Pixel Scroll 2/12/24 Cats Dream Well. Why Do You Think They Sleep So Much?

(1) STUMBLING OUT OF THE STARTING GATE. When the Montréal in 2027 Worldcon bid launched two days ago, one of its Presupport levels included an offer that sparked debate about whether it violated the WSFS Constitution’s site selection rules:

Today that language has been removed:

Mike Scott explained the problem on Facebook:

WSFS constitution 4.3. Non-natural persons can only cast site selection ballots for No Preference. Montreal in 2027 buying you a WSFS membership in Seattle is fine, and you can still vote in site selection yourself, because you’re a natural person. But if you delegate Montreal in 2027 to cast a ballot on your behalf, that ballot must be counted as No Preference, because Montreal in 2027 is not a natural person. The constitution doesn’t say that ballots must be cast on behalf of a natural person, it says they must be cast by a natural person.

Other people have always been allowed to deliver ballots properly executed by a voter. Here, the committee had said they would execute these ballots for others. In that case, the ballots would have to be counted as No Preference.

(2) TEL AVIV IN 2027 WEBSITE. The announcement of competition from Montréal has led to a wider awareness that the WorldCon 2027 in Tel aviv bidders launched a new website last October.

The TLV2027 bid committee boasts a team of highly experienced individuals. Guy Kovel, the Bid Chair, has a track record of convention operations. Gadi Evron, with a history of organizing events since 1996, handled logistics and events at prestigious conventions like Dublin 2019 and CoNZealand. Other members, including Einat Citron, Naama Friedman, Dror Raif Nesher, and Tal Goldman, bring expertise in programming, logistics,  volunteer management, and event operations.

The front page also carries this statement about the situation in Israel:

We want to update you on the current situation with our bid committee. Firstly, we’re relieved to share that all the members of our committee are safe, even though some of us have been called to service during these challenging times.

We’re all deeply devastated by the recent attacks, but we remain steadfast in our belief that things will stabilize, and ultimately, peace will prevail. Our commitment to our shared goals remains unshaken, and we’ll continue to work diligently to bring our vision to life.

Thank you for your unwavering support, and together, we’ll navigate through these trying times and look forward to a brighter future.

(3) ROMANTASY ON THE RADIO. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] This week’s Open Book on BBC’s Radio 4 looked at the sub-genre of “Romantasy”.  This is a hugely growing book genre in Britain the past couple of years that has had to overcome some snobbery with clear overlaps – depending on the book – with epic fantasy, military fantasy, etc…

‘Romantasy’ – combining fantasy and racy romance, it’s the hot new genre sought after by publishers and readers alike, and dominated by female authors and readers. To discuss it’s huge growth in popularity, Johny is joined by: Saara El-Arifi – bestselling author of Faebound, the first in a three part trilogy, which went straight to number one on release last month; Natasha Bardon – publisher of Science Fiction and Fantasy for Harper Voyager, of romantasy-focussed imprint Magpie Books, and of the upcoming ‘spicy’ romantasy list, the Midnight Collection; and by Katie Fraser – journalist for The Bookseller who writes about SFF.

You can download it from here: “Open Book, Madeleine Grey”.

(4) TAKE THE TOUR. Congratulations to Brian Keene and Mary SanGiovanni on their store opening! And thanks for the Vortex Books & Comics Opening Day video tour. (I see Brian starts right off in the true outlaw spirit by ignoring the crossing signal!)

Authors Brian Keene and Mary SanGiovanni have opened a bookstore in Columbia, Pennsylvania — focusing on horror, science-fiction, fantasy, thrillers, and other speculative fiction genres, as well as comic books and magazines. Brian gives you a tour on opening day.

(5) MYRIAD MEN OF TIN. G. W. Thomas rounds up an enormous number of examples of robots in Seventies comics in “Bronze Age Robots! 1970s” at Dark Worlds Quarterly.

…The 1970s divides neatly in two with Star Wars at the center. The 1980s would see Science Fiction explode in all media as Star Wars proved that fans wanted space opera again, even if they hadn’t known it. For robot fans in America there was the coming of the Japanese style giant robots. And more toy-based products like ROM the Spaceknight.

(6) OMEGA AWARDS DEADLINE. February 13 is the last day to submit entries for The Tomorrow Prize and The Green Feather Award.

(7) THE NEW NUMBER TWO. This list is presented as an infographic: “The 15 BEST Science Fiction Books of ALL TIME” at Daily Infographic. Number 1 is Dune. But number 2 is The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy?

(8) THOSE WERE THE DAYS, MY FRIEND. The New York Times tells how “Video Games Are Mourning the Old, Weird, Clunky Internet”.

Surfing the web in the 1990s and early 2000s was a slower endeavor, and fewer people had access to the technology. But it is still easy to reminisce about the days when it felt like a public marketplace, with a good chance that someone out there had made a blog or GeoCities site about the niche topic you found interesting.

Those robust online forums have since been flattened into algorithmic social media feeds or hidden on messaging apps, a shift mourned by several video games with a shared fondness for bygone internet eras.

Games like last year’s Videoverse, 2019’s Hypnospace Outlaw and the upcoming Darkweb Streamer use chat interfaces akin to AIM or MSN, as well as fake websites that greet people with MIDI songs and text written in bold fonts. Each experience has its own nostalgic lens but is a snapshot of lost expression, creativity and independence.

Chantal Ryan, an anthropologist and the lead developer of Darkweb Streamer, a horror simulation game that merges the perils of modern streaming with the ’90s internet, bemoaned how high-quality independent services were often cannibalized by corporate interests. She pointed to sites like Goodreads and AbeBooks, both bought by Amazon.

“It reminds me of forest clearing,” said Ryan, who studied at the University of Adelaide. “You have this habitat with sustainable ecosystems, and communities of beings living harmoniously. And then the bulldozer comes in and destroys literally everything in its path with no regard to who’s being affected.”…

The visual novel Videoverse follows the final days of the online social network for a fictional gaming system in 2003. Kinmoku

(9) ELIZABETH (WARREN) ADAMS OBITUARY. Norwescon social media has announced that Elizabeth (Warren) Adams, affectionately known as The Dragon Lady, died on February 9. She was the chair of Norwescons 11, 12, and 14, and ran legendary hospitality rooms at the con. She also was a past editor of Westwind, the NWSFS clubzine, and was very active with PSST (Puget Sound Star Trekkers).

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY.

[Written by Cat Eldridge.]

Born February 12, 1950 Michael Ironside, 73. The role I remember Michael Ironside most for was as Lieutenant Jean Rasczak in Starship Troopers. There wasn’t much great about that film but I thought that he made much of that character. 

Do I need to say that I’m not covering everything he’s done of a genre nature? Well most of you get that. Really you do. So let’s see what I find interesting.

Michael Ironside in Starship Troopers

Scanners is one weird film. It really is. And he was in it as Darryl Revok, the Big Baddie, a role he perfectly played. 

Next he got cast as the main antagonist in another of my favorite SF films, this time as Overdog McNab in Spacehunter: Adventures in the Forbidden Zone. Who comes with these names?

Then there was Total Recall where he was Agent Richter, the ruthless enforcer of Cohaagen, the source of everything corrupt on Mars. Great role that fit his gruff voice and frankly even gruffer looks absolutely perfectly.

One of his major ongoing roles was in the V franchise, first as Ham Tyle, a recurring role in V: The Final Battle, and then playing the same character in all episodes of V: The Series.

Now we come to my favorite of his roles, in one one of my favorite series, seaQuest 2032, where he was Captain Oliver Hudson. Great series and an absolute fantastic performance by him! Pity it got cancelled after thirteen episodes. 

Finally he has one voice acting role I loved. In the DC universe, he was Darkseid, the absolute rule of Apokolis. He voiced him primarily on Superman: The Animated Series, but also on the Justice League series as well, and to my surprise on the HBO Harley Quinn series as well.

(11) COMICS SECTION.

  • The Argyle Sweater mashes up a nursery rhyme and online shopping.
  • Existential Comics stages a humorous confrontation between a student and teacher of the magical arts. Sort of Clarke’s Law in reverse.

(12) A LITTLE RAY OF SUNSHINE. Nic Farey, in This Here 72, thinks that the most noteworthy feature of the 2023 Hugo stats embarrassment (“Even a WorldThing avoider such as meself cannot have failed to clock the latest brouhaha (causing much haha round here, to be sure)”) is the opportunity it affords to declare his own report of the voting figures for this year’s FAAn awards will be immediately available — while predicting coverage of the FAAns he anticipates winning will be exploited to take attention away from the Hugos’ disgrace.

The fact that the probity of the FAAns (and my own alleged “fixing” of them, a libelous statement to be sure) has been questioned starts to be more of a “but look over there…” diversion, don’t it?…

Great suggestion, Nic, except (and I know you’ll be surprised to hear this) even your figleaf won’t be big enough to cover this cockup.

(13) THE QUIET BEFORE…THE QUIET. “’A Quiet Place: Day One’ first look at Lupita Nyong’o, Joseph Quinn” at Entertainment Weekly.

The ingenuity of the next A Quiet Place movie lies in the simplicity of its idea: Take the same core premise of the previous entries, but just change the setting. That tweak alone drastically affects the stakes. 

John Krasinski’s 2018 horror-thriller introduced the Abbott family, who embraced a life of silence at their rural farmhouse in upstate New York in a terrifying reality overrun by sightless alien monsters that hunt through sound. The story continued in 2021’s A Quiet Place: Part II, but now A Quiet Place: Day One, a prequel film and the franchise’s first spinoff, will see how the citizens of New York City, one of the noisiest metropolitans on the globe, fared when these vicious creatures arrived on Earth….

(14) SFF MOVIE TRAILERS DROPPED DURING SUPER  BOWL. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] Most (if not all) of the movie trailers debuted during the Super Bowl are for genre works. Comicbook.com did a roundup of all the YouTube videos. See them at the link: “2024 Super Bowl: Watch Every New Movie Trailer Released for the Big Game”.

The Super Bowl may technically be about the two best teams in the NFL facing off for football’s ultimate prize, but for many around the country, it represents one of the biggest movie events of the year. Several film studios use the Super Bowl as a platform to advertise some of their biggest movies in the coming year, leading to more than a few awesome trailers arriving online in the same weekend….

(15) BUGS, MISTER RICO! And some other commercials had a genre flavor, too, like this one: “Jeff Goldblum Returns as Brad Bellflower in Apartments.com’s Sci-Fi Super Bowl Ad” at LBBOnline.

Apartments.com returns to the Super Bowl as the universal leader in renting and debuted a never-before-seen 30-second spot, titled ‘Extraterrentials.’ In the new ad, which premiered during the first quarter of Super Bowl LVII, Jeff Goldblum continues his role as Brad Bellflower, visionary leader of Apartments.com, and defuses a tense standoff with some new arrivals on Earth. The campaign rollout spoofs an upcoming Jeff Goldblum sci-fi blockbuster, featuring a clever media strategy and unique creative from agency of record, RPA.   

“Leading up to the Super Bowl, Apartments.com leveraged extraterrestrial buzz in culture to generate intrigue and awareness across media channels by leaning into the possibility of a new Goldblum sci-fi film,” said Fred Saint, president, marketplaces at CoStar Group…. 

(16) DOPPELGÄNGERS3: “Exploring New Futures in Space: A Revolutionary Integration of Neuroscience, Quantum Physics, and Space Exploration” at SETI.org.

The SETI Institute is proud to support a groundbreaking project from London-based filmmaker and SETI Institute Designer of Experiences Dr. Nelly Ben Hayoun-Stépanian that combines insights from intergenerational trauma, neuroscience, quantum physics, and space exploration.

Premiering at SXSW 2024, Doppelgängers3 is a feature film and research project that challenges conventional narratives of space colonization by integrating diverse perspectives. Ben Hayoun-Stépanian will present this multidisciplinary endeavor at the International Astronautical Congress (IAC) 2024, highlighting its unique blend of science, culture, and storytelling within the decolonial space and space culture sessions.

The project spotlights the importance of acknowledging collective trauma and its impacts — a burgeoning field in neuropsychology research. By weaving together the stories of three individuals across different geographies, Doppelgängers3imagines a utopian community on the moon that learns from the past and aspires to a future where diversity and plurality are celebrated….

(17) VIDEO OF THE DAY. Dan Monroe at Media Master Design answers the question “What Happened to THE TIME MACHINE?”

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

Pixel Scroll 2/11/24 It’s The Big Bright Green Pixel Machine

(1) BOUCHERCON KERFUFFLE. Writers are showering letters of protest on the Bouchercon mystery convention committee about the selection of Otto Penzler to interview guest of honor Anthony Horowitz on stage. They are pointing to Penzler’s record of misogynistic comments about women writers, and insensitive statements about race.

Here is the text of Lee Goldberg’s letter to Bouchercon:

To Whom It May Concern,

I am shocked and disappointed that Otto Penzler has been selected to interview guest-of-honor Anthony Horowitz on the Bouchercon stage. It sends a horrible message to the crime fiction community.

For decades, Otto has publicly and repeatedly trashed women crime writers. Here are just some examples out of many:

He wrote: “Men take [writing] more seriously as art. Men labor over a book to make it literature. There are wonderful exceptions, of course—P.D. James, Ruth Rendell.”

In an interview with Book Standard, he said cozy novels by women shouldn’t win Edgars.

“The women who write [cozies] stop the action to go shopping, create a recipe, or take care of cats. Cozies are not serious literature. They don’t deserve to win…”

He’s also said:

“We all have our prejudices (yes, you too). I admit that if I were on the Best Novel committee, books with cutesy pun titles would be eliminated before I read the first page. They may be fun, they may have their charm, but they are not serious literature and don’t deserve an Edgar. Which is why someone had the bright idea to create Malice Domestic, a conference devoted to fiction so lightweight that an anvil on top of it is the only way to prevent it from floating off to the great library in the sky.”

This is what Otto Penzler had to say when the International Thriller Writers was formed:

“A new organization has just started up as a counterweight to the literarilynegligible works honored at Malice Domestic.”

The ITW wisely and immediately disavowed his statement at the time. Those “literarily negligible works” honored with Agathas at Malice include novels by Ann Cleeves, Rhys Bowen, Laurie King, Kellye Garrett, Elizabeth George, Catriona McPherson, Louise Penny and so many others.

That attitude alone should make him the absolute wrong choice to interview a man who writes in the tradition of the literarily negligible works by Agatha Christie.

Otto doesn’t just spew sexism, he practices it. In the 23 years that Otto edited the Best American Mystery anthology series, it had 6 women as guest editors and not a single writer of color. Not one. And when Steph Cha, a woman he called “stupefyingly ignorant” and racist because she called for Linda Fairstein’s grandmaster honor to be rescinded, replaced him as the editor of the anthology, he wrote:

“This means that stories will no longer be selected for excellence, the major criterion evidently now being the race, ethnicity, or sexual preference of the author.”

And let’s not forget this is the same man who started Scarlet, a women’s suspense imprint for Pegasus, and then hired men to write the books under women’s names. That is Otto Penzler in a nutshell right there. The outcry was loud, immediate, and humiliating for the publisher, who swiftly and quietly killed the imprint.

That’s only a tiny sampling of his offensive words and conduct towards women writers…and yet Bouchercon still venerates this man. Yes, he did some admirable things for the genre a long, long time ago…but today he’s a dinosaur in a world that has changed around him…a man who doesn’t reflect our community or its basic standards (as expressed in the Bouchercon bylaws). I understand that Mr. Horowitz may have asked for Otto to be his interviewer because they edited an anthology together…but Bouchercon should have had the sensitivity and the courage to say no to his choice…and to explain why.

I am not saying Otto should be silenced. He has a right to his views, whether I agree with them or not. But with free speech comes the consequences of your words and actions (for example, all of his bookstore employees publicly disavowed, in a statement of their own, the views he expressed in his letter to the MWA in the Linda Fairstein Grandmaster controversy, which you ought to read). Another consequence of his offensive views should be losing the support and attention of the community he’s no longer philosophically and culturally aligned with. Unless, of course, Bouchercon agrees with his views. If so, you should keep him on the guest-of-honor stage with Mr. Horowitz.

If not, you should take a firm stand against the opinions Otto’s espoused by replacing him with an interviewer who actually respects, celebrates and champions the sexual, cultural and racial diversity of the crime fiction community this conference is supposed to reflect.

Lee Goldberg

Deborah Levinson is one of those who are echoing the call:

The Bouchercon committee responded to the first wave of messages on February 7 with a statement:

(2) DEADPOOL 3 TEASER. Uncorked during today’s Super Bowl broadcast, Deadpool & Wolverine Teaser.

(3) WICKED TEASER. Also advertised during the game, Wicked – First Look”.

After two decades as one of the most beloved and enduring musicals on the stage, Wicked makes its long-awaited journey to the big screen as a spectacular, generation-defining cinematic event this holiday season. Wicked, the untold story of the witches of Oz, stars Emmy, Grammy and Tony winning powerhouse Cynthia Erivo (Harriet, Broadway’s The Color Purple) as Elphaba, a young woman, misunderstood because of her unusual green skin, who has yet to discover her true power, and Grammy-winning, multi-platinum recording artist and global superstar Ariana Grande as Glinda, a popular young woman, gilded by privilege and ambition, who has yet to discover her true heart. The two meet as students at Shiz University in the fantastical Land of Oz and forge an unlikely but profound friendship. Following an encounter with The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, their friendship reaches a crossroads and their lives take very different paths. Glinda’s unflinching desire for popularity sees her seduced by power, while Elphaba’s determination to remain true to herself, and to those around her, will have unexpected and shocking consequences on her future. Their extraordinary adventures in Oz will ultimately see them fulfill their destinies as Glinda the Good and the Wicked Witch of the West.

(4) CAREER IN A NUTSHELL. Chinaza Okorie discusses “Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki: Crafting Narratives and Shaping Worlds” at The Board.

… The synergy between Ekpeki’s writing and editing is palpable. His understanding of the craft, honed through his own creative pursuits, enhances his ability to curate anthologies that transcend mere collections of stories. Whether through his pen or editorial decisions, Ekpeki strives to redefine and expand the boundaries of speculative fiction, making room for narratives that challenge preconceptions and celebrate the diverse richness of African storytelling….

(5) EATING THE FANTASTIC. Scott Edelman invites listeners to nibble garlic naan with Jo Miles in Episode 218 of the Eating the Fantastic podcast.

Jo Miles

Jo Miles is the author of The Gifted of Brennex trilogy, which began with Warped State, continued in Dissonant State, which was released the week before our get-together, and finishes up in Ravenous State, which will be available February 20th. Jo’s short fiction has been published in magazines such as Fantasy & Science FictionStrange HorizonsLightspeed, and Analog Science Fiction and Science Fact, as well as in the anthologies Little Blue MarbleGame On!Do Not Go Quietly: An Anthology of Defiance in Victory, and others. Their story “The Longest Season in the Garden of the Tea Fish” in Strange Horizons was nominated for a WSFA Small Press Award. Jo is a graduate of the Viable Paradise and Taos Toolbox writers’ workshops.

Oh, and by the way — the ebook of Warped State is currently on sale for $2.99 in celebration of the upcoming release of Ravenous State.

We discussed how what began as a short story blossomed into a trilogy, the way to juggle multiple points of view and keep them balanced, the science fictional precursors which helped them create their sentient ship, how to properly pace the arc of a burgeoning romance, the importance of making sure a redemption arc feels earned, the way their mandate for writing optimistic science fiction came to be, the differing ways we were each affected by the pandemic, how the Taos Toolbox workshop teaches writers to break down the beats of their stories (and why that terrifies me), plus much more.

