(1) THE HORN BLOWS AT MIDNIGHT. “SAG-AFTRA Strike Called as Studio Talks Collapse” – The Hollywood Reporter says the actors strike begins at midnight tonight.
… SAG-AFTRA’s National Board officially called a strike Thursday against major film and television companies as contract talks with studios and streamers broke down without a deal on July 12. The work stoppage will impact 160,000 union members and begin at midnight tonight….
…The last of the major entertainment unions to enter labor negotiations with entertainment companies in the spring and summer of this year, SAG-AFTRA walked into their talks with the AMPTP on June 7 with a strike authorization vote in hand. Responding to an especially tight time frame in which to negotiate their sprawling TV/theatrical contracts (their current pact initially expired June 30, then was extended to July 12), nearly 98 percent of voting members of the union authorized their leaders to call a strike if deemed necessary….
(2) STRIKE NUKES OPPENHEIMER PREMIERE. “Oppenheimer Cast Walks Out of UK Premiere as SAG-AFTRA Strike Begins” CBR.com.
The cast of Christopher Nolan’s Oppenheimer has walked out of the film’s UK premiere in solidarity with the actor’s union, SAG-AFTRA, following its call to strike.
“We talked about it,” [Matt] Damon told Variety on the red carpet. “Look, if it’s called now, everyone’s going to walk obviously in solidarity … Once the strike is officially called, [we’re walking]. That’s why we moved this [red carpet] up because we know the second it’s called, we’re going home.” Damon also revealed the results of SAG-AFTRA’s vote to strike, with 98% of its membership in favor of the move….
(3) HOW ACTORS STRIKE AFFECTS SDCC. “’Good Omens,’ ‘That ’70s Show,’ & More Cancel SDCC Panels Amid SAG Strike” reports Collider.
San Diego Comic-Con is going to look pretty different this year, as SAG-AFTRA has officially begun its strike. As the actors join the writers on the picket lines for better pay, conditions, and benefits, much of the industry has come to a halt without many of its key people. With the SAG-AFTRA strike now happening, it means actors cannot promote their current or future projects – including anything that was originally planned for Comic-Con. Thus, panels are already being cancelled for the event happening next week….
(4) YOU’LL BE CRYING A RIVER IF YOU FALL FOR THESE. Victoria Strauss warns about “How Scammers Are Using Amazon and Amazon Trademarks to Rip Writers Off” at Writer Beware.
In the past year or so, I’ve noticed an upsurge in scams that employ the Amazon name, or the names of Amazon trademarks, to try and trick hopeful writers into believing they are working with a company affiliated with Amazon, or even with Amazon itself.
As is common with scams these days, many of these questions come from writers who’ve been solicited via email or phone (you can see one such story here)–but also from writers looking to self-publish, who googled “self publishing” or “Amazon self-publishing” or “KDP publishing” or a similar search term.
Right at the top of such searches are sponsored links purchased by Amazon fakers….
… All four sponsored links are scams (see the list at the bottom of this post). The real Amazon KDP is down there at #5.
Some Amazon fakers use Amazon-ish logos, the better to further the illusion….
(5) THE OUTER LIMITS OF TAYLOR SWIFT. [Item by Rogers Cadenhead.] If you’ve been waiting for the day that your love of science fiction and Taylor Swift intersected, it has arrived.
Some pressings of the vinyl release of Swift’s album Speak Now contain not the stylings of the centillion-selling chanteuse, but instead the industrial electronic band Cabaret Voltaire sampling the 1960s TV series Outer Limits on their 1992 song “Soul Vine (70 Billion People).” “’This is so creepy!’: the Taylor Swift vinyl haunted by Britain’s weirdest musicians” in the Guardian.
Rachel Hunter, a TikTok user who played the not-so-swift album, told the Guardian, “I thought maybe the vinyl had some sort of special message. Because Taylor does that sort of thing. This voice was saying strange things about flesh and anxiety. I was like: This is weird. I thought maybe the other side would be less strange but I flipped it over and, no, it only got weirder.”
