Pixel Scroll 12/5/23 Which Items In This Scroll Contain A Hovercraft Full Of Eels?

(1) INDIE SPIRIT. The 2024 Independent Spirit Awards nominations are out. Full list at Variety: “Indie Spirit Film and TV Nominations 2024 Revealed”.

…The annual honors recognize the best of television, as well as film…. Only new TV shows that have run for one season and were released between Jan. 1 and Dec. 31 of this year are eligible for awards….

The sff epic The Last of Us received four nominations.

(2) KGB. Fantastic Fiction at KGB speculative fiction reading series hosts Ellen Datlow and Matthew Kressel present Holly Black and S.L. Coney on Wednesday, December 13. The event begins at 7:00 p.m. Eastern in the KGB Bar, 85 East 4th Street, New York, NY 10003 (Just off 2nd Ave, upstairs).

Holly Black

Holly Black is the #1 New York Times bestselling and award-winning author of fantasy novels, short stories, and comics. She has been a finalist for an Eisner and a Lodestar Award, and the recipient of the Mythopoeic Award, a Nebula, and a Newbery Honor. She has sold over 26 million books worldwide, and her work has been translated into over thirty languages and adapted for film. Her most recent novel is The Stolen Heir.

S. L. Coney

S. L. Coney is the author of Wild Spaces, an Esquire Best of Horror 2023 pick, and named as an author to watch by Publisher’s Weekly. Their short stories have appeared in St. Louis Noir and Gamut Magazine and their story “Abandoned Places” was picked for 2017s Best American Mystery Stories. They still hold seashells to their ears to hear the ocean speak to them, and are still deeply disappointed that their fins never grew in.

(3) SCHOLASTIC DISCONTINUES SEPARATING OUT BOOKS WITH BIPOC/QUEER CHARACTERS. Publisher’s Lunch reports:

Scholastic announced an update to its Book Fairs policy, after separating out books with BIPOC and queer characters and creators from elementary school fairs in a purported effort to protect teachers and librarians who are dealing with legislation that bans such titles. Scholastic apologized and reversed course in October, announcing that they would discontinue the share Every Story, Celebrate Every Voice a la carte collection but without additional details about the future of the program.

“From our experience in the fall, we have learned that separating out titles or highlighting titles that might make teachers and librarians vulnerable to serious legal and professional consequences is not the answer,” they state in a release.

Now, Scholastic has announced that books from the separate case—which they now call the Celebrating Voices Collection—will be integrated into the standard book fair case for the spring 2024 season, “joining a number of new titles with a wide array of representation.” All books will be delivered to schools, “which will be able to make their own local merchandising decisions, as they have always done, just like any bookstore or library.”

(4) WOOF. The Worldcon Order Of Faneditors had a collation at the Chengdu Worldcon. This year’s Official Editor (OE), Don Eastlake, has made WOOF #48 a free download at eFanzines.

WOOF is an amateur press association (apa) that has been a feature of Worldcons since 1976 thanks to its originator, the late Bruce Pelz. 

(5) WHAT A STINKER. “Doctor Who: Worst Things The Doctor Has Done”GameRant has seven of them on its list. They get even worse after this one —

Abandoning Sarah Jane Smith

The Hand of Fear (Season 14, Serial 2)

Sarah Jane Smith first appeared alongside the third Doctor in 1973. She was a determined woman who managed to infiltrate a secret research facility in her first episode, an act that caught The Doctor’s attention. He took her on board the TARDIS as his next companion, and Sarah Jane faced off against the Daleks, Cybermen, and The Master in her time. She even got to witness The Doctor regenerate into the fourth incarnation.

All of this history made it seem even stranger that The Doctor would just abandon Sarah Jane Smith when he is called back to Gallifrey by the Time Lords. He did agree to take her home, but accidentally left her in Aberdeen with the promise of returning to her. However, it is revealed later on during the tenth Doctor’s run that the two never saw each other after that, and that The Doctor chose to abandon Sarah Jane as he did not want to see her grow old.

(6) NEW SFF IN THE NYT. Amal El-Mohtar reviews new books by Vajra Chandrasekera, Avi Silver, Cadwell Turnbull, Michael Mammay and T. Kingfisher in “What’s Behind That Door?” at the New York Times.

THE SAINT OF BRIGHT DOORS (Tordotcom, 356 pp., $27.99), by Vajra Chandrasekera, is the best book I’ve read all year. Protean, singular, original, it forces me to come up with the most baffling comparisons, like: What if “Disco Elysium” were written by Sofia Samatar? At the same time, all you need to know about it is contained in its opening:

“The moment Fetter is born, Mother-of-Glory pins his shadow to the earth with a large brass nail and tears it from him. This is his first memory, the seed of many hours of therapy to come.”…

(7) FRANKLY. David Fear’s Rolling Stone review says “’Poor Things’ Is Emma Stone’s Horny, Feminist-Frankenstein Masterpiece”. (To be precise, that’s Frankenstein’s monster, of course.)

…Based on Alasdair Gray’s award-winning 1992 novel, this serrated satire from Yorgos Lanthimos (The Favourite) drops you into Victorian-era London, at the very moment that a young woman steps off the city’s titular bridge. She is Bella Baxter (Emma Stone), and her contemporaries might call her “simple.” Or perhaps “beastly.” She communicates by grunting, smashing plates, and high-decibel screaming. When she’s not gleefully terrorizing the servants, she hobbles unsteadily throughout the house of her guardian, Dr. Godwin Baxter (Willem Dafoe) — God, for short. A surgeon by trade (and judging from the jigsaw scars on his face, intimately familiar with the scalpel), he spends his off hours exploring the boundaries of bleeding-edge 19th century science….

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY.

[Written by Cat Eldridge.]

Born December 5, 1936 James Lee Burke, 87. James Lee Burke is a writer that I first encountered by way of his Dave Robicheaux series, the once seriously alcoholic former homicide detective in the New Orleans Police Department, Robicheaux lives in New Iberia, Louisiana, and works as a detective for the Iberia Parish Sheriff’s Office.

James Lee Burke

The series being set there takes full advantage of its setting. This is an extraordinary series in which people I care about have bad things happen to them and yet I keep reading the series. It has cringe-inducing moments and it is not one to read late at night, but I enjoy it immensely. 

ISFDB lists four novels in this series as having genre elements, all I assume fantasy as Burke doesn’t do SF: In the Electric Mist with Confederate DeadBurning AngelJolie Blon‘s Bounce and A Private Cathedral, the latter the newest novel.  Now I remember the scene in Electric Mist with Confederate Dead that they think might be fantastical. It might, it might not be. To say what I think would be a spoiler. 

His shorter series of which there are currently four are all much shorter than the Dave Robicheaux series which is now at twenty-three novels over thirty three years and has even spawned has two films, the first with Dave Robicheaux played by Alec Baldwin (Heaven’s Prisoners) and then Tommy Lee Jones (In the Electric Mist). I go with the latter as working in this role as the former is too handsome as the character is described in the novels. 

The Billy Bob Holland series which I’ve read is damn good. Billy Bob Holland, an attorney and former Texas Ranger, in Deaf Smith, Texas which the author admits is a sort of love affair to his birth state. The first novel, Cimarron Rose, an Edgar Award for Best Novel. Very impressive. 

Though I’ve not read them yet, I’m very interested in his series using the real life memorable Texas sheriff Hackberry Holland coming of age against the backdrop of the civil rights era in a border town with the problems of that time.

(9) COMICS SECTION.

  • Shoe has a horrible literary pun.
  • Bizarro has a more subtle horror pun.
  • Reality Check mashes up Shakespeare and Spider-Man.
  • Existential Comics wonders a bit about relative perspectives.  Paladins and orcs, on the other hand, aren’t terribly concerned with the nuances of perspective. 
  • xkcd has a strange (of course) solar system navigation aid.

(10) DWAYNE MCDUFFIE GRANT CREATED. “There is now a Dwayne McDuffie Genius Grant Award (as there should be!)”Popverse has the story.

Dwayne McDuffie is a titan in the world of superhero comics and animation. The Milestone hero Static who you know from all the DC Comics and cartoons? That’s one of his. Marvel’s Damage Control, which is now not only in comics, but the MCU, and board games? That’s one of his as well. And that’s not to mention his foundational work on the animated series Ben 10 and Justice League Unlimited.

Although McDuffie sadly passed away in 2011, his personality and work have lived on through subsequent reprints, re-issues, collections, spinoffs to his work, and the contributions of those he helped along the way. And now if you consider yourself helped by McDuffie – as a reader or watcher of his work, as a collaborator, and/or as a friend – you can help someone on his behalf.

A non-profit organization called the Dwayne McDuffie Foundation has been started by McDuffie’s widow Charlotte (Fullerton) McDuffie, and one of its first acts is partnering with the iconic writer’s childhood school for the gifted with a “significant” scholarship called the Dwayne McDuffie Genius Grant Award….

More details are available in the announcement on the Dwayne McDuffie Facebook page.

… The main beneficiary of the Foundation at this time is Dwayne’s beloved childhood school in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan: The Roeper School, a prestigious private institution of learning for gifted students pre-K through high school.

The Dwayne McDuffie Foundation has established a significant scholarship at Roeper called the “McDuffie Genius Grant”—a moniker Dwayne himself always wanted to use.

Beginning in Fall 2023, this annual scholarship is being awarded to a young African-American student entering the Lower School, as Dwayne did, famously reminiscing that at Roeper, he finally “felt at home.”

In February 2024, a ceremony will take place at Roeper, honoring Mr. McDuffie for his humanitarianism and many professional achievements, including his inclusion in The Smithsonian National Museum of African-American History and Culture. The faculty and staff of Roeper, present and past, couldn’t be prouder of their alumnus.

(11) BARBENHEIMER Q&A. “Cillian Murphy and Margot Robbie Discuss Barbenheimer Memes, Box Office Success”. Variety thought it would be cute for the two stars to interview each other. Were they right?

ROBBIE: It was all the way along. The fact that it’s Greta Gerwig, people are like, “Greta Gerwig and a ‘Barbie’ movie, what?” And then the pictures of Ryan Gosling and me Rollerblading on Venice Beach came out and went even wider than I was expecting. I’d been thinking big for it, and it still turned out bigger than I expected.

But what about you? Did you think so many people were going to watch a movie about the making of the atomic bomb?

MURPHY: No. I don’t think any of us did. Christopher Nolan was always determined that it would be released in the summer as a big tentpole movie. That was always his plan. And he has this superstition around that date, the 21st.

ROBBIE: Do all his movies come out on that date?

MURPHY: In and around the 21st of July — they always come out then.

ROBBIE: It’s a good date. We picked that day too!

MURPHY: Yeah, I know.

(12) AARGH. “British Museum ends terrible year as punchline in Christmas cracker joke” which is repeated in the Guardian. (And here.)

The British Museum has barely been out of the headlines in 2023. First, there was the theft of 1,500 items from its collection and then it found itself in the middle of a diplomatic row over the Parthenon marbles.

Now the institution’s annus horribilis has been topped off by becoming the punchline in the year’s most popular Christmas cracker joke.

The annual competition, commissioned by the TV channel Gold, asks people to post their festive jokes to X (formerly Twitter) with a winner of the annual poll decided by the British public.

This year’s winner was written by Chris Douch from Oxfordshire who managed to combine a joke about the British Museum’s recent travails with a reference to fruity festive confectionery: “Did you hear about the Christmas cake on display in the British Museum? It was Stollen.”

The annual competition usually produces a topical winner that sends up one of the biggest stories of the year. In 2020, the winner poked fun at Dominic Cummings and his trip to Barnard Castle during the Covid-19 pandemic….

(13) HOLD THAT THOUGHT. A Scientific American article says, “Mars Can Wait. Questions Surround Settlements on Other Worlds”.

As ever-deepening turmoil engulfs Earth, daydreaming about moving to Mars might provide a pleasant break from our everyday predicaments. It is entirely understandable—and human—to grasp onto promises of a better life in a faraway place. But when Martian daydreams, in particular, turn into reality, the picture becomes less pleasant. What promise could a barren, hostile planet like Mars hold? As far as the solar system is concerned, we already inhabit a paradise.

Nevertheless, Mars is on the menu. NASA’s proposed Artemis mission ends with people planting flags on Martian soil in coming decades. China plans a sample return mission to Mars, and India plans to send another orbiter there in 2024. Even Earth’s newest space billionaire, Elon Musk, has joked about spending his last years on Mars, apparently intending to make humans a multiplanetary species…

…At face value, the long-term survival of humanity seems to provide a solid and noble cause for building permanent settlements on Mars. However, for a Mars settlement to truly mitigate extinction risks it must be adequately self-sufficient. This is unlikely to be achieved any time soon, and we may not have the time to wait. Instead, investments in global food security, meteor or comet deflection, pandemic preparedness and global peace appear far more cost-effective than building a settlement off-world. Additionally, some risks may follow us to Mars , such as rogue artificial intelligence, meaning that a settlement on Mars does not lower the total risk of extinction that much. Therefore, while in the long term safeguarding humanity may provide a good reason to settle other planets, it does not give us an urgent one….

(14) VIDEO OF THE DAY. “10 Funny James Bond Commercials”.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

– https://ko-fi.com/izd

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

– https://interzone.press

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Worldcon train launch, and photos of stations and travel card

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

A couple of videos and photo galleries showing the local area

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

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

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

Miscellaneous videos

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tim Underwood

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

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

(12) COMICS SECTION.

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

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

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

1939 finds Ray Bradbury writing under a variety of names:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pixel Scroll 8/11/23 The Secret Diary Of Pixel Scroll, Aged Four And Five Fifths

(1) PUBLISHER STRUGGLES TO GET AMAZON TO LIST “JEWISH FUTURES” ANTHOLOGY. [Item by Michael A. Burstein.] Fantastic Books and I are having trouble getting Amazon to list the Jewish Futures: Science Fiction from the World’s Oldest Diaspora edited by Michael A. Burstein ebook on Amazon.

Fantastic Books publisher Ian Randal Strock told Facebook readers:

Amazon.com has decided to “block [the ebook version of Jewish Futures] from being sold on Amazon.” Apparently, the fact that Fantastic Books published the print version means that Fantastic Books submitting the ebook version to publish through them violates… something. I have no idea. So, if you use a Kindle ebook reader, and you’d like to read an electronic version of Jewish Futures, we recommend you buy it directly from Fantastic Books. Doing so will get you both the epub and the mobi versions of the book.

Amazon provides a number of ways to load your eBooks on to your Kindle. For instance, you can email it to your Kindle address. Click the link in the first comment for their email instructions, however the “Other Ways to Send” column on the right side of the Amazon page also shows you the other options available to you.

Also, they seem to have finally realized that the trade paperback version of the book is available.

Lezli Robyn amplified:

Amazon has decided to block the ebook edition of Jewish Futures from being published after multiple emails where the publisher, Ian Randal Strock, tried to find out why and how he can get the ebook listed on their website (the paper and hardback editions are up there!), and they said they will “uphold” their decision to block it from publication.

Ian will try to find out tomorrow why they made this decision and attempt get it reversed, but if there is ever a time to buy a book directly off of the publisher’s website to support them and their authors, this is it. So much blood, sweat, and tears go into publishing a new title and everyone in the book world knows how important sales numbers are in the first week!

I’ve even emailed Amazon’s CEO but haven’t heard anything. We’ve had to remind people they can buy the ebook from the publisher directly or from Barnes & Noble.  

We’ve also heard that Amazon has delayed getting the print books shipped out, even though the week before it was #1 in a few pre-order categories.

Here is the anthology’s Table of Contents:

  • Introduction by Jack Dann
  • Shema by Samantha Katz
  • Mission Divergence by E.M. Ben Shaul
  • Rachel Nussbaum Saves the World by Esther Friesner
  • One Must Imagine by Harry Turtledove
  • Into Thin Heirs by Susan Shwartz
  • Proof of Alina by Riv Begun
  • Baby Golem by Barbara Krasnoff
  • Frummer House by Leah Cypess
  • Moon Melody by SM Rosenberg
  • Initial Engagement by Steven H Silver
  • Matzah Ball Soup for the Vershluggin Soul by Randee Dawn
  • The Ascent by S.I. Rosenbaum and Abraham Josephine Reisman
  • The Aliens of Chelm by Valerie Estelle Frankel
  • The Kuiper Gemara by Shane Tourtellotte
  • Legend Born by Robert Greenberger
  • The Last Chosen by Jordan King-Lacroix

If anyone is in Boston on August 23, we are having a book event at Brookline Booksmith with the editor, publisher, cover artist Eli Portman and three writers, E.M. Ben Shaul, S.I. Rosenbaum, Abraham Josephine Riesman.

(2) SHERIDAN AND DELENN. “Warner Bros. Releases New ‘Babylon 5: The Road Home’ Clip”Animation World Network has the story.

…In anticipation of the all-new original animated movie, a never-before-seen clip from the film, “Standing In The Shadows” has just been released! In the clip, John Sheridan (voiced by Bruce Boxleitner) expresses his second thoughts about leaving Babylon 5 to his wife, Delenn (voiced by Rebecca Reidy)….

(3) PROPOSAL SUBMITTED TO COURT IN SUIT AGAINST INTERNET ARCHIVE. “Copyright: Publishers, Internet Archive File Court Proposal” at Publishing Perspectives. “A proposed judgment bars Internet Archive from of offering ‘unauthorized copies’ of book publishers’ copyrighted content inside and outside the United States.” There’s also an unspecified payment involved.

This afternoon (August 11), the Association of American Publishers is confirming to Publishing Perspectives that the publisher-plaintiffs in the June 2020 lawsuit of the Internet Archive have submitted to the US District Court in the Southern District of New York a joint, negotiated proposal for Judge Koeltl’s consideration.

