Pixel Scroll 1/27/23 Gully File Is My Name, And The Scroll’s My Destination

(1) 2023 SMOFCON NEWS. MCFI president Rick Kovalcik has announced new discount rates for Smofcon40, being held December 1-3, 2023 at the Marriott Downtown, Providence, RI, USA. 

There is now a $40 (attending) rate for First Smofcon Attendees, Young Adult (Under 33 Years Old / Born After 1 December 1990), or Unwaged / Retired / Hardship. We expect these rates to be good at least through the end of pre-registration. We trust people not to abuse the Unwaged / Retired / Hardship rate. Unfortunately, we will not be refunding $10 to anyone who already bought at the $50 rate. The $50 full attending rate is good at least through 28 February 2023.

We have been working on our official website at smofcon40.org and expect to have an integrated membership / payment system up shortly. In the meantime, memberships may still be bought by filling out the form at  https:tinyurl.com/Smofcon40Membership and paying by PayPal to [email protected] or mailing a check to MCFI at PO Box 1010, Framingham, MA 01701 USA.

Gay Ellen Dennett has been chosen as Smofcon40 Chair and can be reached at [email protected].

The committee has a signed contract with the hotel. They expect to publish a link for room reservations in the late spring. Any additional questions may be sent to [email protected].

(2) BOOK SHOPPING IN MONGOLIA. [Item by Mikael Thompson.] Here are two recent translations I saw in Mongolian bookstores recently. First is Howl’s Moving Castle (literally, “Howl’s habitually-nomadizing castle”–nüü- meaning ‘to move, shift pastures, nomadize’ and -deg indicating habitual aspect). Second is the just-released translation of The Man Who Fell to Earth.   

(3) EKPEKI WILL VISIT ASU IN MARCH. Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki has been named a 2023 Visiting Fellow of the Future of Being Human initiative, in collaboration with the Arizona State University Center for Science and the Imagination.

Oghenechovwe will be visiting the ASU Tempe campus at the end of March, where he will be engaging with initiative communities, participating in meetups, and talking about his work and it’s connection to how we think about being human in a technologically advances future in a number of venues.

(4) AUTHOR WEBSITES. Michael Burton-Murphy has set up his own, but is looking around the field to decide how to use it: “Author Websites: A Survey of Sorts”   (Via Cat Rambo.)

… I’m not really a good hand for visuals, so I usually have a hard time figuring out what I want to do with a new website like this. I decided I’d take a survey of the sites put up by some of the authors whose work I’ve enjoyed over the years, and see what I could infer from them.

Ugly On Purpose

Let’s start with a couple of sites that aren’t formatted for visual appeal.

Charlie Stross is a writer of deep, complex, even mind-bending fiction. He’s also a veteran of multiple tech startups. His author website is spartan….

(5) EATING THE FANTASTIC. Scott Edelman invites listeners to lunch on Laotian food with Cory Doctorow in Episode 190 of the Eating the Fantastic podcast.

Cory Doctorow

Cory is a science fiction writer, journalist and technology activist who in 2020, was inducted into the Canadian Science Fiction and Fantasy Hall of Fame. In the years since I published his first professional fiction sale in Science Fiction Age magazine (though I didn’t buy his first professionally sold short story, a distinction we get into during our chat), he’s won the Locus, Prometheus, Copper Cylinder, White Pine and Sunburst Awards, and been nominated for the Hugo, Nebula and British Science Fiction Awards.

His novels include Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom (2003), Eastern Standard Tribe (2004), Someone Comes to Town, Someone Leaves Town (2005), Little Brother (2008), his most recent, Walkaway (2017), and others. His most recent short story collection is Radicalized (2019). He’s also a special consultant to the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a non-profit civil liberties group that defends freedom in technology law, policy, standards and treaties.

We discussed how different D.C. seems to him now that he’s a U.S. citizen, the way his remarkable evening hanging with both David Byrne and Spider Robinson put things in perspective, the lessons we learned (both good and bad) from Harlan Ellison, our differing levels of hope and despair at the current state of the world, the major effect Judith Merril had on the direction of his life, how an ongoing column he wrote for Science Fiction Age magazine predicted the next 20 years of his life, our differing opinions as to what it means when we say stories are didactic, how to continue on in the face of rejection — and then once we do, how not to become parodies of ourselves, the best piece of advice he didn’t follow, our differing views on spoilers, what he recently came to understand about the reactionary message of traditional hardboiled fiction — and how he used that in his upcoming trilogy, knowing when to break the rules of writing, and much more.

(6) A STOPPED CLOCK TELLS THE RIGHT TIME. Camestros Felapton initially discusses a point made by Larry Correia that he agrees with – how did that happen? But they soon part company again in “Guns & Nonsense: Part 5, Defence in Depth”.

…However, Correia is apparently naïve enough to think that gun control must be perfect before it can be an additional layer of security. The opposite is obviously true. Making it harder for people who wish to hurt others to get access to guns is an additional layer of security. It’s not a perfect layer but as demonstrated in multiple wealthy nations, it is a very effective layer.

Of course, if Correia conceded that gun control is an effective layer in a model of “defence in depth” then a rather alarming conclusion would logically follow: gun control is part of self-defence. Ah. The implication of that is both huge but also demonstrable. A right to protect yourself from harm applied equitably i.e. a right that makes it easier for everybody is the opposite of tyranny….

(7) MEMORY LANE.

1968 [Compiled by Cat Eldridge.] Agatha Christie’s At Bertram’s Hotel

Food has an important role in Christie’s fiction. (And yes, I adore her detectives, all of them. That’s why you will see more culinary quotes from her fiction.) Hercule Poirot and his oh so perfect breakfast,  or the quote this time from At Bertram’s Hotel, a Miss Marple novel (she is taking a two-week holiday in London at this hotel though she doesn’t figure into our quote, though she loved breakfast here, “Miss Marple inserted a knife gingerly but with confidence. She was not disappointed. Rich deep yellow yolk oozed out, thick and creamy. Proper eggs! “) The manager is telling one of the guests what an English breakfast once was like, and what he can have there now.

‘Eggs and bacon?’

‘As you say—but a good deal more than that if you want it. Kippers, kidneys and bacon, cold grouse, York ham, Oxford marmalade.’

‘I must remember to get all that… don’t get that sort of a thing any more at home.’

Humfries smiled. ‘Most gentlemen only ask for eggs and bacon. They’ve—well, they’ve got out of the way of thinking about the things there used to be.’

‘Yes, yes… I remember when I was a child. … Sideboards groaning with hot dishes. Yes, it was a luxurious way of life.’

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born January 27, 1940 James Cromwell, 83. I think we best know him as Doctor Zefram Cochrane In Star Trek: First Contact which was re-used in the Enterprise episode “In a Mirror, Darkly (Part I)”.  He’s been in other genre films including Species IIDeep ImpactThe Green MileSpace CowboysI, Robot, Spider-Man 3 and Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom. He played characters on three Trek series, Prime Minister Nayrok on “The Hunted” episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation and Jaglom Shrek in the two part “Birthright” story, Hanok on the “Starship Down” episode of Deep Space Nine and Zefram Cochrane once as noted before on Enterprise
  • Born January 27, 1950 Michaela Roessner, 73. She won the Astounding Award for Best New Writer after writing Walkabout Woman. Though not genre, her two historical novels, The Stars Dispose and The Stars Compel, about Catherine de Medici are excellent.  ISFDB lists another novel of genre status, Vanishing Point. None of her fiction is available digitally, alas. 
  • Born January 27, 1953 Joe Bob Briggs, 70. Writer, actor, and comic performer. Host of the TNT MonsterVision series, and the ongoing The Last Drive-in with Joe Bob Briggs on Shudder from 2018–present. The author of a number of nonfiction review books including Profoundly Disturbing: Shocking Movies that Changed History!  And he’s written one genre novel, Iron Joe Bob. My favorite quote by him is that after contracting Covid and keeping private that he had, he said later that “Many people have had COVID-19 and most of them were much worse off than me. I wish everybody thought it was a death sentence, because then everyone would wear the f*cking mask and then we would get rid of it.”
  • Born January 27, 1956 Mimi Rogers, 67. Her best known SFF role is Professor Maureen Robinson in the Lost in Space film which I did see in a theatre I just realized. She’s also Mrs. Marie Kensington in Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery, and she’s Orianna Volkes in the Penny Dreadful hitchhiker horror film. She’s got one-offs in Tales from The CryptThe X-FilesWhere Are You Scooby Doo? and Ash v. Evil Dead.
  • Born January 27, 1957 Frank Miller, 66. He’s both an artist and writer so I’m not going to untangle which is which here. What’s good by him? Oh, I love The Dark Knight Returns, both the original comic series and the animated film, though the same not no true of Sin City where I prefer the original series much more. Hmmm… What else? His runs on Daredevil and Electra of course. That should do. 
  • Born January 27, 1965 Alan Cumming, 58. I’m now watching The Good Wife where plays Eli Gold, the ultimate crisis manager. His film roles include performances as Boris Grishenko in GoldenEye, Fegan Floop In the Spy Kids trilogy, Loki, god of Mischief in Son of the Mask, Nightcrawler In X2 and Judas Caretaker in Riverworld (anyone know this got made?). 
  • Born January 27, 1966 Tamlyn Tomita, 57. I’m fairly sure I first saw her in a genre role on the Babylon 5 film The Gathering as Lt. Cmdr. Laurel Takashima. Or it might have been on The Burning Zone as Dr. Kimberly Shiroma. And she had a recurring late on Eureka in Kate Anderson, and Ishi Nakamura on Heroes? She’s been in a number of SFF series in one-off roles including HighlanderQuantum LeapThe SentinelSeven DaysFreakyLinks, Stargate SG-1 and a recurring as late as Tamiko Watanabe in The Man in The High Castle.
  • Born January 27, 1970 Irene Gallo, 53. Creative Director for Tor.com and Tor Books. She’s won an amazing thirteen Chelsey Awards, and two World Fantasy Awards, as art director of Tor.com and for the Worlds Seen in Passing: Ten Years of Tor.com Short Fiction anthology. She also co-wrote Revolution: The Art of Jon Foster with Jon Foster and Cathy & Arnie Fenner.

(9) IF YOU CAN MAKE IT THERE. FANAC.org’s next FanHistory Project Zoom Session will be “New York Fandom in the 70s with Moshe Feder, Andy Porter, Steve Rosenstein and Jerry Kaufman”. Catch it live on February 11, 2023 at 4:00 p.m. Eastern

The story of New York fandom is fascinating. From the worldcon in the 60s to fragmentation and multiple fannish groups in the 70s, there’s a real story to tell. How did NY fandom come to break apart? What were the fannish clubs and how were they different? Who were the movers and shakers? How did the emergence of Star Trek and Star Trek conventions affect NY fandom? Did moving Lunacon out of the city have a big effect? What were the highlights and heartbreaks? Join four of the stalwarts of 70s New York fandom, as they revisit those days.

(10) JEOPARDY! SF QUESTIONS 2023-01-26 [Item by David Goldfarb.] Troy Meyer continues to extend his winning streak. On Thursday’s Jeopardy! episode there were two clues with SF content, both in the Double Jeopardy round.

Line in the Sand, $1600: A passage in this novel relays: “Gurney saw Fremen spread out across the sand there in the path of the worm”

Emma Moore responded correctly.

“B” Movies [i.e., movies whose titles began with the letter B], $2000: This Terry Gilliam fantasy features a futuristic bureaucracy

Troy Meyer responded correctly.

(11) FOUNDATIONS OF MIDDLE-EARTH. Austin Gilkeson delves into “The Lore of the Rings” at the New York Review of Books.

One September day in 1914, a young J.R.R. Tolkien, in his final undergraduate year at Oxford, came across an Old English advent poem called “Christ A.” Part of it reads, “Éalá Éarendel engla beorhtast/ofer middangeard monnum sended,” which he later rendered: “Hail Éarendel, brightest of angels/above the middle-earth sent unto men!” Safe in his aunt’s house in Nottinghamshire while battles raged on the continent, Tolkien took inspiration from this ode to the morning and evening star and wrote his own poem in modern English, “Éarendel the Mariner.” That poem was not published in his lifetime, but after it came the stories that would become The SilmarillionThe Hobbit, and The Lord of the Rings, which in turn inspired, to varying degrees, EarthseaStar Wars, Dungeons & Dragons, Harry PotterThe Wheel of TimeThe WitcherGame of Thrones, and so on, an apostolic succession of fantasy.

The latest in the line is The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power. Amazon Studios does not have the rights to The Silmarillion, the posthumous collection of Tolkien’s mythology that serves as a sort of bible for Middle-earth, nor is it adapting The Lord of the Rings, Tolkien’s 1954 novel about the hobbit Frodo’s quest to save Middle-earth by destroying the One Ring, which holds the power of the Dark Lord Sauron. Peter Jackson’s film trilogy still looms too large. Instead, the showrunners, J.D. Payne and Patrick McKay, have crafted a prequel, set thousands of years before the events of the three-volume novel and drawn from bits of lore in its prologue, “Concerning Hobbits,” and extensive appendices on Middle-earth history and culture. It’s an undertaking not dissimilar from Tolkien’s own reworking of “Christ A,” spinning out a narrative from a few textual scraps—the kind of academic exercise an Oxford professor of Old English could appreciate….

(12) SUN DIALS ARE RIGHT OUT. “What time is it on the Moon?” in Nature. “Satellite navigation systems for lunar settlements will require local atomic clocks. Scientists are working out what time they will keep.” SF authors and Andy Weir take note…

The coming decade will see a resurgence in lunar exploration — including dozens of missions and plans to establish permanent bases on the Moon. The endeavours pose myriad challenges. Among them is a subtle, but fundamental, question that meteorologists worldwide are working to answer: what time is it on the Moon?… 

The Moon doesn’t currently have an independent time. Each lunar mission uses its own timescale that is linked, through its handlers on Earth, to coordinated universal time, or UTc — the standard against which the planet’s clocks are set. But this method is relatively imprecise and spacecraft exploring the Moon don’t synchronize the time with each other. The approach works when the Moon hosts a handful of independent missions, but it will be a problem when there are multiple craft working together. Space agencies will also want to track them using satellite navigation, which relies on precise timing signals.

It’s not obvious what form a universal lunar time would take. Clocks on Earth and the Moon naturally tick at different speeds, because of the differing gravitational fields of the two bodies. Official lunar time could be based on a clock system designed to synchronize with UTC, or it could be independent of Earth time….

(13) HWA KERFUFFLE. Tom Monteleone, alleging that “gatekeepers” at the Horror Writers Association websites were keeping his post from appearing, took to Facebook to nominate David Schiff for an HWA Lifetime Achievement Award.  But before sharing the reasons Schiff should receive the recognition, Monteleone made known his real agenda:

…That said, and despite the last few LAA years looking very much like a very obvious DEI project, I am compelled to nominate a smart, old white guy: Stu Schiff…

Since then people have left over 500 comments, some applauding what he said and adding their own feelings about “virtue signaling” and “wokeness”, while others have called for him to apologize. He has made additional comments which others are engaging. The worthiness of some of the 2017 LAA winners has also been denigrated.

Former HWA president John Palisano chimed in:

As the person who was president of the HWA when these LAA awards were selected and given, I stood behind them then, and I stand behind them today. And I also stand behind Kevin Wetmore and the LAA committee who made these selections.

I’m more than disappointed their names have been attacked. I have zero tolerance for the transphobia and hateful comments spewed forth.

For the record? They were chosen on merit, period. Anyone who thinks otherwise is dead wrong. I was there. Their Race, gender, sexuality. Etc. we’re not the defining factors.

Also? SCHIFF’s validation and consideration will not be based negatively based upon this hurtful thread.

Even though I’m not president now, I know my colleagues in the HWA will not hold this against a candidate. In fact? Proof of such can be seen in the fact that many people who’ve been very critical against the HWA in the past have been brought in as GOH and in other capacities. There’s always room for growth and learning…

Brian Keene finally decided he needed to come off the sidelines and wrote a long comment that includes this quote:

… But now, with this second topic, there *are* people speaking up directly, and telling you [Monteleone] that some of the things you’re saying here are hurtful. They’re not going through me to do it. They’re saying it right here, directly to you. Maybe you’re not hearing them, so let me try saying it instead.

You’re publishing Mary’s collection of Edward Lucas White stories. She turned that in to you two days ago. That night, she said to me, quote: “Back in the day, Tom was the first editor in this business to treat me like a colleague and not like a groupie.” End quote. Today she saw your trans comments elsewhere in this thread. As the mother of a trans daughter, she was incredibly hurt by them. She’s downstairs right now, trying to reconcile all this. As the soon-to-be step-father to a trans-daughter, and as someone who has known that child since she was 4 years old, and has seen her struggle first hand, I’m hurt by them, too. You have always been kind and generous and supportive of Mary and I both, but what are we supposed to do at the wedding reception? Stick you at a back table like “that one uncle”? Because that’s how it’s coming across to us both…

[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, John King Tarpinian, Mikael Thompson, David Goldfarb, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Chris Barkley, Andrew Porter, and Michael Toman  for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editors of the day Jayn and David Goldfarb.]

Pixel Scroll 12/29/22 What Are Pixels? Ask The Scrollman As He Knows

(1) IS ENOUGH MONEY POURING IN? [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] “Avatar: The Way Of Water passes $1bn at the global box office” the BBC reports. Arguably something the studio needed as Avatar: The Way of Water is apparently most expensive film made; Budget $350,000,000 (estimated). 

Remember, this is gross box office, director Cameron needs not just net box office but studio receipt, which means he needs US$2 billion to break even.

Avatar: The Way Of Water has made $1bn (£831m) at the global box office in just 14 days, becoming the fastest film to pass the milestone this year.

The long-delayed sequel has proved a hit with audiences despite wildly varying reviews.

It is one of only three films to surpass $1bn this year, after Top Gun: Maverick and Jurassic World Dominion….

Not seen it myself. Saw the first one. OK story with lots of meaningless but photogenic eye-candy. With a run time of over three hours, I’m not tempted, though I suspect this really needs to be seen on the big screen.

What do others think?

(2) CLARION WEST CALLING. The Clarion West Six-Week Summer Workshop is going virtual. Applications open January 4

Clarion West is returning to a fully virtual workshop in 2023. We will accept a class of 15 students to keep the workload and screen time manageable for all. Tuition is $3,200, and a scholarship section is included in our workshop application, which opens January 4.

The Workshop’s faculty members will be:

  • Week 1: Mary Anne Mohanraj & Benjamin Rosenbaum
  • Week 2: Cat Rambo
  • Week 3: Samit Basu
  • Week 4: Karen Lord
  • Weel 5: Arley Sorg
  • Week 6: N. K. Jemisin

Find full information in “Frequently Asked Questions about the Clarion West Summer Workshop”.

