Pixel Scroll 11/3/21 The Pixel: No Different File

(1) OSFCI ANNOUNCEMENT. OryCon, the annual Portland, OR convention, is returning from a year away due to the pandemic.  However, after this year’s event is held on November 12-14, the con will be going on another hiatus for an indefinite period. Thread starts here.

(2) DISCON III PRESSER. Video of yesterday’s DisCon III media briefing with chair Mary Robinette Kowal and vice-chairs Marguerite Smith and Lauren Raye Snow has been posted to Facebook.com.  

(3) AN AMERICAN ORIGINAL. “America’s first vampire was Black and revolutionary – it’s time to remember him” urges The Conversation’s Sam George.

In April of 1819, a London periodical, the New Monthly Magazine, published The Vampyre: A Tale by Lord Byron. Notice of its publication quickly appeared in papers in the United States.

Byron was at the time enjoying remarkable popularity and this new tale, supposedly by the famous poet, caused a sensation as did its reprintings in Boston’s Atheneum (15 June) and Baltimore’s Robinson’s Magazine (26 June).

The Vampyre did away with the East European peasant vampire of old. It took this monster out of the forests, gave him an aristocratic lineage and placed him into the drawing rooms of Romantic-era England. It was the first sustained fictional treatment of the vampire and completely recast the folklore and mythology on which it drew.

By July, Byron’s denial of authorship was being reported and by August the true author was discovered, John Polidori.

In the meantime, an American response, The Black Vampyre: A Legend of St. Domingo, by one Uriah Derick D’Arcy, appeared. D’Arcy explicitly parodies The Vampyre and even suggests that Lord Ruthven, Polidori’s British vampire aristocrat, had his origins in the Carribean. A later reprinting in 1845 attributed The Black Vampyre to a Robert C Sands; however, many believe the author was more likely a Richard Varick Dey (1801–1837), a near anagram of the named author.

What is so remarkable about this story is that it is an anti-slavery narrative from the early 1800s which also contains America’s first vampire who is Black…. 

(4) CORA’S NEW FANCAST Q&A. Cora Buhlert has another Fancast Spotlight up today since the replies seem to be coming in all at once. The latest is a Foundation podcast called Seldon Crisis“Fancast Spotlight: Seldon Crisis.

Why did you decide to start your podcast or channel?

I read the full Foundation series for the first time last summer during lockdown. I had read the trilogy in my youth but had forgotten most of it and it was pure joy to re-read it. I had that common feeling after reading a great work of literature of wanting to share it with others, and decided the easiest way to share it with the world was in podcast form. I had no knowledge of the AppleTV series until after I’d written the first several scripts.

(5) ANATHEMA’S FUNDING APPEAL. Anathema: Spec From the Margins, a semiprozine featuring SFF by people from marginalized backgrounds, is looking for funding for its year six: Anathema: Spec from the Margins Year Six” at Indiegogo.

Anathema is an Ignyte Award-nominated online tri-annual magazine of speculative fiction (SF/F/H, the weird, slipstream, fabulism, and more). We exclusively publish the work of people of colour (POC)/Indigenous/Aboriginal creators on every range of the LGBTQIA spectrum….

…We’ve had the chance to be a home to stories that have a hard time getting picked up elsewhere – some for being too unusual, others too nakedly queer, others just not fitting the expected mold a primarily white publishing establishment wants from QBIPOC creators. Anathema, by intent, occupies a radical socialist queer space in the larger genre conversation. And in so doing we walk in the footsteps of giants, our own path fleeting and hope that the work we do can leave some lasting mark. But that takes funds. And we are not yet a self-sustaining entity. We earn some revenue through our website store, but most of our operating funds come from informal subscription drives and more formalized fundraising campaigns like this one….

(6) S&S KICKSTARTER. Tales from the Magician’s Skull, a magazine publishing good modern sword and sorcery, is also running a Kickstarter for its next issues. They have already passed their goal, Cora Buhlert calls them “A good magazine that deserves to be better known” — “More Tales From The Magician’s Skull by Goodman Games” at Kickstarter. No wonder they’re raking in the money – look at this special incentive if you pledge at the highest level.

(7) ORIGINAL EQUIPMENT. “A Beloved William Shatner Star Trek Prop Is Selling For Half A Million Dollars”GiantFreakinRobot has the story. (Click for larger image.)

In the vast world of Star Trek lore, there are plenty of iconic pieces to collect. From communicators and uniforms, phasers and tribbles, and even blaster rifles, the Star Trek fandom puts significant meaning to collectible items, some of which can be difficult to come by. Now, eager Trekkie collectors can gush over the recently announced auction of the one-of-a-kind phaser used by Captain James T. Kirk in his pilot episode. The rifle is being sold by a private collector with Heritage Auctions in Dallas, Texas; and it can be yours for just half a million dollars (no energy credits accepted).

The phaser rifle made its Star Trek appearance during the original series second pilot episode, Where No Man Has Gone Before…. 

Get your bid down on this item here at Heritage Auctions.

(8) A FACE TO MEET THE FACES. For this installment of Building Beyond, “Mask On, Mask Off”, the premise is: “Over the course of every person’s life, they grow a mask.”

Sarah Gailey is joined by Greg Kasavin and Nome to develop worlds around this idea.

(9) MEMORY LANE.

1976 – Forty-five years ago, one of the better pieces of horror got released in Carrie. It was based on the Stephen King novel of the same name, and it was directed by Brian de Palma being his first hit. Lawrence D. Cohen wrote this screenplay as he would the third version thirty seven years later. It had a stellar cast of Sissy Spacek, Amy Irving, William Katt, Nancy Allen. and John Travolta. 

Like most horror films of the time and particularly King films, it had a truly minuscule budget of under two million dollars which is why it was a box office success when it made just thirty four million. 

So what did the critics think of it? One and all they loved it madly with Roger Ebert saying that it was an “absolutely spellbinding horror movie” and Pauline Kael calling it the “best scary-funny movie since Jaws”. 

Audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes give it a rather scary seventy-seven percent rating. As I noted above, there are three more films made off the novel, one in 2002 and one in 2013. Neither, not surprisingly to me, fares particularly well at Rotten Tomatoes. 

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born November 3, 1929 Neal Barrett, Jr. He was nominated for a Hugo at Noreascon 3 for his “Ginny Sweethips’ Flying Circus” short story. He was Toastmaster at LoneStarCon 2.  He was prolific writing over two dozen novels and some fifty pieces of short fiction including a novelization of the first Dredd film. As good as much of his genre work was, I think his finest, best over the top work was the Wiley Moss series which led off with Pink Vodka Blues. He’s generously available at usual suspects. (Died 2015.)
  • Born November 3, 1933 Jeremy Brett. Still my favorite Holmes of all time. He played him in four Granada TV series from 1984 to 1994 in a total of 41 episodes. One source said he was cast as Bond at one point, but turned the part down, feeling that playing 007 would harm his career. Lazenby was cast instead. (Died 1995.)
  • Born November 3, 1942 Martin Cruz Smith, 79. Best remembered for Gorky Park, the Russian political thriller, but he’s also done a number of  genre novels in The Indians Won (alternate history), Gypsy in Amber and Canto for a Gypsy (PI with psychic powers) and two wonderful pulpish novels, The Inca Death Squad and Code Name: Werewolf
  • Born November 3, 1952 Eileen Wilks, 69. Her principal genre series is the World of Lupi, a FBI procedural intertwined with shapeshifters, dragons and the multiverse. Highly entertaining, sometimes considered romance novels though I don’t consider them so. The audiobooks are amazing as well! 
  • Born November 3, 1953 Kate Capshaw, 68. Best known as Willie Scott in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (which I’ll confess I’ve watched but a few times unlike the first film which I’ve watched way too much), and she was in Dreamscape as well. She retired from acting several decades ago.
  • Born November 3, 1960 Kevin Murphy, 61. American actor and writer best known as the voice and puppeteer of Tom Servo on the Mystery Science Theater 3000. He also does RiffTrax which are humorous audio commentary tracks intended to be played along with various television programs and films. 
  • Born November 3, 1963 Brian Henson, 58. Can we all agree that The Happytime Murders should never have been done? Thought so. Wash it out of your consciousness with Muppet Treasure Island or perhaps The Muppet Christmas Carol. Or Muppets from Space. If you want something darker, he was a puppeteer on The Witches, and the chief puppeteer on Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. And he voices Hoggle in Labyrinth.
  • Born November 3, 1977 Belén Fabra, 44. Here for her recurring role in the Spanish-language SF series El ministerio del tiempo (The Department Of Time). She also appeared as Captain Sanchez in Origin, a YouTube SF series that lasted but one season. 

