Pixel Scroll 4/1/22 This Title Contains A Non-Fungible Tribble

(1) DIAL Q FOR MOCKERY. It may be April 1 but calling 323-634-5667 gets you the message: “Star Trek Picard Easter Egg: Real Phone Number Lets You Call Q” reports Gizmodo.

Which, of course actually works. Turns out, calling the number and not being fictional rogue geneticist Adam Soong however, just gets Q mocking you for trying to call the mighty, incomprehensible society that is the Q Continuum. Check out our recording of the phone message below:

If you can’t hear the message, here’s a transcript:

“Hello! You have reached the Q Continuum. We are unable to get to the phone right now, because we are busy living in a plane of existence your feeble, mortal mind cannot possibly comprehend.

“Furthermore, it’s pointless to leave a message, because we of course already knew that you would call, and we simply do not care. Have a nice day.”

(2) A FOOLISH CONSISTENCY. Daniel Dern sent this link with the caution – “Note, (Stardate) April 1, 2022.” “Timekettle New Cross-Species Translator Supports Klingon and Dog&Cat”.

The Timekettle team has launched cross-species language translation through its self-developed translation engine on April 1st, 2022. It is now possible to chat with aliens from the Klingon Empire, as well as with your pets via Woof or Meow.

Dern also suggested trying it on this: “GreenEggsAndHam” at the Klingon Language Wiki.

(3) PRESSED DOWN, SHAKEN TOGETHER, AND RUNNING OVER. What was Brandon Sanderson’s final take? According to CNBC, “Author’s record-breaking Kickstarter campaign closes at $41.7 million”.

Brandon Sanderson asked Kickstarter fans for $1 million to self-publish four novels he wrote during the pandemic. Thirty days later, his campaign has topped $41.7 million from more than 185,000 backers and is the most-funded Kickstarter in the crowdfunding site’s history.

Sanderson’s campaign surpassed the previous record holder in just three days, topping the $20.3 million in funds that smartwatch company Pebble Technology generated in 2015.

With the project successfully funded, Kickstarter will take a 5% fee from the funds collected, or more than $2 million….

(4) EATING THE FANTASTIC. Scott Edelman invites listeners to pig out on pork BBQ with Paul Witcover in episode 168 of his Eating the Fantastic podcast.

Paul Witcover

Paul Witcover‘s first novel, Waking Beauty (1997) was short-listed for the James Tiptree, Jr. Award. He’s also written five other novels: Tumbling After (2005), Dracula: Asylum (2006), The Emperor of All Things (2013) and its sequel, The Watchman of Eternity (2015), plus most recently, Lincolnstein, just out from PS Publishing.

His 2004 novella “Left of the Dial” was nominated for a Nebula Award, and his 2009 novella “Everland” was nominated for a World Fantasy Award. His short fiction has appeared in Twilight Zone magazine, Isaac Asimov’s Science Fiction magazine, Night Cry, and other venues. A collection of his short fiction, Everland and Other Stories, appeared from PS Publishing in 2009, and was nominated for a Shirley Jackson Award. He’s been a frequent reviewer for Realms of FantasyLocusNew York Review of Science Fiction, and elsewhere. He teaches fiction at UCLA Extension and at Southern New Hampshire University, where he is the Dean of the Online MFA program.

We discussed the reason the pandemic resulted in some of the best years of his freelance career, the way he thrives as a writer when dealing with the boundaries of historical fiction, why his new novel Lincolnstein is “exactly what you think it is,” how he writes in yesterday’s vernacular without perpetuating yesterday’s stereotypes, what can and can’t be taught about writing, the reasons he felt lucky to have attended Clarion with Lucius Shepard, the effect reading slush at Asimov’s and Twilight Zone magazines had on his own fiction, what Algis Budrys told him that hit him like a brick, and much more.

(5) PATREON EXPLAINS IT TO JDA. Jon Del Arroz, who as usual says he didn’t do nothin’, asked Patreon to explain why they killed his account. They answered and he has posted their response letter — which mentions that “our guidelines apply equally to off-platform activity.” It would be ironic if Patreon bounced him for the racist and misogynistic tweets and YouTube videos he posts which those platforms permit to go undisciplined despite their own community guidelines.  

(6) AGING ORANGE. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] Check out BBC Radio 4’s Front Row arts programme. Last night’s episode includes an item on A Clockwork Orange, it being the 60th anniversary of the novel. It was very interesting. Apparently there was an unpublished sequel which was basically having a message that art does not spread violence though society. Front Row – “A Clockwork Orange, the National Poetry Competition winner announced, Slow Horses and Coppelia reviewed”.

(7) WESTWARD HO. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In the Financial Times behind a paywall, Tom Faber reviews Horizon Forbidden West.

The one-line pitch is that you’re a hunter-gatherer fighting robot dinosaurs across a post-apocalyptic US.  With such a fun hook, nobody needed Horizon Zero Dawn to have a good story, yet its narrative proved unexpectedly compelling.  The game takes place a thousand years after rampaging machines have wiped out most of humanity.  Survivors have clustered into tribal communities who view relics of technology as objects of either suspicion or religious reverence.  The dramas of warring clans are narrated alongside the tale of how our world came to ruin. Guerillas struck gold with flame-haired heroine Aloy, who balances grit and tenderness as one of the most memorable new characters of its console generation…

Forbidden West is the first truly eye-popping flex of the PS5’s muscles, with graphics so beautiful that I have often found myself halting the adventure just to gawp at the landscape, whether dust clouds careening across the desert or forest leaves quivering in the breeze.  The robot enemies are ingenious works of biomechanical clockwork, shaped like snakes, hippos, ferrets, rams, and pterodactyls, with electric cables for sinew and gleaming steel for ligaments.

(8) CLARION WEST CLASSES. Registration for Clarion West’s Spring online classes and workshops is now open. Full information and ticket prices at the links.

This workshop aims to give you practical tools for evaluating publishing contracts. While it’s impossible to teach you everything there is to know about the legal side of publishing in a single class, it is possible to gain a general understanding of the rights involved and the practical mindset needed to protect your interests.

After a brief lecture on common publishing contractual terms, instructor Ken Liu (a lawyer and an author) will lead participants in interactive exercises to spot potential issues in language taken from actual contracts. Whether you’re looking at your first pro short story sale or an offer to adapt your novel into a TV show, the exercises in this class will help you.

Depending on the contracts used in the exercises, topics covered may include publishing rights (print, web, electronic, audio, etc.), performance rights, foreign language rights, media rights (gaming, film, and TV), royalties, advances, taxes, indemnification, etc. There will also be a Q&A period to address specific questions from participants.

This class is provided for educational purposes only, and none of the content should be construed as professional legal, tax, or financial advice.

With demand for transgender and nonbinary narratives on the rise, more cisgender (non-trans/nonbinary) people are adding trans and nonbinary characters to their stories. But what can you do to make sure you’re providing accurate representation? In this session, we will explore the “Three Es” of writing a trans/nonbinary character, the best craft approaches for each, and their potential pitfalls. We’ll also go over (in)appropriate reasons to write a trans/nonbinary narrative, general dos, and don’ts, and an overview of the experiences most often used incorrectly in stories.

This class for intermediate to advanced writers focused on craft to help you flex your funny muscles (since bones don’t flex). We’ll cover new ways to look at your funny fiction, techniques, exercises, the odd hack and trick- and culminate in a small mini-workshop where we’ll go over a piece you worked on!

This class meets three times: April 12, 16 and May 10, 2022, 11:00 AM to 12:30 PM Pacific.

This class will give an overview of the tools libraries use to discover materials and what makes a title more likely to be ordered for a library’s collection. We will also discuss the challenges and opportunities librarians face in acquiring materials and how authors can position themselves to be in a library’s line of sight when it comes to getting their books included in library collections.

We’ll cover physical materials (books and audiobooks) as well as the prickly digital (ebooks and audiobooks) library landscape.

Finally, we’ll also cover a little bit about doing library programs, like readings and classes.

Attendees will come away with a better understanding of how libraries locate and purchase materials and the limitations and differences between the library and the consumer markets.

You know it’s possible to be a successful short story writer with a full-time job, family, and hobbies. The question is, How? How do you get beyond the slush pile? How do you find the time to write when you have a million other obligations? This class will cover how to level up your craft as a short story writer and how to find the time, motivation, and persistence to stick with it while living a full life.

Suitable for writers at all stages of their careers, this class will emphasize self-compassion and give you ideas for how to level up your stories!

(9) HE WAS AN INFLUENCE ON BRADBURY. [Item by Alan Baumler.] Loren Eisley was a prolific science writer, and at least one sf writer liked him. About his book The Star Thrower Ray Bradbury wrote, “The book will be read and cherished in the year 2001. It will go to the Moon and Mars with future generations. Loren Eiseley’s work changed my life.” In “Erik Visits an American Grave, Part 1,059”, Erik Loomis traces the author’s life for readers of Lawyers, Guns & Money.

…As Ray Bradbury said of Eiseley, “he is every writer’s writer, and every human’s human.” This is a great description and his combination of interest in science, human origins, evolutionary theory, and what it means to be a human being continued to lead to best sellers. He quickly moved on his popularity to become the leading interpreter of science in the United States. Darwin’s Century followed in 1958. I haven’t read that one. I have read his 1960 book The Firmament of Time. This was an attempt to give people hope to live with science in an era of such astounding advances that it threatened human beings, particularly nuclear science….

(10) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

1995 [Item by Cat Eldridge.] Twenty-seven years ago this evening on BBC One, the Bugs series first aired. The series was created by Brian Eastman and producer Stuart Doughty with input from writer and producer Brian Clemens who is best known for his work on The Avengers which is why he considered this “an Avengers for the 1990s”. No idea if that was true having not seen it.

It lasted, despite almost being cancelled at the end of series three, for four series and forty episodes. It had an immense, and I do mean that, cast including Jaye Griffiths who was on Silent Witness early on (I’m watching all twenty-one series of it right now), Craig McLalachlan who was the lead in The Doctor Blake Mysteries, Jesse Birdsall who played Fraser Black in the very popular soap opera Hollyoaks and Steve Houghton who’s Gregg Blake in the London Burning series.

So how was it? I couldn’t find any contemporary reviews, but this later review suggests that it was a mixed bag: “Bugs is a mid-1990s British techno-espionage TV series, intended to be The Avengers (1960s) for a new decade. Wikipedia has the facts. Absolutely laden with Hollywood Science tropes, and quite prone to So Bad, It’s Good.” Another review noted that, “The show does have a cult following in the UK and in 2005 was released on DVD. The main cast have also spoken very highly of the show and the work they did on it, expressing that Bugs was deliberately ahead of its time and set a bench mark for other shows to come.” 

JustWatch says it is not streaming anywhere at the current time.

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born April 1, 1883 Lon Chaney. Actor, director, makeup artist and screenwriter. Best remembered I’d say for the Twenties silent horror films The Hunchback of Notre Dame and The Phantom of the Opera in which he did his own makeup. He developed pneumonia in late 1929 and he was diagnosed with bronchial lung cancer which he died from. (Died 1930.)
  • Born April 1, 1917 Sydney Newman. Head of Drama at BBC, he was responsible for both The Avengers and Doctor Who happening. It’s worth noting that Newman’s initial set-up for The Avengers was much grittier than it became in the later years. (Died 1997.)
  • Born April 1, 1925 Ernest Kinoy. He was a scriptwriter for such stories as “The Martian Death March” to Dimension X and X Minus One as well as adapting stories by Isaac Asimov,  Ray Bradbury,  Philip K. Dick for the both series. He also wrote an adaptation of Shirley Jackson’s “The Lottery” for NBC’s Presents: Short Story. (Died 2014.)
  • Born April 1, 1926 Anne McCaffrey. I read both the original trilogy and what’s called the Harper Hall trilogy oh so many years ago when dragons were something I was intensely interested in. I enjoyed them immensely but haven’t revisited them so I don’t know what the Suck Fairy would make of them. I confess that I had no idea she’d written so much other genre fiction! And I recounted her Hugo awards history in the March 7 Pixel Scroll (item #9). (Died 2011.)
  • Born April 1, 1930 Grace Lee Whitney. Yeoman Janice Rand on Star Trek. She would reach the rank of Lt. Commander in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country. Folks, I just noticed that IMDB says she was only on eight episodes of Trek, all in the first fifteen that aired. It seemed like a lot more at the time. She also appeared in in Star Trek: The Motion Picture, Star Trek III: The Search for Spock, Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home and Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country. By the last film, she was promoted to being a Lt. Commander in rank. Her last appearance was in Star Trek: Voyager’s “Flashback” along with Hikaru Sulu. Oh, and she was in two video fanfics, Star Trek: New Voyages and Star Trek: Of Gods and Men. (Died 2015.)
  • Born April 1, 1942 Samuel R. Delany, 80. There’s no short list of recommended works for him as everything he’s done is brilliant. That said I think I’d start off suggesting a reading first of Babel- 17 and Dhalgren followed by the Return to Nevèrÿon series. His two Hugo wins were at Heicon ’70 for the short story “Time Considered as a Helix of Semi-Precious Stones” as published in New Worlds, December 1968, and at Noreascon 3 (1989) in the Best Non-Fiction Work category for The Motion of Light in Water: Sex and Science Fiction Writing in the East Village, 1957-1965.  I will do a full look at his awards and all of his Hugo nominations in an essay shortly. 
  • Born April 1, 1953 Barry Sonnenfeld, 69. Director of The Addams Family and its sequel Addams Family Values  (both of which I really like), the Men in Black trilogy and Wild Wild West. He also executive-produced Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events which I’ve not seen, and did the same for Men in Black: International, the recent not terribly well-received continuation of that franchise.
  • Born April 1, 1963 James Robinson, 59. Writer, both comics and film. Some of his best known comics are the series centered on the Justice Society of America, in particular the Starman character he co-created with Tony Harris. His Starman series is without doubt some of the finest work ever done in the comics field. His screenwriting is a mixed bag. Remember The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen? Well, that’s him. He’s much, much better on the animated Son of Batman film. And I’ll admit that James Robinson’s Complete WildC.A.T.s is a sort of guilty pleasure.

(12) IT CAUGHT ON IN A FLASH. Cora Buhlert has a new story out. A flash story called “Rescue Unwanted,” it appears as part of the flash fiction Friday series of Wyngraf Magazine of Cozy Fantasy“Cozy Flash: ‘Rescue Unwanted’”.

After a lengthy and laborious climb, Sir Clarenbald the Bold finally reached the summit of the Crag of Doom. The cave of the dragon lay before him, its mouth a dark void in the grey rock….

(13) WHERE IT’S AT. The Movie District has mapped out the “Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956) Filming Locations” with a combination of stills from the movie and contemporary Google Maps images. This is pretty damn interesting to me because I used to live two blocks from a few of the places in Sierra Madre.

(14) RAZZIES REVERSED. “Razzie Awards Backtrack, Rescind Bruce Willis Award – and Shelley Duvall Nomination as Well”The Wrap explains why.

The Razzie Awards have reversed their decision to stand by their “Worst Performance by Bruce Willis in 2021” award. “After much thought and consideration, the Razzies have made the decision to rescind the Razzie Award given to Bruce Willis, due to his recently disclosed diagnosis,” a statement by co-founders John Wilson and Mo Murphy says.

“If someone’s medical condition is a factor in their decision making and/or their performance, we acknowledge that it is not appropriate to give them a Razzie.” Willis’ family announced on Wednesday that the actor had been diagnosed with the cognitive disorder aphasia and was stepping away from acting.

The Razzie Awards came under fire on Wednesday for refusing to rescind the special award for Willis, and for making an inflammatory Tweet. “The Razzies are truly sorry for #BruceWillis diagnosed condition,” the parody awards ceremony wrote on Twitter. “Perhaps this explains why he wanted to go out with a bang in 2021. Our best wishes to Bruce and family.”

In addition, the organization took the opportunity to rescind another previous nomination – Worst Actress for Shelley Duvall in “The Shining.”

“As we recently mentioned in a Vulture Interview, extenuating circumstances also apply to Shelley Duvall in ‘The Shining.’ We have since discovered that Duvall’s performance was impacted by Stanley Kubrick’s treatment of her throughout the production.  We would like to take this opportunity to rescind that nomination as well.”…

(15) JEOPARDY! Andrew Porter says tonight’s Jeopardy! contestants struck out on this one.

Category: Books and Authors

Answer: In “The Story of” this man, his friends include Too-Too, an owl, Chee-Chee, a monkey, & Dab-Dab, a duck.

No one could ask, “Who is Doctor Dolittle?”

(16) JUSTWATCH – TOP 10’S IN MARCH. JustWatch says these were the “Top 10 Sci-Fi Movies and TV Shows in the US in March 2022”.

Rank*MoviesTV shows
1Spider-Man: No Way HomeSeverance
2DuneHalo
3The Adam ProjectUpload
4After YangResident Alien
5Spider-Man: Far From HomeDoctor Who
6Spider-Man: HomecomingRaised by Wolves
7Venom: Let There Be CarnageSnowpiercer
8Spider-ManStar Trek: The Next Generation
9InterstellarThe X-Files 
10The Matrix ResurrectionsBattlestar Galactica

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

(17) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In “Hancock Pitch Meeting” Ryan George explains that Hancock has a scene where one character destroys her house to prevent her husband from knowing she has super powers.  But the producer is troubled by another scene where Hancock becomes enraged and violent after he is taunted.  “How could that happen?” the producer asks.  “That’s just not in Will Smith’s character!”

[Thanks to Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Cora Buhlert, Alan Baumler, Scott Edelman, Michael J. Walsh, Dennis Howard, Dan Bloch, Andrew Porter, Michael Toman, and Cat Eldridge for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]

Pixel Scroll 3/25/22 Look At The Scroll Turn Hell-File Red! Someone’s Pixel’s Clicking Down, Down, Down

(1) THIS IS WILD. Brandon Sanderson invites you to watch as “We Back Every Publishing Kickstarter*”. As one commenter said, “Never thought I would watch a 30+ minute video of someone funding Kickstarters.” I had to watch the whole thing myself!

Today we are going to do something awesome. The Kickstarter has been successful beyond my wildest dreams, so I got my team together and I said what can we do to give back a little to this community that has supported us so well? So we are going to back every single Kickstarter in the publishing category. This is going to be awesome. …And indeed, some of these we’re going to pull out and we’re going to talk about why we’re backing them and what’s cool about them and so we’re going to do a time lapse for you and you can watch in real time as we back these all… 

In the middle of this, the Sanderson team tripped over a previously unknown-to-them Kickstarter function which sends all of their own backers an email every time they back another one. After a load of emails had gone out Kickstarter locked up their account! The team had to open a new account to keep going. (At first they worried that — doing the multiplication – they had unintentionally generated nine million emails. They soon learned it was a lot less – the emails only go to those who opt-in to receive such notices.)

(2) ELDEN RING. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In the Financial Times behind a paywall, Tom Faber reviews FromSoftware’s release The Elden Ring.

Here is the DNA which defines a FromSoftware game: difficulty which borders on masochism; finely-tuned combat that rewards patience; and storylines told through text that necessitates elucidation in YouTube explainers. Elden Ring continues the tradition, weaving the classic ingredients through a storyline written with the assistance of Game of Thrones author George RR Martin.  You are ‘a Tarnished,’ tasked with venturing across the decaying ‘Lands Between to reunite pieces of a broken ring and become the ‘Elden Lord.’

It doesn’t matter.  For most players, the plot will come a distant second in a bold change in the FromSoftware formula:  a vast open world of great beauty where almost everything wants to kill you.  While the graphics look dated by current standards, the design is stunning: misty forests, golden cities, and rotting red deserts you race past on your trusty spirit-horse, Torrent.

(3) ROWLING DECLINES PUTIN’S DEFENSE. “Vladimir Putin Claims West Is ‘Trying To Cancel’ Russia” reports Deadline.

Russian premier Vladimir Putin has delivered a TV address in which he claimed the West is “trying to cancel” his country.

During a deranged-sounding rant, translated and broadcast by Sky News, Putin at one point said that Harry Potter author JK Rowling had been similarly cancelled “just because she didn’t satisfy the demands of gender rights”….

