Pixel Scroll 8/3/23 For Who Knows What Pixels Will Come, When You Have Shuffled Off This Mortal File

(1) GOOD OMENS GRAPHIC NOVEL KICKSTARTER BREAKS RECORDS. A Kickstarter to publish a hardcover graphic novel of Pratchett and Gaiman’s Good Omens, adapted by illustrator Colleen Doran, raised over $1 million in the first two days. According to the project page, it broke two Kickstarter records: the most successful 24 hours of any comic campaign and the most-backed comics Kickstarter.

Dunmanifestin, the publishing arm of Terry Pratchett estate, will also make GOOD OMENS: the Official (and Ineffable) Graphic Novel available to bookstores as well through a pledging pre-order process.

(2) MOVE NOW TO GET “JOHN THE BALLADEER” BONUS. Place your order for the Haffner Press’ Manly Wade Wellman collection The Complete John The Balladeer by August 10 to receive a chapbook of the unpublished Wellman story, “Not All a Dream”.

Here’s the cover for the story, and photos of the big book in final stages of production.

(3) ZOOMING THROUGH FANHISTORY. Fanac.org’s next Fanhistory Zoom Session is: Boston in the 60s, with Tony Lewis, Leslie Turek and Mike Ward, moderated by Mark Olson on September 23.To get an invite, send a note to [email protected].

Boston in the 60s was a generative hotbed of fannish activities, with long lasting consequences. The first modern Boskone was held in 1965 by the Boston Science Fiction Society, as part of its bidding strategy for Boston in ’67. NESFA began in 1967, and the first Boston Worldcon was held in 1971. MIT provided a ready source of new fans, and they made themselves heard in fanzines, indexes, clubs and conventions (and invented the micro-filk). What was Boston fandom like in the 60s? How was it influenced by MIT? Who were the driving forces and BNFs? What were the impacts of the failed 67 bid? What made Boston unique?

September 23, 2023 at 4PM EDT (New York), 1PM Pacific (PDT), 9PM London (BST) and 6AM Sept 24 in Melbourne

(4) HE’S A CEO BRO. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] The good news: Warner Bros. believes the writer’s and actor’s strikes may be over soon.

The bad news: They’re telling investors that, meanwhile, WB is saving sooooo much money that investors should jump for joy (and maybe root for the strikes to continue). “Warner Bros. thinks the strike will end soon. Meanwhile, it’s saving millions” in the Washington Post.

…Warner Bros. Discovery expects that the Hollywood strike will end in a few weeks, executives said in a public earnings call Thursday. But even if actors and writers remain on the picket lines into next year, the studio is projecting hundreds of millions of dollars in savings as an “upside.”

Chief financial officers Gunnar Wiedenfels said a work stoppage by thousands of unionized writers in May resulted in more than $100 million in savings, which helped juice Warner’s free cash flow above projections — to $1.7 billion between April and June. The company reported about $10.4 billion in revenue for the quarter, though it still lost $1.2 billion.

Analysts expect Warner’s free cash flow to remain strong next quarter, which will include the impact of tens of thousands of unionized actors who joined the strike in July, shutting down almost all remaining production in Hollywood….

(5) DECLINED CHENGDU OFFER. The Octothorpe team, John Coxon, Alison Scott, and Liz Batty, are not taking up the Chengdu Worldcon’s offer of financial and other assistance to attend the con.

(6) STATUS OF HUGO VOTER PACKET. The Chengdu Worldcon told Facebook readers today: “We are still collecting materials for the voter packet. Hopefully, within a week we will see all. Fingers crossed!”

(7) GET OFF MY LAWN. “George Lucas learned he’s not official owner of California driveway — so he’s suing”Yahoo! has the story.

George Lucas, the creator of “Star Wars” and “Indiana Jones,” recently learned he’s not the official owner of a paved driveway leading to one of his properties in California’s Bay Area, according to a lawsuit.

Lucas, and those permitted by his agents, have driven up the strip to the San Anselmo property over the past three decades — dating back to around 1990, a complaint filed Marin County Superior Court on May 15 says

The acclaimed filmmaker suspects heirs of his deceased neighbors may have been granted the right to access part of the driveway and believes they may claim that right, the complaint says.

As a result, Lucas has filed a lawsuit against those heirs and the town of San Anselmo to ensure he’s declared the rightful owner of the strip, the complaint shows. The lawsuit was first reported by the Marin Independent Journal

(8) CLARION WEST INTERVIEWS. This summer Clarion West is featuring three interviews with people from their community. Access them at the link.

Q&A with 2023 Six-Week Workshop instructor Samit Basu
Get to know our Week 3 instructor, Samit Basu, as he shares about writing and publishing across multiple genres (and countries!), plus what he’s looking forward to with Clarion West.

Interviews with Sagan Yee (CW ’21) and Fawaz Al-Matrouk (CW ’21)
Six-Week Workshop alumni Sagan Yee and Fawaz Al-Matrouk share their virtual workshop tips and insights for this year’s class. Helpful advice on balance, self-care, and facilitating online connection — useful for anyone interested in virtual learning!

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born August 3, 1861 — Michel Jean Pierre Verne. Son of Jules Verne who we now know rewrote some of his father’s later novels. These novels have since been restored using the original manuscripts which were preserved. He also wrote and published short stories using his father’s name. None of these are the major works Jules is now known for. (Died 1925.)
  • Born August 3, 1904 — Clifford Simak. I was trying to remember the first novel by him I read. I’m reasonably sure it was Way Station though it could’ve been City which won a well-deserved Retro Hugo. I’m fond of Cemetery World and A Choice of Gods as well. By the way I’m puzzled by the Horror Writers Association making him one of their three inaugural winners of the Bram Stoker Award for Lifetime Achievement. What of his is truly horror? (Died 1988.)
  • Born August 3, 1920 — P. D. James. Author of The Children of Men which she wrote to answer the question “If there were no future, how would we behave?” Made into a film which she said she really liked despite it being substantially different than her novel. I like authors who can do that. ISFDB lists her as having done a short story called “Murder, 1986” which they say is genre but I’ve not read it. (Died 2014.)
  • Born August 3, 1940 — Martin Sheen, 83. So that was who that was! On Babylon 5: The River of Souls, there’s a Soul Hunter but the film originally didn’t credit an actor who turns out to be Sheen. Amazing performance. He’s been in a number of other genre roles but that’s the ones I like most. Though I will single him out for voicing Arthur Square in Flatland: The Movie
  • Born August 3, 1946 — John DeChancie, 77. A native of Pittsburgh, he is best known for his Castle fantasy series, and his SF Skyway series. He’s fairly prolific even having done a Witchblade novel. Who here has read him? Opinions please. 
  • Born August 3, 1950 — John Landis, 73. He’d make this Birthday List if all he’d done was An American Werewolf in London, but he was also Director / Producer / Writer of the Twilight Zone movie. And wrote Clue which is the best Tim Curry role ever. And Executive Produced one of the best SF comedies ever, Amazon Women on the Moon. Neat fact: he was the puppeteer for Grover in The Muppet Movie, and he later played Leonard Winsop in The Muppets Take Manhattan
  • Born August 3, 1972 — Brigid Brannagh, 51. Also credited, in astonishing number of last names, as Brigid Brannagh, Brigid Brannah, Brigid Brannaugh, Brigid Walsh, and Brigid Conley Walsh. Need an Irish red headed colleen in a genre role? Well she apparently would do. She shows up in Kindred: The Embrace, American GothicSliders, Enterprise (as a bartender), RoarTouched by an Angel, Charmed, Early Edition, Angel (as Virginia Bryce in a recurring role), GrimmSupernatural and on Runaways in the main role of Stacey Yorkes. 

(10) WHO HAS THEM? “Doctor Who missing episodes are ‘out there’, says TV archive boss” to Radio Times.

The head of TV archive Kaleidoscope has suggested that ‘missing’ episodes of Doctor Who are known to still exist, but remain in private collections.

Out of 253 episodes from the show’s first six years, 97 remain lost in their original form, due to the BBC’s policy of junking archive programming between 1967 and 1978.

As a result, numerous adventures of the First Doctor (played by William Hartnell) and the Second Doctor (played by Patrick Troughton) are either incomplete or missing in their entirety….

(11) OCTOTHORPE. In episode 89 of the Octothorpe podcast, “The Winner Does Not Receive a Pie”,  John Coxon, Alison Scott, and Liz Batty “read your lovely letters of comment before discussing podcast transcripts, podcast programme, generative AI, free trips to China (we’re not going), and picks.”

(12) OCTOTHORPE HUGO VOTER PACKET SUBMISSION. And while we’re busy making this the all-Octothorpe edition of the Scroll, the team announced they have uploaded transcripts and subtitles for Episodes 49, 62, and 72 as part of their Hugo Voter Packet submission.

(13) IN CASE YOU WERE WONDERING. “Gal Gadot Developing Wonder Woman 3 With James Gunn, Peter Safran (Exclusive)” reports Comicbook.com.

The DC Universe on film is headed in a new direction under James Gunn and Peter Safran, but it sounds like Gal Gadot is still going to be involved with Wonder Woman‘s future. Gadot debuted as Diana Prince in 2016’s Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. She then headlined 2017’s Wonder Woman and its 2020 sequel, Wonder Woman 1984 opposite Chris Pine as Steve Trevor, both helmed by director Patty Jenkins, while also appearing in Justice League (and the fully Zack Snyder-helmed director’s cut). As Gunn and Safran took over as co-heads of the rechristened DC Studios for Warner Bros., plans for Patty Jenkins to return for Wonder Woman 3 were scrapped. That left Gadot’s future as Wonder Woman unclear. Things became murkier when she appeared in a cameo role in Shazam! Fury of the Gods, but had a similar cameo cut from The Flash, starring Ezra Miller, where she would have appeared alongside Ben Affleck as Batman and Henry Cavill as Superman, further confusing fans.

Speaking to ComicBook.com’s Chris Killian for her new Netflix movie Heart of Stone before the SAG-AFTRA strike, Gadot said that, as she understands it, she will be developing Wonder Woman 3 together with Gunn and Safran. “I love portraying Wonder Woman,” Gadot says…. 

(14) ALL ROADS LEAD TO CURRY. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] You know how it is — been to see a few panels, desperately avoid spending too much in the dealers room, catch a recent art house SF film — and it’s the evening and you’ve had a few beers in the hotel bar…  So it’s time for a curry.  But for how long have people been doing this?

Researchers have now found on ancient culinary tools from 2,000 years ago in Southern Vietnam “culinary spices that include turmeric, ginger, finger root, sand ginger, galangal,clove, nutmeg,and cinnamon. These spices are indispensable ingredients used in the making of curry in South Asia today. [The researchers] suggest that South Asian migrants or visitors introduced this culinary tradition into Southeast Asia during the period of early trade contact via the Indian Ocean, commencing about 2000 years ago.” [Wang, W., et al (2023) Earliest curry in Southeast Asia and the global spice trade 2000 years ago. Science Advances, vol.9 (29), eadh551]

The maritime trading networks and the Silk Road linked the Eurasian continent and the ancient civilizations of the world at least since 2,000 years ago. Southeast Asia, such as the trading entrepôt, Oc Eo, is at the crossroads of the ancient maritime trading networks

Potential maritime trading networks, the realm of Funan, and the location of Oc Eo.

(15) VIDEO OF THE DAY. The Planet Zoom Players bring us “The Crystal Egg” by H. G. Wells, a play adaptation with effects.

Join us to see what kindly old Mr. Cave sees in his crystal egg. What does this new world mean for Earth’s future. This performance is enhanced with illustrations, music, and animations. This is an amateur production created by Planet Zoom Players.

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

Pixel Scroll 7/25/23 There’s No Business Like Scroll Business

(1) CHENGDU’S OFFER TO HUGO FINALISTS. Joe Yao, a WSFS Division department head for Chengdu, provides more information about the assistance being offered to 2023 Hugo finalists to attend the Worldcon:

As it is the first time a Worldcon held in China, along with the first time for the Hugo Awards presented in China, we really like to have more finalists coming in person, and they can also participate in program and other activities if they want. But as we all know, it is a long and expensive trip for most of the finalists and they might not afford such a trip by themselves, thus we tried our best to help them, even though we have limited budget as well.

Hope there will be more finalists coming in October.

It appears the offer of help is being offered to 2023 Hugo finalists generally (or to one representative of finalists involving teams of multiple editors/creators). A few more people who have confirmed to File 770 that they received the offer include Gideon Marcus, Alison Scott, and Olav Rokne and Amanda Wakaruk (the latter got theirs today; they didn’t have it yet when they responded yesterday.)

(2) WRITER BEWARE. “Contract, Payment Delays at the Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction” at Writer Beware.

F&SF takes First North American Serial Rights and pays on acceptance (which in practice means on receipt of a contract). Acceptance emails indicate that writers will receive a contract and a check within two to four weeks. However, Writer Beware has recently received multiple reports from writers whose work has been officially accepted but, months later, are still waiting for contracts and checks.

…Writers also report a variety of other delays: waiting for notification of official acceptance well beyond the stated acquisition timeline of 6 weeks to 6 months; receiving copy edits and proofs for accepted stories without having received a contract or payment; receiving contract and payment only weeks before the publication date, after months of waiting; completing requested revisions and then hearing nothing more. Many of the writers who contacted me say that they’ve sent repeated emails asking about the delays, and haven’t received a response….

Writer Beware’s Victoria Strauss contacted F&SF publisher Gordon Van Gelder and heard what he is doing to resolve the issues. See his responses at the link.

(3) SDCC AMID THE STRIKES. Rob Kutner says the lack of big movie presentations had its advantages in “Comic-Con In the Time of Strikes” at Book and Film Globe.

…As I’ve written here, Comic-Con offers many uses for the working (on non-struck things) professional. I came this year in part to network for gigs, and in part to sign my new kids’ graphic novel at my publisher’s table. Neither of those directly tied to the big panel/preview scene, so for me it was mostly business as usual. Nor, at first glance, could I necessarily spot a difference, other than some occasionally empty patches in the crowds, which would normally be wall-to-wall nerd.

However, after two days, some patterns began to emerge, and friends and colleagues that I spoke to confirmed this. As Craig Miller, Lucasfilm’s Director of Fan Relations for the first two Star Wars movies, described it, the effect on strike-year Comic-Con was “both profound and minimal. Hall H, the big, 6,000-person room”—where they often announce the latest Marvel or Star War for the first time — “is empty. There are no lines of people waiting hours to get into that room. But they’re still here at the convention.”

As a result, Miller spent the Con at a table, selling his memoir Star Wars Memories, and sold every last copy. Granted, any SDCC might have brought him scads of customers who liked both Star Wars and books, but it’s also a highly competitive environment, with literally hundreds of vendors and publishers vying for those same dollars.

This time, however, the diversion of crowds, who might otherwise be in Lineworld, onto the main convention floor created a flood of foot traffic for vendors that lifted even the smallest boats. Rantz Hoseley, VP of Editorial for Z2 Comics, confirms, “sales and signings at our booth were the biggest we’ve had at any convention, with a number of deluxe editions selling out by Thursday evening [the first of Comic-Con’s four days].”…

(4) BACK TO 1955. In “Buckle Your (DeLorean) Seatbelt: ‘Back to the Future’ Lands on Broadway”, the New York Times talks to franchise co-creator Bob Gale.

…And now on Broadway: “Back to the Future: The Musical,” which opens Aug. 3 at the Winter Garden Theater, follows a story that will be familiar to fans of the film. Using a time machine devised by Doc Brown, Marty McFly travels to 1955, meets his parents Lorraine and George as teenagers and must help them fall in love after he disrupts the events that led to their romantic coupling.

On its yearslong path to Broadway, “Back to the Future” has faced some challenges that are common to musical adaptations and others unique to this property.

While the show’s creators sought actors to play the roles indelibly associated with the stars of the film and decided which of the movie’s famous scenes merited musical numbers, they were also trying to figure out how the stage could accommodate the fundamental elements of “Back to the Future” — like, say, a plutonium-powered sports car that can traverse the space-time continuum.

Now this “Back to the Future” arrives on Broadway with some steep expectations: After a tryout in Manchester, England, its production at the Adelphi Theater in London’s West End won the 2022 Olivier Award for best new musical. The show also carries a heavy price tag — it is being capitalized for $23.5 million, according to a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Throughout its development process, the people behind it — including several veterans of the “Back to the Future” series — tried to remain true to the spirit of the films and keep intact a story that has held up for nearly 40 years.

Bob Gale, who wrote the original movie with Robert Zemeckis, said of the stage adaptation: “We didn’t want to reinvent the wheel. We just want to make the wheel smooth.”

But, he added, “It cannot be a slavish adaptation of the movie. Because if that’s what people want to see, they should stay home and watch the movie. Let’s use the theater for what theater can do.”…

(5) LEARNEDLEAGUE. [Item by David Goldfarb.] LearnedLeague is currently in its “off-season” when it features player-created content, including 12-question specialized quizzes that last for one day. Monday there was one about the Stargate movie and TV franchise. As I write this it’s still live, but by the time tonight’s Pixel Scroll goes out, it will be graded and so available for the public to view. Here’s a link: Stargate 1DS

(6) CORDWAINER SMITH REDISCOVERIES. James Davis Nicoll encourages readers to “Take a Minute to Celebrate the Forgotten Greats of Science Fiction” at Tor.com.

Time is nobody’s friend. Authors in particular can fall afoul of time—all it takes is a few years out of the limelight. Publishers will let their books fall out of print; readers will forget about them. Replace “years” with “decades” and authors can become very obscure indeed.

The Cordwainer Smith Rediscovery Award was founded in 2001 to draw attention to unjustly forgotten SF authors…. Since it’s been five years (and there have been four new recipients) since we last discussed the award in 2018, I’ve updated the discussion to include the newest honorees—including the most recent winner, announced this past weekend at Readercon.

I wish the award were more widely known, that it had, perhaps, its own anthology. If it did, it might look a bit like this. Who are the winners? Why should you care about them? I am so happy I pretended you asked….

(7) FANAC.ORG NEWS. The fanhistory website Fanac.org has been adding scanned fanzines at an colossal rate. Among their accomplishments, they’ve finished scanning a run of Imagination, by LASFS members during the Fighting Forties…

We’ve added more than 1,000 publications since the last newsflash in March, and about 2,000 since the last full newsletter in December 2022. We’ve added some great zines by Arnie Katz, and many APAzines from Jeanne Gomoll. Here are some highlights.

 We completed our run of LASFS’s first important fanzine, Imagination including the Rejected issue. Imagination is filled with contributions from notables in the field, fan and pro, among them Yerke and Bok, Kuttner and Bloch, Bradbury and Lowndes, Hornig and Wollheim, and of course 4sj….

(8) WILL WIKI MATE WITH CHATGPT? Jon Gartner calls it h “Wikipedia’s Moment of Truth”. “Can the online encyclopedia help teach A.I. chatbots to get their facts right — without destroying itself in the process?”

In late June, I began to experiment with a plug-in the Wikimedia Foundation had built for ChatGPT. At the time, this software tool was being tested by several dozen Wikipedia editors and foundation staff members, but it became available in mid-July on the OpenAI website for subscribers who want augmented answers to their ChatGPT queries. The effect is similar to the “retrieval” process that Jesse Dodge surmises might be required to produce accurate answers. GPT-4’s knowledge base is currently limited to data it ingested by the end of its training period, in September 2021. A Wikipedia plug-in helps the bot access information about events up to the present day. At least in theory, the tool — lines of code that direct a search for Wikipedia articles that answer a chatbot query — gives users an improved, combinatory experience: the fluency and linguistic capabilities of an A.I. chatbot, merged with the factuality and currency of Wikipedia.

One afternoon, Chris Albon, who’s in charge of machine learning at the Wikimedia Foundation, took me through a quick training session. Albon asked ChatGPT about the Titan submersible, operated by the company OceanGate, whose whereabouts during an attempt to visit the Titanic’s wreckage were still unknown. “Normally you get some response that’s like, ‘My information cutoff is from 2021,’” Albon told me. But in this case ChatGPT, recognizing that it couldn’t answer Albon’s question — What happened with OceanGate’s submersible? — directed the plug-in to search Wikipedia (and only Wikipedia) for text relating to the question. After the plug-in found the relevant Wikipedia articles, it sent them to the bot, which in turn read and summarized them, then spit out its answer. As the responses came back, hindered by only a slight delay, it was clear that using the plug-in always forced ChatGPT to append a note, with links to Wikipedia entries, saying that its information was derived from Wikipedia, which was “made by volunteers.” And this: “As a large language model, I may not have summarized Wikipedia accurately.”

