Pixel Scroll 7/9/23 Most Of Us Agree That Everyone Knows That Bacon Holds The Pixels Together

(1) HOW THE BESTSELLER LIST IS WON. Several authors responded to Sarah Pinborough’s question about whether certain kinds of sales affect the UK bestseller lists.

(2) THE FUTURE IS NOW. “’It’s not climate change, it’s everything change’: sci-fi authors take on the global crisis” in the Guardian.

… a new generation of writers now believes it is impossible to write “near future” sci-fi without putting the climate emergency at the forefront of their speculative fiction. For many, this is because they are living through the crisis and can imagine all too easily what may happen if real-life behaviour doesn’t change….

[EJ Swift says] “Climate breakdown is escalating so rapidly that events which 10 years ago might have seemed like the distant future are happening now. Everything is filtered through that lens – even when it’s not the main focus, climate anxiety is there in the periphery.”

Other recent books dealing with the devastation to the climate include Kate Sawyer’s The Stranding, which begins with the striking image of two strangers sheltering in the mouth of a dead, beached whale as a calamitous extinction event hits the world, Susannah Wise’s This Fragile Earth, in which the complete failure of all technology brings into focus our uneasy relationship with nature, and Sarah K Jackson’s Not Alone, about a mother and son surviving in the aftermath of a microplastics storm that has decimated the population.

The science fiction writer Adrian Tchaikovsky, known for his huge, widescreen space opera novels set in distant galaxies, is turning his attention to the climate crisis next year with a horror novella called Saturation Point….

(3) PARSING THE 2023 HUGO BALLOT. John Scalzi shares insights “about why the Hugos are the way they are these days: Why Tor seems to get a lot of nominations, for example, and why diverse groups are represented in the finalist list as they are, and whether the Hugo voters are an insular and monolith bloc” in “Hugo Neepery, Via Reddit” at Whatever.

… If you are wondering how marginalized groups have started to become widely represented in SF/F awards (as they are not just in the Hugos, but also the Nebulas, the Locus and the World Fantasy Awards) there are three factors I want you to consider. The first is the (relative) decline of the “Big Three” short fiction magazines in SF/F (Asimov’s, Analog, F&SF) and the commensurate rise of a series of online short fiction publishing venues like Uncanny, Clarkesworld and Strange Horizons (among others). The Big Three ran on Silent, Boomer and Elder GenX writers, and the market forces for the genre those writers came up in was heavily cis and white and male. The newer venues, by inclination and necessity, cultivated younger generations of writers from more diverse backgrounds. When the Big Three declined and the online magazines rose, their respective stables of authors more or less rose or declined with them, in terms of award consideration.

The second thing to consider is who is buying science fiction and fantasy, both in the magazine and in the publishing houses. Surprise! The editorial stratum of SF/F/H is not the straight, white and (predominately but not exclusively) male enclave it was before; the editorial bench of SF/F/H publishing (and publishing generally) is much more queer and of color than it has been in years past. They are interested in publishing more than just the “usual suspects” in SF/F/H as defined by previous decades and — this is important — the diverse SF/F/H they are acquiring is selling very well. This will naturally have an impact on what is considered at awards time.

The third thing to consider with respect to the Hugos specifically is that close to a decade ago a group of right-wing fans and writers, alarmed by what they saw as left-wing, SJW, politically-correct, etc work creeping into the awards, decided to try to run slates of work to counter that trend. This did not go well, in no small part because their tactics energized a very large group of fandom to counter their actions, including a significant number of more progressive Hugo voters. When the “takeover” of the Hugos failed, most of these right-wing folks flounced from the Hugo voting pool; some of the more progressive voters stayed and continue to vote today. This is reflected in what gets nominated and thus, what eventually becomes a finalist….

(4) CAN YOU BLAME HIS PARENTS? “Calvin and Hobbes’ Creator Already Answered Fans’ Darkest Question” claims MSN.com. The comic’s creator Bill Watterson gave an unexpectedly deep answer to an interviewer.

…WEST: The parents are really an interesting part of the strip. In a way they’re foils, but the thing that interests me is that it’s extremely rare for them to express any love for Calvin. Is that simply because it doesn’t have any comic potential, or is it something inherent in their characters?

WATTERSON: Again, I feel like I’m falling into the trap of psychoanalyzing the characters and I don’t want to say, “Well, this character acts this way,” because that’s confining. I think the way they relate to Calvin is more a reflection of my misanthropic tendencies than any literary concern.

Many strips have, you know, the funny character, the straight man, the foil — those characters are stereotypes and fairly flat. The role of these characters in the strip is entirely defined by their function as a member of a social group or age group, or whatever, and I’m trying to avoid that as much as I possibly can. I try to make each character, even the ones that aren’t that important, a unique personality that, over time, will develop. Some of the minor characters appear less often than Calvin and Hobbes, but, hopefully, over years, each one will become a unique personality that will be every bit as complex and interesting as Calvin and Hobbes.

In other words, I don’t want the parents to simply function as parents. I want them to be unique individuals as well. They are parents, of course, and, as sane people, they have to react to Calvin’s personality. What I try to do in writing any character is to put myself in his position, to the extent that I can, and I know that if I was Calvin’s dad or Calvin’s mom that I would not react to him with the gooey sentimentality that sometimes appears in other strips. Given Calvin’s usual behavior, I think his parents show admirable restraint in theirs….

(5) IT MIGHT HAPPEN. “Neil Gaiman Adapting Samuel R. Delany’s Nova as a Series” reports CBR.com.

…The report comes from a New Yorker profile on the 81-year-old Delany, which mentioned that Gaiman was adapting Nova for a Prime Video series. Gaiman was briefly interviewed for the article, and called Delany a profound influence whose work inspired him to attempt a similar sophisticated tone in his comics such as The Sandman. “I was used to very functional prose,” Gaiman said, calling the author by his nickname Chip. “Chip felt like I’d taken a step into poetry… There was no limit to how good you could be in your chosen area.” Prime Video has not yet confirmed a Nova series at this time….

(6) SUPERMAN. Animation World Network reports “‘My Adventures with Superman’ Episode 1 Now on YouTube”.  

Adult Swim has released the first full episode of My Adventures with Superman on YouTube – or you can watch it below. The series, which features Jack Quaid as Clark Kent, Alice Lee as Lois Lane, and Ishmel Sahid as Jimmy Olsen, is Warner Bros. Animation and DC’s newest animated series. The first two episodes are now streaming on Max. One new episode will debut every Thursday at midnight on Adult Swim and the next day on Max. It is unknown if future episodes will hit YouTube as well.

A serialized coming-of-age story, My Adventures with Superman follows 20-somethings Clark Kent, the bright and driven Lois Lane, and their best friend Jimmy Olsen as they begin to discover who they are and everything they can accomplish together as an investigative reporting team at the Daily Planet….

(7) MEMORY LANE.

2010 [Written by Cat Eldridge from a choice by Mike Glyer.]

South Africa is one of those countries just starting to get known for its genre fiction. Though it goes back a century in terms of a history of science fiction being created there, that fiction like the greater culture there has been irretrievably changed by Apartheid and the novel Mike has chosen this time is one of those works. 

Lauren Beukes is our author this time, she’s written six novels including the forthcoming Bridges, some of which are SF, some of which are mysteries. 

Great mysteries too though the cringe factor is really high in them. Blood and gore everywhere. Now the SF she has written is first rate — imaginative storytelling that is noticeably different has it is, well, rooted in South African history and culture. One most of us aren’t familiar with. 

Zoo City was published in trade paper thirteen years ago by Umuzi / Random House Struik. The cover art is by Joey Hi- Fi.  It would win both a Clarke Award and a Kitschie, and be nominated for a BSFA, Otherwise, and a World Fantasy Award.

And now for our Beginning…

In Zoo City, it’s impolite to ask. 

Morning light the sulfur color of the mine dumps seeps across Johannesburg’s skyline and sears through my window. My own personal bat signal. Or a reminder that I really need to get curtains. 

Shielding my eyes—morning has broken and there’s no picking up the pieces—I yank back the sheet and peel out of bed. Benoît doesn’t so much as stir, with only his calloused feet sticking out from under the duvet like knots of driftwood. Feet like that, they tell a story. They say he walked all the way from Kinshasa with his Mongoose strapped to his chest. 

The Mongoose in question is curled up like a furry comma on my laptop, the glow of the LED throbbing under his nose. Like he doesn’t know that my computer is out of bounds. Let’s just say I’m precious about my work. Let’s just say it’s not entirely legal.

I take hold of the laptop on either side and gently tilt it over the edge of my desk. At thirty degrees, the Mongoose starts sliding down the front of the laptop. He wakes with a start, tiki tavi claws scrabbling for purchase. As he starts to fall, he contorts in the air and manages to land feet first. Hunching his stripy shoulders, he hisses at me, teeth bared. I hiss back. The Mongoose realizes he has urgent flea bites to attend to. 

Leaving the Mongoose to scrolf at its flank, I duck under one of the loops of rope hanging from the ceiling, the closest I can get to providing authentic Amazon jungle vines, and pad over the rotten linoleum to the cupboard. Calling it a cupboard is a tad optimistic, like calling this dank room with its precariously canted floor and intermittent plumbing an apartment is optimistic. The cupboard is not much more than an open box with a piece of fabric pinned across it to keep the dust off my clothes—and Sloth, of course. As I pull back the gaudy sunflower print, Sloth blinks up at me sleepily from his roost, like a misshapen fur coat between the wire hangers. He’s not good at mornings.

