Pixel Scroll 5/5/24 Unscroll That Pixel And Do Us All A Favor, That File’s Lost Its Taste, And Try Another Flavor

(1) TROUBLED DENVER EVENT WON’T REPEAT IN 2025.  Anne Marble did a roundup about the complaints against Readers Take Denver in Pixel Scroll 4/22/24 item #5.

On May 3 USA Today did its own story about those complaints —“Rebecca Yarros disavows Denver expo amid horror stories, cancelation” – with the additional news that RTD 2025 has now been cancelled.

…All of the negative attention Readers Take Denver has received in the days, weeks following the event has prompted the cancellation of next year’s convention, which was previously scheduled for February 2025….

(2) TURNING THINGS TO GOLD. The original artwork for the cover of Harry Potter and The Philosopher’s Stone will be auctioned June 26 by Sotheby’s reports CNN. It’s expected to set a record.

…When the illustration was first up for auction at Sotheby’s in London in 2001, it sold for around four times its estimated sale price, for a record £85,750 (about $106,000), according to a Sotheby’s press release Thursday.

…The record for an item related to the book series is currently held by an unsigned first edition of “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone,” which sold for $421,000 at Heritage Auctions in Dallas, Texas, in 2021, according to Sotheby’s.

(3) SPOILER WARNING. There’s one in this item. Maybe two. “How Harry Potter Author J.K. Rowling Told Alan Rickman About Snape” in Deadline.

JK Rowling has shared the conversation she had with actor Alan Rickman, when she revealed to him the true complications of his character in the Harry Potter movies.

Rowling has recorded an interview for her website, answering fans’ questions about her writing process, with a preview transcribed in today’s Times of London. She revealed:

He rang me up and said, ‘Look, I’m spinning plates here. I really need to understand what Snape’s up to? Am I a pure baddie?’ He was the only person I told: ‘You were in love with Harry’s mother.’

Continues at the link.

(4) THE OTHER SIDE OF THE MEMORY HOLE IS IN SCOTLAND. “Scottish artist receives hundreds of copies of Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four in the post” – the Guardian tells why.

Copies of George Orwell’s dystopian masterpiece Nineteen Eighty-Four have been arriving at an artist’s studio in Edinburgh for months. Every shape and size, posted from Ukraine, Hong Kong, Peru, Germany, Cape Cod and Sarajevo.

Some are in mint condition, others are dog-eared, tea-stained, heavily annotated or turned into graffitied art works. One is a water-stained first edition; one is a secret love letter from a married woman to her first love; another, a graphic novel version, came from Orwell’s son Richard Blair.

Each has been donated to a unique installation in the community hall of Jura, the Hebridean island where Orwell, in dire poverty and desperately ill, wrote Nineteen Eighty-Four during the late 1940s, to mark its publication 75 years ago.

Hans K Clausen, a sculptor based in Edinburgh, is collecting 1,984 copies of the book to exhibit on Jura for three days in early June. It will be an interactive, “living” sculpture where visitors are invited to open and read every volume.

Many have arrived, often with overseas postmarks and customs stamps, addressed to “Winston Smith, care of Hans K Clausen”….

(5) JEOPARDY! [Item by David Goldfarb.] I got around to watching the first episode of the new Jeopardy! Masters tournament. Each episode has two games. I didn’t notice any SFF content in the first game, but there was in the second. Here are details:

In the first round:

Spell it!, $1000: How about this dwarves race of “Ring Cycle” fame whose name begins & ends with the same letter

Yogesh Raut got it: “What is N-I-B-E-L-U-N-G-E-N?”.

Meet the Smiths, $400: Matt Smith’s TV roles include the Doctor on “Doctor Who” & this member of the royal family on seasons 1 & 2 of “The Crown”

Yogesh again: “Who is Prince Philip?”

In the second round:

Authors’ Fictional Places, $2000. A Daily Double on which Yogesh bet 9400 points: The town of Eastwick, Rhode Island

Yogesh said, “Who is John Updike?” (The novel here being The Witches of Eastwick.)

Authors’ Fiction Places, $1600: A world of dragons & dragonriders, Pern

Amy Schneider rang in, then hesitated, but got to “Who is McCaffrey?”

Authors’ Fictional Places, $1200. They displayed a picture of a bespectacled, bald man holding a cloth, sitting next to a model of a fantasy setting that Filers would recognize. The clue: Resting on the backs of four elephants atop a giant turtle, Discworld.

Yogesh knew it: “Who is Pratchett?”

Author’s Fictional Places, $400: Castle Rock, Maine.

Yogesh again: “Who is King?”

(Fictional Places $800 was William Faulkner’s Yoknapatawpha County, in case you were wondering.)

(6) 2024 CHINA SCIENCE FICTION INDUSTRY REPORT. South China Morning Post covers this year’s report on China’s sf business: “China wants sci-fi industry, led by megahit 3 Body Problem, to help tech make the jump to lightspeed”.

China’s US$15 billion sci-fi industry, which has gained global attention after the success of the Netflix show 3 Body Problem, offers a potential boost to the economy while aligning with Beijing’s aspirations to become a tech powerhouse, analysts said, underscoring the need for stronger government backing to fortify the sector.

The industry achieved 113.29 billion yuan (US$15.6 billion) in total revenue last year, representing a 29 per cent year on year increase according to the 2024 China Science Fiction Industry Report, released last week during the eighth China Science Fiction Convention in Beijing.

Science fiction could also help companies conceptualise and produce new ideas, such as the establishment of a human settlement on Mars or brain-computer interfaces, according to Wu Yan, who co-authored the report….

(7) COPPOLA’S SF? EPIC. Whether it’s sff has been debated in the media – now you can decide with your own eyes. “’Megalopolis’ Teaser: Adam Driver Leads Francis Ford Coppola’s Epic”Variety gives us a look.

Adam Driver is on the edge in the first official teaser for Francis Ford Coppola’s “Megalopolis.”

“Megalopolis,” which will premiere in competition at the Cannes Film Festival, has been a project years in the making for the director, who first began work on the screenplay in the 1980s. The legendary filmmaker behind “The Godfather” and “Apocalypse Now” has invested $120 million of his own money into the film…. 

…According to the official synopsis, “‘Megalopolis’ is a Roman Epic fable set in an imagined Modern America. The City of New Rome must change, causing conflict between Cesar Catilina (Adam Driver), a genius artist who seeks to leap into a utopian, idealistic future, and his opposition, Mayor Franklyn Cicero (Giancarlo Esposito), who remains committed to a regressive status quo, perpetuating greed, special interests, and partisan warfare. Torn between them is socialite Julia Cicero (Nathalie Emmanuel), the mayor’s daughter, whose love for Cesar has divided her loyalties, forcing her to discover what she truly believes humanity deserves.”…

(8) BERNARD HILL (1944-2024). Bernard Hill, who played Theoden in Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings films, died May 5 reports Deadline. His best known film role was as the captain of the Titanic in James Cameron’s film. He played a number of secondary roles in about 20 genre/related productions, including A Midsummer Night’s Dream (1999), The Scorpion King (2002) and Gothika (2003).

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY.

[Written by Paul Weimer.]

Catherynne M. Valente in 2017.

Born May 5, 1979 Catherynne Valente, 45. By Paul Weimer: My strong impression of Cat Valente’s work came from the beginning of my reviewing life. Way back in the halcyon days of 2009, when I was first putting reviews out there, and getting review copies, I was offered a review copy of an author I had never heard before, named Cat Valente.  The novel was Palimpsest and well, the novel knocked me on my arse. Reader, I was not quite prepared for a novel that involved sex as a gateway to another realm of existence. It’s a sensuous, sensual and rich novel in immersive detail, and that immersion is something I would notice in future Cat Valente’s books.  I’ve not tried Palimpsest again, but I eagerly have read a number of her novellas and short stories. I particularly like “Six Gun Snow White” among these.

But, really, Space Opera is the one book I think of when I think of Cat Valente’s work.  Although I’ve never actually watched Eurovision, I know enough about it to understand the “Eurovision with Aliens in Space” high concept of Space Opera and I found the novel, like much of Valente’s work to be a sensory delight, queer, unapologetic, and with strongly defined and delineated characters. I think it is probably the one Valente book that if you are going to try Valente, that’s the one to try.  I know there have been discussions and thoughts about a sequel to the book ever since it came out, but part of the joy of Space Opera for me  is, like a lot of Valente’s other work, is that it is self-contained and complete within it’s pages. Sure, Valente has written other sequels and follow ups to other work, but this is a function I think of her exuberant and vivid writing, rather than any incompleteness in a work that needs sequels to resolve.

(10) COMICS SECTION.

  • Fur Babies  has a variety of cartoonists’ styles of sound effects in honor of the day.  Can you identify them before you get to the explanation in the comments?
  • Carpe Diem cites a space traffic violation.
  • Bizarro asks what if Lord Greystoke had been raised by another species?
  • Frank and Ernest identify their dinosaur attacker.
  • Mannequin on the Moon depicts the royal Shakespearean eye exam.

(11) COLLECTIBLE GHOSTBUSTERS GEAR. Take this to the beach and scare the guys with the metal detectors. “Ghostbusters Plasma Series HasLab Two in the Box! Ghost Trap and P.K.E” at Hasbro Pulse.

P.K.E. METER

It’s no secret Egon Spengler was a very hands-on, DIY kinda scientist, often cobbling together his hardware from common, everyday items, and the P.K.E. Meter is no different. Egon used an old electric shoe polisher for the bulk of this handheld piece of tech, which trades in footwear for phantasms, determining specter location and quantification. The P.K.E. Meter acts like a divining rod when near a spectral being, with a pair of motorized arms extending outward from the sides, embedded lights flashing in sync with detectable spectral frequencies. 

Fans will be happy to know that not only have the HasLab Lab Lab Techs included classic P.K.E. Meter features, such as Ghost Detection Mode, but they’ve also included a very special upgrade. Yes, that’s right, the HasLab P.K.E. Meter 1:1-scale premium adult collectible features Egon Spengler’s personal upgrade from his time as the Dirt Farmer, in Summerville: Taser Mode! Taser Mode, if you’re unfamiliar, turns the P.K.E. Meter into a taser that forces an apparition to reveal itself… or explode in a burst of marshmallow goo, as we know from Podcast’s dealings with the mischievous Mini-Pufts in the Ecto-1.

GHOST TRAP

Needing something to contain and transport paranormal entities to a more permanent housing facility (namely the Ecto-Containment Unit), Ray Stantz and Egon Spengler designed the Ghost Trap. Consisting of a main chassis and a removable cartridge, the Ghost Trap has limited battery life and was never meant to accommodate ecto-plasmic beings for any extended period.

 This 1:1-scale premium adult collectible features everything fans love about this vital piece of ghost-bustin’ gear, including the removable cartridge, high-powered LEDs, premium metal finishes, functioning diecast metal wheels for smooth deployment, and more! This thing is so gorgeous that ghosts will be throwing themselves at you just for a chance to get trapped within this highly detailed, premium collectible!

(12) TODAY’S THING TO WORRY ABOUT. “How Long Will Your Blu-Ray Collection Last?” asks Gizmodo.

Physical media is very popular these days. Nostalgia, fandom, and streaming burnout have caused certain segments of American society to switch off their Amazon Prime accounts and fire up their Blu-ray players. One of the many advertised benefits of physical media is that it offers a more permanent, definitive form of media ownership than a streaming service. But just how permanent are your Blu-rays? And is physical media really built to last?…

… Unfortunately, there isn’t a lot of open-source information about the longevity of commercially mass-produced Blu-rays, technically known as read-only discs, or BD-ROMs. The Blu-ray Disc Association, which developed and owns the technology behind the discs, ignored multiple emails I sent them, and the people that I did speak to on the subject couldn’t give me a very specific answer….

(13) DYKSTRAFLEX. “’Star Wars’ Motion Control Camera System Goes to Academy Museum”Variety explains its history.

A half-century ago when George Lucas decided to make “Star Wars,” a core visual effects team was handed a sizable challenge: Figure out a believable way to transport audiences to a galaxy far, far away. Essential to that goal was the development of a new type of motion control camera system: built in a Van Nuys warehouse where the production filmed space-set scenes such as the climatic trench run.

Now fans in Southern California can see the historic Dykstraflex camera system, newly restored and in working order, on display at the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures starting Saturday in recognition of May the 4th, aka Star Wars day. The system weighs 1,500 lbs. and will be demonstrated by VFX vets with a 14-foot track and studio scale replicas of the Millennium Falcon, which is five-feet long, and a 20-inch X-Wing fighter.

(14) THE BOYS. Prime Video dropped “The Boys – Season 4 Official Trailer” this week. The series arrives at Prime on June 13.

In Season Four, the world is on the brink. Victoria Neuman is closer than ever to the Oval Office and under the muscly thumb of Homelander, who is consolidating his power. Butcher, with only months to live, has lost Becca’s son and his job as The Boys’ leader. The rest of the team are fed up with his lies. With the stakes higher than ever, they have to find a way to work together and save the world before it’s too late.

(15) VIDEO OF THE DAY. Ryan George takes us to “The Divergent Series: Insurgent Pitch Meeting”.

[Thanks to Kathy Sullivan, Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, Paul Weimer, David Goldfarb, Martin Easterbrook, John King Tarpinian, Chris Barkley, Cat Eldridge, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Steven French, and Teddy Harvia for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Jack Lint.]

Pixel Scroll 4/15/24 No, cats do not have magical powers. Really they don’t. Would they lie?

(1) TODAY’S 40,000. [Item by Anne Marble.] A little Warhammer news… The official Warhammer Official X.com account just posted “In regards to female Custodians, there have always been female Custodians, since the first of the Ten Thousand were created.”

(It was in response to (this question in a longer thread.)

It’s fascinating to read the responses to this. Many fans are demanding they show them where this is shown in the lore. They are debating the official account.

Fans like these make me think, “Don’t make me have to feel sympathetic toward Games Workshop!”

From what I understand, this probably is retconning. But Warhammer is no stranger to retconning. They’re famous for retconning.

Angry fans are declaring that Games Workshop is going to kill the existing fanbase over this. They’ve accused them of “gaslighting” the fans. They are crying about “woke.” Some are claiming that they are returning the merchandise they were just about to buy all because of this. (Sure…)

People are predicting this is the “end” of Games Workshop. (They’ve been predicting this ever since 3D printing made it easier for people to make their own models.) Some are even blaming this stance on the fact that Vanguard and Group and BlackRock are now among the investors in Games Workshop.

But these are also the types of fans who do a lot of gatekeeping. If a fan has a different opinion, they call that fan a “tourist.” One dude was calling the people behind official lore “tourists.”

According to an older post by one of their well-known writers (Aaron Dembski-Bowden), this bit of lore was up for discussion years ago. But a “former IP overlord” said the characters couldn’t be women because the minis had already been produced, and they were all male.

The lore does say there are no known women Space Marines — and there are various theories about why. But Space Marines are also so altered that they are very different from what some would consider a stereotypical man. From what I have read, the Space Marines are sterile and asexual and chemically castrated.

Some people have been collecting screencaps of the responses. Also here. Here’s a selection:

The Fandom.com definition of a Warhammer 40k Custodian says Custodians are part of the Adeptus Custodes — the elite altered bodyguards of the Emperor. In comparison, the famous Space Marines the defenders of all humanity. And the Custodians are more powerful than them.

Also, while there is a lot of lore about the Space Marines, there is less lore about the Custodians.

For another perspective, I found some women fans who were upset because they thought it was badly done — and some who believed it was pandering to them. But most of the opposition seems to come from guys who use “woke” a lot. Some want to contact the Warhammer Community Outreach Manager about the change. Does that mean they are asking for the manager?

Disclaimer: I’m not a Warhammer player. However, I’ve been fascinated by the gaming system ever since I ran across a Warhammer Fantasy book called Warhammer City. I found Warhammer 40K even more fascinating because it’s so over-the-top. (It’s supposed to be.) So I ended up buying some of their novels.

(2) DON BLYLY MEDICAL UPDATE. Bookseller Don Blyly’s celebration of Uncle Hugo’s fiftieth anniversary was followed by a trip to the hospital, but he’s back at work already as he explained in his latest How’s Business? newsletter.

The week of the 50th Anniversary Sale was “interesting”.  For many years I heard the warnings about chest pains, and for many years I’ve had chest pains, but not quite like the medical advice described them.  Often, the pain seemed to be between my ribs, more often on the left side, but I didn’t think the pains were accurately reporting on where the problem was located.  And often I would let out a couple of large burps or farts and the chest pains would completely go away, so it seemed like the pains were not related to my heart. 

On the Monday after the anniversary I had a different kind of chest pain, a kind of pressure in the center of my chest, and it did not go away (but became somewhat less) after a couple of belches, and I started worrying a bit.  But Ecko had a doggie dental appointment Wednesday morning to have a tooth pulled that it had taken a month to set up, so I thought I’d get through that first if my pain didn’t get any worse.  My chest pain stayed about the same through Wednesday, and Ecko got through the extraction and was ordered to only have soft food for 2 weeks.  Thursday morning my chest pain was worse, so I went over with the staff of the store what to do if I had to go to the emergency room.    Just before noon the order of new t-shirts and sweatshirts arrived, a couple of weeks earlier than expected, and I wrote the check to the shirt guy.  Before I could start unpacking the 5 large cases of shirts, the pain became so bad that I decided to drive Ecko home, made arrangements for my son to pick her up at home after he got off work, and drove to the Abbott-Northwestern emergency room. 

It seems that one of the arteries in my heart was 99% blocked, and they quickly put in a stent.  The other arteries were partially blocked, but not enough to justify any more stents.  Swallowing a fist full of pills every day for the rest of my life is supposed to clear the other arteries and prevent a repeat of the heart attack.  After a couple of days they ran an echo-cardiogram to determine how much my heart had been damaged.  The doctor who interpreted the results told me that my heart was functioning at 45-50%.  I said that I didn’t feel that bad.  She said that nobody’s heart functions at 100% according to the standard used for the test–a perfectly healthy heart functions at 55% on the test, and that I would be back to 55% within a couple of months.  So, no permanent damage, but I’m supposed to take it easy for a while. 

About 48 hours after the stent was installed I got out of the hospital, and about an hour later got to the store to see how things were going.  A LOT of mail orders had come in while I was in the hospital, and Jon had pulled all the books and put them in piles so that I wouldn’t have to run all over the store finding them to process the orders.  And a lot of boxes of new books had arrived.  It took several days to get through all of that, and even longer to get through all the e-mails that had piled up.  But for several days I mostly sat in front of the computer and didn’t even think about going to the basement.

The hospital has been dribbling out the bills to the insurance company, and the insurance company has been letting me know how much I’m responsible for.  So far, the hospital has billed over $110,000, and so far I’m only responsible for $200….

(3) TUNES FROM THE TARDIS. [Item by Daniel Dern.] Not surprisingly given (some of) what I watch/listen to on YouTube, the YouTube Music app on my phone (which I’m not sure I’ve previously used, certainly not recently or muchly) burped up this (below) amusing item. I’m not enough of a Whovian to appreciate all the references, but enjoyed it natheless, and no doubt some of you more so. (And it turned out to be part of a playlist, which rabbit hole I timesinkedly explored, and will share my faves here, in days to come.) Doctor Who playlist.

