Pixel Scroll 1/30/23 Many Scrolls And Files Knew What It Was To Be Roasted In The Depths Of The Pixels That Day, I Can Tell You

(1) PUBLISHING CONTROVERSY REVISITED. Pamela Paul, former New York Times Book Review editor, returned to the three-year-old American Dirt controversy in an op-ed for the New York Times: “The Long Shadow of ‘American Dirt’”.

…From the moment Cummins’s agent sent “American Dirt” out to potential publishers, it looked like a winner. The manuscript led to a bidding war among nine publishing imprints, resulting in a game-changing, seven-figure deal for its author. In the run-up to publication, as the editor of The New York Times Book Review, I asked attendees at Book Expo, then the most significant annual publishing conference, which upcoming book they were most excited about. The answer was as unanimous as I’ve ever heard: “American Dirt.” Publishers, editors, booksellers, librarians were all wildly enthusiastic: “American Dirt” wasn’t only a gripping novel — it brought attention to one of the most vexing and heartbreaking issues of our time, the border crisis. This, its champions believed, was one of those rare books that could both enthrall readers and change minds.

But in December 2019, a month before the novel’s release, Myriam Gurba, a Latina writer whose memoir, “Mean,” had been published a couple of years earlier by a small press, posted a piece that Ms. magazine had commissioned as a review of “American Dirt,” and then killed. In her blog post and accompanying review, Gurba characterized the novel as “fake-assed social justice literature,” “toxic heteroromanticism” and “sludge.” It wasn’t just that Gurba despised the book. She insisted that the author had no right to write it.

A central charge was that Cummins, who identifies as white and Latina but is not an immigrant or of Mexican heritage, wasn’t qualified to write an authentic novel about Latin American characters. Another writer soon asserted in an op-ed that the “clumsy, ill-conceived” rollout of Cummins’s novel was proof that American publishing was “broken.” The hype from the publisher, which marketed the book as “one of the most important books for our times,” was viewed as particularly damning. Echoing a number of writers and activists, the op-ed writer said it was incumbent upon Mexican Americans and their “collaborators” to resist the “ever-grinding wheels of the hit-making machine,” charging it was “unethical” to allow Oprah’s Book Club to wield such power. More than 100 writers put their names to a letter scolding Oprah for her choice….

Dana Snitzky takes issue: “This Week in Books: It’s Pamela Paul Week”.

…American Dirt was merely criticized. Criticized, probably most famously (yet not by any means initially) in the pages of the New York Times Book Review. The New York Times Book Review as edited by Pamela Paul. Yes, friends, you heard correctly—as Max Read and others online have pointed out, Pamela Paul’s powers of discourse are such that she has established a vertically integrated outrage machine, seeing the process through from initial cancellation to reactionary backlash…. 

Silvia Moreno-Garcia addressed Paul’s op-ed in an extended Twitter thread that starts here. A few of her comments are:

(2) ELSEWHERE MONTELEONE KEEPS DIGGING THE HOLE DEEPER. It was taken down today, however, yesterday YouTube’s Hatchet Mouth posted their “Tom Monteleone Interview”, an extended opportunity for Monteleone to deliver more remarks in the vein of his now-removed Facebook post. He belittled a past Horror Writers Association award winner in derogatory racial terms (while making every effort to assign the wrong ethnicity to the person being insulted), and gave the same treatment to the woman who called for the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer to be renamed (as it was). Copies of the YouTube auto-generated transcript are floating around. In fact, I made my own if you need to see one…

(3) BACK TO THE DINOSAURS. Apex Publishing’s Jason Sizemore, responding to a particular thread within the Monteleone kerfuffle, told Facebook readers what was wrong with the latest attack on an award-winning story.  

There’s another old white male author who has found offense at the award recognition of non-white, non-male writers by the HWA. It’s been all over my FB feed.

Inevitably, the usual cadre of traditionalists and self-anointed old school sci-fi readers rallied around this writer rehashing the same tired arguments that showcase a poor understanding of capitalism, reality, and the depth of fiction they bemoan.

Apex Magazine was accused of catering to reactionary and psychotic (not my words) people.

“If You Were a Dinosaur, My Love” by Rachel Swirsky was evoked. Again. This story came out in March of 2013….

(4) BUFFY SLAYS TROLLS & SLIMEBALLS. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] Working now from a position of earned respect and power, Sarah Michelle Gellar expressed her opinions on mistreatment of women in visual media. In an interview with the Guardian, she takes shots at both the trolls who sit in front of the screen and certain slimeballs who reside behind the cameras. “’A lot of the demons seem a little cheesy now’: Sarah Michelle Gellar on Buffy, her burnout and her comeback”.

…For all its similarities to Buffy, Wolf Pack has one key difference: this time Gellar is in a position of influence, as an executive producer as well as the lead.

The title can be almost meaningless, a way to sweeten the deal for a star, but Gellar says she told Davis: “I’ve been doing this for 40 years. I have a lot of experience, and I have a lot to bring to the table. If you’re just looking for an actor that just wants to have the credit, I’m not your person. I’m going to have ideas, and I’m going to be vocal about them.”…

(5) IN MEMORIAM 2022. Steven H Silver’s list “In Memoriam: Those We Have Lost in 2022” has been posted at Amazing Stories.

(6) LISA LORING OBITUARY. TV’s original Wednesday Addams, Lisa Loring, died January 30 at age 64 reports the BBC.

…Her daughter, Vanessa Foumberg, told The Hollywood Reporter she died of a stroke caused by high blood pressure.

“She went peacefully with both her daughters holding her hands,” Foumberg said.

The actress had been on life support for three days, her friend Laurie Jacobson posted on Facebook.

“She is embedded in the tapestry that is pop culture and in our hearts always as Wednesday Addams,” she said in her post.

The Addams Family, which was the first adaptation of Charles Addams’ New Yorker cartoons, ran from 1964 to 1966 on ABC.

Ms Loring also appeared in the soap opera “As the World Turns” and the sitcom “The Pruitts of Southampton.”…

(7) MEMORY LANE.

1987 [Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

And now we come to the end of the genre quotes (at least for now) with a most splendid one from Ellen Kushner’s Swordspoint: A Melodrama of Manners novel. As y’all know, it’s the first work of the Riverside series which continues in The Fall of the Kings, was co-written with her wife Delia Sherman, and finished in The Privilege of the Sword.

Yes, it’s one of my favorite novels, and the series as well, to re-read. Preferably on a cold winter’s night. I do think that Swordspoint is the best of the novels though The Privilege of the Sword is quite tasty as well. 

And you have to love a society where chocolate is the drink of choice among everyone. 

BY MIDDAY, MOST OF THE NOBLES ON THE HILL COULD be counted on to be awake. The Hill sat lordly above the rest of the city, honeycombed with mansions, landscaped lawns, elaborate gates, and private docks on the cleanest part of the river. Its streets had been built expressly wide and smooth enough to accommodate the carriages of nobles, shortly after carriages had been invented. Usually, mornings on the Hill were passed in leisurely exchange of notes written on colored, scented, and folded paper, read and composed in various states of dishabille over cups of rich chocolate and crisp little triangles of toast (all the nourishment that ought to be managed after a night’s reveling); but on the morning after the garden duel, with the night’s events ripe for comment, no one had the patience to wait for a reply, so the streets were unusually crowded with carriages and pedestrians of rank.

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born January 30, 1911 Hugh Marlowe. First let me note that he was first to play the title character in the very first radio version of The Adventures of Ellery Queen. No, it’s not even genre adjacent but neat nonetheless. As regards genre roles, he’s Tom Stevens in The Day the Earth Stood Still, and Dr. Russell A. Marvin in Earth vs. the Flying Saucers. He was also Harold McPherson in Seven Days in May if you want to count that as genre which I definitely think you should. (Died 1982.)
  • Born January 30, 1920 Michael Anderson. English Director best remembered for Around the World in 80 Days, Logan’s Run, and perhaps not nearly as much for, Doc Savage: The Man of Bronze. Yes, I saw it. It was, errrr, interesting. He also directed The Martian Chronicles series. (Died 2018.)
  • Born January 30, 1924 Lloyd Alexander. His most well-crafted work is The Chronicles of Prydain. Though drawn off Welsh mythology, they deviate from it in significant ways stripping it of much of its negativity.  To my belief, it is his only genre writing as I don’t hold the Westmark trilogy to actually be fantasy, just an alternative telling of European history. Splitting cats hairs? Maybe. He was also one of the founders of Cricket, an illustrated literary journal for children. The late illustrator Trina Schart Hyman whose art I lust after, errrr, adore was another founder. (Died 2007.)
  • Born January 30, 1926 Peter Brachacki. Set designer for the very first episode of Doctor Who. Everything I’ve been able to read on him says that he was not at all interested in working on the series and did so reluctantly under orders. Doctor Who producer Verity Lambert would later recount that she was impressed with Brachacki’s work on the TARDIS interior even though she personally did not like him at all. His design elements persist throughout the fifty years the series has been produced. His only other genre work that I’ve been able to find was Blake’s 7 and a short series called the The Witch’s Daughter done in the late Seventies. The BBC wasn’t always great at documenting who worked on what series. (Died 1980.)
  • Born January 30, 1941 Gregory Benford, 82. His longest running series is Galactic Center Saga, a series I find a little akin to Saberhagen’s Beserker series. I’ve not read enough of it to form a firm opinion though I know some of you of have done so.  Other novels I’ve read by him include Timescape (superb) and A Darker Geometry: A Man-Kzin Novel which was actually was quite excellent. Yes I do read Baen Books. 
  • Born January 30, 1955 Judith Tarr, 68.  I’m fond of her Richard the Lionheart novels which hew closely to the historical record while introducing just enough magic to make them fantasy. The novels also make good use of her keen knowledge of horsemanship as well. Her Queen of the Amazons pairs the historical Alexander the Great, with a meeting with the beautiful Hippolyta, who is queen of the Amazons. Highly recommended.
  • Born January 30, 1973 Jordan Prentice, 50. Inside every duck is a self-described person of short stature. His words, not mine. In the case of Howard the Duck from the movie of the same name, one of those persons was him. He’s not in a lot of SFF roles after his performing debut there though he shows up next as Fingers Finnian in Wolf Girl, playing Sherrif Shelby in Silent But Deadly, Napoleon in Mirror Mirror and Nigel Thumb in The Night Before the Night Before Christmas.
  • Born January 30, 1974 Christian Bale, 49. First enters our corner of the mediaverse in a Swedish film called Mio in the Land of Faraway where he plays a character named Yum Yum. Note though that he doesn’t speak in this role as his Swedish voice is done by Max Winerdah. So his playing Demetrius in A Midsummer Night’s Dream is his first speaking role. Next up is American Psycho in which he was Patrick Bateman, that was followed by a role in Reign of Fire as Quinn Abercromby. He was John Preston in Equilibrium, and he voiced Howl in Howl’s Moving Castle, a film well worth seeing.  Need I say who he plays in Batman Begins? I thought not. He’d repeat that in The Dark Knight and The Dark Knight Rises. Amidst being Batman, he was also John Connor in Terminator Salvation. His last genre role to date was voicing Bagheera in Mowgli: Legend of the Jungle asked off Kipling’s All the Mowgli Stories. He’s got a television genre credit, to wit Jim Hawkins in Treasure Island off the Robert Louis Stevenson of that name.

(9) COMICS SECTION.

  • Candorville shows a dad telling his shrink about trying to get his kid to watch Star Trek.
  • Foxtrot’s “Goodnight Doom” adapts the verses of a children’s book to a kid’s computer.

(10) ALTERNATE OVAL OFFICES. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] Welcome to an alternate universe. Actually, six different ones.

Have you ever wondered what the White House Oval Office would look like if it were outfitted completely in IKEA furniture? Or perhaps another home furnishing brand? House Fresh will be glad to show you.

Some of the choices are breathtaking; albeit perhaps not in the way a President might desire. “If 6 Iconic Home Brands Redesigned The Oval Office” at HouseFresh.

Consider the Pottery Barn version….

(11) THE BIRD HAS THE WORD. “’An Ostrich Told Me the World Was Fake’ Director Discusses Oscar Nom” in Variety.

…The short film follows a young telemarketer named Neil who is confronted by a mysterious talking ostrich who tells him that the universe is actually stop-motion animation. Neil, voiced by Pendragon, then tries to convince his colleagues about the discovery….

Let’s talk about “An Ostrich Told Me the World Was Fake” and its journey. Where did it begin?

It was part of a doctorate in visual arts program at film school. It had to come from a research perspective. The project needed to have a level of innovation and something that you were doing differently that you could write about and talk about. I wanted to do something on stop-motion because it’s something that I love doing, but I hadn’t thought too much about it yet. There was so much potential about what could be done and explored.

I wanted to look at the handmade quality of stop-motion animation and ensure they were as apparent as possible. That led me down this path of doing something that breaks the fourth wall and deconstructs it, so that the audience could be watching the behind-the-scenes as they were watching the film. I thought it was entertaining because it would show all that goes into making this kind of film. But then on the other side, it’s like, how do I make sure that it’s not too distracting that you can still connect with these characters? Finding that balance was difficult….

(12) VIDEO OF THE DAY. “Honest Trailers – Snakes on a Plane” shows that if you steal ideas from enough different places it’s not plagiarism. But first, you also have to steal enough special effects snakes.

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

Pixel Scroll 12/7/22 Pixels: What Are They Scrolling? Are They Scrolling Anything? Let’s Find Out!

(1) 2022 #BLACKSPECFIC. FIYAH has posted the 2022 #BlackSpecFic Report, an examination of the state of representation of Black authors within the speculative short fiction market published in 2021. This report was composed by L. D. Lewis and Nelson Rolon with sponsor support from the Carl Brandon Society, Diabolical Plots, and CatStone Books.