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born July 9, 1906 Walter Sande. He’s best remembered for being on Red Planet MarsThe War of the Worlds and Invaders from Mars, but he also showed up playing a heavy in such serials as The Green Hornet Strikes Again! and Sky Raiders, the latter being at least genre adjacent. He’s had a recurring role as Col. Crockett on The Wild Wild West, and one-offs on Voyage to the Bottom of The SeaThe Man from U.N.C.L.E.Lost in Space and Bewitched. (Died 1971.)
  • Born July 9, 1911 Mervyn Peake. Best remembered for the Gormenghast series which is quite delightfully weird. Most fans hold that there are but three novels in the series (Titus GroanGormenghast and Titus Alone) though there’s a novella, “Boy in Darkness”, that is a part of it. Peake planned a fourth book, Titus Awakes, but it was barely begun when he died. Maeve Gilmore, Peake’s widow, wrote the manuscript of a version titled Search Without End which remained unpublished until decades after her death. It incorporates a fragmentary text written by Peake. The Gormenghast series has been adapted for radio three times and television once, and it was announced in 2018 that Gaiman is writing the script for an adaptation. (Died 1968.)
  • Born July 9, 1944 Glen Cook, 79. Yes, I’ve read his entire excellent Black Company series. I’ve also mostly liked his far lighter Garrett P.I. series (though not the last novel for reasons I’ll not discuss here) which it seems unfortunately he’s abandoned. And I really should read the Instrumentalities of the Night as I’ve heard good things about it. I’m really, really surprised not only that he hasn’t won any awards, but how few he’s been nominated for.
  • Born July 9, 1945 Dean Koontz, 78. The genres of of mystery, horror, fantasy and science fiction are all home to him. Author of over a hundred novels, his first novel was SF — it being Star Quest (not in print) published as an Ace Double with Doom of the Green Planet by Emil Petaja. ISFDB claims over half of his output is genre, I’d say that a low estimate. 
  • Born July 9, 1954 Ellen Klages, 69. Her story “Basement Magic” won a Nebula Award for Best Novelette. I strongly recommend Portable Childhoods, a collection of her short fiction, published by Tachyon Publications, my favorite publisher of fantasy. They released another collection from her, Wicked Wonders, which is equally wonderful. Passing Strange, her novel set in 1940s San Francisco, which won a BSFA Award and a World Fantasy Award, is also really great. Ok, I really like her.
  • Born July 9, 1970 Ekaterina Sedia, 53. Her Heart of Iron novel which was nominated for a Sidewise Award for Alternate History is simply awesome. I’d also recommend The Secret History of Moscow and the recent The House of Discarded Dreams as well, the latter is a fantastic audio work which is narrated by Robin Miles. It’s worth noting that the usual suspects list several collections by her, Willful Impropriety: 13 Tales of Society, Scandal, and Romance and Wilfill Impropriety that ISFDB doesn’t list. They’re quite superb it turns out as is Paper Cities: An Anthology of Urban Fantasy for which she won a World Fantasy Award. She had a story out just last year, “Ghost Shop”, in Professor Charlatan Bardot’s Travel Anthology to the Most (Fictional) Haunted Buildings in the Weird, Wild World.  She’s amply stocked at the usual suspects. She’s also very deeply stocked at the audio suspects as well which sort of surprised and delighted me as I’ve added a number of her works to my To Be Listened to list, including The House of Discarded Dreams which sounds really fascinating in the manner of Gaiman’s Sandman.

(9) COMICS SECTION.

  • JumpStart involves some surprisingly early memories of Isaac Asimov.
  • Herman shows aliens getting their own first encounter.
  • Six Chix has a cool librarian joke.

(10) BEWARE THE BLINDING LIGHT. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] No, not the blinding light of atomic explosions in the Oppenheimer biopic, but the blinding light of full nudity, at least one sex scene, and an on-again-off-again love triangle. All involving Oppenheimer himself. 

One guesses this may be how the flick gained its R rating. Which doesn’t mean those things were inserted just for titillation, apparently they are true to his complicated story. “It Appears The R-Rated ‘Oppenheimer’ Will Be The Sauciest Movie The Decidedly Un-Saucy Christopher Nolan Has Ever Made” at Uproxx.

Christopher Nolan movies do love — sometimes. Memento and Inception feature dead wives who haunt their heroes. There’s a tragic love triangle in The Dark Knight and a tragic love quadrangle in The Prestige. That’s it! What he doesn’t do is sex and/or nudity. Oppenheimer, his forthcoming film about the “father of the atomic bomb,” is going to change that. If you thought the film’s R-rating — Nolan’s first since 2002’s Insomnia — was due to graphic A-bomb carnage…well, you may be right about that. But it’s also because there’s apparently a fair amount of kink….

(11) TAKE A WALK ON THE WILD SIDE. Tour the wild animal bridge inspired by the life of P-22, the fabled mountain lion of Griffith Park. NBC Los Angeles invites you to “Take a free tour of the Wallis Annenberg Wildlife Crossing”.

… This celebrated span, in short, will do an immeasurable amount of good for an incredible number of critters that both roam and home in the area.

That important education? It comes courtesy of the National Wildlife Federation’s #SaveLACougers campaign, which is shedding an informative light on the upcoming Wallis Annenberg Wildlife Crossing via several docent-helmed tours at the Agoura Hills site.

The under-construction skyway, or “wildway” if you prefer, will allow animals to move safely above the 101 freeway, significantly (and safely) expanding their frontiers.

And while the Wallis Annenberg Wildlife Crossing, which broke ground in the spring of 2022, still has a ways to go before the jubilant ribbon-cutting, supporters of urban wildlife can take a look at the progress now and find out more about the bridge’s development and progress….

(12) SHIFTING GEARS. This is a good time to revisit the question “What Is the Antikythera Mechanism, the World’s First Computer?” Smithsonian Magazine answers it in this 2015 article.

After 2,000 years under the sea, three flat, misshapen pieces of bronze at the National Archaeological Museum in Athens are all shades of green, from emerald to forest. From a distance, they look like rocks with patches of mold. Get closer, though, and the sight is stunning. Crammed inside, obscured by corrosion, are traces of technology that appear utterly modern: gears with neat triangular teeth (just like the inside of a clock) and a ring divided into degrees (like the protractor you used in school). Nothing else like this has ever been discovered from antiquity. Nothing as sophisticated, or even close, appears again for more than a thousand years.

For decades after divers retrieved these scraps from the Antikythera wreck from 1900 to 1901, scholars were unable to make sense of them. X-ray imaging in the 1970s and 1990s revealed that the device must have replicated the motions of the heavens. Holding it in your hands, you could track the paths of the Sun, Moon and planets with impressive accuracy. One investigator dubbed it “an ancient Greek computer.” But the X-ray images were difficult to interpret, so mainstream historians ignored the artifact even as it was championed by fringe writers such as Erich von Däniken, who claimed it came from an alien spaceship. It wasn’t until 2006 that the Antikythera mechanism captured broader attention. That year, Mike Edmunds of Cardiff University in Wales and his team published CT scans of the fragments, revealing more details of the inner workings, as well as hidden inscriptions—and triggering a burst of scholarly research…. 

(13) VIDEO OF THE DAY. “Smoking Causes Coughing” is French comedy with 50’s sf flair.

After a devastating battle against a diabolical turtle, a team of five avengers – known as the TOBACCO FORCE – is sent on a mandatory retreat to strengthen their decaying group cohesion. Their break goes wonderfully well until Lézardin, Emperor of Evil, decides to annihilate planet Earth… But will they repair their relationship in time for a final epic battle?

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

Pixel Scroll 5/21/23 I Was Born Under A Scrollin’ Star

(1) HUGO FINALISTS AGED IN THE CASK. At Young People Read Old SFF, James Davis Nicoll gets the panel’s reaction to William F. Wu’s story “Hong’s Bluff”.

This month’s Young People Read Old Hugo Finalists story is William F. Wu’s Hugo and Nebula-nominated ​“Hong’s Bluff”. Wu has had a long career—the 50th anniversary of his first sale is only three years off — with a respectable collection of nominations and accolades. However, honesty requires me to admit this is the first Wu story I have ever read. It was certainly… energetic. Wu is now on my acquire list….

(2) DOCUMENTING THE IMPACT OF TREK. Nana Visitor is writing a book about the women of Star Trek and their effect on culture, and would like to hear from any women who are in the medical field and were inspired by Star Trek.

(3) BURIED ALIVE IN $$$. Paste Magazine’s Jacob Oller says, “The IP Era’s Venture Capital Philosophy Has Poisoned Movies”.

Among so many heinous problems trickling down on our heads from the top of the film industry is that of intellectual property. It’s not that adaptations are new, but that the ability to make a living by creating anything else has only recently been destroyed. IP obsession has killed the mid-budget movie, it’s killed the movie star, and it’s coming for the rest of the industry. This is as much a problem for audiences as for filmmakers (at any level), and it all comes from the same place: Unchecked greed, and the familiarity with which we accept it.

Tidy, consistent, sustainable profits—the kind of thing generated by movie studios that once offered a diverse slate of reasonably budgeted adult dramas, teen-date rom-coms, family films, and fence-swinging art movies—are a thing of the past for those in charge of the industry. Other forces from the entertainment world are certainly at play, specifically the rise of prestige TV as a destination for what the movies have abandoned. But the pivot to the IP Era feels simple, because it feels familiar. It’s because tidy, consistent, sustainable profits aren’t enough. There must be growth. There must be domination. There must be Shared Universes.

This attitude goes beyond being risk-averse. Risk aversion isn’t new. Single-minded speculation, trying to alchemize IP into gold, is.

The management decisions keeping workers from their fair pay—as described by Writers Guild of America board member John Rogers in a thread about the current strike—are the same ones milking old IP for all it’s worth: “The new robber barons of Hollywood are on a suicide run.” This shift is tech-bro economics, Wall Street-fellating “vulture capitalism” here to feast on the industry, not further it….

(4) ALT-INTELLIGENCE. Chris Panatier tweeted a very funny thread about an AI writing program run amuck. Thread starts here.

Here is another excerpt:

(5) NEBULA WINNERS CONSIDERED. Cora Buhlert offers “Some Thoughts on the 2022 Nebula Award Winners”. For example:

… The winner of the 2022 Nebula Award for Best Novella is Even Though I Knew the End by C.L. Polk. This is one win I’m fully aboard with, because Even Though I Knew the End mixes a lot of elements I like – urban fantasy with a retro noir setting, a hardboiled detective story and a wonderful love story. It’s a great novella and I hope to see it on the Hugo ballot this year….

(6) A TOY STORY. Cora Buhlert also released a new “Masters-of-the-Universe-Piece Theatre: ‘Playing for Dinner’”.

…So enjoy this story of Orko and Man-e-Faces, the two entertainers at the royal palace, teaming up and taking their show on the road.

On the market place of the city of Sarnscepter…

(7) AFROPANTHEOLOGY. The latest If This Goes On (Don’t Panic) podcast features “Publishing in Africa: Afropantheology with Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki”.

In this Episode of Publishing in Africa, Oghenechovwe and Alan [Bailey] discuss the meaning behind Afropantheology, Oghenechovwe’s plans for Afropantheology (including a new line of books), and the International Conference for Fantasy in the Arts.

(8) DEJA FU. This seemed like the perfect video to discover on the day I began rereading the Murderbot series. “Tesla Bot Update”.

(9) IT’S TIME. See “The Muppet Show” theater at LEGO Ideas. (And there are a lot more images in the updates.)

…For nearly 70 years, Jim Henson’s creations have captured the hearts of millions of fans around the world in movies, TV shows, Disney attractions, concerts, and more. Now, for the first time ever, join Kermit the Frog, Fozzie Bear, Miss Piggy, and the Great Gonzo in this zany recreation of the Muppet Show in LEGO form!

This miniature playset beautifully houses some of the Muppet’s most hilarious and endearing production numbers through the years. The theater proscenium features an ornate red and gold facade harkening back to the show’s vaudevillian roots. Look closely at some of the art deco decor… you might spot a few easter eggs hiding in the design.