(3) CLAUSES, BUT NO SANTAS. David Steffen’s presentation “How to Read a Short Story Contract” is now available on Dream Foundry’s YouTube channel.

What is the purpose of short story contracts? What clauses do you want to see? What clauses do you want to avoid? What do you do if you see something in a contract that you don’t like?

(4) IT’S SHOW TIME. [Item by Soon Lee.] Adam Roberts does The Silmarillion to the tune of the Muppets Show theme, and others add verses. Thread starts here.

(5) CON OR BUST. Dream Foundry hit the target of raising $10,000 for Con or Bust before year end.

This year our fundraising efforts are focused on our Con or Bust program. If you are still unfamiliar, Con or Bust provides grants to fans and creators of colour who would otherwise be unable to attend industry events due to costs. Thanks to a very generous donation, we’ve met our goal of raising $10k before the end of the year, but we know we can do more! If we raise another $3,000 before the end of the year, that will ensure we can connect even more fans and creatives of color with community. Donate now to be a part of something truly special. If you’d like to learn more about Con or Bust, we have that information also here

(6) PLAY NICE. Let Jo Walton be your guide “In Search of Books in Which Nothing Bad Happens” at Tor.com. After a long search she eventually thinks of one. (This excerpt isn’t it – we wouldn’t want to steal the payoff.)

…Romance. Pretty much all genre romance is “everything is OK at the end” but bad things happen in the meantime. But some Georgette Heyer has plots that work because bad things seem about to happen and are averted—this is different from everything being all right in the end, the bad things never occur, they are no more than threats that pass over safely. Cotillion does this. Two people are separately rescued by the heroine from iffy situations that could potentially become terrible, but they don’t. I think this counts. (It’s funny too.) That makes me think of Jane Austen’s Northanger Abbey in which the worst thing that happens is somebody exaggerates and somebody else has to go home alone on a stagecoach…that’s really not very bad. Right up there with the bear who can’t go to sleep….

(7) DC FINALLY GETS SOME CREDIT. Drumroll, please! “The 2022 ComicBook.com Golden Issue Award for Best Comic Book Movie” goes to….

The Batman

Clocking in at nearly three hours with a pulse-pounding score, intense violence, and a plot inspired by some of DC’s best detective comics, The Batman is a true tour de force for the character. And while it includes echoes of the original Tim Burton franchise, takes influence from Christopher Nolan and Christian Bale’s trilogy, and even has a bit of the same flavor from Todd Philips’ Joker, The Batman stands out as a wholly unique cinematic entry featuring pop culture’s most unique crime fighter….

(7.5) BEAR REMEMBERED. The Guardian’s “Greg Bear obituary” appeared today and includes a long profile of his career. Plus a credited photo by Andrew Porter (an uncropped version of which appeared here).

The American science fiction writer Greg Bear, who has died aged 71 following heart surgery, was, as he put it “all over the map” as far as interests and subjects were concerned: genetics, starships, politics, artificial constructs and combat in space were among the themes explored in his 35 novels. The work he did to research them with thinkers and institutions made them remarkably prescient, not only scientifically – he is attributed with the first descriptions of nanotechnology – but also politically….

(8) MEMORY LANE.

2000 [By Cat Eldridge.] Kermit the Frog Landmark Statue at Henson Studio

Kermit the Frog as Charlie Chaplin in his role as The Little Tramp? Why not?

Let’s start with beginning of the press release the Muppet Studio folk put as they call this they Kermit the Frog Landmark Statue Unveiled at Front Gates of Henson Studio: “In a touching homage to both Jim Henson and Charlie Chaplin, today, The Jim Henson Company unveiled a stately 12 foot tall statue of Kermit the Frog dressed as Charlie Chaplin’s The Little Tramp, which was permanently mounted on the tower of the studio’s front gates. All who enter or pass by will be reminded that the two visionaries contributions to mankind are celebrated on these grounds.”

This twelve-foot-high statue was unveiled on the roof of the main building in July of 2000.

The reason why Kermit is dressed like Chaplin is that this is the original location of Charlie Chaplin Studios. The studio was built in 1917 by silent and sound film star Charlie Chaplin. Chaplin sold the studio in 1957 to Kling Studios and they produced the old Superman television series with George Reeves. And then it was owned by Red Skelton, and CBS who filmed the Perry Mason series. In February 1969 it was designated a Los Angeles Historic-Cultural Monument.

So did you know that in 2000, the Henson family sold the company to the German media company EM.TV & Merchandising AG, for a rather stunning six hundred and eighty million dollars which included the Sesame Street Workshop? I didn’t. 

Just three years after that German media company lost its behind on other concerns, the Henson family paid just over eighty million to get everything back. Nice, really nice.

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born December 29, 1901 William H. Ritt. US cartoonist and author, whose best known strip, Brick Bradford, was SF. Two of the early Thirties strips, Brick Bradford and the City Beneath the Sea and Brick Bradford with Brocco the Mountain Buccaneer, became Big Little books. In 1947, Brick Bradford, a 15-chapter serial film starring Kane Richmond, was produced by Columbia Pictures. (Died 1972.)
  • Born December 29, 1912 Ward Hawkins.  Alternative universes! Lizard men as sidekicks! He wrote the Borg and Guss series (Red Flaming BurningSword of FireBlaze of Wrath and Torch of Fear) which as it features these I really would like to hear as audiobooks. Not that it’s likely as I see he’s not made it even to the usual suspects yet. (Died 1990.)
  • Born December 29, 1928 Bernard Cribbins. He has the odd distinction of first showing up on Doctor Who in the non-canon Daleks’ Invasion Earth 2150 A.D. film (with Peter Cushing as The Doctor.) He would make it into canon when he appeared as Wilfred Mott in the Tenth Doctor story, “Voyage of the Damned”, and he‘s a Tenth Doctor companion himself in “The End of Time”, the two-part 2009–10 Christmas and New Year special. (Died 2022.)
  • Born December 29, 1963 Dave McKean, 59. If you read nothing else involving him, do read the work done by him and Gaiman called The Tragical Comedy or Comical Tragedy of Mr Punch: A Romance. Brilliant, violent, horrifying. Well, and Signal to Noise by them is worth chasing down as well. 
  • Born December 29, 1966 Alexandra Kamp, 56. Did you know one of Sax Rohmer’s novels was made into a film? I didn’t. Well, she was the lead in Sax Rohmer’s Sumuru which Michael Shanks also shows up in. She’s also in 2001: A Space Travesty with Leslie Nielsen, and Dracula 3000 with Caspar van Dien. Quality films neither will be mistaken for, each warranting a fifteen percent rating among audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes.
  • Born December 29, 1969 Ingrid Torrance, 53. A very busy performer who’s had one- offs in Poltergeist: The Legacy, The Sentinel, Viper, First Wave, The Outer Limits, Seven Days, Smallville, Stargate: SG-1, The 4400, Blade: The Series, Fringe, The Tomorrow People, and Supernatural.
  • Born December 29, 1972 Jude Law, 50. I think his first SF role was as Jerome Eugene Morrow in Gattaca followed by playing Gigolo Joe in A.I. with my fave role for him being the title role in Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow. He was Lemony Snicket in Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events, Tony in The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus, Dr. John Watson in Sherlock Holmes and Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows, Remy in Repo Men and he voiced Pitch Black in one of my favorite animated films, Rise of the Guardians.

(10) HELL RAISERS. It’s time to find out who Cora Buhlert has given “The 2022 Darth Vader Parenthood Award for Outstandingly Horrible Fictional Parents”. (Not to mention the “Retro Darth”!) There are so many possibilities…

It’s almost the end of the year, so it’s time to announce the winner of the coveted (not) 2022 Darth Vader Parenthood Award for Outstandingly Horrible Fictional Parents.

Let’s have a bit of background: I have been informally awarding the Darth Vader Parenthood Award since sometime in the 1980s with the earliest awards being retroactive. Over the years, the list of winners migrated from a handwritten page to various computer file formats, updated every year. Eventually, I decided to make the winners public on the Internet, because what’s an award without some publicity and a ceremony? The list of previous winners (in PDF format) up to 2017 may be found here, BTW, and the 2018 winner, the 2019 winnerthe 2020 winner and the 2021 winner were announced right here on this blog.

Warning: Spoilers for several things behind the cut!

Before we get to the main event, let’s start with the 2022 Retro Darth Vader Parenthood Award for Outstandingly Horrible Fictional Parents. I originally created the Retro Darth Vader Parenthood Award as an anaologue to the Retro Hugos in 2020 to honour terrible parents who either did their villainous parenting before the award was a thing or who were overlooked in the past for unfathomable reasons….

(11) A CHRISTMAS CARACOLE. About that story John Scalzi promised if Locus hit its $75K fundraising target? Well, he wrote it: “A Holiday Gift For You: ‘End of the Year PR Missives From Scrooge & Marley’” at Whatever.

… DECEMBER 24 1843

SCROOGE & MARLEY DECRY THE USE OF COAL FOR HEATING, PLEDGE TO “GO GREEN” IN ‘44

When you think of “Ecologically Friendly Companies,” you might not immediately think of Scrooge & Marley (established 1803), but perhaps you should. Co-founder Ebenezer Scrooge has gone on record decrying the use of coal, a carbon-intensive “legacy fuel” for the purposes of heating office buildings in London and elsewhere in Great Britain. “It’s expensive and not what we need for the future of our company,” he proclaimed. 

Scrooge has encouraged employees to seek other options, including personal insulation units composed of natural, sustainable fibers….

(12) CENTENARY SALUTE. “Stan Lee Documentary Coming to Disney+ in 2023” reports Variety.

Marvel Entertainment tweeted a 25-second video on Wednesday confirming the 2023 release of a Disney+ documentary on Stan Lee. The announcement aligns with what would have been the 100th birthday of the late comic creator….

(13) FOR YOUR HOARD. The Royal Mint will be “Celebrating the Life and Work of JRR Tolkien” with the issue of a £2 coin in 2023. The King is on the front, Tolkien is commemorated on the back.

…Tolkien passed away in 1973 although, 50 years later, the father of modern fantasy fiction still has a palpable influence on the genre. His trademark monogram, encircled by a runic pattern skilfully created by the artist David Lawrence (pictured below), will forever grace this commemorative UK £2 coin. ‘NOT ALL THOSE WHO WANDER ARE LOST’, a quote from the poem ‘The Riddle of Strider’, which features in Tolkien’s The Fellowship of the Ring, serves as the coin’s edge inscription….

(14) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Jennifer Hawthorne.] This library in Jamestown Township, Michigan, has been having serious trouble with politically-based attacks. (“Town votes to defund library after claims it was ‘grooming’ kids”LGBTQ Nation.)

One of their librarians finally had enough. (“Angry librarian tells off conservative Christians protesting library in righteous speech”LGBTQ Nation.)

Here’s a captioned video of her speech.

[Thanks to Mike Kennedy, John King Tarpinian, Chris Barkley, PhilRM, Soon Lee, Jennifer Hawthorne, 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 11/14/22 One Scroll Makes You Pixel, The Other Makes You Smaug

(1) DESTINATION FOR THE STARS? The New York Times’ Blake Gopnik reports that last week Christie’s auction house broke records by selling more than $1.5 billion in art from the estate of Paul G. Allen, the co-founder of Microsoft who died in 2018. Although a lot of high art went under the hammer, his pop culture holdings, including sf art, did not and may have a different fate.  

… It all made me think of Allen as the kind of person who might have enjoyed buying, and owning, a $15 million Stradivarius violin and a $12 million Mickey Mantle baseball card and a $10 million stamp from British Guiana.

But there was one work in the sale — a real outlier — that meshed with stronger, more focused feelings that I seemed to glimpse when I met with Allen. Hanging among pieces by the certified geniuses of Western “high” art at Christie’s sat a dreamy, sunset scene of teen-girls-in-nature, painted in 1926 by the American Maxfield Parrish, best known for his truly great work in commercial illustration. It called to mind the tremendous excitement that Allen showed, a decade ago, when he had me look at a series of paintings that had been used, sometime in the 1950s or ’60s, I’d guess, for reproduction on the cover of science-fiction novels or magazines: I remember seeing weird Martian landscapes, galactic skies and maybe a rocket ship or two.

I can’t confirm those memories, right off the bat, because none of those pictures ended up at Christie’s. (Even though you could say that Allen’s Botticelli has some extraterrestrial strangeness to it, if only because of its distance from today’s culture, and that his paintings by Salvador Dalí and Jacob Hendrik Pierneef might work with stories by Philip K. Dick.) But I do remember that in our interview Allen’s enthusiasm for those objects from so-called “popular” culture seemed much more intense, and heartfelt, than the feelings he expressed for masterpieces that had cost him thousands of times more.

And that may be born out in the future that seems in store for those sci-fi objects, different from the fate of the ones sold into private hands at Christie’s. Last month, a spokesperson for Seattle’s Museum of Pop Culture, founded by Allen in 2000 — his sister Jody Allen is its current chair — told The Times that more than 4,000 objects of un-fine art and culture from the Allen estate, valued at some $20 million, were due to end up among its holdings, and I can only hope that the sci-fi paintings will be among them. (A representative from Vulcan, the Allen company in charge of his estate, later weighed in to say that the bequest to MoPOP was not final and that Vulcan could not confirm the exact number or type of objects in it. As when their boss was alive, his Vulcans play their cards close to their chests.)…

(2) AO3’S FANZINE SCAN HOSTING PROJECT. “AO3’s fanfiction preservation project: Archivists are digitizing zines to save fan history” reports Slate.

Archive of Our Own is probably best known as the place to read fans’ carefully crafted Harry Potter prequels or Lord of the Rings stories millions of words long. But the fanfiction website also has a lesser known, though no less important mission: to save older fanfic that’s at risk of disappearing. A new initiative, the Fanzine Scan Hosting Project, aims to make fan stories and art from physical fanzines accessible through the Archive, preserving pieces of history previously confined to university libraries, scattered eBay sales, and forgotten corners of attics….

Over the last year or so, however, Open Doors’ Fan Culture Preservation Project has expanded, finally giving them room to launch the Fanzine Scan Hosting Project. So far, they’re making their way through the backlog of scans that Zinedom has already accumulated, which Dawn estimates is “a couple thousand.”

These came from various sources, with Dawn doing a lot of outreach herself simply by searching Facebook for names she came across in zines and making phone calls. Janet Quarton, a Scottish Star Trek zine publisher and preservationist, scanned about 500 zines herself in 2013. But even Zinedom’s digital collection is only a fragment of what’s out there. One Zinedom participant has a collection of around 8,000 physical zines from the Star Trek fandom alone, and digs out the appropriate copies if Dawn is contacted by someone looking to save something in particular.

Open Doors is now preparing to post on the Archive those zines from Zinedom’s backlog which they already have permission to share. Some of these overlap with online zine archives that they’ve been previously importing, like the Kirk/Spock archive. But new requests and permissions have also been coming in since the announcement, and it will be an ongoing process, with volunteers working hard to convert and edit each individual zine.

(3) THE RIGHT WORD? Nisi Shawl was still in search of an answer that hits the spot when I looked at Facebook this afternoon:

What’s the word for the kind of apology you get that blames you for what went wrong?

(4) HORROR WRITING VETERANS. The Horror Writers Association blog has been running a “Veterans in Horror Spotlight” series. Here’s an example: “Veterans in Horror: Interview with Jonathan Gensler”.

What role, if any, did reading and writing play during your military service?

I still have stacks of my journals from the whole nine-year period sitting on my bookshelf, unread to this day.  I had written poetry and journaled most of my teenage years up to that point, but when I got out of the service I stopped journaling and writing almost completely for reasons I haven’t quite grasped.  That was over 15 years ago.  Reading, on the other hand is something I have never stopped doing.  These combat deployments were well before I had anything like an e-reader, so it was physical books all the way.  I must have lugged around a ridiculous amount of books with me. The big ones that hit me the hardest while deployed are still some of my favorites: Dumas’s The Count of Monte Cristo, Epictetus’ The Enchiridion, my first readings of Ender’s Game and that series. I got my first copy of House of Leaves while deployed to Iraq and that copy is scrawled with my own footnotes and reflections, and is falling apart at the seams.  And then of course, King finished out The Dark Tower while I was deployed so I had those tomes sent to me and to tote around as well. So, yeah, I filled my spare hours with both reading and writing, quite a bit of both.

Here are the links to the rest of the series.

(5) BOOKSTORE REBOUNDS FROM ARSON ATTACK. “L.A. book emporium the Iliad recovering from mysterious fire” reports the Los Angeles Times. The bookstore’s GoFundMe has been an enormous success. The owner asked for $5,000 to cover his insurance deductible. “The response has topped $34,000, sparing him the need to file a claim at all.”

…The cause of the blaze remains unknown. Los Angeles Fire Department spokesman Erik Scott said it has been ruled undetermined.

[Iliad owner] Weinstein said he believes an arsonist started the fire. It appeared that books the store leaves outside for the community to browse were stacked in a pyramidal shape next to the entry door and lit, he said.

An inscrutable motive was suggested by 15 to 20 copies of a flyer Weinstein said he found taped to the sides of the building. It was a collage of conspiratorial references — the Irish and South African flags, a photo of the burned-out cabin where policeman-turned-killer Christopher Dorner died, an address of a nearby home, and a handwritten letter attributed to Alex Cox, a deceased figure in a complex family homicide case depicted in a Netflix documentary….

(6) AMAZON WORKFORCE CUTS COMING. Reuters has learned “Amazon to lay off thousands of employees”. (And last week, Facebook parent Meta Platforms Inc said it would cut more than 11,000 jobs, or 13% of its workforce.)

… The cuts, earlier reported by the New York Times, would represent about 3% of Amazon’s corporate staff. The exact number may vary as businesses within Amazon review their priorities, the source told Reuters.

The online retailer plans to eliminate jobs in its devices organization, which makes voice-controlled “Alexa” gadgets and home-security cameras, as well as in its human-resources and retail divisions, the person said. Amazon’s time frame for informing staff remained unclear….

(7) THE ART OF FANHISTORY. Garth Spencer’s name was chosen from the hat to be Corflu Pangloss’ Guest of Honour. He has published the speech he gave “revealing the hideous basic truths of fandom” in Obdurate Eye #21.

…There was a time when I thought every other country seems to have a published fanhistory; why shouldn’t a Canadian fanhistory be published? Maybe I could compile it, from any information I could gather. Then I got strange responses like “Who are you? Why are you asking me questions? Who sent you? I’m not responsible!” So, I learned that There Are Things Fans Must Not Put on Record. More to the point, my search to find out what people can be expected to do, when to expect it, and how to defend yourself, is not the first thing people think of when they think of fanhistory….