(4) PAYING IT FORWARD. Gabino Iglesias shares some wisdom about anthologies in an X.com thread that starts here. Some excerpts follow:

(5) HIGH-PRICED DETECTIVE. From Newser we learn a “Handwritten Sherlock Holmes Draft Could Fetch $1.2M”

A rare, handwritten manuscript of the Sherlock Holmes novel The Sign of the Four by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle is up for sale this June at Sotheby’s, and it’s expected to fetch up to $1.2 million, breaking past sales records of his works. It’s the only handwritten copy of Conan Doyle’s second novel in existence, Smithsonian Magazine reports, and how this particular work was commissioned comes with a fun bit of history. According to CNN, the story begins in 1889 with Conan Doyle having dinner in London with JM Stoddart (an editor of US literary magazine Lippincott’s Monthly) and fellow author Oscar Wilde.

When Stoddart asked what the writers were working on, Conan Doyle committed to publishing a second Sherlock Holmes novel for the magazine, while Wilde said he’d submit his work in progress, The Picture of Dorian Gray. “It’s hard to think of two contemporary authors who might be less similar than Conan Doyle and Oscar Wilde,” Sotheby’s book specialist Selby Kiffer tells CNN. “And yet there they are at a dinner table together and talking about what they’re currently working on.”…

(6) SENDAK EXHIBITION IN LA. The Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles will host “Wild Things Are Happening: The Art of Maurice Sendak” from April 18-September 1.

Wild Things Are Happening is comprised of more than 150 sketches, storyboards, and paintings by Sendak drawn from the collection of The Maurice Sendak Foundation. Presented alongside landmark pictures for Sendak’s own books will be examples of artwork he created for such celebrated publications as The Bat-Poet by Randall Jarrell, A Hole is to Dig by Ruth Krauss, the Little Bear series by Else Holmelund Minarik, and Zlateh the Goat by Isaac Bashevis Singer. 

Designs for many of Sendak’s opera, theater, film, and television productions are also featured. His impact on the broader world of the performing arts is illuminated through his collaboration and friendship with directors, composers, playwrights, and visual artists, such as Carroll Ballard, Frank Corsaro, Spike Jonze, Tony Kushner, and Twyla Tharp. The exhibition will also highlight Sendak’s love of Mozart and the way the composer’s life and work influenced not only Sendak’s designs for Mozart’s operas, such as The Magic Flute, but also key books including Outside Over There and Dear Mili. As Sendak stated, “I love opera beyond anything, and Mozart beyond anything.”

This groundbreaking exhibition also adds new depth to audiences’ understanding of Sendak’s life—as a child of Jewish immigrants, a lover of music, someone with close personal relationships—and how it dovetailed with his creative work, which drew inspiration from writers ranging from William Shakespeare to Herman Melville. From portraits that he made of loved ones to archival photographs of family members to toys he designed as a young adult, the exhibition brings Sendak and his work to life in three dimensions….

Interior art for Higglety Pigglety Pop! Or, There Must Be More to Life. Originally published in 1967.

(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY.

[Written by Cat Eldridge.]

Born April 15, 1933 Elizabeth Montgomery. (Died 1995.) The beauty of these Birthdays is that I can decide that one series that a performer did is enough to be worthy of a write-up. So it is with Elizabeth Montgomery and her ever-so-twinkly role as the good witch Samantha Stephens on the Bewitched series.

I loved that series and still do. Bewitched is one of those series that the Suck Fairy keeps smiling every time she comes near it. Obviously she too has very fond memories of it. 

Sol Saks in interviews said that the Forties film I Married a Witch based on Thorne Smith’s partially-written novel The Passionate Witch, and John Van Druten’s Broadway play Bell, Book and Candle, adapted into a 1958 film of the same name, were his inspirations for the pilot episode. These films were properties of Columbia Pictures, which also owned Screen Gems, the company that would produce Bewitched

Bell, Book and Candle is the prime story source as that has the good witch Gillian Holroyd, played by Kim Novak, casting a love spell on Shep Henderson as played James Stewart to have a fling with him but she genuinely falls for him.

Bewitched debuted sixty years ago this Autumn. It would run on ABC eight seasons, for two hundred and fifty episodes. 

Let’s discuss the other cast of Bewitched. Dick York was Darrin Stephens, her husband and I thought that he was a perfect comic foil for her. Dick Sargent would replace the ailing York for the final three seasons.  It’s been too long since I’ve seen the series but I think I remember his chemistry with her being a little less smooth.

So the next major cast member was Agnes Moorehead as Endora, Samantha’s mother. She worked fine in her role which was that she disapproved of her daughter’s decision to marry a mortal. She often times casts spells on Darrin for her own amusement, but mostly to try to drive Darrin away from Samantha. (It didn’t work. At all.) Despite that, she is the most frequent houseguest and one of the most loyal members of Samantha’s family who dotes on her grandchildren, Tabitha and Adam. 

Then there’s his boss, Larry White, who was played by David Tate, and he was well cast in that role, and many crucial scenes took place at the Madison Avenue advertising agency McMann and Tate where Darrin worked.

So that brings us to Elizabeth Montgomery. She began her performing career in the the Fifties with a role on her father’s Robert Montgomery Presents television series. She’d also be a member of his summer theater company. 

She turned out to be very popular and was kept busy performing consistently from there on. She’d have two genre roles prior to Bewitched, the first being as Lillie Clarke on One Step Beyond in “The Death Waltz” and, because everyone seemingly has to be in at least an episode of it, on The Twilight Zone as Woman in “Two”. The only other actor here is Charles Bronson as, oh guess, Man. It’s a piece of pure SF by Montgomery Pittman who also wrote the scripts for “The Grave” and “The Last Rites of Jeff Myrtlebank”. 

So now we come to her in Bewitched,  and the role that she was perfect for.  It’s hard to write her up here without noting sexism of the time as her beauty was definitely the attraction for many of the viewers as opposed to her talent according to some of the news articles at the time. Or so said the critics. 

But talented she was, displaying a deft comedic touch that I’ve seen in few female performers since her as she never overplayed her role, something that would’ve been oh so easy to do. She was Samantha Stephens, the very long-lived witch who defied witchery tradition and married a mortal. 

Do note that it openly depicted them sleeping together and sexually attracted to each other. No separate beds here.

The first episode, “I Darrin, Take This Witch, Samantha” was filmed a short while after she gave birth to her first child. 

She was intelligent, not reserved and depicted as more than a match for anyone who might get in her way. Unusual for a female character of that time. 

I have over the years rewatched many of the episodes, and they do hold up rather well provided you like Sixties comedy. I think this along with such shows as My Favorite Martian and The Munsters are some of the finest comic genre work done.

(8) COMICS SECTION.

(9) JEOPARDY! [Item by David Goldfarb.] This is a little belated, but I thought you might like to hear about SFF or genre-adjacent clues on last Thursday’s Jeopardy! episode.

In the first round:

Unreal Estate, $800:

The English village of Puddleby-on-the-Marsh is where this animal lover has his medical practice

Alison Betts tried “What is James Herriot?” but it was Brian Hardzinski who had the correct response, “Who is Doctor Dolittle?”

Abbreviated Television, $400:

In the ‘90s we had “ST: DS9”

Brian: “What is Star Trek: Deep Space 9?”

$800:

Don’t space out (or do) with “FAM”

Triple stumper, nobody made the attempt. This was Apple TV+’s alternate history space show, “For All Mankind”.

“T.P.”, $400:

Kyle MacLachlan was the clean-cut FBI agent investigating a murder in the very strange title town of this series

Returning champion Lee Wilkins gave us, “What is Twin Peaks?”

Unreal Estate, $400:

On his third voyage, this man travels to the flying island of Laputa, where the people are so lost in thought they notice little else

Alison: “Who is Gulliver?”

Double Jeopardy round:

Some Timely Words, $1200:

This 6-letter word means to go back in fictional time & rewrite the past of a character or narrative for a new work

Brian: “What is retcon?”

Final Jeopardy: Space Shuttles

2 space shuttles were named for craft commanded by this man, who died far from home in 1779

Lee: “Who is ?” — no answer.

Brian: “Who is Cook?” Correct. The vessels: Discovery and Endeavour.

Alison: “Who is Cook?” She was the game’s winner.

(10) MAS ECLIPSES. “Meet The Country About To Have Three Solar Eclipses In Three Years”Forbes arranges the introduction.

What if your country suddenly had three major solar eclipses in three years? As the world’s attention fades from Monday’s “Great American Eclipse,” there’s a realization that there’s not another one in the U.S. until 2033. So where is the next eclipse?

It’s in Spain. Then Spain again, and again.

A few years ago, Argentina and Chile staged two total solar eclipses—one a glorious sight and another a rain-affected, COVID-affected event—but it’s another Spanish-speaking country that is about to take the eclipse baton….

(11) USE THE FORCE. The Guardian’s Harry Cliff submits “The big idea: are we about to discover a new force of nature?”

… There are four forces that we already know about. Gravity governs the grandest scales, marshalling the planets in their orbits and shaping the evolution of the universe as a whole. Electromagnetic force gives rise to a vast range of phenomena, from the magnetic field of the Earth to radio waves, visible light and X-rays, while also holding atoms, molecules and, by extension, the physical world together. Deep within the atomic nucleus, two further forces emerge: the vice-like “strong force”, which binds atomic nuclei, and the “weak force”, which among other things causes radioactive decay and enables the nuclear reactions that power the sun and the stars.

Studying these forces has transformed our understanding of nature and generated revolutionary new technologies. Work on electromagnetism in the 19th century gave us the electric dynamo and radio broadcasts, the discovery of the strong and weak forces in the 1930s led to nuclear energy and atomic bombs, while understanding gravity has made it possible to put astronauts on the moon and to develop GPS satellites that can tell us our location anywhere on Earth to within a few metres. Uncovering a fifth force would be one hell of a prize.

Hints that physicists may be on the brink of making such a breakthrough have been accumulating over the past decade. The first tranche of evidence comes from particle physics experiments here on Earth, the results of which appear to conflict with our current best theory of fundamental particles, the standard model.

Notwithstanding its rather uninspiring name, the standard model is one of humankind’s greatest intellectual achievements, the closest we have come to a theory of everything, and has passed almost every experimental test thrown at it with flying colours. So far at least.

However, the BaBar experiment in California, the Belle experiment in Japan and the LHCb experiment at Cern have all spied exotic fundamental particles known as “beauty quarks” behaving in ways that go against the predictions of the standard model. Meanwhile, just outside Chicago, Fermilab’s Muon g–2 experiment has been busily studying another type of fundamental particle called a muon, finding that it emits a slightly stronger magnetic field than expected.

The most exciting explanations for these anomalies involve hitherto unknown forces of nature that subtly alter the way beauty quarks transform into other particles or mess with the muon’s magnetism. …

(12) SF2 CONCATENATION SUMMER SEASON EDITION. [Item by Jonathan Cowie.] SF² Concatenation has just posted its seasonal edition of news, articles and reviews. A couple of the articles may be of interest to those attending the Glasgow Worldcon later this summer….

v34(3) 2024.4.15 — New Columns & Articles for the Summer 2024

v34(3) 2024.4.15 — Science Fiction & Fantasy Book Reviews

v34(3) 2023.4.15 — Non-Fiction SF & Science Fact Book Reviews

(13) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.]  I have a feeling in my water (never a good sign) that this might be based on a Blake Crouch novel…?  I have to confess I have a shameful weakness for Blake Crouch and have read four or five of his novels.  They are light reads, more thrillery, but most have a decided SF riff which are great fun (if careful not to look at plot too closely).  Anyway, see what you think…

A man is abducted into an alternate version of his life. Amid the mind-bending landscape of lives he could’ve lived, he embarks on a harrowing journey to get back to his true family and save them from a most terrifying foe: himself.

[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Steven French, Anne Marble, Kathy Sullivan, Mark Roth-Whitworth, Daniel Dern, David Goldfarb, Lise Andreasen, Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, John King Tarpinian, and Chris Barkley for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Cat Eldridge.]

Pixel Scroll 4/4/24 This Is The Scroll That Doesn’t End, It Just Goes On And On, My Fen

(1) MORE TAFF COVERAGE. The Trans-Atlantic Fan Fund results came out yesterday. For Sarah Gulde’s victory statement, the regional voting breakdown, a list of voters and other news, see the official newsletter Taffluorescence! #3.

(2) GODZILLA SHOULDN’T TAKE ON THIS BAMBI. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] Another venison, um, version of a childhood tale lies ruined. Though, to be fair, this one was pretty bloody already. 

Also, whatever marketing guru came up with the label “Poohniverse“ probably deserves a bonus. Either that, or to be sucked through a dark magical portal into that dimension theirself and be made a victim. “Bambi Goes on a Rampage in First Teaser for Poohniverse Movie ‘Bambi: The Reckoning’” in The Hollywood Reporter.

Oh dear. The Poohniverse is expanding. Umbrella Entertainment has released the first teaser for the next installment of their B-movie horror franchise centered on horrifying versions of beloved children’s characters.

In the teaser for Bambi: The Reckoning, two hunters are seen practicing shooting in the woods with a dead bird tied to a tree. “You ever shot a deer?” one hunter asks the other. “No. Have you?” the second hunter replies. “Yeah, once,” the first hunter says. The teaser seems to imply that this hunter is the same one who killed Bambi’s mother….

… The film series will also include Peter Pan’s Neverland Nightmare and Pinocchio Unstrung. The “Twisted Childhood Universe” concept comes from ITN Studios and Jagged Edge Productions with Umbrella Entertainment. Other characters expected to join the franchise include Sleeping Beauty, The Mad Hatter, and more characters from Winnie the Pooh.

(3) SCARING FOR DOLLARS. According to the Guardian, “Horror novel sales boomed during year of real-world anxieties”.

Horror fiction is having a moment, according to data showing 2023 was a record-breaking year for book sales in the genre.

Between 2022 and 2023, sales of horror and ghost stories rose by 54% in value to £7.7m – the biggest year for the genre since accurate records began, reported the Bookseller. In the first three months of 2024, sales were 34% higher in value than in the same period last year, according to book sales data company Nielsen BookScan.

Horror writers and publishers suggest that the boom is partly due to the political nature of the genre. “Horror is a genre that tends to ebb and flow with what’s going on in the world at large, holding up a dark funfair mirror to real world horrors,” said Jen Williams, whose novel The Hungry Dark is published next week. “Given we’re in a period of unsettling upheaval – wars, the pandemic, climate change – it’s interesting that horror is moving back into the spotlight and even reaching a larger audience.”….

(4) TOMORROW PRIZE READINGS. The Tomorrow Prize & The Green Feather Award: Celebrity Readings & Honors ceremony will take place on Saturday, May 11 from 4:00-6:00 p.m. at Vroman’s Bookstore in Pasadena. To register for this event, please follow the link.

Celebrity Readings & Honors recognizes outstanding new works of science fiction written by Los Angeles County high school students. This amazing event will feature dramatic readings by celebrity guests (to be announced) from some of todays hottest sci-fi and fantasy shows and movies. Following the readings, students will be honored for their writing, as will the educators, librarians, and authors who make this project possible!

(5) LIBRARIANS TARGETED AGAIN. BookRiot reports that proposed “Louisiana HB 777 Would Criminalize Librarians and Libraries Who Join the American Library Association”.

Louisiana continues these efforts in an ongoing move by politicians in the state to damage public libraries with House Bill 777. HB 777 was introduced March 25 by Representative Kellee Dickerson, who helped fund the Louisiana Freedom Caucus. The bill would criminalize library workers and libraries for joining the American Library Association.

The American Library Association (ALA) is the largest and oldest professional organization for library workers in the nation. It was founded in 1876, and this Twitter thread is a fantastic resource on the history and purpose of the organization.

The HB 777 text reads:

“A. No public official or employee shall appropriate, allocate, reimburse, or otherwise or in any way expend public funds to or with the American Library Association or its successor.
“B. No public employee shall request or receive reimbursement or remuneration in any form for continuing education or for attending a conference if the continuing education or conference was sponsored or conducted, in whole or in part, by the American Library Association or its successor.
“C. Whoever violates this Section shall be fined not more than one thousand dollars or be imprisoned, with or without hard labor, for not more than two years, or both.”

(6) BUYERS FINALLY LOOKING AT B5. Inverse teased a long interview with J. Michael Straczynski in its post “30 Years Later, the Most Resilient Sci-Fi Show Could Return Once Again”, speculating about the future of Babylon 5. The full interview appears next week.

…The interview also touched on Babylon 5, and when asked if and when the live-action reboot would still happen, Straczynski said this:

“It’s just been a matter of time and obstacles. We were going to go with the CW originally, then Warner got it back. Then, we were going to take it out to the market, but then the Discovery purchase happened and that put us on ice for a while. Then, okay, that got all cleared up. And then the strike hits. After that, right as they were literally prepared to send it out the door, the rumor about a merger between Warner and Paramount happened. So, finally, it went out to buyers about two weeks ago. We’re waiting on word from those who have been sent the pilot script. One has said no, but the rest are all still in process. There’s interest from the rest of them. So, we will see where it goes.”

This means a Babylon 5 reboot could end up almost anywhere. Straczynski couldn’t mention who’d passed on the project, but it seems like the CW won’t be where it happens. But considering the long-running fandom of Babylon 5 — and Straczynski’s reputation as a writer of comic books and TV shows like Sense8 — hopes are high that the little space station that could, will return soon….

(7) WHAT IF IT WAS TRUE? Gershon Hepner blogs about Avram Davidson in “Unprofitable Belief in God and Politicians” at Times of Israel.

…Adolph Abram Davidson—who went by Avram from a young age—was born in Yonkers, New York, in 1923, but he didn’t stay there, flitting from New York to Israel to Mexico, Belize, San Francisco, and Washington State, among other places, during his topsy-turvy life.

Despite his penchant for rabbinic allusions and his bushy black beard, Davidson was no rabbi. In fact, he never received a degree of any sort, though he attended New York University for two years and later took a short story writing class at Yeshiva University (where he was classmates with Chaim Potok). Yet he knew the Talmud well enough and quite a bit about seemingly everything else. He was a scrupulously observant Orthodox Jew for much of his adult life, until he became just as zealous a practitioner of Tenrikyo, a Japanese religion that many of his former coreligionists would have considered idolatry. In short, Davidson’s life story was full of the kind of misdirection and obfuscation his stories routinely spring on their readers….

(8) MARYSE CONDÉ (1934-2024). Internationally respected author Maryse Condé, who in 2018 won the New Academy Prize in Literature (a Nobel alternative), died April 2. Her work includes a novel set during the Salem witch trials, I, Tituba: Black Witch of Salem (1986). Literary Hub has a tribute here: “Maryse Condé, international literary giant, has died at 90.”

Maryse Condé, the Guadaloupean novelist, playwright, essayist, and “Grande Dame of World Letters” has died. A Booker Prize and New Academy Prize winning author, Condé was an international sensation, and the author of more than twenty books. She was known for her sly, spirited prose in which she explored food, love, feminism, diaspora, and “the ravages of colonisation.” Take 1986’s I, Tituba, Black Witch of Salem, for which she won the Littéraire de la Femme.