(6) THEIR RETIREMENT PLAN. Congratulations to authors Brian Keene and Mary SanGiovanni whose new Vortex Books & Comics store opened today.

… The store will be open for business Sunday at 10am. All that’s left to do is for Mike to finish Hylinus’s ear, after which we can move the glass display case which will hold the ashes of Dave Thomas and J. F. Gonzalez into place, and then steam clean the tiled floor. We also need to get the rare books and comics into their showcases, finish pricing and shelving the items on the stock cart, and finish the shipping and receiving area (which was finished before, but — based on initial online preorders — is going to be a very busy area and will need space for two employees to work with more room, so I decided we needed to reorganize it). We’ll also need to play with the cash register until we’re all confident with it. (I hooked it up yesterday while Justin Lutz installed our window decals, and while I’m not a man who suffers from anxiety, trying to figure the register out caused me a great deal of it)….

(7) MATTHEW PAVLETICH (1965-2024). New Zealand fan Matthew David Pavletich died from Motor Neurone Disease on January 26. A past president of the Stella Nova Science Fiction Club and veteran of the CoNZealand in 2020 Worldcon bid, Pavletich won the Sir Julius Vogel Award for Services to Fandom in 2023. Here is the award citation that tells why he was honored:

Matthew has been active in New Zealand and international fandom for over 30 years.

He has lost count of the number of committees he has been on for running conventions. As a member of the Stella Nova Science Fiction Club he has been involved in all their activities over three decades, including serving as President.

Matthew was a keen actor, published writer, con-organiser and has lectured on Science Fiction both here in schools and seminars and overseas; plus his lifelong interest in spaceflight has seen him appearing as a recurring guest expert on breakfast TV shows and radio.

Matthew was a co-organiser, as a ground trooper, of the CoNZealand bid, being heavily involved in organising the parties at the World Science Fiction Convention and manning the Bid Table around the world every year from 2014 to 2019, and despite being diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease in 2021, found the energy to help at the Thank You party in 2022. For many WorldCon attendees the parties and the Bid Table, at which he enthusiastically promoted NZ and CoNZealand, was the only physical experience of a New Zealand WorldCon that was possible, due to COVID making the 2020 WorldCon virtual.

Matthew epitomises what this award is about. He meets every criteria of service to fandom you can think of.

Matthew is survived by his wife, Maree.

Matthew Pavletich in TV appearance.

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY.

[Written by Cat Eldridge.]

Born February 11, 1939 Jane Yolen, 85. And we come to one of my favorite writers who is on the chocolate gifting list, Jane Yolen. And no, that is not about how I ended getting name-checked as an ethnomusicologist in The One-Armed Queen asthat’s another story involving a successful hunt for a rare volume of fairytales.

Given that she written at least three hundred and sixty works at last count (and that may well be an undercount), the following is but a personal list of works that I like.

Jane Yolen. Photo by and (c) Andrew Porter.

Favorite Folktales From Around the World which garnered a well-deserved World Fantasy Award shows her editing side at its very best. She picked the folktales, some from authors whose names are forgotten, some who we still know such as Homer, Aesop, Hans Christian Andersen and Oscar Wilde, and gave them much need explanatory notes. If you like folktales, I’d consider it essential and quite delightful reading.

The Transfigured Hart poses the delicate question of if unicorns are real and neatly merges that question with a coming of a story, something she handles oh so well. Originally published forty years ago, Tachyon Press, a publisher that should be always be praised for its work, republished it a few years back.

Briar Rose is a YA novel which is a retelling, more or less of the Sleeping Beauty tale. It was published as part of Terri Windling’s Fairy Tale series. The novel won a Mythopoeic Fantasy Award. Like everything else in that series, it’s most excellent. Or as I’ve said before, it’s just what Windling does. 

The Great Alta sequence consisting of Sister Light, Sister DarkWhite Jenna and The One-Armed Queen. Matriarchal warrior societies will rise and fall and rise again in this tale told with more than a bit of myth, poetry, and song.  Brilliantly told with characters that you’ll deeply care about and character you’ll hate. It’s a Meredith Moment at just $3.99. 

She also wrote the lyrics for the song “Robin’s Complaint”, recorded on the 1994 Boiled in Lead’s Antler Dance recording on which her son Adam Stemple was the lead vocalist. 

Let’s finish off with The Wild Hunt. Myth as interpreted by her and merged with the evocative drawings of Francisco Mora which complement the text perfectly. Dark and dramatic, they bring the tale to life. It’s a work of pure magic which should be destined to become a classic in the world of children’s literature. Don’t buy the Scholastic paperback edition, just HMH hardcover edition. 

And yes, she’s getting chocolate for her Birthday. 

(9) COMICS SECTION.

  • Thatababy has a new variation on a technopest.
  • Sally Forth somehow merges myth with Monopoly. This is bizarre.
  • In the Bleachers’ mermaid joke might actually be even more bizarre.

(10) DON’T MISS THE LITERARY ALLUSIONS. Colleen Doran lends readers a hand by deciphering “The Secret Language of a Page of Chivalry”.

Neil Gaiman’s Chivalry is a sweet and simple story on the surface, but is full of allusions and literary references, and the symbolism in the art, as well as the art style, serves as meta-narrative. 

One of the pages readers ask about the most is this one, where Mrs. Whitaker in the Oxfam shop finds an old book entitled The Romance and Legend of Chivalry (1912).

Written by Scottish author A. R. Hope Moncrieff, this popular tome was published in multiple printings and editions in many languages. While most of his books were intended for young boys, they would be over the heads and/or not to the taste of many modern readers.

They are dense and wordy, but I love them. 

You can find good copies of the first edition with the gorgeous cover you see here at reasonable prices. If you can spare $20-$30, you shouldn’t have to settle for cheap, modern editions which are ugly and don’t have that pretty gold stamping.

It should be obvious why Mrs. Whitaker has focused on this book during the course of Chivalry.

What some didn’t understand is the reference there in the top corner written in red pen: “Ex Libris Fisher”.

This translates to “From the Library of Fisher” as in The Fisher King.

(11) HELLO DOWN THERE TRAILER. Another “Super Bowl commercial” except it’s already been out for four days: “Hello Down There (Extended)”.

What does a highly advanced civilization have to do to get noticed around here? Watch the extended cut of Hello Down There, a tale of intergalactic outreach, directed by Martin Scorsese.

(12) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] Now, it saddens me when I am reminded yet again that I do have some SFnal misconceptions. Let me be clear, I had heard of A Voyage To Arcturus by David Lindsay but I had foolishly, stupidly, idiotically assumed that it was a novel about a spacecraft voyage to a distant world and what was discovered there…  How wrong I was. Fortunately, Moid over at Media Death Cult has taken a quick 8-minute dive into this. (Filmed in England’s Shropshire. Note the managed woodland and the carboniferous limestone geology…)

This Forgotten Masterpiece Inspired Tolkien We voyaged the Shropshire countryside to bring you this video. A Voyage To Arcturus by David Lindsay

You can see the 8-minute video here. It looks like this may be the first of a few vids Moid will do covering forgotton early 20th century SF former classics.

[Thanks to SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Steven French, Mike Kennedy, Scott Edelman, JJ, Kathy Sullivan, Anne Marble, Daniel Dern, Andrew Porter, John King Tarpinian, Chris Barkley, and Cat Eldridge for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]

Pixel Scroll 2/1/24 Scroll Pixel Like Fritos, Scroll Pixel Like Tab And Mountain Dew

(1) 2024 HUGO VOTING STALLED. The Glasgow 2024 Worldcon paused Hugo nomination voting on January 28, announcing in social media, “We are aware of an issue with nominations. We have taken that system offline as a precaution.” Their January 30 update said, “We committed to update you on the temporary pause of Hugo Award nominations. Our UK software provider is still working on a solution. We will provide you with our next status update no later than the 6th February.” At this time they do not expect to extend the nomination voting deadline.

(2) NEW STAR IN THE FIRMAMENT. Margaret Atwood appears as a guest star on the CBC series Murdoch Mysteries this coming Monday, February 5. She plays Loren Quinnell, Amateur Ornithologist. “Her and her feathered friends help crack the case…”

(3) NEW CLARION WEST SCHOLARSHIPS. The Salam Award and Clarion West Week One Instructor Usman T. Malik (CW ‘14) have offered two new scholarships for 2024 Students: “The Salam Award and the Malik Family Sponsor Scholarships for Pakistani and Palestinian Students”.

The Salam Award Scholarship: For the year 2024, The Salam Award has agreed to sponsor a student of Pakistani origin, whether a Pakistani resident of any ethnicity, or a Pakistani-origin student anywhere in the world up to USD $1,000. 

The Malik Sharif-Fehmida Anwar Scholarship: Usman T. Malik and his parents Malik Tanveer Ali and Shabnam Tanveer Malik have offered an annual travel scholarship to help fund travel up to USD $2,500 for a student of Palestinian-origin. The applicant should be Palestinian Arab-Muslim or Arab-Christian from Gaza, West Bank, or Golan Heights, or may be Palestinian diaspora located anywhere in the world. 

Through the generosity of our donors, Clarion West provides a number of scholarships for writers every year. Approximately 60-90% of our Six-Week Workshop participants receive full and partial-tuition scholarships. You must indicate your need for financial aid when you apply to the six-week workshop. Your application is reviewed without regard to your financial aid request.

You can learn more about scholarships for the Six-Week Workshop here

(4) WHAT WE DON’T TALK ABOUT. RedWombat took inspiration from the continuing Hugo controversy to pen these lyrics, shared in ha comment on File 770 today.

This only works if you pronounce it “Wisfuss,” but…

We don’t talk about WSFS, no no no
We don’t talk about WSFS

But!

It was Hugo nom day
(It was Hugo nom day)
We were running numbers
and there wasn’t much good to be found
Standlee stops by with a glint in his eye
(Trademark!)
You filking this thing or am I?
(Sorry, sorry, please go on)

Standlee says, “we can’t enforce…”
(Why did he say it?)
The lawyers are aghast, of course
(That’s not how you play it)
And MPC did not endorse
(Had to resign but nevermind…)

We don’t talk about WSFS, no no no
We don’t talk about WSFS

Hey, grew to live in fear of what the lawyers might find next
Feeling like the whole organization’s been hexed
I associate it with the sight of scathing posts
(Tsk tsk tsk)
It’s a heavy job sieving through this murk
Implicit contract no longer seems to work
Can’t rely on the Old SMOFs Network
Who’s gonna do the work?

M-P-C, taken aback
People still mad about the AO3 attack
How can you enforce this implicit contract?
Yeah, the lawyers scream and break into teams
(Hey)
We don’t talk about WSFS, no no no
We don’t talk about WSFS

We never should have asked about WSFS, no no no
Why did we talk about WSFS?

(I put that song in my head for the next year doing this, so if you’re going to complain, believe me, I have already been punished.)

(5) WRITERS AT GEN CON. The 2024 Gen Con Writers’ Symposium guests will include Linda D. Addison, Mikki Kendall, and quite a few featured speakers who are sff authors. Gen Con 2024 will be held August 1-4 in Indianapolis, Indiana.

The Gen Con Writers’ Symposium is a semi-independent event hosted by Gen Con and intended for both new and experienced writers of speculative fiction. All registration is handled through the Gen Con website.

(6) WHO ELSE HAD A STAKE IN DRACULA? Bobby Derie tells readers that H. P. Lovecraft claimed his friend Edith Miniter was offered the chance to revise Bram Stoker’s Dracula. What do we know about this claim? Find out! “Lovecraft, Miniter, Stoker: the Dracula Revision” at Deep Cuts in a Lovecraftian Vein.

In The Essential Dracula (1979), Bram Stoker scholars Raymond T. McNally and Radu Florescu revealed a letter (H. P. Lovecraft to R. H. Barlow, 10 Dec 1932) that had been drawn to their attention by horror anthologist and scholar Les Daniels, where H. P. Lovecraft claimed that an old woman he knew had turned down the chance to revise Stoker’s Dracula. The letter had not been published before this. Although Lovecraft’s claim had been made in print as early as 1938, and a letter with the anecdote was published in the first volume of Lovecraft’s Selected Letters from Arkham House in 1965, this seems to be the first time the Stoker scholar community became generally aware of the claim. The authors were intrigued by the possibilities…

(7) LDV NEWS. J. Michael Straczynski shared that Blackstone Indie has unveiled a webpage for The Last Dangerous Visions. It does not take preorders yet.

In 1973, celebrated writer and editor Harlan Ellison announced the third and final volume of his unprecedented anthology series, which began with Dangerous Visions and continued with Again Dangerous Visions. But for reasons undisclosed, The Last Dangerous Visions was never completed.

Now, six years after Ellison’s passing, science fiction’s most famous unpublished book is here. And with it, the heartbreaking true story of the troubled genius behind it.

Provocative and controversial, socially conscious and politically charged, wildly imaginative yet deeply grounded, the thirty-two never-before published stories, essays, and poems in The Last Dangerous Visions stand as a testament to Ellison’s lifelong pursuit of art, representing voices both well-known and entirely new, including: David Brin, Max Brooks, James S. A. Corey, Dan Simmons, Cory Doctorow, and Adrian Tchaikovsky, among others.

With an introduction and exegesis by J. Michael Straczynski, and a story introduction by Ellison himself, The Last Dangerous Visions is an extraordinary addition to an incredible literary legacy.

(8) ANOTHER ENTRY FOR THE CAPTAIN’S LOG. The Visual Effects Society will honor Actor-Producer-Director William Shatner as the recipient of the VES Award for Creative Excellence in recognition of his valuable contributions to visual arts and filmed entertainment at its annual ceremony on February 21. “William Shatner Named as Recipient of the VES Award for Creative Excellence”.

(9) ST:TNG GETTING SATURN HONORS. “The Cast Of ‘Star Trek: The Next Generation’ To Receive Special Lifetime Achievement Saturn Award” at TrekMovie.com.

…The cast of Star Trek: The Next Generation will receive The Lifetime Achievement Award at the 51st Annual Saturn Awards, being held in Los Angeles this Sunday. For 2024 the Academy is doing something different for the TNG cast with this award. A statement from the Academy to TrekMovie explains:

“The Lifetime Achievement Award is usually presented to an individual for their contributions to genre entertainment. Top luminaries like Stan Lee and Leonard Nimoy, Mr. Spock himself, have received this top honor. It’s not new, but we extended this award to cover the entire cast of Star Trek: The Next Generation, due to its continued influence on the face of general television. It was originally doomed to failure since it was following in the footsteps of the original Star Trek, yet it carved its own identity, and its diverse cast was light years ahead of its time!”…

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY.

[Written by Cat Eldridge.]

Born February 1, 1954 Bill Mumy, 70. Bill Mumy is best remembered of course for being on Lost in Space for three seasons (“Danger, Will Robinson, Danger!”) though he has a much more extensive performance resume.

At the rather tender age of seven, he makes his genre acting debut on The Twilight Zone as Billy Bayles in “Long Distance Call”.  He’d appear in two Twilight Zone episodes, “It’s A Good Life” as Anthony Fremont, a child with godlike powers and finally as the young Pip Phillips in “In Praise of Pip”.

He’d show up much later on in Twilight Zone: The Movie in one of the segments, not unsurprisingly a remake of “It’s A Good Life” which here is listed as being from a screenplay by Richard Matheson. Here he’s Tim. Whoever that is. 

He’d be on the reboot of the Twilight Zone in “It’s Still A Good Life” as the Adult Anthony Fremont.

Photo of Billy Mumy in 2013
Billy Mumy in 2013. Photo by Gage Skidmore.

He next had three appearances on Alfred Hitchcock Presents, none genre. His next genre outing would be playing two different characters on BewitchedI Dream of Jeannie and the Munsters followed.

Then of course was the eighty-three episode, three season run on Lost in Space. He’d be eleven years old when it started. I know I’ve seen all of it at least once. No idea how the Suck Fairy would treat it nearly this long on, but I really liked it when I saw it at the time. 

Remember the 1990 Captain America? If you don’t, you’re not alone. In this WW II version, he plays a young boy, Tom Kimball, who photographs Captain America over the Capital building kicking a missile off after batting Red Skull so crashes in Alaska, burying itself and Steve Rogers under the ice. 12%, repeat 12%, is the rating audience reviewers gave it on Rotten Tomatoes. 

He showed up once in the first iteration of a Flash series, and then has three appearances as Tommy Puck in the Nineties Superboy series. The first I saw and quite like, the latter not a single episode have I encountered. 

The next thing that is quite worthy of note is his stellar role on Babylon 5 as Mimbari warrior monk, I think that’s the proper term,  Lennier. Of one hundred and ten episodes, he was in all but two. That’s right, just two. Or at least credited as being so. What an amazing role that was. I’ve watch this series including the six films at least twice straight through. No Suck Fairy dares comes near it. 

The last thing of note, and I’m not seen the series, was him playing Dr. Zachary Smith on the reboot of the Lost in Space series that came out just a few years ago for two episodes. Please, please don’t ask who he’s playing as my continuous headache got even worse when I tried to figure out who he really was. Really I did. What they with that series was a crime. 

(11) PUTTING THE BITE ON TOURISTS. [Item by Steven French.] If you’re ever in Doylestown, Pennsylvania, Atlas Obscura recommends a visit to “Vampa: Vampire & Paranormal Museum”.

TUCKED AWAY IN THE SAME building as an antiques store in a small Pensylvania town lies a shockingly large collection of antique vampire-killing sets.

Covering the walls are the standard tools of the vampire hunter: the stake, the crucifix, the holy water bottle. But the stakes are far more than pointy, wooden sticks. Believed to date back centuries, all the weapons have been beautifully decorated with a variety of religious and allegorical carvings. They are spectacular objets d’art from every corner of the world, including several personal collections from actors who played Dracula in films. One wooden “traveling vampire hunter kit,” from around 1870 was owned by actor Carlos Villarias, who portrayed the famous count in a Spanish language Dracula….

(12) EARTH FARTS? Space reports that the “Mystery of Siberia’s giant exploding craters may finally be solved”.

The craters are unique to Russia’s northern Yamal and Gydan peninsulas and are not known to exist elsewhere in the Arctic, suggesting the key to this puzzle lies in the landscape, according to a preprint paper published Jan. 12 to the EarthArXiv database.

Researchers have proposed several explanations for the gaping holes over the years, ranging from meteor impacts to natural-gas explosions. One theory suggests the craters formed in the place of historic lakes that once bubbled with natural gas rising from the permafrost below. These lakes may have dried up, exposing the ground beneath to freezing temperatures that sealed the vents through which gas escaped. The resulting buildup of gas in the permafrost may eventually have been released through explosions that created the giant craters.

… But the historic-lake model fails to account for the fact that these “giant escape craters” (GECs) are found in a variety of geological settings across the peninsulas, not all of which were once covered by lakes, according to the new preprint, which has not been peer reviewed….

… Permafrost on the Yamal and Gydan peninsulas varies widely in its thickness, ranging from a few hundred feet to 1,600 feet (500 m). The soil likely froze solid more than 40,000 years ago, imprisoning ancient marine sediments rich in methane that gradually transformed into vast natural gas reserves. These reserves produce heat that melts the permafrost from below, leaving pockets of gas at its base.

Permafrost in Russia and elsewhere is also thawing at the surface due to climate change. In places where it is already thin on the Yamal and Gydan peninsulas, melting from both ends and the pressure from the gas may eventually cause the remaining permafrost to collapse, triggering an explosion.