(8) A MEMORY PROMPT. Daytonian in Manhattan’s “The Lost ‘Furness House’ — 34 Whitehall Street” is an article about the NYC headquarters building for the steamship line A. Bertram Chandler once worked for.

In 1891, Christopher Furness, owner of the Furness Line of steamships, and Henry Withy, head of the shipbuilding firm Edward Withy & Co., merged their businesses to form Furness, Withy & Co., Ltd.  Starting out with 18 vessels, by the outbreak of World War I, it sailed more than 200–and it was ready for a new New York City branch office building….

Andrew Porter reminds readers that he published Chandler’s autobiographical “Around the World in 23,741 Days” in Algol 31. You can read it here.

…One very early—but remarkably vivid—memory I have is of a Zeppelin raid on London during World War I. can still see the probing searchlights, like the questing antennae of giant insects and, sailing serenely overhead, high in the night sky, that slim, silvery cigar. I can’t remember any bombs; I suppose that none fell anywhere near where I was. It is worth remarking that in those distant days, with aerial warfare in its infancy, civilians had not yet learned to run for cover on the approach of raiders but stood in the streets, with their children, to watch the show….

(9) READ COMPLETE MOORE REMARKS ON KEVIN O’NEILL. [Item by Danny Sichel.] At the request of the New York Times, Alan Moore wrote an obit for Kevin O’Neill which was too long to publish. Jeet Heer posted it to Twitter.(O’Neill did the art for Moore’s The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen.)

(10) WOOSTER EULOGY. Philanthropy Daily, where he was a contributor, paid tribute to him in “Martin Morse Wooster, RIP”.

…In addition to writing for Philanthropy Daily, Martin was a senior fellow at the Capital Research Center, and contributed significantly to research on philanthropy and especially the issue of donor intent. Martin’s contributions to questions around philanthropy, charity, and donor intent can scarcely be overstated. How Great Philanthropists Failed remains the leading book on donor intent and the history of failed philanthropic legacies.

Martin’s work has appeared everywhere from the Wall Street Journal and the Washington Post to the Chronicle of PhilanthropyReason, and numerous other publications.

Martin will be sorely missed by all of us at Philanthropy Daily and countless others who have benefited from his important work.

(11) MEMORY LANE.

1985 [By Cat Eldridge.] Shadow Chasers 

Before we get started on talking about today’s essay, may I note that this was the day fifty-eight years ago that Santa Claus Conquers The Martians premiered was well? It was considered one of the worst genre films ever released, bar none.

Thirty-seven years ago this evening a series premiered on ABC, receiving almost no notice: Shadow Chasers. Let’s talk about the show before we turn to a brief autopsy on its numbers.

LOOK— I SEE BIGFOOT COMING WITH SPOILERS!

British anthropologist Jonathan MacKensie (Trevor Eve who played Peter Boyd in the excellent Waking the Dead forensic series) works for the fictional Georgetown Institute Paranormal Research Unit (PRU). MacKenzie’s department head, Dr. Julianna Moorhouse (Nina Foch), withholds a research grant to force him into investigating what she says is a haunting involving a teenage boy. He is paired with flamboyant tabloid reporter Edgar “Benny” Benedek.

Benny and Jonathan do not get along, but manage to solve the case without killing each other. The episodes continued in this vein, with Jonathan and Benny grudgingly learning to respect and admire each other, in the fashion of American cop shows.

LOOK IT WASN’T REALLY BIGFOOT, WAS IT? 

Now for the rating autopsy I promised.

So understand that it was on ABC as I said for just ten episodes of its sad existence with the last four shows being broadcast solely on the Armed Forces network. Just how bad was its existence? It was the lowest-rated of a one hundred and six programs during the 1985-1986 TV season.

Why so, you ask? Well that’s easy. It was broadcast against NBC’s The Cosby Show and Family Ties and CBS’s Magnum P.I. and, later on, Simon & Simon on CBS. It didn’t stand a chance. 

Indeed, local ABC affiliates within a few weeks in started preempting the series for other programming.

(12) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born November 14, 1907 Astrid Lindgren. Creator of the Pippi Longstocking series and, at least in the States, lesser known Emil i LönnebergaKarlsson-on-the-Roof, and the Six Bullerby Children series as well. In January 2017, she was calculated to be the world’s eighteenth most translated author, and the fourth most translated children’s writer after Enid Blyton, H. C. Andersen and the Brothers Grimm.  There have been at least forty video adaptations of her works over the decades mostly in Swedish but Ronja, the Robber’s Daughter was an animated series in Japan recently. (Died 2002.)
  • Born November 14, 1932 Alex Ebel. He did the poster for the first Friday the 13th film, and his cover illustration for The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. Le Guin published by Ace Books in 1975 is considered one of the best such illustrations done. I’m also very impressed with The Dispossessed cover he did as well as his Planet of Exile cover too. His work for magazines includes Heavy MetalSpace Science Fiction and Fantastic Story Magazine. (Died 2013.)
  • Born November 14, 1950 Elliot S. Maggin, 72. A writer for DC Comics during the Bronze and early Modern ages of comics where he helped shaped the Superman character. Most of his work was on Action Comics and Superman titles though he did extensive work elsewhere including, of course, on the Batman titles.
  • Born November 14, 1951 Beth Meacham, 71. In 1984, she became an editor for Tor Books, where she rose to the position of editor-in-chief. After her 1989 move to the west coast, she continued working for Tor as an executive editor which she just retired from.  She does have one novel, co-written with Tappan King, entitled Nightshade Book One: Terror, Inc. and a handful of short fiction.  A Reader’s Guide to Fantasy that she co-wrote wrote Michael Franklin and Baird Searles was nominated for a Hugo at L.A. Con II. She has been nominated for six Hugos as Best Professional Editor or Best Editor Long Form.
  • Born November 14, 1959 Paul McGann, 63. Yes, he only did one film as the eighth incarnation of the Doctor in the 1996 Doctor Who: The Television Movie, but he has reprised that role in numerous audio dramas, and the 2013 short film entitled The Night of the Doctor.  He also appeared in “The Five(ish) Doctors” reboot. Other genre appearances include The Pit and the Pendulum: A Study in TortureAlien 3, the excellent FairyTale: A True StoryQueen of the Damned and Lesbian Vampire Killers.
  • Born November 14, 1963 Cat Rambo, 59 . All around great person. Past President of SFWA.  She was editor of Fantasy Magazine for four years which earned her a 2012 nomination in the World Fantasy Special Award: Non-Professional category. Her novelette Carpe Glitter won a 2020 Nebula, and her short story “Five Ways to Fall in Love on Planet Porcelain” was a 2013 Nebula Award finalist.  Her impressive fantasy Tabat Quartet quartet begins withBeasts of Tabat, Hearts of Tabat, and Exiles of Tabat, and will soon be completed by Gods of Tabat. She also writes amazing short fiction as well.  The Rambo Academy for Wayward Writers is her long-standing school for writers that provides her excellent assistance in learning proper writing skills through live and on demand classes about a range of topics. You can get details here.  Her latest, You Sexy Thing, was a stellar listen indeed and I’m very much looking forward to the sequel.
  • Born November 14, 1969 Daniel Abraham, 53. Co-author with Ty Franck of The Expanse series which won a Hugo at CoNZealand. Under the pseudonym M. L. N. Hanover, he is the author of the Black Sun’s Daughter urban fantasy series.  Abraham collaborated with George R. R. Martin and Gardner Dozois to write the Hunter’s Run. Abraham also has adapted several of Martin’s works into comic books and graphic novels, such as A Game of Thrones: The Graphic Novel, and has contributed to Wild Cards anthologies. By himself, he picked up a Hugo nomination at Denvention 3 for his “The Cambist and Lord Iron: A Fairy Tale of Economics” novelette. 

(13) COMICS SECTION.

  • Speed Bump knows of one effect that’s not special at all!

(14) HAPPY NEW YEAR. Lois McMaster Bujold pointed out to her Goodreads followers that the next Penric book Knot of Shadows garnered a starred review in Publishers Weekly. The Subterranean Press hardcover is due to be released on January 1. [Update: Bujold’s author page shows the Kindle edition of Knot of Shadows came out last year in October, so this will be a new hardcover edition, but not a new release per se.]

Temple sorcerer Penric and demon Desdemona return in this page-turner fantasy mystery from Bujold, the 11th in the series (after The Assassins of Thasalon) and possibly the best yet. Penric and Desdemona, the chaos elemental who shares his body, are joined by Alixtra and her own demon, Arra, to help the healers of the Mother’s Order in Vilnoc with an unusual case: a corpse has revived and is now shouting gibberish. Penric discovers that the victim is not one but two dead people—a man slain by death magic and a ghost that has begun animating his body. Death magic is so rare that even Desdemona has never witnessed it performed. A supplicant offers their own life to ensure that the Bastard, Penric’s god, will kill their target. This ritual opens multiple quandaries: Who is the corpse? Were they the supplicant or the target? And where is the other party to the death prayer? Penric remarks that “this case is bound to get ugly and sad”—and indeed it does, in the most creative of ways. Bujold has her protagonists combine mundane and mystical investigative methods to unravel the questions at hand, creating a truly enticing mystery. Series fans and new readers alike will want to savor this intricate , unusual case.

(15) WORLD MUSIC. “Ludwig Göransson Discusses His Globe-Trotting ‘Wakanda Forever’ Score” in Variety.

… The challenge, Göransson says, was to find a new sound for the African kingdom of Wakanda and its grief-stricken people while also trying to imagine the sound of Prince Namor’s undersea kingdom of Talokan, whose origins lay in Mexico’s ancient Mayan civilization.

Göransson consulted musical archaeologists and spent two weeks in Mexico City collaborating with Mexican musicians. He auditioned “hundreds of ancient instruments,” from clay flutes to unusual percussion instruments, and saw paintings of Mayans playing on turtle shells, among dozens of similar musically inspirational moments. He discovered the “flute of truth,” a high-pitched whistle-like woodwind instrument, and vowed to incorporate the “death whistle,” which has a piecing sound like a human scream.

By day, Göransson recorded with Mexican musicians, and by night, he was recording with Mexican singers and rappers. “I was using the morning sessions to put together beats and songs that we would use later that day with the artists,” the composer reports….

(16) ON THE GRIPPING HAND. Leaflock™ The Ent™ from WETA Workshop is only fifteen hundred dollars… The image of this veteran of the attack on Isengard “Contains two (and a half) Orcs, squashed, pinned and/or crushed by the Ent’s wrath.”

(17) MAKE IT GO. And if you have any money left after buying the Ent, you can order the Volkswagen-built Star Trek captain’s chair that goes 12mph – assuming it truly exists, which the Verge says should not be taken for granted.

…Assuming all of this is real, of course. Volkswagen has a recent history of lying to people. This time, the company seems to be fairly transparent that it’s a one-off marketing stunt, while also suggesting that “it will be available for test drives at various locations.” Hopefully that means citizens of Norway will soon be able to prove its capabilities….

(18) COMING FROM DUST. The short film Jettison will be released online December 7 by DUST & Film Shortage.

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.

(19) BELA WINS. “The 20 best horror villains of all time”, according to Entertainment Weekly.

…But for every icon of the macabre, there are a much larger number of deranged dentists, serial-killing Santa Clauses, and sorority house murderers who don’t quite rank as highly in the frightening food chain. In fact, it’s been a while since a character came along and asserted his or herself as the next count of the Carpathians or chainsaw-wielding maniac. Whoever steps up next has some big shoes to fill, because these are the crème de la crème when it comes to history-making evildoers….

1. Dracula

Dracula is the most influential horror villain of all time. The Count stalks like a slasher, murders in droves like a serial killer, and is the inspiration for every single vampire movie made after 1931. Dracula’s vast powers, and his immortality, make him the most formidable of any killer on this list, and while Bela Lugosi is most often associated with the character, it was Sir Christopher Lee who made the Count the vile, sadistic creature of the night.

Lee gave the character a grandiose feel thanks to his imposing height, and there was a sexuality the villain exuded which made him irresistible to women. Unlike his colleague and friend, Peter Cushing, Lee loathed reprising the role because Hammer wasn’t faithful to Bram Stoker’s 1897 novel. “I wanted to play Stoker’s character,” Lee explained. “It wasn’t remotely like the book.”

You’ll also enjoy Horror of Dracula (1958).

(20) VIDEO OF THE DAY. Dream Foundry has released the video of “Fantasy? On MY Spaceship?! Blending Science and Sorcery” on their YouTube channel. Features panelists Valerie Valdes, Tobias Buckell, and Bogi Takács.

[Thanks to Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Chris Barkley, Danny Sichel, David Doering, Andrew (not Werdna), 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 Andrew (not Werdna).]

Barkley: DisCon III, the Fifth Day

To Be Fair, I Was Left Unsupervised: A Disjointed Chronicle of 79th World Science Fiction Convention, Discon III – Day Five

By Chris M. Barkley:

DAY FIVE: THE LAST DAY

Sunday, the very last day of Discon III, was a VERY busy day.

Juli and I had finished packing the night before.

I was also up early (again) because I had a 10am panel; “Inspired Or Copied, The Ethics of Art”, featuring artists agent Jane Frank, attorney at law Harold Feld, and authors Keith DeCandido, J.T. Greathouse and myself. As I looked in the program book, I did not see anyone listed as a moderator. Which made me wonder why I was on this panel to begin with. Oh well, I thought…  

But first, there were two other issues on my plate that morning. As I got dressed, Juli informed me that I maybe in hot water with our friend, author Jonathan Brazee. Apparently, I misstated his rank in the United States Marine Corps as “Lt. Colonel” instead of his actual rank upon retirement as full Colonel. 

If you think the distinction is rather minor, think again. Consider this; my brain fart is the equivalent of mistaking the rock band Nickelback for The Beatles. I have several friends and relatives who have served in the armed services and nothing upsets them more than civilians like myself getting aspects of their lives dead wrong. So, I got dressed, dreading the prospect of running into the Colonel.

The other thing that caught my attention was a Facebook post by Adam-Troy Castro. In it, Mr. Castro totally eviscerates Jon Del Arroz, a internet provocateur (troll) mostly known for his incredibly egotistical boasts of writing talent and notorious passive-aggressive attacks on progressive writers, women, the LGBTQ community and practically anyone else who casts doubts his on his “greatness”.

Needless to say, I picked up Mr. Castro’s post and spread it all over Facebook (including the DisCon III page) and on my Twitter page with the caption (gleefully borrowed from Game of Thrones): “He who SHOUTS that he is a King, is no king.”  

THAT, dear readers, felt very, VERY satisfying.

On my way to my panel, I decided to grab a quick bite of something in the DisCon III Green Room (located just off to the side of the hotel’s main restaurant) to tide me over until I could eat a fuller breakfast. And guess who was there, having coffee with a friend —

As I started to apologize profusely, he laughed and said that he actually got a kick out of being one of the “luminaries” spotted at the bottom of the first column of this series of DisCon III reports. Totally relieved that I would not be set upon by angry veterans or service members of the armed forces, I grabbed a cup of tea and made my way to my panel. (Subsequently, Col. Brazee contacted me via text and said that no further public apology was necessary but I must disagree. When a mistake of that magnitude is made by a reporter, a correction is not only called for, it’s mandatory as far as I’m concerned.)

As I passed through the lobby, I stopped by the Information Desk for the last newsletter and the traditional hoax parody as well. I also saw that there were several dozen silver colored, Flash Gordon shaped foam rockets on the next table over. Curious, I went over and examined one and saw the red and black label, which is how I found out that the defense contractor Raytheon was an official sponsor of DisCon III. (WHAT? I should have been paying more attention during the con! In my defense, I was unsupervised…)

Thinking that these would make a nice trinket for my four grandchildren, I grabbed several of them. As I passed by Ellen Datlow, who was seated in the East Promenade eating from the grab and go buffet, I gifted her with one as well. She was very appreciative since this rocket was MUCH lighter than the Short Form Editing Hugo Award she had won yesterday evening.

[Chris Barkley’s report continues after the jump.]

Continue reading

Pixel Scroll 12/21/21 Pixeland Is The Scrolliest Place On Earth

(1) LET US REMEMBER THE TWENTY-FIRST OF DECEMBER. It’s already dark out! Oh, wait – today’s the Winter Solstice! No wonder. Let NASA Ames Research Center tell you all about it.

(2) RAYTHEON. Social media criticism for DisCon III’s acceptance of Raytheon sponsorship money splashed onto some of the Hugo ceremony participants. The committee issued this statement:

Cora Buhlert commented:

(3) WORLDCON ACCESSIBILITY ISSUES. Mari Ness, who navigates convention space in a wheelchair, summarizes her experiences with DisCon III, which she ultimately decided against attending: “Are we really doing this again? Discon III, accessibility, and genre cons” at Blogging with Dragons.

Discon III turned out to be my worst Worldcon ever – one of my worst genre events, ever.

And I didn’t even go….

(4) THE GAME’S AFOOT. Congratulations to James Nicoll Reviews on posting their 2000th review today: “Just Lots of Little Frames”, about Greg Stafford, Jeff Richard, and Jason Durall’s 2021 The Runequest Starter Set, which is a starter set for Runequest: Roleplaying in Glorantha . As always, the footnotes are great!

(5) FIFTY THOUSAND BEBOP FANS CAN’T BE WRONG. Yahoo!‘s Jeff Yeung has an updated report about the ongoing Cowboy Bebop petition:

Netflix’s recent cancellation of the live-action Cowboy Bebop has left many fans disappointed, and now more than 50,000 of them have signed a petition to bring the show back for a second season.”

“I truly loved working on this,” the show’s co-executive producer Javier Grillo-Marxuach said on Twitter after Netflix’s decision. “It came from a real and pure place of respect and affection. I wish we could make what we planned for a second season, but you know what they say, men plan, God laughs.” He added that the team “had so much cool sh*t planned” for Cowboy Bebop’s second season.”

(6) SUITE MEMORIES. Covert J. Beach gives a full rundown on the party suite he used for his “loosely invitational” parties at DisCon III (which also ended up being the location for the Chengdu Victory Party when “it turned out that the suite that had been earmarked for Chengdu had been given away.”)  

….At over 1800 sqft the Suite was bigger than my Condo, complete with full kitchen (I even baked something) and a full washer-dryer. To do it justice I brought three bags of booze rather than just two, discovering in the process that the Briggs and Riley Baseline Carryon is a fantastic piece of luggage to carry booze. It is the perfect width for most long whisky tins. It took two full trips of the car to move the party kit to the hotel, and two back (the 2nd return load which totally packed the car is picured), with a third supplementary trip each way. I caused a lot of bemusement with the valets.

The Convention had a bartender on tap over zoom so people could get advice on what drinks to make. I hear a number of calls were made from the room in the suite called “The Library” where the bartender was amazed at the variety the Capclave/Balticon Scotch Cabal put together (I don’t bring it all.) Much was drunk….

