Pixel Scroll 1/23/23 You Can Make The Scene On The Mezzanine, But Don’t Scroll In The Pixels

Android Jones. Photo by Greg Preston. From Jones’ appearance at Spectrum Fantastic Art Live! in 2012.

(1) HELP ARTIST RECOVER FROM STUDIO FIRE. [Item by Arnie Fenner.] Artist Andrew “Android” Jones’ studio burned down on January 18. I posted a little about it on Muddy Colors, “Android Jones Fundraiser”, and you can see some photos of his studio (before and after) in his GoFundMe page.

Several days ago a distinguished member of our art family experienced every artists’ nightmare: Andrew “Android” Jones’ studio burnt to the ground in a devastating fire. The studio, built by Andrew’s father, was separate from his home and contained all of his computers, back-up files, printers, sketchbooks, business records, traditional paintings and drawings, and his library. Thankfully Andrew and his family are safe, but everything in the studio was lost.

As one of the world’s most innovative artists—someone who was a leader of the “immersive experience” so popular today with his projections on the Empire State Building, the Sydney Opera House and at Burning Man, someone whose innovations with Painter and Photoshop pushed the boundaries and possibilities of digital art—Android’s loss is a loss for us all.

GoFundMe: “Fundraiser by Andrew Jones : Android Jones Studio Fire”.

Here’s a bit from his bio:

Best described as a “digital painter,” Jones has created an immense body of work. He has become well known for his many layered, psychedelic works and live performances using a custom built digital set up. He participated in the Grateful Dead Fare Thee Well Tour and his work has been projected on the Sydney Opera House and the Empire State Building. A long time member of the Burning Man community, Android has traveled the world exhibiting his work and has contributed to events on 6 continents.

Andrew’s art appeared on the cover of Spectrum #14 and was featured in a show at the Smithsonian: “Android Jones” at Smithsonian American Art Museum.

(2) COZY. [Item by Cora Buhlert.] My Semiprozine Spotlight project never really took off the way the other spotlights did, but I just posted another one today, featuring Wyngraf Magazine of Cozy Fantasy.

Tell us about your magazine.

Wyngraf is a magazine of cozy fantasy short fiction—as far as I know, the first of its kind. Cozy fantasy focuses on low-stakes stories, often with themes of home and community. They can be simple slice-of-life tales or feature some conflict, but they’re never about toppling kingdoms or preventing the world from ending and they’re rarely solved with violence. They’re often set at home, though when they go off wandering we call that “backpack fantasy” and still count it. Our stories always give readers worlds they’d love to live in and endings that leave them feeling warm and, well, cozy!

(3) EARLY HORROR AFICIANADO. Bobby Derie has dug up an 18th century piece of horror criticism: “’On the Pleasure derived from Objects of Terror; with Sir Bertrand, a Fragment’ (1773) by Anna Laetitia Aikin & John Aikin” – Deep Cuts in a Lovecraftian Vein at Deep Cuts in a Lovecraftian Vein.

Anna Laetitia Aikin was born in 1743; her father was a Presbyterian minister and the headmaster of a boy’s school, and both Anna and her brother John Aikin received solid educations, which led to their careers in letters—Anna being noted for working in multiple genres, and earned a reputation as a poet and author. One of her earliest publications was Miscellaneous Pieces in Prose (1773), published jointly with her brother. Among the contents of this volume is “On the Pleasure derived from Objects of Terror; with Sir Bertrand, a Fragment.”

The essay is one of the early English works on the subject of the horror story, and much of it is as insightful today as it was two and a half centuries ago…

(4) JMS ON B5. J. Michael Straczynski has released another Babylon 5 episode commentary track on YouTube: “Babylon 5: Severed Dreams”

A new sync-up commentary sponsored by my Patrons (if you’d like to lend your support you can do so the Patreon page noted above) for Severed Dreams, the third episode of the Messages from Earth trilogy. Best listened to by playing this on your iphone or tablet while the episode unspools on the TV in front of you.

(5) LOCUS GETS GRANT. “CLMP Names US Literary Publishers’ ‘Capacity-Building’ Grants” reports Publishing Perspectives. Locus Magazine is one of the grant recipients.

CLMP, the nonprofit Community of Literary Magazines and Presses in the United States, has announced extensive funding to 43 independent nonprofit literary magazines and presses. Each of these grantees has been chosen to receive two-year “capacity-building” grants of US$2,500 to $25,000 per year, meaning that each company listed will get, in total, between $5,000 and $50,000….

(6) MEMORY LANE.

1991 [Compiled by Cat Eldridge.] Emma Bull’s Bone Dance

There’s a nice riff on gardening, on growing food, in Emma Bull’s Bone Dance when Sparrow is in a community outside the city. 

I used to read, when I could still read novels, this Hugo-nominated work at least every few years as it’s one of my favorite novels. It’s got great characters, especially the gender ambiguous Sparrow, a fascinating setting that’s based according to her on our Minneapolis and an absolutely stellar story. 

I do have a signed copy of it as I do Finder and two copies of War for The Oaks, one just after her unfortunate accident and one much later one. And yes, she is on the chocolate gifting list. Surely you aren’t at all surprised by that. 

Here’s the quote. 

As my endurance came back, and my flexibility, I began to walk instead of sit. Outside the second ring of houses (my estimate had been low; there were thirty-nine), I found barns and sheds and stables and workshops. Beyond those were pastureland and cultivated fields. Grain did its foot-rooted wind dance there; corn thrashed its jungle leaves; beans waggled long green or purple or yellow fingers; summer squash ripened furiously in a pinwheel of tropical-looking vegetation. Here, too, there were always people, cultivating, hoeing weeds, spreading things, raking things, trimming, harvesting. It all seemed as ritual as a pre-Bang Catholic mass, and as intelligible to outsiders.

Work 

One morning, when I’d gone farther than I had before and was feeling the effects, I sat down in the shade of a tree next to a field. Five people were hoeing up and down the rows of something I didn’t recognize. One of them reached the end of the row nearest me, looked up, smiled, and came over.

“Hi,” she said, dropping down onto the grass. “Sparrow, isn’t it? I’m Kris.” She pulled her straw hat off to reveal a brush of hair the color of the hat. She tugged a bandanna out of her pocket and wiped her face with it; then she unclipped a flask from her belt and poured some of the contents over the bandanna. She draped that over her head like a veil and jammed the hat back on. “Funny-looking,” she said with a grin, when she saw me watching the process. “But it does the trick. The evaporating water keeps your head cool.”

“Looks like hard work,” I said, nodding back out into the sun.

“Goddess, it is. Especially this part of the year. Harvesting isn’t any easier, but it’s more fun, and you have something to show for it right away. Every year about now I start wishing it was winter.”

This was a reasonable line of conversation, not too personal. “What is that out there?”

“Sugar beets. We voted to do ’em this year instead of tobacco, thank Goddess. Don’t get me wrong—I love to smoke. But I’ll pay for my tobacco and be glad to. It’s a good cash crop, but the hand labor is murder, and no matter how careful we are, we always have trouble with the tomatoes when we grow it. Turns out we’ll make as much on the beets, anyway, so I can afford to buy my smokes.”

(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born January 23, 1923 Walter M. Miller Jr. He’s best remembered for A Canticle for Leibowitz, the only novel he published in his lifetime. Terry Bisson would finish off the completed draft that he left of Saint Leibowitz and the Wild Horse Woman, a sequel of sorts to the first novel. He did a fair amount of short fiction as well. He’s poorly represented both from the usual suspects and in the dead tree sense as well beyond A Canticle for Leibowitz. (Died 1996.)
  • Born January 23, 1933 Emily Banks, 90. She played Yeoman Tonia Barrows in the absolutely splendid “Shore Leave”.  Though her acting career was brief, ending twenty years later, she shows up on Mr. Terrific, a series I’ve never heard of, Fantasy IslandThe Wild Wild WestBewitched, the original Knight Rider, Highway to Heaven and Air Wolf.
  • Born January 23, 1939 Greg and Tim Hildebrandt. Greg is aged 84, but Tim passed seventeen years ago. I’d say best known for their very popular and ubiquitous Lord of the Rings calendar illustrations, also for illustrating comics for Marvel Comics and DC Comics. They also did a lot of genre covers so I went to ISFDB and checked to see if I recognized any. I certainly did. There was Zelazny’s cover of My Name is Legion, Tolkien’s Smith of Wooton Major and Farmer Giles of Ham and Poul Anderson’s A Knight of Ghosts and Shadows. Nice. (Tim Hildebrandt died 2006.)
  • Born January 23, 1943 Gil Gerard, 80. Captain William “Buck” Rogers in Buck Rogers in the 25th Century which I fondly remember as a really truly great SF series even if it really wasn’t that great. He also shows up in the very short lived E.A.R.T.H. Force as Dr. John Harding, and he’s General Morgenstern in Reptisaurus, a movie title that proves someone had a serious lack of imagination that day. In Bone Eater, a monster film that Bruce Boxleitner also shows up in as Sheriff Steve Evans, he plays Big Jim Burns, the Big Bad. Lastly, I’d like to note that he got to play Admiral Sheehan in the “Kitumba” episode of fan created Star Trek: New Voyages.
  • Born January 23, 1944 Rutger Hauer. Roy Batty In Blade Runner of course but did you know he was Lothos In Buffy the Vampire Slayer? That I’d forgotten. He’s also William Earle in Batman Begins, Count Dracula himself in Dracula III: Legacy, Captain Etienne Navarre in Ladyhawke, the vey evil John Ryder in The Hitcher, Abraham Van Helsing in Dracula 3D, King Zakour in, and no I didn’t know they’d done this film, The Scorpion King 4: Quest for Power and finally let’s note his involvement in Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets as President of the World State Federation. (Died 2019.)
  • Born January 23, 1950 Richard Dean Anderson, 73. Yes I am counting MacGyver as genre you can say it is open to debate if you want. His main and rather enduring SF role was as Jack O’Neill in the many Stargate small universe series. Well Stargate SG-1 really as he only briefly showed up on Stargate Universe and Stargate Atlantis whereas he did one hundred and seventy-three episodes of SG-1. Wow. Now his only other SF role lasted, err, twelve episodes in which he played Enerst Pratt alias Nicodemus Legend in the most excellent Legend co-starring John de Lancie. Yeah, I really liked it. Too bad it got cancelled so fast. 
  • Born January 23, 1950 David Feldman, 73. Before authoring the “Imponderables” series, David Feldman taught the first-ever college course on soap operas at Bowling Green State University (OH), at that time the only school in the world with a postgraduate degree in popular culture. That’s where Mike Glyer met him. After Feldman took his talents to the University of Maryland in pursuit of a Ph.D., where the soap opera class blew up into a 350-student draw, he worked in New York in the programming department of NBC, in both daytime and primetime programming until he decided writing books was a more attractive idea. Imponderables, the first in the 11-book series, came out in 1986. And once upon a time, he even ran Wolfman Jack’s campaign for president. (OGH)
  • Born January 23, 1954 – Craig Miller, age 67.  Ray Bradbury suggested he join LASFS (Los Angeles Science Fantasy Society).  Of course I put that first, what Website do you think this is?  CM soon earned the LASFS’ Evans-Freehafer Award (service).  Co-chaired Equicon ’74, Westercon 28, L.A.con II the 42nd Worldcon; chaired Loscon 12.  Fan Guest of Honor, Westercon 41, Loscon 27 (with wife Genny Dazzo), Baycon 2006, Boskone 55.  With Marv Wolfman co-created and produced Pocket Dragon Adventures.  Memoir of work with Lucasfilms Star Wars Adventures.  Three hundred television writer and producer credits.  Writers Guild of America West’s Animation Writers Caucus Animation Writing Award.  [JH]
  • Born January 23, 1964 Mariska Hargitay, 59. First, I must note she is the lead cast member as Olivia Benson of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, now in its twenty-fourth season, the longest running scripted series currently on television. Did you know she’s the daughter of Jayne Mansfield? I certainly didn’t. Her first film appearance was as Donna in Ghoulies which is a seriously fun film. Later genre creds are limited but include playing Marsha Wildmon in the Freddy’s Nightmares – A Nightmare on Elm Street: The Series. She also plays Myra Okubo in the Lake Placid film and voices Tenar in the not very good, indeed truly awful, Tales from Earthsea. Bad, bad idea. 

(8) REVISITING APPENDIX N. [Item by Cora Buhlert.] The good folks of Goodman Games are profiling more early 20th century SFF authors who appear in Appendix N of the original D&D Dungeon Master handbook:

 James Maliszewski profiles Abraham Merritt: “Adventures in Fiction: Abraham Merritt”.

Of all the literary influences on D&D and DCC RPG, Abraham Merritt is perhaps the “most-influential of the least-known.” His work is rarely read in this modern time, yet he is named by Gary Gygax as one of “the most immediate influences on AD&D. Today, on January 20, 2020, the 136th anniversary of his birth, we provide a little more insight into this little-read but well-deserving author. You can also learn about all the Appendix N authors by listening to the Appendix N Book Club. For Merritt in particular, his most famous work, The Moon Pool, was recently covered in a special session on the Appendix N Podcast in which Joseph Goodman participated. You can find more about it HERE.

Michael Curtis profiles Clark Ashton Smith: “Appendix N Archaeology: Clark Ashton Smith”.

…While we cannot fault Gygax for not including certain names, we can, however, dig deeper into the authors he does list and examine where they drew their influences from. In the process, we discover that some of the names that people grumble about over their absence, are in fact representative in the works of those that are present. One of these influencers of the influencers is the third name from “the big three of Weird Tales”—Clark Ashton Smith….

Ngo Vinh-Hoi profiles John Bellairs: “Adventures in Fiction: John Bellairs”.

…Many years later a fan asked Bellairs about his time in England only to have him reply “I lived for a year in Bristol [England], and it was the most miserable year of my life.” Bellairs’s misery was everyone else’s good fortune though, as this is when he wrote The Face in the Frost….

(9) COMPARE AND CONTRAST. Also at Goodman Games, Bill Ward contrasts those archetypical adventurers Conan and Elric: “Archetypes of Adventure: Conan and Elric”.

Few characters in fantasy are as iconic as Conan the Cimmerian: black-haired barbarian warrior with the deadly grace of a panther and the impressive physique of a prize fighter, a wanderer, a reaver, and a king by his own hand. Michael Moorcock’s Elric of Melnibone perhaps rivals Conan in terms of iconic status (if not exactly in market saturation), perhaps in part due to his deliberate inversion of many of Conan’s characteristics….

(10) SHE KNOWS. “We Think Rian Johnson’s Poker Face Is a Superhero Show, and He’s OK With That” says Gizmodo at the top of its interview with the director.

Columbo. Kojak. Murder, She Wrote. These are the shows most commonly mentioned when describing Peacock’s new show, Poker Face. And, it being from Rian Johnson, the mastermind behind the Knives Out films (as well as The Last Jedi), the comparisons are accurate and logical. Poker Face is, at its core, about a woman named Charlie (Natasha Lyonne) who travels the country and solves murders.

