Pixel Scroll 7/27/22 And Did Those Files, In Ancient Time, Scroll Upon England’s Pixels Green?

(1) TODAY’S THING TO WORRY ABOUT. “Stranger Things is being edited retroactively by Netflix. Is this the beginning of a dangerous TV trend?” asks British GQ. It’s not a long article and these tweets have the gist of it.

(2) VIDEO GAME NEWS. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In Financial Times behind a paywall, Tom Faber reviews The Quarry, a new game from Supermassive that stars Ted Raimi, David Arquette, and Grace Zabriskie.

While much horror cinema has taken a turn for the intellectual over the past decade, this is a straight-up lesson in the schlock doctrine, a love letter to campy teen slashers such as Friday The 13th.  You’ll find every trope in the book here, from full moons to mysterious trapdoors to flimsy metaphors for intergenerational trauma. The set-up is simple:  it’s the end of summer camp and your group of teenage counsellors are planning to stay one last night to have a party in the woods. The forest inevitably harbours a dreadful, murderous secret, but it will take a lot to faze these kids–theyre horny, wisecracking and ready to make some truly terrible decisions…

…For most of this ten-hour adventure, watching is all you’ll do. Rather than playing, you’re mostly observing scripted sequences and influencing the story by making choices,  These might be fluffy character beats (who do you want to flirt with?) or grim decisions (do you want to pull the knife out of your stomach, risking blood loss?)You’ll also be faced with that horror ur-choice:  run, or hide? There’s no right or wrong; characters can die and the story will keep going.  Each choice leads you towards one of the game’s 186 possible endings.

(3) REMEMBER WHAT THE DORMOUSE SAID. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] The Royal Society concludes that playing video games will not rot your brain. “Time spent playing video games is unlikely to impact well-being”.

Abstract

Video games are a massively popular form of entertainment, socializing, cooperation and competition. Games’ ubiquity fuels fears that they cause poor mental health, and major health bodies and national governments have made far-reaching policy decisions to address games’ potential risks, despite lacking adequate supporting data. The concern–evidence mismatch underscores that we know too little about games’ impacts on well-being. We addressed this disconnect by linking six weeks of 38 935 players’ objective game-behaviour data, provided by seven global game publishers, with three waves of their self-reported well-being that we collected. We found little to no evidence for a causal connection between game play and well-being. However, results suggested that motivations play a role in players’ well-being. For good or ill, the average effects of time spent playing video games on players’ well-being are probably very small, and further industry data are required to determine potential risks and supportive factors to health….

(4) INSIDE BABYLON 5. As J. Michael Straczynski’s Babylon 5 new commentaries get uploaded to his Patreon page, older ones get a public release. The latest posted to YouTube is: “Babylon 5: Message From Earth commentary by J. Michael Straczynski”.

A full-length, sync-up commentary by creator Straczynski about Messages From Earth, the first installment of a trilogy that would forever alter the course of the series.

(5) OKORAFOR PROFILED. “Africanfuturista! The fantastical adventures of Nnedi Okorafor” at Geek Afrique.

Spaceships, terrorist aliens, water spirits, soldiers, Boko Haram, and wet piles of meat. These aren’t part of a kind of dark poetry, but mainstays of some of the best work of writer Nnedi Okorafor. Her work in her genre of choice Africanfuturism (one word, no space), her speculative fiction and fantasy work, are among the most unique today. Africanfuturism, which Okorafor coined, is an exciting subgenre that welds science fiction and technology to African mythologies, weaving black people —or blackness, really— into fertile worlds rife with story possibilities….

(6) OBAMA’S BOOK RECS. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] Barack Obama put books by Emily St. John Mandel and Silvia Moreno-Garcia on his Summer 2022 reading list.

He also put S.A. Cosby’s novel on there. In “Noir at the Bar”, a piece I wrote for File 770 in 2019 about going to hear crime writers read short stories, I said that Cosby was clearly the best writer in the room…

(7) CREEPY CRAWLIES. “Giant spiders, creeping tentacles all in a day’s work for this Ypsilanti artist”Michigan Live profiles Anna Miklosovic. (Her website is here.)

…Miklosovic currently has two art series depicting the unusual. The first shows a paranormal side of Ypsilanti and features work with giant spiders crawling up the side of the iconic Ypsilanti water tower and a giant tentacle in the Peninsula Paper Company Dam. The 12-part series was turned into a calendar, Miklosovic said.

Her second series focuses on Ann Arbor through the lens of the apocalypse, showing abandoned versions of well-known city locations….

(8) NOT JUST ANY USED CLOTHING. The prices didn’t quite go to infinity and beyond, but close: “Buzz Aldrin’s Space Memorabilia Sells for More Than $8 Million” reports the New York Times.

white, Teflon-coated jacket worn by the astronaut Buzz Aldrin during the Apollo 11 mission to the moon in 1969 sold for $2.7 million at a Sotheby’s auction on Tuesday, fetching the highest price among dozens of pieces of rare memorabilia tracing his career in space exploration.

Mr. Aldrin, now 92, has a storied career as an astronaut, joining NASA in 1963 after flying for the Air Force. Within three years, he had walked in space on the Gemini 12 mission. Then, on July 20, 1969, millions of people watched on television as he became the second man to walk on the moon, about 20 minutes after Neil Armstrong, who declared it “one giant leap for mankind.”

The custom-fitted jacket Mr. Aldrin wore on that mission sold after fierce bidding lasting nine minutes, with the auctioneer calling it “the most valuable American space-flown artifact ever sold at auction.” (The garments worn by the two other Apollo 11 astronauts from that mission are owned by the Smithsonian.)

In all, 68 of 69 lots of Mr. Aldrin’s belongings were sold for a combined $8 million on Tuesday by Sotheby’s in Manhattan at an auction that lasted more than two hours….

(9) MEMORY LANE.  

2008 [By Cat Eldridge.] Your essay tonight is brought to you courtesy of two of my loves — Agatha Christie and Doctor Who. Doctor Who’s “The Unicorn and The Wasp” involved both and had the added advantage of being a David Tennant story — bliss!

This episode aired first aired by BBC One on May 17, 2008. As I said it’s a Tennant Doctor and the Companion was Donna Noble as played delightfully by Catherine Tate. I didn’t care for her at first by she grew on me nicely. 

SPOLIERS ABOUND. GO AWAY NOW!

The two arrive at British manor of Lady Clemency Eddison, (Manor house mysteries are another fascination of mine), where Christie is staying. The episode is a murder-mystery where a shapeshifting giant wasp, in disguise as one of the party guests, murders the other guests using methods similar to those in the novels of Christie. The Doctor and Christie, wonderfully played by Fenella Woolgar, collaborate rather deliciously in uncovering what is going on.

Doctor Who does CGI really well and the wasp here comes off nicely even though it could’ve come as damn silly given how big it is. It didn’t. I mean a giant wasp in the British countryside? Seriously? 

More than a few Christie novels get mentioned. Actually a lot acoording to the writer and Russell T Davies. Titles that were noted were: The Murder of Roger AckroydWhy Didn’t They Ask EvansThe Body in the LibraryThe Secret AdversaryN or M?NemesisCat Among the PigeonsDead Man’s FollyThey Do It With MirrorsAppointment with DeathCards on the TableSparkling CyanideEndless NightCrooked HouseDeath in the CloudsThe Moving FingerTaken at the FloodDeath Comes as the EndMurder on the Orient Express and The Murder at the Vicarage

And there’s a neat riff at the end where the Doctor pulled a copy of a Christie novel out of a locker on the TARDIS from five billion years in the future refuting Christie’s belief that she would be remembered. 

They tie the story into the real life mystery of Christie disappearing for nearly eleven days. Mind you, their explanation is fantastical in the extreme.  

So we get The Doctor playing effectively Holmes in a manor house mystery with the assistance of Christie. 

It’s worth noting Christopher Benjamin who is Colonel Hugh Curbishley here played Henry Gordon Jago in The Talons of Weng-Chiang, another favorite episode of mine.

END SPOILERS. REALLY. 

It’s a delightedly written episode that was penned by Gareth Roberts, who previously wrote the another episode that played off history, “The Shakespeare Code”. I’ve watched it least half dozen times and enjoyed it every times. It’s streaming on HBO Max.

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born July 27, 1938 Gary Gygax. Game designer and author best known for co-creating  Dungeons & Dragons with Dave Arneson. In addition to the almost beyond counting gaming modules he wrote, he wrote the Greyhawk Adventure series and the Dangerous Journeys novels, none of which is currently in print. I’ll admit that I’ve not read any of the many novels listed at ISFDB, so I’ve no idea how he is as a genre writer. Opinions, oh intelligent masses? (Died 2008.)
  • Born July 27, 1949 Maury Chaykin. Though best remembered as portraying Nero Wolfe staring with The Golden Spiders: A Nero Wolfe Mystery on A&E, a role that lasted twenty-seven episodes, he did have some appearances in genre work. He was in WarGames as Jim Sting, he showed up in The Twilight Zone’s “A Game of Pool” as James L. “Fats” Brown, the Millennium film as Richard Keane, on Andromeda in “Pieces of Eight” as Citizen Eight and so forth. (Died 2010.)
  • Born July 27, 1949 Robert Rankin, 73. Writer of what I’d call serious comic genre fiction. Best book by him? I’d single out The Hollow Chocolate Bunnies of the Apocalypse as the best work he ever did bar none. Hell even the name is absolutely frelling great. 
  • Born July 27, 1968 Farah Mendlesohn, 54. She’s an historian and prolific writer on genre literature, and an active fan. Best works by her? I really like her newest work on Heinlein, The Pleasant Profession of Robert A. Heinlein which won a BSFA and was a 2020 Hugo finalistHer Diana Wynne Jones: Children’s Literature and the Fantastic Tradition is also a fascinating read. And I highly recommend her Rhetorics of Fantasy as we don’t get many good theoretical looks at fantasy. Her only Hugo to date was at Interaction for The Cambridge Companion to Science Fiction though she won a lot of other Awards including BSFAs for the introduction to “Reading Science Fiction”, Rhetorics of Fantasy and The Pleasant Profession of Robert A. Heinlein. She’s also garnered a BFA for Children’s Fantasy Literature: An Introduction (shared with co-writer Michael Levy) which also got a Mythopoeic Scholarship Award for Myth and Fantasy, and she’s also won the Karl Edward Wagner Award as well.
  • Born July 27, 1969 Bryan Fuller, 53. Let’s see…There’s credits as either Executive Producer, Producer or Writer for Voyager and DS9American GodsMockingbird Lane, the  last being a reboot of The Munsters which lasted one episode and was, err, strange, Pushing Daisies, a Carrie reboot, Heroes and Dead Like Me. And animated adaptation of a quirky Mike Mignola graphic novel entitled The Amazing Screw-On Head. Go see it. It’s quite amazing.
  • Born July 27, 1970 Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, 52. Jaime Lannister in Game Of Thrones and Game of Thrones: Conquest & Rebellion: An Animated History of the Seven Kingdoms; as the lead in the short lived New Amsterdam series which is not based on the series by the same name by Elizabeth Bear; also genre roles in the Oblivion and My Name Is Modesty: A Modesty Blaise Adventure films.
  • Born July 27, 1977 Jonathan Rhys Meyers, 45. Dracula in the 2013 – 2014 Dracula series, other genre roles includes being in The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones, the Gormenghast series and Killer Tongue, a film with poodles transformed into drag queens. Would I kind you about the latter? It’s genre. 

(11) HULK ALUM RETURNS. Peter David, known for his legendary and impactful run on Incredible Hulk, is proving his acclaimed work on the Hulk mythos is far from over.  Having just finished an epic trilogy of limited series that told the grand saga of Hulk villain Maestro, David will now turn his attention to another iconic creation of his—Joe Fixit! The fan-favorite Hulk persona that muscled his way through Las Vegas as a hedonistic bodyguard will star in his very own limited series set during David’s original time on the Incredible Hulk. Joining David in this Sin City adventure will be artist Yildiray Cinar (The Marvels).

 “When I created Joe Fixit decades ago, it was merely as a means to shake up the standard formula,” David explained. “Typically Bruce would have set up some sort of situation and he would be worried that the Hulk would inevitably show up and screw things up. The storyline with Joe flipped the formula on its head, and set up the Hulk with his great situation in Vegas and he was worried that Bruce would show up to screw things up. I had no idea that the character would have this much staying power, and that so much would eventually be done with him in the pages of the Immortal Hulk. I’m thrilled that Marvel has given me this opportunity to revisit with an old friend.”

(12) 2023 EASTERCON. Chair Caroline Mullan announced that Conversation, the 2023 Eastercon, will be at the Hilton Birmingham Metropole at the NEC, from April 7-10, 2023.

