Pixel Scroll 2/1/22 Pixelled In The Scroll By A Chuck Tingle Pixel Scroll Title

(1) MAKING MAUS AVAILABLE. Shelf Awareness says one Tennessee bookseller is crowdfunding the means for local students to read Maus in the wake of a school board decision: “Tenn. Comic Shop’s Maus Fundraiser Garners $90K”.

After the McMinn County Board of Education in Tennessee voted to ban Art Spiegelman’s graphic novel Maus, about the Holocaust, from its eighth-grade curriculum last week, Nirvana Comics in Knoxville, Tenn., started a GoFundMe campaign to provide students with free copies of the graphic novel.

… The [Jewish Telegraphic Agency] reported that Penguin Random House negotiated a deal to sell 500 additional copies of Maus to Nirvana at a reduced price to give away to students. Actor Wil Wheaton shared Nirvana’s story on social media, and “that’s when it really, really exploded,” Davis said. 

The GoFundMe campaign opened on January 28 with a goal of $20,000; as of this morning it had raised more than $90,000, from more than 2,800 donors. Although Nirvana Comics initially had planned to provide copies to local students, they will now donate copies to students anywhere in the U.S.

Students can request a copy of Maus from the store on Facebook or Instagram.

(2) AFROFUTURISM IN LEGO. CNN Style invites you to “Meet the Ghanaian Canadian Lego sculptor building a Black universe”. (The Official LEGO Shop also has a feature on the same artist in “Celebrate Black Creators”.)

…In his “Building Black: Civilizations” series, Nimako reimagines medieval sub-Saharan African narratives. His “Kumbi Saleh 3020 CE” piece, which is made up of around 100,000 Lego bricks and can be found in the Aga Khan Museum in Toronto, is named after the capital city of a medieval Ghanaian kingdom. The artist explores medieval West Africa and reimagines what it would look like 1,000 years in the future.

Nimako hopes for an “inclusive future” that acknowledges the history of anti-Black racism and how “utterly disruptive” it is, and recognizes the role of Afrofuturism in allowing people to “envision a better world.”

“My wife always says, ‘all movements of resistance are rooted in that imagination.’ You have to imagine the freedom, the emancipation. You have to imagine this struggle being over. You have to project that in order to rise up, in order to resist. What else are you resisting for, if not for that Promised Land?” he said. “Even art is a form of resistance and it’s been used as a form of resistance for a very long time.”…

(3) BEST PUNISH THE WORLDCON HUGO. What do you think about “An Anti-Raytheon Protest Vote at This Year’s Hugos?” Doris V. Sutherland is working to make it happen.

…Before I should go on, I should mention that the practice of nominating short, emotive pieces like acceptance speeches or angry blog posts in Best Related Work — thereby taking spots that could have gone to longer works which took time, effort and research to construct and will better stand the test of time — is itself controversial. My views are conflicted. I would generally agree with this stance (my personal solution would be to split Best Related Work into long-form and short-form categories) but I have considerably stronger feelings about the deal with Raytheon. So, while I would like to see this Best Protest Vote practice to end, I don’t beleive that 2022 is the right year for it to end. I would like to see a Hugo ballot this year that includes an uncompromising renunciation of last year’s Raytheon sponsorship….

(4) LASFS HISTORY ZOOM. Fanac.org’s “Spring History Zoom” schedule is now up here. The first session is “Death Does Not Release You – LASFS Through the Years” with Craig Miller (M), Tim Kirk, Ken Rudolph and Bobbi Armbruster, on February 26, 2022, at 4:00 p.m. To RSVP, or find out more about the series, please send a note to fanac@fanac.org.

LASFS is unique – in its history and impact on fandom. LASFS has a clubhouse, a long list of professional writers that have been members, and has had an incredibly active fan group over the decades. Los Angeles area fandom has produced innumerable fanzines, six Los Angeles Worldcons (and many other conventions). Join us for a session with our real world AND fannishly accomplished participants – convention runners (including a Worldcon chair), a noted fan and professional artist, and a fanzine editor, all past or present LASFS members – in conversation about Los Angeles fandom from the inside.

(5) A READY PLAYER. On Twitter, Ira Alexandre is ramping up the campaign to get the Worldcon to add a Best Video Game category. They foreshadow “a full-length, more detailed explanation” forthcoming on Lady Business. Thread starts here.

(6) PIECES OF EIGHT. Cora Buhlert posted a new Fancast Spotlight today, this time for Octothorpe, which is created by John Coxon, Alison Scott, and Liz Batty: “Fancast Spotlight: Octothorpe”

Alison: I have been wanting to do a podcast ever since the very beginning of podcasts, but it turns out that if you want to do a podcast, you have to find someone who’s daft enough to do the editing for you. Because otherwise podcasts don’t happen, do they? So if you want to run your own podcast the core thing you need is somebody who’s up for doing the editing.

Liz: I didn’t have any desire to be on a podcast, or to start a podcast, or really to do any work around a podcast. But John had asked me “Do you want to do a podcast?” and I said, “Maybe?” And then there was a coronavirus, and now I literally have nothing else that I need to be doing on a Sunday afternoon, so let’s do a podcast! And I am just constantly amazed that we have made it almost 50 episodes, and there appear to be at least ten people actually listening.

(7) KANE ADAPTATION ANNOUNCED.  [Item by Cora Buhlert.] According to The Hollywood Reporter, there is an adaptation of Karl Edward Wagner’s Kane novels and stories in the works: “Action Fantasy ‘Kane’ Adaptation in the Works From Vertigo”. Personally, I’d be happy if there was a decent print edition of the Kane novels and stories available again. Also, my inner pedant bristles at calling the Kane stories epic fantasy, because they’re sword and sorcery.

Kane is very able for producers Roy Lee, Andrew Trapani and Steven Schneider.

The trio has secured the adaptation rights to the long-sought-after series of Kane fantasy novels and short stories by cult fantasy author Karl Edward Wagner.

…Kane’s adventures take place in a visceral world steeped in ancient history, with bloody conflicts and dark mysteries. Wagner wove gothic horror elements into this pre-medieval landscape, taking Kane on fantastic sagas involving war, romance, triumph and tragedy.

(8) ONE READER’S APPROACH. Tika Viteri tells “How I’m Decolonizing My Sci-Fi Reading” at Book Riot.

… One of the ways I am working to decolonize my science fiction reading is to diversify it. White cisgender male authors are vastly over-represented in science fiction, and they come from the dominant gender and race of the English-speaking world, whether they are consciously buying into the narrative or not. A good way to mitigate that narrative is to read it from different perspectives, and those perspectives are usually written by authors who are either non-white and/or not male.

If you haven’t yet read the Binti trilogy of novellas by Nnedi Okorafor, it is an excellent place to start. As an author, she specifically identifies with Africanfuturism, which is a genre (along with Afrofuturism) that has been regularly blowing my mind since I was introduced to it. Our heroine, Binti, has been accepted at a prestigious university off-planet, but her journey is interrupted when her ship is attacked and she is the only survivor. The series handles interspecies biases, what it means to broker peace, and what happens when the fate of worlds rests on the shoulders of one young woman. Reviews are full of phrases like “ground-breaking” and “unique,” and I wholeheartedly agree….

Another of Viteri’s recent articles for Book Riot is “Literary Scandals: Who Was the Real-Life Dracula?”

… [Bram] Stoker famously kept to himself, editing his public image ruthlessly. In contrast to [Oscar] Wilde, and perhaps in reaction to what he perceived to be Wilde’s recklessness regarding his sexual exploits, he retreated farther and farther into the closet, going so far as to say in 1912 that all homosexuals should be locked up — a group that definitely, in retrospect, included himself.

(9) MEMORY LANE.

1971 [Item by Cat Eldridge] Fifty-one years ago at Noreascon where Robert Silverberg was Toastmaster and Clifford D. Simak (pro) and Harry Warner, Jr. (fan) were Guests of Honor with Tony Lewis as the Chair, Larry Niven won the Hugo for Best Novel for Ringworld. It was published by Ballantine Books in October of 1970. 

Other nominated workers were  Poul Anderson’s Tau Zero, Robert Silverberg’s Tower of Glass, Wilson Tucker‘s The Year of the Quiet Sun and Hal Clement’s Star Light

It would also win the Locus, Nebula and Ditmar Awards. Locus would later include Ringworld on its list of All-Time Best SF Novels before 1990.

Algis Budrys found it in his Galaxy Bookshelf column to be “excellent and entertaining, woven together very skillfully and proceeding at a pretty smooth pace.” 

It would spawn three sequel novels with The Ringworld Engineers nominated for a Hugo at Denvention Two which was the year Joan D. Vinge’s The Snow Queen won and a prequel series, Fleet of Worlds which was co-written with Edward M. Lerner. (I really like the latter.) One film and three series have been announced down the decades but none to date have been produced. Indeed Amazon announced this as a series along with Neal Stephenson’s Snow Crash and Greg Rucka’s Lazarus five years ago but none got developed. 

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born February 1, 1884 Yevgeny Zamyatin. Author of We, a dystopian novel. He also translated into into Russian a number of H.G. Wells works and some critics think We is at least part a polemic against the overly optimistic scientific socialism of Wells. The Wiki writer for the Yevgeny Zamyatin page claims that We directly inspired Nineteen Eighty-FourThe Dispossessed and Brave New World. No idea if this passes the straight face test. What do y’all think of this claim? (Died 1937.)
  • Born February 1, 1908 George Pal. Producer of Destination Moon (Retro Hugo at Millennium Philcon), When Worlds CollideThe War of the Worlds (which I love), Conquest of SpaceThe Time MachineAtlantis, the Lost ContinentTom ThumbThe Time MachineAtlantis, the Lost ContinentThe Wonderful World of the Brothers Grimm7 Faces of Dr. Lao (another I love)and his last film being Doc Savage: The Man of Bronze which is not so great. Can we hold a George Pal film fest, pretty please? (Died 1980.)
  • Born February 1, 1942 Terry Jones. Member of Monty Python who was considered the originator of the program’s structure in which sketches flowed from one to the next without the use of punchlines. He made his directorial debut with Monty Python and the Holy Grail whichwas nominated for a Hugo at MidAmeriCon, which he co-directed with Gilliam, and also directed Life of Brian and The Meaning of Life. He also wrote an early draft of Jim Henson’s 1986 film Labyrinth, though little of that draft remains in the final version. Let’s not forget Lady Cottington’s Pressed Fairy Book by Brian Froud and him which won a Hugo at Intersection for Best Original Art Work. (Died 2020.)
  • Born February 1, 1942 Bibi Besch. Best remembered for portraying Dr. Carol Marcus on The Wrath of Khan. Genre wise, she’s also been in The Pack (horror), Meteor (SF), The Beast Within (more horror), Date with an Angel (romantic fantasy) and Tremors. She died much, much too young following a long battle with breast cancer. (Died 1996.)
  • Born February 1, 1946 Elisabeth Sladen. Certainly best known for her role as Sarah Jane Smith on Doctor Who. She was a regular cast member from 1973 to 1976, alongside the Third Doctor (Jon Pertwee) and Fourth Doctor (Tom Baker), and reprised her role down the years, both on the series and on its spin-offs, K-9 and Company (truly awfully done including K-9 himself) and The Sarah Jane Adventures (not bad at all). It’s not her actual first SF appearance, that honor goes to her being a character called  Sarah Collins in an episode of the Doomwatch series called “Say Knife, Fat Man”. The creators behind this series had created the cybermen concept for Doctor Who. (Died 2011.)
  • Born February 1, 1954 Bill Mumy, 68. He’s had a much longer career in the genre than even I knew. And I probably overlooked something. His first genre roles were at age seven on Twilight Zone, two episodes in the same season (Billy Bayles In “Long Distance Call” and Anthony Fremont in “Its A Good Life”). He makes make it a trifecta appearing a few years later again as Young Pip Phillips in “In Praise of Pip”.  Next for him he played an orphaned boy in an episode of Bewitched called “A Vision of Sugar Plums” and then Custer In “Whatever Became of Baby Custer?” on I Dream of Jeannie, a show he revisited a few years as Darrin the Boy in “Junior Executive”. Ahhh his most famous role is up next as Will Robinson in Lost in Space. It’s got to be thirty years since I’ve seen it but I still remember and like it quite a bit. He manages to show up next on The Munsters as Googie Miller in “Come Back Little Googie” and in Twilight Zone: The Movie In one of the bits as Tim. I saw the film but don’t remember him.He’s got a bunch of DC Comics and Marvel roles as well — Young General Fleming in Captain America, Roger Braintree on The Flash series and Tommy Puck on Superboy. He’s Lennier, one of the most fascinating and annoying characters in all of the Babylon 5 Universe. Enough said. I hadn’t realized it it but he showed up on Deep Space Nine as Kellin in the “The Siege of AR-558” episode. Lastly, and before our gracious Host starts grinding his teeth at the length of this Birthday entry, I see he’s got a cameo as Dr. Z. Smith in the new Lost in Space series. 
  • Born February 1, 1965 Brandon Lee. Lee started his career with a supporting role in Kung Fu: The Movie, but is obviously known for his breakthrough and fatal acting role as Eric Draven in The Crow, based on James O’Barr’s series. Y’ll know what happened to him so I’ll not go into that here except to say that’s it’s still happening and damn well shouldn’t be happening, should it? (Died 1993.)

(11) STAND BY FOR NEW. “DC is re-writing all of its major events since the ’80s with a stunning reveal in Justice League Incarnate #4”GamesRadar+ broadcasts the warning.

If you’ve read any of the big DC Comics superhero events from 1985’s Crisis on Infinite Earths to now, everything you know is about to change.

In February 1’s Justice League Incarnate #4, DC’s de facto chief writer Joshua Williamson and co-writer Dennis Culver have re-contextualized the major events in DC multiversal history from the ’80s to now. Although this Justice League Incarnate limited series has been a story unto itself, it continues to move pieces around on DC’s ‘big picture’ chessboard towards another Crisis-level event in the very near future.

Anything more we could say on Justice League Incarnate #4 would be spoilers, so…

(12) THE PANELS THROUGH TOMORROW. Jared Shurin has harnessed the power of modern computing to spew forth the commonest denominators in convention programming since the A-bomb went off. Thread starts here.

(13) MOST POPULAR VIEWS. While we’re waiting for someone to produce Sanctuary Moon, here’s what people are enjoying according to JustWatch.