Rowling’s response was carried by BBC News: “JK Rowling hits back at Putin’s ‘cancel culture’ comment”.

JK Rowling has hit back at Vladimir Putin, after the Russian president cited her in a wide-ranging speech that saw him criticise “cancel culture”.

At a televised meeting on Friday, Mr Putin compared recent criticism of the Harry Potter author to that faced by pro-war Russian composers and writers.

In response, Ms Rowling denounced the invasion of Ukraine in which she said Russia was “slaughtering civilians”.

Rowling has been criticised for her views on transgender issues.

“Critiques of Western cancel culture are possibly not best made by those currently slaughtering civilians for the crime of resistance, or who jail and poison their critics,” the Harry Potter author wrote on Twitter.

In the lengthy speech, which was given to the winners of various cultural prizes, President Putin claimed Russian composers and writers were being discriminated against.

(4) POLL TESTS SUPPORT FOR BOOK BANS. “ALA Poll Finds Public Broadly Opposes Book Banning Efforts” reports Publishers Weekly.

By large majorities, American say they oppose recent efforts to remove books from schools and libraries, and say they trust in librarians to make appropriate collection decisions. The news comes from a national poll commissioned by the American Library Association, released this week at the Public Library Association conference in Portland, Ore.

Amid a proliferation of new legislation in some states and an uptick in efforts to ban books nationwide, the ALA poll found that 71% of voters oppose efforts to remove books from public libraries, including majorities of voters across party lines. Furthermore, 74% of parents of public school children expressed “a high degree of confidence” in school librarians to make good decisions about which books to make available to children. The poll also found librarians to be held in high in their communities….

(5) COVER REVEAL. [Item by Bence Pintér.] Valancourt Books unveiled the cover for Attila Veres’s debut collection in English: The Black Maybe. Attila is the top Hungarian weird/horror author, I am really glad to see him published in the US. The book will be released in October.

…This volume collects ten of his best tales in English for the first time, ranging from weird fiction like ‘In the Snow, Sleeping’, in which a couple’s vacation to a health spa erodes into a surreal nightmare, to folk horror like ‘Return to the Midnight School’, in which the things that emerge from the soil in one rural farming community are bizarre and horrific, to Lovecraft-inspired tales like ‘Multiplied by Zero’, written as a wry travelogue in which a man sets out on a deadly holiday tour to explore Lovecraftian landscapes. And in the title story ‘The Black Maybe’, which Steve Rasnic Tem calls ‘one of the weirdest tales I’ve read in years’, a girl and her family escape the bustling city to experience farm life, only to discover with unimaginable horror the truth of what is really being harvested there….

(6) ESSAY: FRITZ LEIBER’S HUGOS. [Item by Cat Eldridge.] I recently listened to one of the audio versions of Fritz Leiber’s The Big Time, the one narrated by Suzanne Toren, which was his first Hugo win for Best Novel or Novelette at Solacon (1958). It would be the first of six Hugos and two Retro Hugos that he would garner in a long and distinguished career. (A movie based on one of his books also won.) So let me recount these. 

After the win for The Big Time, he next picked two nominations at Detention (1959), one for a novelette, “A Deskful of Girls” and one for a short story, “Rump-Titty-Titty-Tum-TAH-Tee” (and may I say that I really, really love that title?); another short story, “Scylla’s Daughter”, was nominated at Chicon III (1962), the same year he picked a Special Award for “The Use of SF in Advertisements”. Anyone care to tell me about this award pretty please? 

At the first DisCon (1963) he picked up a short story nomination for “The Unholy Grail”. Also nominated for Best Dramatic Production that year was Burn, Witch, Burn, also known as Night of the Eagle, which as you know is based off Leiber’s Conjure Wife, 

Loncon II (1965) saw The Wanderer novel pick up a Hugo, and “Stardock” was a finalist at Tricon (1966) as a short story nominee. “Gonna Roll Them Bones” picked up the Novelette Hugo at Baycon (1968) with “Ship of Shadows” garnering the Best Novella at Heicon ’70. 

The first Noreascon (1971) would see his “Ill Met in Lankhmar” novella win a Hugo. (I truly love those stories, one and all.)  And then the first Aussiecon (1975) would see his “Midnight by the Morphy Watch” novelette nominated for a Hugo and the next year at MidAmeriaCon (1976), his “Catch That Zeppelin!” short story won a Hugo. 

That’s it for Hugos, though there’s the matter of Retro Hugos too. L.A. Con III (1996) would see his Destiny Times Three novel nominated and Millennium Philcon saw the “Coming Attraction” short story likewise. Another short story, “The Sunken Land”, got nominated at Worldcon 76 (2018). At Dublin 2019, where two of his novels were on the Retro Hugo ballot, Conjure Wife outpolled Gather, Darkness for Best Novel, while his “Thieves’ House” novelette was also a finalist.  

His last Retro Hugo was CoNZealand (2020) for Best Fan Writer. He’d also get a nomination that year for Best Related Work for The Works of H. P. Lovecraft: Suggestions for a Critical Appraisal.

(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born March 25, 1927 Sylvia Anderson. Film producer, writer, voice actress and costume designer, best known for her collaborations with husband Gerry Anderson on such Supermarionation series as ThunderbirdsSupercarFireball XL5 and Stingray. She was responsible for much of the actual shows and the characters on them, in particular creating the iconic characters of Lady Penelope and Parker in Thunderbirds. (Died 2016.)
  • Born March 25, 1920 Patrick Troughton. The Second Doctor, of course. Troughton had a long genre resume starting with Hamlet and Treasure Island early on before proceeding to such works as Scars of Dracula and Frankenstein and the Monster from Hell later on. Telly-wise, I see him on R.U.R. Radius playing a robot, on a Fifties Robin Hood show being that character, and later on in The Feathered Serpent, a children’s series set in pre-Columbian Mexico where he starred as the scheming High Priest Nasca. H’h (Died 1987.)
  • Born March 25, 1939 D. C. Fontana. You know that I’m not going to be able to give her complete précis here? She’s that complex a writer and producer, so I’m sticking to her writing side here. She’s first of all a script writer and story editor, best known for her work on the original Trek franchise but she was also involved on Logan’s RunThe Six Million Dollar Man, and Buck Rogers in the 25th Century. She was a story editor on the short-lived Fantastic Journey, and so many revisions made to her script for Battlestar Galactica’s “Gun on Ice Planet Zero” that her name is nowhere near it.  Oh, and she created the story that became “Encounter at Farpoint”. Impressive that. My absolute favorite work by her is “The War Prayer” episode for the first season of Babylon 5, based on a idea by Straczynski.  She even wrote an episode of the series Reboot! (Died 2019.)
  • Born March 25, 1942 Richard O’Brien, 80. He wrote The Rocky Horror Show forty-nine years ago which has remained in almost continuous production globally. He also co-wrote the screenplay of The Rocky Horror Picture Show film which came out just two years later. He appears in the film as Riff Raff. He’s in Casino Royale as a stunt performer and in the 1980 Flash Gordon as Fico. The Robin of Sherwood series had him in a recurring role as Gulnar. 
  • Born March 25, 1942 Jacqueline Lichtenberg, 80. She was nominated at the second DisCon for Best Fan Writer, the year Susan Wood won, and Neffy (National Fantasy Fan Federation Speculative Fiction Award) for Fan of the Year thirty-four years later. She’s written a number of Trek works and more fiction in the Sime/Gen ‘verse which I hadn’t known existed until now. If you’re so interested in the latter, she’s extremely well stocked at the usual suspects.
  • Born March 25, 1947 Paul Levinson, 75. “The Copyright Case” novelette would garner him a much deserved HOMer Award. It was the first work in a series of novels and short stories featuring the fascinating NYPD forensic detective Dr. Phil D’Amato who first appeared in Levinson’s “The Chronology Protection Case” novelette. You can purchase it from the usual digital sources.
  • Born March 25, 1964 Kate DiCamillo, 58. She is one of only six people to win two Newbery Medals for her novels The Tale of Despereaux and Flora & Ulysses. I’m not familiar with the latter work, but the former is a wonderful read that got turned into a remarkably good film as well, something that but rarely happens alas. 

(8) COMICS SECTION.

(9) PRINCE VALIANT ART. Nate D. Sanders Auctions is offering art from “The John Cullen Murphy Prince Valiant Estate” – bidding closes March 31.

We’re pleased to offer collectors nearly 400 lots of Prince Valiant artwork from the estate of John Cullen Murphy, the man handpicked by creator Hal Foster to continue Val’s epic journey of adventure, romance and bravery. Never before have so many lots of original Prince Valiant art been available at auction, ranging from preliminary sketches by Hal Foster, to full-page strips by John Cullen Murphy from the 1970s to 2000s. The result is a feast for the eyes and heart, the grand illustrations that Prince Valiant is known for, coupled with the characters and tales that have captivated millions of fans the world over.

(10) WHAT WAS THE NAME OF HIS OTHER LEG? (Come on, you’ve seen Mary Poppins, you don’t need the straight line.) “Why C-3PO Had a Silver Leg in the Original Star Wars Trilogy”CBR looks for the answer.

Over the decades, part of what has made the Star Wars franchise so interesting to its fans is the slew of questions that have arisen from the films. While some of them were answered in future movies and TV shows, others remained largely unanswered or unexplored in any form of media. However, that doesn’t mean that there may not be some history to it in some way, and a great example of that fact can be found in C-3PO’s silver leg from the Original Trilogy.

In an interview with Threepio actor Anthony Daniels, he explained the various changes and updates to his suits over the years and how they’ve adapted over time. For example, when he reached The Empire Strikes Back, he discussed how his shin was never gold but a shade of silver. While it was easy to see on the action figures, most of A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back made it far more challenging to see. But Daniels also explained some clever behind-the-scenes reasons as to why the leg appeared gold on camera….

(11) INHALE, EXHALE, CRUSH. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] I know it’s not SF-ish but I do like questions like this… “Why boa constrictors don’t suffocate when they squeeze their prey to death” at Science.

The fearsome boa constrictor (Boa constrictor) lives up to its name. Whenever it’s hungry, the 4-meter-long snake wraps itself around rodents, birds, or even pigs, literally squeezing the life out of them. So why don’t boas collapse their own lungs in the process?

To find out, scientists strapped a blood pressure cuff (like the one your doctor uses) around the midsections of eight boas in their lab…. 

(12) TOMBSTONE TERRITORY. This might be a spoilerCinemaBlend gives directions: “RIP James Bond: No Time To Die Fans Can Now Pay Their Respects To The Final Resting Place Of Daniel Craig’s 007”.

… Through the Guide to the Farroe Islands website, fans of Ian Fleming’s legendary creation can now book what’s being called “the official James Bond tombstone tour.” On this seven hour excursion, a guided tour will take participants through the sights and sounds of Kalsoy island, where No Time To Die filmed its sequences involving the evil lair of Rami Malek’s Safin. The main attraction is the very spot where James Bond stood in his last moments, as that is now the spot of a tombstone honoring the man himself….

(13) PHONE ON A LEASH. “Too Much Screen Time? Landline Phones Offer a Lifeline” reports the New York Times.

First came the rhinestone-encrusted rotary. Then the cherry-red lips. After that, the cheeseburger.

By last summer, Chanell Karr had amassed a collection of six landline phones. Her most recent, an orange corded model made as a promotional item for the 1986 film “Pretty in Pink,” was purchased in June. Though she only has one of them — a more subdued VTech phone — hooked up, all are in working order.

“During the pandemic I wanted to disconnect from all of the things that distract you on a smartphone,” said Ms. Karr, 30, who works in marketing and ticketing at a music venue near her home in Alexandria, Ky. “I just wanted to get back to the original analog ways of having a landline.”

Once a kitchen staple, bedside companion and plot device on sitcoms such as “Sex and the City” and “Seinfeld,” the landline phone has all but been replaced by its newer, smarter wireless counterpart….

(14) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In “Spider-Man–Best Picture Summary,” the three Spider-Men make fun of the Best Picture nominees.  With The Power Of The Dog, they say, “You want Dr. Strange acting like a jerk?  We have that!”

[Thanks to Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Melanie Stormm, Chris Barkley, Rob Thornton, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Bence Pintér, Andrew Porter, Michael Toman, and Cat Eldridge for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Xtifr.]

Pixel Scroll 3/22/22 Captain Pixel Versus The Winter Solstice

(1) GORINSKY OUT AT EREWHON. Erewhon Books announced today that its founder, Liz Gorinsky, is stepping down as Publisher.

We are grateful for Liz’s incredible work and vision as our Publisher and Founder, and we wish Liz the very best in all future endeavors. 

Senior Editor Sarah Guan will continue to guide Erewhon’s editorial program while leading the expansion of the editorial team in coming months.

Cassandra Farrin, (Director of Publishing and Production) and Martin Cahill (Marketing and Publicity Manager) will continue in their roles. 

Erewhon Books would like to take this time to recognize several new additions to the team:

Viengsamai Fetters (they/them) has joined the team as our new Editorial Assistant. 

Kasie Griffitts (she/her) has joined as our new Sales Associate.

Gorinsky tweeted:

Gorinsky also tweeted today:

(2) WRITER BEWARE HAS MOVED. Victoria Strauss explains the reason there is “A New Home For the Writer Beware Blog”.

… After many years on the Blogger platform, we have finally transitioned to WordPress, which offers much greater flexibility in terms of design, control, and ease of use.

We also have a new, easy to remember web address: writerbeware.blog.

I’ve been dissatisfied with Blogger for a while now. I’m not a web developer, but I’m not helpless, either; I maintain the Writer Beware website on the SFWA site, and I built and maintain two additional websites, my own and another for an organization my husband is part of. But every time I thought about moving to a new platform, the size of the challenge just seemed too daunting. How would I transfer hundreds of posts, not to mention the thousands of comments and images that go with them? What about all the non-working inbound links the move would create? Links wouldn’t be a problem if I just started fresh on a brand-new WordPress site–but then the blog would exist on two platforms, with two different web addresses. And what about WB’s thousands of followers and subscribers?

The turning point came last summer, when the only email subscription widget supported by Blogger discontinued service. If people couldn’t subscribe to the WB blog, there was just no reason to remain on Blogger…. 

(3) RESISTANCE. Eugen Bacon discusses the process of “Finding Me: Towards Self-Actualization in Writing” at the SFWA Blog.

I read Maurice Broaddus’s “Black Joy and Afrofuturism for Young Readers,” which heartens us to be present, fully and joyfully, not just for ourselves but for our children, our new adults, and our future generations. He dares that we find unapology for being, that ours becomes an everyday commitment to a joyful resistance against carefully charted devices of oppression.

That reading nudged an inward gaze at my own writing, and I saw its trajectory:

  • Please, let me…
  • I am Black…
  • I am here.

(4) SANDERSON KICKSTARTER. Checked the ticker on the Brandon Sanderson Kickstarter today. It is still spinning like mad, and flew past $31,759,250 while I was copying the number. Still nine days to go: “Surprise! Four Secret Novels by Brandon Sanderson by Dragonsteel Entertainment”.

(5) TAFF ITINERARY TENTATIVELY JELLING. Michael J. “Orange Mike” Lowrey will finally get his Trans-Atlantic Fan Fund trip this year. This is what he’s mapped out so far:

It looks like (unlike the “lost voyage” of 2020) Spain will not be part of my 2020/2022 TAFF delegate voyage. So:

Starting at the Eurocon/Luxcon, popping over to Poland for visits in a couple of places (Warsaw and Silesia), to England for Eastercon/Reclamation, from there to visit Sverifans in Uppsala and Malmö. If I haven’t overstayed my welcome in the U.K., I could return from Sweden and spend a few days in the U.K., maybe actually SEE Scotland and Scotfen in their native habitat? I don’t HAVE to be back in the States until 6 a.m. May 2….

(6) AIDING UKRAINE. Sales of Building a Better Future, edited by David Flin, will help raise money for charity. Contributing author Alex Wallace explains: “I am proud to say that a group of online alternate history fans (myself included) came together to put together an anthology, Building a Better Futureall proceeds of which go the British charity Disaster Emergency Commission’s Ukraine Humanitarian Aid Appeal. My short story Our Lady of Guidance, is among the stories therein.” 

Following the start of the tragic events in Ukraine, a group of historical writers on an Internet forum discussed what they could do to help. The feeling of helplessness in the face of the man-made tragedy was palpable. We considered many options, each less practical than the previous one.

Then, someone had an idea. We were writers. We should write a book, an anthology, with proceeds going to help with the rebuilding of Ukraine.

From that, things flowed quickly. The theme of rebuilding became adopted: “Building a Better Future.”

That’s what you’re holding in your hands. The product of a group of historical writers trying to do something to help the people of Ukraine.

(7) WHAT WAS YOUR NEXT IDEA? James Davis Nicoll ticks off “Five SFF Stories In Which the Best-Laid Plans Are Thwarted” at Tor.com.

Who among us has not been betrayed by the failure of a simple plan that should have worked? One sets out to collect firewood, only to be suddenly concussed; one tries to kill time with a round of cards, only to crush four of one’s own phalanges; one seeks the comfort of restful sleep, only wake with a mysterious deep incision down one’s abdomen. It’s not just me—this seems to be a perverse tendency of the universe: I see it in the news and I see it in what I read. Consider these five SFF tales in which plans are thwarted, foiled, and frustrated by circumstance…

(8) STAR TREK, THE NEXT REGENERATION. Another fun read, this time about how the sausage gets made: “‘Is This a Joke?’ How a Classic ‘Star Trek’ Episode Broke the Rules of the Franchise” in The Hollywood Reporter.

… Unfortunately, Braga was largely on his own when it came to the second most difficult thing about writing the episode: The briefing room scene. Here, Geordi (LeVar Burton) explains to his shipmates that they are caught in a very Trek-ian “temporal causality loop.” Ironically, Braga found himself in a time loop of his own, rewriting the scene over and over again.

“It was my first big ‘technobabble’ scene, so it couldn’t just sound cool. It had to sound plausible. It had to resolve all the clues that had been accumulating,” says Braga. “In addition to all the explaining, you have to bring your own voice to it, too. You try to pepper in some cool or shocking moments, like when Picard asks how long we have been in the loop and Geordi responds with something like ‘it could be years.’ But Piller had me rewrite that scene so many times. I remember over Christmas break of that year, I was working on that scene.”…

(9) I CAN TELL BY YOUR OUTFIT. At CrimeReads Matthew Lyons recommends horror novels set in the American West: “Black Sunset: New Essential Horror Reads from the American West”.

…Stories about the American West have always been rife with scares and horrors sure to delight and repulse even the most hardened of horror fans, from pulpy matinee fare like Billy the Kid Vs. Dracula to literary classics like Blood Meridian, but by taking what works and leaving what doesn’t, writers today are riding into the sunset with some of the most breathtaking and terrifying fiction in recent memory….

(10) WILLIAM A. JOHNSON (1956-2022.) Writing as Bill Johnson, he won a Hugo Award in 1998 for his novella, “We Will Drink a Fish Together” which was also a Nebula nominee. His stories were published in The Year’s Best Science Fiction several times. The family obituary is here.

(11) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

1995 [Item by Cat Eldridge.] Twenty-seven years ago on FOX, the Sliders series first aired on this evening. Created by Tracy Tormé and Robert K. Weiss, it would air on that network for three years before moving to Sci Fi for another two years. As a consequence of that it was first produced in Vancouver before being finally being so done in Los Angeles. 

Befitting a cross-time series,  it had an expansive cast led by the brothers of Jerry and Charlie  O’Connell along with Cleavant Derricks, Sabrina Lloyd, John Rhys-Davies, Kari Wuhrer, Robert Floyd and Tembi Locke with Derricks being the only cast member to stay with the series throughout its entire run.

There has also been gossip among Martin fans that this series was inspired by George R.R. Martin’s 1992 ABC pilot Doorways but everyone involved said that was not true. 

So how was the reception at the time? Not good. The Los Angeles Time was typical when it said “Now comes ‘Sliders,’ a banal bore of a mishmash adventure series starring Jerry O’Connell as a genius grad student named Quinn Mallory, who discovers a way to visit parallel Earths by whooshing himself through a space portal known as a ‘wormhole.’ It beats studying.”  

