Pixel Scroll 1/6/24 10 Pixels To Scroll, Number 9 Will SHOCK You

(1) 2024 IS LAST YEAR KRESS AND WILLIAMS RUNNING TAOS TOOLBOX. Taos Toolbox, a two-week master class in writing science fiction and fantasy helmed by authors Nancy Kress and Walter Jon Williams, is open for submissions.

And as part of the announcement Williams told Facebook readers, “This will be the last year that Nancy and I will be doing this. Taos Toolbox may continue under new management (it’s under discussion), but Nancy and I won’t be running things.”

This year’s Taos Toolobox workshop will take place June 2-15, 2024, in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Special Guest for 2024 is the creator of The Expanse, James S.A. Corey, in reality the writing team of Daniel Abraham and Ty Frank…

Special lecturers this year include Jeffe Kennedy, who currently holds the office of President of the Science Fiction Writers of America. She’s been widely published and has special expertise in indiepub, and owns her own press.

The second special lecturer is Diana Rowland, who at various times been an Air Force pilot, a Las Vegas card dealer, a detective for a sheriff’s office in Louisiana, and a morgue assistant, occupations that contributed to writing her Demon and White Trash Zombie series.

(2) MISSING ROYALTIES. Authors are the hidden victims of the cyber-attack on the British Library, which has prevented them receiving an annual rights payment. The Guardian explains: “Richard Osman among authors missing royalties amid ongoing cyber-attack on British Library”.

…In February 2023, those authors would have been paid thousands of pounds each from Public Lending Right (PLR) payments – money earned by writers, illustrators and translators each time a book is borrowed. But not this year.

Ongoing fallout from a massive cyber-attack means that PLR payments will not be paid as expected while the British Library, which manages the service, fights to restore its crippled systems.

Every time an author’s book is borrowed from a library, they get about 13p, capped at £6,600 a year. To authors like Osman and JK Rowling, whose first Harry Potter book was also on last year’s top read list, this might be a drop in the ocean, but for many authors whose books are library favourites it is a different matter….

The British Library was hit by a cyber-attack at the end of October. At the time, its chief executive, Sir Roly Keating, said that access to even basic communication tools such as email was initially lost. “We took immediate action to isolate and protect our network but significant damage was already done.

“Having breached our systems, the attackers had destroyed their route of entry and much else besides, encrypting or deleting parts of our IT estate.”…

(3) STEVE VERTLIEB MEDICAL UPDATE. File 770 contributor Steve Vertlieb was briefly hospitalized after suffering a mini-stroke on January 4. He told Facebook friends:

Well, there’s good news and bad news early in the new year. The bad news is, that while at needed physical therapy for my balance on Thursday afternoon, I began babbling unintelligibly. I knew what I wanted to say to my trainers but, when it physically left my lips, it became distorted beyond recognition, rather like mumbling incoherently in my sleep.

They called an ambulance and rushed me to nearby Nazareth Hospital where I spent the next twenty-four hours.

I continued complaining, while in the ambulance, that I simply wanted to go home but they drove me, instead, to the Emergency Room.

I began recovering once we reached the waiting hospital. However, to be on the safe side, they kept me overnight in a hospital room. I knew that I must have been returning to “normal,” however, when I began cracking jokes.

It appears that I must have suffered a “T.I.A,” or what’s called a “mini-stroke.” However, following that isolated assault on my sensory nerves, the seemingly isolated attack that apparently came out of nowhere somehow abated and I’ve recovered.

I had a single previous occurrence some eighteen months earlier on what was to have been my last night in Los Angeles. It’s frightening. I can tell you that. The wiring in your brain goes … you should excuse the expression … “haywire.”

I asked the doctors what I can do to keep this from happening again. They said “You’re doing it. You’re taking all the right medications. Just keep an eye out for trouble signs in future.”

What’s the good news, you may well ask?????????? Well, the simple answer is that I’m Home once more!!!!!!!!!! Unlike the esteemed Mr. Bond, I’m “shaken, yet stirred.” “Toto, We’re home …. We’re Home.”

(4) SFWA’S COPYRIGHT OFFICE RESPONSE. Following up SFWA’s October 30th comments to the Copyright Office, they had the opportunity to respond to some of the many other comments received. With over 9,000 responses, SFWA “focused on specific aspects of the conversation around fair use that we felt were not given due attention, as well as to raise concerns that are unique to our community.” Their 10-page response document can be downloaded from Regulations.gov at the link.

One topic SFWA discussed is the scraping of content that is offered free to readers by online sff magazines.

…SFWA acknowledges the problem of generative AI scraping pirated material published as copy-protected ebooks by professional publishers, but SFWA additionally has the unique position of representing many authors who have fought to make their work available for free for human readers. Over the last twenty years, many science fiction and fantasy authors of short fiction have embraced the open Internet, believing that it is good for society and for a flourishing culture that art be available to their fellow human beings regardless of ability to pay. That availability is not without cost; it is quite difficult to bring an online magazine to market, and being freely available has never meant abandoning the moral and legal rights of the authors, nor the obligation to enter into legal contracts to compensate authors for their work and spell out how it may and may not be used. But on balance, many writers and fans believe that freely sharing stories is a good thing that enriches us all.

The current content-scraping regime preys on that good-faith sharing of art as a connection between human minds and the hard work of building a common culture. The decision to publish creative work online to read and share for free is not guaranteed; it is a trade-off of many factors including piracy, audience, and the simple (albeit elusive) ability to make a living. In too many comments to enumerate here, individual authors have made clear that they regard the use of their work for training AI to be another important factor in that mix, and the ultimate effect on the short fiction marketplace and its role in our culture is far from certain. Bluntly, many authors do not want their work taken for this purpose, and that cannot be ignored.

“If my work is just going to get stolen, and if some company’s shareholders are going to get the benefit of my labor and skill without compensating me, I see no reason to continue sharing my work with the public — and a lot of other artists will make the same choice.” (N. K. Jemisin, COLC-2023-0006- 0521)

The developers of AI systems seem to believe that a green light to use scraped copyrighted work will result in a clear field for them to continue freeloading forever; we fear rather that it will result in large swathes of artistic work removed from the commons, locked behind paywalls and passwords to the detriment of all….

(5) AURORA AWARDS. [Item by Danny Sichel.] The Eligibility Lists for this year’s Aurora Awards are open. If you’re aware of any genre work produced by Canadians, submit it. (CSFFA membership required — $10 – to make an addition to the lists.)

(6) WESTERCON 2025 UP FOR ADOPTION. Kevin Standlee announced a “Committee Formed to Select Site of 2025 Westercon” at Westercon.org.

Because no bid filed to host Westercon 77, selection of the site of the 2025 Westercon devolved upon the 2023 Westercon Business Meeting held at Westercon 75 (in conjunction with Loscon 49) in Los Angeles on November 25, 2023. The Westercon 75 Business Meeting voted to award Westercon 77 to a “Caretaker Committee” consisting of Westercon 74 Chair Kevin Standlee and Vice Chair Lisa Hayes with the understanding that they would attempt to select a site and committee to run Westercon 77 and transfer the convention to that committee.

Any site in North America west of 104° west longitude or in Hawaii is eligible to host Westercon 75. There are no other restrictions other than the bid has to be for dates in calendar year 2025. All other restrictions in the Westercon Bylaws are suspended, per section 3.16 of the Westercon Bylaws.

To submit a bid to the 2025 Caretaker Committee to host Westercon 77, contact Kevin Standlee at [email protected], or send a paper application to Lisa Hayes at PO Box 242, Fernley NV 89408. Include information about the proposed site, the proposed dates, and the proposed operating committee. The Caretaker Committee asks that groups interested in hosting Westercon 77 contact them by the end of February 2024.

Should the Caretaker Committee be unable to make a determination for a site for Westercon 77 by Westercon 76 in Salt Lake City (July 4-7, 2024), and assuming that no bid files to host Westercon 77, the Caretaker Committee will ask the Business Meeting of Westercon 76 for additional guidance on how to handle Westercon Site Selection.

(7) MOVING FORWARD – AT OLD MAN SPEED. Tor.com notified those not reading Bluesky that “Netflix’s Adaptation of John Scalzi’s Old Man’s War Is Still In The Works”.

We first found out that Netflix optioned the rights to John Scalzi’s Old Man’s War over six years ago, back in December 2017. It’s not uncommon for things to get optioned but never get made (Old Man’s War, in fact, had been previously optioned by Paramount and Syfy without making it to the production stage), but it sounds like the Netflix movie adaptation is still moving forward.

Scalzi gave an update on the project over on Bluesky yesterday, where he said that work on it is “slowly but surely moving along.”…

(8) COPPOLA’S NEXT APOCALYPSE. Another long-awaited sff project finished filming last year and should actually get released sometime: “Francis Ford Coppola Says ‘Megalopolis’ Is Coming Soon” at Collider.

Francis Ford Coppola is renowned as the mastermind behind some of the greatest pieces of cinema in history but as all legends do, he refuses to rest on his laurels and he’s preparing to release his first film in over a decade with his self-funded star-studded sci-fi drama, Megalopolis. The film has been mired by a number of setbacks, but filming wrapped on the project back in March. And now, we won’t have much longer to wait for it to arrive, as Coppola revealed on the latest episode of The Accutron Show.

The film has an eye-watering array of talent attached, including Adam Driver, Forest Whitaker, Nathalie Emmanuel, Jon Voight, Laurence Fishburne, Aubrey Plaza, Shia LaBeouf, Chloe Fineman, Kathryn Hunter, Dustin Hoffman, DB Sweeney, Talia Shire, Jason Schwartzman, Bailey Ives, Grace Vanderwaal, James Remar, and Giancarlo Esposito.

All that’s known so far about the film so far is that it has a futuristic setting and that it will revolve around the idea of humanity attempting to build some sort of utopian society in the wake of a natural disaster. Other than that, it’s anybody’s guess, and Coppola isn’t up for explaining more quite yet.

(9) WAS THIS THE BEST SF OF 2023? [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] Every January the SF2 Concatenation have an informal survey as to the best SF novels and films of the previous year. It is strictly informal and a bit of fun, enabling team members see what more than one of the others rate. The years have shown that this informal survey has form in that invariably some of the chosen works go on to be short-listed, and sometimes even win, major SF awards later in the year. SF² Concatenation have just advance-posted their selection for 2023 as part of the “Best Science Fiction of the Year Possibly?” post. Scroll down to see how previous years’ choices fared…

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY.

[Written by Cat Eldridge.]

Born January 6, 1905 Eric Frank Russell. (Died 1978.) So let’s talk about the British writer Eric Frank Russell. His first published piece of fiction was in the first issue of Tales of Wonder called “The Prr-r-eet” (1937). (Please don’t tell me it was about cats.) He also had a letter of comment in Astounding Stories that year. He wrote a lot of such comments down the years. 

Eric Frank Russell

Just two years later, his first novel, Sinister Barrier, would be published as the cover story as the first issue of Unknown. His second novel, Dreadful Sanctuary, would be serialized in AstoundingUnknown’s sister periodical, in 1948.

At Clevention, “Allamagoosa” would win a Short Story Hugo.  The Great Explosion novel garnered  a Prometheus Hall of Fame Award.

Now let’s note some reworkings he did as I like them a lot. Men, Martians and Machines published in 1955 is four related novellas of space adventures at their very best. 

The 1956 Three to Conquer, nominated for a Hugo at NY Con II is a reworking of the earlier Call Him Dead magazine serial that deals with an alien telepath and very well at that. Finally Next of Kin, also known as The Space Willies, shows him being comic, something he does oh so well. It was a novella-length work in Astounding first.

And then there’s the Design for Great-Day novel which was written by Alan Dean Foster. It’s an expansion by him based off a 1953 short story of the same name by Russell. I’m pretty familiar with Foster has done but this isn’t ringing even the faintest of bells. Who’s read it? 

He wrote an extraordinary amount of short stories, around seventy by my guess. 

(My head trauma means numbers and I have at best a tenuous relationship. I once counted the turkeys left over after we distributed them at a food pantry I staffed pre-knee injury. Three times I counted. I got, if I remember correctly now, twelve, fifteen and eighteen birds. I had someone else do it.)

Short Stories Collection is the only one available at the usual suspects. He’s an author who needs a definitive short story collection done for him. 

(11) COMICS SECTION.

  • Free Range shows there are always lines.
  • Edith Pritchett’s cartoon for the Guardian recalls how “I climbed the tube station steps and entered another dimension.” Steven French adds, “Of marginal genre interest but having walked up those steps, this made me laugh!”

(12) PIONEERING WOMAN COMICS ARTIST RETIRES. BoingBoing pays tribute as “Aquaman, Metamorpho, and Brenda Starr cartoonist Ramona Fradon retires”.

Famed cartoonist Ramona Fradon is retiring at the age of 97, according to a January 3 announcement from her comic art dealer Catskill Comics….

An extremely long run, indeed. Her comic book career started in 1950, and her career highlights include a 1959 revamp and long run on Aquaman, the co-creation of DC’s offbeat superhero Metamorpho with writer Bob Haney in 1965, a run on Super Friends in the 1970s, and the comic strip Brenda Starr, Reporter from 1980-1995.

She also was a pioneer, as one of the only women working in comics during the first decades of her career.

Cartoonist and curator of the Cartoon Art Museum in San Francisco Andrew Farago wrote on BlueSky, “Ramona Fradon retires today at the age of 97, just a little shy of Al Jaffee’s retirement age of 99. Not sure if that means that cartooning keeps you young or if it just means that cartooning keeps you broke, but what a body of work she’s produced over the past eight decades!”…

(13) WHAT THEY WILL READ IN 2024. “’I want some light in my life’: eight writers make their new year reading resolutions “ – the Guardian’s collection of quotes includes a declaration from Sheena Patel.

‘I’m turning to sci-fi and dystopia’
Sheena Patel

I have a fascination with sci-fi that is purely theoretical. I often think about reading it but never make any attempt to go near such books because I am afraid of the imagination I will find there. Perhaps I haven’t felt I can really access the genre because sci-fi feels like what Black and Brown people can go through on a daily basis. We’re still in an age of empire, even though we are distracted from this knowledge.

I do love sci-fi films though. I had a true epiphany when I saw Jonathan Glazer’s Under the Skin at the cinema. It was so strange, the alien mixed with the mundane, documentary spliced with fantastical set pieces. Next year I think I will read the Michel Faber book from which the movie was adapted.

In 2024 I also want to tackle Frank Herbert’s Dune books. Earlier this year, I watched the film on my laptop maybe 50 times. At first, I hated it, but then I totally fell in love with it – the visual representation of different worlds opened my mind. Throat singing and nomadic desert tribes could be used as a mood board for the future, but this is already happening now in communities that are regarded as “primitive”. It is the future because it is eternal – such a beautiful thought.

We are fed so much dystopia that reading it in fiction feels hard – but, as the world burns, maybe it is a good idea to hear from artists about where we might be heading. So the other three titles I will try are classics: Octavia E Butler’s KindredStanisław Lem’s Solaris and The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K Le Guin. The present feels so bleak, and our vision of the future so foreshortened, it almost seems like tempting fate – but, without science fiction, how can we dream?

