister.

Brackett was also a mentor to Ray Bradbury, and despite being mocked for writing “space fantasy,” rather than “hard” science-fiction, her influence on the genre still holds up.

(4) YOU BETTER NOT WATCH, YOU BETTER NOT SIGHT. FirstShowing.net tells us how to “Ring in the Holidays with Fox’s Stop-Motion ‘Predator Holiday Special'”.

“Looks like someone’s staying on the naughty list… Larry, light him up!!” What the craziness is this?! 20th Century Fox has released an extra-violent, stop-motion animated short film titled The Predator Holiday Special. And it’s actually all kinds of awesome. The funny short is just a new mash-up of Predator and the classic “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” animated TV movie, telling a story about a Predator invading the North Pole – but Santa has an elite defense force of his own that jumps into action and fights back….

(5) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born December 24, 1910 Fritz Leiber. I can say that my fav work by him is The Big Time which I either read or listen to every year. And yes I’ve read the Change War Stories too, difficult to find as they were. Yes I know it won a Hugo — much, much deserved!  I’m also fond of Conjure Wife, but otherwise I prefer his short fiction to his novels. (Died 1992.)
  • Born December 24, 1945Nicholas Meyer, 73. Lovely novel, The Seven-Per-Cent Solution is.  Much better Ithan the film I think. Now his Time After Time film is spot on. And let’s not forget his work on the Trek films,  Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (much of which went uncredited), Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home and Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country.
  • Born December 24, 1964Mark Valley, 54. He made my Birthday list first by being the lead, Christopher Chance, in Human Target, a short-lived series created by Len Wein and Carmine Infantino for DC. He was also John Scott In Fringe as a regular cast member. He voiced Clark Kent / Superman in the second part of Batman: The Dark Knight Returns
  • Born December 24, 1966 Dietrich Bader, 52. I know him best as the voice of Batman on The Batman and Batman: The Brave and the Bold. No, he’s not Kevin Conroy but his Batman is quite enjoyable and interesting in his own right. He’s best cast as Batman / Brace Wayne in the forthcoming Harley Quinn series on the DC Universe service.
  • Born December 24, 1969 Mark Millar, 49. Comic book write whose resume is long at both house so I’ll like of his work. The Millar/Quitely era on The Authority was politically edged and often got censored by DC as it commented on the Iraq War — well worth your reading. His run on Swamp Thing from 142 to 171 has a lot of other writers including Morrison. He the Ultimates at Marvels and a lot of the superb series ended in the Avengers film. Finally his excellent Civil War was the basis of the Captain America: Civil War film and his not to missed Old Man Logan was the inspiration for Fox’s Logan film.

(6) COMICS SECTION.

(7) SMALLER ON THE INSIDE. As a fellow blogger, let me applaud GeekTyrant for figuring out a way to get an entire post out of this little item –“GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY Star Karen Gillan Responds to Being Featured on Jeopardy”.

There are some trademark signs in the industry that you’ve truly “made it.” Like if you’re a musician, and you hear your song on the radio, or even moreso, when that song gets remade by Weird Al Yankovic. Or if you’re an actor, and you get a beefy role in a Marvel movie, or get nominated for an award, or you get to go on Saturday Night Live, or in Karen Gillan’s case, you’re featured in a question/answer on Jeopardy! What a fun and exciting treat!

(8) UNEMPLOYED MEN TELL NO TALES. In case there was any doubt the other day – he’s out. The Independent has the tale:

Johnny Depp’s tenure as Captain Jack Sparrow has officially come to an end, following a Disney executive’s confirmation that the actor will no longer be a part of the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise.

The studio’s production chief, Sean Bailey, was speaking about the previously announced reboot – set to be written by Deadpool‘s Paul Wernick and Rhett Reese – when he was asked whether the series could survive without Depp.

Rather than deny the reports, Bailey told The Hollywood Reporter: “We want to bring in a new energy and vitality. I love the [Pirates] movies, but part of the reason Paul and Rhett are so interesting is that we want to give it a kick in the pants. And that’s what I’ve tasked them with.”