Top 10 Sci-Fi Movies and TV Shows in the US in January (01.01.-31.01.22)

Rank*MoviesTV shows
1Ghostbusters: AfterlifeStation Eleven
2DuneA Discovery of Witches
3Free GuyResident Alien
4Spider-Man: HomecomingPeacemaker
5Spider-Man: Far From HomeThe Book of Boba Fett
6EternalsArchive 81
7Don’t Look UpGhosts
8The Amazing Spider-ManSnowpiercer
9Spider-ManThe Expanse
10Venom: Let There Be CarnageDoctor Who

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

(14) LOOK OUT BELOW. “Nasa reveals how it will destroy International Space Station at the end of its life” reports MSN.com.

…The plan assumes that lifespan will come to an end in January 2031. But the work to do so could start a year or more in advance, when the International Space Station’s orbit starts to fall towards the Earth.

Because of the ISS’s vast size, it will not burn up in the atmosphere, and so its descent will have to be precisely controlled in order to be safe. Nasa hopes to do so by gradually manoeuvring the spacecraft so that it drops down to Earth.

Those manoeuvres will be done partly by using the propulsion built into the ISS, as well as by the vehicles that visit. Nasa says that it has already examined the visiting vehicles for whether they would be able to provide enough thrust to help with the de-orbit – and found that a number of them do, with work continuing to expand that list further.

Eventually, the track of the space station’s fall will be lined up so that the space station will fall towards what it calls the “South Pacific Oceanic Uninhabited Area”, or SPOUA. That area is known as the “oceanic pole of inaccessibility” since it is the part of Earth furthest from land – and it is so remote that often the closest human beings are the International Space Station’s astronauts as they float overhead.

Nasa will aim for a specific region known as “Point Nemo”, which is not only remote but almost entirely uninhabited….

(15) LOFTY CONCERNS. Here’s something else you don’t want to be under if it drops out of the sky. WIRED’s Rhett Allain is worried about “What Happens If a Space Elevator Breaks”.

…OK, back to the space elevator. If we can’t build a tower from the ground up, we can hang a 36,000-kilometer cable from an object that’s in a geostationary orbit. Boom: That’s the space elevator.

To get this to work, you would need a large mass in orbit—either a space station or a small asteroid. The mass has to be large so that it doesn’t get pulled out of orbit every time something climbs up the cable.

But perhaps now you can see the problem with a space elevator. Who wants to make a 36,000-kilometer-long cable? For a cable that long, even the strongest material, like kevlar, would have to be super thick to prevent it from breaking. Of course, thicker cables means more weight hanging down below, and that means the higher parts of the cable have to be even thicker to support the cable below. It’s a compounding problem that seems essentially impossible. The only hope for the future of space elevator construction is to figure out how to use some super strong and lightweight material like carbon nanotubes. Perhaps we will make this work someday, but that day is not today.

What About a Falling Elevator Cable?

In the first episode of Foundation, some people decide to set off explosives that separate the space elevator’s top station from the rest of the cable. The cable falls to the surface of the planet and does some real damage down there.

What would a falling space elevator cable look like in real life?….

(16) SHIELDS UP! Here’s a clip of what 2021’s Dune would look like with 1984 technology.  Which, if you’re as old as I am, you maybe thought you’d already seen. From the Corridor Crew.

(17) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In “Honest Trailers: The Witcher, Season 2,” the Screen Junkies say that there’s a lot of grunting and deep signs in season 2 of “The Witcher,” but characters are obsessed with how bad they smell (tying into that Old Spice ad!) and much of the series has “a plot line as boring as the phrase ‘elf migration crisis’ would imply.”  The narrator is bothered by the character growth in the show because “I haven’t grown since eighth grade!”

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Andrew Porter, Michael Toman, Rob Thornton, Soon Lee, N., Chris Barkley, Daniel Dern, Will R., Brian Z., Cora Buhlert, 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 Jon Meltzer.]

Pixel Scroll 1/31/22 But It Is The Plotted Truth, That Really Drives You Insane! Let’s Scroll The Pixel Again!

(1) THE BROKEN MIRROR OF NOSTALGIA REFLECTS A FRACTURED PAST. [Item by Olav Rokne.] At the Escapist, possibly my favorite film critic Darren Mooney offers trenchant analysis on the recent phenomena of movies paying homage to previous works that were widely disliked when they first came out. In essence, he suggests that there may be a collective yearning for an imagined halcyon past that never really existed in the first place. “Phantom Menace & ASM: Why Are We Nostalgic for Things We Hate?”

Nostalgia isn’t memory. In many cases, what is being evoked in these nostalgic franchise extensions isn’t anything resembling reality or history, but instead an imagined object. This often involves a crass distortion of the original object, in order to flatter the presumed audience.

(2) YOUNG PEOPLE. James Davis Nicoll has the Young People Read Old SFF panel opine about Vonda McIntyre’s “Wings.” It was a very well-received story five decades ago, however, the reception comes with a bit of static now.

Although it has not been often reprinted, Vonda N. McIntyre’s 1973? “Wings” seems to have struck a chord with fans and fellow professionals. ?“Wings” was nominated for both a Hugo and a Nebula, losing the first to Le Guin’s ?“The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas” and the second to Tiptree’s ?“Love Is the Plan the Plan Is Death”. ?“Wings” is one of two stories about an alien race whose name for themselves is never given. Their world dying, the species launches a generation ship for another star. 1974’s ?“The Mountains of Sunset, the Mountains of Dawn” details how the great migration played out. ?“Wings”, in contrast is focused on events on the dying homeworld, and the relationship of two persons there….

(3) FIYAH GRANTS OPEN. FIYAH Literary Magazine is accepting applications for grants to assist Black writers of speculative fiction in “defraying costs associated with honing their craft.” Three $1,000 grants will be distributed annually as part of Juneteenth every year. Applications for the Rest, Craft, and Study grants are being accepted through May 15, 2022. There also are two other grants. All the grants are limited to prose writers for now. [Via Tor.com.]

The Rest Grant — $1,000

The FIYAH Rest Grant is for activists and organizers with a record of working on behalf of the SFF community, but who are in need of respite or time to recommit to their personal projects. Application materials include a 1-2 page personal statement on one’s history of work or ongoing projects on behalf of an inclusive SFF space.

 Study Grant — $1,000

This grant is to be used for defraying costs associated with attending workshops, retreats, or conducting research for a writing project. Application requirements include proof of acceptance to a workshop or retreat (where applicable),  a 1-page description of the work requiring research, and a 3k-word writing sample.

Craft Grant — $1,000

This grant is awarded based on a writer’s submitted WIP sample or project proposal, in the spirit of assisting with the project’s completion. Application requirements include a 5k-word writing sample, a 1-page proposal or synopsis of the project in question, and an introductory document detailing your goals for the project after completion.

Two emergency grants of $500 will be awarded, in March and October.

Emergency Grant — 2x $500

This is a needs-based grant to assist Black SFF writers with emergency financial circumstances which may be interfering with their ability to write. Emergency circumstances may include but are not limited to threat of eviction, payment of school fees, compromised or destroyed equipment, injury, travel for family care-taking in a time of crisis, or disaster or medical related relief. The Emergency Grant is awarded biannually, once in March and once in October. Application requirements include a 1-page statement detailing the nature of the emergency need for funds and intent for its use.

There is also –

Editorial Grant

The FIYAH Editorial Grant is intended as a stipend for Black editors who have been accepted for an unpaid editorial internship or fellowship at a publishing house or literary agency in 2022-23. Application requirements include a personal statement detailing your editorial experience (or lack thereof) as well as your focus for your professional development and career going forward as an editor, agent, or other industry professional. A detailed critique of a SFF novel or novella you’ve read in the last 12 months is also required. Use the button below to access the application form.

This grant was made possible by a sponsorship from Sydnee Thompson.

Applicants for any FIYAH Grant must be 18 years of age by June 19th of the application year, and writers of speculative fiction. In addition:

FIYAH Grants, like our other submissions, are open to Black people of the African Diaspora. This definition is globally inclusive (Black anywhere in the world) and also applies to mixed/biracial and Afro-appended people regardless of gender identity or orientation.

(4) MAUS CREATOR COMMENTS ON BAN. In the Washington Post, Michael Cavna interviews Art Spiegelman about the recent efforts to ban MAUS. Spiegelman says he is happy that “the book has a second life as an anti-fascist tool.”  The hardcover of MAUS is currently #3 on Amazon and two paperback editions are in the top 10. “Art Spiegelman, ‘Maus’ author, sees the book’s Tennessee school ban as a ‘red alert’”.

…The 10-member board in McMinn County chose to remove “Maus” from its eighth-grade language arts curriculum, citing its profanity and nudity. Now the New York-based author is sifting through the minutes of the board’s Jan. 10 meeting, trying to make some sense of its decision to target the graphic memoir, which previously has been challenged in California and banned in Russia. [Spiegelman’s] conclusion: The issue is bigger than his comic book.

In the current sociopolitical climate, he views the Tennessee vote as no anomaly. “It’s part of a continuum, and just a harbinger of things to come,” Spiegelman says, adding that “the control of people’s thoughts is essential to all of this.”

As such school votes strategically aim to limit “what people can learn, what they can understand and think about,” he says, there is “at least one part of our political spectrum that seems to be very enthusiastic about” banning books.

“This is a red alert. It’s not just: ‘How dare they deny the Holocaust?’ ” he says with a mock gasp. “They’ll deny anything.”…

(5) LOCKED STAR MYSTERY. James Davis Nicoll tells his Tor.com audience about “Five Flawed Books That Are Still Worth Rereading”. One of them is —

Sundiver by David Brin (1980)

…Modern readers will likely find Sundiver (the novel, not the spacecraft in the novel) a bit too much of its era; not in a good way. The treatment of women in this novel makes it obvious that the novel was published closer to the midpoint of the 20th century than to today. The “uplift” which gives Brin’s series its name involves a combination of genetic manipulation and selective breeding, though the humans in the novel decry the way senior galactic patrons treat their servant races. As to the science: Brin, even at the time, must have known that cooling lasers could not work as he has them work in the book. Too bad that many readers must have accepted this as science fact.

However! The novel in hand is not the grand-scale space opera one might expect. It’s a murder mystery on an isolated space craft. It just so happens that I am, in addition to being an SF fan, am also a fan of murder mysteries set in isolated locations. Sundiver was an engaging example of the form—it is hard to get more isolated than a location within the Sun….

(6) FREE BOOK UPCOMING. One of the three books Team File 770 advanced to the finals of the Self-Published Science Fiction Competition will be available free over the next few days. Martin Reed’s novel The Hammond Conjecture will be on free book promotion on Amazon from February 1-5.

(7) EARLY CINEMATIC VAMPIRE. Dutch fantasy writer Remco van Straten has dug up a Dutch vampire movie from 1919 called “Vampire: the Scourge of Amsterdam (1919)”.

 As I looked through the Dutch newspaper archive for information on Nosferatu‘s Dutch premiere for a blog post, I stumbled upon something that I, fairly knowledgeable on horror film history, didn’t know about: an adaptation of Bram Stoker’s Dracula was produced in the Netherlands in 1919, a full three years before Murnau made Nosferatu in 1922!…

(8) FANCAST DOUBLE-DIP. Cora Buhlert has posted a double Fancast Spotlight for The Dickheads Podcast (as in Philip K. Dick) and Postcards from a Dying World“Fancast Spotlight: The Dickheads Podcast and Postcards from a Dying World”.

Tell us about your podcast or channel.

I am involved in two fancasts. First and foremost is The Dickheads Podcast. We are in the 5th and maybe the final year of covering all of Philip K. Dick’s books in publication order. He has over forty novels published and at the time of this interview, we are about to record A Scanner Darkly the novel released in 1977….

On my own, I do a podcast called Postcards from a Dying World. In this show, I do whatever I want…. 

(9) THE PATTON OF SPACE FORCE. Season 2 of Space Force (dropping February 18 on Netflix) has a future where Patton Oswalt is an astronaut but the New York Jets are STILL terrible!

(10) HOLGER M. POHL OBIT. [Item by Cora Buhlert.] German SFF writer, editor and fan Holger M. Pohl died unexpectedly aged 63.

Pohl was a German SFF writer, editor and columnist for the fanzine Fantasyguide. He was the author of Arkland, a fantasy novel inspired by the sword and sorcery of the 1960s and 1970s,and contributed to the multi-author space opera series Die Neunte Expansion and Rettungskreuzer Ikarus. With Dirk van den Boom he co-wrote the space opera novel Welt der Sieben Ebenen. He was a common sight at German cons and beloved member of the German SFF community. I only met him once at the Dublin Worldcon. Very nice guy.

Here are some German-language obituaries: Markus Mäurer, “Holger M. Pohl – Ein Nachruf” at Translate or Die (the blog’s actual name); Dirk van den Boom, “Holger M. Pohl ist tot” at SF Boom; and the fanzine Fantasyguide where he had a regular column. 

(11) MEMORY LANE.

1966 [Item by Cat Eldridge] Fifty-six years at Tricon where Isaac Asimov was Toastmaster, Roger Zelazny’s This Immortal would win the Hugo for Best Novel in a tie with Frank Herbert’s Dune. It was first published in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction in October and November 1965, in 1966 by Ace Books, in 1967 by UK publisher Hart-Davis in hardcover, and later by the SF Book Club with a Richard Powers cover. Three other works were nominated: John Brunner’s The Squares of The City, Robert A. Heinlein’s The Moon is a Harsh Mistress which would win this Hugo the next year at NYCon 3 and Edward E. Smith’s Skylark DuQuesne.

(12) TODAY’S DAY.

January 31: National Gorilla Suit Day. 

Mad Magazine artist Don Martin created the idea of National Gorilla Suit Day for a 1963 comic strip in which a character mocks the holiday and is then assaulted by gorillas and people in gorilla suits. Since that time, the holiday has been semi-celebrated every year by fans of Mad Magazine and Don Martin by dressing up in a gorilla suit.