(11) COMICS SECTION.

(12) ICON OF RACISM. Witness History’s episode “The enduring legend of Fu Manchu” is available for the coming year at BBC Sounds.

The evil criminal mastermind Fu Manchu was a recurring character in Hollywood films for decades. He epitomised racist stereotypes about China and the Chinese which shaped popular thinking in the West. Vincent Dowd has been talking to writer Sir Christopher Frayling and academic Amy Matthewson about his long-lasting influence.

(13) MOVE OVER PLUTO. Galactic Journey’s Jessica Holmes covers the latest (in 1966) episode of Doctor Who: “[November 2, 1966] An Ending? (Doctor Who: The Tenth Planet)”. Notice how in this future there is still a ninth planet!

EPISODE ONE

The Doctor arrives at the Antarctic base of International Space Command in the year 1986. The men inside (and yes, even in 1986 it seems rocket science is a bit of a boys’ club) take notice of the new arrivals, but there’s no time to worry about them. The latest launch has run into trouble, reporting the sudden appearance of a new planet in the sky. Worse still, their ship is losing power….

(14) THE FIFTY-EIGHTH VARIETY. “’Christmas dinner in a can’ promises answer to supermarket shortages” the Guardian reported, but since Heinz only made 500 cans of Christmas Dinner Big Soup this year it’s already sold out, so how was that supposed to work?

If you’re still amused by the idea, see the Heinz web page for the product, which also offered an optional gift box for it.

(15) LOWERING YOUR RESISTANCE. One of the major comic book websites takes readers on a tour of the Borg Cube Advent Calendar mentioned in a recent Scroll: “Star Trek: A Closer Look at the Borg Cube Advent Calendar From Hero Collector”.

Hero Collector sent ComicBook.com one of these advent calendars to take a closer and share our impressions of it with our readers.

We’ve taken a few photos of the product and opened up a few of the gifts to give you an idea of what is inside. Don’t worry. We only opened the first four, so we’re not putting out spoilers for anyone’s holiday fun. You can take a look at what we found in the photos included below….

(16) NEWS TO ME. I hadn’t previously heard of Philip K. Dick’s novel Humpty Dumpty In Oakland til I saw the first edition being offered by L.W. Currey.

Set in San Francisco in the late 1950s, Humpty Dumpty in Oakland is a tragicomedy of misunderstandings among used car dealers and real-estate salesmen: the small-time, struggling individuals for whom Philip K. Dick always reserved his greatest sympathy.

It is one of Dick’s realistic fiction novels, and was published posthumously. Many reviewers say they find the way he tells this story has a lot in common with his science fiction.

(17) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In “Honest Game Trailers: Metroid Dread is the latest version of a Nintendo character so ancient she has ’80s shoulder pads.  But don’t call the new game Metroidmania, the narrator warns, “or I will personally come to your house and slap you!”

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

Pixel Scroll 7/29/21 How Many Hugo Finalists Can Scroll On The Head Of A Pixel

(1) WHO’S NEXT? The Thirteenth Doctor and the showrunner will both be replaced reports Radio Times: “Jodie Whittaker and Chris Chibnall confirmed to leave Doctor Who”.

Jodie Whittaker and Chris Chibnall.

Both star and showrunner will bow out following a six-part series (set to air later in 2021), two specials (already planned for 2022), plus one final feature-length adventure for the Thirteenth Doctor which will also mark the BBC’s centenary next year.

In a statement, Chibnall said: “Jodie and I made a ‘three series and out’ pact with each other at the start of this once-in-a-lifetime blast. So now our shift is done, and we’re handing back the TARDIS keys.

“Jodie’s magnificent, iconic Doctor has exceeded all our high expectations. She’s been the gold standard leading actor, shouldering the responsibility of being the first female Doctor with style, strength, warmth, generosity and humour. She captured the public imagination and continues to inspire adoration around the world, as well as from everyone on the production. I can’t imagine working with a more inspiring Doctor – so I’m not going to!…”

Whittaker, who was cast as the first female incarnation of the Doctor in 2017, said: “In 2017 I opened my glorious gift box of size 13 shoes. I could not have guessed the brilliant adventures, worlds and wonders I was to see in them. My heart is so full of love for this show, for the team who make it, for the fans who watch it and for what it has brought to my life. And I cannot thank Chris enough for entrusting me with his incredible stories.

“We knew that we wanted to ride this wave side by side, and pass on the baton together. So here we are, weeks away from wrapping on the best job I have ever had. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to express what this role has given me. I will carry the Doctor and the lessons I’ve learnt forever.

“I know change can be scary and none of us know what’s out there. That’s why we keep looking. Travel Hopefully. The Universe will surprise you. Constantly.”

A RadioTimes.com poll last year voted Whittaker the show’s second most popular Doctor of all time, behind David Tennant’s Tenth Doctor.

It’s not obvious who the candidates are to take over as showrunner says Radio Times: “Doctor Who’s ‘new generation’ will be announced ‘in due course’”.

…Within the current stable of Who writers, only a handful (including Vinay Patel and Pete McTighe) have written more than one episode, and it’s unclear whether the BBC would look within the current writing staff or elsewhere to find someone to take on the often demanding showrunner job.

In other words, the speculation isn’t just for who could replace Jodie Whittaker any more. Who is the new Chris Chibnall? Taking all bets…

And there’s been an adjustment to the schedule of Doctor Who episodes and specials to accommodate the BBC’s 100th anniversary celebration next year: “Doctor Who series 13 will be six episodes long – with specials in 2022”.

The upcoming thirteenth series of Doctor Who will be six episodes long, the BBC has confirmed.

It was originally announced that there would be eight episodes in the season, but it has now been announced that the main series will consist of just half a dozen episodes, each of which will form part of an ongoing storyline.

In addition, a trilogy of specials will now air in 2022 – one more than had previously been planned, with the first airing on New Year’s Day 2022 and a second following later in spring 2022.

…The third feature-length special, in which the Thirteenth Doctor will regenerate, will then air in autumn 2022, forming part of the BBC’s Centenary celebrations.

(2) COVID POLICIES FOR TWO MEGACONS. PAX West, which is September 3-6 this year, is requiring proof of either vaccination or a negative COVID test for attendance this year — see “Health & Safety Update”.

Throughout the year, the PAX team has been actively working to support a safe environment for our PAX West visitors. We are pleased to announce that, in line with the recommendations of state and local public health authorities, we will be implementing a vaccination or negative COVID-19 test requirement for everyone at PAX West. We appreciate your patience as we worked with our venue and the authorities to create our comprehensive plan….

Dragon Con, which is the same weekend, has promised to set its policy at least 30 days before the con, which means it should be announced by next week.