The mainstage includes three mini diorama sets and a detachable balcony. With ‘you’ as the guest star, start off the show beneath the Muppet Show’s iconic opening theme arches. Then, you’ll be able to act out wacky experiments in Muppet Labs, cook up a feast in the Swedish Chef’s Kitchen, rock out with the Electric Mayhem, or explore the final frontier on the set of the USS Swinetrek. If that’s not enough, Statler and Waldorf will throw in a quick heckle or two from their balcony seats….

(10) MEMORY LANE.

2015[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

Kazuo Ishiguro, a Japanese-born British writer, has  written four SF novels including The Buried Giant: A Novel which is where our Beginning is from, the other three being Klara and The SunNever Let Me Go and The Unconsoled.

It was published eight years ago by Alford Knopf. It didn’t win any awards but it was nominated for both a Mythopoeic and World Fantasy Award.

The British Council, yes the British Council has a very nice literature section on their website.  They, say that “Ishiguro’s novels are preoccupied by memories, their potential to digress and distort, to forget and to silence, and, above all, to haunt.”

February of this year, the Hollywood Reporter said that Netflix planned on adapting the novel into an animated film. It will have Guillermo del Toro as director and Dennis Kelly as writer.

With that, here’s the Beginning…

The Buried Giant: A Novel to The Buried Giant: A Novel 

You would have searched a long time for the sort of winding lane or tranquil meadow for which England later became celebrated. There were instead miles of desolate, uncultivated land; here and there rough-hewn paths over craggy hills or bleak moorland. Most of the roads left by the Romans would by then have become broken or overgrown, often fading into wilderness. Icy fogs hung over rivers and marshes, serving all too well the ogres that were then the still native to this land. The people who lived nearby—one wonders what desperation led them to settle in such gloomy spots—might well have feared these creatures, whose panting breaths could be heard long before their deformed figures emerged from the mist. But such monsters were not cause for astonishment. People then would have regarded them as everyday hazards, and in those days there was so much else to worry about. How to get food out of the hard ground; how not to run out of firewood; how to stop the sickness that could kill a dozen pigs in a single day and produce green rashes on the cheeks of children.

In any case, ogres were not so bad provided one did not provoke them. One had to accept that every so often, perhaps following some obscure dispute in their ranks, a creature would come blundering into a village in a terrible rage, and despite shouts and brandishings of weapons, rampage about injuring anyone slow to move out of its path. Or that every so often, an ogre might carry off a child into the mist. The people of the day had to be philosophical about such outrages

In one such area on the edge of a vast bog, in the shadow of some jagged hills, lived an elderly couple, Axl and Beatrice. Perhaps these were not their exact or full names, but for ease, this is how we will refer to them. I would say this couple lived an isolated life, but in those days few were “isolated” in any sense we would understand. For warmth and protection, the villagers lived in shelters, many of them dug deep into the hillside, connecting one to the other by underground passages and covered corridors. Our elderly couple lived within one such sprawling warren—“building” would be too grand a word—with roughly sixty other villagers. If you came out of their warren and walked for twenty minutes around the hill, you would have reached the next settlement, and to your eyes, this one would have seemed identical to the first. But to the inhabitants themselves, there would have been many distinguishing details of which they would have been proud or ashamed.

I have no wish to give the impression that this was all there was to the Britain of those days; that at a time when magnificent civilisations flourished elsewhere in the world, we were here not much beyond the Iron Age. Had you been able to roam the countryside at will, you might well have discovered castles containing music, fine food, athletic excellence; or monasteries with inhabitants steeped in learning. But there is no getting around it. Even on a strong horse, in good weather, you could have ridden for days without spotting any castle or monastery looming out of the greenery. Mostly you would have found communities like the one I have just described, and unless you had with you gifts of food or clothing, or were ferociously armed, you would not have been sure of a welcome. I am sorry to paint such a picture of our country at that time, but there you are.

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born May 21, 1903 Manly Wade Wellman. I remember reading the John the Balladeer collection Karl E. Wagner did and then seeking out the rest of those stories. Amazing stuff! Read the Complete John Thunstone a few years back — strongly recommended. What else by him should I read? And I should note he’s not that well stocked at the usual suspects. (Died 1986.)
  • Born May 21, 1917 Raymond Burr. Speaking of lawyers, we have the Birthday of the man who played Perry Mason. It looks the 1949 film Black Magic with him playing Dumas, Jr. was his first genre performance. Bride of the Gorilla was his next with Lou Chaney Jr. co-starring and Curt Siodmak directing. He goes on to be Grand Vizier Boreg al Buzzar in The Magic Carpet before being Vargo in Tarzan and the She-Devil. And finally he’s in a Godzilla film, Godzilla, King of the Monsters! To be precise, as Steve Martin says. And unfortunately he played the same role in Godzilla 1985 which earned him a Golden Raspberry Award. (Died 1993.)
  • Born May 21, 1918 Jeanne Bates. She’s Diana Palmer in the Forties The Phantom serial, possibly the first one done. Her first genre was as Miss Norcutt in The Return of the Vampire, in a not authorized sequel to Lugosi’s 1931 Universal Studios film Dracula. Most of the films she’s known for are such horror films such as The Soul of a Monster and Back from the Dead. (Died 2007.)
  • Born May 21, 1940 Booker Bradshaw. A record producer, film and TV actor, and Motown executive. He’s here because he’s one of those rare secondary characters that showed up more than once on Trek. He played Dr. M’Benga in “Obsession” and “That Which Survives”. Because his background story was that he served under Captain Christopher Pike, his character has been recast on Strange New Worlds and is played by Babs Olusanmokun. (Died 2003.)
  • Born May 21, 1945 Richard Hatch. He’s best known for his role as Captain Apollo in Battlestar Galactica. He is also widely known for his role as Tom Zarek in the second Battlestar Galactica series. He also wrote a series of tie-in novels co-authored with Christopher Golden, Stan Timmons, Alan Rodgers and Brad Linaweaver. (Died 2017.)
  • Born May 21, 1954 Paul Collins, 69. Australian writer who has been nominated for an astounding twenty Ditmar Awards. In the nineties, he won a William Atheling Jr Award for Criticism or Review for The MUP Encyclopaedia of Australian Science Fiction & Fantasy published by Melbourne University Press which alas was never updated. In his twenties, he began published and edited Void Science Fiction and Fantasy, a semi-prozine.

(12) REASON WHY A FAMOUS COMIC SHUTTERED. “’People Would Be Wishing Me Dead’: Why Calvin & Hobbes’ Creator Ended the Comic Despite Its Popularity” at MSN.com.

Bill Watterson, the creative mind behind Calvin and Hobbes, has no issues with how he left his beloved comic strip. An interview reveals Watterson’s reasoning for ending the cartoon and why he still remains confident in his decision….

…While many fans might have preferred the adventures of the comedic duo to continue, Watterson was quite happy to bring Calvin and Hobbes to its natural conclusion. In an interview with The Cleveland Plain Dealer in 2010, Watterson looks back on his career fifteen years after leaving his strip behind, saying:

“This isn’t as hard to understand as people try to make it. By the end of 10 years, I’d said pretty much everything I had come there to say.

“It’s always better to leave the party early. If I had rolled along with the strip’s popularity and repeated myself for another five, 10 or 20 years, the people now “grieving” for “Calvin and Hobbes” would be wishing me dead and cursing newspapers for running tedious, ancient strips like mine instead of acquiring fresher, livelier talent. And I’d be agreeing with them.”

(13) COLLECTIBLES. [Item by Ben Bird Person.] YouTuber Jules Burt just posted this video of his SF/horror Pan Books paperback collection featuring novels by Arthur C. Clarke, Robert Heinlein, and Frederik Pohl: “INCREDIBLE – Vintage PAN SF & Horror – Paperbacks – 1945 to 1979 – Herbert van Thal – John Burke”.

(14) I’VE HEARD THAT NAME BEFORE. Andrew (not Werdna) caught an interesting reference while watching the most recent episode of The Flash. A startled Chester Runk (from 2049) exclaims “Sweet N. K. Jemisin!”

It’s also mentioned in the Arrowverse Wiki episode recap “A New World, Part Three”.

(15) SHARK WEEK’S 35TH ANNIVERSARY. Entertainment Weekly reports “Aquaman himself Jason Momoa will host Shark Week”.

Aquaman star Jason Momoa has been announced as host for the annual Discovery Channel event, news that came out of the Warner Bros. Discovery upfront presentations in New York on Wednesday.

“As the host of Shark Week, I am beyond excited to take you along on this journey,” Momoa said in a statement. “This project means more to me than a week of talking about sharks. It’s a chance for me to learn and share my connection to these amazing creatures. My love of sharks came long before my time as Aquaman — it began several generations before me.”…

(16) PIPPI IN THE BEGINNING. Witness History – “Pippi Longstocking” at BBC Sounds.

In Stockholm in 1941, Astrid Lindgren made up a story for her seven-year-old daughter, Karin, about a young girl who lived alone and had super-human strength. 

Karin named her Pippi Långstrump, or Pippi Longstocking in English. 

Four years later, Astrid submitted her story into a competition and it won. Her book, Pippi Långstrump, was published and became an overnight success. It’s now been translated into more than 70 languages, as well as being made into more than 40 TV series and films. 

Rachel Naylor speaks to Astrid’s daughter, Karin Nyman. 

(17) JWST RESULTS CHALLENGE MODELS. It may be even bigger on the inside than they knew: “Rethinking the Universe: Astronomers Disturbed by the Unexpected Scale of James Webb’s Galaxies”.

The first results from the James Webb Space Telescope have hinted at galaxies so early and so massive that they are in tension with our understanding of the formation of structure in the Universe. Various explanations have been proposed that may alleviate this tension. But now a new study from the Cosmic Dawn Center suggests an effect that has never before been studied at such early epochs, indicating that the galaxies may be even more massive.

If you have been following the first results from the James Webb Space Telescope, you have probably heard about the paramount issue with the observations of the earliest galaxies:

They are too big.

From a few days after the release of the first images, and repeatedly through the coming months, new reports of ever-more distant galaxies appeared. Disturbingly, several of the galaxies seemed to be “too massive.”

From our currently accepted concordance model of the structure and evolution of the Universe, the so-called ΛCDM model, they simply shouldn’t have had the time to form so many stars.

Although ΛCDM is not a holy indestructible grail, there are many reasons to wait before claiming a paradigm shift: The measured epochs at which we see the galaxies could be underestimated.

(18) VIDEO OF THE DAY. “It’s Quieter In The Twilight” is a documentary about the people who keep the Voyager mission going.

In an unremarkable office space, a select group of aging engineers sacrificed promotion, postponed retirement, and dedicated their lives to stay with the longest running and farthest reaching mission in NASA’s history. Fighting outdated technology and time, Voyager’s flight-team pursues humankind’s greatest exploration.