In the report, “a market is considered “successful” with regard to its publication of Black authors if their percentages are within 2% of the U.S. census reported Black population (13.6%)” —

Highlights

  • Of the 23 pro and semipro markets examined in all 2015-2017 studies, 11 showed an increase in publishing works by Black authors relative to their respective outputs.
  • While Black editors of short speculative fiction continue to represent a small portion of the field, nearly all of the surveyed markets who host a Black owner, editor, or guest editor made the “Most Successful (without reprints)” list. And those four publications (Anathema, Fantasy Magazine, Fantasy & Science Fiction, Uncanny Magazine) are responsible for 25.4% of the entire field’s Black-authored works.

The next report is slated for 2025.

(2) AUTHORS NOT GETTING PAID. In the Guardian, Joanne Harris states “Horribly low pay is pushing out my fellow authors – and yes, that really does matter”, and goes on to spotlight how bad things are.

…We arrive at what we imagined would be the creative heart of an industry, but it turns out to be a room full of slot machines. Some of us are lucky enough to feed the right slot at the right time and hit jackpots of varying sizes. Others bring their own luck to the room – they can afford to feed the slots regardless of what they get in return. But what about everyone else? Who can honestly afford to stay?

The trouble with luck is that it is not a reliable foundation for a profession. Nor is it a reliable way to run an industry. Yet here we are.

When the ALCS first ran its survey of author incomes in 2006 it found that the median self-employed income of a full-time author was £12,330. In 2022 – a year in which multiple publishers have posted record profits while freelancers in all professions are still reeling from the impact of Covid-19, Brexit and rising living costs – the median full-time income has fallen to £7,000. That’s a drop of more than 60% when accounting for inflation.

There is also a more worrying, granular luck at play. The gender pay gap is getting worse – men earn 41% more than women (compared with 33% five years ago). Payment for Black and mixed-heritage authors is a full 51% lower than for white authors. Young authors earn less, as do older ones. Fewer authors than ever are receiving advances…

(3) LOCUS INDIEGOGO AT 82%. With 8 days to go, the Locus Magazine Indiegogo appeal has raised $61,790 of its $75,000 goal.

(4) AMAZING KICKSTARTER FALLS SHORT. Despite attracting contributions from 114 backers, the Amazing Stories Kickstarter failed reports publisher Kermit Woodall. Only $3,330 was pledged towards the $13,000 goal.

I’m afraid Amazing Stories failed to meet its Kickstarter goal.  This means the SOL SYSTEM issue won’t be coming out as planned.  Kickstarter won’t take pledge money from backers. No worries!

We do still plan to have an online convention, I can’t promise all the same writers will attend, but it will be different and possibly better! More news as that develops.

…The special SOL SYSTEM issue won’t happen.

(5) GENRE ON STRIKE. The call is out for authors and readers to join the HarperCollins picket line on December 16. (Via John Scalzi.)

(6) IN COLLABORATION. “I See, Therefore You Are: PW Talks with Robert Lanza and Nancy Kress”, a Publishers Weekly Q&A.

Scientist Lanza conveys his theory that “the universe springs from life, not the other way around” in Observer (Story Plant, Jan.), a thriller coauthored with Kress.

How did you come to develop your theory of biocentrism?

Lanza: It goes back to when I was a young boy, when I used to explore the forests of eastern Massachusetts. I was observing nature and pondering the larger existential questions, and it occurred to me that the static objective view of reality that I was being taught just wasn’t right. The Nobel Prize was just awarded just a few months ago to three gentlemen whose experiments showed that entangled particles change behavior depending on whether you look at them or not. Why? The answer is that that reality is a process that involves our consciousness.

How did this partnership begin?

Kress: Our agent put us together, because Bob, who’s published several nonfiction books on biocentrism, wanted to embody his ideas in a novel.
I was intrigued by the project from the very beginning because I have always thought that consciousness is woven into the universe. What we wanted to write together was about how these ideas might inform a possible future. And we worked until we got something we were both happy with….

(7) MEMORY LANE.

2019 [By Cat Eldridge.] Rudyard Kipling statue 

So today is we’re looking at a quite new statue, that  of Rudyard Kipling which unveiled in Burwash just three years ago. Kipling as you know did The Jungle Booksand The Just Stories, plus two true pieces of SF in his Aerial Board of Control series, With the Night Mail and As Easy as A.B.C.: a Tale of 2159 A.D.

The fully life-size figure which is located on High Street shows Kipling,  who lived in the village, sitting on a bench also cast in bronze. Burwash Parish Council commissioned the piece in 2018 and it was created by local sculptor Victoria Atkinson.

Atkinson researched Kipling using archives at Bateman’s,  the Jacobean house which was the home of Rudyard Kipling, and the National Portrait Gallery with the Kipling Society providing details such as Kipling’s height and hat and shoe size.  Of course she needed a live model to actually create the statue so she used one of her neighbors who wore a thick suit of the type favored by Kipling as a model to get the look and pose of Kipling right.

Oh the book underneath the bench? It’s The Just So Stories

It was actually, to keep costs down, cast in Athens, Greece.

Now comes a really cool thing. The unveiling took place on February 25, 2019. So who did the unveiling? Why it was Mike Kipling, grandson of Rudyard Kipling! 

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born December 7, 1915 Eli Wallach. I‘ve a fondness for anyone who appeared on the Sixties Batman series. He played Mr. Freeze in a two part story, the third actor to do as both George Sanders and Otto Preminger had done so in previous two part stories. He also had one-offs in Worlds BeyondAlfred Hitchcock PresentsVeritas: The Quest and Tales of the Unexpected. (Died 2014.)
  • Born December 7, 1923 Johnny Duncan. Was the Sixties Batman the first Batman series? You know better. Johnny here was Robin on Batman And Robin (1949) for Columbia Pictures Corporation. It ran for fifteen episodes of roughly fifteen or so minutes apiece. Robert Lowery was Wayne / Batman. He has only one other genre appearance, an uncredited one in Plan 9 from Outer Space as Second Stretcher Bearer. (Died 2016.)
  • Born December 7, 1915 Leigh Brackett. Let’s us praise her first for her Retro Hugo for Shadow Over Mars, originally published in the Fall 1944 issue of Startling Stories. Now surely her scripts for The Big Sleep and The Long Goodbye are genre adjacent? Ok, I’m stretching it, I know.  Ok, then her very pulpy Sea-Kings of Mars is? Being rhetorical there. And I love her Eric John Stark stories! (Much of these were written with her husband Edmond Hamilton.) She completed The Empire Strikes Back script for George Lucas just before she died, and although it did not become the final script many of its elements made it into the movie and she received credit along with Lawrence Kasdan. (Died 1978.)
  • Born December 7, 1945 W.D. Richter, 77. As a screenwriter, he was responsible for Invasion Of The Body Snatchers, Dracula, and Big Trouble In Little China, the latter one of my favorite popcorn films. As a director, he brought Late for Dinner and Buckaroo Banzai Across The 8th Dimension to us. He was also co-writer with Stephen King on the adaptation of King’s Needful Things novel to film.
  • Born December 7, 1949 Tom Waits, 73. He’s got uncredited (but obviously known) roles in Wolfen and The Fisher King. He is in Bram Stoker’s Dracula as R.M. Renfield, and he shows up in Mystery Men as Doc Heller and in Mr.Nick in The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus. He’s simply Engineer in The Book of Eli
  • Born December 7, 1953 Madeleine E Robins, 69. I’m very fond of her Sarah Tolerance series which starts often Point of Honour, it features a female PI in an alternate version of Georgian London. The Stone War set in a post-apocalyptic NYC is quite interesting as well, and she has quite a bit short fiction, though only three have been collected so far in Lucstones: Three Tales of Meviel. Much of her fiction is available from the usual digital suspects.
  • Born December 7, 1973 Kelly Barnhill, 49. Her The Girl Who Drank the Moon novel was awarded the Newbery Medal and she was a McKnight Writing Fellow in Children’s Literature. Four years ago, her “Unlicensed Magician” novella received the World Fantasy Award for Long Fiction. Iron Hearted Violet was nominated as Andre Norton Award. 
  • Born December 8, 1979 Jennifer Carpenter, 43. Ok, usually I pay absolutely no attention to TV awards, but she got a nomination for her work as Emily Rose in The Exorcism of Emily Rose. It was the MTV Movie Award for Best Scared-As-Shit Performance. It later got renamed to Best Frightened Performance. She’s apparently only got two other genre credits, both voice work. One is as Black Widow in Avengers Confidential: Black Widow & Punisher which is a horridly-done anime film that I do not recommend; the other is as Selina Kyle aka Catwoman in Batman: Gotham by Gaslight, the animated version of the Mike Mignola Elseworld series which I strongly recommend. Possibly the Limitless series she was in is genre, possibly it isn’t…

(9) BRACKETT BIRTHDAY SUGGESTION. Bill Higgins— Beam Jockey – thinks this would be most appropriate.

(10) ENTERPRISING LAWYERS. This legal advertisement is making the rounds in social media.

Evidently the “Shaw-Louvois” firm name is appropriate for Trek because in the 1967 Original Series episode Court Martial Lt. Areel Shaw prosecutes Captain Kirk, and in ST:TNG Phillipa Louvois is a member of Starfleet’s Judge Advocate General branch who has to rule on the rights of Lt. Cmdr. Data in “The Measure of a Man.”

(11) CANCEL THOSE KILLER ROBOTS. Gizmodo reports “San Francisco Votes Down Killer Robots After Fierce Backlash”.

In a hasty retreat, San Francisco lawmakers have reversed a vote allowing local police to use remote-controlled robots equipped with lethal explosives in extreme situations. The move comes after a wave of backlash from the community and activist organizations.

San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors voted 8-3 Tuesday on a revised version of the policy, which now prohibits police from using robots to kill people. Tuesday’s vote was a surprise turn of events after the board approved the policy last week, including a clause allowing for the lethal bots. As reported by the San Francisco Chronicle, the board rarely changes its mind on second round votes, which are typically seen as formalities. However, since the first vote on Nov. 29, the policy has received a wide range of criticism both locally and nationally. Lawmakers will debate the issue for another week before voting on yet another version of the policy next week….

Cat Eldridge is skeptical: “So the Terminators lost this first skirmish against humanity. But to paraphrase Arnold‘s character in the first Terminator film, ‘They’ll be back.’” 

(12) GOOD LORD. “Figgy Pudding | SPAM® Brand”. Eh, so the main ingredient is still pork? Then shouldn’t this be Piggy Pudding?

(13) HOT DAGNABIT. Here’s an NPR segment and another article on this important topic: “Swear words across languages may have more in common than previously thought”.

AILSA CHANG, HOST:

There’s a common trope in sci fi when characters curse.

RYAN MCKAY: I watched “Mork & Mindy” when I was growing up.

CHANG: That’s psychologist Ryan McKay. He’s, of course, talking about a sitcom that starred a young Robin Williams as an extraterrestrial named Mork.

MCKAY: He would often cry out shazbot when he would, you know, stub his toe or bang his head or something….

Inverse ran an article about the same study: “Scientists want to know why swear words share this one universal trait”. And unlike NPR, they didn’t bury the lede:

…Rather than present the perfect ingredients for a swear, this study identifies something that all swear words seem to lack. Across languages, swear words tend to exclude sounds like l, r, and w, known as approximants.

If you’re like me, then the first thing you did was scour your brain for exceptions to the rule (and “asshole” was the first one that came to mind, followed by “wanker”). This isn’t to say that swear words wholesale lack these phonemes, but statistically speaking, curses across different languages are less likely to contain approximants….

(14) THIRTY. Open Culture introduces “The 30 Greatest Films Ever Made: A Video Essay” by Lewis Bond from his Youtube channel The Cinema Cartography. Three genre films make Bond’s top 10.

… You may not feel exactly the same as Bond does about both My Dinner with Andre and the Lord of the Rings trilogy (a rare dual enthusiasm in any case), but seeing where he places them in relation to other movies can help to give you a sense of whether and how they could fit into your own personal canon — as well as the kind of context a film needs to earn its place…

(15) VIDEO OF THE DAY. Via DUST, JJ Pollack’s sci-fi short film Jettison.

A restless young woman ships off to fight an interstellar war, only to struggle with the effects of being cut off from her home by both time and space.

(16) DEFINITELY NOT TODAY’S SCROLL TITLE. By Daniel Dern:

Scrollomon Grundry
Filed On Sunday
Posted On Monday
Notified On Tuesday
Clicked On Wednesday
Commented On Thursday
Fifth’ed On Friday
Stalked On Saturday
This is the lifecycle of
Scrollomon Grundy

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

Pixel Scroll 11/29/22 Hush, Little Pixel, Don’t You Cry; Papa’s Going To Sing You A Scroll

(1) FUTURE TENSE. The November 2022 entry in the Future Tense Fiction series is “Universal Waste” by Palmer Holton, a story about a small-town cop, a murder, and a massive futuristic recycling operation.

It was published along with a response essay, “The Laws of Thermodynamics Will Not Bend for Landfills” by Josh Lepawsky, a researcher on pollution and waste at Memorial University in Canada.

(2) WISCON 2023. Kit Stubbs, Treasurer of SF3, WisCon’s parent not-for-profit organization, rallies everyone with the hashtag Let’s #RebuildWisCon!