(9) FRANKENSTEIN (1910) RESTORED. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] Slate shines a little light on the fact that “The First Film Adaptation of Frankenstein Has Been Restored, and You Can Watch It Right Here”. The 1910 silent movie by Edison Production was restored by the Library of Congress National Audio-Visual Conservation Center from the sole remaining print (and other source material) and posted on their site in 2017. It is also available on YouTube. Music for the restoration was composed and performed by Donald Sosin. The Edison Production title card bills it as “A liberal adaptation from Mrs. Shelly’s famous story” and indeed significant liberties are taken. (Then again, cramming the full story into about 13 minutes would have been difficult, though IMDb clams the original was about 16 minutes.) The LoC site describes the film thus:

“While he is in college, Frankenstein decides he must attempt to make a perfect human being. The being he creates is given life in a vat of burning chemicals. On the day Frankenstein weds his sweetheart, who has been living patiently at home, he sees the monster he created reflected in a mirror. Having disappeared, the monster returns to his creator to gain acceptance. However, when the creature is in front of the mirror he disappears again, with only his slowly vanishing reflection left. When Frankenstein arrives and stands in front of the same mirror he witnesses the fading image, signifying the monster’s destruction in the face of Frankenstein’s increased love for his wife and life.”

(10) TIS THE SEASON. New holiday, a new mission: “McEdifice: Ghosts of X-mas Past” at Camestros Felapton.

“Please sit down,” he said gesturing to a wooden crate marked “cheap tobacco”.

“I’m sorry,” he continued, “but all our furniture was replaced with old shipping crates due to budget cuts. I understand you’ve come out about the role we advertised?”

“Sure,” I responded, “the assistant to ‘Mr Scrooge’.”

I’d heard rumours of this Scrooge guy. A man of old but indeterminate age. Misanthropic, holed up inside an ageing house. A nexus of supernatural events. Everything about this Scrooge guy’s profile said ‘vampire’….

The End.

Straw Puppy: Um, isn’t the title ‘Ghost of X-mas Future?

Tiny Tim the Cat: Oh crap. Too late now, we’ve published it.

Chiseled McEdifice: Nooooooooo!!!!!!!

(11) NICE TRY. Another not-ready-for-prime-time app: the BBC tests “How well does Zozosuit measure up?” [Video.]

Japanese retailer Zozo, which operates Zozotown, the country’s largest online fashion marketplace, has developed a figure-hugging bodysuit featuring lots of uniquely patterned dots.

As you turn slowly round, your smartphone takes photos, building up a 360-degree image of your body shape. Then you can order clothes that really fit.

At least, that’s what the company claims. But how well does it work?

(12) MORE TO WATCH FOR. They have to worry about more than the name-brand seismic activity: “Indonesia’s tsunami shows the need to research unexpected dangers”.

Nobody had any clue. There was certainly no warning. It’s part of the picture that now points to a large underwater landslide being the cause of Saturday’s devastating tsunami in the Sunda Strait.

Of course everyone in the region will have been aware of Anak Krakatau, the volcano that emerged in the sea channel just less than 100 years ago. But its rumblings and eruptions have been described by local experts as relatively low-scale and semi-continuous.

In other words, it’s been part of the background.

And yet it is well known that volcanoes have the capacity to generate big waves. The mechanism as ever is the displacement of a large volume of water.

Except, unlike in a classic earthquake-driven tsunami in which the seafloor will thrust up or down, it seems an eruption event set in motion some kind of slide.

(13) TOP COMICS ARTIST. Complex shares “Spider-Man to Spawn, How Todd McFarlane Became the Biggest Comic Book Artist Ever.”

Todd McFarlane opens up about his career as a comic book artist that includes making Spider-Man cooler and creating the Spawn character. He also shares his blueprint to launching Image Comics and McFarlane Toys.

(14) BUT WHAT ABOUT THIS OTHER GUY? CBS Sunday Morning took viewers “Inside the studio of legendary comic book artist Alex Ross.”

In the world of comic book artists, Alex Ross is a superhero. He’s been called the Norman Rockwell of comics and has put his imprint on Superman, Spiderman, Aquaman and Captain America. Ross wields his superpower in his paintbrush and he allowed “CBS This Morning: Saturday” co-host Anthony Mason into his secret lair.

(15) WW84 WRAPS. USA Today says “Gal Gadot posts heartfelt message after production wraps on ‘Wonder Woman 1984′”.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, JJ, Daniel Dern, Cat Eldridge, Martin Morse Wooster, Chip Hitchcock, Mike Kennedy, Carl Slaughter, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Iphinome.] ked0 C

Busiek and Ross Back for 25th Anniversary of MARVELS


Celebrating the 25th anniversary of the series that changed the way fans look at super heroes, the landmark MARVELS is back. In the year 1939, young photojournalist Phil Sheldon attends the sensational unveiling of the fiery android Human Torch — little knowing he is witnessing the dawn of the Age of Marvels.