[Thanks to Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Francis Hamit, Danny Sichel, Ben Bird Person, Andrew (not Werdna), Andrew Porter, John King Tarpinian, and Chris Barkley for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Niall McAuley.]

Pixel Scroll 1/15/22 Pixelpunk Scrollcore

(1) SEND ME IN, COACH. Continuing yesterday’s “squeecore” discussion — John Scalzi is happy to be in the conversation anytime, but that doesn’t mean he agrees with the point he’s being used to illustrate. “Portrait of the Author As a Component of a ‘Punk-Or-Core’ Formulation” at Whatever. (Running the tweet, too, because I love the graphic.)

… My canal, as it turns out, runs across a lot of thematic ground, and does a fair amount of intersecting. Some of that is by design, since I am easily bored, as a human and a writer, and like to splash around in new places. Some of that is just following the lay of the land. At the end of the day, however, it means that depending one’s inclinations and rhetorical needs, and contingent on examples, I can be grouped in with the gun-humping dudes who write military science fiction, or the woke SJW scolds who are currently ruining the Hugos, or pretty much wherever else you need me to go to make your point.

And at least superficially you won’t be wrong. I mean, I did write that story that you’re pointing to, and it does exist in that sphere, and I’m not sorry I wrote that thing, and may write a thing like it again, if I have a mind to. But I suspect on a deeper level — the level that actually makes your point something more than a facile, half-baked thesis to burble out onto a blog post or podcast because content content content — using me as an example is not hugely useful….

(2) HER MILEAGE VARIED. Cora Buhlert also shared her thoughts about Rite Gud’s “squeecore” podcast and Camestros Felapton’s post in response: “Science Fiction Is Never Evenly Distributed”.

… The podcasters are not wrong, cause all of these trends definitely exist in current SFF, though they’re not one unifying trend, but several different trends. Uplifting and upbeat SFF is certainly a trend and it already has a name that is much less derogatory than “squeecore”, namely hopepunk. Reader-insert characters and a video-game/RPG feel is a trend as well and there is a term or rather two for it, namely LitRPG and gamelit.

I agree that there is a strong influence of YA fiction and a tendency to show younger characters gaining skills rather than being already fully developed in contemporary SFF, but that’s the result of the YA SFF boom of the past twenty-five years, which served as a gateway to the genre for countless readers….

As I explained in this postGalactic Journey is very good at showing how different trends as well as older and newer forms of SFF coexist in the same period, because we try to cover everything and not just the cherry-picked examples that later eras choose to remember.

Also, quite often works are shoehorned into a trend, because they vaguely match some characteristics thereof and came out around the same time, even though they don’t really fit. The Expanse novels by James S.A. Corey are a good example. They are often shoehorned into the 2010s space opera revival, even though The Expanse has nothing in common with the likes of the Imperial Radch trilogy, the Paradox trilogy, the Hexarchate series or A Memory Called Empire beyond being set in space. Meanwhile, The Expanse draws heavily on mundane science fiction (a movement that never really got beyond its manifesto), Cyberpunk, golden age science fiction and the 1990s “cast of thousands/everybody and the dog gets a POV” style of SFF epics that never got a name, even though it was very much a thing and still lingers on….

(3) STILL WRESTLING WITH AMAZON. Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki told Facebook followers that he heard from Amazon KDP again. And he posted more screencaps of his correspondence with them.

Some more updates on the Amazon KDP fiasco, they called me again yesterday, to explain why I can’t edit my banking details. Must have seen my tweet on it. They said it’s a security issue. And offered some more assistance in replacing it and ensuring I can get the royalties.

On another note, though related, I’m trying to use the account of a friend that was in the US because well, they don’t accept Nigerian bank accounts. I was using Payoneer, a service that mimics US bank accounts and essentially reads as if you are in the US. It’s legit btw, and accepted by Amazon. I’m pointing this out because a number of people latched on to this when I mentioned it, amongst the methods I use to get past through these restrictions. They said oh yes see, it’s your fault. One of those methods you use must have broken the rules.

This is how people enable racism even when they don’t cause it. They look for anything to justify and deny your marginalization. It either doesn’t exist, it didn’t happen, or it’s your own fault. A number of players were on every platform that carried this, saying this. You don’t even know what those methods are. But it must be one of them & this must all be my fault & deserved. The world tries to lock you out, then punishes you viciously for trying to not be locked out. Then people blame you for even trying at all to circumvent those lockouts. Every publishing-payment platform I’ve tried to use to do anything has either banned, blocked me or doesn’t work here or allow payment systems. From Draft2Digital to Smash words to Kickstarter to Paypal to Amazon KDP, to even Gofundme. But it must all be my fault. I must have violated all their rules somehow. Even GoFundMe that’s supposed to be for people in need of help. I wasn’t even qualified to beg for money. I needed an American to beg for me. If I had even tried to insert myself at any point into the arrangement, it’d have crashed….

(4) EXPANDING ON THE EXPANSE? Den of Geek contemplates what could happen to keep the series from really being over: “The Expanse: The Possibility of a Season 7 or Sequel Series”. (Beware spoilers.)

The Possibility of an Expanse Movie

While The Expanse team went into Season 6 knowing it would almost certainly be the show’s last, they chose to tell the story that included a Laconia-set subplot adapted from Expanse novella Strange Dogs. Unlike basically every other the story in Season 6, the Laconia subplot about a girl named Cara and her efforts to save brother Xan with the help some alien creatures was very forward-focused. It also properly introduced Admiral Duarte, a character who becomes incredibly important in the remaining books in the series. The decision to give so much of Season 6’s precious narrative time could have been made as a way to expand the scope of this world, and to pay homage to these future book plots, and/or it could hint that the Expanse production team have not completely ruled out the possibility of a future for this adaptation…

(5) INSIDE THE SHELL. Den of Geek points out “The Expanse Series Finale Easter Eggs: The Sci-Fi Heroes Who Helped” (Beware spoilers.)

As the coalition forces prepare to storm the ring station in The Expanse series finale, the Rocinante crew is running through its systems check, and voices are heard in the background signaling their readiness. “Thrace ready!” we hear, and our ears perk up. How unusual to share the name of one of the most badass space dogfighters ever, Kara “Starbuck” Thrace of Battlestar Galactica. When that’s followed by “Ripley ready!” all doubt is removed. Naming yet another famous spacefarer, Ellen Ripley of Alien, can’t be a coincidence.

Fortunately, fans of Easter eggs like this are provided with a quick glimpse of the roster on Naomi’s screen, and it’s filled with the great heroes of space science fiction in movies and television. It’s fitting that, as The Expanse makes its final bow, the “Great Hunt” of sci-fi culture appears to assist in the battle to end all battles. It’s easy, in fact, to spot the rest of Ripley’s team from Aliens: Hudson, Hicks, and Vasquez. So who else is among the assault team?…

(6) EXPANSIVE ACTING. Forbes’ Rob Salkowitz poses the questions: “Shohreh Aghdashloo On ‘The Expanse’ Series Finale And The Show’s Stellar Legacy”. (Beware spoilers.)

RS: Were there times when you and the cast watched the finished shows where you were surprised by how certain scenes came out, or by the work of your castmates?

SA: Absolutely. Every season, the producers would screen the first two shows for the cast all together in a theatre. There was one moment, maybe from season four or five, where Amos [Wes Chatham] was talking about his mother, and it was so powerful that I just lost it. I had to leave the theatre crying, I couldn’t help myself. The other cast members, my friends, came up to me and asked me what happened and I said I was just overcome seeing that scene. But you know, there were so many scenes and moments that felt so real like that, which made me feel like we did a good job bringing this saga to life.

(7) SPLASH-A-BOOM. An underwater volcano eruption this morning near Tonga caused a small tsunami which hit the west coast of Central, North and South America, and the east coast of Hawai’i. Hawaiian fan Dave Rowe says, “Here it was only one foot high (three feet was expected).” And he passed along a link to an impressive 2-second video compiled from real-time satellite photos of the eruption: “Shockwave By Near-Tonga Eruption Captured From Himawari Satellite” at Space Weather Gallery.

(8) THE BIG TIME. M. John Harrison is one of the 2022 Booker Prize judges.

…He sold his first story in 1965, and in 1969 joined the staff of the UK speculative fiction magazine New Worlds, where he edited the books pages until 1978.

His novels include Climbers, which won the Boardman Tasker Prize for Mountain Literature in 1989; Nova Swing, which won the Arthur C. Clarke Award in 2007; and The Sunken Land Begins to Rise Again, which won the 2020 Goldsmiths Prize for innovation in fiction…. 

(9) I’VE SEEN THAT FACE BEFORE. Jordan D. Smith, who runs The Dark Crusade, a Karl Edward Wagner podcast, lists three examples of Karl Edward Wagner showing up as a character in other people’s fiction: “Three for the Road: Karl Edward Wagner in Fiction”.

… Below are three stories from the past ten years that have contained characters loosely based on, or inspired by, Karl Edward Wagner….

(10) TWO CATS FOR THE PRICE OF ONE. Mark Evanier eulogized voice actor “Leo DeLyon, R.I.P.” at News From ME. DeLyon died September 21 at the age of 96.

…We are especially interested in him because he occasionally did voices for cartoons. In the original Top Cat series in 1961, he did the voices of the characters Spook and Brain. That’s them above with Leo between them. He did other voices now and then for Hanna-Barbera…on The Smurfs and Paw Paws, and on a few specials when they needed voice actors who could sing. He was also the voice of Flunkey the baboon in the Disney version of The Jungle Book

(11) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

1995 [Item by Cat Eldridge.] Twenty-seven years ago on this evening, the very short lived sequel to the Sixties Get Smart series aired on Fox. It too was called Get Smart. And it had Don Adams and Barbara Feldon still playing Maxwell Smart and Agent 99. Edward Platt who played The Chief had died some twenty years earlier. 

The relative success of the reunion movie Get Smart, Again! six years earlier prompted the development of a weekly revival of Get Smart but the ratings were absolutely abysmal, so it was canned after seven episodes. Thirteen years later, the Get Smart film despite critics not particularly liking it was a great success. 

The Variety review was typical of what critics thought of it: “Would you believe there is very little to laugh about in this return of Get Smart, a decidedly unfunny undertaking that could have clearly benefited from some input from Buck Henry or at the very least a phone call from Mel Brooks.” 