But there’s a twist. Charlie is a human lie detector. She can instinctively tell, for a fact, if a person is lying about something. So if you step back and describe that in a different way you might say she has an innate, unexplained power that makes her superior to others. Or, in other words, a superpower….

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Chris Barkley, Andrew Porter, Arnie Fenner, John Hertz, Daniel Dern, Cora Buhlert, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, and Mike Kennedy for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Jim Janney.]

Pixel Scroll 11/15/22 One Scroll, Furnished In Early Pixelry

(1) LOCUS OPENS CROWDFUNDING APPEAL. At Tor.com LP Kindred declares “Locus Magazine Is Essential to the SFF Community” which is why you should support its Indiegogo appeal. Donors have responded by giving $17,064 of the $75,000 flexible goal on the first day.

… After 54 years of speculative fiction journalism, we are in danger of losing Locus Magazine. With the rising costs of physical publishing, the mass exodus toward digital, and the rising costs of living, the margins at Locus narrow from month to month. And if no one takes action, we could lose this resource in less than a year.

Contributing reviewers return to publishing reviews for free. The six full-time staff members lose their salaries and benefits. Our community loses the Locus Awards and the honor of the Recommended Reading List. We lose a breadth of speculative journalism including short story and book reviews, spotlights, interviews, acquisition announcements, cover reveals, press releases, articles, essays for, by, and about people in speculative fiction.

I won’t pretend I had a Locus subscription when I got this news. To the contrary, I thought I had time. I thought that was something you acquired when you were farther along in your career. But it’s become clear that if we don’t start contributing to speculative fiction institutions, they might not be here when we think we’re ready for them and they definitely won’t be around for the generations of writers behind mine.

The brass at Locus is dreaming up new ways to be of service to the community at the same time that it’s searching for ways to sustain. By the time you’re reading this, the Indiegogo campaign will be live. There’s a subscription drive in the offing as well as an auction.

In the same way that readership and fundraising are the lifeblood of so many magazines we aspire to and love to read as fiction readers and writers, this journalistic institution needs you and I to help it keep its pages open. It is an archive of science fiction past and present, and Locus needs us to help it carry us into the future.

(2) BACK TO THE FUTURE. Martin Wisse says he is ready to march “Into the glorious future of blogging made possible by Elon Musk – Wis[s]e Words (cloggie.org) at Wis[s]e Words.

Due to the glorious future Twitter is being dragged kicking and screaming into thanks to the inspired leadership of Elon Musk, suupergenius, UI thought it was time to give the ol’ blog a bit of attention again. Not that I haven’t been blogging semi-regularly, but whereas a decade ago I’d hit a post a day fairly regularly, the past couple of years I’ve lucky to get into double digits in a given month. Mostly focused on anime too, as for political and other writing Twitter was just too handy. But if Twitter is going away, will blogs make a comeback?…

(3) SFWA STORYBUNDLE. The SFWA Magical Mysteries StoryBundle of novels with characters that ask “What Am I Doing Here?” is available for through November 30.

The Magical Mysteries StoryBundle features ten fantasy books that have protagonists shaking their heads and wondering how the heck they got into this, whether “this” is discovering a dragon in a coal mine or that they’ve found themselves in a nightmarish game of chess. Join us for tales of burgeoning magic, portal fantasies, strange creatures and … you guessed it: characters who have no idea what’s going on.   

SFWA StoryBundles are collections of ebooks curated by the SFWA Indie Authors Committee and offered at a discounted price. Readers decide what price they want to pay. For $5 (or more, if they’re feeling generous), they get the core bundle of four books in any ebook format available—WORLDWIDE! 

  • The Dragon’s Playlist by Laura Bickle
  • Jester by Geoff Hart
  • Dragon Dreams by Chris A. Jackson
  • Ritual of the Ancients by Roan Rosser

If they pay at least $20, they get all four of the core books, plus six more books, for a total of ten! 

  • The Sister Paradox by Jack Campbell
  • Sorrow and Joy by D.R. Perry
  • Revise The World by Brenda W. Clough
  • The Year’s Midnight by Rachel Neumeier
  • Pawn’s Gambit by Darin Kennedy
  • Spindled by Shanna Swendson

Readers will gain a rich library of fantasy ebooks and can opt to donate part of their purchase price to support SFWA’s ongoing work to promote and support speculative fiction genres and writers. 

(4) SKEPTICISM. The Guardian’s Ismene Ormonde asks “Inspirational passion or paid-for promotion: can BookTok be taken on face value?”

BookTok, the nickname for TikTok videos in which books are discussed, analysed, cried about and turned into “aesthetic” moodboards, began as a small group of the app’s users who wanted a place to talk about books. It has since grown into a hugely influential community that has the power to pluck authors out of relative obscurity and propel them into the bestsellers charts.

Earlier this month it was named FutureBook Person of the Year, an accolade which recognises digital innovation and excellence across the book trade. According to James Stafford, Head of Partnerships and Community at TikTok, BookTok is a community of “creative people around the world with a shared passion for literature”. Publishers, creators and writers have generally agreed that this corner of the platform has had an overwhelmingly positive effect, having led to huge increases in book sales and the discovery of new writers. The Bookseller even recently called it “the last safe place on the internet”….

(5) IMAGINARY PAPERS. The ASU Center for Science and the Imagination has published the latest issue of Imaginary Papers, their quarterly newsletter on science fiction worldbuilding, futures thinking, and imagination.

The issue features an essay by the artist, researcher, and critic Zoyander Street on the 2017 BBC utopian film Carnage, and another on Adolfo Bioy Casares’ 1940 novel The Invention of Morel, by writer, podcaster, and lawyer Jason Tashea, who works on the future of criminal justice. There’s also a brief writeup of Vice Motherboard’s anthology Terraform: Watch/Worlds/Burn.

Carnage (2017)

The year is 2067. A diverse polycule of androgynous young people, wearing what appears to be glittering eye makeup, walk hand in hand through a sunny field, glass pyramids shining on the horizon. Comedian Simon Amstell narrates: “Though we rarely think about it, Britain is now raising the most peaceful and happy humans ever. Violence has been defeated with compassion, depression cured with intimacy.”

Carnage is a feature-length mockumentary written and directed by Amstell, and published on the BBC’s iPlayer in March 2017. In its utopian future, British people now live in harmony with nature and do not eat meat or animal products. Audiences are invited to reflect on Britain’s history of “carnism,” a term adopted to refer to the archaic practice of eating animals and animal-derived products. Their history is our present, so the film is a darkly comic appraisal of intergenerational trauma in the making. Characters represent the perspectives of different generations: millennial seniors undergo group therapy to process their shame at having participated in a system of abuse, while the generation reaching adulthood in the 2060s tries to make sense of the atrocities committed by their parents and grandparents….

(6) MEMORY LANE.

1951 [By Cat Eldridge.] Strangers on a Train 

Seventy-one years ago, Strangers on a Train premiered. It’s a classic film noir which was produced and directed by Alfred Hitchcock.

It was based on the Strangers on a Train novel by Patricia Highsmith that she had written just the previous year. Hitchcock secured the rights to the novel for only $7,500 since it was her first novel. As per his practice, he kept his name out of the negotiations to keep the purchase price low. Naturally she was quite angry when she later discovered who bought the rights for such a pitiful amount.

IF YOU DON’T LIKE SPOILERS, MAY I SUGGEST YOU GO TO THE BAR NOW? 

On a train, two strangers meet and swap the idea of murders — Bruno, who is actually a psychopath, suggests he kill Guy’s wife Miriam and Guy kill Bruno’s hated father. Each will murder a stranger, with no apparent motive, so neither will be suspected. The perfect murders. Or so they think oh so smugly.

Apparently they vary out the murders, or do they? Miriam shows up alive, Guy actually has no attention of killing Bruno’s father which leads to, of all things a fight between them on carnival wheel that mortally wounds .Bruno

I’ve no idea why the psychopath didn’t kill his victim, nor does Hitchcock give us a clue. 

Sometime later, another stranger on a train attempts to strike up conversation with Guy in the same way as had Bruno with Guy, about Anne, the daughter of the US Senator he wants to marry (which is why he wants to kill his still alive wife — don’t think about that too long) but Guy turns and walks away from him.

ENJOY YOUR DRINK IN THE BAR? COME ON BACK. 

Hitchcock hated the leads, Farley Granger as Guy Haines,  Ruth Roman as Anne Morton and Robert Walker as Bruno, as the Studio which paid for the production would be the one that choose the performers. He openly scorned Ruth Roman throughout the production saying she was “lacking in sex appeal”. 

(Warner Bros. wanted their own stars, already under contract, cast wherever possible. All studios did this because it was considerably cheaper than hiring freelancers. Hitchcock of course thought money was no object and bitterly complained.) 

Though critics at the time were at best lukewarm, audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes are giving it a ninety eight percent rating. And it did great at the box office — the production costs were just one point six million dollars and it made seven million in its initial run. Very impressive. 

(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born November 15, 1877 William Hope Hodgson. By far, his best known character is Thomas Carnacki, featured in several of his most famous stories and at least partly based upon Algernon Blackwood’s occult detective John Silence. (Simon R. Green will make use of him in his Ghost Finders series.)  Two of his later novels, The House on the Borderland and The Night Land would be lavishly praised by H.P. Lovecraft. While serving as a Lieutenant in the army, he was killed by the direct impact of an artillery shell at the Fourth Battle of Ypres in April 1918. (Died 1918.)
  • Born November 15, 1879 Lewis Stone. He was Lord John Roxton in The Lost World which premiered here in 1925 making it one of the earliest cinematic adaptations of the Sir Arthur Conan Doyle novel. If you define Treasure Island as genre, that’s his only other genre role where he’s Captain Smollett. (Died 1953.)
  • Born November 15, 1929 Ed Asner. Genre work includes roles on Alfred Hitchcock PresentsThe Outer Limits, Voyage to the Bottom of the SeaThe Girl from U.N.C.L.E.The InvadersThe Wild Wild WestMission: ImpossibleShelley Duvall’s Tall Tales & LegendsBatman: The Animated Series and I’ll stop there as the list goes on for quite awhile. (Died 2021.)
  • Born November 15, 1933 Theodore Roszak. Winner of the Tiptree Award for The Memoirs of Elizabeth Frankenstein (1995), and the rather excellent Flicker which is well worth reading. Flicker is available at the usual suspects, and his only other available fiction is his Japanese folktales. Odd. (Died 2011.)
  • Born November 15, 1934 Joanna Barnes. Genre work includes roles on Planet of the Apes TV series and Fantasy Island. (Died 2022.)
  • Born November 15, 1942 Ruth Berman, 80. She’s a writer of mostly speculative poetry. In 2003, she won the Rhysling Award for Best Short Poem for “Potherb Gardening”, and in 2016 for “Time Travel Vocabulary Problems”.  She was the winner of the 2006 Dwarf Stars Award for her poem “Knowledge Of”.  She’s also written one YA fantasy novel, Bradamant’s quest. In 1973, she was a finalist for the first Astounding Award for Best New Writer. She edited the Dunkiton Press genre zine for a decade or so.  She was nominated for Best Fan Writer Hugo at Baycon (1968). Impressive indeed. 
  • Born November 15, 1972 Jonny Lee Miller, 50. British actor and director who played Sherlock Holmes on the exemplary Elementary series, but his first genre role was as a  nine year-old with the Fifth Doctor story, “Kinda”. While he’s had a fairly steady stage, film, and TV career across the pond since then, it’s only in the last decade that he’s become well-known in the States – unless, like JJ, you remember that twenty-three years ago he appeared in a technothriller called Hackers, with another unknown young actor named Angelina Jolie (to whom he ended up married, until they separated eighteen months months later). Other genre appearances include a trio of vampire films, Dracula 2000Dark Shadows, and Byzantium, the live-action Æon Flux movie, and the lead in the pseudo-fantasy TV series Eli Stone. (JJ) 

(8) NO NEWS MAY BE GOOD NEWS. J. Michael Straczyski told Twitter “’Babylon 5′ reboot could still happen, if we’re patient” reports SYFY Wire.

It’s been a little more than a year since news of a potential reboot of Babylon 5 surfaced over at The CW. Since then things have stalled in a big way, and remained stalled as The CW goes through major changes after its purchase by Nexstar Media Group. So, what does all that upheaval mean for our chances at more B5? According to creator J. Michael Straczynski, it means we wait, and it’s as simple as that….

(9) THE UPSIDE DOWN. If you’re in LA and have a few extra bucks, you can enter into “Stranger Things: The Experience”.

EVER WANTED TO BE THE PROTAGONIST OF A STRANGER THINGS ADVENTURE?

Your chance has arrived. Stranger Things: The Experience throws you headfirst into your favorite show —join Eleven, Dustin, Mike, Lucas, Max, and Will for a very special episode starring… you! Venture inside Hawkins Lab for a 45 mins. immersive experience featuring a brand-new Stranger Things storyline, then explore an 80’s-themed Mix-Tape medley with food & drinks, special merchandise, photo ops, and much more.

(10) THEIR COPYEDITOR MUST BE MY COUSIN. [Item by Daniel Dern.] From a tech PR email pitch:

Subject: Hackers using stenography for malware attacks – expert source

Daniel Dern adds, “They did get the term correct within the text – ‘steganography’ – and their response to my politely noting the hiccup, was as I expected, ‘Damn autocorrect!’”

(11) A GAME THAT TEACHES BIODIVERSITY PROTECTION. Nature Kin is a collaborative card game to help young people and families cultivate ecological literacy. The game puts players in charge of an open space where they and their friends race to find a home for 28 different native plants, animals, and insects.

Patrick Coleman (assistant director, Clarke Center) created the game with the help of his two young daughters, who adore the abundant nature we have in San Diego County: one of the top ten biodiversity hotspots in the country.

They have launched an Indiegogo campaign to help bring that game to the world and as of today it has raised $783 of the $1500 flexible goal.

Also, for every set purchased during the Indiegogo campaign, they will donate one set to a young person through a school or community outreach program, doubling your impact, and donate $5 to Project Wildlife (part of the San Diego Humane Society), a wildlife rehabilitation program that gives injured, orphaned, and sick wild animals a second chance at life.

(12) LOCAL STONES. Here’s a flyby comparison of all the moons of Uranus and Neptune – except the flyby is set above a familiar cityscape for real impact. I never knew how many moons look more like potatoes than billiard balls.

All known moons of the planets Uranus and Neptune, arranged in order of size. Uranus has 27 moons discovered so far and Neptune has 14. Some moons are known with Triton, Miranda or Titania, but there are many more smaller moons that are little known.

[Thanks to JJ, John King Tarpinian, Chris Barkley, Joey Eschrich, Rich Lynch, 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 Andrew (not Werdna).]

