Lis Carey Review: Foxglove Summer

Peter was just taking a quick trip to Herefordshire to interview a retired wizard who’s a fellow veteran of Nightingale’s unit in WWII, in regards to a case he most likely has no involvement with anyway—two missing 11-year-old girls. He’s quickly satisfied the elderly, frail man has no connection to the case, but he can’t walk away from two missing children. He asks to be assigned to the case in any capacity in which he can be useful. Which is how he winds up confronting carnivorous unicorns, ghost trees, bees, and faeries who aren’t at all nice or friendly. Oh, and inseminating a river with Beverly Brook. Yes, their relationship has progressed a bit!

Foxglove Summer (Rivers of London #5), by Ben Aaronovitch
DAW, January 2015 (original publication November 2014)

Review by Lis Carey: Two children have gone missing in Herefordshire, and Peter Grant is sent out to check on a retired old wizard in the area, just in case he might be involved, or aware of something the regular police won’t ask him about. He finds Hugh Oswald, but he’s old, frail, and falls asleep very easily. He’s not aware of anything, and is a seriously poor candidate to have done anything. His granddaughter, Mellissa, is a beekeeper in a fairly big way, and there’s definitely something odd about her, but she doesn’t seem at all a likely suspect, either.

So, back home to London? No, with two children missing, Peter doesn’t want to walk away. He calls Nightingale to report, and also to ask permission to go offer his services to the local police.

The local police are not inclined to refuse an extra officer on the case, but they do have concerns. Does PC Grant have any reason to think there is any of That Weird Stuff involved? No, he just doesn’t two children being missing, and he doesn’t have any pressing cases waiting for him in London. They go around the question a few different ways, but Peter assures them that he expects this to be as routine as a missing-children case can be, and he’s happy to do any job that will make him useful. He gets tagged as the assistant Family Liaison Officer for one of the families, freeing up an experienced local officer for the search for the missing girls.

But of course Peter’s venture out of London can’t be smooth and uneventful — or unmagical. He starts to notice signs of odd things going on with this case. The girls were in the habit of taking “night walks” when conditions suited. One of the girls had an “invisible friend,” a unicorn called Princess Luna. One of their cellphones is found, but it’s dead. Battery dead, is what the local authorities conclude. Peter asks to examine the phone, and it’s dead from the effects of magic performed nearby. The other girl, not the one with the unicorn friend, has an older half-sister who ran away years earlier, taking her baby sister with her — and something strange happened, that she can’t quite recall, but she went home taking her baby sister with her.

Beverly Brook, who should be in London, comes to Herefordshire–and gets kidnapped by a couple of local river goddesses, because she thought it would be simpler to swim, and trespassed in the process. Peter has to come and make nice to the river goddesses to get her out. Their relationship seems to have taken another step forward, and Peter is happy about that.

He’s not so happy that Lesley May has started calling him. They’re quick calls, from a burner. He has to log and report every contact, and his superiors have some hope of getting her to turn herself in. Peter doesn’t share that optimism, He’s soon using a burner phone for the unavoidable contact with her.

Meanwhile, the missing girls case keeps getting weirder and weirder. There are carnivorous unicorns, a changeling, ghost trees, a forest with a convoluted history where strange things happen, and a faerie queen who is, well, think all your images of wicked elves rather than nice ones. There’s Harold Oswald, who though elderly, frail, and inclined to sleep a good deal, is more on the ball that Peter initially thought.

Peter learns some interesting things about Nightingale’s past.

And there is a major, and dangerous clash in the forest.

Peter’s life is not going to be the same again.

There’s fun and humorous moments, too, but this is a book with emotional depth and major challenges for Peter.

Recommended.

I received this book as a gift.

Review: Broken Homes (Rivers of London #4)

A dead woman with no ID, her face shot off, and DNA that appears to come from what Peter, Nightingale, and the team refer to as “The Strip Club of Dr. Moreau.” A city planner who turns around to go back down to the underground tracks, and inexplicably appears to commit suicide. A burglar found dead, burned from the inside. A stolen grimoire of industrial magic, which is traced back to a deceased crazy architect who built the SkyGardens council housing estate, where very odd things seem to be happening. Is Peter headed for another confrontation with the Faceless Man?

Broken Homes (Rivers of London #4), by Ben Aaronovitch (author), Kobna Holdbrook-Smith (narrator)
Penguin Audio, ISBN 9780756409937, February 2014 (original publication February 2013)

By Lis Carey: Peter Grant and partner Lesley May are at the Folly practicing their magic skills and researching an Oxford dining club called the Little Crocodiles. Magic — Lesley is doing more careful, disciplined, and therefore somewhat more skilled work than Peter. Little Crocodiles — their professor was illicitly teaching them Newtonian magic.

They’re interrupted by a call to an auto accident, with the drunk driver dead and the other driver, who was speeding, not badly hurt. And yet there’s blood in the car. Turns out it’s not the driver’s blood. Whose is it?

Oh, and the driver, Robert Weil, is connected to the Little Crocodiles.

When they find a body, a woman whose face has apparently been shot off with a shotgun, Dr. Walid reaches the disturbing conclusion that her DNA suggests she’s a product of what they’ve come to call “the strip club of Dr. Moreau,” which featured human-animal chimeras. That’s an alarming situation to be facing.

But a policeman, even one dealing in magic, rarely has just one case on his plate. Sgt, Jaget Kumar of the British Transportation Police alerts Peter to the very odd apparent suicide of Richard Lewis, a city planner for the Southwark Council, on the tracks of an underground station. The body of a burglar is found in Bromley, burnt from the inside. A young and apparently healthy real estate auditor dies of a heart attack. A stolen German grimoire is found and traced to the late architect Eric Stromberg, who built Skygardens, a council housing estate where there’s conflict between developers and residents.

What’s the chance all these cases and weird events are unrelated?

Peter and Lesley suspect the Faceless Man, who has been a growing threat. They move into a flat in the Skygardens, undercover, and start quietly investigating. This is also how Peter learns that off-duty, Lesley is spending a lot of time with Zach Palmer, which strikes him as really odd, but not really a concern. She’s an adult and a good police officer, right?

In the course of all this, Peter is in the midst of his mandatory safety training, and has to make those classes, and with multiple dead bodies, he’s also doing a lot of relatively routine police procedural stuff, which he hates, but agrees is necessary. Lesley is better at this, too.

When Peter figures out what’s really going on at Skygardens, he finds disaster about to break out, and no time left to prevent it.

I’ve barely scratched the surface of what happens. Have I mentioned the Russian nightwitch? Beverly Brook’s return from up north? Peter’s scientific experiments in magic detection? Nightingale’s demonstration of the fact that his fussy manner doesn’t interfere with him being a very effective practitioner of magic, in what might be the book’s best scene?

There’s also another rooftop confrontation, just Peter and the Faceless Man, in the course of which Peter gets a heartbreaking surprise.

It’s altogether a well-written book, with well-written, emotionally complex characters, and it’s done with a light hand. We get the message; we don’t get pounded on the head with it. It’s leavened with a good deal of subtle humor, too, even after it takes a more serious tone in the second half of the book. It’s also a book that takes seriously the problems and complexities of the lower economic strata of society, again, without being too heavy-handed.

Kobna Holdbrook-Smith, as usual, does an excellent job with the narration.

Highly recommended.

I bought this audiobook.

Review: Tales from the Folly: A Rivers of London Short Story Collection by Ben Aaronovitch

Ben Aaronovitch’s Rivers of London world includes more characters than Peter Grant and his coworkers, and more places than just the neighborhoods and suburbs of London. In this collection, we meet a very odd book with a mind of its own, a drug dealer with a taste for fine cloth who meets an infant river goddess, and a “favourite uncle” whom one of the teens becomes very concerned about when she realizes he’s not on the family tree and has been visiting at Christmas for generations. And more.