(12) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born January 15, 1879 Ernest  Thesiger. He’s here because of his performance as Doctor Septimus Pretorius in James Whale’s Bride of Frankenstein. He had a major role in Hitchcock’s not completed and now lost Number 13 (or Mrs. Peabody) which is even genre adjacent. He was also in The Ghoul which was an early Boris Karloff film. And he continued to show up in SFF films such as The Ghosts of Berkeley Square where he was Dr. Cruickshank of Psychical Research Society. (Died 1961.)
  • Born January 15, 1913 Lloyd Bridges. Though I’m reasonably sure Secret Agent X-9, a 1945 serial, isn’t genre, I’m listing it anyways because I’m impressed that it was based on a comic strip by Dashiell Hammett, Leslie Charteris and others. He’s the Pilot Col. Floyd Graham in Rocketship X-M, Dr. Doug Standish In Around the World Under the Sea, Aramis in The Fifth Musketeer, Clifford Sterling in Honey, I Blew Up the Kid and Grandfather in Peter and the Wolf. His television appearances are too many to list here. (Died 1998.)
  • Born January 15, 1928 Joanne Linville. Best remembered I’d say for being the unnamed Romulan Commander Spock get involved with on “The Enterprise Incident”. (Vulcan’s Heart by Josepha Sherman and Susan Shwartz, calls her Liviana Charvanek.)  She also starred in the Twilight Zone‘s “The Passersby” episode, and she starred in “I Kiss Your Shadow” which was the final episode of the Bus Stop series. The episode was based on the short story by Robert Bloch who wrote the script for it. This story is in The Early Fears Collection. (Died 2021.)
  • Born January 15, 1935 Robert Silverberg, 87. I know the first thing I read by him was The Stochastic Man a very long time ago. After that I’ve read all of the Majipoor series which is quite enjoyable, and I know I’ve read a lot of his short fiction down the years. He has three Hugos with the first at NyCon II for Most Promising New Author, the other two being for his novella “Gilgamesh in the Outback” at Conspiracy ’87, and novella “Nightwings” at St. Louiscon. His “Hawksbill Station” novella was nominated at Baycon, and his Traveler of Worlds: Conversations with Robert Silverberg was nominated at Worldcon 75. He picked up a Retro Hugo at the Millennium Philcon for Best Fan Writer.
  • Born January 15, 1944 Christopher Stasheff. A unique blending I’d say of fantasy and SF with a large if I find sometimes excessive dollop of humor. His best known novels are his Warlock in Spite of Himself series which I’ve read some of years ago. Who here has read his Starship Troupers series? It sounds potentially interesting. (Died 2018.)
  • Born January 15, 1945 Ron Bounds, 77. A fan who was one of the founders of the Baltimore Science Fiction Society in the Sixties. He co-chaired Discon 2, was a member of both the Baltimore in ’67 and Washington in ’77 bid committees.  He chaired Loscon 2.  He published the Quinine, a one-shot APA. He was President of the Great Wall of China SF, Marching & Chop Suey Society which is both a cool name and a great undertaking as well.
  • Born January 15, 1965 James Nesbitt, 57. Best genre role was as Tom Jackman and Hyde in Jekyll which was written by  Steven Moffat. He’s also appeared in Fairy TalesThe Young Indiana Jones ChroniclesStan Lee’s Lucky Man and Outcast. Yes, I know he played Bofur in the Hobbit films. I still consider Jekyll his better by far genre role.

(13) SIGNAL BOOST. Since Hulu’s bad at promoting their films of this type, N. sent along a tweet he saw for I’m Your Man:

(14) MAKING LEMONADE WITHOUT LEMONS. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] I saw Dear Mr. Watterson, a 2013 documentary by Joel Allen Schroeder on YouTube, which you can watch for free, as long as you are willing to have your film interrupted with ads,  Of course Bill Watterson refuses to be interviewed or even photographed, and has refused to license his characters. How do you make a film about him?

Well, in the first half-hour Schroeder blows it with all sorts of talking heads, many of them comic strip creators, telling how special Calvin and Hobbes was as a strip.  Schroeder even goes back to his boyhood home in Appleton, Wisconsin to see his bedroom where he posted Sunday strips on the wall when he was a kid.  Who cares?

Things pick up when Schroeder goes to Chagrin Falls, Ohio, where Watterson grew up, and goes to the local library to see early illustrations Watterson drew for the local paper and hold an original strip about overdue books that is in the head librarian’s office. He then goes to the Billy Ireland Library at Ohio State, where Watterson’s archive is stored, and I thought that was interesting.  I bet a good documentary could be made about that library.

Then in the final third we get to the real subject of the film which is whether Watterson’s decision to forego all licensing deals was a good idea.  Here Berkeley Breathed, Stephen Pastis, and Jean Schultz had intelligent things to say.  As Pastis notes, there is a difference between licensing a Snoopy stuffed animal a four-year old could hold and having Snoopy sell life insurance through Met Life.  Seth Green also makes an appearance to note that he made bootleg Calvin t-shirts.

But one result of only having Calvin and Hobbes available in books is that these books are in school libraries and six- and seven-year-old kids love reading them.  That might not have happened if their first exposure to Watterson’s characters was through animated cartoons.

Dear Mr. Watterson is worth watching but you might want to fast forward through the first half hour.

(15) TWENTY THOUSAND PENNIES UNTO THE FEE. If you’re in the market for an online course about Jules Verne, The Rosenbach would like to sign you up: “Jules Verne’s Scientific Imagination with Anastasia Klimchynskaya”. Four sessions. Tuition for this course is $200, $180 Delancey Society and Members.

Verne is often cited as one of the fathers of science fiction and a lover of both literature and technology. Verne combined the earlier genres of the extraordinary voyage, travel narrative, and adventure story with unprecedented scientific rigor, creating the scientific romance genre, or roman de la science. This course will explore Verne’s unique mix of science and imagination and how it helped solidify the genre.

(16) UNDERGROUND ECONOMY. Here’s an interesting piece by DM David about just why dungeons full of monsters and treasures are a thing in Dungeons and Dragons and other RPGs: “The Movies and Stories than Inspired Dave Arneson to Invent the Dungeon Crawl”.

Around 1971 Dave Arneson and his circle of Minneapolis gamers invented games where players controlled individual characters who grew with experience and who could try anything because dice and a referee determined the outcomes. The group tried this style of play in various settings, but Dave invented one that proved irresistible: the dungeon.

Dave’s Blackmoor game—the campaign that spawned Dungeons & Dragons—began with a gaming group playing fictional versions of themselves in a fantasy world. The characters became champions in a series of miniature battles featuring armies clashing above ground. Without dungeons, the Blackmoor game might have stayed miniature wargaming rather than becoming D&D and a game nearly as well known as Monopoly. But by creating the dungeon crawl, Dave invented a new activity that transformed the campaign and ultimately made a lasting addition to popular culture…

(17) SHINY. The Daily Beast has a rundown on “The Laser SETI Projects That Might Find Intelligent Alien Civilizations”.

For 62 years, scientists have pointed instruments toward outer space in hopes of finding some sign that we’re not alone in the universe. But those instruments always scanned just a tiny swath of sky for a short span of time, limited mainly to listening for stray radio waves and leaving us largely blind to any visual evidence of extraterrestrials in the darkness of space.

Until now.

As the space age enters its seventh decade, the search for extraterrestrial intelligence (SETI) is getting a lot wider and more deliberate. And that could significantly boost our chances of actually finding something for the first time.

In mid-December, scientists with the SETI Institute in California finished installing a new laser instrument: an expensive lens-camera-computer combo at Haleakala Observatory, situated on a mountaintop on Maui, Hawaii, 10,000 feet above sea level.

The east-facing instrument, when combined with an identical west-facing system at the Robert Ferguson Observatory in Sonoma, California, scans a 150-degree arc of the night sky more than a thousand times a second, filtering the light and looking for the telltale signature of laser light—a possible sign of intelligent life. “We’re trying to cover all the sky all the time,” Eliot Gillum, the principal investigator for the LaserSETI project, told The Daily Beast.

(18) HIBERNATING ALIENS. Why can’t we find them? Isaac Arthur says it might be because they’re taking a kip… (Just like the Norwegian blue.)

One explanation for the Fermi Paradox is that aliens may be undetected because they slumber, quietly hidden away in the galaxy. But how and why might such Extraterrestrial Empires hibernate?

(19) QUITE A STRETCH. Nature says a “Giant hydrogen filament is one of the longest features of its type in the Galaxy and it could give birth to stars” in “A cloud named Maggie”.

A long filament-like cloud of hydrogen atoms lurking on the far side of the Milky Way is among the largest such structures in the Galaxy — and offers a rare glimpse into one of the earliest stages of star formation.

Scientists first reported evidence of the filament, which they nicknamed Maggie, in 2020. Now, some of those scientists, including Jonas Syed at the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy in Heidelberg, Germany, along with more astronomers, have conducted a detailed follow-up investigation. It shows that the filament stretches some 1,200 parsecs, roughly 1,000 times the distance from the Sun to its nearest stellar neighbor, Proxima Centauri.

Theory predicts that, over time, the neutral hydrogen atoms in the filament will pair up, forming dense clouds of hydrogen molecules. Such clouds ultimately give birth to stars.

(20) COMING CATTRACTIONS. Elon Musk’s Starlink satellite internet may be hated by astronomers, but credentials love it: Gizmodo explains: “If I Fits, I Sits: Starlink’s Self-Heating Internet Satellite Dishes Are Attracting Cats”.

SpaceX’s Starlink has been making steady gains with its fledgling satellite internet service, surpassing 100,000 terminals shipped in 2021 and showing promising improvements in performance after initial speed tests produced lackluster results. However, the company’s run into an unforeseen hiccup with its dishes: Cats love them….

(21) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In “Honest Trailers: The Matrix Resurrections,” the Screen Junkies say that the fourth film asks, “Do you take the blue pill and reboot this with Tom Holland as Neo or do you take the red pill and see how far up its own ass the story will go?” Also, since the film has musical theatre greats Neil Patrick Harris and Jonathan Groff (who was King George in Hamilton, and has also been in Frozen, Frozen II, and “Glee’) when is The Matrix musical coming?

[Thanks to Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, Chris Barkley, John King Tarpinian, Daniel Dern, Cora Buhlert, Dave Rowe, N., SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, 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 Patrick Morris Miller.]

Pixel Scroll 1/2/21 You Put The Mime In The Tesseract And Drink Them Both Together

(1) DAVID WEBER STATUS. Word of this alarming news went out last night:

After the Turtledove tweet was reposted to David Weber’s author page on Facebook, his wife, Sharon Rice-Weber commented:

He’s doing better right now. I’ll try and keep everyone updated

Best wishes for a full recovery.

(2) NEW YEAR’S WHO. Camestros Felapton combines the features of a review and a complete script rewrite in his analysis of yesterday’s special: “Review: Doctor Who – Revolution of the Daleks”. BEWARE SPOILERS! BEWARE IMPROVEMENTS!

The New Year’s special provides a hit of Doctor Who but that is about all. The episode is inoffensive, it plays around with one interesting idea about the theatre of policing and the aesthetics of fascism but doesn’t know what to do with that. Above all, it exemplifies the frustrating aspects of the Chibnall era. There is always a feeling of a better episode, that is almost exactly the same, lurking around the same pieces….