But the summary about the submersible struck me as readable, well supported and current — a big improvement from a ChatGPT response that either mangled the facts or lacked real-time access to the internet. Albon told me, “It’s a way for us to sort of experiment with the idea of ‘What does it look like for Wikipedia to exist outside of the realm of the website,’ so you could actually engage in Wikipedia without actually being on Wikipedia.com.” Going forward, he said, his sense was that the plug-in would continue to be available, as it is now, to users who want to activate it but that “eventually, there’s a certain set of plug-ins that are just always on.”…

(9) MITCH THORNHILL (IRA) OBITUARY. Mitch Thornhill (Ira) died July 25 after many months of serious medical problems. He lived in Mississippi. However, he first became known as a fan in the Seventies while living in New Orleans and Minneapolis. He sometimes went by the name Ira M. Thornhill.

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born July 25, 1907 Cyril Luckham. He played the White Guardian first in the Fourth Doctor story, “The Ribos Opperation”, part one, and then twice more in the two-part Fifth Doctor story, “Enlightenment”.  He was also Dr. Moe in the Fifties pulp film Stranger from Venus, and also showed up in The Omega FactorA Midsummer Night’s DreamRandall and Hopkirk (Deceased) and Tales of The Unexpected. (Died 1989.)
  • Born July 25, 1910 Kendell Foster Crossen. He was the creator and writer of the Green Lama stories about a Buddhist crime fighter whose powers were activated upon the recitation of the Tibetan chant om mani padme hum. He also wrote Manning Draco series, an intergalactic insurance investigator, four of which are can be found in Once Upon a Star: A Novel of the Future. Kindle has a really deep catalog of his genre work. (Died 1981.)
  • Born July 25, 1922 Evelyn E. Smith. She has the delightful bio being of a writer of sf and mysteries, as well as a compiler of crossword puzzles. During the 1950s, she published both short stories and novelettes in Galaxy Science FictionFantastic Universe and The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction. Her SF novels include The Perfect Planet and The Copy Shop. A look at iBooks and Kindle shows a twelve story Wildside Press collection but none of her novels. (Died 2000.)
  • Born July 25, 1937 Todd Armstrong. He’s best known for playing Jason in Jason and the Argonauts. A film of course made excellent by special effects from Ray Harryhausen. His only other genre appearance was on The Greatest American Hero as Ted McSherry In “A Chicken in Every Plot”. (Died 1992.)
  • Born July 25, 1948 Brian Stableford, 75. I am reasonably sure that I’ve read and enjoyed all of the Hooded Swan series a long time ago which I see has been since been collected as Swan Songs: The Complete Hooded Swan Collection. And I’ve certainly read a fair amount of his short fiction down the years. 
  • Born July 25, 1971 Chloë Annett, 52. She played Holly Turner in the Crime Traveller series and Kristine Kochanski in the Red Dwarf series. She was in the “Klingons vs. Vulcans” episode of the Space Cadets, a sort of game show. 
  • Born July 25, 1973 — Mur Lafferty, 50. Podcaster and writer. Co-editor of the Escape Pod podcast with Valerie Valdes. She is also the host and creator of the podcast I Should Be Writing which won a Parsec Award for Best Writing Podcast. She is also the Editor-in-Chief of the Escape Artists short fiction magazine Mothership Zeta. And then there’s the Ditch Diggers podcast she started with Matt Wallace which is supposed to show the brutal, honest side of writing. For that, it won the Hugo Award for Best Fancast at Worldcon 76, having been a finalist the year before.  Fiction wise, I loved both The Shambling Guide to New York City and A Ghost Train to New Orleans with I think the second being a better novel. She has two nominations at Chicon 8, first for Best Semi Prozine as part of the Escape Pod team, second for Best Editor, Short Form with S.B. Divya. 

(11) COMICS SECTION.

(12) NO THERE THERE. GameRant warns that this “steelbook” collectible doesn’t include a copy of the series: “WandaVision Steelbook Release Is Missing An Actual Blu-Ray Copy”.

WandaVision is the first Disney Plus series to have a physical release, but the upcoming steelbook doesn’t actually include any discs or a download code.

The steelbook set includes a case, full slip, folder, envelope, character cards, and stickers, but the lack of actual physical media may turn fans off.

The decision to release a steelbook without including the series itself seems odd and could be seen as a disappointment, especially considering Disney’s recent removal of other series from its streaming platform…

(13) NASFIC COVERAGE. “Winnipeg hosts first Canadian version of international science fiction convention” at CTV News Winnipeg

…Unlike other “comic-cons,” Pemmi-Con makes a point of bringing in scientists as well as science fiction content creators. Canadian paleontologist Phillip John Currie is speaking about Jurassic Park-inspired fiction and dinosaur art and will be participating on a panel about recent scientific discoveries.

Other guests include biologist and author Julie E. Czerneda, Captain Canuck comic creator George Freeman, and Indigenous author Waubgeshig Rice.

“One of the things we’re trying to do this year is…emphasize Indigenous contributions to Canadian science fiction and fantasy,” Smith said.

The convention takes a different name every year relating to its location. Pemmi-Con is an homage to pemmican, a popular Metis dish in Manitoba. Smith said NASFiC attracts a worldwide audience….

(14) TECHNOLOGY NEVER DIES. Especially when somebody is devoted to keeping it around like the people who host the Mimeograph Revival website.

Mimeograph Revival is dedicated to preserving the printing technologies of an earlier era – with a particular emphasis on the stencil duplicator, the hectograph, and (maybe, as this is still a work in progress) the spirit duplicator. These are the techniques, machines, and processes that have fallen by the wayside, been relegated to “obsolete” status, and nearly forgotten.

Once ubiquitous, these machines ushered in an era in which it became possible for individuals and organizations, including clubs, fraternal organizations, churches, and schools, to quickly, easily, and cheaply reproduce printed matter. 

There’s not too much fannish content, however, the “Personal Narratives” section has a wonderful anecdote by Jeff Schalles.

Jeff Schalles, fanzine creator, printer, and founder of the facebook Mimeograph Users Group left the following story here at M. R. one day. A little historical documentation personal-narrative-style:

A while ago I was contacted by a researcher working for National Geographic Magazine. She was looking for material for an article on mimeo and ditto printing of the Greenwich Village Beat poets and writers scene and poetry chapbook creaters of the 1950’s.

I responded by suggesting she contact the late Lee Hoffman concerning the gatherings in her Greenwich Village apartment, where musicians like Dave Van Ronk and the poets, writers, musicians, and other local Beats, would jam all night. Lee had a reel-to-reel tape recorder and taped many of the parties.

Lee also had a mimeograph and produced Science Fiction fanzines, including the long-running “Science Fiction Five Yearly” published every five years until Lee died sometime in the early 21st Century. The print runs were short and there are few copies of SF Five Yearly around. Geri Sullivan and I edited and mimeo’d two of the later issues for Lee. Harlan Ellison had a long-running serial in every issue and never missed a deadline until Lee’s death finally ended the run of Science Fiction Five Yearly.

The Geographic researcher was only interested in “The Mimeograph Revolution” and its beginnings. Her response to my suggestion that she contact Lee, who was by then living in Florida, was that there was… absolutely, positively, no connection between the Beats and Science Fiction Fandom. She was very rude to me, and obviously had no interest and little knowledge of SF Fandom. I just sighed and stopped corresponding with her. I blame Rupert Murdoch’s purchase of National Geographic for hiring an idiot like her.

I’m of the opinion that SF fan mimeographers like Ted White, who had a small basement mimeograph print shop in the Village, had something to do with teaching the Beats how to use the technology. The Geographic researcher insisted that was impossible, and that SF Fandom was just a bunch of teenage amateurs amounting to nothing.

I’ve asked around to see if any of Lee’s party tapes survived, but no one ever got back to me, so I suspect they were tossed in a dumpster.

(15) NETFLIX PASSWORD CRACKDOWN: HOW HAS PERFORMANCE CHANGED? With the recent news about Netflix changes and its growth, JustWatch has put together a graphic about the global market shares of streaming services and how Netflix performed over the last 2 years.

In brief, global streaming giant Netflix found a way to restore its former glory after losing -3% market share in 2022. Launching a “Basic with Ads” brought back some interest, however the key move was introducing password sharing crackdown, as they gained nearly 6 million subscribers in the last three months.

(16) VIDEO OF THE DAY. Ahsoka, a Star Wars Original series, begins streaming August 23 on Disney+.

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

Pixel Scroll 7/7/23 The Universal Pixelscroll

(1) BE UPSTANDING. The space shuttle Endeavour will be rehoused in a new building that will allow it to be displayed upright in its original launch position, mated to the orange external tank and two booster rockets: “Space shuttle Endeavour preps for move to new museum” reports the LA Times.

After more than a decade on display at the California Science Center, the space shuttle Endeavour will begin the final trek to its permanent home at a new Los Angeles building in the coming months.

To get ready for the grand move, the state-run museum announced Thursday that crews will begin the installation of the base of the shuttle’s full stack on July 20. Workers will use a 300-ton crane to lower the bottom sections of the twin solid rocket boosters, which are 10,000 pounds apiece and roughly 9 feet tall, to the freshly built lowest section of the partly constructed $400-million Samuel Oschin Air and Space Center.

It’ll be the first of many delicate maneuvers conducted over roughly six months (if the weather cooperates). Eventually, all half-million pounds of the full stack — including the shuttle Endeavour and a giant orange external tank — will rest on the base of the solid rocket boosters, bolted to the ground by eight supersized, superalloy fasteners that are 9 feet long and weigh 500 to 600 pounds….

(2) OCTOTHORPE. John Coxon, Alison Scott, and Liz Batty have uttered Episode 87 of the Octothorpe podcast, “We Didn’t Imagine the Third Option”.

Wheeeeeee we’re Hugo finalists again! Huge congratulations to Alison Scott and España Sheriff who are finalists in Best Fan Artist, huge congratulations to John Coxon who’s a finalist with Journey Planet in Best Fanzine, and of course congratulations to transatlantic besties and cocky cake-makers Hugo, Girl! We also discuss the Locus and the BSFA Awards, plus (of course) picks.

(3) MEET RIVERFLOW. Chinese fan RiverFlow, a two-time 2023 Hugo finalist, tweeted this self-introduction:

(4) IT’S AN HONOR JUST TO BE NOMINATED. Wil Wheaton also shared his happy news: “Still Just A Geek is a Hugo award finalist” at WilWheaton.net.

I have been nominated for a few things in my life. I’ve even won a few. But I have not won way more often than I have. Based on my experience, the “I won!” thing is awesome for a short time, but where that euphoria fades quickly, the genuine honor of “I was nominated!” lasts forever. With that in mind, I looked at the other nominees this morning, and … I think it’s very unlikely I’ll be making space for a Hugo statue in my house. But that’s okay! I got to reach out to my TNG family today and tell them about it, and everyone who replied made me feel the love and pride that I imagine kids feel from parents who love them unconditionally.

If Still Just A Geek wins in its category, it’s going to be awesome. I’m not going to lie: I think it would be pretty great if I got to have a Hugo in my house, next to my Tabletop trophies. But if it doesn’t, the excitement, joy, and gratitude I feel that my story even made the finalists this year will never go away, and I get to have that whether I get the statue or not.

(5) COMPLETE LISTS OF HUGO FINALISTS. The Chengdu Worldcon Hugo Administrator limited the number of names they would place on the ballot announcement. As a result, several finalists have tweeted links to the complete lists of people they believe should be included.

(6) HUGO FINALIST ANNOUNCEMENT VIDEO. The Chengdu Worldcon has added the 81st Worldcon Hugo Awards Finalists Announcement to YouTube.

(7) CLARION CROWDFUNDING. The Clarion Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers Workshop at UC San Diego is in the midst of a 2023 crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo to support the next generation of science fiction, fantasy, and horror writers. They have raised over $5,500 of their $20,000 with over three weeks remaining.

Would you be interested in these perks on offer to donors?

Want to have your name in a new Cory Doctorow novel?

Talk worldbuilding with Sue Burke?

Get a signed proof of Kim Stanley Robinson’s story “UCSD and Permaculture”?

Or name a scholarship to support making attending Clarion possible for a student next year? (Donation = $1,000)

All these — and t-shirts! — are on offer through the Clarion Workshop IndieGogo campaign. 

(8) ROGERS: THE MUSICAL. [Item by Daniel Dern.] I’d lost track that info about this was already scrolled — Item 7 in the June 30 Scroll — but it doesn’t look like there were any links to the actual show.

Here’s the five-and-a-half-minute trailer, from Marvel’s D23 Ex (watching the full thing once was enough for me, and it’s not the same without seeing Clint “Hawkeye” Barton in the audience shaking his head…

And here’s two  of many links to the full 37-minute show. (The first one seems to have more close-ups, but “features” some MST3K back of somebody’s head mid-left…):

  • Rogers: The Musical | Full Show, Disney California Adventure Park
  • Full Show: Rogers: The Musical | Disney California Adventure

(9) MEMORY LANE.

1963 [Written by Cat Eldridge from a choice by Mike Glyer.]

This Scroll, Mike picked a work by Clifford Simak who I knew thot y’all know, so I see no need to introduce him to you. I will say that he was one of the first genre writers that I read deeply of. 

I’m fairly sure the first work by him that I read was City, a work that remains my favorite by him. But tonight we’re here to talk about Way Station, the source of the Beginning the Mike choose, another favorite of mine.

It was published by Doubleday in 1963 with the cover at by Ronald Fratell. It would win a Hugo at Pacificon II for the original publication as Here Gather the Stars in Galaxy’s June and August 1963 issues. 

And now let us turn to the Beginning…

The noise was ended now. The smoke drifted like thin, gray wisps of fog above the tortured earth and the shattered fences and the peach trees that had been whittled into toothpicks by the cannon fire. For a moment silence, if not peace, fell upon those few square miles of ground where just a while before men had screamed and torn at one another in the frenzy of old hate and had contended in an ancient striving and then had fallen apart, exhausted. 

For endless time, it seemed, there had been belching thunder rolling from horizon to horizon and the gouted earth that had spouted in the sky and the screams of horses and the hoarse bellowing of men; the whistling of metal and the thud when the whistle ended; the flash of searing fire and the brightness of the steel; the bravery of the colors snapping in the battle wind. 

Then it all had ended and there was a silence. 

But silence was an alien note that held no right upon this field or day, and it was broken by the whimper and the pain, the cry for water, and the prayer for death—the crying and the calling and the whimpering that would go on for hours beneath the summer sun. Later the huddled shapes would grow quiet and still and there would be an odor that would sicken all who passed, and the graves would be shallow graves. 

There was wheat that never would be harvested, trees that would not bloom when spring came round again, and on the slope of land that ran up to the ridge the words unspoken and the deeds undone and the sodden bundles that cried aloud the emptiness and the waste of death. 

There were proud names that were the prouder now, but now no more than names to echo down the ages—the Iron Brigade, the 5th New Hampshire, the 1st Minnesota, the 2nd Massachusetts, the 16th Maine. 

And there was Enoch Wallace

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born July 7, 1907 Robert Heinlein. Let’s have Paul Weimer tell about his favorite Heinlein works: “If I had to pick one favorite Heinlein novel, and that’s a tough road to hoe, I am going to go with the novel I’ve re-read the most and it’s probably not going to be the one you think.  It’s Glory Road. Yes, Glory Road. The back matter once the quest is done can be overcooked, but Heinlein had a keen eye for epic fantasy quests, the good and the bad, long before the rise of Tolkien clones. It was an early Heinlein for me, and the novel has stuck with me since, with a number of audio re-reads. I survived a boring drive across the flatness of the Great Plains by listening to the adventures of Oscar Gordon.” // If I had to pick one Heinlein story, I have a strong fondness for All You Zombies, which encapsulates all the potential paradoxes of time travel in a way that has been done at greater length, but not, I’d argue, with better effect. (The movie Predestination with Ethan Hawke is pretty darned good by the way). Oh, and my favorite book ABOUT Heinlein is Farah Mendelsohn’s The Pleasant Profession of Robert Heinlein. (Died 1988.)
  • Born July 7, 1919 — Jon Pertwee. The Third Doctor and one that I’ll admit I like a lot. He returned to the role of the Doctor in The Five Doctors and the charity special Dimensions in Time for Children in Need. He also portrayed the Doctor in the stage play Doctor Who – The Ultimate Adventure.  After a four-year-run here, he was the lead on Worzel Gummidge where he was, errr, a scarecrow. And I must note that one of his first roles was as The Judge in the film of Toad of Toad Hall by A. A. Milne. (Died 1996.)
  • Born July 7, 1946 Lisa Seagram. I’m noting her here because she was in the Batman episode “Louie, the Lilac” as Lila in which Milton Berle played the title character. She also had one-offs in both The Man from U.N.C.L.E. and The Girl from U.N.C.L.E., plus My Favorite Martian and Bewitched. (Died 2019.)
  • Born July 7, 1931 David Eddings. Prolific and great, with his wife Leigh, they authored several best-selling epic fantasy novel series, including The BelgariadThe Malloreon and The Dreamers to name but three of their series. He’s written but one non-series novel, The Redemption of Althalus. (Died 2009.)
  • Born July 7, 1959 Billy Campbell, 64. There are some films so good in my memory that even the Suck Fairy can’t spoil them and The Rocketeer in which he played stunt pilot Cliff Secord is one of them. (IDW did a hardcover edition called Dave Stevens’ The Rocketeer: The Complete Adventures which Amazon has it for a mere twenty bucks! And the ePub is available from the usual suspects for a mere five dollars and ninety nine cents.) Yes, he did other work of genre interest including the main role of Jordan Collier on The 4400, Quincey Morris on Bram Stoker’s Dracula, Captain Thadiun Okona in “The Outrageous Okona” episode of Next Gen, the Maine Dr. Alan Farragut on Helix and he’s currently voicing Okona once again on Prodigy.
  • Born July 7, 1968 Jeff VanderMeer, 55. Ok I’ll admit that I’m ambivalent about the Southern Reach Trilogy and am not sure if it’s brilliant or not though it is I’ll say quite disturbing. (Haven’t seen the film and have no desire to so.) I will say the pirate anthology he and his wife Anne did, Fast Ships, Black Sails, is quite tasty reading.  Now let’s see what the Hugos would hold for him. At Noreascon 4 for The Thackery T. Lambshead Pocket Guide to Eccentric & Discredited Diseases which I truly, madly love, he got a Hugo. He along with his Ann picked up at Anticipation up one for Best Semiprozine: for Weird Tales. It would be nominated the next year at Aussiecon 4 but Clarkesworld would win as it would the Renovation losing out again to ClarkesworldThe Steampunk Bible: An Illustrated Guide to the World of Imaginary Airships, Corsets and Goggles, Mad Scientists, and Strange Literature which he co-edited with  S. J. Chambers was nominated at Chicon 7. Another Best Related Work was nominated at Loncon 3, Wonderbook: The Illustrated Guide to Creating Imaginative Fiction. Finally the film Annihilation based off the Southern Reach trilogy was nominated for Best Dramatic Presentation Hugo at Dublin 2019. 
  • Born July 7, 1987 V.E. Schwab, 36. I’m very pleased with her A Darker Shade of Magic which explores magicians in a parallel universe London. It’s part of her Shades of Magic series. Highly recommended. Her Cassidy Blake series is also good provided you’re a Potter fan because she makes a lot of references to that series.

(11) COMICS SECTION.

  • Arlo and Janis know there’s always someone ready to jump in and correct the details. Just like in the comments here!

(12) THE VOID CAPTAINS. Mark and Evelyn Leeper today reminded people of the history of their prolific fanzine in today’s issue, the 2278th MT VOID:

The MT VOID started as a zine for the newly formed Science Fiction Club at Bell Labs in Holmdel in August 1978, but we have always been the editors (and primary writers).  It has been weekly for decades, and has continued even after we retired and the Science Fiction Club dissolved.  The current issue is #2278, making it (I’m pretty sure) the perzine with the most issues ever, and at 45 years, one of the longest running.

In July 1981, our area was split off and moved to Lincroft.  At that point we thought we needed to spin off a new club, so we started re-numbering the MT VOID (not yet called that) at that point.  Hence the volume roll-over in July.  Eventually we ended up remerging the clubs and newsletters, but kept the new numbering.

At some point in the 1980s we also renamed the club as the “Mt.  Holz Science Fiction Club”.  “Mt. Holz” came from the inter-company mail designations for the three New Jersey locations of AT&T et al where we once had meetings:
MT Middletown
HO Holmdel
LZ Lincroft

As the work environment changed, meetings eventually ended, but the MT VOID kept rolling along.  We retained the “Mt. Holz” name in the heading until last year, when we decided it was misleading to pretend there was an actual club behind this.  [-mrl/ecl]

(13) GOING DOWN TO THE SECOND. “After ‘Barbie,’ Mattel Is Raiding Its Entire Toybox” says The New Yorker.