Tales from the Folly: A Rivers of London Short Story Collection (Rivers of London #1.5, 1.6, 2.5, 3.5, 4.6, 5.1).  By Ben Aaronovitch (JABberwocky Literary Agency, July 2020)

By Lis Carey: This is a collection of short stories, including some “moments,” short pieces that Aaronovitch doesn’t want to call stories, set in the Rivers of London world. Not all of these stories feature the major characters in the novels. Several feature side characters, and characters whose stories were intended to be one-offs, but perhaps won’t be.

Well, in at least two cases, clearly won’t be. Tobias Winter and Vanessa Sommer, two young German police officers, met in The October Man. In Tales From the Folly, Tobias has a Moment in which he first learned disturbing news about the UK’s magical establishment. Vanessa has a short story in which, with her new knowledge, she returns home at Christmas time, intending to check out some of the peculiar features of her childhood community.

We also have Peter Grant going to the British Library to spend a night with the Folly’s own archivist, Professor Harold Postmartin, and the Library’s Special Collections Manager, Elise Winstanley, who turns out to be an old acquaintance of his mother’s. How old? She attended Peter’s christening, and knows his mother by her Sierra Leonean name. Ms. Whinstanley thinks the library has a poltergeist in Rare Books. It turns out to be something far more interesting.

There’s Abigail’s old school friend’s “favourite uncle,” who turns out not to be anywhere in the family tree and to have been visiting the family at Christmas for a very long time. The drug dealer and fashion connoisseur who needs to hide in a rundown house near a river when a deal goes wrong, and has a very unexpected experience. There’s a domestic quarrel which turns out to be the business of the Folly, and a happily married couple, a farmer and his former London police officer husband, who are congratulated by the local talking foxes on a blessing they haven’t yet received.

And more. It’s fun, interesting, and rounds out the world Peter, Nightingale, and the Folly operate in.

Recommended.

I received this book as a gift, and am reviewing it voluntarily.

Future Worlds Prize for Fantasy and Science Fiction Writers of Colour Taking Entries

The Future Worlds Prize for Fantasy and Science Fiction Writers of Colour is now open for submissions from unpublished writers of colour based in the UK and Ireland.

The prize is now in its third year, and is funded by author Ben Aaronovitch and Bridgerton actor Adjoa Andoh. 

Future Worlds Prize for Fantasy and Science Fiction Writers of Colour aims to find new talent writing in the SFF space, from magical realism and space operas to dystopia and more. The winner will receive a prize of £4,000, the runner-up £2,000 and up to six additional shortlisted authors will each receive £800. All shortlisted writers, the runner-up and the winner will also receive mentoring from one of the prize’s publishing partners.

Submission will be taken until 23:59 GMT on Monday, February 6, 2023.

The 2021 prize was won by M. H. Ayinde, for her story A Shadow in Chains. The runner-up was Salma Ibrahim for her story Frankincense.

The prize began taking entries today, the day before NaNoWriMo begins. Throughout November, to mark NaNoWriMo and inspire writers, the Future Worlds Prize will be sharing writing tips and advice on its social media from authors of colour in the SFF space. These authors include Tade Thompson, Vaishnavi Patel, Sue Lynn Tan and Saara El-Arifi, as well as previous shortlistees of the prize.

Ben Aaronovitch said: “It is hugely satisfying to see Future Worlds Prize going into its third year and settling into its place in the busy literary awards scene. Since we launched in 2020, we’ve been blown away by the imagination and storytelling powers of all of our entrants, and delighted to see our shortlisted writers working with their publishing mentors and going on to secure agents. We knew when we started that there would be some undiscovered gems, but were truly unprepared for the rich seam of talent from writers of colour that we’ve struck.  

“None of this would be possible, of course, without our amazing publishing partners, and we’re looking forward to working with even more of them this time, but I don’t think I’m allowed to talk about this yet…”

Adjoa Andoh said: “In the third year of Future Worlds Prize we hope to further increase the pool of writers of colour choosing to work in science fiction and fantasy. We encourage those on the journey to first publication to bring their work to us, to apply for this prize, receive expert support and advice and flourish in their chosen field to the great benefit of all of the readership.”

The prize was founded in 2020 by Ben Aaronovitch and Gollancz. The 2020 prize was won by Esmie Jikiemi-Pearson for The Principle of Moments, a space-based adventure story. Jikiemi-Pearson has since secured a publishing deal with Gollancz, and her debut novel will be released in 2023.

In 2021 it was rebranded as Future Worlds Prize for Fantasy and Science Fiction Writers of Colour, and became a community interest company in 2022, co-directed by Sarah Shaffi and Andy Ryan.

For more on the prize, see http://www.futureworldsprize.co.uk/, or follow them on Twitter, and Instagram.

[Based on a press release.]

Review: The October Man by Ben Aaronovitch

The October Man (Rivers of London #7.5), by Ben Aaronovitch, Subterranean Press, May 2019

By Lis Carey: This entry in Rivers of London is, for variety, set in Germany, and involves a German river. Or two. And river goddesses.

Tobias Winter is an investigator for Abteilung KDA, the German version of Britain’s Folly. He’s on leave when he gets summoned to Trier, to investigate a possible “infraction.” A man has been found dead, his body completely covered by a strange fungus, which has also invaded his lungs, causing his death.

(Tobias is Germany’s equivalent of Peter Grant, not Thomas Nightingale; he’s the relatively new practitioner recruited because “you can’t trust the British to keep an agreement over the long term.” Yes, there’s competition and distrust between the magical law enforcement operations of Britain and Germany.)

Tobias Winter’s liaison with the Trier police is Vanessa Sommer, who is intelligent, ambitious, and very interested when she learns that Tobi can actually do magic.

Sommer is also her unit’s expert on wine and the local wine industry, more by accident than intention, and the dead man was found near a winery, and was a member of a social group called The Good Wine Drinking Association — half a dozen middle-aged men whose lives were at a standstill in various ways. The fungus is one that is sometimes used in the wine industry.

Winter and Sommer are soon visiting the winery. The owner is the granddaughter of the last man to run it as a working winery, and has spent years in California learning the ways of the California wine industry. This doesn’t include her grandfather’s annual gift of wine to the local river goddess, Kelly, goddess of the River Kyll.

Investigation includes talking to Kelly, to the kindergarten-age new goddess of another river, to every surviving member of the Good Wine Drinking Association — and investigating a court scandal from more than a thousand years ago, when Kelly had taken a mortal lover.

There are more deaths, and the deaths have the inconvenient effect of eliminating suspects while not helping them zero in on the real killer, who might be an illegal practitioner, or something more frightening.

I like the characters, the story is interesting, intricate and satisfying. It’s also quite fun to get the German perspective on the British and the Folly, including Tobias’ study of every detail the Germans have on Detective Constable Peter Grant. It seems there’s a lot of possibility for both rivalry and cooperation between the two magical law enforcement organizations. I’d really like to see some of that.

Recommended.

I received this book as a gift and am reviewing it voluntarily.

The Furthest Station (Rivers of London #5.5), by Ben Aaronovitch

By Lis Carey: The London Underground has ghosts. Well, the London Underground always has ghosts, but usually they’re gentle, sad creatures. Lately there’s been an outbreak of more aggressive ghosts. Groping, shoving, insults that are racist and/or misogynistic–offensive and provocative. Victims of the assault report them, but have completely forgotten them by the time Transport Police get back to them to follow up.

Jaget, the member of the Transport Police most adept at seeing ghosts, calls in Peter Grant, Patrol Constable and Apprentice Wizard, part of the only unit of the Metropolitan Police that deals with ghosts and other spooky stuff. He in turn brings along Abigail, who, yes, is only a teenager, but as someone, perhaps Nightingale, says, she sees ghosts when she’s on her own. Just as well to have her supervised and learning how a proper investigation is run.