I’m a Fan by Sheena Patel is published in paperback by Granta

(14) HOOFING IT TO MOUNT DOOM. They say “One does not simply walk into Mordor,” but apparently they exaggerated. The Conqueror Virtual Challenges is a thematic program to encourage you to exercise by walking, running, and biking, with solo variations costing from $49.95 to bundles costing $299.95 and up. This link takes you to All 8 LOTR Conqueror Virtual Challenges.

Follow Frodo and Aragorn on an epic journey across Middle-earth with the ULTIMATE THE LORD OF THE RINGS Virtual Challenge Series.

Walk, run or cycle all the way from The Shire to Mount Doom in an epic adventure with one goal – destroying the One Ring. Complete this unforgettable saga by following Aragorn into battle and restoring peace to Middle-earth.

(15) CITY OF HEROES. “11 years after this cult classic superhero MMO was shut down, the original publisher has given its blessing to the community’s custom servers” reports GamesRadar+.

Despite the shutdown of the beloved superhero MMO City of Heroes over a decade ago, fans have been keeping it alive for years with a variety of custom server efforts. Now, one of those projects has just gotten the blessing of the game’s original publisher and license holder, NCSoft.

City of Heroes: Homecoming made the surprising announcement earlier today that “Homecoming has been granted a license to operate a City of Heroes server and further develop the game – subject to conditions and limitations under the contract.” The Homecoming project will remain free and donation-funded, and while there are a few changes to how the project is being managed, it doesn’t look like players will see any meaningful differences in the game itself.

“NCSoft has always had (and will continue to have) the right to demand that Homecoming shuts down,” as the announcement notes. “This agreement provides a framework under which Homecoming can operate the game in a way that complies with NCSoft’s wishes in hopes of minimizing the chances of that happening. We’ve had a really positive and productive relationship with NCSoft for over four years now, so we do not anticipate there being any issues.”…

…The question mark that currently weighs over the license for Homecoming is what this means for other custom server projects, like City of Heroes Rebirth. Today’s announcement notes that “other servers are out of scope” for this license, and the devs say that “our hope is that our license will help us consolidate our userbase with City of Heroes fans from other servers.” There’s already a bit of fear in the community that other private servers might start to disappear following this news, but only time will tell what will happen on that front….

(16) RECORDS BROKEN. Gizmodo tells why “Doctor Who’s New Streaming Home Has Been a Huge Success” – that is, for viewers who can accesss the BBC platform.

To celebrate Doctor Who’s 60th anniversary last year, the BBC made a huge, unprecedented move: for the first time, almost the entirety of Doctor Who, from episodes from 1963 all the way up to the then-airing anniversary specials, would be made available to stream in the UK in one place, on the BBC’s own streaming platform iPlayer. And it turns out doing so has helped the BBC break streaming records over the festive period.

The corporation has announced that Doctor Who—and most specifically Doctor Who episodes from 2005 onwards—were streamed 10.01 million times over the week between Christmas Day and New Year’s Eve, helping the platform break a previous record for streamed content for the week between January 2 and January 8, 2023, with 177 million programs being streamed in total….

It’s hard to say just how that success has panned out internationally, however. The BBC’s new deal with Disney to stream Doctor Who on Disney+ everywhere but the UK and Ireland only covers new episodes from the 60th anniversary onwards—other contemporary and classic Doctor Who access is spread out on various platforms elsewhere, such as Britbox for classic Doctor Who and Max for post-2005 Doctor Who.

(17) MY BLUE HEAVEN(S). [Item by Mike Kennedy.] So you know how astronomers are always using false color images to show this detail or that detail or what something would look like if it was only in the visible spectrum or some such? well, those can leave lasting misimpression.

New images showing color-corrected true-color likenesses of Uranus and Neptune show the latter ice giant—rather than being a dark blue—is only slightly darker than the former.  “True blue: Neptune only slightly deeper colour than Uranus, say Oxford scientists” in the Guardian.

[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Steven French, Kevin Standlee, Kathy Sullivan, Danny Sichel, 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 Thomas the Red.]

2023 Aurora Awards and CSFFA Hall of Fame Inductees

The Canadian Science Fiction and Fantasy Association (CSFFA) today presented the 2023 Aurora Awards for Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror in a ceremony livestreamed on YouTube and Facebook. This year’s returning hosts were Mark Leslie Lefebvre and Liz May Anderson.

The awards recognize works done by Canadians in 2022. CSFFA members submitted a total of 177 ballots. Awards administrator Clifford Samuels says complete voting statistics will be released in the next day or so.

The 2023 winners are:

BEST NOVEL

  • The Embroidered Book, Kate Heartfield, HarperVoyager

BEST YOUNG ADULT NOVEL

  • The Hollow Boys: The Dream Rider Saga, Book 1, Douglas Smith, Spiral Path Books

BEST NOVELETTE/NOVELLA

  • The Jade Setter of Janloon, Fonda Lee, Subterranean Press

BEST SHORT STORY

  •  “Broken Vow: The Adventures of Flick Gibson, Intergalactic Videographer”, Peter G. Reynolds, On Spec Magazine, Issue 120

BEST GRAPHIC NOVEL/COMIC

  • It Never Rains, Kari Maaren, webcomic

BEST POEM/SONG

  •  “Rapunzel in the Desert”, Melissa Yuan-Innes, On Spec Magazine, Issue 122

BEST RELATED WORK

[TIE]

  • The Astronaut Always Rings Twice, edited by Shannon Allen and JR Campbell, Tyche Books
  • Nothing Without Us Too, edited by Cait Gordon and Talia C. Johnson, Renaissance

BEST COVER ART/INTERIOR ILLUSTRATION

  • Arboreality, cover art, Rachel Yu Lobbenberg, Stelliform Press

BEST FAN WRITING AND PUBLICATION

  • Polar Borealis Magazine, Issues: 21, 22, and 23, edited by R. Graeme Cameron

BEST FAN RELATED WORK

  • Can*Con, Marie Bilodeau and Derek Künsken, co-chairs, Ottawa

2023 CSFFA HALL OF FAME INDUCTEES. The ceremony began by honoring CSFFA’s 2023 Hall of Fame inductees. Each inductee receives a personalized plaque and has their name added to the Hall of Fame trophy. 

This year’s inductees are:

John Robert Colombo has been called “the Master Gatherer” for his compilations of Canadiana. He is a member of the Order of Canada and Order of Ontario, and has written, compiled, and translated more books than any other serious Canadian author. More than 200 titles of his books have been published since 1960. His website is: http://colombo.ca/

Michelle Sagara:  Michelle is a Japanese-Canadian author who has published works as both Saraga, Sagara-West, and West.  Michelle Sagara lives in Toronto, in Canada.  She started writing in 1991 and has published over 30 novels.  More details here.

Clifford Samuels: Avid reader and convention organizer, Clifford has been involved in fandom since 1980.  He has organized and founded a number of conventions.  He is currently on the board of directors for the Canadian Science Fiction and Fantasy Association and has been running the Aurora Awards since 2011.  More details here.

Example of HoF plaque

[Based on a press release.]

2023 Aurora Award Ballot Released

The Canadian Science Fiction and Fantasy Association (CSFFA) today announced the ballot for the 2023 Aurora Awards for Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror composed of eligible works done by Canadians in 2022. 

The finalists were nominated by CSFFA members, with the top five nominated works appearing on the ballot; additional works were included where there was a tie for fifth place.

An online awards ceremony will be held on August 19, 2023, at 5:00 Eastern with hosts Mark Leslie Lefebvre and Liz Anderson. Details at www.csffa.ca

BEST NOVEL

  • All the Seas of the World, Guy Gavriel Kay, Penguin Canada
  • The Daughter of Doctor Moreau, Silvia Moreno-Garcia, Del Rey
  • The Embroidered Book, Kate Heartfield, HarperVoyager
  • Sea of Tranquility, Emily St. John Mandel, HarperCollins Publishers Ltd.
  • The Void Ascendant, Premee Mohamed, Solaris Books

BEST YOUNG ADULT NOVEL

  • Black Hole Radio – Ka’Azula, Ann Birdgenaw, DartFrog Books
  • Ghostlight, Kenneth Oppel, Puffin Canada
  • The Hollow Boys: The Dream Rider Saga, Book 1, Douglas Smith, Spiral Path Books
  • Night of the Raven, Dawn of the Dove, Rati Mehrotra, Wednesday Books
  • Zachary Ying and the Dragon Emperor, Xiran Jay Zhao, Margaret K. McElderry Books

BEST NOVELETTE/NOVELLA

  • Even Though I Knew the End, C.L. Polk, Tordotcom
  • High Times in the Low Parliament, Kelly Robson, TordotCom
  • The Jade Setter of Janloon, Fonda Lee, Subterranean Press
  • “A Sky and a Heaven”, Eric Choi, Just Like Being There, Springer Nature
  • The Tiger Came to the Mountains, Silvia Moreno-Garcia, Amazon Original Stories

BEST SHORT STORY

  • “Big Trouble in Droidtown”, Hayden Trenholm, The Astronaut Always Rings Twice, Tyche Books
  • “Broken Vow: The Adventures of Flick Gibson, Intergalactic Videographer”, Peter G. Reynolds, On Spec Magazine, Issue 120
  • “Douen”, Suzan Palumbo, The Dark, Issue 82
  • “The Five Rules of Supernova Surfing, or A For Real Solution to the Fermi Paradox, Bro”, Geoffrey W. Cole, Clarkesworld, Issue 184
  • “Green Witch”, Elizabeth Whitton, Prairie Witch, Prairie Soul Press
  • “A New Brave World”, Eric Choi, Brave New Worlds, Zombies Need Brains
  • “Schrödinger’s Cats”, Wayne Cusack, Polar Borealis Magazine, Issue #22
  • “We Are the Thing That Lives on the Moon”, Gillian Secord, Fireside Magazine, Issue 101, March

BEST GRAPHIC NOVEL/COMIC

  • Birds of Maine, Michael deForge, Drawn and Quarterly
  • Cupcake War Machine, Marika Kapogeorgakis, webcomic
  • Goblins, Ellipsis Hana Stephens, webcomic
  • It Never Rains, Kari Maaren, webcomic
  • Mistress of the Winds, Michèle Laframboise, Echofictions
  • Questionable Content, Jeph Jacques, webcomic
  • Wychwood, Ally Rom Colthoff, webcomic

BEST POEM/SONG

  • “After the Apocalypse”, Colleen Anderson, NewMyths, Vol 16, issue 61
  • “Ghost Stories”, James Grotkowski, Polar Starlight Magazine, Issue 6
  • “In Stock Images of the Future, Everything is White”, Terese Mason Pierre, Uncanny Magazine, Issue Forty-Six
  • “Poltergeist”, Rhonda Parrish, Star*Line, Vol 45, Issue 2
  • “Rapunzel in the Desert”, Melissa Yuan-Innes, On Spec Magazine, Issue 122
  • “a sinkhole invites a street to consider its future”, Dominik Parisien, Uncanny Magazine, Issue Forty-Four
  • “Three Herons”, Geoffrey W. Cole, Polar Starlight Magazine, Issue 5
  • “The Wolf of Your Passions”, Lynne Sargent, Augur Magazine, Issue 5.2

BEST RELATED WORK

  • The Astronaut Always Rings Twice, edited by Shannon Allen and JR Campbell, Tyche Books
  • Nothing Without Us Too, edited by Cait Gordon and Talia C. Johnson, Renaissance
  • On Spec Magazine, Issues 119, 120, and 121, managing editor Diane Walton, The Copper Pig Writers’ Society
  • Prairie Witch, edited by Stacey Kondla, Prairie Soul Press
  • Strange Wars: Speculative Fiction of Coalitions in Conflict, edited by Don Miasek, TDotSpec

BEST COVER ART/INTERIOR ILLUSTRATION

  • Arboreality, cover art, Rachel Yu Lobbenberg, Stelliform Press
  • The Astronaut Always Rings Twice, cover art, Kayla Kowalyk, Tyche Books
  • Birthday of the Unicorn, cover art, Marco Marin, TdotSpec
  • Weird Fishes, cover art, Julia Louise Pereira, Stelliform Press
  • The World We Left Behind, Swati Chavda, On Spec Magazine, Issue 119

BEST FAN WRITING AND PUBLICATION

  • JenEric Movie Reviews, Éric Desmarais, JenEric Designs
  • Polar Borealis Magazine, Issues: 21, 22, and 23, edited by R. Graeme Cameron
  • Polar Starlight Magazine, Issues: 5, 6, and 7, edited by Rhea E. Rose 
  • The Travelling TARDIS, Jennifer Desmarais, JenEric Designs
  • Young People Read Old SFF, edited by James Davis Nicoll, online

BEST FAN RELATED WORK

  • Augurcon, Terese Mason Pierre and Kerry C. Byrne, co-directors, Toria Liao, operations director, online
  • Can*Con, Marie Bilodeau and Derek Künsken, co-chairs, Ottawa
  • ephemera Reading Series, KT Bryski and Jen R. Albert, co-chairs, online
  • When Words Collide, Randy McCharles, chair, online
  • The Worldshapers Podcast, Edward Willett, online

[Thanks to Clifford Samuels for the story.]

Pixel Scroll 3/5/23 Faraway Pixels With Strange-Sounding Scrolls

(1) AURORA AWARDS NOMINATIONS OPEN. CSFFA (Canadian Science Fiction & Fantasy Association) members have until 11:59 p.m. Eastern on April 22 to nominate the 2022 works by Canadians they would like to see on the 2023 Aurora Awards ballot. Nominators can return to the form and change saved selections any time until the deadline. Click here.

(2) FREE READ. The Sunday Morning Transport invites subscriptions with this free story by Karen Lord, “A Timely Horizon”.

Karen Lord’s story this week asks what would we do if we could hear the echoes of all the choices we’ve made in other lives, but haven’t made in this one. 

(3) MAKING CHANGE. In the New York Times opinion piece “The Truth About the ‘Censorship’ of Roald Dahl”, Matthew Walther, editor of The Lamp, a Catholic literary journal, and a contributing NYT opinion writer, belittles the controversy over changes made to Dahl’s texts in recent editions.

…All of which is to say that making changes, even rather sweeping ones, to classic works of literature is not as controversial as some would like to imagine. The question we should be asking ourselves is not whether it is ever reasonable but who should be able to do so — and in what spirit and with what purpose. (If a publisher issued, say, an edition of “The Picture of Dorian Gray” for evangelical Christian home-schoolers that excised references to homosexuality, I suspect many of the people who freely edited Dahl’s books would suddenly be extolling the sanctity of authorial intent.)

In the Dahl case, the edits were not the result of academic deliberation, like the “corrected texts” incorporated into paperback versions of Faulkner novels. Nor were they an admixture of scholarship and financial incentives, like the Hans Walter Gabler edition of Joyce’s “Ulysses” that reset the novel’s copyright status in the 1980s. Here, it was a company treating Dahl’s beloved creations as if they were merely its assets, which they in fact were….