…Expect to see more information from us soon about booking hotel rooms, booking for the dealers’ room and fan tables, and the timing and details of our initial rise in membership rates.

This has been a difficult year for site negotiations. We are very grateful to Vanessa May and the Persistence committee for providing the continuity with this site that has given us this outcome….

(13) THESE ARE THE DAYS OF OUR UNDEAD LIVES. Rest of World purports to take you “Inside the global gig economy of werewolf erotica on platforms like Dreame, GoodNovel and Amazon Kindle Vella”.

…The central characters of many of Dreame’s most beloved werewolf novels often inhabit Americanized settings, but the authors don’t typically live in the U.S. Rather, they come from countries like Mexico, the Philippines, Nigeria, and China – and often write novels in their second or third language. One student in Bangladesh, who writes under the pen name Anamika, spends five hours a day, seven days per week writing romance novels. She ends each chapter with a cliffhanger to keep readers hooked. Each book earns her up to $300, along with adoring messages from Western fans. “They are very sweet,” she said. “Their comments are my encouragement.” 

The emerging web novel industry spans the globe, taking a business model from Asia, assembling a global supply chain of authors in lower-income countries, and paying them to churn out thousands of words a day for English-speaking readers in the West. Rest of World spoke to four current and former employees at these platforms, who described how the art of novel writing is broken down into a formula to be followed: take a popular theme like werewolves, sprinkle it with certain tropes like a forbidden romance, and write as many chapters as you can. Some novels have hundreds of chapters, most ending on a cliffhanger to keep readers engaged and eager to read on.

The platforms, some backed by Tencent or TikTok’s parent ByteDance, thrived during the pandemic amid a surge in demand for online content – jobs that can be done from home. Dreame, GoodNovel, Webnovel, and Fizzo consistently rank among the most-downloaded reading apps in the U.S., the U.K., the Philippines, and Indonesia, and together rake in millions of dollars in revenues every month. The model has proven so successful that, in 2021, Amazon launched Kindle Vella, featuring similar episodic titles and plotlines. Kindle Vella even mimics a key mechanic of the other platforms: readers earn coins by spending more time engaged in the apps, which they can then spend to unlock more chapters….

(14) REBRANDING MURDER HORNETS? Like you need little branding irons for branding ants? MSN.com reports “Invasive ‘murder hornet’ is getting a rebrand. Here’s why.”

… The Asian giant hornet, commonly known as the murder hornet, has a new name as its former moniker could stoke anti-Asian sentiment.  

The Entomological Society of America (ESA) chose to rebrand the invasive species as the northern giant hornet, with the ESA concluding the political climate contributed to the need to change the name…. 

(15) A BAD DAY FOR STURGEON. “Two of the Largest Freshwater Fish in the World Declared Extinct”. MSN.com has details.

The Yangtze sturgeon lived in its namesake river for 140 million years. Now it doesn’t. Nor does another behemoth it shared China’s longest waterway with for ages, the Chinese paddlefish. Updating its Red List of Threatened Species on Thursday for the first time in 13 years, the International Union for Conservation of Nature declared the two species, known as “the last giants of the Yangtze,” extinct.

Once the largest freshwater fish in the world, the Yangtze sturgeon, Acipenser dabryanus, could reach 26 feet in length and weigh 1,500 pounds. Its historic range extended throughout Asia, including Japan, Korea, and the Yellow River in China. Dubbed a “living fossil,” it sported a rounded snout, large pectoral fins, and rows of elevated ridges on its spine and flanks. Though there are still captive fish in breeding programs, authorities, despite many efforts, have failed to successfully reintroduce the fish to the river system, and now it considered extinct in the wild.

(16) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] Matthew Van Ness duplicates himself dozens of times as he sings “Hedwig’s Theme” from the Harry Potter movies: “I sing the ENTIRE orchestra in Hedwig’s Theme”.

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

Pixel Scroll 7/19/22 A Phlogiston Of Filers

(1) AKO CAINE PRIZE. Kenyan writer Idza Luhumyo has been awarded the 2022 AKO Caine Prize for African Writing for her short story “Five Years Next Sunday”, published in Disruption (Catalyst Press and Short Story Day Africa, 2021). The story is about “a young woman with the unique power to call the rain in her hair. Feared by her family and community, a chance encounter with a foreigner changes her fortunes, but there are duplicitous designs upon her most prized and vulnerable possession.”

Okey Ndibe, Chair of the 2022 AKO Caine Prize Judging Panel, announced the winner at an award ceremony at London’s Victoria and Albert Museum. Luhumyo’s story was described by Ndibe as ‘an incandescent story – its exquisite language wedded to the deeply moving drama of a protagonist whose mystical office invites animus at every turn.’ 

Judging the Prize alongside Ndibe this year were French-Guinean author and academic Elisa Diallo; South African literary curator and co-founder of The Cheeky Natives Letlhogonolo Mokgoroane; UK-based Nigerian visual artist Ade ‘Àsìkò’ Okelarin; Kenyan co-founder of the Book Bunk Angela Wachuka. 

Luhumyo takes the £10,000 prize, beating 267 eligible entries in a record year of submissions. She will be published in the 2022 AKO Caine Prize anthology later this year by Cassava Republic Press. She is the fifth Kenyan writer to win the award after Binyavanga Wainaina (2002), Yvonne Owuor (2003), Okwiri Oduor (2014) and Makena Onjerika (2018).

(2) AUCTION RESULTS. The “Hollywood Legends” event organized by Julien’s Auctions rang up some big numbers for these items of genre interest:

…Other top sellers included the red, white and blue shield handled by Chris Evans’ Captain America in the 2012 superhero blockbuster “The Avengers,” which went for $200,000.

A Stormtrooper helmet used in 1977′s original “Star Wars” movie sold for $192,000, while a hammer wielded by Chris Hemsworth’s titular superhero in 2013′s “Thor: The Dark World” made $51,200….

(3) BUZZ LIGHTYEAR FOREVER. The USPS invites postal service users to “’Go Beyond’ Your Typical Forever Stamps with Buzz Lightyear”. The first day of issue will be August 3. There will be a ceremony that day at the El Capitan Theatre in Hollywood.

The iconic image of Buzz Lightyear has been captured in the newest Forever stamps from the U.S. Postal Service and Disney and Pixar.

Go Beyond is a colorful pane of 20 stamps arranged in four horizontal rows of five stamps featuring the image of Buzz Lightyear, a Space Ranger marooned on a planet 4.2 million light-years from Earth.

Greg Breeding was the stamp art director using illustrations from Pixar Animation Studios.

The release joins the Charles M. Shulz (and the gang) and James Webb Space Telescope stamps coming this year, and the already available Shel Silverstein stamp.

(4) ALONG CAME JONES. Stephen Jones, the British editor, had some things to say about pronouns yesterday that have since been taken private (or offline), therefore cannot be quoted here. However, some of the knock-on discussion he had about them was screencapped.

Hillary Monahan doesn’t name the person they light into in this thread, but everybody knew who it was. Thread starts here.

The Midnight Society thought the situation called for a satire. Thread starts here.

The social media discussion also reminded people of some of Jones’ history, such as:

(Jones’ remarks can be viewed on the 2021 Bram Stoker Awards ceremony video around the 1:23 mark.)

(5) PERSONAL DEFINITIONS. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] Contributors to the horror anthology Other Terrors explain what they think “other terrors” means to them. “A Roundtable Discussion on The Meaning of ‘The Other’” at CrimeReads.

Eugen Bacon: As an African-Australian author who is black, female, migrant and a single mother, I have struggled with identity and being ‘different’. I think, as humans, intrinsically, we want to belong, to be integral to the worlds we live in.

‘Other’ is anyone who looks different, feels different, thinks different, acts different, lives different, owns different (possessions), is perceived different—there’s a whole spectrum of othering, which is what makes the theme of Other Terrors very relatable and easy to respond to. More so in the safe space that speculative fiction offers for engaging with difference, even in acts of subversive activism….

(6) WESTERCON 74 EVENTS ONLINE. [Item by Kevin Standlee.] All of Westercon 74’s Events — anything that happened in the Main Hall or on the Main Stage of the Tonopah Convention Center, as distinct from Programming that happened in function rooms of the TCC or the other convention buildings — are now online on a newly-minted Westercon 74 YouTube channel in the Events playlist:

This includes, in the order that they happened:

  • Friday: Opening Ceremony
  • Saturday: Match Game SF
  • Sunday: Westercon Business Meeting, Committee of the Whole on Site Selection, Kuma’s Korner Stuffed friends gathering
  • Monday: Closing Ceremony

In addition, the channel includes separate recordings of the opening and closing title videos that we played during the opening and closing ceremonies.

Programming will post those online and hybrid items that we recorded to a separate playlist on this channel when they are able to do so. The head of online/hybrid programming, Michelle Weisblat-Dane, came down with COVID-19 immediately after the convention, which has slowed production.

(7) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.  

1965 [By Cat Eldridge.] Forty-seven years ago, The Tenth Victim premiered in Ireland. An international co-production between Italy and France, it is based on Robert Sheckley’s 1953 short story “Seventh Victim” which was nominated for a Retro Hugo at Noreascon 4. No, I’ve no idea why it became the Tenth Victim.

It was directed and co-written by Elio Petri who had spent five years trying to get this filmed. In filming it, he made some major changes. Sheckley told his story from the point of view of a man hunting his seventh target, a woman, whereas in the movie she is the hunter. And as most reviewers note, the film is largely a chase story. It’s been a very long time since I read it so I don’t know how much it deviates from the original text.

The French-Italian production was fairly expensive to make at a cool million. That’s ten million now. Absolutely no idea what they spent that much money on making what was a chase film. Very expensive cars? Crates of champagne? Caviar? 

The movie company insists that it lost money, some ten million. They needed to have drank a lot less champagne.

Coming full cycle, there’s a Sheckley novelization of the film. Algis Budrys in his June 1966 Galaxy Science Fiction review said it was “a reasonably good chase novel”. 

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born July 19, 1883 Max Fleischer. Animator, film director and producer. He brought such animated characters as Betty Boop, Popeye and Superman to the screen and was responsible for a number of technological innovations including the Rotoscope and Stereoptical Processes. You can see Betty’s first screen appearance here in the 1930 Cartoon, “Dizzy Dishes”. (Died 1972.)
  • Born July 19, 1904 Groff Conklin. He edited forty anthologies of science fiction, one of mystery stories. His book review column, “Galaxy’s Five-Star Shelf”, was a core feature in Galaxy Science Fiction from its premiere issue in October 1950 until the October 1955 issue. He was nominated at NyCon II for a Best Book Reviewer Hugo, and at Millennium Philcon, he was nominated for a Retro Hugo for Best Professional Editor. (Died 1968.)
  • Born July 19, 1927 Richard E. Geis. I met him at least once when I was living out there in Oregon. Interesting person. He won the Hugo Award for Best Fan Writer twice; and whose science fiction fanzine Science Fiction Review won Hugo Awards for Best Fanzine four times. The Alien Critic won the Best Fanzine Hugo (once in a tie with Algol), and once by himself. And yes, I enjoyed reading the Science Fiction Review. I’ve not any of his handful of genre novels, and certainly haven’t encountered his soft-core porn of which there’s a lot. (Died 2013.)
  • Born July 19, 1938 Jayant Vishnu Narlikar, 84. He and Fred Hoyle developed the Hoyle–Narlikar theory, which Stephen Hawking would prove is incompatible with an expanding universe. He would write two genre novels, The Return of The Vaman (translated from Marathi) and The Message from Aristarchus. His autobiography is My Tale of Four Cities: An Autobiography.
  • Born July 19, 1950 Richard Pini, 72. He’s half of the husband-and-wife team responsible for creating the well-known Elfquest series of comics, graphic novels and prose works. They are also known as WaRP (as in Warp Graphics). It’s worth noting that characters based on works by the Pinis appear in the first issue of Ghost Rider.
  • Born July 19, 1963 Garth Nix, 59. Writer of children’s and young adult fantasy novels, to wit the Keys to the KingdomOld Kingdom, and Seventh Tower series. The Ragwitch which I read quite some time ago is quite excellent and being a one-off can give you a good taste of him without committing to a series.
  • Born July 19, 1969 Kelly Link, 53. First, let me note that along with Ellen Datlow, she and her husband Gavin Grant were responsible for the last five volumes of The Year’s Best Fantasy & Horror. They all did an absolutely magnificent job. All of her collections, Pretty MonstersMagic for Beginners and Get in Trouble are astonishingly good. And she’s much honored having three Nebula Awards, a World Fantasy Award, an Otherwise Award, a Sturgeon Award and received a MacArthur Genius Grant. She was a finalist for a 2016 Pulitzer Prize. And Hugos. She won a Hugo at Interaction for her “Faery Handbag” novellette, her “Magic for Beginners” novella was nominated at L.A. Con IV, and finally Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet was nominated at Nippon 2007 for Best Semi-Prozine (her husband Gavin Grant was also nominated). 