It does get a rather excellent sixty-four percent rating among audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes. 

(12) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born March 22, 1911 Raymond Z. Gallun. An early SF pulp writer who helped the genre to become popular. “Old Faithful” published in Astounding (December 1934) was his first story and led to a series of that name. “The Menace from Mercury,” a story published in the Summer 1932 issue of Wonder Stories Quarterly, was penned from a suggestion by Futurian John Michel and is considered famous among fans. His first published novel, People Minus X, didn’t appeared until 1957, followed by The Planet Strappers four years later. You can get all of his fiction at the usual suspects. (Died 1994.)
  • Born March 22, 1930 Stephen Sondheim. Several of his works were of a fantastical nature including Into The Woods which mines deeply both Brothers Grimm and Charles Perrault for its source material. And there’s Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street which is damn fun even if it isn’t genre. (Died 2021.) 
  • Born March 22, 1931 William Shatner, 91. Happy Birthday Bill! Ok that was short. We all know he was Captain Kirk, but how many of us watched him as Jeff Cable on the rather fun Barbary Coast series? I did. It was really, really bad acting on his part though. Or that he was The Storyteller in children’s series called A Twist of The Tale? I was I surprised to discover that T.J. Hooker ran for ninety episodes! 
  • Born March 22, 1946 Rudy Rucker, 76. He’s certainly best known for the Ware Tetralogy, the first two of which, Software and Wetware, each won the Philip K. Dick Award. Though not genre, I do recommend As Above, So Below: A Novel of Peter Bruegel.
  • Born March 22, 1950 Mary Tamm. She’s remembered for her role as Romana as the Companion to the Fourth Doctor in “The Key to Time” storyline. It seemed liked she was there longer only because another actress, Lalla Ward, played her in the following season and she looked a lot like her. Ward was soon to be married to Tom Baker.  She also appears briefly in the 20th Anniversary special The Five Doctors through the reuse of footage from the uncompleted story Shada that Douglas Adams wrote. Tamm had only one other genre gig as Ginny in the “Luau” story part of the Tales That Witness Madness film. (Died 2012.)
  • Born March 22, 1969 Alex Irvine, 53. I strongly recommend One King, One Soldier, his offbeat Arthurian novel, and The Narrows, about a WW II Detroit golem factory where fantasy tropes get a severe trouncing. A Scattering of Jades, which won a International Horror Guild Award, is well worth reading.  He also wrote The Vertigo Encyclopedia which was an in-house project so, as he told me back then, DC delivered him one copy of every Vertigo title they had sitting in the warehouse which was a lot.  For research purposes, of course. It came in a very, very large crate. And he’s written a fair number of comics, major and minor houses alike.  His newest novel, Anthropocene Rag, sounds very intriguing. Has anyone read it? 

(13) HE SAYS IT’S BUNK. “Hugh Who? Grant dismisses reports he will be the next Doctor” reports the Guardian.

… Grant had played the Doctor in a Comic Relief special in 1999. He was offered the role in 2004, but turned it down.

Whittaker announced in 2021 that she would not play the Doctor again after three special episodes due to air later this year, meaning a vacancy has arisen.

However, in response to a Guardian article about his potential new role, Grant tweeted: “Nothing against Dr W but I’m not. No idea where the story came from.”…

Filers were not shocked to learn that a news item that first appeared in the Mirror was cracked.

(14) THE GIRL WHO WASN’T WEDNESDAY. Entertainment Weekly reports “Christina Ricci joins Addams Family show Wednesday as new character”.

Immortal souls (and mortal ones too), rejoice! Christina Ricci has joined the cast of Wednesday, Netflix’s upcoming live-action series based on the beloved Addams Family character.

The actress, who played Wednesday Addams in the 1991 Addams Family film and its 1993 sequel, will portray an “exciting new character” this time around — in other words, not a grown-up Wednesday. Details are being kept under wraps, though we know Ricci will be a series regular….

(15) PORTAL OPENING AT PRIME. SlashFilm’s B.J. Colangelo marks her calendar: “J.K. Simmons-Led Sci-Fi Series Night Sky Sets May Release Date On Prime Video”.

After spending the last two years mostly staring at the same four walls and continuing to carve out a perfect bottom-shaped dent in my living room couch, there are few things that sound more appealing than getting the opportunity to explore the limitless possibilities of time and space. Starring J.K. Simmons and Sissy Spacek, Prime Video’s “Night Sky” (formerly known as “Lightyears”) features the duo as Franklin and Irene York, a couple who discover a passageway in their backyard that leads to a distant planet. The Yorks have enjoyed their secret for years, but when a mysterious young man (Chai Hansen of “The Newsreader” fame) arrives out of nowhere, the Yorks realize that their unexplainable passageway may be part of an even bigger mystery than they ever thought fathomable.

The new eight-part series will hit the Prime Video streaming platform globally on Friday, May 20, 2022. All eight episodes will be available simultaneously, so we can all spend our weekend binging J.K. Simmons and Sissy Spacek’s adventures through time and space….

(16) CONTINUED NEXT UNIVERSE. Guardian reviewer Charles Bramesco shares his mixed verdict on Michelle Yeoh’s new movie: “Everything Everywhere All At Once review – ambitious, exhausting trip to the multiverse”.

… Evelyn Wang (Michelle Yeoh, unstoppable), a Chinese American immigrant/laundromat owner/last hope for all existence, slingshots between realities with the raw kinetic energy of a boulder launched by a trebuchet. Sometimes, she need only open a door to find herself in another iteration of her life, or walk backward through bushes, or tap the Bluetooth-earpiece-looking gizmos an ally gives her. …

(17) ON STAGE. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In the Financial Times behind a paywall, Suzi Feay reviews After The End by Dennis Kelly, a post-apocalyptic play  performed at the Stratford East Theatre (“After The End” – Stratford East) through March 26.

“Very strong language, nudity…violence and sexual violence”–since there are only two characters in Dennis Kelly’s After The End, the caveats constitute spoilers.  Louise regains consciousness after a nuclear explosion to find herself safe in an underground bunker belonging to Mark, a work colleague.  Outside, she was popular and ambitious, and he was the office dolt:  dull, friendless, and pedantic.  No one more sociable would have built a fallout shelter to begin with.  They have two weeks to ensure each other before it’s safe to emerge.

Sweary Louise (a pugnacious Amaka Okafor) has never checked her social privilege; being forced to get along with someone she has hitherto despised may prove character-building.  Mark (Nick Blood), thrilled at his unexpected access to the office princess, chivalrously takes the top bunk but his obsequiousness turns sour over a fraught game of Dungeons and Dragons.  Locked within four oppressive walls, their makeshift alliance of hobbit and elf disintegrates into a battle for control.

(18) SOUTH BY SOUTHWEST. Jeff Foust reviews “Space films at SXSW” for The Space Review.

…This year’s SXSW saw space make its way into the film festival as well. Several films screened at SXSW had links to space, from documentaries to movies that took some inspiration from spaceflight.

The most prominent of those movies was Apollo 10½: A Space Age Childhood, directed by Richard Linklater (Before SunriseBoyhoodDazed and Confused, among others.) The movie is a semi-autobiographical account of Linklater’s own childhood in Houston, not far from NASA’s Manned Spacecraft Center (now Johnson Space Center) in the summer of 1969. The film uses rotoscope animation, like some of Linklater’s previous movies, making it appear like some hybrid of reality and imagination….

(19) C’EST OINK. ToughPigs asks “Did ‘Muppets TV’ Save The Muppets?”

…In 2005 French comedian Sébastien Cauet and French television network TF1 made a deal with The Walt Disney Company which would allow Cauet to write and produce his own version of The Muppet Show, as well as supply the voice of Kermit the Frog for the series. Rather than send the puppeteers to France, the puppets themselves were instead packed up and shipped off, and a team of French puppeteers would perform them instead, later being dubbed by voice actors.

Yeah. They made that. And not just a one episode thing, this abomination lasted TEN EPISODES! That’s way more than the three that Little Muppet Monsters got on the air!

Thanks to YouTube, we have a few clips of Muppets TV available, which I’ll admit I oddly enjoyed, even though I don’t speak the language (besides saying Bonjour and singing the theme song to ‘Madeline’)….

(12) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In “Honest Game Trailers:  Horizon Forbidden West,” Fandom Games, in a spoiler-filled episode, says that gamers have to complete “the usual Excel sheet of objectives” for a game that’s ultimately “a child’s fantasy about robot dinosaurs.”  “At least they get robots in their apocalypse,” the narrator complains. “What do we get? Twitter!”

[Thanks to Andrew Porter, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, Will R., Michael J. “Orange Mike” Lowrey, Cathy Green, Steven French, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Peer.]

Pixel Scroll 3/18/22 When A Pixel’s Not Engaged In Its Enscrollment

(1) BIG GREEN NUMBERS. Brandon Sanderson shares a lot of information about his successful Kickstarter and his progress on other projects in “Some FAQs You Might Enjoy”. Also includes a long analysis of Amazon’s effect on his business.

How Are You Going to Spend the Money?

I got this question from the journalist from the Associated Press who interviewed me.  He gave an excellent interview, and we had a really great conversation.  But this question stopped me for a moment.  It’s a valid question, but it took me by surprise, as I haven’t been looking at this the way that some people seem to be.  I didn’t hit the lottery, any more than any other business hits the lottery when they have a product that connects with their market.

I will spend the money as I spend the rest of my money.  Part into savings, part into paying salaries (along with nice extra bonuses because the Kickstarter did well), part reinvested into the company.  (We’re still planning on building a physical bookstore, and this will help accelerate those plans.  Also, it’s not outside of reason that as I move into doing more film and TV, I will want to partially fund some of the projects.)

While this Kickstarter is an incredible event, and (don’t get me wrong) is going to earn me a good chunk of money, it’s going to be comparable to other projects I’ve done.  Also, don’t underestimate how much money it costs to maintain the infrastructure (like a warehouse–or in this case, probably more than one) it takes to be able to ship several hundred thousand books.  It will likely be years before we can be certain how much this actually earned us after all expenses.  More than we’d get from New York on the same books, but potentially not that much more.

That said, I will almost certainly buy myself some nice Magic cards.  Still have a few unlimited duals in my cube that could use an upgrade to black border.

Did You Anticipate This Level of Success for the Kickstarter?

I did not.  I knew the potential was there, but I didn’t think it (getting to this astronomical number of backers) would happen.

My guess was that we’d land somewhere in the 2–4 million range, though I really had no idea.  My team can attest to the fact that in the lead-up, I was very conservative in my estimates and expectations.  This was an experiment from us that I’d been wanting to try for a while.  (I’ll talk more about that below.)  I didn’t have any idea how well it would go.

…How many of those potential 250k–800k people who normally buy a Sanderson book in the first year could be convinced instead to move and preorder it through Kickstarter?  Our guesses, it turned out, were way low.  But at the same time, it is interesting that (not disregarding our huge success, which I’m not at all complaining about) even this huge Kickstarter breaking all records is only grabbing a fraction of my normal audience.  So maybe you can see why we knew we had potential, but were conservative in our estimates. … 

There is also much inside baseball about what indie authors have to face:

…These days, according to some of my indie author friends, you have to spend a great deal to sell on Amazon.  Not everyone’s experience is the same, but I hear this time and time again.  To make it as an indie author, you need to shell out for expensive advertising on the very website selling your books.  I have indie author friends who are spending a good portion of their income on these advertisements–and if they don’t, their sales vanish.  Amazon has effectively created a tax where indie authors pay back a chunk of that glorious 70% royalty to Amazon.  (And this is for the authors lucky enough to be allowed to buy those advertising spots, and therefore have the chance at selling.)….

…Regardless, this has been bothering me for over a decade.  I feel that the current system has a gun to my head.  Heck, all that has to happen is for someone at Amazon read this blog post or see my Kickstarter and decide they just want to make an example out of me.  Poof.  85% of my sales gone.  And while some people might go to another vendor to get my books, the painful truth is that many would not.  Time and time again, studies of contemporary tech media consumption have shown that the person who controls the platform is the one who controls the market. …

(2) MAIL CALL. In “An Open Letter to the 2022 Hugo Finalists, Whoever They May Be”, Cora Buhlert once again shares her experience and advice.

… Right now, no one except for possibly the Hugo administrators knows who those finalists will be. However, sometime in the next two weeks or so, some of you will receive an e-mail from Chicon 8, informing you that you are a finalist for the 2022 Hugo Award and asking you whether you want to accept the nomination. Some of you will have received such e-mails before, for others it will be the first time.

But whether it’s your first or your twentieth nomination, congratulations! That’s awesome.

As a first time recipient of such an e-mail in 2020, here are a few things I’ve learned…

(3) UNIVERSE WILL KEEP EXPANDING. Sharon Lee’s biggest news in “Liaden Universe® Updates” is that she and Steve Miller have accepted an additional three book contract with Baen for Liaden novels.

…The contract’s call-name is Traveler’s Trio, and we have no idea where those novels will take us, yet, but we do have delivery dates.  Those are:

Traveler’s Trio ONE:  September 2024
Traveler’s Trio TWO:  September 2025
Traveler’s Trio THREE:  September 2026

Note A:  In September 2026, I will be 74 years old.  Steve will have celebrated his 76th birthday three months prior.  This by way of reassuring those folks who have been worrying about our retirement that, err — writers don’t retire.  At least, writers at our level of the game don’t retire.

Here ends the Updatery.

(4) GUNN CENTER EVENTS. The Gunn Center for the Study of SF has posted the selections and dates for the next several meetings of their virtual book club, and another event. Zoom info and further details at the links. 

Discussion of Colson Whitehead’s first novel, The Intuitionist. This choice anticipates Whitehead’s visit to Lawrence for the Paper Plains Literary Festival in early April! https://www.paperplains.org

Discussion of Angelline Boulley’s young adult thriller, Firekeeper’s Daughter. More aligned with conversations about Indigenous belief systems and spirituality than conventional science fiction; also in anticipation of the Paper Plains festival. Co-sponsored with Haskell Indian Nations University, KU’s First Nations Student Association, and others. Teens welcome!

Discussion of Franny Choi’s Soft Science. In celebration of National Poetry Month!

  • Friday, MAY 20th* @ noon (CT) – [no link yet] Discussion of Sarah Pinsker’s Two Truths and a Lie

Winner of the 2021 Nebula Award & 2021 Hugo Award for Best Novelette. (*) Please note that this is not the last Friday of the month, which falls on Memorial Day Weekend.

(5) ARE THEY TALKING ABOUT YOU? The Silmarillion Writers’ Guild seeks the meaning of it all in “A Sudden Outcry: The Tolkien Estate and Fanworks”.

…When the Tolkien Estate recently presented their newly revamped website, it did not take fans long to see past the new artwork and other features to find that the Tolkien Estate has a policy on fanworks. The past several days have seen a whirl of discussion about what it all means that can be distilled down to a single burning question:

Did the Tolkien Estate just ban fanworks?

In short, no, the Tolkien Estate did not just ban fanworks. The fanworks you have posted, are in the middle of creating, or are even thinking about creating are not affected by what the Estate says on their website.

The longer answer depends on if you’re interested in the just or the ban part of that question (or maybe both!). While the following is not legal advice, we hope it will lessen the worry that the existence of fanworks is in jeopardy.  As always, bear in mind that laws vary from country to country. If you have specific concerns, the Organization for Transformative Works’ legal committee, while unable to give legal advice, can answer questions you might have.

The article contains an extensive history of the Estate’s policies towards fanworks. The writers come to this paradoxical conclusion:

…The Tolkien Estate is anti-fanwork and always has been. For all that the “other minds and hands” quote gets tossed about by fans eager to believe that Tolkien would have condoned their activities, Tolkien himself was anti-fanwork when it came to his books,2 unless it was something that he liked. This has neither changed nor prevented Tolkien fanworks from being made in the almost seven decades since The Lord of the Rings was published…

(6) OMELAS. The Unofficial Hugo Book Club Blog tweeted a crusher yesterday. There are nine tweets in the thread, which starts here.

(7) THE SAND OF MUSIC. Hans Zimmer tells Vanity Fair about the score for Dune in a video that dropped today: “How ‘Dune’ Composer Hans Zimmer Created the Oscar-Nominated Score”.

“Something I wanted to always do. Invent instruments that don’t exist. Invent sounds that don’t exist.” Hans Zimmer, ‘Dune’ composer, gives his in-depth analysis and insider’s look at how the score was created for Denis Villeneuve’s 2021 film.

(8) MORE FROM DISCON III. Morgan Hazelwood posted her notes from the DisCon III panel “Ask An Editor: Longform Writing” with participants George Jreije, Katherine Crighton, Navah Wolfe, and Trevor Quachri, plus Joshua Bilmes as moderator. (The material is also presented in a YouTube video.)

The description for this panel was as follows:

What makes a good novel? How do you know it’s ready? Where should you send it and how should you respond to comments? This is your chance to ask burning questions to a panel of respected agents and editors.

(9) EATING THE FANTASTIC. Scott Edelman invites listeners to share deep-fried wontons with Library of Congress curator Sara Duke in episode 167 of the Eating the Fantastic podcast.

Sara Duke

Library of Congress curator Sara Duke and I were supposed to have lunch two years ago, way back in March of 2020, but then … something happened. I suspect you can guess what that something was. We finally managed to break bread — or rather, share Pad See Ew — last week at D.C.’s Young Chow Chinese restaurant.

Sara Duke has been at the Library of Congress for more than 30 years, the past 23 as the curator of Popular and Applied Graphic Art in the Prints and Photographs Division. She’s in charge of cartoons, documentary drawings, and ephemera. Starting with Blondie Gets Married in 2000, she’s been responsible for curating many exhibits relating to popular culture, including Comic Art: 120 Years of Panels and Pages, and most recently, Geppi’s Gems.

We discussed the first piece of artwork she longed to get her hands on after a 13-month pandemic absence, our joint loathing of slabbed comics, the misconceptions many people have about the Library of Congress, the things most people no longer remember about Blondie, her comic book exhibit cancelled by COVID, the serendipitous way a PhD in 17th century Irish history led to her becoming a curator, her early (and continuing) love of MAD magazine, and much more.

(10) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

1981 [Item by Cat Eldridge] On this evening forty-one years ago, the show that Warner Bros. sued for copyright infringement in Warner Bros. Inc. v. American Broadcasting Companies, Inc. premiered on ABC. The Greatest American Hero starred William Katt as teacher Ralph Hinkley in a suit that allowed him to fly and which looked sort of like that Super-Hero. The Court ruled, “as a matter of law, The Greatest American Hero’ is not sufficiently similar to the fictional character Superman.” 

It was created by producer Stephen J. Cannell and was his only genre undertaking.

The rest of the regular cast consisted of just Robert Culp as FBI agent Bill Maxwell and Connie Sellecca as lawyer Pam Davidson. ABC wasn’t going to deal with a bloated salary line here.  Culp of course had been Kelly Robinson on I Spy, but more importantly was in The Outer Limits episode “Demon with a Glass Hand”, written by Harlan Ellison. Sellecca played Pamela Edwards in a recurring role in the Beyond Westworld series.

It would last three seasons and have a proper conclusion in which the story was wrapped up. That conclusion lead to the pilot for another series which was not picked up by another network. A reboot with a female lead was in the works at ABC several years back but not even a pilot was shot.