…As the nation continues to emerge from the pandemic, the rules and expectations are changing fast. We are working closely with the public health officials at the Georgia Department of Public Health, the Fulton County Health Department and the experts hired by our hotels to establish a set of health and safety protocols. We don’t know at this point what these ground rules will look like by Labor Day, but we are committed to communicating them as soon as the plan is finalized and at least 30 days before the convention.

(3) WINDOW ON A CENTURY. Tanner Greer asks what we can learn from the popularity of YA in “Escaping Only So Far” in City Journal.

…Future social historians will not be able to consult an oral tradition of fairy tales in an investigation of the twenty-first century’s “mental ordering,” but they will have an equally vast catalog of fictional narratives at their disposal. For the most popular stories of our own day also tend toward the fantastic. Speculative fiction—fantasy, science fiction, and dystopian prophecies—has captured the imagination of twenty-first-century man. These flights of fancy are the cornerstone of our popular culture; their protagonists are our cultural heroes. They testify to the power of escapism.

Yet like the fairy tales of old, our escapist yarns can escape only so far. Their imagery and plotting are irrevocably tied to our society. Despite their diverse subgenres and distinct audiences, these fictional narratives share a set of attitudes and convictions about the nature of authority, power, and responsibility. They provide a window into the moral economy of the twenty-first century’s overmanaged meritocrats.

The rise of the young-adult novel is the most significant literary event of this century. The significance of the genre—often simply called “YA”—is best appreciated when juxtaposed with general trends in Anglophone reading. In an age that has seen both the average number of books read and the average number of hours spent reading steeply decline, YA readership has exploded, and not just among young adults. In 2012, one marketing firm discovered that slightly more than half of all American YA readers were older than 22. Just under one-third were somewhere between 30 and 44…. 

(4) ALMOST HAD A SHORT LIFE. Gizmodo reports the “Lord of the Rings Studio Wanted Peter Jackson to Kill a Hobbit”.

…Speaking to IGN about their new Lord of the Rings podcast series—called “Friendship Onion”—Dominic Monaghan and Billy Boyd (who played Merry and Pippin) touched upon a time when pressure from executives above the Lord of the Rings production team wanted to amplify the stakes of the series by killing off one of its four smallest stars. Apparently, the tall folk were off-limits, and the stakes of, say, a massive war between the forces of good and evil for the fate of all Middle-earth could only be raised if you found one of the cutest hobbits around and stabbed them to death or something.

“It’s a good job that didn’t happen, because it would have been me,” Monaghan joked to IGN. “It definitely would have. There’s no way they are killing Frodo and Sam, and the only ones that would be left would be Merry and Pippin. They wouldn’t kill Pippin because Pippin has a really strong story with Gandalf. It would have definitely been me.”

(5) HALFLING MYTHCON THIS WEEKEND. The virtual “Halfling” 2021 Mythopoeic Society conference takes place online July 31-August 1. They are offering a special “flat rate” conference membership of $20, whether or not you’re a member of the Mythopoeic Society. 

(6) WATCH THE 2021 NEBULA CEREMONY. SFWA has posted video of The 56th Annual Nebula Awards Ceremony held June 5. (The list of winners is here.)

June 5th, 2021 marked the 56th Annual Nebula Awards Ceremony! Writer and Comedian Aydrea Walden hosted for a second year, and the awards were presented by multiple notable figures in the science fiction and fantasy community!

(7) A HOLLOW VOICE SAYS PUGH. “Scarlett Johansson sues Disney for releasing ‘Black Widow’ in theaters and on Disney+” reports Yahoo! The decision impacted her paycheck.

Scarlett Johansson may have retired as the Avengers’s resident Black Widow and passed the torch to Florence Pugh, but it appears that the actress still has some unfinished business with Marvel Entertainment and its parent company, Walt Disney. As originally reported in the Wall Street Journal, the actress — who played Natasha Romanoff over a 10-year period from 2010’s Iron Man 2 to the Black Widow solo adventure that opened in July after a year-long delay — has filed a breach of contract lawsuit against her former employers.

At issue is the way that Disney ultimately chose to release the movie. Originally scheduled to open exclusively in theaters in May 2020, Black Widow was repeatedly delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic. Eventually, the studio made the decision to pursue a hybrid release, opening the massively-budgeted movie in multiplexes the same day it premiered on the Disney+ streaming as a Premier Access title. (Premier Access films are available to Disney+ subscribers for an extra $29.99 surchage.)

According to the lawsuit that Johansson filed on Thursday in Los Angeles Superior Court, that hybrid release plan breached her original contract with Marvel Entertainment and Disney, which reportedly guaranteed an exclusive theatrical release. Furthermore, her salary for the film would be based largely on how it performed at the box office…. 

(8) TOWARDS CHEAPER FREE SPEECH. At The Dream Foundry, Jean-Paul Garnier offers “Freeware Solutions for Building Your Podcasting Studio”.

Starting your first podcast can be daunting. Perusing microphones and equipment, while fun, can be disheartening as the cost quickly becomes prohibitive. But one need not get discouraged, as it is possible to get started with a very small (or no) budget. Many of the things you will need can be obtained for free and in this article we’ll show you where to find the tools you need. 

When it comes to microphones you can be looking at spending anywhere from 10s of dollars to 1000s, but the cell phone in your pocket already has a pretty decent mic built-in, and it’s good enough to get you started. Most cell phones will also have a built-in recording app, and there are plenty you can download for free. If using these go into the settings and make sure to set the sample rate and bit depth as high as possible.

Once you have made your recording it’s time to edit the recording into the beautiful finished product that will be your podcast. Fortunately from here on out everything you’ll be needing can be downloaded for free, and many of the tools we’ll be discussing are powerful and versatile…. 

(9) A NEBULOUS WINNER. As a byproduct of another author mourning how his name got misspelled in a recent award shortlist announcement I learned that Isaac Asimov famously suffered the same indignity – see the “Isaac Asimov FAQ” at Asimov Online.

Asimov hated it when his name was misspelled in print or mispronounced by others. His desire to have his name spelled correctly even resulted in a 1957 short story, “Spell my Name with an ‘s'”.

(Notable instances of his name being misspelled occurred on the cover of the November 1952 issue of Galaxy, which contained “The Martian Way”, and on his 1976 Nebula Award for “The Bicentennial Man”.)

When in 1940 he wrote a letter to Planet Stories, which printed it and spelled his name “Isaac Asenion”, he quickly fired off an angry letter to them. (His friend Lester Del Rey took great delight in referring to him as “Asenion” for many years afterward. On the other hand, Asimov himself referred to positronic robots with the Three Laws as “Asenion” robots in The Caves of Steel.)

Asimov was quite perturbed when Johnny Carson, host of the Tonight Show, pronounced his first name as I-ZAK, with equal emphasis on both syllables, during an appearance on the television show in New York in 1968.

(10) MEMORY LANE.

  • July 29, 1953 – Sixty-eight years on this date, War of The Worlds premiered in Atlantic City. It was produced by George Pal, and directed by Byron Haskin. It starred Gene Barry and Ann Robinson with narration by Sir Cedric Hardwicke. The Martian war machines were designed by Al Nozaki, and the sizzling sound effect would be used again as the first Trek series phaser sound. (You know what novel it was adapted from.) The film was both a critical and box office success with its earnings making it the top SF film of the year. Weirdly, it would win a Retro Hugo at Noreascon 4 for Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form due to its running time of 85 minutes (per IMDB). Audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes currently give it a seventy-one percent rating.