This “champagne effect” would explain the presence of smaller craters around the eight giant craters, as huge chunks of ice propelled out by the explosions may have severely dented the ground, according to the preprint….

(13) HUNT TO EXTINCTION. The stories you hear from Brian Keene.

(14) NEW HEADSHOT. Scott Lynch introduced his new photo with a wry comment.

(15) COMING ATTRACTIONS. The “Next on Netflix 2024: The Series & Films Preview” sizzle reel includes clips from Bridgerton, Squid Game, Umbrella Academy and Rebel Moon.

(16) OCTOTHORPE. John Coxon, Alison Scott and Liz Batty respond to a letter of comment from Tobes Valois in episode 102 of the Octothorpe podcast, “I fully comprehend the mysteries”.  

Octothorpe 102 is here! We discuss the Hugo Awards debacle in some depth and SOLVE ALL THE ISSUES (no, really) but we book-end it with letters of comment and picks for those who need a bit of respite. Artwork by Alison Scott. Listen here!  

Alt text: Scooby, Velma and Daphne unmask the panda from last week’s cover art, and the person wearing the panda suit looks a lot like Dave McCarty. They say “It was old Mister McCarty all along!” and he says “And I would have gotten away with it too if it hadn’t been for you meddling Hugo finalists!” He is tied up with rope. The words “Octothorpe! 102” appear at the top of the image.

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

Pixel Scroll 1/19/24 All These Pixels Are Someone Else’s Fault

(1) WRITERS WHO SPEAK AT THE CIA. From Brian Keene I heard about this article:

Johannes Lichtman tells about attending “Invisible Ink: At the CIA’s Creative Writing Group” in The Paris Review. After he gives his presentation, they take him to lunch.

… I had a little time to kill before our lunch reservation—seating time in the executive dining room was not flexible—so Vivian took me to the gift shop.

Given that almost no one’s allowed inside Langley and the people who work for the CIA aren’t supposed to advertise it, it was, like with the museum, a bit of a mystery who the gift shop was for. The shelves were stocked with T-shirts (Central Intelligence Agency), mugs (Central Intelligence Agency), and novelty barbecue sauce (Top Secret Recipe!). There was also a Pride Month display (Central Intelligence Agency in rainbow)….

… While we waited for our food, the writer of dystopian sci-fi confirmed that if you work for the CIA, lawyers have to vet anything you publish. But they were more lenient than I would’ve guessed. She said that one of her novels had helped change how the agency viewed fiction versus nonfiction. While reading her novel, the lawyers decided that just because a character in a novel says something doesn’t mean that the author necessarily agrees, so there should be more leeway for CIA fiction writers. (Which suggests CIA lawyers are more nuanced literary critics than half of Goodreads.)…

(2) NEVER STEAL ANYTHING SMALL. This is breathtaking — “Peak Fake: A Scam Website Impersonating Macmillan Publishers”. Victoria Strauss analyzes the scam at Writer Beware.

I write a lot about impersonation scams on this blog–for good reason: they are extremely common, and becoming more so all the time. Literary agents, publishers, production companies, film directors: all are targets.

The purpose: money, of course. By posing as real, reputable companies and individuals, the scammers aim to make it more likely writers will be bamboozled into paying for needless, substandard, and/or fraudulent “services”.

This one, though, takes the cake: an entire website impersonating Macmillan Publishers.

The domain name, booksmacmillan.com, is just 15 days old as of this writing (the registration is, of course, anonymized):…

(3) LOCKS TOO EASY TO PICK. Cory Doctorow finds a creative way to criticize a trend: “Demon-haunted computers are back, baby”.

As a science fiction writer, I am professionally irritated by a lot of sf movies. Not only do those writers get paid a lot more than I do, they insist on including things like “self-destruct” buttons on the bridges of their starships.

Look, I get it. When the evil empire is closing in on your flagship with its secret transdimensional technology, it’s important that you keep those secrets out of the emperor’s hand. An irrevocable self-destruct switch there on the bridge gets the job done! (It has to be irrevocable, otherwise the baddies’ll just swarm the bridge and toggle it off).

But c’mon. If there’s a facility built into your spaceship that causes it to explode no matter what the people on the bridge do, that is also a pretty big security risk! What if the bad guy figures out how to hijack the measure that – by design – the people who depend on the spaceship as a matter of life and death can’t detect or override?…

Doctorow then gives several examples where software supposedly designed to secure computers turned out to be vulnerable. He sums up one case with a callback to his science fictional lede:

…This is a self-destruct switch that’s been compromised by the enemy, and which no one on the bridge can de-activate – by design. It’s not the first time this has happened, and it won’t be the last…

(4) THE WORST OF TIMES. BBC Radio 4’s Screen Shot discusses “British Dystopias”. Listen to the episode at the link.

Forty years on from 1984 and the release of the John Hurt-starring big screen adaptation of George Orwell’s novel, Ellen E Jones and Mark Kermode explore dystopian visions from British film and TV. Mark speaks to film critic Kim Newman about the literary roots of the dystopia, from 1984 to A Clockwork Orange. And he talks to actor Brian Cox about how, in a career that has included roles as Dr Hannibal Lecter and Logan Roy, the prophetic 1968 TV play The Year of The Sex Olympics remains one of the projects he is most proud of. Meanwhile, Ellen talks to Ngozi Onwurah, the director of landmark film Welcome II The Terrordome. Released in 1995, the radical British dystopian tale was the first feature directed by a black woman to get a UK cinema release. Ellen and Ngozi discuss why Welcome II The Terrordome was so prescient. And Ellen also speaks to Kibwe Tavares, who co-directed new film The Kitchen, about a dilapidated housing estate in a near-future London, with Get Out star Daniel Kaluuya.

(5) PLAGIARISM DISCOVERED. Utopia Science Fiction Magazine today made a painful announcement. Thread starts here.

(6) THAT SURE WOULD HAVE BEEN DIFFERENT. “Jodie Foster as Princess Leia? Here’s what Star Wars would have looked like” speculates the Guardian.

… Speaking to Jimmy Fallon on The Tonight Show, Foster revealed this week that she turned down the opportunity to star in 1977’s blockbuster gamechanger because she would have had to break a contract for a Disney movie (almost certainly 1976’s Freaky Friday) filmed during the same period….

…Foster would have been 13 or 14 during the filming of the first Star Wars movie, while Carrie Fisher (who won the role) was 19. Suffice to say, this would have changed the dynamic of Lucas’s movie just a little bit. Star Wars isn’t necessarily the most mature and sophisticated of science fiction sagas, but lowering the age of one of its central protagonists might have brought the era of Phantom Menace on us three decades too early. Harrison Ford’s Han Solo and Foster’s Leia would have had more of a daughter and father figure relationship, which might have provided its own unique dynamic, but certainly would have been a leap. Might Leia have ended up plunging that weird crossguard ’saber into Solo’s heart in the sequel trilogy instead of Kylo Ren?…

(7) DO NOT COLLECT $200. Gizmodo surveys “The Most Unhinged Monopoly Variations You Can Buy Right Now”. Here’s one that’s genre-themed:

A movie you barely remember, featuring characters you remember even less, featuring a set-up every kid will go crazy for: “Players try to safeguard as many properties as they can to collect rent in the form of cosmic energy units.” The sheer “waning days of Marvel Cinematic Universe dominance” vibes do add a certain nostalgic flair, though. $33.99 at Hasbro$14.97 at Amazon.

(8) EVERYTHING DEPENDS ON WHERE YOU ARE IN THE CIRCLE THAT NEVER BEGINS. (Some of you will remember that lyric.) The Guardian likes the look of an Indiana Jones game that’s in development: “Lashings of fun? Microsoft reveals new Indiana Jones game”.

…During Microsoft’s latest Developer Direct online event, streamed on Thursday evening, we saw a 12-minute preview of Indiana Jones and the Great Circle, a globe-trotting first-person adventure, set between Raiders of the Lost Ark and the Last Crusade. The project was revealed three years ago, but this is the first footage we’ve seen, and it’s promising stuff. It has Nazis, it has a whip, it has Dr Jones in deserts, in tombs and arguing with Denholm Elliott in fusty college buildings; and it has a story involving a stolen artefact that is somehow linked to an international network of ancient monuments all of which align with a circle spanning the world…

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY.

[Written by Cat Eldridge.]

Born January 19, 1932 Richard Lester, 92. Serious film and I don’t get along — give me a good, fun film and I’m very, very happy. Thus you’re getting American-born but eventually British-resident film director Richard Lester for the Birthday this Scroll. Pop the bubbly and dig into the chocolate cake, let’s get started. 

A variety show he produced caught the attention of Peter Sellers who got Lester’s assistance in getting The Goon Show from the BBC Home Service on to ITV in the London area as The Idiot Weekly, Price 2d.  It lasted but six episodes. 

Richard Lester in 1967.

His second film after It’s Trad, Dad which is decidedly not genre was The Mouse on the Moon, a sequel to The Mouse That Roared (which he was not involved in at all.) It was by Michael Pertwee, brother of a certain actor we know from Doctor Who. Quite silly it was. 

He directed The Running Jumping & Standing Still Film, a late Fifties sketch comedy short film directed by him and Peter Sellers. So why mention it? It’s because it was a favorite of John Lennon which led to him being hired to direct A Hard Day’s Night and then Help! You know which film is genre, so I needn’t say so. 

Next up is The Three Musketeers (which I didn’t know was also known as The Three Musketeers (The Queen’s Diamonds) which is an interesting title).  Fascinatingly George MacDonald Fraser wrote the screenplay. He shot The Four Musketeers right after this film.

He later reunited most of the Three Musketeers cast to film The Return of the Musketeers with the only notable cast member not being present was Raquel Welch. 

Lester was fond of swashbuckler films, so it was only natural that he decided to direct a Flashman film. Royal Flash was based offthe second of the Flashman novels by George MacDonald Fraser which now gives me the link to him writing the Musketeer screenplays. Cool. Very cool. And naturally Fraser wrote the screenplay here.

(A digression. I mentioned it before but I’ll mention it again. Kage Baker adored Flashman and this film as well. She told me several times in the last year before her passing on that she was planning on writing a Flashman novel but of course never did sadly.) 

Then there was Robin and Marian, which along with along with Richard Carpenter’s Robin of Sherwood, I hold to be the finest representations of Robin Hood ever done.  The script was by James Goldman, writer of The Lion in Winter, and as you know the leads were performed by Sean Connery and Audrey Hepburn. Perfect. Truly perfect. 

Superman II was a great success after he reshot almost all the footage Richard Donner had already shot, some three quarters of the projected film. Ouch. (That was released as Superman II: The Richard Donner Cut.) Unlike this film, Superman III directed by him would be both a critical and box office failure. 

His last film before retirement though not genre, I’ll note as it’s a great film called Get Back, the thirty-three year old concert film that about The Paul McCartney World Tour of 1989–1990.  Seventeen of the twenty-three songs he performs are by the Beatles. 

(10) LANSDALE ON WALDROP. The Texas Standard interviewed Joe Lansdale about his friend in “Remembering science fiction author Howard Waldrop”. Waldrop died January 14.

Well, he was certainly known among other writers. I think he’s sometimes been called a writer’s writer, which is quite the compliment from one’s colleagues. What does that accolade mean to you when you think about Waldrop’s work and how he related with other writers? 

Well, you want the general audience to like your work, but I think there is something special about the idea that you’re writing something that your peers really get and really understand and really appreciate, because I think that ultimately you want to be able to say, “look, I want to write something unusual, but I want it to be appreciated by other people who write unusual things.”

So it’s not just passé or the same old stuff. So I believe that that’s what is meant by a writer’s writer. It’s a writer who looks at another writer and says, “I wish I could do that,” or “maybe I can learn to do that.”

(11) KILLING FOR IVORY. The Hugo Book Club Blog reviews Ray Nayler’s The Tusks of Extinction in “The Last Trumpet Shall Sound”.

…“The Mountain in the Sea had its roots in the ecological preservation work I engaged in in Vietnam. That work was preventative and positive, working with youth and with environmental activists to protect the Con Dao Archipelago,” Nayler explained by email in early January. “The Tusks of Extinction has its roots in my experiences in Vietnam dealing with the illegal ivory trade and the trade in rhino horn. That work exposed me to the grimmest realities of human greed, ignorance, and exploitation. The enormity of the slaughter of elephants and rhinos for the sake of useless trinkets and the stupidest pseudo-medicinal ideas.”…

(12) FREAKY. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] Um, Pennywise. Ghost hunting in a graveyard. And Tonopah NV—host city of Westercon 74 in 2022. “Man Gives Chilling Look at His One Night in ‘Haunted’ Clown Motel: ‘Done With Clown Stuff'” in People.

If you’ve ever wondered exactly what it’s like to stay overnight alone in a haunted motel — one inhabited by hundreds of clowns — one brave soul knows the answer.

In a video shared to Instagram, user Khail Anonymous shares his experience staying overnight at the Clown Motel in Tonopah, Nevada.

“Why did I go ALONE??” he captions the Reel, which begins with a shot of the hotel room door — decorated with a colorful illustration of what appears to be Pennywise, the toothed clown made famous in Stephen King’s It….

… The video also shows what’s next door to the motel — a graveyard complete with rows of headstones.

“There’s also a graveyard next door. I forgot to mention that, Oh, whoops,” he says in the video….

(13) NOT LONG BEFORE THE END. “A Hunger for Strangeness: A Cryptids Reading List” at Longreads.

Late one night many years ago, my sister was driving home through the leafy roads of South East England when a strange animal bounded into the headlights of her car and swiftly disappeared into a hedgerow. She was certain, she said, that it had been a wallaby—despite the fact that the kangaroo relative was native to Australia and Papua New Guinea and decidedly not native to Oxfordshire. Our reaction was about what you’d expect from a British family: politely skeptical. It had been dark, the encounter fleeting, and the human brain is decidedly fallible. Surely, then, she must have been mistaken.

My sister would eventually be vindicated when the existence of wild wallabies in the UK was confirmed and even captured on film. Yet, her experience isn’t too different from those who claim to have encountered cryptids, creatures whose existence remains a matter of debate. Yeti, Bigfoot, and the Loch Ness Monster are only the beginning; a small but committed community of cryptid hunters is dedicated to proving the existence of doubted beasts like the Mongolian Death Worm, the Honey Island Swamp Monster, and the Skunk Ape. …

… why do cryptid hunters continue to put their reputations on the line, and what other legendary beasts might we discover to be not so legendary after all? In an age when species extinction has reached alarming proportions, perhaps this quest to discover new life carries extra poignancy. The articles collected below offer tantalizing insight into both questions….

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

Pixel Scroll 1/7/24 Pixels Scrolling Off Into The Sky, The Sound Of Filers Echoing Down From The Heaven

(1) THESE GUYS ARE SHAMELESS. Disney tried to shut down a YouTuber’s remix of Steamboat Willie even though it was in public domain: “Disney pulls ‘Steamboat Willie’ YouTube copyright claim amid Mickey Mouse entry into public domain”.

Mashable reported that YouTuber and voice actor Brock Baker had uploaded a video to his channel with over 1 million subscribers which was almost immediately hit with a copyright claim from Disney.

Baker’s video featured the entirety of the 1928 Disney animated short Steamboat Willie. He had remixed the film, which stars Mickey Mouse, with his own comedic audio track playing over the nearly 8-minute cartoon, and released it under the title “Steamboat Willie (Brock’s Dub).”

After being hit with the claim, Baker’s upload became demonetized, meaning the YouTuber could not make any money off of it. The claim also blocked the ability to embed the video on third-party websites. In addition, the YouTube video was given limited visibility, including being blocked from view entirely in certain countries. 

Baker disputed the copyright claim shortly after receiving it. His case appeared strong, as Steamboat Willie entered the public domain on January 1, 2024, allowing a broad range of creative usage of the film and its contents without Disney’s permission — including for profit.

He was successful.

“Disney released their claim and it’s now embeddable and shareable worldwide,” Baker told Mashable on Friday along with a screenshot of the email alert he received from YouTube letting him know the copyright claim was released.

“Good news! After reviewing your dispute, Disney has decided to release their copyright claim on your YouTube video,” reads the YouTube email message….

Watch “Steamboat Willie (Brock’s Dub)” at the link.

(2) THE SUBSTACK DILEMMA. Cass Morris and Brian Keene recently shared their takes on “Substack’s Nazi Problem”.

“So… Substack…” by Cass Morris.

A few weeks ago, I co-signed an open letter to Substack’s founders asking them to not platform Nazis. Their response was… not great. The Paradox of Tolerance in action, really. And I could go into a big thing about the dangers of free speech absolutism and how it’s really just permission for terrible people to be more terrible more openly, but, y’know, that’s all been said a billion times. “Don’t welcome Nazis” really should not be a controversial viewpoint, yet here we are.

As a result of the founders’ statement, a fair number of both creators and supporters are leaving Substack. Even more, I think, are trying to decide whether to do so. A.R. Moxon and Catherynne Valente have said, more eloquently and thoroughly, the things I’m thinking and wrangling with, but I did want my readers to hear from me directly on this….

…Moving somewhere else is also no guarantee that a new platform won’t also face the same problems someday, forcing yet another move. I’m a child of the LiveJournal age; I remember how it started, and I remember what happened when it got sold. Very few sites seem to have long-term viability without corporate backing, and the increased corporatization of the internet is most of the reason I think the internet peaked in 2007. Every site is potentially in danger. Just because Buttondown or other platforms are promising good behavior now doesn’t mean anything if leadership or ownership changes (citation: Twitter). As Moxon and Valente both pointed out in their essays, abandoning every site that fails a virtue test means giving all our playgrounds over to the Nazis, and I’m not sure I’m okay with continuing to do that….

“Letters From the Labyrinth 364” by Brian Keene.

…These days I am so far removed from the drama and the backbiting and the petty squabbles that encompass our industry that I no longer know who is mad at who, or who’s been cancelled and for what, or which publisher isn’t paying, or what this person did. For example, I only found out recently that Substack has an apparent Nazi problem — something I was blissfully unaware of until several newsletters I subscribe to migrated away from the platform. And I respect folks decisions to do that. I’m going to stick it out because I’m tired of leaving platforms when the Nazis show up. We did that with Facebook and Twitter and Reddit. If we keep doing that, soon every bar will be a Nazi bar. Sooner or later, you’ve got to plant your feet and fight. So here is where I’ll make my stand — a counter-voice to their voices. If you can dig that, cool. If not, I don’t care….

(3) THE AMERICAN MULE? Ross Douthat’s New York Times opinion piece “Is Trump an Agent or an Accident of History?” kicks off with a big reference to Asimov.

In Isaac Asimov’s Foundation novels, a “psychohistorian” in a far-flung galactic empire figures out a way to predict the future so exactly that he can anticipate both the empire’s fall and the way that civilization can be painstakingly rebuilt. This enables him to plan a project — the “foundation” of the title — that will long outlast his death, complete with periodic messages to his heirs that always show foreknowledge of their challenges and crises.

Until one day the foreknowledge fails, because an inherently unpredictable figure has come upon the scene — the Mule, a Napoleon of galactic politics, whose advent was hard for even a psychohistorian to see coming because he’s literally a mutant, graced by some genetic twist with the power of telepathy.

Donald Trump is not a mutant telepath. (Or so I assume — fact checkers are still at work.) But the debates about how to deal with his challenge to the American political system turn, in part, on how much you think that he resembles Asimov’s Mule.

Was there a more normal, conventional, stable-seeming timeline for 21st century American politics that Trump, with his unique blend of tabloid celebrity, reality-TV charisma, personal shamelessness and demagogic intuition, somehow wrenched us off?