They start by trying to find a pattern, and by trying to interview new targets of the ghosts quickly enough that they get some information before the memory fades. When they encounter some ghosts, a strange thing happens. Or, another strange thing. They can interact with these ghosts, to the extent the ghosts are able to interact, for a few minutes. Then the ghost doesn’t leave, or fade. It shatters. That is not previously documented ghost behavior.

Abigail, having had great success in her Latin studies, is allowed to read books in the Folly’s library that Peter is not yet authorized for. This annoys Peter in two ways. One, she’s very much his junior. Two, he promised Abigail he would teach her Latin if she learned Latin. She’s now better at Latin than he is. Abigail also finds what might be a clue, an account of a house at the end of the Underground line where the strange ghosts have been appearing, where a magician of some kind lived.

Peter, meanwhile, meets a toddler river god living with an older, childless couple. Nothing to see here, look away, look away…

It’s not long before they’re tracking a kidnapped commuter, and learning strange things about the uses of trapped ghosts.

Oh, and Peter and Nightingale are worrying about how they’re going to talk to Abigail’s parents about her need to be trained as a wizard.

It’s a lot of fun. Highly recommended.

I received a free copy of this book, and am reviewing it voluntarily.

  • The Furthest Station (Rivers of London #5.5) by Ben Aaronovitch. Subterranean Press, ISBN 9781596068346, June 2017

Review: What Abigail Did That Summer (Rivers of London #5.83), by Ben Aaronovitch

By Lis Carey: This is a novella in the Rivers of London series.

Abigail Kamara, younger cousin of police constable and apprentice wizard Peter Grant, has been left largely unsupervised while he’s off in the sticks on a case. This leaves Abigail making her own decisions when she notices that kids roughly her age are disappearing–but not staying missing long enough for the police to care.

Natali, a girl she slightly knows, invites her to a “happening” on the Heath. When she goes to the Heath to meet up for the happening, she doesn’t find the girl, but does meet a white boy named Simon. Simon was also invited to the “happening” by a different girl, Jessica, whom he slightly knows. When neither of the girls shows up, eventually they abandon the “happening,” but start to develop an unlikely friendship of their own. Simon tries to teach her to climb trees; Abigail wins a small degree of favor with the housekeeper and Simon’s mother by getting him to actually do his Latin study. They are both studying Latin in the summer, a year or two earlier than expected, because Simon’s mum has ambitions for Simon, and Abigail has (wizardly) ambitions for herself.

When Abigail realizes that Natali and Jessica, the girls who invited her and Simon to the “happening” that never happened, have disappeared, she can’t let go of it. She insists on investigating. Simon introduces her to the Cat Lady, who is a good deal more interesting that that label alone suggests. A talking fox named Indigo approaches Abigail, and says Abigail is needed for something the foxes can’t do on their own.

Abigail, Indigo, and Simon wind up at a very oddly haunted house, and Abigail has to navigate relations with the police, the talking foxes, a river goddess and her court, Peter’s superior officer, Detective Chief Inspector Thomas Nightingale, and, some ways most terrifying of all, Simon’s mum.

Oh, and the haunting at a closed-up house.

Abigail grows, learns, and shows herself as a genuinely kind and decent person. Also a smart and determined person.

Altogether an enjoyable and satisfying story.

Recommended.

I received a free review copy of this novella, and am reviewing it voluntarily.

  • What Abigail Did That Summer (Rivers of London #5.83), by Ben Aaronovitch; Subterranean Press, ISBN 9781645240280, March 2021

Pixel Scroll 7/8/22 Doctor Scroll In The Multipixel Of Madness

(1) IN SUIT OVER CONTROLLED DIGITAL LENDING PARTIES FILE FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT. This week both parties to the lawsuit over “controlled digital lending” — four publishers on one side and the Internet Archive on the other — filed motions for summary judgment Publishers Weekly reports: “Publishers, Internet Archive File Dueling Summary Judgment Motions in Scan Suit”. A motion for summary judgment asks the court to render a decision on the record already submitted.

The battle lines have now been drawn in a potentially landmark lawsuit over the scanning and lending of books. In a motion for summary judgment filed this week, lawyers for Hachette, HarperCollins, Wiley, and Penguin Random House argue that the Internet Archive’s controversial program to scan and lend books under an untested legal theory known as “controlled digital lending” is a massive piracy operation “masquerading as a not-for-profit library.” And in a dueling motion for summary judgment, the Internet Archive counters that its scanning and lending program does not harm authors and publishers and is a public good protected by fair use.

Copies of both parties’ motions are available online, the publishers motion here, and the Internet Archive’s motion here.

The publishers contend Internet Archive’s practices violate copyright law:

…Yet Internet Archive assumes that all “information should be free” and has searched for years to find a legal rationale for its radical infringements. Around 2018, it helped manufacture and market a theory called “controlled digital lending” or “CDL,” which was developed with no input from authors or publishers and without the imprimatur of Congress. Directly contradicting the idea that copyright protects a bundle of divisible rights, IA posits that it is lawful for a library to make digital copies of any print book it acquires and distribute that digital copy over the internet, without a license, as long as (a) the library uses digital rights management (“DRM”) technology to prevent additional copying, and (b) the library “only loan[s] simultaneously the number of [print] copies that it has legitimately acquired.” SUMF¶436. Regardless of whether it actually complies with CDL – and it does not – Internet Archive’s practice of CDL violates fundamental principles of copyright law, and undermines market incentives necessary to spur the creation of new works…

The Internet Archive’s motion gives this explanation of Controlled Digital Lending:

…CDL is fundamentally the same as traditional library lending; it’s just a better way of getting the book to the one patron who borrowed it. Because every book in the Internet Archive’s print collection has already been bought and paid for, everyone agrees the Internet Archive could loan those books by handing or mailing them to a patron.  The only difference is that the Internet Archive is loaning the books over the Internet.  Either way, the books on loan are not available to other patrons until they are returned….

The Electronic Frontier Foundation issued a press release supporting the Internet Archive’s motion: “Internet Archive Seeks Summary Judgment in Federal Lawsuit Filed By Publishing Companies”.

“The publishers are not seeking protection from harm to their existing rights. They are seeking a new right foreign to American copyright law: the right to control how libraries may lend the books they own,” said EFF Legal Director Corynne McSherry. “They should not succeed. The Internet Archive and the hundreds of libraries and archives that support it are not pirates or thieves. They are librarians, striving to serve their patrons online just as they have done for centuries in the brick-and-mortar world. Copyright law does not stand in the way of a library’s right to lend its books to its patrons, one at a time.”

(2) IT CAUGHT ON IN A FLASH. Space Cowboy Books presents an “Online Flash Science Fiction Reading” on July 19 at 6:00 p.m. Pacific. Register for free here.

Join us online for an evening of short science fiction readings with authors Douglas A. Banc, Ricardo Victoria, and Adele Gardner. Flash Science Fiction Nights run 30 minutes or less, and are a fun and great way to learn about new authors from around the world.

(3) MUSK TO TWITTER: EJECT! “Elon Musk tells Twitter he wants out of his deal to buy it” reports CNN.

Elon Musk wants to terminate his $44 billion deal to buy Twitter — the latest in a whirlwind process in which the billionaire Tesla CEO became the company’s biggest shareholder, turned down a board seat, agreed to buy the social media platform and then started raising doubts about going through with the deal. The next chapter in the saga is almost certain to be a court battle.

Musk claimed in a letter to Twitter (TWTR)’s top lawyer that he is ending the deal because Twitter (TWTR) is “in material breach of multiple provisions” of the original agreement, which was signed in April, according to a regulatory filing Friday evening.

Musk has for weeks expressed concerns, without any apparent evidence, that there are a greater number of bots and spam accounts on the platform than Twitter has said publicly. Analysts have speculated that the concerns may be an attempt to create a pretext to get out of a deal he may now see as overpriced, after Twitter shares and the broader tech market have declined in recent weeks. Tesla (TSLA) stock, which Musk was planning to rely on in part to finance the deal, has also declined sharply since he agreed to the deal….