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born July 29, 1876 Maria Ouspenskaya. In the Forties, she did a run of pulp films, to wit The Wolf ManFrankenstein Meets the Wolf Man and Tarzan and the Amazons. A decade or so earlier, she was in the fantasy film Beyond Tomorrow. (Died 1949.)
  • Born July 29, 1888 Farnsworth Wright. Editor of Weird Tales. He regularly published Smith, Lovecraft and Howard, and even Hamilton. He’s also noteworthy for starting the commercial careers of three noteworthy fantasy artists — Bok, Brundage and Finlay. He’s been nominated for three Retro Hugos to date. (Died 1940.)
  • Born July 29, 1927 Jean E. Karl. She founded Atheneum Children’s Books, and she edited Ursula K Le Guin’s Earthsea sequence and Susan Cooper’s The Dark Is Rising sequence. As an author, she wrote three genre novels, Strange TomorrowBeloved Benjamin Is Waiting and But We Are Not of Earth, and a reasonable amount of short fiction, all of which is In the Clordian Sweep series. Nine of those stories are in The Turning Point collection. (Died 2000.)
  • Born July 29, 1941 David Warner, 80. Being Lysander in that A Midsummer Night’s Dream was his first genre role. I’m going to do just highlights after that as he’s got far too extensive a genre history to list everything. So he’s been A Most Delightful Evil in Time Bandits, Jack the Ripper in Time After Time, Ed Dillinger / Sark In Tron, Father in The Company of Wolves, Chancellor Gorkon in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, The Creature in Frankenstein, voice of Ra’s al Ghul on Batman: The Animated Series and Abraham Van Helsing on Penny Dreadful
  • Born July 29, 1955 Dave Stevens. American illustrator and comics artist. He created The Rocketeer comic book and film character. It’s worth noting that he assisted Russ Manning on the Star Wars newspaper strip and worked on the storyboards for Raiders of the Lost ArkThe Rocketeer film was nominated for a Hugo at MagiCon which was the year Terminator 2: Judgment Day won. (Died 2008.)
  • Born July 29, 1982 Dominic Burgess, 49. His first genre roles are sixteen years back as a cop in Batman Begins, and as Agorax in the Ninth Doctor story, “Bad Wolf”. A decade later, he gets his first recurring role as Ember in The Magicans. He’s had roles in Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.The LeftoversThe Good PlaceTeen WolfThe FlashSupernaturalAmerican Horror Story: Apocalypse and Picard.

(12) COMICS SECTION.

  • Half Full has one of Charlotte’s forgotten web messages.
  • Crankshaft has a garden so overflowing with zucchini it reminds somebody of a Star Trek reference.

(13) THIS IS HILARIOUS. I had never seen The Core (2003) before today when I flicked on Pluto TV in time to watch the scene where they land the Space Shuttle in the Los Angeles River (!!!) This was hilarious. The best thing since the Galaxy Quest landed in the convention center parking lot.

And it turns out there’s a whole oral history post of filmmakers telling how the scene was created – visual effects, models, water imagery, etc., in “’That will not work, Houston, we got bridges every few 100 yards’” at Befores & Afters. You can watch the scene here:

(14) BUSTED. In the latest Rite Gud podcast Raquel S. Benedict says “Genre Busting Makes Me Feel Good”.

Genre is safe. Genre is comfortable. Genre tells us, as readers, what to expect. As writers, genre gives us guidelines to follow, which can make it a lot easier to plan a story: put the villain monologue here, put the meet cute there, tragically kill the protagonist’s mentor in this part of the story. But do we rely on genre conventions too much? Can genre hold us back? Is genre busting good? In this episode of Rite Gud, we are joined by writer and designer Matt Maxwell.

(15) WELL… In “Playing Favorites With Favorites, or, What We Talk About When We Talk About Our Favorite Books” at Tor.com, Molly Templeton explores the complex experience of trying to answer an icebreaker question.

What’s your favorite book?

Maybe there are people for whom this isn’t a loaded question. I’m not sure I’ve met any of them. “Favorite” is a freeze-up word, a demand impossible to meet. Picking just one? Are you serious? But there are 17 books from just last year that are my favorites!

The thing about this question, though, is that it isn’t entirely about the answer. It’s also about what the answer seems to say—the shorthand inherent in talking about books, and who reads what, and what we get out of and return to in the ones we hold closest to our hearts. If someone tells you their favorite book is The Catcher in the Rye, you are likely to draw some conclusions about them. Same goes for someone who names The Princess Bride, or The Lord of the Rings. But what if they say A Tale for the Time Being or Firebreak or The Summer Prince? Does the answer still mean much if you don’t recognize the book?

(16) YOU’RE HIRED. Gawker is back, as the New York Times notes in “Gawker: The Return”, and which I report here because I love the new editor’s modest resume:

…In her editor’s note on Wednesday, Ms. Finnegan wrote that when approached to lead the site last year, she had said, “Absolutely no way in hell.”

A second approach in January won her over. Ms. Finnegan hired a team of 12, mostly women, including four contributing writers.

“I suppose my selling points as a potential editor in chief of Gawker were that I had previously worked at Gawker and Bustle and was unemployed,” Ms. Finnegan wrote. “I was also willing to do it, which not many people can say.”

(17) MOD ARRIVES AT ISS. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] The Russian module, Nauka, has completed its trip to the International Space Station, though there are still nearly a dozen (previously planned) spacewalks needed to put it into service. You may recall that Nauka initially had problems completing engine burns necessary to match orbits with the ISS. “Russian lab module docks with space station after 8-day trip” at Yahoo!

The 20-metric-ton (22-ton) Nauka module, also called the Multipurpose Laboratory Module, docked with the orbiting outpost in an automatic mode after a long journey and a series of maneuvers. Russia’s space agency, Roscosmos, confirmed the module’s contact with the International Space Station at 13:29 GMT.

The launch of Nauka, which is intended to provide more room for scientific experiments and space for the crew, had been repeatedly delayed because of technical problems. It was initially scheduled to go up in 2007.

In 2013, experts found contamination in its fuel system, resulting in a long and costly replacement. Other Nauka systems also underwent modernization or repairs.

Nauka became the first new module in the Russian segment of the station since 2010. On Monday, one of the older Russian modules, the Pirs spacewalking compartment, undocked from the Space Station to free up room for the new module….

The International Space Station is currently operated by NASA astronauts Mark Vande Hei, Shane Kimbrough and Megan McArthur; Oleg Novitsky and Pyotr Dubrov of Russia’s Roscosmos space corporation; Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency astronaut Akihiko Hoshide and European Space Agency astronaut Thomas Pesquet.

In 1998, Russia launched the station’s first module, Zarya, which was followed in 2000 by another big module, Zvezda, and three smaller modules in the following years. The last of them, Rassvet, arrived at the station in 2010.

(18) CREDIT WHERE DUE. There a whole internet industry devoted to identifying movie continuity and set decoration goofs. But sometimes filmmakers get it right! Yahoo! lists “34 Super Small Details In The ‘Back To The Future’ Trilogy That Are Smarter Than All Of Us”.

13. The clock tower’s damage is consistent.

At the beginning of Back to the Future (1985), there’s no damage on the clocktower ledge. When Marty comes back to 1985 at the end, you can see the damage from when Doc was up there to send him back in 1955. from MovieDetails

14. And it’s still broken in 2015.

In Back To The Future 2, the ledge on the clock tower that Doc broke in Back To The Future is still broken from MovieDetails

15. Oh, and that guy Marty’s talking to? He’s the mechanic in 1955!!!

In Back to the Future Part II (1989), the elderly man raising money to save the clock tower in 2015 (who also inadvertently gives Marty the idea to buy the Sports Almanac) is the mechanic who removed the horse manure from Biff’s car in 1955. from MovieDetails

The mechanic is played by Charles Fleischer, who voices Roger Rabbit. Who Framed Roger Rabbit is another movie directed by Robert Zemeckis.