(9) HARD TO KEEP CURRENT. Goodreads lists “The 72 Most Popular Fantasy Novels of the Past Three Years” based on reader info. I’ve actually read three and expect to read two more of these. I was sure my score would be zero.

Fantasy literature is arguably the single oldest genre in all of storytelling. Contemporary fantasy has its roots, overtly or not, in world mythology and folklore, which in turn have their roots in oral traditions that extend back beyond recorded history. Old!
 
But today we’re interested in new fantasy. Gathered below are the most popular fantasy books of the past three years, as determined by reader shelvings and reviews. All books listed here were published in 2019 or later, in the U.S., and for fantasy series with multiple titles (ArmentroutButcherMaas!) we’ve listed the first series book published in that time period.

(10) FUTURE ERIC FLINT TITLES COMING FROM BAEN. [Item by Andrew Porter.] Toni Weisskopf wrote to me, “His last email to me was the delivery of revision of THE TRANSYLVANIAN DECISION; that’s already on the schedule. There’s a few more, which I expect collaborators will finish. Credit will vary, depending on how much input Eric had already given.”

(11) FUNDRAISER FOR FLINT FAMILY. The GoFundMe set up for Eric Flint’s wife Lucille – “Eric Flint” – has already made its $10,000 goal, having raised $11,627 at this writing.

My name is Debbie and my sister, Lucille Robbins, just lost her beloved husband of 21 years, Eric Flint. For the last six months Eric has been fighting the fight of his life, but unfortunately his body could no longer sustain the battle and he succumbed to the infections that robbed him of the final years of life. Eric had so many plans, right up to the end. He wanted to live and to keep writing and to keep reaching out to everyone in the Science Fiction community, but here we are. Unfortunately Eric has not been able to write while he has been sick and Lucille lost many hours of work taking care of Eric. As you know writers have to keep writing to make money and right now Lucille and family could use some help financially with the costs of memorial services. Any donation will be greatly appreciated.

(12) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In “Honest Trailers: Hulk v. Thor (1988)” the Screen Junkies narrator notes, “no one wanted this.  You’ve got to trust us.”  The movie isn’t even called “Hulk v. Thor,” it’s “The Incredible Hulk Returns,” the first of three made-for-TV Hulk movies.  This ripe piece of ’80s cheese has Bruce Banner hiding out as “Bruce Banyon” when he isn’t turning into Lou Ferrigno and “gruntflexing.”  But Hulk DOES fight Thor. They even dance around a sparkly machine while fighting.  And Thor has a drinking problem. “I’m thirsty,” Thor says in the laboratory. “Is there nothing to drink in this alchemist’s den?”

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

Pixel Scroll 7/13/22 Read The Scrolls That They May Teach You, Take The Pixels That They May Reach You

(1) KEEP WATCHING THE SKY WATCHER. At Heritage Auctions bidding is currently up to $62,500 (excluding Buyer’s Premium) on “Clyde Tombaugh’s Renowned Handmade 9″ Reflector Telescope”.

Clyde Tombaugh’s Renowned Handmade 9″ Reflector Telescope [circa 1927]. Presented here is the most notable telescope ever built by legendary astronomer Clyde Tombaugh. Constructed by hand entirely of materials salvaged from the family farm in Burdett, Kansas. Presents signs of weather and wear; however, fully operational and intact.

Tombaugh’s fascination with astronomy led him to begin building telescopes in 1926 to explore the night sky. Using handmade lenses and mirrors, he began construction on his most prominent telescope in 1927. Fabricated from the hardware he was able to collect, including a grain elevator tube, a cream separator base, a 1910 Buick axle, tractor flywheels, and other farm machinery parts, Tombaugh produced one of the most outstanding achievements of American ingenuity of the twentieth century.

Tombaugh used this exact piece of equipment to illustrate his interpretation of the planets Jupiter and Mars. He, in turn, sent these drawings to the Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff, Arizona for critique. His only wished to know if his home-made telescope was an accurate interpretation of the Cosmos. Instantly recognizing Tombaugh’s gift for astronomy, the Observatory wasted no time in offering him employment. Shortly after he began his work at Lowell, Tombaugh started his long list of new astronomical discoveries. The most famous of these is unquestionably his discovery of what was, at the time, the ninth planet in our solar system, Pluto. Clyde continued to work throughout his life as both an astronomer and professor at New Mexico State University.

The telescope itself is approximately 93 inches tall (depending on configuration) and sits on a custom metal base measuring 40 x 40 inches square. As previously stated, it is constructed from farm equipment remains and has some interesting aspects that only add to its character. One is the can of Coca-Cola attached to a chain that protects the eyepiece. According to his son, Alden, the telescope is in the same working condition it was when his father last used it. In fact, in the 1990’s the Smithsonian Institution inquired if the telescope could be loaned to them for display. Clyde politely declined stating, he was still actively using it to search the skies.

(2) PILOT REACHES PORT. Marc Scott Zicree’s Space Command: Redemption premieres at the Chinese Theater in Hollywood on July 21.

Space Command Red-Carpet Premiere at the Chinese Theater in Hollywood July 21st! It’s finally here! The WORLD PREMIERE of Space Command Redemption at the famed Chinese Theater in Hollywood! This is the full TWO-HOUR PILOT of Space Command, starring Doug Jones, Mira Furlan, Robert Picardo, Bill Mumy, Ethan McDowell, Bryan McClure, Sara Maraffino, Nathaniel Freeman and Bruce Boxleitner!

(3) PLAYING SATURNALIA. Mark Lawrence rediscovered the text of a play-by-mail game he helped write 40 years ago: “Off Topic – big time!”

Back in 1987 I helped run a Play-By-Mail game called Saturnalia. I ran it full time for a year with a bunch of other folk in an office. And I ran my area for another 12 years after that in my spare time.

There was an extensive Wikipedia page about it – but they decided in their wisdom to reduce it to a very brief summary.

I found the original text online today (I wrote a fair bit of it), and have copied it here for posterity in case that last site vanishes….

(4) VANISHING POINTS. Amanda S. Green has experienced some more Kindle Direct Publishing accounting adventures: “Check Your KDP Emails” at Mad Genius Club.

Welp, it finally happened. My KDP/KU sales report for the month has been changed from one day to the next. No, I’m not talking about the move to the new format Amazon decided to go to. You know the one I’m talking about. The one that makes it even more difficult to get a snapshot view of what is going on with your sales and promotions. What I’m talking about is the disappearance of page reads under Kindle Unlimited….

(5) KSR’S DAYS AT BU. “Kim Stanley Robinson on the Importance of Imagination” in Bostonia.

…I’m happy to say that my career as a science fiction writer had its tentative beginnings at BU. Between my classes I would go to the library, find an empty carrel, sit down, and immediately plunk my head on the table and fall asleep. Faced with the overwhelming task of writing fiction, my mind would shut down for a while, perhaps reorganizing itself to face the strange task I was imposing on it. We’ll learn more about the mysteries of sleep in one of the articles in this issue.

For me, my naps would last around 20 minutes, after which I would wake up and work on a story I later titled “Coming Back to Dixieland.” It concerned asteroid belt miners who played jazz on the side—not a great idea for a story, but it got published a few years later in the anthology Orbit 18, edited by my great teacher and mentor Damon Knight. …

(6) IS IT YOU? Do Filers have what it takes to be America’s Next Great Author? “Kwame Alexander to present new reality show America’s Next Great Author” – the Guardian has details.

… The six finalists, locked together for a month, will face “live-wire” challenges as they attempt to write an entire novel in 30 days. The winning novelist will be crowned America’s Next Great Author.

Bestselling author and Newberry Medal winner Kwame Alexander is presenting the show, and is listed as executive producer. In a promotional video posted on the show’s Twitter feed, Alexander said it will be “the first reality show for writers produced by writers. This is your chance, if you’re writing the Great American Novel or the great memoir masterpiece or something, this is your chance to get published.”…

(7) MEMORY LANE.  

2018 [By Cat Eldridge.] Just four years ago, a film called 7 Splinters in Time premiered in limited release in the States. With a great title, it had the premise of a down at the heels detective who investigates a murder, only to find that the victim is himself. Over and over and over again. Soon, he discovers multiple versions of himself, not all of them who want him to investigate what’s happening. 

It was written by Gabriel Judet-Weinshel who has no other genre creds unnless you think a writing the weekly series with comedy icons Jerry Stiller and Anne Meara talking about whatever is on their minds is somehow genre adjacent…

Darius Lefaux Is played by Al Sapienza, best known as Mickey Palmice on The Sopranos. It had a large cast of French performers. 

This film is writer-director Judet-Weinshel’s debut full-length feature, and most critics weren’t thrilled by it though the Austin Chronicle said of it that it was “free jazz, and Judet-Weinshel finds echoes and frequencies in the form and the content.” not at all sure what that means. 

The Variety review was much more understandable in that they said it was “edited to ribbons in a schizoid manner that likely only makes complete sense to its maker.” (I wonder if they ever read any Heinlein time travel stories.) 

And the Los Angeles Times thought that “the neo-noir sci-fi indie is a fractured narrative that can’t achieve what its lofty ideas intend.”

It however did pick up the New Vision Award from Cinequest San Jose Film Festival the year that it was released. 

Audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes aren’t terribly impressed by it giving it just a forty-three percent rating. Oh well. 

I think it sounds fascinating and have added it to my To Be Watched list if I can find it somewhere. One second… Ahhh. I can watch it on Amazon Prime which I have. Good.

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born July 13, 1904 Norvell W. Page. Chief writer of The Spider pulp series as Grant Stockbridge. He started out by writing a backup story in the first issue of The Spider pulp: “Murder Undercover” and by the third issue was writing the main Spider stories which he did for some seventy stories. He also wrote The Black Bat and The Phantom Detective pulps. (Died 1961.)
  • Born July 13, 1926 Robert H. Justman. Producer and director who worked on many a genre series including Adventures of SupermanThe Outer LimitsStar TrekMission: ImpossibleMan from Atlantis and Star Trek: The Next Generation.  He was the assistant director for the first two Star Trek episodes: “The Cage” and “Where No Man Has Gone Before”. (Died 2008.)
  • Born July 13, 1937 Jack Purvis. He appeared in three of director Terry Gilliam’s early fantasy films, with roles in Time BanditsThe Adventures of Baron Munchausen and Brazil. He’s in three of the Star Wars films, the only actor who claims to have played three different roles, and he’s also in Wombling Free (based on The Womblies, a UK Children’s series), The Dark Crystal and Willow. (Died 1997.)
  • Born July 13, 1940 Sir Patrick Stewart 82. Jean-Luc Picard starting with being Captain of the USS Enterprise (NCC-1701-D) on Star Trek: The Next Generation up through the current Star Trek: Picard. (They’re filming two seasons of Picard back-to-back.) Also had some minor role in the MCU as Professor Charles Xavier, and played Leodegrance in Excalibur. Though only slightly genre adjacent, I’m fond of his role as King Henry II in the second version of The Lion in Winter
  • Born July 13, 1942 Mike Ploog, 80. 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 RiderKull 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 HorrorsThe Dark CrystalLabyrinth and The Storyteller series.
  • Born July 13, 1942 Harrison Ford, 80. Three great roles of course, the first being Dr. Henry Walton “Indiana” Jones, Jr. in the Indiana Jones franchise which is four films deep with a fifth on the way. The second of course being Han Solo in the Star Wars franchise, a role he’s done four times plus a brief cameo in The Rise of Skywalker. And the third being Rick Deckard in Blade Runner, a role he reprised for Blade Runner 2049. Oh, and he played the older Indy at age fifty in the Young Indiana Jones Chronicles in the “Young Indiana Jones and the Mystery of the Blues” episode. 
  • Born July 13, 1955 David J. Schow, 67. 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 HorrorPerversions of Science and The Outer Limits. As an editor, he’s did the very impressive three-volume collection of Robert Bloch fiction, The Lost Bloch.
  • Born July 13, 1960 Gary A. Braunbeck, 62. Horror writer primarily who has won a very impressive six Stoker Awards. Interestingly his first was SF, Time Was: Isaac Asimov’s I-Bots which was co-written with Steve Perry.
  • Born July 13, 1981 Monica Byrne, 41. 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 seven 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 in The Atlantic, “Literature Still Urgently Needs More Non-White, Non-Male Heroes”, certainly shows where she is ideologically.