As our readers will remember, the plaintiffs—Hachette Book Group; HarperCollins Publishers; John Wiley & Sons; and Penguin Random House—received on March 24 an adamant ruling against the Internet Archive for its “Open Library” lending activities. In that ruling, the court deemed Internet Archive as liable for copyright infringement.

Today’s proposed consent judgment provides for a “stipulated permanent injunction,” according to the AAP’s media messaging, “preventing Internet Archive from offering unauthorized copies of the plaintiffs’ books to the global public under the manufactured theory of ‘controlled digital lending,’ and indicates that the parties have reached a confidential agreement on a monetary payment, all subject to Internet Archive’s right to appeal the case.”…

(4) ZOOM CHANGES ITS MIND. According to Gizmodo, “Zoom Backtracks on Training Its AI on Your Calls”.

After massive backlash over its wishy-washy communication regarding training artificial intelligence with customer data, Zoom wants to set the record straight. Today, Zoom issued an update to its previous announcement on its plans for AI to formally claim that the company will not use audio, video, chat, or similar data to train its AI models.

Zoom issued the update today to its original blog post, published earlier this week by Chief Product Officer Smita Hashim. Zoom’s terms of service stated that the company could use Customer Content—which is what Zoom calls audio, video, chat, attachments, screen-sharing, etc.—to train its own in-house or third-party AI models. On Monday, however, the blog post from Hashim promised that Zoom wouldn’t use Customer Content to train AI (except in some cases). Today, the company has updated Section 10 of its terms of service to no longer retain the legal right to use Customer Content to train any AI models. Zoom did not immediately return Gizmodo’s request for comment on what data sources these AI features will, in fact, be trained with…..

Here’s the opening paragraph of the Zoom Blog’s post “How Zoom’s terms of service and practices apply to AI features”.

It’s important to us at Zoom to empower our customers with innovative and secure communication solutions. We’ve updated our terms of service (in section 10) to further confirm that Zoom does not use any of your audio, video, chat, screen-sharing, attachments, or other communications like customer content (such as poll results, whiteboard, and reactions) to train Zoom’s or third-party artificial intelligence models. In addition, we have updated our in-product notices to reflect this.*

Zoom is still offering users access to a pair of AI features:

…two powerful generative AI features — Zoom IQ Meeting Summary and Zoom IQ Team Chat Compose — on a free trial basis to enhance your Zoom experience. These features offer automated meeting summaries and AI-powered chat composition. Zoom account owners and administrators control whether to enable these AI features for their accounts.

We inform you and your meeting participants when Zoom’s generative AI services are in use….

(5) I AM I SAID. Writer Beware’s Victoria Strauss looks into a service capitalizing on a topical concern in “Dear Author, Are You Human? Certifying Authenticity”.

It is a truth universally acknowledged, that where there is an issue of concern for writers, someone will find a way to monetize it….

In this fraught environment, it was probably inevitable that someone would come up with the idea of a service to certify or authenticate human authorship, and invite creators buy into it. This post takes a look at two such services.

The Authenticity Initiative

The originator of The Authenticity Initiative is Eliza Rae, who also offers social media, brand management, and PR services for authors. The Authenticity Initiative provides a seal to authors who pledge not to use AI-generated content in their work, along with a number of additional perks, including a newsletter and promotional opportunities. The cost: $50 per year.

Of course, as illustrated by the Bob the Wizard kerfluffle (in which a cover artist who swore their art was not AI-assisted turned out to be fibbing) as well as a general knowledge of human nature, the question is the degree to which a voluntary promise is actually equivalent to certification. I reached out to Eliza for comment, and you can see her response to that question in the Q&A below.

WRITER BEWARE: The Authenticity Initiative seems to rely on authors to self-certify that their work contains no AI-generated content. Do you have any concern that some authors may not be honest?

ELIZA RAE: Yes, that’s exactly correct. While technology and laws that govern AI are limited, we decided that a trust based platform for authors and readers to come together was the best way to service this aspect of the community until more legislation and/or publishing platforms have caught up to technology issues and the pitfalls of what is and is not considered legal to scrape or use to train generative AI software….

(6) MEDICAL UPDATE. StarShipSofa’s Tony C. Smith made an announcement to the District of Wonders email list.

…Some of you might know, some maybe not but I thought it only best to let you all know.

I have cancer (that feels so horrid to write). Bladder cancer.

As you can imagine this came as one f–king huge shock. Then it was discovered there might have been something on my lung… thank god… that was not the case… so just bladder cancer.

I go into hospital on the 15th August to have my bladder removed and from then on I’m on a bag. Total lifestyle chance but hopefully one I can put behind me and move on when it’s done.

One neat SF thing, the operation will be done by robot – the future is here!

(7) EATING THE FANTASTIC. Scott Edelman invites listeners to feast on Fettuccine Alfredo with Howard Bender on Episode 204 of the Eating the Fantastic podcast.

Howard Bender

Eating the Fantastic moves on to Pittsburgh for the first of three episodes harvested due to this year’s StokerCon taking place in that city. My conversation this time around didn’t take place because of that main event, though, but only because I remembered my guest happens to live in Pittsburgh, and I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to reminisce with him about the old days.

I met Howard Bender 49 years ago, the year we both began working in the Marvel Comics Bullpen. He worked as a letterer and artist in the Marvel Comics production department from 1974–1980, and then moved on to DC Comics in the same role, where he worked from 1981–1985. He’s drawn Superman stories in Action Comics, Dial H for Hero stories published in The New Adventures of Superboy, Ghostbusters for First Comics, and a variety of series for Archie Comics. He also collaborated with Jack C. Harris on a Sherlock Holmes comic strip in the ‘90s. These days, he can be found at markets and fairs all across Pittsburgh working as a caricature artist.

We discussed how desperate Marvel Comics must have been to have hired young kids like us, his role in founding the Pittsburgh Comics Club (and the way he paid homage to that club down the road in Dial H for Hero), the day he showed Stan Lee his art portfolio over dessert, how he started his career at Marvel using Jack Kirby’s taboret, the fact neither of us would have become who we turned out to be without Superman creators Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, how terrified we both were of production manager John Verpoorten, our first meetings with the late, great Johnny Romita, the important life lesson he learned from inker Mike Esposito, what he was glad he remembered you shouldn’t talk about with Steve Ditko, how Marie Severin inspired him in his current career as a caricaturist,  and so much more.

(8) NYT SFF CRITIC. Amal El-Mohtar reviews “Witches, Robots and Martial Artists, Ready for Battle” — new books by Juno Dawson, Emma Mieko Candon and Alexander Darwin — in the New York Times.

(9) BSFS BEAUTIFUL. Congratulations to the Baltimore Science Fiction Society on their revived clubhouse space. (By gosh, there’s a Dalek on the balcony!) See the photos at Facebook.

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born August 11, 1902 Jack BinderThrilling Wonder Stories in their October 1938 issue published his article, “If Science Reached the Earth’s Core”, where the first known use of the phrase “zero gravity” is known to happen. In the early Forties, he was an artist for Fawcett, Lev Gleason, and Timely Comics. During these years, he created the Golden Age character Daredevil which is not the Marvel Daredevil though he did work with Stan Lee where they co-created The Destroyer at Timely Comics. (Died 1986.)
  • Born August 11, 1923 Ben P. Indick. A member of First Fandom and prolific fanzine publisher. He wrote a handful of short genre fiction and two serious non-fiction works, The Drama of Ray Bradbury and George Alec Effinger: From Entropy to Budayeen. (Died 2009.)
  • Born August 11, 1928 Alan E. Nourse, 1928 – 1992. His connections to other SF writers are fascinating. Heinlein dedicated Farnham’s Freehold to Nourse, and in part dedicated Friday to Nourse’s wife Ann.  His novel The Bladerunner lent its name to the movie but nothing else from it was used in that story. However Blade Runner (a movie) written by, and I kid you not, William S. Burroughs, is based on his novel. Here the term “blade runner” refers to a smuggler of medical supplies, e.g. scalpels. (Died 1992.)
  • Born August 11, 1932 Chester  Anderson. His The Butterfly Kid is the first part of what is called the Greenwich Village Trilogy, with Michael Kurland writing the middle book, The Unicorn Girl, and the third volume, The Probability Pad, written by T.A. Waters. I can practically taste the acid from here… The Butterfly Kid, like all of these novels. is available from all the usual suspects. (Died 1991.)
  • Born August 11, 1949 Nate Bucklin, 74. Musician who has co-written songs with Stephen Brust and others. He wrote two Liavek anthology stories, “Dry Well” and “Strings Attached” He’s a founding member of the Scribblies, the Minneapolis writer’s group, and is also one of the founding members of the Minnesota Science Fiction Society, better known as Minn-stf. He spent four years as a member of the National Fantasy Fan Federation or N3F, and his correspondents included Greg Shaw, Walter Breen, and Piers Anthony. He’s been a filk guest of honor at five cons.
  • Born August 11, 1959 Alan Rodgers. Author of Bone Music, a truly great take off the Robert Johnson myth. His “The Boy Who Came Back From the Dead” novelette won the Bram Stoker Award for Best Long Fiction, and he was editor of Night Cry in the mid-Eighties. (Died 2014.)
  • Born August 11, 1961 Susan M. Garrett. She was a well-known and much liked writer, editor and publisher in many fandoms, but especially the Forever Knight community. (She also was active in Doctor Who and The Secret Adventures of Jules Verne fandoms. And no, I had no idea that the latter had a fandom.) She is perhaps best known for being invited to write a Forever Knight tie-in novel, Intimations of Mortality. (Died 2010.)
  • Born August 11, 1962 Brian Azzarello, 61. Comic book writer. First known crime series 100 Bullets, published by Vertigo. Writer of DC’s relaunched Wonder Woman series several years back. One of the writers in the Before Watchmen limited series. Co-writer with Frank Miller of the sequel to The Dark Knight ReturnsThe Dark Knight III: The Master Race.

(11) COMICS SECTION.

(12) GENERALIZATION ALERT. BookRiot’s Alice Nuttall asks, “Science Fiction Is Inherently Rebellious — So Why Don’t Some of Its Fans Think So?”

My husband and I are currently watching Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, me for the first time, him for about the billionth. After watching one episode where religious fundamentalists insist that the space station’s school teach their holy stories instead of scientific fact, and bomb the school when the teacher doesn’t agree, my husband leaned over to me and commented “But you know, Star Trek was never political.”

“[Sci fi story] was never political” is a running joke of ours, usually said with an eye roll and a bitter laugh at the complaint du jour about sci-fi stories that dare to centre anyone who isn’t a white, cishet man. Sci-fi has been decried as “political” for telling stories about people of colour or women (and predictably, some of the worst backlashes have come when a central character happens to be a woman of colour). Stories have been panned or banned for including LGBTQ+ people and relationships.

Writers who share the marginalisations of their characters are at the greatest risk of being harassed and attacked for daring to publish in a space that reactionary gatekeepers see as “theirs”. The ‘Sad Puppies’ campaign was a coordinated attempt by right-wing, “anti-diversity” pundits to influence the results of the Hugo Awards and push works by authors of colour, women, and LGBTQ+ people to the sidelines. Fortunately, it was unsuccessful — and not only because it was a clumsy, transparent attempt at attacking diversity. The fact is that sci-fi has never been a white, cishet, male, or conservative domain. It has always been a space for subversion, radical thinking, and rebelliousness — and marginalised people have been there from the beginning….

(13) PUMP BROTHERS, PUMP WITH CARE. This idea sucks, but does that mean it’s actually no good? “U.S. to Fund a $1.2 Billion Effort to Vacuum Greenhouse Gases From the Sky” reports the New York Times.

The Biden administration will spend $1.2 billion to help build the nation’s first two commercial-scale plants to vacuum carbon dioxide pollution from the atmosphere, a nascent technology that some scientists say could be a breakthrough in the fight against global warming, but that others fear is an extravagant boondoggle.

Jennifer Granholm, the energy secretary, announced Friday that her agency would fund two pilot projects that would deploy the disputed technology, known as direct air capture.

Occidental Petroleum will build one of the plants in Kleberg County, Texas, and Battelle, a nonprofit research organization, will build the other in Calcasieu Parish on the Louisiana coast. The federal government and the companies will equally split the cost of building the facilities.

“These projects are going to help us prove out the potential of these next-generation technologies so that we can add them to our climate crisis fighting arsenal, and one of those technologies includes direct air capture, which is essentially giant vacuums that can suck decades of old carbon pollution straight out of the sky,” Ms. Granholm said on a telephone call with reporters on Thursday.

The 2021 bipartisan infrastructure law included $3.5 billion to fund the construction of four commercial-scale direct air capture plants. Friday’s announcement covered the first two.

Oil and gas companies lobbied for the direct air capture money to be included in the law, arguing that the world could continue to burn fossil fuels if it had a way to clean up their planet-warming pollution….

(14) CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE CLUCKY KIND. What does that mean? You’ll understand after you see the video of this unidentified flying coop on Tumblr.

(15) MAN OF A THOUSAND FLAVORS. Here’s another exotic collectible, the Chaney Entertainment Hot Sauce 5-Pack from Jade City Foods.

Here’s a close-up of one of the labels.

(16) DUNE WHAT COMES NATURALLY. “’Futurama’ meets ‘Dune’ in action-packed, exclusive clip” at Mashable.

The beloved sci-fi comedy Futurama is no stranger to Frank Herbert’s Dune, featuring nods to stillsuits and space worms. But with its newly launched 11th seasonFuturama takes its Dune tributes to a whole new level.

In an exclusive clip from the upcoming episode “Parasites Regained” (a spiritual sequel to Season 3’s “Parasites Lost,” perhaps?), we see Fry, Leela, Zoidberg, and Bender struggling to brave a mysterious desert landscape. There, they encounter a fearsome sandworm that looks like an oranger, fuzzier version of the show-stealing sandworms of Denis Villeneuve’s Dune. We also get Futurama‘s version of the powerful spice melange, a psychedelic drug that turns Leela’s eyes orange instead of Dune‘s classic blue-within-blue….

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

Pixel Scroll 5/30/23 Wouldn’t You Love To Teach The File To Scroll In Pixel Harmony?

(1) MEMORIAL DAY CONTINUED. Rob Hansen forwarded the link to a Find-A-Grave page devoted to PFC Alden L Ackerman (1924-1945), Forry’s brother, who died in the Battle of the Bulge.

He also sent this link to the Fancyclopedia page on War, which at the bottom has a list of fans and writers who died in World War II that we know of.

Sam Moskowitz paid tribute to them at Newarkon II (1946) the first post-war con: Fantasy Times 12. Read his speech at the link.

(2) GETTING THERE IS HALF THE FUN. Cora Buhlert is still working on her Metropol Con report. However, she has completed her post about her adventures in Berlin before the con began. Includes a visit to an awesome bookstore: “Cora’s Adventures at Metropol Con in Berlin, Part 1: Pre-Con Wanderings”.

…In many ways I was reminded of one of my first visits to Berlin in the spring of 1990, when the Wall was already open, but East Germany still existed as a state. At the time, we decided to walk from the Victory column in (West) Berlin to the Brandenburg Gate. Because the Wall and the Gate were open, we just walked through and had our passports stamped by the friendliest East German border guard I’ve ever seen and just kept walking into East Berlin, walking along famous streets and buildings we knew existed, but had never actually seen, until we reached Alexanderplatz (BTW, I tried to walk that memorable route again from the other side and gave up halfway through, because it’s a very long walk and I’m no longer 16), got tired and decided to take the train back to West Berlin. So we went to Friedrichstraße station and looked at the network plan on the platform, only to find a huge gray hole where West Berlin should be. So I went to a train attendant and told him, “We need to go back to West Berlin to Uhlandstraße station [at any rate, I think it was Uhlandstraße], but West Berlin doesn’t exist on your map, so which train do I need to take?” The East Berlin train attendant apologised for the maps – they hadn’t gotten around to replacing them yet – and told me which train to take….

(3) THE CWCU. Literary Hub’s Joel Cuthbertson is a fan: “In Praise of Sci-Fi Legend Connie Willis’s Cinematic Universe”.

Whenever a film buff brings up The Philadelphia Story, I like to shock them with blasphemy. A foundational Hollywood picture, the 1940 film stars Cary Grant, Jimmy Stewart, and Katherine Hepburn at the height of their powers, a nuclear trio of contrasting charms, the suave versus the folksy versus the imperious. My sin is that I prefer its slick remake. Released in 1956, High Society is not as edgy, complicated, or electric. The star trio—Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra, and Grace Kelly—still radiates, but gently and casually. Aside from adding musical numbers, the film’s main goal is to capture an echo of interwar charm in Technicolor.

If this is an elaborate way to introduce Connie Willis, sci-fi’s queen of time travel fiction, we find ourselves already close to the heart of her work, which thrives on unlikely crossovers. A devotee of Golden Age cinema, Willis has authored at least ten standalone novels and dozens of novellas and short stories. She’s the kind of movie enthusiast guaranteed to have an opinion on Bing versus Cary and Grace versus Katherine, and the kind of novelist to include the debate as a plot point.

Her newest, The Road to Roswell (out June 27th from Del Rey), is an ode to westerns, road trip movies, late-night creature features, and any scene where a guy and a gal share a look and know they’re in love. But it’s only the latest in a long line of film-loving fiction. In 1995, her sci-fi satire Remake took aim not only at Hollywood’s IPO vampirism but its faddish moralism as well. This was before there was a single Star Wars prequel….

(4) NO SEX, PLEASE, WE’RE FANNISH. At Vox.com, Aja Romano talks about the rise of Puritanism in fanfiction and elsewhere on the internet: “Fandom, purity culture, and the rise of the anti-fan”.

