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 10/27/21 Just Pixel A Name At Random From Your Scrollodex

(1) THE BUZZ. Disney and Pixar’s Lightyear will be released June 17, 2022. Chris Evans voices Buzz. As Variety ‘explains, “Lightyear doesn’t follow the toy-sized, space-faring exploits of Tim Allen’s iconic character. Rather, the 2022 film introduces the ‘real-life’ human astronaut whose adventures inspired the toy line seen in the ‘Toy Story’ franchise.”

The sci-fi action-adventure presents the definitive origin story of Buzz Lightyear—the hero who inspired the toy—introducing the legendary Space Ranger who would win generations of fans.

(2) SHIRLEY JACKSON CONSIDERED. Ellen Datlow along with Laurence Hyman, Nate King, and Bernice Murphy discuss “Shirley Jackson” in episode 12 of the American Writers Museum podcast.

In this episode, we’ll discuss the life and work of multi-dimensional writer Shirley Jackson, perhaps best known for her horror novels and short stories. We’re joined by three guests whose lives and careers have been influenced greatly by Jackson in different ways.

(3) COME ONE, COME ALL. Ringmaster James Davis Nicoll invites Tor.com readers to “Step Right Up! Five Recent Fantasy Stories Set at a Circus”.

Circuses! They seem like such a safe, wholesome source of communal entertainment. Yet, many who’ve ventured under a circus big top have faced unexpected consequences—some quite dangerous for performers in real life. Perhaps it’s no surprise then that the circus provides such a lively—and occasionally treacherous—setting for these five recent fantasies….

(4) GAIA & FRIENDS. Isaac Arthur’s episode on “Sentient Planets & World Consciousnesses” includes examples from films, comics, games and books with authors like Isaac Asimov, Peter Watts and Alastair Reynolds cited.

(5) I’M SORRY I’LL READ THAT AGAIN. Fireside editor Brian J. White found he needed to explain yesterday’s story notification email to recipients:

We’ve gotten a handful of messages about today’s weekly story notification email and wanted to send out a clarification: We made a mistake in not thinking about how that notification for the story “Not Quite What We’re Looking for Right Now” would look in people’s inboxes. The email that went out about and hour and a half ago wasn’t a misdirected story rejection, it’s a short story written in the form of a story rejection, and the blurbs I wrote around it didn’t make that clear. Sorry for the confusion this has caused, and thanks to the folks who let us know about it.

(6) A MODEST GOSPEL-HORROR, UNASKED QUESTION. Virtual convention programmers! Michael Toman has an item to suggest:

It occurred to me ask if anyone out there might be interested in including a “Gospel-Horror” panel and/or performance at a convention this year or maybe sometime safer?

This Interested Listener really enjoyed listening to live choral music from “Game of Thrones” and other shows at the last Loscon I attended.

Sorry, but “names to my mind come there none…”

I would buy a “Zoom Ticket” for something like this to help support fannish musical activity, especially since I’m still “Live Audience Hesitant” about poking my Grizzled, Geezer Guy Snout out of my Own Private, Paper Labyrinth Burrow.

(7) MISSING FIFTH. “Reading with… Cherie Priest” at Shelf Awareness includes this list:

Your top five authors:

In no particular order, Terry Pratchett (especially the Witch novels); Dashiell Hammett (especially the Continental Op stories); Barbara Hambly (her gothics are my comfort reading); Caitlín Kiernan (all of their novels, but Kiernan is also one of the only short story writers I regularly keep up with); and I’m having too much trouble narrowing down another half dozen folks for a fifth. I’d hate to leave anyone out–so let’s call number five a wild card spot, eh?

(8) CASTING CALL. “Bill Murray Has a Role in ‘Ant-Man & the Wasp 3;”. He told a German newspaper that he appears in the upcoming Ant-Man & the Wasp: Quantumania.

I recently made a Marvel movie. I probably can’t tell you about it, but it doesn’t matter. In any case, some people were quite surprised why I decided on such a project of all things. But for me it was very clear: I got to know the director – and I really liked him a lot. He was funny, humble, everything you want from a director. And with the cheerleading story “Bring It On – Girls United” he made a film years ago that I think is damn good. So I accepted, even though I’m not otherwise interested in these huge comic book adaptations as an actor.

(9) BOOK LOVER. In “Why Denis Villeneuve Made ‘Dune’ for Himself”, The Atlantic questions the director about “The Blockbuster That Hollywood Was Afraid to Make.”

When I asked him about his film adaptation of Dune, the writer-director Denis Villeneuve quickly held up his prized copy of Frank Herbert’s book, a French-translation paperback with a particularly striking cover that he’s owned since he was 13. “I keep the book beside me as I’m working,” Villeneuve told me cheerfully over Zoom. “I made this movie for myself. Being a hard-core Dune fan, the first audience member I wanted to please was myself. Everything you receive is there because I love it.”…

(10) HERBERT’S FATHERING ROLE REFLECTED IN DUNE. The New Yorker’s Ed Park seems to have written a more interesting article than the one seen by the headline-writer: “The Enduring Appeal of ‘Dune’ as an Adolescent Power Fantasy”.

…Unlike Lynch or Alejandro Jodorowsky—the Chilean-French filmmaker who planned and failed to make a hallucinogenic twelve-hour version of “Dune” in the seventies—Villeneuve was a “Dune” fan from childhood, having come to the book at age thirteen. His connection to the material shows. The melancholy atmospheres of the alien-contact tale “Arrival” and the dystopian “Blade Runner” sequel are transmuted into a sort of interstellar emo, so that the dreams, fears, and ambitions of Paul Atreides (Timothée Chalamet) become as central to the film as the special effects and political skulduggery. Chalamet is twenty-five—the same age that Kyle MacLachlan was when Lynch’s “Dune” came out—but slighter, more vulnerable, closer to the “stringy whipcord of a youth” that Herbert describes….

(11) MEMORY LANE.

1934 – Eighty-seven years ago this day, Los Angeles got its Science Fiction club. The Los Angeles chapter of the Science Fiction League (No. 4) began meeting in 14-year-old Roy Test Jr.’s family garage on October 27, 1934. At LASFS’ 75 anniversary banquet  Roy joked that his mother, Wanda Test, volunteered to be club secretary as a way to come to the meetings “and see what kind of oddballs I was associating with. Maybe it didn’t occur to her I was the oddest one there.” She was the club’s first secretary and her minutes became known as “Thrilling Wanda Stories.” (The prozine Wonder Stories ran an article about the birth of the club in the February 1935 issue.)

Ten years after first LASFL meeting, Roy Test, Jr. was an Army Air Corps bomber pilot stationed in England. In 2005, at the age of 83, he could still wear his pink and greens from WWll. (SGVN Staff Photo/Sarah Reingewirtz, SVCITY)

Rob Hansen also points out today is the anniversary of the first meeting of the Ilford Science Literary Circle in 1930 – “If British fandom has a birthday, this is it.” 

