Pixel Scroll 8/7/22 She Came In Through The Bathroom Pixel, Protected By Her Silver Scroll

(1) WSFS BUSINESS MEETING AGENDA UPDATE. Chicon 8 has released an expanded Business Meeting agenda — 2022-WSFS-Agenda as of 20220807. One of the many items added since the first draft came out in July is a motion to create a Best Game or Interactive Work Hugo.

(2) NEVALA-LEE’S LATEST. Pradeep Niroula deconstructs the figure at the center of Alec Nevala-Lee’s Inventor of the Future: The Visionary Life of Buckminster Fuller, who “became a counterculture icon while entrenched in the very things that betrayed its spirit” in “The Making of a Prophet” for LA Review of Books.

HOW DO YOU write a biography of a man who lived like a demigod? A man for whom the vocabulary and syntax of the English language was so inadequate that he had to invent words, including “synergy,” “ephemeralization,” and “livingry” (a spiritual antithesis to weaponry, which, of course, leads to “killingry”), to articulate his ideas. A man who wore three wristwatches set to three different time zones to organize his day and who angrily banged his fists if you dared ask him for his address (“Young man, I live on Planet Earth!”). A man who believed that it fell to him to save the planet….

(3) ABOUT COSPLAY. Cora Buhlert posted another “Non-Fiction Spotlight” today. This one is for “Cosplay: A History by Andrew Liptak”.

Why should SFF fans in general and Hugo voters in particular read this book?

In short, it’s a history of fandom as a community — not just the capital F literary traditions/community, but of the wider history of fandom and how it’s evolved and changed over the decades.

This was a particularly fascinating thing to watch as I interviewed folks or pored over documents from Fanac.org: how did the act of costuming become an institution within the worldcon scene, and how did it grow out and fracture as fandom expanded and Balkanized as science fiction and fantasy entertainment began to take over movie theaters, television sets, and video game consoles? It’s a really fascinating evolution, and one that I think is well worth paying attention to, culturally.

It’s a high-level overview of the larger fan world, one that touches on a bunch of these various tribes. I wanted to make sure that it was approachable to folks who have been fans for decades, long-time costumers/cosplayers/makers, and to folks who were just casual fans or who wanted to learn a little more. Hopefully, it’s a good entry point to understand the larger cosplay — and fan — world.

(4) FROM ORION TO APOLLO. The Compact Ella Parker is the latest addition to the Trans-Atlantic Fan Fund’s library of free downloads. And if you enjoy the book, a donation to TAFF is a fine way to express your appreciation:

Ella Parker was a prominent, London-based British fan of the 1950s and 1960s who published the highly regarded fanzine Orion from 1958 to 1962 and the later Compact in 1963-1964. Which should explain the ebook title The Compact Ella Parker. She was a founder member of the Science Fiction Club of London and of the British Science Fiction Association.

As a follow-up to his presentation of her 1961 North American trip report with third-party fannish commentary as The Harpy Stateside (2021), Rob Hansen has compiled this selection of Ella Parker’s other fan writing both before and after the famous excursion. As he writes in his Foreword, “I wasn’t sure that Ella – never the most prolific of fanwriters – had written enough to warrant such a volume but, happily, I was wrong. Taken together, the pieces she produced are the best account that we have of London fandom as it was in the first half of the 1960s. They also offer an interesting look into the larger fannish politics and convention issues of that period.” As a bonus there’s a long report, crammed with sense of wonder, of her attendance at the launch of Apollo 16 in 1972.

(5) EVOLUTION OF S&S. Brian Murphy shares “Some ruminations on sword-and-sorcery’s slide into Grimdark” at The Silver Key.

Sword-and-sorcery continues to show stirrings, and life. Outlets like Tales from the Magician’s Skull, DMR Books, new projects like Whetstone, New Edge, etc., are publishing new authors and new stories that embrace its old forms and conventions. Obviously the genre ain’t what it used to be circa 1970, but who knows what the future may hold for us aging diehards.

I speculate on some of the reasons why S&S died off in Flame and Crimson (which, by the way, just surpassed 100 ratings on Amazon—thank you to everyone who took the time to rate or review the book, as these help with visibility in some arcane, Amazon protected manner). I won’t rehash them all here, they are available in the book.

What I haven’t written as much about is why Grimdark filled the void, what makes that genre popular with modern readers, and what we might have to learn from this transition.

First, I am of the opinion that Grimdark is the spiritual successor to S&S. One of them, at least. I agree with the main thrust of this article by John Fultz. S&S has many spiritual successors, from heavy metal bands to video games to Dungeons and Dragons. But in terms of literature, the works of Richard Morgan, Joe Abercrombie, and George R.R. Martin, bear some of the hallmarks of S&S, while also being something markedly different…. 

(6) DIALOG ADVICE. Dorothy  Grant advises “Don’t serve sir sandwiches” at Mad Genius Club.

Or, advice for non-military authors when writing military.

“Sir, statement, sir.” “Sir, question, sir?” “Sir, blah blah, sir.” “Sir, yadda yadda, sir.” …NO. …

(7) ROLAND J. GREEN (1944-2021). Author Roland J. Green died on April 20, 2021. File 770 just became aware of his passing. Green wrote many books under his own name, and 28 books in the Richard Blade series published under the pen name “Jeffrey Lord.”

His first novel, Wandor’s Ride, was a sword & sorcery tale published in 1973

His alternate history short story “The King of Poland’s Foot Cavalry” from Alternate Tyrants was a Sidewise Award nominee in 1998.

The family obituary is here:

…Roland became an established science fiction/fantasy writer after his first novel was published in 1973, writing more than 60 works in his 30+ year writing career.

He was involved in historical re-enactments and could brilliantly spout off historical trivia. He enjoyed reading (favoring maritime history), drawing, and a good pun. When working or during leisure time you could always find one of his cats curled up next to him. Most of all he cherished and loved being a family man….

He is survived by his wife, Freida, a daughter, and a grandchild.

(8) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.  

1981 [By Cat Eldridge.] Forty-two years ago on a very hot summer day not dissimilar to this one, I saw the Heavy Metal film which premiered today. I was familiar with the Heavy Metal magazine being an on-and-off reader of it. The illustrations were quite good and occasionally the stories were brilliant as well. 

The film was directed by Gerald Potterton who previously done animation on Yellow Submarine which was nominated for a Hugo at St. Louiscon. (Now there’s a film I hadn’t thought of as being genre.) 

As it was an anthology, a lot of folk were responsible for the source material: there was original art and stories by Richard Corben, Angus McKie, Dan O’Bannon (doesn’t he show up in the most interesting places?), Thomas Warkentin and Bernie Wrightson. 

It was produced by Ivan Reitman, known for his comedy work such as Stripes which I really liked and Ghostbusters II which I thought wasn’t nearly as good as the first film was, and Leonard Mogel who, well did pretty much this and nothing else. The screenplay was written by Daniel Goldberg, who also wrote the Stripes screenplay and Len Blum, who did the same. 

It had a big voice cast which frankly I don’t recognize outside of John Candy and Harold Ramis.

I’m not going to discuss the film itself as it has far too many stories to do so, nor will I talk about the more controversial aspects of it in the form of the nudity, sex, and graphic violence, though the critics below will. I liked some of it but thought most of it was just badly done. I certainly haven’t had any reason to go see it again. There was a sequel, Heavy Metal 2000, which I’ve no desire to see.

The reception among critics at the time was, to say the least, was mixed. Gene Siskel of the Chicago Tribune really liked it but criticized it for being sexist and overly violent. And Sheila Benson of the Los Angeles Times condemned it for its explicit sadism.  Reading through the reviews, a common note was that they thought the animation was really poor. And almost everyone criticized it for being overly sexist and way too violent.

It probably broke even as it cost very little to make, nine million, and made twenty million. It has, as many a site notes, a cult following now. 

Audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes currently give it a rather excellent sixty-seven percent rating. 

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born August 7, 1884 Billie Burke. This Birthday is new this year as she popped up on a list I subscribe to. Her best remembered role was as the Glinda the Good Witch of the North in oh-so-stellar The Wizard of Oz. But she did have some other genre roles. She is also remembered for her appearances in the Topper film series as Clara Topper, not altogether a favorable role but memorable none the less. She also starred in a version of “Dr. Heidegger’s Experiment” about a search for the Fountain of Youth on the TV’s Lights Out. (Died 1970.)
  • Born August 7, 1918 Jane Adams. Actress who showed in the Forties Batman and Robin film as Vickie Vale, Girl Reporter. (That’s how she’s listed at the time.) Other genre credits were House of DraculaTarzan’s Magic FountainMaster Minds (eat too much sugar and you can see the future — it was sponsored by a cereal company) and the Adventures of Superman series. (Died 2014.)
  • Born August 7, 1944 John Glover, 78. He’s got a wealth of genre roles, so I’m going to be highly selective. (Go ahead and complain.) He was Brice Cummings in the Bill Murray fronted Scrooged, and he voiced a great Edward Nygma who was The Riddler in Batman: The Animated Series, in Brimstone, he was both The Devil and The Angel, and he was Daniel Clamp in the second Gremlins film.
  • Born August 7, 1933 Jerry Pournelle. Some years ago, I got an email from a J. R. Pournelle about some SF novel they wanted Green Man to review. I of course thought it was that Pournelle. No, it was his daughter, Jennifer. And that’s how I came to find out there was a third Motie novel called, errrr, Moties. It’s much better than The Gripping Hand was. His best novel is of course The Mote in God’s Eye which he wrote with with Niven. And yes, I’ve read a lot of his military space opera when I was a lot younger. At that age, I liked it. I expect the Suck Fairy with her steel toe boots wouldn’t be kind to it now if I read any of it, so I won’t. I see though he hasn’t won any Hugos, that he has a number of nominations starting at Torcon II for “The Mercenary” novella followed by a nomination at DisCon II for his “ He Fell into a Dark Hole” novelette. The next year at the first Aussiecon, The Mote in God’s Eye got nominated and his Extreme Prejudice novel also got a nod. MidAmericaCon saw Inferno by him and Niven get nominated and his “Tinker” novelette also was on the ballot. Lucifer’s Hammer with Niven got on the ballot at IgunaCon II and his final nomination was at ConFederation for Footfall with Niven. Oh and at MidAmericaCon II, he got a nomination for Best Editor, Short Form. And yes, I was a devoted reader of his Byte column. (Died 2017.)
  • Born August 7, 1957 Paul Dini, 65. First, he is largely responsible for the existence  of Batman: The Animated SeriesSuperman: The Animated SeriesThe New Batman/Superman AdventuresBatman Beyond, and yes Duck Dodgers And Tiny Toons as well. He’s recently been writing for the Ultimate Spider-Man series which is quite good. He co-authored with Pat Cadigan, Harley Quinn: Mad Love. He’s responsible for the single best animated Batman film, Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker, as he wrote it. If you see it, see the R rated version. 
  • Born August 7, 1957 — Lis Carey, 65. A prolific reader whose reviews fill the shelves at Lis Carey’s Library. She is also a frequent Filer, contributor of numerous cat photos and even more book reviews. She is a longtime member of NESFA, and chaired Boskone 46 in 2009. (OGH)
  • Born August 7, 1960 Melissa Scott, 62. I think the first work I read by her was Trouble and Her Friends which holds up well even now. I’m also fond of Night Sky Mine and The Jazz. I see that she has an entire series set in the Stargate Atlantis universe. She won the Astounding Award for Best New Writer, and four Lambda Awards, the first for Trouble and Her Friends, a second for Shadow Man, a third for Point of Dreams and a fourth for Death by Silver