(19) ASSIMILATE THIS. Nature reports “Massive DNA ‘Borg’ Structures Perplex Scientists”:

The Borg have landed — or, at least, researchers have discovered their counterparts here on Earth. Scientists analysing samples from muddy sites in the western United States have found unusual DNA structures that seem to scavenge and ‘assimilate’ genes from microorganisms in their environment, much like the fictional Borg — aliens in Star Trek that assimilate the knowledge and technology of other species. These extra-long DNA strands join a diverse collection of genetic structures — including circular plasmids — known as extrachromosomal elements (ECEs). Most microbes have one or two chromosomes that encode their genetic blueprint. But they can host, and often share between them, many distinct ECEs. These carry non-essential but useful genes. Borgs are a previously unknown, unique and “absolutely fascinating” type of ECE, says Jill  Banfield, a geomicrobiologist at the University of California, Berkeley. She and her colleagues described the Borgs’ discovery earlier this month. month (B. Al-Shayeb et al. Preprint at bioRxiv https://doi.org/gnsb; 2021).

(20) VIDEO OF THE DAY. In “Loki Pitch Meeting” on Screen Rant, Ryan George, in a spoiler-packed episode, says there’s at least a half hour of talking in every episode (like the architect scene in The Matrix) and people who think Loki in a multiverse is a spoiler should avoid the subtitle of Doctor Strange 2:  In The Multiverse Of Madness.”

[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, Petréa Mitchell, Rob Thornton, StephenfromOttawa, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, Michael Toman, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to contributing editor of the day Patrick Morris Miller.]

Pixel Scroll 4/6/19 A Scroll Without A Pixel Is Like A Walrus Without An Antenna

(1) HUGO CONTENDING ART BOOKS. The Daily Beast gives a rundown — “These Are 2019’s Hugo Awards Art Book Finalists”.

… We compiled the six art book finalists below to give you an idea of what’s competing for the venerable award in August, along with some information about them from Amazon….

The Books of Earthsea: The Complete Illustrated Edition, $36 on Amazon: Illustrated by Charles Vess, Written by Ursula K. Le Guin. “Celebrating the 50th anniversary of the timeless and beloved A Wizard of Earthsea, this complete omnibus edition of the entire Earthsea chronicles includes over fifty illustrations illuminating Le Guin’s vision of her classic saga.”

(2) LARSON & JACKSON TOGETHER AGAIN. NPR’s Linda Holmes says “Brie Larson’s Directorial Debut Glitters With The Charming ‘Unicorn Store'”.

“Bringing a unicorn here is not an easy or inexpensive endeavor. You have to be the right sort of girl.”

The right sort of girl.

The backbone of Brie Larson’s offbeat directorial debut, the comedy Unicorn Store, is the idea of what it means to be the right sort of girl. Larson plays Kit, a woman pushing 30 who lives with her parents and favors an aesthetic heavy on rainbows, glitter and — yes — unicorns. And after she receives a couple of mysterious magical letters, she finds herself in the company of a man who calls himself The Salesman (Samuel L. Jackson). He’s the one who says these words, who tells her that she’s in line for a unicorn of her own. But she has to earn it. She has to be stable. She has to make a home for it. She has to be an adult, ironically, to be the right companion for a unicorn.

(3) NICE TRY? BBC reports “Google’s ethics board shut down”.

An independent group set up to oversee Google’s artificial intelligence efforts, has been shut down less than a fortnight after it was launched.

The Advanced Technology External Advisory Council (ATEAC) was due to look at the ethics around AI, machine learning and facial recognition.

One member resigned and there were calls for another to be removed.

The debacle raises questions about whether firms should set up such bodies.

Google told the BBC: “It’s become clear that in the current environment, ATEAC can’t function as we wanted.

“So we’re ending the council and going back to the drawing board. We’ll continue to be responsible in our work on the important issues that AI raises, and will find different ways of getting outside opinions on these topics.”

There had been an outcry over the appointment of Kay Coles James, who is president of conservative thinktank The Heritage Foundation. Thousands of Google employees signed a petition calling for her removal, over what they described as “anti-trans, anti-LGBTQ and anti-immigrant” comments.

(4) HEY RUBE. Steve Davidson complains that he can’t evaluate what technical changes make Archive of Our Own eligible in the 2019 Hugo category for which it was nominated, then, disregarding the argument he just made, asks why AO3 wasn’t nominated in another category that isn’t designed to recognize technical changes: “The Hugo Awards Best Related Work Category and the AO3 Nomination” at Amazing Stories.

In terms of AO3, since I can’t see the “change”, how am I to judge the substantiability?  Maybe, in my mind, it isn’t transformative enough to warrant a vote.  But I can’t make that judgement because I have no reference. I do not have the opportunity to weigh in on the Hugo Administrator’s choices.

Third:  we’ve already determined that websites can qualify under the Best Fanzine category and we can read right in the definition of Best Related Work that works qualify for that category “provided that they do not qualify for another category”.

Why doesn’t a website featuring fanfic qualify for the Best Fanzine category?  Call me a rube, but I can hardly think of a better category for a collection of fanfic than Best Fanzine.  In fact, I seem to recall that a bunch of highly regarded professional authors published their fanfic in…fanzines.  (The printed kind that some of you may not be familiar with.)

(5) BOOKS SHE LOVES. Shelf Awareness brings you “Reading with… Sarah Pinsker”:

Book you’re an evangelist for:

Shaun Tan’s The Arrival. It’s a wordless depiction of an immigration experience. The protagonist doesn’t share a language with anyone in his new country; their language is gibberish to him and gibberish to the reader. Any item we might recognize is rendered in such a way as to make it foreign to the reader as well, so we experience the confusion that the man feels: strange fruit, strange animals, strange monuments. Tan’s illustrations tell the immigrant’s story a thousand times better than words could have.

Book you’ve bought for the cover:

Saga Press is reissuing three Molly Gloss novels over the next few months (Outside the Gates,Dazzle of DayandWild Life) followed by her first collection, Unforeseen. I already had two of the books, but I’ve preordered all four of these both for her prose and the gorgeously stark matching covers by Jeffrey Alan Love.

(6) TODAY IN HISTORY.

  • April 6, 1967Star Trek’s “City on the Edge of Forever”, written by Harlan Ellison, first aired.
  • April 6, 19682001: A Space Odyssey was released.

(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born April 6, 1905 Thomas P. Kelley. Writer of Thirties pulp novels that were serialised first in Weird Tales (The Last PharaohA Million Years in the Future and I Found Cleopatra), Uncanny Tales (The Talking Heads) and Eerie Tales (The Weird Queen). (Died 1982.)
  • Born April 6, 1918 Kaaren Verne. She appeared in Sherlock Holmes and the Secret Weapon as Charlotte Eberli. The film btw was very much fanfic bearing little resemblance to the original premise of Holmes. She also appeared in The Twilight ZoneKraft Suspense Theatre and Fireside Theatre (freelance writers such as Rod Serling were a script source for the latter). (Died 1967.)
  • Born April 6, 1935 Douglas Hill. Prolific writer of short novels for both adults and younger of a sword and sorcery bent even when within an SF setting. Best known series include The Last Legionary, Demon Stalker and Huntsman. He served for a short period as assistant editor of the New Worlds magazine under Michael Moorcock. (Died 2007.)
  • Born April 6, 1937 Billy Dee Williams, 82. He is best known for his role as Lando Calrissian in the Star Wars franchise, first appearing in The Empire Strikes Back. Other genre appearances include being Harvey Dent in Batman and voicing Two Face In The Lego Batman Movie
  • Born April 6, 1947 John Ratzenberger, 72. In-house voice actor for Pixar whose roles have included Hamm in the Toy Story franchise, The Abominable Snowman in the Monsters, Inc. franchise, The Underminer in The Incredibles franchise, and Mack in the Cars franchise. He made minor live appearances in Superman and Superman II
  • Born April 6, 1948 Larry Todd, 71. Writer and cartoonist, best known for the decidedly adult  Dr. Atomic strips that originally appeared in the underground newspaper The Sunday Paper and his other work in underground comics, often with a SF bent. In our circles, Galaxy Science FictionAmazing Science Fiction and Imagination magazines being three of his venues. He also did some writing for If magazine. He also did, and it’s really weird art, the cover art and interior illustrations for Harlan Ellison’s Chocolate Alphabet
  • Born April 6, 1981 Eliza  Coupe, 38. Tiger, one three main roles in Future Man, a web series where a video game apparently is actually real and deadly. She also had a recurring role on Quantico as Hannah Wyland, a series I swear is edging into genre. She was also in Monster Mash (also known as Monster Mash: The Movie and Frankenstein Sings), based on the Bobby “Boris” Pickett song “Monster Mash” and other sources.