(4) SOCIETY OF ILLUSTRATORS. An exhibit of top African-American artists in the comic book industry, “The Artist’s Experience: from Brotherman to Batman”, is being hosted by the Society of Illustrators through October 29.

The Society of Illustrators has announced a dynamic installation on display in the museum that delves between the pages of comic books and explores the artists’ process. “The Artist’s Experience: From Brotherman to Batman” on display from June 15 through October 29, 2022. The exhibit celebrates some of the top African-American artists in the comic book industry, and was co-curated by renowned culture journalist and writer Karama Horne (Marvel’s Protectors of Wakanda: A History and Training Manual of the Dora Milaje) and Eisner Award-nominated artist and writer Shawn Martinbrough (How to Draw Noir Comics: The Art and Technique of Visual Storytelling, Thief of Thieves, Red Hood), whose work will be featured along with over sixteen other talented artists.

… Also featured are Eisner Award-winning artists Afua Richardson (Black Panther World of Wakanda, HBO’s Lovecraft Country), Alitha Martinez (Batgirl, World of Wakanda) and John Jennings (Octavia Butler’s Parable of the Sower), as well as veteran artists Larry Stroman (Alien Legion, X-Factor) and Darryl Banks (Green Lantern).

Artwork from award-winning artist Ronald Wimberly, founder of the experimental art magazine THE LAAB (whose Prince of Cats graphic novel is currently being adapted to film by Spike Lee), Khary RandolphJamal Igle, Micheline Hess, Sanford Greene, Eric Battle, Marcus Williams, Chuck Collins, Damion Scott and Robyn Smith will all be on display, as well.

(5) TOLL ON LIBRARY WORKERS. “Groundbreaking Study Explores Trauma, Stress in Frontline Library Workers”Publishers Weekly gives an overview.

The 2022 Urban Libraries Unite Trauma Study draws upon a wide-ranging literature review, survey responses from more than 435 urban library workers (conducted between August and September 2021), focus groups, and a two-day forum. The final report paints a vivid picture of the difficult working conditions facing many urban librarians and library workers, as well as a promising framework through which the library community can begin to address its needs.

“It is clear that there is a crisis of trauma in urban public libraries and the evidence for this is so overwhelmingly compelling that it seems likely that trauma impacts work in libraries of all types across the profession,” reads the report’s conclusion. “It is also clear from the literature search and the conversations that created this report’s conclusions that the library profession is starting to wake up to this deeply corrosive crisis.”

The report describes a range of violent or aggressive patron behavior toward library workers, including racist and sexist verbal abuse, harassment, physical assault including having guns and other weapons brandished, and drug and alcohol issues including overdoses. In addition, library workers reported significant instances of “secondary trauma” from constant interactions with community members (including children) struggling with poverty, homelessness, mental illness, or drug abuse….

(6) EATING THE FANTASTIC. Scott Edelman invites listeners to join David Gerrold for a breakfast buffet on episode 175 of the Eating the Fantastic podcast.

David Gerrold

Now it’s time for breakfast with David Gerrold, who I first encountered when I was 12, because I saw the Star Trek episode scripted by him, “The Trouble with Tribbles,” when it first aired in 1967. And they say 12 is the Golden Age of science fiction, right?

But David is so much more than that famed episode. He’s the author of more than 50 books, hundreds of articles and columns, and numerous hours of television. His TV credits include episodes from Star Trek (such as the aforementioned “The Trouble With Tribbles” and “The Cloud Minders”), Star Trek Animated (“More Tribbles, More Troubles” and “Bem”), Babylon 5 (“Believers”), Twilight Zone (“A Day In Beaumont” and “A Saucer Of Loneliness”), Land Of The Lost (“Cha-Ka,” “The Sleestak God,” “Hurricane,” “Possession,” and “Circle”), Tales From The Darkside (“Levitation” and “If The Shoes Fit”), Logan’s Run (“Man Out Of Time”), and others.

His novels include When HARLIE Was One (which I believe was the first prose of his I read, at age 17), The Man Who Folded HimselfThe War Against The Chtorr septology, The Star Wolf trilogy, and The Dingilliad young adult trilogy, the Trackers duology, and many more. The autobiographical tale of his son’s adoption, “The Martian Child,” won the Hugo and Nebula awards for Best Novelette of the Year and was the basis for the 2007 movie, Martian Child.  He was the 2022 winner of the Robert A. Heinlein Award, which was presented during Balticon.

We discussed what he means by “humility in the face of excellence,” the curse of fame and why J. D. Salinger may have had the right idea, how the more you know the slower you write, the challenge of living up to having won the Heinlein Award (and why Heinlein once called him “a very nasty man”), the scariest story he ever wrote, how Sarah Pinsker helped him understand what he really felt about Ursula K. Le Guin’s “The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas,” the kind of person he might have been had he not moved to L.A. as a kid, the fannish way he found out he’d been nominated for a Hugo Award, how it feels to already know what the headline of his obituary will be, and much more.

(7) TOM FABER ON VIDEO GAMES. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In the Financial Times behind a paywall, Tom Faber recalls seeing Braveheart with his cousin, who asked, “Where are all the wizards?”

On surveying my collection of fantasy movies and video games the next day, I realized that almost all of them were set in a place that resembled 13th-century Scotland, from Lord Of The Rings to Skyrim to Game Of Thrones.  Given that fantasy is the only genre that gives writers unlimited creative licence to dream up the wildest worlds, why do we see the same tired cliches again and again?…

…This is finally starting to change with the emergence of game developers outside the conventional industry hubs who are weaving new fantasies from the threads of their own history and myths.  Earlier this year, Mexican studio Lienzo released Aztech:  Forgotten Gods, which imagines a sci-fi world in which the Aztecs were never conquered.  Rafi:  An Ancient Epic incorporates Hindu mythology and draws inspiration fro the Mahabharata and the Ramayana. Maori developer Naphtali Faulkner created the stylish Umurangi Generation, a photo game set in a near-future New Zealand. Meanwhile, Aurion:  Legacy of the Kori-Odan and the ambitious upcoming game The Wagada Chronicles both explore complex African mythologies.

(8) NOT JUST ANY STREAM. “Ben Aaronovitch’s Rivers of London novels are set for TV adaptation” – the Guardian tells about the deal.

A new partnership will bring together all nine of the novels, plus the accompanying short stories, novellas and graphic novels, for the screen.

Rivers of London is part urban fantasy, part police procedural, centring on detective constable Peter Grant. A newly graduated police officer from London, he is recruited in the first book by wizard and inspector Thomas Nightingale to the Folly, a police unit working on supernatural crimes, after an encounter with a ghost….

(9) DIRDA ON BOOKS OF INTEREST TO FANS. Michael Dirda reviews three volumes of Folio Society collections of Marvel comics and three volumes of Penguin Marvel collections. He also reviews a book called Cosplay which is a history of cosplayers going back to Worldcon masquerades. “Marvel comics in updated editions from Penguin and Folio, reviewed” in the Washington Post.

…All this past spring, then, I was eagerly looking forward to recapturing some of that ancient enchantment by immersing myself in six colorful volumes of Marvel superhero comics: three Penguin Classics collections of the early adventures of Spider-ManCaptain America and Black Panther, and three Folio Society best-of collections devoted to Spider-Man, Captain America and Hulk.

For fans, both series are desirable and contain little overlap. The general editor of the Penguin editions, Ben Saunders, a comics scholar from the University of Oregon, provides historical background on how Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, Steve Ditko and others co-created these modern legends. Contemporary writers such as Qiana J. Whitted, Gene Luen Yang, Jason Reynolds and Nnedi Okorafor contribute additional introductions or winningly personal forewords. Appendixes feature recommended reading lists and sometimes supplemental essays, such as Don McGregor’s memoir of how he wrote the multi-issue “Panther’s Rage,” which supplied some of the plot elements to the “Black Panther” movie. Each of these collectible Penguin hardbacks runs to roughly 350 pages and is priced at $50. Paperback editions cost $28.