(10) MUSIC TO HPL BY. Bandcamp has available for purchase “Nyarlathotep – A Tribute To Howard Phillips Lovecraft” by various artists.

Eighth Tower is proud to reprint the rare and long time out of stock compilation “Nyarlathotep – A Tribute To Howard Phillips Lovecraft”, originally released in 1997 by the label KADATH. With this remastered release Eighth Tower brings to light a jewel of the Portuguese post-industrial tape culture, featuring some of the most interesting projects from the late 90’s Portuguese, Italian and French underground.

(11) D&D&B. Chris Barkley passed this along with a comment that “This is fandom at its BEST.” Thread starts here.

(12) COMING TO TRANSFORMED SPACE. In October, “Star Trek Original Enterprise Model Returns to National Air & Space Museum” reports Collider.

The latest stage of the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum’s renovations may have the museum temporarily closed, but Trekkies will have something to look forward to when it reopens on October 14: The Enterprise studio model used in Star Trek: The Original Series. The Museum is reintroducing the popular display as a part of its reopening later in the fall, unveiling 8 new galleries in the transformed space….

[Thanks to Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Rob Thornton, Steven H Silver, Cora Buhlert, Andrew Porter, Chris Barkley, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Jack Dominey.]

Pixel Scroll 6/6/22 Make Your Own Kind Of Pixel, Even When Nobody Else Scrolls Along

(1) FUND OGHENECHOVWE DONALD EKPEKI’S TRIP TO CHICON 8. Jason Sanford has set up a GoFundMe that will “Send Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki to Worldcon”. Donate at the link.

This year Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki became the first African writer to win the Nebula Award for Best Novelette for his story “O2 Arena ,” with that story also making him the first African writer to be a finalist for the Hugo Award in the same category. In addition, he became the first person from Africa to be a finalist for the Hugo Award for Best Editor, Short Form, for his work on the groundbreaking anthology Year’s Best African Speculative Fiction.

 This fundraiser is to allow Ekpeki to travel from Nigeria to attend Chicon 8, the World Science Fiction Convention (Worldcon) in Chicago. In addition to allowing Ekpeki to attend the Worldcon where he is a finalist for two Hugo Awards, the fundraiser will also enable him to work on building in-person connections at Worldcon between genre fans and professionals from Africa and around the world….

(2) 2024 NASFIC BID. The Buffalo in 2024 NASFiC bid chair Wayne Brown answered File 770’s question about who is on the committee. Says Brown:

We have a small group right now but are looking to add more committee members.  Right now the committee consists of:

  • Wayne Brown (chair)
  • Alex Von Thorn
  • Debi Chowdhury
  • Marah Searle-Kovacevic
  • David Ennis

(3) UP ABOVE THE WORLD SO HIGH. Astronaut Chris Hadfield is one of the shortlisted authors for the 2022 Wilbur Smith Adventure Writing Prize worth £10,000.

  • The Apollo Murders by Chris Hadfield (Quercus)
  • Where Blood Runs Cold by Giles Kristian (Bantam Press, Transworld Publishers)
  • The Vacation by John Marrs (Pan, Pan Macmillan)
  • The Plant Hunter by T.L. Mogford (Welbeck Publishing Group)
  • Sankofa by Chibundu Onuzo (Virago, Little, Brown Book Group)
  • Moonlight and the Pearler’s Daughter by Lizzie Pook (Mantle, Pan Macmillan)

The judges discuss their definition of adventure here.The winner of the 2022 Wilbur Smith Adventure Writing Prize will be announced at an online ceremony on September 21. 

(4) JUBILEE COVERAGE. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] The weekend has been a blast. If you get a chance catch the “Jubilee Platinum Party at the Palace.” [Note: Can only be viewed in the UK. But there are many short video clips on The Royal Family Channel.]

The next day we had a parade through central London and even the Daleks were well behaved.

(5) PULP FOREVER. Cora Buhlert has an essay about Harald Harst, a forgotten German pulp detective of the Weimar Republic era, in The Drink Tank #439 on page 10:

So-called dime novels or penny dreadfuls are a child of the industrial revolution, when the invention of the rotary printing press made it possible to publish cheap literature for the masses. The dime novel was born in the mid-nineteenth century and in the United States gave way to pulp magazines at the turn of the twentieth century. But in Germany, the dime novel never died….

(6) HE’S BACK. Netflix announced The Sandman will begin airing August 5.

There is another world that waits for all of us when we close our eyes and sleep — a place called the Dreaming, where The Sandman, Master of Dreams (Tom Sturridge), gives shape to all of our deepest fears and fantasies. But when Dream is unexpectedly captured and held prisoner for a century, his absence sets off a series of events that will change both the dreaming and waking worlds forever. To restore order, Dream must journey across different worlds and timelines to mend the mistakes he’s made during his vast existence, revisiting old friends and foes, and meeting new entities — both cosmic and human — along the way. Based on the beloved award-winning DC comic series written by Neil Gaiman, THE SANDMAN is a rich, character-driven blend of myth and dark fantasy woven together over the course of ten epic chapters following Dream’s many adventures.

(7) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

1980 [By Cat Eldridge.] It’s been forty-two years since this film came out and I can’t remember if I’ve seen it. It certainly sounds familiar but that doesn’t mean anything. So let’s get to it.

It was both directed and written by William Sachs who previously had done Secrets of the Gods (re-released in theatres as The Force Beyond in 1977) and The Incredible Melting Man. It was produced by Marilyn Jacobs Tenser who had absolutely no genre background though she did produce Superchick and The Pom Pom Girls

The cast consisted of Stephen Macht, Avery Schreiber. James David, Hinton Lionel and  Mark Smith. And one more individual — Dorothy Stratten.  Now let’s be honest, Dorothy Stratten was Galaxina. Literally. And as she was a Playboy Playmate, she was the only draw for this R-rated SF film which also had a triple breasted alien in it a decade before Total Recall had its triple-breasted Mars whore.

As Jeffrey Anderson said in his review, “Unfortunately, the actual movie isn’t much. Stratten in fact plays a robot and doesn’t do or say much for at least the first half of the movie; and, despite her Playboy status, she keeps her clothes on. Then we’ve got the rest of the movie to deal with: it’s a lazy attempt to spoof the popular sci-fi movies of the day, including Star WarsAlien, and many others, but the jokes are little more than references and they simply don’t work.” 

It was made in less than three weeks on a shoestring budget of about five million and the box office was somewhat less than that. It was never released outside of the States.  

No, the audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes do not like it, giving it just a twenty-three percent rating.