All was not lost. Instead of seeing red, the Swiftie shook it off. “I was like: this is so creepy,” she said. “But when the beat kicks in I was like: this is a vibe.”
Cabaret Voltaire’s song samples the Outer Limits line “the 70 billion people of Earth — where are they hiding?”, which was written by Harlan Ellison in the acclaimed 1964 episode “Demon With a Glass Hand.” (See “Samples of The Outer Limits (1963) – The 70 Billion People of Earth, Where Are They Hiding?” at WhoSampled.)
Hunter’s copy is the only one known to contain this mistake, but there may be others. Fun fact: “Studies show that around half of the vinyl released bought isn’t actually played, so there’s a chance there are more in circulation unbeknown to owners.”
(6) AMAZING PLANS CENTENARY BLOWOUT. Amazing Stories will be 100 three years from now. They are working on the party now: “100 Years of Science Fiction Celebration”.
The Publishers of Amazing Stories magazine and the Producers of RavenCon announce a partnership to produce the most exciting event to hit the Science Fiction World since the Moon Landing!
On March 10th of 1926, the world’s first magazine devoted exclusively to the publication of Science Fiction – Amazing Stories – was released to newstands, and the world just hasn’t been the same!
…You can’t live in this world without being touched by Science Fiction’s influence. And now you have the unprecedented opportunity to join your fellow Fans in celebrating the first 100 Years of the Science Fiction Age!
RavenCon, a Virginia-based, traditional Science Fiction Convention has partnered with Experimenter to host the in-person celebration at RavenCon 19, April 2026. RavenCon is a well-respected and long-running, traditional, Fan-run con, making it a perfect choice for a celebration of the magazine that started it all, the Fandom that supported it all, and the genre that we all love!
…Lists of potential guests, special events, displays and programming subjects are currently being created, as is merchandise and crowdfunding platforms to help us make this the biggest, most exciting and out of this world celebration of Science Fiction that the world has ever seen!
If you are interested in any aspect of this event – be it attending, volunteering, offering a presentation, appearing as a guest (virtual or in person), hosting a local Slan Shack party, joining the quest to recover the Enchanted Duplicator, donating Lime Jello, or even seeking to be appointed the event’s Official David Kyle so you can tell everyone where to sit, sign up for our mailing list at www.RavenCon.com or www.AmazingStories.com.
(7) THEY MUST BE HERE SOMEPLACE. To continue a topic opened in comments the other day — Fansided published a list of the “Most sold Amazon books last week”. See how many men you can find among the 20 best sellers.
Most sold Amazon books last week
- Fourth Wing by Rebecca Yarros (–)
- The Covenant of Water by Abraham Verghese (+1)
- Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus (-1)
- The Five-Star Weekend by Elin Hilderbrand (–)
- Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling (reentry)
- The Housemaid by Freida McFadden (-1)
- It Ends with Us by Colleen Hoover (+6)
- Demon Copperhead by Barbara Kingsolver (-1)
- Happy Place by Emily Henry (-3)
- Never Lie by Freida McFadden (-2)
- Too Late by Colleen Hoover (new addition)
- Haunting Adeline by H.D. Carlton (-2)
- Wool by Hugh Howey (new addition)
- A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas (+1)
- Verity by Colleen Hoover (-3)
- It Starts with Us by Colleen Hoover (+1)
- The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid (–)
- The Housemaid’s Secret by Freida McFadden (-2)
- Iron Flame by Rebecca Yarros (-10)
- Hello Beautiful by Ann Napolitano (-6)
(8) THE KEY TO ASCII. [Item by Bruce D. Arthurs.] “About ASCII Art and JGS Font” at Velvetyne Type Foundry explains JGS, a free typefont designed to better facilitate the creation of “ASCII art”, like the “typewriter art” that occasionally appeared in fanzines of our own era. It includes a rundown on the history of art and decoration created with printers type and elements, typewriters, computer keyboards, etc.