In that imagined life story of the famous Salem scapegoat, Condé re-conceived the Black Witch as a questing but traumatized self-chronicler, and victim of colonial fear. “What is a witch?” her Tituba asks. “I noticed that when he said the word, it was marked with disapproval. Why should that be? Why? Isn’t the ability to communicate with the invisible world, to keep constant links with the dead, to care for others and heal, a superior gift of nature that inspires respect, admiration, and gratitude?”…

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY.

[Written by Cat Eldridge.]

Born April 4, 1959 Phil Morris, 65. I hadn’t realized that Phil Morris appeared on Trek in his very first role. He was in “Miri” as an uncredited “Boy in a helmet” which was shot when he wasn’t quite seven years old. It’s an adorable piece of video for him with having obviously fake dirt on his face. Yes, I went back and watched it on Paramount +.

Phil Morris

His next genre role was another Trek one, though much later, as Trainee Foster on The Search for Spock. (God it’s been a long time since I’ve seen that film.) He’d have three more visits to this multiverse, twice on Deep Space Nine in two roles, Thopok in “Looking for Par’Mach in All the Wrong Places” and Remata’Klan in “Rocks and Shoals”, and lastly on Voyager as Lieutenant John Kelly on “One Small Step”.

But my favorite role for him was in the two-season Australian produced reboot of Mission: Impossible shot during the writers strike that used scripts that had been deemed not worthy of being used the first time. He is Greg Collier here and quite excellent indeed. I don’t recall if I’ve written the series up but I like it a lot and think they did a great job of what I suspect was a limited budget.

So what else should I note? He had a one-off on Babylon 5 in “Severed Dreams” as Bill Trainor; Seven Days sees him being Air Force Colonel Beekman in “The Final Countdown”; he’s Myles Dyson for several episodes on Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles; and he voiced the immortal Vandal Savage on the stellar Justice League series. 

No, I’ve not forgotten that he played Silas Stone on the Doom Patrol. I watched the first two seasons and thought it was interesting enough that I need to see the rest of it someday. 

(10) COMICS SECTION.

(11) THAT TIME THERE WEREN’T ANY TAKERS. Scott Edelman knows why he’s not a millionaire. (Sale details here.)

(12) THE “CLAWS-OVER” OF THE CENTURY. An all-new animal-centric Infinity Comic, Infinity Paws, is launching on the Marvel Unlimited app on Friday, April 5. The 10-issue digital comic is written by Jason Loo with art by Nao Fuji.

Infinity Paws features fan-favorite animals from across the Marvel Universe including Jeff the Land Shark, Carol Danvers’ feline companion ChewieAlligator Loki, and Lucky the Pizza Dog. In the story, Ronan the Accuser lays siege to New York City and the Avengers with the aid of the Space Gem! But can one land shark and a couple of cats defeat him and save the day?

On the series, writer Jason Loo told Collider.com, “I hope everyone is ready for this fun-filled, action-packed, loads of cuteness series that Nao Fuji and I deliver in this epic Marvel crossover. It’s got most of your favorite friends from the Marvel animal kingdom, as well as tons of surprise guests from across the 616… even Howard the Duck pops in! So, get cozy with your reading device every Friday. And if you live with a furry friend, have them cuddle beside you too!”

(Click below for larger images.)

(13) SUPER OR SUPERFLUOUS? [Item by Daniel Dern.] I believe I’ve identified a RW/IRL (Real World/In Real Life) instance of a supernatural being, of a class slightly below Neil Gaiman’s D-initialed family (Dream, Death, etc), possibly from Marvel’s B-listers (e.g. The Beyonder). This one’s responsible for Why We Don’t Get Stuff Done, and their name is…The Behinder! (How to appease them, I have yet to suss.)

(14) ANIMATION GUILD. “DreamWorks Workers Vote to Join the Animation and Editors Guilds”The Hollywood Reporter has the latest.

DreamWorks Animation production workers are joining their artist and technician colleagues in being represented by the Animation Guild and their editor colleagues in being represented by the Motion Picture Editors Guild.

In an election with the National Labor Relations Board, 94 production workers who work on television and feature films at the brand voted to join the two IATSE Locals, while 41 voted against unionization. Of the 160 workers who are now unionized with IATSE as a result of the vote, about a dozen will join the Motion Picture Editors Guild (Local 700) because they work in postproduction, while other production staffers whose roles align more with artists, technical directors and writers will join the Animation Guild (Local 839). The tally of ballots took place on March 26….

… Organizers were motivated to unionize by their interest in preserving the workplace culture at DreamWorks Animation, according to Animation Guild organizer Allison Smartt. “Production workers know what’s best for their roles and lives and with the recent announcements of significant company policy changes like increased outsourcing and a disallowal of most remote work for production staff, they felt a sense of urgency,” Smartt wrote in an email….

(15) DARK STAR. “Dark Star at 50: How a micro-budget student film changed sci-fi forever” at BBC.com.

…Set in the year 2250, the film charts the exploits of the titular space vessel as it meanders round the galaxy blowing up “unstable” planets. The hirsute five-man crew has been stuck on the ship for 20 years and are bored out of their minds and fed up with each other. They spend their days bickering and fixing the ship, which is constantly failing them in some way, including with the loss of the ship’s supply of toilet roll. There’s not much in the way of plot. The film has an almost defiantly anti-dramatic quality at times, with its focus on the dreariness of the long space voyage. “O’Bannon believed space travel would be a tedious experience, filled with seemingly endless days of maintenance and reflection,” says Griffiths. [John] Carpenter famously referred to it as “Waiting for Godot in space”….

(16) AGED TO PERFECTION. Well Told offers a line of “Literature Rocks Glass” with an antique-typefaced title on one side, and usually a quote from the book on the back. Here are some examples using genre works. (Click for larger images.)

(17) MEDICAL ADVANCE. “Recipient of world’s first pig kidney transplant discharged from Boston hospital” reports CBS News.

The recipient of the world’s first pig kidney transplant is heading home from Massachusetts General Hospital Wednesday, nearly two weeks after the surgery.

The hospital said Rick Slayman, 62, will continue his recovery at home in Weymouth….

…At the time of the transplant on March 21, Slayman was living with end-stage kidney disease, along with Type 2 diabetes and hypertension. He received a human kidney transplant back in 2018 but it started failing five years later.

Mass General said the transplant was the first time a pig kidney was transplanted into a living human patient. The hospital said the kidney was donated by eGenesis in Cambridge and was genetically edited to remove harmful pig genes. Certain human genes were then added to improve its compatibility….

(18) AI RESURRECTION. The Guardian tells how some “Chinese mourners turn to AI to remember and ‘revive’ loved ones”.

As millions of people across China travel to the graves of their ancestors to pay their respects for the annual tomb-sweeping festival – a traditional day to honour and maintain the graves of the dead – a new way of remembering, and reviving, their beloved relatives is being born.

For as little as 20 yuan (£2.20), Chinese netizens can create a moving digital avatar of their loved one, according to some services advertised online. So this year, to mark tomb-sweeping festival on Thursday, innovative mourners are turning to artificial intelligence to commune with the departed.

At the more sophisticated end of the spectrum, the Taiwanese singer Bao Xiaobai used AI to “resurrect” his 22-year-old daughter, who died in 2022. Despite having only an audio recording of her speaking three sentences of English, Bao reportedly spent more than a year experimenting with AI technology before managing to create a video of his daughter singing happy birthday to her mother, which he published in January.

“People around me think I’ve lost my mind,” Bao said in an interview with Chinese media. But, added: “I want to hear her voice again.”

The interest in digital clones of the departed comes as China’s AI industry continues to expand into human-like avatars. According to one estimate, the market size for “digital humans” was worth 12bn yuan in 2022, and is expected to quadruple by 2025. Part of the reason that China’s tech companies are adept at creating digital humans is because the country’s huge army of livestreamers – who generated an estimated 5tn yuan in sales last year – are increasingly turning to AI to create clones of themselves to push products 24/7….

(19) VIDEO OF THE DAY. Princess Weekes looks at Dune and asks “Why Sci-fi Can’t Fix Its White Savior Problem”.

[Thanks to Andrew Porter, John King Tarpinian, Chris Barkley, Sandra Bond, Daniel Dern, N., Scott Edelman, Cat Eldridge, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Steven French, and Mike Kennedy for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Jayn.]

Pixel Scroll 3/16/24 And The Riverbank Scrolls Of The Pixels Of March

(1) SEE SAMATAR’S EPIC LECTURE. Sofia Samatar will deliver the 2024 Richard W. Gunn Memorial Lecture on Monday, March 18, at 4:00 p.m Central. The lecture is virtual and you can register here. She will be speaking on the relationship between epic poetry and fantasy:

What is the relationship between ancient epic poetry and the contemporary genre known as epic fantasy? This talk offers five answers to that question, from the perspective of a speculative fiction writer. Sofia Samatar is the author of six books, including the memoir The White Mosque, a PEN/Jean Stein Award finalist. Her works range from the award-winning epic fantasy A Stranger in Olondria to Tone, a collaborative study of literary tone with Kate Zambreno.

(2) THE FIRST GREEN HILLS. Bobby Derie filled in a previously unsuspected gaping hole in my knowledge of sff history with “Quest for the Green Hills of Earth (1995) by Ned Brooks” at Deep Cuts in a Lovecraftian Vein. Originally I was just checking to see if he was talking about the Ned Brooks I knew – he was. Then – bang! – I discovered that C.L. Moore and Henry Kuttner are at the root of a famous verse tradition.

…Who wrote this bit [in “Quest of the Starstone”]? Moore was the poet of the pair, but Kuttner was no slouch, and the title itself is a callback to two previous tales. In “Shambleau” Moore wrote: “[…] he hummed The Green Hills of Earth to himself in a surprisingly good baritone”; and in “The Cold Gray God” (1935):

“No one sang Starless Night any more, and it was the Earth-born Rose Robertson’s voice which rang through the solar system in lilting praise of The Green Hills of Earth.”

That could be the kind of detail that a good pasticheur like Kuttner would pick up and expand upon. Yet it wouldn’t be surprising if they both had a hand in the final version of this scene….

…However, Sam Moskowitz claims:

“When Robert Heinlein read the story, he never forgot the phrase which became the title of one of his most famous short stories and of a collection, The Green Hills of Earth.”Sam Moskowitz, Seekers of Tomorrow (1967), 312

“The Green Hills of Earth” ran in The Saturday Evening Post for 8 Feb 1947, and provided the title for Heinlein’s 1951 collection of science fiction. Heinlein did not reiterate Moore & Kuttner’s verses, but came up with his own—and attributed it to an author, the blind poet Rhysling….

Ned Brooks later produced a chapbook based on these works:

…This is where Quest of the Green Hills of Earth (1995) comes in. Edited by Ned Brooks and illustrated by Alan Hunter, this is the kind of standalone chapbook that is a hallmark of science fiction and fantasy fandom. It reprints “Quest of the Starstone” in its entirety, Heinlein’s verses from “The Green Hills of Earth,” and three fan-made versions—one by Chuck Rein, George Heap, “and other fans of the 1960s”; one by Don Markstein (“late 60s”), and one by Steve Sneyd (Oct 1992)….

(3) SPIRITED GIVING 2024. Spirited Giving, a horror-themed fundraiser serving as the official kickoff to StokerCon 2024, takes place May 29, 2024 beginning at 3:00 p.m. in the San Diego Central Library. Full details at the link.  

It’s a night of author readings, live performances, meet and greets, and book signings, all while raising funds for the San Diego Library Foundation, particularly the Books Unbanned Initiative.

The event will feature readings from: Clay McLeod Chapman, Jamie Flanagan, Ai Jiang, Vincent V. Cava, Danger Slater, and Bridget D. Brave. And a special one-hour live performance by YouTube Horror Narrator Mr. Creepypasta.

To attend the event, get Spirited Giving Tickets at Eventbrite.

(4) IF NOT NEWS TO YOU, IT WILL BE NEWS TO SOMEONE. At Literary Hub Debbie Berne makes her case — “Not Just Covers, But Every Page: Why Writers Should Talk About Book Design Early On”.

… Interior design is both micro and macro. It involves technical prowess and creativity. There is line-by-line typesetting and there is translation of vibe.

Take, for instance, chapter openers. Most books are divided into chapters and an author has decided if they each have chapter titles or just numbers, or both, or neither, or additional info like a subtitle or time stamp or narrator name or geographic locator or setting-up-an-idea pull quote.

The designer, then, must figure out how to make those pieces of text—many or few—look nice and clear on the page and put forward an aesthetic, bringing visual voice to the writing voice. Which font? How big? How bold? Italic? Centered or no? In a single line, neatly stacked, cascading? Each decision is literal and expressive….

(5) HOW MUCH WAS C-3PO’S HEAD WORTH? Read the answer reported in Friday’s Birmingham (UK) Mail.

(6) SPRINGTIME FOR WONKA. Everyone is going to make money off this disaster except the people who perpetrated it. (Would you have it any other way?) “Viral Willy Wonka Glasgow event to be turned into musical” at BBC.

A new musical satire based on a Glasgow Willy Wonka experience that went viral is in the works.

The show’s lead producer, Richard Kraft, has assembled a team of writers and producers for the project titled Willy Fest: A Musical Parody.

The event in February gained notoriety after angry families, who paid up to £35 to attend, demanded their money back.

Kraft says he hopes people watching the show “won’t be left in tears.”

The creative team working on the musical includes Emmy-nominated actor and comedian Riki Lindhome who tweeted, “I’m so excited,” along with screenshots of an article.

Others attached to the project include Broadway songwriters Alan Zachary and Michael Weiner.

Kraft is known for producing and directing a Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory concert at the famed Hollywood Bowl.

He told the BBC it was his idea to turn the Glasgow event into a musical and that the writing team was “assembled in less time than it takes for someone to sing the first verse of ‘Oompa Loompa Doompa-Dee-Do’.”

He hopes to launch the musical later this year….

…Asked why the Glasgow event might be ripe for the musical theatre treatment, Kraft said: “It is about desperate dreamers who actually have fragments of a great idea, just executed beyond their budget and abilities.”

He said he loved shows “about big-hearted flim-flam artists in musicals like The Music Man, The Greatest Showman, and The Producers. At the core they are romantics who get in over their heads.”…

(7) THREE-BODY, BUT NOT JUST ONE PROBLEM. “’3 Body Problem:’ How Netflix’s new sci-fi saga employs the legendary Wow! signal”Space.com is sure you’ll want to know.

The Wow! signal is one of the great astronomy puzzles of the past 50 years, but it’s not so mysterious in the sci-fi universe of “3 Body Problem.”

Netflix’s new eight-episode alien invasion saga “3 Body Problem” uses the famous SETI (search for extraterrestrial intelligence) signal as a prominent plot device in its wild centuries-spanning narrative.

The Wow! signal was an intense narrowband radio signal detected on the night of Aug. 15, 1977 by Ohio State University’s Big Ear Radio Observatory and the North American Astrophysical Observatory (NAAPO) during a standard SETI search. No personnel were on duty at the time, yet the strong 72-second-long signal was recorded by a computer printer….

Beware spoiler:

… “3 Body Problem,” which drops on March 21, puts its own spin on the signal. In the series, Wow! is a real message from intelligent aliens beyond Earth. A Chinese astrophysicist responds to the translated signal by inviting the aliens to visit Earth — to humanity’s detriment, as we later learn….

(8) SIGNING TIME. John King Tarpinian has the Glendale Civic Auditorium all prepared to welcome tomorrow’s influx of dealers to the 2024 LA Vintage Paperback Collectors Show & Sale.

(9) JON STOPA (1935-2024). Longtime Chicagoland fan Jon Stopa died March 4 at the age of 88. See the family obituary in the Kenosha News at the link. (The family obituary spells his first name “John”. In the sff field he was known as “Jon” except for the few instances when he used “John” in the credits for his book cover art for Advent:Publishers).

Jon Stopa

Fancyclopedia 3’s article about Jon records that he made his first sf short story sale to Astounding at age 22, “The First Inch” published in 1957, followed by two more appearances in Campbell’s magazine in 1958. Jon’s fourth and last fiction credit was in 1973 with “Kiddy-Lib” in Eros in Orbit.

He co-founded Advent:Publishers in 1955 with Earl Kemp, Robert Briney, Sidney Coleman, James O’Meara, George Price, and Ed Wood. The company produced nonfiction books about the sf field, the first of which was Damon Knight’s essay collection In Search of Wonder (1956).

A Jon Stopa-designed Advent book cover.

Stopa met Joni Cornell at the 1960 Worldcon (Pittcon). They married in 1962 and lived at Wilmot Mountain, Stopa’s family ski resort in Wilmot, WI, where they began hosting Wilcon, a three-day long invitation-only relaxacon.

Jon appears as a bartender in the video Faans (1983) (around the 18:50 mark) in a scene shot at the lodge at Wilmot Mountain.

Throughout the 1960s, the Stopas entered and won many convention masquerades. In the early 1970s, the couple helped found the conrunning group ISFiC.

The Stopas were Fan GoHs at Chicon V, the 1991 Worldcon.

Jon’s survivors include his grandson, Keanen (Kim) Burns; sister, Diane Reese; great-granddaughter, Kinsley Burns; and nieces: Tiffany and Amanda Stopa. Along with his parents and wife; John was preceded in death by his daughter, Deb Burns; and brothers: Walter Jr. and Conrad (Karen) Stopa.

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY.

[Written by Cat Eldridge.]

Born March 16, 1920 Leo McKern. (Died 2002.) Pop culture is wonderful, isn’t it? And Leo McKern was definitely part of it. 

The Prisoner where he was Number Two in three of the seventeen episodes is definitely his best remembered SF role. He played that role more than any of the other seventeen credited actors. That is if you consider The Prisoner to even be SF and not merely a spy series gone very weird. Just tossing that idea out here.

Leo McKern as Number Two in The Prisoner.

Next up is The Adventures of Robin Hood where he was Sir Roger DeLisle, usurper of the Locksley manor and lands, and Herbert of Doncaster, a corrupt moneylender. It was an early Fifties series and his of earliest acting roles. 

Sliding on later in his career is one of my favorite roles by him, Horace Rumpole, a London barrister on Rumpole of the Bailey. He was a great  character to watch, the cases were interesting and the supporting cast was well thought out.

Slipping on over to his radio work, he was the voice of Captain Haddock in the 1992 and 1993 BBC Radio Hergé’s The Adventures of Tintin.

He was “Mac” MacGill in X the Unknown, a Fifties horror SF film from Hanmer Productions; and he’s got a lead role as Bill McGuire in The Day the Earth Caught Fire, an end of the world Sixties film.

The final role I want to mention is in The Adventure of Sherlock Holmes’ Smarter Brother where he gets to be Professor Moriarty. I’m almost certain that I’ve seen it. 

(11) COMICS SECTION.

And we’re overdue to catch up with Tom Gauld!

(12) STAND AND DELIVER. [Item by Steven French.] Sally Wainwright is a national treasure over here in the U.K. so her writing a new fantasy show set in the 18th century (featuring Louisa Harland formerly of Derry Girls as a gender fluid highwaywoman with superpowers!) is a Big Deal: “’I never dreamed I’d get this role!’: Derry Girl Louisa Harland on Sally Wainwright’s thrilling new heroine” in the Guardian.