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born June 6, 1918 Richard Crane. In the Fifties, he would be cast in two of the series that largely defined the look and feel of televised SF for a decade. First, he was the dashing lead in Rocky Jones, Space Ranger which lasted for thirty-nine thrilling episodes; second, he’s Dick Preston in nine of the twelve episodes of the wonderfully titled Commando Cody: Sky Marshal of the Universe. He was also the lead in the fifteen-chapter serial Mysterious Island which was a very loose adaption of the Jules Verne novel. He died far too young died of a heart attack at the age of fifty. (Died 1969.)
  • Born June 6, 1931 Joan Marshall. She played Lt. Areel Shaw in Star Trek‘s “Court Martial”, a rather excellent affair. Her other major genre other was as Wilma in The Twilight Zone‘s “Dead Man’s Shoes”.  She also had roles in Men in SpaceThe Outer LimitsThe Munsters and I-Spy. The Munsters appearance was in My Fair Munster, the Unaired Pilot as Phoebe Munster. (Died 1992.)
  • Born June 6, 1936 Levi Stubbs. Remember the voice of Audrey in The Little Shop of Horrors film?  (It was nominated for a Hugo at Conspiracy ’87 the year Aliens won.) Well that was this individual who was the lead vocalist of the Four Tops. Cool, very cool.  On the film soundtrack, he performs “Feed Me (Git It)”, “Suppertime” and “Mean Green Mother From Outer Space”. (Died 2008.)
  • Born June 6, 1947 Robert Englund, 75. I think his best performance was as Blackie on the very short-lived Nightmare Cafe. Short-lived as in just six episodes. Of course most will remember him playing Freddy Krueger in the Nightmare on Elm Street franchise. He actually appeared in a couple of now forgotten horror films, Dead & Buried and Galaxy of Terror, before landing that role. And he’s continued to do myriad horror films down to the years ranging from CHUD  to Strippers vs Werewolves. (Really. Truly. He did.)  Versatile man, our Robert. So versatile in fact that he’s on Stranger Things as Victor Creel in a recurring role.
  • Born June 6, 1951 Geraldine McCaughrean, 71. Fifteen years ago, she wrote Peter Pan in Scarlet, the official sequel to Peter Pan commissioned by Great Ormond Street Hospital, the holder of Peter Pan’s copyright which J.M. Barrie granted them. So has anyone here read it?  By the way, she’s extremely prolific having now written over one hundred and eighty books! 
  • Born June 6, 1959 Amanda Pays, 63. I first encountered her as Thero Jones on Max Headroom, a series I think should be considered one of the best SF series ever made. She appeared as Dawn in the Spacejacked film. She also had a guest role as Phoebe Green in the episode “Fire” of The X-Files, and was cast as Christina “Tina” McGee in The Flash of the 1990 series, and she has a recurring role on the present Flash series as the same character.
  • Born June 6, 1963 Jason Isaacs, 59. Captain Gabriel Lorca, the commanding officer of the USS Discovery in the first season of Discovery and also provided the voice of The Inquisitor, Sentinel, in Star Wars Rebels, and Admiral Zhao in Avatar: The Last Airbender. Oh, and the role of Lucius Malfoy in the Harry Potter film franchise.
  • Born June 6, 1964 Jay Lake. Another one who died far too young. If you read nothing else by him, read his brilliant Mainspring Universe series. Though his Green Universe is also extremely entertaining. He won an Astounding Award for Best New Writer and an Endeavour Award for Last Plane to Heaven: The Final Collection which collects a lot of his most excellent short fiction.  He has two Hugo nominations, one at Noreascon 4 for his “Into the Gardens of Sweet Night” novelette and one at LoneStarCon3 for his “The Stars Do Not Lie” novella. (Died 2014.)

(9) BERLIN IN 1967. Cora Buhlert’s new Galactic Journey article chronicles the point where the peace and love 1960s turned violent in West Germany, namely the protests against the visit of the Shah of Iran to West Berlin and the murder of Benno Ohnesorg in 1967: “[June 6, 1967] Blood in the Streets of West Berlin: The Shah Visit and the Shooting of Benno Ohnesorg”. Content warning for police violence in words and pictures as well as a photo of a body.

… On June 2, the Shah and his wife were due to visit West Berlin. Therefore, the student parliament of the Free University organised a panel discussion about the Iranian regime on the day before. Among those invited to speak at the meeting was Bahman Nirumand. The Iranian embassy in West Germany was incensed and demanded that the panel discussion be cancelled. However, the chancellor of the Free University refused, citing the rights to freedom of speech and freedom of assembly. This is not the first time that the Iranian government has tried to suppress criticism in West Germany, by the way. They have also repeatedly invoked a lese-majeste law dating from the days of the Second German Empire (which ended fifty years ago) in order to have unfavourable news articles retracted….

(10) ARTIST KELLY REMEMBERED. Brian Murphy offers a tribute to the late Ken Kelly at DMR Books: “Remembering Ken Kelly: Master of Light and Dark, and the Imagination”.

… I have a hard time writing about artists because their images speak so much louder and more potently than words. Just spend a minute looking at the covers of the Berkley Medallion Conans, and your tribute to Kelly’s passing is paid. Maybe you are lucky enough to have copies with the foldout posters intact. Kelly’s iconic images of Conan alone make him an S&S immortal, and of course they only scratch the surface of his epic 50 year career….

(11) LOVECRAFT: IT’S COMPLICATED. At Deep Cuts in a Lovecraftian Vein, Serbian horror author and scholar Dejan Ognjanović explains what the works of H.P. Lovecraft mean to him: “A Serbian Looks At Lovecraft”.

… In my childhood, in the early 1980s, during my initial investigations into the scarce horror fiction then available in Serbian, Lovecraft was literally unknown. Not a single story by him had been translated by my late teens, i.e. by 1989. Thus my first encounter with him was indirect – it was through the idea of Lovecraft, as re-imagined in an Italian comic series Martin Mystere, the episode “The House at the Edge of the World” (“La Casa ai confini di mundo”, 1982), which I read in the summer of 1986, when I was 13. It was love at first sight: for the first time I encountered the concept of houses haunted not by ghosts or any traditional monster, but by unnamable inter-dimensional entities; it also involved places serving as portals into non-Euclidean spaces, nameless cosmic vistas, alien temples and weird-looking gods/demons…

(12) A SWORD & SORCERY PODCAST. The Rogues in the House podcast talk about their fantasy influences:  “Sweet Nostalgia: A Nerd’s Journey”.

The Rogues are once again joined by Flame and Crimson author, Brian Murphy–this time to discuss the works of fiction most near and dear to their roguish hearts.

(13) NO MORE LICENSE TO KILL. “Seven years, 40 editions and 3117 trained witchers later,” the Witcher School live-action role-play events in Poland has shut down: “’Witcher school’ closes after CD Projekt Red pulls license over political ties” reports Indy100.

A ‘Witcher school’ located in Poland has been forced to close after its licence was abruptly pulled by the game’s publisher.

The reasons for which are currently unclear but organisers have claimed that the decision was due to a staff member’s involvement with an ultra-conservative political group, according to Eurogamer.

[CD Projekt Red pulled the license because of a staff member’s involvement with the ultra-conservative Polish Catholic organization Ordo Iuris, which is anti-abortion, anti-LGBTQ+, and rejects the idea of gender equality.]

The Witcher School ran live-action role-playing (LARP) events in Poland themed around the popular videogame series with 40 editions of the event and over 3000 “Witchers” taking part.

But after 7 years, the publisher of the hit videogame seriesCD Projekt Red, officially ended the contract with the school in February 2022 with a three-month notice, effectively ending their use of The Witcher’s characters, setting and storylines.

(14) FUNERAL DIRECTOR. Nicholas Meyer talks with Ethan Alter of Yahoo! Entertainment on the death of Spock in this piece about the 40th anniversary of The Wrath of Khan. “’Wrath of Khan’ director reveals how he killed Spock in the 1982 blockbuster” at Yahoo!

It’s been forty years since Spock put the needs of the many ahead of the needs of the few — or the one — in the final moments of Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. With the U.S.S. Enterprise‘s warp drive inoperable thanks to a devastating attack launched by Khan Noonien Singh (Richardo Montalban), Starfleet’s most popular Vulcan officer descends into the starship’s engine room and absorbs a lethal dose of radiation, surviving just long enough to save the day and say goodbye to his closest companion, James T. Kirk. And no matter how many times you’ve seen Wrath of Khan in the four decades since the movie’s June 4, 1982 release, Spock’s passing never fails to trigger tears, whether you’re human, Klingon… or Gorn.

The tears were certainly flowing on the Wrath of Khan set when William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy — who had been part of each other’s lives since the 1966 premiere of the original Star Trek TV series — played what was intended to be their final scene together. In his 2010 memoir, The View From the BridgeWrath of Khan director, Nicholas Meyer, described members of the crew weeping as Spock told Kirk: “I have been, and always shall be, your friend.”…

(15) WEBB TELESCOPE. Inverse tells us, “We Finally Know When The Webb Telescope’s First Color Images Will Arrive — Here’s What To Expect”

…On Sunday, July 12, the Webb team will release an unconfirmed number of full-color images based on observations by two of Webb’s four science instruments: the Near-Infrared Camera (NIRCam) and the Mid-Infrared Instrument (MIRI).

The Webb’s two other instruments, the Near-Infrared Spectrograph (NIRSpec) and the Fine Guidance Sensor/Near-Infrared Imager and Slitless Spectrograph (FGS/NIRISS) don’t capture photo-like images of the universe. Instead, they sort incoming light from distant objects into distinct wavelengths. Scientists can then use these data to measure the temperature and chemical makeup of those objects.

“We will release the scientific data from those observations as well — not just the color JPGs, but also the actual quantitative data — to the astronomical community,” Pontoppidan explains.

What can we expect to see in those first images and data? The Webb team is keeping specific spoilers under wraps, but they’ve offered a few (very broad) hints…

(16) NOSE FOR NEWS. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] This is the first trailer for Disney’s Pinocchio remake, which is not Guillermo del Toro’s version (That’s a Netflix project.)

This reminds me of the version of Pinocchio that sank Roberto Benigni’s career because he stupidly played Pinocchio instead of Geppetto.  “Call the vice squad!” warned Washington Post critic Stephen Hunter.  “It’s a 50-year-old man wearing jammies!”

(17) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] David Sproxton and Peter Lord, creators of Aardman Animations, explain how stop-motion animation is done in this excerpt from a 1981 episode of Blue Peter.

[Thanks to Chris Barkley, Andrew Porter, Michael Toman, Cora Buhlert, Jason Sanford, Hampus Eckerman, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Kaboobie.]

Pixel Scroll 3/13/22 In Five Years, The Pixel Will Be Obsolete

(1) I’M JUST A POE BOY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In the Washington Post, Andrea Sachs writes about the Edgar Allan Poe Museum in Richmond, which opened in April 1922.  The museum has as official greeters two black cats, Edgar and Pluto. The museum will celebrate its centennial on April 28 with an UnHappy Hour, where guests will cosplay characters from the 1920s, with music by “local surfrock band The Embalmers.”  And if your kids are bored, they can leap into a coffin! “Why you should visit the Edgar Allan Poe Museum in Richmond”.