WisCon 46 in 2023 is happening!
We are thrilled to announce that Gillian Sochor (she/her, G is soft like “giraffe”, Sochor like “super soaker”) is joining Lindsey and Sherry as our third co-chair. This means we are going ahead with an in-person con for 2023!…

Finances
Thanks to everyone who donated and offered matching gifts last year, we were able to cover the cost of our 2022 hotel contract. We are now looking to raise $30,000 in this year’s annual fundraiser which will allow us to do all kinds of awesome things for WisCon 46 in May 2023, including:

Offset the cost of hotel rooms for members who need to isolate due to COVID-19 and who otherwise might not be able to due to the financial burden

Purchase more high-quality air filters for con spaces and masks for members

Expand the meal voucher program, introduced last year, which enables members in need to eat for free at local restaurants

Continue to offer CART services for transcription, now that the state of Wisconsin is no longer providing funds to offset that cost

And part of that $30,000 will go towards rebuilding WisCon’s savings after last year.

If you weren’t aware, WisCon can’t pay for itself with registrations alone. We try to keep the cost of registration down to make our con as affordable as possible. But what that means is that we’re counting on the members of our community who can chip in extra to do so! Please donate today to help #RebuildWisCon!…

WisCon Member Assistance Fund
This year we’re also looking to raise $3,000 for our WisCon Member Assistance Fund! The WMAF is a specially designated fund that can only be used to provide travel grants to help members attend WisCon. Please consider making a donation via PayPal.

(3) THIS COULD BE YOUR BIG BREAK! Daniel Dern says he won’t be covering Arisia 2023, and suggests I ask another Filer would be interested in getting a press credential to attend and reporting on the convention The upcoming Arisia will be held from January 13-16, 2023, at the Westin Boston Seaport hotel. Vaccination Verification required. If you’re game, email me at mikeglyer (at) cs (dot) com and I will put you in touch with the con. 

(4) GOTHAM AWARDS. Everything Everywhere All at Once, the multiverse-spanning adventure, won Best Feature at the Gotham Awards 2022 reports Variety. And cast member Ke Huy Quan won Best Supporting Performance.   I don’t know why I’ve never heard of the Gotham Awards before, but if they keep going to sff movies I’ll be talking about them in the Scroll again.

(5) NEXT YEAR’S LOSCON. Loscon 49 will be held over Thanksgiving Weekend in 2023. The theme: “Enchanted Loscon”. Guests of Honor — Writer: Peter S. Beagle; Artist: Echo Chernik; Fan: Elayne Pelz. At the LAX Marriott Hotel from November 24-26, 2023. More information at: www.loscon.org.

(6) ZOOMIN’ ABOUT PITTSBURGH. The last FANAC Fan History Zoom of 2022 will be on December 10, about the major fannish breakout in Pittsburgh in the late Sixties and Seventies. Write to [email protected] if you want to get on the list to see it live.

(7) THE BARD IS OPEN. CrimeReads hears from Mary Robinette Kowal “On Writing a New Take on The Thin Man, Set in Space”, about the experience of creating her latest novel.

…Science fiction and fantasy, on the other hand, are driven by the aesthetic. They are about the look and feel. The sense of wonder. They don’t have an inherent plot structure. 

This means that you can map Science Fiction onto a Mystery structure easily. 

When I decided I wanted to do “The Thin Man in space,” I needed to understand the structure of the Nick and Nora movies specifically. So I began by watching all six of the films. This was a great hardship, as I’m sure you can imagine.  Here are some of the beats that are in all of the films: A happily married couple and their small dog solve crime while engaging in banter and drinking too much. Interestingly, they also contain the element that Nick does not want to investigate and Nora really wants him to.  Nick almost always gets along well with law enforcement. He has an uneasy relationship with the wealth of Nora’s family. There’s always a scene in which he goes off sleuthing on his own and carefully looks over a crime scene. More than one murder. 

From there, I started building the world of the novel. THAT is the hallmark of science-fiction and fantasy. We engage in worldbuilding in which we think about how changing an element or introducing a technology has ripple effects. For this, I knew I wanted to be on a cruise ship in space. There’s a writing workshop that my podcast, Writing Excuses, runs every year on a cruise ship. I based my ship, the ISS Lindgren on the types of things that happen on those and extrapolated for the future…. 

(8) UNDER THE HAMMER: GRRM SIGNED MSS. Heritage Auctions is taking bids the rest of the day on “George R. R. Martin. Two Signed Early Partial Manuscripts of Game of Thrones”. Bidding was up to $10,500 when last checked.

George R. R. Martin. Two Signed Early Partial Manuscripts of Game of Thrones. Includes: 1 box, 384 leaves. Typed, dated November 1994. Boldly signed on the cover page in blue sharpie. [Together with]: 3 boxes, 888 leaves. Typed, dated July 1995. Boldly signed on the cover page in blue sharpie.

Two early drafts of the first book from A Song of Ice and Fire, the hit HBO series and international phenomenon.

The impact that A Game of Thrones has had on the fantasy genre, both as a novel and a television series, is almost impossible to exaggerate. Named to the BBC list of “100 ‘most inspiring’ novels” in 2019 alongside C.S. Lewis’s The Chronicles of Narnia, Frank Herbert’s Dune, and Ursula K. Le Guin’s Earthsea trilogy, it almost single-handedly cemented “grimdark” as a fantasy subgenre and helped inspire the likes of Joe Abercrombie and Marlon James, both masters of fantasy in their own right. The overwhelming success of the HBO show redefined fantasy for the general public and has been lauded by both authors and publishers as responsible for boosted sales in fantasy and science fiction….

…As is his typical process, Martin created five copies of each draft of Game of Thrones. Two were kept for his personal files; one was sent to his editor; a fourth was given to Texas A&M University where the archive of Martin’s oeuvre resides; and this, the fifth and final copy, was initially donated to a ConQuesT charity auction, held annually in Kansas City. Parris McBride, Martin’s wife, hoped the charity would get “a few bucks for them;” alas, no one bid on the items. They were then picked up by one of the original book researchers for A Song of Ice and Fire, and from there found their way to Heritage….

(9) AMAZING STORIES KICKSTARTER FINAL WEEK ANNOUNCEMENT. Amazing Stories is in the FINAL week of raising funds through its Kickstarter for “Amazing Stories Annual Special: SOL SYSTEM by Steve Davidson”.

Our annual special issue – Amazing Stories: SOL SYSTEM – a double-sized issue, both in digital and print, of Amazing Stories. It will be chock full of stories set in exciting futures within our solar system. The publication is set for April 2023.

We’re also planning an online convention for April 2023 to celebrate this issue as well. Most of the contributing authors will be there!

We’re really excited about this and we know you’ll love it. Backers of our Kickstarter can choose digital copies of the magazine, print copies, convention memberships, and many more bonus add-ons as well.

(10) THE WATTYS. The winners of Wattpad’s 2022 Watty Awards have posted. The Grand Prize Winner, worth $5,000, is Nichole Cava’s The Vampire Always Bites Twice.

There are also Category Award winners for Fantasy, Science Fiction, Horror, Paranormal, and Fanfiction, to name a few. The website’s format makes it hard to distinguish the shortlist and the winner – more work than I was willing to invest. If you want to try, they’re all at the link.

– Wattpad, the global entertainment company and leading webnovel platform, announced the 2022 Watty Award winners! With over 500 winners across nine languages, the 2022 Watty Awards were the biggest edition yet. This year’s USD $5,000 English-language grand prize went to Nichole Cava for The Vampire Always Bites Twice (55.1K reads), which follows a criminal necromancer and vampire private eye that unexpectedly team up to solve the case of a missing barista. 

In addition to cash prizes, 2022 Watty Award prizes included multiple publishing and entertainment adaptation opportunities from Wattpad WEBTOON Studios and the Wattpad WEBTOON Book Group. Among the more than 30,000 entries for the 2022 Watty Awards, these winning stories were selected…

(11) PYUN OBITUARY. Albert Pyun, director of Cyborg, Interstellar Civil War, Tales of an Ancient Empire,  the Saturn-winning The Sword and the Sorceror and the 1990 version of Captain America, has died November 26 at 69, after several years of dementia and multiple sclerosis.

(12) MEMORY LANE.

2007 [By Cat Eldridge.] Dorothy and Toto in Oz Park (2007)

Fifteen years ago, a very special statue went up in Oz. No, not that Oz, but the park in Chicago, so first let’s talk about that park. It had been developed as part of the Lincoln Park Urban Renewal Area during the Seventies, and this park was formally named the Oz Park in 1976 to honor Baum who settled in Chicago in 1891 in an area west of the park. 

During the Nineties, the Oz Park Advisory Council and Lincoln Park Chamber of Commerce hired Chicago artist John Kearney to do all the figures for the Park. 

He first created a sculpture of the Tin Man which he fashioned out of chrome bumpers. It was his last such sculpture done that way as the bumpers of chrome were increasingly scarce and thus way too expensive.

Next came the Cowardly Lion which was cast in bronze. Take a look at the detail in the fur — quite amazing, isn’t it? 

Next is the rather colorful Scarecrow that is a seven-foot-tall sculpture, cast in an amazing twenty-two separate pieces in Kearney’s own foundry on Cape Cod.  

Now we come to the last statue, Dorothy and Toto. This final statue to be completed was Dorothy and Toto, using the so-called lost wax technique which you can see an example of here being done. Kearney added paint for the blue dress and the iconic ruby red shoes. The final statue was installed fifteen years ago. 

(13) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born November 29, 1910 Kendell Foster Crossen. He was the creator and writer of the Green Lama stories.  The character was a Buddhist crime fighter whose powers were activated upon the recitation of the Tibetan chant om mani padme hum. He also wrote Manning Draco series, an intergalactic insurance investigator, four of which are can be found in Once Upon a Star: A Novel of the Future. The usual suspects has a really deep catalog of his genre work, and the Green Lama stories have been made into audio works as well. (Died 1981.)
  • Born November 29, 1918 Madeleine L’Engle. Writer whose genre work included the splendid YA sequence starting off with A Wrinkle in Time, which won the Newbery Medal and a host of other awards, and has been made into a 2003 television film and a theatrical film directed by Ava DuVernay. She produced numerous loosely-linked sequels, including A Wind in the Door, A Swiftly Tilting Planet, Many Waters, and An Acceptable Time. In addition to her fiction, she wrote poetry and nonfiction, much of which related to her universalist form of Christian faith. She was honored with a World Fantasy Award for Life Achievement in 1997. In 2013, Crater L’Engle on Mercury was named for her. (Died 2007.) (JJ)
  • Born November 29, 1925 Leigh Couch. Science Teacher and Member of First Fandom. Active in fandom, along with her husband and children, during the 1960s and 70s, she was a member of the Ozark Science Fiction Association and one of the editors of its fanzine Sirruish. She was on the committee for the bid to host Worldcon in Hawaii in 1981. She was honored for her contributions as Fan Guest of Honor at the first Archon, the long-running regional convention which grew out of that early St. Louis-area fandom. (Died 1998.) (JJ)
  • Born November 29, 1942 Maggie Thompson, 80. Librarian, Editor, and Fan who, with her husband Don, edited from the 1960s to the 90s the fanzines Harbinger, Comic Art, Rainy Days, and Newfangles, and wrote a column for The Buyer’s Guide for Comic Fandom. When this became the professional publication Comic Buyer’s Guide in 1983, because of their extensive knowledge of comics, she and her husband were hired as editors; after he died in 1994, she continued as editor until it ceased publication in 2013. Under their editorial auspices, it won two Eisner Awards and the Jack Kirby Award. Together they were honored with the Inkpot Award, and twice with the Comic Fan Art Award for Favorite Fan Writers.
  • Born November 29, 1950 Kevin O’Donnell Jr. Writer who produced a number of genre novels and more than 70 short fiction works. He was chair of the Nebula Award Committee for nearly a decade, and business manager for the SFWA Bulletin for several years; he also chaired for 7 years SFWA’s Grievance Committee, which advocates for authors who experience difficulties in dealing with editors, publishers, agents, and other entities. He received the Service to SFWA Award in 2005, and after his death, the award was renamed in his honor. (Died 2012.)
  • Born November 29, 1969 Greg Rucka, 53. Comic book writer and novelist, known for his work on Action ComicsBatwoman and Detective Comics. If you’ve not read it, I recommend reading Gotham Central which he co-created with Ed Brubaker, and over at Marvel, the four-issue Ultimate Daredevil and Elektra which he wrote is quite excellent as well. I’ve read none of his novels, so will leave y’all to comment on those. He’s a character in the CSI comic book Dying in the Gutters miniseries as someone who accidentally killed a comics gossip columnist while attempting to kill Joe Quesada over his perceived role in the cancellation of Gotham Central.
  • Born November 29, 1976 Chadwick Boseman. Another death that damn near broke my heart. The Black Panther / T’Challa in the Marvel metaverse. The same year that he was first this being, he was Thoth in Gods of Egypt. (If you’ve not heard of this, no one else did either as it bombed quite nicely at the box office.) He was Sergeant McNair on Persons Unknown which is at least genre adjacent I would say.  And he even appeared on Fringe in the “Subject 9” episode as Mark Little / Cameron James.  I understand they did a stellar tribute to him in the new Black Panther film.  His Black Panther was nominated at Dublin 2019 for a Hugo but lost to another exemplary film, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse. (Died 2020.)

(14) COMICS SECTION.

(15) CHRISTOPHER TOLKIEN PANEL. The 2023 Oxford Literary Festival will host “The Great Tales Never End: in Memory of Christopher Tolkien” on March 28. Tickets available at the link.

The Bodleian’s Tolkien archivist Catherine McIlwaine, writer John Garth and academic Stuart Lee discuss the role of JRR Tolkien’s son, Christopher, in promoting the works of his father and furthering understanding about them.

McIlwaine is co-editor with Bodley’s Librarian Richard Ovenden of The Great Tales Never End: Essays in Memory of Christopher Tolkien, while Garth and Lee have both contributed essays. Christopher was his father’s literary executor and published 24 volumes of his father’s work over four decades, more than Tolkien published during his lifetime. The collection of essays includes reflections on Christopher’s work by world-renowned scholars and reminiscences by family members.