How did the internet become so puritanical? On social media, outspoken anti-sex advocates increasingly cry “gross” at everything from R-rated rom-coms to fictional characters and queer people having sex to consenting adults with slight age gaps to dating short people. They see oversexualization in just about everything. They often accuse the things they dislike of being coded fronts for pedophilia, and the people who enjoy those things of being sexual predators. These social media users frequently form enclaves that turn as nightmarish and troubling as the things they’re ostensibly trying to police.

This dovetails with what we’re being told right now about Gen Z and sex: They’re having less casual sex, they hate dating, they’re more reserved about relationships in general. It’s easy to pigeonhole online anti-sex police as being teens and young adults, a.k.a. “puriteens.” Because so much of this comes down to carnal horror, you might assume that everyone who’s horrified is a teen who just hasn’t arrived at a mature view of sex and other adult activity. Such anti-sex zeal increasingly forces sex-positive communities back into the internet’s underground. It also aids and abets the larger cultural shift toward regressive attitudes and censorship of sexual minorities and sex-positive content.

Yet overwhelmingly, the common thread among this new generation of “antis” — a broad label for people who are opposed to sexual content in media — isn’t that they are minors who are scared of sex. It’s that none of them distinguish between fictional harm and real-world harm. That is, regardless of their ages, they believe fiction not only can have a real-world impact, but that it always has a real-world impact.

(5) TURNING THE PAGE ON A NEW SEASON. Amal El-Mohtar picks new sff novels for summer by authors Fonda Lee, Martha Wells, Nick Harkaway, Kelly Link and Emma Törzs: “The Magic (and Malaise) of Families” in the New York Times.

….Emma Törzs’s INK BLOOD SISTER SCRIBE (William Morrow, 407 pp., $30) is astonishing and pristine, the kind of debut I love to be devastated by, already so assured and sophisticated that it’s difficult to imagine where the author can go from here.

In Törzs’s world, books of magic, all written in human blood, can do incredible things when someone feeds them a drop of blood and reads them aloud. Abe Kalotay collected these books to protect them from falling into the wrong hands, and raised his daughters, Joanna and Esther, as stewards of a beautiful and dangerous library that had to be kept hidden at all costs; in Esther’s infancy, her mother was murdered by powerful people who wanted the books….

(6) SCENE PAST ITS OFF-SALE DATE. “’Monty Python’ Star John Cleese Says ‘Life Of Brian’ Scene Won’t Be Cut Despite Modern Sensitivites” reports Deadline.

The Monty Python crew always looked on the bright side of life when it came to its classic film parody, The Life of Brian.

But Monty Python star John Cleese insists he never said that he would remove a politically incorrect scene from a stage adaptation of Life of Brian, even though the film’s 1979 sensibilities will not draw quite the laughs it once did, owing to the rise of trans issues awareness.

Cleese claims it was “misreported” that he was planning to cut the “Loretta” scene for an upcoming stage adaptation of the religious satire film. Instead, he said he has “no intention” of removing it.

The scene in question features a male character declaring that he wants to be woman named “Loretta,” and wants to have a child. Cleese’s character tells the man that the notion is ridiculous, while another suggests that they all advocate for his right to childbearing.

“I want to be a woman. … It’s my right as a man,” the character claims “I want to have babies… It’s every man’s right to have babies if he wants them.” After Cleese’s protest, the character snaps, “Don’t you oppress me!”

Obviously, times have changed the impact of that humor….

(7) BOOK ‘EM, DANNO. “Wake Up Besties, the Barbie and Ken Mugshot Meme is Everywhere”. People have been running with it, creating their own version using other characters.There’s a roundup of several dozen of these tweets at Gizmodo.

After an eagle-eyed Twitter user (@kojironanjo) realized that the Barbie trailer was ripe for meme-ification, Twitter fandom did what fandom does best, and immediately took the joke to the extreme. Reaching all corners of the world, fandoms immediately drew their favorite pairings using the Barbie mugshot screenshots as inspiration. With Margot Robbie’s concerned Barbie and Ryan Gosling’s cheesing Ken, the absurdity was truly just too good.

The key is having one character look slightly terrified and utterly baffled and possibly regretting every choice that has ever led to them getting their mugshot taken and the second character has to be a complete and total himbo, just an absolute dummy, no thoughts, just vibes….

Here’s an example:

(8) MEMORY LANE.

2013[Written by Cat Eldridge from a choice by Mike Glyer.]

Sofia Samatar’s A Stranger in Olondria is the source of our Beginning this time.

It was published by Small Beer Press, the source of oh so many wonderful publications, a decade ago. It’s now available from the usual suspects. Josh Hurley’s the narrator of the outstanding audio version. 

It was her first novel and it won the William L. Crawford Fantasy Award, the BFA Robert Holdstock Award and the World Fantasy Award. She won the Astounding Award for Best New Writer the same year.

She has now published two genre novels. Oh, and The White Mosque A Memoir by her is outstanding. It’s about a trip to Uzbekistan in search of the followers of a century-gone Russian Mennonite religious leader. (Her bio says she’s Somali and Mennonite.) 

And now for the Beginning…

Childhood in Tyron

As I was a stranger in Olondria, I knew nothing of the splendor of its coasts, nor of Bain, the Harbor City, whose lights and colors spill into the ocean like a cataract of roses. I did not know the vastness of the spice markets of Bain, where the merchants are delirious with scents, I had never seen the morning mists adrift above the surface of the green Illoun, of which the poets sing; I had never seen a woman with gems in her hair, nor observed the copper glinting of the domes, nor stood upon the melancholy beaches of the south while the wind brought in the sadness from the sea. Deep within the Fayaleith, the Country of the Wines, the clarity of light can stop the heart: it is the light the local people call “the breath of angels” and is said to cure heartsickness and bad lungs. Beyond this is the Balinfeil, where, in the winter months, the people wear caps of white squirrel fur, and in the summer months the goddess Love is said to walk and the earth is carpeted with almond blossom. But of all this I knew nothing. I knew only of the island where my mother oiled her hair in the glow of a rush candle, and terrified me with stories of the Ghost with No Liver, whose sandals slap when he walks because he has his feet on backwards.

My name is Jevick. I come from the blue and hazy village of Tyom, on the western side of Tinimavet in the Tea Islands. From Tyom, high on the cliffs, one can sometimes see the green coast of Jiev, if the sky is very clear; but when it rains, and all the light is drowned in heavy clouds, it is the loneliest village in the world. It is a three-day journey to Pitot, the nearest village, riding on one of the donkeys of the islands, and to travel to the port of Dinivolim in the north requires at least a fortnight in the draining heat. In Tyom, in an open court, stands my father’s house, a lofty building made of yellow stone, with a great arched entryway adorned with hanging plants, a flat roof, and nine shuttered rooms. And nearby, outside the village, in a valley drenched with rain, where the brown donkeys weep with exhaustion, where the flowers melt away and are lost in the heat, my father had his spacious pepper farm.

This farm was the source of my father’s wealth and enabled him to keep the stately house, to maintain his position on the village council, and carry a staff decorated with red dye. The pepper bushes, voluptuous and green under the haze, spoke of riches with their moist and pungent breath; my father used to rub the dried corns between his fingers to give his fingertips the smell of gold. But if he was wealthy in some respects, he was poor in others: there were only two children in our house, and the years after my birth passed without hope of another, a misfortune generally blamed on the god of elephants. My mother said the elephant god was jealous and resented our father’s splendid house and fertile lands; but I knew that it was whispered in the village that my father had sold his unborn children to the god. I had seen people passing the house nudge one another and say, “He paid seven babies for that palace”; and sometimes our laborers sang a vicious work song: “Here the earth is full of little bones.” Whatever the reason, my father’s first wife had never conceived at all, while the second wife, my mother, bore only two children: my elder brother Jom, and myself. Because the first wife had no child, it was she whom we always addressed as Mother, or else with the term of respect, eti-donvati, “My Father’s Wife”; it was she who accompanied us to festivals, prim and disdainful, her hair in two black coils above her ears. Our real mother lived in our room with us, and my father and his wife called her “Nursemaid,” and we children called her simply by the name she had borne from girlhood: Kiavet, which means Needle. She was round-faced and lovely, and wore no shoes. Her hair hung loose down her back. At night she told us stories while she oiled her hair and tickled us with a gull’s feather.

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born May 30, 1908 Mel Blanc. Where to begin? Yes, he delightfully voiced Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Porky Pig, and a multitude of other characters from the Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies cartoons. Blanc made his debut in 1940 “A Wild Hare”. Did you know that he created the voice and laugh of Woody Woodpecker but stopped doing it after the first three shorts as he was signed then to an exclusive Warner contract? His laughs did continue to get used however. Blanc, aware of his talents, fiercely protected the rights to his voice characterizations contractually and legally. (Died 1989.)
  • Born May 30, 1914 Bruce Elliott. His fifteen stories in The Shadow magazine in the late Forties are generally held in low esteem by Shadow fans because of his handling of the character, best noted by the three stories in which the Shadow does not appear at all in his costumed identity. Oh, the horror! He also wrote three genre novels — The Planet of ShameAsylum Earth and, errr, The Rivet in Grandfather’s Neck. And he had stories in The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction including “Wolves Don’t Cry” and “The Last Magician”. (Died 1973.)
  • Born May 30, 1919 Ronald Chetwynd-Hayes. British author best known for his ghost and horror stories though his first published work was the SF novel The Man from the Bomb in the late Fifties. The Monster Club, a series of linked tales, is a good place to start with him if you’ve not read him and it became a film with Vincent Price co-starring John Carradine. He won the Bram Stoker Award for Lifetime Achievement, and also a British Fantasy Society Special Award. (Died 2001.)
  • Born May 30, 1922 Hal Clement. I’m reasonably sure Mission of Gravity was the first novel I read by him though I’ve not re-read it so the Suck Fairy not been tested. Much to my surprise, his only Hugo was a Retro Hugo for a short story, “Uncommon Sense” which he got at L.A. Con III. He did get the First Fandom Award. My favorite novel by him is Mission of Gravity, and I’m also fond of The Best of Hal Clement which collects much of his wonderful short work. He’s reasonably well stocked at the usual suspects. (Died 2003.)
  • Born May 30, 1936 Keir Dullea, 87. David Bowman in 2001: A Space Odyssey and its sequel, 2010: The Year We Make Contact. I know I saw 2001 several times and loved it but I’ll be damned if I can remember seeing 2010. He’s done a number of other genre films, Brave New WorldSpace Station 76, Valley of the Gods and Fahrenheit 451. And lest we forget he was Devon in Starlost. 
  • Born May 30, 1952 Mike W. Barr, 71. Writer of comics and sf novels. Created along with Jim Aparo Looker (Emily “Lia” Briggs), a hero in the DC Universe. She first appeared first appeared in Batman & the Outsiders #25. He worked for both major houses though I’d say most of his work was at DC. He wrote the “Paging the Crime Doctor” episode of Batman: The Animated Series
  • Born May 30, 1971 Duncan Jones, 52. Director whose films include Moon (2009) which won a Hugo for Best Dramatic Presentation-Long Form and a BAFTA Award for Outstanding Debut by a British Writer, Director or Producer, and Source Code (2011) which was nominated for both a Hugo and a Ray Bradbury Award. He also directed Warcraft (2016), which up to that year was the highest grossing video game adaptation of all time. He is totally not best known for being David Bowie’s son. (Alan Baumler)

(10) COMICS SECTION.

(11) JOCULARITY. In the New York Times, Paul Rudnick reveals “What Would Happen if a Robot Tried to Write ‘Law & Order’?” – and a number of other shows.

As the strike by unions representing thousands of film and TV writers approaches its second month, the role that A.I. might play in writing scripts remains one of the biggest issues. While the Writers Guild of America has expressed a willingness to work with A.I. as a tool, some producers are dreaming bigger: They want to replace humans with chatbots. What might A.I.-written scripts look like? Here’s a guess:

Prompt: An episode of any “Law & Order” series.

Scene 1

DETECTIVE: Someone has killed this dead body.

Scene 2

DETECTIVE: Did you kill that dead body?

CRIMINAL: No! I’m not a criminal!

Scene 3

DISTRICT ATTORNEY: Did you kill that dead body? And remember, you’re under oath.

CRIMINAL: No! Yes! But it was during a double-cross over a deal for buttcoin.

JUDGE: Spell check!

(12) COSPLAY, BOOKS, AND SCIENCE ALL IN ONE PLACE. The Baltimore Banner has a gallery of photos from last weekend’s convention: “Welcome all aliens to Balticon”. Includes a photo at the autograph table with a kind of what-was-strange-about-the-dog-in-the-night caption that tells about Adam Stemple (often mentioned here on File 770) but doesn’t name the other person in the picture – who happens to be John Scalzi.

Welcome, aliens! Balticon 57 is the area’s oldest science-fiction convention and by far the largest. It’s also the first of such conventions each year.

Balticon can be described as a “Big Tent” four-day celebration of science fiction and fantasy hosted by the Baltimore Science Fiction Society at the at Renaissance Baltimore Harborplace Hotel….

(13) TINY TYRANOSAURS. At Vanity Fair, Anthony Breznican has a great article about the making of the alien invasion TV show V“The ‘V’ Files: The Shocking Legacy of an ’80s Sci-Fi Cult Classic”.

Even 40 years later, V is still getting under people’s skin. The writer, producer, and director Kenneth Johnson has never stopped getting fan mail about the miniseries he created back in 1983, which rattled America with its depiction of cold-blooded authoritarians conquering the world. The invaders in red jumpsuits, dark glasses, and ball caps were actually beings from another planet, but Johnson intended the sci-fi drama to be more than mere escapism. To him, it was a warning.

When he gets new letters from viewers, Johnson opens them hoping they got the message, which seems as obvious to him now as it did back then. “I got to thinking, God, how would everyday people feel if suddenly there was a sea change in our life that turned it all around, if suddenly some hyper power rolled over us, just like the Nazis rolled into Europe?” he says. But in recent years, far-right conspiracy theorists, QAnon followers, and garden-variety lunatics have instead homed in on the fact that V’s extraterrestrials were secretly reptilians disguised as humans to mislead us. Many harbor a sincere belief that a reptoid cabal really does control the world. “I’ve gotten emails over the years and letters from people on the fringes who say, ‘Oh, you get it!’” Johnson says. “‘You know that there are lizards among us!’”…

(14) CAN YOU IMAGINE? Collections Etc. brings you a Fully-Functioning Tiny Arcade Atari 2600 Console – how bizarre!

Fully functional, detailed mini replica of the Atari 2600 game has all the classic features of the system you loved in the 80s! 10 games include Combat, Warlords, Millipede, Tempest, Centipede, Pong, Missile Command, Asteroids, Breakout, and Pac-Man! Includes hi-res TV with adjustable screen, iconic 2600 joystick and classic game console. Req. 3 “AAA” batteries (sold separately). Plastic. Ages 8 years & up. TV is 6″L x 5″W x 4″H.

(15) UNSEEN MENACE. Fear The Invisible Man will be released in the UK on June 13.

Outline: In an intriguing narrative, a youthful widow from Britain offers sanctuary to a former medical school comrade who has mysteriously acquired the ability to render himself unseen. As his seclusion intensifies and his mental stability unravels, he plots to unleash a merciless wave of slaughter and dread throughout the city, with the widow serving as the sole harbinger of his existence.

[Thanks to Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, John King Tarpinian, Rob Hansen, Cora Buhlert, Michael J. Walsh, Chris Barkley, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, and SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Dan’l Danehy-Oakes.]

Pixel Scroll 5/10/23 Not Just Another Scroll Title. This One Has Heart. And Humanity. Four Pixels!

(1) “BIGOLAS DICKOLAS WOLFWOOD ENERGY”? [Item by Soon Lee.] Four years after release, This Is How You Lose the Time War by Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone rocketed up to number 6 in the Amazon overall book rankings (it’s number one in a number of categories). And it is all thanks to a recommendation tweet from an account named “Bigolas Dickolas”, a fan account for the “Trigun” anime. Amal El-Mohtar tweeted a link.

This Is How You Lose the Time War is a Hugo, Nebula, and BSFA winner so it’s not like it wasn’t critically acclaimed. I loved it. But for a book to climb into the Amazon Top 10 four years after release is not something that happens. Let alone it happening because an anime fan account tweeted about it. Stunned and delighted reactions all round.

My TL;DR

Bigolas Dickolas has done for “This is How You Lose the Time War” what “Stranger Things” did for “Running Up That Hill”.

Several more write-ups here:

DongWon Song (Amal El-Mohtar’s agent) commented:

(2) THIS IS THE WINTER OF OUR DISCONTENT MODERATION. Charlie Jane Anders’ Happy Dancing newsletter offers “Some (Probably) Worthless Thoughts About Content Moderation”. Spoiler: They are far from worthless.

… Twitter has long had a feature where you can choose to see notifications only from people you follow, which is great in theory. If you have that box checked on Twitter, you’ll only see replies and quote-tweets from the people you’ve decided to trust — but in practice, if your tweet gets a ton of hostile replies and quote-tweets, you will absolutely know about it. It’ll show up if you look at the permalink for your actual tweet, but also your trusted followers will inevitably start arguing with the folks you don’t follow. Plus, it requires a lot of willpower to avoid looking at a swarm of replies or quote-tweets when you know they’re there.

Plus as I’ve said above, even if you decide you don’t want to see hate group posts, you’ll still find out about it if they target you. It’s impossible to ignore at a certain point.