(8) SPOTTED OWL. Mike Lawson has won the Spotted Owl Award for his mystery House Witness. The Spotted Owl Award is handed out by a group called Friends of Mystery, based in Portland, Oregon. Eligible are mysteries written by authors from the Pacific Northwest. The finalists were —

  • Baron Birtcher – Fistful Of Rain
  • Robert Dugoni – A Steep Price
  • Warren Easley – Moving Targets
  • G.M. Ford – Soul Survivor
  • Elizabeth George – The Punishment She Deserves
  • Stephen Holgate – Madagascar
  • Mike Lawson – House Witness – winner
  • Martin Limon – The Line
  • John Straley – Baby’s First Felony
  • Jon Talton – The Bomb Shelter

(9) CARTER BROWN. The winner of the inaugural Carter Brown Mystery Writing Award has also been announced:

  • Alibi for a Dead Man by Wilson Toney

The award is named in honor of the prolific Australian author Alan Geoffrey Yates (aka Carter Brown).

(10) MARKETPLACE. Here’s a service someone should start:

(11) WATCH OUT FOR THOSE BOUNDERS. Jim C. Hines referees “Bounding Into Comics vs. Fonda Lee” and finds it’s definitely not a fight by the Marquis of Queensbury rules.

I got to meet and hang out with author Fonda Lee at the Launch Pad Astronomy Workshop a few years back. Recently, Lee was at Barnes and Noble and observed:

“This is what modern fantasy writers are up against. In my local B&N, most authors are lucky to find a copy of their book, super lucky if it’s face out. There are 3.5 shelves for Tolkien. 1.5 for Jordan. Here’s who we compete against for shelf space: not each other, but dead guys.” (Source)

Her Tweets got a lot of attention, leading to an article by John Trent at Bounding Into Comics that derides Lee and accuses her, among other things, of criticizing Tolkien. Not that Lee ever did this. Her second Tweet in that thread said, “Before you @ me about the importance of classics, I love LOTR too, okay?” One might almost suspect Trent’s comment, “Lee isn’t the first person to criticize Tolkien,” of being an attempt to stir up shit.

An effective attempt, it seems. Lee has been barraged by Tolkien Defenders over on Twitter….

(12) THE BREW THAT IS TRUE. “How Artificial Intelligence Is Used To Make Beer”.—Forbes has the story.

There are many ways artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning can make our world more productive and effective. There are even breweries that are using AI to enhance beer production. Is this brilliant or unbelievable? While it’s admittedly too soon to tell, using data to inform brewmasters’ decisions and the possibility of personalized brews makes AI-brewed beer definitely intriguing.

(13) SJWC RETRACTION. Yesterday’s NPR-headline Pixel was quickly corrected: “All Right. Some Cats Do Fetch”.

A tongue-in-cheek NPR.org headline comparing the fetching abilities of cats and dogs revealed a truth known by countless cat owners: Some cats do fetch.

“Cats Don’t Fetch, But Know Their Names As Well As Dogs, Researchers Say,” the original headline proclaimed. This didn’t sit well with some readers.

“In what world do cats not fetch?” Kate Haffey commented on Facebook.

“Artemis knows her name and fetches,” Brandi Whitson said on Twitter. “She’s obsessed.” …

(14) HAPPINESS IS… And while we’re pushing your buttons, read this article in the Portland (ME) Press-Herald “Dog owners are much happier than cat owners, survey finds”.

The well-respected survey that’s been a barometer of American politics, culture and behavior for more than four decades finally got around to the question that has bedeviled many a household.

Dog or cat?

In 2018, the General Social Survey for the first time included a battery of questions on pet ownership. The findings not only quantified the nation’s pet population – nearly 6 in 10 households have at least one -they made it possible to see how pet ownership overlaps with all sorts of factors of interest to social scientists.

Like happiness.

For starters, there is little difference between pet owners and non-owners when it comes to happiness, the survey shows. The two groups are statistically indistinguishable on the likelihood of identifying as “very happy” (a little over 30 percent) or “not too happy” (in the mid-teens).

But when you break the data down by pet type – cats, dogs or both – a stunning divide emerges: Dog owners are about twice as likely as cat owners to say they’re very happy, with people owning both falling somewhere in between.

(15) HISTORIC GADGET. “Heath Robinson: WW2 codebreaking machine reconstructed” – BBC has the story. For any Filers not in on the joke: the US equivalent to Heath Robinson is Rube Goldberg — but this machine worked.

A World War Two codebreaking machine has been reconstructed after a seven-year project so it can run in public for the first time.

The Heath Robinson has been restored at The National Museum of Computing in Milton Keynes by a team of six.

The machine was an early attempt to automate code-cracking and, due to its complexity, was named after the illustrator W Heath Robinson.

Phil Hayes, of the museum, said the work was “quite an achievement”.

He said it completed using a hand-drawn circuit diagram along with replica circuits based on 1940s technology.

(16) OLD HABITS DIE HARD. CNN wondered why “Why 2.7 million Americans still get Netflix DVDs in the mail”. They came up with six reasons. In the process, they made Cat Eldridge’s day: “Years ago I had an argument with a techie who insisted that new technologies always drive out old technologies. I said that’s simply not true. And here’s proof of that.” Cat and Bruce Sterling agree.

Remember when Netflix used to be a DVD-by-mail company? Well, for 2.7 million subscribers in the US, it still is.

The familiar red envelopes have been arriving in customers’ mailboxes since 1998 and helped earn the company a healthy $212 million profit last year.

Why are so many people still using this old-school service in the age of streaming? There are a number of reasons.

(17) FIRE IN THE HOLE. NPR watches as “Japan (Very Carefully) Drops Plastic Explosives Onto An Asteroid”.

Early Friday morning, Japan’s Hayabusa2 spacecraft detonated an explosive device over a small asteroid. The goal was to create a fresh crater that will later be studied by the spacecraft.

Researchers watched from mission control in Sagamihara, Japan, and clapped politely as Hayabusa2 released an experiment known as the Small Carry-on Impactor. The device consisted of a copper disk packed with HMX high-explosive. Once the mothership had safely moved out of the line of fire, the impactor apparently detonated, firing the disk into the side of the asteroid. A camera released by Hayabusa2 appeared to catch the moment of impact, which sent a stream of ejecta into space.

…”These particular asteroids are the precursors to what Earth was made from,” Connolly says. Ryugu is rich in carbon, and minerals on its surface contain water and so-called prebiotic compounds that could have started life on this planet.

“Ryugu is a time capsule,” says Connolly.