Or is Trump just an American expression of the trends that have revived nationalism all over the world, precisely the sort of figure a “psychohistory” of our era would have anticipated? In which case, are attempts to find some elite removal mechanism likely to just heighten the contradictions that yielded Trumpism in the first place, widening the gyre and bringing the rough beast slouching in much faster?…

(4) DOUG BERRY: THE GUY IN THE GIANTS HAT. [Item by Chris Garcia.] Last October, the world lost a wonderful human being — Douglas Berry. A Bay Area fan who was one of the original denizens of the 2000s Fanzine Lounges, Doug was also a phenomenal writer, best-known for his game writing in the Traveler game system universe, he was also a regularly blogger and Facebooker, and contributed to Journey Planet and The Drink Tank, co-editing two issues of the latter. 

Doug’s widow Kirsten, Chuck Serface, and Chris Garcia gathered some of Doug’s best writing from 2023, along with a few pieces from the last few years. The resulting collection, The Guy in the Giants Hat, can be downloaded from the link.

(5) PARAMOUNT+ SHEDS ORIGINAL STAR TREK MOVIES. Rachel Leishman gloats “Now That Only the Kelvin-Verse ‘Star Trek’ Movies Are Available on Paramount+, Maybe You’ll See Things My Way” at The Mary Sue.

Finally my time has come. You will all be forced to appreciate the Kelvin-verse. My plan is working, and you will all soon love my favorite Star Trek movies. That’s what you get for being mean. 

To be fair, you can still stream the original Star Trek movies. They’re just no longer on Paramount+, the home of the franchise. Hilarious to think about it like that, but it is weird that the home of Trek does not have the original Star Trek movies on its platform. What it does have are the movies starring Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, and Karl Urban. Yes, you can still watch the magic that is Star Trek Beyond to your heart’s content. 

The Kelvin-verse movies (aptly named because they exist in an alternate timeline) started with the 2009 Star Trek from director J.J. Abrams and gave us a new crew of the Enterprise. They are beautiful and getting to see their adventures is extremely necessary in the world of Trek. Also, who doesn’t want to see more of Leonard Nimoy as Spock? Point is: These movies rule and we have been stuck in limbo about whether this franchise will continue for years. 

(6) SCHRÖDINGER’S TV SERIES. Meanwhile, The Orville’s fate has not been sealed: “Seth MacFarlane Says The Orville Isn’t Canceled Yet” in The Wrap.

Seth MacFarlane, the creator, writer and star of “The Orville,” has offered a cryptic update on the sci-fi series’ fate.

“All I can tell you is that there is no official death certificate for ‘The Orville’,” MacFarlane told TheWrap in an interview when asked about an update on a possible Season 4. “It is still with us. I can’t go any further than that at the moment. There are too many factors.”

MacFarlane’s co-star Scott Grimes added that conversations about “The Orville” Season 4 began before the SAG-AFTRA and Writers’ Guild of America strikes.

“I do know that we are still talking about it. It’s not dead in any sort of way whatsoever. It’s just about when, where and how and building the stuff again,” Grimes told TheWrap. “I’m excited because it’s one of the greatest things to work on. So I just have my fingers crossed. And I know Seth wants to do it and that usually holds a lot of power. And I hope he gets to because it’s one of his babies that he just loves and it’s a blast to work on.”…

(7) FREE SFF READ. The Sunday Morning Transport offers “Agni” by Nibedita Sen as a free read to encourage people to subscribe.

Nibedita Sen brings us a brilliant, dangerous world, complex power dynamics, and characters we can’t stop thinking about…

(8) DR. EMANUEL LOTTEM (1944-2024.) Israeli translator and editor Dr. Emanuel Lotem has died. The Israeli Science Fiction and Fantasy Association mourned his loss on Facebook. (Note: Translations of his name are spelled several different ways; I have followed the spelling used by his Zion’s Fiction co-editor Sheldon Teitelbaum.)

Emanuel was one of the founding fathers of the Israeli community. As one of the association’s founders and chairman, he saw the approach of science fiction and fantasy as a supreme goal. The founders of the community and the association concentrated around him, and in light of his vision, conferences, and lectures began in them. Even after retiring from his official position, Emanuel was always present to give a listening ear, a push in the right direction or a prickly and precise word, always out of love for the content world and the community created around him. Emanuel made sure to lecture at conferences, meet the young and old fans that always surrounded him, and always returned the love that the community allowed him.

Emanuel was the translator of the science fiction and fantasy types into Hebrew, his translations brought to the Israeli audience the greatness of writers and books in Israel for more than 45 years. For many his translations were the first encounter with science fiction. His translations to “Dune” and “Lord of the Rings” well illustrated that Emanuel saw in the role of a translator a purpose, and a way to enrich the literary world through careful dialogue with the work. His vast breadth of knowledge and proficiency in every possible subject made his translations into art, and not just technical art. Emanuel pushed for the translation and publication of science fiction at a time when its translation was an insidious act, and was a significant factor in the field’s bloom.

Many people owe him their entry into this world, and many more will miss him.

Lottem recalled his start as an sff translator in an interview, “Dr. Emanuel Lottem, Intrigue and Conspiracies”, by the ISFFA.

…I fell in love with the English language and it helped me a lot to develop my third career as a translator from English to Hebrew. I started it basically as a gig. In my first career, as a university lecturer, salaries there weren’t anything, I needed a gig, I said, I can translate, why not, that’s how I came to Am Oved Publishing House, I had personal connections there, and I translated several books for them in my professional field, which is international economics. Then the White Series was born. And I was turned on. I said I want to translate. Tell me what a serious person is, what you have with this nonsense, science fiction. What are you, floating in the clouds? Translate serious things. I insisted, and then one day I called, it was already in my second career in the Foreign Ministry, the editorial secretary of Am Oved, called me, said I have a book called Dune, want to translate it? Luckily I was sitting on a good chair, so I didn’t fall out of it… And that’s how it started. That’s how my journey as a science fiction translator began. If the question was how my love for science fiction began, it was years before….

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY.

[Written by Cat Eldridge.]

Born January 7, 1912 Charles Addams. (Died 1988.) Ahhh Charles Addams. No doubt you’re now thinking of the Addams Family and you’ve certainly reason to do so, but let’s first note some other artistic endeavors of his. 

His first published book work in the early Forties was the cover for But Who Wakes The Bugler by Peter DeVries, a silly slice of life novel.  He previously sold some sketches to the New Yorker

Random House soon thereafter contracted him for anthologies of drawings, Drawn and Quartered and Addams and Evil. (Lest you ask, the term “anthology” is from his website.)  Four more anthologies, now on Simon & Schuster will follow. 

And there was The Chas Addams Mother Goose, really there was. Here’s his cover for it.

Based on his the characters that had appeared in his New Yorker cartoons, 1964 saw The Addams Family television series premiere on ABC. It would star, and I’m just singling them out, John Astin as Gomez and Carolyn Jones as Morticia. 

It lasted just two seasons of thirty-minute episodes. Mind you there were sixty-four episodes. Yes, I loved every minute of it. I have watched it at least three times, as recently as several years ago and it as great now as was when I first watched it decades ago.

Halloween with the New Addams Family is a follow-up film with the primary cast back. No idea why the New is in there.  We also had The Addams Family, an animated with a voice cast with some of the original performers, yet another Addams Family series (each with these largely had just Sean Astin from the original series).

Think we’re done? Of course there is The Addams Family with Raúl Julia as a most macabre Gomez and Anjelica Huston as Morticia Addams with Carol Struycken playing Lurch for the first of several times.  I really, really adore this film. 

It was followed by the Addams Family Values which for some reason that I can’t quite figure out I just don’t adore.

Are we finished? No. The New Addams Family which aired for one nearly a quarter of a century after the original series went off the air after but a single season but lasted an extraordinary sixty-five episodes. I need to see at least the pilot for this. 

And then there’s the Addams Family Reunion which had the distinction of Tim Curry as Gomez. I’ve not seen it, so who has? It sounds like an intriguing role for him…

There will be two animated films as well, The Addams Family and The Addams Family 2, neither of which I’ve seen.

Finally let’s talk about licensing. After his death, his wife, Tee Addams, was responsible for getting his works licensed. To quote the website, “The Addams Family, both its individual characters and the Family in its entirety, have a long history of selling products, in print ad campaigns and television commercials alike – from typewriters to Japanese scotch, from designer showcases to perfume, from paper towels to chocolate candies, and all that lies in between.” 

So I went looking for use of the characters. I think the best one I found is the claymation one for M&Ms Dark Chocolate which you can see here. (And please don’t ask me about the Wizard of Oz M&Ms commercial. That one is still giving me nightmares.though the FedEx Wizard of Oz commercial is just silly. I mean dropping a FedEx truck on that witch…)

(10) COMICS SECTION.

  • Thatababy plays “match the snowman”. How many do you recognize?
  • The Far Side shows the dogs’ take on nuclear war.
  • Peanuts from March 28, 1955 is the start of five more Martian jokes.
  • Sally Forth has a complaint about that other Jetpack…

(11) I’LL BE BACK. [Item by Steven French.] Physics World picks “The 10 quirkiest stories from the world of physics in 2023”. This one is kinda scary:

Shape-shifting robot

In the classic 1991 film Terminator 2: Judgment Day, Arnold Schwarzenegger’s robot assassin, the T-800, comes up against the T-1000 Advanced Prototype, which is made from a liquid metal called “mimetic polyalloy” that can reform into any shape it touches. Researchers in China and the US this year came close to recreating in the lab some of the T-1000’s special abilities. They did this by designing miniature robots that can rapidly and reversibly shift between liquid and solid. First, they embedded magnetic particles in gallium, a soft metal with a low melting point. Then they applied an alternating magnetic field, which not only heats the magnetic particles, making the body become a liquid, but also allows it to become mobile. In one video released by the team, a 10mm-tall LEGO-like minifigure liquifies to ooze before passing through bars in a mocked-up cell. It then cools inside a mould before the figure reforms back into its original shape.”

(12) CLIENTS PROPPING THEM UP. CBS Los Angeles reports how the “Entertainment industry bands together to save struggling Hollywood prop house”.

From the outside, Faux Library Studio Props may seem like an unassuming warehouse nestled in North Hollywood. Inside, however, are a whole host of set pieces that tell the recent history of the entertainment industry. 

Unfortunately, like many businesses trying to bounce back in the past couple of years, all of the priceless mementos may be lost unless the owner can come up with $100,000 by February.

Marc Meyer started Faux Library Studio Props over two decades ago in 2000. 

“When I retired from decorating I said I got to keep buying and enjoying myself. So, this was my business,” Meyer said. 

His retirement project turned into the home for vintage furniture and décor worth millions of dollars, including a desk from “Top Gun Maverick” and a boardroom table in “Grey’s Anatomy.” 

However, Meyer is famous for the prop books he holds, all 16,000 of them, including the ones from “Angels and Demons.”

While the covers are real, the insides are not. 

“That’s the wallpaper on the inside, just to make it look like pages,” Meyer said. “The actor really has to act to show the weight.”…

(13) STAR HOOEY. “Fox News Host Unexpectedly Wins for Most Baffling ‘Star Trek’ vs. ‘Star Wars’ Take” according to The Mary Sue.

….On Thursday’s episode of the Fox News roundtable show Outnumbered, the hosts discussed a new Star Wars announcement. These high-profile, successful women on Fox News were outraged that a woman, Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy, will direct the next Star Wars film. Like much of the right-wing media, they found it upsetting that Obaid-Chinoy said it was about time a woman directed a Star Wars movie.

The show also highlighted a statement Obaid-Chinoy made years ago, unrelated to Star Wars, about enjoying making men uncomfortable with her movies. After showing the Obaid-Chinoy quote, Fox News host Emily Compagno said, “Pretty great attitude for a director of a franchise that is geared towards men!”

Kayleigh McEnany, another host on the show, predicted Obaid-Chinoy’s film would “flop.” McEnany tried to bolster her argument by reading a list of recent conservative “successes” in pop culture. These included the terrible song “Try That in a Small Town” and the Bud Light boycott. McEnany made an argument that “woke” things failed in 2023. (I guess she missed how Barbie dominated the box office, among other successful feminist works in the past year.) She wrapped up her rant by sarcastically wishing Obaid-Chinoy the “best of luck” with her Star Wars movie.

That’s when Compagno flashed a backward Vulcan salute and said, “And that’s why I’m a Trekkie and not Star Wars!”…

And then The Mary Sue pointed out many examples of when Star Trek was attacked as too “woke”.

(14) VIDEO OF THE DAY. Ryan George takes you inside the “Rebel Moon: Part One Pitch Meeting”.

[Thanks to SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Steven French, Mike Kennedy, Kathy Sullivan, Chris Garcia, Lise Andreasen, Daniel Dern, Andrew Porter, John King Tarpinian, Chris Barkley, and Cat Eldridge  for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Mark Roth-Whitworth.]

Pixel Scroll 1/5/24 Scroll, Muse, of the Pixels of the Filers

(1) FREE ON EARTH. Brian Keene has posted the program schedule for “Christopher Golden’s House of Last Resort Weekend (hosted by Brian Keene)” a FREE horror convention, taking place January 18 – 21, 2024 at the Sheraton Portsmouth Harborside Hotel, 250 Market St., in Portsmouth, NH 03801.

Admission is FREE with weekend hotel room reservation.  Click here to register for this FREE one-time event. Click here to reserve your hotel room.

The “House of Last Resort Weekend Schedule” is at Brian Keene’s blog. Apparently, if you’re going, you really really should not miss Opening Ceremonies.

7:00pm (Prescott) – Opening Ceremonies: Christopher Golden and host Brian Keene welcome you to this one of a kind, once in a lifetime special event. We’ll go over the rules, the purpose of the weekend, the schedule, and much more. Attendance is strongly encouraged, and to show you that we mean this, we’ll give away free door prizes to random individuals.

(2) APPLY FOR THE BOSE GRANT. The Speculative Literature Foundation is taking applications for the A.C. Bose Grant for South Asian Speculative Literature through January 31.

The A.C. Bose Grant annually provides $1,000 to South Asian or Desi diaspora writers developing speculative fiction. Work that is accessible to older children and teens will be given preference in the jury process. 

This grant, as with all SLF grants, is intended to help writers working with speculative literature. Speculative literature spans the breadth of fantastic writing, encompassing literature ranging from hard science fiction to epic fantasy, including ghost stories, horror, folk and fairy tales, slipstream, magical realism, and more. Any piece of literature containing a fabulist or speculative element would fall under our aegis.

This grant is awarded on the basis of merit. If awarded the grant, the recipient agrees to provide a brief excerpt from their work and an autobiographical statement describing themselves and their writing (500-1,000 words) for our files and for public dissemination on our website and mailing list.

The application form is at the SLF website.

(3) MATCH GAME. Nick Johnson thought of a great way to spice up his annual recommendation list: “Reading (and Publication!) Round-Up for 2023” at Medium.

I’m choosing to do my year-end wrap-up a little differently this time. Whereas before I separated out novels and short stories to highlight the best of both, for 2023 I present instead a curated, tandem list — a prix fixe menu, if you will. I’ve listed each book in the order I read it, complete with brief description and a rating (out of 5 ★s).

Each novel is paired with a short story. Why? Because short stories don’t get enough love! Think of them as palate cleansers, digestifs to follow the main course. Some of these pairings are based on similarities between concepts or characters. Sometimes they approach similar themes from divergent angles. Whatever the reason may be, if you choose to read them, I hope they take you on rewarding journeys to emotional places you don’t expect.

Here’s one example.

A Wizard’s Guide to Defensive Baking, by T. Kingfisher (★★★★)

T. Kingfisher’s solid young-adult fantasy novel follows Mona, a baker’s apprentice skilled in crafting magical golems out of baked goods, whose life is turned upside down when she finds a dead body on the floor of her bakery. Hijinks, both harrowing and heartwarming, ensue.

Pairing“There’s Magic in Bread” | Effie Seiberg | Fantasy MagazineSeiberg’s story about magical bread is more grounded to this plane, though sneaks in some grain-based golems for good measure.

(4) WHAT SHE’S READING. Maud Woolf features in the “Books & Authors” section of Shelf Awareness for Friday, January 5, 2024”.

Reading with… Maud Woolf

Maud Woolf is a speculative-fiction writer with a particular focus on horror and science fiction who lives in Glasgow, Scotland. Her work has appeared in a variety of online magazines. She’s worked a number of jobs, including waitressing, comic book selling, sign-holding, and as a tour guide at a German dollhouse museum. She is the author of Thirteen Ways to Kill Lulabelle Rock (Angry Robot, January 9, 2024), a feminist satire on celebrity and the multiple roles into which women are forced to squeeze their lives.

On your nightstand now: 

I have a bad habit of dipping in and out of multiple books at the same time. At the moment, I’m obsessed with solarpunk, so I’m reading A Psalm for the Wild-Builtby Becky Chambers and Glass and Gardens, an anthology of solarpunk stories edited by Sarena Ulibarri. Those have both just been abandoned in favour of The Forever Warby Joe Haldeman, a science-fiction classic influenced by the author’s own experiences in the Vietnam War. I usually avoid military sci-fi, but it’s completely consumed me.

(5) FRED CHAPPELL (1936-2024.) North Carolina writer and teacher Fred Chappell died January 4 at the age of 87. The Greensboro News and Record has a tribute here: “Fred Chappell, acclaimed author and poet, has died”.

His first novel, Dagon (1968) was honored as the Best Foreign Book of the Year by the Académie Française. He won two World Fantasy Awards for short fiction, “The Somewhere Doors” (1992) and “The Lodger” (1994). His short story “The Silent Woman” was also shortlisted for the Otherwise Award in 1997.

He was a past Poet Laureate of the state of North Carolina, and PBS North Carolina aired a documentary about him in 2022, “Fred Chappell: I Am One of You Forever”.

(6) JOHN F. O’CONNELL (1969–2024.) [Item by Cat Eldridge.] Author John O’Connell died January 1. His “Legerdemain” got him nominations for the Shirley Jackson and World Fantasy Awards. Two of his stories, “Legerdemain” and “The Swag from Doc Hawthorne’s” were published in F&SF. His only Award was an Imaginaire for his Dans les limbes, the French translation of The Resurrectionist novel. All three of his noirish linked novels, Box Nine, Skin Palace and Word Made Flesh are set in the fictional New England city of Quinsigamond, loosely based on his own resident city of Worcester, Massachusetts.

(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY.

[Written by Cat Eldridge.]

Born January 5, 1966 Tananarive Due, 57. This Scroll I’m very pleased to be looking at Tananarive Due, an author whose work is definitely more focused towards the noir side of our genre. 

She’s a native Floridian, born of civil rights activist Patricia Stephens Due and civil rights lawyer John D. Due, her mother named her after the French name for Antananarivo, the capital of Madagascar.  She’s married to Steve Barnes, and they live now in LA where their two children also live. 

Tananarive Due

Her first work was The Between, published twenty-eight years ago. It was nominated for a Bram Stroker Award. Like much of her work, it straddles the thin line between the mundane and horror quite chillingly. 

Shortly after that, she started the dark fantasy and a bit soap operish African Immortals series which ran over almost fifteen years and four novels. An Ethiopian family traded something away well over four centuries ago in a ritual that granted them true immortality. And one of them wants to invoke that ritual now… 

Eight years later, she’d write The Good House, one of the scariest haunted house stories I have ever encountered. Trigger warning: it deals with a suicide and the horror of it is very real here. 

Joplin’s Ghost followed shortly thereafter. Yes this is centered around the ragtime musican Scott Joplin and his haunting of a young female hip hop artist. It’s less of a horror novel than her works and more of a dark fantasy. Very well done.