In 2019, Greta Gerwig became the latest in a line of writers, directors, and producers to make a pilgrimage to a toy workshop in El Segundo, California. Touring the facility, the Mattel Design Center, has become a rite of passage for Hollywood types who are considering transforming one of the company’s products into a movie—a list that now includes such names as J. J. Abrams (Hot Wheels) and Vin Diesel (Rock ’Em Sock ’Em Robots). The building has hundreds of workspaces for artists, model-makers, and project managers, and it houses elaborate museum-style exhibitions that document the company’s history and core products. These displays can help a toy designer find inspiration; they can also offer a “brand immersion”—a crash course in a Mattel property slated for adaptation. When a V.I.P. visits, Richard Dickson, a tall, bespectacled man who is the company’s chief operating officer, plays the role of Willy Wonka. He’ll show off the sixty-five-year-old machines that are still used to affix fake hair to Barbies; he’ll invite you to inspect life-size, road-ready replicas of Hot Wheels cars. The center even boasts a giant rendering of Castle Grayskull, the fearsome ancestral home of He-Man. “The brand immersion is the everything moment,” Dickson told me. “I have met with some of the greatest artists, truly, in the world. . . . And, if you don’t walk out drinking the Kool-Aid, then it was a great playdate, but maybe we don’t continue playing.”

The actress Margot Robbie, who had toured the center in 2018, wanted to continue playing. She’d signed up for a Barbie movie, and had approached Gerwig about writing the script. She saw in Gerwig’s filmography the right combination of intelligence and heart: “You watch something like ‘Little Women,’ and the dialogue is very, very clever—it’s talking about some big things—but it’s also extremely emotional.” The project wasn’t an obvious fit for someone whose screenplays included the subtle dramas “Lady Bird” and “Frances Ha,” and Gerwig wavered for more than a year. At one point, Dickson called her when she was mixing “Little Women” in New York. “I don’t have a ton of friends in corporate America,” she told me, over Zoom. “But he was very excited. It was sweet.” She finally agreed to come to El Segundo…

(14) ASCENDING MT. TBR. Camestros Felapton is catching up on his reading: “Review: The Twisted Ones by T. Kingfisher”.

…The book makes no apologies and shows no respect for genre boundaries. With a chatty, out-going narrator, multiple sections about the trials of clearing out the home of a hoarder, friendly neighbours and a welcoming coffee shop, the story has many elements associated with, dare I say, “cosy” fiction. The latter sections head more into the realm of portal-fantasy. However, these elements are simply flesh hung upon the bones of the horror of thoughts that overwhelm you….

(15) BERLITZKRIEG. Everyone laughs as “Harrison Ford Roasts Conan O’Brien Mid-Interview for Having a Han Solo Note Reminder: ‘You Can’t F—ing Remember That?’”Variety has the story.

Harrison Ford roasted Conan O’Brien on a recent episode of the “Conan O’Brien Needs a Friend” podcast after the “Star Wars” and “Indiana Jones” icon discovered O’Brien had “Han Solo” written down in his notes for the interview. The two men were playfully arguing about Ford’s ancestry, which led O’Brien to consult some info he had jotted down prior to the interview.

“I refer you to this piece of paper right here,” O’Brien said. “That says, ‘Born and raised in Chicago to an Irish German father—’”

Ford leaned over to take a look at O’Brien’s notes and then interrupted the host when he realized they included a reminder that Ford played Han Solo in the “Star Wars” franchise. Along with Indiana Jones, Han Solo is Ford’s most iconic character.

“Well if that’s a quality of your research, and I imagine it is because right there it says ‘Harrison Ford’ and then you had to write ‘Han Solo,’” Ford said. “You can’t fucking remember that?”

“No I can’t. I can’t remember Han Solo,” O’Brien hilariously fired back. “I wrote it down because I heard that you were in some of the ‘Star Wars’ films, and this was news to me because I’ve seen those films and I don’t exactly think that you ‘pop.’”

O’Brien continued, “I’m sorry. But I mean, I remember Chewbacca, I remember the bad guy with the black helmet and then… there’s some people.”

Ford took matters into his own hands, asking O’Brien, “How come you’re not still on television?”…

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

Pixel Scroll 6/22/23 You Are An Odd Fellow But I Must Say…. You Scroll A Good Pixel

(1) DROPPING THE PILOT. The Horror Writers Association said goodbye to HWA Admistrator Brad C. Hodson today.

Message from the HWA Board of Trustees

The HWA and its administrator, Brad C. Hodson, have officially parted ways. Brad has served the HWA for many years and, in addition to performing his numerous administrative duties, he has helped to shepherd some wonderful initiatives, such as Horror University and health insurance for our members. We appreciate his hard work and dedication, and we wish him nothing but the best in his future endeavors.

As President John Edward Lawson stated at the General Meeting at StokerCon 2023, we are terminating the administrator position and instituting a new role: Executive Director. Our Treasurer, Max Gold, will be the interim Executive Director. We are grateful he has accepted this responsibility and are looking forward to working with him in this capacity.

We will begin to phase out the [email protected] email address, but Max will still be receiving emails through it. You can also email him at [email protected].

(2) HEADS ARE ROLLING. “The Flash’ Flopped. Is Turner Classic Movies Paying the Price?” asks Vanity Fair.

When Warner Bros. Discovery CEO David Zaslav anointed the newly-merged company with its slogan “the stuff that dreams are made of,” he paid homage to the classic film noir, The Maltese Falcon. Since then, he’s often touted his appreciation for cinema—rescuing Jack L. Warner’s old desk from storage so he could work from it, moving into Robert Evans’s former Beverly Hills home, and declaring Turner Classic Movies “the history of our country” at the network’s film festival in April.

As TCM general manager Pola Changnon told IndieWire earlier this year, Zaslav’s assistant ensured that “he had TCM on in his office all the time.” On Tuesday, after 25 years with the company, Changnon parted ways with TCM—the first in a string of top brass exits that now include TCM’s senior vice president of programming and content strategy Charles Tabesh, vice president of studio production Anne Wilson, vice president of marketing and creative Dexter Fedor, and TCM Enterprises vice president Genevieve McGillicuddy, a TCM representative confirmed to Vanity FairMichael Ouweleen, president of Adult Swim, Cartoon Network, Discovery Family, and Boomerang, and TCM alum, will take charge, per a company memo. According to the outlet’s sources, layoffs in TCM’s public relations department are expected to follow.

The gutting of TCM’s top creatives comes in the days after a major flop for Warner Bros. The Flash, a superhero blockbuster meant to link Zack Snyder’s regime at DC Studios with James Gunn’s new era, made just $55 million at the North American box office over the weekend. That’s after both the studio poured hundreds of millions into production and advertising and Zaslav himself labeled it the best superhero movie he’s ever seen.

There’s no definitive correlation between the flattening of TCM and the failure of The Flash, but it’s hard not to see it as one of a brand’s entities paying for the sins of another….

(3) HEAR FROM MANON STEFFAN ROS. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] Yesterday’s  B. Beeb Ceeb Radio 4 arts programme Front Row had an interview with yesterday’s winner of the Yoto Carnegie Medal for WritingManon Steffan Ros, author and translator of The Blue Book of Nebo, which is juvenile SF and rather good. It first came out in 2018 in Welsh as Llyfr Glas Nebo but then was republished in English last year hence eligible for this year’s Carnegie.

 It concerns the notes of a young woman who looks after her son who was only six when the world ended…

 I note that McCormac, who recently passed, most famous post-apocalyptic, The Road, concerned a father looking after his son and this year’s The Last of Us TV series had a boy being looked after in a post-apocalyptic setting (gosh, I enjoy the end of the world as long as it is firmly in SF). So it’s good to see a mum come to the fore.

(4) ABOUT SFWA SELLING T-SHIRTS… [Item by Bruce D. Arthurs.] In the File 770 comment section a few days ago, I mentioned there might have been a SFWA t-shirt long before the current offerings on the SFWA merch page.

Was able to find mine way at the back of a drawer today, so here’s a photo. I misremembered it as being based on a SFWA Bulletin cover; the original illustration was for SFWA FORUM, the members-only pub where writers clashed heads and competed to see who had the ugliest letterhead. (Members’s letters were xeroxed and pasted up for the Forum letter pages back then, including the letterheads.) I think the t-shirt dates from the late 1990s or early 2000s. 

(5) FULL HOUSE. James Davis Nicoll points us to “Five Novels Featuring Political Scandals and Skulduggery” at Tor.com. One of them is —

A Thunder of Stars by Dan Morgan and John Kippax (1970)

The first volume in the Venturer 12 series begins as all interstellar patrol series should, with extensive Commissioning Board hearings to determine the best candidate for the position of captain of the Venturer. Commander Tom Bruce is clearly that man. However, certain elements want someone else and will cheerfully accept any pretext for rejecting Bruce.

When Bruce orders the destruction of an out-of-control spacecraft, Bruce’s opponents seem to have the ammunition they need. True, the ship was headed for Earth and Bruce saved millions by having it destroyed. However, this is not the first time Bruce has ordered the deaths of innocents. Now his enemies have pretext for getting the Minos IV incident on record.

This is the sort of narrative universe in which tough men are often forced to make hard decisions, so it should be no surprise Bruce had a good reason to kill the Minos IV colonists. What should raise eyebrows but doesn’t is that Bruce’s executive officer is an ex-lover who plans to use her position to police which crewmembers sleep with Bruce. I can see no way in which that could go horribly wrong.

(6) FUNDRAISER. Michael A. Banks died June 19 (see item #10 in the June 20 Scroll). His daughter, Susan, has launched a GoFundMe to cover end-of-life expenses in “Funeral for Mike Banks”.

Hi, my name is Susan and I’m trying to raise enough to cover basic expenses related to the death of my dad, Mike Banks. My dad was a lot of things, he was a talented writer, a raconteur, and a storyteller. He loved sci fi , history, and Hawaiian shirts. He loved dogs. While he was great at using words to bring people like Ruth Lyons and Powell Crosley to life on the page, like a lot of writers, he lived a freelance life and wasn’t great at planning for the future or what would happen after he was gone.

At the end of February, Dad was diagnosed with end stage cancer that had started in his lungs and spread to his bones, liver, and spine. Within a few weeks, we learned it had also spread to his brain.

He remained upbeat and positive, even as his cognition declined. His dogged determination to soldier on to make one last trip to Kroger or the hardware store led to a fall, a broken hip, and then a series of falls that kept him in the hospital and too weak to receive radiation and chemotherapy. His decline accelerated and he passed on June 19th, less than four months from his diagnosis.

His positivity was so enduring and infectious, we were unable to get him to make a will or to do a lot of things people do for end of life.

My goal is to give him the send off he deserves and to be able to settle his estate without having to incur a large amount of debt.

(7) MEMORY LANE.

1975 [Written by Cat Eldridge from a choice by Mike Glyer.]

Now let’s talk about Katherine MacLean. Short fiction was her strength which is perhaps why her only Hugo nomination was at Detention for her “Second Game” novelette. She wrote some fifty short pieces of genre fiction but only five such novels. 

Our beginning comes from one of them, Missing Man, which was published by Berkley/Putnam in 1975. The novel is a fix-up of MacLean’s three Rescue Squad stories including the Nebula Award winning novella of the same name. It would also be a Nebula-nominated novella. 

The novel is a Meredith Moment at the usual suspects.

Now go read our Beginning….

was heading uptown to the employment office. The sidewalk was soft and green and dappled with tree shadows; the wind was warm. 

I stopped by a snack machine, looked at the pictures of breakfast, and watched a man put in his credit card and get out a cup of coffee. He was a young guy, a little older than me. I could smell the coffee. I’d had hot water for lunch and dinner yesterday and hot water for breakfast. It felt good in my stomach but my legs felt weak. 

The vibes of morning are always good. People walked by, giving out a kind of cheerfulness. I was blotting up that feeling until suddenly it seemed right that the snack machine should give out some free food just to be friendly. 

I shoved my credit card into the slot and pushed levers for a cup of coffee with two creams and two sugars and some hot buttered scrambled eggs. My hands started shaking. My mouth watered. I could smell from people’s windows the perfume of bacon and toasted plankton and hot butter on hot toast. 

The machine blinked a red sign, “000.00 balance,” and my credit card rolled out of the slot. I reached for it and dropped it. The man drinking coffee looked at my shaking.

The machine blinked a red sign, “000.00 balance,” and my credit card rolled out of the slot. I reached for it and dropped it. 

The man drinking coffee looked at my shaking hands and then at my face. Hunger doesn’t show on the outside. I’d lost a hundred pounds already and I wasn’t even skinny yet. He couldn’t feel my vibes. I have a kind of round, cheerful face, like a kid, but I’m big. 

I picked up the card and grinned at him. He grinned back.

“Hard night?” he asked sympathetically, meaning had I spent a night with a girlfriend? 

I made an “okay” sign with one hand and he whistled and went away grinning, giving out happy vibes of remembering great long sex nights when he’d had the shakes in the morning. 

I tried two more snack machines in the next three blocks. No food. The best food machines in lower New York City are in the artists’ and sculptors’ commune. 

Artists don’t like to cook when they’re working on something.

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born June 22, 1894 George Fielding Eliot. ISFDB has scant listings from him and Wiki is not much better but shows “The Copper Bowl” in Weird Tales in the December 1928 issue and notes that thirty years later he had “The Peacemakers” in the Fantastic Universe in January 1960 edition. Stitching this together using the EofSF, I’ll note he wrote Purple Legion: A G-Man Thriller, a really pulpish affair. As Robert Wallace, he wrote “The Death Skull Murders”, one of the Phantom Detective stories, a series that came out after The Shadow and ran for a generation. (Died 1971.)
  • Born June 22, 1947 Octavia E. Butler. Let’s note that she’s a multiple recipient of both the Hugo and Nebula awards, and she became in 1995 the first genre writer to receive a MacArthur Fellowship. As regards her fiction, I’d suggest the Xenogenesis series shows her at her very best but anything by her is both good and challengingI’m pleased to note that iBooks and Kindle have everything of hers available. (Died 2006.)
  • Born June 22, 1949 Edward M Lerner, 74. I’m here today to praise the Ringworld prequels that he co-wrote with Niven, collectively known as Fleet of Worlds which ran to five volumes. Unlike the Ringworld sequels which were terribly uneven, these were well written and great to read. I’ve not read anything else by him
  • Born June 22, 1949 Meryl Streep, 74. She’d make the Birthday list just for being Madeline Ashton in Death Becomes Her and her epic battle there with Goldie Hawn. She’s the voice of Blue Ameche in A.I. Artificial Intelligence, and a very real Aunt Josephine in Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events. She’s the voice of Felicity Fox in Fantastic Mr. Fox, based off the on Dahl’s 1970 children’s novel. She voices Jennie in a short that bring Maurice Sendak’s dog to life, Higglety Pigglety Pop! or There Must Be More to Life. She’s The Witch in Into The Woods. I think that is it. 
  • Born June 22, 1953 Cyndi Lauper, 70. Ok I’m officially old as I’m thinking of her as always young. Genre-wise, she played a psychic, Avalon Harmonia, on the Bones series. She also has one-offs in series as diverse as The Super Mario Bros. Super Show!Shelley Duvall’s Mother Goose Rock ‘n’ Rhyme and Happily Ever After: Fairy Tales for Every Child. She also has a dramatic acting credit, Jenny (Ginny Jenny/Low-Dive Jenny) in Bertolt Brecht’s The Threepenny Opera
  • Born June 22, 1958 Bruce Campbell, 65. Where to start? Well let’s note that Kage loved him so I’ve linked to her review of Jack of All Trades. I personally like just as much The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr. and think it’s well worth checking out. I think his work as Ash Williams in the Evil Dead franchise can be both brilliant and godawful, often in the same film. The series spawned off of it is rather good. Oh and for popcorn reading, check out If Chins Could Kill: Confessions of a B Movie Actor, his autobiography. 
  • Born June 22, 1973 Ian Tregillis, 50. He is the author of the Milkweed Triptych trilogy which is frelling brilliant. He’s contributed three stories to Max Gladstone’s The Witch Who Came in From the Cold, a rather good serial fiction narrative (if that’s the proper term), and he’s got another series, The Alchemy Wars, I haven’t checked out. He’s also a contributor to George R. R. Martin’s Wild Cards series which I’m beginning to suspect everyone has been involved in.

(9) OCTOTHORPE.  Episode 86 of the Octothorpe podcast is “The Joy of Hemispheres”.

John Coxon can do one, Alison Scott don’t like cricket, and Liz Batty will never get to bed. We discuss Chengdu and the Hugo Awards, new COVID ventilation advice, Seattle in 2025, Pemmi-Con, Glasgow 2024, the Clarke Award, the UK Games Expo, Ben Aaronovitch and cricket. Phew!

(10) HEY, IT COULD HAPPEN. “Star Trek: Strange New Worlds Season 2 Theory: Is Pelia Actually Simka from Taxi?” wonders Slashfilm. Danielle Ryan presents the evidence. Beware spoilers.

The U.S.S. Enterprise has a new face in “Star Trek: Strange New Worlds” season 2, but the actor who plays her is pretty familiar to film and TV fans. Carol Kane has starred in everything from “The Princess Bride” to “The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt,” but one of her earliest roles seems to have found its way into the DNA of her “Star Trek” character, Chief Engineer Pelia. 

…At the end of the first season, Chief Engineer Hemmer (Bruce Horak) died heroically while fighting the Gorn, and now Pelia is going to step into his shoes. The mysterious Pelia is a Lanthanite, a member of an alien species new to “Star Trek” lore that seems to bear some similarities with the El-Aurians. (The most well-known El-Aurian is Guinan (Whoopi Goldberg) from “Star Trek: The Next Generation.”) Both appear to look just like humans and are extremely long-lived, though whether or not the Lanthanites have psychic abilities is yet to be seen. If Pelia’s actions in the premiere are any indication, they just might be. She’s either psychic or incredibly observant, because she’s on the ball. In the season 2 premiere of “Star Trek: Strange New Worlds,” we get to learn a little bit about her, and she reminds me of Simka Dahblitz-Gravas, Kane’s character from the 1980’s sitcom series, “Taxi.”…

(11) BRADBURY RARITY OFFERED. A Bradbury first edition autographed to oldtime LASFS member R.A.Hoffman. On eBay: Dark Carnival – Signed Presentation Copy From Ray Bradbury In 1947 First Edition”.

BRADBURY, RAY. Dark Carnival. Sauk City, WI: Arkham House, 1947. First Edition of the Author’s First Book. Signed and inscribed by Ray Bradbury. The inscription reads (in upper case): “For Bob Hoffman, With fond remembrances of many pleasant evenings of Prokofieff, Gliere, Rozsa and others – and the old days of record making – With all my best from your friend, Ray Bradbury May 29, 1947.” The book is in near fine condition with the barest hint of edge wear, a trace of rubbing to the gilt stamping at the spine with all letters legible and present, and with faint dusting at page edges in a very good bright dust jacket some light soiling to rear panel, thin lines of foxing to the tops and folds of the flaps, and the usual light wear to the edges as this jacket was too large for the book, and some minor wear to the top and bottom edges of the spine. Enclosed in a custom black clamshell box. Presentation copies contemporary with publication and to personal friends are very rare. R.A. Hoffman was the “Art editor” and one of the founders of the magazine – ‘The Acolyte’. He was a member of the Clifton’s Cafe where the LASFAS group would gather (Ray Bradbury, Ray Harryhausen, Roy Squires, Robert Heinlein, and ‘the other RAH as Rah liked to quip). Although not scarce signed, a true presentation copy [at the time of publication] is indeed scarce! William F. Nolan – author of ‘The Bradbury Companion’ has noted that the book was released “October, 1947.” Perhaps to the general public it was; this copy is one of the earliest known inscriptions dated by the author, “May 29, 1947.” An attractive copy.

(12) DCEU IMMURED? [Item by Mike Kennedy.] The Hollywood Reporter has what seems to be a scathing story about the DC Extended Universe movies in its latest digital issue. The article is firmly entrenched behind a paywall, though you can read a small excerpt at the link. It’s unclear, of course, if the story itself is as negative as the headline, but said headline is pretty darn negative

(13) THAT’S DISTURBING. Gizmodo says, “Soon You Can, but Really Shouldn’t, Pre-Order This Flame-Throwing Robodog”.

…When Boston Dynamics finally started selling Spot, it’s four-legged robot, it came with one stipulation: users couldn’t use it to harm people. But while the creators of the Thermonator aren’t actively promoting it as a weapon, you don’t want to be within 30 feet of a flamethrower strapped to the back of a robodog….