This is not Hayabusa2’s first attack. In February, the spacecraft physically touched down on Ryugu and fired a small pellet into its surface. The dust kicked up by that opening shot was collected and eventually will provide researchers with detailed information about the asteroid’s makeup.

But to really understand Ryugu, researchers also want to know what’s down there, and that’s why they created Friday’s crater. In a few weeks, after the dust has settled, the little spacecraft will survey the blast site to see what lies beneath. It may even land a second time to collect subsurface samples.

(18) CLASSIC APOLLO 11 PUBLICITY RESOURCE. In honor of the flight’s 50th anniversary, David Meerman Scott has scanned in his collection of Apollo 11 press kits:

Press kits prepared by the public relations staff at the major contractors for the Apollo 11 mission provided valuable additional information not found in NASA issued news releases. Reporters and editors from media outlets including television and newspapers had access to such documents from dozens of manufacturers while working on stories about the first lunar landing.

(19) STAR TREK FAN FILM. Gizmodo/io9 is drawing your attention to a fan film (“Temporal Anomaly is a Star Trek Fan Film Half a Decade in the Making”). The film appears as two parts, each from 24–27 minutes each.

First conceived and pitched to Kickstarter backers in 2013, Temporal Anomaly is an ambitious fan project set in the Star Trek universe, a nearly hour-long fan film created by Power543 Fan Films

(20) DISCOVERY. The Popcast analyzes The Borg Paradox.

If you thought the last Paradox was good, you’re going to love this one. The Borg are here and Resistance is Futile!

(21) VIDEO OF THE DAY. Stephen Cunnane, in “Gary the Gargoyle: Short and Breakdown” on Vimeo, offers a short fiilm about a gargoyle and an analysis of how the creatures in the film were designed.

[Thanks to JJ, Chip Hitchcock, Cat Eldridge, Cora Buhlert, Conrarius, John King Tarpinian, Bill, rcade, Martin Morse Wooster, Dann, Mike Kennedy, Carl Slaughter, and Andrew Porter. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Kip Williams.]

Pixel Scroll 1/5/19 Mr. Gorn, Tear Down This Suit

(1) NOVIK SPEAKS OUT FOR FANFIC. In “Freed From Copyright, These Classic Works Are Yours To Adapt”, NPR discusses works newly entering public domain, and the writerly impulse to appropriate or retell stories.

A large body of films, music, and books from that year entered the public domain on Jan. 1, the first time that’s happened in 20 years. And that means they can be used according to the will of new creators who wish to adopt or adapt them.

…Those lengthy copyrights can be a barrier to the creation of new art. “Copyright has been overextended so many times, largely at the behest of major copyright holders,” says author Naomi Novik. “Even though what that actually does is inhibit people from creating new works and sharing these older works.” Novik is a founding member of the Organization for Transformative Works, a nonprofit that focuses on preserving fan fiction and art — that is, work created by fans, based on characters and worlds from their favorite written works, film, and TV, which can occasionally come into conflict with copyright law.

… Novik says that the impulse to re-imagine art is innate. “That kind of process of imagination is just something that our brains do. It doesn’t matter what law you put around it, our brains are still going to do it,” she says.

Inevitably, the spring of adaptations will bring about bad versions of these classic works. As Blake Hazard, great-granddaughter of F. Scott Fitzgerald, told The New York Times, “I hope people maybe will be energized to do something original with the work, but of course the fear is that there will be some degradation of the text.”

Miller, who adapted Homer, does worry about the possibility of betraying the texts. But as she was working on Circe, she says, “I came to the understanding that I can’t hurt Homer. He’s fine. Whatever I do, that’s just my response to him. But the original text will be just fine.”

(2) DEAMERICANIZING THE HUGOS. Australian writer T.R. Napper wants to broaden the meaning of diversity: “The Hugos: Putting the World into WorldCon”.

It’s time to put the world into WorldCon. Time to include geography and national culture in the definition of diversity. Past time.

This here is just a discussion in good faith. Remember those? There’s no outrage; no political side. All I’m saying is this: historically, the winner of the Hugo for best novel has been from the US, 82% of the time. If we take just the past five years (2014 – 2018) Americans have been nominated 90% of the time (27/30) and won 90% (the latter number comes from Ken Liu (as translator) sharing the award with Cixin Liu for The Three-Body Problem). For the Nebulas – while not related to WorldCon directly, still reflective of what is happening in the genre – the picture is worse: US writers have been nominated 91% of the time (30/34) and won 100%….

Of course, right in the sweet spot of Napper’s 5-year sample are three years deeply affected by Sad/Rabid Puppy slate voting. Diversity of all kinds suffered in those years. What happens if I go back and pick my own sample – say, the year 2010? The Worldcon was in Australia, and the five Best Novel nominees included two Canadians and a Brit – 60% — leaving Americans at only 40%. Or 2009 when it was in Montreal – the five nominees included two Brits – 40% — and Americans were 60%.

And are people really expected to stop thinking that diversity looks like N.K. Jemisin’s three-year run, an unmatched achievement, and dismiss it as just another bunch of Hugos predictably won by an American writer?

The remainder of Napper’s post is a suggested reading list of international novels, a positive contribution, and always in order.

Unfortunately, the next part of being constructive is putting up a list of potential novels and short stories to read. This is why outrage is so much easier than informed discussion: it doesn’t come with so much fucking homework.

But I’ve done my homework. I’ve talked to editors and writers from Australia, Zimbabwe, the UK, New Zealand, Singapore, and – yes – the United States. And I’ve come up with a list. It’s not a comprehensive one. I don’t have that sort of time, and I wouldn’t want it to be. A comprehensive list would be so eye-rollingly long the reader would have no idea where to start. And any such claim to completeness would be immediately debunked. I’m not aiming for perfection or quantity.

Also note that none of these are my nominations (yet). I will add my own to the list over the next few weeks as I get my reading done. I have two I’d like to include from my reading as Aurealis judge, though unfortunately I cannot divulge those until the awards are announced.

All these caveats aside, I present to you a flawed and partial list of stories that entirely reasonable humans from all across the world have recommended. Which is about as good as it gets…

(3) EX NIHILIS. Popular Science explains “Zero is just 1,500 years old. Before it, there was nothing.”

Accounting is an ancient profession. Sumer, the earliest known Mesopotamian civilization, had a positional numbering system, so there was no need for placeholders. A subsequent empire, Babylon, had different demands, so its number-crunching class used two empty wedges to represent a sum like 507. Across the world, the Mayan civilization came up with its own solution to a similar problem, placing a shell where modern mathematicians might place a 0. Some experts argue these wedges are ground zero, to borrow a phrase, but most academics attribute the invention of zero as a number—not as a warm body but a symbol in its own right, one that can be used in equations—to India.

(4) GENTLEMEN, BE SEATED. Now that Camestros Felapton has excused himself from the Hugo race, he knows it’s safe to resume writing hilarious stuff like “Other Revised Canon Aspects of Poo”, which would have increased his risks of winning one. Where are we going with this? Well, here’s the premise, with his second example

The other day J.K.Rowling’s Pottermore revealed that Hogwarts was originally built without toilets because wizards just pooped anyway and then magicked it away. Below are other poo related details about other franchises that you might not know….

Star Wars: there are no bathrooms in Star Wars but there are small toilet robots who follow you around waiting for you to do your business and clean it up. That’s what those little boxy droids are.

(5) EINSTEIN OBIT. The actor known as Super Dave Osborne died January 2. Mark Evanier paid tribute in “Bob Einstein, R.I.P.”

[His work included a] long run as the self-immolating daredevil Super Dave Osborne. You never knew what daring feat Super Dave would attempt; only that at the end of it, he would meet some fate previously met by Wile E. Coyote.