Pixel Scroll 9/19/22 Secret File Wars: The Rise Of Timothy

(1) BUGLER, SOUND REBOOTS AND SADDLES! “J. Michael Straczynski Rallies Fans to Save the Babylon 5 Reboot”Tor.com boosts the signal. JMS asks fans to light up social media on behalf of Babylon 5.

The Babylon 5 reboot at The CW managed to survive the many rounds of cuts the network made in the lead up to its eventual sale. According to creator J. Michael Straczynski, however, the fate of the show is still uncertain, and he wants fans to express their support for the show on the Interweb so The CW’s new owners as well as Warner Bros. TV know there’s an audience for the sci-fi show….

Straczynski also dropped the hashtag #B5onCWin23 as the rallying point for fans to prove their desire to see the reboot. The hashtag became the top trending one on Twitter at one point, so here’s to hoping that The CW and Warner Bros. TV are listening.

(2) GUNN CENTER’S SFF BOOK CLUB. The Gunn Center’s Sci Fi, Fantasy, & Speculative Lit Book Club is officially back. You can register for the event using this link.

In honor of the upcoming Sturgeon Symposium: Celebrating Speculative Communities and the announcement of the 2022 Sturgeon Award winner at the end of this month (Sept. 29 & 30), we’ve chosen 3 short stories to read from the list of finalists:

  • Nalo Hopkinson’s “Broad Dutty Water: A Sunken Story”
  • John Kessel’s “The Dark Ride”
  • Suzanne Palmer’s “Bots of the Lost Ark”

Based on what we’ve heard from the jury, these are the final contenders for the award, so be sure to read their stories and take your guesses as to who you think the winner will be!

Sign up by midnight on the 22nd so that we can get you added to the list. Upon registration, you’ll be sent the Zoom link and passcode as well as links and pdfs to the readings.

P.S. To register for the Gunn Center’s First Annual Sturgeon Symposium (Sept. 29-30), use this link.

(3) YO HO NO. It’s not “speak like a pirate” day in France.Publishing Perspectives understands why “French Publishers Cheer a Court’s Order to Block a Book Piracy Site”.

Today (September 19), an announcement from the French publishers’ association—the Syndicat national de l’édition (SNE)—signals a victory for French publishers in cases against piracy-facilitation sites drain revenue of many world markets’ book publishing industries.

A judgment was handed down in Paris on August 25, according to SNE and that court ruling has ordered Internet service providers to block the site (and associated domain names) of a piracy group called “Z-Library.” The result, according to the syndicate, is that 209 domain names and their extensions on mirror sites are being rendered inaccessible.

“Presenting itself ‘as a free library’ since 2009,” the publishers’ association says “but offering a paying model for access to counterfeit works, the Z-Library site—accessible via multiple addresses—offered access to more than 8 million books” across all editorial sectors “and 80 million pirated items.”

…“This collective success,” the French publishers’ syndicate writes in its media messaging today, shuts down at least these instances of an abiding and expensive impediment to doing business and to copyright protection, “and opens the way to new actions by the publishers and the Syndicat national de l’édition—blocking and de-referencing, quickly and systematically, against Web sites operating to defeat copyright protections.

“French publishing is investing massively to allow broad public access to digital books,” the publishers say in today’s announcement. “Book piracy undermines the remuneration of creators, both authors and publishers. It poses a threat to the entire book ecosystem, particularly booksellers, and harms cultural diversity.

(4) CHICON 8 MASQUERADE CREDITS. As reported earlier this month, Chicon 8 posted a rich gallery of photos: “Masquerade! Astounding Faces on Parade!” It includes notes on the award winners, including Best in Show, Arwen’s Lament presented by Rae Lundquist and company. (Which also won “Excellence in Workmanship for Hobbit Feet”.)

We also want to credit the directors and judges. (Thanks to John Hertz for rounding up the names).

  • Masquerade Directors: Sue Finkle, Renata O’Connor (co-directors)
  • Judges: Debi Chowdhury, Byron Connell
  • Workmanship Judges: Karen Berquist-Dezoma, John Hertz, Leah O’Connor
  • M.C.: William Dezoma

(5) POSSIBILITY ZERO. [Item by Bruce D. Arthurs.] Got a post-convention report from local (Scottsdale) convention CoKoCon, held Labor Day weekend earlier this month. They had 221 in attendance and reported the following about their Covid-prevention results:

COVID CASES – ZERO REPORTED!

We’ve seen a lot of reports of COVID cases coming out of other conventions, whether they be of similar size to us or much larger. Some of them, perhaps unsurprisingly, had no COVID policy in place, and became spreader events. Others had a very strict policy, so strict that it was broadly ignored.

We tried to find a middle ground that would keep all members of CoKoCon as safe as possible and it seems to have worked out, because our case count is… zero, as far as we are aware. Not one positive case has been reported.

If you did attend CoKoCon and tested positive for COVID within the next week, please let us know by e-mailing [email protected]. For now, it seems like we found a good balance and we couldn’t be happier.

Because of this, we will continue our current policy into 2023.

I think I mentioned in a Pixel Scroll comment that attendees were cooperative about following the convention guidelines: Masks required in the conference center facilities, no eating or drinking inside the facilities (the Ice Cream Social was held on an outside patio), and social distancing encouraged, both in and outside the conference rooms. 

(6) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.  

1989 [By Cat Eldridge.] Adapted from the Alien Nation film, the Alien Nation series premiered on Fox thirty-three years ago this evening. I’m sure that I saw that night. And even liked. It. I wouldn’t say that it’s the greatest series ever conceived but it was good enough that I caught most, if not all, of the twenty-two episodes aired.

You probably know the concept of starship crashing near Los Angeles carrying a race we called the Newcomers. Some join the LA police force, hence the police procedural theme of the series. Our central story revolves Detective Matthew “Matt” Sikes, a human, and Detective George Francisco, a Newcomer is who’s his partner. I thought they did a reasonably decent job of dealing with racism and associated issues framed within an SF setting. 

Yes, it includes weird things like even the aliens have male pregnancies. Awkwardly done I thought. 

Was it perfectly done?  (See above.) Oh Hell no. But they tried.

It was produced by Kenneth Johnson who you might recognize from the V franchise that he done earlier. He also was responsible for The Bionic Woman and The Incredible Hulk,

TV Guide would later include the series in their 2013 list of 60 shows that were “Cancelled Too Soon” I disagree. I don’t think that it was that well a conceived a series and honestly I’m not sure that it was going anywhere. It did spawn five films after it was cancelled. 

In June 2009, Syfy (You know, that which had been the Sci-Fi Channel) announced that they were developing a new take on the series. Before that went anywhere, the series was cancelled by the network in favor of paranormal reality shows and professional wrestling. Since then talk after talk has been made of a reboot. Do you see a series happening? 

Amazon, Hulu, Sling and Starz are streaming it. 

(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born September 19, 1922 Damon Knight. Author, editor, critic. Kate Wilhelm who was his wife is also regrettably no longer with us. His 1950 short story, “To Serve Man” was adapted for The Twilight Zone. His first story, “The Itching Hour,” appeared in the Summer 1940 number of Futuria Fantasia which was edited and published by Ray Bradbury.  It’s hard to briefly sum up his amazing genre career but let me note he was a member of the Futurians and a reviewer as well as a writer. Novels of his I’ll single out are Hell’s PavementThe Observers and Special Delivery but don’t think I’m overlooking his brilliant short stories. The Encyclopedia of SF notes that “In 1995, he was granted the SFWA Grand Master Award – which from 2002 became formally known, in his honour, as the Damon Knight Grand Master Award. He was posthumously inducted into the Science Fiction Hall of Fame in 2003.” (Died 2002.)
  • Born September 19, 1928 Adam West. Best known as Batman on that classic Sixties series, he also had a short role in 1964’s Robinson Crusoe on Mars as Colonel Dan McReady. He last played the role of Batman by voicing him in two animated films, Batman: Return of the Caped Crusaders and Batman vs. Two-Face. He also most excellently voiced The Gray Ghost in an episode of the Kevin Conroy voiced B:TAS, “Beware the Gray Ghost”. So what did he do that I didn’t note here? (Died 2017.)
  • Born September 19, 1933 David McCallum, 89. His longest running, though not genre, role is pathologist  Dr. Donald “Ducky” Mallard on NCIS where he appeared in every episode of the first fifteen seasons. Genre wise, he was Illya Nickovitch Kuryakin on The Man from U.N.C.L.E., and the British series Sapphire & Steel where he was Steel and Joanna Lumley was Sapphire. He played the lead in a short-lived U.S. version of The Invisible Man. He was Dr. Vance Hendricks on Babylon 5’s “Infection” episode.
  • Born September 19, 1941 Mariangela Melato. She was Kala, one of the female enforcers of Ming the Merciless in the Eighties version on the Flash Gordon film. The only other film she was in that might have been genre is Thomas e gli indemoniati. (Died 2013).
  • Born September 19, 1942 Victor Brandt, 80. He showed up not once but twice during Star Trek’s third and final season. He played Watson in the “Elaan of Troyius” episode and Tongo Rad in the “The Way to Eden” episode. He’s since done work in The InvadersThey Came From Outer Space, and voice work in Star Wars: The Clone Wars
  • Born September 19, 1947 Tanith Lee. I hadn’t realized that she wrote more than ninety novels and three hundred short stories in her career. Ninety novels! She even wrote two of the Blake’s 7 episodes as well. I am more fond of her work for children such as The Dragon Hoard and The Unicorn Series than I am of her adult work. She has garnered well-deserved Stoker and World Fantasy Awards for Lifetime Achievement. (Died 2015.)
  • Born September 19, 1952 Laurie R. King, 70. She’s on the Birthday Honors list for the Mary Russell series of historical mysteries, featuring Sherlock Holmes as her mentor and later partner. Hey it’s at least genre adjacent.  She’s also written at least one genre novel, Califia’s Daughters.
  • Born September 19, 1970 N. K. Jemisin, 50. Her most excellent Broken Earth series has made her the only author to have won the Hugo for Best Novel in three consecutive years. Her “Non-Zero Probabilities” was nominated for the Best Short Story losing out to Will McIntosh‘s “Bridesicle” at Aussiecon 4. “Emergency Skin” I’m pleased to note won the Best Novelette Hugo at CoNZealand. Yeah I voted for it. And at Chicon 8 she won a Best Graphic Story or Comic Hugo for Far Sector, written by her, with art by Jamal Campbell.

(8) WHAT TOMORROW WILL LOOK LIKE. Mysterious Galaxy Bookstore will host a virtual panel – “OCCUPY GONDOR: Using Speculative Fiction To Interrogate The New Gilded Age” – with Elizabeth Bear, Katherine Addison, Arkady Martine, C. L. Polk, Scott Lynch, and Max Gladstone on September 30 at 6:00 p.m. Pacific. Register at the link.

God-emperors and space capitalists got you down? The discourse surrounding speculative fiction, and in particular fantasy and space opera, often pushes the idea that SF is inherently regressive. Join our panel of award-winning and best-selling authors as they interrogate the assumption that the future necessarily has to look anything like the past. 

(9) FAMILIAR MOTIFS. In “Review: Goliath by Tochi Onyebuchi”, Camestros Felapton says readers’ persistence will be rewarded.

This is an absolutely tremendous book that befits its Biblically gigantic name yet I feel the need to start the review in a similar way to many of the reviews I’ve since read. I initially struggled to get into the book but you should stick with it.

The other repeated review comparison I’ve seen is to Samuel Delany’s Dhalgren. It is a comparison with some merit — both books do have a disorientating sense of an urban landscape in collapse — but it is not a helpful comparison. Rather like the initial statement I made, it is a comparison that feels like you are making either excuses or giving a warning. Where Dhalgren can feel obscure or even occult, Goliath is quite direct about its thesis even if it is complex in the way it interplays the lives of the multiple characters…

(10) JEOPARDY! Andrew Porter spotted the contestants tripping over this one on tonight’s episode of Jeopardy! Might have gotten me, too!

Category: A Hunger For Reading

Answer: The title eatery of this Douglas Adams book is Milliways, famed for its Pan Galactic Gargle Blaster.

Wrong question: What is ‘The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy’?

Right question: What is ‘The Restaurant at the End of the Universe’?

(11) KEY AND PEELE VOICE TITLE CHARACTERS. This teaser trailer for Henry Selick’s new film dropped last week: Wendell & Wild.

From the delightfully wicked minds of Henry Selick (director of The Nightmare Before Christmas and Coraline) and Jordan Peele (Nope, Us, Get Out) comes the story of Kat (Lyric Ross), a troubled teen haunted by her past, who must confront her personal demons, Wendell & Wild (played by Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele) to start a new life in her old hometown.

(12) NO SH!T SHERLOC? “’Tantalizing’ Mars rocks strengthen the idea the Red Planet once hosted life”Inverse has the story.

NASA’S PERSEVERANCE ROVER has detected a plethora of potential biosignatures on Mars, the agency announced Thursday.

Now that the car-sized robot has covered 13 kilometers of Martian terrain over the span of 560 sols (days on the Red Planet), the mission team happily announced that the rover’s SHERLOC instrument detected organic material across many more samples of unique Mars rocks than first anticipated.

…WHAT THEY FOUND — The rocks are “tantalizing” and “whetting our appetite for what’s next,” Laurie Leshin, director of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, said on Thursday.

First, the team found evidence that the rocks are excellent at preserving organic material. They learned this thanks to SHERLOC, short for Scanning Habitable Environments with Raman & Luminescence for Organics & Chemicals. It performed the preliminary analysis of Perseverance’s target rocks by shooting a laser at exposed faces — called abrasion patches — to analyze the rocks’ compositions….

(13) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] Warner Brothers dropped this 2022 featurette on the batsuit, featuring interviews with five directors of Batman movies and six Batmans, last week.  Narrated by Kevin Smith. “The Evolution of the Batsuit”.

[Thanks to JJ, John King Tarpinian, Andrew Porter, Chris Barkley, John Hertz, Bruce D. Arthurs, 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 Daniel Dern.]

Pixel Scroll 9/3/22 I Have Come To Praise Your Furries, Not To Scroll Them

(1) CHICON 8 ATTENDANCE UPDATE. Registration Area Head Elayne Pelz reported on Facebook that as of 11:15 a.m. Saturday there were 3,308 attendees present at Chicon 8.

(2) HUGO LIVESTREAM. Chicon 8 announced that the Hugo Awards ceremony will begin livestreaming September 4 at 7:45 Central on YouTube. This is the link: Chicon 8 Hugo Awards Ceremony – YouTube. (The ceremony will not be streamed on Airmeet.)

(3) IN GLORIOUS B&W. The Eaton Collection rounded up some of Jay Kay Klein’s photos from Chicon III, the 1962 Worldcon:

(4) KEEPING THEM DOWN ON THE FARM. Cloudflare.com has done a 180 and kicked Kiwi Farms off the service: “Blocking Kiwifarms”. Kiwi Farms is a forum for discussing figures it deems “lolcows” (people who can be “milked for laughs”), and the targets of threads are often subject to doxing and other forms of organized group trolling, harassment, and stalking, including real-life harassment by users.