(13) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born January 31, 1921 John Agar. Between the early Fifties and the Sixties, he appeared in many SFF films such as The Rocket ManRevenge of the CreatureTarantulaThe Mole PeopleAttack of the Puppet PeopleInvisible InvadersDestination SpaceJourney to the Seventh PlanetCurse of the Swamp CreatureZontar: The Thing from Venus, Women of the Prehistoric Planet and E.T.N.: The Extraterrestrial Nastie. Love that last title! (Died 2002.)
  • Born January 31, 1937 Philip Glass, 85. 1000 Airplanes on the Roof: A Science Fiction Music-DramaEinstein on the BeachThe Making of the Representative for Planet 8 (with a libretto by Doris Lessing based on her novel of the same name), The marriages between zones three, four, and five (libretto by Doris Lessing, after her second novel from Canopus in Argos), The Witches of Venice and The Juniper Tree would be a very fragmentary listing of his works that have a genre underpinning. I’m very, very fond of the latter two works. 
  • Born January 31, 1960 Grant Morrison, 62. If you can find it, his early stuff on such U.K. publishers as Galaxy Media and Harrier Comics is worth searching out. Not your hero in tights materials at all. For his work in that venue, I’d recommend his run on The Resurrection of Ra’s al Ghul, all of his Doom Patrol work (and the HBO Max series is based on his work and is quite spectacular), Seven Soldiers and The Multiversity which is spectacularly weird. 
  • Born January 31, 1962 Will McIntosh, 60. Best known for the  dozens of short stories he’s written that have been published in magazines including Asimov’s, InterzoneLightspeed and Strange Horizons. He won a Hugo for his short story “Bridesicle“ at Aussiecon 4.
  • Born January 31, 1968 Matt King, 54. He’s Peter Streete in the most excellent Tenth Doctor story, “The Shakespeare Code”. His other genre performances are Freeman in the superb Jekyll, Cockerell in Inkheart based off Caroline Funke’s novel of that name, the ghost Henry Mallet in Spirited and Clyde in the recent maligned Doolittle.
  • Born January 31, 1973 Portia de Rossi, 49. She first shows up as Giddy in Sirens which would I’d stretching things to even include as genre adjacent but which is definitely worth watching. For SFF roles, she was in Catholic Church tinged horror film Stigmata, musical Zombie comedy Dead & Breakfast and werewolf horror Cursed. She was Lily Munster in the delightfully weird Mockingbird Lane pilot that never went to series. 

(14) COMICS SECTION.

(15) FUTURE TENSE. The January 2022 story in the Future Tense Fiction series, a monthly series of short stories from Future Tense and Arizona State University’s Center for Science and the Imagination about how technology and science will change our lives, is “If We Make It Through This Alive,” by A.T. Greenblatt, a story about a cutthroat future road race, the climate crisis, the ability/disability continuum, and much more.

Slate published the story along with a response essay by Damien P. Williams, a scholar of technology and society. “How heeding disabled people can help us survive the climate crisis.”

Aliza Greenblatt’s “If We Make It Through This Alive” is an immediately engaging story, but the deeper in you get, the more is revealed. And one of the starkest but most subtly played revelations comes near the very end, when the audience is confronted with twin harsh truths: Disabled and otherwise marginalized people are least often thought of when planning for the future—and what disabled people know from their experience of living in this world likely makes them better prepared than nondisabled people to survive whatever comes next….

(16) BLACK PANTHER HISTORY. As Black History Month approaches, Marvel is taking fans on a historical journey, uncovering the evolution of Marvel’s first Black superhero: T’Challa, the Black Panther. Marvel Entertainment and SiriusXM will launch their latest original unscripted podcast series, The History of Marvel Comics: Black Panther, on Monday, February 14.

The six-episode documentary podcast, hosted by New York Times best-selling author Nic Stone (“Shuri,” “Dear Martin”), explores the comic book origins of the Black Panther through conversations with the creators who shaped T’Challa’s journey, celebrates the innately Afro-Futuristic world of Wakanda, and analyzes the larger social impact of the character.

The History of Marvel Comics: Black Panther brings writers, artists, and historians together to share a story that only Marvel can tell. The show features exclusive interviews with notable talent including Brian Stelfreeze, Christopher Priest, Don McGregor, Joe Quesada, John Ridley, John Romita Jr., Reginald Hudlin, Ta-Nehisi Coates, and more.

The show explores some of Black Panther’s most pivotal moments including Stan Lee and Jack Kirby’s 1966 debut of the character at the height of the Civil Rights Movement, his continued evolution through the birth of the Black Power Movement, his time with the Avengers and of course, the launching of  Black Panther’s adventures.

The series will initially be available exclusively on the SXM App and Marvel Podcasts Unlimited on Apple Podcasts. Episodes will be widely available one week later on Pandora, Stitcher, and all major podcast platforms in the U.S. Learn more at siriusxm.com/blackpanther.

(17) PITCHLESS MEETING. Mad Genius Club’s Dave Freer pretty much doesn’t watch TV and rarely sees a movie, which isn’t a problem except in this one way — “Every word you say…”

…It’s a curse because the right way to do elevator pitches to editors was to describe your book as like X movie or TV series, meets Y movie or TV series. Mary Poppins meets Die Hard and have a bastard love-child would be about my level… but I have actually heard it done, with movies I had never heard of (I am sure everyone else had). The Movie/TV tropes and references were plainly so much easier for both the author and the editor, than book ones. It is also plainly popular with readers, who, it seems know much more about movies than I do….

(18) ROAD TRIP! “NASA Vet and Space Mogul Aim to Build 97% Cheaper Space Station” at MSN.com.

…If Michael Suffredini is to get the price tag of the first private space station down to $3 billion — compared with the $100 billion it cost to build the International Space Station — the CEO of Houston-based Axiom Space has some decisions to make about what to outsource and what to build in-house.

… Axiom has tripled its headcount at its 14-acre Houston headquarters to 392, and will aim to get to 600 in the coming year. Recent hires include Tejpaul Bhatia, who helped build the startup ecosystem for Google Cloud, as chief revenue officer.

In order to make money, Axiom will also offer space tourism, though it says most of its revenues would eventually come from companies and industries taking advantage of a microgravity environment. U.K.-based studio Space Entertainment Enterprise, which is producing Tom Cruise’s upcoming space movie, announced on Jan. 20 a deal with Axiom to build an in-orbit studio.

Axiom slated its first entry to space for February, but recently moved it to March 31, due to additional spacecraft preparations and space-station traffic. For its first mission to the ISS in March, the crew includes American real estate mogul Larry Connor, Canadian entrepreneur Mark Pathy and Israeli tycoon Eytan Stibbe. The trip is costing each of them $55 million, according to Ghaffarian. It would be the first private astronaut mission in which the transportation vehicle is also private, according to NASA’s Hart. Axiom contracted SpaceX for the launch, and has become the biggest private client of Elon Musk’s space startup with four missions contracted. SpaceX did not immediately reply to a request for comment….

(19) LOOK, UP IN THE SKY! Space.com reports “The James Webb Space Telescope’s 1st target star is in the Big Dipper. Here’s where to see it.”

…Now that JWST has reached its final destination in space, the mission team is getting the next-generation space telescope prepped for observations. A bright point like HD 84406 provides a helpful target by which the team can align JWST’s honeycomb-shaped mirrors and to start gathering engineering data, according to the tweet….

(20) THE PLAY’S THE THING. [Item by Michael Toman.] Would any other theaterphile Filers also appreciate the opportunity to see this free performance of Jeton’s “The Department of Dreams”? Maybe with a small donation?

The world premiere of Department of Dreams by Kosovar playwright Jeton Neziraj at City Garage, November – December 2019. In this nightmarish, Orwellian comedy an autocratic government demands its citizens deposit their dreams in a central bureaucratic depository so that it can exert the fullest possible control of their imaginations. Dan, a new hire for the prized job of Interpreter, sift patiently through the nation’s dreams looking for threats to the government’s authority.  but finds nothing is as it seems except the authority he serves.

[Thanks to JJ, John King Tarpinian, Andrew Porter, Chris Barkley, Olav Rokne, Cora Buhlert, Lise Andreasen, Joey Eschrich, 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 Ingvar.]

Pixel Scroll 1/29/22 I Cast “Titlificus Uniquify” (With A Flick Of The Wrist)

(1) FUTURE BIRTH. [Item by Jen Hawthorne.] The Atlantic magazine ran an article surveying people’s attitudes toward the concept of artificial wombs.  The very first person to give an opinion cited Bujold’s Vorkosigan Saga for her positive feelings toward the idea of artificial wombs.  “Liberation or Folly? Your Takes on Artificial Wombs”.

(2) UNREAL ESTATE. Camestros Felapton invites you to download the rules, the board, and the cards, and play “Timopoly”, the exciting game of genre domination!

Bored of the pandemic, Tim and I took a trip to an alternate universe. Sadly our holiday was ruined by persistent rain of venomous jellyfish. Stuck indoors, we played the local alternate universe board games (Scribble, Rusk, Eels & Ladles etc). Interestingly, this universe has no games based on attempting to control the property market of a huge city. Instead, the nearest equivalent is a game based on Tim’s attempts to manipulate the major literary award of the popular genre there known as Orbital Fiction.

Orbital fiction is all about stories set in orbit or on things in orbit or things trying to get into orbit. It’s very exciting and includes rockets, moons, planets and orbiting aliens. The major award is a trophy of a rocket that could fly into a big orbit, popularly known as the Huge-Orbit award (or just Huge-O for short).

Timothy’s cynical (and frankly corrupt) attempt to control these awards became such a cause célèbre that re-enacting the events became a popular board game.

(3) HOLLYWOOD IN NOLLYWOOD. BBC tweets about young Nigerian film-makers creating their own sci-fi cinema.

(4) IF A TRAIN LEAVES BALTIMORE. Ursula Vernon is working out some advanced series character math. Thread starts here.

(5) COMPREHENDING THE HOLOCAUST. An analysis of MAUS by Jeet Heer: “Maus in Tennessee” at The Time of Monsters.

I first became aware of Art Spiegelman’s Maus in the summer 1981 when I was 14 years old. Spiegelman had just started serializing the first chapters of his eventual graphic novel in the pages of RAW, a graphic art magazine he edited with Francoise Mouly. I saw a review of the first issue of RAW in The Comics Journal. I was intrigued by the excerpts The Comics Journal featured of Maus, an anthropomorphic account of the experience of Spiegelman’s father Vladek during the Holocaust told with the Jews as mice and the Nazis as cats. At the time, RAW was a little outside my price range (and carried an amusingly daunting blurb that it was “the graphix magazine of postponed suicides”). I was able to furtively look at some early issues at Pages, a Toronto book store, and  fully caught up with Maus by 1986, when the first half of it appeared in book form….

I shared the book with my school friend David Berman, whose father was a Holocaust survivor. David, not at all a comics person, was also very impressed by it, as were his parents. I remember David telling me how much the cantankerous relationship between Vladek and Art Spiegelman mirrored his own relationship with his father. One of the advantages of the book was it could be read by both young and old— later on, David’s nephews and nieces read the book as young teens

(6) SCOTCH EGG. News to me – the BBC has a feature an online Writers Room where you can read the scripts of various productions including Doctor Who. Learned this while reading an article in Scotland’s Daily Record: “Doctor Who fans find hidden Scots ‘Easter egg’ in released scripts from latest series”.

Doctor Who fans have found a hidden Scottish Easter egg in the latest script release from the legendary sci-fi telly series.

As Whovians eagerly await the next special, the BBC has released the scripts for Flux and Eve of the Daleks.

The scripts are available from the Script Library, and show fans the hidden writings behind some of their favourite episodes of the Tardis travelling drama.

In on particular episode Scots actors Peter Capaldi and Sylvester McCoy get special nods as part of the script.

In season 13’s first episode entitled The Halloween Apocalypse, the Doctor and Yaz are captured by Karvanista and face serious danger.

They escape via their trapeze skills, it is revealed their handcuffs were the property of the Doctor, who offered them up to their captor.

The handcuffs are voice activated, but that means the Doctor has to remember which voice was used.

The Doctor wonders: “Maybe I was Scottish when I set these up while trying to break free”, and then orders them to release in a Scottish accent….

(7) THE BARGAIN BIN CINEMATIC UNIVERSE. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] Austin McConnell had to quarantine, and thought he’d catch up with the MCU. But he hasn’t seen 13 of the MCU movies, so he decided to create his own “cinematic universe” using public domain comics of the 1940s.  SJWs will be thrilled to find that instead of Batman, McConnell’s universe has “Cat-Man.”  But who will survive when catman meets Man-Cat?

(8) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

1964 [Item by Cat Eldridge.] Fifty-eight years ago, Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb premiered. Starring a stellar cast of Peter Sellers, George C. Scott, Sterling Hayden, James Earl Jones and Slim Pickens, it was directed by directed, produced, and co-written by Stanley Kubrick. 

It was not the original title as Kubrick considered Dr. Strangelove’s Secret Uses of Uranus as well as Dr. Doomsday or: How to Start World War III Without Even Trying, and the much shorter Wonderful Bomb.

The film is somewhat based on Peter George’s political thriller Red Alert novel. (Originally called Two Hours To Doom.)Curiously Dr. Strangelove did not appear in the book. This novel’s available on at usual digital suspects. And George’s novelization of the film is on all digital sources. If you purchase it, it has an expanded section on Strangelove’s early career. 

It would not surprisingly win the Hugo for Best Dramatic Presentation at Loncon II in London in 1965 with The Seven Faces of Dr. Lao being the only other film on the final ballot.

The film was a box office success as it only cost one point eight million to make and it made nine point four million. Critics were universal in their belief that it was one of the best films ever done with Ebert saying it was “arguably the best political satire of the century”. At Rotten Tomatoes, it currently holds a ninety-four percent rating with over two hundred thousand audience reviewers casting a vote.  The studio on the other hand thought it was an anti-war film and distanced itself as far as it could from it. 

A sequel was planned by Kubrick with Gilliam directing though Gilliam was never told this by Kubrick and only discovered this after Kubrick died and he later said “I never knew about that until after he died but I would have loved to.”

The original theatrical trailer is here.