… From “The Raven,” Edgar Allan Poe’s acclaimed poem, we know that birds can speak. If the Enchanted Garden at the Poe Museum in Richmond, which celebrates its centennial this year, had a voice, it might have a choice word to say as well.

“Evermore,” the bricks from the Southern Literary Messenger building, the writer’s former office, would utter. “Evermore,” the ivy clipped from his mother’s grave would whisper. “Evermore,” the copy of the bust of Poe would intone, before asking after the original plaster statue of his head. (Rest easy, Mr. Poe. After police recovered the stolen object from the bar at the Raven Inn in 1987, it has been living safely and soberly inside the museum’s reading room.)To be sure, 100 years is not forever, but for a museum dedicated to a 19th-century American author who wades in the dark recesses of the human psyche, it comes close….

There’s a website: The Poe Museum – Illuminating Poe for everyone, evermore.

(2) VASTER THAN EMPIRES AND MORE SLOW. Robert J. Sawyer greeted the announcement of SFWA’s name change by reminding Facebook readers he’s advocated the idea since 1988:

It only took THIRTY-FOUR YEARS, but SFWA is FINALLY changing its name to The Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers Association (instead of Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America). Text of a letter I sent to the SFWA FORUM on February 25, 1988:

Dear FORUM:

At the SFWA meeting during the Brighton WorldCon [in August 1987), Charles Sheffield proposed changing the name of our organization from the Science Fiction Writers of America to the Science Fiction Writers Association. Why? He said the current name was insulting to overseas members. I agree, but, as I pointed out at that meeting, you don’t have to be separated from the United States by an ocean to feel excluded by the present name.

Now Joel Rosenberg has written to the FORUM (Number 104, page 33), again talking about American vs. overseas members. Let’s put this to rest. Canadians do not live overseas from the States, and they certainly do not consider themselves Americans, any more than the other non-U.S.-residents of North and South America do.

There are 21 Canadians in SFWA, making us by far the largest non-American nationality. I can’t speak for my compatriots, but I dislike SFWA’s current name and I object to having my country fall between the cracks of this debate….

(3) UNMET TWAIN. [Item by Cora Buhlert.] Here’s a very good article on Ukraine and Russia and why both countries are different by Ukrainian novelist Andrey Kurkov: “Ukranians Will Never Be Russians” in The Sunday Times.

 … Ukrainians are individualists, egoists, anarchists who do not like government or authority. They think they know how to organise their lives, regardless of which party or force is in power in the country. If they do not like the actions of the authorities, they go out to protest. Therefore, any government in Ukraine is afraid of the street; afraid of its people.

Russians loyal to their authority are afraid to protest and are willing to obey any rules the Kremlin creates. Now they are cut off from information, from Facebook and Twitter. But even before they believed the official TV channels more than the news from the internet.

In Ukraine, about 400 political parties are registered with the Ministry of Justice. This only once again proves the individualism of Ukrainians. Not a single nationalist party is represented in the Ukrainian parliament. Ukrainians do not like to vote for either the extreme left or the extreme right. Basically, they are liberals at heart.

In the 1920s and 1930s peasants were sent to Siberia and the Far East as a punishment for not wanting to join collective farms. Ukrainians are not collective, everyone wants to be the owner of his own land, his own cow, his own crop. Looking at this history, they can safely say: “We and the Russians are two different peoples!”…

(4) MOORCOCK. “Dangerous Visions: Final Programmes and New Fixes: A conversation with Michael Moorcock” is a conversation between Michael Moorcock and Mike Stax from the symposium presented by City Lights in conjunction with PM Press on February 26 and 27, exploring the radical currents of sf. It happened during the celebration of the US launch of the book Dangerous Visions and New Worlds: Radical Science Fiction, 1950 to 1985 edited by Andrew Nette and Iain McIntyre.

(5) LISTEN UP. Cora Buhlert’s new Fancast Spotlight is for the sword and sorcery podcast Rogues in the House, one of her personal favorites: “Fancast Spotlight: Rogues in the House”.

Tell us about your podcast or channel.

Rogues in the House, as the title may suggest, is a sword-and-sorcery focused podcast. We explore everything from Conan the Cimmerian to Elric of Melnibone, and we aren’t afraid to dive into adjacent genres and topics. Masters of the Universe, Willow, and the Witcher tend to simmer in our soup as well.

We call ourselves half-baked experts and usually place fun in front of fidelity, though we do do our homework.

(6) HIGH SCORE. Delia Derbyshire discusses how she and her colleagues developed the Doctor Who theme in this 1965 clip from BBC’s Tomorrow’s World.

Tomorrow’s World visits the BBC Radiophonic Workshop, a studio dedicated to the production of cutting edge electronic sound effects, soundscapes and electronic music for use in BBC television and radio programmes. Pioneering sound engineer Delia Derbyshire – who, along with colleague Dick Mills, realised Ron Grainer’s famous Doctor Who Theme at the Radiophonic Workshop – shows how electronic sounds are produced, and demonstrates some of the processes and techniques used in the workshop to build these sounds into otherworldly scores for the likes of Quatermass and the Pit

(7) END OF AN ERA. The Tellers of Weird Tales blog pays tribute to the late Marvin Kaye, who edited the magazine from 2012 to 2019: “Marvin Kaye (1938-2021)”.

…Marvin Kaye was certainly multitalented. He had an admirable career, the kind that few men or women born in later decades have been able to attain. We should be thankful to him–and his wife–for bringing so much back from the past and placing it before us so that we might all enjoy it once again.…

(8) WILLIAM HURT (1950-2022) Actor William Hurt, whose first film was Altered States, and who gained fame in non-genre roles such as his Oscar-winning performance in Kiss of the Spider Woman, died March 13. Variety’s tribute includes Hurt’s late-career genre work.

…More recently, Hurt became well known to a younger generation of movie lovers with his portrayal of the no-nonsense General Thaddeus Ross in 2008’s “The Incredible Hulk.” He later reprised the role in “Captain America: Civil War” and “Avengers: Infinity War,” “Avengers: Endgame” and “Black Widow.”

…After appearing on stage, Hurt secured a lead role in “Altered States,” playing a troubled scientist in Ken Russell’s offbeat film, a notable entry in the body horror genre. 

… A rare attempt at popcorn entertainment with 1998’s big-screen adaptation of “Lost in Space” was a modest hit, but didn’t earn enough money to spawn a franchise and Hurt looked miserable throughout the movie.

He also appeared in the TV mini-series version of “Dune,” in Steven Spielberg’s “A.I. Artificial Intelligence” and in M. Night Shyamalan’s “The Village.”…

(9) MEMORY LANE.

1987 [Item by Cat Eldridge] The history of Roger Zelazny’s Hugos is quite fascinating, both ones he actually won and the ones that he got nominated for but didn’t win.

His first was a nomination at Pacificon II at “A Rose for Ecclesiastes” which was followed by a nomination at Tricon for “The Doors of His Face, the Lamps of His Mouth” and a win for …And Call Me Conrad (also known as This Immortal) in a tie with Dune.  

At NyCon 3 the next year, two of his novelettes woulde to get nominated, “For a Breath I Tarry” and “This Moment of the Storm” as did his “Comes Now the Power” short story. 

Baycon would see him win the Hugo for Best Novel for Lord of Light and get a nomination for the “Damnation Alley” novella. The novel version of Damnation Alley would come after Baycon.

Jack of Shadows would get nominated at the first L.A. Con. Doorways in the Sand got that honor in MidAmeriCon where his “Home is The Hangman” novella won a Hugo. 

At Chicon IV, “Unicorn Variation” wins the Best Novelette and at ConFederation, “24 Views of Mt. Fuji, by Hokusai” would win Best Novella. The next year at Conspiracy ’87, “Permafrost” would get a Hugo for Best Novelette, his final Hugo. 

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born March 13, 1928 Douglas Rain. Though most of his work was as a stage actor, he was the voice of the HAL 9000 for 2001: A Space Odyssey and its sequel. He’s in Sleeper a few years later as the voices of the Evil Computer and Various Robot Butlers. (Died 2018.)
  • Born March 13, 1933 Diane Dillon, 89. With husband Leo Dillon (1933 – 2012), illustrators of children’s books, and paperback book and magazine covers. Over fifty years they created more than a hundred genre book and magazine covers together as well as considerable interior art. They were nominated for Best Professional Artist at St.Louis Con and Heicon ’70 before winning it at the first Noreascon, and The Art of Leo & Diane Dillon was nominated at Chicon IV for Best Related Non-Fiction Book. She and her husband would get a much deserved World Fantasy Award for Lifetime Achievement. 
  • Born March 13, 1951 William F. Wu, 71. Nominated for two Hugos, the first being at L.A. Con II for his short story, “Wong’s Lost and Found Emporium”; the second two years later at ConFederation for another short story, “Hong’s Bluff”.  The former work was adapted into a Twilight Zone episode of the same name. He’s contributed more than once to the Wild Card universe, the latest being a story in the most excellent Texas Hold’Em anthology five years back. Though definitely not genre in general, The Yellow Peril: Chinese Americans in American Fiction, 1850-1940 is decidedly worth reading.
  • Born March 13, 1956 Dana Delany, 66. I’ve come today to praise her work as a voice actress. She was in a number of DCU animated films, first as Andrea Beaumont in Batman: The Mask of The Phantasm, then as Lois Lane in Superman: The Animated SeriesSuperman: Brainiac Attacks and Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox. (That’s not a complete listing.) Remember that Wing Commander film? Well there was an animated series, Wing Commander Academy, in which she was Gwen Archer Bowman. And though definitely not genre or even genre related, I must single out her role in Tombstone as it is a most excellent film indeed. 
  • Born March 13, 1966 Alastair Reynolds, 56, As depressing as they are given what they lead up to, the Prefect Dreyfus novels are my favorites of his novels. That said, Chasm City is absolutely fascinating. His present novel in the Revelation Space series, Inhibitor Phase, was damn great. 
  • Born March 13, 1968 Jen Gunnels, 54. Writer and genre theater critic, the latter a rare thing indeed. She does her reviews for Journal of the Fantastic in the ArtsFoundation: The Review of Science Fiction and New York Review of Science Fiction. With Erin Underwood, she has edited Geek Theater: Anthology of Science Fiction and Fantasy Plays. She’s also an editor at Tor these days where her writers are L. E. Modesitt, Jr., Richard Baker, Kit Reed, Emily Devenport, and F. Paul Wilson.