(14) MIXED UNBLESSING. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] God, I simply enjoy the end of the world… but only if it is firmly SF. As an environmental scientist, I’ve seen the writing on the wall for over half a century…  So this week’s Nature editorial is something of a curate’s egg.

The world’s plan to make humanity sustainable is failing. Science can do more to save it

There is no planet B, and the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals are heading for the rocks. Researchers around the world must do their bit to change that….

 The key, bottom line message is…

 Implicit — and to a degree explicit — in all this is changing how science itself is done. The report [from UN science advisors] argues that the actions that steer the world towards a sustainable path must be rooted in science that is multidisciplinary, equitable and inclusive, openly shared and widely trusted, and “socially robust” — in short, responsive to social context and social needs. As the authors acknowledge, for that to happen, global science needs to evolve. Knowledge needs to be more accessible than it is at present, and the production of that knowledge needs to be more open, too, recognizing, for example, the value of Indigenous and local knowledge to sustainable innovation.

Hard to argue with that… but with war-mongering and partisan political leaders wanting to put their country first, good science may not be enough. (Just saying.)

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

Pixel Scroll 6/8/23 What Happens When Pixels Go Walkabout?

(1) CHENGDU WORLDCON VENUE CONSTRUCTION UPDATE. The Chengdu Worldcon committee is meeting in China and Vice Chair and Hugo co-Administrator Dave McCarty is there.

He has added a photo gallery to his Facebook page showing the progress in constructing what will be the main venue, called the Chengdu Science Fiction Museum in press reports.

McCarty says, “The current completion projection for the building, lake that surrounds it, and park that contains it is now August 30.”

(2) WISCON BOX SCORE. WisCon 46, held May 26-29 in Madison Wisconsin, was a hybrid convention, with some events being in-person and others being virtual. Attendance for the con was:

570 in-person for all or part of the weekend (the limit was 600);

154 online memberships.

(3) THE FIRST LOTR MOVIE NEVER MADE. Den of Geek mined the letters of Tolkien to rediscover “The 1950s Lord of the Rings Movie That J.R.R. Tolkien Absolutely Hated”. The proposal was agented by Forrest J Ackerman, known for many things good and bad, among them his long record of making cameo appearances in movies. It’s interesting to speculate where he might have shown up in a Fifties version of Lord of the Rings.

All of the English-language screen versions of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings came out after J.R.R. Tolkien passed away in 1973, so we’ll sadly never know what he might have thought of them. But things were nearly quite different. In the late 1950s, Tolkien and his publishers seriously considered a proposal for an animated film, which even got to the script stage before the project was eventually scrapped.

In 1957, Tolkien was approached by an American film agent, Forrest J. Ackerman, about a proposed animated film adaptation of The Lord of the Rings. Early on, Tolkien was really quite positive about the idea, in a pragmatic sort of way. At this stage, Tolkien was shown some drawings and color photographs to indicate the sort of look they were going for in the animation, and he read a “Story Line,” a synopsis of the film’s proposed plot….

By June 1958, however, Tolkien had finished going through [Morton Grady] Zimmerman’s treatment and was thoroughly unimpressed. He sent Ackerman a copy of the script complete with his own notes and comments. A lengthy series of extracts were published along with his letter to Ackerman in The Letters of JRR Tolkien. Here are a few highlights…

… Tolkien had historical issues with Zimmerman’s treatment of Rohan and the Rohirrim, too. He complains that “in such time” kings like Théoden did not have private bedrooms, presumably meaning in Northern Europe during the early medieval period, which is roughly the inspiration for Rohan. He also said they did not have glass windows that could be thrown open, something he felt strongly enough about to put two exclamation marks on, and added, “We might be in a hotel.”…

(4) PAUL ECKSTEIN (1963-2023). Paul Eckstein, co-creator and executive producer of the drama series Godfather of Harlem and an actor who appeared on Star Trek: Voyager and Star Trek: Deep Space Nine and many other shows, died June 6 at the age of 59 reports Deadline.

…Before co-creating Godfather of Harlem, along with his writing partner Brancato, Eckstein led the writers room on the first year of the hit Netflix drama Narcos. Eckstein also wrote and produced the Disney/ABC biblical series Of Kings and Prophets on location in South Africa. His other writing credits include Street TimeLaw & Order: Criminal Intent and The Dead Zone….

(5) JOSHUA QUAGMIRE (1952-2023). Cutey Bunny creator Joshua Quagmire (Richard Lester) died in a Santa Monica, CA hospital around May 28 reports Taral Wayne. His sister posted this notice in social media:

(6) MEMORY LANE.

1991[Written by Cat Eldridge from a choice by Mike Glyer.]

I’m a big fan of Michael Swanwick having first encountered him when I read his Jack Faust novel and then the Iron Dragon’s Daughter trilogy. What I’ve read of The Periodic Table of Science Fiction flash fiction was quite enjoyable. 

Our Beginning is that of Stations of the Tide which I really like. It was first published by William Morrow and Company thirty-two years ago in hardcover and paperback editions. The cover art is by Daniel Horne. 

It would win a Nebula as well an SF Chronicle Award while being nominated for a Hugo at MagiCon. It was nominated for a John W. Campbell Memorial Award as well. 

Here is this really great Beginning….

The Leviathan Said

The bureaucrat fell from the sky. 

For an instant Miranda lay blue and white beneath him, the icecaps fat and ready to melt, and then he was down. He took a highspeed across the stony plains of the Piedmont to the heliostat terminus at Port Richmond, and caught the first flight out. The airship Leviathan lofted him across the fall line and over the forests and coral hills of the Tidewater. Specialized ecologies were astir there, preparing for the transforming magic of the jubilee tides. In ramshackle villages and hidden plantations people made their varied provisions for the evacuation. 

The Leviathan’s lounge was deserted. Hands clasped behind him, the bureaucrat stared moodily out the stern windows. The Piedmont was dim and blue, a storm front on the horizon. He imagined the falls, where fish-hawks hovered on rising thermals and the river Noon cascaded down and lost its name. Below, the Tidewater swarmed with life, like blue-green mold growing magnified in a petri dish. The thought of all the mud and poverty down there depressed him. He yearned for the cool, sterile environments of deep space. 

Bright specks of color floated on the brown water, coffles of houseboats being towed upriver as the haut-bourgeois prudently made for the Port Richmond incline while the rates were still low. He touched a window control and the jungle leaped up at him, misty trees resolving into individual leaves. The heliostat’s shadow rippled along the north bank of the river, skimming lightly over mud flats, swaying phragmites, and gnarled water oaks. Startled, a clutch of acorn-mimetic octopi dropped from a low branch, brown circles of water fleeing as they jetted into the silt.

 “Smell that air,” Korda’s surrogate said. 

The bureaucrat sniffed. He smelled the faint odor of soil from the baskets of hanging vines, and a sweet whiff of droppings from the wicker birdcages. “Could use a cleansing, I suppose.”

(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born June 8, 1910 John W. Campbell Jr., 1910 – 1971.  As you well know, he was editor of Astounding Science Fiction (later to be called Analog Science Fiction and Fact) from late 1937 until his death and was part of the Golden Age of Science Fiction. His novella Who Goes There? was adapted as The Thing from Another WorldThe Thing and yes once again as The Thing. (Died 1971.)
  • Born June 8, 1915 Frank Riley. He’s best known for They’d Rather Be Right (co-written with Mark Clifton) which won a Hugo Award for Best Novel at Clevention. Originally published in serialized form in Astounding unlike his eight short SF stories that were all published in If. His “The Executioner” was the cover story for the April 1956 issue of If. (Died 1996.)
  • Born June 8, 1917 George D. Wallace. He’s here for playing Commando Cody in the early Fifties Radar Men from the Moon movie serial. He would later show up as the Bosun on Forbidden Planet, and had minor roles late in his career in MultiplicityBicentennial Man and Minority Report. He also played a Star Fleet Admiral in “The Man of the People” episode of The Next Generation. (Died 2005.)
  • Born June 8, 1928 Kate Wilhelm. Author of the Hugo Award–winning Where Late the Sweet Birds Sang. She also won a Hugo Award for Best Related Book and a Locus Award for Best Nonfiction for Storyteller: Writing Lessons and More from 27 Years of the Clarion Writers’ Workshop. SFWA renamed their Solstice Award the Kate Wilhelm Solstice Award. She established the Clarion Workshop with her husband Damon Knight and writer Robin Scott Wilson. (Died 2018.)
  • Born June 8, 1946 Elizabeth A. Lynn, 77. She is well known for being one of the first sff writers to introduce gay and lesbian characters as part of her stories. So in honor of her, the widely known A Different Light chain of LGBT bookstores took its name from her novel of that name. Her best known work is The Chronicles of Tornor series. 
  • Born June 8, 1947 Sara Paretsky, 76. Best best known for her private detective novels focused on V.I. Warshawski, she has one genre novel in Ghost Country. It, too, involves V.I. Warshawski and may or may not involve things of supernatural nature.

(8) COMICS SECTION.

  • Bliss has a special on kaiju cuisine.
  • Loose Parts supplies a scene that was left out of the Book of Jonah.
  • The Far Side  shows the moment before a time travel mistake becomes a tragedy.
  • xkcd takes up the skepticism about UFO evidence. (There may also be SJW credentials involved….)
  • Thatababy stages a peculiar race between two comparable DC and Marvel characters.

(9) MASTER PIECE. “Doctor Who stars delight fans as Master and Missy unite in new video”RadioTimes made sure we didn’t miss it.

Doctor Who fans have had their imaginations set alight by a shared Instagram post from Sacha Dhawan and Michelle Gomez, where the Master actors can be seen strutting down a flight of stairs together.

The reason for their meeting was not given, but fans were thrilled to see them together, with each known for their popular incarnations of the Doctor’s classic arch-nemesis….

(10) ANAKIN SKYWALKER AND CASSIAN ANDOR. Variety eavesdrops on a conversation between “Diego Luna and Hayden Christiansen On How ‘Star Wars’ Has Changed Their Lives”.

Hayden Christensen and Diego Luna have never met, but as Christensen puts it, they’ve occupied the “same galaxy” for years. Christensen rocketed from teenage obscurity in Canada when George Lucas cast him as Anakin Skywalker for 2002’s “Star Wars: Episode II — Attack of the Clones” and 2005’s “Revenge of the Sith,” which chronicled the young Jedi’s transformation into the iconic villain Darth Vader. The Mexican-born Luna — who rose to prominence in Alfonso Cuarón’s 2001 coming-of-age masterpiece “Y tu mamá también” — joined “Star Wars” for 2016’s “Rogue One,” a prequel about the band of rebel spies, led by Luna’s Cassian Andor, that steal the plans for the Death Star….

CHRISTENSEN: I’d really love to hear about how you got into “Rogue One.” You were already a very established actor.

LUNA: It was the first time such secrecy happened around anything I was going to be part of. I was asked by my agent to meet someone for something that couldn’t be said on the phone. I went into a meeting in a restaurant that was completely empty. There was a guy sitting in the corner with a computer open, and this was Gareth [Edwards], the director. I sat down with him, and it was just us for four hours.

CHRISTENSEN: So you had no concept that it was “Star Wars” at all at this point?

LUNA: My agent said, “This might be ‘Star Wars.’” I guess she didn’t want me to get excited about anything. Gareth explained to me the whole film, and he said at the end, “I would really like you to play this role.” I said to him, “But I don’t see myself here. I love these films, but how do I fit here? No one has my accent. I’ve never thought this could be possible.” He basically said, “Since I saw ‘Y tu mamá también,’ I thought you could be great for a role like this. I want that kind of tone in the film. I want that realism, that feeling that it’s everyday life.” I never thought that a film like “Y tu mamá también” would get me the chance to be in the world of “Star Wars.”

CHRISTENSEN: That’s what I love about it. It’s a much darker and more grounded sort of take. I think it was very important for “Star Wars.” I love your performance. There’s so much subtlety to it and nuance to it, which you can’t always get in stories like these.

(11) OCTOTHORPE. The summer of fun continues! Episode 85 is “Super Smart or Completely the Opposite”.

John Coxon is at a convention, Alison Scott is in a cottage, and Liz Batty is not at a festival. This time we have a bevy of letters of comment, discussions about Satellite 8 and the Hugo Awards, and also picks. One pick is for some obscure book you won’t have heard of.

(12) NATURE BARS THE DOOR TO AI. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] Nature, the world’s leading multidisciplinary science journal (well perhaps rivaling Science but that’s the other side of the Pond and we all know what goes on there (in part thanks to File770)), is the latest to ban AI use in its content. “Why Nature will not allow the use of generative AI in images and video”.

Saying ‘no’ to this kind of visual content is a question of research integrity, consent, privacy and intellectual-property protection….

 Apart from in articles that are specifically about AI, Nature will not be publishing any content in which photography, videos or illustrations have been created wholly or partly using generative AI, at least for the foreseeable future.

Artists, filmmakers, illustrators and photographers whom we commission and work with will be asked to confirm that none of the work they submit has been generated or augmented using generative AI

Why are we disallowing the use of generative AI in visual content? Ultimately, it is a question of integrity. The process of publishing — as far as both science and art are concerned — is underpinned by a shared commitment to integrity. That includes transparency. As researchers, editors and publishers, we all need to know the sources of data and images, so that these can be verified as accurate and true. Existing generative AI tools do not provide access to their sources so that such verification can happen.

Then there’s attribution: when existing work is used or cited, it must be attributed. This is a core principle of science and art, and generative AI tools do not conform to this expectation.

Consent and permission are also factors. These must be obtained if, for example, people are being identified or the intellectual property of artists and illustrators is involved. Again, common applications of generative AI fail these tests.

Generative AI systems are being trained on images for which no efforts have been made to identify the source. Copyright-protected works are routinely being used to train generative AI without appropriate permissions. In some cases, privacy is also being violated — for example, when generative AI systems create what look like photographs or videos of people without their consent. In addition to privacy concerns, the ease with which these ‘deepfakes’ can be created is accelerating the spread of false information

Appropriate caveats

For now, Nature is allowing the inclusion of text that has been produced with the assistance of generative AI, providing this is done with appropriate caveats (see go.nature.com/3cbrjbb). The use of such large language model (LLM) tools needs to be documented in a paper’s methods or acknowledgements section, and we expect authors to provide sources for all data, including those generated with the assistance of AI. Furthermore, no LLM tool will be accepted as an author on a research paper.

(13) DUELING PLATFORMS. With the upcoming Apple TV+ release of The Crowded Room, JustWatch has compiled its quality content ranking of the most popular streaming platforms.

The top position belongs to Apple TV+, with a 0.66 point lead over the global giant: Netflix, which is struggling in fifth place despite such hits as “Squid Game” and “Stranger Things”. 

Apple TV+ attributes this advantage to a number of highly rated TV Shows such as Ted Lasso, which won 11 Primetime Emmys, and Severance with 2 Primetime Emmys under its belt. The film Coda won 3 Oscars, making Apple TV+ the first-ever streamer to win Best Picture, Best Supporting Actor and Best Adapted Screenplay.

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

Pixel Scroll 5/25/23 Pixels Propagate Like Tribbles And They Purr Like Them Too

(1) JACQUELINE WOODSON INTERVIEW. “U.S. Book Show 2023: Jacqueline Woodson Works from Memory and Empathy”Publishers Weekly reports from the show.

Mention Jacqueline Woodson—a former National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature—and readers begin naming favorite titles: groundbreaking LGBTQ novels (From the Notebooks of Melanin Sun), stories of BIPOC histories and identities (After Tupac and D Foster), books adapted to TV (Miracle’s Boys), and the National Book Award–winning memoir in verse Brown Girl Dreaming. At a lunch-hour keynote on May 24, Woodson sat down with bookseller Miwa Messer, executive producer and host of the Barnes & Noble podcast Poured Over, to discuss her work.

We’re here with Jacqueline Woodson, and we’ve run out of superlatives to describe her work—straight up, let’s not pretend,” Messer said, before reading an abbreviated list of Woodson’s accolades: a 2020 MacArthur Fellowship, an NAACP Image Award, and a 2023 E.B. White Award for achievement in children’s literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters,

… “When I write, I’m very conscious of [my reader] seeing themselves in it,” Woodson said. “Is there something about how I write a character that might break that person’s spirit?” She wants to impress upon readers “that they’re not existing alone. Theirs isn’t an isolated experience.”

Warmly acknowledging her longtime editor, Nancy Paulsen, who was in the audience, Woodson explained her revision process. She reads everything aloud to hear characters’ voices, and revises scenes while “having faith [in] the picture I’m trying to paint on the page.” Her own memories and thorough research enable her to craft people and places, she said. “I think of it like a photograph that’s developing, and it becomes more clear [as] I go back into it.”…

(2) THE 84 PERCENT SOLUTION. The Hugo Book Club Blog says “The Word For ‘World’ Isn’t America”. “If the Hugo Award is to be a truly ‘World’ award, American fandom may need to relinquish it … by establishing an American award for American fiction.”

So why is there no national award recognizing the best science fiction published by authors from the United States?

It could be argued that this is a reflection of American exceptionalism or imperialism.

The Hugo Award — when it was established in 1953 — may have billed itself as celebrating the world’s greatest science fiction, but that was for a limited definition of “world.” This was a “world” that extended no further north than Toronto, no further east than London, and no further south or west than Los Angeles. American cultural hegemony was baked into the DNA of the award.

An American national SFF award was not seen as necessary, because the Hugos existed.

To date 84.2 per cent of all winners, and 84.5 per cent of the authors represented in the prose categories (short story, novelette, novella, novel and series) were born in the United States…

(3) NOT PARSELEY. NOT SAGE. NOT THYME. Craig Miller told Facebook readers about a close call at home last night.

About 9:30, roughly an hour and a half ago, headlights suddenly shined blindingly through our living room windows followed by a crash.

A minivan had come hurtling down the street, apparently missed the turn, came up between our two parked cars, over the curb, across the sidewalk, through our garden, and up our front path, finally stopping when it smashed into the cement and metal fences between our house and our neighbors.

I rushed out. The driver kept trying to back up but the car was stuck. The driver and the passenger got out. The driver had a hard time because he was in the middle of our bushes. They took off down the street.

I called the police. They’re still here. Eventually a tow truck will come and they’ll impound the vehicle.

One nice thing: they drove into and got stuck in the midst of a huge rosemary bush. All that friction in the rosemary and the yard smells terrific. One of the cops even said, “Is that rosemary? Smells great.”

(4) HOME AT LAST. Walter Jon Williams shared good news with Facebook readers. And some not-so-good news.

So Kathy’s finally home after 13 days confined to COVID jail in a hotel room on Malta.

She arrived just in time for me to catch a cold, which is definitely not COVID since I’ve tested negative two days in a row.

Timing could have been better. Definitely.

(5) GOLLUM GAME? “The Lord of the Rings: Gollum review – boil it, mash it, stick it in the bin” – a real KTF review in the Guardian.

This game never looked especially promising, and now it’s out, it’s about as riveting as listening to a huddle of ents discuss the finer points of deciduous shedding. It’s a technical disaster, at least on PC, and even when it does work, it feels like an extended forced stealth section from a game where stealth is just one of 50,000 other systems. It’s watery, janky, broken, alternately frustrating and frictionless, completely without tension or pathos, and squanders a great concept….

(7) NICE TRY, BUT NO CIGAR. “Max Will Revert Film Credits to List Directors, Writers After Backlash” reports Variety.

Warner Bros. Discovery’s newly launched Max lumped film directors and writers under a single “creators” heading — a change that prompted a backlash from filmmakers and Hollywood’s directors and writers guilds. Now the company says it is reverting the listings back to how they were presented on HBO Max, blaming the issue on a technical “oversight.”

“We agree that the talent behind the content on Max deserve their work to be properly recognized,” a Max spokesperson said in a statement to Variety. “We will correct the credits, which were altered due to an oversight in the technical transition from HBO Max to Max and we apologize for this mistake.”Max’s move to consolidate writers, directors and other creatives under the single “creators” listing drew ire amid the ongoing Writers Guild of America strike, as the union is seeking to reach a new contract with major studios through the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers….

Meanwhile, if you want to know what movies and TV shows are available on the service, click on “Max – full list of movies and TV shows online” at JustWatch.