McIlwaine is the Tolkien archivist at the Bodleian Libraries. Garth is an author and freelance writer and editor. He is author of The Worlds of J.R.R. Tolkien: The Places that Inspired Middle-earth and Tolkien and the Great War: The Threshold of Middle-earth. Lee is an English lecturer at the University of Oxford who lectures on fantasy literature with a focus on Tolkien. Discussions are chaired by Grace Khuri, a DPhil candidate at Oxford and the first Oxford postgraduate to write a PhD solely on Tolkien.

(16) HOW TO CONTACT THE CHENGDU WORLDCON. The Chengdu Worldcon posted this list of its “working emails”:

(17) DOING RESEARCH AND ASKING EXPERTS. Gideon P. Smith steers writers toward resources for “Writing the Science Right” at the SFWA Blog.

Getting the science right in SF can make the difference between writing cute stories and great science fiction. If you are a non-scientist writing SF and want to know how to do that, then this blog post is for you….

(18) LA ARTIST & WRITER. Some of you already know him, and All About Jazz invites the rest of you to “Meet Tony Gleeson”.

Tell Us A Bit About Yourself.

I’m an artist by vocation and a musician by avocation (I’ve played guitar all my life and picked up keyboards a couple of decades back). Music of all kinds has always been a major part of my life, but early on I made the choice to pursue the visual arts as my career. I spent my so-called formative years on the east coast, in upstate New York, Washington DC, and New York City. When I attended art school in Los Angeles, I fell in love with southern California and after a few years back in Manhattan, I persuaded my wife Annie to move there— quite an adventurous step for her as she’d never been on the West Coast. We’ve been Angelenos since 1977. We have three grown kids pursuing their own lives and adventures, but the house is hardly empty or still with our two cats, Django and Mingus, and our bird Charlie.

Annie’s been an NICU RN and I’ve run an illustration and design studio ever since we got here. I figure I’ve had around a thousand illustrations published: magazines, newspapers, book covers, catalogues and product illustrations. I’ve also done concept art for film, TV, advertising, and toy and product design.

I was a bookseller for several years early in the new millennium. I’m also a writer, with ten crime novels published in Britain and the United States. The most recent, A Different Kind of Dead, was released in the U.S. by Wildside in 2021. The new one, Find the Money, also by Wildside, is due for release before this year’s end. I’m kind of a polymath with a lot of interests (including film, baseball, classic mysteries, science fiction, and comic art) that tend to veer into obsessions….

(19) TAKEN BY SURPRISE, IN A GOOD WAY. “Slip Through Your Fingers: Thoughts on Andor by Abigail Nussbaum at Asking the Wrong Questions.

Look, I was not expecting this. Two years and more than a dozen shows into the Disney+ experiment, I think we’ve all developed a decent enough sense of what to expect from the television incarnations of the two biggest entertainment franchises on the planet. And for the most part, these shows have been fine. Some fun moments. Some actors who are better than their material. Maybe a hint of a political idea. There was no reason for Andor—a prequel to a prequel whose original premise was already quite dodgy—to be any better.

And then it turned out to be good. Not just good for Star Wars, but just plain good. Best TV of the year good. I have to admit that I went a bit Kübler-Ross about this. First there was Anger—this show is too good to be Star Wars. No way does a story this smart, this thoughtful about the compromises of life under fascism, and the costs of rising up to resist it, exist only as a lead-in to a floppy-haired teenager doing an amusement park ride….

(20) FONT FOLLY. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] A memorable Saturday Night Live skit from 2017 poked a lot of fun at the “lazy choice“ of the font Papyrus for the mega-blockbuster movie Avatar. (You may not be familiar with the controversy, but it’s a real thing.)

The font designer — who was shortly out of school decades ago when he created the font — responded in good humor. Now director James Cameron finally has, too, and Slashfilm is there taking notes: “Avatar Director And Font Connoisseur James Cameron Finally Responds To SNL’s Papyrus Sketch”.

“Saturday Night Live” can be very hit or miss when it comes to their sketches, but it should come as no surprise that “Papyrus” will go down as one of their best. The bit features Ryan Gosling as a man who has disassociated from the world around him because he remembered that James Cameron’s mega-blockbuster “Avatar” used a variation of the Papyrus font for its logo. It’s the kind of thing you may think about for a second or two before moving on with your life, but the sketch from former “SNL” writer Julio Torres dedicates itself to making Gosling’s breakdown look as dramatic as possible.

Like the “Potato Chip” segment, it’s the kind of “SNL” bit that makes you laugh at how seriously everyone is playing their part with something so silly and bizarre. It’s just a logo, and yet Gosling plays it as if the material is worthy of a conspiracy thriller. Since the 2017 sketch, Cameron has given the “Avatar” logo a typeface facelift that gives the series more of an identity, although it’s not that different. It honestly looks as if the graphic designer took the modified Papyrus logo as is, and filled it with air.

The “Terminator 2” filmmaker can change the logo all he wants, but if the internet has taught me anything, it’s that it never forgets. For five years, Cameron has remained silent on the whole Papyrus conversation … until now. With the long-awaited “Avatar: The Way of Water” only weeks away, the blockbuster mastermind is finally breaking his silence.

In the January 2023 issue of Empire, James Cameron finally faces the logo demons that have been haunting him for minutes, as he jokes about how the graphic design choice got in the way of getting even more money. “Just think of how much we could have grossed if it wasn’t for that damn font,” says Cameron…

[Thanks to Mike Kennedy, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Jeffrey Smith, Danny Sichel, Daniel Dern, Scott Edelman, Joey Eschrich, Cora Buhlert, Rich Lynch, Chris Barkley, Andrew Porter, Michael Toman, and Cat Eldridge for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Cat Eldridge.]

Pixel Scroll 11/8/22 We Only Scroll Respectable Pixels

(1) MAJOR STATHOPOULOS SHOW. “The Semblance of Things: Portraits by Nick Stathopoulos” will be a comprehensive 30-year survey show coming next February to the Blue Mountains Cultural Centre in Australia. Nick announced it on Facebook.  There’s already an article about the upcoming exhibition in the Centre’s magazine, downloadable at the link.

(2) FIGURING. Cora Buhlert posted a new “Masters of the Universe-piece Theatre” photo story. This one is called “New Look”.

… I have had some new arrivals recently, including the Teela and Zoar two-pack. I mainly bought the two-pack, because I wanted Zoar the Falcon, but I also got a Teela figure with a nice new headsculpt, which is loosely based on the way she looked in the 2002 cartoon, where Teela had a long ponytail instead of her customary upswept hairstyle. And since Teela is my favourite Masters of the Universe character, I’m always happy to have another version of her. Plus, this Teela has a sword, which is the weapon she actually uses most of the time in the various cartoons. The toys mostly only have the snake staff, even though the snake staff only prominently features in the 2002 cartoon – in every other version she uses a sword.

The fact that Teela got a makeover for the two-pack also inspired the following story. Furthermore, I also get to explore the friendship between Teela and Adora that the cartoons never really gave us (so far) some more….

(3) AMAZING. The Kickstarter for the “Amazing Stories Annual Special: SOL SYSTEM by Steve Davidson” now includes a rather clever animated Zoom meeting between famous science fiction figures from H.G. Wells to Octavia Butler. Here’s a teaser – the complete video runs almost five minutes.

(4) HEARING MORE FROM CORA. Issue one of The Lotus Tree Literary Review is out and contains an interview with Cora Buhlert conducted by Jean-Paul L. Garnier: “The Lotus Tree Literary Review, Autumn 2022, Issue #1”.

Garnier: What challenges have you faced as a German author working in English speaking markets?

Buhlert: It’s harder for someone from beyond the Anglosphere (i.e. the US, UK, Canada, Australia, Ireland and New Zealand) to get noticed. First of all, if you come from a non-English-speaking country (and for some countries in Africa and Asia, where English is an official language, even if you come from an English-speaking country), some people will simply assume that you cannot possibly speak English well enough to write in what is not your first language. I have actually had someone leave a long rambling comment on my blog to tell me that I’m obviously too stupid to understand English.

Physical distance is also an issue, because a lot of the big cons happen in the US or UK and attending takes time, money and also the privilege of being able to get a visa at all, something which is a huge issue for SFF writers from Africa, but also from the Middle East and some countries in Asia and Latin America. It’s probably no accident that I was only nominated for the Hugo after I had attended two Worldcons and one Eurocon in person, took part in programming and met a lot of people…

(5) HAILEY PIPER READS. Space Cowboy Books will host an online reading and interview with Hailey Piper author of No Gods for Drowning on Tuesday November 15 at 6:00 p.m. Pacific. Register for free here.

IN THE BEGINNING, MAN WAS PREY WITHOUT THE GODS, THEY’LL BE PREY AGAIN The old gods have fled, and the monsters they had kept at bay for centuries now threaten to drown the city of Valentine, hunting mankind as in ancient times. In the midst of the chaos, a serial killer has begun ritually sacrificing victims, their bodies strewn throughout the city.

Set in an alternate reality which updates mythology to near-modern day, No Gods For Drowning is part dark fantasy, part noir detective story, and unlike anything you’ve read before, from an author whose imagination knows no boundaries.

(6) A ROBOT WITH A ROSE BY ANY OTHER NAME. Lavie Tidhar discusses his favorite robot stories: “The Best Robots In Science Fiction” at CrimeReads.

My new novel, Neom, started off with the simple image of a robot and a rose. The robot goes to the market in the city of Neom and buys a flower. It then takes the rose into the desert and leaves it in the sand…

Why?

I wrote the rest of the book just to find out….

Second Variety by Philip K. Dick (1953)

As we go through Neom we find out that my robot (who is never named) had a group of companions during the long-ago war. One of them is, of course, a Tasso, from PKD’s classic story about a war in which humanoid robots infiltrate the human population only to blow themselves up. They come in several models, including the David (a young boy) and a Wounded Soldier, but there are rumours of a new, improved model…

(7) LESLIE PHILLIPS (1924-2022). SYFY Wire reports: Leslie Phillips, “Voice of the Sorting Hat in ‘Harry Potter’ dies at 98”.

Leslie Phillips, the British screen legend who voiced the Sorting Hat in the first two Harry Potter films, has passed away at the age of 98 following a lengthy illness. The anthropomorphic head piece that sorts incoming Hogwarts students into the school’s four famous houses appeared prominently in Sorcerer’s Stone (2001) and Chamber of Secrets (2022) — both of which were helmed by director Chris Columbus.

… The actor’s career dated all the way back to the late 1930s and included over 200 roles in dozens upon dozens of projects spanning film, television, and the stage (Lara Croft: Tomb Raider and Doctor Who: Medicinal Purposes are just two small examples). Wizarding World fans, however, will forever associate the man with the sagely voice of the tattered magical hat that took Harry’s own desires into consideration and placed the boy wizard into Gryffindor — where dwell the brave at heart….

(8) MEMORY LANE.

2018 [By Cat Eldridge.] Sometimes it’s the offbeat stories that I really like from authors, the short works that aren’t expanded into full length stories. Such is the case with Elizabeth Bear’s Sub-Inspector Ferron series. Of course, everything she writes is a delight to read. 

Bear’s Sub-Inspector Ferron series at the present consists alas of but two novellas, “In the House of Aryaman, a Lonely Signal Burns” and “A Blessing of Unicorns”. Will there be more? Oh, I hope so. 

TASTY, SPICY ASIAN SPOILERS FOLLOW. THEY REALLY DO!

These two novellas start with “In the House of Aryaman, a Lonely Signal Burns” which is set a half a century from now. In the city of Bangalore, where  scientist working on cutting-edge biotechnology has been discovered inside his own locked flat, his body converted into a neat block of organic material. 

It’s up to Police Sub-Inspector Ferron to figure out the victim’s past and solve the crime, outwitting the best efforts of whoever is behind the death, her overbearing mother, and the complexities of dealing with the only witness – an ever so cute parrot-cat Chairman Miaow. (The latter, she says are, as I guessed, a cat with parrot colors and “a parrot-like level of intelligence and ability to mimic speech”. That cat will later adopted by her. She already has a fox. 

I’ll note that the stories aren’t freestanding, so the novella, “A Blessing of Unicorns” builds off the first novella, therefore must be experienced after the first is read or listened to.

Together they make up a fascinating look at the life and work of Ferron as a Police Sub-Inspector in a balkanised world where there are no national or regional police forces. No, it’s not some small libertarian wet dream here, but a real world with actual consequences to everything that happens. 

WE HAVE CONSUMED THOSE TASTY MORSELS, SO YIU CAN COME BACK.

There is certainly more than enough story here for her to someday write a novel set in the universe. And I look forward to it. 

When I asked her if there would be a novel in the series, she replied “there might be a novel someday but I really need to visit Bangalore myself to write that! I’ve been relying on friends who hail from there, or who have family there and have visited extensively, but it’s not the same as boots in the dirt experience!”

Fantastic stories told well by a master storyteller, what more do you want? 

The Audible narrations are done most excellently by narrated Zehra Jane Naqvi. She’s an Australian expatriate in the United Kingdom of Anglo-Indian descent. She obvious handles the Indian accents quite wonderfully here.  Another genre connection — She started her voice acting career in a several  Big Finish Productions’ Doctor Who audio dramas with Sylvester McCoy and Peter Davison reprising the Seventh and Fifth and Doctors.

The first one is available at the usual suspects, but the second remains at this time an Audible exclusive though Bear assures me that it will be available soon as as an ebook soon.