On the other hand, this fellow found one part of the special to be exceptionally thrilling —

(3) IN BAD TIMES TO COME. Future Tense presents “The Vastation” by Paul Theroux, “a new short story about a future pandemic that makes COVID-19 look simple.”

Steering to his assigned slot in the out-going convoy behind a bulky bomb-proof escort truck, Father said, “We’re going to Greenville,” and looked for my reaction to this surprising announcement. Surprising, not just because Greenville was far away, and where my Mother had been living, but also because I had never been taken outside the perimeter of Chicago….

There is a response essay to the story by physician Allison Bond: “In a pandemic, what do doctors owe, and to whom?”

…Today—as in this story—we fight a deadly contagious disease that has hit some communities much harder than others, and through which xenophobia and racism have been allowed to fester. In Theroux’s story, people are segregated into camps by nationality, into “island[s] of ethnicity, renewed country-of-origin pride and defiance in the enormous sea of rural America.” Perhaps these stemmed from viewing people who are different from oneself as the enemy, and then working to avoid them—something that is already increasingly prevalent in our society, in part thanks to social media.

(4) TRAVEL SAFETY PROPOSAL. “What are COVID-19 digital immunity passports?”Slate explains.

This week, the first doses of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine were administered in the U.S.
With the FDA expected to approve Moderna’s vaccine imminently, people are already looking forward to a world where travel and gatherings are possible. But for those activities to be maximally safe, the country will either need to reach herd immunity—unlikely until mid-2021 at the earliest, assuming essentially flawless vaccine roll-out and widespread adoption—or to find ways to verify people’s negative tests or vaccination status in advance.

Some companies are looking to digital solutions. Airlines like JetBlue, United, and Virgin Atlantic have begun using CommonPass, an app developed by the Commons Project and the World Economic Forum that shows whether users have tested negative for COVID-19 for international travel. Ticketmaster, too, told Billboard that its “post-pandemic fan safety” plans include digital health passes that verify event-goers’ COVID-19 negative test results or vaccination status. While these digital health passes could become a prerequisite for some activities, widespread adoption of so-called immunity passports would require a level of coordination and organization uncharacteristic of the country’s response to COVID-19 so far….

(5) MEMORY WHOLE. The Guardian tries to answer its own question: “George Orwell is out of copyright. What happens now?” The situation resonates with Orwell’s pigs — some works are more out of copyright than others.

Much of the author’s work may have fallen into public ownership in the UK, but there are more restrictions on its use remaining than you might expect, explains his biographer.

George Orwell died at University College Hospital, London, on 21 January 1950 at the early age of 46. This means that unlike such long-lived contemporaries as Graham Greene (died 1991) or Anthony Powell (died 2000), the vast majority of his compendious output (21 volumes to date) is newly out of copyright as of 1 January. 

…As is so often the way of copyright cut-offs, none of this amounts to a free-for-all. Any US publisher other than Houghton Mifflin that itches to embark on an Orwell spree will have to wait until 2030, when Burmese Days, the first of Orwell’s books to be published in the US, breaks the 95-year barrier. And eager UK publishers will have to exercise a certain amount of care. The distinguished Orwell scholar Professor Peter Davison fathered new editions of the six novels back in the mid-1980s. No one can reproduce these as the copyright in them is currently held by Penguin Random House. Aspiring reissuers, including myself, have had to go back to the texts of the standard editions published in the late 1940s, or in the case of A Clergyman’s Daughter and Keep the Aspidistra Flying, both of which Orwell detested so much – he described the former as “bollox” – that he refused to have them reprinted in his lifetime, to the originals of, respectively, 1935 and 1936.

(6) STRANGER THAN FICTION. L. Jagi Lamplighter is interviewed by ManyBooks about her work with “A Magic School Like No Other”.

What inspired you to create the Roanoke Academy for the Sorcerous Arts?

The original game that the books are based upon took place at a popular magic school from another series. When I sat down to write this series, I had to invent a whole new magic school—and I had to make it something

My son, who was then about nine or ten, had come up with the idea that the colony on the Island of Roanoke had disappeared because the whole island vanished and that there was a school of magic upon it.

I loved this idea, but I didn’t really know much about the area of the country where Roanoke Island is. So I decided it was a floating island that could wander. Then I put it in the Hudson River, near Storm King Mountain, because that is a place I happen to love. I found out there was a small island in that spot that actually has a ruin of a castle on it. I made that island (Bannerman or Pollepel Island) the part of the island that was visible to the mundane world of the Unwary (us.)

I spent hours on the internet looking at photos of all sorts of places—forests, buildings—that I loved. Then I put those photos together to create the island and the school. So Roanoke Island has many things I think are beautiful, paper birch forests, boardwalks by a river, Oriental gardens.

Then I needed to design the school itself. I noted that there were series where the magic school is like a British boarding school and series where the school is like an American boarding school. I wanted something different. So I decided to model Roanoke Academy for the Sorcerous Arts after the college I attended. St. John’s College in Annapolis, Maryland is quite different from most other colleges. Students sit around one large table. They have core groups, other students who are in all your classes. They have tutors instead of professors. They have an unusual system of intramural sports—so strange that every time I put part of it in the book, my editor tags it as too extraordinary to be believable.

I took my experience at St. John’s and spun it into the world of the Hudson Highlands, creating a marvelous place that is delightful to write about and, God willing, a joy for the reader, too.

(7) PULLING CABLE. FirstShowing.net introduces the trailer for “Intriguing Gig Economy Quantum Sci-Fi Film ‘Lapsis’”.

… Struggling to support himself and his ailing younger brother, delivery man Ray takes a strange job as a “cabler” in a strange new realm of the gig economy. This film is set in an alternate reality where the quantum computing revolution has begun, but they need to hire people to connect the cables for miles between huge magnetic cubes. 

(8) BOLLING OBIT. Pianist, composer, and bandleader Claude Bolling died December 29. The Guardian’s tribute notes —

…He wrote music for over one hundred films …  such as The Hands of Orlac (1960), … The Passengers (1977) [released in the US as The Intruder, based on Dean Koontz’s 1973 novel Shattered], The Awakening, a 1980 British horror film [third film version of Bram Stoker’s 1903 novel The Jewel of Seven Stars]. Bolling also composed the music for the Lucky Luke animated features Daisy Town (1971) and La Ballade des Dalton (1978).

(9) DOMINGUEZ OBIT. “Disney Legend” Ron Dominguez died January 1 at 85.

In 1957, Dominguez became the assistant supervisor of Frontierland, moving up to the manager of Tomorrowland in 1962. He became the manager of the west side of Disneyland and in 1974, was named vice president of Disneyland and chairman of the park operating committee.

In 1990, Dominguez became Executive Vice President Walt Disney Attractions, West Coast.

(10) VOYAGER DOCUMENTARY ASKS FOR FUNDS. Comicbook.com gives fans a head’s up: “Star Trek: Voyager Documentary Announces Crowdfunding Campaign”.

The upcoming Star Trek: Voyager documentary is ready to begin crowdfunding. The new documentary would have commemorated Voyager‘s 25th anniversary in 2020, but the coronavirus dashed most of those celebration plans. David Zappone of 455 Studios, the production company behind previous Star Trek documentaries like For the Love of SpockChaos on the Bridge, and What We Left Behind, confirmed that filming for the documentary resumed in August. Now it seems the production has reached the point where it’s ready to raise funds from fans. As Voyager star Garrett Wang (Ensign Harry Kim) explains in the announcement video below, fans will be able to donate to the campaign and pre-order the documentary beginning on March 1st.

Click to see the “Special Announcement From Garrett Wang”.

(11) TODAY’S DAY.

(12) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

  • January 2, 1978 Blake’s 7 premiered on BBC. It was created by Terry Nation of Doctor Who fame, who also wrote the first series, and produced by David Maloney (series 1–3) and Vere Lorrimer (series 4), with  the script editor throughout its run being Chris Boucher. Terry has said Star Trek was one of his main inspirations. It would would run for a total of fifty-two episodes. Principal cast was Gareth Thomas, Michael Keating, Sally Knyvette, Paul Darrow and David Jackson. Critics at the times were decidedly mixed with their reaction which is not true of audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes who give an amazing ninety one percent rating! 

(13) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]

  • Born January 2, 1814 – Luise Mühlbach.  A score of historical-fiction novels; you can read Old Fritz and the New Era here (Fritz is a nickname for Friedrich; she means Frederick II of Prussia); it has fantastic elements.  She says “To investigate and explain … is the task of historical romance….  poesy… illuminated by historic truth….  Show me from history that it could not be so; that it is not in accordance with the character of the persons represented … then have I … presented only a caricature, faulty as a work of art.”  (Died 1873) [JH]
  • Born January 2, 1871 – Nora Hopper.  Journalist and poet in the 1890s Irish literary movement; Yeats said her Ballads in Prose “haunted me as few books have ever haunted me, for it spoke in strange wayward stories and birdlike little verses of things and persons I remember or had dreamed of.”  There’s a 2017 Trieste reprint.  (Died 1906) [JH]
  • Born January 2, 1920 Isaac Asimov. I can’t possibly summarize him here so I won’t. My favorite novels by him are the original Foundation novels followed very closely by his Galactic Empire series and I, Robot. I know I’ve read a lot of his short fiction but I’ll be damn if I can recall any of it specifically right now. And I can’t possibly list all his Hugos here. (Died 1992.)  (CE) 
  • Born January 2, 1932 – Minagawa Hiroko, age 92.  (Personal name last, Japanese style.)  Three of her stories are in English, two in Speculative Japan 3-4.  Shibata Prize.  More famous for detective fiction; Honkaku Award for The Resurrection Fireplace (in Japanese Hirakasete itadaki kôei desu, roughly “I am honored to open it”), set in 18th Century London; Mystery Writers of Japan Award, Japan Mystery Literature Award for lifetime achievement.  [JH]
  • Born January 2, 1948 Deborah Watling. Best known for her role as Victoria Waterfield, a companion of the Second Doctor. She was also in Downtime, playing the same character, a one-off sequel to a sequel to the Second Doctor stories, The Abominable Snowmen and The Web of Fear. No Doctors were to be seen. If you’ve seen the English language dubbed version of Viaje al centro de la Tierra (Where Time Began, based off Verne’s Journey to the Center of The Earth), she’s doing the lines of Ivonne Sentis as Glauben. (Died 2017.) (CE) 
  • Born January 2, 1954 – Ertugrul Edirne, age 67.  Twoscore covers in German SF.  Here is Galactic Trade.  Here is On the Great River.  Here is Kushiel’s Dart (German title In den Händen der Feinde, “In the Hands of the Enemy”).  Here is Not From This World.  [JH]
  • Born January 2, 1959 – Patrick Nielsen Hayden, age 62.  Long-time fan, also guitarist (lead guitar in Whisperado).  TAFF (Trans-Atlantic Fan Fund) delegate with wife Teresa Nielsen Hayden, both wrote “TAFF in Thirteen Paragraphs”, fanzines e.g. IzzardTelos, Fan Guests of Honor at MidAmeriCon II the 74th Worldcon where at Closing Ceremonies PNH said “I can’t count the conversations I’ve had with total strangers”, see my con report (at the end, with a poem for each).  Meanwhile also active as a pro; now VP, Assoc. Publisher, and Editor-in-Chief at Tor.  [JH]
  • Born January 2, 1967 Tia Carrere, 54. Best remembered for her three season run as Sydney Fox, rogue archaeologist on Relic Hunter. She’s been in a number of one-offs on genre series including Quantum LeapHerculesTales from The Crypt, AirwolfFriday the 13th and played Agent Katie Logan for two episodes on Warehouse 13. (CE) 
  • Born January 2, 1971 Renée Elise Goldsberry, 50. Best known for appearing on Altered Carbon as Quellcrist Falconer. She also performed the Johnny Cash song “Ain’t No Grave” for the end credits in the final episode of that series. Genre wise, she’s had one-offs on EnterpriseLife on MarsEvil and voice work on DreamWorks Dragons: Rescue Riders, an all too cute series.  She was Selena Izard in The House with a Clock in Its Walls. And she appeared on Broadway in The Lion King as Nala.   (CE) 
  • Born January 2, 1979 Tobias S. Buckell, 42. I read and enjoyed a lot his Xenowealth series which he managed to wrap up rather nicely. The collection he edited, The Stories We Tell: Bermuda Anthology of Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror, is well worth reading, as is his own Tides from a New World collection. And his Tangled Lands collection which won the World Fantasy Award is amazing reading as well. (CE) 
  • Born January 2, 1982 – Aníbal J. Rosario Planas, age 39.  (In this Hispanic style two surnames are given, the father’s Rosario then the mother’s Planas.)  Drummer and author.  Here are a photo, a 150-word teaser from his story Pólvora y vapor (“powder and steam”; in Spanish), and links to his talk (in Spanish and English) about Steampunk Writers Around the World.  [JH]
  • Born January 2, 1983 Kate Bosworth, 38. She’s Barbara Barga in the SS-GB series done off the superb Len Deighton novel  which is definitely genre. She’s both a producer and a performer on The I-Land series where she’s KC, a decidedly not nice person. For a much more positive character, she portrayed Lois Lane in Superman Returns. (CE) 