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born March 18, 1888 Alexander Leydenfrost. As an illustrator, he briefly worked for Planet Stories before being signed by Life magazine where the money was better. But his quite brief tenure at Planet Stories is credited with the creation of the enduring cliche Bug Eyed Monster as that’s what his illustrations showed. (Died 1961.)
  • Born March 18, 1926 Peter Graves. Star of Mission Impossible and the short lived Australian-based Mission Impossible, which if you not seen it you should as it’s damn good. I’m reasonably certain his first genre role was on Red Planet Mars playing Chris Cronyn. Later roles included Gavin Lewis on The Invaders, Major Noah Cooper on Buck Rogers in the 25th Century, Doug Paul Martin in Killers from Space and Paul Nelson on It Conquered the World. It’s worth noting that a number of his films are featured on the Mystery Science Theater 3000 series. (Died 2010.)
  • Born March 18, 1932 John Updike. It might surprise you to learn that there are two Eastwick novels, The Witches of Eastwick and The Widows of Eastwick, the latter set some three decades after the first novel ended. No idea what it’s like as I’ve never heard of it. He wrote a number of other genre friendly novels including The CentaurBrazil and Toward the End of Time. (Died 2009.)
  • Born March 18, 1950 J.G. Hertzler, 72. He’s best known for his role on Deep Space Nine as the Klingon General (and later Chancellor) Martok. He co-authored with Jeff Lang, Left Hand of Destiny, Book 1, and Left Hand of Destiny, Book 2, which chronicle the life of his character. His very TV first role was a genre one, to wit on Quantum Leap sac Weathers Farrington in the  “Sea Bride – June 3, 1954” episode. Setting aside DS9, he’s been in ZorroHighlanderThe Adventures of Brisco County, Jr.Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of SupermanLois & Clark: The New Adventures of SupermanCharmedRoswell and Enterprise series;  for film genre work, I see The Redeemer: Son of SatanTreasure Island: The Adventure Begins and Prelude to Axanar (yet another piece of fanfic). In addition, he’s done a lot of video game voice acting, the obvious Trek work but such franchises as BioShock 2The Golden Compass and Injustice: Gods Among Us.
  • Born March 18, 1959 Luc Besson, 63. Oh, The Fifth Element, one of my favorite genre films. There’s nothing about it that I don’t like. I’ve not seen Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets and comments leave me disinclined to do so. The Transporter is not genre but I recommend it as a great film none the less.
  • Born March 18, 1960 Richard Biggs. Another way too young death on Babylon 5 as he appeared as Dr. Stephen Franklin, reprising the role in the final aired episode of Crusade, “Each Night I Dream of Home”. Other genre roles included playing Roger Garrett on Tremors, Hawkes In The Alien Within, An Unnamed Reporter on Beauty and the Beast,  Dr. Thomson on an episode of The Twilight Zone and a Process Server in an episode of The Magical World of Disney.  (Died 2004.)
  • Born March 18, 1961 James Davis Nicoll, 61. A freelance game and genre reviewer. A first reader for SFBC as well. Currently he’s a blogger on Dreamwidth and Facebook, and an occasional columnist on Tor.com. In 2014, he started his website, jamesdavisnicoll.com, which is dedicated to his book reviews of works old and new; and which later added the highly entertaining Young People Read Old SFF, where that group reads and comments on prior-to-Eighties SF and fantasy.

(12) SENDING UP DISNEY. “This Young Artist Successfully Wows Disney Fans With Hilarious Disney Fanarts” at Aubtu.

Disney fans tend to redraw Disney characters with their unique ideas, but Jorge D. Espinosa has taken it to another level. As a talented artist, Jorge has recreated several famous Disney characters with different settings. They can be about Aurora’s hangover or Jasmine as a dancer enjoying Beyonce’s song. There is no doubt that these unique and funny drawings can make even The Beast laugh….

(13) IDIOMATIC ACCESSION. I need one of these. Don’t I? Archie McPhee’s “Murder of Crows”.

(14) SQUEEZING OUT THE WATER. James Davis Nicoll tells Tor.com readers about “Five Wonderfully Concise SFF Books”.

Olden-time SF authors, limited as they were to pen and paper, typewriters, and other now archaic methods of production, and trying to sell to markets uninterested in purchasing lengthy works, often delivered works that seem startlingly concise and to the point by modern standards. There’s nothing like not having a choice to urge people to make the right choices.

However, even in this age of word processing software and publisher enthusiasm for meandering series of enormous story-fragments, there are authors who deliver short, effective books that contain within them all of the necessary narrative elements. They even include that most elusive ingredient—an actual ending. Consider these five comparatively recent examples of books that are wonderfully short and to the point….

(15) THAT OTHER JAMES. ScienceAlert says “Webb Just Sent Back Its First-Ever Sharp Image of a Star, And It’s Breathtaking”.

…To demonstrate its capabilities, Webb focused on a single star, named 2MASS J17554042+6551277, more commonly known as TYC 4212-1079-1.

This bright object, around 2,000 light-years away, is just over 16 times intrinsically brighter than the Sun – a nice, clear target for Webb. A red filter was used to optimize visual contrast; and, although the telescope was just looking at the star, its instruments are so sensitive that background stars and galaxies can also be seen.

“We have fully aligned and focused the telescope on a star, and the performance is beating specifications. We are excited about what this means for science,” said Ritva Keski-Kuha, deputy optical telescope element manager for Webb at NASA Goddard….

(16) PARADOX RESOLVED. “Scientists claim hairy black holes explain Hawking paradox” reports BBC News. I have nothing to say about that headline at all.

Scientists say they have solved one of the biggest paradoxes in science first identified by Prof Stephen Hawking.

He highlighted that black holes behave in a way that puts two fundamental theories at odds with each other.

Black holes are dead stars that have collapsed and have such strong gravity that not even light can escape.

New research claims to have resolved the paradox by showing that black holes have a property which they call “quantum hair”….

(17) ONCE MORE INTO THE BREACH, DEAR FRIENDS. “’Muppets Mayhem’ Series a Go at Disney+”The Hollywood Reporter has the story.

Disney+ is taking another swing at a Muppets TV series.

The streamer, following a lengthy development process, has handed out a series order to comedy The Muppets Mayhem, with Lilly Singh set to star.

The comedy will follow the Electric Mayhem Band as it records its first-ever album. Singh will star as the human lead, Nora, the junior A&R executive who is tasked with managing and wrangling the band that originally debuted in the pilot for The Muppet Show in 1975. (Watch the band’s debut below.) Sources say the 10-episode comedy will begin filming in April.

The series — which will feature Dr. Teeth, Animal, Floyd Pepper, Janice, Zoot and Lips — is described as a music-filled journey in which the 45-year-old band comes face to face with the current-day music scene as they attempt to go platinum….

(18) ALIEN SCHOOL. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] Or, how to be a Thermian in six “easy“ lessons. 

Digg.com has, um, dug up a short docu-feature on how the Thermans came to be so wonderfully quirky in Galaxy Quest. It’s a Class A lesson in the collaborative nature of filmmaking – where the screenwriter, director, actors, and everyone else contribute to what is eventually seen on the screen.

The singsongy, pitchy, sound of the aliens was originated by character actor Enrico Colantoni, who absolutely nailed his audition for the Thermian leader when he broke out that voice. Then they had to develop the walk, their native speech when the translator box breaks, and mannerisms for all sorts of situations. And the whole alien ensemble had to nail all of it. 

Just watch the video. You’ll love it. 

[Thanks to Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Dr. Giselle Anatol, Steve Miller, Danny Sichel, Andrew Porter, Michael Toman, and Cat Eldridge for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]

Pixel Scroll 3/17/22 If You Can’t Handle Me At My Pixel, You Don’t Deserve Me At My Scroll

(1) PLEASE, MAY I HAVE SOME MORE? “Editorial Resignations At Big Houses Spark Reckoning” reports Publishers Lunch. Of the four departed editors, one worked for Tor and two for Orbit.

Multiple resignations from the editorial departments at two big houses caused an online reckoning on Friday. Four editors, Angeline Rodriguez and Hillary Sames at Orbit, Erin Siu at Macmillan Children’s, and Molly McGhee at Tor all announced their resignations, leading to a discussion about the workload of junior and mid-level employees and the difficulty of advancement across the industry. The online exchange brought into the open the frustrations of increased workload, burnout and turnover that have been brewing as the pandemic continues. Those feelings are intensified as big publishers report record sales and earnings, even as multiple people report on Twitter they believe their employers are not sufficiently reinvesting those proceeds in additional staff, systems and raises.

At the heart of the discussion was McGhee’s resignation letter which she posted on Twitter….

McGhee’s interview with the New York Times ran under the headline “When Will Publishing Stop Starving Its Young?”

… On March 11, McGhee joined a group of junior and midlevel employees who exited the publishing industry, blaming low pay, unrealistic workloads and burnout. For context: It is extremely difficult, if not impossible, to live in or near New York City (epicenter of bookmaking) on an entry-level publishing salary. Add school loans, subtract a second job or additional subsidy and you risk being factored out of a career in letters before the ink on your college diploma has had a chance to dry.

“As some of you may have heard, today is my last day at Tor Books,” McGhee wrote in the resignation letter she shared on Twitter. “My promotion request was denied, and as such I am leaving as my first acquisition (the marvelous THE ATLAS SIX by Olivie Blake) debuts at number three on The New York Times Bestsellers List.” She goes on, “Making the NYT is a career high for an editor. It is rare for an assistant to do so and, by all accounts, this should be ‘a great beginning’ and not a heartbreaking end.”

McGhee also cites “the invisibility of the junior employee’s workload” as one of her reasons for leaving Tor. As Blake writes in her novel, “We are the gods of our own universes, aren’t we?” Indeed we are. But gods cannot live on ramen alone….

The text of McGhee’s March 11 message follows:

(2) ESA AND ROSCOSMOS BREAKUP. The European Space Agency has suspended the ExoMars rover after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The ESA ruling council “acknowledged the present impossibility of carrying out the ongoing cooperation with Roscosmos on the ExoMars rover mission with a launch in 2022” – “ESA – ExoMars suspended”.

As an intergovernmental organisation mandated to develop and implement space programmes in full respect with European values, we deeply deplore the human casualties and tragic consequences of the aggression towards Ukraine. While recognising the impact on scientific exploration of space, ESA is fully aligned with the sanctions imposed on Russia by its Member States.

ExoMars

ESA’s ruling Council, meeting in Paris on 16-17 March, assessed the situation arising from the war in Ukraine regarding ExoMars, and unanimously:

  • acknowledged the present impossibility of carrying out the ongoing cooperation with Roscosmos on the ExoMars rover mission with a launch in 2022, and mandated the ESA Director General to take appropriate steps to suspend the cooperation activities accordingly;
  • authorised the ESA Director General to carry out a fast-track industrial study to better define the available options for a way forward to implement the ExoMars rover mission.

Space Transportation

Following the decision by Roscosmos to withdraw their personnel from Europe’s Spaceport in French Guiana, all missions scheduled for launch by Soyuz have been put on hold. These concern essentially four institutional missions for which ESA is the launch service procurement entity (Galileo M10, Galileo M11, Euclid and EarthCare) and one additional institutional launch.

Consequently, the ESA Director General has initiated an assessment on potential alternative launch services for these missions, which will include  a review of the Ariane 6 first exploitation flights.  A robust launch manifest for ESA missions’ launch needs, including for spacecraft originally planned for launch by Soyuz from Kourou, will be submitted to Member States.   

Likewise, “Russia’s War in Ukraine Threatens Joint Missions to Mars, Venus and the Moon” reports Scientific American.

… The strife is impacting otherworldly missions as well: Consider Russia’s nascent Venera-D mission, a proposed orbiter and lander meant to blast off for Venus in 2029. The U.S. had been considering allowing NASA to collaborate on Venera-D, perhaps by contributing scientific instruments. But, citing retaliatory sanctions, Russia’s space leadership deemed continued U.S. participation in the project “inappropriate.”…

(3) RUNAWAY SUCCESS. Brandon Sanderson’s record-breaking Kickstarter, “Surprise! Four Secret Novels by Brandon Sanderson by Dragonsteel Entertainment”, had raised $29,710,529 when I checked today. With 14 days remaining it will obviously break $30 million and then some.

(4) MS. PRESIDENT. “Stacey Abrams makes surprise appearance on Star Trek as president of Earth”Yahoo! has the story.

Stacey Abrams just boldly went where no Georgia gubernatorial candidate has gone before.

Abrams, the Georgia politician who’s running for governor of the state this year, had a surprise cameo in the latest episode of Star Trek: Discovery, appearing as the president of United Earth.

A scene at the end of the season four finale, “Coming Home,” introduces the United Earth president, and Abrams gets several lines, announcing that “United Earth is ready right now to rejoin the Federation, and nothing could make me happier than to say those words.” She also has a discussion with Discovery‘s main character, Michael Burnham (Sonequa Martin-Green), about Earth rejoining the Federation, and this scene closes the episode….

(5) MOFFAT’S NEXT SHOW. “The Time Traveler’s Wife shares trailer for new Steven Moffat series”Radio Times sets the frame.

Sky has released the official teaser trailer for Steven Moffat’s adaptation of The Time Traveler’s Wife, which will air on Sky Atlantic and NOW in May.

… The six-episode series is the second major adaptation of Audrey Niffenegger’s popular novel of the same name, following the 2009 film starring Rachel McAdams and Eric Bana, once again telling the story of a marriage that threatens to be torn apart by time travel. Alongside Leslie and James, the cast also includes Desmin Borges, Natasha Lopez, Kate Seigel and Michael Park.

Of course, it’s not Moffat’s first time dealing with time travel – following his hugely successful stint as Doctor Who showrunner between 2009 and 2017 – but he’s been on record to explain that the two shows share little in common beyond that superficial similarity.

(6) I’VE SEEN THAT FACE BEFORE. [Item by Olav Rokne.] Well, this will certainly be out of the price range of us mere mortals… Virgil Finlay’s “Portrait of Robert A. Heinlein” will be up for auction on April 15. “This lot is accompanied by a letter signed by the artist and dated August 5, 1953.”

(7) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

2006 [Item by Cat Eldridge] Doctor Who ended back in 1989 when the Seventh Doctor as played by Sylvester McCoy had his final story, “Survival.” No indication was given beforehand that the show was being cancelled. 

A year after the BBC revived by the show in the UK, Doctor Who returned in the U.S. “Rose” was broadcast in the States on March 17, an episode named for the Billie Piper character who was the first modern companion. Christopher Eccleston played the Ninth Doctor.  Briefly. Note that there is no regeneration scene here. Of course as we know there were other Doctors between the Seventh Doctor and this Doctor. Indeed the numbering is suspect, isn’t it? 

So how was the reception for this new Who? The New York Times liked it: “In most previous versions of the show, so little was going on between the Doctor and his female companions that fans took to making up sex scenes on the Internet, much the way ‘X-Files’ buffs tried to fantasize a little action between Scully and Mulder. But between the Doctor and Rose there is genuine, old-fashioned chemistry, and their interaction, which occasionally takes on the aspect of screwball comedy, is much the best thing in the show.” 

And Radio Times succinctly put it, “Think big. Think bold. Think fantastic! For the very first time, Doctor Who achieves a perfect blend of big screen and small screen.”

Season One over at Rotten Tomatoes holds a near perfect ninety-six percent rating among audience reviewers. 

The entire new series is streaming on HBO Max. The older series is on a number of streaming services of a British nature.

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born March 17, 1846 Kate Greenaway. Victorian artist and writer, largely known today for her children’s book illustrations. So popular was she and her work that the very popular Kate Greenaway Almanacks appeared every year from 1883 to 1895. Among her best-known works was her edition of Robert Browning’s The Pied Piper of Hamelin, Rosa Mulholland’s Puck and Blossom and Bret Harte’s Pirate Isle. (Died 1901.)
  • Born March 17, 1906 Brigitte Helm. German actress, Metropolis. Her first role as an actress, she played Maria and her double, the Maschinenmensch, plus several uncredited roles as well.  She’s got some other genre credits including L’Atlantide (The Mistress of Atlantis) and Alraune (Unholy Love). Her later films would be strictly in keeping with the policies of the Nazis with all films being fiercely anti-capitalist and antisemitic. (Died 1996.)
  • Born March 17, 1945 Tanya Lemani, 77. Iranian-born actress who is one of the victims of Star Trek’s “Wolf in the Fold” as the dancer Kara. She has appeared on the original Fantasy IslandGet Smart, I Dream of Jeannie, The Bionic Woman, and The Man from U.N.C.L.E. in one-offs.
  • Born March 17, 1933 Penelope Lively, 89. I’ve actually mentioned her before as Catherine Butler did a work in part on her, Four British fantasists: place and culture in the children’s fantasies of Penelope Lively, Alan Garner, Diana Wynne Jones, and Susan Cooper. She’s here because I’m very fond of one of her novels, The Wild Hunt of Hagworthy, having a great liking for fiction about that story. She’s won the Booker Prize for Moon Tiger and the Carnegie Medal for British children’s books for The Ghost of Thomas Kempe.
  • Born March 17, 1941 Paul Kantner. A founder of Jefferson Airplane which would become Jefferson Starship. The Dragonfly album, particularly “All Fly Away” and “Hyperdrive” is very genre as well as much of the Jefferson Airship output is genre. “Hyperdrive” would be used in the opening ceremonies at MidAmeriCon (1976). (Died 2016.)
  • Born March 17, 1947 James Morrow, 75. Author of the most awesome Godhead trio whose first novel, Towing Jehovah, won a Nebula and a World Fantasy Award and was nominated for a Hugo at Intersection. I’m also impressed by The Last Witchfinder as it’s told by a sentient book, Isaac Newton’s Principia Mathematica
  • Born March 17, 1948 William Gibson, 74. I’ve read the Sprawl trilogy more times than I can remember and likewise the Bridge trilogy and The Difference Engine. He won a Hugo at Aussiecon Two for Neuromancer, his only such win, though he had other nominations including for the other two novels in the Sprawl trilogy.
  • Born March 17, 1951 Kurt Russell, 71. I know I saw Escape from New York on a rainy summer night in a now century-old Art Deco theatre which wasn’t the one I later saw Blade Runner in. I think it’s much better than Escape from L.A. was. Of course there’s Big Trouble in Little China, my favorite film with him in it. And let’s not forget Tombstone. Not genre, you say. Maybe not, but it’s damn good and he’s fantastic in it.

(9) COMICS SECTION.

(10) YOU BE THE JUDGE. All Squaxx dek Thargo may want to know there’s going to be a “Star-studded online convention to celebrate 45 years of 2000 AD”. It’s free and happening on March 26-27.

Featuring celebrity fans and legendary creators, The Galaxy’s Greatest will stream online and for free on 26 and 27 March on 2000 AD’s social media channels and YouTube, and Rebellion’s dedicated Twitch stream.

The two-day show will feature top flight guests on more than a dozen panels, all discussing the impact of 2000 AD on comics and culture over almost half a century, as well as announcements and new merchandise.

… The event will throw a spotlight on the people who have helped make 2000 AD the galaxy’s greatest comic, with creators both new and legendary sharing their stories and insights on the comics-making process — including a feature interview with the co-creator of Judge Dredd and Strontium Dog, John Wagner, as well as panels with Garth Ennis (The BoysPreacher), Rob Williams (Suicide Squad), Alex de Campi (Archie vs Predator), Sean Phillips (Criminal), Anna Morozova (Judge Anderson), John McCrea (Hitman), Dan Cornwell (Rok of the Reds), Aleš Kot (Zero), and more to be announced.

The next 45 years of 2000 AD will also be discussed with owners and publishers Chris Kingsley OBE and Jason Kingsley OBE, and current editor Matt Smith – now the longest serving editor in 2000 AD history….

(11) SQUELCH THAT RUMOR. Radio Times eavesdrops while “Catherine Tate addresses Doctor Who return rumours”.

…The Donna Noble star has been heavily linked with a return to the sci-fi show in recent months, with rumours that she might rejoin the cast for the upcoming 60th anniversary special.

And she addressed those rumours during an appearance on The One Show to promote her new film The Nan Movie, telling Jermaine Jenas that she “probably started a lot of them” herself.

“What can I tell you? No, I wish it was [true],” she said. “Well, no one’s been in touch.”

But she added: “I’m on the same number, I’d just like to say. So, if you’ve got the money, I’ve got the time.”

(12) OCTOTHORPE.  John Coxon has COVID, Alison Scott wanted to do a podcast, and Liz Batty had no better offers. So it’s a short episode of the hosts answering Cora Buhlert’s questions. Listen to Octothorpe 53  here: “It Was John’s Idea”.

(13) BREAKFAST IS SERVED ON ARRAKIS. The New York Times was initiated into “The Secret Sounds of ‘Dune’: Rice Krispies and Marianne Faithfull”.