When Louisa Harland was cast as the lead in the new Sally Wainwright drama, Renegade Nell, the director told her: “Nell needs to be one of those characters, even when she’s on the screen so much, you still want the audience to miss her when she’s not.” It’s quite an ask: Nell is a massive Doctor Who of a role, swashbuckling, always with a new accent or cool pyrotechnics or punch in the face, and Harland fills the screen every second she’s on it. Somehow, though, you do miss her when she isn’t. Meeting the 31-year-old in central London, I can see exactly why she was chosen for Nell, even though almost the first thing she says is “I never in my wildest dreams thought I would get this role. My parents still think it is so random.”

Renegade Nell is a rebel and a chancer, an 18th-century tomboy in a constant life-or-death scenario of some other bugger’s making. The year is 1705, and she’s just lost her husband in a battle that has left her both widowed and superhuman, but only sometimes. The show has a lush period feel and is a closely observed love affair with the British countryside (Harland describes the incredibly precise location scouts combing through forests searching for trees that would have been mature by 1705), but it is powered by mischief – fight scenes, disguises, magic monsters and highway robbery after highway robbery….

(13) JAPANIMATION’S SUICIDE SQUAD. Animation Magazine introduces Warner Bros. Japan LLC’s updated trailer featuring the anime-styled anti-heroes of Suicide Squad ISEKAI.

Synopsis:  In the crime-ridden Gotham city, Amanda Waller, the head of A.R.G.U.S., has assembled a group of notorious criminals for a mission: Harley Quinn, Deadshot, Peacemaker, Clayface and King Shark. These DC Super-Villains are sent into an otherworldly realm that’s connected to this world through a gate. It’s a world of swords and magic where orcs rampage and dragons rule the skies — an “ISEKAI!”

Harley and others go on a rampage after arriving in ISEKAI but are captured by the Kingdom’s soldiers and sent to prison. They only have 72 hours before the bomb on their neck explodes.

The deadline is fast approaching. After negotiations with Queen Aldora, the condition for liberation was the conquest of the hostile Imperial army. They have no choice but to throw themselves head-first into the front line of battle.

They run; they die. They lose; they die. With their lives on the line, can Harley Quinn and The Suicide Squad survive in ISEKAI? Brace yourselves for the pulse-pounding saga of the elite task force known as the “Suicide Squad” as they embark on a jaw-dropping adventure! Let the party begin!

(14) THE HOBBIT DIET EXPLAINED SCIENTIFICALLY. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] Filers may have noted “(10) NO MICHELIN STARS FOR MORDOR.  CBR.com chronicles ‘Every Meal Hobbits Eat In Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings’” in “Pixel Would Like A Word With Engineering”. It strikes me that there is a very logical, biological reason for Hobbits requiring more meals than us, larger, humans!

It centres on the fact that scale is size specific: a cube does not have the same spatial properties at any scale – its surface area to volume ration is scale specific. For example, to depart slightly from a simple cube, a single cube might have a volume of one unit and a surface area of six square units: a cube has six sides. However, a cube of volume of two cubic unites only has a surface area of ten square units. (You can easily create a volume of two cubic units by joining two one-cubic-volume cubes together and in the process cover two, one cubic square sides leaving just ten cubic squares as the surface area.)

What this all means is that smaller creatures have proportionally more surface area from which to lose heat.

Hobbits are smaller than humans and so must lose more heat assuming they have the same blood temperature. Proportionally losing more heat means that they must consume proportionally more food, hence require more meals.

Jus’ sayin’.

Second breakfast anyone?

(15) POOR LITTLE MERCURY! Space.com says “Mercury slammed by gargantuan eruption from the sun’s hidden far side, possibly triggering ‘X-ray auroras’”.

A gigantic, fiery eruption around 40 times wider than Earth recently exploded from the sun’s hidden far side. The eruption hurled a massive cloud of plasma into space that later smashed into Mercury, scouring the planet’s rocky surface and potentially triggering “X-ray auroras” on the unprotected world.

The eruption was likely triggered by a powerful solar flare, which occurred around 7 p.m. ET on March 9, Spaceweather.com reported. NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) spotted a large, partially obscured plasma filament exploding outward from behind the sun’s northeast limb. Based on the amount of visible plasma, the eruption likely spanned around 310,000 miles (500,000 kilometers) across.

SDO data showed that the explosion, which likely left behind a massive “canyon of fire” on the sun’s surface, also released a large coronal mass ejection (CME) — a fast-moving cloud of magnetized plasma and radiation — that collided with Mercury on March 10.

Mercury is often blasted with CMEs due to its proximity to our home star. The small planet has no atmosphere left as a result of this bombardment and is fully exposed to the full force of these solar storms. …

(16) HOT TIMES CLOSER TO HOME. “The Staggering Ecological Impacts of Computation and the Cloud” at The MIT Press Reader. “Anthropologist Steven Gonzalez Monserrate draws on five years of research and ethnographic fieldwork in server farms to illustrate some of the diverse environmental impacts of data storage.” (A full version of this article, as well as a bibliography, can be accessed here.)

…The molecular frictions of digital industry, as this example shows, proliferate as unruly heat. The flotsam and jetsam of our digital queries and transactions, the flurry of electrons flitting about, warm the medium of air. Heat is the waste product of computation, and if left unchecked, it becomes a foil to the workings of digital civilization. Heat must therefore be relentlessly abated to keep the engine of the digital thrumming in a constant state, 24 hours a day, every day.

To quell this thermodynamic threat, data centers overwhelmingly rely on air conditioning, a mechanical process that refrigerates the gaseous medium of air, so that it can displace or lift perilous heat away from computers. Today, power-hungry computer room air conditioners (CRACs) or computer room air handlers (CRAHs) are staples of even the most advanced data centers. In North America, most data centers draw power from “dirty” electricity grids, especially in Virginia’s “data center alley,” the site of 70 percent of the world’s internet traffic in 2019. To cool, the Cloud burns carbon, what Jeffrey Moro calls an “elemental irony.” In most data centers today, cooling accounts for greater than 40 percent of electricity usage….

(17) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] Physicist Matt O’Dowd at PBS Space Time this week takes a dive into a decidedly SFnal trope, that of the possible need to hide humanity from aliens as they themselves may be doing so?

Dark Forest: Should We NOT Contact Aliens?

In 1974 we sent the Arecibo radio message towards Messier 13, a globular cluster near the edge of the Milky Way, made up of a few hundred thousand stars. The message was mostly symbolic; we weren’t really expecting a reply. Yet surely other civilisations out there are doing the same thing. So, why haven’t we heard anything? What if the silence from the stars is a hint that we shouldn’t be so outgoing? What if aliens are deliberately keeping quiet for fear that they might be destroyed?

[Thanks to Chris Barkley, Cat Eldridge, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Rich Lynch, Steve Green, Steven French, Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Jim Janney.]

Pixel Scroll 3/15/24 What Can You Scroll About Chocolate Covered Stepping Disks?

(1) WALDROP TO THE SCREEN. George R.R. Martin tells us, “The Chickens Are Coming” at Not A Blog.

Howard Waldrop is gone, but his work will live on.

…And here’s the latest one, an adaptation of Howard’s most famous story, THE UGLY CHICKENS.  Winner of the Nebula.   Winner of the World Fantasy Award.   Nominee for the Hugo, but, alas, not a winner.   A pity, that.  Howard never won a Hugo, but in some more Waldropian  world he has ten of them lined up on his mantle.

Felicia Day (SUPERNATURAL, THE GUILD, DR. HORRIBLE’S SING ALONG BLOG) stars in our film of “that dodo story.”   Mark Raso (COPENHAGEN, KODACHRONE) directed.   Michael Cassutt (TWILIGHT ZONE, MAX HEADROOM, TV101, EERIE INDIANA, and many more) did the screenplay.

Howard saw a rough cut of the film before he died.   He liked it, which pleases me no end.   I only wish we had been able to screen the final cut for him.

(2) HIGH CALIBER CANON. The Atlantic’s list of“The Great American Novels” includes Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury, The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson, A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep by Philip K. Dick and a number of other works of genre interest.

(3) INTERNATIONAL BOOKER PRIZE LONGLIST. Based on the descriptions of the works at the website, there are no books of genre interest among the 13 that made the International Booker Prize 2024 longlist.

(4) BECOMING THE LIFE ON MARS. Space.com interviews Robert Zubrin about his new book: “’The New World on Mars’ offers a Red Planet settlement guide”.

To say that Dr. Robert Zubrin, the esteemed Colorado-based aerospace engineer, author, lecturer and founding president of the Mars Society, has the Red Planet on his mind is a colossal understatement.   

This pioneering educational voice and influential space authority has written many books on the timely topic of Mars and Mars settlement over the years as interest in humankind’s role in its ultimate development has risen exponentially. Now Zubrin adds to his impressive catalog of visionary volumes about our mysterious planetary neighbor with the recent release of “The New World on Mars” (Diversion Books, 2024), a fascinating and infinitely readable peek into Mars’ inestimably rosy future….

Space.com: One of the most interesting chapters deals with the psychological aspects of leaving Earth and establishing an identifiable Martian culture with its own customs, rites and rituals and the importance of that process. Can you elaborate on that subject more?

Zubrin: The Mars Society over the past couple years held two contests asking people to design a 1,000-person Mars colony and a one-million-person Mars city-state. And by design we meant not just the technology or the economy, but the social system, political system, what kind of sports are likely to be played, as well as the aesthetics. 

Between the two contests, there were something like 300 entries. The ideas proposed spanned a huge range of political systems from socialist, to democratic and libertarian. Rather than attempt to choose my favorite system for a Martian utopia, I took the point of view that there will be many Martian cities founded by different people with very different ideas on what the ideal state should be, and it’s going to be sorted out by natural selection.  

Some of the answers I came up with I like a lot, like human liberty. But this is in contradiction to many visions of science fiction colonies that are totally controlled because no one would immigrate to one. The ones that will outgrow the others will clearly be the ones that are most attractive to immigrants. Freedom is a great attractor. North Korea does not have an illegal immigrant problem. Martian colonies will have to be highly inventive and invention only thrives under freedom. I believe a Mars colony will also require a great deal of social solidarity, so it will not be multi-cultural and will need to have a strong sense of community and common identity….

(5) DOCTOR WHO STARTING TIME.  From Variety we learn “’Doctor Who’ Starring Ncuti Gatwa Reveals May Premiere Date”.

…The new season of “Doctor Who,” starring “Sex Education” breakout Ncuti Gatwa as the Fifteenth Doctor, will premiere on May 10.

The new installment will be the first-ever to launch on Disney+ and release simultaneously worldwide. The premiere will start on May 10 at 7 p.m. ET in the U.S. and internationally (excluding the U.K.) with Christmas special “The Church on Ruby Road” airing before two brand-new episodes. In the U.K., the season will premiere at midnight GMT on May 11 on BBC iPlayer.

…A new trailer for the season will debut on March 22.

(6) SHATNER WON’T BE ECLIPSED – FOR LONG, ANYWAY. The Los Angeles Times interviewed “William Shatner on his long career, horses and watch design”. Behind a paywall, unfortunately. Here’s the first paragraph:

A documentary on his life, “You Can Call Me Bill,” directed by Alexandre O. Philippe (“Lynch/Oz”), is scheduled to roll out in theaters March 22 to coincide with his 93rd birthday. He continues to host and narrate the puzzling-phenomena History series “The UnXplained With William Shatner.” A 2022 performance at the Kennedy Center, backed by Ben Folds and the National Symphony Orchestra, is about to be released both as an album, “So Fragile, So Blue,” and a concert film. The title song, says Shatner, “encompasses a lot of my thinking about how we’re savaging the world, and [I’d hope] it’d be a song that people would listen to and perhaps be inspired to do something about global warming.”

And on April 8, for 15 minutes before the shadow of an eclipse falls over Bloomington, Ind., Shatner will address “55, 60,000 people” in the Indiana University football stadium. “So what do you say, what do you write, what do you do? I’m going to have to solve those problems.”…

(7) SIMULTANEOUS TIMES CELEBRATES ANNIVERSARY. Space Cowboy Books presents a special six-year anniversary episode of Simultaneous Times in collaboration with Worlds of IF Magazine bringing you works from the pages of Worlds of If Magazine #177. Listen to the podcast at the link. Story and poetry featured in this episode:

  • “Contact” by Akua Lezli Hope; with music by Fall Precauxions. Read by the author
  • “The Pain Peddlers” by Robert Silverberg; with music by Phog Masheeen. Read by Jean-Paul Garnier
  • “Time Junkies” by Pedro Iniguez; with music by Fall Precauxions. Read by the author

Theme music by Dain Luscombe

(8) RELICS OF WONKY PROMOTION TRANSMUTED TO CHARITY GOLD. “Props from botched Willy Wonka event raise more than £2,000 for Palestinian aid charity” reports the Guardian. The charity is Medical Aid for Palestinians.

Props from a botched Willy Wonka event in Glasgow that went viral after frustrated attenders called the police have raised more than £2,000 at auction for a Palestinian aid charity.

Fabric backdrops from the “immersive experience”, which was cancelled midway, were found in a bin outside the warehouse where it took place.

Monorail Music, a record shop in the city, auctioned the remains on eBay after they were passed on by the finder. The listing said: “Don’t miss out on this rare opportunity to own a piece of history.”

The Wonka event gained online notoriety after images of the sparsely decorated warehouse in Glasgow, staffed by actors dressed as Oompa Loompas and other characters, spread worldwide. On Thursday, the listing had a total of 57 bids and the items were sold for £2,250. Michael Kasparis, online manager of Monorail, described the outcome as “amazing”….

(9) RED FLAGS RAISED ABOUT TCG-CON. Outside the Asylum urges “Don’t Go to TCG-Con”. Here’s the synopsis of a long post with many receipts:

Summary: TCG-con frequently does not pay out its advertised prizes and staff compensation. They currently owe upwards of $50,000 to players, cosplayers, judges, and other staff members for previous conventions, and appear to be in the process of collapsing entirely. I would strongly recommend not purchasing a ticket to their future events, trying to get a refund if you already have, and warning anyone you know away from them as well. If you’re owed money yourself, see the end of this page for information on next steps.

(10) GRANT PAGE (1939-2024). Deadline pays tribute in “Grant Page Dead: Australian Stuntman In ‘Mad Max’ Films & 100-Plus Others Was 85”.

Grant Page, the Australian stunt icon who performed in and coordinating stunts for the original Mad Max,sequel Beyond Thunderdome,the upcoming prequel Furiosa: A Mad Max Sagaand more than 100 other films and TV series, died Thursday in a car crash. He was 85.

A legend of Aussie cinema, Page worked … on the 1979 action classic Mad Max,which introduced the world to Mel Gibson. He performed and served as stunt coordinator on …  its 1985 second sequel Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome… He also worked on … prequel, Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga, which is on the radar to premiere at Cannes in May, and on his 2022 pic Three Thousand Years of Longing.

(11) COMICS SECTION.

The New Yorker cartoon for the Ides of March gives us Dr. Seuss’ interpretation instead of Shakespeare’s.

(12) I BECAME WHAT I BEHELD. “Grant Morrison Responds to Zack Snyder’s Take on Batman Killing, ‘If Batman Killed His Enemies, He’d Be the Joker’” (comicbook.com) – in a quote at Comicbook.com.

Filmmaker Zack Snyder recently stirred up some controversy when he defended his aggressive version of Batman from Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice who killed, a choice that for many comic book fans runs counter to basic tenets of the character. Now, comic book writer Grant Morrison is weighing in and they don’t agree with Snyder. According to Morrison, “if Batman killed his enemies, he’d be the Joker.”

In their newsletter Xanaduum (via ScreenRant), Morrison — whose own work has been among some of the more definitive takes on Batman — dug into not only the practical aspect of why Batman doesn’t kill (because he’d end up arrested by Commissioner Gordon, in theory) but also the psychological aspect of the character and how Batman’s “no-kill” rule is something locked into him from the time he was a small child and is a part of his mental state having never fully developed, in some respect, out of the child who saw his parents murdered in Crime Alley.

“That Batman puts himself in danger every night but steadfastly refuses to murder is an essential element of the character’s magnificent, horrendous, childlike psychosis,” Morrison wrote.

There’s also the matter of the line between what Batman does and what the villains do. Villains kill; Batman does not. It makes all the difference, at least to Bruce Wayne who, should he ever cross the line, would then become no better than those who killed his parents….

(13) SNOWPIERCER RESCUED. It won’t be frozen out by streaming services after all says Deadline: “’Snowpiercer’: AMC Picks Up Season 4 After TNT Scrapped Sci-Fi Drama”.

The final season of Snowpiercer has finally found a home.

The fourth season of the sci-fi drama will air on AMC after the company acquired the rights to the Tomorrow Studios-produced series. It comes after TNT scrapped the show last year as part of a wider Warner Bros. Discovery content write-down strategy.

Deadline revealed in January 2023 that the fourth season wouldn’t air on its original home, as part of a slew of content cuts that also included the axing of Batgirl, Abrams’ HBO drama Demimonde, and TBS series such as The Big D, Chad and Kill The Orange Bear….

(14) A YELLOWSTONE UNSTUCK IN TIME. Gizmodo assures us “Josh Brolin’s Sci-Fi Hole Show Will Get Even Sci-Fi-er, Holier in Season 2”.

…The central mysteries of Outer Range surround that giant hole, which materializes on property owned by Brolin’s Wyoming rancher character and is eventually established to be a time portal. Along the way, various characters go missing, are revealed to have been born in different centuries, notice odd happenings that seem anachronistic, or are unmasked as characters we’ve already met who happen to be several years older than they should be. In season two, we’ll all take a time leap; the action begins in 1984 with a younger version of Brolin’s character, and Vanity Fair describes the narrative structure as “gamely hopping between different decades (and centuries) with newfound propulsion.”

An astrophysicist called in to help the time-travel stuff make sense—but according to new showrunner Murray, “The biggest part of what time travel meant to me and the writers was: How can this help us expose something that a character’s going through?” We’re very intrigued to see where this wild trail heads next….

(15) DISHING IT UP. A reporter tells BBC that “’Journalists are feeding the AI hype machine’”.

When Melissa Heikkilä looks back on her past four years writing about artificial intelligence (AI), two key things jump out to her, one good, one bad.

“It’s the best beat… AI is a story about power, and there are so many ways to cover it,” says the senior reporter for magazine MIT Technology Review. “And there are so many interesting, and eccentric people to write about.”

That’s the positive. The negative, she says, is that much of the wider media’s coverage of AI can leave a lot to be desired.

“There is more hype and obfuscation about what the technology can and cannot actually do,” says Ms Heikkilä. “This can lead to embarrassing mistakes, and for journalists to feed into the hype machine, by, for example, anthropomorphizing AI technologies, and mythologizing tech companies.”…

(16) RIGHT TURN, CLYDE. And while we’re on the subject of dud reportage – “Seismic signal that pointed to alien technology was actually a passing truck” says Physics World.

In January 2014 a meteor streaked across the sky above the Western Pacific Ocean. The event was initially linked to a seismic signal that was detected on Papua New Guinea’s Manus Island. This information was used by Harvard University’s Amir Siraj and Avi Loeb to determine where the object likely fell into the ocean. Loeb then led an expedition that recovered spherical objects called spherules from the ocean bottom, which the team claimed to be from the meteor.

Because of the spherule’s unusual elemental composition, the team has suggested that the objects may have come from outside the solar system. What is more, they hinted that the spherules may have an “extraterrestrial technological origin” – that they may have been created by an alien civilization.