Here’s a good place to mention that I’m enjoying Bluesky a lot so far — a ton of Black Twitter folks who were turned off by Mastodon’s well-documented racism problem are hanging out there, along with many other folks I enjoyed chatting with on Twitter. But I’m also very aware that I’m enjoying it, in part, because it’s still a small community and we’re at the start, rather than the end, of the “enshittification” process*….

(3) AI IS MY COPILOT. [Item by Anne Marble.] If you see people getting upset with publishers asking for AI submissions, here is one example. In a Special Submissions Call, Space and Time Magazine is asking authors to collaborate with AI for a unique issue. This submissions call did not go over well…

Here are the first two of many tweeted responses:

(4) GREMLINS PREQUEL ARRIVES. Animation World Network has the story: “Max Shares ‘Gremlins: Secrets of The Mogwai’ Official Trailer”.

Max (formerly HBO Max) has dropped an official trailer and poster for Gremlins: Secrets of the Mogwai, the highly anticipated 3DCG animated prequel series to the iconic Gremlins film franchise. The show debuts May 23, followed by two new episodes released weekly on Thursdays.

The new series takes viewers back to 1920s Shanghai, where the Wing family first meets the young Mogwai called Gizmo. Sam Wing (future shop owner Mr. Wing in the 1984 Gremlins film) accepts the dangerous task of taking Gizmo home and embarks on a journey through the Chinese countryside. Sam and Gizmo are joined by a teenage street thief named Elle, and together, they encounter—and sometimes battle—colorful monsters and spirits from Chinese folklore. Along their quest, they are pursued by a power-hungry industrialist and his growing army of evil Gremlins….

Gremlins: Secrets of the Mogwai, from executive producers Steven Spielberg and Tze Chun premieres May 23 on Max.

(5) J.M. COSTER MEMOIR. “Your Tongue Remembers” is introduced by Sarah Gailey as “Jen Coster’s reflections on language, food, and what it means to be loved.”

…During my childhood, my parents were learning English while I was forgetting the little bit of Chinese that I knew. We spoke to each other in fits and starts, each of us hurt (in the exact same but also completely different ways) by the lack of understanding. With my grandmother, I barely spoke at all. She didn’t know English, and I was eventually too ashamed of my broken Chinese to try.

And yet, China was my first home, and Chinese was my first language. At some point in my early life, it was all I knew. Even though I don’t remember what it was like to have those musical words fall from my mouth at the speed of thought, there are certain shapes my mouth still knows how to make, certain tones my ears still know how to hear—things my mind and body have held on to as a record of my past.

The words that my tongue remembers, though it’s clumsy in the shaping of them, are mostly related to food.

It always comes back to food.

I don’t know what it’s like to have to make concessions related to cultural identity, for success to require the rejection of things that make up the fabric of you, for victory to feel like surrender. But I do know what it feels like to grieve the loss of something I never really had in the first place….

(6) EKPEKI TAKES ON IAFA ROLE. International Association for the Fantastic in the Arts (IAFA) announced on Facebook they have appointed Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki as their Virtual Conference Coordinator.

(7) CSSF WORKSHOP OPPORTUNITY. Applications are being taken for the online CSSF Speculative Fiction Writing Workshop. 

This intensive, 2-week creative writing course will be taught online by RB Lemberg, author of the acclaimed novellas The Four Profound Weaves (2020) and The Unbalancing (2022) and finalist for the prestigious Nebula Award for best science fiction or fantasy published in the United States.

Lemberg will bring their expertise in writing and publishing speculative fiction—an umbrella category that includes science fiction, horror, fantasy narratives, magical realism, and the like—to instruct students in the creation and polishing of their own imaginative work. Students will read an assortment of SFF short stories for discussions of craft and stylistic choices, and participate in writing exercises and peer review workshops. Each class member should come prepared with at least one short story they are prepared to share and revise. 

June 12 – June 23, 2023 (Monday – Friday)

4:30 – 7:30 pm (Central US/Canada), with synchronous and asynchronous elements. 

Cost and Enrollment:

NON-CREDIT-SEEKING STUDENTS: $500 for 2-wk session – Register here

CREDIT-SEEKING KU STUDENTS: Enroll via https://classes.ku.edu/ – ENGL 757 (Summer 2023)

Small scholarships available – 1st come, 1st served. Email us with your name, contact information, institution (if applicable), connection to the Gunn Center (if any).

(8) 2024 STURGEON SYMPOSIUM DESIGN CONTEST. If you have an inspiration for next year’s Sturgeon Symposium t-shirt design it could be worth $250 to you.

The J. Wayne & Elsie M. Gunn Center for the Study of Science Fiction (CSSF) is dedicated to research and education in science fiction and other speculative forms, such as fantasy, horror, Afrofuturism, fanfiction, and neo-Gothic narratives. We believe that through our encounters with different worlds, we come to know the one we all share; we also become better equipped to create new possibilities within it. Our ongoing mission is to foster a global community of students, scholars, artists, educators, and enthusiasts who are interested in exploring the limitless potential of the human imagination, whether that be to question, to play, or to dream about the future.

The Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award, offered annually for the best published science fiction short story of the previous year, will be presented at the Sturgeon Symposium, where scholars, artists, educators, students, and enthusiasts come together to discuss and learn about new work in the field. The winning design will be featured on T-shirts sold to generate funds for the 2024 symposium and on flyers used to promote the event. Help us showcase the limitless potential of the human imagination!

The 2024 Sturgeon Symposium will be honoring the foundational work of Samuel R. Delaney to the field and study of Science Fiction. Inspired by his 1984 science fiction novel, Stars in My Pocket Like Grains of Sand, the theme of this year Design contest is “Stars in Our Pockets.”

To Enter:

  • Submit your original design(s) by 11:59 pm on 18 August 2023 to [email protected]. Include name, email address, and phone number with entry.
  • File(s) should be submitted as a .pdf, .jpb, .png, .ai, or .eps with dimensions of 1500px by 1500px.
  • Designs should be front of t-shirt only and can include up to 4 colors.
  • Transparent artwork preferred. Avoid gradients.

Judges will consider:

  • how well each design celebrates the concepts of science fiction and/or the speculative
  • how well each design represents KU’s Gunn Center for the Study of SF
  • how well each design builds energy for the 2024 Sturgeon Symposium

By entering the contest, you agree and acknowledge that:

  • You have read, understood, and will abide by the contest rules, terms, and conditions.
  • If your design is selected as the winning entry, you grant the Center for the Study of Science Fiction a non-exclusive license to reproduce, distribute, display, and create derivative works of your submitted design (the “Work”) on promotional materials and marketing materials such as t-shirts, posters, brochures, and digital media.
  • You warrant that you are the original creator of the Work and that it does not infringe upon the rights of any third parties, including, but not limited to, copyright, trademark, and rights of publicity or privacy.

Winner will be announced at the Sturgeon Award ceremony, Date and Time TBD Questions? Contact The Gunn Center for the Study of SF – [email protected] https://sfcenter.ku.edu/

This is last year’s winning design:

(9) MEMORY LANE.

2019[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

Sarah Pinsker’s A Song for a New Day was her Nebula-winning debut novel. It was also nominated for a Compton Crook Award. Those folk in Baltimore have stellar taste in SF novels, don’t they?

It is a wonderful read (no spoilers there) and I surprised to learn that she wrote but one more novel to date. I’ve read this novel but haven’t read We Are Satellites, so am very interested in what y’all think of it.

A Song for a New Day was published by Berkley Books. 

And here is her splendid Beginning. Warning: fatal violence involving Muppets occurs here. It really does. 

172 Ways 

There were, to my knowledge, one hundred and seventy-two ways to wreck a hotel room. We had brainstormed them all in the van over the last eight months on the road. As a game, I’d thought: 61, turn all the furniture upside down; 83, release a pack of feral cats; 92, fill all the drawers with beer, or, 93, marbles; 114, line the floor with soapy plastic and turn it into a slip ’n’ slide; etc., etc. 

In my absence, my band had come up with the one hundred and seventy-third, and had for the first time added in a test run. I was not proud. 

What would Gemma do if she were here? I stepped all the way into their room instead of gawking from the hallway and closed the door before any hotel employees could walk past, pressing the button to illuminate the DO NOT DISTURB sign for good measure. “Dammit, guys. This is a nice hotel. What the hell did you do?”

“We found some paint.” Hewitt’s breath smelled like a distillery’s dumpster. He lingered beside me in the vestibule.”

“You’re a master of understatement.” 

All their bags and instruments were crammed into the closet by the entrance. The room itself was painted a garish neon pink, which it definitely hadn’t been when I’d left that morning. Not only the walls, either: the headboards, the nightstand, the dresser. The spatter on the carpet suggested somebody had knifed a Muppet and let it crawl away to die. For all the paint, Hewitt’s breath was still the overwhelming odor.

“Even the TV?” I asked. “Really?” 

The television, frame and screen. Cable news blared behind a drippy film of pink, discussing the new highway only for self-driving cars. We’d be avoiding that one. 

JD lounged on the far bed, holding a glass of something caramel colored. His shoes were pink. The bedspread, the site of another Muppet Murder.

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born May 10, 1863 Cornelius Shea. As SFE puts it, “author for the silent screen and author of dime novels (see Dime-Novel SF), prolific in many categories but best remembered for marvel stories using a fairly consistent ‘mythology’ of dwarfs, subterranean eruptions, and stage illusion masquerading as supernatural magic.” To my surprise, only two of his novels are in the Internet Archive. (Died 1920.)
  • Born May 10, 1886 Olaf Stapledon. Original and almost unimaginable, Last and First Men, his first novel (!) written in 1930 extends over two billion years. Who could follow that?  He did, with Star Maker, over 100 billion years. Their range, imagination, and grandeur may still be unequaled. He was, however – or to his credit – depending on how you see things – an avowed atheist.  Odd John, about a spiritual-intellectual superman, may be tragic, or heroic, or both. Darkness and the Light was nominated for a Retro-Hugo At WorldCon 76 as was Sirius: A Fantasy of Love and Discord at CoNZealand. He was the first recipient of the Cordwainer Smith Rediscovery Award in 2001 and voted into the Science Fiction Hall of Fame in 2014. (Died 1950.)
  • Born May 10, 1891 Earl Askam. He played Officer Torch, the captain of Ming the Merciless’s guards, in the 1936 Flash Gordon serial. It’s his only genre appearance though he did have an uncredited role in a Perry Mason film where the SJW credential was the defendant in a Perry Mason murder case, The Case of Black Cat. I haven’t seen the film but it’s got cool poster. (Died 1940.)
  • Born May 10, 1899 Fred Astaire. Yes, that actor. He showed up on the original  Battlestar Galactica as Chameleon / Captain Dimitri In “The Man with Nine Lives” episode. Stunt casting I assume.  He had only two other genre roles as near as I can tell which were voicing The Wasp in the English-language adaptation of the Japanese Wasp anime series, and being in a film called Ghost Story. They came nearly twenty years apart and were the last acting roles that he did. (Died 1987.)
  • Born May 10, 1963 Rich Moore, 60. He directed Wreck-It Ralph and co-directed Zootopia and Ralph Breaks the Internet; he has worked on Futurama. Might be stretching the definition of genre (or possibly not), but he did the animation for “Spy vs. Spy” for MADtv. You can see the first one here.
  • Born May 10, 1969 John Scalzi, 54. Bane of Puppies everywhere. Really he is — successful, white and writing SF very much that is in the mode of writers like Heinlein. How dare he? And yes, I’ve enjoyed everything I’ve ever read by him. What would I recommend if you hadn’t read him? The Old Man’s War series certainly is fantastic, with Zoe’s Tale bringing tears to my eyes. The Interdependency series is excellent as well. I really have mixed feelings about Redshirts in that it’s too jokey for my taste. I will note that his blog is one of a very few which I read every post of.

(11) COMIC SECTION.

  • Bizarro once again lives up to its name with this Pinocchio joke.
  • Arlo and Janis find a clever use for a 2001 reference.
  • Thatababy calls out a buttinski named Batman.
  • Dog Eat Doug isn’t that funny but it does reference a well-known sff writer.

(12) KAIJU AND OTHERS. The birthday boy and Michi Trota featured today in episode 142 of the AMW Author Talks podcast: “John Scalzi & Michi Trota”.

Acclaimed science fiction author John Scalzi discusses his recent book The Kaiju Preservation Society and the science fiction genre with fellow award-winning science fiction writer Michi Trota.

This conversation originally took place May 15, 2022 and was recorded live at the American Writers Festival.

(13) APPLY FOR LEONARDO. Applications are being taken for the “Leonardo Imagination Fellowship”, hosted by Arizona State University, through June 2.

Leonardo and the Center for Science and the Imagination are proud to announce our second Imagination Fellowship, starting in August 2023. In this virtual, global program, fellows will develop experimental media projects exploring diverse aspects of Planetary Health Futures, including but not limited to issues of climate, human well-being, interspecies relationships, democracy, emerging social structures, and safeguarding the Earth’s habitability for humans and other life forms. Applications are due on June 2, 2023 at 11:59pm MST.

Fellows will reflect on how their projects support, align with and add new complexity and nuance to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). They should also substantively engage with the notion of experimental media, charting new territory in areas like expanded reality, immersive storytelling, worldbuilding, and more. Projects should embrace global perspectives and invite global participation, and demonstrate commitment to justice and equity.

Each fellow will produce a discrete media artifact, and will be supported in collaborative, cross-disciplinary experimentation with practice and process throughout the fellowship period. Examples of outputs or deliverables include, but are not limited to experimental publishing projects, from books and novellas to zines and networked texts; expanded reality projects, from virtual and augmented reality to mixed reality; games and interactive experiences; films and video installations; sonic environments and acoustic experiences.

We invite fellowship applications focusing on a range of themes. Each fellow will connect their work with one of the following themes at Leonardo-ASU or the Center for Science and the Imagination. In the first phase of their fellowship the fellows will identify a specific existing CSI or Leonardo project to focus on, building on its networks, communities, and creative outputs. Some exemplar projects are listed for each theme below.

ACCESS

PLANETARY FUTURES

LEARNING FUTURES BRAIN/MIND/CONSCIOUSNESS

  • Futures of Learning and Education, connecting with the Arizona STEM Acceleration Project*
  • Imagination, Cognition, and Consciousness, connecting with Applied Imagination Project
  • Speculative Fiction for Institutional Transformation, connecting with the Applied Sci-Fi Project

*While several of these existing projects are rooted in Arizona, we welcome global connections, extensions, and expansions in fellowship projects that connect to these regional efforts.

Fellowship Details

  • The Imagination Fellowship Program will offer up to 3 virtual fellowships, beginning in August 2023, and running through April 2024.
  • Fellows will receive $6,000 per fellow for the period of 9 months. There is no separate production budget. Fellows are free to use their stipend to support production needs.
  • Applications are due Friday, June 2, by 11:59 pm Arizona time (UTC-7).

For further questions, please reach out to [email protected].

(14) VIDEO OF THE DAY. When my daughter was very young we used to watch The Wiggles. So it didn’t take much to rouse my curiosity about Defunctland’s YouTube video, “The Awful Wiggles Dark Ride”.

In Defunctland, Kevin and company return with stories of defunct rides, parks, and themed entertainment experiences. Whether it’s Disney, Universal, Six Flags, or a hastily built World’s Fair, Defunctland looks at the stories behind their incredible failures.

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

Pixel Scroll 12/11/22 Pixels Fluttering In A Scrolling Breeze

(1) ATWOOD Q&A. In the New York Times, “Margaret Atwood Offers Her Vision of Utopia”. “The pre-eminent writer of dystopian literature would build dome homes, wear mushroom leather and compost corpses.”

Margaret Atwood is one of the world’s foremost writers of dystopian literature, having imagined such worst-case horrors as a theocracy that forces fertile women to bear children for the rich (“The Handmaid’s Tale”) and a bioengineered virus capable of eradicating humankind (“Oryx and Crake”).

But she is also a profound optimist and pragmatist. Despite real-life calamities like the worsening climate crisis and social inequality, Ms. Atwood often dreams of better futures. Shortly before she turned 83 last month, she taught an eight-week course, “Practical Utopias,” on Disco, an online learning platform in Canada.

About 190 students from 40 countries imagined how to rebuild society after a cataclysmic event — say, a pandemic or rising sea levels. Proposals for “real, better living plans that could actually work” (and “not sci-fi epics or fantasies,” the syllabus stated) included amphibious houses built on stilts, high-end cuisine from food waste, and lowering the voting age to 14 to bolster democracy.

Ms. Atwood, who taught the class from her home office in Toronto, surprised students by submitting her own vision for a post-apocalyptic community, called Virgule (“after the French word for comma, indicating a pause for breath,” she said)….

(2) THEY’RE THE MOST. Amal El-Mohtar names her eleven choices for “The Best Science Fiction and Fantasy of 2022” in the New York Times.

Completing a novel is a difficult feat in the best of times, and we haven’t had any of those in a while. Because publishing moves slowly, this year brought us several novels that were drafted or revised during the upheavals of 2020, only to be released into a very different world. I want to recognize and celebrate the many, many hands laboring to make books in the face of so many challenges: not only authors but editors, agents, artists, designers, typesetters, copy editors and publicists. Of all the books I read this year, the following stood out as the most accomplished, astonishing or a heady mix of both. They’re arranged in the order I read them….