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born November 8, 1847 Abraham “Bram” Stoker. You know that he’s author of Dracula but did you know that he wrote other fiction such as The Lady of the Shroud and The Lair of the White Worm? Of course you do, being you. The short story collection Dracula’s Guest and Other Weird Stories was published in 1914 by Stoker’s widow, Florence. (Died 1912.)
  • Born November 8, 1906 Matt Fox. I’m here to praise an illustrator of one of those magazines that published the stories of such writers as Robert Bloch, Manly Wade Wellman and Ray Bradbury. The covers by Fox were of course intended to lure you to magazine rack, pick up the magazine and purchase it. Such was what he did for Weird Tales from November 1943 to July 1951. After that, during the Fifties and Sixties he worked for Atlas Comics, inking and penciling Journey into MysteryWorld of FantasyTales of Suspense and Journey into Unknown Worlds. It is thought that his last known published work is an advertisement, printed in 1967, for original mail-order glow-in-the-dark posters. (Died 1988.)
  • Born November 8, 1914 Norman Lloyd. Yes, those dates are right. His longest genre role was as Dr. Isaac Mentnor on the most excellent Seven Days series. He’s been on Next GenGet Smart! in the form of the Nude Bomb film and visited The Twilight Zone, and in a fair number of horror films from The Dark Secret of Harvest Home to The Scarecrow. (Died 2021.)
  • Born November 8, 1932 Ben Bova. He wrote more than one hundred twenty books. He won six Hugo Awards as editor of Analog, and also once was editorial director at Omni. Hell, he even had the thankless job of SFWA President. (Just kidding. I think.) I couldn’t hope to summarize his literary history so I’ll single out his Grand Tour series that though uneven is overall splendid hard sf as well as his Best of Bova short story collections put out in three volumes. What’s your favorite book by him? (Died 2020.)
  • Born November 8, 1955 Jeffrey Ford, 67. Winner of a very impressive seven World Fantasy Awards as well every other award given to writers of fantastic literature except Hugos. Really there’s too many to list here. He’s got two Hugo nominations, one at Torcon 3 for his “Creation” short story, another at Noreascon 4 for ”The Empire of Ice Cream” novelette “.  And yes, his Well-built City trilogy is amazing.
  • Born November 8, 1956 Richard Curtis, 67. One of Britain’s most successful comedy screenwriters, he’s making the Birthday List for writing “Vincent and the Doctor”, a most excellent Eleventh Doctor story. He was also the writer of Roald Dahl’s Esio Trot which isn’t really genre but it’s Roald Dahl who’s certainly is one of us some of the time, isn’t he? (Please don’t deconstruct that sentence.) And he directed Blackadder which is most decidedly genre.
  • Born November 8, 1968 Parker Posey, 54. Doctor Smith on the rebooted Lost in Space series. I’ve not seen it, so how is it?  She was in a film based on based Dean Koontz’s version of Frankenstein. And she shows in Blade: Trinity as well which I’ll admit I liked.
  • Born November 8, 1952 Alfre Woodard, 70. I remember her best from Star Trek: First Contact where she was Lily Sloane, Cochrane’s assistant. She was also Grace Cooley in Scrooged, and polishing her SJW creds, she once voiced Maisie the Cat in The Brave Little Toaster Goes to School. And yes, I know she’s portrayed a character in Marvel Universe. I just like the obscure roles. 

(10) ROWE Q&A. Marc Tassin interviews Christopher Rowe for the GenCon podcast: “Today’s Guest: Christopher Rowe” at Out of Character with Marc Tassin.

(11) VALLESE ESSAY COLLECTION. Grace Byron’s book review considers “Nightmares Worth Indulging: On Feminist Press’s ‘It Came from the Closet’” at LA Review of Books.

… In his introduction, editor Joe Vallese asks, “[H]ow are we to think about the complicated relationship between the queer community and the horror genre?” Vallese notes that all the contributors “convey a rich reciprocity, complicating and questioning as much as they clarify.” In other words, some of the essays will see horror films as nightmares worth indulging, while still interrogating what the genre gives and takes from queer people.

Ever since (and surely before) Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick offered queer readings of homosociality in Dickens, a certain kind of essay was born. These kinds of queer essays excavate the subtext of dominant culture. The mainstream 2009 film Jennifer’s Body, after all, inspired lesbian titillation and launched a thousand lavender wet dreams. Earlier this year, the father of body horror, David Cronenberg, declared that “surgery is sex” in Crimes of the Future, a few years late to the trans tipping point…

(12) FORGET ABOUT IT. “J.D. Dillard’s Star Wars Project Canceled, Exits Rocketeer Sequel” reports CBR.com.

Filmmaker J.D. Dillard experienced a Disney double whammy, having lost not one, but two prominent projects, Star Wars and The Rocketeer, to which he was attached.

In an interview with The Wrap, the director, who was promoting his latest film, the Jonathan Majors-starring Korean War aviator drama Devotion, dropped news about his formerly promising backlog. Indeed, the Mouse House not only lined him up to direct the long-belated sequel to the 1991 adventure classic, titled The Return of the Rocketeer, but tapped him to direct a mysterious Star Wars feature. However, when asked for an update on those projects, Dillard delivered bad news, stating that his Star Wars movie is “unfortunately no longer a thing. It was not for lack of trying.” He further lamented his nixed endeavor for the iconic space franchise, describing it as “an original idea.” Compounding that, Dillard also revealed his exit from the Rocketeer sequel….

(13) PRODUCT WARNING. Ryan Reynolds tells the people that his new movie Spirited is a Christmas movie with Will Ferrell in it and is NOT ELF. “Legally Required Spirited Disclaimers”.

(14) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In “Honest Game Trailers: World of Warcraft:  Wrath of the Lich King” Fandom Games says in order to play this game you either have to dress like a “Norse hobo” or “an off-brand Dora” the Explorer. The characters either spend time in cold regions where they run past “icy castles, icy beaches, and icy plains” or go underground in “the most positive depiction of sewers since Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.”

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Chris Barkley, Andrew Porter, Cora Buhlert, 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 Jim Janney.]

Pixel Scroll 11/7/22 Make Me A Poster From An Old Pixel Scroll

(1) SFPA ELECTS NEW PRESIDENT. The Science Fiction and Fantasy Poetry Association has voted Colleen Anderson to be their next SFPA President. Anderson previously served SFPA as Vice-President.

The vote breakdown by percentages was:

Colleen Anderson – 38%
Christina Sng – 31%
Brian U. Garrison – 31%

Outgoing SFPA President Bryan Thao Worra, who held the office for six years, said:

I thank all of our members who took the time to vote this year, and I thank all of the candidates who ran for President. I welcome Colleen with joy and the confidence of having worked closely with her as the Vice-President of SFPA that she is at once familiar with our traditions and key elements of our organization, its bylaws, and our opportunities and challenges. I have no doubt that she will bring her talent and vision to making this an effective and dynamic organization that is inclusive and empowering, expanding the passion for speculative verse around the globe in all of its many forms. To all of the members of SFPA, past and present, please accept my gratitude for all that you have done in service to speculative poetry and the association. The last 6 years have been some of the most important and inspiring years of my life, and I enjoyed seeing how vibrant science fiction, fantasy, and horror poetry has continued to grow. I hope you all will continue to reach out to one another and the very best within us as writers and kindred spirits.

(2) DIAGRAM PRIZE SHORTLIST. “Oddest Book Title of the Year shortlist announced for The Diagram Prize 2022” reports The Bookseller.

A six-book shortlist has been released for the Bookseller Diagram Prize for the Oddest Book Title of the Year. The winning title will be chosen by members of the public via an online vote, and a winner announced December 2.

The shortlisted titles are:

  • Frankenstein Was a Vegetarian: Essays on Food Choice, Identity and Symbolismby Michael Owen Jones
  • The Many Lives of Scary Clowns: Essays on Pennywise, Twisty, the Joker, Krusty and More by Ron Riekki
  • Jane Austen and the Buddha: Teachers of Enlightenment by Kathryn Duncan
  • RuPedagogies of Realness: Essays on Teaching and Learning With RuPaul’s Drag Race by Lindsay Bryde & Tommy Mayberry
  • Smuggling Jesus Back into the Church by Andrew Fellows
  • What Nudism Exposes: An Unconventional History of Postwar Canada by Mary-Ann Shantz

The award was conceived in 1978 by Trevor Bounford and Bruce Robertson, co-founders of publishing solutions firm the Diagram Group, as a way to avoid boredom at the Frankfurt Book Fair. There is no prize for the winning author or publisher, but traditionally a “passable bottle of claret” is given to the nominator of the winning entry. 

(3) TWITTER DEFECTIONS. How many are leaving? In an unpdate, John Scalzi says his Twitter following now has dropped by 3,000 since Musk took over.

(4) KGB. Fantastic Fiction at KGB reading series hosts Ellen Datlow and Matthew Kressel present Eileen Gunn and Stephanie Feldman at the KBG Bar on Wednesday, November9, 2022 at 7:00 p.m. Eastern.

EILEEN GUNN

Eileen Gunn writes short stories. Her fiction has received the Nebula Award in the US and the Sense of Gender Award in Japan, and has been nominated for the Hugo, Philip K. Dick, World Fantasy and James Tiptree, Jr. awards. She will be reading from new work.

STEPHANIE FELDMAN

Stephanie Feldman is the author of the novels Saturnalia and the award-winning debut The Angel of Losses. Her short stories and essays have appeared in Asimov’s Science Fiction, Catapult Magazine, Electric Literature, Flash Fiction OnlineThe Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, and The Rumpus.

Location: The KGB Bar, 85 East 4th Street, New York, NY 10003. (Just off 2nd Ave, upstairs)

(5) AMAZING KICKSTARTER. New Amazing Stories, LLC publisher Kermit Woodall announced the “Amazing Stories Annual Special: SOL SYSTEM by Steve Davidson — Kickstarter” today.

The Amazing Stories Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign begins.  And once again, Amazing Stories hopes to harness the energy of the science fiction community to raise the funds to release a special issue featuring some of the biggest names in SF today speculating about the future of mankind in our solar system!

Stretch goals will be used to increase author and artist pay and to fund Amazing’s second ONLINE science fiction convention — AmazingCon II. There are also numerous contributor rewards, including copies of the special issue, some of our books and anthologies, AmazingCon convention tickets, and other exciting bonuses!

(6) BEEN THERE! Artist Kieran Wright tells Print Magazine how he fabricates small models of iconic LA buildings as a hobby. “Kieran Wright’s Miniature Models of LA Buildings Reflect His Big Love for the City”. I live only a couple of miles from one of his subjects, the Aztec Hotel. My barber shop is in the building. John and Bjo Trimble were volunteers involved in its restoration a couple of decades ago.

(7) SFF BIBLIOGRAPHY. Kenneth R. Johnson has produced another SF bibliography, “Futuristic Romances”. It’s been posted by Phil Stephenson-Payne on the Homeville website.  It documents a little-known series of Science Fiction paperbacks. 

(8) JOANNA RUSS FICTION. The Library of America’s “Story of the Week” is Joanna Russ’s “When It Changed” (1972), originally published in Again, Dangerous Visions.

…“There are plenty of images of women in science fiction. There are hardly any women.”

So concludes Joanna Russ’s often-reprinted essay, “The Image of Women in Science Fiction,” which first appeared in 1970 in the seventh and last issue of Red Clay Reader, a relatively obscure literary annual. Three years earlier, Russ had published her debut book, the sword-and-sorcery space adventure Picnic on Paradise, which was a finalist for the Nebula Award and a notable break from the conventions and stereotypes common in science fiction and fantasy during the previous decades. “Long before I became a feminist in any explicit way,” Russ told an interviewer in 1975, “I had turned from writing love stories about women in which women were the losers, and adventure stories about men in which men were winners, to writing adventure stories about a woman in which the woman won.”…

(9) MEMORY LANE.

1992 [By Cat Eldridge.] Next Generation’s “A Fistful of Datas” 

Spot meows and jumps onto Data’s console.
“Spot, you are disrupting my ability to work.”
After Data moves her to the floor, Spot meows and jumps back up.
“Vamoose, you little varmint!” in a Texan accent. 
— Next Generation’s “A Fistful of Datas” 

Oh let’s get silly. I mean really, really silly. Now understand before writing this essay on the Next Generation’s “A Fistful of Datas”  which aired thirty years ago on this date according to MemoryAlpha, that I rewatched it on Paramount + earlier today. 

MASSIVE HOLODECK SIZED SPOILERS FOLLOW. REALLY I MEAN IT. 

Patrick Stewart directed this silly affair.  The story by Robert Hewitt Wolfe with the actual  script by Robert Hewitt Wolfe and Brannon Braga. Now that we’ve got those details out of the way, let’s get to the story.  

We get such deliciously comical things as Data in drag, really we do. How we came to this is Worf reluctantly joins his son Alexander in a holodeck story in Deadwood along with Deanna Troi. 

Now that wouldn’t be a problem but Data proposes that they use his psitronic brain as a backup to the ship’s computer in case something goes. ( Huh? WTF?) While interfacing the two, an energy surge happens. (Love those surges — haven’t they ever heard of buffers?) 

Now it gets weird. Data suddenly, and really for no reason, is a pastiche of the Old West. A bit of this, a bit of that, a dollop of something else. 

Both the hologram town of Deadwood and all of the performers here in their Western garb are oh so perfect. 

Unfortunately for the Enterprise crew, the interactive characters physically resemble and have the same enhanced abilities as Data. Really Bad Idea.

WE ARE OFF THE HOLODECK NOW.

“A Fistful of Datas” is taken from Sergio Leone’s A Fistful of Dollars, the Clint Eastwood film, the very first Spaghetti Western. The first title pitched was “The Good, the Bad and the Klingon”. Really it was. 

Brent Spiner in Captains’ Logs: The Unauthorized Complete Trek Voyages said that “I had the chance to play five or six characters in a show and Patrick directed, which made it additionally fun. It’s certainly the most fun episode I’ve had to do and I would have liked to have done a show called ‘For a Few Datas More.’”