Now, however, a study led by scientists at Johns Hopkins University has cast doubt on the connection between the spherules and the 2014 meteor event. They have proposed a very different source for the seismic signal that led Loeb and colleagues to the spherules.

“The signal changed directions over time, exactly matching a road that runs past the seismometer,” says Benjamin Fernando, a planetary seismologist at Johns Hopkins who led this latest research.

“It’s really difficult to take a signal and confirm it is not from something,” explains Fernando. “But what we can do is show that there are lots of signals like this, and show they have all the characteristics we’d expect from a truck and none of the characteristics we’d expect from a meteor.”

That’s right, it was a truck driving past the seismometer, not a meteor….

(17) WAR OF THE WORLD. “Air defense for $13 a shot? How lasers could revolutionize the way militaries counter enemy missiles and drones” at Yahoo!

Britain this week showed off a new laser weapon that its military says could deliver lethal missile or aircraft defense at around $13 a shot, potentially saving tens of millions of dollars over the cost of missile interceptors that do the job now.

Newly released video of a test of what the United Kingdom’s Defense Ministry calls the DragonFire, a laser directed energy weapon (LDEW) system, captured what the ministry says was the successful use of the laser against an aerial target during a January demonstration in Scotland.

“It’s a potential game changer for air defense,” the video says as a bright laser beam pierces the night sky over a firing range in the remote Hebrides archipelago, creating a ball of light as it hits its target.

The Defense Ministry says the DragonFire can precisely hit a target as small as a coin “over long ranges,” but it did not offer specifics. The exact range of the weapon is classified, it said.

The laser beam can cut through metal “leading to structural failure or more impactful results if the warhead is targeted,” a UK Defense Ministry statement said….

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Chris Barkley, Cat Eldridge, Sandra Miesel, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Steven French, Mike Kennedy, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]

Pixel Scroll 3/12/24 I’m Just Fen

(1) SPECIAL DINO DELIVERY. Royal Mail’s “The Age of the Dinosaurs” special issue features eight new stamps showing different prehistoric species and their habitats. The stamps are in collaboration with the Natural History Museum and also celebrate 19th-century paleontologist Mary Anning. (Click for larger images.)

(2) WICKED WORLD’S FAIR MELTDOWN. Stephen Beale, editor of The Steampunk Explorer, offers an “Inside Look: What Happened at Wicked World’s Fair?” The post first appeared on March 7 and has been updated half a dozen times with additional sources. Beale provided this synopsis of the post for File 770:

The event, Wicked World’s Fair, took place in February in Pennsylvania.

The organizer (Jeff Mach) is a highly controversial figure who previously ran the Steampunk World’s Fair, which was one of the largest steampunk events in the U.S. It collapsed in 2018 following misconduct allegations. The Daily Beast had a story about it.

The short version of this latest event is that he significantly overbooked vendor spots, so they ended up in spaces intended for panels and other non-vendor activities.

The sound crew for concert performances walked out due to non-payment.

There was a $35-per-head tea party, for which he sold 88 tickets, but due to overcrowding of vendors, there wasn’t enough capacity for all the ticketholders.

Requests for refunds via Eventbrite were declined. He’s blaming Eventbrite, but it appears that he just didn’t have the funds to cover his expenses.

My sources for the story include the former vendor coordinator and the former operations manager, both of whom worked as volunteers.

Some widely circulated videos show a confrontation between Mach and the vendors. One has 1.2 million views on Facebook. In some videos, one of his associates is seen standing in front of a vendor and reaching for a sword.

Since the event, vendors formed a private Facebook group called Disgruntled Wicked Vendors. It has around 100 members, though not all were actual vendors.

Following the SPWF collapse, many steampunk vendors, performers, etc. have vowed to avoid participating in Jeff Mach events. It appears that many vendors at WWF were not aware of this history. They’re trying to raise awareness of him so others are forewarned.

The vendor complaints were also covered by LehighValleyLive.com in “Bethlehem area steampunk convention ends contentiously. Vendors claim organizer running scam.”

(3) GODZILLA MINUS MORE THAN ONE COUNTRY. GeekTyrant says Japan is getting discs in May – no word when there will be a U.S. release. “Godzilla Minus One Blu-ray is Coming and Toho Shared a First Look”.

Godzilla Minus One had an incredibly strong box office run at the movie theaters and fans flocked to the cinemas to watch it. That theatrical run has ended and now Toho is teasing the upcoming Blu-ray and DVD release of the film.

The home video teased below will be made available for Japanese consumers, but I think it’s safe to say that the United States will get something very similar.

The movie will be released in both its color and Black and White versions. The home release of Godzilla Minus One is set to hit shelves in Japan on May 1st. There’s no word on when the movie will hit home video in the United States….

(4) FAREWELL, MY DARLING, NEVER. Philip Athans is determined to keep them alive! “Don’t Kill Your Darlings” at Fantasy Author’s Handbook.

There’s good writing adviceinteresting writing adviceiffy writing advice, and then there’s terrible, awful, spirit- and creativity-destroying writing advice, and the worst example of the latter category is “Kill your darlings.” What makes this nonsense so bad is how often and irresponsibly it’s repeated.

Often attributed to Dylan Thomas, sometimes William Faulkner (who, if he followed this advice himself would have killed The Sound and the Fury in its entirety), and then repeated by other teachers and authors including Stephen King. In reality the concept seems to have first been belched forth by Sir Arthur Quiller-Couch in a series of Cambridge Lectures about 110 years ago. Never heard of him? Neither have I. Maybe that’s because of his darling-free writing.

Whoever started it, it goes something like this:

“If you find you’ve written something you just love, that makes you feel as though you were born to do this, that you’ve found the heart and soul of it, delete that immediately and without further consideration because if you love it that much it can only be self-indulgent crap that no one else but you will like.”

What a spectacular load of bullshit….

(5) PROPSTORE. Craig Miller told about his evening at the Propstore auction on Facebook.

Propstore is an auction house based in London with an office here in Los Angeles. Their specialty is, as their name suggests, props from movies and television. Though, of course, they go well beyond that. (They’re the main auction house I’ve used to sell some of my collectibles.)

Last night was a reception and preview for their current auction, held on the penthouse level of the Peterson Automotive Museum in the Miracle Mile section of Los Angeles. (The auction starts today and goes for a total of three days and around 1500 items.) Herewith a few photos.

I have just a couple items in this auction. Alas, none of the really high-ticket items. I think solely a couple of pre-production paintings from “Return to Oz”. They weren’t on display.

What was on display were items including a Stormtrooper helmet from “Return of the Jedi”, an iconic dress worn by Lucille Ball on “I Love Lucy”, the Ten Commandments tablets from Cecil B. DeMille’s epic of the same name, and so much more. You can see a bunch on the Propstore Facebook page or on their webpage, where the auction is carried live (with on-line bidding, of course).

Propstore does these previews once a year and I frequently run into friends at them. Last night was no exception. It was nice to chat and spend a little time with Melissa Kurtz, Shawn Crosby, Chris Bartlett, among several others.

Perhaps best of all, because it’s been so long since I’ve seen or spoken to them, also present were Howard Kazanjian, producer of “Raiders of the Lost Ark” and “Return of the Jedi”, and Anthony Daniels, known the world over for being the man inside C-3PO….

(6) AND IF YOU HAVE ANY MONEY LEFT OVER. Heritage Auctions’ “March 20 – 24 Treasures from Planet Hollywood” event is hawking stuff formerly on display at Planet Hollywood restaurants.

…Though Sylvester Stallone, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and Bruce Willis were the star investors best associated with the restaurant, Planet Hollywood was THE biggest star of them all. Millions would flock there to see items appearing on the silver screen, and sometimes even see one of Hollywood’s A-list coming to open the restaurant. Before emails and cell phones, before digital effects and Instagram, it was the closest we could get to being close to the movies we all know and love….

Here’s an iconic example of the wares: “Jurassic Park (Universal, 1993), Wayne Knight “Dennis Nedry” Hero”.

Designed to hold and preserve dinosaur embryos for 36 hours, the can is highly visible early in the film as Dennis Nedry (Wayne Knight) meets with his Biosyn contact, Lewis Dodgson (Cameron Thor), who gives him the can and explains its features while devising a plan to steal dinosaur DNA samples from John Hammond’s (Richard Attenborough) InGen. Later in the film, Nedry uses the can as he infiltrates the cold storage facility on Isla Nubar and secures the DNA samples. The can is ultimately lost as it falls from Nedry’s jeep, washed away in churning mud when the deceitful computer programmer meets his demise in the jaws of a Dilophosaurus. Chosen by Art Director John Bell, the Barbasol brand can was a perfect fit for its aesthetics and instant recognizability which would help it stick out in its scenes and draw the audiences’ eyes. Since the film’s 1993 release, Barbasol, and their can’s classic design, have become synonymous with the Jurassic Park franchise. Exhibits production and display wear with scuffing to the finish, oxidation across the metal components, color fading, and adhesive loosening to the vial’s labels. Vials contain remnants of the clear yellowish liquid used to fill them during production, with the “PR-2.012” vial missing its cap. Comes with a COA from Heritage Auctions.

Even more irresistible is this diminuitive costume: “Muppet Treasure Island (Buena Vista, 1996), Kermit the Frog”.

Muppet Treasure Island (Buena Vista, 1996), Kermit the Frog “Captain Abraham Smollett” Ensemble. Original (11) piece ensemble including (1) black frock-style coat with gold stitching, (1) ivory waistcoat with gold stitching, (1) pair of black breeches, and (1) long-sleeved ivory shirt with ruffled cuffs. The accessories included are: (1) black tricorn hat with gold stitching, (1) pair of ivory boots with button and buckle closures, (1) black cravat-style necktie, (1) black and red striped waist tie, (1) brown leather belt, (1) 19th century-style gray wig with ponytail and black bow, and (1) Kermit-sized sword with gold basket hilt that has some green coating from oxidation. This outfit is worn by Captain Abraham Smollett (Kermit) throughout the film as he captains the ship, “Hispaniola.” Ensemble displays some production wear. Obtained from Jim Henson Productions. Comes with a COA from Heritage Auctions.

(7) PANDAS AND SANDWORMS BECOME CASH COWS. Variety verified it by watching the ticket booth: “Box Office: Kung Fu Panda 4 Leads, Dune 2 Stays Strong”.

Universal and DreamWork’s animated adventure “Kung Fu Panda 4” topped the domestic box office, earning a solid $58.3 million from 4,035 theaters in its opening weekend.

It marks the biggest debut of the franchise since the original, 2008’s “Kung Fu Panda” ($60 million), overtaking the start of the two prior entries, 2016’s “Kung Fu Panda 3” ($41 million) and 2011’s “Kung Fu Panda 2” ($47.6 million), not adjusted for inflation….

…Although “Dune: Part Two” relinquished its box office crown to “Panda,” the sci-fi sequel had another strong outing with $46 million from 4,074 venues. It marks a 44% decline in ticket sales from its debut (an impressive hold for a blockbuster of this scale) and brings the film’s North American total to $157 million. Globally, the big-budget follow-up has generated $367.5 million.

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY.

[Written by Cat Eldridge.]

Born March 12, 1925 Harry Harrison. (Died 2012.) So let’s talk about  Harry Harrison who I’d say is best known for his extraordinarily excellent Stainless Steel Rat series. James Bolivar diGriz, aka “Slippery Jim” and “The Stainless Steel Rat” is one of the most interesting characters I ever had the pleasure to read. 

The Stainless Steel Rat showed up, not surprisingly in a story called “The Stainless Steel Rat” sixty-seven years ago in Astounding in their August issue. 

Harry Harrison. Photo by and (c) Andrew Porter.

There are 12 works in the Stainless Steel Rat series, of which I’m absolutely certain that I’ve read and immensely enjoyed the first one, The Stainless Steel Rat, and after that is where it gets complicated. I’m looking now on the other iPad at the list of the novel titles and I can’t say that I remember any of them. I know that I’ve read at three or four of them, and liked reading them, but can’t tell you which, but I’m betting that they were the earlier ones. 

I do know that I read all of three of the Deathworld series with Jason dinAlt, a professional gambler, as the central character. They’re fun SF pulp, all three originally written as serials in the Sixties. A fourth, Return to Deathworld, for the Russian market was co-written with two Russian authors and hasn’t been translated into English.

His third series, Bill, the Galactic Hero, first appeared in the “Starsloggers” novella in sixty years ago in the December issue of Galaxy. Bill the character is among the silliest that I’ve ever read about. I’m really fond of truly silly SF, however, though I read the first one  I didn’t go beyond that.

Of course, worth noting is that Alex Cox directed an animated version of Bill, the Galactic Hero which was created with his students at the University of Colorado at Boulder, completed and released a decade ago. You can see it here.

Harrison’s Make Room! Make Room! became Soylent Green with Charlton Heston. I’ll confess I’ve not read the novel, nor ever seen the film. I see the film was nominated first a Hugo at Discon II and won a Nebula for the film.

I’m only going to note two other Awards, one is Sidewise Award for Best Long Alternative History, the Hammer and the Cross trilogy, and a Grand Master Nebula. 

I’ll admit I’ve not read enough of his shorter works to form an informed opinion, so I’ll let y’all tell me about that aspect of his fiction.

(9) BRAND X? “’Calling them X-Men is so 1960s’: Chris Claremont weighs in on the X-Men name change debate (and his idea for a replacement)” at Popverse.

Should the X-Men change their name? Ove the past few years, there has been some discourse around the name of Marvel’s iconic mutant team. The name has been around since the team’s first appearance in X-Men #1 (1963), but the world has changed since the 60s. Why does the team have a male-centric name when some of their most iconic members are female?

Chris Claremont, a writer famous for his 16-year X-Men run, has some thoughts on the discussion. During a discussion at the Uncanny Experience event, Claremont mused about the topic. “Calling them X-Men is so 1960s,” Claremont said, after referring to the team as the X-Group.

Claremont circled back to the topic during a question-and-answer session later in the discussion. When he was asked about changing the name, the writer revealed that it had been on his mind for years. “I tried that,” Claremont said. “I spent about 10 years referring to them as the X. The X being the unknown. It was pointed out to me that X-Men is trademarked, which apparently is a whole different kettle of fish. You can’t argue with legal people. When I came to work for Marvel, it was one or two guys, Apparently the Mouse House has much more than that. There are some fights you can’t win.”…

(10) LAUGHS OF THE CENTURY. Charlie Jane Anders makes excitement contagious about “My Favorite Comedy Films of the 2020s (So Far)” at Happy Dancing. Here’s one of her picks.

Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves (2023)

This film finally made me a convert to the Chris Pine fan club. I know, I’m very late. Honestly, the whole cast is great, with Michelle Rodriguez getting better material than she usually gets and Justice Smith proving that he is an utterly brilliant actor. Not to mention Hugh Grant as a wonderfully oily villain. Like a lot of the other comedies on this list, Dungeons & Dragons manages to go way over the top while still having a lot of sympathy and respect for its characters, which is a tough balancing act. I appreciate any comedy whose characters seem to be genuinely trying to be better people, while screwing up over and over again. Also, the CGI monsters and other effects help tell the story instead of being a gaudy distraction!

(11) EMISSION POSSIBLE. [Item by Steven French.] Beautiful but deadly? No, not really! “The Collectors Who Hunt Down Radioactive Glassware” at Gastro Obscura.

IN JANUARY OF 2021, A New Jersey teenager brought a piece of an antique Fiestaware plate to a high-school science class. The student had received a Geiger counter, an instrument used to measure radiation, for Christmas, and wanted to do an experiment. When the plate registered as radioactive, someone at the school panicked and called in a hazmat team. The entire school was evacuated, and those in the nuclear science field were aghast….

…Prior to World War II, and well before its potential for energy or weaponry was recognized, uranium was commonly used as a coloring agent in everything from plates, glasses, and punch bowls to vases, candlesticks, and beads. Uranium glass mosaics existed as early as 79 AD.

Also known as canary or vaseline glass, uranium glass is typically yellow or green in color and glows bright green under a black light. Shades can range from a translucent canary yellow to an opaque milky white depending on how much uranium is added to the glass, from just a trace to upwards of 25 percent. Uranium was also used in the glaze of orange-red Fiestaware, also known as “radioactive red,” prior to 1944, and was once a common sight in American kitchens.

Although uranium glassware does register on a handheld Geiger counter, the radiation amounts are considered negligible and on par with radiation emitted from other everyday items such as smoke detectors and cell phones….

(12) FANCY A BEER? IT’LL KILL YOU. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] Isaac Arthur departs from his usual Futurism for one of his “Sci-fi Sundays.”

This time it’s a shorter-than-usual edition at just 15 minutes because it is an impromptu one. This time the SFnal topic is of alien beer, specifically Alien Beer To Die For.

Now of course, I myself am unlikely to ever sample alien beer for the simple, factual reason that I live in Brit Cit, and have roots in Cal Hab and the Caledonian rad wastes, and am close to many of the best real ale hostelries in the spiral arm.

(Neat, huh? See some of you in Cal Hab this summer.)

A look at the possible effects of alien food, drink, and microbes on us or our ecosystem.

(13) VIDEO OF THE DAY. “Godzilla takes girl on date and it’s adorable” – here, let Dexerto spoil it all for you.

…The 138-second short starts with said girl losing her mind when Godzilla (or perhaps more accurately, someone in a Godzilla costume) shows up at her door. She hits the deck, starts hyperventilating, and becomes hysterical. Which isn’t traditionally how a great date starts. But then it all becomes rather lovely.

They go shopping. Then have a picnic in the park, before a trip to the beach where this decidedly odd couple wrestle on the sand. The date ends with them kissing each other as the sun sets (well, mainly her kissing Godzilla as the monster’s mouth can’t move)….

[Thanks to Steven French, Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, Todd Mason, Stephen Beale, John King Tarpinian, Chris Barkley, Cat Eldridge, and SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]

Pixel Scroll 2/28/24 Two Scrolls Diverged In A File, And I — I Took The One Less Pixeled By

(1) WONKA EVENT SCAM, WITH AI ‘HELP’. [Item by Tom Becker.] A Willy Wonka-themed event closed immediately upon opening due to complaints from disappointed customers. UK correspondent Mark Plummer says there is a long-standing tradition of disappointing special experiences. A Christmas show turns out to be a muddy field with a donkey with reindeer horns tied to its head.

The Glasgow Willy Wonka fiasco is interesting because of its use of AI. The AI-generated images used to sell the show include total gibberish. Who would not want to experience a “Twilight Tunnel™” with features like “TWDRDING”, “DODJECTION”, “ENIGEMIC SOUNDS”, “SVIIDE”, and “UKXEPCTED TWITS”? Or “ENCHERINING ENTERTAINMENT” with “exarserdray lollipops, a pasadise of sweet treats”? “Cops called after parents get tricked by AI-generated images of Wonka-like event” at Ars Technica.

Actors were given AI generated scripts that were pathetically bad. They showed the guests responding “with a mix of excitement and trepidation” to the trite lines and meager offerings of candy. “The AI-Generated Script From the Fake Willy Wonka Experience Is Beyond Wild” says The Mary Sue.

And then there was the AI generated character of the Unknown, “an evil chocolate maker who lives in the walls.” At this point the children started crying and ran away. “Willy Wonka Experience Actor Says Event Had AI-Generated Script, Unknown Character, and No Chocolate” reports IGN.