(9) COMICS SECTION.

  • Bizarro finds something that makes a bird flip.

(10) JOE QUESADA’S AMAZING FANTASY #1000 COVER REVEALED. Here is Joe Quesada’s wraparound variant cover for Marvel’s giant-sized Spider-Man 60th anniversary one-shot hitting the stands on August 31.

(11) SOME FACTS ARE TRUTHIER THAN OTHERS. YardBarker says there are “20 facts you might not know about ‘Men in Black’”:

For a couple years in the ‘90s, Will Smith was apparently all about interacting with aliens. Independence Day was the big, crowd-pleasing action film, but personally, we’ll go with Men in Black any day of the week. It’s a weird, more cynical film, but with plenty of fun in the mix. Here’s 20 facts about the movie….

But is #15 – “The movie was a box-office success” – a fact? According to Sony, the movie has yet to turn a profit, or so they tell Ed Solomon: “1997 hit ‘Men In Black’ is still yet to make a profit says screenwriter”.

(12) ALL EARS. Paul Weimer recommends you listen to “The voice of Eru Ilúvatar: The Silmarillion in Audio” at Nerds of a Feather.

Back when, after I read The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit, I tried to read The Silmarillion. I was still in my early teens and frankly, reader, I didn’t know what I was in for, and I bounced off of it and did not try it again for a decade. It took the second effort for me to understand the power and beauty that was to be found within, but even then, it was not the easiest of reads. Portions of it are like the Appendices to the Lord of the Rings, other parts myth and legend, other parts resembling the outline of a tale that could be told in many more pages (and in some cases, subsequently has)

But, friends, I am here to rescue you from those fears and difficulties and to get you into this Silmarillion, today. I am here to provide you a way to experience and absorb the book and get a feel for Tolkien’s earliest parts of his Legendarium, and that would be the audio edition, narrated by Martin Shaw….

(13) TODAY’S HISTORY & MORAL PHILOSOPHY HOMEWORK. It’s in Camestros Felapton’s “Review: Malnazidos (aka Valley of the Dead)”.

Is it OK to ally with fascists during a (localised) zombie apocalypse? That is today’s moral conundrum brought to you by the Spanish film Valley of the Dead (the Spanish title Malnazidos sounds cooler though).

I’ve seen Korean train zombies, Korean school zombies, British remake of Day of the Triffids zombies, Korean historical zombies, Las Vegas Casino zombies and WW2 zombies. Today’s spin on the genre is Spanish Civil War zombies….

(14) WIRE PALADINS. Also at Nerds of a Feather, “Review: The Saint of Steel Series by T. Kingfisher” is Roseanna Pendlebury’s overview of a three-book arc.

What happens when a god dies, but His berserker paladins are left behind without a hand on the holy reins? If T. Kingfisher’s Saint of Steel series is anything to go by, the answers are: angst, romance, lawyers, angst, tutting, solving murders, angst, exasperated bishops, angst, magical morticians and a lot of pragmatic, down to earth do-gooding. Each book (three currently published but more promised) follows one of the seven remaining paladins of the Saint of Steel as they rebuild their lives with each other, find love, and… yes, angst a bit….

(15) GOING SOLAR. Matt reviews “She Who Became The Sun by Shelley Parker-Chan”, a 2022 Hugo finalist, at Runalong the Shelves.

I often think exploration of power is a big part of fantasy. The rise of one; the search for power to defeat another and how power can work are all themes you can explore in tales from Tolkien, Abercrombie to Pratchett. One less explored theme is why do people do it? What makes someone decide out of all the things in the world they could do this is what I’ll choose to do with my life and the inevitable huge consequences this will have on their country, close relationships, and themselves? In Shelley Parker- Chan’s stunning She Who Became The Sun we get an examination of how the need to be great or to have revenge can send people down quite unexpected paths delivering a fascinating historical fantasy….

(16) FIRST EYES ON THE JWST PRIZE. The New York Times introduces readers to those who performed “The Lonely Work of Picking the Universe’s Best Astronomy Pictures”.

After the image flashes up on the projector, a few quiet beats tick by, punctuated only by a soft “wow.” Everyone is processing.

Then more “wows” bubble out, and people are talking over one another, laughing. Suddenly two astronomers, Amaya Moro-Martin and Karl Gordon, are out of their chairs, sticking their noses closer to the space fantasia onscreen, agog — “It’s a jet! This is full of jets!” — at the crisp, hallucinatory grandeur of new stars sprouting from a nebula like seeds from a flower bed.

The screen zooms in, in, in toward a jutting promontory many light-years long that stands out in sharp relief.

“Oh my god,” someone says — only that someone was me, accidentally.

“Welcome to the team,” someone else responds.

On Tuesday morning, this view of the Carina Nebula was made public alongside other new observations from the James Webb Space Telescope. But it made an earlier debut on another Tuesday morning — this one in June, when a small team clutching coffee cups gathered around a conference table at the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore for one of many morning meetings to receive, process and repackage for public consumption what humanity’s latest and greatest set of eyes could see — after the team members had first signed nondisclosure agreements to ensure no early leaks….

(17) COMPARE AND CONTRAST. NBC News lets viewers “Compare photos from NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope and the Hubble Space Telescope”.

The first images from the James Webb Space Telescope are just a preview of the impressive capabilities of NASA’s $10 billion, next-generation observatory. Billed as the successor to the iconic Hubble Space Telescope, which launched into orbit in 1990, Webb was designed to peer deeper into space than ever before, with powerful instruments that can capture previously undetectable details in the cosmos. 

Here’s how the Webb telescope stacks up to its famous predecessor….

(18) WHO ARE YOU? (DOC WHO, THAT’S WHO!) According to the Huffington Post, “This NASA Picture Is Giving Brits 1980s Nostalgia”. They’re referring to the first JWST image released the other day.

The image is a photo composite made from images at different wavelengths, adding up to 12.5 hours, and it shows the galaxy cluster as it appeared 4.6 billion years ago.

Despite the significance of the new release though, there were plenty of people who couldn’t help noticing it reminded them of something: Doctor Who.

More specifically, the opening credits to the long-running fantasy/science-fiction show during earlier seasons.

Several people referenced Peter Davison, the fifth doctor who was in the role between 1982 and 1984, and pointed out that the image reminded them of this particular era….

Others joked about it clearly being a nod to the fourth doctor, Tom Baker, who starred in the series between 1974 and 1981.

(19) INSIDE JOB. A special trailer from Disney celebrates that Tron and Tron: Legacy are now available on Disney+.

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

The SFWA Silent Auction’s Final Hours

The SFWA Silent Auction closes in less than 24 hours. If last year was any indication, this is when bidding starts to go wild. What’s also wild is how many amazing deals can still be had, particularly ones of special interest to SFF creators. Find all the items at the SFWA Auction at http://bitly.com/sfwaauction, and place your bids by Monday, May 16, 12 Noon Pacific Time. Here are just a few to check out:

Virtual Career Advising Sessions

These auction items are 30-minute long, one-on-one Zoom-based meetings with an SFF professional who can offer you advice from their experience on the next steps in your career. Each is scheduled for a specific day, so check that time when you check them out. Several have leading bids for as low as $25!

  • Anya Joseph’s short fiction can be found in Fantasy Magazine, Andromeda Spaceways Magazine, and Mythaxis, among many others. Their debut novel, Queen of All, is an inclusive adventure fantasy for young adults. Bid here.
  • Bryan Young’s work as a writer and producer has been called “filmmaking gold” by The New York Times. He’s also published comic books with Slave Labor Graphics and Image Comics; been a regular contributor for the Huffington PostStarWars.com, SYFY, & more; wrote the critically acclaimed history book, A Children’s Illustrated History of Presidential Assassination; co-authored Robotech: The Macross Saga RPG and wrote a novel in the BattleTech Universe called Honor’s Gauntlet. He teaches writing for Writer’s Digest, Script Magazine, and at the University of Utah. Bid here.
  • Sam J. Miller’s books have been called “must reads” and “bests of the year” by USA Today, Entertainment Weekly, NPR, and O: The Oprah Magazine, among others. He is the Nebula and Astounding Award-winning author of Blackfish City, which has been translated into six languages. Miller’s short stories have won a Shirley Jackson Award and been nominated for the World Fantasy, Theodore Sturgeon, and Locus Awards, and have been reprinted in dozens of anthologies. Bid here.

Additional virtual career sessions are available from Justina Ireland, SFWA CFO Nathan Lowell, Lou Aronica, Nebula finalist Premee Mohamed, Marisca Pichette, former SFWA presidents Mary Robinette Kowal and Cat Rambo, C. L. Polk, Jennifer Brozek, Dan Kobodlt, Chelsea Mueller, Cecilia Tan, and Ajit George! Find them all here.

Kaffeeklatsches

Kaffeeklatsches are a mainstay of SFF con culture! They’re essentially informal hangouts with your favorite creators. Each of these 1-hour-long virtual kaffeeklatsches has four seats up for bidding, and is set for a specific time and date. The winning bidders will all join the creator in the same Zoom room for their session. Seats for many featured storytellers are beginning at $20!

  • Jennifer Brozek’s A Secret Guide to Fighting Elder Gods, Never Let Me Sleep, and The Last Days of Salton Academy were finalists for the Bram Stoker Award. She was awarded the Scribe Award for best tie-in Young Adult novel for BattleTech: The Nellus Academy Incident. Grants Pass won an Australian Shadows Award for best edited publication. A Hugo finalist for Short Form Editor and a finalist for the British Fantasy Award, Jennifer is an active member of SFWA, HWA, and IAMTW. Bid here.
  • Alma Alexander is a fantasy writer whose novels include the Worldweavers young adult series. Alexander’s life so far has prepared her very well for her chosen career. She was born in a country which no longer exists on the maps, has lived and worked in seven countries on four continents (and in cyberspace!), has climbed mountains, dived in coral reefs, flown small planes, swum with dolphins, touched two-thousand-year-old tiles in a gate out of Babylon. She is a novelist, anthologist and short story writer. Bid here.
  • Carlos Hernandez, the author of Andre Norton Nebula finalist Sal and Gabi Break the Universe, won a Pura Belpré Author Award from the American Library Association. Hernandez is also the author of Sal and Gabi Fix the Universe, and The Assimilated Cuban’s Guide to Quantum Santeria, along with numerous stories and poems, mostly in the speculative mode. He is an English professor at City University of New York, and he loves to both play games and design them. Bid here.

Kaffeeklatsch seats are also available for Carrie Jones, former SFWA presidents Cat Rambo and Mary Robinette Kowal, Chuck Wendig, C. L. Polk, David Brin, former SFWA Secretary Deborah J. Ross, current SFWA President Jeffe Kennedy, incoming SFWA Director-At-Large Jordan Kurella, Julie E. Czerneda, Justina Ireland, Marie Brennan, Natalia Theodoridou, Nisi Shawl, Nebula finalist Premee Mohamed, Nebula finalist Sam J Miller, Nebula winner and finalist Sarah Pinsker, Tim Waggoner, Wole Talabi, and game author Jonathan Cassie. Find them all here.

There are also written and virtual manuscript critiques available from many great authors for a steal of only $30, and of course, tuckerizations, signed books and book collections, rare books, collectibles, signed game guides, and more! 

Since the auction opened, they’ve also added three sets of Munchkins charity postcards signed by illustrator John Kovalic, AND this one-of-a-kind Munchkin card, hand-drawn and autographed by him.

Why yes, you did read that correctly: The bearer of the card, if a SFWA member, gets two extra levels when played! 

Bidding will be fierce for that card, and for many of the rare books and collectibles we have an offer. But if you’re lucky, you can take advantage of the virtual sessions we highlighted above and hopefully win at a great price, while leveling up your career knowledge.

May Lady Luck smile upon you, and may you share these opportunities far and wide, so Lady Luck smiles on SFWA with the final total! The money raised will benefit a number of SFWA programs, including providing support for the organization’s expanding membership and their advocacy for all SFF writers. 

[Based on a press release.]

SFWA Silent Auction Is Live, Continues Through May 16

The Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, Inc., (SFWA), a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, is holding its second annual online “silent auction” to support its advocacy efforts for all creators and its over 2,200 members. The auction opened today and continues until  May 16, 2022, at 12:00pm Pacific. The auction website is here: bitly.com/sfwaauction.

SFWA has partnered once again with Worldbuilders, an organization of “geeks doing good” that supports humanitarian efforts worldwide. The money raised will benefit SFWA programs that positively influence the future of the science fiction and fantasy genres. It will also bolster the organization’s work in modeling best practices for professional industry standards with a focus on educating and strengthening speculative fiction creators and the surrounding community. 