It has been rated one of the best Next Generation episodes with some comparing it to “Shore Leave”. It won an Emmy Award for Outstanding Individual Achievement in Sound Mixing for a Drama Series.

It of course is available for viewing on Paramount +.

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born November 7, 1910 Pearl Argyle. Catherine CabalI in the 1936 Things to Come as written by H.G. Wells based off his “The Shape of Things to Come” story. Being a dancer, she also appeared in 1926 The Fairy Queen opera by Henry Purcell, with dances by Marie Rambert and Frederick Ashton. Her roles were Dance of the Followers of Night, an attendant on Summer, and Chaconne. At age thirty-six, she died of a sudden massive cerebral hemorrhage while visiting her husband in New York. (Died 1947.)
  • Born November 7, 1914 R. A. Lafferty. Writer known for somewhat eccentric usage of language.  His first novel Past Master would set a lifelong pattern of seeing his works nominated for Hugo and Nebula Awards as novels but generally not winning either though he won a Best Short Story Hugo for “Eurema’s Dam” at Torcon II. He received a World Fantasy Lifetime Achievement Award, and has been honored with the Cordwainer Smith Foundation’s Rediscovery award. (Died 2002.)
  • Born November 7, 1950 Lindsay Duncan, 72. Adelaide Brooke in the Tenth Doctor‘s “The Waters of Mars” story and the recurring role Lady Smallwood  on Sherlock in “His Last Vow”, “The Six Thatchers” and “The Lying Detective”. She’s also been in Black MirrorA Discovery of WitchesFrankensteinThe Storyteller: Greek MythsMission: 2110 and one of my favorite series, The New Avengers. Oh and she voiced the android TC-14 in The Phantom Menace.
  • Born November 7, 1954 Guy Gavriel Kay, 68. So the story goes that when Christopher Tolkien needed an assistant to edit his father J. R. R. Tolkien’s unpublished work, he chose Kay who was then a student of philosophy at the University of Manitoba. And Kay moved to Oxford in 1974 to assist Tolkien in editing The Silmarillion. Cool, eh? Kay’s own Finovar trilogy is the retelling of the legends of King Arthur, Lancelot and Guinevere which is why much of his fiction is considered historical fantasy. Tigana likewise somewhat resembles Renaissance Italy . My favorite work by him is Ysabel which strangely enough is called an urban fantasy when it isn’t. It won a World Fantasy Award. 
  • Born November 7, 1960 Linda Nagata, 62. Her novella “Goddesses” was the first online publication to win the Nebula Award. She writes largely in the Nanopunk genre which is not be confused with the Biopunk genre. To date, she has three series out, to wit The Nanotech SuccessionStories of the Puzzle Lands (as Trey Shiels) and The Red. She has won a Locus Award for Best First Novel for The Bohr Maker which the first novel in The Nanotech Succession. Her 2013 story “Nahiku West” was runner-up for the Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award, and The Red: First Light was nominated for both the Nebula Award and the John W. Campbell Memorial Award. Her site is here.
  • Born November 7, 1974 Carl Steven. He appeared in Star Trek III: The Search for Spock as a young Spock, thereby becoming the first actor other than Leonard Nimoy to play the role in a live action setting. Genre one-offs included Weird ScienceTeen Wolf and Superman.  He provided the voice of a young Fred Jones for four seasons worth of A Pup Named Scooby-Doo which can be construed as genre. Let’s just say his life didn’t end well and leave it at that. (Died 2011.)

(11) COMICS SECTION.

  • Dinosaur Comics has all kinds of writerly advice about worldbuilding.

(12) TRANSPARENT LAYERS. Netflix dropped a trailer for Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery, which begins streaming on December 23.

(13) A DIFFERENT HUGO. [Item by Olav Rokne.] I’ve not been able to track down a copy, but I figure that any adaptation of a Heinlein story is of interest. “Life –Line”.

Based on the 1939 short story by Robert Heinlein, Life-Line tells the story of an eccentric professor named Dr. Hugo Pinero, who sets in motion a future history with his invention that can accurately predict how long a person has to live.

(14) FORTIFIED FOOD. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] Scientists at Kellogg’s determined that massive amounts of orangium and electricity have turned beloved characters Snap, Crackle, and Pop into one-eyed mutants!  Fortunately this shocking experiment proved abortive and the cereal was banished to the half-price aisle. “Kellogg’s Launches New Rice Krispies Shocking Orange Colored Cereal For The 2022 Halloween Season” at Chew Boom.

(15) WATCHING: THE TOP 10. JustWatch Top 10’s for October just became available after some glitches. These are the viewing rankings for the U.S.

Rank*MoviesTV shows
1Everything Everywhere All at OnceThe Peripheral
2The ThingDoctor Who
3Halloween III: Season of the WitchQuantum Leap
4Jurassic World DominionAvenue 5
5VesperThe Handmaid’s Tale
6Crimes of the FutureLa Brea
7Significant OtherThe X-Files
8AlienSeverance
9InterstellarOrphan Black
10Event HorizonResident Alien

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

(16) ZOOTOPIA GETS SERIES. Disney Plus dropped this trailer for the sequel to Zootopia today: Zootopia+

“Zootopia+” heads back to the fast-paced mammal metropolis of Zootopia in a short-form series that dives deeper into the lives of some of the Oscar®-winning feature film’s most intriguing residents, including Fru Fru, the fashion-forward arctic shrew; ZPD dispatcher Clawhauser, the sweet-toothed cheetah; and Flash, the smiling sloth who’s full of surprises.

(17) ACROSS TIME. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] Media Death Cult cracks the covers of these “MUST READ Wibbly Wobbly Timey Wimey Books”.

…My personal recommendations for time travel time, Loop, Multiverse, hop in inter-dimensional pop-in stories. I’ve tried to keep the focus of the video on books where the wobbly elements are the essence of the story rather than something like Revelation Space or the later Ender’s Game books where obviously time dilation plays a big part of those stories but I don’t consider them first and foremost time travel books.

(18) VIDEO OF THE DAY. The How It Should Have Ended gang takes on Jurassic World Dominion. 

[Thanks to JJ, John King Tarpinian, Chris Barkley, Andrew Porter, Olav Rokne, Lise Andreasen, Jeffrey Smith, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, and Martin Morse Wooster for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Randall M.]

Amazing Stories Has A New Editor-In-Chief

Lloyd Penney

Amazing Stories publisher Kermit Woodall has announced Lloyd Penney of Toronto, Ontario, Canada is the publication’s new Editior-in-Chief. Penney succeeds fellow Canadian Ira Nayman in this position and Steve Davidson who operated as temporary editor.

Penney has been in science fiction fandom for 45 years and has enjoyed 30-year careers in both fanzine writing and convention management. He is also an associate member of First Fandom. He’ll be working on the website, magazine, and their line of books.

Penney says, “I have been a proofreader and editor for most of my working life, with magazines, catalogs, and much more, but over the past four years, I have not only been the copy editor for Amazing Stories and Amazing Selects, but I have also worked with Scot Noel at Dreamforge Magazine, independent authors who need some fresh eyes for their novels, and also with a communications company in the east end of Toronto, working to edit their one paper magazine, and their two e-magazines.

“The editor-in-chief of Amazing Stories…this is a position I never would have dreamed of having, but now that I have it, I suspect the learning curve will be steep. Still, the best way to handle this curve is to start climbing it and see what is needed to tackle it. I will be reading as much as I can, relying on readers to look at the flood of submissions and choose what’s the best of that submitted, and also to make a few judgments on what will go on the website. I am sure I will make mistakes, and forget some vital things, but I am willing to learn. I hope to help produce a magazine that all readers of SF&F will enjoy and appreciate, and maybe make a little history along the way.”

[Based on a press release.]

Steve Davidson Will Stop Running Amazing Stories

Amazing Stories’ Steve Davidson announced today he is stepping down as acting Editor and stepping away as Publisher of the Experimenter Publishing Company.

Kermit Woodall, long-time Creative Director, will be taking over responsibilities for staffing, payments, and all ongoing creative and management decisions, which include management responsibilities for the website, the current Kickstarter project, and AmazingCon II.

Davidson said the reason for his decision is that “I’m burnt out, I’m tired and I am feeling physically, medically, mentally and emotionally run down. I have increasing family and financial responsibilities and am finding it increasingly difficult to juggle everything, while also remaining enthusiastic for what Amazing Stories is trying to do.”

Davidson secured the trademark for Amazing Stories in 2011, and since has developed a social media presence, crowdfunded some new issues of the magazine, and published other special projects. See Carl Slaughter’s 2016 interview with Steve here.

Pixel Scroll 10/8/22 To Say Nothing Of The Balrog

(0) HAPPY 96TH BIRTHDAY. To my mother today – amazing.

(1) F&SF COVER REVEAL. Publisher Gordon Van Gelder revealed the cover of The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction’s Nov/Dec 2022 issue. The cover art is by Mondolithic Studios.

(2) RICKY DID LOSE THESE NUMBERS. Public Books asks why book sales figures remain such a deep dark secret. “Where Is All the Book Data?”

After the first lockdown in March 2020, I went looking for book sales data. I’m a data scientist and a literary scholar, and I wanted to know what books people were turning to in the early days of the pandemic for comfort, distraction, hope, guidance. How many copies of Emily St. John Mandel’s pandemic novel Station Eleven were being sold in COVID-19 times compared to when the novel debuted in 2014? And what about Giovanni Boccaccio’s much older—14th-century—plague stories, The Decameron? Were people clinging to or fleeing from pandemic tales during peak coronavirus panic? You might think, as I naively did, that a researcher would be able to find out exactly how many copies of a book were sold in certain months or years. But you, like me, would be wrong.

I went looking for book sales data, only to find that most of it is proprietary and purposefully locked away. What I learned was that the single most influential data in the publishing industry—which, every day, determines book contracts and authors’ lives—is basically inaccessible to anyone beyond the industry. And I learned that this is a big problem.

The problem with book sales data may not, at first, be apparent. Every week, the New York Times of course releases its famous list of “bestselling” books, but this list does not include individual sales numbers. Moreover, select book sales figures are often reported to journalists—like the fact that Station Eleven has sold more than 1.5 million copies overall—and also shared through outlets like Publishers Weekly. However, the underlying source for all these sales figures is typically an exclusive subscription service called BookScan: the most granular, comprehensive, and influential book sales data in the industry (though it still has significant holes—more on that to come)….

(3) SOME AMAZING STORIES. Cora Buhlert has posted another “Non-Fiction Spotlight.” This one is for Cents of Wonder: Science Fiction’s First Award Winners, edited by Steve Davidson and Kermit Woodall”. Buhlert notes that it’s a mix of fiction and non-fiction, but there have been similar works on the Best Related longlist before.

 Tell us about your book.

Kermit Woodall (KW) Cents of Wonder is a unique collection of the first science-fiction stories to win an award.

Steve Davidson (SD) It’s an anthology of all of the stories to win, place or receive honorable mention from the very first two writing contests ever held in the field of science fiction.

The stories represent the first attempts by new, previously unpublished authors to understand the requirements of the new genre of “scientifiction” and try their hands at delivering on concepts that had not yet been articulated – creating the suspension of disbelief and rewarding that with a sense of wonder.

As such, we regard it not just as an anthology, but as a tool, useful for SF historians, academics in the field and a no-pressure way to introduce new readers in the field to some of its important developmental history. These are the stories that would inspire following generations of famous SF writers, who would themselves go on to write works that excited, inspired and informed the authors we read today….

(4) LOOKING OVER HIS SHOULDER. Bobby Derie discusses H.P. Lovecraft’s adventures in various Chinatowns in “Lovecraft in Chinatown” at Deep Cuts in a Lovecraftian Vein.

…For his first thirty years, H. P. Lovecraft seldom left his native Providence, Rhode Island. All of his travels, his visits with friends, and to ethnic enclaves in different cities—as well as his marriage and all of his professionally-published fiction—happened in the last seventeen years of his life. The vast majority of character growth, exposure to different cultures, and challenges to Lovecraft’s prejudices happened in the final third of his existence. Which is why it is interesting to see what Lovecraft writes about various ethnic neighborhoods and enclaves he visited, including the few Chinatowns he visited on his travels….

(5) FELLOWSHIP AVAILABLE FOR LOVECRAFT RESEARCH. The John Hay Library at Brown University invites applications for its 2023 S. T. Joshi Endowed Research Fellowship in H. P. Lovecraft for research relating to H.P. Lovecraft, his associates, and literary heirs. The application deadline is November 1, 2022.

…The Hay Library is home to the largest collection of H. P. Lovecraft materials in the world, and also holds the archives of Clark Ashton Smith, Karl Edward Wagner, Manly Wade Wellman, Analog magazine, Caitlín Kiernan, and others. The Joshi Fellowship, established by The Aeroflex Foundation and Hippocampus Press, is intended to promote scholarly research using the world-renowned resources on H. P. Lovecraft, science fiction, and horror at the John Hay Library (projects do not need to relate to Lovecraft directly). The Fellowship provides a monthly stipend of $2,500 for up to two months of research at the library during the 2023 calendar year. The fellowship is open to students, faculty, librarians, artists, and independent scholars.

For more information and to apply, please visit https://library.brown.edu/joshi/.

Please direct questions to Heather Cole, Curator, Literary & Popular Culture Collections, [email protected].

(6) EXTRA MOONS. The Guardian interviews Sri Lankan author and Booker Prize finalist Shehan Karunatilaka. His Booker nominated novel The Seven Moons of Maali Almeida is about a war photographer trying to solve his own murder after death and therefore genre: “Shehan Karunatilaka: ‘There’s a Sri Lankan gallows humour… we’ve been through a lot of catastrophes’”.