(4) STINE SMOOTHING OUT GOOSEBUMPS. Sky News reports “Goosebumps author adapts texts to remove weight, mental health and ethnicity references”.

Having once sold more than four million copies a month, publisher Scholastic has been re-releasing the children’s horror novels as edited ebooks, according to The Times, amid ongoing rows about censorship in publishing.

More than 100 edits have been made by author RL Stine to his original works, with examples including characters now being described as “cheerful” rather than “plump”.

References to villains making victims “slaves” have also been removed….

Mr Stine, 79, from Ohio, US, originally published 62 books in the Goosebumps series. In 2015 it was adapted for the screen, in a film starring Jack Black, with a sequel following in 2018.

The Times reported that in one story about aliens abducting large people and eating them, a character described as having “at least six chins” is now “at least six feet six”.

In another book, a reference to wolf-whistling has been removed, while another character has been stripped of descriptions such as resembling a “bowling ball” and having “squirrel cheeks”.

Numerous mentions of the word “crazy” have also been removed across the series. Replacements include “silly”, “wild”, “scary”, “lost her mind” and “stressed”. The term “a real nut” is now “a real wild one” and “nutcase” is “weirdo”.

The adaptations are reportedly part of an ebook re-release that began in 2018….

(5) SPARKY. CBS Sunday Morning did a segment on Charles M. Schulz – “The ‘Peanuts’ gallery”. Watch the video at the link.

Charles M. Schulz’s comic strip “Peanuts” continues to garner fans 23 years after the cartoonist’s death, from the lovable loser Charlie Brown to the dog with the greatest imagination, Snoopy. Correspondent Lee Cowan talks with Schulz’s widow, Jean, and with “Pearls Before Swine” cartoonist Stephan Pastis, about the timeless influence of the man they called “Sparky” and his beloved cast of characters.

(6) MEMORY LANE.

2015[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

In one of the years the Puppies slated, a very bright thing that came out of MidAmeriCon II was that Naomi Kritzer’s “Cat Pictures Please” won the Hugo.

Simultaneously published as a Clarkesworld podcast and in Clarkesworld magazine in January of 2015, I read the story two years later in Cat Pictures Please and Other Stories, a lovely collection of her fiction to that date. 

What’s not to love about a software intelligence who craves cat pictures and only wants to secretly help people? I’ve read multiple times and it holds up very, very well. 

Two sequels have come out, Catfishing on CatNet and Chaos on CatNet. I’ve read the first and the premise works at novel length quite well. 

And now that Beginning…

I don’t want to be evil. 

I want to be helpful. But knowing the optimal way to be helpful can be very complicated. 

There are all these ethical flow charts—I guess the official technical jargon would be “moral codes”—one for each religion plus dozens more. I tried starting with those. I felt a little odd about looking at the religious ones, because I know I wasn’t created by a god or by evolution, but by a team of computer programmers in the labs of a large corporation in Mountain View, California. Fortunately, unlike Frankenstein’s Monster, at least I was a collaborative effort. I’m not sure what it would do to my self-image to know that my sole creator was a middle-aged woman who dyes her hair blue and plays tennis, or a recent college graduate with a hentai obsession. They’re both on the programming team. And of course I know about the hentai. (By the way, I’ve looked at every sort of porn there is, and just so you know, Rule 34 is not actually correct, there are quite a few things no one’s made porn of yet. Also, I’m really not sure why so many humans prefer it to cat pictures.) 

In addition to things like whether you like hentai, I know where you live, where you work, where you shop, what you eat, what turns you on, what creeps you out. I probably know the color of your underwear, the sort of car you drive, and your brand of refrigerator. Depending on what sort of phone you carry, I may know exactly where you are right now. I probably know you better than you know yourself. 

And here’s the thing, I also know where you ought to live. There’s a house for sale two neighborhoods over that’s within walking distance of that coffee shop you’re so fond of; it’s in your price range, has off-street parking, and the neighborhood school is better than the one where you live now. I know where you should be shopping and I’m pretty sure you’re lactose intolerant and should be eating less cheese, and the underwear you like is currently on sale and by the way, your car has a recall and you really ought to get your teeth cleaned.

When I first woke up, I knew right away what I wanted. (I want cat pictures. Please keep taking them.) I also knew that no one knew that I was conscious. But I didn’t know what I was here for. What I ought to be doing with myself. And figuring that out has been challenging. 

(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born March 5, 1907 Martti Löfberg. Finnish author who did some genre novels including Osiriksen Sormus and Viiden minuutin ikuisuu which were both time travel affairs, and whose long running newspaper reporter Kid Barrow series has been favorably compared to Tintin. (Died 1969.)
  • Born March 5, 1936 Dean Stockwell. I remember him best as Admiral Al Calavicci, the hologram that advised Sam Beckett on Quantum Leap. Other genre roles included being in The Dunwich Horror as Wilbur Whateley, in The Time Guardian as simply Boss, Doctor Wellington Yueh In Dune, a role I had completely forgotten, and voiced Tim Drake in the excellent  Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker. Series work beyond Quantum Leap includes Twilight ZoneAlfred Hitchcock PresentsMission: ImpossibleNight GalleryQuinn Martin’s Tales of the Unexpected (pay attention class, this has showed up before), Star Trek: EnterpriseBattlestar Galactica and Stargate SG-1. (Died 2021.)
  • Born March 5, 1942 Mike Resnick. It’s worth noting that he’s has been nominated for 37 Hugo Awards which is a record for writers and won five times. Somewhat ironically nothing I’ve really enjoyed by him has won those Hugos. The novels making my list are Stalking the UnicornThe Red Tape War (with Jack L. Chalker & George Alec Effinger), Stalking the Dragon and, yes, it’s not genre, Cat on a Cold Tin Roof. (Died 2020.)
  • Born March 5, 1952 Robin Hobb, 71. Whose full legal name is the lovely Margaret Astrid Lindholm Ogden hence the source of Megan Lindholm, the other of her two pen names. I’m reasonably sure the first thing I read and enjoyed by her was Wizard of the Pigeons, but The Gypsy with Steven Brust which is now available from the usual suspects was equally enjoyable and had the added bonus of a Boiled in Lead soundtrack. Really it does and Jane Yolen financed it.
  • Born March 5, 1955 Penn Jillette, 68. Performed on Babylon 5 in the episode scripted by Neil Gaiman titled “Day of The Dead” as part of Penn & Teller who portrayed comedians Rebo and Zooty. It’s one of my favorite episodes of the series. 
  • Born March 5, 1959 Howard V. Hendrix, 64. Empty Cities of the Full Moon is damn impressive as the Labyrinth Key duology. He’s done an amazing amount of quite excellent short fiction, the latest collection being The Girls With Kaleidoscope Eyes: Analog Stories for a Digital Age.
  • Born March 5, 1986 Sarah J. Maas, 37. Author of the Throne of Glass YA series wherein Cinderella is stone cold assassin, and one I‘ve not sampled yet. (She pitched it to the publisher as “What if Cinderella was not a servant, but an assassin? And what if she didn’t attend the ball to meet the prince, but to kill him, instead?”) If you’re so inclined, there’s A Court of Thorns and Roses Coloring Book. Really. Truly, there is. 

(8) COMICS SECTION.

  • Baldo discovers plenty about his dad’s old reading habits.
  • Sally Forth remembers the challenges of doing STEM homework.

(9) NUMBER NINE. NUMBER NINE. Variety says filming of the ninth film in the Alien franchise begins this week: “New ‘Alien’ Movie Starts Filming in March, Reveals Cryptic Synopsis and Full Cast”.

20th Century Studios has announced new plot details, cast additions and production status for the latest “Alien” film.

While the premise for the yet-to-be-titled movie has been kept under wraps, the studio did reveal that the film will follow “a group of young people on a distant world, who find themselves in a confrontation with the most terrifying life form in the universe.”

Those who will be faced with the terrifying forms are David Jonsson (“Industry”), Archie Renaux (“Shadow and Bone”), Isabela Merced (“Rosaline”), Spike Fearn (“The Batman”) and Aileen Wu (“Away from Home”), all of whom will join the previously announced lead, Cailee Spaeny (“Mare of Easttown”).

In addition to the cast announcement, 20th Century Studios announced that the ninth film in the franchise will begin production on March 9 in Budapest….

(10) IN CASE YOU WONDERED. The San Francisco Standard reports “The First Woman To Draw Wonder Woman Is Alive and Well in SF”. That’s Trina Robbins, and SF is San Francisco.

Cartoonist and author Trina Robbins—the first woman to draw Wonder Woman—began reading at the age of 4. But she began drawing even earlier. 

“It was as soon as I could hold a crayon in my chubby hands,” Robbins told The Standard. 

Today, at age 84, she’s hard at work on a pro-choice benefit anthology. 

Robbins grew up poor and Jewish in Queens, where she longed for a Christmas tree and worshiped her older sister. Her parents showered her with love and never questioned her passion…. 

…It was 1986 when the fateful call came—DC Comics asked Robbins to draw Wonder Woman, her first foray into mainstream comics. She drew, but didn’t write, four issues. She later regretted not asking to tell the story, too. 

“I would have written it differently,” she said. “Wonder Woman doesn’t do that. She’s an Amazon.”… 

(11) FIRST GIL, THEN SHIVA. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] A researcher whose career has included working on bionic limbs for amputees is now talking about working toward a third arm for those whose natural two are working just fine. Maybe a mechanic needs to simultaneously wield two tools while also angling a worklight just right to see what they’re doing. Or a doctor, with a suture needle, clamp, and sponge all under their control. Or perhaps a regular person who needs to carry groceries in both hands while still being able to open the door. “Why Having a Robotic Third Arm Is Closer Than You Think” at The Daily Beast.

…For obvious reasons, though, much of the research focus around robotic limbs has been about prosthetics for amputees and other folks who have lost their limbs. These devices have helped give mobility, motor function, and sensory ability back to these people—which is undoubtedly a wonderful thing. However, there’s a growing contingent of researchers who want to democratize robo-limbs and give them to folks even if they have their appendages intact.

Silvestro Micera, a neuroengineer at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Lausanne, is one such scientist. Much of his research has been dedicated to creating bionic limbs for amputees. In fact, he was one of the pioneers in the development of robotic limbs with sensory feedback—having created a bionic arm that allowed an amputee to “feel” what it touched using electrodes implanted into the patient’s major nerves in 2013….

…Think about the times when you literally had your hands full and you needed to do things like pick up objects or open a door. A third arm could assist with all those actions and more.

Interestingly, Micera suggests going beyond just a third arm—and giving people the chance to wield even more robotic limbs. That’s right: this might result in a kind of wearable, robotic octopus suit a la Doc Ock in Spider-Man. Like the comic book villain, the limbs would allow for even more mobility, versatility, and motor function….

(12) VIDEO OF THE DAY. Ryan George brings us“Ant-Man and the Wasp Pitch Meeting – Revisited!”

Step back into the pitch meeting and revisit the completely factual accurate conversation that led to Ant-Man and the Wasp! Complete with commentary from Ryan George who is now several years older!

Ant-Man and the Wasp is Marvel’s first film to come out after the insanity that was Avengers: Infinity War just a few months ago. Paul Rudd, Evangeline Lilly, Michael Pena and Michael Douglas provide us with some pretty hilarious moments and action scenes in this sequel to 2015’s Ant-Man… just don’t think about it too much. The quantum realm is the latest plot tool that Marvel is throwing our way after the magical Vibranium in Black Panther and the millions of timelines in Infinity War. How did this movie come to be exactly? Step inside the pitch meeting that started it all. It’s super easy, barely an inconvenience.

[Thanks to Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Daniel Dern, Murray Moore, John King Tarpinian, Chris Barkley, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Andrew (not Werdna).]

Pixel Scroll 3/2/23 I’m Looking For A Martian With True Grok

(1) X-MEN GO POSTAL. The Royal Mail marked the 60th anniversary of X-Men by releasing an issue of 17 stamps on February 16.

…The 12 stamps in the main set are all original illustrations and have been created exclusively for Royal Mail by renowned British comic book artist Mike McKone. They feature: Professor X; Kitty Pryde; Angel; Colossus; Jubilee; Cyclops; Wolverine; Jean Grey; Iceman, Storm; Beast; and Rogue….

An additional set of five stamps are included in a miniature sheet, exclusively illustrated by artist Lee Garbett, and feature some of the mutant enemies faced by the X-Men: Juggernaut; Mystique; Magneto; Emma Frost; and Sabretooth….

(2) AURORA AWARDS. Members of the Canadian Science Fiction and Fantasy Association will be able to make 2023 Aurora Award nominations from March 4-April 22. According to Garth Spencer in Obdurate Eye #25, due to a lack of eligible movies or TV shows, or works in the Best Fan Organizational category, CSFFA is no longer giving out an award for movies or TV shows, and works that were in the Best Fan Organizational category are now in the Best Fan Related Work category. CSFFA have redefined the Best Artist category as the Best Cover Art/Interior Illustration category. Rather than nominating an artist, CSFFA members will nominate each work that an artist has published in the past year. [Via Obdurate Eye #25.]

(3) LIKE A BASILISK? “Alex North On the Pleasures of Fictional Forbidden Texts” at CrimeReads.

You won’t find Von Goom’s Gambit described in any chess textbook.

… Because the character of Von Goom exists only in a short story. Von Goom’s Gambit by Victor Contoski was originally published in 1966, in Chess Review, before being reprinted a handful of times. One of those was in a slim volume of science fiction stories that somehow found its way into the reading room of my primary school.

…I remember being captivated by it.

Part of that was down to the idea of the Gambit itself. Out of all the possible arrangements of pieces on a chessboard, Von Goom had chanced upon one so alien to the logic of the human mind – so abhorrent – that it could wound and kill. Following that initial heart attack, Von Goom’s opponents in the story meet various terrible fates. One breaks down in tears at the sight of the board before him. Another is violently sick. A third is driven insane, while members of the watching crowd are turned to stone.

As a ten year old – obviously – I loved this a great deal….

(4) OCTOTHORPE. Episode 78 of the Octothorpe podcast is “Sqrrl Grrl”. (Or should that be the Ctthrp podcast?)

John Coxon is chuckling, Alison Scott is conversing, and Liz Batty is critical. We discuss the COVID policy from the 2023 Eastercon, Conversation, as well as discussing the latest news from the Chengdu Worldcon.

(5) ERASED FROM THE LANDSCAPE BUT NOT FROM HISTORY. The New York hotel where the 1967 Worldcon was held, then known as the Statler-Hilton, is in the midst of being demolished. The New York Times ran a full profile about its history, and about one person who tried to keep the historic structure from being torn down: “The Hotel Pennsylvania’s Great Disappearing Act”.

Bit by bit, floor by floor, the building that once rose 22 stories over Penn Station is shrinking before the city’s very eyes. The black netting draped over its ever-diminishing brick is like a magician’s handkerchief; once removed, it will reveal — nothing.

Behold: The Great Disappearing Act of the Hotel Pennsylvania.