The Folio Society volumes cost $125 apiece, but for purists they offer a slightly more authentic reading experience….

…At least, I continue to be childishly delighted by adult cosplay, the practice of dressing up as a favorite fictional or cinematic character. As our troubled superheroes know, donning a mask can be liberating, a way of releasing one’s deeper self. Appropriately, Andrew Liptak’s opens his chatty “Cosplay: A History” by looking at costume balls, historical reenactors, Halloween and the tradition of masquerade night at science-fiction conventions. Still, his heart really belongs to the Star Wars franchise.

(10) R. C. HARVEY (1937-2022). Cartoonist Robert C. Harvey, a respected comics historian and columnist, died July 7. His autobiographical intro at The Comics Journal sums up an incredible career.

Harv’s first foray into expository text was with a column in the fondly recalled Menomonee Falls Gazette (a weekly newspaper of comic strips) in the fall of 1973. A couple years later, he launched his Comicopia column in No.130 of the Rocket’s Blast – ComiCollector, which, by then, had been taken over by James Van Hise from Gordon Love, the founder. For RB-CC, he created a mock comicbook superhero, Zero Hero.

In March 1980, Harvey abandoned early columns and started writing for The Comics Journal, with a new effort, The Reticulated Rainbow, starting in No. 54 and continuing regularly under various titles for an insufferably long time. By the time he was in his eighties, Harv’d become, probably, the Journal contributor with the greatest longevity.

Bob also was a longtime contributor to Jud Hurd’s Cartoonist PROfiles magazine, The Thompson’s Comics Buyer’s Guide, Hogan’s Alley, and Nemo, the Classic Comics Library, among others. He also contributed to the early version of the scholarly comics publication Inks. The R.C. Harvey archives for The Comics Journal can be accessed here, and his recent Humor Times columns are here.

Harvey has written or collected and edited thirteen books on comics and cartooning, including his Milton Caniff: Conversations (2002) from the University Press of Mississippi, followed by a full biography of Caniff, Meanwhile… A Biography of Milton Caniff, Creator of Terry and the Pirates and Steve Canyon (2007) published by Fantagraphics. His most recent book is Insider Histories of Cartooning: Rediscovering Forgotten Famous Comics and Their Creators (2014) from UPM. A complete list of his books appears at his website.

Harvey still has two books scheduled to be released this Fall. He annotated the current Fantagraphics Complete Pogo series giving context to references in Walt Kelly’s comic strip, Volume Eight will arrive with R.C.’s contribution. He has also wrote and assembled The Art and History of Popeye due later this year.

(11) LARRY STORCH (1923-2022). Actor Larry Storch died July 8 at the age of 99. His most famous role was the scheming Corporal Agarn of F Troop (1965-1967). His genre work included co-starring with Bob Burns (who wore a gorilla costume) and Forrest Tucker on the Saturday morning children’s show The Ghost Busters. Storch appeared in more than 25 films, including The Monitors (1969, based on a Keith Laumer novel), and Without Warning (1980). He voiced characters in animated shows such as Merlin the Magic Mouse and Cool Cat. In Journey Back to Oz he voiced Aunt Em and Uncle Henry’s farmhand Amos.

(12) KAZUKI OBITIARY. Yu-Gi-Oh! creator Takahashi Kazuki hwas found dead at sea says Deadline. He was 60.

Takahashi Kazuki, the creative force behind manga trading card and Japanese entertainment franchise Yu-Gi-Oh!, has been found dead, according to local public broadcaster NHK.

It was reported Takahashi, whose real name is Kazuo Takahashi, was discovered floating while in snorkeling gear in near Okinawa Prefecture in Japan on Wednesday. A coast guard is looking into the cause of death.

Takahashi began as a manga artist in the 1980s and found success in 1996 when he created manga comic series Yu-Gi-Oh! and began serializing it in Weekly Shonen Jump magazine. He later outlined the rules for an accompanying trading card game.

The franchise grew to span several TV shows, manga spin-offs and video games and is now one of the highest-grossing of all time….

(13) MEDIA BIRTHDAY

2003 [By Cat Eldridge.] Some amazingly strange series come out of Canada. So it is with the Alienated series that debuted nineteen years ago this day on the Space network in Canada. It lasted for two seasons and a mere twenty-two episodes.

I’ve no idea who created it since, in true Heinleinian fashion, the serial numbers seem to have been completely filed off. 

It was a comedy centered on a stereotypical suburban family living in Victoria, British Columbia who undergo strange and often overtly sexual changes (all nudity was pixillated) after being abducted by aliens. The mother was played by Sarah-Jane Redmond best remembered  as Lucy Butler on the Millennium series and the father was played by Johnathan Whittaker who later shows on up The Expanse as Sec-Gen Gillis.

I think it was, to say the least, not aimed at all at being tasteful based on episode titles of the likes of “Where’s the Vagina?”, “Hard to Keep a Good Man Down” and “Where’s the Saltpeter?”. I have no idea what time of the evening it was broadcast in but I’m betting it was later on.

Critics, the few who actually bothered with reviewing it, found it entertaining. It never got a proper wrap-up as it was cancelled in the way so many of these low rated series are — in the middle of the night when no one is looking.

(14) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born July 8, 1914 Hans Stefan Santesson. Trifecta of editor, writer, and reviewer. He edited Fantastic Universe from 1956 to 1960, and the US edition of the British New Worlds Science Fiction. In the Sixties, he edited a lot of anthologies including The Fantastic Universe OmnibusThe Mighty Barbarians: Great Sword and Sorcery Heroes and Crime Prevention in the 30th Century. As a writer, he had a handful of short fiction, none of which is available digitally. His reviews appear to be all in Fantastic Universe in the Fifties. (Died 1975.)
  • Born July 8, 1933 — Michael Barrier, 89. One of the few actors not a regular crew member on the original Trek who shows in multiple episodes under the same name. He was DeSalle in “The Squire of Gothos”, “This Side of Paradise” and “Catspaw”. While he has the same name each time, he does not have the same shipboard job as he serves as a navigator in the first episode, a biologist in “This Side of Paradise” and assistant chief engineer in “Catspaw”. 
  • Born July 8, 1942 — Otto Penzler, 80. He’s proprietor of The Mysterious Bookshop in New York City who edits anthologies. Oh does he edit them, over fifty that I know of, some of genre interest including The Big Book of Sherlock Holmes Stories, Zombies! Zombies! Zombies! and The Black Lizard Big Book of Black Mask Stories which an original Lester Dent story in it. Back in the Seventies, with Chris Steinbrunner, he co-wrote the Encyclopedia of Mystery and Detection for which they won an Edgar Award.
  • Born July 8, 1951 Anjelica Huston, 71. I’m going to single her out for her performance as The Grand High Witch of All The World, or Eva Ernst in The Witches, a most delicious film. She was also wonderful as Morticia Addams in both of the Addams Family films, and made an interesting Viviane, Lady of the Lake in The Mists of Avalon miniseries. 
  • Born July 8, 1955 Susan Price, 67. English author of children’s and YA novels. She has won both the Carnegie Medal and the Guardian Prize for British children’s books. The Pagan Mars trilogy is her best known work, and The Sterkarm Handshake and its sequel A Sterkarm Kiss, will please Outlander fans.
  • Born July 8, 1958 Kevin Bacon, 64. The role I best remember him for is Valentine “Val” McKee in Tremors. He also played Jack Burrell in Friday the 13th, David Labraccio in the most excellent Flatliners and Sebastian Caine in Hollow Man

(15) TUTTLE’S PICKS. “The best recent science fiction and fantasy – review roundup” by Lisa Tuttle in the Guardian. Covers The Daughter of Doctor Moreau by Silvia Moreno-Garcia; Thrust by Lidia Yuknavitch; The Ballad of Perilous Graves by Alex Jennings; Life Ceremony by Sayaka Murata and Old Country by Matt and Harrison Query

(16) SUPER-PETS CASTING. “The Good Place star confirmed as Wonder Woman in new DC movie”Digital Spy knows her name.