(7) TOP SHELF. Polygon offers its picks of “The best fantasy and sci-fi books of 2021”. In alphabetical order by author’s last name, so no definitive number one ranking.

…If you love books then you know: They aren’t just escapism, they also inspire introspection, making us think harder about the world we live in. This is precisely the promise of great science fiction and fantasy — categories we’ve chosen to consider in a list together, as fantastic books continue to blur the line between the two speculative genres (and besides, we love to read them all). These 20 books span genres and perspectives — from space operas, to Norse mythology retellings, to romances with a dash of time travel. But all of them gave us something new to consider.

In a year with so many incredible choices, it was hard to narrow down the list. So we’ve also included some of our favorite runners up….

(8) WOMEN OF MARVEL. In March, Women Of Marvel #1 will continue highlighting Marvel’s female heroes in an all-new collection of tales. 

  • A Squirrel Girl and Black Widow team-up against a maniacal villain in a story that explores the complexities of super hero identities by Hugo award winning writer Charlie Jane Anders
  • An action-packed Shanna the She-Devil and Silver Sable short sees the jungle ladies battle against wild animal poachers by award winning video game script writer Rhianna Pratchett
  • A dark Jessica Jones tale of compulsion and redemption from celebrated creator Jordie Bellaire and drawn by rising star Zoe Thorogood
  • A fun-filled page-flipper of Black Cat’s greatest failures and latest triumphes by novelist Preeti Chhibber and superstar artists Jen Bartel, Marguerite Sauvage and more!
  • The Marvel Comics writing debut of artist Mirka Andolfo and much more!

(9) MILAN MEMBER OF JURY IN HIGHLY-PUBLICIZED CASE. [Item by rcade.] The romance novelist Courtney Milan revealed on Twitter that she was a juror in the trial that led to truck driver Rogel Aguilera-Mederos being sentenced to 110 years in prison for the 29-vehicle crash in Colorado that killed four people in 2019. The brakes on his truck failed while he was descending mountains on Interstate 70, leading to the accident after he didn’t veer off into a runaway truck lane.

Milan wrote this on December 14 in tweets she subsequently deleted (Archive.today copy below):

I’m going to write something longer about this, but I just have to say this right now: 110 years is unjust. I feel sick with how unjust this is.

I don’t feel like I can say much right now because my brain keeps stuttering out on this, but my brain will come back online at some point.

I was on the jury in this case and if I had known this was the mandatory minimum for a kid who made some really bad decisions at exactly the wrong time, I would absolutely have engaged in jury nullification.

The severity of the sentence, which must be served consecutively, has brought international attention to the case. A Change.org petition asking Colorado Gov. Jared Polis to grant clemency or a commutation to Aguilera-Mederos has received over 4.5 million signatures.

Before becoming a full-time romance writer, Milan was a law professor at Seattle University School of Law and clerk to Supreme Court justices Sandra Day O’Connor and Anthony Kennedy, according to the Washington Post.

A male juror in the case told Fox 31 the sentence was “100-fold of what it should have been” and had this reaction when it was handed down: “I cried my eyes out.”

(10) STEP RIGHT UP. Signal boosting Connie Willis’ appeal for Locus subscriptions and donations. If she were here she’d say click to support Locus today.

(11) ORENSTEIN OBIT. Inventor Henry Orenstein, responsible for many popular toys including Transformers, died December 14. The New York Times paid tribute: “Henry Orenstein, 98, Dies; Force Behind Transformers and Poker on TV”.

…He refashioned himself as a toy inventor (he held dozens of patents) and broker. During the Toy Fair in Manhattan in the early 1980s, he saw a Japanese-made toy — a tiny car that could easily change into an airplane — and recognized more elaborate possibilities.

“He started playing with it and said, ‘This is the best thing I’ve seen in at least 10 years,’” recalled Mrs. Orenstein, who, as Carolyn Sue Vankovich, met her future husband in 1967 when she was demonstrating Suzy Homemaker at the Toy Fair. “He had the sparkle he got when he got excited.”

Mr. Orenstein put together a deal between Hasbro and the Japanese manufacturer, Takara, which led to Hasbro’s introduction in 1984 of Transformers, toy robots that could turn into vehicles or beasts. They would become hugely popular, spawning an animated television series and a movie franchise.

“Ideas don’t come in little pieces,” Mr. Orenstein told Newsweek in 2016. “It’s in, it’s out. It’s there or it’s not,” he said. “I was just an inventor. You needed a big company to do what I thought should be done: making real transformations from complex things to other complex things.”…

(12) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

1965 [Item by Cat Eldridge.] ?Fifty-six years ago one of the best Bond films premiered in the form of Thunderball. Directed by Terence Young, it was the fourth Bond film off a  screenplay by Richard Maibaum and John Hopkins off yet another Fleming novel. The original screenplay was by Jack Whittingham but it wasn’t used. 

Need I say that Sean Connery plays Bond here? Well this will be only the first time that Connery plays Bond based off this novel as he’ll play him in Never Say Never Again which was executive produced by Kevin McClory, one of the original writers of the Thunderball story. McClory had the filming rights of the novel following a very long legal battle dating from the Sixties.

Reception from critics was decidedly mixed but Dilys Powell of The Sunday Times said that “The cinema was a duller place before 007.”  The box office was fantastic as it earned out one hundred and forty million against a budget of under ten million. Audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes currently give it a rather excellent seventy-three percent rating. 

(13) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born December 21, 1898 Hubert Rogers. Illustrator during the Golden Age of pulp magazines. His first freelance work was for Ace-HighAdventureRomance, and West. In ‘42, he started doing covers for Astounding Science Fiction which he would do until ‘53. He did the cover art for the ‘51 edition of The Green Hills of Earth, the ‘50 edition of The Man Who Sold the Moon and the ‘53 edition of Revolt in 2100. (Died 1982.)
  • Born December 21, 1928 Frank Hampson. A British illustrator that is best known as the creator and artist of Dan Dare, Pilot of The Future and other characters in the boys’ comic, The Eagle, to which he contributed from 1950 to 1961. There is some dispute over how much his original scripts were altered by his assistants before being printed. (Died 1985.)
  • Born December 21, 1929 James Cawthorn. An illustrator, comics artist and writer who worked predominantly with Michael Moorcock. He had met him through their involvement in fandom. They would co-wrote The Land that Time Forgot film, and he drew “The Sonic Assassins” strip which was based on Hawkwind that ran in Frendz. He also did interior and cover art for a number of publications from the Fifties onwards including (but not limited to) Vector 3New Worlds SFScience Fantasy and Yandro. (Died 2008.)
  • Born December 21, 1937 Jane Fonda, 84. I’m sure everyone here has seen her in Barbarella. Her only other genre appearances are apparently voice work as Shuriki in the animated Elena of Avalor series, and in the Spirits of the Dead, 1968 anthology film based on the work of Poe. She was the Contessa Frederique de Metzengerstein in the “Metzengerstein” segment of the film.  
  • Born December 21, 1948 Samuel L. Jackson, 73. Where to start? Did you know that with his permission, his likeness was used for the Ultimates version of the Nick Fury? It’s a great series btw. He has also played Fury in the Iron ManIron Man 2, Thor, Captain America: The First AvengerThe AvengersCaptain America: The Winter SoldierAvengers: Age of Ultron and Avengers: Infinity War and showed up on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. too! He voiced Lucius Best (a.k.a. Frozone) in the Incredibles franchise, Mace Windu in The Phantom Menace and The Clone Wars, the Afro Samurai character in the anime series of the same name and more other genre work than can be listed here comfortably so go ahead and add your favorite role by him.
  • Born December 21, 1943 Jack Nance. Let’s just say he and David Lynch were rather connected. He’s in Henry Spencer in Eraserhead, he had a small role as the Harkonnen Captain Iakin Nefud in Dune and he’s Pete Martell in Twin Peaks. He’s also a supporting role as Paul, a friend of Dennis Hopper’s villain character in Blue Velvet but even I couldn’t stretch that film to be even genre adjacent. (Died 1996.)
  • Born December 21, 1944 James Sallis, 77. Ok he’d be getting a Birthday today if only for his SJW cred of giving up teaching at a college rather than sign a state-mandated loyalty oath that he regarded as unconstitutional. But he also does have a short SFF novel Renderings more short fiction that I can count, a book review column in F&SF and he co-edited several issues of New Worlds Magazine with Michael Moorcock.  Worthy of a Birthday write-up! 
  • Born December 21, 1966 Kiefer Sutherland, 55. My he’s been in a lot of genre undertakings! I think that The Lost Boys was his first such of many to come including FlatlinersTwin Peaks: Fire Walk with MeThe Three Musketeers, voice work in Armitage: Poly-MatrixDark City, more voice work in The Land Before Time X: The Great Longneck Migration, Marmaduke and Dragonlance: Dragons of Autumn TwilightMirrors, and yes, he’s in the second Flatliners as a new character. 

(14) COMICS SECTION.

  • Tom Gauld’s alternate history drives the world of a well-known Christmas carol.

(15) SWEDEN ACQUIRES A STEED. “Dark Horse Comics to Be Acquired by Gaming Giant Embracer Group”The Hollywood Reporter has the story.

Dark Horse Comics properties such as Hellboy and The Umbrella Academy are finding a new home. The indie comics publisher has agreed to be sold to Embracer Group, the Swedish video game conglomerate. The deal is expected to close in early 2022….

(16) THE RAIN IN NEW SPAIN STAYS THE LAUNCH AGAIN. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] Astronomers have once again been told they must wait a bit to open their Big Present—launch of the James Webb space telescope. The latest, and hopefully the last, delay has pushed the launch until Christmas day. This one-day delay is due to expected advert weather conditions. “Delay pushes NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope launch to Christmas morning” at CNN.

The highly anticipated launch of the James Webb Space Telescope has been delayed yet again — this time because of interference by Mother Nature.

Now, the telescope is expected to launch on December 25 from Europe’s Spaceport in French Guiana.

The launch window opens Christmas morning at 7:20 a.m. ET and closes at 7:52 a.m. ET. Live coverage of the launch will stream on NASA’s TV channel and website beginning Saturday at 6 a.m.

The news of adverse weather conditions came shortly after NASA shared that the Launch Readiness Review for the telescope was completed on Tuesday….

(17) ABOUT THE WESTERN SPELLING OF A CHENGDU GOH’S NAME. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] Given the fuss some make over pronunciation, I am a little reluctant to wade in here (though I have lost count of the number of times my own name has been mispronounced, misspelled and even an alternate used (well, this last is a bit debatable but suffice to say my first name is not the one I am commonly known as – and no it wasn’t my choice).)  There are simply far more important things to get exercised about: human rights, political rights (*cough* Hong Kong) and climate change to name but a few.  Anyway…

How do you spell Sergei Lukyanenko / Lukianenko?  Well, conversions to the Latin alphabet are always problematic. I do not know about the US, but here in Brit Cit William Heinemann published Sergei Lukyanenko’s Night Watch series.  If that is his commonly-used publishing name in the West then arguably it would be best to use that so that folk can internet search out his work.

(18) LIFE IMITATES ART. You know the humorous motorcade bits that interrupted the Hugo Awards ceremony? Well, Andrew Porter did not have to leave Washington without seeing the real thing. Here’s his photo of a motorcade taken from his Shoreham Hotel window. 

Photo by and (c) Andrew Porter

(19) IN BEAUTIFUL BURBANK. “The Mystic Museum In Southern California Is Full Of Fascinating Oddities And Vintage Items”Only In Your State’s article includes a photo gallery.

The Mystic Museum is a small museum dedicated to the occult, paranormal, mysticism, and horror. If you find yourself fascinated by the macabre, then consider it the place for you!

(20) HOLIDAY WHO. [Item by Ben Bird Person.] Artist/illustrator Colin Howard did this piece on the 2003 animated Doctor Who serial “Scream of the Shalka”:

(21) THE OTHER GRAND CANYON. Microsoft News for Kids reports: “Orbiter discovers ‘significant amounts of water’ in Grand Canyon-like area of Mars”.

A researcher orbiter circling around Mars has discovered “significant amounts of water” underneath the surface of an area on the red planet similar to the Grand Canyon, according to the European Space Agency.

The orbiter, the ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter, was launched by the European Space Agency along with the Russian Space Agency in 2016 and has been orbiting Mars ever since, with the goal of learning more about the gases and the possibility of life on the planet.

Recently, the orbiter was scanning an area of Mars called Valles Marineris, using the Fine Resolution Epithermal Neutron Detector instrument, or FREND, which can detect hydrogen on and up to 3 feet underneath Mars’ soil.

The Valles Marineris is a 2,500-mile-long canyon on Mars with parts that are 4 miles deep. Not only is it 10 times longer and 4 times deeper than the Grand Canyon, but the Valles Marineris’ length is nearly as long as the entire United States.

Data collected from the instrument from May 2018 to Feb. 2021 showed the middle part of the canyon contained a large amount of water, indicating some form of life could possibly be sustained. The findings were published in the solar system journal Icarus on Wednesday…. 

(22) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In “Spider Man: No Way Home Pitch Meeting” on Screen Rant, Ryan George, in a spoiler-filled episode, has the producer watch the five Spider-Man movies before Tom Holland shows up so he can understand the many special guest stars in this one.  “How are we going to market this film without revealing all the crazy stuff?” the producer asks.  “Leaks!” the writer says.

[Thanks to Andrew Porter, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, Ben Bird Person, rcade, Bonnie McDaniel, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, 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 Soon Lee.]

Pixel Scroll 12/4/21 This Pixel Made The John Kessel Pun In Under Twelve Pure Products

(1) NOT LOOKING GOOD.  “Friends who attended anime convention with man who contracted omicron have tested positive for coronavirus, health official says” reports the Washington Post.

The Minnesota man who contracted the omicron variant of the coronavirus met up with about 35 friends at a New York City anime convention and about half have tested positive for the coronavirus, a state health official said Friday.

Members of the group traveled to New York from a variety of states for the weekend convention that began Nov. 19 and tested positive after their return, said Kris Ehresmann, director of the Infectious Disease Epidemiology, Prevention, and Control Division at the Minnesota Department of Health. It is not known whether they are infected with omicron or another variant.“We don’t know if we’ll see a lot of omicron, or we’ll see a lot of delta,” Ehresmann said in an interview. “But we’re likely to see a lot of covid” out of the convention, which drew 53,000 people and tightly packed crowds from Nov. 19 to 21. The development is not sufficient, by itself, to determine where people were infected, who gave the virus to whom, or to develop a timeline of its spread, Ehresmann said. The man infected with omicron also spent time elsewhere in New York City. New York, Minnesota and other states, as well as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, are investigating the case and have begun tracing the Minnesota man’s contacts….

(2) ANDREW PORTER HEALTH UPDATE. [Item by Andrew Porter.] When I had my annual check-up at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in November—as you might remember, I was successfully operated on for Pancreatic Cancer in 2007—blood tests found an elevated cancer marker. As a result, I had a CT scan there on November 26th—the day after Thanksgiving. 

After having a very dark Thanksgiving, and the days leading up to the results, the news is that I remain cancer-free. The scan found some minor problems, but No Cancer!!!

I’ll expect my usual pixel payment for this.

(3) FAREWELL TOUR. In the Guardian: “Jodie Whittaker on saying goodbye to Doctor Who: ‘I thought, what if I’ve ruined this for actresses?’”

That must have felt like a lot of pressure at times.

The most heightened point of pressure for me was at Madison Square Garden in September 2018, at New York Comic Con. The very first episode was being shown live in front of a massive audience, and I went and sat next to my husband, and I’d absolutely gone. I just thought: “There’s this crowd of Whovians that are really excited and full of love and support.” And I was like: “What if I have pitched this so badly wrong? What if I’ve ruined it for actresses?” Because I know full well that when lads were cast in the part, they weren’t representing men, they were representing their own personal casting. The way it was described in every outlet was not: “Can Jodie Whittaker play the part?”, it was: “It’s a woman!” I suddenly thought: “Have I hindered us? Have I held us back?” Because we’d filmed the first series, and I’d loved it. I really felt confident all the way through. Then there is that moment where you go, oh God …

I don’t think the backlash to the Doctor being a woman was necessarily there in the way that some people anticipated, though.

“No bras in the Tardis” and stuff like that? There’s noise like that about everything, and that’s not the kind of thing that affects me, day to day. As soon as the first episode goes out, it’s either your cup of tea or it’s not. You realise, you’re not representing anyone other than yourself. Then you get the amazing Jo Martin [another incarnation of the Doctor], so then it’s really old news about me. And hopefully, with the next 15 generations of Doctors, we never have to have this chat again. I’m delighted it was mine, but it never has to happen again, thank God.

(4) MIDDLE-EARTH ALL OVER THE WORLD. The British Science Fiction Association’s Vector has posted a written roundtable about the global appeal of Tolkien’s work, based on a Zoom panel involving the same participants, in “Global Tolkien – A Roundtable”.

Following the interest generated by the Tolkien and Diversity Panel at Oxonmoot 2020, (hosted by Sultana Raza), another Panel on Global Tolkien was proposed and accepted by the Tolkien Society for Oxonmoot 2021. The idea for this Panel was formed because of a rising trend in SFF and Tolkien enthusiasts, against diversity in fandoms and interpretations of SFF writers. Luckily, the Tolkien Society doesn’t seem to ascribe to this view, and has been encouraging further dialogue on this topic.

The Panelists included Sultana Raza (also the Moderator), Ali Ghaderi (Iran), María Fernanda Chávez Guiñez (Chile), and Gözde Ersoy (Turkey). Gözde Ersoy (assistant-professor of English Literature at Mu?la S?tk? Koçman University, Turkey) also briefly presented a video of an online event she had organized with school children in Turkey, on the Tolkien Reading Day, where they’d read an excerpt from The Hobbit in Turkish.

Sultana Raza: The huge international success of Tolkien’s novels and adaptations especially The Lord of the Rings (LOTR) prove that the same common human values are prevalent in most cultures globally. Most people can identify with at least one major character from these books, (who also have archetypal qualities), and are eager to follow their journey, experiencing some form of catharsis at the end. In general, the appeal of SFF stories lies in the core of the human story at the centre of the drama, whether it’s unfolding on Arrakis, in Westeros, in Narnia, in Middle-Earth, or in the Undying Lands. 

(5) THE BAEN OF HIS EXISTENCE. Bruce Bethke’s “Files found while looking for something else” at Stupefying Stories Magazine tells why you probably haven’t read his novel Cyberpunk – and never could have.

Well, golly. While looking for the original source for the shareware beta version of Cyberpunk—which I still haven’t found—I found the files for the 2011 version, which was being developed under the working title of Cyberpunk 1989 for a book deal that fell through. I have some affection for the proposed cover art:

Ten years ago it probably would have been considered very edgy, although it looks kind of silly and amateurish now.