Prepare to relive Marvel’s Golden Age from a whole new point of view as Phil covers the superhuman sightings of the 1930s and 1940s — from the terror caused by the Human Torch’s epic clash with the Sub-Mariner to the patriotism stirred by the debut of Captain America and more. This unique look back at the MARVELS phenomenon is packed with extras and completely remastered.

Lauded as “a classic and watershed moment for the industry” by IGN and “a landmark” by Publisher’s Weekly, fans are invited to celebrate the 25th anniversary of Kurt Busiek and Alex Ross’ groundbreaking and critically-acclaimed series MARVELS.

In February, MARVELS ANNOTATED kicks off the series with never-before-seen commentary from Kurt Busiek and Alex Ross. Read the original MARVELS series with new covers and insight from the creators themselves.

Marvel also will release exclusive monthly MARVELS 25th anniversary variant covers, painted by the legendary Alex Ross, starting with FANTASTIC FOUR #6 in January, TONY STARK: IRON MAN #9 in February, and THE IMMORTAL HULK #15 in March. Later in June, 20 artists will come together to pay tribute in a MARVELS 25th anniversary homage variant program across Marvel’s most popular titles.

Pixel Scroll 10/5/18 The Curious Incident Of The Scroll In The Night-Time

(1) LOOKING BACK ON HORROR. From Rocket Stack Rank, here’s a new (perhaps the first annual) selection of “Outstanding SF/F Horror” of 2016-2017.

Although horror isn’t our focus, we do review horror stories that turn up in our regular magazines, so in honor of Halloween, here are 26 outstanding science fiction & fantasy horror stories from 2016-2017 that were either finalists for major SF/F awards, included in “year’s best” SF/F anthologies, or recommended by prolific reviewers in short fiction (see Q&A).

Observations:

(2) WRITING PROCESS. Jonathan LaForce notes it would be a waste to take the popular phrase literally — “Killing off the Darlings” at Mad Genius Club.

Perhaps “killing our darlings” is too much the wrong verbiage.  Let us say, instead, “putting them on ice.”  That’s really all we’re doing- setting them aside till we can use them again later.  In this age of incredible digital technology, why worry about where you’ll save those scenes, those stories, those parts and pieces?  Anybody take a look at how much space is available to use on cloud servers?  My goodness!

(3) VENOM. NPR’s Chris Klimek reports “Tom Hardy Gets His Teeth Into ‘Venom,’ Though The Film Lacks Bite”.

Eddie’s struggles to find a new gig while oily tentacles are shooting out of his body in response to even minor discomforts are the most diverting section part of the film, if only because Hardy is fully committed in a way no other actor here is. Had this thing been greenlit at the 1990s apex of Venom’s popularity as a comic book character, it almost certainly would’ve starred Jim Carrey. So we all dodged a bullet there.

(4) SOUND NUTRITION. While in San Jose, Scott Edelman nibbled naan with K. Tempest Bradford and recorded the results for Episode 78 of Eating the Fantastic.

K. Tempest Bradford

…I also went out to dinner with K. Tempest Bradford for one of the best meals of that extended weekend in the Santana Row neighborhood at Amber India.

K. Tempest Bradford’s short stories have been published in such magazines as Abyss & Apex, Sybil’s Garage, Electric Velocipede, and Farthing, and anthologies like Clockwork Cairo, Diverse Energies, Federations, and Shadow of the Towers: Speculative Stories of a Post 9/11 World. Her non-fiction has appeared at NPR, io9, xoJane, plus the Angry Black Woman blog, sometimes — as you’ll hear us discuss — going viral. Along with Nisi Shawl and Cynthia Ward, she teaches the Writing the Other workshop, and is on the board of the Carl Brandon Society. She also happens to be one of the funniest people I know. Whenever I’m with Tempest, I can be assured there will be laughter.

We discussed how her Egyptian Afro-retro-futurism idea grew from a short story into a series of novels, the way she used crowdfunding to complete the research she needed, why her discovery of my Science Fiction Age magazine means I bear the responsibility for all she’s done since, how an online writing community gave her the confidence to be a writer, the advice from Samuel R. Delany she embraces the most, why she set aside her goal of becoming an opera singer and decided to become a writer instead, the reason there are so many female monsters in Greek mythology, how she blew up the Internet with her “Stop Reading White, Straight, Cis Male Authors for One Year” challenge, her extremely strong opinions about Steven Moffat’s version of Doctor Who, and much more.