…We were at Zuma Beach on the kind of warm March afternoon that New York readers would surely prefer I not dwell on, and Villeneuve’s Oscar-nominated sound editors Mark Mangini and Theo Green were nearby, pouring cereal into the sand. This wasn’t meant to provoke any sea gulls; Mangini and Green wanted to demonstrate the sound-gathering techniques they used to enliven Arrakis, the desert planet where the “Dune” hero Paul Atreides (Timothée Chalamet) discovers his destiny.

 “One of the most compelling images in the film is when Paul first steps foot onto the planet,” Mangini said. Since the sand on Arrakis is laced with “spice,” a valuable and hallucinogenic substance, the sound designers had to find an audible way to convey that something special was underfoot.

By way of explaining it to me, Mangini ground his work boot into the soft patch of sand that he had dusted with Rice Krispies. The sand produced a subtle, beguiling crunch, and Villeneuve broke out into a big smile. Though he’d heard it plenty of times in postproduction, he had no idea what the sound designers had concocted to capture that sound.

“One of the things I love about cinema is the cross between NASA kind of technology and gaffer tape,” Villeneuve said. “To use a super-expensive mic to record Rice Krispies — that deeply moves me!”…

(14) FLY LIKE AN EAGLE. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] Time keeps on slippin’, slippin’, slippin’ into the future… At least that’s what the Steve Miller Band assured me in their 1976 hit Fly Like an Eagle. Perhaps they assured Elon Musk the same thing (though he’d only have been 5 at the time).

In 2016, Musk told us that humanity would land on Mars by 2024. In late 2020, he revised the landing date to 2026. Now he’s telling us 2029. This is hardly the first time that Musk has been forced to change projections for one of his ventures. Nor is it the first time a targeted date for anyone’s space launch has slipped.

To me, 2029 still seems ambitious given where we are. But, if Musk (or someone else) does manage to hit that date, it’ll be 60 years after the Eagle landed on the Moon. Assuming I live that long (and am still compos mentis), it’d be extraordinary to witness both landings in one lifetime. “Elon Musk Has New Estimate for When Humans Might First Step on Mars” at CNET.

… Starship, which SpaceX is designing to take astronauts to the moon for NASA and eventually to Mars, has made some successful high-altitude flights, but has yet to make it to space.

Musk has made noise over the past two years about federal launch regulations slowing the process of reaching Mars and recently even floated the specter of bankruptcy if SpaceX isn’t able to produce Starship’s raptor engines more rapidly.

Unsurprisingly, getting to Mars takes planning. As Mars and Earth move around the sun, the two planets move closer to one another and then farther away again. To take advantage of the times when the trip between the two worlds is shortest requires launching during certain windows. The ideal Mars launch windows for this decade are later this year, late 2024, late 2026 and late 2028/early 2029. 

It’s looking as though Musk’s initial ambitions may have been overly optimistic. If his target date slips much further, into the 2030s, it will be more in the ballpark of when NASA has always been aiming in terms of sending the first astronauts to Mars…. 

(15) BEHIND THE LINES. Enjoy Greener Grass a Star Wars short film made with Unreal Engine 5.

(16) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban Pitch Meeting” Ryan George says in the third Harry Potter movie, Voldemort isn’t around but Dumbledore still gets to give his annual address on the many ways Hogwarts students can die.  And when asked why Hogwarts could produce a book of monsters that is an actual monster, the writer answers, “It’s clear wizards don’t have any consumer protection laws.”

[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, Rich Horton, Gary Farber, Olav Rokne, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, John King Tarpinian, Andrew Porter, and Michael Toman for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Olav Rokne.]

Pixel Scroll 3/10/22 No Pixels Were Harmed In The Production Of This Scroll

(1) ANALYZING SANDERSON’S KICKSTARTER SUCCESS. Kristine Kathryn Rusch has an in-depth commentary about a seismic event in self-publishing, “Business Musings: Brandon’s Kickstarter”.

… If the past is any indication, however, these big Kickstarters increase the people who watch  the category and, to use the cliched phrase, they will become the rising tide that will lift all boats.

That’s the small picture.

The larger one? Smart traditionally published bestsellers should be looking closely at this. Smart unpublished writers should use this as a wake-up call.

Traditional publishing will never pay its writers tens of millions for unnamed projects. Traditional publishing can barely afford the million-dollar advances these days.

And please, remember, the Kickstarter numbers are only the beginning of the earnings on these books. These books will live for decades. Brandon will earn money on them for decades—without licensing any of the copyright to some gigantic corporate entity that does not have his best interest at heart.

Also, remember that this Kickstarter is advertising. It’s introducing millions of readers to Brandon Sanderson. These new readers are asking Who is this guy and why is he getting so much money? What are these new readers going to do? Why, they’re going to buy a backlist book and try to read it before the Kickstarter ends.

His published book sales are going to increase dramatically. So the tens of millions he’s earning on the Kickstarter does not count the other ways this Kickstarter is benefitting him financially. Nor is it counting the promotion value that he’s getting from projects that he felt inspired to write.

There’s a lot more to unpack—from some of the innovations he’s doing to the impact on the fantasy and science fiction field. But for the moment, I’m stopping here.

If you’re one of the sour grapes people, perhaps you should ask yourself why you’re being so very negative. Are you jealous? Or scared?

The rest of you should watch what happens next. This is a very big deal. For all of us.

(2) KDP WTF. Philip Beaufoy, author of the Lochwood Series, is another casualty of a sudden and unexplained Kindle Direct Publishing account closure.

(3) LOVE IS ALL AROUND. The SFWA Blog’s “Romancing Sci-Fi & Fantasy” series begins with Alex Chantel’s “I See Romance … Everywhere!”

… I see romance everywhere, on all levels, and it makes me love the books I read even more. There are books without romance, that don’t need romance, and readers that are perfectly happy without it. But borrowing from the romance genre can strengthen a story and the readers’ connection to the characters. 

We all want to craft memorable characters, and the strong ones can become more enduring with a partner—two are stronger than one, as the adage goes. Princess Leia and Han Solo from Star Wars—closely followed by Ben and Rey. Paul and Chani from Dune. Nahri and Ali from S.A. Chakraborty’s Daevabad Trilogy. K and Chloe from Terry Miles’s Rabbits. Euthalia and Conrí from Jeffe Kennedy’s Forgotten Empires series. Niko and Petalia from Cat Rambo’s You Sexy Thing. Some of those names may strike a romantic chord within you?…

(4) DISNEY RECORD ON LGBTQIA+ SET STRAIGHT. Deadline reports a “Internal Pixar Letter Disputes Disney’s Support Of LGBTQIA+ Employees & Questions Company’s Commitment to Change”. (The full text of the letter is quoted at the end of Variety’s coverage.)

Shortly after Disney CEO Bob Chapek spoke out publicly against Florida’s so-called “Don’t Say Gay” bill today, a very pointed response began circulating internally at the studio. A letter signed by “The LGBTQIA+ employees of Pixar, and their allies” took Chapek to task. It refuted, point by point, an internal memo Chapek sent to employees on Monday and also criticized the fact that the company “did not take a hard stance in support of the LGBTQIA+” at the shareholder meeting.

“Monday’s email, ‘Our Unwavering Commitment to the LGBTQ+ Community,’ rang hollow,” read the LGBTQIA+ letter. It said Chapek’s communication “began with the claim that Disney has a long history of supporting the LGBT community, but Disney Parks did not officially host Pride until 2019, in Paris alone. Disney has a history of shutting down fan-created Pride events in the parks, even removing same-sex couples for dancing together in the 1980’s.”

The letter goes on to say the corporation is “capitalizing on Pride” through merchandising, specifically The Rainbow Mickey Collection.

“It feels terrible to be a part of a company that makes money from Pride merch when it chooses to ‘step back’ in times of our greatest need, when our rights are at risk,” the letter asserts.

The “step back” bit is likely a reference to Chapek’s assertion at a shareholders’ annual meeting today that “we chose not to take a public position on [the bill] because we felt we could be more effective working behind the scenes, engaging directly with lawmakers on both sides of the aisle.” It later came out that Chapek had only reached out to Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis very recently….

… Finally, the letter damningly addresses Chapek’s repeated insistence that the best way for Disney to make change is through creating “powerful content that changes hearts and minds.”

It reads [in part]:

“We at Pixar have personally witnessed beautiful stories, full of diverse characters, come back from Disney corporate reviews shaved down to crumbs of what they once were. Nearly every moment of overtly gay affection is cut at Disney’s behest, regardless of when there is protest from both the creative teams and executive leadership at Pixar. Even if creating LGBTQIA+ content was the answer to fixing the discriminatory legislation in the world, we are being barred from creating it.”

(5) CALL TO REMOVE A 2023 WORLDCON GOH. SF² Concatenation has tweeted the link to an editorial comment ahead of its next seasonal edition (slated for April). Read it here.

Science fiction is far more than a genre, it enthuses science and warns of possible futures, among much else. More, many of its aficionados are part of a community: a community that crosses nations. Sometimes that community needs to nail its colours to the mast. Now, at this moment in time, due to circumstances up-to-now unthought-of in the early 21st century, those colours are blue and yellow….

On Wednesday, 2nd March (2022), the UN moved to condemn Russia’s war on Ukraine. 141 nations supported that call: only Belarus, Syria, North Korea and Eritrea supported Russia, while China, Cuba and Venezuela abstained. And here’s the thing, if China is abstaining then arguably the 2023 SF Worldcon should dis-invite Sergei Lukyanenko as a Guest of Honour: Lukyanenko has repeatedly and publicly proclaimed his support for his nation’s war against Ukraine…

In particular, there is one person in the west who is currently due to share the platform at the 2023 Worldcon with Lukyanenko. Is that something he really wants to do?…

(6) REVIEWING SFF. Strange Horizons hosts “The Author and the Critic I: Christopher Priest and Paul Kincaid”, featuring the two named figures discussing the present and future of sff criticism. They begin at the beginning.

Christoper Priest: Before I wrote and published my first novel I had already written several amateurish book reviews. I was young and inexperienced, unguided, learning slowly as I went along. I was writing for fanzines published by Peter Weston and Charles Platt, and others. It was a way of writing something and seeing it in print—or at least, typed out by someone else, which at the time felt almost as good because after the process of being retyped, with bits cut out or changed or just got wrong, it looked different. By looking different it made me read it again and look at it with some objectivity. Overall, it was much easier and quicker to write an opinion piece on a new book by Brian N. Ball or Ken Bulmer than write a novel of my own. None of this counted in the long run, of course, although I still think for a beginning writer it was a good way to learn.

Paul Kincaid: Personally, I can’t remember a time when I didn’t read reviews. This goes back to a time when newspapers used to publish things like book reviews and film reviews. But I never thought about writing them until I started getting involved in fandom…. 

(7) MORE FROM THE WORLDCON. Morgan Hazelwood posts her notes about another DisCon III panel: “The Nuts and Bolts of Chapters”. (She also presents the material in a YouTube video.)

The panelists for the titular panel were: Ada Palmer, Aparna Verma, Elle E. Ire, Nancy Kress, and Patricia A. Jackson, with Delia Sherman as moderator.

The panel description was as follows:

Do you even need chapters? How long should they be? Should you title your chapters or just number them? Where do you break a chapter, and how do you write a good cliffhanger? How do you write chapters with multiple character points of view? So much to discuss for such a small topic!

While the panelists didn’t address all of these, they shared some valuable tips.

(8) UNMADE HITCHCOCK PROJECT. “Alfred Hitchcock once planned a sci-fi epic, which he envisaged as ‘a projection into the life of a generation ahead’” – BFI looks back at “Hitchcock’s sci-fi movie, ‘a forecast of days to come’”.

… News of Hitchcock’s sci-fi project broke in October 1926, a month after The Lodger was first shown to the press. P.L. Mannock of the Kinematograph Weekly, who had spoken to Hitchcock about his “film laid in the future”, wrote that “If we except ‘Metropolis,’ it will be the first screen forecast of days to come,” the last words being a deliberate reference to a novella by one of Lang’s inspirations, H.G. Wells. “Television will be used dramatically, and Sir Alan Cobham will probably be consultant on big episodes of the air.”…

(9) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

1964 [Item by Cat Eldridge]

“My specialty is wisdom. Do you know what wisdom is?””- Dr. Lao

“No sir.” – Mike 

“Wise answer.” – Dr. Lao

Fifty-eight years ago, 7 Faces of Dr. Lao premiered. It was George Pal’s last directorial effort. As you well know, it’s based off of Charles G. Finney’s The Circus of Dr. Lao. (There is now a Kindle edition of The Circus of Dr. Lao though it won’t be mistaken for a Meredith Moment.) It was nominated for a Hugo at Loncon II, the year Dr. Strangelove won. 

The screenplay was by Beaumont, who wrote twenty-two Twilight Zone episodes which given he died at 38 is quite astonishing, and Ben Hecht (originally uncredited), whose most notable work was Alfred Hitchcock’s Spellbound and Notorious, though he did have a genre credit writing The Thing from Outer Space, an early Fifties film. He also did uncredited work on Casino Royale.

Tony Randall played myriad roles in the 7 Faces of Dr. Lao including of course Dr. Lao, the Mysterious Visitor. And if you look carefully, you spot Randall simply as himself sans any makeup as a silent audience member. He also voices the Serpent, a stop-motion animated snake which has the face of another actor. Quite a performance indeed. 

Pal originally wanted Peter Sellers for the role of Dr. Lao and Sellers very much wanted to do the role. However, MGM had Randall under contract who was far cheaper than Sellers would’ve been. 

Pal also saved quite a bit of money here by reusing footage from Atlantis, the Lost Continent and The Time Machine. The Woldercan spectacular that Dr. Lao does as his grand finale of his circus is drawn entirely from the former. 

Pal has stated that it’s only film that he lost money on. It made just one million and I can’t find any mention of how much the production costs were but they were obviously higher than the very small box office was.

So how was it received? The Hollywood Reporter at the time said Randall’s performance was “a dazzling display of virtuosity, in some stunning makeup created by Bill Tuttle.” Audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes give a very strong rating of seventy-eight percent.

I don’t believe it’s streaming anywhere but you can rent it pretty much everywhere. Or you can buy it for little more than a Meredith Moment. 

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born March 10, 1891 Sam Jaffe, His first role was in Lost Horizon as the High Lama and much later in The Day the Earth Stood Still playing Professor Jacob Barnhardt. Later on we find him in The Dunwich Horror as Old Whateley, voicing Bookman in Bedknobs and Broomsticks, playing The Old-Man in The Tell-Tale Heart, and in his last film, appearing in Battle Beyond the Stars as Dr. Hephaestus. John Sayles wrote the script for the latter surprisingly enough. (Died 1984.)
  • Born March 10, 1905 Richard Haydn. Actor who appeared in a number of genre undertakings including voicing the Caterpillar in the early Fifties Alice in Wonderland, Professor Summerlee in the early Sixties version of The Lost World and Herr Falkstein in Young Frankenstein. I’d be very remiss not to note his appearance on The Twilight Zone as Bartlett Finchley in the chilling “A Thing About Machines”. And he had one offs on BewitchedShirley Temple’s Storybook and The Man from U.N.C.L.E., in the “The Mad, Mad Tea Party Affair” an unusual episode as it takes place almost entirely within U.N.C.L.E headquarters. (Died 1985.)
  • Born March 10, 1918 Theodore Cogswell. He wrote almost forty science fiction stories, most of them humorous, and was the co-author of a Trek novel, Spock, Messiah!, with Joe Spano Jr. He’s perhaps best remembered as the editor of the Proceedings of the Institute for Twenty-First Century Studies in which writers and editors discussed theirs and each other’s works. A full collection of which was published during 1993 except, as EoSF notes “for one issue dealing with a particularly ugly controversy involving Walter M Miller.”  Having not read these, I’ve no idea, what this details, but I’m betting one of y’all know. (Died 1987.)
  • Born March 10, 1921 Cec Linder. He’s best remembered for playing Dr. Matthew Roney in the BBC produced Quatermass and the Pit series in the later Fifties, and for his role as James Bond’s friend, CIA agent Felix Leiter, in Goldfinger. He also appeared on Alfred Hitchcock PresentsVoyage to the Bottom of the Sea, the Amerika series, The Ray Bradbury Theatre and The New Avengers. (Died 1992.)
  • Born March 10, 1938 Marvin Kaye. Editor of Weird Tales, he also edited magazines such as H. P. Lovecraft’s Magazine of Horror and Sherlock Holmes Mystery Magazine. His Cold Blue Light novels with Parke Godwin are quite superb. The Fair Folk anthology which is most excellent and which he edited won a World Fantasy Award. He wrote the “Marvin Kaye’s Nth Dimension” for the Space and Time website. (Died 2021.)
  • Born March 10, 1938 Ken Sobol. New to our Birthday honors list. I will single him out for having personally received Astrid Lindgren’s personal blessing to write the Pippi Longstocking series which he worked on with puppeteer Noreen Young. He also contributed scripts to Batman, Curious GeorgeG.I. JoeGeorge of the JungleHardy BoysHighlander, Superman, and Wizard of Id, and that’s hardly a complete listing.  He also wrote one of the best works done on baseball, Babe Ruth and the American Dream. (Died 2010.)
  • Born March 10, 1951 Christopher Hinz, 71. His Liege Killer novel, the first in his most excellent Paratwa Saga, won the Compton Crook Award, the BSFS Award for the Best First Novel. (And yes, there is a prequel, Binary Storm, which was written much later.) He was nominated for an Astounding Award for Best New Writer. 
  • Born March 10, 1956 Robert Llewellyn, 66. He plays the mechanoid Kryten in the Red Dwarf series. His It2i2 which was a television show about AI depicting fictional events but presented as a documentary. And he played a gryphon in the oh-so-superb MirrorMask

(11) AFROFUTURISM. The Schomburg Center’s 10th Annual Black Comic Book Festival in partnership with Carnegie Hall’s Afrofuturism Festival! Presents “Black Feminist Futures Series: Planting for the Future”.

The Black Feminist Futures Series features programs highlighting the powerful and long-standing relationship between Afrofuturism and Black feminism in genres ranging from literature, film, art, fashion, and community organizing. Planting for the Future, a virtual conversation on Black women’s participation in Afrofuturism through literature, film, art, fashion, and community organizing. The program features Dr. Andrea Hairston (author of Master of Poisons), Sheree Renee Thomas (author of Nine Bar Blues), Tananarive Due (author of The Between: A Novel), and Tanaya Denise Fields (founder of Black Feminist Project & Black Joy Farm, and author of “Dirty Business: The Messy Affair of Rejecting Shame” in the book You Are Your Best Thing). Moderated by Dr. Chesya Burke.

(12) GAIMAN MIRACLEMAN REPRINT. Following the herald of his return in Timeless #1 and the announcement of an all-new omnibus, Marvel Comics continues to mark the 40th anniversary of Miracleman’s modern era with a new printing of award-winning writer Neil Gaiman and artist Mark Buckingham’s redefining work on the character.

 Arriving in October, Miracleman By Gaiman & Buckingham Book 1: The Golden Age TPB will collect the first six issues of Gaiman and Buckingham’s groundwork to give a legendary super hero a fascinating future —a future that will now come to pass! Available for the first time in paperback, the Miracleman By Gaiman & Buckingham Book 1: The Golden Age TPB will give fans a chance to revisit this beloved era of Miracleman ahead of the exciting plans Marvel has in store for the iconic character later this year.

Atop Olympus, Miracleman presides over a brave new world forged from London’s destruction. It is a world free of war, of famine, of poverty. A world of countless wonders. A world where pilgrims scale Olympus’ peak to petition their living god, while miles below the dead return in fantastic android bodies. It is an Age of Miracles — but is humankind ready for it? Do we even want it? Is there a place for humanity in a world of gods? Gaiman and Buckingham delve into the lives of lonely idealists, rebellious schoolchildren and fracturing families, exploring the human constant in a changing world of gods and miracles.

(13) STAR WARS FAN NEWS. “’Star Wars’ fans are raising money for transgender youth”Yahoo! Life has the details. (The direct link to the GoFundMe is here: “Fundraiser by The Amidala Initiative (A Community Effort) : The Amidala Initiative for Equality Texas”. They have raised $8,292 of their $25,000 goal as of this writing.)