(14) COMICS SECTION.

(15) GONE BUT NOT FORGOTTEN. In the Washington Post, Michael Cavna notes that Calvin and Hobbes’s last strip was on December 31, 1995, which gives him a chance to praise Bill Watterson and explain why his strip is timeless comedy.  In a sidebar, Cavna notes two other important comic strips ended in 1995:  Gary Larson’s “The Far Side” and Berkeley Breathed’s “Bloom County” spinoff “Outland.”  But he notes that Bill Watterson praised Richard Thompson’s “Cul de Sac” as showing that “the launch of great comics was still possible” and interviews Breathed, who revived “Bloom County” as an online venture in 2015. “’Calvin and Hobbes’ said goodbye 25 years ago. Here’s why Bill Watterson’s masterwork enchants us still.”

…Stephan Pastis, creator of “Pearls Before Swine,” views Calvin as an expression of pure childlike id, yet thinks there is a whole other dynamic that makes many of Calvin’s acts of imagination so appealing.

Watterson “accurately captured how put-upon you feel as a kid — how limited you are by your parents, by your babysitter, by [schoolteacher] Miss Wormwood. You’re really boxed in and all you have is individual expression,” says Pastis, who collaborated with the “Calvin and Hobbes” creator on a week of “Pearls” strips in 2014, marking Watterson’s only public return to the comics page since 1995.

“I think that’s why to this day, some people get [Calvin] tattooed on their bodies,” Pastis continues. “He stands for that rebellious spirit in the fact of a world that kind of holds you down. You get into adulthood, you get held down by your various responsibilities. Calvin rebels against that, therefore he always remains a hero.”

(16) FOR POETS. The Science Fiction & Fantasy Poetry Association (SFPA) is taking nominations from members for two 2021 awards.

  • Rhysling Award Nominations: The 2021 Rhysling Chair is Alessandro Manzetti. Nominations are open until February 15 for the Rhysling Awards for the best poems published in 2020. Only SFPA members may nominate one short poem and/or one long poem for the award. Poets may not nominate their own work. All genres of speculative poetry are eligible. Short poems must be under 50 lines (no more than 500 words for prose poems); Long poems are 50+ lines, not including title or stanza breaks, and first published in 2020; include publication and issue, or press if from a book or anthology. Online nomination form here. Or nominate by mail to SFPA secretary: Brian Garrison, SFPA, PO Box 1563, Alameda CA 94501, USA.
  • Elgin Award Nominations: The 2021 Elgin Chair is Jordan Hirsch. Nominations due by May 15; more info will come by MailChimp. Send title, author, and publisher of speculative Star*Line 8 Winter 2021 poetry books and chapbooks published in 2019 or 2020 to [email protected] or by mail to the SFPA secretary: Brian Garrison, SFPA, PO Box 1563, Alameda CA 94501, USA. Only SFPA members may nominate; there is no limit to nominations, but you may not nominate your own work.

(17) OFF THE MARKET. Such is the draw of iconic movie locations. The LA Times explains the attraction of “Jim Brandon’s South Pasadena home”.

Jim Brandon better get used to unexpected visitors. The writer-producer, whose credits include “Arrested Development” and “Mixed-ish,” just paid about $2.2 million for a South Pasadena home with a special place in “Back to the Future” lore.

The 1985 hit doubles as a tour of L.A. County in many ways, with landmarks such as Griffith Park and the Gamble House popping up throughout the film. Another pivotal scene is set in Brandon’s new yard, where Marty McFly stumbles upon his father being a peeping Tom in the tree out front.

According to the home’s previous owner, filmmaker John McDonald, fans of the movie regularly make the trek to South Pasadena to pay homage — and climb up the now-famous tree to re-create the scene….

(18) MEMORY LANE.

In 1953, the International Fantasy Award was given to Clifford M. Simak for City, his first Award. This collection is sometimes presented as a novel which it is decidedly not as it is a fix-up of the stories “City”, “Huddling Place”, “Census”, “Paradise”, “Hobbies”, “Aesop” and “Trouble with Ants …”. The other nominations were Takeoff by C. M. Kornbluth and Player Piano by Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.  A  Retro Hugo Award at CoNZealand in 2020 would be awarded to it as well. 

(19) NOTHING HAPPENING HERE, MOVE ALONG. In December someone pointed out that John C. Wright’s website was displaying an “Account Suspended” sign. My social media searches found no protests or grievances about this – or even that anyone else was aware of it. Wright subsequently explained the cause in “Account Not Suspended”.

My loyal webgoblin called the hosting company and reports that they said that the server was migrated this morning and that various changes are still propagating through their system. The “account suspended” message was a default one. The hosting company confirmed that there’s nothing wrong with the account and that the site hasn’t been pulled offline due to excessive bandwidth or any sort of legal action

(20) EXPANDING UNIVERSE. More Star Wars properties are on the way.

Star Wars: The Bad Batch is an all-new animated series from Lucasfilm Animation coming soon to Disney+.

In another new Disney+ series, Star Wars: Andor, Diego Luna will reprise his role as Cassian Andor.

(21) FUTURE FORSEEN. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] “What Will Future Homes Look Like?  Filmed In the 1960s” on YouTube is an episode of the CBS News show 21st Century (which ran between 1967-70) called “At Home, 2001” narrated by Walter Cronkite, which tried to predict from the viewpoint of 1967 what homes in the 21st century would look like.  Among the predictions:  3-D televisions twice as large as the largest current flat screen, plastic plates that would be molded for each use and then put into a vat to be printed again for the next use, and dinners that were programmed and cooked via computer.  The show also saw that computers at home could teach kids and enable people to work at home, and there’s a prediction of something like cable TV.  What they got wrong:  there is no internet or YouTube.

[Thanks to Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, John King Tarpinian, Cat Eldridge, JJ, Michael Toman, John Hertz, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Sam. And that came from Sam’s first-ever comment here!]

Pixel Scroll 2/19/16 The Fifth Editor

(1) LONGEST EVER 1-HOUR EPISODE. A Kickstarter is raising $15,000 to produce “A Skyboat Audiobook of Harlan Ellison’s Star Trek Teleplay”.

On the occasion of the 50th Anniversary of the launching of Star Trek – the Original Series, we want to make the FIRST-TIME-EVER, 6-hour AUDIOBOOK, full-cast version of Harlan Ellison’s book THE CITY ON THE EDGE OF FOREVER.

To clarify, this book contains Harlan Ellison’s original teleplay; NOT the one eventually filmed. This is the episode which won the Writers’ Guild Award for best dramatic hour-long script. The filmed teleplay also won Harlan a Hugo Award. The book also contains Harlan’s Essay on the controversy backstory, and several tributes from his colleagues.

Roles will be voiced by LeVar Burton, John Rubinstein (a Tony Award winner, as Captain Kirk), Scott Brick, Jean Smart (Emmy Award winner as Edith Keeler), Harlan Ellison, Stefan Rudnicki, J. Paul Boehmer, Richard McGonagle, David Gerrold, D.C. Fontana, Richard Gilliland, Jim Meskimen, Orson Scott Card, and Robert Forster.

In addition, Harlan Ellison has narrated his essay describing the before, during, and after of the controversy surrounding the episode, which has been voted as the most beloved episode of the Star Trek® series. It also includes:

  • Harlan’s rewrite of the Prologue and Act One to eliminate the controversial “Jewels of Sound” drug-dealing elements that the censors and powers-that-were objected to at the time,
  • plus two screenplay treatments written by Harlan,
  • and tribute essays from authors and colleagues who-were-there.

Gabrielle de Cuir also has an article on the Kickstarter page detailing the many differences between Ellison’s original script and the aired episode which include —

The original opening sequences contain the “Jewels of Sound” subplot that was so controversial at the time, and eventually was eradicated from the teleplay altogether. We have several characters in this version that did not appear in the final: the villains Beckwith and LeBeque, the iconic Trooper (the Verdun veteran) and a delightfully surly Cook.

(2) CLAGS WORKSHOP. CLAGS: Center for LGBTQ Studies in New York City will host “Sci-Fi Alien(ation): Diversity Under Attack, Racism, Homophobia, & Sexism at Hugo Awards & Beyond” on April 8, 2016.