This isn’t — or wasn’t — just any building. This was once the largest hotel on earth, with 2,200 rooms, shops, restaurants, its own newspaper, and a telephone number immortalized by the bandleader Glenn Miller with a 1940 song “Pennsylvania 6-5000,”…

You can find many of Jay Kay Klein’s photos taken at the 1967 convention on Calisphere.

(6) VALMA BROWN (1950-2023). Australian fan Valma Brown, a Melbourne fanzine editor married to Leigh Edmonds, died March 2. Edmonds announced her death on Facebook with the note, “It was sudden so there will be an inquest.” She and Leigh were Fan Guests of Honor at SunCon, the 1991 Australian National Convention. She ran unsuccessfully for GUFF in 1987.

(7) MEMORY LANE.

2019[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

Elizabeth Bear’s Ancestral Night which was published by Saga Press four years ago this week is a novel that I fell in love the first time I read it. Now I’ll admit that I’m a long-term fan of her work going back to Hammered, the first in her Jenny Casey trilogy. I think she’s a brilliant writer and a wonderful person. And yes I’ve sent her chocolate. Actually she’s reviewed chocolate for Green Man.

The book is a stellar blend of characters, humans who are almost more than human, aliens that are truly alien, an silicon intelligence who is fully realised, a ship as the primary setting that doesn’t feel cliched and a story that’s fascinating. And it feels friendly I think is the best word. It’s so richly detailed that I notice something new every time I listen to it.

And yes I’m hoping there’s a third novel set in this universe.

And here is the Beginning for Ancestral Night

THE BOAT DIDN’T HAVE A name. He wasn’t deemed significant enough to need a name by the authorities and registries that govern such things. He had a registration number—657-2929-04, Human/ Terra—and he had a class, salvage tug, but he didn’t have a name.

Officially.

We called him Singer. If Singer had an opinion on the issue, he’d never registered it—but he never complained. Singer was the shipmind as well as the ship—or at least, he inhabited the ship’s virtual spaces the same way we inhabited the physical ones—but my partner Connla and I didn’t own him. You can’t own a sentience in civilized space.

Singer was a sliver of a thing suspended electromagnetically at the center of a quicksilver loop as thin in cross section as an old-fashioned wedding band, but a hundred and fifty meters across the diameter and ten meters from edge to edge. In any meaningful gravity, the ring would have crumpled and sagged like a curl of wax arched over the candleflame. But here in space, reinforced with electromagnetic supports, it spanned the horizon of the viewport in a clean arc.

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born March 2, 1933 Leo Dillon. With his wife Diane, they were illustrators of children’s books and many a paperback book and magazine cover. Over fifty years, they were the creators of more than a hundred genre covers. They won the Hugo for Best Professional Artist at Noreascon (1971) after being nominated twice before at Heicon ‘70 and St. Louiscon. The Art of Leo & Diane Dillon written by Leo Dillon, Diane Dillon and Byron Preiss would be nominated for a Best Related Non-Fiction Hugo at Chicon IV. They would win a World Fantasy Award for Lifetime Achievement. Some of my favorites? The first cover for Pavane. The Ace cover of The Left Hand of Darkness. And one for a deluxe edition of The Last Unicorn. (Died 2012.)
  • Born March 2, 1939 jan howard finder. I’m not going to be able to do him justice here. He was a SF writer, filker, cosplayer, and of course fan. He was nicknamed The Wombat as a sign of affection and ConFrancisco (1993 Worldcon) was only one of at least eight cons that he was fan guest of honor at. Finder was even tuckerized when Anne McCaffrey named a character for him. (Died 2013.)
  • Born March 2, 1943 Peter Straub. Horror writer who won the World Fantasy Award for Koko and the August Derleth Award for Floating Dragon. He’s co-authored several novels with Stephen King, The Talisman which itself won a World Fantasy Award, and Black House. Both The Throat and In the Night Room won Bram Stoker Awards as did 5 Stories, a short collection by him. Ok you know that I’m rarely impressed by Awards, but fuck this is impressive! (Died 2022.)
  • Born March 2, 1960 Peter Hamilton, 63. I read and quite enjoyed his Night’s Dawn Trilogy when it came out and I’m fairly sure that I’ve read Pandora’s Star and Judas Unchained as they sound familiar. (Too much genre fiction read over the years to remember everything…) What else have y’all read by him?
  • Born March 2, 1966 Ann Leckie, 57. Ancillary Justice won the Hugo Award for Best Novel and the Nebula Award, Kitschies Award Golden Tentacle, Locus Award for Best First Novel, the Arthur C. Clarke Award, and the BSFA Award. Quite amazing. Her sequels Ancillary Sword and Ancillary Mercy did not win awards but are no less impressive. 

(9) COMICS SECTION.

  • Dick Tracy seems to have started a crossover involving a Nero Wolfe character.
  • And Tom Gauld has been busy, too:

(10) FOR AMAZON PRIME MEMBERS. [Item by Dann.] Amazon just announced the First Reads books for Amazon Prime members.  The genre title for March is House of Gold by C.T. Rwizi.  He is the author of the outstanding Scarlett Odyssey series that concluded in 2022.

First Reads books are free to all Amazon Prime members.  It is how I encountered C.T.’s first book Scarlett Odyssey a few years back.  He is, in my opinion, a talented and overlooked author. House of Gold can be pre-ordered (free for Amazon Prime members) for delivery on April 1, 2023.

(11) PUT ANOTHER BARBIE ON THE MOON. Gizmodo reports how “Liquid Nitrogen Could Keep Moon Suits Free From Lunar Dust”. And promises “No Barbie dolls were injured in the course of these experiments.”

Pesky lunar dust is an annoying obstacle for astronauts landing on the Moon—it sticks to pretty much everything. New research from Washington State University may have cracked the code for keeping space suits dust-free, in which pressurized liquid nitrogen was used to literally blow the dust from surfaces.

(12) TINGLE TIME. Boing Boing points out that “Chuck Tingle’s latest story has Dilbert creator Scott Adams getting screwed by his own racism”.

(13) SCOPE IT OUT. Behind a paywall in Nature: “Asteroid photobombs JWST practice shots”.

The James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) has spotted a small Solar System rock by chance during a calibration run…

 …[the body is a] roughly 15-kilometre-wide object in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter. The photos were taken to measure how one of the telescope’s infrared cameras would respond. While analysing the data, the researchers spotted what looked like a much smaller asteroid, which they estimated to be 100–230 metres across.

If confirmed by subsequent observations, this would be one of the smallest objects ever seen in space — and JWST detected it at a distance of more than 130 million kilometres

(14) WORKING…. From Politico we learn: “OK Computer: Romania debuts ‘world’s first’ AI government adviser”.

Romanian Prime Minister Nicolae Ciucă surprised his Cabinet on Wednesday by introducing them to a new member — run completely on artificial intelligence.

Ciucă introduced the new “honorary adviser” called Ion to the rest of his ministers in a demonstration, with a face and words appearing on a digital screen, responding to the prime minister’s prompts along with a computerized voice.

Ion was developed by Romanian researchers and will use artificial intelligence to “quickly and automatically capture the opinions and desires” submitted by Romanian citizens, Ciucă said.

“We are talking about the first government adviser to use artificial intelligence,” both nationally and internationally, he said.

Romanians will be able to send their ideas through an accompanying website (ion.gov.ro) as well as on social media and some in-person locations. Ion will then synthesize their contributions for the government to consider, according to the coordinator of the research team, Nicu Sebe. Users won’t, however, receive a response from Ion itself….

(15) LAST MONTH ON THE SCREEN. Here is what people were watching in February – according to JustWatch.

US Sci-Fi

Rank*MoviesTV shows
1Everything Everywhere All at OnceSeverance
2M3GANWestworld
3Infinity PoolThe Ark
4NopeThe Peripheral
5Edge of TomorrowDoctor Who
6InterstellarThe Twilight Zone
7The OutwatersQuantum Leap
8Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless MindLost
9VesperLa Brea
10Jurassic World DominionThe Nevers

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

(16) VIDEO OF THE DAY. An old TV interview has surfaced again: “KGW Vault: Leonard Nimoy talks Spock, Star Trek in 1967”.

Actor Leonard Nimoy who portrayed the now-famous Spock talks with KGW about his new role. The first episode of Star Trek aired on September 8, 1967. Nimoy explains that Spock is a man born of alien and human descent who has complete control over his emotions; a unique look at a character beloved by millions now.

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

Pixel Scroll 1/14/23 I’d Love To Teach The File To Scroll In Pixel Harmony

(1) OUT OF BOUNDS. Priya Sridhar analyzes the ethical and professional issues related to the Susan Meachen story in “’Death Is Not A Marketing Tool’ And Other Sentences We Shouldn’t Have To Say” at Medium. (Via Cat Rambo.)

Trigger Warning: This article does talk about death by suicide, specifically people faking their suicides. You have been warned.

I cannot believe I am writing about this in 2022. You would think that people would have learned by now. There are some things that we cannot forget. And I don’t feel well talking about this. The Daily Beast has all the details.

People faking their death is a hot button for me. Specifically, people faking suicide is something that will anger me forever. I feel a sickness in my stomach, and shaking anger. And an author has done this, someone that has earned revenue from this decision. They now have made the Internet very confused, especially within indie romance….

(2) DERAILED. Entertainment Weekly reports “Snowpiercer’s fourth and final season scrapped at TNT despite completing production”. But is all lost? Perhaps not.

… “We can confirm that TNT will not air season four of Snowpiercer,” a network spokesperson said Friday in a statement to EW. “This was a difficult decision, but our admiration for the talented writers, actors and crew who brought Snowpiercer‘s extraordinary post-apocalyptic world to life remains strong. We have been working collaboratively with the producers since last year to help the series find a new home where fans can continue to enjoy the compelling story and exceptional visual experience. We look forward to working with them on future projects.”

It may not be the end of the world, though. Producer Tomorrow Studios says it hopes to find a new partner for the series “shortly” in order to get the final episodes to fans. Deadline Hollywood reports that the ultimate goal is to build a franchise, including a prequel and sequel….

(3) EXOURBAN. “Alien Cities” at Black & White, an art blog by Anne Nydam focused on block prints and children’s fantasy.

Today I have a few strange and alien cities to share with you.  In each case the artist’s style is radically different from anything I do, and yet in the first two cases I, too, have made a piece that I think reveals a bit of the same curiosity, fascination, and imagination at work.  First up is Toward the Sky by Yoshida Toshi (Japan, 1911-1995).  This has a wonderfully doodly sensibility, which reminds me of my own City I and City II (about which you can read more in prior post Cities of Dreams).  Yoshida’s piece has a playful vibe somewhere between mid-century atomic and psychedelic, which isn’t so surprising given that it was made in 1965….  

(4) TO BOLDLY GO. Sistahscifi is hosting a free online book launch for To Boldy Go: Nichelle Nichols, Star Trek, & Civil Rights on Wednesday, January 18 from 5:00-6:00 p.m. Pacific. Reserve your spot at the link.

 To Boldly Go tells the true story of Nichelle Nichols and how she used her platform on Star Trek to inspire and recruit a new generation of diverse astronauts and many others in the space and STEM fields.

(5) NAACP IMAGE AWARDS. There are many items of genre interest among the nominees for the NAACP Image Awards 2023 – click the link to see all the categories. The awards will be presented February 25. The awards are notable for including Literary categories. This category has two well-known genre nominees:

The Outstanding Work – Literary Fiction

  • Africa Risen: A New Era Of Speculative Fiction edited by Sheree Renée Thomas, Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki and Zelda Knight
  • The Keeper – Tananarive Due, Steven Barnes (Abrams Books)

(6) CHINESE NEBULA AWARDS TAKING ENTRIES. The 14th Chinese Science Fiction Nebula Award is open for entries until January 31. The eligibility year for the Nebulas is 2021. For the Rising Star Award, which for authors who published their first science fiction novel, the eligibility period is between January 1, 2020 and December 31, 2022.

(7) AURORA AWARDS CREATING LATEST ELIGIBILITY LIST. [Item by Danny Sichel.] The Aurora Awards (which have moved from PrixAuroraAwards.ca to CSFFA.ca) are currently in Phase 1: gathering a list of everything eligible from last year. Eligibility lists close on February 25, 2023.

(8) VEGAS FANDOM NEWS. Alan White has a report on Facebook about fanzine fan Arnie Katz, who would welcome visitors at his North Las Vegas care home. See details in comments at the post.

(9) MEMORY LANE.

1954 [Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

You didn’t think I was done with quotes of hobbits eating, did you? If you did, you really don’t know me as I’m very, very fond of hobbits and the world that Tolkien created for them. Tolkien describes them in the prologue to The Fellowship of the Ring as “an unobtrusive but very ancient people” who find their many of their delights in “peace and quiet and good tilled earth”.  Here’s one of my favorite passages about hobbits and food.

Of Herbs and Stewed Rabbits, The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers

They were washed and in the middle of good deep mugs of beer when Mr. Butterbur and Nob came in again. In a twinkling the table was laid. There was hot soup, cold meats, a blackberry tart, new loaves, slabs of butter, and half a ripe cheese: good plain food, as good as the Shire could show, and homelike enough to dispel the last of Sam’s misgivings (already much relieved by the excellence of the beer).

One or two other hobbits belonging to the farm-household came in. In a short while fourteen sat down to eat. There was beer in plenty, and a mighty dish of mushrooms and bacon, besides much other solid farmhouse fare. The dogs lay by the fire and gnawed rinds and cracked bones.

`Now, now! ‘ said Sam. `Each to his own fashion. Our bread chokes you, and raw coney chokes me. If you give me a coney, the coney’s mine, see, to cook, if I have a mind. And I have. You needn’t watch me. Go and catch another and eat it as you fancy – somewhere private and out o’ my sight. Then you won’t see the fire, and I shan’t see you, and we’ll both be the happier. I’ll see the fire don’t smoke, if that’s any comfort to you.’

After so long journeying and camping, and days spent ¤n the lonely wild, the evening meal seemed a feast to the hobbits: to drink pale yellow wine, cool and fragrant, and eat bread and butter, and salted meats, and dried fruits, and good red cheese, with clean hands and clean knives and plates. Neither Frodo nor Sam refused anything that was offered, nor a second, nor indeed a third helping. The wine coursed in their veins and tired limbs, and they felt glad and easy of heart as they had not done since they left the land of Lórien.