The promoter behind the House of Illuminati also sells AI-generated books on Amazon. “’Willy Wonka’ Huckster Sells AI-Written Vaccine Conspiracy Books” at Rolling Stone.

Scams have always been with us, but now they are glitzier and weirder than ever. Who could possibly have predicted this? (Besides Cory Doctorow and thousands of others.)

(2) VERTLIEB NOMINATED FOR RONDO “BEST ARTICLE OF THE YEAR”. Congratulations to Steve Vertlieb whose File 770 article “Subversion of Innocence: Reflections on ‘The Black Cat’” is a finalist for the 2024 Rondo Hatton Awards. Steve’s article is an analysis of the sumptuous, Grand Guignol, pre-code Gothic decadence of Universal Pictures’ horrific Boris Karloff/Bela Lugosi classic of 1934.

Public voting has begun for the 22nd Annual Rondo Hatton Classic Horror Awards. You’re invited to vote for your favorites in any or all 28 categories. Click the link for instructions and the complete ballot. The deadline to participate is midnight April 16. Mail Votes (and your name) to David Colton c/o [email protected].

(3) WORMSIGN. Io9 interviews the filmmaker: “Denis Villeneuve Talks Making Dune: Part Two an Epic Theatrical Experience” at Gizmodo.

io9: Got it. I love that both movies have this weird little moment before the studio logo of some kind of Dune language statement. Is that something you have to okay with the studio? Because ultimately it’s their movie and you’re putting your mark before their logo. Was there any pushback and what was your thinking in doing that?

Villeneuve: The first time in Part One, the truth is that as we were doing sound design and developing ideas for sound, we came up with this language that was developed by Hans Zimmer that I absolutely adored. And there was this idea of putting a statement right before the logo to own the space. And maybe it was a reaction at that time, an arrogant reaction by me, but I didn’t get any pushback. Everybody loved the idea. And I love it when you watch a movie and it’s not a slow-down descent, it’s an abrupt start. You put away the parking lot and your concern about dinner. [Slap noise] Right away, it’s like, “Okay, guys, listen.” A bit like in theater when you have the boom at the beginning to say to the audience, “Okay, quiet down, we start right now.” I love that.

(4) CONLANG IN CINEMA. And The New Yorker devotes a whole article to “’Dune’ and the Delicate Art of Making Fictional Languages”.

A trailer for Denis Villeneuve’s “Dune: Part Two” features the boy prophet Paul Atreides, played by Timothée Chalamet, yelling something foreign and uninterpretable to a horde of desert people. We see Chalamet as the embodiment of charismatic fury: every facial muscle clenched in tension, his voice strained and throaty and commanding. A line at the bottom of the screen translates: “Long live the fighters!”

The scene fills barely a few seconds in a three-minute trailer, yet it establishes the emotional tone of the film and captures the messianic fervor that drives its plot. It also signals the depth of Villeneuve’s world-building. Part of what made his first excursion into the “Dune” universe such an experiential feast was its vivid, immersive quality, combining monumental architectural design with atmospheric soundscapes and ethereal costuming. We could see a few remnants of our world (remember the bit with the bagpipes?), but the over-all effect was transportive, as if the camera were not a piece of equipment but a cyborgian eye live-streaming from a far-flung alien civilization. Chalamet’s strange tongue is part of the franchise’s meticulous set dressing. It’s not gibberish, but part of an intricate linguistic system that was devised for Villeneuve’s adaptations.

Engineered languages such as the one Chalamet speaks represent a new benchmark in imaginative fiction. Twenty years ago, viewers would have struggled to name franchises other than “Star Trek” or “The Lord of the Rings” that bothered to invent new languages. Today, with the budgets of the biggest films and series rivalling the G.D.P.s of small island nations, constructed languages, or conlangs, are becoming a norm, if not an implicit requirement. Breeze through entertainment from the past decade or so, and you’ll find lingos designed for Paleolithic peoples (“Alpha”), spell-casting witches (“Penny Dreadful”), post-apocalyptic survivors (“Into the Badlands”), Superman’s home planet of Krypton (“Man of Steel”), a cross-species alien alliance (“Halo”), time-travelling preteens (“Paper Girls”), the Munja’kin tribe of Oz (“Emerald City”), and Santa Claus and his elves (“The Christmas Chronicles” and its sequel).

A well-executed conlang can bolster a film’s appearance of authenticity. It can deepen the scenic absorption that has long been an obsession for creators and fans of speculative genres such as science fiction and fantasy….

(5) MORE TBR. NPR’s “Here and Now” program recommends “Black genre fiction to pick up this History Month”. There are lists for romance, horror, thriller/mystery and —

Speculative fiction/science fiction/fantasy

(6) EXPERT EYE. In Gabino Iglesias’ column “4 New Horror Novels That Are as Fresh as They Are Terrifying” for the New York Times, the Stoker-winning author reviews new books by Emily Ruth Verona, Jenny Kiefer, Christopher Golden and Tlotlo Tsamaase.

(7) ANIME ART GOING UNDER THE HAMMER. Heritage Auctions will run “The Art of Anime, Dragon Ball, and More Animation Art Showcase Auction” on March 23-24.

Heritage Auctions celebrates the world of anime with its largest showcase sale, “The Art of Anime, Dragon Ball, and More,” on March 23-24. This event features over 700 lots, including an extensive collection from the iconic Dragon Ball series, celebrating its decades-long journey from its inception in Weekly Shonen Jump. The auction spans a wide range of anime titles, offering production art, promotional materials, model kits, and action figures. Highlights include rare items from Dragon Ball, Sailor Moon, Pokémon, Neon Genesis Evangelion, and more, alongside unique finds like Akira T-shirt prototypes. This showcase aims to reconnect fans with the unforgettable moments of their favorite anime series.

Here’s an example of what’s up for bid: “Dragon Ball Z Goku, Gohan, Master Roshi, Piccolo, and Cel Ice | Lot #85069”.

Some of Dragon Ball Z‘s most famous characters take a break from training and put on their ice skates in this incredibly rare hand-painted production cel featuring our beloved protagonist Goku, accompanied by his son Gohan, Piccolo, Master Roshi, and even the heinous Cell in his imperfect form! Possibly created for a TV commercial, this four-layer 12-field production cel offers sensational full-figure images of the characters with Gohan and Cell stopping as skillfully as they fight. 

(8) “HOMAGE” TO WARD SHELLEY’S HISTORY OF SCIENCE FICTION ON DISPLAY IN THE CHENGDU SF MUSEUM. [Item by Ersatz Culture.] The SF Museum in Chengdu has been re-opened to the public for almost exactly a month now, and whilst I’ve been trawling the likes of Bilibili and Xiaohongshu for any coverage, there hasn’t been much I thought that I thought was worth writing up and submitting to File 770.

However, tonight I encountered the image below in a small XHS gallery.  I’d not noticed it before; whether that’s because it has been newly added to the museum, or simply that previous posters didn’t consider it worth taking pictures of, I don’t know.  I’ve not tried to read any of the Chinese text, but the English subtitle reads:

Together, let’s write imaginative explorations of the future science fiction world

which I assume relates to the Post-It notes shown on the left of the image.

Readers may well find this image vaguely familiar.  For those who don’t, it bears a startling resemblance to Ward Shelley’s “The History of Science Fiction”.

Source: Andrew Liptak / The Verge

That earlier image was included in a talk that was part of “[the] First Industrial Development Summit of [the] World Science Fiction Convention”, which also had Ben Yalow as a speaker. Whether that earlier presentation was the genesis for this new display, who knows?

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY.

[Written by Cat Eldridge.]

Born February 28, 1909 Olan Soule. (Died 1994.) Olan Soule, an actor who had at least two hundred and fifty performances in his career. So let’s look at this career that I find so interesting. 

First genre role? That’d be Mr. Krull, a boarding house resident in The Day The Earth Stood Still.

Remember Captain Midnight? From the third year on the radio serial, Soule had the role of L. William Kelly, SS-11, the second-in-command of the Secret Squadron. When it became a television series where it was rebranded Jet Jackson, Flying Commando, he was scientist Aristotle “Tut” Jones for the entire series. He was the only actor who performed on both the radio and television shows.

Olan Soule on Alfred Hitchcock Presents.

He was in two Twilight Zone episodes, the first as IRS agent in “The Man in Bottle” and then as Mr. Smiles in “Caesar and Me”. The letter was the one with that evil ventriloquist dummy. Brrrr. The former which involves a couple and a genie I just don’t remember. 

He was on My Favorite Martian as Daniel Farrow in one of my favorite episodes, “Martin’s Favorite Martian”. 

He would appear as a newscaster on Batman in “The Pharaoh’s in a Rut”.

Olan Soule as newscaster on Batman.

He voiced Mister Taj in the English language version of Fantastic Planet. One seriously effing weird film. 

And now for a roll call of his other genre appearances: One Step BeyondBewitchedThe Addams FamilyThe MunstersMission: ImpossibleThe Six Million Dollar ManBuck Rogers in the 25th Century and Fantasy Island.

(10) COMICS SECTION.

  • F Minus – could this be Pluto’s revenge?

(11) REALLY EDUCATIONAL COMICS. “A Boom in Comics Drawn From Fact” – the New York Times says “One in four books sold in France is a graphic novel. Increasingly, those include nonfiction works by journalists and historians.”

Soon after the journalist and historian Valérie Igounet heard about the killing of Samuel Paty, the schoolteacher whose 2020 murder by an Islamist extremist shocked France, she knew she wanted to write a book about him.

Paty, who had shown caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad to students during a class on freedom of expression, was murdered near the middle school where he taught in a Paris suburb. “I absolutely wanted Samuel Paty’s students to be able to read this book,” Igounet said, “and it was obvious that a 300-page book with footnotes would be reserved for a different kind of readership.”

Instead, Igounet decided to produce a comic book: “Black Pencil: Samuel Paty, the Story of a Teacher,” based on two years of reporting and made with the illustrator Guy Le Besnerais, was published in October. It meticulously reconstructs the events leading up to the murder while also showing Paty’s daily life in the classroom. Le Besnerais’s illustrations are accompanied by Paty’s handwritten notes, newspaper clippings and messages exchanged by his students in the weeks before he was killed.

One in four books sold in France is a comic book, according to the market research company GfK, and a growing number of those are nonfiction works by journalists and historians. In the past year, they have included titles such as “M.B.S.: Saudi Arabia’s Enfant Terrible,” a biography of Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman by Antoine Vitkine and Christophe Girard; “What Are the Russians Thinking?” based on the cartoonist Nicolas Wild’s conversations about the war in Ukraine during a 2022 trip to Russia; and “Who Profits From Exile?,” by Taina Tervonen and Jeff Pourquié, which looks at the economics of European immigration….

(12) FANAC FAN HISTORY ZOOM IN MARCH. “The Women Fen Don’t See” is the last FANAC Fan History Zoom for this season. The March 16 event promises to be an exceptionally interesting program on a topic that is often overlooked in fannish annals.

The Women Fen Don’t See

With: Claire Brialey, Kate Heffner, and Leah Zeldes Smith

Saturday, March 16, 2024. Time: 3PM EDT, 2PM CDT, Noon PDT, 7PM London (GMT), and Mar 17 at 6AM AEDT in Melbourne. To attend, send a note to [email protected]

[Click for larger image.]

(13) NEUROMANCER TO TV. “Apple Orders ‘Neuromancer’ Series Based on William Gibson Novel” reports Variety.

Apple TV+ has ordered a series adaptation of the William Gibson novel “Neuromancer,” Variety has learned.

The 10-episode series hails from co-creators Graham Roland and JD Dillard. Roland will also serve as showrunner, while Dillard will direct the pilot. Skydance Television will co-produce with Anonymous Content.

Per the official logline, the series “will follow a damaged, top-rung super-hacker named Case who is thrust into a web of digital espionage and high stakes crime with his partner Molly, a razor-girl assassin with mirrored eyes, aiming to pull a heist on a corporate dynasty with untold secrets.”…

(14) VIDEO OF THE DAY. From The Simpsons several years ago, “What about Ray Bradbury?”

Martin is running for class president, and this is his platform.

[Thanks to Andrew Porter, John King Tarpinian, Chris Barkley, Ersatz Culture, Tom Becker, Kathy Sullivan, Joe Siclari, Cat Eldridge, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Steven French, and Mike Kennedy for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Andrew (not Werdna).]

Pixel Scroll 2/25/24 The Scroll Is Spinning. I’ll Try Again Tomorrow

(1) NICHOLAS WHYTE TAKES UP 2024 HUGO ADMINISTRATOR DUTIES. Following the resignation of Kat Jones, Glasgow 2024 WSFS Division Head Nicholas Whyte announced this news in “The Hugos and me” at From the Heart of Europe:

I have now been appointed Hugo Administrator for Glasgow 2024: A Worldcon for our Futures, double-hatted with the role of Division Head for WSFS. (If the website hasn’t already been updated, it will be soon.) This is my comment on recent events, and my own commitment to future action.

I was not involved with organising the Chengdu Worldcon in any way, though it was a close call. Shortly before the Chengdu bid won the Site Selection vote in 2021, I was invited to become one of the Co-chairs of the convention if the bid won. (I have no idea if Ben Yalow was already on board at that stage.) I declined on the grounds that I really did not have time, but agreed to become a senior adviser, and was listed as such on their org chart presented in DC.

However, I was dismayed by Chengdu Worldcon’s choice of fascist writer Sergei Lukanyenko as a guest of honour, and by a general lack of communication. By summer 2022 I had heard very little from Chengdu Worldcon and it had become clear that they were not very interested in my advice, so I resigned as an advisor and heard no more from them for several months…. 

More follows about his trip to the Chengdu Worldcon. And about his past experience administering the 2017 and 2019 Hugos, and as part of the 2020, 2021, and 2022 Hugo teams.

(2) GLYER’S APOLOGY TO SHEPHERD. I apologize to Shepherd for comparing him to Vox Day in item #15 of the February 22 Scroll. It was unwarranted and wrong for me to do. I have now deleted the Vox Day quotes and replaced them with this:

“I apologize for drawing a comparison between Shepherd and Vox Day in the item that formerly appeared in this space. I was wrong to give into the impulse, which vented at Shepherd my emotional reaction to all the Hugo stuff I’ve had to write news about for the last month, something he has nothing to do with. (But if you want to ask why, then, is item #14 still here — Shepherd intended the needle, and I felt it. Ouch.)”

I also have corrected Shepherd’s name in item #14. The apology is repeated here in today’s Scroll because not many people are going to see the changes made in a three-day-old post.

(3) SHARON LEE UPDATE. Author Sharon Lee, who lost her husband Steve Miller earlier this week, answers four questions on her readers’ and friends’ minds in “Sunday in the new world”. Here’s an excerpt (questions 3 and 4 at the link).

So!  The first question —  Will I be continuing the Liaden series?
Yes, it is my intention to continue writing in the Liaden Universe®, at least to the point of finishing out the remaining three books contracted with Baen.  There will be some changes in how things go forward, which are inevitable, given Circumstances.  Trade Lanes is off the table, at least for now.  It is possible that it will never be written, but — I’m new at this, so let’s just not say “never” and instead say “we’ll see.”

I’m about 1/3 of the way through the book following Ribbon Dance, and have Extensive Notes for the book after that.  The sequel is due at Baen in September.  The deadline may have to be renegotiated; I don’t know that yet — see “new at this,” above — and I’ll have to talk with Madames the Agent and the Publisher.

Question the Second:  How am I doing?
I have no idea.  I have moments of relative peace — work is going to be a refuge, I can already see that — moments of immobilizing terror, and breathtaking pain.  I’m assuming these things are standard, but I’ve never lost my best friend, spouse, and creative partner before.

The cats have been a comfort, piling on whenever I land in a place and stay still long enough.

Local friends have also been keeping an eye on me, to the extent that I allow it; it’s hard to ask for help, and I’m not Steve, who loved people and made connections the way the rest of us breathe.  I’m a more … private person, a fact that it will do us all good to remember, going forward.  If I’m testy, sarcastic, or clueless — recall that I’ve always been that way, and that Steve always did the heavy interpersonal lifting.

(4) GWENDA BOND & JOHN SCALZI AT JOSEPH BETH BOOKSELLERS. [Item by Chris Barkley.] On Saturday evening, Ohio-based New York Times bestselling sf author John Scalzi interviewed Kentucky-based New York Times bestselling author Gwenda Bond at Joseph-Beth Booksellers in Cincinnati, Ohio.

For more than an hour, Mr. Scalzi quizzed Ms. Bond on what inspired her to write her latest novel, The Frame Up.

This new novel chronicles the adventures of Dani Poissant, an especially talented art thief who been approached for a special job. The problem? The crew hates her for turning in their former leader, her mother…

Be assured, it will be a magical journey for all involved and in more ways than one.

Mr. Scalzi also sold a few books as well.

(5) AGENT OF CHANGE. Victoria Strauss has advice for “Coping With Scams: Suggestions for Changing Your Mindset” at Writer Beware.

…My standard advice for how to cope with the prevalence of scams is to educate yourself: learn as much as possible about publishing and self-publishing–and do it before you start trying to snag an agent, or querying publishers, or assessing self-publishing platforms and service providers. The more you know about how things should work, the easier it will be to recognize bad practice when you encounter it. (The Writer Beware website is a good place to start.)

But it’s not just about being prepared with adequate knowledge. Mindset is also important: your default assumptions about, and responses to, the people and situations you encounter along your publication journey. Such expectations can help you, or they can hinder you–like my writer friend, whose bad experiences caused them to conclude, falsely, that no one can be trusted….

(6) MINORITY REPORT THE STAGE PLAY. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] BBC’s Radio 4 Front Row the other day devoted over a third of the programme to a new stage play adaptation of Philip K. Dick’s short story Minority Report.

The new adaptation shifts the action to Brit Cit London and the play features special effects and illusions to convey the future tech and mind games.  The show’s director said that when the Tom Cruise film (2002, Hugo short-listed in case you forgot) came out it was all pretty much science fiction. However, he opines, with recent advances in artificial intelligence and neurobiology it seems more plausible.

You can access the programme here. You will need to jump to about halfway through.

Minority report, the Sci-Fi classic by Philip K Dick, has already been adapted for film and television and now it’s a stage play that employs an innovative mix of technology, stagecraft and live performance. As it opens at the Nottingham Playhouse, Mark Burman talks to some of the creatives involved.

See also the Nottingham Playhouse website, “Minority Report”, the source of these photos.

(7) KENNETH MITCHELL (1974-2024). “Kenneth Mitchell, Star Trek and Captain Marvel actor, dies aged 49” — the Guardian pays tribute.

Canadian actor Kenneth Mitchell, known for roles in Star Trek: Discovery and the Marvel film Captain Marvel, has died following complications from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS.

Mitchell, who was 49-years-old, died on Saturday, according to a statement released by his verified Instagram account.

“With heavy hearts we announce the passing of Kenneth Alexander Mitchell, beloved father, husband, brother, uncle, son and dear friend to many,” the statement said.

“For five and a half years Ken faced a series of awful challenges from ALS. And in truest Ken fashion, he managed to rise above each one with grace and commitment to living a full and joyous life in each moment,” it added….