(5) NOT RAINBOWLED OVER. Bowlestrek snarks about that Doctor Who costume, asking which is worse, the 6th Doctor Who costume or the 13th Doctor Who costume?

—  “Hipster, Wesley Crusher, Rainbow Brite, Mork & Mindy thrown into a blender abomination.”

—  “Like somebody was trolling Doctor Who fans.”

—  “I’ve shown this picture to people who are fashion conscious and the response almost across the board has been, “What the hell is that?”

—  “What’s with the earrings, the suspenders, the rainbow shirt, what appears to be Tardis socks, and the old man pants?”

— “She looks like an elf.”

(The references to Wesley Crusher and Mork and Mindy are about the rainbow across the shirt.)

(6) FIRST, THE BAD NEWS. This just in from James Davis Nicoll – “Sorry to Crush Your Dreams, But We’re Not Colonizing Space Anytime Soon”.

Perhaps because some of the early space hype was unconvincing when regarded with any attitude other than fanboy enthusiasm. And perhaps because there weren’t any compelling reasons (political, economic, scientific) for significant human presence beyond low Earth Orbit. We don’t need to send up squishy frail humans when we can send probes and remote-controlled vehicles .

Some readers might even now be making squinchy faces, maybe even pondering which unflattering cartoon of me to post in protest.

(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and JJ.]