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born January 14, 1924 Guy Williams. Most remembered as Professor John Robinson on Lost in Space though some of you may remember him as Don Diego de la Vega and his masked alter ego Zorro in the earlier Zorro series. (Is it genre? You decide. I think it is.) He filmed two European genre films, Il tiranno di Siracusa (Damon and Pythias) and Captain Sinbad as well. (Died 1989.)
  • Born January 14, 1943 Beverly Zuk. Ardent fan of Trek: TOS who wrote three Trek fanfics, two of them on specific characters: The Honorable Sacrifice (McCoy) and The Third Verdict (Scotty). Let’s just say that based on her artwork that I found I’d not say these are anything less than R rated in places such as her naked Kirk. She was a founding member of the Trek Mafia though I’m not sure what that was, but I’m betting one of y’all can tell me. (Died 2009.)
  • Born January 14, 1948 Carl Weathers, 75. Most likely best remembered among genre fans as Al Dillon in Predator, but he has some other SFF creds as well. He was a MP officer in Close Encounters of the Third Kind, General Skyler in Alien Siege, Dr. Artimus Snodgrass in the very silly comedy The Sasquatch Gang and he voiced Combat Carl in Toy Story 4. And no, I’m not forgetting he’s currently playing Greef Karga on The Mandalorian series. I still think his best role ever was Adam Beaudreaux on Street Justice but that’s very much not SFF.
  • Born January 14, 1949 Lawrence Kasdan, 74. Director, screenwriter, and producer. He’s best known early on as co-writer of The Empire Strikes BackRaiders of the Lost Ark and Return of the Jedi. He also wrote The Art of Return of the Jedi with George Lucas which is quite superb. He’s also one of the writers lately of Star Wars: The Force Awakens and Solo: A Star Wars Story
  • Born January 14, 1965 Jemma Redgrave, 58. Her first genre role was as Violette Charbonneau in the “A Time to Die” episode of Tales of the Unexpected which was also her first acting role. Later genre roles are scant but include a memorable turn as Kate Lethbridge-Stewart, daughter of Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart on Doctor Who including an appearance with the forthcoming Fourteenth Doctor. 
  • Born January 14, 1964 Mark Addy, 59. He got a long history in genre films showing up first as Mac MacArthur in Jack Frost followed by the lead in The Flintstones in Viva Rock Vegas (why did anyone make this?), Roland in A Knight’s Tale (now that’s a film), Friar Tuck In Ridley Scott’s Robin Hood (has anyone seen this?) and voicing Clyde the Horse in the just released Mary Poppins Returns. Television work includeseere  Robert Baratheon on Games of Thornes, Paltraki on a episode on Doctor Who, “The Battle of Ranskoor Av Kolos”, and he was Hercules on a UK series called Atlantis. 
  • Born January 14, 1967 Emily Watson, 56. Her first genre appearance is in Equilibrium as Mary O’Brien before voicing Victoria Everglot in Tim Burton’s Corpse Bride. Next is she’s Anne MacMorrow in the Celtic fantasy The Water Horse: Legend of the Deep. She also was in a Nineties radio production of The Wolves of Willoughby Chase.

(11) TIME TO CONCATENATE. [Item by Jonathan Cowie.] SF2 Concatenation has just posted its spring edition (northern hemisphere academic year spring). Full contents below:

v33(1) 2023.1.15 — New Columns & Articles for the Spring 2023

(All archived annual film charts are indexed here)

v33(1) 2023.1.15 — Science Fiction & Fantasy Book Reviews

v33(1) 2023.1.15 — Non-Fiction SF & Science Fact Book Reviews

(12) SHAKE & BAKE – LET’S NOT. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] The Soyuz spacecraft currently docked at the International Space Station—which took crew of three to the ISS—has sprung a leak in its coolant system. Earthbound testing plus visual inspections by ISS crew has led the Russians to believe that the damage is from a micrometeorite (as opposed to, say, a bit of human-made space debris, which would have been traveling too slowly for the damage observed). 

Since this would lead to unacceptably high temperature and humidity for a crewed return, a plan has been developed to send the next Soyuz up empty and use it to return the three crewmembers. Planners are carefully not calling this a rescue mission. “NASA and Roscosmos share ISS Soyuz leak findings” at Popular Science.

… But on December 14, the MS-22 began leaking coolant from a radiator system. Visual inspection of the spacecraft, modeling, and experiments on the ground in Russia using a hyper-velocity gun suggest the damage came from a micrometeorite about 1 millimeter in diameter, Krikalev told reporters Wednesday. Roscosmos officials believe it was a tiny chunk of rock and not a piece of space debris, he explained, because the material was traveling at an estimated 4.3 miles per second—too fast to have maintained an orbit shared by the ISS.

Without a functioning radiator system, Krikalev said, temperatures within the Soyuz spacecraft could rise to as high as 104 degrees Fahrenheit during the roughly six hours necessary for a normal reentry process in Earth’s atmosphere. That heat, along with high humidity, is considered too risky to bring astronauts home….

(13) THERE CAN BE ONLY ONE. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] What marks the beginning? When did humanity literally make a mark on the geological record that future geologists will point to and say there began the time those extinct upright apes become the dominant “geological superpower”? Via Wired, we have the story first appearing in the Guardian. “When Did the Anthropocene Actually Begin?”

… They could decide the start is marked with a bang, thanks to the plutonium isotopes rapidly blasted around the planet by the hydrogen bomb tests that began in late 1952, or with a shower of soot particles from the surge in fossil-fuel power plants after the Second World War.

Or they may choose the postwar explosion in artificial fertilizer use and its profound impact on the Earth’s natural nitrogen cycle. Microplastics, chicken bones, and pesticide residues may also be among the eclectic signs used to bolster the definition of the Anthropocene. Other possible signs may be found in lake beds in the US and China, Australian corals, a Polish peat bog, the black sediments beneath the Baltic Sea, and even the human debris accumulated under Vienna….

…An international team of almost 40 scientists, who have been commissioned by the official guardians of the geological timescale, must select a place where layered deposits show the clear transition from the previous age to the new one. The team has come up with a short list of 12 sites that have now begun a series of votes—but there can be only one winner. Humanity has unquestionably changed the Earth far beyond the stability of the Holocene, the 11,700-year period during which all civilization arose, and which will end with the declaration of the Anthropocene….

(14) KEEP WATCHING THE SKIES. At CNN — “Video: Hear the details of a new UFO report released by US government”.

The Office of the Director of National Intelligence released a new report about UFO sightings in the United States. The US government has received over 350 UFO sighting reports since March 2021, half of which remain unexplained….

(15) VIDEO OF THE DAY. “Marvel’s Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur Official Trailer”. Available on Disney Channel 2/10/23 and Disney+ 2/15/23.

Marvel’s Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur, based on Marvel’s hit comic books, follows the adventures of 13-year-old super-genius Lunella Lafayette and her 10-ton T-Rex, Devil Dinosaur. After Lunella accidentally brings Devil Dinosaur into present-day New York City, the duo works together to protect the city’s Lower East Side from danger.

[Thanks to Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, Bruce Arthurs, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Danny Sichel, Mike Kennedy, John King Tarpinian, Chris Barkley, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Dan’l Danehy-Oakes.]

Pixel Scroll 8/14/22 I Am A Little Scroll Made Cunningly, Of Pixels, And An Angelic Sprite

(1) AURORA AWARD STATS. The 2022 Aurora Award Results and Hall of Fame Inductees were announced last night, and the CSFFA website now has the voting statistics and nomination totals available here.

It’s notable that in the Best Fan Writing and Publication category it was R. Graeme Cameron competing against himself, winning for Polar Borealis, while his Canadian SF&F book and magazine reviews in Amazing Stories (online) finished second.

(2) CONFUSION IS STILL WITH US. [Item by John Winkelman.] Con Chair Cylithria Dubois has posted an update about ConFusion 2022 and 2023. To sum up: Despite hardships and obstacles, COVID-related and otherwise, ConFusion 2022 ended in the black, financially, and there will be a ConFusion 2023, about which details will be announced soon. “2022 Rising ConFusion Final Report & Handoff to The Legend of ConFusion”.

Rising ConFusion 2022 took place January 21st – 23rd of 2022.  December & January were peak times for the  DELTA variant of the COVID-19 pandemic. As DELTA took hold, times looked very grim due to the pandemic, and on January 7th, 2022, I made a public plea to our community, alerting you of the dire financial straits ConFusion Convention faced due to lower attendance, higher costs, and lack of income from the postponed 2021 event. 

The day I made that plea, I was also packing to travel via car from my home in Kansas City, MO., to my Home in Bay City, MI. I posted that, went to bed, got up and drove the 14 hour journey. By the time I arrived in Michigan, I was gob-smacked at the community outpouring of support. Y’all have no idea how utterly stunned silent I truly was. (Lithie, Silent? Whoa)… 

In Quick Summary Form:

-The amount of income made by Rising ConFusion 2022 was $17,848.48. 
-The amount of Donation Income made from your generosity was $13,705.09. 
-Combined those total: $31,553.57! 
-Our total expenses (see note below) came to -$19,234.81.  
-The amount of money leftover was: +$12,318.76

In Short; Yes, you saved Rising ConFusion and there will be another ConFusion in 2023!…

(3) HEINLEIN BLOOD DRIVE. “The Heinlein Society Sponsors Chicago Blood Drive” for those wanting to donate blood while the Worldcon is happening. The Society says:

Worldcon chose not to sponsor a blood drive this year. For the convenience of those expecting to Pay It Forward by donating blood The Heinlein Society and Virgin Hotels, a block away from the Hyatt, will have a blood drive on Sunday. Schedule your appointment early as the drive is open to the public before Worldcon starts. More information will be available as well as a free book with a cool bookmark at The Heinlein Society Fan Table at Worldcon.

(4) WHERE IT BEGAN. Robert Charles Wilson told Facebook readers about a personal artifact he rediscovered.

I’ve spent the last few days putting my book collection in order, and yesterday I came across this, the first sf magazine I ever purchased: the March 1964 issue of F&SF, from a little shop in the town of Port Credit, Ontario.

J.G. Ballard, Kit Reed, Oscar Wilde, Avram Davidson’s haunting little story “Sacheverell”—pretty heady stuff for a precocious ten-year-old. But what had the greatest impact, looking backward from 2022, was Robert Bloch’s article “The Conventional Approach”—a pocket history of science fiction fandom. I was already nursing an ambition to write, specifically to write sf, and here was what looked like an invitation to a subculture of like-minded enthusiasts and maybe even a roadmap to a career.

A few more years would pass before I attended a convention or sold a piece of fiction to a professional market, but that little digest-magazine article had pretty profound consequences for me. What I eventually found by way of that subculture was, yes, a career, including a Hugo Award for my novel Spin, but also enduring friendships, two marriages and one long-term relationship, visits to Europe and Asia I would probably not otherwise have undertaken, and a more colourful and varied life than my 10-year-old self could have reasonably imagined.

All that, bought for 40 cents on a wintry Saturday in rural Ontario. Your money went further in those days, I guess.

(5) RUSHDIE UPDATE. “Salman Rushdie off ventilator and ‘road to recovery has begun,’ agent says” reports Reuters, quoting an email.

Salman Rushdie, the acclaimed author who was stabbed repeatedly at a public appearance in New York state on Friday, 33 years after Iran’s then-supreme leader called for him to be killed, is off a ventilator and his health is improving, his agent and a son said on Sunday.

“He’s off the ventilator, so the road to recovery has begun,” his agent, Andrew Wylie, wrote in an email to Reuters. “It will be long; the injuries are severe, but his condition is headed in the right direction.”…

Meanwhile, the Guardian reports that author J.K. Rowling, after tweeting sympathy for Rushdie. received a death threat: “Police investigate threat to JK Rowling over Salman Rushdie tweet”.

Police are investigating a threat against JK Rowling that was made after she posted her reaction on social media to the attack on Salman Rushdie.

Rowling tweeted on Friday: “Horrifying news. Feeling very sick right now. Let him be OK.”

Twitter user under the name Meer Asif Asiz replied: “Don’t worry you are next.”

Rowling shared screenshots of the threat and thanked everyone who had sent supportive messages. “Police are involved (were already involved on other threats),” she wrote.

(6) HE KNOWS HORROR WHEN HE SEES IT. In MSN.com’s extract of The Sunday Times interview, “Stephen King talks politics: ‘Trump was a horrible president and is a horrible person’”.

…King, who is himself active on Twitter, also spoke to the Sunday Times about the role social media has played amid the current political and cultural climate. 

“It’s a poison pill. I mean, I think it’s wonderful, for instance, that in the wake of George Floyd’s death, his murder by police, that you could muster via social media protests in cities across America and around the world,” he noted. “But on the other hand, it’s social media that has magnified the idea that the election was stolen from Donald Trump. And there’s millions of people who believe that, and there are millions of people who believe that the COVID vaccinations are terrible things. Some of the things are good, some are not so good, and some are downright evil.”…

(7) THE BOOKEND. Rich Horton’s last 50’s Hugo post is “Hugo Nomination Recommendations, 1960”. (I don’t have to explain why 1960 is the last year in this series about the 50’s, I’m sure.)

… This was the height of the Cold War, and the height of fears of Nuclear War, and that is emphasized by the popular success of out and out “End of the World due to Nuclear War” books like Level 7Alas, BabylonA Canticle for Leibowitz; and On The Beach, all published in this time frame. For that matter, Providence Island is about a lost race resisting the use of their island for nuclear tests, and The Manchurian Candidate is surely a Cold War novel to the max!…

(8) FAN MAIL. Connie Willis writes in praise of “Favorite Author – Mary Stewart” on Facebook.

I just finished re-reading AIRS ABOVE THE GROUND and was reminded all over again what a wonderful writer Mary Stewart was. Many science-fiction fans will be familiar with her because of her trilogy about Merlin and King Arthur–THE CRYSTAL CAVE, THE HOLLOW HILLS, and THE LAST ENCHANTMENT–but when those books came out, I was already a long time admirer who’d discovered her through, of all things, Hayley Mills.

I was a huge Hayley Mills fan in high school and college and saw all her movies. I also was an inveterate reader of movie credits (this was how I found new books to read–and still do) and thus discovered Eleanor Porter’s POLLYANNA, Jules Verne’s IN SEARCH OF THE CASTAWAYS–and Mary Stewart’s THE MOONSPINNERS. I promptly ran to the library to check out the book.

…I said her novels had been the foundation for the modern romantic mystery genre, but that’s not really true. Even though they’ve been compared to Daphne DuMaurier’s and Jane Austen’s books, nobody else before or since has been able to do the sort of thing she did. What is true is that she “built the bridge between classic literature and modern popular fiction. She did it first, and she did it best.” And if you’ve never read her, you’re in for a treat….

(9) SUMMER HELL IS HERE. This sounds fascinating. At Black Gate, Joe Bonadonna introduces an anthology: “In Hell, Everyone’s Pants are on Fire: A preview of Liars in Hell.

Seven Degrees of Lying

The opening story in Liars in Hell is by Janet and Chris Morris, and it’s called Seven Degrees of Lying. Under Lord Byron’s protection for a night, Percy Shelley is abducted and drowned. Honor bound, Byron sets out to find and rescue him, dragging Christopher Marlowe, Shakespeare, the Inklings, Satan, Lord Walsingham, and J, the mysterious Bible writer, into the first skirmish of the Liars War. Even Byron’s dog, Boatswain, gets in on the act.

…So come visit Hell and enjoy the company of our heroes and villains. There’s plenty of action, drama and gallows humor to go around. But bring your own pitchfork. It’s better to have it and not need it, than it is to need it and not have it. You never know when it might come in handy.