A few examples of the work SFWA has undertaken to address the needs and challenges that speculative fiction storytellers face today: 

  • Over 200 scholarships are being targeted to creator populations in need for this year’s Nebula Conference Online. 
  • The #DisneyMustPay Task Force is continuing its work to make sure that writer contracts are honored after major media acquisitions. 
  • SFWA’s Independent Authors Committee is launching the HARP project to aid older and disabled authors in self-publishing their out-of-print oeuvres. 
  • And SFWA’s benevolent funds—including the Legal Fund, the Emergency Medical Fund, and the Givers Fund Grants—continue to provide targeted, essential support for many creators and organizations in the field. 

Featured auction items this year include:

  • Signed books and collectibles including a signed, first edition of A Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin; jewelry handcrafted by Mercedes Lackey, a one-of-a-kind Wooden train autographed by 23 authors including Neil Gaiman and Connie Willis; rare and collectible books by Robert Heinlein and other Golden Age authors; signed books by Nino Cipri, Fonda Lee, Kate Heartfield, Annalee Newitz, Carrie Vaughn; and much more.
  • Manuscript critiques from A.C. Wise, Curtis C. Chen, E.D.E. Bell, Kel Coleman, Lucienne Diver and many others.
  • Virtual career advising sessions with Cecilia Tan, Dan Koboldt, Jennifer Brozek, Lou Aronica, Marisca Pichette, Sam J Miller, and more.
  • Tuckerizations by Alaya Dawn Johnson, Deborah J. Ross, Justina Ireland, Wole Talabi, and many others.
  • Virtual Author Kaffeeklatsches with Carlos Hernandez, Cat Rambo, C.L. Polk, Chuck Wendig, David Brin, Jeffe Kennedy, Jordan Kurella, Justina Ireland, Marie Brennan, Mary Robinette Kowal, Natalia Theodoridou, Nisi Shawl, Premee Mohamed, Sarah Pinsker, Tim Waggoner, and more.
Mercedes Lackey jewelry

SFWA President Jeffe Kennedy says, “Our amazing fundraising committee, along with generous donors from across the SFF community, have put in an incredible amount of work on this project. I think everyone will be excited to avail themselves of the fantastic offerings and contribute to an excellent cause at the same time.”

View all items here.

HIGHLIGHTED ITEMS

AUTOGRAPHED TRAIN

TUCKERIZATIONS AND VIRTUAL CAREER SESSIONS

KAFFEEKLATSCHES

AUTOGRAPHED ITEMS

HEINLEIN 46-VOLUME VIRGINIA EDITION

Pixel Scroll 5/5/22 I Have Pixeled The Scrolls That Were In The File, And Which You Were Probably Saving For Worldcon

(1) FREE COMIC BOOK DAY DRAWS NEAR. May 7 is Free Comic Book Day, a single day when participating comic book specialty shops across North America and around the world give away comic books to anyone who comes in. Check out the Free Comic Book Day Catalog and see what’s available. Different shops have policies on how many free comics you can receive, but you will receive at least one free comic if you enter a participating shop location. Use the Store Locator tool to find the shop near you.

(2) TAFF DELEGATE COMING HOME. Trans-Atlantic Fan Fund delegate Michael “Orange Mike” Lowrey made it through the Covid protocol and is scheduled to return to the U.S. from the U.K. tomorrow.

(3) FLAME ON. The House of the Dragon official teaser trailer is live.

History does not remember blood. It remembers names. August 21.

HBO also released these character posters.

(4) OPERATION FANTAST LEGACY BUSINESS ENDING. [Item by Andrew Porter.] Susie Haynes, owner of Fantast Three, will close the business after importing and distributing the July/August issues of The Magazine of Fantasy & Science FictionAnalog SF, and Asimov’s SF, the US SF magazines she imports. She has already sold off her remaining stock of science fiction books.

It was originally begun as “Operation Fantast” by British SF fan Ken Slater, who played a major role in restarting British science fiction fandom after World War II. 

He created Operation Fantast to get around British post-WW II import and currency restrictions. This was turned into the bookseller Fantast (Medway) Ltd. in 1955. When Slater died in 2008 his daughter took over the business. Between them, the business had existed for 75 years.

(5) OVERCOMER HONORED. The American Library Association announces: “Martha Hickson receives the 2022 Lemony Snicket Prize for Noble Librarians Faced with Adversity”. The award was established in 2014 by the American Library Association in partnership with Snicket series author Daniel Handler. The prize, which is co-administered by ALA’s Governance Office and the Office for Intellectual Freedom, annually recognizes and honors a librarian who has faced adversity with integrity and dignity intact. The prize is $10,000, a certificate and “an odd, symbolic object.” 

Martha Hickson, media specialist at North Hunterdon High School in Annandale, New Jersey, has been selected as the recipient of the 2022 Lemony Snicket Prize for Noble Librarians Faced with Adversity. Daniel Handler, also known as Lemony Snicket, will present Hickson with the award—a cash prize and an object from Handler’s private collection—during the American Library Association (ALA) Annual Conference & Exhibition on Sunday, June 26, 2022 in Washington DC.

There has been no shortage of high-profile censorship challenges infesting school libraries across the United States since students returned from pandemic confinement in the Fall of 2021, but it was a fight that Hickson had already been fighting, tooth and nail. In fact, she has persevered through several book challenges since she began as a high school librarian in 2005. In 2021, however, the battle reached a new peak.

When a community group attended the Board of Education (BOE) meeting and demanded that two award-winning books with LGBTQ+ themes—Gender Queer by Maia Kobabe and Lawn Boy by Jonathan Evison (and later three additional LGBTQ+ titles)—be pulled from the library shelves, their allegations not only attacked the books but Hickson herself, labeling her by name as a pornographer and pedophile for providing children with access to the titles in question. In the following weeks, she endured personal attacks from the community, hate mail, threats, nuisance vandalism, and even questions about her judgment and integrity from her administration. In fact, the open adversity became so pervasive and extreme that her blood pressure and anxiety rose to the dangerous point where her physician removed her from her workplace.

Despite this adversity, however, Hickson persisted and persevered in her unwavering defense of her students’ right to intellectual freedom and right to read, including galvanizing a group of community allies to attend the BOE meetings, gathering testimonies from LGBTQ+ students, recruiting local author David Levithan to write a statement of support, and even consulting and offering advice on censorship battles to the library community at large. At the January BOE meeting, the resolution to ban the five books in question was effectively voted down, and all challenged books remain proudly on the North Hunterdon High School library shelf….

(6) BOGUS OFFERS. The Bookseller warns “Fraudster impersonates HarperCollins editorial director and offers book contracts”.

A fraudster has been impersonating a HarperCollins editorial director and sending out messages offering book contracts.  

Phoebe Morgan, editorial director at HarperFiction, revealed on Twitter that someone has been using a fake HarperCollins account and claiming to be her. She said the impersonator has been using her photo and background information, but could be identified as a fraud by the email address, which replaced the two “l’ letters in HarperCollins with the number “1”.  

She tweeted: “If someone says they’re a crime editor wanting to offer a contract please flag as suspicious. HC would never contact you in that way”. 

The tactic is similar to the one said to be used by Filippo Bernardini, a former rights assistant at S&S UK who was arrested and charged by the FBI with allegedly stealing hundreds of book manuscripts over several years….  

(7) STREET SMARTS. “’Kimmel’ Tests People On ‘Star Wars’ vs. U.S. History And You Know What Happened”HuffPost sets the frame:

Kimmel’s crew asked random people on Hollywood Boulevard questions about the space opera franchise and U.S. history.

(8) HAVE YOU RED? [Item by Joey Eschrich.] On June 1, Future Tense is cohosting the latest in our Science Fiction/Real Policy Book Club series, discussing All Systems Red by Martha Wells. Here are the details. I should note that the author won’t be joining us—for this book club series, we want to focus on discussion and deliberation, rather than on getting the behind-the-scenes. RSVP here.

The novel explores a spacefaring future in which corporate-driven exploratory missions rely heavily on security androids. In Wells’ engaging – at times funny – tale, one such android hacks its own system to attain more autonomy from the humans he is accompanying. The result is a thought-provoking inquiry into the evolving nature of potential human-robot relations.

Join Future Tense and Issues in Science and Technology at 6pm ET on Wednesday, June 1 to discuss the novel and its real-world implications. The book club will feature breakout rooms (they’re fun and stress-free, we promise) where we can all compare notes and share reactions, even if we didn’t finish the book (though we picked a short one this time!).

(9) AND BEYOND. This promo for Lightyear dropped today.

(10) TINTIN CREATOR. Nicholas Whyte discusses “Hergé, Son of Tintin, by Benoît Peeters” at From the Heart of Europe.

…Like all good Belgian comics fans, I’m fascinated by the adventures of Tintin and by their creator. This is a really interesting biographical study, by a writer who met Hergé an interviewed him a couple of times, and has now lived long enough to absorb the mass of critical commentary on Hergé’s work that has emerged over the decades.

I learned a lot from it. In particular, I learned that it’s very difficult to navigate exactly how close Hergé came to collaboration with the occupying Germans during the war…

(11) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

1992 [By Cat Eldridge.] Forever Knight, a vampire detective series, premiered thirty years ago, and concluded with the third-season finale just over three years later. This series was filmed and set in Toronto. 

It was created by Barney Cohen who wrote Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter, and James D. Parriott, who was responsible for Misfits of Science.

It starred Geraint Wyn Davies, Catherine Disher, Nigel Bennett, Ben Bass, Deborah Duchêne and Blu Mankuma. It is considered the predecessor to such series as Angel

It managed in its short span to run on CBS (the first season), first-run syndication (the second season) and the USA Network (the third and final season). 

So what was its reception? Well the Canadian TV industry loved it but I suspect that was because it was providing a lot of jobs. Seriously it wasn’t for the quality of the scripts. I watched it enough to see that it was really badly written. Forever Knight was nominated for thirteen industry Gemini Awards, and won once in 1996. 

It was as one reviewer at the time noted a soap opera: “The acting in this one is decent but there was more time than I can count where I was rolling my eyes by how much the cast was hamming it up. The characters are fun but they often slip away into the cliched void of day time soaps.” 

I don’t think it is streaming anywhere currently.

(12) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born May 5, 1908 Pat Frank. Author of Alas, Babylon who also wrote a 160-page non-fiction book, How To Survive the H Bomb And Why (1962). (Insert irony here if you want.) Forbidden Area, another novel, he wrote, was adapted by Rod Serling for the 1957 debut episode of Playhouse 90. (Died 1964.)
  • Born May 5, 1922 Joseph Stefano. Screenwriter who adapted Bloch’s novel as the script for Hitchcock’s Psycho. He was also a producer for the first season of Outer Limits and wrote a total of twelve episodes. He also the screenwriter for the very horrifying Eye of The Cat. He wrote Next Generation’s “Skin of Evil” episode. And he was producer on the original Swamp Thing. (Died 2006.)
  • Born May 5, 1942 Lee Killough, 80. Author of two series, the Brill and Maxwell series which I read a very long time ago and remember immensely enjoying, and the Bloodwalk series which doesn’t ring even a faint bell. I see she’s written a number of stand-alone novels as well – who’s read deeply of her? Her only Hugo nomination was at Aussiecon Two for her short story, “Symphony for a Lost Traveler”.  And in the early Eighties, she wrote an interesting essay called “Checking On Culture: A Checklist for Culture Building”. Who’s read it? 
  • Born May 5, 1943 Michael Palin, 79. Monty Python of course. I’ll single him out for writing the BFA-winning Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life and co-writing the BSFA-winning Time Bandits with Terry Gilliam. He and the rest of the troupe were Hugo finalists in 1976 for Monty Python and the Holy Grail. And it might be at least genre adjacent, so I’m going to single him out for being in A Fish Called Wanda for which he won the BAFTA Award for Best Actor in a Supporting Role. 
  • Born May 5, 1944 John Rhys-Davies, 78. He’s known for his portrayal of Gimli and the voice of Treebeard in the Lord of the Rings trilogy, General Leonid Pushkin in The Living Daylights, King Richard I in Robin of Sherwood, Professor Maximillian Arturo in Sliders, a most excellent Hades in the animated Justice League Unlimted series, Hades in Justice League and Sallah in the Indiana Jones films. Oh, and voicing Macbeth in the exemplary Gargoyles animated series too. He’s getting his action figure shortly of Macbeth from NECA! 
  • Born May 5, 1957 Richard E. Grant, 64. He first shows up in our world as Giles Redferne in Warlock, begore going on to be Jack Seward in Bram Stoker’s Dracula. On a lighter note, he’s Frederick Sackville-Bagg in The Little Vampire, and the voice of Lord Barkis Bittern in Corpse Bride. He breaks into the MCU as Xander Rice in Logan, and the Star Wars universe by being Allegiant General Enric Pryde in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker. Now I had forgotten that he’s in the Whoverse twice, once seriously and once very not. The first appearance was the latter as he in Doctor Who and the Curse of Fatal Death as The Conceited Doctor. And then he plays the Great Intelligence in three episodes of Doctor Who.
  • Born May 5, 1979 Catherynne Valente, 43. I personally think her best work is The Orphan’s Tales which The Night Garden got Otherwise and Mythopoeic Awards, while the second work, In The Cities of Coin and Spice, garnered the latter Award as well. Palimpsest which is one weird novel picked up, not at all surprisingly a Lambda and was nominated for a Hugo at Aussiecon 4. The first novel in the incredibly neat Fairyland series, The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making, picked up a coveted Norton. (Well I think it’s coveted.) Next up is “Fade to White,” novelette nominated for a Hugo at LoneStarCon 3, and a favorite of mine, the “Six-Gun Snow White” novella, was a nominee at LonCon 3. Let’s finish by noting that she was part of SF Squeecast which won two Hugos, the first at Chicon 7 then at LoneStarCon 3. 