(12) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born October 27, 1937 Steve Sandor. He made his first genre appearance on Trek playing Lars in the second season episode “The Gamesters of Triskelion.” He also did one-offs on Knight RiderFantasy Island and The Six-Million Dollar Man. He did a choice bit of horror in The Ninth Configuration. (Died 2017.)
  • Born October 27, 1939 John Cleese, 82. Monty Python of course, but also Time BanditsMary Shelley’s Frankenstein, two Bond films as Q and even two Harry Potter films as Nearly Headless Nick. He’s definitely deep into genre film roles. And let’s not forget he shows up as an art lover on the “City of Death” story, a Fourth Doctor story. 
  • Born October 27, 1948 Bernie Wrightson. Artist who with writer Len Wein is known for co-creating Swamp Thing. He did a lot of illustrations from Cemetery Dance magazine to Stephen King graphic novels to DC and Marvel comics. Tell me what you liked about his work.) Some of his horror work at Creepy magazine  is now available as Creepy Presents Bernie Wrightson at the usual digital suspects. (Died 2017.)
  • Born October 27, 1950 James L. Conway, 71. Director who has worked on all four on the new Trek franchise series: Next GenerationVoyagerDeep Space Nine and Enterprise.  He’s also done work on CharmedSmallville, Supernatural, the most excellent Magicians and Orville
  • Born October 27, 1953 Robert Picardo, 68. He debuted in genre as Eddie Quist, the serial killer werewolf in The Howling. He’d be in Dante’s ExplorersLooney Tunes: Back in ActionGremlins 2: The New BatchSmall Soldiers and Innerspace. And then of course he played the role of the Emergency Medical Hologram (EMH) on Voyager and on Star Trek: First Contact as well. And he even managed to appear on Stargate SG-1.  Like many Trek performers, he shows up on the Orville series as he played Ildis Kitan in a recurring role.
  • Born October 27, 1963 Deborah Moore, 57. English actress and the daughter of actor Roger Moore and Italian actress Luisa Mattioli. She’s an Air Hostess in Die Another Day, a Pierce Brosnan Bond film. And she was a secretary in Goldeneye: The Secret Life of Ian Fleming. Her very first role was as Princess Sheela in Warriors of the Apocalypse. She was in Top Line an Italian SF film.  
  • Born October 27, 1970 Jonathan Stroud, 51. His djinn-centered Bartimaeus series is most excellent. Though considered children’s novels, I think anyone would enjoy them. I’ve also read the first two in his Lockwood & Co. series as well — very well done.

(13) COMIC STRIP.

  • Bizarro shows the Roman insurance industry at work.
  • Off the Mark shows Dr. Frankenstein’s heartbreak.

(14) VIRTUAL IRISH CONVENTION. Cora Buhlert spent the first October weekend at Octocon, the Irish National Science Fiction Convention, which was virtual this year “for obvious reasons” as she noted: “Cora’s Adventures at the Virtual 2021 Octocon”.

…On Sunday, I was on the panel about “Uncovering the Hidden Treasures of the Past” with Michael Carroll, who was also the Octocon Guest of Honour, Cheryl Morgan, Deirdre Thornton. Ian Moore was the moderator. This panel was recorded and may be watched along with other great content at the Octocon Twitch channel.

Now everybody who knows me should know that I love talking about old SFF and the many great stories and novels of past decades that are not nearly as well known as they should be, so that was exactly the right panel for me. We agreed that reading and discussing older SFF is valuable, because it shows us where the genre came from and how it got where it is now. Besides, actually reading older SFF and not just the few books anointed classics either is also the best antidote against the common claim that women, people of colour, LGBTQ people, [insert minority here] were not writing SFF before the current time, because women, people of colour, LGBTQ people, etc… were always part of the genre, we have just chosen to forget and ignore many of them, denying the writers who follow role models….

(15) HAPPY 125TH ANNIVERSARY TO THE OTHER, OR AT LEAST ANOTHER, TBR. [Item by Daniel Dern.] TBR is, according to the lead essay in “The Very First Cover of the Book Review” in its Sunday October 24, 2021 edition, stands for “The Book Review” — “not to be confused with “to be read,” as the lead paragraph quickly notes. Its fuller non-acronymic initial name is NYTBR, as in, the New York Times Book Review, or, as I (and, I’m sure many others, including no doubt some of you), the Sunday Book Review section. (Possibly fewer these years because you’re reading it online, and so lacking the physical sectionality.)

This 125th-anniversary issue celebrates itself by reprinting reviews, essays, and a few letters, notable and interesting (and in some cases often amusing) from a mix of the book being reviewed, or the author reviewing it, and, in some cases, the letters.

(Since I’m a print-and-digital subscriber, I don’t know how much is visible through the paywall — or rather, how many articles the Times‘ free account offer permits. There does appear to currently be a buck-a-week-for-a-year digital offer, I see… so, assuming that New York Times digital access isn’t like Pringles potato chips (the process of cooking in their stackable format invented, as I’ve only recently learned, by Gene Wolfe, a name that dagnab better be familiar to 97% or greater of File 770 readers), you can enjoy this anniversary section within a week, for a buck, and then cancel. Or borrow a friend’s copy.)

For example (based on what I’ve read so far plus looking at the table of contents):

  • In Letters, Jack London responding to a review of his prizefighting story, “The Game,” that found fault with its realism:

I doubt if this reviewer has had as much experience in such matters as I have. I doubt if he knows what it is to be knocked out, or to knock out another man. I have had these experiences, and it was out of these experiences, plus a fairly intimate knowledge of prizefighting in general, that I wrote “The Game.”… I have just received a letter from Jimmy Britt, lightweight champion of the world, in which he tells me that he particularly enjoyed “The Game” on “account of its trueness to life.”

  • James Baldwin’s review of Alex Haley’s book, Roots
  • Rex Stout (creator of the Nero Wolfe books, of course — which include, along with detecting, many discussions of fine cooking, mostly between Wolfe and in-house chef Fritz Brenner) reviews The Alice B. Toklas Cook Book,
  • Sportswriter Roger Angell reviews “Books About Babe Ruth” (four biographies)
  • Vladimir Nabakov reviews Jean-Paul Sartre’s “Nausea” translated into English… spending a good chunk of the review showing and faulting sample translation inaccuracies.
  • A review of James Joyce’s “Ulysses.”

And with that, I’m going to go back, and finish reading Stout’s review of Toklas’ recipes.

(16) JIM JEFFERIES ON HALLOWEEN. “I Don’t Know About That with Jim Jefferies” devotes an episode to Halloween, discussing the holiday with Lisa Morton, six-time Bram Stoker Award-winning author and host of the “Spine Tinglers with Lisa Morton” podcast.

(17) HAVE SPACE SUITS, NO TRAVELLERS. Futurism.com finds a “Space Tourism Company Cancels Launch Because It Couldn’t Find any Passengers”.

In what could be a serious reality check for the buzz-filled space tourism industry, its most established player says it had to cancel its upcoming launch with SpaceX because it couldn’t find any viable — and sufficiently wealthy — passengers for the journey.

“The mission was marketed to a large number of our prospective customers, but ultimately the mix of price, timing and experience wasn’t right at that particular time and our contract with SpaceX expired,” [Space Adventures] company spokesperson Stacey Tearne told SpaceNews. “We hope to revisit the offering in the future.”…

(18) NOT GONE WITH THE WIND. If, no matter what the mission commander thinks, you want all the “gory details,” the New York Times article supplies them: “SpaceX’s Latest Engineering Challenge: A Leaky Toilet”.

…Jared Isaacman, the Inspiration4 mission commander, told CNN, “Nobody really wants to get into the gory details.”

Crew Dragon has more interior space than a minivan, but less than a studio apartment, and there is no proper bathroom. Instead, it has a device on its ceiling that astronauts use to relieve themselves — remember, there’s no up or down in microgravity. The device creates suction using an internal fan, crucial to ensuring human waste goes in the right direction in the weightlessness of space. Some officials vaguely said the toilet problem involved the fan, prompting even more questions.

A closely held secret no more….

(19) MAJOR EVENT AT THE SEC. Starting this weekend, the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) will be held in Glasgow at the SEC, which is also the proposed site for the Glasgow in 2024 Worldcon bid. A reader asks the question, “Will there be any spin-off benefit from this COP event (new facilities, kit etc)? Are the bid team actively keeping an eye on this?”

(20) BLUE MARBLE. This Muppets video dropped earlier in the week and is part of the forthcoming environmental special Dear Earth.

The Muppets perform the 70’s classic Mr. Blue Sky. It’s all part of the Dear Earth special; an epic global celebration of our planet and what we need to do to slow climate change. Sprinkled with musical performances Dear Earth also contains well-known climate activists, creators, and celebs who will all share ways to make our lives more sustainable.

(21) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In “Honest Trailers: Halloween Kills” the Screen Junkies say that “extra crispy” Michael Myers is lucky because his foes this time fight with hockey sticks, a cricket bat, and an iron.  “Where are all of your guns, people!” the narrator says.  “I thought this was America.  How drunk are you people?”  Also, how did they get someone to look like Donald Pleasance?