  • Born October 5, 1862 – Edward Stratemeyer, Writer and Publisher. Creator of the Stratemeyer Syndicate, which pioneered the book-packaging technique of producing a consistent, long-running series of books using a team of freelance writers, which sold millions of copies, some series of which are still in publication today. He himself wrote more than 1,300 juvenile novels, including the Nancy Drew, Hardy Boys, Tom Swift, and Bobbsey Twins series, Tom Swift being the main character of a series of more than a hundred juvenile science fiction and adventure novels.
  • Born October 5, 1917 – Allen Ludden, Actor who became well-known for decades of hosting TV game shows, but who surprisingly had a part in an episode of Adam West’s Batman, played Perry White in the TV movie It’s a Bird… It’s a Plane… It’s Superman!, and had a cameo – as a game show host – in Hugo finalist Futureworld.
  • Born October 5, 1919 – Donald Pleasence, Actor and Writer who famously played the doctor in the Halloween movies and the President in Escape from New York. He also had a plethora of parts in other genre properties, a few of which include the main role in the Hugo finalist movie Fantastic Voyage which was novelized by Isaac Asimov, roles in episodes of the The Twilight Zone, The Outer Limits, and The Ray Bradbury Theater, a part in George Lucas’ first foray into filmmaking, THX 1138, John Carpenter’s The Prince of Darkness, and the role of Merlin in the TV movie Guinivere.
  • Born October 5, 1949 – Peter Ackroyd, 69, Writer, Biographer, and Critic known for his interest in the history and culture of London. His best-known genre work is likely the Whitbread Award-winning Hawksmoor, the story of an 18th-century London architect building a church interwoven with the narrative of a contemporary detective investigating horrific murders involving that church, and is highly recommended. His novel Dan Leno and the Limehouse Golem was recently made into a movie, and he produced a TV miniseries documentary entitled Peter Ackroyd’s London.
  • Born October 5, 1951 – Karen Allen, 67, Actor and Director known to genre fans as Marion in the Hugo finalist Raiders of the Lost Ark and Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, as well as roles in Starman, Ghost in the Machine, and Scrooged. She also played Christa McAuliffe in the TV movie Challenger.
  • Born October 5, 1952 – Clive Barker, 66, Writer, Director, Artist and Videogame Designer, famous for his horror novels. His series include Hellraiser, Book of the Art, and Books of Blood, as well as The Abarat Quintet which is quite superb. Though not recent, The Essential Clive Barker: Selected Fiction, published some twenty years ago, contains more than seventy excerpts from novels and plays and four full-length short stories. His Imaginer series collects his decidedly strange art. My personal favorite work by him is the Weaveworld novel. His works have received many World Fantasy, British Fantasy, Stoker, Locus and International Horror Guild Award nominations and wins, and have been made into movies, videogames, and comic books. He was the Toastmaster at the 1988 World Fantasy Convention, and Guest of Honor at Albacon III in 1986 and FantasyCon 2006.
  • Born October 5, 1952 – Duncan Regehr, 66, Actor from Canada probably best known to genre fans for his recurring role as a Bajoran resistance leader on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, but who also had guest roles on The Greatest American Hero, Star Trek: The Next Generation, V, and appeared in the film Timemaster.
  • Born October 5, 1958 – Neil DeGrasse Tyson, 60, Astrophysicist, Cosmologist, and Writer whose nonfiction work Reflections on Carl Sagan’s Cosmos is considered genre. He has had cameos in several genre TV shows and films, including Stargate: Atlantis, Ice Age: Collision Course, Bojack Horseman, The Simpsons, and The Big Bang Theory. Tyson is known for tweeting about inconsistencies and bad science in science fiction films, and Andy Weir famously posted “Someday, Neil deGrasse Tyson is going to either read The Martian or see the film adaptation of it. When he does, he’s going to immediately know that the sandstorm part at the beginning isn’t accurate to physics. He’ll point out that the inertia of a Martian storm isn’t enough to do damage to anything… The knowledge that this is going to happen haunts me.”
  • Born October 5, 1959 – Rich Horton, 59, Writer, Critic, and Editor. He is best known as an anthology editor – and a damn superb one at that – who has been putting out Year’s Best Science Fiction & Fantasy anthologies since 2006, as well as one-off anthologies Space Opera, Robots: The Recent A. I., and War & Space: Recent Combat. He started out writing reviews for SF Site in the late 90s, and has been reviewing books and short fiction for Locus Magazine since 2002.
  • Born October 5, 1967 – Guy Pearce, 51, Actor and Director from Australia who is known for genre works Memento, the remake of The Time Machine, Prometheus, and the Hugo finalist Iron Man 3.
  • Born October 5, 1974 – Colin Meloy, 44, Musician, Singer, Songwriter, and Writer. Front man of the indie folk rock band The Decemberists, and author of the juvenile fantasy novels The Wildwood Chronicles.
  • Born October 5, 1975 – Carson Ellis, 43, Writer, Artist, and Illustrator whose work graces genre works The Wildwood Chronicles written by her husband Colin Meloy, The Mysterious Benedict Society series, a Lemony Snicket book, and The Decemberists albums. Birthday celebrations must be an intimate affair.
  • Born October 5, 1975 – Kate Winslet, 43, Actor from England whose genre credits include the TV series Dark Season and the films A Kid in King Arthur’s Court, the Hugo finalist Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Finding Neverland, Contagion, the Divergent series, and the upcoming Avatar 2.
  • Born October 5, 1975 – Parminder Nagra, 43, Actor from England who appeared in Ella Enchanted, had a recurring role on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., a guest part on TRON Uprising, and a voice part in Batman: Gotham Knight.
  • Born October 5 – Paul Weimer, Writer, Reviewer, and Podcaster, also known as @PrinceJvstin. An ex-pat New Yorker living in Minnesota, he has been reading science fiction and fantasy for over 30 years and exploring the world of roleplaying games for more than 25 years. An avid blogger, he also contributes to the Hugo-nominated fancast The Skiffy and Fanty Show and the SFF Audio podcast. He was the 2017 Down Under Fan Fund delegate to the Australia and New Zealand National Conventions, and his e-book DUFF trip report, consisting of more than 300 pages of travel stories and stunning photographs, is still available here.

(8) WAY OUT WEST. LiveScience passes the word from the USAF — “US Air Force: Don’t Worry About Those Weird Lights and Booms Sunday, It’s Just a Space Ship”.

Sunday (October 7) SpaceX will try (for the first time) to land a Falcon 9 rocket on the West Coast.

If you’re in the vicinity of Vandenberg Air Force Base in California Sunday evening (Oct. 7), you might hear some strange booming and see some weird lights in the sky. But the Air Force would like you to know that there’s no need to worry; something entirely normal is going on — a rocket that heaved its way up into space will be falling back to Earth, correcting its trajectory with “multiple engine burns,” and then (if all goes well) settling comfortably back on its landing struts in the vicinity of its launch site.

(9) OVERSERVED. These avians have found a natural high: “Minnesota Residents Call Police On Rowdy Drunk Birds”.

Life lately in the tiny northern Minnesota town of Gilbert has resembled a scene out of an Alfred Hitchcock film. Birds, lots of birds, have been “flying into windows, cars and acting confused,” according to the city police department, which has been fielding reports from anxious residents.