We have blocked Kiwifarms. Visitors to any of the Kiwifarms sites that use any of Cloudflare’s services will see a Cloudflare block page and a link to this post. Kiwifarms may move their sites to other providers and, in doing so, come back online, but we have taken steps to block their content from being accessed through our infrastructure.

This is an extraordinary decision for us to make and, given Cloudflare’s role as an Internet infrastructure provider, a dangerous one that we are not comfortable with. However, the rhetoric on the Kiwifarms site and specific, targeted threats have escalated over the last 48 hours to the point that we believe there is an unprecedented emergency and immediate threat to human life unlike we have previously seen from Kiwifarms or any other customer before….

Vice explains the decision more fully in “Kiwi Farms is Down After Cloudflare Boots The Site As a Customer”.

…This comes just one week after Cloudflare defended the choice to keep the site as a customer.

In August, Twitch streamer Clara Sorrenti, known as Keffals, was the target of transphobic raiding and swatting—the dangerous internet harassment tactic involving prank calls to authorities that prompt police to send a SWAT team to someone’s home. Sorrenti alleges that Kiwi Farms members organized this attack, and has been campaigning for Cloudflare, the internet infrastructure company that protects Kiwi Farms from DDoS attacks among other services, to drop the website as a customer….

(5) BURKE RESPONDS TO B56 COC REPORT. Stephanie Burke posted to Facebook her reaction to the Baltimore Science Fiction Society’s Reports of the Results of the Code of Conduct Investigation Concerning Balticon 56.

I have been exonerated by Balticon for all of the bullshit that just happened. I feel that this letter to me is … I don’t know…more about them covering their asses and there still is no real apology to me or to the people who have been dealt with in this manner by the con before… It may be a bit of a reach but this is how I feel.

They say I can come back as a program participant but I am never going back. The thought of going back gives me the shakes and the start of panic attacks. I can never go back. I will miss a lot of my friends and family who are there, but I have to think about my mental health, the lies that were spread about me, and how I was treated. This could happen to anyone at any given time so I say everyone proceed with caution at cons. This was a life-changing experience for me and not in a positive way….

(6) NEW JMS B5 COMMENTARY. After J. Michael Straczynski’s full-length sync-up Babylon 5 commentaries have been offered exclusively on his Patreon page for a while, he releases them on YouTube. Here’s the latest, for “Point of No Return”, the middle of the Messages from Earth trilogy.

(7) ANTICI-PATION. JMS also revealed there is a completed Babylon 5 project that will debut next year at San Diego Comic-Con. Wait for it.

(8) THE HONORVERSE: WHAT’S AHEAD? David Weber has written a long post looking to the future of the Honorverse.

…So, by my calculations, that’s another 22 books I need to get written [with various collaborators] to wrap up my current series plans.

I’m 70 this October. I sold the first novel thirty-three years ago. Since then, I have published (or have currently turned in, awaiting production) 74 solo and collaborative novels, which works out to roughly 2.24 per year. That doesn’t count the anthologies, of course.

I lost roughly 2 years to the concussion, and about a year and a half to the Covid, so let’s call it 30 years, not 33, which brings the production up to 2.5 per year. And let’s assume that I write for another ten years, which (at the moment, and barring any anticipated encounters with mortality) seems entirely plausible. By my calculations, that comes to another TWENTY-FIVE solo and collaborative novels, in the process of which I will be working with some of my collaborators to establish them firmly in the existing universes going forward.

People, like the characters in Richard Adams’ PLAGUE DOGS, I’ll probably still be writing “when the dark comes down.” That means, obviously, that I won’t be “finished” when I leave, but don’t go around thinking that you’re getting rid of me next week!

(9) TAKEI. Look who’s reading the Unofficial Hugo Book Club twitter feed.

(10) MEMORY LANE.  

1977 [By Cat Eldridge.] Doctor Who’s “Horror Of Fang Rock” (1977)

Doctor Who: “Why am I standing here wasting my time trying to work out its size? If Reuben’s seen it, he can tell us.’”

Leela: “That is what I thought, but of course I am only a savage.’”

Doctor Who: “Come on, savage!”

BritBox streams these so naturally I watched before writing this up. It was every bit as great as I remembered it. Ahhh the sacrifices I make for all of you here! 

This Fourth Doctor story with the much loved Tom Baker in that role, obviously, and Louise Jameson as Leela the barbarian. (See quote above if you think I’m disparaging her.) It was first broadcast in four weekly twenty-five minute episodes on BBC1 from the third to twenty-fourth of September forty-five years ago.

It was directed by Paddy Russell, she also did those honors for another favorite of mine, “Pyramids of Mars”. (Paddy, by the way, was a well-known and much beloved SJW.) In all, she directed parts or the entire of six Who serials.  It was written by Terrence Dicks, not at all surprisingly as this was the period in which he was heavily involved in the series.

HERE IN THE FOG BE SPOILERS! GO AWAY! 

The Doctor and His Companion land along the coast of England, find a dead body and a erratic light in, errr, a Lighthouse. He being he decides to investigate. One of the Keepers, Reuben, tells them about the Beast of Fang Rock (Britain is lousy with such folktales. Really it is.) 

Ahh but being the Doctor soon Aliens abound as they always do, don’t they? And more humans will die. What will the Doctor do? Well he will prevail in the end of course.

END OF SPOILERS. I THINK. MAYBE.

Now this serial was the only one of the original series to have been produced at any BBC studios outside of London.  

Dicks based his script off a poem, “Flannan Isle” written by Wilfrid Wilson Gibson, which The Doctor quotes from at the end of the Story.

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born September 3, 1810 Theodor von Holst. He was the first artist to illustrate Shelley’s Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus in 1831. The interior illustrations consist of a frontispiece and title page engraved illustrations.  To my knowledge, this is his only genre work. (Died 1844.)
  • Born September 3, 1943 Mick Farren. Punk musician who was the singer with the proto-punk band the Deviants. He also wrote lyrics for Hawkwind. His most well-known genre work was the The Renquist Quartet about an immortal vampire.  The Renquist Quartet is available at the usual suspects.  Not at all genre, he wrote The Black Leather Jacket which details the history of the that jacket over a seventy-year span up to the mid-eighties, taking in all aspects of its cultural, political and social impact. (Died 2013.)
  • Born September 3, 1943 Valerie Perrine, 79. She has uncredited role as Shady Tree’s sidekick is Diamonds Are Forever in her first film appearance. Her first credited film role is as Montana Wildhack in Sluaughterhouse-Five. She’s Eve Teschmacher in Superman and Superman II. 
  • Born September 3, 1954 Stephen Gregg. Editor and publisher of Eternity Science Fiction which ran 1972 to 1975 and 1979 to 1980. It had early work by Glen Cook, Ed Bryant, Barry N Malzberg, andrew j offutt and Roger Zelazny. (Died 2005.)
  • Born September 3, 1959 Merritt Butrick. He played Kirk’s son, David, in The Wrath of Khan and again in The Search for Spock. Note the very young death. He died of AIDS. Well, he died of toxoplasmosis, complicated by AIDS to be precise. (Died 1989.)
  • Born September 3, 1969 John Picacio, 53. Illustrator who in 2005 won both the World Fantasy Award for Best Artist and the Chesley Award for Best Paperback Cover for James Tiptree Jr.’s Her Smoke Rose Up Forever. He’s also won eight other Chesley Awards. He was the winner of the Best Professional Artist Hugo in 2012, 2013, and 2020.
  • Born September 3, 1971 D. Harlan Wilson, 51. Author of Modern Masters of Science Fiction: J.G. BallardCultographies: They Live (a study of John Carpenter) and Technologized Desire: Selfhood & the Body in Postcapitalist Science Fiction. No, I’ve no idea what the last book is about.
  • Born September 3, 1974 Clare Kramer, 48. She had the recurring role of Glory, a god, or perhaps demon, from a hell dimension that was the main antagonist of the fifth season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. She’s been a lot of horror films including The Skulls III, The GravedancersThe ThirstRoad to HellRoad to HellBig Ass Spider! and Tales of Halloween.

(12) COMICS SECTION.

  • La Cucaracha listens in as a character tells Trump why he needs to return a box of classified stuff.
  • Tom Gauld helps you enrich your vocabulary.

(13) SNAPSHOT. JJ sent along this photo of Cora Buhlert from her Table Talk yesterday at Chicon 8.

(14) THE BORED OF AVON. Mental Floss would like to acquaint you with “5 Writers Who Really Hated Shakespeare”. On the list is —

4. J.R.R. TOLKIEN

While a member of a school debating society in the early 1900s, a teenage J.R.R. Tolkien reportedly delivered a lengthy speech in which, according to his biographer Humphrey Carpenter, he “poured a sudden flood of unqualified abuse upon Shakespeare, upon his filthy birthplace, his squalid surroundings, and his sordid character.” Opinion is divided over whether or not Tolkien upheld these opinions as an adult, but his letters offer up a number of clues: In one, dated 1944, he dismissed reading and analyzing Shakespeare’s works as “folly,” while in another from 1955, he recalls that he “disliked cordially” studying his work at school. 

… In a 1951 letter to his editor Milton Waldman, Tolkien wrote that he had recently invented two new languages to be spoken by the elves in his novels, before adding in a footnote that he intends “the word [elves] to be understood in its ancient meanings, which continued as late as Spenser—a murrain on Will Shakespeare and his damned cobwebs.” 

(15) ELVISH HAS LEFT THE BUILDING. [Item by Soon Lee.] Mike Godwin (yes, *that* Godwin) tweeted an Elvis/h filk. And it is delicious. Thread starts here.

(16) INCURABLE. Anthony Lane confesses to having “The Hobbit Habit: Reading ‘The Lord of the Rings’” in a 2001 article from The New Yorker.

…I first took on “The Lord of the Rings” at the age of eleven or twelve; to be precise, I began it at the age of eleven and finished at the age of twelve. It was, and remains, not a book that you happen to read, like any other, but a book that happens to you: a chunk bitten out of your life….

(17) THE RINGS, OH LORD! Vice reports “Astronomers Are Freaking Out Over Bizarre Rectangle-Shaped Rings in Space”. Images at the link.

… In a photograph of the star WR140, as pointed out by citizen scientist Judy Schmidt who reposted the image from the automated @JWSTPhotoBot on Twitter, a spiral of rings and rays fan out from the star’s bright white center. The rings aren’t perfectly circular, but look more like rounded squares, and not even astronomers seem to know what to do with it….

(18) HELPING JOHN WILLIAMS CONDUCT. Some of my daughter’s relatives were at the Hollywood Bowl waving along! And they say during last night’s concert Williams even debuted a piece from the upcoming Indiana Jones movie.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Abstract

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(9) MEMORY LANE.  

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

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

SPOLIERS ABOUND. GO AWAY NOW!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

END SPOILERS. REALLY. 

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

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pixel Scroll 5/27/22 I’ll File You, My Pretty, And Your Pixel Scroll Too

(1) NEED TO RELOAD. There will be no TitanCon in Belfast this year announced co-chair Samuel Poots.

We’re very sorry to have to announce that Titan Con is cancelled this year.

I don’t need to tell you that the past few years have been enormously challenging for everyone and many of us are still processing our experiences. While finances are good, the humans and human resources needed to make Titan Con viable have been impacted.

In recent weeks, a number of committee members, including my co-chair, have had to step away due to personal reasons. I’m sorry to lose them, and am extremely grateful for their hard work, but understand it’s the best decision.

After taking stock of the situation with the committee and advisers, it’s clear we do not have the resources for this year’s already smaller con, and unfortunately have to cancel it. This was a very difficult decision and one the committee wished could be avoided, but there was simply no alternative.

A fresh start is called for.

We need to cancel, regroup, and consider our way forward carefully.

We’ll be recruiting some people to help us look at delivering a Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror convention with the best elements of our legacy events, while considering how to become sustainable going forward.

All current members will receive a full refund.

Thank you for your support and patience, and we hope to see you in the future to celebrate the wonderful media we are all fans of.

(2) MALIK Q&A. The Horror Writers Association Blog continues its “Asian Heritage in Horror” theme in an “Interview with Usman T. Malik”.

What is one piece of advice you would give horror authors today?

Don’t worry about pandering to western stereotypes or the market. Write your own darkness. Spill your own fears onto the page and the audience will follow.

(3) ABOUT THE BROKEN TRUST. Jake and Ron chat with author Juliette Wade about her projected five-book series, The Broken Trust on The Wrath of the iOtians podcast. (Also available on Spotify.)

Juliette Wade is a novelist … and after listening to this interview, you’ll understand why it’s a hard-earned and well-deserved title for this masterclass worldbuilder.

Her background is impressive. She is fluent in French and Japanese, has degrees in linguistics and anthropology, and also boasts a Ph.D. in education.

Juliette started writing fiction in 1999, and her short stories have been featured in Analog, Clarkesworld, and Fantasy & Science Fiction magazines. But she is perhaps best known for her projected five-volume Broken Trust series, whose latest volume, Inheritors of Power, was published earlier this year by DAW. Juliette’s specialty is sociological science-fiction, of which Broken Trust is one of our finest contemporary examples. Each stratum of Broken Trust’s complex caste system has its own vocation, ideals, manners, and culture, and naturally, they come into a devastating conflict. There’s a lot to discuss, so let’s dive in!

(4) JO FLETCHER NEWS. Publishers Lunch reports, “Publisher Jo Fletcher will leave the Quercus sci-fi, fantasy and horror imprint she founded 11 years ago on September 30. She will continue to edit some of her long-standing authors for the line.”

(5) WARNING LABEL. “’Stranger Things 4′ Warning Card Added Following School Shooting” reports Variety.

Netflix is adding a warning card to the “Stranger Things 4” premiere in light of the shooting on Tuesday at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, which left 21 people dead — including 19 children and two teachers.

The warning card, which will show up for viewers in the U.S. when the episodes launch on Friday, reads: “We filmed this season of ‘Stranger Things’ a year ago. But given the recent tragic shooting at a school in Texas, viewers may find the opening scene of episode 1 distressing. We are deeply saddened by this unspeakable violence, and our hearts go out to every family mourning a loved one.”

This warning will appear before the prior season recap that auto-plays at the beginning of “Stranger Things 4” Episode 1 for viewers in the U.S. only. Additionally, Netflix has also edited the description for the premiere to include the note, “Warning: Contains graphic violence involving children,” and added “disturbing images” to the show rating advisories….

(6) LIFT OFF. The New Yorker’s Neima Jahromi analyzes Disney World’s Starcruiser experience in “LARPing Goes to Disney World”.