[Thanks to Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, Andrew (not Werdna), Daniel Dern, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Jennifer Hawthorne, John King Tarpinian, Andrew Porter, Michael Toman, and Cat Eldridge for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Russell Letson.]

Fireside Fiction Works
for Its Survival

Brian J. White has resumed full ownership of Fireside Fiction he said in an update today which also announced major staff changes at Fireside Magazine.

LeKesha Lewis is taking over as Publisher, the management of Fireside’s business and financial operations, and the roles of art director, designer, and webmaster.

Chelle Parker is now Managing Editor, handling editorial operations and the production schedule, as well as continuing to serve as copyeditor and proofreader.

White, Fireside Fiction’s founding editor and publisher from 2012-2017, had stepped in as interim editorial director last November, taking the place of Pablo Defendini as Fireside recovered from Defendini’s intensely criticized posting of an audio recording of a contributor’s essay done by a white narrator in an affected accent – something Defendini admitted he didn’t listen to before posting (see “Fireside Editor Apologizes for ‘Auditory Blackface’ by Narrator of Essay in November Issue”).

Brian J. White had remained one-third owner of the company when Defendini took on a majority interest in 2017. Today’s update says Defendini is giving up his entire stake in the company and stepping down from all duties at Fireside.

“We know that we have a lot of work to do to regain the community’s trust,” Fireside tweeted this morning. And the company has instituted a new policy for checking everything they publish:

In order to avoid anything like the publication of that racist recording happening again, Fireside has a new, simple rule: nothing will be published — on our site, our newsletter, our official social media accounts, etc. — without at least two members of Fireside staff reviewing it and affirmatively signing off on its publication. When making choices about materials associated with stories (art, audio, etc.) we will additionally consult with guest editors and authors as appropriate during the process and give them the chance to review the materials before publication.

Meantime, the company is still running in the red, even after cutting its print edition and taking other measures. To avoid having Fireside shut down, Mikki Kendall, Sarah Gailey, and DongWon Song are providing the financial backing needed to carry on for the next twelve months. (They’ll have no active role, power, or responsibility for the management of Fireside or for editorial and business decisions.) White says Fireside will need to bring in a considerable number of new subscribers over the next year to continue in business and repay their investment.

Pixel Scroll 1/28/21 And I Looked And Behold A Pale Pixel, And Their Name Who Sat On Them Was ´Scroll Title´

(1) ALL THAT JAZZ. Elle M. has a fascinating commentary on the difference between worldbuilding and lore. Thread starts here. A few quotes follow —

They also use the author of Harry Potter as a compelling example of where lore gets injected at the expense of worldbuilding.

(2) TRENDY PLACES. Sarah Gailey’s Stone Soup blog is hosting “Building Beyond,” an “ongoing series about accessible worldbuilding. Building a world doesn’t have to be hard or scary — or even purposeful. Anyone can do it. To prove that, let’s talk to both a writer and a non-writer about a worldbuilding prompt.” For “Building Beyond: Robot Dating”, editor Brian J. White and writer Suzanne Walker imagine where they’ve gone on a date with a giant robot.

Gailey’s dry synopsis should make you very curious to read the post:  

…Brian’s date is the foundation of a story about a robot who is learning to live in the world, and who just so happens to be inhabiting a city of decadences. Suzanne’s date is the beginning of a world in which robots and humans regularly go out together, and frogs have learned to cater to the complicated ecosystem of needs that arise in such relationships. 

(3) UNDER THE HARROW. Constance Grady and Vox’s critic at large Emily VanDerWerff undertake a “Harrow the Ninth discussion: profound grief and terrible puns” at Vox.

Constance Grady: I have a hard time working out exactly how I feel about volume two of this trilogy. Harrow the Ninth is a trickier book than Gideon the Ninth, in the same way that bitchy, conniving Harrow is a trickier protagonist than sweet basic jock Gideon.

First of all, there’s the problem of tone. Gideon mined enormous amounts of tension and humor out of the contrast between its lurid goth world and Gideon’s straightforward “it looks like a sword, I want to fight it” worldview and her dirty jokes. That’s part of what helps puncture the grandiosity of Muir’s worldbuilding and keep everything feeling accessible and human-scale, no matter how complicated the mythology might be.

But Harrowhark worships all the lurid skeletal nonsense around her with a religious intensity, and she considers boning jokes prurient. So the easy laughter of the first volume fades away: The jokes are meaner in Harrow than they were in Gideon, and darker….

(4) MRS. PEEL, WE’RE NEEDED. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In the January 23 Financial Times, Peter Aspden writes about the 60th anniversary of British TV series The Avengers, which was first broadcast in January 1960.

The plots (of The Avengers), in the meantime, got crazier.  In 1967’s ‘Epic,’ from the fifth season, Peel is kidnapped by a Teutonic film director named ZZ von Schnerk, who is filming a movie called The Destruction Of Emma Peel, for which he needs to kill her in real, or reel, life.  The self-referntiality was off the scale, now.  ‘Gloat all you like, but I am the star of his picture, says captive Peel to the villiainous director, and anyone interested in meta-texts.

Like so many of the fashions of the 1960s, Rigg only lasted a couple of seasons. She left to star in her own Bond Film, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, in which she showed that her range extended further than understated self-mockery (in fairness, she had also already played Cordelia opposite Paul Scofield’s Lear) by providing one of the franchise’s few genuinely heartbreaking endings.  Peel’s farewell to Steed was itself a rare poignant moment, a peck on the cheek with a final piece of womanly advice:  ‘Always keep your bowler on it times of stress.  And watch out for diabolical masterminds.’

(5) SPLATTERPUNK AWARDS. [Item by Dann.] Nominations are open for the 2021 Splatterpunk Awards through February 14.  Brian Keene and Wrath James White have been experiencing….ummm…difficulties in getting valid nominations.  Someone nominated HP Lovecraft who, being dead, is ineligible.  Also, he hasn’t published anything new in the last year.  Also, also, he hasn’t published anything that is close to being Splatterpunk.

Midnight Pals over on Twitter has the theoretic exchange where Brian and Wrath try to explain how this is supposed to work.  (I’m pretty sure that Dean Koontz didn’t nominate HP Lovecraft.)

The awards will be presented during a ceremony at the 2021 Killercon Convention, taking place in Austin, Texas.

In addition to the Splatterpunk Awards, author John Skipp will receive this year’s J.F. Gonzalez Lifetime Achievement Award for his contributions to the field.

(6) FLOWER POWER. Galactic Journey’s Vicki Lucas encounters a classic of the Sixties: “[January 28, 1966] The Book as Rorschach Test (Flowers for Algernon)”.

…Try as I might, I have great difficulty thinking of this novel as a science-fiction story. It could be conceived of as a psychological thriller, but no one dies except a mouse. It is deeply psychological and delves as far into the brain as anyone can get right now, accepting Freudian analysis as routine, while it is Jung’s “individuation” that the main character, Charlie Gordon, seeks without a guide except for his reading.

…I recommend this book, no matter its genre, and hope that anyone who reads it finds him- or herself touched by the plight of both those who are “exceptional” on the low end and those “exceptional” on the high end.

What will you see in it?

I see five stars.

(7) TAPPING INTO TED WHITE. Fanac.org posted a second installment of Ted White’s livestreamed interview, conducted by John D. Berry.

Ted White has been a science fiction fan for over 70 years, as well as an artist, fanzine editor and publisher, professional writer, editor and jazz critic. Interviewer John D. Berry has known Ted for more than 50 years. 

In part 2 of the January 23, 2021 interview, Ted talks about how he began writing professional science fiction, and the influence of Marion Zimmer Bradley, Terry Carr, Bob Tucker and others. There are anecdotes of the New York Fanoclasts and of how the bid for the 1967 NyCon3 came about. 

Ted discusses “The Club House” column in Amazing Stories, responsible for bringing many into fandom in the early 1970s, and speaks of his many fanzine collaborations, along with challenges along the way. This Zoom interview was very well received by all the attendees, who clamored for more. Look for the next part of the interview.