…It isn’t that simple to explain what ASCII Art means. More than defining a well-established practice, ASCII Art blurs the habitual distinction between image and text, in the art world, and between “graphic interface” and “text mode,” in the informatics domain.
Strictly speaking, the expression designates pictures composed by using the 128 characters contained in the American Standard Code for Information Interchange (shortened as ASCII). Even if the terms “Text Art” or “Textmode Art” are also used, “ASCII Art” or just “ASCII” has become a way of naming all pictures produced with the help of typographic elements. In 1999, in The History of ASCII (text) Art, Joan G. Stark describes ASCII in the following way:
They are “non-graphical graphics”. Its palette is limited to the symbols and characters that you have available to you on your computer keyboard….
And here’s a link to the download page for the JGS font for anyone who wants to try it out.
(9) MEMORY LANE.
2011 – [Written by Cat Eldridge from a choice by Mike Glyer.]
My favorite work by Jo Walton is the Small Change series, not so much for its alternate history angle but for the Manor House mystery aspect. Manor House mysteries are comfort food to me. I’m also inordinately fond of another British set fiction, Tooth and Claw. Dragons!
I’d also note that An Informal History of the Hugos: A Personal Look Back at the Hugo Awards, 1953–2000 makes for rather interesting reading.
Our Beginning is Among Others which was published was published by Tor twelve years ago. It won a Hugo at Chicon 7 along with the BFA Robert Holdstock Award for Best Fantasy Novel and a Nebula. It was also nominated for a World Fantasy Award, a Mythopoeic Award and another BFA, this time for August Derleth Award for Best Horror Novel.
Our Beginning starts now…
Thursday 1st May 1975
The Phurnacite factory in Abercwmboi killed all the trees for two miles around. We’d measured it on the mileometer. It looked like something from the depths of hell, black and looming with chimneys of flame, reflected in a dark pool that killed any bird or animal that drank from it. The smell was beyond description. We always wound up the car windows as tight as tight when we had to pass it, and tried to hold our breath, but Grampar said nobody could hold their breath that long, and he was right. There was sulphur in that smell, which was a hell chemical as everyone knew, and other, worse things, hot unnameable metals and rotten eggs.
My sister and I called it Mordor, and we’d never been there on our own before. We were ten years old. Even so, big as we were, as soon as we got off the bus and started looking at it we started holding hands.
It was dusk, and as we approached the factory loomed blacker and more terrible than ever. Six of the chimneys were alight; four belched out noxious smokes.
“Surely it is a device of the Enemy,” I murmured.
Mor didn’t want to play. “Do you really think this will work?” “The fairies were sure of it,” I said, as reassuringly as possible. “I know, but sometimes I don’t know how much they understand about the real world.”
“Their world is real,” I protested. “Just in a different way. At a different angle.”
(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
- Born July 13, 1937 — Jack Purvis. He appeared in three of director Terry Gilliam’s early fantasy films, with roles in Time Bandits, a film Kage Baker adored, The Adventures of Baron Munchausen and Brazil. He’s in three of the Star Wars films, the only actor he says to play three different roles, and he’s also in Wombling Free (based on The Wombles, a UK Children’s series), The Dark Crystal and Willow. (Died 1997.)
- Born July 13, 1940 — Mike Ploog, 83. He’s a storyboard and comic book artist, as well as a visual designer for films. his work on Marvel Comics’ Seventies Man-Thing and The Monster of Frankenstein series are his best-known undertakings, and as is the initial artist on the features Ghost Rider, Kull the Destroyer and Werewolf by Night. He moved onward to storyboarding or other design work on films including John Carpenter’s The Thing, Little Shop of Horrors, The Dark Crystal, Labyrinth and The Storyteller series. He also the cover art for OzCon International 2015, and Christopher Priest’s Fugue for a Darkening Island.