In February, when it was cold and wet in New York, I rode a jitney under blue skies from the Orlando airport into Disney World. Before reaching the Magic Kingdom, the bus passed a range of gray crags perched on scaffolding—a sliver of Black Spire Outpost, which, in the “Star Wars” universe, is a settlement on a planet called Batuu. Nearby, the Millennium Falcon rested below a control tower built into the rock; Stormtrooper helmets were for sale at a sun-bleached military-surplus garage. Black Spire is also the destination of the Galactic Starcruiser, a spaceship that carries hundreds of interstellar tourists to and from the outpost, on what Disney calls an “immersive adventure.” The Starcruiser begins its journey floating in space, light-years from Batuu and Black Spire. In reality, the spacecraft is a massive brutalist building that sits beside a highway….

In one of the games —

In Calculations, written by Caro Murphy, a veteran larper with a side-swept cyberpunk haircut, Sinking Ship customers play a spaceship pilot delivering medicine to Mars, where colonists have been dying from an illness that causes “shortness of breath.” Murphy adapted the game from a nineteen-fifties sci-fi story by Tom Godwin.

(7) DIAL ‘M’ FOR MILKY WAY. No, E.T. should not be allowed to phone home. Vice looks at a scientific paper: “There Are 4 ‘Malicious Extraterrestrial Civilizations’ in Milky Way, Researcher Estimates”. The author, PhD student Alberto Caballero of Spain’s University of Vigo, readily admits he had to make a number of assumptions. Thus, it’s hard to put error boundaries on his conclusions. 

Stephen Hawking famously said sending messages from Earth into deep space could get human civilization destroyed: “If aliens ever visit us, I think the outcome would be much as when Christopher Columbus first landed in America, which didn’t turn out very well for the Native Americans.”

Hawking’s words have often been used to discourage the practice of METI, which is Messaging Extraterrestrial Intelligence. But how many “malicious” alien civilizations are there? And what are the chances any message we sent into our own galaxy would be received by an evil alien civilization? There is precious little research on this topic, and very few scientists have even posited a guess.

new thought experiment attempts to at least venture a guess in hopes that other scientists will begin to take METI more seriously, and will try to determine how dangerous it actually is to try to contact alien civilizations.

According to this paper, which the author admits has “some limitations,” there are roughly four “malicious extraterrestrial civilizations” in the Milky Way, and we could likely send out 18,000 interstellar messages to different exoplanets in our galaxy and the probability of ensuring our own destruction would still be about the same as Earth being hit by a “global catastrophe asteroid.” 

(8) TWO SF ARTISTS REMEMBERED. “A Vision In Many Voices: The Art of Leo and Diane Dillon” at Unquiet Things.

It must have been fate. Born eleven days apart on opposite coasts, Leo and Diane met, competed artistically, and eventually fell in love while attending Parsons School of Design, each aspiring to a life of art. After their marriage in 1957, the artists initially pursued separate careers in illustration before recognizing their strengths were collaborative in nature. In an effort to work in a particular style that they both could master, they symbiotically and seamlessly melded their personalities and styles, employing pastels, colored pencil, watercolor, acrylic, stencils, typography, woodcut, pochoir, found-object assemblage, collage, and sculpture into an entity/partnership that they came to refer to as “the artist.”

Noted Leo on the gorgeously striking complexity of their distinctive decorative realism and unconventional techniques: “People often comment on the ‘Dillon style.’ I think that someplace, the two of us made a pact with each other. We both decided that we would give up the essence of ourselves, that part that made the art each of us did our own. And I think that in doing that we opened the door to everything.”…

(9) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

1998 [By Cat Eldridge.] Warning: there are lots of SPOILERS here. Go away now if you’ve not watched Babylon 5. Really I do mean it! 

Twenty-four years ago in the last season of Babylon 5, the “Meditations on the Abyss” episode aired. It has three story lines: a mission to the edge of Centauri space, Lennier both teaches and learns; John Sheridan struggles to keep the Interstellar Alliance together; a Drazi agents plant a bug in Londo Mollari’s quarters and faces the wrath of Vir Cotto which happens after Londo Mollari tells Vir Cotto he will have to be more careful if he wishes to be worthy of his new job as Centauri Ambassador to Babylon 5. 

Vir fascinates me. This episode, like so many involving him, upends the apparent light hearted nature of the character and show him to be something much more complex, more dangerous but good for the Empire in fact than Londo is as Londo has no sense of community and Vir does. Vir cares about the Centauri people in a way Londo doesn’t.

“I’d like to live just long enough to be there when they cut off your head and stick it on a pike, as a warning to the next ten generations that some favors come with too high a price. I want to look up into your lifeless eyes and wave like this.” – Vir telling Mr Morden what he wants.

And he gets to do just that. Wasn’t that absolutely thrilling to see Vir looking up at the head of Mr Morden on a stake in the capital city of a devastated Centauri Prime and waving at it? 

And he will become the Emperor of an Empire almost completely shattered after Londo is strangled by the blind G’Kar.  It not known how the Empire fares under him but it has to be better than it did under under previous Emperors. 

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born May 27, 1894 Dashiell Hammett. Yes, I know he’s written some genre fiction but I’m interested this time in his mysteries. He wrote The Maltese Falcon which was turned into the film you remember and another film a decade earlier. And of course there are Nick and Nora Charles in The Thin Man series that got turned in a six film series. Now my favorite character by him is the Continental Op in Red Harvest and The Dain Curse. And let’s not forget the Secret Agent X-9 comic strip which I think is genre, which artist Alex Raymond of Flash Gordon fame illustrated. (Died 1961.)
  • Born May 27, 1911 Vincent Price. Ok, what’s popping into my head is him on The Muppets in “House of Horrors” sketch they did in which he and Kermit sport impressive fangs. If I had to single out his best work, it’d be in such films as House on Haunted HillHouse of Usher and The Pit and the Pendulum. Yes, I know the latter two are Roger Corman productions.  He also did a lot of series work including being Egghead on Batman, appearing in the Fifties Science Fiction Theater, having a recurring role as Jason Winters on the Time Express and so forth. (Died 1993.)
  • Born May 27, 1922 Christopher Lee. He first became famous for his role as Count Dracula in a series of Hammer Horror films.  His other film roles include The Creature in The Curse of Frankenstein, Sherlock Holmes in Sherlock Holmes and the Deadly Necklace, Kharis the Mummy in The Mummy, Francisco Scaramanga in The Man with the Golden Gun, Lord Summerisle In The Wicker Man, Saruman in The Lord of the Rings films and The Hobbit film trilogy, and Count Dooku in the second and third films of the Star Wars prequel trilogy. Now interestingly enough, ISFDB lists him as being the co-editor in the Seventies with Michael Parry with a number of horror anthologies such as Christopher Lee’s ‘X’ Certificate No. 1From the Archives of Evil and The Great Villains. (Died 2015.)
  • Born May 27, 1929 Burnett Toskey, 93. A Seattle fan who was a member of the Nameless Ones and served them in various offices from the early Fifties to the mid Sixties. He was also the official editor of Spectator Amateur Press Society. His work on Cry of the Nameless won the Best Fanzine Hugo at Pitcon, a honor he shared with  F. M. Busby, Elinor Busby and Wally Weber. 
  • Born May 27, 1934 Harlan Ellison. Setting aside the “The City on the Edge of Forever” episode”, I think I best remember him for the two Dangerous Vision anthologies which were amazing reading.  His awards are far, far too numerous to recount here so I’ll need to do an essay on them. His Hugos alone are legion and that’s hardly all of the awards that he was honored with.  (Died 2018.)
  • Born May 27, 1935 Lee Meriwether, 87. Catwoman on Batman. (And if you have to ask which Batman, you’re in the wrong conversation.) Also she had a turn as a rather sexy Lily Munster on The Munsters Today. And of course she had a co-starring role as Dr. Ann MacGregor on The Time Tunnel as well. And yes, I know I’m not touching upon her many other genre roles including her Trek appearance as I know you will. 
  • Born May 27, 1951 Stepan Chapman. He wrote but one novel, The Trioka, a most excellent steampunk affair that won that the Philip K. Dick Award. He’s written a lot of short fiction, some of it collected in Danger Music and DossierThe Trioka is available for a reasonable price at the usual suspects. (Died 2014.)
  • Born May 27, 1967 Eddie McClintock, 55. Best known no doubt as Secret Service agent Pete Lattimer on Warehouse 13, a series I loved. He’s also in Warehouse 13: Of Monsters and Men which is listed separately and has the plot of ‘the Warehouse 13 operatives uncover a mysterious comic book artifact and must work together to free themselves from its power.’ He’s had one-off appearances in Witches of East EndAgents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and Supergirl, but no other major genre roles to date.  

(11) HORSING AROUND WITH SHATNER. Tomorrow, May 28, the Hollywood Charity Horse Show is offering “An Evening with William Shatner”. One ticket is $400. Or buy a table for 10 and only pay – eh, $4,000.

6:00pm – 7:00pm Dinner.  During Dinner, Mr. Shatner will go around to each table and take a group shot  (Due to Covid restrictions individual photos are not possible.)

7:00pm – 8:00pm Mr. Shatner will  tell stories and answer your questions

(12) SCENES OF HORROR. Cora Buhlert has a new article up at Galactic Journey about a forgotten tragedy: “[May 26, 1967] Flames over Brussels: The À l’Innovation Department Store Fire”.

…The last time I was in Brussel in April, I stopped at the Standaard Boekhandel book shop directly across the street from À l’Innovation to pick up the latest comics. The venerable weekly comics magazine Tintin has launched a slew of new strips to keep up with the competition of Spirou and particularly the French comics magazine Pilote….

(13) BOOK REVIEW. Cora Buhlert also appears in The Dark Man: Journal of Robert E. Howard and Pulp Studies (12.2) with a review of The Weird Tales Story: Enhanced and Expanded by Robert Weinberg et al. The publication is a peer-reviewed scholarly journal devoted to the academic study of Howard’s literary works as well as the literary historical and print culture contexts associated with it. 

(14) DOZOIS AND ADLER TRANSCRIPT. The Eaton Collection shares a bit of history.

(15) AT THE HELM. Gizmodo asks the show creator about those odious comparisons: “Seth MacFarlane Interview: The Orville Versus Star Trek”.

…“I think it’s safe to say that we’re still occupying our own space this year,” MacFarlane told io9 over video chat at a recent Orville press event. “Certainly, the more that’s out there, you do start to become a little concerned that, you know, is it oversaturation? Is there a pocket where our show and only our show exists? And I think that is still very much the case.”

Not wanting to spoil what’s in store, MacFarlane didn’t get too into detail about what specifically sets The Orville apart from Star Trek this season. In more general terms, “It’s this genre that emerged in the 1930s of a ship in space, captained and crewed very much the same way that a sailing ship was,” he said. “It’s something that dates back a lot of decades. Star Trek was really the first to take it and turn it into something that really mattered and was a serious form of storytelling. You know, for us… sci-fi right now is very dark. It’s very dystopian. It’s very grim in a lot of ways. It’s very cautionary. And the optimistic, uplifting part of that genre is something we haven’t really seen in a while. So there was a pretty obvious open pocket for us to kind of slip into when we started. How we fit in now is—it’s really up to the audience, I think—what we’re bringing to the table in tone, in structure, in scope is in a class of its own. But that remains [to be seen], because the verdict [on season three] has not come in yet.”…

(16) GIVE A DOG A BAD NAME. James Davis Nicoll is happy to help.

(17) WE ARE NASA. People sent me links to this 3-year-old NASA video which has been the subject of several posts this week. Take a look.

We’ve taken giant leaps and left our mark in the heavens. Now we’re building the next chapter, returning to the Moon to stay, and preparing to go beyond. We are NASA – and after 60 years, we’re just getting started. Special thanks to Mike Rowe for the voiceover work.

(18) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In “Honest Game Trailers:  Evil Dead:  The Game,” Fandom Games says this move tie-in “fulfills a need you never knew you had: fighting with four Bruce Campbells.” The narrator suggests that someone convince Lucy Lawless to appear in a game with her Xena armor, “a move that would cause a majority of gamers to regress into puberty.”

[Thanks to JJ, John King Tarpinian, Chris Barkley, Andrew Porter, Andrew (not Werdna), Cora Buhlert, 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 Rob Thornton.]

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

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

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

What is a drabble?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Category: Science Fiction

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

Wrong question: Who is John Green?

Correct question: Who is Hank Green?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(6) MEMORY LANE.

1993 [Item by Cat Eldridge]  

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pixel Scroll 2/4/22 Mrs. File You’ve Got A Lovely Pixel 

(1) “POINTLESS” QUIZ SHOW. [Item by Christian Brunschen.] I was just watching a repeat of the quiz show “Pointless” on BBC – where questions have been previously asked of 100 people who are given 1 minute to give answers; and the contestants have to try to find answers that are not only correct, but which as few as possible of the 100 polled people knew!

In this episode the final category was “Award-winning authors in specific genres” – and the three options were “Hugo Award for Best Novel”, “Wodehouse Award for Comic Literature” and “Walter Scott Prize for Historical Fiction”.

The contestants are allowed to give three possible answers, from any of the three options, and in order to win they need to give at least one answer which nobody else among the 100 knew – one “pointless” answer.

They chose to go for three answers from the Hugo Awards category:

  • Frank Herbert
  • Robert Silverberg
  • Brian Aldiss

Each one of those was then counted down to see how many of the group-of-100 had given that answer. 

The counter for Frank Herbert went down to 1 – only a single one of the 100 had given Frank Herbert as an answer – so just 1 away from being pointless.

Neither Robert Silverberg nor Brian Aldiss were correct – so the contestants did not win.

It was mentioned that Robert Silverberg had the most nominations without winning.

Pointless answers in the Hugo award category included Mary Robinette Kowal, Neil Gaiman, Ray Bradbury, Susanna Clarke, William Gibson, Robert A. Heinlein; big scorers (known by many of the 100) were Isaac Asimov, Arthur C. Clarke, Philip K. Dick.

This was apparently season 25 episode 17 broadcast in April 2021, which can be seen by viewers in the UK (only) on BBC iPlayer right here.

(2) MAKING WORLDS AND PUZZLES. Host Kate Elliot discusses a worldbuilding topic with Karen Lord in Narrative Worlds Season 2: Ep. 3 now available on SFWA’s YouTube channel.

Welcome to Episode 3 of Season Two in the Narrative Worlds Webinar Series, hosted by author Kate Elliott! Featuring guest author Karen Lord, this month’s topic is “The Puzzles Inside Worldbuilding: Constructing Narratives at Various Lengths.” This monthly series digs into the theory and practice of building the worlds in which stories are set. Rather than focusing on a survey of basics like “What elements do you need to create a setting?” Elliott discusses a specific single topic in more depth each month with a guest.

(3) WAITING AT THE LIGHT. J. Michael Straczynski, in a public Patreon post, today announced that while the Babylon 5 reboot wasn’t greenlighted for fall 2022, it has been retained in active development at the CW and Warner Bros. for fall 2023. “B5 CW News”.