DC has got itself a new Wonder Woman, with The Good Place‘s Jameela Jamil confirmed as the voice of Diana Prince’s super alter-ego in DC’s League of Super-Pets.

(17) BIG NUMBERS. “Six Flags Magic Mountain to debut record-breaking Wonder Woman coaster”KTLA has details.

WONDER WOMAN Flight of Courage will take riders on a thrilling adventure for the very first time next Saturday, July 16.

Riders will reach speeds of up to 58 mph and can expect a steep climb up a 131-foot hill, an intense 87-degree drop and three inversions (like a loop) along the coaster’s 3,300-foot track.

Before boarding, those waiting in the Greek-inspired ride queue will be treated to immersive storytelling and a deep dive of the comic book heroine’s history and greatest accomplishments…

(18) IT WILL TAKE YOU THERE. “‘Portals will be as important as the car’: the architects exploring gateways to new dimensions” at the Guardian.

…The examples range from the rabbit-hole in Alice in Wonderland and the wardrobe in the Narnia books, to Dr Who’s Tardis, Back to the Future’s DeLorean and Platform 9¾ in Harry Potter, via all manner of holes, mirrors, cracks, bridges and “energy frames” found in sci-fi and fantasy fiction. Their timeline tells an eye-opening story, charting the explosion of portals after the second world war, marked by the likes of The Sentinel by Arthur C Clarke (which formed the basis of the film 2001: A Space Odyssey), the Wayback Machine in Peabody’s Improbable History, and the tollbooth from the 1961 book The Phantom Tollbooth, written by architect Norton Juster.

The following period, leading up to the cold war and the space race, saw portals take the form of massive energy-intensive machines and weapons built in the battle for world domination. They highlight the 1960s TV series The Time Tunnel, where thousands of people work under the desert surface on a secret megastructure, which would allow the US military to travel in time, noting how its iconic spiral design went on to inspire countless portals in future stories. The period after the cold war, meanwhile, saw portals serve more satirical and comical roles in lowbrow sci-fi and family movies – such as the phone booth in Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure, or the people-eating television in the 1980s body horror film Videodrome.

They found one of the most recurring types of portal to be the “portable hole”, first featured in the Looney Toons cartoon The Hole Idea in 1955, in which a scientist demonstrates his device for rescuing a baby from a safe, cheating at golf and escaping from housework. It later appears in the Beatles’ film Yellow Submarine, in the form of the Sea of Holes, as well as in Who Framed Roger Rabbit, reaching a hole-studded peak in the 1985 Marvel cartoon character, Spot – whose body is covered in portals…

(19) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In “Stranger Things Season 4 Pitch Meeting”, Ryan Geroge, in a spoiler-packed episode, says the villain this season is a guy who is bald, strong, doesn’t have a nose, and is clearly not Voldemort,  Also several characters manage to remain alive by not explicitly dying in front of the camera during their death scenes.

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

Pixel Scroll 5/2/22 Everyone Has Two Pixels Inside Them. Which One Will Win? The One You Scroll

(1) SPFBO #7 WINNER. J. D. Evans won Self-Published Fantasy Blog-Off #7 with her novel Reign & Ruin.

SPFBO 8 is expected to open for contestants at 1 p.m. BST on May 14.

(2) A PEJORATIVE RECLAIMED. In “The Space Opera Sci-Fi Subgenre, Explained”, Joshua Kristian McCoy brings the GameRant audience up to speed.

…Space opera refers to large-scale sci-fi which concerns itself with massive interplanetary battles, dashing heroes, old-fashioned romance, and general classic adventure stories, but in space. The term has its origin, not in opera theater, but in the soap opera genre. That dramatic subgenre, best known for The Young and the Restless and a thousand other endlessly serialized TV series, is actually inspired by the even earlier term horse opera. This term refers to a massive pile of formulaic westerns which largely followed the identical plot and narrative trappings. Space opera was coined in 1941 by author Wilson Tucker in a sci-fi fanzine, who famously noticed that a fair amount of recent sci-fi narratives were bare-bones horse operas, but set in space. The term was an insult for the first few decades of its existence, but it evolved from there….

…Before and during the Star Wars phenomenon came Gene Roddenberry’s Star Trek, which, like much of the subgenre, was partially inspired by TV westerns. These are two of the most important properties in sci-fi history, and despite some debate, both often fit comfortably into the space opera subgenre. Star Wars and Star Trek spawned new eras of space opera, transforming what was once an insult into a substantial audience draw….

(3) THEY WHO BECAME PROFILED IN THE NEWSPAPER. [Item by Olav Rokne.] The Sydney Morning Herald profiled Shelley Parker-Chan, noting that they’re the first Australian author to be shortlisted for the Best Novel Hugo. (I’d add that they’re actually only the fourth Australian author shortlisted for any prose Hugo award. The other three being Greg Egan, Margo Lanagan, and Sean McMullen). It’s a really good piece that sheds some light into the sources of inspiration behind this quite remarkable book. “She Who Became the Sun becomes first Australian novel nominated for Hugo Award”.

The author is quoted: “there is something fundamentally radical about science fiction and fantasy that makes it a great place for people to work when they want to explore that intersection between race, gender, culture and colonialism.”

(4) THE PLACE TO LEARN. Clarion West released their 2020-21 Annual Report today. There are messages from the board, staff, and students; financial and donor information; and a roundup of achievements by Clarion alumni. There is also this report on how they’ve addressed accessibility issues raised about past workshops.

Accessibility update

Over the last two years, Clarion West has cemented its commitment to providing accessible programming. We are making adjustments to lower the barriers affecting people from a variety of backgrounds and abilities, and we will continue to address needs on an ongoing basis.

Here is an update of the work we’ve done to date and what we will be focusing on moving forward:

The Clarion West website

We’ve added the User Way accessibility widget to assist with visual adaptations for our website as an interim measure toward ensuring a greater variety of access to our site. We understand that this app alone is not a long-term solution and we are planning to work with consultants to ensure ongoing improvements, including better content, video, and image descriptions.

We have added an accessible information page and attempt to link to it on almost every class and workshop page.

Online classes and events

We have invested in closed captioning features for online classes and events, with live captioning or ASL interpreters upon request. With instructor permission, class recordings are available after each class for students to review at their own pace. Slides and other materials are provided as far in advance of each class as possible.

Physical accessibility

Clarion West has made a commitment to only partner with facilities that provide ADA accessible spaces and other accommodations. Whenever possible, we seek to partner with other nonprofit organizations to maximize these efforts, share resources, and ensure the best possible experiences for all participants.

The 2022 workshop will be held in accessible housing located a short distance from the Highline College campus in Des Moines, WA.

As we look toward the future, we will be looking into additional adaptive devices, opportunities to improve services, and feedback for all of our programming. If you see a need for increased accessibility that we have not yet identified, please let us know the issue as well as any suggestions you have to reduce barriers to accessibility

(5) DRIVERS OF CHANGE. In Vauhini Vara’s debut novel, a boy from rural India becomes a tech mogul in a world consumed by Big Tech. “She Wrote a Dystopian Novel. Now Her Fiction Is Crossing Into Reality.” The New York Times tells how.

Vauhini Vara started writing her debut novel 13 years ago, when she was working as a technology journalist and meeting chief executives like Larry Ellison of Oracle and Mark Zuckerberg of what was then a very young Facebook.