(8) TODAY’S DAY. This was news to me, but maybe not to most fans. May 25 is —

Craig Miller, author of Star Wars Memories, says, “I don’t know that I coined it but it’s a term I’ve been using for a number of years.  When people started arguing about whether May 4th or May 25th is Star Wars Day, I started saying — in places like Facebook — that I consider May 25th Orthodox or Old Testament Star Wars Day.  May 21st – the date The Empire Strikes Back debuted – is New Testament Star Wars Day.  And May 4th is New Age Star Wars Day.  It’s people using a popular pun to center around.  It’s apt because, in most countries, Star Wars didn’t debut on May 25th.  Further, I’ve been saying that the period from May 4th and May 25th marks Star Wars Season.  Sort of like the period between Ash Wednesday and Easter is the Lenten Season.

P.S. May 25 is also Towel Day.

(9) MEMORY LANE.

1962[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

Philip K. Dick’s The Man in The High Castle is the source of our Beginning. I know it’s been turned into an Amazon series but y’all know that I never watch any series based off a piece of fiction that I really like and yes, The Man in The High Castle falls into that category.

It was first published by G. P. Putnam’s Sons sixty-one years ago in a hardcover edition which cost three dollars and ninety-five cents. The cover is by Robert Galster. 

I really cannot say anything further as it’d spoil the novel though admittedly the cover does a fairly nice job of doing that I think.

And with that, here’s our Beginning…

FOR A WEEK Mr. R. Childan had been anxiously watching the mail. But the valuable shipment from the Rocky Mountain States had not arrived. As he opened up his store on Friday morning and saw only letters on the floor by the mail slot he thought, I’m going to have an angry customer. 

Pouring himself a cup of instant tea from the five-cent wall dispenser he got a broom and began to sweep; soon he had the front of American Artistic Handcrafts Inc. ready for the day, all spick and span with the cash register full of change, a fresh e svase of marigolds, and the radio playing background music. Outdoors along the sidewalk businessmen hurried toward their offices along Montgomery Street. Far off, a cable car passed; Childan halted to watch it with pleasure. Women in their long colorful silk dresses . . . he watched them, too. Then the phone rang. He turned to answer it.

“Yes,” a familiar voice said to his answer. Childan’s heart sank. “This is Mr. Tagomi. Did my Civil War recruiting poster arrive yet, sir? Please recall; you promised it sometime last week.” The fussy, brisk voice, barely polite, barely keeping the code. “Did I not give you a deposit, sir, Mr. Childan, with that stipulation? This is to be a gift, you see. I explained that. A client.”

“Extensive inquiries,” Childan began, “which I’ve had made at my own expense, Mr. Tagomi, sir, regarding the promised parcel, which you realize originates outside of this region and is therefore—”

“But Tagomi broke in, “Then it has not arrived.”

“No, Mr. Tagomi, sir.” 

An icy pause.

 “I can wait no furthermore,” Tagomi said.”

“A substitute, then. Your recommendation, Mr. Childan?” Tagomi deliberately mispronounced the name; insult within the code that made Childan’s ears burn. Place pulled, the dreadful mortification of their situation. Robert Childan’s aspirations and fears and torments rose up and exposed themselves, swamped him, stopping his tongue. He stammered, his hand sticky on the phone. The air of his store smelled of the marigolds; the music played on, but he felt as if he were falling into some distant sea.

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born May 25, 1808 Edward Bulwer-Lytton. In addition to the opening seven words from Paul Clifford — “It was a dark and stormy night” — he also coined the phrases “the great unwashed”, “pursuit of the almighty dollar” and “the pen is mightier than the sword.” ISFDB credits him with eight genre novels including The Coming Race, Asmodeus at Large and Last Days of Pompeii to name but three. He wrote a lot of short fiction with titles such as “Glenhausen.—The Power of Love in Sanctified Places.— A Portrait of Frederick Barbarossa.—The Ambition of Men Finds Adequate Sympathy in Women”. (Died 1873.)
  • Born May 25, 1913 Carl Wessler. Animator during the Thirties working on “Musical Memories” and other theatrical cartoon shorts for the Fleischer Studios, and a comic book writer from the Forties though the Eighties for including Charlton Comics, DC, EC Comics, Harvey Comics and Marvel. He also worked for editor-in-chief Stan Lee at Marvel’s 1950s forerunner, Atlas Comics. (Died 1989.)
  • Born May 25, 1916 Charles D. Hornig. Publisher of the Fantasy Fan which ran from September ‘33 to February ‘35 and including first publication of works by Bloch, Lovecraft, Smith, Howard and Derleth. It also had a LOC section called ‘The Boiling Point’ which quickly became angry exchanges between several of the magazine’s regular contributors, including Ackerman, Lovecraft and Clark Ashton Smith. He paid for the costs of Fan Fantasy by working as the teenage editor of Gernsback’s Wonder Stories. (Died 1999.)
  • Born May 25, 1935 W. P. Kinsella. I’d say best known for his novel Shoeless Joe which was adapted into the movie Field of Dreams, one of the few films that Kevin Costner is a decent actor in, ironic as the other is Bull Durham. Kinsella’s other genre novel is The Iowa Baseball Confederacy and it’s rather less well known that Shoeless Joe is but is excellent. He also edited Baseball Fantastic, an anthology of just what the title says they are. Given that he’s got eighteen collections of short stories listed on his wiki page, I’m reasonably sure his ISFDB page doesn’t come close to listing all his short stories. (Died 2016.)
  • Born May 25, 1944 Frank Oz, 79. Actor, director including The Dark Crystal, Little Shop of Horrors and the second version of The Stepford Wives, producer and puppeteer. His career began as a puppeteer, where he performed the Muppet characters of Animal, Fozzie Bear, Miss Piggy, and oh so patriotic Sam Eagle in The Muppet Show, and Cookie Monster, Bert, and Grover in Sesame Street. Genre wise, he’s also known for the role of Yoda in the Star Wars franchise until he was removed from that role by The Evil Mouse.
  • Born May 25, 1949 Barry Windsor-Smith, 74. Illustrator and painter, mostly for Marvel Comics. Oh, his work on Conan the Barbarian in the early Seventies was amazing, truly amazing! And then there was the original Weapon X story arc involving Wolverine which still ranks among the best stories told largely because of his artwork. And let’s not forget that he and writer Roy Thomas created Red Sonja partially based on Howard’s characters Red Sonya of Rogatino and Dark Agnes de Chastillon.
  • Born May 25, 1966 Vera Nazarian, 57. To date, she has written ten novels including Dreams of the Compass Rose, what I’d called a mosaic novel structured as a series of interlinked stories similar in tone to The One Thousand and One Nights that reminds me more than a bit of Valente’s The Orphans Tales. She’s the publisher of Norilana Books which publishes such works as Catherynne M. Valente’s Guide to Folktales in Fragile Dialects, Marion Zimmer Bradley’s Sword and Sorceress anthologies,and Tabitha Lee’s Lee’s Sounds and Furies.  She has two Nebula nominations, one for her “The Story of Love” short story and another for her “The Duke in His Castle” novella. 

(11) COMICS SECTION.

  • Non Sequitur says Heaven is hell on editors.
  • Bizarro finds the next phase in AI authors’ evolution.
  • Bizarro shows part of the Darth Vader health regimen.

(12) ALLIGATOR LOKI MAKES A SPLASH IN HIS PRINT COMIC DEBUT. Alyssa Wong and Bob Quinn’s Alligator Loki #1 arrives in September.

After making his debut in Marvel Studios’ Loki on Disney+, the reptilian God of Mischief headlined his very own Infinity Comic series on the Marvel Unlimited app. Now, this iconic and adorable troublemaker will grace the stands of your local comic shop for the very first time in September! An extra-sized one-shot, ALLIGATOR LOKI #1 will collect the entirety of Alyssa Wong and Bob Quinn’s hit Infinity Comic series as well as an all-new adventure from the life of everyone’s favorite swamp-dwelling scamp!

 Bow down to the reptile in a helm who has enraptured the Ten Realms…with his cuteness! First Alligator Loki chomped down on Mjolnir, and then he chomped his way into our hearts. Now, the beloved Alligator of Mischief finds – and makes – trouble all across the Marvel Universe!

 For more information, visit Marvel.com.

(13) LIVES IN COMICS. NBM Graphic Novels debuts two bios about people of genre interest.

After the bankruptcy of his first two companies, the young Walt Disney decides to call on his older brother Roy to start a new business: the Disney Brothers Cartoon Studios. The combination of their opposing talents, one artistic, the other managerial, will give birth to an entertainment giant despite the difficult nature of Walt. Little by little, Walt will push his brother into the shadows and sink into chronic depression and excessive consumption of alcohol … But all this will not prevent him from producing the greatest masterpieces of animation.

The authors have chosen a cartoon style, worthy of Mickey Mouse comics, to tell a very serious story of creation, money and politics, but also… of family.

One of the greatest writers in science fiction history, Philip K. Dick is mostly remembered for such works as Blade Runner, Minority Report and Total Recall. His dark, fascinating work centered on alternate universes and shifting realities in worlds often governed by monopolistic corporations and authoritarian governments.

His own life story seems a tussle with reality, going through five wives and becoming increasingly disjointed with fits of paranoia and hallucinations fueled by abuse of drugs meant to stabilize him. His dramatic story is presented unvarnished in this biography.

(14) OCTOTHORPE. In episode 84 of the Octothorpe podcast, “I Do Not Like to Be Delighted on Every Page”, “John Coxon, Alison Scott, and Liz Batty read A Face Like Glass by Frances Hardinge in what marks the start of the SUMMER OF FUN!”

(15) BETTER LATE THAN NEVER. A lot of you will have seen this news item already, however, it’s still a fun item. “Long story: book returned to California library nearly a century late” in the Guardian.

A history book about the US has been returned to a library in California, almost 100 years overdue. The copy of Benson Lossing’s A History of the United States, published in 1881, was returned to St Helena public library in Napa Valley earlier this month. It had been due back on 21 February 1927.

At the time the book was borrowed, fines for overdue titles were a nickel (five cents) a day, meaning Jim Perry, who had the book, theoretically owed about $1,756 (£1,417). Luckily for him, the library scrapped late fines in 2019.

Perry found the copy in a box of books that belonged to his late wife, Sandra Learned Perry, according to the St Helena Star. He told the newspaper that he was “pretty sure” her grandfather, John McCormick, a descendant of one of St Helena’s oldest pioneer families, was the original borrower of the book.

Perry originally returned A History of the United States to the library’s front desk without leaving his name, but was tracked down after the library appealed for more information about the book’s history.

Library staff suspect the book was one of 540 volumes originally available from the Free Public Library, a predecessor to St Helena Public Library. The book has now been placed in a glass display case at the library’s entrance.

The Guinness World Record for an unreturned and overdue library book is held by a book owned by Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge. The history book, written in German, was borrowed in 1667 or 1668 by Colonel Robert Walpole, the father of Sir Robert Walpole, regarded as the first prime minister of Great Britain.

It was discovered by Prof John Plumb while he was working on a biography of Walpole, and returned to Sidney Sussex on 16 January 1956, at least 287 years overdue….

(16) A DEEP DIVE FOR AN ANSWER: CAN YOU HELP? S. Elizabeth of Unquiet Things tries to unravel “A Mystery That Should Not Exist: Who Is The Cover Artist For This Edition Of A Wrinkle In Time?” The guesses are still pouring in.

Why is it that in this current year of 2023, no one seems to know who the cover artist is for this iconic Dell Laurel-Leaf A Wrinkle in Time cover art?? In a time when we have so much information available to us at our literal fingertips, how could it possibly be that the above marvelously and terrifyingly iconic imagery is perpetually credited to “unknown artist”? Even the Internet Speculative Fiction Database, always an excellent and trusted resource, does not have an answer….

S. Elizabeth follows with all the steps in her investigation so far.

(17) VIDEO OF THE DAY. Barbie comes to theaters July 21.

To live in Barbie Land is to be a perfect being in a perfect place. Unless you have a full-on existential crisis. Or you’re a Ken.

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

Pixel Scroll 5/11/23 This Pixel Scroll Is Bigger On The Inside

(1) TURNING A PAGE IN THE HUGO CALENDAR. Cora Buhlert’s first “Non-Fiction Spotlight” for a 2023 book is about a collection of essays which discusses and reviews every single one of the original Conan stories: Hither Came Conan, edited by Bob Byrne, Bill Ward, Howard Andrew Jones and Jason M. Waltz”.

Tell us about your book.

HITHER CAME CONAN is a compilation of two successful examinations of all of Robert E. Howard’s original Conan the Cimmerian stories (and one story fragment) with about 15 additional essays included. It is also the single most-inclusive repository of REH Conan story data to date. This alone makes this title invaluable; coupled with the almost 60 essays it makes this THE BOOK to shelve alongside your Wandering Star/DelRey Conan trilogy. The majority of essays (and opinions!) come from the Bob Byrne led ‘Hither Came Conan’ series hosted by Black Gate Magazine and the ‘Conan Re-Read’ of Bill Ward and Howard Andrew Jones in conversation on Howard’s blog. Data compiled for each story by Dierk Günther includes tidbits such as the probable age of both Conan and Howard, the location, the major characters, the word count, date and source of first publication, and the first recorded public reaction to be found. HITHER CAME CONAN is a wealth of all the information any reader of Conan could desire.

(2) JOHN MANSFIELD SERVICE ONLINE TOMORROW. Linda Ross-Mansfield has announced the Facebook link for the livestream of the funeral service for Pemmi-Con’s fan guest of honour, John Mansfield. Funeral begins May 12, 2:00 p.m. Central.

Murray Moore adds that at the convention there will be a special display and a memory book for fans who wish to share their memories with the family and others.

(3) BIG CONVENTION. At Galactic Journey, Alison Scott reports about Thirdmancon, the 1968 Eastercon: “[May 8, 1968] A Visit to Thirdmancon, the 1968 British Science Fiction Convention”.

It’s hard to overstate the anticipation I had for Eastercon 1968. It was going to be the largest national convention ever, with over 200 fans expected! In the end I understand that something like 150 people turned up; still the largest British national convention yet….

(4) RETRENCHMENT. Hard to believe there’s something Disney hasn’t figured how to make money from. But that’s their story, and they’re sticking to it: “Disney Pulling Some Content Off Streaming In Strategic Rethink” at Deadline.

… Pulling content off the service goes hand in hand with making less of it, or, as CEO Bob Iger put it on the call, “getting much more surgical about what we make.”

He said the company has spent a lot of time and money producing and marketing content that didn’t move the needle in terms of subscribers.

“When you make a lot of content, everything needs to be marketed. You’re spending a lot of money marketing things that are not going to have an impact on the bottom line, except negatively due to the marketing costs.”

Iger gave a shout-out to theatrical films, especially tentpoles, as great sub drivers. “But we were spreading our marketing costs so thin that we were not allocating enough money to even market them when they came onto the service. Coming up, Avatar, Little Mermaid, Guardians of the Galaxy, Elemental etc.. where we actualy believe we have an opportunity to lean into those more, put the right marketing dollars against it, allocate more basicaly away from programming that was not driving any subs at all.”

He called it “part of the maturation process as we grow into a business that we had never been in. We are learning a lot more about it. Specifically, we are learning a lot more about how our content behaves on the service and what customers want.”

(5) MAKING A COMEBACK. “Borges on Turning Trauma, Misfortune, and Humiliation into Raw Material for Art” in the Marginalian.

“Forget your personal tragedy,” Ernest Hemingway exhorted his dear friend F. Scott Fitzgerald in a tough-love letter of advice“Good writers always come back. Always.” It is an insight as true of writers as it is of all artists and of human beings in general, as true of personal tragedy as it is of collective tragedy — something Toni Morrison articulated in her mobilizing manifesto for the writer’s task in troubled times: “There is no time for despair, no place for self-pity, no need for silence, no room for fear. We speak, we write, we do language. That is how civilizations heal.”

That is what Jorge Luis Borges (August 24, 1899–June 14, 1986) — born the same year as Hemingway, writing two decades before Morrison — conveys with uncommon splendor of sentiment in Twenty-Four Conversations with Borges: Including a Selection of Poems (public library) — the record of his dialogues with the Argentine journalist and poet Roberto Alifano, conducted in the final years of Borges’s life, by which point he had been blind for almost thirty years.

(6) EIGHTEENTH CENTURY TO THE RESCUE. “Sailing boat rescued by the Götheborg” – article and photo gallery on the Götheborg of Sweden blog.

…Imagine losing your rudder out at sea and sending out a distress call. And then the largest ocean-going wooden sailing ship in the world comes to your rescue. Or in the words of the sailors on the sailing boat: “This moment was very strange, and we wondered if we were dreaming. Where were we? What time period was it?”

You can see many more photos of the big ship on the Götheborg’s Instagram account.  

(7) MEMORY LANE.

2012[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

Paul Cornell’s “The Copenhagen Interpretation” was published first in Asimov’s in their July 2011 issue. It was nominated for the Best Novelette Hugo at Chicon 7, and also for the Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award. 

You know that I don’t do spoilers, so I won’t do any for this extraordinary well-written story. Annoyingly, while doing research found a number of descriptions of “The Copenhagen Interpretation” that gave everything away. Idiots.

And for the Beginning…

The best time to see Kastellet is in the evening, when the ancient fortifications are alight with glow worms, a landmark for anyone gazing down on the city as they arrive by carriage. Here stands one of Copenhagen’s great parks, its defence complexes, including the home of the Forsvarets Efterretningstjeneste, and a single windmill, decorative rather than functional. The wind comes in hard over the Langeline, and after the sun goes down, the skeleton of the whale that’s been grown into the ground resonates in sympathy and gives out a howl that can be heard in Sweden. 

Hamilton had arrived on the diplomatic carriage, without papers, and, as etiquette demanded, without weapons or folds, thoroughly out of uniform. He watched the carriage heave itself up into the darkening sky above the park, and bank off to the southwest, swaying in the wind, sliding up the fold it made under its running boards. He was certain every detail was being registered by the FLV. You don’t look into the diplomatic bag, but you damn well know where the bag goes. He left the park through the healed bronze gates and headed down a flight of steps towards the diplomatic quarter, thinking of nothing. He did that when there were urgent questions he couldn’t answer, rather than run them round and round in his head and let them wear away at him.

The streets of Copenhagen. Ladies and gentlemen stepping from carriages, the occasional tricolour of feathers on a hat or, worse, once, tartan over a shoulder. Hamilton found himself reacting, furious. But then he saw it was Campbell. The wearer, a youth in evening wear, was the sort of fool who heard an accent in a bar and took up anything apparently forbidden, in impotent protest against the world. And thus got fleeced by Scotsmen. 

He was annoyed at his anger. He had failed to contain himself. 

He walked past the façade of the British embassy, with the Hanoverian regiment on guard, turned a corner and waited in one of those convenient dark streets that form the second map of diplomatic quarters everywhere in the world. After a moment, a door with no external fittings swung open and someone ushered him inside and took his coat.

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born May 11, 1920 Denver Pyle. His first genre performance is in The Flying Saucer way back in 1950 where he was a character named Turner. Escape to Witch Mountain as Uncle Bené is his best known genre role. He’s also showed up on the Fifties Adventures of SupermanCommando Cody: Sky Marshal of the UniverseMen Into  SpaceTwilight Zone and his final role was apparently in How Bugs Bunny Won the West as the Narrator. (Died 1997.)
  • Born May 11, 1918 Richard Feynman. Ok, not genre as such but certainly genre adjacent. I wholeheartedly recommend Genius: The Life and Science of Richard Feynman by James Gleick for an entertaining look at his life. (Died 1988.)
  • Born May 11, 1935 Doug McClure. He had the doubtful honor of appearing some of the worst Seventies  SF films done (my opinion of course and you’re welcome to challenge that), to wit The Land That Time ForgotThe People That Time ForgotWarlords of the Deep and even Humanoids From The Deep. Genre wise, he also appeared in one-offs in The Twilight ZoneOut of This WorldAirWolfAlfred Hitchcock PresentsFantasy Island and Manimal. Some of which were far better. (Died 1995.)
  • Born May 11, 1952 Shohreh Aghdashloo, 71. Best known genre role is Chrisjen Avasarala on The Expanse series. (I’ve not seen it, but have listened to all of The Expanse series.) She also had a recurring role as Farah Madani on The Punisher. She was also in X-Men: The Last Stand as Dr. Kavita Rao, but her role as The Chairman in The Adjustment Bureau didn’t make it to the final version. She was Commodore Paris in Star Trek Beyond, and she had a recurring role as Nhadra Udaya in FlashForward
  • Born May 11, 1952 Frances Fisher, 71. Angie on Strange Luck and a recurring role as Eva Thorne on Eureka. Have I mentioned how I love the latter series? Well I do! She’s also shown up on MediumX-Files, Outer LimitsResurrectionThe Expanse and has some role in the forthcoming Watchmen series. 
  • Born May 11, 1976 Alter S. Reiss, 47. He’s a scientific editor and field archaeologist. He lives in Jerusalem, he’s written two novels, Sunset Mantel and Recalled to Service. He’s also written an impressive amount of short fiction in the past ten years.