Anyone who knows the history of Babylon 5 knows that the path of this show has never been easy, and rarely proceeds in a straight line. Apparently, that has not changed.

About a month or so ago it was announced that the CW Network, B5’s home for the last year while the pilot script was in active development, was up for sale. When news of this broke, the immediate question was: will this have any effect on B5? Situations like this have a way of upending development because new owners usually want to put their imprimatur on what programs go forward. Like everyone else, I’d hoped there would be no immediate impact, and that progress on the project would continue onward unabated.

A few days ago, I heard from inside Warner Bros. that there were a number of High Level Conversations taking place with the CW to determine how many pilots, and what sort, could be picked up during this transition, especially given pre-existing deals and commitments. This made sense given the preceding paragraph, but I remained optimistic.

Today, about an hour ago, Deadline Hollywood announced the slate of pilot scripts being picked up for production by The CW. Babylon 5 was not on that list.

When a pilot script is not picked up to production, 99.999% of the time, that’s the end of the road for the project, the script is dead.

However: shortly before that piece was published, I received a call from Mark Pedowitz, President of The CW. (I should mention that Mark is a great guy and a long-time fan of B5. He worked for Warners when the show was first airing, and always made sure we got him copies of the episodes before they aired because he didn’t want to wait to see what happened next.)

Calling the pilot “a damned fine script,” he said he was taking the highly unusual step of rolling the project and the pilot script into next year, keeping B5 in active development while the dust settles on the sale of the CW….

(4) CANDIDATES FOR CHAIR OF GLASGOW IN 2024. Alice Lawson, on behalf of the board of the Glasgow in 2024 bid, has called for anyone who intends to put themselves forward to chair the convention to let the board know by February 7. Bid chair Esther MacCallum-Stewart is already a candidate. Her letter was shared with Glasgow in 2024 supporters.

Dear Alice, the Board of Glasgow 2024, all staff members, and pre-supporters.

I would like to put myself forward as Chair of the Glasgow 2024 Worldcon.

I have been working towards a third Worldcon in Glasgow since 2016, announcing an intention to bid at Novacon alongside Emma England and Vanessa May. Since then I have led the bid team, first as a Co-Chair, and then as Chair. We are currently approaching just under 1000 pre-supporters, and the Bid has had tremendous support from the SFF fan community and beyond.

I have been a volunteer for Worldcon since 2011, when I joined the Loncon 3 team as an AH for games. Since then I have worked as Programme manager and admin (Loncon, MAC II), DH for Facilitation (Dublin 2019), and co-DH for Facilities (ConZealand). I have also volunteered for Eastercons (the UK national convention) and Octocon (the Irish National Convention). Elsewhere I have been Vice-Chair of DiGRA (Digital Games Research Association) and am currently Chair of the UK chapter, which runs events on a yearly basis. In 2021 I was made a Professor of Game Studies at the University of Staffordshire.

I am hugely proud of the Bid Team and their passion for Glasgow 2024. Every day I see something original, funny or hard working from them, and this continues to grow. I have seen friendship, bravery and more than my fair share of armadillos in the last few years, as more people join and add their own sense of wonder and creativity to the bid. We would not be so strong if it were not for all these working parts, in which every single one counts towards something brilliant. I am constantly amazed at the goodwill and passion to create an event that is inclusive, caring and extraordinary. I would be honoured to lead such a group forwards as Chair, towards a Worldcon in Glasgow, a city I love, in 2024, a year which has special importance to me.

/s/ Professor Esther MacCallum-Stewart

(5) SPACE GHOSTS. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In the Financial Times behind a paywall, Isabel Hilton reviews The Subplot: What China Is Reading And Why It Matters by Megan Walsh, a book about fiction popular in China and what Chinese tastes in fiction have to say about the Chinese.  Among the topics Walsh discusses is sf in China.

For many authors who must navigate the uncertainties of shifting official red lines, science fiction offers a safe haven. It is a genre in which to address the disruption and dislocations between past and present, and between official narratives and reality, and to explore otherwise dangerous themes such as social injustice.

Liu Cixin, a computer engineer and bestselling sci-fi author, locates real world problems such as pollution and human greed on distant planets, while in the story “Underground Bricks,” Han Song describes recycling the rubble of the 2008 Sichuan earthquake, which contains victims’ remains, into ‘intelligent bricks’ for space colonization, thus populating distant planets with unhappy ghosts.

(6) EATING THE FANTASTIC. Scott Edelman invites listeners to nibble noodles with Daryl Gregory in Episode 164 of the Eating the Fantastic podcast.

Daryl Gregory

It’s time for you to join Daryl Gregory and me as we have lunch at Dolan Uyghur restaurant.

Daryl Gregory’s first novel, Pandemonium (2008), won the Crawford Award and was nominated for a World Fantasy Award. His novella We Are All Completely Fine (2014) won the Shirley Jackson Award and the World Fantasy Award. His short story collection Unpossible and Other Stories was named one of the best books of 2011 by Publishers Weekly. His novel Spoonbenders (2017) was a Top 20 Amazon Editor’s Choice, an Audible.com’s editors choice for the year, and an NPR best book of the year. His most recent novel is Revelator, which was published last August. His comics work includes Planet of the ApesThe Green HornetDracula, and the graphic novel The Secret Battles of Genghis Khan.

If you’d like a tiny taste of Daryl before taking a seat at the table for our full meal, check out what he had to say while eating a raspberry coffee cake donut during the 2018 Nebula Awards weekend.

We discussed how he celebrated the two books he published during the pandemic, what caused him to say about his latest novel, “I like to split the difference to keep everyone as unsatisfied as possible,” the narrative technique which finally unlocked the writing of that book (and why it made Revelator more difficult to complete), how our mothers responded to our writing, the way marketing affects the reading protocols of our stories, how listening to Damon Knight and Kate Wilhelm argue about one of his stories freed him as a writer, the promise a murder mystery makes to a reader, his “Mom Rule” for Easter eggs, the way he tortured a comic book artist with an outrageous panel description, how to play fair when writing a science fiction mystery where anything can happen, what Samuel R. Delany told him which helped him make his first sale to F&SF, how he doesn’t understand why everybody doesn’t want to be writers, the way his writing gets better during the times he isn’t writing, Gardner Dozois’ “ladder of sadness,” and much more.

(7) SHIPPING SCHEDULE. The Orville: New Horizons will now arrive on June 2.

(8) MEMORY LANE.

1998 [Item by Cat Eldridge] Twenty-four years ago, Morn apparently had died on “Who Mourns for Morn?”, an episode of Deep Space Nine. Yes, that character in Quark’s Bar, the one what never spoke on the series despite ninety-one appearances as Morn plus several more as Morn on Next Generation and Voyager

The actor had another eleven appearances as other characters on the DS9 series. Indeed Shepherd makes an appearance (still uncredited as all of his Morn appearances were) as a Bajoran mourner at Morn’s memorial service who sits in Morn’s chair, thus showing the actor’s actual appearance.

Can I spoil a twenty-year-old episode really? I think not. Morn had faked his death to escape some legal troubles and this dealt with aftermath of him doing so. It was a quite funny episode as written by Mark Gehred-O’Connell for season six after previously writing “Second Sight” and “Meredian” for the series.

Critical reviews of it are almost non-existent with the only one being the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Rewatch by Keith R. A. DeCandido for Tor.com who said that “Still, this is, ultimately, a gag episode about a gag character, and the gag loses steam at the end when we get the full story, but Quark has to say all of it in order to keep the gag going. It doesn’t work at that point, and the ending falls flat because we can see the strings.” I never thought of Morn as being a gag. He’s somehow sweet despite never saying a word. 

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born February 4, 1922 William Phipps. He started off his genre career by being in both The War of The Worlds and Invaders from Mars. He’d later be in Cat-Women of the MoonThe Snow Creature,The Evil of Frankenstein, and the Dune series. He’d have one-offs in BatmanGreen HornetThe MunstersWild Wild West and a lead role in the Time Express series which would last four episodes according to IMDB. (Died 2018.)
  • Born February 4, 1925 Russell Hoban. Author of a number of genre novel of which the best by far is Riddley Walker. Indeed, ISFDB some fifteen such novels by him, so I’m curious how he is as a genre writer beyond Riddley Walker. (Died 2011.)
  • Born February 4, 1936 Gary Conway, 86. Best remembered I’d say for starring in Irwin Allen‘s Land of the Giants. You can see the opening episode here. He was also in How to Make a Monster, a late Fifties horror film which I’m delighted to say that you can watch here. He’s the Young Frankenstein in it. 
  • Born February 4, 1940 John Schuck, 82. My favorite SF role by him is as the second Draal, Keeper of the Great Machine, on the Babylon 5 series. I know it was only two episodes but it was a fun role. He’s also played the role of Klingon ambassador Kamarag in Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home and in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country.  He guest-starred in Deep Space Nine as Legate Parn in “The Maquis: Part II”, on Voyager as Chorus #3 in the “Muse” episode, and on Enterprise as Antaak in the “Divergence” and “Affliction” episodes.  Oh. and he was Herman Munster in The Munsters Today.  Now that was a silly role! Did you know his makeup was the Universal International Frankenstein-monster makeup format whose copyright NBCUniversal still owns? 
  • Born February 4, 1940 George Romero. Dubbed by many as Father of the Zombie Film. Certainly his Night of the Living Dead from just over fifty years ago is the root of the Zombie movie craze. He also created and executive-produced Tales from the Darkside. No, I’m not listing all of his films here as I’m assuming you tell me what your favorite film by him is as you always do.  (Died 2017.)
  • Born February 4, 1951 Patrick Bergin, 71. If he had done nothing else, he’d make the Birthday list today for playing Robin Hood in the 1990 Robin Hood which for my money is the finest such film made. Go ahead and argue, I’ve all night. Now as it turns out he has a very long career in this community starting after playing Robin Hood by being in Frankenstein as Victor Frankenstein, then Benjamin Trace In Lawnmower Man 2: Beyond Cyberspace (a film universally despised), George Challenger in The Lost WorldTreasure Island as Billy Bones, Merlin: The Return as King Arthur, Dracula as, well, Dracula Himself, Ghostwood as Friar Paul and Gallowwalkers as Marshall Gaza. 
  • Born February 4, 1959 Pamelyn Ferdin, 63. She was in the “And the Children Shall Lead” episode of Trek. She’ll show up in The Flying Nun (as two different characters), voicing a role in The Cat in the Hat short, Night GallerySealab 2020 (another voice acting gig), Shazam! and Project UFO.She’d have a main role in Space Academy, the Jonathan Harris failed series as well. 
  • Born February 4, 1961 Neal Asher, 61. I’m been reading and enjoying his Polity series since he started it nearly twenty years ago. Listing all of his works here would drive OGH to a nervous tick as I think there’s now close to thirty works in total. I recently finished off Jack Four, his latest novel in that series, and it’s typically filled with his usual mix of outrageous SF concepts. 

(10) COMICS SECTION.

  • Bizarro eavesdrops on the confessions of a garden gnome.
  • When social distancing should be enough….

(11) IF THE JUSTICE LEAGUE WERE DINOSAURS, MY LOVE. “DC Comics Turns Justice League Into Dinosaurs For Jurassic League” and Bleeding Cool has sample art.

… In the world of Jurassic League, Superman was still sent to Earth on a rocket ship from a dying planet. And he was still raised by humans. It’s just that he’s also a man-shaped brachiosaurus. Batman (rather, Batsaur, Gedeon clarifies for Polygon) is an allosaurus. Wonder Woman is a triceratops. The Joker is a dilophosaurus….

(12) QUESTRISON Q&A. Space Cowboy Books will host a reading and interview with J. Dianne Dotson, author of The Questrison Saga on Tuesday, February 15 at 6:00 p.m. Pacific. Free registration at Eventbrite.

The Questrison Saga is an epic four-book space opera beginning at the edge of our solar system and expanding out into the galaxy. Within its pages: Love and war. Spaceships and exotic worlds. Aliens, androids, ecosystems. Mages and presidents. Long cons. Family feuds that led to galactic destruction. Family ties that could save the galaxy.

(13) ASK HARRIS. And Space Cowboy Books will also host an interview with Brent A. Harris, author of the science fiction novel Alyx: An AI’s Guide to Love and Murder, on Tuesday, February 22 at 6:00 p.m. Pacific. Free registration here.

What if your home wanted you dead?

Tech-loving teen Christine makes fast friends with her home’s AI, Alyx. But when a real-world romance threatens their bond, Alyx turns from friend to foe.

Alyx is a positive LGBTQ+ coming-of-age techno-thriller trapped inside a monster-in-the house horror where the home itself is the monster.

(14) THE EYES HAVE IT. Clarion West is offering a “Draw Your Way Out with Julie E. Czerneda” online workshop on March 3 at 10:00 a.m. Pacific. Cost: $75. Register at the link.

Use visual means to organize and connect information about characters, setting, and movement, expand plot options using a flowchart, then combine all into a single large diagram outline.

 Every writer has their approach to resolving plot problems and generating new ideas. One that Julie Czerneda has used successfully for years is to “draw her way out.” In this workshop, you’ll use this technique to work through different story challenges, from character development to plotting. There is no advance preparation required.

Materials Required:

Attendees will be emailed worksheets to be used during the workshop and must have their own large sheet of paper (minimum 40X40cm).

(15) TAKING OFF THE DARK HELMET. Vox is ready to tell you “How fandom sent Boba Fett from minor character to leading man”.

…About 1.7 million households tuned into The Book of Boba Fett’s premiere last December, and a second season seems inevitable. Han Solo might be sabotaging the Death Star, Luke Skywalker might be forging the fate of the Force, but currently, Star Wars fans are far more fascinated with this obscure C+ player in a green visor. Back when I was a preteen Star Wars fan, my friends and I shared an innate understanding that Boba Fett was uncommonly cool, even if we didn’t know much about him. Twenty years later, I’m still trying to figure out why.

James Clarke, 36, is well equipped to answer that question. He’s a longtime editor of the Boba Fett Fan Club, which sports over 14,000 members and is the single most comprehensive repository of Fettian facts, tributes, and theories on the internet. Like me, Clarke fell in love with the bounty hunter as a child, and pursued his fascination to the point of writing reams of Boba-themed fanfiction in middle school. “I probably have 25-year-old stories still on the site somewhere,” says Clarke. (Minutes after our interview, he sent me a photo of himself in full Boba Fett cosplay, a confirmation of his bona fides.)…

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

Pixel Scroll 1/30/22 Abracapixel

(1) STABBYCON. Reddit’s r/Fantasy section will host “StabbyCon” (named for their annual award, the Stabby) from January 31 through February 11. (Incidentally, voting for the 2021 Stabby Awards will open on Monday January 31 and close on Monday February 7th, at 10 a.m. EST. The link to vote will be posted on Reddit at the appropriate time.)