…Fans of the Star Wars franchise can relate to Padmé Amidala, a character from the Star Wars prequel trilogy played by Natalie Portman, for a multitude of reasons, from her troubled romance with Anakin Skywalker to her desire to do her best to protect her people.

It’s the latter that inspired the Amidala Initiative, a group of Star Wars fans and content creators who have joined … forces … to raise money for Texas advocacy organization Equality Texas after Texas Governor Greg Abbott directed the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services to investigate the parents of trans children who have had or are seeking elective gender-affirming procedures or treatments.

“We, the undersigned, are 77 fan content creators, podcasters, YouTubers, TikTokers, artists, writers and cosplayers who have joined together to use our limited platforms to stand in solidarity with our trans siblings and their families in Texas,” a GoFundMe site for the Amidala Initiative states. “No child should fear that their teachers will report their parents to the government for allowing them to live as their true gender. No parent should fear criminal charges for supporting their transgender child and helping them seek therapeutic and medical support to treat their gender dysphoria … this is something we refuse to stand by silently for.”…

(14) DOES NOT PLAY WELL WITH OTHERS. Radio Times listens in as “Christopher Eccleston rules out Doctor Who multi-Doctor story return”.

…However, according to the latest comments from The A Word star, there’s seemingly no chance he would return for a 60th anniversary team-up special currently rumoured for 2023.

He told crowds at Australian convention Supanova: “I’ve never been a fan of multi-Doctor stories. When I worked on the series, I had really strong ideas about what works and what doesn’t, and I always think that multi-Doctor stories are a bit of a cash-in, and a bit of exploitation.

“Creatively, they never worked for me. I looked at the script for the 50th anniversary and I felt as soon as I said I wasn’t doing it it got better because, well, if I’m not in it, it’s better. The creation of the War Doctor introduced a whole new facet to the canon.”

Interestingly though, a later comment from Eccleston suggested he would consider returning to Doctor Who in live-action for a solo storyline following the Ninth Doctor.

He added: “The Ninth Doctor, in particular, is a one-man band. Definitely. So he doesn’t work with other Doctors. If you want me back, you’d get me on my own.”

(15) HEAR FROM EDITORS. Space Cowboy Books will host an online panel discussion “Beyond the Submission Guidelines” on March 29 at 6:00 p.m. Pacific. Register for free here.

Join us for an online panel discussion with editors of SF/F magazines. Learn about the behind the scenes of running science fiction and fantasy magazines with editors: Arley Sorg (Locus & Fantasy Magazines), F.J. Bergmann (Mobius & Weird House), Rob Carroll (Dark Matter Magazine), and JW Stebner (Hexagon Magazine)

(16) PREDICTING THE PAST. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] Inscriptions provide an invaluable insight into the ancient world. But over the centuries, many inscriptions have been damaged and exist in fragmented or semi-legible forms, making the job of reading and interpreting them extremely difficult. In this week’s issue of Nature, “Restoring and attributing ancient texts using deep neural networks”, Yannis Assael, Thea Sommerschield and their team introduce Ithaca, a deep neural network designed to help historians restore and understand ancient Greek inscriptions. Working alone, Ithaca is able to restore damaged texts with a 62% accuracy, but when historians use Ithaca, their accuracy on the same task rises to 72%. Ithaca can also determine the original geographical location of inscriptions with 71% accuracy, and can date them to within 30 years from the date ranges proposed by historians. The researchers say that such cooperation between artificial intelligence and historians could help transform studies of the ancient world. 

(17) SOUNDTRACK OF SPACE. NASA’s Chandra X-Ray Observatory page hosts a “Sonification Collection” – maybe there is a “music of the spheres.”

…By translating the inherently digital data (in the form of ones and zeroes) captured by telescopes in space into images, astronomers create visual representations that would otherwise be invisible to us.

But what about experiencing these data with other senses like hearing? Sonification is the process that translates data into sound, and a new project brings the center of the Milky Way to listeners for the first time. The translation begins on the left side of the image and moves to the right, with the sounds representing the position and brightness of the sources. The light of objects located towards the top of the image are heard as higher pitches while the intensity of the light controls the volume. Stars and compact sources are converted to individual notes while extended clouds of gas and dust produce an evolving drone….

There’s a demonstration in this tweet:

(18) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] Arthur C. Clarke chats with Dick Cavett about 2001, life on other planets, and perpetual motion machines in this clip from a 1972 Dick Cavett Show. “Arthur C. Clarke on Why Aliens Would Be Superior To Humans”.

English science-fiction writer Arthur C. Clarke discusses the on-going research in astronomy into discovering new planets and how he believes there is life on other planets, although we don’t know it yet.

[Thanks to Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, rcade, Phil Nichols, mlex, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, John King Tarpinian, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Jim Janney.]

Pixel Scroll 3/5/22 Who Had The Decaffinated Pixel With Extra Space Goo?

(1) HUGO NOMINATING DEADLINE IS MARCH 15. There are ten days left to submit a Hugo nominating ballot. Those eligible to vote are the members of DisCon III and members of Chicon 8 who registered by January 31, 2022. More information at the link.

(2) CROWDFUNDING WISDOM. Tansy Rayner Roberts sums up what she’s been “Tweeting about That Sanderson Kickstarter” in a free Patreon post. Many interesting insights. Here are a few of them.

…When Kickstarter (and book Kickstarter in particular) was just starting out, those of us looking to run projects were hungry for crowdfunding advice. A lot of it didn’t even apply to publishing, because we’ve always been seen as a tiny fraction of what crowdfunding is for.

And what advice we got, we used. What we learned, we shared. Here’s a really useful bit of Kickstarter advice that I, and Twelfth Planet Press, and other publishing-crowdfunding friends have often shared: you have to have a big ticket item at the top. Something cool & exclusive.

You don’t want to rely on one person shelling out $500 or $1000 for your little publishing Kickstarter, but you want to give them the option. Having something awesome and ambitious at the top end makes everyone excited about the project, EVEN IF IT NEVER FILLS UP.

Sanderson’s top tier is $500. (Last time I had a $500 tier on a Kickstarter I hand-made a quilt) It’s an all formats extravaganza — 4 hardcovers, ebooks, audiobooks, plus the 8 swag boxes. And over 10,000 people have pledged to it.  TEN THOUSAND.

This is where Sanderson’s Kickstarter is groundbreaking — not just in the numbers it’s attracted, but in the average pledge pulled in from those fans….

… Isn’t is cool that Kickstarter is newsworthy again??? Feels like forever since there’s been a huge positive creator success story, and that it’s a BOOK project makes it even better. In the 2 hours or so since I started this tweet thread, they made another million $. FOR BOOKS.

(3) HECK OFF. But if you’d prefer to shame Sanderson for his success, in the true postmodern sff way, Slate can direct you to those resources: “Brandon Sanderson Kickstarter criticism: why writers are upset about his record-setting campaign”.

… More recently, critics of the industry have demanded that publishers invest in more titles by authors of diverse identities. Since Sanderson’s Kickstarter made headlines, there’s been, unsurprisingly, some grousing on social media about whether such an already commercially successful author needs that kind of money….

(4) BEHIND THE SCREAMS. Ellen Datlow is a guest on Episode 13 of the Let the Cat In podcast, “Herman”, hosted by Canberra-based authors Kaaron Warren, Aaron Dries and J. Ashley-Smith.

The Cat gets technical as unparalleled horror editor Ellen Datlow joins the show from NYC, bringing behind-the-scenes insights into the conceptualising, compiling, editing and introduction of her (then) latest anthology, Screams From The Dark. While Joseph gets lost in a Borgesian labyrinth of shoes, Kaaron discovers the smells of the past, and Aaron takes a drubbing for his failure to correctly identify an alpaca. Ellen endorses cannibalism (of one’s own stories) and shares anecdotes from her time in Tehachapi Prison. The heart of a story is discussed, as are stories that never quite translate to the page. Also sparks, themes, and those horrible fuck ups, the Greek gods. While the viability of various shoes (and their stories) is considered, Jack the Jerk lurks on the couch.

(5) WHAT KIDS ARE READING ANNUAL REPORT. There’s a lot in the news about politicians’ efforts to control the shelves of school libraries. So if you wonder about what kids are reading, every year, the edtech company Renaissance Learning issues a comprehensive “What Kids Are Reading” report. Frank Catalano tweeted the 5th and 10th grade graphics from their results.

Go here to download the 52-page report: What Kids Are Reading–2022. Read the news release here: “Renaissance Shares Findings of World’s Largest Annual K–12 Reading Survey” (it doesn’t highlight the science fiction/fantasy titles).

…Each year, the WKAR report lists the most popular books at every grade level, and also provides new understanding of K–12 students’ reading practice. The report is uniquely illuminating because it draws from two Renaissance programs: Accelerated Reader, which records the books students are actually reading, not just buying or checking out from libraries, and myON, which provides students with instant access to thousands of digital titles for online or offline reading.

The 2022 report uses the data of 4.5 million students in 22,749 US schools who read 128 million books, revealing insights into students’ reading comprehension and the characteristics of what they choose to read, such as word count and text difficulty….

(6) LUNAR REAL ESTATE. The Guardian’s Arwa Mahdawi says “Privatising the moon may sound like a crazy idea but the sky’s no limit for avarice”.

…The real money, of course, is not in intergalactic billboards or short space trips: it’s in plundering space for resources. Apparently, the race to privatize the moon is on. Of course, many people who are starry-eyed about space mining would balk at the idea that they’re suffering from the avariceeffect: they’d argue that it’s all for the good of mankind. Take, for example, the forward-thinking folk at the Adam Smith Institute (ASI), an influential thinktank that champions free markets. To achieve peace and prosperity on Earth, we need to sell off pieces of space, “with a particular focus on plots of moon land”, the ASI recently declared in a paper.

What’s the logic behind this? Well, they reckon that, as long as you’re not too bothered by the fact that global inequality contributes to the death of one person every four seconds, per Oxfam, untrammeled capitalism has done the world a lot of good. “Property rights play a key role in boosting living standards, innovation and human dignity here on Earth,” Daniel Pryor, head of research at the Adam Smith Institute, says. “The same would be true if we applied this logic to space, which presents a unique opportunity to start afresh when designing effective rules of ownership.”

This ASI report, titled Space Invaders: Property Rights on the Moon, may seem a little out there but it is very on-brand for the UK-based thinktank….

The fact is, they’re way behind fandom. Get the lowdown from File 770’s 2008 post “Who Owns the Moon?”

…the Bay Area Elves’, Gnomes’ and Little Men’s Science Fiction, Chowder, and Marching Society…, in 1951, filed a claim for mining rights to 2,250 sq. mi. of the Moon. Their claim was widely reported in the media – even by Time magazine….

(7) SFF AND ROMANCE. Clarion West has made available the video of their “Fantastic Intersections: Speculative Fiction and Romance” Zoom panel held January 29.

From the sublime and magical to the stirring and steamy, storylines centering BIPOC and LGBTQIA+ characters are flourishing in the romance and speculative genres. Zen Cho, S. A. (Austin) Chant, C. L. Polk, KJ Charles, and L. Penelope tackle the nuance of building romance into the plot vs. romance as the plot, the role of the HEA or HFN in representation, and the future of the fantastic in romance in this panel moderated by Rashida J. Smith.

(8) UPCOMING CLARION WEST ONLINE CLASSES. There is still space for those interested in one of these classes coming up in the next two weeks. Register at the link.

Worldbuilding is not just an academic exercise separate from character development or plot; discover how your fictional world exerts pressure on your characters and creates opportunities for plot.

Like a god, you get to invent a world. Maybe several. But how do you make worlds that readers want to visit? How do you make worlds that readers never want to leave? Explore how to create unforgettable environments, creatures, and cultures.

Note: While the course is designed from a place of enjoyment of speculative fiction, the strategies discussed are also applicable across varied genres.

How to work and write with intention and purpose

 A one-hour and one-session free class teaching writers the importance of working intentionally on both their craft and career. We’ll cover what it means to work intentionally at something as nebulous as writing; how to connect with our own intentions periodically and during times of conflict; and how to work within the parameters of our intentions in a way that sustains us.

This class will be great for writers of all levels who want to connect with their writing, careers, and stories in a deeper way that aligns more with who they are, what they want, and how they wish to create.

(9) NESFA SHORT STORY CONTEST. The results of the NESFA Short Story Contest 2021-22 were announced at Boskone 59 in February.

  • Honorable Mention: Shira Hereld, of Pennsylvania for the story “What Feels Good”
  • Honorable Mention: Olga Werby of California for the story “Floaters”
  • Honorable Mention: Alex Evans, of France for the story “First Blood”
  • Honorable Mention: M.A. Florin, of Romania for the story “The Last Choice of Isabel”

NESFA’s Past Winners page explains, “based on the number and quality of contest entries, some years have no winners or no honorable mentions.” Contest administrator Steven Lee adds, “Alas, based on the Judging, this year none of the finalist stories were considered outstanding, unlike the last two years.  These four were judged ‘almost.’”

(10) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

1954 [Item by Cat Eldridge] Sixty-eight years ago, Creature from the Black Lagoon first cast its horrifying visage upon us. It was produced by William Alland who had produced It Came from Outer Space the previous year and directed by Jack Arnold who had directed the same film. 

It was written by Harry Essex and Arthur Ross. Essex who (surprise) was the screenwriter for It Came from Outer Space. Ross, though, had nothing to do with it, but he did write Satan’s School for Girls which amazingly got remade twice, once as a Shannon Doherty vehicle. 

Creature has a large cast but I’m only really interested in three performers here. The first is Julia Adams who played Kay Lawrence who gets snatched by the Creature from the Black Lagoon aka GillmanAnd the other two are performers that you never saw. Ben Chapman was the Creature for all the on land scenes whereas Ricoh Browning did all the underwater scenes. Ricoh would return for the two sequels, but the Creature was played by Tom Hennesy for the on land scenes in the second film (which Clint Eastwood appears in), and played by Don Megowan for the on land scenes in the third. 

So how was the reception? The Hollywood Reporter review at the time said, “Creature From the Black Lagoon is a good piece of science-fiction of the beauty and the beast school, the beast in this case being a monstrous combination of man and fish. It makes for solid horror-thrill entertainment.”  

A review recently by Empire magazine was equally positive: “Directed by sometimes-inspired journeyman Jack Arnold (The Incredible Shrinking Man), this is one of the best-loved monster movies of the ‘50s.  Whereas many of its rivals drag until the monster shows up and turn ridiculous afterwards, this establishes an atmosphere of unease and magic in the early stretches, as the monster is glimpsed as a 3-D clutching hand accompanied by its memorable blaring theme tune.” The music was composed by Henry Mancini. 

I’ve no idea what the production costs were but the box office was one point three million, not bad for the early Fifties. 

It would spawn two sequels: the 3D Revenge of the Creature and The Creature Walks Among Us. Each of the sequels would return just over just a million at the box office.  Neither of the sequels is considered nearly as great as the first film was. 

The Creature Walks Among Us is considered to be the last film in the Universal Classic Monsters series.

It rates a healthy seventy-four percent rating among audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes. Neither of the sequels cracks thirty percent. 

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born March 5, 1907 Martti Löfberg. Finnish author who did some genre novels including Osiriksen Sormus and Viiden minuutin ikuisuu which were both time travel affairs, and his long running newspaper reporter Kid Barrow series has been favorably compared to Tintin. (Died 1969.)
  • Born March 5, 1936 Dean Stockwell. You’ll no doubt best remember him as Al the hologram on Quantum Leap. He had one-offs on Mission ImpossibleThe Night GalleryA Twist in The TaleOrson Welles’ Great Mysteries and The Twilght Zone. His first genre role was in I think The Boy with Green Hair, a 1948 film. It might be fantasy or not as there’s no explanation for the central thesis of the film. Anything I’ve overlooked? (Died 2021.)
  • Born March 5, 1942 Mike Resnick. Damn, losing him hurts. It’s worth noting that he has been nominated for thirty-seven Hugo Awards which is a record for writers and won five times. Somewhat ironically nothing I’ve really enjoyed by him has won those Hugos. The novels making my list are his John Justin Mallory detective novels, The Red Tape War (with Jack L. Chalker & George Alec Effinger, and, yes, it’s not genre, Cat on a Cold Tin Roof. True story: Kristine Kathryn Rusch tells me he’s responsible for her Spade / Paladin series. When I interview her, I intend to ask her why.  (Died 2020.)
  • Born March 5, 1952 Robin Hobb, 70. Whose full legal name is the lovely Margaret Astrid Lindholm Ogden hence her two pen names. (I think.)  I reasonably sure the first thing I read and enjoyed by her was Wizard of the Pigeons, but The Gypsy with Steven Brust which is now available from the usual suspects was equally enjoyable and had the added bonus of a Boiled in Lead soundtrack. Really it does and Jane Yolen financed it.
  • Born March 5, 1959 Howard V. Hendrix, 63. Empty Cities of the Full Moon is damn impressive as the Labyrinth Key duology. He’s done an amazing amount of quite excellent short fiction, the latest collection being The Girls With Kaleidoscope Eyes: Analog Stories for a Digital Age.
  • Born March 5, 1972 James Moran, 50. Here for his scriptwriting on Doctor Who where he wrote Tenth Doctor story, “The Fires of Pompeii”, Torchwood where he contributed two stories, “Sleeper” about a terrorist attacking on Cardiff whose filming got halted by a terrorist attack on Glasgow, and “Day Three” of  the Children of Earth series. He also wrote some of the episodes for Primeval.
  • Born March 5, 1975 Jolene Blalock, 47. Best known for playing  T’Pol on  Enterprise.  Genre wise, she’s also been in Jason and the Argonauts seriesas Medea, Stargate SG-1 as Ishta, Starship Troopers 3: Marauder as Captain Lola Beck and as the Legend of the Seeker as Sister Nicci.
  • Born March 5, 1989 Jake Lloyd, 33. He portrayed the young Anakin Skywalker in The Phantom Menace. Ok, every fan site I encounter was full of bile his performance. I’ve not seen the film, so tell why these fans were so upset at this actor? Was it because it was a child actor portraying this character? 

(12) RETURN TO THE VOID. [Item by David Doering.] As we zoom past $23 million on Brandon Sanderson’s campaign (!!), there’s more good news from Utah. The Covid-shuttered VR venture “The Void” is relaunching, hurrah! You may recall that their secret sauce was having Tracy Hickman as writer, making it far more engaging than other special effects ladened VR attempts. Let’s cheer them on as well. “VR Arcade Pioneer The VOID is Making a Comeback” at Road to VR.

… As reported by MIXED, it appears pioneering out-of-home VR destination The VOID is getting ready to reopen.

Before The Void closed up shop—or was rather summarily kicked out of its dozen-or-so locations after it defaulted on loans back at the beginning of the pandemic—it was a premiere mixed reality destination that promised a real taste of immersion. Starting back in 2015, it combined warehouse-scale VR and realistic 4D effects that brought to life some of the most well-known franchises worldwide: Ghostbusters, The Avengers, Star Wars, Jumanji, and more.

Due to COVID-19 safety measures, The Void suffered immediate losses in revenue which were further outstripped by its inability to secure additional funding. The company’s last video before its website went dark featured a pop-up in Westfield San Francisco Center… back in April 2020.

Then, nearly a year and a half later, a report by Protocol broke the news that The Void’s patents and trademarks has been acquired by Hyper Reality Partners, a company headed by Adrian Steckel, a previous investor and board member of The Void. At the time, it was reported that Hyper Reality Partners has already raised $20 million to get The Void back on its feet.

Now The Void’s website is back up, with its creators saying that it will include “upgraded VR technology,” and “a flexible platform designed to evolve with the latest in innovation.”

(13) A WHALE OF A SECOND CENTURY TALE. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In this video, Austin McConnell explains that Lucian of Samosata invented the space opera in the second century AD.  He explains that back then Romans enjoyed reading travelogues about distant places and debates about philosophical topics, so he decided to make fun of both of them with this tale about a trip to the Moon, a battle between Moon people and Sun people with bonus fighters from the Milky Way and all sorts of creepy imaginary places, including the years Lucian purportedly spent inside a 180 mile-long whale! Of course he called his novel A True Story, and McConnell shows how truly weird this book is–but hey, it’s the first sf novel!