Ghost Summer: Stories a decade on collected eighteen of her over thirty excellent short stories including the title story. Most of the rest, though not all, are in The Wishing Pool and Other Stories. The “Ghost Summer” story won a Carl Brandon Kindred Award and I love the story about who Carl Brandon is! The collection garnered a BFA. 

Her latest novel just out, The Reformatory: A Novel, is set in a Jim Crow Florida reformatory where the full horrors of the injustices of racism known no bounds of death. Really, really scary. 

Her quite well-crafted website can be found over here. She offers online courses including ones on Afrofuturism.

(8) COMICS SECTION.

  • Crankshaft surprises a friend by dropping an sff reference.

(9) KNOW YOUR VERBIAGE. Janet Rudolph has posted a chart of “Commonly Misused Words” at Mystery Fanfare. And in a comment Hal Glatzer has added this example:

Gauntlet = a heavy glove Gantlet = a double row of men with swords or pikes

You challenge someone to a duel by “throwing down the gauntlet.”
You put someone in danger by making them “walk (or run) the gantlet.”

(10) YEOH SHOW CANCELLED. American Born Chinese had a lot going for it – based on a Gene Luen Yang book, a cast including Michelle Yeoh and Ke Huy Quan – but it won’t be back for a second season says Variety: “’American Born Chinese’ Canceled After One Season at Disney+”.

American Born Chinese” has been canceled after one season at Disney+Variety has learned.

According to an individual with knowledge of the decision, Disney was high on the creative of the series, but its viewership did not justify greenlighting a second season. The producers plan to shop the series to other outlets.

“American Born Chinese” debuted on Disney+ on May. The Disney Branded Television series was based on the graphic novel of the same name by Gene Luen Yang. The official logline states that the show “chronicles the trials and tribulations of a regular American teenager whose life is forever changed when he befriends the son of a mythological god.”

(11) WHO’S WATCHING WHAT? JustWatch sent along its 2023 Market Shares data and graphics.

SVOD market shares in Q4 2023
In the final quarter of the year, Disney’s streaming services, Disney+ and Hulu, combined gathered more shares than current market leader Prime Video. Meanwhile, Netflix is approaching Prime Video with just a 1% difference between the two players.

Market share development in 2023
Over the year, the streaming battle in the US displayed interesting changes with Paramount+ leading with the highest increase since January, adding a total of +2%. Global streamer: Apple TV+ also displays strong improvement with a +1% increase.

(12) I’VE LOOKED AT CLOUDS FROM BOTH SIDES NOW. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] In this week’s Science journal we have “Magellanic cloud may be two galaxies, not one”.

The Small Magellanic Cloud (SMC), a hazy blob in the night sky easily visible to people in the Southern Hemisphere, has long been considered a lone dwarf galaxy close to the Milky Way. But a study posted online this month, and accepted by The Astrophysical Journal, suggests the familiar site is not a single body, but two, with one behind the other as viewed from Earth.

By tracking the movements of clouds of gas within the SMC and the young stars recently formed within them, astronomer Claire Murray of the Space Telescope Science Institute and her colleagues have found evidence of two stellar nurseries thousands of light-years apart. If confirmed, the reassessment will likely amplify calls from an increasing number of astronomers to change the SMC’s name and that of its neighbour, the Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC).

Sixteenth century Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan, after whom the galaxies are named, was not an astronomer, did not discover them, and is recorded as having murdered and enslaved Indigenous people during his first-ever circumnavigation of the globe. As a result, astronomer Mia de los Reyes of Amherst College called for renaming the SMC and LMC in an opinion piece for Physics magazine in September. The idea has since “gotten a lot of informal support,” she says.

(13) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] In “Three Sci-Fi Books Nobody Reads Anymore”,  Book Pilled looks at three lost SF treasures.  Gerard Klein The Overlords of War (English translation by the transmazing John Brunner), James Blish’s Vor, and Avram Davidson’s What Strange Stars and Skies.

[Thanks to Chris Barkley, Cat Eldridge, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Joel Zakem, Steven French, Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Andrew (not Werdna).]

Pixel Scroll 11/27/23 What’s In The Daily Scroll? I’ll Tell You What’s In The Daily Scroll — An Item About A Credential Who Didn’t Pay Their Air-And-Gravity Dues And Now Has Got Those Vacuum Blues

(1) REGRESS REPORT. Mari Ness says the 2025 World Fantasy Con is bringing the convention back to a venue it used a decade ago that still has substantial accessibility problems. Thread starts here.

On Bluesky Ness added:

The organization behind 2025 World Fantasy Con, HWS Events, replied on Bluesky:

(2) THE END IS NEAR. Brian Keene says he will end his revived Jobs In Hell newsletter in March 2024.

…One thing I’ve definitely noticed between JIH’s original incarnation back in the late-1990’s and early-2000’s versus now is the speed at which market listings and industry news happen. During the original Jobs In Hell’s run, we were the absolute fastest way for those kind of things to travel. Email was then a brand-new thing for most homes, and email newsletters were the fastest way of disseminating information, because social media did not exist yet.

These days, by the time I get the information to you once a month, you have probably already seen it elsewhere on Facebook or X (formerly known as Twitter) or a dozen other places. Thus, the question becomes — how do I overcome that?

And the answer is, I don’t….

… So, what I have decided is that Jobs In Hell will cease publication next March. Why wait until then? Because many of you paid for a full year’s subscription in advance, and I want to make sure you are served….

(3) PRESENT VALUE IS NO GIFT. “’Doctor Who’ Writer Residuals Shaken Up After Disney+ Boards BBC Show” reports Deadline.

Doctor Who, the long-running BBC sci-fi series, has shifted away from a residual model for its writers since Disney+ came on board as a partner, we understand.

The series, which is currently celebrating its 60th anniversary with a trio of specials from returning showrunner Russell T. Davies, has moved towards a buyout model for writers, Deadline has been told.

Sources said that episodic writers are now being paid a large fee upfront rather than a smaller fee plus residuals that has seen previous scribes earn additional compensation when Doctor Who is repeated.

Doctor Who, which has aired nearly 900 episodes over six decades, has been one of the most lucrative British sources of residuals for former writers down the years as it is so heavily repeated. The entire back catalog has just landed on BBC iPlayer, for example.

While Deadline understands that contracts were freely negotiated and agreed with writers and their agents, the move comes at a topical time for writers’ compensation, particularly given the recent labor action in the U.S. Doctor Who remains a British show and thereby doesn’t have to abide by WGA contracts but the optics are interesting given that the move comes after Disney+ boarded the series last year as a partner outside of the UK and Ireland….

(4) TIME TO TALK ABOUT A TROPE. Alyssa Shotwell tells readers of The Mary Sue “I Will Be Seated for ‘The American Society of Magical Negroes’”.

…Directed by writer/actor Kobi Libii (DoubtMadam Secretary), the satirical fantasy film looks to turn the storytelling trope of the Magical Negro on its head and into a fantastical adventure. As a refresher, the trope occurs when a fictional work uses its primary Black character to serve the interests of its white character. They have little to no importance to the plot and exist as a tool to help the white characters on their journey. Unfortunately, this is not a trope of a bygone era. In 2019, the Oscars awarded Green Book, a movie that turned an important Black American composer, Don Shirley, into a Magical Negro. Even into the 2020s, the trope has reappeared in popular media like The Queen’s Gambit and The Strand. You can learn more about the trope in former TMS writer Princess Weekes’s video on Magical Negros in Stephen King’s work.

The American Society of Magical Negroes stars Justice Smith (Detective PikachuDungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves) as Aren. After a secret society of magical Black people recruits Aren to help join their cause, his life changes forever. What’s their cause? Making white people’s lives easier….

(5) BALLARD’S NONFICTION. This week’s Open Book on BBC Radio 4 had its last third devoted to J. G. Ballard: “Open Book, Alexis Wright”.

Also on the programme, Roland Allen explores the history of writers and their notebooks; and Mark Blacklock and Toby Litt discuss J G Ballard’s non-fiction.

(6) LA WORLDCON BID. Craig Miller told Facebook readers that the LA in 2026 Worldcon bid was active at Loscon last weekend.

…One other thing that kept me occupied was the bid to host a World Science Fiction Convention (Worldcon) in the Los Angeles-area again in 2026. The bid had a table on the convention floor and we held a party on Saturday night in the hotel’s main party suite. Our theme is “intergalactic adventure” taking the form “of come to our Worldcon and be launched into adventure”. We decorated the room with large format posters of alien worlds and had special “intergalactic taste treats”.

The foods were named for various planets, some from fiction some real, and they each had appropriate descriptions. Quite a few people took photos of the food and their descriptions. I, of course, didn’t think to, even though I was noticing people doing so.

For Hoth, we had “Sweet snow caps topped with blue glacier shavings from ice caves”. Actually meringues topped with blue-colored white chocolate.

For KOI-5Ab (an actual exoplanet with three suns) we described this as giving different spectrums for growth resulting in blue, ruby, and brown outer coatings of crimson fruit. The food was really pomegranate seeds in either dark, ruby, or blue-colored white chocolate.

Perhaps my favorite was one we didn’t tie to a planet. We had fresh rambutan (which are sort of like lychee) served with the top half of their skin removed, leaving the round, white fruit exposed in a “hairy” base. I called them “alien eggs served in nest”.

And, yes, I’m that crazy, getting involved with running another Worldcon….

(7) SO WASN’T IT POPULAR ENOUGH? The magazine is gone, but the website remains. “After 151 years, Popular Science will no longer offer a magazine”The Verge has the story.

After 151 years, Popular Science will no longer be available to purchase as a magazine. In a statement to The Verge, Cathy Hebert, the communications director for PopSci owner Recurrent Ventures, says the outlet needs to “evolve” beyond its magazine product, which published its first all-digital issue in 2021.

PopSci, which covers a whole range of stories related to the fields of science, technology, and nature, published its first issue in 1872. Things have changed a lot over the years, with the magazine switching to a quarterly publication schedule in 2018 and doing away with the physical copies altogether after 2020….

…In addition to dropping its magazine format, PopSci laid off several employees earlier this month, leaving around five editorial staff members and “a few” workers on the publication’s commerce team, according to Axios. The digital media group Recurrent Ventures acquired PopSci in 2021 and named its third CEO in three years just one week before the layoffs hit.

PopSci will continue to offer articles on its website, along with its PopSci Plus subscription, which offers access to exclusive content and the magazine’s archive…. 

(8) BE FREE. The Guardian’s Alex Clark says take the labels off those bookstore shelves: “The big idea: should we abolish literary genres?”

…Genre is a confining madness; it says nothing about how writers write or readers read, and everything about how publishers, retailers and commentators would like them to. This is not to criticise the many talented personnel in those areas, who valiantly swim against the labels their industry has alighted on to shift units as quickly and smoothly as possible.

Consider the worst offender: not crime, horror, thriller, science fiction, espionage or romance, but “literary fiction”. It can and does contain many of the elements of the others, but is ultimately meaningless except as a confused shorthand: for what is thought clever or ambitious or beyond the comprehension of readers more suited to “mass market” or “commercial” fiction. What would happen if we dispensed with this non-category category altogether? Very little, except that we might meet a book on its own terms.

Is last year’s Booker prize winner, Shehan Karunatilaka’s The Seven Moons of Maali Almeida, a ghost story because its central character is dead, or a thriller because he has to work out who has murdered him? A historical novel because it is set during the Sri Lankan civil war, or speculative fiction because it contains scenes of the afterlife? And where do we place previous winners such as Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders or A Brief History of Seven Killings by Marlon James?…

… I’m returning now to a new novel, Orbital by Samantha Harvey, one of my favourite contemporary novelists. It is set in space, on board a craft circling the Earth, filled with astronauts from different countries and cultures, undergoing physical, mental and emotional changes. Her last novel, The Western Wind, was set in 1491, and she has also written about Alzheimer’s disease, Socrates, infidelity and insomnia. Categorise that….

(9) GROW MOUNT TBR. Becky Spratford introduces readers to “Largehearted Boy’s Essential and Interesting Best of 2023 Book Lists”.

I am talking about Largehearted Boy’s Best of 2023 Book Lists. For the past 15 years, David Gutowski has spent his end of each year trying to give you access to every single best books list in America. This year, for his 16th go-round, he has streamlined the process a bit. From this year’s page:

“For the past fifteen years, I have aggregated every online year-end book list I have discovered into one post.

“This year, I will collect essential and interesting year-end book lists in this post and update it daily.

“Please feel free to e-mail me with a magazine, newspaper, or other online list I have missed.”

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY.

[Written by Cat Eldridge.]

Born November 27, 1907 L. Sprague de Camp. (Died 2000.)  So what’s not to like about L. Sprague de Camp?  

Let’s start with his excellent The Incorporated Knight series comprises some 1970s short stories by de Camp and two novels written in collaboration with his wife Catherine Crook de Camp, The Incorporated Knight and The Pixilated Peeress. The early short stories were reworked into first novel.

Next let me praise his Harold Shea and Gavagan’s Bar stories, both written with his friend Fletcher Pratt.  There are five stories by them, another ten stories are written forty years later but not by them and I’m not at all fond of those. The original stories were first collected in The Compleat Enchanter: The Magical Misadventures of Harold Shea. Treasure them. 

Robert Heinlein, L. Sprague de Camp, and Isaac Asimov, Philadelphia Navy Yard, 1944.

They say Gavagan’s Bar were patterned after Lord Dunsany’s Jorkens stories and that certainly makes sense. These are quite extraordinary tales. It appears the last printed edition is Tales from Gavagan’s Bar in 1980 on Bantam Books. Orion did a UK epub just several years ago but not for the U.S. 

They did a lot of Really Good Stuff, say The Incomplete Enchanter and The Land of Unreason. An amazing writing partnership it was. 

So what’s good by him alone. Surprisingly his Conan tales are damn good. Now stop throwing things at me, I’m serious. Some are stellar like “The Frost Giant’s Daughter” and “The Bloodstained God”. (Yes I’ve a weakness for this fiction.) The three Conan novels co-written with Lin Carter (Conan the Barbarian was also written with Catherine Crook de Camp) are remarkably resistant to the Suck Fairy. 

Shall I note how excellent his Viagens Interplanetarias series is? Well I will. Adventurous and lighthearted SF with great characters and fun stories, novels (much of which was written with his wife) and stories alike are great reads. I read a few stories a while back and even the Suck Fairy still liked them. All of his fiction holds up remarkably well despite being written upwards of six decades ago. 

Well, that’s my personal reading history with him. What’s yours? 

(11) COMICS SECTION.

  • The Far Side: Lise Andreasen says, “Something similar actually happened to me, when I and my family visited Odense (birth place of H.C. Andersen) and hit another car.”

(12) THE TEARS ARE BIGGER ON THE OUTSIDE. In the Guardian: “’I blubbed inconsolably for 20 minutes’ – your favourite ever Doctor Who moments”.

‘A giant maggot creeping towards Jo Grant’

I remember the sheer terror as I watched a giant maggot slowly creeping towards Jo Grant at the end of an episode of The Green Death in the Pertwee era. There are always mentions of “hiding behind the sofa”, but I literally did. I was so terrified that my mum, another Who fan, tried to explain that the maggot would probably turn out to just want to have a talk with Jo. I have no idea why this made any sense to me, but it did help calm me down. My second favourite moment was when Christopher Eccleston regenerated into David Tennant. The first series of the new Who was a shared experience with my eldest daughter and turned her into a lifelong fan. At the end of this episode, she fled the room in tears crying out “but I don’t want him to go!” We still watch together, but reply via chat. Doctor Who brings three generations of my family together and keeps them connected over a silly show about a blue box. Andrew Stephens, Swindon

(13) DRESSING FESTIVELY. The New York Times looks to a Hallmark Christmas movie costume designer to understand “Clothes that Conjure the Holiday Spirit”.

How do locations like Biltmore House influence your process?

I walked through the mansion to get ideas from the space. I remember looking at the colors of the wood paneling and of the limestone. Window shades are kept at a certain level and rooms are kept dimly lit to protect the things inside from light. It’s very romantic and cozy, and I wanted wardrobes that communicated warmth and coziness using colors besides red and green.

To create a gown and a kilt worn by the stars of “A Merry Scottish Christmas,” I pulled together a bunch of tartans that went with the tapestries, candles and dark wood at the castle. We settled on MacDonald of Glencoe, a tartan with holiday-like jewel tones. The pattern was digitally printed on the fabric used to make the gown, and the kilt was made with a traditional wool tartan.

What are some challenges with costuming holiday films?

It’s the little things. All clothing sizes have changed: Vintage shoes are narrower than shoes are today, jackets fit differently, and girdles are gone. It’s hard to find people to do embroidery and beading.

But I like classic and timeless looks because Christmas movies are watched over and over.

 (14) WHEN NO ONE IS AT THE WHEEL. Two companies operated hundreds of driverless cars in San Francisco at the peak: “‘Lost Time for No Reason’: How Driverless Taxis Are Stressing Cities” reports the New York Times.

…After five years, there are still no systematic state safety and incident reporting standards for driverless cars in California, Ms. Friedlander said. “This is such a dramatic kind of change in transportation that it’s going to take many years for the regulatory structure to really be finalized,” she said.

Last year, the number of 911 calls from San Francisco residents about robotaxis began rising, city officials said. In one three-month period, 28 incidents were reported, according to a letter that city officials sent to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

By June, autonomous car incidents in San Francisco had risen to such a “concerning level” that the city’s Fire Department created a separate autonomous vehicle incident form, said Darius Luttropp, a deputy chief of the department. As of Oct. 15, 87 incidents had been recorded with the form.

“We move forward with expectations that this wonder technology will operate like a human driver,” Mr. Luttropp said. “That did not turn out to be the case.”

Mr. Wood, the firefighter, attended a weeklong training session held by Waymo in June at the Fire Department’s training center to learn more about the self-driving vehicles. But he said he was disappointed.

“None of us walked away from the training with any way to get a stalled car to move,” he said, adding that manually taking over the car takes 10 minutes, which is too long in an emergency.

His main takeaway was that he should bang on the car’s window or tap on its door so he could talk to the vehicle’s remote operator, he said. The operator would then try to remotely re-engage the vehicle or send someone to manually override it, he said.

Waymo said it had rolled out a software update to its cars in October that would let firefighters and other authorities take control of the vehicles within seconds….

(15) RAW FOOTAGE. “Disneyland Park Guest Arrested After Stripping Off Clothes On ‘It’s A Small World’ Ride”Deadline tells what happened.

Disneyland park guest in Anaheim, California was arrested and escorted off the property by local authorities after stripping off their clothes during the It’s A Small World attraction.

The incident happened on Sunday afternoon during the busy Thanksgiving holiday weekend. A Disneyland Resort representative told Deadline that the guest got off the ride while it was in motion and the attraction was stopped when park operators were made aware of the situation.

… “It’s a Small World” was shut down for about an hour as park operators inspected the attraction. No guests were harmed physically during the incident and the ride resumed operations at about 3 p.m. local time….

Here’s one of the videos taken of the incident: “This Family Survived the #Disneyland Its a small world #streaker#”.

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

Pixel Scroll 11/19/23 When Your Phone’s On Fire, Pixels Get In Your Eyes

(1) JOANNE HARRIS Q&A. The Guardian hears from the author of Chocolat: “Joanne Harris: ‘When I first read Ulysses I hated it with a passion’”.