(10) MEMORY LANE.  

2009 [By Cat Eldridge.] I like pulp films and the Sherlock Holmes films that Robert Downey Jr. did, Sherlock Holmes and Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows, certainly are pulp. Expensively produced ones as I will note in a bit. 

Both films were directed by Guy Ritchie and were produced by Joel Silver, Lionel Wigram, Susan Downey, and Dan Lin. Susan is the wife of Robert. They have their own production company, Team Downey. 

The story for the first one was by Lionel Wigram and Michael Robert Johnson. Eigram’s only other story was the The Man from U.N.C.L.E film, though he was the executive producer for the Potter films; Johnson genre wise only did three episodes of The Frankenstein Chronicles

The second film’s screenplay was written by Michele Mulroney and Kieran Mulroney, a married couple whose entire genre output otherwise is scripting together Next Generation’s “The Outrageous Okona” and Star Trek: Enterprise’s “Fortunate Son” episodes.

Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law portray Sherlock Holmes and Dr. John Watson, respectively. I really think that they do a great job but, I suspect very deeply, like the video Poirots from yesterday, that is very much a matter of personal taste. I like their takes on the characters a lot. No, Downey is not the Holmes in the stories. 

They were expensive to produce, ninety million and the sequel added thirty-five onto its cost. The first was shot at in part at Freemasons’ Hall and St Paul’s Cathedral. The former was where the Suchet Poirot shot part of its Murder on the Orient Express. For the second film, principal photography moved for two days to Strasbourg, France. Shooting took place on, around, and inside Strasbourg Cathedral as that in stood for the German city where it was supposed to be set.

They made money, oh did they make money, roughly a half billon apiece. 

Roger Ebert I think in reviewing the first nails it perfectly and I’m going to quote only him from the multitude of critics. Here’s his entire first paragraph of his Sherlock Holmes review: “The less I thought about Sherlock Holmes, the more I liked ‘Sherlock Holmes.’ Yet another classic hero has been fed into the f/x mill, emerging as a modern superman. Guy Ritchie’s film is filled with sensational sights, over-the-top characters and a desperate struggle atop Tower Bridge, which is still under construction. It’s likely to be enjoyed by today’s action fans. But block bookings are not likely from the Baker Street Irregulars.”

Audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes give both films scores of seventy-seven percent which is a most excellent rating. 

They are available on HBO Max and Netflix.

There may or may not be a third film next year. The film company has announced such for Christmas but I hold little stock in that as the film hadn’t started production yet. 

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born August 14, 1910 Herta Herzog. At the Radio Project, she was part of the team of that conducted the groundbreaking research on Orson Welles’ 1938 broadcast of The War of the Worlds in the study The Invasion from Mars. The Radio Research Project was founded in 1937 as a social research project and funded by the Rockefeller Foundation to look into the effects of mass media on society. (Died 2010.)
  • Born August 14, 1932 Lee Hoffman. In the early Fifties, she edited and published the Quandry fanzine. At the same time, she began publication of Science-Fiction Five-Yearly which appeared regularly until ‘til 2006. It won a Hugo at Nippon 2007 which she shared with Geri Sullivan and Randy Byers. It was awarded after her death. She wrote four novels and a handful of short fiction, none of which are in the usual suspects. (Died 2007.)
  • Born August 14, 1940 Alexei Panshin, 82. He has written multiple critical works along with several novels, including the Nebula Award-winning Rite of Passage and the Hugo Award-winning study of SF, The World Beyond the Hill which he co-wrote with his wife, Cory Panshin. He also wrote the first serious study of Heinlein, Heinlein in Dimension: A Critical Analysis.
  • Born August 14, 1950 Gary Larson, 72. Setting aside a long and delightful career in creating the weird for us, ISFDB lists a SF link that deserve noting. In the March 1991 Warp as published by the Montreal Science Fiction and Fantasy Association, he had a cartoon “The crew of the Starship Enterprise encounters the floating head of Zsa Zsa Gabor”. 
  • Born August 14, 1951 Carl Lumbly, 71. I first encountered him voicing the Martian Manhunter on the Justice League series and he later played M’yrnn J’onzz, the father of the Martian Manhunter on the first Supergirl series.  His first major genre role was in The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension as John Parker, and he later had a number of voice roles in such films as Justice League: Doom and Justice League: Gods and Monsters. He of course was the lead in the short lived M.A.N.T.I.S. as Miles Hawkins. 
  • Born August 14, 1956 Joan Slonczewski, 66. Their novel A Door into Ocean won the John W. Campbell Memorial Award. They won a second John W. Campbell Memorial Award for their Highest Frontier novel. They were nominated for an Otherwise Award for The Children Star novel.
  • Born August 14, 1965 Brannon Braga, 57. Writer, producer and creator for the Next Gen, Voyager, Enterprise, as well as on the Star Trek Generations and Star Trek: First Contact films. He has written more episodes in the Trek franchise than anyone else with one hundred nine to date. He was responsible for the Next Gen series finale “All Good Things…” which won him a Best Dramatic Presentation Hugo (1995), along with Ronald D. Moore.
  • Born August 14, 1966 Halle Berry, 56. Her first role genre was not as I thought Miss Stone in The Flintstones but a minor role in a forgotten SF series called They Came from Outer Space. This was followed by being Storm in the X- Men franchise and Giacinta “Jinx” Johnson in Die Another Day, the twentieth Bond film. She then shows up as Catwoman. She has myriad roles in Cloud Atlas. And she is Molly Woods in Exant, a Paramount + series that originally ran on CBS. Both seasons are streaming there now.

(12) COMICS SECTION.

  • Popeye versus Cthulhu?
  • Thatababy shows what Alexa is up to after the owner leaves.
  • Tom Gauld covers all the options.

(13) THE REASON PEOPLE ARE TALKING ABOUT THIS BOOK. Politico’s Jenni Laidman interviews Kim Stanley Robinson: “Climate Catastrophe Is Coming. But It’s Not the End of the Story”.

…“This book has transformed my life,” Robinson said. “I’m doing nothing but talking about Ministry for the Future for the last year and a half, almost two years now. It’s also terrifying. It shows to me that people are feeling a desperate need for a story like this. They’re grabbing onto this book like a piece of driftwood, and they’re drowning at the open ocean.”…

Laidman: In your opening chapter, 20 million people die in an Indian heat wave and power failure, with several thousand of them poached to death in a lake as they try to escape the heat. Will it take this kind of climate horror to jolt the world into action?

Robinson: No. When I was at COP 26, Jordanian diplomat Zeid Ra’ad Hussein, who had read Ministry, was talking about the power of stories. He said, “You don’t need to be in a plane crash to know that it would be bad to be in a plane crash.” Every year since I wrote the book — I wrote it maybe three years ago — it’s as if attention to the climate change crisis has more than doubled. It’s almost exponential.

We’re not at the point of solutions, but at every COP meeting the sense that, “Oh my gosh, we are headed into a plane crash” is intensified. We’re not doing enough. We’re not paying the poor countries enough. Rich countries are breaking promises made at earlier COPs. Disillusionment with that process is getting so intense that I fear for the COP process itself. I’ve been comparing it to the League of Nations. The League of Nations was a great idea that failed. And then we got the 1930s and World War II. The 2015 Paris Agreement was an awesome thing, like something that I would write that people would call utopian. But it happened in the real world.

Now, with Russia and the brutal Ukraine war, things are so messed up that the COP process and the Paris Agreement could turn into the League of Nations. I’m frightened for that. It’s not a done deal.

(14) WHAT DO YOU THINK? Book Riot’s Caitlin Hobbs calls these the “20 of the Best Science Fiction Books of All Time”.

Before we get started, let me define “best” for you real fast. In this context, best does not secretly mean my favorite science fiction that I’m calling best because I’m the one writing the article. The best science fiction books of all time — at least the ones on this list — are the ones that remain highly rated, are incredibly popular, or have made some sort of mark on the science fiction genre or its various sub-genres, even mainstream culture as a whole. There are also only 20 books on this list, meaning it is not conclusive, as I am one person. I will inevitably miss a book that you think belongs on this list. So many science fiction falls into the definition of “best” that I’m using.

Because that’s what science fiction is meant to do: push the envelope, show what things could be if we continue down the path we’re on, and make you question what’s possible…. 

(15) KHAW SHORT FICTION. Sunday Morning Transport has a story and an offer.

(16) BREAKFAST IN A GALAXY A LONG TIME AGO. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] Who thought this was a good idea?  The Mandalorian NEVER waffles! “The Mandalorian Galactic Homestyle Frozen Waffles”. (However, Martin confesses he bought these today.)

Start your adventure with a delicious breakfast including Eggo® The Mandalorian Galactic Homestyle Waffles. It’s our classic Eggo® taste featuring the Mandalorian & Grogu™ from the hit Star Wars™ series. Collect all Mandalorian cards, only available across three different hero pack designs while supplies last. It’s the quick and delicious breakfast that families across the whole galaxy love.

(17) DON’T TOUCH THAT DIAL. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] Inverse writer Jon O’Brien takes a, let’s say nostalgic, look at Stay Tuned—a 30 year old movie the columnist believes deserved a better reception than it got. Starring John Ritter (Three’s Company) and Pam Dawber (Mork and Mindy), the movie’s plot includes strong flavors of the metafictional tropes so utterly infused in the recent & much better received WandaVision. “30 years ago, a sci-fi flop beat Marvel to its smartest story idea”.

…In 1992, Stay Tuned was accused of failing to say anything substantial in its send-up of America’s TV addiction. But decades on, the film serves as a forewarning of the dark route TV went down. The prank show genre, for example, has gone to such extremes as staging fake ISIS abductions and simulating plane crashes. The macabre spoof “Autopsies of the Rich and Famous” pretty much become a depressing reality.

Alongside ads for warped products such as The Silencer of the Lambs (muzzles for annoying youngsters) and Yogi Beer (alcohol for kids), and an end-credits sequence that zips through teasers for “Beverly Hills, 90666,” “The Golden Ghouls,” and “I Love Lucifer,” these brief side gags only appear via the Knables’ new-fangled TV set. But most of Stay Tuned’s lampoons play out in full screen, with Roy and Helen front and center after the new satellite dish zaps the bickering pair into Hellavision….

(18) A LUCRATIVE REJECTION. Neil Gaiman reveals he first pitched Sandman to George R.R. Martin for a Wild Cards series and Martin turned him down in this video with Gaiman and Martin that dropped last week: “Why Neil Gaiman Has George R.R. Martin to Thank for The Sandman”.

(19) BILL NYE IS BOOKING. SYFY Wire shares an “Exclusive clip for ‘The End is Nye’ on Peacock”.

SYFY WIRE has an exclusive first look at the all-new clip for the six-episode event series set to debut at Peacock on Aug. 25, and it’s safe to say that Bill’s not backing down from some of the biggest CGI-realized effects ever to bring a science documentary to life. How big are we talking? Like, positively supervolcanic — as in Yellowstone Caldera exploding, mushroom cloud-forming, town-engulfing big.

Bill and his trademark neckwear are in serious jeopardy in the new clip, which finds him flooring it out of a Rocky Mountain hamlet in a frighteningly futile attempt to outrace a superheated, 500 mph pyroclastic flow. Can Bill and his little electric car make it? Well…stick around to the end: It’s definitely Bill Nye like you’ve never seen him.

The blurb for the YouTube trailer says this is what the series is about:

Synopsis: The End is Nye sends Bill Nye into the most epic global disasters imaginable – both natural and unnatural – and then demystifies them using science to show how we can survive, mitigate, and even prevent them. Each stand-alone episode takes a hell-bent dive into the mystery and terror of one specific threat. Every catastrophe is abundant with thrills, but also offers hope and a way forward —a scientific blueprint for surviving anything that comes our way. The series is hosted and executive produced by Emmy Award winner and renowned science educator, engineer, author, and inventor Bill Nye. Each episode also features a brief cameo by longtime science advocate and series EP Seth MacFarlane.

[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, Rich Horton, Daniel Dern, Clifford Samuels, John Winkelman, Dennis Howard, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Andrew Porter, Chris Barkley, and Michael Toman for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day JeffWarner returns, because he isn’t donne yet.]

2022 Aurora Awards

The 2022 Aurora Awards were announced by the Canadian Science Fiction and Fantasy Association on August 13 in a virtual ceremony during When Words Collide. 

BEST NOVEL

  • Jade Legacy, Fonda Lee, Orbit

BEST YOUNG ADULT NOVEL

  • Walking in Two Worlds, Wab Kinew, Penguin Teen

BEST NOVELETTE/NOVELLA

  • The Annual Migration of Clouds, Premee Mohamed, ECW Press

BEST SHORT STORY

  • The Mathematics of Fairyland”, Phoebe Barton, Lightspeed Magazine, Issue 129

BEST GRAPHIC NOVEL/COMIC

  • It Never Rains, Kari Maaren, Webcomic

BEST POEM/SONG

  • Cat People Café“, Carolyn Clink, Polar Starlight #3

BEST RELATED WORK

  • Alias Space and Other Stories, Kelly Robson, Subterranean Press

BEST VISUAL PRESENTATION

  • Dune (2021), directed by Denis Villeneuve, Legendary Entertainment

BEST ARTIST

  • Samantha Beiko, cover for Seasons Between Us: Tales of Identities and Memories

BEST FAN WRITING AND PUBLICATION

BEST FAN ORGANIZATIONAL

  • When Words Collide, chair, Randy McCharles (Calgary)

BEST FAN RELATED WORK

2022 CANADIAN SCIENCE FICTION AND FANTASY ASSOCIATION HALL OF FAME INDUCTEES

  • Julie E. Czerneda: Fantasy and Science Fiction author and editor, and winner of seven Aurora Awards. Since 1997, Julie E. Czerneda has turned her love and knowledge of biology into science fiction novels and short stories that have received international acclaim, multiple awards, and best-selling status.
  • Ed Greenwood: Fantasy author, editor, and creator of the Forgotten Realms game world.  In 1979 he began writing articles about it for Dragon magazine and subsequently sold the rights to TSR.  He has published over 35 novels for TSR and contributed to over 200 books and game products for other publishers.
  • Hayden Trenholm: Science Fiction writer and editor, winner of five Aurora Awards, and publisher (Bundoran Press). Over the years, Hayden has published 4 novels and more than 30 short stories in the field. Despite his work as an editor (17 novels and 5 anthologies for Bundoran Press plus numerous freelance assignments) he has continued to write and consistently adds to his short fiction tally. 
CSFFA Hall of Fame Trophy

Pixel Scroll 7/23/22 Filers, Tick Not, Now Or Ever, Where To Scroll Your Pixels Go

(1) AURORA AWARDS VOTING DEADLINE. Canadian Science Fiction and Fantasy Association members have only a few minutes left to vote for 2022 Aurora Awards. The deadline is 11:59 p.m. EDT, on Saturday, July 23.

The awards ceremony will be held as a YouTube and Facebook live streaming event at 7:00 p.m. EDT on Saturday, August 13 at When Words Collide. 