(14) NO, YOU BE ROBIN. Here’s something even more unbelievable. “Inside the never-made ‘Batman’ movie that nearly starred Bill Murray and Eddie Murphy as the Dynamic Duo” at Yahoo!

…But on one of the infinite earths out there in the DC Extended Universe, there’s a planet where Bill Murray and Eddie Murphy played Batman and Robin on the big screen.

Actually… that was very nearly this Earth. In the early 1980s, the late Ivan Reitman planned to cast the Saturday Night Live stars as the Dynamic Duo in a never-made Batman feature film. “I talked to Eddie Murphy about it, and Eddie wanted to play Batman,” Murray tells Yahoo Entertainment in a recent interview for the latest installment in our video series The Never-Weres. “That’s as far as that conversation went.” (Watch the video above.)

If Murphy wanted to be the Caped Crusader so badly, would Murray have willingly taken on the role of Robin? Holy negatory, Batman! “I don’t wanna be the Boy Wonder to anybody,” the Ghostbusters star says. “Maybe much earlier when I was a boy. But it was too late for that by the ’80s. Also, I couldn’t do the outfit. Eddie looks good in purple, and I look good in purple. In red and green, I look like one of Santa’s elves. There was just a lot of vanity involved in the production. It wasn’t gonna happen.”…

(15)  ADAM ROBERTS INTERVIEW. Curtis Brown Creative announces, “We are thrilled that our new six-week online course – Writing Science Fiction  is open for enrolment. The course features exclusive teaching videos, notes and tasks from Adam Roberts.” They follow up with a long Q&A. “Adam Roberts: ‘Science fiction isn’t about accurate prediction, it’s about the eloquence and wonder of our ideas, our imaginings’”

How much do real life technologies impact your fictional writing?

I feel we’ve reached a plateau in terms of the development of new technologies. Remember I’ve lived through the information revolution: I was born before computers were a thing, and now computers interpenetrate shape our lives absolutely. The changes between the 1960s and now have been immense. It’s interesting: the SF of the 1950s assumed the next big leap in human development would be space travel, colonising distant worlds: but they were wrong—the next big leap was computing. I often wonder what the next next big thing will be, and how far it will change our lives and our world. I’ll probably guess wrong: but that doesn’t matter. SF isn’t about accurate prediction, it’s about the eloquence and wonder of our ideas, our imaginings.

(16) BOOKSELLER CONVERGENCE. [Item by Cora Buhlert.] Waterstones, the only remaining UK bookstore chain (back when I was studying in London, there were three or four bookstore chains) has acquired Blackwell’s, the largest independent bookseller in the UK: “Waterstones acquires Blackwell’s, the UK’s biggest independent bookseller”. Blackwell’s is mainly known for its amazing selection of academic books, though they also have a good SFF section. At any rate, this is sad news, since I fear that Blackwell’s will now be selling more celebrity memoirs and fewer academic books.

…Along with Waterstones’ acquisition of the UK book chain Foyles in 2018, it marks a further contraction in the book retail market.

The acquisition will be viewed by some as a regrettable end to the family ownership of a cherished independent and academic bookseller. To others, it will be heralded as a turbo-boost for real-world bookshops in the battle for dominance with their online rival Amazon.

(17) SFF CRAFT. The Glasgow in 2024 Worldcon bid shares a cool craft project. Crochet the solar system. It’s a wheelchair spoke cover, but it would also make a nice pillow case or doily. “Crochet Solar System Wheelchair Spoke Cover”.

Today I’m sharing a pattern for a crochet wheelchair spoke cover I recently made!

I took a basic pattern for a doily, altered the dimensions slightly and included a sun at the centre. I didn’t want the middle of my crochet piece to be rubbing against the centre of the wheel, so I took rings from old keychains and crocheted around them.

(18) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In “Honest Game Trailers:  Dying Light 2″ Fandom Games says this video game is filled with parkour to “recreate the typical commute of the average Frenchman.” But the narrator notes that if you wanted to become fitter and more athletic like the characters in this game, “You wouldn’t be playing video games all day!”

[Thanks to Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Steven Lee, Errolwi, Cora Buhlert, Frank Catalano, David Doering, Chris Barkley, Andrew Porter, Michael Toman, and Cat Eldridge for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Peer.]

Audie Awards 2022

The winners of the 2022 Audie Awards, including the Audiobook of the Year, were announced by the Audio Publishers Association (APA) on March 4.

The Audie Awards® recognize excellence in audiobook and spoken word entertainment.

Winners of genre interest include:

AUDIOBOOK OF THE YEAR

Andy Weir’s Project Hail Mary

FANTASY

 Rhythm of War

  • Written by Brandon Sanderson
  • Narrated by Michael Kramer and Kate Reading
  • Published by Macmillan Audio

SCIENCE FICTION

Project Hail Mary

  • Written by Andy Weir
  • Narrated by Ray Porter
  • Published by Audible Studios

There winners in other categories follow the jump.

Continue reading

Pixel Scroll 3/4/22 24 Views Of Mt. Tsundoku By Hokufile

(1) WHO IS NUMBER ONE. The “Surprise! Four Secret Novels by Brandon Sanderson” Kickstarter was almost at $22 million when I looked earlier today. It’s now the Most Funded Kickstarter in history.

Yesterday the New York Times talked to Sanderson about his success in “Fantasy Author Raises $15.4 Million in 24 Hours to Self-Publish”.

…“If Amazon’s grip on the industry is weakened, that’s good for the publishers — they are very much under Amazon’s thumb right now,” Sanderson said. “I don’t want to present this as ‘Brandon versus Amazon.’ Amazon’s great. But I think that in the long run, Amazon being a monopoly is actually bad for Amazon. If they don’t have competition, they will stop innovating.”

He also wanted to play around with bundling and upselling. Traditional publishers, he said, offer few products and few options. The array of packages on Kickstarter range from $40 for four e-books to $500 for the four books in all formats, plus eight boxes of “swag.”

“What I can do with the Kickstarter,” he said, “is I can say, ‘hey, if you really want to have more, we will give you more.’”

(2) FIRESIDE WILL STOP PUBLISHING IN 2022. Brian J. White, Executive Editor and Owner of Fireside, announced yesterday that the magazine will stop publishing later this year.

… When I stepped back in as owner last year, I had big hopes of taking Fireside forward for years to come. But unfortunately life had other ideas, between major increases last fall to my responsibilities at my day job and a series of difficult life events that have made it impossible for me to continue Fireside while maintaining any semblance of mental and physical health. Compounding that, even though we made progress in adding subscribers, Fireside is still losing a lot of money each month, and the circumstances described above also got in the way of implementing additional plans to bring in more funds.

This was a really difficult decision to make, but between the time and financial considerations, I can’t find a path forward. Fireside has an incredible legacy, and I don’t want that to be marred by a slow, struggling death. The best thing for the magazine is to allow it to close with grace and dignity once we’ve published all the stories and poems we currently have under contract, as well as two books that have been in the works for a long time….

…While Fireside Magazine will no longer be accepting submissions, we have enough content under contract to continue publishing into September, both through our usual ebooks and weekly stories released online. Everything we’ve published in the magazine will remain available online….

(3) LETTER FROM UKRAINE. Charles Stross posted an open letter from his Ukranian translator: “A letter from Ukrainian artists to the world artists”.

… We believe that not all Russian citizens are fans of Putin’s regime and not all of them justify this war. We know that plenty of Russians feel scared to use their voices and speak up against Putin’s regime. Many believe it is none of their business. Yet, there are also many who believe in the righteousness of Putin and his propaganda.

So, we plead with you — writers and visual content creators that have big audiences of readers and followers in Russia. To them, your opinion and your words matter. Your stand on the war in Ukraine matters. Please, stand by us as we fight for our values, our democracy, and our freedom. For the simple right to be Ukrainians and live in Ukraine. Your powerful voices can influence these Russian readers and followers. To encourage them to be brave, connect with their values, and take a stand on ending this ruthless war.

Please, take to your platforms and address your Russian and Ukrainian audiences. The first ones need your encouragement to believe in the power of their voices against Putin’s regime. The second ones are in desperate need of support and kindness….

(4) MEANWHILE, IN MOSCOW. Repression is ramping up in Moscow – and every other Idaho town. Boise State Public Radio reports “Idaho librarians could face jail time for lending “harmful” books”.

…House lawmakers could soon consider whether prosecutors could criminally charge librarians for allowing minors to check out sexually explicit materials.

Giving explicit material to kids has been a crime in Idaho since at least 1972, but public libraries, including those at colleges and universities, are exempted from that law.

Rep. Gayann DeMordaunt (R-Eagle) wants to cut that exemption, meaning librarians could face up to a year in prison and a $1,000 fine any time they lend explicit materials to someone under 18….

(5) EATING THE FANTASTIC. Scott Edelman encourages listeners to eat enchiladas with Bram Stoker Award-winning writer Paul Tremblay in episode 166 of his Eating the Fantastic podcast.

Paul Tremblay

Paul Tremblay is the author of the award-winning novels novels A Head Full of Ghosts (2015), which won the Bram Stoker Award and the Massachusetts Book Award, Disappearance at Devil’s Rock (2016), which won the British Fantasy Award, and The Cabin at the End of the World (2018), which won the Bram Stoker Award and Locus Award. His most recent novel is Survivor Song, published in 2020, with The Pallbearer’s Club due out later this year. He’s also the author of the novels The Little SleepNo Sleep till WonderlandSwallowing a Donkey’s Eye, and writing as P. T,. Jones along with Stephen Graham Jones, Floating Boy and the Girl Who Couldn’t Fly. His short story collection Growing Things and Other Stories was published in 2019. He is the co-editor of four anthologies including Creatures: Thirty Years of Monster Stories (with John Langan), and is on the board of directors and is one of the jurors for the Shirley Jackson Awards.

We discussed his legendary hatred of pickles, what it was like writing a pandemic novel before a pandemic only to see it published in the middle of one, if reviewers would have reacted differently to his zombies had Survivor Song been published any other year, his feelings about the description of him as a postmodernist, our shared love of ambiguity in fiction, whether horror having a moment means horror will also have an end, the one passage in his most recent novel which caused an argument with his editor, what’s up with the movie adaptations of his books, and much more.

(6) THE CALCULATION IS IN. Mary Robinette Kowal’s gala commemorating the 70th Anniversary of The Meteor (the event which precipitates The Calculating Stars) did more than $8,000 in gross sales as part of her effort to support HIAS in Ukraine for the crisis response work that they are doing.

(7) GUARDIANS OF JUSTICE. BGR promises “Netflix’s new superhero show might be the weirdest thing you ever watch”.

…People have no definitive idea what to make of Netflix’s newly released superhero series, The Guardians of Justice. That’s the only conclusion I can draw from the fact that reviews and user reaction is absolutely all over the place — to say nothing of the fact that the trailer for this streaming series, which is about a group of superheroes who confront evil after “their fearless leader self-destructs” — left me utterly speechless. In an “I have no idea what to even think” or “what is going on here” sort of way.

First of all, the show switches between animation and live-action, which takes some getting used to. The voice cast includes Diamond Dallas Page, Sharni Vinson, Denise Richards, and RJ Mitte. And there’s a kind of Adult Swim aesthetic that people either love or can’t stand….

(8) KGB. Fantastic Fiction at KGB reading series hosts Ellen Datlow and Matthew Kressel present Leanna Renee Hieber and John C. Foster on March 16 at 7:00 p.m. Eastern. This will be an in-person event at the KGB Bar, 85 East 4th Street, New York, NY 10003 (Just off 2nd Ave, upstairs).

Leanna Renee Hieber

Leanna Renee Hieber is an actress, playwright, narrator and award-winning author of Gothic, Gaslamp Fantasy novels for Tor and Kensington Books such as the Strangely Beautiful, Eterna Files, Spectral City series and A Haunted History of Invisible Women: True Stories of America’s Ghosts. Featured on TV shows like Mysteries at the Museum and Beyond the Unknown discussing Victorian Spiritualism, Leanna lectures around the country on paranormal and 19th century subjects.

John C. Foster

John C. Foster is the author of the forthcoming horror novel, Leech, the recent crime thriller Rooster and four other horror novels, the most recent of which is Mister White. His stories have been collected in Baby Powder and Other Terrifying Substances. He lives in Brooklyn with the actress Linda Jones and their dog Coraline.

(9) FANAC.ORG FANHISTORY ZOOM PART 2. The LASFS family reunion continues in the second part of Fanac.org’s latest fanhistory Zoom: “Death Does Not Release You – LASFS (Pt 2 of 2)”.

In part 2 of this FANAC Fan History Zoom Session (Feb 2022), the LASFS family reunion continues. Craig Miller (TV writer and producer, Worldcon chair, and LASFS member), Ken Rudolph (filmmaker, fanzine editor, former LASFS officer), Tim Kirk (professional artist, awarded many Fan Artist and Professional Artist Hugo Awards), and Bobbi Armbruster (professional and fan meeting and convention organizer) continue their conversation. Despite some early audio problems, the talk ranges from other Los Angeles fan subgroups like the Bixel Street Irregulars (40s), the Petards (late 60s-80s) and the Blackguards (60s), to well-known fans and professionals of the Los Angeles area to untimely deaths. Tim Kirk tells the wonderful story of how his Master’s Thesis and a little luck resulted in his breaking through to the professional art field. There are even some convention stories, including the surprising origin of Loscon. If you’re interested in the first big Heinlein blood drive, plans for the Last Dangerous Visions, or how many people could fit in the clubhouse kitchen, settle back and enjoy the recording.

(10) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

2011 [Item by Cat Eldridge] Eleven years ago, The Adjustment Bureau film premiered. It is based off the Philip K. Dick “Adjustment Team” short story that was first published in Orbit Science Fiction (No. 4, September–October 1954). (It’s available in The Adjustment Team and Other Selected Stories from the usual suspects for just a buck ninety nine.)  

Written and directed by George Nolfi, who previously wrote the genre film Timeline, it had a lot of producers — Bill Carraro, Michael Hackett, Chris Moore, plus George Nolfi in his third role in the film. It had an absolutely amazing cast: Emily Blunt, Matt Damon, Michael Kelly, Anthony Mackie, John Slattery and Terence Stamp. 

It did exceedingly well at the box office making nearly one hundred thirty million against just fifty million in total costs. Rather great I’d say. 

So how was the reception for it? Mostly excellent really though a few reviewers I admit were really puzzled by it as romance and SF is a combination they don’t grok. The reviewer at the Washington Examiner said that it “is that rare thing, an intelligent romance” while 7M Pictures stated of it that is “a fantastic piece of science fiction told in the flavor of a classic Twilight Zone episode.” And the Examiner summed it up nicely this way: “It’s rare when a film is able to blend together two different genres so well, especially when they are two genres that you don’t normally see together, in this case, science-fiction and romance.”

It does not get that a great rating at Rotten Tomatoes among audience reviewers garnering just sixty-seven percent. Not bad, but not overwhelming. 

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born March 4, 1905 Frank Utpatel. Artist who may have done some interior illustrations for Weird Tales, he’s remembered for his Arkham House book covers that began with Lovecraft’s The Shadow over Innsmouth novel in 1936. He would do covers for Ashton, Howard, Derleth, and Lovecraft. One of my favorite covers by him is for Derleth’s The Casebook of Solar Pons but then I like all of his Solar Pons covers and their obviously Holmesian riff. (Died 1980.)
  • Born March 4, 1914 Ward Kimball. He was part of Walt Disney’s original team of animators, known as the Nine Old Men. Keep in mind that he did not create characters but animated them, which he did to great ability — Jiminy Cricket, the Mad Hatter, Mickey Mouse, and Tweedledee and Tweedledum. He eventually became an animation director at Disney starting with Fantasia, and he worked on Mary Poppins. (Died 2002.)
  • Born March 4, 1923 Sir Patrick Alfred Caldwell-Moore CBE HonFRS FRAS. Astronomer who liked Trek and Who early on but said later that he stopped watching when “they went PC – making women commanders.” Despite that, he’s here because he shows up in the debut Eleventh Doctor story, “The Eleventh Hour“. And he was also in the radio version of the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. (Died 2012.)
  • Born March 4, 1923 Patrick Moore. He held the record as the presenter of the world’s longest-running television series with the same original presenter, BBC’s The Sky at Night.  He was a genre writer with six such novels to his name, one co-written, and a lot of related non-fiction, one that garnered him a Hugo nomination at Interaction, Futures: 50 Years in Space: The Challenge of the Stars, that was co-written with David A. Hardy. (Died 2012.)
  • Born March 4, 1965 Paul W. S. Anderson, 57. If there be modern pulp films, he’s the director of them. He’s responsible for the Resident Evil franchise plus Event HorizonAlien V. PredatorPandorum and even Monster Hunter
  • Born March 4, 1966 Paul Malmont, 56. Author of the comic strips The Chinatown Death Cloud Peril and Jack London in Paradise which blends pulp tropes and SF elements including using as protagonists Heinlein and Asimov. He wrote the first four issues of DC’s excellent Doc Savage series with artist Howard Porter. While a marketing executive at DC he created the DC Daily video series, now over four hundred and fifty episodes long. 
  • Born March 4, 1973 Len Wiseman, 49. Producer or Director of the Underworld franchise. Director of the Total Recall remake. Also involved in StargateIndependence DayMen in Black and Godzilla in the Property Department end of things. He is the Sleepy Hollow series creator and producer for much of it, wrote the pilot as well. (Is it worth watching? I’ve not seen any of it.) Producer for much of the Lucifer seriesas well and is the producer for the entire series of the rebooted Swamp Thing. Also produced The Gifted

(12) COMICS SECTION.

  • The Argyle Sweater probably should be spelled “Aaarggghyle” after this bad superhero-themed pun.
  • Bizarro makes an okay joke in the foreground, but studying the gags in the background is even more entertaining.  

(13) CLICK AND LEARN. What writer whose initials are Ray Bradbury helped inspire lyricist Bernie Taupin? Far Out Magazine knows: “The story behind Elton John song ‘Rocket Man’”.

…The opening lines, which read: “She packed my bags last night, pre-flight. Zero hour: 9am. And I’m gonna be high as a kite by then,” was conceived by Taupin while he was driving to his parents in Lincolnshire, England. Anxious that he’ll forget the lines, he drove some back roads as fast as he could to put it down on paper. Until he reached their house he had to “repeat it to himself for two hours,” which was “unfortunate” but also worthwhile given the magnanimous status the song achieved….

(14) AND THEY LIVED HAPPILY EVER AFTER. SYFY Wire assures us that John DiMaggio will voice Bender in the forthcoming Futurama revival. A bit of closure to a “crisis” that might have gone completely unnoticed had it happened this week.

Good news… again… everyone! Bendergate is finally over. Actor John DiMaggio has officially settled his pay dispute with 20th Century Studios and will return as the voice of Bender for Hulu’s upcoming revival of Futurama. To quote the booze and cigar-loving robot specifically programed for bending girders (and partying): “It’s gonna be fun on a bun!”…

(15) CONREP IN THE WIND. SF2 Concatenation has just tweeted the link to an advance-post of a Windycon con report. This is ahead of their full seasonal edition slated for April 15 (but which may be held till April 20 if the Hugo short-lists are announced Easter weekend).

By Sue Burke: “The 2021 Windycon in Chicago, USA”.

In some ways, Windycon 47 unfolded normally, with panels, music, theatre, gaming, an anime track, art show, dealer’s room, and even the season’s first snowfall, right on time. It happened in the usual place, the Westin Lombard Yorktown Center. But the 47th annual Windycon should have taken place two years earlier in 2020. Instead, due to CoVID-19, a pared-down Zoom event 13th-15th November 2020, called Breezycon, offered a taste of the “family” feeling of the convention’s long history….

(16) BUSTED. Got to love the New York Times headline: “‘After Yang’ Review: Do Androids Dream of Sheep, Babysitting, Being?”

…Repairing Yang proves unsurprisingly more challenging than poking around under the hood of a car. Yang is a secondhand model, “certified refurbished,” yet used nevertheless. And while his warranty is still valid, the store where he was procured, Second Siblings, is out of business. “I told you we should have just bought a new one,” Kyra chides Jake with the old I-told-you-so sigh. In the future, men still take care of the big household chores; wives berate their husbands for making foolish decisions; and some families live in swoon-worthy houses with floor-to-ceiling windows and open-floor plans….