The book that made me want to be a writer
I don’t remember a time when I didn’t dream of being a writer. But I lived in a place where dreaming was generally discouraged. Being a writer was a fantasy, on a par with being a pirate, or a pony, or a space adventurer. The moment at which I realised that people could actually be writers was when I read the introduction to Ray Bradbury’s S Is for Space, and found him articulating things I’d assumed I was alone in feeling. The idea that the writers you love could become your chosen family was so potent that I carried it throughout my childhood and adolescence. I still do.

(2) ARE YOU LOOKING AT YOUR CARDS? In his opinion piece writer David Mack tells New York Times readers “You Don’t Want to Know How Much You Are Spending on Subscriptions”.

In recent years, much of my life as a consumer has shifted to what I like to call background spending. As I’ve subscribed to more apps and streaming platforms, significant sums of my money tend to drift away each month without my ever thinking about it. It’s as if it were a tax being taken out of my paycheck, but one that is spent on something silly or indulgent like a subscription box of international snacks, instead of — I don’t know — basic public infrastructure.

Think of it as automated capitalism. Spending without the hassle of spending. Acquisition without action. Or thought.

But while this swell of subscriptions was sold to me on the premise it would make my life more hassle-free, there was a certain sticker shock I felt upon actually discovering how much I’m spending without realizing each month ($179.45) — after I’ve already spent it, of course.

I can’t help feeling I’m being conned just a little. I admit I had forgotten I was paying monthly for the privilege of Apple TV+ after being hooked by the first season of “Ted Lasso,” before quickly falling off the bandwagon. When I reopened the app for the first time in eons, I was confronted with dozens of shows I’ve never heard of but to whose production budgets I’ve been contributing generously.

You see, the thing about background spending is it tends to happen, well, in the background without your full attention. And therein lies the point.

“Hand over your credit card details and let us take care of the rest,” these companies assure us. But by agreeing to this trade, we’ve become passive consumers who are allowing the balance of capitalism to tilt away from us. We have ceded one of our key powers as individuals: our agency.

And this laziness breeds more laziness because most of us can’t be bothered conducting regular reviews of our subscription spending. Indeed, economists estimate that buyers forgetting to cancel subscriptions can increase a business’s revenues by as much as 200 percent. It’s no wonder these companies feel that they can jack up the prices. We’re too lazy or busy to even notice or cancel!

I know it’s not just me who is suddenly living life as a smooth-brained subscriber. The average consumer spends $273 per month on subscriptions, according to a 2021 poll of 2,500 by digital services firm West Monroe, which found this spending was up 15 percent from 2018. Not a single person polled knew what his actual monthly spending was….

(3) TAKE TWO. “How William Hartnell’s Second Season Changed Doctor Who for the Better” explains CBR.com.

…After Season 1 of Doctor Who saw the TARDIS crew encounter cavemen, the Aztecs and Revolutionary France, the second season saw the series push the boundaries of the TARDIS’ trips to the past. The two final serials of Doctor Who Season 2 featured the first instances of extraterrestrial enemies from the future appearing in historical settings. In the first of these serials, “The Chase,” the trip to the past was only a fleeting moment in a wider story. However, “The Time Meddler” saw the Doctor contending with another time traveler for an entire story set in the past.

“The Chase” marked the final appearance of Ian Chesterton and Barbara Wright as the Doctor’s companions. Following Susan Foreman’s earlier departure, this meant “The Chase” was the final regular appearance of any of the Doctor’s original companions. The story also saw the return of the Daleks to Doctor Who for their third outing and their first journey through time. “The Chase” saw the Daleks using their own time machine to pursue the TARDIS. The third episode of the serial, “Flight Through Eternity,” saw the Daleks arrive on an old ship, terrifying the sailors they encountered into jumping overboard. It was then revealed that the ship was the legendary Mary Celeste, with the Daleks’ arrival effectively explaining the mysterious disappearance of the crew.

(4) CALLBACKS. Radio Times revisits its roundups of the actors who played the time lord: “Doctor Who at 60: All the times the Doctors assembled for Radio Times”.

The Five Doctors in 1983 was a joyful celebration of two decades of Doctor Who – but also an odd one. William Hartnell had died in 1975, so the “original” Doctor was recast as Richard Hurndall, who bore only a passing resemblance to Hartnell. Although other past Doctors Patrick Troughton and Jon Pertwee readily signed up to star alongside current star Peter Davison, the fourth incarnation Tom Baker declined to appear. Instead, he allowed clips from his unfinished 1979/80 story Shada to be used, while for a publicity shoot his Madame Tussauds waxwork was pressed into service….

(5) AS TIME GOES BY. Kabir Chibber asks “Did ‘Demolition Man’ Predict the Millennial?” in the New York Times.

Now that we live in the future, we no longer seem to make as many films about the future — at least not the way we once did, when we tried our hardest to imagine a future as different from the present as we were from ancient history. Today, with all of human knowledge in our pockets, we prefer to think in terms of alternate timelines, paths not taken, the multiverse of infinite possibilities. We’re looking sideways, not forward. But for most of the existence of cinema, a glorious near-centennial from “Metropolis” (1927) to, let’s say, “WALL-E” (2008), people used celluloid to dream of what lay ahead….

…the one that I think got it most right is a 1993 action-comedy whose hallmark is a tremendous recurring poop joke.

In “Demolition Man,” a cop named John Spartan (played by Sylvester Stallone) is frozen in 1996, for spurious reasons, and thawed out in the year 2032, when Southern California has been merged into an enormous metroplex called San Angeles. He’s tasked with hunting down a homicidal maniac, played by a blond, mugging Wesley Snipes. The joke is that in this future, everyone is kind and gentle to one another. Lenina Huxley, Spartan’s ’90s-loving partner, explains that alcohol, caffeine, contact sports, meat, bad language and gasoline, among other things, are banned. “It has been deemed that anything not good for you is bad,” goes the tao of “Demolition Man.” “Hence, illegal.”

The movie’s pleasure doesn’t lie in its plentiful violence (well, some of it does). It’s in the humor that arises from these future San Angeleans’ disgust over Spartan’s primitive ways, like his desire to use guns and to smoke and to have sex “the old-fashioned way,” rather than through a virtual-reality headset. They mock him over the fact that he asks for toilet paper. (Everyone now uses something called the Three Seashells, which is never explained.) Spartan is baffled by new technology like the omnipresent Alexa-like morality boxes that issue instant fines for offensive language, and kiosks that offer words of affirmation on the streets (“You are an incredibly sensitive man who inspires joy-joy feelings in all those around you”). Stallone’s cop has been subliminally rehabilitated while frozen and wakes up knowing how to knit. “I’m a seamstress?” he laments.

What separates “Demolition Man” from other sci-fi films of much higher aspiration is that it imagined a future generation who might view our civilization, at the peak of its powers, as utterly barbaric. We’re not quite there, but it feels as if the world that the younger generations loathe is the one I was raised in. And in the process, this has turned the film, at least for me, into an explosive, sometimes vituperative allegory for aging. As Spartan finds out, it hurts to wake up one day and find that the world has moved on without you.

Some days I feel like I’ve woken up from cryosleep, and am looking around to discover that I’m the only one who misses our previous era of casual cynicism and dubious morality and brilliant jerks. Back in the ’90s, I sat in the cinema and watched this film like thousands of other people, never imagining that I might one day feel like Spartan. I am living in the future, and I don’t belong. Everyone else has moved on. I’m still wiping myself with toilet paper instead of the Three Seashells….

(6) EATING THE FANTASTIC. Scott Edelman invites listeners to polish off a Peruvian lunch with Alex Shvartsman in Episode 212 of the Eating the Fantastic podcast.

Alex Shvartsman

My guest this time around is Capclave regular Alex Shvartsman, with whom I’ve pontificated on many panels over the years.

Shvartsman is the author of the new fantasy novel Kakistocracy, as well as The Middling Affliction (2022), and Eridani’s Crown (2019). More than 120 of his short stories have appeared in AnalogNatureStrange HorizonsFiresideWeird TalesGalaxy’s Edge, and many other venues. He won the WSFA Small Press Award for Short Fiction in 2014 and was a three-time finalist for the Canopus Award for Excellence in Interstellar Fiction. His translations from Russian have appeared in The Magazine of Fantasy & Science FictionClarkesworldTor.comAsimov’sAnalogStrange Horizons, and elsewhere.

He’s also the editor of the Unidentified Funny Objects series of humorous SF/F, as well as a variety of other anthologies, including The Cackle of CthulhuHumanity 2.0, and Funny Science Fiction. For five years he edited Future Science Fiction Digest, a magazine that focused on international fiction. And on top of all that, he’s one of the greatest Magic: The Gathering players ever, ranking way up there in tournaments from 1998-2004, something I hadn’t known about him even though I’ve known him for years.

We discussed how intimations of mortality got him to start writing fiction, what he learned as a pro player of Magic: the Gathering which affected his storytelling, why he set aside his initial urge to write novels in favor of short stories, which U.S. science fiction writers are more famous in Russia than their home country, the reason his success as a writer and editor of humor came as a surprise, why he feels it’s important to read cover letters, the secret to writing successful flash fiction, his “lighthouse” method of plotting, and much more.

(7) THE INVENTORY WILL BE FLYING OFF THE SHELVES. In “Brian Keene: ‘Let’s Open A Bookstore!’”, Keene tells readers of Chuck Wendig’s Terrible Minds blog why he and Mary SanGiovanni are doing so.

….But the idea of that second revenue stream still haunts me, and it haunts Mary, as well. In the years since that sobering conversation in the kitchen, when Doug Winter scared the hell out of us, she and I have gotten married. We make an okay living together — as good of a living as two midlist horror writers whose core audience is beginning to age out can make. But we are fifty-six and forty (clears throat) and most of our readers are that age, as well. Over the next two decades, that audience will continue to dwindle. We are painfully aware that those royalties will lessen over time, and that we could very well go the way of the giants.

So, we decided to do something about it. Mary wasn’t inclined to become a forest ranger or a tugboat captain, so we opted for a different second revenue stream instead — one that is connected to writing, but doesn’t involve writing. One that, when managed properly and professionally, can supplement those royalties and advances. One that will allow us to give back to our community and our peers, both locally and nationally, and keep those forgotten giants in the collective memory a while longer, as well as elevating today’s new voices, so that they will one day be giants, too.

We’re opening an independent bookstore….

(8) FUGUES FOR DROOGS. “Newly discovered string quartet by Clockwork Orange author Anthony Burgess to have premiere” reports The Guardian.

He is best-known as the author of A Clockwork Orange, his 1962 savage social satire, but Anthony Burgess saw himself primarily as a thwarted musician. Although self-taught, he was a prolific composer, and now a previously unknown piece for a string quartet is to receive its world premiere following its discovery.

The score was unearthed in the archive of the International Anthony Burgess Foundation, an educational charity in Manchester, his home city, where it had been overlooked among uncatalogued papers donated by his widow, the late Liana Burgess.

Professor Andrew Biswell, Burgess’s biographer and director of the Foundation, told the Observer: “Nobody’s heard it before. We’ve got some very good musicians from the Hallé Orchestra who are going to perform it. Thirty years after his death, Burgess is finally coming into focus as a musician.” The world premiere takes place at the Burgess Foundation on 1 December….

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born November 19, 1911 Mary Elizabeth Counselman.  Writer of genre short stories and poetry. “The Three Marked Pennies” which she wrote while she was in her teens published in Weird Tales in 1934 is considered one of the three most popular stories in all of that zine’s history. There’s but a smattering of her at the usual suspects but she did get published— Masters of Horrors, Vol. Three, Mary Elizabeth Counselman: Hostess of Horror and Fantasy collects seventeen of her short stories and it’s readily available, and The Face of Fear and Other Poems collected much of her poetry.  It was published by Eidolon Press in an edition of 325 copies, so good luck on finding a copy. (Died 1995.)
  • Born November 19, 1936 Suzette Haden Elgin. She founded the Science Fiction Poetry Association and is considered an important figure in the field of SFF constructed languages. Both her Coyote Jones and Ozark Trilogy are most excellent. Wiki lists songs by her that seem to indicate she might’ve been a filker as well. Mike, of course, has a post on her passing and life. (Died 2015.)
  • Born November 19, 1943 Allan Cole.  Author and television writer, who wrote or co-wrote nearly thirty books. As a script writer, he wrote for a lot of non-genre series and a few genre series, The Incredible Hulk and Buck Rogers in the 25th Century, which are of course familiar, and two, Dinosaucers, an animated series, and Werewolf, a horror series, that I’d never heard of at all. Genre wise, he and Chris Bunch wrote the Anteros / Far Kingdoms series, and they also wrote the Sten Adventures which was a critique, according to Bunch, of SF writers who were fascinated with monarchies and their fascist rulers. (Died 2019.)
  • Born November 19, 1955 Sam Hamm, 68. He’s best known for the original screenplay (note the emphasis) with Warren Skaaren for Burton’s Batman and a story for Batman Returns that was very much not used. However because of that, he was invited to write a story in Detective Comics for Batman’s 50th anniversary and thus, he wrote “Batman: Blind Justice”. He also wrote the script for Monkeybone. Sources, without any attribution, say he also wrote unused drafts for the Fantastic FourPlanet of the Apes and Watchmen films. And he co-wrote and executive produced the M.A.N.T.I.S. series with Sam Raimi. 
  • Born November 19, 1958 Charles Stuart Kaufman, 65. He wrote Being John Malkovich and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, both definitely genre. The former was nominated for a Hugo at Chicon 2000, the year Galaxy Quest won. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind was also a Hugo nominee, losing to The Incredibles at Interaction. 
  • Born November 19, 1975 Alex Shvartsman, 48. Author of the delightfully pulpy H. G. Wells: Secret Agent series. A very proficient short story writer, many of which are collected in Explaining Cthulhu to Grandma and Other Stories and The Golem of Deneb Seven and Other Stories.

(10) FOR THE MORE LITERAL-MINDED. The anniversary of Doctor Who inspired BBC Future to ask “Is time travel really possible? Here’s what physics says”.

Doctor Who is arguably one of the most famous stories about time travel. Alongside The Time Machine and Back to the Future, it has explored the temptations and paradoxes of visiting the past and voyaging into the future.

In the TV show, the Doctor travels through time in the Tardis: an advanced craft that can go anywhere in time and space. Famously, the Tardis defies our understanding of physical space: it’s bigger on the inside than it appears on the outside.

While time travel is fundamental to Doctor Who, the show never tries to ground the Tardis’ abilities in anything resembling real-world physics. It would be odd to complain about this: Doctor Who has a fairy-tale quality and doesn’t aspire to be realistic science fiction.

But what about in the real world? Could we ever build a time machine and travel into the distant past, or forward to see our great-great-great-grandchildren? Answering this question requires understanding how time actually works – something physicists are far from certain about….

(11) A SHOE-IN. “Reebok Releases Line of Harry Potter Shoes for Fans of the Wizarding World”CBR.com has details. (And honestly, the idea of these designs is more interesting than the execution.)

… The Harry Potter sneaker collection includes four colorway variants of the Reebok Club C 85 ($110), which comes with interchangeable laces and embroidered crest patches of the four Hogwarts houses. The message “It’s not Hogwarts without you, Hagrid” is also inscribed inside the tongue of the shoe as an homage to the character and a tribute to its actor Robbie Coltrane, who passed away in 2022. This variant is expected to be well-received among die-hard Harry Potter fans, who now have official footwear to represent the Hufflepuff, Ravenclaw, Slytherin, or Gryffindor house….

… The Reebok Instapump Fury 95 ($250) is inspired by “He Who Must Not Be Named,” with its prominent black suede accented by the Death Eaters’ Dark Mark. The sleek design also has snake and scale details homaging the Slytherin house. For more casual Harry Potter fans, the Reebok Classic Leather ($100) offers a staple sneaker with details referencing the Deathly Hallows — an “Invisibility Cloak” textile lining the shoe’s tongue, a Resurrection Stone metal lace lock, and lace tips designed after the Elder Wand. Finally, the Classic Leather Hexalite ($120) evokes the Patronus spell with its silvery blue gradient fade, glow-in-the-dark and reflective details, and Patronus animals featured on the tongue label….

The Reebok Instapump Fury 95

(12) PREMEMBER THOR FIVE. [Item by Daniel Dern.] Yet more news/speculations about Marvel Thor movie #5.

Obviously, this is all speculation, guesswork, and subject to change. I’ve submitted this item mostly for the item title.

(13) UNTANGLED. Sony/Marvel’s Madame Web opens in theaters on February 24.

“Meanwhile, in another universe…” In a switch from the typical genre, Madame Web tells the standalone origin story of one of Marvel publishing’s most enigmatic heroines. The suspense-driven thriller stars Dakota Johnson as Cassandra Webb, a paramedic in Manhattan who may have clairvoyant abilities. Forced to confront revelations about her past, she forges a relationship with three young women destined for powerful futures…if they can all survive a deadly present.

(14) VIDEO OF THE DAY. Saturday Night Live’s “Old-Timey Movies” sketch shows found footage of L. Frank Baum writing while being constantly photobombed (or whatever the right word would be).

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

Pixel Scroll 11/11/23 Thanks To His Repellatron Skyway, Tom Swift Always Takes The High Road

(1) BESTSELLING WRITERS WILL OPEN BOOKSTORE. [Item by Anne Marble.] Brian Keene and Mary SanGiovanni are opening an indie bookstore in the historic district of Columbia, Pennsylvania. They’re planning to open it in the spring of 2024. They were inspired by indie bookstores such as Mysterious Galaxy, Dark Delicacies, etc.

Brian Keene and Mary SanGiovanni

Here’s their announcement: “New Brick and Mortar Bookstore”.

At the respective ages of fifty-six and forty (mumbles incoherently), Mary and I are planning for our golden years. We have seen too many of our peers struggling to write in their later years, and dependent upon those advances and royalties from book sales. It’s a sobering and frightening prospect, and we’d like a different future, with a second revenue stream so that we can continue to write in our old age….

…We are opening an independent bookstore specializing in Horror, Science-Fiction, Fantasy, Bizarro, and other speculative fiction genres.

Vortex Books & Comics will open Spring of 2024 in the historic district of beautiful Columbia, Pennsylvania — easily and quickly accessible from Baltimore, Philadelphia, Harrisburg, New York City, Washington D.C. and more. We’ll carry a full complement of books from the Big Five, as well as hundreds of books from many cool indie publishers and small presses, and titles in Espanol and other languages. We’ll host weekly signings, readings, workshops, and other events. We know this business, and are intimately familiar with its ups and downs, ebbs and flows. Our goal is to make the store a destination. As our record for the last 30 years shows, we believe that Horror fiction is for everyone, and Vortex will echo that. All are welcome, and all will have a place on our shelves….

And for everyone in the community who wants to help, there’s a GoFundMe: “Brian Keene and Mary SanGiovanni’s Bookstore”.

…If you would like to show your solidarity and support with a donation, it will be put toward further set-up costs such as fixtures, security, inventory, marketing and advertising, signage, etc. thus giving us a bit of breathing room and time to make the store profitable….

(2) AI IN TIMES TO COME. [Item by Cliff.] Very interesting take on ‘AI’ from a number of authors. Two of them reference Italo Calvino, who I guess was ahead of his time in dwelling on this subject.“’It is a beast that needs to be tamed’: leading novelists on how AI could rewrite the future” in the Guardian.