(9) COMICS SECTION.

(10) BREAKING THINGS THAT WORK. Today, via a comment on Seanan McGuire’s discussion of Patreon (thread starts here), I learned about the Trust Thermocline. John Bull’s thread starts here.

(11)  DO YOUR PULP HOMEWORK HERE. The Popular Culture Association’s Pulp Studies area now has a website with links and resources: “Pulp Studies”.

What is a “Pulp”?

Pulp magazines were a series of mostly English-language, predominantly American, magazines printed on rough pulp paper.  They were often illustrated with highly stylized, full-page cover art and numerous line art illustrations of the fictional content.  They were sold for modest sums,  and were targeted at (sometimes specialized) readerships of popular literature, such as western and adventure, detective, fantastic (including the evolving genres of science fiction, fantasy, and horror), romance and sports fiction. The first pulp Argosy, began life as the children’s magazine The Golden Argosy, dated Dec 2, 1882 and the last of the “original” pulps was Ranch Romances and Adventures, Nov 1971.

(12) THE SOURCES OF HORROR. At CrimeReads, Nicholas Binge explains “What Teaching Shakespeare Taught Me About Writing Horror”.

…On the surface, no play epitomizes this more than his first tragedy, the grisly Titus Andronicus. It is the Saw franchise of Elizabethan theatre, filled with as much shock and gore as Shakespeare could possibly have packed into a single play. As well as a full complement of stabbings, hangings, and beheadings, the audience is treated to Aaron being buried up to his neck until he starves to death, seeing Lavinia’s hands removed and tongue cut out, watching on as Alarbus’s arms and legs are cut off and he is thrown into a fire, and finally, Shakespeare delivers the coup-de-grace as Chiron and Demetrius are baked into a pie and then fed to their mother. Let it not be said that gore is a new thing in popular entertainment.

And yet, for all these horrors, this play never quite captures an audience (or a classroom) like some of his later, less graphic, tragedies. Why is that? Seen through the lens of a horror writer, Shakespeare’s progression as an artist is not just in his ability to play with structure, form, and character, but rather that he gains a deeper understanding of how to really scare people. As he grew as a writer, he learned there are better ways to emotionally wound an audience than the surface kills and thrills, and it’s this that ends up really defining him as a playwright….

(13) THE TOWER OF BALLARD. Also at CrimeReads, Andrew F. Sullivan revisits High-Rise by J.G. Ballard: “If You Build It, They Will Profit: Reflecting on J. G. Ballard’s High-Rise 48 Years Later”.

J. G. Ballard’s modern fable High-Rise is almost fifty years old. In the past few decades, its potency has come closer to resembling prophecy, yet Ballard’s obsession with affluence and self-isolating communities isn’t limited to this novel alone. Novels like Super-Cannes, Concrete Island, and Cocaine Nights all invoke similar themes of alienation, isolation, and unrestrained affluence from the depths of his back catalogue, the rich coiling tightly around one another to block out the pressing realities of the wider, poorer world. Yet High-Rise remains a singular invocation, summoning a sturdy mental image with ease, a fraught zoo, a series of stacked cages, a social order imprinted on the quivering skyline in concrete—a book that has shaped its legacy at times with just a title and a stark image on the cover.

(14) DOUR TOWER. The New York Post is quite right about this! “New Brooklyn Tower divides NYC with its ‘evil’ ‘Sauron’ vibes”.

(15) FAILURE MODE. A Nature editorial says, “Space companies should not lose heart when things go wrong. The first Moon missions failed repeatedly — and provided lessons on how to achieve success in space and beyond.” “In space, failure is an option — often the only one”

 “Failure is not an option,” NASA’s legendary flight-operations director Gene Kranz is said to have remarked, as seen in the 1995 film Apollo 13. Actor Ed Harris portrayed Kranz as he guided his team to save a spacecraft that had run into trouble on the way to the Moon. In the movie, as in real life, the three astronauts on the Apollo 13 mission pulled off a spectacular fix and returned safely to Earth.

Not all space ventures have such a tidy ending. A 2019 attempt by Israeli company SpaceIL to land on the Moon crashed. On 20 April this year, a spectacular intentional detonation ended the first major test flight of Starship, the world’s largest rocket, which SpaceX in Hawthorne, California, is building to carry humans back to the Moon and to Mars. The craft had spun out of control four minutes after lifting off its launch pad in Texas. Five days later, a robotic mission from the Japanese company ispace, based in Tokyo, tried and failed to land safely on the Moon

“…The scientists and engineers involved should not be discouraged by these failures. Space is hard. This is a truism trotted out every time there’s an attempt to launch from this planet or land on another. But it is accurate. Those who wish to explore the cosmos should expect to fail — perhaps many times — before they can succeed.”

(16) OCTOTHORPE. In episode 83 of the Octothorpe podcast, John Coxon would like more drawers, Alison Scott uses the floor, and Liz Batty is okay with shelves. They also discuss fan funds briefly, and the 2023 Eastercon (Conversation) at some length. Listen here: “Efffffffff”.

(17) ZELDA KEEPS ROLLING ALONG. EV Grieve has photos of “‘The Legend of Zelda,’ bus edition”. See them at the link.

Nintendo Switch gamers may be excited to see this promo bus for “The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom,” the highly anticipated sequel to 2017’s “Breath of the Wild” parked on First Avenue by 12th Street… 

(18) VIDEO OF THE DAY. “Doctor Who drops brand new teaser as fans decode clues” reports Radio Times.

…This appears to confirm that we’ll get another full trailer for the trilogy of specials at some point during the Eurovision Song Contest, as had previously been rumoured….

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

Pixel Scroll 4/27/23 Only The True Pixel Denies His Divinity

(1) BOASE AWARD. The UK’s Branford Boase Award honors debut efforts in children’s books and the editors as well as authors behind them. There are three works on The Branford Boase Award 2023 Shortlist of genre interest:

The other shortlisted works are:

  • The Bones of Me by Kel Duckhouse, edited by Harriet Birkinshaw, Flying Eye Books YA
  • Seed by Caryl Lewis, edited by Sarah Hughes, illustrated by George Ermos, Macmillan Children’s Books 7+
  • The Cats We Meet Along the Way, Nadia Mikail, edited by Bella Pearson, Guppy Books YA
  • Ellie Pillai is BrownChristine Pillainayagam, edited by Leah Thaxton, Faber 13+
  • The Map of Leaves, Yarrow Townsend, edited by Rachel Leyshon, Chicken House 10+

(2) SMALL PRESS WINS AWARD WITH GENRE BOOK. “Dead Ink wins Republic of Consciousness prize with Missouri Williams’s ‘astonishing’ debut” in the Guardian.

…First awarded in 2017, the Republic of Consciousness prize is given to the best literary novel published by a small press in the UK and Ireland with fewer than five employees. Over the past seven years the prize has awarded almost £100,000 to more than 25 small presses and writers….

Dead Ink Books has won the Republic of Consciousness prize for small presses for Missouri Williams’s “astonishing” debut novel The Doloriad. Yet while Dead Ink and Williams will get the prestige of winning, the entire shortlist will receive the same reward. Each of the five books wins £1,000, split 70:30 between publisher and author, on top of the £300 awarded to the 10 longlisted titles, which was paid to the presses only.

Prague-based Williams’s novel is set in the imagined wake of a mysterious disaster that has wiped out most of humanity. One family, descended from incest, remains, ruled by a merciless woman known only as the Matriarch. When the Matriarch believes there might be more survivors she sends one of her daughters, the legless Dolores, as a marriage offering….

(3) HOW LONG? Author Hana Lee built a tool designed to calculate how many copies an author must sell to earn out an advance. [Via Publishers Weekly.]

“Earning out” means that the amount you’ve “earned” in royalties from copies sold (across all formats) equals or exceeds your advance payment.

(4) CON OR BUST AUCTION RETURNS. Dream Foundry’s Con or Bust program makes direct cash grants to creators or fans of color to assist with travel, food, registration, and other expenses associated with attending industry events. They are bringing back The Con or Bust Auction to raise money for their grants and are looking for donors for items of interest to potential auction buyers. “Think special experiences (like author Q&As), art, limited and/or special edition copies of books, ARCs for anticipated releases, etc.”

They want to have donations in by the end of June for inclusion this year. See full information on the program and how to contact them about donations here. Dream Foundry is a recognized non-profit and any donations given to us are tax deductible.

(5) ELLIOTT Q&A. Paul Weimer asks the questions in “Interview: Kate Elliott, author of Furious Heaven at Nerds of a Feather.

Furious Heaven, being a sequel to Unconquerable Sun, is a middle book in a series. How has the writing of this been the same, and different than other series that you have done? 

My goal with each of the three books of this trilogy has been, and continues to be, to shape each individual volume as if it is a standalone. Unconquerable Sun completes several of its major plot threads and, I believe, ends at a satisfying point. If I’ve done my job right, the reader will feel they’ve read a complete story and ALSO wish to read more.

Middle volumes are peculiarly hard. It’s important, in my opinion, to avoid “adding more beads onto the string” — that is, just to add more incident without complicating or expanding on the original elements of the story. A middle volume can add layers, unexpected twists and outcomes; it can deepen the characters and guide the reader into new landscapes and unknown dangers only hinted at in book one. That’s how I worked with (for example) Shadow Gate (Crossroads), Cold Fire (Spiritwalker), and Poisoned Blade (Court of Fives), which are all second volumes in trilogies that make the story bigger and show the reader new places and new conflicts.

With Furious Heaven I specifically wanted to do my best to make the story readable by someone who hadn’t read book one, while also having it build on what had come before…. 

(6) DUNE 2 PREVIEW. “’Dune: Part Two’—An Exclusive First Look at the Saga’s Epic Conclusion”Vanity Fair offers descriptions and photos, but no video.

If you want to know where Dune: Part Two will begin, just look to the ending of the 2021 original. Director Denis Villeneuve wants to make it clear that his new movie, set for release November 3, is not so much another film as a continuation of the first. “It’s important—it’s not a sequel, it’s a second part. There’s a difference,” Villeneuve tells Vanity Fair for this exclusive first look. “I wanted the movie to really open just where we left the characters. There’s no time jump. I wanted dramatic continuity with part one.”…

….Although the first part of Dune became one of the first post-pandemic blockbusters and was nominated for 10 Oscars, winning six, the filmmaker himself still fixates on what he feels he could have done better. “You have to accept your failures as an artist,” he says. “It’s a task that was almost impossible, for me to be absolutely faithful to what those childhood dreams were. But what brings a lot of peace in my heart is that I brought a lot of them to the screen, a lot of them are close to what I had imagined.”

For now, Villeneuve is keeping his head down, staying focused on his work. “I’m deep into sound design and the visual effects, and it’s a race against time,” he says. Even discussing the film for this story was taxing for him. “I’ll be very blunt, okay?” he says with a smile, deploying the most Canadian analogy imaginable. “It’s very difficult for me to start to talk about a movie when I’m doing it. It’s like asking a hockey player to describe how he will score as he is skating toward the net.” 

Meanwhile, The Onion is skeptical: “’Dune: Part Two’ To Pick Up Right Where Viewers Fell Asleep During First One”.

(7) URSA MAJOR AWARDS. The group that runs the Ursa Major Awards for anthropomorphic works is asking for financial support. Contact them at the Ursa Major Awards website.

(8) MEMORY LANE.

2003[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

One of my very favorite authors is Emma Bull (she and Will are on the chocolate gifting list) and Finder: A Novel of The Borderland is a novel that I’ve read at least a half dozen times to date.

Without stating any spoilers, I think it’s safe to say that Emma created truly believable characters, from the primary ones to the ones that just exist to enhance out the story, the setting of the city itself, and a story that makes the most of the setting that Bull has fleshed out from what Terri Windling created originally in this series.

The novel is available readily for quite reasonable prices in various editions, print and digital. 

And here’s the Beginning straight from the Border…

“My father he rides with your sheriffs

And I know he would never mean harm…

— Richard Thompson, “Genesis Hall”

 Chapter 1. Falling Out of Paradise

I remember where I was and what I was doing when Bonnie Prince Charlie was killed. Not that I knew it at the time, of course. But while Charlie was traveling the distance from the Pigeon Cloisters belfry to High Street with all the dispatch that gravity can muster, I was sunbathing.

If the weather had held, I’d have been on the roof of my building the next day, too, spread out like a drying sweater. But it promised rain. (If the forecast had been different, would the past be, too? Would a lot of people still be here? This town is strange and has weather to match, but I never imagined it was a matter of life and death.)

So when Tick-Tick pounded on the frame of my open front door, I was in and washing dishes. She poked her head in and shouted, “I am the queen’s daughter, I come from Twelfth and Flynn, in search of Young Orient, pray God I find him!”

I lifted my hands dripping from the suds, took the herbal cigarette out of the corner of my mouth, and said, “Excuse me?”

“Well, in a manner of speaking,” said the Ticker placidly. She stalked in, the picture of elven self-possession, and picked a saucer out of the dishpan with thumb and forefinger. “Mab’s grace. So low as you’ve fallen, my precious boy.”

“I’m out of cups. Nothing else would have driven me to it.” The water had killed my cigarette. I sighed and flicked it out the window.

She dropped into my upholstered chair and swung her long legs over the arm. Her concession to summer’s heat, I noticed, was to tear the sleeves off her favorite pair of gray mechanic’s coveralls and roll the legs up to mid-calf. And still she did look rather like a queen’s daughter; but the elves usually look like royalty. When they’re trying not to, they only look like royalty in a cheap plastic disguise. Tick-Tick had a face like the bust of Nefertiti, only more daunting, and her eyes were huge and long and the gray of January ice.

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born April 27, 1899 Walter Lantz. Cartoonist, animator, producer and director who founded Walter Lantz Productions. He created the Woody Woodpecker and Chilly Willy characters among others. He received an Academy Award “for bringing joy and laughter to every part of the world through his unique animated motion pictures”. (Died 1994.)
  • Born April 27, 1901 Frank Belknap Long. John Hertz says that Long should be singled out for the “To Follow Knowledge” novelette which he lovingly discuses here.  I only add that Long received the World Fantasy Award for Life Achievement. (Died 1994.)
  • Born April 27, 1920 Doris Baumgardt.Well-known and loved fan, illustrator and writer. She was a member of the Futurians, and a founding member of FAPA. She was also a member of the CPASF and the Science Fictioneers. She was one of five members of the Futurians allowed into the first World Science Fiction Convention by Sam Moskowitz — the other four were Isaac Asimov, David Kyle, Jack Robinson and Richard Wilson. She wrote three pieces of short fiction that were published in the Forties and Fifties; she contributed artwork to fanzines. (JJ) (Died 1970.)
  • Born April 27, 1958 Caroline Spector, 65. She was an Associate Editor at Amazing Stories for several years, but her main genre connection is her fiction in George R. R. Martin’s Wild Cards series where she has seven stories. She also a Shadowrun novel, Worlds Without End. (Now that was an interesting RPG!) she also has an essay, “Power and Feminism in Westeros” in James Lowder’s Beyond the Wall: Exploring George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire, From A “Game of Thrones” to “A Dance with Dragons
  • Born April 27, 1962 Rachel Caine. She had two ongoing endeavors, the Weather Warden series which is most excellent and the superb Great Library series. I can’t speak to the Morganville Vampires series as I don’t do vampires really. And yes, I know she’s got a number of other series, far more than can detailed be here. (Died 2020.)
  • Born April 27, 1963 Russell T. Davies, 60. Responsible for the 2005 revival on BBC One of Doctor Who. (A Whovian since the very beginning, he thinks “The Talons of Weng-Chiang” has the best dialogue in the entire series, an opinion I concur with.) Of course he’s also responsible for Torchwood and The Sarah Jane Adventures as well. (Need I note that the The Five(ish) Doctors Reboot was his idea?) Davies returned as the showrunner in October 2022 after the departure of Chris Chibnall; the first episodes of his second tenure will be the show’s sixtieth anniversary specials in 2023.
  • Born April 27, 1986 Catherine Webb, 37. She’s writes under a number of names but I only know her under her Kate Griffin name where she wrote the extraordinary London set Matthew Swift series which one of the best urban fantasy series I ever read. I’ve not read any of her fiction written as Claire North which is major other name, so if you have, do tell me how it is. As North, her book The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August won the Clarke Award and Campbell Memorial Award, and The Sudden Appearance of Hope won a World Fantasy Award. Now go read the Matthew Swift series! 

(10) JOBS MAGNET. “As New York Boosts Tax Breaks for Movies, Some Critics Pan the Program” reports the New York Times.

 Four years ago, Amazon pulled the plug on its plans to build a headquarters in New York City, amid left-wing outrage over a $3 billion public subsidy package. But New York has hardly cut the company off: Amazon’s film and TV arm has received more than $108 million in state tax credits since then, and the left has raised nary a peep.

The handout is part of a state program that provides hundreds of millions of dollars each year in tax incentives to producers across the film and television industry, including Amazon — helping fuel a rapid expansion of studios in Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx and Westchester County.

Now, Gov. Kathy Hochul is pushing to expand the program by nearly 70 percent, using the proposed state budget to shower as much as $7.7 billion in tax credits on the industry over the next 11 years. As it now stands, the subsidy is the most generous of any offered by the state, according to an analysis by Reinvent Albany, a watchdog group.

The proposed expansion to $700 million a year from $420 million has drawn stern rebukes from a range of critics who argue the decades-old program has consistently been a bad deal for taxpayers. But its likely success shows what is possible when powerful political and economic forces align in Albany, and states are increasingly pitted against each other for prestige jobs.

Ms. Hochul’s team is most concerned about neighboring New Jersey, which, along with Georgia and Canada, offers its own buffet of sweeteners that threatens to siphon film projects from New York.

(11) WWII RESISTANCE WORK. “Colorful Stories for Children, With the Darkest History as Backdrop” in the New York Times.  Includes many pictures from the books.  

During World War II, a clutch of whimsical children’s books were published in the Netherlands under a pen name, El Pintor. One book shows children flying on the backs of sparrows. In another, they float, attached to balloons. There is a pop-up book with people and animals nestled in trees and an activity book with paper cutouts.

The books sold thousands of copies, and were popular not only in the Netherlands, which was invaded and occupied by Nazi Germany in 1940, but in Germany as well.

The books did more than entertain children during the grim days of war. Behind the pseudonym El Pintor was a Jewish couple, Galinka Ehrenfest and Jacob Kloot. They used the name El Pintor to obscure their heritage, and funneled the proceeds from their picture books to fund Dutch resistance efforts and to help Jews who were hiding from the Nazi regime.

They did so at great risk, said Linda Horn, who wrote a book published in the Netherlands about Ehrenfest’s life.

“Secrecy was very important, people couldn’t write down what they were doing,” said Horn of those who worked in the Dutch resistance. “There are barely any sources.”…

(12) TODAY’S DAY. It’s World Hyena Day today. Which is important if you’re into furry fiction.

(13) HISTORY-MAKING AMATEUR FILM CLUB. [Item by Ahrvid Enghom.] UK fan Jim Walker suddenly appears in the new documentary “A Bunch of Amateurs” (eg 37h30m in, but also later and in the credits), a film about the world’s perhaps oldest amateur film club, the Bradford Movie Makers founded in 1932.

Available here for UK viewers  (Geo-blocking may be overcome by VPN or something, if you know how.) I’ve seen the film, which has been on our local SVT.

(See also e.g. “Bradford-Based Feature Documentary A Bunch Of Amateurs”) — Bradford Movie Makers. They seem to have done some skiffy flicks among their 300 productions over 90 years, e.g. a Superman parody which is shown in this documentary.

Jim Walker

(14) OCTOTHORPE. In episode 82 of Octothorpe, “Metatextual Dinosaurs”

John Coxon, Alison Scott and Liz Batty talk about their Hugo Award nominations. You have about four days to vote, so get your skates on! Read and watch everything we recommend! Do it now!

(15) APEX ACQUIRES KEENE BOOK. Apex Book Company has acquired first North America English trade paperback rights to the novel Island Of The Dead by Brian Keene in a deal brokered by the author.

Island Of The Dead is a horror/sword and sorcery novel in which an enslaved barbarian plots his escape from a war galley transporting soldiers and a mysterious biological weapon. But when a storm at sea leaves them shipwrecked on a mysterious island, friend and foe alike must band together against a ravenous, steadily growing horde of the undead.

Through Apex Books, Keene has written the Lost Level series of dark fantasy novels and co-authored the Rogan Chronicles series with Steven Shrewsbury.