(17) THE NEXT BIG THING IS STILL PRETTY SMALL. “Two pillars of biological dogma upended by discovery of huge bacteria with nuclei”Daily Kos analyzes the impact.

…The proposed new species, Thiomargarita magnifica, is about 50 times larger than any other known bacterium, and it’s also the only bacterium we know of to keep its DNA inside a membrane-bound structure.  Either of those discoveries by itself would be very significant, so this double whammy really is a rare find.  Game changer!  Paradigm shift!  And all that jazz!  Microbiologists sure seem impressed

(18) MADAM I’M ADAM. A time-traveling pilot teams up with his younger self and his late father to come to terms with his past while saving the future. Comes to Netflix on March 11.

(19) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] Superman and Batman kibitz in this latest video from How It Should Have Ended that dropped today. “How Spider-Man No Way Home Should Have Ended”.

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

Pixel Scroll 3/3/22 In Just Seven Days, I Can Make You A Pixel

(1) CALLING BLACK SFF WRITERS. The 2022 BSF Writer Survey conducted by FIYAH closes March 4 at 11:59 p.m. Eastern. See complete guidelines at the link.

The BSF Writer Survey is back! FIYAH will be inheriting Fireside Fiction’s #BlackSpecFic Reports, and this survey will be used to provide context to those results in a report being released in the fall of 2022.

We invite Black SFF writers to submit information about their practices and insights on submission to SFF short fiction markets with a focus on the 2021 calendar year, as well as the impact of and experience with special offerings made during the summer of 2020. The responses we receive will allow us to:

  • Quantify the existence of Black speculative fiction writers seeking publication.
  • Provide submission context to existing publication data.
  • Expose the impact of doleful publication statistics on Black writers.
  • Enable markets to pinpoint their failings in attracting or publishing Black writers.

(2) FIYAH GRANTS. FIYAH is taking applications for The FIYAH Literary Magazine Grant Series Rest, Craft, and Study grants until May 15. Full information at the Grants – FIYAH link.

The FIYAH Literary Magazine Grant Series is intended to assist Black writers of speculative fiction in defraying costs associated with honing their craft. 

The series includes three $1,000 grants to be distributed annually based on a set of submission requirements. All grants with the exception of the Emergency Grant will be issued and awarded as part of Juneteenth every year. The emergency grant will be awarded twice a year in $500 amounts.

Applications for the Rest, Craft, and Study grants close May 15th.

1: The Rest Grant

The FIYAH Rest Grant is for activists and organizers with a record of working on behalf of the SFF community, but who are in need of respite or time to recommit to their personal projects.

3: Study Grant

This grant is to be used for defraying costs associated with attending workshops, retreats, or conducting research for a writing project.

4: Craft Grant

This grant is awarded based on a writer’s submitted WIP sample or project proposal, in the spirit of assisting with the project’s completion.

(3) AUCTION TO AID RED CROSS UKRAINE. Fan and editor Johnny Mains has set up an online auction of genre-related items in support of Red Cross Ukraine; it runs until March 12: “Authors And Artists Auction For The Ukraine” at Will You Send a Dinghy, Please? Lots include signed books from Kim Newman, Ramsey Campbell, Nicholas Royle, and participation in an online interview with Ellen Datlow. 

I, like many, have been shaken by Russia’s horrific attack on Ukraine. I stand in solidarity with all Ukranians. I’m aware I have a miniscule public profile, but if I can do some good with it, then it’s a privilige and my duty. Plus, children in Ukraine being put through that? It’s sickening. So I’m doing a charity auction – with all proceeds going to directly to Red Cross Ukraine as you’ll be donating the money directly to them after the auction ends. 95% of goods will be posted by those donating them – in one or two cases I’ve been asked to post on that person’s behalf.

For the next two weeks, until the 12th of March, I’ll be running a live auction. I have asked people to donate things and I’ll be donating stuff myself….

(4) SANDERSON KEEPS ROLLING. Brandon Sanderson’s editor at Tor, Moshe Feder, sounds like he’s in a bit of shock: “To say it’s a massive surprise is a massive understatement. While the immediate overwhelming response on Kickstarter is quite a coup for Brandon and his team. I hope I get to be involved.” 

“Surprise! Four Secret Novels by Brandon Sanderson” approached $20 million in pledges today. At this rate it could become the number one Kickstarter of all time by tomorrow night.

(5) GUESS WHO LEARNED IT’S HARD RUNNING A BOOKSTORE. Even building your house of brick can’t keep it from being blown down. Shelf Awareness reports “Amazon Closing All Amazon Books Stores”.

Big news from Amazon: the company is closing all of its Amazon Book books and electronics stores, as well as all of its pop-up and “4-star” stores, a move that was first reported yesterday by Reuters. Altogether, 68 stores are involved–66 in the U.S. and two in the U.K. There are some 24 Amazon Books stores around the country.

The company said it was making the move to concentrate its bricks-and-mortar efforts on Amazon Fresh, Whole Foods, Amazon Go and a new venture, Amazon Style fashion and accessories stores, the first of which is set to open in Los Angeles this year, and will feature a variety of high-tech touches, including “just walk out” cashierless technology….

(6) CAN’T KEEP UP. Charles Stross admits how hard it is to stay ahead of reality.

(7) DOCTOR WHO. RadioTimes.com sees the next Thirteenth Doctor special on the horizon: “Doctor Who Legend of the Sea Devils new writer, director and cast”.

We’re finally getting to learn a bit more about upcoming Doctor Who special Legend of the Sea Devils, with the episode’s co-writer, director and other new details confirmed in the latest edition of Doctor Who Magazine.

“It’s a bit of a swashbuckler,” executive producer Matt Strevens told DWM. “It’s the last ‘regular’ adventure story before you go into the machinations of a regeneration story.”

So who is behind this penultimate peril for Jodie Whittaker’s Doctor? Well, co-writing the episode with Chibnall is Ella Road, a playwright and screenwriter who wrote Olivier-nominated play The Phlebotomist (later adapted for BBC radio) as well as episodes of upcoming Call My Agent remake Ten Percent. Legend of the Sea Devils marks the first time a guest writer has co-written a special alongside Chibnall, as well as Road’s Doctor Who debut….

And a RadioTimes.com writer thinks “Doctor Who’s 60th anniversary special should go full nostalgia”.

… David Tennant or Matt Smith coming back for a quick victory lap, on the other hand, is something everyone can enjoy, no matter how casual their relationship with the show. The polar opposite of fan-serving indulgence, it’s actually the biggest, most populist, most crowd-pleasing, big tent move Doctor Who could possibly make. (And this was true even in the 1980s, by the way, when the return of the Cybermen after an absence of seven years was an exciting event for everyone – including the kids who’d never heard of them.)

Even the return of Paul McGann, whose Eighth Doctor has had only fleeting screen-time, would be pretty simple to explain to viewers who aren’t familiar with him. And not just simple, but funExciting. A strange man in strange clothes rocking up and telling everyone he used to be the Doctor? That’s drama. That’s a story. Who on Earth is going to take flight at that?…

(8) ONCE LESS INTO THE BREACH, DEAR FRIENDS. In “The Sci-Fi Crime Novel That’s a Parable of American Society”, The Atlantic’s Cullen Murphy points out “What China Miéville’s The City & the City tells us about the state of the nation.”

… A few weeks ago, a long-ago conversation with a friend came to mind as I tried to bring some order to my bookshelves. My friend was not yet of a certain age, but he had, he confessed, crossed a line: He had made a transition from the curating stage of life to the editing stage. He was no longer collecting; he was deaccessioning. I lack his wisdom and maturity, and rather than editing as I sorted, I instead paused to thumb through and scan. And then I came across a book that made me stop and reread: The City & the City (2009), by the British writer China Miéville. It is a police procedural novel with a background environment that recalls Philip K. Dick. A crime needs to be solved in a society where two different cities—two separate polities, with separate populations, customs, alphabets, religions, and outlooks—coexist within the same small patch of geography. The names of the overlapping cities are Beszel and Ul Qoma….

(9) DID YOU MISS THIS WORLDCON PROGRAM? Morgan Hazelwood posts her notes about the DisCon III panel “Breaking A Story: Hollywood Style” at Writer in Progress. (Hazelwood also has a YouTube video version.)

The panelists for the titular panel were: Michael R Underwood, Nikhil Singh, Sumiko Saulson, and Rebecca Roanhorse as moderator….

(10) NEXT FANTASTIC BEASTS. “Set in the 1930s, the film centers on the lead-up to Wizarding World’s involvement in World War II” says IndieWire about the “’Fantastic Beasts 3’ New Trailer”. See it on YouTube.

Professor Albus Dumbledore (Jude Law) knows the powerful Dark wizard Gellert Grindelwald (Mads Mikkelsen) is moving to seize control of the wizarding world. Unable to stop him alone, he entrusts Magizoologist Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne) to lead an intrepid team of wizards, witches and one brave Muggle baker on a dangerous mission, where they encounter old and new beasts and clash with Grindelwald’s growing legion of followers. But with the stakes so high, how long can Dumbledore remain on the sidelines?

(11) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

1940 [Item by Cat Eldridge] Eighty-two years ago this day, Larry “Buster” Crabbe starred in Flash Gordon Conquers the Universe, a black-and-white twelve-part movie serial from Universal Pictures. It would be the last of the three such Universal serials made between 1936 and 1940.

It was directed by Ford Beebe and Ray Taylor, neither of whom had any background in genre undertakings of this sort beyond Taylor directing Chandu on the Magic Island and its sequel The Return of Chandu, serials which starred Béla Lugosi. This serial was written by George H. Plympton, Basil Dickey and Barry Shipman. George H. Plympton would go on to write the Forties versions of The Green HornetBatman and Robin and Superman.

The primary cast beyond Buster Crabbe as Flash Gordon was Carol Hughes as Dale Arden, Frank Shannon as Dr. Alexis Zarkov and Charles B. Middleton as Ming the Merciless. It actually had a very large cast for such a serial.

I couldn’t find any contemporary reviews but our present day reviewers like it with the Movie Metropolis reviewer saying of it that “Of course, it’s corny and juvenile but that’s the point”, and one Audience reviewer at Rotten Tomatoes noted “Of curiosity value to film buffs. Those who want to see how these old matinee serials influenced George Lucas’ Star Wars films will enjoy this.”  It doesn’t get a great rating over there garnering only a fifty-seven percent rating. 

(12) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born March 3, 1863 Arthur Machen. His novella “The Great God Pan” published in 1890 has garnered a reputation as a classic of horror, with Stephen King describing it as “Maybe the best horror story in the English language.” His The Three Impostors; or, The Transmutations 1895 novel is considered a precursor to Lovecraft and was reprinted in paperback by Ballantine Books in the Seventies. (Died 1947.)
  • Born March 3, 1876 David Lindsay. Best remembered for A Voyage to Arcturus which C.S. Lewis acknowledged was a great influence on Out of the Silent PlanetPerelandra and That Hideous Strength. His other genre works were fantasies including The Haunted Woman and The Witch. A Voyage to Arcturus is available from the usual suspects for free. And weirdly it’s available in seven audio narratives. Huh.  (Died 1945.)
  • Born March 3, 1920 James Doohan. Montgomery “Scotty” Scott on Trek of course. His first genre appearance was I think in Outer Limits as Police Lt. Branch, followed by being a SDI Agent at Gas Station in The Satan Bug film before getting the Trek gig. His first genre series would’ve been Space Command where he played Phil Mitchell. He filmed a Man from U.N.C.L.E. film, One of Our Spies Is Missing, in which he played Phillip Bainbridge, during the first season of Trek. After Trek, he was on Jason of Star Command as Commander Canarvin. ISFDB notes that he did three Scotty novels co-written with S.M. Stirling. (Died 2005.)
  • Born March 3, 1936 Donald E. Morse, 86. Author of the single best book done on Holdstock, The Mythic Fantasy of Robert Holdstock: Critical Essays on the Fiction which he co-wrote according to ISFDB with Kalman Matolcsy. I see he also did two books on Kurt Vonnegut and the Anatomy of Science Fiction on the intersection between SF and society at large which sounds fascinating. 
  • Born March 3, 1945 George Miller, 77. Best known for his Mad Max franchise, The Road Warrior (nominated for a Hugo at ConStellation), Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome and Fury Road. He also directed The Nightmare at 20,000 Feet segment of the Twilight Zone film, The Witches of Eastwick (nominated for a Hugo at Nolacon II), Babe and 40,000 Years of Dreaming
  • Born March 3, 1948 Max Allan Collins, 74. Best remembered for writing the Dick Tracy newspaper strip for many years and has numerous novels featuring the character as well. He’s novelized Waterworld and all of The Mummy films. He won the Faust Award for Lifetime Achievement. 
  • Born March 3, 1955 Gregory Feeley, 67. Reviewer and essayist. Clute says of his reviews “Sometimes adversarial, unfailingly intelligent, they represent a cold-eyed view of a genre he loves by a critic immersed in its material.” Writer of two SF novels, The Oxygen Barons and Arabian Wine, plus the Kentauros essay and novella.
  • Born March 3, 1982 Jessica Biel, 40. A number of interesting genre films including The Texas Chainsaw MassacreBlade: TrinityStealthThe Illusionist, the remake of Total Recall which I confess I’ve not seen, and the animated Spark: A Space Tail

(13) FANAC.ORG FANHISTORY ZOOM. The latest fanhistory Zoom at Fanac.org is now online: “Death Does Not Release You – LASFS Through the Years (Pt 1 of 2).”

From the YouTube description: “Legend (and John Trimble) has it that the slogan “Death Does Not Release You” came about when Ray Bradbury gave a talk at the Los Angeles Science Fantasy Society and was asked to pay his dues. When Bradbury said his membership had expired,  Ernie Wheatley told him “death does not release you, even if you die”. Bradbury paid his 35 cents… 

This notable group of panelists, including artist Tim Kirk, TV writer and producer Craig Miller, filmmaker Ken Rudolph and convention runner Bobbi Armbruster are all current or former members of LASFS. They are fan artists, convention runners, fanzine editors and club officers. 

In part 1, the panelists talk about how they were welcomed into science fiction fandom and into LASFS (including how Ray Bradbury talked teenager Craig Miller into going to his first club meeting). There are stories about the drug culture of the 60s and its barbarian invasion of the club, as well as about the big movers and shakers of the 60s and 70s, many no longer with us, such as Bruce Pelz and Len Moffat. Even if you’ve never been to a LASFS meeting, this feels like a nostalgic family reunion. See Part 2 for the continuation.”

(14) ASK JMS ANYTHING. J. Michael Straczynski did an Ask Me Anything for Reddit yesterday: “I’m J. Michael Straczynski, aka JMS, here for an AMA about my new novel Together We Will Go and my work across TV series like Babylon 5 and Sense8, films like Changeling, graphic novels, comic books, and more.” One person asked for an update about Harlan Ellison’s house:

…I will be taking photos and videos for my patrons (I don’t actually mean to keep flogging that, isn’t my intention, just came up thrice in a row in answer to this.) We’re busy fixing the place up, doing repairs, making it tour-friendly. It’s been a ton of work, as well as setting up the Harlan and Susan Ellison nonprofit foundation that will ensure his work and legacy are protected long after I’ve gone to dust. This is important because some writers’ estates have been ransacked in the past, but by setting up a nonprofit that is directly answerable to state and federal regulators, with a strong board of directors, it guarantees that not a dime goes in or out that’s unaccounted for or unchecked. Will have a lot more on that count to say soon.

(15) OCTOTHORPE. Episode 52 of the Octothorpe podcast, “Who’s Robert Picardo?”, celebrates an award nomination with a victory lap.

John Coxon, Alison Scott and Liz Batty have been nominated for a BSFA Award! (Also, Liz is on holiday, naturally.) We discuss that with worse audio quality than usual, before normal service is resumed and we talk about Hugo nominations and Eastercon bids.

(16) DAVID M. KELLY. Meet David M. Kelly, the author of Kwelengsen Storm, Book One of the Logan’s World Series.

Originally from the wild and woolly region of Yorkshire, England, David emigrated to Canada in 2005 and settled in Northern Ontario with his patient and supportive wife, Hilary. Foot surgery in 2014 temporarily curtailed many of his favorite activities – hiking, camping, piloting his own personal starfighter (otherwise known as a 1991 Corvette ZR-1). But on the plus side, it meant a transition from the world of IT into life as a full-time writer—an opportunity he grasped enthusiastically.

David is passionate about science, especially astronomy and physics, and is a rabid science news follower. Never short of an opinion, David writes about science and technology on his blog davidmkelly.net. He has supported various charity projects such as the Smithsonian’s Reboot The Suit and the Lowell Observatory Pluto Telescope Restoration. He also contributes to citizen science projects such as SETI@home.

What’s his book about?

When Logan Twofeathers takes on the job of head of engineering on Kwelengsen, the first habitable planet discovered by Earth, he thinks he’s leaving conflict far behind. But when he investigates the loss of a deep-space communications relay, his ship is attacked and crash-lands back on the planet.

With his new home destroyed by the invaders, Logan is stranded deep in the frozen mountains with an injured sergeant who hates him almost as much as the enemy. Against the ever-present threat of capture, he must battle his way through icy surroundings in a treacherous attempt to find his wife.

And when he’s forced to ally himself with a disparate group of soldiers and their uncompromising captain, Logan must face the reality that he may have lost everything—and everyone—he loves. Will he choose to fight? And what will it cost him?

Available from Amazon.com and Amazon.ca,

(17) WAVES HELLO. If Mars is the Red Planet, could we call Venus the Infra-Red Planet? Well, not exactly. But this New York Times article prompted the question: “Venus Shows Its Hot, Cloudy Side”.

Venus is so hot that its surface glows visibly at night through its thick clouds.

That is what pictures taken by NASA’s Parker Solar Probe have revealed.

The planet’s average temperature hovers around 860 degrees Fahrenheit, and thick clouds of sulfuric acid obscure the view. Until now, the only photographs of the Venusian surface were taken by four Soviet spacecraft that successfully landed there in the 1970s and 1980s, operating briefly before succumbing to the hellish environs.

During flybys of Venus, the Parker spacecraft pointed its cameras at the night side of Venus. It was able to see the visible wavelengths of light, including the reddish colors that verge on the infrared that can pass through the clouds.

“It’s a new way of looking at Venus that we’ve never even tried before — in fact, weren’t even sure it was possible,” said Lori Glaze, director of NASA’s planetary division.

In the Parker photographs, hotter locales like low-lying volcanic plains appeared brighter while those at higher altitudes like Aphrodite Terra, one of three continent-size regions on Venus, were about 85 degrees cooler and darker.

(18) THE SKY’S NO LIMIT. “Asteroid With Three Moons Sets A Record” reports Nature.

Astronomers have discovered an unprecedented three moons in orbit around an asteroid.

‘Binary’ asteroids, which have one moon, are fairly common. Triple asteroids, with two moons, are rare. Now, the identification of the first known quadruple asteroid — Elektra, which orbits the Sun in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter — shows that two is not the limit.

Previous observations had shown that two moons circle Elektra, which is roughly 200 kilometres wide. A team led by Anthony Berdeu at the National Astronomical Research Institute of Thailand in Chiang Mai re-assessed Elektra by analysing images of the asteroid taken in 2014 by the European Southern Observatory’s Very Large Telescope at Cerro Paranal, Chile. The scientists used sophisticated image-processing techniques to detect the third, faint moon….

(19) ELDEN RING. George R.R. Martin had a hand in the Elden Ring video game, which is now available.

…Of course, almost all the credit should go to Hidetaka Miyazaki and his astonishing team of games designers who have been laboring on this game for half a decade or more, determined to create the best videogame ever.   I am honored to have met them and worked with them, and to have have played a part, however small, in creating this fantastic world and making ELDEN RING the landmark megahit that it is…

View a short live-action intro trailer below, or see the full six-minute overview trailer here.

[Thanks to Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Chris Barkley, Rob Thornton, Jennifer Hawthorne, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, John King Tarpinian, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Xtifr.]