(13) COMICS SECTION.

  • Garfield requires your imagination to fill in the horrific vision.
  • The Argyle Sweater shows a monster with dietary restrictions.
  • Tom Gauld reveals little-known-facts about a well-known fantasy series.

(14) IF YOU HAVE MONEY TO BURN. “Fahrenheit 451 Leads AntiquarianAuctions.com Sale” reports Fine Books & Collections. This is the fireproof edition. Place your bid at AntiquarianAuctions.com through May 11.

…The sale starts with flourish: lot 1 is the best available copy of the signed limited edition of Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 (NY: 1953), bound in ‘Johns-Manville Quinterra an asbestos material with exceptional resistance to pyrolysis’ it is estimated at $13000 to 18000, but has a reserve at just $10,000. This is accompanied by 14 other lots of similar works, including 2 others from Bradbury (Dark Carnival [Sauk City: Arkham, 1947], and an excellent copy of the 1st paperback edition of 451 [NY: Ballantine; 1953]).

(15) COOL ANIMATED COMPILATION. View the “Top 100 3D Renders from the Internet’s Biggest CG Challenge” at Infinite Journeys.

During February 2022, I challenged 3D artists with the Infinite Journeys 3D challenge, where I provided artists with a simple animation of a moving “vehicle” and they built out their own customs scenes. Of the 2,448 entires, the top 100 were chosen for this montage, and 5 of them walked away with insane prizes from Maxon, Rokoko, Camp Mograph, Wacom, Looking Glass Factory, and mograph.com.

(16) DOES CRIME PAY? At Nerds of a Feather, Roseanna Pendlebury’s “Microreview [Book]: Book of Night by Holly Black” includes some criticisms but overall gives strong reasons to add this book to our TBR piles.

… The story follows Charlie Hall, a reformed con artist and thief who used to work adjacent to the shady (ha) world of the gloamists, who work magic on shadows, but she’s now trying to keep on the straight and narrow. She’s working a normal job bartending at a dive bar, dating a reliable boyfriend about whom she’s having some doubts and trying to help her little sister get into college. Obviously, this doesn’t last, and she gets pulled back into the world she tried to leave behind. Much like Black’s YA books, the plotting isn’t desperately original, but that’s also not what it’s aiming for, really.

What it is aiming for, and succeeds at, is a fun, dark, enthralling bit of world building, something that the reader can immediately get sucked into and get the feel of, while still with plenty of mileage to build throughout the story. And her gloamists are absolutely that. There’s sexy crime – daring heists of secret magical books – as well as secrecy, hidden arts, a potential pedigree stretching way back into history – the secret magical tomes to be stolen have to come from somewhere, right? – and plenty of scope for there being downtrodden people who can use their wits to outfox the powerful….

(17) BE PREPARED. And Paul Weimer, in “Centireview: Inheritors of Power by Juliette Wade”, advises Nerds of a Feather readers that to really enjoy this third novel in the author’s series they ought to start at book one:

…That all said, however, as much as Wade can prepare a reader new to the world to the complexities of the Varin and their very alien human society, this is a novel that really relies on knowledge of the previous two books, both on a high worldbuilding and also on a character level to really succeed. With the basis of that two novels, though, it is clear to me here, that this is a rich and deep and complex story that I get the feeling Wade has wanted to tell from the beginning, and from this point. 

There is a theory in writing that one of the keys to writing any work of fiction is to know where the story begins and to start the story at that point,. In some ways, the rich story of this novel, of which I will speak shortly, seems to be the story that Wade has wanted to tell since the beginning of Mazes of Power. In Wade’s case, however, and for the readers, this story only really can work as a story if you have the background of the first two novels in order to get the full force and impact of what happens here….

(18) CATCH AND RELEASE. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] “A helicopter caught and released a rocket this week” and Popular Science explains why. (Video here briefly shows the linkup around 52:30.)

…“At 6,500 ft, Rocket Lab’s Sikorsky S-92 helicopter rendezvoused with the returning stage and used a hook on a long line to capture the parachute line,” Rocket Lab said in a release. “After the catch, the helicopter pilot detected different load characteristics than previously experienced in testing and offloaded the stage for a successful splashdown.”

For this specific launch, the catch ended up being more of a catch-and-release, but that attempt still went an important way to demonstrating the viability of the option. Knowing that the release worked—that the helicopter crew was able to snag the rocket and then determine they needed to jettison the booster—is a key part of proving viability. A method that involves helicopters but jeopardizes them pairs reusability with risk to the human crew….

(19) FLY ME TO THE MOON. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] Well, OK, not to the Moon. Not even to low Earth orbit. But almost 5 miles is still fairly high. For the first time, SpinLaunch put a camera onboard one of the projectiles for their suborbital centrifugal launch test platform. Choosing a camera for the payload was probably a good idea, since I don’t think even fruit flies would have enjoyed the ride.

Gizmodo introduces a “Dizzying Video Shows What It’s Like to Get Shot Out of a Centrifuge at 1,000 MPH”:

…Such tests are becoming routine for SpinLaunch, with the first demonstration of the kinetic launch system occurring last October. This time, however, the company did something new by strapping a camera, or “optical payload,” onto the 10-foot-long (3-meter) projectile.

Footage from the onboard camera shows the projectile hurtling upwards from the kinetic launch system at speeds in excess of 1,000 miles per hour (1,600 kilometers per hour). The flight lasted for 82 seconds, during which time the test vehicle reached an altitude of over 25,000 feet (7,620 meters), according to David Wrenn, vice president of technology at SpinLaunch….

(20) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In “Harry Potter and the Goblet of fire Pitch Meeting,” Ryan George says the fourth Harry Potter film brings back many familiar plot points, including the speech from Dumbledore about the many ways Hgwarts students can die.  The producer,being told of a test where several characters nearly drown, says “wizards are not OK people.”  Trivia lovers will note this film was Robert Pattinson’s debut.

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

Pixel Scroll 3/25/22 Look At The Scroll Turn Hell-File Red! Someone’s Pixel’s Clicking Down, Down, Down

(1) THIS IS WILD. Brandon Sanderson invites you to watch as “We Back Every Publishing Kickstarter*”. As one commenter said, “Never thought I would watch a 30+ minute video of someone funding Kickstarters.” I had to watch the whole thing myself!

Today we are going to do something awesome. The Kickstarter has been successful beyond my wildest dreams, so I got my team together and I said what can we do to give back a little to this community that has supported us so well? So we are going to back every single Kickstarter in the publishing category. This is going to be awesome. …And indeed, some of these we’re going to pull out and we’re going to talk about why we’re backing them and what’s cool about them and so we’re going to do a time lapse for you and you can watch in real time as we back these all… 

In the middle of this, the Sanderson team tripped over a previously unknown-to-them Kickstarter function which sends all of their own backers an email every time they back another one. After a load of emails had gone out Kickstarter locked up their account! The team had to open a new account to keep going. (At first they worried that — doing the multiplication – they had unintentionally generated nine million emails. They soon learned it was a lot less – the emails only go to those who opt-in to receive such notices.)

(2) ELDEN RING. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In the Financial Times behind a paywall, Tom Faber reviews FromSoftware’s release The Elden Ring.

Here is the DNA which defines a FromSoftware game: difficulty which borders on masochism; finely-tuned combat that rewards patience; and storylines told through text that necessitates elucidation in YouTube explainers. Elden Ring continues the tradition, weaving the classic ingredients through a storyline written with the assistance of Game of Thrones author George RR Martin.  You are ‘a Tarnished,’ tasked with venturing across the decaying ‘Lands Between to reunite pieces of a broken ring and become the ‘Elden Lord.’

It doesn’t matter.  For most players, the plot will come a distant second in a bold change in the FromSoftware formula:  a vast open world of great beauty where almost everything wants to kill you.  While the graphics look dated by current standards, the design is stunning: misty forests, golden cities, and rotting red deserts you race past on your trusty spirit-horse, Torrent.

(3) ROWLING DECLINES PUTIN’S DEFENSE. “Vladimir Putin Claims West Is ‘Trying To Cancel’ Russia” reports Deadline.

Russian premier Vladimir Putin has delivered a TV address in which he claimed the West is “trying to cancel” his country.

During a deranged-sounding rant, translated and broadcast by Sky News, Putin at one point said that Harry Potter author JK Rowling had been similarly cancelled “just because she didn’t satisfy the demands of gender rights”….

Rowling’s response was carried by BBC News: “JK Rowling hits back at Putin’s ‘cancel culture’ comment”.

JK Rowling has hit back at Vladimir Putin, after the Russian president cited her in a wide-ranging speech that saw him criticise “cancel culture”.

At a televised meeting on Friday, Mr Putin compared recent criticism of the Harry Potter author to that faced by pro-war Russian composers and writers.

In response, Ms Rowling denounced the invasion of Ukraine in which she said Russia was “slaughtering civilians”.

Rowling has been criticised for her views on transgender issues.

“Critiques of Western cancel culture are possibly not best made by those currently slaughtering civilians for the crime of resistance, or who jail and poison their critics,” the Harry Potter author wrote on Twitter.

In the lengthy speech, which was given to the winners of various cultural prizes, President Putin claimed Russian composers and writers were being discriminated against.

(4) POLL TESTS SUPPORT FOR BOOK BANS. “ALA Poll Finds Public Broadly Opposes Book Banning Efforts” reports Publishers Weekly.

By large majorities, American say they oppose recent efforts to remove books from schools and libraries, and say they trust in librarians to make appropriate collection decisions. The news comes from a national poll commissioned by the American Library Association, released this week at the Public Library Association conference in Portland, Ore.

Amid a proliferation of new legislation in some states and an uptick in efforts to ban books nationwide, the ALA poll found that 71% of voters oppose efforts to remove books from public libraries, including majorities of voters across party lines. Furthermore, 74% of parents of public school children expressed “a high degree of confidence” in school librarians to make good decisions about which books to make available to children. The poll also found librarians to be held in high in their communities….

(5) COVER REVEAL. [Item by Bence Pintér.] Valancourt Books unveiled the cover for Attila Veres’s debut collection in English: The Black Maybe. Attila is the top Hungarian weird/horror author, I am really glad to see him published in the US. The book will be released in October.

…This volume collects ten of his best tales in English for the first time, ranging from weird fiction like ‘In the Snow, Sleeping’, in which a couple’s vacation to a health spa erodes into a surreal nightmare, to folk horror like ‘Return to the Midnight School’, in which the things that emerge from the soil in one rural farming community are bizarre and horrific, to Lovecraft-inspired tales like ‘Multiplied by Zero’, written as a wry travelogue in which a man sets out on a deadly holiday tour to explore Lovecraftian landscapes. And in the title story ‘The Black Maybe’, which Steve Rasnic Tem calls ‘one of the weirdest tales I’ve read in years’, a girl and her family escape the bustling city to experience farm life, only to discover with unimaginable horror the truth of what is really being harvested there….

(6) ESSAY: FRITZ LEIBER’S HUGOS. [Item by Cat Eldridge.] I recently listened to one of the audio versions of Fritz Leiber’s The Big Time, the one narrated by Suzanne Toren, which was his first Hugo win for Best Novel or Novelette at Solacon (1958). It would be the first of six Hugos and two Retro Hugos that he would garner in a long and distinguished career. (A movie based on one of his books also won.) So let me recount these. 

After the win for The Big Time, he next picked two nominations at Detention (1959), one for a novelette, “A Deskful of Girls” and one for a short story, “Rump-Titty-Titty-Tum-TAH-Tee” (and may I say that I really, really love that title?); another short story, “Scylla’s Daughter”, was nominated at Chicon III (1962), the same year he picked a Special Award for “The Use of SF in Advertisements”. Anyone care to tell me about this award pretty please? 