Was it important for you that such a violent story should also be funny?
I don’t know if that was intentional. There’s a Sri Lankan gallows humour, because we’ve been through a hell of a lot of catastrophes. The place isn’t as volatile as it was even a month or two ago; there’s still uncertainty, but there’s a lot of people cracking jokes. I think I could never write a straight-out-horror ghost story, maybe it’s just my sensibility. Even in the 1989 situation, there was a lot of farce and it was quite ridiculous.

(7) FOREIGN AGENT MAN. Science fiction author Dmitry Glukhovsky has been declared a ‘foreign agent’ by the Russian government because of his opposition to the invasion of Ukraine: “Russia declares popular rapper and writer ‘foreign agents’” reports the Guardian.

…The author of a 2002 post-apocalyptic fiction novel, “Metro 2033”, was put on the list after a Russian court ordered his arrest in absentia for his criticism of the offensive….

(8) MEMORY LANE.  

1955 [By Cat Eldridge.] On this date in 1955, Commando Cody: Sky Marshal of the Universe came to an end after just twelve episodes. You know there are certain series, be they video or written that you just know lasted much longer than they actually did. For me, this is one of them. 

This black-and-white movie serial from Republic Pictures originally began life as a proposed syndicated television series. I’ve no idea why that never came to be, but it didn’t, mores the pity. 

It was written by Ronald Davidson and Barry Shipman, and was directed by Harry Keller,  Franklin Adreon and Fred C. Brannon. A year later Davidson would script the The Adventures of Dr. Fu Manchu series, and Shipman scripted more Westerns than is really healthy to think about including, and I kid you not, Hi-Yo Silver. It was created by condensing the fifteen chapters of the 1938 Lone Ranger film serial.

The cast was Judd Holdren as Commando Cody, Aline Towne as Joan Gilbert, William Schallert as Ted Richards and Richard Crane as Dick Preston. There are as I said above but twelve episodes. You can see the first episode, ‘Enemies of the Universe” here. Before you ask, yes it is out of copyright.

The Commando Cody character was actually first introduced three years earlier in Republic’s Radar Men from the Moon serial (1952) with actor George Wallace in the title role. In the sequel, Zombies of the Stratosphere (1952) Judd Holdren also played the rocket man, but his character was renamed Larry Martin for reasons.

Do I like it? Oh very much so. It’s SF pulp at its very, very finest. I just wish it was really as long as my mind’s eye remembers it being. 

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born October 8, 1920 Frank HerbertDune, of course, which won a Hugo at Tricon. (I’ve read it myriad times.) I’ll admit I only like the series through Dune Messiah. And no, I’ve not see the new Dune. The BBC full cast audio version of Dune is quite amazing. I’m also fond of Under Pressure. Beyond that, there’s not much that I’m fond of. (Died 1986.)
  • Born October 8, 1949 Sigourney Weaver, 73. I’m picking her greatest genre role as being the dual roles of Gwen DeMarco and Lieutenant Tawny Madison in Galaxy Quest. Chicon 2000 did give the film Best Dramatic Presentation Award after all and it is a loving homage to all that is good in the genre. And yes, I know Conspiracy ‘87 gave Aliens a Best Dramatic Presentation Award as well but I’m really not a fan of that franchise. 
  • Born October 8, 1949 Richard Hescox, 73. Though he does a lot of comics work , you most likely to know him for his film poster work. He did this poster for Swamp Thing, over here you can this stellar work he did for The Dark Crystal, and his movie poster concept art for Escape From New York.
  • Born October 8, 1974 Lynne M. Thomas, 48. Librarian, podcaster and award-winning editor. She has won ten Hugo Awards for, among other things, her work on the SF Squeecast fancast and editing Uncanny magazine with and husband Michael Damian Thomas. She and her husband are fanatical Whovians, so it’s no surprise that with Tara O’Shea, she edited the superb Chicks Dig Time Lords: A Celebration of Doctor Who by the Women Who Love It
  • Born October 8, 1993 Molly C. Quinn, 29. Fey / Intern Molly / Melony on the Welcome to Night Vale podcast and Pemily Stallwark on the sort of related Thrilling Adventure Hour podcast. She’s Jenny in the Arthurian Avalon High series, and showed up in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 as Howard’s date.

(10) SHORT AND FREE. Space Cowboy Books will host “Online Flash Science Fiction Night” on October 13 at 6:00 p.m. Pacific. The evening of short science fiction readings will feature authors Jenna Hanchey, Taylor Rae, and Tara Campbell. Flash Science Fiction Nights run 30 minutes or less. Register for free here: here.

This event is in collaboration with If There’s Anyone Left series of flash fiction anthologies
Get Vol.1 here & Vol.2 here

(11) STRANGE VIBRATIONS. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] Not remotely science fiction, but something in my brain forced me to send this item from Gizmodo. On behalf of my brain, I am truly truly sorry. “Build Your Own Undetectable Chess Cheating Vibrator”.

The professional chess world is in chaos after accusations that master Hans Niemann has been cheating in official play, including some wild theories about how he might be getting outside help. But are vibrating anal beads that wirelessly communicate with the outside world even possible? It turns out the technology can work, and Adafruit will teach you how to build your own….

The DIY project starts with a plastic soda bottle preform (these are heated and expanded through a molding process to create the larger soda bottles you’ll find on store shelves), which is waterproof and nearly indestructible: an important feature depending on where you plan to use your Cheekmate (yes, that’s really what it’s called) device. From there, it’s stuffed with a small assortment of various electronics, including a haptic buzzer, a battery, an ESP32-S2 board with built-in wifi, and some wires and soldering.

The tutorial also includes all the code needed for the device to receive wireless text messages through the Adafruit IO cloud service and then translate them into Morse Code, which is transmitted to the user by pulses of its haptic buzzer. To successfully learn to cheat at chess, if that’s how you intend to use your Cheekmate, you’ll need to learn Morse Code first, but that’s probably a lot easier than the actual game….

(12) VIDEO OF THE DAY. Alasdair Beckett-King dropped this video parody of films like The Wicker Man and Midsommar.

[Thanks to Andrew Porter, Chris Barkley, Michael Toman, Michael “Orange Mike” Lowrey, Lloyd Penney, Steven French, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]

Cents of Wonder: Science Fiction’s First Award Winners Anthology Published by Experimenter Publishing Company

In 1926 in Amazing Stories, and again in Science Wonder Stories, publisher Hugo Gernsback conducted the science fiction field’s first two writing contests. Both contests centered on original Frank R. Paul cover illustrations and tasked the contestants with centering a story on that illustration. The winner would get $250 USD.  Cents of Wonder: Science Fiction’s First Award Winners presents all fourteen stories that either won, placed or earned honorable mentions in those two contests.

Among those entrants was Clare Winger Harris, the first female author of science fiction to be published under her own name, and a handful of other authors who would revisit the field — A. Hyatt Verrill, John Pierce, Charles R. Tanner, Bob Olsen, names likely recognized by historians in the field.

The anthology’s title is a play on the low word rate paid for early sf stories, and the oft-cited but little clearly understood companion to science fiction’s “willing suspension of disbelief” that often follows successful suspension — the Sense of Wonder, that feeling you get as your mind expands to encompass visions, concepts and possibilities previously unimagined or experienced.

Prepare to have your mind blown as 14 authors new to the field help explore and define the elements that would become staples of the science fiction field. Fourteen tales of other-worldly adventure, undiscovered countries, amazing technologies and fabled inventions!

With an introduction by Hugo Award winning author Allen Steele and accompanied by Hugo Gernsback’s contest introductions, rules and commentary and also including the original story illustrations, Cents of Wonder is an eye-opening glimpse into the science fiction field’s earliest moments of self-discovery and definition.  These are the very stories that would thrill and excite young readers named Isaac and Ray, Leigh and Judith, Arthur and Ursula….

Cover design by Kermit Woodall.  Introduction by Allen Steele. Notes and commentary by Steve Davidson. Additional material by Hugo Gernsback.  Stories by —

  • Cyril G. Wates 
  • Geo. R. Fox 
  • Clare Winger Harris 
  • S. Maxwell Coder
  • Hyatt Verrill 
  • Cecil B. White
  • D. B. McRae 
  • Charles R. Tanner
  • John R. Pierce
  • Frank J. Brueckel Jr.
  • Harold A. Lower
  • Bob Olsen 
  • Victor Endersby
  • Arthur G. Stangland

Cents of Wonder, from The Experimenter Publishing Company, LLC, publisher of Amazing Stories magazine and website and publisher of Amazing Selects has made their latest release available in the Amazing Stories store (EBook or Print) and on Amazon.

[Based on a press release.]

Pixel Scroll 9/24/21 Scrolling Pixels Give You So Much More

(1) SUES WHATEVER A SPIDER CAN. The heirs of Steve Ditko filed to reclaim their rights to some well-known Marvel characters – now Marvel is suing to prevent them. The Hollywood Reporter looks over the filings in “Marvel Suing to Keep Rights to ‘Avengers’ Characters”.

Disney’s Marvel unit is suing to hold on to full control of Avengers characters including Iron Man, Spider-Man, Dr. Strange, Ant-Man, Hawkeye, Black Widow, Falcon, Thor and others.

The complaints, which The Hollywood Reporter has obtained, come against the heirs of some late comic book geniuses including Stan Lee, Steve Ditko and Gene Colan. The suits seek declaratory relief that these blockbuster characters are ineligible for copyright termination as works made for hire. If Marvel loses, Disney would have to share ownership of characters worth billions.

In August, the administrator of Ditko’s estate filed a notice of termination on Spider-Man, which first appeared in comic book form in 1962. Under the termination provisions of copyright law, authors or their heirs can reclaim rights once granted to publishers after waiting a statutory set period of time. According to the termination notice, Marvel would have to give up Ditko’s rights to its iconic character in June 2023….

If the plaintiffs win, Disney expects to at least hold on to at least a share of character rights as co-owners. The studio would have to share profits with the others. Additionally, the termination provisions of copyright law only apply in the United States, allowing Disney to continue to control and profit from foreign exploitation.

(2) LIKE PEANUT BUTTER AND CHOCOLATE. Lincoln Michel on why noir blends well with sf, at CrimeReads: “Why Noir and Science Fiction Are Still a Perfect Pairing”.

… I think the answer lies first in the fact that both genres have an inherent critique of the social order. They question the state of the world, refusing to just accept the corruption, inequality, and destruction as “the way things are.” Or at least saying, sure, it’s the way things are, but it’s still screwed up.

While other crime genres are often fundamentally a defense of the status quo—police procedurals focus on petty criminals and heroic cops, spy thrillers defeat threats to the established global order—noir presents the established order as crime. It is the rich and the powerful, and the institutions that serve them, that are the true villains. (Of course this isn’t true of every single noir work, but it is of the ones that influenced SF subgenres like cyberpunk.) Take Dashiell Hammett’s masterpiece Red Harvest, in which a rich man and a corrupt police force collaborate with gangs to crush poor workers. Or Chinatown, in which a business tycoon controls government institutions to choke off water supplies. This critique of the social order is why the prototypical hardboiled (anti)hero exists outside of the official law enforcement structure. They’re not a police officer, FBI agent, or government spy. They’re a private investigator, and sometimes even unlicensed as in the case of Walter Mosley’s Easy Rawlins, and realize that the legal system is as corrupt as the organized crime it is fighting…and often in bed with.

(3) RAUM, THE FINAL FRONTIER. Cora Buhlert describes West German TV’s new (in 1966) space adventure show: “[September 24, 1966] Science Fiction TV from West Germany: Space Patrol: The Fantastic Adventures of the Spaceship Orion: Episode 1: Attack From Space” at Galactic Journey.

…The series has the unwieldy title Raumpatrouille – Die Phantastischen Abenteuer des Raumschiffs Orion (Space Patrol – The Fantastic Adventures of the Spaceship Orion), which viewers have already shortened to Raumpatrouille Orion or just plain Orion.

Like the new US series Star TrekSpace Patrol Orion starts with an opening narration, courtesy of veteran actor Claus Biederstaedt, which promises us a fairy tale from the future. In the year 3000 AD, nation states have been abolished. Humanity has settled the ocean floor and colonised far-flung worlds. Starships, including the titular Orion, hurtle through space at unimaginable speeds.

An impressive title sequence and a spacy and very groovy theme tune follow, courtesy of Peter Thomas, who also supplies the music for the Edgar Wallace and Jerry Cotton movies….

(4) TANKS FOR THE MEMORIES. By George, Steve Davidson makes a good point: “Space Force Uniform Controversy” at Amazing Stories.

The Space Force, America’s latest (and completely unnecessary) military branch unveiled its proposed service uniform.

A lot of fans (and fan-adjacent television watchers) have remarked that the proposed dress uniform greatly resembles those created for the entirely fictional space navy depicted in Battlestar Galactica (the completely unnecessary re-boot, to be precise).

Yes, yes it does.  However, those more familiar with real military history would probably be more inclined to think that the new digs for Space Force look more like General George S. Patton’s tanker’s uniform that the general proposed between world wars one and two; about the only difference between uniforms then and uniforms now is Patton’s addition of a football helmet, while it is very unlikely that Space Force will adopt the recommended propeller beanie….

Comparative photos at the link.

(5) COVER SCORES. The public’s choices for best covers in the Self-Published Science Fiction Competition have been announced – and the outcome was a lot close than expected.

(6) JO WALTON KICKSTARTER. A funding appeal launched at Kickstarter aims to produce a Lifelode Audiobook by Jo Walton.

Lifelode is a Mythopoeic Award winning fantasy novel by Jo Walton that has never had an audiobook. Jack Larsen is a young man from New Zealand who has a wonderful voice for reading aloud and wants to become an audiobook reader. Together, they could be amazing…

Jo Walton writes:

The main point of this is to try to kickstart the audiobook reading career of young New Zealand fan Jack Larsen, whose wonderful reading voice has been a mainstay of the Scintillation community through the pandemic.