(11) IT’S A WONDERFUL GENRE. Brian Murphy explains what the fantasy genre would look like, if Tolkien had never written The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings“Fantasy Without Tolkien? Yes That Happened, and Yes It Matters” at DMR Books.

… But I also believe what he said implies that fantasy would not have mattered without Tolkien. If so, this deserves rebuttal. So here goes.

The modern fantasy genre does NOT all come from Tolkien, and it would have arrived even without him. In fact, it already had. And pre-Tolkien fantasy matters.

To set the stage, early fantasists Lord Dunsany, William Morris, George MacDonald, and H. Rider Haggard were writing long before Tolkien. Tolkien himself read and loved many of these authors and his work bears their influence. As it should; much of their work is great.

Sword-and-sorcery existed long before The Lord of the Rings (1954) and even The Hobbit (1939). Starting in the late 20s and early 30s, Robert E. Howard, Clark Ashton Smith, C.L. Moore, and Fritz Leiber produced an amazing body of work that attracted fanbases in pulp magazines Weird Tales and Unknown….

(12) ABOUT OUR PARTNERS. In the Washington Post, Homer Hickam says we will have to work with the Russians at the International Space Station for now, but we should “proceed on our own to carefully resolutely work to decommission” the station. “Our space partnership with Russia can’t go on”.

…In nearly every arena, the Biden administration has imposed harsh sanctions on Russia. The space station should not be immune. It’s time to end our well-intentioned partnership with Russia — even if, as seems almost certain, it would mean the early closing and decommissioning of the space station.

The realpolitik of the International Space Station is that it is not only a symbol of cooperation between us and the Russians, but it also provides a certain amount of diplomatic leverage. The fact is, Russia needs the ISS a lot more than we do.

When the space station began continuous occupancy in 2000, we wanted to learn how to build large structures in space and get experience with lengthy spaceflight. These goals have been accomplished, and now the station is approaching obsolescence, its recently planned life extension to 2030 notwithstanding. With our flourishing commercial space companies, who are already cutting metal on their own future space stations, plus our federal government’s Artemis moon program, the United States is entering a new golden age of space exploration. The Russians, meanwhile, are stuck in the past with antiquated spacecraft and nowhere to go except the ISS.

If we are truly determined to stop Putin’s brutal war, we have to use every lever we’ve got. Unhappily, that includes the space station….

However, a comment from “BilTheGalacticHero” challenges some of Hickam’s facts:

This is a shockingly ignorant and contradictory opinion piece by Homer Hickam. The US commercial spaceflight industry is almost wholly dependent on the ISS for business. No companies are “cutting metal” on commercial space stations. Studies are just now starting. Axiom is creating a module for the ISS but obviously that’s different. On one hand Hickam says we should ditch the station and on the other he says we should keep the station and ditch the Russians. Which is it? Ditching the station is the worst option by far. With proper planning the other ISS partners could operate the station without the Russian segment but that’s not something that can happen overnight. In addition, the Cygness rebost hasn’t happened yet and Cygness alone cannot maintain long term ISS attitude control.

(13) HELLO MY BABY. Saturday Night Live explains why The Princess and the Frog was so bad it ended up on Disney Minus.

(14) VIDEO OF THE DAY. Amber Ruffin says “Marvel’s New Comic Princess Is Racist As Hell”.

Native women have been hyper-sexualized throughout American history, and the consequences have been devastating. Recently, Marvel Comics introduced a new character named Princess Matoaka. Instead of taking the opportunity to show a brave strong Native women, they really let us all down.

[Thanks to Martin Morse Wooster, John King Tarpinian, Andrew Porter, Cora Buhlert, John A Arkansawyer, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, and Mike Kennedy for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day David Shallcross.]

Pixel Scroll 9/22/21 Or I Will Scroll Thee In The Gobberfiles With My Pixelcruncheon, See If I Don’t!

(1) WORKING FOR THE MAN EVERY NIGHT AND DAY. Yesterday’s Scroll picked up The Mary Sue’s report that “Marvel Fired Joe Bennett After Alleged Anti-Semitic Cartoons”. Today Bounding Into Comics reports Bennett is now working for Vox Day’s Arkhaven Comics: “After Being Blacklisted By Marvel Comics, Joe Bennett Joins Arkhaven Comics”. That obviously wasn’t a hard decision for Bennett.

…In a press release, Arkhaven Comics notes they “did not hesitate to take advantage of Bennett’s unexpected availability, and promptly signed the former DC and Marvel illustrator as its lead artist on two series being written by legendary comics writer Chuck Dixon.”

Not only was Bennett the artist for Immortal Hulk, but his resume also includes Savage Hawkman, Deathstroke, and Arrow Season 2.5 among others at DC Comics. 

…Dixon, who has also been subject to a Marvel Comics blacklist since 2002, welcomed Bennett to Arkhaven Comics stating, “It’s a sign of where the American comic industry is at the moment that they would let a powerhouse talent like Joe Bennett go because his personal politics are not in line with their own.”

“I’m looking forward to working with Joe on both of the projects we have in motion at Arkhaven,” he added….

(2) BARBARIAN AT THE GATES. Funcom has purchased the Cabinet Group, which currently holds the trademarks to Conan and most other Robert E. Howard characters. This mainly affects comics and videogames, since there apparently are no movies, TV shows or new books in the works, although they say a game is in development. “Funcom Acquires Full Control of Conan the Barbarian and Dozens of Other IPs”.

…Funcom CEO Rui Casais said he has high ambitions for the IPs and noted at least one unannounced project is already in development. 

“We are currently overseeing the development of an unannounced game which will combine many of the characters in the Robert E. Howard universe,” said Casais. “And if you combine Funcom’s knowledge of games with Heroic Signatures’ knowledge of the TV/entertainment, publishing, and licensing industries, it makes us perfectly placed to take this venture to the next level. It’s exciting times ahead for us and for fans of the IPs.”… 

(3) BES&ST, Lavie Tidhar and Silvia Moreno-Garcia offer an overview of the best sword and sorcery fiction past and present at the Washington Post“Let’s talk about the best sword and sorcery books”.

Lavie: I love the original “Witcher” stories by Andrzej Sapkowski, collected in English as “The Last Wish” in 2007 and translated by Danusia Stok. They were originally published in the Polish magazine Nowa Fantastyka. I got to read “The Last Wish” in proof before it even came out, but I don’t know that anyone then expected it would become as big as it did. For a time, it was nearly titled “The Hexer” but, hexer or witcher, Sapkowski’s Geralt of Rivia is a worthy successor to its earlier influences….

(4) HE CALLED IT. Goodman Games has a post on Fritz Leiber and Fafhrd and the Grey Mouser by James Maliszewski: “Fritz Leiber, H.P. Lovecraft, and the Origin of Sword-and-Sorcery Stories”.

In the May 1961 issue of the fantasy fanzine Amra, future stalwart of Appendix N, Michael Moorcock, wrote a letter to the editor in which he proposed the term “epic fantasy” for the literary genre pioneered by Robert E. Howard in his stories of Conan the Cimmerian. In the July issue of that same year, however, Fritz Leiber offered another term in reply, writing, “I feel more certain than ever that this field should be called the sword-and-sorcery story.” Leiber elaborates a bit on his coinage, adding that this term “accurately describes the points of culture-level and supernatural element,” as well as being useful in distinguishing these stories from other popular pulp genres….

(5) WHAT BELONGS IN THAT BOX? Also at Goodman Games, — now that we have a name for these stories, how do we define sword and sorcery? Brian Murphy discusses the problem in “Sifting Through a Sword-and-Sorcery Definition”.

…But, in the same essay Moorcock began refining these broad parameters, focusing on a subset of fantasy stories “which could hardly be classified as SF, and they are stories of high adventure, generally featuring a central hero very easy to identify oneself with …. tales told for the tale’s sake… rooted in legendry, classic romance, mythology, folklore, and dubious ancient works of “History.” These were quest stories, Moorcock added, in which the hero is thwarted by villains but against all odds does what the reader expects of him….

(6) RACISM IN S&S. This isn’t new, but Charles R. Saunders’ famous essay “Die, Black Dog, Die” about the latent and not so latent racism in sword and sorcery and fantasy in general from the 1970s is available again online here: “Revisiting ‘Die, Black Dog!’” at Reindeer Motel. (It’s posted as a single image file, so no excerpt here.)

(7) BACKSTAGE TO THE FUTURE. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster, Designated Financial Times Reader.] In the Financial Times, Sarah Hemming reviews Back To The Future: The Musical, which recently opened in London.  Roger Bart, who played Frankenstein in Young Frankenstein, plays Doc.

“As in the film, restless teenager Marty McFly escapes his humdrum home life by hanging out with doc and ends up taking the wheel of the DeLorean for an early voyage.  But he gets more than he bargains for when that voyage lands him back in 1955 and in the hugely awkward position of meeting his teenage mum–who promptly develops a crush on him.  Gale’s script gleefully replicates the film (with a few wise excisions, such as the Libyan terrorists), while relishing the irony that from 2021, 1985 looks like old hat and that, for many in the audience, the whole show is an exercise in nostalgia–coupled with curiosity to see time travel on stage…

…A mix of pastiche and sincerity characterises the show.  The songs (Alan Silvestri and Glen Ballard) channel the periods–such as a peppy Fifties number in praise of gasoline and DDT–and there’s a nice streak of self-mockery.”