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born January 29, 1918 Robert Pastene. He played the title role in the first televised Buck Rogers series on ABC that also had Kem Dibbs and Eric Hammond in that role. 35 episodes were made, none survive. As near as I can tell, his only other SFF performance was on the Out There and Lights Out series. (Died 1991.)
  • Born January 29, 1923 Paddy Chayefsky. In our circles known as the writer of the Altered States novel that he also wrote the screenplay for. He is the only person to have won three solo Academy Awards for Best Screenplay. The other winners of three Awards shared theirs. He did not win for Altered States though he did win for Network which I adore. (Died 1981.)
  • Born January 29, 1940 Katharine Ross, 82. Her first genre work was as Joanna Eberhart in The Stepford Wives, scary film that. She shows up next as Helena in The Swarm and plays Margaret Walsh in The Legacy, both horror films. The Final Countdown sees her in the character of Laurel Scott.  And Dr. Lilian Thurman is her character in the cult favorite Donnie Darko.  I’m fairly sure that the only genre series she’s done is on The Wild Wild West as Sheila Parnell in “The Night of the Double-Edged Knife”, and she did an episode of Alfred Hitchcock Presents as well. 
  • Born January 29, 1945 Tom Selleck, 77. Setting aside the matter of if Magnum P.I. is genre, which some of you hold to be true, and in the twelfth season of Blue Bloods which is definitely not genre, he was Sgt. Jack R. Ramsay in Runaway which is most definitely SF.  He recently did some voice acting by being Cornelius, Lewis’ older self, in the animated Meet the Robinsons film, and he showed up as himself in the “What Do You Want to Be When You Grow Up?” of the Muppet Babies nearly forty years ago.
  • Born January 29, 1958 Jeph Loeb, 64. His first comic writing work was on the Challengers of the Unknown vol. 2 #1 in 1991 with Tim Sale. I’m pleased to say that it was in the DC Universe app so I just read it and it’s superb. He’d go on to win three Eisners for his work for Batman/The Spirit #1, Batman: The Long Halloween and Batman: Dark Victory. And he’s also a producer/writer on such genre series such as SmallvilleLostHeroes and Teen Wolf.
  • Born January 29, 1970 Heather Graham, 52. Best known SF role no doubt was Dr. Judy Robinson on the Lost on Space film. She played also Felicity Shagwell that year in Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me. And she was Annie Blackburn on Twin Peaks.
  • Born January 29, 1988 Catrin Stewart, 34. Jenny Flint in five episodes of Doctor Who. She was the wife of Madame Vastra and the friend of Strax, the three known as the Paternoster Gang, who appeared first during the Eleventh Doctor and last during the Twelfth Doctor. Big Finish has continued them in their audiobooks. She also played Stella in two episodes of the Misfits series, and was Julia in a performance of 1984 done at London Playhouse a few years back.

(10) COMICS SECTION.

(11) GUINAN GENESIS. Slashfilm tells “How LeVar Burton Landed Whoopi Goldberg Her Role On Star Trek”.

…Goldberg explained:

“So when my friend LeVar Burton said, ‘I’m going to do the new Star Trek,’ I was like, ‘Wait, I want to be on it!’ And they were like, ‘Okay, chill!’ And then a year later I said, ‘LeVar what happened? Nobody ever called!’ and he said, ‘They didn’t believe you.’ So I said, ‘Let’s call them right now.’ And so we called Gene Roddenberry, and I said, ‘Can we have a meeting please, because I really want to be on this and if you’ll meet with me I’ll explain why I think it’s important.’ So they were all very skeptical.

I explained, I said you know there had never been any Black people in the future, and it was a huge deal for me [seeing a Black actor on ‘Star Trek’] because I’m a sci-fi kid, and it felt like you were talking to me and letting me know it was alright. And I’d like to do that for some other kids. Now, we all know there are Black people in the future now, but I’d like to carry this on. He said, ‘I can’t believe you felt like that, I didn’t know this.’ I said, ‘Well if you watch sci-fi from the ’40s, ’50s, ’60s, you don’t see anybody.’

So he said okay, so he wrote my character, Texas Guinan, she’s based on – who had a great bar in New York in the ’20s – and she greeted everyone by saying, ‘Hello, suckers!’ So we couldn’t do that to the extraterrestrials. But that’s how I got on it, because I desperately wanted to, A.) thank him for giving that to me, because it was a big deal.”…

(12) FOR I AM WELSH, YOU KNOW. “Welsh town to retell tale of how it built Star Wars’ Millennium Falcon” — the Guardian has the story.

In a small Welsh town far, far away (perhaps), preparations are in hand to tell the story of how one of the most famous and beloved movie spaceships was secretly built in an old aircraft hangar.

A permanent exhibition is to open later this year explaining how the Millennium Falcon that appeared in the Star Wars film The Empire Strikes Back came to be constructed from wood and steel by engineers in Pembroke Dock, in south-west Wales.

Local craftspeople working under a veil of secrecy were ordered to refer to the ship as “Magic Roundabout” but, inevitably in a small town, word seeped out.

(13) THE OCEAN ATE MY HOMEWORK. Genre books weren’t involved – this time. “Cookbooks Sink to Bottom of Atlantic After Ship Incident” reports People.

At least two forthcoming cookbooks from acclaimed chefs are sitting on the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean after a “wild and unfortunate” turn of events.

The publication dates for Mason Hereford’s Turkey and the Wolf: Flavor Trippin’ in New Orleans and food writer Melissa Clark’s Dinner in One have been delayed, both authors said, after containers containing printings of their books toppled into the sea.

Publishers Marketplace adds: “The cargo ship carrying the books from China was on a slow course in the Atlantic Ocean near Portugal, likely to delay docking in the US due to port congestion. A storm hit the ship in early January and caused a ‘stack collapse’ in which 65 containers went overboard–seemingly containing every copy of the two books–while 89 others were damaged.

(14) UH, YEAH. CBS News says “Weber grill maker apologizes for poorly timed meatloaf recipe”. Then again, Mr. Aday might have found it hilarious.

Weber picked the wrong day to suggest grilling meatloaf.

The outdoor grill maker apologized on Friday for sending a recipe-of-the-week email earlier that day featuring instructions on how to prepare “BBQ Meat Loaf.”

The email coincided with news of the death of Marvin Lee Aday, best known as rock superstar Meat Loaf….

 [Thanks to Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Chris Barkley, Jen Hawthorne, Tom Becker, Mlex, Andrew Porter, Michael Toman, and Cat Eldridge for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Andrew (not Werdna).]

Pixel Scroll 1/27/22 All Ringworlds Great And Small

(1) MAUS OUT OF SCHOOL LIBRARY. In response to the banning of Art Spiegelman’s Maus by the McMinn County Tennessee School Board Neil Gaiman has tweeted: “There’s only one kind of people who would vote to ban Maus, whatever they are calling themselves these days.” “Tennessee school board bans Holocaust comic ‘Maus’ by Art Spiegelman” at CNBC.

A Tennessee school board has voted to remove the Pulitzer Prize-winning graphic novel “Maus” from an eighth-grade language arts curriculum due to concerns about profanity and an image of female nudity in its depiction of Polish Jews who survived the Holocaust.

The Jan. 10 vote by the McMinn County School Board, which only began attracting attention Wednesday, comes amid a number of battles in school systems around the country as conservatives target curriculums over teachings about the history of slavery and racism in America.

“I’m kind of baffled by this,” Art Spiegelman, the author of “Maus,” told CNBC in an interview about the unanimous vote by the McMinn board to bar the book, which is about his parents, from continuing to be used in the curriculum.

“It’s leaving me with my jaw open, like, ‘What?’” said Spiegelman, 73, who only learned of the ban after it was the subject of a tweet Wednesday – a day before International Holocaust Remembrance Day.

He called the school board “Orwellian” for its action….

In “Maus,” different groups of people are drawn as different kinds of animals: Jews are the mice, Poles are pigs and Nazi Germans — who had a notorious history of banning and burning books — are cats. It has won a slew of awards, including a 1992 Pulitzer Prize.

(2) CATHERYNNE M. VALENTE MEDICAL UPDATE. Author Catherynne M. Valente has contracted Covid and has been tweeting about how she feels, and is handling quarantining away from the rest of the family. She also will be unable to appear in person at Capricon the first weekend in February.

(3) THE GAME’S AFOOT. In the Washington Post, Michael Dirda gives a con report on the Baker Street Irregulars annual convention. “Sherlock Holmes gets the gala treatment in New York”.

…This year, socializing got underway on Thursday afternoon at the Grolier Club, the country’s leading society for bibliophiles. Opening that week, and running till April 16, was “Sherlock Holmes in 221 Objects,” an exhibition drawn from the fabled collection of Glen S. Miranker. Fabled? As I once wrote, “If the Great Agra Treasure — from ‘The Sign of Four’ — contained rare Sherlockian books and manuscripts instead of priceless gems, it would resemble Glen Miranker’s library.”

In display cases below a huge banner depicting Holmes in his signature dressing gown, one could see the only known copy in its dust jacket of the first edition of “The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes,” with original artwork by Sidney Paget and Frederic Dorr Steele, handwritten drafts of four major stories, and even Conan Doyle’s work ledger containing the December 1893 memorandum, “Killed Holmes.” This refers to “The Final Problem,” which ends with the great detective and his arch-nemesis, Professor Moriarty, both falling to their deaths, or so it seemed, at the Reichenbach Falls….

(4) PHILOSOPHICAL FAVES. University of California (Riverside) philosopher Eric Schwitzgebel picks five sf novels of interest to philosophers. “Science Fiction and Philosophy – Five Books Expert Recommendations”.

It’s an interesting conundrum, because some science fiction seems to extrapolate from existing science to a future that’s possible and consistent with what we know about science today. That is, a hypothetical situation that is a plausible, possible future world—or maybe not so plausible, but still could happen. But there’s another kind of science fiction which doesn’t seem to be bound by anything we know about science now—it just allows what you might call magical things to happen. I wonder how the two of them relate to philosophy.

Fantasy just allows magical things to happen. And that can be very useful in thinking through philosophical issues because you might be interested in considering things that aren’t scientifically plausible at all, exploring them as conceptual possibilities. Now, within the constraints of scientific plausibility we can find a second big philosophical value in science fiction: thinking about the future. For example, I think it’s likely that in the next several decades, or maybe the next 100 or 200 years, if humanity continues to exist and continues along its current trajectory, we will eventually create artificial beings who are conscious. Maybe they’ll be robots or maybe they’ll artificial biological organisms. Or they might be a bio-machine hybrid or the result of technology we can’t yet foresee. We might create artificial entities who are people—entities with conscious experiences, self-knowledge, values, who think of themselves as individuals. They might be very much unlike us in other ways—physiologically, physically, maybe in their values, maybe in their styles of thinking.

If that happens, that’s hugely significant. We’d have created a new species of person—people radically different from us, sharing the world with us. Humanity’s children, so to speak. Few things could be more historically momentous than that! But these matters are hard to think about well. Maybe that future is coming. But what might it even look like? What would it do to ethics? To philosophy of mind? To our sense of the purpose and value of humanity itself? Science fiction is a tool for imagining the possible shape of such a future. So that’s just one example of the way in which science fiction can help us think about future possibilities.

(5) WTF. In the Washington Post, Jonathan Edwards says that Peter Dinklage, a guest on”WTF With Marc Maron,” slammed the live-action remake of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs as “a backward story about seven dwarfs living in a cave.” “Actor Peter Dinklage calls out ‘Snow White’ remake for its depiction of dwarves”.

…Dinklage, 52, told Maron he was surprised by what he saw as a contradiction.

“They were very, very proud to cast a Latino actress as Snow White, but you’re still telling the story of ‘Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs,’ ” Dinklage said, adding, “You’re progressive in one way … but you’re still making that … backward story about seven dwarfs living in a cave. What … are you doing, man?”

On Tuesday, Disney responded, saying it will aim to present the characters in a sensitive manner….

(6) POUL AND GORDY. Fanac.org has posted a 1977 video recording from ConFusion 14 with Poul Anderson and Gordon R. Dickson holding forth about a chapter in sf history: “The Way It Was (Pt  1): Minneapolis Fantasy Society”.

This short video features a conversation between authors Poul Anderson and Gordon Dickson on the history of the Minneapolis Fantasy Society (MFS). Gordy, the older of the two, begins with a description of the prewar (World War II) MFS, a serious writers’ group with members such as Clifford Simak and Donald Wandrei. Poul and Gordy then bring the calendar forward with anecdotes of traveling to Torcon (1948), MFS parties, and how the writing community worked in the middle of the century. 

These much loved members of the science fiction community are by turns very earnest, very funny and always very engaging in telling us “The Way It Was”…

Note that this is part 1 of a longer program. As of January 2022, we are working to digitize the next part.

Also note that there are about 5 seconds of disrupted video towards the end of the recording.

Thanks to Geri Sullivan and the Video Archeology project for providing the recording. 

(7) SEE VIDEO OF MANCHESS ADAPTATION. On Muddy Colors, Gregory Manchess posted a link to a video of the stage production of Above the Timberline, based on his story and art. “Watch the Stage Play of Above the Timberline!” (The video has to be watched at the link.)

In an alternate future where the weather of the world has been permanently altered, the son of a famed polar explorer sets out in search of his father, who disappeared while looking for a lost city buried under the snow. But Wes Singleton believes his father is still alive – somewhere above the timberline. Adapted from the exquisitely painted novel, the world premiere stage adaptation is sure to delight.

(8) FARLAND MEMORIES. The Writers & Illustrators of the Future have produced a visual tribute to their coordinating judge who recently died: “David Farland Memorial (1957 – 2022)”.

One only needs to look at Dave Farland’s vast roster of names discovered and nurtured. It is no wonder his keen eye for talent was dubbed “Writer Whisperer.” Dave was an extraordinary individual, a kind soul, and a cherished personal friend and friend to everyone in the writing community. He was always there to lend a helping hand. Dave will be greatly missed. But it is good to know that due to his excellent work and dedication to creating the future, science fiction and fantasy will continue to be in good hands.

(9) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

1999 [Item by Cat Eldridge.]

Captain Janeway: Coffee, black. 

Neelix: I’m sorry, Captain. We’ve lost another two replicators – 

Kathryn Janeway: Listen to me very carefully because I’m only going to say this once. Coffee – black.

Twenty three years ago this evening on the UPN network, Star Trek: Voyager‘s “Bride of Chaotica!” first aired. It was the twelfth episode of the fifth season of the series. The episode is loving homage to the 1936 Flash Gordon film serial and 1939 Buck Rogers film serial that followed film. Much of the episode was shot in black and white to emulate the look of those shows. 

The story was Bryan Fuller who was the writer and executive producer on Voyager and Deep Space Nine; he is also the co-creator of Discovery. The script was by Fuller and Michael Taylor who was best known as a writer on Deep Space Nine and Voyager.

Critics really liked it. SyFy Wire said it was “campy, hilarious, hysterical, brilliant, and an absolute joy.” And CBR noted that Voyager was “having fun with its goofier side.”