Of more interest to me is that the folder contains the prelude and postlude that I wrote specifically to go with that version of the novel, and it contains some things I’d forgotten I’d written. Without further ado, then…

…Twenty-some years later [n.b., 30 now], I still don’t know quite what to think of this one. As a 21st Century bildungsroman, it works fairly well, and there are many things in this book with which I am still quite pleased.

All the same, it’s not the novel that I set out to write, nor is it by any stretch of the imagination a “cyberpunk” novel, in the sense that the term came to be redefined by the flood of Imitation Neuromancer novels that hit the market in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

In the final analysis, it simply is what it is. In my less charitable moments I sometimes call this my Baen-damaged novel, but in my more honest moments I must admit that it’s largely my own fault. I wanted to do whatever it took to get an original novel into print, and willingly went along with every change Jim Baen asked me to make, right up until the moment he told me to end the book with Mikey going on a shooting rampage inside his high school. Even ten years before “Columbine” became a synonym for insane atrocity, I found the idea of writing that ending—and of turning my hero into a mass-murderer—to be abhorrent.

But it was my refusal to bend over and grab my ankles one more time, and to excrete the ending Jim Baen specifically told me to write, that killed this book….

(6) MILES MORALES IS BACK. Sony Pictures has released a first look at Spider-Man: Across The Spider-Verse (Part One).

Miles Morales returns for the next chapter of the Oscar®-winning Spider-Verse saga, an epic adventure that will transport Brooklyn’s full-time, friendly neighborhood Spider-Man across the Multiverse to join forces with Gwen Stacy and a new team of Spider-People to face off with a villain more powerful than anything they have ever encountered.

(7) DIANA G. GALLAGHER (1946-2021). Author, filker and fan artist Diana G. Gallagher died December 3. She wrote numerous media tie-in novels for such series as Buffy the Vampire SlayerSabrina the Teenage Witch and Charmed. As a filksong creator she had a number of tapes performing her songs commercially produced in the Eighties, and won a Pegasus Award for Best Original Humorous Song (1986) and Best Children’s Song (1994). She won the Best Fan Artist Hugo in 1989 (as Diana Gallagher Wu). She was married four times, the third time to the writer William F. Wu, ending in 1990, and the fourth time to writer and filker Marty Burke, who died in 2011.

(8) JAMES R. TERRY. A fan who helped start Los Angeles’ Doctor Who-themed convention Gallifrey One, James R. “Jim” Terry Jr., died unexpectedly from complications following heart surgery on December 1.  He was a familiar figure at Southern California cons, often in Starfleet attire. The Gallifrey One Facebook page paid tribute:

…Jim wholeheartedly embraced his geekdom… though he loved Doctor Who, Star Trek was the one thing truly embedded in his blood. Yet that was just one facet of Jim; he was also a kind soul, a loyal friend, never a harsh word for the people he cared about… a list of fellow friends and fans that went on and on. From days of being a regular at LASFS or Time Meddlers of Los Angeles meetings, to fan socials and viewing parties and cons and dinners, so many of us were privileged to know him. His last visit to Gallifrey One was in 2019, joining us to celebrate our 30th anniversary, and he had planned to return this coming February….

(9) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

1985 [Item by Cat Eldridge.] Thirty-six years ago on this date in the United Kingdom, Back to The Future premiered.  It was directed by Robert Zemeckis and produced by Neil Canton and Bob Gale. It was written by Robert Zemeckis and Bob Gale. It starred Michael J. Fox, Christopher Lloyd, Lea Thompson and Crispin Glover.  It would win a Hugo at ConFederation where Bob Shaw was the Toastmaster. The reception for it among critics and audience alike was overwhelmingly positive. Roger Ebert said that it had “a fine comic touch”. It made nearly three hundred and ninety million on a budget of only nineteen million. Audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes give it currently an impressive ninety four percent rating. It would spawn two sequels, of which Back to The Future III would nominated for a Hugo at Chicon V. 

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born December 4, 1939 Jimmy Hunt, 82. He plays Dave MacLean in Invaders from Mars. Some three decades later, he’ll appear in the remake as the Police Chief. He’s an uncredited appearance early in his career in My Brother Talks to Horses which is definitely genre. And he’s in Close Encounters of the 4th Kind: Infestation from Mars though I know nothing of this film. Have any of you seen it? 
  • Born December 4, 1949 Richard Lynch, 72. Writer, Editor, Historian, and Fan who with his wife Nicki produced the long-running fanzine Mimosa from 1982 to 2003, which was nominated fourteen times for the Hugo Award for Best Fanzine, winning six of those years. He has been a member of several fan groups and APAs, chaired a Chattacon, and edited the BucConeer Worldcon Souvenir Program Book. He and Nicki have been Fan Guests of Honor at several conventions, and were honored with the Phoenix Award by Southern Fandom.
  • Born December 4, 1949 Jeff Bridges, 72. I’d say his best genre role was as Starman / Scott Hayden in the film of that name. Other genre work includes King Kong, the voice of Prince Lir in Peter Beagle’s The Last Unicorn, Jack Lucas in The Fisher King, Iron Monger in Iron Man and Kevin Flynn/CLU 2 in Tron: Legacy. He appeared also in a film called R.I.P.D. as Roycephus “Roy” Pulsipher which was either really bad or really, really bad. 
  • Born December 4, 1954 Sally Kobee, 67. Fan, Bookseller, Filker. She has served on the committees for myriad conventions, and chaired both Ohio Valley Filk Fest 4 and OVFF 10, and WFC 2010 and 2016. She was honored as a Fellow of NESFA and as a Guest of Honor at Windycon XXVII. She and her now late husband purchased a bookstore in the nineties. She continues to the day to provide convention bookstores.
  • Born December 4, 1957 Lucy Sussex, 64. Fan, reviewer, author, and editor. Born in New Zealand, resident in Australia, she’s been writing SFF ever since attending a Terry Carr-led workshop. And she’s an editor as well having edited several anthologies such as She’s Fantastical, the first collection of Australian women’s speculative fiction. Sussex has won three Ditmar Awards, an A. Bertram Chandler Award and an Aurealis Award to name some of her awards — impressive indeed!   
  • Born December 4, 1974 Anne KG [Murphy] Gray, 47. Engineer, Physicist, Writer, Editor, Conrunner, and Fan. Known in fandom as Netmouse, she was a member of the Ann Arbor Science Fiction Association, and has served on numerous convention committees and chaired three ConFusions. As a member of Midfan, which ran four Midwest Construction regional conrunner training conventions in the 2000s, she was editor of their publication MidFanzine. She is a past president of the Science Fiction Oral History Association. She is married to Brian Gray, with whom she won the Trans-Atlantic Fan Fund in 2010; they went to Eastercon and Corflu in the UK and produced a TAFF trip report, a piece on the Sherlock Holmes museum, and a photo album.
  • Born December 4, 1988 Natasha Pulley, 33. She’s best known for her debut Victorian steampunk novel, The Watchmaker of Filigree Street winner of the Betty Trask Award given for first novels written by authors under the age of 35 who reside in a current or former Commonwealth nation. She has three other novels. The second was The Bedlam Stacks. Her third, The Lost Future of Pepperharrow, is the sequel to her first novel. Her latest, The Kingdoms, was just published.

(11) COMICS SECTION.

  • Tom Gauld’s new cartoon for the Guardian:

(12) THE SWEAT SPOT. Now You See It explains why the characters in Dune aren’t sweating.

I loved Dune, but one thing about it irked me. On a planet where sweat is so crucial to survival, why do we see so little of it? Let’s take a look at how Dune’s implementation of sweat alters the emotional feeling of the story, the planet, and the characters.

(13) BUSTED. At Kalimac’s Corner, David Bratman once again disputes that Peter Jackson’s departures from Tolkien’s text were imposed by the requirements of moviemaking rather than just unilateral choices: “Contra Jackson”.

…One of my basic points about the Peter Jackson Lord of the Rings movies, dating back to my original article on the subject in 2004, is to dispute the defense of the changes to the story on the grounds that (and here I’m paraphrasing the tone of voice used by those who make this argument) “They haaad to do it that way because it’s a mooooooovie.

In other words, that there are inviolable Laws of Movie-Making that have to be followed by anyone who wishes their blockbuster not to tank at the box office.

…In fact, I am certain that, when Jackson changed Tolkien’s story, it was because he wanted to, not because some mythical Laws of Movie-Making forced him to. And this is because Jackson boldly violated the conventions of movie-making when he wanted to. And he endured criticism for it: the prime example is the supposed “five endings” of The Return of the King when it keeps seeming as if the movie is about to wrap up with a celebration scene and then it keeps going. Here, Jackson is trying to follow Tolkien, but he’s not doing it very well, because Tolkien’s versions of these scenes don’t read like a series of postponed endings (and not because you can see the physical end of the book coming up, because in fact 160 pages, in the paperback, of appendix and index intervene between the end of the story and the end of the book).

One major movie rule-breaking Jackson indulged in was to make a trilogy of movies that were three parts of one story (again copying the books, albeit ignorantly). Series of interconnected movies, as opposed to stand-alone sequels, were (unusual? unknown?) then. They’re common now, of course, but that’s because the rules consist of “whatever worked for the last successful blockbuster” and The Lord of the Rings was certainly a successful blockbuster….

(14) ORDER IN THE GONCOURT. Sarah Lyall’s review of The Anomaly for the New York Times is certainly interesting, so maybe the book is too: “‘The Anomaly,’ Part Airplane Thriller and Part Exploration of Reality, Fate and Free Will”.

…“The Anomaly,” a runaway best seller in France, where it won the Prix Goncourt last year, lies in that exciting Venn diagram where high entertainment meets serious literature. Its plot might have been borrowed from “The Twilight Zone” or “Black Mirror,” but it movingly explores urgent questions about reality, fate and free will. If our lives might not be our own and we end up dying either way, how should we live?

… It’s a measure of Le Tellier’s masterful storytelling that he makes us wait all the way to Page 151 to find out what bizarre thing has befallen the plane in question, Air France Flight 006 from Paris to New York. But before that, we meet some of its passengers and learn about their lives on the ground.

…What do they have in common, besides being on this fateful flight? Who are the shadowy government figures quietly rounding them up? And why does the bulletproof, government-issued cellphone of a nerdy Princeton statistician whose T-shirt says “I love zero, one and Fibonacci” suddenly ring, after 20 years of silence, starting an emergency response plan known as Protocol 42?

 (15) NEW EXOPLANET JUST AN IRON CORE. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] A large but Mercury-like planet has been detected orbiting very close to a small red dwarf. The research has been reported in this week’s Science journal. (Alas it is behind a pay-wall but the abstract is here.)

It is an odd planet of about 0.7 Earth-radii with a very high density suggesting it is largely metallic iron and it orbits close to its star in just 7.7-hours.It is so close to its star that the daytime side will be a furnace heated to 1,400°C, such that even rock would be molten.

The type of planet was able to be determined because its orbit took it between its sun and us and so (from the star’s dimming) its size could be calculated. From its orbit’s period, and its distance from its star, the planet’s mass could be calculated. Linking this into its size enabled its density to be deduced. The planet has a very high density and it thought to largely made of iron and so the best part of it is a planetary core with hardly any mantle. As such, it is much like our own system’s planet Mercury. However, Mercury orbits the Sun every 88 days and despite our Sun being hotter than a red dwarf the daytime bare rock on Mercury is heated only to 430°C. (See Lam, K. W. F. et al (2021) GJ 367b: A dense, ultrashort-period sub-Earth planet transiting a nearby red dwarf star. Science, vol. 374, p1271-1275.)

(16) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] Star Wars fans wonder how they can get their fix of Star Wars music during Christmas.  Well, why not combine Star Wars AND carols?

[Thanks to JJ, John King Tarpinian, Andrew Porter, Sultana Raza, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Chris Barkley, 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 Andrew (not Werdna).]

Pixel Scroll 11/28/21 I Have Squandered All My Pixels

(1) CASTAWAY. BBC Radio 4’s Desert Island Discs hosted “Neil Gaiman, writer” who shared the eight tracks, book and luxury item he would take with him if cast away to a desert island. Listen to the program at the link.

Or, let BBC Radio 4 blab it to you in a post: “Nine things we learned from Neil Gaiman’s Desert Island Discs”.

Neil Gaiman is a multi-award winning author whose work includes the novels Stardust, American Gods and The Graveyard Book and the comic book series The Sandman. His first novel, Good Omens, written with Terry Pratchett, was published in 1990, and Neil recently adapted it as a TV series starring David Tennant and Michael Sheen. He specialises in creating fantastic alternative realities which exist under the nose of the world as we know it. He recently told his 2.8 million Twitter followers that he wore his ‘lucky Batman underpants’ for his Desert Island Discs recording – and here are nine things we learned from the programme…

5. A furious child inspired his first book for younger readers

Neil published The Day I Swapped My Dad for Two Goldfish in 1997.

“The idea, like most of my children’s books, was stolen from one of my children,” explains Neil. “In this case from my son, Mike, and he would have been four, maybe five years old. I’d said something to him that he didn’t like, like possibly suggesting to him that it was actually his bedtime.”

“And he looked up at me with a fury that only a small boy can generate, a special kind of fury and he just said, ‘I wish I didn’t have a dad’. He said, ‘I wish I had….’ And then he paused because he hadn’t thought that through and, and then he said, ‘I wish I had goldfish!’ And he stomped off while I just thought ‘That is brilliant!’”

(2) HISTORICAL DOCUMENTS, DISCON 1. Andrew Porter received this postcard after reserving his room for Discon, the 1963 Worldcon in Washington DC. “Back when I was still Andy Silverberg…” – his name at the time.

(3) QANTAS PHYSICS. Fanac.org’s next “FanHistory Project Zoom Session” will be “Wrong Turns on the Wallaby Track: Australian Science Fiction Fandom to Aussiecon – Part 1, 1936 to 1960” featuring Leigh Edmonds and Perry Middlemiss. According to your time zone, it starts December 4 at 7PM Dec 4 EST, 4PM Dec 4 PST, or December 5 at 11AM in Melbourne AU. RSVP to [email protected] to get the Zoom link.

From the 1930s to the 1950s sf fandom in Australia was active and buoyant. Centred mainly around the city of Sydney their activities included fanzine production, club meetings and feuding. Yet by the beginning of the 1960s it had nearly all withered away. How did this vibrant community survive the Second World War and yet somehow fail to make it through peacetime? This, and many other questions, will be addressed by Dr Leigh Edmonds, sf fan and professional historian, in his FANAC talk titled “Wrong Turns on the Wallaby Track: Australian Science Fiction Fandom to Aussiecon – Part 1, 1936 to 1960.”

(4) WHO WAS THAT MASKED FAN? The Los Angeles Times reports on Comic-Con Special Edition: “Comic-Con returns to San Diego amid COVID-19 pandemic”.

They say not all superheroes wear capes. But they do all now wear masks.

This weekend, thousands of people flocked to San Diego for the city’s first in-person Comic-Con — the beloved geekfest for all things science fiction, superhero and fantasy — in two and a half years.

The cosplayers squeezed into their spandex, strapped on their plastic weapons and secured their brightly colored wigs.

But with great power comes great responsibility. So, in a pandemic twist, they all donned face masks and red wristbands after proving they had either been vaccinated against or had recently tested negative for the greatest villain of all: COVID-19….

(5) COMIC-CON MUSEUM. The Times of San Diego takes its “First Peek Inside Comic-Con Museum, Revealing Exhibits Amid Soft Opening”.

…Local dignitaries, Comic-Con officials and volunteers were the first to see the 250,000 square feet of exhibits as a “special edition” San Diego Comic Convention opened Friday at the San Diego Convention Center.

The former San Diego Hall of Champions sports museum will be a destination for Comic-Con attendees, who can take a free shuttle between to the venue. The shuttle goes every 30 minutes….

This is the link to the Museum website where these six theme exhibits are now on display:

  • Gene Roddenberry: Sci-Fi Visionary as creator of “Star Trek.”
  • Chas Addams…Family and Friends as cartoonist of darkly humorous and macabre characters.
  • Eight Decades of Archie: a new pop-up exhibition that explores the storied history of America’s typical teenagers
  • Cardboard Superheroes: the art of teenage brothers Connor (17) and Bauer (14) Lee, this exhibit features life-size cardboard models of superheroes such as Hulkbuster, Groot, C-3PO, and Baby Yoda.
  • Out of the Darkness: Comics in the Times of COVID featuring artwork by San Diego young people.
  • The PAC-MAN Arcade on the 2020 Museum Character Hall of Fame Inductee.

(6) COMICS EXHIBIT IN WASHINGTON, DC. There’s news about what the Library of Congress is doing with Steve Geppi’s collection of comics. Geppi Gems is on view in the LOC’s Graphic Arts Gallery through March 2022. A second rotation, with a completely different selection, is intended for the Spring of 2022. “Geppi Gems Exhibit: Highlights from the Stephen A. Geppi Collection at the Library of Congress”.

…Stephen A. Geppi opened the Geppi Entertainment Museum in Baltimore, Maryland, in 2006, with the intent of showing how artistic creations from the pages of newspaper comic strips and comic books permeated popular culture. Over time, he expanded his collecting interests to reflect such comic book themes as superheroes, westerns, science fiction, horror, sports, music and entertainment. When the Geppi Entertainment Museum closed its doors in 2018, Mr. Geppi generously donated a large portion of its contents to the Library of Congress, with a desire that thousands of people share his excitement for comic books….

There’s also an online version of the exhibit: “Geppi Gems”.

(7) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

1972 [Item by Cat Eldridge.] Forty-nine years ago this evening, Via Galactica, a SF rock musical, premiered on Broadway. Critics all hated it. Audiences really weren’t fond of it either. It lasted but seven shows before being cancelled. Yes, it was that bad. The story by Christopher Gore and Judith Ross, lyrics by Gore, and music by Galt MacDermot. It marked the Broadway debut of actor Mark Baker who went on to far better things. (Raul Julia was in the cast.) The storyline was so difficult to follow that at the very last moment producers inserted a plot synopsis in Playbill, but audiences still had no idea what they were witnessing unfolding on stage which involved, among other things, a clamshell-shaped garbage ship called the Helen of Troy. No, I’m not kidding. It would be one of the very first Broadway plays to lose a million dollars. That’s over six million dollars today. 

Jennifer George, daughter of the producer George W. George, has a look at it here.