The website for the show is Back to the Future the Musical.

(8) SUPER-OVERRATED. James Davis Nicoll has decided there are “Five Superpowers That Just Aren’t As Fun as They Sound”.

Who among us has not dreamed of having superpowers? We are urged thereto by the avalanche of comics, movies, novels, and roleplaying games featuring abilities beyond mortal ken. Yet not all superpowers are created equal. Some superpowers require secondary superpowers to survive.  Other abilities have disquieting consequences for their possessors.

I’m not going to talk about superhumans with powers that would kill them or their friends if exercised. No one dreams of being any of the following:

  • X-Bomb Betty (can self-detonate, producing a 150 million megaton explosion (once))
  • Hazmat (lethal radioactive aura)
  • Absorbing Man (can duplicate the properties of materials he touches; see footnote)

I’m talking, here, about powers that appear on their surface to be useful but later reveal themselves to be harmful to, or at least extremely alienating for, those who wield them. Below are my musings about five such examples…

(9) NOW, THE NEWS. Also, James Davis Nicoll recommends this comedy sketch on Tik-Tok as an interpretation of “the Canadian election seen through the lens of the Matrix”.

(10) GIANT PEACH OF A DEAL. Netflix now owns the rights to Roald Dahl’s stories. Roundup at Adweek: “Netflix Acquires Roald Dahl Story Company, Plans Extensive Universe”.

The U.S. streaming giant announced Wednesday it has bought the Roald Dahl Story Company, which manages the rights to the British novelist’s characters and stories. It comes three years after Netflix signed a deal to create a slate of new animated productions based on the works of Dahl. (CNBC)

Under the previous deal, Taika Waititi is working on Roald Dahl animated series projects for Netflix, covering Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and its sequel, Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator. That’s in addition to two different versions of Matilda, including a film version of Matilda the Musical and an animated series, plus plans to make a BFG cartoon. (The Verge)

(11) 1001, A FACE ODYSSEY. “What About the Heroine’s Journey?” asks the New York Times in its review of Maria Tatar’s The Heroine With 1,001 Faces.

…[Joseph] Campbell’s ideas have rippled out in the culture for decades — especially after a popular series hosted by Bill Moyers in 1988 — but he has long demanded a feminist response. It would be hard to conjure up a more suitable person to provide one than Maria Tatar, the Harvard professor who is one of the world’s leading scholars on folklore.

Her new book, “The Heroine With 1,001 Faces,” out this month from Liveright, is an answer to Campbell, though she is careful not to frame it as an assault. “Even though my title suggests that I’m writing a counternarrative, or maybe an attack on him, I think of it as more of a sequel,” Tatar said in a video interview from her home in Cambridge, Mass.

She is stirring what J.R.R. Tolkien once called the “cauldron of story” in search of the girls and women, some silenced and some forgotten, some from the Iliad and some from Netflix, who live in Campbell’s blind spot. The reader jumps from Arachne’s battle with Athena to the escape of Bluebeard’s trickster wife to Pippi Longstocking and Nancy Drew and even to Carrie Bradshaw typing away on her laptop.

(12) LIGHTEN UP. Sarah Gailey is joined by Sophie Lee Mae and Jaxton Kimble to play with this new writing prompt in “Building Beyond: That’s Just Super” at Stone Soup:

Exposure to fluorescent lights gives people a 98% chance of developing a superpower under conditions of duress.

(13) J. RANDOLPH COX (1936-2021). Randy Cox died in a nursing home on September 14 reports Mysteryfile.com. Cox edited The Dime Novel Round-Up for over 20 year. He wrote several books including Man of Magic & Mystery: A Guide to the Work of Walter B. Gibson, about the man who created The Shadow; Flashgun Casey: Crime Photographer, co-authored with David S. Siegel, about the character originally created for Black Mask by George Harmon Coxe; Masters of Mystery and Detective Fiction: An Annotated Bibliography;  and The Dime Novel Companion: A Source Book. He received the Munsey Award at PulpFest in 2014.

(14) MEMORY LANE.

  • 1964 – Fifty-seven years ago on NBC, The Man from U.N.C.L.E. premiered. It was created by Sam Rolfe who was responsible for Have Gun, Will Travel and Norman Felton who directed All My Children, the first daytime soap which debuted in the Forties. It starred Robert Vaughn, David McCallum and Leo G. Carroll. It would last four seasons of one hundred and five episodes, most in color. Harlan Ellison scripted two episodes, “The Sort of Do-It-Yourself Dreadful Affair” and “The Pieces of Fate Affair.” A reunion film, Return of the Man from U.N.C.L.E. with the subtitle of The Fifteen Years Later Affair with Vaughn and McCallum reprising their roles with Patrick Macnee replacing Leo G. Carroll, who had died, as the head of U.N.C.L.E. There was a film reboot recently that was very well received. 

(15) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born September 22, 1917 — Samuel A. Peeples. Memory Alpha says that he’s the person that gave Roddenberry the catch phrase he used to sell Star Trek to the network: “[As] fellow writer Harlan Ellison has credited him with the creation of one of the most famous catch phrases in Star Trek lore, “[Gene Roddenberry] got ‘Wagon Train to the stars’ from Sam Peeples. That’s what Gene said to me. They were at dinner and Sam Peeples, of course, was a fount of ideas, and Gene said something or other about wanting to do a space show and Sam said, ‘Yeah? Why don’t you do Wagon Train to the stars?’” (Died 1997.)
  • Born September 22, 1952 — Paul Kincaid, 69. A British science fiction critic. He stepped down as chairman of the Arthur C. Clarke Award in April 2006 after twenty years. He is the co-editor with Andrew M. Butler of The Arthur C. Clarke Award: A Critical Anthology. He’s also written A Very British Genre: A Short History of British Fantasy and Science Fiction and What It Is We Do When We Read Science Fiction. His latest publication is The Unstable Realities of Christopher Priest.
  • Born September 22, 1954 — Shari Belafonte, 67. Daughter of Harry Belafonte, I first spotted her on Beyond Reality, a Canadian series that showed up when I was living in upstate Vermont. You most likely saw her as Elizabeth Trent in Babylon 5: Thirdspace as that’s her most well known genre performance. 
  • Born September 22, 1957 — Jerry Oltion, 64. His Nebula Award winning Abandon in Place novella is the beginning of the Cheap Hyperdrive sequence, a really fun Space Opera undertaking. Abandon in Place was nominated for a Hugo at LoneStarCon 2 (2013). The Astronaut from Wyoming was nominated for a Hugo at Chicon 2000. 
  • Born September 22, 1971 — Elizabeth Bear, 50. First, let’s all wish her a speedy recovery from her cancer surgery which was this week. Her first sff series was a superb trilogy, which might be considered cyberpunk, centered on a character named Jenny Casey. She’s a very prolific writer; I’m fond of her Promethean AgeNew Amsterdam and Karen Memory series. She won an Astounding Award for Best New Writer, a Hugo Award for Best Short Story for “Tideline”, and a Hugo for Best Novelette for “Shoggoths in Bloom”. One of only five writers to win multiple Hugo Awards for fiction after winning the Astounding Award! Very impressive indeed! It is worth noting that she was one of the regular panelists on now sadly defunct podcast SF Squeecast, which won the 2012 and 2013 Hugo Awards for “Best Fancast”. (CE)
  • Born September 22, 1981 — Maria Ashley Eckstein, 40. She’s voice of Ahsoka Tano on Star Wars: The Clone WarsStar Wars Rebels, and Star Wars Forces of Destiny. She even has a voice only cameo as Ashoka in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker. And she voiced the character in the audiobook of E. K. Johnston’s Star Wars: Ahsoka.
  • Born September 22, 1982 — Billie Piper, 39. Best remembered as the companion of the Ninth and Tenth Doctors, she also played the dual roles Brona Croft and Lily Frankenstein in Penny Dreadful. She played Veronica Beatrice “Sally” Lockhart in the BBC adaptation of Philip Pullman’s The Ruby in the Smoke and The Shadow in The North.
  • Born September 22, 1985 — Tatiana Maslany, 36. Best known for her superb versatility in playing more than a dozen different clones in the Orphan Black which won a Hugo for Dramatic Presentation (Short Form) at the  73rd World Science Fiction Convention for its “By Means Which Have Never Yet Been Tried“ episode. She received a Best Actress Emmy and more than two dozen other nominations and awards. She’ll be playing Jennifer Walters / She-Hulk in the upcoming Marvel She-Hulk series.

(16) SHARP POINTY TEETH. Of course it’s a vampire movie. Was there ever any doubt? Night Teeth coming to Netflix on October 20.

(17) IT CANNOT BE DENIED. From a book review in today’s New York Times:

“(Turid is among those names, like Shakespeare’s Titus, for which it is crucial, when spelling, not to omit the second vowel.)”

(18) DANGEROUS HISTORY. A genre study titled Dangerous Visions and New Worlds: Radical Science Fiction, 1950 to 1985 edited by Andrew Nette and Iain McIntyre is available for pre-order from PM Press.

…It starts with progressive authors who rose to prominence in the conservative 1950s, challenging the so-called Golden Age of science fiction and its linear narratives of technological breakthroughs and space-conquering male heroes. The book then moves through the 1960s, when writers, including those in what has been termed the New Wave, shattered existing writing conventions and incorporated contemporary themes such as modern mass media culture, corporate control, growing state surveillance, the Vietnam War, and rising currents of counterculture, ecological awareness, feminism, sexual liberation, and Black Power. The 1970s, when the genre reflected the end of various dreams of the long Sixties and the faltering of the postwar boom, is also explored along with the first half of the 1980s, which gave rise to new subgenres, such as cyberpunk.