Our vision for StabbyCon is to celebrate what makes r/Fantasy and the speculative media community so great, and to bring a diverse group of creators into the spotlight through a series of virtual panels, roundtables and AMAs. We hope you’ll enjoy the range of events we’ve got scheduled, and help give a warm r/Fantasy welcome to all of our StabbyCon participants.

Schedule

To accommodate various time zones, each event will start at a scheduled time but will run throughout the day to allow all of our panelists and as many of you as possible a chance to participate. Even if you miss the start of an event, we’d love as many people to drop in as possible.

We will also update this post through Stabbycon so that you can check back in on anything you may have missed. You can also browse the Stabbycon collection to see all of our events.

We’ll also be running daily social threads so you can drop in and chat about each of our events, or anything else SFF related. Our regularly scheduled posts will also continue as per normal throughout the StabbyCon period.

Here’s the first three panels:

Panels

  • Jan 31st, 4pm EST | 9pm GMT – Worldbuilding from the Real World with Krista D. Ball, R.B. Lemberg, Rowenna Miller and Tasha Suri
  • Feb 1st, 12pm EST | 5pm GMT – Unusual Biology with RJ Barker, Sue Burke, Sascha Stronach and Cadwell Turnbull
  • Feb 3rd, 12pm EST | 5pm GMT – Visible Cracks: Personal and Intergenerational Trauma with K.D. Edwards, Akwaeke Emezi, Tyler Hayes, Charlotte Kersten and Virginia McClain

(2) ONYEBUCHI Q&A. [Item by Olav Rokne.] NPR has a very good interview with Tochi Onyebuchi about his new novel Goliath. Some very interesting thoughts about the books commentary on the intersection between race and class. “In ‘Goliath,’ only the rich and white can escape to space as the Earth collapses”.

SUMMERS: So in the book, the mostly white occupants of these space colonies, they take some classes to learn about their privilege, and they end up being classes that don’t really translate into much action. And I’m curious, is that any reflection on the conversations about racial justice that are happening right now in our world?

ONYEBUCHI: Short answer, yes. You know, the very first draft of this book, I think, was completed in 2015. You know, there was a little bit of that there – you know, that idea of white people who were cognizant of their privilege and who were cognizant of, you know, social and socioeconomic divides, that sort of thing. And then, you know, looking at the ways in which the events of the summer of 2020 sort of rippled out into all these different industries and professions, it was fascinating, albeit dispiriting to see all the ways in which people can say all the right things. Corporations on Twitter can say all the right things, and yet, you know, a year later, you know, summer of 2021, you know, you’d look around and you’d ask yourself what had changed. And more often than not, the answer would be nothing.

(3) ALTERNATE REDSHIRTS. John Scalzi signal boosted a reminiscence about covers Redshirts might have had.

(4) YOU’VE BEEN WARNED. Walter Jon Williams’ “Plot Rant” begins —

I just finished listening to an audio book, a mystery/thriller thingie with an interesting, somewhat science-fictiony premise. The writing was on the high end of competent, and the characters held my interest, and the novel’s milieu was interesting and fresh, at least to me.

What finally broke my patience was the author’s method of building suspense, which was to have one of his characters do something bone-stupid in order to get into jeopardy.

We see this on TV all the time, where police routinely charge into villain-rich environments without calling for backup, or people poke sleeping monsters with sticks, or go into a dark cave in search of treasure and/or a kidnap victim. It makes me crazy when I see it on television, too….

(5) LAUNCH PAD IS READY. Rocket Stack Rank has hooked up its ratings links to the various awards people will be voting on.

(6) NOT TO BE MISSED. Tangent Online has posted the “Tangent Online 2021 Recommended Reading List” based on their ratings for short fiction from the past year.

As with previous years, this list is not meant as comprehensive, there being a number of items we didn’t see, especially at the novella length. As was the case with the last several years, we narrowed our focus (with some exceptions) to those stories published in professionally paying markets as defined by SFWA.

There are 300 stories on this year’s list (down 72 from last year’s 372): 235 short stories (down 78 from last year’s 313), 53 novelettes (up 8 from last year’s 45), and 12 novellas (up 2 from last year’s 10).

(7) ALREADY MISSED, BUT YOU COULD CATCH UP. At GeorgeTakei.com: “People Break Down The Most Underrated Television Shows”.

Back in the day, the generations before us only had five channels, or less to chose from for their tv entertainment.

And even then there were stills shows that got overlooked, thank goodness for the idea of implementing reruns.

Now here we are, with more television than we’ll ever be able to watch. Thousands of shows on thousands of channels, worldwide.

So of course, tons of great work will go unnoticed. But maybe we can remedy a few situations….

For example:

“Reaper. On his 21st birthday, Sam discovers his parents sold his soul to the devil before birth and he must now be a bounty hunter for the devil until he dies.” ~ EnigmaCA

(8) FREE TAFF BOOK. The Incompleat Burbee, a digital edition gathering some of Charles Burbee’s finest fanwriting, is the latest addition to TAFF’s library of free downloads. Following on the heels of the Francis T. Laney collection released last month, here is another familiar name to all who read about the 1940s LASFS in Rob Hansen’s Bixelstrasse. The Burbee collection is available in multiple formats at the Trans-Atlantic Fan Fund’s website, where they also hope you’ll make a little donation to the fund. 

Charles Burbee and his comrade-in-arms Francis Towner Laney (see Ah! Sweet Idiocy! and Ah! Sweet Laney!) were among the original “Insurgents” of 1940s Los Angeles fandom, opting for the motto FIJAGH or Fandom Is Just A Goddamn Hobby rather than the then prevailing mood of FIAWOL or Fandom Is A Way Of Life. Burbee in particular preferred humour, sarcasm and sometimes unforgivable put-downs to the solemn worship at the altars of SF and SF professionals that he thought he saw in the Los Angeles Science Fantasy Society of that era. No wonder he was fired as editor of the club’s official fanzine Shangri-L’Affaires.

The Incompleat Burbee is a selection of his best and funniest work produced as a Festschrift for his birthday in 1958 by Pete Graham, Ron Ellik, Terry Carr, Dave Rike and “Carl Brandon”, with cover art by William Rotsler. It was twice reprinted, mostly from the same stencils though with some corrections and small additions, in 1959 and 1974. A second, reset edition was published by Arnie and Joyce Katz in 1993.

First published as an Ansible Editions ebook for the TAFF site on 1 February 2022, based on the third printing as scanned by Joe Siclari (to whom many thanks) and available online at Fanac.org. The ebook uses the original William Rotsler cover art. 56,500 words.

(9) HOWARD HESSEMAN (1940-2022). Actor Howard Hesseman died January 29 at the age of 81. He was best known for his non-sff work on the TV series WKRP in Cincinnati and Head of the Class.

He was in all kinds of genre adjacent films like the counter culture drama Billy Jack (as a drama instructor), and comedies such as Mel Brooks’ Silent Movie, the disaster movie parody The Big Bus, and This Is Spinal Tap,

As for genre films, he was in Flight of the Navigator, Amazon Women on the Moon, Martian Child, Halloween II, Bigfoot. On TV he appeared on Ray Bradbury Theater (“Downwind From Gettysburg” as Bayes, creator of the Lincoln robot), The Outer Limits, and Level 9.

(10) MEMORY LANE.

1992 [Item by Cat Eldridge.] Thirty years ago at Magicon where Spider Robinson was the Toastmaster, Lois McMaster Bujold’s Barrayar wins the Hugo for Best Novel. It had seen print first in Analog from July through October of 1991 and then in book form from Baen in that year. Other nominated works were Emma Bull’s Bone Dance, Anne McCaffrey‘s All the Weyrs of Pern, Joan D. Vinge’s The Summer Queen, Orson Scott Card’s Xenocide, and Michael Swanwick’s Stations of the Tide. It also won the Locus Award for Best SF Novel and was nominated for a Nebula Award.

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born January 30, 1911 Hugh Marlowe. First, let me note that he was first to play the title character in the very first radio version of The Adventures of Ellery Queen. No, it’s not even genre adjacent but neat none-the-less. As regards genre roles, he’s Tom Stevens in The Day the Earth Stood Still, and Dr. Russell A. Marvin in Earth vs. the Flying Saucers. He was also Harold McPherson in Seven Days in May if you want to count that as genre. (Died 1982.)
  • Born January 30, 1920 Michael Anderson. English Director best remembered for Around the World in 80 Days, Logan’s Run, and perhaps not nearly as much for, Doc Savage: The Man of Bronze. Yes, I saw it. It was, errrr, interesting. He also directed The Martian Chronicles series. (Died 2018.)
  • Born January 30, 1924 Lloyd Alexander. His most well-crafted work is The Chronicles of Prydain. Though drawn off Welsh mythology, they deviate from it in significant ways stripping it of much of its negativity.  To my belief, it is his only genre writing as I don’t hold the Westmark trilogy to actually be fantasy, just an alternative telling of European history. Splitting cat hairs? Maybe. He was also one of the founders of Cricket, an illustrated literary journal for children. The late illustrator Trina Schart Hyman whose art I lust after, errrr, adore was another. (Died 2007.) 
  • Born January 30, 1926 Peter Brachacki. Set designer for the very first episode of Doctor Who. Everything I’ve been able to read on him and that work says that he was not at all interested in working on the series and did so reluctantly under orders. Doctor Who producer Verity Lambert would later recount that she was impressed with Brachacki’s work on the TARDIS interior even though she personally did not like him at all. His design elements persist throughout the fifty years the series has been produced. His only other genre work that I’ve been able to find was Blake’s 7 and a short series called the The Witch’s Daughter done in the late Seventies. The BBC wasn’t always great at documenting who worked on what series. (Died 1980.)
  • Born January 30, 1941 Gregory Benford, 82. His longest running series is Galactic Center Saga, a series I find a little akin to Saberhagen’s Beserker series. I’ve not read enough of it to form a firm opinion though I know some of you of have done so.  Other novels I’ve read by him include Timescape (superb) and A Darker Geometry: A Man-Kzin Novel which was actually was quite excellent. Yes, I do read Baen Books. 
  • Born January 30, 1955 Judith Tarr, 67. I’m fond of her Richard the Lionheart novels which hew closely to the historical record while introducing just enough magic to make them fantasy. The novels also make good use of her keen knowledge of horsemanship as well. Her Queen of the Amazons pairs the historical Alexander the Great, with a meeting with the beautiful Hippolyta, who is queen of the Amazons. Highly recommended. 
  • Born January 30, 1973 Jordan Prentice, 49. Inside every duck is a self-described person of short stature. In the case of Howard the Duck from the movie of the same name, one of those persons was him. He’s not in a lot of SFF roles after his performing debut there though he shows up next as Fingers Finnian in Wolf Girl, playing Sherrif Shelby in Silent But Deadly, Napoleon in Mirror Mirror and Nigel Thumb in The Night Before the Night Before Christmas
  • Born January 30, 1974 Christian Bale, 48. First enters our corner of the mediaverse in a Swedish film called Mio in the Land of Faraway where he plays a character named Yum Yum. Note though that he doesn’t speak in this role as his Swedish voice is done by Max Winerdah. So his playing Demetrius in A Midsummer Night’s Dream is his first speaking role. Next up is American Psycho in which he was Patrick Bateman, that was followed by a role in Reign of Fire as Quinn Abercromby. He was John Preston in Equilibrium, and he voiced Howl in Howl’s Moving Castle, a film well worth seeing.  Need I say who he plays in Batman Begins? I thought not. He’d repeat that in The Dark Knight and The Dark Knight Rises. Amidst being Batman, he was also John Connor in Terminator Salvation. His last genre role to date was voicing Bagheera in Mowgli: Legend of the Jungle asked off Kipling’s All the Mowgli Stories. He’s got a television genre credit, to wit Jim Hawkins in Treasure Island off the Robert Louis Stevenson of that name.

(12) RIDING ON THE CITY OF COCOA BEACH.  Here’s a fun concept – the Lionel Union Pacific Rocket Booster Train. For a mere $1,699.99 you get a Legacy ES44AC locomotive, 6 Standard O boxcars including one with special clearance bars, 5 Heavy duty flatcars with loads and protective covers, and a 21″ sleeping car. And the rocket in the cargo can be assembled into a 30-inch tall scale model. Heck, that’s even taller than a Hugo Award!

(13) TIME FOR REFLECTION. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] From Saturday Night Live — Be careful what you wish for when a magic mirror shows up in Beauty and the Beast!

(14) HEAVIER THAN AIR. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In the Washington Post Magazine, David A. Taylor tracks down Bill Suitor, who was one of Sean Connery’s stunt doubles in the jetpack scene in Thunderball. He also interviews Air and Space Museum senior curator Mike Neufeld, who explains that rocket belts did not develop because they only had 20 seconds flying time and were very loud at 130 decibels. “Man flies rocketpack more than 1,000 times”.

For many years, I wasn’t sure if what I saw was real or some sort of hopeful childhood vision: I was in a large crowd on the National Mall and a figure in a white spacesuit wearing a jetpack suddenly floated off the ground. He was flying! After rising straight up, he swept forward, then swooped back above the crowd.I was about 5 years old. Was it a “Jetsons” phantom memory? I grew up in a white-bread Virginia suburb and my father was working as a NASA engineer. But this was way cooler.

Then I forgot about it, for decades. But about a year ago, the image popped into my mind and I decided to do some research. I came across a 1967 newspaper clipping with a black-and-white photo. Billed as fun for children, the Pageant of Transportation included a “rocket belt” flying man.

The caption named the rocket man as Bill Suitor. In the photo he floats midair with a balloonist near the Washington Monument. I wondered if Suitor was still around. …

(15) FAN MADE CINEMA. This Star Wars fan film dropped two days ago: The Battlefield – A Star Wars short film made with Unreal Engine 5”.

A new recruit discovers that the Imperial Academy might not have been entirely truthful about the realities of war.

‘The Battlefield’ is part of the series ‘For the Empire’ and was created entirely in Unreal Engine 5 as a workflow test for the upcoming AFK miniseries ‘A Hole in the World’.

(16) VIDEO OF THE DAY. J. Michael Straczynski has made public another Babylon 5 commentary: “The Coming of Shadows”.

For every new B5 commentary video I post on my Patreon page, I release a prior one into the wild. The other day I posted a full-length sync-up commentary on COMES THE INQUISITOR, so that means I can now release the next one in line, THE COMING OF SHADOWS. The Patreon page is where all the Cool Kids hang out, and in return for their support get first news on all of my upcoming projects, the inside track on development, access to scripts, audio, these commentaries, photos and other spiffiness. There’s also a writer’s tier where those who want an intensive program of group critiquing (by me and the other members) and original essays on the craft of writing hang out.

All of that being said, here’s the free link to my full-length video commentary on THE COMING OF SHADOWS.