The lack of South Asian leaders in the industry sparked an idea: Her main character, an Indian, would become a tech C.E.O. in the United States. By making her protagonist a man from the Dalit community, which ranks lowest in the Hindu hierarchical caste system, she was simply incorporating what she had a connection to, she said; her father is Dalit, and grew up on a coconut grove in rural India.

Those deeply personal decisions turned out to be prescient. Now, as she prepares for the publication of her novel, “The Immortal King Rao,” on May 3, six of the world’s largest technology companies — Adobe, Alphabet, IBM, Microsoft, Google and Twitter — are being led by men of Indian descent.

(6) SCI-FI FEEDBACK LOOP. Everyone is invited to “The Sci-Fi Feedback Loop: Mapping Fiction’s Influence on Real-World Tech”, a webinar taking place Thursday, May 12, from 2-3 p.m. Eastern. Panelists include science fiction authors Cory Doctorow and Malka Older, SF scholars Sherryl Vint and Michael G. Bennett, investor Tim Chang, and tech policy researcher Kevin Bankston. 

This event is the first in a series for the Applied Sci-Fi Project at Arizona State University’s Center for Science and the Imagination, which seeks to understand the influence of science fiction on technology and the people who build it, and to study the ways that sci-fi storytelling can be used as a tool for innovation and foresight. 

The event is free and open to everyone. Here is the registration link.

There’s little question that the imaginary futures of science fiction have influenced the development of real-world technologies, from space travel to cyberspace. Join Arizona State University’s Center for Science and the Imagination for a virtual conversation among sci-fi authors, scholars, and technologists, examining this feedback loop between science fiction and technical innovation. We’ll dive into the history of sci-fi’s influence, and consider its impact on the direction of technology development today.

(7) THE C3 IN HERO. Helen Lowe analyzes “What Makes A Hero? #3: Commitment” at Supernatural Underground.

On 1 March, I asked the question, “What Makes A Hero?” and looked at “the Call”, the first of three C’s that inform my thinking on the subject.

Last month, on 1 April, I checked out C number two: Circumstance.

This month, it’s time for Commitment. (I know, I know, you got that from the title already, but hey — unfolding logic and everything in its proper order, ok? OK!)

…One of the most famous instances of commitment in Fantasy is when Frodo volunteers to take the One Ring to Mordor:

(8) FLOUNCING FROM ORBIT. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] Will they follow through this time? Who knows. “Russia Will Quit International Space Station Over Sanctions” reports Bloomberg.

The head of Russia’s space program said Moscow will pull out of the International Space Station, state media reported, a move it has blamed on sanctions imposed over the invasion of Ukraine.

“The decision has been taken already, we’re not obliged to talk about it publicly,” Tass and RIA Novosti reported Roscosmos General Director Dmitry Rogozin as saying in an interview with state TV on Saturday. “I can say this only — in accordance with our obligations, we’ll inform our partners about the end of our work on the ISS with a year’s notice.”

Rogozin earlier this month threatened to end Russia’s mission unless the U.S., European Union and Canada lifted sanctions against enterprises involved in the Russian space industry.

The orbital research space station had until the war remained a rare area of cooperation between Russia and the U.S. and its allies despite steadily worsening relations. But Russia’s unprecedented international isolation since it invaded Ukraine in February has marked the demise of this symbol of joint space exploration.

Three Americans and an Italian astronaut docked at the space station on Wednesday, joining three other Americans, three Russians and a German already on the ISS.

(9) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

1952 [By Cat Eldridge.]  Seventy years ago this even ion ABC, Tales Of Tomorrow aired its “Red Dust” episode. As the copy provided by the network said, “The first human mission to another solar system loses 2 crew on a red dust-covered planet, which once had an advanced civilization. Due to allergies, neither of the shipmates got anti-radiation shots, so the remaining crew aren’t concerned about their own return to Earth. But then the red dust starts to appear everywhere on the space ship.” 

It was directed by Don Medford from a script by Irving Elman from the play by noted SF writer Theodore Cogswell, a member of the First Fandom Hall of Fame. It was an original work by him and not based off anything that he’d previously done. Cogswell was nominated at ConAdian for his PITFCS: Proceedings of the Institute for Twenty-First Century Studies as a Best Non-Fiction Related Book, and he had a Retro Hugo nomination at Noreascon 4 for his “The Wall Around the World” novelette. 

The cast was Fred Stewart, Lex Barker, Skedge Miller and Robert Patten. You can watch it here.

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born May 2, 1921 Satyajit Ray. Bengali filmmaker, screenwriter, graphic artist, lyricist, music composer and writer who is here for his genre fiction which fortunately has been translated into English as most of us don’t read Bengali. Over a decade recently, three collections came in English The Diary of a Space Traveller and Other StoriesClassic Satyajit Ray and The Collected Short Stories) with most of his genre work in the collection. There are nine stories involving Professor Shonku, his most popular SF character. (Died 1992.)
  • Born May 2, 1924 Theodore Bikel. He was on Star Trek: The Next Generation‘s fourth season in order to play one of the foster parents to Worf in the “Family” episode as CPO Sergey Rozhenko, retired. That and playing Lenonn in Babylon 5: In the Beginning are the roles I want to note. Well there is one minor other role he did — he voiced Aragon in a certain The Return of the King. (Died 2015.)
  • Born May 2, 1925 John Neville. I’ve mentioned before that Kage considered Terry Gilliam’s The Adventures of Baron Munchausen to be one of her favorite films and John Neville was one of the reasons that she did. You can read her review here. Among his other genre roles, Neville had a prominent recurring role in The X-Files as The Well Manicured Man. And he showed up playing  Sir Isaac Newton on The Next Generation in the “Descent” episode. (Died 2011.)
  • Born May 2, 1938 Bob Null. Very long-time LASFS member who was  the Club’s VP for an equally long period. Fancyclopedia 3 say that “He also sat on the Board of Directors, and frequently handled logistics for local conventions including both Loscon and local Worldcons, and was always one of those nearly invisible hard-working people who make fandom work. He is a Patron Saint of LASFS.” (Died 2010.)
  • Born May 2, 1942 Alexis Kanner. His first genre appearance was on The Prisoner where he so impressed McGoohan in the “Living in Harmony” episode that he created a specific role for him in the series finale, “Fall Out” where he stands trial. He also has an uncredited role in “The Girl Who Was Death” in that series. His final known acting role was as Sor in Nightfall based off the Asimov story of the same name. (Died 2003.)
  • Born May 2, 1946 David Suchet, 76. Though rather obviously better remembered as Hercule Poirot, he does show up on in a Twelfth Doctor story, “Knock Knock”, simply called Landlord.  Don’t let that deceive you. He’s appeared in some other genre work from time to time including Greystoke — The Legend of Tarzan, Lord of the ApesHarry and the HendersonsDr. No — The Radio PlayWing CommanderTales of the Unexpected and Peter Pan Goes Wrong
  • Born May 2, 1946 Leslie S. Klinger, 76. He is a noted literary editor and annotator of classic genre fiction. He is the editor of The New Annotated Sherlock Holmes, a three-volume edition of Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes fiction with extensive annotations, with an introduction by John le Carré. I’d also like to single out him for his The Annotated Sandman, Vol. 1, The New Annotated Frankenstein and The New Annotated H. P. Lovecraft. The Horror Writers of America honored him with their Silver Hammer Award given to a HWA volunteer who has done a truly massive amount of work for the organization, often unsung and behind the scenes. 
  • Born May 2, 1972 Dwayne Johnson, 50. Ok I wasn’t going to include him until stumbled across the fact that he’d been on Star Trek: Voyager as The Champion in the “Tsunkatse” episode. Who saw him there? Of course, it’s not his only genre role as he was the Scorpion King in The Mummy Returns, played Agent 23 in Get Smart, voiced Captain Charles T. Baker In Planet 51, was the tooth fairy in, errr, the Tooth Fairy, was Hank Parsons in Journey 2: The Mysterious Island, was Roadblock in G.I. Joe: Retaliation (anyone watch these?), was a very buff Hercules in Hercules, voiced Maui in Moana, was Dr. Smolder Bravestone in both Jumanji films(not on my bucket list) and was one of the Executive Producers of Shazam! which gets a huh from me where he played Black Adam but the forthcoming Black Adam sounds like it could be damn great.