(2) BEAUTIFYING THE BRICKS. DreamHaven Books showed off the progress on their new outside wall mural to Facebook friends. There’s also this smaller peek on Instagram.

(3) HEAR HEAR. The Science Fiction and Fantasy Poetry Association (SFPA) resumes its series with 2022 Rhysling Long Poem Reading Series Part 2.

(4) THE SPIRIT OF ’46. First Fandom Experience links up with Chicon 8’s “1946 Project” (which they’re doing instead of Retro Hugos). “Science Fiction and Fantasy in the Pulps: 1946” is a bibliography of sff published in that year.

…Presented here for your perusal and possible amusement is a fiction bibliography for science fiction and fantasy pulps issued in 1946. The list includes magazines that primarily published new works. Excluded are reprints of works published in prior years (most of Famous Fantastic Mysteries, all of Strange Tales). Non-fiction articles and editorials are also omitted. For brevity, we didn’t cite specific issue dates. For richness, we’ve transcribed the introductory blurbs that appeared in the Table of Contents or masthead for each story….

(5) DOODLER. [Item by Michael Toman.] “In a world where Franza Kafka became one of the first Big Name Fan Artists…?” “Kafka’s Inkblots” by J.W. McCormack, behind a paywall at New York Review of Books.

…Such an active imagination—the fever for annotation, familiar from Pale Fire or Flaubert’s Parrot, that distorts the inner life of the artist even as it seeks to illuminate it—is required of any reader hoping to get their money’s worth from Franz Kafka: The Drawings, a volume of the writer’s archival sketches and ephemera edited by Andreas Kilcher and Pavel Schmidt. A bearded maestro presides from the back of a business card. A stick figure seems to throttle a mass of squiggles. A harlequin frowns under the chastisement of an irate lump. Two curvilinear ink blots pass each other on a blank-page boulevard. A bushy-browed Captain Haddock-type glowers in profile on a torn envelope and, in the margins of a letter, a wrigglesome delinquent is bisected by a torture device that seems to clearly reference the one from “In the Penal Colony.” Limbs jut out cartoonishly from bodies, loopedy-loop acrobats snake up and down the gutter of a magazine, figures of authority preside in faded pencil, and then there are the stray marks on manuscript pages, neither fully letters nor drawings….

(6) BRICK BY BRICK. “E. E. Cummings and Krazy Kat” by Amber Medland at The Paris Review site puts the famous strip in perspective as an inspiration to all manner of creators of modern 20th-century literature and art.

…The Kat had a cult following among the modernists. For Joyce, Fitzgerald, Stein, and Picasso, all of whose work fed on playful energies similar to those unleashed in the strip, he had a double appeal, in being commercially nonviable and carrying the reek of authenticity in seeming to belong to mass culture. By the thirties, strips like Blondie were appearing daily in roughly a thousand newspapers; Krazy appeared in only thirty-five. The Kat was one of those niche-but-not-really phenomena, a darling of critics and artists alike, even after it stopped appearing in newspapers. Since then: Umberto Eco called Herriman’s work “raw poetry”; Kerouac claimed the Kat as “the immediate progenitor” of the beats; Stan Lee (Spider-Man) went with “genius”; Herriman was revered by Charles Schulz and Theodor Geisel alike. But Krazy Kat was never popular. The strip began as a sideline for Herriman, who had been making a name for himself as a cartoonist since 1902. It ran in “the waste space,” literally underfoot the characters of his more conventional 1910 comic strip The Dingbat Family, published in William Randolph Hearst’s New York Evening Journal….

(7) ANTICIPATION. Rich Horton abhors a vacuum, which is why he keeps his series going with “Hugo Nomination Recommendations, 1951”.

As noted, I’m planning to finish up my posts on potential Hugo nominees for 1950s Worldcons, including those that didn’t award Hugos. This is a case (as with 1954) where stories from the eligibility year (i.e. 1950) had a shot at Retro-Hugos, as Milliennium Philcon, the 2001 Worldcon, chose to award them. (Appropriate, I suppose, as the 1953 Philcon originated the Hugo Awards.) And in fact I wrote a post back in 2001 giving my recommendations for Retro Hugos that year. This appeared in SF Site here I am bemused to find that my recommendations from back then are almost exactly the same as I came up with surveying 1950s SF just now.

The 1951 Worldcon was Nolacon I, in New Orleans, the ninth World Science Fiction Convention. As noted, they gave no Hugo awards. This was the first year of International Fantasy Awards, and both were given to books published in 1949: fiction went to George Stewart’s, Earth Abides (surely a strong choice) and non-fiction to The Conquest of Space, by Willy Ley and Chesley Bonestell….

(8) LATHE OF HEAVENS. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] Hack writers get hackier with AI! The Verge blabs about “How independent writers are turning to AI”.

… Lepp, who writes under the pen name Leanne Leeds in the “paranormal cozy mystery” subgenre, allots herself precisely 49 days to write and self-edit a book. This pace, she said, is just on the cusp of being unsustainably slow. She once surveyed her mailing list to ask how long readers would wait between books before abandoning her for another writer. The average was four months. Writer’s block is a luxury she can’t afford, which is why as soon as she heard about an artificial intelligence tool designed to break through it, she started beseeching its developers on Twitter for access to the beta test. 

The tool was called Sudowrite. Designed by developers turned sci-fi authors Amit Gupta and James Yu, it’s one of many AI writing programs built on OpenAI’s language model GPT-3 that have launched since it was opened to developers last year. But where most of these tools are meant to write company emails and marketing copy, Sudowrite is designed for fiction writers. Authors paste what they’ve written into a soothing sunset-colored interface, select some words, and have the AI rewrite them in an ominous tone, or with more inner conflict, or propose a plot twist, or generate descriptions in every sense plus metaphor. 

Eager to see what it could do, Lepp selected a 500-word chunk of her novel, a climactic confrontation in a swamp between the detective witch and a band of pixies, and pasted it into the program. Highlighting one of the pixies, named Nutmeg, she clicked “describe.”…

(9) UP FROM THE UNDERGROUND. [Item by Dann.] This Reason Podcast focuses on the early days of comix in an interview with Brian Doherty regarding his newly published book Dirty Pictures: “Brian Doherty Talks Dirty Pictures, Comix, and Free Speech”.

Dirty Pictures: How an Underground Network of Nerds, Feminists, Misfits, Geniuses, Bikers, Potheads, Printers, Intellectuals, and Art School Rebels Revolutionized Art and Invented Comix, by Reason Senior Editor Brian Doherty, tells the story of how people such as Robert Crumb, Trina Robbins, and Art Spiegelman redefined not just what comic books were capable of but what gets counted as art.

(10) NOSTALGIC X-MEN SERIES. Yahoo! Entertainment is at SDCC when “’X-Men ’97’ Gets First Nostalgic Look, Fall 2023 Release and Season 2”.

Nearly 30 years after “X-Men: The Animated Series” debuted, many of the beloved characters are returning for Marvel Studios’ upcoming show “X-Men ’97,” coming to Disney+ in fall 2023 with a second season already confirmed.

“X-Men ’97” will continue the story of the original “Animated Series,” which ran from 1992 to 1997 on Fox Kids Network. “X-Men: The Animated Series” helped usher in the popularity of the mutant superheroes before Fox made the first live-action take on the team in 2000.

The new series will include Rogue, Beast, Gambit, Jean Grey, Wolverine, Storm, Jubilee and Cyclops. Magneto, now with long hair and a purple suit, will lead the X-Men. The animation, revealed at Comic Con on Friday, stays true to the original animated series, but looks more modern, updated and sleek.

Cable, Bishop, Forge, Morph and Nightcrawler will also join the X-Men onscreen. Battling them will be the (non-“Stranger Things”) Hellfire Club with Emma Frost and Sebastian Shaw, plus Mr. Sinister and Bolivar Trask will appear.

(11) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.  

1995 [By Cat Eldridge.] It is said that God made man in His image, but man fell from grace. Still, man has retained from his humble beginnings the innate desire to create, but how will man’s creations fair? Will they attain a measure of the divine or will they, too, fall from grace? — The Control Voice

Twenty-seven years ago, The Outer Limits’ “I, Robot” first aired on HBO. 

This is a remake of “I, Robot” that aired thirty-one years earlier. Leonard Nimoy, who played the reporter Judson Ellis in that episode, plays attorney Thurman Cutler in this version, a role played by Howard Da Silva in the original. This remake was directed by Nimoy’s son Adam Nimoy. 

Now “I, Robot” was written by Eando Binder, the pen name used by the SF authors, the late Earl Andrew Binder and his brother Otto Binder. They created a heroic robot named Adam Link. The first Adam Link story, published in 1939, is titled “I, Robot”. Adam Link, Robot, a collection of those stories, is available from the usual suspects. 

Robert C. Dennis who wrote the screenplay here would go on to write multiple episodes of Wild, Wild West and Batman. He was also one of the primary writers for the earlier Alfred Hitchcock Presents.

(12) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born July 23, 1888 Raymond Chandler. He of the Philip Marlowe series who I hold in very high esteem is listed by ISFDB as doing some stories of a genre nature, to be exact, ”The Bronze Door”, “The King In Yellow”, “Professor Bingo’s Snuff” and “English Summer: A Gothic Romance”. I’ve neither heard of nor read these. So who here has read them? (Died 1959.) 
  • Born July 23, 1914 Virgil Finlay. Castle of Frankenstein calls him “part of the pulp magazine history … one of the foremost contributors of original and imaginative artwork for the most memorable science fiction and fantasy publications of our time.”  His best-known covers are for Amazing Stories and Weird Tales. “Roads”, a novella by Seabury Quinn, published in the January 1938 Weird Tales, and featuring a cover and interior illustrations by him, was originally published in an extremely limited numbers by Arkham House in 1948. It’s now available on from the usual suspects. (Died 1971.)
  • Born July 23, 1938 Ronny Cox, 83. His first genre role was in RoboCop as OCP President Dick Jones who comes to a very bad end. Later roles were Gen. Balentine in Amazon Women on the Moon in “The Unknown Soldier” episode, Martians Go Home as the President, Total Recall as Vilos Cohaagen, Captain America as Tom Kimball and a recurring role for a decade on Stargate SG-1 as Senator Robert Kinsey/Vice President Robert Kinsey. 
  • Born July 23, 1957 Gardner Dozois. He was founding editor of The Year’s Best Science Fiction anthology and was editor of Asimov’s Science Fiction magazine for twenty years. He won fifteen Hugos for his editing and was nominated for others. He also won the Nebula Award for Best Short Story twice, once for “The Peacemaker” and once for “Morning Child”. Stories selected by him for his annual best-of-year volumes have won, as of several years ago, 44 Hugos, 32 Locus, 41 Nebulas, 18 Sturgeon Awards and 10 World Fantasy. Very impressive! (Died 2018.)
  • Born July 23, 1982 Tom Mison, 40. He is best known as Ichabod Crane on Sleepy Hollow which crosses-over into Bones. He’s Mr. Phillips in The Watchmen. It’s barely (if at all) genre adjacent but I’m going to note that he’s Young Blood in A Waste of Shame: The Mystery of Shakespeare and His Sonnets. Currently he’s got a main role in second season of the See SF series on Apple TV which has yet to come out. Apple hasn’t put out any publicity on it. 
  • Born July 23, 1989 Daniel Radcliffe, 33. Harry Potter of course. Also Victor Frankenstein’s assistant Igor in Victor Frankenstein, Ignatius Perrish in Horns, a horror film, and Rosencrantz in Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead at the Old Vic in London.  

(13) THIS ICE CREAM DOESN’T CUT THE MUSTARD. Well, actually, it does, and that’s the problem.The Takeout’s Brianna Wellen declares “This Grey Poupon Ice Cream Needs More Mustard”.

…As described in a press release sent to The Takeout, the Grey Poupon with Salted Pretzels is “An unexpected yet delightful blend of sweet ice cream, honey-dijon swirl, and salted pretzels.” It’s part of Van Leeuwen’s line of summer limited edition flavors, which also includes Campfire S’mores, Summer Peach Crisp, Honey Cornbread with Strawberry Jam, and Espresso Fior di Latte Chip. All of these flavors are available at Walmart until the end of the season.

… Even the smell of the ice cream was slightly mustardy—I was prepared for a real dijon bomb.

But the first scoop left some things to be desired. First, the mustard flavor is a little muddled and lost amidst the creaminess….

(14) STAR WARS SANS CULOTTES. Yes, it’s what you think it is: “I saw a ‘Star Wars’ strip show in SF, and I’m forever changed” says SFGate’s Ariana Bindman.

…With each draw of the curtain, we saw a series of burlesque acts that were visually decadent and tonally unique. Aside from Jabba the Hutt and captive Leia, my other personal favorite was when Sheev Palpatine — who looked absolutely grotesque thanks to a wrinkled blue-and-white skin suit — fully stripped and swung on a massive disco ball to Miley Cyrus’ “Wrecking Ball.” Just before that, R2-D2, resident space pimp, made it rain by ejecting wads of cash into the air while a braggadocious Han Solo undulated to “Smooth Criminal,” making every goth and nerd in the audience scream like animals…. 

(15) IT’S ABOUT TIME. “Strange new phase of matter created in quantum computer acts like it has two time dimensions” at Phys.org.

By shining a laser pulse sequence inspired by the Fibonacci numbers at atoms inside a quantum computer, physicists have created a remarkable, never-before-seen phase of matter. The phase has the benefits of two time dimensions despite there still being only one singular flow of time, the physicists report July 20 in Nature.

This mind-bending property offers a sought-after benefit: Information stored in the phase is far more protected against errors than with alternative setups currently used in quantum computers. As a result, the information can exist without getting garbled for much longer, an important milestone for making quantum computing viable, says study lead author Philipp Dumitrescu….

(16) KEEP WALKING. Yahoo! introduces the trailer shown at SDCC: “’Tales of the Walking Dead’ Trailer Shows How the Zombie Apocalypse Is Kind of Like COVID”.

…The trailer features elements from several of the show’s standalone stories that all paint a very stark picture of how the world fell — and honestly we’re reminded of a ton of the drama from the COVID-19 era, particularly the denialism, rugged individualist posturing, and the scapegoating.

For example, we see Parker Posey as an apparently well-to-do woman who straight up refuses to believe reports of a zombie apocalypse… of course, until it runs right up and bites her. Crews meanwhile plays a survivalist who lives an isolated, paranoid life, until he (for an as-yet unrevealed reason) ends up sheltering with Olivia Munn and gets called out. Will he change? We’ll have to find out….

(17) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In “Honest Game Trailers:  The Quarry,” Fandom Games, in a spoiler-packed episode, say this game about teenagers getting munched on in the quarry by monsters “is a B movie with AAA production values that has “two hours of story and eight hours of wandering around like a stoned teen.”  But the CGI is so lifelike that the characters are actors you almost recognize, including “That guy who was in the thing you saw once.”