(3) LA FILM CRITICS AWARDS. The list of winners of the Los Angeles Film Critics Awards 2022 is headed by Everything Everywhere All at Once which tied with the non-genre film Tár for Best Picture. Other winners of genre interest include:

  • Best Supporting Actor: Ke Huy Quan, Everything Everywhere All at Once.
  • Best Production Design: Dylan Cole and Ben Procter, Avatar: The Way of Water (20th Century Studios)
  • Best Animation: Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio (Netflix)

(4) DOUBLE FEATURE. Dashboard Horus brings readers “Denise Dumar’s two poems: ‘Seeing the Comet’ and ‘My Father Walks to Siberia from Nome, Alaska’”. The verses are at the link. Here’s the introduction:

 Denise Dumars’s poem, “Snails,” is currently nominated for the Rhysling Award for short science fiction, fantasy, and horror poetry. Her most recent collection of poems, Paranormal Romance: Poems Romancing the Paranormal, was nominated for the Elgin Award. She has three short stories coming out in anthologies in 2022, including the HWA anthology Other Terrors: An Inclusive Anthology. A retired literary agent and college English professor, she now writes full-time and helms Rev. Dee’s Apothecary: A New Orleans-Style Botanica, at www.DyanaAset.com….

(5) CHRIS BOUCHER (1943-2022). Actor Chris Boucher died December 11 reports Kaldor City News.

All of us at Magic Bullet are very sorry to hear of the death this morning of Chris Boucher, co-creator of Kaldor City, writer of Doctor Who: The Face of EvilThe Robots of Death, and The Image of the Fendahl, script editor of Blake’s 7; and creative stalwart of many other genres of television…. 

(6) MEMORY LANE.

2012 [By Cat Eldridge.] Agatha Christie Memorial 

The idea of creating the Agatha Christie Memorial which is called The Book was the idea of Mathew Prichard, her grandson, and Stephen Waley-Cohen, producer of The Mousetrap play since 1994.  They also were responsible for it actually coming into being. 

They identified the perfect location for it at St Martin’s Cross, a major road junction which is also the major pedestrian route from Leicester Square to Covent Garden, in the heart of London’s theatre district.  Not at all surprisingly, Westminster City Council gave formal consent.  

The Book The memorial was unveiled on 25 November 2012, to commemorate the 60th anniversary of The Mousetrap play, is, no surprise, in the form of a book, and is about eight feet high, bronze of course, and appears to float above its base. It is lit from below and from within. The center of it contains a larger than life sized bust of her.

She is surrounded by images of some of her creations, and information about her life and work.  The inscription on the front simply reads “Agatha / Christie / 1890–1976”. 

On The Book appear titles of some of her most popular and famous books and plays, in English and some of the many other languages into which her work has been translated. The titles included were chosen in a competition among her fans.

The sculptor was Ben Twiston-Davies who is now working on a life sized statue of her which will be erected in her hometown of Wallingford, in Oxfordshire, which is due to be unveiled in 2023.  

(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born December 11, 1926 Dick Tufeld. His best known role, or at least best recognized, is as the voice of the Robot on Lost in Space, a role he reprised for the feature film. The first words heard on Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea are spoken by him: “This is the Seaview, the most extraordinary submarine in all the seven seas.” He’s been the opening announcer on Spider-Man and His Amazing FriendsSpider-WomanThundarr the BarbarianFantastic Four and the Time Tunnel. (Died 2012.)
  • Born December 11, 1937 Marshal Tymn. Academic whose books I’ve actually read. He wrote two works that I’ve enjoyed, one with Neil Barron, Fantasy and Horror, is a guide to those genres up to mid-Nineties, and Science Fiction, Fantasy and Weird Fiction Magazines with Mike Ashley as his co-writer is a fascinating read indeed. A Research Guide to Science Fiction Studies: An Annotated Checklist of Primary and Secondary Sources for Fantasy and Science Fiction is the only work by him available in a digital form. (Died 2020.)
  • Born December 11, 1944 Teri Garr, 78. A long history of genre film roles starting in Young Frankenstein as Inga before next appearing in Close Encounters of the Third Kind as Ronnie Neary. Next is the horror film Witches’ Brew where she was Margaret Lightman. She voices Mary McGinnis in Batman Beyond: The Movie, a role she has does on a recurring basis in the series. Series wise, shows up uncredited in the Batman series in the “Instant Freeze” as the Girl Outside the Rink. And of course, she’s Roberta Lincoln in Star Trek’s “Assignment Earth” episode. She has a number of other genre roles, none as interesting as that one. 
  • Born December 11, 1957 William Joyce, 65. Author of the YA series Guardians of Childhood which is currently at twelve books and growing. Joyce and Guillermo del Toro turned them into in a rather splendid Rise of the Guardians film which I enjoyed quite a bit. The antagonist in it reminds me somewhat of a villain later on In Willingham’s Fables series called Mr. Dark. Michael Toman in an email says that “I’ve been watching for his books since reading Dinosaur Bob and His Adventures with the Family Lazardo back in 1988.”
  • Born December 11, 1959 M. Rickert, 63. Short story writer par excellence. She’s got stellar three collections to date, Map of DreamsHoliday and You Have Never Been Here, and two novels. I’ve not read her latest novel, The Shipbuilder of Bellfairie which follows her first novel, The Memory Garden, and would like your opinions on it.
  • Born December 11, 1962 Ben Browder, 60. Actor best known, of course, for his roles as John Crichton in Farscape and Cameron Mitchell in Stargate SG-1.  One of my favorite roles by him was his voicing of  Bartholomew Aloysius “Bat” Lash in Justice League Unlimited “The Once and Future Thing, Part 1” episode.  He’d have an appearance in Doctor Who in “A town Called Mercy”, a Weird Western of sorts. I just discovered Farscape is streaming on Peacock. It appears they picked all of the Scifi channel offerings.
  • Born December 11, 1965 Sherrilyn Kenyon, 57. Best known for her Dark Hunter series which runs to around thirty volumes now. I realize in updating this birthday note that I indeed have read several of these and they were damn good. She’s got The League series as well which appears to be paranormal romance, and a Lords of Avalon series too under the pen name of Kinley MacGregor. She has won two World Fantasy Awards, one for her short story, “Journey Into the Kingdom”, and one for her short story collection, Map of Dreams

(8) CLOSE BUT NO ENCOUNTER FOR THIS EFFECT. “Close Encounters Of The Third Kind’s Script Featured A Scene Even Steven Spielberg Couldn’t Pull Off”Slashfilm chronicles the many problems with the errant effect.

…The scene in question involved “cuboids,” which are described in Michael Klastorin’s “Close Encounters: The Ultimate Visual History” as “dozens and dozens of illuminated cubes that were dispersed by the three scout ships at the landing strip.” They’re basically puckish entities that buzz around the technicians at Devil’s Tower, seeking out cameras and posing for pictures. Eventually, according to Spielberg’s screenplay, they would “burst into ‘galactic golden dust that races in all directions’ and envelop the assembled spectators. One of these particles bores painlessly into Neary’s hand, coursing brightly around his veins until it burns out.

What went wrong? Just about everything….

(9) THIS WAY TO THE EGRESS. Looper offers this list of “Sci-Fi Movies That Made Audiences Get Up And Leave”. They may be right, however, I was waiting for one that never showed up – A Clockwork Orange – which I saw at the Chinese Theater when it opened, and the people in the row ahead of me all got up and left when the ultraviolence started.

When you purchase a ticket to see a movie, you’re always hoping to have a good time. Maybe you’ll be dazzled by some incredible action, given some good jokes to laugh at, or a few emotional moments of drama to entertain for a couple of hours. Every once in a while, you sit down in the cinema only to be treated to a horrific experience for one reason or another and wish you’d never bought that cursed ticket….

(10) SOFTWARE FOR WARFARE. “Killer robots have arrived to Ukrainian battlefields” according to Coda Story.

…Meanwhile, NATO allies like the Netherlands are already testing AI-powered robotics. Lieutenant Colonel Sjoerd Mevissen, commander of the Royal Netherlands Army’s Robotics and Autonomous Systems unit, said every war is a technology test. 

“We see a big advantage in the future, having these types of systems,” he said, referring to the THeMIS unmanned ground vehicle. “It will also lower the cognitive and physical burden for soldiers when they are able to deploy more of these vehicles.”

Colonel Mevissen said pricing — each unit costs approximately $350,000 — remains a significant barrier to having these types of robots fighting side by side with soldiers in the short term. 

Russia’s war of aggression has spurred Ukrainian homegrown military tech innovation. Ukrainian soldiers have modified commercial drones for the frontlines, and a whole suite of tech ingenuity has come together in groups. Ukrainians call it hromada, a self-organized community.

In late October, Ukraine’s Minister of Digital Transformation Mykhailo Fedorov told a NATO conference that Ukraine was developing “Delta,” a situational awareness platform that helps soldiers locate enemy troops and advises on the best coordinated responses. Delta was instrumental in helping Ukrainian troops retake Kherson from Russia, in what Fedorov described as “World Cyber War I.”…

(11) VIDEO OF THE DAY. We revisit astronaut Chris Hadfield’s “Space Oddity” from 2013.

A revised version of David Bowie’s Space Oddity, recorded by Commander Chris Hadfield on board the International Space Station.

[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, 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.]

Pixel Scroll 10/15/22 Scrolls Are The Lycantropic Form Of Pixels

(1) AND YOU ARE THERE. Eleven years ago today at Capclave this happened – “Terry Pratchett Capclave Interview”.

(2) GET OUT OF YOUR OWN HEAD. Lincoln Michel advises writers how to balance “Understanding the Reader Without Pandering to the Reader” at Counter Craft. A brief excerpt:

…Here are some specific areas that often stand out to me along these lines:

Repetition:

Unless your book becomes part of some rabid geek fanbase or a English lit staple, few if any readers are going to read your stories with the Talmudic scrutiny you write and revise them. Readers are distracted. We read a story on a loud, crowded subway. We put a novel down midchapter and don’t get back to it for weeks. We read a chapter sleepily late at night. We miss things. What writers fear is beating their reader over the head is often doing the bare minimum to tap them on the shoulder.

This is a lesson even famous and award-winning authors can forget. I remember hearing a favorite writer give a craft talk and mention how in their first draft of a novel they had a line from chapter 1 repeated near the end of the book. “Aha, everyone will snap their fingers at the connection and realize the true identify of this character!” they thought. But then their editor, they said, quite rightly pointing out no one was going to remember that line 250 pages later. The novel needed to repeat that line four, five, or more times spaced out across the text for the reader to notice.

(3) THE HEAT DEATH OF THE INTERNET. Yeah, like that’s going to happen. But is the culture changing? “Has the Internet Reached Peak Clickability?” asks Ted Gioia.

… But it’s quite plausible that the Internet is losing its coolness and its clickbait appeal. It definitely feels stale and formulaic, more so with each passing month, and I’m not the only person who thinks so. If you dig into the numbers, you find that engagement on the largest platforms is falling—and not in a small way (as Sinatra might say).

The numbers don’t lie, and Kriss serves them up here—summarizing the bad news for clicks and swipes…

… But the metrics now tell a different story.

I shouldn’t be surprised by all this. My own experience at Substack has made me acutely aware of the longform renaissance. When I launched on this platform, I definitely planned to write those long articles that newspaper editors hate—Substack would be my moment of luxurious freedom! Even so, I assumed that my shorter articles would be more popular. I guess I’d drunk the Kool-Aid too, accepting the prevailing narrative that readers want it short and sweet, so they can read it complete in the time it takes the Piano Man to play a request.

Yet my Substack internal metrics reveal the exact opposite of what I expected. The readers here prefer in-depth articles. Who would’ve guessed? For someone like me, it’s almost too good to be true. It’s like some positive karma in the universe is reinforcing my own better instincts.

But the real reason is that the market for clickbait is saturated, and longform feels fresher, more vital, more rewarding….

(4) LOWREY COMMENCES TAFF REPORT. “Orange Mike” Lowrey reports the 2020 TAFF race status is now “Trip report in progress”. 

The first installment of A Visible Fan Abroad: A TAFF Journal of the Plague Years, “Chapter the First: The Trip That Never Was” appears on pages 22-23 of Nic Farey and Ulrika O’Brien’s Beam 17.

When they make it available online, readers will find it at eFanzines.com.

(5) SFF IN NYT. Amal El-Mohtar reviews Babel, The Anchored World, and Self-Portrait with Nothing in “The Magic of Translation” at the New York Times.

The word “translation” connotes movement: carrying meaning from one language to another, or shifting bodies from one place — or one context — to another, all while recognizing that moving entails loss and change. These books dwell in that potent space between setting out and arriving….

(6) MUSK TO THE FUTURE. NPR’s “It’s Been A Minute” contends “Elon Musk’s bid to buy Twitter and defend free speech is part of his mythmaking”.

The saga around Elon Musk’s deal to buy Twitter has been just that: a months-long soap opera involving lawsuits and subpoenas, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, even a town hall. But why does Musk — one of the world’s richest and arguably most influential men — want a social media platform?

It’s Been a Minute host Brittany Luse puts the question to Jill Lepore, political historian and host of The Evening Rocket, a podcast about Musk. Lepore says that the idea of being a savior of free speech would appeal to Musk, who has built around himself a mythology inspired by what she sees as a misinterpretation of mid-twentieth century science fiction.

Lepore discusses how Musk crafted a powerful narrative that millions around the world have bought into; how he draws from science fiction and film; and why we need to be more critical of billionaire visionaries….

(7) ONLINE CLUB MEETING. The Science Fiction/Real Policy Book Club will take up “Lock In by John Scalzi” on November 29, 2022 at 6:00 p.m. Eastern. Register at the link.

Science fiction can have real policy impacts, and comes rife with real-life commentary. For the next gathering of our Science Fiction/Real Policy Book Club, we have selected Lock In by John Scalzi.

The detective novel imagines a world in which a pandemic left 5 million people in the U.S. alone with lock in syndrome: fully conscious but unable to move. Twenty-five years later, enormous scientific and technological investment has created a way for those living with “Haden’s syndrome” to take part in daily life. While they remain in their beds, robotic avatars let them take classes, interact with their families, and work—including as FBI agents. Chris is a rookie FBI agent assigned to work a case that seems to involve the world of Haden’s syndrome, and he and his partner must figure out exactly what’s going on. Lock In is a fascinating tale that raises questions about the “real” world, accessibility and disability, public-health funding, and much more.

Join Future Tense and Issues in Science and Technology at 6pm Eastern on Tuesday, Nov. 29, to discuss the novel and its real-world implications. The book club will feature breakout rooms (they’re fun and stress-free, we promise) where we can all compare notes and share reactions, even if we didn’t finish the book (though we picked a short one this time!).

(8) FRANK DRAKE (1930-2022). Radio astronomer and astrophysicist Frank Drake died September 2. He was a pioneer of the search for extraterrestrial intelligence, carrying out the first search for signals from extraterrestrial civilisations, Project Ozma, in 1960. He is the inventor of the “Drake equation” used to estimate the number of extraterrestrial civilizations in our galaxy. The Guardian obituary notes:

…As a radio astronomer at the National Radio Astronomy Observatory in Green Bank, West Virginia, he made the first observations of Jupiter’s radiation belts, analogous to the Van Allen belts around the Earth, and was one of the first astronomers to measure the intense surface temperature on Venus, a consequence of the greenhouse effect of its thick atmosphere. But it is for Project Ozma, named after Princess Ozma in L Frank Baum’s Wizard of Oz books and carried out with Green Bank’s 85ft radio telescope, that he will be remembered.

For three months Drake observed the sun-like stars Tau Ceti and Epsilon Eridani for radio signals that might be from planets with extraterrestrial civilisations. None were found, but as Drake recalled in a 2012 interview: “It was a start – and it did stimulate a lot of other people to start searching.”….

(9) MICHAEL CALLAN (1935-2022). Actor Michael Callan died October 10. Best known for his roles in Cat Ballou and West Side Story, his genre resume included the film The Mysterious Island, and television’s The Bionic Woman, Fantasy IslandKnight Rider, and Superboy.

(10) MEMORY LANE.

1928 [By Cat Eldridge.] The Passing of Mr. Quin (1928)

We have a special treat for you this Scroll, a silent film first shown in the UK ninety-four years ago. The Passing of Mr. Quin was based off a short story by Agatha Christie. Though it did not feature Hercule Poirot, as that film debut wouldn’t happen for another three years.

It is a rather odd story. To wit, Professor Appleby has abused his wife, Eleanor, for years but when he is brutally murdered and her lover, Derek, goes missing under mysterious circumstances, Eleanor suspects the worst as she indeed should. 

A mysterious stranger, known mostly as “Mr Quin” appears, and begins to seduce her, but his alcoholism causes him to die quite soon. On his death bed, he confesses that he was Derek all along, and offers her to a rival, who promises to make Eleanor a happy wife.

Not cheerful at all and with just more than a soupçon of misogyny there as well but I don’t think it had any of the anti-Jewish tendencies Christie was known for early on. Need I say that the scriptwriters had their way with Christie’s original story? Well they did. 

This silent film was directed by Leslie Alibi. Three years later he directed the first ever depiction of Poirot with Austin Trevor in the lead role. That was not a silent film and Trevor once claimed he was cast as Poirot because he could speak with a French accent. The Poirot film unfortunately is now lost. 