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born November 28, 1930 William Sargent, 91. He played Dr. Leighton in “The Conscience of the King”, a first season episode of Star Trek. He also shows up in Night Slaves (really don’t ask), Mission: ImpossibleShazam!Voyage to the Bottom of the SeaThe Twilight ZoneAlfred Hitchcock Presents and The Invaders. He was in the pilot for The Immortal series but wasn’t in the regular cast.
  • Born November 28, 1939 Walter Velez. His agent and fellow artist Jill Bauman wrote, “Walter created illustrations for most of the major book and gaming companies. He has been long known for his cover art for such popular books such as the Thieves World series and the Myth Adventures series, both edited by Robert Asprin; and the EbenezumWuntor, and Cineverse Cycle series, all by Craig Shaw Gardner. Walter illustrated for TSR games extensively. He applied his multi-faceted talents to trading cards for the Goosebumps series for the Topps Company, and a series of Dune trading cards. In the early 80’s he worked with Random House to create art for several Star Wars books that were licensed from George Lucas.” (Died 2018.)
  • Born November 28, 1944 Rita Mae Brown, 76. Author of the Sister Jane mysteries which features foxes, hounds and cats as characters with voices which in my mind makes them genre novels. Not to mention her creation of Sneaky Pie Brown who “is a New York Times best-selling writer and cat who co-authors the Mrs. Murphy series of mystery novels with her owner, Rita Mae Brown.” And who she has an entire series devoted to. 
  • Born November 28, 1946 Joe Dante, 75. Warning, this is a personal list of Dante’s works that I’ve really, really enjoyed starting off with The Howling then adding in Innnerspace, both of the Gremlins films though I think only the first is a masterpiece even if the second has its moments, Small Soldiers and The Hole. For television work, he’s done a lot but the only one I can say that I recall and was impressed by was his Legends of Tomorrow’s “Night of the Hawk” episode.  That’s his work as Director. As a Producer, I see he’s responsible for The Phantom proving everyone has a horrible day.  
  • Born November 28, 1952 S. Epatha Merkerson, 69. Best remembered as Lieutenant Anita Van Buren on Law & Order appearing in 395 episodes of the series. Since Dick Wolf also is responsible for Chicago Med, she’s now playing Sharon Goodwin there. Both of her major SF roles involve robots. The first was in Terminator 2: Judgment Day as Tarissa Dyson; a year later, she had a recurring role as Capt. Margaret Claghorn in Mann & Machine. And she had a recurring role as Reba on Pee-wee’s Playhouse which I believe the consensus here is that it’s genre. 
  • Born November 28, 1962 Mark Hodder, 59. Best known for his Burton & Swinburne alternate Victorian steampunk novels starting off with The Strange Affair of Spring-Heeled Jack that deservedly garnered a Philip K. Dick Award. He also wrote A Red Sun Also Rises which recreates sort of Victorian London on a far distant alien world. Emphasis on sort of. And then there’s Consulting Detective Macalister Fogg which appears to be his riff off of Sherlock Holmes only decidedly weirder. 
  • Born November 28, 1981 Louise Bourgoin, 40. Her main SFF film is as the title character of Adèle Blanc-Sec in The Extraordinary Adventures of Adèle Blanc-Sec as directed by Luc Besson. Anybody watched the uncensored English version that came out on Blu-ray? It’s on my list To Be Watched list. She also played Audrey in Black Heaven (L’Autre monde), and she’s the voice heard in the Angélique’s Day for Night animation short.
  • Born November 28, 1987 Karen Gillan, 34. Amy Pond, companion to the Eleventh Doctor. Nebula in the Guardians of The Galaxy and in the later MCU films, Ruby Roundhouse in Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle. Two episodes of Who she was in did win Hugos, “The Pandorica Opens/The Big Bang” and “The Doctor’s Wife”, the first at Renovation and the latter at Chicon 7. 

(9) FORTY WHACKS. The New Yorker enumerates “The Lessons of ‘The Lorax’”.

In 1989, the year that Iran’s Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini issued a fatwa calling for the death of Salman Rushdie, for writing “The Satanic Verses,” American parents in Laytonville, a small town in Northern California, demanded that their children’s elementary school take Dr. Seuss’s 1971 book, “The Lorax,” off its list of required reading for second graders. The book is “Silent Spring” for the under-ten set. “I speak for the trees,” the Lorax says, attempting to defend a soon to be blighted forest, its tufted Truffula trees chopped down and knit into hideous thneeds—“a Fine-Something-That-All-People-Need”—until there is nothing left but one single seed.

…“I drew a Lorax and he was obviously a Lorax,” Geisel said. “Doesn’t he look like a Lorax to you?” But, in 1989, to Bill and Judith Bailey, the founders of a logging-equipment business in Laytonville, the Lorax looked like an environmental activist. “Papa, we can’t cut trees down,” their eight-year-old son, Sammy, said after reading the book, in which a “Super-Axe-Hacker” whacks “four Truffula Trees at one smacker.” Townspeople were caught up in the so-called “timber wars,” when environmentalists camped out in trees and loggers wore T-shirts that read “Spotted Owl Tastes Like Chicken.” Logging families took out ads in the local newspaper. One said, “To teach our children that harvesting redwood trees is bad is not the education we need.”…

(10) ONE DAM THING AFTER ANOTHER. “Ian Frazier Wishes Somebody Would Write About the World’s Largest Beaver Dam” in the New York Times. He avoids SF…but we’ll skip that quote.

Which subjects do you wish more authors would write about?

I don’t know — how about the world’s largest beaver dam? It’s in northern Alberta, Canada, and very hard to get to. Supposedly it’s the largest animal-made structure visible from space. I would like to write about it myself, but no editors are interested. (Write about it, that is, without actually going there.)

(11) ELON MUSK NEWS. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In the Washington Post.  Isabelle Khurshudyan and Mary Ilyushina discuss the popularity of Elon Musk in Russia.  Among his fans is Pavel Antonov, who wants to be the first bartender in space, with his role model being the android Michael Sheen played in Passengers. “Why Russia’s mania for Elon Musk just keeps on growing”.

…Pavel Antonov’s life goal can be traced back to the 2016 movie “Passengers,” a sci-fi romance that takes place on a luxury spaceship. One character in the movie is Arthur, an android bartender played by Michael Sheen. Arthur provides smiling relief amid the chaos.

“I immediately thought Musk will definitely need such a person who would distract from all problems,” Antonov said. “For at least one hour, you can sit at the bar, forget about everything and talk about neutral topics. From then on, I decided that I want to be the first bartender on Mars.”…

He’s developed “a signature cocktail for Mars” which is bright blue and a red cherry for the Red Planet…

(12) VIDEO OF THE DAY. “Mr. Sci-Fi” Marc Scott Zicree is roaming the aisles at San Diego Comic-Con — Special Edition.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Andrew Porter, Michael Toman, Alan Baumler, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, and JJ for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Joe H.]

Pixel Scroll 10/26/21 Big Pixel In Little Scroll

(1) KRUGMAN’S RINGING ENDORSEMENT. “‘Dune’ Is the Movie We Always Wanted” says Paul Krugman.  After pausing to tell us why he hates Apple TV’s Foundation series, he tells why he loves the Villenueve Dune adaptation.

… Now on to “Dune.” The book is everything “Foundation” isn’t: There’s a glittering, hierarchical society wracked by intrigue and warfare, a young hero of noble birth who may be a prophesied Messiah, a sinister but alluring sisterhood of witches, fierce desert warriors and, of course, giant worms.

And yes, it’s fun. When I was a teenager, my friends and I would engage in mock combat in which the killing blow had to be delivered slowly to penetrate your opponent’s shield — which will make sense if you read the book or watch the movie.

What makes “Dune” more than an ordinary space opera are two things: its subtlety and the richness of its world-building.

Thus, the Bene Gesserit derive their power not from magic but from deep self-control, awareness and understanding of human psychology. The journey of Paul Atreides is heroic but morally ambiguous; he knows that if he succeeds, war and vast slaughter will follow.

And the world Herbert created is given depth by layers of cultural references. He borrowed from Islamic and Ayurvedic traditions, from European feudalism and more — “Dune” represents cultural appropriation on a, well, interstellar scale. It’s also deeply steeped in fairly serious ecological thinking…

(2) SILICON VOLLEY. Did you have any doubts? “’Dune: Part 2′ Officially Greenlit” reports Variety. But you have to wait ‘til 2023 to see it.

… Legendary Entertainment announced the news in a tweet on Tuesday, ensuring that the spice will continue to flow on screen. Warner Bros. will distribute the film and help finance it, though Legendary is the primary money behind the movie and owns the film rights to the book series. The film is expected to have an exclusive theatrical run, and Legendary will likely make that point iron-clad after “Dune” debuted simultaneously in theaters and on HBO Max last week. The unorthodox distribution pattern was a pandemic-era concession by Warner Bros., but one that caused an uproar when it was unveiled in 2020. “Dune: Part 2” will hit theaters on Oct. 20, 2023….

When interviewed by Variety at the Toronto Film Festival, Villeneuve said, “I wanted at the beginning to do the two parts simultaneously. For several reasons, it didn’t happen, and I agreed to the challenge of making part one and then wait to see if the movie rings enough enthusiasm… As I was doing the first part, I really put all my passion into it, in case it would be the only one. But I’m optimistic.”

(3) DISCON III BUSINESS MEETING DEADLINE. Meeting chair Kevin Standlee reminds all that the deadline for submitting proposals to the 2021 WSFS Business Meeting is November 16, 2021. Any two or more members of DisCon III (including supporting and virtual members) may sponsor new business. Submit proposals to [email protected]. See “A Guide to the WSFS Business Meeting at DisCon III” [PDF file] for more information about the WSFS Business Meeting.

Reports from committees of the Business Meeting and financial reports from Worldcon committees are also due by November 16, 2021. Send reports to [email protected].

(4) RED ALERT. Remember when you had half a year to do all your Hugo reading? Okay, now’s time to panic. DisCon III today posted a reminder that the Hugo voting deadline is just a few weeks away.

(5) 6TH ANNUAL CITY TECH SF SYMPOSIUM. The Sixth Annual City Tech Science Fiction Symposium on Access and SF has extended the submission deadline of its call for papers until October 29. See full guidelines at the link.

The Sixth Annual City Tech Science Fiction Symposium aims to explore the broad theme of “Access and SF” as a way to understand the relationship between access and SF, identify what’s at stake and for whom, foster alliances between those fighting for access, and discuss how improving access for some improves access for all.

The Sixth Annual City Tech Science Fiction Symposium is a virtual event that will be held online Thursday, December 9 from 9:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m. Eastern at CUNY in New York.

(6) HORROR TRIUMVIRATE Q&A. Goodreads invites fans to “Meet the Authors of Today’s Big Horror Novels”.

Stephen Graham Jones, author of My Heart Is a Chainsaw

GR: What’s your definition of a perfect horror novel?

SGJ: One that changes your daily behavior—makes you afraid of the shower, afraid of the dark, suspicious of the people in your life. One that leaves you no longer certain about yourself or the world you live in. A perfect horror novel is one you forget is a book at all. It’s one that lodges in your head and your heart as an experience, a little perturbation inside you that you only snag your thoughts on when alone. But when those thoughts start to seep blood, you place that cut to your mouth and drink. This is the nourishment you need, never mind how drained it leaves you feeling. Nothing’s for free.

Caitlin Starling, author of The Death of Jane Lawrence

GR: What’s your definition of a perfect horror novel?

CS:  I want to drown in atmosphere. That doesn’t mean I want only slow-moving horror but books that feel like the movies The Blackcoat’s Daughter or A Dark Song—something in that vein. I also want characters that I can live inside, that even if I question their decisions, I don’t just hate or want to suffer. It’s more fun for me to watch a character I enjoy struggle.

Grady Hendrix, author of The Final Girl Support Group

GR: What sparked the idea for your latest book?

GH: Growing up, I wasn’t allowed to see R-rated movies, so after Boy Scout meetings when our Scoutmaster took us to the gas station for snacks, I convinced him that I was allowed to buy issues of Fangoria with my snack money instead. I’d pore over Fango’s deeply detailed plot breakdowns and photo spreads so that I could pretend to have seen all these horror movies. The first one I remember was their feature on the opening of Friday the 13th Part 2, in which the final girl from Part 1, played by Adrienne King, gets murdered by Jason. The casual cruelty of that blew my mind. This woman had seen all her friends die, decapitated the killer, and survived, but she still couldn’t let her guard down. I always wanted to write her a happier ending.
(Fun fact: Adrienne King is the audiobook narrator for The Final Girl Support Group.)

(7) CLASSISM IN SESSION. In “The Potterization of Science Fiction”, The Hugo Book Club Blog decries a prevalent type of sff story, and the distortions it has wrought on the TV adaptation of Foundation.

…One of the fundamentally troubling assumptions behind the born-great protagonist is the anti-democratic idea that the lives of some people simply matter more than the lives of other people. If we accept that Harry Potter is destined to be the only one who can do the thing that’s important, then why should we care about the life of Ritchie Coote? Likewise, if Aragorn is destined for the throne then we have to accept that all other Men of Gondor would be incapable of managing the kingdom (let alone Women of Gondor). There is a direct link between the idea that one person can be born great, with the ideas that underpin racism, classism, and sexism. See also: the equally flawed “great man” theory….

(8) DEATH FROM ABOVE. In the latest episode of Phil Nichols and Colin Kuskie’s Science Fiction 101 podcast, “Fly Me To The Moon”, they review The Apollo Murders.

The author, Chris Hadfield, has flown on the Space Shuttle and on Soyuz, worked on the Russian Mir space station, and commanded the International Space Station. You can’t get more astronaut experience than that.

….If you’ve been tempted by The Apollo Murders, listen to our review to see if it’s the kind of thing that appeal to you. But do be warned: here there be spoilers!

(9) FRIENDLY LOCAL GAME STORE DOCUMENTARY. [Item by Olav Rokne.] Here’s a trailer for an interesting Kickstarter documentary about the largest independent games store on Earth. Now, I might be biased, since I worked there in the 1990s, but Sentry Box is great. One of the best SF book selections anywhere (Gord, the owner handed me my first copy of Lest Darkness Fall … and Steve Jackson and Judith Reeves-Stevens used to visit the store semi-regularly.) 

(10) MEMORY LANE.

1984 – Thirty-seven years ago, The Terminator said “I’ll be back” as the first in that franchise was released.  It was directed by James Cameron who wrote it along with Gale Anne Hurd who also produced it. (She would marry Cameron in 1985.) It starred Arnold Schwarzenegger, Michael Biehn and Linda Hamilton.  Almost all the critics at the time really liked it, though the New York Times thought there was way too much violence. You think? One critic at the time said it had, and I quote, “guns, guns and more guns.” Huh.  Audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes give it a very high score of eighty-nine percent. I was surprised that it did not get a Hugo nomination.

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born October 26, 1942 Bob Hoskins. I’ll insist his role as Eddie Valiant in Who Framed Roger Rabbit? is his finest genre role though I suppose Mario Mario in Super Mario Bros. could be said… Just kidding! He’s the Director of The Raggedy Rawney which he also had a role, a strange might be genre film, and he’s Smee in Hook as well. (Died 2014.)
  • Born October 26, 1954 Jennifer Roberson, 67. Writer of of fantasy and historical romances. The Chronicles of the Cheysuli is her fantasy series about shapeshifters and their society, and the Sword-Dancer Saga is the desert based adventure series of sort, but the series I’ve enjoyed is her Sherwood duo-logy that consists of Lady of the Forest and Lady of Sherwood which tells the Robin Hood tale from the perspective of Marian. Her hobby, which consumes much of her time, is breeding and showing Cardigan Welsh Corgis. 
  • Born October 26, 1960 Patrick Breen, 61. He’s Redgick, a Squid, a minor character that appeared in Men in Black. In beloved Galaxy Quest, he’s Quelled, a Thermian who forms a bond with Alexander Dane. It’s a wonderful role. And he has a recurring role as Larry Your-Waiter, a member of V.F.D. on A Series of Unfortunate Events series. 
  • Born October 26, 1962 Faith Hunter, 59. Her longest running and most notable series to date is the Jane Yellowrock series though I’ve mixed feelings about the recent turn of events. She’s got a nifty SF series called Junkyard that’s been coming out on Audible first. Her only award to date is the Lifetime Achievement award to a science fiction professional given by DeepSouthCon. 
  • Born October 26, 1962 Cary Elwes, 57. He’s in the ever-so-excellent Princess Bride which won a Hugo at Nolacon II as Westley / Dread Pirate Roberts / The Man in Black. He also shows up in Dr. Lawrence Gordon in the Saw franchise, and was cast as Larry Kline, Mayor of Hawkins, for the third season of Stranger Things. And no, that’s hardly all his genre roles. 
  • Born October 26, 1963 Keith Topping, 58. It being the month of ghoulies, I’ve got another academic for you. He’s published Slayer: The Totally Cool Unofficial Guide to BuffyHollywood Vampire: An Expanded and Updated Unofficial and Unauthorised Guide to AngelThe Complete Slayer: An Unofficial and Unauthorised Guide to Every Episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and one and one for horror film fans in general, A Vault of Horror: A Book of 80 Great British Horror Movies from 1956-1974. He’s also written some novels in the Doctor Who universe, some with Martin Day, and written non-fiction works on the original Avengers, you know which ones I mean, with Martin Day also, and ST: TNG & DS9 and Stargate as well with Paul Cornell. 
  • Born October 26, 1971 Jim Butcher, 50. I really don’t know how far I got in the the Dresden Files, at least though Proven Guilty, and I will go back to it eventually. Who here has read his other series, Codex Alera and Cinder Spires? I see he won a Dragon this year for his Battle Ground novel, the latest in the Dresden Files series.
  • Born October 26, 1973 Seth MacFarlane, 48. Ok, I confess that I tried watching The Orville which he created and it just didn’t appeal to me. For those of you who are fans, why do you like it? I will admit that having it described as trying to be a better Trek ain’t helping. 

(12) COMICS SECTION.

  • Garfield shows we need some better way to handle giant robots. (I imagine Slim Pickens delivering the line in the comic.)

(13) DIOP WINS NEUSTADT. Boubacar Boris Diop is the 27th laureate of the Neustadt International Prize for Literature, which recognizes outstanding literary merit in literature worldwide. Diop is not a genre writer so far as I’m aware, but this major literary award news came out today.

Francophone writer Diop (b. 1946, Dakar, Senegal) is the author of many novels, plays and essays. He was awarded the Senegalese Republic Grand Prize in 1990 for Les Tambours de la mémoire as well as the Prix Tropiques for The Knight and His Shadow. His Doomi Golo was the first novel to be translated from Wolof into English. Toni Morrison called his novel Murambi: The Book of Bones “a miracle,” and the Zimbabwe International Book Fair listed it as one of the 100 best African books of the 20th century.

…The Neustadt Prize is the first international literary award of its scope to originate in the United States and is one of the very few international prizes for which poets, novelists and playwrights are equally eligible. Winners are awarded $50,000, a replica of an eagle feather cast in silver and a certificate.