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born January 27, 1832 Lewis Carroll. Writer, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and its sequel Through the Looking-Glass. In 1876, he also produced his work, “The Hunting of the Snark”, a fantastical nonsense poem about the adventures of a very, very bizarre crew of nine tradesmen and a beaver who set off to find the snark. (Died 1898.)
  • Born January 27, 1938 Ron Ellik. A well-known sf fan who was a co-editor with Terry Carr of the Hugo winning fanzine Fanac in the late Fifties. Ellik was also the co-author of The Universes of E.E. Smith with Bill Evans which was largely a concordance of characters and the like. Fancyclopedia 3 notes that ‘He also had some fiction published professionally and co-authored a Man from U.N.C.L.E. novelization.’ (ISFDB says it was The Cross of Gold Affair.) Encyclopaedia of Science Fiction says he died in an auto accident the day before his wedding. (Died 1968.)
  • Born January 27, 1940 James Cromwell, 82. 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, 1953 Joe Bob Briggs, 69. 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 non- fiction 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, 1957 Frank Miller, 65. If you’re not a comic reader, you first encountered him in the form of Robocop 2 which I think is a quite decent film. His other films include Robocop 3Sin City300Spirit (fun) and various Batman animated films that you’ll either like or loathe depending on your ability to tolerate extreme violence. Oh, but his comics. Setting aside his Batman work all of which is a must read, I’d recommend his Daredevil, especially the Frank Miller & Klaus Janson Omnibus which gives you everything by him you need, Elektra by Frank Miller & Bill Sienkiewicz, all of his Sin City work and RoboCop vs. The Terminator #1–4 with Walt Simonson. 
  • Born January 27, 1963 Alan Cumming, 59. His film roles include his performances as Boris Grishenko in GoldenEye, Fegan Floop in the Spy Kids trilogy, Loki, god of Mischief in Son of the Mask (a really horrid film), Nightcrawler in X2 and Judas Caretaker in Riverworld (anyone know this got made?)
  • Born January 27, 1970 Irene Gallo, 52. Associate Publisher of Tor.com and Creative Director of Tor Books. Editor of Worlds Seen in Passing: Ten Years of Tor.com Short Fiction which won a World Fantasy Award. Interestingly, she won all but one of the Chesley Award for Best Art Director that were given out between 2004 and 2012. 

(11) THE SOUND AND THE FURRY. [Item by Michael Kennedy.] A Texas primary candidate for the state House got in an uproar regarding a tall tale about Furries. She decided that it was an outrage that some schools would be lowering their cafeteria tables to make it easier for these anthropomorphs to eat out of their bowls—sans utensils or hands. 

This despite the fact that Furrys don’t do that. Or that the schools in question had no intention of lowering their tables. Or that, in fact, it was impossible to do so given the tables’ design.

This is hardly the only tall tale about Furries and schools. I’ll leave it to your imagination (or to your clicking though to read the article) as to what alternative restroom arrangements were supposedly on the table for one school system in Michigan. Or, rather, on the floor.  “A Texas GOP Candidate’s New Claim: School Cafeteria Tables Are Being Lowered for ‘Furries’”

On Sunday night, a candidate in the GOP primary for Texas House District 136, which includes a large portion of the suburbs north of Austin, tweeted a curious allegation. That candidate, Michelle Evans—an activist who works with the local chapter of conservative parents’ group Moms for Liberty and who cofounded the anti-vaccine political action committee Texans for Vaccine Choice, back in 2015—tweeted that “Cafeteria tables are being lowered in certain @RoundRockISD middle and high schools to allow ‘furries’ to more easily eat without utensils or their hands (ie, like a dog eats from a bowl).”

She was responding to a tweet from right-wing Texas provocateur Michael Quinn Sullivan, who had shared a video of a woman speaking at a December school board meeting in Midland, Michigan, claiming that schools there have added “litter boxes” in the halls to allow students who identify as “furries” to relieve themselves. Sullivan retweeted the video, adding, “This is public education.” (It isn’t; the claims made by the speaker in the video have been shown to be untrue.) 

… Similar reports have popped up elsewhere. In Iowa, an unsourced, anonymous report claimed that school boards were considering placing litter boxes in the bathrooms, while a Canadian public school director took to the media to connect similar rumors in his community to a backlash around accommodations that his schools had created for transgender students. Evans’s claim that Round Rock lowered its tables appears to simply be a new variation on the myth…. 

(12) JEOPARDY! Andrew Porter tuned into tonight’s Jeopardy! and saw a contestant struggling with this:

Category: Books and authors

Answer: This feral character raised by jungle animals originally appeared in Rudyard Kipling’s short story “In The Rukh”

Wrong question: Who is Tarzan?

Correct question: Who is Mowgli?

(13) DRY FUTURE FOR SOME. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] With a global population explosion and climate change, both factors will combine to create water shortages in some places (which would not happen otherwise if one or other factor did not exist).  Now, writing in Nature Communications, N. American researchers based in Canada and the US have mapped the global situation.  (Not looking good for SW of the USA.) “Hotspots for social and ecological impacts from freshwater stress and storage loss”.

The most-vulnerable basins encompass over 1.5 billion people, 17% of global food crop production, 13% of global gross domestic product, and hundreds of significant wetlands. There are substantial social and ecological benefits to reducing vulnerability in hotspot basins, which can be achieved through hydro- diplomacy, social adaptive capacity building, and integrated water resources management practices, the researchers conclude.

(14) A LITTLE CHILD SHALL MISLEAD THEM. In “Misunderstandings”, David Bratman says, “A comment elsewhere prompted me to drag out recollections of words whose meaning I misunderstood as a child,” and gives several engaging examples.

*blind spot
I thought this meant you were literally struck blind if you looked in that direction – whether permanently or momentarily I wasn’t sure and didn’t want to find out the hard way. I specifically remember our coming across a road sign with this warning when we were out driving around house-hunting in the hill country, which would put my age at 7. It is characteristic of me that, well over a half century later, I still remember exactly where this was, even though I’ve never gone back to check if the sign is still there. (I might be struck blind!) But from Google street view, apparently not.

(15) A PARAGON. I felt much better about File 770’s copyediting when I read artist James Artimus Owen tell Facebook readers

I have accidentally replaced all the spaces in my current manuscript with the words, “Chuck Norris”. But I’m leaving it in, in hopes that the change will be accepted as one of those necessary, semi-invisible words like “and”, “the”, and “defenestrate.”

(16) VIDEO OF THE DAY. In “Honest Game Trailers:  Final Fantasy XIV Endwalker,” Fandom Games, in a spoiler-packed episode, says the concluding Final Fantasy game has many “beautiful and poignant moments” because “you spent 5,000 hours with these characters in the previous 13 episodes,” but there are exciting sidebars, such as “waiting for a really rare monster to appear while someone writes the entire plot of Shrek in chat.”

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

Pixel Scroll 10/17/20 The Eliot Ness Monster

(1) CARRYING OUT THEIR LAST WISHES. J. Michael Straczynski posted on Facebook today about his all-consuming role as executor for Harlan and Susan Ellison.

… “How do YOU know what the deal is, huh? My guy talked to the executor just yesterday, who told him this straight-up. How do YOU know better than HE does?”

How do I know better? How do I know these are just rumors?

Because I am the Executor of the Harlan and Susan Ellison Trust.

I’ve kept a low profile since accepting this position in order to focus on of the million-and-one details that have to be addressed. I don’t know if anyone reading this has ever been appointed an executor, but it is a massive undertaking. To be an executor is to inherit nothing but be responsible for everything, and to implement the last wishes of those who entrusted you with the totality of their life’s work.

Consequently, ever since Susan’s passing, 80% of my day, every day, has gone into establishing the Trust, dealing with tax issues, creditors, court documents, lawyers, accountants, affidavits, death certificates, corporate minutes…in simpler cases, the process only takes a few months, and usually ends by parceling out bequests or auctioning off the estate.

But that is not the case here, because there is the legacy of Harlan’s work that must be preserved and enhanced. Looking after all this, and seeing to Harlan and Susan’s wishes, is something I will likely be doing for the rest of my life.

Everything that Harlan ever owned, did or wrote will be fiercely protected. Steps are being taken to certify Ellison Wonderland as a cultural landmark, ensuring that it will remain just as it is long after I have gone to dust.

To revive interest in his prose, literary representation has been shifted to Janklow & Nesbit, one of the largest and most prestigious literary agencies in the world. Film and TV rights will be handled through A3, previously known as the Abrams Agency, also a leading and influential agency. I will be working hand in glove with them to get Harlan’s work back into print in a big way.

There is more to say on future plans – much more – but all of that will come in time….

(2) WORD MAGIC. NPR’s Jessica P. Wick promises that Alix E. Harrow’s “‘The Once And Future Witches’ Will Have You Spellbound”.

…Harrow likes a secret society in the best way, and Witches is riddled with secrets, honeycombed with groups working toward overlapping or opposing goals. The Sisters engage in imaginative skulduggery, scrounging plans from overlooked skills and ignored know-how. She also likes an uprising, and here, where witchery and sickness both run deep as water under a layer of oil, that’s heady stuff. We all (I hope) agree women getting the vote was long overdue. Framing the reclamation of magic and power against that real-world struggle, which we know turned out a certain way, feels particularly apt to themes of once and future, poignant to the powerlessness many feel this year.

I adored watching characters as their expectations were subverted, as their understanding of their world expanded. Harrow revels in many-layered mysteries, in a story of many acts, in wordplay….

(3) MAUS ARTIST. The Guardian’s Sam Leith interviews “Graphic artist Art Spiegelman on Maus, politics and ‘drawing badly'”.

…Spiegelman’s success had the disconcerting effect of placing an artist who had been happy in the comix-with-an-x underground – a lysergic disciple of R Crumb – very firmly in the literary establishment. He became a staple of Tina Brown’s New Yorker, a darling of academics, and came to be regarded by many, not without resentment, as a sort of capo of the US comics scene.

“I remember when I first got this Pulitzer prize I thought it was a prank call,” he says, “But immediately after I got back to New York, I got an urgent call from a wonderful cartoonist and friend, Jules Feiffer: ‘We have to meet immediately. Can you come out and have a coffee?’ And we met. He said: ‘You have to understand what you’ve just got. It’s either a licence to kill, or something that will kill you.’”

That comics are now considered “respectable” – thanks in part to Maus – is something Spiegelman never quite looked for. But he acknowledges it has its advantages. “I’m astounded by how things have changed. And I would say I might have been dishonest or disingenuous when I said I wasn’t interested in it being respectable. I love the medium. And I love what was done in it from the 19th century to now. But I know that on some level, I want it to be able to not have to make everything have a joke, or an escapist adventure story.”

His rocket launch into canonicity was both “liberating and also incredibly confining – trying to find places to go where I wouldn’t have to be the Elie Wiesel of comic books”. Even at the time, Spiegelman seems to have been conscious that Maus would be in danger of defining him. The next project he took on was illustrating Moncure March’s jazz-age poem The Wild Party for a small press: “This was going to be a kind of polar opposite [to Maus]: decorative, erotic, frivolous in many ways and involved with the pleasures of making; although it didn’t turn out to be so pleasurable in its third year. Every project I start turns into a coffin.”

(4) MAKE IT SO. “‘I Longed To See Something Different, So I Wrote It’: Questions For Rebecca Roanhorse” at NPR.

… In an email interview, Roanhorse tells me that’s something she’s always wanted to write about. “I have been reading epic fantasies inspired by European settings since I was a child, and while I’m still a fan of many of these works, I longed to see something different,” she says. “So I wrote it. I never made a conscious decision to go in that direction. That direction was simply the natural culmination of my love of the architecture, poetry, politics, and history of these places and people that I’ve been learning about forever.”

(5) IN MEMORY NOT GREEN. The actress says it ain’t so: “Tatiana Maslany Refutes She-Hulk Casting Report: Lead Role In Disney+ Series ‘Not Actually A Thing” at SYFY Wire.

Previous reports that Tatiana Maslany was getting ready to go green may have been premature. The Canadian-born Orphan Black star recently told an Ontario newspaper that she’s not been cast, after all, as the star of Marvel’s upcoming She-Hulk series at Disney+.

Speaking with the The Sudbury Star this week, Maslany tapped the brakes on all the She-Hulk hype, saying she’s “unfortunately” not currently tied to the series. First reported by Variety in September, word quickly spread that Marvel had tapped Maslany to play Jennifer Walters (aka She-Hulk), the comics-based cousin of Bruce Banner.

(6) GAME FACE. Ty Schalter’s “Personal Canons: Ender’s Game” is the latest guest post in Sarah Gailey’s Personal Canons series.

…So why, then, am I putting on my cape and riding out for this book as one that Everyone Must Read?

It’s not just because it remains a beautiful piece of art. Neither is it just because many other great books Card wrote have been silenced by his own inability to let them speak for themselves. Nor is it just because Ender’s Game deserves to be snatched from the canonical pyre and preserved for future generations.

It’s because Ender’s Game is a warning.

It’s a warning to privileged kids like me, who believe they know better than everyone else, when they don’t know how to turn in their homework on time. It’s a warning to everyone who thinks the universe owes them anything, just because of the circumstances of their birth. It’s a warning to a society that will stop at nothing to put itself first, even if that means perverting everything it’s supposed to stand for. Most of all, it’s a warning to authors, to readers, to writers, to the SFF community.

Yes, it’s possible to build a future where everyone can thrive together. Where our stories and our lives are enriched by the diversity of our voices, experiences, myths, cultures, and canons. Where the stories we tell light the way for all of humanity.

But the moral arc of the universe doesn’t bend toward justice by default. It requires constant, collective work with hammer and tongs. It requires pain, exhaustion, sacrifice by those who are able on behalf of those who aren’t. It requires humble reflection on everything we’ve ever done and choosing to do the right thing now, again and again, no matter how badly (or how often) we’ve screwed up. It is the journey of a lifetime, or many lifetimes.

(7) THE LIGHTHEARTEDNESS OF OTHER DAYS. James Wallace Harris surveys the field in “Poking Fun at Science Fiction”, but confesses, “My problem is sarcasm, satire, and subtle jabs go right over my head (my lady friends take advantage of this).”

…Study that Emsh (Ed Emshwiller) painting above. At first I thought it a clever way to suggest action – a woman had been abducted from a space colony. But then I thought of something, and it became funny, But how could it possibly comic? Obviously a woman has been kidnapped by an alien on a colony world – that’s tragic. But if you know the history of science fiction magazines, and the cliches about covers with BEMs carrying off a scantily clad women, then you might think Emsh is playing around. In case you don’t know the lingo, BEM stands for bug eyed monster. Sex sells, even for science fiction magazines. Why did Emsh leave off the sexy woman and lower the sales of that issue? Because we expected a naked woman he thought might be funny to disappoint us. Sure, the painting is of a serious action scene, a man is running to rescue a woman. Maybe even the editor told him, “No babes.” But I like to think Emsh is also poking fun at science fiction (See the section below, Sex, Nudity, and Prudity in Science Fiction.)

(8) FLEMING OBIT. Actress Rhonda Fleming died October 14. The New York Times paid tribute: “Rhonda Fleming, 97, Movie Star Made for Technicolor, Is Dead”. Here’s a brief excerpt concerning her genre connections.