But these birds aren’t out for human blood. They’ve just had a few too many — a few too many overripe berries, that is.

“Certain berries we have in our area have fermented earlier than usual due to an early frost, which in turn has expedited the fermenting process,” Gilbert Police Chief Ty Techar explained in a statement. “It appears that some birds are getting a little more ‘tipsy’ than normal.”

Yes, having a boozy lark is nothing abnormal among the feathered set.

(10) CASTALIA HOUSE CHANGING STRATEGY. Vox Day will be pulling most of his imprint’s books from Kindle Unlimited, and will reduce the number of new fiction authors he publishes — “Why KU is killing ebooks” [Internet Archive link]

I did an analysis of our ebook sales and was surprised to discover that with 7 exceptions, Kindle Unlimited is simply not worth it even without taking potential non-Amazon sales into account. So, we’re going to be removing most of our books from KU and returning them to the Castalia House store over the next three months. By the start of the new year, most of our books will be available from all the major ebook platforms as well as our online store.

Remember, every dollar in the KU pool represents about THREE dollars removed from the ebook sales pool. And because the overall market is not growing, it is a zero-sum game.

We’re also going to reduce the number of new fiction authors we publish. Because repeated experiments have demonstrated that even the very best-selling KU novelists don’t sell very well in print, and because the success of KU puts us in a catch-22 situation with them regardless of whether they sell well through us or not, we are going to focus our efforts on strategic properties that we create, own and develop rather than those that we merely publish.

Because non-fiction a) sells well in print and b) is not popular on KU, our non-fiction publishing will continue without any change in focus or strategy.

(11) NOT THAT VOX, THE OTHER VOX. At Vox, Todd VanDerWerff asks why this had such an impact: “Russian trolls used Star Wars to sow discord online. The fact that it worked is telling.”

Maybe the Russian bots that Bay identified are all extra-governmental, built by trolls with spare time on their hands and a grudge against Lucasfilm. Or maybe Bay’s findings are yet another example of how thoroughly Russian intelligence has zeroed in on the idea that white nationalism is central to driving a wedge into American society.

If the latter is true, then what’s most unnerving about Russia’s intelligence strategy and its connection to Star Wars isn’t what that strategy says about Russia, but what it says about us.

Whomever you believe is behind movements like Gamergate and the pushback against The Last Jedi, what they reveal about America in the 2010s feels a little hard to swallow at first: At this point in history, a lot of us — and especially a lot of young, white men — are centering their identities and their senses of right and wrong on pop culture artifacts, sometimes with a near-religious zealotry. Call it “fandamentalism.”

(12) CREEPY PHONE. In this BBC video, “Feely finger phone crawls across desk”.

A touch-sensitive robotic finger that can be attached to smartphones has been developed by a researcher in France.

The MobiLimb finger can crawl across the desk, waggle for attention when messages arrive and be used as an interface to control apps and games.

It can also stroke its owner on the hand, which developer Marc Teyssier said could create more personal connections.

He told the BBC people generally found the finger creepy or weird because it was so unusual, but hoped it would be “accepted” in time.

(13) KEEPING IT OFF THE TIP OF THEIR TONGUE. French language body urges alternative phrase for “fake news”. Somehow information fallacieuse doesn’t have the same je ne sais quoi; the Commission offers “infox” among the alternatives, possibly not knowing how “Fox” is Frenched in the US.

Or if that is too long-winded, CELF suggested the abbreviation “infox”, formed from the words “information” and “intoxication”.

“The Anglo-Saxon expression ‘fake news’, which refers to a range of behaviour contributing to the misinformation of the public, has rapidly prospered in French,” the commission rued.

“This is an occasion to draw on the resources of the language to find French equivalents.”

(14) DRAWN THAT WAY. Comic artist Alex Ross appeared on Late Night with Seth Meyers promoting his latest book, Marvelocity.

Comic book writer and artist Alex Ross talks about his artistic process, what drew him to the idea of drawing realistic versions of superheroes and explains why he doesn’t have an email.

 

(15) SIGN UP FOR THE ZONE. Rod Serling pitches The Twilight Zone to advertisers back in the day.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Eric Wong, JJ, Alan Baumler, Chip Hitchcock, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, James Davis Nicoll, Scott Edelman, Carl Slaughter, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Edd Vick.]