Boubacar Boris Diop

(14) SCIENCE FICTION IS ALWAYS ABOUT THE PRESENT.  Ali Karjoo-Ravary’s article about the Dune novel and movie’s use of culture is much more nuanced than the headline Slate gives it: “Is HBO’s 2021 adaptation of Frank Herbert’s book a white savior narrative?”

…Part of this is also Herbert’s fault. By writing a story in which he intended to critique “Western man,” Herbert also centered Western man. Often when critiquing something, one falls into a binary that prevents the very third option that so many have been looking for since decolonization. Herbert’s greatest shortcoming can be seen in his analysis of T.E. Lawrence and the deification of leaders in an interview he gave in 1969. He said, “If Lawrence of Arabia had died at the crucial moment of the British … he would have been deified. And it would have been the most terrifying thing the British had ever encountered, because the Arabs would have swept that entire peninsula with that sort of force, because one of the things we’ve done in our society is exploited this power.”

Herbert’s shortcoming is not his idea that “Western man” seeks to exploit the deification of charismatic leaders but that Arabs (or any other non-Western) would fall easily for it. This notion, in fact, builds on a stereotype that motivated European powers to fund propaganda among Muslims during the world wars in the hope that they could provoke a global jihad against one another. Needless to say, that didn’t happen, because Islam isn’t a “warrior religion” whose followers are just waiting for the right trigger to go berserk. Islam’s followers are human and are as complicated and multifaceted as other humans. Herbert should have seen that more clearly….

(15) PILE THESE ON TOP OF MT. TBR. CrimeReads’ Rektok Ross recommends some compelling YA horror and sf novels: “9 YA Survival Thrillers To Get Your Heart Pounding This Fall”.

Life As We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer

During a catastrophic natural disaster, high school sophomore Miranda takes shelter with her family in this heart-stopping thriller. After a meteor knocks the moon closer to earth, worldwide tsunamis demolish entire cities, earthquakes rock the world, and ash from volcanic explosions block out the sun. When the summer turns dark and wintery in northeastern Pennsylvania, Miranda, her two brothers, and their mother are forced to hideout in their sunroom, where they must survive solely on stockpiled food and limited water. Readers will find themselves completely riveted by this story of desperation in an unfamiliar world although there are small slivers of hope, too.

(16) UNCOVERED. Tenth Letter of the Alphabet, in “Inspiration: The Reflection”, compares Will Bradley’s 1894 art with the science fictional cover by Mike Hinge it inspired, published by the 1975 fanzine Algol. Editor Andrew Porter commented there —

…This issue was the first with a full color cover. Working with the artist, Mike Hinge, was a challenge. He was a stickler for details, even demanded that his copyright appear on the front cover, in the artwork! This was also the first issue with the covers printed on 10pt Kromecoate, so the image really bumped up.

I forgot to mention that Hinge also did interior artwork, for the Le Guin piece. Also, all the type on the cover, and the headlines inside was done using LetraSet, which I still have dozens of sheets of, though I haven’t used it in decades.

(17) TOCHI ONYEBUCHI AND NGHI VO. At Essence of Wonder with Gadi Evron, Nghi Vo and Tochi Onyebuchi joined Alan Bond and Karen Castelletti to talk about their 2021 Hugo Awards nominated works, Empress of Salt and Fortune and Riot Baby.

(18) FAMILY TREE. Joe Abercrombie’s response to Nina Melia’s tweet is, “Holy shit I’m Frodo in this metaphor?”

(19) THE WEED OF CRIME. In the Washington Post, Hannah Knowles says that federal prosecutors have charged Vinath Oudomzine for fraudulently obtaining a pandemic-related Small Businsss Administration loan. Prosecutors charge that Oudomosine spend $57,789 on a Pokemon card, which they did not identify. “Vinath Oudomsine used covid-19 business relief to buy a Pokémon card, federal prosecutors say”.

… On July 14, 2020, according to prosecutors, Oudomsine sought a loan for a business that he said had 10 employees and revenue of $235,000 over a year. The next month, court documents state, the SBA deposited $85,000 into a bank account in Oudomsine’s name.

Court filings give few details about the alleged Pokémon card purchase — such as which “Pocket Monster” it carried — simply stating that Oudomsine bought it “on or about” Jan. 8 of this year.

Collectible gaming cards can fetch big sums — this year, one unopened box of first-edition Pokémon cards sold for more than $400,000.

(20) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In “Halloween Kills Pitch Meeting” on Screen Rant, which has spoilers, Ryan George says Michael Myers managers to escape from the cliffhanger of the previous Halloween movie, even though he’s “an eight-fingered 60-year-old with smoke inhalation.”  Also, Jamie Lee Curtis, despite her billing, is barely in the movie and about half the script is various characters saying, “Evil dies tonight!”

[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, Chris Barkley, Lise Andreasen, Jennifer Hawthorne, Rob Thornton, Michael J. Walsh, Dann, Gadi Evron, Daniel Dern, John King Tarpinian, Andrew Porter, and Michael Toman for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Danny Sichel.]

Pixel Scroll 9/18/21 Me And My Pixel, Scrolling Down The Fan Venue

(1) SPACE OPERA. Stars Between, the 20-minute opera on the Voyager missions that E. Lily Yu wrote the libretto for, with Steven Tran composing, recently became available on Seattle Opera’s website along with other operas from the Jane Lang Davis Creation Lab. Yu won the Astounding Award for Best New Writer in 2012. “At Seattle Opera, young artists push a 400-year-old art form forward” at Crosscut.

…Created over the course of 21 weeks — via Zoom and during socially distanced, masked rehearsal sessions — this year’s eight Creation Lab operas will be streamed on the Seattle Opera website, in two separate bills, starting Sept. 9 and Sept. 10.

The inaugural cohort’s 20-minute creations use traditional opera vocals to deal with raw issues in fresh ways or take innovative approaches to storylines and orchestration. The dramatic opera Blaze depicts the personal losses caused by terrifying wildfires. If only I could give you the sun, a nonbinary/transgender retelling of the Icarus myth, centers generosity and joy instead of hubris and calamity. The existential opera Stars Between tells the story of the Voyager space mission with the help of ’80s synths and a vocoder (along with some Ariana Grande inspiration). And in Flush, the soprano portrays a girl running into a public bathroom — and the mezzo-soprano plays the toilet who sings back to her. 

Yu and Tran’s work is the first one performed here: “2020/21 Creation Lab Performances Part 2”.

(2) CARRIBEAN SFF PODCAST. Jarrel De Matas invites fans to listen to The Caribbean Science Fiction Network, “A celebration of all things fantasy, folklore, and science fiction.”

Want to learn more about Caribbean fantasy, folklore, speculative, and science fiction? Interested in established and emerging Caribbean voices about all things sf? Then tune in to The Caribbean Science Fiction Network. In this podcast I showcase emerging and established Caribbean voices who use sf genres to explore future states of Caribbean identity. Through these genres, the writers redefine Caribbean futurity and what it means to be Caribbean.

The most recent episode features a discussion with Karen Lord: ?“Imagining a Caribbean future of health”.

How can literature illuminate matters of public health and Caribbean futures? Listen to Barbadian writer, Karen Lord, discuss her latest short story “The Plague Doctors” which is eerily prophetic in its portrayal of an island bearing the brunt of a contagious disease. Through a blending of the hard sciences and the social sciences, Lord urges us to read not just for entertainment but for social change.

The podcast is available on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Anchor.fm, iHeartRadio, Podchaser, and Breaker.

(3) AFROFUTURISM. In a post for Axios, “Afrofuturists imagine space in 2051”, Russell Contreras provides an extensive roundup about the subgenre.

…Details: Afrofuturism describes an alternative place for Black people in space or a fantasy setting, or in relation to technology that allows one to escape slavery and discrimination.

Once an underground movement, Afrofuturism today enjoys a popular fan base with the blockbuster movie “Black Panther” and a new exhibit at the Oakland Museum of California….

The Oakland exhibit is discussed in full detail in the San Francisco Chronicle: “’Mothership: Voyage Into Afrofuturism’ collapses space and time to envision a Black future”.

…“Mothership: Voyage Into Afrofuturism,” which will be on view through Feb. 27, showcases work across mediums, dating from the early days of the Black American experience to the present. 

The Afrofuturism movement “is about collapsing time and space, so what happened in 1919 is just as relevant as what happened in 2019,” Harden explained. “You can understand that Black folks’ mere presence of life and living is in part resisting this impossibility that’s facing them, which is life, in a world that is fully anti-Black.” 

“Mothership: Voyage Into Afrofuturism” is the museum’s first new exhibition since the start of the pandemic. It was scheduled to open in October, but public health orders forced the museum to suspend in-person operations from March 2020 to June. 

Rhonda Pagnozzi, a curator at the East Bay institution since 2017, served as lead curator, working with Oakland-born Harden, a doctoral candidate in the African American studies department at UC Berkeley. The museum had been at work on the project before the protests over the police killing of George Floyd erupted last summer and worked with more than 50 Black artists and historians in creating the exhibit. 

“As a non-Black curator, it was critical on this project to center the voices of Black creatives,” said Pagnozzi, who is white. 

To mount the exhibition, new walls were erected to create more intimate spaces, and the museum’s 7,600-square-foot Great Hall was painted with darker tones, primarily black and grays. The effect makes each installation more striking, as the exhibits contrast with the simple and muted nature of the space.  

The exhibit engulfs a visitor immediately with a hypnotizing sound installation, “Mothership Calling,” by Pittsburgh composer Nicole Mitchell, and a mural, “Radio Imagination,” by San Francisco artist Sydney Cain, both created in 2020. The mural aims to capture the idea of a collapse of time and space, featuring visuals of ancestors of the African diaspora while being abstract enough that it feels like something part of a distant future….

(4) SAY THEIR NAMES. Lise Andreasen asks, “Did you know I have a Soundcloud? Currently the correct (?) pronunciation of more than 50 names. Did I get someone wrong? Did I miss someone people often get wrong?” Listen here – “Say It Right. If you want to give any feedback, contact Lise here. (And now I know the right way to pronouce Lise Andreasen!)

(5) HEAR BISHOP. On October 7, ReadSC’s “On My Mind” series will present Brock Adams and Michael Bishop. Register for the free online event at Eventbrite. Begins at 7:00 p.m. Eastern.

Brock Adams‘s first novel, Ember, won the South Carolina First Novel Prize in 2016 and was published the following year by Hub City Press. His short fiction has appeared in Best American Mystery Stories, The Sewanee Review, Bacopa Literary Review, and several other journals….

Michael Lawson Bishop is an award-winning American writer. Over four decades & thirty books, he has created a body of work that stands among the most admired in modern sf & fantasy literature…. 

(6) NIGHTMARE ALLEY. “Guillermo Del Toro’s Nightmare Alley Finally Gets Its First Trailer” and Yahoo! News gives it an introduction:

Guillermo del Toro’s upcoming film Nightmare Alley is highly anticipated for a few reasons. The most obvious one is, well, it’s a del Toro film. But the cast comes in a close second for this dark ‘40s noir tale. Bradley Cooper, Cate Blanchett, Toni Collette, Willem Dafoe, Richard Jenkins, Rooney Mara, Ron Perlman, and David Strathairn complete the film’s ensemble cast. It feels like 84 years since we first found out about this adaptation of William Lindsay Gresham’s 1946 book of the same name. Believe it or not, the initial announcement hit way back in December 2017. And now, nearly four years later, we finally got the trailer. And it was indeed worth the long (and pandemic affected) wait….

(7) SAVING BOOKS. Andrew Porter says his comment about salvaging water damaged books, left on the New York Times article “He Was Swept Down a Sewer Pipe: ‘I Just Let the Water Take Me’”, is getting a lot of upvotes. (Click for larger image.)

(8) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

  • 1965 – Fifty-six years ago on this evening , Get Smart! first aired on NBC. Created by Buck Henry and Mel Brooks, this would be the first scripted television series for either of them. It had a small core cast consisting of Don Adams, Barbara Feldon and Edward Platt. It would run for five seasons, the last being being on CBS, consisting on one hundred and thirty-eight episodes. A movie, The Nude Bomb (retitled The Return of Maxwell Smart when it ran on TV as obviously those audiences are sensitive), followed, and then later on Get Smart, Again!, another film aired. A mid-Nineties revival series, Get Smart, with Don Adams and Barbara Feldon lasted but seven episodes. Edward Platt who played The Chief in the original series had died, so he wasn’t part of it. Adams would later do many a commercial using his Maxwell Smart persona. You can see his ad for Savemart New York City here.

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born September 18, 1884 — Gertrude Barrows Bennett. She’s been called a pioneering author of genre fiction. She wrote a number of fantasies between in the late 1910s and early 1920s, and has been called “the woman who invented dark fantasy”. Her short story, “The Curious Experience of Thomas Dunbar” which was published under G.M. Barrows in Argosy is considered first time that an American female writer published an SF story using her real name. I’m pleased to say that the usual suspects are heavily stocked with her works.  (Died 1948.)
  • Born September 18, 1917 — June Foray. Voice performer with such roles as Cindy Lou Who, Natasha Fatale and Rocky the Flying Squirrel. She also provided the voice of Lucifer the Cat from Disney’s Cinderella. She also did a lot of witches such as Looney Tunes’ Witch Hazel which you can hear thisaway. She was instrumental in the creation of the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature twenty years ago. OGH has a detailed remembrance here. (Died 2017.)
  • Born September 18, 1939 — Frankie Avalon, 82. He first graced the SFF realm with an appearance on Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea followed by being in the Panic In Year Zero film and then in the Bondian spoof Dr. Goldfoot and the Bikini Machine. His last two genre one-offs were on Fantasy Island and Sabrina, the Teenage Witch. Well, and there was the teenage horror bloodfest The Haunted House of Horror.
  • Born September 18, 1944 — Veronica Carlson, 77. She’s best remembered for her roles in Hammer horror films. Among them are Dracula Has Risen from the Grave,  Frankenstein Must Be Destroyed and The Horror of Frankenstein. She also shows up in Casino Royale as an uncredited blonde. She also appeared in the Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased) episode “The Ghost Who Saved the Bank at Monte Carlo”.
  • Born September 18, 1946 — Struan Rodger, 75. He voiced the Face of Boe in the Tenth Doctor stories “New Earth” and “Gridlock”. He returned to the series as Clayton in the Twelfth Doctor story, “The Woman Who Loved” and voiced Kasaavin in Thirteenth Doctor story, “Skyfall”.  He was also Bishop in Stardust, and voiced the Three-Eyed Raven in The Game of Thrones’ “The Lion and The Rose” and “The Children”. 
  • Born September 18, 1946 — Nicholas Clay. Here for playing Lancelot on Excalibur. He did two earlier horror films, The Damned and Terror of Frankenstein, and he was The Prince in Sleeping Beauty. For television work, he’s done The Adventures of Sherlock HolmesThe Hound of the BaskervillesZorroThe New Adventures of Robin HoodVirtual MurderHighlander and Merlin. (Died 2000.)
  • Born September 18, 1948 — Lynn Abbey, 73. She’s best known for co-creating and co-editing with Robert Lynn Asprin (whom she was married to for 13 years) the quite superb Thieves’ World series of shared-setting anthologies. (Now complete in twelve volumes.) Her Sanctuary novel set in the Thieves’ World universe is quite excellent. I’ve not kept up with her latter work, so y’all will not to tell me how it is. Most of the Thieves’ World Series is available from the usual digital suspects.
  • Born September 18, 1984 — Caitlin Kittredge, 37. Known for  for her Nocturne City series of adult novels which I’d not heard of before this, and for The Iron Codex, a series of YA novels, but I think her best work is by far the Black London series. She’s penned a Witchblade series at Image Comics, and the excellent Coffin Hill series for Vertigo. 

(10) GOOD HOUSECREEPING. In the Washington Post, Alexandra Petri knows you have to clean up your house, and provides tips from Poe, Shirley Jackson, Smaug, and Thanos! “Goblincore? Cottagecore? Here are some more -cores, as long as we’re doing this.”

  • Thanoscore: Have eliminated half of items in house at random; was attempting Kondocore, but something went very wrong.

(11) WORTH A SECOND GLANCE? [Item by Mike Kennedy.] This list includes quite a few genre films, some of which are arguably the exact opposite of “brilliant.” “26 Overlooked Movies to Watch This Fall” in The Atlantic.

Aeon Flux (2005, directed by Karyn Kusama)

Undoubtedly one of the oddest blockbusters ever produced by a major studio, Kusama’s adaptation of the cult ’90s MTV series was critically derided and somewhat disowned by its director, who said it had been reedited for commercial appeal. If that’s the case, her cut must have been unimaginably bizarre, because the final version is a visually giddy, borderline-incomprehensible sci-fi actioner loaded with intriguing ideas of how our utopian future could go awry. Charlize Theron stars as the raven-haired, ultra-athletic warrior fighting to take down her future government; she eventually uncovers a conspiracy that helps explain both the cloistered world she lives in and the hazy dreams she has of another life in the distant past. Kusama has made better movies, such as Girlfight and The Invitation, but even her biggest flop is overflowing with more cool ideas than most summer tentpole releases.

(12) OUT FOR A PENNY, OUT FOR A POUND. “Britain Signals Intent to Revert to the Imperial System” reports the New York Times.

The British government said it was taking steps to return to its traditional system of imperial weights and measures, allowing shops and market stalls to sell fruits and vegetables labeled in pounds and ounces alone, rather than in the metric system’s grams and kilograms, a move it hailed as an example of the country’s new post-Brexit freedoms.

…Since at least medieval times, the English have used their own set measurements, including inches, feet, stones, miles and acres, many of which are still used in the United States. But for decades, the British government had been pushing people to use the metric system, used in most of the world and developed using decimalized metric standards during the French Revolution.

Supporters of the metric system say its use is necessary for companies to compete globally, since so many countries use it. Those passionate about the metric system also point to the fact that Britain began its switch to the metric system in 1965, eight years before it joined the European Union. Others said there were more pressing issues to focus on, like cuts to public services.

(13) SLOW-PONY EXPRESS. Interesting to realize that crossing the U.S. by plane in thirty days would have been a speed to aspire to in 1911. See a gallery of close-up photos of the aircraft that tried to do it in “Wright EX Vin Fiz” at the National Air and Space Museum website.

110 years ago this month, Calbraith Perry Rodgers began the first crossing of the United States by airplane. Rodgers departed New York on September 17, 1911, in his Wright EX biplane Vin Fiz with the hopes of crossing the U.S. in thirty days or less to claim a $50,000 prize from publishing magnate William Randolph Hearst. His endeavor was supported financially by the Armour Company, makers of the grape-flavored soft drink called Vin Fiz. While the flight took him 49 days and he did not earn the prize money, he did go down in history as the first person to cross the U.S. by airplane when he arrived in Pasadena, California, on November 5.