At the first DisCon (1963) he picked up a short story nomination for “The Unholy Grail”. Also nominated for Best Dramatic Production that year was Burn, Witch, Burn, also known as Night of the Eagle, which as you know is based off Leiber’s Conjure Wife, 

Loncon II (1965) saw The Wanderer novel pick up a Hugo, and “Stardock” was a finalist at Tricon (1966) as a short story nominee. “Gonna Roll Them Bones” picked up the Novelette Hugo at Baycon (1968) with “Ship of Shadows” garnering the Best Novella at Heicon ’70. 

The first Noreascon (1971) would see his “Ill Met in Lankhmar” novella win a Hugo. (I truly love those stories, one and all.)  And then the first Aussiecon (1975) would see his “Midnight by the Morphy Watch” novelette nominated for a Hugo and the next year at MidAmeriaCon (1976), his “Catch That Zeppelin!” short story won a Hugo. 

That’s it for Hugos, though there’s the matter of Retro Hugos too. L.A. Con III (1996) would see his Destiny Times Three novel nominated and Millennium Philcon saw the “Coming Attraction” short story likewise. Another short story, “The Sunken Land”, got nominated at Worldcon 76 (2018). At Dublin 2019, where two of his novels were on the Retro Hugo ballot, Conjure Wife outpolled Gather, Darkness for Best Novel, while his “Thieves’ House” novelette was also a finalist.  

His last Retro Hugo was CoNZealand (2020) for Best Fan Writer. He’d also get a nomination that year for Best Related Work for The Works of H. P. Lovecraft: Suggestions for a Critical Appraisal.

(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born March 25, 1927 Sylvia Anderson. Film producer, writer, voice actress and costume designer, best known for her collaborations with husband Gerry Anderson on such Supermarionation series as ThunderbirdsSupercarFireball XL5 and Stingray. She was responsible for much of the actual shows and the characters on them, in particular creating the iconic characters of Lady Penelope and Parker in Thunderbirds. (Died 2016.)
  • Born March 25, 1920 Patrick Troughton. The Second Doctor, of course. Troughton had a long genre resume starting with Hamlet and Treasure Island early on before proceeding to such works as Scars of Dracula and Frankenstein and the Monster from Hell later on. Telly-wise, I see him on R.U.R. Radius playing a robot, on a Fifties Robin Hood show being that character, and later on in The Feathered Serpent, a children’s series set in pre-Columbian Mexico where he starred as the scheming High Priest Nasca. H’h (Died 1987.)
  • Born March 25, 1939 D. C. Fontana. You know that I’m not going to be able to give her complete précis here? She’s that complex a writer and producer, so I’m sticking to her writing side here. She’s first of all a script writer and story editor, best known for her work on the original Trek franchise but she was also involved on Logan’s RunThe Six Million Dollar Man, and Buck Rogers in the 25th Century. She was a story editor on the short-lived Fantastic Journey, and so many revisions made to her script for Battlestar Galactica’s “Gun on Ice Planet Zero” that her name is nowhere near it.  Oh, and she created the story that became “Encounter at Farpoint”. Impressive that. My absolute favorite work by her is “The War Prayer” episode for the first season of Babylon 5, based on a idea by Straczynski.  She even wrote an episode of the series Reboot! (Died 2019.)
  • Born March 25, 1942 Richard O’Brien, 80. He wrote The Rocky Horror Show forty-nine years ago which has remained in almost continuous production globally. He also co-wrote the screenplay of The Rocky Horror Picture Show film which came out just two years later. He appears in the film as Riff Raff. He’s in Casino Royale as a stunt performer and in the 1980 Flash Gordon as Fico. The Robin of Sherwood series had him in a recurring role as Gulnar. 
  • Born March 25, 1942 Jacqueline Lichtenberg, 80. She was nominated at the second DisCon for Best Fan Writer, the year Susan Wood won, and Neffy (National Fantasy Fan Federation Speculative Fiction Award) for Fan of the Year thirty-four years later. She’s written a number of Trek works and more fiction in the Sime/Gen ‘verse which I hadn’t known existed until now. If you’re so interested in the latter, she’s extremely well stocked at the usual suspects.
  • Born March 25, 1947 Paul Levinson, 75. “The Copyright Case” novelette would garner him a much deserved HOMer Award. It was the first work in a series of novels and short stories featuring the fascinating NYPD forensic detective Dr. Phil D’Amato who first appeared in Levinson’s “The Chronology Protection Case” novelette. You can purchase it from the usual digital sources.
  • Born March 25, 1964 Kate DiCamillo, 58. She is one of only six people to win two Newbery Medals for her novels The Tale of Despereaux and Flora & Ulysses. I’m not familiar with the latter work, but the former is a wonderful read that got turned into a remarkably good film as well, something that but rarely happens alas. 

(8) COMICS SECTION.

(9) PRINCE VALIANT ART. Nate D. Sanders Auctions is offering art from “The John Cullen Murphy Prince Valiant Estate” – bidding closes March 31.

We’re pleased to offer collectors nearly 400 lots of Prince Valiant artwork from the estate of John Cullen Murphy, the man handpicked by creator Hal Foster to continue Val’s epic journey of adventure, romance and bravery. Never before have so many lots of original Prince Valiant art been available at auction, ranging from preliminary sketches by Hal Foster, to full-page strips by John Cullen Murphy from the 1970s to 2000s. The result is a feast for the eyes and heart, the grand illustrations that Prince Valiant is known for, coupled with the characters and tales that have captivated millions of fans the world over.

(10) WHAT WAS THE NAME OF HIS OTHER LEG? (Come on, you’ve seen Mary Poppins, you don’t need the straight line.) “Why C-3PO Had a Silver Leg in the Original Star Wars Trilogy”CBR looks for the answer.

Over the decades, part of what has made the Star Wars franchise so interesting to its fans is the slew of questions that have arisen from the films. While some of them were answered in future movies and TV shows, others remained largely unanswered or unexplored in any form of media. However, that doesn’t mean that there may not be some history to it in some way, and a great example of that fact can be found in C-3PO’s silver leg from the Original Trilogy.

In an interview with Threepio actor Anthony Daniels, he explained the various changes and updates to his suits over the years and how they’ve adapted over time. For example, when he reached The Empire Strikes Back, he discussed how his shin was never gold but a shade of silver. While it was easy to see on the action figures, most of A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back made it far more challenging to see. But Daniels also explained some clever behind-the-scenes reasons as to why the leg appeared gold on camera….

(11) INHALE, EXHALE, CRUSH. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] I know it’s not SF-ish but I do like questions like this… “Why boa constrictors don’t suffocate when they squeeze their prey to death” at Science.

The fearsome boa constrictor (Boa constrictor) lives up to its name. Whenever it’s hungry, the 4-meter-long snake wraps itself around rodents, birds, or even pigs, literally squeezing the life out of them. So why don’t boas collapse their own lungs in the process?

To find out, scientists strapped a blood pressure cuff (like the one your doctor uses) around the midsections of eight boas in their lab…. 

(12) TOMBSTONE TERRITORY. This might be a spoilerCinemaBlend gives directions: “RIP James Bond: No Time To Die Fans Can Now Pay Their Respects To The Final Resting Place Of Daniel Craig’s 007”.

… Through the Guide to the Farroe Islands website, fans of Ian Fleming’s legendary creation can now book what’s being called “the official James Bond tombstone tour.” On this seven hour excursion, a guided tour will take participants through the sights and sounds of Kalsoy island, where No Time To Die filmed its sequences involving the evil lair of Rami Malek’s Safin. The main attraction is the very spot where James Bond stood in his last moments, as that is now the spot of a tombstone honoring the man himself….

(13) PHONE ON A LEASH. “Too Much Screen Time? Landline Phones Offer a Lifeline” reports the New York Times.

First came the rhinestone-encrusted rotary. Then the cherry-red lips. After that, the cheeseburger.

By last summer, Chanell Karr had amassed a collection of six landline phones. Her most recent, an orange corded model made as a promotional item for the 1986 film “Pretty in Pink,” was purchased in June. Though she only has one of them — a more subdued VTech phone — hooked up, all are in working order.

“During the pandemic I wanted to disconnect from all of the things that distract you on a smartphone,” said Ms. Karr, 30, who works in marketing and ticketing at a music venue near her home in Alexandria, Ky. “I just wanted to get back to the original analog ways of having a landline.”

Once a kitchen staple, bedside companion and plot device on sitcoms such as “Sex and the City” and “Seinfeld,” the landline phone has all but been replaced by its newer, smarter wireless counterpart….

(14) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In “Spider-Man–Best Picture Summary,” the three Spider-Men make fun of the Best Picture nominees.  With The Power Of The Dog, they say, “You want Dr. Strange acting like a jerk?  We have that!”

[Thanks to Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Melanie Stormm, Chris Barkley, Rob Thornton, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Bence Pintér, Andrew Porter, Michael Toman, and Cat Eldridge for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Xtifr.]

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

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

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

What is a drabble?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Category: Science Fiction

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

Wrong question: Who is John Green?

Correct question: Who is Hank Green?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(6) MEMORY LANE.

1993 [Item by Cat Eldridge]  

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pixel Scroll 1/21/22 Just A Come-On From The Scrolls On Pixel Avenue

(1) THE MIND’S EYE. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] Carmen Maria Machado was interviewed by Mikaella Clements in a Washington Post story about whether fiction writers see their characters as they’re writing about them. “Gillian Flynn, Carmen Maria Machado and other authors discuss their creative process”.

…Carmen Maria Machado describes a similar experience with “Especially Heinous,” a short story from her collection “Her Body and Other Parties.” “I was in the shower shampooing my hair and I suddenly had this image of a woman with bells ringing in her eye sockets.” Machado says that her deeply visual imagination infiltrates every element of her life. “It’s like there’s something playing inside of my head all the time, when I’m listening to music, walking around and writing as well.”…

(2) FINALLY IN THEATERS. Kurt Loder tells what he thinks of the film based on the late Vonda McIntyre’s Nebula-winning novel The Moon & the Sun in “Review: The King’s Daughter” at Reason.com.

… Considering the film’s cast (Brosnan, William Hurt, Kaya Scodelario, Chinese superstar Fan Bingbing) and its probable CGI costs (even though much of the budget was covered by Chinese production companies), it’s odd that The King’s Daughter is debuting in the joyless wastes of January. (The picture was shot in 2014 and quickly strangled in its crib, for various movie-biz reasons and maybe the 2018 decision by the Chinese government to come down hard on Fan for major tax fraud). In any case, here it finally is….

Author McIntyre went to France in 2014 to witness location filming at Versailles.

(3) WRITER DRAWS THE LINE. Star Trek writer David Mack has announced that he will not attend the Farpoint Convention in Maryland next month because the convention will not require attendees to provide proof of vaccination and/or a recent negative COVID test. “David Mack – Why I’ve withdrawn from Farpoint Con 2022”.

…On Tuesday, January 11, I emailed Farpoint via the programming chair, Cindy Woods, to express my concerns and reservations concerning this lax approach to health and safety. My message read, in part:

“Per item 2, I am seriously troubled by the concom’s decision to not require proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test for attendees, guests, and staff.

“The proffered explanation that this decision was made out of concern about the privacy of attendees’ private health information rings hollow. Many other small, fan-run and volunteer-supported conventions are managing to check vaccination and test status for their attendees without it being an undue burden on them or an imposition on their attendees and guests.

“I would strongly urge the Farpoint team to reconsider this section of its COVID policy immediately, and to plan for verification of attendees’ vaccination statuses and/or recent negative test results.”

Cindy replied that the Farpoint committee intended to discuss the matter again during its next meeting, scheduled for the weekend of January 15-16, and that she would share with them my concerns and inform me of their conclusions.

Their response and final decision was, to be blunt, disappointing….

(4) TAKEDOWN RECTIFIED. The Fantasy Book Critic blog has had its service restored after a flood of wrong DMCA takedown notices by the Link-Busters anti-piracy service caused it to be removed by host Blogger. Link-Busters subsequently acknowledged their mistake.

(5) PICARD SEASON 2. The new season of Star Trek: Picard premieres March 3, 2022 on Paramount+.

(6) TENTH DOCTOR COMIC. Titan Comics has revealed Cover A for Doctor Who: Special 2022 by artist Adam Hughes.

Doctor Who: Special 2022 is written by Dan Slott (Spider-Man) and illustrated by Christopher Jones and Matthew Dow Smith.