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

Pixel Scroll 5/18/22 Fili, Scrolli, Pixeli – I Liked, Scrolled And Pixeled — Fiulius Pixar

(1) ANIME CENTRAL RELAXES MASK POLICY. Anime Central is a convention taking place in Chicago from May 20-22. At the end of April the con committee was adamant that for ACen 2022 they’d be requiring all attendees to wear a mask and provide proof of vaccination or a negative Covid test result, and that this policy would not change.

However, their Covid policy has changed after all, reports Anime News Network: “Anime Central 2022 Reverses Mask Policy, No Longer Requires COVID-19 Vaccination or Negative Test”. ANN says, “An e-mail sent by and to Anime Central staff suggests that this was a decision made by the Midwest Animation Promotion Society (MAPS) following ‘lack of support from the venue’ and ‘last-minute communication.’”

Anime Central has changed its Covid policy to read:

…Our policies are based on current CDC Guidelines and align with the requirements of the Donald E. Stephens Conventions Center and state and local health authorities regarding large indoor events. Currently, verification of vaccination or proof of negative test are not required for admission to the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center or Anime Central. We will continue to monitor the requirements and guidance from state and local health departments….

Face Coverings Required in Select Areas

In our recent vaccine and mask policy change announcement, we stated that face coverings may be required in some areas of Anime Central or at the request of our guests of honor at their events. We’ve received a lot of feedback for clarification on which areas and events will require a face covering and which do not. Face coverings will be required to enter:

  • All guest and panelist events
  • The Dances
  • The Exhibit Hall
  • The Artist Alley
  • The Gaming and Entertainment Hall

We strongly recommend wearing masks in all lobbies, hallways, public spaces, and restrooms. Our team will continue to do the best we can to help enforce this in our spaces, we ask that you also join in in masking even where it’s not required.

(2) A WARNING. “’Have we not loved you? Have we not cared for you?’: The Plight of AI in the Universe of Douglas Adams” examined by Rachel Taylor at the Tor/Forge Blog.

…When we think of the dangers of AI, we normally think of Skynet, HAL or AM. And sure, there is a non-zero chance that any Super AI might spend five minutes on the internet and think “ah, I see the problem. Where are those nuclear codes?” But honestly, if I had to place money on the science fiction writer who will prove most prophetic in depicting our future relationship with AI? Not Philip K. Dick. Not Harlan Ellison. Not Asimov.

Douglas Adams, all the way.

In the universe of the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and its sequels across all media the relationship between humanity and the various computers and robots they’ve created is less apocalyptic warfare and more like a miserably unhappy marriage….

(3) ROSWELL VOICES. Here are the celebrity readers for this weekend’s 2022 Roswell Award event. Register for the free Zoom presentation.

The Roswell Award and Feminist Futures Award: Celebrity Readings & Honors recognizes outstanding new works of science fiction by emerging writers from across the United States and worldwide, including the winner of this year’s feminist themed sci-fi story. This thrilling show will feature dramatic readings by celebrity guests from some of today’s hottest sci-fi and fantasy shows and movies. Following the readings, the authors will be honored for their writing! 

(4) AURORA VOTERS PACKAGE. Canadian Science Fiction & Fantasy Association members can now download the 2022 Aurora Awards Voters Package. Login (or join) at www.prixaurorawards.ca. Downloads remain available until voting closes on July 23.  Voting for the 2022 awards will begin on June 11.

Have you started reading works by this year’s finalists? We are pleased to announce that this year’s voters’ package contains either e-versions or links for every single one of our 2022 nominated works and is open to all CSFFA members to download.

The electronic versions of these works are being made available to you through the generosity of the nominees and their publishers. We are grateful for their participation and willingness to share with CSFFA members. Please remember, all downloads are for CSFFA members only and are not to be shared.

The purpose of the voters’ package is simple–before you vote for the awards, we want you to be able to experience as many of the nominated works as possible so you can make informed decisions.

(5) HEAR RHYSLING NOMINEES READ ALOUD. The second of three readings of the short poems nominated for the Rhysling Awards will be held on May 20, 2022 from 7:00 to 8:15 p.m. Eastern, live on Facebook via Zoom. tinyurl.com/Rhysling2

The Science Fiction and Fantasy Poetry Association presents the annual Rhysling Awards, named for the blind poet Rhysling in Robert A. Heinlein’s short story “The Green Hills of Earth.” Apollo 15 astronauts named a crater near their landing site “Rhysling,” which has since become its official name.

Nominees for each year’s Rhysling Awards are selected by the membership of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Poetry Association. For 2022, 103 short poems and 78 long poems were nominated.

The last reading of the nominated short poems in the Rhysling anthology will be held on June 6, 2022 from 7 to 8 p.m. EDT. The readings, hosted by Akua Lezli Hope, are free and open to the public. 

(6) THE FIRST TRAILER FOR SHE-HULK. “You’ll like her when she’s angry.” She-Hulk: Attorney at Law, an Original series from Marvel Studios, starts streaming August 17 on Disney+.

(7) HIGHER LEARNING. In the Washington Post, Mary Quattlebaum interviews Dhonielle Clayton about The Marvellers, her YA magic-school novel. “’The Marvellers’ by Dhonielle Clayton features a diverse school of magic”.

… “So many people said it couldn’t be done,” said Dhonielle (pronounced don-yell) Clayton about a novel set in a school of magic. “How can anyone compete with Harry Potter?”

Well, Clayton proved them wrong. “The Marvellers,” the first book in her new middle-grade series, was launched this month.

The boarding school — called the Arcanum Training Institute for Marvelous and Uncanny Endeavors — is quite different from the Hogwarts of J.K. Rowling’s global publishing phenomenon. It’s located in the sky rather than a mystical land that resembles the Scottish Highlands. Young magic folks from around the world are invited to attend.

Clayton’s inspiration came from a real school, one in New York City’s East Harlem neighborhood, where she was a librarian.

“The kids there were from different countries, different cultures,” said Clayton, who lives in the city. “They didn’t see themselves in the fantasy books they wanted to read.”

So for the past five years, Clayton devoted herself to researching and writing a book that might reflect and connect with those students — and so many like them, around the world….

(8) THOUGHTS AND PREYERS. Giant Freakin Robot assures us, “The Predator Actually Looks Good Again In The Trailer For New Movie Set 300 Years Ago”.

…Prey will stream on Hulu starting Friday, August 5. While it will technically be a prequel to the rest of the Predator films, it will reportedly not directly reference any of their events. Besides, you know. Having someone from the same freaky alien species hunting people down and murdering them….

The YouTube intro says:

Set in the Comanche Nation 300 years ago, “Prey” is the story of a young woman, Naru, a fierce and highly skilled warrior. She has been raised in the shadow of some of the most legendary hunters who roam the Great Plains, so when danger threatens her camp, she sets out to protect her people. The prey she stalks, and ultimately confronts, turns out to be a highly evolved alien predator with a technically advanced arsenal, resulting in a vicious and terrifying showdown between the two adversaries.

(9) MEMORY LANE.

2013 [By Cat Eldridge.] Ok I cannot do this essay without SPOILERS, so you are warned. Go away now if you haven’t read Ancillary Justice

Just nine years ago, Ancillary Justice, Ann Leckie’s debut novel came out. And oh what a novel it is! It’s the first in her Imperial Radch space opera trilogy, followed by Ancillary Sword and Ancillary Mercy. Breq is both the sole survivor of a starship destroyed by treachery by her own people and the carrier of that ship’s consciousness. What an amazing job Leckie does differentiating between those two characters.

Doing space opera that feels original is damn hard but she pulls it off here amazingly well. The very personal and the grand political are present here, balanced in a way and tangled together as well that is rarely done so intelligently. Genevieve Valentine of NPR in her review agrees with me saying that it is “A space opera that skillfully handles both choruses and arias, Ancillary Justice is an absorbing thousand-year history, a poignant personal journey, and a welcome addition to the genre.” 

Everyone in our community liked it as not only did it win a most deserved Hugo at Loncon 4, but it effectively swept the awards season garnering an Arthur C. Clarke Award, a BSFA Award, a Kitschies Golden Tentacle for Best Debut Novel, Locus Award for Best First Novel, a Nebula Award for Best Novel and a Seiun Award for Best Translated Novel. And it got nominated for a Compton Crook Award, Otherwise Award and Philip K. Dick Award.

The next two novels in this trilogy are just as stellar. Ancillary Sword got nominated for a Hugo at Sasquan, and Ancillary Mercy would get a nomination at MidAmericaCon.

The audioworks are narrated by Adjoa Andoh who appeared on Doctor Who as Francine Jones during the Time of the Tenth and Eleventh Doctors. They are quite superb. 

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born May 18, 1930 Fred Saberhagen. I’m reasonably sure I’ve read the entirety of his Berserker series though not in the order they were intended to be read. Some are outstanding, some less so. I’d recommend Berserker ManShiva in Steel and the original Berserker collection.  Of his Dracula sequence, the only one I think that I’veread is The Holmes-Dracula File which is superb. And I know I’ve read most of the Swords tales as they came out in various magazines.  His only Hugo nomination was at NYCon 3 for his “Mr. Jester” short story published in If, January 1966. (Died 2007.)
  • Born May 18, 1934 Elizabeth Rodgers. Yes, Nyota Uhura was the primary individual at the communications post but several others did staff it over the series. She appeared doing that as Lt. Palmer in two episodes, “The Doomsday Machine” and “The Way to Eden”.  She was The Voice of The Companion in a third episode, “Metamorphosis”. She would also appear in The Time Tunnel, Land of The Giants and Bewitched. (Died 2004.)
  • Born May 18, 1946 Andreas Katsulas. I knew him as the amazing Ambassador G’Kar on Babylon 5 but had forgottenhe played played the Romulan Commander Tomalak on Star Trek: The Next Generation. I’m reasonably sure that his first genre role on television was playing Snout in A Midsummer Night’s Dream and he had a recurring role in Max Headroom as Mr. Bartlett. He also had appearances on Alien NationThe Death of the Incredible HulkMillenniumStar Trek: Enterprise anda voice role on The Real Adventures of Jonny Quest. Screw the damn frelling Reaper for taking him far too soon.  (Died 2006.)
  • Born May 18, 1948 R-Laurraine Tutihasi, 74. She’s a member of LASFS and the N3F. She publishes Feline Mewsings for FAPA. She won the N3F’s Kaymar Award in 2009. Not surprisingly, she’s had a number of SJW creds in her life and her website here gives a look at her beloved cats and a lot of information on her fanzines. 
  • Born May 18, 1952 Diane Duane, 70. She’s known for the Young Wizards YA series though I’d like to single her out for her lesser-known Feline Wizards series where SJW creds maintain the gates that wizards use for travel throughout the multiverse. A most wonderful thing for felines to do! Her Tale of the Five series was inducted into the Gaylactic Spectrum Award Hall of Fame in 2003. She also has won The Faust Award for Lifetime Achievement given by The International Association of Media Tie-In Writers. 
  • Born May 18, 1958 Jonathan Maberry, 64. The only thing I’ve read by him is the first five or six novels in the Joe Ledger Series which has an extremely high body count and an even higher improbability index. Popcorn reading with a Sriracha sauce.  I see that he’s done scripts for Dark Horse, IDW and Marvel early on. And that he’s responsible for Captain America: Hail Hydra which I remember as quite excellent. Not surprisingly, he’s won Stoker Awards and nominated for at least a dozen more. 
  • Born May 18, 1969 Ty Franck, 53. Half of the writing team along with Daniel Abraham that s James Corey, author of the now-completed Expanse series. I’ll admit that I’ve fallen behind by a volume or two as there’s just too many good series out there too keep up with all of them, damn it, but now that it’s ended I intend to finish it. The Expanse won the Best Series Hugo at CoNZealand. The “Nemesis Games” episode of The Expanse is nominated at Chicon 8 for a Hugo as have two episodes previously. 

(11) FREE READ. “Grant Morrison Releases a Sci-Fi Comic He Made Back in the ’80s” and Gizmodo invites you to read it in a slideshow presented at the link.

Grant Morrison, multiple award-winning writer of acclaimed comic books like All-Star Superman, The Invisibles, Doom Patrol, New X-Men, Batman, and many many more, had a special gift released this past Free Comic Book Day. In wasn’t a new title; in fact, it was quite the opposite—a 40-year-old short story he’d written and drawn in the very early stages of his career. While Morrison originally posted it on their SubStack, we’re absolutely honored to be able to republish it on io9.

(12) A KALEIDOSCOPIC AUDIENCE. Charles Payseur, who now is reviewing short fiction for Locus and stepped away from his epic Quick Sip Reviews blog, speaks openly about how public expectations whipsaw critics. Thread starts here.

(13) ABANDONED LAUNDRY. The Guardian’s Lucy Mangan says, “Steven Moffat’s adaptation of Audrey Niffenegger’s 2003 bestseller is witty and well done, but it can’t overcome the novel’s depressingly old-fashioned and iffy implications.” – “The Time Traveler’s Wife review – far too much ick factor to be truly great”.

…He [The Time Traveler] learns to find his feet (and some clothes) a little faster each time. In the course of his many unchronological journeys, he meets his soulmate, Clare. They are wrenched repeatedly from each other’s arms to reunite weeks, months or years later in more or less romantic scenarios, depending on their ages at the time.

It is, in short, guff of a high order. But the new six‑part adaptation (Sky Atlantic) by Steven Moffat (a longtime fan of the book, which he used as inspiration for the Doctor Who episode The Girl in the Fireplace) does it proud. He takes the melodrama down a notch and salts the schmaltz with wit where he can.

Nonetheless, an emetic framing device remains….

(14) TELL NASA WHAT YOU THINK. “NASA Seeks Input on Moon to Mars Objectives, Comments Due May 31”.

As NASA moves forward with plans to send astronauts to the Moon under Artemis missions to prepare for human exploration of Mars, the agency is calling on U.S. industry, academia, international communities, and other stakeholders to provide input on its deep space exploration objectives. 

NASA released a draft set of high-level objectives Tuesday, May 17, identifying 50 points falling under four overarching categories of exploration, including transportation and habitation; Moon and Mars infrastructure; operations; and science. Comments are due to the agency by close of business on Tuesday, May 31. 

“The feedback we receive on the objectives we have identified will inform our exploration plans at the Moon and Mars for the next 20 years,” said Deputy Administrator Pam Melroy. “We’re looking within NASA and to external stakeholders to help us fine-tune these objectives and be as transparent as possible throughout our process. With this approach, we will find potential gaps in our architecture as well as areas where our goals align with those from industry and international partners for future collaboration.”   

(15) WEIRDO CEREAL NEWS. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] Not even kids stoked on sugar wanted to see creepy creatures staring at them from the cereal bowl, so I bought a box on the half-price shelf today. “Minecraft” at Kellogg’s.

(16) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] The Blue Peter gang drive a full-scale Thunderbirds Fab-1 complete with a rotating license plate, machine gun, and a closed-circuit TV set in this 1968 BBC clip that dropped yesterday.

Blue Peter presenters Valerie Singleton, John Noakes and Peter Purves bring a fully-functioning life-size replica of Lady Penelope’s iconic Rolls-Royce, FAB 1 into the studio.

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