- Born July 13, 1940 — Sir Patrick Stewart, 83. Setting aside Trek which he says he’s done with now that Picard is wrapped up, other memorable genre roles include Leodegrance in Excalibur, Gurney Halleck in Dune, Prof. Macklin in The Doctor and the Devils, Charles Xavier in the X-Men franchise and he’s played Macbeth myriad times in the theatre world.
- Born July 13, 1955 — David J. Schow, 68. Mostly splatterpunk horror writer of novels, short stories, and screenplays. (He’s oft times credited with coining the splatterpunk term.) His screenplays include The Crow and Leatherface: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre III. He’s also done scripts for Masters of Horror, Perversions of Science and The Outer Limits. As an editor, he’s did the very impressive three-volume collection of Robert Bloch short fiction, The Lost Bloch.
- Born July 13, 1966 — David X. Cohen, 57. Head writer and executive producer of the original Futurama. Cohen is a producer of Disenchantment, Matt Groening’s fantasy series on Netflix. He also wrote a number of the “Treehouse of Horror” episodes on the Simpson’s which have a strong genre slant such as “Treehouse of Horror VII” (“Citizen Kang”).
- Born July 13, 1985 — Monica Byrne, 38. Her debut novel The Girl in the Road which is I’ve added to my reading list as it sounds fantastic which won the 2015 James Tiptree, Jr. Award and was also nominated for the Locus and Kitschies awards. She also had an essay in Wired back four years ago, “Hey, Book World: Sexism is Way Bigger Than the Hugos”, commenting on the Sad Puppies. It’s interesting reading still. And this essay, “Literature Still Urgently Needs More Non-White, Non-Male Heroes”, certainly shows where she is ideologically.
(11) COMICS SECTION.
- Blondie shows Alexander Hamilton Bumstead telling his dad that billionaires have better ways to spend their money than space flight. Dagwood knows his son doesn’t have social causes in mind.
(12) A MEETING OF THE MINDS. Steve Vertlieb is in town and we got together for lunch today. Thanks to his brother, Erwin, for snapping the photo. It was a pleasure to see you, Steve!
(13) JEOPARDY! [Item by David Goldfarb.] In Tuesday’s episode during the single Jeopardy round, in Friends, $800 (fourth tier): Ken Jennings read the following clue, while two pictures were displayed side-by-side, of two men wearing jacket and tie.
Conversations about language and myths initially bonded these two titans of fantasy, influencing each other and their works
This was a triple stumper, nobody recognizing or guessing either C.S Lewis (on the left) or J.R.R. Tolkien (on the right). For myself, I recognized Tolkien but not Lewis.
In Double Jeopardy, a category “2 Books In One” — the clues were mashups of two titles by the same author, the contestants were to unmash them and give the two titles in full. At the $1200 level (third tier):
Another triple stumper.
(14) KEEP BURROUGHING INTO THAT HOLE. “Disney Rebooting Their Biggest Sci-Fi Flop Into A Series” reports GiantFreakinRobot.
Disney is about to find out whether or not a concept that didn’t work as a movie will do better as a streaming show. Our trusted and proven sources tell us the House of Mouse is working on a John Carter reboot series for Disney+.
This seems like a strange move for Disney, particularly in light of recent months. Disney, like all of the other major studios who now own and operate major streaming platforms, has been canceling and cutting content as it struggles to figure out how to make its streaming service profitable.
(15) WHERE TO FIND THE EMMY NOMINEES. JustWatch has put up a list of the “50 Most Popular Emmy Nominees & how to stream them online”. The list shows real-time data on the titles’ popularity, as well as where to watch a particular TV show in the US.
[Thanks to Andrew Porter, John King Tarpinian, Chris Barkley, Bruce D. Arthurs, David Goldfarb, Daniel Dern, Rogers Cadenhead, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, and Mike Kennedy for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Xtifr.]