(11) RESCUED FROM OBSCURITY. Davide Mana profiles the forgotten Italian pulp science fiction writer Nora de Siebert: “The lady writes the pulps: Nora de Siebert” at Karavansara.

…Many of De Siebert’s SF stories were often set against the background of future societies in which women were relegated to a subordinate, “ornamental” roles – usually by design and with the help of mind controlling techniques, as men had found out that women could beat them at their own game if allowed; the main protagonists in these stories usually rebelled against the status quo. Not bad, for stories written in a backwater like Italy, in the 1950s….

(12) A WRITER’S GENESIS. Grimdark Magazine features “An Interview With Ben Aaronovitch”.

[GdM] How did you become a novelist? Can you tell us about Waterstones and how Rivers of London come about?

I started as a script writer but after my first Doctor Who I was offered the chance to novelise my story which is like someone saying they’ll pay you good money to learn how to write prose. Once I’d done a 40,000 word novella I knew I could do a full length book. After a few more tie in novels for Virgin and Big Finish I was confident I could write well to that format. When my career as a scriptwriter fizzled out I found myself working in Waterstones and going slowly bankrupt. Faced with penury or worse- moving out of London, I turned to prose to make my one and only talent, writing, pay. The question was – what kind of novel would I write?

(13) SWIPER, NO SWIPING! The New York Times discovers that “In Echo of Soviet Era, Russia’s Movie Theaters Turn to Pirate Screenings”.

Since the invasion of Ukraine, Hollywood’s biggest studios have stopped releasing movies in Russia, and Netflix has ceased service there. But recently, some of the companies’ films have started appearing in Russian movie theaters — illegally.

The screenings are reminiscent of the Soviet era, when the only way to see most Western films was to get access to a pirated version. Whereas those movies made their way to Russians in the form of smuggled VHS tapes, today, cinemas in the country have a simpler, faster method: the internet. Numerous websites offer bootleg copies of movies that take minutes to download.

Some theaters in Russia are now openly screening pirated movies; others are being more careful, allowing private individuals to rent out spaces to show films, free or for a fee. One group, for example, rented out several screening rooms at a movie theater in Yekaterinburg, then used social media to invite people to buy tickets to watch “The Batman.”

(14) THE GREEN HILLS OF SOFTWARE. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] Vice tells us that Californian and Green Hills Software owner Dan O’Dowd has exactly one plank in the platform for his Senate run: “All he will talk about is how much he hates Tesla’s self-driving cars and the existential threat computers pose to humanity.”

See the story at “The Billionaire Running for US Senate to Ban Elon Musk’s Self-Driving Cars” for the full interview. 

California Senate candidate Dan O’Dowd will not talk about taxes. Or homelessness. Or climate change. Or inflation. Or housing. Or jobs. All he will talk about is how much he hates Tesla’s self-driving cars and the existential threat computers pose to humanity.

“My issue is more important than all of them, because it’s basically about survival,” he told Motherboard. “When cyber Armageddon hits, and everything goes down, I don’t think anybody’s gonna care about taxes.”

It’s not an exaggeration to say that O’Dowd has become obsessed with Tesla’s full self-driving cars. He owns three Teslas and claims to have driven nothing else for over a decade, but believes the full self-driving cars have become so dangerous that they need to be banned immediately….

(15) I’LL BE D****ED. Andrew Porter tuned into tonight’s episode of Jeopardy! and witnessed contestants draw a blank about this one.

Category: From Book to Movie with a Different Title

Answer: “The Midwich Cuckoos” inspired this “Damned” 1960 film about children with frightening powers in a small town.

No one could ask, “What is “Village of the Damned”?

(16) CELEBRITY FOSSIL TO AUCTION. “Christie’s to Sell a Dinosaur That Inspired the ‘Jurassic Park’ Raptor” reports the New York Times. The auction house says this is the first-ever sale of a Deinonychus, the species on which the ‘velociraptor’ in the 1993 movie was based.

Many people know them as agile bipedal dinosaurs with menacing claws and scrunched-up arms, hunting children through a kitchen in “Jurassic Park.”

In the 1993 movie, they’re called velociraptors, but those creatures were more like a different, related species, Deinonychus antirrhopus — a name that the author of the novel “Jurassic Park,” Michael Crichton, considered a less dramatic choice.

The movie helped turn velociraptors (well, technically Deinonychuses) into one of the most recognizable dinosaurs, alongside the T. rex. And now, dinosaur enthusiasts can bid on one of their own.

The auction house Christie’s announced on Friday that it would be selling a Deinonychus skeleton it calls Hector, which was excavated from Montana several years ago. The company said it would be the first public sale of such a specimen. The estimated price tag is $4 million to $6 million, likely prompting most “Jurassic Park” fans to put their paddles down…

(17) TREKKING FOR PEACE. The book launch for José-Antonio Orosco’s recently published Star Trek and the Philosophy of Peace and Justice included this Zoom discussion between him and a few others. The author wears a DS9 uniform for the event and uses its OPS center as a Zoom background.

In coordination with the Concerned Philosophers for Peace, the Anarres Project presents a discussion with the author (and co-director of the Anarres Project) Jose-Antonio Orosco about his new book “Star Trek and the Philosophy of Peace and Justice: A Global, Anti-Racist Approach”. (London: Bloomsbury, 2022) The dialogue is moderated by Dr. Greg Moses (Texas State University), editor of The Acorn Journal: Philosophical Studies in Pacifism and Nonviolence and Communications Director for the Concerned Philosophers for Peace. They are joined by panelists from CPP including Dr. Andrew Fiala (California State University, Fresno) and Dr. Jennifer Kling (University of Colorado, Colorado Springs).

(18) OR WOULD YOU LIKE TO SWING ON A VINE? The Library of America’s Story of the Week is “Cloudland Revisited: Rock-a-Bye, Viscount, in the Treetop” by S. J. Perelman.

. . . Insofar as the topography of Rhode Island and my physique permitted, I modelled myself so closely on Tarzan that I drove the community to the brink of collapse. I flung spears at the neighbors’ laundry, exacerbated their watchdogs, swung around their piazzas gibbering and thumping my chest, made reply only in half-human grunts interspersed with unearthly howls, and took great pains generally to qualify as a stench in the civic nostril. The hallucination passed as abruptly as it had set in; one morning I awoke with an overwhelming ennui for everything related to Africa, weak but lucid. My kinsfolk were distrustful for a while, but as soon as they saw me constructing a catamaran in which to explore the Everglades, they knew I was rational again.

Curious as to why Tarzan had enraptured two generations and begotten so many sequels, movie serials, and comics, I commandeered my son’s copy of the novel and my wife’s chaise longue and staged a reunion…

(19) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] The Honest Trailers gang comes up with new frontiers for honesty in their take on The Batman. “Honest Theme Songs (‘Kiss From A Bat’)”.

[Thanks to Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Chris Barkley, Nick Hudson, 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 Maytree.]

Preview Art from Ben Aaronovitch Rivers of London “Deadly Ever After #1”

“Deadly Ever After” is the next chapter in the Rivers of London series from Titan Comics. Written by Rivers of London author Ben Aaronovitch, Doctor Who Script Editor Andrew Cartmel and Celeste Bronfman (Star Trek), the issue will be released May 18.

When Chelsea and Olympia accidentally break an enchantment in the woods, deadly fairy tales from a mysterious old book begin coming to life. To set things right, Chelsea and Olympia must unravel a mystery dating back to the 1800s before they become victims of a lethal sorcery.

See the variant covers and sample interior art following the jump.

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