Dangerous Visions and New Worlds contains over twenty chapters written by contemporary authors and critics, and hundreds of full-color cover images, including thirteen thematically organised cover selections. New perspectives on key novels and authors, such as Octavia Butler, Ursula K. Le Guin, Philip K. Dick, Harlan Ellison, John Wyndham, Samuel Delany, J.G. Ballard, John Brunner, Judith Merril, Barry Malzberg, Joanna Russ, and many others are presented alongside excavations of topics, works, and writers who have been largely forgotten or undeservedly ignored.

Here’s a sample page that was posted to the book’s Kickstarter site:

(19) THE QUICK SAND AND THE DEAD. Juliette Kayyem remembers a hazard much on the minds of young TV viewers back in the day:

Her tweet inspired E. Gruberman to round up a zillion YouTube links to relevant scenes from old shows of TV heroes up to their hips in quicksand.

(20) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In “Transformers:  Age of Extinction Pitch Meeting” on Screen Rant, Ryan George says in the fourth Transformers movie, Sam Witwicky disappears without an explanation because Shia LeBouef didn’t want to be in Transformer movies anymore. The writer explains that the Transformers are powered by “transformium,” “which can change into any product placement we want.” but the third act will be “our usual visual mess” but will feature “guns, boobs, America, victory.”

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Cora Buhlert, Andrew Porter, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, and Michael Toman for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to contributing editor of the day Jayn.]

Pixel Scroll 7/22/21 Look At My Fingers: Four Pixels, Four Scrolls. Zero Pixels, Zero Scrolls!

(1) WILD TALLAHASSEE. At the link, access six months of Jeff VanderMeer’s “Wild Tallahassee” urban wilderness columns for the Tallahassee Democrat. VanderMeer says, “I also hope that if you like my rewilding posts on twitter (hashtag #VanderWild) or these columns that you’ll consider buying one of my novels from Midtown Reader.”

The first column in the list is: “Adventure begins with a raccoon at the door”.

I knew we’d bought the right house in Tallahassee when, two years ago, a raccoon rang our doorbell at four in the morning. Granted, the doorbell glows blue at night and, for some reason, is at waist height. But, still, this seemed like something that belonged in the Guinness Book of World Records for urban wildlife.

Dear reader, I hope you understand that we did not answer the door and it was only from the muddy pawprints we saw when we ventured out at a more reasonable hour…that we understood who had visited us….

(2) SCIENCE FICTION STATE OF MIND. “The Realism of Our Times: Kim Stanley Robinson on How Science Fiction Works” is an interview conducted by John Plotz for Public Books last September.

John Plotz (JP): You have said that science fiction is the realism of our times. How do people hear that statement today? Do they just hear the word COVID and automatically start thinking about dystopia?

Kim Stanley Robinson (KSR): People sometimes think that science fiction is about predicting the future, but that isn’t true. Since predicting the future is impossible, that would be a high bar for science fiction to have to get over. It would always be failing. And in that sense it always is failing. But science fiction is more of a modeling exercise, or a way of thinking.

Another thing I’ve been saying for a long time is something slightly different: We’re in a science fiction novel now, which we are all cowriting together. What do I mean? That we’re all science fiction writers because of a mental habit everybody has that has nothing to do with the genre. Instead, it has to do with planning and decision making, and how people feel about their life projects. For example, you have hopes and then you plan to fulfill them by doing things in the present: that’s utopian thinking. Meanwhile, you have middle-of-the-night fears that everything is falling apart, that it’s not going to work. And that’s dystopian thinking.

So there’s nothing special going on in science fiction thinking. It’s something that we’re all doing all the time.

And world civilization right now is teetering on the brink: it could go well, but it also could go badly. That’s a felt reality for everybody. So in that sense also, science fiction is the realism of our time. Utopia and dystopia are both possible, and both staring us in the face.

(3) THE TRANSOM IS OPEN. The Dark Magazine is accepting submissions. Do you have what editors Silvia Moreno-Garcia, Michael Kelly, and Sean Wallace are looking for?

(4) DUNE TRAILER. Warner Bros. has dropped the main trailer for Dune, set for an October 22 release. Here’s the story they’re telling:

A mythic and emotionally charged hero’s journey, “Dune” tells the story of Paul Atreides, a brilliant and gifted young man born into a great destiny beyond his understanding, who must travel to the most dangerous planet in the universe to ensure the future of his family and his people. As malevolent forces explode into conflict over the planet’s exclusive supply of the most precious resource in existence—a commodity capable of unlocking humanity’s greatest potential—only those who can conquer their fear will survive.

(5) PATTEN IN HUMBLE BUNDLE. The late Fred Patten’s essay collection Watching Anime, Reading Manga is part of Humble Bundle’s new Japanese Culture bundle: Humble Book Bundle: Japanese Culture & Language by Stone Bridge Press. The entire 26-item bundle includes four books about anime and manga. Pay at least $18 to get all of them, pay less to get fewer items, or pay extra to give more to publishers, Humble, and charity.

Discover the rich history and culture of Japan!

There are thousands of years of rich history and culture to be found in Japan, and Stone Bridge Press wants to help you discover plenty of it with books like Crazy for Kanji: A Student’s Guide to the Wonderful World of Japanese CharactersFamily Crests of Japan, and Japaneseness: A Guide to Values and Virtues. Plus, your purchase helps support the Book Industry Charitable Foundation and a charity of your choice!

(6) 2021 SEIUN AWARDS. Locus Online’s 2021 Seiun Awards post has translations into English of all the titles up for Best Japanese Novel and Best Japanese Story, as well as the correct English titles of the works nominated for Best Translated Novel and Best Translated Story (i.e. of works into the Japanese language.) And I don’t! So hie thee hence.

The award’s own official website also lists the Multimedia, Comic, Artist, Non-Fiction, and “Free” (other) categories winners.

The awards will be presented at SF60, the 60th Japan SF Convention, scheduled for August 21-22, 2021 in Takamatsu city, Kagawa prefecture.

(7) THE STORY BEHIND THE STORY. The Astounding Analog Companion conducted a “Q&A with Rosemary Claire Smith”.

AE: How much or little do current events impact your writing?

RCS: Looking back, it strikes me that “The Next Frontier” was born of a desire to live in a world with greater cooperation between nations on important projects requiring global efforts. I took international cooperation much more for granted in the 1990s and 2000s than I do now.

(8) MEMORIES. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In the July 17 Financial Times, Henry Mance interviews Lord Andrew Lloyd Webber and his wife, Lady Madeleine Lloyd Webber.

‘Do we mention the other lowest of the low moments?’ says Madeleine. “The Cats film.  I’ve never seen Andrew so upset.’  He had sold the rights and was sidelined.  ‘I’ve never known anything so ghastly.  It was disgraceful, the whole process,” he (Andrew Lloyd Webber) says.  ‘I wrote a letter to the head of Universal Pictures, Donna Langley, which I didn’t even get (a response to) and I said, ‘this will be a car crash beyond belief if you don’t listen to me.’

He blames the director Tom Hooper.  ‘You’ve got to have somebody who understands the rhythm of music…I had right of approval over some of the musical elements.  But they really rode roughshod over everything.’ Things were so bad that he had to console himself by buying a Havanese puppy.

(9) LUCKY SEVEN. Cora Buhlert was interviewed by Stars End, a podcast about the works of Isaac Asimov in general and Foundation in particular: Episode 7 – Stars End: A Foundation Podcast.

…Cora is an amazingly prolific and eclectic writer. So prolific that Jon joked about her owning “Asimov’s Typewriter” and we suddenly had a new imaginary episode of Warehouse 13 in our heads. So eclectic that no matter your tastes there’s a good chance that she’s written something that you’d enjoy. If you like stories about galactic empires like Foundation, she’s written two full series you might like, In Love and War and Shattered Empire.  She’s also a two-time Hugo Finalist for Best Fan Writer.

(10) MARS IN CULTURE. “Exploring the Red Planet through History and Culture” with Nick Smith (past President of LASFS) is hosted by the Pasadena Museum of History. The free virtual presentation* is available for viewing Thursday, July 22 through Sunday, July 25.

The planet Mars has long been connected to humankind through religions, literature, and science. Join Nick Smith, guest curator of PMH’s 2018 exhibition Dreaming the Universe, to explore our fascination with Earth’s neighboring planet, and discover some of the many ways Mars is part of our culture. 

*Pre-recorded presentation from Spring ArtNight 2021.

(11) HAPPY BIRTHDAY ARNIE KATZ. Alan White posted a photo on Facebook of his wife, DeDee, presenting Arnie Katz, 76, with a fanboy cake.