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born October 15, 1911 James H. Schmitz. Writer of short fiction in a space opera setting, sold primarily to Galaxy Science Fiction and Astounding Science-Fiction. His “Lion Loose” was nominated for a Short Fiction Hugo at Chicon III, and The Witches of Karres was nominated for Best Novel at NyCon 3. Sources laud him for his intelligent female characters. His collections and novels are available at the usual suspects. (Died 1981.)
  • Born October 15, 1919 E.C. Tubb. A writer of at least one hundred forty novels and two hundred twenty short stories and novellas, he’s best remembered I think for the Dumarest Saga. His other long-running series was the Cap Kennedy stories. And his short story “Little Girl Lost” which was originally published in New Worlds magazine became a story on Night Gallery. He novelized a number of the Space: 1999 episodes. Somewhat surprisingly he’s never been nominated for or won any awards. (Died 2010.)
  • Born October 15, 1924 Mark Lenard. Sarek, the father of Spock in the Trek franchise, showing up in that role in “Journey to Babel”.  (The role got reprised in the animated series, as well as three films and two episodes of The Next Generation.) Surprisingly he played Romulan Commander in “Balance of Terror,” in the first season, and a Klingon Captain in Star Trek: The Motion Picture. He also had one-offs on Mission ImpossibleWild Wild WestOtherworld, The Secret EmpireThe Incredible Hulk, and Buck Rogers in the 25th Century. He had a recurring role on the Planet of The Apes as Urko. (Died 1996.)
  • Born October 15, 1935 Ray “Duggie” Fisher. Editor, Conrunner and Fan, who chaired the 1969 Worldcon in St. Louis, was on the committee for several other conventions, and was a founding member of the Poplar Bluff Science Fiction Club and the Ozark Science Fiction Association. His fanzine ODD was a finalist for a Best Fanzine Hugo. His contributions to fandom were, sadly, cut short by his death at age 52 due to complications of diabetes. (Died 1988.) [JJ]
  • Born October 15, 1942 Lon Atkins. Editor, Conrunner, and Fan who chaired a DeepSouthCon and was editor of numerous fanzines and apazines, including eight years as co-editor of Rally! He was Fan Guest of Honor at a Westercon, and a recipient of Southern Fandom’s Rebel lifetime achievement award. He was also a ferocious Hearts player. (Died 2016.) [JJ]
  • Born October 15, 1953 Walter Jon Williams, 69. The last thing I read by him was his most excellent Dagmar Shaw series which I highly recommend, but Fleet Elements is on my TBR list.  I also like his Metropolitan novels, be they SF or fantasy, as well as his Hardwired series. I’m surprised how few awards that he’s won, just three with two being Nebulas, both for shorter works, “Daddy’s World” and “The Green Leopard Plaque”, plus a Sidewise Award for “Foreign Devils”.  Damn it, where is his Hugo? 
  • Born October 15, 1954 Linnea Sinclair, 68. Merging romance, SF and paranormal into, well, damned if I know. She’s here sole because I’m really tickled by the use of her SJW credentials as told here: Games of Command and the short story “Of Cats, Uh, Furzels and Kings” feature telepathic feline creatures called ‘Furzels’. Sinclair has stated that these are inspired by her two cats. 
  • Born October 15, 1968 Jack du Brul, 54. A writer of somewhat SF novels that EoSF says of “the Philip Mercer sequence featuring a geologist who – not entirely unlike Steven Spielberg’s similarly scholarly Indiana Jones – has physical gifts extending beyond the probable.” He also co-wrote, and continued after Clive Cusler passed on, The Oregon Files.

(12) THE DOUBLE-OH GENERATION. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In the Washington Post, Alexandra Petri says that she is worried that the new James Bond might be a Millennial. “What the millennial James Bond might look like”. “Do you expect me to talk?”  “No, Mr. Bond, I expect you to text!” She’s got a million of them.

(13) RAMBLING MAN. John Meaney’s post “What I Did On My Holiday” shows that he kept up his impressive workout regimen even while vacationing in “places like Lindisfarne (think Vikings) and Whitby Abbey (think Dracula) and the Western Highlands of Scotland.” He also snapped a memorable photo.

…The Caledonian Canal features a long series of locks called Neptune’s Staircase, and I did take photos of the canal itself, but was struck by this piece of useful advice, which we should always bear in mind every day….

(14) DUNGEON ACOUSTICS. “’D&D’ Goes ‘DIY’ On Kill Rock Stars’ Latest Compilation” reports Bandcamp Daily.

What does Dungeons & Dragons sound like?

That’s the fundamental question at the heart of SPELLJAMS, a new compilation album curated and produced by Chris Funk. The Decemberists guitarist wasn’t tasked with soundtracking just any old D&D campaign: SPELLJAMS is a companion piece to the newly rebooted Spelljammer setting, an outer-space-set oddity that’s become a cult favorite since its introduction in 1989. Spelljammer is a bit of an outlier within the broader D&D lore, which made it ripe for the kind of freewheeling, adventurous track listing Funk assembled for the album.

(15) LUCY IN THE SKY WITH DODGING. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] Lucy, a spacecraft designed to visit Jupiter’s Trojan astroids, will swing past Earth for a gravity assist on Sunday. To get the proper oomph from the assist, it will have to come so close to Earth that it will be inside the orbit of many Low-Earth-Orbit satellites (including the International Space Station).

Cognizant of the possibility of a collision between Lucy and a LEO satellite, NASA has pre-prepared two orbit changes to stagger Lucy’s closest approach just a little bit. Or, if needed, a little bit more than that. They’re waiting as long as they can to calculate orbital positions for everything and make that decision, because the longer they wait the more accurate the predictions will be.

With luck, observers in parts of Australia or the western US may be able to see Lucy glinting like a diamond before it ducks into or after it comes out of Earth’s shadow, respectively. If you miss this chance you’ll get another opportunity two years hence when Lucy swings by for another orbital assist. “NASA on Collision Alert for Close Flyby of Lucy Spacecraft”. Gizmodo says the Space Force has been scrambled!

…The collision assessment team will send Lucy’s position to the Space Force’s 18th Space Control Squadron, which monitors objects in low Earth orbit. The team is prepared to perform swerving maneuvers if Lucy has more than a 1 in 10,000 chance of colliding with another object. “With such a high value mission, you really need to make sure that you have the capability, in case it’s a bad day, to get out of the way,” Highsmith said….

(16) WAITING IN A BREAD LINE. “Meet Pan Solo, a California bakery’s 6-foot bread sculpture of Han Solo frozen in carbonite”.

…The edible replica, which was painstakingly modeled out of dough to resemble Harrison Ford‘s captured character in 1980’s The Empire Strikes Back and 1983’s Return of the Jedi, has been on display outside the family bakery in Benicia, Calif., since Sunday. He is accompanied by a chalkboard that adorably proclaims, “Our hero Pan Solo has been trapped in Levainite by the evil Java the Hut.”…

(17) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In this 2021 clip, Alasdair Beckett-King explains that even in the olden times, pepole couldn’t remember their passwords!

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Andrew Porter, Chris Barkley, Michael J. Walsh, Rob Thornton, JeffWarner, Todd Mason, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, and JJ for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Peer.]

Pixel Scroll 4/4/22 Just A Pixel Boy, Lots Of Planets Have A South, He Took The Tardis Box Goin’ Anywhere

(1) BETTER VILLAINS THROUGH SCIENCE (FICTION). Charlie Jane Anders shares “7 Secrets To Avoiding The Biggest Problem With Villains” at Stone Soup. Lots of interesting observations here.

5) A villain is often boring because of boring fight scenes. Or boring chase scenes. Or boring confrontations in general. If a fight scene is just an excuse for a lot of stage directions, or a literal blow by blow of a punching match, it quickly grows stale. As Green Bone Saga author Fonda Lee has explained many times, a good fight scene has emotional stakes and helps to tell the story and says something about the characters. You can learn a lot about a villain by watching them try to kill the hero. You can also learn a lot about a villain by watching them fighting to achieve the same goal as the hero, or the opposite goal for that matter. If your action scenes are really character – and plot development scenes, they will make your villain shine— way more than sticking them in a plexiglass cell ever would.

(2) A CLASSIC OF SF ON THE BBC. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] Karl Capek’s play, R.U.R. Rossum’s Universal Robots, has a new adaptation as a radio play musical just broadcast from the BBC. You can access Episode 1 from Sounds at the link.

Written in 1932, the play is set in the year 2000.  Not only does it have concepts that resonate with much subsequent SF, it is particularly apposite today as we head towards full-blown general artificial intelligence.

Part two next Sunday afternoon at 15.00 Brit Cit time.

Music and Lyrics by Susannah Pearse

Book by Robert Hudson

Karel Capek’s ultra-prescient, retro-futurist 1921 comedy (the classic which gave us the word ‘robot’) is re-imagined with a massive dose of character-driven and song-centred heart.

In Capek’s world, machines do all the work and their monopolistic makers care only about enriching themselves. Robots make huge volumes of goods very cheaply, but there are limited resources to make these goods from and humans don’t care so long as life keeps getting lazier.

The movie star Lady Helen is on a personal crusade. She visits the island factory of Rossum’s Universal Robots, robot-makers to the world, with the intention of freeing the robots. Despite her better judgement, she falls in love with Chairman Domin, the capitalist boss of R.U.R, who dismisses her campaign by insisting that robots are devoid of emotion and free will. Undeterred, Lady Helen persuades a sympathetic scientist to grow a small batch of robots with these very qualities.

The new robots defy all expectations, not least because of their resolute commitment to saving the world from the humans.

(3) WILLIAMSON LECTURESHIP SCHEDULE. The 2022 Jack Williamson Lectureship schedule has been posted. Most of these events will be streamed via YouTube live, and you’ll be able to view them on the ENMU YouTube channel.

Thursday, April 7:  

3:00: Real-Life CSI Q&A, JWLA 111. Zoom link: https://us06web.zoom.us/j/82969992270?pwd=VDdPeUpBcFExeFZQTGRsVVpTNkRsZz09  

5:30: A Retrospective with Walter Jon Williams, UTC Small Theater  

Friday, April 8:  

10:00 am: Guest of Honor Reading, GSSC Presentation area  

12:00 pm: Williamson Lectureship Lunch and Main Event, CUB Ballroom  

1:30 pm: Gaming Session, GSSC Presentation Room  

3:00 pm:  

Panel 1a: Remixing and Genre, GSSC 216. Panelists: Walter Jon Williams, Emily Mah, Reese Hogan, Jeffe Kennedy  

4:00 pm:  

Panel 2a: History and/of Science Fiction, GSSC 216, Panelists: Connie Willis, Walter Jon Williams, Reese Hogan, Ian Tregillis  

Panel 2b: Craft of a story/Story crafting, GSSC 217, Panelists: Darynda Jones, Jeffe Kennedy, Emily Mah  

5:00 pm:  

Panel 3a: Never the Same Story Twice: Making Stories Your Own, GSSC 216, Panelists: Walter Jon Williams, Connie Willis, Emily Mah  

Panel 3b: Short Attention Span, GSSC 217, Panelists: Jeffe Kennedy, Darynda Jones, Reese Hogan 

(4) IN A STRANGE LAND. Star Trek: Strange New Worlds has released its official trailer. Airing on Paramount+ this May, Strange New Worlds is both a prequel to the original Star Trek series and a spinoff of the events of Star Trek: Discovery season 2

(5) THREE’S A CHARM. New York Times science fiction reviewer Amal El-Mohtar hits the jackpot in “Ordinary People, Extraordinary Circumstances” – with good things to say about All the Horses of Iceland by Sarah Tolmie, Tell Me an Ending by Jo Harkin, and The Impossible Us by Sarah Lotz.

To paraphrase Ian Fleming: To read one good book is happenstance; two is coincidence; three is wild good fortune. That a columnist should enjoy novels in her purview is not particularly noteworthy — but to read three excellent books in sequence, all for the same column, is unusual, a critic’s jackpot….

(6) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

1914 [Item by Cat Eldridge.] On this day, one hundred and eight years ago, the first part of Edgar Rice Burroughs’ At the Earth’s Core novel appeared in All-Star Weekly. This magazine started life as The All-Story Magazine before becoming The All-Story and All-Star Weekly. Burroughs’ serial would run from April 4 to April 25, 1914. It would be first published in book form in hardcover by A. C. McClurg in July, 1922. It is of course freely available at the usual suspects. 

Pellucidar, a hollow Earth story, is very influential with writers using the setting later on, not the least of which is the author who has Tarzan appearing there. Lin Carter’s “Zanthodon” series, beginning with his novel Journey to the Underground World, is considered an homage to this work. 

And the Skartaris setting used by Mike Grell in The Warlord series is another homage to Pellucidar in the graphic medium. Justice League Unlimited‘s “Chaos at the Earth’s Core“ episode would show the hollow Earth in an animated medium. It’s quite wonderful even if, like the Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Lost World seriesit has very, very little to do with the source material. 

Wiki claims that Lovecraft’s At the Mountains of Madness was largely influenced by this work. Huh? Please explain. 

The novel has been filmed once as At the Earth’s Core in 1976 as directed by Kevin Connor and starring Doug McClure as David Innes and Peter Cushing as Abner Perry. It fared badly among critics and audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes, garnering just thirty-three percent from each. My favorite critic comment? This one by Stephen Randall of the Los Angeles Free Press: “It’s the type of movie you can send your kids to, but only if you don’t much like them.” Ouch. Really ouch. 

(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born April 4, 1902 Stanley G. Weinbaum. His first story, “A Martian Odyssey”, was published to general accolades in July 1934, but he died from lung cancer less than a year and a half later. ISFDB lists two novels, The New Adam and The Dark Other, plus several handfuls of short stories that were I assume were out for consideration with various editors at the time of his death. Everything he wrote is available at the usual digital suspects. (Died 1935.)
  • Born April 4, 1949 David C. Sutherland III. An early Dungeons & Dragons artist. His work heavily influenced the development of D&D. He was also one of their writers on such modules as the Queen of the Demonweb Pits that Gary Gygax edited. He also drew the maps for Castle Ravenloft. (Died 2009.)
  • Born April 4, 1948 Dan Simmons, 74. He’s the author of the Hyperion Cantos and the Ilium/Olympos cycles. Hyperion won a Hugo Award at ConFiction (1990), and The Fall of Hyperion was nominated the following year at ChiCon V (1991). Both are, if my memory serves me right, excellent. If you like horror, Song of Kali which won a World Fantasy Award is quite tasty indeed. In 2013 he became a World Horror Convention Grand Master.  Beware his social media, which include remarks about environmental activist Greta Thunberg.
  • Born April 4, 1952 Cherie Lunghi, 70. Her fame arise from her role as Guinevere in Excalibur. (I saw Excalibur in a 1920s-built theater on a warm summer night with hardly anyone there.) She was also Baroness Frankenstien (Victor’s Mother) in Kenneth Branagh’s Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. She was also in The Lady’s Not for Burning as Jennet Jourdemayne. That I’ve not seen. 
  • Born April 4, 1959 Phil Morris, 63. His first acting role was on the “Miri” episode of Trek as simply Boy. He was the Sam the Kid on several episodes of Mr. Merlin before returning to Trek fold as Trainee Foster in Star Trek III: The Search for Spock. Next interesting role is voicing Vandal Savage on a three-part Justice League Unlimited story called “The Savage Time”, a role he reprised for Justice League: Doom. No, I’ve not forgotten that he was on Mission: Impossible as Grant Collier. He also played the Martian Manhunter (J’onn J’onzz) on Smallvillie. Currently He’s Silas Stone on Doom Patrol and no, I didn’t spot that was him in that role. 
  • Born April 4, 1965 Robert Downey Jr., 57. Iron Man in the Marvel Universe film franchise. (I loved the first Iron Man film, thought they could’ve stopped there.) Also a rather brilliant Holmes in Sherlock Holmes and Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows. Also voicing James Barris in an animated adaption of Philip K. Dick’s A Scanner Darkly which picked up a nomination at Nippon 2007. Yes, he’s plays the title role in Dolittle which despite having scathing critical reviews has a rather superb seventy-six rating among audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes. 
  • Born April 4, 1967 Xenia Seeberg, 55. She is perhaps best known for her role as Xev Bellringer in Lexx, a show’s that’s fantastic provided you can see in its uncensored form. I’ve also see she played Muireann In Annihilation Earth, Noel in So, You’ve Downloaded a Demon, uncredited role in Lord of The Undead, and Sela In the “Assessment” episode of Total Recall 2070
  • Born April 4, 1968 Gemma Files, 54. She’s a Canadian horror writer, journalist, and film critic. Her Hexslinger series now at three novels and a handful of stories is quite fun. It’s worth noting that she’s a prolific short story writer whose “The Emperor’s Old Bones” won an International Horror Guild Award and four of these stories have been adapted as scripts for The Hunger horror series. Impressive indeed!  She won a Shirley Jackson Award and a Sunburst Award for Excellence in Canadian Literature of the Fantastic for Experimental Film.

(8) COMICS SECTION.

  • Bizarro introduces us to Frankenstein’s monster’s barber.
  • Tom Gauld on baiting a wild librarian:

(9) SOUND ADVICE. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] Bob Godfrey and Ron Neesin explain how to make sound effects with stuff you have at home in this BBC clip from 1974 that dropped today. “Sound Effects with Ron Geesin” — The DIY Film Animation Show.

Bob Godfrey is joined by musician and composer extraordinaire Ron Geesin, who delivers a masterclass in the art of creating and syncing sound effects. To create these sound effects at home you will need: A mouth, a tape recorder, a shoe box, a breadknife, a contact microphone, a disused banjo, some rice, eccentric multimedia artist Bruce Lacey, and some sticky tape. Incidentally, if you can’t be bothered to make your own sound effects, here are 16,000 we made earlier: http://bbcsfx.acropolis.org.uk/

(10) PROBLEMS WITH TWO FANS STOP ARTEMIS LAUNCH. The fans haven’t been named. “NASA’s Artemis I mega moon rocket test scrubbed for second time” reports CNN.

…The test was originally scheduled to be completed on Sunday but was put on hold before the propellant was loaded. That was due to problems with two fans used to provide pressure to the mobile launcher – the movable tower which the rocket sits upon before it lifts off.

NASA said Monday it was able overnight to resolve the malfunction of the fans, which are needed to pressurize enclosed areas inside the launcher and keep out hazardous gases…

(11) THE SEVENTIES. CBR.com dares us to disagree: “10 Best Sci-Fi Films of the 70s, Ranked”.