(8) WATER UNDER THE BRIDGE. Camestros Felapton risked his eyeballs – will you? “I watched Star Trek – Lower Decks”.

…Pitched as humorous, adult-orientated animated series in the Star Trek universe, the series creator is Mike McMahan, a lead writer from Rick and Morty. However, the show’s humour is both less crude and less imaginative than that show, indeed overall it pitches itself at ‘amusing’ rather than ‘funny’. The obvious comparison is with The Orville, rather than Galaxy Quest or John Scalzi’s Redshirts….

(9) IMAGINARY PAPERS. ASU’s Center for Science and the Imagination has published the fifth issue of Imaginary Papers, a quarterly newsletter on science fiction worldbuilding, futures thinking, and imagination. (Use this link to subscribe for future issues.)

Issue #5 features writing from games critic Emma Kostopolus, on the space opera game Mass Effect 3 (2012), and writer and educator Malik Toms, on John Sayles’ The Brother from Another Planet (1984), as well as a piece from me about the collection Scotland in Space (2019).

 (10) MEMORY LANE.

  • 2000 — Twenty one years ago at Chicon 2000, Galaxy Quest, a DreamWorks film, would win the Hugo for Best Dramatic Presentation. It would edge out The Matrix (which lost by just three votes), The Sixth SenseBeing John Malkovich and The Iron Giant. It was directed by Dean Parisot. Screenwriters David Howard and Robert Gordon worked off the story by David Howard. It’s considered by many Trekkies to the best Trek film ever made. 

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]

  • Born January 28, 1820 – Vilhelm Pedersen.  First illustrator of Hans Christian Andersen; a hundred twenty-five in the five-volume 1849 edition.  Indispensable like Tenniel’s for Lewis Carroll.  Here is “The Top and Ball”.  Here is “The Flying Trunk”.  Here is “Hyldemor”.  Here is “Thumbelina”.  (Died 1859) [JH]
  • Born January 28, 1834 – Sabine Baring-Gould.  Anglican priest, author of fiction, folklorist.  Grandfather of the Holmes scholar.  Wrote “Onward, Christian Soldiers” (music by Sir Arthur Sullivan).  This edition including Curious Myths of the Middle Ages and Were-wolves appeared recently.  (Died 1924) [JH]
  • Born January 28, 1929 Parke Godwin. I’ve read a number of his novels and I fondly remember in particular Sherwood and Robin and the King. If you’ve not read his excellent Firelord series, I do recommend you do so. So who has read his Beowulf series? (Died 2013.) (CE)
  • Born January 28, 1931 – Komatsu Sakyô.  (Personal name last, Japanese style.)  Leading Japanese SF author.  Most famous for Japan Sinks.  Two shorter stories in this collection.  Author Guest of Honor at Nippon2007 the 65th Worldcon – of which, incidentally, you can see my report here (PDF).  (Died 2011) [JH]
  • Born January 28, 1957 – Joanne Findon, Ph.D., age 64.  Assistant Professor of English at Trent Univ. (Peterborough, Ontario).  Two novels for us.  “I blame my two lifelong passions – writing fiction and studying the past – on … Lloyd Alexander.”  More here.  [JH]
  • Born January 28, 1959 Frank Darabont, 62. Early on, he was mostly a screenwriter for horror films such as A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream WarriorsThe Blob and The Fly II, allminor horror filmsAs a director, he’s much better known as he’s done, The Green MileThe Shawshank Redemption and The Mist.  He also developed and executive-produced the first season of The Walking Dead. He also wrote Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein that I like a lot. (CE) 
  • Born January 28, 1961 – Michael Paraskevas, age 60.  Illustrator and animation producer.  With his mother Betty, books and television Maggie and the Ferocious BeastMarvin the Tap-Dancing Horse.  MP encouraged BP, which I think is cool.  A score of books, some with her, some not.  Spaceships and many other things at MP’s Website.  [JH]
  • Born January 28, 1981 Elijah Wood, 40. His first genre role is as Video-Game Boy #2 in Back to the Future Part II. He next shows up as Nat Cooper in Forever Young followed by playing Leo Biederman In Deep Impact. Up next was his performance as Frodo Baggins In The Lord of The Rings and The Hobbit films. Confession time: I watched the very first of these. Wasn’t impressed.  He’s done some other genre work as well including playing Todd Brotzman in the Beeb’s superb production of Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency. (CE) 
  • Born January 28, 1985 Tom Hopper, 36. His principal genre role was on the BBC Merlin series as Sir Percival. He also shows up in Doctor Who playing Jeff during the “The Eleventh Hour” episode which would be during the time of the Eleventh Doctor. He’s also Luther Hargreeves in The Umbrella Academy which is an adaptation of the comic book series of the same name, created by Gerard Way and Gabriel Bá. (CE) 
  • Born January 28, 1986 – Dame Jessica Ennis-Hill, age 35.  This historic champion track & field athlete has recently written half a dozen children’s fantasies with Elen Caldecott, may the name be for a good omen.  Here’s the latest I know of.  [JH]
  • Born January 28, 1998 Ariel Winter, 23. Voice actress whose shown up in such productions as Mr. Peabody & Sherman as Penny Peterson, Horton Hears a Who!DC Showcase: Green Arrow as Princess Perdita and Batman: The Dark Knight Returns as Carrie Kelly (Robin). She’s got several one-off live performances on genre series, The Haunting Hour: The Series and Ghost Whisperer. (CE)

(12) COMICS SECTION.

At xkcd Randall Munroe has a couple more installments on his living in a scaled world series:

(13) SPACE UNICORNS SOUND OFF. You have until February 8 to make your voice heard: “Uncanny Celebrates Reader Favorites of 2020!”

We’ve set up a poll for Uncanny readers to vote for their top three favorite original short stories from 2020. (You can find links to all of the stories here.)

The poll will be open from January 11 to February 8, after which we’ll announce the results. We’re excited for you to share which Uncanny stories made you feel!

snazzy certificate will be given to the creator whose work comes out on top of  the poll!

(14) CON CALLS ON FANS FOR HELP. “Otakon Discusses Future, Asks for Donations” reports the Anime News Network. Their 2021 event is scheduled to be held at Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington, D.C. from August 6 to 8. Last year’s Otakon was cancelled.

Otakorp president Brooke Zerrlaut announced in a newsletter on Thursday that the organization is requesting donations for the first time. The Otakon convention’s staff are continuing to evaluate plans for 2021 and noted that the event may “potentially close” permanently.

The newsletter explained that Otakorp, a volunteer-run non-profit organization, runs the annual Otakon convention dedicated to Asian culture. Because of the cancelation of Otakon 2020 due to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, the organization is in a “precarious position.”

(15) A WRITER’S BEGINNING AND END. Book and Film Globe in“The Tragedy of Karl Edward Wagner” reviews a documentary about the acclaimed fantasy writer and editor.

The makers of the new Vimeo documentary, The Last Wolf: Karl Edward Wagner, have trained their lens on an elusive horror and fantasy writer with a cult following. Besides the stories of supernatural and psychological terror collected in In a Lonely Place (1983) and Why Not You and I? (1987), Wagner spun tales about Kane, a hero sometimes compared to Robert E. Howard’s Conan the Barbarian, who wanders and fights his way through a fantasy realm peopled with brigands, thieves, sorcerers, monks, and shapeshifters. This body of work exceeds the better-known Conan mythos in its sexuality and violence, tropes that Wagner used with uneven results.

Wagner was also a longtime editor of the Year’s Best Horror Stories series, showcasing the work of Stephen King, Ramsey Campbell, Harlan Ellison, Robert Bloch, Brian Lumley, Elizabeth Hand, David J. Schow, T.E.D. Klein, Charles L. Grant, Dennis Etchison, and dozens of others in the field. A few of these scribes appear in The Last Wolf, with especially vivid remembrances coming from Campbell and Etchison. Peter Straub, who wrote a foreword to In a Lonely Place, also has a lot to say.