Rhonda Fleming, the red-haired actress who became a popular sex symbol in Hollywood westerns, film noir and adventure movies of the 1940s and ’50s, died on Wednesday in Santa Monica, Calif. She was 97.

Ms. Fleming’s roles included those of a beautiful Arthurian princess in the Bing Crosby musical version of Mark Twain’s novel “A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court” (1949).

… Ms. Fleming’s … last film was “The Nude Bomb,” a 1980 spy comedy based on the 1960s sitcom “Get Smart,” in which she played Edith Von Secondberg, an international fashion designer.

In a 1993 interview with The Toronto Star, relaxing at her California home with Mr. Mann, she said, “My husband recently asked me if I’d seen any movie I wanted to appear in.” She went straight for a specific role. “I said yes, the dinosaur in ‘Jurassic Park.’”

(9) MEDIA ANNIVERSARY.

  • 1980 — Forty years ago at Noreascon Two, Alien would win the Hugo for Best Dramatic Presentation. It was directed by Ridley Scott from the screenplay by Dan O’Bannon off the story by O’Bannon and Ronald Shusett. This would the second Hugo nomination form O’Bannon who was nominated earlier at MidAmeriCon for Dark Star. He’d would win his second Hugo several years later for Aliens at Conspiracy ’87, and be later nominated at Chicon V for Total Recall and Alien 3 at ConFrancisco. A half million audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes give it a horrifyingly great ninety-four percent rating. 

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]

  • Born October 17, 1856 – Jane Barlow.  Knew French & German; classical scholar; pianist.  D.Litt. from Univ. Dublin.  A score of books; Irish Idylls went into nine editions.  For us The End of Elfintown book-length poem; translation of The Battle of Frogs and Mice, title page here; under another name, A Strange Land.  (Died 1917) [JH]
  • Born October 17, 1917 Marsha Hunt, 103. Performer who appeared in both the original versions of the Twilight Zone and the Outer Limits, also appeared in Star Trek: The Next GenerationShadow Chasers and Fear No Evil. (CE) 
  • Born October 17, 1934 Alan Garner, 86. His best book? That’d be Boneland which technically is the sequel to The Weirdstone of Brisingamen and The Moon of Gomrath but really isn’t. Oh, and The Owl Service is amazingly superb! There’s a BBC video series of the latter but I’ve not seen it.  (CE) 
  • Born October 17, 1942 – John Sapienza, Jr., 78.  Gamer (six years in Alarums & Excursions), WSFA (Washington, DC, SF Ass’n) stalwart, helpful con-runner (he was at SMOFcon 7; SMOF for “secret masters of fandom” being as Bruce Pelz said a joke-nonjoke-joke; SMOFcon draws people who often do the work at SF conventions and want to do it better; SMOFcon 37 was in 2019), and lawyer, who found himself marrying Peggy Rae Pavlat, which had an effect like Atomic Mouse’s U-235 pills.  He was and is quite worthy; I said the only way Peggy Rae could have got more sapience was by marrying him.  [JH]
  • Born October 17, 1948 – Robert Jordan.  Best known for the Wheel of Time series, finished by Brandon Sanderson at RJ’s death.  Also Conan the Barbarian books.  Under other names, historical fiction, a Western, dance criticism.  In the Army earned a Distinguished Flying Cross with oak-leaf cluster, Bronze Star with “V” and oak-leaf cluster, two Vietnamese Gallantry Crosses with palm.  His widow continues as an editor.  (Died 2007) [JH]
  • Born October 17, 1950 – Michael J. Walsh, F.N., 70.  Another WSFA stalwart, he chaired ConStellation the 41st Worldcon, three Disclaves including one he couldn’t attend, two Capclaves, Balticon 15, three World Fantasy Conventions.  Fan Guest of Honor at Balticon 29, Lunacon 40, Armadillocon 36, World Fantasy Con 2018.  Fellow of NESFA (New England SF Ass’n; service award).  Publisher, Old Earth Books.  Occasional Filer.  [JH]
  • Born October 17, 1951 – Geraldine Harris, 69.  Five novels, two shorter stories; see her Website here.  Also children’s books on ancient Egypt.  Married name Geraldine Pinch identifies her academic work in Egyptology, from which she says she has retired.  [JH]
  • Born October 17, 1958 Jo Fletcher, 62. British editor who, after working for Gollancz for 16 years, founded Jo Fletcher Books in 2011. Interestingly ISFDB says she’s done two World Fantasy Convention souvenir books, Gaslight & Ghosts and Secret City: Strange Tales of London, both with Stephen Jones. She also wrote with him the British Report aka The London Report for Science Fiction Chronicle. (CE) 
  • Born October 17, 1968 Mark Gatiss, 52. English actor, screenwriter, director, producer and novelist. Writer for Doctor Who; with Steven Moffat, whom Gatiss worked with on Doctor Who and Jekyll, he also co-created and co-produced Sherlock. As an actor, I’ll noted he does Vogon voices in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, and is Mycroft Holmes in Sherlock. (CE) 
  • Born October 17, 1971 Patrick Ness, 49. Best known for his books for young adults, including the Chaos Walking trilogy and A Monster Calls. He’s also the creator and writer of the Doctor Who spin-off Class series. And he’s written a Doctor Who story, “Tip of the Tongue”, a Fifth Doctor story. (CE) 
  • Born October 17, 1983 Felicity Jones,  37. She played Ethel Hallow for one series of The Worst Witch and its sequel Weirdsister College. She’d later be in The Amazing Spider-Man 2 as Felicia Hardy and in Rogue One as Jyn Erso. I’d say her role as balloon pilot Amelia Wren in The Aeronauts is genre adjacent. (CE) 
  • Born October 17, 1984 – Randall Munroe, 36.  Stick-figure cartoons can degenerate into word gags, and the endlessly sour can tire like the sweet, but speaking of endlessness, “Time” in RM’s xkcd won the Best-Graphic-Story Hugo having been updated every thirty minutes 25-30 Mar 2013, then every hour until 26 Jul, in total 3,099 images; he evidently learned Time must have a stopHuxley did.  A teacher of mine said “There’s a sense in which a genius can’t be wrong.”  [JH]

(11) COMICS SECTION.

  • October 17, 1937 — Huey, Dewey, and Louie (Donald Duck’s nephews) first appeared in a comic strip.
  • Bliss suggests the next Harry Potter title.
  • A mega-dose of secret history at Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal.

(12) GRAB AND GO. October 20 will be the day NASA’s OSIRIS-Rex snatches a sample from the asteroid Bennu. Planetary Society has a briefing: “Your Guide to the OSIRIS-REx sample collection”. Click on planetary.org/live for NASA TV coverage starting at 2:00 p.m. PT / 5:00 p.m. ET / 21:00 UTC.

…Collecting a sample from Bennu is no small challenge. The asteroid, which measures 500 meters (a third of a mile) wide, ended up being much rockier than mission designers expected. The sample site is just 16 meters in diameter and surrounded by boulders bigger than OSIRIS-REx itself. The spacecraft must collect its sample without guidance from Earth, since it currently takes nearly 20 minutes for signals to travel between our planet and Bennu at the speed of light.

The entire process takes almost 5 hours. OSIRIS-REx will match Bennu’s 4-hour rotation rate and slowly descend to the surface. To give the spacecraft more room to maneuver, it adjusts itself into a Y-shape, extending its sample arm 3 meters and tilting back its two solar panels. Eventually OSIRIS-REx must turn its high-gain antenna away from Earth, restricting the volume of information ground controllers can receive. The spacecraft figures out where it is by comparing surface views from prior flyovers with real-time camera images. It will back away immediately if it thinks it’s going to crash.

Bennu barely has any gravity, so OSIRIS-REx can’t land. Instead, the spacecraft will high-five Bennu with a cylindrical dinner plate-sized device at the end of its arm called TAGSAM, the Touch-And-Go Sample Acquisition Mechanism. TAGSAM blasts nitrogen gas into the surface, kicking dust and small rocks into a collection chamber that runs around the inside of the device.

OSIRIS-REx won’t overstay its welcome, immediately backing a safe distance away from Bennu. The mission team will take pictures of TAGSAM to verify they got a sample, and later spin the spacecraft to weigh it. If for some reason things go awry, the spacecraft carries enough nitrogen for two more collection attempts. But if everything goes according to plan, OSIRIS-REx will store the sample in a capsule and depart for Earth next year. In September 2023, the capsule will parachute to a landing in Utah.

(13) POSSIBLE BREAKTHROUGH WITH BRAIN INSPIRED COMPUTING. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] A core trope of science fiction has been ‘artificial intelligence’ (AI) from Arthur Clarke’s HAL 9000 to Philip K. Dick’s replicants.  In real life, computer scientists have over-used the term, applying it to things like facial recognition, and so for what SF folk would call AI they call it General Artificial Intelligence (GAI).  In addition to the rod to GAI, there is also the problem of Moore’s Law by which computing power of a chip doubles every couple of years: this cannot go on indefinitely and we may reach the limit in a decade or so’s time.  Chinese computer scientists from the Centre for Brain-Inspired Computing Research, Tsinghua University, Beijing, have just had a breakthrough that is likely to help address both issues.  Their work is rather technical but in essence they have developed a new approach using neural networks. Instead of getting the network to work like a normal computer, they have developed a new computer system hierarchy.  In essence, while normal computers have an algorithm described in software which is accurately compiled into an exact equivalent intermediate representation of hardware — a set of instructions that is then run on the hardware, what the computer scientists have done is develop an inexact, approximate way to do this.  This overcomes the difficulty of producing exact representations in neural networks. One advantage of this is that their programs can be run on a number of different types of neural network.  Another is that while exactness is lost, processing speeds and power greatly increases.

All this sounds very fine, but will it work? Well, they have tried it out with three experiments done both their new way and on a traditional computer as well as a platform, based on devices called memristors, that accelerate neural network function. One, was to simulate the flight of a flock of birds. The second was to simulate riding a bike, and the third performing a linear algebra analysis called QR decomposition.  All worked.  However the degree of accuracy presented by the new architecture depended on the degree of approximation used. For example, with 10% error no bird, in the flock of birds simulation, matched the standard computer simulation. But with 0.1% error nearly all the birds were plotted either overlapping or immediately adjacent to those plotted with the standard traditional computer simulation.  It may well be that in a couple of decade’s time, when you are locked out of your home by your house AI and arguing with it to be let in, you may reflect that the key stepping stone to creating such GAIs was this research.  (See the review article as well as the primary research abstract and the full paper (available only to subscribers and at subscribing academic libraries’ computer terminals.)

Meanwhile you can see a summary of last season’s science over at ;SF² Concatenation.

(14) REPEATEDLY FRAMED. Not Pulp Covers gives Ray Harryhausen a taste of his own stop-motion:

Special effects master, Ray Harryhausen, demonstrates animating a skeleton warrior from 1963’s ‘Jason and the Argonauts’.

(15) VOLUMES OF MONEY. Learn “Why first edition books can attract obsessive collectors and sell for eye-watering sums” at Inews.

Sales of first editions have made headlines around the world this week after fetching eye-watering price tags.

A copy of William Shakespeare’s First Folio – the first collected edition of his plays, from 1623 – was sold by Christie’s at auction in New York for a record $9.98m (£7.6m), hot on the heels of the sale of a first edition of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone for £75,000 on Tuesday.

But beyond the big hitters, there are collectors all around the world quietly seeking out first editions. They can amass important collections that would be nigh-on impossible to achieve if it was art, and not books, they were buying.

… Beyond that, collectors love first editions because they can show how the author wanted the book to look and can be a joint collaboration between author and publisher.

F Scott Fitzgerald, for example, was shown the original artwork for the dust jacket of The Great Gatsby and it influenced his thoughts on the novel. He wrote to his publisher in August 1924, begging them to keep the jacket for him as he had “written it into the book”.

Arthur Ransome so disliked the drawings produced for his book Swallows and Amazons that only the dust wrapper, endpaper and frontispiece designs were retained. He would eventually go on to illustrate it himself.

The Hobbit’s famous first edition cover – featuring a mountainous landscape – was designed by JRR Tolkien himself and is loved by collectors and fans alike.

And Lewis Carroll withdrew the initial print run of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland over the quality of the images. There are thought to be only 22 of them in existence; with such scarcity comes a willingness from collectors to pay huge sums.

(16) A HUNK OF BURNING LOVE. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] OK, so it’s actually a plasma torch, but it does look (and somewhat act) like the “real” thing. “Lightsaber technology has improved in the real world with the help of this retractable plasma sword” at SYFY Wire.

Lightsaber technology has come a long way since Star Wars‘ George Lucas painted some wooden dowel rods for Obi-Wan and Darth Vader. Now people in the real world have actually created the ancient and respected blade of the Jedi — and it’s getting closer and closer to the legit canon construction. The latest evolution involves a retractable flaming beam that offers up 4000° of Darth Maul-halving power.

The latest step in The Hacksmith‘s grand quest for a real-life lightsaber (the YouTuber has been advancing his constructions over many different iterations) involves a retractable “blade” that replaces the super-hot metal rod from previous editions like the protosaber. Now it really looks like the lightsaber blade is extending and retracting, along with all the fiery damage it brings.

[Thanks to Andrew Porter, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Lise Andreasen, John Hertz, Mike Kennedy, Contrarius, Cat Eldridge, Michael Toman, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, and Martin Morse Wooster for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day OGH. Every now and then.]

Pixel Scroll 2/20/20 Rotating PixelScrolls And The Possibility Of Global File Violation

(1) CON CANCELLED. MediaWest*Con 40 will not be held – the pioneering sf/media con in Lansing, MI declares it’s the “End of an Era”. The con had been scheduled for Memorial Day Weekend in May.

…Sadly, despite our best efforts to increase membership to a sustainable level, advance memberships are at an all-time low and show no sign of improving. Even with repeating the function space downsizing we instituted last year, this year it does not appear we would make the minimum number of hotel reservations needed to avoid thousands in hotel penalties. Therefore, we have no choice but to cancel MW*C 40 and notify attendees so that they can cancel their travel and hotel reservations in a timely fashion.

We hope people will understand that this is not an easy decision for us, and that it does NOT mean MediaWest*Con is dead. Rather, it gives us time to consider how MW*C may continue in some form.

Obviously, the myriad causes are nothing new — the graying of fandom, dwindling interest in fanzine culture, technology that makes face-to-face meetings seem superfluous, ever increasing travel expense and inconvenience, and SF/Media going mainstream, to name but a few. All have contributed to declining membership and participation in suggesting panel topics, Fan Q nominations, etc.. Nor are many of these issues unique to us, as other cons have suffered as well with no solution in sight.