After the Swinging Sixties left an unmistakable mark on pop culture – music, film, and just about everything else – it fell upon the following decade to try and best what came before. For many, the 1970s may well be their favorite era for all of those things, and one area in particular where it arguably excelled over the 60s was sci-fi cinema….

5. Alien (1979) Promised That In Space… No One Can Hear You Scream

Alien took the world by surprise in the Spring of 1979 and is still considered an iconic sci-fi-horror film to this day. It was pitched as essentially being “Jaws in space” although the result is something far more than that.

Directed by Ridley Scott, with incredible designs from HR Giger, and featuring a star-making performance from Sigourney Weaver, Alien sparked a huge multimedia franchise that’s still going strong to this day.

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

Pixel Scroll 3/7/22 Head Like A Scroll, Pixeled Like Your Soul

(1) ARRIVAL. “On Coming to Ursula K. Le Guin in My Own Time” at Literary Hub, an excerpt from Amal El-Mohtar’s introduction to Worlds of Exile and Illusion by Ursula K. Le Guin.

… I took Le Guin for granted. When she died in 2018, I could have fit the span of my life inside hers almost three times. She had always been there, like a mountain, or the sun, and it was easy to fall into the certainty that she always would be. I was unfamiliar with her most celebrated works—The Left Hand of DarknessThe Dispossessed, books by which she became the first woman to win a Hugo Award for Best Novel, and then, five years later, the first woman to have won it twice.

I had assumed, with all the oblivious confidence of youth, that I’d get to read them while she was still with us and talk to her about them. I imagined that I would meet her one day, under ideal conditions that would make me seem interesting enough for conversation, and ask her about poetry, about being a middle-aged woman in the 1970s, and about science fiction. Her passing hit me harder than I expected, considering my slender acquaintance with her work, but that was the thing about Le Guin: to have lost her was to have lost a world I longed to visit….

(2) ROMANTIC NOVEL AWARDS. The Romantic Novelists Association announced the winners of the 2022 Romantic Novel Awards in London on March 7. The awards celebrate excellence in romantic fiction in all its forms. The complete list is here. In the RNA category of genre interest the winner is —

The Fantasy Romantic Novel Award

  • A Marvellous Light, Freya Marske, Pan Macmillan

(3) HIDDEN TREASURE. [Item by Bill Burns.] The BBC Archive started a new YouTube channel a couple of months ago, and there are some interesting SF items: BBC Archive – YouTube. As well as Star Wars, Doctor Who, and other media items, there’s these more mainstream pieces from broadcast programs:

  • “Arthur C Clarke predicts the future” (September 1964)
  • “Douglas Adams on HITCHHIKERS GUIDE TO THE GALAXY game” (1984)
  • “ISAAC ASIMOV’s 3 laws of ROBOTICS” (1965)

(4) SCREENTIME MACHINE. For the first five seconds I thought it was a Monty Python sketch. But no – these are all legit sff writers on a 1979 episode of the BBC’s Book Programme trying to answer the question “What is SCIENCE FICTION?”

Robert Robinson presents a science-fiction themed edition of The Book Programme. What constitutes science-fiction, is there room in the genre for the metaphysical or spiritual, or should writers slavishly stick to the scientific? What is to be made of the phenomenon that is the sci-fi convention – is there something unique to science fiction that inspires such devotion in its fans? And is all fiction slowly becoming science fiction? Taking part are: Douglas Adams, the author of the science-fiction comedy ‘The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy’; Harry Harrison, a prolific science fiction writer best known for his ‘Deathworld’, ‘Stainless Steel Rat’ and ‘Bill, the Galactic Hero’ novels; Peter Nicholls, the editor of The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction; and Ian Watson, whose book ‘The Jonah Kit’ won the British Science Fiction Association award for Best Novel and whose new book “God’s World” is reviewed here and forms the basis for the discussion.

(5) RELATED WORKS. Today, Cora Buhlert turns the Non-Fiction Spotlight on “Lovecraft in the 21st Century Dead, But Still Dreaming, edited by Antonio Alcala Gonzalez and Carl H. Sederholm”.

…If you’re just joining us, the Non-Fiction Spotlights are a project, where I interview the authors/editors of SFF-related non-fiction books that came out in 2021 and are eligible for the 2022 Hugo Awards….

The subject of today’s Non-Fiction Spotlight is a collection of scholarly essays about H.P. Lovecraft entitled Lovecraft in the 21st Century: Dead, But Still Dreaming, edited by Antonio Alcala Gonzalez and Carl H. Sederholm….

Why should SFF fans in general and Hugo voters in particular read this book?

Carl: I first became interested in Lovecraft because of references to him in popular culture. As I began to read more and more of his stories, I became fascinated by the ways his work continues to show up in everything from heavy metal music to board games to internet memes to television shows. What I didn’t know was that there were dozens of others having similar experiences. This book provides a glimpse at what others have discovered in their own journey through Lovecraft. I think anyone with an interest in Lovecraft, including SFF fans and Hugo voters, can discover just how far Lovecraft’s influence goes through a book like this. Even those who already have a firm grasp of Lovecraft should be able to find new insights and research opportunities here….

(6) NATURE CALLS. SF² Concatenation has just Tweeted an advance post of the first of its four “Best of Nature Futures” one-page short stories for this year: “Freemium: It’s no game” by Louis Evans.

When SETI detected an alien signal, they called Derek. Derek was a billionaire from designing computer games. He was bankrolling the search.

Soon – an impossibility in physics – Derek was in regular contact with the aliens. But eventually, there is a price….

(7) NEWBERY WINNER’S NEXT. In the Washington Post, Mary Quattlebaum interviews Newbery Award-winner Kelly Barnhill, whose new book The Ogress and the Orphans creates “a complex character that makes readers question the stereotype of ogres.” “In Kelly Barnhill’s new fantasy novel, no single hero can save the day”.

…A more fully formed story started to emerge in 2020. This original fairy tale explored both the conflict and the generosity she was seeing in the world around her. She noticed, for example, that throughout the pandemic, some people worked together to protect one another from the coronavirus, and others did not.

“I saw the power that one individual has to make something better for another,” she said.

A conversation with her “awesome and interesting” 10-year-old nieces also helped shape the story. The girls’ parents are philosophers. They study knowledge — how people think and reason and how they decide right from wrong. The girls thought that philosophy should also consider kindness and animals.

Barnhill listened. “The Ogress and the Orphans” probes what happens to people’s hearts and to the spirit of their communities when they give to others — or turn away. What happens when they respect and include others — or seek power over them?…

(8) WOOL GATHERING. At Bandcamp, Aidan Baker’s album “The Sheep Look Up” is intended as “a ‘soundtrack’ to John Brunner’s 1972 dystopian novel.” Baker is a Canadian musician “making experimental ambient music.”

(9) MEMORY LANE.

1968 [Item by Cat Eldridge] Anne McCaffrey’s Dragonriders of Pern series has a fascinating Hugo history.

She won a Hugo the first time she was nominated, for the novella “Weyr Search” at Baycon (tied with Philip José Farmer’s “Riders of the Purple Wage”.) It was published in Analog Science Fiction / Science Fact, October 1967. It’s in A Dragon-Lover’s Treasury of the Fantastic anthology which was edited by Margaret Weis, available from the usual suspects at a very reasonable price. 

It would be the only win for the Dragonriders of Pern series but by far is not the only nomination for the series. 

Next up would be the “Dragonrider” novella which was nominated one year later at St. Louiscon. Three years later, her Dragonquest novel would get a nod at the first L.A. Con showing that Con had impeccable taste. And at Seacon ‘79, The White Dragon gets nominated. (I really love that novel.) The next L.A. Con would see another novel be nominated, Moreta: Dragonlady of Pern. (I’ve never heard of that one.) And the final nomination, also for a novel, was at MagiCon, for All the Weyrs of Pern.

The series did win a number of other awards including a Nebula for Dragonrider, a Ditmar and Gandalf for The White Dragon, a Balrog for Dragondrums and The Science Fiction Book Club’s Book of the Year Award for The Renegades of Pern. It is, after all, an expansive series.

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born March 7, 1925 Richard Vernon. He is perhaps best remembered for playing the role of Slartibartfast in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy series. His first genre role was Sir Edgar Hargraves in the Village of the Damned which was adapted from John Wyndham’s The Midwich Cuckoos.  He’s also in Goldfinger as Colonel Smithers. (Died 1997.)
  • Born March 7, 1926 Alan Sues. Here for his outstanding performance in The Twilight Zone’s “The Masks” as Wilfred Harper, Jr., one of the most chilling scripts written for that series. He really didn’t have much of a genre history showing just otherwise on Wild Wild West and Sabrina, the Teenage Witch unless you want to include Rudolph and Frosty’s Christmas in July where he played Scratcher the jealous Reindeer. (Died 2011.)
  • Born March 7, 1942 Paul Preuss, 80. I know I’ve read all of the Venus Prime series written by him off the Clarke stories. I am fairly sure I read all of them when I was in Sri Lanka where they were popular among the British ex-Pat community.  I don’t think I’ve read anything else by him. 
  • Born March 7, 1944 Stanley Schmidt, 78. Between 1978 and 2012 he served as editor of Analog Science Fiction and Fact magazine, an amazing feat by any standard! He was nominated for the Hugo Award for Best Professional Editor every year from 1980 through 2006 (its final year), and for the Hugo Award for Best Editor Short Form every year from 2007 (its first year) through 2013 with him winning in 2013 at LoneStarCon 3.  He’s also an accomplished author and l know I’ve read him but I can’t recall which novels in specific right now though I know I enjoyed what I read by him.
  • Born March 7, 1945 Elizabeth Moon, 77. I’ll let JJ have the say on her: “I’ve got all of the Serrano books waiting for when I’m ready to read them. But I have read all of the Kylara Vatta books — the first quintology which are Vatta’s War, and the two that have been published so far in Vatta’s Peace. I absolutely loved them — enough that I might be willing to break my ‘no re-reads’ rule to do the first 5 again at some point. Vatta is a competent but flawed character, with smarts and courage and integrity, and Moon has built a large, complex universe to hold her adventures. The stories also feature a secondary character who is an older woman; age-wise she is ‘elderly’, but in terms of intelligence and capability, she is extremely smart and competent — and such characters are pretty rare in science fiction, and much to be appreciated.” 
  • Born March 7, 1954 Elayne Pelz, 68. She is a member of LASFS (and officer) and of SCIFI who worked on myriad cons, mainly in art show and treasury.  She was married to famous SF fan Bruce Pelz and assumed leadership of Conagerie, the 2002 Westercon, upon Bruce’s death and the con was held successfully. She was the Chair of Loscon 20.
  • Born March 7, 1970 Rachel Weisz, 52. Best remembered  for The Mummy films which I really, really love (well the first two with her), and her first genre film was Death Machine, a British-Japanese cyberpunk horror film which scores rather well – fifty-one percent — among audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes. I’ve also got her in Chain Reaction and The Lobster. As of late, Weisz starred as Melina Vostokoff in the MCU film Black Widow.

(11) INSIDER TRADING. Gizmodo finds evidence of intergalactic smuggling: “Star Wars Galactic Starcruiser Rare Merch Already on eBay”.

It’s only been a few days since Disney’s lavishly priced Star Wars Galactic Starcruiser attraction previewed for invited media, influencers, and guests—yet eBay listings are already being promoted for exclusive items from the experience. Some item postings even have timetables for guests who have yet to step onto the Halcyon ship but promise to bring back merch for sale.

A sign that this might be different from the usual hive of scum and villainy where merch-flippers tend to dwell is that the prices seem to reflect ways to offset the cost of the trip itself—or for those who got freebies to maybe even get on board again….

(12) 2021 WAS GOOD FOR ONE THING. Yahoo! reports “Guillermo del Toro is really not into the Oscars’ new format”.

…Pan’s Labyrinth director Guillermo del Toro has brought up another point of contention: The new format for the upcoming awards ceremony.

The Academy of Motion Pictures and Arts recently unveiled its new format, which involves pre-taping a select eight categories and announcing the winners in a pre-show. The categories moved to this lower-tier position include Best Production Design, Editing, Makeup and Hairstyling, Original Score, Sound, Documentary Short, Animated Short and Live-Action Short. After the last couple of arduous years in the film industry, del Toro thinks this change could not come at a worse time.

“The nominees that we have here, most of the ones we have here tonight, [worked] against many, many difficult odds [to get here], and we don’t do [films] alone,” del Toro said while receiving the Hollywood Critics Association’s Filmmaking Achievement Award. “We do them together, and the people that made them with us did it risking everything in a pandemic, showing up, making the day, somewhat in a miracle.

“I must say, if any year was the year to think about it, this is not the year not to hear their names live at the Oscars. This is the year to sing it, and sing it loud,” Del Toro continued. “We shouldn’t do it this year; we shouldn’t do it ever, but not this year… And we must say this… 2021 was a f**king great year for movies.”…

(13) TIME’S THREE. “Take three historical figures, throw them together in some situation, and tell us the story that ensues.” That simple description was enough make a success of Fantastic Books’ Kickstarter campaign, fully funding the anthology Three Time Travelers Walk Into…, which will appear in June. “It pulls together the adventuring of such disparate figures as Julia Child, Jesus Christ, Michael Jackson, and Vlad the Impaler (well… not all in one story).”

Edited by Michael A. Ventrella, the contributing authors are Eric Avedissian, Adam-Troy Castro, Peter David, Keith R.A. DeCandido, Gregory Frost, David Gerrold, Henry Herz, Jonathan Maberry, Gail Z. Martin, Heather McKinney, James A. Moore, Jody Lynn Nye, L. Penelope, Louise Piper, Hildy Silverman, S.W. Sondheimer, Allen Steele, and Lawrence Watt-Evans.

(14) YOU CAN TAKE IT WITH YOU. Gizmodo noticed that “A Mars Rock Appears to Be Stuck in Perseverance Rover’s Wheel”. (Image at the link.)

NASA’s Perseverance rover has involuntarily adopted a traveling companion, in the form of a stone that’s lodged in one of its six aluminum wheels.

An image captured by Perseverance’s Onboard Front Left Hazard Avoidance Camera, or Hazcam for short, shows the interloper sitting on the interior of a wheel. The rover must’ve kicked up the rock while exploring Jezero Crater, where it’s been operating since it landed on Mars in February 2021.

The picture was taken on February 25, 2022, but a similar image taken five days later showed the rock still firmly in place. The stone, it would appear, is now a stubborn fixture of the $2.2 billion rover…. 

(15) RETURN TO SENDER. “Dreaming of Suitcases in Space”. Hard to believe, but the New York Times, not Philip K. Dick, came up with that title. “A California start-up company believes it can one day speed delivery of important items by storing them in orbit.”

…Inversion is building earth-orbiting capsules to deliver goods anywhere in the world from outer space. To make that a reality, Inversion’s capsule will come through the earth’s atmosphere at about 25 times as fast as the speed of sound, making the parachute essential for a soft landing and undisturbed cargo.

Inversion is betting that as it becomes cheaper to fly to space, government agencies and companies will want to not only send things to orbit but also bring items back to earth….

…What Inversion is trying to do is not easy. Designing a vehicle for re-entry is a different engineering challenge than sending things up to space. When a capsule enters the atmosphere from space, it is traveling at such high speeds that there is the danger of burning up — a huge risk for human travelers and precious nonhuman cargo alike.

Seetha Raghavan, a professor in the University of Central Florida’s mechanical and aerospace engineering department, said it would be even more difficult to handle the heat, vibration and deceleration of the capsule when the vehicle size shrank.

“It all becomes harder when you have a smaller item to control,” Ms. Raghavan said.

Inversion’s plan for capsules in orbit raises questions about whether it will contribute to congestion in space, already a problem with the megaconstellations of satellites. And the abundance of satellites interfering with observations of planets, stars and other celestial bodies has been a common complaint among astronomers.

But Inversion said it was using materials to make its capsules significantly less reflective to decrease visual pollution. In addition, the company said its capsule would come with systems to avoid debris and collisions in orbit….

(16) CUBISM. [Item by Ben Bird Person.] Artist/illustrator Will Quinn did this piece commemorating the Dungeons & Dragon‘s gelatinous cube.

According to Patreon, “I listen to ‘Not Another D&D Podcast’ while I draw these days, and they were coincidentally fighting an ooze monster during this drawing (not a Gelatinous Cube, though. It was a Juiblex).”

[Thanks to JJ, John King Tarpinian, Andrew Porter, Michael Toman, Rob Thornton, Ben Bird Person, Chris Barkley, Bill Burns, SF Concantenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, and Martin Morse Wooster for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Charon Dunn.]

Pixel Scroll 2/22/22 Credentials On Your Knee, Pixel, Scroll And Ray

(1) EASTERCON WANTS YOUR DRABBLES. The UK’s national science fiction convention, Eastercon, aka Reclamation 2022, is running April 15-18 at the Radisson Hotel & Conference Centre London Heathrow. Guests of Honor are Mary Robinette Kowal, Phillip Reeve, Tasha Suri and Nicholas Whyte. Here’s how you can join in the fun, wherever you may be.

We wanted to do something a little different with Reclamation and so are resurrecting an age-old fannish tradition of drabbling. Depending on how many we receive, we may make posters to display round the convention, and publish them in the convention readme booklet. We’re looking for tiny, standalone speculative fiction tales, of exactly 100-words each.

What is a drabble?

A drabble is a piece of fiction that is exactly 100 words long, excluding its title. If you imagine a novel to be a full three-course meal, a drabble is more of an amuse-bouche: a single, bite-sized delight that gets your taste buds primed for the next course.