The Hollywood Reporter adds these details:

…Mitchell played four characters across three seasons of Paramount’s Star Trek: Discovery: Kol, Kol-Sha, Tenavik and Aurellio. He also portrayed a young Captain Marvel’s father in a flashback in Marvel’s Captain Marvel and World War II flyer Deke Slayton in ABC’s The Astronaut Wives Club….

(8) BRIAN STABLEFORD (1948-2024). British academic and critic Brian Stableford, author of over 70 novels, died February 24 at the age of 75. His Wikipedia article includes a long list of work by this prolific writer and editor.

He graduated with a degree in biology from the University of York in 1969 before going on to do postgraduate research in biology and later in sociology. In 1979 he received a PhD with a doctoral thesis on The Sociology of Science Fiction.

Brian Stableford

The Science Fiction Encyclopedia says he began his writing career in his teens, collaborating with a schoolfriend, Craig A Mackintosh (writing together as Brian Craig), on his first published story, “Beyond Time’s Aegis” for Science Fantasy #78 in 1965; much expanded, it was eventually published in book form as Firefly: A Novel of the Far Future (1994).

He won the IAFA Distinguished Scholarship Award in 1987, the Science Fiction Research Association Pilgrim Award for lifetime contributions to sff scholarship in 1999, and a SF&F Translations special award in 2011. He won a 1985 Eaton Award for best critical book with Scientific Romance in Britain: 1890-1950. His article “How Should a Science Fiction Story End?” (The New York Review of Science Fiction #78 Feb 1995) received SFRA’s Pioneer Award in 1996.

His book The Empire of Fear won a 1989 Lord Ruthven award for fiction about vampires. His short fiction “The Hunger and Ecstasy of Vampires”  won a BSFA Award in 1996.

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY.

[Written by Cat Eldridge.]

Born February 25, 1971 Sean Astin, 53. Let’s talk about Sean Astin who played Samwise Gamgee in The Lord of The Rings films. I’ll admit that he was one of my favorite hobbits in the trilogy and Sean did a sterling job of bringing his character to life here, didn’t he? I’ll also admit that I’d completely forgotten that he wasn’t in The Hobbit as in I tend to think that the hobbits that were there are all in the trilogy.

Before The Lord of The Rings, he showed in his first film playing Mikey Walsh in The Goonies. No, not genre (remember My Birthday Write-up, my rules what gets included here) but a really fine YA treasure hunt adventure in which everyone has fun. Well not everyone.

He has a lead role in Toy Soldiers, a film I still have an odd fond spot for,  as  William “Billy” Tepper. Damn I liked those toy soldiers. I even had some of the action figures a long time ago.

Ray Bradbury and Sean Astin in 2009

He was Stuart Conway in a film named after a time travel device called Slipstream that was stolen by a group of bank robbers. Might be interesting to see.

He voiced Shazam in a pair of animated DC films, Justice League: War and Justice League: Atlantis, almost proving there are too many DC animated films. Oops, they did prove that amply as there’s another one, a Lego one he did.

In the Department of Films That I Never Knew Existed Off Novels I Never Knew Were Written is Terry Pratchett’s The Colour of Magic, which proves how prolific he was or how bad my memory is, at any rate Sean is Twoflower here. 

Dorothy and the Witches of Oz is a 2012 series of a decade ago apparently covered The Wonderful Wizard of OzOzma of OzThe Road to Oz and The Magic of Oz. Somewhere in there, he was Frack Muckadoo, a servant of Princess Langwidere.

I think the last thing I’ll mention is that he showed up in a brief recurring role on The Big Bang Theory as Dr. Greg Pemberton, one of a team of Fermi-Lab physicists who accidentally confirmed the Super-Asymmetry paper published by Sheldon and Amy. Wasn’t that an amazingly fantastic series? 

Yes, there’s other kibbles and bits which I’m sure you’ll point out, but I need tea now. 

(10) COMICS SECTION.

  • Bizarro brings the litigious spirit to fairy tale land.

(11) AUCTION. Propstore’s “Entertainment Memorabilia Live Auction: Los Angeles 2024” runs March 12-14. Lots of stuff you’ll recognize in their online catalog. Here’s one example:

(12) THE 1982 LAWS OF ROBOTICS. “Isaac Asimov Predicts the Future in 1982: Computers Will Be ‘at the Center of Everything;’ Robots Will Take Human Jobs” at Open Culture.

…As for “the computer age,” asks Jim Lehrer; “have we crested on that one as well”? Asimov knew full well that the computer would be “at the center of everything.” Just as had happened with television over the previous generation, “computers are going to be necessary in the house to do a great many things, some in the way of entertainment, some in the way of making life a little easier, and everyone will want it.” There were many, even then, who could feel real excitement at the prospect of such a future. But what of robots, which, as even Asimov knew, would come to “replace human beings?”

“It’s not that they kill them, but they kill their jobs,” he explains, and those who lose the old jobs may not be equipped to take on any of the new ones. “We are going to have to accept an important role — society as a whole — in making sure that the transition period from the pre-robotic technology to the post-robotic technology is as painless as possible. We have to make sure that people aren’t treated as though they’re used up dishrags, that they have to be allowed to live and retain their self-respect.” Today, the technology of the moment is artificial intelligence, which the news media haven’t hesitated to pay near-obsessive attention to. (I’m traveling in Japan at the moment, and saw just such a broadcast on my hotel TV this morning.) Would that they still had an Asimov to discuss it with a level-headed, far-sighted perspective….

(13) THERE’S A LEGO SALE, STEP ON IT! “A rare LEGO piece found at PA Goodwill set to sell for over $18K” reports Yahoo!

Bidding on a rare 14-karat gold LEGO piece has come to a close and the item sold for much more than expected.

The piece called the Bionicle Golden Kanohi Hau Mask, which sold for $18,101, was found by workers at a warehouse in DuBois, Pennsylvania, and is believed to be only one of 30 that exist. In 2001, some were gifted to LEGO employees, while the rest were awarded through a contest.

When the rare LEGO was found no one really knew what it was, the item was posted on shopgoodwill.com for just $14.95. Little did they know what someone would pay for it.

“The final bid was $18,101. The second-highest bid was $18,100,” said Chad Smith, Vice President of E-commerce and Technology for Goodwill Industries of North Central PA….

(14) VIDEO OF THE DAY. “’Borderlands’ Trailer Sees Cate Blanchett Hunt For Treasure On Scorned Planet”. Deadline sets the frame:

…[The] Borderlands movie follows Lilith (Blanchett), an infamous outlaw with a mysterious past, who reluctantly returns to her home planet of Pandora to find the missing daughter of the universe’s most powerful S.O.B., Atlas (Edgar Ramirez).

Lilith forms an alliance with an unexpected team – Roland (Kevin Hart), a former elite mercenary, now desperate for redemption; Tiny Tina (Ariana Greenblatt), a feral pre-teen demolitionist; Tina’s musclebound, rhetorically challenged protector, Krieg; Tannis (Jamie Lee Curtis), the scientist with a tenuous grip on sanity; and Claptrap (Jack Black), a persistently wiseass robot. These unlikely heroes must then battle alien monsters and dangerous bandits to find and protect the missing girl, who may hold the key to unimaginable power….

[Thanks to SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Steven French, Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, John King Tarpinian, Chris Barkley, and Cat Eldridge for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Lis Carey.]

Pixel Scroll 1/17/24 Send Pixels, Scrolls And Files, The Fifth Has Hit The Fan

(1) SEATTLE 2025 WORLDCON MEMBERSHIP RATES RISE TOMORROW. At least for a few more hours the cost of a WSFS Membership + Attending Membership Supplement for an adult over the age of 25 is $175. The other permutations are explained at the Memberships – Seattle Worldcon 2025 page.

Mark Roth-Whitworth sent a few editorial comments along with the foregoing reminder:

I just got our memberships for Seattle in ’25. Ouch. This far out, $175 each, and I think it goes up after tomorrow.

Was the same demographic going as did back in the Sixties and Seventies, it would be a *lot* smaller. Most of us were working class. Hell, my late wife and I together maybe made the median income, or maybe just under. In 1993 it would have been hard to pay for this.

Forget the graying of fandom, how about the economic stratification of fandom? Where are the folks who are making a living working construction, or flipping burgers, or barista, or drive a cab, or working in a thousand other jobs that we need, but make crap wages? Or people on SSI or other welfare?

I know I ghosted a con or two in my mid-twenties, when I just did not have the money. I don’t know a lot of folks who go to other than their local cons, and work them to afford it.

Have we become elite?

(2) EMMY AWARDS. Genre TV was shut out at the 75th Primetime Emmy Awards ceremony which aired on January 15. The complete list of winners – largely repeated wins by Succession, The Bear, and Beef — is here.

(3) HISTORIC MOMENTS IN TELEVISION. There are, however, plenty of genre highlights in the Television Academy’s anniversary list of 75 “Top TV Moments”.

Arguably the first one on the list is genre, because fans voted the Hugo Award to TV coverage of the Apollo 11 mission. Beyond that, you have to wait ‘til way down the list before there’s another.  

1. The Moon Landing. After Apollo 11 landed on the moon, astronaut Neil Armstrong proclaims “One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind. 1969.

40. The Twilight Zone. “Time Enough at Last” After a nuclear catastrophe, loner Harry Bemis (Burgess Meredith) is left with all the time in the world to read his beloved books, only to shatter his glasses, leaving him virtually blind. 1950.

50. Star Trek – Kirk and Uhura kiss, 1968

51. Game of Thrones — “The Rains of Castamere” At Robb’s (Richard Madden) wedding, Catelyn (Michelle Fairley) reveals chain mail under Bolton’s (Michael McElhatton) clothes just as Robb’s wife is murdered, Robb is shot with arrows, and his men’s throats are cut.

And there are several more beyond that, from The Last of Us, Lost, another from Game of Thrones, and the Mary Martin version of Peter Pan.

(4) DEEP IMPACT. Animation World Network’s Kevin Geiger anticipates “The Impact of AI on Hollywood in 2024: 12 Predictions”. Short version: AI will take away a bunch of existing jobs. Here’s an excerpt of what he forsees.

4. Deepfake filmmaking has become the new paradigm.

The continued evolution of deepfake technology enables filmmakers of all resource levels to create younger versions of living actors or bring deceased actors back to the screen. This has already been used to tell stories that span different periods. While the technology offers exciting creative opportunities, it raises significant ethical concerns regarding consent and the potential misuse of digital likenesses. Seeing is no longer believing.

5. Rise of the AI-driven extras and stunt doubles.

The use of AI-generated virtual extras and stunt doubles will be a game-changer in reducing production costs and logistical complexities, particularly in scenes requiring large crowds or dangerous stunts. However, the application of AI technology will accelerate the reduced employment opportunities for human extras and stunt performers.

6. The visual effects industry becomes more director-driven.

AI’s ability to produce sophisticated visual effects quickly and cost-effectively is set to enhance the visual storytelling in films. The prospect of generating visual effects via “prompting” (otherwise known as “directing”) will make VFX more director-driven, and encourage greater creative expression and experimentation. The number of “technical directors” required on a film will be reduced: a benefit to major studios and indie producers, but a threat to hired guns.

7. AI-assisted editing is now the default starting point.

AI-assisted editing is revolutionizing work reels and post-production by autonomously selecting takes, suggesting edits, and assembling rough cuts. This can significantly speed up the editing process and reduce costs, but over-reliance on AI could reduce the editor’s creative control, lead

(5) AAFCA AWARDS. The 15th Annual African-American Film Critics Association (AAFCA) Award Winners include Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse.

Best Drama: Origin
Best Comedy: American Fiction
Best Musical: The Color Purple
Best Director: Ava DuVernay (Origin)
Best Screenplay: American Fiction
Best Actor: Colman Domingo (Rustin)
Best Actress: Aunjanue Ellis-Taylor (Origin)
Best Supporting Actor: Sterling K. Brown (American Fiction)
Best Supporting Actress: *TIE* Da’Vine Joy Randolph (The Holdovers), Danielle Brooks (The Color Purple)
Best Ensemble: The Color Purple
Breakout Performance: Lily Gladstone (Killers of the Flower Moon)
Emerging Filmmaker: Cord Jefferson (American Fiction)
Best Independent Feature: A Thousand and One
Best Animated Feature: Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse
Best Documentary: Stamped From The Beginning
Best Music: The Color Purple
Best International Film: Io Capitano
Best Short Film: The After

(6) EKPEKI Q&A. Paul Semel interviews “’The Year’s Best African Speculative Fiction 2022’ Co-Editor Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki”.

While other Best Of type anthologies only consider short stories, The Year’s Best African Speculative Fiction 2022 also includes poems. I recently interviewed Stephen Kotowych, the editor of Year’s Best Canadian Fantasy And Science Fiction: Volume One, which also includes poetry. Is there something going on in the speculative realm where poetry is becoming more popular or respected?

Speculative poetry is such a wide and important form that we decided to include this year to make the book separate from last year’s. Hopefully, it’s something that matches up with the vibrancy the speculative poetry world exudes [and this is a] chance to showcase some of that speculative poetry vibrancy going on

(7) THE METERS OF MIDDLE-EARTH. And CBR.com studies “How The Lord of the Rings Made Poetry Exciting”.

…The characters of The Lord of the Rings used poetry as a coping mechanism to deal with negative emotions. Shortly after leaving the Shire, the hobbits were overwhelmed with uncertainty and weariness about the journey ahead. To raise their spirits, Frodo recited “The Road goes ever on and on,” a poem that Bilbo had taught him. In Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring, Gandalf and Bilbo both sang sections of this same poem. As the hobbits rested at Weathertop, poetry again assuaged their worries. In the chapter “A Knife in the Dark” from Tolkien’s The Fellowship of the RingAragorn “began to tell them tales to keep their minds from fear.” These tales came in the form of poems, such as the song of Beren and Lúthien….

(8) FREE READ. Entries in the Quantum Shorts flash fiction contest are available to read at the link. The shortlist will be announced in March.

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY.

[Written by Cat Eldridge.]

Born January 17, 1931 James Earl Jones, 93. This Scroll you’re getting James Earl Jones, most notably known in our circles as the voice of a certain Sith Lord whose voice he did up to Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, but he’s got much more, and sometimes surprisingly diverse career here. So let’s see what he’s done…

His film debut was as Lieutenant Lothar Zogg, the B-52’s bombardier  in Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb

In 1969, Jones participated in making short films for what became Sesame Street. These were combined with animated segments, then were shown to groups of children to see if the format appealed to children. As cited by production notes included in the Sesame Street: Old School 1969–1974 DVD, the short that had the greatest impact with test audiences was one showing a bald-headed Jones counting slowly to ten. And yes, it was shown on the show when it aired.

I truly love him in Conan the Barbarian as Thulsa Doom, an antagonist for the character Kull of Atlantis. Thulsa Doom was created by Robert E. Howard in the “Delcardes’ Cat” story. Neat character for him, I’d say. 

He’s in Allan Quatermain and the Lost City of Gold withthe name of Umslopogaas, a fearless warrior and old friend of Allan Quatermain. I looked him up in the original novel, Allan Quatermain. Please don’t make me do that again. Really. Don’t. 

Ahhh, Field of Dreams: “Ray, people will come Ray. They’ll come to Iowa for reasons they can’t even fathom. They’ll turn up your driveway not knowing for sure why they’re doing it.” Great role. To say more would involve spoilers, right? 

He voices Mufusa, the lion murdered by his brother in The Lion King and its sequel, who death does not stop from being present. Really present. Extraordinary performing by him. 

Did you know that he narrated Stallone’s Judge Dredd? Well he did. He was uncredited at time but as is with these things, it didn’t stay a secret permanently, did it? 

He had series appearances on Faerie Tale Theatre (as, and I simply love it, Genie of the Lamp, Genie of the Ring), Highway to HeavenShelley Duvall’s Bedtime StoriesPicket FencesLois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman, (he was the uncredited narrator of 3rd Rock from the Sun (maybe he’s the nameless narrator for all of the multiverse?), Touched by an Angel in which he’s the Angel of Angels, cool name, Stargate SG-1 , Merlin and finally as himself on The Big Bang Theory.

He hosted Long Ago and Far Away, a children’s series that lasted thirty-five episodes with each of them based on a folk or fairy tale. Stop motion animation, live actors and traditional animation were all used.

That’s it, folks.

Carrie Fisher, James Earl Jones and Jim Parsons in a scene from Big Bang Theory.

(10) COMICS SECTION.

(11) PAYDAY FOR COMIC OWNER. “Rare copy of The Amazing Spider-Man No 1 sells for more than £1m” – the Guardian wanted you to know. And weep if you ever owned a copy in your youth.

A rare copy of the first issue of The Amazing Spider-Man has sold for more than £1m.

The comic, published in March 1963, reached a record-setting $1.38m (£1.1m) at auction. It is one of only two copies of The Amazing Spider-Man No 1 rated “near mint/mint” by comic book grading service Certified Guaranty Company (CGC).

“It was obvious this Spider-Man was an opportunity not likely to come around, and the final price reflected that,” said Barry Sandoval, vice president at Heritage Auctions, the company that ran the auction, according to Fine Books magazine.

The copy sold for nearly three times as much as a CGC-rated “near mint” version sold in July last year for $520,380 (£410,184)….

(12) TODAY’S THING TO WORRY ABOUT. The lede is the most interesting part of Variety’s article “When Superman and Batman Copyrights Expire in a Decade, Will It Be Kryptonite for DC?”.

About a decade ago, Zack Snyder developed a storyline for the DC Extended Universe that involved Bruce Wayne impregnating Lois Lane.

The subplot in which Batman cuckolds Superman was poised to unfold in “Justice League,” with Batman dying in the sequel and Lois raising their spawn with Superman. Snyder’s vision for Wonder Woman was equally unorthodox, with visuals featuring a superheroine who brandished the decapitated heads of her conquered enemies like an ISIS jihadi.

Warner Bros. and DC Studios — which hold a firm grip on their intellectual property — rejected Snyder’s ideas, which were deemed “super creepy,” according to a source familiar with the back and forth. (DC declined to comment for this story. A representative for Snyder did not respond to a request for comment.) But in the next decade, artists and rival studios won’t need permission to create their own take on the characters.

A sad fact of Hollywood is that while superheroes never truly die, all copyrights do. On Jan. 1, Disney lost control of “Steamboat Willie,” and within 24 hours two horror-comedies starring Mickey Mouse were announced. The DC characters are the next major expirations looming on the horizon. Superman and Lois Lane will enter the public domain in 2034, followed by Batman in 2035, the Joker in 2036 and Wonder Woman in 2037….

(13) FIREFLY ON THE CHEAP. SYFY Wire admires “How Serenity Slashed Its Budget from $100 Million to $39 Million” and was able to get greenlighted.

…In a 2005 interview with the Los Angeles Times, the effects crew and film’s creators opened up about the ways they shaved tens of millions off the film’s cost. Basically, they shot it like a TV show, creating only what was necessary and meticulously storyboarding things out so no resources were wasted.

One of the movie’s most ambitious set pieces, a wild chase scene early in the film, was projected to be one of the costliest segments in the film. So instead of trying to build out a massive CGI chase, they built a trailer with a cantilevered arm big enough to hold the on-screen hovercraft and actors. Then they just shot the scene on Templin Highway around Santa Clarita. For the Reaver vehicle chasing the crew, they hacked an old pick-up truck together with some CGI overlays for final effects. In the end, a scene expected to take 30 days was finished up in five.