(2) HAPPY BIRTHDAY, 1632. Eric Flint posted a 20-year retrospective of 1632 and the book series it proved to be a launching point for: “Tempus Fugit”.

…I’ve lost track of how many authors have been involved in the Ring of Fire universe, and how many words have been written in the series. Somewhere in the neighborhood of 200 authors, and we’re now well beyond 10,000,000 words—of which at least 5,000,000 have been produced in paper as well as electronic format. To put that in perspective, that’s more than twenty times as long as Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings trilogy and sixteen times as long as Tolstoy’s War and Peace. And—wait for it! wait for it!—it’s now much longer than the Bible. (Which comes in at 783,137 words, in the King James edition.)

There are now at least two million copies of the 1632 series books in print. And—this is where grubby scribblers chortle with glee—the royalties earned by the authors have just gone over the $2,000,000 mark. Yay for us!

(3) FOR YOUNG WOMEN COLLECTORS. “Announcing the fourth annual Honey & Wax Book Collecting Prize”Literary Hub is taking submissions.

Literary Hub is pleased to announce that submissions are now open for the fourth annual Honey & Wax Book Collecting Prize, which awards $1,000 to an outstanding book collection conceived and built by a young woman, aged 30 or younger, who lives in the United States.

According to the guidelines, “the winning collection must have been started by the contestant, and all items in the collection must be owned by her. A collection may include books, manuscripts, and ephemera; it may be organized by theme, author, illustrator, publisher, printing technique, binding style, or another clearly articulated principle. The winning collection will be more than a reading list of favorite texts: it will be a coherent group of printed or manuscript items, creatively put together. Collections will not be judged on their size or their market value, but on their originality and their success in illuminating their chosen subjects.”

…The deadline for submissions is June 1, 2020. You can see the full requirements and apply here. The winner will be announced in September. The prize is sponsored this year by BiblioSwann Galleries, and Ellen A. Michelson.

(4) NEBULA ANALYSIS. Cora Buhlert delivers “Some Comments on the 2019 Nebula Award Finalists”.

Best novelette:

Again, we have a strong ballot in this category. G.V. Anderson is certainly one of the best short fiction writers to have emerged in recent years. Her novelette “A Strange Uncertain Light” is also the only Nebula finalist to have originated in the print magazines. “For He Can Creep” by Siobhan Carroll is a lovely little story and I’m happy that it made the ballot. Sarah Pinsker and Caroline M. Yoachim are both excellent writers of short fiction, though I haven’t read these particular stories. I also must have missed “His Footsteps, Through Darkness and Light” by Mimi Mondal, even though I usually read the Tor.com stories. However, I have enjoyed other stories by Mimi Mondal that I read. Finally, I’m very happy to see Carpe Glitter by Cat Rambo on the Nebula ballot and not just because we featured it at the Speculative Fiction Showcase last year. This is the first Nebula finalist we’ve featured at the Speculative Fiction Showcase, by the way, though we have featured finalists and even winners of the Bram Stoker and Sir Julius Vogel Awards.

Diversity count: Six women, two international writers, two writers of colour

(5) SEE THE FRONT OF A BOOK YOU’LL WANT TO READ. Tor.com has done a cover reveal for The Hollow Places, Oor Wombat’s follow-up to The Twisted Ones: “Check Out the Cover for The Hollow Places, T. Kingfisher’s Folk Horror Follow-up to The Twisted Ones.

(6) SHRINKING FANDOM. And I don’t mean it’s getting smaller: Gavin Miller opines at The Conversation: “Fan of sci-fi? Psychologists have you in their sights”.

Science fiction has struggled to achieve the same credibility as highbrow literature. In 2019, the celebrated author Ian McEwan dismissed science fiction as the stuff of “anti-gravity boots” rather than “human dilemmas”. According to McEwan, his own book about intelligent robots, Machines Like Me, provided the latter by examining the ethics of artificial life – as if this were not a staple of science fiction from Isaac Asimov’s robot stories of the 1940s and 1950s to TV series such as Humans (2015-2018).

Psychology has often supported this dismissal of the genre. The most recent psychological accusation against science fiction is the “great fantasy migration hypothesis”. This supposes that the real world of unemployment and debt is too disappointing for a generation of entitled narcissists. They consequently migrate to a land of make-believe where they can live out their grandiose fantasies.

The authors of a 2015 study stress that, while they have found evidence to confirm this hypothesis, such psychological profiling of “geeks” is not intended to be stigmatizing. Fantasy migration is “adaptive” – dressing up as Princess Leia or Darth Vader makes science fiction fans happy and keeps them out of trouble.

But, while psychology may not exactly diagnose fans as mentally ill, the insinuation remains – science fiction evades, rather than confronts, disappointment with the real world….

(7) TRACING A SUBGENRE WITH AN ASSIST FROM SFF. In “The Girl in the Mansion: How Gothic Romances Became Domestic Noirs” at CrimeReads, Silvia Moreno-Garcia, who is about to publish her first crime novel, cites Joanna Russ and Terry Carr as she explains how the Gothic romance evolved into today’s domestic noir novel.

Whatever happened to that girl? You know the one I mean: long hair, old-fashioned dress, with a dark, looming house in the distance and a look of anxiety on her face. She’s most often running from said dark house.

The girl from the Gothic novels.

I’m talking about the mid-20th century Gothic novels, not the original crop of Gothic books, like The Castle of Otranto or The Mysteries of Udolpho. No, it’s that second wave of Gothics—termed Gothic romances—that were released in the 1960s in paperback form that I’m referring to. This was a category dominated by authors such as Victoria Holt and Phyllis A. Whitney, and their covers fixed in the minds of a couple of generations what ‘Gothic’ meant….

(8) TODAY IN HISTORY.

  • February 20, 1955 Tarantula premiered. It was produced by William Alland, directed by Jack Arnold. It stars John Agar, Mara Corday, and Leo G. Carroll. The screenplay by Robert M. Fresco and Martin Berkeley was based on a story by Arnold, which was in turn was based on by Fresco’s script for the Science Fiction Theatre “No Food for Thought” episode  which was also directed by Arnold.  It was a box office success earning more than a million dollars in its first month of release. Critics at the time liked it and even current audiences at Rotten Tomatoes gives at a sterling 92% rating. You can watch it here.

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born February 20, 1906 Theodore Roscoe. A mere tasting of his pulp stories, The Wonderful Lips of Thibong Linh, which are sort of based of a member of the French Foreign Legion, and was published by Donald M. Grant. The complete stories, The Complete Adventures of Thibaut Corday and the Foreign Legion, are available digitally in four volumes on Kindle. The Wonderful Lips of Thibong Linh only contains four of these stories. (Died 1992.)
  • Born February 20, 1912 Pierre Boulle. Best known for just two works, The Bridge over the River Kwai and Planet of the Apes. The latter was La planète des singes in French, translated in 1964 as Monkey Planet by Xan Fielding, and later re-issued under the name we know. (Died 1994.)
  • Born February 20, 1925 Robert Altman. I’m going to argue that his very first film in 1947, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, based off the James Thurber short story of the same name, is genre given its premise. Some twenty-five years later Images was a full blown horror film. And, of course, Popeye is pure comic literature at its very best. (Died 2006.)
  • Born February 20, 1926 Richard  Matheson. Best known for I Am Legend which has been adapted for the screen four times, as well as the film Somewhere In Time for which he wrote the screenplay based on his novel Bid Time Return. Seven of his novels have been adapted into films. In addition, he wrote sixteen episodes of The Twilight Zone including “Nightmare at 20,000 Feet” and “Steel”. The former episode of course has William Shatner in it. (Died 2013.)
  • Born February 20, 1943 Diana  Paxson, 77. Did you know she’s a founder of the Society for Creative Anachronism? Well she is. Genre wise, she’s best known for her Westria novels, and the later books in the Avalon series, which she first co-wrote with Marion Zimmer Bradley, then – after Bradley’s death, took over sole authorship of. All of her novels are heavily colored with paganism — sometimes it works for me, sometimes it doesn’t. I like her Wodan’s Children series more than the Avalon material.
  • Born February 20, 1954 Anthony Head, 66. Perhaps best known as Librarian and Watcher Rupert Giles in Buffy the Vampire Slayer, he also made an impressive Uther Pendragon in Merlin. He also shows up in Repo! The Genetic Opera as Nathan Wallace aka the Repo Man, in Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance as Benedict, and in the awesomely great Batman: Gotham by Gaslight voicing Alfred Pennyworth.
  • Born February 20, 1964 Rodney Rowland, 56. His best remembered roles to date are 1st Lieutenant Cooper Hawkes in Space: Above and Beyond and P. Wiley in The 6th Day. He’s also Corey Mahoney in Soulkeeper, a Sci Fi Pictures film that frankly sounds horrid. He’s got one-offs in X-Files, Welcome to Paradox, Dark Angel, Seven Days, Angel, Charmed and Twin Peaks.
  • Born February 20, 1967 Lili Taylor, 53. Her most recent role was as Captain Sandra Maldonado in the short lived Almost Human series, with her first genre role being in The Haunting off Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House

(10) COMICS SECTION.

  • Incidental Comics by Grant Snider.

(11) ARE WE STILL ALLOWED TO LAUGH? Art Spiegelman reviews SCREWBALL!: The Cartoonists Who Made the Funnies Funny by Paul C. Tumey, and a museum exhibition of Rube Goldberg’s art, in  “Foolish Questions” at the New York Review of Books.

…Now that comics have put on long pants and started to strut around with the grownups by calling themselves graphic novels, it’s important to remember that comics have their roots in subversive joy and nonsense. For the first time in the history of the form, comics are beginning to have a history. Attractively designed collections of Little Nemo, Krazy Kat, Thimble Theater, Barnaby, Pogo, Peanuts, and so many more—all with intelligent historical appreciations—are finding their way into libraries.

Paul Tumey, the comics historian who co-edited The Art of Rube Goldberg book seven years ago, has recently put together a fascinating and eccentric addition to the expanding shelves of comics history.3 The future of comics is in the past, and Tumey does a heroic job of casting a fresh light on the hidden corners of that past in Screwball!: The Cartoonists Who Made the Funnies Funny. It’s a lavish picture book with over six hundred comics, drawings, and photos, many of which haven’t been seen since their twenty-four-hour life-spans in newspapers around a century ago. The book is a collection of well-researched short biographies of fifteen artists from the first half of the twentieth century, accompanied by generous helpings of their idiosyncratic cartoons. Goldberg—whose name schoolchildren learn when their STEM studies bump into chain reactions—is the perfect front man to beckon you toward the other less celebrated newspaper cartoonists who worked in the screwball vein that Tumey explores.

(12) TICKLE-ME YODA? CBR.com scopes out the product: “The Mandalorian’s Baby Yoda Comes to Life in Actual-Size Animatronic Toy”. (And, good lord, the photo at Lyle Movie Files shows a version that comes complete with Baby Yoda’s lunchpail – and a frog! Can that be legit?)

The Force is strong with Hasbro’s new animatronic Baby Yoda toy.

The actual-sized figure of The Mandalorian‘s The Child comes to life with animatronic motions and sounds taken directly from the hit Disney+ series. Arriving in Fall 2020, this lifelike recreation of The Asset will retail for $59.99 and is intended for ages four and up. He also comes with the Mandalorian’s pendant, as given to him by his mentor Din Djarin.

(13) NEEDED IN DC? BBC reports “Human brain seized in mail truck on US-Canada border”.

US customs officers made an unusual discovery when they carried out a spot check on a Canadian mail truck – a human brain inside a jar.

The brain was found at the Blue Water Bridge crossing, between Michigan and the Canadian province of Ontario, on 14 February, US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) said.

It was inside a shipment labelled “Antique Teaching Specimen”.

The shipment originated in Toronto and was destined for Kenosha, Wisconsin.

“Upon opening the shipment, CBP officers found the package to contain a human brain specimen inside of a clear glass mason jar without any paperwork or documentation in support of its lawful entry into the United States,” the agency said in a statement.

(14) CLIFFHANGERS. This week’s Nature includes a review of some key end-of-society books of recent years. “Panicking about societal collapse? Plunder the bookshelves”.

In case you missed it, the end is nigh. Ever since Jared Diamond published his hugely popular 2005 work Collapse, books on the same theme have been arriving with the frequency of palace coups in the late Roman Empire. Clearly, their authors are responding to a universal preoccupation with climate change, as well as to growing financial and political instability and a sense that civilization is lurching towards a cliff edge. Mention is also made of how big-data tools are shedding new light on historical questions. But do these books have anything useful to share?

The upside of societal collapse is that while it may be the end of the world for them, it can help with innovation and renewal, if not there then elsewhere.  Also, even if the end of the world cannot be prevented, learning from past societal collapses may help us soften the blow. 

(15) BE A SCIENCE REPORTER. Andrew Porter advises “Print it out, put it in your wallet! (Put your own name over the one that’s there.)” Was this what he used to get in and cover events for SF Chronicle?

(16) NOT TOYS. [Item by Chip Hitchcock.] Not quite the scale of the rocket built at LoneStarCon 3, but more practical: “Woman solves wheelchair access problem – with Lego” – video.

Rita Ebel, 62, has come up with a novel way of helping wheelchair users like herself enjoy their shopping experiences in the western German town of Hanau.

Rita, who has been using a wheelchair since a serious car accident 25 years ago, has been building ramps from Lego and distributing them around town.

(17) SCIENTISTS GRASP THE OBVIOUS. [Item by Jonathan Cowie.] Horror films make you scared.  It’s official. Shock, horror, drama, probe!!!! Psychologists in Finland used functional magnetic resonance imaging on 37 subjects watching horror films to see their ‘hemodynamic brain activity’, which is a psychologist’s poncy way of what we biologists call ‘blood flow’. (Why use two words when you can use three longer ones).  Different parts of the brain were stimulated when another group was shown non-horror films.  Or in the psychologists’ words: “[Their] main finding was that acute fear elicited consistent activity in a distributed set of cortical, limbic, and cerebellar regions, most notably the prefrontal cortex, paracentral lobule, amygdala, cingulate cortex, insula, PAG, parrahippocampus, and thalamus.”

Their work is published in the journal Neurolmage: “Dissociable neural systems for unconditioned acute and sustained fear”

…Here we studied the brain basis of sustained and acute fear using naturalistic functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) enabling analysis of different time-scales of fear responses. Subjects (N ?= ?37) watched feature-length horror movies while their hemodynamic brain activity was measured with fMRI….