Brian Keene is the author of over fifty books, mostly in the horror, crime, fantasy, and non-fiction genres. His 2003 novel, The Rising, is credited (along with Robert Kirkman’s The Walking Dead comic and Danny Boyle’s 28 Days Later film) with inspiring pop culture’s recurrent interest in zombies.

(16) STALKER. “A Russian ‘inspector’ satellite appears to be chasing a secret US military satellite in a game of cat and mouse” – see photos at MSN.com.

mysterious Russian satellite and a confidential US military satellite appear to be engaged in a cat-and-mouse chase through space.

The Russian spacecraft, called Kosmos-2558, was launched into the same orbital plane as the US satellite, called USA-326, in August 2022 and has regularly passed close to the American spacecraft ever since.

The behavior of Kosmos-2558, and the lack of a formal explanation from Russia, has led space observers to believe that the probe is stalking USA-326. It’s at least the third satellite Russia has launched that appears to be an “inspector” — a spacecraft aiming to gather up-close data on another satellite….

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

Pixel Scroll 4/13/23 Scrolling To Filezantium

(1) INFLUENCERS. TIME Magazine today posted “TIME100: The Most Influential People of 2023”. Listed actors, icons, and titans with genre connections include Ke Huy Quan, Pedro Pascal, Salman Rushdie, Angela Bassett, Bob Iger. And writer Neil Gaiman, whose tribute was written by actor James McAvoy:

What I admire most about Neil Gaiman is his belief in the necessity of storytelling: it’s something we need on a DNA level.

I first read a book by Neil when I was 14 years old. It was Good Omens, his brilliant 1990 collaboration with Terry Pratchett. Two decades later, I got the opportunity to star in the 2013 BBC radio adaptation of Neverwhere. I remember feeling so excited that I was being inducted into his sphere of influence—one that has only grown. It’s fantastic to see Neil’s work gain new fans, most recently with the Netflix adaptation of his award-winning comic-book series The Sandman.

Neil’s point of entry into the storytelling realm is darkly fantastical and occultish. The way he writes makes you feel like you’re being let in on a massive secret. His worlds are hidden, shrouded in mystery, yet they’re never that far removed from ours. They’re always just barely within your peripheral vision—under the street or in a dark building or at the end of a lane. He brings dreamscapes to life.

(2) PITCH: A CROSS BETWEEN SURVIVOR AND THE MARTIAN. Plus Shat! “Fox Orders ‘Stars on Mars’ Reality Show With William Shatner” reports Variety.

Fox has ordered the reality series “Stars on Mars,” a new celebrity unscripted series featuring “Star Trek” star William Shatner in a host-like role. The series, set to air this summer, will follow stars as they are suited up to live in a colony set up to simulate what it might be like to be an astronaut on Mars.

“Stars on Mars” premieres on Monday, June 5, at 8 p.m. on Fox. The show comes from Fremantle’s Eureka Productions. The idea centers on the celebrity contestants competing in the Mars-like surroundings until there is just one “celebronaut” left standing. Shatner will deliver tasks to the celebs as “Mission Control.”

… Shatner, in a quippy quote, added: “Thanks to lower gravity on Mars, you’ll weigh 62% less. Bad news: the air is unbreathable, so if you’re from LA, it’ll remind you of home.”

The show will open with the celebrities living together as they “live, eat, sleep, strategize, and bond with each other in the same space station,” according to the network.

Here’s more from the show description: “During their stay, they will be faced with authentic conditions that simulate life on Mars, and they must use their brains and brawn – or maybe just their stellar social skills – to outlast the competition and claim the title of brightest star in the galaxy. The celebrities will compete in missions and will vote to eliminate one of their crewmates each week, sending them back to Earth. Cue the intergalactic alliances and rivalries. ‘Stars on Mars’ will send these famous rookie space travelers where no one has gone before and reveal who has what it takes to survive life on ‘Mars.’”…

(3) IS THIS THE CRÈME DE LA CRÈME? Earlier this week the LA Times rolled out The Ultimate L.A. Bookshelf, devoting one of the shelves to 13 works of Speculative Fiction.

For our Ultimate L.A. Bookshelf, we asked writers with deep ties to the city to name their favorite Los Angeles books across eight categories or genres. Based on 95 responses, here are the 13 most essential works of speculative fiction, from Octavia Butler, Philip K. Dick, Aldous Huxley, Salvador Plascencia and many more….

Although these are all books, since two of them are collections of short fiction – Dangerous Visions (1967) and Speculative Los Angeles (2021) – it seems to me there should have been a way to get quintessential LA stories like Heinlein’s “And He Built A Crooked House”, and Niven’s “Inconstant Moon” into the mix. I’ll leave aside Bradbury’s “The Pedestrian” which doesn’t actually say what city it takes place in, though no one has ever had any doubt…

(4) CLI-FI CONTEST. Imagine 2200: Climate Fiction for Future Ancestors submissions will be accepted up to the June 13 deadline.

Imagine 2200 challenges entrants to write stories that help envision the next 180 years of climate progress. Whether built on abundance or adaptation, reform or a new understanding of survival, the contest celebrates stories that provide flickers of hope, even joy, and serve as a springboard for exploring how fiction can help create a better reality.

Stories will be judged by a panel of literary experts, including acclaimed authors Paolo Bacigalupi, Nalo Hopkinson, and Sam J. Miller. 

The winning writer will be awarded $3,000, with the second- and third-place winners receiving $2,000 and $1,000, respectively. Nine additional finalists will each receive $300. All winners and finalists’ stories will be published in an immersive collection on Grist’s website. 

Read more and find out how to submit a story here.

(5) FAN HISTORY ZOOM. Fanac.org’s program on “Researching (& Saving) Fan History” with Rob Hansen, Andy Hooper, Mark Olson and Joe Siclari can be viewed online April 22, 2023 beginning at 4 pm EDT, 1 pm PDT, 9 pm BST London, 6 am Sunday in Melbourne, AU. See the details in the poster. To get a link to the program, write to [email protected].

Past sessions are all available on Fanac.org’s YouTube channel

(6) NPR LEAVES TWITTER. AP News reported on April 12“NPR quits Elon Musk’s Twitter over ‘government-funded’ label”. They obviously meant it – NPR usually tweets prolifically every day, but there were no new tweets from NPR today, April 13.

National Public Radio is quitting Twitter after the social media platform owned by Elon Musk stamped NPR’s account with labels the news organization says are intended to undermine its credibility.

Twitter labeled NPR’s main account last week as “state-affiliated media, ” a term also used to identify media outlets controlled or heavily influenced by authoritarian governments, such as Russia and China. Twitter later changed the label to “government-funded media,” but to NPR — which relies on the government for a tiny fraction of its funding — it’s still misleading.

NPR said in a statement Wednesday that it “will no longer be active on Twitter because the platform is taking actions that undermine our credibility by falsely implying that we are not editorially independent.”…

(7) GATEWAY TO ORSON WELLES. [Item by Steve Vertlieb.] Celebrating the genius of this extraordinary artist with my published look at the turbulent life and career of Orson Welles, the fabulous, visionary film maker whose personal demons sadly overshadowed his staggering talent, and finally, tragically destroyed him.

Yet, in spite of his personal failings or, perhaps, because of them, Welles rose to become one of the most remarkable film makers of his, or any other generation.

From his groundbreaking first feature length motion picture Citizen Kane, regarded by many still as the greatest single film in motion picture history, to Touch Of Evil, his remarkable “Cinema Noir” tale of a squandered life and legacy corrupted by bribery and temptation, Welles remains one of the most extraordinary directors in the history of film.

His is a story of unwitting sabotaged achievement and haunting, incomparable genius.

Here, then, is “Xanadu: A Castle in the Clouds: The Life of Orson Welles” at The Thunderchild.

(8) OCTOTHORPE. Episode 81 of the Octothorpe podcast, “It Wasn’t an Interjection From the Room, It Was My Face”, is available.

Alison, Liz, John and Alison are live from Conversation! We talk about the convention, in a rather more haphazard way than normal. Art by the amazing Sue Mason.

(9) MORE WRITERS’ RESPONSES TO AI. The SFWA Blog has updated its webpage and now has over 50 SFWA members’ writing and thoughts on artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) applications and considerations. “SFWA Members Weigh in on AI & Machine Learning Applications & Considerations”. In case you looked at the original version, the additions are designated “NEW” to make them easy to find.

SFWA also focused attention on a video is now available from the AI/ML Media Advocacy Summit, a free online event last month that brought together experts and creators to discuss the creative community’s response to AI/ML media generators. SFWA Vice President John Murphy served as a panelist for the writers’ forum, along with moderator Donna Comeaux, Ed Hasbrouck of the National Writers Union, and Mary Rasenberger of the Authors Guild.

With our discipline specific panels we will be talking to a variety of individuals from across the creative industries including visual artists, voice actors, musicians, animators, photographers and writers on the different types of AI media generators and the unique challenges they pose.

(10) VIRGINIA NORWOOD (1927-2023). Physicist and inventor Virginia Norwood, who devised the scanner that has been used to map and study the earth from space for more than 50 years, died March 27. The New York Times obituary detailed the unexpected triumph of her contribution to the first Landsat.

…In the late 1960s, after NASA’s lunar missions sent back spectacular pictures of Earth, the director of the Geological Survey thought that photographs of the planet from space could help the agency manage land resources. The agency would partner with NASA, which would send satellites into space to take the pictures.

Ms. Norwood, who was part of an advanced design group in the space and communications division at Hughes, canvassed scientists who specialized in agriculture, meteorology, pollution and geology. She concluded that a scanner that recorded multiple spectra of light and energy, like one that had been used for local agricultural observations, could be modified for the planetary project that the Geological Survey and NASA had in mind.

The Geological Survey and NASA planned to use a giant three-camera system designed by RCA, based on television tube technology, that had been used to map the moon. The bulk of the 4,000-pound payload on NASA’s first Landsat satellite was reserved for the RCA equipment.

Ms. Norwood and Hughes were told that their multispectral scanner system, or M.S.S., could be included if it weighed no more than 100 pounds.

Ms. Norwood had to scale back her scanner to record just four bands of energy in the electromagnetic spectrum instead of seven, as she had planned. The scanner also had to be high precision. In her first design, each pixel represented 80 meters.

The device had a 9-by-13-inch mirror that banged back and forth noisily in the scanner 13 times a second. The scientists at the Geological Survey and NASA were skeptical.

A senior engineer from Hughes took the device out on a truck and drove around California to test it and convince the doubters that it would work. It did — spectacularly. Ms. Norwood hung one of the images, of Yosemite National Park’s Half Dome, on the wall of her house for the rest of her life.

The first Landsat blasted into space on July 23, 1972. Two days later, the scanner sent back the first images, of the Ouachita Mountains in Oklahoma; they were astounding. According to a 2021 article in MIT Technology Review, one geologist teared up. Another, who had been skeptical about the scanner, said, “I was so wrong about this. I’m not going to eat crow. Not big enough. I’m going to eat raven.”

The RCA system was supposed to be the primary recording instrument aboard the satellite, and the M.S.S. a secondary experiment.

“But once we looked at the data, the roles switched,” Stan Freden, the Landsat 1 project scientist, said in a NASA report.

The M.S.S. proved not only better, but also more reliable. Two weeks after liftoff, power surges in the RCA camera-based system endangered the satellite and the camera had to be shut down….

(11) MEMORY LANE.

1945[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

August Derleth’s “A Word From Dr. Lyndon Parker”

Sherlock Holmes pastiches must be almost as old as the stories themselves. The first credited one was sixteen years after the first Holmes story and was in Greek, Sherlock Holmes saving Mr. Venizelos (Ο Σέρλοκ Χολμς σώζων τον κ. Βενιζέλον).  Our Beginning tonight isn’t from a work that old as it’s taken from August Derleth’s In Re: Sherlock Holmes.

It came from the collection of short stories, In Re: Sherlock Holmes, first published seventy-eight years ago in the US by Mycroft & Moran which was an imprint of Arkham House. The imprint was in part created for these stories. Wise choice I’d say.

Pons, a Consulting Detective in the mold of Holmes, exists because Derleth desired so much to do Holmes stories after Doyle ceased that he wrote him and asked if he could. Doyle unsurprisingly said no. The Solar Pons name is supposedly syllabically similar to Sherlock Holmes. Huh.

I like them because Derleth is obviously a fanboy of Holmes and his detective. Pons isn’t Holmes but is what a fan would write if he was creating his own loving version of Holmes. 

And now for our very British Beginning…

A Word From Dr. Lyndon Parker

The way in which I first made the acquaintance of Mr. Solar Pons, who was destined to introduce me to many interesting adventures in crime detection, was exceedingly prosaic. Yet it was not without those elements suggestive of what was to come. Though it took place almost thirty years ago, the memory of that meeting is as clear in mind as if it had taken place yesterday.

I had been sitting for some time in a pub not far from Paddington Station, ruefully reflecting that the London to which I had returned after the first World War was not the city I had left, when a tall; thin gentleman wearing an Inverness cape and a rakish cap with a visor on it, strode casually into the place. I was struck at once by his appearance: the thin, almost feral face; the sharp, keen dark eyes with their heavy, but not bushy brows; the thin lips and the leanness of the face in general–all these things interested me both from a personal and a medical standpoint, and I looked up from the envelope upon which I had been writing to follow the fellow with my eyes across the floor to the bar.

A waiter, who was wiping tables next to me, noticed my interest and came over. “Sherlock Holmes’,” he said. “That’s who he is. The Sherlock Holmes of Praed Street,’ is what the papers call him. His real name’s Solar Pons. Ain’t much choice between the two, eh?” 

Pons had had a few words with the man behind the bar and now turned to look idly over the room. I looked away as I saw that his glance was about to fall on me, and I felt him examining me from head to toe. I felt, rather than saw, that he was walking over toward my table, and in a few moments he came to stand beside my bag on the floor next to my chair. 

“Fine color,” he said crisply. “Not long back from Africa, I see. “Two days.”

“Your scarab pin suggests Egypt and, if I’m not mistaken, the envelope on which you have been writing is one of Shepheard’s. From Cairo, then.” 

“On the ship Ishtar.” 

“At the East India Docks.” 

I looked up and he smiled genially. “But, really, you know, my dear fellow–London is not as bad as all that.” 

“I should not like to think so,” I answered him, without at once realizing that I had given him no clue to my thoughts. “Obviously you have been walking.”

(12) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born April 13, 1931 Beverly Cross. English playwright, librettist, and screenwriter. Yes librettist. He’s here because he wrote the screenplays for Sinbad and the Eye of the TigerJason and the Argonauts and Clash of the Titans. Not remotely genre related but worth mentioning, is that he worked uncredited on the script for Lawrence of Arabia although it is unknown if any of his material made it to the film we see. (Died 1998.)
  • Born April 13, 1943 Bill Pronzini, 80. Mystery writer whose Nameless Detective has one genre adventure in A Killing in Xanadu. Genre anthologist, often with Barry N Malzberg, covering such varied and wide-ranging themes as Bug-Eyed Monsters (with Malzberg), Arbor House Treasury of Horror and the Supernatural (with Greenberg and Malzberg) and Arbor House Necropolis. As Robert Hart Davis, he wrote “The Pillars of Salt Affair”, a Man from U.N.C.L.E. novella that ran in the The Man from U.N.C.L.E. Magazine.
  • Born April 13, 1950 Ron Perlman, 73. Hellboy in a total of five films including three animated films (Hellboy: Sword of StormsHellboy: Blood and Iron and the Redcap short which is elusive to find unfortunately). Still by far the best Hellboy. He’s got a very long association with the genre as his very first film was Quest for Fire in which he was Amoukar. The Ice Pirates and being Zeno was followed quickly by being Captain Soames in Sleepwalkers and Angel De La Guardia in the Mexican horror film Cronos. Several years later, I see he’s Boltar in Prince Valiant, followed by the hard SF of being Johnher in Alien Resurrection and Reman Viceroy in Star Trek: Nemesis. And I should note he was in Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them as Gnarlack, a goblin gangster if I read the Cliff Notes to that correctly. No, I’m not forgetting about his most amazing role of all, Vincent in Beauty and The Beast. (Having not rewatched for fear of the Suck Fairy having come down hard on it. So who has watched it lately?) At the time, I thought it was the most awesome practical makeup I’d ever seen. And the costume just made look him even still more amazing. 
  • Born April 13, 1951 Peter Davison, 72. The Fifth Doctor that I came to be very fond of. For twenty years now, he has reprised his role as the Fifth Doctor in myriad Doctor Who audio dramas for Big Finish. And he put a lot of gravitas into the voice of Mole he did for The Wind in the Willows animated special Mole’s Christmas. And let’s not forget he showed up in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy as the Dish of the Day. I’m going to note that I first saw him in Tristan Farnon in the BBC’s adaptation of James Herriot’s All Creatures Great and Small stories, a lovely role indeed. And I’m very fond of The Last Detective series where he played DC ‘Dangerous’ Davies. 
  • Born April 13, 1954 Michael Cassutt, 69. Producer, screenwriter, and author. His notable TV work includes work for the animated Dungeons & DragonsMax HeadroomThe Outer LimitsBeauty and The BeastSeaQuestFarscape, Eerie, Indiana and The Twilight Zone. He’s also written genre works including the Heaven’s Shadow series that was co-written with David S. Goyer. His latest piece of fiction was the “Aurora” novelette published in Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine, March/April 2022. 
  • Born April 13, 1954 Glen Keane, 69. He’s responsible for all of the layout work on Star Trek: The Animated Series and also My Favorite Martians which I can’t say I recognize. As a character animator at Walt Disney Animation Studios, he worked on Aladdin, Beauty and the Beast, The Little Mermaid and Pocahontas
  • Born April 13, 1959 Brian Thomsen. Editor, writer and anthologist. He was founding editor of Warner Books’ Questar Science Fiction, and later served as managing fiction editor at TSR. He co-wrote the autobiography of Julius Schwartz. And yes I’ve actually read one of his anthologies, A Yuletide Universe, as I remember it from the cover art. (Died 2008.)
  • April 13, 1967 — Rogers Cadenhead, 56. This Filer is a computer book author and web publisher who served once as chairman of the RSS Advisory Board, a group that publishes the RSS 2.0 specification. Very, very impressive. He also gained infamy for claiming drudge.com before a certain muckraker could, and still holds on to it.

(13) COMICS SECTION.

(14) RIVERS OF LONDON. Titan Comics has revealed the covers for Here Be Dragons – the next phase of Rivers of London comics, set in the world of the bestselling novel series. For this upcoming series, comic series writers Ben Aaronovitch (Rivers of London) and Andrew Cartmel (The Vinyl Detective) are joined by BAFTA-nominated scriptwriter, and award-winning New York Times bestselling author James Swallow, with artwork by José María Beroy

This cover preview shows the first look at a dangerous monster at large above the streets of London. After a Met Police helicopter on night patrol is attacked by an unidentified aerial phenomena, the Met’s only sanctioned wizard, Peter Grant, and his mentor, Thomas Nightingale, are called to investigate.
 
Rivers of London: Here Be Dragons issue #1 (on sale in comic shops and digital July 12th, 2023) features covers by series artist José María Beroy, alongside David M. Buisan and V.V. Glass. 

(15) SMITHSONIAN OPEN ACCESS. “The Smithsonian Puts 4.5 Million High-Res Images Online and Into the Public Domain, Making Them Free to Use” at Open Culture. And more items are being added to Smithsonian Open Access all the time,

That vast repository of American history that is the Smithsonian Institution evolved from an organization founded in 1816 called the Columbian Institute for the Promotion of Arts and Sciences. Its mandate, the collection and dissemination of useful knowledge, now sounds very much of the nineteenth century — but then, so does its name. Columbia, the goddess-like symbolic personification of the United States of America, is seldom directly referenced today, having been superseded by Lady Liberty. Traits of both figures appear in the depiction on the nineteenth-century fireman’s hat above, about which you can learn more at Smithsonian Open Access, a digital archive that now contains some 4.5 million images.

Just for practice I searched “science fiction” and one of the images that returned was Octavia Butler’s typewriter.

This Olivetti Studio 46 Typewriter belonged to Octavia E. Butler (1947-2006), who wrote science fiction when few black writers did. Butler began writing at age 10 and eventually used a computer to compose, but noted, “I didn’t always. I wrote my first ten books on a manual typewriter of one kind or another….She [my mother] did day work; she made not very much money….here she had a daughter begging for a typewriter.” Butler’s blue typewriter dates to the 1970s….

(16) VONNEGUT SPEAKS. At Euronews:“Culture Re-View: Kurt Vonnegut’s five best quotes”.