…The sources interviewed in The Last Wolf render a portrait of an ambitious youth who collected paperbacks, became well known to the staff of a used bookshop in Knoxville through constant visits, and liked to freak out his nephews with spooky tales as they lay in their beds by an open window. While still in high school, Wagner meets a charming young woman, Barbara Mott, on a double date. He later marries her. His career enters high gear in the 1970s as he churns out stories, but not novels, and he stays busy writing and editing through the 1980s and 1990s, almost right up to his death.

“The Fourth Seal” is about a scientist looking to cure cancer. Wagner became the victim of something comparable its destructiveness. The Last Wolf doesn’t skirt around the plunge into alcoholism that drew growing concern on the part of Wagner’s peers in the weird field and led to the end of his marriage. Some of the recollections are hard to take. 

(16) BUY BUTLER. The London Review Bookshop’s Author of the Month is Octavia E. Butler.

Our Author of the Month for February is the American Science Fiction writer Octavia E. Butler.

In her many sometimes interlocking works Butler asks questions about race, gender and, pre-eminently, hierarchy in startling ways, and to offer equally startling versions of possible futures, often dystopian, that are uncannily like the present. This is extraordinary writing, written against the grain of gender and race prejudice and against the grain of Butler’s own persistent writer’s block.

Start with her masterpiece Kindred. We’re next to certain you won’t stop there.

(17) A GLIMPSE OF SF HISTORY. Samuel R. Delany reminisced about Judith Merril in a Facebook post.

Judith Merrill [sic] (Boston, 21 Jan 1923—Toronto, 12 Sept 1997), was—for the last years of her life, one of my best friends in the science fiction world, and thus, like all of her friends, to me she was “Judy” and I—to her—was “Chip.” We could never quite agree about where we met. During the time I was sharing a room with my friend, Bob Aarenberg, at the St. Marks Arms, on West 113th St., in NYC, and in our upstairs neighbor Randy Garrett took me to a party in Greenwich Village, where I met her and talked with her quite a while. But a few years later, she had no memory of that meeting. But as a kid I’d read her collaborations with C. M. [K]ornbluth (the Gunner Cade books), and thoroughly enjoyed them; I’d read a handful full of her stories—”Only a Mother,” which I felt was okay, but also “Dead Center” which I felt was much stronger (and still do after several rereadings of both and others)—but the writings of hers that meant most to me was her critical work….

(18) BUT THEY DID. James Davis Nicoll remembers “Five SF Empires That Seemed Too Big to Fail”, by authors Andre Norton, Phyillis Eisenstein, John Scalzi, Walter Jon Williams, and H. Beam Piper.

(19) FOR THE EAR AND THE EYE. Cora Buhlert’s spotlight series detours to visit with the creator of a semiprozine: “Not-a-Fanzine Spotlight: Simultaneous Times”.

Why did you decide to start your site or zine?

…The Simultaneous Times Newsletter started when the pandemic lockdowns started. Usually I’m at my bookstore six days a week, and since we specialize in science fiction, most of my conversations center around the genre. Immediately I began to miss the conversations and my customers, so I started the newsletter as a way to stay connected with science fiction fans. Since then it has just grown. But we still give free subscriptions. I thought people would prefer to get a letter in the mail over receiving an email.

What format do you use for your site or zine (blog, e-mail newsletter, PDF zine, paper zine) and why did you choose this format?

Several members of my team, including myself, have a background in radio. When we all started talking about starting a podcast we decided that we wanted to produce the program the way that radio shows were produced in the past. Really take the radio arts approach instead of going with modern trends in podcasting. Since then we’ve even teamed up with the radio station KZZH 96.7 in Northern California, so our program did end up on the air.

The Newsletter is print because I wanted to put something physical in people’s hands, especially during this time of not being able to see each other. That being said, I have started to put the back issues on our website, so the archive is available to everyone

(20) IT’S PEOPLE! Shiv Ramdas comments on a trending topic. Thread starts here.

(21) THE SINS OF STARSHIP TROOPERS. [Item by Dann.] The guys at Cinema Sins have  “Everything Wrong With Starship Troopers in 19 Minutes or Less”. (Parenthetically, I’m not looking for the 5,681st iteration of “The book is better than the movie” or the 12,259th iteration of “Verhoeven never read the book!”.  I like ’em both for different reasons.  And the Cinema Sins guys are great.)

(22) TINGLE REVIEWED IN THE GUARDIAN. [Item by PhilRM.] Here are words I never expected to read in the Guardian: “’My Antifa Lover’: I read the weirdest Trump-era erotica so you don’t have to” by J. Oliver Cromwell.

…In recent years, Amazon’s e-books market has nurtured a flourishing cottage industry of self-published romance and erotic literature – and the Trump years have inspired many to put pen to paper. The most successful authors (most write under pseudonyms) are known for their prolific publication, thesaurus-aided descriptions of the human anatomy, and responsiveness to current events.

The surreality of the past four years was particularly generative of their creative juices. With the Trump era now drawn to a chaotic close, we decided to review four of the most memorable entries in this niche literary genre.

I’m strangely drawn to the title “My Antifa Lover”, although slightly disappointed that Conroy opted to review Chuck Tingle’s Pounded In The Butt By The Handsome Physical Manifestation Of Tromp’s [sic] Twitter Ban That Should’ve Come Years Sooner But Fine Now That It’s Here High Five rather than the frankly superior Domald Tromp [sic] Pounded In The Butt By The Handsome Russian T-Rex Who Also Peed On His Butt And Then Blackmailed Him With The Videos Of His Butt Getting Peed On. No, I have no idea how the internet got us here either, really.

I feel compelled to note that the reviewer gave Tingle’s work 5/5.

(23) VIDEO OF THE DAY. In the 1780s, a charismatic healer caused a stir in Paris. An amusing video about the history of Mesmer’s methods and how he influenced medicine in the late 18th Century. Vox recalls The phony health craze that inspired hypnotism”.

Scientific progress in the 18th century in Europe, a period known as the “Age of Enlightenment,” was demystifying the universe with breakthroughs in chemistry, physics, and philosophy. But medical practices were still relying on centuries-old treatments, like leeching and bloodletting, which were painful and often ineffective. So when Franz Anton Mesmer, a charismatic physician from Vienna, began “healing” people in Paris using an alternative therapeutic practice he called “animal magnetism,” it got a lot of attention. Mesmer claimed that an invisible magnetic fluid was the life force that connected all things and that he had the power to regulate it to restore health in his patients. He was a celebrity figure until the King of France, Louis XVI, commissioned a group of leading scientists to investigate his methods in 1784. Benjamin Franklin headed the commission, and they debunked the existence of the magnetic fluid in the first-known blind experiment. Mesmer was ruined, but “mesmerism” didn’t end there. The report also acknowledged that Mesmer’s methods were making his patients feel better, which they attributed to the power of the human imagination. This experiment ultimately laid the groundwork for our understanding of the placebo effect and inspired an evolution of Mesmer’s practice into something more recognizable today: hypnotism.

[Thanks to JJ, Martin Morse Wooster, Dann, Andrew Porter, Cora Buhlert, Cat Eldridge, Michael Toman, John Hertz, Mike Kennedy, Mlex, Joey Eschrich, Rob Thornton, Michael J. Walsh, PhilRM, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Peer, who has ridden the fourth horse once before.]

Brian White Takes Over As Interim Editor at Fireside

Brian J. White announced today that Pablo Defendini is resigning from all editorial functions at Fireside Fiction Company (Fireside Magazine and Fireside Books). White, Fireside Fiction’s founding editor and publisher from 2012-2017, is returning as interim editorial director.

The change is being made as Fireside tries to recover from Defendini’s intensely criticized posting of an audio recording of a contributor’s essay by a white narrator in an affected accent, exacerbated by Defendini’s admission that he didn’t listen to it before posting it (see “Fireside Editor Apologizes for ‘Auditory Blackface’ by Narrator of Essay in November Issue”).