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

Pixel Scroll 1/26/22 Have You Seen This Missing Scroll? Last Seen Pixeling In The Vicinity Of Fandom

(1) CHINA CENSORS FIX FIGHT CLUB. Remember the first rule of Fight Club? That’s okay. Just don’t remember the final scenes. BBC News reports “China changes Fight Club film ending so the authorities win”.

The ending to cult 1999 US film Fight Club has been removed for viewers in China, and replaced by a screen with a message saying the authorities won.

The original ending saw Edward Norton’s narrator killing his imaginary alter-ego Tyler Durden, played by Brad Pitt, before bombs destroyed buildings in the climax to a subversive plot to reorder society, dubbed Project Mayhem.

In China, before the explosions, a message now says the police foiled the plot, arrested the criminals and sent Durden to a “lunatic asylum”.

The new finale tells viewers: “Through the clue provided by Tyler, the police rapidly figured out the whole plan and arrested all criminals, successfully preventing the bomb from exploding.

“After the trial, Tyler was sent to lunatic asylum receiving psychological treatment. He was discharged from the hospital in 2012.”

Director David Fincher’s film has recently been added to streaming platform Tencent Video, and Human Rights Watch described the changes as “dystopian”.

…The changes were flagged up on social media by outraged viewers who had previously seen pirated copies of the original.

It’s not uncommon for Chinese censor to make cuts to Western films, but it’s more rare for them to change an ending.

Some social media users made light of the new Fight Club ending.

Of course, that film’s not sff. They’re probably fine with ending to 1984 – the only problem is the whole movie that precedes it.

(2) BLEEP OF THE RINGS. Were there censors in Middle-Earth? “Billy Boyd and Dom Monaghan Talk Best LOTR Swears” in the latest episode of The Friendship Onion podcast (which you can access here.) Yahoo! Lifestyle sets up the preview:

In this clip, Billy Boyd and Dominic Monaghan delightedly discover that The Lord of the Rings has a PG-13 rating in the United States. This means the movie could have contained a singular swear word. Of course, the movies didn’t actually make use of this ability. But Boyd and Monaghan, in true Merry and Pippin style, invite us to imagine the possibilities.

Their top choices? Gandalf saying, “F**cking fool of a Tuck.” Or Pippin say, “Oh, I’m really f**cking sorry, Gandalf.” And the best one, of course. the idea of Aragorn saying, “My friends, you f**cking bow to know one.” I admit that’s where I lost it. Nothing like the King of Gondor dropping a casual swear at the most emotional moment.

(3) PRATCHETT BIO ON THE WAY. It’s a big news day for Terry Pratchett fans. In the first of three items, the Guardian’s Alison Flood says Rob Wilkins, head of Pratchett’s literary estate, is producing an official biography of Terry Pratchett.

Rob Wilkins, Terry Pratchett’s former assistant and friend, is writing the official biography of the late Discworld author, which will move from his childhood to the “embuggerance” of the Alzheimer’s disease he was diagnosed with in 2007.

Pratchett was working on his autobiography when he died in 2015, but “following his untimely death from Alzheimer’s disease, the mantle of completing Terry Pratchett’s memoir was passed to Rob”, said publisher Transworld.

It will include “fragments” from the memoir Pratchett was working on before he died, the publisher added….

(4) VIMES BOOTS. “Terry Pratchett estate backs Jack Monroe’s idea for ‘Vimes Boots’ poverty index” in the Guardian.

Terry Pratchett’s estate has authorised Jack Monroe to use the “Vimes Boots Index” as the name of her new price index, which is intended to document the “insidiously creeping prices” of basic food products.

The author’s daughter, writer Rhianna Pratchett, said her father would have been proud to see his work used in this way by the anti-poverty campaigner. Monroe was prompted to create her index after inflation jumped to 5.4% last week, and she found herself “infuriate[d]” that the index (the consumer price index or CPI) used for this calculation “grossly underestimates the real cost of inflation as it happens to people with the least”. She laid out how the prices of “value” product ranges in supermarkets had soared over the last decade – rice in her local supermarket had increased in price from 45p for a kilogram bag last year, to £1 for 500g, a 344% increase – and how the number of value products has shrunk. She was soon working with economists, charities and analysts to compile her own index….

(5) SECOND SERVING OF OMENS. “‘Good Omens’: Cast Confirmed For Season 2 Of Neil Gaiman’s Amazon Fantasy Series”, and Deadline has their names.

Cast has been set for season two of Amazon and BBC’s Neil Gaiman fantasy series Good Omens, which remains in production in Scotland.

Reprising his role as Metatron is Derek Jacobi (Gladiator) and joining the cast for season two is his I, Claudius co-star Dame Siân Phillips (Dune).

Also returning this season in roles that span heaven, hell, and earth are the trio from The League of Gentlemen Mark Gatiss (Sherlock), Steve Pemberton (Killing Eve), and Reece Shearsmith (Inside No. 9).

Niamh Walsh (The English Game) returns, while joining in new roles are Tim Downie (Outlander), Pete Firman (The Magicians), Andi Osho (I May Destroy You), and Alex Norton (Pirates of the Caribbean).

However, neither Frances McDormand (God) nor Benedict Cumberbatch (Satan) will be back for season two.

(6) BLACK TO THE FUTURE. The Hollywood Reporter interviews the actress: “Keke Palmer on How ‘Alice’ Explores Black Freedom Through Its Time Twist”.

Alice, which is due out in theaters March 18 via Roadside Attractions, is inspired by true events of Black Americans who remained enslaved after the Emancipation Proclamation. A blend of time travel, historical drama and revenge thriller, the movie is an ode to (and spin-on) Blaxpoitation films….

There’s this acknowledgment that Black people have limitations around time travel because they don’t have the same freedoms as now. But this movie doesn’t pull its main character into the past; it pulls her forward into freedom and the future. How does that make this film different than works with a similar storyline? 

Yes, it’s set in the past, but it is pulling into the future. I think that’s a big thing. Where we start and then mostly live in the 1970s space, [which] still feels like now in a sense. Ultimately, that’s what the movie is saying. Things aren’t done and over just like that. Everything doesn’t just change. But you keep going, not in spite of but because of — like Alice. You keep going because of the Franks because of the Martin Luthers because of the Malcolm Xes. Also, it’s not going to be the same fight each time. I’m excited to see how people will unpack and digest that. When I think about the time travel in this film, it doesn’t feel like we are waiting in the back. And it’s being used in a way that reflects a mirror of us today. So many of us today are Frank. But then you look at Alice, who was just in the field, and you’re like, “What the hell am I doing?”

(7) WHAT’S THAT YOU SAY? [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] Word of Mouth is a sort of whimsical philosophy-of-language radio show on BBC Radio 4. Yesterday’s episode – now available for downloading for a month (and on BBC Sounds thereafter, if you have an account) – sees a discussion on alien communication following first contact. Along the way they discuss the film Arrival and the novel Project Hail Mary. Word of Mouth, “It’s language, Jim, but not as we know it”.

Could aliens ‘speak’ in chemicals? Could they converse in electricity? Would they be able to hear us? In the absence of a Star Trek-style universal translator, how would you talk to an alien newly arrived on Planet Earth?

Dr Hannah Little is a science communicator, linguist and comedian. She joins Michael Rosen for some fascinating thought experiments on extraterrestrial communication and animal interactions closer to home. What might all this tell us about how human language first appeared, and why does it matter?

(8) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

1994 [Item by Cat Eldridge.] Twenty-eight years ago on PTEN, the Prime Time Entertainment Network, a syndicated network organized by Warner Brothers, the Babylon 5 series premiered.  It was created by writer and producer J. Michael Straczynski and it followed the pilot film Babylon 5: The Gathering which aired a year earlier. It would run for five twenty-two episode seasons as planned plus six related films. 

It generated a spin-off series, Crusade, but that only lasted thirteen episodes. Two other series were planned, The Legend of the Rangers and The Lost Tales, but neither got past the pilot. 

Its cast was marked by tragedy with a number of the principal actors dying young including Mira Furlan, Richard Biggs, Jeff Conaway, Jerry Doyle, Andreas Katsulas and Michael O’Hare. 

It won two Hugo Awards for “The Coming of Shadows” at L.A. Con III and “Severed Dreams” at LoneStarCon II. Neil Gaiman wrote an episode, “The Day of The Dead” which is on my frequent rewatch list. Harlan Ellison is the voice of Zooty in this episode. 

Babylon 5 in revised print is streaming on HBO Max.

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born January 26, 1918 Philip José Farmer. I know I’ve read at least the first three Riverworld novels (To Your Scattered Bodies GoThe Fabulous Riverboat and The Dark Design) but I’ll be damned if I recognize the latter ones. Great novels those first three are. And I’ll admit that I’m not familiar at all with the World of Tiers or Dayworld series. I’m sure someone here has read them.  I do remember his Doc Savage novel Escape from Loki as being a highly entertaining read, and I see he’s done a number of Tarzan novels as well. (Died 2009.)
  • Born January 26, 1928 Roger Vadim. Director, Barbarbella with Jane Fonda in a leather bikini. That alone gets a Birthday Honor. But he was one of three directors of Spirits of the Dead, a horror anthology film. (Louis Malle and Federico Fellini were the others.) And not to stop there, he directed another horror film, Blood and Roses (Et mourir de plaisir) and even was involved in The Hitchhiker horror anthology series. (Died 2000.)
  • Born January 26, 1929 Jules Feiffer, 93. On the Birthday list as he’s the illustrator of The Phantom Tollbooth. Well, and that he also worked on Eisner’s Spirit, starting in 1946 as an art assistant and later the primary writer til the strip ended in 1952, which helped get him into the Comic Book Hall of Fame. Let’s not overlook that he wrote The Great Comic Book Heroes in the Sixties which made it the first history of the superheroes of the late Thirties and Forties and their creators.
  • Born January 26, 1943 Judy-Lynn Del Rey. Editor at Ballantine Books after first starting at Galaxy Magazine. Dick and Asimov were two of her clients who considered her the best editor they’d worked with. Wife of Lester del Rey. She suffered a brain hemorrhage in October 1985 and died several months later. Though she won a Hugo Award for Best Professional Editor after her death, her widower turned it down on the grounds that it only been awarded because of her death. (Died 1986.)
  • Born January 26, 1949 Jonathan Carroll, 73. I think his best work by far is The Crane’s View Trilogy consisting of Kissing the Beehive, The Marriage of Sticks and The Wooden Sea. I know de Lint likes these novels though mainstream critics were less than thrilled. White Apples I thought was a well-crafted novel and The Crow’s Dinner is his wide-ranging look at life in general, not genre at all but fascinating.
  • Born January 26, 1960 Stephen Cox, 62. Pop culture writer who has written a number of books on genre subjects including The Munchkins Remember: The Wizard of Oz and BeyondThe Addams Chronicles: Everything You Ever Wanted to Know about the Addams FamilyDreaming of Jeannie: TV’s Primetime in a Bottle and The Munsters: A Trip Down Mockingbird Lane. I’ll admit to being puzzled by his Cooking in Oz that he did with Elaine Willingham as I don’t remember that much for food in the Oz books…
  • Born January 26, 1979 Yoon Ha Lee, 43. Best known for his Machineries of Empire space opera novels and his short fiction. His most excellent  Ninefox Gambit, his first novel, received the 2017 Locus Award for Best First Novel. His latest novel is Tiger Honor, the sequel to Dragon Pearl.

(10) JUPITER’S LEGACY, VOUME 5. [Item by Daniel Dern.] Volume 5 of Jupiter’s Legacy now available on Hoopla (and elsewhere). If you enjoyed the multi-generational superhero  Jupiter’s Legacy series (alas, only one season) on Netflix (I did), and/or the comic book series originally titled Jupiter’s Children) that the show is based on (ditto), written by Mark Millar and (mostly) illustrated by Frank Quitely, you’ll be happy to know that Volume 5, collecting issues 1-6 of the 12-issue “Requiem” arc, is (as I discovered last night) on Hoopla (free, to library patrons of Hoopla-participating libraries). (Also available in physical-book and electronic editions, e.g., on Kindle.)

I’m enjoying it — three issues in so far, and relieved to discover it’s slated for 12 issues, since I don’t see things wrapping up by this volume’s end.

(11) JUST LOOKING. Abigail Nussbaum lists “The Books I’m Looking Forward to in 2022” at Lawyers, Guns & Money. Though she confesses there’s not necessarily an overlap between anticipation and actual reading:

… But as the experience of the last few years has shown, the most anticipated books list isn’t a reading plan (I think I’ve read fewer than half of the books I listed last year) so much as it is a snapshot of the literary year to come. And it’s a reflection of one’s own reading history—my copy of Hanya Yanagihara’s A Little Life has sat unread on a shelf for more than six years, so I can’t participate in the ebullience and/or disdain that has greeted the news of her new novel, To Paradise. On the other hand, when authors I’ve reviewed and championed, like Isaac Fellman or Rachel Hartman, announce new books, I feel invested in advertising that fact and widening their readership circle….

(12) KEEPING HIS STRING GOING. Movieweb is there when “Anthony Daniels Teases C-3PO Star Wars Return With Motion Capture Image”.

Giving a pretty undeniable hint of what he is up to, Daniels shared a photo of himself in a motion capture suit at Ealing Studios, London, on his Instagram account, with the caption “Finally, a new suit – that fits!.” The actor included the hashtags #c3po, #starwars and #iamc3po, leaving it in do doubt that he is clearly getting ready to bring Threepio back to the screen once again, although the use of the mo-cap technology would suggest that this could possibly be a CGI-version of the droid, which could tie into the new Disney+-bound A Droid Story.

(13) GOOD TIDINGS. NPR shares “Sea shanties written for the digital age” – which we would call filksongs if fans wrote them. For example:

“The Ballad of IT Help”

Oh, the call came in about 9:16
Is this IT? Help. I need you
It tried to log on on me machine
And there’s nothing but dark all o’er my screen

Reboot says I!
But I canna reply
Til ye filled out form A-1-5!
Tis’ on our site
But nothing works!
I canna help you connect
unless you connect
Pull down the menu and hit select!

(14) BETTING ON FUSION. People with very deep pockets are “Reaching to the stars to create fusion energy” reports Bruce Gellerman in this public radio sound file.

American billionaires are funding companies to create fusion energy which uses super magnets to harness the energy of the stars and create a clean source of energy.

As WBUR’s Bruce Gellerman reports, one start-up in Massachusetts recently received an $1.8 billion infusion from Bill Gates, George Soros and others.

(15) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In “Honest Trailers: Eternals,” the Screen Junkies say that many scenes in the film abandon the green screen and “go beyond the farthest reaches of a nerd’s imagination:  outside” but that the film will appeal to someone whose “idea of fun is watching ten people debate the trolley problem for 2 1/2 hours.”

[Thanks to Andrew Porter, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, Steven French, Chris Barkley, Daniel Dern, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Alan Baumler, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Soon Lee.]