Bernardine Evaristo

… Imagine a future where those who are most adept at getting AI to write creatively will dominate, while we writers who spend a lifetime devoted to our craft are sidelined. OK, this is a worst‑case scenario, but we have to consider it, because ChatGPT and the other Large Language Models (LLMs) out there have been programmed to imagine a future that threatens many creative professions. ChatGPT is already responding to the questions I ask it in seconds, quite reliably. It is an impressive beast, but one that needs to be tamed. We cannot afford to ignore it…

(3) CUT! The Hugo Book Club Blog argues against ratification of two new Hugo categories which received first passage at the Chengdu Worldcon business meeting: “Hugo Book Club Blog: Indie Cinema And The Hugo Of Doom”.

At the 2023 WSFS Business Meeting, a constitutional amendment was passed that would (if ratified at the 2024 Business Meeting) add two new categories to the already long list of Hugo Awards: Best Independent Short Film and Best Independent Feature Film.

The beauty and diversity of global cinema and of independent film is something that should be more celebrated at the Hugo Awards. But despite our love of independent SFF cinema, we are firmly opposed to the creation of a secondary award for a specific type of movie.

… In recent years, sub-par corporate works such as The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey and Avengers Endgame have received Hugo nods ahead of significantly better independent and foreign movies such as Robot & Frank and Prospect. That does point to problems with the category. But the solution is advocacy. People who care about independent cinema should be working to encourage Hugo voters to check out a wider variety of films, and then giving them the time to watch those movies by WSFS extension of eligibility under rule 3.4.3.

Over the past four years, we have filed extension of eligibility motions (allowing a longer time for Hugo voters to consider nominating) on lower-budget SFF movies like After YangStrawberry MansionNeptune FrostMad GodNine DaysBeyond The Infinite Two MinutesPsycho GoremanThe Color Out Of Space, and Prospect. We are passionate about celebrating and promoting independent SFF movies. However, we do not think that the best way to recognize that is with the creation of new Hugo Award categories, seemingly based on how much money a film makes.

There are a number of problems with the idea of a Hugo Award for independent cinema. The first and most significant to us is that creating these categories positions independent cinema as something other than “real” movies…

(4) CHENGDU WORLDCON ROUNDUP. [Item by Ersatz Culture.]

Southern Weekly article

This is a long piece – which can also be found in truncated form here, and partially behind a login barrier here – covering a number of aspects of the convention.  There are some factual errors – for example, stating that the first Worldcon took place in Chicago – but overall it is the most thorough coverage of the con that I’ve seen from a media outlet.

Following are several extracts, via Google Translate with manual edits to the text for style and grammar.  I have reordered and grouped chunks of the text, in order to put related material together.  Note: 南方周末 literally translates as “Southern Weekend”, but images on that page show that they use the English name “Southern Weekly”, so I’ve tried to update all references from the former to the latter.

On the location and date of the con:

The Chengdu Science Fiction Museum, the main venue of the 81st World Science Fiction Convention, is located in the center of a two-kilometer radius area called “Science Fiction Avenue”. When Chengdu’s bid to host the event was successful two years ago, it was still a wilderness. This plot of land in Pidu District, Chengdu, which was originally planned as a “Science and Technology Museum”, was quickly upgraded to become a “Science Fiction Museum”…

It’s already chilly in Chengdu in late October, and the summer vacation period for students is long past. When Chengdu applied to host the World Science Fiction Convention in 2021, many student science fiction fans spent money – around 600 yuan [$80 USD] – to register as members of DisCon III, in order to vote for Chengdu [in site selection], with the expectation that they would attend the science fiction event during their summer vacation…

Co-chair Chen Shi comments:

[Note: He also uses the English name Raistlin Chen – as seen on the video wall at the ceremonies – but most English language material, such as the staff page on the con’s site, uses Chen Shi, so I’ve kept with that.

Pretty much all coverage of the con describes him – and the other members of the concom – as members of the “Chengdu Science Fiction Society” (examples: 12), but an archived copy of the original “Worldcon in China” website shows that he is/was a marketing director at the Chengdu Business Daily news organization, and that several other members of the bid/con team are/were also employees of that company.  Whether people will feel that this context is relevant, YMMV…]

“Its charm is that it is a spirit based on a community of creators. Everyone is both a participant and a creator. This is something given to it by cultural tradition and cannot be replaced or copied casually,” convention co-chair Chen Shi told Southern Weekly reporters…

Chen Shi had also applied for a panel at Chi-Con 8. “I just filled in a form, and the organizing committee told me when and where it would take place. You can just do it yourself, and they won’t bother you,” Chen Shi said.  “Given China’s cultural background, this may not be suitable.”

“The foreign World Science Fiction Convention is very attractive to the fantasy fandom, but within the fandom, their core membership is around 20,000 people. The number of people who come every year does not change much, and it has formed its own community culture. There is a cultural threshold you have to pass in order to enter that community. If we were to completely copy that, it might be very miserable…” When Chen Shi first thought about what kind of World Science Fiction Convention he would hold, he had already decided to take a different path.

[Question: when Chen Shi and/or the Chengdu team were doing presentations at other events, was there any indication that “he had already decided to take a different path”, or what that path might be?]

On the exhibition areas and panels:

The two large halls on the first floor are the divided into the commercial exhibitors, and the science fiction fan tables. Most of the dozens of booths in the corporate exhibition hall are Chinese companies. Some sell science fiction cultural creations, some make projections, and more are engaged in science fiction publishing. The sound and light effects of their booths are eye-catching, which clearly differs from the adjacent fan exhibition area. The corporate exhibition hall is something that has never been seen in previous Worldcons. The support of the government, the participation of enterprises, and the brand promotion of a large number of sponsors have given the event more forms and commercial value.

Compared with the coolness of the corporate exhibition area, the science fiction fan exhibition area looks much simpler.  A table, a flag, an introduction card or a QR code. They come from university clubs, foreign science fiction organizations, and unknown amateur authors… It’s a bit like a recruitment fair for university clubs. On the table of the Tibetan science fiction club, there are Tibetan science fiction works that have been published over the years. A young Tibetan man patiently introduces the history of Tibetan science fiction to curious onlookers. This kind of atmosphere is more like the previous World Science Fiction Conventions. Science fiction literature research scholar Arthur Liu attended the 2019 Dublin Worldcon, and recalls that the atmosphere there was “free and easy”…

There were more than 400 panels registered for the Chengdu World Science Fiction Convention, and more than 230 panels were eventually held…  This time, the Chengdu Organizing Committee invited a total of more than 600 guests, including more than 180 overseas guests – of whom more than 150 people were present at the con – who formed the bulk of the panellists.

On the WSFS Business Meeting:

But old science fiction fans all know that “only by attending business meetings can you have a deep understanding of the organization and participation methods of the World Science Fiction Association and the World Science Fiction Convention, and you will feel some interesting things,” Chen Shi said.

If you have personally experienced the process and debate of the business meeting, it is not difficult to understand why the fandom circle calls this meeting the “Constitutional Amendment Conference.” The business meetings of the Chengdu Worldcon are held in the Meteor Hall of the Science Fiction Hall, which is a small hall independent of the main building. People with [a WSFS] membership can enter to listen, express opinions and vote at any time. …

Comment: regarding “a small hall independent of the main building”, comments I have seen from a couple of different people indicated that it had inaccessibility issues not that far from “Beware of the Leopard” levels.  Certainly, I could never find any reference to the “Meteor Hall” on any of the several interior and exterior maps of the con that came into my possession.  (Anyone who did attend the Business Meetings, please correct me if my impression is incorrect.)

On organizational hassles for smaller entities:

It is not easy for publishers participating in the exhibition to sign and sell their books at this venue.

Xixi (pseudonym) is an editor at a publishing house. This time he brought an author’s science fiction novel to Chengdu and planned a panel. He hoped that science fiction fans could have a good chat with the author themselves, and hold a book signing.  Xixi initially communicated the entire process to the organizing committee, but a few days before the opening, he received a notice that the panel could not be placed together with the signing session. “In normal book fairs, there are book signings after the interaction between authors and readers, but here the two events must be separated in both time and location,” Xixi said. This means that readers who are interested in the author would have to make two trips to get a signed copy.

On the corporate/commercial aspects of the con:

There are various panels, forums, and summits at the World Science Fiction Convention, but in addition to the opening and closing ceremonies and the Hugo Award presentation night, there was also an “Industrial Development Summit”. Almost all the major guests were invited to attend this summit, and the lineup was comparable to the Hugo Awards night.

This was the first time an industry development-related conference has been held at the World Science Fiction Convention. At the meeting, a number of plans related to the development of the science fiction industry were announced, including the “Chengdu Consensus on the Science Fiction Industry”, the Tianwen Program, the “2023 China Chengdu Science Fiction Industry Report”, and there was even a centralized signing ceremony for science fiction industry projects. According to reports, there were 21 signed projects, with a total investment of 8 billion yuan [approx $1 billion USD].

At this “Industrial Development Summit”, Liu Cixin no longer talked about literature, but talked about industrial development: “Chengdu has long planned the layout of the science fiction industry, and related industrial plans, industrial policies, talent policies, etc. have been implemented.”

“Science fiction full industry chain ecosystem”, “IP creation” and “strengthening the image of the science fiction city”: faced with these various new words, Canadian science fiction writer Robert Sawyer said, “I am very shocked to see you turning science fiction into an industry.”  He said that in North America those who do these things may be publishers, and that science fiction is a career that is random, aimless, and without long-term planning. These industry figures were generally not invited to previous World Science Fiction Conventions, and most of the people who came were writers and editors.

The area where the Chengdu Science Fiction Museum is located will also be turned into the science fiction hub of Chengdu.  According to a person close to the local government, we were told that a science fiction industrial park may be built here in the future. “That street is a science fiction themed block, and science fiction companies may move in in the future. This area is said to be a science fiction education base; there will be training camps for science fiction writers, and summer camps for students every year, and the science fiction museum itself is a large-scale consumer and public welfare space. This area will be built into a science fiction themed tourist destination.” …

On how the more traditional aspects of Worldcons fared:

Previous conventions would set up a memorial area, which is a place for middle-aged and elderly science fiction fans to reminisce and reminisce about the past.  In 2017, the British science fiction writer Brian Aldiss [who had previously visited Chengdu, and has several works published in China] passed away. There was a small space at the World Science Fiction Convention that year, displaying his works, and photos from his life, as well as some of his treasure possessions, and a black and white TV playing back interviews with him. In 2023, Aldiss’ daughter Wendy had also come to Chengdu. She told our reporters that the Chengdu Worldcon was originally going to hold an exhibition for those photos, but it was not possible “because of a lack of space.” …

[Double Hugo finalist, CEO of the publisher 8 Light Minutes, and member of the Chengdu concom] Yang Feng originally planned to stage a commemorative exhibition at the convention, in honour of Mike Resnick, the former editor-in-chief of the American science fiction magazine “Galaxy’s Edge”.  After Resnick’s death in 2020, his collection and books were put up for online auction, and 8 Light Minutes bought a large number of items. “Look, this is full of his things,” said Yang Feng, pointing to a glass cabinet.  Initially, the organizers promised an exhibition area of 70 square meters. Worried about missing out, “thousands of yuan [was spent] on freight shipping” the collected items.  However, the exhibition area ended up being occupied by several technology companies, and Yang Feng was only given a glass cabinet.

Fans and authors talk about the changes and clashes in culture at this Worldcon:

In the midst of this sea of noise, a man was dozing on a chair. He had white hair, a cowboy hat on the table, and his eyes were lowered, as if he had entered another world. His name was James Joseph [Styles], and he had come from Australia. He is in his seventies and has been a science fiction fan for nearly fifty years. In 1975, the World Science Fiction Convention was held in Oceania for the first time. He was moved by the atmosphere of science fiction and has attended Worldcons 15 times to date.

James told us that this convention is the most special one he has ever been to. He had never seen so many enthusiastic and young science fiction fans [when he attended cons] in Europe or the United States before…

… Wang Jinkang, another science fiction writer who has stopped writing, also recalled the low ebb of Chinese science fiction in the 1990s. “At that time, Chinese science fiction was wild, and received little attention from society. However, there were also many science fiction fans. When we went to universities to participate in activities, they all I used chalk to write ‘Welcome Mr. Wang Jinkang’ on the blackboard, and that’s how we started to communicate. The simplicity back then had its charm, and I still miss it very much. It is indeed different now.”

“You can vaguely feel a conflict between [different] science fiction cultures in the convention venue,” Zero Gravity News co-editor Ling Shizhen told Southern Weekly reporters, “but I don’t think this is really a conflict. Whether things are harmful or meaningless, this is a necessary process.  If you want to embrace a truly diverse world, this step cannot be escaped.”

Outside of the above extracts, a number of people familiar to Filers, such as Ben Yalow, Kevin Standlee, Donald Eastlake, and Nicholas Whyte are namechecked or interviewed.

(5) HUNGARIAN POLITICAL EFFORTS TO LIMIT LGBTQ BOOKS AND MEDIA. The New York Times tells how “Restrictions on L.G.B.T.Q. Depictions Rattle Hungary’s Cultural World”.

When a far-right member of Hungary’s Parliament invited the media three years ago to watch her shred a book of fairy tales that included a gay Cinderella, only one reporter showed up.

But what began as lonely, crank campaign against “homosexual propaganda” by a fringe nationalist legislator, Dora Duro, has snowballed into a national movement led by the government to restrict depictions of gay and transgender people in Hungary.

The campaign has unsettled booksellers, who have been ordered to shrink-wrap works that “popularize homosexuality” to prevent young readers from browsing, and also rattled one of Hungary’s premier cultural institutions.

The director of the Hungarian National Museum was fired this past week for hosting an exhibition of news photographs, a few of which featured men in women’s clothing, and for suggesting that his staff had no legal right to check whether visitors were at least 18 years old.

The exhibition displayed scores of photos awarded prizes by the World Press Photo Foundation in Amsterdam and had been running for weeks before Ms. Duro went to take a look with a friend and noticed a handful of images showing older gay men in the Philippines that were shot on assignment for The New York Times.

Also upset by explanatory texts that she believed were “indoctrinating” young visitors, she wrote a letter to Hungary’s culture minister, Janos Csak, complaining that photos of men wearing high heels and lipstick violated a Hungarian law that bans the display to minors of content deemed to promote homosexuality or gender fluidity.

The minister ordered the museum to bar anyone under 18 from attending the exhibition.

Tamas Revesz, a Hungarian photographer who has organized the annual show for more than 30 years, said he was aghast to arrive at the museum to find signs at the entrance restricting entry to adults “as if this place were a porn shop.”…

… Hannah Reyes Morales, who took the photographs at the center of the museum furor while on assignment for The New York Times and won a World Press Photo award, said her pictures of a Manila community called Golden Gays “are not dangerous or harmful” but portrayed “warm, kind and loving human beings.”

She said she was “saddened that their story is being kept in a shadow, echoing much of the oppression that the Golden Gays have had to live through over the years.”…

(6) DON’T SAY GAY-LICK. [Item by Anne Marble.] Have you seen this article about the use and abuse of Scottish Gaelic in Fourth Wing? (The article also mentions Holly Black and Sarah J. Maas.) It’s an interesting point — language is more political than people realize. At the same time, with all those Gaelic fantasies out there, I also wonder how many other authors got it wrong and weren’t called out in it. Hmm… “Reader Frustrated Over ‘Fourth Wing’s Gaelic” at The Mary Sue.

Over the summer, Scottish BookToker Muireann went viral on Tiktok for sharing the Scottish Gaelic pronunciation of words from the bestselling adult fantasy novel Fourth Wing by Rebecca Yarros. While she offered mild criticism of the book’s grammatical errors, Muireann spoke out again following a viral interview of Yarros at New York Comic-Con….

…Story-wise, Muireann expressed praise and excitement to see where the series goes. However, regarding the use of Scottish Gaelic, she had mixed feelings. Without spoiling anything, Muireann gave translations and best guesses on non-Gaelic words that looked to be fused with Gaelic ones. It was here she found missing accent marks and misspellings. Also, she found words in the book that, in Gaelic, would be two or three words instead of one. Many commenters appreciated the information and pointed to how different the audiobook was from actual Gaelic.

Muireann said it was cool for the language to be represented in such a popular book. She feels that other Celtic languages like Irish/Gaeilge (what Scots call Irish Gaelic) are more common in contemporary fantasy. Still, she put the onus on the publisher for not hiring a language consultant. That grace dropped off when Muireann heard Yarros speaking about the book.

“It is genuinely laughable to me that American fantasy authors can get away with this. They can use minority languages in such a disrespectful way. They’re just pronouncing them like English speakers. She’s just sprinkling Gaelic words in there to add a bit of spice to her fancy book.”

Veronica Valencia interviewed Rebecca Yarros for Popverse at NYCC 2023, where she asked Yarros to “set the record straight” on pronouncing words. After Popverse shared a video of this to TikTok, Muireann stitched it frustrated. She began by pointing out that Yarros said Gaelic by pronouncing it “gay-lick” which is a different language than the Scottish Gaelic (“gal-lick”). Muireann said most Gaelic words used were mispronounced in the interview. These were small mistakes that showed a genuine lack of care when bringing other cultures into the book…

(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born November 11, 1916 Donald Franson. Longtime fan who lived most of his life in LA. Was active in the N3F and LASFS including serving as the secretary for years and was a member of Neffer Amateur Press Alliance.  Author of A Key to the Terminology of Science-Fiction Fandom. Also wrote A History of the Hugo, Nebula, and International Fantasy Awards, Listing Nominees & Winners, 1951-1970 and An Author Index to Astounding/Analog: Part II—Vol. 36, #1, September, 1945 to Vol. 73 #3, May, 1964, the first with Howard DeVore. (Died 2002.)
  • Born November 11, 1917 Mack Reynolds. He’d make Birthday Honors just for his first novel, The Case of the Little Green Men, published in 1951, which as you likely know is a murder mystery set at a Con. He gets Serious Geek Credits for writing the first original authorized classic Trek novel Mission to Horatius. And I’ve enjoyed his short fiction as well. He’s available at the usual suspects including The Case of the Little Green Men for very reasonable prices. (Died 1983.)
  • Born November 11, 1922 Kurt Vonnegut Jr. The Sirens of Titan was his first SF novel followed by Cat’s Cradle which after turning down his original thesis in 1947, the University of Chicago awarded him his master’s degree in anthropology in 1971 for this novel. Next was Slaughterhouse-Five, or The Children’s Crusade: A Duty-Dance with Death which is one weird book and an even stranger film. It was nominated for best novel Nebula and Hugo Awards but lost both to Ursula K. Le Guin’s The Left Hand of Darkness. I’m fairly sure Breakfast of Champions, or Goodbye Blue Monday is his last genre novel there’s a lot of short fiction where something of a genre nature might have occurred. (Died 2007.)
  • Born November 11, 1946 Ian Miller, 77. Let’s have one illustrator and an editor this time.  He did the backgrounds for Ralph Bakshi’s Wizards film. Genre wise, he did the cover art and interior illustrations for David Day’s The Tolkien Bestiary, and what I think is one of the weirder covers for Something Wicked This Way Comes. Oh and I did say editor, didn’t I? Well he was. Between 1983 and 1985, he co-edited Interzone along with John Clute, Alan Dorey, Malcolm Edwards, Colin Greenland, Roz Kaveney, Simon Ounsley and David Pringle. 
  • Born November 11, 1947 Victoria Schochet, 76. Wife of Eric Van Lustbader. She co-edited with John Silbersack and Mellisa Singer the most excellent The Berkley Showcase: New Writings in Science Fiction and Fantasy that came out in the Eighties. She worked editorially at Analog as their managing editor and additionally at Harper, Putnam, and as a senior editor at the Berkley Publishing Group, where she co-edited with Silbersack all five volumes of The Berkley Showcase: New Writings in Science Fiction and Fantasy.
  • Born November 11, 1974 Felix Gilman, 49. Two series. The first, Arjun series, started off with the Thunderer novel and has one more novel so far, Gears of the City, earned him a nomination for Astounding Award in both 2009 and 2010. The other series, Half-Made World, is fantasy with a generous dollop of steampunk served warm.