A panel discussion of scholars and science fiction authors including André Carrington, Jennifer Marie Brissett, Craig Laurance Gidney dissect racism, homophobia, and sexism in the world of sci-fi publishing and fandom in general, and the highly-publicized hate campaign at the 2015 Hugo Awards.  A group calling itself the “Sad Puppies” gamed the voting system to assure that most award nominees were white, male, and straight, voicing public statements about gay, black, and women’s themes and authors ruining the genre.  Many non-white, queer, and women authors have received rape threats and death threats in association with this campaign.  This episode mirrors “gamer-gate,” where similar rape and death threats against women in the video game industry who have complained about sexism.

In contrast to GamerGate, which had all of the following things, during last year’s Hugo controversy I did not hear about: people fleeing their homes in response to threats, calling the police for protection (Crazy Uncle Lou, though, did try to get the police to screw Sasquan), filing for restraining orders, and being stalked at con panels by hostile bloggers. The things that happened were bad enough – and some Puppies assuredly tried to interest GamerGaters in getting involved. Hopefully the actual workshop will stick to valid parallels between the two controversies.

(3) BUILDING A RABBIT HOLE. Publishers Weekly tells why the owners of Kansas City’s The Reading Reptile are leaving that business in “Kansas City Booksellers Launching ‘World’s First Explorastorium”.

Kansas City booksellers Pete Cowdin and Deb Pettid, who have owned The Reading Reptile for more than 25 years, intend to close the bookstore Pettid founded in 1988 by the end of March so that they can develop “the world’s first explorastorium,” a project that they have been conceptualizing for the past year. The proposed museum, modeled upon San Francisco’s Exploratorium and St. Louis’s City Museum, and called The Rabbit Hole in homage to Alice in Wonderland, will allow visitors to physically immerse themselves in the narratives of beloved children’s books through interactive exhibits and galleries. There will also be regularly scheduled presentations and workshops led by touring authors and illustrators to complement the full-scale 3-D installations, which will change every three or four months.

explo COMP

The mission of The Rabbit Hole, which is being set up as a nonprofit, is to “create new readers on an unprecedented scale” in a world where “only around 50% of parents read aloud to their kids on a regular basis.”

A prototype of one component of The Rabbit Hole has been installed in a temporary leased space in Kansas City’s Crossroads neighborhood. The prototype is a full-scale, walk-through exhibit bringing to life The Incredible Painting of Felix Clousseau by Jon Agee, who has assisted the Rabbit Hole team in creating it. The grand opening of this Rabbit Hole prototype will be held on April 9.

(4) THOSE BRONZE AGE SOPHISTICATES. Photos and a videos accompany the BBC article “Bronze Age wheel at ‘British Pompeii’ Must Farm an ‘unprecedented find’”.

“The existence of this wheel expands our understanding of Late Bronze Age technology, and the level of sophistication of the lives of people living on the edge of the Fens 3,000 years ago.”

(5) THE ICELAND CON COMETH. Fans in Iceland have plans to launch a new convention this year.

Icecon 2016 is a science fiction and fantasy fan convention that will be held in the heart of Reykjavík, Iceland, this fall. On the 28th to the 30th of October, Iðnó theatre ( idno.is) will be filled with the fantastic.

There will be panels, readings, a Halloween masquerade and other events.

Information on registration, membership fee, guests of honour, program and accommodation coming soon. All information will be posted on this event-page and a forthcoming homepage. Any interested parties can also email us at icecon2016(at) gmail.com

Icecon 2016 is supported by Reykjavik UNESCO City of Literature ( bokmenntaborgin.is/en/)

(6) DREAM DESTINATIONS. I mentioned the NASA space travel posters before, however, this particular webpage displays the entire collection as large thumbnails, and also has a link to the JPL store if you want to order a literal printed poster.

(7) UNDERGROUND REVOLUTION. The Society of Illustrators in New York City will exhibit “The ZAP Show: A Cultural Revolution” from March 2-May 7 on the main floor.

No one could have known that when struggling illustrator R. Crumb self-published Zap Comix #1 in 1968 and began hawking copies in San Francisco’s Haight-Ashbury district, history would be made. By the arrival of issue #4 (1969) and Crumb’s Zap collective (S. Clay Wilson, Victor Moscoso, Rick Griffiin, Gilbert Shelton, Robert Williams, and Spain Rodriguez) fully formed, the artists had broken every Comics Code taboo imaginable — and then some. Zap spawned an entire underground comix industry, establishing an adult market for the comics medium that, in turn, set new standards for creators’ rights and ownership that one day would liberate mainstream comic books from the tyrannical grip of corporate publishers, paving the way for literary work by the likes of Art Spiegelman, Lynda Barry, Chris Ware, and Daniel Clowes, among others.

(8) MEYEROWITZ ART DISPLAY. About the same time, the Society of Illustrators will exhibit on the third floor “Rick Meyerowitz in the National Lampoon” from March 1-April 23.

mona%20gorilla

Rick Meyerowitz was a prolific contributor of both artwork and written pieces for National Lampoon from its first issue in 1970 until close to its last in 1991. He collaborated with many of the magazine’s writers on an astonishing variety of topics and themes. Among his most notable works were the “Mona Gorilla” (Mona Lisa as a gorilla); “DODOSAURS: The Dinosaurs That  Didn’t Make It” (which he and Henry Beard turned into a 1983 book); the widely recognized poster for the movie Animal House; and most recently, “DRUNK STONED BRILLIANT DEAD: The Writers and Artists Who Made The National Lampoon Insanely Great,” published by Abrams as a coffee table size visual history of the Lampoon. A documentary film of the same name was released last year.

(9) NURTURING TALENT. Gregory N. Hullender says Rocket Stack Rank “has a new article comparing the Campbell-eligible writers with the stories we reviewed in 2015 with an eye towards figuring out which editors were the most supporting of new writers in 2015” – “Nurturing New SF Short-Fiction Talent in 2015”.

(10) PLAQUE FOR TONI WEISSKOPF. The National Fantasy Fan Federation has circulated a picture of Toni Weisskopf’s Neffy Award.

(11) HARPER LEE OBIT. Harper Lee, author of To Kill A Mockingbird, died February 19 at the age of 89.

“This is a sad day for our family. America and the world knew Harper Lee as one of the last century’s most beloved authors,” Hank Conner, Lee’s nephew and a spokesman for the family, said in a statement Friday morning.

“We knew her as Nelle Harper Lee, a loving member of our family, a devoted friend to the many good people who touched her life, and a generous soul in our community and our state. We will miss her dearly.”

Conner’s statement indicated that “Ms. Lee passed away in her sleep early this morning. Her passing was unexpected. She remained in good basic health until her passing.”

(12) A REALLY BIG SANDBOX. The B&N Sci-Fi & Fantasy Blog knows “How One Mashup Artist Got Legal Permission to Pair Calvin & Hobbes with Dune”.

Calvin & Muad’Dib picked up international attention after a shout-out from io9 in September of 2014, and this attention led to an immediate DMC takedown. But unlike most bloggers, Joe lawyered up.

“I did this because it was clear that I wasn’t profiting in any way from Calvin and Hobbes,” Joe says. “There were no advertisements on my blog, nor did I sell or intend to sell any merchandise or even ask for donations. I felt I had a solid ground to defend myself, and I also happen to believe that most DMCA takedowns are inherently unjust due to the ‘guilty until proven innocent’ nature of DMCA.”

Joe entered into talks with the lawyers of Calvin & Hobbes’ publisher. Though he never spoke directly to Watterson, he did succeed in his goal: Calvin & Muad’Dib went back up six months later, in February of 2014.

“We worked out a licensing deal where I could continue to make comics in the way I intended, and the Calvin & Hobbes lawyers could be ensured that abuse of Bill Watterson’s original works would not occur,” Joe says of the discussion. Every comic on his site now comes with a reminder that the mash-up is legit: “Calvin and Hobbes: © and ™ Bill Watterson, used with permission.”

fear is the mindkiller COMP

(15) TWENTIETH CENTURY FANAC. At Amazing Stories, R. Graeme Cameron opens his time capsule: the script of his 1989 talk about fanzines to the Vancouver Public Library.

There exist people who have never earned a penny writing, yet have published thousands, tens of thousands, even hundreds of thousands of words. They belong to FANDOM. Fandom is something more than merely fans of Science Fiction in its various forms: books, magazines, movies, comic books, etc. Fandom is a mode of behaviour, of attitude, an approach to organized appreciation of Science Fiction which is universal among fans, so that fans as far apart as America and Soviet Russia have enough in common as to establish an immediate rapport should they meet.

People writing for no money! That’ll never catch on… And look who’s one of the people doing it –

FILE 770 is quite a renowned perzine. Mike Glyer has been producing it for a longtime. This is the 77th issue. It’s a kind of NEWSZINE really, reporting on conventions, writers, fan activities, fan feuds, and other fanzines. But it is a one-man operation, so I classify it as a perzine.

(14) ROAD WARRIOR. Someday soon Larry Correia will live at the end of Yard Moose Mountain Road. First he has to build the road. The mountain came built-in….

When we built our current house it was all open fields around us. There were houses near, but we had a little room to breathe. I’m a country boy at heart. I don’t like people all up in my business. We even had a moose come and live in our yard. That’s why we started calling it Yard Moose Mountain. He just kind of camped out under my son’s bedroom window, then he’d wander out and eat our neighbor’s trees, but he never messed with my trees. Good moose.

It was really nice.

Over the last five years our area slowly filled in, until one day I woke up, and realized that rather than living in the country anymore, we were living in a small neighborhood. Sure, it was a nice commuter neighborhood (I’ve got 12 doctors in my ward, no joke) and the people are about as nice as you could possibly ask for, but it was still a neighborhood.  We landscaped and put in a fence for privacy, but it has lost its charm. Add to that, I’d retired from my finance manager job a few years ago to just be a full time author, so I no longer needed to be close enough to the city to commute.

Being a failed D List nobody hack pulp writer with an irreparably damaged career who will never be a *real* author and who can’t even manage to get measly five hundred people to a book signing, my income had still somehow gone up dramatically, but we’d not really changed our standard of living (well, except for more guns and minis, but those don’t count). Plus, because I have a pathological hatred of debt I had been making lots of extra house payments, to the point that I’d knocked 27 years worth of our 30 year mortgage payments out in 5. Because screw debt.

So last year we decided we wanted to move, and this time we were going to move someplace where we’d never have to move again….

(15) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • February 19, 1985 – The movie Brazil premieres in France, 10 months before opening in the USA.

(16) YOUR SCIENCE QUOTE OF THE DAY. From CNN: “Hubble image: Dormant black hole, in a word, is gargantuan”.

“Black holes don’t suck,” van der Marel said. “That’s a common misconception. Material that happens to be moving in the direction of the black hole falls in because gas has friction that gets eaten [by the black hole]. Once the black hole has eaten all the gas there it can just move on and it will be dormant until it gets another dose of material that it can consume.”

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Addressee Unknown .]