Writer Dan Slott is set to delight fans with an epic story that sees companion Martha Jones captured by the insatiable Pyromeths, and her only hope for survival is to keep them distracted with sensational untold tales of the Tenth Doctor facing off against his greatest foes – both classic and new!

Doctor Who: Special 2022 Comic Book One-Shot (SC, 64pp, $7.99) hits stores on April 27, 2022. Pre-order from your local comic shop and Forbidden Planet (UK/Europe).

(7) ROBOPOP. [Item by Olav Rokne.] Yesterday was the the 25th anniversary of Daft Punk’s debut album “Homework,” which might be worth noting given both how the band has been reflected in sci-fi movies, and given the fact that they took on stage personas as robots. One of the most science-fictional bands ever to hit the mainstream. “The real story of how Daft Punk became the robots” at DJ Mag.

Daft Punk have taken on a robot form for so long that it’s hard to remember a time that they didn’t don their famous helmets for public appearances. Although the official line has been well told — the one with an exploding discoball — in this excerpt from his new book, Daft Punk’s Discovery: The Future Unfurled, Ben Cardew tells the real story of how the enigmatic French duo transformed into robots, according to those closest to them at the time…

… The helmets, according to Martin, were very heavy and “quite a faff”. But they looked fantastic. Bangalter and De Homem-Christo’s robotic outfits initially comprised a bespoke helmet each, a gauntlet that allowed them to control the helmet’s electronics, a pair of gloves and a “spaceman backpack” to hide the wiring and hardware. All of this was created by special effects expert Tony Gardner from initial designs by Alexandre Courtès and Martin Fougerol, artist friends of the band. …

(8) NOW YOU KNOW THE REST OF THE STORY. Radio Times keeps track of all the Doctor Who loose ends and celebrates whenever one of them gets tied up – no matter how many years it takes! “Doctor Who teaser confirms what happened to Peri”.

Nicola Bryant played companion Peri Brown opposite Colin Baker’s Sixth Doctor in the 1980s, but the character appeared to meet a dark fate in her final appearance as a series regular.

In the 1986 story The Trial of a Time Lord, the alien Kiv appeared to transplant his brain into Peri’s body, effectively killing her. It was later suggested, however, that Peri had survived, that the evidence of her death had been faked, and that she was now living as queen to the warrior king Yrcanos (Brian Blessed).

Fans never actually saw this happen, however, with some remaining convinced that Peri had died, while others were just curious as to what exactly her life with the eccentric King Ycarnos would’ve entailed.

36 years later and we’ve finally got our answer, as part of a trailer for the next classic Doctor Who Blu-ray set – The Collection: Season 22.

(9) MEAT LOAF OBIT. Singer Meat Loaf has died at the age of 74 reports the New York Times. His earliest genre credit cast a long shadow —

…His first major film role came in 1975 in the cult classic “The Rocky Horror Picture Show,” in which he played Eddie, a delivery boy murdered for his brain by the cross-dressing Dr. Frank-N-Furter. …More recently, he had a role in several episodes of the TV series “Ghost Wars” from 2017-18.

(10) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

1935 [Item by Cat Eldridge.] Eighty-seven years ago, Charlie Chan in Paris, the seventh in that series, premiered. It was directed by Lewis Seiler as written by the trio of Earl Derr Biggers, Philip MacDonald and Stuart Anthony. All the films featured Warner Oland, a Swedish-American actor who had also played Fu Manchu. Oland would play this role sixteen times.

Honolulu Police detective Lieutenant Chan was created  by Biggers who wrote six novels in which he appears. The House Without a Key is the first one. It’s available from the usual suspects for ninety nine cents. 

Biggers loosely based Chan on Hawaiian detective Chang Apana and was intended to be the opposite of Fu Manchu. The real detective actually solved very few murder cases as he worked mostly on opium cases. M 

Over the years eleven different actors would portray him including Peter Ustinov and Ross Martin. 

This film was considered lost for decades until a print was discovered in Czechoslovakia with a collector in the seventies. After a number of showings in various revival cinemas throughout the States, it was released on DVD as part of a collection.  All of the films are in the public domain so you can watch it here.

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born January 21, 1923 Judith Merril. Author of four novels, Shadow on the HearthThe Tomorrow PeopleGunner Cade, and Outpost Mars, the last two with C. M. Kornbluth. She also wrote many short stories, of which twenty-six are collected in Homecalling and Other Stories: The Complete Solo Short SF of Judith Merril (NESFA Press). She was an editor as well. From 1956-1966 she edited a series of volumes of the year’s best sf. Her collection England Swings (1968) helped draw attention to the New Wave. Oh, and between, 1965 and 1969, she was an exemplary reviewer for The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction. (Died 1997.)
  • Born January 21, 1925 Charles Aidman. He makes the Birthday Honors for having the recurring role of Jeremy Pike on The Wild Wild West, playing him four times. Other SFF appearances include Destination SpaceThe InvadersTwilight ZoneMission: Impossible and Kolchak the Night Stalker to name but a few of them. (Died 1993.)
  • Born January 21, 1938 Wolfman Jack. Here because I spotted him showing up twice in Battlestar Galactica 1980 playing himself according to IMDb. He also had genre character roles in the Swamp Thing and Wonder Women series plus two horror films, Motel Hell and The Midnight Hour. (Died 1995.)
  • Born January 21, 1939 Walter C. DeBill, Jr., 83. An author of horror and SF short stories and a contributor to the Cthulhu Mythos. Author of the Observers of the Unknown series about a Lovecraftian occupy detective which is collected is two volumes, The Horror from Yith and The Changeling. They don’t appear to be in print currently.
  • Born January 21, 1956 Diana Pavlac Glyer, 66. Author whose work centers on C. S. Lewis, J. R. R. Tolkien, and the Inklings. She teaches in the Honors College at Azusa Pacific University in California. She has two excellent works out now, The Company They Keep: C. S. Lewis and J. R. R. Tolkien as Writers in Community and Bandersnatch: C. S. Lewis, J. R. R. Tolkien, and the Creative Collaboration of the Inklings.

(12) FREE COMIC BOOK DAY IS MAY 7. Marvel Comics is getting a head start on Free Comic Book Day publicity by announcing the first of its three separate Free Comic one-shots. (This one also has a variant cover.)

 Announced last week, Spider-Man is gearing up for a brand-new era just in time for the character’s 60th anniversary! Fans who pick up Free Comic Book Day: Spider-Man/Venom #1 will see the very beginning of the major storylines writer Zeb Wells and legendary artist John Romita Jr. have planned for their run on Amazing Spider-Man, including Tombstone’s first steps towards becoming Spidey’s most terrifying villain.

Free Comic Book Day: Spider-Man/Venom #1 will also give fans a chance to check out the thought-provoking work Al Ewing, Ram V, and Bryan Hitch are doing on Venom! The groundbreaking changes this mastermind trio has in store for the symbiote mythos starts here!

(13) EATING THE FANTASTIC. Scott Edelman invites listeners to dig into duck with Usman T. Malik in Episode 163 of his Eating the Fantastic podcast.

Usman T. Malik

Usman T. Malik won the British Fantasy Award for his novella The Pauper Prince and the Eucalyptus Jinn, which was also nominated for both the World Fantasy and Nebula Awards. His story “The Vaporization Enthalpy of a Peculiar Pakistani Family” won the Bram Stoker Award for Short Fiction. His stories have been published in such magazines as Strange HorizonsBlack StaticNightmare, and Tor.com, as well as anthologies such as Black Feathers: Dark Avian TalesThe Mammoth Book of Cthulhu: New Lovecraftian FictionFinal Cuts: New Tales of Hollywood Horror and Other Spectacles, and others. His collection Midnight Doorways: Fables from Pakistan, was published in 2021.

We discussed why the first pandemic year was his most prolific period ever as a writer, how the Clarion Workshop helped him decide what kind of writer he wanted to be, our shared concerns over revising our early stories, the way his medical training gives him an intriguing advantage as a writer, how every love story is a ghost story and every ghost story is a love story, what it was like running Pakistan’s first science fiction writing workshop, why he prefers Stephen King to Dean Koontz (and what that taught hm about his own writing), the cautionary tale told to him by Samuel R. Delany, how writers teach readers the way they should be read, and much more.

(14) FOR THOSE OF YOU JUST TUNING IN. Raquel S. Benedict has posted a transcript of the Rite Gud podcast episode “A Guide to Squeecore”.

JR: I was going to say, we can go back and talk about what is “squee”. If we’re going to call it squeecore, we have to say, what is the definition of “squee”, that horrible, horrible word? And I have a little –

RSB [crosstalk]: Right. Yeah. So what is the definition of squee?

JR [crosstalk]: As I defined it – yeah. “Squee” is a culture term for a sound or expression of excitement or enthusiasm. It’s the opposite of “feh” or “meh”, and very close kin to “amazeballs” and “epic sauce”. It represents a specific feeling, a type of frisson that readers value; the tingle of relatability as a beloved character does something cool, or says something “epic” and snarky.

RSB: [laughs]

JR: The essence of squee is wish fulfillment. Squeecore lives for the “hell yeah” moment; the “you go, girl” moment; the gushy feeling of victory by proxy. It’s aspirational; it’s escapism; it’s a dominant, and I would even say gentrified, form of SFF.

(In case you’re asking “How come Mike doesn’t say who JR is?” the answer is that’s the only identification given at the link.)

(15) INFLATION INDEX. Nate Sanders Auctions has set a minimum bid of $9,500 for this “First Edition, First Printing of Frank Herbert’s ‘Dune’ in Original Dust Jacket” – which is remarkable for a copy that was originally circulated by the Fitchburg Public Library of Massachusetts.

(16) THE ENEMY OF MY ENEMY. MSN.com reports “Doctors Used Bacteria-Killing Viruses to Take Down an Incurable Superbug”.

The enemy of our bacterial enemy can indeed be our friend. In a new case report, doctors say they were able to treat their patient’s long-festering, drug-resistant infection with the help of specially grown bacteriophages—viruses that infect bacteria. Large-scale clinical trials will likely be needed for these treatments to become widely used, though….

But by the 1940s, with the advent of the modern antibiotic era, phages had fallen out of favor for several reasons. The first antibiotics that saw wide use were broad-spectrum, able to quickly treat many different types of infections, and relatively easy to scale up in mass production. Phages, on the other hand, were harder to purify and store, and their benefits were often inconsistent.

Scientists and doctors in some parts of the world where antibiotics were less available, such as Eastern Europe and India, did continue to research and use phage therapy, though. And eventually, it became clear that antibiotics weren’t quite as miraculous as we’d hoped. Bacteria have evolved resistance to these drugs over time, to the point where we’re now seeing infections that can’t be treated at all. So, understandably, scientists have expressed renewed interest in phages as a weapon against bacteria in recent decades.

(17) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] Dinosaurs invade the UN in this commercial from the UN Development Program. The message: Extinction is a bad thing!

…You’re headed for a climate disaster, and yet every year governments spend hundreds of billions of public funds on fossil fuel subsidies. Imagine if we had spent hundreds of billions per year subsidizing giant meteors….

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

Chicon 8 Silent Auction Runs Thru December 18

By Helen Montgomery, Chicon 8 Chair: The World Science Fiction Convention (Worldcon) is the annual convention of the World Science Fiction Society (WSFS), an unincorporated literary society. Worldcon started in 1939, and Chicon 8 will be the 80th Worldcon.

We are running a silent auction now through Saturday, December 18 at 4:00 p.m. Eastern time. The auction benefits the Chicago Worldcon Community Fund, and can be found here: https://www.32auctions.com/chicon8

Chicon 8 is a group of fans who love Chicago and love Worldcon! Some of us have a lot of experience in running conventions, and others are new to convention running. The Worldcon will be returned to Chicago for a record eighth time, and we plan to build upon our previous experiences to show the world our beautiful city, and either introduce them or welcome them back to our amazing local fandoms.

The best thing about Worldcon is the people. Worldcon is an event where amazing, awesome people come together to create, to learn, to make, to do, and to participate with one another as we build our community together.

Our community becomes amazing when we are able to help as many people as we can join us.

This auction is to raise funds for our Chicago Worldcon Community Fund (CWCF), which is here to facilitate bringing more people into our community by attending the Worldcon in Chicago in 2022. The CWCF is a special fund to help defray the expenses of attending Chicon 8 for the following groups of people:

  • Non-white fans or program participants
  • LGBTQIA+ fans or program particpants
  • Local Chicago area fans of limited means

By participating in the auction, you will be helping fans from around the world be able to attend Chicon 8! And you’ll get cool stuff!

Again, the auction can be found here and will be open until Saturday, December 18 at 4:00 p.m. Eastern time.

For more information about the Chicago Worldcon Community Fund and the link to donate to the Fund, please visit our website.