White, who remained one-third owner of the company when he stepped down, says:

I will be serving several roles in the capacity of interim editorial director: I will oversee the continuity of publication of Fireside’s contracted stories; lead a review and rework of Fireside’s quality control, production, and approvals process; and lead the search for a new editor-in-chief. While I will be working with the guest editors for each issue, story selection and editing will remain under their control.

Pablo Defendini, the majority owner of Fireside Fiction Company, continues as its Publisher & Art Director. He will not have a role in editorial decision-making, but he will for now remain as art director (magazine layout/design and art), as well as managing the finances and a number of other administrative functions.

White explains the necessity of this:

…The magazine has one other permanent staff member, copyeditor and proofreader Chelle Parker, and otherwise relies on freelance guest editors and artists. Simply put, there is no one in place to hand these many operations over to. If Pablo were to fully resign today, both Fireside Magazine and Fireside Books would fold, and along with them all the stories, essays, and other content in the pipeline, which currently extends deep into 2021. We strongly want to avoid causing that kind of harm to those authors.

To aid the transition, Fireside will postpone the submissions period for the Autumn 2021 issue of Fireside Quarterly, under guest editor Brandon O’Brien.

And they are indefinitely pausing the publication of all audio recordings of stories. Chelle Parker will lead a review of all previously published audio on FiresideFiction.com to look for any other problematic recordings.

White says he will only be acting as editorial director for a matter of months. He is committed to finding a new editor-in-chief who comes from a marginalized background:

I am a cis, straight, white man with some chronic pain disabilities. And I know that long-term, a cis, straight, white man is not what Fireside needs in its leadership roles. I’m taking on this temporary role only because my familiarity with Fireside means I’m well-positioned to do so on short notice and without a need for extensive orientation.

During White’s prevous tenure Fireside published 150 stories, plus longer works, and produced the influential #BlackSpecFic report (2016).


Also today, the Washington Post published its account of the controversy, “Fireside Magazine’s art director Pablo Defendini apologizes for ‘auditory blackface’”. The reporter reached out to the main figures in the story, including narrator Kevin Rineer who makes several mitigating claims for his performance that were not mentioned in his original Twitter or YouTube apologies (which File 770 was able to review in the time they were online before Rineer deleted them.)

Rineer told The Post in a statement that he was unaware he would be reading a Black woman’s work when he auditioned for Fireside Quarterly and that he only received the full manuscript for the work after signing a contract.

Communications lapsed, Rineer said, when he reached out to Fireside and Bradley through a distributor and didn’t get a response. Rineer says he wishes he would have broken the contract rule to contact Bradley directly about her work.

“My normal narrative style is to read with a general West Coast American accent. I made the mistake of reading Dr. Bradley’s work and assuming an accent that was not representative of her voice,” he said. “I had tried to find a different narrator who would be a suitable representative in my network and via public forums, to no avail, in the week-long time frame I had.”

Goodreads v. FIYAH, Round 2

Brian J. White, founding editor of Fireside Magazine, today pursued Goodreads’ deletion of FIYAH’s Series listing in two different forums on Goodreads. (He screencapped the entire interaction.) Thread starts here.

And there was heightened concern after Anathema Magazine, a “spec fic mag of work by queer POC/Indigenous/Aboriginals,” reported Goodreads has deleted its entry, too.

The discussion surfaced the Goodreads Librarian who deleted Anathema and some issues of FIYAH. A couple of excerpts (note, unfortunately I can’t make WordPress display only the selected tweet, so these come in pairs) —

Responses by Goodreads participants have focused on (1) Goodreads has a policy against listing publications which lack ASIN/ISBN numbers, and (2) denying that the enforcement could be anything besides business as usual, let alone an individual or institutional expression of racism.

Here are links to the discussions –

An important element of the controversy has been that Goodreads deleted these particular spec fic magazines while leaving intact the listings for many others. Neil Clarke of Clarkesworld, in a twitter thread that can be reached via Carrie Cuinn, describes his own encounters with Goodreads librarians, what rules were invoked then, and how decisions were made. Some of his tweets say —

Due to the attention now being paid, a reader contacted Brian J. White to say that an issue of his Fireside Magazine was (at some point) deleted by Goodreads –

Responses to Goodreads’ actions also include —

Bridget of SF Bluestocking wrote a thread which says in part:

Escape Artists says they will be taking down Mothership Zeta’s Goodreads listing in protest:

[Thanks to JJ and Mark Hepworth for the story.]

Pixel Scroll 7/17/17 All Along The Scrolltower Pixels Kept The View

(1) BY PIXEL AND PAPER. The Dublin in 2019 Worldcon bid tells what its publications policy will be for PR’s and the Souvenir Book.

So what should we do about our progress reports?

I note that for some people this is an access issue, and therefore, we will be having hard copies available for anyone who selects them as an access issue. To be clear, Progress Reports are complimentary and we’d like to send them to anyone who needs them for an access issue. Just tick the box please.

We will be sending them out electronically of course if you allow us to.

I noted that some people still liked them, as a historical document or just because they enjoy reading hard copy, and that is very cool, and the Dublin 2019 team will be making sure that anyone who wants a hard copy progress report can get one. There will be a charge of €10 Ten Euro for this.

I hope all of you are OK with this decision and support us in it.

This does not affect our plans for our Souvenir book which we plan to offer in hard copy to all members, full and supporting, and which we are happy to mail to anyone who doesn’t pick it up at con.

(2) HELP PABLO GO THE DISTANCE. Leigh Ann Hildebrand has launched a Generosity.com appeal to send Pablo Vasquez to Helsinki for Worldcon 75. The goal is $1,100. Here’s the pitch:

Bringing NASFiC to San Juan, Puerto Rico was great thing — and one of the prime movers behind that successful bid and con has been Pablo Vazquez. I was really looking forward to congratulating Pablo at the con in Helsinki and to hearing all about that NASFiC.

And then Pablo told me he wouldn’t be joining fans in Helsinki this year.

Money’s tight for Pablo; he’s been prioritizing travel and preparations for this historic and awesome NASFiC. Now he finds himself short of funds for his last travel expenses. He’s got accommodations and a membership covered, but his fixed-cost airfare and incidental expenses are beyond his means this summer.

This is where my fellow fans come in. Help me get Pablo to Helsinki! Here’s what he needs:

$600 for the air fare (it’s a fixed cost, ’cause he knows a guy.)

$500 for food, travel incidentals, walkin’ around money and buying a round. That may seem like a lot, but food in Finland is not cheap, and there’s no con suite this year, so he can’t live on Doritos and free sodas. 🙂

(3) SFF FILM FESTIVAL. Seattle’s Museum of Pop Culture (MoPOP) in partnership with SIFF is now accepting entries for the 2018 Science Fiction + Fantasy Short Film Festival (SFFSFF).

The festival will accept animated or live-action submissions of original science fiction or fantasy stories (examples: futuristic stories, space adventure, technological speculation, social experiments, utopia and dystopia, sword and sorcery, folklore, urban fantasy, magic, and mythic adventure).

A nationally recognized panel of distinguished film, television, literature, and science fiction industry professionals, peers, and film critics will review qualifying submissions to determine the winners of the Grand Prize, Second Place, Third Place, and the Douglas Trumbull Award for Best Visual Effects. Festival films will also be eligible for the Audience Favorite award.

In order to qualify, submitted films must have been completed after December 31, 2012, and must not exceed 15 minutes. Films that exceed 15 minutes may still be considered for festival inclusion but will not be eligible for awards.

See the link for guidelines, deadlines and fees.

(5) WHAT ARE THEY WATCHING? Adam-Troy Castro sighed on Facebook:

Over the past few years I have encountered Harry Potter fans who were abusive bullies, Star Trek fans who were against diversity, and now Doctor Who fans who were close-minded and unkind.

It’s like none of them were paying any attention at all.

I am looking forward to the emergence of Batman fans who are in favor of crime.