To create the spaceship models in the space-set scenes, they used a common cost-cutting approach called “kit bashing,” where you combine several different ship models and kits and mix them all together to create something new. It’s a cheap alternative to full-on spaceship design, and it saved time and money for plenty of those space scenes.

They even had to rebuild the Serenity ship itself for sets, using old blueprints and DVD screen grabs for reference, a process they knocked out in a brief 14 weeks and under budget. All the explosions and pyrotechnics in the film were also done on a tight schedule, filmed across three nights at Mystery Mesa near Valencia. Traditionally, that level of sci-fi action pyro work for a blockbuster movie would’ve taken around two weeks….

(14) KLINGONS DON’T DRINK MERLOT. TrekMovie.com invites as to watch as “Paul Giamatti Auditions For Star Trek, Recreates His Iconic ‘Merlot’ Moment In Klingon”.

Danish movie journalist and friend of TrekMovie Johan Albrechtsen has once again used a non-Star Trek promotional junket to recreate a Star Trek moment. As Paul Giamatti was promoting his award-winning role in The Holdovers Albrechtsen brought up the actor’s previously expressed interest in playing a Klingon in Star Trek. And he persuaded the Giamatti to recreate his famous “I am not drinking any f###ing Merlot!” moment from the 2004 wine-themed film Sideways, but this time in Klingon. The moment was then edited to create a new Star Trek “audition tape” with Giamatti as a Klingon captain, cut into a scene from The Next Generation….

[Thanks to Andrew Porter, John King Tarpinian, Chris Barkley, Kathy Sullivan, Cat Eldridge, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Steven French, and Mike Kennedy for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Andrew (not Werdna).]

Pixel Scroll 1/1/24 All These Pixels Are Someone Else’s Fault

(1) SOME PEOPLE SHINE. Let Looper introduce you to “Stephen King’s Harry Potter: The Fan-Made Concept That’s Too Weird To Be Real”. This is quite something.

When it comes to accomplished fiction writers, you don’t get much more prodigious than Stephen King. So iconic is his work that the YouTube channel Yellow Medusa created an artificial intelligence-driven video that hypothesizes how the “Harry Potter” films would look like if King — and not J.K. Rowling — created the franchise. This is one of several videos where the channel reimagines the “Harry Potter” movies if they were directed or written by other famous creators….

(2) SFPA MEMBERS NOMINATE FOR AWARDS. The Science Fiction & Fantasy Poetry Association reminded members today of the deadlines to submit nominees for three annual awards.

RHYSLING AWARD NOMINATIONS The 2024 Rhysling Chairs are Brian U. Garrison & David C. Kopaska-Merkel. Nominations are open until February 15 for the Rhysling Awards for the best poems published in 2023. Only SFPA members may nominate one short poem and/or one long poem for the award. Poets may not nominate their own work. All genres of speculative poetry are eligible. Short poems must be 11–49 lines (101–499 words for prose poems); Long poems are 50–1,199 lines, not including title or stanza breaks, and first published in 2023; include publication and issue, or press if from a book or anthology. Online nomination form: bit.ly/2024RhyslingNom. Or nominate by mail to: SFPA, PO Box 6688, Portland OR 97228, USA.

DWARF STARS AWARD NOMINATIONS The 2024 Dwarf Stars Chair is Brittany Hause. Nominations due by May 1, but poems may be suggested year-round. Enter title, author, and publisher of speculative micro poems published in 2023 at https://bit.ly/ dwarfstars or by mail to: SFPA, PO Box 6688, Portland OR 97228, USA. Anyone may suggest poems, their own or others’; there is no limit.

ELGIN AWARD NOMINATIONS The 2024 Elgin Chair is Felicia Martínez. Nominations due by June 15; more info will come by MailChimp. Send title, author, and publisher of speculative poetry books and chapbooks published in 2022 or 2023 to [email protected] or by mail to: SFPA, PO Box 6688, Portland OR 97228, USA. Only SFPA members may nominate; there is no limit to nominations, but you may not nominate your own work. Books and chapbooks that placed 1st, 2nd or 3rd in last year’s Elgin Awards are not eligible.

(3) BE ON THE LOOKOUT. [Item by Steven French.] “Fiction to look out for in 2024” in the Guardian includes an SF novel tipped for the Booker:

…in September, there’s my early pick for this year’s Booker: Creation Lake (Jonathan Cape) by Rachel Kushner. It’s a wild and brilliantly plotted piece of science fiction. This is the story of a secret agent, the redoubtable Sadie Smith, sent to infiltrate and disrupt a group of “anti-civvers” – eco-terrorists – in a France of the near future where industrial agriculture and sinister corporations dominate the landscape. Think Kill Bill written by John le Carré: smart, funny and compulsively readable….

(4) NO MCU? REALLY? Rolling Stone calls these “The 150 Best Sci-Fi Movies of All Time”.

…So when it came time to rank the greatest sci-fi movies of all time, we couldn’t stop at 100. Instead, we went bigger and bulked it up with an extra 50 entries, all the better to pay lip service to more of the pulpy, the poppy and the perverse entries — not to mention some of our personal favorites — that don’t normally get shout-outs in these kinds of lists. There were more than a few arguments when it came to the picks. (It was also decided early on that superhero movies as a whole usually fall out the parameters of science fiction, so you won’t the MCU, et al., canon on this list — with one very notable exception.) Here are our picks for the best the genre has to offer. Live long and prosper. May the force be with you….

At the bottom:

150 ‘Tank Girl’ (1995)

What would the post-apocalyptic world look like if the hero was a riot grrrl and the soundtrack was curated by Courtney Love? Behold the adventures of Tank Girl (Lorri Petty), as our hero roams through the decimated Outback, years after a comet hit earth and an evil corporation seized control. It’s got some of the hallmarks of a traditional sci-fi adventure — a jet-flying sidekick played by Naomi Watts; an army of half-kangaroo, half-man beings, including one played by Ice-T — but Rachel Talalay’s adaptaion of the cult British comic diverges from the typical dystopia formula by layering everything over a very 1990s alt aesthetic, all bright colors and snappy, sexualized wisecracks. “No celebrities, no cable TV, no water — it hasn’t rained in 11 years,” Tank Girl explains early on in the film. “Now 20 people gotta squeeze inside the same bathtub — so it ain’t all bad.” —Elisabeth Garber-Paul

Rated number one:

1 ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’ (1968)

It begins at the Dawn of Man and ends with the rebirth of humanity, with Homo sapiens having finally been granted one last evolutionary level-up. In between those two poles of the human experience — one in our prehistoric past, the other light years into our future (hope springs eternal) — Stanley Kubrick give us what still feels like the benchmark for science fiction cinema that engages you in mind, body, and soul. It’s not just that his adaptation of Arthur C. Clarke’s short story “The Sentinel” has become part of our collective consciousness, enough that Barbie could kick off with an extended riff on one of its most famous scenes and everyone got the joke. Or that 2001 contains what may be the single best example of film editing as a communicative art form unto itself. Or that the closest the film has to an antagonist, the self-aware HAL 9000 supercomputer who discovers that machines are no more immune from neurosis and malice than its flesh-and-blood programmers are, is the character we end up feeling the most sympathy towards. “Daissss-yyyy… daisssss-yyyyy…”….

…The wisecrack was always that 2001: A Space Odyssey was exactly like the big, black monolith that connected its eon-spanning chapters: gorgeous, meticulously constructed, inhuman in its perfection and inscrutable in terms of concrete meaning. Conventional wisdom is that it’s actually closer to the Star Child — something that takes the entirety of the universe in and stares at it in awe, reflecting back how far we have come and how far we still have to go. —DF

(5) LAWYERS ASSEMBLE! We know this, but it’s a new year so let’s pretend it’s news: “Mickey Mouse Hits Public Domain With Disney’s ‘Steamboat Willie’” at Deadline.

As of today, the traditionally protective Walt Disney Co will have to deal with an onslaught of Mickey Mouse parodies, mockeries and likely rather explicit variations as the iconic character slips into the public domain.

Sorta.

In the sober light of 2024, Steamboat Willie, the 1928 short that effectively launched the empire that Walt built, can now be used by anyone and everyone. The legal status of Mickey and Minnie Mouse from Steamboat Willie and Plane Crazy, from earlier that same year, has been long fought over and probably not something to which Disney was looking forward. Yet, in a new year that also sees Virginia Woolf’s groundbreaking Orlando, Peter Pan, Charlie Chaplin’s The CircusBuster Keaton‘s The Cameraman and Tigger from AA Milne’s The House at Pooh Corner now in the public domain, if you are anticipating a Steamboat Willie free-for-all, think again.

Besides Disney being notoriously litigious, the color version of Mickey that came into being in 1935’s The Band Concert, is a lot different in 2024 than the non-speaking Mickey of Steamboat Willie in 1928. Evolving over the decades, the brand icon that is today’s Mickey has a lot more meat on his bones, is full of many more smiles, has that chirpy voice and a far less rough disposition, wears white gloves, and clearly looks a lot less a rat than the Steamboat Willie Mickey – and, to paraphrase MC Hammer: you can’t touch that.

“More modern versions of Mickey will remain unaffected by the expiration of the Steamboat Willie copyright, and Mickey will continue to play a leading role as a global ambassador for the Walt Disney Company in our storytelling, theme park attractions, and merchandise,” a Disney spokesperson said of the dos and don’ts of the sound-synched film entering the public domain today….

(6) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY.

[Written by Cat Eldridge.]

Born January 1, 1954 Midori Snyder, 70. This first novel by Midori Snyder that I read was The Flight of Michael McBride, a three decades old work by her set in the old American West blending aspects of  First Folk, Irish-American and Mexican folklore. A most excellent read. 

Like Pamela Dean with her Tam Lin novel, she’s delved in Scottish myth as her first novel, Soulstring, was inspired by the Scottish legend of Tam Lin

Midori Snyder

It was however not her first published work as that was “Demon” in the Bordertown anthology, the second of the Bordertown series.  She would later do two more Bordertown stories, “Alison Gross” that’d be in Life on the Border, and “Dragon Child” in The Essential Bordertown.

Now don’t go looking for any of these as ePubs as, like the Year’s Best Fantasy & Horror series which I noted in Ellen Datlow’s Birthday a few days ago, ePub rights weren’t written into the publication contracts. 

The newest Bordertown anthology, Welcome to Bordertown, is available as an ePub.

Next up is a trilogy of books that remind me of Jane Yolen’s The Great Altar Saga in tone  — New MoonSadar’s Keep, and Beldan’s Fire. They were published as adult fantasy by Tor Books starting thirty four years ago where they were The Queens’ Quarter Series. Interestingly they would be reprinted as young adult fantasy by Firebird Books just eighteen years ago as The Oran Trilogy. I see that Firebird is no longer the domain of Sharyn November which it was explicitly related for.

Now I positively adore The Innamorati which draws off the the Commedia dell’Arte theatre and the Roman legends as well. This stellar novel gained her Mythopoeic Fantasy Award for Adult Literature. It is without doubt her best novel – great characters, fascinating setting and a wonderful story.

Hannah’s Garden was supposed to be one of the novels inspired by a painting by Brian Froud. (I remember de Lint’s The Wild Wood and Windling’s The Wood Wife are two of the others but I forget the fourth. I know they got their novels with his art but I don’t if she or the fourth writer did.) It’s a more personal novel, more scary in tone I think than her other work is. 

Except the Queen was written by her and Yolen. It’s a contemporary fantasy featuring two fey who are banished here in the guise of old women. I’ll not spoil what happened next. That was her last novel and it was published thirteen years ago. 

She wrote the title short story for Windling The Armless Maiden and Other Tales for Childhood’s Survivors anthology anthology about child abuse survivors. Grim reading but recommended. It was nominated for an Otherwise Award.

It’s one of a not deep number of short stories she’s written, none collected so far. 

She did the text to the “Barbara Allen” graphic story Charles Vess illustrated and first published in his Ballads chapbook in 1997 which I’ve got here somewhere. Let me go see… yes, it’s also in the autographed copy of The Book of Ballads that he sent me. That came out on Tor seventeen years ago. God, time goes by fast! 

Though not about her fiction writing, she would win a World Fantasy Award for her editorial work on Windling’s Endincott Studio website. It is a fascinating site covering what Terri, Midori and others think is interesting in fairy tales, myth, folklore, and the oral storytelling tradition. It is here now.

(7) EASING A BARRIER TO CHINA TOURISM. For the next wave of fans who may be thinking about the trip: “China to simplify visa applications for US tourists as both countries seek to improve relations” at the South China Morning Post.

China will simplify the visa application process for tourists from the United States as part of its efforts to step up interactions between people from the two countries.

Beijing has also been seeking to woo more international visitors as part of its wider efforts to boost its sluggish economic recovery.

Starting from January 1, those applying for tourist visas within the US will no longer need to submit proof they have a round-trip air ticket and hotel reservation, as well as their itinerary or a letter of invitation, according to a notice published on the website of the Chinese embassy in Washington on Friday.

The measure aims to “further facilitate people-to-people exchanges between China and the United States”, it said.

It added that “since visa applications are processed on a case-by-case basis”, applicants should still refer to the Chinese embassy and consulates-general for specifics….

The move follows a cut in visa fees for US applicants of around 25 per cent until December 31, 2024 announced earlier this month, and a previous decision to allow walk-in visa applications.

(8) WHAT, ME WARP? Currently open for bids at the Heritage Auctions site is “Jack Rickard MAD #186 Star Trek Cover Original Art”. It was up to $1,950 when I last checked.

Jack Rickard MAD #186 Star Trek Cover Original Art (EC, 1976). Captain Kirk (William Shatner) and Spock (Leonard Nimoy) join Vulcan officer Alfred E. Neuman (who will likely soon meet a terrible fate, hinted at by his red shirt) tap dance their way across the cover of the parody magazine to promote the “Star Trek” Musical buried within its pages. Spock looks surprised to see Neuman sporting a pair of pointy Vulcan ears, with the adage “Keep on Trekin'” printed on his uniform. A fun poke at the beloved sci-fi TV series painted in gouache on illustration board with an image area of 16″ x 16.75″, matted and Plexiglas-front framed to 27″ x 28.5″. Light frame wear. Signed by Rickard in the lower right corner and in Excellent condition.

(9) TROLLING WITH A MAGNET. “He Has Fished Out Grenades, Bikes and Guns. Can Fame Be Far Behind?” He couldn’t make a living streaming himself playing video games – but people want to see what his powerful magnet retrieves from the waters around New York.  

… The grenade was not without precedent. Two months before, Mr. Kane managed to pull a gun out of a lake near where he lives. It might have been used in a murder, he suggested, and he was told there was a chance he might be subpoenaed. He was eager to avoid that entanglement.

On that unseasonably warm November afternoon, Mr. Kane, who is 39 and looks a bit like the actor Seth Rogen playing a deckhand, just yanked the thing right off his magnet. It took quite a bit of effort, given that the magnet (from Kratos Magnetics, for $140) was advertised as having a “pull force” of 3,800 pounds. The gunpowder had been emptied out of the bottom, so he figured the corroded explosive was something that would put him on the map, rather than blow him off it. Still, he put it on the ground and covered it with a plastic bucket — just in case.

As he dialed 911, he paused to wonder: Would the operator remember him? Was he something of a known quantity by now? Just the week before, he’d found a top-loading Smith & Wesson in Prospect Park Lake. And he’d also found a completely different grenade about a month ago, which he said led the police to evacuate a restaurant near the United Nations. But to his disappointment, that day’s dispatcher didn’t react.

“You’re gonna know Let’s Get Magnetic,” Mr. Kane told the operator, referencing the name of his YouTube channel. “I’m getting famous.”

His partner, Barbie Agostini, continued filming as the police arrived. Two beat cops who showed up took some pictures of the grenade on their phones. Meanwhile, a woman pushed a baby carriage inches away from it. More cops eventually came to cordon off the area, but the content creation did not stop there. Another officer squatted on the ground to take more close-ups. Wanting a wider-angle view of the ruckus he’d wrought, Mr. Kane moved slightly down the sidewalk and kept fishing.

It wasn’t long before a well-put-together young woman in a pinned-on hat stopped and stared as Mr. Kane pulled a hunk of junk out of the water with his magnet.

“What are you guys fishing for?” she asked.

“Anything metal,” he told her. “This is a bed frame from the 1900s.”

The woman looked astounded at this dubious bit of history.

“God bless you,” she said….

…After lunch, Mr. Kane, Ms. Agostini and Jose returned to their duplex. Mr. Kane pulled out a Styrofoam chest full of his favorite finds. They included the magazines from four guns, the barrel of a sniper rifle and two tiny cannonballs that might predate the city itself, which he plans on giving to the American Museum of Natural History.

Evidence of a collector’s lifestyle exists throughout the apartment — unopened retro video games and hand-painted Japanese anime figurines covered nearly every spare inch of wall space. Mr. Kane pulled out some tiny pieces of metal from the cooler, one in the shape of a bow and arrow, and another that looked like a ball-peen hammer.

“This is black magic,” he said. “One hundred percent.” Then came a key fob for an Audi that still lit up when he pressed a button. “This unlocks a car,” he said. “We just don’t know where the car is.” Then came his collection of iPhones, which he proudly displayed on his purple couch. All of them worked. Well, all but one. “It smokes if you turn it on,” he said. “But that’s the only problem.”…

(10) BUT IF HE TELLS – THEN WE’LL KNOW! No, content moderation is not supposed to be a big secret. “Elon Musk’s X Loses Bid To Change California Content Moderation Law” reports Deadline.

Elon Musk‘s X on Thursday has lost its bid to change a California law on content moderation disclosure by social media companies.

X sued California in September to undo the state’s content moderation law, saying it violated free speech rights under the U.S. Constitution’s First Amendment and California’s state constitution.

Today, U.S. District Judge William Shubb dismissed the social media company’s request in an eight-page decision .

The law requires large social media companies to issue semiannual reports that describe their content moderation practices. They must also provide data on the number of objectionable posts and how they were addressed.

“While the reporting requirement does appear to place a substantial compliance burden on social medial companies, it does not appear that the requirement is unjustified or unduly burdensome within the context of First Amendment law,” Shubb wrote.

X did not immediately respond. The company’s content moderation policies have long been contentious, dating to before Musk bought the company.

(11) ANOTHER INKLING NAMED LEWIS. This postcard ad for The Major and the Missionary edited by Diana Pavlac Glyer caught my eye and reminded me to kick off the new year by mentioning this collection of letters of interest to Inklings fans.

After the death of his brother, Warren Lewis lived at The Kilns in Oxford, spent time with friends, edited his famous brother’s letters, and did a little writing of his own. Then, out of the blue, he got a letter from a stranger on the far side of the world. Over the years that followed, he and Blanche Biggs, a missionary in Papua New Guinea, shared a vibrant correspondence. These conversations encompassed their views on faith, their politics, their humor, the legacy of C. S. Lewis, and their own trials and longings.

Taken as a whole, these collected letters paint a colorful portrait that illuminates not only the particulars of distant times and places but the intimate contours of a rare friendship.

Edited and introduced by Bandersnatch author Diana Pavlac Glyer.

[Thanks to Steven French, Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, Scott Edelman, Mark Roth-Whitworth, John King Tarpinian, Chris Barkley, Cat Eldridge, and SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Peer.]