(8) THE OTHER THREE-BODY ADAPTATION. “’3 Body Problem’ Premiere Date, New Trailer From Netflix”The Hollywood Reporter shares them all.

The new sci-fi drama from the creators of Game of Thrones now has a premiere date: 3 Body Problem will launch on Netflix on March 21, 2024. The streamer also released a video with some new footage from the series, which is adapted from Liu Cixin’s Hugo Award-winning trilogy….

…There’s also a new, more specific description of the anticipated show: “A young woman’s fateful decision in 1960s China reverberates across space and time into the present day. When the laws of nature inexplicably unravel before their eyes, a close-knit group of brilliant scientists join forces with an unflinching detective to confront the greatest threat in humanity’s history.”

3 Body Problem is from Emmy-winning Thrones showrunners David Benioff and Dan Weiss along with Emmy-nominated True Blood writer-producer Alexander Woo.

Netflix also released some teaser art to promote the premiere date, which rather cleverly incorporates an element from the story that the novel’s fans will recognize…

(9) NO ONE WAS LEFT HOLDING THE BAG. “Astronauts dropped a tool bag during a spacewalk, and you can see it” says Space.com.

Joining stars, planets, nebulas, and galaxies as a target for skywatchers is now a surprisingly bright tool bag floating through the space around Earth. The bag of tools gave NASA astronauts Jasmin Moghbeli and Loral O’Hara the slip on Nov. 2, 2023, as they were conducting a spacewalk outside of the International Space Station (ISS). 

The tool bag is now orbiting our planet just ahead of the ISS with a visual magnitude of around 6, according to EarthSky. That means it is slightly less bright than the ice giant Uranus, the seventh planet from the sun. As a result, the bag  —  officially known as a crew lock bag  —  is slightly too dim to be visible to the unaided eye, but skywatchers should be able to pick it up with binoculars.

To see it for yourself, first find out when you can find spot the space station over the next few months (NASA even has a new app to help you). The bag should be floating two to four minutes ahead of the station. As it descends rapidly, the bag is likely to disintegrate when it reaches an altitude of around 70 miles (113 kilometers) over Earth….

(10) GET A HEAD START ON SF2 CONCATENATION. [Item by Jonathan Cowie.] SF² Concatenation has published an advance post of an article ahead of its next seasonal edition as it is time sensitive. It is a longer version of the new British Library exhibition on Fantasy that File770 ran the other week. “British Library Fantasy Exhibition 2023”.

Also up is a short 1-page best of Nature ‘Futures’ short story: “’Aleph’ by Lavie Tidhar”. This story came out in 2022 before this year’s (2023) explosion in artificial intelligence (AI). But AI is not ‘General AI’. What would that first conversation be like?

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

Pixel Scroll 10/20/23 A Pixel Like That, You Don’t Scroll All At Once

(1) CHENGDU WORLDCON UPDATE. [Item by Ersatz Culture.]

What is the Tianwen Program/Award?

Right now, this is a bit of an enigma.  I stumbled across a link to this Chinese-language news article at the bottom of the article covered in the next item.  Here are some extracts via Google Translate (my emphases, I haven’t attempted to correct likely mistranslations):

Under the premise of the vigorous development of Chinese science fiction, in order to discover science fiction talents, support science fiction works, and promote the integrated development of the science fiction industry, the “Tianwen Project” jointly launched by the Chinese Writers Association and the World Science Fiction Conference Organizing Committee was officially “debuted” at the summit .

The plan includes a science fiction award “Tianwen Award” and N actions to promote the integrated development of China and even the global science fiction industry. The “Tianwen Award” is oriented to encourage emerging and young writers and has permanently settled in Chengdu. It has become a useful supplement to the “Hugo Award” of the World Science Fiction Conference. While awarding the award, it also holds various activities such as IP roadshows, theme exhibitions, and salon promotions. . At the same time, it will be displayed on the platform of the World Science Fiction Conference and hold exchange activities to promote the in-depth integration of Chinese science fiction into world science fiction.

“We very much appreciate Chengdu’s plan to establish the ‘Tianwen Prize’. It is not only for China, but also for the world.” In the view of Dave McCarty, a member of the Hugo Award selection committee, the “Tianwen Prize” will become China’s An important channel for science fiction to integrate into world science fiction, it has become a platform to promote in-depth exchanges between Chinese fantasy fans and world fantasy fans.

Given the highlighted bits, and with quotes from the current Hugo Administrator, and on a stage with “WSFS” at the bottom, it was hard to shake the impression that this award/project is in some way WSFS affiliated?  On re-reading, I suspect that’s actually a red herring, likely caused by a reporter not fully understanding all the different entities and relationships and/or machine mistranslation.  I presume “World Science Fiction Conference Organizing Committee” is a reference to the fact that three (I think) of the eight people on the stage for this announcement are on the Chengdu 2023 concom; four if you count Cixin Liu who was listed as part of the original bid team.

I tried searching on a few Chinese sites for 天问计划 (Tianwen Program) and 天问奖 (Tianwen Award), but found only one relevant result, a Weibo post.  The text appears to be much the same as the above linked article, but it does have a short, slightly strange, clip from the announcement.

My guess is that this is actually a domestic Chinese award, possibly with some extra stuff to help promote the finalists or winners internationally, perhaps similar to the Galaxy Awards 1 anthology that came out last year.

Media coverage of the “First Industry Development Promotion Conference”

Red Star News has an article on one of the handful of programme items deemed worthy of streaming to virtual attendees. The following extract via Google Translate (no manual cleanup edits):

Judging from the investment amount, the “Chinese Story·Science Fiction Situation Drama Incubation Base Project” with an investment amount of 2 billion will use the “program + park + base + academy” model to aggregate high-quality resources from the science fiction industry chain to create a first-class domestic science fiction sitcom Incubation platform.

From the perspective of project level, the Trisolaran Universe Global Headquarters project with a total investment of 1 billion yuan is committed to building a top Chinese science fiction brand with international influence. It will focus on developing Three-Body games, film and television drama content products, brand derivatives and other businesses, presenting A more three-dimensional three-body world.

(Note: 1 billion yuan is approximately 137 million USD.)

Huawei sponsoring the “Science Fiction vs Science Fact” panel?

Although they aren’t one of the previously announced corporate partners of the con, judging by this tweet it would appear that Huawei are sponsoring the “Science Fiction vs Science Fact” panel/event on Saturday.  This is another item that is being streamed.  Nnedi Okorafor is listed as one of the speakers.

Galaxy Award winners announced

These were announced on Thursday evening; winners include Hugo Short Story finalist “On the Razor’s Edge” by Jiang Bo.  The “Ghost of Tsushima” art book that was in the leaked list of Hugo finalists was also a winner in the Related Work category.  Weibo links: (1)(2)(3)(4)

Links to official (?) photo galleries

Earlier today, Adaoli/SF Light Year messaged me this photo of QR codes for what I presume are official photo galleries.  I think the first one has been previously linked in a Facebook post from the official con account, but I’d not seen any other mention of them online.

As yet, I’ve not been able to get my phone to recognize the QR codes for the 21st and 22nd; if anyone else can extract the links, please post in the comments.  I’ll try to get a better photo of that poster tomorrow, in the hope that I can get a readable image.  The links for the first three days are:

  • Wednesday 18th: here
  • Thursday 19th: here
  • Friday 20th: here

The galleries are arranged by the room the photos were taken in.  As far as I can tell, the UI and room names are only in Chinese, but the translation functionality built into Chrome does a decent enough job.

Photo galleries posted by publishers, writers and fans to Weibo

Eight Light Minutes Culture had several Weibo post showing some of the panels (1)(2)(3), (4)  as did Future Affairs Administration.  The latter also posted a gallery of an area documenting Worldcon history.

Translator Tian Tian posted photos of her meeting people and being on panels.  (As an aside, I notice from her CSFDB page that she co-wrote an essay which Google Translate renders as “The 2019 Hugo Awards are here. Will the United States continue to use science fiction to resist reality?”, which I am now dying to read.)

There were quite a lot of user comments on this post about James Bryant making his way alone to his 15th Worldcon at the age of 81.

Xie Yunning has written for SF World magazine, and also has a few gallery posts on his Weibo page.

Wandering Earth team video

I’m not sure exactly what the team behind the Wandering Earth film (including director and star) are doing here, but they seemed to enjoy themselves doing it.

Queue for Cixin Liu signing

Short video on Weibo; Twitter videoWeibo photo gallery posted by Adaoli/SF Light Year.

English language videos from China Daily

China Daily posted a minute-long video to Twitter, with a couple of English native-speaker presenters, one of whom was the interviewer in the Chris M. Barkley video featured in yesterday’s Scroll.  As a guide to the quality of journalism on display, the presenter refers to the con venue as “the Space Museum”, although whoever did the Chinese subtitles evidently knows what it’s really called.  Still, it could have been worse.

Those presenters also appeared in a short comedic (?) video, and briefly in another China Daily video posted a couple of days ago.  Dave McCarty and Liza Groen-Trombi can be seen in the latter video at 0:25 chatting at what I assume is the Locus table.

(2) UGANDA BID TABLE. Micheal Kabunga, Kampcon 2028 bid chair/coordinator, sent this photo of the Kampcon booth at the Chengdu Worldcon — booth B40.

(3) MEDICAL UPDATE. Tony C. Smith of Starship Sofa told subscribers today that his surgeon has declared him cancer free.

That is a great feeling.

If folks don’t know… I had bladder cancer, only picked up by the fact I was going to the toilet more often through the night. Huge thanks to my wife Melanie for pushing me to go get it checked out. So, I’m minus a bladder, prostrate and glands and now have a bag attached to my side for the rest of my life but it’s a small price to pay.

This means SSS is rebooting her engines on Tuesday 24th November. Hope you can join me, as we travel into deep space looking for amazing SF stories.

(4) GOING VIRAL. Editors Brian Keene and Christopher Golden have announced The End Of The World As We Know It: Tales Of Stephen King’s The Stand — an original short story anthology based on the highly influential and seminal work of apocalyptic fiction and good versus evil; featuring an introduction from Stephen King himself and new fiction from a world ravaged by the virus “Captain Trips” and the minds of Josh Malerman, Paul Tremblay, Richard Chizmar, S. A. Cosby, Tananarive Due, Alma Katsu, Caroline Kepnes, Michael Koryta, Scott Ian, Joe R. Lansdale, Maurice Broaddus and Wayne Brady, Bryan Smith, Somer Canon, Hailey Piper, Jonathan Janz and many others. Thanks to Stephen King for entrusting these two constant readers with this task.

Brian Keene added this update on Facebook:

F.A.Q for THE STAND Anthology:

1. Yes, this is 100% authorized by the Big Man himself.

2. No, we are not open to submissions. Anything sent will be deleted unread.

3. No, we don’t have an official release date yet, nor info on various editions.

4. No, we can’t release the final full line-up yet.

5. Yes, *that* Wayne Brady with Maurice Broaddus.

(5) IT’S A TRAP! Sarah Rees Brennan has discovered something about NaNoWriMo.

(6) TODAY’S DAY

October 20, 1955 — J. R. R. Tolkien’s The Return of the King, the final volume of The Lord of the Rings trilogy, was published sixty eight years ago today by Allen & Unwin with Tolkien’s artwork on the cover. 

In The Letters Of J.R. R. Tolkien as edited by Humphrey Carpenter, he says he felt the chosen title revealed too much of the story, and that he would have instead preferred The War of the Ring as the title for the volume. 

The entire series was nominated for a Hugo at Tricorn in Cleveland, though the Foundation series would be the winner that year.

(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born October 20, 1905 Frederic Dannay. One half with Manfred Bennington Lee of the writing team who created Ellery Queen.  ISFDB lists two Ellery Queen novels as being genre, And on the Eight Day and The Scrolls of Lysis, plus a single short story, “A Study in Terror”. The Roman Hat Mystery, the first Ellery Queen mystery is free to all Audible members. Yes, I’m going to listen to it next. (Died 1982.)
  • Born October 20, 1916 Anton Diffring. A long career with many genre roles which I’ll note but a few of here. He was Fabian in Fahrenheit 451, Graf Udo Von Felseck of Purbridge Manor in The Masks of Deaths (a rather well-crafted Holmes film) and he played De Flores, a neo-Nazi in “Silver Nemesis”, a most excellent Seventh Doctor story. (Died 1989.)
  • Born October 20, 1913 Barney Phillips. Though he’s best remembered as Sgt. Ed Jacobs on the Dragnet series and yes, I remember him well from it, he did do some genre work of which his most notable being was one on The Twilight Zone, in which he played a Venusian hiding out on Earth as Haley, the short-order cook in “Will the Real Martian Please Stand Up?” episode. Remember you can see it on Paramount+. I just did and he’s amazing. I’m not forgetting his other three appearances there, the first being in “The Purple Testament” as Captain E. L. Gunther, next in “A Thing about Machines” as television repairman which is also a brilliant role for him, followed by the Venusian role, and in “Miniature” as Diemel. Quite a feat that many appearances!  He also appeared on The Invaders, Shazzan, Three Musketeers where he was voice of Porthos for all 18 episodes of the animated series, Get Smart! And The Funky Phantomthe latter being a clone of Scooby-Doo! that was set in the American Revolution. Really, I’m not kidding. (Died 1982.)
  • Born October 20, 1934 Michael Dunn. He’s best remembered for his recurring role on the Wild Wild West as Dr. Miguelito Loveless attempting to defeat our heroes over and over, but he has had other appearances in genre television. He would be Alexander, a court jester, in the Trek “Plato’s Stepchildren” episode and a killer clown in the Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea’s “The Wax Men” episode. He was even in the Get Smart! pilot as Mr. Big. (Died 1973.)
  • Born October 20, 1937 Emma Tennant. To the manor born and a lifelong supporter of Labour, ISFDB lists nine of her novels as being as SFF. As the Literary Encyclopedia says “Her work is feminist, magical and wicked, and uses the fantastic and the Gothic to interpret and explore everyday women’s roles.” I’ve not read her, so do tell me about her please if you’ve read her!  (Died 2017.)
  • Born October 20, 1946 Thomas Wylde, 77. He’s here because he’s got two stories in the Alien Speedway franchise, Roger Zelazny’s Alien Speedway #2: Pitfall and Roger Zelazny’s Alien Speedway #3: The Web. I’ve never heard of these. Anyone read them?  He’s also got two stories in L. Sprague de Camp’s Doctor Bones series as well. 
  • Born October 20, 1955 Magdalena Tulli, 68. Polish writer of many, many novels, a few of which are fantastic tales. Some were translated into English and are available from the usual suspects. The one work by her that I wish to single out is Tryby, published in translation as Moving Parts, as it is a metafiction in which the novel in question takes over from its author.
  • Born October 20, 1966 Diana Rowland, 57. New Orleans writer with a fascinating job history that includes cop, a crime scene investigator, and a morgue assistant. She’s best known for her Kara Gillian series and White Trash Zombie series. Her only award is a Phoenix Award, a lifetime achievement award for a science fiction professional who has done a great deal for Southern Fandom, given by DeepSouthCon. 

(8) COMICS SECTION.

(9) EARTHLY CHILD BLOCKS UNEARTHLY CHILD. “First Doctor Who Story Excluded from BBC iPlayer in Legal Dispute”Gizmodo has the story.

Nearly 60 years to the day that Doctor Who began airing, next month, the BBC will launch an unprecedented collection of over 800 episodes from the show’s distant and not-so-distant past on its streaming platform, iPlayer—the first of its kind from the corporation. But it turns out that the very first story that kicked all those adventures off in the first place won’t be a part of it.

Known by the title of its first episode, “An Unearthly Child,” the four-part serial was written by Anthony Coburn, at the time a staff writer for the BBC, who would go on to write three more stories for Doctor Who that never made it to air….

Decades later, Coburn’s son, Stef Coburn, has repeatedly pushed back against the BBC over what he perceives as a mistreatment of his father—especially over the conceptual ideas behind, and eventual name of, the Doctor’s time-travel machine, the TARDIS. Coburn first attempted to legally challenge the BBC’s ownership of the TARDIS in 2013, timed to the 50th anniversary of Doctor Who—alleging that the corporation lost the rights to use ideas leveraged in Coburn’s script for “An Unearthly Child” when he died in 1977, despite the corporation having held various copyrights and trademarks on the ship and its police box design for decades prior.

Now, a decade later, Coburn has taken to social media to confirm that he has rejected attempts by the BBC to license “An Unearthly Child” for streaming on its platforms, claiming that the corporation refused a proposed deal to license the story….

(10) THE MAYOR’S ON THE LINE. “Eric Adams Uses A.I. to Robocall New Yorkers in Languages He Doesn’t Speak” reports the New York Times.

The calls to New Yorkers have a familiar ring to them. They all sound like Mayor Eric Adams — only in Spanish. Or Yiddish. Or Mandarin.

Has the mayor been taking language lessons?

The answer is no, and the truth is slightly more expensive and, in the eyes of privacy experts, far more worrisome.

The mayor is using artificial intelligence to reach New Yorkers through robocalls in a number of languages. The calls encourage people to apply for jobs in city government or to attend community events like concerts.

Privacy advocates still criticized the robocalls, arguing that it was “deeply Orwellian” to try to trick New Yorkers into thinking that Mr. Adams speaks languages that he does not. The group has previously criticized the mayor’s embrace of facial recognition technology and his dispatch of a police robot to patrol the Times Square subway station.

“Yes, we need announcements in all of New Yorkers’ native languages, but the deep fakes are just a creepy vanity project,” said Albert Fox Cahn, executive director of the Surveillance Technology Oversight Project….

(11) TO HELL AND BACK. 100 Places to See After You Die: A Travel Guide to the Afterlife by Jeopardy! host and champion Ken Jennings is a thing.

Ever wonder which circles of Dante’s Inferno have the nicest accommodations? Where’s the best place to grab a bite to eat in the ancient Egyptian underworld? How does one dress like a local in the heavenly palace of Hinduism’s Lord Vishnu, or avoid the flesh-eating river serpents in the Klingon afterlife? What hidden treasures can be found off the beaten path in Hades, Valhalla, or TV’s The Good Place? Find answers to all those questions and more about the world(s) to come in this eternally entertaining book from Ken Jennings.

Written in the style of iconic bestselling travel guides, Jennings wryly outlines journeys through the afterlife, as dreamed up over 5,000 years of human history by our greatest prophets, poets, mystics, artists, and TV showrunners. This comprehensive index of 100 different afterlife destinations was meticulously researched from sources ranging from the Epic of Gilgamesh to modern-day pop songs, video games, and Simpsons episodes. Get ready for whatever post-mortal destiny awaits you, whether it’s an astral plane, a Hieronymus Bosch hellscape, or the baseball diamond from Field of Dreams.

Fascinating, funny, and irreverent, this “gung-ho travel guide to Heaven, Hell, and beyond” (The New Yorker) will help you create your very own bucket list—for after you’ve kicked the bucket.

(12) WAS IT JUSTIFIED? JustWatch’s Owen Harris asks, “Are you as astonished by the Netflix price increase as I am?” 

We all just got to know the news about the subscription price change. What we don’t know, however, is how their catalog justified such an increase. 

That’s why I thought you might want to see our data, which will show you the top 5 streaming services by catalog size over time and quality. It shows that Netflix’s price rise is not justified.

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