Since the targets of Castro’s comment might miss the point, Matthew M. Foster restated the message more explicitly:

The second is that people don’t see theme. SF is about space ships and explosions. Fantasy is about swords. The actual thing trying to be conveyed is missed far more often than not. The light was brought to this in a “funny” way to our little lit community by Brad and the Pups a few years back when Star Trek was pointed out to be first and foremost, about adventure and action–about combat in space. From the same group, there was a great deal of discussion in which they confused the theme with something incidental to the story because the incidental thing was not part of their normal life. So, if a story happened to have someone gay in it, then the story must be about sexual preference. If the story had a Black lead, then the theme must be about race. These are people that are big fans of science fiction, and they couldn’t see the themes.

(6) MAD PENIUS CLUB. And right on time, here’s Dave Freer’s death-kiss for the Thirteenth Doctor.

The trouble with this is it’s a judgement call, and especially inside the various bubbles (New York Publishing, Hollywood, and in the UK the Beeb’s little Guardian-and-Birkenstock club) they’re often so distant and unconnected with audiences outside their bubble that they assume they think like them and will respond like them. Which is why they have flops like the Ghostbusters remake, because they assumed the audience for the movie was just dying for a feminist version, with lots of man-kicking. Dr Who is trying much the same thing with a female Doctor. It could work because that audience is already pretty much restricted to inside their bubble. Still, with a new writer, and female lead after 12 male ones… She’ll have to be a good actress, and he’ll have to be a better writer. I expect we’ll see a long sequence of designated victim minorities cast in the role in future, until the show dies. I doubt we’ll ever see another white hetero male, but maybe that’s just me being cynical.

(7) HEADWRITER CANON. Prospect’s James Cooray Smith declares: “Uncomfortable with a female Doctor Who? It’s time to admit your real motives”.

…Steven Moffat, Doctor Who’s Executive Producer from 2010 to 2017, used to make a habit, when asked if there was ever going to be a female Doctor, of throwing the question back to the audience. He’d ask for a show of hands as to who did and didn’t like the idea. Even half a decade ago, those audiences would be roughly balanced into pros and antis—although, as he noted, the proportion of “likes” was exponentially increasing every time he passed the question back.

In the last few years, the idea has gone from almost universally disliked to “Why hasn’t this happened already?”

Laying the canonical foundations

Moffat has played no small part in that himself. The first lines of dialogue given to Matt Smith’s Doctor, the first lines of Moffat’s era, see the newly regenerated Doctor, who cannot see his own face, wondering if he’s now female. A year later in “The Doctor’s Wife,” produced by Moffat and written by Neil Gaiman, the Doctor comments of a dead Time Lord friend The Corsair, “He didn’t feel himself unless he had a tattoo. Or herself, a couple of times”.

Three years after that, Moffat cast Michelle Gomez as ‘Missy’, the Doctor’s oldest friend and arch enemy, a character previously only played by male actors and usually referred to as the Master. A year after that—just to make sure that no one regarded Missy as an exception that proves the rule—Moffat had Ken Bones’ recurring Time Lord character The General regenerate into T’Nia Miller, changing sex and ethnicity simultaneously. Other Time Lords in the series treated this as momentarily distracting but thoroughly routine.

It now seems daft to say that such groundwork needed to be done: after all, the character of the doctor is an alien who merely looks human. But the series itself had never hinted that the idea was possible before 2010. Now, any viewer who has seen an episode with Missy in knows the Doctor’s own people can, and do, change sex. No one can pretend the idea isn’t part of the series, no matter how much they may want to. Moffat’s careful layering over years shows up any objections to the series having a female lead for what they are.

(8) NEVERTHELESS. Alison Scott has a shirt she would love to sell you. I bought one for my daughter. (U.K. orders here; U.S. orders here.)

(9) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • July 17, 1955 — Disneyland Park opened in Anaheim, California
  • July 17, 1967 — Contact with Surveyor 4 lost 2.5 minutes before Moon touchdown.
  • July 17, 1987 Robocop, released on this day
  • July 17, 1988 – Debut of the sci-fi telefilm Out of Time…starring Bill Maher…yes that Bill Maher.
  • July 17, 1992 — Honey, I Blew Up The Kid in theaters.

(10) COMIC SECTION. Andrew Porter noticed Zippy the Pinhead mentioned d Emshwiller.

(11) READING PLEASURE. Look for the SF pulps! Photos of old newsstands.

(12) ADAM WEST REMEMBERED. “Family Guy pays tribute to Adam West with nine-minute highlight reel” – from Entertainment Weekly.

As famous as he was for playing Batman — and he was very famous for that — Adam West was also known to another generation of fans for his wacky work on Family Guy. The late actor, who popped up and scored in more than 100 episodes as Mayor Adam West, left a colorful, indelible imprint on the animated Fox comedy — as well as on its producers and fans.

 

(13) WORLDCON PROGRAM. Worldcon 75 put its draft program schedule online today.

There are three ways to view the programme schedule DRAFT:

(14) HAUNTED HELSINKI. Adrienne Foster has arranged a “Ghost walking tour of Helsinki” for the convenience of Worldcon 75 members. It will be an English-speaking tour at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, 9 August 2017.

Once again, those interested in reserving a spot on the tour need to be a member of Meetup.com and join Bay Area Ghost Hunters. Joining is free on both counts, but the fee for the ghost walk is to cover the cost of the tour operator. Yes, it was deliberate putting the “prere…gistration” fee in U.S. dollars and the “at-the-door” cost in euros.

As the 75th World Science Fiction Convention (aka Worldcon 75) rolls around again, it gives me another opportunity to arrange a ghost walk of its host city, Helsinki. Yes, that’s in Finland. Ghost walks are one of my favorite things to do when I’m traveling and it’s always a lot more fun to do them with like-minded companions. To make it even more attractive to the many members who don’t speak Finnish, the tour operator has an English-speaking tour available.

Although this has been timed for the convenience of Worldcon 75 members, all BAGH members are welcome to participate. If anyone just happens to have coinciding travel plans to Helsinki, please join us.

In addition to ghost stories, guests on these tours learn a lot about the history of the locale, particularly some of its macabre past. It even starts at a hotel that is a converted prison.

(15) MINGLE LIKE TINGLE. Is this going to be an “I am Spartacus” kind of thing?

(16) AUREALIS AWARDS. The 2017 Aurealis Awards are now open for nominations. Eligible works must be created by an Australian citizen, or permanent resident, and published for the first time this year.

(17) VENUS AND MARS. David D. Levine’s second novel, Arabella and the Battle of Venus, sequel to the Andre Norton Award winning Arabella of Mars, comes out this week.

The thrilling adventures of Arabella Ashby continue in Arabella and the Battle of Venus, the second book in Hugo-winning author David D. Levine’s swashbuckling sci-fi, alternate history series!

Arabella’s wedding plans to marry Captain Singh of the Honorable Mars Trading Company are interrupted when her fiancé is captured by the French and sent to a prisoner-of-war camp on swampy Venus. Now, Arabella must find passage to an enemy-controlled planet in the middle of a war, bribe or fight her way past vicious guards, and rescue her Captain.

To do this she must enlist the help of the dashing privateer, Daniel Fox of the Touchstone and build her own clockwork navigational automaton in order to get to Venus before the dread French general, Joseph Fouché, the Executioner of Lyon.

Once on Venus, Arabella, Singh, and Fox soon discover that Napoleon has designed a secret weapon, one that could subjugate the entire solar system if they can’t discover a way to stop Fouché, and the entire French army, from completing their emperor’s mandate.

Levine will be doing a book tour:

He is currently drafting the final book in the trilogy, currently titled Arabella and the Winds of Phobos but may end up being called Arabella the Traitor of Mars.

(18) NEWCOMERS TO THE HEARTH. Fireside Fiction is undergoing a change of management, with Brian J. White stepping down. Pablo Defendini is taking over as publisher and Elsa Sjunneson-Henry as managing editor. Julia Rios and Mikki Kendall are also joining the team.

White is leaving to focus on his work as a journalist.

As many of you know, I work at a newspaper. And that work has been consuming more and more of my time lately, with both the volume and the importance of the news rising in a way we’ve never experienced in this country. And it comes alongside a level of furious, violent antipathy toward the press that is somehow both wildly shocking and banally predictable.