…Over the following five decades, Vonnegut established himself as one of the most creative and humorous voices in science-fiction. Like an American Douglas Adams, his books would frequently deal with aliens, time travel, and metafiction, but always with the intent of getting to the heart of human nature itself….

The first example on their list is:

1. “We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful about what we pretend to be.”

From Vonnegut’s third novel ‘Mother Night’, it’s a beautiful and quick summation of an appreciation of the stark importance as well as the flimsiness of human identity.

(17) DAY FOR KNIGHT. “’Game of Thrones’ Prequel Based on Dunk and Egg Books Series Order”TVLine has details.

Despite Game of Thrones author George R.R. Martin once plainly stating that HBO was not going to make a TV show out of his Dunk and Egg novellas, those characters will be central in A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms: The Hedge Knight, a Thrones prequel series that HBO greenlit Wednesday during Warner Bros. Discovery’s unveiling of its Max streaming service.

The series will be written and executive-produced by Martin and Ira Parker. Ryan Condal, who currently serves as House of the Dragon‘s showrunner, and Vince Gerardis also will be EPs.

“A century before the events of Game of Thrones, two unlikely heroes wandered Westeros,” the official logline reads. “A young, naive but courageous knight, Ser Duncan the Tall” (aka Dunk) “and his diminutive squire, Egg. Set in an age when the Targaryen line still holds the Iron Throne and the memory of the last dragon has not yet passed from living memory, great destinies, powerful foes and dangerous exploits all await these improbable and incomparable friends.”…

(18) A FROZEN FLAME. And if you’d like to see George R.R. Martin posing with his Dragon Award from last year, click on this link to his March 29 blog entry.

My thanks to all of the attendees of last year’s Dragoncon, and to all the Dragon Award voters who chose ELDEN RING as the best game of the year.   Like all my friends at From Software, I am thrilled that you enjoyed the play… as challenging as it can be.

(19) VIDEO OF THE DAY. PBS Space-Time’s Matt O’Dowd wonders “How Far Beyond Earth Could Humanity Expand?”

We humans have always been explorers. The great civilizations that have arisen across the world are owed to our restless ancestors. These days, there’s not much of Earth left to explore. But if we look up, there’s a whole universe out there waiting for us. Future generations may one day explore the cosmos and even settle entire other galaxies. But there is a hard limit to how much of the universe we can expand into. So, how big can humanity get?

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

Pixel Scroll 3/30/23 Yes! We Have No Pixels, We Have No Pixels Today

(1) NEW FUTURE TENSE FICTION PODCAST. The first episode of the Future Tense Fiction podcast series dropped this week. Produced by Slate, it’s hosted by science journalist Maddie Stone, and each episode features a voice actor reading one of the Future Tense stories, followed by a conversation with the author about how their own experiences with technology informed their writing and vision. The first episode features Sturgeon Award–winning story “When Robot and Crow saved East St. Louis,” by Annalee Newitz. The podcast is free and is available through any podcast service that people use (including but not limited to Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, and Radio Public).

(2) THE BIG EUROVISION READ. Catherynne M. Valente ecstatically told Facebook followers:

Decibel Jones and the Absolute Zeroes have finally made it to the blue carpet. WHAT.

I could not possibly be more excited to announce that Space Opera, the literary lovechild of @Eurovision & a drunk thesaurus, is officially part of the #BigEurovisionRead and #Eurofestival, sponsored by @bbcarts and @thereadingagency this year!

From a throwaway joke on Twitter to really being part of actual #Eurovision? Oh. My. God.

It truly isn’t possible to express how thrilling it is for an utterly cringe #Eurovision dork like me to be anywhere near the actual event, let alone a small official part of it. I am so honored, so grateful, and I hope Dess and the gang find a whole new galaxy of friends.

Space Opera has been such a ride, and the sequel is out this fall! Thank you so much to all the librarians that chose this book and everyone who has jumped on Mr. Jones’ Wild Ride over the last five years.

Life is beautiful and life is stupid. Truly.

(3) STARFLEET ACADEMY. “’Star Trek: Starfleet Academy’ Series Ordered at Paramount+” and Variety has details.

 “Admission is now open to Starfleet Academy! Explore the galaxy! Captain your destiny! For the first time in over a century, our campus will be re-opened to admit individuals a minimum of 16 Earth years (or species equivalent) who dream of exceeding their physical, mental and spiritual limits, who value friendship, camaraderie, honor and devotion to a cause greater than themselves,” Kurtzman and Landau said. “The coursework will be rigorous, the instructors among the brightest lights in their respective fields, and those accepted will live and study side-by-side with the most diverse population of students ever admitted. Today we encourage all who share our dreams, goals and values to join a new generation of visionary cadets as they take their first steps toward creating a bright future for us all. Apply today! Ex Astris, Scientia!”

The official logline for the series states that it “will introduce us to a young group of cadets who come together to pursue a common dream of hope and optimism. Under the watchful and demanding eyes of their instructors, they will discover what it takes to become Starfleet officers as they navigate blossoming friendships, explosive rivalries, first loves and a new enemy that threatens both the Academy and the Federation itself.”

… Production on “Star Trek: Starfleet Academy” will begin in 2024….

(4) GOODNIGHT MOON. Here’s a strange exercise: “Every Page of Goodnight Moon, Ranked” at McSweeney’s Internet Tendency. This page is ranked next to last – and the commentary is one reason I’m not sure this article succeeds at being funny.

21. And goodnight mouse (Page 16)
Separated from the toy house on page 3, we see this mouse for what it really is: a thinly constructed, two-dimensional character. What had once seemed whimsical now appears in stark reality: a mouse running around a child’s bedroom, the treatment of which should neither be celebrated nor encouraged.

(5) MIKE MIGNOLA’S VISION. On exhibit at the Society of Illustrators through July 8 is “Picturing Pinocchio: Mignola Makes a Marionette”.

Deep in the midst of pandemic lockdowns, a plan was hatched: a new illuminated edition of Carlo Collodi’s Pinocchio, engineered to unDisnify one of the strangest, most startling pieces of fiction ever to be beloved by generations of children worldwide.

The seed was planted by cartoonist and author Mike Mignola (Hellboy), who had been pondering his own take on the puppet for decades. With the world closed up due to COVID, he teamed up with idiosyncratic publisher Beehive Books and holed up in his studio to create a portfolio of over fifty original illustrations re-envisioning Collodi’s tale. When author Lemony Snicket (A Series of Unfortunate Events) got wind of the project, he couldn’t resist joining, offering elaborate hand-typed annotations of his own maddening encounter with this singular text.

Pinocchio, though one of the most popular literary works of all time, is somewhat paradoxically ill-remembered. Collodi originally published the story as serialized installments in a children’s magazine. The original series ended with Pinocchio hung from a tree, dead by the hands of assassins, and was continued only because of an outcry from readers who couldn’t stand to see such a beloved character reach such a dismal end.  This is the true nature of Collodi’s tale — who better than Mike Mignola to illustrate the unremitting darkness and strange whimsy that characterized this bizarre children’s classic?

This exhibition will feature his full portfolio of yet-to-be-published Pinocchio illustrations, including drawings, paintings, process work and other ephemera of Mignola’s pandemic Pinocchio project. The Land of Toys, the City of Catchfools, the Blue Fairy, Fire Eater, the feline Assassins – as seen through the eyes of a modern master of illustration and storytelling.

(6) SMALL WONDERS KICKSTARTER FUNDS. Stephen Granade reports that the “Small Wonders Magazine: Year One” Kickstarter has funded! As a result, he says, all of their Issue 0 stories and poems, including Beth Cato’s “She Seeks a Home” and Premee Mohamed’s “From the Journal of Sawyer L. Gibbs, Hero, Aged 13 1/2”  are available on the Small Wonders website. They will be opening for story and poem submissions on April 1, no joke.

(7) JOE GIELLA (1928-2023). Comics artist Joe Giella died March 21 at the age of 94 reports Heritage Auctions.

Joe Giella is best known for his work at DC in the 1950s and 60s as an inker. But his career spanned 60 years! He studied art at three different schools before his first gig at age 17 in 1946 where he did “Captain Codfish” for Hillman. After some free-lance at Fawcett, former classmate Mike Sekowsky helped him land a job at Timely as an inker. He met Frank Giacoia there and went with Frank when he took a job at DC in 1949. Over the next two decades, at one time or another, Joe inked nearly every feature that Julius Schwartz edited. 

By 1970, Joe had started working with the syndicates and drew or inked Batman, Flash Gordon, the Phantom, while still doing occasional work for DC. In 1991, he took over the Mary Worth strip, where he continued to work until his retirement in 2016. Joe passed away at age 94 on March 21, 2023.

(8) MEMORY LANE.

1972[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

Clifford Simak’s A Choice of Gods was published fifty-one years ago by G.P. Putnam & Sons with a simultaneous edition done by SFBC. The superb cover art was by Michael Hinge. 

Sixty years ago at Torcon II, it would be nominated for Best Novel though Isaac Asimov’s The Gods Themselves would take home the Hugo that year.

Without being explicit, I will say that I think it shares some similarity in themes to City

I think A Choice of Gods has one of the finest Beginnings that I’ve ever had the pleasure to read, so without further commentary on my part, here it is…

Aug. 1, 2185: So we begin again. Actually, we began again fifty years ago, but did not know it then. There was hope, for a time, that there were more people left and that we could pick up where we had left off. We thought, somehow, that we could hang onto what we had, once the shock was over and we could think more clearly and plan more cleverly. By the end of the first year we should have known that it was impossible; by the end of five we should have been willing to admit it, but we weren’t. At first we refused to face the fact and once we had to face it we became stubborn with a senseless sort of faith. The old way of life could not be revived; there were too few of us and none with special knowledge and the old technology was gone beyond all restoration. The technology had been too complex and too specialized and too regimented to be picked up and carried on without a large work force equipped with appropriate skills and knowledge that were necessary not only to operate the technology itself, but to produce the energy that went into it. We are now no more than scavengers feeding on the carcass of the past and some day we’ll be down to the bare bones of it and will be finally on our own. But over the years we have been recovering or rediscovering, whichever it may be, some of the older and more basic technology geared to a simpler way of life and these basic rudimentary skills should keep us from sinking into utter savagery.

There is no one who knows what really happened, which does not, of course, deter some of us from formulating theories that might explain it all. The trouble is that all the theories boil down to simple guesses, in which all kinds of metaphysical misconceptions play a part. There are no facts other than two very simple facts and the first of these is that fifty years ago last month the greater fraction of the human race either went somewhere or was taken somewhere. Out of more than eight billion of us, which was certainly far too many of us, there are now, at most, a few hundred left. In this house in which I sit to write these words, there are sixty-seven humans, and only that many because on the night it happened we had invited some young guests to help us celebrate the coming of age of our twin grandsons, John and Jason Whitney. Of the Leech Lake Indians there may be as many as three hundred, although we now see little of them, for they have taken up again, quite happily and to their great advantage, or so it would seem to me, their old tribal wanderings. At times rumors reach us of other little pockets of humanity still surviving (the rumors chiefly brought by some loose-footed robot), but when we’ve gone to hunt for them, they are never there, nor is there anything to indicate they ever had been there. This, of course, proves nothing. It stands to reason that elsewhere on the Earth there must be others left, although we have no idea where. We hunt for them no longer, even when the rumors come, for it seems to us that we no longer have any need of them. In the intervening years we have become content, settling down into the routine of a bucolic life.

The robots still are with us and we have no idea how many there may be. All the robots that were ever in existence must still remain. They did not go or were not taken as was the human race. Over the years a number of them have come to settle in with us, doing all the work and chores necessary for our comfortable existence, becoming, in all truth, a part of our community. Some of them at times may leave and go elsewhere for a while and there are occasions when new ones float in and stay, either for good or for varying periods. It might seem to someone unacquainted with the situation that in the robots we had the labor force we needed to keep at least a small sector of the more vital parts of the old technology alive. It is possible the robots could have been taught the necessary skills, but the rub here is that we had no one who was equipped to teach them. Even if we’d had, I have some well-founded doubt that it would have worked. The robots are not technologically minded. They were not built to be. They were built to bolster human vanity and pride, to meet a strange longing that seems to be built into the human ego—the need to have other humans (or a reasonable facsimile of other humans) to minister to our wants and needs, human slaves to be dominated, human beings over which a man or woman (or a child) can assert authority, thus building up a false feeling of superiority. They were built to serve as cooks, gardeners, butlers, maids, footmen (I have never got quite straight in mind what a footman is)—servants of all kinds. They were the flunkeys and the inferior companions, the yea-sayers, the slaves. In a manner of speaking, in their services to us, I suppose they still are slaves. Although I doubt the robots think of it as slavery; their values, while supplied by human agency, are not entirely human values. They serve us most willingly; thankful of a chance to serve, they press their services upon us, apparently glad to find new masters to replace the old. This is the situation as it applies to us; with the Indians it is different. The robots do not feel at ease with the Indians and the Indians, in turn, regard them with an emotion that borders upon loathing. They are a part of the white man’s culture and are readily acceptable to us upon the basis of our onetime preoccupation with machines. To the Indians they are unclean, something that is repulsively foul and alien. They will have no part of them. Any robot stumbling into an Indian camp is summarily hustled off. A few of the robots serve us. There must be many thousands more. Those that are not with us we have fallen into the habit of calling wild robots, although I doubt they, in any sense, are wild. Often, from our windows or while sitting on the patio, or while out walking, we see bands of wild robots hurrying along as if they had an urgent destination or were involved in some great purpose. We have never been able to determine where the destination or what might be the purpose. There are certain stories of them that we hear at times, but nothing more than stories and with no evidence, and not worth repeating here.

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born March 30, 1904 Herbert van Thal. Editor of the Pan Book of Horror Stories series, twenty-four volumes that appeared from 1959 to 1983. Back From the Dead: The Legacy of the Pan Book of Horror Stories is a look at the series and it contains Lest You Should Suffer Nightmares, the first biography of him written by Pan Book of Horror Stories expert Johnny Mains. (Died 1983.)
  • Born March 30, 1928 Chad Oliver. Writer of both Westerns and SF, a not uncommon occupation at that time. He considered himself an anthropological science fiction writer whose training as an academic informed his fiction, an early Le Guin if you will. Not a terribly prolific writer with just nine novels and two collections to his name over a forty-year span. Mists of Dawn, his first novel, is a YA novel which I’d recommend as it reads similarly to Heinlein. (Died 1993.)
  • Born March 30, 1930 John Astin, 93. He is best known for playing Gomez Addams in Addams Family, reprising it on the Halloween with the New Addams Family film and the Addams Family animated series. A memorable later role would be as Professor Wickwire in The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr., and I’d like single out his delightfully weird appearance on The Wild Wild West as Count Nikolai Sazanov in “The Night of the Tartar” episode.  Years later I remember that episode and him in it. 
  • Born March 30, 1934 Dennis Etchison. As an editor, he received two World Fantasy Awards for Best Anthology, MetaHorror and The Museum of Horrors. As a writer, he’s best remembered as a short story writer of quite tasty horror. Talking in the Dark Is his personally selected collection of his stories. (Died 2019.)
  • Born March 30, 1948 Jeanne Robinson. She co-wrote the Stardance Saga with her husband Spider Robinson. To my knowledge, her only other piece of writing was ‘Serendipity: Do, Some Thoughts About Collaborative Writing‘ which was published in the MagiCon Program. (Died 2010.)
  • Born March 30, 1950 Robbie Coltrane. I first saw him playing Dr. Eddie “Fitz” Fitzgerald on Cracker way back in the Ninties. Not genre, but an amazing role none-the-less. He was Valentin Dmitrovich Zhukovsky in GoldenEye and The World Is Not Enough, with a much less prominent role as a man at an airfield in Flash Gordon being his first genre role. Being Rubeus Hagrid in the Potter franchise was his longest running genre gig. He’s also voiced both Mr. Hyde in the Van Helsing film and Gregory, a mouse, in The Tale of Despereaux film. (Died 2022.)
  • Born March 30, 1965 Maurice LaMarche, 58. Voice actor primarily for such roles as Pinky and The Brain (both of which Stross makes use of in The Laundry series) with Pinky modeled off Orson Welles, near as I can tell the entire cast of Futurama, the villain Sylar on Heroes, the voice of Orson Welles in Ed Wood, a less serious Pepé Le Pew in Space Jam, and, though maybe not genre, he’s voiced  Kellogg’s Froot Loops spokesbird Toucan Sam and  the animated Willy Wonka character in Nestlé’s Willy Wonka Candy Company commercials.

(10) COMICS SECTION.

  • Sheldon shows that the Vanishing Cabinet from Harry Potter may have had other uses of interest to Valdemort.
  • Sheldon, again, depicts Pippin explaining so clearly and simply why it’s time for another meal that even a future King should be able to understand.
  • Order of the Stick has a magic trap that makes it a bit difficult to determine when the trap has been tripped. 

(11) CAT CHAT. Did we do this before? Well, if so, let’s do it again. CatGPT. It seems to be a one-joke idea, so I won’t excerpt the answer I received to my question “What makes a good social justice credential?”

(12) MASSACRE IN THE EXECUTIVE SUITE. With great power comes sudden unemployment.“Marvel Entertainment Chairman Ike Perlmutter Out at Disney” reports Yahoo! and so are some other top Marvel brass.

Isaac “Ike” Perlmutter, chairman of Marvel Entertainment, has been laid off at Disney. Marvel Entertainment will be folded into the larger Disney business units, a Disney spokesperson confirmed.

The move comes as Disney looks to eliminate 7,000 jobs in multiple rounds of layoffs that kicked off this week, in what CEO Bob Iger calls part of a “strategic realignment.”

Rob Grosser, a longtime third-party Marvel security consultant who is also considered to be Perlmutter’s fixer, is also out, according to two insiders with knowledge of the situation. In addition, Disney has terminated the employment of Rob Steffens, who served as co-president of Marvel Entertainment, and John Turitzin, who held the position of chief counsel for the same division….

(13) KICKED OUT THE DOOR TO THE REAL WORLD. Another casualty of cutbacks is Disney’s metaverse division. TechCrunch has the story: “Disney cuts metaverse division as part of broader restructuring”.

…The metaverse division is headed by Mike White, who was promoted to the role from SVP of consumer experiences and platforms in February 2022 and charged with getting Disney deeper into the web3 space. The unit aimed to find ways to tell more interactive stories in immersive formats using Disney’s extensive library of intellectual property, according to WSJ. Aside from the Disney we all know and love, that extensive library includes Pixar, Marvel and all of the Star Wars movies and shows.

All 50 or so members of the team have lost their jobs, sources told WSJ. White will remain at the company, but it’s not clear in what capacity….

(14) WJW INTERVIEW. A 90-minute video interview with Walter Jon Williams has been posted on Tubi by the program “About the Authors TV”. The Q&A is conducted by author and biographer Jake Brown.

Williams posted the link along with a self-deprecating comment: “I’ve viewed only a few minutes of the interview, enough to be amused by the way Zoom’s filters kept making parts of my anatomy appear and disappear. If you’re looking for inadvertent hilarity, or possibly an epileptic seizure, this is the place for you!”

(15) RAISING THE BAR. “Man proposes to girlfriend using a personal version of ‘Everything Everywhere’ in viral TikTok” at NBC News. The TikTok video can be viewed at the link.

A wedding proposal in a movie theater went viral on TikTok for a creator’s rendition of A24’s “Everything Everywhere All at Once,” and viewers say they’re in awe of the effort.

“I rented out a theater room, did some photoshop, brought her inside, edited a fake video with trailers in the beginning,” TikTok user Daniel Le, who goes by @danyo_le, wrote.

The TikTok, which garnered over 2 million views and included a film Le named “Anniething Anniewhere All at Once” after his girlfriend, showed clips from the acclaimed film and parody versions edited in by Le…. 

(16) JEOPARDY! Andrew Porter did not touch that dial while contestant flailed on tonight’s episode of Jeopardy!

Category: Quoth the title

Answer: Philip Pullman quoted Milton, “Unless the Almighty Maker them ordain” these “to create more worlds”

Wrong questions: “What are men?” and “What are children of men?”

Correct question: “What is ‘His Dark Materials’?”

Answer: The title of this “Hainting” Noel Coward comedy comes from Shelley’s “To a Skylark”

No one could ask, “Shelley wrote, ‘Hail to thee, “Blithe Spirit’.”

(17) OCTOTHORPE. The eightieth episode of the Octothorpe podcast, “Four Constituent Blobs”, is now up!

John Coxon is jetlagged, Alison Scott is working, and Liz Batty is under pressure. We get excited about the upcoming Eastercon, barely even mention Chengdu at all, talk a bit about science fiction, and round it all out with Gaming Corner, sponsored by Mark Plummer. Art by the fabulous Sue Mason.

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