(18) JOURNAL OF THE PLAGUE YEAR, PART N: “It’s ‘game over’ for Sony at PAX East 2020” — note, the Boston Globe story may be paywalled.

…Japanese consumer electronics giant Sony said Wednesday that it will not participate in next week’s PAX East gaming exposition at the Boston Convention & Exhibition Center, out of concern about the spread of the coronavirus epidemic.

Sony announced its decision in a post on its PlayStation blog:

“Today, Sony Interactive Entertainment made the decision to cancel its participation at PAX East in Boston this year due to increasing concerns related to COVID-19 (also known as “novel coronavirus”). We felt this was the safest option as the situation is changing daily. We are disappointed to cancel our participation in this event, but the health and safety of our global workforce is our highest concern.”

In response, PAX East organizers vowed that the show would go on, but with extra precautions to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

“We are working closely with the Boston Convention & Exhibition Center and following local, state, and federal public health guidelines,” the organizers said on the PAX website. “While we are saddened that Sony will no longer have a presence at PAX East 2020, we look forward to welcoming our friends at Sony to future PAX events and are focused on making PAX East 2020 a successful and enjoyable event for all attendees and exhibitors.”

(19) FAKE VIDEO OF THE DAY. The Verge quivers and quails as “This disturbingly realistic deepfake puts Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk in a Star Trek episode”.

A new deepfake puts Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos and Tesla CEO Elon Musk in the pilot episode of the original Star Trek, “The Cage” — and I kind of love it. In this particular AI-powered face swap, Bezos plays a Talosian alien with a huge bald head, while Musk plays Captain Christopher Pike (who is the captain of the USS Enterprise before James T. Kirk).

[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, Chip Hitchcock, Michael Toman, Nina Shepardson, Karl-Johan Norén, Bill Wagner, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, “Orange Mike” Lowrey, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Andrew.]

Pixel Scroll 8/19/19 Click, Click, Click Went The Pixel, Post, Post, Post Went The Scroll

The Dublin 2019 juggernaut coasted slowly to a stop today. Here is a sampling of people’s farewell tweets.

(1) PROGRAMMING.

(2) RIBBONS.

(3) MEDALS.

(4) T-SHIRT.

(5) FEEDBACK SESSION.

(6) OOK OOK. Something from the HOAX daily newzine:

(7) CLOSING CEREMONIES.

(8) SLOW GETAWAY.

(9) COMPLETE AND UNINTERRUPTED. Ada Palmer, whose Campbell presenter speech was interrupted by absurdities appearing in the closed captioning behind her, has posted the text online: “2019 Campbell Speech + Refugee Charity Fundraiser”. This excerpt comes from the post’s introduction –

…I hope I find a video somewhere so I too can enjoy such disasters as “dog mechanism” for “dogmatic” and “Bored of the Rings and Cream of Thrown” for Lord of the Rings & Game of Thrones. More seriously, it was a great honor to speak again at this year’s Worldcon, and I couldn’t be more proud of Jeannette Ng‘s courageous acceptance speech, bringing attention to the crisis and violence happening right now in her home city of Hong Kong, and to the great responsibility we in the science fiction and fantasy community have to make sure that the theme of empire–which has numerous positive depictions in genre literature from space empires to the returns of kings–does not end up celebrating the dangerous, colonial, and autocratic faces of empire, and that as we explore empire in our work (including in my own work) we do so in ways which examine empire’s problems and advance versions of empire which reverse or rehabilitate it, and which affirm the greater values of free-determination, autonomy, and human dignity.

(10) GROWING UP. In an article for the September WIRED, “We Can Be Heroes: How the Nerds Are Reinventing Pop Culture”, Laurie Penny discusses how fandom–and, specifically, writing Harry Potter fan fiction–led her to a writing career, including stints as a writer for Joss Whedon’s HBO show “the Nevers” and “The Haunting of Bly Manor.”

But fandom also helped me meet people unlike myself, and that was just as important.  There comes a time in the life of very lonely, misunderstood, intelligent child of privilege when they must confront the fact that being intelligent, lonely, and misunderstood is not the worst thing that can befall a person, that some people have a great deal more to contend with on top of being an unsalvageable dweeb.  I was and remain a clueless Caucasian shut-in with a lot to learn, but that part of my education started when I began following fans and creators of color.  My first real friends who weren’t white lived thousands of miles away, and I knew them through jerky avatars and punnish screen names and an exhaustive knowledge of Tolkien lore.  I educated myself with the articles and books they linked to.  There were long, torturous flame wars.  I listened.  I took notes.”

(11) MORE ABOUT HUGO LOSERS PARTY. Marguerite Kenner pursued more information about why there were problems (Hugo finalists who couldn’t get in when they arrived). Thread starts here.

Ada Palmer also pointed out the effect on people with accessibility needs:

(12) ADMIRING UNCANNY. Their local newspaper covered the Hugo won by Lynne and Michael Thomas’ Uncanny Magazine in the Semiprozine category: “Urbana-based Uncanny Magazine lands another rocket at Hugo Awards”. Jim Meadows sent the link with a note: “Of course, you already know who the Hugo winners are, but I thought I’d pass along the local coverage from the Champaign-Urbana area, where the Thomases now live. Uncanny has received local coverage before, and I’m impressed by the degree of media support it gets in the area. I don’t think this would have happened to this degree a few decades ago, but even a print version of Uncanny would have been more difficult to do a few decades ago.” The article appeared on the website of the (Champaign, IL) News-Gazette on Sunday evening, and appeared on the front page (below the fold) of the paper’s print edition on Monday morning.

(13) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born August 19, 1807 Jane C. Loudon. A very early SF writer as her novel, The Mummy!: A Tale of the Twenty-Second Century, was published in 1827. If you’d like to read it, the Internet Archive has it available. (Died 1858.)
  • Born August 19, 1893 Hans Waldemar Wessolowski. An artist best remembered for his cover art for pulp magazines like Amazing Stories, Astounding Stories, Clues and Strange Tales. Wesso was the name most commonly cited wherever his art is given credit. Wesso painted all 34 covers of the Clayton Magazines Astounding Stories from January 1930 to March 1933.  (Died 1947.)
  • Born August 19, 1921 Gene Roddenberry. Oh, you know who he is. But did you know he wrote a lot of scripts for Have Gun – Will Travel? Indeed, his script for the show, “Helen of Abajinian” would win the Writer’s Guild of America award for Best Teleplay in 1958. (Died 1991.)
  • Born August 19, 1950 Mary Doria Russell, 69. The Sparrow series, The Sparrow and its sequel Children of God, are awesome. The Sparrow won the Arthur C. Clarke, BSFA, and Tiptree Awards, and it was the reason she won the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer. 
  • Born August 19, 1950 Jill St. John, 69. She’s best remembered as Tiffany Case, the Bond girl in  Diamonds Are Forever. She was the first American to play a Bond girl. She shows in The Batman in “Smack in the Middle” and “Hi Diddle Riddle” as Molly. And she played Jennifer Holmes in the 1960 film version of The Lost World. Fascinatingly, she’s an uncredited  dancer on Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In
  • Born August 19, 1952 Jonathan Frakes, 67. Best known for his portrayal of Commander William T. Riker in  Next Gen though I’m fond of his voicing David Xanatos on the Gargoyles series. Interesting bit of trivia: For a time in the Seventies, he worked for Marvel Comics at cons as Captain America.
  • Born August 19, 1988 Veronica Roth, 31. She’s best known for her Divergent trilogy, consisting of Divergent, Insurgent, and Allegiant; and also  Four: A Divergent Collection. The first two were made into films, a proposed series was cancelled.

(14) HIVES. LAist’s selections as “LA’s Coolest, Weirdest, Most Immersive Themed Bars” tilts heavily towards genre. For example —

Scum & Villainy

Theme: A Star Wars-inspired bar for geeks

Obi-Wan Kenobi promised a young Luke Skywalker that he would “never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy” than the Mos Eisley Spaceport. This Hollywood Boulevard bar does its best to top the cantina where Han shot first, complete with war room-style maps and customers milling about in their best First Order cosplay. It wouldn’t be accurate to say Scum & Villainy is only a Star Wars bar. All fandoms are welcome at weekly game nights, karaoke, trivia contests and occasional cosplay evenings. Leading up to the final season of Game of Thrones, it transformed into Fire & Ice Tavern, with a sad-faced Weirwood tree, an Iron Throne and Stark and Targaryen sigils. As for the menu, expect beer, themed cocktails and bar bites such as quesadillas, tots and chicken fingers, which were one of Greedo’s favorite snacks, as any real Star Wars fan knows.
6377 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood. 424-501-4229.

(15) LUNCHTIME, AND YOU’RE IT. A Yahoo! reporter shares “What it’s like to see a blinking, breathing ‘Jurassic World’ dinosaur up close” on the Jurassic World Live Tour.

It’s actually not the teeth that get your attention first. 

It’s the eyes.

The velociraptor’s yellow eyeballs don’t exactly look at you but through you, a soul-piercing kind of stare that suggests she’s wondering just how salty your skin tastes.

At least that’s how I feel when I’m stalked by one of the dinosaur puppets from the Jurassic World Live Tour, a traveling stage show that arrives in dozens of U.S. arenas starting Sept. 26 in Columbus, Ohio, and runs through 2020. 

My raptor encounter takes place in a nondescript building that looks like a dentist’s office and smells like freshly baked bread. The first clue that I’m in the right location (which is located next to a bakery): A sign on a door that reads “DINOSAUR CROSSING.” I walk inside, and it turns out to be a portal to the Jurassic era where dinosaurs roam.

(16) VERSUS TROLLS. NPR tells how “Trolled Online, Women In Politics Fight To Hold Big Tech Accountable In The U.K.”

Lisa Cameron is a member of the British Parliament. She’s also a victim, and survivor, of online trolls.

Cameron was new to politics in 2015, when she was elected in East Kilbride, Scotland. She’d been a clinical psychologist, a wife, a mom, and a trade union representative — the kind of political newcomer democracies want to run for office.

But the sludge of the Internet began to attack her — and not just for her policy stances. Her inbox, Facebook and Twitter accounts filled with insults about her appearance, rape fantasies, pictures of decapitated bodies, threats to her family, and anti-Semitic slurs (Cameron is Jewish).

Cameron’s #MeToo story — and those of her female colleagues in Parliament — has helped usher in a new era in the United Kingdom: digital assault is understood as a real threat, one that is pushing the government to hold tech giants accountable for their role as hosts to these attacks.

Cameron says the ugliness got to her. “It makes you question whether you are doing something wrong in your job, whether politics is right for you.” She also wondered if running was unfair to her two children.

Then, a horrific attack — not against her, but against a female colleague who was sworn into Parliament in the same class — changed the conversation for Cameron, and for the entire country.

In 2016, Member of Parliament Jo Cox was gunned down and stabbed on the streets by a white supremacist. According to prosecutors, he was radicalized on the Internet, where he viewed Nazi materials and, on the eve of the attack, researched right-wing politicians and the Ku Klux Klan. The motive appeared to be policy-oriented. The killer was pro-Brexit. And Cox, a member of the Labour Party, wanted Britain to stay in the European Union. But some believed she was targeted because she was a woman.

The Prime Minister’s office reached out to men and women in Parliament to ask if they had been intimidated online. The final report, published in December 2017, coincided with the rise of the #MeToo movement in the United States. U.K. regulators didn’t set out to spotlight female leaders. But they did, because women had horrific anecdotes to share.

(17) SUPER-RESISTANCE. Art Spiegelman, in “Art Spiegelman: golden age superheroes were shaped by the rise of fascism” in The Guardian, is a discussion about the rise of superheroes in the late 1930s. 

…In late 1940, over a year before Pearl Harbor, while the Nazis were Blitzkrieging London, Simon, an entrepreneurial freelancer for Funnies, Inc, was hired by Goodman to write, draw and edit for him directly. Simon showed him the cover concept for a new superhero that he and Kirby had dreamed up – a hero dressed like an American flag with giant biceps and abs of steel has just burst into Nazi headquarters and knocked Hitler over with a haymaker to the jaw. Goodman began to tremble, knowing what an impact this book would make and remained anxious until the first issue of Captain America, dated March 1941, landed on the stands. Goodman had been terrified that someone might assassinate Hitler before the comic book came out!

Captain America was a recruiting poster, battling against the real Nazi super-villains while Superman was still fighting cheap gunsels, strike breakers, greedy landlords and Lex Luthor – and America was still equivocating about entering the conflict at all. No wonder Simon and Kirby’s comic book became an enormous hit, selling close to a million copies a month throughout the war….

A related article explains that this piece was originally written as an introduction to a Folio Society collection of classic Marvel comics but Spiegelman withdrew it because he had a reference to “an Orange Skull haunts America” in a discussion of the Red Skull and Marvel found this unacceptable.(“Spiegelman’s Marvel essay ‘refused publication for Orange Skull Trump dig’”).

(18) KILLING JOKE. The BBC covers “Edinburgh Fringe funniest joke: Vegetable gag wins top prize” and the also-rans. No, I don’t know what “florets” is a sound-alike to; anyone alse to enlighten me?

A joke about vegetables has made it to the top of the menu as this year’s funniest at the Edinburgh Fringe.

Swedish comedian Olaf Falafel has won Dave’s “Funniest Joke of The Fringe” award with the niche culinary pun.

He took the title with the gag: “I keep randomly shouting out ‘Broccoli’ and ‘Cauliflower’ – I think I might have florets”.

It is from Falafel’s show It’s One Giant Leek For Mankind at the Pear Tree.

In its 12th year, the prize rewards the funniest one-liner to grace the venues of the festival and celebrates the pool of talent the Fringe has to offer.

(19) TALK TO ABOUT THE HAND. Something CoNZealand-goers won’t have to travel to see: “‘Nightmare’ hand statue looms over New Zealand city”.

A giant hand which has been described as a “Lovecraftian nightmare come to life” has been lifted into place atop Wellington’s City Gallery in New Zealand.

Ronnie van Hout’s “Quasi” installation was carried by helicopter to its new home on Monday overlooking the city’s civic centre.

The artwork, which was created in 2016, originally stood on top of the Christchurch Art Gallery. It is on loan to Wellington, where it will stand for the next three to four years.

The operation has cost NZ$74,000 (US$47,000; £39,000), which includes transportation, designing the hoist, and “Wellington-proofing” the hand against the local elements, Stuff news website reports.

The relocation of the five-metre tall (16 feet) sculpture, which weighs 400kg (880 pounds), has stirred up a mixture of revulsion and civic pride in New Zealand’s capital.

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