For more information, go to: https://reclamation2022.co.uk/drabbles/

(2) YOUR NEXT TBR. Amal El-Mohtar is back with a batch of reviews in “Otherworldly” at the New York Times.

…Delilah S. Dawson’s THE VIOLENCE (Del Rey, 498 pp., $28) takes place in a post-Covid Florida, on the cusp of a very different pandemic. It’s 2025, and Chelsea Martin lives an apparently idyllic life in a gated community with her wealthy husband, two daughters and small fashionable dog. In reality, Chelsea’s husband is physically and emotionally abusive, and has systematically cut her off from any friends or support systems apart from her cruel and self-absorbed mother. But as a new disease called the Violence spreads — causing brief, individual episodes of amnesiac rage during which the infected beat the nearest living thing to death — Chelsea sees an opportunity to free herself and her daughters….

(3) ROLL ‘EM, ROLL ‘EM, ROLL ‘EM. Head ‘em up and move ‘em out! The Hollywood Reporter says Paramount is determined to have a Star Trek movie for Christmas 2023 but they don’t have a script and no stars are attached to the project. “Why Paramount’s ‘Star Trek’ Sequel Reveal Surprised Its Own Stars”.

On Feb. 15, Paramount (nee ViacomCBS) announced that it would boldly go where it hasn’t managed to go before — a fourth iteration in a stalled 21st century feature strategy for the Star Trek franchise. During the Paramount investor day, producer J.J. Abrams — who rebooted the sci-fi franchise for the big screen in 2009 — revealed that the USS Enterprise was being readied for a new flight. “We are thrilled to say that we are hard at work on a new Star Trek film that will be shooting by the end of the year that will be featuring our original cast,” Abrams said.

The proclamation came as a surprise, not just to observers who have been watching the movie studio haltingly try to revive Trek on the big screen for years but to the actors and their representatives as well.

Sources tell The Hollywood Reporter that most, if not all, teams for the franchise’s primary players — who include Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Simon Pegg, Karl Urban, Zoe Saldaña and John Cho — were not aware that an announcement for another film was coming, much less that their clients would be touted as a part of the deal, and certainly not that their clients would be shooting a movie by year’s end. Insiders say that Pine, who plays Captain Kirk, is the first to enter into early negotiations as he is the lynchpin to the project.

The hope is to begin filming in the fall in order to make the Dec. 22, 2023, theatrical release. The script is still being worked on, according to sources, and there is no green light or budget in place. In fact, the budget will now likely have to account for talent deals that may be supersized. Industry insiders say that Paramount let go of negotiating leverage in order to have a key chess piece as it courts Wall Street investors.

(4) CLOSE, BUT NO CIGAR. On the Jeopardy! National College Championship, Friday, Andrew Porter witnessed a contestant miss this one:

Category: Science Fiction

In this “colorful” author’s “An Absolutely Remarkable Thing,” alien sculptures called the Carls pop up all over the Earth.

Wrong question: Who is John Green?

Correct question: Who is Hank Green?

(5) THE INVENTOR OF BOOKS ON TAPE. The Los Angeles Times paid tribute to the late Duvall Hecht, whose daily grind to L.A. led to Books on Tape – he died February 10 at the age of 91.

Duvall Hecht was somewhere between his banking job in Los Angeles and his home in Newport Beach when he realized he’d heard the same song for the third or fourth time. On the news stations, the daily report had grown stale and repetitive. The commercials were numbing and endless.

It was, he told The Times years later, the most “deadly two hours” in his day, a grinding commute devoid of any intellectual stimulation.

In a flurry of entrepreneurial magic, he sold his 1965 Porsche, hired a college drama coach and created what would become volume No. 1 in the soon-to-be-massive Books on Tape catalog, a recording of George’s Plimpton’s football tale, “Paper Lion.”

“It never once seemed like a wacky idea to me,” he said in 2001, shortly after selling his startup to Random House for an estimated $20 million.

Hecht, a man of varied interests, died Feb. 10 at his home in Costa Mesa, his wife, Ann Marie Rousseau, said. He was 91.

… Customers would rent book tapes for 30 days, and since Hecht didn’t charge a deposit, they were on an honor system to return them. For the most part, he said, customers held up their end of the bargain and mailed back the tapes.

(6) MEMORY LANE.

1993 [Item by Cat Eldridge]  

Babylons one, two and three were sabotaged and destroyed. Number four vanished without a trace twenty-four hours after becoming operational. To this day no one knows what happened to it. — John Sinclair to Lyta Alexander in Babylon 5: The Gathering 

Twenty-nine years ago on PTEN, Babylon 5: The Gathering aired, the first of six feature length films that would happen in the franchise. And thus J. Michael Straczynski’s vision of this SF series came to be. This was written by him and directed by Richard Compton who had minor acting roles in Trek’s “The Doomsday Machine” and “The Enterprise Incident”.  Really minor acting roles. 

It was executive produced by Douglas Netter and Straczynski. Netter would between the third and fourth seasons of Babylon 5 found Netter Digital, a CGI special effects company. Unfortunately Straczynski was his only client, so the end of the Babylon 5 related projects such as Crusade meant the end of the company. 

Actual production was by Robert Latham Brown and John Copeland. The former has worked with Mel Brooks, George Lucas, Paul Verhoeven and Steven Spielberg. The latter really hasn’t done anything interesting outside of the Straczynskian universe. 

Babylon 5 always had a sprawling cast and this was no exception — here we had Michael O’Hare, Tamlyn Tomita, Jerry Doyle, Mira Furlan, Peter Jurasik, Andreas Katsulas and Patricia Tallman as the principal performers. 

It is said that following the success of the movie, Warner Bros. Television commissioned the series for production in May of that year, as part of its Prime Time Entertainment Network. The series would go on the air the next air in January. 

The pilot was quite different from the series. For example, Patricia Tallman who played Lyta Alexander here was replaced by Andrea Thompson as Talia Winters but would return later in the series, first as a recurring character and then as a regular. And the First Officer who was Laurel Takashima as played here by Tamlyn Tomita was replaced for the series by Claudia Christian who played Susan Ivanova. 

Straczynski later rejiggered it into a different version which is longer and adds footage that was obviously not seen in the original version including Kosh briefly speaking to Sinclair.

Reception by critics at the time was not overwhelming. The Boston Globe reviewer who saw it said that “Great special effects do not make for great science fiction. Writing is what makes TV series cook. Unfortunately, writing is the single biggest problem haunting Babylon 5.” And Variety said “It’s going to be a close call whether to make “Babylon 5” a series or just leave it as this one-shot telefilm. As a stand-alone, “Babylon 5” falls short of the mark, but it’s a serviceable first episode.”

It currently holds a sixty-eight percent rating among audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes. 

(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born February 22, 1917 Reed Crandall. Illustrator and penciller best known for the Forties Quality Comics‘ Blackhawk (a DC property later) and for stories in myriad EC Comics during the 1950s.  In the late Sixties, he did the illustration work on King Features Syndicate’s King Comics comic-book version of the syndicate’s Flash Gordon strip. He’s been inducted into Will Eisner Award Hall of Fame. (Died 1982.)
  • Born February 22, 1925 Edward Gorey. I’m reasonably sure that his animated introduction to the PBS series Mystery! was my first encounter with him. I will recommend Gorey CatsThe Haunted Tea-Cosy: A Dispirited and Distasteful Diversion for Christmas and The Doubtful Guest. Ok if he’s not genre but if he’s still fun and delightfully weird. Oh, and do go read Elephant House: Or, the Home of Edward Gorey, with superb photographs and text by Kevin McDermott. (Died 2000.)
  • Born February 22, 1929 James Hong, 93. Though not quite genre, he became known to audiences through starring in The New Adventures of Charlie Chan in the late Fifties. Genre wise, his first role was in Godzilla, King of the Monsters! voicing Ogata/Serizawa. He then pops up in The Satan Bug as Dr. Yang and next is seen playing Ho Lee in Destination Inner Space. You’ll no doubt recognize Colossus: The Forbin Project where he’s Dr. Chin but I’ll bet you’ve never heard of, oh wait you have, Blade Runner in which he’s Hannibal Chew and Big Trouble In Little China which I love in which he’s wizard David Lo Pan. It’s back to obscure films after that with next up being Shadowzone where he’s Dr. Van Fleet and Dragonfight where he’s Asawa. He’s next in The Shadow as Li Peng and he’s Che’tsai in Tank Girl.  He’s Mr. Wu in the very loose adaption of the classic The Day the Earth Stood Still
  • Born February 22, 1930 Edward Hoch, The lines between detective fiction and genre fiction can be awfully blurry at times. ISFDB listed him but I was damned if I could figure out why considering he’s known as a writer of deceive fiction who wrote several novels and close to a thousand short stories. It was his Simon Ark character who was the protagonist of Hoch’s first published story and who was ultimately featured in thirty-nine  of his stories that made him a genre writer as Ark is the cursed by God immortal doomed to wander forevermore and solved crimes. (Died 2008.)
  • Born February 22, 1937 Joanna Russ. Is it fair to say she’s known as much for her feminist literary criticism as her SF writings? That The Female Man is her best known work suggest my question really isn’t  relevant as there may be no difference between the two. She was for a long time an influential reviewer for Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction where I think it would fair to say that you knew clearly what she thought of a given work. (Died 2011.)
  • Born February 22, 1953 Genny Dazzo, 69. She attended the first Star Trek Convention in New York. She was later involved in the local SF con, Lunacon. Moving out to LA, she was on the committee for all of the LA Worldcons as well as many Westercons, Loscons, and AnimeLA. Fan Guest of Honor at DeepSouthCon 31 and Loscon 27 (with husband Craig Miller).
  • Born February 22, 1972 Duane Swierczynski, 50. Though a mystery writer by trade, he’s also worked as a writer at both DC and Marvel on some very impressive projects. He did writing duties on the second volume of time traveling soldier Cable, penned the Birds of Prey as part of The New 52 relaunch and wrote an excellent Punisher one-off, “Force of Nature”.

(8) REMEMBER THE BOSS. Last November, a Mark Twain Signed Copy of A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court went for $68,750 at auction. Interestingly, bidding started at only $2,400 – there’s a video but it’s not a very visual experience.

Signed on front pastedown, “Taking the pledge will not / make bad liquor good, but it will improve it. / Mark Twain / Oct / 06.”

(9) SUBGENRES. At CrimeReads, Richard Thomas explains what “New Weird and “hopepunk” fiction are all about in “Time to Discover Your New Favorite Sub-Genre of Fiction”, which you might not have guessed are areas of expertise for an author whose forthcoming collection is titled Spontaneous Human Combustion.

As a reader, and viewer, of contemporary dark stories, I’m most drawn to work that does not sit nicely in the middle of a major genre. I’m drawn to the periphery, the edges, the shadows, and cobwebbed corners. And these three subgenres—neo-noir, new-weird, and hopepunk—all have those traits in common. They are looking to pull us in with techniques, tropes, rules, and histories that are familiar–so we’ll know how to access these works, how to set up our expectations. And then…they subvert those expectations. Not with deus ex machina twists that come out of nowhere, but with unique moments, surprises that feel fated, and endings that are earned. And I think it’s okay to be polarizing, too. As a writer, I’d rather have half my audience hate what I did and the other have love it, then have 90% think it was just okay. And I think the films coming out from A24 and Neon, television shows like Squid Game and Midnight Mass, and books being written by award-winning authors such as Stephen Graham Jones, Usman T. Malik, A. C. Wise, Brian Evenson, and Kelly Robson are doing the same thing. They are honoring the past, pouring themselves into the work, and then taking us someplace new, inspired, and unsettling. And isn’t that why we’re here?…

(10) STAPLEDON ON FILM. Chicago Reader’s Maxwell Rabb praises “Last and First Men”.

Before his untimely death, the prophetic Icelandic composer Jóhann Jóhansson completed his first and final film, exploring a delicate space between the literary and the cinematic for a science fiction classic. Last and First Men is the composer’s reimagined narrative of Olaf Stapledon’s triumphant sci-fi novel by the same name. Jóhansson’s haunting adaptation facilitates a chilling link between two distinct humanities spanning across two billion years…. 

(11) HOME IMPROVEMENT. “Now Witness the Power of This Armed and Fully Operational Space Toilet” – John Scalzi explains his bathroom upgrade at Whatever. How can you not read a post that has such a perfect headline?

Last year Krissy decided that she wanted to upgrade our bathroom suite, and not in just a “new hand towels and shower curtain” way — a whole revamp. I was fine with this, I said, if I got what I wanted out of it: a supercool space age “intelligent toilet” with all the bells and whistles. It took a while, because 2021 was The Year of Supply Chain Issues, but the new bathroom is 90% completed and the Space Toilet is now installed and operational….

(12) THE STARS MY DETONATION. “A supernova could light up the Milky Way at any time. Astronomers will be watching” promises Nature.

Masayuki Nakahata has been waiting 35 years for a nearby star to explode.

He was just starting out in science the last time it happened, in February 1987, when a dot of light suddenly appeared in the southern sky. This is the closest supernova seen during modern times; and the event, known as SN 1987A, gained worldwide media attention and led to dramatic advances in astrophysics.

Nakahata was a graduate student at the time, working on what was then one of the world’s foremost neutrino catchers, the Kamiokande-II detector at the Kamioka Underground Observatory near Hida, Japan. He and a fellow student, Keiko Hirata, spotted evidence of neutrinos pouring out of the supernova — the first time anyone had seen these fundamental particles originating from anywhere outside the Solar System.

Now, Nakahata, a physicist at the University of Tokyo, is ready for when a supernova goes off. He is head of the world’s largest neutrino experiment of its kind, Super-Kamiokande, where upgrades to its supernova alert system were completed late last year. The improvements will enable the observatory’s computers to recognize when it is detecting neutrinos from a supernova, almost in real time, and to send out an automated alert to conventional telescopes worldwide….

(13) THEY CAN DIG IT. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] At The Space Review, John Strickland looks at the logistics of Elon Musk’s Mars plans, including Musk’s claim that he will have to take one million tons of stuff to Mars to make the mission work and how large Martian farms would have to be to supply enough food for the mission. “Building Musk’s path to Mars”.

…Partial self-sufficiency depends heavily on two issues: energy production and food production, which itself depends on energy production. In addition, both depend on the ability to build industrial facilities to make fuel and materials, and to construct pressurized habitats to house crew and provide growing areas for food plants.

Most people greatly underestimate the effort it will take to build growing areas and grow food crops on Mars or in space. On Earth, a one-square-kilometer (247-acre) farm gets a maximum of about a one gigawatt of sunlight on a clear day, at noon in midsummer. Much less than this gets to the plants due to clouds, etc., and the plants only use about 1% of what they get to make plant tissue, only part of which is actually edible food. To create one square kilometer of pressurized growing space will require a huge amount of structural materials, and most of that will need to be made locally. Even so, Elon Musk estimates that he will need to transport one million tons of cargo to Mars before a settlement is relatively self-sufficient.

It is important to realize how large the SpaceX cargo capacity to an operating Mars development base will be. Most NASA concepts envision barely enough mass—typically a few tens of tons—to support a crew for one short mission. The high SpaceX mass transport capacity will allow a large amount of industrial equipment to be sent. This would include equipment designed to smelt Mars minerals into metals, alloy them, and then to turn the structural metals into pressurized habitats, drill rigs, and other kinds of equipment. Large amounts of other artificial materials, such as plastics and polymers, will also be produced. Tunnel boring and lining equipment would also be included. Operations will be limited more by manpower than by lack of equipment and supplies.

Musk has a goal of building the large fleet of Starships needed to carry the required amount of equipment and supplies to get a settlement going. If an advanced Starship stage can carry 200 tons of cargo to the surface of Mars, 5,000 trips of such vehicles to Mars would be able to carry the one million tons. Ignoring the prior build-up phase, if he had 500 Starship stages with the tankers to support them, he would be able to transport that much during just ten Mars launch windows or in about 22 years. In actuality, the number of flights would be increasing from year to year, as the 500 stages could carry 100,000 tons during each window, and the existing crew would not be able to handle such a large volume of materials without a carefully planned ramp-up sequence….

(14) BIG BIRD. “Scottish fossil of flying reptile leaves scientists ‘gobsmacked’” says Yahoo!

A fossil jawbone peeking out from a limestone seashore on Scotland’s Isle of Skye led scientists to discover the skeleton of a pterosaur that showed that these remarkable flying reptiles got big tens of millions of years earlier than previously known.

Researchers said on Tuesday this pterosaur, named Dearc sgiathanach, lived roughly 170 million years ago during the Jurassic Period, soaring over lagoons in a subtropical landscape and catching fish and squid with crisscrossing teeth perfect for snaring slippery prey.

Its scientific name, pronounced “jark ski-an-ach,” means “winged reptile” in Gaelic.

With a wingspan of about 8 feet (2.5 meters), Dearc was the Jurassic’s largest-known pterosaur and the biggest flying creature that had inhabited Earth to that point in time. Some pterosaurs during the subsequent Cretaceous Period achieved much greater dimensions – as big as fighter jets. But Dearc shows that this scaling up had its origins much earlier….

(15) RELIEF PITCH ON THE WAY. Ryan George came out with his first Pitch Meeting in a month for a film that isn’t genre (Uncharted Pitch Meeting) and says at the end that he is leaving Screen Rant – but it’s barely an inconvenience! He’s starting his own channel on March 10.

(16) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In “Honest Trailers: Encanto,” the Screen Junkies say the newest Disney animated film has “so many characters that even the characters can’t keep up with the characters” and at least the fifth villain in a Disney cartoon named Bruno.  And how did it take Disney this long to find out that capybaras are adorable?

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