GIMBEL OBIT. Lyricist Norman Gimbel died December 19. His Washington Post obit, “Norman Gimbel, Oscar-winning lyricist of ‘Happy Days’ theme and ‘Girl From Ipanema,’ dies at 91”, notes that “The Girl from Ipanema” was written for a science fiction musical in Brazil, to answer the musical question “Why is an alien hanging around in Brazil?” Gimbel also wrote the lyrics for the 1970s Wonder Woman theme.  

(6) TODAY IN HISTORY.

  • January 5, 1950The Flying Saucer opened in theaters.
  • January 5, 1951Two Lost Worlds premiered…with dinosaurs in Australia.

(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born January 5, 1914 George Reeves. Best known for his role as the title role in The Adventures of Superman and several associated films. I remember the show fondly from much later syndication and thought that both the acting and stories were well done. He also played the lead role in The Adventures of Sir Galahad and was Mike Patton in The Jungle Goddess. He was in a fair number of series as well but I can’t determine if any of them were genre.  (Died 1959.)
  • Born January 5, 1929Russ Manning. An artist  who created and drew the Gold Key comic book character Magnus: Robot Fighter; who drew the Tarzan comic book from 1965 – 1969 and the Tarzan newspaper comic strip from 1967 – 1972; and the Star Wars newspaper strip from 1979 – 1980. (Credit to Bill here at File 770 for this Birthday.) (Died 1981.)
  • Born January 5, 1941 Hayao Miyazaki, 78. A masterful storyteller who chose animation as his medium. He co-founded Studio Ghibli in 1985 and has directed some of the best loved films of all time. His films include the Oscar winning film Spirited Away, My Neighbor Tortoro, and adapting the classic novel Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones for the big screen. (Thanks to Matt Russell for this Birthday.)
  • Born January 5, 1959Clancy Brown, 60. I first encountered him as the voice of Lex Luthor In the DC animated universe. All of his voice roles are far too extensive to list here, but I’ll single out his work as Savage Opress, Count Dooku’s new apprentice and Darth Maul’s brother, in Star Wars: The Clone Wars.  Very selected live roles include Rawhide in The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension, The Kurgan In Highlander, Sheriff Gus Gilbert in Pet Sematary Two, Captain Byron Hadley in The Shawshank Redemption, Sgt. Charles Zim In Starship Troopers and, one of favorite weird series, Brother Justin Crowe in Carnivàle.
  • Born January 5, 1978 January Jones, 41. Emma Frost In X-Men: First Class is her only film role to dates but earlier when searching the net I did find her in The Last Man on Earth which is, and I quote, “an American post-apocalyptic comedy television series.”  Anyone seen this? 
  • Born January 5, 1978 Seanan McGuire, 41. Ahhhh one of my favorite writers. I just finished listening to The Girl in the Green Silk Gown which was quite excellent and earlier I’d read her Chaos Choreography, both of her Indexing books which are beyond amazing and, God what else?, the Wayward Children series which I’ve mixed feelings about. I did read at a few of the first October Daye novels but they didn’t tickle my fancy. I’ve not read her Mira Grant work so do advise on how it is. 

(8) COMICS SECTION.

(9) BORG LICENSE REVOKED. A Canadian Star Trek fan is going to court after the government insurance company revoked his “ASIMIL8” license plate, that he got because he likes the Borg, and had a frame that added the tag “Resistance is Futile.” The term was considered insulting to First Nations people, who have often been asked to assimilate to settler culture. The Edmonton Journal has the story — “’Obviously inappropriate:’ Insurer says ASIMIL8 plate shouldn’t have been issued”.

In a recently filed legal brief, Troller explained that he drove around with the plate for nearly two years and no one complained. He renewed it with MPI in 2016 without issue.

An Ontario woman posted a photo of the licence plate on Facebook on April 22, 2017. Court filings show a transcript of a call she made to MPI in which she said the plate was offensive because of the history of government assimilation policies.

Not all plate requests go sailing through:

The documents include a 47-page list of licence plates that were denied by MPI. They include BITE ME, VINO, MMMBEER, SKODEN, HYZNBRG, HOLYCOW, PWALKER and 50 GREY.

A man in Nova Scotia has also gone to court over a personalized licence plate. Lorne Grabher has been trying to reinstate his “GRABHER” plate since it was revoked in 2016 by the Registrar of Motor Vehicles following an anonymous complaint.

(10) DOWNWIND FROM HOLLYWOOD. Just became aware of this fine blog entry published last year by Kip W: “Classical Gas”. Examples at the link.

The Disney corporation, ever sensitive to the winds of change, and (since at least the 1950s) ever willing to recut their old products up for present-day sensibilities, determined to get out on the cutting edge of kid appeal by folding flatulence humor into their classic releases. Leaked memo from 2008 reveals some of the specific ideas explored…

(11) IT’S A STING. Jalopnik: “You Can Buy All Four Bumblebee Camaros From Transformers, but They’re Not Street Legal”.

Perhaps you’ve seen a Transformers movie, or two, or six, in the past 11 years. (Google says there are six now.) Perhaps you’ve liked them, even, to the point that you’ve dreamed of one day owning the sporty, automatic stunt cars that turn into robots on the big screen. Now’s your chance to own four.

There’s one big catch, though: All four of the vehicles will come with a scrap title and none of them will be street legal. There go your carpool plans for the next Transformers movie premiere. Darn.

Barrett-Jackson is auctioning off four Transformers movie cars as a package deal in Scottsdale, Arizona later this month—all four of them black-and-yellow Chevrolet Camaros representing the robot character Bumblebee, who (which?) recently starred in an unnecessarily sexy movie of his (its?) namesake. Money from the Camaros’ auction will go to charity, and the person who wins will get a 2010 model from the first and second movies, a 2010 model from the third movie, a 2013 model from the fourth movie and a 2016 one from the fifth movie

(12) IS THIS WHAT SCIENCE IS FOR? Here’s another thing that’s coming – “Buttered Popcorn Oreos Are in the Works, and TBH, I Don’t Know What to Feel”.

We’re less than a week into the new year, and we already have a handful of new Oreo flavors to fuel us through 2019. As if the news of flavors like Carrot Cake and Dark Chocolate haven’t been enough to pique your interest, perhaps the rumors of Oreo’s latest out-of-the-box offering, Buttered Popcorn, will do the trick.

(13) HOW’S THEIR SFF SECTION? [Item by Mike Kennedy.] The National Geographic website seems pretty certain that, “This is the world’s most beautiful bookstore.” Given that it was converted from a rather splendid theater, the Ateneo Grand Splendid bookstore certainly had a leg up in achieving that appellation.

On a bustling commercial street in the fashionable Recoleta neighborhood of Buenos AiresArgentina, you can visit a serene temple of books. The lighting is soft, with accents that showcase the best in early 20th-century craftsmanship. Conversations are hushed, as if in a grand library, yet the space is so warm and welcoming that the raised café at the back of the cavernous room is filled with patrons reading and sipping cappuccinos and chocolate submarinos.

You’ve entered the Ateneo Grand Splendid bookstore, which blogs and guidebooks often dub “the world’s most beautiful bookstore.” They may not be wrong. The sprawling shop is housed in a beautifully preserved antique theater. Only instead of tango dancers and singers, the stars are now the printed word.

(14) VIDEO OF THE DAY. The Onion knows many claim success using other ways — but this really works: “Increase Your Cognitive Ability By Reading A Fucking Book For Once”.

[Thanks to Chip Hitchcock, Carl Slaughter, Olav Rokne, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Andrew Porter, Joel Zakem, Mike Kennedy, and Andrew for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Peer.]