Fireside has been the labor of love of my life, and it kills me to step away. But I am a journalist, first and always, and I need to focus my energy on the work we are doing. A lot of people have made fun of the earnestness of the Washington Post’s Democracy Dies in Darkness slogan, but it is true, and I won’t let the light go out.

Mikki Kendall has been signed on as editor to lead the follow-up to last year’s #BlackSpecFic report, which White says will be out soon. [Hat tip to Earl Grey Loose-leaf Links #43.]

(19) THE COOLEST. Arthur C. Clarke would be proud, as the search for extra-terrestrial life turns to ice worlds.

Chris McKay has fallen out of love with Mars. The red, dusty, corroded world no longer holds the allure it once did.

“I was obsessed with life on Mars for many years,” confesses the Nasa planetary scientist, who has spent most of his career searching for signs of life on the red planet.

“It’s seduction at the highest level,” he says. “I’m abandoning my first love and going after this other one that’s shown me what I wanted to see.”

The new object of McKay’s affections is Enceladus, the ice-encrusted moon of Saturn. Investigated by the joint Nasa and European Space Agency (Esa) Cassini space probe, the moon is spewing out plumes of water from its south pole – most likely from a liquid ocean several kilometres beneath the surface. Cassini has found this water contains all the vital ingredients for life as we know it: carbon, nitrogen and a readily available source of energy in the form of hydrogen.

“I think this is it,” says McKay. “From an astrobiology point of view, this is the most interesting story.”

(20) SO BAD IT’S GOOD. Marshall Ryan Maresca extols the antique virtues of the 1980s movie: “ELECTRIC DREAMS: A Bad Movie I’ve Watched Many, Many, MANY Times”.

The Eighties got a lot of mileage out of the idea that computers were magic.  I mean, the fundamental principle of Weird Science is that Wyatt has, like, a 386 with a 14.4 modem and a scanner, which he can connect to the Pentagon and make a goddamn genie with it.  Most Hollywood movies today still let computers be magical, but not to the same degree.  And few movies go as full out crazy with the idea as Electric Dreams.

For those not in the know, Electric Dreams is a relatively small, simple movie, in which an architect named Miles (he might be an engineer—something to do with buildings) lives in the downstairs part of a duplex, below gorgeous cellist Virginia Madsen.  And he gets himself a computer so he can design an earthquake brick.  So far, all normal.

It turns into a love triangle with Wyatt and a sentient PC as rivals.

(21) THE LATTER DAY LAFFERTY. Adri’s Book Reviews praises “Six Wakes by Mur Lafferty”.

As in any good mystery, it soon becomes clear that there are shady things lurking in the past of each and every crew member, as well as the traditional untrustworthy AI. Six Wakes builds its narrative through an omniscient third person narrator which switches between character viewpoints, as well as flashbacks to the crews’ lives in the lead up to being selected for the ship. Each crew member knows the others have volunteered for the mission because they are convicted criminals who will be pardoned upon arrival, but they have been told their crimes must remain confidential. From the ship’s doctor who was one of the original people cloned when the technology began, to the AI tech who has been on the verge of a breakdown since waking, to the shady machinations of the captain and the security officer, Six Wakes uses a small cast to great effect, with the world of the clones coming across as claustrophobic and restrictive even in background chapters set on Earth, thanks to both the Codicls as well as the inequalities and power struggles that arise from a society of functionally immortal beings. Six Wakes’ characters aren’t likeable in a traditional sense but I found them generally sympathetic, and the backgrounds go a long way towards making that balance work.

(22) A BOY AND HIS HORSE. The British Museum blog asks “The Dothraki and the Scythians: a game of clones?”

The Dothraki in Game of Thrones are represented as feared and ferocious warriors. Jorah Mormont describes their culture as one that values power and follows strength above all, and there is no greater way to demonstrate power and strength according to the Dothraki than through war. Like their fictional counterparts, the Scythians were pretty terrifying in battle. The Greek historian Herodotus writes that Scythians drank the blood of the men they killed and kept their scalps as trophies and skulls as drinking cups. While we should probably take Herodotus with a pinch of salt, by all accounts they were pretty brutal! The Dothraki also like decapitating their defeated enemies – guards known as the jaqqa rhan, or mercy men, use heavy axes to do this.

The Scythians and the Dothraki fight on horseback and are excellent archers. They both use curved (or composite) bows to maximise the range and the damage of their arrows. As Jorah Mormont says of the Dothraki, ‘they are better riders than any knight, utterly fearless, and their bows outrange ours.’

(23) THE NEXT STAGE. The Verge has learned that “The Twilight Zone is being adapted into a stage play” in London.

The Twilight Zone, Rod Serling’s landmark sci-fi anthology series about technological paranoia, creeping dread in 1960s America, and monsters and weirdos of all sorts, will be adapted as a stage play, The Hollywood Reporter confirmed this morning.

The play will debut in a limited run at London’s Almeida Theatre this December, with a script from Anne Washburn. Washburn’s best-known play is her 2012 Off-Broadway work Mr. Burns, which is about a traveling theater troupe in post-apocalyptic America that performs episodes of The Simpsons from memory. The play will be directed by Olivier-winner Richard Jones, who is best known for the 1990 London run of Sondheim’s Into the Woods, as well as the short-lived 1997 Titanic musical on Broadway, and has also directed several operas and Shakespeare productions.

(24) LIADEN UPDATE. Sharon Lee and Steve Miller’s 81st joint project — Due Diligence (Adventures in the Liaden Universe® Book 24) – was released July 10. The pair was also recently profiled by Maine’s statewide newspaper the Portland Press Herald“Welcome to the universe of Maine writers Sharon Lee and Steve Miller”.

For Maine writers Sharon Lee and Steve Miller, all it took to launch a brand-new universe was a single sentence.

The opening line for what would become “Agent of Change,” the inaugural volume of their Liaden Universe space opera series, was “The man who was not Terrence O’Grady had come quietly.”

It’s not quite “Call me Ishmael,” but something about typing those 10 words back in 1984 made Lee say to her husband, “I have a novel here.” And there was sufficient inspiration on the page for Miller to say, “I’m sorry, but I think you have a series.”

Both were right. Reached by phone at their Maine coon cat-friendly home in Winslow, surrounded by oil paintings, prints, book cover and other science fiction and fantasy artwork, Miller remembered, “We sat down that night and fleshed out the basic idea for the first seven books.” Four years later, in 1988, their collaborative debut was published in paperback by DelRey.

Since then, Lee, 64, and Miller, 66, have published 20 Liaden Universe novels and nearly five dozen related short stories. Baen Books published their latest hardcover novel, “The Gathering Edge,” in May.

.And they’ll be Guests of Honor at ConFluence from August 4-6.

(25) YOU WOULD BE RIGHT.

(26) PLASTIC IS NOT FANTASTIC. Jewish Business News has the story behind the commercial: “Mayim Bialik and Hodor From ‘Game of Thrones’ In New SodaStream’s Funny Viral Video”.

Following Jewish celebrity Scarlett Johansson’s campaign for the Israeli beverage company SodaStream, the Big Bang Theory star Mayim Bialik is the new face proudly representing the company new campaign in a Viral Video.

Features Mayim Bialik as an anthropologist, recalling her first encounter with the Homo-schlepien played by Kristian Nairn known as Hodor from “Game of Thrones.” The story reflects the devastating effect of single-use plastic bottles on Humanity. A habit that is hazardous to Earth and no longer exist in the future.

In this funny story, the Museum of UnNatural History features encounters between Mayim and the last tribe of plastic dependent species, the Homo-schlepien.

The shooting of the campaign was brought forward while Bialik had to rest her vocal chords for one month due to a medical advice. “This campaign has a powerful message and one that needed to be told before I went on vocal rest,” said Mayim Bialik.

 

[Thanks to JJ, Bill, Steve Miller, David Levine, Carl Slaughter, Chip Hitchcock, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Xtifr.]