They will have Jack read the book in a professional studio and have it professionally edited (which is the part which costs all the money) and then sell it where all good audiobooks are sold. 

At the Kickstarter site you can listen to Jack read the first chapter — click on the video there (which is just audio). Bear in mind, Jack did this demo on his phone.

As of today’s writing the appeal has raised $2,457 of its $7,891 goal.

(7) FOUNDATION LAYS ITS CORNERSTONE. Camestros Felapton supplies detailed comments about the beginning of the new series: “Review: Foundation Episode 1 (Apple TV)”.

2021 for all its faults, is offering fans of classic science fiction two (potential) treats: a new movie version of Dune and a TV adaptation of Isaac Asimov’s Foundation series. It’s interesting that of these two highly influential stories that with first you can make a good guess about what specific scenes will appear and in the second I’ve no idea what we will be getting….

Warning, it’s spoilers all the way down from there.

(8) PARTS IS PARTS. In contrast, Rolling Stone’s Alan Sepinwall isn’t a believer. “New Formula for ‘Foundation’ Doesn’t Add Up”.

…Like psycho-history itself, all of these changes make sense in theory. But none of them quite accomplish what the show’s creative team needs them to. This Foundation is, like the clones’ palace on the capitol planet of Trantor, stunning to look at(*) but ultimately cold and sterile. Despite the cast and crew’s best efforts — and what appears to be an unlimited budget, even by Apple’s lavish standards — this Foundation remains an assemblage of concepts in search of a compelling TV show….

(9) LANGDON JONES (1942-2021). Author, editor and musician Langdon Jones, whose short fiction primarily appeared in New Worlds, beginning with “Storm Water Tunnel” in 1964, has died, Michael Moorcock reported on Facebook.

One of my closest, longest and best friendships was with Lang Jones, a talented composer, editor and writer, one of the most modest people I have ever known, with the sweetest nature of almost any human being I’ve met. He was Assistant Editor of New Worlds. He restored Titus Alone by Mervyn Peake to the edition you probably read and wrote the music for The Rhyme of the Flying Bomb.  You can hear his lively piano on The Entropy Tango.  His own collection of stories The Great Clock, remains his only published fiction.  I last saw him about two years ago, at the wonderful wedding of his daughter Isobel to Jason Nickolds, for whom he was extremely happy, and he said he had stopped writing and composing and had never felt better.  He leaves a son, Damon, as well as his daughter.  One of the few people of whom it’s possible to write: Loved by all.

(10) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

1964 – Fifty-seven years ago, Mary Poppins had its New York City premiere. (Yes, it’s genre as a flying nanny is surely within our realm.) It was directed by Robert Stevenson from the screenplay by Bill Walsh and Don DaGradi as based off P. L. Travers’s Mary Poppins series. It was produced by Walt Disney and starred Julie Andrews in her first screen acting role. Principal other cast were Dick Van Dyke, David Tomlinson and Glynis Johns. The film was shot entirely at the Walt Disney Studios in Burbank, California, using painted London background scenes.  

It won’t surprise you that the film received universal acclaim from film critics, and that Julie Andrews and Dick Van Dyke got lavish praise. Box office wise, it earned some forty five million dollars on an estimated budget of four or so million dollars (Disney never released the budget officially) and it’s had at least another hundred million in box office rentals as well since then.

Audience reviewers currently at Rotten Tomatoes give it an excellent eighty-eight percent rating. A sequel, Mary Poppins Returns, was recently released and it too rates high among audience reviewers currently at Rotten Tomatoes with a sixty five percent rating. Dick Van Dyke has a new role in it. 

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born September 24, 1922 — Bert Gordon, 99. Film director most remembered for such SF and horror films as The Amazing Colossal ManVillage of the Giants and The Food of the Gods (based of course on the H.G. Wells’ novel The Food of the Gods and How It Came to Earth).  His nickname “Mister B.I.G.” was a reference both to his initials and to his preference for directing movies featuring super-sized creatures. 
  • Born September 24, 1934 — John Brunner. My favorite works by him? The Shockwave RiderStand on Zanzibar which won a Hugo at St. Louiscon and The Sheep Look Up. I’m also fond of The Squares of The City which was nominated for a Hugo at Tricon. That was easy. What’s your favorite works by him? (Died 1995.)
  • Born September 24, 1936 — Jim Henson. As much as I love The Muppet Show, and I’ve watched every show at least twice, I think The Storyteller is his best work. That’s not to overlook Labyrinth, The Witches and The Dark Crystal and the first two Muppets films which are also excellent. Warning note: the three newest takes done on The Muppets suck beyond belief. Disney should be ashamed. (Died 1990.)
  • Born September 24, 1945 — David Drake, 76. Writer with his best-known solo work being the Hammer’s Slammers series of military science fiction which are space operas inspired by the Aubrey–Maturin novels. He has also drafted story ideas that were then finished off by co-authors such as Karl Edward Wagner, S.M. Stirling, and Eric Flint. He’s very, very well stocked at the usual suspects. 
  • Born September 24, 1945 — Ian Stewart, 76. Mathematician and  writer. He makes the Birthday Honors for the four volumes in The Science of Discworld series he wrote with Jack Cohen and Terry Pratchett. It was nominated for a Hugo at Chicon 2000. Each of the books alternates between the usually absurd Discworld story and serious scientific exposition. (All four volumes are available from the usual suspects.) He would write a number of genre novels, none of which I’m familiar with. Anybody here read his works? 
  • Born September 24, 1951 — David Banks, 70. During the Eighties, he was the Cyberleader on Doctor Who in all the stories featuring the Cybermen — Earthshock (Fifth Doctor story), The Five DoctorsAttack of the Cybermen (Sixth Doctor story), and Silver Nemesis (Seventh Doctor story). In 1989, he played the part of Karl the Mercenary in the Doctor Who: The Ultimate Adventure stage play. There were two performances where he appeared as The Doctor as he replaced Jon Pertwee who had fallen ill.
  • Born September 24, 1957 — Brad Bird, 64. Animator, director, screenwriter, producer, and occasionally even a voice actor whom I’m going to praise for directing The Iron Giant (nominated for a Hugo at Chicon 2000), The Incredibles (winner of Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form at Interaction), Incredibles 2 and Tomorrowland. He’s the voice of Edna Mode in both the Incredibles films. 
  • Born September 24, 1965 — Richard K. Morgan, 56. The Takeshi Kovacs novels are an awesome series  which are why I haven’t watched the Netflix series. His fantasy series, A Land Fit For Heroes, is on my TBR, well my To Be Listened To pile now. And yes I read Thin Air, the sequel first and it’s quite excellent. 

(12) COMICS SECTION.

A meeting with the shrink is the subject of today’s Wulffmorgenthaler-239 at Politiken. Lise Andreasen supplies the translation from Danish:

So … You left him, you killed his aunt and uncle, you blew up his sister’s planet, you chopped his hand off … and NOW you want him to consider you a father figure and join you “on the dark side”. How do you think Luke feels about it?

(13) TRUTH OR CONSEQUENCES. Or both… Shat might be on his way to space after all these years — “Beam me up? TMZ says William Shatner will take Blue Origin suborbital space trip”.

The next crewed suborbital spaceflight planned by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin space venture — which could launch as early as next month — is due to carry Star Trek captain William Shatner, according to the TMZ celebrity news site.

If the report based on unnamed sources is true, that would make Shatner the oldest person to fly in space at the age of 90, besting the record set by 82-year-old aviation pioneer Wally Funk during the first crewed flight of Blue Origin’s New Shepard suborbital spacecraft in July….

(14) THE WARMED-UP EQUATIONS. “’Astronauts check our scripts!’: inside the new age of sumptuous sci-fi TV”. The Guardian tells how we got here.

…The current renaissance can be traced to Moore’s groundbreaking 2004 reimagining of hokey 70s space odyssey Battlestar Galactica. Updating the premise for a post-9/11 TV landscape, he turned a niche sci-fi story into mainstream watercooler TV. “Whether you liked sci-fi or not, you found yourself binging all these seasons,” says Ben Nedivi, one of Moore’s co-creators on For All Mankind. 

While Star Trek, too, is thriving in the current sci-fi landscape, with no less than five series currently in production, it seems unlikely to cross the final frontier into the halls of prestige sci-fi. For Nunn, this comes down to one thing: aliens. 

While the golden age shows of the 90s relied heavily on prosthetics – and, in the case of Farscape, puppets – to present characters from other worlds, today’s sombre offerings dwell solely on human problems. “With Battlestar Galactica, you’ve got robots, but you haven’t got aliens,” Nunn points out. “And The Expanse is similar. So they can be read as science fiction but also dystopias, whereas Star Trek and Babylon 5 and Farscape, even Stargate, all had alien life-forms at their core.”…

… For Shankar, a great strength of The Expanse is that it uses space as more than just a backdrop. “This is a show that turns space into a character,” he says. With a PhD in applied physics, he served as Next Generation’s official science adviser. “On Star Trek it was really about maintaining continuity with the fake science, making sure you used the phasers when you were supposed to, and not the photon torpedoes,” he says. “The technical manual [for the Enterprise] was quite detailed, but it wasn’t real. In The Expanse we use real physics to create drama. There’s a sequence in the first season where the ships are turning their engines on and off so you’re shifting from having weight to weightlessness. Two characters suddenly lose gravity and can’t get back to where they need to be, and the solution is conservation of momentum.”

This absolute commitment to accuracy is shared by the team behind For All Mankind. “We have an astronaut who reads our scripts,” explains co-creator Matt Wolpert. “He’ll tell us when we come up with ideas that are against the laws of physics.”…

(15) TED TALK. Ted White has two books out – one fiction, one non-…. Both were designed by John D. Berry, and published with the assistance of Michal Dobson’s Dobson Books. White is former editor of Amazing® and Heavy Metal® magazines and a past Best Fan Writer Hugo winner.

He’d been set up. Someone (and “independent consultant” Ray Phoenix was pretty sure who) had filed a phony stolen car report. When a freak bus accident allows him to escape into the woods, Ray lands in an entirely new world of trouble – small-town cocaine dealing, counterfeit money, and a web of strange and violent relationships that will take all of Ray’s considerable skills to unravel.

In 1986, legendary science fiction writer and editor Ted White went to jail for possession and sale of marijuana. A prolific correspondent, Ted kept up a steady stream of letters during his confinement that vividly and powerfully detail everyday life behind bars, from relationships with other prisoners and guards to living in cells and common rooms – not to mention the fine jailhouse cuisine. (Seriously, don’t mention it.) Ted White’s letters make you feel like you’re really in jail…and really glad you’re not.

(16) DISCONTENT. [Item by David Doering.] I caught this piece on TechDirt today. It appears that Sony’s art department enjoyed this fan artist’s rendering of She-Venom so much they included it in their official poster. Too bad they didn’t acknowledge that or offer to pay for it.  I certainly see more than just coincidence here. Even if Sony/others have the rights to the character, the similarities are too striking to not say the Sony version owes something to the fan artist. The comments debate both sides. “Sony Pictures, Defenders Of The Creative Industry, Appears To Be Using Fan Art Without Giving Credit”

… You can say the images don’t match up precisely if you like, but they’re certainly very damned close. As mentioned about similar past cases, this likely isn’t a copyright infringement issue; the fan artist doesn’t own any rights to the character he drew. But, again, if the copyright industries are going to do their maximalist routine under the guise of protecting those that create content, well, fan art is content…. 

(17) EVADING THE SURVEILLANCE SOCIETY. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] BBC Radio 4’s The Digital Human episode “Faceless” notes that it’s becoming harder to hide from facial recognition technology and asks what does this means for people who protest against political systems … So we are SF fans and know all about Orwell’s 1984, William Gibson’s novels etc.  Or do we?  It looks like things are getting worse, but there are ways to fight back…. Digital Human looks at the issues with examples from a non-political English teacher becoming a wanted terrorist on the run in 12 days, to counter-measures.

Johnathan Hirshon works in PR and marketing and describes himself as ‘The Faceless man’ because he’s managed to keep his face off the internet for over twenty years. This may seem extreme but Neda Soltani explains how one online photo of her face, meant she had to leave her family, country and profession. Artist and curator, Bogomir Doringer whose archived and curated thousands of faceless images off the internet talks about how technology is not only choreographing the way we use our faces but persuading us to hand over our biometric data with our use of apps that change the way we look. .

Artist Zach Blas is interested in queer culture and has created masks using biometric data from minority groups, to push back on the possibility of people being categorised by biometrics. Zach uses masks to show that facial recognition technology can be disrupted. Stephen has been trying to do just that. Stephen is from Hong Kong and spent the summer protesting against the Extradition bill. He and his fellow protesters wore masks to evade identification from the police and Hong Kong’s smart lamp posts. The remit of the protest grew when the wearing of masks by protesters was banned. Stephen believes that by using facial recognition technology on the streets of Hong Kong the authorities in Hong Kong and China are creating a sense of ‘white terror’. Stephen is now protesting in the UK but still feels this ‘white terror’. While protesting people from mainland China have been taking photos of him and other protesters. He knows that photos can go global and by using facial recognition tech he could be easily identified. Is it becoming impossible to escape recognition even when we would like to hide?

(18) HE BLABBED. Tom Hiddleston tells Loki stories: Untold: Tom Hiddleston.

(19) AN ADVENTURE WITH COMPANIONS. Yes! Another excuse to watch David Tennant! “Around the World in 80 Days” will air on PBS.

David Tennant stars as literature’s greatest explorer Phileas Fogg in a thrilling new adaptation of Jules Verne’s classic adventure novel coming to MASTERPIECE on PBS. (Air date to be announced.)

[Thanks to Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, Lise Andreasen, David Doering, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Michael Toman, John King Tarpinian, and Cat Eldridge for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to contributing editor of the day Jack Lint.]