(14) A WHIFF OF HALLOWEEN. I’m including the link to Burke & Hare’s Halloween Scented Candles because they had the foresight to label their product page “Something Wicked This Way Comes.” And as you know, we’re all Bradbury all the time here. (Don’t get excited when you see every candle is marked “sold out” — a note at the top of the page says they’ll restock on September 22.)

(15) OUT FOR A SPIN. A step forward for space tourism: “SpaceX capsule returns four civilians from orbit, capping off first tourism mission,” reports CNN. (See video of the landing at SpaceX – Launches.)

Four people returned to Earth from a three-day extraterrestrial excursion aboard a SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule on Saturday evening, marking the end of the first-ever flight to Earth’s orbit flown entirely by tourists or otherwise non-astronauts.

“Thanks so much SpaceX, it was a heck of a ride for us,” billionaire and mission commander Jared Isaacman could be heard saying over the company’s livestream.

The tourists were shown watching movies and occasionally heard responding to SpaceX’s mission control inside their fully autonomous spacecraft before it began the nail-biting process of re-entering the Earth’s atmosphere. After traveling at more than 17,000 miles per hour, the spacecraft used Earth’s own thick blanket of air to slow itself down, with the outside of the craft reaching temperatures up to 3,500º Fahrenheit in the process.

The Crew Dragon capsule, which is designed not to allow temperatures to go past 85º in the cabin, used its heat shield to protect the crew against the intense heat and buildup of plasma as it plunged back toward the ocean. During a Netflix documentary about the Inspiration4 mission, Musk described a capsule going through reentry as “like a blazing meteor coming in.”

This is not a video of the landing.

(16) VIDEO OF THE DAY. In “Untitled Earth Sim 64” by Jonathan Wilhelmsson, a woman is faced with existential crisis after learning that the universe is an untitled simulation. This is the latest short sff film distributed by DUST.

[Thanks to Andrew Porter, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, E. Lily Yu, Paul Di Filippo, Estee, Michael Toman, John King Tarpinian, Cat Eldridge, and Mike Kennedy for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to contributing editor of the day Jim Janney.]

Pixel Scroll 7/10/21 More Scrolls About Pixels And Fnord

(1) GRRM’S NEW PROJECT. George R.R. Martin is one of the executive producers of the forthcoming Dark Winds series based on the books by Tony Hillerman. The Hollywood Reporter lists the others:

…The series is created and executive produced by Graham Roland (Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan) and stars Zahn McClarnon (Fargo), who is also an executive producer, and Kiowa Gordon (The Red Road). Vince Calandra (Castle Rock) is the showrunner and also an executive producer. Chris Eyre (Smoke Signals) will direct the pilot and executive produce. Other executive producers include George R.R. MartinRobert Redford, Tina Elmo and Vince Gerardis. In a rare move, the production has secured permission to film on tribal lands in New Mexico….

Martin’s own announcement on Not A Blog says:

…I am thrilled to report, Joe Leaphorn and Jim Chee are returning to television.

We just got word from AMC that they are greenlighting DARK WINDS, based on Tony’s novels about the two Navajo tribal policemen.   The first season will be six episodes long, adapted (largely) from LISTENING WOMAN, one of my favorite books in the series.   If we get the viewers. more seasons will follow, and more books will be adapted.

…DARK WINDS will be filmed in and around Santa Fe and Gallup, and on the Navajo reservation, and based out of the Native-owned Camel Rock Studios (the former Camel Rock Casino), right here in the Land of Enchantment.   Filming will begin in August, and continue — we hope — for many years.

Bob Redford and Chris Eyre have put together a great team (with a little help from yours truly), and we hope to make a great show, one that truly captures the magic of this very special place.   Look for DARK WINDS on AMC in 2022.

(2) EYEWITNESS TO SFF HISTORY. Alec Nevala-Lee introduces the video of his interview: “Talking with Barry Malzberg”.

In the course of researching my book Astounding, I got to know the author Barry N. Malzberg, who by any estimation has had one of the most singular careers in all of science fiction. Over the course of three sessions in July 2019, I interviewed Barry about his life and work in a conversation that ended up lasting close to two hours, which I’ve finally put online. We spoke about his influences and early career; his time at the Scott Meredith Literary Agency; the rise and fall of the softcore erotica market; his friendships with Dean Koontz and Bill Pronzini; his brief stint as editor of Amazing Stories magazine; his encounter with the editor John W. Campbell; and the origins, legacy, and “bad karma” of his novel Beyond Apollo. I think there’s some good stuff there, so enjoy! (If you get the chance, you might also want to check out my recent interview with the science fiction podcaster Mikel J. Wisler, in which we discuss a similarly broad range of topics, including my New York Times review of Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir.)

(3) BUHLERT ONLINE READING. Cora Buhlert will be taking part in the monthly Flash Fiction Night organized by Space Cowboy Books in Joshua Tree, California on Tuesday, July 13 at 6:00 p.m. Pacific US Time. It’s a free online event — register here.

Cora wrote at her blog:

I’ll be reading some science fiction flash fiction together with Andy Dibble and Douglas A. Blanc. It’s already the third Flash Fiction Night and you can watch recordings of the first two on the Space Cowboy Books YouTube channel.

(4) THE FUTURE’S NOT FAR AWAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] Kim Stanley Robinson took part in a forum about climate change moderated by Ezra Klein in the June 27 New York Times Magazine.  Other panelists include Saul Griffith, Rhinna Gunn-Wright, and Shilela Jasanoff.  Klein appeared pretty familiar with The Ministry of the Future. “What if American Democracy Fails the Climate Crisis?”

Klein: Stan, imagining outside the current context is your specialty as a science-fiction novelist, so I’m wondering what you think the weaknesses of our current systems are.

Kim Stanley Robinson: Well, we are stuck in an international system of nation-states, and we don’t have time to invent and institute any kind of alternative world governance, so we have to use what we’ve got. But we also have the Paris agreement, and climate equity was written into it so that developed rich nations were tasked with paying more and doing more and helping the historically disadvantaged and even colonized nations. Executing all that is, of course, a different story.

(5) LE GUIN. Andrew Porter sent this link to an article which he says surprisingly eluded him when The Guardian originally published it in March. It’s a review of the nonfiction book Le Guin completed during her last year: “Dreams Must Explain Themselves by Ursula K Le Guin review – writing and the feminist fellowship”. (The title essay appeared in Porter’s fanzine, and was collected in a 40-page chapbook of essays under the same title in 1975.)

In 1973 Ursula Le Guin was phoned by publisher and science fiction fan Andrew I Porter, trying to persuade her to write about herself in his magazine Algol. “Andy kept saying things like, ‘Tell the readers about yourself,’ and I kept saying things like, ‘How? Why?’” Standing in her hallway, with a child and a cat circling her legs, it seemed impossible to explain over the crackling connection that “the Jungian spectrum of introvert/extrovert can be applied not only to human beings but also to authors”. Le Guin knew that at one end of the spectrum there are authors such as Norman Mailer, who talk about themselves, and at the other, authors who, like her, need privacy….

(6) IT’S AROUND HERE SOMEPLACE. “Look: Long-lost ‘Wizard of Oz’ dress found in box at D.C. school” reports UPI. And it’s not quite as rare as you might at first believe. It’s the sixth version of Dorothy’s dress from the 1939 film known to still exist.

A long-lost dress worn by Judy Garland in The Wizard of Oz has been found decades later in a box at a university in Washington, D.C.

Catholic University announced in a news release that the dress, which was gifted to the school nearly 50 years ago by actress Mercedes McCambridge while she was serving as the drama department’s artist-in-residence, was found by drama department lecturer Matt Ripa in a box placed atop some mail slots near his desk.

Ripa said he had often gone searching for the dress during his free time after hearing about the long-lost item in 2014, but he was apparently beaten to the discovery by Thomas Donahue, a now-retired drama professor, who had placed the box in Ripa’s office before leaving the school last year.

Ripa said the box must have been placed atop the mail slots by someone, causing it to evade his notice until last month.

“As soon as I popped the top off the box, I knew what it was,” Ripa told The Washington Post. “I saw that blue gingham and I just started laughing and laughing. I mean, I’m still laughing. Because I was shocked, holding a piece of Hollywood history right in my hands.”

The school contacted Ryan Lintelman, entertainment curator at the Smithsonian’s Museum of American History, to verify whether the dress was authentic. Lintelman and two colleagues examined the garment and determined that it appears to be the real deal.

(7) SPEAKING OF. “Andy Serkis Is Returning To The Lord Of The Rings”Giant Freakin Robot has the story.

Andy Serkis is going back to Middle Earth – but not in the way you might think. The actor, who has lent his voice to Gollum in The Lord of the Rings trilogy and the first Hobbit film, will be narrating J.R.R Tolkien’s work in a brand new series of audiobooks.

(8) ON THE TUBE. In The Space Review, Emily Carney and Dwayne Day give a very deep, spoiler-filled dive into the second season of For All Mankind“Revisiting the past’s future: ongoing ruminations about ‘For All Mankind’”.

Emily Carney:

Another interesting aspect about “For All Mankind” is that the show includes women as equal characters with equal time in the show’s narrative. That probably owes to the show’s “Star Trek” heritage. But the show doesn’t really start out that way in season one: it begins with the Soviets beating the US to the punch, and shows how the US astronaut cadre responds to this defeat. By this point in the show’s timeline, women aren’t astronauts, so we see the show’s Deke Slayton imploring his men to “get mad,” “kick the dog,” and let loose during the weekend after the Soviet landing.

This is when we get to meet Ed Baldwin and Gordo Stevens, who were just mere kilometers from the lunar surface weeks before. At The Outpost, an astronaut hangout modeled on a long-gone bar not far from Johnson Space Center, the astronauts have an insane, alcohol-soaked party, which culminates in a group singalong to Jimmy Ruffin’s “What Becomes of the Brokenhearted?” In my mind, I think this was shown to compare how men coped with defeat and heartbreak versus how women—in the upcoming narrative—would cope with similar stressful situations. Ed Baldwin even briefly kneecapped his own career by opening up about his frustrations with NASA to a reporter. At any rate, by this point, women were wives and mothers in the “For All Mankind” universe, not astronauts or management.

Dwayne:

Yeah, that’s a good observation. Initially, it’s all machismo. It’s brave men and heroes. But that’s about to change very fast. And that makes the show’s title a bit ironic—it’s not about “man” after the first episode.

After the Soviet Union beats America to the Moon, the Americans respond by landing Apollo 11, which in this alternative timeline, nearly ends in failure. But the Soviets then follow up with another significant first when they land a woman on the Moon. We see one of the female characters—a young Mexican girl named Aleida—smile when she sees that a woman is on the Moon.

(9) MEMORY LANE.

1981 — Forty years ago, John Carpenter’s Escape from New York premiered. (That was how it was shown on-screen.)  Starring Kurt Russell as Snake Plissken, this film was written by John Carpenter and Nick Castle. It was directed by John  Carpenter, and produced by  Larry Franco and Debra Hill. Supporting cast was Lee Van Cleef, Donald Pleasence, Ernest Borgnine, Isaac Hayes, Adrienne Barbeau, and Harry Dean Stanton. The film received generally positive reviews with Russell in particular finding strong favor with the critics; it did very well at the box office earning far more than it cost to produce; and audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes give it a seventy-seven percent rating which is far better than the thirty-nine percent rating the the Escape from L.A. sequel gets. It did not get a Hugo nomination at Chicon IV. 

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born July 10, 1903 — John Wyndham. His best known works include The Day of the Triffids and The Midwich Cuckoos, both written in the Fifties. The latter novel was filmed twice as Village of the Damned. The usual suspects have an impressive selection of his novels including these titles though little of his short fiction is available, alas. The Day of the Triffids is currently a buck ninety-nine there. (Died 1969.)
George Clayton Johnson by Tony Gleeson.
  • Born July 10, 1929 — George Clayton Johnson, He’s best known for co-writing with William F. Nolan the Logan’s Run novel, the source for the Logan’s Run film. He was also known for his scripts for the Twilight Zone including “A Game of Pool,” “Kick the Can,” “Nothing in the Dark,” and “A Penny for Your Thoughts,” and the first telecast episode of the original Star Trek, “The Man Trap.” (Died 2015.)
  • Born July 10, 1931 — Julian May. She‘s best known for her Saga of Pliocene Exile (known as the Saga of the Exiles in the UK) and Galactic Milieu series: Jack the BodilessDiamond Mask and Magnificat. She was inducted into the First Fandom Hall of Fame at Sasquan. (Died 2017.)
  • Born July 10, 1941 — David Hartwell. Encyclopedia of Science Fiction describes him as “perhaps the single most influential book editor of the past forty years in the American science fiction publishing world”.  I certainly fondly remember the The Space Opera Renaissance he co-edited with Kathryn Cramer. Not to mention that his Year’s Best Fantasy and Year’s Best SF anthologies are still quite excellent reading, and they’re available at the usual suspects for a very reasonable price. (Died 2016.)
  • Born July 10, 1941 — Susan Seddon Boulet. If you’ve read the American edition of Terri Windling’s The Wood Wife (which won the Mythopoeic Fantasy Award for Adult Literature Award), you’ve seen her amazing work. Or perhaps you’ve got a copy of Pomegranate‘s edition of Ursula Le Guin’s Buffalo Gals, Won’t You Come Out Tonight which also features her art. If you’re keen on knowing more about this amazing artist, see the Green Man review of Susan Seddon Boulet: A Retrospective. (Died 1997.) 
  • Born July 10, 1945 — Ron Glass. Probably best known genre-wise as Shepherd Book in the Firefly series and its sequel Serenity. His first genre role was as Jerry Merris in Jerry Merris, a SF horror film, and he’d later show up voicing Philo D. Grenman in Strange Frame: Love & Sax (“slated as the world’s first animated lesbian-themed sci-fi film”; look it up as it has a very impressive voice cast) and he showed up twice as J. Streiten, MD in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Oh, and he was on Voyager playing a character named Loken in the “Nightingale” episode. (Died 2016.)
  • Born July 10, 1953 — Hans Beimler, 68. He was co-executive producer, director, and writer on TekWar before co-producing a number of Next Gen episodes. He was involved in over a hundred episodes of Deep Space Nine in a numberof production roles too complicated to describe here. And he was one of the executive producers of the short-lived Dresden Files.
  • Born July 10, 1970 — John Simm, 51. The second of the modern Masters on Doctor Who.  He appeared in the final three episodes of the Time of the Tenth Doctor: “Utopia,” “The Sound of Drums,” and “Last of the Time Lords.” He also played Sam Tyler in the most excellent Life on Mars. And he played Macbeth atChichester Festival Theatre.

(11) TANGLED UP IN BLUE. Janice Marcus spotlights the latest (in 1966) work from oft-overlooked writer Rosel George Brown: “[July 10, 1966] Froth, Fun, and Serious Social Commentary (Sibyl Sue Blue)”.

Sibyl Sue Blue was not what I expected.

Set in the futuristic year of 1990, Rosel George Brown’s Sibyl Sue Blue takes place in a world both like and unlike today’s world of 1966. Sibyl is a tenacious and smart detective working for the city’s homicide department. When a series of bizarre ‘suicides’ start plaguing the city’s youth, she’s called in to investigate. As she follows the clues, she’s drawn into increasingly strange events, from trying alien drugs to being invited to join a spacefaring millionaire on an off-world jaunt.

Sounds like fun, right? Yet when Judith Merril told me the other day that she’ll be reviewing it in an upcoming issue of Fantasy and Science Fiction, she mentioned that “…under all the froth and fun and furious action, there is more acute comment on contemporary society than you are likely to find in any half dozen deadly serious social novels.

She’s right!

(12) JUNGLE CRUISE. Yahoo! shows what the redesigned Disneyland attraction will be like: “Disneyland revamps Jungle Cruise ride after racism criticism”.

…The Jungle Cruise will officially reopen on July 16, with some changes, the park announced Friday. The ride, which takes passengers through Asia, Africa and South America, had been closed since the park itself reopened April 30, after being shutdown because the pandemic. 

The company had announced in January that it would remove “negative depictions” of native people and pledged to make further changes to “reflect and value the diversity of the world around us.” 

The ride, which originally opened in 1955, has been criticized, for example, for depicting the locals as headhunters.

“We’re excited to be building on the story of the Jungle Cruise to include new adventures that stay true to the experience we know and love, while adding more humor, more wildlife, and an interconnected story,” Chris Beatty, an Imagineer who worked on the renovations, said in a news release. “As part of creative development, we’ve also introduced characters from around the world and took a thoughtful approach to ensure accurate representation of cultures in our story.”

Beatty explained in behind-the-scenes video of the upgrade that one of the team’s goals was to “bring a sense of inclusivity” to the project. “We want to make sure that everyone that rides the Jungle Cruise can see themselves in the characters and in this experience.”

They also wanted to keep it classic and to highlight the “skippers,” the Disney cast members who make jokes while leading the faux tour of the area.

As part of the new storyline, chimpanzees have taken over a wrecked boat and the tourists have climbed up a tree in search of safety…. 

(13) RISKY BUSINESS. The Hubble Space Telescope suddenly went offline almost a month ago. Now “NASA will attempt a ‘risky’ maneuver to fix its broken Hubble Space Telescope as early as next week”.

…However, a recent NASA announcement suggests a glimmer of hope: The agency tweeted on Thursday that it had successfully tested a procedure that would switch parts of the telescope’s hardware to their back-up components.

This could pave the way for the payload computer to come back online, leading to the restart of Hubble’s scientific observations.

NASA reported the procedure could happen as early as next week, following additional preparations and reviews. The telescope and the scientific instruments on board remain in working condition.

But the switch will be “risky,” according to NASA astrophysics division director Paul Hertz.

“You can’t actually put your hands on and change hardware or take a voltage, so that does make it very challenging,” he told New Scientist.

…On June 30, NASA announced it had figured out that the source of the payload computer problem was in Hubble’s Science Instrument Command and Data Handling unit (SI C&DH for short), where the computer resides.

“A few hardware pieces on the SI C&DH could be the culprit(s),” NASA said.

Backup pieces of hardware are pre-installed on the telescope. So it’s just a matter of switching over to that redundant hardware. But before attempting the tricky switch from Earth, engineers have to practice in a simulator, the agency added.

NASA has rebooted Hubble using this type of operation in the past. In 2008, after a computer crash took the telescope offline for two weeks, engineers successfully switched over to redundant hardware. A year later, astronauts repaired two broken instruments while in-orbit – Hubble’s fifth and final reservicing operation. (NASA does not currently have a way to launch astronauts to the space telescope.)

[Thanks to Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, Michael Toman, Tony Gleeson, John King Tarpinian, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to contributing editor of the day John A Arkansawyer.]