(12) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

  • 2016 – Five years ago on this date, Star Trek Beyond premiered. The third film in the rebooted series, and the thirteenth Trek film so far released. It directed by Justin Lin from the script from Simon Pegg and Doug Jung. It was produced by J. J. Abrams, Roberto Orci Lindsey Weber and Justin Lin. It starred  cast of Chris Pine, John Cho, Simon Pegg, Zachary Quinto, Zoe Saldana, Karl Urban, Anton Yelchin (one of his last roles before his death) and Idris Elba.  Almost unanimously critics loved it and audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes currently give it an excellent rating of eighty percent. It however was a box office failure losing money as it debuted in a crowded market that had the likes of Jason Bourne and Suicide Squad

(13) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born July 22, 1926 Bernhardt J. Hurwood. Author of The Man from T.O.M.C.A.T series which is more or less soft porn. He also did the Pulp series, the Invisibles series. He also had a deep and abiding fascination with the supernatural, publishing myriad non-fiction works on it including Passport to the Supernatural: An Occult Compendium from All Ages and Many LandsVampires, Werewolves and Ghouls and Monsters and Nightmares. (Died 1987.)
  • Born July 22, 1932 Tom Robbins, 89. Author of such novels as Even Cowgirls Get the Blues and Another Roadside Attraction. ISFDB lists everything he’s done as genre and who am I to argue with them on this occasion at least? Well I will. Now Jitterbug Perfumethat’s definitely genre! Cowgirls Get the Blues got made into a rather excellent film by Gus Van Sant and stars Uma Thurman, Lorraine Bracco, and Keanu Reeves. Interesting note: Still Life with Woodpecker made the long list at one point for the Prometheus Award for Best Libertarian SF Novel. 
  • Born July 22, 1940 Alex Trebek. Remembered as the genial long term Host of Jeopardy!, he was but one genre credit to his name. It’s as a Man in Black who Agent Mulder says looks incredibly like himself  in the “Jose Chung’s From Outer Space”. I actually think it’s only his acting role. (Died 2020.)
  • Born July 22, 1941 George Clinton, 70. Founder and leader of the bands Parliament and Funkadelic, who incorporated science-fictional themes in his music throughout his career, perhaps most notably with his 1975 hit album, Mothership Connection, which was a huge influence on afrofuturism. (Xtifr)
  • Born July 22, 1941 Vaughn Bode. Winner of Best Fan Artist Hugo at St. Louiscon. (He was nominated for Best Professional Artist as well but that honor went to Jack Gaughan.) He has been credited as an influence on Bakshi’s Wizards and Lord of the Rings. Currently there at least three collections of his artwork, Deadbone EroticaCheech Wizard and Cheech Wizard‘s Book of Me in print. (Died 1975.)
  • Born July 22, 1962 Rena Owen, 59. New Zealand native who appeared as Taun We in Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith as Nee Alavar. She also has minor roles in A.I. Artificial IntelligenceThe Crow: Wicked PrayerThe Iron Man and The Last Witch Hunter. She had a lead role in Siren, a series about merfolk that lasted for three seasons and thirty six episodes. Set in the state of Washington, it was, no surprise, filmed in British Columbia. 
  • Born July 22, 1964 Bonnie Langford, 57. She was a computer programmer from the 20th century who was a Companion of the Sixth and Seventh Doctors. She also appeared in the thirtieth anniversary special Dimensions in Time. If you’re really generous in defining genre, she was in Wombling Free as Felicity Kim Frogmorton. Other than that, Who was all she did for our end of the universe. 
  • Born July 22, 1972 Colin Ferguson, 49. Best known for being Sheriff Jack Carter on  Eureka. Damn I miss that series which amazingly won no Hugos. (I just discovered the series is on the Peacock streaming service which I subscribe to so I’m going to watch it again!) He’s also been in Are You Afraid of the DarkThe HungerThe X-FilesThe Outer Limits, the Eureka “Hide and Seek” webisodes (anyone seen these?) and The Vampire Diaries

(14) COMICS SECTION.

  • At The Far Side, farmers have another visit from those darned saucer-flying kleptomaniacs.

(15) MORE MCU ON DISNEY+. Slashfilm talks about “Ms. Marvel and Hawkeye Premiere Set for This Year on Disney+”.

Marvel’s Vice President of film production, Victoria Alonsorecently gave us the news of the studio’s grand ambitions for expanding into the world of animation…and she’s not stopping there….

According to Variety, Alonso confirmed that both Hawkeye and Ms. Marvel will be appearing on Disney+ for subscribers before the year is out….

Hawkeye sees the return of Jeremy Renner’s Clint Barton. Similar to Black Widow, however, a younger star in Hailee Steinfeld’s Kate Bishop will also be co-starring and appears set to take the reins from the much more established bow-wielding Avenger. And don’t forget, Florence Pugh’s Yelena is also set as a recurring character in the series, making the connections between the two productions even more apparent.

Ms. Marvel, meanwhile, will serve as the debut for Kamala Khan (Iman Vellani) and strengthen ties between Disney+ and the Captain Marvel movies. Brie Larson is sure to be a mainstay in the MCU for years and years to come, of course, so this will likely resemble some Miles Morales and Peter Parker mentor/mentee storylines rather than a straightforward passing of the torch.

(16) REVIVING SWORD & SORCERY. [Item by Cora Buhlert.] Brian Murphy, who’s written a non-fiction book about sword and sorcery, which was on my Hugo ballot this year and which won the Robert E. Howard Foundation Award, muses about what sword and sorcery needs to experience a revival:  “What sword-and-sorcery needs” at The Silver Key.

3. A cohesive community, perhaps organized around a fanzine. Guys like Jason Ray Carney are building this right now, with the likes of Whetstone, an amateur magazine that also has a Discord group. I belong to several good Facebook groups, and there are some reasonably well-trafficked Reddit groups and the like. You’ve got the Swords of REH Proboards and a few other hangouts for the diehards. But it all feels very disparate. Sword-and-sorcery lacks a common gathering space and watering hole, like Amra used to serve. Leo Grin’s now defunct Cimmerian journal is the type of publication I’m thinking of.

(17) OCTOTHORPE. Episode 36 of the Octothorpe podcast is now available, titled: “Worldcon Fire Service”.

We answer two letters of comment before we do a deep dive into convention communications. We plug Fantasy Book Swap and chat about books we loved as kids before wrapping up.

Here’s a neat patch to go with it.

(18) JEOPARDY! Andrew Porter witness this item trip up a contestant on tonight’s Jeopardy!

Final Jeopardy: category: 1970s Movie Scenes

Answer: Dan O’Bannon based a scene in the film on his own Crohn’s Disease, which felt like things inside him fighting to get out.

Wrong question: What is ‘The Exorcist”?

Right question: What is “Alien”?

(19) TAKING THE MICKEY. “The National Labor Relations Board grants a reprieve to inflatable rats” reports the New York Times.

On Wednesday, the National Labor Relations Board ruled that unions can position large synthetic props like rats, often used to communicate displeasure over employment practices, near a work site even when the targeted company is not directly involved in a labor dispute.

While picketing companies that deal with employers involved in labor disputes — known as a secondary boycott — is illegal under labor law, the board ruled that the use of oversized rats, which are typically portrayed as ominous creatures with red eyes and fangs, is not a picket but a permissible effort to persuade bystanders.

Union officials had stationed the rat in question, a 12-foot-tall specimen, close to the entrance of a trade show in Elkhart, Ind., in 2018, along with two banners. One banner accused a company showcasing products there, Lippert Components, of “harboring rat contractors” — that is, doing business with contractors that do not use union labor.

Lippert argued that the rat’s use was illegal coercion because the creature was menacing and was intended to discourage people from entering the trade show. But the board found that the rat was a protected form of expression.

“Courts have consistently deemed banners and inflatable rats to fall within the realm of protected speech, rather than that of intimidation and the like,” the ruling said.

The rise of the rodents, often known as “Scabby the Rat,” dates to the early 1990s, when an Illinois-based company began manufacturing them for local unions intent on drawing attention to what they considered suspect practices, such as using nonunion labor. The company later began making other inflatable totems, like fat cats and greedy pigs, for the same purpose….

(20) DULCET TONES. Add this to your font of trivia knowledge: “Mark Hamill says he’s secretly been in every Star Wars movie since 2015” at Yahoo!

Everybody knows that Mark Hamill is in Star Wars, unless you only know him from the credits of Batman: The Animated Series and have just had your mind blown, but did you know that he’s also in a lot of Star Wars movies? Like, almost all of them? Okay, yeah, you probably knew that as well, but we’re not talking about Luke Skywalker. We’re talking about an untold number of droids and aliens and other puppets who shared the distinct pleasure of having Mark Hamill’s voice come out of their mouth holes….

(21) CHAIR PAIR. In Episode 57 of the Two Chairs Talking podcast, “From a skewed perspective”, just out, David Grigg and Perry Middlemiss discuss the nominees for Best Novella at this year’s Hugo Awards, then talk about some more recent reading.

(22) POOCH UNSCREWED. Air & Space says “New Evidence Shows That Gus Grissom Did Not Accidentally Sink His Own Spacecraft 60 Years Ago”. This is a brand new article, although I saw one pundit say this info has been out for years. Be that as it may – it is news to me!

It’s one of the great mysteries of the early space age. How did Mercury astronaut Gus Grissom, after a near-perfect flight on just the second U.S. space mission, inadvertently “blow” the escape hatch prematurely on his Liberty Bell 7 capsule, causing it to fill with water and sink in the Atlantic? In fact, did Grissom blow the hatch? Or was some technical glitch to blame?

Grissom himself insisted he hadn’t accidentally triggered the explosive bolts designed to open the hatch during his ocean recovery. His NASA colleagues, by and large, believed him. Years later, Apollo flight director Gene Kranz told historians Francis French and Colin Burgess, “If Gus says he didn’t do it, he didn’t do it.”…

(23) OUT ON A LIMB. Do you know Lego has come out with a LEGO Bonsai Tree and a Lego flower arrangement for Lego lovers who aren’t good at dealing with plants? But they better be good at assembling Legos – this item has 878 pieces!

(24) FROM PITCH MEETING. This video from Ryan George has him playing Chim Ontario, a seven-time Oscar winner who specializes in crotch composition because “you have to specialize in something.”  His eighteen-hour days don’t leave him time for relationships or children, but he sold one of his Oscars on eBay and got a nice sleeping bag! — “THE Movie Special Effects Tutorial | Pro Tips by Pitch Meeting”.

[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, Cora Buhlert, Bruce D. Arthurs, David K.M. Klaus, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, Michael Toman, and  John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to contributing editor of the day Jamoche.]